Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Wedding Guest Dress: Finalizing Details

Vogue 2745
Last week, I placed one important order and one free and fun order for fabric swatches. To be completely honest, of course both orders were fun...they were for FABRIC!!

I need to finalize fabric for my dress project, Vogue 2745, both view A and B are to be worn this coming June 10. View A will be in Mood Fabrics' Kelly Green silk crepe de chine (above), but the slip could be made from several different fabrics.

Side note, before moving on to Vogue 2745, I was considering making New Look 6244 but with a different slip (all pics of its slip made up looked shapeless and badly fitted, an obvious fault of the drafted pattern). Instead I was going to use Butterick 6031 from my stash, which I wanted to make regardless, but never could find the right fabric. From my last Emma One Sock swatch order I knew the venezia 4-way jersey lining was the ideal fabric but I was not willing to sew a $22 slip, which didn't already include the cost of several yards of two different widths of lace, elastic, and the strap hardware.

However, the pattern suggested tricot and a Google search brought me to Fabric.com and their selection of 40 and 70 denier tricots. While I have now switched to using Vogue 2745, the site provided me with some other suggested fabric possibilities so I ordered a yard of the 70 denier tricot in Oat (will use it for skirt lining) and swatches (8" square!) of a China silk in Silver, charmeuse in Cappuccino, stretch charmeuse in Silver, and a crepe de chine in Purple, all made of polyester.

Results: I love the tricot, the texture is exactly as I expected from the website image. I now wish I had ordered a less neutral color but I can immediately use this as lining for a current skirt. I will definitely order some for use with Butterick 6031 in the future.

70 denier tricky in Oat

The China silk I was sent would not work for the slinky slip I was envisioning but would make crisp garment linings. Both charmeuse swatches were lovely but I preferred the feel of the non-stretch one, the color was gorgeous, and it played off my skin tone very well.

Charmeuse and "China silk"

When ordering the polyester crepe de chine, I had secretly hoped I might use it instead of the far more expensive Mood silk but is not at all the same. This crepe de chine felt more like a simple crepe to me with that spongy pebbled feel, it was the same on both sides, it had no sheen, and was also not opaque. I am 90% sure I received the wrong fabric; however, as you can see above it is dated the day it was packaged and had three separate labels claiming it is crepe de chine. Regardless, it doesn't come in the desired green.

Crepe or crepe de chine, see what I mean?

From Emma One Sock, I ordered swatches of their Emerald silk crepe de chine (since the price is similar to that of Mood), an organic cotton double gauze in Cocoa Dots, a poly rayon sweater knit in Wine, a rayon blend ponte (no poly!) in Charcoal, and finally some 100% silk habotai (China silk) in Teal for comparison to the polyester one coming from Fabric.com.

The silk types in white, the colors both in CDC

Results: The Emma One Sock crepe de chine was nice but not the same as Moods in weight, drape, or sheen. Or perhaps I've just become very fond of my bedraggled little swatch. (It looks that way because I wanted to see how it would change if hand washed. The jury is still out on that.)

Their China silk (100% silk) is obviously superior to the poly one but still drastically different than what I expected. Its soft delicacy intimidated me, no way would I be attempting my slip in that since I have enough work coming with the main dress being silk. In addition, it's price along with fabric for the main dress would cost more than I have ever paid for a RTW dress!

Check out that shimmer!

The ponte was luscious (and will be tested for pilling), the sweater knit lush, and the double gauze not exactly what I expected. Perhaps I need to experience a larger swatch to understand all the web love for it?

UPDATE: After all that, I went a WHOLE other way! In my last post, I mentioned how the slip could be worn as a dress on it's own? Well, I layered my Mood swatch over the cappuccino charmeuse one and decided I didn't want two solid colored bias dresses that I would rarely wear; one because it was silk (duh!) and the other because the color though lovely wouldn't be that practical to wear. Once I started thinking of prints and something that could be worn under the green crepe de chine, two fabrics immediately sprung to mind, inexpensive, locally available, and both of which I could have bought months ago! Two multi-colored polyesters from, of all places, Jo-Ann Fabrics and designs I had been fantasizing over for months but couldn't justify with my existing stash and queue of projects. It just happened they were on sale and I came home with the one that worked with the main dress fabric the most, in a lovely mix of colors which will also influence my choice of accessories.

So, which one do you think I picked?

If you're interested in a peek at the fabrics, my inspirations for the final outfit styling, and the colored(!) shoe possibilities, check out my Wedding Guest Dress Pinterest board.

Surprise! Actually Buying Fabric With a Purpose!

A Change To The Wedding Guest Dress

Images: my own, Jo-Ann Stores, LLC

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

A Change To The Wedding Guest Dress...

A few months ago, I wrote about a dress I wanted to create for my nieces wedding this June. Though I've been thinking about it for a long time nothing has been done! And yes it is now less than 2 months away!


In that time, I changed my mind again on what pattern I wanted to use. That Diane von Furstenberg Dita dress (above) that first caught my attention initially led me to a similar pattern, New Look 6244, that happened to be one I had always liked. I bought it and was prepared to make it. However, just during regular maintenance on my Etsy pattern shop and checking out the competition (not really, just looking at stuff I can't buy) I came across a pattern that REALLY matched the inspiration dress, Vogue 8070 (2003).

Even though it IS an exact match, I realized then that it might not be as flattering as I wished. In the time since I wrote this first post, I changed my desired look from appropriately dressed cute aunt to slinky single. I wanted more 1929 uneven hemlines of the handkerchief, high-low, and asymmetrical variety styled on Hollywood film sirens and less of those with by the average woman. Note: For some great research and images on these go to the witness2fashion blog.

Well, while searching for a specific vintage Vogue evening dress pattern for a stranger on Instagram, I shocked myself by coming across yet another Vogue pattern exhibiting some of the same elements along with those additional va-va-voom points.

I don't really have to say anything, do I? Vogue 2745 (2003) is PERFECT!

Amazingly, it has the same v-neckline, gathered shoulders, bias skirt with inset panels, handkerchief hemline, and a slip to be worn underneath. However, it's still different, the neckline is sleeker with no overlap and a darted bodice, the back is no longer a duplicate of the front and is more open. The slip is the biggest game changer here as it is far more fitted than the one from New Look 6244. While the bodice of that slip was horribly unfitted with no structure to support the bust, this one is darted and is actually self-lined, which will be very appreciated as the dress will need to be worn braless. If created well enough and in the right fabric, the slip could be worn as a dress on its own.

Next steps: Selecting fabric for the slip and starting a muslin.


Images: composite image by @sewandstyle_

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Organic Cotton Plus Culottes - Butterick 6178

Pattern: Butterick 6178 (2016)

Pattern Description: Semi-fitted cropped culottes with waistband, side pockets, and back zipper.

Pattern Sizing: Sizes (14-16-18-20-22) I ultimately chose to make a size 18 according to my measurements.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Exactly!

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes, this pattern is so simple, three pieces, four darts, and a zipper.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I liked the simplicity of the flat front and the sleekness of the pant style, which was needed for the length to work.

Fabric Used: 100% organic cotton 7 oz. twill from Organic Cotton Plus* in Nutmeg 160180T-NUT, Coats & Clark 7" zipper in Cloister Brown 56B, and Gutermann 100% polyester thread in Clove #590.

[This fabric was sent to me by Organic Cotton Plus and has a great feel. I pre-washed it in warm water and while it grew softer it still had a durability and thickness much like denim and would probably make a great pair of jeans or a jacket. However, the fabric arrived off grain and needed correction. More about this fabric and my solution can be found here on my blog.]

Before and After

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: Even though I had checked the finished garment measurements, still wary of the fit, I cut this out in size 20. I basted the pants together on the inside seams and pinned the side seams. I tried them on and of course realized I should have just cut my size! Well, better to be safe than sorry. Hmmmm....

I started the habit of thread tracing all of my darts after marking with chalk for accuracy. It's much easier to stitch over thread than a blurry chalk outline. It also works if I find myself putting aside a project for a day or two (or a week!)

Next came the centered zipper and pocket insertion. There was a point when the instructions say to press all of the pocket seam allowances the same way where I found that just changing the direction of one seam allowed the whole pocket to lay flatter.

There was a part of the instructions I changed. When stitching the crotch seam, they want you to stitch the seam at 5/8" and then again 1/4" away. Because of where this seam sits I felt that was too far away, as the seam wouldn't lay right, so I went back and stitched at 7/8", notched into the seam allowance and then removed the 1/4" stitching.

I easily attached the waistband but unfortunately, there were diagonal lines radiating from the crotch towards the lower hip AND lines from the middle of the waistband out to the mid-hip. I was positively confused about a solution. But I'm not the only one, because I noticed it in photos from other reviews of the pattern.

Trying to figure out the problem, I tried altering the darts by deepening and lengthening the ones in front which eliminated most of the fullness in that area. I extended (by a smaller amount) the back darts too.

The only thing left to do was determine the best possible length. I chose to copy the look from the inspiration photo below and go about four inches above my ankles, which I found looked good with both flats and 2" - 3" heels.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? No, I will probably try another similar pattern in my stash. Unfortunately, the front crotch of this pant is too shallow and I think that was what made the pattern set funny on my body.

Conclusion: This project was fast tracked up my sewing queue when Organic Cotton Plus contacted me for a review; however, I've wanted to make this pattern since seeing Lisa's gorgeous version (above) on the Tessutti blog.

*Though the fabric was provided free in exchange for a review, all opinions are my own. Full review of the fabric can be found here.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Organic Cotton Plus Fabric Review

Checking my email a few months ago, I was ecstatic to see a message from Organic Cotton Plus offering me fabric from their website. They deal in 100% certified organic fabric that meet Global Organic Textile Standards (GOTS). Their range of products include different types of silk, jute, linen, and wool in knit and woven forms. In just their silk category, they offer hemp, "peace" silk, and a hemp/silk blend. They also carry in their online shop "green" laundry detergents, natural horn buttons, and both fiber reactive and vegetable dyes.

After looking through their site I was eager to choose my items; however, I had no idea how hard the decision would be. I found myself taking two days just running through fabric type, quantity, and color scenarios; if I bought two yards of their French terry, could I still afford anything else? However, I could afford four yards of their organic twill but then get just one color or split it between colors? I was also tempted with their peace silk but whatever I made with it would probably only be worn once because of my so-NOT-silk-friendly lifestyle.

I decided to end the indecision by thinking of the patterns already in my stash and what projects I had been wanting to make that were already on my project list. I then compared that list with which fabrics Organic Cotton Plus had to offer that would work with them.

Nutmeg brown and olive green

In the end, I choose two lengths of their 60" (actually 62"!) twill in two colors that are always hard for me to find; a strong green and a rich brown. I was so excited to get my hands on this fabric and in addition, by publishing my review, I would join the likes of Cut Cut Sew, Lladybird, Male Pattern Boldness, and True Bias in sampling Organic Cotton Plus fabrics.

How it arrived.
Unfortunately, both two yard lengths I originally received were off-grain. I contacted the company and they graciously sent another cut length. While better than the first, the new length was also stretched out of grain. Even though I knew in theory how to fix the problem, I took this as a research opportunity and looked through my 20-plus sewing books and found everything I could about straightening fabric grain. Out of all my books, the most detailed and complete instruction was found in my Vogue Sewing Book (c. 1982) on page 132. This was the only one that suggested soaking the fabric to relax the fibers.

Dampened with the selvages pinned together.
I first straightened the crosswise ends of the fabric by cutting into the selvage and pulling a thread across the width. After unsuccessfully trying to stretch the fabric into shape while dry, I decided to block the fabric. I soaked it in warm water, gave it another good stretch on the bias, and pinned the selvages together.

Still wet and coaxed into place.
Then similar to what is done with knitted projects, I laid the fabric flat, stretched, and pressed it into position to dry for a few hours. Before it was completely dry, I steam ironed it while continuing to coax it into place. This corrected the grain.

Ta Da, dried and corrected fabric!
While time-consuming, I am still happy with this fabric, the quality and durability is excellent. It also sews and presses well. However, I strongly feel that the company should do a review their manufacturing process, because somewhere along the way something is pulling their fabric off grain. In all, I received three separate 2-yard lengths from them and all were off-grain. Since I started this blog in 2006, I have been in the habit of checking the grain of every woven fabric before I work with them but many sewists (especially new ones) may not do this and that is were the harm would be.

Rated on a scale of 1 to 5:

Organic Cotton Plus = 4, with suggested due diligence.

Here's a sneak peek of my finished project made with their nutmeg brown 60" twill (#16018OT-NUT), the review is coming up next!