Riff on a wrap

My most recent wrap dress was pretty traditional- but my second wrap project has some cool and new elements:  notably the d- ring closure and the super straight silhouette.  This is the Utu skirt from Named pattern’s Breaking the Pattern. I have been steadily working my way through this gem of a book.

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Wrap skirts - maybe even more than the wrap dress- are a crowd-pleasing wardrobe element. I have owned several- and they were also the run-away FAVORITE beginner sewing project when I was a student. When I went to middle school, female students were REQUIRED to take a sewing class and many chose to make a wrap skirt-remember: no zips and no buttons- but none were as cool and stylish as the Utu.

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I love the look of this quick and easy to make skirt. Be forewarned- you will need to curb your gymnastic moves as there isn’t a lot of fabric overlap on this wrap.  This skirt looks fabulous when standing at attention- or practicing your mountain pose (Namaste), but pay attention when bending or leaping.

I used Robert Kaufman Jetsetter twill- which has a little stretch and great recovery- from Fabric.com

The skirt is high waisted which is adorable on the pattern model- but I am long waisted- and short on the leg front.  So I modified the waistline by adjusting the darts. 

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I had this blue and white stripe in my stash- of unknown origins and unknown – or long forgotten -fiber content. One thing is clear- it is not cotton and it is fairly stiff. The fabric properties didn’t exactly match my idea for the top- but the color was a perfect match for this blue skirt- so I improvised…the sleeves may need modification.

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It's a wrap

Wrap dresses are wildly popular for good reason-they are appropriate for any circumstance: work or play or dressy events depending on your fabric choice.  They are appropriate for any age.  The cross over neckline is flattering and add to this, there are no zips or buttons- which are potential stumbling blocks for a new sewist.  Yet, a wrap dress has a significant and potential pitfall- staying closed.  And it was this hazard that prevented me from making a wrap dress for years.

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The allure of the wrap dress kept calling and I spent over a year pursuing the perfect woven wrap dress pattern.  Wrap dress patterns generally are divided into two categories:  knits- like the iconic Diane Von Furstenberg wrap dress introduced in the 1970s- and wovens.  There is a great round up of indie wrap dress patterns by Helen of Helen’s Closet here.  This spring, I found (and was tempted) by a new faux wrap: the Madrid dress by Coffee and Thread.

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I finally landed on the Aime Comme Mots doux -or “sweet words” wrap dress from Aime Comme Marie- and happy to report- absolutely no danger of a wardrobe malfunction with this gem.

I made a wearable toile in a sturdy Japanese cotton, a great work horse fabric that I purchased from Lakes Makerie.  Super wrinkly resistant- not at all fluid or swishy- which is the typical wrap dress fabric choice.

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The bodice of this dress has a full facing which gives the top great stability. I interfaced the facing for a smooth flat finish and to prevent the bodice edge from stretching.

This is my second go at this French pattern company, and as I stated before, you have to add seam allowances to the pattern pieces and the English instructions are extremely brief. Aside from these minor quibbles, I am pleased with the drafting and style.  I made two changes to the pattern. The bodice facing is cleverly attached to the arm seam- which is genius if you are working with a fluid lightweight fabric. But this cotton is substantial, so I trimmed the facing as indicated below. I also drafted a back neck facing instead of using bias trim.

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I only have sweet words for this lovely pattern with pretty pleats at the shoulder and excellent style. I can’t wait to make this up in a special swishy fabric!

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Smarter in a shirtdress?

It’s summertime and super hard to pay attention at work when the days are warm and perfect.  Will this smart looking shirt dress help me focus?  Does clothing impact performance?  I read studies that show wearing formal clothes increases abstract thinking, improves test scores, and improves negotiation outcomes.  I also read a super interesting study that found people made half as many mistakes on a complicated task when wearing a white lab coat. Well, I don’t have a lab coat, maybe next project…?

Even if this dress doesn’t improve my work product, it’s a smart option for summer work and other outings.  The pattern is the tried and true Simplicity 8014 with a modified skirt.  The fabric is a stretch cotton woven from Mood from my deep stash. 

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Neckline Strategy:  I came up with a simple solution for a “just-right” neckline plunge on this dress. I knew that I would never wear this dress buttoned up to the top- the fabric is a stretch twill and too heavy for that.  So, I tried the dress on and marked an ideal closure point for a not too low- not too high neckline and started my buttons from that point down.  Easy and perfect positioning- also no need to think about how many buttons to leave undone- and you save on unnecessary button and buttonholes.   Genius!!!

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This is a straightforward shirt dress.  I lined the back yoke with a Liberty of London scrap- which makes it cute and cool. The fabric was great to work with- very little fraying- see sharp looking collar grading below.

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The only other decision point was the belt option.  I tried this dress with a few belts on hand.  But did the leopard print cancel any possible performance advantage?

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I decided I wanted a clean, monochromatic look, so I made a self-fabric D-Ring self belt.  Simply cut a rectangle 2 1/2 inches by desired belt length.  Interface to your stiffness preference and sew a tube. Turn and topstitch attaching the D-rings on one end.

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Fresh in Fiona

Heat wave!  Just because our winters are long and cold here in Minnesota- that doesn’t mean are summer’s aren’t hot …and humid.  This past week- we were under a heat advisory.  Our house is nearly 100 years old and we don’t have air conditioning.  On Friday, it was 92 degrees Fahrenheit in our dining room. Thank heavens, I had just finished the Fiona Sundress by Closet Case patterns- a fetching choice when weather and moods are steamy.

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Even though there are several denim Fionas out there- including the pattern styling shown here- I also chose a substantial denim with stretch from Treadle Yard Goods for my Fiona. My daughter thought that denim would be too hot- but denim is wilt proof and I wanted fabric with substance for a more structured sundress. The cut of this dress is fabulous- flattering and definitely cool- even in this heat.

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This was my first experience with a Closet Case pattern.  And I found the pattern fit true to their sizing chart.  I cut a size 4 and graded to a 6 in the waist and an 8 in the hips. I followed the clear and thorough instructions.  Once the dress was sewn up- I decided to let out the hip side seams a bit for more ease since the fabric was so stiff.  I also fiddled with the strap placement.

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During construction, I was hoping to find some way to distinguish my denim Fiona from all the others, so I am super grateful for the inspiration from SewitCurly to cover buttons with flowers.  I used Liberty Strawberry Thief scraps- Liberty scraps are endlessly useful. I used the simple button covering kits widely available. I covered buttons quite a bit when I was sewing for the kids when they were small- but that was ages ago. It was satisfying and fun to pop out some one of a kind buttons.

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I am super pleased with the results. And a sure sign of a winning project is when daughter asks me to make the same for her.

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Form meets Function with Seabright Swimmer

We are on our annual vacation at Northern Pine Lodge this year and the cabins, lodge, lake, loons, and woods are reassuringly the same.  But this year, I MADE MY SWIMSUIT!  I was absolutely thrilled when I saw the Seabright Swimmer by Friday Pattern Company.  I have been swimming in makeshift swimsuits consisting of ready to wear long sleeve rash-guards and athletic bottoms for water sports with sun protection.  But the Seabright offered long-sleeves in a true swimsuit.  My ideal swimsuit- and it is so glamourous.  This is a swim suit where form- (cuteness) meets function- sun protection and suitable for all water activities.

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I appreciated the sweet positivity statements included in the downloaded pattern pieces.  The instructions were very clear with tips for first time swim wear construction- I used a serger for the side seams and for attaching the top to the bottoms.  But I mainly used my regular machine following the stitch recommendations in the instructions.  I used a three step stitch for all the elastic edges.

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Fit-wise, the suit was pretty true to the stated measurements in the size guide- but I had a bit of trouble with the bottom fit and ended up having to trim the front crotch and leg openings (significantly) tapering to the side.

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The beautiful green swim fabric is from Blackbird fabrics.  It is super stable and a great sturdy weight.   I lined the front and bottoms with a nude tricot.  I considered power-mesh- suggested by many for swim suit lining- but the tricot was soft and handy and on sale at JoAnn Fabrics.

 

The pattern suggests hand-sewing foam bra cups to the lining which I did.  I also overlapped the front sections for modesty.  But maybe it would be better to simply include a short center seam, because I had to fiddle quite a bit to get the gathering to look right.

So, I couldn’t resist this shot in lovely wildflower crown (hand-woven by daughter!) and Inspired by the pattern styling.

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