The Sutton and my new white jeans

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Guess what?! I’m a contestant on the Super Online Sewing Match II! I want to thank Beth and Kristin of Sew Mama Sew for selecting me as one of the ten contestants. It is truly an honor and a big surprise. So, here in this post, I present Challenge #1, the Sutton Blouse by True Bias.

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As soon as the Sutton Blouse was revealed as the challenge pattern, I knew my inspiration would be my new pair of white jeans. These jeans are a big deal for me. I’m stepping out of my comfort zone. I have never had a pair of white jeans nor did I think I ever would buy some. I didn’t think my white pants wearing would go beyond the ones I made for my Good Life Shirt. But then my children’s third grade teacher, and now Facebook friend, extolled the virtues of white pants to me and insisted I should have them as a summer staple. I opened my mind to this idea, and found a great fitting pair at Talbots.

I instantly decided I wanted my soon-to-made Sutton and my new jeans to create a fresh, new summer outfit.

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HERE IS MY STORY OF ROUND ONE

I received this first challenge on Wednesday morning during my busiest “work” week of the summer. I was co-director of a morning puppet camp and director of an afternoon sewing camp for kids. The project was due the following Tuesday. If I had not been tied down, I would have high tailed it into Los Angeles, 60 miles from my home, to buy fabric. So, appreciatively, I took advantage of the offer from Harts Fabric online store. Harts’ customer service was fantastic. After placing my order, they called me up the next morning, while I was at my camp, to deliver the unfortunate news that they only had one yard left of the fabric I had ordered. I quickly made a second choice so the fabric would still ship Thursday afternoon with an arrival date of Saturday. I did have some concerns about drape, as I switched from a rayon to a cotton voile. But I thought the print would be suitable for the center front seam on the pattern. I ordered a contrasting solid voile for the yoke.

Saturday arrives, and so does my fabric. I am free all weekend to sew. No muslin for me. I’m diving right in. I never make muslins. Only on my wedding dress, my daughter’s prom dress, and my cousin’s daughter’s Irish dance dress.

Come Sunday morning, after about my fourth try-on, when all was finished but the hem, I had to finally confront the fact that the line that was created by the contrasting solid yoke fabric, in combination with stiffness of the voile, made me look like a linebacker. The sleeves stuck out straight. I stopped and took the dog for a walk.

While I was on my walk, I made the decision that I must start over. I couldn’t submit something I didn’t feel good about. Afterall, this was my time to shine!

OK, there’s something I haven’t told you, but now is the time. Back to Thursday evening – while my fabric from Harts was in transit, I was looking through my closet for trims to use at my sewing camp. In a bag, I stumbled upon two pieces of mystery silk, meaning I had no recollection of how they came into my possession or that I even had them. I assume they came from my mom, because she will often accept sewing stuff from her friends who are cleaning out their closets, thinking I might be interested in them. Each piece was about two yards. This vintage silk was kind of retro hip and grandma-ish at the same time. I immediately thought, wow, combining these fabrics together would make a unique Sutton. But my Harts fabric was on the way, and I felt obligated to use it. So I suppressed any more thoughts about the silk.

Let’s return to Sunday morning. What I really decided was, not only was I starting over, I was going to use the mystery silk!  Call it fate or some sort of a Devine intervention I found that silk when I did. It was meant for my Sutton!

I knew sewing on silk would be a challenge, but it would give me the drape for the fit I desired. I sewed slowly, and did a lot of hand basting.

Since this was a contest, I followed the instructions exactly including all of the seam finishes. This is something I don’t normally do. Just like you, I have my own way of doing things. I am happy to say, I found these instructions easy to follow, the clearest of any indie pattern I have tried so far. Thank you, True Bias! The only thing I changed was the hem. I did this by hand because the the silk did not lend itself well to machine hemming. After carefully hand basting the sleeve hem, I did the 1/4″ machine hem, and it ruffled the fabric. I actually ended up turning it in one more time and doing a hand hem. Having done this, I knew I would hand hem the bottom, also.

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Front inside peek.

The neck has a bias tape finish that is done before sewing the front seam together. The front center seam and yoke seams are constructed as french seams.

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Back inside peek.

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Side seams

The side seams are finished by serging the edge, ironing under, and stitching. Then the seam is stitched at 3/8″. A french seam cannot be done here as the seam allowances must be kept separate for the slit at the bottom and for ease of construction at the underarm.

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There is a high-low hem with a slit.

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I cut a straight size 6. The only alteration I made was shortening the length on the pattern pieces by 3/4″. I am very pleased with the fit.

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During Round One of the Super Online Sewing Match, I have: tried a pattern that I never would have otherwise, sewed up some silk that probably would have yellowed in it’s bag, made a perfect top for my new white jeans, and connected with some super gals in the online sewing community.

Harts Fabrics, you are awesome. And the fabrics you sent me were awesome too, just not right for my Sutton. I definitely will visit your store the next time I’m in Santa Cruz, which I hope will be soon!

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The Goddess Dress

I was super excited to make, and then blog about this dress. But when all was said and done, my vision of how it would look on me was far from what I saw in the mirror. So in the closet it went. Maybe to never be worn and/or blogged about. But I’ve had a change of heart. I thought a lot lately about what blogging is all about. What I want my blog to be. Is it just to show off a perfectly crafted project? Or is it to share a story and maybe some imperfect truths. I think the later is far more interesting. So here is my Fresh Make #28, a drapey, rayon maxi dress.

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The pattern I used is McCalls 6074, purchased on sale at JoAnn’s for $1.40. I bought it several months ago thinking it would be a great pattern to add to my summer dress stash. I was attracted to the gathering under the bust which adds a bit of fullness to the body of the dress. I thought this would lessen the possibility of showing bumps and lumps under a stretchy jersey knit.

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I love to dye fabric as much as I love to sew. For this dress, I began with a beautiful, white rayon jersey from Dharma Trading Co. I have used this fabric for other projects and actually had several yards left in my stash. This fabric is a nice weight, drapes beautifully and looks like new after every washing. I lay it flat to dry, and the wrinkles disappear while it dries! I dyed it twice with procion dyes, again from Dharma Trading Co. I won’t go into the dyeing techniques on this post. But if you’re interested, just ask!

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I finished the neckline, sleeves caps, armholes, and hem with a double needle. I sewed the dress with 100% cotton thread so it would dye also. You can see the polyester thread in my serger does not take the dye.
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I first dyed the fabric “Tangerine” while it was tied with marbles and rubber bands. Then I dyed it in “Deep Yellow.”
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LET’S BE HONEST:
1. This pattern is labeled Easy, which it is if you are experienced with sewing on knits. There is no differentiated instructions for sewing with knits in this pattern. Generally, there never is with big 4 patterns. You, as a sewist, would just need to know what techniques would be appropriate for the knit you choose.

2. I cut a size 14. The only change I made was adding 5/8″ around the neckline. I did this on a hunch that it might be too low for me, and I’m glad I did.

3. I choose to make version with the sleeve cap just for a little variety. But I not sure I’m a big fan of the actual result. At least on me. I would like them to lay flatter on my arm. This fabric is extremely stretchy, and it stretched at the edge when I hemmed it with the double needle. I steamed it back to shape as best I could, but there is still some extra fullness.

4. The sewing of the elastic casing and attaching the elastic on the design feature under the bust is not my proudest sewing moment. Sewing a little stretchy casing on an equally stretchy larger piece is not easy. Even though I wasn’t satisfied with how the stitching looked, I didn’t want to take it out for fear I would poke holes in the fabric.

5. So here’s why I don’t like this dress, it shows all of my curves, good and BAD. The dress is not too small. The problem is the fabric is very stretchy and smooth, and with the weight that is created by the maxi length, it clings to every curve and bump of my body, and every ridge or line, no matter how small, of the undergarments I’m wearing. Previously, I have used this fabric for loose fitting tops, and it is perfect. The finished garment is lightweight enough, that it floats freely around my body. I would like to make this dress again. I will give up the elegance, and use a cotton knit with less stretch. I still think this would make a great, versatile, summer dress.

I offered this dress to my young adult daughter who has no “bad” curves. She responded very politely that she was not the maxi dress type. Oh, I don’t know. I still might wear it somewhere at night where the lights are low. How about you? Have you made something that seems to be the right size, but the fabric choice makes it unflattering?

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