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Creamsicle Laurel Dress

July 9th, 2013 — 8:13am

creamsicle laurel dress | whipstitchMy Creamsicle Laurel dress is finished!  I have wanted to make this dress for the past few months, after finding a similar one at a fancy-schmancy department store in a petite size, and being unwilling to spend a pile of cash on a dress that fit me imperfectly.  I made this version from a seersucker cotton that I picked up in New York at Mood Fabrics for specifically this project–which is pretty unusual for me, since I frequently buy yards and yards of fabric with NO EARTHLY IDEA what I will be making.  This generally necessitates purchases of 3+ yards, and has resulted in a harrowing stash of pure yardage–but that’s not the point of this post.

Screen shot 2013-06-26 at 4.14.33 PMAfter sharing this image on Instagram, my sweet friend Christine indicated with strident certainty that I should get my behind over to the Laurel pattern and get sewing.  Now, I had been planning a shift pattern for months, but once the Laurel was released, I saw zero reason to pursue it: this is a simple, clean, classic pattern that was easy and quick to sew up.  Perfect marriage with this style that I was trying to reproduce.  I added French seams on all the seams, including on the ones encasing the in-seam pockets that I added to the pattern–because life is better when your dresses have pockets.

creamsicle laurel front | whipstitchThe end result isn’t perfect, I’m sad to say.  I knew going into this version that it was a wearable muslin–I didn’t test the pattern or fit prior to sewing this up, and since I had triple the amount of yardage the pattern required and the trim was easy to remove if I was unhappy, I was very content to roll the dice and see what would happen.  On the whole, I like the fit: the armholes and neckline are modest and flattering, and don’t dip too far away, which I really like.  Not everyone agrees with me, but I like a nice, high armhole, myself–particularly in a sleeveless garment.

creamsicle laurel | whipstitch

The bust darts are still a little off–not nearly so much as with the petite-sized dress at the department store, but still not quite hitting where I’d like.  In part, they might be the darts for a smaller size than I should have cut: I cut smack between the 6 and the 8, in an effort to minimize the looseness of this shape on me.  I’m busty, and have given birth four times–which means I’ve suffered through an amalgamated 2 YEARS in maternity clothing.  I work pretty hard to avoid wearing anything that smacks of maternity, but when you’re busty and banana-shaped, that can be difficult.  I don’t have the luxury of an itty-bitty waist or a pronounced bottom to emphasize a feminine shape.  I suspect that by cutting below the size suggested for my measurements–I would have been between an 8 and a 10–that I ended up with darts just a smidge too high for me, even if I achieved my goal of getting the fit a little more tailored.  In another rendition of this pattern, I would likely cut the same size, but then give it a full-bust adjustment to move those darts where they belong.

creamsicle laurel side | whipstitchI’m not completely satisfied with the fit at the back, either, and think I need to take out some of the fullness above the waist.  I have a (very) high waist, and that extra fabric at the upper back?  Should not be there.  That can be taken out at the patterning stage, and the back waist length–from the base of the neck to the waistline–reduced so I don’t have any gaping or bagging there.  The side back darts do a nice job of pulling the shape in at the arch of the back, though, and are a great touch in this pattern.

creamsicle laurel mod surprise | whipstitchIn all (sad, disappointed) honesty, though, the place where this dress fails for me isn’t the fit–those are minor tweaks to be expected, things I’ve encountered before and that are very nearly de rigeur when sewing dresses–but rather the fabric itself.  I ADORE this seersucker.  It’s woven 100% cotton, the Good Stuff, and the tangerine color is just unexpected enough to take it from juvenile and trite to fun and whimsical.  Having said that, I am a pale, pale, pale pasty person.  And my coloring alongside the creamy peachiness of this fabric is tragic, indeed.  See how my skin almost vanishes into the hemline?  Between that and the khaki shoes, I am nearly invisible, Wonder Woman in her airplane.  This image is a teensy weensy bit washed out–but not a lot.  I feel so pale as to be self-conscious in this dress, like I’m vanishing.  It makes me extra aware of the 8-ish extra pounds I’d love to get rid of–particularly when that super peachy fabric is next to the peach paleness of the backs of my arms, an area no woman wants to call attention to other than Jennifer Aniston who spends a solid six hours a week working on ONLY the backs of her arms–and reduces the odds that I’ll wear this dress over and over this summer.

On the whole: I give this dress a solid B- for execution.  I think the pattern is solid, with some basic tweaks, but the fabric selection disappoints, which hurts a little more because I didn’t expect that.  I’ll wear this in public and see how it feels, but I think I might make another version in a darker seersucker stripe and compare the two.  Summer is far from over, after all.

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Fall Wardrobe E-Course Now Registering!

July 8th, 2013 — 8:00am

It’s time! The Four-Piece Wardrobe online class–also known as the Fall Wardrobe e-course–is now open for registration!

fall wardrobe 2012This class is a course in sewing with commercial patterns, both the Big Four (Vogue, Simplicity, McCall’s and Butterick) and those produced, in print, by indie pattern companies (like Colette, Anna Maria, and Sewaholic).  While we can’t sew something from ALL of these companies in the space of five weeks, we can cover the basics of how to read a pattern, decipher the instructions, and assemble a garment that you can be proud of–all step-by-step and in a nurturing, communal atmosphere!

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I have seen more and more stitchers take on garment sewing over the past five-ish years, and I am THRILLED beyond measure to watch it.  This class is an out-growth of my Patterns class that I’ve been teaching in person since 2008 and is designed to really give you the foundational skills to confidently and joyfully approach sewing garments from store-bought printed patterns (and even some PDF downloads) using key techniques and skills.

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See all the details on the Fall Wardrobe e-course detail page, and snag a spot while you can!  I have had emails coming in the past few weeks with folks chomping at the bit to join me this year as we make these garments–a woven dressy shell top, a sweet little piped skirt, a smart city jacket, and a brand-new fitted-and-flared lined dress with pockets.  You’ll love them all and wear them all, and even more importantly, you’ll make friends and cement techniques that will last you far longer than the weeks of the class.  Come on over–the water’s fine!

 

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Simple Garden

July 3rd, 2013 — 7:47pm

summer garden | whipstitch

It has been a while since we’ve been able to put in a real garden.  Last summer, we lived in a rental house.  The summer before, we were “on the market,” and didn’t think it was wise to dig up part of the yard for a garden that a potential homeowner might not want.  And the kids were all so little–too little, really, to even take part in the digging and mess-making part of gardening.

herb container garden | whipstitchWe’re not renting now, and we’re not on the market.  This is our Forever House.  And still this year, we didn’t manage a real garden.  I had high hopes early in the spring that things would come together, and even planted some seeds.  But they needed more tending than I was able to give in those early months of the year, closing the store and all, and it all kind of fell apart.  Plus, we were doing some work on the patio–building a new one, specifically, along with putting in a new deck and driveway, all of which involved a lot of bulldozers and bobcats and sod.  So any garden I might have managed would probably have been trampled, anyway.

chilis and tomatoes | whipstitchWe’re making do with planters on the patio.  I love them–they bring a lot of warmth and fullness to our outside space–but I always get that twinge of failure mixed with regret when I read a gardening magazine or online source say, “If you can’t have a full garden bed, you can always garden in containers!”  It feels very much like a consolation prize.  Particularly when–full disclosure–these peppers and chilis came from the grocery store last week, looking more of less exactly like they look right here.  And the lavender?  A patio warming gift from friends.  None of my green thumbing at all.

ripening tomatoes in container | whipstitchSo this year, we’ll be watching someone else’s tomatoes turn red, and someone else’s roses bloom.  And I’m OK with that.  We still get to eat the tomatoes and smell the roses, and we still get to enjoy the life and sparkle they add when we sit outside, waiting for the fireflies.

lavender spike | whipstitchWe’ll need to re-pot this lavender, since they can get super large.  And the tomatoes and chilis are still in their grocery store pots, so we’ll have to transplant those soon, too, if we want them to live.  Luckily, it’s non-stop rain here this week, so none of them are in any danger of drought.

rosemary in container | whipstitchThe rosemary should get massive, hopefully, and take over the wall by the grill.  There, we can snip off bits to add to steaks, or grab whole sticks and strip them of their leaves to use as kebab skewers.  And every time you walk past, the scent wafts through the air, combining with the boxwoods by the stairs and just a hint of jasmine from the back fence.  It really is heavenly.

chili peppers | whipstitch

Maybe I won’t get a master gardener award this season.  And I’ll certainly refer to my “garden” in quotations and with self-deprecation.  But that won’t stop me from remembering that THIS was the year we started a garden at this, our Forever House.  Or from sketching out where the stone wall will go to contain the raised beds formed by woven reeds.  For next year, because every spring is a new gardening season.

What’s in your garden this year?

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Super Online Sewing Bee

July 1st, 2013 — 11:25am

Did you guys read today about the Super Online Sewing Bee hosted by Sew, Mama, Sew?  It was just announced today, and I am stoked.

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image courtesy of Sew, Mama, Sew

It’s modeled after the Great British Sewing Bee, which I adored.  I shared over on Facebook that I watched all four episodes on YouTube while I was trapped in he kitchen speed potty training our youngest–it was such an enjoyable way to kill time while waiting for the juice boxes to do their magic.  That last part was probably an over-share, but I think my point is the the GBSB was SO good that it distracted me from the labors of teaching our youngest how to use the toilet.  I was completely entranced by the range of skills and backgrounds they’d assembled in the contestants, and think the scope of the projects was really far above that of the other sewing competition shows.  There was a real effort on the part of the producers to make it a show about the HOME sewer, rather than about becoming a professional or being a designer, which I greatly appreciated.  And it was all so inspiring!  Who didn’t walk away wanting to sew garment after garment??

Sewing-Great-British-Sewing-Bee-www.sophiemadethis.co.ukimage via Sophie Made This

I think the online version with Sew, Mama, Sew will capture all those really great attributes, but make it accessible through an online format.  Plus!  Even if you’re not one of the 10 contestants chosen, you can totally play along at home!  Very cool option–my summer is so full that I wouldn’t be able to participate, but I totally want to jump in on some of the challenges once they’re posted.  See, that’s my favorite bit about what the SMS ladies have got planned: no one, not even the contestants, know what the challenge will be until it is announced, and then everyone finds out at the same time, and they all have a specific amount of time in which to complete the challenge.  It’s very much like the time crunches you see on the television version, but in a more across-the-continent format–super fun, for reals.

To put your name in for consideration as a contestant, hop over to the Sew, Mama, Sew announcement page and sign up!

Screen shot 2013-07-01 at 11.15.56 AM

And don’t forget, y’all: Google Reader is officially retired as of tomorrow.  Weep!  I adored my reader, and found it was the only way that I could truly consistently keep up with all the blogs that I have fallen in love with.  As you make the move, be sure to add Whipstitch to your new reader!  I switched over to Feedly, primarily because everyone who took the time to do the research went on and on about how great it was.  I have really struggled to get used to the new interface, because I am an old dog and I liked my Google Reader, thankyouverymuch.  I’ll keep plugging away, but might also consider trying Bloglovin’, which seems to be the other option I’m hearing a lot about.  (Just this morning, I stumbled across this article for Mac users with a whole list of options, which is both exciting and overwhelming–not sure if I’m intrigued or approaching shut-down from all the choices.)

To keep up with Whipstitch, some handy links:

Anyone have a clear preference in these new readers?  I think my push-back to Feedly is the magazine format, which I think makes it hard to me to visually determine what’s where–but that seems to be exactly what other folks love most about it!  What do you guys think so far of our tortured, sad, post-Google Reader options?

 

 

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What I’m Working On Now

June 26th, 2013 — 4:23pm

A fabulous orange stripe seersucker Laurel dress with a center front trim detail and in-seam pockets:

seersucker laurel dress | whipstitchI got the idea for this one right around the time the Laurel pattern was released.  That pattern coincided with a (very rare) trip to the mall, where I tried on this dress:

Screen shot 2013-06-26 at 4.14.33 PMIt was my size, but a petite, so it fit great everywhere except the length–the bust points are way off, and that’s saying something, because I have a legendarily short torso, and it takes some work to make things not line up right.  I loved the creamsicle orange-and-ivory seersucker, though, and the lace detail at center front.  I decided well before I snapped this shot to my Instagram that I would be making my own and not spending a scandalous $138 on a dress that didn’t fit all over.  Obvs.

seersucker trim | whipstitchI picked up both the fabric and the trim at Mood when we were in NYC this past April.  In fact, this fabric was really the raison d’etre for that trip to begin with (although my husband is pretty sure it was to score linen for him so I could make him a couple of summer sport coats–not that it’s relevant why we went, just THAT we went).  This is a 100% cotton WOVEN seersucker, which is super important to me–I work very hard to avoid polyester in almost any circumstance, and as far as I’m concerned, why even bother with a seersucker stripe if it’s printed?  Get the good stuff–so I did.  I brought home 3 yds of 55″ fabric, and the Laurel took less than half that, so I think our younger girls might have to get matching dresses this summer.  Little girls dressed to match Mommy?  Circa le 1976, y’all!

seersucker pocket unsewn | whipstitchThe plan is to have this finished for our first-ever band-new-patio cookout this weekend, which I think is do-able.  I’m slowing things down a bit by adding both French seams AND in-seam pockets–which will also have French seams.  But it’s so worth it.  One: pockets, always.  Two: French seams, on everything summery.

Pics when it’s done!  What are YOU sewing today?

 

 

 

 

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