Had to try the Off-the-Shoulder trend

SImplicity4177OfftheShoulderAnd I decided I like it! This is an easy fitting top that I actually feel pretty comfortable in. This knit is so soft and hangs well in this style. And I love bright pink tops. That accent color is definitely in my color palette.

S4177ElasticOfftheShoulderBefore the end of the year I bought The Curated Closet and devoured it. It makes so much sense to work out a plan so you feel great in every outfit in your closet. And on my recent trip to the LA fashion district for fabric procurement it really kept me focused on the fabrics and colors I want to wear. Except for one piece of rather expensive peach/gold linen I bought. Not sure what came over me there! Sometimes that happens to me in fabric heaven. I am getting better, though.

Anthropologie dressing roomSince I wasn’t sure about this trend I had not purchased an actual pattern specifically in this style. I tried on this top in Anthropologie and knew I liked the idea of it, but wanted to make it myself. You can see how transparent it is, and yet what can you wear under an off-the-shoulder top for modesty?

S4177modificationsSo I took a very simple peasant top pattern with raglan sleeves (Simplicity 4177 OOP), straightened off the top and folded it over for a casing and inserted elastic. You can see I didn’t cut down the neckline much because I knew I would be folding it over an inch and a half for my casing.

S4177SleeveDetailI love 3/4 sleeves, so I shortened those and made a mini casing for some comfortable elastic there. A very simple alteration that made the top feel customized.  Long sleeves are silly here, and I knew I wanted to wear this if I could during summer. This week it reached 90 degrees, but I know the entire summer won’t be that oppressive and I’ll get to wear it. It would even look cute with shorts.

SimplicityOffshoulderblouse1Now that I decided I like this trend, I went ahead and purchased Cynthia Rowley Simplicity 8124. I don’t know how necessary that pattern is, but I pretty much buy every Cynthia Rowley pattern and I do love the little romper. And I just noticed that the sample dress on the pattern is 3/4 sleeves! Cynthia and I, we think alike!

S4177BlouseMy one regret is my obvious and distracting tank top tan lines. Ugh. Since taking these photos I’ve remembered to apply sunscreen all over my shoulders before I go running. You would laugh harder if you saw my legs! A harsh shorts line mid-thigh and a less defined but still discernible one at my ankle.

And there is my handsome and helpful photographer reflected in the window. It is fun to have him in a shot with me! Where’s Waldo (I mean, Reid)?

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Suede S8174 Mimi G Moto Jacket

simplicity-8174-jacketAnother moto, really? I just can’t help myself! Yes, there is a limit to how many of these I need in my closet, but I will say that they are so fun to sew and it was really fun to try this new pattern from Mimi G, Simplicity 8174. I am getting better and better at constructing them, and that is so deeply satisfying! I think they look great with jeans, which I wear most of the time. Continue reading

Simplicity 1158 Border Print Romper

Simplicity Sure, maybe it took me a year to finish this guy, but it was worth the wait. My first romper! I feel very sassy wearing it, and I love saying the word romper and the whole concept of rompers. I am really into wearing shorts right now, so this is a solid move into the zone of wearable but trendy for me. Simplicity 1158 got lost in the move, but it has been found and finished!

Simplicity 1158 crossover backWho is excited about border prints right now? This was one of the first I bought (maybe close to 2 years ago now?) but since then I have been acquiring them like mad. There are so many cute ones out there, and they can give such a custom look to garments. In this case, I used the dark border on the bottom of the shorts, then flipped it over and used the dark up at the neckline to emphasize the halter style. It turned out really cute!Simplicity 1158 jumpsuit

The crossover back is such a clever design detail to make the romper easy to get in and out of. The ties that extend from the neckband thread into casings at the top of the back and you can tie them in a bow. In retrospect, it would have been cuter to have shorter ties so that the crossover detail isn’t hidden, but for you guys I did get a picture while the wind swept the bow to the side.

Simplicity 1158 romperSince completing this romper, I’ve also made another pattern up and I see that a big question with the romper is how to get in and out. The whole thing has to come down over the widest part of your body, so that neckline opening must accommodate it. The crossover plus the threaded casings really allow you open that top part up, so this is definitely a pattern I’d recommend for someone with a wider hip measurement. And the sexy emphasis on the shoulders is great, too!

The neckline has lovely pleats and a beautiful finish that lies really nicely. This fabric is the lightest, floatiest, slipperiest poly something and it was very difficult to work with, but the neckline turned out fantastic. The back diagonal seam facings are supposed to be reinforced with interfacing, but in my floaty fabric that was too much weight. I put it in, saw how it hung, then cut almost all of it out.

Simplicity 1158 necklineI also realized, rather late in the game, that it would be wise to line the shorts. Since I started these while I lived in Washington, a much cooler climate, the floaty fabric might have worked, since I never perspired. But, now that I live in California, my bum and back thighs stick to any and all chairs as soon as I sit in them. I have found myself in the uncomfortable position of peeling my unlined dresses off my backside after sitting down for any length of time. Super classy. So, after the shorts were assembled it occured to me how urgerntly I needed to line the bottom half. I cut another pair of the shorts out of nude rayon lining fabric, sewed them up, and dropped them into the outer ones, wrong sides together, and joined them at the waist seam. All fixed at the last minute and no more sticky buns.

S1158 liningMy biggest piece of advice with rompers is to try them on again and again to make sure the proportion is correct. Specifically the length of the bodice + the length of the shorts rise = perfect. Depending on a longer or shorter bodice, you must consider how it will all hang together, in addition to shorts length. I am tall, so I always add length. To a romper I add to both the bodice and the rise so I have plenty to work with. Then I have to experiment, and this can take some time. It just does, I’m afraid, but I know that was time well spent. Everything here hangs well, with the top blousing gracefully and the shorts smooth, not bunchy.

Simplicity 1158 border print romperGear up to gaze upon my rompers and jumpsuits, my friends, because I’m on a roll now! There is more to come. In the meantime, go ahead and listen to our 4th episode of Clothes Making Mavens where I get to interview one of the most talented (and nicest) people in our sewing community – Lori from Girls in the Garden! And answer our burning question “What was your proudest sewing moment?” by either calling, writing us a message, or leaving me a comment here!

Ep4 Lori V

More tulip skirts because sometimes I surprise myself

S2451 skirtPerhaps I should repeat patterns more often. I don’t make patterns again usually because I am so easily distracted by the next thing. My to-sew list is very long! But I decided to whip another S2451 skirt because my first version was completed on the verge of too big and then I lost an inch and a half around my waist, so now it really really is too big. But after wearing that one a couple times I realized how much I love the style! Especially with slightly cropped tops, which I am suddenly obsessed with. The evolution of my style is an ebb and flow of change.

Simplicity patterns 2451 skirtSo this one is a size smaller and I shaped the side seams a little to curve just the way I want them. It fits me like a glove and sits just below my natural waist. In fact, it fits so well that I had to unzip it to nap in yesterday. Gotta get comfy for naptime, you know.

Simplicity 2451 skirtThis version is unlined and serged inside to keep the mid-weight denim manageable for summer. The denim also has a bit of stretch so I reinforced the top of the waistband between the 2 yokes with seam binding so it would stay stable. I am in love with top-stitching with my new BERNINA 350PE, but I could only figure out how to incorporate it around the yoke, hem and up the side seams for reinforcement. I also did a little tack at the pocket to keep that opening stable. You know how I love the pockets on this skirt and they will get used!

denim tulip skirtThis time I made a lapped zipper, which made me a little sad to cover the pretty brass zipper up. But I followed the directions for a change. I added a hook and eye at the top to secure it. It does look neat and tidy, I’ll admit, even though I love an exposed zipper.

sewing tulip skirt patternYay for me, I recently made a S1366 cropped top to wear with it – and I’m sure a tucked in top will be great, too. I’m currently on a cropped top bender, so you’ll be seeing more of them, oh yes! My Liana jeans have more of a mid-rise, too, and it is so comfortable! My tummy isn’t spilling out over my waistband – everything is tucked in place better. I remember very clearly when I started to wear low-rise jeans in high school because I just pierced my belly button and the low rise didn’t irritate it. That piercing is long gone, let me tell you, so let’s bring the waistline up again! It makes me feel so cute and put together.

denim tulip skirt zipperBullet points:

  • Went down a size to make the waistband sit right under the natural waist and it feels great there.
  • This mid-weight denim has nice structure for the shape but I left off lining it so I would stay cooler during the summer.
  • Just a little bit of topstitching. Wish I could have added more, but I couldn’t figure out how to tastefully throw more on!

S2451 denim skirt

Becoming a Cynthia Rowley fangirl with S1366

Simplicity 1366 outfitI was just in your face a week ago telling you how I loved my last dress, a Cynthia Rowley for Simplicity pattern, and here I am again with the same boring story! This time it is Simplicity 1366, which everyone else in the universe has tried and loved, so now it is my turn, damn it!

Simplicity 1366 camiThe pattern consists of a crazy skirt (would be fun to wear for an event, but not IRL so much), a spaghetti strapped bias camisole, and a perfectly cut boatneck boxy top. I dove in full throttle and made both the cami and the top, so this post is a two-fer.

Simplicity 1366 crepeFirst, the camisole is a really great basic pattern that could and should be made in every luxurious fabric you can get your hands on. My mystery fabric is some kind of crepe that flows and hugs in the most delightful way!  The bias cut just makes the fit suburb.

Simplicity 1366 rolled hemI made skinny straps that I left round like spaghetti, and finished the top edge with self binding instead of the enclosed facing pieces. The facing would probably be quicker and easier, but I only had like 3/4 yard of this lovely fabric and bias garments eat fabric like crazy. My binding was very pieced together, but I made it work. For the bottom I just used the rolled hem on my serger. A word of warning – hang the top up on your dressform over night before hemming because it did distort, even just that tiny bit of fabric!

Simplicity 1366 top with shortsThen I moved onto the top. Another mysterious piece of crepey chiffon (sorry, I thrift shop and shop the LA fashion district and nothing is marked) but this one is much sheerer. It was also quite a bit harder to sew, but I still managed to do french seams on this sides. I had to just serge the armholes, though, because after going over the side seams twice while doing those french seams and feeling the shifty dance under my sewing foot, I knew I could not set a smooth sleeve if I tried to use french seams.

Simplicity 1366 backThen, when I tried it on, I saw that the fabric had shifted quite badly in one spot while I cut it and I had to even the hem out by nearly an inch. That almost made the top too short for long torsoed me, so I preserved length by serging and flipping the bottom hem. The neckline I finished with vintage pre-made bias binding. The leftovers from my last dress, actually.

Simplicity 1366 topNot much of a story to tell, except I love this pattern and Cynthia and I must rush out and get ever one she’s ever made and sew them up immediately! There is a reason this pattern is so popular, I can assure you!

Simplicity 1366 1Quick points:

  • Bias cut camisole results in a such a beautiful fit that hugs and skims.
  • The top is deceptively simple but so well cut. I didn’t bother reading the instructions, I just finished it the way I felt was best for the fabric.
  • Here are some of my favorite iterations of this great pattern: Pippi, Elizabeth, and Lara’s sweater version.

Cynthia Rowley has my heart with Simplicity 1939

Simplicity 1939 dress chiffonYou never know what you are going to get when thrift shopping, especially for patterns. Actually, mostly you do know what you are going to get…80’s big shouldered dresses, or some shapeless “Easy” frocks. But 1 lucky day I unearthed this OOP Simplicity 1939 dress for 69 cents. Yes!

Navy chiffon border print dressWhen I paired it with this beautiful border print heavy chiffon, I knew I was making things difficult for myself. I only had 2 yards because I had bought it like 3 or 4 years ago at the Sew Expo in WA at the Vogue fabrics booth. I couldn’t have known at that time that this pattern was going to fall into my lap!

S1939 dress with tiesI cut my pattern pieces out and played tetris on the fabric. If I eliminated the armhole bands, took width out of the skirt, and cut the ties down the left overs, I had just enough. And I mean just.

Simplicity 1939 sew in chiffonWhat I did was redrafted the front and back pattern pieces to add the width of the finished armhole bands onto those pieces. It only made those pattern pieces a little wider, but eliminated some big fabric hogs that were those bands. It simplified the sewing process a bit, too. I ended up finishing my armholes with navy vintage bias tape I also found thrifting!

S1939 chiffon dress sewFor the ties around the neck, I just used the scrap I had left. I was glad I got a bit of the border at one end to make it more interesting up near my face. I could only cut 1 tie that I doubled over and used to finish the neckline.

S1939 dress in navy chiffonI had to line up the hem of the skirt with the border, and I didn’t want to cut any of the lovely moss green color off, so I just made a very narrow hem by folding over my selvedge and stitching it. I also wanted to preserve the length, because I’m kind of a tall girl and nothing is worse than a too short maxi dress!

Cynthia Rowley pattern 1939 For the innards, I interfaced the waist yoke and inserted an invisible zipper. I have no idea if that was in the instructions or not, but it seemed necessary, so it probably was. When I tried it on, the yoke seemed a little large, so I added elastic into the top seam to keep it from slipping down.

Cynthia Rowley Simplicity pattern dress 1939This is my favorite dress ever. I will wear this dress every week this summer and feel like a million dollars in it. Look at the drape of those shoulders! The cute tie! And in my favorite colors ever! Cynthia Rowley, you design a mean dress.

I entered this dress, and 5 other garments, in to the Endless Combinations contest at Pattern Review. You should go check out all the lovely things the ladies made and go vote for your favorite,

Quick bullets:

  • Interior engineering of interfacing, invisible zipper and elastic in the yoke.
  • Had to change the pattern quite a bit to fit on 2 yards of fabric, but I succeeded!
  • Surprisingly lovely pattern! I might try the raglan sleeve version. Cynthia Rowley does good work.

 

 

Brown polka dot blouse

sideandsleeveI made this chiffon number a couple of years ago, before I learned about the wealth of sewing knowledge available on sewing blogs from around the world. I didn’t know how to finish my chiffon seam allowances. And I didn’t know how to handle the slippery chiffon, making this a miracle that it even came together! I was just getting used to my rolled hem foot and that tiny rolled hem foot is tricky to master on any kind of material, but especially slippery, ravelly chiffon. Continue reading