Friday, July 15, 2016

Blue Sketch Roses Dress

New finished dress! I'm so happy to finally showcase this sateen from my spring collection. This is the Sketch Rose in blue, a 100% cotton sateen, available at Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores.

This is one of the dresses my mom helped me cut out a few months ago, and I finally got around to sewing it up. I used patterns from my latest book, Gertie's Ultimate Dress Book. The bodice is the Basic Jewel Neck Bodice (with a small shoulder modification that I'll show below), paired with the three-quarter circle skirt.
I'm surprisingly crazy about this dress, given how simple it is. I want to make it in lots more colors and prints!

I've been trying to up my accessories game, and I paired it with big hoop earrings, white mules, and this amazingly cute belt I found for a steal on Amazon of all places. (Though I like the dress both with and without the belt.)

As you can see on the mannequin, the shoulders have a slight racer back look to them. They're cut inward for a narrower shoulder.

Here's a little tutorial on how to make this pattern change.

I did this by making marks at 1-3/4" in from the shoulder (where the sleeve would connect), and then 5/8" under the armhole.

Then I connected those marks with a curved ruler.

Cut away the excess.

Repeat on the back!

I finished the armholes and neck hole with an all-in-one facing.

You can either adjust the included facing pieces or make entirely new ones to follow the new armholes.

I also like to take off a scant 1/8" around the neckline and armholes, which helps the facing roll inside the garment better. See the new orange lines around the neck and armholes in the photo below!

Trace that section off (between the orange lines) and those are your new facing pieces.

Let me know if you have any questions about that pattern adjustment!

I always get asked about my foundation garments, so I took I few pictures this time! (Don't worry, nothing too racy). I wore my favorite longline bra, but it needed a little tweak in the back to accomodate the cut-away shoulders. These adjustable straps are perfect for this purpose.

The longline bra requires high waisted panties for a smooth line, and then a crinoline (this one is by Hell Bunny) gives the skirt lots of fluff. 
I don't always go full '50s in the foundation garment department, but it definitely looks good for pictures and it's nice to have the option.

The skirt has a three-step narrow hem (instructions in the book)!

And a back lapped zipper. I didn't even think about pattern matching, though I really should have. Luckily there are no egregiously badly placed flowers!
 I love this dress so much, I'm going to cut it out in another fabric this weekend!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Lemon Sateen GIVEAWAY on Instagram!

I figured it was about time to do another giveaway for one of my new fabrics! I've been getting such positive feedback on this lemon print sateen, and it's one of my personal favorites, so I'm giving away four yards of it. The giveaway is sponsored by the generous folks at Fabric Traditions and the fabric is available at Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores.

I've been really into Instagram lately, so I'm hosting the the giveaway over there. So let's connect, shall we? Just follow my account and comment on this post to enter the competition. Open to all; please put in your entry by the end of this coming Monday, May 30th.

The sateen is 100% cotton and is great for summer dresses, like this one I made from Gertie's Ultimate Dress Book

Good luck everybody!

Monday, May 2, 2016

Horrockses-Inspired Rose Stripe Dress

Another finished dress in a new fabric from my new book! I've been making it my mission lately to sew as many of these new fabrics as possible and to use as many different combinations of patterns from Gertie's Ultimate Dress Book as I can think of. This fabric is the Rose Garden Stripe! It's a floral stripe on an ivory background and it's 100 percent cotton Dotted Swiss.

This fabric was directly inspired by vintage Horrockses dresses. Horrockses was a British brand that made the most lovely day dresses of the '40s and '50s. They were especially known for their house-designed prints and one of their trademarks was the floral stripe.

For my dress, I knew I wanted to do a chevron design on the front bodice. I used the basic v-neck bodice from Gertie's Ultimate Dress Book but added a center front seam, rather than cutting on the fold. I'll admit that I enlisted my mom to cut it for me (she kept offering to cut things! You would have done the same!). She did a bang-up job.

The pattern has both waist and bust darts, so here's what it looks like when sewn up:

I decided to keep the back on the straight grain, and have the strips running horizontally.

I used the basic short sleeve pattern.

The bodice and skirt are lined. The bodice is lined to the edges (there are instructions for how to do this in the book) and the sleeves are left unlined. The armholes are serged together for a clean finish. The lining fabric is a bright white cotton, which keeps the outer fabric looking bright as well.

For the skirt, I free-styled it a bit and did a sort of faux cartridge-pleating with rows of machine gathering. I love this look on dirndls; however it's usually hand-gathered and requires a lot more fabric than I wanted to use. So I decided to try the machine gathering, and I really like it!

To make the skirt, I cut a rectangle that is 3 times the width of the waistline measurement. I cut the same thing for the lining. I made the two pieces into tubes, leaving open about 7" at center back for the zipper opening. Then I basted the two pieces together and made about six rows of gathering stitches, 1/4" apart. Then pull all the bobbin threads together, gathering up the waistline to fit the bodice. This is slow-going, as you want the gathers to be even, and you have to be very careful not to break the threads as you pull. Once it's the correct size, I tied off all the bobbin threads in pairs.

If you want a similar effect but don't want to do the rows of gathering, you could use the All-Around Pleated Skirt pattern from my book and either make the pleats or just gather the waistline.

The back has a center lapped zipper. 

I took pictures outside near an old factory building, where there are also some cool murals. This one has sort of a pink Emerald City vibe to it. 

Idyllic mountainside!

Post Apocolypse! 

Accessories: pink Remix Rita shoes, polka dot hair scarf, and little pink earrings. And red nails, naturally.

Okay, back to the sewing machine! 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Lemony Sheath Dress

Can't you just hear Pee-Wee Herman now? "Mmmm, Leee-mony!" I kept hearing his voice in my head as I was sewing this dress! I am crazy for both Pee-Wee and lemon prints, so I was super excited that this one was chosen to be in my spring fabric collection. It's a 100% cotton sateen, opaque with a soft drape.

Black Sateen Lemon Print
I decided this print needed a simple, classic dress silhouette, so I decided on a summer sheath dress. The pattern is from Gertie's Ultimate Dress Book. I matched the strapless bodice with the pencil skirt, and made two simple straps to go with it.

The dress made its debut for Viva Las Vegas! I've never been before, and it was so cool to see everyone done up Rockabilly style. I tried to make my hair and makeup as '50s fabulous as possible, though the windy days made me wish I had invested in better hairspray.

Of course, flats are essential when doing a lot of walking!

Construction-wise, the only complicated thing about this dress is the bodice. It's both lined and underlined in black Kona cotton, and then boning channels are sewn to the lining layer. Steel boning is inserted throughout. I find boning to be essential for a dress like this, because it keeps a closely fitted bodice smooth throughout. Ten rows is my minimum for this bodice design, and that's what I used here. The most important placement points, in my opinion, are over the princess seams, side seams, diagonally on each side of the bust, and on either side of the zipper. 

Here's the inside of the dress. I didn't line the skirt, because I loved how the fabric drapes on its own and I didn't plan to wear hosiery with the dress. 

 I lightened this one a bit so you can see the boning channels.
I love how the boning keeps the back of the bodice smooth. I used a lapped zipper, my preferred method. 

This print is also available with a blue background on a cotton lawn. It has a lighter, almost gauzy feel to it, and I'm definitely going to make a full-skirted dress with it. 

This dress uses the same bodice and skirt pattern as two other dresses in the book! Can you see the basic similarity?
Faux Sarong Dress, Gertie's Ultimate Dress Book
Fringed Cocktail Dress, Gertie's Ultimate Dress Book
The latter two use the sweetheart option on the bodice, rather than the straight neckline. But see how much you can do with some different straps and trims, using the same bodice and skirt?
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