Draping a Ruched Knit Birthday Dress

Hi everyone!

In this post, I’ll be showing you in more detail the dress I made as my 2nd project for my draping class this past Spring.  The assignment was to drape a dress out of a knit fabric.  I was excited about this project because I love knit fabrics as they are very forgiving and comfortable to wear.  I wanted to choose a style and fabric to create a dress that I could wear on my birthday (which was on May 5th).

The style I chose was inspired by this casual but classic asymmetrically ruched dress:

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This was my sketch (that my teacher needed to approve before beginning):

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The fabric I bought was (yes, again) from Jo-Ann’s.  When I first saw it, it was part of their newly released Spring collection and I just about died when I saw it.  Pink, floral, with neon – this is sooooooooooooooooooo me.

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The only thing that made me flinch was that the fabric is modal (yay) but dry clean only (boo).

Since it was going to be for my birthday, I thought, “what the hey” and I purchased 3 yards (and the price was a pretty penny even with Jo-Ann’s coupons) because I knew I would be doing some serious ruching.

Maybe this was my fault, but I trusted my teacher’s word (which I may never do again with expensive dry clean only fabric), but she insisted that it would be fine to drape and cut the fashion fabric without a practice prototype.  I am addicted to muslins so I was very hesitant about this, but I thought, “she’s a teacher, she MUST know what she’s talking about”.  Her reasoning was that the drape of each fabric is very individual and that it’s best to work with your actual fabric on the dress form.  So off I went to start draping on the dress form.

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The process was not that easy because my teacher wasn’t able to give instruction in the detail that I’m accustomed to, nor was she able to give enough hands on direction.  My ruching was far from perfect and I couldn’t quite get the technique down (I was basically winging it).  But in the end, I think I came up with something that is close to my inspiration despite the fabric being a busy print and my ruching being somewhat uneven in areas.

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I cheated a little and used the sleeve pattern for the plantain t-shirt as our teacher didn’t really explain how to do sleeves properly (let’s just say the whole semester was basically “do whatever you want” time in that class, and yes, that was completely frustrating for me).

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All in all, despite not really learning how to properly ruch or drape sleeves, I feel I ended up with a dress that I love that fits me quite wonderfully!  I think this says a lot about the quality of fabric (I love modal).  I wore it several times this past Summer, not only on my birthday (yes, that’s me at the Fabric Store in LA),

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but In  NYC as well.  It was a hit!

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I can’t forget that it was also in the RTW section of my school’s fashion show in May:

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Even though I wasn’t able to come out of it with a flat pattern to maybe one day replicate the dress, I’m hoping that if one day I take the advanced draping class, a more organized and knowledgeable teacher will be instructing the class.  Until then, at least I got a nice, wearable dress out of the experience!

A T-Shirt Dress Kinda Summer

Hi All and Happy “First-Day-of-Autumn”!!!

Today will be a quickie post just highlighting some of the t-shirt dresses I made and wore during Me-Made-May this year.

It was quite a hot summer here in Southern California this year and I’m glad I was able to switch up my work wardrobe a bit by throwing some dresses into the mix.  My style is extremely casual as it is, so the t-shirt dress is a great way for me to not overheat while still sticking to a style that I’m comfortable wearing all day.

3 of the fabrics from the 4 dresses I made were purchased from Girl Charlee, the last was a Michael Levine loft find.  All 4 dresses were made from a Frankenpattern I made from the plantain tee (bodice) and the Vogue 1314 skirt.  Looking back, I’m realizing that I should/could have altered each pattern to more closely match the stretch of each fabric I used.  But I’m only just now reflecting on that because I’m learning about different stretch ratios in my knits class.

Here are each of the dresses:

The first is made of a mint and cream striped ponte knit.

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This is a version made in a mustard and ivory striped cotton jersey.

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Here is a similar striped black and white cotton jersey (from the Michael Levine loft).

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The last, and my favorite is a camo cotton modal spandex version.  This version is so soft – almost as comfy as pajamas!

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For this camo version, I got stopped in NYC and asked where I got the dress.  When I explained that I made it, this woman asked me to make one for both her and her daughter.  This was extremely flattering considering… it’s a t-shirt dress!  What I’m discovering more and more as a fashion student is that, people tend to like most what you wear/make when it really reflects your own style and flatters your own body.  So, that was a really nice compliment!  And if anything, it is confirmation that my makes are starting to suit my personal style more and more – double yippee!

These dresses were constructed almost 100% on my serger and finished with a double needle.  The neckline edge finish was either self-fabric or black ribbing (for the camo).  I also finished the sleeves with ribbing on the camo version.  Super simple – easy to make and wear!  I think each of these will transition nicely into the Fall and will get a lot of wear out of them before the temperatures cool down over here.  What are some of your favorite Summer/Fall transition pieces?

Ah… Girl Look At That Body… Ah… I Work Out

Remember that LMFAO song?  I couldn’t think of a title for this post and that was the first song I could think of.  So, I apologize in advance if that song gets locked in your head for the next few days.  (I’m sexy and I know it – haha!)

I’ve mentioned on my blog before that I work as a part-time spinning instructor.  Though I don’t carry the most ripped and chiseled body in Southern California, fitness has been a huge part of my life since I was a teenager.  I love aerobics, any type of movement with jumping, dancing to the beats of music and of course, spinning.  I work out anywhere from 3 days a week to daily and so, I have quite an extensive workout wardrobe.

After making my first pair of workout tights back in January, I realized how easy it was to make workout pants.  And not only easy, but fun!  I could make workout pants from any spandex/stretch fabric I wanted – no color, print, pattern would be off-limits!

During Me-Made-May, I decided to make a few pairs of workout pants in crazy-printed, clearance spandex.  These fabrics, I think no one in their right mind would buy if they were looking to make a dress or top out of them.  They’re pretty “out there” – wouldn’t you agree?

orange_blue pink_red purple_orange red_purple

I found all of these on super clearance at Jo-Ann’s.  Though I can’t say for sure, but to me they looked like fabrics that no one wanted (unless just for practicing with), and for some reason, I felt that I could do something with them that could make them wearable.

I used the same pattern that I modified to make the Nike Knock-off (McCall’s 6173) to construct 4 pairs of tights that were 3/4 in length.  I used different colors of wide, non-roll elastic to finish the waist for a snug fit.

I previewed two during Me-Made-May, but the other two I have yet to reveal/document.  So here they all are:

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Wanna hear the craziest part?

Every time I wear one of these to the spin studio or to the gym, I get approached by complete strangers asking me where I bought them.  When I tell them I made them, they immediately try to put in an order with me!  Some even beg and plead and promise they won’t tell anyone they got them custom-made by me, but that they “need” them.  Isn’t that nuts?  People are a trip!  If they knew they were made from the sad fabrics at Jo-Ann’s that no one wants, maybe they’d be singing a different tune?

But isn’t that the beauty of creating?  With a little vision, we can create something new and beautiful with what was once thought of as junky, clearance items.  I, now, have plenty of work out pants to last me until … well, until they fall apart.  But I’m happy I found something for my active lifestyle that is so easy and fun to make.  I will be making a pair of knit pants from scratch (from a sloper based on my measurements) for my knits class this semester, so I’ll find out how that matches up to this TNT pattern of mine.

Do you guys work out?  When you do, do you wear bright, crazy colors and patterns?  Or are you more conservative and subtle with your workout wear?  What are your thoughts on these pants that I made?  Too crazy?  Not crazy enough?

Have a great week everyone!

Draping a Bustier Dress

Many of you who follow me on social media may have seen this photo that I posted back in the Spring:

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It was a mini sneak-peek of a structured garment, in my case, a bustier dress that I designed and patterned based on one of my favorite bras and a size 12 dress form at school.

I found the draping class I took in the Spring to be very challenging.  Aside from the class itself being not very structured (the curriculum was only loosely based on a textbook and the making of practice samples was not strictly enforced), I found myself having a hard time unleashing my creative side (in that, I am accustomed to obeying rules and having structure in most areas of my life).

You may remember the first of three projects in which I was to create “anything” out of unconventional (non-fabric) materials.  My least favorite project of all time!  I think if I had a second go at it, I would be able to get more creative with my choice of materials and silhouette but at the time, I really wanted to learn and I felt letting me do whatever I wanted wouldn’t involve any learning on my part.  Learning is not play-time!  Haha – I’m such an uptight scientist sometimes.

Anyway, the 2nd project was a draped knits project which you may have seen in my Me-Made-May 2014 collection.  It was the pink floral ruched dress that I made for my birthday – I loved this dress (and I hope to post in more detail about it soon).

Our 3rd project was a draped dress made of woven fabric.  This was difficult for me to decide on because I dress very casually and I didn’t have an occasion coming up in my schedule for me to make a formal dress for.  So I went on pinterest looking for inspiration ideas.

I love bustier dresses.  Over the years, Dolce & Gabbana bustier dresses have become an obsession of mine.  I dabbled a little in a bustier dress-making during the Little White Dress contest I entered earlier this year, but I didn’t quite feel like I got a hold on understanding the boning and construction part of it.  I made it out of extremely stretchy knit fabrics – probably my first mistake.

During my pinterest lurking, I saw this dress in Gwen Stefani’s L.A.M.B. collection, and I was immediately floored!  “That’s it!”, I said to myself, “I will make a casual, colorful and fun bustier dress”.

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And so, I went to Joann’s and looked for some fun fabrics to work with.  I found this double-sided denim which which had a fun ikat print on one side and a cool tropical print on the other:

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I found a complementary light-weight fabric (still at Jo-Ann’s) that I could use for the piping detail.  I found this:

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It is a “silk-feel” polyester that had the same color palette as the denim.  Perfect.

In school, I am deemed a Joann’s fabric master.  But trust me, I see all the ugly fabric they have, too!  I think it’s all the years shopping at Winners and TJMaxx that has honed my gift for finding needles in haystacks.

Anyway, I made up a muslin of the dress before I cut into my fashion fabric of course.  I got the best advice ever from my corset teacher saying that I should make the cups pattern pieces by draping on my favorite-fitting bra.  After making up the cups pattern and sewing up the cups in muslin, I pinned the cups onto my size 12 dress form at school and began pinning muslin onto the dress form to drape the remaining part of the would-be princess seamed dress.  After making up the dress pattern and muslin, I sewed it together and tried it on.  I further altered the dress to fit it to my body the way I wanted it, then transferred the changes to my pattern.

I was now ready with a workable pattern which I added design details to such as a pockets.  I, also, chose to mix up the front and back of the denim pattern on different pattern pieces of the dress.

I made a facing and an inter-layer (made of coutil) for the bodice boning channels of the bustier and I interfaced the facing cups.

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Then, I constructed the dress adding piping detail into all the seams.

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The most difficult part was putting together the 3 layers of the bodice – this is something I still need to perfect because the neckline/cup seam was so thick due to the 3 layers and the piping.  I hand stitched the 3 layers together through the cup seams.  The dress has an invisible zipper closure, hook & eye and the hem is finished with hem lace and hand stitched for an invisible hem finish.  I had some of my fellow students tell me that the piping fabric I chose would be “too much”, but I went with my gut (and sometimes I like being “too much”) and stuck with it.  I think the piping detail is one of my favorite elements of the dress!  And of course, who doesn’t love a pocket?  (Notice how the print on the pocket perfectly matches the dress?  Sneaky me and my print matching!)

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This is the garment I’m most proud of this year as I draped the dress, modified the pattern and constructed it with advanced techniques.  With this dress, I  really feel like envisioned it and executed it from start to finish.  My mind is blown that I designed and draped the pattern myself!

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I think that if this wasn’t a school project, it is not something I would have ever made on my own.  This makes me realize that maybe I should create more ambitious projects and be more patient with the pieces I make.  I love everything about it and when I wear it, it feels like it is both, who I am and who I want to be – Colorful, whimsical, and playful while still being functional and well-built.

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I’m planning on using the pattern to make the base layer of a bridesmaids dress I’ll be wearing next Spring.  I’m really excited to make it and practice even more “couture” techniques I’ve learned in school.

Doesn’t it feel really great to make something you feel embodies your personality, style and soul?  I’m starting to get that feeling more and more with pieces I make and the feeling is exciting and kind of addicting!  What was your favorite make this year?  What print, colors, styles, silhouettes do you think embody your soul’s personality and style?  I’d love to hear about what garments you’ve made that make you feel the most “you”!

 

The Plaid Archer …

from my 2014 Winter sewing list.

Remember this list (from this post) everyone?

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Well, I finally decided to get back on it now that Spring and Summer have made their way in and out of my life.  Just to let you know, I didn’t just stop posting, I actually stopped sewing for a long, long time.  I’m OK, thanks for asking.  I was just putting more time into some other endeavors like travel, fitness, socializing and well, Summer!

Fall and “back to school season” seems to always get me back on track especially since I’m taking a knits course and a Tukatech (advanced pattern making using CAD software) course from now until the end of December.  This means I’m still really busy, but hopefully will have more motivation to post my makes.  I also miss the blogisphere dearly!  But, I digress…

Grainline Studio’s Archer.

I could leave my blog post with only those 3 words, and I know you’d understand.

This is everyone’s favorite button-up shirt – and mine, too!  My first version was on my top 5 hits of 2013 list, and it must be on everybody’s favorites list because this pattern is crazy-versatile.  I don’t even wear button-up shirts but I’ve had fabric put aside in my queue waiting for me to make more versions of it!

This plaid fabric had been in my stash for about 6 months before I started working on it back in February.  It is funny because I’d been searching every website and fabric store (including LA fashion district, Michael Levine’s and Mood!) for the perfect plaid fabric (perfect, to me, at least).

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I wanted something with red and black, but I didn’t want it to have too many colors – or resemble my Catholic high school uniform kilt.  I really looked long and hard, and when I finally found exactly what I was looking for, lo and behold – Ladies and Gentlemen… it was at Jo-Ann’s!!!  Honestly, Jo-Ann’s has great fabric!  Maybe there is a little too much polyester in their fabric section, but hey, if I’ll wear it, it’s better than buying higher quality stuff that will just take up room and sit in my stash, right?

Anyway, for my plaid version, I wanted to try using View A.  Some sewers have not been partial to the View B (a.k.a. frilly bum cover) version, but I LOVE that version!  It was what actually got me to buy the pattern in the first place!  But this time, I wanted to see how View A fit me.

I know a lot of people found the pattern straight out of the envelope to be a little relaxed in fit, but that is normally how I like my tops.  So, I decided to cut out a straight 8.

In my advanced sewing class last Fall, we spent a few classes learning about properly matching plaids.  I won’t get into too many specifics, but the technique we learned made it very simple.  First, we were taught to prevent headaches by cutting in single layers.  Second, we matched the plaid by lining up the pattern on the fabric perfectly on the grain and then matching the notches of the adjoining pieces to the plaid.  Honestly, it’s that simple.  As long as the grainline is right and the notches are matched perfectly, you get perfect plaid matching!

As my teacher said, it’s more important that the horizontal lines connect than the vertical – so as to not distract the eye from the flow of the plaid horizontally.

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What do you think?

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I purposely wanted a red plaid shirt because there is a pair of brown jeans that I have (as seen in the photo) that I absolutely love (soft like butter to the skin), but I don’t really have much in my closet that goes well with it (as I have a lot of black and grey tops in my waredrobe).  I think my new plaid archer looks great with the brown jeans!

Of course, it is a part of my “Constancia” line – named after my beloved Grandmother.

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So, there she is, folks.  The archer that took 7 months to complete!  Might be a record for me but I’m glad that I finished it!  I’ve actually been looking through the patterns/garments in my queue that I had planned to make for the Winter and Spring and I’m really happy to note that I still want to make them all!  I think that says a lot to being aligned with my personal aesthetic.  Yippee for personal alignment!!

I’ve made a new list for the Fall:

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Most of the pieces are garments I’m making as projects for my knits class so as not to overwhelm myself but I am carrying over what I was not able to finish last Winter.  The grey ruched modal dress, black knit blazer and the Rachel Roy knock-off dress are a few that I’m carrying over and hope to be able to wear this coming Winter.

Thanks for sticking with me in my on-again-off-again blogging schedule.  My plan is to blog more about some of the MMM’s I didn’t post about and my projects from my classes from the Spring.  Hope you’re up for it, there are few really special pieces that I’m really proud of in that bunch.  I hope you’re having a very happy September everyone!

Summer

Hi everyone!

I’m back from my fabulous vacation visiting NYC and Toronto!  I’ve actually been back for a while now but I’ve been trying to get back into some sort of routine now that it is Summertime.  Without fashion school classes this term, I’ve been letting myself really enjoy the longer days spending time with friends and family – I haven’t actually been at a sewing machine since May!

Here’s a quickie re-cap of my trip out east:

NYC

Can I just say, I love this city?  I get inspired and excited pretty easily and I could not believe the energy that exists in NYC.  There is just a presence there that is so aligned with who I am when I’m in “the zone”.  Do you know what I mean?  When I’m focused and driven and have my eyes set on a goal, I’m just living in the moment and things are very real.  It’s in these times when I feel most alive.  It’s when I get things done effortlessly and efficiently.  It’s when things just work out.  It’s intense!  This is exactly how I felt in NYC.  People seem to have a lot of purpose there.

The whole experience there was amazing.  The food, the fashion, the sights, the shows, the shopping, the drinking and being merry – I loved it all!

Guess who I bumped into?

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Sonja from Ginger Makes met up with me and my sister and took us to a few of her favorite places.  Of course, Mood Fabrics!  And because she knows how I am so into making work out pants nowadays, she brought me to a few spandex houses!  I still dream of all the spandex to this day.  She was so kind and generous with her time!  And for those that haven’t met her in person, she really is as nice and real as she is on her blog.  My sister even said, “So, a complete stranger is going to meet us and show us around Fashion District?”.  And I said, “Yes!  That’s how us sewing bloggers roll!”.  She was shocked and delighted that there are still genuine people in the world.  Maybe we’ve been living in Orange County for a little too long – haha!

Toronto

After our fantabulous week in NYC, we journeyed back home to Toronto.  People used to tell me Toronto was a smaller version of NYC.  I would say, no (maybe 1000x smaller)!  But our trip home was also amazing.  There is a feeling you have in your heart and gut when you’re “home” and that is irreplaceable.  I got to see all my friends and family and it was like my sister and I had never left!

I also met a “new” friend.  You know her as Gjeometry – I, now, know her as my dear soul-sister, Catja.

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This woman is amazing!  She took a whole day out of her Summer schedule to take me all over the “Spadina/Queen” area of Toronto (the fashion/fabric district).  At the end of it, we shared a lovely meal together (with yummy alcoholic beverages might I add) and we even have a “Twinsie Challenge” (same matching fabrics in different proportions) which I’m sure you’ll see on both of our blogs soon(ish)!

I’m so grateful to have started a blog and to have joined this community of the kindest and most creative people.  It’s really incredible that so many of us are literally miles and oceans apart yet are connected through the love of creating things.  Yay us!

I’m so happy to be back in California.  Vacations are great but there’s nothing like getting back into a routine.  And don’t you worry, I do feel my sewing machine calling out to me everyday.  I think it’s time I answer her call.

I hope you are all having the most wonderful Summer!  You’ll be hearing from me again soon!

My Me-Made-May 2014 Round-Up

Hi All!

Well, I’m off to NYC tomorrow (for the first time ever – weeeeeeeeee!!!) so I thought I’d put up my Me-Made-May’14 compilation before I leave.

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It was so much fun participating this year!  It’s been something I’ve wanted to be a part of in the past but just never had enough me-made garments to be able to.

A few things I’ve learned:

  • I’ve made some really great garments and stuff I love to wear!
  • I love my me-made basics (particularly the plantain) more than store bought basics!
  • I’m considering giving up on the making-my-perfect-pair-of-jeans quest.  Either the fabric quality of the denim I’ve been using or my approach to fitting my legs and waist are way off, or I may just be better off with high quality store-bought denim.  My me-made jeans were the only 2 pieces I wore this May that I wanted to get out of once I got home.
  • It’s a pleasant surprise when the first items I reach for in my closet are me-mades.

Thanks for being a witness to my first MMM!  I hope you had as much fun as I did!

To see the weekly summaries, check out these posts:

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Weeks 4 & 5

Have a great end of May – see you on the other side!