August 30, 2012

McCalls 6331


I told ya I'd be back with more! I wasn't kidding. I've been busy with sewing during my unintended internet sabbatical.


The Goal: After doing a lot of pattern drafting I was looking for some instant gratification so I went for a regular ol' pattern. And I wanted to use up some of my stash and a pattern I hadn't made before.

The Pattern: McCalls 6331 is one of those Generation Next series of patterns by hot new designers or something like that. Anyway, I liked versions B and C but was too lazy to do all the piecing involved with C so I went with B. ;)

One of the problems with losing weight is that I no longer have my go-to size. So I went with a 12 because I had success with that size before and while it fits in the waist the bust is a little too big. I might be able to get away with a 12 in a dress with a high neckline and sleeves but something this fitted I probably need to make a 10. Lesson learned!


The Fabric: Some floral cotton voile that I bought at the common thread and some dark navy blue leftover in my stash. I think it's a linen blend. The navy is used for the lining of the bodice so that the folded part shows the lining.


The Changes: I did a rolled hem on the bottom scallops with black thread. I just got the rolled hem throat plate for my serger (mine needs a different plate and my hand-me-down serger must have lost it at some point) so I was excited to try it out. I don't remember what the pattern wanted you to do for the hem... maybe use bias tape as a facing or make a hem facing...

McCalls 6331

I also added lingerie snaps on the dress straps to keep those pesky bra straps from drooping. I used tiny metal snaps stitched to a short length of serger thread chain. Best idea ever!


The Results: I'm breaking my own rules (well, they're more like guidelines, anyway) by making a sleeveless dress and while it's a cute dress I think I'm realizing why I don't like sleeveless. I hate feeling like I'm constantly worried if my bra-straps are showing and making adjustments. I do think it's really cute and I've worn it a couple times in different situations so far but we'll see how much I wear it in the future.

August 29, 2012

And I'm Back! With a BurdaStyle Blouse


Yes, I have returned! With a new computer! That I got, like, today.

First of all, I was thisclose to finishing my new pattern when my old laptop gave out and I have yet to install Adobe Illustrator on this computer to finish it. Luckily I saved the pattern file on an SD card so I can work on it without having to recover my old harddrive.

So that means it'll be a little while before that pattern is released but it is coming, I promise! Thanks for sticking with me!!


Until then I have lots of sewing projects to show you. I'm surprised how much I got done without being connected to the internet.

The Goal: The most recent book we picked for our Bibliostyles meeting (my sewing book club) was the BurdaStyle Handbook, and me being the procrastinator that I am, I needed to whip up something quick for the meeting.


The Pattern: After seeing awesome versions of the blouse from A Good Wardrobe I was smitten with the design. I did the original variation from the book and cut a straight size 38 that fits well.

The Fabric: Oooh, this is probably what I'm most proud of... it's silk charmeuse (charmeuse, people!!) that I starched the heck out of to stiffen it which really helped with sewing and cutting. Plus, the starch just washes out when you're done!


I found this fabric in the jobber section of a Hancock Fabrics store. Every once in awhile you find a gem. I like to call it an Asian Toile. It's got motifs of hunters, camels, deer and palm trees - kind of like a hunting scene on a traditional French toile pattern.

And I found it used in the envelope sample for this Simplicity pattern. I wish I could find more of it because it's really cool.


The Changes: I didn't change anything with the fit but I did leave out the side zipper, elastic in the waist and I made my own waist tie by making bias tape rather than using the pattern piece (yes, I made bias tape from charmeuse. I'm so proud of myself!)

The Results: I love this top! I feel like I can dress it up or down and it fits well. What more could I ask?

Oh, and I couldn't resist doing a little cataloging just for fun. This is from Vogue's new "hunching over in an office window" collection.


I'll be back soon with more!!

August 22, 2012

Quick note

Hey all, just a quick note about what's going on over on the blog. I'm having major computer issues lately. So much so that I need a replacement (which I've ordered and should soon be shipped).

In the mean time - sketchy computer that doesn't want to turn on means no picture editing, no posting, and worse, no pattern launching.

So I'm not MIA but my computer is and iPhone blogging isn't what it could be. But that does mean that when I'm back in action I'll have plenty of projects to share!

Thanks for sticking around! You're the best!

August 10, 2012

Dixie DIY's Summer Swimsuit Sew-along Pt 8: The Finished Swimsuit!

Kwik Sew 3779

Thanks everyone for following along on this swimwear journey. I'm finally rewarding you with the finished product!

Kwik Sew 3779

To recap, in case you haven't been following along, this is Kwik Sew 3779 Version B and is the second time I made it. The first time the suit turned out to be way too big. This time I chose a size smaller but lengthened the body by 1/2".
Kwik Sew 3779

The fabric is from Fabricker here in Austin. It's a royal blue nylon/lyrca blend that was a dream to sew with. The lining is plain black from Joann. The swim cups came from Sew Sassy.

Kwik Sew 3779

I'm digging the outcome. This suit fits way better than my last. The shirring looks great and everything feels snug and covered. Now I just need to find a new place to go swimming!

Kwik Sew 3779

Want to revisit previous Swimsuit Sew-along posts?

Pt 2: Supplies
Pt 3: Cutting

August 7, 2012

Dixie DIY's Summer Swimsuit Sew-along Pt 7: Arm and Leg Elastic


Woohoo! Last construction post for our swimsuit!

Today we will add our final elastic to the arm and leg holes.

Kwik Sew is kind enough as usual to tell us exactly how long to cut our elastic for each size.

If you want to go ahead and cut all your elastic at once be sure to label which piece goes where because the arm and leg elastic are almost the same length, almost. So don't get 'em mixed up!

I'm starting with the armholes.

I cut my elastic (19" for size S) and I stitched the ends together with a zig zag stitch overlapping 1cm.

Then I marked my elastic into fourths (like what we did for the neckline elastic) and evenly spaced it around my armhole.

(oh, lookie! I made a helpful graphic!)

Here's another part where our good friend, "negative ease," comes into play. Our body has to fill out the swimsuit but some parts of our body "dip in" more than they "fill out." These dips need more help from the elastic to keep the suit from gaping.


On these armholes that point is in the front part of the underarm next to the bust. At that part you'll need to stretch the elastic a little more than over the shoulder or the upper back area. If you've ever sewn a bra most instructions will tell you to stretch the elastic more near the underarm as well.

We attatch this elastic like we did for the neckline. Pin and stitch the elastic to the wrong side edge of the fabric. I'm using a serger for this part and I start at the underarm seam.

Next fold the elastic back so that it is covered by the fabric edge and topstitch (I'm doing zig zag). You may need to stretch the fabric a little bit but just do so enough that the fabric is smooth and without wrinkles.

Great! Now on to the legs.

We do basically the same thing. Cut our elastic, stitch our ends together and divide into fourths.

Then we pin and stitch, fold and topstitch.

The legs have a "dip in" part, too. You don't need to stretch the elastic much around the backside of the legs as your bum is a good "fill out" part of your body. Rather, you need to stretch a bit more in the front from about where your hip bones poke forward down towards your crotch. (Gosh, sometimes sewing is like a terrible anatomy lesson. Never in my life would I thought I'd be writing about crotches as much as I do on this blog.)

By the time you've finished your 2nd leg hole you'll be a master at elastic sewing! BTW this technique for adding elastic is also commonly used in lingerie so there ya go! You can now sew yourself some exceptional undies as well!

All done folks! If all goes well I can take pictures of me in this suit tomorrow as it is too dark now. If you've been following along I hope you've enjoyed it and for those who want to venture into swimwear sewing in the future I hope this sew-along will be helpful! If you've made this suit or any other by following this sew-along post a pic at the flickr group. No, you don't have to model yourself if you don't want to. ;)

I know this sew-along has been 7 posts in the making but not counting cutting time you could seriously finish this suit in under 4 hours and most of these skills you probably already know or are easy to learn. Don't fear the swimsuit! It is your friend! And I swear you'll love it more than any overpriced, underwhelming suit you can buy in a store.

Pt 2: Supplies
Pt 3: Cutting

August 4, 2012

Dixie DIY's Summer Swimsuit Sew-along Pt 6: Attaching front to back

Only two more posts to go and you'll be ready to strut your stuff on your beach vacay! Aren't you excited!?!?!?! Let's get a move on. Last time we finished with step 7, adding elastic to the neckline.

Remember how we didn't gather under the bust yet like it says to do in step 4? Well, we're going to do that now.

Sew gathering stitches between notches and be sure not to sew over the swim cups tucked inside.

Now we're moving on to step 8 - attaching the bodice pieces to the front gathered piece at the bustline. Pin the bodices to the gathered front piece, right sides together. Adjust the gathers until the bodice pieces fit and stitch the seam.

Next place the lining on top of the seam you just stitched and sew again.

Finally pin your swim elastic to that seam (step 9 includes elastic measurements) and stitch over again. I'm doing this part with a zig zag stitch rather than a serger because serging three times gets pretty bulky! Plus the lining will be folded back so that the raw edge will be hidden.

Ok, fold back that lining piece and turn everything right side out. Pin the front and the lining together at the sides. Topstitch right under that bust seam to hold all those seam allowances and elastic together.

After that we baste the sides, leg holes and crotch of the front and lining pieces together. Take this time to adjust those side gathers if you need to.

Almost there! Step 10 has us stitching the side seams. I'm using my serger 'cause I like the finished look.

Then we stitch the crotch seam which might seem strange because we're attaching a convex curve to a concave curve. Lucky for us swim wear fabric is stretchy so you can gently stretch the pieces to fit as you sew.

Wow, we are practically done! Next time we'll finish up with arm and leg hole elastic and then you can run around your house screaming that you made yourself a real-life swimsuit and scare your pets!!

Pt 2: Supplies
Pt 3: Cutting

August 1, 2012

Last minute stitching, and "cataloging"

Last Minute Top

Yes, I have been sewing things other than swimsuits lately. This is a top I made to go to a friend's birthday shin-dig at a downtown bar. I needed something sparkly for party time and I had bought this fabric a long time ago with the intention of making a top like this but never got around to it. Not until about 36 hours before this get together did I decide to draft and sew this top.

Ok, let's get down to the important bits.

Last Minute Top

The Goal: One of my New Years resolutions was to sew clothes for specific needs. I hardly ever have to dress up to go downtown and as such I don't have much party wear. This top is a good remedy for that.

The Pattern: I realize it might have been faster to just adapt an existing pattern but I figured this was so easy I'd just take my basic two-dart bodice block, cut a sweetheart neckline shape and leave the bottom dart open for some flare. That mostly worked except my fabric has a mind of it's own...

The Fabric: The base fabric is some crazy poly I bought locally. This stuff is strange. It's sparkly and textured and also stretchy, but I don't think it's a knit. I don't even think it's a woven. It's more like some strange alien sheet of molecules unknown to man. I don't even know if I can wash it...

Last Minute Top

The top part is a sheer organza-thing. It's not silk but I'm also not quite sure what it is. Rather than pre-washing it in the washing machine I put it in a bowl of water, left it for a minute and came back to find the water dyed purple!?!?! WTF?? And the fabric smelled strangely like petroleum or some car cleaning product, basically like my garage. Hmm, perhaps I ought not to wear such materials... too late!

Last Minute Top

The Changes: Originally I had a side dart in this shirt but the stretchy fabric dragged down so much that the dart was pointing closer to my belly button than my - well, you know. I unstitched that dart and let the fabric be free.

The stretchy alien fabric doesn't fray so I didn't bother to hem it or finish the seams (which worked well because I didn't have time...)

Last Minute Top

Before trying the top on I thought it might be hard to fit it over my head so I added a back slit with a button closure at the back of the neck. Yeah, that was totally unnecessary but I guess it looks cool.

Last Minute Top

The Results: It's not my favorite thing I've ever made and I have no idea how I'm going to wash it but it serves a purpose so I'm satisfied.

(Vogue 8817 and myself. This is much harder than it looks. I'm gonna need way more tree pose practice before I get the stability to hold my knee that far up in the air without falling backwards.)

Ok, I admit I didn't come up with this idea (I'm pretty sure Andrea did) but the concept of mimicking ridiculous pattern company catalog poses was so funny that my last sewing group meeting resembled a crazy yoga class from hell.

I'm dubbing it "cataloging" mostly because I can't think of a better name. Similar to planking or draping or, my personal favorite, cat breading, "cataloging" is the act of photographing oneself posed like a model from a pattern company catalog book. The sillier the better.

***Ugh, that's all for today. I promise to be back on on Friday with the next installment of the Swimsuit Sew-along. Today I have to work on my new pattern and tomorrow I've got to clean up my house for a Project Runway watch party - so busy!!