The long and short of Adelaide

Some gals project such effortless versatility to the world and Adelaide babe, that's you.  I first fell for her early last summer when my sewing momentum was just beginning to pick up.   She had me at snap front, bra-strap coverage and discreetly body skimming silhouette.  If you haven’t heard me go on about this before, I’m talking about the Seamwork Magazine Adelaide Dress.  I loved my classic version so much it wasn't long before I dreamt up a hack with a waist seam, pleats and loose patch pockets.  In December I stumbled on some gorgeous ikat cotton and Adelaide came straight to mind.  My shopping partner insisted it should be a maxi and it was all settled.  **Brigada, Fer por me convencer xoxo**

Of course that wasn't the time for sundress making and I wondered if come summer I would chicken out on the maxi and settle on a length I'm more comfortable with.  Crazy, I know... Who in their right mind is not comfortable in a maxi?!   My thing is, I like my bum either solidly supported in a structured garment, or else completely lost in a fuller knee-length skirt.  I worry that draped under a long, looser-fitting skirt there may be some unsightly jiggling going on.  Or that in the words of my hero Clairee from Steel Magnolias it would look like "two pigs fightin' under a blanket".  I also don't have much height working for me, and didn't want to end up looking as wide as I am high.  Despite my fears and in the spirit of adventure I decided that I would take my own advice and do what I could to make the style work for me.  

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Drafting-wise, turning the pattern into a maxi was very straightforward.  I found the widest part of the pattern pieces (just above the hip) and measured the width.  I re-drew the hip curve to end in a straight line all the way to the hem keeping that same width measurement.  This ended up looking pretry much the same as grading from an 8 at the hip to a 2 soon thereafter.

hip width extended to the hem to create a column

hip width extended to the hem to create a column

The pattern pieces from my original dress had been cut to use the length of the largest size, and from there I added an additional 11 inches to create the maxi.  It wasn’t until I had taped on the additional length that I realized there was some shaping at the hem, and so I just did my best to replicate that.  The shape of the skirt is basically a column and proportion-wise I think this is the way for curvy ladies to go.  Since the dress closes in the front it was super easy to leave the lower portion open for ease of movement.  No need for slits!  

Full lengh of the pattern +11 inches added for maxi length.  I think I had 3 yards of fabric but ikats are so narrow it was barely long enough. 

Full lengh of the pattern +11 inches added for maxi length.  I think I had 3 yards of fabric but ikats are so narrow it was barely long enough. 

I made two other pattern changes on this version based on observations from my first two.  First, I had a bit of neckline gaping that I hoped to correct this time around.  Wearing the original dress I pinched out about half an inch excess from each side.  On the front pattern piece I slashed just inside of the neckline curve all the way to the horizontal line at the high hip.  Pivoting in, I removed that half inch.  Second, I had found the straps a tad long, and just snipped down from a size 6 to a 4.  Both of these adjustments helped the fit significantly.

Slash and spread adjustment to neckline and about 1/8" trimmed off the straps.

Slash and spread adjustment to neckline and about 1/8" trimmed off the straps.

I couldn't find any snaps in a color I liked so I opted for buttons instead.  These cheapies that come 8 to a card for $1 were the perfect color.

I couldn't find any snaps in a color I liked so I opted for buttons instead.  These cheapies that come 8 to a card for $1 were the perfect color.

Buttons stop just above the knee to allow for free movement.

Buttons stop just above the knee to allow for free movement.

Fish eye darts at the back waist are brilliant!  In this case they layed flat without cutting into them.  The finish is much nicer this way too.

Fish eye darts at the back waist are brilliant!  In this case they layed flat without cutting into them.  The finish is much nicer this way too.

Self bias bound armholes are the only way to go.  I recently realized I've been skipping the understitching part of this process but it doesn't seem to be a problem here.

Self bias bound armholes are the only way to go.  I recently realized I've been skipping the understitching part of this process but it doesn't seem to be a problem here.

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The pattern does instruct you to make belt loops but It's tricky to get them in the right place and I found them unnecessary.  I ended up leaving them off.  

The pattern does instruct you to make belt loops but It's tricky to get them in the right place and I found them unnecessary.  I ended up leaving them off.  

Just enough ease in the skirt to be comfy, not so wide that it's frumpy.

Just enough ease in the skirt to be comfy, not so wide that it's frumpy.

Kept it real by taking these photos on a 100 degree afternoon.

Kept it real by taking these photos on a 100 degree afternoon.

I love how the cut of the straps and neckline cover my bra AND that chunk of flesh that chubs out between the arm and chest.  The neckline still doesn't lay completely flat but it is much better with my adjustments.

I love how the cut of the straps and neckline cover my bra AND that chunk of flesh that chubs out between the arm and chest.  The neckline still doesn't lay completely flat but it is much better with my adjustments.

Because it has been so incredibly hot and since you can never have too much of a good thing, as soon as I finished up my maxi I started thinking about a cropped top version.  Seems like everywhere I look I see inspiration for adorable button up tanks and again my darling Adelaide was the obvious choice for the hack.  The drafting was super simple.  I measured on myself where I wanted the hem to hit and marked that on a traced copy of the pattern with seam allowance.  Mine ended up being 12 3/4 inches down from the bottom of the armscye.  From there I added about 1 cm to the width at the hem and drew a line at the side seam to straighten out the waist curve.  The back length was adjusted to match.  At this point it was looking a lot like an A-line skirt at the bottom so I did the traditional shaping to smooth everything out and eliminate any pointyness at the sides.  Gotta give credit to this tutorial for skirtmaking I've been using for years.  The rest of the top was sewn up just as is instructed for the dress, minus the fisheye darts.

Adjusted patern peices.

Adjusted patern peices.

I had enough gold linen/rayon left from my first Adelaide hack to whip this up as my first #sewingleftovers project.  Shauni is so inspiring and I’m really motivated to make good use of all my leftovers.  This top can be made up in about 24 inches of 50” wide fabric.  Waste no more!

I had enough gold linen/rayon left from my first Adelaide hack to whip this up as my first #sewingleftovers project.  Shauni is so inspiring and I’m really motivated to make good use of all my leftovers.  This top can be made up in about 24 inches of 50” wide fabric.  Waste no more!

Really loving this swing shape.

Really loving this swing shape.

So glad I made those pattern changes before I cut this top.  The neckline sits so much better!

So glad I made those pattern changes before I cut this top.  The neckline sits so much better!

Can't say enough how much I appreciate that underarm chub being tucked in.

Can't say enough how much I appreciate that underarm chub being tucked in.

The length of the crop works perfectly for mid-rise jeans or trousers.  It's also long enough to be tied which looked better when I tried it with a skirt.

The length of the crop works perfectly for mid-rise jeans or trousers.  It's also long enough to be tied which looked better when I tried it with a skirt.

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The structure of the linen really suits the shape. 

The structure of the linen really suits the shape. 

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A special thanks to you if you made it to the end of this doozy!  I’ve got one more double-make post in the works and then I hope to stay caught up for a while.

xo

Crowdsourced V9251: an Anthro-inspired wrap hack

This project has been a long time coming so I'm excited that it's the first proper pattern review I'm sharing here.  It started when I picked up a few yards of floral (gasp!) rayon last December at Michael Levine with a summery dress in mind.  I'm so fickle when it comes to prints that I usually fall in and out of love with them before I even reach the checkout.  But this one seemed different and it fit in the budget, so it came home with me.  Fast forward to the end of March just before it was announced that the #sewtogetherforthesummer theme would be wrap dresses.  I came across this one in an Anthropologie ad and I immediately thought of that floral rayon I had. 

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Spurred along by my ever-resourceful Instagram pals, I suddenly had several pattern options that could help bring this inspo photo to life.  I went with Vogue 9251 after seeing it's versatility in versions from Jessie and Bryanna.  There were quite a few changes it needed in order to match my inspiration and seeing their hacks was really reassuring.

Pattern: Very Easy Vogue V9251.  I've only ever made a couple of Big 4 patterns, but I'm guessing this one was categorized 'very easy' because there are very few pattern pieces.  In my opinion that's a bit deceiving.  Especially since it's recommended to be made up in rayon, the instructions are sparse- almost cryptic and some of the methods a little tricky.  There's also no reminder or indication of when to finish seam allowances.  I think the indie pattern-maker favorite skill level "adventurous beginner" is much more accurate.  That said, I found the pattern to be very well drafted and final product matched the illustrations beautifully. 

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Fabric: Paradis Woodland Art Gallery Rayon from Michael Levine (out of stock there, but still online in other shops)  This fabric is sooo dreamy and buttery, assuming you dream of butter *or like me a really good plant based alternative*.  This is a bold, saturated print but to me the design and color pallete are sophisticated and refined.

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Size: I made the size 12 based on the finished bust measurements.  I could have graded down slightly at the waist but figured I'd just cinch it in with the ties.  A quick look at the cut of the skirt indicated it was generous enough to graze my hips freely so a straight 12 it was!

Fit: I'm very happy with the fit and fortunately the adjustments I made worked out great.  The waist does not tighten as snugly as I hoped, but I'm okay with it.  I really love the way the bodice hangs delicately with the perfect amount of ease.  The curve of the wrap skirt is something I was concerned about for modesty, but actually it has great coverage.  I can't say as much for the top but that might just be me (not a fan of cleavage).  Fortunately a safety pin is enough to keep the girl's out of sight.  I'll put a snap on soon to avoid snagging the fabric.

Changes: So many!  Starting from the top I raised the back neckline 1/2" which I think is more flattering on me.  The plan was to omit the sleeves so to keep it from being too restrictive I deepend the armscyes by 3/4", then finished them with bias binding.  There are options for two skirt lengths but since I wanted mine knee length I was on my own in adjusting it.  I know you're technically supposed to us the lenghten/shorten lines for this kind of change, but the placement of these made no sense to me.  Had I done as instructed I would have ended up with a waaay more voluminous skirt than I wanted (half circle skirt status).  I went rogue here, managing to preserve the curve of the of the front hem without adding on anything to the width.  I think I ended up shortening the midi version by about 11 inches.  I did not make a muslin, but I did carefully consider the impact of each change and made them to the pattern pieces before I cut into my fabric.  Holding the pieces up to myself and my dress form helped me feel confident I was on the right path.

The Frill:  As the main feature in replicating the look of the Anthropologie dress, this beast gets it's own section.  Truth: I own nothing with frills and invariably replace gathers with pleats in all skirts so the extent of my experience up to this point was gathering sleeves for insertion. I'm sure there are better ways to have done this, but this method got the job done.  I sewed together 4 inch wide strips of fabric totaling the required length plus roughly 50% extra for gathering.  I folded the one *very long* strip in half, stitching each end closed and sewed gathering stitches.  Gathering 195 inches of fabric was a way bigger undertaking than I imagined, especially since I thought I could do it with only one row of gathering stitches- a total ruffle rookie mistake.  If you attempt this, please save yourself some grief and use two or even three rows to keep everything in place.  Once the gathered frill was pinned on I attached it beginning at the outer waist tie, all around the hem and back up to the inner waist tie.  All three layers of the seam allowance were serged together and pressed toward the skirt.

inside the frill

inside the frill

 

Construction: The construction was pretty straightforward, but the wording in the instructions and minimal illustrations left me overthinking what was to be done.  In the end I did what made the most sense to me, which may or may not be correct.  I think the look of self bias binding is so much more refined than pre-made, so I made it in the continuous loop method with this tutorial from Itch to Stitch.  For reference I used a 12" square and cut 1 inch strips and I had enough to bind the armscyes and all around the wrap and back neckline of the bodice with about 12 inches left over.  Making bias tape with such delicate fabric is a real pain and mine is far from perfect.  The same is true of my application of it.  I regret not making my strips 1.25" instead of 1" because I think those extra millimeters added to the folds would have made the binding sturdier.  Added to the fact that I'm super rusty at bias binding in general, I'm not certain it'll hold up in the washing machine so I'll probably stick to hand washing.  One thing that did help in making the bias tape was *heavily* spray starching the fabric square before cutting and again when putting it through the bias maker.  On that note, my top tip for working with shifty rayon in general is to handle it minimally.  The cut fabric loses it's shape very easily, so never stretch or pull on it in the slightest and to never let your cut fabric hang off the edge of your work surface or even from your hand until you've got it all stitched together.  

self bias tape

self bias tape

guts!  

guts!  

the inner wrap

the inner wrap

the outer wrap

the outer wrap

front wrap

front wrap

Verdict: It's floaty and romantic and swishy and breezy.  Definitely not a look I'm known for, but I'm really pleased with it.  It had been ages since I made anything other than a simple skirt with rayon, and I had forgotten how hard it is to wrangle.  And with so many changes and fiddly finishings it took me ages to complete but it was all worth it in the end.  Stay tuned, I will be making a short sleeved version of this pattern soon sans frill very soon!

 

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very roomy pockets

very roomy pockets

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Questioning limiting beliefs + a pair of wide legged trousers

If there’s one topic buzzing around social media the past few days it’s the verdict on Me Made May.  Did you stay true to your pledge or fall off the wagon?  What gaps did you identify in your wardrobe? How about the burnout from daily selfies?  For me, the challenge went quite smoothly, actually.  The unusually varied temps allowed for me to wear the gammit of my handmade wardrobe comfortably; 61 pieces of it it be exact!  Only problem was that a few days into it, I realized that I didn’t exactly feel stylish in the photos I was taking.  (p.s. you can read my quote about this in the June issue of Seamwork Magazine

I realized that for the fear of never making anything I don’t love to wear, I’ve been seriously limiting myself in the styles I choose to sew.  I tend to be stubborn and fiercely loyal to my ideas.  So with practicality standing guard, I shun most trends from the get-go and stick to a few basic (safe) styles I feel suit me best.  If I’m honest it has become just plain silly.  Recently on the Happier podcast with Gretchen Rubin, they discussed the idea of questioning the sometimes irrational beliefs that limit us, and it really rang true with me.  

That said, my sewing goal for the rest of the year is to step outside of my comfort zone and see how I can play around with new trends and adapt them to my current style.  I love a good hack, and since I didn’t even need to buy a new pattern to do it, I started off with a pair of wide legged Ultimate Trousers.  I loved the first pair so much, I decided to make a second and share them with you here. 

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Pattern: Ultimate Trousers by Sew Over It

Fabric: medium-heavyweight linen (blend?)  remnant from Michael Levine DTLA; 1 1/2 yards x56” wide

Size: I used my trusty altered pattern pieces that have seen my through 7 iterations of these trousers.  From what I recall, they are a 10 at the waist graded to a 12 at the hips. I also changed the crotch curve to a J shape at some point on the advice of Lauren’s post

For reference I am 5’5”; bust 35.5”; waist 28.5“; hip 39.5”

Changes:  For the wide leg hack I added 10 inches each to the width of the front and back leg hems and graded out to meet those lines starting just below the hip curve. I think I ended up chopping off 2 inches from the hem for a cropped look.  I also used the waist facings to make a narrow waistband and button tab.

Verdict: I love them! The combination of a lighter color + linen fabric does result in some inevitable afternoon bagginess in the bum, but because they’re quite fitted at the waist and hip I dont think it makes them unflattering.  Overall I feel super chic in these trousers and picture myself sailing around the Mediterranean in them.