Monday, April 14, 2014

Ms. Bell of the Ball in Butterick 5556

Every year I know that I’m going to make Ms. Paulette’s dress for the Pastor’s Annual Banquet. This year was no difference except I got started about two weeks later than usual and I did not help her with shopping for the fabric and notions. Ms. Paulette was on her on with the exception of a few phone calls.

Because I got a late start, I didn’t make a muslin to check the fitting. This is definitely a no, no for me. I like to confirm the fitting adjustments and design preferences before cutting into the fashion fabric. But like I said I started late having only to weeks to complete the entire project.

One good thing is I’ve sewn for Paulette for many years and know where changes are needed. The second good thing is the changes are few and not drastic: A little added here and a little removed from there. She is really not hard to fit. More often than not, she will select a vintage pattern. She likes dresses from the 40’s and 60’s. Many have details that you do not see in dresses today, like shoulder and sleeve darts or belt made in the fashion fabric.

So without further ado, here is my review of Butterick 5556.  

Pattern Description:
MISSES' DRESS AND BELT: Lined dresses A, B, mid-calf, have semi-fitted bodice and gathered, flared skirt, winged or stand-up collar, below elbow kimono sleeves, side zipper and side front pockets. B: sleeve cuffs with slit. Self-fabric belt has purchased buckle. Purchased petticoat. I drafted and made the petticoat.

Pattern Sizing:
8-22; I used between 18 and 20.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
Yes it did. At one point I thought I had made a mistake with the waist darts. They were too long. But I look at the drawing on the envelope to see that they were as intended. So I did not lower them.

Were the instructions easy to follow?
I did not have any problems following the instructions. The skirt had eight panels. I marked each on the wrong side so I could keep track of which ones were to be gathered and to identify the front panels for the pockets.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
Paulette selected this pattern. She likes everything about this dress: the full skirt, the collar, the sleeves, and the fabric belt.

Fabric Used:
A polyester I believe. The weave is similar to shantung with lengthwise stretch. She made her purchase at a local store at Roosevelt and Desplaines. I can always count on Paulette to purchase nice fabric.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
  •  Added 3 inches to the length of the skirt. 
  •  Cut between size 18 and 20 along the sleeves.
  •  Cut size 18 at the bust area
  •  Cut size 20 at the hips. 
No design changes.
  • I couldn’t find the belt backing at any of my local stores and didn’t have time to order any. So I used faux leather belting to substitute for it.
  • I drafted and made the petticoat. It was pretty easy. I used some cling free lining and crinolines to make it. Sorry I don’t have pictures of it.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
One of my sisters loves her dress and would like one too. I do recommend it to others. I was very pleased with the results and so was Ms. Paulette.

Conclusion: This is not a quick project. Plan to spend some time getting the gathers just right. And settle into the yards and yards of hand sewing on the skirt. Be careful not to mix up all those skirt panels. In the end, you will have a beautiful elegant dress.

 Happy Sewing!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Green with Envy - Ralph Lauren's Vibrant Green Viscose Matte Jersey - Vogue 8921

Vacation wardrobe interrupted to showcase my latest Mood Sewing Network project. So here goes.., After seeing Episode 5 of Being Mary Jane, I was determined to find a vibrant green fabric to make a similar dress.  I searched the Mood online fabric store to see if there was something close to the color.  The first few searches turned up nothing I really liked.  Then in early March, Mood posted new arrivals to their store.  There was a huge selection of green textiles for the choosing.  I was one happy sewist.

So with my Mood allowance, I selected Ralph Lauren's Vibrant Green Viscose Matte Jersey. Seriously it's a great fabric.  The recovery is excellent; the color is rich; and it is easy to sew. And perfect for my inspiration dress.  While Mary Jane's dress was a sexy sleeveless little number, Vogue 8921 was good for me.  I wanted a similar silhouette with modest and long sleeves (still chilly in Chicago).  This pattern has been on my list for a while.  After seeing Erica Bunker's version, I was sold on making this dress.

Vogue describes this dress pattern as: Misses' Dress - dress has fitted bodice with waist and front shoulder pleats, back zipper: Necklines, drape B, sleeves B, C: Narrow hem. The sizing listed is 6 through 22. I used size 14 with modifications.

For the most part my dress looked like the pattern and had a similar silhouette as the inspiration dress. The instructions appeared to be very easy, but I did not read them. The construction techniques were similar to other patterns that I have sewn in the past. I did notice that stitching two or three rows was recommended instead of serging the edges. I never do that, and I always manage to forget to say that in my reviews. View C calls for 2 3/4 yards.  I ordered 4 yards and had less than a foot left.  Maybe it's because I lengthen the sleeves and skirt.  But to me the yardage seems a little off.  I recommend you get a little more to be on the safe side, especially if you are tall like me.

I've had the pattern a while.  But I am just getting around to it. I like:
  •  pleating at the shoulder and waist
  • "V" neck - great for my body type.
  • simple

I did make a few alterations.  As usual:  a FBA (only half of what I normally make and similar to the FBA done for V8825.); prominent shoulder blade adjustment (shoulder darts); sway back adjustment; and added 4" to the length of the skirt and 1 1/2" to the length of the sleeves I wanted them to fall on my hands.

I don't know if I will sew the pattern again.  I made this dress for the Annual Pastor's Banquet.  This is a nice dress that an intermediate beginner should be able to sew with no problem. 

I'm really pleased with the outcome of this dress. 

Happy Sewing!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Get Earthy in Marc Jacobs Silk Twill Wide-Leg Pants

My second designer inspired garment actually encompasses two design trends, earthy tones and "big girl pants".  With Marc Jacobs silk twill I made the first garment of my earth-toned wardrobe.  This is the very first time I've sewn silk twill, but it will not be the last.  I love this fabric and would like at least two more pairs of pants out of it.  If you haven't try silk twill, you should.  You will not be disappointed.

It seems like earth tones are always on trend and can be anchor tones for any seasonal wardrobe.  I really like the fact that this trend never goes away and that many of the colors are in my color palette. Wide-leg trousers are on trend and many designers showcased them on the runway as part of their spring/summer collections.  The length does not matter; it's about the way the fabric flows around the legs.  This Marc Jacobs silk twill is fluid and feels great against the skin.  Designers that feature wide-leg trousers are:  Emporio Armani, Marni, and 3.1 Phillip Lim.

Previously, I made view A of McCall's 6515.  This time I made view  D.  This pair was just as easy to make as the last.  The difference are the pleats at the waist and the wide-leg.  As stated in my previous review, it's an easy pant to sew.  For the next wide-leg pair though, I will scoop out the back crotch hook a bit.  Also, I'll make them a tad bit longer.  Here they look a little on the short side.  Worn below with McCall 6042 jacket, and Simplicity 4020 top, View C. 

Monday, April 7, 2014

Vacay Wardrobe Reviews Continue with McCall 6841 and Butterick 5893


Today's post is another vacation outfit.  I wanted the colors to be bright and festive. Tangerine, marine blue, tomato read, earthy brown and tan are all color in my pallet.

All of my pattern choices were quick and easy partly because of the limited time I had to make the wardrobe.  I also wanted to make things that traveled well.  I did  not want to worry about pressing clothes before I could wear them.  So several pieces wear made of knit fabrics. 

So let me tell you about my second vacation outfit:  Draped top refashioned into a draped cardigan M6841 and elasticized pants B5893.

McCall 6841 in review:

Pattern Description: MISSES' TOPS: Loose-fitting, pullover tops that have draped front, and back collar. Wrong side may show. A: self-lined back and very narrow hem for front hemline. B and C: front pleated drape and narrow hem.
I started off with making view B.

Pattern Sizing:  SX - XXL.  I used size M.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?  No.  After I completed the top, I didn't like how it looked on me.  I remembered Audrey's review on this top and followed her lead of refashioning it.

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes. No difficulty or confusion with the instructions.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?  I liked the drape and hoped it would work with my body type.  I didn't have any dislikes until after I tried it on.  It didn't look the way I had hoped.

Fabric Used:  Polyester jersey from my local Hancock.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:  Absolutely no alterations to address fit issues.  I sewed it straight out of the envelope.  In the end I cut the drape down the center front.  Then finished the center front edge the same as the neckline.  So instead of a draped neck top I ended up with a waterfall cardigan.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?  I probably will not sew it again.  I have so many other patterns to sew.  I do recommend it to others.  I like how this top/cardigan is constructed.  The back is double, which creates some body and weight to the garment.  The seam finishing for the armhole requires binding of the same fabric.  These are nice touches to the top/cardigan.

Conclusion: This is a nice addition to my vacation wardrobe.  I can also incorporate it into my summer weekend gear pairing it with a t-shirt dress or with a tank top and slim pants.  Perfect for the weekend.

Butterick 5893 in review:

Pattern Description: MISSES' SHORTS AND PANTS: Loose-fitting shorts or pants with elasticized waistband, pocket variations and narrow hem. A and B: straight-legged, cut on crosswise grain. C: side slits. C and D: flared.  I made view B.

Pattern Sizing: XS to XXL.  I used size medium with modifications.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
No, only because of the changes I made to the pants.  I wanted elasticized legs too.

Were the instructions easy to follow? I really didn't use them.  I constructed the pants much like you would construct pajama pants with elastic at the waist and used the same technique for the leg.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I liked that this pattern was easy and I could get a quick pair of pants out of it in less than two hours. 

Fabric Used: I purchased a colorful polyester print from my local Hancock store.  It was a perfect match for the draped top/cardigan that I made to go with it.  The fabric was light and airy, so I wouldn't be too hot and the pants would help keep the mosquitoes away from my legs.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: I only made a few changes:  
  • lengthened them by 4 inches
  • tapered the width of the legs a bit.
  • added elastic to the hem 

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?  Yes, This pattern could double for pajama pants and could be used as originally designed.

Conclusion: Quick and easy is what I was going for and this pattern was perfect.  The pattern sews up very quickly.  It's a great pattern for beginners and you can use it to create some funky colorful vacation pants as I did.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Mood Fabric Artsy Graphic Print - Inspiration from the Spring/Summer Designer Collection 2014

Selecting one designer and one fashion trend was a tough job to say the least.  There is so much to choose from.  Many designers like Marni, Prada, Versace, and Jil Sander all showcased bold artsy graphic designs on the runway for Spring/Summer 2014.  This was one of my favorite trends of the season.  The next challenge was how to incorporate this audacious trend into my wardrobe.


This is where Mood Fabrics comes in.  They have a beautiful selection of jersey prints that can be transformed into a great statement garment for the season.  Or if you are like me and want to add a little oomph to your wardrobe, you can start with a simple t-shirt using Simplicity 4076.  This is my TNT.  I've made the t-shirt view six times. With this print, I place the prominent images in the lower center front and back.  This t-shirt is a perfect match for this artsy print.

Mood jersey is top quality.  It has a soft hand and sews up beautifully.  It's a light weight jersey that can stand up to washing on the regular cycle.  No fading or pilling.  Great fabric all the way around.

This was part of one of my "easy" wardrobe pieces that I wore during my vacation in Jamaica last week.  I sewed it up in less than two hours, two days before vacation.  Pairing with white cropped pants was perfect for a stroll along the beach after breakfast.

This week, I paired it with my Sandra Betzina jeans, V7608.  Can you believe it?! We're still getting snow and temperatures in the 30's.

Like I said earlier it was difficult to select one designer or one trend to draw inspiration from.  Later, I will also share another post on the Spring/Summer 2014 designer challenge.

Happy Sewing!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Vacationing in Jamaica 2014

Last month I went to Jamaica to celebrate my sister's birthday! It was a very much needed escape from the daily grind and the painfully cold winter of 2014. This was the first time in a very long time that I scheduled two solid weeks for vacation. I hesitated because of the unfinished business of the upgrade, but it was best that I step away from it all to rejuvenate and relax. The first few days, I dedicated to making a few things to take on vacation. Nothing fancy; really simply pieces in bright colors, perfect for beautiful Jamaica. Believe it or not, this time of year wasn't extremely hot. I think the average temp was around 85/90 degrees. It was splendid compared to the brutally cold winds of Chi-town.

We lodged at the Riu Negril Resort and Hotel. It was an all inclusive vacation package which is great if you don't want to worry about planning where to eat, play, drink or be entertained. Everything was in walking distance. The hotel and resort layout was open. Not many doors to go through to get to festivities. Your room, disco and the gift shops were the only places where you had turn a knob to gain entrance. The grounds also included a theater, casino, cyber room, a pool bar (among many bars), an ocean side jerk chicken bar-b-Que pit, and several restaurants (buffet and reservation required). The only excursion was a trip to Rick's Cafe by way of the "Wild Thing". This little trip included all you can drink, dancing until you were tired, snorkeling at the reef, swimming at the "caves", and jumping from the cliff at Rick's Cafe. No pressure, do what you feel kind of trip.

It's been a very long time since my last visit to Jamaica. It seemed a little more developed than 26 years ago, but, I could see there was still great disparity among the people. We did not travel to Kingston, which I understand is the most poverty stricken part of the Island.  The country's coastal regions are all about tourism.  Many of the beaches are privately owned by hotels and are not accessible to Jamaican citizens. The people we met were very hospitable and always wore a smile. I returned home saying, "How are you today, My Lady? I hope you enjoyed your vacation in Jamaica." All the way home I was singing Third World's hit "Try Jah Love" and Bob Marley's, "One Love". Both songs are favorites of mine and I was able to hear both while in Jamaica.

Was I ready to come home? NO! I could have stayed at least three more days, but... home we came. So, this vacation post, I'll share a few pictures of Jamaica.  I was enjoying the beautiful Island instead of snapping pictures all day.

These birds where everywhere

The Caves

Popular Special Drink

Favorite Hang Out

Mike aka Big Bird Tour Guide and Swimmer

Mike the Life of the Party

Me Dancing with Mike

Wild Thing Arriving at the Caves

The Queen's House (Castle)

Rick's Cafe Mmm Mmmm Good!
Children Dive from the Cliff for Money
Silver Bird Band Excellent!


Awesome Raggae Band
Silly Me on the Beach

Me and Trice on the Beach
Sunset in Negril, Jamaica
Next posts will be about the vacation garments.
Happy Sewing!


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