Summer wrap-up

Aug. 20, 2016

Usually when I make a wearable muslin, I make the smaller project first, such as the shirt version of a dress. But for the Victory Patterns Nicola, I had a great silk with limited yardage that I was not willing to sacrifice to any fitting problems.

I bought this autumn-colored fabric from Fabric Recycles with no idea how I wanted to use it. So I figured no loss if it was a disaster. 

I assumed it was rayon, but as I used it, it felt like it had some polyester in it. A burn test seemed to confirm my guess. According to the selvedge, Hamil Group made it.

I cut size 4, which was a really difficult line to see for tracing. As I traced and made pre-muslin alterations, I was glad I did a little online research. Bolt's blog warned that the skirt dart sizes are reversed. That would have confused the hell out of me. Also, shorter sewing bloggers consistently advised to shorten the dress. Victory designed the pattern for heights 5 foot 6 inches to 5 foot 9 inches. I'm 5 foot 4 inches, so I shortened the skirt 3 inches. I also didn't like how long the sleeves looked in a lot of online photos, so I shortened those 2.5 inches. 

My first post-cutting alteration was to take in the shoulder seam one inch. I lowered the armhole 1 inch to make up for this but suspected the tiny armhole was still going to be a bit small.

I also cut the sleeves at size 4, moving the notches an inch to accommodate my changes to the armhole. I basted it at 5/8 inch wrong sides together to check fit and work with the ridiculous amount of ease in this sleeve. Then I stitched it at a quarter inch for a French seam. (This stuff frayed a lot, which made that quarter inch tricky.)

With all that ease, I ended up with a few unintended gathers at the shoulder. But it's barely visible in the red and gold pattern, so I decided F it. They stay.

It is a tight armhole. Bad posture is impossible.

Victory's instructions give a really cool way of attaching the lining. It gets stitched to the hem before sewing the skirt to the bodice.

Instructions also call for stitching the skirt pleats after attaching the lining. Instead, I sewed them separately and pressed them in opposite directions.

I made a few mistakes/decisions I don't love with the lining. I pinked the vertical seams, and the yellow is so light you can see it. It would have looked nicer to sew a second row of stitching and trimming a narrow seam allowance, which I had done with the hem seam.

Also, I topstitched the entire edge before attaching the skirt to the bodice, so I couldn't wrap the facing over the waist seam. And I couldn't fold the lining under and stitch in the ditch to hold it in place.

So I attracted the skirt and skirt lining to the bodice at once and then folded the waist seam under itself, holding it in place with topstitching. Not my best, but it works. Next time I'll make sure to topstitch at the end.

Also, this happened:

Ugh, I caught the lining when I was trimming a seam. So I hand stitched it together. At least it's on the inside. 


To try to help the lining roll in, I stitched the lining seams at three-quarter-inch seam allowance instead of five-eighths. It worked OK, but it still wants to show a little at the overlap.

I love this button. For some reason, I wanted a beautiful button, maybe because it's the only one that shows. I found it at Sarah's Fabrics in Lawrence. I also bought the Bemberg lining for the skirt there.

I substituted a button for hook and eye on the inside. It's leftover from my Hawthorn dress. I moved the closure 1.75 inches tighter than the markings on the pattern.

Victory's instructions for the thread loop look promising, but I like this method. It's the only hand sewing I enjoy. I meant to measure the loop before I attached it, but it's about 1.25 inches for a 9/16-inch button.

Overall, I'm happy with the dress. It's not perfect. I don't love the feel of the polyester in the fabric blend. It's a little flashy — I have to pay some attention to the short front of the skirt. And the armholes are a little uncomfortable (but only a little) after a few hours. Also, the pockets I added are a little high and back. I can't change how far back they are because they're in the side seam, but I can make them longer and open lower next time. (Pockets are my addition, not a Victory design.)

It's certainly a wearable wearable muslin, and I learned what I needed to change for the important fabric: the silk shirt!

This is a lovely shirt. The silk is from this year's trip to Stitchology. It was the end of the bolt, so I had less than 1.25 yards. The pattern calls for 1 3/8 yards. I cut it on a single layer and had none leftover.

I don't know the brand. There was little text on the selvedge.

The fabric wanted to run at the slightest tug, so I switched to a new cutting blade and machine needle. I used silk organza from my stash for the neckline interfacing.

I lengthened the bodice 1 inch because I found the dress waistline hit me a little above my narrowest point.

I also opened the armholes about five-eighths inch under the arm. I left the sleeves the same because there was too much ease with the original armhole.

I found myself mildly frustrated with the silk on my machine. (Combined with a glass or two of wine, it got a little out of control.) The easy solution was switching to a walking foot.

BTW, I wanted to take these photos outside, but Mikey was back at work on the deck. (See the new red stain in the dress photos?) It's all done now, so my next project photos will probably be out there.

My only big screw up was overlapping the sleeves backward. (The back of the sleeve is supposed to be on top.) But I had attached the sleeve using a French seam, and there was no way I was going to try to rip that shit out. At least I noticed before I started on the second sleeve.

I was pleased that the shirt turned out not see-through. The fabric is not dark or thick, so I wasn't sure how it was going to turn out. And I don't have a good source anywhere near here for a silk lining. 

I like the look of this top with the Wren skirt hack, but it would be nice to wear it with a more summer-appropriate fabric than merino wool. I tried it on with my stripy Wren. Mikey says no. I don't mind the mixed patterns.

I hand sewed snaps in place of the hooks and eyes on the waist tie. You can also see the trio of darts here. It was annoying to sew so many darts, but it definitely eliminates any pointy boob consequences of a single dart. This could be a useful design element on a project with less drape.

There isn't a lot of gaping in the dress or the shirt, but I don't want to think about it while wearing them. So I added a snap at the bust as well.

I thought maybe I could avoid topstitching the neckline, but it wanted to roll out, even with understitching. 

Nicola was not at all on my summer sewing plans. In fact I didn't own the pattern until a few weeks ago. Mikey went into Bernina with me one day and spotted the pattern. It worked out well because I didn't know how I was going to use that tiny bit of silk. (Yea! Another crop top!) Plus, I think it's well thought out for Victory to mirror the look of the tulip skirt at the sleeves. Neither is the most relaxed way for me to dress, but they're cute!

After all the challenges of silk and fitting a new style, my brain needed a quick easy project: under-the-sea PJ pants.

Fabric is Moda cotton also from this year's fabric run at Stitchology in Albuquerque. This is my second go at the Sewaholic Tofino.

Sorry for the baggy butt photos. This is what they look like after several nights of sleeping in them.

How cute are these little seahorses on the selvedge?

Thanks to my past self for leaving a few notes. My first pair of Tofino shorts is a little big. I cut size 2 this time and shortened the crotch 1 inch. I also brought the hem up 9.5 inches and graded the inseam to fold into the hem easier.

I again trapped the bottom of the pockets in the hem.

I also added three-eighths inch to the height of the waist band. The 1.5-inch elastic likes to flip funny inside my first pair, and I hope this eliminates that problem.

I didn't really want to use pink for the topstitching, but it looked best when I tested several colors.

This was a quick make, just what I was looking for. I cut the shorts out in one evening and constructed them in an afternoon and evening with lots of interruptions.

So many fun critters in this print:

Jellyfish and sleepy octopus/Tiny starfish — side note: I almost lost my starfish last month after a crab died in my aquarium, but it seems to be on the mend.

Happy puffer, my favorite fish!/The squid looks like a pickle. And yes, that's a narwhal across my ass.

Now I'm off to go work on another Victory pattern. It's one I bought a year or two ago and finally am trying. I'm squeezing in a couple of end-of-summer dresses, but they're both good to transition to fall. Today is crazy cool. Mikey and I are going to the Sporting KC game tonight, and I'm going to need a scarf and layers!

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