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?

Thursday, April 21, 2016

New Summer Butterick: Sabrina/Marilyn Mashup, Dirndl Chic, and Tiki Separates


I have three new patterns out in my Butterick line for summer! An evening gown, a collection of Hawaiian resort separates, and a dirndl-inspired dress.

First, the evening gown! This is B6353.


As you may have guessed, this is almost entirely Sabrina inspired. The fabric, an embroidered organza, is part of my new special occasion fabric collection from Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores.

But look at the bust pleats and the pink illustration, and do you see the shades of Marilyn?


The gown has boning throughout, felt underlining for the bodice (that's how those pleats stay perky), a satin lining, a removable train, and a contrast belt.


As usual, I modeled the patterns! They were shot both on me and a model, so here they are. Believe me, I'm not crazy about showing my pictures side by side with a "real" model (that would require unshakeable body confidence from any woman). But I always like seeing designs on different body types when looking at a garment, don't you?




Here's the line drawing and pattern envelope. 


Next up, B6352 is a dirndl-inspired dress for every day wear. Dirndls: they're not just for October fest anymore!
I became dirndl-obsessed after my recent trips to Germany and Austria, and loved the idea of making a dirndl-ish dress that could be worn everyday. This design is my answer to that idea.

The dress has puff sleeves that resemble a dirndl blouse, a low-cut square neckline, princess seams, a front zipper, a gathered circle skirt with a hemline ruffle, and a waist sash that calls to mind the traditional dirndl apron.

I used mini pompom trim in the sleeve cuffs, neckline, and back princess seams for a fun take on the traditional use of piping in dirndls!


The skirt length is almost tea-length for a retro look. 


The fabric is a lovely rayon challis with allover roses and strawberries, also from my new collection. 


The pattern envelope shows how you can use contrast fabric for the princess panels (and wear sassy sunglasses). Cute!
Lastly, here's B6354, a collection of four tiki-inspired resort separates that can be worn layered or on their own. 

The idea here is that you can wear the bustier and shorts out on the beach . . . 


. . .  and then add a wrap skirt  and perhaps a bolero on top for a little coverage on the town!


You can see the details, as always, in the included line drawing. 

These pieces were sewn in a tropical print sateen

I hope you love the new patterns! You can get them on the Butterick website, or your local sewing supply store.
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