Bat wings?? No, its Mcalls “Laura Ashley” 6277

I have been eyeing this Mcalls pattern from the Laura Ashley line because the big drapey sleeves look so sleek in the drawn view (scoop neckline) on the pattern picture. After cutting the pieces and trying it on 20 times during the contruction, I felt like I could just take off and fly away with the gigantic bat wing sleeves for this dress! Needless to say I made quite a few alterations to this dress.

I found this bright fun printed rayon blend fabric that I wanted to use for this dress, and I decided to omit the lining for this dress all together. The material is pretty thick and not at all sheer, and it is very soft and drapey so it seemed unnecessary. Plus I’ll probably wear this in the summer and additional layers of fabric in the hot River valley summers = one sweaty gal! Not cute!

The contruction of the actual dress was very easy, it has three sections, a middle piece and the two sides. The problems came when I attached the sleeves and tried it on. The view for the V-neck dress had shorter sleeves and the view for this dress added about two extra inches on the length. I will go ahead and say that unless you have stretch armstrong arms these are way too big for the average woman and you should go ahead and cut the smaller ones. I couldn’t even get my belt around them, they got caught around my waist! I ended up spending way too much time hemming them shorter and sizing them down. The dress was also really long, I had to take it up about 2-3 inches as well. In the end I think my dress looks pretty cute, but it took way too long for something I thought would be a quick project piece.


Simplicity 2892- cute on top!

I love making dresses and there are many I have planned but sometimes you just want to throw on some jeans and a cute top. This top from the Simplicity pattern 2892 was so easy and I think its super cute especially in a pattern. I used the view D which was pictured on the front. You can also make a belt to go with this version but in my opinion the top would need to be made longer to accomodate a belt.

The top was very easy and relatively quick to make. The majority of the work went into the neckline. The yoke had a lot of gathering which was a minor challenge with this particular material. I had seen this blue flower printed cotton material at Joann’s and fell in love with it, but they only had 1.5 yards left so I snatched it up and decided it was just enough for a top. It is a thick rougher cotton material, definitely not a “laundered cotton” which they always put as a suggested material for these types of patterns. Why they put this I don’t know, its not like people have old sheets and yards of fabric laying around that they have run through the laundry 50 times just so that they can make them into tops and dresses and stuff. Sheesh.

Anyways, since the material was a little stiff, it didn’t quite gather and bunch too easily so I had to kind of scrunch it with my fingers as I sewed it up. It also had gathering for the top ruffle band, I had to use the same method when sewing this piece as well. The only real drawback that I had with this top is that the bias tape under the armpit seams was left exposed on the inside of the shirt, but since nobody sees the inside I suppose it didn’t really matter much.

I really enjoyed putting this top together and I have already worn it to work for casual Friday and I wore to get a sushi dinner last night with my husband to our favorite place Oishii on Bardstown road. I will definitely make this top again (in a softer cotton) and I definitely recommend it. Two thumbs up Simplicity 2892!


Paisley dress

I found this paisley print by Michael Miller, called Posh Paisley. It comes in many different colors but I loved this bright pink one. I’ve had this Simplicity pattern 2584 in my to do pile for a while and this fabric was perfect for it! Its a cute, casual dress that I can wear to work, hanging out on the weekends or for dinner and drinks.

It was an easy dress to make, the most challenging part was the yolk (neckline) but I had a lot of fun putting it together. After lining the yolk section, I mtched the notched sections and dot and sewed it onto the dress. After fusing the interfacing to the lining and sewing it to the outside, I sewed two straight lines down the center, and you cut all the way down between these to create the neck opening. The lining gets inverted to the inside, and then you just iron it out and it completes the collar. It was almost like a magic trick!

The sleeves were made by sewing in an inch wide channel and pulling through elastic. After trying it on, I fit the elastic to my arm so it wasn’t too tight or too loose. By itself, Chris thought this dress looked like a night gown. This was pretty annoying but I’ll admit (especially in this pic) that without a belt and some cute heels it does kind of look like something your granny would bust out.

I really like this dress, and I would definitely make it again. The pattern came with different variations so the next one I would try would probably be the version with the puff sleeves and tie waist.


Cynthia Rowley 2178…. WTF??

So I tried this new Cynthia Rowley pattern from the new Simplicity 2011 Summer collection thinking that I could wear it out for a Bachelorette party in May and yeah… so much for that idea. This pattern is so strange and ended up being so asymmetric, perhaps it was the crinkle gauze material I used which I have not worked with before, or maybe it was all the weird random pleats and gathering, I don’t know but it ended up being a hot mess.

In the photo on the pattern it looks a little Grecian Goddess-esque which I thought was pretty, but my finished product didn’t look like this in my opinion. The fabrics they called for ranged from linens, laundered cottons, and crinkle gauze to satins. In hindsight the satin may have been a better option for this dress as it woud have been more sturdy and clean in the pleating and gathering. The bodice came together pretty easily, the strap construction used interfacing and wasn’t too out of the norm. Then I made the Midriff waist section which somehow came out way to short. I used the same measurement on all pattern pieces but ended up having to recut this section longer, luckily I had enough fabric left to make these long pieces.

Next I made the weird skirt. It had one slit at the top of the waist (imagine a missing slice of pizza) this was to make one random dart. Umm alrightie… Then the pattern had gathering on one side near the dart, and then just folded pleats on the other side. Maybe I just messed this up somehow but the skirt ended up being so off center. If I could go back I would have skipped the gathering and just made plain and simple pleats ignoring the instructions. The hem was also strange, it had a ring of interfacing that was sewed around the bottom with facing. I guess this was to create sort of a hoola hoop effect and make the skirt flare out. Mine of course ended up being uneven in the back- hey why ruin my asymmetry theme?

Here is the full view of the dress. I am going to quote the movie Clueless and say that this dress is full of Monet, from far away it looks ok, but up close its a big mess.

In the end I could probably wear this dress out to a dark bar where people would be drinking and no one would even notice the imperfections, however for the experience and issues I had making this dress, sorry Cynthia Rowley I love you but 2178 gets a thumbs down. <PPHHHHTTTTTHH!!>


Crazy about Stripes!

I think that stripes are so much fun, they can be casual or dressed up and they can also make you look thinner (or fatter 🙂  Simplicity released their new patterns for summer 2011 and I absolutely loved this new pattern 2177 with the striped view. I didn’t care too much for the photo view, the girl looks like she is in a getup Holly Hobbs would wear and the little jacket looks a bit cheesy to me, but hey to each their own.

This dress was very easy to make and I actually used Michael Miller’s Clown Striped knit fabric in black and white. The back of the envelope suggested cottons, gauze, linen type blends but the knit worked out just fine. This pattern does run pretty big though, I actually ended up having to cut out about two inches from my perfectly finished straps so that it wouldn’t be hanging on me. The finished product didn’t look terrible, but I knew it would bug me so I used some left over material to ring around the striped and simulate gathering. I think it gave it a sailor type look which looks pretty cute! Although its hard to see them in these pictures, my hair covers them.

This dress has pleats at the top where the skirt met the bodice which I love because they are great for hiding any tummy issues 🙂

This dress makes me excited for the summer! Since I didn’t end up using nearly as much fabric as the pattern called for, I had enough left over to make this striped skirt from Kwiksew pattern 3003. I think this pattern has been around for quite a while given the illustrations on the front, the 90’s called and they want their rooster ponytail back! This is a very casual skirt with elastic at the waist so you can be liberal with sizing up and down.

One thing about this pattern to watch out for is matching the stripes. Since its virtually the same pattern for each skirt, the second view just has an extra cut down the center. This means you have to match up the stripes to the opposite side that what would have been pieced together with just two pieces as opposed to four. This means that the length will be a bit off when you do your hemming. I am only 5’2″ so I usually end up hemming quite a bit of length anyhow so it wasn’t an issue for me, but if you are tall you may want to compensate on the length when you cut your fabric. FYI please excuse my nasty thumb burn in this photo, be careful with those irons kids!

Here is one that I made for my friend Jo as part of her Bridal shower gift. My Mom crocheted the orange flowers that I added to the hem.

I would definitely recommend both these patterns- very easy to use and versatile, they are great for stripes but not limited to them.


A Snappy Shirt dress

As the Spring weather rolls in, it sometimes is difficult to find some in between options to wear that won’t leave you freezing…. or sweating. I recently found this awesome shirt dress pattern from the Lisette line of Simplicity.

It is perfect for Spring, and I have never made plackets or button holes before so this was a great guinnea pig piece. I actually made this dress twice, the first one I found some discounted sky blue gingham (which was very sheer, but I didn’t notice it until it was too late). The first one actually turned out really good, when making the plackets though an iron is your best friend! They were surprisingly easy on this pattern, you just use interfacing and fabric for facing. The button holes were also simple and FUN! Here is the first dress I made:

One thing I will say about this pattern, is size up! Shirting material doesn’t have much stretch, so if you have some hips like myself you’ll want to go a size bigger. Since patterns generally run small anyways, that means I had to go two sizes up on this one. This dress turned out good, but I will be donating it to one of my thinner friends for sure!

The second dress I found some homespun fabric, meaning the print it the same on both the front and back as fabrics were spun by hand back in the day. This fabric is thicker and it was more of a peacock green gingham which I liked. I wanted to add a bit of embellishment to the second one, so I tried out metallic silver thread on the pockets. The thread looked good, however it was very thin and ended up causing my pockets to pucker, I couldn’t get them to lay perfectly flat no matter how many times I ironed them, unlike the first attempt in which I used regular thread. Its not really all that noticible, but it does bother me a bit.

I also decided to substitute out the buttons for pearl shirt snaps, like the ones used on western shirts. Those were incredibly easy to use as well, no sewing! Just get a hammer and some shops sell tools you can use to aply them easier for $5. Here is my final product:

I am really looking forward to the warm weather so I can wear my shirt dress to some of the fun outdoor events they have here in Louisville, like Waterfront Wednesday that starts this week!


Green dress for an orange poppy flower wedding

This May my best friend Jo is getting married to a wonderful guy Dave, and I am so so so excited for them! They have dated for almost 8 years (just like Chris and I) and Jo will be the first to tell you that its about doggone time! I’m really excited for their wedding which is taking place at Jo’s parent’s home in New Castle Kentucky. They have a gorgeous home and acres of land, which is perfect for an outdoor spring wedding. They decided on an orange California poppy flower theme as they have lived in California for the last couple of years and are finally moving back home. Hurray!! Since it is a more casual wedding, I wanted to make a dress that would suit both a formal and a casual setting for the event. I also wanted something light because in Kentucky it goes from winter to summer over night, and Kentucky summers are HOT! I found some light rayon material in a beuatiful green color, and decided to make the Cynthia Rowley dress from pattern 2406 (can you tell I’m a fan of the Cynthia Rowley line from Simplicity?) I love how unique the cut out sleeves are and the open back which makes it a bit more formal.

The pleating around the neckline was a new trick for me. I sewed interfacing on and flipped it inside out with facing on the inside and it worked like magic! The back was done with the same method and is enclosed at the top with a hook and eye. Here is the back view, keep in mind you’ll need a good sticky cup bra for this dress!

Here is the pattern I used too:

I can’t wait to see Jo looking gorgeous in her beautiful wedding dress, it is going to be a very special and unforgettable day!


A Birthday Dress

My Birthday was just a few weeks ago, but I had been eyeing this Cynthia Rowley pattern 2586 from Simplicity for a while and thought what a better occasion to make this dress for? I really loved the way it looked in the dark blue fabric they pictured so I tried to replicate this. I found a stretchy midnight blue nylon/polyester blend fabric and it worked perfectly! The dress consisted or rouching around the neckline and on top of the sleeves at the shoulders, and ruffles around the hemline which were so much fun to make and look super cute and flirty.

The part that I found the most difficult was the bonding around the neckline, I ending up having to remove the seams and redo this twice because I could not match the stitching up to the front. Now that I have run through this, I think the second time around would be much easier as I would cut the pattern piece wider and just sew the front to the back simultaneously.

I also think I may add some little buttons to the sleeves to add a bit of flare. It was a fun dress to wear and people were asking me where I bought it all night!


A Union Suit for a hot Kayaker

My husband’s most passionate hobby (much like my sewing/craft hobby) is kayaking. And I mean serious kayaking, he throws himself down class 5 rapids in tiny little playboats- thank goodness he has a good life insurance policy. Hee hee, I kid, I kid! Anyhow, he goes kayaking all year long, all around the Southeast where the water is running. Needless to say, the water can get COLD no matter what time of the year it is. So he asked me to sew him a Union suit, it is a stretch full body suit that he wears underneath his dry suit to add an extra layer of warmth. He actually got online and found this Kwiksew pattern 2335 to use as a template, its pretty much a wetsuit but clearly this pattern has been around since the 90’s judging from the neon green and electric blue color they used.

Lucky for him I let him pick the fabric he wanted to use or he would’ve ended up with a 90’s hot pink version. He found a synthetic rayon/polyester blend material (in solid black of course) not waterproof but would absorb sweat and provide some insulation. It was surprising easy to sew, Kwiksew patterns are very clear in their instructions. I did end up using bright orange thread which actually looked pretty cool, gave it a sporty look. The most fun part was putting in the 24″ zipper, I used a sports version but they do have waterproof ones. It turned out good though a little snug and short, this is just the prototype though according to Chris.

For the next one he wants to order Neoprene which is a rubberbased fabric that flicks sweat away from your body. Our good friend DJ who is also a big kayaking enthusiast is in line for one too. 🙂 Here’s a picture of Chris in action.

He has used his Union suit for 2 boating trips and it has kept him nice and toasty!


Hello creative friends!

Hello all! Welcome to my first ever creativity blog! I really excited to begin sharing all my sewing projects and crafty designs and projects with you. I was married to the love of my life last November, and I received a new Singer Sewing machine as a wedding gift from my wonderful Italian Aunt Ida from New York who highly encourages domestic skills and old school traditions. Although it is a pretty standard machine, (no fancy schmancy computerized screens or buttons), I have been able to make some pretty impressive and diverse items if I do say so myself!

This was one of my first projects, it is a long drapey vest that I made from a soft rayon blend material, it is a pretty plum color that I found at Joann’s Fabrics (with a coupon of course). It was a pretty easy sew, I used the Simplicity pattern #2283 although it is funny how seemingly easy directions can stump you! I was on a roll until the point where the neck band attached to the back of the vest. I read it over and over for an hour and looked at the black and white illustrations and just couldn’t comprehend how to roll it a certain way and match the notches (that I forgot to mark- go figure). I had to just step away and finish it the next day when it finally clicked. I opted out on hemming the garment as the material is very flowy and thin and it just didn’t look right to me with a hem.

I think it turned out pretty cute! Great for hanging out on the weekends with my buddies or going to grab a casual drink.