Watercolor Elisalex

Guess what?  I finally have pictures of my Elisalex dress!  I finished this frock back in April but never photographed it…what a naughty blogger I’ve been.  The timing worked out well though – it will be quite some time before I finish my Gatsby dress, so it’s nice to have something to show you in the mean-time.

Without further ado, here she is…my lovely Elisalex:

ImageI’m quite pleased with this little lady, I must say.  

You’ve no doubt noticed that this is not an Elisalex as God and By Hand London intended it to be.  “What happened to the lovely bell-shaped skirt” you ask?  Well, I’m a fashion chicken.  A clothing wallflower you might say.  Once I finished the original skirt, I felt too out of my element (and my husband’s reaction of silent confusion sealed the deal)…so I hacked it.  This is much more me – much more subtle, understated.  Call me a wuss.  Go ahead, I can take it.  But I know me, and I know that this version of the dress will actually be worn.  

ImageOk – time to gush.  I am in love with the bodice of this dress.  It is, without a doubt, the perfect bodice pattern.  The princess seams are super flattering, and there’s no need to fuss with dart placement.  The wide neckline and slightly lowered back are sexy in a subtle way.  It’s just the right amount of fitted – not too loose, not too tight – Goldilocks would feel right at home in this baby.  

I have every intention of using this bodice for several more dresses.  I definitely want to try an Elisalotte (Elisalex bodice with the Charlotte skirt) – I’ve been oohing and aahing over the ones I’ve seen so far, like Helen’s and Zoe’s – although technically Zoe used a different pencil skirt pattern, but it’s the same idea.

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The fabric is home-dec fabric from High Fashion Home here in Houston.  It is 100% Cotton, and I believe it’s called Florinda Aloe from the Dransfield and Ross collection.  I was drawn to the colors and the abstract floral print.  It’s fairly light for home-dec fabric, but turned out to be the perfect weight for this dress.

Like others have said, the instructions were a dream to work with, and the packaging was so beautiful.  The girls at By Hand London have really got something special going on.  I can’t wait to try out more of their patterns.

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I underlined my skirt with silk organza to give it more stability – which would have been necessary if I had kept the original skirt.  Even without the bell-shape, I prefer underlined skirts for the added opaqueness and the ability to have a completely invisible hem.  I slip-stitched the hem to the interfacing so no stitches are seen on the right-side of the dress.

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I also did a hand-picked zipper, as usual.  I know it’s a couture technique, but I really do it because I find it much easier than a machine-inserted zip.  Win-win!

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The zip looks a little wonky here, but it’s not, I promise. I just didn’t take the time to position it correctly for pictures. There I go being naughty again!

I haven’t worn her yet, but Elisalex will be accompanying me to a friend’s wedding in a couple of weeks.  I’m very excited to take her out on the town.  I can tell we’re going to be fast friends!

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The Making of a Sewist

Today my dear friend came over to visit and we whipped up a new skirt for her!

Tea for Two
Tea for Two

She’s going to a music festival in a couple of weeks and wanted a bright, fun skirt for the occasion.  Since I’m going through a huge tribal phase right now, we headed to Spoonflower to check out their tribal prints and found the perfect one here:

Tribal Print FabricI coached, but she did all of the sewing herself!  She did such a great job – this skirt turned out beautifully.

Sewing

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Learning the importance of pressing!
Learning the importance of pressing!

Check out these seam finishes:

Seam Finishes

Someone needs their own sewing blog, amirite?!

We ended up doing a dirndl skirt with an encased elastic waistband – sweet and simple to let the print take center stage.  Ready to see the finished product?

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I’m so proud of my friend and her mad sewing skills.  We had so much fun we decided we weren’t quite done when we finished the skirt, so we made her a matching headband too 🙂

034I love sewing dates with friends!

 

 

Happy Birthday Mom!

This weekend I visited my parents and was finally able to give my Mom her birthday gift!

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I made her a 1940’s housecoat using Advance 2170.  This was originally intended as a Christmas gift, which is why it’s such an awfully WARM housecoat.  But, both my Mom and I constantly run on the cold end of the spectrum, so I’m sure she’ll still get some use out of it before the 100 degree summer days hit.

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Mom and Dad are retired and live on several acres of land.  They love to spend their mornings drinking coffee on the porch, watching the wildlife in their backyard – they seriously have a little piece of Texas heaven.  Mom always wears a housecoat on these mornings, so I decided it would be nice to give her a fancy vintage one.  I inherited my love of the 1930’s and 1940’s from her, after all.

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This project took much longer than anticipated – mostly because I decided to hand-stitch the entire lining into place!!  But I am absolutely thrilled with how it turned out.  I seem to do my best work when sewing for others.

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Check out the pleated sleeves!  That’s my favorite detail – and Mom and Dad’s too.  Dad ooh’d and aah’d over Mom in her new housecoat a little bit 🙂  She does look elegant, does she not?

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My husband had the sweetest suggestion – I should hide a note to Mom in the robe.  It was originally going to be hidden in the lining, sort of as a secret blessing/wish for her.  But…I forgot!  In the end, we decided it would go inside the pocket, just stitched across the top so she could pull it out and read it whenever she wanted.  Mom was so touched by that little note – it made this gift even more special to her.

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She adores her robe, and I’m so happy that I got to make something for her that makes her feel special.  She IS the most incredible person I’ve ever known after all!

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The Flocking Birds Minna Blouse

I’m alive!!  I realize it’s been radio silence over at T&C lately, but there’s good reason for that: I had nothing to show you!!!  I failed at making myself sit down and sew this month.  February is always busy – it’s my birthday month!  Which means lots of celebrating…and lots of recovering from said celebrations (this part seems to get more and more difficult with each birthday…what’s up with that?!)

Anyway, I finally finished something!  Meet my new Minna Blouse from Salme Patterns:

Flocking Birds 1

First of all, I’ve got to say that I’m absolutely in LOVE with this fabric, and I’m still kicking myself for only buying one yard of it.  It is a lovely printed silk from Britex Fabrics.  I’ve decided that I want to live in bird-printed clothing.  It just makes you happy.

Flocking Birds 2
Grandma! What big ROOTS you have!

I also really like this pattern – it is the perfect work blouse.  I agree with other reviews that the instructions are minimal in the hand-holding department, but that’s just fine with me.  I pretty much learned how to sew from YouTube and sewing blogs, so refreshing my memory for a few techniques is nothing new.

Flocking Birds 3

I’ve mentioned that seam finishes are my kryptonite, and it’s quite obvious in this top.  I have no less than 4 different seam finishes in this baby!  So, forgive me for not showing you the gruesome innards…it’s for your own good.  No matter…the top looks beautiful on the outside so I’m not too upset about the seam-finishing-smorgasbord.

Back View Collage

I think I’ll be wearing my new birdie blouse quite often.  I’m still working on making more garments that I CAN wear often, instead of always making special things.

Flocking Birds 6

My next project will be Advance 2170, a 1940’s robe pattern as a birthday gift for my Mom.  I’m also going to be participating in the Elisalex Sewalong, which will be my first sewalong ever…you could say I’m freakin excited!  Who else is planning on making an Elisalex?  Rumor on the street is that there will be a Reversalex too!!

The Blue Sonja Dress

Do you ever start a project that you think will take just a few hours and will be instant gratification…and then you hit road bump after road bump and two weeks later you’re STILL not finished?  This was one of those projects…but now that I’m finally done, I’m really happy with the results!

Elie is my best model
Elie is my best model

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I’ve wanted to make a skater dress for a long time, and when I found the Sonja pattern on Burdastyle I knew it was the one.  I really liked working with this pattern, and the instructions were easy to follow.

My problems came when I tried to fit the bodice.  I spent some quality time with my muslin – took in the side seams; shortened the bodice; etc – and it finally fit perfectly.  But for some reason, when I constructed the bodice out of my fashion fabric, it was way off!  I ended up having to re-fit the bodice in the final dress.  Still, I finally got a product that I’m mostly happy with…although there are definitely a few things that I would fix if I could…but when is that not the case?

A little bunching at the back...sigh
A little bunching in the back…sigh

I tried some different seam finishes in this dress.  I couldn’t find the right seam binding in my local fabric stores, so I tried my overedge foot for the first time.  I love it!  Although, I’m not convinced that was the best finishing technique for this silk…but it worked.

Zig Zag Overedge
Zig Zag Overedge
The old fold 'n stitch
The old fold ‘n stitch

I hand-picked the zipper and the lining on the inside to keep it in place.

Hand-picked Zipper
Hand-picked Zipper

I really love this dress, and I think I’ll be making a few more.  I definitely want one in a print for a casual day dress…maybe my Spoonflower designed fabric!

Ta-Da!
Ta-Da!

In other news, my Britex Flocking Birds printed silk arrived, so I’ll have to make a decision on what it should become when it grows up – blouse? skirt?  Any suggestions?  I only have a yard so I’m pretty limited.  Apparently it’s now sold out and they will not be getting it back in stock, so I need to do something special with this precious yard of Italian finery…

What will I become?
What will I become?

The Settle Down Dress

Since I’m still working on my Blue Sonja Dress and don’t have a finished product to reveal yet (I know…what the heck?) I thought I would do a post about the garment that I am most proud of: The Settle Down Dress.

I became quite obsessed with the singer Kimbra last year, and I fell in love with the dress that she wore in her Settle Down music video:

http://letsgetthrifty.wordpress.com
http://letsgetthrifty.wordpress.com

It was fun and flirty, but that sheer panel in the front added just the right amount of sexy sass! Since I wouldn’t have any occasion to wear a dress like that myself, I decided to make it for my friend instead.  She was getting married and this seemed like the perfect dress for her to wear to her bachelorette party.  A Settle Down dress before she settled down!

 Alix Kimbra

I followed Susan Khalje’s Craftsy class – The Couture Dress – in making it.  We fitted her in a muslin to make sure it was absolutely perfect.

Since I was making this from a visual inspiration and didn’t have a pattern for the dress, I made what I like to call a hybrid pattern.  I took pieces from several patterns and merged them together to get exactly what I wanted.  I never could find a good guide for the center illusion panel, so it was a product of experimenting and lots of trial and error before I got it right.

Kimbra FrontKimbra Back My friend looked spectacular in her dress, and I loved getting to give her a custom garment for her party.

Kimbra Inspriation and MuseAlix Kacie 2 I spent a good part of last year making gifts for others, so I think this year I’m going to be a little more selfish 🙂

With Every Mistake, A Lesson Learned

The pleated leather skirt is finally finished. 
When I started this blog, I vowed to document all of my projects – my successes and my failures.  This skirt certainly falls within the second category.
 
Where to start?  Compliment before critique right?  Ok, let’s start with what I actually liked about this project.
 
I LOVE the design!  The pleats turned out beautifully and give the skirt a gorgeous shape.  And let’s not forget that I learned a new pleating technique to produce those perfectly uniform little folds.  (Checking off Sewing Goal #3 for the month!)
 
Another perk is that I’ve realized once I re-make the skirt in a better fabric, I will actually wear it!  It sounds obvious, but I often become obsessed with fashion ideas that I’m never able to incorporate into my daily life.  I assumed this would be one of those wasted efforts.  But this skirt is fun, flirty, slightly edgy – just my style!
 
So, just what makes this such an epic failure?  The fabric. 
Everything that is wrong with this skirt comes down to the fact that I used a horrible fabric.  To be fair, I knew that this material was a long shot, but I let the clearance price fool me into believing I could make it work.  (Lesson learned – no matter how inexpensive, bad fabric will always be a waste of time!!)
Once I started pleating, I realized that the material was just too thick and stiff to work.  The skirt literally stands on its own!   While the rigidity makes for cute pictures, the first time I tried to sit down, it would probably stick straight up like an old-fashioned hoop skirt.  Not exactly the look one wants to achieve in a mini!
 
Although the actual finished product was a bust, I appreciate the experience that I gained by making this skirt.  Besides the new pleating technique, I improved on my waistband construction, and I have a great new skirt design that I can’t wait to use again!