Monday, May 21, 2012

Inspiration: Beaded Sleeves

Last week was one of those weeks that just wasn't productive. I didn't feel motivated to do much, so the time I did spend working on things went towards a gift (yet to be finished... I had to redo a good chunk of it). I realized today I had this post sitting around half-written.

So, two weeks ago the Coletterie linked to this Threads article showing a pair of beaded and embroidered sleeves. If you haven't seen it, do! They're absolutely beautiful. The detail is amazing.

It got me thinking about how cute it would be to add sheer beaded sleeves to a simple top or dress. I lack the experience or ability to make anything quite like the inspiration, but I have done a bit of beading and rather liked it. The Alabama Stitch Book even has a little info on beading, and the stencil patterns from it would work for beading patterns.

I started looking for examples, and while they weren't all over the place, I did find a few (quite a few wedding dresses, too). Here's one:

Photo at

I like that it's more modern, with the very plain bodice and bright colors, but the beading is a little heavy.

This is example from Flickr is on a sweater and different beads than I'd use, but I like the random, scattered style with a stronger concentration at the hem:

I'd use a simple bodice and little cap sleeves for this. And wouldn't the Truffle dress look good with beaded sleeves and matching detail on the ruffle?

Friday, May 11, 2012

Notes to self: Fitting

I meant to put this in my original Pastille post, but seeing as how I forgot and it was a wordy enough post on its own, I'll put it in here. I mentioned some of these things, but I want to very clearly document fitting notes and future changes so that I can easily find them if/when I make a pattern again. Or for reference on similar patterns. I could write them down somewhere, but chances are I'd lose them. Blogs really are handy as notebooks.

Pastille Dress

  • Back bodice is too long
  • Waistline on front bodice needs to be raised a smidge outside of the darts
  • Skirt could still be straightened a bit - near the middle it still rounds out too much
  • Sleeves - didn't mark changes on pattern piece, so try to trace dress or just re-do them (or remove them)
  • Check waist length between front bodice and front skirt - it didn't seem to match up, probably forgot to adjust skirt waist after altering bodice


  • Make back bodice one piece and move zipper to side, add width to seam allowances for lapped zipper
  • Sleeveless or draft separate cap sleeves
  • Lace insertion at hem instead of pleats
  • Do the bow
Also, things I learned or tried:

Thread tracing
Using lace hem tape
Prick stitching, lapped zipper
Hand-stitched understitching on facings
Several certainly-not-textbook fiddlings to get those sleeves to lay right without unpicking everything...

And here's a close up of the fabric I used (in TWO colorways!) just because:

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Wooly Jacket, Part 2

I knew I had more pictures of this jacket. I finally found them in a different folder on my computer. I realized I like this jacket with a longer shirt, as shown here. I wore it the other day with one that just came to the top of my jeans and didn't like the look quite so much. Funny how proportions change the look of something so much.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

SSPC 2012: Pastille Dress - DONE!

My sister-in-law gave me The Colette Sewing Handbook for Christmas, and I highly recommend it. There are reviews about it all over the place, so check those out if you want more info. It's full of great tips and very clear writing, plus it includes five patterns. I decided to start with the Pastille dress, which is a fitted cap-sleeved dress with three horizontal tucks near the hem. I used a pink cotton with a red and white feedsack style print that I bought from a local fabric store.

Why, yes, I *do* feel awkward taking pictures of myself!

I haven't done a whole lot of pattern adjusting before, but I needed to adjust this one. I liked all the cutting, moving, adjusting, and most of all - getting results. I tissue fit to figure out how much to take out for the SBA I needed, and I made the muslin with those changes. Then I just sewed the whole thing with 1" seam allowances so I could let out anywhere I needed to. I did not test the skirt at all. I realized at the end that the waistline needs to be adjusted a little bit, so I may test it all in the future.

The main adjustments I made were the SBA, taking some length out, especially in the back bodice (although it still needs quite a bit more taken out), and straightening the skirt a little. It had quite a pronounced outward curve around the hips.

The other change I made was to redo the sleeves. I sewed them up as drafted, but ended up carving a good slice out of the outer edge to make them shorter and change the curve a little. They just weren't fitting correctly over my shoulders. I will most likely change them more significantly if/when I make this pattern again.

I made my first lapped zipper on this dress! This dress was designed with a centered zipper already, so I made a centered back lapped zip. I could (and probably will) move it to the side next time. I feel like it's kind of conspicuous right there, and I certainly need more practice with those. I must have had it misaligned, because I have a weird fold/crease at the bottom and I managed to make the top edges not line up at all. I did not want to redo it, so I'm living with it.

That zipper is one of the reasons (excess back length being the other main one) why I like this dress much better with a cardigan.

I will probably wear it without one also, because I want to be able to wear it during the summer.

Besides the general awkwardness, I was using a different camera and not sure of its timing...

And in other news, my Alabama Chanin skirt is *THIS* close to being done! I just need to attach the waistband elastic, which I'm going to do tonight (probably while watching Once Upon a Time). I also have my 80's pattern t-shirt all cut out, and I'm re-fitting my Clovers as shorts - hopefully a wearable muslin. I ordered a few things from Fashion Fabrics Club, and lo and behold they didn't send me any thread, including the Woolly Nylon I was hoping to use on my knits, or the blue knit for the McCall's shirt. So I need to see what else I can find now. But I'm still making progess!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

SSPC 2012: Pomegranate Voile Dress and Update

I've completed 3 of my Spring/Summer Palette Challenge items so far; I've already posted about the PJ pants, I finished my Pastille dress this weekend (details to come), and I finally fixed my voile dress.

I made this dress last summer in anticipation of our trip to Europe. I used McCall's 5388, a shirt pattern, and just added length (using view D without sleeves) straight down to make it into a shift-style dress. I usually wear it belted to give it some shape, but I wore it yesterday loose and it was so comfortable. Now that it fits better, I don't mind the looser look.

I made a different view of this shirt WAY back when I just started sewing. I'm still a relative newbie, but I think that was actually my first garment. It was a mess; it's a very wide style and I used a quilting cotton that was NOT a good fabric to use, so I think I wore it once or twice and then stuck it in my use-this-for-fabric pile (do you save old clothes for their fabric? I don't always, but depending on the item I do). When I made this version, I chose an Anna Maria Horner voile (Diamond Mind in pomegrante), which was a much better choice.

I still think there might be too much ease in this pattern, but like I said, it's comfortable. The main problem I had with both versions was that the armholes were just TOO TIGHT. I lengthened the straps on both of them, but not enough. Besides, the neckline was hitting at the right place; the problem was the the bottom of the armscye was too shallow. So the other night I unpicked the bias binding, chopped a good inch out of the deepest part (and kind of eyeballed rounding it up so I still had a round-ish armhole), and sewed lace hem tape around the new and improved edges. I didn't feel like finding my scraps of voile, figuring out if I had enough for new binding, and recutting it all. It worked out fine. And best of all, my dress now fits around the top. It doesn't pull and bunch up under my arms. It's a weird feeling to have such a loose garment feel so tight.

OLD version - not the greatest pics but all I could find

NEW version, also not the greatest pic but at least you can see the dress

I'm glad to be making progress! A bunch of my fabric just got shipped yesterday (from Fashion Fabrics Club, it took a full week to even leave their warehouse - here's hoping everything arrives correctly), and I have the fabric for my 80's tshirt, from Girl Charlee - which was very quick with the shipping and the fabric looks just like I thought it would:

It's super soft and a little sheer so I'll have to layer but I quite like it.