Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Fall Layers - Lou Box Top Dress

This fall I've been trying to think more about how the things I knit, and sew fit into my wardrobe as a whole. These thoughts are the natural progression from one who sews to learn skills, so focused on a welt pocket or hidden zipper that the garment itself hardly matters, to one who sews to build a wardrobe, and has the luxury of taking a step back for a better view of the big picture. My frame of mind is also influenced by the general feelings in the maker community embodied in Slow Fashion October. Simple as this dress is, it is a step toward a handmade wardrobe that will last a long time. I'm also influenced by the indie fashion community and its current penchant for capsule wardrobes, sustainably made clothing, and minimalist closets. 

All that to say that when I made my fall and winter sewing plans, I thought of the individual garments as a flexible collection of versatile layers. When these pieces are pared with the things I have in my current closet rotation they will make a more versatile wardrobe. Nothing that will stop traffic, but it makes me feel good. This dress in particular makes me feel very good. It is effortless to throw on, and when I get tired of its simplicity (could that ever happen?!) I can layer it up to add interest. It is a modified Lou Box Top that I am calling Layer #1.
If you're questioning the need for such a simple pattern, take heart, I have sewn the Lou Box Top from Sew DIY at least 5 times. It's a useful and dependable starting point for making all your unstructured top dreams come true. You could also use the Blanc Tee from Blank Slate Patterns (affiliate link), or Mariella Walker's Maya Dress/Top. I was uncertain about how I would look in such a shapeless dress, but after a little research (including the Sew Bon Lou Box dress, Erin's Maxi version, and a rayon tunic I tried on at Target) I determined that the key to a successful sack dress is the fabric. The right one would have a bit of body, and nice drape so my shape isn't completely overwhelmed. For Layer #1 I wanted something in the tan family so it could go with denim and black, and short sleeved so I can wear it in the summer too. I wanted a goldilocks length that could be worn as a dress bare legged, or with the skinniest of jeans as a tunic. 

This rayon modal (so said the bolt) is from Joann Fabric. When I found it I wanted to scream and jump up and down a la someone who just found Chanel at the thrift store. I would call this fabric medium weight, it's heavier and more opaque than rayon challis. It has a beautiful drape, and a subtle chambray-like variation in the color from beige to white. The cherry on top of this delicious sundae is that is gets a uniform crinkle texture after it is washed and dried! The lady at the cutting table was determined not to share in my ecstasy, and kept tut-tuting about how tricky is would be to cut. It was actually pretty easy to cut, and sew. I went back for more a week later and couldn't find it, also can't find it online. It was in the denim section, and worth a thorough search if you're headed to Joann. I promise to be a very good girl this year if Santa would only bring me this fabric in a light washed denim blue, and a dark olive green. 
The rayon is easy to cut and sew, but frayed like a son of a gun. I like the level of interior finish to be reciprocal to the complexity of construction. This top is the simplest construction around, so the finishes had to be top notch. Most of the body seams are clean finish seams top stitched to the body of the garment, and the side seams are french.  I added 1 1/2" cuffs to each sleeve, changed the neck opening, and used a subtle hi/lo hem. That's the beauty of a simple pattern,
I've got some more substantial layers planned to go with this little dress, but in the mean time I'll wear it with this me-made scarf. I'm sharing the scarf tutorial on Petit a Petit and Family today.  It's a very versatile scarf, and very easy to make. Go check it out!

Dress Pattern: Lou Box Top by Sew DIY
Dress Fabric: Rayon Modal (item #400152176316 not currently online) from Joann Fabric
Boots: Petty Ankle Bootie by Sam Edelman
Scarf Pattern: SweetKM Tutorial on Petit a Petit


Monday, October 10, 2016

Nani Iro Raw Edge Marthe Blouse

I'm feeling a little all dressed up with no place to go, wearing more sparkle and frill than than you usually encounter on a Tuesday. This is the Marthe Blouse from Republique du Chiffon. After seeing Ingrid's top, and Sophie's top, and Nicoletta's fantastic dress version I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. 

The Marthe Blouse is a woven raglan sleeve peplum top with a button or zip back closure. This is my first time sewing with Republique du Chiffon. The instructions are pretty sparse, and seam allowances are not included, but the pattern is well drafted, and the sizing is spot on. The details of most Republique du Chiffon patterns are feminine without being too romantic. I'm not a ruffle, or ruching kind of girl, but the simple designs, and modern styling minimize the fluff. 
The whole point of making this top was to have ample opportunity to use the unique double gauze selvage at the sleeve edge. Japanese Nani Iro double gauze is made of two woven layers, tacked together at intervals. I'm not sure how it's made, but it seems like it's woven in a tube, then flattened and tacked. Both selvages are just a creased fold. Even with the Nani Iro label at the edge, it's a very clean finish. I wanted to include the selvage and the text on the finished garment. I did this with a Scout Tee I made last year, using the selvage at the sleeve openings. When I realized the peplum on the Marthe Blouse was just a rectangle I decided to use the selvage there too. The only problem, (and there's always a problem) I didn't have enough fabric, but I cut into it anyway. 

Most of this delicious Nani dot came from Miss Matatabi (located in Japan). When I realized I didn't have enough, I was in a hurry to finish so I ordered another yard from Imagine Gnats, in the hope that it would arrive more quickly. My fabric arrived dazzlingly fast (thanks Rachel!). I was assuming the two fabrics would be from different dye lots, and the colors might not match perfectly. That angst was unfounded. The color and quality of both fabrics are an absolutely perfect match. BUT, when I got the American fabric I realized it doesn't have the same selvedge finish!! I wasn't about to blow more money on more of the same fabric, so I turned under the tiniest bit and did a zig zag hem. You would never notice if I didn't tell you, but after going on and on about the lovely selvedge I thought I should alert you to the difference.
I love the metallic sheen of the dots. It makes the fabric seem like you're wearing something far more lux than cotton. I couldn't resist matching it up with beefy earrings and shiny sandals. Now, to find someplace to wear this get up!


Pants: Purchased (similar)
Sandals: Purchased (similar)
Earrings: Shale Earrings from Bario Neal


Friday, October 7, 2016

Nah-Connection Pattern Shop Opening - Bethioua Top

One of the best things about the internet (after late night shoe shopping) is getting to know sewists from all over the world. The second best thing about the internet is easy access to PDF sewing patterns from all over the world. Annika from Nah-Connection has been sewing beautiful international design for a while. Last year she started offering German translation of English patterns to German sewists. This week she's flipped that scenario and is now translating German patterns for English sewists! I'm so excited about this concept. I've sewn foreign language patterns before, but the process of deciphering a language I don't know is time consuming, and Google translate only gets you so far. 

To celebrate the new Nah-Connection English patterns, I made L a Bethioua Top designed by Elle Puls from the Nah-Connection shop
The Bethioua is a fresh variation on the standard knit raglan t-shirt. The front is a traditional raglan, but in the back the sleeve pieces meet at a center seam. It's such a simple thing, but it it creates just enough interest that I'm in love. The pattern is unisex and includes 3 sleeve options and 3 hem options. The pattern layout and instructions are very complete and professional.

The body of the tee is made with a very drapey sweater knit from discount warehouse Jomar fabrics in South Philly. The sleeves were cut out of an old men's t-shirt. I went with the high low hem, and no sleeve cuffs for my version. My only alteration was to add 2" to the back body then gather it at the back center to take extra advantage of the lovely drape of this fabric.

I love the versatility of this design. It works for boys or girls, can be a heavy sweatshirt or a short sleeve tee. The back detail really lends itself to stripes so you get a great V at the back seam.

Annika is offering some great discounts on English patterns. Stop by Nah-Connection Pattern Shop to check it out!


Thursday, September 8, 2016

Mini Ogden, Mini Emerson, Mini Capsule

This kid has discovered t-shirts and shorts. She used to be a dresses only kind of girl, and the flowier the better. This summer shes figured out that shorts are so much easier to play in. Her limited selection of shorts and tees were ill fitting, mismatched hand-me-downs.

We came across this delightful t-shirt when we were at the Wetlands Institute this summer. We go to the Wetlands every year, and every year we find some new topic of mid-Atlantic coastal life to fascinate us. This year we helped some interns catch dinner for the creatures in the Wetlands aquariums. Each kid got a net, and the naturalists helped them identify whatever they caught. After that dazzling exhibition of hands-on learning I'd have to be made of stone not to buy something in the gift shop. They have a thoughtful selection of nature books, and some of the cutest t-shirts around. We couldnt resist this Wetlands tee considering L was in the market for separates. 
The Red Knot tee was designed by Chirp Kids Clothes. Its part of a 4 shirt series featuring NJ shore birds. The Red Knot is the most famous Jersey shore bird no one has ever seen. Okay, somebody has seen it, but I never have, we pass through South Jersey at different times.

We got the shirt home just as the newest Mini patterns from True Bias were being tested. With the Red Knot Tee as the inspiration, I came up with a couple of mix and match-able pieces (i.e. mini capsule wardrobe) using the new Mini Emerson Shorts, and Mini Ogden Cami
I thought this floral linen would go nicely with the colors in the tee, so I sacrificed a dress made in the spring, that I never wore out of the house, for the project. I'm generally reluctant to trash even a muslin,  but I already altered it once, and it still wasn't quite right. I had the Craft Sessions Stash Less Challenge in mind when I started seam ripping.  I managed to squeeze a cami, and a pair shorts out of the dress

The floral on floral combo is Ls favorite and the one she is most likely to choose on her own. She tucks the cami in tight and calls it her pretend jumpsuit because it looks like its all one piece. I might get a little tired of all that print, so I made a denim pair of shorts with a few scraps of Art Gallery Fabric Lightweight Denim (left over from my last Alder Shirtdress) as a more neutral/sane option.
L measured as an 8 for the shorts, and I made her an 8 exactly as written. She measured a 7 for the tank, but I sized up to an 8 so she can hopefully wear it next year too.

Both patterns are well written, well sized, and have a lot of potential for customization. I would love to lengthen the Ogden tank into a dress, and will definitely try the Emerson as cropped pants. Both patterns are a simple sew. I made the cami and denim shorts, start to finish, in one day.
If only we had another vacation planned, these pieces, plus the Mini Colfax dress from the spring, would sure make packing for a beach trip easy.


The Mini Ogden and Emerson patterns came out yesterday, check out Kelli's blog for a discount code!

Project Notes:
Tank Pattern: Mini Ogden from True Bias
Shorts Pattern: Mini Emerson Shorts/Pants from True Bias
Floral Fabric: Linen from Joann Fabric
Solid Fabric: Lightweight Denim by Art Gallery Fabrics from Fabric Worm
T-Shirt: Red Knot by Chirp Kids Clothes from The WetlandsInstitute