Hooded Wrap Cardigan

wrap cardigan with hood

I’ve been working on some new designs for my shop.  This is the first version of a hooded cardigan that I’ve been testing out.

I’ve been working with more knits since I bought a serger and I wanted to make something that would be comfortable and easy to wear, but would still look interesting.

It’s my own self-drafted pattern and this sample was made from organic cotton sweatshirt fleece that I hand dyed.

hooded tie dyed cardigan

I’m pretty happy with it, but there are a few things I need to adjust before it will be ready for sale.

One change will be to have the front bodice panels overlap each other further.  I made it so that they overlap by a few inches, which is fine for wearing the cardigan open, but I realized that it feels much cozier to have them fully overlap each other when you want to bundle up.

hooded tie dye cardigan

Another thing I will change is how the seams inside the hood and around the front edge and hem are finished.  I don’t really like how the exposed serged seams look, so I will conceal them next time.

I’m thinking probably a flat felled seam down the center of the hood and a twice turned up hem with mitered corners around the edge of the garment.  I’m not sure how to finish the neckline, I’ll have to think about that one!

hand dyed cardigan with hood

elf cardigan 14

Overall, I’m really happy with how this design turned out and I’m hoping to have the new and improved version up for sale in my shop soon.  In the mean time I will continue “test wearing” this one in the name of fashion science!

 

 

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

Oversized Linen Dress

blue linen dress

I’ve been on quite a linen kick lately.  I love the rumpled texture and it’s so comfy in this hot weather.  I’ve also been chasing after the perfect relaxed but stylish dress design and after many revisions I think I’ve got it!

blue linen dress

It seems like a pretty simple dress, but it took a while to get the proportions just right.  The waistline and hem needed to be hitting me at just the right spot, or it was not very flattering.

blue linen dress

I know this silhouette is not for everyone, but I love it!  Maybe it’s because it brings back fond memories of all the grungy baby-doll dresses I wore in high school, while reading Sassy magazine and listening to the Cranberries…ah the 90’s…

linen babydoll dress

The neckline took some tinkering, I wanted it to be nice and open, but not show my bra straps.  And I wanted the skirt to be long, but not drag on the city sidewalks or subway floor–yuck!

linen dress

I’ve made many versions of this type of dress and this one is my favorite.  I’m definitely going to make up a few more in different fabrics and maybe a long sleeved version for the cold weather.  The possibilities are endless!

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!

A week of handmade clothing…

On Tuesday of this past week, I realized I had worn my own (made by me) clothes to work two days in a row.  I decided to keep up the trend and wear something I had made every day for the rest of the week:

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday

Made by me!  (With the exception of the black tee and three pairs of pants.  Why don’t I ever make pants??)

I’m still working towards my all handmade wardrobe, but I’ve been a little pressed for time lately since I started working full time.  Being able to come up with a week of outfits makes me feel like I’m a little closer to that goal than I thought.  Yay!

Handmade Wordrobe progress report

Wow!  I feel like I’ve been gone for a long time!  I have made some progress in the “making my own clothes” department and I wanted to share some pictures.  I thought at first that I should start with cold weather clothes because it was winter, but I decided it made more sense to work a season ahead so that I would have a collection of garments ready to go when the weather gets warm.  One possible down side to this is that it might be difficult to motivate myself to work on a wool coat when August rolls around…

I’ve been on a real shibori dress kick:

baby doll dress

Bell Sleeve dress

dolman sleeve tunic with pockets

v neck dress

Patchwork dress

I put my scraps to good use:)

Well, that’s it for now.  If anyone else is working towards a handmade wardrobe I would love to hear about it!  The challenge continues…

P.S.  I just wanted to add–I put my own tags into everything I make, even if it’s just for me.  I have a stamp with my name and logo on it and I use fabric paint to stamp it on a piece of fabric, then sew it into the neckline.  It makes my garments feel more professional and complete and let’s the world know who made them:)

Before and After

I’m working on my handmade wardrobe and getting new garments together to photograph.  In the mean time I thought I would post some “before & after” pics of past pieces.  I’ve been taking pictures of my shibori fabric as I finish dyeing it, and then taking pictures of the finished garments and putting them side by side.

khaki shibori bubble dress

shibori tank top

I started doing these to keep track of my progress and stay motivated.  Sometimes I feel like I’m not getting enough accomplished, but when I look back at these I feel better:)

Handmade Wardrobe Challenge

One of my goals for this year was to make more garments for myself, but I’ve decided to take that a step further.  What I really want to do is make most, if not all, of the things that I wear.  I know it will take time to transition to an all made-by-me wardrobe, but I think it will be really fun and exciting to try.  I love to make clothes and I always feel happiest when I’m wearing my own designs.

I put together a collage of the things I’ve made that I wear most often:

handmade garment collage

So far most of the clothes I’ve made are lighter warm weather clothing, so I’ve definitely got to get to work on some pants and long sleeve tops.  I would also love to make myself a new winter coat, but I’ve been saying that for three years now so we’ll see…  OK, wish me luck!