Balancing the Crescent Skirt

The second project I made for the fall transition is a crescent skirt from Sewaholic Patterns in dark denim. I was excited to try one of their patterns, as they’re designed for “pear shapes” and that means plenty of space for my hips/backside!

I made a size 10, and at first I increased the width of the yoke by an inch to get it to sit lower on my hips. This was a TERRIBLE idea. See picture below:

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That yoke definitely belongs on your waist, not your hips. Ugh. So I took out all my stitching around just the side seams and took that inch I added out:

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I then realized I really needed it an inch smaller, so I went back in with the seam ripper for round 3. Finally the size was correct, but it took me another few days to realize I still didn’t like the skirt because it made my chest look disproportionately large. This is a problem I have with a lot of styles that fit at the natural waist. The solution: wear a loose, dark colored top. The extra ease in the chest area helps balance my proportions and the dark colors create a longer line, keeping me from looking like I’ve been chopped into curvy blocks by the waistline.

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The “why is this picture so washed out?” pose.

I think the lesson learned here is that fitting your body and flattering your body are completely different. The skirt has a great fit, but it’s definitely designed for that “pear” shape with the smaller chest. I also made that mistake when I sewed up Sewaholic’s Renfrew Top and didn’t do a big ol’ full-bust adjustment.  Actually, I should have just made it a size larger, but I tried to compensate for overly stretchy fabric by making it down a size. Whoops! I’m making a lot of rookie mistakes here, but I’m learning quickly! At least I can wear the top under a sweater or to a yoga class this fall.

Renfrew Top Disaster
I’m so unhappy with the fit here that it doesn’t get its own blog post!

Between Shifts and Sheaths

I think I should preface my fall sewing posts with the following: Fall in Austin is not very cold at all. Thus, my “fall sewing” is mostly just trying to make summer-weight clothing look like fall clothing! First up, a couple of dresses based on New Look 6095.

These dresses were my first use of Swedish Tracing Paper that I ordered from Amazon here. I saw it on another blog, but I can’t remember which one right now. I wanted to preserve the original pattern for future work, since the dress is so perfectly basic that I was sure I would want to make it again for myself or someone else.

On the first round I tried to make the alterations I knew I needed: a one-inch full-bust adjustment and grading to a larger size at the hip. This was based on finished garment measurements and the amount of ease that I wanted. I measured between the 14 and 16 in the chest (37), but I knew the 16 wouldn’t fit in the shoulder so I used the 14 (I’m a big C, small D cup). My waist was also in the middle (29.5) but I know I’m perpetually taking things in at the waist so I went for the 14 at the waist as well. I know my backside is relatively large (40) so that I would definitely need the 16 there to get proper ease.

In the end I did something odd, and surely not so “right.” I made the front in the straight size 14 with a full bust adjustment and added waist darts. Those waist darts are the motivation for the title: I wanted the dress shaped, but not fitted.

Then I broke all the rules and graded just the back from a 14 to a 16 from waist to hip and took out an inch at the lengthen-shorten line to match the increased dart intake in the front. To my surprise, this worked out fine.

All of those adjustments took forever and induced many groans from my boyfriend who was very annoyed that I kept running back and forth from my sewing station in our living room to the full-length mirror in our bedroom to adjust the fit. In the end though, I’m incredibly happy with how my dresses turned out!

After reading all of the reviews for the pattern on Pattern Review I decided to use bias binding on the neck (and armholes below) to keep the dresses lightweight. It was my first time using the method, so the print on the black dress is hiding some mistakes. It went perfectly on the orange dress.

The first is intended for a cocktail occasion, in a print that I LOVE. It has just enough vintage flair for my taste, without making it look like a costume (I have strong opinions about wearing vintage.)

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front view
Very happy with the finished fit! Yes I wanted it a little looser, it’s meant to be comfortable and conservative, for those times when there are “real” adults in the room.

The second is designed as a really lightweight fall dress. I loved the orange because it made me think of fall, would complement my subtly red hair, which of course I forgot to let hang in the picture, and I could picture it looking great with my brown flats. As soon as he saw it though, my boyfriend lamented my use of “burnt orange.” Oops, I made it in UT colors without thinking! At least I’ll fit in on campus. I’ll take the accidental school spirit. I shortened this one a bit as well, to keep it casual for school. The professors give seminars in shorts and a tshirt in my department, so I try not to dress up too much so I don’t stick out (because I want to daydream during class/seminars sometimes.) I also want to emphasize that the orange dress is linen. I claim all wrinkles are part of the look.

front view
Does the brown belt make it less “go longhorns” and more “yay fall”?

I’m quite excited to have this pattern in my stash. It’s incredibly fast to sew up now, and I know it will fit perfectly. Here’s how I styled the orange dress for school the other day (re-created because I didn’t take a picture in the morning).

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Summer Sewing: Part 2

Part 2 of my summer sewing adventures!  This time, I’m sharing my first commission! Okay, well it was from my sister so I’m not sure it really counts. She sent me this inspiration picture and asked me to work on designing an above-the-knee robe for her.

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So I made up Vogue V8888 in some fabric from Joann’s (size 14 with no changes).

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And here it is on me! My sister is a bit smaller than I am at the bust and waist, so it actually fit her perfectly (though the only pic she sent me was a mirror selfie).

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Alterations she requested: the sleeves are slightly angled and I shortened the pattern about 4 inches.

Alterations I also made: I top stitched the self-facing down since I couldn’t figure out how they wanted it secured based on the instructions (as far as I could tell, not at all)!

Alterations I would make if I did it again: I would exclude the fusible interfacing on the collar, as it felt a bit too stiff to me! It’s a robe and no one will see if it flops a little.

Summer Sewing: Part 1

I have been sewing at a pretty frantic pace all summer… so frantic, in fact, that I completely forgot to blog about any of it. Over the next few weeks I’ll put out posts on the pieces I made this summer, hopefully catching up in order to do most of my fall work as it happens! First up is the bag I made for my boyfriend’s cousin’s wedding in San Antonio!

I found this long, green chiffon pleated dress that I LOVED but every bag I owned looked terrible with it. So I decided to make a beaded, crocheted one from scratch since I didn’t remember beading being that hard. Well it was very hard, and it took forever, but I was completely in love with the result!

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The bag is beaded using a variety of E beads on cream colored size 10 crochet thread. The back and lining of the bag are “silky solids” cream fabric from Joann, with the back reinforced with some fusible interfacing.

I really regret not thinking carefully about the closure. I chose snaps, but those don’t work well for non-overlapping bag closures because things fall out! I should have put in a zipper, and I still might one day!