Monday, June 23, 2014

Orange You Glad I Didn't Say Banana Maxi-Berkley Maxi Dress

Another week, another pattern testing.  I'm not sure how I got myself so into pattern testing this month.  This is actually the first pattern I tested way back at the beginning of the month and I am SO excited to finally be able to share it.

This lovely dress is the Berkley Maxi, once again by the fabulous Lynn at Bebelambs  It's finally being released as an instant PDF today!  The Berkley comes in sizes 2-26.  I made a 20 with a FBA based on my high bust measurement.  As added bonus, the Berkley Maxi, Dress, and Top pattern is on sale for $8 through Wednesday 6/25. 

Mr. R picked out my fabric, all from JoAnn's.  The bottom is a cotton/spandex blend.  It washed up beautifully and has just a touch of stretch.  I fell in love with the bodice fabric, a very sheer linen-look with embroidered flowers.  It matches the floral of the skirt so beautifully.  I opted to use my lining fabric, a orange-juice colored quiliting cotton, for the back as well.  I wasn't sure that the elastic would work well in such a sheer material.  You'll have to excuse some of the over-filtered photos.  Apparently, when you take pictures of a white bodice lined with a paler orange fabric in full sunlight, the resulting pictures all give the wearer the appearance of participating in a wet t-shirt contest!

This is Lynn's first foray into the wild world of women's wear and man, she has out done herself.  I tested one of the earlier versions of the dress.  Mine is the maxi version with an elastic casing back and a tied back.  Since I tested she has added so many great variations that add so much to the value of the pattern.

Let's look at some of the options.  First, the back.  The back of the bodice can be done in a shirred manner using elastic thread or, if you don't have that on hand or are still intimidated by it, you can do elastic casing.  That's the option I chose.  I haven't shirred before and wasn't up to the challenge this time.  The elastic casing is a bit difficult, not so much in technique, but its a lot of no-roll elastic to force through your fabric.  The elastic though does give some extra support.  It's a fairly narrow back so that extra support can come in handy if you're a bustier girl.

I did the maxi version.  I love a maxi so much.  In the summer I'd rather wear a long flowy skirt than capris or shorts any day.  They're just so comfy and breezy.  Other versions include a high-low hem, a knee-length, and even a tunic!  I've seen some incredible versions of all of these.  The tunic isn't the right silouhette for me, but on different figures its adorable.

Lastly, the back.  I did the knot/bow version.  The straps are connected to the front of the bodice and then threaded through a button hole at the center back.  The straps are extra long to allow for a nice big bow.  To me this is one of the features that sets the Berkely apart from so many other maxis.  The one down side of the straps being done like this is the top isn't very bra-friendly or supportive.  To avoid these potential problems, the pattern offers a cross back version where the straps are connected at the front and the back.  Fantastic!

One word of warning, the Berkley Maxi is drafted for a B cup.  It's advisable that a muslin be made for the bodice along with either a SBA or a FBA.  I made 2.5 muslins (my first one I chose the wrong size).  I ended up having to do a 1.5" FBA.  I'd never done once before and was a little nervous but the pattern includes a worksheet that made the whole thing fairly simple.  Once I did the FBA I didn't have any fitting issues.  I was concerned about not having a hip measurement to go by but the skirt is designed with a lot of ease so there weren't any issues thankfully.

A final note.  This dress holds the honor of being the first me-made garment that got the question "where did you get that?"  Can there be a higher compliment?

Monday, June 16, 2014

A Tale of Two Emmes-Emme Skirt by Bebelambs

The past couple weeks I've been doing some pattern testing for a couple of small PDF companies.  I've never done any pattern testing before yet somehow I ended up with three tests in three weeks!  Now I know that there is a lot of talk going around the sewing blogs about pattern testing.  They have all said just about everything there is to sell so I'll keep my two cents short.  I dedided to get involved in pattern testing for a couple of reasons.  1. The idea of being an "insider" sounded like a lot of fun to me 2. I enjoy the challenging aspects of trying out a new pattern 3. I'm a fairly new member to the online sewing community and I felt this would be a great way to foster relationships withing this great community.  

Now, moving on to the sewing.  This is the Emme skirt from Bebelambs. The skirt comes in some great variations: Simple, Drop Waist, Color Block, Ruffle, and Ribbon Trimmed.  It comes in sizes from Newborn all the way to a girls' size 10.  

My first Emme was a color blocked version.  I was able to use some scrap material picked up at a garage sale by my mom.  (The Emme is a great little scrap-buster).  Now I had some sizing issues, but this had absolutely nothing to do with Lynn's pattern.  I thought that the Little Miss would be wearing a size 5/6.  I cut and assembled the color block version before TLM had arrived and then measured her find out she was a 3! Well this was a surprise.  I didn't change the skirt at this point.  Instead I just used the elastic sizing for a 3.  Theres some strange bunching at the waist line, but nothing to severe.  

I did a second Emme in an ACTUAL size 3.  The fit is great.  For this one I used a thrifted Tommy Hilfiger sheet...DESIGNER!  I am absolutely in love with this skirt.  I used the simple skirt pattern and added the optional side seam pockets in a contrasting red.  (ETA: Apparently the pockets didn't make it into the final pattern draft. Any side seam pockets from another pattern could easily be added) I opted to topstich the pockets to the front of the skirt with red thread.  TLM can be very particular and I didn't want the pockets to flop around and annoy her.  Instead of hemming, I finished the bottom with some double-fold bias tape I had in my stash.  I love the cute All-American feel of this skirt.  I'm actually working on a skirt for myself made from the same sheet.  These will most likely be our 4th of July outfits.  

I love this pattern.  It's a simple, quick sew, (a simple skirt can be made in about 30 min).  Like all of Lynn's patterns, this is targeted toward beginners.  It is a simple skirt, nobody is reinvinting the wheel here, but there are endless variations possible making this a fantastic wardrobe builder.  I'm already plotting to modify one of the styles into a high-lo skirt and will also be using it as the base of a tank top dress.

Now, full disclosure, some people aren't going to care for this pattern because there are no actual pattern pieces.  Everything is done by measurements.  I personally love not having to deal with tiny pattern pieces.  Having all the measurements gives so many opportunities to really make the skirt your own.  Now, I'm sure some people can whip up a self-drafted skirt in no time flat.  This isn't the pattern for you.  But, if you're a beginner or someone who doesn't want to deal with the work involved with self-drafting, then Lynn has done all the hard work for you. 

The Emme skirt realeases today!  It's on sale for $5 USD until midnight EST Wednesday June 16th.  Do yourself a favor an snatch it up.  

Friday, June 6, 2014

A Chair is Still a Chair Dress-Butterick 5982

Wow, what a week!  I was convinced that I would have this written by Monday and here it is already Friday. I'm still in a whirlwind of preparation, getting ready for the arrival of The Little Miss. I also have been neck deep in pattern testing. It's my first time testing and what a learning experience. I can't wait to share, but for now we have this dress. 

Readers, I LOVE this dress. It's super fun, surprisingly comfortable, and probably my best fitting garment to date. I'm actually wearing it for the first time today and still loving it. I'm not sure if there's much that beats a fit-and-flare for instant femininity. I feel like such a girl. 

You'll probably recognize the fabric. It's once again a part of my $2/yard haul. I just can't get enough of those chairs!  I purchased nearly 5 yards of it so I still have plenty to play with. I'm thinking TLM will soon have a matching skirt. 

The pattern for the bodice is Butterick 5982. This pattern is great because it comes in multiple cup sizes so no full bust adjustment, yay!  The bodice is lined with what I think is muslin. My mom sent me nearly a full bolt of the fabric so I decided to use it. It's not fancy but it's nice and breathable and feels good on my skin. I'm really happy with the zipper insertion. I've only done a couple of them. I had to do this one twice because I used my zipper foot backwards!  As much as use that thing for non-zipper things, you'd think I'd have figured it out by now. 

My fabric was incredibly narrow, around 42" after pre-washing so I had to abandoned the lovely bell-shaped skirt. Instead, I did a self-drafted dirndl skirt. Can you call it self-drafted when you took 2 rectangles the width of the fabric and sewed them together?  Hmmm...seems sketchy to me but I'm going to do it anyway. I self-drafted the skirt.  

I don't have any pictures of the inside but believe me, it's a thing of beauty. Not an unfinished edge to be seen. The hemline and zipper are all encased in the lining. The hem is once again hand stitched. I'm a little over hand stitching for a bit. I've done MILES of it thus month. Both skirt seams are French seams. I love French seams. They are so pretty and that extra touch makes me feel professional. 


I've got some fun things on my docket including my first Moneta by Colette Patterns. You guys, I'm so pumped to get my fabric. It should arrive tomorrow and it's awesome!  There's also some small girl's projects that may or mayy not show up here. Join me again soon and happy sewing!