Friday, April 17, 2015

Remaking my TNT Dress Pattern - The Woven Version

After making a ponte version of my TNT dress pattern, I pulled a lightweight silk/wool twill border print from the collection for my next version.  This is another one of those Fabric Mart purchases made during the frenzy of a 40% off sale. It was purchased in August 2014 which means it had a pretty short stint in the fabric collection.

I chose this fabric for the next version because I'm trying to make better fitting dresses that will stand out.  I own plenty of solid colored cardigans that can be worn with them since this is my go to outfit for work.

The challenge for this dress ~ making sure the border print works all the way around the hem of the dress. The fabric is only 44" wide - probably why I purchased 3 yards instead of my normal 2 - and the pattern pieces hang over an inch at the hemline. 

To handle this challenge, I used a single pattern piece layout on the fabric. This meant that I had to make additional pattern pieces for the center back and side back pieces.

Making second copies of the back pieces

Laying the pieces out side by side on the fabric

So the front was cut on the fold and the back pieces were cut singly to insure that the border print worked all the way around the dress.

Construction ~
The only thing I did differently with this dress vs. the ponte version is to use 3/8" seams from the waistline down. The dress fit with the 5/8" seam allowances but I hate when a dress cups the bottom of my abdomen. By using 3/8" seam allowances on every seam instead of the 5/8" I gave the dress just enough space to skim over my body.

I added a red piping at the neckline because you know that I like to end/contain a print in a dress and it always adds a finishing.

The dress is lined with a bemberg lining and closed with a regular center back zipper insertion. I was going to do an exposed zipper then decided that there was too much going on. I didn't want the zipper to overwhelm the dress.

I believe that the upper back fits better here than it did on the ponte dress.

So I'm going to keep using this type of back going forward because I will make more of these dresses. It's a silhouette that I'm comfortable wearing and it works for my lifestyle. It's also a great jumping off place to make interpretations and to use as a basis for fitting new dress patterns.

My plan is to try some new dress silhouettes this year. Primarily because my sewing was so lazy last year and also because I own a lot of patterns. I should take some of them out of their envelopes and pair them with my vast fabric collection, dontcha think?!

Photos ~

Next up I'm remaking my TNT straight skirt. I use to wear a lot of skirts. Once I got a little heavier, I would wear them occasionally but I lost the love for them. After making the brocade skirt I decided that I would like a few more in the wardrobe. Especially since almost every skirt without an elastic waist is too big for me now. I'm packing them up to be donated so a huge portion of my wardrobe is missing.

Two items are off my spring sewing list - the skirt is the third thing and then I think I'm deviating from the list!  Yes, I know...but it's for a dress and some fabric that's making me catch my breathe.  Then I'm going back to the list for the next item.

Finally a parting shot ~
I bought these shoes in 2012 and wore them for one season again because everything just bloated up on me. Now I don't seem to own a pair of shoes that doesn't fit again.  So these are back in rotation.  They are Jones NY Shoes with a 3 inch heel and a foot pad that makes them so comfortable and easy to wear. always more later!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Spring Trends - Gingham in McCalls 6506

I started this dress three years ago when it was new to the pattern catalog and blogged about it here. Every spring since then I've pulled it out and looked at it and every time I've hung it back on the wall with the rest of the UFOs. There were too many ideas, too many things that I wanted to make so it hung there waiting.

McCalls 6506 - OOP

Lately I've been looking at garments differently. Most of my UFOs are fit problems that I thought I would solve later. Well later has arrived for this one because when I pulled it down last week and tried it on, I couldn't believe it fit. Gawd, at least here is one benefit to the weight loss!

Honestly there are some challenges with the bodice because if I'd cut it now I would have cut a C cup bodice because both my bustline and bra size have changed. I also would have included the waistline darts that the pattern features. However I was able to made it work.

I know that I linked to my pattern alterations in an earlier post but reviewing them now I'm thrilled with the changes I made. Lately it seems as if I've lost my mind, not remembering simple pattern alterations, because I'm so overwhelmed by fitting challenges. So it's good to know that if I just settle down hopefully all of that will come back!

Here's the finished dress...

The changes I made to the pattern...

If you notice there is no collar on my version. It's not because I couldn't make the collar fit, but because when I tried the dress on again I liked it collarless. 

So I drafted new facings for the dress front and omitted the front band since I was going in a different direction...

Facings for the bodice front

Front band facing for the skirt

Added them to the front...

Removed the pockets from the front because I wasn't feeling them and I'm really not a pocket kinda girl.

Used a store bought belt instead of the self tie belt with the pattern.

Now as excited as I was about this dress when I realized it fit, I'm as unexcited about it now. Even if I'd finished this dress exactly as the pattern describes, I wouldn't have liked it. What I became aware of is that I don't like this silhouette on me. It's probably why I have so few dresses like this.

It's interesting. People see you and think one thing or another NOT realizing that you don't see yourself that way.  AND no matter what they think, it won't change how you see yourself. I like and prefer to wear a slimmer silhouette. In my mind's eye, that's how I look best. So I will probably wear this dress, just very infrequently because it's sooooo not me!

Up next is another version of my TNT dress.  This time in a woven fabric (ltwt. wool/silk blend) using the four piece back pattern pieces to address my upper back fitting issues.

Parting Shots... always more later!

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Additions to the Sewing Cave

I don't know about you but I'm always adding or changing things in my sewing cave. Most changes are minor these days.  Pieces that add organization and make it easier to stuff more things into the cave! 

I added three new things:

New storage unit for patterns ~
Whenever I use a new pattern or make another adaptation to my TNT patterns they get a new folder. I've used letter or legal sized folders in the past but I've found that I really like the legal expandable folders best. So I bought a box of 50 legal folders and a new plastic bin from Walmart to store them. I've also rearranged the area under the table to accommodate the shelving.

Under the computer table - new pattern storage, hangers and notions storage

Under the sewing machine table - yes, those are my snow boots!

Lighting ~
I've been wanting more light by my serger for awhile now...something similar to the Ott Lite that I bought to go by my sewing machine. When I got an email from Wawak that they had this Ott Lite on special for $59.99 I jumped on it. Well after I went to Amazon and checked to see what pricing they had. This new Ott table light is adding brightness to my serger area now.

New lamp behind the serger

Although now that it's in place, I might switch it and the Ott light behind the sewing machine.  I have to work with them a little more so that I can see what will work best.  

Between the Ott lights and the 100 watt bulbs in all of my regular lamps its very bright in the sewing cave...which is really helpful when I'm sewing into the wee hours of the night!

Sewing Machine Needles ~
Can I say that I HATE those little packs of sewing machine needles! I'm always looking for the way to own the most needles as possible, at one time. I've used gift certificates from internet sewing sites to buy sewing needle packs ~ always looking for a larger package.  Then I was on Amazon a couple weeks ago and found these...

I mostly use size 80 needles so it was a no brainer to buy the pack of 100 in that size.  When they arrived I realized that I will also need the size 70 and the size 90 in the 100 packs too. They will show up shortly and be added to the workroom supplies. Now I will only have specialty sewing machine needles in the smaller packs but I can deal with that! 

I guess nothing is static and my sewing cave is ever evolving, changing to meet my sewing needs and challenges!

If you've noticed I've really been in the mood to sew lately and have been turning out quite a few items...but hey I need clothing that fits! I even have a sewing list for spring/summer garments but I limited it to five items. That way it's an achievable list that can always be added to.

Next up on the blog is a UFO that I've pulled off the wall and made work for spring. always more later!

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Spring Trends - Neutrals and White on White

When I was working on the white ponte top, I knew that I was either going to make a pair of pants or a skirt to match the top.  There wasn't enough fabric to make pants so I went with the skirt. I chose the four gore skirt to use the remaining fabric up leaving no scraps.

It was a little windy when we took these pictures but I loved 
how the wind gave the skirt movement!

This is my TNT four gore skirt pattern that still works primarily because the skirt has an elastic waistline. I could have gone with a straight or pencil skirt but I already had that silhouette in the brocade pieces and I didn't want both outfits to be that similar.

Now there are some vanilla/off white pieces in the closet made back in 2012 - but only the skirts have survived. It will be nice to have this skirt in two different fabrications this year for the spring/summer season.

Okay a little info about this skirt:
  • It's unlined
  • The seams are stitched down on either side to add a little sumthin' sumthin' to the skirt
  • The hemline is machine stitched also
It was an easy sew that hits on another one of the spring trends!

Some pics...

The jacket is RTW from Isaac Mizrahi's QVC line.

Next I'm working on a UFO that I've resurrected and will make my second spring piece. Then I'm going back to my TNT dress pattern. I'm definitely in a sewing mood although I didn't include a casual look with this post because it's basically the same look that I shared last time just with a RTW jacket. always more later!

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Happy Resurrection Sunday!

Normally I have at least one daughter with me for Easter with a big family dinner at home.  This year all of my children and their families have gone their own way, so I had dinner out with my Mom and Sister.

I just wanted to share what I decided to wear for Easter services this year ~

My Vogue 1370 dress ~ all the information about the dress' construction is here. May I also say that in the past there was some serious foundation garments worn with this dress, as well as, some serious sucking in of my stomach. Now I'm only wearing control top pantyhose under the dress and can't believe how much better it fits. 

It's starting to warm up in my neighborhood so I went with something a little different. Normally I wear something pastel for Easter, but this year I wanted something a little more dramatic.

I hope that you and your family had a wonderful Easter Sunday filled with family, love and a little bit of the God you serve.  Me, I'm making a big bowl of popcorn and heading to the family room to watch The Ten Commandments because it just ain't Easter if Moses doesn't part the Red Seas! always more later!  

Saturday, April 04, 2015

Thinking about Spring Sewing

I think spring is finally peeking it's head above the last of the snow since the trees are starting to grow I guess thinking about spring sewing is okay now. Especially since my new wearable muslin dress was made from a floral print which is one of the trends for spring.

Personally I love florals. I have quite a few pieces of fabric in the collection in vivid floral prints, so there will definitely be more garments sewn from them this spring/summer. 

All of the pictures in this post were taken from the Spring 2015 Full Beauty magazine. I needed some examples of garments on plus size women because I have enough challenges with fit this season!

The other trends for Spring/Summer 2015:

White on White ~

I've recently made a white top, Vogue 8209, and next up on my cutting table is the white ponte to make a four gore flippy skirt to go with the top. This will be a great white on white outfit that will go with any number of cardigans in my wardrobe.

Pastel Power ~

Not only is this shown as a pastel but a pastel print in the pants. I've been on the fence about printed pants for my plus size body. Don't know if I'm still going to indulge but this does make me rethink my stance.

Highstyle Jumpsuits ~

I know jumpsuits are hot, hot, hot right now...and I guess I should get on the jumpsuit train...but I wore this once...and I have some not so pleasant memories of trying to wiggle out of them in the ladies room. So even though there are a couple of cute jumpsuit patterns and I even own one...this is a wait and see if I have enough time to sew one this season.

Neutral Terrority ~

Is it just me or does this feel like a repeat.  There were plenty of patterns like this in the pattern catalogues a couple of years ago and probably still in your pattern stashes.

Brights, Brights, Brights ~

Now this is so me!  I want to add a lot of color and prints to my wardrobe this season. I have loads of brightly colored fabric...I just need to figure out how I want to use it.

This is a very general direction in which my sewing will go this spring/summer ~ especially since the real emphasis will be on fitting ~ and this will primarily be the background noise.

...always more later! 

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Remaking My TNT Dress Pattern

The reason why I didn't get catatonic and ball up in the fetal position crying inconsolably about losing my TNT dress pattern, is that I never threw the original pattern pieces away. That meant the originals were in the pattern stash, I just had to find them. Seriously this is "The Best Save EVAH!"

So the search began for the pieces - and what a search that was! I mean I've made this dress quite a few times and I've saved most of the iterations in their own folders - thankfully with a picture of the finished dress - so it was just a matter of digging through pattern folders.

And when I was just about to give up, I found the original pattern in pieces! This is the version I was using when I first started the blog. I'm probably about 10 lbs lighter than that now but I think it's easier to make changes from the smaller pattern pieces than the pieces I've enlarged over the years.

Here are the changes I made to the pattern pieces to sew my first wearable muslin:

1. First I taped the bodice and skirt front and backs together matching the notches to from full front and full back pieces.

2. I laid the new front and back pieces over each other, comparing notches and lengthen and shorten lines, to insure that the front and back piece hemlines ended in the same place.

3. Then I traced each pattern onto some new pattern paper. On the front pattern piece I made sure to include the new bust dart (something I noticed that I changed on the original pattern).

4. Also made sure that I got more markings placed onto these new pattern pieces. I neglected to do that with my last set.

5. I found the original sleeve pattern piece in a very fragile state. So I traced a new short sleeve pattern also. Later I will work on making a long sleeve version of the sleeve. I want to have all of the new pattern pieces in the same folder.

This was my starting place for this simple short sleeve floral ponte dress. The fabric is from Fabric Mart, of course, and the dress is unlined. I added an invisible zipper to the dress' center back mainly because I hate trying to get a dress over my head.  Unzipping it and stepping in is so much easier ~ at least in my world! The sleeves are made from the leftover scraps of my white ponte top.

There are no special sewing techniques in this dress. The hems at the sleeves are pressed and stitched down. I added some stitch witchery to the dress' hemline to finish it. I must have stretched the neckline a bit when working with the fabric. So I gathered a section of it at the center front, secured it with a strip of fusible interfacing, and faced it with another white ponte scrap.

I did fit as I sewed it because believe me when I tell you that I'm not a fit expert! Then I made a few more changes to the pattern based upon the try-ons...

- I added darts to the center back to get a closer fit for this version
- For future versions, I'm going back to the 4 seam back because I can use the seam lines to fit the upper bodice back better
- I removed 1/4" from the center front of the dress pattern checking to make sure that it didn't affect my bust darts because this version is sewn with 3/4" seams.
- I shaved 1/2" off the hemline of the back pattern piece because it was longer than the front piece.

I'm okay with this version although it's not perfect. It's just okay. Though this process is reminding me of all of the work that I did to get my original TNT patterns to work. I'm thinking I probably wore some pretty terribly fitting stuff back in the day as I pinched and tucked my way to TNT patterns. At least if I lose a little more weight this summer, this one will still be wearable.

A few more pictures of the dress...

I'm trying this pattern out in a woven next to see if my changes work in that fabrication too. If you've been reading for awhile and wondered how I got my TNT patterns to TNT status...ummm this is how it garment at a time.

Now I'm sure there are some of you out there wondering why I don't just make a few muslins and get all of my fit issues worked out?  That is one way to look at it. My answer is that I still hate making muslins. This way I'm ending up with wearable garments which I really need right now. These are more wearable than I'm learning a few things in the process. always more later!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A Vogue Five Pak

I know the posts were light last week but that's because working on the jacket took longer than I expected. However, the jacket spawned a few additional pieces, most of which have already been discussed on the blog. So my apologies but this post is a little heavy on the pictures.

The Pantsuit ~
This is comprised of the Vogue 9095 jacket (pattern alterations post here & construction post here) and the pants from this outfit. The pants were loose on me when I was heavier so you know they're swimming on me now. I removed 2" from each outer leg and 1" from each inner leg to slim them down. In total honesty, I'm wearing them with the waistband turned down once. I still need to refit my pants pattern but for now this will work.

Also even though the jacket works with the pants, and this is how I will wear it, I'm not really thrilled with the jacket. The lapels are thinner than I thought they would be. I'm also not that happy with the bands at the jacket hemline & sleeves. Finally my sleeve insertion sucks...but after taking them out twice...I decided this was good enough. I won't be making this jacket again. I'm on to the next jacket pattern adventure.

The top is Vogue 8209 blogged about here.

Black Jacket & The Brocade Pieces ~
The Vogue 7632 skirt + the Vogue top 8209 + the Vogue jacket = a dressy suit.  I think of this more as a church outfit rather than a work outfit.

...and the top and skirt without the jacket...

...the original white ponte top...

Finally, I've decided to add a "casual look" to my blog posts since last year there were quite a few comments asking what I wear during my downtime. I mix and match my work pieces with jeans, maxi skirts and maxi dresses. Here's how I would wear the jacket and top with a pair of bell bottom jeans...

I'm reworking my TNT dress pattern because I want to work on a dress with a more fitted bodice after that...and you know how much I love my TNTs. I hate that my pattern isn't working for me now. So I've got to get that straightened out especially since spring and summer will eventually show up... always more later!


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