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Eggs/Animal Highlands Wrap Dress

Making this dress has been on my mind for over a year, and, par for the course for some of my most favorite makes, I was inspired by a dress I found on pinterest! It’s by designer Mara Hoffman (who has a really lovely eye for modern prints, color and style and knows exactly how to put them all together).

Mara Hoffman Amrita Dress Penny Dot from Alison Sudol's Exclusive Sustainable Fashion Guide for The Frontlash. Check out the rest of her feminine and stylish picks on our site.

I feel like this dress absolutely speaks for itself, but let me see if I can articulate just why it resonated with me so much. I love the large print of the polka dots, I love the sort of disparate color choices that somehow work so well together, I love how dynamic the colors look on the model’s skin, I love the easy, relaxed fit of the dress and how it doesn’t look boxy even though it isn’t body-huggingly tight. I LOVE the buttons down the side, and the extended sleeves are so cute to me! Now, having said all that, I didn’t actually end up implementing every single one of these design elements into my version, but I’m still crazy about what I ended up with, and excited to try out some other versions in the future!

I have several wrap dress patterns in my stash already but I chose the Highlands Wrap Dress by Allie Olsen because it was so close to my inspo dress and seemed to require the least amount of hacking. I wanted a narrow, yet loose-fitting skirt (as opposed to a circle or dirndl skirt), a wrap top that wasn’t too revealing, and sleeves proportionate to the rest of the dress without too much drama- the Highlands Wrap totally fit the bill.

It wasn’t until I actually bought the pattern, printed it out and looked over the instructions that I realized the back waist of the dress was gathered and had an elastic band (it’s hard to see this detail in the photos of the finished garments and the main line drawings of the pattern on the site only show the front views (you can only vaguely see the back views of the line drawings in smaller resolution on the pattern’s page). I knew that this design feature was likely going to present a problem for me since gathered waists coupled with slim fitting skirts do not drape well on my body at all- with such a large difference between my waist and hip circumference, a gathered waist like that hugs my hips and thigh creates tons of extra, bunchy fabric at the small of my back and I hate the way it looks and feels.

I made a muslin to see how I could address this issue and modify the back skirt to give me a more fitted, yet still comfortable garment, and I was thrilled to see that, except for the back skirt which I already knew needed adjusting, the dress fit everywhere else really nicely.

The sleeves were beautiful and fit my shoulders perfectly, the wrap in the front wasn’t too low or loose and therefore didn’t need a snap installed to keep it closed, and most delightfully, I discovered that it is designed with a button on either side of the wrap skirt to hold it in place, instead of having a hole for the tie to slide through and keep it closed. Having the skirt held in place with hidden buttons instead of a belt is SO BRILLIANT; it means that the tie won’t get loose throughout the day as I breathe and my body gets warm, and it won’t need to be tied more tightly; the dress feels really secure when it’s closed (it helps that it’s long!) and runs much less risk of exposing my bits and bobs if I’m ever caught in a strong wind, haha!

Once I knew that the dress was well suited for me in the front and sides and sleeves, I got to work fixing the back skirt. I had already graded from a 2 in the bust/waist to a 4 in the hips, so the measurements for my curves were accurate, but I needed to pinch out the excess fabric in the waist since I was eliminating the gathering ease/elastic at the back waist. I omitted the back waistband pattern pieces and raised the rise of the skirt to accommodate the missing length. Initially I tried to pinch out the excess fabric in two darts but I didn’t like the way they were laying- because there was so much extra material to take up, the darts had to be very wide and short, and they were causing a pucker on my buttcheek that I couldn’t seem to get rid of (part of this issue is because, in addition to a smaller waist/larger hip area, I also have a swayback). Then I remembered that in my favorite pencil skirt, there are four darts in the back skirt which allow the darts to be skinnier and therefore lay over my butt more smoothly without pulling or gaping anywhere. I pulled out the pattern pieces for my favorite pencil skirt and used them to loosely redraw the darts in my skirt. The skirt of my dress was of course a bit wider than the pencil skirt pattern pieces because it is drafted to have a looser, more relaxed fit than a fitted pencil skirt, but, amazingly, the darts still translated well onto the wrap dress and the silhouette from all angles is SPOT on. It took me approximately two toiles and then lots of extra adjusting on the third one, but it was all worth it cause the dress fits exactly the way I hoped it would!

Although one of my favorite things about the inspo dress were the buttons down the side, I ended up eliminating them for my own version- I wasn’t entirely sure how well the dress would lay and I didn’t want to hack too much of it during the first make and then end up having something that was just a little wonky in too many places. Now that the dress is complete I realize that I could omit the ties and use buttons instead and it would lay like a dream. One of the reasons I was too nervous to try the buttons out on this dress is because, aside from reworking the back of the skirt and eliminating the waistband and elastic, I also had to pay close attention to the fabric details since I was print blocking it and…it required so much of my brain space!!! Hahaha! It seems like it would be totally easy, and it’s certainly not complicated per se, but you just have to pay really close attention that you are cutting the correct side of the pattern on the correct side of the fabric, adding seam allowances for pieces that are supposed to be cut on the fold, making sure the facings are cut on the proper side and in the right direction…it was a lot! Instead of cutting out everything in advance, I cut out the main pieces first and then cut the remaining parts out as I went along so I would make sure that I didn’t cut anything upside down or wrong side up. I messed up just a couple of the facing pieces but for the most part I got everything right the first try and didn’t waste a lot of fabric (I was even able to cut out a mask and an Ogden Cami from my prized animal print fabric)!

Speaking of the fabric…how spectacular are these prints, both alone and together? They are printed tencel twills from Blackbird Fabrics, and I cannot rave enough about how perfect the fabric choice is for this garment. For this dress to lay beautifully, in my opinion it needs to have a bit of drape since the skirt is long and a bit of flow looks nice with it, but it also needs to be stable enough to maintain it’s striking silhouette on the body, which this tencel does beautifully. These prints are from the same designer and were released at the same time so imagining them together wasn’t difficult at all. I wanted to choose prints that were bold enough to stand on their own but that also worked well together, and these fit the bill perfectly. The orange-y brown in the fried egg fabric (yes, I think they look like sunny side up eggs, lol) isn’t quite the same color as the orangey brown of the animal print, but they are definitely siblings, and the black in each print helps pull them together. Even though black isn’t in my color palette, there is enough earth tone in the pops of egg yolk and the background of the animal print for me to pull it off, but honestly, even if I couldn’t “pull it off” I would still wear this dress. It’s just so cool!

Again, I cannot stress enough how pleased I am with how this came out. It was a long time in the making but it was well worth every single decision to get there, and if I come across another set of beautifully contrasting prints like these in the future, I might be inspired to make another dress just like it!

 

 

Colorblocked Kalle

Colorblocked Kalle

FYI: This post is about the Kalle Shirt/Shirtdress by the artist formerly known as Closet Case Patterns- they have now had a name change and can be found at Closet Core Patterns! Same great patterns, cool designs and inspiring and informative blog, but with a new name! You can check out their blog to learn a little bit more on the why’s of the name change. As a massive fan of this brand of patterns I have made just about everything they have released, so I plan to go through all my old blog posts to find where I have tagged their company so I can change it to their new name.

Colorblocked Kalle

I stumbled upon the idea for this colorblocked Kalle by accident. In my stash were two cuts of raw, nubby silk that I had purchased from different fabric stores, and I bought them with no idea whatsoever of what I planned to make with them, I just really like this kind of raw silk and I snag it up whenever I have a chance. I had saved both pieces when I did my fabric palette color cull at the beginning of the year, even though one was only marginally in my deep autumn palette.

The sunny, bright yellow was an obvious yes, but the salmon was debatable. Warm, orangey peaches definitely work within my palette, but this salmon-y color is more cool than warm, and I could even tell when I held it up to my skin that it made me look pretty grey. But I kept it anyways because I’m the boss! Although I love having parameters to work with in my makes, I don’t ever want to feel like the PALETTE is in total control, and I like experimenting and seeing how I can involve other pieces outside of my normal style/color scheme. I wondered if the yellow might be lively enough to bring up the kind of dull mood the salmon silk was conveying, and the Kalle shirt seemed like a brilliant pattern to test out my theory on.

 

I’ve made the Kalle a bunch of times, both for myself and for Claire, and it’s a real TNT for me. It’s so easy to wear and it’s a very straightforward make, but it also has lots of room for playing around with the design. I’ve made the kalle shirtdress in a silk that I sandwashed in my washing machine and one of my fav versions is in a striped grey and white linen that I changed directions on so that one side was vertical and the other horizontal (never made it to the blog but it’s been on my IG feed a bunch):

https://www.instagram.com/p/CAoDEDxn68V/

The construction was very straightforward- again, I am familiar with this pattern because I have made it about 5 or 6 times now, so I don’t have much more to say about the make itself that I haven’t mentioned in my other blog posts (here is my first make of this pattern)! I decided to french all the inside seams since I knew you would get glimpses of the innards while I was wearing it and I wanted it to look nice and clean.

Fiddling around with the color blocking for this project wasn’t too tricky either, it just required some thoughtfulness of where I needed to add seam allowances (if I was splitting one pattern piece into two) and which sides needed to be a certain color. I will admit that I had to go slow with the collar pieces, lol. My brain gets easily confused with this sort of stuff but it doesn’t help me to plan it out by writing it down in advance- I have to see the fabric and the pattern pieces all laid out for them to make sense to me. I decided to do the collar all in one color to add just a tiny bit of visual interest to the garment, and since yellow is the warmer of the two hues, I wanted to have as much of it close to my face as possible (the inside of the collar is colorblocked the opposite way of the outer shirt, which I guess is just a little something for me to enjoy when I put the shirt on, haha.

Josephine’s Dry Goods kindly provided THE MOST PERFECT buttons for this top, and we did it all through instagram DMs which I am very impressed by; the color is spot on!

Oh, one other huge thing I did with this top besides colorblock it was to lengthen the back piece, haha- can’t believe I didn’t start this post with that information. I see these pics and forget that this isn’t exactly how the pattern was drafted!

 

I got the idea for this dramatic high-lo hem from, you guessed it- pinterest!

…and the bravery to try the yellow and salmon together from this image. My color choices aren’t quite the same, but the spirit is there!

My kalle is obviously a much more wearable version of the first image above but I do love the idea of a shirt as kind of a cape (I’ve been going around calling this top my “butt cape” lol), and I’m really happy with how this ended up! It’s fun and its interesting and I got to use two fabrics from my stash that, until this point, I couldn’t figure out how to utilize! Altering the back piece was super easy, I just added a lengthen line on the pattern piece and added several inches, but you can’t forget to transfer that same length to the hem facing. One of my favorite details about this pattern is the hefty hem facing that gives the garment a bit of visual and physical weight- I loooove that curve at the sides, and the dramatic drop on the back is so nice!

My only issue is that I am not entirely sure how to style it. I threw it on with some persephone pants for the purposes of this photo shoot, but truth be told, I had taken photos of like, 7 other garments already before we photographed the Kalle shirt and I was too tired to work on putting together a nice outfit- I just wanted to get it done. So I’m not sold on this outfit (I personally prefer this top with more slim-fitting bottoms), but I am curious to see what it would look like with a couple other items from my wardrobe- namely these hot pink pants (also made in raw nubby silk!) or these baby blue Peaches Trousers that might tell a beautiful color story. I’ll probably share some more ideas on what to style this with on IG stories or something at some point in the future, so if you follow me there, stay tuned!

Espadrilles: me made

Persephone Pants: me made

Kalle shirt: me made

Thanks for the photos, Claire!

 

Mustard Linen Jumpsuit and Windowpane Check Duster

Before I begin this post, I just want to take a moment to make my position very clear- I am a staunch proponent of #blacklivesmatter #blacktranslivesmatter #disabledtranslivesmatter and #defundingthegoddamnpolice. I am so worn out by the last couple weeks and I have tried to use my social media platforms as much as I can to share information on anti-racism, dispel harmful myths about blackness, shine light on the effects of white supremacy, and uplift the voices of my black, queer community. At this point I am exhausted from having these dialogues and dealing with the ignorance that is par for the course when we start talking about why black lives matter, so I don’t have much energy to write anything very eloquent here right now (other than this blog post that I wrote weeks ago and am only now getting around to posting, haha). My website will not be a space for debate or “conversation” with white people on why black lives need to be protected and police brutality needs to finally, FINALLY, end. You are either on our side, or you are in the way. I expect that I will write more on this at some point in the future, but ’til then, if you are not an actively anti-racist person, please feel free to begin the journey of defunding your own personal white supremacy/anti-blackness and seeking out information to enlighten your mind, your heart, and your spirit…anywhere but in the comments of my post 🙂

My inspiration for this jumpsuit came directly from themindfulsewist, who used FibreMood’s Carmella Jumpsuit as a starting off point and ended up with this beautiful thing!

https://www.instagram.com/p/B58fVDaAroa/

My jumpsuit has a slightly different fit than hers (which makes me want to give hers another go at some point) but I still love how mine came out. I already had so many similar jumpsuit patterns in my stash that I couldn’t bear cutting a new one out and figuring out all the alterations, so I combined 3 or 4 patterns to end up where I did, with a slightly loose-fitting, cropped legged jumpsuit. I started out with the pants of the Intrepid Boilersuit Pattern from Alice & Co that I tested a while back, then I added the Leah Jumpsuit pattern from FibreMood (I hadn’t made this pattern before but liked the collar and boxy but not-too-loose bodice). Next I used the popover button placket from the Kalle shirtdress to create that beautiful front button band, and I think there was a little taste of a McCalls jumpsuit pattern in there…but I can’t remember exactly where- maybe in the crotch curve of the pants? lol)

Anyways, it was a real Franken-sperience putting it all together, and I didn’t quite nail it. Aesthetically it’s great, but fit-wise I really don’t like the bodice. The arm holes are too low and I hate that webbed underarm look in garments where it seems like your arm and torso are connected. It’s not uncomfortable, but I like the fit of the arms on the Intrepid Boilersuit much better. Additionally, I’m not super pleased with the crotch depth- it’s just a teeny bit too short and has a tendency to ride up when I first put it on (versus once the linen has relaxed a bit). That part is all my fault- I usually leave like, a whole inch in the seam allowance of the waistband so that I can adjust the fit as necessary, but because of the order in which I sewed the button placket in relation to the rest of the garment, I had to make a decision on length before I was able to fully try it on, and I cut myself a little short.

The popover placket is one of the things that really drew me to themindfulsewist’s jumpsuit- it looks so finished and modern with it, much more interesting than the standard button bands I usually tack onto the front. And I always hate figuring out how to finish the bottom of the normal placket where it attaches to the crotch seam. Mine just never seem to turn out very clean. But this one looks great! Unfortunately, because I was hacking so many different patterns together and wasn’t following any one set of instructions, I painted myself into a bunch of weird corners in the process of sewing this. I got myself out of every single one of them, thankfully, but watching me figure all the details out in real time was quite the sight!

 

This was mainly because I really liked the popover button placket technique for the Kalle shirtdress and didn’t want to draft a new one for the jumpsuit; I essentially just took the popover pattern piece, lengthened it to fit all the way from the neckline to the crotch, then followed the instructions as written. Since the popover placket gets sewn onto a flat, uncut bodice front (you cut the placket open during construction after it’s been sewn and stabilized to the front piece), this meant that I needed to sew the waistband before I sewed the placket, but sewing the waistband on first meant I also couldn’t try it on for fit adjustments (it’s a woven garment, so a closed front meant I couldn’t try it on until after I had already made the placket). I solved this by doing some very weird clothing yoga where only half the waistband was sewn so I wouldn’t have to unpick the WHOLE thing in case the fit was off, and then I just kind of held the bodice up to my body with my legs in the pants and eyeballed where the shoulders hit, lol. It was bizarre! And inexact! As I said earlier in the post, I could have given myself a tiny bit more room at the waist to create more room in the crotch and more of a bloused effect, but it’s not uncomfortable so I am not stressing too much about it. Again, the garment is made of linen, so it softens and stretches out quite a bit after some wear.

Speaking of the fabric, WOWZA, amirite? This is a stunning vintage washed linen from The Fabric Store in the most beautiful blend of green, brown and yellow I could imagine. Mustard is in my color palette (obviously!) and I think it’s brilliant, one of those colors that doesn’t say much when by itself, but when worn against brown skin, it just sizzles.

So you may be asking, what the hell is going on with those pockets, lol. I loved the pockets from the inspo make- extra big patch pockets that took up practically the whole thigh. I waited to draft the pockets until after the majority of the jumpsuit was constructed so I could make sure I got the proportions correct, but once I got to that point, I realized I had very little fabric left and I still needed to draft a belt. At some point I was standing in the mirror with a pocket pinned to one leg and a scrap of fabric held around my waist for the belt, just trying to visualize the proper placement. The top of the pocket and bottom of the belt were hitting at the same place on me, and when I lifted the pocket just a touch to be even with the belt, I got this interesting apron effect with it. I wondered if I had enough fabric to make this apron idea an actual design feature, and after a little puzzling around with my tiny scraps, I figured it out.

I would have loved to have even more fabric so I could make the pockets bigger and wrap the apron/belt tie around my waist more than once, but I am totally satisfied with how this came out and I think it looks so rad. I can’t explain why it works, it just does, and honestly those are some of my favorite moments in making clothes. I have only a basic understanding of color theory and would consider myself only an intermediate sewist, but when things click into place for me without any rationalizing, when I’m just overwhelmed by a moment of “THIS LOOKS SO RIGHT!”, I feel rejuvenated! Because there isn’t really a science of style- we all have different tastes and we like what we like, and when I put these pink memade mules on with this brownish yellow ensemble, I can’t explain to anyone why it works, I just know that it makes my heart beat fast when I see it. And I really want to hold on to that, hold onto being motivated by my own tastes instead of what I think I am supposed to like, or what advertisers and marketers assume I will like based on my demographic.

So yeah, here I am inspired by a jumpsuit that I didn’t quite end up with myself, but one that I love nonetheless. And truth be told, I will probably give my inspo jumpsuit another try in the very near future- after having hacked about 3 jumpsuits from different pieces of different patterns, I am ready for a regular old run of the mill pattern that will need much less work. My guess is that the new Closet Case Patterns Bianca Flight Suit is gonna work out well for me since all their other patterns do, and Heather always does a fine job of sharing smart ways to correct fitting issues along the way! So far, jackets and jumpsuits have been my sewing mainstays (did you know that I will have made SIX JACKETS in the past 6 months?!?!) and I don’t want to ruin a good thing. Speaking of jackets…

 

There isn’t a whole lot to say about this one- making it was a last minute decision because I had acquired the pattern (Simplicity R10013) on my hunt for a different coat project which I ended up not using it for. It is a very simple and quick pattern to put together, no real shaping, no lining (although I ended up adding one), and no special techniques required. It’s a great pattern for a newbie but doesn’t offer much in terms of style- it’s baggy and boxy even in the XS I made. I think the only reason I like it is because the fabric is so dynamic. The fabric is actually the wool suiting that I planned to make my Jasika Blazer out of, which, FYI, is on it’s way to the blog, I just need better photos of the jacket first. Once that post is up, you can read all about why I discarded the fabric in favor of something more stable and thick, but thankfully I figured out another way to use it. It’s actually pretty terrific as a warm weather jacket- the wool suiting is so light that it’s almost floaty, which is why I decided to line it with white dupioni silk from my stash- it needed a little more heft to ground it. Again, it’s not the most interesting jacket in the world, but it’s gonna be a dream to layer over things when the weather gets cool again; thankfully the window pane check gives it all the drama it needs.

You might recognize that this icy blue color is not in my autumn palette (one of the other reasons I decided not to make a blazer out of it!) but it pairs beautifully with this mustard yellow and also with other oranges and browns in my palette, so although I haven’t had many opportunities to wear it yet, I think it will be a nice addition to the outerwear portion of my closet.

FYI, shoes are memade suede mules that you can read more about here. Thanks as always to Claire for the pretty pics, and thanks to you all for continuing to show support and love for me and my black community!