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.

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 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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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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