Tag Archives: Joann Fabrics

Fun in Green: A McCall’s 7948 Dress in Green Cotton Eyelet

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Fun in Green:  A McCall’s 7948 Dress in Green Cotton Eyelet

I have a fun dress to share with you today!  This dress is all about volume, which makes it a joy to wear.  Today’s pattern is McCall’s 7948, View D, a very popular style that is showing up in lots of stores and sewing patterns.

Fun in Green:  A McCall's 7948 Dress in Green Cotton Eyelet

I bought this pattern last year with the thought of making it in eyelet, just like the cover photo, but with a fun colored slip underneath.

Fun in Green:  A McCall's 7948 Dress in Green Cotton Eyelet

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Fun in Green:  A McCall's 7948 Dress in Green Cotton Eyelet

I made a few slips, and then finally made the dress.  This was supposed to be my Easter dress, but time got away from me, (or I just plan more sewing projects than I can actually sew), and this didn’t get started until May.  Part of what held me up was trying to decide what trim to use on the dress, but in the end (and after looking at examples online), I decided to go trim-less and just make the dress in green.

Fun in Green:  A McCall's 7948 Dress in Green Cotton Eyelet

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Fun in Green:  A McCall's 7948 Dress in Green Cotton Eyelet

I traced a straight size 20, and just barely eked it out with the yardage I had.  This green cotton eyelet was from last spring at Joann’s, and I got it on sale this year when it was almost gone.  I managed to find 1 2/3 yards in one store and another piece that was three inches short of two yards in a different store.  The fabric is 50/51″ wide, but 8-9″ of that is plain green cotton without the eyelet embroidery on the edges.  I had to do a bit of pattern Tetris to get it all figured out, but it worked in the end.  I had wanted to include pockets, but I realized that you would probably be able to see them through the eyelet, and I didn’t have enough fabric anyway, so I left them off.

Fun in Green:  A McCall's 7948 Dress in Green Cotton Eyelet

One really nice thing about the style of this dress is that I didn’t have to do too many adjustments–no grading between sizes, no broad back adjustment.  All I did was to add some width at the top of the sleeves and lower the front neckline by 1/2″ based on Martha’s review on the Buried Diamond blog.  I used The Perfect Fit, my favorite basic fitting book for directions for these things.  It said not to lower the neckline beyond 1/2″ in this size because it would affect other aspects of the pattern, but the one thing I would consider doing if I make this again is to see if I could lower the neckline a bit more.  It’s mostly fine when standing and walking around, but the dress does slide a bit toward the back occasionally and it can sometimes be a problem when sitting.  My husband’s idea was to weight the front hem.  What do you think?  What would you do?

Fun in Green:  A McCall's 7948 Dress in Green Cotton Eyelet

That very minor adjustment and issue aside, I LOVE how this dress feels to wear.  It’s my ideal summer dress as far as feel–loose, flowy, breezy thanks to the eyelet, perfectly comfortable.  The slip worked out great–I didn’t even notice it, which is the goal (no one wants an uncomfortable slip).  I couldn’t see its color as much as I would have liked, but that is due to the very small holes in this eyelet.  You can see it at the points where the dress touches your body, but not much more.  Regardless, it provides the opacity I wanted when the light shines through the dress.  Now here is a weird conundrum–do you make your clothes to feel good or look “flattering” (whatever your definition of that word is)?  I don’t think this dress makes me look like any ideal vision I might have of myself, but other than that, it feels great, covers me in all the areas I want covered, and brings me joy…but I don’t think it makes me look amazing.  When you can’t always have both, which do you choose?  In general, I come down on the side of comfort and feel, but I admit that it is sometimes a mental struggle for me.  I could make uncomfortable clothes that I think look good on me, or I can make comfortable clothes that may or may not look good, but that feel good.  Comfort wins for me, but if I’m honest, I really want both in most cases.

Fun in Green:  A McCall's 7948 Dress in Green Cotton Eyelet

The other thing I changed on this dress was the facings.  I did manage to cut them out, but realized that the interfacing I was supposed to use was going to show through, and I didn’t have any fabric I could use as sew-in interfacing that was close to this color.  In the end, I decided to finish the neckline and back slit with bias tape, because I had a lot of it that was close to this color.  It took a bit of thinking, but I managed to figure out how to do the back slit, and I’m pretty happy with the result and definitely happy not to have used facings or interfacing that would show through around the neckline and back.

Fun in Green:  A McCall's 7948 Dress in Green Cotton Eyelet

I used some single fold bias to finish the hems of the sleeves and skirt and a pretty vintage button on the back of the dress.

Fun in Green:  A McCall's 7948 Dress in Green Cotton Eyelet

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Fun in Green:  A McCall's 7948 Dress in Green Cotton Eyelet

As far as finishing my seams, my machine did not love zigzagging on this fabric, so I sewed a straight stitch in each seam allowance and then pinked the seam allowances.  The dress is in the wash now, so we’ll see if there is much fraying or not.  Even if there is, the straight stitch in the seam allowance will stop it.  I’m not really worried.

Fun in Green:  A McCall's 7948 Dress in Green Cotton Eyelet

When gathering the skirt and arm ruffles, I used a technique I learned from Megan Nielsen, where you do a large zigzag over a piece of string in your seam allowance.  I used baker’s twine.  (You know that cute red and white twine they use to tie up boxes in bakeries?  Lots of people use it for crafts as well.)  Once you have gone all the way around, you cinch up the fabric using the string, pin it in place, pull out the string and go on with your sewing. It’s a lot faster and easier on a fabric like this with ruffles this big than it is to sew two rows of basting stitches and gather them.

Fun in Green:  A McCall's 7948 Dress in Green Cotton Eyelet

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Fun in Green:  A McCall's 7948 Dress in Green Cotton Eyelet

This was a fun dress to sew and not too difficult.  If you can get this pattern on sale, it’s a great deal for a pattern that is very on trend and VERY fun to wear.  I wore this on a walk in the woods with my family and while I’m sure that other people we saw thought I was crazy for wearing a dress on the trails, I felt awesome in it.

Fun in Green:  A McCall's 7948 Dress in Green Cotton Eyelet

This Could Be a Fail…Simplicity 8841 Pants

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This Could Be a Fail…Simplicity 8841 Pants

It’s turned cold here, and I’m hurriedly trying to finish the projects I cut out while it was still warmish.  I just finished the pants in today’s post and a top.  Next up is a jacket.

Simplicity 8841 Pants

What do I say about these pants?  I’m not really sure.  I can’t decide if I like them or if they are a big fail.  I think the truth is probably somewhere in the middle.  The pattern is good, but the alterations I made to it may not have been.

For this project, I decided to try using my measurements to alter the flat pattern before cutting out my pants.  I have a few Big 4 pant or short patterns that I have made multiples of, and each time, I tweak them just a little bit more to get closer and closer to what I want.  I was hoping to skip right to the “what I want” part of things by doing it this way.  If I could just figure out the right shape, I could use it on all future pairs of pants.  Well…I may have adjusted a bit too fiercely.

Pattern and Fabric

My pattern is Simplicity 8841, View C, but with the patch pockets and no belt or belt loops.

Simplicity 8841 Pants

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Simplicity 8841 Pants

I chose to make it in a cotton twill fabric that is probably on the light side of midweight from Joann Fabrics.  This pattern is one for pull on pants, and View C is supposed to be the longer length and have a slim leg.  My measurements put me at a 20 waist and right between a 20 and 22 for my hip.  Since this was a pull on pant (i.e. elastic waist, no zipper or buttons), I got nervous about the hip being too small, and I wanted the pants to be comfortable when I sat, so I made a straight 22.

Flat Pattern Alterations

I used the book Sewing Pants That Fit from the Singer Sewing Reference Library.  I like these books a lot.  The pictures and illustrations are very clear and easy to understand, plus you can easily find these books used for a low price online or in thrift stores.

I measured myself, which is something books always recommend that you do with a sewing buddy if possible, because it’s hard to measure yourself.  Perhaps to my detriment, I tried on my own anyway, taking into account the fact that the pants are supposed to sit an inch below the natural waist.

It seemed like I was going to need more crotch length, with most of that length in the back.

On the front pattern piece I added a small wedge and a little at the thigh to get the right length.

Simplicity 8841 Pants

On the back, I added a wedge and length to the back crotch point.

Simplicity 8841 Pants

First Impressions

My first thoughts when I tried these on was that they felt great, but looked bad.  All that extra fabric is super comfortable, but some of it had to go!

Fitting Changes After Initial Construction

First up, choosing to make a 22 instead of a 20 was overkill.  I should have made the straight 20.  The 22 was definitely too big, even for someone like me who likes a lot of ease.  In the end, I shaved off 1/8″ from the crotch seam and inseams, and 1/4″ off both side seams, and the pants are still a bit too big.

Simplicity 8841 Pants

After that, I took 1″ off the top of the pants, and then 1.75″ more off the front, tapering to nothing at the side seams, because they were just too high-waisted for what they were supposed to be.

Simplicity 8841 Pants

I think I should go back into my flat pattern and remove the wedge adjustment I made to the front.  I was trying to add length however I could, but that wedge adjustment is actually used for a full abdomen, and although my stomach is fuller than it used to be, this doesn’t seem to be the correct adjustment for me.  Even after what I shaved off, it is still too baggy in the front.

Simplicity 8841 Pants

I’d also really like my pants to feel slightly higher in the back than the front.  I don’t know if I’m the only one on that, but it just feels more comfortable to me.

Simplicity 8841 Pants

Conclusions

Rather than achieving my goal of skipping right to the end of fitting, I think I made more problems.  I think I’ve learned a few things:  I shouldn’t do a wedge adjustment in the front, I SHOULD do a wedge adjustment in the back, and adding length at the back crotch point was probably a good idea (not sure if the front crotch point length was helpful or harmful).  Maybe I should have traced off the crotch curves from the Ginger or Morgan jeans, both from Closet Case Patterns.  Those patterns fit me pretty well from the beginning.  Maybe the lesson here is to be a bit more patient with the fitting process and to just keep trying.

Simplicity 8841 Pants

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Simplicity 8841 Pants

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Simplicity 8841 Pants

After all the tweaks I did, I still felt the pants were shorter than I wanted and wider at the bottom.  They don’t look tapered to me.  However, I think I’m done for now.  These just aren’t warm enough for the cold weather.  I think they’ll have to wait until spring to get more wear.  I can always do more evaluation then.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Simplicity 1887 Pants in Crushed Stretch Velvet

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Simplicity 1887 Pants in Crushed Stretch Velvet

Hm…Well, this was an experiment.  I thought about calling this post, “A Lot of Dorky Pictures and some Weird, Weird Pants”, but that got pushed out by a more practical title.  Picture-taking is hard and I had a lot of pretty crazy facial expressions that you’ll have to take my word on.  😀

Simplicity 1887 pants in crushed stretch velvet

I will tell you that the jury is still out on these pants…I just can’t decide how I feel about them.

Over the summer, I made View C of Simplicity 1887, a pair of sparkly linen shorts, which I love.  I have wanted to make the pants ever since I got this pattern.

Simplicity 1887 pants in crushed stretch velvet

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Simplicity 1887 pants in crushed stretch velvet

Despite the fact that I could have made these out of a drapey denim-like chambray living in my stash, I decided to take a chance on something much less practical–crushed stretch velvet.  Because, why not?  I saw the velvet at Joann Fabrics, it was close to Christmas, and I knew I could whip these up pretty quickly if I could find a bit of time.  And then I would have fancy pants for Christmas Eve!  I always want to make something fun for church on Christmas Eve, but I rarely do.

So I bought the velvet (well, technically it’s Stretch Panne Velour Knit Fabric).  It’s a polyester/spandex blend:  90%/10%.  I loved the color and in the winter I’m all about fun textures.

Simplicity 1887 pants in crushed stretch velvet

I finally managed to find a bit of time and I whipped these up.  I’m not the fastest sewist, but when you don’t have to finish any seams (and since this is a knit, you don’t), sewing goes a lot more quickly.  It also helps when you’ve made the pattern in some form before.

Simplicity 1887 pants in crushed stretch velvet

I made one mistake and one change.  My mistake was in not being careful when lining up the front and back waistband.  The side seam edges need to match up so that when you fold the waistband in half to baste the bottom edges together, they will match up easily.  I tried to fudge this, but then I paid for it going forward.  The one small change I made was to use 1 3/8″ wide elastic in the back waistband instead of two lengths of 3/4″ elastic and two casings.  I don’t remember why I did this–probably it was based on what I had on hand, but it turned out ok.

Simplicity 1887 pants in crushed stretch velvet

When I finished these, I just wasn’t sure what to think.  They are so comfortable, although the smooth wrong side of the fabric is a little on the colder side.  Luckily, these pants are pretty roomy, so you can definitely fit some long underwear underneath if necessary.

Simplicity 1887 pants in crushed stretch velvet

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Simplicity 1887 pants in crushed stretch velvet

I finished them before Christmas Eve, so I threw them on with a sweater and blazer for church, but I definitely felt like the ’80’s called and wanted their clothes back.  I didn’t want to make a snap decision, though, so I wore them again with a different top and it was better, but still not quite there.  I really love the soft texture and the color, though, so I’m going to reserve judgement and keep trying these pants.  If I finally decide I don’t love them, they will make some pretty great lounge pants.  The pattern itself is definitely worth trying again in another fabric–a midweight Tencel twill would be great, actually!  The flat front waistband with elastic back, the big pockets, and the relaxed fit are real winners.

Simplicity 1887 pants in crushed stretch velvet

No matter what I end up deciding, I’m really glad I tried making these fun, weird pants.

Simplicity 1887 pants in crushed stretch velvet

Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

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Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

It’s finally time to post this project.  Here is the big takeaway for me:  I love this bag.  I did not love making this bag.

I made the Portside Duffle from Grainline Studio to take on a weekend retreat, and it was perfect for that.  I finished with time to spare, and it was so much fun to have handmade luggage to take along with me.  I really love how it turned out. (I also learned that both “duffle” and “duffel” are correct ways to spell this word, so I’ll go with “duffle” for this post.)

Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

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Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

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Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

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Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

I was inspired in my color choices by this excellent bag on the Skirt As Top blog.  Mine is a little different, but the influence is pretty clear.  Her version is great!

The process of making it presented a number of challenges, however.

Materials

The first challenge for me was my inexperience with bag-making.  I decided to only make the duffle, as I was under a deadline, but because I’ve made so few bags, I was really stuck on how to choose things like interfacing and my zipper.  You know how it is when you are just starting out–you really need things spelled out.  I know how to shorten a zipper on a pair of pants or a skirt, but what if you can’t find the exact zipper length for a bag?  And do you need a separating or non-separating zipper?  Does it even matter?

As it turned out, the length specified (21 inches) is very hard to find.  What I did find out is that when you run into this situation, you can buy a longer zipper and shorten it, and a separating zipper is just fine (I’m pretty sure you can use separating or non-separating).  This may seem obvious, but it was something I didn’t know and had to learn.  Luckily I had a longer zipper in my stash, so I was able to use that.

Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

The other area that confused me was the interfacing.  I looked around online for ideas, but it was all so overwhelming!  I had no idea there were so many kinds of interfacing (and stabilizer!) or so many things you could do with the interfacing.  You can even combine interfacings!  Here is what I ended up using:  for the bottom, I bought 2/3 of a yard of 20″ wide Pellon Peltex 71F Single-Sided Fusible Ultra Firm Stabilizer.  (The bottom pattern piece of this bag is 21 5/8″ x 12 3/8″.) For the sides/top of the bag I used Pellon 809 Decor Bond (Firm Iron-on Backing with Extra Crispness).  My bottom fabric (the gold) was heavier than my top fabric (the off-white), so I used one layer of interfacing on both, but also added a layer of quilting-weight fabric to the top portion, like the way you might underline a garment.  I did not interface the striped pocket on the outside or my lining fabric.  I bought all my interfacing and stabilizer at JoAnn Fabrics.

Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

In case you also struggle with the interfacing/stabilizer question, I found some helpful information in this article on sew4home.com:  “Top Interfacing Solutions For Bags and Totes:  Fabric Depot“, as well as this one from Sew Sweetness: “All About Bag Interfacing“.  Sew Sweetness had a lot of good information for bag-makers of all experience levels.

Cost-Saving Strategies

The other area that I struggled with was the overall cost of this project.  I tend to have a pretty limited budget, so cost is always a factor.  When I started to realize how much the pattern, fabric, and hardware could cost, I decided to get creative and see where I could save money.  Here is what I did.

I decided to make my own straps all with a width of 1.5″, rather than some at 1.25″ and some at 1.5″.  This would also allow me to use the 1.5″ D-rings I had in my stash rather than buying 1.25″ D-rings which I didn’t have (and which were harder to find).  There were two books that I found really helpful as I dug into the details of this project.  The first was On-the-Go-Bags by Lindsay Conner and Janelle MacKay, which helped me see that I actually could make my own straps (something I didn’t know as a newbie to bag-making).  The other book, which was the most helpful, was The Better Bag Maker by Nicole Mallalieu, which was filled with all sorts of helpful information.  If you sewed through this book, you would come out the other side with a lot of bag-making knowledge and skills.

I also realized that since I had so many D-rings (I have no idea why I have so many!), I could use those instead of the swivel bolt snaps/hooks the pattern called for, and join them with a carabiner since we had a few little carabiners in the house.  I didn’t end up making the leather zipper pulls.  I was kind of hoping I would find something in the jewelry section of the craft store to go with my lining, but I didn’t find anything I liked, so I skipped it.

The next thing to consider was fabric.  In case you are wondering, Fabric A on the pattern is your lower fabric and Fabric B is your upper fabric.

Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

The off-white and striped fabrics came from my stash, and I ordered the gold bottom fabric from Fabric Mart when it was on sale (love that store!).  I think that 2/3 of a yard of 54″ or 57″ fabric for the bottom (Fabric A) would have been enough, although if you use a print, you may want more so that you can position it just how you want it.  The pattern calls for 1.25 yards of 54″ wide fabric.  This amount of fabric turned out to be helpful in making my straps, so I’m glad I had extra for that (I probably ordered 1.5 yards).

I also used a quilting cotton from my stash (with octopi!) for the lining, which saved me money.  I had been looking for just the right thing to use this fabric on and now I have both octopus pants and a bag with a surprise lining!  (This fabric, by Cotton + Steel, and my pattern came from Pintuck & Purl.)

Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

Construction

I’m going to share some technical details in this section, so feel free to skip it if that isn’t helpful to you.

***One important note:  I think there may be an error on pattern piece #4 (the side, bottom piece).  I would think that where it says “strap placement”, it would line up with the strap on the piece above it, but as printed, it looks like that text is on the bottom of the piece…where no strap is supposed to go.  I decided to ignore the strap placement marking and assumed that was the bottom of the piece (so that the words are right side up as printed).

Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

Also, you can skip the part in the directions about choosing your size.  This duffle only comes in one size.

In Steps 6 and 8, I used Steam-A-Seam 2, 1/4″ (double stick fusible tape) to hold things in place before sewing them down.  This wasn’t perfect because the bond was pretty light, but it was still helpful.

In Step 11, I used a zipper foot to sew the zipper in.

For Step 12, I found this blog post from Handmade By Carolyn very helpful.  She suggests leaving the last half-inch at the bottom of your sides and end panels unsewn to help with attaching the bottoms.  Press your seams toward the end panels after sewing.

In Step 13, sew the long sides first and then the short sides.

Before beginning Step 14, I think you should flip the bag so right sides are out (at least that is what I did).  The tip in the instructions about using your machine’s free arm is helpful here.  Even with that, though, this step is hard if you have heavy interfacing in the bag!  What worked for me was to sew a side, backstitch, cut the threads, and then move on to the next side.

For Step 16, as in Step 12, do not sew the bottom 1/2″ of each seam so it will be easier to attach to the bottom in the next step.

I did not do Step 18 as written.  Instead, I used Steam-A-Seam 2, 1/4″ to baste the lining to the zipper and used Wonder Clips to help hold it because the Steam-A-Seam isn’t very strong (something different would have been better, I think).  Then I basted outer fabric, zipper, and lining togewith my machine, with the lining up.  I just sort of tacked the ends because my machine didn’t love sewing over the zipper.  Then I sewed the long sides with a zipper foot and the bag’s outside facing up (in other words, I topstitched).  I tried to sew over the zipper ends, which was somewhat successful, so I also hand-tacked the lining to the zipper tape by the zipper ends.  Use a thimble for this!

In Step 19, I wasn’t able to fold the raw edges under, since the straps I had made were so thick.  I used Fray Check on both ends and then zigzagged over them before stitching them down as in the directions.  It’s not as professional as I would like, but it should work.

Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

In Step 20, I think it should say “tops of the rings” rather than “top of the top ring” in the second sentence.

Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

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Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

At this point, I used more D-rings rather than swivel clips.  I attached the D-rings to each other with mini carabiners.

Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

After Step 20, I tried to tack the lining to the bag by sewing two parallel lines across the width of the bag on the bottom and by sewing for an inch or two on top of one of my stitching lines on each strap.  The lining doesn’t look smooth inside, but at least it won’t billow out now.

Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

I didn’t do Step 21, even though I think the leather zipper pulls are a nice touch.

Random Issue

One thing that happened that was unrelated to the pattern was that when I used my yellow Chaco Liner on the off-white part of my bag, it didn’t wash off afterward (I ran it through the washer and dryer).  I saw this once before when I was at a jeans workshop and someone used yellow Chaco Liner on white denim, and it also didn’t brush off.  Normally I don’t have any problems with the yellow, and it doesn’t bother me too much in this case, but it’s something to be aware of.  (You can faintly see it in the picture below.  It’s faint, but it’s there.)

Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

So, there you go!  I hope this is helpful to someone out there.  I know I spent a lot of time hunting down blog posts about this pattern and searching the web for information and materials.  Hopefully this will save someone some time should you decide to go for it and make this bag.

Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

Recommendations

This week’s recommendations are all bag-related!

Do you have any favorite bag patterns?  I still enjoy sewing clothing the most, but I’m opening up to the idea of sewing a bag here and there.

The Hannah Dress by Victory Patterns

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The Hannah Dress by Victory Patterns

It’s not often that a dress pattern comes along that is fascinating and mysterious.  That’s not to say that you see a line drawing of a pattern and automatically picture every step just because you know how to sew, but you often know the general process of putting a garment together as well as what the pattern pieces might look like once you have been sewing for awhile.  So when something puzzling comes along, it’s kind of fun.

I’ve been sewing long enough now (and taking in massive amounts of sewing information through the magic of the interwebs) that a lot of patterns look similar to others that I’ve seen.  It takes a lot more for a pattern to surprise me, but that is just what happened when I saw Heather Lewenza’s Hannah dress from Victory Patterns.

Hannah Dress by Victory Patterns in Rayon Challis

Link to the pattern here.

Hannah Dress by Victory Patterns in Rayon Challis

Heather made her dress from crisp cotton so you could really see the interesting back crossover that wraps around the sides of the dress to end in the pockets.  I had never seen a dress like that.

As I researched it online to see what other sewers thought of the pattern, I read over and over again that the pattern pieces were different from any they had ever seen, and that it was fun and intriguing to sew.  I tried to resist the aura of coolness that this pattern exuded, and for awhile I was successful.  It only came in PDF, which is usually enough to make me pass on a pattern, but in the end, I bought it.  I had to try this for myself.

Hannah Dress by Victory Patterns in Rayon Challis

I deliberated over fabric choice for awhile, but finally decided to go with rayon challis for its fluid drape.  Another plus was that I had two coordinating rayons already in my stash–a black one from Field’s Fabrics in Kalamazoo, MI, and a grayscale watercolor rayon from Pintuck & Purl in Exeter, NH.  I had been saving that last one for just the right project, and I had finally found it.

Hannah Dress by Victory Patterns in Rayon Challis

Once I was ready to get started, I decided to make a straight size 12, which meant sizing up on the bust.  A number of reviews I read said that the bust ran a bit small, so I sized up, which also meant I didn’t drive myself crazy trying to figure out how to grade between sizes.  This isn’t a pattern you want to try to blend sizes on or adjust beyond lengthening or shortening.  The pattern pieces are just too different.

Hannah Dress by Victory Patterns in Rayon Challis

As soon as I began, I questioned my fabric choice.  You do a lot of stay-stitching initially, and mine puckered my fabric.  I immediately switched to a microtex needle and my walking foot, and hoped for the best.  The directions are so precise, which is great, but because of my inexperience working with rayon challis, I found that I was often stressed out, worrying that the dress wouldn’t turn out.  In the end, it did turn out just fine, but it has a lot of puckers that it shouldn’t have.  So, the rayon was good and bad.

Hannah Dress by Victory Patterns in Rayon Challis

My overall takeaways are that (pro) I now have more experience working with rayon challis and the black hides most of the puckers, but (con) the dress isn’t as well-made as I would have liked.  I think if I made this again, I would make it in something more stable, which would admittedly make the silhouette more A-line, but would also be more enjoyable to sew.  The other thing that I am beginning to think after sewing four garments from rayon this year (not all blogged) is that with the exception of the Cotton + Steel rayon, it doesn’t feel durable.  It’s comfortable and presses well, but something about it makes me think it won’t last as long as garments I’ve made from other fabrics.  We’ll see if that proves to be true or not.  So far I think I like silk crepe de chine better.

Hannah Dress by Victory Patterns in Rayon Challis

But, despite my learning curve with rayon, this dress did get finished and has been worn.  And I love it.  It’s so cool!  I would certainly make it again and would recommend it to intermediate sewers.  I’m so glad I took the plunge and bought the pattern.  I’m also hugely impressed that someone’s brain could come up with this.  I wish I had taken pictures of the unique pattern pieces as I sewed, but I didn’t.  😦

Hannah Dress by Victory Patterns in Rayon Challis

So that’s one more down on my 2017 Summer Sewing list.  The autumnal equinox is today, but I managed to get my last summer garment finished on Wednesday.  It might take a little while for everything to show up on the blog, but it’s all done and now I’m setting my sights on sewing some fun things for autumn.  What about you?  Do you have any autumnal projects planned (or spring for those of you in the southern hemisphere)?  I love planning projects.  Other than completing projects, planning them is my favorite part.  🙂

Recommendations

  • If you are local to the Seacoast of NH, there’s going to be a storewide sale at Pintuck & Purl in Exeter, NH on Saturday (the 23rd of Sept.).  It should be a good time!  9 am – 4 pm.
  • Here’s another one for you if you are local to the Seacoast of NH.  If you, like me, use Big 4 patterns (Simplicity, Butterick, McCall’s, Vogue as well as Burda Style, New Look, and Kwik Sew), the Seabrook, NH Joann’s Fabric is the place you should go.  It’s in a sad, empty strip mall, and the store isn’t big, but it’s calm and extremely well-organized.  They are rarely missing a pattern, and every drawer is so nice and neat.
  • For those of us near eastern Massachusetts, north of Boston, Marie’s Sewing Center in Woburn, MA is having a machine sale Sept. 29-Oct. 1.  “Purchase a new sewing machine or serger in stock at MSRP & get a sewing machine or serger of equal or lesser value for ONE CENT!”  This would be a good event to partner with a friend on, so you can both get what you want for less!
  • This video by Candide Thovex is like watching skiing parkour.  As it goes along, it gets less and less believable, but it’s fun to watch!

 

Vintage Butterick 3731 Dress in Blue Rayon Challis

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Vintage Butterick 3731 Dress in Blue Rayon Challis

This summer we attended two weddings, which seemed like a great reason to challenge myself to sew a few dresses.  I’ve never been much of a dress-wearer, but I’d like to find a style or two that I like for summer, and wear dresses more.  My original plans involved making a fit-and-flare dress for the first wedding and Butterick 3731 for the second, but creative plans often change.  I don’t know what it is, but so far, after trying two different patterns, the fit-and-flare, darted-bodice dress style eludes me.  There must be some fitting knowledge that I’m missing.  So, after a hearty (but failed) attempt, I put that style aside and got to work on Butterick 3731.

Vintage Butterick 3731

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Vintage Butterick 3731

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Vintage Butterick 3731

This pattern is probably only my second vintage pattern that I’ve worked from.  On one of my trips to the Brimfield Antique Show I found this pattern, which was in my bust size…but was missing instructions.  The antique dealer gave it to me for free since it only had the pattern pieces.  I posted about it online, and crossed my fingers hoping that someone in the sewing community would have it and could send me directions.  And a wonderful lady named Sara did.  Isn’t the sewing community great that way?  Thanks again, Sara!

Vintage Butterick 3731

My original intention was to make the maxi dress.  I graded the waist and hips out to fit my measurements and made a muslin (which was a good idea, because I found a few little problems I needed to fix).  Then I bought some rayon challis from Joann Fabrics at a great price.  The fabric is one designed by Gretchen Hirsch for Joann’s, which I was excited to try.  I laid it all out, only to realize that in grading the waist and hips up, I hadn’t considered the sweep of the skirt.  It was too wide and I didn’t have quite enough fabric.  I could have made the skirt more narrow, but even so, I was somehow still short on fabric, so I decided that this dress would have to be the shorter version.

Vintage Butterick 3731

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Vintage Butterick 3731

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Vintage Butterick 3731

This pattern was so easy to make and fit!  It was great to have a project that wasn’t overly hard to fit!  That being said, however, there were little parts where notches didn’t align or seams needed to be finished beyond what the directions instructed.  I made sure to use French seams or clean-finished seams so the insides would look relatively nice.  My goal wasn’t perfection, just a dress that was well-made and that I felt comfortable in.  And I do feel comfortable in this dress.  I’ll admit that the picture of how I look in my head isn’t exactly how I look in real life, but I still love the dress.

Vintage Butterick 3731

The flowy fabric turned out to be a good choice as well.  It’s soft, yet cool. I will say, however, that having used both the rayon challis from Cotton + Steel on a shirt for my mom as well as this rayon challis from Joann’s, there is a marked difference.  I don’t have full confidence that the fabric in this dress will stand up to wear and tear, whereas the Cotton + Steel rayon feels really durable.  Cotton + Steel rayon is also far, far more expensive, so you have to weigh your priorities.  This was the right fabric for this dress at the right price point.  I’d still really love to make the maxi version, but that will also have to wait for the right fabric at the right price point…that maxi will take a lot of fabric!

Vintage Butterick 3731

If anyone is thinking of trying this pattern (and it seems like there are a number of copies out there on Etsy and other sites), I would recommend it.  It’s comfortable, easy to fit, and great in a drapey fabric.  Despite a few little oddities in the directions (a few notches that didn’t match up and a facing that ran a little short), the directions and pattern pieces are good overall.  It also feels current as the ’70’s return yet again.  😉  I’d love to try this in a soft linen.

Vintage Butterick 3731

Recommendations

  • Siobhan of the blog Just Keep Sewing made one of my favorite versions of the Victory Patterns Hannah dress, which is on my 2017 Summer Sewing list.
  • If you love 1970’s fashion, you might want to check out the #70sfashioncult hashtag on Instagram.  It’s full of patterns and ’70’s clothes.  You could even add your own retro creations or ’70’s patterns!
  • Do you live in the Midwest of the USA?  If you do, and you have a Meijer near you (which is like a Midwestern Target), try their Michigan Cherry coffee.  It’s one of my favorites!  Several of my friends in New England have also grown to love it since I have wonderful in-laws and parents who are willing to ship it to me.  😉
  • Since knowledge is power, let me help you with your bowling game.  After watching this, I want to ask my local bowling alley if they oil their lanes with ‘The Badger’ or ‘The Cheetah’ or a house pattern.  They’ll probably think I’m super cool if I do that.  Right? 😉  Check it out:  The hidden oil patterns on bowling lanes.