Friday, June 29, 2012

can't get it out of my head

This silk dress, specifically...

I have seen the movie "Under The Tuscan Sun" at least ten times. The plot line is pretty good: girl travels to Tuscany in an attempt to ease her heartbreak, impulsively buys a crumbling villa, and subsequently moves there full-time. But the two things that keep me watching over and over again are the lovely scenery and costumes.

I've been in love with this orange/pink silk dress from the first time I saw the film. A couple of weeks ago while channel-surfing, I caught the last 30 minutes of the movie with Diane Lane in that beautiful dress... sigh. It's just so girly and a little bit retro. I love, love, love that dress!

As I was watching it occured to me, why don't I just make myself a dress like that? How hard could it be? Aside from the fact that silk is pretty pricey, what's stopping me?

About 90 minutes from me there is a huge shop called Vogue Fabrics. They carry everything - home dec, wools, silks, cottons, you name it. Their online shop shows several colors of Thai Silk Dupioni, and I particularly LOVE this color called persimmon. Slightly iridescent, the color shifts from orange to pink as the fabric moves and the light changes. Perfect!

I did a little online research about silk fabrics since I've never sewn with them and learned that dupioni silks are woven from two different colors of silk, giving them the iridescent shimmer. Dupioni silks are an excellent choice for dress-making since they are wrinkle resistant and provide a crisp drape. They do have a slight roughness or nubbiness to the weave, which I think gives them a little character. On the downside, though, dupioni silks show pin marks more than other fabrics, so I'd have to be extra careful to keep the pins in the seam allowances.

A close-up shot from the movie shows that Diane Lane's dress has the tiniest little fold-down shawl collar without a notch and set-in sleeves with a fold-up cuff. The dress appears to be a shirt-dress because of the silk covered buttons on the bodice, but they don't continue down the front of the full circle skirt, so there must be a well hidden zipper in the side seam. I'm thinking five yards of silk is what I'll need. Wow - that's a lot of silk!

We've got a family wedding coming up in late September; that should be time enough to act on this obsession, don't you think? Next step is pattern research and a field trip to Vogue fabrics... sounds like fun!

And in case you are thinking I've abandoned my quilty pursuits, let me assure that I've been working on a new baby quilt top in the midst of all this apparel sewing. All the blocks are completed; I've just got to put them together and show you next week!

Happy Weekend, everyone!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

why yes, it IS another skirt

My latest wardrobe addition is another Fat Quarter skirt made using the fabulous tutorial from Venus de Hilo found here.

A photo of my new skirt front...

And one of my new skirt back...

Stephanie (aka Venus) gives you step by step instructions in three installments so you can make your very own drawstring summery skirt from just six fat quarters! I made one last year using her tutorial, so I already had my custom fitted pattern prepared, and the whole thing took me about two hours. Well, maybe three since I decided to sew the drawstring inside-out and turn it with a bodkin. That took a bit longer than I expected - lesson learned - so next time I'll do it the way she told me :)

I've probably got enough fat quarters in my stash to make one of these skirts for every day of the summer season.

So, you might be seeing more of them here.

Just sayin'...

P.S. Fabrics are from the Stockholm line by Robin Zingone for Robert Kaufman.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Dotty Stars finished!

My Dotty Star is quilted and bound!

I chose an edge-to-edge quilting design (also known as pantograph) called "Petal Pushers" in a very pale pink color. My long-arm quilter has a giant array of patterns to chose from, and I wanted something flowery but not too dense because the front is busy enough already! The backing is primarily the flower dots on blue print you see here with a white on white strip right down the middle. I had to make-do with what was left on the bolt of those flower dots. Quilt backing fabric on clearance - gotta love that!

The binding is an irregular white dot on black print. Something about the uneven spacing of these dots seemed a better fit than dots in a grid pattern. And of course, it just had to be a print with dots!

It's now hanging in its new habitat - my sewing room! I took down my Mary Engelbreit New York Beauty quilt and placed it on my new quilting ladder. It feels pretty good to have enough quilts here at my house to be able to rotate them.

If you'd like to see any details about the pattern I used for this quilt and some construction tips and tricks, you can read all about it by clicking on "Dotty Stars" in the Labels section in the right sidebar.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

my basic summer skirt

The skirt I mentioned in my previous post was finished in time to wear last Saturday. I had to get up early that day to put the hem in, but when it was time to get dressed and attend my girls' dance recital, I was ready!

The fabric is from Anna Maria Horner's Loulouthi cotton line - Clippings in Passion. I was drawn to the bright fuchsia flowers on the charcoal background initially, but there are so many lovely colors in all the flowers that I knew it would be a snap to find coordinating tees and summer sweaters.

It's a simple A-line skirt with a back center zipper and no waistband. And since there are no pieces that need to be cut on the bias, you don't need a bunch of yardage. Mine was made with 1.5 yards = inexpensive fabulous new wardrobe piece! This simple silhouette is a great way to showcase those wild, colorful prints that I love!

I've included some details in this post to let you know how I finish my skirts on the inside. Hopefully you'll find them easy to follow and be inspired to make your own collection of summer skirts!

I made a skirt with this pattern in 2008 adjusting the pieces to fit my smaller waist/larger hip ratio (you can see all my notes on the pattern front.) This A-line cut is a good choice if you've got that same body type since the waist is fitted, but the skirt floats over your hips for a slimming illusion :)

There are only four pieces to this pattern - skirt front and back, and facing front and back. Easy-peasy. You can see the inside of the simple back center zipper here, as well as the waist facing (which is backed with lightweight fusible interfacing for a little added stability and structure.)

Four simple darts (two in front and two in back) nip in the waist area without adding the bulk that a drawstring or elastic would create. This way the top of the skirt lays smoothly against you in front and back.

On the inside I serged all my seam allowances and pressed the back seam open. The two side seams were trimmed, serged, and pressed to the skirt back to cut down on bulk in the hip area. Who needs more bulk there, right? A very simple hem - serge the skirt bottom, press under 3/8" to 1/2", and sew close to the serged edge.

You should definitely wash and dry your fabric before cutting into it. This will insure that any shrinkage occurs before you spend all that time fitting and cutting and sewing, so in the end you'll have a skirt made for you - not someone slightly smaller than you - ask me how I know this ;-)

This is the next fabric I've got pre-washed and ready to make into my basic summer skirt... pretty wild!

Have you got a basic skirt pattern that you've made multiple times? I'm always interested in new pattern suggestions!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

girly clothes

I finally got around to sewing one of the skirts I had planned to make last summer, and I finished it just in time to wear it to Thing 1's high school graduation ceremony and party in late May!

True to the pattern name (It's So Easy, It's Simplicity 2410), it was pretty easy to cut and sew. I had to make some adjustments to the waist size, which took me quite a bit of time to get it just right since the facing is intended to fit snugly around your middle (and it's been quite a few months since I altered a commercial pattern). But other than the tailoring bit, it could have easily been completed in one day.

It has a left side standard zipper, which I would change to an invisible zipper if I made the skirt again. I will probably always be wearing a shirt or light sweater that covers the facing area, so no one can see the zipper, but it's not the cleanest zipper insertion I've ever done, and I think the placement is better suited to an invisible type.

I really love the bottom flounce - it gives it that extra touch of girly-ness, and the not-quite-pink, not-quite-lavender color is perfect for spring and summer! The pattern called for a sash to tie around the facing, and while I did make it, I chose not to add it since it just seemed bulky without adding that much pizzazz.

The fabric is Cherry Blossom in Lavender from Bari J. Ackerman's In Full Bloom line. I love that fabric so much that I've got another three yards in the fabric closet!

There is another skirt cut out and partially sewn on my work table right now. My goal is to wear it Saturday, so I'll let you know if I get it finished on time :)


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