The Marianne, tie-dye and a Peter Pan collar

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Hey, it’s Round Two of the Super Online Sewing Match II! Again, I want to thank Sew Mama Sew for this opportunity. My enthusiasism went up a few more notches when I learned this challenge would be the Marianne Dress by Christine Haynes. I actually had purchased the printed version of this pattern a few months ago. So, yay, no PDF tiling for me! But that’s where any possible advantage stoppped, as I had not sewn it up or even purchased any fabric for it. It was just sitting in my pattern queue.

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When I first laid eyes on the Marianne Dress, I was drawn to View B, the one with the cuffed, 3/4 length sleeves. The youthful, retro inspired style of View A was not for me, a woman of 50+ years.

I know….this photo doesn’t match what I just said! Read on and I’ll share with you how my Marianne Dress came to be.DSC_0167

HERE’S MY STORY OF ROUND TWO

Unlike the first challenge, I had the gift of time (a true summer vacation week), but no apparent inspiration. The reason this pattern was still sitting in the stack was the fact that I was having a hard time imagining fabric combinations that would create a fun yet age appropriate garment for me. But NOW I was forced to make some decisions. The same day that we received the challenge, I went ahead and took advantage of the fabric offer from Fabricworm, and placed an order after much deliberating. But I couldn’t stop there. I also placed an order for some white cotton knit jersey at Dharma Trading Co. I thought perhaps I would like to dye some fabric for this project.

Additionally, with the time I had on this first day, I ran to JoAnn’s to get some fabric to make a muslin. Now I know I bragged in Round One that I never make muslins. But I did have concerns about a flattering fit on this pattern, so I figured why not sew up a trial; I had the time. I cut a size 10, and added a little flair to make sure that circumference throughout the body of the dress comfortably cleared my pear shaped bulges. I also added about 6 inches of length beyond the size 10. Just above my knee cap is as far as I go these days.

By Sunday, I was done with my muslin. I was very pleased with it. I got a “bonus” dress out of the deal. Now I just had to wait for both my fabric orders to arrive. I was expecting the Fabricworm shipment on Wednesday, and possibly the Dharma Trading Co. on that day also. With this “extra” time, I started to feel antsy, and began to develop a case of FOMO (fear of missing out). Maybe I should go into Los Angeles tomorrow (Tuesday), maybe the perfect fabric for my Marianne dress is waiting for me there.

Just as I was conjuring up this plan, my husband came to me and told me he thought something was wrong with our beloved dog, Pixel. She seem to have suddenly lost her sense of balance. She was leaning to one side and kind of staggering around. Tuesday morning it was clear we needed to bring her to the vet. This situation cured me of my fabric shopping desires. I needed to be there help my husband with the dog. We had to do a drop-off, since the vet had no same day appointments. They would examine her when they could. By mid-morning, we were back home sans dog, and my fabric from Dharma Trading Co. had arrived! Whether I used the fabric or not for this project, I decided to dye the it right then, as a way to stay busy and keep my mind off the dog. I did two dye baths, gold and then blue. I tied and re-tied two smaller pieces, resulting in a multicolored pattern. The piece that I intended for the body of the dress, I kept solid.

The vet was unable to diagnose the dog, and sent her home with some meds. It would be a waiting game. So Wednesday morning I decide to go ahead and cut out my hand-dyed fabric. I just wanted to keep busy, rather than wait for my Fabricworm shipment. As I laid out my pattern pieces to cut View B, I realized I hadn’t dyed enough solid fabric for the sleeves. And I really wanted my sleeves to be solid. I decided I would leave them off.  EXCEPT, my dress would then be too SIMPLE. In the spirit of the competition, I took a big gulp, and cut out the Peter Pan collar that I was 100% certain I would never use. And this is how my dress came to be. My Fabricworm fabric came later that day. I liked it, by this time I was all in with my tie-dyed fabric and my Peter Pan collar.DSC_0160

To my surprise, I LIKED my Peter Pan collar. The collar was an interesting element in an otherwise simple dress, and the tie-dyed fabric took away the “sweetness” I was concerned about.

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This was my first time sewing up a pattern by Christine Haynes.  I found her instructions clear and easy to follow. She offers techniques for both conventional machines and sergers. For those new to sewing on knits, you would need to find some additional resources detailing the hemming of knits as the instructions say to “Hem using the stitch of your choice.”

I have to admit I was leary of the ribbing/collar combination at the neckline. I had never seen that before. But because this was competition, I felt it was important to stay true the this unique feature and not “do my own thing.” When I first attached the ribbing, I wasn’t happy. I thought it looked awkward, and I had an “Oh no!” moment. Still, I felt I shouldn’t do away with the ribbing. I decided to narrow it by 1/8″. I found this little adjustment made enough difference for me to live with it and even LIKE it.

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I have a three thread serger from the 80’s. (It still works great, by the way.) I don’t sew seams with it. I just use it for finishing.

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I did not include the clear elastic on the shoulder seam because this was a low stretch knit. I didn’t think that extra reinforcement was necessary, and the elastic would only add more bulk. I did use the elastic in my muslin which was a very stretchy knit, and found it to be a great feature.

I used a zig zag stitch for the hem on the sleeve cap. I thought the look integrated better than a straight double needle stitch with the tie dye pattern.

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For the bottom hem, I used a machine blind hem stitch. I prefer a bit of width on my dress and skirt hems. After serging the edge, I turned it up 1 1/8″. With some carefully steam ironing, I was able to reduce the additional bottom circumference so it all laid nice and flat. (After making the muslin, I determined I only needed to add 3″ to the length instead of 6″.)

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During Round Two of the Super Online Sewing Match, I have: sewn up a pattern that was sitting in my stack for a while, made a nice wearable muslin, included a style of collar that I never would have chosen, and used creative practice as therapy.

You can see what the other talented competitors have made and keep up to date with the contest at Sew Mama Sew.

Her name is Pixel because she has dots on her snout. We are giving her the gift of time and hoping for the very best.

Her name is Pixel because she has dots on her snout. We are giving her the gift of time and hoping for the very best.

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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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