Bonnell Dress in Blue

I’d been eyeing the Bonnell Dress from Dixie DIY ever since it was announced. What can I say? Those side cut-outs called to me. Plus it’d been ages since I made a straight-up quilting cotton sundress in a novelty print.

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So I made one!

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I made a straight size 6 (and no muslin, because I like to live on the edge). The only modification I made was to lower the front neckline slightly.

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The fit is pretty good, although I think I might go down to a size 4 next time for a snugger fit. I’ll probably lower the front neckline even more next time, too–as it is, it sits very high, even for a jewel neckline.

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I was really pleased with how the side cut-outs turned out. To me, it was absolutely worth it to buy this pattern just to get the instructions for how to neatly finish those cut-outs (definitely an exercise in sewing origami). I can picture myself adding cut-outs to the sides of all kinds of things now, haha.

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I really like this fabric, too. It’s a Cotton and Steel print that I found at Stonemountain and Daughter. It is a quilting cotton, but it is quite light and drapey as quilting cottons go. Perfect for a sundress.

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I lined the bodice and skirt with gray cotton batiste. Here’s a close-up of the zipper and the nifty tag:

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Thanks for reading!

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A basic black maxi

I didn’t exactly mean to take a 6 month vacation from blogging, but, what can I say — life got busy and other things (like starting a new job) overtook blogging on my to-do list. But I have been sewing (a little).

This is my most recent project: a basic black maxi dress from New Look 6282 made up in yummy black rayon batiste.

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I like this pattern! I appreciate that it includes pattern pieces and instructions for a skirt lining (basically a built-in slip) and a bodice lining. The order of construction makes sense and the dress went together pretty easily.

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The only alteration I made was to shorten the straps slightly (not unusual for me), and to completely disregard the elastic length guides for the waist and the top back of the bodice.

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I also disregarded the instructions for attaching the straps to the back of the bodice. The instructions tell you to sandwich the straps between the bodice and bodice lining, which results in a clean finish but makes it impossible (due to how the rest of the dress is constructed) to change the placement of the straps once you’ve finished the dress and tried it on. I just left the straps loose in the back until the rest of the dress was finished so I could try the dress on and pin them exactly where I wanted them. Then I tacked them down by hand. A little extra work and not as clean-looking on the inside, but worth it for a better fit I think.

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A warning: tall ladies may want to lengthen the skirt! I’m 5’5″ and the skirt length is just right for me if I’m wearing flats.

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It’s good to be back in the blogosphere. See you again soon, I hope!

Pumpkin Renfrew

I finally got around to making a second Renfrew top! I actually made this back in November, but I haven’t had a chance to take photos until today.

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I made this top primarily because I found this orange knit at my local fabric store and fell in love with the color. And then I had to figure out something to make with it.

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The fit of this one is much better than the fit of my first Renfrew. For this one, I cut a size smaller than I did last time, and graded down an additional size at the hip (which makes sense, since Sewaholic patterns are designed for pear-shaped women). I also took in the side seams right at the underarm, and narrowed and shortened the sleeves. I think the fit is pretty spot-on, now. (It’s a little clingy, but I think that’s mainly down to the fabric being a little flimsy, not the fit being too snug. It doesn’t really bother me.) I even remembered to write down the changes I made on the pattern pieces, so it should be pretty easy to recreate them next time!

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I ended up wearing this for Thanksgiving this year — the color seemed appropriately autumnal.

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I made this all on my sewing machine, since my serger is still at my parents’ place. It worked just fine — I just used a narrow zig-zag to sew the seams, and finished the seam allowances with a wider zig-zag. I love that the Renfrew is finished with a hem band and cuffs, so you don’t have to worry about hemming a flimsy knit!

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That’s it for now! I’ll be back soon with a year-in-review post — I really want to participate in Gillian’s “Top 5 of 2014” series before it’s too late.

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Happy New Year! :)

Archer 2.0

I made another plaid shirt!

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Of course it’s another Archer. Do you even need to ask?

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The first Archer I made turned out a little boxier/looser than I wanted, so I cut one size smaller this time (a 4 instead of a 6). (To be fair, though, my first Archer has shrunk just enough, after multiple washings, that the fit is pretty great now. I’m going to be more careful about not shrinking this one too much!)

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Pattern modifications: narrowed the shoulders by about 1/2″, added 1/2″ of length at the lengthen/shorten line, added ~1/4″ of width on each side of the back at the hips tapering to nothing at the waist, graded down to a 0 at the cuffs, shortened sleeves by some amount that I don’t remember offhand. I think I may have overdone it on the sleeve-shortening, but I wear my button-ups with the sleeves rolled up 98% of the time anyway, so it’s all good.

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Want to know what part of this make I’m proudest of? Here, let me show you:

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See the pocket? NO? WELL THAT’S BECAUSE THE PLAID-MATCHING ON THAT SUCKER IS PRETTY PHENOMENAL, if I do say so myself, and I am super proud of it. Which I realize is kind of weird because, you know, it’s really hard to see from far away, so probably no one will ever notice it. Whatever. I know it’s there, and it makes me happy.

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I noticed one weird thing while I was cutting those pocket pieces–I think the pocket piece is drafted with 1/2″ seam allowance, when it’s supposed to have 1/4″ seam allowances (according to the directions). If you cut the pocket piece as drafted and turn under 1/4″, the finished pocket ends up being wider than the pocket placement line indicates the pockets should be. Not a big deal at all, but something that I noticed and was briefly confused by when I was trying to figure out how to match the plaid on the pockets and the shirt fronts. (It’s also entirely possible I messed up somehow, so take all that with a grain of salt.)

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Other than that, it came together really nicely. I’ve been wearing it tons since I finished it last month–if that’s not the sign of a successful make, I don’t know what is.

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P.S. I realized recently that I never got around to sewing a “Umbellularia Designs” tag into this shirt! Must fix that soon. :)

Pattern Testing: The Sandpoint Top!

I got to test a brand new pattern a few weeks ago — before it was officially released! Pretty thrilling stuff, huh?

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This is the Sandpoint Top from Gray Day Patterns. Gray Day Patterns is a new pattern company run by Helena of the sewing blog GrayAllDay.com.

Helena put out the call for pattern testers about a month ago, and I volunteered. I liked the sophisticated-yet-wearable look of the pattern, and I thought pattern testing sounded fun. If you’re unfamiliar with the pattern testing process, here’s how it usually works (with indie pattern companies, anyway). People who sign up to test the pattern are given a draft copy of the pattern for free and are expected to sew it up and send feedback to the pattern designer, which is then incorporated into the finished version of the pattern. Testers are not paid, but they are given a copy of the finished pattern when it’s released. I’ve tried to be unbiased in my review of this pattern; Helena did not specifically ask us to blog about our creations, but I really liked how mine turned out and wanted to share it. :)

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From the front, the Sandpoint looks like any other scoop neck, kimono sleeve knit top, but from the back…

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Bam! Surprise cowl action! (…Let’s just pretend my shirt ISN’T awkwardly tucked into the waistband of my pants in this picture, ok? This is the best shot of the back I got, so we’ll just have to deal with its shortcomings. :P) The cowl is secured by a band that is sewn across the shoulders of the top. This keeps everything in place so nothing falls off your shoulders. Clever!

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The only modification I made was to add a hem band at the bottom–I got the idea from one of the other testers. Helena actually added an optional hem band to the finished pattern, which I think is great. It helps give the top a little extra shaping and definition. (Plus, it means you don’t have to deal with hemming drapey knit fabric.)

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I had no complaints about the pattern. The armholes were a tiny bit tight, but Helena says she fixed this in the final version. The pdf was easy to print out and assemble (and the final version of the pdf is layered, so you have the option of only printing the size(s) you need, which is pretty nifty). The sewing process went smoothly. The instructions in the final version also look very detailed and clear. This pattern gets my stamp of approval. :)

Fancy making a Sandpoint for yourself? You can snag a copy here. Helena has a 20% sale going until 10/26 with the sale code “firstweek”, so act now if you want it (and you know you do)!

A Coral Scout

See, I told you I’d make more Scout Tees eventually. :)

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I loved my owl print Scout so much that I knew I had to make some more. I also knew, from my Wardrobe Architect-inspired musings, that I needed more solid-colored woven blouses. So, on a recent afternoon, I found myself browsing the solid-colored rayons at Stone Mountain and Daughter Fabrics. This coral caught my eye, and ended up coming home with me. (I got some black viscose too, which was also ear-marked for a Scout. I actually finished it a few days ago, but have decided that my modifications to the pattern on that version were not terribly successful, so it needs to be re-worked a bit. Ah well. It was a learning experience.)

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This one turned out just fine, though. :) It’s actually one of my favorite things I’ve sewn lately.

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Just look at that beautiful top-stitching on the front neckline.

I fall more in love with Grainline Studio patterns every time I sew one. The patterns fit me well with almost no adjustments, they’re beautifully drafted (all the notches line up, etc.), and the styles are perfect — modern, minimalist, not fussy, but still pretty.

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The only fit adjustment I made for this Scout was to lengthen it by 1/2″ by slashing and spreading at the lengthen/shorten line. I also added the tiny pocket from the Tiny Pocket Tank, just to break up that expanse of coral a little bit.

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One more note: if you’re making a smallish size (I made a size 6), you can get away with using significantly less fabric than the pattern calls for. Just cut your fabric as a single layer and put the front and back pieces next to each other instead of cutting both on the fold. Works like a charm.

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I’m so pleased with how this turned out! This pattern is fast becoming one of my favorites. :D

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A Floral Flora

I’m pretty excited about this dress. :)

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This is the Flora Dress by By Hand London. It’s a combo of the wrap bodice from version 1 and the high-low skirt from version 2.

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It’s for a very special occasion, too — I made this dress specifically to wear to the upcoming wedding of a friend I’ve known since kindergarten. :) Yay weddings!

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For the most part, I liked the pattern and would recommend it. The high-low skirt, in particular, is great; the pleats are arranged in just the right way to make the most lovely cascading folds of fabric around in the hem. (Eventually I’d really like to make a Flora skirt!)

However, fitting the wrap bodice gave me quite a bit of trouble; it took 3 muslins to get it right! The main problem was that the vertical bust darts did not point to my bust apex at all, which made the bodice look simultaneously (and weirdly) too big in some places and too small in others. In the end I moved the vertical bodice darts about 1″ towards the center front, which seemed to pretty much solve the problem. (To do this, I literally cut a rectangle around the entire dart on my traced pattern piece, moved it over, taped it down, and filled in the gap with extra tissue.) So, if you too are having trouble fitting this bodice, my advice is to check whether the darts are in the right place for you!

Here’s a quickie sketch of the bodice modifications I made (not to scale at all). See how the vertical dart is closer to center front in the altered version?

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In addition to moving the vertical darts and lengthening the horizontal darts accordingly, I straightened out the bottom edge of the bodice a tiny bit. This pretty much had the effect of shortening the front edge of each half of the bodice. This pulls the bodice pieces in closer to the body and helps eliminate gaping.

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I added about 1.5″ of length to the center front of the skirt (tapering to nothing at the side seams), since I had seen other people mention that the high-low hem was, uh, pretty high in the front. I think the length turned out just about right!

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The construction went fairly smoothly. I used the tutorial from the Flora sewalong for stabilizing the wrap bodice edges with twill tape, which really helped eliminate the dreaded gape. I definitely recommend taking the time to do this step, if you make this dress!

The one major change I made was to add a full lining for the skirt, since my skirt fabric wasn’t quite opaque enough for my tastes. This was fairly easy, although figuring out how to deal with the lining at the center back, where the zipper is inserted, took a bit of thought. I eventually opted to sew the zipper only to the outer skirt fabric, and to hand-stitch the center back edges of the lining to the zipper tape, to give a clean finish.

The one mistake I made, which I didn’t even notice until the dress was finished, was to overlap the two halves of the bodice the “wrong” way–it’s supposed to be right-over-left, and I did left-over-right. Oh well! I don’t think anyone else will notice or care.

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I freaking love both of the fabrics I used. The bodice is a white cotton eyelet, underlined with white cotton voile and lined with white mystery cotton from my stash (which may or may not have started life as a bed sheet, I honestly don’t remember). The skirt is a lovely, floaty rayon challis lined with white cotton voile. Everything except the bodice lining was from Stone Mountain and Daughter Fabrics.

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Overall, I’m extremely pleased with how this turned out! It even goes with this awesome purple belt that I already owned, haha. I’m very much looking forward to wearing it to my friend’s wedding in few weeks!

Me Made May! (And a Portrait Blouse)

It’s May 1st! That means it’s time for Me Made May!

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If you’re not familiar with Me Made May, head over here and read all about it. Basically, it’s a month-long challenge to wear your handmade clothes more often! There are no specific rules (each participant decides on their own pledge), and no winners or losers. The point is to challenge yourself to actually use the garments you create. (And to have fun admiring everybody’s awesome handmade outfits, and show off your own!)

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I signed up at the very last minute (last night!). This is the first time I’ve participated in one of these challenges, so I’m pretty excited. Here’s my pledge:

I, Katie of UmbellulariaDesigns.wordpress.com, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’14. I endeavour to wear at least one garment sewn by me (including re-fashioned garments) at least 3 days per week for the duration of May 2014.

So, without further ado, here’s today’s outfit — including a brand new make. This is the Portrait Blouse, from Gertie’s book.

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I’m quite pleased with how this turned out. I made no alterations except to lengthen it by 3″. I also ended up omitting the zipper (after I’d already basted it in…). I found that I could actually just pull the blouse over my head, and the zipper was making one side hang weirdly (probably because the fabric is quite flimsy).

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Here’s a blurry back shot:

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I especially love this fabric. It’s a rayon challis from Stone Mountain and Daughter Fabrics. It’s incredibly soft, and very lightweight (great for summer!). I still have a little less than a yard left — what should I make with it?

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Get ready for lots of outfit photos for Me Made May. I’ll probably try to do weekly updates — we’ll see how it goes. I’ll also be posting photos to the Me Made May ’14 Flickr group — come check it out and admire all the beautiful handmade clothes! :)

Owl Print Scout Tee

I made a Grainline Studio Scout Tee!

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And it has adorable owls on it. LOOK:

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Is that not the cutest print you’ve ever seen?

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I really, really like this pattern. It has only four pattern pieces (three, if you don’t count the neckline binding), so cutting it out is super quick. It goes together really easily too. It took me a couple evenings to put together, but that’s only because I decided to be fancy and do French seams everywhere. If you didn’t do that you could totally make it up in one session.

See? Fancy insides.

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I also really like this rayon fabric (from Stone Mountain and Daughter Fabrics). It feels very light and flowy. It does wrinkle pretty easily, but I can put up with that.

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And a back shot:

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This is definitely a winner–I’ve worn it several times already, and I only finished it a few days ago! The only change I made to the pattern was to lengthen it by 1/2″; otherwise it fit perfectly as drafted.

There will definitely by more Scouts in my life soon. :) (First I have to finish my current work in progress, the Portrait Blouse from Gertie’s book, and then I have to make a dress to wear to a friend’s wedding in June… But after that, more Scouts!)

Another plaid shirt (for me this time!)

I finally made an Archer shirt! I think I’m the last sewing blogger in the world to make this pattern, but better late than never.

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The pattern went together fairly easily. I think having just made two button-up shirts for The Boyfriend helped a lot, since I was already familiar with the techniques for attaching the collar and cuffs. The only other tricky part was inserting the sleeve plackets (the technique used in the Archer pattern is completely different from the plackets I’ve made on previous shirts), but once I figured it out it wasn’t that difficult.

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I made a size 6 with a few tweaks. I graded down to a size 0 at the cuffs (either I have extremely skinny wrists, or the cuffs are designed to fit much more loosely than I prefer–could be a bit of both). I also added just a tiny bit (maybe 1/2″) to the hips, just on the back, which seemed to help the back lay flatter.

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I also shaved off about 1/4″ from the top of the armhole to narrow the shoulders a little bit (I think the shoulders are designed to be slightly dropped and loose-fitting, but I wanted the shoulder seams to fall on my actual shoulders). I’m sure there’s a more “correct” way of doing a narrow shoulder adjustment, but this seemed to work fine. I didn’t alter the sleeve-caps themselves at all (the top part of the sleeve that gets sewn into the armhole); the pattern is designed so that there is some ease in the sleeve-caps, so making the armhole slightly bigger by narrowing the shoulders isn’t really a problem.

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I can’t decide if I should go down to a size 4 for my next Archer or not (because there will definitely be a next Archer!). I know this is supposed to be a loose-fitting shirt, but I think I might prefer a slightly slimmer fit. It looks fine when I’m wearing it unbuttoned (which, to be fair, is probably how I’ll wear it 90% of the time), but when it’s buttoned up it looks pretty boxy on me.

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Next time I might go for a size 4, but with the length of a size 6 (or even a tad longer). Next time I’ll also shorten the sleeves just a tad–maybe 3/4″ or so. I’ll probably mostly wear this with the sleeves rolled up, so the length isn’t a big deal, but these sleeves did turn out a little long on me. (From reading other blogs, this seems like a pretty common occurrence with this pattern.)

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The fabric is from Denver Fabrics, and it was marketed as flannel…but it clearly isn’t. It’s not the least bit fuzzy. But it does seem to be cotton and it’s fairly soft and has a tiny bit of stretch, so it worked out just fine. I quite like it!

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I’m pretty proud of the workmanship (workwomanship?) on this. I flat-felled all the seams, so it’s just as neat on the inside as it is on the outside.

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Overall, I’m really pleased with how this turned out! Can’t wait to make my next one–I have some super soft flannel in my stash that’s just calling out to be made into an Archer. :)

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