Japanese Drop-Waist Wrap Skirt

I’m still on a quest to populate my closet with easy wear, weekday skirts. I’ve made progress, but I’m always interested in finding that perfect pattern that contains just the right amount of smooth, flair and gather for a flattering fit on my lower half. Fresh Make #23 is a unique skirt that features a bit of all those things.DSC_0529DSC_0528DSC_0525I’m on a roll with “Simple Modern Sewing” by Shufu To Seikatsu Sha.DSC_0546This skirt is my second project from the book. My previous post, Japanese Wraparound Dress was the first. For this project, I choose Skirt 5C, Drop-Waist Wrap Skirt, because it has a fairly wide waistband yoke which should help flatten the belly and mini pleats all around which should hide larger hips and thighs without adding too much extra width.DSC_0546 Once again, I need to comment that the instructions in this book are very minimal. I would not recommend that a beginning seamstress tackle this project without help from someone who can interpret and fill in the gaps of missing information and illustrations.

These are the instructions in their entirety.

These are the instructions in their entirety.

The fabric I choose is a light to medium weight Italian linen. It is once again from Michael Levine’s in downtown LA. This fabric is 58″ wide, and I bought 2 yards at $18 per yard. I selected this fabric because I was drawn to the colors, and the stripes make it a bit more interesting than a solid. DSC_0521Even though the skirt has the word “wrap” in the title, it is really a tube. I believe the designer uses the term wrap because because you fit the skirt to your body by taking a fold in the yoke and then securing it with the ties.

DSC_0543There is a hole in the right side yoke seam for the ties to go through, and two outside loops as well.

I did a blind machine hem.

I did a blind machine hem.

Here's a front view all spread out.

Here’s a front view all spread out.

Here's a back view all spread out.

Here’s a back view all spread out.

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LET’S BE HONEST:
1. I made a size Large, which is a big as it comes. My fold at the yoke takes in about 4″ of slack. I am wearing it so the yoke sits slightly below the waist. Since it’s not fitted, individuals could play around with where they wear the yoke in relation to their waist and hips. If you are tall with narrow hips, I think you could probably wear it farther below the waist and it would be flattering. For a pear shape like me, it probably looks best worn higher.

2. If you read my post, Japanese Wraparound dress, you know my skepticism about trying patterns in this book was put to rest with the discovery of a well drafted dress design. The same holds true for this second project. With the exception of doing a slight bit of trimming/tweaking on yoke pieces, it all fit together as expected.

3. It took me about 20 minutes to figure out where to attach the second tie on the inside and exactly how to configure and wrap the ties around the yoke when putting on the skirt. I think I will secure my fold with a hidden safety pin because it seems as though the ties will slide up the yoke despite the two outside loops.

4. While I love this linen fabric, if I make this skirt again, I will probably choose a linen/cotton blend that might be more soft and drapey. The book recommended a linen/cotton blend. I don’t want to risk putting my $18 linen in the dryer to get that laundered look that’s in the photo.

5. I interfaced the yoke, even though the instructions did not say to do so.

RELFECTIONS, REVELATIONS, AND CONFESSIONS:
This is my sewing room. I consider myself fortunate that we have a spare room in our house that I can dedicate to sewing. (Well, the computer also is in there.) However, it is a mess. I have never made a priority to make it cute and uncluttered. I would rather spend my time sewing. DSC_0526But just so you know that my whole house doesn’t look like this, here’s a picture of my living room.DSC_0524

Once again, thanks for taking the time to read this post. I welcome your comments or questions on the skirt; or even a comment on the environment you sew in. Cheers, Lori

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Japanese Wraparound Dress

This is my one year anniversary of Sewing Myself Stylish. Have I sewn myself stylish yet? I would say not, but I’ve learned many things and had a lot of fun. Bit by bit, I will share my insights of sewing for myself again as well as my observations of the online sewing community and social media from the perspective of an “older” gal. But for now, I would just like to share with you Fresh Make #22, a comfy, versatile dress that I could wear a number places.DSC_0519DSC_0523DSC_0541 I did my occasional veer of the Big Four path for this one and used a pattern from the book “Simple Modern Sewing” by Shufu To Seikatsu Sha ($24.95). I am normally not compelled to buy these kinds of books because I am leery of the actual pattern drafting and fit of an unproven designer or company. BUT, my husband gave me a gift card for Interweave, so I took the opportunity to purchase this book which had not made it’s way to the 75% off section yet.

DSC_0546 I was immediately attracted to the Wraparound Dress with Three-Quarter-Length Sleeves. It looks like a dress I might have worn in college in the 80’s, or wear now, as a teacher dress.

DSC_0552The directions in the book are minimal. I wouldn’t recommend sewing patterns from this book unless you had basic knowledge of dress construction and/or weren’t planning to rely solely on what was provided in the book.

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The fabric I chose is kind of a textured chambray cotton from Michael Levine’s in DTLA. It’s about 58″ wide, and I purchased 3 yards at $15.00 per yard. It appeared to be a high quality cotton and was lovely to sew with. I like this fabric because it’s a basic with a bit of a twist.

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LET’S BE HONEST:
1. Obviously for this pattern, the most crucial measurement for determining your size is the bust. I am spot on for the Medium with a bust measurement of 35 1/2″. I cut the Medium and the dress fit me very well. So, here’s a word of warning to larger busted gals- Large is the biggest size with a bust measurement of 37″.

2. On me, the point of the dart is about an 1″ too high. If I make this again, I will reposition it. Fortunately the style is such that it’s not that noticeable. Also the texture and pattern in the fabric help mask this as well.

3. I am pleased with the accuracy of this pattern. It sewed up just like it was portrayed in the photo. I realize this is a classic Japanese pattern, and obviously the author of this book had access to a well drafted one. I am planning to try other patterns in the book. I already have a fabulous linen fabric for a skirt.

4. When tracing off this pattern from the master sheet, you need to be up for figuring out which lines go to which pieces as several pieces are overlaid on each other.DSC_0554

I love this dress, my first project of the new year. It couldn’t be more comfortable. I intend to wear it with different tank tops or t-shirts underneath for a pop of color. Thanks for reading this post. I welcome your comments. Cheers! Lori

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The Michael Shirt

My wonderful husband, Michael, is always supportive of my endeavors. He never hesitates to drop what he’s doing on a Saturday afternoon to take photos of me for my latest blog post. I thought it fitting to invite him to be a guest model for Fresh Make #12. I made Michael a stylish, modern fitting shirt. Perfect for summer. DSC_0310 DSC_0320 DSC_0321 The pattern I chose was Vogue 8759. I bought it on sale at JoAnn’s Fabrics for $4.99. (I can’t imagine that anyone would ever the $30.00 price tag printed on the envelope. As most of you probably know, Vogue patterns are always on “sale” for at least 40% off.)

I made the lower left view.

I made the lower left view.

Once again the fabric was purchased on one of my trips to my favorite DTLA fabric store, Michael Levine. I bought 1 5/8 yards at 60″ wide and $6 per yard.

Michael is standing next to his favorite fig tree.

Michael is standing next to his favorite fig tree.

DSC_0325DSC_0335DSC_0332 To attach the yoke facing by machine at the back, I rolled the shirt up inbetween the two yoke pieces with right sides facing together and stitched along the edge. This is not shown in the instructions. Please ask me if your actually interested in trying this technique. It’s easy. DSC_0326DSC_0329 The instructions called for French seams. I cheated and just serged the edges together while trimming them to about 3/8 and then top stitching 1/4″ from the seam.

LET’S BE HONEST:
1. This pattern is labeled EASY. Which I guess is OK as long as one doesn’t assume that EASY means “beginner.” A pattern with a collar with a band is definitely not a beginner project and requires careful, slow sewing.

2. I made size 44 for Michael and it fits perfect. It is a “slimmer” fit. There is no room for shrinkage, so even though I prewashed the fabric, we’ll be our best to keep it out of the dryer. This pattern ranges from 34 to 46. I can’t imagine who would actually fit a 34 and I think there are probably a lot of men who would be sized out of this pattern.

3. I think this is a perfect men’s shirt pattern. I didn’t make any adjustments anywhere, and I did not find any odd surprises once I started construction. As is common for me, I didn’t follow the instructions exactly as I draw upon my knowledge if I see an easier way of doing something such as the machine yoke technique I mentioned above.

I thoroughly enjoy putting the attention on someone else, being the photographer instead of being the one photographed. This week, reviving a few techniques and sewing him stylish. As always, thanks for visiting my blog. I welcome your comments and would be happy provide more details on anything I’ve shown. Just ask!

Sunny Day Beach Dress

Without a doubt summer is here in Southern California for the next four months. I know I’ll want to be throwing on clothes that are cool and easy. Fresh Make #11 is one of many sleeveless dresses I’ll be making this summer. DSC_0294 DSC_0291DSC_0298 The pattern I choose was Sunny Day Beach Dress from the Sew Daily pattern store. When I received an email announcing 40% off their PDF patterns, I took a peek and this adorable dress caught my eye. I have not been particularly interested in trying a PDF pattern, but to keep myself well-rounded I decided to give this one a try. The sale price was $3.60.

Sunny Day Beach Dress by Katrin Vorbeck from Sew Daily pattern store

Sunny Day Beach Dress by Katrin Vorbeck from Sew Daily pattern store

The fabric I used is from Andover Fabric’s “Moon Flowers” collection by Jesus Cruz. I am excited to showcase this fabric as Jesus is a local artist in my community. His fabric can be found at many independent fabric stores. Because I knew exactly what I wanted, I ordered mine at Michael Levine’s online store. Michael Levine’s is much more fun to visit in person, but sometimes convenience wins over adventure.

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The armholes are finished with a self-made bias tape.

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The neck yoke is one piece with a seam in the back.

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The hem band is faced on the inside.

The hem band is faced on the inside.

I understitched the hem facing at the bottom to keep the seam rolled to the inside.

I understitched the hem facing at the bottom to keep the seam rolled to the inside.

LET’S BE HONEST:

1. After using my first PDF pattern, I’m not a big fan. In the future, I will only purchase a PDF pattern if it is a unique design that I love and it is not available in a paper format. I have no problem with, and rather enjoy, leafing through pattern books at fabric stores (OK, maybe I’m showing my age!) Also, I do not mind waiting a few days for a purchase to come in the mail; I have plenty of other projects I can work on in the meantime. Let me state, however, that I do understand one of the purposes of a PDF – it is a cost effective way for an entrepreneurial designer/sewist to sell a pattern. I think it is awesome that the internet provides this opportunity for enterprising individuals.

2. General thoughts on written instructions: Instructions that include illustrations from the established patterns companies are difficult enough to understand. I found the instructions accompanying the Sunny Beach Day Dress hard to decipher especially because there were no illustrations accompanying the text. I know I am at an advantage when I tackle a pattern because I can draw on my 40 years of experience and figure out what I need to do. While this dress is fairly simple, I’m pretty certain that a beginning sewist would have a problem sewing this pattern independently, especially the neck yoke.

3. I made one pattern adjustment. During my first try-on, the top of the back neck yoke stuck out from the base of my neck. I narrowed it a total of 1″ at the top, grading down to the original seam at the bottom. This created a slight V-shape on the back yoke as you can see in the photos. If I were to make this again, I would probably redraw the pattern a bit to make a nice curve.

4. The instructions called for 2 single-sided self-made bias tapes sewn together, outside and inside, to finish the armholes. I decided to make 1 double-folded tape instead. (You can ask me more about this if you are interested in making this dress.) The armholes turn out a little high into the armpit. I couldn’t determine for certain if this was because I changed the method or not. Neverthless, next time, I would trim out 1/2″ before from the armholes before applying the bias tape.

I love my Sunny Day Beach Dress, and I think Jesus Cruz’s Moon Flowers is the perfect fabric for it!

Thank you for reading this post, and please, ask me questions about the construction. I would love to help you if you decide to make this dress. Best, Lori

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 Strolling Shorts

Currently all of my new clothing choices are influenced by the impending summer heat. I’m still standing firm to wear less jean shorts and capris. So to add variety to the warm weather skirts and dresses I’m sewing, I decided to make a fun pair of walking shorts for Fresh Make #9.
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The pattern I used is Burda 8087. I bought this pattern on sale at JoAnn’s for $2.49. I choose this pattern because nowadays I only only wear long shorts, and I thought the wider leg cut would be flattering on my heavier thighs figure. I named them the Strolling Shorts because I imagine that these would be perfect for a day at Disneyland, a walk down Palm Canyon Boulevard in Palm Springs or Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica.
8087-front-envelope I purchased the fabric from Michael Levine’s online store. It is from the Japanese Echino collection. I have drooled over Echino fabrics many times at Michael Levine’s downtown L.A. store. They range from $16 to $20 for their cotton/linen blends. I was alerted to a one day 20% off online sale, so I bought 2 yards of this fabric (amongst others!).
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I like the flap pocket detail and also how nicely the rounded waistband lays in the small of my back.

I like the flap pocket detail and also how nicely the rounded waistband lays in the small of my back.

DSC_0236 DSC_0240 I had probably not done a front fly zipper since high school when I used to make a lot of my own pants. But it came back, just like riding a bike – you never forget. I purchased the 5″ metal zipper at my favorite online zipper store, Zipit Zippers.

To secure the waistband, I used the "stitch-in-the-ditch" technique.

To complete the waistband, I used the “stitch-in-the-ditch” technique.

For the hem, I did a machine blind hem.

I did a machine blind hem.

LET’S BE HONEST:
1. Once again, this pattern is labeled “easy.” I would warn a beginner sewist not to attempt this pattern without access to help from an “in person,” experienced sewist, especially with techniques such as a front fly and waistband. I find the instructions to be a bit assumptive about a person’s knowledge and also found a few small discrepancies in the text and or illustrations that might be confusing without previous experience.

2. I’m not as big as I think. Erroring on the side of caution, I cut an 18! I did end up taking it in on the sides and back middle seam after my first fitting. I realize now that I was a little rusty at estimating my “wearing ease” for close fitting garments. 1″ at the waist and 2″ at the hips beyond your actual measurements should be fine.

3. I wanted the shorts to hit somewhere along my upper knee cap. I ended up cutting off 2″ of fabric before doing my 1 1/4″ hem.

4. Side note – I broke my boycott to not buy any “fast fashion” to have a shirt to wear in my photos. I bought the shirt on sale at Old Navy, and hemmed it up 3″. Hopefully I will find some time to make the perfect shirt to wear with my shorts.

Overall I am happy with my Strolling Shorts. I wore them to make puppets with third graders this morning! Thank you for reading my post and I welcome your comments. Lori

The Carol Dress

I haven’t had a shirtdress in recent memory, and definitely not one in a slinky knit. Since this is my year for trying new things, Fresh Make #3 is a knit shirtdress.DSC_0030 I used McCalls 6520. I purchased it at JoAnn’s Fabrics as part of my recent bunch of 5 McCalls patterns for $7. I have named this pattern The Carol Dress in honor of TV’s favorite 70’s mom, Carol Brady. I know her collars were more exaggerated and her hems were shorter, but this shirtdress style definitely hints back to that era.DSC_0050 I bought the fabric at Michael Levine’s in downtown L.A. on the same trip that I bought fabric for The Tina Jacket. The total cost for this project is truly something to brag about. I bought two yards of 60″ fabric for $5.00 per yard for this project. $10 for fabric + $1.40 for the pattern + $1.60 for buttons + $4.00 for interfacing + $1.95 for thread < $20! I don’t focus too much on cost for my projects because I sew for many other reasons, but the low cost for this project was worth mentioning.
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DSC_0028I can’t remember the last time I did a collar with a band. But it’s like riding a bike, you never forget how.
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LET’S BE HONEST:

1. This McCalls pattern is rated EASY. While this may be a simple version of a shirtdress, NO shirtdress pattern is recommended for beginners, especially one that is designed for knits only. Features such as collars, plackets and buttonholes are best practiced on woven fabrics first.

2. A word about working with this knit fabric. This synthetic knit is very stretchy and requires some slow and patient sewing. I found that I needed to hand-base about 3/8″ from the edge first before I topstitched around the collar to prevent the fabric from stretching on the top layer.

3. Numbers rear their ugly head again! Like with The Jean Skirt, the size that matched my measurements sounded way too large for me. I cut a size 14 on top and at the waist transitioned to a size 16! Wow! Just numbers, right? Last week I bought a pair of size 8 jeans at Ann Taylor. Oh pattern companys, why can’t you flatter us like Ann?

4. I’m not always the expert I think I am. I pride myself in taking the time adjust the pattern pieces to my measurements before I cut the fabric and also fit as I sew. I took 3/4″ off the length of the sleeve pattern and thought that would be fine. Well maybe the fabric stretched with the weight of the cuff, or I have really short arms – but the sleeves came out about 2″ too long. They bunched at the wrist and I knew I would not wear the dress like that. So I decided the best solution was say good-bye to an hour or so of hard work and simply cut them off!
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5. Shh! Big secret. I’m wearing a slip and shape wear in these photos. You got to hide the bumps and bulges when wearing a slinky knit!

Overall, I am very happy with my Carol Dress, and I am pleasantly surprised at it’s flattering fit.

Thanks for taking the time to read this post. I welcome your comments and questions.