Vogue 9108 – now that’s a project…

Oh, let’s open with a picture of the only crepe paper flower I’ve managed to make this summer. It’s so pretty!

And on to one of the most interesting projects I’ve undertaken lately – Marcy Tilton’s French Apron Dress. I bought the pattern when it came out and have kind of ignored it ever since – because I knew in my heart that any attempt would require a lot of tweaking and fitting.

So right. I’ve put about 20 hours into this, it’s finished, and I mean it’s finished!! But it has some good parts. As we go forward, please know that this is a muslin. I used scrap fabrics (but all are poly ITY jersey), and tried to keep the color and print palette within reason.

The front. Great inserts and pockets.

The drafting on this is really nice, better, IMHO, than on Tilton’s French House Dress (my version here, and another use of the over-sized drooped pocket).  I think the pockets are fun, and they drape really nicely in the ITY knit. Also, the upper front insert (dots fabric) is very believable, not cutesy.

I was a little concerned about how well the upper front would support the weight of the attached middle front (striped fabric). I didn’t want a big dip! So I stabilized it with a strip of knit fusible. In fact, I did the same for many areas that might otherwise sag: top edges of pocket pieces, necklines, and the pivot corner that supports the pocket and middle front.

I also underlined the upper front and upper back to add stability. Not wanting to add weight, I used a very light burnout jersey. An added benefit – it has only 2-way stretch (horizontal), which counteracts the 4-way stretch of the dotted ITY.

The back – way easier than the front!

I love the placement of the upper back insert – it’s very graceful.

A few sewing notes:
  • I sewed the size Large, but should have used the Medium. I bought the pattern before my breast surgery last year, and I’m lots smaller now – went from a C cup to an A. The pattern sizing is XS-M and L-XXL – I had to pick one. 
  • The pattern has a shoulder tab, from which the front and back are suspended. It’s kind of like an epaulet, and I left it off completely. Thank you, Fabric Princess, for this idea, which lifts the armhole and makes it work for a sleeveless dress.
  • It also has huge facings for the armholes and back neckline. Not. I just used binding on the neckline and armholes. 
  • Sort of true to the ‘apron’ name, the front and back middle pieces are pleated into the upper pieces. A totally lost design element. I just gathered mine.
  • This dress is crazy voluminous below the waistline. I removed quite a bit from the lower back side seam:
  • My view of the multi-piece/contrast lower front is that it’s just too much going on…I drafted it as one piece.
  • I also evened out the back hem, so it doesn’t look like a mistake.
  • I made my dress to be midi-length, because I wanted to be able to play around with it. I’m not fond of my midi length, but a maxi might look good. In fact, I  like the look on the envelope, with leggings and a tee (both patterns are included, a nice touch). It would be cute with high-shaft boots, a turtleneck, a scarf. But this is Florida!!
OK, one pic on me…
I’ll probably leverage this project and borrow my favorite elements for a tunic to wear over leggings this winter. Eventually. It really was fun to sew – the fabric and seam management were challenging, and it sure kept me out of trouble.
Ciao! Coco

Vogue 8712 Marcy Tilton Ankle Pants…gone culottie

I think the full moon over Miami has me wide awake – I took these pics as soon as the sun rose today.

 So – culottes. Oh gosh, I thought we got over these years ago. But no. They’re everywhere, at least on pattern and fashion sites. Strange though, I haven’t seen them on anyone around town. hmmm

I’m game. But rather than buy a new pattern, I pulled out one I own, but just couldn’t love enough to sew…a Marcy Tilton pant with some pretty funky ankle treatments.

Without the ankle cuffs, they really look like culottes!
I made view AB, which has an interesting and comfortable pocket. My fabric is a stretch cotton sateen from Fabric Mart. Note: I don’t like tan or chino or khaki britches! Just me – now that I’m retired, there are some things I’m free to leave in the past – like khaki suits. I bought this fabric thinking I’d make a jacket, but it worked well for this muslin. And I’m glad to get it out of my stash!
Sewing notes:
  • Sewed size 14, my usual Vogue size.
  • Seam allowances used: 1/2″ side and waist seam, 5/8″ in the crotch.
  • Because the pattern is somewhat short in the rise, I added a waistband. I cut the band at 3″ x 42″ across grain, fitted it to the pants, and used 1″ braid elastic
  • The finished side seam measures 31″ from the bottom of the waistband.

I like them. Now I’m thinking of purchasing a ‘real’ culottes pattern, perhaps this one from BurdaStyle. Love the leopard and think florals would be fun as well:
BS Midi Culottes 04/2015 #113A

Parting shots: someone came over to model with me…

Hope everyone enjoys a nice weekend. Ciao! Coco

Still celebrating – my Fourth of July dress!

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness – with Alexander Henry lovelies! What a way to celebrate. This dress was meant to be my July garment of the month, but I was out of commission until mid-month. No problem – it’ll be great for any of our patriotic holidays.

Obviously I love Butterick 5881, the Katherine Tilton layered dress. This is my third dress version (one and two), and I’ve done a tunic from the top layer as well.

Waiting in the loft is another version for fall, done in a knit. It’s already sewn and is really different.

None of mine look quite like the original pattern! I’ve never done one with the pieced top layer. I spent hours redrafting a one-piece top layer when I first got the pattern – I just like it better.

The trick with this version was figuring out where to put the print. Ummm. I think I did pretty well!

Little details: I’ve not used the placket on the front or shirring on the back. To replace the latter, I’ve centered a contrast patch with 3 lines of inserted elastic.

The underdress is white poly/cotton broadcloth, with the attached skirt in contrast fabric. I’m so sorry I don’t have a pic of the underdress, but it’s cut just like the leopard spot dress (version two referenced above). These opposing hems are so interesting and kind of sassy.

This pattern really is such fun to wear!
Hoping everyone enjoys a nice weekend – Bye for now! Coco

Butterick 5881 – A dress can change its spots too!

Pretty spots! I finally got around to something I’ve wanted to do for a while – making a dress using the underdress from Katherine Tilton’s layered dress!

My 2013 original version

This is the inside of the underdress from my 2013 version. It’s really pretty all by itself – it has a charming flared skirt and an interesting asymmetrical hemline.

I just added elbow-length sleeves (from another Butterick pattern) and voila!

The only real challenge was trying to keep the larger spots on the top sections of the dress, and the more dense spots on the bottom sections. I just thought the placement would accent the lines of the skirt more effectively that way.

Just a note: My Emile is filling in for me for a bit. I’ve not been feeling well for about 7 weeks.
Edited on 7/9 – a new diagnosis rules out vertebrobasilar circulatory disorder, such good news!

I just finished the muslin for Ashley’s ‘Kaylee Frye’ costume – yes, the girl is cosplaying again! This one is for Dragon Con in Atlanta at the end of August.


Back story: Kaylee is a mechanic on the spaceship Serenity, in the TV series Firefly and movie Serenity. In a fan-favorite outfit, she wears a brocade jacket over her mechanic overalls and carries a multi-stripe parasol (which Ashley already has, of course 🙂

I’m making Ashley’s jacket using Kwik Sew 4015 and a beautiful polyester Chinese brocade that she ordered from FabricDirect.com. Finding the fabric was not easy. We decided a lot of people are making blue brocade jackets this summer!

Muslin in kona cotton

She and D. really enjoy their interest in pop culture and participate actively. Here’s a pic of Ashley as a Sith Girl (a cheerleader for an antagonist figure in Star Wars) at Dragon Con last year. There was an entire squad of Sith Girls, they marched in the Dragon Con parade!

And on that note – ciao! Coco

Liesl + co. Late Lunch Tunic – Merry muslin go-round…

 Another cute tunic caught my eye recently on Pattern Review – the Late Lunch Tunic by Liesl Gibson, designer of the much-loved oliver + s childrens’ patterns. Her women’s line has four garments and one handbag, under the banner liesl + co. and all are digital patterns, which I love! Instant gratification.

This little number features 3/4 length sleeves that are cut as one piece with the yoked bodice, and a skirt that is gathered at the bodice front and back and has a hi-lo hemline. Oh, and a open-collar neckline with a two-button closure. Whew.

And I just could not leave it alone. So here starts the story of my muslin, which is done in a cotton jersey knit. The knit is on purpose – I want to sew it in knit fabric, not woven. All those gathers, the skirt volume, and the tight curve under the sleeve just seem to say “try me in a knit…”.

My first muslin is true to the pattern, with only a few adjustments:

I cut a size 12 (I’m 5’7″, 140 lbs, and have a 37.5″ bust) and added 1″ to the length of all the bodice pieces. The bodice seam falls slightly below the 10 1/2″ apex of a Big Four pattern- it’s worth doing some measuring on the pattern before cutting, particularly if you usually do a vertical bust adjustment! I do, my bust apex dropped years ago! and is somewhere around 12″ from my shoulder.
To offset the length added at the bodice, I removed 1″ from the hemline of the skirt pieces.
Also in deference to the extra length in the bodice, I added a third button at the neckline.
Since the front yoke is self lined, I cut a second back yoke and used it to line the back yoke as well. This replaced a bias binding used to face the back in the pattern, and it made for a very nice finish on the inside of the bodice.
And I made one more change to slim the front silhouette of the tunic. I took 6″ out of the width of the front skirt. This hugely decreased the gathers under the front bodice (I think that on my next version I will take out only 4″). 

Looks really good on Emile – but I did not like it on me! I’m really not fond of pointed, open collars on tops and blouses. I have a huge big large head, and think it’s accentuated by some collar styles. To me the top just looked blah. So I added a fourth button and ran elastic through the sleeve hems, looking to pep things up…. 

Sidebar please:
Buttons – sparkly ones from JoAnn’s. I used vertical buttonholes, instead of horizontal, for a couple reasons: (1) the overlap is narrow, not much room for a button of any size, and (2) on a knit, a horizontal buttonhole tends to push out at the edge because it is sewn with the stretch of the fabric.
May I mention that I love the buttonholes sewn by my Singer Quantum Stylist 9960? This area is interfaced with fusible easy-knit pellon. The buttonholes are so easy and pretty, even on a knit fabric.

My second version was not a hit – I knew I was struggling with a sea of grey fabric, but I just could not get over the collar. Everything else about the design was so nice. I did not want to give up.

So I chopped off the collar!! and converted the neckline to a v-neck. Cut 1.5″ off the sleeves and re-hemmed them to a shorter length. 
And the sun came out 🙂

Loving the new neckline!

Of course, by this time my poor muslin was pretty rumpled and crumpled. and the neckline did not have the advantage of being sewn before the entire tunic was assembled (a little stretched out). A good wash and dry should fix it up.
So this is my version of the Late Lunch Tunic, and I’m ready to commit to my first ‘real’ go. I have some cute dotted creamsicle and brown poly-rayon jersey from Fabric.com. And even ordered brown ponte on Black Friday, so I can make Marcy Tilton skinny pants to go-with.
And the two together will be my December garments-of-the-month!
Bye for now – Coco