I make a lot of bags for myself, actually, but they don’t always make it to the blog. I started out sewing bags, after all, and even though I make far more clothes, I do still enjoy making bags for various needs and occasions. Frankly, I think there’s just so much great fabric out there that is not suitable for garments, so I have to use it somehow. Echino, I’m looking at you.

IMG_0331Anyway, very occasionally I make a bag that I don’t think anyone has really made before. This little front zip cross body bag was inspired by a friend’s RTW leather purse that I admired and then thought, wait, I can figure this out! I actually managed to take notes and pictures along the way, so I thought I’d throw together a tutorial for it, in case anyone else has a thing for grommets on bags like I do. And yes, finally, it’s another bag tutorial for those of you who subscribed to my blog because of my messenger bag tutorial and then thought, jeez, what’s with all the clothes?

This is not a super detailed tutorial – it’s probably best for folks who’ve made a zipper pouch or two and are familiar with the basic process of getting a zipper onto a lined bag.

So if you’re looking for a quick last-minute gift, or just need some cute fabric in your life in the form of a bag, the tutorial begins after the jump.


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I always have a really hard time with fall sewing. Mostly I think that’s because we don’t really have fall here on the coast – our hottest months are September and October, then November is all about food, not sewing, and then it’s magically winter, bam. So I end up sewing summer clothes until almost Thanksgiving, then switch straight to winter things. I make a ton of spring clothes, because our spring lasts like 6 months, then I wear those things the following fall, but I never get to make any real fall-specific things. But this year I cracked the code: I took a trip in the fall to a place that has fall! (Boulder and Denver, Colorado, to be exact.) And because of course for any trip I have to frantically make as many new garments as possible, that meant I sewed a whole fall mini-wardrobe in October. Real fall clothes, at last!

My quote-unquote inspiration for this “collection” was a great pair of brown heeled oxfords I found on Zappos (not there anymore, but here they are at 6pm) and just inexplicably loved. I don’t usually go for that vintage-y style (for myself – I love it on other people), but I thought I could pull these shoes off. I imagined them with cuffed jeans and sort of boxy tops, and started compiling a wardrobe built on warm browns and complimentary colors.

natalie top side

I started with a Liola Patterns Natalie shirt in a lovely dark maroon bird print voile that I picked up at Hart’s in Santa Cruz this summer (great store, totally worth a stop if you’re anywhere nearby, but I took the rest of the bolt of this one, sorry!) I’ve realized that I will never wear a traditional button up collared shirt (again, love them on others but they just don’t feel like me), but I quite like shirts that are kind of riffs on button-ups. I liked that this pattern is collarless and has a front detail that is sort of a deconstructed placket.

natalie top close

I sewed up the pattern pretty much exactly as drafted. I graded from a M on top to a L at the hips (wise choice, for me), and the only thing I changed was that I shaped the hem for more of a shirttail look. I initially thought that I wanted a lower front slit than the pattern suggests because 4 inches didn’t look like much on the pattern piece, so I made it 5 inches down from the top and that was somewhat indecent, so I sewed it up to the pattern suggestion after all. The neckline is more of a scoop than it looks on the flat pattern, so the modest slit turns out not so modest in the end. It took some careful stitching and a small amount of unpicking and redoing to get the front pleat to lay perfectly (I used my blind hem foot so I’d have an edgestitching guide), but it got there. I recommend a fabric like this with a not-too-different wrong side, since a sliver of wrong side might show unless your stitching is super exact (which mine never, ever is).

echino jersey sweater

I knew my mini wardrobe had to include this awesome leopard spot Echino jacquard knit that my mom got me for my birthday, and knew that it had to be a sort of boxy sweater, but I wasn’t sure what pattern to use to realize my vision. Not helping matters was the fact that this fabric is only 30 inches wide. Luckily I had 2 yards, and I used every ounce of it. Happily, my leopard placement worked out perfectly (although there are some disembodied paws on one shoulder…) The fabric is lovely, lofty but surprisingly light, not too stretchy but enough that it still feels like a sweatshirt knit. I really, really love it. Echino, make more knits, please!

echino sweater 2

I ended up using the Hey June Aurora tee pattern as my base for this boxy dolman look. I kept the neck/shoulders/sleeves the same, but I boxed up the shape by cutting basically straight down from the armpits and cropped it several inches from the bottom. I used my remaining fabric to make a hem band to complete the boxy look (the size of the band was determined by my fabric scraps, I would have preferred to make it just a smidge longer). I bound the neckline with a scrap of ivory jersey rather than with self fabric to cut down on bulk, and I just turned and hemmed the sleeves. And I have to say, it turned out exactly how I wanted it. This is probably my favorite make of the year so far!

camas and hudson 2

I also thought I should make something that would be comfortable on the airplane (particularly because my flight left at 5:40a – why, why do airlines think people should be flying that early?), so I pulled out some soft brown french terry from GirlCharlee and whipped up a pair of True Bias Hudson pants. I actually made a pair of Hudsons last winter, although I was on the fence about the style, and then ended up wearing them basically every day… when I wasn’t going to leave my house. But this year I vowed to make a pair that I would feel good about wearing in public. I’ve been seeing knit track pants in stores and catalogs, they must be a real thing, right? So I made them and wore them on the plane and around Boulder when we arrived, and of course didn’t see a single other person all day wearing track pants. At one of the biggest airports in the country! And let me say, all those people flying in jeans are doing it wrong. French terry Hudsons are definitely the way to go.

I made a size 10 in accordance with the size chart and the fit is great. They go together really fast and the topstitched gathered waistband is really easy and looks very RTW. I omitted the drawstring on this pair simply because there was no way I was finding any appropriate drawstring anywhere in a 40 mile radius (more on that later). And these are seriously the most comfortable pants I’ve ever worn in public.

camas and hudson

If I was gonna dress down on bottom, I thought I’d better dress up on top, so I decided to make another Thread Theory Camas blouse to go with the Hudsons. I picked up this lightweight slubby jersey in the swap pile at the LA Sewists meetup last summer, and I paired it with some light brown cotton lycra jersey scraps I had leftover from some long-ago gift (a draped cardigan for a friend, I think?) I didn’t double the yokes because my yoke fabric was already so much heavier weight than my main fabric, and also I didn’t have enough anyway. I also didn’t attach the button bands as instructed – the instructions seem like they’re for a woven or more stable fabric, and this was so light and drapey I wanted as easy as possible. I interfaced the band facing, sewed the band and facing together along the neck edge, turned and topstitched, then just serged the finished band onto the blouse. There are some drag lines along the front, but that’s just ’cause the fabric is so drapey in the body and the interfaced bands don’t drape as much. Because of the drape, this version feels much lower-cut than my previous version, but I’m generally okay with super-low necklines (lack of cleavage to the rescue!).

Surprisingly, it turned out that the hardest thing about this top was finding buttons. Ridiculous, right? I just needed 5 matching off-white translucent buttons. But there is literally no place to buy buttons in my city. My city of around 200,000 people, a major tourist destination, is home to exactly one garment fabric store (which is super expensive and not my taste and closed for remodeling anyway) and one chain craft store (Michael’s, which carries black and white buttons and of course the sort of multicolored plastic buttons you glue onto cards but would never sew onto garments). The woman at the antique store I thought might have some vintage buttons (they didn’t) actually suggested I go buy a shirt at the thrift store and cut the buttons off of it. Seriously. I was leaving on a trip in two days and didn’t want to waste the time driving 50 minutes to the nearest JoAnn, or 35 minutes to the nearest regular-ol’-local-fabric-store, so I resorted to pillaging 5 almost-matching buttons from the random-notions box in my theatre’s wardrobe office. This is what happens when I want to make something spur-of-the-moment. Anyway, sorry, rant over.

stripe top and boyfriend jeans

Now, before you go thinking that my whole vacation wardrobe came out perfectly (barring button frustrations), I did have one dud and a near-dud. High on the perfection of my first three tops, I got cocky and decided to make something awesome with a brown and white striped rayon knit from the stash (probably picked up at the Loft last year). I didn’t know what, though, so I googled “striped knit top” and found the image of a dolman sleeved top with a diagonal seam across the front with offset stripes and thought, I can totally hack that. I went back to the Aurora pattern, tracing the front piece in full and then cutting it diagonally and adding seam allowances along that edge. Then I cut the front pieces singly, offsetting the stripes. I even copied the longer curved back hem of the inspiration. It came out exactly as planned. And the result? Meh. I don’t know why I don’t like this top, I just don’t. It feels frumpy and casual in a not-cool way. Maybe I shouldn’t have topstitched the neck in white? Maybe it needed a less drapey fabric? Anyway, not a fan.

boyfriend jeans side

Especially not paired with my near-miss, a pair of attempted boyfriend jeans. I had this light denim from… somewhere (I absolutely cannot remember when or where I got this fabric) and got it in my head that it would be right for a more relaxed cut boyfriend style. I used my trusty Thurlow jean hack, but I cut the legs wider starting just above the knee. I erred much too wide, though, and had to spend like an hour trying the jeans on, taking various leg seams in (including ones I’d already topstitched, d’oh!) before I got an even almost acceptable leg silhouette. They do definitely read casual, but again, maybe not in the cool way. I have to be very careful pairing these jeans with tops – too slouchy and casual and they just look unflattering. They’re not bad with a dressier top, but of course I only photographed them with the fail-shirt, so you’ll have to take my word for it.

But all in all, a pretty good fall wardrobe accomplished in just two weeks. That’s more fall things than I think I’ve ever made in the actual fall. And of course, because one thing made equals 5 new fabrics bought, I have to share my goodies from Colorado!

co fabric haul

The patterned cottons on the bottom are from Boulder, where we found a lovely shop called Fabricate just down the street from our hotel with a beautifully curated selections of cottons (seriously, this shop owner and I are fabric soul mates – there were so many geometric mustard prints!). Not too many garment fabrics here, but I did score some not-yet-released Echino fabrics that the proprietor had just brought back from quilt market. Look at those shiny wolves! Echino is my absolute favorite fabric for making bags, and those wolves are going to make a fabulous evening clutch.

Then in Denver we visited the amazing Fancy Tiger Crafts. Why, why can’t there be a shop like this in my town? (Oh, probably because we apparently can’t even support a store that might sell plain buttons.) I could spend hours and hours in that place. As it was, I came away with some lovely shirting, a beautiful wool, and a printed pattern to go with both! I was so glad to see the Cascade Duffle Coat pattern in print, because I have been wanting to make it but in no way wanted to print and assemble that pdf. I also couldn’t resist the hand painted ombre yarn, even though I would characterize my knitting as “amateur” and “sporadic” at best. (I do go through knitting phases, though, and I will say that this yarn has already become an ombre cowl scarf…) And talk about service: my yarn didn’t end up in my shopping bag somehow, and I didn’t realize it until we had already cycled back to our downtown hotel from the (very, very cool) neighborhood where Fancy Tiger is located, but when I called the shop, one of the employees offered to drive downtown to bring me my yarn. Amazing! Seriously, if you’re ever in Denver, do not miss Fancy Tiger.

And now, on to winter sewing! It’s finally taken a turn toward cold here, and I’m imagining cozy sweatshirts and merino everything. And maybe more Hudsons. And hopefully a duffle coat before Christmas… we shall see.

So I guess summer’s finally over? It’s been hard to tell, since September and October are always the hottest months of the year here, and this year our 90-to-100-degree heat wave was accompanied by 90% humidity and lasted for about 6 weeks. I have never been so sticky in my life. Anyway, we seem to have finally reverted to what passes for “fall” around here (daytime temps in the low 80s cooling to high 50s at night), so I thought I should share my favorite make of the summer now that I won’t be wearing it again until next year.

I was intrigued by the True Bias Southport Dress from the time it was announced, but I did a lot of hemming and hawing before I actually bought the pattern. I liked the silhouette and style, but wasn’t sure if it would work for my body without a ton of modification (with a small bust but broad shoulders and low armpits, woven tanks do not usually work out for me). But coming up to my trip to Seattle in July, I just went for it with some Kauffman dot chambray I had purchased specifically for this purpose. And I’m so glad I did. I know everybody and their mother have already blogged this pattern (probably in this very fabric), but too bad, here’s another one.

southport dress

Because True Bias patterns are drafted for a C-cup and I am decidedly less than that, I decided to make a standard, by the book SBA of about a half inch. Okay, I realize that in a traditional SBA you shorten the unaltered half to match the shortened half under the dart, but I lengthened under the dart instead to keep the original bodice length. I wanted the blousing, and I’m not short-waisted at all. I cut a size 8 in the shoulders/bust grading out to a 10 at the waist according to my measurements. And wouldn’t you know, the bodice fits great! After many wearings, I have realized that my preference would be to have the bottom of the armholes a bit lower, but that’s easily adjusted for next time.

southport sba

I graded out to a size 12 in the skirt, because while I am not gifted up top, I have an overabundance in the behind, and the skirt as designed looked pretty slim through the hips. And indeed it is – in this non-stretch fabric the ease is just barely enough. I have to hike it up pretty high to ride my bike in it… but that hasn’t stopped me.

southport back

As much as I love this dress and this design, can I just put it out there that I hate bias bindings with a fiery passion. I just can’t make them sit flat. Yes, I understitched, but it was not enough. I think I’m so used to knit bindings that I stretch my bias just on instinct when I sew and that’s what’s messing it up? Should you not stretch woven bias bindings at all? Curves in all patterns have always been my nemesis (…nemesises? nemeses!), and bias binding curves just exacerbates the problem. I also chose to use some green print cotton bias I made a ton of forever ago (a fat quarter makes a lot of continuous bias tape), so it’s more noticeable peeking out than if I’d used self bias binding. Let’s just call it a design choice. I also apparently didn’t pre-shrink my homemade bias tape, so after the first wash the straps gathered themselves a bit.

southport dress pockets

I made no other modifications to the pattern (I actually like that the drawstring casing at the waist is on the outside, I think it’s a fun design element for a casual dress), although I will confess to not bothering to make functional buttonholes – so unnecessary with the wide neckline, and I am very lazy. I just sewed a short, dense zigzag through the plackets at each button location and then sewed the buttons on top of that stitching. I like to do that because it’s more security than only sewing the buttons on through both layers, but it maintains the illusion of a button fastening more than stitching down the whole placket along the topstitching line.

And that’s pretty much it. I just really, really like this dress, and I wore it at least once a week all summer. I fully intended to make another version, but my summer sewing was not as prolific as I’d hoped it would be and it never happened. I’m currently thinking about how I might add sleeves to this sucker, though…

I may have a problem. I’ve become rather obsessed with the Tessuti Ruby pattern. Now, I’m not usually one of those people who make the same pattern over and over again. I mean, I have some wardrobe staples, like the Thurlow and my beloved cowl neck S1716, but those are just basics that I find useful but not interesting. And I’ve made a million Kirstens, but they’ve all been hacked or modified differently. This is the first time I’ve been just really obsessed with a pattern as it is. When I look in my closet all I want are Rubys. I have three and yet all I want to make is more Rubys. It’s kind of weirding me out.

My interest was first piqued by Ms. McCall’s version, which I later had the opportunity to try on in person so I knew what size to make (a straight 10, by the way, the bust measurement is the only thing that matters). My first Ruby was made from a Cotton+Steel rayon that is one of my favorite fabrics ever. It’s so light and flowy but drapey and just fun to wear.

rayon ruby

After this I immediately wanted another one. I wanted to try it in a knit, so I pulled a random piece of coral mystery knit from my stash – it’s fairly heavy and drapey with a smooth hand, maybe it’s a cotton rayon mix? Anyway, the knit totally worked too, and this version is the perfect dress-up-or-down day-to-evening top.

knit ruby

Then I knew I had to try the dress version. I bought this length of beautiful mod print silk jersey forever ago at Michael Levine, but I didn’t realize at the time that the fabric was only 45″ wide, so I’ve spent the last like four years trying to fit various dress patterns onto it and failing. But apparently it was just waiting for the Ruby, because I had literally exactly enough fabric to fit the dress version (just a half inch shorter than drafted) and the bias strips, and had only little scraps remaining. Perfect!

ruby dress

So, let me talk about the neckline and armhole finishes (because, honestly, that’s by far most of the sewing on this project). The pattern calls for cutting three 2-inch wide self bias strips that are 27 inches long. I cut excess off all my strips, and in fact, on the silk jersey dress version, my bias strips were only about 22-23 inches long due to fabric shortage and that was still long enough (barely). The instructions have you fold the strips lengthwise, sew the strips to the right side of the neck/arm edge, then fold the strips around the seam allowances and stitch in the ditch to secure. This is what I did on the first version, and because the rayon pressed so well, it worked out perfectly. On the knit version I still cut two inch wide strips, on the cross grain not the bias because knit, but once I sewed them to the edges I just left them. I topstitched to secure the seam allowances down, t-shirt style. As a knit finish this works well, but if I do it again I’d make the strips a little narrower because the wider strip on the neck is a little wavy on the folded edge. For the silk jersey I did cut bias strips because it wasn’t that stretchy, and I used the fold-over technique. I accidentally took too wide a seam allowance on the neck, though, and didn’t have enough width left to fold over and catch in the ditch, so I hand stitched the neckline binding on the inside. The armholes I did leave enough to fold over and stitch in the ditch.

ruby dress binding

The pattern includes pieces shaped like neck/armhole facings that you’re supposed to cut out of something called Vilene, which I’ve gathered from Burda is a European interfacing of some kind that we can’t get in the US, and sew it onto the arm and neckline edges before sewing on the binding. As far as I can tell, this serves two purposes: to prevent the curved edges from stretching out as you sew, and to make the raw edges a bit stiffer to make folding the binding around them easier. Lacking Vilene, and also because I really wanted to keep this a three-piece pattern, I didn’t use the interfacing pattern pieces at all. On the rayon version I staystitched the curved edges to prevent stretching, and I didn’t have a problem folding over the binding because the fabric pressed so well. The knit top was not reinforced at all, and it’s pretty much fine with just the binding. The armholes do grow a bit throughout the day, but not enough to be a problem. On the silk jersey version, I actually zigzagged 1/4 inch clear elastic onto the seam allowances of the armholes to help support the weight of the dress and to give a hard edge to fold the binding around, and that worked great.

rayon ruby back

On all of the versions I did interface the back cutout facing as instructed, but I just serged the edge of the facing rather than folding it under. I also topstitched around the slit on all the versions to keep it secure. I should have sewn a little further from the cut line on the first version, though, because after the first wash a little section of the seam came apart and is fraying. I coated it in fray-check and we’ll see how it wears. The rayon version has a functional button and thread loop, but the two knit versions fit over my head without undoing the button, so I just sewed the top edges together on those and added a decorative button.

knit ruby back

So, yeah, I really love this pattern. It’s pretty much the perfect summer pattern, and I love that it works in a woven and a knit just as well. I may well try to make a fourth version before the end of summer here (which, since our coastal weather means summer just started about three weeks ago and temps will be in the 80s for at least another month, is not such a stretch). I do think the top pattern is a little more versatile than the dress – I love the swingy mod mini dress, but I probably only need one. But I think the top can be very distinct depending on the fabric choice, and I feel like I can safely have several in my wardrobe. What more can I say? Make a Ruby!

ruby dress swing

I kind of love making dresses to wear to weddings. I like considering the taste and style of the people getting married and trying to create something that is like a merging of my style and theirs… Is that totally crazy? Does it make me a weird wedding stalker? Well, I might be okay with that. I love weddings. I especially love weddings that are a true reflection of the couple being married (and sadly, so many aren’t – the marriage industrial complex is homogenizing weddings everywhere…), so I felt so glad to be included at the wedding of two great friends and just generally awesome and stylish people in Northern California (by which I mean the actual northern part of California, not the Bay Area, which technically speaking is in the middle of the state – just sayin’) a couple weeks ago, which was so beautiful and just so very them.

Only thing, I almost didn’t have anything right to wear. I’d been thinking about making a dress for this wedding all year – I bought fabric in New York for it, then when I wasn’t sure about that, I bought different fabric online in May for something else, but I still wasn’t feeling it. Then, about a week before I left for the wedding, Ms. McCall randomly passed on some stash navy lace that as soon as I saw it I knew was the right fabric for this wedding. It has a great vaguely 70s crochet vibe that I wanted to highlight by backing it in a contrast color. I laid it over practically all the solids in my stash, and it became clear that mustard/gold would be just the right color, but the only solid mustard fabric I had was a cotton-lycra jersey, which isn’t exactly the most luxe formal dress fabric… but because I had less than a week and my “local fabric stores” (you know, the two stores we have within 40 miles) didn’t have any even almost yellow broadcloth or poplin, the jersey it was. And actually, it turned out to be kind of perfect. I mean, a stealth pajama dress is perfect for a wedding with a whole table of different desserts!

Vogue 8469Once I had my fabric settled, I hunted for a perfect pattern. I wanted a simple shape, sleeveless with a waistband and a full skirt, no crazy design lines to suck up my time or distract from the lace. I kept coming back to Vogue 8469, a pattern I’ve had forever but had never used due to some less than favorable reviews. It had everything I wanted, though, so I went for it. According to the measurements it has significantly less ease than the usual Big 5 offerings, so I cut the top size in my envelope, 12, for the bodice and fudge-graded out in the waistband to around a 14 or more. I was going on the premise that my lace wasn’t stretch, but actually it turned out to have a lot of give and stretched with the jersey, so in the end I took in the side seams by at least as much as I added, if not more.

Vogue 8469 2

I decided to treat the lace and the jersey as one throughout, both as a time saver and to hide the lace seams. It was almost stupidly easy with the jersey underlining – for the neckline and armholes I literally just folded under the edges together and coverstitched – the stitching lines are nicely disguised by the lace pattern. I omitted the zipper, obviously, and sewed up the side seams last for fitting. I did add pockets (pockets are very useful at a wedding, actually), which meant I had to treat the skirt as one also and not hem the lace and jersey separately. Again I just turned and coverstitched, and hemming as one gave the skirt a lot more body than if the fabrics had been separate, which I think I like. The pockets peek out a little because they’re solid jersey, but worth it – pockets.

Vogue 8469 back

Had I muslined the pattern first (ha! like I would do that), I would have made the neckline a little lower and narrower, and shortened either the back bodice or back waistband, since the back waist droops lower than the front. I also should have added belt carriers on the side, as I was pulling my belt down all day (but I actually had a perfectly matched belt in my drawer, remarkably). I omitted the giant ties – it just wasn’t the style I was going for.

It’s always nice when a super last-minute item turns out better than you could have planned it. I was sure until the final stitch that this dress would turn out to be unwearable, but when it was finished I absolutely loved it and couldn’t have imagined wearing anything else to the wedding.

Apparently I’m working backwards through my backlog of completed projects, so here is the second-most recent big thing I made and didn’t blog at the time – a dress to wear to a wedding in May. I bought this beautiful Italian polyester when I was in New York and I knew then that it would have to become my dress for this wedding. This is seriously the nicest poly I’ve ever touched. It’s soft and flowy like silk, but doesn’t feel delicate. It’s also amazingly stable, unlike basically any poly woven I’ve ever touched. It’s fairly opaque, and I thought I might be able to get away with not lining it, but just to be safe I bought a generic ivory poly chiffon at the Michael Levine Loft (where fabric is sold by the pound, so chiffon costs basically nothing) to line it, which of course is not as nice against the skin as the Italian fabric. Ah well.

The only problem was that this fabric took a long time to tell me what kind of dress to make out of it. Some fabric is totally unambivalent about what pattern I should make it into, but this one wouldn’t decide. (Or maybe I couldn’t decide, who knows.) I thought about doing some kind of deep v-neck crossover bodice, or a traditional halter v-neck with a back tie, but finally the fabric suggested a gathered neck halter (one of my favorite styles) and I knew that was right. But then I waffled between Vogue 8380 and Simplicity 2281 for a while. In the end I decided on the Simplicity, sans wing sleeve things, because I reasoned that the fixed neck binding would be dressier than the casing/tie neckline of the Vogue. I think it was the right call.

Simplicity 2281 halter

I had made this pattern up before, but with long sleeves and in a knit, so not much fitting guidance there. I wound up making one size bigger than my knit version in the bodice and two sizes bigger in the waistband, which worked out pretty well. When I installed the side zipper I fine tuned the fit by varying the seam allowance along the zip- I had a little extra room at the top of the waistband and barely enough at the bottom/waist seam, but overall pretty close. I did try to cheat and not cut the neckband on the bias (although I don’t remember the pattern actually calling for a bias band, it must have, right?), but I should have used bias because the straight grain neckband pulls funny and doesn’t look like it wants to wrap around my neck.

S2281 close

Based on the fit of my knit version, I shortened the waistband by about a half inch to make it less gigantically tall, and I flared out the skirt because I thought a fuller skirt would suit the fabric more than the slight tulip shape of the pattern. I had a hard time deciding on a length for the skirt – it was a garden wedding, so I wore these flat sandals, but I didn’t want to shorten it so much that it wouldn’t make sense with heels for future uses. I will say that I think the length I wound up with does look better with heels than flats, but the only matching heels I have would have gotten stuck in the grass, so I went with the flats for the wedding anyway.

Also, I love my machine but it does not like making blind hems. I can’t figure out why, but the one thing my cheapo old Sears Singer did better than my fancy Bernina is blind hem. This hem looks like crap, and I pressed it for, like, hours.

S2281 back

This dress came together easily, because the fabric really behaved itself the whole time. I gotta find some more Italian polyesters, I guess! On the plus side, this fabric was a bolt-end and they made me buy the remaining 3 yards (at a discount, thankfully, I think I paid $30 for 3 yards), so I still have plenty of fabric for a top or something. Which is good, because I love this pixel print more every time I look at it.

I just returned from a vacation in Seattle, and before I left I actually sewed a buttload of new summer things to bring on the trip, but none of them managed to get photographed while I was there, of course. Sorry, no new photo backgrounds for you, but hopefully some summer clothes at some point. I also made a purse based on a friend’s RTW bag that I have coveted every time I’ve seen it, so tutorial coming… eventually!

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.

•     •     •

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.