The Sunshine Jumper

I am keeping true to my declaration of wearing more dresses and skirts, and less jean shorts and capris for spring and summer. I’m building my collection of warm weather clothing with a versatile sleeveless dress for Fresh Make #8.
DSC_0174 The pattern I choose is Butterick 5781. I purchased it at JoAnn’s Fabrics for $1.40 as part of their 5 Butterick patterns for $7 sale. This style of dress seems to have made a bit of a comeback, and it’s been years and years since I made a dress comfy dress like this for myself. I named it the Sunshine Jumper because, while it’s a sundress, it can also be worned with a t-shirt underneath. DSC_0184 I purchased the fabric from my favorite online fabric store, Hawthorne Threads. The prints are by Lotta Jansdotter, specifically, Blomster in Coral from the Mormor collection and Ruta in White from the Sylvia collection. The fabric is quilting weight, 100% cotton, perfect for this dress. The fabric was $9.25 per yard, and I needed about 1 yard for the bodice and 2 yards for the skirt. I also lined the bodice with 1 yard of white cotton from JoAnn’s.

The dress has hidden seam pockets.

The dress has hidden seam pockets.

I’m not sure a have the perfect shoes for this dress. I think I might need to go shopping! I’m modeling it with two different types of sandals to show the versatility of the dress. DSC_0166DSC_0172

The feel and style of the dress lent itself to some double white topstitching on the bodice.

The feel and style of the dress lent itself to some double white topstitching on the bodice.

DSC_0161 The bodice is fully lined and all the seams are overlocked. The hand-sewn hem is 2″ wide.DSC_0165

LET’S BE HONEST:

1. The Butterick pattern is labeled Easy. In reality, it is easy for an experienced sewer. There are quite a few techniques that wouldn’t be easy if you were doing them for the first time such as facings, zipper, pleats, and princess seams. Overall there are no surprises or odd features to this pattern.

2. There’s no other way of saying it – I am small busted. The advantage for me of constructing my own garments is I can balance out my portions by custom fitting. With this pattern, I was going for more of a semi-fitted bodice, rather than a fitted one because I felt like a fitted bodice would emphasize the discrepancy in size between my top and bottom half, especially with a full skirt. This pattern had different bodice pattern pieces for A/B, C, and D cups. Of course I used the A/B pattern piece and still took it in at the bust after my first try-on. I took it in again at the side seams after my second try-on. I eventually achieved the fit I wanted.

3. I LOVE the pleats on the skirt. I was hesitant to make a dress with a full skirt because my extra inches through my mid-section. But these pleats lay completely flat with no extra poof where you don’t need it. I’m still staying away from gathers, but yes, I can do pleats!

4. I wanted my hemline to be between view A and C, so I added a few inches onto the skirt A length pattern piece before cutting out the fabric. I like my hem to hit right below the knee cap at the narrowist part of the leg above the calf. That’s where it most flattering because you’re showing off your curves rather than cutting your leg off at a wider part.

Overall, I love my Sunshine Jumper and plan on wearing it a whole lot this summer and spring. Thank you for taking the time to read this post. I welcome your comments. Lori

The Sandra Dress

Sewing others stylish is just as much fun as sewing myself stylish! That’s why I’m so excited to feature my beautiful friend, Sandra, as a guest model in this post. For Fresh Make #7, I have made a versatile shift dress.
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The pattern I used is Burda 7031. I purchased on sale at JoAnn’s for $2.49. A few months ago, I posted it to my Facebook page as a pattern that I thought would be flattering on all figure types. “Who would like to make it?”, I posed. And Sandra said, “I would!” Sandra’s machine and sewing skills were a bit rusty, so I offered to make the dress for her and feature it in my blog.
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Now here’s the super fun part about sewing for friends – the shopping trip to buy the fabric! We went to Mood on La Brea Avenue in Los Angeles and had a blast imagining ourselves as designers on Project Runway.

Sandra is captivated by all the luscious fabrics.

Sandra is captivated by all the luscious fabrics.


We spent at least 90 minutes wondering up and down the aisles, drooling and touching fabrics. Sandra finally choose this luxurious knit wool jersey. The pattern requires 2 5/8 yards. I think the fabric was $18 per yard. And did Sandra care? No, it was gorgeous!

Fabric bought, time for lunch! We walked up four blocks on La Brea to Sycamore Kitchen and both had salads were to die for. The Sycamore Kitchen is also directly across the street from recent Austrialian transplant, The Fabric Store. What a great day!

Here’s the results of our efforts:
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LET’S BE HONEST:
1. I when sew for others, the size I make is confidential, even to my client! I want having a garment custom made to be a wonderful, feel-good experience.

2. Sandra wanted the sleeve to become narrower towards the hem instead of the slight bell shaped of the pattern. I took about 4″ total off the bottom of the sleeve width.

3. I thought an interesting element to this otherwise very basic pattern was the bust dart. Sandra loved the shape that it created, too.

This dart may look unusual, but it creates a great shape.

This dart may look unusual, but it creates a great shape.

4. I found a big surprise as I began cutting and sorting through the pattern pieces. There was a dart at the top of the sleeve.

I don't think I've ever encountered a sleeve with a dart at the top before.

I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a sleeve with a dart at the top before.

I considered manipulating the pattern to remove the dart because I was concerned that the sleeve might be a bit pointy where the dart ended. But then I decided I would go with it. It was part of the design vision for this pattern. To my delight, the sleeve actually turned out beautiful. This amazing wool jersey fabric molds itself like cake fondant when a steam iron is gently used on it. The dart is not even noticable.

5. I added 2″ to the hem when cutting the fabric to be sure I had enough length to create a hem that hit slightly past the midpoint of the knee. This is a flattering spot for a hem as it accentuates the narrower part of your upper calf without showing your whole knee.
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Sandra and I were giddy with excitement when I brought her the finished dress. We were thrilled with the perfect, flattering fit. For Sandra, wearing it is as comfortable as a nightgown, and no shape wear required!

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

My Chill Pants

Sometimes when I am going out, I want to pull on something quickly, be super comfortable, and still feel like I’m wearing something unique and stylish. I decided to make a casual pair of wide-legged pants as an interesting alternative to jeans for Fresh Make #6.
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The pattern I choose was McCall’s 6514. I purchased this pattern for $1.40 as part of a 5 McCall’s patterns for $7.00 sale. I named this pattern My Chill Pants because these pants seem like a something you might pull on when you are going to just lounge around with friends. Or when you are going out to dinner and don’t want to feel constricted after a great meal.
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I have to admit that I rarely shop for fabric at JoAnn’s. It is the only fabric store within miles of my house, and sometimes as a last resort I need buy fabric there. The fabric for this project was purchased at JoAnn’s because I was under a time constraint, and, I have to say I really like it! It is a light weight polyester knit with smooth feel and nice drape. I actually had these pants stuffed in a suitcase for 10 days, and when I unpacked them, they barely had a wrinkle. The fabric cost $10.49 on sale per yard. The pattern requires 2 3/8 yards.
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There is a front yolk.

There is a front yoke.


The back waist is elastic.

The back waist is elastic.


The front and back come together like this.

The front and back come together like this.


My favorite way to hem knits is with a double needle.

My favorite way to hem knits is with a double needle.

LET’S BE HONEST:

1. This pattern had no surprises for me!

2. This pattern is labeled EASY. I would say that a fairly accurate label, accept for the waist band features. Sewing the side seams together at the waist was a bit tricky, and the front yoke requires hand stitching on the inside facing.

3. The front yoke piece is the only area where fitting is crucial because it needs to hit exactly at the middle of the sides of your waist. I cut that piece exactly between the size 14 and 16, and it worked out perfectly. The legs are so full, it doesn’t really matter what size you cut!

4. The only alterations I made to the pattern pieces before cutting was I took 1 inch off the crotch length and 2 inches off the hem length. Since I’m not the tallest person in the world, I ended up cutting off a few more inches off the bottom of the legs when I hemmed the pants.

Overall I am very happy with my Chill Pants. They couldn’t possibly be more comfortable or easy to care for.

As always, I appreciate you taking the time read my post and welcome your comments. Happy sewing! Lori

The Festival Skirt

I’m going to wear lots of skirts this spring and summer. Enough of those jeans shorts. I’m adding a second skirt to my stylish handmade collection for Fresh Make #5.
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The pattern I choose was Simplicity 2416. I purchased this pattern at JoAnn’s Fabrics for $1.00 during their 5 Simplicity patterns for $5.00 sale. I like this pattern because it has a retro 70’s vibe and it seemed like it would be a fun, feel good skirt to wear. I named the pattern The Festival Skirt because I could imagine a groovy gal frolicking around in a swirl skirt like this a summer music festival.

I made view B.

I made view B.

I am in love with the fabrics I choose. They are from Amy Butler’s Hapi Voile collection, purchased from my favorite online fabric store, Hawthorne Threads. This cotton voile is amazing. It’s smooth and lightweight with a beautiful drape – a delight to sew with. The cost for this fabric, including shipping was $58.50 and worth every penny.
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There's a simple elastic casing at the waist.

There’s a simple elastic casing at the waist.

 

I overlocked all the edges together and did a rolled hem.

I overlocked all the edges together and did a rolled hem.


LET’S BE HONEST:
1. The pattern pieces, all seven, are just a series of swirls (or flounces as they are referred to in the directions), it is viturally impossible to measure the pattern pieces for fit before cutting out the fabric. So with my new updated knowledge about my measurements, I simply cut a size 16. Always error to the larger size – you can always trim off fabric, but you can’t add on. Right? It turns out it fit fine. I probably could have gotten away with a 14, but for me, there’s nothing worse than fabric pulling across the tummy.

2. 54″ vs. 6o” I ran across this same issue with The Instead Top. The pattern envelope gave yardage amounts for 45″ and 60″, but this Amy Butler fabric is 54″ wide. Again, I thought it would be fine to buy the specified amount for 60″, but I ended up having to do some “creative” manipulations of the patterns pieces to fit them all on the fabric. I would definitely buy at least an 1/8 of a yard more of each fabric if I were to repeat this project.

3. Interesting hem. The directions instruct you to hem the second to last flouce before sewing on the last flounce. (The hem is split between the two contrasting fabrics.) This resulted in curve that I’m not sure I care for.
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This flouce (the flower print one) also dipped more in one spot, creating a bit of an uneven hem. But, hey, maybe I shouldn’t let that bother me. The photo on the pattern envelope kind of looked that way too.

4. I did “raise” the skirt a bit. I anticipated that the skirt would probably be too long, but also knew it would be tedious and risky to mess with the swirl pattern pieces to shorten the length. After completing the hem but before doing the elastic casing, I tried it on and determined that I would cut off 2″ from the waist to shorten it. This adjustment was minor enough that it didn’t affect the fit or look of the skirt.

Overall, I am completely enamored with the skirt! And I highly recommend the Amy Butler cotton voiles if you choose to make a Festival skirt.

Again, whether you are a sewer or non-sewer, I sincerely appreciate you for taking the time to read this post. As always, I welcome your comments and feedback. 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