Archives for posts with tag: simplicity

Yo! I can’t believe it’s been more than 2 months since I posted anything here. But I’m alive and well. I’ve just been traveling a lot (was gone two weeks in May, and pretty much the entire month of June… will hopefully find some time to blog about that later).

I tried to get back into the crafting groove this weekend by sewing myself a new dress, one I’ve had in the queue for a long time. I always totally covet Wikstenmade’s clothes (though probably more because of the ethereally beautiful photography than any particularly strong fit with my own personal style) and she posted this cutout sleeve ikat top a while ago that set me foolishly yearning for a “cold shoulder” garment. (Side note: I found this other cutout sleeve dress just now… does it not totally scream “My biological clock is ticking!” in the voice of Marisa Tomei?)

Here it is: I’m calling it That 70’s Dress mainly for the shag-carpet-tastic orange hue, but these belted sack dresses were big in the days of disco too, weren’t they? Please excuse the wrinkled fabric across the skirt in all these photos–I had sat in chairs in this dress all day and didn’t feel like taking it off to iron it.

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Pattern: Simplicity 2406, a Cynthia Rowley pattern (see here for original), view B (knee-length, cutout shoulders, open back)

Size: a straight 12, although I probably should have tapered it out to 14 for the hips–it’s more snug in the hips than I would like when I sit down. I have to hike it up pretty high to get on my bike, there’s not a lot of ease.

Fabric used: Orange cotton/poly shirting blend–very thin fabric. I would recommend using a very fine, drapey fabric; even though this one was pretty lightweight, the sleeves still wound up very stiff because of all the facing seams.

I had a few close calls while sewing because I only barely had enough yardage. I thought I had more than enough, but forgot I would have to cut out not 2 but 4 copies of the sleeves, one pair for the sleeve and also one pair for the facings; also, I accidentally set my iron too hot at first, so I melted the interfacing and a few corners of the sleeve facings. I can’t remember how much of this fabric I had to start with, unfortunately, so I can’t tell you how accurate the pattern’s yardage requirements are.

Pattern notes/mods:

I sewed this without any closures and omitted the back slit so I could wear a bra (and sew fewer seams)–I didn’t alter the back at all, just cut it on the fold and did not cut out the back slit facing piece. I can slip it on over my head. I forgot to cut the back neck facing on the fold, so I just finished the vertical edges with a zigzag and tacked it down in two pieces. This would have definitely wound up too tight for comfort in the hips if I had added the back seam or slit as instructed, since I essentially added 1 1/4″ additional ease by cutting the back on the fold without modifying the pattern.

I think I also hemmed it a little less than the pattern calls for, but I didn’t measure exactly, just did it by eye.
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The instructions were a little puzzling. I didn’t understand the directions for the pockets, and didn’t have the patience to figure them out, so I just ignored them and put in in-seam pockets the normal way (sew them to the dress front and back, side seam goes around the pocket edges). I also thought at first that I was following the confusing sleeve directions pretty well, but once I set in the sleeves, I realized that I had wound up with sleeves with a neatly finished slit-like opening at the bottom instead of the normal tube-shaped sleeves.

If you sew this, note that you’ll probably need a loop turner to turn the sleeves inside out after the first set of facing seams; you have to get a lot of fabric through a very, very tight space.

Also, note that the front gathers are between the dots, in the middle of the dress, while the back gathers are OUTSIDE the dots, in the shoulder area. I accidentally sewed the gathering stitches in the middle of the back at first and couldn’t figure out how my pieces were supposed to fit together.

The sleeve sizing seems pretty generous; they’re loose on me, and I have pretty meaty shoulders and biceps. I think women with thin arms would probably want to take the sleeves in a bit. Also, the sleeves are quite stiff because there are a lot of seams in not a lot of space–the pattern photo shows this but I was still a little surprised at how much the sleeves stuck out from the body of the dress.
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The sash is a little short for my taste. It’s long enough to wrap around once and tie in a short bow, or to wrap in a double loop and tie in a double knot, as shown in my photos. If I were making this again, I might want a longer sash so I could tie a more lavish bow.

Verdict: I like it! Cool. Comfy. Orange. I might consider sewing this again in a different fabric, maybe a different view, like View C with the 3/4 length balloon sleeves.

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P.S. I know you can’t really see it in the photos, but I love all the jewelry I’m wearing. Gold necklace made from a real oak leaf, a hand-me-down from my mom; gold ring set with a teardrop-shaped, cloudy chartreuse prehnite; Monarch butterfly wing earrings. I got the ring cheap with a Heartsy voucher–do you know about Heartsy? It’s like Groupon but for handmade items from stores like Etsy and Artfire.

Bolstered by the success of my first Infinity Dress, I have gone on a huge sewing and fabric-buying rampage lately. (Apologies in advance for the quality of the photos in this post. They almost all came out very bright and overexposed. Just pretend it’s a halo of heavenly light and I am about to ascend into a hovering spacecraft, and you are an exclusive witness to this special moment.)

First, Rahul and I biked out to Wal-Mart the other day–a harrowing 4.5 mile ride along narrow, busy roads, on the west side of town, across a freeway. My bike nearly fell in a ditch and when I corrected to stay out of it, I nearly got hit by a truck. It was scary. But my reward was 4 yards of 1×1 ribbed black knit fabric for only $1 a yard. I went home and made another Infinity Dress, and then made a drape neck top with the leftovers. Because my fabric was only 45 inches wide, I made a gathered skirt instead of a circle skirt, so this one has a slimmer silhouette.

I also accidentally sewed the band on top of the straps instead of underneath, but I think it’s still OK.

Here’s the drape neck top. It is sewn together rather poorly. The rib knit was much stretchier than the jersey, so I ended up with a lot of lettuce edges where there shouldn’t have been any. The pattern is Simplicity New Look 6470, View B.

Here’s the new dress.

“Oh my god, that looks SO WEIRD,” said Rahul this morning, as I was going out to water my basil plants on the balcony, and took this picture of the back of the dress to demonstrate how weird it was that my dress had no back. I thought it looked fine, but the sleeves fell off when I was bent over my plants, so I retied it to cross over in the back.



Because the skirt has a pretty slim silhouette, I just wore it underneath my next two FOs instead of changing into a new top.

These are both made with quilting cotton I bought a while back at Shiisa Quilts, from their $4.99 bed sale.

This one is made with a dark purple fabric printed with white dragonflies. I made it into a circle skirt with ties and a zipper at the waist. Because I only had about a yard of 45″ fabric, it came out shorter than I would have liked and the overall silhouette is a little bit 80’s. A learning experience. I should have stuck with a plain A-line wrap skirt like I had originally planned.

This one I’m very proud of. The fabric is a Rowan/Westminster Martha Negley cotton, dark red, striped with tree trunks. I drafted my own pattern according to the A-line skirt, fitted waist directions in Sew What! Skirts, an excellent book for the beginning skirt-sewer like myself–highly recommended. I went on to cut the pieces on the bias to make chevron stripes, put in side pockets (these need some work–for some reason, I cut them so the pockets don’t really dip down, just go straight in, so I can’t put anything in them, though I can use them to warm my hands) and installed what I think is an invisible zipper in the back. I just need to put in some snaps to secure the waistband.


After all that, I went to Jo-Ann and back to Shiisa Quilts, where they’ve dropped the price of the bed sale fabrics to $3.99 a yard and are having a buy one yard, get one yard free offer through today, so I scored a bunch of nice fabric for just $2 a yard.

Here’s some of what I got:

Cloud fabric (not on sale, but I loved it. This is Moda fabric, named, puzzlingly, “Bears just wanna have fun”)

Gray fabric with chartreuse hydrangeas, Kaffe Fassett Lille Arbour. I loved this fabric last time I was in the store, but Rahul prevented me from buying it with his protestations of how hideous it was. So I went back without him and bought several yards of it for half price. I think I might make the Anna Dress with it.

Some other stuff: from Shiisa, some blue Rowan Martha Negley fabric with green plums, some blue striped fabric, the aforementioned Kaffe Fassett fabric, and blue fabric with delicate geometric traceries–this is Free Spirit Mendhi Lotus, and is much drapier and silkier than the other fabrics. I haven’t decided what to do with any of this yet, though the default is “knee-length skirt.”

The linen print with brown embroidered flowers is from Jo-Ann (was also on sale) and is destined for another simple A-line skirt.

This is my new favorite summer dress. It was so fast and easy it hardly counts as an FO, since it’s essentially putting together a kit. I saw the fabric on sale at Jo-Ann and bought it on impulse: they sell a big roll of cotton gauze pre-smocked with elastic thread, and you just buy a piece a couple of inches larger than your bust size, sew a tube, add straps as desired, and hem it. I made nice wide straps to cover up bra straps and this dress fits perfectly, aside from the fact that I didn’t pre-shrink my fabric so I ended up with a dress an inch or two shorter than what I had wanted.

Edited to add, since I had some comments about this: if you’re in the US and don’t have a Jo-Ann Fabrics nearby, it looks like you can get pre-smocked fabric online via Hancock Fabrics. I couldn’t find this specific fabric on the Jo-Ann website, but when I was in the store they also had the same stuff in pink and green, and some tropical Hawaiian-looking smocked fabrics.

I also have some brown jersey (not shown) for yet another Infinity Dress and another try at that drape-neck top. All I can say is that it’s a good thing sewing is so much faster than knitting.

Speaking of which, here is the current progress on the Loquat Shawl:


Apparently, as maid of honor, I’m going to have to make a toast at this wedding, which fills me with a deep sense of terror and anxiety (I would rather eat bugs than do any kind of public speaking). If only they were traditionalists and left all the public speaking to the best man and all the fussy lady’s maid duties to the maid of honor. I’m sure I can carry bobby pins and straighten hairdos like nobody’s business.

I must soothe myself with admiring my newest yarn acquisition, the first shipment of the Sundara Seasons club, June 2008, the Autumn season. This is Sundara Sock yarn in Arabian Nights, a rich, warm brown shot through with henna highlights. Isn’t it gorgeous? I have a pattern idea in my head for this already, but can’t start anything new till I’m done with the shawl.

And a knitter’s PSA: Knit Picks is having their annual 40% off book sale, and they’ve just posted a bunch of new yarns for sale: delicious-looking semi-solid kettle dyes, new colors of many yarns, Imagination hand-painted sock yarn, Swish Bulky superwash, and more.