Summer 2015 Sewing Projects

Summer is finally in full swing here, and all that crazy rain Texas was getting is a distant memory. Well, at least it is where I am.

Summer is one of my busier times in terms of cons and cosplay, and the last two months have been no exception. I realized recently that I haven’t sewn any non-cosplay garments for myself this year, and I miss it. While I enjoy sewing costumes and commissions, I also love sewing up geeky dresses and clothes just for fun. And to be honest, I’m a little burned out on cosplay at the moment. Fortunately, I’m coming up on a brief break in cosplay and commission projects, so I’m hoping to make the following non-cosplay things:

1. A craft apron

IMG_2522

I picked up this sewing-themed fabric several months ago, and my first thought was to make a craft apron. They’re so cute! This would be great for running around and working on crafts at home, and very useful when I eventually get around to my goal of selling at fairs and cons.

2. Gabriola Skirt

1401_Sewaholic_Gabriola_skirt_front__65008.1405347492.1280.1280I mentioned at the end of last  year that I really wanted to add a pretty maxi skirt to my collection. While I love things like skater dresses, it’s nice to have a swishy skirt on hand, especially now that we’re in decidedly in non-trouser and non-leggings weather. I’d love to make this in a soft, flowing fabric like a linen blend.

3. Davie Dress

1503_Sewaholic_Davie_Envelope__98130.1425076640.1280.1280Another dress I’ve wanted since I first saw the design! I love a good knit dress pattern for work and fun, and this is a beautiful design! It’s perfect for how I normally dress and still casual enough to hit happy hour after work. I’d love to make 1 or 2 of these in the coming weeks. Maybe one in the black/grey combination used for the sample and another in lighter summer colors. I’m definitely making the sleeveless one!

I’m trying not to take on too many projects, since I want to take my time and really enjoy sewing just for me. Really, these projects are all about getting me back to my sewing roots and doing this crazy hobby just for fun.

What’s on your summer crafting list?

Mabel #2: All About that Bass

mabel front
Man, I am rocking the resting bitch face.
Say hello to Mabel #2!

The Basics: 

Pattern: Colette Mabel, version 3.

Fabric: Approximately 1 yd. of navy ponte de roma leftover from my first Lady Skater.

Alterations: Added 1″ length

Notions: Thread and Wundertape.

Make it again?: Definitely. I’d like to make 1-2 more of these for work and the mini version for fun at some point. Maybe out of mermaid spandex?

Favorite parts: Same as last time. Comfort and how quickly I was able to finish it.

mabel side

Other thoughts: I completed this project during a mini-stay/sewcation I took last week. It was a palate cleanser of sorts. I’ve been in a massive funk over the last few weeks, so I wanted something quick and easy to recalibrate myself. This project definitely fits the bill. Since I’d already cut the pattern for Mabel #1, it didn’t take much time at all to cut the pieces for this version. I think it took 3 episodes of Archer from cutting to hemming.

mabel back
Hello ridiculous booty pop. I swear, I thought I had another back view photo, but I could not find it.

There’s really not a lot to say about this. My first Mabel is a regular wardrobe staple, and hopefully this one will be as well. The ponte de roma is a little lighter than my first one, so I do have to be careful about undergarment lumps and bumps. With fall coming on, I think it’ll be perfect with thick tights and cardigans. It’s nice to have another Mabel in rotation!

cardigan
I will take what is mine with fire and blood.

Since November is also Nerdvember, I decided to style this ensemble with one of my favorite nerdy pieces: my House Targeryan cardigan! Unfortunately, I can’t find it on the HBO site anymore. I swear, I wear this thing at least once a week. It pretty much goes with my entire wardrobe.

Do  you watch Game of Thrones? Which house is your favorite? 

November Challenge: Lady Skater-frew

skaterfrew front

Say hello to my latest skater baby: the Lady Skater-frew!

The Basics: 

Pattern: Lady Skater and Sewaholic Renfrew

Fabric: 3 yds of ponte de roma from Girl Charlee

Alterations: Blended bodice patterns together and added 3″ length to skirt.

Notions: Elastic and Wundertape.

Make it again?: I’ll definitely make another Lady Skater, though I’m not sure about another Lady Skater-frew. I love it, but I think one is enough (for now).

Favorite parts: Same as the last two skaters. I really adore the cowl on this top. It feels like wearing a giant (but very pretty) sweater!

skaterfrew side

Other thoughts: I really don’t have anything new to say that I haven’t mentioned with my navy and black and white Lady Skaters. It’s super comfortable and very quick to put together. Honestly, the longest part of construction was my pattern alterations. I paid careful mind to alterations, since the Renfew top uses a 5/8″ seam allowance and the Lady Skater uses 3/8″.

Basically, I laid the Lady Skater bodice over the Renfew pattern and blended the two together. I left the neckline and arm scythe of the Renfew alone so that I wouldn’t mess up the neckline or the sleeves. I thought about adding length to the sleeves, but I’m glad I didn’t, since they’re a little too long as is. The sleeve length doesn’t bother me too much, since I like slightly longer sleeves on my sweaters.

skaterfrew back

To make sure the dress would fit okay, I basted the sides together down to the waist before I serged it. I did have to take in the sleeves and the upper part of the bodice a bit (still could probably take them in more), but again, that’s primarily because I was dealing with two different seam allowances.

As I mentioned, I really like the giant cowl on this dress. I think I’ll make a cowl neck Renfrew top soon. I took Tasia’s advice and stitched down the seam allowance to the neckline, which makes a nice finish. I used a zig-zag stitch, but I think I’ll use my twin needle in the future.

skaterfrew doof

Overall, I love this dress! My only complaint about it is the material is prone to pilling. I’m having this problem with my other skaters too. I need to de-pill them and probably start hand washing them. Boo. Still, they’re pretty and fun to wear!

Have you made a Lady Skater hack? How did it turn out?

September Challenge: All About That Polka

Dots, that is. As promised, here’s Lady Skater #2! Better late than never, right?

polka dot front

The Basics: 

Pattern: Lady Skater with cap sleeves

Fabric: 2 yds of B&W polka dot ponte de roma from Girl Charlee

Alterations: Added 1″ length to bodice and 3″ length to skirt.

Notions: Elastic.

Make it again?: Yup. I’ve got a Skater/Renfrew hack next up on my sewing list!

Favorite parts: Same as last time. Comfort, quick finish, twirl-friendly skirt, flattering bodice.

polka dot side

Other thoughts: As expected, my navy Lady Skater has been a regular since I made it a few weeks ago. This polka dot fabric seemed perfect for LS #2!

Unfortunately, I had a few issues with this one. The main issue I had was that somehow I couldn’t eek out enough fabric to cut the neckband on the fold. At least, not on the stretchy cross-grain, which is what it’s supposed to be cut on. Okay, no big deal, just add a teeny bit extra on the pattern piece, cut 2, and combine. Simple, right? Well, I stretched out the band far too much as I sewed it to the bodice, resulting in the ugliest neckline ever. So I seam-ripped, and repeated. The second neckband was better, but kind of droopy. I think I cut it a bit too long.

Polka dot back

I also had pattern placement issues for the 3/4 length sleeve that I originally wanted, probably because I added length to both the bodice and the skirt. I also had 3 yards of fabric to work with on my navy dress, but only 2 for this one. I don’t actually mind the cap sleeve on this dress, since it gives me something a little different from the navy skater.

My last mistake was totally self-inflicted derpiness. I was about 6″ short on the amount of clear elastic I needed to finish the front bodice, buuuuuut I didn’t realize it until after I attached clear elastic to the back bodice. Derp. I used some leftover regular 3/8″ elastic to stabilize the bodice. Works fine, but the waist is a tiny bit wonky with the different amounts of elasticity.

Sewing up this baby was a breeze, even with seam ripping. I started around 7pm on a Monday evening and finished hemming around 9:30pm. Not bad for a single night!

seated dress

I really like how easy it is to style this dress. I have so many colored cardigans, leggings, and tights in my closet that I can use to add a little something extra, though I really need some more colored belts. I’m thinking a bright red belt is a must.

Next up is my Renfrew/Lady Skater hack. I found some gorgeous magenta ponte de roma from Girl Charlee, so I’m hoping to get to that sometime in the next week or so for October’s Frocktober theme. Probably a cowl neck with full length sleeves.

Have you made a Lady Skater hack? How did it turn out?

She’s Just a Skater Girl, pt. 2

I can’t help it. Every time I think “skater dress,” this some comes to mind.

I know, I’m terrible. It’s high school coming back to haunt me.

I made McCall’s 6754 a few month’s ago, and I really like it. Well, I like the dress itself for its comfort, but the fabric is just meh. I finally caved and joined the Girl Charlee bandwagon, and oh man, I don’t think I can go back to JoAnn’s knit selection.

skater front

The Basics: 

Pattern: Lady Skater with 3/4 sleeves

Fabric: 2 yds of navy ponte de roma from Girl Charlee

Alterations: Added 2″ length to bodice and 2″ length to skirt.

Notions: Clear elastic.

Make it again?: Absolutely. I already have another one planned and on my cutting table!

Favorite parts: Comfort, quick finish (around 3 hours using my BA serger), twirl-friendly skirt, flattering bodice.

How many shots does it take to get at least one decent twirl photo? At least a half dozen.
How many shots does it take to get at least one decent twirl photo? At least a half dozen.

Other thoughts: I don’t know what I can say about this project that hasn’t been said a million times before. I absolutely love this dress. In fact, this may be one of my favorite projects so far this year. Since making it a week ago, I’ve worn it twice (once over the weekend and once to work), and I’m definitely making it a wardrobe staple.

After the disaster that was my Moneta dress, I definitely felt the need to invest in quality fabric. I absolutely adore this ponte de roma. It feels better than wearing my pajamas! The recovery is fantastic, which is great for this particular pattern.

lady skater back

The pattern is drafted for someone who’s 5’5″, so I automatically added 2″ to the bodice and 2″ to the skirt to accommodate my 5’11” frame. The overall length is perfect for wearing this dress to work. Yay comfy work clothes! However, this adjustment dropped the waist a little low for wearing belts, so in future versions, I’ll only add 1″ to the bodice and 3″ to the skirt. I may need to do a teeny swayback alteration as well, but I’m curious to see if shortening the bodice will remedy the back pooling situation.

I thought that the neckband finish was an interesting touch on this pattern. Unlike the Renfrew (and the Moneta, if I remember correctly), you sew one shoulder, attach the neckline, *then* sew the second shoulder. I rather like this approach. It feels easier and a bit speedier to me.

skater side

When it came to sewing up the side seam, I ignored the directions and took the flat sewing approach used in RTW fashion, assembling the entire front and back (including the cuffs) and then sewing everything at once. It leaves a little bit of loose thread on the edge, but no worse than any of my RTW clothes.

I really like Kitschy Coo’s instructions on adding elastic. This is one of the areas where I got lost with my Moneta, but it feels much sturdier in this dress. Basting it in place with a zig-zag stitch makes so much sense!

To hem my dress, I used my super awesome Wundertape to hold the seam allowance in place and finished it off with my twin needle. Super pretty hem for the win! I also used my twin needle on the neckline for a more RTW look.

One more twirl for good measure.
One more twirl for good measure.

Overall, I’m very pleased with this dress. I’ve got a black and white polka dot ponte de roma (my September challenge to make up for missing the monochromatic theme) on my cutting table for a second take on this dress. Hopefully I’ll get it done this weekend. I still have about a yard of the blue for this fabric leftover, so I’m thinking another Mabel is in order too!

Have you made the Lady Skater? What do you think about it?

Colette Moneta

20140703-092100.jpg
Viva Las Vegas! I went to Vegas last weekend for a work conference and wore my Moneta for our first night out. Very comfy considering the insane heat. 110 degrees is ridiculous.

Not going to lie, I am really excited to have some non-cosplay projects on my table right now. I really enjoy making costumes, but it’s nice to have a break every now and then.

To keep things simple, I decided to make Colette’s Moneta with a reversible knit I picked up a few months ago. I originally purchased the fabric intending to make a Lady Skater (which I just purchased, thanks to Indie Pattern Month), but then Colette announced their new knit patterns. I pre-ordered  them, and that’s that.

20140703-091524.jpg
Apologies for the mostly dress form pics. I’m in the process of moving and realized the pics my BF took in Vegas are mostly blurry. But anywho, front view!

The Basics: 

Pattern: Colette Moneta, View B

Fabric: 2 yds of a midweight reversible knit.

Alterations: None. I cut a straight L based on my high bust measurement.

Notions: Clear elastic.

Side view. That derpy fold of fabric is the pocket. Apologies for the wrinkles as well. This is just out of the dryer.
Side view. That derpy fold of fabric is the pocket. Apologies for the wrinkles as well. This is just out of the dryer.

Make it again?: Maybe. I’m not over the moon about this pattern, but I’d like to give it one more go with some alterations.

Favorite parts: Comfort, quick finish (around 4-5 hours).

Other thoughts: It took me a few wears to come around on this dress, though I mostly blame the print. It was a bad choice, but I fell victim to one of my “Oh, cute fabric!” whims. There are a lot of really cute versions of this pattern in the sewing blog-o-sphere, but I don’t think mine is one of them.

I decided pretty quickly that this project would be a wearable muslin. Normally, I’d go ahead and add length to the bodice right off the bat, but I only had 2 yds since that’s what I would have needed with the Lady Skater. Turns out, I really needed that length with this pattern, since it hits much higher on the waist than I like. I’m okay with things sitting at my natural waist, but this hits me closer on the ribcage. It kind of feels like maternity wear, which makes me super self-conscious.

20140703-091700.jpg
Rear view. I do like the lower back. And look at that gathering! It almost makes the time worth the effort. Just kidding. I’m lazy. Totally doing this on the serger next time.

I’ve seen mixed reviews about the gathering process on the skirt. I gathered my skirt before attaching the elastic, but I think in future versions, I’ll just gather it on my serger with the elastic. Switching machines in the middle of a quickie project is super annoying (#firstworldproblems), so sticking to one machine for the bulk of a project seems a better solution.

Speaking of switching around machines, the hem gave me fits. I originally thought that I’d just do a rolled hem on this dress since it’s more of a weekend/play dress, but my serger and I had many disagreements. I ultimately gave up and used my twin-needle to finish it off like my neck and sleeves.

20140703-092141.jpg
Back view on me. It’s still high enough to cover my back tattoos, but just enough for a little peak of skin.

Overall, this is a quick, instant gratification project. I’ll probably give it another go in a solid or a more subdued print and add length to the bodice and hem. I’d also add bands to the neck and sleeves for an easier finish IMHO. And ditch the pockets. I like the idea of them, but they drove me crazy while wearing this dress.

20140703-091803.jpg
Since my fabric is reversible, I used the striped side to make the pockets.

Have you guys made this pattern yet? What are your thoughts?

She’s just a skater girl

Back to regular posting! A-Kon was a blast, but I’m really, really excited that my next big con isn’t until the end of August. I’m planning to attend A-fest for a day and another smaller con in July, but I don’t currently have anything new planned for those. My apartment has been a cos-disaster for the last two months, so it’ll be nice to have some time for non-costume sewing.

knit dress
Full-body shot of my dress and corset from Dallas Comic Con. Photo courtesy of Alan Tijerina Photography.

But speaking of costumes, let me introduce you to a dress that works both for costumes as well as casual wear: my new skater dress! A knit skater dress has been on my sewing to-do list for far longer than I care to admit. My initial inclination was to make Kitschy Coo’s Lady skater since the blog-o-sphere loves it so much, but I had one issue: I wanted princess seams (basically, I wanted to make my own version of this dress to wear under my nerdy corsets). I know it wouldn’t be *that* big of a deal to draft them myself, but before I purchased the Lady Skater, I stumbled across McCall’s 6754. Bonus: it was on sale for $1. Score!

The Basics: 

Pattern: McCall’s 6754, view D with the sleeves from view C.

Fabric: 2 yds of a midweight 4-way stretch knit

Alterations: Finished the sleeves with the bands from my Renfrew.

Notions: Clear elastic.

Make it again?: Most likely. I’d love to make a few more of these for work and play.

Favorite parts: Comfort, quick finish (around 4 hours), twirl-friendly skirt, flattering bodice.

X-ladies unite! Ran into a great Storm when I wore this get-up on Friday.
X-ladies unite! Ran into a great Storm when I wore this outfit on Friday.

Other thoughts: For the most part, this is a quick and easy project to put together. My measurements would have put me at an XL, but I went off of my high bust instead and cut a L. Definitely a good call, since I would have drowned in an XL. A few other bloggers noted bagginess in the sleeve area, so I went ahead and lopped off an extra 1″ of the sleeve seam.

The pattern calls for an elastic casing at the waist to stabilize the skirt. It’s definitely necessary with the weight of the skirt, but I found the casing instructions a bit ridiculous. Instead, I just used clear elastic, much like the instructions for the Moneta.

The pattern also calls for a narrow hem on both the neckline and the sleeves. I decided to finish them off the the bands from my Renfrew. This worked well enough for the arm bands, but my neck band got all kinds of twisted (I mostly blame the fabric). Rather than rip my serging out and make the neckline scandalous (for work, anyway), I just folded my crap-tacular neck under and finished it off with my twin needle.

Scandalous neckline is extra scandalous in corsets.
Scandalous neckline is extra scandalous in corsets.

I wanted to finish this dress quickly, so I finished the skirt of the dress with a rolled hem, courtesy of my serger. It’s not as neat as I’d like, but it’s fine for a mostly play/weekend skirt.

Overall, this is a great instant-gratification project. I’d love to hack it with my Renfrew to make a cowl-neck dress when we get closer to fall. I’ll still make a Lady Skater at some point, just because knit dresses are the best (and I love supporting indie pattern makers). They’re so easy to dress up or down and are absurdly comfortable. My main purpose with this dress was to have something to wear under corsets, but I’ve worn it at least once a week since making it with cardigans, scarves, tights, funky belts, and more.

EDIT: Details on the rest of the outfit for the curious. The corset is by Lauren of Castle Corsetry. Great customer service and this corset is gorgeous. Very well made and very pretty. My wig, scarf, gloves, and shoes are all cobbled together from previous Rogue costumes.

Have you guys tried this pattern yet?

May Challenge: Maybe it’s Mabel(ine)

Remember back in March/April when Colette announced they were releasing knit patterns? I squealed with joy. I was looking for an excuse to play with knits more. This is partly out of a desire to build a more functional wardrobe, but also so that I could practice using my serger for something other than finishing seams.

When the patterns came out, I was a little… underwhelmed, especially since I dropped $50 for the pre-packaged order of Mabel, Moneta, and the new book. Mabel just seemed so simple (that’s the main reason I went with version 3, since it looked more interesting). Silly me. I should have known that Mabel would quickly become a favorite.

mabel front

The Basics: 

Pattern: Colette Mabel, version 3.

Fabric: Approximately 1 yd. of leftover grey mid-weight mystery knit from the stash.

Alterations: Added 1″ length

Notions: Thread. I did have to spring for a twin needle since I didn’t have one on hand.

Make it again?: Definitely. I’d love to make another version for work in the near future.

Favorite parts: Comfort and how quickly I was able to finish it.

mabel rear
Not going to lie, I kind of love how this skirt makes my rear look. Definitely go for a thicker knit with this pattern! This is the lightest I think I’d go.

Other thoughts: A bit of back story for Mabel. I started working on this last Tuesday. I was at a weird mid-point with some of my other projects and costumes. I needed to make a store run for more supplies, but it was the end of the month and I didn’t want to spend money on more stuff until payday. Still, I had a creative itch and wanted make something. I dug around in my stash and found this fabric leftover from my first set of Lilith leggings. It took some clever folding and cutting, but I managed to cut this in a large (perfectly matched up with my measurements) and add an extra inch of length.

The overall construction of this skirt is ridiculously simple. So much so that I kept referring to the instructions thinking that I had missed a vital step. The only time I deviated from the instructions was in the construction of the waistband. I don’t have quite enough space to work with my serger and my sewing machine at the same time, so I nixed the stitch in the ditch and just serged all of it together at once. Yay laziness.

Mabel took 2 1-hour sessions to complete. I did the cutting and the bulk of the construction on Tuesday evening and then finished the kick pleat and the hem on Thursday after picking up a twin needle. My original plan was just to hem it with a zig-zag stitch, but I’m glad I picked up the twin needle. It’s a great technique to know for mimicking RTW clothes!

I really like Mable. She’s super comfy, versatile, and a perfect length to wear to work! I’ve worn her twice so far (once casually and once to work) and will probably keep her in my regular rotation over the summer. I just hope I love Moneta this much!

mabel skirt
Casual Mabel ensemble for a fabric shopping excursion last week.

Have you made Mabel or Moneta yet?