New dress for fall

Before this spring, I had never sewn with ponte despite having a few cuts in stash. I made up two pairs of pants this spring and they are very comfortable, although both are pilling a bit on the inner thighs. This meant I was pretty sure that any future uses would have to be dresses to eliminate that concern, but I had no plans. Then, this lovely bolt of wine colored ponte (rayon/nylon, which never happens) showed up at Hancock’s just screaming to become a dress.
Additionally, I needed a new dress as I was going to the symphony last weekend, but no, this didn’t get done in time, alas. After going through my ridiculous pattern stash, I settled on Vogue 1360, a Kay Unger design. Some of her designs veer matronly in my mind (1182, I’m looking at you), though apparently not enough to keep the patterns from being bought and in one case, tried. This one, however, was perfect for what I had in mind. The seaming is interesting without being too much and the princess seams were perfect for getting the fit right.

So let’s talk alterations. This dress is labeled close-fitting, but I didn’t want something that would need the Spanx for wearing on an everyday basis and I worried that the size 14 I normally cut for dress bottoms/skirts would be too tight, as, cough, I’ve put on some weight. I cut the skirt front and back side pieces out as a straight size 16. The front and back pieces were traced as a size 10 with ½” tucked out above the princess seams and then pivoted for the side seam only into a size 16 at the waist; I didn’t slide as I did not want to be adding length since I was using slash and spread for the FBA, which doesn’t add length. Same deal for the side back bodice. The side front bodice got a ¾” FBA and a smidge added to the side to line it up with the side front skirt cutting line. A quick tissue fitting showed that the bust apex was then 1 1/8” too high, so that was lowered. I measured the back length on a quick hunch and it was ½” too long still, but seemed fine in the front, so I tucked out for a swayback, though the back view shows that I still have too much extra fabric there.
Actually, now that I’m looking at the pictures, I don’t think a swayback tuck was the right answer. I should have shortened the entire bodice just above the waist. The curve of the hip is hitting a little lower than the curve of my hip. So I keep pulling the front down to smooth it out, obscuring the problem, but I’m not able to hide it in the back as readily.

Moving on, when sewing everything together I decided to test whether or not I had enough stretch in the fabric to get it on allowing me to omit the zipper. Happily I was able to and not just because I got to skip putting in the zipper. I have a continual problem with back necklines standing away from my body and extra fabric between the shoulder blades. I think I should be doing a narrow back adjustment, but I’ve never tried that and I am unsure what I should do with the neckline. My quick and dirty answer for this dress was to just take it in along the back seam to get a better fit. I ended up with a 1 ¼” seam allowance, but it did solve the problem for this dress. Deeper back necklines don’t have the same problem, so I think it’s something about my upper back and neck, but I haven’t bothered figuring it out yet. Hey, I’m just happy I remembered to petite this dress.
Back seam, showing the basting at 5/8″ and the stitching at 1 1/4″ Note the totally not matching thread. How did I end up with 6 different spools of red thread that are all wrong for this fabric? I settled on gray and purple instead.

Overall I’m thrilled with this dress and love that it’s comfortable, yet put together feeling. My other knit dresses all scream casual to me, so this is definitely a great addition to my wardrobe. Thinking about it, most of my dresses are prints and there is something nice about wearing a solid color. The ponte was a dream to sew with and everything was constructed with just the sewing machine. The only thing I didn’t like about the fabric was that it was not the best at pressing. Even at the lowest setting on the iron, I was getting impressions from the seam allowance and using a press cloth did not help. Weird. The tricot lining was a bit of a pain as it seemed to grow in size and wants to creep up under the dress (I haven’t tacked it at the bottom yet). I hemmed by hand using the weird invisible nylon thread, which I was not thrilled to be using, but I had no thread that would have worked otherwise.
I finished up in time to take the kids to Chick-Fil-A for dinner, and I was pleasantly surprised when the high school-aged girl behind the counter complimented me on my dress. No, it’s not the first time that people in person have said nice things about dresses that I’ve made, but it’s always nice to hear as I tend to worry that my handmade clothes stick out and not in a good way. So getting kind remarks from people who have no idea that I sew makes my day.


Kid sewing

One of the downsides to kids is every time you think they have a complete wardrobe, they grow. My daughter had no pajama pants that fit. This might be an issue seeing as how we are headed into the winter months. Yesterday we were in Jo-Ann for Halloween costume fabric, but the kids got sidetracked by the aisle with the licensed character prints. My daughter found a My Little Pony broadcloth and wanted it. I should have said no, but I totally didn’t as I’m a sucker for anything with Rainbow Dash on it.


Of course one of the questions I have always asked myself about those broadcloths is what does one do with them. The flannel is pretty obvious, but I’ve never thought of doing pajama pants in the broadcloth. Alas, no MLP in flannel, so for once, I was willing to be flexible. I have a gazillion patterns, but not one for a child size pajama, so with Simplicity as the sale flavor of the weekend, I picked out 2290, a Learn to Sew pattern with pajama pants for the whole family.


There’s a whopping single pattern piece and the whole project is done fast enough that she is wearing them to bed tonight. That makes this project the single fastest turnaround from fabric/pattern purchase to final garment that I have ever done. The seams were done on the serger, the waist was a piece of leftover elastic from my Donna Karan pants that was just the right length, and a super deep hem because my girl is quite petite (10th percentile!) and the size range covers 6 to 8, which covers heights of 47” to 52” per the size chart on my other kids patterns.

I was pleasantly surprised by the first page of instructions and how they assumed you knew nothing of sewing and walked through all of the steps needed to make these pants. No, I don’t need that amount of handholding, but my daughter would like it. I also liked how the instructions covered using a piece of twill tape to mark center back whether making this for kids or adults to make it easy to figure out, especially if you are like me and one to skip the decorative bow on the front. Needless to say, the whole project worked out well and I have a piece of flannel from the stash that I’m going to use to make her another pair.


As mentioned earlier, the real reason we were at Jo-Ann was to pick up the fabric for her Halloween costume. She wants to be Elsa and I am sort of dreading this project. Not that the pattern looks difficult and I’m totally omitting the appliqued snowflakes, it’s just that costume sewing always destroys my sewing mojo. Two years ago I made the Tangled Rapunzel dress and I refused to touch my machine for six months afterwards. I don’t want that to happen this year, and I don’t want to frantically finishing hems at 4:30, 5:00, and so on (no, I have never finished a Halloween costume before the afternoon of October 31). So if it seems like I’m working on anything but the Elsa costume between now and then, that’s because I am.

Embarking on fall sewing!

Cut out fabric one night and sew it together the next morning using fabric that was bought in the current calendar year? This is unprecedented in my world.


McCall’s 6964 is one of the Palmer/Pletsch t-shirt patterns. They feature all sorts of fitting lines and tips, but frankly, I’ve never been happy with a FBA in a knit. I prefer to let the knit do all of the work and I think a bit of no-to-negative ease in the bust looks best. In short, I totally disregarded everything in the instructions and just cut what is my usual for knits, 10 in the shoulders going to a 14 below the arms. I also chose to sew the side and underarm seam at 3/8” for a smidge more space. I like how that worked out through the waist.


The top is view B with the V-neck and well, I’ve never made a great looking one of those before. You can see where the point of the v between the front piece and the neckline didn’t match. I even basted everything in place first, but this was really the best I was able to do this time. I think I will explore the overlapping neck band at the point of the neckline in the future to see if I can get better results that way.

The inside really shows how off center I got, so instead, let’s focus on that stay tape on the shoulder that is so much better than clear elastic for stabilizing the shoulder seam

The fabric is a cotton interlock from Jo-Ann and it’s a breeze to work with compared to jersey. Alas, previous experience tells me that this fabric won’t be the most durable with repeated wear and laundering, but I really liked the color and the sale price. For less than $10 in fabric cost, so long as I can get a year of use out it, I will be happy.

Now, I’m totally cringing at this picture as it’s not flattering, but you can see pretty clearly the fitting problems that exist on this make.


No, I didn’t petite this one above the bust because the marked bust point on the pattern was already an inch above mine, but I should have. You would think that after umpteen blog posts where I point out where I should have petited the top of the bodice that I would remember to just trust myself and do it anyway, but no, failed that one again. I generally don’t mess that up too badly with wovens but there’s something about these quick knit projects that makes me, frankly, lazy. Also, see those shoulders, they are definitely too wide for me.

Trying on the unfinished top was funny because it was long enough unhemmed to reach my crotch. Not a good look. I couldn’t decide what length to hem to when I realized that the top I was wearing was one that I love the length on, so I used it as guide to determine how long I wanted to go. No need to reinvent the wheel.

The spotted top is OOP Vogue 8679

I ended up with a 3.5 inch hem.  That’s insane.

Fortunately the sleeves were much less of a hassle as I had taken some length out in the cutting stage when I realized holding up the tissue that the three quarter length was only two inches shy of my wrist bone. There’s a lesson here about preparing early on which makes projects easier, but I’m going to ignore it. Instead, look at my puppy!

Mom, put me down.