Threading Lightly

Adventures in amateur sewing


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Happy and plaid: the Dahlia dress

Pattern: Dahlia from Colette PatternsIMG_2585

New Skills Acquired:

  • Machine blind hem stitch

When I look at some of my projects from last year…

You Like Plaid

 

 

 

 

 

I do!  It may be a mini-obsession.  I do have some non-plaid projects in the works, but for now….

This dress has been sitting as a draft in blog forever.  I wanted to share this on The Monthly Stitch and even bumped it up in my project queue because the July theme was all about plaid. I rushed through all the hot sticky weather to try to finish this dress in time to post on the site and then…the blind hem stitch on my machine wasn’t working.  On July 28th.

Yeah I know I could have just hemmed it by hand, but I really wanted to try out a new technique.  And that was more important than trying to force a project into a theme.  It’s all about my learnings as a sewist, right?  (Back me up on this one)  So in the corner this dress went while I worked on other stuff, involving other non-blind hems.  I decided to pick this back up when my machine was properly repaired.  Welp, at least I can also get that button-hole stitch fixed too.

Clash of the Tartans

I bought this fairly light-weight tartan fabric when I was on vacation in Scotland last summer.  I had a picture in my head of the type of dress I wanted to make from it – something simple but also stylish that would really show off the plaid design.  The Dahlia dress seemed perfect – Continue reading

Venice Dress on dummy


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The garment of Venice: a tale of two fabrics

Pattern: Simplicity (vintage) 6216, view 2Simplicity Pattern

The search for the perfect pattern to match an idea in your head is a challenging one.  But sometimes it really works out!

Venice FabricI found this printed fabric by accident in the back room of one of my favorite fabric stores, Sewfisticated Fabrics.  It’s actually really nice quality cotton with a tiny bit of stretch to it. The print looks like the canals of Venice, Italy.  Really cool find, so I had to buy some, even if I wasn’t exactly sure what it would be.

Somewhere I got the idea it would look good as the top of a dress, with the bottom being just plain black.  I also figured it should probably have an empire waist – so the search began for a pattern I could use for this vision.

I started to look at some vintage patterns, because I couldn’t really find many modern patterns of the dress style I was looking for.  I settled on this Simplicity pattern because the picture had a similar look to what I was going for.  For the black skirt, I bought fabric that would dress up the look, but I’m not exactly sure what it is – some sort of polyester.  It’s a little on the thick side, so I knew I was going to have to use a serger so the seams didn’t appear too bulky.

Most of the vintage dress patterns I have used have been really easy to construct, and this one was no different.  For the bodice, it requires you to cut out a facing, which finishes the top and armholes without a lining.  When you cut out the facing and sew it all together, it is one long piece like so:

Facing

Then you sew it to the bodice with right sides together so it can be flipped to the inside:

Facing on bodice

This is before you flip the facing to the inside.  The raw edge is pressed and sewed as well.

I find this “facing” method a lot in vintage patterns and Continue reading

Featured image


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Sheer Skill: beautiful inside and out

Pattern: Butterick ivy + blu B6021

Butterick B6021

I live in New England. This winter has been murder with the snow – more so than usual.  February was one big white blur and everywhere you turned, snow banks were piling up higher and higher.  Houses were buried, mailboxes were lost and ice dams were creeping onto many a roof.  People have grown a little colder as well – sick of shoveling the stuff, driving in the stuff and seeing the stuff. The waste management company for my town actually hurled my recycling bin on top of a giant snow bank where I could barely climb to reach it.   I just left it up there for four weeks. I love snow, but even I realize it has been a little much this year.  I decided, as the icy winds blew outside, to make this sheer dress even though I knew it would be a while before I could actually wear it.Sheer dress 1

I finally got around to using the birthday material my mom got me, seen in this post.  This was the first time I have worked with material so thin and sheer, but I knew french seams were the way to go.  They work so well on this type of material, plus I’ve been striving to make my garments look more professional, inside and out.

The Tale of Two Bodices

When I saw the picture on the envelope, I had a feeling the bodice on this might be a bit too big.  I generally have this problem anyway, having such small shoulders.  And look at that model – it looks like the top is just falling off her.  So I cut out a smaller size, which still seemed to match my measurements.  After I sewed up the finished seams and stitched in the lining, I tried it on.  It was so tight under my armpits, it started to leave welts.  The straps couldn’t even rest on my shoulders straight.  I was going to try to adjust and let out the seams on the arm holes, but I realized that I still had a lot of the fabric left – plenty more for a new bodice.  I was even able to squeak out a new lining, although that was a close call.  Looks are definitely deceiving with this one – the top is not as loose as it looks.

Strap on dress

Pinning it Down

This pattern was mostly easy to follow.  It has an elastic waist, so you have to create a casing and do the whole thread-the-elastic-through-the-hole thingy.  But no zipper!!  Getting the dress on and off is also surprisingly easy despite having no zipper, although figuring which was front or back took some thought (sewing a tag in would be a good idea).

The only directions I got confused by was Continue reading


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The Dress-for-Wedding Challenge: Epilogue

Pattern: Vogue Patterns American Designer, Kay Unger New York #V1353….continued from part 3part 2 and part 1

I thought it might be nice, since half my blog is about this one dress, to post a picture of the final dress in action.  Here is the dress I wore to my friend’s wedding over the July 4th holiday:

IMG_2963

Me, having a conversation with a mystery person. I cropped her at her request.

A few days before the wedding, I added the thread belt loops and a fabulous gold belt from TJ Maxx ($9.99).

Belt loop

 

 

 

 

 

The wedding was wonderful – everyone had a great time.  I was so happy to see my friends take this next step in their relationship. I also couldn’t believe that I got a few compliments about my dress, from people I didn’t know and who didn’t know I made the dress.  It gave me a great ego boost – and I was ready to dance up a storm at the reception (not pictured).

Dress for WeddingOne final picture, then I swear I will never speak of this dress again!  Haha!  But seriously, I would use this pattern again, I especially liked how the bodice fit and I didn’t need to make too many adjustments on the skirt.  It would be interesting to see it made with a different print, so if anyone out there attempts this dress, let me know!

IMG_2962

Seriously who is that mystery person?? I know you all want to know!

 


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The Dress-for-Wedding Challenge: Part 3

Pattern: Vogue Patterns American Designer, Kay Unger New York #V1353….continued from part 2 and part 1 Phew!  It’s finally done.  Actually, I do still need to buy a belt, but all the sewing is finished! Where we left off...okay I put the invisible zipper in.  For those who don’t know, this is what an invisble zipper looks like.  The teeth are not exposed on the outside, like a regular zipper, so the material is sewed around the front of the zipper tape. Invisible zipper

Invisible zipper foot

Plastic invisible zipper foot – a great alternative to buying a whole new foot

It really wasn’t that complicated, but there were a few minor beginner hiccups that I will share.  I watched this video, which described the whole process perfectly.  I didn’t have a proper invisible zipper foot, so I just used the cheap plastic foot pieces you get at the fabric store and it worked just fine.  Pinning the zipperI also wasn’t going to take any chances screwing this one up, so I made a bright colored basting stitch where the zipper was going to go, and pinned one side as the video instructed me.  After I sewed the first side, it seemed right, but I had trouble zipping it up.  It seemed twisted.  Thinking I did the whole thing wrong, I un-did all the stitches and tried to figure out what the issue was.  I couldn’t see what I was doing wrong, so I attempted stitching it again.  It seemed right, until I tried zipping it up for the second time.  I finally figured it out – the bottom of the zipper had just flipped to the inside, so it only looked like I pinned it wrong.  Ooops!  Oh well, I know for next time. After sewing both sides, the zipper flipped in with the material and indeed became invisible within the back seam.  But all of a sudden I couldn’t zip the whole thing up to the top.  This puzzled me for a bit, but after some examination found that I had just sewed one section too close to the teeth and the zipper was getting stuck.  Minor fix – all set! Invisible zipper finished I think it just needs a press so that the material is a little flatter around the zipper, but otherwise you can barely see it.  Major learning: it is extremely important to sew as straight and close to the teeth as possible.  This is where that plastic foot comes in handy since it actually has a groove that allows the foot to glide easily over the zipper teeth, keeping everything straight and tidy. This dress has a full lining in it, which attached at the neckline.  The pattern also had me cut out a hem facing, which was to be sewn to the bottom of the dress.  As I completed this step, Continue reading


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The Dress-for-Wedding Challenge: Part 2

Pattern: Vogue Patterns American Designer, Kay Unger New York #V1353….continued from part 1

There is nothing like a slightly rainy holiday weekend to give you the motivation to sew!  Things have been so busy over the last couple weeks with work, random obligations, and my actual graduation from business school that I hadn’t gotten a chance to work on my new dress.  I was grateful for the 3-day weekend to get started.

But I first want to mention that my oldie New Home machine is now in semi-retirement.  I’m sad that I won’t be using it as I’ve gotten quite attached to it, quirks and all. It will be a good thing in the end because I have far less bobbin issues with my mom’s old (my new) Husqvarna machine.

New Home sewing machine

Okay back to the dress.  The pattern seems very straight forward, instead of cutting the front bodice on the fold it had me do a little flip-around thingy instead since there were really no other pieces to cut on the fold.

Bodice patternI was able to get it pretty even.

The front bodice has darts and pleats.  I hadn’t done darts in forever, so I had to try to remember how they worked.  I had to go online for a refresher video to remind me how to sew the triangles in and press them down.  Ah yes, it was all coming back to me.  They were so easy, I may start putting darts in everything now!

The pleats along the neckline were something I hadn’t done before so I watched a few online videos (like this one) and figured it out.  I had some trouble with this research because there were a lot of references to box pleats and knife pleats and I had no idea what type this was.  I still don’t actually know, but the video I found showed me a picture of a pattern that looked like mine.  Works for me!  The pattern markings Continue reading


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The Dress-for-Wedding Challenge: Part 1

Kay Under Pattern V1353Pattern: Vogue Patterns American Designer, Kay Unger New York #V1353

I almost put the title as The Wedding Dress Challenge, but changed it because I didn’t want people to think I was getting married, or worse yet attempting to make a wedding dress!  Eeeps!  A friend of mine is getting married on 4th of July weekend and I thought it would fun to wear something of my own creation.  I may be eating my words later.  But I feel like I have enough time to complete this task.  Plus I’ve had this pattern that I’ve been dying to try and some lovely material I bought many months ago that is just itching to be used.

Dress for wedding material

I think this is cotton, and it also has a little bit of stretch to it

I know, it looks pretty complicated.  But the rating says “easy” so I have some confidence in this project.

I had hoped to do some cutting on this today, but my day just got in the way.   So check back to see my progress as I attempt my first special occasion dress.

Something Old: This pattern has been sitting in my collection for about 9 months, which is not too old, but older than other patterns I have.

Something New: It calls for an invisible zipper!  I’ve never worked with one before and it looks like I need to use a special foot for it.

Something Borrowed: Technically I am borrowing my mom’s old sewing machine (only 10 years old), since she just bought a brand new one.

Something Blue:  I think there is some navy blue in there somewhere.

I also need to get about 2 yards of lining material, Continue reading