Reviews: April 2011 Archives
Being a Weekend Sewing by Heather Ross Addict ("Hello, my name is Tara and I am addicted to Weekend Sewing...") and having made the Smocked Dress for my little girl I was over the moon when I stumbled across this hidden gem on the web. The Heather Ross Mendocino Sundress is almost an urban legend with many whispers concerning its existence but few have seen it. There are breadcrumbs to broken links throughout the internet but I have found the direct link and thus made the dress. AND... IT... IS... AMAZING. First, this dress is super fast. You can make it in an afternoon. There are 4 pieces to cut (6 if you want straps) and with the elastic thread the smocking is a piece of cake.
Now for the mods (modifications for you newbies): first, I selected the uber beautiful and dreamy Valori Wells Jenaveve Linen Blend fabric in Pebbles Merlot. Let me mention that this is a cheerful reddish/coral print perfect for spring and summer. This linen (and even more specifically this print) is perfectly paired with this dress. I was more excited to be finished at each stage of construction. There are pockets, glorious pockets! But the pockets that come with the pattern are HUGE so I used the pockets from this dress but you can always just reduce the size of the Mendocino pockets but 10-20% on your copier or at your local copy place. I placed my pockets at 14 in. where the pattern recommends anywhere between 14-18 in. I guess my arms are a little short. I also smocked 8.5 in. where the pattern recommends 6-8 in. I am on the busty side so I wanted to make sure that I was 1) covered and 2) there was some smocking below the bust to nip in the waist a bit to lend a slimmer line. If the dress just goes from bust to billowy bottom then I tend to look bigger than I am. That is why I prefer to make my own smocked dresses and tunics. The store bought dresses/tops do not have enough smocking and it ends up looking frumpy. I also made my straps longer so I could add the cute bow that the little girl Smocked Dress has. I cut 4 strips of 2 by 15 in. The length is just right plus I can tuck them in should I want to go strapless. The hem is a double turned 1.5 in. but I want to make it much shorter so that it sits right at the knee which means I will need to cut off 3-4 in.
Heather Ross Mendocino Sundress Pattern
2 yds of Valori Wells Jenaveve Linen Blend
1 Spool of Elastic Thread
1 Spool of All Purpose Thread
Conclusion: I adore this dress. Heather mentions that this dress offers enough support for you to go braless and I did try it. In the future, I will opt for the bra just because I feel more comfortable with it than without. It does offer great support but I would only recommend it for those A & B cups. You can also just do 2 straps and wear it as a halter neck. Another version would be to cut it very short to wear as a tunic and then you can tuck in the straps to wear as a skirt as well. This is a great standard sundress with lots of possibility. Sexy and casual it can adapt to your days and events as needed. This is a MUST MAKE Dress!
Remember back in November when I first took a stab at a project from Sewing Green by Betz White? Well, I decided to take another go at the Easy, Breezy Skirt for Earth Day. I really like my original skirt but have decided to take the pattern up a notch for Earth Day to inspire our readers with the versatility of the pattern. My first version used a pillowcase, but I wanted more volume for my second try so I decided to use the matching flat sheet that came with the pillowcase. If you don't have a great sheet laying around to cut into you can use1 ½ yds of quilting cotton or 1 yd of 56-60 in. apparel fabric (like our Tropical Hemp fabric).
I had the picture in my head of a hybrid of a Paper-bag Skirt and a Ruffle-topped Skirt. The modifications I added were that I started with 2 rectangles of 25 in. by 26 in. which I cut using the existing hem as suggested by Betz White. When it came to sewing the elastic casing, I folded over the top 5 in. towards the right side and with a 1 in. seam allowance stitched the elastic casing-this created the top ruffle. Before adding the elastic I added a double turn hem to the top of this ruffle.
Because of the added volume and length (I made this skirt longer than my previous), I can make this skirt do double duty as a strapless tunic. It looks amazing with a chunky belt (try my free fabric belt pattern) and jeans.
This is just one way to recreate this great eco-friendly pattern. You can layer 2 or more pillowcases to add more color or texture. You can sew on some knit ruffles to create movement or if you opt for a solid colored sheet (like me) or pillowcase you can add some great embroidery from Sublime Stitching. I recommend purchasing Sewing Green book for your library so you can make your own version of the Easy, Breezy Skirt plus anyof the other 24 great projects.
Sewing Green is a great book to enjoy on Earth Day; not only does Betz White encourage you to work from existing goods but to also grab from your stash. She also highlights other Green Fabric Lovers so this book is full of eco-inspiration. However, should your stash be in need of replenishing, check out our Organic and Eco-friendly fabric section!
Pattern: Simplicity 2443 Cynthia Rowley
I have had my eye on Michael Miller's Interlock Knits Prints for quite some time now but I put off purchasing it for the simple reason that I had already labeled them as "kid prints". Thus without any conscious thought I had mentally removed it from my list and thus out of my shopping cart. But when I needed project ideas for this month's blog theme of "Spring Wardrobe", I gave it a second look and decided that I would help remove the stigma of "Kid Print" from these great, modern knit prints and show their glam/adult side.
Let me start out with a monologue on how gorgeous and totally awesome this fabric is. I have not been this excited while making a dress since Serendipity Monique Dress (and if you will remember this dress gave me a challenge); this dress is even better. The reason I rank this dress so high is because that it is knit. Knit = Fantastic. First, the interlock doesn't curl so it is easy to work with. Second, the print is just plain fun. The polka dot oval shape gave some definition to the waist band which was cut on the stretch. It doesn't just blend in anymore. Third, the fabric is just SOFT and gets softer with a wash or 2. The stretch is just right for this dress and adds more comfort than you would expect from such a tailored dress. I highly recommend an interlock knit for this, or really any spring knit dress pattern.
Now to the modifications that really make the dress super fun. The pattern calls for gathers around the waist but I wanted to add more structure and tailoring to counteract the whimsical nature of the fabric pattern so I opted for pleating around the waistline and it turned out even more fab than I was counting on. To make the pleats I folded each skirt piece in half widthwise and marked the center. I then marked out from the center at 1 in. increments to the edges. Working from the center, take your third mark and fold it toward the center, matching it up with your center mark and pin. This makes one pleat. Repeat for the other side of the center and all the way down toward the edges till you have reached the same measurements as your waist band (I spaced my pleats out 1 in.). I made six 1 in. box pleats and two ½ in. box pleats on each skirt piece to make my skirt pieces match the 15 ½ in. of each waist band piece. I added my ½ in. box pleats on the edges to make up for the difference. I also added a very simple and tailored ruffle at the bottom. It adds some definition to the skirt without drawing too much attention to one area and keeps the dress more tailored and sophisticated than the original pattern. To make this simple ruffle, use the same width measurements as your skirt pieces by 4 in. Mine were 31 by 4 in. pieces. Cut 2 and stitch together at the sides using the same instructions as the skirt pieces and set aside. On your skirt pieces mark a line all the way across the front of your fabric with a washable marker 5 in. above your hem line (or if you are leaving it un-hemmed like me: 5 in. above the bottom). Line up and pin the top of your ruffle with this line and stitch in place using a ¼ to ½ in. seam. Your ruffle will fray just slightly with a few washes and add some texture to your ruffle.
Now for the recommendations: I omitted the pockets in this dress to give it a sleeker look but I will go back and add them just because I love them so much in my previous versions and the pockets don't add that much bulk to justify leaving them out. I did use an invisible zipper but there is enough stretch to opt out of this as well.
I added darts to my bodice bands just under the arms to accommodate gapping due to a larger bust line. The illustration is below to make your own. My darts were ½ in.
I shortened the straps by ½ in. on each piece for a total of 1 in. shorter straps for a bit more modesty since I will be wearing this whilst carrying a 2 yr old and bending over.
This pattern can be tricky when stitching the bands to the bodice but if you clip into the bands around the curves while pinning it makes it a lot easier. I clipped about every ¼ to ½ in around the curves. Sometimes you will have to rip back and re-sew; the dress is such a wardrobe staple that an extra 30 min is worth the time investment. Oh and one last tip: Wash this fabric at least twice. Don't just do it once. Mine shrunk a bit more after the second wash.
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Here's me learning Magic Circle with a Crystalites hook and Lion Brand Baby Wool in Sprout
Today is jam-packed with reviews, we have three (count 'em, three) for your crochet pleasure.
First up are the Boye Aluminum Crochet hooks. I think of these as the standard crochet hook because they are available in most stores and I have been using them for years. The Boye hooks are a standard in my knitting notions bag but I also enjoy using them in crochet. I recommend them for beginners because they are inexpensive so you can stock up. They are slick so you can cut your frustration level a bit as the yarn slides over them easily. The points are nicely shaped; they are not too wide and cone shaped so they slip into stitches very nicely. They are however, aluminum with a nickel plating so if you have a nickel allergy you should go for the Comfort Cushions that slide over the ends to protect your hands. The bright colors help you identify the size you need quickly.
Susan Bates Crystalites Acrylic Crochet Hook set is also great for a beginner and a good companion to the Boye needles. The acrylic slides less easily than the aluminum but this is good if your tension is overly loose or you just have trouble holding onto your yarn. The colors are so fun and pretty. The range of sizes that come in the set are just what you need to get started and will carry you into any project. The shape is nice, a little wider than the Boye but this has helped me hook my yarn easier and hold onto it as I am making my stitches. The Acrylic is soft and smooth with a warm feeling that helps ease fatigue that beginner especially suffer from as work new muscles. The carry case is small and fit in most bags making this easy to take with you.
Lion Brand is fast becoming my favorite yarn company (If you get their catalog you know how yummy their selection is). Not only do they offer tons of free patterns for knitting and crochet (like the Easter Eggs and Best Bunny I just made) but they just make great yarn. Their Baby Wool is another notch on the belt. It feels just like good wool but it's washable so the apprehension that comes with wool is gone. It comes in a wide selection of wonderful baby colors too. It is not itchy and has just the right amount of fluffiness. The softness coupled with the washability lends it to toys, blankets, clothing, and all kinds of baby accessories. The variegated versions are pretty neat because the variegation is less frivolous than most variegated that bounce from one color to the next before you can appreciate it. The Alpine Meadow that I worked with supplied long lengths of each color which I found to be more relaxing in appearance. I really loved working with this yarn and include it on my list of standards.
On the heels of last week's posting on Amigurumi, I
bring you some super fun Crochet Easter Toys.
*Editorial: Let it not be said that we at Fabric.com have not heeded your call for more Crochet- but having said that know that I am still learning. I want to thank our readers for pushing me to learn this new skill because I have come to love it very much and my desire to improve so I can bring your more and better projects is at a fever pitch. Editorial over* These toys are all easy to make and, of course, quick. I was thoroughly addicted to the eggs and the bunny really helped me to branch out a bit while still staying in my comfort zone. I am ready to admit to my faulty gauge which is TIGHT so I used a bigger hook than called for (a J when the bunny pattern called for a H) but aside from the standards that came from learning, these were fun and great projects that I recommend to get you and yours ready for Easter.
First up are the Lion Brand Patterns: Best Bunny and Amigurumi Easter Eggs. These eggs will fly off your hook and crochet up in Baby Wool in Alpine Meadow makes them so soft to the touch, perfect for the littlest fingers to play with. The Alpine Meadow is variegated wool that blends from Yellow to Green to Blue lending itself perfectly to an appearance of a dyed Easter Egg. The recommended hook for the egg pattern is a G, but I had trouble with the first few rounds with a smaller hook given that the yarn was worsted weight so I, again, went with a J so help me with some extra wiggle room. The egg produced is about 15% bigger than a regular egg but still fun none the less. The bunny is crocheted in pieces and was made with Lion Brand Baby Wool in Sprout (a fun, bright green) and Lion Brand Vanna's Choice Baby Yarn in Mint. I had trouble with the first few rounds in the ears and arms since there were about 6 Sts or less. It seems really hard to fit in my hook but I guess I can chalk that up to my gauge and practice more. The bunny over all was easy and came together fast. He is a big hit with my 2 yr old and I think a few more lining her book shelves along with the eggs will really bring the holiday home.
The smaller eggs are Easy Makes Me Happy Tara Murray's Pattern called simply "Easter Egg Pattern" and it is also fun and easy. The construction is different than the Lion Brand egg which gives is a smaller but more egg-like shape. I also really dug Tara's inspiration pictures. I found this pattern on Ravelry while searching for Easter patterns that I could not live without. While I had already started the Lion Brand eggs when I found Tara Murray's pattern, I could not help myself and I am not at all sorry. These eggs were super fast and I even dared to add a little stripe (my first color change in crochet *pat on the back*) in Lion Brand Vanna's Choice Baby Yarn Berrylicious. I recommend this pattern for Easter egg fun-goodness.
Wow, this is really a versatile garment. It's great for all seasons! Not only is the style versatile- the fit is versatile as well. With a fantastic drape and trendy slouch fit, this vest is great for women of all shapes and sizes. This quick and easy project is a great addition to your wardrobe! What an added bonus that this Easy Breezy Knit Pattern from Hot Patterns is free! Free is always fashionable.
Because of the way this vest drapes, I chose this Sparkle Rayon Jersey Knit fabric to show off the shimmer of this jersey knit. For the contrasting fabric in the back, I chose a black lace fabric to allow my layers to show! I also wanted to make my vest a bit on the fancier side so I can dress it up or down.
I would advise cutting and sewing your neckline and armhole trim pieces last. Like the disclaimer on the pattern states, "not all knits are created equal," so you may have to elongate OR shorten the trim pieces. Before you sew, test out how much ease will be needed to attach the armholes and neckline trim- then make any adjustments needed. Because of the stretchy knit I chose for the armholes and neckline, I actually had to re-cut longer pieces of trim so that my garment would do right. Don't make my mistake! Measure twice- cut once. And sew once! Taking a seam out and re-stitching is a pain- avoid it if you can!
I love working with knits. Having a serger is definitely convenient for knit projects, BUT a stretch stitch on a standard machine works just as well, plus you don't have to worry about the inside of your seams unraveling! Happy sewing!
April is a Spring Wardrobe themed month. I am going to feature several great pieces to add to your Spring Wardrobe that will carry you into summer and can be added to your fall wardrobe as well in layers. My favorite fabric for spring is knit. It is so swingy and flexible. Knits are light enough to layer with leggings and a jacket for brisk mornings and can be glammed up with a sleek clutch and heels for a night out. Knits are excellent travel garments as well and are not prone to wrinkle like wovens. Great knit patterns are also easier to find than ever before and Kwik Sew has many fashionable knit patterns. One of my favorites is the Kwik Sew Knit Pull-Over Dress & Tunic. It has a simple design which makes it a shoe in for easy layering and also customization. You can make several in different colors and prints to really flesh out your closet. The fit is flattering without being clingy.
I learned my lessons from my previous knit dress and measured my pattern pieces before deciding on a size. I was between a medium and a small so I went with medium because I fall on the busty side and I didn't want to have the bodice too tight. I realize now that I should have gone with the small. I didn't take the weight of my knit into account. I prefer the medium weights and this Stretch Cotton Jersey is a bit heavy but the drape is just right. There is also considerable ease in the pattern; I suppose to prevent too tight bodices should you decide on the next size down. The fit is still good and I will not alter the dress. The tank style is very flattering, with a scoop neck that accentuates without revealing. I feel very comfortable as a mom with a toddler wearing this dress around to do my mom-like tasks. I did modify the style of dress and am very pleased with how it turned out. I wanted to display how well this pattern lends itself to modification. While a stylish cut, it is also a blank slate. It reminds me a of a really great t-shirt; you can totally wear it as is and look hot but if you add some embellishments, they will look great too.
For my modifications I added a contrasting knit trim on the neckline and armhole. I also added a scallop edging to the skirt. It was really easy too since I made a hem facing. I measured the width of the skirt piece and made a rectangle 2 in. tall by the same length. Then I chose a plate about 4.5 in. in diameter (you may need one smaller or larger if you choose a different size), there was one in my daughter's tea set. I marked on the back 4 marks each indicating ¼ of the plate. I then lined up the half plate on the fold side of my scallop pattern piece and traced it. I moved the plate over so that I then traced half the plate until I came to the edge where I again traced only ¼ of the plate. Cut out the hem facing. Tape this to the bottom of your skirt pieces before you cut out the skirt and then cut 2 of on the fold from your fabric for the hem facing following the same stretch and grain indicators from the skirt pattern pieces. Sew the skirt as directed in the pattern but instead of hemming, add your hem facing. Stitch your 2 hem facings together at the sides and with right sides together, pin and stitch your hem facing to your skirt. Clip and trim around the scallops before turning and pressing. Finish by stitching your hem facing to your skirt. You can topstitch if desired. This scallop hem really adds a bit of spring to this dress in homage to tulips and Easter. Created in a light color or soft print this dress will make a great Easter dress or tunic. I recommend a jersey or interlock, something with a good bit of stretch and experiment with a muslin to get the fit just right. This is a great wardrobe builder.