Monthly Archives: June 2013

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Swimsuit Cover-Up, Take 1

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I say “Take 1” in the title because this is far from what I wanted but a step in the right direction.  I need several new cover ups this summer.  We go to the pool most weekends and will be down in Florida for two weeks later this summer.  When we’re at the resort in Florida, I basically live in my swimsuit and cover up most of the day unless we venture somewhere (rare) or it’s time to shower for dinner.

I have always loved tunics, whether shorter as a blouse or longer over a swimsuit.  Vineyard Vines, Lily Pulitzer, and Tory Burch have adorable tunics but they are ridiculously expensive.  $120-$250 for a yard or two of fabric??  Even J Crew is $80.  Granted, the prints and embellishments are fantastic but I can’t stomach that much for a blouse, let alone one that will be yellow from sunscreen in a couple weeks.

So, I’m on a mission to replicate the style knowing that it won’t be exact.  I thought it would be so easy.  The problem?  Finding a good pattern.  Most are shapeless sacks. The closest I found and the one I tried was Kwik Sew 3601.  There is a fantastic Simplicity Cynthia Rowley pattern (2584) that has a tunic and dress that would be perfect but it’s out of print and I haven’t seen any for sale.

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So sheer!  You can see why the pictures are on a dress form!

I knew this would be a trial run going in.  The fabric is a voile I got from Fabricmart when they had all their voile 50% off a few weeks ago and was my least favorite of my purchases.  At $3.50/yard it was almost as cheap as muslin.  The problem was when I pre-washed.  The print bled. Grr! I didn’t notice it until I was ironing prior to cutting.  It’s not readily apparent but there are areas all over that look like an old stain or a shadow. Unfortunately it was over the entire yardage so I couldn’t cut around it.  That’s such a disappointment, especially since I always wash in cold.

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Much easier to see in person.  Here it just looks like shadows or the print on the other side but I have a piece of white paper between the two layers.

I like the contrasting placket but this version in black is a little heavy-looking for the pool.  Other versions in white or a bright color might work better.IMG_2949_edited-1web

The pattern was for a top so I lengthened it by 2 inches.  I shouldn’t have.  This is long!  That combined with the boxy shape make it unflattering.  I could add some elastic to give it shape but with the fabric and fit issues, it’s not worth it.  I shortened the sleeves and left off the band at the bottom. I cut a small blended to a medium in the hips.  The sizing was fine except around the waist.  Though there are bust darts it’s pretty shapeless and makes you look huge!  If I use this pattern again, I’ll take it in at the waist and shorten it.

The directions were great. I’m really liking Kwik Sew patterns.  I just wish I liked more of their styles.  The seam allowances are 1/4 inch everywhere and 1/8 inch on the placket.  That makes it a little fiddly and I had to be careful, especially since this fabric frays if you look at it wrong.

So, in the end, it’s wearable but not ideal.  I’m considering it a wearable muslin.  I think I’ll try a different style blouse next. I’m still on the look out for the perfect tunic pattern.  Any suggestions?

Sewaholic Cambie

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I can’t believe I finally finished this dress!  I started the Cambie about three months ago but when I had too many fitting issues to allow me to complete it before an event, it languished in my sewing area for months.  Although I love the style, it’s not one I would wear regularly.  When I realized I had a wedding this weekend I figured I should just finish it and wear it.  It’s my first dress with a zipper and lining.  Yay! I have to admit I was worried about wearing this to a nice event.  What if the seams ripped open?  What if the fit was totally off and I was too close to the project to see it?  In the end, I think it turned out fine.IMG_2926_edited-1web

Initially I set out to make a muslin out of my cotton lining fabric and if it was close enough I’d already have my lining made.  Turns out I had quite a few adjustments to make so it required new pattern pieces and cutting all new lining fabric.  Sewaholic patterns are designed for a pear shaped person, which I thought I was.  I guess I’m not as dramatically a pear as she designs for.  So, I ended up with a 10 in the bodice and waist blended down to an 8 in the hips.  Totally the opposite of what I normally have to do.  Oh well, that’s what muslins are for, right?  I also had to shorten the bodice and back by an inch, shorten the straps and take in the side seams of the bodice so I ended up solidly between sizes.IMG_2841_edited-1webThe fabric is a stretch cotton on the outside (which I love) with just muslin for the lining.  Since it was a summer dress I went for a cotton lining to keep it comfortable.  I sewed my seam allowances a bit smaller on the lining since it doesn’t have stretch like the exterior fabric.  I don’t know if that’s a legit adjustment but it seemed to work.

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In hindsight I should have used a cream colored zipper –it’s showing more than it should.  The ends at the top of the zipper are a tad uneven but I can live with that -I don’t have to look at it.  I should have paid more attention (or any attention at all) to matching the pattern in the back. Luckily it’s not too bad.

I’m wondering if I should have taken the hem up another 1/2-3/4 of an inch – what do you think? I tried to have it hit right above my knee but it doesn’t look that way in the pictures.

Typical of Sewaholic patterns, the instructions and the process to complete the dress were excellent.  The only tricky part was sewing the lining to the zipper but Tasia has a tutorial on her blog that made it super easy.  The inside finish looks fantastic. The sleeve/strap insertion was very cool too. You do that at the last minute so it can be adjusted to fit you perfectly.

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Love the pockets. I know a lot of bloggers rave about pockets and I never really understood the passion out there for them.  I don’t carry things in my pockets and they add bulk.  But on this dress the pockets are great – very comfortable and don’t add any lumps.  I found myself using them a ton.  I wish I would have stabilized them as I read on Gertie’s blog this week but they were already done.  I have a feeling they will stretch out.

Speaking of stretching out…The only negative of the dress is some gaping at the neckline.  It doesn’t lie flat when I sit.  I had to watch myself at dinner or I’d give a show.  I don’t know if it is a fit issue or if the fabric stretched as I sewed it.  Might be both. You can kind of see the stretching below.

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I’m pretty psyched about the dress, more from an accomplishment standpoint than a wearing standpoint.  I’m not so sure I’ll wear it often only because when I wear dresses they are usually either dressier or more casual sundresses. This falls somewhere in between. If I still worked in an office I would make 10 of these!  I may make a solid black cotton version since I think that would be really versatile. I highly recommend the pattern!

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Kwik Sew 3610

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I think this might be the easiest thing I’ve sewn.  And possibly the quickest too!  I made the entire thing yesterday from tracing the pattern to sewing.  I hemmed it this morning and all together it only took a few hours. I wanted something easy because I’m procrastinating.  I have a Sewaholic Cambie half done and can’t motivate to re-do the zipper and sew and insert the lining.  I needed some almost instant gratification and this fit the bill!

I enlisted my husband to take the pictures for the first time. Our neighbors drove by and saw him taking pictures of me posing on the porch. If they didn’t think we were strange before they sure do now!  At least with my self timer and tripod I hide on our back deck!

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The good and the bad of Kwik Sew 3610.

Good:

  • Easy!  Great instructions.
  • Fast.
  • Somewhat adjustable by pulling the straps.
  • No fitting required.
  • Uses very little fabric.
  • Sizing is relatively normal.  I used the sizes recommended by the chart and it worked great.  I used a small through the bust and waist blended to a medium through the hips.
  • Cool, comfy and camouflages my tummy. Winking smile

Bad:

  • Shapeless.  The pattern pieces are basically rectangles through the body so it’s not the most flattering style.  It really needs some shape through the waist. It probably would look better with a curved hemline too.  I’ll keep looking for a halter or tank pattern that’s loose and flowy but still flattering.
  • The dreaded strapless bra!  Seriously, has there ever been a strapless bra invented that is both comfortable and stays up for longer than a few hours?
  • You need to be careful with the fabric you choose.  It needs to be light and flowy or it will make you look like a square (or, more than it already does).  Plus, it needs to be opaque because there’s no way to wear a camisole.
  • A little Becky Home-ecky?  Looks a bit too much like the pillow case dress patterns you see for girls.  This does have a bit more shape at the neckline and proper facings but still…  The pattern gives you directions on how to eliminate the bow on the straps which might help.

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All in all, given how quickly it went together, I like it.  I think it might be a good way to use some of the rayon challis I bought in prints so crazy I can’t picture them as full blouses. It’s also nice to have a cool top to wear with shorts that isn’t a knit tank.

And since someone else was taking the pictures, we got Sadie in on the action (sort of).

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McCall’s 6702

IMG_2535_edited-1webOtherwise known as my new mullet blouse.  When all the high-low hemlines came out last year I thought they were ridiculous.  I still think some of the dresses I see are kind of silly looking.  Maybe this top is too!  But you know how you see styles more often and they grow on you? I decided to try it because I don’t have any blouses to wear with skinny jeans this summer.  I basically live in white jeans in summer so I had to get sewing.

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M6702I probably should have posed with my bike after falling off  due to riding in stilettos.

IMG_2517_edited-1webMy husband’s comment when I showed him the blouse pressed on a hanger: “It’s nice, pirate sleeves and all.”  Thanks.

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This pattern has some issues.  Seriously, McCall’s, what is up with your sizing?  I’m getting so sick of the sizing confusion with big 4 patterns.  I couldn’t care less about the number I need to sew but at least if you recommend a size, make it fit with a normal amount of ease.  As a beginner, this is so frustrating and makes me hesitant to try new projects.  This top has a small-medium-large size range.  Easy, right?  Well, my bust and waist measurements put me in a medium, my hips in a large.  The fact the description says it’s suitable for maternity gave me pause. I made a small based on the finished garment measurements.  Fits totally fine. WTF? The medium may have helped the front lie flatter and fit better through the shoulders and upper back but it would’ve been even wider. IF there’s a next time, I may try a medium through the shoulders but take in the sides a bit.

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IMG_2549_edited-1webThe interfacing in the placket is too stiff – that may be the issue, not sizing. Hard to tell.

The pattern is labeled ‘Easy’.  Is that because it’s not fitted and has relatively few pieces?  When something is “Easy” I think a beginner should be able to pick it up with a basic amount of knowledge and put it together easily.  The design is simple.  But for an Easy pattern to call for the arm bands, the placket and the yoke facing all to be hand sewn (slip-stitched), it’s a little ridiculous.  I totally disregarded those instructions and top stitched or edge stitched. The diagrams are predictably unclear (nothing new for big 4 patterns).

The placket made me crazy. To be fair, I don’t know where the problem lies –with me because I read the directions 50 times and I still don’t know if I did it correctly (likely) or the pattern for the method of attaching the placket and teeny, crappy illustrations.  Part of the issue was I was picturing a placket in the traditional sense – one that looks like it’s on top or folded over the front and edge stitched.  I checked all the shirts in my closet and didn’t find anything similar to what this pattern called for.   It looks fine I guess.  I just wish there was a decent diagram in the instructions.IMG_2544_edited-1web

Yes, I’m pointing at you with my remote.  Another windy day!

The fabric is cotton voile and with the pouf of the sleeves, I’m glad it wasn’t too stiff. Mine is very thin and requires a camisole.  The V-neck is so low, you need one anyway.  It would be a fun top if you had fabric in a pretty print to showcase.

The worst thing though?  When snipping a thread, I cut a hole right in the front!  I didn’t know the proper way to fix it so I improvised by covering it with a satin stitch.  The collar covered part but it’s still really obvious.  Sad.  Too bad I don’t have shoulder length hair anymore.

I’m not sure about my feelings on this top. I like it in principle – good to wear with skinny jeans, boxy but still current. The sleeves are just silly.

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The front length doesn’t hit at a great place but that’s my issue, not the pattern. Given the time involved for the simple result, I doubt I’ll make it again. On the other hand, now that I understand the darn placket (I think), I could complete it quickly. Can you tell I haven’t decided if I like it yet?

Next up will be some super-simple, comfy summer dresses.

Have a great weekend!

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