Thursday, October 27, 2016

Dino dress

Some friends cleaned out their fabric stash recently, and I was the recipient of a bunch of assorted fabrics. When I saw this dino print, I knew I had to put it on my body somehow.
I'm going to a science writing conference this weekend, and I'll be spending Halloween with my 2- and 4-year-old goddaughters, and a garment with dinosaurs on it is perfect for both occasions, so I finally got around to making something with it this week. There was a scant yard, so I couldn't make a whole skirt or dress, and I thought with something that loud it would be a good idea to tone it down rather than make a whole shirt out of it. It's also kids' flannel PJ fabric (just like the bicycle skirt I made a few years ago that's now one of my favorite skirts), so rounding it out with a lighter-weight fabric would be a good idea. I eventually decided on Butterick 6280, which has the option for a contrast center panel in the front and two in the back.

I didn't quite have enough fabric to do the contrast in the center back as well (I could have if I hadn't cared about flipping the pattern upside down), so I did view B without the back contrast. I thought about doing sleeves in the dino print as well or with a dino print border, but when I saw the forecast for the conference/Halloween, I decided to go sleeveless. (85 degrees on Halloween! Yay Texas!)

I had a lot of options for contrast color. My friends' fabric included red, yellow, and light brown fabric that would have gone well with the dinos, but I wanted something a little less bright, so I decided on an old green sheet.
Construction was pretty straightforward. I cut a 10 in the shoulders and bust and sloped out to a 14 in the waist and hips. It was a little snug at first from under the bust to the top of the hips, but letting out about an inch in the side seams fixed that. I might cut a 12 in the top next time, but that might make the shoulders a little too wide. I think it would be nice for the neckline to be a less snug or lower, but it might be challenging to change that significantly. Part of the problem is that it's so bulky (6 layers), and there's not much that can be done about that.
The dress has pockets! At first I made them in a contrast yellow polka dot fabric (I wanted the contrast there but thought the flannel would be too stiff), but they showed more than I wanted when they were just lying there, so I recut them in the green sheet. Later I realized I had done a 5/8" seam attaching them to the dress rather than 1/4", and that probably would have fixed the problem, but I had already committed to the green by then.
It was kind of a pain to put the lining in, more hand sewing than I prefer. I might simplify the lining next time. The one mistake I made was in the zipper I chose.

I have a ton of zippers from a fabric store going-out-of-business sale (RIP, Hancock) and my mom's stash. I didn't want to go out and get a zipper just for this project, so I used a 22" tan invisible zipper I had on hand. The tan matches a color in the print perfectly, so I wasn't worried about the pull being a contrast color, but I didn't realize the zipper would show as much as it did when it was finally made. When I zipped it up after making it, it didn't show at all, but it turns out that actually putting a body in the dress and moving around makes it show a little bit. Not a huge deal, and it's a novelty dress after all, but I kind of wish I had gotten a zipper that matched better, either invisible or not.

Overall, I'm happy with this dress. I think it's really flattering and fun, and I'll probably get some non-Halloween use out of it as well. I like this pattern, too, and I'll probably make it again. It's definitely a good way to show off a fun fabric.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Summery striped top

We've moved into a house, and I've been trying to get back into the sewing groove now that I have more space to spread my stuff out. This is a refashion of a top I thrifted a year or two ago. It was a vintage (I'm guessing '80s) blouse with long sleeves, and like many blouses that fit me in the shoulders and bust (this one was even a little too big in the upper chest), it was too tight in the hips. It is 100% silk, and it's that really soft, suedey silk. (I don't really know the names for different weaves of fabric.) It's very lightweight fabric with a beautiful drape, so I decided to make a flowy sleeveless summer top out of it.
I don't have a full-length mirror in my sewing room yet, and I'm really bad about taking good "before" pictures.
I cut the sleeves off, made the armholes a little smaller, and finished the armholes with bias tape I bought at Liberty in London when I was there two years ago. I love the floral print with the black background! I think it looks perfect with the black and white stripes. The fact that the shoulders were a little too wide ended up giving the shirt a really relaxed cap sleeve look.

Then I tackled the hip issue. I cut two triangles of fabric out of the sleeves I had removed. I decided to make the stripes on the triangles horizontal instead of vertical for a little visual variety. I ripped out the side seams up to a little bit above my natural waist and sewed the triangles into give me a total of about 6 extra inches in the hips. It took a bit of trial and error to get everything smooth, but it worked out. Then I finished the bottom hem with more of the bias tape.

I'm pretty happy with the result. The one tiny flaw is that because the bottom of each triangle was cut straight across rather than scooped in a little bit, the bottom hem stands out slightly around the hips. If I were more self conscious about my hips, it would probably bother me. I may go back and fix that someday, but I'd have to pull off a ton of bias tape and then reattach it, so I probably won't.
It's a nice, easy summer top. I think it looks good with skinny jeans, and more importantly, it's soft and breezy. I could just live in it all summer.