Tuesday, November 18, 2014

No Ordinary Dress…Frances Dress from Green Bee Patterns

"Where's my dust rag, Ethyl?"
Every woman has her own version of "You're never going to see me wearing that again!" clothing. As styles come and go, what we wore years ago that we thought was so chic may now seem hopelessly frumpy. Some of us are just not the vintage type, and others like our very own MJ, totally embrace both vintage and historical clothing design.

Since we've been moving toward adding dresses this Funky Fall to our garment planning, we found this Frances Dress from Green Bee Patterns. Some of us (Laurel!) were uncomfortably reminded of a vintage "house dress".

Note: a house dress was a type of simple dress worn informally in the mornings at home for household chores or for quick errands. The term first originated in the late nineteenth century to describe at-home garments designed for maximum practicality and usually made from washable fabrics. 

Perhaps the photo of the Green Bee's Frances Dress (the name even conjures up a "busy bee") reminded some of us of something our mother or grandmother may have worn, with it's classic chambray trimmed with red print example.  But I love our independent pattern designers and I was undaunted - I saw something about this little dress that was going to work for me, especially for work days here at the store.


We chose a soft brown cross-dyed cotton for the main body of the dress and a tribal inspired cotton print for the trim.

I love choosing cottons for a dress - they are lightweight, easy to care for and wearable even in the fall, paired with a light sweater if necessary.  But the best part of cotton fabric is that it's SO EASY to sew. As we started putting the dress together, it became clearer to my own little skeptic seamstress (Laurel, frowning: "Looks like a house dress, Zan...") that it was going to be adorable.

As a sewist you are always going to be confronted with buttonholes - not every dress or shirt is going to have a zipper. The only way to conquer buttonholes like the 8 (count 'em!) on this Frances dress is to PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE using your machine's buttonhole setting. Use the fabric that your actual garment is made from in order to get a true picture of your finished buttonhole. Make sure that your practice buttonholes are long enough for your buttons to go through first. TEST IT!

Most button-up pattern designs come with a paper buttonhole guide.  You can use the guide provided or mark your own...as long as you space them evenly, it doesn't matter. With this dress, Laurel started her first buttonhole at the bottom of the dress front placket - the goal was to make sure that the buttons at the fullest part of the bust didn't cause an unflattering/revealing gap.

She made the first buttonhole and then marked and sewed each successive buttonhole as she moved upward on the dress, spacing them evenly. Sewing on the buttons is done in the same manner, from bottom to top.

This is definitely NOT a house dress!!

Let's make another one, Laurel!

Creatively Yours,

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Getting Ready for our Big Event with Sandra Betzina!

I am so excited to have teacher, designer and friend Sandra Betzina back at Stonemountain. Sandra has made many visits over the 33 years we have been here and each and every time she does a class for us, we all leave inspired and full of great new sewing ideas.

Some time for shopping with 20% off!
Cost: $45 per person

 This class is almost full, so call us right away at 
510-845-6106 to register!


Sandra Betzina is one of our "Go-To" designers when we are looking for something with innovative design and clever detailing. Last year, we made that wonderful silk and knit combination top, and I still love it!
Vogue 1355
Vogue 1355

Vogue 1355

And her soft yoga pants, also included in Vogue 1355 are still among my favorites!

Vogue 1355

When we made this Vogue 1291 pattern in a soft cotton voile, we had many customers who wanted to duplicate this top, using the same fabric!

Vogue 1291
Vogue 1291

Vogue 1291 made with Silk Charmeuse and Silk Chiffon!

So what's a girl supposed to do when you know Sandra is coming to town? Make one of her designs up to wear to the class, of course! Laurel picked Sandra's Vogue 1336, a color blocked dress that's so on-trend this season! Her only adjustment to the design was to shorten the dress to make it more of a tunic, so she could pair it with some leggings.

Vogue 1336

The best aspect of this pattern is that you have unlimited combinations of printed and solid fabrics. The true seamstress and design guru that she is, Laurel decided to use fabrics that she already had on hand, almost all of them being left over pieces from other garments that we have made.

When you want to do color blocking it's a good idea to lay your fabrics out on a table to see what colors and patterns might look good together.  Laurel had some of our silk knit that she wanted to be the focal point, a couple of large scraps of black knit, a couple of right-sized scraps of that wonderful silk knit, and a length of sheer nylon and Lycra netting she found upstairs in our sale section. You will remember some of these fabrics from previous posts.


Color block patterns like this Sandra B. dress have multiple pattern pieces, and with most of them, you would be cutting out one single piece at a time, such as a front left side or right front section.   Because Laurel was working with small pieces of fabric, she cut out each section of the dress front and then sewed them together BEFORE she even started cutting the back sections.  Get the front of the tunic the way you like it, then move on to the back.


With the front and back finished, she sewed the shoulder seams and then finished off the neckline.  Laurel chose some of the sheer nylon that would make the sleeves and the hemline band to also make the neckline trim.


When you're combining a sheer fabric for sleeves or a hemline band such as this nylon, you have to decide if you want the seams to show at the joined edge.  Laurel turned the finished armhole with the sheer sleeve turned back on to the knit fabric so that the sleeve was sheer all the way to the edge, then top stitched it down.


The sheer nylon on the hemline band really finished 
off this design beautifully.


All I can say is that I'm green with envy - this Sandra B. design is perfect for those of you who want to mix it up a little and be creative - isn't that what sewing is all about - taking a pattern such as this Sandra Betzina dress and making yours? Laurel's tunic totally fits into our "Funky Fall" season at Stonemountain. I can't wait to see her rockin' it at our November event !


I cannot wait to try on my "twinsie" dress - Laurel's bringing it for me to try on this Thursday! 

Yes we will take lots of photos to share with you all 
that won't be able to join us!

Creatively yours,