Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Made! - McCall's 7119 and 7572

You know how sometimes certain styles make you feel more like yourself?

I feel that way about long skirts and dresses. Double it if there's a wrap involved somewhere.

In case there's any question...I LOVE this dress!!

The pattern is McCall's 7119, and I made View C.

I cut a size 12 and other than a long waist adjustment, didn't alter it, so this is a pretty good wearable muslin! In the future, I will redraft the bodice so it curves in tighter to my body. It's a little generic in the fit now, but with a cami underneath, it's no problem.  The dress is hemmed to work well with flats.

I went all out on the finishings here.

Every seam is a French seam, and I added stay-stitching at every bodice seam, so she would hold her form.  I understitched the band, and slip-stitched the facing in place.  Can you believe that none of that was in the instructions?! Such simple steps, but they make all the difference in the final product.

I had some red satin ribbon on hand, so I added a ribbon stay to the waist seam.  I'm surprised this was not in the directions for this particular view, as no matter what fabric you use, a floor length skirt will be heavy, so the seam needs reinforcement.  My reinforcement comes in the form of red satin ribbon that just so *happens* to match the red of my garment fabric.  ...pats herself on the back for buying Christmas wrappings that will double as sewing notions...

It's been some time since a make corresponded to a life event. This one did!  There was an event called New Music Gathering, which took place in Bowling Green, Ohio in May.  My chamber music project, L+M Duo, performed, and on top of that, it was a great professional/networking event. order to feel confident...I had to make a special dress for meeting all the important people! :)  It's a little embarrassing how affected my confidence and mood are by my clothes, but I've accepted it and now make my sewing obsession do the work for me!

The tunic is from McCall's 7572, View D.

Obviously, it was made from scraps of fabric from the maxi dress.  I shouldn't have had that much left over, as I bought the amount stated on the envelope. Oh well! I'll take getting another garment out of it.

I did have to piece the back together, but I rather like the design I came up with.  Again, the insides are treated well with French seams, and there's a good amount of handstitching at the neckline. Other than that, she was easy.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Made! - Simplicity 2756

Stash-busting projects are the best. When you don't have to buy anything to make a garment because you have perfect leftovers.

This top is one of those projects.

She's a simple one: Simplicity 2756, one of the first released Project Runway patterns.  The idea behind these is that you pick and choose what elements you want to make, and the envelope tells you how much added material to purchase for a ruffle, bubble sleeve, long sleeve, yoke, collar, or any combination of the above.
Image result for simplicity 2756  Image result for simplicity 2756

I've used this pattern twice before, both long before I started blogging. One of those projects was part of a costume for the musical Little Women.  The yoked, long-sleeve version was perfect. I used velcro anywhere a button would be for quick changes, and combined with a long skirt from a different pattern, made a perfect outfit.

But back to this project!

The material is leftover from when I made Butterick 5814 years ago, while still living in WV.  The dress fit alright, but a long torso adjustment was too fiddly and I would up giving the dress to Goodwill after one wear (and subsequent wash, of course!).

I like this top a lot. I've always been a fan of raglan sleeves, and I love the colors of this fabric, as well as the open neckline.  Due to a slight shortage of fabric, I shortened the sleeves and finished them with a narrow hem.  I rather like the simplicity and proportion of it.


I graded from a size 6 at the shoulder to a size 12 at the hip, lest I accidentally make a mumu instead of a top.  Inside seams are either serged or French seams, and the neckline is bound with single-fold bias tape.  It was an easy make, and a satisfying one as I got to use the remnant stash.

Can't believe it's been April since the last post.  Husband and I have been traveling everywhere and playing concerts in different cities, so we've had a lot to focus on the last two and a half months.  I've been sewing: 1 maxi dress, 1 tunic, 1 bespoke shirt for husband, and now this top - but there's been no time to blog. I've barely had time (and energy) for work email, practice, and home improvements (like a brand new DIY backsplash across our entire kitchen) as it is.

Anyway, onward and upward, with hopefully more blogging as we go!

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Made! - Vintage (1973) Simplicity 5914

Finished a few weeks ago, I present my most recent project!

I'm well-pleased with how this dress turned out! I was able to practice a number of techniques, from handstitching to French seams on the armscye.  

The pattern was gifted to me by my first grade teacher, Mrs. Worth. We have reconnected via Facebook and a love of sewing, and she surprised me by dropping off a bag of patterns that she no longer uses.  This one is a 1973 release: Simplicity 5914. 

I made View 2, shown in blue
I was intrigued that the size printed was a 12.5...and guess what? It fit perfectly! I only made a few alterations, like a long torso, erect back, and armhole adjustments, but I always do those things. The sleeve width, bust, waist, and hip all fit without effort. Yay!

It's cool that they used to print pattern pieces on the envelope back. They don't do that anymore, probably because they made the line drawings much larger, or because they now print directions in French on the back as well. 

The fit through the back is one of my best: clearly fitted, but enough ease to really move without worry. I played piano and marimba in this for a few hours with no pulling at the arm or center back. I'm rather proud of the centered zip - typically, I avoid these, but decided to give it another go, mostly because there wasn't a good way to make it lapped, due to the collar at the top, or move it to the side, due to the sleeves. 

The center front seam has serged allowances and is handstitched at the point. The sleeve cuffs are whipstitched so they won't get floppy and fiddly in the wash.

I did my usual collar trick of removing 1/16" from the underside so the edges rolled nicely. These lapels turned out great! The topstitching was a great test of patience and focus, as I used really small stitches and didn't want to rip any out to start over!

Lastly, here's a different angle to see the color of the fabric more accurately.

On second thought, maybe next time I'll remove a bit of width from the bodice fronts, but for the moment I'm satisfied. I wore it to work with leggings underneath (casual Fridays, mmhmm), but need to purchase a slip for warmer weather. The fabric is probably a little too thin for this design, but I really wanted to use it anyway. It was purchased from my local store, as was the zipper. Yay, supporting local business!

I've got a maxi dress in the works for New Music Gathering, a conference of sorts that I'll be attending and performing at next month.  It's almost done, and I can't wait to share it!! :)

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Made! - The Grace Dress (Butterick 5556 and Vogue 8645)

In an effort to make more clothes that are elegant yet easy I came up with this pattern hack: B5556 and V8645.  The combination of easy sleeves and slip-on design is just what I was looking for.
Image result for butterick 5556  Image result for vogue 8645

The material is a fuchsia wool crepe bought from my local fabric store.  It's slightly heavy, so it makes this a great 3-season dress.  I imagine it will be too warm for summer.

Thanks to husband for taking pictures after a long day.

To create The Grace Dress I taped the top of B5556 to the bottom of V8645 and combined curves to make one piece.  While constructing the dress I removed some of the ease so I didn't feel swallowed by fabric.  Midi length doesn't have to equal too much fabric - neither does maxi, for that matter! This is probably why I subconsciously avoid gathered styles...don't need to add volume.  Stress and being overworked does that for me naturally...if you catch my drift. (See also: wobbly bits return when the half marathon is over)

This dress is named for my sister, really just because I only name things after special people.  My skirt, the Suanna, is named for my closest friend.  Grace, my sister, does have a way of dressing that never looks too fussy, even if you can tell she is well put together. So, in a way, her style was in my mind while making this garment.

I was a little fussy about the finishing of this dress, however. Each seam is either serged or folded over, stitched, and whip-stitched to the dress.  This means that even though she wrinkles, she will never have funny seam creases. All facings are also whip-stitched.

The collar was a small labor of love, as I decreased the facing by about 1/16", which helps it roll the right way and prevent it from flipping up at the front of the neckline.

I wore this dress to work the day after I finished it and received plenty of compliments, which always makes for a happy day.  It looks best with my nude pumps, so I bit the bullet and wore those to work. Obviously, it was a day that did not require a trek across campus!

Attempts to get photo of a side view were comical with LooCat needing to be part of the process...

She painstakingly crafts her tail to floof like that.

Not joking.

I'll be making either this dress or V8645 again.  The low-maintenance vibe is something I can't resist.

Blogging is running behind these days (it feels like I'm ALWAYS saying that).  I've had multiple concerts every week - and those are ones I'm performing in, not just attending. It's what I've trained to do, so it's something I can do well. But, it doesn't mean I don't get behind on other parts of my life, like blogging, cleaning, landscaping, cooking, fixing the house, decorating the house, writing on my OTHER blog, making new videos, prepping another arrangement, laying groundwork for a CD/video project, etc.

Needless to say, the Creative Laurels house is ready for the slower pace of summer. :)

A career on an academic schedule packs 12 months of work into 9, especially if you're in the arts. Between teaching and rehearsals and performances, 10-14 hour days on campus aren't rare, even if you're part-time.  I love it, though, and it's cool to watch the students grow. also makes me ready for summer. ;)

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Made! - Vogue 1516

When you're a professional musician, there's no such thing as enough black in your wardrobe.  Concert black is something I put on weekly, and even on days when I'm not performing, black-on-black is something that will always make you look matter what, and is therefore a go-to when getting dressed in the morning.

Super-awesome flowy top courtesy of my mom on my 30th birthday.
Growing tired of my usual fare of black skirt or trousers, I decided to make myself something more unique! A pair of satin cigarette ankle-length pants.  I purchased Vogue 1516 for the pants as well as View B, the layered top, which I look forward to sewing!

Image result for vogue 1516
Vogue 1516 - Views B and D

The pattern is drafted for woven material, which is what I planned to use. There's a natural challenge here, as you have to decide if you want the pants to look great standing up or be comfortable sitting down.  Unless there's stretch in the material, you have to choose. Alas, alack, that's how it is.

My locally purchased crepe back satin is of high quality and zero stretch.  Knowing I was making these pants for collaborative piano performances I opted for the comfy-while-sitting fit. As a result, they are rather loose when standing.  In some ways I worry they make me look wider on the bottom than I actually am, but I love how well they fit when I sit down to play.  I know they look slightly shimmery on stage, and that they look like they fit really well - because they do!  I used the "wrong" side as the "right" side, because there's Oh look, they're shiny! and then there's Oh.....look. They're shiny.

In my efforts to not overfit, the waist is a tad bit more loose than I'd normally like. But, again, when I sit (and the belly, you know..."relaxes" they aren't too tight, which means sitting through an hour [or more] of playing is comfortable.  Always a plus.

I really like this design, and will make them again out of a material with stretch, so I can fit them a bit more.

I'm a fan of the seam running down the back of the leg.  It affords some nuanced fitting and looks great.  In the satin it provides a simple detail that adds to the "expensive factor."  I'm not one that cares if her clothes look expensive, as I'm of the mindset that if it fits, it's going to look expensive, but I do like when pattern, material, and fit really work together.

Husband helped take these photos when I got home from playing a recital for two clarinetists.  Nothing like a little Hindemith on a Saturday afternoon. (Musical inside joke, sorry.)


Look at them shoes!!!!!!!!!!! Nothing like a great clearance find, right?!

And for anyone really paying attention, yes! I cut my hair!  I make a tri-annual donation to Locks of Love. This time I donated 12 inches, and my hair has already grown quite a bit in the few weeks since I cut it.  My hair grows really fast. Like, disturbingly fast.  I figure the best thing to do with it is let it do its thing and then donate it to hopefully make a positive difference.

I'd like to find more things that help others, but there's only so many hours in a day. Looking forward to summer when I'll be able to make more of a difference!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Made! - Vogue 1387, view B

As my first garment post-quilt, this was a really enjoyable project: Vogue 1387, a Rebecca Taylor design.
Image result for vogue 1387

Previously used for a gift for my mom (View A, blogged about here), I decided a long sleeve version for myself would be great for the season and work.


The pattern is drafted beautifully. The front yokes and bias bands above the pleats are not altered to fit my shape - they just naturally fit.

Some Changes
- Graded to a size 6/8 around the waist for more shape
- Used a reverse pleat instead of gathers at the back yoke (next time I'll do gathers)
Welcome to our living room!
- Graded to a size 6 from the armscye to the wrist
- Overall, used size 10 in width, but size 12 in length
- Made my usual long torso adjustment, adding about an inch between the bust and waistline
- Used buttons rather than snaps because I LOVE BUTTONS

All seams are French seams, and the armscye allowances are whipstitched to the facings where possible, which will keep everything in place.

an inside view

one long French seam from wrist to hip
In addition to the fitting changes, I also constructed this shirt the way I like to make shirts for my husband - by attaching the sleeve at the armscye before sewing the underarm seam. Then, I sew the underarm and side seam together in one go.

The fabric is somewhat embarrassingly sourced at my local Walmart. As usual, I was there looking for something else but got distracted by the fabric section and found this mystery crepe for $2/yard.  For my next shirt I'll source from a local store.  This has become my process when trying a new pattern: cheaper wearable muslin and then locally sourced finer fabric.

An off-topic but happy accomplishment is a new ceiling light for our hallway. I installed it all by myself! It's a cool Tiffany design, and is a good transition piece from our bold living room (can you see that bright orange in the photos?!) to our neutral, tan hallway.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Made! - Burda 7132

After some teasers in the last post, here's the finished product of what has been my only garment sewn in the last 2-3 months (more on that later)- a dress made from Burda 7132.

I made some small alterations to the pattern, mostly in the form of wedges in the back bodice and at the bottom on the front bodice. Evidently I am not the pattern suggests. My first version of this dress has some sight gaping at the center front neckline, but this one doesn't!

This make is totally a 'use the stash' project, as each fabric is something that I bought a remnant of at the fabric store (or had remnants of at home), and pieced them together to make it work! The back of the skirt is my own solution to not having enough of the pastel zebra print - I think it works.

The pattern does not include a lining, but I knew I had to add one since the fabric is so pale. (Photographed that for this previous post.) I underlined each piece: hand-basting them together then securing the edges with my serger before I constructed the dress.  I left the basting in until I was ready to finish the seam allowances.

Admittedly, I'm not super stoked with the funkiness going on at the back of the dress regarding the rippling. I didn't have this problem the first time and I'm not sure what's going on with it now. Maybe I need to alter the princess cut of the bodice and add another dart in the skirt?? Good thing the hair is long, I suppose. Ha!!

The real focus of this project was the insides. Though I went for a lazy serged finish, I did whipstitch every seam allowance to the underlining, meaning that this dress will never have funny lumps or bumps due to a rumpled seam allowance.  This is something that I get really annoyed by, and have always stitched down the first few inches of an allowance, especially at an arm hole or neckline, but buying and reading part of Claire Schaeffer's Couture Sewing Techniques inspired me to try something different.

Image result for shaeffer couture sewing

You may be thinking "a sleeveless January?!" but there's something you should know about me and my genetics. We are normal-temperatured until we do the slightest amount of work, and then we need to basically be wearing gym shorts and tank tops. So, even in winter time I find myself wearing sleeveless dresses with cardigans and scarves, only to slowly peel off outer layers through the day as I practice, play, and teach.  Cardigan is always back on for teaching, though. ;)

The lack of garment sewing isn't for lack of work, as hinted at by my previous post. Since Christmas is passed and the item bestowed to its rightful owners I can announce that I've been working on a quilt since late September to give to my sister and her husband as a belated newlywed present.  I was working on it until December 22, when husband and I drove to TN for family Christmas. Hand-quilted it all but the border, and have the callused and red fingertips to prove it.  Sister really appreciated it and really liked the colors. She has to send me photos because I forgot to photograph it before wrapping it. Doh! (But perhaps this gives insight into how last-minute its completion was.)

It may be a bit before she can get me pictures, so in the meantime I'll keep on with other sewing posts. I am really excited to see how she will be able to use it!