Sunday, June 30, 2013

New Look 6119 -- Pillowcase Dress

This dress was definitely a case of the fabric driving the pattern choice.  This is a purple/gray silky fabric with a ribbon-like texture from Joann Fabrics (you can still order it here).  Normally I don't advocate going out and buying pretty fabrics willy-nilly, BUT if you are drawn to a fabric over and over again on several fabric store visits till you finally buy it even though you don't know what in the world you are going to make with it, well, there are certainly worse things you could do with your money:)

Sooo, after I bought this fabric it took me awhile to figure out what to do with it.  Because the fabric itself is rather complex, I wanted something simple but dramatic.  I thought about Vogue 1240, but it had mostly negative feedback on Pattern Review, and it was maybe a little TOO dramatic to get much wearing time.  But when I saw Barbara (of sewing on the edge) in her pillowcase dress the little wheels in my head started turning.  I did some searching of pillowcase dresses on pinterest and then I bought New Look 6119 to use as my starting point.

I really like this pattern.  I did make just a few changes (you knew that, didn't you?).  I cut a size 14 but added an inch to each side.  I sewed the front panels all the way up but left the keyhole in the back because I wanted to tie a big bow back there.
This is probably a more typical expression for me
Because some of the ribbons in the fabric were sheer, the dress needed a lining but I didn't want to mess up the drape and the "floatiness" of it.   However, I ended up with quite a lot of leftover fabric, and while it is lovely, one project out of it is probably enough.  So I decided to just cut two dresses and layer them on top of each other.  This added a little time, especially since all the seams are French seams (a nice feature of the pattern), but it was worth it.

After making the two dresses, I treated them as one at the neckline, and attached the seam binding to both layers at the underarm (1/2" seam binding) and at the neck (1" double wide seam binding, which I opened out to give me more room).  I used a wider seam binding at the neck than the pattern called for because I wanted the neck tie to be wider and that gave me more room to thread it through.  Fabric for the neck tie was leftover lining from my lace dress.  I cut it 6 inches wide and maybe 90 inches long (as per here) then sewed it in half longways and turned it, then topstitched it.  Ninety inches turned out to be way too long so after I had it made and tried it with the dress, I shortened it.  I wanted to tie the bow in the back and have it be rather large, but I didn't want the tails to be so long that I would sit on them if I sat down.

Here's a lopsided view of the back:
I added a little drama to the hemline by hemming the top layer a couple of inches shorter than the bottom layer.
I need to get some sun on those legs
This is not a dress that can go just anywhere, but so far I have worn it to a wedding that had an outdoor reception and to an art show opening night.  It does have a little bit of "caveman chic" going for it.  But it's fun and comfortable and forgiving, and just the thing for hot summer nights here in Texas.

Sometimes these nights are windy, too:)

Friday, June 28, 2013

Talking about Blogger and iPhoto Again

Kara at The Scarlet Thread 7 asked me a question about uploading pictures from iPhoto.  I was going to send her a lengthy email, but it is so difficult to find any information about this online, and the little I know took me such a long while to cobble together, that I thought there might be other bloggers who find this useful, so I'm putting it here instead.

On blogger, when you are composing a post and you click on the icon to import pictures (just to the right of the Link icon), the "choose files" option shows up at the very top, separate from the other options which are listed in a column on the left.  Click on it.  To find your iPhoto library, scroll down towards the bottom of those options and you will see Media as a category.  Under the Media category is Photos.  Click on that, and that should be your iPhoto library.  You should be able to choose a picture and upload it directly.  That's how I did it for a long time.

HOWEVER, I don't do it that way anymore because in iPhoto there is no way to resize the photo without exporting it, and my pictures were so large it used up all my free space on picasaweb (which is the online site where blogger stores all your blog photos).  You can access your picasaweb online account (which you have if you have a blogger account) by being signed in to your blog and typing in on your search bar at the top.  Also, your picasaweb sign in and password are the same as your blog.  If you get on your picasaweb site and scroll to the bottom, it should tell you what percentage of your space you have used up.  If you are not resizing your photos, it's probably a lot.

This is what I do now.  I download my photos from my camera into iPhoto.  I do any editing of the photos there in iPhoto.  I also created albums for my blog photos in iPhoto.  I use the name of my blog plus the year (i.e, collectedyarns2012).  I put my edited photos for my blog into the afore-mentioned album. Then, WHILE I AM IN THAT ALBUM,  I export any photos I'm about to use in a particular blog post.  To do this, I click on a photo I want to use in my blog post.  Next, I look on the top bar and see the word "FILE".  Look underneath "FILE" and you should see "Export."  Click on that.  My box says Kind:  JPEG,  Quality:  Medium.  I leave those alone and where it says "Size" I choose Medium.
Under file name I choose album name with number, and then I click "export."

At that point your resized photo should be sent to a file on your computer under "Pictures."  Initially you will have to name your file.  My picture file name corresponds to my iPhoto library album name except I add the word "resized" (collectedyarns2012(resized), for example).  I download each photo this way, and I manually change the number at the end of the photo name so that I keep going within that file 1...2....3....4....5 etc.

THEN, when I'm ready to write a new post, I go into my blogger dashboard and download my photos. I still click "choose files".  On the left hand size, under Favorites I click on Pictures.  My file "collected yarns2012(resized)" should come up.  I click on it.  There are different ways to look at the photos, but when I find the one(s) I want, I click on them, hit the "choose" button, and they are downloaded into the blog post.  Again, I do this one photo at a time.

All this sounds complicated, but after a couple of times it will go really quickly.  As an added bonus, you blog photos will be much better organized.

Also, there is a way to change the size of photos while you are in picasaweb.  Please see my earlier post, especially the comments from VirginiaC, for more information.  I found this link helpful as well.  Also, Amazon has some books for iPhoto that might be helpful, although I have not yet forked over the money to try any of them.  If you are Mac user and are close enough to a Mac store, they do offer tutorials on iPhoto.  I have not yet availed myself of this but it probably could have saved me a lot of headaches.

I make no claims to be anything other than a rank amateur, but I will try to answer any questions you may have.  And if you have anything helpful to add, please do so.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Butterick 5706 Take Two -- Metallic Knit Dress

This is the second time I have made Butterick 5706.  The first time I made view D, a lace dress which you can see here.  This time I made view A, a basic shift with cap sleeves.


The fabric is a metallic knit purchased from Joann Fabrics.  It is lined with a sheer chocolate brown knit lining fabric from Golden D'Or Fabrics in Dallas.

The pattern is actually for wovens, so I made a few changes to make it work for knits.  One, I left out the back zipper and simply cut the back pieces on the fold (which way simplified construction).  Two, I cut a size smaller than my usual (a 12 instead of a 14).  However, I still added an inch to the side pieces to keep the proportions the same.

The only other change I made was to add a little width to the cap sleeves because I didn't want them to be tight.  I did this by splitting the sleeve pattern up the middle up to the seam line and spreading the sleeve somewhere between 1/2 inch and 1 inch, then redrawing the pattern.  That way the place the sleeves attach remained unaltered so that no actual seams had to be changed.

Butterick 5706 is a good basic pattern.  It has a neckline that is flattering but not immodest.  Depending on which view you choose and what kind of fabrics you use, the look of the dress can really be changed up.  This particular dress is an easy dress -- easy to make, easy to wear, easy to care for.

Also, did you see my new shoes?  They are Dr. Scholls wedges on clearance at DSW.  They are comfortable and fun to wear.  Sewing my own clothes is motivating me to update other parts of my wardrobe, too:)

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Simplicity 2362 -- Halter (or Not) Dress

While I was busy working on my dress and jacket, my daughter was busy working on a dress of her own.  She wanted a halter sundress, and I had a pattern that fit the bill:  Simplicity 2362.  (This pattern is now out of print, but Simplicity 1800 Amazing Fit pattern has a very similar look.)  She made her usual size 10, but since this dress is not fitted around the shoulders and the bodice needs to fit snugly, she probably could have made an 8.

We loved the lines of this dress and we really loved the big pockets!

She chose a cherry quilting cotton for the dress, and lined it in red gingham.  Both fabrics were from Joann Fabrics.  (Another plus for this pattern -- it's perfect for all those cute quilting cottons!)  Here's a view of the back.

My daughter did a great job.  There were lots of details on this dress, the bodice was pleated and lined, pockets, etc.  She did all this herself.  The only part I helped her with was the zipper, and that's because it was a lapped zipper, which neither she nor I had ever done before.  However, the directions were good and it all turned out.
Here's a closer look at the bodice pleating:
And the back zipper (I've pulled it back a bit so you can see we used a red metal vintage zipper I had in my stash:)  Also, here you can see the cute lining (sorry for the slight blur).

Those wonderful pockets:
Those pockets proved to be a bit problematic.  If you have pockets like that you WILL put your hands in them, and because this is a halter dress, it tends to pull the back down (despite having elastic in the back and despite making it as tight as possible).  The first time my daughter wore this we safety-pinned the back of the dress to her undergarments as a last resort.  However, for the long term that was unsatisfactory, so since these pictures were taken we have converted the dress from a halter to a sundress by sewing the straps down to the back.  Don't worry -- it's still cute:)

Now that the dress is done, this is how my daughter feels about it:
I feel the same way, too, very proud of her!

Thursday, June 6, 2013


I'm not really sure what I'm doing here, but you can now follow my blog on bloglovin here:
 <a href="">Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>

I will make a button and put it on the sidebar once I figure out how.

....There, that wasn't so hard:)

Saturday, June 1, 2013

McCalls 6709 -- Bright Pink Jacket

BeaJay hit the nail on the head when she commented on my previous post "sometimes we get disappointed because we picture something else in our mind."  I had an idea in my head about that boucle sheath dress.  I also had an idea that I wanted a long spring coat to wear over it (remember, I originally thought of this as an Easter dress).  

So, I went on the hunt for a coordinating fabric.  I ended up with a bubble gum pink cotton (twill or pique) from Hancock Fabrics' clearance section.  Then I looked for a pattern.  I was looking for a longer length unlined jacket, and found McCalls 6709.  There were no reviews of it online, but I liked the simplicity of it and decided to give it a try.  (When looking at patterns, always look at the line drawings.  The cover photos or drawings may or may not be appealing, but the line drawings give you a much better idea of the actual construction).

I made view C, which is the longer length, with three-quarter length sleeves and inseam pockets.  Again I cut a 14 and added an inch to the side front and side back pieces, tapering out from under the arm.  I don't know what it was about this pattern, but it was a pleasure to sew!  I think this is the first time I've used a Palmer/Pletsch pattern, but if they're all this great, it won't be the last.

With the lapels folded back
Almost all the seams are some variation on princess seams.  I will warn you that there is not a lot of information in the pattern on how to sew those.  For that I referred to my old but trusty Singer Sewing Essentials (the link is to the newer version:  everybody needs to have some similar type of reference book on hand; I still refer to mine quite often).  Because the jacket is unlined, the seams needed finishing, which I did by sewing a line of stitching in the seam allowance and then pinking the seams.

The pattern has raglan sleeves with shoulder pads, which I made removeable by sewing velcro to the shoulder seams and to the top of the shoulder pads.  But after I finished the jacket I decided I didn't really need them; my shoulders are broad enough:)

With the lapels up
The back features a nice pleat.
As I said previously, in my mind I was designing an outfit for Easter, but by the time I finished this dress/jacket combo it was Mother's Day.  I haven't had the chance to wear the jacket yet because it's already too hot here.  I also would not necessarily have made it bright pink except I was making it specifically to go with the boucle dress.  I hope I can find some other ways to wear it as well.

But.....I love this pattern.  It has a very minimalist look, and like I said before, was a pleasure to sew.  When the right fabric jumps out at me, I hope to make it again.