Tuesday, April 21, 2015

True Bias Southport Dress - new!

To open - thank you so much for the supportive comments on my last post. I'm feeling a bit better and have really enjoyed doing some sewing!

And look what I did - I sewed the new Southport dress from True Bias, using the embroidered lawn that I was contemplating earlier.

This dress is every bit as comfortable as it looks. The embroidery in the lawn gives it just weight it needs to drape smoothly, it doesn't have wrinkles because it is wrinkled, and it's very opaque, no lining required.

I actually bought the Southport because it reminds me of a vintage 70's pattern, McCalls 6544. I ordered the McCalls after seeing Sara's version last year on her blog, Mixed Emotions. But I've delayed sewing it because I knew I would do as Sara did, i.e., redraft the back, and probably the front as well, to minimize the neckline gathers.

Worth the wait...

McCalls 6544

The Southport has nice options, such as a front slit and two lengths. The long and short versions have separate pattern pieces for the skirt, which I like. And the bodice has bust darts - yea! The dress is drafted for a C cup, which works perfectly for me. The skirt is not buttoned, fine by me, I wouldn't have drafted the McCalls dress with all those buttons anyway.

Now - it's not perfect. In fact, IMO, the drafting on the Southport bodice, and the sizing, are, well, difficult...

I started with a size 12 bodice and size 10 skirt, based on the given measurements. On my initial draft, I made a number of changes:
  • The front shoulder looked funky - it flew up at the neckline and, indeed, did not match up with the back shoulder angle at all. This is a small but horrible drafting error, since the resulting shoulder would not work well. But it was easily fixed with a little redraft. 
  • My next change was to drop the bodice dart by 1 3/4". I always have to do this, but I've started doing it a little differently. Instead of boxing the dart, cutting it out, and moving it down, I copy it onto a square of tissue and put the tissue piece into place on top of the original pattern.  A little curing of the side seam and voila! On a multi-size pattern, this approach keeps the original dart lines available.
  • I knew, from the few versions available for online viewing, that the dress had high floppy-front-neckline potential. To adjust, I used a hollow chest adjustment on the inside curve of the neckline. Hollow chest adjustments are very personal depending on one's build, this one works for me on low, round necklines. And I think the term 'hollow chest' is hilarious :-)
Edited on 4/23/2015: Apology I missed this in my notes! An additional change I made - before I bound the neckline, I found the front neckline to be too wide and wavy. I folded the center front and ran a 5/8" seam from the neckline, curing to 3/8" at the bottom edge. This explains why my neckline looks more narrow than the pattern, line art, and True Bias site version.
  • Since the pattern is fitted on a 5'5" model, I added 1" to the bodice length, front and back. I was planning to add 1" to the skirt as well, but it is 43" long, plenty for my height (5'7"), with a generous hem.
Time out for a pic:

And back to sewing...
  • Once I had my bodice sewn at shoulder and side seam, I had very gaping armholes! and the width at the bust line was 1 1/2" wider than I expected. I took in both side seams by 1" (back and front). Much better and the bodice fit to the skirt perfectly. 
  • Finishing the neckline and armholes was simple - I used self-fabric binding for both. OK, it wasn't so simple. The embroidered fabric was way too thick for a binding. I cut out the bias and removed the embroidery from the pieces. It was so easy that I did the same for the drawstring as well. 
My cheaters:
  • Since the dress clearly slips over one's head, I eliminated the functioning button front and used a faux button tab. For the pattern, I cut the front bodice on the fold, using the center front marking. 
  • I noticed that the back and front skirt are basically the same, with just a little bit more width in the back. Since it is cut on the fold, I drafted only one skirt pattern, with two center back lines. Perfect.
  • Out, out, drawstring! I did put it in and then took it out. Instead I used 1/2" elastic in the casing and secured a shortened drawstring in each open end. It's sooo much easier to keep the gathers aligned around the skirt!

Maggy London embroidered lawn, Fabric Mart

And I love my new dress. 

Parting shots - orchids are blooming in the guava tree and on the ground. Oh, BTW, I saw Mr. Cuban Knight anole in the tree last week. He's huge, at least 20" long. The tree is blooming, but is some weeks from its fruit. Nonetheless, Ms. Squirrel challenged him (bad idea) in anticipation.

Cymbidium - about 11 years old, it's a frequent bloomer, really year-round.

Epidendrum radicans - a ground orchid and newcomer to the garden.
I bought one in a pot and split it into three for planting.

Vanda and one of my first orchids. This one is about 12 years old
and has been split and repotted. Two now!

A previous pic of Mr. Anole. He's hard to photograph, he slips away so fast.
But this time he froze when he saw me. Lucky shot.

Ciao! Coco

Friday, April 17, 2015

Virtual sewing...

 Hugging the pillow - again. I've been sidelined for about a week, I'm tired of not feeling well! Whine...

But I see my PCP at Cleveland Clinic in 2 weeks, and I want every test! so I can beat this intermittent issue that's been challenging me for over a year. Believe me, I've been tested like crazy and everything is working great. So why do I feel so awful? I'm sure it's tied to my scleroderma and its effect on nutrient absorption.

I had been feeling so well since early December, but I started stumbling during Ashley's wedding weekend at the end of February. And was in the ER once more in mid March. aarrggh.

Meanwhile - for the last day or so, I've felt well enough to do some online window shopping and to think about getting back in the loft. I'm feeling an urge to do something different for spring and summer. Uh oh, dangerous territory. New patterns are implied.


Have you heard of 'lagenlook'? From the German word, it translates as 'layered look'. I didn't realize there's a term for this style of clothing, I really hadn't thought about it. Now I find there's a big world of lagenlook designers, retailers, bloggers, sewists, Pinterest boards...I've done a lot of looking. The approach is so appealing to the loose clothing/maxi lover that I am.

I was tipped in this direction by recent Pattern Reviews by rivergum and twotoast, focusing on designs by Tina Givens. What? I love Tina Givens fabric! Her designs are romantic, creative, intricate, and well articulated. Now I've fallen for her sewing site (what a relaxing exploration, it's beautifully done) and her patterns.

She has 6 freebies, and all are really appealing patterns. I picked up two of them right away:

The Plinka pants. Well, OK, I might not do the ruffled hems, but how about very full pants, something between a gaucho and a culotte.


And the Bloom dress, which seems very foundational - many of her designs appear to be a play on this basic style.

That was so much fun, no money spent, and new ideas garnered.

Well no, I just couldn't stop there. I purchased 3 more! but with a generous newbie discount.  This is so typical of me. I like to 'fullsome' anything I'm doing. Artwork, crafting, sewing, gardening - I always end up surrounding myself with everything and anything I think I might need. Apparently I need 3 more patterns to complete my initial Tina Givens journey.

Gypsy jacket

Phoebe shirt and pants

Suzanna jacket

These designs are so calm...

Lightweight linens, voile, blends, jerseys - finding the right fabrics will be interesting, especially on a retiree budget. But I'll pace myself! I have lots of broadcloth in the stash for muslins, which will keep me out of trouble for a while.


Early this morning, I rambled through my Bloglovin' update email as usual. This and the Pattern Review update are company to my first cup of coffee, every day. It has become a pleasurable habit. And I found a new pattern by True Bias - the Southport dress.

(Yes, True Bias of the Hudson Pants fame...great pattern).

Of course I had to have this. Fresh, pockets, long - I can already feel this dress. I have a gorgeous, soft Maggy London embroidered lawn that has been languishing in my stash, just waiting for the right pattern. The fabric is a bit challenging - the flowers are large and need a proper display. I think this will be a good marriage.

And I stopped there! I'm looking forward to all the cutting and taping of pattern pieces (these are all PDF patterns). I really am - I enjoy getting on the floor with my cutting board and drafting tools, and putting on a good movie or watching Big Bang Theory (my geek side - I have all of the episodes).

Hoping everyone has a nice weekend - bye for now! Coco

Monday, April 6, 2015

New Look 6340 Easy Dress and that moon...

The April full moon has had me seriously awake! It has been spectacular, under clear skies every night. And then - the eclipse. Lucky folks on the Pacific coast got a full eclipse, complete with a blood moon. I'm jealous...

I went out around 6 a.m. to capture our partial eclipse here in South Florida. The sun was rising at my back, and the moon was very low in the west, so I was fortunate to get these shots (well, they are 2 of about a million that were not as nice). Left my tripod at the house, because I thought I could just walk out in the street and take pictures...but I ended up walking some distance to get away from foliage and street lights. Just me and the night critters.

My full moon project was a tunic version of New Look 6340 'Easy Dress'. Love it!

I started with View D and used the patch pockets from View A. 

No tie needed...

This is a seriously cute and easy pattern. On the inside:

Sewing notes:
  • I used size 14, my usual Big 4 size..
  • The finished back length, measured from the center back neck, is 31 5/8".
  • My fabric is a soft, smooth cotton calico from JoAnns. It's called Red Packed Roses - I used it for a Gabby tent dress previously. Wish I had more! But it and the Green Packed Roses are all gone.
  • I love love that this dress has a bust dart, which I moved down 1 3/4".
  • All the seam allowances are serged on the edge and pressed open. Sleeve and skirt hems are finished at 1".
  • The facings come with the pattern and fit very nicely. They make the v-neck so easy to finish.

Check out the pocket! an unexpected and nice detail. It's a little hard to see, but it has two pleats in the center. I 'save' pocket patterns in a zip-lock bag, so I can go through them if I want something different for a project. This one is a keeper.

I just realized that the hazy spot on all my pics must be on my camera lens. I was really fumbling around to do the manual adjustments during my night shoot. Phooey.

Off to clean my camera! Bye for now - Coco

Friday, April 3, 2015

Vogue 8712 Marcy Tilton Ankle Pants...gone culottie

I think the full moon over Miami has me wide awake - I took these pics as soon as the sun rose today.

 So - culottes. Oh gosh, I thought we got over these years ago. But no. They're everywhere, at least on pattern and fashion sites. Strange though, I haven't seen them on anyone around town. hmmm

I'm game. But rather than buy a new pattern, I pulled out one I own, but just couldn't love enough to sew...a Marcy Tilton pant with some pretty funky ankle treatments.

Without the ankle cuffs, they really look like culottes!

I made view AB, which has an interesting and comfortable pocket. My fabric is a stretch cotton sateen from Fabric Mart. Note: I don't like tan or chino or khaki britches! Just me - now that I'm retired, there are some things I'm free to leave in the past - like khaki suits. I bought this fabric thinking I'd make a jacket, but it worked well for this muslin. And I'm glad to get it out of my stash!

Sewing notes:
  • Sewed size 14, my usual Vogue size.
  • Seam allowances used: 1/2" side and waist seam, 5/8" in the crotch.
  • Because the pattern is somewhat short in the rise, I added a waistband. I cut the band at 3" x 42" across grain, fitted it to the pants, and used 1" braid elastic
  • The finished side seam measures 31" from the bottom of the waistband.

I like them. Now I'm thinking of purchasing a 'real' culottes pattern, perhaps this one from BurdaStyle. Love the leopard and think florals would be fun as well:

BS Midi Culottes 04/2015 #113A

Parting shots: someone came over to model with me...

Hope everyone enjoys a nice weekend. Ciao! Coco

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

McCalls 6966 - nice skirt!

Way out...this fabric is neon!

I had no idea this cotton/lycra knit from Fabric mart was so bright when I ordered it...but it was kind of fun to find some way to use it :-)

I looove knit maxi skirts. What a great excuse to be comfortable (as in pajama comfortable) and trendy at the same time. I've been making mine sort of free-hand from a pattern I drafted a couple years ago. Blogged here and  also seen again here...

Enter McCalls 6966. It's fuller than my self-drafted pattern, and it has piecing options. I just had to give it a go.

I really like the extra volume. Swingy...

I sewed the size Medium, which has a generous hip measurement of 46", for my 41" hip. I really don't want cling at that particular spot. 

I made only a couple changes to this delightful skirt: 
  • I added 3" to the length.
  • And changed the waistband!

Having read the reviews online (thank you, fellow bloggers), I wasn't crazy about the upper yoke and waistband on the pattern. So - I left off the top 'yoke' piece, discarded the waist design, and drafted a yoga waistband instead.

It's so easy to make a yoga waistband. Just cut a rectangle across the stretch of a knit, 2 inches or so less than your waist, and about 12" wide. I use a 12" width, because the resulting 4" or so folded waistband fits well on my waist. You might like something different.

Seam the short ends together. Then fold in half across the length, and sew to the top edge of the skirt as a band, wrong sides together. If you've sewn a band onto a knit tee, you've done this. There are lots of online tutorials for doing this... just google 'yoga waistband' and find one you like. 

Great for knit skirts and pants and knit pajamas!

More pics (I'm wearing a cotton/spandex Plantain tee with elbow-length sleeves in all of these):

All those leaves in the garden - it's our Florida version of fall, when all the mahogany tree shed their leaves. To compensate, the orchids in the guava tree are blooming...

Happy to respond to any questions on the skirt/waistband, just send an email. Bye for now - Coco