Shibori Linen Babydoll Top

I’ve got a full glass of wine and “Murder She Wrote” playing on the TV in the background, so conditions seem just right to tell you about my latest sewing project.

Jessica Fletcher drinking wine

No, it’s not this gold lamé number.  It’s a blue linen baby doll top!

blue linen baby doll top

I think baby doll tops/dresses may be another thing that I love, but many people despise.  I just really like shapes that aren’t too form fitting, or that even take it a step further and kind of hang away from the body.  I do like to pair tops like this with something slim on the bottom, to balance out the proportions.

blue linen shibori top

I was waiting to post this one until it became a little more spring-like outside, and I don’t want to jinx us, but it feels like winter is over in my neck of the woods.

backview of blue babydoll top

I dyed the linen with my usual fiber reactive dyes, and I used a bunch of little clamps to make the small square/dot pattern.  I’ve been trying out different resists and I like how this came out a little more subtle than my usual patterns.

shibori dyed linen

Here is a shot of the full piece of fabric.

I’ve been working on some new pieces to put up for sale in my Etsy shop, and I’ll probably blog about some of them here as they are completed.  I perpetually feel like I’m not getting enough done, but I’m trying to take it one garment at a time:)

Cheers!

Jessica Fletcher drinking champagne

 

 

 

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Cropped Linden Sweatshirt and a Snowstorm

cropped linden sweatshirt

We just had a huge snowstorm here in the northeast, so I felt like posting about something warm and cozy while I’m stuck inside.

I had a little bit of organic sweatshirt fleece leftover after I cut out my Elf Cardigan, so I used it to make another Linden Sweatshirt.  There wasn’t quite enough to make my sweatshirt the full length of the pattern, so I shortened it to make a cropped version.

purple linden sweatshirt

I dyed the fabric with my usual fiber reactive dyes and I clamped the bundle with an assortment of circular blocks before putting it into the dye bath to create a random polka dot pattern.

purple linden sweatshirt

I ventured out to check out the storm on Saturday and took a few pictures:

snowstorm 2016

car covered in snow

angry abominable snowman

That’s it for now.  Stay warm!

 

Organic Linen Throw

ice dyed linen throw

I was reading the Merchant & Mills Sewing Book a few months ago and one of the sewing projects in the book was a two-sided linen throw.  As soon as I saw it I knew I had to make one!  I made mine using organic linen, which I ice dyed.

linen throw 6

It’s a pretty simple design, just two squares of fabric stitched together, but one square is cut larger than the other so that when you turn it right side out, one side wraps around to the other side of the throw and forms a contrasting border.

mitred edges of blanket

The corners are mitered and the border is top stitched to keep the edges neat.

organic linen throw

For the ice dying, I did a random crumple pattern on the pink/purple side and for the blue side I folded the fabric into triangles before dying it.

I love how these patterns turned out so much.  Both sides look like crazy abstract florals.

linen throw 1

I love to make clothes, but it’s nice to take a break with a project that doesn’t require as much mental energy.  No fitting, no curves, only two pattern pieces, pretty colors…very relaxing.

Bob_at_Easel

No mistakes, just happy accidents.

It was the Bob Ross of sewing projects.

 

Ice Dyed Lark Tee

lark tee 2

Hello!  I’m back with a backlog of garments to post!

First up is the Lark Tee from Grainline Studio.

I really like Grainline’s patterns.  They are basic in the best way.  Classic and minimalist, but not boring.  I usually dye my own fabric and I tend to stick to simpler shapes to let the fabric do the talking.

lark tee 7

lark tee 4

For this top, I ice dyed organic cotton jersey.  This was my first foray into ice dyeing and I am obsessed!!!

lark tee 14

Fabric scrunched up in a basket with ice on top, sprinkled with dye.

Ice dyeing is pretty easy, you just need fabric, powdered dye and ice (duh!).  There are a lot of tutorials about how to do it online, I followed the one on Dharma Trading’s website.  The fabric came out awesome!

lark tee 16

Finished fabric drying on the rack.

As far as the Lark Tee pattern, I made a straight size 14 and I didn’t make any adjustments to the pattern.  I think next time I will go down a size because the 14 feels a little too big, but the proportions of the tee are good.

I used my serger to sew the majority of the tee together and I used a jersey needle in my straight stitch machine to do the hems and to top-stitch around the neck binding.  Before I hemmed the sleeves and body, I serged the edges to keep them neat, then pressed them up and stitched in place.

lark tee 17

I will definitely make this pattern again and DEFINITELY do more ice dyeing!

lark tee 6

My measurements for reference:

Height: 5′ 5″

Bust: 41.5″

Waist: 33.5″

Hips: 41.5″

Pattern: Grainline Studio Lark Tee – size 14

Fabric: Organic cotton jersey

Linen Crossback Apron

linen apron with pockets

I had a little bit of linen left over after I made my oversized linen dress, so I made myself an apron.  I don’t really do anything that would require an apron, like cooking or gardening, but I’ve been really obsessed with aprons lately.

linen apron with pockets

I made a basic crossback style apron with pockets and I didn’t use a pattern.  This style is pretty much just a rectangle that wraps around your body, with two straps attached to the top that criss-cross in back.  There aren’t any ties to adjust, which I like, but I had to be sure it was fitting well before I sewed the straps in place, because they would have been a pain to adjust afterward.

blue linen apron

I think aprons make good layering pieces, extra pockets always come in handy and sometimes it’s nice to have some stomach coverage:)

apron pocket

I may or may not have some snacks in my pocket…

linen crossback apron

I’ll never tell!

Summer Shibori Dress

blue shibori dress with pockets

Hello!  Sorry I haven’t posted in a while.  I’ve been working on getting one of my patterns ready to release as a PDF and I have been neglecting my trusty sewing blog!  I took a break from the pattern to spruce up my summer wardrobe.

First up is this blue shibori dyed dress with dolman sleeves, a gathered skirt, and big patch pockets.  I used my own self drafted pattern.

blue dress 15

I wanted to make myself a few things that were comfortable but looked nicer than my worn out collection of skinny jeans and tee shirts.  Bleck.

blue dress 16

I had some crinkly cotton gauze on hand and I dyed it up with some blueberry fiber reactive dye.  I had just enough to get one dress out of it.  What luck!

blue dress 17

This is also the first time I tried taking pictures outside and they look sooooo much better that the ones taken inside my cave-like apartment!

Back view:

blue dress 8

And a few shots of the inside of the dress:

blue dress 18

I used french seams as usual, including at the waist with the gathering, and contrasting bias binding around the neck.  The hems of the sleeves and skirt were turned up twice and stitched.  I like to make the hems pretty deep, especially on a lightweight fabric, it makes everything hang very nicely.

That’s it!

P.S.  If anyone has any questions about the techniques I used, please don’t hesitate to ask:)

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!

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!