Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Simplicity 1014: Drapey Tunic, Drapey Cowl

About a year ago, while browsing fashions at a local boutique, I spotted a basic black tunic with a cowl and sleeve bands in a contrasting fabric.  I was intrigued enough to try it on. While the price ($59) was not unreasonable, it was more than I wanted to spend. Especially when I realized how simple the construction was.

Oh darn, that meant I had to go fabric shopping...

Off I went to my favorite fabric stores. I purchased black ITY knit from Hancock Fabrics and a mesh print from SR Harris Fabrics and promptly set about recreating the tunic.

Just kidding.

Life got in the way, as it frequently does, and the fabric sat for a few months.  Lucky for me because during that time Simplicity came out with a tunic with a large cowl and contrast sleeve bands eerily similar to the tunic I wanted to recreate. Whoop! I  didn't even have to think about what pattern to use.
I sewed the tunic the end of summer 2015.  I photographed it the end of December 2015.  I'm blogging about it mid-January 2016. 

Like I said. Life got in the way. 

The pattern, Simplicity 1014,  features a large cowl that can be worn four ways.  In theory anyway.
If you're curious, here is the link to Simplicity's YouTube video showing the four ways.  

There is no way I could wear this cowl on my head. Unless I held my neck at a certain angle. And didn't move any facial muscles. And stood frozen like a statue.

But it kinda made for a cute photo when I tried.
I didn't add the neckline tie as I likely won't wear the cowl all the way down exposing my shoulders. This is as close as I got while we were taking photos. I may be smiling but it was cold out that day and I wasn't exposing any more skin than necessary!
The pattern review:
First of all, it was a quick sew. Which seems to be my sewing theme this past year.

I didn't make any alterations to the pattern, just cut it out and stitched it together. I cut and sewed my usual size and found the tunic has quite a bit of ease.
The sleeves are sewn in the round since the sleeve band is added to the lower edge of the sleeve after the sleeve seams are sewn.

The cowl is the last piece added. You're instructed to pin the cowl to the neck edge of the right side of the tunic and stitch twice. First in a 5/8" seam, and again 1/4" away from the first stitching. I was afraid that seam might show (it doesn't) so I stitched the cowl to the tunic using a French seam.

The pattern sheet includes instruction for a lettuce edge hem as an option.

All in all I like the tunic. This one turned out as I envisioned and I'll likely sew another. Pin It

Monday, January 18, 2016

Jungle January: Simplicity 8055 Dress

There is no blending into the background with this animal print dress!  

I know it doesn't appear to have much shape, but it's more flattering on me than it is on the dress form.  You'll have to trust me on that statement as it's bitterly cold at the moment and I just can't bear to change out of the double layers of fleece I'm wearing to model this dress.
I purchased this blue and black animal print fabric from SR Harris about two years ago. Since this a fabric warehouse most of the fabrics have no exact fiber content so I don't know what this is. It's a stretch woven with tiny raised ridges.  I originally planned on sewing a jacket, but changed my mind after bringing it home.  I immediately thought of the fabric when I saw the pattern envelope.  Simplicity 8055 is a very simple dress to sew. 
The dress has two-piece raglan sleeves.  I choose the longer version as I'm really liking that sleeve length lately.  I altered the pattern and added a dart (shown in this photo) as I knew the tucks at the neckline would not provide enough fullness for my bust.
When I sew this dress again I plan on rotating that side dart to the neckline tucks.  As is, the side dart gives me the fullness I need, but the neckline tucks pull open more than I'd like.

There is a small walking slit at the center back. 
The neckline is finished with a narrow bias binding. The instructions have you pin the binding in place then stitch-in-the-ditch to secure. I handstitched it in place instead. It didn't take much time and I found it easier than trying to stitch-in-the-ditch with this fabric.
I used an invisible zipper and hook and eye at the back.
I didn't realize the neckline seam allowance was only 1/4" until I was preparing to add the neck binding, which happens to be the last step (before hemming.)  Since I'm so used to placing my zippers with the expectation of a 5/8" seam, the top edge of the zipper wasn't caught in the seam.  Something to keep in mind when you sew this dress.
I found the fit of the dress to skim the body without a lot of shaping. The fabric I used is heavier than the recommended fabrics, which may have played a role in the fit. I ended up shaping the waist slightly and removing some of the ease at the hipline. 

This isn't typically a shape I would choose to wear, but I'm pleased with the finished dress. I have the coat cut out (in black) and expect to wear the dress and coat often.  Coat review coming soon.


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Thursday, January 14, 2016

DIY: A Colorblock Infinity Scarf Tutorial

When I wear my zebra/polka dot infinity scarf it never fails to draw compliments.  Once people find out I made it, often the next question is "would you make one for me?"

While I rarely sew for hire these days, I do enjoy sewing items to give to others, especially these colorblocked infinity scarfs. They are simple, yet each is unique depending on the fabrics chosen.

This year I sewed a some as Christmas gifts for a few girlfriends.
Here's how to make one of these cute and easy infinity scarfs for yourself.

For one scarf, you'll need one yard each of two coordinating fabrics at least 45" wide. Choose a lightweight fabric, such as voile, chambray, linen, rayon or even flannel. My zebra/polka dot scarf was sewn using a polyester blouse weight fabric. A lightweight knit would work also.  Heavier fabric would create a lot of bulk at the neckline. Each piece of fabric should measure 45" x 36".  If your fabric is wider, cut it to 45".

For these three scarfs, I used voile purchased locally at SR Harris Fabrics

For me, part of the fun of sewing these as gifts is choosing the fabrics for the person who will receive the scarf.  

I choose the blue plaid and animal print because plaids are trendy and animal prints are just fun. The color will bring out the gorgeous blue of my friend's eye.
This bright plaid was for a friend who loves bold colors and plaids. I liked how the subtle black and white print played off of the tiny black lines in the plaid fabric. She will look fabulous in these colors!
The yellow and teal prints are for a friend who possesses a fabulously unique fashion style - one we all envy. She will be able to work these fun prints into her wardrobe easily.

Once you've selected your fabrics, sew the two long edges together with a French seam.  You'll want to use a French seam as the seams are exposed on this scarf.  If you're not sure how to sew a French seam, there are many tutorials on the Internet, such as this one on the Craftsy website. (No affiliation, I just like Craftsy.) 
You'll now have one large continuous loop of fabric that will measure approximately 88" x 36".
The last step is to hem the edges of the scarf.  If you're using a knit fabric you could leave the edges unfinished. I finished the edges with a narrow hem using my serger. 

That's it!  Simple to sew. Fun to wear. 

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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Jungle January: A Zebra and Polka Dot Infinity Scarf

In honor of Jungle January, I sewed an infinity scarf using a coordinating zebra and polka dot print.  Except I actually sewed it for the last year's Jungle January. I posted it on my Instagram account, but never shared it on my blog.
This easy-to-sew infinity scarf came about by accident.  I had received a large scarf as a gift and wanted to recreate something similar. I went to my local Hancock Fabrics store and purchased one yard each of the zebra and polka dot prints with the intention of making two infinity scarfs. 

Um, no, I miscalculated.  What I wanted was a really large, wide (yet lightweight) infinity scarf that I could wrap around my neck not only as a fashion accessory, but for warmth in a chilly office. If I sewed the one yard of fabric together as I envisioned, it would not be large enough.

Since the two prints coordinated, I simply stitched them together along the long edges using a French seam to create the size I wanted.  At that point I all I had to do was finish the edges.  I did so with a narrow hem using my serger.
I now had an infinity scarf that measured approximately 71" x 43".  The two prints allow me to have a  slightly different look whenever I wear the scarf.
 The 71" x 43" also means there is plenty of scarf to wrap around my neck.

See this blog post for instructions on how to sew your own version of this infinity scarf! Pin It

Saturday, January 09, 2016

New Look 6423: Tiny Tunic and Leopard Print Leggings

I had the opportunity to do some sewing for the littlest ones in our family recently.  Was that ever fun!  Here is one of them wearing a tunic I sewed as part of her Christmas gift. The cuteness!
The pattern is New Look 6423, and I would link to it on the Simplicity website, but I can't locate this pattern on their site. Since it's a 2015 pattern, I suspect the pattern is still available. 
 I started out making the leggings.  I could hardly stand how cute those little animal print leggings were - and how tiny. I sewed a size 1/2.  A Size 1/2! It's like sewing doll clothes only for an itty-bitty person! 
The tunic neckline is finished with foldover elastic.  I had picked up a few packages of various colors and prints at my local Tuesday Morning store.  I had no use for it at the time, but bought it anyway.  Because you never know when you might need some, right?  
I used the purple with the pink hearts, placing the pink hearts on the inside of the top.  After I finished the front neckline with the foldover elastic I didn't like the way it looked. The elastic seemed too heavy for the knit and the neckline. 
But I forged ahead, thinking when the shoulders were overlapped the elastic would behave better.
I finished the neckline and sewed in those tiny little sleeves into those tiny little armhole openings. (Note, if you sew this tunic, I would recommend sewing the sleeve in flat, then stitching the side seam.  That little armhole opening makes it more challenging to set in the sleeve.) Ugh. It just wasn't working. That neckline would not sit properly!
Of course, I then had my "aha!" moment.  When I looked at everything a bit closer, I realized I had stitched that adorable front pocket onto the back piece, not the front. Oopsie!  So what I thought was the front of the tunic was actually the back, which is why the neckline was off.  Even after many years of sewing I still make silly mistakes.

There was no way I was going to gift this tunic with that neckline!  I didn't have enough fabric to redo the entire tunic. I also didn't want to risk the foldover elastic not working again.

I did have a little bit of fabric left. So I removed the sleeves, removed the foldover elastic (you never know, I may need it for another project!) and cut off the top portion of the tunic.
I then recut the upper portion of the tunic using a master pattern in Kwik Sew's Sewing for Baby book.  I added interfacing to the shoulder seams as I would now need to add snaps to the neck area so this would easily fit over the baby's head. I then stitched the upper bodice pieces to the lower portion of the tunic and finished the tunic.
 I had to add a knit neckband in place of the foldover elastic.

And how crazy is this? I pulled out my storage box where I store my snaps, and found these old snaps! They are from way back when I was sewing for my own little ones!  I ended up using the regular snaps with a decorative pink button on the right side of  neck band.
That pocket I mentioned earlier?  When I bought the pattern, I thought that ruffled semi-circle was just a decorative accent on the tunic.  Which it is - but the tunic also has a pocket sewn into the side seam! Completely unneeded for a four-month-old, but I added it anyway. Because I could. And it's an itty-bitty pocket. (ha!)
I hemmed the leggings and the tunic with a narrow hem on my serger stretching it slighting to give it a very small lettuce edge finish. 

This was a really fun outfit to sew. And I couldn't have asked for a better model! 

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