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Aug 052015

Last year I made a summer Sureau out of some gorgeous Cloud 9 organic voile, but I only wore it a couple of times.  I thought voile would be the perfect thing for a summer dress, but the print I bought was very light in color, so I had to line it.  The lining made the dress unbearable in the heat, so I never really wanted to wear the dress.  I believe I’ve previously mentioned that this summer, I discovered that dark printed voiles are magical summer fabrics.  Light enough in weight to keep you cool and dark enough in color to not need lined.  When I bought a pile of dark printed voiles a few months ago, I earmarked one of them for a new summer Sureau, and it is much better than last year’s version!


I made this one out of a Pat Bravo printed voile from Art Gallery.  It’s from the Etno line and it’s called Shore Remains in Algae.  In the little images online stores use to sell this fabric, the background looks sort of brown or grey, but it’s actually a dark navy blue that looks pretty much black.  I never would have ordered it if I thought it had a brownish greyish background, but I saw photos of the actual fabric on Hawthorne Threads so I knew I liked the way it actually looked.


This was probably my least favorite of all the voiles when I bought them, but the dress has gotten a ton of compliments and I like the color more than I thought I would, so it’s moved up in the rankings.


As with my latest versions of McCall’s 6696, I very unscientifically added a little extra at the side seams to accommodate weight gain.  The dress ended up a little bigger than necessary, but it’s supremely comfortable, so I left it as is.  I am so loving my loose breezy dresses this summer!

pat-bravo-etno-shore-remains-deer-and-doe-sureau-button-detailThe buttons are just cheapies from Joann’s I had lying around.  They’re a sort of iridescent shell, but it’s hard to tell in the picture.  I looked everywhere for buttons that would match the light blue triangles in the print, but it turned out to be a really difficult color to match.  I settled for sort of matching the cream flower petals.

I’m really glad I redeemed the concept of the summer Sureau with a a better fabric choice!  I really love the Sureau – I think the neckline is flattering, and I love that the gathering at the bust means fewer darts.  The skirt also seems to have the perfect amount of gathering – not so much that it’s poufy and just enough that the skirt looks appropriately gathered.

I still have a few of my summer dresses to post, but I’ve been sewing in the meantime.  I’ve been working on another 6696 (my sixth!) that’s trying to kill me, and I’m also making a knit Belladone.  I made one before but never got around to posting it; here’s a quick picture I took back when I made it:


I loved that dress but the knit was pretty crappy and got pills all over it right away.

I’ve also been working on a pile of muslins.  Since it worked out so well to cut a bunch of dresses out at once and sew them all up, I decided I’d give a try to cutting a bunch of muslins at once.  I posted a picture of them to Instagram, though it’s hard to see which patterns they are:


I’ve got Butterick 6168, McCall’s 6503, McCall’s 6891, Simplicity 1803, and Simplicity 1873.  I’ve got the fit sorted on the two Simplicities and McCall’s 6891, but McCall’s 6503 is giving me major fit issues, ugh.  Butterick 6168 doesn’t have a side bust dart because it has under bust pleats.  But I still need a side dart, so I’m trying to figure out if I should add one or if I should somehow figure out how to rotate it into the pleats.  But I hope to finish up my knit Belladone and my 6696 soon so I can get started on sewing a few of these up as final summer patterns.  It might seem late to be sewing summer dresses, but it will be pretty hot through September, and I’ll need lots of clothes because I’m going to be teaching five days a week instead of three this fall. Wish me luck with teaching and sewing for teaching!

Jun 282014

Hello, dear readers.  It appears I haven’t abandoned you for quite as long as I have previously, so huzzah!  What I’m about to show you has been finished for a while, and the photos were taken and edited a while ago as well.  I had every intention of posting sooner, but right after I published my last post, I headed to Kentucky to spend a week scoring Advanced Placement exams.  It was my third year doing it, and while it’s never fun to read 300 AP exams per day 7 days in a row, this year was probably better than the last two because they made us work fewer hours.  There are three questions on the exam, and every year the topic for the each of the essays is different.  This year, the question I scored asked students to analyze a letter Abigail Adams wrote to John Quincy Adams, who, if you took US History classes and can recall them, you will remember is her son and the fourth president of the US.  Let’s just say that if I never hear about the Adams family again it will be too soon.

Anyway, I had grand plans for drafting blog posts while I was there and doing a bunch of other stuff too.  Not only did I not do it, but I also sat around like a zombie for a week after returning because my brain was so fried from reading all those essays.  The only thing I did manage to do was get to the Zappos outlet in Sheperdsville, KY, which was about a half hour from where I was staying in Louisville.  It was awesome – everything is at least half off the retail price!  I got one pair of shoes that have been on my Zappos wishlist for a long time, a random pair of sandals that were super cheap, and another pair that are super comfy and cute.  You’ll see them soon because I’m planning a dress to go with them. They’re blue, and I asked the friend who went with me whether I should get them because I woudln’t know what to wear with blue heels.  She was like, “Are you serious?  Just sew something to go with them!”  So that’s what I’m doing!  I even had some fabric in my stash already that will work.

What I’m writing about today is a Deer and Doe Sureau made sleeveless for summer out of Cloud 9’s Palos Verdes organic cotton voile.  I had been seeing it floating around the blogosphere (both garmentosphere and quiltosphere!) for a while and loved all of the prints, but couldn’t decide which one to get.  I ended up getting “Abalone Cove,” but in looking up the name to be able to tell you, I question whether I should have gotten “Lunada Bay.”  I just joined Sally’s Summer Stashbust, though, so that ship has definitely sailed for this summer!  I’m not usually one to swear things off (see my thoughts on continuing to buy RTW in my last post), but I’m running out of space to store fabrics, and I’m also finding that I have several beautiful silks that I’m too nervous to sew with.  I need some motivation to quit buying more fabric that I can’t store in one of my three spots designated for doing so, and I definitely need motivation to sew what I have.

As I have mentioned before, I LOVE Deer and Doe patterns (though I just had a bad time with the latest, Centauree, but more on that in a future post), and I especially love the Sureau I made last fall in corduroy.  Ever since I made that one, I’ve wanted to make a sleeveless version for summer.


I don’t have a ton to say about this dress, actually, because everything was the same – it was a pleasure to sew and fits beautifully, just like the last time!  When I made my version last fall, I made the shoulders a bit narrower.  They turned out to be the perfect width for a sleeveless dress, which was one of the things I was nervous about in attempting a sleeveless version.


The voile was also a pleasure to work with.  It’s nice and lightweight, but since it’s cotton it’s not difficult to sew.  I lined the dress in bemberg rayon, but after wearing it in the heat, I wonder if it would have been better lined in something like cotton batiste, which would be more breathable and less sticky in the humidity.  I think I might switch to using cotton linings for summer dresses and using rayon for fall/winter dresses only.  This would mean that when I wear my summer dresses in winter with cardigans I’d have to wear a slip because cotton would probably stick to my hose, but whatever.  Being too hot in the summer is the worst!


One thing I did change was to leave off the zipper.  I never use the side zip in my corduroy Sureau because the dress is loose enough to just slip over my head.  Because I was lining this dress, putting in a zipper would be even more annoying than usual, so I just omitted it, and it’s been fine.


I don’t remember what I bought these buttons for, but they match the fabric pretty well.  They’re shell, and while they’re a little browner than I would have preferred, I didn’t want to buy new buttons when these worked well enough.

I have one other new dress to show you, then I really need to get cracking because I don’t even have a new project cut out yet!  The dress I’m making to go with my blue shoes is what I’ll make next, and it will be a Cambie made with bluish grey eyelet.  MOAR EYELET!  Right now I’m also working on a new ironing board cover.  I may have mentioned that my apartment is very small one or a million times.  Well, my ironing board is usually folded up and put away because I have no permanent spot for it, and when I do set it up, it goes in the kitchen, with the unfortunate side effect of us using it as additional kitchen counter space when it’s set up.  You can see where this is headed.  I spilled juice on my ironing board and now whenever I iron things, I have to put a towel down over the cover unless I want whatever I’m ironing to smell like rotten juice.  I’d been wanting to make a new cover because the one that came with the board was never padded enough for my liking, so this just gives me the motivation to finally do it.

So I hope to be back soon with new dresses and a new ironing board cover!  And I hope to finish my Miette that I’m knitting sometime soon, too.  I’ve been seeing so many awesome sweaters I want to knit up after I’m done, but I absolutely refuse to have more than one knitting project going at a time, nor will I buy yarn unless I’m actually going to start knitting with it that day.  The shop I frequent gives a discount on new yarn when you bring in a completed item made from materials from their shop, so that’s a good motivator to not buy yarn before I’m ready to start knitting with it.

Nov 272013

Happy almost-Thanksgiving everyone!  Today I have a Deer and Doe Sureau to show you.  I loved my experiences with the Belladone so much that I decided to try another Deer and Doe pattern.  I had a super hard time figuring out which one to try next, but I eventually decided on the Sureau, and I love it just as much as the Belladone!


This is made from Kaufman 21-wale corduroy in the rust colorway.  I LOVE corduroy, but I can never seem to find corduroy things in stores that fit well or look right on me.  I bought some thin-wale corduroy last year to make a skirt, but this was before I knew about how to press corduroy, and I ruined it by pressing it all by itself.  The nap got crushed in the formation of the grid pattern on my ironing board and it never would come out, even after I washed it.  I’ve since learned that you have to press corduroy on the wrong side only, and that you have to iron it over another piece of corduroy or a velvet board.  I only recently learned about the velvet board from Beth at Sunny Gal Studio.  I decided to buy a velvet board because I was nervous about pressing it wrong and ruining my new corduroy.  If it’s what Beth uses, I knew it would have to work well because her stuff is always SO professionally finished!


The velvet board works very well, but the one I could afford is so tiny!  It’s kind of annoying to use, but I do like it for pressing things like seams.  I experimented and discovered that ironing with a piece scrap of corduroy under the garment works well for large flat areas and saves a little time and hassle.

I only made a few little alterations to the Sureau, but they led to additional alterations.  I’ll describe them all here so you can see how they work.  The first one is the usual – I lopped off some length at the shoulder seams.  This time it looked best when I cut more off the back bodice piece than the front, so I cut off 1 3/8 inches off the back piece and I think 3/4 of an inch off the front piece (I can see what I cut off the back in the photo below, but don’t have the front pattern piece in front of me and I already put it in my pattern storage, so I’m not digging it out – sorry!).  I took a picture of my pattern piece so you can see how I do this:


The thing that happens when you make this back pattern piece is that when you cut the extra off at the shoulder seam, if you make no other alterations, you’ll end up with a too-small and distorted neckline.  This alteration also makes the armhole and front neckline smaller, but these are usually part of what I’m trying to make smaller, so no other alteration is necessary there – necklines and armholes are usually way too low on me.  What I do to solve the back neckline problem is I trace the top part of the pattern like normal, then I slide it down so that the shoulder edge I’ve traced is 1 3/8 inches (in this case) lower than the shoulder edge of the pattern, then I trace the rest.  This leaves the shape of the neckline intact but shortens the bodice overall and makes the armhole smaller.  Now, the other problem in this case is that when you do this, the top corner of the shoulder edge gets cut off a tiny bit.  It’s usually not enough to worry about, but the Sureau has a neckline facing that gets caught in the armhole seam, so I had to alter something so that the facing would line up.  I decided to add the bit I’d lopped off back to the bodice, and I did that by simply lining it up with the facing pattern piece and taping a bit more tracing paper at that edge so I could add it back.


You can also see my pattern weights here, which are an idea I got from someone at Pattern Review a long time ago – I wish I had kept track of who to give credit to for this!  They’re large washers I got from Home Depot and glued together, then wrapped with ribbon.  I may have mentioned it here before, but I used to be super into card-making, so I have tons of ribbon from those days.  I have a set of 15 pattern weights, all wrapped with different ribbons.  I really like using them because they’re colorful, and I think we all know that I’m in love with color!  Anyway, this little alteration ended up being moot because when I put the sleeves on, I saw that the shoulder was too wide for me, so I cut off a half inch at the top edge of the armhole and tapered it to nothing at the bottom of the armhole edge.  That ended up looking a lot better.

Now, the final thing that happens when you do this alteration is that since the armhole is smaller, the sleeve needs to be smaller as well.  When I looked at the Sureau pattern piece, I discovered that it’s what Kathleen Fasanella would call anatomically correct, meaning that one side isn’t a mirror image of the other.  I’ve linked to her blog post about this before, but here it is again: Sleeve Cap Ease is Bogus.  You can see the way the sleeve isn’t symmetrical in this photo.  The side seams are matched up, but the sleeve cap doesn’t match.


I was happy that Deer and Doe use a more sophisticated sleeve design, but it also made me unsure of what to do to make the sleeve smaller.  I ended up doing the following, but I have no idea whether it’s what one should do.  It worked well enough, but this is just me making it up as I go along.  I measured the total sleeve cap and then each side of the sleeve cap and calculated ratios.  I figured out how much I needed to subtract based on my new armhole size, then I figured out how much of that subtraction should be done on each side of the sleeve based on the ratios I had calculated earlier.  I wasn’t sure it would work, and I thought I might lose the gathers that were supposed to be in the sleeve, but they ended up remaining intact.  Yay!  It may have worked out by accident, but it worked out and it’s all that counts.

You can see the final alteration in the first pattern piece photo above – I added a quarter inch to the side seam of the bodice.  When I made the muslin, the bodice was super tight, so I thought I’d add a bit of room.  After this alteration, it ended up being ever-so-slightly too big.  But it’s not that noticeable, and it just makes it a super comfy dress to wear.  I love my new comfy cozy corduroy dress!


You can sort of see here that it’s a bit loose.  I really love the color, too.  With my brown boots and jewelry, I look like Mrs. Autumn Woman, the companion to The Onion’s Mr. Autumn Man, LOL!  It’s perfect because fall is my favorite season!  It’s been like 20 degrees here this week, so I’m lamenting the coming of winter just like Mr. Autumn Man does at the end of the article.


When I turn to do side views in my photos, I sometimes look like I’m checking out the bookshelf, so I decided to do it for real this time, haha.

deer-and-doe-sureau-buttonsI really wanted to finish this dress and didn’t have time to go to Vogue Fabrics, where they have an obscene amount of buttons, so I had to rely on Joann’s.  I had a really difficult time finding buttons I liked at Joann’s, but I ended up with these and I think I really love them!  They look like ceramic, but I think they’re just plastic.  One thing to note about this pattern is that it’s not really a button-up on top – that’s a mock placket, and the buttons are just sewn on top of it.  This is fine with me because I think it would look weird if any of the buttons were ever unbuttoned, so it wouldn’t really be functional and would just be extra work.


I’ve worn it twice now and I plan to wear it for Thanksgiving tomorrow because I LOVE it.  It’s super comfy, excessively fall-ish, and fits pretty well even if it’s just a smidge too big.  Yay for Deer and Doe patterns!  I can’t wait to make more.  I’ve never seen myself as having a body shape that would look good with button-down shirt dresses, but I really like the Bleuet, and I think it could look good on me.  I think I’d also like it in a fine wale corduroy, but maybe I’m just obsessed!