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).

v9217 lines

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.

hem

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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

 

Love Notions Laundry Day Tee – fun!

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What a great little pattern from Love Notions. I’ve been in the Love Notions Facebook group for some time, and I’ve watched this Tee progress through several iterations and updates. It has changed a lot – from a tee/tunic (on the left, below), to a tee, tunic, and dress, with lots of options. Tami Bunch Meyer, the designer, has really matured the pattern.

 

When Tami announced her 2017 update, (on the right, above), I decided to give it a go. I’m always on the hunt for a nice tee shirt dress – perfect for Florida weather all year long.

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My fabric is a rayon/lycra knit from Fiesta Fabrics, purchased on Craftsy back in January. I haven’t used it because it has a heathered finish that’s guaranteed to pill with a couple washings. But it’s perfect for a muslin of this dress.

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A few sewing notes:

  • My choices: the dress, with a scoop neck and elbow-length sleeves.
  • I drafted my tissue with a 1/2″ seam allowance (the pattern includes 3/8″ SA’s). I just think a wider SA is easier to sew.
  • I sewed the size Medium, mostly because I have a broad back and wide shoulders. The Small would have fit everywhere else, there’s generous ease in the waist and hips.
  • I’m 5’7″, and did not need extra length for my dress. In fact, I removed 3/4″. Nice!
  • The pattern includes a neckband, but I just used self-fabric binding on the neckline. To compensate for the lost width of the neckband, I raised the front neckline by 1/2″ at center front. But I didn’t change the back neckline at all.
  • I made an easy change at the top of the side seams. The armscye is a little longer than the sleeve cap, kind of a no-no, so I fixed it on my draft. BTW, I encountered the same thing on the Love Notions Boyfriend Cardigan. Forewarned…

armscye adjustment

 

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I think this pattern is a winner, and it joins my much loved Love Notions Sabrina Slims and Boyfriend Cardigan. More good news: it’s free to members of the Facebook group, and it’s currently on sale for $5 for everyone else.

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It’s Friday – I hope everyone has a nice weekend! Bye for now – Coco

Charlie Caftan – the long and short of it…

 

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I can tell it’s going to be a Charlie Caftan summer around here!

After doing my muslin and working out a few kinks, I was really looking forward to making this in more views and fabrics. A refresher on the pattern:

line art

And my changes to the drafting of the sleeve (more detail on my first post, here):

Drafting - sleeve

I love the maxi version!

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My fabric is a Moda Fabrics quilting cotton (gifted, thank you :-). Quilting cotton is not among the recommended fabrics, but it works beautifully with the pattern.

There’s plenty of drape in the hand of the fabric, even with the additional gathering using the back ties.

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My next version is View B – the mini dress – with the ties added:

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This fabric, also a gift, is a Hawaiian print cotton from Trans-Pacific Textiles. The stripe actually runs vertically on the yardage, but I cut out the dress across the grain. I think the front gathers would mess with the balance of a vertical stripe.

Interesting fabric! the color is very saturated, much more than I usually experience on a cotton print. I wondered if all that color would run in the laundry, but it washed up beautifully. This is the inside, with a view of the front panel interfacing and some of the finish details:

inside panel

I really like the colors and print – the vibrant blues are so pretty.

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Just a few sewing notes:

  • My ties are about 40″ long. I didn’t keep the pattern for the ties or use the instructions for making them. I cut mine at 2″ wide, double folded to the middle, and topstitched. I don’t like trying to turn a long skinny tie with a pin or tool!
  • No side vents on the maxi, just because they usually bug me 🙂 It has plenty of width at the bottom for comfortable walking and so on.
  • I raised the front panel by 1/2″ on the short version, because it was right at my waist and somehow threw off the balance of the dress. I’m going to raise it another 1/4″ on my next one. Just on View B – I like where it falls on the maxi.

Back to the maxi – I’m crazy about it…

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These were so much fun to sew that I’m sorry they’re done. Guess I’ll have to make some more.

Ciao! coco

 

Closet Case Charlie Caftan – a muslin

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This was interesting – and it took me 3 days to do it. For a pattern designed for ‘advanced beginner’, this is a bit of a beastie… More on that in a minute, first a look at the pattern:

line art

Really cute, with nice options. View A features front pleats, but it doesn’t interest me at all. Views B and C are the ones that got my attention.

For my muslin, I went with View B, size 10. It has the higher sleeve, no ties, and shorter length.

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The shape is very simple, pretty much straight up and down from sleeve to hem.

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Changes I made to the pattern:

  • First, I redrafted the sleeve. I could tell that the downward slant on top, and the tight curve at the bottom, were iffy. The former because it would impede upward movement of the arms and lift the entire dress in the process. The latter, the curve, because it would be difficult to ‘uncrinkle’ and finish nicely.

    I used the bodice from the Serendipity Studio Diane kimono dress to change both areas (my lines are in blue). I also left off the sleeve hem allowance completely, since I wanted to bind the edge, not hem it.

Drafting - sleeve

I love the result – it’s so comfortable.

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  • My second change was to decrease the width of the area to be gathered by 2″. The original ratio of gathers to front panel was 2:1. IMHO, way too much, and likely to pouf out. I don’t need pouf!

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  • I also drafted a smaller pocket. I wanted to topstitch mine to the front, and the original pocket was huge – it would have interfered with the drape of the front gathers.
  • And I added 2″ to the length.

Now, changes I made to the construction of the dress. As background, that front panel is meant to be inserted into the front, much as a single welt is inserted for a pocket. Except that all 4 sides of the panel have to be sewn in. Oh my gosh, I never even considered doing it that way.

  • I used a slit in the panel area, instead of the 1/4″ wide cutout in the pattern.

Drafting - front slit

  • I gathered the area under the slits, and fused a 1″ wide strip of interfacing over the whole shebang to stabilize it.

slit 1

  • Next, I basted the panel facing in place in the inside,

slit 2

  • And the front panel on the outside. Made a sandwich!

slit 3

Topstitched to finish, and I really like how it came together. The edges are straight and I didn’t pull my hair out.

I’m considering bringing the front panel in by about 1″ on a future make. I can see how the current width would work well with ties, but without them, it just looks a little too wide. Maybe I’ll just use the panel from View A.

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Thoughts: a nice summer dress, a little different, and well-suited for many fabrics and prints. However – that construction business with the front panel is not so nice. The impression I get from the reviews I’ve read (there are only a few, it’s a very new pattern), is that no one is finding it easy to get that panel sewn in properly.

Now that I have a pattern and approach that work for me, I’m sure I’ll sew this again, both long and short. Meanwhile, I’m curious about other sewists’ experiences with the pattern…

Bye for now – Coco

McCalls 6966 Maxi Skirt – easy dressing…

 

 

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Oh, it was so nice to sew this skirt! I love maxi’s, so this project felt like coming home.

I bought this pattern ages ago, and I’ve never sewn it. Mostly because I was simply drafting my knit maxi skirts as an A-line with a yoga waistband. Like this one from a couple years ago (worn with Kathryn Brenne’s beautiful jacket, V9135):

Vogue 9135 - Kathryn Brenne jacket

But my earlier skirts were showing wear and are now gone. M6966 has lots of options, including the hi-lo look that’s so trendy this summer.

Time to give it a try. It’s pretty cute!

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Sewing notes – this is very easy to sew:

  • I used size Medium, without a single change.
  • My fabric is a very loosely woven cotton French terry from Girl Charlee.
  • The length was perfect for me at 5’7″. In fact, I took off 1″ before taking up a 1″ hem.
  • This skirt is very similar, in shape and sizing, to the the Sewaholic Gabriola skirt, which is for woven fabrics and has a zipper.

I love the waistband construction. It stays up a bit better than a yoga band, and it’s very nicely finished.

(1) The outside waistband and facing are joined at the top edge, right sides together. A line of stitching about an inch below forms a casing for elastic.

(2) The elastic is inserted, and the band is turned with right sides out – the elastic is hidden!

(3) And the band is attached to the top of the skirt. I sewed it on with an elastic stitch and serged the seam allowance together to give a nice finish.

waistband

I took my pics in the dining room this morning, so I could go back and forth to my closet for options to style the skirt. I tried a cropped shirt, a belted tunic, and a jeans jacket (which is why I was wearing the white bra that’s peeking out on my shoulder). Of course, I ended up liking a simple knit tee the best.

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Parting shot – since the mosquitoes rule the yard for the moment, I’m doing a little gardening on the porch. These skinny dudes are papaya sprouts, grown from seeds I harvested from a fresh papaya way back in January. If I can get them up to about 20″, they’ll go in the back garden.

papaya

I’ve had papaya trees before, and the wasps really enjoyed the fruit – they’re fast.

Bye for now – Coco