Category Archives: Projects

Sewaholic’s Belcarra Blouse mood board

After seeing all the pretty Belcarra Blouse photos on the Sewaholic website, I had to jump into the fray.

The Belcarra Blouse is a great basic top with raglan sleeves and a scoop neck that looks like it flatters a variety of figures. It’s available as a PDF for immediate download, which makes it a perfect impulse purchase.

Here’s the mood board:

The maybe gray, maybe blue fabric has raised pin dots.

The maybe gray, maybe blue fabric has raised pin dots.

I’m planning to make Version A. Here’s a better look at the line drawing.

Here's a closeup of the line drawing for the Belcarra Blouse.

View A of the Belcarra Blouse.

Alas, I didn’t have anything appropriate in my stash, so I had to go to Jo-Ann’s for fabric. (I ended up also buying some yellow Linen Look for a future project. Fabric stores are dangerous.)

Here’s a closeup of the unusual dots.

In this closeup, you can see how the pin dots are raised and fluffy.

As you can see, the pin dots are raised and kind of fluffy.

This is the first time I will be working with a PDF pattern. When you order one, you immediately receive a link to a PDF file to download. The PDF file is set up to print on regular letter paper, but you have to trim the pages and tape them together so you have whole pattern pieces. (It took me three tries with the test page to get my printer settings correct. This is only because I wasn’t paying enough attention.) In the case of the Belcarra Blouse, printing out View A meant taping together 25 pieces of paper to make one giant sheet with all the pattern pieces.

Here's what the pieces looked like on my dining table before I taped them together.

Here’s what the pieces looked like on my dining table before I taped them together.

The lines matched beautiful for the first couple of rows, but the further along I went, the more my lines ended up off by the tiniest of smidges. It shouldn’t affect the project at all. I imagine this would be pretty tedious for a full dress pattern.

I’m going to have to make a full-bust adjustment, as usual, so I was very happy to find an FBA tutorial for this blouse on the Sewaholic website. Handy. I’ll make a muslin of the pattern as is, then see how much I need to adjust for the FBA.

It will be fun to work on a quick project for a change. If I like the way this turns out, I’m going to want to do a long full denim skirt to go with it. There’s always more to sew.

 

Navy and white paisley Clara

I discovered Sew Liberated’s Clara dress in the April/May issue of Sew News. In fact, Sew News featured it as part of a sew-along. The magazine showed the dress on a larger model, and it looked great on her.

I am late to the sew-along, which finished up at the end of last month, but I did buy the pattern. I already had a great fabric that had recently joined my stash — a navy and white paisley shirting I picked up at Jo-Ann’s. Here’s the mood board:

Mood

Mood board for the Clara dress. I’m not sure which thread I will use, the navy or the white. It may depend on whether I’m sewing construction seams or visible stitching.

The Clara dress is a shirtwaist dress, with a bodice that has a bit of a blouson effect. It has a collar, front placket and keyhole detailing on the sleeves.

The fabric pattern is pretty busy, and I want the collar and placket details to stand out, so I searched for a white trim of some kind. Since I had just used packaged piping on my coral wrap dress, I wanted something different for this dress. But all of the laces, chocheted laces and eyelets I considered got lost in the paisley. Instead, I opted for more of a cording.

Pretty, isn't it? I imagine this shiny cording was intended for use in a bridal gown. It only came in white and ivory.

Pretty, isn’t it? I imagine this shiny cording was intended for use in a bridal gown. It only came in white and ivory.

It stands out, but it’s a little different from packaged piping.

I always have a terrible time looking for buttons. In fact, I can spend 30 minutes looking for just the right button. It doesn’t help matters that Jo-Ann’s has reduced its garment button stock by about 25 percent in favor of stocking more “craft” buttons. I sat down on a low shelf and went through an entire clearance basket of La Petite buttons to find something suitable. I wanted a shirt-type button, but not any of the usual styles I see all the time at the store.

With four holes, edge detail and a bit of a wavy texture, these are a little nicer than the shirt buttons that come eight to a card for a dollar. Plus, you can't beat the price!

With four holes, edge detail and a bit of a wavy texture, these are a little nicer than the shirt buttons that come eight to a card for a dollar. Plus, you can’t beat the price!

I want to sew the buttons on using navy thread and a different pattern than the usual “X” or parallel stitches.

But first, I need to trace the pattern pieces and do a muslin. A muslin will be particularly important because I haven’t used a pattern from this company before. The sizing is likely to be different from the Big Four pattern companies. I don’t know how much (if any) I’ll need to add to the waist length, for example. I’m hoping the fact that the dress isn’t closely fitted will make fitting a little easier.

 

Coral wrap dress update

I got to wear my coral wrap dress from Vogue 8784 for the first time today. My husband and I went to a lovely small restaurant here in town for brunch to celebrate our 21st anniversary. Afterward, I asked him to take my photo:

My new wrap dress! Photo by Robert the Husband.

My new wrap dress! Photo by Robert the Husband.

The dress was really comfortable to wear, but I might still add a snap at the V-neck where the sides cross. There was a tad of gaping when I was in the car wearing a seatbelt. I’m really glad I added the piping trim, otherwise all the design detail of this dress would have been lost in the print. As it is, the diagonal pleats are impossible to see.

I think the purse is worth a closeup:

I bought this purse at the Sacramento Antique Faire for $5 or $10.

I bought this purse at the Sacramento Antique Faire for $5 or $10.

Although I have a nice big quality leather purse (which I use for work meetings because it looks super professional and holds a full-size notepad), it’s really lovely to have a collection of small vintage purses. This one is big enough to hold a wallet, keys, phone, handkerchief and colored lip balm. What more does a girl need for brunch with her sweetie?

Next up: The Clara Dress from Sew Liberated.

 

Coral wrap dress — Vogue 8784

Whew! That took a while.

Last week, I finished the coral Vogue 8784 wrap dress that I started LAST FALL.

As it turns out, I prefer to sew while listening to Giants baseball on TV. (I just look up for the replay if something good happens.) Thus, I stopped working on my dress last September and picked it up again this April. (I’m going to need a sewing strategy for the winter because that’s just ridiculous. Too bad I hate football.)

This is the first wrap dress I’ve ever made, and it’s a pretty amazing thing, really. Yes, wrap dresses do seem to be pretty flattering, as people say. But this one is also pretty forgiving.

Vogue 8784 on Gene the Dress Form.

Vogue 8784 on Gene the Dress Form.

When I started it last fall, I weighed 20 pounds less than I do right now. From the beginning of November through the end of February, I suddenly gained weight. I didn’t eat any differently or exercise any less (because, well, there isn’t any less). I’m blaming hormones for changing my metabolism (I entered my late 40s this week), but I’m fighting back with an increase in biking and a decrease in sugary baked goods. We’ll see how that goes.

Anyway, the dress still fits because of the generous self-tie closure that wraps completely around the waist and ties at the right front. (There is no choice as to where it ties.) I was prepared to sew in a snap at the V-neck where the two fronts cross, but it doesn’t seem to need it.

The tie only closes in this one spot.

This tie is the only closure. With a generous front overlap, it makes this dress very forgiving of changes in weight.

Also, I didn’t realize this little bonus until I was half-way through sewing the dress, but it doesn’t call for interfacing. Whoo-hoo! Construction requires a full lining, so the interfacing isn’t needed. I also added prepackaged piping along the neckline down to the front edge of the skirt. That stabilized that entire edge, so I could dispense with the topstitching that was called for there. It also made the wrap style more noticeable despite the busy pattern.

The piping makes the wrap structure easier to see.

The piping makes the wrap structure easier to see.

To fit my figure — well, the one I had last fall anyway — I made my usual pattern alterations: full-bust adjustment, lowering the bust point, and lengthening the entire bodice half an inch. I also lengthened the skirt a few inches. That just-below-the-knee length makes the legs look good but is overall out of proportion on me.

I couldn’t bring myself to abandon my sewing pride and do the machine hem called for in the instructions. I used rayon seam binding as a hem tape and sewed both the dress and lining hems by hand, which — along with hand sewing the lining at the waist seam — took forever. Forever being two Giants games and one viewing of The Mummy Returns.

I sewed the fashion fabric hem and the lining hem by hand.

I sewed the fashion fabric hem and the lining hem by hand with a catch stitch.

I’m very happy with my new dress, but as is always the case with sewing, the project had its self-inflicted challenges.

  • In making the full-bust adjustment, I forgot to create the waist dart. That made the bodice front too wide to fit the skirt front. I fixed it by easing the bodice using the basting stitch that was holding the bodice and lining together at the waist seam. With the busy print, the easing isn’t noticeable. I think this is a pretty legit way to eliminate a waist dart.
  • I misread my own adjustment for the side seam dart when marking one bodice front piece, so the darts start at different spots in the side seam. They end at the same point, however. I made them both correctly in the lining just because it made me feel less lame.
  • I didn’t read the pattern instructions closely enough to notice until it was too late that the bodice lining is sewn in differently depending on which sleeve style is used. I ended up having to hand sew the lining to the bodice at the armscye.
  • I was very diligent about marking the wrong sides of the fabric and the lining for the unusual diagonal pleats. This was a total waste of time. The pleats are made after the bodice lining is in place — that is, when the wrong sides are no longer visible. Curses! Next time, I’ll mark the pleats on the right side of the lining. I’ve already made a note in the pattern instructions.
  • I was a little sloppy putting in the cap sleeve. It doesn’t even go completely around the armscye, and it still has accidental tucks. That’s just amateur night.
  • I didn’t pay close enough attention to my thread and bobbin color choices. If I had, I wouldn’t have ended up with coral thread showing on the white lining at the pleats. That was so easy to avoid with a little forethought.
See the coral thread on the white lining. That just didn't need to be.

See the coral thread on the white lining? Well, how could you miss it? With a little advance planning, this could have been avoided.

  • Lengthening the skirt meant ending up with a wider hem that wouldn’t fit on the fabric per the pattern layout. I had to get a little creative there. I was also a little lackadaisical with my pattern matching at the back skirt seam (as in I didn’t bother with it at all). And the diagonal nature of the print combined with a V neck and diagonal pleats makes for some weird angles here and there.
Total lack of pattern matching!

Total lack of pattern matching! That’s just laziness.

  • I was right that I had enough white fabric in my stash for the lining. But I didn’t have enough of any single white fabric. Most of the lining is poly-cotton batiste. The remainder is a heavier cotton sateen.

This pattern came together nicely, and even with my flubs it makes me happy-happy.

It’s a pretty basic look but with the waist seam and the tie, I can imagine all sorts of variations in the future:

  • Color blocking with a white top, navy skirt, and red tie.
  • Making the bodice and tie in chambray with white topstitching and the skirt in a cream-colored lace.
  • Making the dress in eyelet with a color lining and matching tie.
  • Making the dress a solid color with embroidery detail along the neck edge and skirt front edge. And by embroidery, I of course mean machine embroidery. I need to get out that cute little Brother PE 700ii that’s been hiding under its dust cover for a while now.
  • Adding a stand up Mandarin-type collar, switching to different sleeves, and widening the waist tie.

And with the style being so flexible as to accommodate fluctuating weight, I can definitely see making a few more.

I’m planning to wear the dress when my husband and I go for an anniversary brunch this Sunday. On D-Day, we will have been married for 21 years. I’ll see about taking a photo then.

Gemini Note (because it’s not all about sewing)

As of this writing, the San Francisco Giants are not only in first place in the National League West, they also have the best record in baseball. This makes for a happy Casa Tokunaga.

 

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