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 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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The Escalante Top

This is always my story. After I do one thing for I while, I get the urge to do something else. I have many creative loves. In addition to sewing, I love dyeing fabrics. Since January, I have been focusing my creative time on sewing for this blog, so recently I’ve had an itch to do some dyeing. So for Fresh Make #16, I have done both, and made a billowy, tie dyed blouse.DSC_0468DSC_0474DSC_0480The pattern I choose is McCall’s 6962 which I purchased recently at JoAnn’s on sale for $1.99. Since starting this blog, I have become a collector of big 4 patterns. When I stumble upon a sale at JoAnn’s, I sit down and leaf through the books. I challenge myself to consider patterns that aren’t necessarily my “style.” Kind of like agreeing to try on ready mades that you would not normally pull off the rack because you’ve taken to heart the advise of Clinton and Stacy of “What Not To Wear.” M6962 is one of those patterns. I was curious to see what I could do with it. I have named it the Escalante Top because I relate the organic feel of the top to the beautiful nature I experienced on our family vacation to Utah’s Escalante Grand Staircase National Monument this month.

I made view A.

I made view A.

I had some white, cotton, lawn fabric from Dharma Trading Co on hand. So I satisfied my dyeing fix by using it for this project. I used also Dharma Trading’s procion dyes in Chartruse and Steel Grey. (Please feel free to ask me about my dyeing process if you wish. That’s another topic for another day!) My fabric was 60″ wide, and view A required 1 1/2 yards.DSC_0466DSC_0475
A few decades ago, I was obsessed with using covering buttons in all my makes (actually, "projects," that's what we called them back then) I thought it would look cute to do a contrasting hand dyed covered button.

A few decades ago, I was obsessed with using covering buttons in all my makes (actually, “projects,” that’s what we called them back then) I thought it would look cute to do a contrasting hand dyed covered button.

I contemplated elastic or not. After a few try-ons, I decided to go for it. I'm happy I did.

I contemplated elastic or not. After a few try-ons, I decided to go for it. I’m happy I did.

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LET BE HONEST: 
1. This pattern is labeled EASY. For an experienced sewist, it is. I think a beginner would require some assistance on some parts, especially attaching the gathered part to the bib and doing the biased tape neckline.

2. To a degree, one’s measurements are not too important when determining what size to make on this pattern because there is so much design ease. I choose to make a Small (8-10) mainly because my biggest concern was that the neckline not be too big. It turned out that I am very happy with the fit and the way the neckline lies.

3. I waivered between elastic and no elastic at the bottom. Even though this fabric is fairly lightweight, it is a bit stiff, so I felt it needed to be corraled at the bottom so it wouldn’t be tent like. If I used a fabric that had a softer hand and a nice drape, I might have done no elastic.

4. This blouse is not my typical style. But, hey, I like it! I’m going to wear it!

Thanks for visiting me again! Have you sewn something recently that’s out of your style wheelhouse?