Friday, October 24, 2014

October's "Fire Opal" Dress

I've fallen behind in my "Make A Garment A Month" projects -- August and September have both disappeared with their respective makes still sitting in pieces on the "to do" pile...

But I jumped back in this month, with Sarah Liz's wonderful October theme, Opal. I love opals, and since they're my birthstone I can wear them without incurring any bad luck :) I have a beautiful sweater knit that I wanted to use for this month, as it's all blue and shiny white and opal-like...but instead, I couldn't resist making this new Vogue pattern from a red ponte knit that I've had in the stash  for a while.

So I'm calling it October's Fire Opal dress!

I used Vogue 9022, a pattern that I ordered pretty quickly after it was released. I like the relaxed feel of it, and the cute pockets. I thought it would be a great work dress.
Vogue Patterns Misses' Dress 9022

Once again, without even consciously realizing it, I've made a copy of the pattern cover. My dress is a similar solid red, although I could definitely see this one in a colour-blocked version. It also states that this can be made knit or woven; since I chose a knit, I left out the walking vent in the back as well as the keyhole opening at the back neck. Just stitched up that centre seam top to bottom -- I left in the seam, however, to assist with some shaping.

Back view -- what was I doing? No idea

The making of it was easy. It's just basic straight seams, no set in sleeves, and some hems & facing. I did add in an extra inch to each side below the waist by grading out, since my pattern was a medium -- and while I'm generally medium on top, I'm large on bottom. 

The only unusual bit is the pocket construction. The side panel is in two lengths, and you stitch together the bottom seam of the pocket and then fold that length over to form the pocket. Despite there being "fold lines" marked, I would strongly suggest that after folding these pieces you carefully measure both side panels to be sure that they are even -- you don't want to have to unpick one side after sewing everything and readjust it. Don't ask me how I know that.

Red dress outside on a beautiful fall day

There is no stitching to hold down the tops of the pockets -- I suppose you could top stitch them before continuing with construction if you wanted that look. As is, it is a loose, soft look that I quite like. 

Overall I am pleased with this dress. The knit has enough weight that it doesn't cling, and the lines of the pocket seam and of the neck facing don't show through. I was going to switch the neck facing to a simple turned under neckline hem, but decided against it as I wanted a clean finish, and was worried about puckering at the neckline if I just stitched it down. You could probably also finish it with a neck binding if you preferred.

Feels good to be getting back into some fall sewing with this bright and comfortable dress.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Hand Stitchery 101

Hello, I'm back! What's the reason for such a gap in my blogging? Well, boring stuff like being really busy at work etc.... but also some new projects.

One of the reasons I haven't been sewing much or posting much here is that I've been bitten by a new crafty bug -- embroidery. This is what I've been up to in my evenings over the past while.

I saw a class on Craftsy -- Design It, Stitch It: Hand Embroidery with Jessica Marquez. (highly recommended -- and on sale now!) This reminded me that I'd always been interested in hand embroidery, and I was in the mood to learn something new. So I signed up and off I went, fitting in my lessons and practice in the odd minutes between work and meetings and so on. I've only got one or two more stitches to practice before I've worked my way through this really excellent class, then I'll have to branch out and try putting them together into a design. Here's a batch of stitches from the first couple of lessons -- very first try so the fabric was pulled a bit, and I realized I needed more practice, but still very enjoyable.

Then the next couple of lessons, with looped stitches and some knotted stitches too

And then the crossed and fill stitches (I love the herringbone most). The two leaf stitches are sitting right above a curvy satin stitch which looks amusingly face-like. I still have to add in my long & short stitches along that curvy shape as well. But I couldn't resist testing out a different thread in the big open space, and freehanded a labyrinth out of pink variegated crochet thread. I quite like it. (if you like labyrinths you can also buy a set of labyrinth embroidery patterns from Sublime Stitching -- I've drawn them so often that I just freehanded this little sample)

So lots of stitching going on over here, and I'm having fun learning something new. Do you like embroidery? Do you have any great sources to share? I recently made the Zsalya dress by Kate and Rose, and their company also sells pretty Hungarian embroidery designs too. Are there any other pattern companies that include embroidery?

But it's just about time for me to finish up a couple of the dresses patiently awaiting my attention on the sewing table, so hopefully the next post or two will have some finished sewing to show you, too!