Beatrix X 2

Despite the absence of grown-up sewing on this blog for a long while, I have been sewing for myself quite a bit over the past few months.  But somehow, asking my (very obliging) husband to take photos of me and then posting them on the internet is not always on the top of my list of favorite things to do, so I’ve been holding out.

Now, it’s time to come clean and show you what I’ve been up to.

Made By Rae, Beatrix TopHere are two versions of the Beatrix Top from Made By Rae, which came out this past summer.

My fabrics are Aloe Vera Voile in lime from Anna Maria Horner and gorgeous Nani Iro double gauze.

Made By Rae, Beatrix TopI think this is a great pattern — very similar to the Scout Tee by Grainline Studios, but less boxy with the addition of darts.

Made By Rae, Beatrix TopDon’t you love the shape of the shirttail hem?

The button placket on the back adds a lot of interest, and can be made in a contrast fabric. It’s also surprisingly simple to put together.

Made By Rae, Beatrix TopFor the double gauze version, I used little hand painted wooden buttons that my (crazily thoughtful) husband gave me for my birthday.  They’re just perfect, don’t you think?

The fit is very forgiving for those of us who have a thicker post baby mid-section, which is always a relief 🙂

Made By Rae, Beatrix TopAnother nice thing about this pattern is that you don’t need to unbutton it to pull it on and off over your head.  I’m thinking of making one with the back in one piece, much like the Scout Tee, but with a better fit.

Made By Rae, Beatrix TopI was a good citizen and made a muslin.  I ended up with a medium, without any adjustments.  The voile version behaved just as the muslin did, and I left the sizing as is.

But the double gauze Beatrix turned out to be wildly larger than the voile in the width. It’s crazy how different fabrics behave!  I took that one in quite a bit on the sides, and could probably stand to take in a bit more.

Another thing I noticed with the double gauze is that, despite diligent use of interfacing, the placket very quickly looks a bit pulled at the buttons — even though it’s not tight at all. A possible solution might be to sew the placket pieces together down the center back together so the buttons are actually not functional.  What do you think?

Made By Rae, Beatrix TopOk, that wasn’t too painful.  I’ll be back soon with more of me!!!

Deer & Doe Plantain Tunic

Due to the craziness of life, I missed the boat on Selfish Sewing Week, hosted by Imagine Gnats.  But, since I have a moment now, I thought I’d let you in on a project I whipped up a few weeks ago for myself.

Deer and Doe Plantain

Once I decided to go back to work part time, I knew that a bunch of old cardigans from Target and jeans caked with whatever was on the kitchen floor this morning would not make the most suitable wardrobe for facing a room full of undergrads.  I took a look around me to see what adults are wearing these days and headed to the mall.  I ended up with mostly sweaters and sweater dresses that hit just above the knee and leggings, paired with boots.  I really like this look — it’s stylish, easy to wear and pretty low maintenance.  It’s also ok to wear while jumping on the trampoline with toddlers at gymnastics before heading to work in the afternoon.

When it looked like I’d have a little time for sewing again, I decided to try and sew up something like it for myself to add to my new spiffy wardrobe.

Deer and Doe Plantain

I immediately turned to my favorite t-shirt pattern, the Plantain from Deer & Doe (it’s a free pattern, people!).  I’ve made several versions that I wear all the time, but have never blogged about for some reason, so this seemed like a good place to start.  The nice thing about this particular t-shirt is that it flares out a bit in the mid section, which is a plus for those of us who’ve given birth a time or two and are not, shall we say, as “pulled together” as we once were 😉

All I did to transform this shirt into a tunic was to decide how long I wanted it to be and extend the line of the pattern, following the curve.  That’s it.  I really like the result and will surely try it again.

Deer and Doe PlantainThe knit fabric here is Teagan White’s Peonies in mint from the Acorn Trail line.  I sewed up a size 42.

After making this with several different kinds of knit, I have run into problems with the neckline when using interlock, which is thicker and less stretchy than jersey.  For some reason, the neckline turns out a little bit too low for me with interlock.  Maybe the absence of any kind of spandex or other really stretchy stuff causes the neck to stretch out more — who knows?

This happened with my last version in Anna Maria Horner’s gorgeous Mary Thistle Knit in saffron, and I thought it was a fluke.

Deer and Doe Plantain

Nope, it happened again here.

Deer and Doe Plantain

It’s really only a problem when I lean over.  But still.

I really do prefer interlock for this pattern, as it doesn’t cling as much as knit with spandex.  So, I’ll just try cutting the neckline about 1″ higher next time.

Deer and Doe Plantain

My solution with this tunic and my Anna Maria Horner top is to pair it with a scarf.  Here, you see the infinity scarf I crocheted for myself last winter while I had the flu.  Normally, I am not a knitter or crocheter in any way, but Delia’s pattern that showed up on her blog a year or so ago was too tempting to pass over.  It was actually very easy and very fast to make.  I wear it all the time, and it was definitely worth the effort.

Deer and Doe Plantain

Now that the snow is just about melted around here, it’s nice to have some new clothes to take me in to spring.  I have a couple of other things on the sewing table that I hope to have to show you soon . . .

Life with Laurel

In honor of Selfish Sewing Week, I bring to you not just one, but two incarnations of the Laurel by Colette.  One is the Laurel in dress form in Anna Maria Horner Pretty Potent Echinacea in rayon challis.  The other is a blouse version in Nani Iro double gauze.  (Full Disclosure:  I made the top a couple of weeks ago — but the dress is a 100% Selfish Sewing Weeker, cut out on Monday and finished on Friday.)

Presentation1

(Yes, it’s weird to see two photos of yourself side by side.  One is awkward enough, but this is just over the top.)

I’d like to start by saying that this pattern is the bomb.  All three times I’ve made this (there was another top made last spring), I’ve cut out a size 8, and the fit has been spot on with no futzing at all.  There are horizontal darts at the bust and vertical darts in the back that give just enough fit to be flattering, but is forgiving enough to be easy to wear.

If you’re thinking of making your own Laurel, I highly recommend getting yourself a 1/2 inch Clover bias tape maker.  To make the keyhole neckline version, you need about 4 yards of the stuff, so don’t fool around.

tacony-BTM12_size2

I had several of these in various sizes before starting my first Laurel, but somehow none of them were 1/2″.  Crap.  Instead of waiting until I could get my hands on the right tool (which would have been the right thing to do, but I’m incapable of waiting once I’m ready to start something), I decided to make the bias tape the old fashioned way — folding the whole thing in half, pressing, folding one edge in toward the center, pressing, folding the other edge in toward the center, pressing, then folding the whole thing in half and pressing again.

After singeing my fingers numerous times in the steam and contemplating killing myself a time or two before getting through the several yards of bias tape required, I vowed never to do that again.  So, I ordered the bias tape maker in the proper size this time, and voila — in no time I had a huge amount of perfectly folded and pressed bias tape without any burns or thoughts of suicide.

20140927_143518

As soon as I saw this echinacea print in rayon, I knew I was destined to make a Laurel Dress with it.  Rayon challis has a fab drape, totally perfect for dresses and tops.  It’s a little on the slippery side, so you have to be on your toes when cutting and pinning.  But otherwise it’s a no brainer — throw it in the washing machine on delicate, dry it on low, and it looks spiffy as soon as you pull it out of the drier — my kind of fabric.  When the Pretty Potent line came out this summer, I was so happy to see some rayon in the mix. These echinachea blooms are so gorgeous — they make me think of the sound of cicadas in the last evenings of summer.

Another cool thing about Laurel is that the folks at Colette provide a free e-book of full of fantastic variations with photos and complete instructions.  I decided on the keyhole neckline variation on both the top and dress.  (The original pattern has a plain neckline finished in bias tape.)  For the dress, I did cut the keyhole about an inch shorter than the pattern piece included in the e-book.  As you will soon see, the original size of the pattern piece produces a rather plunging view through the keyhole on me 🙂

20140927_143136

Another plus with the keyhole neckline is that you have a great excuse to finish all that bias tape with your machine, rather than hand stitching it, which is what Colette recommends for the plain neckline.  I mean, you could machine finish the plain neckline too and no one would be the wiser —  but it’s nice to not feel like you’re cheating.

Here’s the tricky part . . . I knew I wanted to be sure to match the print in the back center seam, so as not to have hacked-up flowers all the way down the back.  I was pretty nervous about it.  Between the slipperiness and the invisible zipper, I wasn’t sure I’d be up to the job.  But, I gathered up my courage, re-read this cool tutorial, and went for it.

I spent about ten times longer cutting those back pieces than I have for any other project. I could literally feel the sweat coming down as the rotary cutter met the fabric.  I was so relieved when it came out pretty well — not perfect, but good enough for me.

20140927_143116

And, it must be said that invisible zippers are nothing to fear, as long as you have a handy invisible zipper foot (which is not the same as a regular zipper foot).  The pattern instructions send you to a a great tutorial on the Colette site, complete with photos, written instructions and a super video that really take the mystery out of the whole thing.

One more thing I’ll tell you about this dress is that I used a blind hem for the first time. The instructions advise you to do it by hand.  But I happen to have a brand new blind hem foot, so I thought I’d give it a go.  I also checked out this tutorial for moral support. Turns out that it’s easy and pretty darn cool.

So, with the mostly matched up print in the back and the fact the husband says I rock this dress, I’m pretty happy.

20140927_143109

Now for the top . . .

20140927_144234

I, like everyone else in sewing world, think that double gauze is dreamy.  This is a very nice way to use it.  However, I would not recommend using it for that famous bias tape.  I did it here, because I couldn’t find a solid that was just the right color, and I didn’t want to take away from the awesomeness and subtle coloration of those dots.  Maybe things would have gone better if I had used spray starch — but  folding it, pressing it and sewing it was pretty much a thready nightmare.  And, truthfully, my new bias tape maker hadn’t been ordered yet, so you know what that means.  I prefer to forget the whole experience.

But, once I got passed all that, it was lots of fun to put together.  No patterns to match, no zippers to install, no loss of sleep.

20140927_144239

Oh, and here’s what happens when I use the full length of the keyhole cutout pattern piece . . .

20140927_143957

The ties obscure things a bit, but suffice it to say that I will avoid standing next to any very tall persons while wearing this top.

20140927_144124

So that’s my story about Laurel.  I hope you had fun sewing something fabulous for yourself this week!