Black Swing Dress (Simplicity 4977)

Last year I spent quite a lot of time adjusting the fit on this early 60s pattern, Simplicity 4977. I ended up making this lovely tropical dress and deciding after all that that I really prefer my old standby vintage swing dress pattern, Simplicity 6820. The two patterns are very similar, except that 6820 has raglan sleeves and is slightly fuller, where 4977 is slightly less swingy--more a-line than trapeze--and has grown-on sleeves. Recently, however, I was caught up in the modeled shots of the Wiksten Shift and even thought about buying it (based on the cute cute black and white stripe version, ugh so cute) before I realized oh! I actually already have basically that exact pattern. This little vintage number was sitting in my stash just waiting to be rediscovered. The Wiksten Shift has a sweet back yoke detail that this pattern is missing but other than that it is very similar in shape! In fact, I think I prefer this vintage pattern to the Wiksten Shift for me personally--the slight a-line is more in my comfort zone than the Wiksten, which appears to be straight up-and-down according to the line art.

The other wonderful thing about this pattern is that it's very economical with fabric--more so than 6820. The front and back don't quite fit side-by-side on a 60" width fabric but you only need to stagger them slightly and since the sleeves are cut as part of the dress it's just front, back, and neck facings--that's it! I used the leftover Atelier Brunette rayon crepe from another recent black dress, because you can never have enough swishy black dresses, right? With this stash pattern and leftover fabric, this is practically a "free" dress!

If I end up returning to this pattern a third time, the only major change I would make it to alter the neckline slightly, making it a little bit narrower and a little bit deeper in the front. This time, I sewed the neckline with a 3/8" seam allowance instead of 5/8" just to get a little extra coverage on either side but if I ever plan on making multiples of this, it's easy enough to make that change permanently.

Whenever a new pattern catches my eye, its so so tempting to click purchase and be part of the cool new pattern club--but it's so much better for your wallet to double check your stash first! I've found that for me, with my extensive stash and passable pattern-hacking skills, I can cobble together just about anything without a new pattern purchase. Of course, that doesn't mean I never buy patterns... but I've definitely been trying to be good about buying fewer!

xoxo,
allie

ps: just wait, I'll be back with a bunch of new patterns like, tomorrow haha



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Blushing Beauty (Emerald Erin Black Beauty)

One of my 2019 #makenine goals was a great t-shirt bra, and I had picked out the Orange Lingerie Fenway as my bra of choice. However, I have a new bra that has taken up residence in that #makenine spot--the Emerald Erin Black Beauty. The name is from the original bra she designed for herself, in black bra tulle, way back in 2015 for her Bra-a-Week challenge. 

View A is a cool, almost sporty design that uses fold-over elastic to finish the cup edges and form the strap. I love the cool double strap--it is a unique detail I haven't seen on other bra patterns! View B is a dream in lace, with more traditional straps and finishing (perfect if you own a generic lace bra kit and want to use it for this pattern, like I do). Since the lace view only has lace on the front, and only needs lace edges for the top of the bra cup, it's a perfect scrap-buster pattern for those lace pieces with only a little bit of edge left over! Both views can have added foam lining on the cups for extra coverage, which is nice, and both views are absolutely gorgeous and have all the details you find on expensive designer bras. 

My view, you may have already noticed, uses elements from both views! I had a lace kit (that Erin provided) but I was dying to try the double straps, so I mixed and matched pieces from both views: the straps and back are from the sporty FOE view and the lace edges in the front are from the lace view. I added the bra foam lining as well, since my Berkeley bras are all unlined and... I wish they had foam.

This is the best fitting handmade bra I own now, and the one I most enjoy wearing, since I really like foam lining in my bras. The thing I've struggled with the most in past bras is the underwire digging in at my sternum. Since this bra was designed with a specific wire in mind, has eliminated my underwire discomfort almost entirely. Unlike the other bra patterns I've bought, this one has a specific wire recommendation which you can pick up from Erin's shop when you download the pattern. If you still aren't sure, Erin is one of the most helpful people I've interacted with in the sewing world--she's so generous with her time and knowledge and will totally help answer all your pressing bra questions. 

I've already picked up a second bra kit from the Emerald Erin store--with embroidered bees I seriously can't wait--and I want to make a third, more casual version using some jersey scraps I have in my "underwear-to-be" drawer.

xoxo,
allie

ps: her shop is in CAD not USD, fyi



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Klum House Fremont Tote (& RAICES auction)

Knocking out another one of my 2019 #MakeNine items! I bought this kit during Klum House's Black Friday/Small Business Saturday sale last year so I had everrrrything I needed just ready and waiting for me to put it together. Plus, it only took about an afternoon to sew, something which can not be said about several of my other #makenine items--I'm looking at you, future quilt and LBD!

The Fremont is a zip-top tote with two exterior pockets, one interior pocket, handles, and a shoulder strap. The kit comes with the fabric and lining, leather strapping, and all the hardware you need to make it! The only things you'll need to provide on your own are a sewing machine and thread and a couple of tools: an awl and a fabric/leather punch. When I made my Woodland Dopp Kit, I was able to use my awl to do all the rivets, but for this bag, there are rivets AND a sturdier screw thing that hold the strap on to the corners of the bag, and try as I might I could not get my awl to create a large enough hole. Luckily, my city has this incredible resource called the Scrap Exchange--a wonderful and weird "Creative Reuse Arts Center" where you can purchase, for example, a bucket of CD jewel cases, or test tubes, or a barrel of egg cartons, or a telescope, or fabric, or bricks, or... (here's a list of items the accept via donations. It's basically everything.) Scrap Exchange also has a Wednesday night open-sewing night where you can come and use their sergers and sewing machines and they have loads of tools including leather tools! They had a rotating leather awl on hand that was exactly what I needed to finish my project.

The best part about Klum House bag maker kit projects is that they are so so quick. Since everything is already cut and marked and ready to go, it really is a weekend project, and you end up with a bag that looks very professional--I don't think anyone would guess that I made this bag. I'm really happy with how it turned out, but I do wish it were bigger; it is a true tote bag size. It's still roomy enough to fit all my daily necessities (and with the zip top and multiple handles it would be great for travel) but it's definitely not large enough for, say, an overnight trip, which is one thing I was hoping to use it for. (What I should do is multiply all the dimensions by like, 1.5, and then remake it larger overall.) This is my fault as the dimensions are clearly listed on the website, but as it is, I'm just not sure if I will use it all that much. It would make a perfect project bag though!

Therefore... I'm actually auctioning this bag off. Between now and this Friday, July 12th, at 6:00 pm EST, I'll be accepting bids on this bag on the dedicated instagram post, which you can see here. You can bid on the bag there and the winner will receive the bag (and, perhaps, some bonus goodies!) in exchange for a RAICES donation in the amount of the winning bid. (You'll just make the donation and then forward me the thank you email as proof.) Head on over to my instagram to bid!

xoxo,
allie

ps: if you live in the triangle area and haven't been to the scrap exchange, you should definitely plan on going--and swing by Freeman's Creative, in the same shopping mall, while you're there!



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Black Linen Shirtdress (Sewaholic Granville)

I promised to show you the original black version of my Granville shirtdress in the post for the blush version, and here I am delivering on that promise, at the risk of making this blog a Granvilles-only blog. By the way, although Harts did provide the fabric for the blush dress, I bought this fabric myself.

The two differences between the blush and black versions are the waistband and the gathers. For the blush version, I raised the waistband slightly. This one is just a touch below my natural waist. The blush one is just a touch above my natural waist, although not empire. I thought I would prefer the slightly raised waist in version two but in fact I think I like them about the same. The black one is a little bit looser than the blush, as well. I didn't write down the measurements for the waistband between versions so they aren't exactly the same.  This is how I make skirts--I just measure my waist every time.

The second change I made was to redistribute the bodice waistline gathers. In this version, all the excess bodice material was just gathered to center back. This gives the front a sleeker look than the underbust gathers seen on the pink but the side seams do tilt backwards a bit. It doesn't bother me but it might if you a fit fanatic!

This black fabric is the same as the blush one, just a different color (obviously). Having used it for two dresses I can say with confidence that I really like it. I saw a similar rayon/linen blend sold elsewhere as "silky noil" and I agree that it does have a texture reminiscent of a silk noil, but it's under $10 a yard, so... you can expect to see more of this fabric in the future!

xoxo,
allie

ps: yes, this is practically the exact same outfit as the blush dress but in all black. it's a winning combination, what can i say?



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Wrapped in Black (Simplicity 7942)


When I saw the teasers for the new BHL pattern on Elisalex's instagram, my first reaction was "pretty!" and my second was "wait a minute--I already have that pattern!" Digging a bit through my stash I pulled out this sweet woven wrap dress from the 60s that I purchased a few years ago and never gotten around to making. Now that there will be similar dresses popping up all over I thought I'd join in the trend and make my version! I've never worn a lot of wrap dresses due to gaping, but if the dress fits well, it theoretically shouldn't gape, right?

I usually feel fairly confident making 60s Simplicity patterns--I know that a size 12 (bust 32) should fit pretty well right out of the envelope and just use a small bust adjustment. This one, however, was a weird size--a size 10 and bust 32.5. It does say "misses" so it doesn't seem to be a half size... anyone know what's going on here? Therefore, I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I figured an SBA was probably a good idea though so even before I made a muslin, I did a quick 3/8" SBA! I then ended up undoing almost all of it. Sometimes that's just how it works! In the end, I think the fit is not perfect, but it's fine. Going by the "better than ready to wear" I'm golden.

The main difference between this dress pattern and the BHL one is that this one has a shaped skirt, while (I believe) the BHL skirt is a dirndl (a rectangle). The shaped skirt was wider than my fabric, though, so I ended up with a rectangle skirt after all. Also, the neckline on the BHL dress is much wider--this is my "wearable muslin" of sorts since I wasn't sure how I would like this style but if I wanted to more closely mimic the BHL I could go in and widen the neckline of this pattern, however, I prefer the coverage on this narrower V neck, I think. I spend a lot of time seated at a desk across from standing members of the male public (at the library) so the more coverage the better. I'm not as busty as Elisalex--I only wish I could fill out a wrap dress like her!--but still. The last minor thing is that this dress closes with skirt hook and eyes on the inside and the belt is only decorative. In the teasers, the BHL dress looks like it ties with waist ties. This is also an easy swap.

I used a light cotton lawn in black, which is nice because it is very thin for summer but still pretty opaque. I'm really into black dresses for summer, since it adds a little bit of mystery or glamour to what could otherwise be a pretty standard summer sundress. In North Carolina, I know I'm going to be melting regardless of clothing color so I may as well go for it, I guess. I like to think I look very cool--even if I don't feel cool-- in my black dresses, sunglasses, and straw hat.

xoxo,
allie

ps: these photos were taken at Duke Chapel and isn't the lighting so cool?



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Sewaholic Shirtdress (Sewaholic Granville)

Thank you to Harts Fabric for providing the fabric for this project.

Wow, y'all are still tuning in to read about about me making Granville variations? I'm back, again, with yet another. This time, a dress version! You may remember back when I made a two-piece fake shirtdress with a Granville shirt and Rae skirt, but now I'm back with a proper full version. It basically just ends up looking like the blogger-favorite McCall's 6696 shirtdress, but by starting with the Granville, I minimized fitting.

The fabric I used is the Robert Kaufman Brussels Washer Linen in blush, a linen/rayon blend I got from Harts Fabric. I'm pleased to say I'm an official part of the Harts Fabric Street Team--which just means they will occasionally provide me with fabric for my projects (so, if you've been reading for a while, you'll probably not even notice a difference--I'm a longtime Harts fan). This is the second time I've paired this pattern + modifications and fabric; I made a trial version in black (to mask any mistakes) and then set about cutting the blush fabric after finishing that dress. (I made a few small changes between versions that I'll talk about when I post the black one.)

The trickiest part of picking out fabric is sometimes the interfacing, don't you agree? I've struggled with inappropriate fusible interfacing in my past Granville attempts so this time, when Harts was providing the fabric, I asked them to also pick out some interfacing that would be appropriate for the pattern and fabric and send it along with the Brussels linen blend. I have said like 100 times that this is one reason I love shopping at Harts--they are always super helpful and knowledgeable and can help you select the most appropriate fabric and notions for your project, whether it be jeans or a floaty sundress. Also you can add matching thread to any fabric order and they'll pick the best match. Genius, right? They are lifesavers! Or, project-savers at least.

Here's how I did it! You'll need to make alterations to the front and back bodice pieces (plus sleeves if you want short sleeves like I did) and then add some extra pieces that are just rectangles. For the front, I just cut it off 3" below the bottom of the bust dart. I cut off some more later, once the top was constructed, and I'd suggest just doing it this way, that way you can decide how short or long you want your bodice to be. for the back, I overlapped the center and side back by 1 1/4" (the seam allowances) and treated them as one. This is possible because the top half of those princess seams are actually pretty straight. you can just ignore the bottom half of the pattern pieces where the shaping is, and cut them off at 3" below the side seam notch (which matches up with the front dart).

You'll need a waistband next, which you can make as wide as you like and as long as you'll need to wrap around your waist plus 1" (for the front shirt band overlap) plus seam allowances plus ease. Make two of these, one for the outside and one for the inside (to tidy up the interior). I want to wear this dress in the heat of summer so mine is looser than my waistband are, generally. The skirt is just a two rectangles the width of the fabric, one split in half vertically for the two front skirt piece, and one complete for the back. This much in this fabric is a bit heavy--it has a satisfying swish but does drag the bodice down a bit (especially since it doesn't have the support of a more fitted waistband). I also added some in-seam pockets! This is something I almost always skip; I'm not as pockets-crazy as many of you appear to be! I borrowed the pockets pattern piece from another Sewaholic dress pattern, but you can use any pocket pattern piece (or just draw a pocket shape haha).

To put it together, you construct the whole top part, the whole skirt, and then attach the waistband and waistband lining to the bodice exterior and interior respectively, and gather the skirt into the waistband. Depending on your waist measurement, you may need to gather the bodice into the waistband, too, which I did at center back (like McCalls 6696) and the front under the bust. (I used the tips of the darts as reference points for the under-bust gathers.) I love the way the gathers in the back look--it's super flattering to your waist if that's something you are looking for! The dress is closed by buttons/holes on skirt and bodice and a hook and eye at the waistband. The waistband facing is finished by hand, or you could stitch in the ditch or topstitch. I should have interfaced the waistband. I didn't want to add bulk but it's a bit droopy.

I'll share the black version once it's clean--I've been wearing it lots since it's comfortable, practical, and pretty cool, even if it is black, due to the linen/rayon blend. Perfect for a goth retro summertime look which is totally my vibe this summer.

xoxo,
allie

ps: if you have any questions about this tutorial overview let me know and I will try to answer!



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Simple florals (Simplicity 4475)

One dress that I reach for over and over in the spring and summer is my light blue seersucker Simplicity 4475. This is the type of dress I want to wear every day during the summer--sleeves so I don't have to wear a cardigan to work, fitted enough to flatter, but not constrictive, with a full skirt long enough to do all the bending and crouching my job (children's librarian) requires. I also love that I can wear this type of dress with little sneakers and a ponytail for a casual look or espadrilles or wedges and pearls to dress it up a bit. Honestly, it's the easiest possible outfit. At one time, I felt like this was all I was sewing fit-and-flare dresses but looking in my closet, I actually don't have a huge collection of this type of dress, due to purging old makes. Looking back on past Me Made Mays, though, I can see that I love wearing them!

This has the same small modification as my black swiss dot version--a slight small bust adjustment (about 3/8"). This is something that I had been meaning to do since my first version and never bothered to do since it's just a small thing, but it really does make all the difference! This is the best fitting pattern ever, I just love it. I have about 5 or 6 of these by now and love them all.

The fabric is a little cotton lawn from Robert Kaufmann, part of their "London Calling" line, which I think is meant to be reminiscent of Liberty. At about $10/yard, it's so much cheaper. I have to admit though... I treated myself to some Liberty Tana Lawn for my birthday next month to make another of this pattern!

xoxo,
allie

ps: i also have a few stash fabrics that might turn into this pattern as well!



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Me Made May Flowers (Deer and Doe Goji & Harts Fabric Tour)

Thank you to Harts Fabric for providing the materials for this post. See more photos on their blog!

Y'all have seen about 87 versions of the Sewaholic Rae skirt here on the blog so today I'm trying out a similar pattern for comparison, the Goji Shorts and Skirt from French pattern company Deer and Doe. In terms of style these two skirts are very similar--they are both paneled A-line skirts with gathered waistbands. However, the Goji also has pockets and a shorts variation, so if the idea of paying $18 for a super basic skirt pattern seems unreasonable, you can level up to a $20 pattern that comes with a shorts version and pockets!

Both Sewaholic and Deer and Doe both have reliable, high-quality drafting. Although Sewaholic patterns are drafted for pears (and their measurements match mine almost exactly), I've had lots of success with Deer and Doe Patterns in the past as well! This first time making the Goji, I used a lovely soft rayon challis from Harts Fabric as part of their #memademayflowers blog tour! I'm soft for a pretty floral so I couldn't say no. I didn't add a lining or anything since I always wear a slip with my skirts. For more details on the fabric, head over to my blog post on the Harts Fabric blog!

Comparing the pattern pieces from the Rae and Goji, the two patterns are very similar! The Goji skirt is most like view A of the Rae in fullness; I usually make view B/C, the fuller variations. Both have front/back and side panels. The main difference is that the Goji has a separate waistband, while the Rae waistband is all-in-one with the skirt panels. Additionally, the hem of the Goji (shorts and skirt both) are finished with facings, rather than folded under and hemmed that way. That does make the Goji a slightly more challenging sew than the Rae, but both are appropriate for beginner sewers in the right fabric! The main visual difference (besides the pockets, which I left off in this make) is the waistband elastic--the Rae just has one wider elastic casing and the Goji has two rows of elastic and a drawstring for a slightly sporty look.

Although I've made Rae about 100 times and will never let go of my Rae pattern, if you are in the amrket for a new pattern I think the Deer and Doe Goji is a slightly better option just because of the added pockets and the shorts variation. By leaving the pockets off, you can make a skirt that's very similar to the Rae, and either of them are good starting points for my Rae hack tutorial, so why not get the bonus shorts at the same time?

xoxo,
allie

ps: get the fabric here.



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Klum House Maywood Totepack

I mentioned that I wanted to make another Klum House project in my 2019 Make Nine plans so I was obviously so excited when the ladies at Klum House reached out to me to be a reviewer for their latest kit, the Maywood Totepack. I just recently purchased myself a cute Fjallraven backpack and didn't need another backpack at the moment but my husband Alex has been using a ratty old work-swag backpack to lug around all his Dungeons & Dragons gear (books, notebooks, pencils, dice, miniatures, etc.) and it was time for an upgrade. Plus, in waxed canvas and vegetable tanned leather, it totally fits the aesthetic of a roving band of adventurers, don't you think?

As with the Woodland Dopp Kit, the Maywood Kit that Klum House put together was gorgeously packaged, super organized, and contains everything you need to make a professional quality bag. The Maywood is a convertible bag with an ingenious system of straps that allows you to use it as either a backpack or a tote bag. It also has a large internal pocket big enough for a 15" laptop, a front pocket with a magnetic snap, and a zip top to keep all your gear secure!

I did make one large-ish mistake in the construction of this bag--I was so excited about learning my new riveting technique that I got totally carried away and riveted the lining and exterior fabric together in several spots where only the exterior was supposed to be riveted! Klum House's kits do provide extra rivets in case of mistakes but... I had riveted too many rivets to turn back. This made my sewing a little challenging since my fabric was stuck together at spots it was not supposed to be. I would not recommend this--I recommend following the instructions, which clearly state not to do this--but I managed with some wrangling. The end result is that the inside of my backpack isn't quite as tidy as it is intended to be. Everywhere you see leather supports and rivets on the inside, like in the last photo, they should be hidden by the lining.

These kits are not the most affordable afternoon project (for that I'd go with the free Megan Nielsen Acacia undies pattern and some jersey scraps from your stash!) but I do think they are worth the price. First, Klum House does all the hard work of sourcing all the matching notions. They cut and punch all the leather strapping so you don't to invest in a full hide or any leather tools. The even cut the fabric pieces for you, and wrap it all up in a beautifully packaged kit. (Bonus: if you purchase the kit, you also get free access to the virtual class on April 28th.) If you compare the cost of a Klum House kit to, for example, the waxed canvas-and-leather Filson bags my brother collects, it's competitively priced.

It's honestly so satisfying to learn a new skill, and just as when I made my first jeans using a jeans hardware kit, or my first bra using a bra making kit, it's nice to know that you have all the necessary and appropriate gear. Focusing on the skills you are learning without having to second guess your materials is one of those little luxuries in the sewing room!

xoxo,
allie

ps: did i punch through my cutting mat and into my table a little? maybe.



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