Polka-Dot Kalle Shirtdress

Polka-Dot Kalle Shirtdress

I love a good shirtdress. In fact, shirts and shirtdresses are what I’ve sewn the most in the past year or so. I have an assortment of shirtdress patterns in my library, but I still couldn’t pass up trying Closet Case Pattern’s Kalle shirt/shirtdress. Especially after seeing the version made up by True Bias! It looked so effortless and comfortable. Luckily, I’d have this polka-dotted shirting fabric in my stash waiting for the perfect pattern to shine.

 

I adore this dress. I wanted to wear it so badly, that I used the snaps in my stash rather than waiting to run to the shop for a set of buttons! It’s comfortable, breezy, and I still feel well put together when I wear it. It has versatility to be worn in the fall with tights, a belt, and sweater, or in the summer with sandals! Not to mention the other versions, the tunic to wear over leggings or the crop top for just about everything! And the neckline variations of the band collar, popover placket, or hidden placket. Speaking of which… there might be a band collar popover placket cropped shirt coming up soon.

I sewed up a size 10 with no changes to the fit of the pattern. The shape and fit of the sleeve/sleeve band is great. I know that some bloggers found the thigh curve to be too high, but I like it as drafted because it feels like it allows for leg movement.

Between my husband’s and my taste in clothing, I’ve become admittedly pretty good at a collar and button placket! The directions were written out well, and the sew-along was great with further clarification. I was pleasantly surprised when this pattern was still able to teach me something. One of the things that slows me down when sewing a collar is ensuring that the top stitching catches the under collar. I’d ensure this with hand sewing the seams together, which disrupts my sewing flow and slows me down. The Kalle directions recommend using iron-on hem tape or fabric glue to hold it in place, then top stitching. This worked like a charm! It was fast and clean, everything was held in place like I wanted it. I’ll definitely be using this technique again.

I have a popover placket shirt Kalle cut out and half sewn on my sewing table currently. I couldn’t even wait a month before starting another one! So expect to see that shortly.

Mustard Laurel Dress

Mustard Laurel Dress

I love the design of the Laurel. It’s simple, streamlined shift dress pattern has 3/4 sleeves (my favorite), and a sleek design. I fell in love with Fiona’s black Laurel, and wanted to create my own. I picked out my fabric based on the recommendations, and was ready to liven up my wardrobe of natural colors with a pop of mustard.

Unfortunately, this dress has turned into one of those dresses that theoretically should have been great, but just flopped. It doesn’t feel flattering when I wear it at all. I had to take in the hips by 1/2 in on each side because it was ballooning around me, and now it clings to my stomach and makes me feel 20 lbs heavier. It was doing this before my alteration, but afterwards it was much worse. I’m admittedly pulling in my stomach as much as possible for these photos, for the sake of my dignity.

Adding a belt makes it better! But something about it makes it miss the mark.  The crepe should have been nice and drapey, allowing for a cozy shift dress to wear with tights and boots. Instead it ends up just, blah. I’m contemplating chopping off the bottom, opening up the side seams, and making this a top in an attempt to save it. Only time will tell! Until then, this sits in the back of my closet.

In the future, I may try this pattern again in a black crepe to try and create my own Laurel like Fiona’s. I fear it’ll take many more alterations to make it into something I’ll feel comfortable in. I’m considering loosening the hips again so it’s not sitting on my tum, and taking in the waist and back darts for a more flattering fit. But for now, it goes on the back burner while I try and alter the Archer to be my perfect shirt!

That’s a Wrap! – SOI Ultimate Wrap Dress

That’s a Wrap! – SOI Ultimate Wrap Dress

Since I graduated, I’ve started a new job! The training however has left me exhausted every evening. I barely have enough energy to motivate myself to do yoga and make dinner, not even considering picking up a new sewing project. Luckily, I’ve been settling in rather quickly and chose something that wasn’t particularly challenging, but I had been on my list for quite some time.

This fabric has been in my stash since our wedding in 2015. It sat in the sun for a year waiting for me to remember it, and as it sat picked up quite a few bleached out sun spots. The burn out floral pattern also meant that it would have to be doubled up to not expose myself, so I’d need a more structured knit pattern. I had picked up the Sew Over It Ultimate Wrap Dress pattern during a sale many months ago, and thought I’d give it a go!

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I stitched all my seams with a narrow zigzag (stretch setting on my machine is my favorite, it’s like a little lightning bolt) so that the seams would stretch with my movement.

Overall, this was a nice, easy make for me to pick up a half hour at a time after work. I doubled up the fabric for the body pieces, and stayed with only a single layer for the sleeves. I like how the wrap works and how long the belting pieces are. However, I found a bit of gaping at the bust and felt a little boobalicious. It kept feeling like I had too much gaping fabric across the front of my chest, and I’d want to pull the belt even tighter. Next time, I’ll adjust this distance by removing about 1 inch from the faced front section.

Because of the thinness of the knit, the facing also wasn’t very structurally stable and has a tendency to roll out of the garment. I have to be super careful to place it properly when wearing this dress! Once it’s in place though, it stays pretty well.

I really do enjoy this dress. It feels like wearing PJs all the time, and I’m still looking like I have my shit together. That’s a win for me!

Summery Linen M6696

Summery Linen M6696

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Out of all of my dresses, my olive green M6696 has the most wear. It’s versatile to wear through multiple seasons, looks put together without being stuffy, and it’s super comfortable from the full skirt and pockets.

I wanted another version of it with a more breathable summer fabric. I found this beautiful textured black-and-white linen on Fabric.com, and bought enough of it to make myself this dress and my husband a shirt out of it. It is truly a lovely fabric, has a good weight, and takes to the iron very well.

I decided to add a full collar onto this one (my prior had only the collar band), and the collar feels a bit large. However, I’ll never wear it fully buttoned so this doesn’t bother me. It does make me wonder why the neckline is so large compared to the rest of the garment?

I’ve run into an issue with easing the pleats into the waist band on both my renditions of this dress. It makes me wonder if I traced my pattern pieces poorly, or if it was an error in the drafting. Considering other bloggers haven’t commented about this, I assume it’s a personal problem. I resolved this by adding a slight extra pleat over each of the side seams, where the extra fabric is easily concealed.

I can see myself getting a lot of wear out of this piece this summer. The linen is soft, breathable, and the fit allows for me to not feel like I’m drowning in the Iowa heat and humidity.

Miss Frizzle Costume

Miss Frizzle Costume

In this family, Halloween is a big deal. There’s always a big party and we stay up into the wee hours of the night drinking beer and chatting around a bon fire. Being in Minnesota, it’s generally pretty cold at night and I keep this in mind when choosing my costume for the year. This year, my husband and I decided to be TV scientists. I fulfilled my childhood dream of being a bad ass magical scientist, and he went with Rick Sanchez from Rick and Morty.

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I had been planning out this costume for a long time, because a Miss Frizzle costume had been a dream of mine for years. When we settled on this for our costumes, I was pumped and went straight to looking for the perfect microbiology fabric. Alas, the best microbiology fabrics were on Spoonflower and that’s simply outside my budget. So I settled for this amazing geology themed fabric from Fabric.com.

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In order to fulfill my Miss Frizzle dreams, the pattern was heavily altered, with a base of McCalls 6696 changed to be a half shirt dress, hacked together with the sleeves from McCalls 6989. I added the sleeves by tracing the sleeve cap from the three quarter sleeve view of 6696, slicing it to be the two piece sleeve like 6989, then tracing the sleeve portion from 6989.

Using stills from the Magic School Bus TV show as reference, I saw that a feature of all of her wild dresses include the contrasting white collar, placket, and cuffs. For the placket, I went for a close second, by making it  a contrasting half shirt dress. I followed these instructions for converting it to a half shirt dress, which worked quite well. I selectively chose the sleeve pattern for 6989 because they included cuffs, so this was simple to do.

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I removed a total of 6″ from the skirt front and back due to the width of my fabric, and attached them with gathers rather than pleats as is used in the original 6696 pattern. The amount of extra fabric in the back was also reduced by 4 inches, though it could have used further adjustment as it still felt poofy.  In order to be able to carry my phone throughout the Halloween party, I added a pocket on the side without the zipper. I followed this tutorial on a Male Pattern Boldness’s method of attaching a collar, which worked absolutely beautifully. I had never used this method before, and frankly I’m glad I didn’t start with it because it makes me appreciate the ease and simplicity so much more.

All in all, I love the dress and am so happy that I fulfilled my scientist teacher dreams this Halloween!

Moneta Frenzy

Moneta Frenzy

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Before I started consistently sewing for myself, my wardrobe of dresses was largely composed of knit dresses. They’re easy to throw on, comfortable, and have ease in the fabric for when you eat too much at the summer BBQ. Not to mention they wash up super easily and there’s so many different design directions you can go with them.

After a few years of dabbling with the big four patterns, I fell in love with indie sewing pattern companies. One of my favorite companies is Colette, who not only produce wonderful sewing patterns but also release tutorials, sew alongs, and one of my favorite things ever, Seamwork Magazine. The Moneta pattern was released with Seamwork Magazine, and has since become a standby for many seamstresses. It is a beautiful knit dress with a fitted top and gathered skirt at the natural waist. It even has pockets! The dress comes with three sleeve length variations and a free kit with a variety of necklines. It’s an all around winner. 

I had a lovely time sewing up my first Moneta. I used a purple, floral knit from the Joann Fabrics red tag clearance section. I used size S on the top, and size M on the bottom, grading between the sizes for the bodice. The instructions were very clear, and there’s even a sew along online if you have any questions about the construction! The neckline, armband, and hem were all finished with a twin needle. I had some issues of it not laying flat, despite lowering the bobbin tension. I thought that a steamy ironing would fix it but after it went through the wash, it bubbled up again. I eventually fixed this on my next Moneta, by decreasing the bobbin tension all the way down to 1. It might have also been a fabric issue.

Sewing the clear elastic in the waist can be a challenge. My machine is pretty strong and can handle the tension needed to stretch the elastic while feeding it into the machine, but I pined it twice as much as the pattern recommends (1/8ths rather than 1/4ths) which definitely helped the even gathering.

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My second Moneta was made up with a rayon blend from Joanns, with the three quarter sleeve and tie neck variations. I found this fabric to be a challenge because despite being so thin, it has a heavy drape. Also it didn’t take ironing the knit interfacing very well and has some iron marks on the neckline now (noo!). Because of the thinness of the fabric, I’ll likely wear a slip or shapewear underneath to cover all my lovely lumps and bumps.

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I really like this version for fall, and can see it being worn with a variety of tights and boots already in my closet. I have fabric in my stash for one more Moneta, this time it’ll have a peter pan collar though. So look forward to more variations of this pattern!

Grey Twill Shirtdress

Grey Twill Shirtdress

So often when it comes to sewing, you dream up beautiful ideas of flouncy dresses that have no place in your normal, day-to-day life. And that’s fine! It’s fun to dream big and play dress up with your sewing machine once in a while. But there’s only so many pretty dresses you can make before they overwhelm your closet. I’ve been making more of an effort to make pieces that are versatile and good for daily wear in my wardrobe. For me, this means dress shirts and shirt dresses that can be layered throughout the year.

I made this garment as a test for shirt dress construction, as I have had no previous experience with it. This was made with the McCall’s 6885, which has one of the most dreadful photos on the front. I don’t know what they were thinking with the floral dress and matching hat! It looks awful. If they had featured the chambray illustration it would be much more appealing. I made the short sleeve variation, out of a fabric that has been in my stash for many years. I don’t remember why I had bought this fabric originally, but it’s a thick grey twill from the S.R. Harris fabric depot in Minnesota.

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I indicated all of the pattern markings using tailor’s tacks, which helped as the placket attachment can become quite a hassle. Reflecting back on this, I should have started with the Grainline’s Alder shirt dress as that pattern has much more clear instructions. Overall, the placket went on quite nicely. I had some issues with the collar stay being longer than the neckline/placket, likely due to imprecise sewing. I also used the straight hem variation rather than the curved hem, as I had read from other bloggers that the curve comes up quite high on the thigh.

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After completing the garment, I found that the shoulders and short sleeves felt tight. This, with the heaviness of the fabric, makes me feel super claustrophobic when I wear it and since it’s been completed, it’s never been worn. I can’t move my arms back or forwards without it pulling on the front or back and being uncomfortable. I believe that I may try a rescue operation on the dress, removing the short sleeves and finishing the armhole with bias binding. Into the UFO pile it goes… Next time, I’ll make it sleeveless and/or consider a lighter cotton or flannel eventually and maybe put a yoke in the back with some gathers underneath to allow for arm movement.

Despite being unwearable, I consider it a learning experience, which I was glad to have on a fabric that has been in my stash for ages!