Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Wiksten Shift Dress
with my Doc Marten shoes!
I have been following #wikstenshift on IG for a long time now and finally decided to buy the pattern and make the dress!  Last summer I bought 6 yards of Essex Linen to make a couple of Farrow dresses.  I like that pattern a lot, but the Essex is a bit too heavy, maybe not for the pattern, but for Central Texas.  The Farrow dress has a double layer of fabric on the front skirt to make the pockets.  It is an amazing and intriguing design, but once again, Texas.  Too hot! I probably need to find a source of linen that isn't quite as heavy as the Essex. On to the Wiksten Shift Dress!

Back in my studio, it was time to get busy! It feels weird putting in this much effort to make a garment without knowing if it will fit or if I will like it.  After thinking for a while, I opted to make a few alterations. It was tempting to put some bright yellow or bright pink for the pockets on my simple grey dress.  However, I decided to keep it simple. First up, cutting out the pieces:
I have long arms. So, I decided to pin the pattern to the shoulder seam of a dress I love, and check the pocket placement.  It was a bit too high, so I plan to lower it, not by a lot, but 1/2" will be perfect!
I also read the pattern before starting, which is pretty standard for me.  The finishing instructions for the pocket are pretty standard, but I wanted to try a lined pocket, using the same fabric that I would be using on the neck facing, a light grey dot print.

I cut out 2 pockets, and 2 pocket linings.  Because of the change, the process for sewing makes the pocket pattern a bit too big, so I altered it slightly.  With right sides together, I stitched along 3 sides, trimmed the corners, and then turned inside out.  After pressing, I zigzagged the bottom edge, and put two rows of topstitching along the top of the pocket.  Then I placed the pocket with the solid grey sides together sort of upside down on the placement dots:
I will stitch 1/2" from the bottom edge of the lined pocket (where the yellow, green, and blue pins are), and then flip the pockets up and pin in place.  
Next is to topstitch around the sides and the bottom edges. I wanted to be careful with the topstitching along the bottom edge because I didn't want the bottom seam to stick out and show.  So, as I approached each bottom corner, I used some forceps to sort of tuck it in and then proceeded to stitch slowly. It worked!

Once the pockets are complete, you proceed with sewing the rest of the dress.  I am going to add just a few more notes where I deviated from the pattern.

Neck facing:
I hate finishing the edge of a neck facing, especially when it says to turn under 1/4".  That is hard to do on a curve and have it look good.  For this dress it will be more important because that edge will be stitched to the dress front and the line of stitching will show, so the curve needs to be done well.  I opted to use a technique for appliqueing circles.  It requires hand stitching with small stitches a scant 1/4", then use a plastic ring, pull the threads to gather in the excess fabric on the folds, use some starch (applied with a cotton swab), and the iron.  It makes a beautiful edge!  Only, I didn't have a template for the shape of the facing.  I opted to just cut some freezer paper from the facing pattern piece, iron it to the back side of the fabric.  I used the hand stitching, the starch and the iron, and it is a really nice smooth curve!  Sweeeeeeeet!
Then I can peel off the freezer paper and use it again, if I make this dress again.  And I am thinking I might because I really love the pattern. I also like to finish the facing early on, so that it will be ready when I need it. 

I also like this photo of the process because it looks so scary! I call it the ring of a million stabby pins. 

Last step, the hem.  I was worried because this is called a short dress in the pattern, that it would be too short.  So, I did the hem slightly differently to allow the dress to be 1 1/4" longer.  I shouldn't have worried though, it would have been the perfect length for me just following the original instructions.  Next time I will know! (Also, in case I forget, I put a pencil note on the pattern!)
I wore my new dress all day, and it lived up to my unreasonably high expectations! The pockets are roomy! And, they do not sag or gap, perfect! I like the fit! It is roomy and a bit loose which makes it easy to move.  My fierce warrior stance: (ha ha!)

Well, that's it for my month of catching up on sewing chores.  Next week I will return to posting about the quilts I am working on.  I am not sure all these projects have been fun, but they have definitely been useful and worthwhile. I am glad to have them completed, vs. sitting in a pile! Cheers!

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Pajama Pants

If someone made pj's like this, I would buy them, but they don't.  So, I have resigned myself to make them. Sometimes when you see a fabric, you just know it's destiny, and this was one of those times. Despite the fact that I don't enjoy sewing clothes, I do like wearing them! And, this pattern is so incredibly simple to make, only 6 steps! 

Note: I did not purchase this pattern, it is what is left of an old and thread worn pair of pj's that was ripped apart to make the pattern.  This is not my go-to for sewing.  I prefer to buy a pattern and give the income to the designer.  I will show one of those next week. 

1.  Cut out the pieces.  I used 2 shapes, one for the front leg and one for the back, and I needed two of each.

2.  With right sides together, I pinned and then sewed the inseams of each front leg to a back leg. 

3. Then I sewed the two stitched sections together along the center front and center back. I always put 2 lines of stitching along the curves to strengthen the seam. 

4. The next seam makes the jamers look like pants!  I lined up the outer leg seams, front and back, with right sides together and stitch.  

5. Then I made a casing for the waistband. I opted to sew in the elastic so that it will never roll.  I also put buttonholes in the front so that I can have a drawstring too. 

6. Last step is to finish the bottom cuffs of each pant leg.  I turned in 1/2" two times and then stitched.  Super easy, and ready to wear!

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Neckline alterations

I bought these 2 Marimeko dresses last week eagerly anticipating their arrival!!  I bought two colorways because the last time I bought a Marimeko dress from Uniqlo, I loved it so much, I wished I had bought two of them.  However, when I tried the first one on, the neckline of the dress was too high and was cutting me in the throat. The neckline would have been fine if the dress was at all stretchy, but it was not.  And, I didn't want to send them back.  The colors are too pretty, and the A line, aka TENT dress, is so comfortable and cool for the summer.  Fortunately the design of the dress had an ample facing on the inside. Here's the part where I admit my novice level of sewing, the facing was one of those that connects the neck and sleeve hole facing in one piece.  I don't understand it, I still don't, but I thought I would risk experimenting on the pink and orange dress, and if it went well, then I would have a dress that I loved to wear, and would be willing to risk the second one, the grey and white. 

The pink and orange alterations worked! Here is a before (the grey and white one) and after (the pink and orange one). 

The difference is subtle.  I only cut off about 3/4" inch, but it made a huge difference in being able to wear it. 

I started with detaching the facing tacks at the side seams, and then ripped out the stitching that attaches the seam allowance to the facing.  Is that called stay stitching? I don't think so....It was however, very fine and tiny stitching, and I had to put on two pairs of glasses to see it!


I skipped the photos for the rest of the pink and orange dress, please forgive me.  On to the grey and white one.  The next step is to arrange the neckline so that the right sides of the fabrics are together.  Then I lightly sketched the line that I wanted to sew.  I used the piece I cut off from the pink and orange dress as a reference, and I made this one just slightly larger, about an inch. 

I pinned the facing to the bodice so that there would be no slippage, and then stitched along the line.  The scary part is trimming the seam line with scissors.  Yikessss!


This entire operation would not be possible if the facing hadn't been so big, so thank you for that!  I would have had to devise something else, and this solution was so easy! The last step was to sew the seam allowance back down to the inside facing, and reattach the tacts at the side seams.  Super easy!


Here's my two leftovers!  Evidence of success and bravery! I think I will keep them!
The final product? The neckline is now low enough that it doesn't choke me!  Hurray!

Wednesday, July 07, 2021

 A new cover for my KitchenAid mixer

I have decided to use the month of July to catch up on some sewing jobs that I have put off for a while.  This first one is the oldest.  I bought the fabric for this project about 6 years ago when I remodeled my kitchen.  I went from cobalt blue and white tiles to a lovely pale seafoam glass tile with white. Are you wondering what is under this cover yet?  What color is my mixer??  It is ice blue! Perfect with the tiles.  And, apparently when I bought my new refrigerator they gave me the free mixer!! I almost considered just leaving it without a cover, because it looks so good to me, but the bowl collects dust when not in use, so...

The kitchen remodel was a success story with the exception of the mixer cover (below), which now is beyond the ability to clean to get the stains out.  In order to commit to the project, I knew that I would need to rip the seams out so that I wouldn't be tempted to postpone the project again.  This is one of those projects that I knew I could do, but really did not want to spend any time on it. 


You can see the ugly stains on this thing, but it is amazing what you can overlook when you don't want to do a thing...

After ripping out all the seams, I drew a paper pattern and started thinking about the construction.  I knew that I would NOT be adding piping, but I wanted to consider both the shape of the thing, and the finishing along the bottom. This project has 2 hump shaped side pieces, 1 long center piece that wraps front to back (or in my case, 2 center pieces because my new fabric has a directional pattern), and 1 piece to use for the pocket. The original cover has a lovely scalloped shape on the bottom, which I did not want.  So, I squared it up a bit.

I got out my trusty compass and estimated the shape at the top.  The old fabric is spongy and smushy and hard to get an exact shape.  I made some measurements and drew some lines.  


Next, I assembled all the pieces and made quilt sandwiches, slightly bigger than the pattern.  The one above is for the front pocket.  I opted to use the same material for the front and back of the pocket.  Then, when you look inside the pocket, all the fabric you see is this lovely graphic floral.  The other pieces (the centers, and the sides) are sandwiched with batting and a plain white fabric that will be the inside of the cover. I was super lazy with the basting and just pinned it together.  Let the quilting begin! 

For such a lovely simple graphic fabric, I opted to follow the pattern lines.  This was fun and pleasing at first, but it got boring rather quickly, and what started as a one day project, morphed into 5 days.  Nuts!

Then each piece was cut to shape and, with right sides together, stitched. That part went fairly quickly, except for putting the pocket on backwards, ripping it out and trying again.  Also, I don't have a serger, so before stitching the pieces together, I used a zig-zag stitch to finish all the edges.  This fabric was a light weight upholstery linen, and I was worried it would come unraveled in what I expect to be frequent washings. 

It was all good, except that either my measurements were wrong, or I failed to consider the seam allowances going around the shape of those hump side pieces when attaching the center pieces, but the bottom of the cover came out very uneven.  The centers were too long, and the sides were too short.  My solution was just to trim it all up nice and even, and then use a tiny 1/2" facing that wraps to the inside to finish the bottom edges.  

Here's the final product!

And it looks good with my 'new' tile and solid white countertops! I am happy!