Summer Sewing

We’ve had a span of some really great weather in Seattle lately, so I’ve started thinking about doing some sewing for my summer wardrobe (after having babies, none of my clothes fit!  I’m kind of back to square one with my wardrobe!).

So, it was fortuitous when Adrianna of Hey June Patterns asked if I would test her Santa Fe top pattern, which is the perfect casual summer wardrobe staple.

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It’s a loose drapey top, which looks best with very light knit fabrics.  I made two versions.  This one is view e, with contrasting panels inset on the sides.

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I used some knit fabrics I had in my stash (the stripes were a Girl Charlee KnitFix fabric and the purple is a mystery knit that has been in my stash so long I have no idea where it came from…).

I skipped the hemming so as to leave it as light and flowy at the bottom as possible.

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I also made view a, skipping the center seams so as not to interfere with the floral pattern on the fabric.  This was also fabric from my stash, made with a Girl Charlee KnitFix fabric from ages ago.

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I hemmed this one because it wasn’t as drapey and I didn’t think the hem would interfere with the flow (and it really didn’t – as this fabric wasn’t super flowy to begin with).

While the straps are narrower on view a, Adrianna did a great job of making sure that they were still wide enough to cover bra straps.

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After having tried two different types of fabrics with this pattern, I have to say that I think the lighter, drapier fabric has a better overall fit and looks nicer.  But both tops will definitely get worn a lot this summer.

Of course, now the weather is back to crummy Seattle weather, but I’m sure the sun will come back soon…  and, in the meantime, this weather is perfect for all of the vegetables I planted in my garden over the last couple of weeks…

My new favorite dress pattern (Hey June Charleston)

I was flattered when Adrianna from Hey June Handmade asked me if I would test her upcoming Charleston Dress.  A knit dress with two skirts and seven (7!!!) sleeve options?!  How could I refuse?

I went in with pretty high expectations, thinking that the dress sounded pretty awesome.  And it did not disappoint!

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I made view a, sleeveless, in a size large.  I used a 1.5 inch hem, just because I’m short and I wanted a shorter skirt.

The fabric I used was a ponte from Pacific Fabrics. I need opinions on this fabric – I bought it thinking it was an animal print, but my husband thinks it’s camo.  Thoughts?

The directions, as per the usual with Adrianna’s patterns, made this an extremely easy to put together dress.  And quick!  I made this in one evening, taking my time and going very slowly to ensure that everything fit perfectly as I went.

Even the zipper was easy and quick!  And, while I don’t actually need the zipper, I love the design element – it makes for a more interesting back, which is fun.  Some of the other testers put in a colorful zipper and I love the way it pops!

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I will admit, I was pretty nervous putting a zipper in a knit dress.  I tried to put a zipper in a knit cardigan once, years ago, when I had less experience sewing with knits, and it was disastrous.  I hadn’t tried since, fearing that my fabric would get all stretched out and look terrible.  But it didn’t!

It helped that, this time, I used a more stable knit and a walking foot (love my built-in IDT on my Pfaff!), but there was no wonkiness at all.  The fit was great without any modifications, and I feel like it covers up my post-twins-baby-belly really well.  Overall, I’m really pleased with this dress.

I have my next version planned – a view b in a stretch lace that I’ve had for a couple of years, just waiting for the right project.  I think this is it!

Catherine Coat

Another pattern I recently tested, by the same designer as my last make – Grammies Dolls, was the Catherine Coat.

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It’s a fully-lined coat with a princess-seamed bodice and skirt with box pleats.  I haven’t made much outerwear (just a couple of coats), so this was a really fun pattern to test.  I made the coat entirely out of fabrics I had in my stash, so it was essentially free!

The pattern is designed to have button closures and an optional sash, but I left both off because I liked how it looked open.  I think I’ll have to go back and add in some sort of closure, though, to ward off the wind!

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The designer also added in a detachable hood (though I didn’t get a chance to test that).  I think I may have to add that to this coat as well to make the coat even more useful.

I’ve worn this coat a number of times since I made it, and I feel so chic in it!

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I especially like the fullness of the skirt – it’s fun and flippy. (And a very different silhouette than my normal silhouette.)

This coat was easy to fit – because it has a full lining, I just put that together, adjusted it to make it fit just right (had to take in the bodice a bit to fit me), and then made those same adjustments to the fabric pieces.  The only changes I made, aside from fitting the bodice a bit, were shortening the skirt a little and top stitching around the entire coat (my fabric frayed really badly, plus it was really thick so it didn’t press well – the top stitching served the double purpose of securing the seams a bit more and making them lie flat).  I left off the optional cuffs.

This pattern convinced me that I need to make more outerwear pieces!

Penelope Pencil Skirt

I’ve been doing a lot of pattern testing lately, which has been a lot of fun (albeit a little stressful to keep up with these deadlines plus work deadlines…).  It’s so nice to get to see patterns as they go through the final revisions and get ready to be listed for sale.   One pattern designer I’ve been fortunate enough to test for recently is Grammies Dolls, which is a new-to-me designer.  She has primarily designed clothing patterns for little girls, but is branching out into designs for women (and I believe she plans on making some designs for boys in the future, too).

Her first pattern to be released for women is the Penelope Pencil Skirt, which is a fully-lined, knee-length pencil skirt with kick pleat.

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I would say this is an intermediate-level pattern, as it requires installation of a zipper plus the kick pleat.  I had never done a kick pleat before, but the new instructions for that make that technique pretty doable, I think.  I made a medium (size 8-10) based on waist measurements.  I had to take in the hips a bit, though, as my hips are a size smaller (the pattern has since been adjusted, though, so keep that in mind).

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I love the finished product.  It will be perfect for work.

But I have a confession : this is now a lining-less skirt.  I have a rather ridiculous fabric stash at the moment, so I’m trying to just use fabrics I have without buying anything new.  I had this linen blend for the outer fabric, which has some silver sparkle to it (though you can’t really see that from the pictures) and thought it would be perfect for the skirt.  For the lining, though, I used this golden colored lining material which I bought about a million years ago (when I had very little knowledge about what the heck I was doing with a sewing machine).  And I hated it.  The lining was just awful.  Not the pattern – that was just fine.  It was the quality of the material.  Yuck.  So, instead of having an item where I would hate the lining, I simply removed it.  It’s now a lining-less skirt, which I think works perfectly over leggings, or a slip, if need be.  Now you know – this skirt can be made without a lining if you prefer!

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And look!  My photo is the cover photo of the pattern!  How exciting.  That’s definitely a first for me.  🙂

The pattern is available here, and, until Monday at midnight, you can get it 20% off by using the code “newlisting” (without the quotation marks).

I can’t wait until you see the next pattern being released by Grammies Dolls (which I also tested).  It’s already become a staple in my closet!