Voom, Voom, Violet


Hey folks, I'm standing out on this patio in my sheath dress wondering when the cocktails will arrive. What? This is a state park and open bottles are frowned upon.  Well I never! I'll have you know that Smoky the Bear invited me personally and he mixes a mean chocolate martini. Only you can prevent forest fires and sobriety.
While I'm waiting for Smoky to bail me out of the drunk tank, let's talk about the dress. I'm wearing the newest pattern from Bluegingerdoll, the Violet dress.  This was actually the first ponte dress that was sewn during the Fall. The one that got me thinking about adding a few ponte pieces to my cold weather wardrobe.

Like the Bonnie pattern, you get a few mix and match elements with Violet. Choice of short straight skirt, long straight skirt, or flared circle skirt and 3 sleeve lengths.  You can see them all over on the Bluegingerdoll blog if you've got the itch. I've sewn a straight View A, long straight skirt with 3/4 length sleeves out of some rayon ponte. Queue the technical sketch!
Boom! You know I have a torrid love affair with technical sketches. That way you can see the yoke detail without squinting.  The separate yoke gives you a color blocking option or added visual interest in a solid colored fabric.  A little extra pizazz if you will.
Fitting changes I made to the pattern were...
- Standard Forward shoulder adjustment of 1/2".
- Sway back adjustment of about a 1/2". I could go back and take a bit more out there.
On a second version I'd probably narrow the back waist a bit or put some darts in since some fabric is pooling over my sway back.
Quick side bar discussion about ponte - After making a few things out of ponte fabrics of various fiber contents, I'm going to stick to rayon based ponte.  For one they feel really nice next to the skin. I can't say that about the polyester ponte used in the Nettie hack here.  Rayon ponte also is more forgiving on the lower half of my body.  The skirt widths are exactly the same size between Violet and the Nettie hacks, but I consider the Nettie to be too tight.  I'm happy with the fit on the Violet skirt in a rayon ponte. It shows some curves, but not more than I'm comfortable with. Side bar discussion closed. 

Getting back to the pattern, I would recommend ponte or another stable knit for the straight skirt versions.  For the flared skirt version, there's no reason you can't pull out some regular jersey and make yourself a swishy skirt. The only other notion you need for this is some clear elastic to sew over the bust gather. All in all it's a 2 hour sewing project once the fitting is worked out.

Violet is now available over in the shop as a PDF, with the paper version to arrive soon. If you're interested the code "Violet" will give you 10% off until 11/26. Until then I'll be staring at the horizon for Smoky the Bear.

P.S. Somehow Abby and I shared a hive mind and made this view in almost the exactly same color blue. Quite a feat considering this ponte has been in my stash 2+ years.

Last Bit of Fall Sewing


There are 2 more sewing weeks left before the Fall Essentials Sew-a-long is over, but boy is my schedule packed. This week is going to be all tutorial writing, pattern testing, blogging already finished makes and maybe a little Christmas sewing. The following week is going to be spent baking and then visiting relatives far away from the mini sweat shop. How's a girl supposed to plaid match a shirt dress with all that going on?   Gotta get myself a gaggle of sewing elves to continue garment production in my absence.

Before we get into reviewing my FES report card, I do have one more item to show you. One gray pleated "school girlish" skirt.
This pattern is from Burda Sewing magazine - issue 11/2009, pattern number 116. I liked the cluster of side pleats and thought it might be less bulky looking than an all over pleated skirt.  Burda 116 is a "front is the same as the back" affair with an invisible zipper on the side seam. No lining, no pockets, no darts, pretty much a beginner type of skirt.
If this fabric looks familiar it's because it's the "gray denimy stuff that must have wool" fabric that was originally earmarked for a shirt dress.  I had second thoughts about wearing this next to my skin and decided it would work better in a lined skirt.

Since this design was free through out the hips, I skipped the usual muslin stage and fit it on the fly. Started with the size 44, basted down all the pleats, basted one side seam and then tried it on.  The skirt needed around 1/2" removed for each side seam. Then it was easy to cut down the waist seam allowance a bit and apply the same change to the waistband.  Excellent! Froggie was pretty sure not making that muslin was going to haunt me.

I also made a few personal design choices on this skirt.
1. Burda tells you to draft a rectangular waistband for this. No thank you, I'll pull out my trusty self drafted curved waistband instead.
2. As drafted the finished length of the skirt is 31.5", which would be around mid calf on me.  I was pretty sure this would be really dowdy looking and reduced the skirt length to 24".
3. Added a lining to the skirt by cutting the Front/Back piece in lining and shortening the length by 1.5".
If I could tell past Heather to make one change, than it would be to remove the pleats from the lining to reduce weight. Both the self and lining fabric are light weight, but it adds up to one heavy skirt. Yikes! Every time I take it off the skirt hanger I'm slightly concerned for the health of the invisible zipper. Hang in there buddy. You've got your friend hook and eye to help you out.
Overall this skirt is comfortable and kind of fun to wear when you swirl it about.  However does add more bulk to the waistline area than I'd prefer. I'm not unhappy about making the pattern, but it's not going to be one that gets a remake.

OK. Now that I've squeaked the last garment in there, let's see how well this easily distracted sewcialist stuck to the Fall sewing list.
Fashionable Foundations
1.  Black denim pencil skirt - Completed. Already a little faded due to a poor washing decision. Probably should re-dye it black.

2. Wool circle or pleated skirt - Completed. As if you didn't know. ;)

Chic Chemises

1.  Ysolda's Chickadee out of stashed yarn - Completed.  It's been worn weekly so excellent wardrobe planning there.

2. One or two long sleeve Netties - Completed.  I sewed a solid green, solid black and a leopard print Nettie. You'll just have to take my word about the unblogged ones.

3. Vogue 8747 - Completed. Though I should take in the side seams a bit because it's yet to be worn.

Fabulous Frocks
1. McCall's 6696 - Not Sewn.  When I decided that the gray denimy wool was too itchy for a dress this got put on the back burner.  I've since bought some plaid shirting that would be an excellent shirt dress......if there is enough. I got the bolt in so instead of a full 3 yards there is only 2.5 which might not work with plaid matching.

Tender toesies
1. Hand knit socks Completed. Finished the "on the needles" sock project in plenty of time. Hooray!

Those Cozy Nights
1. Laura Lounge pants Not Sewn. Never bought fabric to make another pair of Laura Lounge pants. With my fabric buying track record that's not the worst thing.

Baby it's cold outside
1. Ottobre coat - Not Sewn. Couldn't get around to starting this before it go really cold, which was this weekend. Right now the plan is to make this a first of the year sort of project.

2. Hand knit berets - Had to frog.  I did knit a red beret using Ysoda's rose red pattern. I'm not into swatching for hats and sometimes that does bite me in the ass. In this case the finished beret is much to too and needs to be be reknit on smaller needles. No black beret was started so I only get half points for effort.

There was also the Fall Essentials addendum list which included:

1. Snow leopard top
2. Cobalt skirt or pants
3. Magenta top or skirt
4. Anything hot pink
5. Black and white striped raglan
I sewed everything on this list with the exception of the cobalt skirt/pants. Can't bring myself into cutting into the 2 yards of cobalt sateen in the stash. Maybe in the new year.

Out of 15 planned projects, 10 were completed. This might be a personal record for this girl who thinks sewing lists are just bossy pieces of paper. :). For that I'm forever grateful to Sarah who did the hosting work for this sew-a-long this year. Thank for giving me the "push" to finally make some of those basic pieces I really needed. 

The Holy Grail of Jeans


In the past I've talked about my problems with pants fitting in general. The crux of the problem being my giant backside and the amount of pattern manipulation needed to cover it. Scotch brand tape probably sees their stock go up when ever I try to alter a pants pattern. Quick Froggie, bring me another roll....or maybe a 3 pack.
Despite fitting aggravations, I've been amassing jeans supplies for years.  I've bought every jeans related class on Craftsy and tried numerous patterns. Most of them were complete failures and I smashed the multiple muslins into the trash can in a hulk like rage. Why so many jeans patterns for people with flat butts?  Can't those of us with bountiful booties have one? Cause I've tried to reverse engineer a "flat butt" pattern and it always goes sideways once you start adding 3+ inches to the rise. Not even kidding about the numbers here, the big booty genes are strong in my family.  It had gotten to the point where I'd thrown my hands up in the air about sewing jeans and decided to purchase NYDJ jeans from now on. (Side note - Best fitting RTW jeans I've come across. They don't gape in the back and the rise is longer than most. Though if you've got a big booty don't size down like they tell you.)

So I was never gotta try a jeans pattern again until Heather posted that she was releasing one. Heather is a bootylicious lady like me! Does this mean that big booty ladies finally have a jeans pattern?  I creepily tweeted her that my butt was very excited about this new pattern. At least I didn't attach a picture.
My hope for a big booty friendly pattern turned out to be true. I selected the higher rise skinny leg version and only made a large calf alteration before making a muslin. It fit better then most of my "real" pairs of sewn pants. Ahhhh it's so good when the fit model is closer to your figure than not.
I did go back and make several more fitting tweaks before sewing up this pair.  The next pair will have a few more fitting tweaks. That's pretty much pare for the course when it comes to pants fitting on my figure. That and there will always be wrinkles in the back of my legs because I need that ease to sit down. Curse you butt, can't your fullness be higher? Nope. Also giant calves and skinnies don't really mix,. But that's the style of jeans I like right now so screw it!

Those unfixable fitting issues aside, these are the most comfortable pair of jeans I've made to date. For once I want to make another pair of pants rather than run screaming towards some knit jersey. That's like winning the lottery in my book, the jeans lottery!

Ginger Jeans from Closet Case Files

Fabrics used
- Dark Navy stretch denim - I think this one was a designer roll end purchased from Hot Patterns. They don't sell fabric anymore but it was a good score at the time.
- Left over Chambury for the pocket bags and waistband facing.
- The top-stitching thread is Gutermann brand - Color 1870
- Jean's button from Cleaner's supply company.
And now these #gingerjeans are officially done. ������

Pattern changes/alterations
Quick run down of my lower body fitting problems - tilted waist, small lower back/sway back, large butt, post baby gut, full thighs, large calves and ankles.

1. Made a large calf alteration by slicing up the middle of the back leg. See Cation Design's pants fitting post for more info. This added about 1/2-3/4" extra circumference in the calf area. (My calf circumference is 15.5")
2. I also increased the calf circumference by folding the pattern up 1.5" to the knee and adding the same amount of length to the bottom of the pattern. (Most of that length was cut off later.)

3. Added 3/8" to the inseam of both the back and front legs since I carry a lot of weight in my thighs.
4. Increased the back rise 1/2" on the line provided on the pattern for my big butt.
5. Added 3/8" to the front side seams at the waist/pocket area and blended it out. This accommodates some of the post baby gut.
6. Took 3/8" off the CB seam of the yoke since my body starts narrowing as it goes to the back waist.

7. Darted out the back waistband 1.5". This the mid rise hits right at the narrowest part of my body and I needed to take a large amount out to get the waistband to lay flush on my lower back. Used 3 1/2" darts to reshape the waistband.
8. Reduced the length of the pants legs by 2.25". I cut it off the bottom rather of the pattern instead of using the shorten/lengthen point.

9. Moved the pocket placement up significantly. My muslin showed that the pattern's pocket placement was too low for my butt shape.  I might have overcompensated and put them too high. They are 1.5" down from the yoke on the side seam side and 1" down from the yoke on the CB side. For now I'm holding off on putting in rivets until testing out placement on the next pair.

- Since the stitch quality on my old machine is pretty crappy, I sewed these all on one machine. Pre-reading the instructions and grouping top-stitching verses regular thread tasks is the way to go.

- Didn't mention it on the blog, but due to a sizable donation from my sister I was able to get a new Bernina sewing machine in the middle of the year. It proved it's worth on this project as it chugged over multiple layers of denim without a problem. I did find that increasing the bobbin tension a bit worked well when using the top-stitching thread on the top of the machine.

- The instructions for Ginger Jeans are excellent. Each step has both a written instruction and pictures. Despite sewing numerous fly fronts the order of assembly is never retained by my brain. Heather instructions for this are easy and give you a great finish. Have no fear of fly fronts!

Husband Comment
"Looks great from the back." Which made me think of the 30 Rock "Brooklyn without Limits" episode. Don't think Tracy Jordan would have a problem with my butt size.

My Final Thoughts
I pretty much feel like my search for the perfect jeans pattern "for me" is over. I could jump up and down....so I did. You'll be seeing more of this pattern since all that hoarded denim can finally be sewn up. So, so, so much denim.

It's like you're an Executive Secretary or Something


Today I'm not sure if I'm a 50-ish secretary or a fancy school teacher. "Ahem. Your attention class. This afternoon we will be learning about the native habit of the Monkey Frog, tireless helper in the sewing room.  Make sure you have your fabric prepared and don't leave any cookies unattended."

I put a white blouse in the Fall Essentials sewing list because it's one of those things everyone needs but isn't all that exciting to sew.  If someone comes up to you and says, "Oh my god, I'm just frothing at the mouth about sewing a white button down shirt," then back away slowly cause they have rabies. Maybe throw some hand sanitizer on them for good measure.

That being said I was excited to try out the new pattern to me pattern V-8747.  It's got a few design details to spice up the shirt without getting Tilton sister crazy.  No offense to the Tilton sisters, they're way more avant garde then I'll ever be.  So without further ado, here's my version of V-8747 both tucked and untucked.
(Side note - I've paired V-8747 with a wool Betsy skirt that was made way back in the middle of the summer. You're seeing it for the first time cause who wants to wear wool in 80-90 degree weather.)

I used some lovely cotton shirting from the now closed Waechters. It has a woven in strip pattern that seems impossible to photograph. You'll just have to take my word that it's tasteful and makes cutting things on grain really easy.
Since I've no stranger to shirt sewing and was using non temperamental fabric, this blouse went together with very little angst. The only problems I had were self created stupid mistakes....several stupid mistakes. In the interest of keeping it real, here are some of the stupid things I did while making this blouse.
- Fused interfacing to every collar, cuffs, button bands piece there was.
- Cut the tips off of my collar when trying to grade down the seam allowances. Had to recut a new collar.
- Put button holes on the wrong side of one of the cuffs. Didn't even notice this while I was sewing on the buttons. It wasn't until I pressed the shirt that the mistake was finally noticed.

Thank god for extra fabric to fix dumb mistakes! Or maybe I made stupid mistakes cause there was extra fabric? Or maybe I shouldn't sew while my Quality Assurance Frog is taking a nap.  Ahhh my head!

Vogue 8747 - View D

Fabrics used
Blouse weight cotton from Waechters. (Stashed)

Pattern changes/alterations
- 1/2" Sway back adjustment.
- 1/2" Forward shoulder adjust to bodice and sleeve.
- Shaved down the front of the sleeve cap about 1/8" to get the sleeve to fit without puckers.

- I'd strongly suggest cutting down the neckline seam allowance to at least 3/8". The 5/8" seam allowance given is too large to sew the front curves without lots of clipping.

- The bust point must be low on this pattern because I didn't need to make any changes to the gather location. Those of you with higher bust points might need to raise this area.

- On a button down with higher buttons the shoulders would be perfect.  However since the neckline pulls open more I find the shoulder area looks too wide. Might narrow it a bit in the future.

- I could take a bit of ease out of the side seams on any future versions.

-  I did replace the cuff with the buttonholes on the wrong side. At least all that needed to be ripped out was the seam attaching it to the sleeve.

Husband Comment
"Wait....did you make that? Really?  I like these gathered things on the front. Makes it look like your chest is trying to rip open the shirt."

My Final Thoughts
This pattern is a nice twist on the traditional button down shirt. With the princess line seams and bust gathers you get a feminine look that is still work appropriate. Think I erred on the side of too much ease with this version, but that's easily fixable.

The fact that my husband didn't believe this was a hand made shirt did make my day. Let's not tell him about all those sewing mistakes....oh wait he reads the blog. I'll have to use the Jedi mind trick on him now. "These are not the blog post you were looking for. Move along."

Oooooo Witchy Woman, she got the flounce in her skirt.


Happy Halloween everyone! Do you have any fun plans cooked up for tonight? We're planning on taking Desmond for his first real door to door trick or treat experience. Previous years he's been ecstatic about sitting on the door step handing candy to other kids. His brain might implode with pure joy when someone hands him candy instead. What ever happens I'm looking forward to raiding his candy stash later. We all know he's not gonna eat those Almond Joy's.
This year I was in the mood to sew a costume, but didn't feel like spending the money to buy materials for something that would hardly get any use. The extent of my Halloween celebrations are hiding in another room while my husband is on the candy distribution duty. Can't let those adorable kiddies have the chance to pass their germs on to me. I see you hiding that bubonic plague under your Iron man mask! Never trust a cad like Tony Stark.

So instead of a costumy costume I took a page from some Halloween lovers on instagram and hatched a plan to "Dress like a witch." Well not a Wizard of Oz witch, or a Hocus Pocus witch, or even a Stevie Nicks witch. No disrespect Stevie, I can't carry off a shawl like you. Instead I decided to focus on the basics, the color black and some stripes thrown in.  Everyone know witches love stripes, right? Probably cause they make your eyesight vibrate until your pupils go all crossed. Once you can see again it's too late, you're in the witch's sack. Muhhaaa! Cannibalistic Treats!
For my quasi witch outfit I chose the Kitschy Coo trifecta top and Burda 6834 for the skirt.  I've made the trifecta top a couple of times in more sweatery knits and liked the fit.  In this bamboo knit the upper sleeves and bust area seemed to be too baggy.  I went back and removed 2" total at the underarm and tapered that out to the waist and elbow area. The neckband was also reduced in width to 1/2".
Burda 6834 is basically a princess line pencil skirt with a flounce sewn to the hem. Mine is sewn in some light weight wool suiting that was laying in the stash. I'd been toying around with the idea of drafting some sort of flouncy skirt when JoAnn's had sale on Burda patterns. Natch, drafting averted! Now I can use my free time to carve intricate jack'o lanterns.
I do owe a big thank you to a lot of my lovely sewing friends on Instagram.  My first muslin of this pattern was less than stellar looking on me.  I wasn't sure what the problem was, but figured a picture on instagram couldn't hurt. Immediately you guys told me to shorten the flounce length and just like that the skirt was 100% times better. Thank you all!!!!

My final flounce length is between the two specified in the pattern.  I used view B's cut line as the hem turn line. A 5/8" hem was added on so that I could finish the skirt with a machine rolled hem. Might as well take advantage of black hiding everything and give Froggie the night off from hemming.  His paws were covered in chocolate anyway.

Burda 6834 - Used a combo of size 16 for the waist and size 18 for the hips. People with normal sized rear ends most likely wouldn't to bump the size up in the hips.

Fabrics used
Shell - Lightweight stretch wool suiting.
Lining - Polyester lining.

Pattern changes/alterations
- Took in the back princess line seam 1.5".
- Cut down the front waist 3/8".
- Used the flounce cut line for view B as my skirt length. Added 5/8" hem allowance for a small rolled hem.

- Instructions tell you to interface the top of every pattern piece.  I used a roll of fusible stay tape pressed into the seam allowance for this.

- I skipped hemming the lining because it is so far up into the skirt no one is ever going to see it.

- Skirts without waistbands are not my preferred construction. Would add one if I make this pattern again.

Husband Comment
"It's sexy and professional!" Now I feel like naming this look "Profession witch."

My Final Thoughts
OK, so I thought, "This is gonna be a special occasion type of skirt." NOPE! Gonna wear it allllll the time. Basic black, you always do right by me. However.....if I was to make another one in a bright color which one should I go with? Just don't say orange or brown because then Froggie will have to slap you. Sorry it's a house rule. The other house rule we have is "EAT ALL THE CHOCOLATE!" Hand over the bag of assorted snicker varieties and no one gets an evil hex placed upon them.  Happy Halloween!

Retroish Nettie Dress


Ponte dresses, they've been around for awhile right?  I have to say they've never struck my fancy until this year. Maybe the Ponte Fairy visited me in the middle of the night and smacked me up the side of the head with her double knit wand. Heee heee hee that tickles!

What also helped my ponte conversion was stumbling across a few lovely retro inspired styles on the net.  The Joan dress by Outerlimitz and the Joanie dress by pinupgirl clothing to point out a few. Oh if only we could all be Joan for a couple of days. I'd give my eye teeth to always have a witty bon mot ready to put people back in their places. Alas this is not my lot, instead I'll be over in the corner giggling about some weird crap I just made up in my head. Frog tutus, Bam!

Anyway, let's just talk about the dress, shall we?  I really liked the pleat detail on the Outerlimitz dress and decided to drop that into a Nettie dress with a few style mods.  To make the dress a little more retro looking I gave it a boat neck and lengthen the skirt 5".
Full disclosure here, the dress came out little shorter and tighter than I'd envisioned. I'm also wearing a Rago girdle in these pics to suck everything in a bit.  This ponte is 100% polyester and had a much firmer recovery than the rayon based pontes I've worked with in the past.  Does anyone find judging knit ease needed more tricky in pontes than say regular jerseys? Is it just me?
View of the side pleats.  Looking at the pictures of the Outerlimitz dress makes me think that they might have sewn down the pleats a few inches. Something similar to a shoulder tuck cluster.
Skirt vent on the back annnnd me being reminded how big my back end is. Better pop on over to youtube to watch "Baby got back" a couple of times.   P.S. - Crazy windy on picture day so enjoy some weird hair.

I need to size this dress up a bit to be comfortable wearing it, but that doesn't mean I can't give you some hacking instructions in the meantime. Oh yeah, hacky, hack, hack.

Hacking Instructions
1 - For the front trace the skirt portion of Nettie and mirror it so that you have the whole front. Add seam allowance to the waist since it will now have a seam. If you want to lengthen the skirt do it at this time.  I've added 5" of length here. When all your changes are done, cut out the pattern piece.

2. Chose which side of the skirt will have the pleats. Measure down 2.5 inches from the waist and mark the location of the first pleat.

3. Mark 3 more pleat locations 2" apart from each other.

4. Using the pleat location marks, draw 4 lines across the whole pattern.  Keep the lines parallel to each other, but they do not need to be completely horizontal across the pattern.

5. Cut the lines from one side seam almost all the way to the other. Leave a small paper hinge.

6. Place paper behind the cuts and open up the slashes to the width you want your pleat. On this dress I've spread them apart 1".  Tape down the pleats at your chosen depth.

7. Cut off all the excess paper to complete the front skirt pattern.

8. For the back trace the pattern on the half. Add seam allowance to the CB and draw in a vent intake.  I made mine 5" high and 1.5" wide.

9. I used the same technique for converting the neckline to a boat neck as outline in this renfrew tutorial.  The shoulder seam doesn't need to be narrowed on Nettie. Place the french curve on the edge of the existing shoulder seam and redraw the neckline higher.  Here's a quick look at my back bodice.

10. On the front add two pleats in the same manner as you did on the skirt.  The lower pleat is 2.5" from the waist and the second is 2" away from the first pleat.

Sewing Notes
1. When sewing the dress, fold the pleats up towards the waist. Secure them with some basting before sewing the side seam. Once the side seam has been sewn the basting can be removed.

2. The neckline is finished in the same manner as the previously mentioned boatneck tutorial.

3. The back vent is top-stitched just like you would on a woven garment.
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