#RoyalWeddingSewAlong Dress Reveal (McCall's 7684)

Thank you to my friend Ben for taking these photos! And, of course, thank you so so much to McCall Pattern Company for organizing the Royal Wedding Sew Along and inviting me to participate. 

After all these weeks of sewing, I feel like I don't have too much to say about this dress that hasn't been said already! This is a wonderful pattern, and I'm thrilled with the results--perfect for a spring wedding. This sewalong has been such a fun experience; I've had a wonderful time chatting with all of you here, on instagram, and on facebook. Additionally, it's also been a great way for me to recognize my skills and weaknesses! Here's the whole sewalong, in case you missed anything:

Week 1: Style Inspiration and Suitable Fabrics
Week 2: Choosing a Size and Fitting your Muslin
Week 3: Preparing your Fabric
Week 4: Constructing the Bodice
Week 5: Constructing the Skirt
Week 6: Installing the Zipper
Week 7: Hemming with Horsehair Braid
Week 8: Finishing Touches

One of the best parts of spending so much time on a single pattern is that I know it really well at this point and have lots of ideas for hacking it! Don't be surprised if you see this pattern pop up again at some point. Thank you so much for following along as I made McCall's 7684. Next up: a bit of relaxation and an easy make, I think! :)

xoxo,
allie

ps: best wishes to Harry and Meghan! 



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#RoyalWeddingSewAlong Optional Finishing Touches and TWO Giveaways! (McCall's 7684)

Last week, we finished our dress: hem complete, zipper inserted, lining in. You should have a perfectly fitting, nicely sewn dress to show for all your hard work! Today I have a round-up of a few ways to add a little something extra to your dress and really make your workmanship stand out.

First, I mentioned way back in the inspo week that I wanted to add some drama to this pretty simple prom dress pattern. Inspired by the fascinators worn to British weddings, I'm adding an oversized bow to the shoulder to mimic a tie shoulder. I've just cut a large rectangle of fabric and angled the short ends. To finish the edges, I'm making a baby hem. You'll see this next week!

Then we move on to hand sewing a few last details: the hook and eye and bra strap carriers. At the back closure, at the top of the zipper, add a hook and eye to keep your dress firmly closed and your zip zipped up! You can look inside a store-bought dress to see an example, and there's a nice tutorial here on Made to Sew that will walk you through the steps.

I'm adding bra strap carriers to my dress--it's so nice to have a formal dress with thick enough straps to wear a regular bra, might as well celebrate it with some nice carriers that will keep your straps in place! I'm using this tutorial from Dixie DIY to add in strap holders, but hand sewing it all. Put your bra strap carriers wherever you think they're most likely to peek out--probably at the top of the strap.

Last but not least, if you have a label, add it in with a few hand stitches. Another fun option is to embroider yourself a label on a scrap piece of fabric and then add it in. Don't know how to embroider? My friend Maddie has a great lesson on beginner stitches that will have you all set for something simple like a label here.

You're done! Go do your hair and makeup, but on some heels, and coerce someone into taking glam photos of you. I can't wait for next week to see what you've made! In the meantime... I have a special announcement! Head over to my instagram where I'm hosting a mini contest in addition to the main Royal Wedding Sew Along Contest hosted by McCall Pattern Company and Simplicity. You can enter to win a copy of McCall's 7684 and several yards of the fabric I used--enough to make a twin dress! This fabric was a remnant and I don't know of anywhere else you can find it, so if you like it be sure to enter! All you need to do is follow me and leave a comment tagging the person you'd invite as your plus one to the Royal Wedding on this post. Good luck!!

xoxo,
allie

ps: the official giveaway is soooo good.



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Spring Outfit on Repeat (Grainline Linden & Closet Case Ginger Shorts)


This ultra-simple outfit barely merits a post, but y'all, I really like to blog evvvverything. That way when I need to pack for a trip I can scroll through my blog and remind myself what all is in my closet. Do you do that too?

The top is a size 4 Grainline Studios Linden, no modifications, made with a super soft and cosy organic sweatshirt fleece from my new local sewing shop, Freeman's Creative. I went a month or two ago and the fabric selection was tiny but so well curated--lots of nice quilting cottons, all the big name apparel brands (i.e. cotton and steel) and a nice shelf of high-quality knits. Amelia, the owner, has been hard at work curating more and more fabrics too, so I'm excited to go back and see what new things she's picked out!

My mom is a Grainline devotee and has made tons and tons of Lindens to wear both as sweatshirts and more tee-shirt-like tops. There's a pretty high likelyhood of her wearing one whenever I see her. Having made one myself I can see why! I love the fit--this is no alterations--and it's so, so easy to make. I cut and sewed this one the morning I left for my cruise (and was very thankful I did since we had some chilly days) and it took only a few hours.

The only thing I had a problem with was my neck band. I'm not sure if my fabric stretched out or if the sweatshirt fleece simply wasn't stretchy enough to use it as the neck band (you're supposed to use rib knit for cuffs and neck band), but I had a beast of a time easing it on. If I made this again in this same heavier weight of fabric, I would lengthen the neckband. This neck turned out fine but... not perfect. Who cares when it's so cozy though, right? In the end, I really like the shape, the length of body and arms, and the slightly-large neckline, which adds a nice feminine touch to an otherwise pretty boring, but practical, shape.

I'm a bit behind the trend when it comes to the Linden, it seems like everyone and their mom (or, maybe just mine?) has tried and loved it. Do you ever make a pattern wayyyy at the tail end of the popularity curve? Or do you jump on a pattern as soon as it comes out?

On the opposite side of the coin, when I went to make my shorts I did a little search and I'm a bit surprised that there aren't wayyy more Ginger shorts floating around out there given the popularity of the jeans. Plus, making shorts is a great way to "muslin" the waist, rise, crotch curve, and depending on how long your shorts are, thigh of your jeans before you cut into that Cone Mills denim you spent a fortune on.

These are the same shape as my black gingers through the hip and crotch, but I took them in a bit more through the waist and lower back, I think because my fabric is a bit stretchier. I cut the legs at about 6" down from the crotch point, straight across (perpendicular to grainline), but ended up taking a few more inches off. I asked for opinions on cuffed or raw hem on insta stories and you were all over the place, so I went for both. these cuffed, frayed hem is a little neater than a frayed hem, but  a little bit more casual than cuff or a sewn hem... a good middle ground I think. I zigzagged about a half inch in, and I'm hoping they fray a bit more as I wash and wear them.

I can. not. emphasize. enough. how much I love the pocket stay in the high-waisted Gingers. Literally every time I pull on these shorts or my black gingers, I'm reminded about how good they feel to zip up, with just the right amount of snugness, and every time I pull on my Grana jeans, which I otherwise love, I'm reminded about how annoying it is to have to retuck your pockets into your pants! Just like in my first pair of white gingers, I used a lightweight cotton in a nude shade to minimize show-through. Why all white jeans don't have this, I don't know.

Having made these shorts, I'm practically back in my original situation--since I really only ended up needing about a yard total to make these (in a small size, FYI), I have a little over half a yard left... again. Any ideas on what to make with it now that I can't reorder extra? I'm almost tempted to make a jeans skirt but that seems verrrry abercrombie c. 2005, no?

xoxo,
allie

ps:  re ginger shorts, just look at this amazingness. also, compared to the unisex seamwork paxton that i've also made, this raglan sweater is 900 times better and totally worth the extra expense. just in case you're deciding between the two :)



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#RoyalWeddingSewAlong Hemming your Dress (McCall's 7684)

Your bodice is complete, your skirt is attached, your zipper is in, your bodice lining is all sewn up... time to hem!

I love love love horsehair braid, it's a very nice addition to a full skirt such as this one and once you get the technique down, it's an easy way to hem a skirt and adds gorgeous movement and body into your skirt. If you've ever made a circle skirt, you know that hemming them can be such a pain, and what a difference it makes to use single-fold bias tape as a facing. This is my preferred method for hemming anything curved, for example, the flounce and hem of this top, where you can see the bias tape peeking out. (Here's a tutorial if you don't know what I'm talking about.) Since horsehair braid is flexible, it does basically the same thing as bias tape with the added bonus of giving your hems a little extra boost of volume!

(note: while the pattern instructions call for a narrower braid, I'm using this horsehair that I had in my stash, which is much wider.)

Horsehair braid is easy to apply but it does take a little bit of extra care due to it's flexibility--you don't want to stretch it out while sewing. Take your time! Also, the application method I'm using here--different than the one in the pattern instructions!--can seem a little counter-intuitive, but it will all work out, I promise.

Before we begin, let's finish one edge of the horsehair braid--this keeps it from unravelling or snagging on your pantyhose (mandatory for a royal wedding, right?). Use a little scrap of bias tape an inch longer than your braid is wide (or a scrap of dress fabric, or anything you have lying around, really), unfold one long edge, and pin, aligning the edge of the bias tape with the end of the braid. (Ps: we're only finishing one end of the bias tape because the other end will be trapped inside the hem of the skirt. If your braid has an edge with little loops on it, that is the edge that should end up totally enclosed.)


Sew along the fold line.


Press the fold back in (lightly, and just on the bias tape; we don't want to melt our braid).


Fold down the end of the bias tape so it are level with the edge of the braid:


Fold the bias tape in half and pin in place:


Topstitch down the edge so your braid is encased!


Now we're ready to start!

Starting just before the back seam, align the bottom of your horsehair braid with the bottom of the skirt, on the outside. If your horsehair has one edge with little loops, that should be the side further from the hem, if not, don't worry about it, there isn't really a right and wrong side. Make sure this is the end of the horsehair that is all nicely finished with our bias tape! Here you can see the hem of my skirt on the bottom of the photo, the center back seam, and the horsehair braid close up:


Taking care not to stretch the braid as you go, work around the hem of the dress, aligning the edge of the braid with the hem, and pin in place.

Sew the braid to the skirt along the hem edge, at a 1/4" seam allowance.


When you get back to the start at CB, overlap the braid slightly, sew down, and then trim off the excess.

Now, let's just take a little peek and see how this hem works: flip your horsehair braid to the inside of your skirt. The seam you've just sewn should have made a nice little binding around the bottom of your horsehair braid!


Unfold your hem once again to press it flat, being careful to use a low heat and stay on the fabric, not the horsehair braid so you don't melt it. It should look like this from the inside:


And like this from the outside:


Now it's time to really fold it in, and pin along the inside of the skirt. Again, be careful not to stretch or warp the braid, but allow it to bend naturally. If your horsehair braid has loops along the top, you can tug on them a bit to pull the braid snug--it should lay flat against the body of the skirt.


If you want, you can topstitch this down, and call it a day, but I generally prefer to handsew hems. If you've been following along, you'll know I avoid handstitching generally, and honestly, I'm terrible at it, but when it comes to hems, even poor handsewing will 9/10 times look nicer than than a machine sewn hem, in my opinion. I use a whip stitch, which is not the preferred hand hemming stitch of advanced sewers, but it is quick and simple. Get yourself a good podcast or a tv show you don't have to watch closely (no subtitles!) and settle in for a bit of handwork.


Give your dress a final press all over and try it on! You may even want to twirl around in front of a mirror. You can see here the dress unhemmed vs. with the horsehair braid hem--see how much body it adds?

Mine actually adds a bit too much body, so I would definitely suggest going with the 1" horsehair vs. a wider version.

Y'all! Your dress is complete! Stick around for next week where we'll be adding some optional finishing touches...

As always comment below or email me with comments and questions!

xoxo,
allie

ps: a horsehair braid hem is great for adding body without a petticoat in hot weather, or if your petticoat is slightly too short, horsehair braid can help you get away with it and prevent droopy hem.



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Sweet Lemon (Deer & Doe Cardamome)

Thank you to Hart's Fabric for providing the materials for this post. 
They have a bunch of new rayons in stock that are perfect for this dress!

I haven't seen very many versions of the Deer and Doe Cardamome, and I'm not sure why, it's so lovely! It's an earlier pattern of theirs, from a few years ago, I think--the oldest #ddcardamome hashtag was from august 2015. If you didn't recognize it at first glance, it's because I've taken inspiration from every other pattern coming out of France at the moment (see here, here, here) and added a bunch of ruffles to it! I love a ruffle, and I think it works so nicely with the shape of this dress's yoke. This style of ruffle is also super trendy right now--actually, I don't think it would be crazy for Deer & Doe to add a ruffle pattern piece and re-release this pattern with all new photos...

I made the sleeveless version, since the added ruffle provides some shoulder coverage, but other than the ruffle, I didn't make any major design changes. Although you can't really tell from the outside unless you're looking closely, I didn't do the elastic waist the way they have you do it--it's supposed to be shirred but messing around with elastic thread seemed like a pain so I just sewed a casing to the interior and used regular elastic. It's a little bulkier than shirring but I think people are more likely to have 1" elastic than elastic thread in their stashes! The bottom seam of the casing is sewed into the waist line seam, then after the bodice is attached, the skirt seam allowance, bodice seam allowance, and casing (just a rectangular strip) are all presed up, the other side of the casing is finished (I pressed mine under but you could also just serge it), and it's topstitched to the bodice, leaving a gap to insert your elastic. Since I just used a rectangular strip, not a real facing, it doesn't fit in perfectly but this whole area is just getting gathered anyway so if there are a few little tucks and imperfections it doesn't much matter.

The only slight issue with my ruffle hack is that I didn't think about the fact that the front yoke is lower than the back yoke. Since my ruffle is a simple gathered rectangle, the difference in the yokes means that the ruffle is longer in front than in the back. It's not particularly noticeable, but it's something to keep in mind if you want to do this same style and your front and back to be a bit more balanced.

I feel like I discussed how much I appreciate Deer & Doe's drafting at length when I made my Luzerne Trench, but it's worth saying again--the drafting is really high quality in these patterns! Everything fits together just as it should and there's no weird fit issues out of the packet--the arm hole fit especially is nice. I'm slightly short-waisted and I will say that this dress is short waisted on me, I can't tell if that is by design or not. I personally love where it hits but if you are busty and don't do an FBA, expect an empire waist. I suggest holding the pattern pieces up to your body to make sure you like where the waistline will fall! I would suggest that you disregard the instruction order slightly, and construct the whole yoke/collar buttonholes in one go before you add it to the dress. Trying to wrangle a whole dress under the buttonhole foot was a pain and there's not reason you couldn't get them over with at the start. Also, don't tell anyone I told you this, but if you're adding even a smallish ruffle to the yoke seam, and you fabric has some give, I would just staystitch your dress bodice seams, clip into your curves aggressively, and work at the seam until you can sew the concave and convex curves together, instead of pressing the yoke seam allowances up and topstitching. If there are any weird gathers in your seams keep them on the dress side and they will be hidden under the ruffle. I don't think I'm alone in saying that even the most challenging of curves is more fun than trying to do precision topstitching over a bunch of unattached layers and ruffles and all very close to your face. This isn't best practices, but it's a bit nicer to do!

Although I had a few frustrated moments during construction (a side effect of making up the instructions myself) I'm totally in love with the final result--it's my favorite thing I've made recently. I think the sweet silhouette with the cute lemon stripe rayon gives it the perfect balance of preppy, sweet, and easy to wear. Now I just have to think of another fabric to make it in! I love it in stripes but how romantic would it be in this floral or one of the new Rifle Paper Co. Amalfi rayons or lawns? Swoon!

xoxo,
allie

ps: ruffles over your shoulders means sun protection for summer picnics! :)



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#RoyalWeddingSewAlong Zipper Insertion! (McCall's 7684)

Inserting the zipper gets its own week not because it is difficult--it's not!--but because people get so nervous about it and build it up and I think leaving it by itself gives you 6 days to procrastinate, 1 hour to do it, and 23 extra hours to be like, omg, that was way easier than I thought it would be. We're also going to tackle attaching the lining to the interior of the dress in a way I think you'll really like. Hint: no hand sewing!

This pattern calls for an invisible zipper, which is, I think, my favorite zipper to use now. A lot of that is because I spent the $40 and invested in an invisible zipper foot for my Bernina machine.


Best $40 ever--well, besides my bargain sale machine! If you have a Bernina and are wondering if the invisible zipper foot is worth the price, it so is. If you don't have a Bernina, you can use an invisible zipper foot too, they have some plastic universal clip-on ones at my local Joanns for $6 or, of course, you can order one specifically for your machine on amazon. I will say that I used to use that YKK zipper foot on my old Singer and it doesn't work as effortlessly as my current Bernina combo but it gets the job done!

We're going to start with the lining pulled up and out of the way again, just like it was when we attached skirt to bodice. We'll deal with the lining after our zipper is all done.


Place your zipper, face down, on the left hand side of your bodice. The teeth of the zipper should be right at the 5/8" seam allowance, so your zipper most likely wont be aligned with the edge of the fabric...


But the plastic stopper at the top of the zipper should be aligned with the seamline between fabric and lining!


Pin it down from top to bottom and you're ready to sew. First we're going to baste the zipper in using a long stitch length, our regular sewing machine foot, and (Alternatively, you could also do this by hand.)


Stitch along the zipper tape from top:


To bottom of your zipper tape:


This will help hold your zipper in the right spot while you sew it in, since you may want to have your hands free to help roll the zipper teeth in the next step. Gently roll the zipper tape outwards as seen below. It should rest nicely in the left hand groove of your invisible zipper tape, and with the needle set to the center, the stitches (back to your regular stitch length, don't forget) should fall right at the edge of the teeth.


As I mentioned before, you can help the teeth along as you stitch down the tape; I generally don't have to worry about that too much with my metal Bernina foot but I definitely did with the plastic one. When you get to the bottom, sew as far as you can and backstitch. Don't worry if it isn't all the way to the bottom.


The first half of your zipper is complete! Zip it up and admire your work: the plastic stopper at the top of your zipper should be nicely aligned with the top of your dress, and the zipper tape should be totally concealed beneath the fabric.


Before we start on the second half, a bit of preparation is necessary. A few years ago I learned a good trick from By Hand London that has made such a difference in my seams lining up across zippers, and I will pass it along to you today! Once you've sewn one side of the zipper, stop and zip it up past the waistline seams.


Mark using a fabric pen or pencil on the opposite side of the zipper tape exactly where the seam lines are.


Then, I like to fold the seam allowance of the opposite back panel down and pin in roughly to the right spot on the zipper, just to double check that the zipper isn't twisted up anywhere.


Leaving the bodice back pinned to the zipper tape, unzip the zipper.


Now you can carefully unpin the zipper from the bodice back and repin it to just the seam allowance (and here's the trick) making sure that the seamlines on this second half of the bodice are exactly on the marks you've made on your zipper tape.

The waistband seams are nicely aligned with my (hard to see) blue marks on the zipper tape.

If you start from these markings and then pin upwards towards the neckline and down towards the hem, you should end up with seamlines matching across the zipper. You can zip it up again if you want to check.


Install this side of the zipper the same way as the first one, first basting (I just used my invisible zipper foot this time, but I wouldn't recommend it, actually):


then switching to your invisible zipper foot to attach it.


(You'll end up with a bunch of fabric on the right hand side of your needle, bunched up in your machine. it's a pain, but I've always heard that you should sew both halves of a zipper in the same direction for increased accuracy and no twisting.)


Beautiful! Your zipper is now installed, with nice matching across seams. If your cutting and sewing has been accurate, it should also match up nicely at the top!


All that's left for this step is to close up the center back seam below the zipper, which should look like this from the outside:


And this inside:


Right sides together, pin the back skirt panels, matching notches.


When it comes to the very end of the zipper, I find it helpful to pin the two sides of the zipper tape together, pulling it away from the seams where the zipper attaches to the skirt fabric. That way you can see what you are doing! Also make sure the end of your zipper tape is angled out of the seam allowance side, not into your skirt. Here you can see the pins keeping the zipper tape out of the way and pinning the rest of the skirt seam closed.


Using your regular zipper foot (not invisible zipper) Get right up close to the end of the seamline attaching your zipper to the skirt. Starting just above the bottom of your zipper, stitch close to, but not exactly on top of, that seam line. (This accounts for the turn of cloth.) The regular zipper foot allows you to get right up close to the zipper, which you see below at the bump between the foot and the vertical pin.


Once you make it past the end of the zipper, if your seam line isn't quite at 5/8", you may want to gradually move in that direction ;)


Press your seams open from the inside of the skirt, and lightly press along the zip from the outside.


Okay, now for the lining! At this point, one option is to press the center back edges, and waistline edge, of your lining in 5/8", and then hand stitching your lining to the zipper tape and along the seam allowance of your skirt. You are totally welcome to do that! Maybe you love handsewing, I don't know. Personally, I'm not a fan, so we're going to do a bit more creative sewing to insert our lining with no hand sewing.

Start by pressing the bottom edge of your lining up 1/2".


Then, fold your lining to the right side of your dress.

We're going to pin in to the right side, sandwiching the zipper tape between outside fabric and lining. match the bodice waistband seam of the lining to the bodice. The skirt seam will not match up--remember, we pressed the bottom of the lining up 1/2", not 5/8", so it should have a slight overhang.

Pin in place, with the pressed edge still folded up.

Pin the rest of the way to the neckline of the dress.

At the very top, the seam where the lining and outside fabric are stitched together (and possibly understitched) should be rolled towards the lining side of the zipper. This way the lining won't poke out at center back.

Do the same for the other side of the zipper. If you did a good job matching your dress fabric across the zipper, there's no need to match the lining seams to each other--by matching each bodice waistband seam of the lining to that of the garment fabric, the linings should match across the zipper when you are done.


From the inside, it should look like this (that's my interlining showing, not my lining):

Using your (regular, not invisible) zipper foot,  sew along the teeth of the zipper (that's the bump to the left of the zipper foot), within the center back seam allowance. If you sew on the wrong side of the zipper, you'll totally enclose your zipper within the lining. If you sew on the seam allowance side, you attach the lining to the extrerior along the zipper tape, leaving the teeth exposed.

When you get to the end, be sure to leave the pressed edge of your lining folded up! Sew across the fold.

If you want proof that what you're doing makes sense (I don't blame you), flip your center back right side out really quickly, you should see a your zipper poking out along the edge of your center back seam, with a nicely finished lining.
Turn it back inside out and trim the excess zipper tape and the corner off, then press lightly, avoiding the zipper teeth.


Just like when we applied the zipper, the plastic stopper should be right at the top of the neckline, and the lining should be rolled to the inside of the garment.

Here you can see that the bodice seam of the lining's waistband matches across the zipper, and the skirt side of the waistband is a little bit longer than the skirt side of the fabric.

Do the same thing on the other side. When you zip up the zipper and turn your dress inside out; it should look like this:
Finally, let's attach the waistline of the lining to the waistline of the fabric. First, pin the bottom edge of the lining to the edge of the bodice. Remember, when we pressed the edge of the lining up, we only pressed up 1/2" not 5/8", and we'll make use of that now by allowing the lining to overhang the bodice by 1/8". I'm pinning from the interior of the dress to make sure it is precise, because we'll sew from the exterior of the garment and we want to catch the lining all the way around the waistline.


The side seams are a good way to keep on track; side seams of skirt and lining should match up:


Once your lining is pinned, you have two options: repinning from the outside, or glue stick!


I was always skeptical of glue sticks and sewing, but I've been converted--I'll be using that. I unpin a section at a time, apply the glue to the seam allowance, and stick down the lining, gluing it down so it won't move an inch. (The initial pinning step is probably unnecessary but I like to do it since it more easily reversible than gluing.)


Flip your dress over and stitch in the ditch all the way around your dress, being sure not to stitch all the way to the edge and over your zipper!! (If you do, you won't be able to zip it past the waistband.) I use my blind hem foot as an edge stitch/stitch in the ditch foot since it has a nice guide down the center, but you can use any foot you like and just go slow. Ideally, you'll be sewing right in the seam between waistband and skirt:


Because of the slight overhang of the lining, stitching along the skirt waistband seam should catch the lining at about 1/8", like this:

(Mine's not perfect, and that's okay!)


But it's practically invisible from the outside!

(f you don't feel confident in your ditch-stitching, you can always sew this portion by hand!)

Next week, the hem... you're so close! At the end of next week, your dress will technically be done, but I have some little optional finishing touches for the last week.

xoxo,
allie

ps: in general, if you can't find an exact color match, go with the invisible zipper a shade too dark--it will blend into the shadow of the seam and be less noticeable than a lighter zipper.



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