Monday, July 30, 2012

Full-Skirted Frocks

Greetings from sunny California! ~ August is just around the corner, and that means my darling daughter will be going back to work very soon.  She is a high school special education teacher by day, and an aspiring novelist by night and early morning.  In the past, DD has favored slacks or pencil skirts for work, but a special request has come for some full-skirted dresses.  Why, you ask?  Well, I'll let these American Girl Doll displays from the NYC store tell the story.

First there was this (kind of):
And then there was this (pretty much):
Oh, cursed injuries!  She's got partial tears of the ACL, MCL, a strained meniscus, a bruised kneecap, etc., etc.  She was playing grass doubles volleyball with her friend, Cecca, one blustery San Francisco Saturday about six weeks ago.  During the championship match, DD leapt up to make a kill, but when she landed, her foot slid on the grass and a loud and icky "pop" was heard as she collapsed on the ground.  Poor baby!  

Well, things are a bit better now--she can walk with crutches and is in a big metal brace from her ankle to her hip.  It's because of this brace that she needs some full skirts.  She can wear the brace over pants, but the metal parts rub at the fabric on the inner thigh of the opposite leg, and a straight skirt will not fit over the brace.               

We went through my stash of patterns, and she chose several styles that she liked.  I've finished one (shown below) and just need to hem another.  I'll see how many of these I can whip up in the next week or two.

This is McCall's 5974 in a size 12 with 6" added to the length of the skirt.  (DD is 6 feet tall with looooong legs.)  I did my usual with this pattern:  coverstitched the hems, bound the neck, and put the sleeves in flat.  The fabric is a jersey from Gorgeous Fabrics; it is very silky with a nice drape.  DD loves pink, so I knew this would be a winner.  And, as you can see, there's plenty of room for the brace!
Next up, Simplicity 2444 in a pretty pink floral stretch cotton from  
 After I've hemmed it, I'll post more pictures and pattern details.

Until next time...

Happy sewing! ~ Peggy

Friday, July 20, 2012

Stretch Shirtwaist Dress

I am toying with a dress for my daughter.  She has fallen in love with Samantha Sung dresses, but at about $500 a pop, she'd rather see if we can replicate the look for a whole lot less so she can have multiple versions.  The style she likes, pictured below, is the Audrey.  It is made from stretch cotton woven fabric (the website calls it "cotton stretch peeling")--many different colors and prints available.  We've done some snoop-shopping (of course!) and the dresses are very flattering on DD, but she could use a little more room in the arms, and more length in the bodice.  (BTW, do you know what "cotton stretch peeling" is?  I assume it's the fabric that Samantha Sung uses, but my internet search hasn't yielded any answers.)
DD first saw one of these dresses on another high school teacher; with the conservative style and the ease of the stretch fabric, DD says this style would be perfect to wear in her classroom. She'd like some of these dresses with 3/4 sleeves (instead of long sleeves) for versatility.  That way, she can wear them in warmer weather, or add a cardigan and boots for cooler weather.  

I have several shirtwaist patterns, but I am still vacillating about which one to use.  I love Vogue 8383 (OOP); its princess-seamed bodice is very flattering.  

I've made this dress before, shown below (View D)--I call it my "Backyard BBQ dress."
This is a size 14, and I had DD try it on.  Unfortunately, it is way too big on her--and since this is a woven and we want to make it in a stretch woven, it definitely needs to be smaller.   When Vogue recently had a sale on their OOP patterns, I snatched up a size 12 so I can give it a whirl.  This pattern doesn't have sleeves, so I'll make a sleeveless version (lengthening the bodice and the skirt)--and I'll probably pleat the skirt too.  If it works, I'll work on drafting 3/4 length sleeves.

Another option, also OOP, is Vogue 8028:
I've always liked this pattern, but the smallest I have is a 14.  I made a muslin of the bodice in some horrid stretch sateen I'd purchased at Joann's (it wasn't horrid until I washed it), and it was gigantic on DD.  So, I also purchased a smaller version of this pattern during Vogue's OOP sale but I haven't gotten it yet.

So, what do you think?  Any suggestions for shirtwaist patterns?  And, do you have any good sources for stretch wovens?  (I have a few pieces I bought at Gorgeous Fabrics, but I'm looking for more!)

Until later...

Happy sewing! ~ Peggy

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Sassy Summer Skirt - McCall's 3830

I don't know about you, but during the week, I like simple projects that I can work on a few minutes at a time.  Why?  Well, my brain is often kaput by the time I get home from work, so anything too complex might reduce me to tears.  To avoid tears and tantrums, I like to have a few easy but stylish projects ready to work on during the week.  This project, another McCall's 3830 skirt, was sewn in bits and pieces over the course of a few evenings--and the machine blind-hem was done one morning before work.

The fabric is kind of wild, but I love it!  It is a home dec fabric that I bought on sale at Joann's.  The skirt is underlined with yellow poly/cotton broadcloth, all edges were finished with yellow thread on the serger, and I used an invisible zipper.
25ish years ago, I bought my first serger, a Babylock.  It was a workhorse, but it was a PITA to thread!  A few years ago, I replaced that serger with a Babylock Imagine, and I LOVE it!  It is so easy to change the threads, allowing me to feed my obsession with matchy-matchy thread finishes!
I've a few more pieces of home dec fabrics that I plan to make into skirts, but I think I'll take a break from these for a while. 

Meanwhile, guess what?  I just came back from my first trip to New York's garment district and I had a blast!  Here's one of the goodies I bought at Mood:

It's a rayon/lycra jersey, and I just love the colors!  I don't know what I'm going to do with it yet-- maybe another McCall's 5974.

Do you sew after work or wait for a day off?  Any tips on increasing sewing productivity during the work week?  I'd love to learn what you do!

In the meantime--
Happy sewing! ~ Peggy