Patchwork Shibori Skirt

I love all of the fabric that I dye and I really hate to waste any of it, so I always save the small pieces of fabric that are left over after I cut out a garment.  When I build up enough of them, I turn them into something new!

shibori scraps

I had a bunch of pieces in various shades of blue, some of which were pretty big, so I decided to make a floor length skirt.  I used my own pattern, which I draped a few years ago.  It is a flared skirt with a wide waistband.  Originally, I designed the pattern as a wrap skirt, but for this project I didn’t have enough fabric for the overlapping layers, so I adjusted it to be a regular skirt with a side zipper.

shibori patchwork

The inside of the skirt. I pieced all of the scraps together with french seams.

I followed the same basic procedure that I did for my shibori kaftan.  I laid out all of the small scrap pieces on top of the paper skirt pattern until I got the best arrangement, then I sewed them all together into larger pieces to cut out the full front and back skirt.  Then I finished the skirt as usual.

shibori patchwork skirt

The skirt at the half-way point.

I was a little confused about how to finish the side seam with the zipper in it.  I sewed the rest of the skirt together with french seams, but combining that with an invisible zipper just didn’t seam (get it?) to work.  I looked up a few tutorials about inserting invisible zippers into french seams, but they all involved clipping into the fabric near the bottom of the zipper, and I wasn’t comfortable doing that.  The zipper is a point of stress and if the fabric started to fray there I would be quite displeased.

bias binding

So, instead I decided to sew a regular seam on the zipper side of the skirt and finish the seam allowance with homemade bias binding!  Piece of cake!

skirt waistband

I made sure to attach one of my labels, of course!

I installed the zipper, then finished off the inside of the waistband with a lining.  I basted the lining into place by hand and then machine sewed it from the right side to make sure the stitches were straight.  Then I added a hook and eye to keep the zipper closed.

invisible zipper

And Voilà!

patchwork skirt

Me and my doppelganger.

shibori patchwork skirt

And now it’s time for me to go to bed…goodnight!

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Rainbow Shibori Kaftan

My fabric buying budget has been a little low lately, but I won’t let that dampen my zeal for sewing!  Whenever I run out of new fabric I start hunting through my “archives” to see if there are any pieces that I can recycle.  I found a few test scarves that I made when I first started experimenting with shibori, and I thought they might look cool pieced together into a colorful patchwork of some kind.

shibori collage

Close-ups of the shibori scarves.

I laid out the scarves in different ways until I found a combination I liked.

rainbow shibori scarves

Too busy?

I decided to go with a long flowing kaftan with shoulder cut-outs.  I like to keep the silhouette simple when the fabric is so colorful and kaftans are basically a rectangle with holes for your arms and head.

I first stitched all of the scarves together to make two larger pieces of fabric, then cut out the front and back pieces from these.

shibori patchwork dress

The front pattern piece of the kaftan.

I sewed all of the seams with french seams.  It does take a little longer because you have to sew each seam twice, but they look so nice when they are done.  They make the inside of your garment look as good as the outside!

french seam close-up

French seams for the persnickety seamstress in us all…

And here is the (almost) finished product:

shibori kaftan

After photographing it, I thought the shoulder cut-outs needed a little adjusting.  With such a colorful voluminous garment I think there needs to be a good balance between fabric and skin, so you don’t look like Mrs. Roper…

I made the cut-outs a little bigger and finished them with blue bias binding.  The binding added definition and the hint of blue picked up the blue in the rest of the dress.

I think it tied the whole thing together!

colorful kaftan

rainbow silk dress

I can’t wait to wear this during the summer!

(And to take some better pics outside when it’s not freezing:)

Shibori Bridesmaid Dress

As I mentioned in my last post about making my sister’s wedding dress, I also made my dress for the wedding!  My sister didn’t go the traditional bridesmaid route.  Instead, she put together a color palette collage and had me and her close friends choose dresses based on that.

color palette for wedding

The dresses could be any style we wanted, as long as they matched the color palette.

I was a little mentally exhausted after finishing the wedding gown, and I knew I wasn’t going to have much time, so I decided to modify one of my existing patterns to make myself a simple silk tunic.  It was very loose fitting, with a v-neck and wide kimono sleeves.

I did a few rounds of test swatches:

hand dyed test swatches for dress

Test swatches = mad scientist time!

Until I found the right shade:

hand dyed silk swatch

This one is a winner!

I shibori dyed the silk for my dress and I did a simple folded square pattern:

blush pink shibori dyed dress

Ready to party!

I ended up really loving this dress!  I plan on wearing it again, probably over jeans, with wooden platform sandals, when it gets warmer:)

Handmade Wedding Dress

My sister got married this past September, and like all people with questionable decision making abilities and poor impulse control, I offered to make her wedding dress…

crazy screaming seamstress

WHAT WAS I THINKING?!?!?

Just kidding!!

It all worked out.

I’ve been meaning to put together a post about the process for months, but I guess I needed a little wedding detox first.

This was my most ambitious project to date, and I was a little nervous about it, but I also really wanted to challenge myself and go outside the comfort zone of what I usually make.

My sister wanted a strapless dress with a fitted bustier top and a full skirt.  She wanted the top to be lace and have built in bra cups and the skirt to be chiffon with some gathering at the waist for optimum floaty-ness and swishy-ness.

wedding dress muslin

First skirt muslin.

At first we thought the skirt of the dress should have tiers, so I draped a version like that.  My sister decided she wanted the skirt to have a sleeker look, so I draped a second one.  This time I also used poly chiffon instead of muslin to get a better idea of how the finished skirt would look.

draping second test skirt

Second skirt “muslin” (chiffon).

I draped a muslin for the top as well and had my sister try it on several times so I could adjust the fit and get the style lines just right.  She tried it on with the awesome beaded capelet she planned to wear at the wedding for the full effect.

trying on the test dress

Fitting time!

Once everything was fitting correctly I made a paper pattern from my muslin and used that to cut out all of the pattern pieces for the dress.

bodice pattern pieces

Cutting, basting, sewing…

The bodice needed to be cut out four times – lace/satin/lining/fusible.  Before sewing, I completely basted the lace pieces to the satin pieces, all around the edges.  The bodice was also fully boned and needed underwires, so once the lining was constructed I stitched in casings along all of the necessary seams.  I used flat steel boning for extra support.

cutting out the skirt

My very professional method of weighting fabric down with Roseanne and Simpsons DVD boxes.

I had to cut the skirt out on the floor because it was so flared.  To keep the silk from shifting (and also to keep it clean) I cut it between paper.  To do this, just lay one sheet of pattern paper out on your cutting surface, then lay your fabric on top of the paper, then lay another sheet of paper on top of the fabric.  Trace your pattern onto the top piece of paper and cut through all the layers as one.

wedding dress in progress

It’s coming together…

So after many weeks, some back spasms and a few crying fits…

finished wedding dress

TA DA!!!

Oh yeah, we also decided to add straps to help keep the dress up.  I realized it probably needed a LOT more boning and interfacing to help it stay up, with the weight of all that skirt fabric pulling it the other way.  But I think the straps look really nice!

Well that’s it!  The wedding was so much fun, but it felt like it was over in a flash!  I think it should have been more like a wedding weekend:)  It was awesome!!

I also made my dress, but I’ll save that for the next post!