Bits, bobs, and busts…

betzina-v2-1

A little catch-up on things I’ve been making, but haven’t blogged. Some are repeats and some are just the normal flow of muslins and messes!

The first one, above, is a second version of Vogue 1297, the Sandra Betzina Lagenlook knit dress (first one here). I love this. The fabric is from Girl Charlee – it’s a lightweight (7 oz) cotton/rayon/lycra blend. And it has all my favorite places to visit! The ladies at JoAnn’s were very complimentary and put my ‘business card’ on their bulletin board. I was so surprised – that really felt good.

Another repeat, this time of the StyleArc Toni Designer Dress. As with my first version, I used rayon crepe from Fabric Mart. The only change is a slight extension of the sleeve, to hide a bit more of my ancient upper arms… Great pattern.

sa-toni-v2

Turning to follow-ups on recent adventures, the Weird Science pants (Vogue 1453) really did make nice PJ bottoms, once I removed the ankle pleats. I added a topper based on the Wiksten tank. Both are in a very lightweight rayon/spandex French terry from Fabric.com – perfect for cool weather.

pj1

I continued to work on my Lagenlook cardigan, my attempt to copy McCalls 6168. Here’s my first version…

cocos-lagenlook-cardi

And I think I ruined it! I raised the center front and back a couple inches, which deepened the side detail. But I like my original much better, and plan to make another in ponte di roma (have you seen the beautiful and affordable new pontes at Cali Fabrics?).

cardi-final

Not everything is a repeat. I also tried out a new pattern, the Frankie Dress from Tessuti Fabrics. It looks so cute in their version – fresh and easy to wear. It’s also very similar to about 4 other patterns I already have, but it’s fun to sew something new. This time I knew I would get a hand-drawn pattern, because it’s my 3rd Tessuti acquisition. Yes, the clumsy line art below is a precursor of the pattern.

frankie-line-art

I used a grey and brown cotton/rayon/poly jersey from Girl Charlee, a nice weight at 7 oz. I don’t like the color combo very much, so it was a good choice for a muslin. The only change I made (kind of major, really) was redraft the entire bodice and sleeve using a pattern that fits me well. Tessuti’s armscyes are small, and the sleeves are narrow. And I don’t care for the high boat neck in the pattern. So I guess I used the skirt!

Scary pic follows. Well, it scares me. This is the ‘long’ length from the pattern.

frankie-1

Just awful. Out of curiosity I pinned the front up to the knee, and it’s much much better. But I wasn’t in love.

frankie-2

So I cut it! It was a great opportunity to further my Lagenlook-drafting skills. I have absolutely no bottoms that match this top, so black it is. I was actually a little happier than I look in this pic.

frankie-final

Parting shot: Ms. Crab Spider has been busy in the guava tree again, this time after some very strong storms that really cleaned out the trees. Her web was so pretty with the late afternoon sun shining through her home.

spiderweb

It’s almost the weekend – I hope it’s safe and peaceful for all. I’ll be finishing a quilt project, I’ve been cold in this chilly Florida weather. Such a wuss…

Bye for now! Coco

Re-purposing a Tessuti Mandy Tee…

A short Saturday post to share a ‘save’…

When I was on my Tessuti Mandy Tee kick back in March, I made one that didn’t work out at all. The problem was that the fabric – a white cotton spandex – was just too thick. And being solid white, the tee was overwhelming – I looked like I was being worn, not the other way around.

No pics of that, it was just not a good moment. And I tossed the tee in the bin by my sewing table.

I do that a lot! and then retrieve the offending garment later. So I pulled out the tee, pulled off all the loose threads, and hung it up to age.

Earlier this week I had one of those great ah-ha moments – how about cropping it?

I’ve had an ongoing issue with my knit maxi skirts, because I haven’t found a good top for them. I’ve even considered letting them go. I looked at lots of ideas on Pinterest, but they really came down to just a few approaches: A slim tank top, worn out or in, a short chunky sweater, and/or a jeans jacket. I don’t do any of that…but this works great.

I cut the front to fall just below my waist and drew a lower hem in the back. The width of the Mandy gives it a nice swing. Pretty neat.

Upper left side, my vanda orchid is blooming!
Other happenings…I was distressed to find a duck egg partly buried in my front yard late yesterday, along with the likely digging tool.  
While my house is just a hop and a skip from a lake full of ducks and turtles and various other water creatures, they don’t usually nest in my yard, much less in the middle of the lawn. And we don’t have foxes (which will carry and bury an egg for later retrieval). I’m sure someone took it from a nest, felt bad about it, and tried to bury the evidence. I checked online, there was nothing I could do to save it. 
More cheerful, here’s a pic of one of the turtles, a Florida soft-shell. She was huge – about 4 feet from her nose to the back of her shell. While she crossed the street from one lake to the next, I had time to get my camera from the house and still return in time to take her photo. Lovely lady. 
I hope everyone is enjoying a nice weekend – bye for now! Coco

Managing Mandy the Boat Tee…

Managing Mandy… I ran across some pics of the Tessuti Mandy Boat Tee on Flickr a few days ago and got curious. It’s a free download and apparently enjoys some popularity. It also looks very similar to the Grainline Studio Hemlock Tee (also gratis), so I decided to give it a try.

I’ve only purchased one Tessuti pattern, the Gabby dress, expensive at $10 for the PDF version, and I was surprised by the hand-drawn pattern and poor drafting. I basically redrafted the whole thing and decided not to buy any more of their patterns.
But the Mandy is free – no pain no gain. A look at the line art:

I’m not picking on them, but it’s invited. The pattern says the bust width is 58″ (148 cm) – after flat measuring 3 times, I come up with 52″ at the bustline, drawn through a bust apex at 10.5″ down from the shoulder. At the armhole the width is 54″. Now, that’s a big difference.

My first version was a wipe-out. The boatneck was uncomfortably high, the back and front side edges didn’t align well, and I could barely get the sleeve on my arms. But that’s the purpose of a muslin.

A couple more pics of my remake of the Mandy, then on to sewing notes:

Fabric – poly/cotton/lycra from Fabric Mart

Aaack – what a smug look! not intended…
Sewing notes – This is a one-size-fits-all pattern, so I did a little fitting before I drafted my pattern:
  •  Decreased the bustline width to 46″:
  1. Removed 1″ at CB and CF (1/2″ at the fold line).
  2. Removed an additional 4″ (1″ each side of CF and CB, midway down the shoulder).
  •   Added 6″ to the body length, back and front, using the lengthen/shorten line on the pattern.
  •  Tweaked the sleeve:
  1. Removed 2″ from the length of the sleeve. 
  2. Added 1/4″ to each sleeve side seam. The resulting bicep width is 13″.
  3. On the body, lowered the armscye by 1/4″ to fit the new sleeve.
  
For my second/current version, I redrew the neckline using the scoop neck on the Hemlock tee. Much more comfortable.
I’m super happy with my Mandy!
Right after taking these pics, I wore this outfit to an appointment, styled with a favorite Ora Delphine hobo bag – I’m so prissy…
Bye for now! Coco

The Tessuti Gabby Dress and rose petals

My final version of the Tessuti Gabby dress, which I used in my pursuit of a 60’s-style tent dress.

Source: fashion.ekstraks.com

Sewing notes – I drafted size Medium (I’m 5’7″, 37″ bust, 42″ hip), and altered the pattern to be sleeveless:
  • Added 3″ to the length, and marked a 1 1/8″ hem allowance. 
  • Trimmed 5/8″ from the side seams, beginning at the top edge and curing quickly into the existing seamline about 9″ below the start point. It’s important to keep the fast flare of the dress.
  • Trimmed the seam allowance from the front neckline to make it a little deeper and more narrow at the shoulder.  
    • Lowered the back neckline 3/4″ at center back. Redrew the back neckline with a curve from shoulder to CB (it was almost straight across, shoulder to shoulder).
    • Made 2 shallow chest adjustments:

              – Moved the center front, which is cut on the fold,  1/4″ past the fold at the top edge and cured the center line.

              – Marked and flattened a 3/8″ dart in lower side of the neckline on both sides.
    • Changes for the sleeveless styling:

              – Shortened the shoulder seams at the armhole edge by 1″. 

              – Cured down the front and back armhole edge to within about 1 1/2″ of the bottom edge.

              – Scooped more curve into the armhole edge on both sides.

    Fabric: Red Packed Roses cotton calico, JoAnns

    Due to it’s volume, a tent dress can look like a sea of fabric. To counter, I used contrast fabric for the armhole and neckline bindings, and added 1-piece, topstitched pockets ( love pockets).

    These pocket are really easy to do and are great for full dresses and skirts. I looked everywhere for a tutorial to share, but no luck. So at the end of this post I’ve put a jump to a little more on this pocket.

    Here’s the muslin that tried my patience ( Fussy Post) It’s complete, very wearable, and  modeled here by Emile. I’ll admit that I’m not fond of it, and it will go with donations at year-end.
    Cream Song Birds from Timeless Treasures, from Hancocks of Paducah
                     

    Since Emile is with us, here’s a view of the neckline binding. I start by attaching the binding on the inside. Then I turn it over the neckline edge and finish it on the outside. I do the same thing with armhole bindings. This technique doesn’t leave any little threads or stitched folds that can irritate my skin. 

    In the end, I’m glad I stayed with the project, it leaves me with a good sloper for this dress style.

    Ciao! Coco

    The pocket I used,

    The pockets I drew for this dress are a little ‘fatter’ than my usual in-seam pockets, because I think the topstitching looks nicer with a fat pocket. I started with a ‘normal’ in-seam pocket to get the right proportions and so on:

    • Cut 2 pocket pieces from your fabric. If you’re using scraps, be sure to cut a left and a right pocket! And cut 2 topstitching templates from tracing paper. 
    • Decide where you will place the pockets. I used a scientific sewist method: I put on my muslin, which has no pockets, and played with the pattern tissue on the outside until it felt and looked right 🙂 Mine open 10″ below the armhole edge of the dress. 
    • Mark the pocket opening on the seam allowance of the dress front and back.
    • On the dress front, finish the edge of the pocket opening area. I used a Hong Kong finish that matches the neck and armhole binding. I lightly hand-stitched the edge in place.

    The front edge of the pocket with the Hong Kong finish.
    • Place the pockets on the dress back, right sides together. Stitch together along the seam line. Turn the pockets outward.
    • Pin the dress front and back right sides together. Stitch the seams above and below the pocket opening. 
    • On the inside, press the pocket over the front of the dress.

    This is post-topstitching. But you can see how the pocket turns away from the seamline and over the front.

    • On the outside front, topstitch the pocket in place, using the tracing paper template as a guideline. And tear away the paper. For some reason, this is really satisfying. Kind of like popping bubble wrap.

    Please press and set your stitches all the way through this…
    Happy to help with any questions! cocos.loft@gmail.com

    Fussy post – Gabby Dress in progress

    I’m not a whinger at heart. And I don’t like to be negative in my blog posts – sewing is a happy pastime for me. But the Gabby Dress pattern from Tessuti is making me grind my teeth! So I’m doing an interim moan post. That way my final post will be littered with my usual rose petals.

    The mystery tour really begins with the decision to buy the pattern. I’ve been thinking about tent dresses lately, and the Gabby dress sorta, kinda looks like a tent dress. I’ve looked at lots of vintage ’70s patterns, but I kept coming back to this one.

    I like to support indie designers in general, but there’s always a compromise.

    • For instance – Is it really a tent dress? Tessuti doesn’t provide any line art for the Gabby. Not anywhere. And all their pics of it are in dark fabrics on models in poses that just don’t show the dress lines. aarrggh. 
    • It’s a PDF – Tessuti says to use an A4 printer (that’s not really a printer type, it’s a paper type, but I’m being picky). Most PDF patterns have enough margin to print on both A4 and letter size paper. But Tessuti’s requirement made me wonder if their pattern printed all the way to the edge of the paper!

    OK, I went for it. It’s Halloween month.

    Surprise, surprise, surprise – I paid a lot for this thing and got a hand-drawn pattern! Not even well-drawn. Sloppy, wavy lines. I don’t want art, I want a professionally drafted pattern!

    What size do I wear? Tessuti doesn’t include any garment measurements, other than the length of the short and long dress. There are no measurement markings on the pattern. I thought I’d get a little bit more with the pattern, since the online info is so sketchy. Ha! Here’s what’s provided:

    • XS, S , M and L equivalent to (AUS) sizing 8,10, 12 and 14

    So I went looking for AUS sizing and found OnlineConversion.com. I entered 10 in the Australia box and the U.S. conversion was size 6/Small. Not me! AUS size 12 is much closer to my U.S. RTW size.

    Once I got the pattern taped together, I did some measuring. The S and M are actually very close in size, but I drafted the M to get the width and length through the upper bodice, front and back.

    The finished Medium bust at my apex  is 46″, and the low hip is 62″. The latter is expected, as this is a tent dress. I knew I was in for an adjustment at the upper side seam, but that’s OK.

    I’ll say something nice here – this is a very forgiving design for lumps and bumps!

    To end on an up note, a gift. Here’s a look at the lines of the pattern:

    And what I hope is a helpful tip for anyone who finds the sleeves are not comfortable (Saturday 10/4 –  I just edited this a little bit, after working with the pattern again this morning):

    I’m not using the sleeve, which means I am reshaping the armhole a lot. The back armhole is actually quite a bit longer than the front armhole. And both are a little too long for this style sleeve and bodice. I think this may be why the top pulls around the lower arm when it’s worn. Some things to try: I would bring the lower edge of the armhole up about 1/2″ to 3/4″ and narrow the width of the sleeve accordingly. I would also try folding the back of the pattern, midway down the armhole, effectively shortening the back armhole. Looking at a pattern that fits well would be a good starting point for working with the alterations.

    I’ve almost finished my muslin in the pic above, it’s really cute. And I’ll the doing the post soon.

    Hope everyone enjoys a nice weekend. Bye for now – Coco