Self-Drafted Formal Dress

I originally planned for this dress to be my “night dress” entry for the Day and Night Dress Challenge hosted by Elizabeth of Elizabeth Made This back in January. The rules were pretty straightforward- make a casual day dress and a black evening dress.

Self drafted formal  evening dress

When I go to a formal event, I usually have a months notice if I’m lucky. I feel like I have to make my outfit to those events because evening wear is my favorite thing to make, and I don’t get the opportunity very often. Then, since I’m an overly ambitious sewist, I concoct some elaborate design that requires a few all-nighters to complete. Last time I went to a black-tie affair, I *literally* finished sewing a dress just in time to not be late to the event. That was miserable, and I made a promise to myself I would never let my hobby put me under pressure like that again. The Day and Night Dress Challenge gave me a chance to create an evening dress so I would have a dress to wear to a future occasion, and we technically had about 6 weeks to complete the dresses. Unfortunately, fate had other plans during the month of January. I got sick. My grandmother passed away. I ended up not sewing for a couple of weeks.

Fast forward a couple of months and I finally finished it!!

Drafted evening formal dress knit
I’ve been teaching myself pattern drafting, but this is my first project that involved drafting for knit fabric. The dress fits wonderfully, but I still have a lot to learn. I stared at that white drafting paper for many hours waiting for the bust darts to draw themselves in the right location! The bust area has negative six percent ease, and the bust darts had to be positioned to account for the fabric stretching across the body when worn. It is hard to see in the photos, but there is a French dart that extends to the lace inset.

I was inspired by a dress I saw on Pinterest, a bridal gown by Lela Rose called the Lounge, if you are wondering which one specifically. It had beautiful hourglass-shaped seams vertically along the bodice that caught my eye. I didn’t do an exact copy because I wanted to create something more modest and bra-friendly, but the front view is very similar to this dress.


All of the seams except the center back seam were sewn with french seams. I serged the center back seam since I was using an invisible zipper, and there were no sheer details on this seam. I hemmed the bottom of the dress with a blind hem stitch, and the sleeves were cut along the scalloped selvage edge of the lace instead of hemming them. The lace insets at the waist were underlined with two layers of beige light-weight powermesh. The extra support from the powermesh gives a little more compression in the waist area than the lace by itself.

Self drafted evening dress

Self drafted evening formal dress drafting lace
I used Telio Jockey ponte knit fabric, and it is a rayon/nylon/Lycra blend. It is very soft, has great recovery, and the fabric provides a little smoothing. So, no spanx needed. YAY! The lace fabric was from an Etsy shop called LaceFabric, and this specific one is the Black Beauty Colleen Lace. It is a 4-way stretch lace with 3D embroidery to mimic alençon lace. One of the selvages has a scalloped edge.
Just one more look…

Drafted dress evening formal
Have you tried drafting patterns for knit fabrics? How did it go? If you used a book, can you tell me which one you used?

Fabulous photography courtesy of Rheney Dearstyne.

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New Activewear

I used the Watson Bra pattern by Cloth Habit and the Virginia Legging pattern by Megan Neilsen to make a new activewear set! I plan to wear this set to yoga classes along with a shirt, but here are some photos to show off my handiwork.

Cloth habit Watson bra Virginia leggings Megan Nielsen

The Virginia Leggings came together quickly because there are only three pattern pieces. I made the high-waisted version in under an hour. I used a serger for all steps of construction, did a roll hem on my serger instead of hemming with a zig-zag stitch. I have my eye on a coverstitch machine (Bernina L 220), and I plan to hem them with a coverstitch eventually.

Virginia leggings Megan Nielsen

The fabric is a kaleidoscope-printed nylon/lycra fabric purchased two years ago from thefabricfairy.com. Bra notions were purchased from Erin at The Emerald Studio on Etsy, and of great quality! The elastic I purchased, both picot edge and strapping, has better recovery than what is typical on RTW bras. And, I hope you follow Erin’s lingerie sewing blog, Emerald Erin, or you are missing out! She always has some gorgeous bra eye candy! And, she is hosting a giveaway right now that ends Sunday!

I modified the watson pattern by using swimwear elastic on the neckline to make it look a little more like a sports bra than a bralette. I still used picot elastic on the hem and underarm though. I also used two layers of fabric in the cups for some extra compression since I’ll be wearing this to workout.

Dad, if you are reading this, you might want to stop reading now because I am going to talk about bra sizing (your welcome). Yes, he reads my sewing blog, and yes, he IS the best dad ever!

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First, let me say thank you to the ladies that have reviewed this pattern before me. Thank you for having the courage to post the bra selfies of the projects that didn’t fit (or any bra projects at all for that matter)! Your reviews with pics saved me so much time by helping me find the correct size to make! I am sharing the following information to “pay it forward” to other sewists who may share my same measurements.

Like others that have made the watson, sewing the bra in my RTW size fits better than the size the pattern recommended based on my measurements. Cloth habit Watson bra Also, the band size seems to run a little small. First off, I am always a 32 band size (and always on the tightest set of hooks) and either a C or D cup in RTW, but the Cloth Habit sizing guide suggested I should make a 30D.
Since others said the band ran small, I made the 32 band size, and still, it is very snug. The middle row is ok for working out, but I use the loosest hooks when I am going to be wearing it for more than an hour. On me, the front cradle piece is not long enough, so the side seams are too far forward as demonstrated by my lovely dress form. The side seams on the bra should line up with the side seam on my dress form. The I think once I add 3/8″ to each side of the front cradle piece, the back will close with more wiggle-room (literally). For the cup sizing, I was torn on what cup size to make so I printed out the pattern pieces for the front cradle in the 32C and the 32D, glued them to card stock and held the stiff pattern up to myself like I was fitting underwires for a wired bra. If you decide to do this, keep in mind the 1/4″ seam allowance is present and the diameter of the cups will be slightly narrower on the pattern than the finished bra.

Besides the sizing dilemma, it is a really great pattern and worth tweaking until you get it right!    It is as jiggle-proof as a sports bra but with more definition than the “sports bra uniboob” look. Ha! I am eager to make another Watson Bra with only one layer of fabric in the cups to see if there is a dramatic difference in support.

 

Virginia leggings Watson bra cloth habit Megan Nielsen

And a big thank you to my friend Rheney for taking these photos!

Happy sewing and namaste!

Corded Buttonhole Tutorial

I haven’t seen other sewists using corded buttonholes, so I’m here to share a simple technique that will give you better buttonholes on tricky fabrics! I used this technique on my esme cardigan in my last blog post!

Corded buttonholes can be used for practical reasons as it provides extra stabilization when used with interfacing on fabrics like bouclé, sweater knits, and stretch wovens. It also works great on buttonholes that are extra long. Long buttonholes tend to sag open on some fabric creating the “duck lip” look. Duck lips look just as bad on buttonholes as they do in selfies!

Corded buttonholes can also be used for purely aesthetic reasons too. Regular buttonhole stitching can disappear on thick fabrics, but corded buttonholes can create 3D stitching that looks great on denim, corduroy, suiting, and coating fabrics.

It is essential that you use interfacing appropriate for your fabric. If you are working with a knit fabric, you must use a fusible tricot interfacing so the interfacing stretches with the fabric. For woven fabrics, I prefer to use a woven fusible as opposed to non-woven, but this is more of a personal preference. I recommend using perle (also called pearl) cotton for the cord. It is available in many colors so you can match your thread, and it is heavily twisted and will not separate unlike embroidery floss. I used size 5 DMC brand. Size 5 is about the largest you could use for this application. If you are sewing a corded buttonhole in a thinner fabric and do not want a 3D look, you can use buttonhole twist thread for stability without a difference in appearance.

Here is how I make corded buttonholes on my Bernina. Consult your machine’s manual for for tips using your machine.

1. Mark the buttonhole placement, and apply the interfacing to the wrong side of the fabric according to the manufacturer’s directions.

2. Set up your machine for a buttonhole stitch. Lower the needle of your machine into the fabric, but don’t lower the presser foot yet.

3. Cut about eight inches of  cord. Loop the cord over the front middle “toe” of the foot and bring the cord ends under the foot and hold them in your left hand behind the presser foot.  The needle will be inbetween the threads. (Some buttonhole feet have a prong in the back for cording. In this case, you would loop the cord over the back prong and hold the ends in front of the presser foot.)

Sewing a corded buttonhole Bernina presser foot
4. Lower the presser foot. Double check that the cord is on either side of the needle. The cord needs to be close to the needle so the cord will be within the zig-zag stitch when the buttonhole is stitched.

Corded buttonhole tutorial Bernina presser foot
5. Stitch the buttonhole, and loosely hold onto the cord. The cord will slide through your fingers as the buttonhole is being stitched. Go slowly, and make sure the cord doesn’t slip out of place.

6. Pull the loose ends of the cord to get rid of the loop. Thread both the cord ends through a hand sewing needle with a large eye, and insert the needle at the base of the buttonhole pulling the extra cord to the wrong side of the fabric. Tie a knot, and trim the ends. You are done!

Sewing corded buttonhole tutorial

Here is a side by side comparison of a corded buttonhole (bottom) and a regular buttonhole (top) on coated cotton canvas fabric.

Sewing corded buttonhole buttonholes tutorial
Here is another comparison with very long buttonholes on a heavy knit fabric. The corded buttonhole is on the left.

Sewing corded buttonholes in knit fabric
Here is another picture after the buttonholes were cut open and the fabric was stretched a bit to simulate wear. See how the corded buttonhole lays flat and doesn’t stretch out?

Sewing corded buttonholes in knit fabric
Have you ever tried corded buttonholes in the past? Are you going to use this technique on a future project? Have any questions? Let me know in the comments!

Esme Cardigan

The Esme Cardigan is a fun, fashion-forward cardigan pattern perfect for medium or heavyweight knit fabrics with minimal stretch. The oversized look and dropped shoulder seams are right on-trend, and this would be a great project for beginners!

Named esme cardigan

The cardigan is made with a black and white metallic boucle knit from Stylish Fabric. Sadly, this fabric is no longer available on their website. I think this cardigan would look best sewn with knits that look more dressy as opposed to casual. Heavily textured fabrics, wool, or wool blend knits would be great options. However, an Esme sewn in a casual cotton sweatshirt jersey or cotton French terry might look more like your grandma’s house coat and less like a chic cardigan. FYI, B&J Fabrics’ website has a huge selection of wool knits and textured novelty knits right now. They are perfect for the Esme. Stylish Fabric still has a few heavier knits in stock too.


My measurements indicated I was a size small by Named’s sizing standards, but I decided to cut out the extra small based on the finished garment measurements. This pattern has a lot of ease!

I made several small changes to this pattern. I shortened the length to hit just above the knee, and also made a slight high-low hem. The back is 2.5 inches longer than the front. Also, I eliminated the seam that originally joined the upper and lower front pieces, and I changed the pocket style from in-seam pockets to welt pockets. This particular Named PDF pattern has seam allowance and stitching lines marked which made pattern hacking easy.  For the welts, placket and cuffs, I used the wrong side of the fabric, and I love how it turned out! I wish all fabric had a beautiful wrong side!


My pockets are two inches narrower than the original in-seam pockets. I was able to use the same pattern piece for the pocket bag, but I trimmed the sides down to match the new pocket width. Sewing welt pockets in knits uses the same process as inserting welt pockets in woven fabric; just make sure you use interfacing made specifically for knits like a fusible tricot! Use a pressing tool, a clapper, to get a crisp, folded edge on the welt.


I hemmed the cardigan by hand using a catch stitch. It stretches nicely with the knit.


I used corded button holes on this knit for and added stability and because they look amazing on thick fabric. Larger buttonholes tend to appear wavy or saggy on knits after they are cut open even with the appropriate interfacing. The cording also gives the buttonhole more of a 3D look as some buttonhole stitching gets lost in chunky knits.

Esme cardigan named patterns
Come back next week for a tutorial on corded buttonholes! Until then, I’ll be enjoying this early Charleston spring weather.

Waxed Canvas Duffel Bag 

img_6576I almost always sew exclusively for myself, but I’ve felt so generous lately, I’ve decided to make my husband something. I have been wanting to sew with waxed canvas for a while, and the Portside Travel Set by Grainline Studios was the perfect project to try this fabric. I looked at fabric that came pre-waxed, but I elected to wax my own fabric because I found some heavyweight canvas duck cloth and matching quilting cotton for the lining on sale at Joanns. Hardware and cotton webbing were purchased on Etsy.

img_6520I used Otter Wax (purchased on Amazon). In case you are wondering, Otter Wax contains beeswax and plant-based ingredients. Not otters! There are several methods you can use to apply the wax. A quick You Tube search on “how to wax fabric” will show you there are other ways to apply the wax successfully without following Otter Wax’s directions.

However, I elected to not follow any of these directions.  I cut out my pattern pieces as usual, and then, I applied the Otter Wax to each piece by rubbing a light coat of wax onto the fabric. Then, I ironed the fabric using a press cloth to protect my iron from getting waxy. Repeat this process until waterproof. 


Towards the end of waxing all of the pieces, the press cloth got saturated with wax and wax ended up getting onto my iron, but it wiped off very easily while the iron was still hot. If you don’t have fabric to use as a press cloth you can apply wax to the right sides of each pattern piece, arrange them wax sides together and then iron.

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Be sure to cover your ironing board unless you want all your clothes to be covered in wax henceforward! I used scraps of duck cloth and it worked great.

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Waxing all three bags used two 2.25oz bars of Otter Wax. After ironing, your pieces are ready to sew immediately. The newly-waxed fabric does not need 24 hours to cure, unlike other methods. I sewed up the bags using a denim needle, and there is no waxy buildup inside my machine or even on the needle!

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img_6579The Portside duffel is huge, and perfect for a weekend-long trip.  Also, the dopp kit (aka toiletry bag) is roomy too (see photo at left). I stuffed 10 pairs of socks in it for the photo!

Both the duffel and the dopp kit are lined with navy and white arrow-print fabric.

Only a few minor modifications were made to the pattern. One, I only used 1.5″ webbing instead of using two sizes, and two, I used a buckle slider instead of two d-rings on the duffel strap.

I am so jealous of my husband’s new luggage set! I need to make one for myself now. In the future, I’ll try lining the dopp kit with oilcloth or vinyl so make-up spills can be wiped up easily. Also, I will make the pouch out of clear vinyl for a TSA-friendly liquids bag!

Maybe I’ll start seeing other Portside Travel Sets at the airport soon! Happy sewing!

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Sequin Party Pants

Usually, the hubs and I go to a black-tie event for NYE, but this year we have plans that require more casual attire. I wanted to be comfortable, yet still festive, so I made some sequin jogger pants!

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I used the Anima Pants pattern from Papercut, but I modified the pattern to include a lining by taping the pocket piece to the leg piece before I cut the lining fabric. img_6355For reference, I made an XS, but next time, I’ll make a full seat adjustment because the bum is a little snug. Also, I decided to leave the cuffs off the bottom because I liked the dressier look.
The pocket lining does not show at all because the pocket opening was interfaced with a 1″ strip of fusible and it was understitched.

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I also thought this style would look awesome with a black velvet or silk satin ribbon going down the side seam like tuxedo pants, but I thought of this too late into the construction process. Maybe next time!

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I bought the rose gold sequin mesh fabric over a year ago from spandex world, and the lining is a sheer, tissue-weight black knit from Joanns. The pocket lining and waistband were cut from scraps from my fabric stash and are a 2-way stretch poly spandex blend. I was planning on using black petersham ribbon for the drawstring, but I haven’t purchased any yet. I wish I would have omitted the buttonholes for the drawstring because I like the pants without it.

This was a relatively quick project, unlike the dress I am drafting now. I can’t wait to share it in a few weeks in the Day and Night Dress Challenge hosted by Elizabeth from Elizabeth Made This. Bloggers create a casual day dress and a black evening dress, and share their results mid-January. For more information, check out Elizabeth’s blog!