June 9, 2013

Cake Riffs- Cabarita!

Hooray! My long-awaited Cake Patterns Hummingbird and Cake RiFFs Cabarita arrived on Friday, and I couldn't wait to tear right into them both! I only managed to squeak out a Cabarita on Saturday, but I'm looking forward to the 30 Minutes a Day Sewalong that is coming up for Hummingbird, and I'm trying to figure out what view to make first.

Meanwhile, check out this little cutie:

Cabarita in coral stripes

I knew I wanted to use a stripe to play with the fun directional cutting that Steph features in Cabarita, and I had this coral tissue knit jersey that I thought might be okay. I was worried it was a little lightweight (and it probably is) but I do like the finished product enough to wear it despite a couple of flaws.

Cabarita top

Here it is a little closer. This top was pretty quick and easy to whip up, and I constructed the whole thing on my serger, except for a bit of topstitching and the twin-needle hem. It looks pretty good from the front, but things get a little bit problematic from behind:

Cabarita top back view

This is not a great look, I know. I cut a size 35 front and back, and while I'm happy with the amount of ease in the front, I think it's just too big in the back. Probably cutting a 30 back, especially in this light drapey knit, would have been a wiser choice.

Strangely, I think it looks a little better backwards from the back:

Backwards Cabarita- back view

Steph showed the versatility of the pattern by wearing one of her Cabaritas backwards, so I had to try it too. And here it is backwards from the front:

Backwards Cabarita- front view

There's not a whole lot to say about the construction- it's a pretty straightforward make. I wasn't sure I was going to like the collar, but I knew I wanted to make it up with the collar the first time around, especially with the striped fabric, and I'm glad I gave it a shot! I really like it on the finished top.

Cabarita for spring

I did have to search through my recycling bin twice looking for the back neck binding piece, but thankfully I had the thought to check the Cake Patterns site before too long and found that the patterns were accidentally printed without that piece. Steph has the PDF pattern piece ready to go right on SewingCake.com though, so within minutes I was ready to go. And really- it's just a rectangle, I absolutely could have managed without, but it was more an issue of me thinking that I had lost my mind when I couldn't find the piece anywhere in my house!

I'm thinking for version two it might be cute in a more stable navy or red knit with a white collar- what do you think? Too sailor costumey? Did your Hummingbird preorder arrive? Will you be sewing along June 17-27? I'm in the Violetear House- sign up for the Flickr group and join the fun!

June 3, 2013

Simplicity 2177- Ships Ahoy!

Here I am, as promised, to share some details of one of the dresses that you saw during MMM'13 week two: Simplicity 2177, the Ships Ahoy! dress.

 May 8 

I found this border print a couple of years ago during a forage through the clearance bins at JoAnn. I find the best stuff on clearance there, and I only shop during 50% off red tags time, so it's always a steal! I hoarded it away until I could decide on the perfect border-print-friendly pattern to use, and finally landed on Simplicity 2177. As per usual, the pattern envelope is meh, but there are a couple of nice renditions of this dress on Pattern Review, so I decided to go for it.

Ships Ahoy Bodice

I draped the fabric onto my dress form to decide how to go about placing the pattern on the bodice area, and decided to rotate the weird bust dart out to the side in order to preserve the continuity of my circle pattern. The pattern would have the bust darts coming out from the center triangle inset, but I decided that would have done strange things to the design there. 

S2177 Bust Dart

A few other sewists have commented on the pointiness of the darts placed as the pattern was drafted, and I definitely also experienced that in the muslin stage, so I was more than happy to make that alteration to my finished dress.

I did make some effort to match the pattern in strategic locations, but I wasn't always 100% successful. I'm pleased with how things came out on the bodice, and the bottom hem is as good as it gets (easy to do with straight lines to follow), but I couldn't have it all- I decided it was more important to match the pink circle on the bottom hem in back than worry about the rest.

S2177 Back

This was an entirely stash-built dress, which I'm quite happy to report! I did buy a navy zipper, but the facings and the seam finishes were all things that I had around that just happened to match quite nicely. The green slinky poly stuff I used for facings and pocket bags is leftover from my Cambie lining, and it is something that has been in my stash for at least a decade to begin with. It's nearly gone now (finally)!

S2177 Interior S2177 Inset Panel Finish

I used a whole variety of seam finishes in this dress, depending on what and where. The seam allowances are mostly just serged, but I turned-and-stitched the allowances around the triangle inset. I hand catch-stitched the bias binding to the armholes because I don't really like the look of topstitching there and couldn't decide what color thread to use.

S2177 Sleeve & Neckline Interior

I had just enough of some thrifted vintage lace hem binding to finish the hem. I haven't seen this kind in modern stores- it's pre-folded and a bit narrower than the similar lace hem binding that you can find at the big-box sewing stores.

Ships Ahoy Hem

My final labor of love was hand-picking in the lapped zipper, which I did just because I couldn't bear the thought of top-stitching breaking up the print on the back. The bonus was that it made it a lot easier to ensure that all the circles lined up that way!


As far as fitting went, it was pretty straightforward. I made my usual big-4 size 12, and only had to make up a couple bodice muslins to pinpoint the dart placement. I ended up taking out a bit of width across the back to eliminate some gappage back there- which is a modification that I find that I always have to make but never have the foresight to do it at the pattern level. In this case I just folded a deeper seam allowance at the zipper from the neckline to waistline, and it's much better. It's still a little wide, but really the best I could do at that point in the construction process.

S2177 Back Zip Interior

Overall, I'm very happy with how this one came out! I almost wore it a second time during MMM, but I've been on the lookout for some navy flats and haven't come across the right pair yet. The pinkish/silver metallic ones I wore in the first photo above are a good enough match, but they rub my heel wrong if I have to walk too far in them so they're not my first choice.

Ships Ahoy Front View

I think this pattern would be fun in a stripe to really play up the bodice detail, and it actually even looks great in plain fabric too. I like that the skirt isn't too full, and the pockets are a hit, of course. I think this one will got lots of wear this summer outside the office, where I can wear it without a sweater and with a cute pair of sandals.

And apologies to those of you who might have an ounce of nautical knowledge, which I clearly do not possess. I called it Ships Ahoy! because the pattern inside the circles reminds me of those flags that they use on sailboats. And the color combo is totally Hamptons chic, don't you think? It just reads nautical to me. Also Ships Ahoy! is almost like Chips Ahoy! and mmmmmm... cookies!

June 1, 2013

MMM'13 weeks four & five wrap-up

We made it, friends! MMM'13 is done! No more morning photo sessions! Can I get a collective sigh of relief, or what? I started to write this week four wrap-up last week, but I got distracted and never finished. Sorry! I'll just squash the last two weeks into one so we can all move on with our lives, eh? Warning: it's long!

I kicked off week four with another recently completed dress that I haven't taken the time to properly write about here. It's New Look 6184 (view D) made up in some slightly stretchy cotton sateen in a funky ikat print. Despite David's reaction when he first saw the fabric: "But... it's so ugly!" I love this print and have been holding on to this fabric trying to find the right dress pattern to highlight it without chopping it up too much, or distorting the horizontal stripey-ness of the print. That's not as easy as I thought! I finally settled on this NL pattern, and I'm pretty pleased with the end result. More photos and a full write up to follow. At some point... Anyway, I paired it with an ancient Old Navy cardigan because it's sleeveless, added an old belt and new boots and I was good to go!

 May 20 May 21

Tuesday I had some fun with color. My Emergency Red Skirt had emerged from a life of laundry room exile and was freshly pressed, so I paired it with a sheer sweater by Nic & Zoe. I think this sweater can easily veer into a breezy running barefoot in the surf in wide-leg linen pants kind of style, which isn't really my bag, so I felt like I needed a little bit of something to ground the floaty sheer print. I added a heavily grommeted wide belt, black flats, and red lips. I think that skewed it a little more rock 'n roll, and I felt pretty awesome in this outfit!

I'm surprised that it took me until week four to reach for my Cambie. I've worn this dress a lot since I made it but have been stumped about how to deal with the exposure from the only kind-of-there cap sleeves in my office. (Just so you know, I don't work in a convent or anything, and it's actually probably fine to expose my shoulders in the office. I just feel weird doing so, hence my repeated yammerings about things being sleeveless and therefore problematic.) Anyway, I think I figured out the perfect solution by layering this lightweight sweater over it and adding a cheap thrifted butterfly belt for a bit of color. Add coordinating green and mustard bead necklace, mustard shoes, et voila! Fun, springy, and office appropriate. Also makes me want to make many more Cambies!

May 22 May 23 

By May 23rd I felt like I was running out of me-made garments, but I still had this corduroy skirt. It's (another) New Look 6030, but it's a different view than the red and denim ones. It's shorter, with the addition of the ruffle on the pocket, which makes it feel a little cutesy to me. I do like it, but definitely think it needs boots and the right top to keep it from reading too juvenile. This rtw pink top works okay, and I really want to steal some of the properties of it for a me-made garment some day. The front pintucked panel is some kind of lightweight silky woven material, but the sleeves and the back are a jersey knit in the exact same color. It makes for a super comfortable top!

Friday of week four was spent in jeans and a non-me-made top. It's funny, because I started out the month thinking that my problem would be that my clothes were too casual, but the only days I struggled to dress in me-mades were casual Fridays. In retrospect I guess it makes sense, because I have lots of skirts and dresses that can dress up or down depending on shoes and accessories, but a tee shirt and most of my other me-made tops are a little too casual, even for Friday in my office. They're fine for weekends, but I couldn't be bothered to photograph myself seven days a week. Four was pushing it enough already!

We had a nice long holiday weekend here for Memorial Day, so Monday was a day off work. I did wear my Briar, but styled it pretty much identically to how I photographed it when I made it, so I didn't bother to take another pic.

Which brings us to Tuesday, week five: the home stretch! I broke out my green Beignet for an encore appearance to see if I could figure out another way to wear it. I paired it with this black tie-neck Banana Republic sweater from long ago, a thrifted skinny black patent belt, and my fave Me Too giraffe print haircalf flats. And Junie thinks you should know that she stole the racecar from her brother and was quite proud of her acquisition.

May 28 May 29

This plaid dress (Vogue 1027) was lingering at the back of the closet because it didn't feel quite right for work. I first wore it on Easter Sunday with delicate gold sandals so I couldn't really envision it any other way. I'm not sure these boots were the right choice, but they did help make it feel more casual. I added a chunky-ish multi-strand necklace and considered topping it with a cardigan but decided not to. Interestingly, I didn't feel too exposed at work in this, despite the lowish neckline and the short cap sleeves. I'm a woman of many contradictions, of this I'm aware.

Two days to go, and I realized that I hadn't worn my Alma yet. Probably because I can really only wear it with denim and the combo makes me feel like a cowgirl. I decided to suck it up and just go with it, pairing it with Gap denim trousers, a white cardi and my green Miz Mooz flats just for the hell of it. This was pretty standard attire for me two months ago when I was a working-from-home mama. Now, I feel like it's terribly uninteresting and I wasn't that comfortable in this outfit at work. Weird, eh?

May 30 May 31

And for the final day of MMM'13, it was another casual Friday, much to my dismay. There were a handful of me-made garments left in my closet that I hadn't worn yet, but this was the only one that I felt like could translate to the office. It's a copycat knit top that is almost an exact replica of a black one I bought at Nordstrom some years back. Had it not been MMM, I would have chosen the black one to better match the shoes. Alternately, I suppose I could have gone with different shoes, but these are so comfy and I knew I had to hike from my office to another corporate location across the city and I try to plan accordingly for trips like that after a few ill-prepared treks resulted in sad feet. Also, if you look closely in the glass door of the bookcase, you can see what I'm looking at when this pic was taken. It's a little Junie apparition!

So that's it! Me Made May done! Pledging to wear my me-mades four days a week ended up being a reasonable thing for me to achieve. I probably could have done five and incorporated a weekend day, but for me this year four was plenty. By next May, I would like to have a closet full of me-made items that work well with my lifestyle and then maybe it will be no big deal to go for the full month every day. It's a good goal!

As for the second half of my pledge, things didn't go so well. I set myself a goal to complete four new items during the course of the month, and I only made two that I like and will wear. I completed a third, but it's not going to see the light of day in its current state. I'll be back at some point to share what I did make, and also finally post a thorough review and more pics of the dresses that I made in April but still haven't blogged about.

And once again, a huge thanks to Zoe for being amazing and organizing this month of sewing fanaticism, and hooray for everyone who participated! I'm still getting caught up on all the posts in my reader, and I've barely had time to poke around the flickr group at all this year. I love that there were so many participants, and it's so much fun to see everyone's creations. How did it go for you? Are you exhausted? Can't wait to wear your RTW, or raring to sew some more?