Sewing Classes and Lessons

Saturday, August 26, 2017

End of Summer Dresses with McCalls 7565

I hope that you've had a lovely summer!  I know that it's almost over according to the calendar, but I'm nowhere near done with summer!  It's been perfect weather here, and we're enjoying every last drop of it.  So, in the spirit of summer, I decided to make a couple more sleeveless dresses, even though I know that the clock is ticking on the time that I can wear them. 

For my first dress, I used a beautiful rayon challis in a floral print that reminds me of Van Gogh's Sunflowers.  I wanted a pattern that would flow gracefully to show of the challis' incredible movement, and I chose McCalls 7565. 
For the sunflower print, I made View B, which is the one with the hi-low hem. 

Even though I am tall (5 feet 9 inches), I actually had to cut off about 3" so that it wouldn't drag the ground.  I'm sure that this is because of the tendency of rayon to grow longer.  I  love the look, but I've discovered that that long hem gets caught underneath the rollers of my office chair at work, and I'm afraid that I will end of tearing it.  So, I think that I will probably end up straightening out the hem, just for practicality's sake.
 Here it is from the back.  You can see that it has a yoke and side seam pockets.  And this dress is so much fun to wear.  I can't stop swirling in it!

For my next dress, I decided to use a slightly bolder print- one that reminds me of suns in bright pinks and oranges.  Just to make them look a little different, I made this one with the cap sleeve, and with the straight hemline.  I did not have to do a full bust adjustment or length adjustment- this pattern has a lot of ease.  I would not choose a stiff fabric for it, or else you might look like you are wearing a tent!

 Yes, I know that the hem doesn't look very straight, but that is again the fault of the rayon and it's love for growing.  I could have evened it out, but I decided I liked the slight wave this way!
I got so many compliments on this one when I wore it to work!  It was a huge hit.

I really can't take all of the credit though.  The fabric is just really striking.  And so, so comfortable!
I am warming up to rayon challis.  I used to hate it, but now that I can predict it's behavior a little better, I am able to work with it, instead of against it.

I decided to wear this one belted, which cuts down on it's swirlability. but makes it look different from the first dress enough that I don't think anyone but you and I would know it's the same pattern!  Here they are side by side:

I'm sure that I can extend the season by wearing a cardigan with both of these dresses.  Are you still sewing summer clothes?  Or have you moved on in preparation for cooler weather?

Happy Sewing!

Monday, August 7, 2017

Silk Taffeta Pillows, Table Runner and Bias Dress

I love making pillow covers!  It's one of the first projects that I use with beginning sewing students because it is just so quick and rewarding.  And if you're like me and you constantly want to redecorate, changing pillow covers is a relatively low cost and easy way to bring a fresh look to a room.  Much more acceptable to hubby than new furniture or painting!

This time I was working with a very large plaid silk taffeta from Fabric Mart.  Since it was a large plaid, my first project with it was to make some queen size pillow shams.  They are the plaid ones in the back of the photo.  I also made the two printed ones in the center from a home dec fabric that I had in the stash for a while.. 

I wanted to make the covers removable with a zipper, and include a braided trim.  As luck would have it, I found a whole card of braided trim at an estate sale that worked with my taffeta for just $2!

To start, I used a zipper foot to stitch down the braided trim all around one side of the pillow. Then I serged a piece of lining fabric to the back of each side.  I don't think that you would have to line these, but I'm using down feather pillows, so I thought that the lining might be a barrier to feathers poking out.

For the corners, I trimmed the braided trim and wrapped tape around the ends so that they wouldn't ravel.  Then, I just pushed the edges together at a corner, so that after the pillow was turned, they would be on the inside, like this:

Then, I went back and sewed the zipper face down over the braided trim, as if it would be an invisible zipper.

This is what it looked like before I sewed them together.

And this is the zipper afterwards-you can just barely see it under the trim.

It's hard to capture the sheen on these pillows, but they are really quite beautiful and rich-looking in person!  Using so many pillows on a bed is a relatively new thing for me, and I found this interesting article on how to arrange pillows using different combinations.
I used 2-1/4 yards of the silk, and I lined them with 2-1/4 yards of drapery lining.  I had about a 12" wide piece of silk left from cutting the pillows, so I decided to make a table runner for our foyer table from it.

On the back side, I used the drapery lining, and did a similar thing with the braided trim.  I think that the braided trim really is a simple way to make things look high end.

I finished it just in time for a bridal shower that we were hosting, and another great coincidence- the letters of their names were painted in the same shade of green!

I wanted to make something to wear from the taffeta for the shower, but didn't want anyone to see the pillows and table runner, and be able to know that it was the same fabric- a Scarlet O'Hara situation!  So, I took a 2-1/2 yard piece of the taffeta, and dyed it with 2 Tbsp of navy blue fabric dye.  It absorbed the dye so fast, I couldn't believe how much it changed it!  It turned it into kind of a denimy blue with lavender accents.  Here is the before and after side by side:

The texture became a little limper, and slightly less shiny, but I definitely prefer it for less formal clothes.  It's been a million degrees here with unspeakable humidity, so I decided to make a  loose-fitting sleeveless dress that I could wear for the bridal shower.

Kwik Sew 3049

I found a simple a-line dress pattern, Kwik Sew 3049, with center front and back seams, so that I could cut it on the bias and match the plaid design.  From my previous experience working with silk taffeta in apparel, it doesn't have any "give" at all when wearing, so you need to be extra sure that you have enough ease in your garment to be comfortable.  So, I made this a size larger than my measurements indicated. 

I had a one yard package of lavender beaded trim that I used to accent the pockets and neckline, and used a self bias strip turned to the outside to finish the neck.  Even though it's simple, this was a technically challenging project to get everything to line up just so!

I got a lot of compliments on it at the shower, and one very nice surprise, was that it didn't wrinkle much at all!  These photos were taken after a very long day, setting up and then hosting the shower, and then even a nap afterwards, and there are really no more creases than there were to begin with!  The crinkly texture was there all along.

I still have some left, but three projects out of one fabric is enough for now!  It's time for me to move on to fall sewing, so today I'm cutting into some wool fabric today for a coat.  Living in 4 seasons gives us so much variety for sewing!

Happy Sewing!

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