The Jennifer Dress

As soon as I saw this pattern while shopping a Butterick pattern sale at JoAnn’s several months ago, I knew I wanted to make this for my sister-in-law who loves that 50’s retro vibe. So I am once again sewing someone else stylish for Fresh Make #18.DSC_0551DSC_0546DSC_0554
The pattern I used is Butterick 5982. I basically made a sleeveless version of view C. As mentioned above, I bought the pattern on sale at JoAnn’s for $1.40. I named it the Jennifer Dress after my sister-in-law.DSC_0574
The fabric is a soft, smooth lawn cotton we purchased at The Fabric Store on La Brea Avenue in Los Angeles. My photos unfortunately do not do this fabric justice. It’s a calico like print of rich blue colored flowers set on a creamy white background, and it’s looks beautiful against Jennifer’s sun kissed skin.

One of the design details I really like about this pattern, along with that adorable bow, is the flat center skirt front. The gathers go up to an inverted pleat on both sides and then it’s flat for about 6″ in the middle. A flattering element for those of us whose waists and bellies aren’t what they used to be. (No, Jennifer, I’m not talking about you! I’m sure you would look good with gathers around the whole waist. I’m just speaking in general.)

Please excuse the coloring in this photos. I took it in the early morning and then went to Jennifer's house and gave the dress to her. So no retakes.

Please excuse the coloring in this photos. I took it in the early morning and then went to Jennifer’s house and gave the dress to her. So no retakes.

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back view

back view

The bodice is fully lined in a white cotton. I did some “slow sewing” as I attached the lining by hand along the zipper and waist. I also did a hand hem after machine sewing hem tape on the bottom edge.
You might notice some picking at the neckline. You can read about that below if you're interested.

You might notice some puckering at the neckline. You can read about that below if you’re interested.

Jennifer is on the front porch of her newly purchased home!

Jennifer is on the front porch of her newly purchased home!

LET’S BE HONEST:
1. It is always a joy for me to sew for others. The drawback is coordinating fittings or sacrificing a few when that person does not live that close to me. On the first fitting, before I applied the lining or did any finish work, the neckline layed flat on Jennifer. On the second fitting, it pooched out as if the fabric was stretched when I attached the lining at the neckline. I was flummoxed and the truth is it didn’t matter how it happened, I needed to find way to fix it. I was not up for ripping out the lining and re-doing the whole bodice. I had not yet attached the lining at the waist, I decided to run some rows of basing stitches on the lining layer only, close to the neck edge and ease in the extra width. You can see this in the photo of the dress inside. It’s not a proud sewing moment for me, but a reasonable solution. Jennifer was fine with it.

2. It’s a bit confusing as to how the bodice is supposed to fit on this pattern. Of course, the beauty of sewing is you can make it fit however you want. I just want to point out that the photo of the orange dress on the envelope front has a semi-fitted bodice, and the illustrations look close-fitted. Additionally the description on the back of the pattern says “close-fitting.” Jennifer’s bodice fits like the photo, which is a good thing because she doesn’t care for form-fitting clothes.

3. The pattern is labeled EASY. It might be easy for this style of dress, but would say it does required some intermediate sewing skills. At least some experience with gathers, zippers, facings and linings.

4. Jennifer wanted the dress to hit below her knees, so I added 5″ to the skirt bottom when cutting out the fabric. It was just enough for a 2″ hem.

I think Jennifer loves her new dress. When she put the finished dress on for our photo shoot, she didn’t want to take it off. But she did because she wanted to keep it nice to wear on the first day of school. She’s a third grade teacher.

Thanks again for reading my blog. I welcome your comments about this dress or your experiences sewing for others. Cheers, Lori

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The Breezy Blouse

I realized only one of my Fresh Makes has been a top, and I think we often overlook the idea of sewing our own tops. Also I’m still staying true to the idea of not always grabbing a plain t-shirt to throw on over jeans. For these reasons I chose to make a cute, warm weather blouse for Fresh Make #10.DSC_0250 DSC_0260
The pattern I used is Butterick 6024. Like always, I purchased this pattern on sale at JoAnn’s for $1.40 (5 patterns for $7. But you really don’t have to buy 5.). I named this top the Breezy Blouse because it seems like an easy, fun, comfortable top to wear to a picnic or other causal outdoor event that doesn’t require athletic wear.

I made view D.

I made view D.

The fabric I used is a Robert Kaufman cotton voile. It’s finely woven, lightweight and soft, like Liberty of London, but for a third of the price. I purchased it at my favorite DTLA fabric store, Michael Levine. I bought 2 yards for $11.25 per yard. DSC_0262 DSC_0268DSC_0272 The neckline is finished with a self-made bias tape. The slit is created with a facing. DSC_0265 Here’s a peek at inside. To sew the bias tape at the neckline, first I sewed one edge to the inside of the neckline. Then I folded it over the raw edges and top stitched it very close to the folded edge of the bias tape on the front side of the neckline. DSC_0275

LET’S BE HONEST:

1. This pattern once again has the very common label of “EASY.” It’s actually not a bad pattern for a beginner, except, doing bias tape on a neckline requires careful sewing for it not to look “homemade.” The front slit also requires some accurate marking to make sure it gets stitched and cut straight down the center. I would say the sleeves, however, are fairly easy for a set-in sleeve as the cap is quite straight and there is not a lot of ease that needs distributed to fit the armhole.

2. About size – I decide to make a Small (8-10) even though my bust is not 31 1/2″ – 32 1/2″ and by no stretch of my imagination is my waist 24″ – 25.” I took the “finished measurement” of the bust area that was printed on pattern piece, and wrapped a tape measurement around my bust at that same measurement. I decided I liked that amount of “wearing ease.” I was afraid I would feel like I was swimming in the next size up. If the fabric had been more drapey like a rayon, I might have preferred more wearing ease.

3. Time to contemplate hem length and body type again. I choose to cut off 5″ from the hem of the blouse to transform it from a tunic length. Don’t get me wrong, I love the tunic style and would even wear it in some cases. If the fabric was soft and drapey, I might be OK with it longer. But with this cotton and the A-line cut, it flairs out from the body and looks kind of tent-like. I definitely do not need a wide hem hitting me at the thighs. Those of you ladies with long, thin legs, go ahead a keep the tunic length! Lucky you.

Overall I love my Breezy Blouse in this cotton voile. It’s lightweight and very comfortable to wear on a hot day when you don’t feel like bearing a lot of skin.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. And, as always, I welcome your comments.

Best, Lori

The Instead Top

Several years ago I made a resolution not to buy any more plain T-shirts. My casual tops must either have a print or interesting design feature. I did this to keep myself from being too boring. These tops however must be as comfortable and easy to wear as a T-shirt. Fresh Make #5 falls into this category. You can never have too many cute grab-and-go tops.

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The Pattern I used is Butterick 5356 which I purchased at JoAnn’s for $1.40 as part of a 5 Butterick patterns for $7 sale. I have named the pattern The Instead Top because you can grab it instead of a T-shirt. What attracted me to this pattern was the loose fit and the peplum style sleeves on view D. I love a loose fitting top because it’s flattering and forgiving to whatever you got going on underneath!

I made view D.

I made view D.

I purchased the fabric at The Fabric Store on La Brea Avenue in Los Angeles. I was thrilled when I learned of the opening of this shop, a new location, and first in the U.S., for this Austrailian company. I didn’t know what to expect and was not disappointed to when I found a beautiful selection of high quality natural fiber textiles at reasonable prices. I bought 1 1/4 yard of cotton knit at $12 per yard for this project. The feel of this fabric is smooth and soft, very light weight and luxorous for a cotton knit.

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LET’S BE HONEST:

1. This pattern is labeled “FAST & EASY.” While the pattern does avoid a set-in sleeve, it is a “knits only” pattern, has gathers, and a curved seam. None of these features should be a deal breaker, but would be best done with some guidance for a beginning sewist who has yet to do these techniques.

2. I thought size wouldn’t matter too much – because it was a loose fitting top. I cut a medium (12-14), and I should have cut a small (8-10). I still have trouble wrapping my head around the fact that there is a large difference in numbers between my bottom and top half. I did not like how the sleeve hung on me after attaching the ruffle, so I decided to take it off, take in the seam in the underarm area about an inch, and then re-attach.

3. This fabric was 54″ instead of 60″. The patterns always give yardage amounts for 60″ and usually if the fabric is a bit narrower it doesn’t matter. In this case I was unable to fit the full length of the sleeve ruffle pattern piece on the fabric and had to settle for a ruffle that was less full. I would have liked the 3 or 4 inches I had to leave off the diameter of the ruffle.

4. Don’t cut yourself in half at your widest part. One of the beauties of making your own clothes in you can adjust them to flatter you the best way possible. I turned the hem up 4″ instead of the 1 1/4″ allowed on the pattern. My widest part is my thighs and my legs are relately short, so I like my tops to end somewhere around the upper part of my hips.

Overall I am happy with my Instead top. However, if I were to make it again, I think I would make a size Small.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this post. As always, I welcome your feedback and comments. Lori