Brocade Dress

I wore this dress to a wedding in Philadelphia back in May. My husband’s cousin got married, and I needed a dress that looked formal yet allowed me to dance the night away at the reception. I purchased this beautiful blue and gold brocade from Mood and made Vogue 9252, a high-low dress with a lined bodice and in-seam pockets.

Vogue 9252 dress
Vogue 9252 dress front

The brocade is just stunning in person. There is a slight 3D crinkle texture that is visible in a few of the photos I am posting. It also has a very soft, flowing drape, so I interlined both the bodice and skirt with silk organza to give the dress more structure and volume. The wrong side of the brocade is just as beautiful as the face, so a matching blue silk organza seemed like the perfect choice for interlining because it allows some of the wrong side of the fabric to be visible at the hemline. The bodice is lined with silk crepe de chine, and now, I want all my clothes to be lined with silk because it feels so good. If you haven’t tried sewing anything with silk lining, try it. A bodice like this doesn’t take much fabric to line either. However, the silk crepe de chine does creep if you try to cut it with scissors, so I use my rotary cutter instead to keep the fabric on grain while I am cutting it.

Both the organza and crepe de chine were also purchased from Mood in the color mazarine blue. The seam allowances in the skirt are finished with hong kong seams using pre-made, gold lamé bias tape. The hem is also bound with the same gold bias tape too. Half-inch wide navy horsehair was used in the hemline to provide more volume at the hem.

Vogue 9252 dress inside
The finished vertical seams of the interlined skirt before it is attached to the bodice. The pocket bag is inserted and the edges are serged.

While I already knew brocade frays like mad, I was very surprised how badly the bias tape frayed. If I could get it in place on the first try there was minimal fraying, but the lame did not tolerate seam ripping well. While I would have loved all the seams to be perfect, but there are a few wavy seams that I chose to leave in place instead of risking overworking the fabric.

Vogue 9252 uses cup sizes in addition to regular sizes to get a better fit. I used the size 10 with the B cup pattern pieces based off my overbust measurement. For reference, I have an overbust of 30.5 inches and a bust of 32.5 inches. Zero alterations were made to the pattern. In actuality, and based off my underbust measurement, I am a 30D which actually has the same volume of a 34B according to sister sizing. So maybe the cup sizes for the pattern are based off a 34 band size? Bra sizes are confusing.

Vogue 9252 dress side and pockets
Vogue 9252 dress back
Vogue 9252 dress back

I was in a bit of a hurry to finish the dress in time, and I didn’t notice the back waist seams don’t align at the zipper until I was getting ready at the hotel. I felt like an idiot even though I know no one else cares about that (or even notices). My husband however, noticed because I have taught him so much about clothing over the past few years. At least the mistake was on my back so I didn’t have to look at it while I was wearing it. And, most importantly, I can fix it before I wear the dress again.

Vogue 9252 dress hong kong seams

I threw in this silly picture just because I have to show off all my hard work I put into the inside of the dress.

The horsehair trim is encased within the hem and is not visible. After the raw edges of the hem were bound with bias tape, I stitched in the ditch of the binding to secure the horsehair braid to the lower edge of the wrong side of the hem. The hem was turned up, pressed into place, and hand stitched using a slipstitch catching only the organza interlining.

Vogue 9252 dress with hong kong seams

Special occasion garments are my favorite things to sew. It is such a treat to get to work with fine fabrics. Would you agree? Have you done any special occasion sewing lately?

Tutorial: How I Applied Trim on My Jasika Blazer

Thank you so much for the overwhelming responses to my Gucci-inspired Jasika Blazer in the past week! I tried to respond to each any every comment as best as I could. I had numerous questions about how I sewed the trim on my blazer, so I thought I would put together this tutorial. If you have questions about fabric and trim sourcing or my review of the pattern see my first blog post about my jacket here.

Supplies:

  • 1″ Petersham ribbon
  • 1/8″ lip-cord trim (available on Amazon and Etsy)
  • Tailors chalk
  • Clear quilter’s ruler
  • Walking foot
  • Zipper foot
  • Fray check (optional)
  • Lite steam-a-seam 2
  • Rotary cutter (optional)

First, remove the seam allowances where the trim will be applied. I like to use a rotary cutter to avoid jagged edges.

Here, I am using the pocket flap as my example for instructions, but the steps are the same regardless of the area of the jacket. Baste or sew the fashion fabric to it’s corresponding lining or facing with right sides together (1/4″ SA). For example, I have the pocket flap basted to the pocket flap lining with right sides together. For the collar, you would sew the upper collar to the lower collar right sides together etc. On my instagram post here you can see the lapel facing basted to the lapel before the trim was applied.

I like to use a walking foot for this because it guarantees the fabric layers will not shift. I used to think walking feet were only for quilters, but I use it for any sewing project that requires precision.

Next, using a quilting ruler, mark 1/2″ from the edge. on all the edges where the trim will be applied.

Switch to a zipper foot. Center the lip-cord over the chalk line and sew into place. Hammer all areas that will have intersecting lip cord. If you don’t have a hammer, the handle of heavy sewing shears or a clapper work nicely.

Hammer intersecting corners of lip-cord again after both layers have been sewn into place. Now would be a good time to use Fray Check on your trim if you haven’t already. Cut away excess trim in the seam allowances.

I know I am going to get a lot of eye rolls for admitting I used adhesives to baste my trim in place, but there was simply no other way! I tried hand basting all layers in place before sewing, and they still shifted and made the mitered corners a mess. I suspect this is from having to use a zipper foot to topstitch the ribbon onto the jacket. There is not enough surface area with this foot to get the stability you need to stitch through 4 layers of fabric without them moving. I did look into getting a binding foot attachment for pre-made bias tape, but my local Bernina dealer was kind enough to tell me it wouldn’t work on petersham ribbon. The attachment is over $200, so it wasn’t worth trying out if it wouldn’t work. I think the manufacturers of the RTW Gucci jacket must have a foot specifically (maybe even a specialty machine) for applying flat trims to bind seams as there are a few Gucci jackets out now that have this trim on the edge.

Instead, I used lite steam-a-seam2 to baste the ribbon in place before topstitching. It is basically an iron-on double-sided tape. I have used the regular Steam-a-Seam, and this version is specifically for light weight fabrics. I bought mine at Hobby Lobby, but Amazon has it here. If you use the regular on sheer fabrics, you run the risk of the adhesive seeping through the fabric!!! And, no, this product did not gum up my needle.

I cut the sheets into several 1/4″ strips. The adhesive is backed by paper on each side.

Peel off only one side of the paper and place the steam-a-seam adhesive side down where the petersham ribbon will go. I like to center the steam-a-seam on the fabric and the trim to have more contact with more layers of fabric. Iron it into place.

Peel off the paper backing, and repeat for the other areas.

For large spans of trim, such as the lapels and center front of the jacket, you may wish to leave on the paper backing on as long as possible and remove it in a few increments to not pick up lint. Here you can see the adhesive has been ironed on to the fabric and the paper pulled away.

Repeat the application of the steam-a-seam on the reverse side of the pocket flap or area where the petersham is to be applied.

I used 100% rayon petersham ribbon. Rayon cotton blends are stiffer and therefore, more bulky.

Fold the petersham in half and iron. I like to use this hack that I use when I make bias tape. I take straight pins and pin them into my ironing board to form 1/2″ “slots” that I pass the ribbon through. My iron fits in the middle, and I can set the iron down and pull the ribbon through with minimal effort to make sure the fold is actually in the middle of the ribbon.

Smooth the ribbon onto the right side then fold it around to the wrong side. Above, you can see the left corner needs a more hammering as the ribbon is not laying flat. When you get to an area that needs a mitered corner, use your fingernail to make the crease in the ribbon. Keep applying the ribbon in one continuous piece until you have all the trim in place for that area. If you mess up, you can peel the ribbon off the steam-a-seam as many times as you like and stick it back down! Since you ironed it to the fabric earlier, it will be permanently fixed to the fabric and will not peel up with the ribbon when you need to readjust it.

When it looks good, give it a good press, and topstitch the ribbon down using a zipper foot. Get as close as you can to the edge of the ribbon. It is very important to topstitch slowly! Sew as slow as you comfortably can, and try not to backstitch to much. Mistakes will be highly visible!! Hand sew the miters closed with a slipstitch.

closet case patterns jasika blazer peak lapel

I applied the trim to the pocket flaps, breast pocket welt, and collar before they were attached to the jacket. Applying the trim to the lapel required the most creativity as I had to change up the order of assembly according to the instructions. Below, is a picture of the ribbon stitched to the beginning of the peak lapel right sides together. I had to apply the ribbon here before I applied the lip cord so the lip cord could end tucked under the ribbon as seen above.

On the front of the jacket, the lip-cord on the lapel facing side ends a few inches below the button, and the jacket front has lip-cord ending a few inches above the button. This means for a few inches, there is lip-cord applied to both sides of the fabric. (This can be seen in the first picture of the blog post.) It was difficult to get that many layers of fabric into the correct place, but I made it happen. Topstitch on the right side of the garment at all times, as it will not look as good on the reverse side. When topstitching the trim on the front, you have to flip the jacket over half way down the jacket as the lapel facing becomes part of the inside of the jacket.

closet case patterns jasika blazer gucci
closet case patterns jasika blazer gucci

What do you think? Will you be trying this technique anytime soon? Have any questions? Let me know in the comments.

Gucci-inspired Blazer

Several months ago, a red petersham ribbon-trimmed Gucci blazer caught my eye. Gucci had used two inexpensive and simple trims to create a blazer that is completely unique and bold. At the time, I searched for blazer patterns eager to recreate this Gucci blazer, but I couldn’t find a pattern that would reproduce the look I was seeking. When the Jasika Blazer pattern by Closet Case Patterns was released, I knew the classic styling paired with the multiple types of suggested interfacing would yield the results I needed to recreate this blazer. I ended up purchasing the online class the day it was released.

I pressed my Jacket before my photoshoot, but I think our heavy humidity here caused the fabric to relax a little as shown in the wavy lines next to the trim. Oh well. Here is a great side-by-side of my inspiration and my hacked Jasika.

I highly recommend buying the class which comes with a free digital copy of the Jasika pattern. I consider myself somewhat of an advanced sewer, but I still learned more than I expected. Topics including pressing techniques and wool fabric manipulation were covered in the video. I would consider this pattern as advanced due to the amount of pieces and steps involved to put it together. However, if you are an ambitious intermediate sewer, the video will walk you through difficult parts step by step. While the written instructions are very detailed, there were many tips and tricks about tailoring in the video that are not covered in the instructions.

I used a size 4 at the bust and waist and tapered to a size 8 at the hips. The fit of my first muslin of the jacket fit better than any RTW blazers I have tried on. In fact, this is currently the only blazer I own because I was never satisfied with the fit of RTW. However, I did make a few tweaks in the pattern to perfect the fit. The first muslin felt a little tight in the shoulders so I did a 1/8” broad shoulder adjustment on each side, but now I think it was unnecessary. I also did a 3/8” swayback adjustment. These were the only fitting adjustments I made. However, I did do other style adjustments to mimic the Gucci version. I squared off the pockets, drafted a peak lapel to replace the notch version included in the pattern. I also increased the height of the welt on the breast pocket by 3/8″ to accommodate the trim. I did a post on my insta stories about how I drafted the peak lapel here.

I purchased Max Mara brand nautical print silk twill from Emma One Sock for the lining. Interfacing, sleeve heads, and shoulder pads came from the Jasika blazer kit from Closet Case Patterns. The button came from a store on Fabric Row in Philadelphia. Navy lip cord trim, 1/8″, came from Etsy, and the 1″ eggshell petersham ribbon came from The Sewing Place. The jacket fabric is a Pierre Cardin double face wool satin faille from B and J fabrics. The right side is a faille weave and the reverse is a satin weave. Interfacing adheres to this fabric really well, and I haven’t had any issues with bubbling so far.

I didn’t want to add the piping in between the lapel facing and lining since the trim already made the center front a little bulky. Instead, I added pick stitching with red thread to understitch the lining.

I also added catch stitching to secure the lapel to the collar on the reverse side.Without the catch stitch, the lapels curls forward like little wings as seen in progress picture below:

I plan on writing another blog post soon about how I attached the trim. The tutorial was too long to put into one post, so I decided to split them up.

Although I used premium fabric for my blazer and spent a little over $200 on materials, the Gucci blazer is $2,500 and is made of polyester with polyester lining. And, after wearing the blazer in 80 degree weather, I don’t regret the silk lining as it kept me cooler than I had anticipated! I’ll be waiting for cooler summer nights to sport this new blazer again soon!

Spaniel Seersucker Skirt

McCalls 7606 Wrap Skirt

I saw this fabric with little brown dogs on it at my local fabric store, Five Eighth Seams, and I immediately bought a couple yards knowing it was destined to be a new skirt in my closet. I love how crisp and cool the seersucker feels, and it was easy to make too!

I sewed this skirt up using McCall’s 7606 with a few changes. I shortened the entire skirt so it would be calf length instead of maxi length. Also, I incorporated the ruffle at the top into the waistband, so it wouldn’t flap around so much. I used a button closure on the inside top right and a hook and bar closure at the top left, just before the ruffle begins. At the outside edge of the ruffle, I used a small snap. I guess you could say there is no chance of a wardrobe malfunction in this skirt! These closures are way more secure than the ties like the pattern suggests, and I like the security and the sleek look without the bow. The fabric was a little transparent, so I interlined the skirt with white cotton batiste from my stash, and it is the perfect opacity and weight for the skirt.

McCalls 7606 Wrap Skirt

Before I gathered the ruffle, I hemmed it using a narrow roll hem foot. This attachment takes some getting used to, and I have butchered the beginning of many, many hems by unknowingly using this attachment incorrectly until I finally watched this video about using my specific Bernina foot. Though, I am assuming since all of the roll hem feet look the same, this video could be useful if you have another brand of sewing machine. The video instructs to straight stitch the area to be hemmed for a few stitches and then use the long thread tails to position the fabric correctly into the foot before starting to hem. Now, I get perfect hems every time!

Instead of cutting out the ruffle the length the pattern suggests and gathering it, I cut longer lengths of fabric, pieced it together in one long strip, and then I used a gathering foot. It is important to have a little extra length of fabric to work when using a gathering foot because it may gather the fabric a little tighter than the way the pattern was designed. Also, you have less control in easing out the fullness if the gathers are too tight. For this skirt, the finished ruffle is about half the length of the original length of fabric. I always like to practice with a scrap piece of the fabric I am working on to make sure the foot is gathering the amount that I want it to. I used a 10 inch long piece of scrap seersucker fabric and made adjustments until my finished ruffle was only 5 inches. Fiddling with the machine settings doesn’t take too long, and I prefer it to pulling basting threads because the gathering foot evenly spaces the gathers for me. After I sewed on the ruffle, I cut off the excess amount of fabric that I had gathered so it was the appropriate length. I also topstitched the bottom of the skirt to hold the seam allowance of the ruffle and skirt bottom in place. I think the topstitching gives the skirt a ready-to-wear look.

McCalls 7606 Wrap Skirt seersucker

Mccalls 7606 seersucker wrap skirt

I paired this skirt with the Nettie Bodysuit I made by Closet Case Patterns. Modifications to the original bodysuit pattern are discussed in this post.

This project ended up coming together quickly with the help of my roll hem and gathering presser feet. Do you have any favorite presser feet or sewing machine attachments that help you save time? Let me know in the comments below.

McCalls 7606 Wrap Skirt Seersucker
The Tunic Bible Tunic Dress

Tunic Bible Knit Tunic

Here is another tunic dress from The Tunic Bible by Sarah Gunn and Julie Starr. I loved my first dress I made from this pattern so I had to make another. I originally intended to make this dress with a neckline totally different than my first dress, but in the end I decided to go with the wide-split placket and angled collar again because I thought it would show off the trim best. I made the dress in an XS. The directions state to size-down if using a knit, but XS is the smallest in the size range so I just took in as I needed to get the fit right. 

The fabric is the Leggero ponte by Telio. It is a rayon blend light-to-medium ponte with great recovery. I purchased it from Fabric.com last year, but they are currently sold out. I found the silver sari lace trim on Etsy. If you are looking for something similar, try searching for “sari trim” or “sari lace”. There are literally thousands of beautiful embroidered and crocheted trims in this category and most are very affordable. I did notice that the trim shrank significantly when exposed to steam. I’m not sure if most crocheted metallic trims do this, but it is something to keep in mind. Unfortunately, I noticed this after I had applied the trim to the collar and before I sewed the collar on. So the collar didn’t fit right in the neckline due to the shrinkage. It also created some drag lines from the high shoulder point to the armpit, but I still love the dress.

I used the same crochet trim at the neckline and hem of the dress, but I removed the scalloped side of the trim to get a different look at the bottom of the dress. You can see me unravel the trim on my instagram post here. I love that I get a cohesive look without buying two different trims!

To get the perfect placement of the trim at the bottom of the dress, I marked 3/8″ away from the edge of the fabric at the hem using chalk and hand basted the trim to the dress. I then pressed the trim to get perfectly crisp mitered corners before I sewed the trim down on either side using a straight stitch on my machine.

I have plans to make another dress from this pattern in linen, hopefully I can get that done by the end of the summer.

Kelly Waxed Field Jacket

Kelly Anorak closet case patterns waxed jacketKelly Anorak closet case patterns waxed jacket

I love Barbour-style jackets, but who wants to pay over $300 for a coat that can only be “sponged clean”? I. Just. Can’t.

I found this unique, water resistant fabric at Pacific Blue Denims. It is made in the UK at the Dinsmore fabric mill, and is listed as a wax/acrylic coated cotton canvas It is 7 oz and 100% cotton. This fabric is so different from anything I have ever sewn with. It feels dry to the touch, unlike some waxed fabrics that feel slightly sticky, especially when warm. The finish does not rub off when ironed and didn’t leave a residue on my sewing machine either. It has a matte finish, but a beautiful slight sheen (similar to traditional waxed canvas) develops after some use. This wound be a great choice for a dressier raincoat because it doesn’t necessarily look like it would shed water, but it does so wonderfully while also being breathable. Also, the fabric wont have to be re-waxed later. However, there are some drawbacks. The wax/acrylic canvas also has a very stiff drape that makes gathering and easing tremendously difficult. While I was setting in the sleeves, I kept thinking the fabric behaved more like brown craft paper rather than canvas. Oh, and perhaps the biggest challenge working with this fabric is that needle marks are hard to remove. Much like working with leather, all topstitching much be perfect on the first try. No do-overs!Kelly Anorak closet case patterns waxed jacketKelly Anorak closet case patterns waxed jacket

Drawbacks aside, I think this is a wonderfully made, hard-wearing fabric if you are looking for a new kind of challenging material to sew with.

I used a brown faux suede at the front yoke that I quilted to the coated canvas with some matching machine quilting thread. I used this same brown thread for all the topstitching elsewhere on the jacket. The interlining fame from Five Eighth Seams, a local fabric store in Charleston. The zipper is an M6 Riri zipper from pacific trimming that I had to dye darker with synthetic dye. Snaps and other hardware were from the Closet Case Patterns Kelly Hardware kit.

Kelly Anorak closet case patterns waxed jacket

I used the Kelly Anorak Pattern by Closet Case Patterns (size 4). Modifications are as follows: Lowered the drawstring by 3/4″,  moved the drawstring to the inside, changed pockets to have a flap closure, added an interlining, quilted the front yolk pieces, lengthened the sleeves by 1/4″, and made a broad shoulder adjustment. I am thinking about making a detachable, snap-on hood by modifying the Kelly Anorak hood pattern pieces. I don’t use hoods on jackets, but it would be good to have on a rainy day.

What do you think? Would you ever sew with traditional waxed canvas or wax/acrylic coated canvas?

Kelly Anorak closet case patterns waxed jacketKelly Anorak closet case patterns waxed jacket

Chambray Dress from The Tunic Bible

Tunic bible chambray dress cording trim sewing Megan Francine
The pattern for this dress came from the book The Tunic Bible by authors Sarah Gunn and Julie Starr. I purchased the book shortly after it was released, but I had such a hard time deciding what tunic to make. I was really stumped as to which neckline to pick as there are 12! That being said, there are an infinite number of tunics that can be made with this pattern as the authors included different bodices, sleeves, lengths, and necklines. The possibilities are endless with this pattern, and not all combinations look like a variation of a tunic, so it is a real wardrobe builder. And there is only one bodice to fit! You should checkout @julie_starr on instagram to see her “Tunic a Day” posts to see all the different tunics that have been made with this pattern. You can use a wide variety of fashion fabrics with this pattern, even knits with some modifications as shown in the book. I also love how Julie and Sarah reference popular designers such as Tory Burch in the book for inspiration as it shows how to make such a classic sillouette trendy at the same time.

The Tunic bible review chambray dress cording trim sewing Megan Francine
The Tunic bible review chambray dress cording trim sewing Megan Francine
I made an extra small, and made zero pattern adjustments! I can’t believe I didn’t need an FBA or swayback adjustment! There are some drag lines around the bust, which occurred after adding the back darts. I might do some minor tweaking to darts before my next tunic, or I might leave it because they aren’t too bad. And just ignore the edge stitching on the inside of the neckline! It was a result of changing my mind about the neckline placket at the last minute.

The Tunic bible review chambray dress cording trim sewing Megan Francine
The Tunic bible review chambray dress cording trim sewing Megan Francine
I used a gray, 100% cotton chambray from fabric.com that wrinkles almost as bad as linen. The trim was inspired by this tutorial about surface cording by the Colette Patterns blog. I basically covered cotton cord with a long tube of white broadcloth then slip stitched it onto my dress in a decorative shape.

A few weeks ago, I attended an event at Five Eighth Seams, a local fabric store in Charleston, where I got to meet Sarah and Julie when they hosted a sip-and-see of all of their favorite makes. It was so cool to see the clothes from their instagram and blog posts IRL, and I learned some new sewing tips too! Sarah and Julie were both so warm and inviting, and I hope our sewing paths cross again soon. Julie even let me try on her Chanel-style French jacket she made to feel just how luxe the silk charmeuse lining feels! I can’t deny I thought about making everything out of silk charmeuse for the next couple of days.

Tunic bible Sarah gunn Julie Starr Megan Francine Five eighth seams

I am already thinking of sewing my next tunic in linen to help me beat the heat this summer! This is such a great pattern, I can see myself using it again and again!