Mesa Dress

Mesa Dress

I’ve been all about summer dresses lately. And when I saw the latest pattern from Seamwork Magazine, the Mesa shift dress, I just couldn’t resist bumping it to the top of my sewing queue. It’s super quick – you can get it cut out and sewn within two hours. And I just so happened to have the perfect bamboo jersey in my stash!

I made an XS, and while my waist measurement is in that column, my bust and hips are about 1.5″ smaller. Funnily enough, I thought the fit was good in the bust and hips, but I had to take it in at the waist. I had a lot of fabric pooling at the low back (a common occurrence with shift dresses I think), so I took in the side seams 3/4″ at the waist on both sides as kind of a quick and dirty fix. It solved the problem pretty well, although I feel like there must be a better way to do it. There’s no center back seam, so a normal swayback adjustment won’t work. Any thoughts?

That’s the only alteration I made to the pattern. The sleeve length and hem length are unchanged, and I’m 5’4″, for reference.

Mesa Dress

Mesa Dress

Mesa Dress

I used this striped bamboo rayon knit from fabric.com and I love it. After my Lady Skater and now this dress, bamboo is quickly becoming my favorite knit fabric. It’s a bit more expensive that normal rayon, but I’ve found that it holds up much better. It’s super soft and the perfect medium-weight thickness that is substantial enough not to cling to every lump and bump, but still light enough to wear for a summer dress. After some recent failures with flimsy lightweight rayon that pills if you look at it the wrong way, I think I may be a permanent bamboo convert.

Mesa Dress

Mesa Dress

Mesa Dress

One quibble I have with Seamwork/Colette is that I wish they would be a bit more economical with their PDF patterns. This pattern took 33 pages, and all the other ones I’ve printed have seemed to take about 10 too many pages as well. The main problem is that their tiles are much too small and leave a lot of wasted space on the page. The pattern piece layouts aren’t the best either. If you’re cutting one of the smaller sizes you can take a look through the PDF before you print and omit pages that only have bits of sizes you don’t need on them – I can usually save at least 5 pages that way.

The instructions are great though! And overall I’m definitely a fan both of this pattern and the magazine in general. It’s really fun opening my e-mail to find two new patterns on the first of every month!

Mesa Dress

Mesa Dress

Mesa Dress

This is the most comfortable dress ever – it seriously just feels like wearing a t-shirt. It’s the perfect easy outfit for hot and humid days. I’ll be wearing this dress a lot this summer, and I’ll definitely be making a couple more as well! With tights and boots, I think this pattern will also transition really well into fall.

Are you a Seamwork subscriber? A shift dress fan? Do you know where I can buy all the bamboo? Let me know!

<3 Lindsay

Silk Belladone

Silk Belladone

Back to the beginning! Deer & Doe’s Belladone Dress was the first indie pattern I ever picked up, and I used it to make my wedding dress back in 2013. Ever since, it’s been in the back of my mind to use the pattern again to make a simpler daytime dress. So that was the idea when I pulled the pattern back out, but somehow it morphed into something a bit more silky and fancy than originally planned!

The thing was, I needed a dress for a wedding rehearsal dinner I was attending… aaaand I had this beautiful silk twill in my stash from my recent trip to Paris. Then I had the idea to add some contrast flat piping at the waistband and back cut-out, and this dress’s fate was sealed. I’ll get to you one day, casual Belladone!

Silk Belladone

Silk Belladone

Silk Belladone

I made the flat piping and bias binding from a bit of royal blue poly satin. Originally I had the bias binding showing around the neckline and armholes, but it looked kind of off. Too sporty or something. So I flipped it to the inside instead and tried stitching it down by machine. That didn’t look good either, so I unpicked it and stitched it down by hand instead. It took forever, but it definitely looks better this way, even if there is still a bit of puckering. This silk fabric is pretty unforgiving.

I made the same size as my last Belladone, 34 graded to 36 at the waist. I omitted the hem facing, and just did a small double turned hem instead. The only other change I made was to the upper back bodice. My last Belladone tended to gape a bit so I made the easy alteration detailed by Lauren here. Basically you just slash up the middle of the pattern piece and overlap by however much you need to take out – I did 1/4″.

Silk Belladone

Silk Belladone

Silk Belladone

This was my first experience sewing with 100% silk fabric. I was expecting it to be shifty and difficult, but it really wasn’t too bad. It’s actually a bit easier than sewing with rayon bemberg, which I’ve done quite a few times for linings. This is dangerous knowledge though, because now I’m going to want to make everything out of silk! It’s so lovely and floaty to wear. I at least need to make a few silk camisoles to help keep me cool in the summer humidity. Any pattern recommendations?

Silk Belladone

Silk Belladone

Silk Belladone

Silk Belladone

I’ve been on a bit of a dress-making kick – four in May and already two in June! It’s a fun change from the basics and separates I’ve been making a lot of lately. I do need some shorts pretty desperately though, so that’s next on my list!

<3 Lindsay

Bonnell Dress

Bonnell Dress

Recently I had the opportunity to test Dixie DIY‘s new pattern – the Bonnell Dress. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Dixie a couple of times at Austin sewing meet-ups, and when I saw she was releasing this dress as a pattern I was super excited!

I love the silhouette of this dress. The cut-outs are not only fun, but combined with the waistband they really help create the illusion of a small waist and hourglass shape. The bodice and waistband are lined, so the cut-outs have a clean finish, and the dress looks great inside and out.

Description of the Bonnell dress from Dixie’s website:

The perfect summer dress! Sleeveless dress has bodice darts, jewel neckline in front and V-neck in back, waistband, gathered skirt with side seam pockets, triangle cutouts at bodice side seams, and a center back invisible zip.

And, guys: I love this dress. Seriously. It’s one of my favorite things I’ve ever made. Lately a lot of my sewing has felt more like a chore than a hobby. I’ve been making some boring house things like curtains and pillows, as well as fulfilling some sewing requests from family members. And even the stuff I’ve been making for me isn’t exactly fun to sew. Like my last pair of jeans turned out great, and I’m really glad I made them, but the sewing itself wasn’t that fun. So this dress was exactly what I needed for a breath of fresh air. Sewing semi-fitted cotton garments is definitely my favorite type of sewing. Button-up shirts? Yes. Love them. And making this dress definitely had a similar feel.

Bonnell Dress

Bonnell Dress

Bonnell Dress

I never used to wear dresses much, but I’ve been making more of an effort lately. And while I have a few casual jersey dresses, I didn’t have a single casual woven dress. Once I knew I’d be making this pattern, I took some time to really think about what type of fabric to use to make this dress as versatile as possible. Chambray is one of my favorite fabrics, both to wear and to sew with, so I finally decided on this lightweight Kaufman railroad chambray. I thought a print would be too busy, but a solid would be too boring, so I compromised with this striped fabric. Neutral, but still interesting.

Bonnell Dress

Bonnell Dress

Bonnell Dress

Before sewing, I did my standard 1/2″ SBA to the bodice. I made a size 0 for the bust and hips, graded to a size 2 at the waist, and the fit was perfect.  My hem is 3/8″ longer than called for because I only turned it up once instead of twice. I’m 5’4″ and think it’s a good length, so if you’re taller you may want to lengthen the skirt a bit. I also machine-stitched the waistband down rather than doing it by hand.

The original neckline was a bit too high for me, but I’m someone who doesn’t like to have clothes touching my neck. After trying the bodice on I decided to lower the neckline by 1″ at center front, grading back to the original line at the shoulder seams. This is an easy change to make during construction, so if in doubt I’d just cut the piece out as normal and lower it later if you feel like you need to. Of course you could always do a muslin first if you’re not as lazy of a seamstress as I am!

Bonnell Dress

Bonnell Dress

Bonnell Dress

Nothing major changed with the pattern after I tested it. I made a few suggestions about small issues, and they were all incorporated into the final pattern. The instructions are very clear and easy to follow, and there’s a tips section in the beginning with extra info if you need it.

Also, the printed pattern is just 16 pages, which I really appreciate!

Bonnell Dress

Bonnell Dress

I’ve already worn this dress a handful of times, and I know it’s going to get a ton of wear this summer. It fits both my style and my lifestyle perfectly, and I’m so, so happy with it! I could tell almost from the instant I started sewing that it was going to be one of my favorite dresses, and I’m glad it turned out exactly as I envisioned it!

After I finished this dress I had some good sew-jo going, and I made another dress and a kimono to wear to a wedding and a rehearsal dinner this past weekend. If it ever stops raining I hope to have them photographed and blogged soon!

Are you doing any summer sewing?

<3 Lindsay

I received a free copy of the final pattern in exchange for testing. All opinions are my own.

Delphi Maxi Dress

Delphi Maxi Dress

Last month, Art Gallery Fabrics contacted me to see if I’d be interested in reviewing some fabric from their new knit solids line. Free fabric? Of course I was interested! I know AGF makes some stunning printed quilting cottons, so I was curious to see what their knits were like.

I chose the vibrant and summery Sahara Sun color to make a project with. And the first pattern that came to my mind when confronted with a length of solid knit jersey was one of Named’s new patterns, the Delphi Layered Maxi Dress. Obviously I have a bit of a thing for Named. What with my recent makes of two pairs of Jamie Jeans, an Augusta Hoodie, a Kaisla Blazer that’s almost finished, and an Asaka Kimono cut out and ready to sew, I think it’s safe to say I’m a fan of their designs!

Delphi Maxi Dress

Delphi Maxi Dress

Delphi Maxi Dress

A maxi dress is a new silhouette for me, but it turns out it’s one I really like! Growing up I always had the notion that maxi skirts and dresses were a look that only tall people could pull off. But since I started reading sewing blogs I’ve seen ladies of all shapes and sizes looking great in maxis.
I also wasn’t sure how the layered section of this pattern would look, so I’m really pleased that the silhouette ended up being so flattering. I think the proportions of this dress are great!

The pattern was straight-forward and fairly quick to sew, with good instructions. You do want to be careful with the sizing on this one though. My measurements are exactly that of Named’s size 2, and that’s my usual size in their patterns. However, Priscilla’s Delphi review recommended sizing down and mentioned underarm/back gaping issues. Since this is a knit I figured I’d be safe sizing down, so I cut out the 0 instead. I ended up with the same gaping issue though. The way the dress is constructed it’s hard to tell until the very end how the bodice is going to fit. If I’d made a muslin I would have taken a good 1/2″ or so out of the bodice side seams, which I think would fix the issue. But honestly the gaping doesn’t bother me much, so I’m not going to go to the trouble of unpicking.

The only change I made was to shorten the skirt by two inches to match my 5’4″ stature.

Delphi Maxi Dress

Delphi Maxi Dress

Delphi Maxi Dress

The fabric was really lovely to sew with – both my sewing machine and my serger sewed it perfectly without any tension issues. It’s a nice, soft medium-weight cotton knit with a good drape. Thick enough to use for skirts, but still light enough for t-shirts. I love how vibrant the color is, and it feels great to wear!

The pattern called for 3.5 yards in my size, but I actually only ended up using about 2.5. Your mileage may vary, but just know that you can probably get away with less than it says!

Delphi Maxi Dress

Delphi Maxi Dress

Delphi Maxi Dress

Are you planning on sewing any maxi dresses this summer? Now that I’ve dipped my toe in the water I’m excited to explore this silhouette some more! So many new wardrobe possibilities…

<3 Lindsay

The fabric for this post was provided by Art Gallery Fabrics. All content and opinions remain my own.

Learning to Knit

knitting1

One of the side effects of finally signing up for Instagram last Me-Made-May was discovering that many of my sewing friends are also excellent knitters. And, being a crafty person, I of course wanted to understand how all these gorgeous projects were being made. I had zero experience with knitting, so I bought the Knit Lab Craftsy class. And then I waited for the heat of summer to subside enough that just the thought of wool wouldn’t cause me to break out in a sweat.

During a couple rainy days in September I watched the first lesson and tried it out. It didn’t look good. My yarn was a mess, the temps went back up to the ’90s, and I put it aside.

Then there was the holidays, a new job, and lots of winter sewing to keep me busy, so it wasn’t until February that I picked up my knitting again. This time I was determined, and after three days something finally clicked and the whole knit/purl thing finally made sense! First up I made the Seed Stitch Cambridge scarf that came with my Craftsy class. It took me about a month to finish, but it was really gratifying to see the scarf taking shape and to feel myself getting faster and more comfortable with knitting. The repeating stitch patterns kept it interesting and forced me to practice alternating knits and purls.

knitting2

I was really happy with how it turned out, and eager to knit something else that wouldn’t take quite so long. I found the free Man Hat pattern on Ravelry and decided to try it out. Since it’s unisex I figured if it didn’t fit I could always give it to my husband!

This involved learning a new set of skills (knitting in the round, decreases, double-pointed needles, etc.), which I did with the help of youtube. The chunkier yarn knit up much faster and I was able to knit almost the whole hat on my flight to Paris last month. I really enjoyed making it, but I’m not quite sure what it was that made it more enjoyable than the scarf. Three major factors were different: bamboo needles, knitting in the round, and chunky yarn. So I’m a fan of at least one of those things… or maybe all three?

knitting3

And luckily it fit! This picture’s from when I finished it in March, as you can see by my long hair.

knitting4

I’m really glad I gave knitting a try! I don’t think I’ll ever knit nearly as much as I sew, but I do love how portable it is. And learning a new skill satisfies my crafty spirit (at least temporarily). So, fellow knitters, I’m curious – what do you knit in the summer? I’d like to keep practicing my knitting, but wooly sweaters are the last thing on my mind right now!

<3 Lindsay