Friday, June 23, 2023

À la Carmen Miranda

Well, I finally got through the photos of this dress, and it only took me two whole months.  Yikes.  I keep thinking that I will do better with keeping up with my projects, but time continues to get away from me.

This cotton print is completely over the top, so when it came to choosing a pattern, I figured, why not go all out!

And while I did not expect to do so, I ended up adding a massive petticoat underneath the tiered skirt . . . because, go big, or go home, I say!

Since I thought that just a dress made entirely of an extremely busy print wasn't saying quite enough, I made a matching hair bow and added a pair of ridiculously cute strawberry earrings.

All I can say is, the print made me do it.

I did restrain myself when it came to the shoes because the red pair that I first tried on just seemed like a bit too much.  Ha!  But now I'm thinking that I just may have to wear them the next time I take this dress out for the day.

This is one of those designs where the straps/ties may be worn in a variety of ways.  I do love the way they look crossed in the back, but I may also have to try out the one shoulder drape with the other half of the bodice worn strapless at some point.

Speaking of which, the one alteration I forgot about was the straps.  I have been lengthening bodice pieces for what feels like an eternity, but I somehow failed to think about the fact that those straps have to traverse the torso in order to get tied around the waist.  Whoops.

The slightly short straps don't make the dress unwearable, but I do wish I had at least an inch or two more to wrap and tie in place.

I am slightly tempted to make another version with alternating prints as seen on the pattern illustration, but for now, I am working through other sewing projects that have been on the back burner.  And I will keep an eye out for a suitable contrasting print.

But that is not to say that another tiered skirt is not in my future.  I could do without all that gathering, but they are so much fun to wear!

Dress:  Made by me, McCalls 8280
Shoes:  Banana Republic
Earrings:  Etsy

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Dark Wash Denim

If I had to choose a ready to wear item in my closet that gets the most wear, it would be a gored denim skirt from the late 1980s or early 1990s.  It was my Mom's skirt, but after wearing it as a costume in a play approximately 20 year ago, it ended up in my closet.  It now gets a fair amount of play during the winter months on days when I really don't feel like getting dressed but still want to look put together.

I also rediscovered this Hollyburn Skirt in the last couple of months, and decided that adding another classic denim skirt to the wardrobe was a good idea.  This 100% cotton denim was found at JoAnn Fabrics, and I really liked the color and weight of it, so it came home with me.  And since I love every version of Simplicity 8458 that I have already made, I decided that I could always use another.

It isn't the heaviest denim that I have ever encountered, but it isn't lightweight, either, so a few tests were in order to figure out exactly what I was going to do with the seam finishes.  After playing around with some scraps, it was time to get started.

I didn't really want to do a full on felled seam, but I did want to add some kind of top stitching to control the seam allowances and make it look more like a typical denim garment.

Instead of pressing the seams open, I pressed them to one side, and finished the edges with seam binding.

Using an edge stitch foot, I stitched a line of top-stitching thread (regular thread in the bobbin) right next to the seam.  It's an understated blue thread that blends in with the fabric, but I like the texture that it adds.  

Perhaps there will be contrasting stitching on another denim project in the future, but for now, I'm taking baby steps towards getting comfortable with top stitching!

The one exception to this finish was the center back seam where the zipper is installed.  This seam was pressed open.

Both edges were finished with seam binding, and the zipper was installed.

To continue the theme of top stitching consistent with the zipper, I continued a line all the way down both sides of the center back seam.

This wax is one of my favorite notions.  It disappears under a bit of steam, but makes an easy to see mark on darker fabrics.

The zipper itself went in easily.  

Hooray for stable fabrics!

The skirt was placed on the dress form to see if any of the bias was going to drop.  I was doubtful that it would, but better safe than sorry.

And now it was time for a waistband.

I decided to go for a basic waistband made from a single rectangle of fabric.  Perhaps a boring choice, but I've done so many shaped waistbands lately, that I decided to change it up for this skirt.

Fusible interfacing continues to give me grief, but there isn't much of this kind left, so I continue to use it and get frustrated.

I had assumed that a double layer of mid weight twill and interfacing would be sturdy, but once I had stitched that piece to the skirt, I decided that I would be happier with the addition of a few pieces of boning to make sure the waistband doesn't fold.  And it would keep that interfacing in place!

It is infinitely easier to install boning channels in a single piece of flat fabric, so I made more work for myself at this stage of the project, but it is what it is.

This means that I had to rotate an entire garment through the sewing machine; slightly aggravating, but not impossible.

This has become something I do on most of my waistbands and I find that it makes a huge difference.  

And, of course, I added two ribbon hangers.  I will do just about anything to avoid skirt hangers in my closet!

I also added some top stitching to the waistband to keep things consistent.

I was unsure whether or not my machine was going to like all of those layers, but it did just fine.

The other issue that I thought might cause me some grief was the hemline.  I trimmed away the majority of the seam allowance before folding up the hem.

Again with the top stitching!

It was questionable whether or not my machine was going to like the multiple layers of denim at the seamlines, even with some of the bulk removed, but I was going to try!

And thankfully, there were no broken needles involved.  The hump jumper was absolutely utilized, but other than that, the hemline stitching went swimmingly.

Thank goodness for small favors!

I think that many of the details will be lost in the dark colored denim, but I will know that they exist.

Now I have another classic denim skirt in my wardrobe.  

And I am very pleased with my new addition; I suspect this one will get a lot of wear.

Friday, June 9, 2023

Wardrobe Basics

Last year I found a pink cotton twill at JoAnn Fabrics and knew that it would make a fabulous circle skirt. But time got away from me, and it seemed silly to make a pink cotton skirt as the weather became cold and wet, so I put the yardage away.

This year, I was determined to get around to it.  I have made the Stanwyck Skirt a number of times, and it was an obvious choice because I wear my gored circle skirt almost constantly.  The only real decision to make was what kind of waistband to use, and whether or not to add pockets.

I prefer more of a tea length skirt these days, so (as with my other versions) I added a significant amount of length to the skirt pieces.

I debated whether or not to use an invisible zipper or my standard lapped zipper application.  In the end, I decided that it was time to brush up on installing an invisible zipper since I haven't done one in a while.  

I do have an invisible zipper foot, but I prefer to baste the zipper tapes into place before hand stitching them to the garment.  I find that I get a better finish if I use this technique.

Although I normally wait to finish the raw edges until after the seam is stitched, I decided to try applying seam binding to the raw edges of the center back seams before inserting the zipper.

And, as luck would have it, the raw edge played nicely and didn't stretch out very much at all.

Just as a note, I find it helpful to work with a zipper that is longer than the actual zipper opening.  This is especially important with an invisible zipper because the coils need to be pulled back in order to stitch the tapes down, and that is much easier along the length of the zipper, instead of fighting with the closed ends.  

So if you don't have an invisible zipper foot, go ahead and install it by hand!

And here is the finished zipper.

At which point, I stitched all of the skirt gores together and finished those edges.

Next up was the waistband.  I decided that a shaped waistband would be the right choice for this skirt.

As with any waistband that is more than an inch wide when finished, I add boning to help keep the shape of the waistband.

It doesn't require that many extra steps, and it makes the finished garment look and wear so much better.

The trick, I feel, is to make those pieces of plastic boning short enough so that they do not poke into the seam allowances and/or the body.

If looking in my closet is any indication, tea length skirts are becoming a favorite style of mine.  I have quite a few prints, but the solids tend to be dark in tone, so I was very happy to find a mid-weight fabric in a lighter color that matches quite a few of my blouses.

And, of course, don't forget about those ribbon hangers!

For whatever reason, I didn't forget this step this time around, but it's something that often slips my mind until I am sewing the waistband lining closed. 

But wait, lest you think that I somehow got out of the most frustrating part of the process in finishing a circle skirt, I did not.  Waiting for the bias to drop, and marking and trimming the hemline so that it is even is, without a doubt, my least favorite sewing activity.

I am not sure I will ever enjoy this part of the process, but no one else is going to do it for me, so I am stuck with it.

For the hem, I folded the raw edge twice and hand stitched it into place.  The fabric is almost too thick for this treatment, but I decided to give it a try anyway.

The hem is perhaps more obvious than it should be, but I don't hate it.  So for now, I am leaving it as-is.  I'm not really sure what Blue's opinion on the subject is, but he was definitely interested in checking it out.

For one last bit of finishing, I added two pairs of hook & bars at the center back waistband.  

And that's a wrap!  The only question is, how did I go so long without having a pink circle skirt in my life?!