Faux leather fun for Fall

After a bunch of head scratching, pattern hacking, self-drafted projects- I decided I needed a straightforward- out of the envelope make.  For this project- I went totally auto pilot.  I liked the styling of this Cynthia Rowley Simplicity 1314 pattern view so much, I absolutely (shamelessly) copied it- down to the shoes.


 Armed with my leftover faux leather and this pattern, I made the exact dress; exactly out of the envelope; in exactly one size; in exactly the same suggested fabric.  But there you go- I like it and I’m glad I did.

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I think this dress pattern is super flattering and the fit is perfect. I will definitely re-visit it again- perhaps with a more creative mind!

Because I made absolutely no modifications and the pattern is straightforward - all I really need to talk about is the ease of working with faux leather- if you haven’t before- and also give a shout out the fabulous quality of this particularly beautiful faux leather from Emma One Sock.

Can an imitation be better than the real deal? Faux literally means fake or imitation- not super appealing.  But, after working with this, I am a faux fan.  When I wore this dress last week, a friend asked if it was real leather.  Well-I guess that’s the goal.


The only extra step I took was to change my sewing machine needle to a leather needle.  Other than that- everything was straight forward.  This leather has the tiniest bit of stretch so it works perfectly with the black ponte I paired it with- also from Emma One Sock.

 Similar to ponte- the faux leather does not fray and is very stable. 

I am typically careful pressing ponte- I (almost) always press on the wrong side- and use a press cloth on the right side.  This faux leather is viscose backed- so you can feel safe pressing on the back side.  And I used a press cloth on the front with the faux leather- the manufacturer notes you can use a medium heat iron on this fabric.


My other faux leather project this month is this super simple bomber jacket.


This jacket was meant to be fast and easy.  The jacket is unlined because the viscose back on this fabric is surprisingly comfortable.  And I didn’t need to finish the seams because the simple cut edges on the faux leather are so sharp and clean.


Unlike the easy out-of-the envelope dress- this simple looking bomber is actually a hack of three patterns.  I had a jewel neck raglan jacket pattern– but the sleeves were too full- so I fiddled with those and modified a piece from another pattern.  Last, I used a collar and facing pattern piece from a traditional bomber pattern.  The ribbing gets five stars for really pulling this all together.

The only notable thing I did on this jacket is hand hemming.  I didn’t have enough ribbing to finish the bottom of the jacket- like a typical bomber- so I opted for a straight hem.  I experimented with topstitching on this fabric but I didn’t like how it looked.  So I attached seam binding on the hem for a little extra length- and sewed it up by hand. In the end, I really prefer this straight finish over a ribbed trim finish.


Vogue 9267 and Simplicity 1873 for weddings and parties

Hey Mississippi River: I’m crossing you in style!

Here I am on the banks of this mighty river wearing a simple mash up of Vogue 9267 and Simplicity Cynthia Rowley 1873 . This is my latest make for special occasions- specifically weddings and parties!

This dress is a perfect wedding guest dress and practically a party on its own.  This fit and flare dress accommodates a full range of dance moves with absolutely no chance of wardrobe malfunctions.  Bonus feature- partying is so comfortable in this breathable all cotton faille fabric that does not wilt or wrinkle like a wallflower.  This amazing fabric holds its perfect shape, even when you start to droop- or if you have to walk through some autumn sprinkles like I did! To top it off- the print is super cheerful- look at it cheer up this moody river landscape.


I blended two party dresses for this special occasion dress.  I used my favorite Simplicity Cynthia Rowley for the bodice and lovely Vogue 9267 for the perfect full-not too full skirt.  While V9267 could be a perfect choice on its own, I decided to keep the bodice super simple to showcase the fabric.  I also knew the Cynthia Rowley bodice pattern was a great fit- because I have used this before. I am partial to Cynthia Rowley patterns for Simplicity. I have used them time and again as my base for a project. I used Cynthia Rowley for dresses blogged about here and here. This finished dress styling is effortlessly no nonsense: practical jewel neckline, short sleeves and a perfect skirt. 

The dress was also a party to make up. This project was completely straightforward with no pattern modifications- except using the top and bottom from two patterns; and no lining was necessary with the sturdy fabric.


This dress is an easy win because of the attributes of this amazing cotton faille fabric. I purchased this particular fabric from EmmaOneSock, but the same fabric is currently available at Mood. Faille isn’t a super common fabric choice. Faille is defined as “a fabric woven with slight ribs from silk, rayon or cotton.” Faille fabric is woven with heavier weft yarns and finer warp yarns to create a very fine rib. This magical weave produces a silky and wonderfully lustrous surface. Below you can see a close up of the fabric and the narrow skirt hem- hand sewn because that’s the way I roll with hems! Also, the fabric has a little stiffness so that was the easiest method. You can see the ribs on the wrong side of the fabric.


Silk faille is often used in evening wear. This particular fabric has fabulous body and a dressy sheen that is NOT shiny. Just dressy. While faille is often produced in silk- this gem is cotton- so pretty and so practical- which is also the way I like to roll as a party guest!


That 1980s Feeling- Designer Vogue and Pink Landers for Fall

I recently took a gander through my old, old patterns and found this Vogue American Designer pattern from the 1980s.  How about those sleeves?! So is this vintage? or retro? Whatever the term, it is most definitely awesome and not at all outdated.


Yes- I was alive in the 1980s; and yes- I was sewing clothes for myself way back then.  I still remember -vividly- how great I felt in the dress I made from this pattern even though I don’t remember much else from the 1980s. I was in graduate school and a newly-wed during that decade. I do remember the Police, Talking Heads, shoulder pads, E.T., Duran Duran, Dirty Dancing, mullets, The Breakfast Club, big hair, arcade games and Madonna. I have seen the 1980s referred to as the greed decade- which might have something to do with the size of those sleeves- among other things.

I decided that another go-around with this pattern in a new century might recapture that great 1980s feeling- minus the greed part. Plus, I love how aspects of this pattern still feel modern and current.


I remember my first dress out of this pattern was a black and red print. And I know I sewed the pattern view B. This time around, it was easy to modify the pattern to create a spiffy knit top.  I simply widened the bodice from the bust-line and lengthened it slightly. 

This fabric is a very drapey knit from Treadle Yard Goods- so the sleeves did not turn out as voluminous as the first dress I made.  The pattern also calls for a sleeve cap header, that I remember making out of interfacing as a shoulder pad stand in- but I skipped that step.  I also modified the pattern to button on one shoulder, and sewed the other shoulder closed. Finally, I eliminated the button cuffs for the sleeves and simply attached sleeve bands.


I actually hand hemmed this top- because I wanted it to look pretty when worn untucked. Although, I found out I prefer how the top looks when it is tucked into these newly made Landers.


The pants are stripped down True Bias Lander pants with the zipper expansion.  No pockets anywhere. The fabric is a soft and comfortable- albeit a tad wrinkly- Robert Kaufman all cotton twill from Fabric.com.  The Lander pants are a great fit for me.  I blogged about these previously, you can get all the details here.

Grateful for Gingham- Cologne Blouse

I am a gingham fan-girl.  This hard-working (and inexpensive) fabric does it all.  It is normal and noteworthy; down-home and uptown; classic and light-hearted.  The fabric of table cloths and aprons is also worn by financiers.  It’s both Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz and Bridgette Bardot on the beach.

I can go on….  Gingham mixes easily with other colors and patterns; it never looks dated; and -did I mention? - it is super affordable, often the cheapest cut at the fabric store. 

Sewists know gingham is perfect to use as a toile- or a test fabric for trying out a pattern.  Even better than muslin, gingham is a perfectly balanced checkerboard grid with no right or wrong side; Gingham makes test sewing -- appropriately – a picnic.


So when I discovered this Cologne blouse pattern from a new pattern company: Bella Loves Patterns- it made sense to first try it out in this heroic workhorse of a fabric.  And I am happy with the final results.


I made this pattern up with absolutely no modifications.  The pattern has clear and straightforward instructions, and I LOVE the pleated sleeve.  I will definitely be on the lookout for new patterns from this maker.


This is a simple, boxy and slightly drop shouldered top- so I wasn’t super worried about fit- but I was concerned how it would work on me and mix with my wardrobe.  I am typically an “untucked” girl and the styling for this top was all “tucked in” styling. 

My first outing in the top was untucked- as shown below which is a comfortable and a typical look for me. 



I also managed to track down an old and mostly unworn belt in the back of my closet and tried tucked in styling as shown in photos at the top of the post. I like that option too.

And because this post is a bit of an homage to gingham- here’s a bit of history I found about this matchless fabric because if you aren’t a gingham fan yet- perhaps you should keep reading! Oh- and this gingham is from the fabulous Treadle Yard Goods!

Gingham was first made in Asia, possibly in Malaysia, and imported to Europe in the 17th century- with the word gingham first used in English in 1615.  Gingham was set up for production in the United States in the 18th century.  The fabric was favored due to its simple design and ease of production which made it inexpensive and popular for use for clothing and home furnishings.  After World War I, gingham is a popular fabric of choice for inexpensive ready-to-wear clothes.  In the 1930’s, gingham makes a notable star appearance on Katherine Hepburn in “Philadelphia story.” Mid-twentieth century, gingham continues to flex its high low muscle and shows up on celebrities such as Audrey Hepburn, Doris Day, Grace Kelly, and First Lady Jackie Kennedy and –famously- is the fabric for Bridgett Bardot’s first wedding dress.

Liberty Blouse Pattern Trifecta

I have been making and wearing cotton shirts for ages.  They tend to fall into one of two camps: 1) the button down -sometimes these lean a bit to the stuffy/workwear side; and 2) the boxy top with sleeve variations -sometimes these lean simple and perhaps a little shapeless.  For this cotton top, I wanted a softer version of the standard button down.  I imagined a blouse with a collar band- but no pointy collar- an easy popover style with soft gathers and a bit of shape.  After scouring blouse patterns until I went a bit bleary eyed- I landed on not one, not two, but three patterns- to mash together for this Liberty project.  The bright side is that I already own all these patterns- which makes sense, because – well — the design elements were calling to me


I like the collar band on McCalls 7360 – see how nice and flat it lays on the neckline!  But I don’t want darts and I want a wee bit fuller blouse, so I like the soft gathers front and back on the McCalls 7324. But- I don’t love the pleat in front on that pattern.  I also decided to pass on the two piece sleeve in both McCall’s patterns and prefer a simple (albeit pretty traditional) sleeve from the Grainline Archer.


My pattern mashing steps are elementary.  I line up the shoulders and waist markings- in this case from McCalls 7324 and 7360. I used McCalls 7360 as the base -including collar and placket- and modified by adding fullness from 7324.  I used the entire back piece from 7324. The sleeve cap from McCalls two-piece sleeve was nearly identical to the Grainline Archer sleeve, so I simply cut the Grainline sleeve and cuff pieces.

It is not the perfect blouse- but it is getting close.


Let’s take a moment to not only admire the great Liberty print, but extol the virtues of this Tana lawn.  Tana lawn is the perfect fabric for blouse making.  This cotton is woven so tightly, you never are in danger of fraying.  The fabric is lightweight but incredibly stable , all seams are simple.  French seams are also a breeze because there is no danger of slip sliding with this fabric.


Parting comments are confessional- I made an ENORMOUS pattern matching mistake.  Kind of a forest for the trees issue.  In fact, I un-picked the placket and re-attached it because I originally put the placket fabric in upside down.  I think I stared at the fabric so intensely to determine what was up and what was down, that I TOTALLY missed the vertical design- see red flowers below. Oh man- I was devastated when I tried it on and noticed it. Sadly, my blouse is completely off.  There is absolutely no way to salvage this- I used up all of the fabric.  Liberty fabric is such an asset- this may get unpicked and transformed into something more perfect. But, I will wear it a few times as is- mostly to analyze this pattern trifecta for comfort and wearability.