MOAR Dressies!

Drafting a shirt dress from my sloper…

I present to you, a shirt dress! It’s the sloper dress with a placket added. Basically, I took the sloper bodice, added 1.5″ out from the center front (CF) for the placket, and borrowed the collar pieces from my fitted shirt pattern.

There have been several new shirt dress patterns released by the Magical Girls of Indie Sewing Land, so the project has been on my mind. When the CP Penny dress came out, with it’s wonky buttons and crotch placket, I knew I could do better.

Because 1. I hate doing a pants fly 2. f that waistband 3. I like a challenge and the taste of rivalry (even if it’s just for me)

Rolling my massive dragon belly aside, I selected from my hoard a very special cotton that is printed with all the moon phases in glorious color. I’ve been saving it for a dress for about a year.

To retain the proper fit, I had to make sure the 2 sides of the bodice would meet at exactly the CF line. Therefore, the buttons and button holes had to be on that CF line. I marked the line with a straight pins and carefully folded, then pressed and top stitched the placket. I put the button holes on first, then basted the bodice pieces together at the waistline.

Next, I sewed up the skirt and pockets in the usual way and attached it to the bodice very carefully. Nearly done!

The next challenge was marrying the back zipper with the shirt collar. I installed a lapped zipper, making sure the pull tab was clear of the neckline’s 5/8″ SA. This left the tab ~3/4″ below the raw edge. I made the collar and stand normally. I zipped the dress up and hand-stitched the top of the zipper tape together for stability.

I began attaching the collar at the center back, starting at the zipper, working outwards. It was a cinch!

At this point, I showed the dress to my husband.  Due to the experimental nature of this project, I saved the intended sleeves for last. If the dress had failed, it would have become a skirt, the sleeves wasted.

He and I agreed it looked awesome without sleeves. So I ditched them in favor of self bias tape.

Armscye finished with self bias tape and the blood of my enemies on the desk (jk it’s acrylic paint)

At the current moment, I’m more proud of this dress than any other. As usual, I had my doubts while constructing it but I trusted my skills!

Morris Blazers

This past Spring I made a color blocked Morris Blazer from leftover fabrics used to make 2 of my Safran pants.

The blazer is an easy pattern. It’s unlined and can be made in both wovens and knits. I also made a turquoise version in a light chambray, which I cut on the bias to add a bit of stretch.

My one beef with the pattern is this – they call for medium weight knits or “woven fabrics with a bit of stretch”.

What, exactly, is a bit of stretch? 5%? 10%? The lack of specificity, the vaguery at foot! Are you trying to make me waste fabric??

Anyway, my conclusion to a bit of stretch is that a bias-cut woven is just barely enough. The sleeves were nearly too narrow in the woven (I had to use 1/4″ seams with vigorous zig-zag finishing) but they are lovely in the stretch denim I used this time.

As said fabrics are stretch denim, the blazer is mega comfortable. They’re different colors of the same fabric, medium weight and have 30% stretch.

I didn’t have enough of each to make its own blazer so I combined them to create a grey and black Morris. I added a functional welt pocket on the right side. I bound the seams with a tropical homemade bias tape.

MB2.0 Innards

The cool part is this jacket matches the 2 Safrans made from these fabrics. I was mildly inspired by Tim Gunn/Project Runway. Make it work!

PS if you are wondering about my pins here they are:

Fox Pin (ToryNova on etsy)

Stay Home Club pin

Sloper Dress & New Armscye

I finally used my sloper to draft a dress! yaaaay!

It’s a very simple dress so far. The bodice is my sloper straight-up, the skirt is a half-circle skirt I drafted last year. I ran into some problems making this pattern, despite how simple it appeared.

The first issue I encountered was due to flaws in the original sloper. It needed a SBA. I’m a bit mad at myself for not realizing this from the start because, when I drafted my fitted shirt, I had to make an SBA on that pattern as well.

So, I made the SBA on the sloper. I left the CF waist darts as they were post-SBA. This was a mistake because it made the bodice wider than the skirt and the side seams did not match! To remedy that, I added the original waist darts back in. That got the bodice and skirt side seams to match.

The other issue with my old sloper was the armscye. I carved it out a little bit on the fitted shirt (not enough BTW) but I failed to apply that to the sloper. The armscye was about 1″ too big (the seam hit on my arm not my armpit). This limited my comfortable mobility quite a bit. The sleeve was also too small.

And the final problem – the bodice fit perfectly at my waist, but had alot of extra fabric in the underarm side seam area.

I took my pattern to the Cut and Sew Studio for a little help. Under the direction of instructor Sophie, we took in the side seam above the waist, fixed the armscye, and expanded the sleeve.

It worked like a charm! In the pictures below, the grey dress with cats on it was made with the original, flawed pattern. I took it in and chopped off the sleeves to match the new armscye.

This Mountains dress was made with the new pattern (Firecracker Fabrics FTW! also photo by Firecracker Fabrics). firecracker fabrics photo

And finally, to show the new sleeve in action, is an updated picture of my fitted shirt! I applied the new pattern’s armscye and sleeve to this pattern. The tunic pattern will also need this change and I hope to make one soon with some lovely summer rayon I want to use before Fall!

picasso shirt
expanded sleeve with fixed armscye!

Lightning Sweater

I’ve been using the Seamwork Astoria sweater pattern (with a slightly lengthened bodice) as my knit sloper for a while now. It fits well in the shoulders and bust, and is easy to manipulate. I’ve used it to make a few sweaters and a tee.

I’ve been dreaming of using some leftover French Terry scraps in a color-blocked sweater. Originally, I planned a simple diagonal seam from shoulder to waist (across the front) but the sketch of it was a snoozefest!

After a few more sketches, I landed on this idea. A lightning bolt. Lightning bolts are awesome  (i.e. Bowie’s iconic Aladdin Sane cover…’arry Potter’s scar…FF13’s Lightning… Real Actual Lightning).

The key to making this sweater work without wanting to throw my machine out the window is a center front seam. Usually, I’m not a fan of CF seams; I don’t like the look of them. I feel like they are a shortcut/cop-out (particularly in regards to necklines) but they do result in crisp seam lines…

I made a copy of the pattern front and traced out my cutting lines. Then I cut the new pieces out and added seam allowance where necessary, using a standard 5/8″ allowance.

After I planned out the color blocking, I sewed each side of the front bodice together first, then joined them at the CF seam, and pressed. After that, the construction process was like any other sweater.

I really love how it turned out. I have some more scraps in blue and green that will be the next sweater. My thoughts are now on adapting this concept to make an Aladdin Sane Dress with a big Bowie lightning bolt cutting through it.


Other People’s Patterns

Mostly I’ve focused my blogging efforts on the things I’ve been designing myself, but I still use ‘real’ patterns. Deer and Doe is my favorite pattern house, followed by Papercut Patterns. They both produce flattering patterns and their drafting is usually great. I don’t have to make too many adjustments, either, just a broad shoulder adjustment if the pattern is for woven fabrics.

I’ve made 3 garments from Deer & Doe patterns this Spring. Here they are! (I bought a couple of the new Papercut Patterns line, can’t wait to start on them!)

First up the D&D Bleuet in a heavy-ish linen. I made the puff sleeves but ultimately removed them. My shoulders are big enough without accentuating them with poofs!


Sticking with dresses, this one’s an Arum dress. No changes to the pattern were made here. I used a Liberty Tana Lawn that I got on sale. It’s very soft, crisp, and light but creases easily.arum dress

Last up is the Goji Skirt. I didn’t think I was going to buy this pattern initially but I realized it would be perfect for filling the “casual skirt gap” in my wardrobe. I chose this light, South-West inspired blue and white cotton. Despite worrying excessively (or perhaps because of worrying excessively), I got the horizontal stripes to match up on all the seams (I didn’t try to match the repeat within those stripes). And I cut the pockets on the bias.

This is a fun pattern. I really like the paper-bag waistband. I want to make another using a border print in my stash.



In which we feel the power!

Vms necktie
yes, I fiddled with the tie all day. It’s a weird feeling to be wearing one! 

I drafted a necktie! There wasn’t much to it besides figuring out the right sizing for me. I used one of my hubby’s neckties as a guide. I measured both parts of the tie and his neck size. From there I was able to calculate how much extra length was needed beyond the neck size using percentages.

I just winged the construction, so I didn’t sew it together properly. I stitched the tip linings on first, turned them, then sewed the center back seam like I would a belt loop, turned the whole thing, then pressed.

Apparently, you’re supposed to slip-stitch the tie closed and sew the lining on in a certain way, so I will be doing that next time for a more professional finish.

Google did help me learn to tie this thing. I used a four-in-hand knot. It was easy!

I see many more ties in my future, each one a Power Tie.



In which I ‘draft’ a Kimono…

Getting caught on doorknobs is a drag, literally and figuratively. Wherever I went in my apartment, the large sleeves of my robe (Seamwork Almada) would get caught on a doorknob, jerking me abruptly backwards, or sweep random table-top items onto the floor as I passed by.

It was annoying.

I wanted a robe with more manageable sleeves. I also wanted a decadent robe worthy of my usernamesake, Chrestomanci, who is known for his opulent and gaudy silk dressing gowns.

I decided to make a traditional kimono robe because I didn’t want to use or make a paper pattern. And, as I’m not a wealthy nine-lifed enchanter, I didn’t use silk, but cotton.

To make a Chrestomanci-worthy robe, it needed to be made from 2 different fabric prints, the fancier the better.

The 2 cottons I chose were ones that I picked up at Firecracker Fabrics – one a Japanese cotton with lots of colors; the other a red quilting cotton with little hummingbirds and shiny silver flowers. The reds of both fabrics matched.

My main fabric was about 54″wide which was wide enough that I could use all of it for the shoulder width. I folded the fabric parallel to the selvage, draping it over myself to judge length and width.

The measurements I focused on were:

  • Center front/back length
  • Sleeve width (9″ flat)
  • Sleeve depth (5″ in from elbow)

I drew directly on the fabric using tailor’s chalk and a ruler. I used a French curve to make the underarm seam a curve instead of a 90° angle and flared the bottom out by .5″.

I also cut lengths of the coordinating red fabric for the sleeve cuffs, neckline hem, and waist tie. The finished width of each was 3″.

Sewing it was easy. I used French seams and I even added a fringed patch pocket on the front for extra faux extravagance. I have minor regrets about that but the pocket gets to stay…for now.

I chose not to interface the sleeve cuffs and neckline hem, as I wanted them to remain flexible, but I did interface the waist tie. I secured the waist tie to the robe at the center back seam so it can’t get lost.

I think Chrestomanci would be proud. And I haven’t gotten stuck on a single doorknob!