African Wax Print Pants…

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I look pretty calm, right? Well, it has been interesting – my first experience with an African wax print.

As background, I’ve been enjoying Zoona Nova’s  blog and pics on Instagram so much. She lives, works, and plays in Malawi, and her stories and projects are fascinating. The local handicraft projects with which she’s involved (and pending pattern releases from her own design studio) include garments made with African wax prints. The fabrics are stunning – such variety, gorgeous designs, and so colorful! I just had to try some.

Since I can’t visit the local markets in Malawi, I ordered two pieces from Fabric Wholesale Direct.  They have an wonderful selection of African prints, their prices are so reasonable, and they ship very quickly. I like the latter – I’m impatient when I order something. I want it now, please 🙂

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Top: McCalls 7597 in bleached muslin.

I had no idea what to expect – stiff, waxed, starched? Well, in reality, both pieces were a bit stiff and rather shiny when they arrived. So, starch or some similar resist material. And drenched with color, all the way through. I wasn’t sure how to wash them or care for them. After a lot of research, and many opinions, I just threw up my hands and put them in a warm water wash with mild detergent, and then in the dryer on the delicate setting. They both came out fine, great in fact. No running or loss of color, and no discernible shrinkage. I was amazed!

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Sassy pants! I made these with Vogue 9217, Kathryn Brenne’s dolphin hem pants (original post here).

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With such an ‘active’ print, I left off the curved side vents and just cut a straight hemline, with an additional couple of inches to make them really long. I did keep the bound finish though. I think it adds nice balance to the print.

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Top: Grainline Studio Scout Tee in cotton seersucker.

Great project – I feel like my world has expanded, as though I’ve been travelling, and I’ve learned so much. I love my pants, and, yes, that second fabric is already in the loft, ready to be sewn 🙂

Ciao! Coco

 

Vogue 9217 – Kathryn Brenne – Wonderful

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I’m in pants heaven. I love this pattern!

From Kathryn Brenne, and I’ve found no reviews, so perk up… Great pieces. A shell, a reversible jacket, and these pants. This post is all about the pants.

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Pattern link on BMV

Another view of happy me.

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So much to talk about, but check out the ‘dolphin’ hems (usually seen on jogging shorts, so really new for me).

dolphin hem
Fabric: Multi-stripe Cotton Ikat from Fashion Fabric Club…totally misnamed, because it’s a jacquard!

I did a muslin of these pants last week, wrote a post about them, and then decided it was just a dreary kind of post. But the muslin was so helpful – I had planned to sew the pants in this great cotton jacquard, and I didn’t want to blow it. A view of the muslin, and, BTW, it’s a nice view of how well this pattern would work for shorts (mine are in PJ rotation):

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Back to these new britches…

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Part of the challenge with this fabric was figuring out how to place the pattern. I didn’t want the dominant white stripe to be misplaced on the front or the back 🙂 So lots of single-layer cutting. I just did it with a good movie playing.

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Some sewing notes:

  • I made the size Medium (12-14) with NO changes to the fit.
  • In an unusual move for me, I used packaged double-fold bias tape to finish the hems. IMO, it was much easier than working with bias strips cut from cotton broadcloth. Even so, I spent most of one day finishing the hems. Picky picky…but finish is really important to me, and I never mind the time or effort involved.

hem

  • The pattern doesn’t provide very much information about the finished garment measurements. Which can be frustrating! So I measured mine, straight size Medium:
    • Inseam 27″.
    • Outseam, below the waist, 39″.
    • Thigh circumference 28″.
    • Crotch 27″.  Front 12 1/4″, back 14 3/4″

The pants are pretty much straight up and down, so they can be shortened anywhere in the leg. And the rise can be shortened at the top edge (just be sure to move your pockets down as well if needed).

  • About that hem. I almost used a facing instead of the bias tape that the pattern uses. And I think it would be a reasonable way to finish them (although I love the taped hem). A suggestion on how to do it, simply draft the hem with its ‘natural’ seam allowance, and draft a facing to match. E.g.,

re-do hem with facing

  • The pockets provided with the pattern are standard in-seam pockets. But for pants, I really prefer a slant pocket that’s attached in the waistband. I used the pocket from Butterick 6296, but any similar pocket would work fine.

These will be my favorite summer long pants. Absolutely. I want more! Last pic of this happy woman. Photo-bomber Emile is sporting a Tessuti Megan Cardigan, finished last week, I’ll blog it soon. And my blouse is my recent camp shirt (B6296), cropped!

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Vogue 9168 Kathryn Brenne dress – end of story

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And I mean it this time!

I’ve been messing with this dress since the third week of March. When I first wrote about it (here), I mentioned that it was well-drafted (it looked just like the envelope pic), but it was uncomfortable to wear. It was destined for a re-do in the fall. But it has been on the garment rack in the loft, and it’s been bugging me. So this week I took it on once more.

A pattern refresher – ALL of the pieces, except the sleeve, are cut on the bias. I actually cut my back bodice on the straight grainline as well:

I decided to (1) put back the original flutter sleeve – it’s perfection and will be re-used, and (2) raise the waistline. The sleeve business was easy, and they’re beautiful. The waistline adjustment was a terror!

I carefully removed the skirt from the bodice and got to work. And I re-worked it 4 times! This is a rayon crepe fabric, and all those bias cuts just kept on growing and growing. I just couldn’t get and keep a straight seam in the front bodice edge.

Even the final version shows a new dip since it was finished this morning (the arrow). Looking past that, the double pleats in the front bodice are very flattering. They fit more closely than the original pattern, because I crossed the center front a bit to raise the neckline.

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 The back is very pretty, no problems there.

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An inside look – the waist has a narrow casing  with 1/4″ elastic.

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I know there are ways to stabilize the waist – a buckram waist stay, invisible side zip, etc. but I can’t wear those against my skin, and am not about to wear a slip. This hot and humid Florida, and I’m into easy dressing.

I’m glad I continued to work with this dress, which is now officially out of the house. I’m done with bias cuts! but I learned a lot. I certainly know why all those movie star bias-cut dresses have unstructured, dipped and draped bodices.

To close – here’s the same fabric, in a different colorway, in the StyleArc Toni Designer Dress (posted here, way back in November). Much better marriage of pattern and fabric. And I love the colors!

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Okey dokey – I’m off to more fun stuff! Bye for now – Coco

 

 

Vogue 9168 – A cautious muslin

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Despite our beautiful Florida spring weather – 78 degrees, windy, low humidity – I decided to use a very autumnal fabric for my a muslin of this interesting pattern by Kathryn Brenne. It’s a nice rayon crepe from Fabric Mart, but my investment was only $6.40 – I was willing to sacrifice it if this dress didn’t work for me.

I was familiar with the skirt, having used a version of it in my recent make of V8577. It’s big and bias-cut! This pic shows just one piece (two are used), on my 38″ x 72″ cutting board. It was such a pain to cut out, but it makes a beautiful skirt.

9168 skirt IG

The bodice is actually a fun project all by itself – lots of drape, bias cuts, slippery fabric, and pleats. And, of course, I just had to use ‘regular’ sleeves.

Note: Speaking of sleeves, I’m fully aware of the current mania trend for all kinds of creative sleeves. But I generally know what will work for me. It happens that I really like the flutter sleeves, but not on this print. And maybe a little longer.

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The cut-on front facings are inspired, and they completely prevent an unwanted glimpse of the inside of the bodice. Great drafting.

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The bodice looks a little tipped in these pics, but it’s because I do an adjustment for a right sloping shoulder, something that Emile doesn’t have 🙂

back bodice

Just a few sewing notes:

  • I sewed the size 14, and it’s close to a perfect fit. I forgot to add 1″ to the bodice, a usual adjustment for me with Vogue patterns, and had to ‘short’ the bodice allowance in the waistline seam.
  • The skirt is actually too short for me! It’s about 5.5″ longer at center back and center front than at the sides, puddles of fabric, and too short at the sides for the length I want. It happened on my V8577 version as well, and another reviewer mentioned the same thing, so it’s not my sewing or fabric. Bias-cut skirts are tricky. I’ll alter the skirt pattern next time I use it, it’s an easy fix:

alter skirt

  • To achieve a roomier casing for the waistline elastic (I used 1/2″, not 1/4″ elastic), I used a 1″ seam allowance to attach the skirt. Prepping the casing:

casing

  • I also drafted a 3″ wide facing for the back neckline. The instructions call for a bias strip, doubled, and applied to the neckline as a facing. And I think the latter would be a good way to stabilize the neckline on a really lightweight fabric like chiffon or challis. A facing is a reasonable alternative for a heavier fabric, as it adds fewer layers to the shoulder seam.

So, final thoughts. I enjoyed sewing this pattern. The drafting is so nice, and I think it delivers on its promise – my dress looks just like the pics and line art. However, I’m not enjoying the style on me or the feeling that it’s a little fussy to wear. The elastic shifts, the bodice blouses, the waistline slips up and down under the belt – it’s distracting. I don’t think I’ll sew it again. But I’m sure I’ll reuse elements of the pattern, and this dress will reappear as something else in the fall!

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Ciao! Coco

Vogue 8577 Retro Shirtdress – finished!

 

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And I really like it. This dress has certainly kept me occupied for the last week or so. I did a bunch of modifications, lots of  fitting, and a prodigious amount of ripping! A look at the original design:

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I changed the sleeves to be elbow length, and the skirt to an A-line instead of a very full circle. The latter was the biggest change, since I used the skirt from Vogue 9168, and as I discussed in my first post on this dress, I even changed that.  But it’s still very swishy.  I love the way it fits closely through the hips and then blooms.

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One of my biggest concerns in laying out this print was the placement of the large white element. I didn’t want it centered over my bum or the girls.

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I was also concerned about losing the design basics to the print. The dress has three pieces – bodice, middle band, and skirt – and matching things up would have disguised all those lovely elements. I did the layout in single layers so I could see where things were going, and it took forever. Honestly, this was my least favorite part of this project. I wanted to sew!

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Just a few notes:

  • I started with a size 14, and was happy with the fit as a starting place.
  • All the pattern pieces are laid out on the bias in the instructions. However, I cut the bodice pieces on the straight grain – only my skirt is cut on the bias.
  • This dress ended up with 15 buttons! My buttonhole plan:

I-v8577 swap

  • I also practiced the buttonholes on a swatch that was cut, faced and interfaced exactly like the dress – I didn’t want them to skew or stretch on the bias fabric. The pattern calls for horizontal buttonholes, but I don’t like the way buttons slide in horizontal buttonholes. So mine are vertical.
  • Hemming this took a lot of time and patience! I let it hang on Emile for 24 hours, then put it on to mark it. Oh my gosh, what a pain to do alone. That bias…I took up 2 5/8″ at the center front, 2″ at center back, and about 3/4″ at the side seams. But since I have a dropped right shoulder, nothing was symmetrical. Best thing – it’s done!
  • I love the fabric, which is a 5.5 oz linen/rayon blend from Fabric Mart. It has just enough weight and weave to handle the bias cuts and hang nicely without a lining. The suggested fabrics are gingham, washed silk and lightweight linen. I would never, ever, do this in light silk or charmeuse…

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When I first started this project, I did quite a bit of reading about sewing bias-cut fabrics. Some nice links:

Next up – I’m going to sew Vogue 9168 as soon as my fabric arrives. I’m in the mood!

Bye for now – Coco