Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Another Hot Patterns 1120: Primavera Dress

It's been 6 years since I first made this dress. (Old blog post here.) I'm much happier with this one than the last because I tweaked the fit better. And it doesn't look like a quasi skeleton costume (reference to previous fabric). Time flies, because I certainly wasn't planning on a 6-year break from the first try. This pattern is currently on clearance on the HotPatterns website. I guess it seems like an old pattern now to them, but it's actually still on trend. I would recommend the pattern. It's got some nice shaping and details that could be a bit tricky/time consuming to just hack yourself.

Once again, you're getting work bathroom selfies. I did get a new, more portable, little tripod thingie but I haven't tried it out yet so the bathroom it is. Wild-eyed sideways glance.

I already had the pattern cut from last time but I did need to review my notes to deal with the fitting problems. First up was raising the scandalously low neckline. Not quite sure who would ever wear it as it was. Even with the 2 inches I added, it's still on the low side on me, but I'm not flashing anyone anymore so that's good. The bust darts (which are French darts) needed no adjustment, nor did I need to add bust room.

Here's the finished dress on Zillie. The gathers at center front make me think I'm disguising my tummy. I'm probably not, but it's a good thought.

The pattern is originally designed with a facing which gets sewn into the waist seam. Since I recently finished the Turner dress, which has a fully lined bodice, it inspired me to ditch the facing and copy the lined bodice idea. I'm not a fan of facings in general and I usually have problems with HP's facings in particular so I try to eliminate them whenever I can. It did take a little reimagining the construction steps, but it wasn't too complicated.

In this photo below you can also see how the pockets are made. It's really one big pocket which spans the front of the skirt, but it functions as two separate sideseam pockets. Even though it's one piece and you could actually touch hands inside across it, you don't really notice it's not normal separate pockets since the shape is such that your hands just go downward and don't want to meet up.

Closer pocket bag pic. I recall having a hard time figuring out these pockets from the instructions the first time but I had no problem at all this time so I guess I was just being a blockhead before.

I did interface the pocket facing piece, which gives the opening a bit of stability, which you can see below.  You might also see that I forgot to snip the seam allowance to lay flat around the pocket facing and my sleeve hem needs a bit of trimming too. And by "needs," I mean I've already worn this as-is and am too lazy to go back and trim anything. ;-)

I did face the hem as per the instructions, and I understitched the joining seam before coverstitching the hem facing in place. I really like the extra something that a wide, faced hem adds to a knit dress. It just feels fancier and more substantial and it definitely hangs nicer.

The sleeves are kind of a hybrid between set-in and raglan. HotPatterns calls it semi-raglan. The armsyce is set inward further than a true set-in sleeve and there's a shoulder dart.

I didn't reshape the shoulder dart for my very square shoulders as I usually do with darted raglans and I love the semi-structured shape that resulted. Slight Crystal Carrington vibe, but my shoulders are narrow so the illusion of a little width there is a good thing on me.

The understitched inside neckline.

Below shows I edgestitched waistline to stabilize joining seam allowances, skipping the gathered areas. I used a small ZZ for this to allow some give when sitting, etc.

Rear view. Not quite as symmetric as I thought I had it laid out before cutting. Oh well. Plus, even though I adjusted the back this time, I still had to take in the CB seam about an inch at the neckline, tapering to nothing by mid upper back, and I still needed to remove an additional 3/4" from the back bodice length, tapering to nothing at the sideseams. You can see this if you're looking for it. Tweaking the fit would have been a whole lot easier if I had basted that CB seam instead of sewing it for reals AND adding the understitched lining. The dress had to stand in time out for a week before I wanted to deal with it again. But I'm glad I did. I really like the dress. It's comfortable any time but especially good for hot Florida summer days.

Me, still in that bathroom. Woo.

Parting funny shots. While I was nearly done sewing this dress, I noticed the spool was running dangerously low. I was on the homestretch attaching the hem facing, which would leave only coverstitching (with different thread spools) to do after this seam. Could I make it? It was going to be close.

And then the bobbin ran out. Yeah. (Really should get that bobbin sensor fixed.)

See ya next time! Click on my Instagram link in the upper right to see an animated me compiled of more work bathroom selfies than anyone needs.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Turner Two

I finally was able to revisit the Cashmerette Turner dress (pattern link HERE (nayy) and previous review HERE).

This fabric, from Fabricmart, sat in my stash for exactly 4 minutes before it was on the cutting table with Turner pattern pieces on it. It's a fun, summery ITY print with just enough body. Side note: I wish Fabricmart would stop labeling all ITYs the same and divide them up a bit by weight.

I made no changes from my last pattern modifications (narrowing the shoulders/neckline) except to lower the front vee about an inch, which equals a net 1-inch raise from the original pattern neckline. At this level, it's not quite cleavage revealing, which does well for me at work. I also added about an inch to the skirt length for no particular reason except to change it up. Sewing is a fickle wench. :-)

In addition to the few minor pattern issues I mentioned in my original Turner review, there are a couple of "truing" mistakes, which are easily corrected. By mentioning them here, maybe Jenny of Cashmerette will make note of them for the next print runs/editions of the pattern.

First, the sleeve hem allowance is not shaped correctly for a perfect fold-up.

Second, the side seams finish in a point at the hem edge. I trimmed the point so it blended into the curve of the hem edge, which makes for a smoother hem turn-up on a circle-ish skirt.

No mistakes here! I'm just showing off the nice point at the vee. :-)

I remembered to add my pass card loop. I just love having these when I don't have pockets.

And I added a self-fabric sash (interfaced with scraps of Perfect Fuse), which means I really didn't need the pass card loop. Hey, it's nice to have options! With that sash in place, I'm easily imagining a hack to Turner into a faux wrap dress. Excuse the bad pun. Maybe it won't take me another 6-7 months for my next go.

Happy Friday! I'm hoping to continue this weekend with my next sewing project.

Thursday, July 6, 2017


I found both my sewjo and that big stack of missing patterns. Life is good.

Here's me today, back in the work bathroom for selfies, sporting the new 2-piece dress (aka skirt and top). And boy do I need a haircut!

But first, the missing patterns.

I have no explanation for not looking in this little chest/box which I walk past at least ten times a day, except that I must have just mentally ruled it out, thinking I already checked it. So glad I decided to double-check my assumption. It was like Christmas and my birthday all in one! And good to know that I haven't quite lost my mind. Yet.

Last post, I talked about mashing up my TNT Ottobre tee with the Love Notions Laundry Day Tee, the main reason being that I felt the overall upper bodice shape of the LDT was not the shape I knew I prefer for my tees. I did keep the LDT neckline and neckband piece, and swing shaping at the hemline, and I'm happy with those. The vee neckline shape is very nice and the band went on without a gape or pucker. I'll definitely use this neckline shape again. (Side note: Does anyone remember the Jalie 2005 tee and how that neckline stormed the online sewing world?)

I probably should've planned the seam on the band better relative to the print, but overall it's just not that noticeable from a regular distance, especially given the focus-pulling wild print. Or it's laziness. Or both. You be the judge.

Here's the top before any hems were sewn. Even after we all know the CF of the band isn't symmetrical, are you really noticing that? Yeah, I didn't think so. :-)

For the skirt, I used one of the long-lost-but-now-found patterns. I liked the flippy-ness/trumpet shape of all the lengths when I originally bought it, and still did once the pattern re-surfaced. The length I sewed is between Views D and E. I can see me using this pattern a LOT since it's only 2 pattern pieces and 3 seams and takes less than a yard of fabric for even my generous posterior.

So-so pattern matching at the sideseams. It's not an exact pattern to match so good enough is good enough, and about all that can be expected.

A quick hanger shot of the skirt. I decided to place the horizontal stripes section at the top of the skirt so they would be "hidden" under the top when worn. I thought it would be too much of a good thing to see one more row of those stripes. The eyes wouldn't know where to rest. I'm happy with that decision.

The whole outfit on Zillie.

I'll be back soon because I have another finished project to share, and I'm expecting a fun sewing blogger meet-up tomorrow. Stay tuned!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Laundry Day Tee. Or Not.

Yes, I'm actually posting twice in the same month. I'll wait while you get off the floor.

So apparently one of the best ways to kickstart a missing sewjo is to write a blog post about how little desire you have to sew. And in a similar vein, when in that same blogpost you lament about not liking any fabric choices you've seen lately … well, you know where that's going. Yep. A few yards may have jumped into my shopping cart during Fabricmart's latest Pyramid sale. And then possibly a few more a week later during the Knits sale.

That's all good news. But I am not without hiccups and speed bumps in this story.

Let's begin.

First, last year I had bought a crap-ton of patterns during one of the BMV all-brands sales. My order arrived. I ooohed. I ahhed. I made plans. I bought fabric. I dreamed. I put the patterns … well, that's just it. I have NO IDEA where I put those patterns (or a few others) and I've been looking for them on/off for MONTHS. My house is not big. I'm fairly organized. I cannot solve this mystery. I give up. I've decided I'll repurchase some of them during the next BMV all-brand sale. (And then I'll find the missing stack.)

So I moved on for the time being. While I may not have been sewing myself these past months, I still have been reading sewing blogs and websites and checking into Facebook sewing/pattern groups regularly. I've seen more than a few Love Notions Laundry Day Tees made up and modeled, with lots of raving about the pattern. Being the lemming that I am, or maybe because it was free when you join the LN Facebook group, I downloaded the PDF and printed it last week, with plans to use some of the newly acquired Fabricmart yardage.

Yesterday, I got the pattern out to tape the sheets together, which I did. I know it's free and all, but I wasn't extremely impressed, starting with the fact the PDF is supposed to be "trimless." This means you don't need to slice off unprinted page margins to accurately join the pages into one cohesive layout. I found I still needed to trim. Not a big deal. I'm used to it. I'm not ready to blame Love Notions on this yet because I haven't double-checked my printer settings (and I'm not sure I will spend time to do so), but do be warned in case it's a legit problem.

What really bugged me was the pattern itself. See below.

First, the front and back aren't separate pieces. If you're away from your printer when you realize this and can't print a quick duplicate, it means you have to trace or tape the jigsaw puzzle back together. It also means you're going to be ticked off. I absolutely do not see the point in this (the print layout, not the being ticked off). Well, OK, there is a slight point if you're printing to a commercial print house's large format printer and paying by the sheet, but even then, give us the option of more sheets with the other half of the damn pattern so we can decide for ourselves which pages to print.

Next, it should be obvious that if the front and back pieces are identical,  except for necklines, there's a good chance it won't fit a curvy body. Pretty sure my front and back aren't anywhere close to identical. I won't even talk about the sleeve being cut on the fold. Guess it's a good thing after all that I didn't do all that "extra" printing. ;-) I'm not truly knocking this pattern because (1) I haven't actually sewn it and (2) it does get lots of love and I have seen some very nice finished tees. But I did conclude it wasn't for me and the symmetrical drafting makes me hesitant to try a paid-for LN pattern.

Side note on the LDT - Does anyone understand what the heck is meant by this? It totally does not make sense.
I decided what I was really after was the overall trapeze shape of the LDT and looked for my Cashmerette Concord pattern to just do that simple hack. Apparently my paper version of the Concord is with the other missing patterns mentioned above. Grrr, that MIA list just keeps getting longer. But I knew I also had a PDF version (from testing) that was already trimmed and ready to tape, and I was able to locate that one. Except … I was missing at least 6 of the pages. Six pages that would fall right across the bodice. I have no idea how that happened. Apparently, I'm getting old and senile. Missing patterns. Missing pattern pages. Missing brain.

Instead of giving up, I reached for my so very trusty TNT, the Ottobre Woman tee from the 02/2007 issue (cover below) and added the flare and length of the LDT.

And then I cut it out of this, with enough left for a matching skirt cuz I love me some 2-piece dresses. Yes, I know it's only a skirt and a top. I just like saying 2-piece dress. It sounds fancier. Humor me. :-)

And then I was done "sewing" for the day.

I've made a deal with myself to spend at least 15 minutes a weekday on this until it's done. I think I'll stick with it because I'm excited about the print placement for this one and want to see it finished. If I had started with the Ottobre, I'd be done by now. I hope I learned that lesson.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Quick Update

It's pretty sad that I've now got to start any blog post with "Yes, I'm alive" but when 6+ months go by, I guess it's to be expected. (Yes, I'm alive.)

Sewing has taken a back burner for a while. I've had limited sewing time and when I did manage to eek out something, I ended up with wadders. Very frustrating. And the "best" way to instantly kill the sewjo. I'm still dreaming/thinking about sewing and will get back to it, but I'm also having trouble finding inspirational fabric. In other words, I'm not seeing very much lately that is ME. I keep looking, but I keep deciding that what's in the cart isn't really doing it for me and just close the check-out window. I'm pretty sure it's not my sewing ennui that is creating my "problem." I'm just not loving what's available at the moment (this "moment has been going on for months!). And while I still have a substantial stash, even it is pretty depleted of favorites (what I want to sew/wear), so that's not much of a help either. Ahh. First-world problems. If you'd like to share any online fabric stores with great prints I may have missed, please feel free to enable me in the comments. :-)

So, if not sewing, what have I been doing? Well for starters, I've been working at my job during the weekdays. I've been here 3 years now . On weekends, I've been 50% of the "rehab crew" for Alex's real estate investment adventures. He's just finished fixing-up and renting out his third property. It's been a lot of fun to work with him and I'm beaming with pride at his success but I'm definitely too old and out of shape to do this more than part-time! A couple of months just on weekends kicks my butt.

Here are the Before/During/After pics of the kitchen we just completed.

Last month, my stepson Michael got married. Here he is below with his beautiful bride Hannah. (Do you see the peacock behind them?)

The goofball groomsmen brothers. For any of you long-time readers, can you believe Alex is my "baby" and he's already 25. The years just fly!

Tyler is still in the Marine Corps (a Sergeant now) … for about 4 more months. Then he will leave the Corps, marry his fiancée Angela (below) in October, and start new adventures. 

Overall, life is good. There just hasn't been much sewing going on and my intentions to check in are on that infamous road. Hopefully, I'll be revving up the machines soon. I need things!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Cashmerette Turner Dress Reveal and Thoughts

I finished my first go with the Cashmerette Turner dress a few days ago, and I have some thoughts. (Suprised? Hah.) My overall opinion is that it's a great, easy-to-sew dress pattern for those of us with some fluff and boobage. Especially those of us with fluff and boobage who've been eyeing the Kitschy-Koo Lady Skater dress for a long while without pulling the trigger. I'm glad I waited.

This is the finished dress. The neckline looks better on Zillie, which is my fault for being lazy in the process, and which I'll get into more below.

This is how I'll probably wear it most days, since it's chilly in the office and I like a pop of color with black and white. You're getting from-the-top-of-the-mountain shots since instead of dragging my tripod outside for pics, I dragged Alex and, well, he's taller than the tripod.

Here's the finished dress on its own (well, on me), with no cardi camouflage for my lumpy bits. :-)

And the rear view. No back wrinkles. I believe there's a small sway back alteration built into the pattern. If so, good on ya Cashmerette!

Lots of swing in the skirt, which I like. A lot. With my arms going backward, I've got a slight Hunchback of Notre Dame thing going on. Nice.

So, let's get into the nitty-gritty of the pattern itself and my opinions on it. Because I do have a few. I hope they are taken as honest and constructive criticism because that's how I roll. Remember, my overall opinion is that it's a great dress. And although I've been a Cashmerette tester and have received free patterns in the past, I didn't test this dress at all and I wasn't given the pattern. Disclaimers out of the way, OK, here we go.

I don't have extremely narrow shoulders but they are on the narrow side. (And very square.) Cashmerette's draft is for a much wider shoulder than mine. And less sloped than most patterns (less sloped for me is good).

I'm not a big fan of the instructions for choosing size. I get (and appreciate) that you should choose by your full bust since these patterns are drafted for larger busts, but I think the instruction doesn't go far enough. There are other things going on in the bodice area beside boobs. So, if you already know you have narrow shoulders, size down for the upper bodice. If you're unsure, make a muslin. I believe Cashmerette are at least consistent, so if you need narrower in one, you're going to need narrower in all.

Above is my first go at the bodice. Using the instructions, I chose the size which was closest to my bust and waist measurements. This put me in the 18. I went up a cup size from my actual measurement since I knew the boob area is drafted with negative ease and I didn't want a sausage casing. :-) The resulting shoulders are definitely much too wide on me. If you look carefully, you can see my nude-colored bra strap on your left. The other strap isn't showing only because my arm is lifted to take the pic and the fabric moved. And while I don't mind some cleavage now and then, I don't like it at work and this was to be a office-bound dress. It's a pretty and flattering neckline, just not work appropriate for me.

Here's the first bodice on Zillie (with a past skirt still on her below). Size 18 E/F.

Here's the second bodice with the neckline raised (sigh, too much) and narrowed. Size 16 E/F blended to an 18 at waist and below. My "sweet spot" for the neckline depth on the next make will be somewhere in the middle. The width, however, is now perfect.

My neckline alterations. I added about an inch to the width to narrow the neckline opening. Even going all the way to the 12's stock width would still be too wide on me. I want those straps covered dammit. :-) I raised the vee about two inches. Which is about an inch too much in the final dress. I was counting on the weight of the skirt pulling the bodice down somewhat but it really didn't. I could've futzed with the neckline before finishing the waist seam, but laziness won. Who wants to pick out understitching after all? I'll live with this neckline and probably add a bright and pretty scarf to visually lower the focus.

Two things I want to point out here (besides the dog hair). One you can see in the photo above, and one you can't. First, as you can see above, the shoulder join results in a much sharper angle than the curve I created with my added tissue. If you leave it as-is without smoothing, be sure to trim your seam allowances well in this area so the fabric turns and lays nicely. Otherwise, you're going to get puckers. My 2 cents is to just make it a smoother curve before you cut your fabric. I'm not really a fan of these angular front/back neckline joins.

Second, let's talk about the waist seam. I've seen many comments out on the interwebs about how high the waist seam is on this dress. So I thought I'd outsmart myself and just add 1/2" to it when I was cutting the bodice pieces. I sewed Bodice 2 to the skirt and tried it on. You know where this is going, right? Yeah. I unpicked the skirt (and my little pass card loop which you can't see in any of the pics but which is there and I love it), cut off that 1/2" and reattached the skirt. And it's now at a much more flattering spot for me and lets the skirt skim the lumps. It's amazing how much difference 1/2" can make. So much for outsmarting myself. Unless you're very long-waisted and/or tall, you're probably going to want the seam as drafted. But at the very least, if you do add to it, BASTE the skirt on and check. The seam will hit a different spot with the weight of the skirt.

Oh, a third. I bought the downloadable PDF version. I just want to note that it's not a paper pig and the pieces went together quickly and accurately. I'm on Team PDF. I love me some instant gratification, especially when I can print at work. And even trim the pages during down time. Shhhh. I didn't say that. :-)

Here's the completed dress inside-out. As you can see, the bodice is fully lined. Which I like and which makes finishing the neckline easy-peasy. However, there are a few things in the instructions for this which I don't like. First, you are instructed to trim 1/8" from the lining neckline before you sew the shoulder seams (to allow for turn of cloth and keeping the seam to the inside). Nope. The pieces aren't going to line up as well if you trim before sewing. Sew the shoulder seams and THEN trim the 1/8" from the lining neckline edge. It just works better. Next quiggle: you're instructed to sew the lining and outer necklines together and then clip the vee. OK. But ... you really should add a small piece of fusible interfacing to the vee area before you clip. At least I would. And did. I want a bit of added stability to my clippage.

And, finally, you are instructed to understitch at 1/4". Nope, it should be 1/8", or less, as shown above. (Jenny of Cashmerette confirmed on the sew-along pages that this is, indeed, a typo.)

The hem is 1.5". Love a deep hem on knits. I didn't add or remove anything from the length of the skirt and turned a generous 1.5" hem. The finished dress hits just below my kneecap. I'm 5'5".

The instructions have you sew the waist seam and add clear elastic while you're doing so. Eh. Clear elastic is a pain on its best day. Feel free to sew swear-free and use regular elastic (The instructions tell you this, but the supply list doesn't. Just remember to add a seam allowance to your elastic since the instructions don't.). Or, do like me and omit elastic altogether. I sewed the seam with a very, very slight zigzag and then used a 4-thread overcast with my serger very close to the seam stitching. (See above.) That waist ain't going nowheres.

More insides. The sleeve hems are 1". Which is a good amount IMO.

Other pattern criticisms:
1. There are no body landmark markings. Such as bust point, waist, etc. Major boo.
2. There is no finished length given. Regular boo.
3. There are no neckline variations. Easy enough to DIY, and Jenny has created a blog page with instructions, but still, it would've been so much nicer to have variations drawn on the pattern, especially at this price point.
4. And pockets. There really should be a pocket option. Again, I can DIY, but I shouldn't have to.

As I said, overall I think the dress is a winner and I'll definitely make it again. It's flattering. Love, love the in-built FBA. Love the fast sew. Love the twirl! I'll probably use the skirt pieces to make an actual skirt, since they're perfect and now ready to go.

Yes, I know I promised a post on pattern ease. Still coming, but blog laziness is a tough mother.

Happy New Year!