Ikat Believe It’s a Mumu!

Ikat Mumuu

I’m popping in to share the results of my recent contemplation on ikat print. I dig it! I wasn’t so sure when I pulled out this UFO of Vogue 8587 —started and abandoned in 2012. Why? I think it was because I was having second thoughts about the print. Was it me? Did it scream boho chic when my style, well, doesn’t? Was it the colors? Finishing it and wearing it for a day helped me decide.

Ikat Mummu

It was a simple make in cotton voile. I UFO’d it during the hand stitching of the bodice lining, leaving that and the sleeve and skirt hems undone for the next three years. It probably would’ve stayed that way for another year had I not been desperate for a quick-finish project. Worn unbelted, it’s also a mumu. Not that I’d hold that against a dress, but until I have a trapeze act, a tent shape on my curves will always be considered carefully.

Ikat Mumu

What makes this mumu appealing to me is the self-lined dolman sleeved bodice (easy to sew), the lack of closures, and how the gathered skirt sits at the high bust. Since I choose my pattern size based on my high bust measurement, a design like this meant no fiddling with the pattern to fit my chest. Celebrate good times.

V8587Ikat MumuThe ikat is still growing on me even as I type this, but I suspect a simpler color scheme would float my boat with less contention. For now, it stays in my life. Transforming from a comfortable house dress into a fun fit and flare frock with one accessory, it’s more than a pretty mumu, it’s a dual purpose utility.

Ikat Mumu

Even though I questioned the fabric, the pattern is definitely getting a repeat performance. With pockets next time. In a solid linen or maybe even a challis for some swish factor.

Until then, my festive ikat mumu has a few parties to crash.

YARDAGE OF THE WEaK

YOW: Splatter Challis

My relationship with Fabric Mart has turned into a case of secret lovers. (Yeah, that’s what we are). My husband has no idea how many times I’ve been seduced by one of their bajillion percent off TODAY ONLY email alerts. Or, how many round, soft packages I’ve stealthily swiped from our front porch or mailbox before he stepped outside. The sew-from-my-stash deal I made with myself a couple of months ago was broken (perhaps for life) the moment I knew there was a place on this earth that would offer silk tafetta for $4.99 a yard at a moment’s notice.

A few days ago, an email from my secret lover told me that all challis was 40% off, like right now. What? Wait. But, I’m in a meeting. What if all the good stuff is gone? I was all hot and bothered and I hadn’t even seen the selection. When I finally got a break, it took all of four minutes to find the happiest all-season rayon challis I’ve ever seen. CLICK. And, sold. The missing link to the stash of solids I’ve been acquiring was found.

You can tell I how pleased I am with my purchase by this rookie attempt at draping the uncut yardage.

Paint Splatter Challis

Despite, my draped delusions of wrap bodices, I’ll probably let the print steal the show by sewing this up in a simple shift or maybe even the True Bias Southport dress (which is already printed, taped, and ready for a quick muslin). But, I’m open to distraction.

Whatever I make is going to be suitable for work or weekend. That’s what’s so awesome about this print…those splashes of black add sophistication to a print that might otherwise look like I’m fooling around with the painter. And, that’s not the kind of secret loving we need around here.

Splatter Challis CollageWhat would you make with 3 yards of this paint splatter rayon challis?

YARDAGE of the WEaK

YOW Gertie FloralCan you believe I found this cotton sateen at Joann’s of all places? Because I cannot. And I’m the one who bought it! It’s from the new fabric line, “Gertie”, designed by our favorite vintage-crazy, blogging seamstress, Gretchen Hirsch. And, I really, really dig it.

Gertie Swatch

Finding cotton sateen at Joann was a miracle all on its own, but to find a print that reminds me of this Dolce & Gabanna collection I’ve been stalking for months was downright magic.

Dolce & Gabanna Floral Collection

I think it’s brilliant to choose ONE print for so many garments. D&G’s collection has more than I featured above, but I’d be happy with just three pieces in a mini capsule wardrobe.

I didn’t get 10 yards of Gertie floral, however. Only three. Figured I’d make one dress (get a little pattern placement practice with those massive flowers – mind the girls, now) and see what happens from there. Though I can predict getting tired of the print after hours of handling it and walking away from my One-Print-Many-Garments fantasy.

Gertie Floral

What would you make with this bold cotton sateen floral?

YARDAGE of the WEaK

YOW Floral Sweater Knit

My fabric stash is filled with unsewn yards of goodness that I haven’t properly appreciated. True appreciation is a sewn garment or at least a swatch card for inventorying, but in the past couple of years, my poor neglected stash as had little of either. And it’s STILL growing!

I admit my addiction to fabric acquisition (hence the play on words in the title), but the only thing I plan to do about my weakness is blog about it. A self-intervention of sorts that will hopefully inspire me to sew up some of it — at least to make room for the new stuff I can’t quite stop myself from buying.

Fabric Stash

My fabric stash lives in the linen closet. Never mind where the linens are.

I figure a weekly post to feature some of the fabulous but forgotten fabrics I’ve acquired is just what I need to cringebust my sewing of them. Hey, and since I have an audience for this project, I’ll be gladly accepting ideas for what to make.

Let’s take a look at this week’s YARDAGE OF THE WEaK (YOW). A floral sweater knit I was surprised to find on a bolt at Joann’s. Their discounts are just ridiculous. Everything is always on sale. And, if it isn’t, there’s coupons for days. Lately, I’ve been noticing they’ve stepped up their game, too. The last few times I stopped in for a pattern sale, I got ADD in the fabric aisles. This gorgeous sweater knit was a recent distraction.

YOW - Floral Sweater Knit

I bought it thinking I’d be bold and make a sweater dress (another Moneta perhaps), but chickened out on the idea when I got worried about the minimal stretch of the knit. It’s relatively stable, so a negative ease pattern might be tough to pull off. Then again, that’s probably me being chicken. I’ve never sewn a sweater knit before and for some reason the bravery I had when I bought it has evaporated. But at the same time, I REALLY want to make something with it before spring shows up for real and sundresses start to haunt me like a Poltergeist.

Swatch Card for Floral Sweater Knit

Swatch card inventorying in the works.

The new Oslo cardigan from my subscription to Seamwork Magazine is another promising make. Or, even a simple, pull-on pencil skirt. So many options for 3 yards of loveliness.

One of the challenges of this fabric will be coordinating it with other things. It looks like a black and white floral, but the black is closer to gray, so when pairing it with something else that’s a true black, it looks a bit off or laundry-faded. I may have to treat it like it’s a dark gray and style it accordingly. Oooh…a pairing with yellow could be nice.

Floral Sweater Knit Comparison

Comparison to a black ponte and gray ponte knit.

My weakness for pretty got this sweater knit into my stash, but I’d love to get it on my body one day. What would you make with it?

Meet Moneta

I want you to meet a friend of mine.

We’ve been through a lot together recently. With all of our disagreements, I almost gave up on our relationship. Until, finally…I got her to see things my way.

Moneta and me. A friendship made in jersey.

Moneta in Denim Jersey
It only took SIX trial fittings of the bodice to sort out this pattern. I’m no stranger to multiple muslins, but fitting Colette Pattern’s Moneta dress turned out to be a crash course in knits and negative ease.

Moneta in Denim Jersey

Flat-pattern measuring doesn’t really work on garments designed for knits. So, nearly every alteration had to be verified, one by one.

Luckily, a knit bodice can be cut and basted together in about 20 minutes. They key is to have plenty of discount jersey around. Before I knew what I liked, before I could distinguish cheap from quality, before I really knew how to sew it, I bought and stashed yards and yards of knit fabric (40% off coupons will have that effect).

Moneta in Denim Jersey

All of that hoarding came in handy when discovering that Moneta basically required open heart surgery to fit me. Here are the changes I made:

  1. Removed 1/2″ of length from the chest and sleeve cap.
  2. Removed ease from sleeve cap by flattening the back and scooping out the front.
  3. Shortened sleeve by 2″ at the bicep.
  4. Reduced front neckline width with a 1″ narrow chest/shoulder alteration.
  5. Added length at the bust with a dartless FBA.
  6. Raised back bodice at waistline with a 1/2″ swayback alteration.
  7. Re-drafted the pocket so the top reached the waistline.

Whew! I’m still out of breath.

I should have raised the waist by an inch so the skirt sits a bit above my waistline (a more flattering spot on me), but I only noticed this after assembling the final dress. OK, so it’s 98% right after all those mods. Perfection is overrated. I’m wearing it.

IMG_8269

If this wasn’t my first knit dress, if I wasn’t such a knit-sewing moron, Moneta would’ve only take a muslin or two to make. Instead, I used my 5 trial bodices and 1 full dress trial to practice coverstitching. A most wonderful thing I’ve had the power to do for years (three cheers for convertible overlockers!), but only just acquired the bravery.

The wearable jersey I chose to make out of my blood, sweat, and fitted Moneta pattern is a denim-look fabric with a faux twill weave. I bought it at Joann’s a while back. I think it’s a rayon/cotton/lycra blend, medium-weight or double knit jersey (kinda like this one from Mood) that was probably meant for sewing jeggings. Since I’m not ready for negative ease fitting on my bottom half just yet, a dress is where my knitventures began.

Moneta in Denim Jersey

All of the fitting work was absolutely worth it. The bodice alone has hundreds of possibilities. I’ll probably start with Colette’s free collar variations. Then, there’s all of the different kinds of skirt options beyond the original gathered one – circle, pleated, pencil, maxi – a girl could wear nothing but Monetas. A wardrobe of dress jammies in all the colors of the rainbow.

Moneta in Denim Jersey
No longer a knit sewing newbie, I am grateful for the time I spent getting to know Moneta. Now that we understand each other, she gives the best hugs (in all the right places).

Dress of My Year

There were only two things left on my list for 2014:

  1. Make a dress out of Liberty of London fabric.
  2. Properly line a dress.

2014 is ending and I did those things. I did them so well, I am having trouble caring about anything else I made this year. Or ever.

Number 001

That anxious feeling most makers have before actualizing the thing in their head? I’m beginning to get used to that. What I was calling my “birthday dress” became a daily source of welcomed anxiety while I planned its making. So, once I dropped the idea that I needed to wear it on my December birthday and simply set out to MAKE it on my birthday, the dress in my head was free to come out.

My go-to pattern combo (made previously here, here, and here) of Simplicity 2217 (bodice) and McCall’s 6503 (skirt) has become a signature silhouette of mine. I wanted this version made with the best fabric I could afford and no shortcuts. The dress in my head would be the anchor of my wardrobe, setting the tone for all makes after it. No pressure.

Design Notes, No. 001

Since there was no fitting to contend with, I could really focus on fabric choice. And, for me, for this dress, that meant Liberty of London. At about $30 a yard, I always felt Liberty was out of my league. Like I needed to become a better sewer to earn the right to cut into it. I wouldn’t be caught cutting into the loveliest cotton in the world with half-ass sewing and fitting skills. And mine are finally where they need to be. With help from a vote on Instagram, I made my choice, and bought 3 yards of Liberty Tana Lawn in the “Wiltshire” print from Fabric.com. It exceeded my expectations when it arrived. Gorgeous in every way.

Liberty of London Tana Lawn "Wiltshire"

With all of my meticulous planning, the dress in my head couldn’t do much about the lack of available time in my life. Spending my birthday sewing was a noble idea, but a fully-lined dress (my first attempt) was more than an 8-hour work day’s worth of making. I learned this at the end of Day 1, when cutting was all I’d accomplished. This is where an amazing gift from my husband was presented.

Number 001

He’d already agreed to Daddying solo, so I could spend my first day of winter vacation sewing obsessively. I was not prepared for him to offer that arrangement for the rest of the week! He told me to think of it as “a sewing retreat at a local B&B.” No diapering, cleaning, or cooking. More like a well-balanced eat, sew, play, eat, sew, play, sleep, repeat kind of pattern. That was my life for 4 days straight. And, it was bliss.

IMG_6484

I spent my birthday week exactly where I wanted to be, doing exactly what I wanted to do, with my favorite two people only yelling distance away.

Number 001

When it was all sewn and done, it took 32 hours to make (about 8 hours a day). An interesting fact for planning another ‘no shortcuts’ dress. But, if I’m honest with myself, only 70% of that time was spent on making. The other 30% was spent:

  • Fretting over cutting into the Liberty. It was like one of those professionally decorated cakes that’s too splendidly crafted to slice.
  • Figuring out the construction sequence for attaching the lining of a mock-wrap bodice with midriff. The original dress pattern had only facings (which I left out) and no lining – so, without instructions, there was much staring and noodling.
  • Troubleshooting my machine until I realized my tension problems had to do with a bobbin holder I replaced crookedly.
  • Basking in the moment. Oohing, aaahing, and fondling the Liberty.

 

Number 001

If I make a dress under these circumstances again, I will plan for a full 32 hours of making (70%), fretting (10%), fawning (5%), and solving (15%). The spell of Liberty has worn off a bit by now though and my fear of linings is behind me, so my next version of this dress would take about 25 hours. A whole day with no sleep or responsibilities. Three, 8-hour working days. Or, in my case, one full week.
Number 001

I know it’s cliché to say, but this dress has changed my life. For real, y’all. I can’t stop looking at it or thinking about it. Just as I had hoped, it turned out to be THE dress. The one that represents my style and skills. It’s been hanging on the outside of my closet door ever since I hand stitched the lining to the zipper (a dressmaking milestone for me). Everything about it makes my soul smile.

Number 001

In 2014, I returned to sewing. Before the year ended, I made the dress of my dreams.

I Don’t Need No Stinking Swatches…Well, Maybe I Do

Spring / Summer 2012 Fabric Swatch Board

I was supposed to be cleaning my house. Instead, I organized my fabric closet into spring/summer sewables (including fabrics I’ve already sewn this year) and made a swatchboard — which has become so very useful to me already.

Mena has posted the themes for the next six weeks of challenges at The Sew Weekly (an update to the challenge schedule is coming later posted), so it was time to stop being surprised by my stash (“Oh! Look! I forgot I bought this!” or “What the f**k was I thinking when I bought THAT!”) and figure out what I had to work with.

This exercise woke me up to the fact that I need more solids (especially neutrals) in le stash and le wardrobe. My attraction to prints borders on obsessive, so I gotta remember to sneak in some solid colors. With all of the color-blocking going on these days, there’s plenty of options for me to sew up. The Pantone Spring Color Palette challenge is coming up, too, so I marinated on some inspiring looks to get me ready for fabric shopping.

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I think I may buy some silk yardage this year. I have a bit in inventory (mostly prints), but not enough to make some magic.