Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Break the Color Wheel!

I can't get enough of Ikat Cotton Fabrics! They are so easy to work up and the variety of color combinations are unlimited. Some Ikat patterns are subtle, using the softer colors of the color wheel.  Other patterns are bold and colorful and when combined with vibrant solids, the garment design possibilities are endless.

I loved this new Victory Pattern, the Chloe No. 1005 Dress.  It is an intermediate level project suitable for woven fabrics like Ikat - other cottons or knits would work too.





We wanted to make our Chloe a little edgy by combining Ikat with a complimentary solid woven fabric. I love the combination of purple and green, especially if the hues are a little "off" color. You might think that this combination doesn't occur in nature, but it does. So why not combine these gorgeous olive Ikat prints with a solid purple woven?  Even though the purple does not occur in the Ikat, it doesn't matter.  The purple gives the olive Ikat that pop of color that will make my Chloe dress unique!


And just for grins, let's use purple thread for finishing the seams...after all, isn't the inside of your garment just as important as the outside? (Note that we made a little tacking stitch on the two pockets to keep them in place, facing the center front of the dress.)


We decided not to bind the neckline with the contrasting purple fabric as it might be too cliche - we don't want to be too predictable.  What I love about this Victory pattern are the clear directions for the neckline trim.  It went together so easily.


 Laurel hand sewed the bias facing to the neckline, rather than use the stitch in the ditch method to secure it, but either method works

We chose to use one of the Ikat prints to bind the cap sleeve - the bias facing is applied in the same manner as the neck facing.  For this cap sleeve we want a bound edge with the Ikat showing -  just like the neckline, but a little  more narrow, just to give a hint of the Ikat fabric.


Trim the facing to the exact width that you want the binding to be around the sleeve edge, so that when you turn it toward the wrong side of the sleeve to secure it, you won't have to work so hard to make it even.


We secured the facing with  a simple stitch in the ditch technique.


The "intermediate" part of making this dress kicks in when it's time to set in the sleeves. What makes the Chloe dress a little challenging is that the "sleeve" is really just an extension of the armhole.  To attach the sleeve to the armhole, you are sewing the curved edge of the sleeve on to the inverted curve of the armhole. It gives real meaning to the term "ease". If you make the tiniest of a clip along the bottom of the armhole, it makes it easier to ease in the sleeve. Do go SLOW!!!


So very unique!


And way too cute!  I can't wait for some Summer!!






Don't be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and combine fabrics and colors that you might not normally choose for your next dress.  These details and design elements are what make your wardrobe unique and totally you.  You want everyone to ask "Did you make that?", not because your sewing skills are perfect, but that your garment is something that they can't get in the stores...unless, of course they sew!!!

Creatively Yours,
SuZan

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A Dress for Every Girl - Giving Back

Being part of a wonderful community of sewists, quilters and crafters is the best part of having a fabric store. We thrive here in the Bay area because of the loyal patronage of customer base.  We enjoy hearing their stories about their sewing projects, both challenges and successes, and about the many ways that they use their talents to give back to their communities.


Our own support of Brightest Little Star, is just one of the ways we give back to our community by sponsoring sewing events to make soft baby blankets for the  Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Berkeley, California.

From Laurel, my seamstress and friend, we learned of another opportunity to participate in giving Dress a Girl Around the World ("DAG") is a non-profit arm of Hope 4 Women International. It's purpose is to make "pillowcase dresses" for little girls in impoverish areas of the world, and even in our own United States. The dresses are distributed to far reaching places through missionaries and community service volunteers, bringing smiles to little girls who perhaps never had a new dress to wear.  The heart-tugging benefit of these dresses is that village leaders tell DAG that a girl wearing a new dress presents an appearance that she is well cared for and may discourage would-be predators, a horror so common in some of these third world countries.
back to communities around the world.

Laurel (Laurel's Quill blog) is active in Northern Californa's DAG's activities in the Greater Sacramento region.  That group just celebrated 5 years of making dresses, coming together on a monthly basis for "Sew Fests", much like our Brightest Little Star events.  Leaders Sue and Sharon and their community of volunteers have made over 14,000 dresses, both from pillowcases and cotton fabrics. We wanted to be part of that birthday celebration so we sent Laurel off with some great cotton prints from our inventory!


The dresses are simple to make: just a length of 45" cotton fabric, serged up the back along the selvage edges...the length of the fabric determines the size of the dress



Cut two arm holes using the specs provided on the Dress a Girl website instructions.


Hem the bottom of the dress and sew two casings at the front and back necklines for elastic...


Double fold bias tape is used to bind the armhole and make the the "straps" of the dress


DAG No.CA volunteers came for a wonderful birthday celebration and Sew Fest on Saturday - what's better than getting together with a group of people who love to sew??? 


We love that apple fabric!!


Laurel's dress..."it's all about the pockets!"


The pockets are what gives the dresses personality!!




Laurel tells us that all kind of people come to a Sew Fest - not every one knows how to sew - they also come to iron, cut bias tape and elastic, put together kits, cut pockets, etc.  We love it that even men and young children show up...parents teaching children the importance of giving back. 

Young girls learn to hand-sew "Yo-Yos"

Anyone can make a DAG dress - the instructions are on the website. We understand there is even a DAG arm in the East Bay, according to their website, if you want to get involved locally. But I think it would be great if any of our Stonemountain friends want to make their adorable dresses to have Laurel come down some week night or Saturday or and we'll have our own DAG sewfest!  I totally get why this project makes her heart sing!




Creatively yours,
SuZan



Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Modern Take on a Retro Dress - E.S.P. by Decades of Style!

One of our favorite sewing pattern lines for retro and vintage fashion is Decades of Style. Though some of the mid-century dress lines have a lot of seaming detail, such as our Object d'Art Dress from last year, these clever folks have come out with an easy sewing line called Decades Everyday.  It's like they read our minds - "Give me a retro look pattern that I can sew in a day and wear every day!"



As quickly as you thought of it, Decades came up with the E.S.P. Dress. (Don't you just love the name?! ) A simple dress with raglan sleeves, flattering neckline, and a gathered skirt, the possibilities are endless for fabric choices.




Pattern layouts for striped fabrics can be a challenge.  The most important part of the layout is to place all the fabric pieces so that the tops of the bodice and skirt pieces are flowing in the same direction along the lengthwise of the fabric. This is especially important if the stripe pattern has a repeating flow of colors.


Love the exposed zipper!!!







This classic dress has a gathered skirt attached to a fitted bodice. What we have found is that almost all body shapes look good in this design, which is probably why it had survived countless fashion trends over the years.  Gathering fabric is relatively simple:  sew two rows of basting stitches along the waist of the skirt and after pulling the threads to gather the fabric, be sure to sew it with the gathered side on top to avoid puckers in the skirt.


The finished E.S.P dress is just perfect!  The stripes on the sleeves were not exactly matched, but I think the result added just enough edge to the bodice to make the dress more interesting and not so matchy-matchy.  And I know I'm going to love those pockets!!

More of these wonderful cotton import stripes!





Laurel made a little tie belt for my dress so that the waist is more defined, but a purchased belt would look lovely too.


Perfect for a button detail!

I can see this design in all kinds of fabrics.  I probably wouldn't ever wear chintz, but can you imagine how cute it would be? What about a gorgeous silk for a evening cocktail dress look? Imagine the variety of looks you could get with some of our beautiful cottons.  The staff here at Stonemountain & Daughter did just that!

Here's Brenna and Suzan--don't you just love those unicorns?!
Brenna did it again!  She used a beautiful vintage fabric this time.
Isabel and Claire look great in their ESPs!  This pattern is just perfect for novelty cottons.

Want to make your own, but aren't sure where to start?  Take a Sew & Fit Lab class at Stonemountain & Daughter for help on your own individual projects.  Or check out Barbara Beccio's class on Perfect Seams for Any Garment to take your sewing to the next level.

We know there are many of you who have made this classic E.S.P. dress too, and we'd love to see!  Send us pictures in the comments or email us at fabriclady3@gmail.com.  Until next time!

Creatively Yours
SuZan