I was one of the lucky ladies to be asked to do some pattern testing for by Hand London's new Flora dress. Somehow this is the first pattern that I have sewn of theirs, and I have certainly been missing out. I love the feminine silhouettes of their designs. They all feel young and on trend with just the slightest touch of retro inspiration. I have plans to make up their Charlotte skirt really soon too.
The flora dress is a fun party dress with a box pleated waistline. One thing that I love about the cut of this dress is that it is a cross between a circle skirt and a pleated skirt so it's much more flatterning - and less boxy or full around the waistline - than a normal pleated skirt. It hugs the hips perfectly and swishes when you walk - all of things you want in a good party dress. I chose to do the higher neckline version although I also think that the wrap top option is pretty great too.
I did make a couple of changes. Due to some pattern cutting error on my part, I ended up needing to scrap the back length. So in the end I just made the entire skirt knee length - I had to lengthen the front by a couple of inches too. I also added pockets. I love pockets in a dress, but I am wondering if I should have left them out. It does add a little bit of bulk to the hips which are otherwise very flat.
This beautiful fabric is from Mood NYC. I first spotted this fabric on a friend's instagram and couldn't get it out of my mind. It's very different than anything that I normally sew with so I had a few freak out moments about whether or not I had chosen wrong, but in the end I love it. It's a gorgeous soft linen with a beautiful drape. It's much more colorful than what I normally wear, but I love the color combo and the large scale of the print. I just feel so feminine when I wear this dress. It's so fun.
There have been so many amazing versions of this dress popping up around the internet. Check out By Hand London's pinterest account to keep track of them all. I am always amazed to see so many completely different versions of the same pattern.
p.s. It was 40 degrees when I did this photoshoot and I also had to change clothes on a balcony, in a side alley, crossing my fingers that none of my neighbors were watching. I get a good laugh just thinking about it.
I put together this tutorial for a cocoon cardigan for you and I am so excited about it. I love a loose fitting cardigan. It has everything I look for with a good layering piece. It's long enough in the back to wear with leggings, it's loose and drapey so that it's flattering, and it has a modern on trend silhouette. It's also very easy to make and here is how to make your own:
- 2 yards of knit fabric
- matching thread
- sewing machine
- serger (optional)
Step 1 - Cut your fabric into two rectangles that are 30" wide and 40" long. The most stretch should be along the 30" length.
Step 2 - On the inside top edge cut at curved line from 5 inches in and 10 inches down. (This will taper the top edge for the neck and shoulders.) Also cut a straight line 11 inches in from to top right corner to 18 inches down. Repeat a reflected version on the other piece of fabric.
Step 3 - With right sides together, sew the two pieces together at the center back. (I just serged this seam, but in retrospect it would look a lot nicer if you did a french seam.) Connect the new top right corner to the bottom right corner and the new top left corner to the bottom left corner. Sew together with right sides together to create a sleeve.
Step 4 - Measure up the sleeve seam from the point 5 inches and cut a vertical line through all layers to create the sleeve opening.
Step 5 - On both the armholes and the body opening turn back edge by 1/4" and then another 1" to create hems. Stitch at just under 1" to finish it. Because it is so oversized there really is no tension on these seams, so even though it is a knit fabric you can still do a basic straight stitch. (Because of the drape of this style you will most likely see these hems so make sure that they look nice.)
Step 6 - At the neck, sew a gathering stitch from the top to 6 inches down on the center back seam. Gather that stitch until it is 3 inches in length. Stitch on top of the gather to secure it.
The key to a good upcycle in my mind is being able to use a lot of the existing structure of the original item such as buttons, hems etc... otherwise it's really just sewing a new item with previously used fabric. I have had this old cardigan hanging in my closet for years. I think I bought it at Forever 21 once upon a time, wore it to death for a season, and then felt juvenile wearing it so it never left the hanger.
My son has been in desperate need of sweaters so I thought that this would be a good excuse to upcycle (or should it be called downcycle if you make a smaller version of something) it into a cardi for my little guy. The key was to leave all of the hard stuff in tact like buttonholes, buttons, hem, and neckline. I used a sweater that fit him to get the basic idea of sizing of each piece. Once I figured out how to cut it out it took a minimal amount of time to put it all back together.
Here is a pic of the pieces once I cut them all:
As far as sewing it up here are the instructions (sorry I didn't take pictures, but I think it's simple enough that you probably don't need them):
1- Sew fronts to back at shoulder seam.
2- Open front and back pieces flat and sew on the sleeves.
3- Starting at the wrist, sew up sides from wrist to underarm to hem (without waistband).
4- Fold back about 1/2 inch on both front ends of waistband. Keeping them folded, attach the top of the waistband to the bottom of the main cardigan.
5- Now sew the front edges of the waistband to the edge of the buttonband.
6- Turn up and hem the buttonband to be flush with the waistband.
And here is the end result. A very quick and satisfying project.
And the photoshoot is over :(
I had a wonderful experience with Organic Cotton Plus when I reviewed some of their cotton knit last summer so I was very excited when they contacted me again to try out some of their other fabrics. I have been wanting to make my daughter a classic jacket for the spring so I knew that this would be the perfect opportunity to do so. I chose to use their 100% organic cotton twill in chili pepper red. It's a beautiful, sturdy fabric. It washed up well and has the perfect amount of crispness for such a project. I was very excited about the color once it arrived as well - a deep red that looks rich and classic, although I must admit that it was a hard decision to choose a color (I love this honey and olive color as well). Not only am I thrilled with how the jacket turned out, but I also love the fact that I know that the fabric that it is created with is an eco-friendly product, and a healthy choice for her skin.
Materials Used: The main fabric is 100% Organic Cotton Twill in Chili Pepper Red from Organic Cotton Plus. I lined the jacked with some cotton from my stash in this fun NYC map print.
Sizing: One of the best things about this pattern is the sizing. My daughter measured right as a 4T according to their chart and the jacket actually fits her correctly. It has a nice slim cut to it too. This never happens with big name pattern companies so I was very pleasantly surprised.
Changes Made: I cut 1/8"off of the outside edge of the bottom collar piece to help it roll correctly (something that I picked up at patternmaking class). I also omitted the back tab and shifted the button placement so that the bottom on was about 2 inches lower.
The Good: I really love the fit and design of this jacket. It's super classic and chic. I am made at myself for cutting straight into the pattern because I can see myself making my daughter a new one of these every spring in a new fabric. Once again I am just so pleased with the fit.
The Bad: Oh man, the directions were just bad. Especially when it came to the collar. I feel like I pretty much just had to figure it out myself. So consider yourself warned that if you are going to make this pattern make sure that you are a patient person. There is also a lot of hand sewing especially when it comes to hemming and it gets a little tricky doing so with the lining.
Conclusion: Despite the bad instructions I will certainly be making this one again. I am very excited about the end result and I can't wait for it to get a bit warmer so that she can wear it.
I get a certain attachment to the things that I make. Sure, they are not perfect, but we have a history. A lot of blood, sweat, and tears went into them. Not to mention money! I can look at the items that I made a few years ago and see how far I have come. It is fun to see my knit finishes pre-serger and my buttonholes before I owned a machine that helped with that. There is a story behind each garment.
All of that being said, we do not have a lot of closet space and there are lots of items that I have made that just don't fit right, are out of style, or I just don't wear. The problem is that I have a really hard time letting go of them. So they continue to hang in my closet, taking up space, and not getting worn.
So I wonder, do you guys have the same problem?
Do you hold onto the items that you make long after their normal lifecycle?
How do you convince yourself to part with the items that you no longer have a need for?
When you do part with them how do you go about it?