Work(horse) Separates

Yikes, it’s been a long time since my last post!! I blame Christmas sewing :P. In my defense, though, I’ve almost completed all of my handmade gifts, which hopefully means no stressful last-minute crafting! Or, at least, less…a girl can dream. Anyhow, several weeks of “secret sewing” have meant that nothing bloggable has come from my sewing machine in quite a while.

Luckily, I had some separates I made a month or so waiting in the wings, so here we go! I’ve been noticing a distinct dearth of “real” work clothes in my wardrobe recently, and decided I really needed to remedy that. I have lots of full/poofy knee-length skirts paired with casual-ish knit tops or knit dresses, but no “serious” work clothes. Granted, in my line of work, you can really wear pretty much whatever you want, but since I’m still on the young side and since looking “twee” doesn’t really encourage people to take you seriously, I decided it was time for a change.

Since my altered Mabel skirt had been such a hit when I first made it, I decided not to mess with success, and got right to work on another. This time I used a striped ponte – actually, leftovers from this dress – to make it again. I made a few little tweaks to the fit, mostly just taking the center back in a little more and lowering it a bit for a sway back adjustment. It’s still not quite perfect, but I’m getting there.

IMG_2866IMG_2863

The top is also a new make. The photos are a bit overexposed so it’s hard to see, but it’s the Seamwork Astoria cropped sweater. I used a very spongy polyester sweater knit to sew it up, which created more than a few fit challenges. Although the fabric had the necessary stretch percentage for the pattern, it also has rather extreme recovery, making it fit much more tightly than a more regular knit “weave” made from a natural fiber or blend. To give myself a little room to play, I cut the pattern with larger seam allowances (I think it was 5/8″ instead of 3/8″). I’m very glad I did, since my basted together version with the original seams was skin tight! I ended up using 1/4″ seams for the side seams and bottom band, which added back the necessary circumference.

I also added 1 1/2″ to the length – I found it was just *too* cropped as-is, and I couldn’t raise my arms without flashing people. The fit is definitely still wonky, but it’s wearable. Next time, I plan to make this out of more forgiving fabric to see if I can fix some of those issues.

IMG_2865IMG_2861

So there you have it – two new pieces that have already turned into real wardrobe workhorses. Now back to Christmas sewing!!

Advertisements

All Wrapped Up: Belated Birthday Wrap Dress

(apologies for the terrible pun in the title…)

In the spirit of finally blogging things made several months before, I bring you – *drumroll* – my birthday dress! My birthday was in March, and I did wear this on “the big day,” so you do the math :P. But hey, better late than never!

Backing up a bit, I’ve been on a search for a good knit wrap dress pattern pretty much ever since I started sewing. Short of shelling out major $$$ for the original Vogue DVF pattern, however, I was having trouble finding one. However, for Christmas, my mom got me the wonderful Famous Frocks: The Little Black Dress book, which happens to have a knit wrap dress pattern included in the lineup (the “Liza Dress” in the book). This pattern was inspired by the original DVF design, so it was exactly the sort of look I was going for. I also knew I wanted a wrap dress that was red and drapey, so when I spotted a slinky Brazil knit at Eddie’s Quilting Bee in Sunnyvale, I snatched up several yards and got to work!

I made the variation version, with 3/4 length sleeves and a fuller skirt (the “original” is sleeveless, with a slightly narrower skirt), and I absolutely love the result. It has become my go-to dress for fancy-ish-but-not-too-fancy occasions, like attending opera dress rehearsals or ballet performances. It’s easy to dress up or down depending on the occasion, and it’s always comfortable, which is a major plus at formal events!

IMG_2854 IMG_2855 IMG_2857

One unique construction element worth mentioning here was the neck finish – this pattern used a binding instead of simply folding under and hemming. This helps alleviate gaping, which is often an issue with wrap dresses. The binding is simply a strip of fabric cut along the direction of greatest stretch, creating basically a knit version of bias binding. You then press it in half, sew it to the neckline, understitch, and then turn under and hem. It’s a few more steps, but it’s definitely worth it, since it both stabilizes the neck and prevents gaping.

IMG_2858 IMG_2860

Outtake – the dangers of taking pictures in the wind!

So, all in all, a very successful make, and one that has been worn many, MANY times already!