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Monthly Archives: June 2015

As the weather warms up I’ve felt a hankering to make some sleeveless knit dresses. I am making a slight effort to use fabric I already own, which is basically all the fabric in the world at this point, so I pulled out a couple pieces that I’d earmarked for summer dresses last year and then ran out of summer before I got to them.

The first is a length of striped bamboo knit from when I discovered that bamboo knits are my favorite fabric ever and I bought basically all the bamboo print knits in stock at like three online stores. I think this green stripe is from Hart’s (which has a fantastic bamboo knit selection – or they did until I had at it anyway). I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do with it last year, but when I unearthed it from the closet this week I thought it would make a great crossover bodice dress. I pulled out McCall’s 6073, which I’ve had for a while but hadn’t tried yet.

McCall's 6073

Believe it or not, I basically made up the pattern as-is, no hacking or mashing involved. I even made an attempt to follow the instructions regarding the neckline binding. The back neckline is a cut-in v with no center back seam for some reason, and so I thought I’d forego my usual clear elastic binding technique and give the self-binding from the instructions a try. But I could make neither heads nor tails of the instructions for the back center v (it seemed like it would work if it were an exposed binding, but not for a turned under binding?), so I gave up and did my own thing. I couldn’t figure out how deal with the back v with my folded-under elastic though, so I wound up taking a small dart in the back, stitching together the elastic at the apex of the v. I should have just added a tiny center back seam. Meh. If I make this again I’ll just do a regular high neck in back I think.

McCall's 6073 back

I do really like the front bodice, though. As I usually do with a crossover neckline, I pinched a wedge out of the neckline before cutting – only a half inch in this case. The underbust gathers are a little far to the outside for me, but otherwise it’s a pretty good fit. I really like the gathered shoulders. I am not a huge fan of only having a waistband in the front but not the back, though. I remember originally looking at the pattern and thinking I would add a back waistband when I made it, but of course I forgot about that until I had already mostly cut it out and didn’t want to bother. I also tossed aside the instructions after the neckline incident, so I didn’t realize that there’s supposed to be an elastic waist inside a casing made from the skirt/bodice seam until I’d already attached the skirts to the bodices separately and sewed the side seams in one. The front is fine, but the back waistline sags a bit, so I may go back and zigzag some clear elastic to the back waist seam and see if that helps.

McCall's 6073 2

But overall I really like this pattern. I can see how it would be indecently low on people who have cleavage, but no danger of that here! It’s a better fit for me than Simplicity 3503, which I made forever ago and is actually too low in front (which is saying something). It’s also a more straightforward fit than the Tiramisu bodice, and I prefer the narrower shoulders of this pattern. I could see myself going back to this for my future surplice bodice needs.

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My second stash dress is a frankenpattern/hack knock-off, so, back to business as usual. I grabbed a screenshot of this Anthropologie dress forever ago (long enough ago that their website still displayed different views of the items side-by-side, making it particularly easy to do an all-in-one inspiration screen grab). I even earmarked this Girl Charlee yellow striped knit for this dress last year sometime, but never got around to it.

stripe anthro knockoff

I knew I would need a generic, highish necked, sleeveless bodice from somewhere, so I dug out McCall’s 5927, which seemed to fit the bill. (I have yet to actually make this pattern up as-is, but I have used both the skirt and the bodice for various separate projects, so all in all worth the $1.99 I probably paid – apparently a long time ago, because it seems to be very, very out of print now.) I made the seamline for the sideways front yoke at around the front sleeve notch, for reference. I also wanted to incorporate the bias striped neck and armhole bindings of the inspiration, so I trimmed about a half inch off the neck and armscyes, and attached the binding with a 1/4 inch seam so I wouldn’t raise the neckline etc too much. One thing I do need to remember about this bodice pattern is that it gapes at the back neck on me. I ended up making two little half inch darts in the back neck after it was all done. The bodice also seems to be a bit long on the sides, or something – it’s bunching up funny on the sides above the waist anyway.

stripe anthro knockoff back

For the skirt I used that same traced off skirt from Simplicity 1810 (which actually isn’t even a skirt piece – it’s a one piece dress pattern that I just traced the bottom half of and now apparently I use it for all my frankenpattern skirt needs). This time I made 8 one inch pleats in the front and back to fit it to the bodice pieces.

stripe anthro knockoff 2

This was a quick and slapdash knock-off for sure, but it actually turned out pretty well. It’s kind of delightfully summery and nautical – I feel like I should be wearing it on my yacht or something, but I’ll have to settle for wearing it to work during a totally inexplicable rain storm, as I did right after I took these pictures. Hmmm, maybe if we all make more sleeveless dresses from stash fabric we can cause enough rain to end the drought! Because that seems way more likely than me actually ever sewing up all my stash.

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Well hello there.

So believe it or not, I have been sewing a little. More to the point, I have a huge backlog of finished objects that I have persisted in not blogging for anywhere from a few weeks to several months… but of course, rather than dig into the backlog I am sharing the item I finished yesterday.

I’ve been in kind of a mojo slump lately, so for inspiration I’ve been trolling the usual RTW sites for knock-offable garments. This one came from Anthropologie – I love Anthropologie because I often find things there that have a design detail that I wouldn’t have thought up on my own, but that I can see exactly how to make. This was one of those “duh!” designs – four open darts to provide waist shaping in a simple kimono shift. I liked the colorblocking on the shoulders too, but I decided to test out the dart idea on its own first.

darted kirsten dress

I knew my starting point would be – obviously – the Kirsten Kimono tee pattern. (Sick of that yet? I’m not!) I knew I wanted it to be a dress rather than a tunic, and I reasoned that I would want it to have roughly the same ease above and below the dart “waistband” as my gathered bodice Kirsten dress, so I pulled out the modified bodice pattern from that piece and the gathered skirt piece from my other Kirsten dress hack (which is originally from Simplicity 1810). Magically, the waistline of the bodice and the skirt were exactly the same, so I just laid them out on the fabric barely touching at the waist and cut around the whole thing, making one long piece for front and back.

darted dress pattern piecesI finished the neckline as I usually do with a band (but because it’s kind of boatnecky I always attach the neckband to the front and back necks separately before sewing the shoulder seams, rather than trying to stretch the band around the tight corner at the shoulder). I then sewed the shoulders and side seams and tried it on, marking my waistline at the side seams with pins. I laid the dress out flat, set my long clear ruler across at the waistline, and made marks for the pleats starting 3 inches on either side of center. My pleats are 1 1/4 inches each, because measurement-wise I wanted to remove around 10 inches in total from the waist circumference. I made each pleat about 2 1/4 inches long, and the sets are spaced about 1 1/2 inches apart.

darted kirsten dress close

I did wind up going back in and taking in the side seams an additional 1/4 inch on each side at the waist, so I could’ve made my pleats a little bigger. I also left a fair bit of ease in the waist, so the front between the pleats would stay flat and not pull. I think the inspiration tunic doesn’t have pleats on the back, but I really need waist shaping in back, so I made the same series of pleats on the back as on the front.

darted kirsten dress back

The fabric is one of the Girl Charlee cute-print-but-no-stretch jerseys. It took me a while to figure out how to use these knits, but this is the right sort of project – the pleats need structure rather than drape, and it’s a fairly stiff knit. This line of fabrics is also on the thin side, so I’ve learned to buy dark solid prints so I can use them for unlined dresses.

darted kirsten dress 2

I was pretty sure this dress wouldn’t work out, so although I cut it out a month ago it just sat around until I finally buckled down and sewed it up. It literally took me one episode of the Slate Culture Gabfest to complete, so I don’t know why I stalled starting it for so long. I was very pleasantly surprised when I tried it on after sewing the darts and it actually looked good. Nothing like a small victory to goose the mojo!

So my goal for this summer is to sort through my stash and find projects for fabrics I’ve had forever and forgotten about. So we’ll see how well I do with that. It’s finally warming up and feeling more like summer here, so I’ve got a weird hankering to make dozens of tank tops. In the meantime I’ll try to post some of the backlog items – some of them are summer things I made in the fall that I’ve stalled so long on sharing that they’re coming back into season again!