Aqua Swim Coverup

Aqua Swim Coverup

We bought a city pool pass for the summer and have been to the pool twice already since school got out hurrah!! Unfortunately we had to leave mid-way through the first trip due to a “contamination” at the pool, but…let’s move on. Clementine decided she needed a swim coverup, and had clear ideas about making it, so we got to work.

Aqua Swim Coverup

She’s discovered the joy of having an idea and then sewing it to life, which gives me a great deal of joy, as you can imagine. For me (and I’m sure for many of you), sewing is more than just choosing fabric and a pattern and making something; it’s about realizing a vision, and I’m excited that Clementine is starting to get that. She doesn’t feel restrained by pattern pieces (though it probably would be easier if she did), she just decides what she wants and says “let’s make it!” It’s still my job to figure out how to get from idea to finished thing, but I’m sure over time she’ll begin to understand the fundamentals of clothing-building. She can operate the sewing machine pretty well with minimal supervision (she has her own Hello Kitty Janome), so that’s fun.

Aqua Swim Coverup

This project took all of an hour, since it’s basically just a rectangle of rib knit fabric (purchased here) sewn together at the side to make a tube, with some shirring on the top and straps added (similar to the Beach Goddess Maxi, but shorter and with straps). I didn’t even hem the top and bottom; I just used my serger to finish the edges with the standard serger overlock stitch. I did most of the sewing this time, while Clementine stood by and barked orders. She did find the shirring part to be pretty fascinating.

Aqua Swim Coverup

The coverup shrunk by about 3 inches in length when I threw it in the wash, even though I prewashed the fabric, which reminds me to mention that when you are sewing with knits, you really should prewash and dry your fabric two or even three times if you’re worried about shrinkage. It wasn’t a big deal her since it started out a little long (and now, perfect!), but if this had happened after I had made her a tee, I would have been frustrated. Takeaway lesson: PREWASH KNITS MULTIPLE TIMES!

Aqua Swim Coverup

Aqua Swim Coverup

As you can see, she’s still a character. But she’s grown so much bigger this year…waaaah!!! Aqua Swim Coverup

shirring infographic

Here are some more shirring posts from the blog:

Tutorial: Shirring with Elastic Thread (how to shirr!)

1. Aqua Swim Coverup
2. Beach Goddess Maxi tutorial
3. Baby Sunsuit Tutorial (free!)
4. Pomegranate Pierrot with Shirring
5. Princess and the Pea sundress
6. Yellow Birthday Dress with Bows
7. hello pilgrim!
8. Rainbow Dress Tutorial (free!)
9. Summersville Washi Tunic

 

 

 

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Beach Goddess Maxi + tutorial

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So I made myself a new maxi dress for the beach! It makes me feel super glamorous. It’s made out of flowy cotton rayon which also makes it incredibly comfortable. The other great thing about this dress is that I made it with just one 1.5-yard piece of 54″ wide fabric. AND it was super quick to make, which is just the right speed for me these days; it’s gotta be fast otherwise it just won’t happen.

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The basic idea is that you cut the fabric into two rectangles, sew the sides together, leaving the bottom 18″ unsewn for slits, sew with elastic thread in a big spiral around the top portion (shirring tutorial here), and then finish the hem and slits. The only thing that’s a bit time consuming is the shirring; you go through about four bobbins worth of elastic thread, so that requires some serious concentration because sewing around and around a tube of fabric a bajillion times is not the most mentally stimulating activity. I should have put on some TV. I just finished binge-watched all five seasons of Breaking Bad on Netflix, which is so good and awful at the same time. It was like watching a wreck happen, I just couldn’t look away. If you do not like violence do not ever watch that show. It’s downright horrifying. And addicting. But awesome. Anyhoo.

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I’ve mentioned before that this cotton rayon challis is one of my favorite fabrics of all time. Pink Castle has a few of the Free Spirit rayons in stock, including this one, and I found a few at Pink Chalk too (both of these shops sponsor my blog). In addition to being really comfortable to wear, the cotton rayons also cinch up like a dream when you do the elastic shirring.

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I sketched out some basic instructions just in case you wanted to make one yourself; I’m pretty sure that this would fit just about anyone, but if you’re pretty small (XS or S) you might want to narrow the pieces by a few inches so that it doesn’t just slide right off of you. I’m wearing a women’s size large these days and it fits perfectly.

And my handy-dandy tutorial for elastic shirring can be found here:

shirring with elastic thread

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Pomegranate Pierrot with shirring

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As you can see, she’s outgrown the pink boots.

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KCWC sew-off challenge #4: Shirred Pierrot

I made this Pierrot Tunic with fabric harvested from the ill-conceived “Prairie Girl Top” of Spring Top Week 2010 that I think I actually never wore. That was a particularly bad year for spring top execution, as I had a considerable amount of baby weight to lose yet, so nothing really fit, and for some I reason bit off waaay more than I could chew that year design-wise when planning out my tops (does anyone remember the Clown Top?). Not a great idea considering I had an 11-month old baby.

I remember that I fussed and fussed with that top, and even after fussing it still fit poorly. Not oh-that’s-so-nasty poorly, just unflattering enough to prevent me from wearing it. Ever. Still, I have had a terrible time parting with garments that don’t fit, especially when they’re made by me. And I really love this voile and the ruffle along the bottom so now it’s been upcycled into this darling little thing! Hooray for being a packrat and never throwing things away *slight sarcasm there*!! Hooray for happy endings!!

Well, maybe. I need to see if these sleeves will tighten up a little more once I throw this in the wash — often the elastic thread will shrink down even more with washing — otherwise I’m going to need to pull it out and re-sew the shirring in a different place than the old elastic casings (3 layers of fabric = too thick for shirring).

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As mentioned in a previous post, this top was made with the Pierrot Tunic sewing pattern without the neckline ruffle and with elastic thread shirring around the neck and sleeves. You could do this with just about any peasant-style blouse, but just in case you’d like to make one and need a wee bit more direction than that, I’ll post some pointers for modifying Pierrot with shirring soon.

One last photo of my little diva-for-the-camera:

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Summersville Washi Tunic

Washi Week!!! OK, last one, I promise (for now).

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I admit I fell pretty hard for Lucie Summers‘ Summersville collection. It’s so modern and basic, I can see it as table linens, boy shorts for Elliot, twirly skirts for Clementine and Wiksten tanks. So I bought a pile.

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And the paint-brush stroke print just seemed perfect for a casual Washi top, with shorts in the summer or jeans and a cardi in the winter. I admit that normal persons would probably not wear it with green skinnies, but then I am not a normal person.

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But just to show that I can pull off “normal,” here it is with a pair of jeans:

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Here you get a nice view of the bodice which I adjusted for a small bust (see the Resources section at the bottom of the Washi Pattern page for a how-to)

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This top was made with the “tunic view” of the Washi Dress Pattern, which is available now!

hello pilgrim!

I had the most AMAZING time in Atlanta this past weekend!! I can’t wait to show you photos. In the meantime, I’ve got to post some of the backlog of stuff I’ve been making for myself in the last couple weeks because I have been a busy busy little bee when it comes to “selfish sewing.” Here’s what I wore Saturday for our “Handmade Garment Success” talk and the afternoon workshop at Whipstitch:

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UPDATE: the dress in this post went on to inspire the Washi Dress sewing pattern, which can be modified using the Washi Expansion Pack to add a bow to the neckline.

I can hear you thinking “why is she sewing dresses when she should be sewing tops?!?” Yes I know. And my only answer to that is: you know how once you’ve really truly committed to do one thing, you suddenly have a great fantastic totally unrelated idea that you absolutely must do, like, right now? That is pretty much the story of my life. Except in this case making a dress from Lizzy House‘s latest line (Hello Pilgrim) is at least somewhat similar to top-making in that I can use the same pattern to make a top if I wanted to. Though even if I wanted to, I’m not sure I would (see first sentence of paragraph).

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A few weeks ago I finally got a few hours to sit down and read Built By Wendy’s Dresses and also Jackets and Coats (two different books) and I remembered why I like her books so much. Wendy is all about taking a basic pattern and riffing on it, which is exactly the way I like to sew for myself. After a few years of making tops for myself, some with commercial patterns, most without, I finally feel like I’ve arrived at a handful of basic outlines that fit/flatter me which can then be altered to make variations that look completely different. These outlines have changed a bit as I’ve gained/lost weight, had a couple babies, etc, but my overall shape has more or less stayed the same for the last 5 years. I’ve had some bombs and some wins. I learn more from the bombs than the wins, but I always learn something. This is the joy of sewing handmade for myself.

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This dress design began as a concept for a top, but then when I saw this beautiful turquoise cotton print in person (which, strangely, had NOT made much of an impression on me from the computer screen), I knew it had to be a summer dress. And since I’m supposed to be sewing tops right now, it was perfect timing to get bit by the Dressmaking Bug *rolls eyes at self* [end sarcasm]. At the time of this writing, the Hello Pilgrim fabric collection is currently being carried by Fabricworm, Pink Castle, and Whipstitch (you can click on those links to go straight to the collection) just to name a few that sponsor this blog. I have a feeling it’s going quick.

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I heart the side pockets, and the back is shirred so I can pull it over my head (let’s hear it for no closures, wooooot!).

Though I don’t wear dresses nearly as much as I wear tops, I think after the top sewalong is over we might have to have something for the dresses. Don’t you think? We’ll see. You know I’m about 50% reliable when I come up with crazy ideas, so don’t get too excited. But making this one makes me want to make more dresses. Don’t worry though, I just finished my second spring top last Thursday, and can’t wait to show you some pictures!