Alix Dress Pattern Tester (By Hand London Alix Dress)

Alix Dress Pattern Tester (By Hand London Alix Dress)

Prancin' around
Prancin’ around

Sewing time has been very limited for me as of late, but I always make time to test for my favorite pattern companies. When By Hand London, sent over their Alix Dress, I was super stoked to cut into it! Alix comes in three lengths (tunic top, minidress, and maxi), I opted for the maxi length. Generally, I do believe shorter is better, but a can wear a maxi length dress to work without have to put on tights! For me, that’s just fucking fantastic.

Really showing off my Dumbledore nose here.
Really showing off my Dumbledore nose here.

Alix is definitely a style departure for me. She has a definite 70’s feel, with billowy sleeves and a flowing skirt. The sleeves and flowing skirt are so comfortable, though. The bodice is lowcut, but not too lowcut, just enough. There are no zippers or buttons here, the wast ties give it shape. It still feels so elegant though! We’re talking next level secret pajamas here.

One strand of uncurled hair, as per the usual
One strand of uncurled hair, as per the usual

I followed the pattern almost exactly, cutting a US size 10 (UK 14), and adding my standard 2″ to the sleeves. Oh and pockets, of course I added inseam pockets. I used black poly peachskin from Joann’s, which is not exactly the ideal fabric for this. Head to toe poly? Yikes! But it was the only black swishy fabric I could find in the appropriate width (maxi length requires a wider fabric), so I made due. It’s actually not bad for fall, though in the spring and summer, I’d prefer a rayon, perhaps.

Always fiddling with m skirt
Always fiddling with m skirt

I almost wish there was a bit more room in the bust, I will probably add that for my tunic version. Other than that, I have no problems with Alix! The directions were easy to follow and as detailed as always. It’s super comfortable to wear, yet still elegant. I wore mine out last night for a witch-themed charity event, and got so many compliments. Are you planning to sew up an Alix dress? Happy sewing 🙂

Seam Ripping Woes (Colette Rue Tester)

Seam Ripping Woes (Colette Rue Tester)

Bitch face forever.
Bitch face forever.

I was pretty stoked to be part of the testing group for the new Colette pattern, so when they sent over Rue, I immediately started thinking of fabric ideas. I really wanted to use something that showed off the curved lines on the bodice. Originally, I planned to do version 2 (with the longer sleeves) in this mammoth flannel from Robert Kaufman, but the thought of that plaid matching made my heart hurt. After browsing my fabric stash on Cora, I settled on this Cotton and Steel print.

Weird claw hand courtesy of my camera remote.
Weird claw hand courtesy of my camera remote.

At first glance, I found the instructions for Rue to be a bit daunting, there are 46 (PDF) pages! Not to worry, though, the instructions contain detailed layouts and directions for both versions. WHEW! Rue is fully lined, so do expect to invest a little extra time for construction. Most of the bodice shaping comes from the curved front seam and some small tucks on each side. The front seam curve comes up a bit too high or too low on me, I can’t decide which. I think for the pattern it should be higher, but for my taste, lower? Either way, it needs fixing.

I promise I don't sleep standing up.
I promise I don’t sleep standing up.

I opted to cut the side front pieces on the bias, because I thought it would look cool. The pattern does NOT call for this, so if you do it, keep in mind that bias cut stuff will stretch. This was especially a problem for me, because I had trouble matching up the bodice pieces on my muslin as well, even though that was straight cut. I don’t know why, but they just wouldn’t line up for me! I imagine it’s user error, as it’s ALWAYS user error. This is version 2, the one with the longer sleeves and skirt gathers. I decided to shorten the sleeves last minute and didn’t want to print the pattern all over again. So be warned, these are not the version 1 sleeves. Other than that, I made no alterations. That is, unless you’re thinking of that fucking GIANT weird pleat pucker thing near the neckline. That beauty is courtesy of seam ripper accident. Don’t rush your sewing, folks, just don’t.

I'm still pissed at my seam ripper.
I’m still pissed at my seam ripper.

All and all, Rue came together a lot more quickly than I’d expected, seam ripper destruction and all. This is exactly the kind of thing I’ve been meaning to make for office wear, cute yet still professional. Maybe I can work up the courage to suffer through plaid matching for a longer sleeved version? I’ll have to consult some vodka about it, but it just might happen! Happy sewing 🙂

A Knit Success (Jennifer Lauren Handmade Gable Top)

A Knit Success (Jennifer Lauren Handmade Gable Top)

Hiding my gut with my man hands.
Hiding my gut with my man hands.

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted, I know. I’ve been working on a swimsuit, but I’m having some fit issues. I’ve also run out of summer, so you’ll not being seeing that suit until next year. In the meantime, I’ve had an actual success with a knit fabric, which is unheard of. The pattern is the Gable Top from Jennifer Lauren Handmade, which she so graciously provided to me for reviewing. So yes, the pattern was free, but my opinions are still my own.

Not preggo, just standing weird in high waisted jeans. Also, I like snacks.
Not preggo, just standing weird in high waisted jeans. Also, I like snacks.

There are two things I love in a PDF pattern: a nested pattern (patterns that allow you to print only certain sizes) and a very organized PDF file. Jennifer’s is the later. The Gable Top comes with three sleeve options, and in the instructions, she tells you which pages to print for each. No need to print the whole pattern just for the short sleeves. My cutting area is pretty small, so it also helps that I can assemble sections at a time (bodice front, back, sleeves), instead of the entire garment.

Still hate back photos.
Still hate back photos.

The instructions are really straight forward, this would be a great beginner pattern! There’s plenty of information about choosing the right knit fabric, and explanations of the sewing terms. As you know, I fucking hate knits, and I never ever seem to use the right one. Based on her descriptions, I was able to dig DEEP in the stash and pull out this fabric, which turned out to be perfect! I actually used this fabric for this tank, which was old even then. Yay for stash busting!

Canine photo bomber, judging me.
Canine photo bomber, judging me.

Assembly went by crazy quickly. I mean wow. I cut a size 12, based on my measurements (37/29/40), and liked the fit. This top has negative ease, so it’s really fitted. If that’s not for you, size up. Originally I’d planned to do the cuffed sleeves, but didn’t have enough fabric, so short sleeves it was. Now, before I’d even started sewing, I knew I was going to insert the sleeves flat, meaning I would sew the sleeves together at the same time as the bodice. If that makes sense. I was very pleasantly surprised to see that’s exactly what the instructions called for! Bravo, Jennifer.

Realized I can turn my camera to the side, using my tripod, was a revelation.
Realized I can turn my camera to the side, using my tripod, was a revelation.

I did most of the construction with my serger, with the exception of hems and finishing the neckline. You don’t have to do that, it’s just my preference. For the sleeves, I just serged the edges and stitched them down with a straight stitch. For the waist, I wanted a little stretch, but I hate a zig zag stitch. I ended up doing a very shallow (I don’t know the correct term here) zig zag stitch, with a stitch height of about 1.5. On the neckline, you just fold it down and stitch. There’s a bit of play there, so try it on and see what you like. As per the pattern, I added a bit of ribbon on the shoulder seems to give it a bit of stability, that’s topstitched down. That’s all there was to it! Easy peasy. I actually wore this out, and no one believed it was handmade, so that’s a win. I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but…I actually plan to make this KNIT top again. Shocking, I know.

The Maxi Dress Sew-Along-My Dress (Simplicity 7484)

The Maxi Dress Sew-Along-My Dress (Simplicity 7484)

I'm still trying to figure out photos, hush.
I’m still trying to figure out photos, hush.

How are your maxis coming? I wrapped mine up yesterday, and I have to say, I fucking love this dress. I’d say it’s up there in my top 5 favorite makes. I was really unsure about a vintage pattern, as I’ve never sewn one, but I’m really very happy with the results. It feels a bit Mistress of the Dark glam, you know? Right up my alley!

And who doesn't love a backless dress?
And who doesn’t love a backless dress?

The fabric is a black linen (possibly a linen blend, I can’t remember which one I grabbed) from Joann’s, and the pattern is Simplicity 7484, circa 1976. When I was sewing it up, I was worried that the linen would be too heavy, a maxi length wrap skirt does use a lot of fabric, but I think it came out well. It’s not fluttery, but I love the structure it gives. The pattern includes pockets, which is always a win in my book. The pattern also includes a ruffle at the hem, which I omitted. I’m just not a ruffle girl. To compensate, I did add 6 inches to the bottom of the skirt.

This is why I don't smile in pictures, folks.
This is why I don’t smile in pictures, folks.

It was a bit strange, sewing up a backless dress. It twisted my brain up a bit, but I just went slow and worked through it, I think it came out fine. The pattern calls for elastic along the side back of the bodice, which I totally thought was the front. Derp. Makes more sense along the back, right? There’s only one princess seam on the bodice, and I do think I could stand to take that in just a bit. Wrapping tight does help, but nevertheless, it needs fixing.

Blurry yet sassy pose. The humidity struggle is real, kids. The foggy lens are a problem.
Blurry yet sassy pose. The humidity struggle is real, kids. Foggy lens are a problem.

Speaking of wrapping, I had some problems there. This is the fourth wrap dress I’ve made, the others being here, here, and here. So far, all of them have featured a small slit in on side seam, to slide the tie band through. With this pattern, that slit is located on the waistband. I don’t know if I did something wrong here or if it was the pattern, but this slit was WAY too narrow. It took some widening on my part to get the tie band through. It’s a minor thing, but frustrating and worth mentioning anyway. Overall, though, it’s a great pattern. You should make this dress. As far as vintage patterns go, it’s pretty affordable and easy to find. No excuses!

Can you tell this is my favorite angle?
Can you tell this is my favorite angle?

Have you finished your #maxisewalong2016 dress yet? The deadline is fast approaching! I can’t wait to see all your makes. To enter, make sure you either: join the Maxi Sew-Along Group, send me or Amy an email, or tag your photos on social media using the #maxisewalong2016 hashtag. Happy sewing! 🙂

Shorts & Body Issues (Grainline Studio Maritime Shorts)

Shorts & Body Issues (Grainline Studio Maritime Shorts)

"Why the fuck did I made shorts!?"
“Why the fuck did I made shorts!?”

Fun fact about me, I almost never wear shorts. By almost never I mean only around the house when the air is out. Why do I avoid shorts, knowing that it’s hotter than Satan’s armpit in Ohio right now? Because I hate my thighs. I hate things clinging to them, I hate their shape, size, everything. Hate ’em. I know this is a terrible attitude to have, but body issues are a real thing and we all have them. I am not immune, by any means. Knowing all this…WHY THE FUCK DID I MAKE SHORTS!?!?!

Cute puppy to distract from my misery.
Cute puppy to distract from my misery.

The truth is, I was hoping they didn’t look as bad as I thought. In reality, they probably don’t. It’s probably not nearly as bad as I think it is. But in my head…blargh. So I’m gonna show you the back view of these shorts anyway…which is a damn miracle. I did snap a picture of the waistband, while I was wearing the shorts. I wanted to show some of the problems I had, but I’m not quite to the point yet where I’m ready for the internet to see my stomach.

Also my hair is being super awful.  Humidity is not my friend!
Also my hair is being super awful. Humidity is not my friend!

So let’s talk about the sewing. These are the Maritime Shorts from Grainline Studio. I’m calling these a wearable muslin. I have copious amounts of black stretch sateen laying around, so I opted to use that, instead of muslin. The logic behind that being that the tiny bit of stretch in the fabric would cover a few test fit errors. And it did, kinda.

Blargh.
Blargh.

I do think these are a bit snug, I’d probably go up a size next time, but grade in a bit at the waist. The waist fits, but the fabric “grows” with wear. For the waistband and pocket linings, I used a fun tulip print left over from this dress, which I forgot to snap pictures of. Sorry! The stretch in the fashion fabric and lack of stretch in the lining did give my a bit of grief when it came to finishing the waistband. Probably also because I’m a dummy and interfaced the lining fabric instead of sateen, derp. I’m sure if I’d done that right, I wouldn’t be having this problem! The pattern actually comes together pretty easily, but I would suggest following the instructions carefully. I was scratching my head a bit while construction the fly/fly shield. Just have faith, it all comes together smoothly in the end. I do think, if I made them again, I’d add about two inches to the length. Just personal preference, but I like my shorts just a hair longer, and with a deeper hem. Again, that’s just my preference, not a fault in the pattern. If I ever convince myself to wear shorts again, I’d give this pattern another try. But lets not hold our breath for that!!! What about you guys, how do you feel about shorts??

The Maxi Dress Sew-Along-My Pattern

The Maxi Dress Sew-Along-My Pattern

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How’s the sewa-along going for you guys? I’ve already seen a few completed makes, so cute! We’ve got a little over a week left before the end date, August 17th. Seemed like it’s about time for me to announce my pattern choice, right? I must admit, I’ve had a hard time selecting a pattern this year. I told you guys in last week’s post that I’d originally planned to do the Sewaholic Lonsdale, and I still intend to make the maxi version, but I decided to go the vintage route for this…

Picture is from clarysage
Picture is from clarysage

Big surprise, another wrap dress! My love of cleavage is no secret, and there’s no better way to get that than with a wrap dress. I really did try to avoid it, though! But then Gertie posted an insanely awesome backless vintage pattern dress. Vogue 7375, don’t look for it, you can’t find it. After going deep into the wormhole searching for that pattern, I started stumbling upon vintage backless maxi dress patterns.

How cute are these vintage instructions?
How cute are these vintage instructions?

This will be the first vintage pattern I’ve actually made, so cross your fingers for me! My pattern arrived precut, so no debating the tracing/cutting of the pattern. So far, I’m really enjoying the vintage details. The pattern calls for elastic, which I was unsure of originally. But then I realized the elastic goes on the bust edges, to help hold you in. I love that, and there’s no way in hell I would have thought of that myself.

Pardon the terrible photography.
Pardon the terrible photography.

I also love that the seam/cut lines are so clearly marked. Not that I have problems figuring out seam allowances, but it’s still a cute touch. I’ll be sewing this up in a lovely, breezy black linen, without the ruffle. I know black isn’t usually considered a summer color, but I am what I am. Has anyone else decided to go vintage? All the makes I’ve seen so far have been absolutely lovely, can’t wait to see yours! Happy sewing 🙂

The Maxi Dress Sew-Along-Pattern Ideas

The Maxi Dress Sew-Along-Pattern Ideas

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The #maxisewalong2016 is in full swing!! How’s everyone doing? Stumped on which pattern to choose? Never fear! Amy and I have scoured the internet for some pattern possibilities, in both knits and wovens. We’ll start with wovens here, because they’re my personal favorite…

Sewaholic Patterns
Sewaholic Patterns

I’ve made both of these patterns before, though not the maxi dress versions. In honesty, the Lonsdale was my original pattern choice for this sewalong, until I decide to go vintage. Both patterns are a breeze to sew!

By Hand London
By Hand London

Off the shoulder peasant dresses seem to be in fashion this year, and my favorite pattern maker, By Hand London has a great DIY pattern tutorial. Their Anna dress is always a favorite, and I am in love with this sheer version. Hubba hubba.

McCall's Patterns
McCall’s Patterns

McCall’s also came out with some great beginner maxi dress patterns in their summer collection. M7405 and M7404, I’m talkin’ about you. I am such a sucker for a sheer overlay! Let’s not forget about Amy’s favorite, knits…

5 Out Of 4 Patterns
5 Out Of 4 Patterns

This one is from our sponsor, 5 Out Of 4 Patterns. For pregnant mommas and nursing mommas, this pattern comes with nursing and maternity options included! Sounds like a win/win situation to me, ladies. And don’t forget, this year, one random participant will win a free pattern from 5 Out Of 4 Patterns!

Patterns for Pirates
Patterns for Pirates

Patterns for Pirates is a favorite pattern maker of Amy’s and they have several knit maxi options! Above is the sunshine dress, but they also have the boundless dress. Definitely worth checking out!

Closet Case Files
Closet Case Files

Closet Case Files also has a very breezy looking jumpsuit/maxi dress pattern, I can’t hate a pattern with pockets already drafted!

maxidress2016

What are Amy and I sewing? We’re keeping that under wraps at the moment, but you’ll see soon enough, promise 😉 I hope we gave you some inspiration, I can’t wait to see what all of you make!! Don’t forget to post in the Maxi Sew-Along Group, and to use #Maxisewalong2016 on social media! We don’t want miss anyone! Happy sewing 🙂

The 31st Birthday Dress (Lekala 4519)

The 31st Birthday Dress (Lekala 4519)

How did I not notice this giant string???
How did I not notice this giant string???

So there’s serger thread hanging off the back of this skirt. You see it, I see it, lets move on. I also look real pissed off here, and that’s because I was! The air went out at my place, and it is roasting. I also broke my tripod setting up. Please excuse my bitch face! It was a rough one.

Also it rained, so I couldn't set up outside.
Also it rained, so I couldn’t set up outside.

Now, the dress. I’ve always wanted a proper shelf bust dress, with the band below the bust, not across. I stumbled upon this pattern on Instagram (I’m sorry, I don’t remember the user), and it seemed to be exactly what I was looking for! I’ve never sewn a Lekala pattern before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Turns out, it’s a Russian company, and seeemingly very different than what I’m used to. For starters, you have the option to enter your exact measurements, and their program will create the pattern in your size, with or without seam allowance. I’m not sure how this works, it definitely doesn’t have the designer feel, like other pattern companies. But hey, the pattern was $3, so I figured it was worth a try.

Boring back view.
Boring back view.

Either I did something wrong here, or the pattern just wasn’t that great. For a pattern created based on my measurements, it really needed some alterations. I took every single bodice seam in half an inch, my first attempt at this bodice was HUGE! There are only two darts on the bodice, just on the bodice back, and those were clearly marked. I ordered the pattern with seam allowances, which I followed carefully. I don’t understand how I could have messed this part up, unless I just suddenly don’t know how to measure myself? For what it’s worth, I am corseted in these pictures, but I tried the bodice muslin on sans corset, and it was still giant! Also, the pattern illustration shows the skirt hitting just below the knee, which is the length I was expecting. As you can see, mine is much shorter than that! Now, I’ve been the same height since tenth grade, so there’s no way I got that bit wrong! I am wearing a petticoat here, so perhaps we can attribute some of the length problems to that? Sure…

Not even close to below the knee!
Not even close to below the knee!

Now for the good. The alterations to the bodice were really simple, and I LOVE the way this bodice fits. It’s exactly what I’ve always wanted! The shape it creates, with corset and petticoat combo, is just perfect. Construction was actually pretty simple, I did it in about 5 hours. Rushing created imperfections, but I can live with that! The instructions are sparse to say the least, but that really wasn’t a problem for me. I believe the instructions don’t call for a bodice lining (or even tell you how much fabric you need), but I added one anyway. Usually, I would have also added boning to the bodice, I just think a shelf bust dress should always have it. But here, with the steel boned long line corset on, I felt like I could get away without it. The most difficult part of construction was pleating the bust cups, and that’s really just tedious.

Lemon boob shelf.
Lemon boob shelf.

I think I will make this one again and again, with a longer skirt. For this version, I used the black stretch sateen and the Gertie lemon fabric, both of which I’ve used in the past. I’d really like to see it in a bold floral, maybe Christmasy red plaid, with black bust cups. This version got rave reviews at my birthday dinner and drinks, which is really the best I could ask for. I couldn’t be happier with it, despite what my face says.

An Unpopular Pattern (By Hand London Sabrina)

An Unpopular Pattern (By Hand London Sabrina)

Pretend you don't see a remote
Pretend you don’t see a remote

I rarely ever research a pattern before I buy it. I know a lot of sewists do, and perhaps I should, but I don’t. So when I saw the Sabrina dress from BHL, I snapped it up without a second thought. I’d been searching for the perfect pattern to use with Gertie fabric, and this gave me beautiful 90’s nostalgia. So imagine my surprise when I finally searched and found almost no reviews…

No, the back isn't uneven, I'm just standing weird again.
No, the back isn’t uneven, I’m just standing weird again.

What’s with the hate, sewists? The pattern is fairly straightforward, alterations are easy. In this rayon, it’s light and breezy, perfect for summer. Putting it on, I immediately wanted Dr. Pepper lip smacker lip balm, glittery eyeshadow, and platform shoes. I wanted to sit in an inflatable chair and watch Friends. How could any of that be so bad? Is it the buttons? I’ll admit, when I saw the pattern call for 30 buttons, it seemed a bit daunting. In reality, though, I could only fit 14 on the dress, and my buttons were pretty small. What gives, folks?

Forever awkward.
Forever awkward.

To be fair, I did make some slight alterations. Once the dress body was assembled, the dress gaped too much under the arms. To remedy, I just made a dart at the top of the side seam, if that makes sense. I added pockets, albeit too low pockets. It’s a fairly common mistake for me, but sometimes I place my pockets at the most comfortable place. I have fairly long arms, so this is rarely flattering, they should really be several inches higher. I also omitted the facings, because I hate facings and I try to take them out whenever possible. I’m not a big fan of creating thin straps, either, so those had to go as well. I lieu of the facings and straps, I have thin bias tape. I bound the neckline seams with bias, and extended it up to create straps. Quick, easy, and it didn’t cause me to lose my temper. Win win.

A bit closer up.
A bit closer up.

The placket was the only thing that really threw me for me a loop here. I’ve never sewn a placket without using interfacing, and this dress calls for none. I wasn’t really sure how well my machine would handle buttonholes on uninterfaced flimsy fabric, but it went flawlessly. I think I will probably nip the waist in a bit more, but overall, it’s a great, comfortable dress. It’s been oppressively hot and humid in Ohio lately, but I stayed as cool as possible all day in this. Really, you guys, what gives??

The Maxi Dress Sew-Along Is Back! #Maxisewalong2016

The Maxi Dress Sew-Along Is Back! #Maxisewalong2016

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I know it might be a little late in the summer, but anytime is a great time for a maxi dress! Who doesn’t love a good, comfortable maxi dress? Last year we had a lot of fun sewing up our dresses and chatting in the a Maxi Sew-Along Group. Make sure to join the group if you plan on participating in the sew along. Once again I’ve teamed up with Amy from That’s Sew Amy and we’ve got a sponsor. The sew along starts now and ends August 17, 2016 EST. I’ll post the showcase on August 19, 2016. And there is a BONUS! This year a random participant will receive a FREE pattern of your choice from 5 Out Of 4 Patterns! You can also use coupon code maxisewalong2016 at checkout on their website to receive 20% off your pattern order, good through Tuesday, July 27 (EST). They currently have one maxi dress pattern: Journey Tank and Dress, but they have a few others that are screaming to be hacked into a maxi. Check out all the details below. (Note: you do not have to use one of their patterns to win the free pattern or participate in the sew along)

Various images from Google Images
Various images from Google Images

What is a sew-along? Where a group of people get together and sew the same pattern or garment style together. In this case it would be a garment style: maxi dress.

What is considered a maxi dress? A dress that falls to the ankles.

Who can participate? Everyone and everyone! No need for a blog, you just have to be able to send in a picture to be posted to the showcase and entered to win the free pattern.

Will there be a winner? There isn’t a winner, just a group of sewists having fun. After everyone has submitted their dress picture(s) (either by e-mail or post in the Facebook group), I will draw a random name for the free pattern.

Time frame: Start sewing now and be sure to send in your picture by August 17, 2016 (EST) by either e-mail or post in the Facebook group.

Why? Sew-alongs help motivate and push you to try new things. Also, you get to make new friends and have fun at the same time! Win/win!

Rules: Dress can be for you or someone else, any age. It has to be made within the time frame above. You can use any pattern you wish or draft your own. Adding embellishments to a current maxi dress will not count. The dress can be as formal or casual as you want. You have to submit pictures of your finished dress. You don’t have to be wearing the dress in the photos – but it makes it more fun!

Social Media: Use hashtag #maxisewalong2016 on social media to see what everyone else is up to. Post inspiration and progress photos for everyone to see. You can use the below photo on any social media.

maxidress2016

If you want a smaller icon to post on your blog:

maxidress2016-icon

Final:
-Make sure to e-mail or post in the Facebook group on or before August 17, 2016 (EST) with your finished garment photos.
-Be sure to let me know what name/website to credit your photos with.