Saturday, July 25, 2015

Double Gauze Desert Rose Dress

I love this new dress I made for Little Sister so much!

I don't have a lot of time left for sewing projects while I'm here in Tokyo (we move back to the US in less than 2 weeks!), but I knew I wanted to get this one done so that she could wear it in this hot, humid summer climate.

This dress is the Desert Rose pattern from Caila Made, and I just loved it from the first time I saw the pattern.  Of course, I am a cheapskate, so I just admired the pattern without buying it.  In this case though, it paid off, because eventually this pattern was featured as a Friday Fiver, and I was able to snap it up for just $5!  However, this was months ago, and although I printed the pattern out right away, it still took me ages to get going on it.

The main fabric for the skirt is a beautiful double gauze by Nani Iro (called Fuccra).  When I lucked into finding a 2-meter cut for less than $10 because of a small print error, I knew it was perfect for my Desert Rose dress.

See that little white stripe?  That was the only error in the whole 2 meter cut!
And I had a lovely lightweight coral batiste that matched perfectly that I could use for the bodice--I wanted the whole thing to be floaty and light and comfortable for the humid heat of a Tokyo summer.

The breeze really does pick it up--it's a good twirler too!
I wanted to make sure the bodice didn't gape, so I made a size 3 bodice based on Little Sister's measurements (her chest measurement matched the size 3 exactly on the chart, even though she's 5 years old) and it fits perfectly.  Since my bodice fabric was so lightweight (semi-sheer, actually, so it's nice that it's lined, and I used the same fabric for the lining), I interfaced the button placket on both sides and it feels secure.

I thought I would be clever on the skirt--I used the angled tunic skirt with a size 3 at the top but a size 8 in length, thinking that would get me to dress length without printing the dress skirt pattern pages, but I wasn't thinking about the fact that the size 3 bodice is shorter than the size 5.  So my dress was shorter than I wanted.   Next time I'll go ahead and assemble the skirt pattern pages to make sure I get the length I want!

However, I was able to cut it perfectly to avoid the print error!
Fortunately, I really like the look of the 4" panel of the bodice fabric at the hem.

How pretty is that Nani Iro fabric!?
 I really liked the way this pattern came together.  It all looks so professional inside!  I used french seams on the skirt since double gauze frays pretty easily, so there are no raw edges on the inside anywhere.  AND no hand-sewing on the bodice lining, since you topstitch the outside of the bodice instead!  I loved that.

Also, this pattern has pockets--I can't believe I forgot to take a picture of them, since pockets are usually my favorite feature.  I guess it speaks to how much I love this dress overall that the pockets are practically an afterthought, although they came in handy yesterday when my daughter had some drawings she wanted to carry around!

Now I've got to see if I can squeak a top for myself out of the remaining meter of that Nani Iro Fuccra double gauze!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Skirting the Issue 2015: My contribution

Hi!  This is a quick post to show you a couple of quick skirts that I made and tell you about a really cool project going on this month, Skirting the Issue.  Simple Simon and Company host this event in order to inspire sewists to donate skirts to kids in foster care, just in time for the start of the new school year, and they are collaborating with several sewing bloggers this month to provide lots of free skirt patterns and tutorials.  The goal is to collect 1000 skirts this year, and if you'd like to participate the details are in the link I provided above--the basics are that you sew a skirt (or several) by August 15th and donate it to an organization in your area that provides clothing to foster kids.  Then you let the ladies at Simple Simon know how many skirts you made so that they can keep track.

I made this simple elastic-waist full skirt from some fun Melody Miller Rubystar fabric:

size 3T

And this knit a-line skirt with a yoga waistband, using this tutorial from Craftiness is not Optional:

this one is a size 5, but was totally too big for my skinny 5-year-old!
I'll be mailing my skirts to With Love Oregon, an awesome organization that helps set up foster parents with great quality clothing and other supplies they need to help them successfully bring a foster child into their family.  I'd be happy to provide you with a mailing address for your donations if you'd like to participate!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Summer Outfit from Free Patterns!

I have been struggling with getting decent pictures lately, which makes me less motivated to get new things up on my blog.  For some reason, I just could NOT get the photos of this outfit in focus.  My least favorite thing about doing this blog is getting photos of myself--sometimes, using the remote is easy, but more often than not I just can't get the focus or exposure right when I don't have anything to focus on.  As I was going through these photos, I can see my facial expression getting more and more strained as I failed to get the shots I wanted, and of course I feel weird whenever people walk by.

BUT!  I will still share the outfit, because these are good patterns and you should try them out.

You get the idea.
First, the skirt.  This is the free Simple Summer Pleated Skirt pattern from Sew So Easy, and here are my thoughts about it.

1.  The pattern goes together easily and looks really professional.  Here's my back zip!  I really liked putting it together.

Pattern matching WHAT!
2.  The pattern suggests using a lightweight drapey fabric, and I concur.  I used a stiffer Japanese linen/cotton blend, and I'm not in love with the way it falls.  This pattern is not meant for a structured skirt.  You could, however, use a more structured fabric for the waistband but something with drape for the skirt.  I was thinking the structured fabric would give the skirt more of a pencil look, but it doesn't.  I'm thinking of trying Delia's pleated pencil skirt to get the effect I was going for here.

3.  The pattern runs big.  I cut out the appropriate waistband based on my measurements, and had to cut out over 3 inches altogether.  Be sure to test your waistband size before you attach it to the skirt.

4.  There are POCKETS!  Yay.

The top is the free Perfect Cap Sleeve Tee from iCandy Homemade.  I have made this top a few times before, and I love its simplicity.  The free pattern is a size medium, and it works well for a loose top on me.  This time though, I was going for a more fitted look, so I tried cutting this one smaller just by placing the pattern off the fold a little bit.  That was not the best way to do the fit adjustment because now I don't like the neckline quite as much and the sleeves fit a little weird (I added the sleeve bands, but that's not the problem), but it's still baggier than I want in the torso.  I will have to play around with resizing this pattern differently to get the fit I want.

This fabric is a slub knit from Girl Charlee.  It's almost see through but not quite--I can get away with it if I wear a nude bra.  Anyway, I like this outfit better with the shirt tucked in (NOT my usual M.O. but in this case...)

Anyway, there's an outfit I made lately and am moderately happy with but not excited.  It can't all be perfect!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Sleeveless Out and About Dress

Another dress--my favorite thing to make!

This dress is a sleeveless version of the Out and About Dress from Sew Caroline.  I sewed up a 3/4 sleeve one from a thick knit a few months back, and knew I would need a sleeveless one for summer. When I found this lightweight knit for 100 yen per meter, it was time to give it a try!

I struggled a little bit with the sizing on this dress--as a matter of fact, it was an issue the last time I made it as well, but in that case I was using a more unfamiliar fabric and thought that was where the problems came from.  According to my measurements, I am between a medium and large for this pattern, leaning to the large.  I cut out the medium but used slightly smaller seam allowances than the 1/2 inch the pattern calls for...and it was really too big. 
First I thought I would try adding elastic to the waistline on the inside, maybe giving the top a loose, blousy look.  But it didn't really work; the whole bodice just seemed to pull to the back.

well hello there, munchkin.
I actually wore it out like this, with a belt, but decided by the end of the day that it was a no-go.

In the end, I had to remove the elastic and re-sew the side seams an inch further in on both sides (so removing almost 4 full inches from the bodice!)  Also (and this actually made the biggest difference, I think), I shortened the bodice by about 2 inches.  

That's better!
This was a problem I had the last time I made this dress too--the bodice just looks too long on me!  It doesn't look that way in the pattern photos, so I don't know why mine keeps coming out wrong.  It's also strange because I have a long torso--I am typically lengthening things, not shortening them, but I guess when it comes to a bodice seam line I just like mine a little north of the natural waist.  Looks like it's time to slice the bottom of off my bodice pattern pieces!

Other modifications: surprise surprise, I made the neckline a little bigger, as usual.  I also made the skirt panels about 3" narrower so that I could just use the whole width of my fabric.  The pattern calls for the skirt panels to be 30" wide, but my fabric was 54" wide so I just cut two 27" panels.

All that said, I really do like this dress and this pattern.  Now that I THINK I've got the fit dialed in, this dress should go together really quickly.  It's comfy and it's got great pockets and lots of sleeve and length options, so I'm glad it's a pattern that's in my repertoire.  

Oh, I also wanted to show you a close up of this fabric.  It's really light and soft, with a neat diagonal texture to it, and I like the way it looks on the neck and arm binding:

I'm sure that part of my fit problem was because the fabric is verrrrry stretchy, so I should have cut it smaller to account for that.  Ah well, you live, you learn!  It's pretty great to be able to buy fabric so cheaply so I'm not afraid to just mess around and try new patterns--if it didn't work out, I would only have been out about $2!  Plus my time, of course.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Nani Iro Pajama Shorts

I have to admit, I am not much of a shorts person.  But after seeing Shorts on the Line, hosted by Rachael at Imagine Gnats for the last few years, I've been thinking it might be fun to try making some.

Now, these are pj's, so it's still baby steps--I'm not ready to try making shorts to be worn in public yet.  But as pajamas go, these are maybe the best I've ever had.  As a matter of fact, I made two pairs--one to try out the pattern before cutting into my Nani Iro double gauze (it's Pocho Adzuki Bean, a dark eggplant color--love it!)

The first pair is made from double gauze printed in Japan.  I love this fun print and I have bought it in several different colors!

I used the free Bias Trim Shorts pattern from Melly Sews, and since I was using a woven instead of a knit, I followed her instructions from this tutorial, where she makes a pair out of a satiny fabric.  Basically I slit the pattern pieces in the middle and added another half-inch of width to both pieces.  She says to add a quarter of an inch, but I'm slightly larger than the measurements she gives for the pattern so I bumped it up a little extra.  I also added about .75 inch to the length just for the heck of it.

Just what you want to see, right? A couple of pictures of my butt.
Maybe this is the real reason why I don't sew more pants...

I made both pairs exactly the same way--I was so pleased with how the first pair came out that I didn't change a thing for the Nani Iro pair!

In addition to changing the sizing slightly, I also used single fold bias tape instead of double fold.  This was mostly for practical reasons--the bias tape I wanted to use just happened to be single fold!  For the first pair, I had a package of vintage bias tape in exactly the right color, and it was a little bit silky, not a basic cotton kind.  Nice for pajamas, right?

And for the second pair, I knew I wanted to use the bias tape I found at my local 100 yen store, made from traditional Japanese print fabric.  Unfortunately, it only came in 1 meter packs, and I couldn't find more than 2 packs of any one print.  The pattern calls for 3 meters, but after making the first pair I thought I might be able to fudge it, since some of the bias tape ends up hidden on the inside when you sew the side seams together.

This worked great--I used exactly one meter on each side of the shorts, and was able to hide the unfinished edges on the inside.  As a matter of fact, I cut the back pattern pieces so that the exposed edge was on the selvage, so there weren't any raw edges to speak of.

Here is the front and back pieces for one side, sewn together and with bias tape attached.
You can see the white selvage edge where I ran out of bias tape.

Here's how the inside looks when you use single fold bias tape instead of double.

The Nani Iro double gauze I used was a great deal--I found two .6 meter cuts of it for 360 yen each (about $3) since there was a little bit of a print error.  I don't know if you can tell, but some of the dots have a tiny dot of the background color on them.  I think it looks fine!

Pre-sewing it all together
And I still have enough left to make a pair of shorts for Little Sister (although I'll have to find a different bias tape to use on hers.)  I'm actually hoping more of this bias tape will turn up, because I'd love to make a bias-trimmed tank top to go with these.

One final shot, to show how they look proportionally.  It felt weird to have a whole post with no pictures of my face!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Everyday Elsa

I have a confession to make--I am linking this dress up to this month's Project Run and Play, but I didn't make it specifically for that. Edited--I planned to link it up, but I was too late!  Just missed the collection. Boo.

As a matter of fact, I had been checking frequently to find out what June's pattern would be, and when I saw the Elsa pattern chosen by this month's host, Kiki from Kiki and Company, I laughed, because I had just finished an Elsa dress for Little Sister literally the day before.  I figured it was meant to be, even if I didn't use the actual pattern, so I'm linking up anyway! (uh...not so much meant to be after all.)

It still took me 3 weeks to get photos taken of it though, so I'm finally getting the blog post up.  And another confession--I started getting worried that I wouldn't get photos done at all, so when Little Sister chose this dress to wear on her first day of summer camp today, I told her we were going to take a few pics before school.

Luckily she was mostly game, and as a matter of fact she was inspired--she pulled the curtains back and told me we should use the white sheers and pretend it was snow!  We gave it a try, so these photos are her own idea.

The fabrics are knits from Girl Charlee that I brought with me when we moved to Japan.  The print on the white fabric has a slightly Scandinavian feel to me, so I thought it would be fun to make a casual dress that was inspired by Elsa.

The free Peep-Hem Dress pattern from Rock the Stitch was perfect for it--I just color-blocked the bodice (and did a lettuce hem on the top layer--something I've never tried before!)

I've had my eye on this free pattern for a long time, but it's finally a perfect fit for my 5-year-old, so the time was right!

I can see making this dress in lots of other fun fabric combinations--with the color blocked bodice, I could even see using wovens and keeping the top of the bodice in a knit.

The back--I just cut straight across to match up with the curved color blocking I did on the front of the bodice.
These particular knits from Girl Charlee are really light and soft, so even the two-layer skirt will be great for the hot summer weather.

I always love linking up to Project Run and Play, especially to see the other interpretations of the theme!  Take a look at this month's contributors here.

Also, take a look at this dress in action--perfect for our final visit to Tokyo Disneyland!  We made it there twice in our year in Tokyo, and really had great visits both times.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Double Gauze Dotty Skirt

This is one of those easy projects I've been meaning to do for a while, and finally got around to it.  Just in time, too--the weather is perfect for a breezy, comfy, fun, bright skirt!

Let's pretend that sign says "I love your skirt!"

This skirt has an exposed elastic waistband (here's a great tutorial on doing one from Dana of MADE), and the skirt is just a rectangle of some dreamy Japanese double-gauze (with pockets, of course!)

In case you want to make one JUST like mine, I'll give you some details:

1.  I had just over 2 meters of a border-print double gauze (like, 6 cm over), so I cut it lengthwise down the middle to put the print along the hem.  I had a tiny hem, first to use as little fabric as possible but also so I could remember what this fabric was later by keeping the selvage visible ;)

2.  I wanted 2 side seams, rather than one back seam, so that I could add pockets.  So I cut 2 rectangles that were each 103 cm wide (40.5 inches) and 20.5 inches long (since I had that tiny selvage hem--if you're doing a regular hem you will want to add a little length).  Oh, I guess it's relevant to know that my waist measurement is about 31", so the total width of the skirt was just about 2.5 times my waist measurement.  I wanted it to be full, since the double gauze is so soft and floaty!

Or maybe the sign says, "Parking for Awesome Skirts Only."

3.  I cut out four pocket pieces (I used a basic white muslin so I could save the rest of my double gauze) and attached them 2.5 inches down from the top of the skirt.  Here's a perfect free pocket pattern from See Kate Sew if you don't already have one you like!

Boo on my pattern matching!

4.  I sewed my side seams using french seams since double gauze frays quite a bit.  (Here's a french seam tutorial from Tilly and the Buttons.) Did you know you can sew a french seam even when you've added a pocket?  You just go right around it, and make sure to clip the curves when you turn it around to sew the second seam!  However you sew the side seams together, make sure to give it a good pressing before you continue.

5.  If I had a serger here in Japan, I would have serged the raw edges at the top of the skirt before attaching the elastic waist.  I don't, so instead I pressed the raw edges towards the outside of the skirt twice like I was doing a teeny tiny hem, except for turned to the outside of the skirt instead of the inside.  It doesn't really matter which way, but this way it's hidden under the elastic so you don't see it on the inside or the outside.

6.  Next, I gathered the top of the skirt so that it was just slightly bigger than my hip measurement.  I wanted it to easily slip on and off.  Dana from Made ALSO has a nice gathering tutorial if you need it--I admit to using the cheater method whenever I think I can get away with it! I like to gather the front and back separately, just because I get nervous gathering such a large amount all at once!  Once I have it to the width I want, I tie off my gathering threads then make sure the gathers are adjusted evenly.

7.  Time to attach the elastic!  The gathered top of your skirt should be a few inches wider than your elastic.  Now's the time to look at the tutorial from Dana on making the waistband and attaching the elastic!  Hers is an easy and nice-looking method--it's for a circle skirt but this one will work the same way.  But....

8.  Full disclosure--I did attach my elastic differently.  First of all, I started with the skirt inside out (with the gathers visible, laying on top of the elastic) so that I could make sure I had my gathers laying flat on the inside.  I did a wide zig-zag grabbing the gathered top of the skirt, about a half inch away from the edge of the elastic.  Second of all, I actually sewed the elastic twice.  After attaching the elastic, I turned the skirt right-side out and sewed the bottom edge of the elastic down with a tiny zig-zag.   Here's how my waistband looks, outside and in:

See the two zig-zag lines of stitching?

9.  Oh, you can see that I also covered the back seam on my elastic waistband with some bias tape.  Just for fun.  And then I don't need to put a tag in to find the back easily :)  If you do this, put it on before attaching the waistband to the skirt!

They had little one-meter packs of traditional Japanese print bias tape at the 100 yen store! I bought lots.

10.  I saved the hemming for last, so I could adjust the length if necessary.  I was using a border print, which gave me less leeway than usual on how much I can hem it, so I tried to be accurate with my cutting and it turned out right on.  I am 5'7", and depending on where I place the skirt on my waist it's just above knee or knee length.

With the elastic sitting below my belly-button.
I tried it at my natural waist but it just wasn't as flattering.

11.  I tried to find an online source for this fabric, but alas, I haven't had any luck.  This was a remnant I bought at Tomato, the awesome fabric store in Nippori, so just to rub it in I'll tell you that I paid 600 yen (less than $5) for 2 meters of it.

And now, I just want to wear this skirt all summer!  Or maybe I'll make a few more--I have been addicted to buying double gauze and this would be the perfect thing to make out of it :)

Oh, and one more thing...

Hey guys...guess what?  This skirt just won an award!

Yes, that IS how I really feel about it!
And from the skirtmaster herself, Audrey from Skirt Fixation!  This is so cool and unexpected.

I was awarded the Best Woven Skirt in her 2015 Spring Skirt awards.  Believe me, you have got to check out the winners in the other categories--so many great skirts!  I'm excited to check them out.