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Dresses I’ve made

March 6, 2017

Another Concord tunic: the bread & butter of sewing

Is there anything more comfortable than a ponte tunic? Methinks not.

I recently found this amazing doubleknit at Emma One Sock (get it here!), which is black with tiny little dots on one side, and stripes on the other. EOS consistently has the best quality ponte out there, and this one’s no exception. My first project with it was another pair of True Bias Hudson pants and they’re… interesting (check out my Curvy Sewing Collective review!).

After that blip I decided to go safe, with something reliable I’ll wear all the time: yet another tunic. And hence, here we have another Concord T-Shirt tunic hack.

Concord Tunic

Much like my last stripy version, I went up a size, and drafted a facing for the neckline. I also topstitched this one, though I did it in black this time so it’s a less dramatic look.

Concord Tunic

Looking at these photos I probably could have gone up another size (the folds under my armpits indicate my bust needs a bit more room), but it’s as comfortable as all get out, so I’m not complaining.

Concord Tunic

I have come to the conclusion that all sewing pattern designers inevitably slide towards tunics and leggings at some point. Is it the comfort? The ease? The lack of having to think about your outfit? I’m not sure, but I’m firmly in team #tunicandleggings these days.

Throw on a handmade trenchcoat, and you’re all set!

Have you tried turning the Concord into a tunic or dress? I’d love to see your photos! Lengthening a pattern is one of the simplest hacks you can do as a beginner, and I highly recommend it for feeling like a total genius.


Cashmerette
February 27, 2017

The jury is out: StyleArc Adeline dress

For a long time, I’ve made my rejection of sack dresses well known. Heck, I even founded a sewing pattern company in opposition to the idea of sack dresses being the only things available for plus sizes!

And yet.

Perhaps my aversion to sack dresses was primarily because for a long time it felt like the *only* thing available to me. Now that I can whip up a fitted garment at any time, and am no longer focused on always looking as small as possible, I find myself more attracted back to the silhouette I disdained for so long. Let’s also make no bones about it: Meg’s StyleArc Adelines have also been calling my name.

So I decided to just jump in and give it a go – what’s the worst that could happen? I could sew up the end and use it store potatoes.

Behold, my Art Teacher Approved Sack Dress, a.k.a. the StyleArc Adeline:

Style Arc Adeline

There’s no getting around it: it’s a SHOWSTOPPER of a dress. And I’m pretty sure an art teacher literally made that fabric.

StyleArc Adeline

When I decided to sew a sack of my very own, I knew I wanted a fabric with a really good drape that didn’t cling. Luckily, last year during my LA fabric buying trip I found this amazing fabric at Rimmon (a rather odd wholesaler who does retail but only after they’re really rude to you). I’m still not 100% sure what it is – rayon, perhaps? It’s mid-weight, twill weave, matte on the outside, slinky on the inside and BLOOMIN’ MARVELOUS to wear. Seriously fantastic. And the perfect fabric for a sack. Thrillingly, I also picked up another 3 yards on my recent LA trip.

StyleArc Adeline

Usually I’d have to adjust a StyleArc pattern quite significantly for my bust, but given the ultra unstructured nature of this dress, I cut a straight 20 and crossed my fingers. I think it worked? As much as you can say that you are wearing the “right size” of sack. I do think I should shorten it by 2 or 3 inches (StyleArc drafts for 5’9″ I believe, and I’m 5’6″). The dress has a really delightful V-neck with facing (I topstitched it down to eliminate flippage), a cocoon shape, high-low hem and cut-on sleeves (with rather perplexing sleeve hem instructions, but plus ca change with StyleArc).

Style Arc Adeline

So now we get to the elephant in the room. When I first made this and tried it on I LOVED it. I immediately went out to dinner with a friend, shared my latest musings about career choices, and felt like a total fox.

Then I saw these photos. And I’m not so sure.

Style Arc Adeline

OBVIOUSLY a sack is not going to make me look smaller, and that is not my primary mission in life: I can take up space, thanks very much. But…. geez. That’s a lot of… dress and fabric. So now I’m a little more on the fence. I wonder if shortening it and potentially taking a bit off the side seams would make me more comfortable.

Style Arc Adeline

Style Arc Adeline

What do you think, dear readers? Sack dresses, yay or nay? And this *particular* StyleArc Adeline, on me? Should I just accept my fate as an art teacher and get on with it?


Cashmerette
February 23, 2017

Sprouts are good for you! Sprout Patterns Turner Dress

One of the things I like most about sewing is the creative potential. If you can think of it, you can make it! Compare that to Ready to Wear clothing… ugh. I remember a particularly enlightening trip home to Scotland where I tried to find a black wrap top in a size 18. NOPE. Sewing has saved me/spoiled me.

However. There is one teensy issue, sometimes: finding your dream fabric. It’s all fair and well to have an amazing idea in your head, but sometimes you just can’t find the fabric. Or, it’s only available for an astronomical price. Or, they’ve run out of stock. When I started sewing (and especially before I discovered my fabric godmother, EmmaOneSock) I used to get SO FRUSTRATED at the lack of good fabric – and especially high quality printed jersey for my beloved wrap dresses.

That’s why Spoonflower and Sprout Patterns are basically genius. Can’t find the fabric you want? Then make it yourself, woman!

If you’re not familiar with Spoonflower, it’s a print-on-demand fabric company – and it also prints wallpaper and gift wrap. They print on a variety of fabrics, including – HUZZAH! – knits. Their quality in terms of dye fastness and brightness has improved over time, although their modern jersey still remains my #1 pick. That’s because it has all the poly benefits of strong colour, no-fade, and amazing resilience to being washed, without the nasty, cold poly feel. I don’t know how they’ve done it, but it really feels just like cotton.

Sprout Patterns Turner Dress

Sprout Patterns is a new wing of Spoonflower which also prints your *pattern pieces* directly onto the fabric. Read more how it works here. It’s a fantastic idea if you fit into a “straight” size of a pattern – and with Cashmerette Patterns having 3 cup sizes for each base size, your chance is much higher than with other brands. If you have to make major adjustments however, it likely won’t work for you for now (hopefully at some point they figure out how to make that happen).

Lucky me, I can fit into a straight Cashmerette size (20 G/H at the moment, sometimes the 18; I do need to take the sleeves in on this version a little), so when Sprout started listing the Cashmerette Turner Dress too, I couldn’t resist making my own. I found this beautiful large-scale abstract watercolour print in the Spoonflower shop (yep, you don’t have to be an artist – pick someone else’s design), and played around with the 3D model to get the pattern placement just so.

Sprout Patterns Turner Dress

I went with the modern jersey option, and as usual it’s gorgeous to feel and wear. Maybe I won’t wear it in the middle of summer, but 10 months of the year in Boston it’s definitely do-able!

Sprout Patterns Turner Dress

And then, we discovered this blue wall out the back of our AirBnB in LA, and it was kismet.

So, if you don’t mind, I’m going to get back to a-swirling.

Have you tried Spoonflower or Cashmerette Patterns on Sprout yet? What do you think? If you want to try them, you can get 20% off (until 11.59pm EST 2/26) using code CASHMERETTELOVE at checkout. If you know curvy folks who’d like to design their own dress but can’t sew, you should also get them to check out the White Glove Service – for a surprisingly small amount of money, they can have their Turner sewn up for them!


Cashmerette
January 16, 2017

A couple of Turner Dresses in the sun

It’s funny: product development takes so long, that I’m often wearing the next Cashmerette Pattern months and months before it’s launched! The main challenge is keeping them off Instagram (although the eagle-eyed among you may occasionally spot a future design…) but last year just after I developed the Turner Dress I went on a little trip to Palm Springs – and I couldn’t resist taking these pictures in amongst the amazing retro desert architecture.

I made both dresses from some gorgeous Art Gallery Fabrics jersey, designed by April Rhodes. This first dress is made from the Path Marker Slate design, which you can still get here. My one tip is to pre-wash the fabric – alas I didn’t (these were initially  meant as samples!) and it did shrink quite a bit after washing. The weight is beautiful – just heavy enough, and really soft to wear.

I dolled it up with a tan belt and shoes from Target which I ended up wearing constantly through the summer. Sometimes it’s my “throwaway” purchases that end up being my favourites. Funny how that works.

And here’s my second Turner Dress – which ended up making it onto the cover of the pattern! It’s another Art Gallery knit – the Painting Morale from the Bound collection, available here.

And who’d’ve thunk it, but I found another co-ordinating belt from Target.


I love the Turner Dress because it’s just so easy to wear – and though these were perfect alone for the warmth of Palm Springs, I’m still wearing them layered with tights or leggings and cardigans through the winter. Honestly, most days when I wake up I want to wear a stretchy dress with an elastic waist that still looks good – and the Turner is it!

Have you tried making a Turner Dress yet? What do you think?


Cashmerette
January 2, 2017

Bringing in the new year with a Concord Tunic

Happy New Year, funsters! And what better way to kick it off with one of my most-worn garments from late 2015: my Concord T-Shirt Tunic hack.

My steely determination to mostly wear tunics and leggings has already been documented in this space right here, and when I spied this amazing Japanese waffle-knit at Mercer’s Fabric, it had to be mine, and, a Concord tunic.

Cashmerette Concord Tunic

The fabric has a slightly curious texture – it’s soft on the back like french terry but slightly coarse and rough on the right side. It also has minimal stretch, so I knew I’d have to make a few alterations.

Given the lack of stretch, I sized up to the 20, and added a little extra on the side seams, which ultimately I ended up shaving back off once it was constructed.  I lengthened the pattern to a tunic using this method I’ve outlined before, and initially, I also drafted a hem facing. However, terry – and this knit – have an awful tendency to stretch out, and the hem facing was El Disastre! The whole thing flipped out like some crazy 60s hair flick. So that got chopped off, the tunic got a touch shorter, and after interfacing the hem I re-did it by simply turning and stitching.

Cashmerette Concord Tunic

The lack of recovery also means a traditional t-shirt neckband (like the one the Concord T-shirt is drafted with) won’t work, so instead I made a neckline facing. I raised the neckline a little because I wanted a bit more coverage for winter, and then traced a facing from the pattern. To stop it flipping out, and also for a fun touch, I top-stitched it with gold jeans topstitching thread!

Cashmerette Concord Tunic

I used the same thread and topstitching for the sleeve and bottom hem to tie it all together, and I love the final look.

Cashmerette Concord Tunic

So my tunic wardrobe continues to grow! I’ve been wearing this one non-stop since I made it – the only weird thing with the waffle knit is I have to stretch it out when it comes out of the washing machine to stop it shrinking every time. But it’s a small price to pay for a Concord Tunic I love! Have you ever sewn with this type of fabric? Do you have any tips for working with it?


Cashmerette
December 15, 2016

Drink, anyone? Burgundy Appleton Dress

Next up in my festive Cashmerette wardrobe: it’s a burgundy Appleton Dress! (And if you want your own, you can pick it up as a kit here).

Cashmerette Appleton Dress

As soon as I found this rich rayon jersey I was totally smitten, and although it was originally intended for the Turner Dress, I decided I needed an Appleton too. The colour works really well as a base for some glittery jewelry and voila! Relaxed party glamour.

cashmerettehoilidays-17

Let’s face it though, I’ll wear this all the time anyway. One can never have too many wrap dresses!

Cashmerette Appleton Dress

Have you ever made a fancy party-destined Appleton Dress? I’ve seen some AMAZING stretch velvet versions on Instagram (just search the hashtag #AppletonDress), and some gorgeous maxi-fied dresses, too.


Cashmerette
December 12, 2016

Polka dot overlay Turner Dress: fancy AND comfortable!

You know how sometimes you try on a garment, and you think oh this is just so me?

THIS IS SO ME! (And if it’s so you, too, you can buy your own kit to make the dress here!)

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I’ve been a fan of dresses with sheer overlays for ages, but never quite managed to make one for myself. Partly because they’re typically woven – and I typically don’t wear many woven dresses. Love the idea, don’t like the sitting-down-in-them bit. However, I recently realised that the stretch polka dot mesh I bought last year would make an amazing overlay Turner Dress… and so it did!

cashmerettehoilidays

The Turner Dress really lends itself to having an overlay: the bodice is lined, so simply use the black jersey for the inner bodice and mesh for the outer bodice. Then, I cut the sleeves from the mesh, and for the skirt, simply cut one skirt in black jersey, one in mesh, basted them together at the waist, and then constructed as usual.

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I tried a couple of different hemming approaches – in the end, I machine zig-zagged the skirt hem, and hand-sewed the sleeve hems. Next time, I’ll use some rip-away tissue paper on the sleeve and machine-sew them, I think.

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What I love most about this dress is it looks really fancy… but it’s incredibly comfortable! I’ve decided it’s my Christmas Day dress – it’ll look great, but plenty of stretchy room for turkey seconds.

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If you want to make your own polka dot Turner Dress, I put together some kits so you can do just that! Check them out here – you can get one with or without the pattern.

What are your holiday sewing plans? Stay tuned over the next two weeks for some more Cashmerette Holiday versions!


Cashmerette

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