8.26.2016

common welsh green

Mood Fabrics Viscose Crepe | Sewaholic Lonsdale Dress

Probably my dorkiest title to date. If you're not well-versed in the Potter-universe, this title refers to the species of dragon that a certain Miss Fleur Delacour had to pass in the first task of the Triwizard Tournament (Goblet of Fire). And yes, that is just a random fact that I am able to pull out of my brain at a moment's notice.  I often wonder what other things have been squeezed out to make room for all the Potter trivia I possess in my noggin.  This is probably why I can't deal with fractions...

In case I've never mentioned it before -- Hi, my name is Sallie Barbee, and I am a complete Harry Potter fiend.  Please don't tell me you are a Potter fan if you've only watched the movies. Please don't tell me you are a Potter fan if you've only read the books once (pshaw!)  If you've read the books more times than you can count, regularly have Harry Potter movie marathons (even if your heart will always belong to the books) and feel that the best parts of your personality have been shaped by Albus Dumbledore ... THEN we can talk! Just kidding. All types of Potter fans are welcome here. (That's a lie. Movie-only fans, please exit stage right, thanks).

Mood Fabrics Viscose Crepe | Sewaholic Lonsdale Dress

I blame my recent trip to Universal Studio's Wizarding World of Harry Potter for my recently inflamed Potter madness (I say inflamed rather than rekindled, because, as a true fan, the flame never goes out).  Honestly, I wasn't expecting to love it as much as I did. But as soon as I saw Hogwarts and turned the corner into Hogsmead I was overcome with emotion.  It really hit home what a huge influence those 7 books have had on my life.  They are what I (continue to) turn to when I feel stressed, or lonely.  They've got me through breakups and grad school and moving across the country. I listen to the audio books on repeat in my sewing room (I prefer Stephen Fry's reading over Jim Dale). I'm not ashamed to admit that in certain situations I've thought to myself "this is like that time that Hermione did this..." or "that's like when Ron said..." or pretty much anything Dumbledore said to Harry - ever.

Mood Fabrics Viscose Crepe | Sewaholic Lonsdale Dress

Okay, I can see you guys slowly backing away from my blog, smiling and nodding... But don't go! I swear I'm not crazy! Or completely lame. I just really love Harry Potter.  So when I came home from my trip to Florida and began working on this dress, all I could see in its pretty chartreuse and white pattern was dragon scales.  And it will forever, in my mind at least, be my dragon dress. (See what I did there? See? Yeah, bet you didn't think I was ever gonna turn this back around to sewing, huh?)

Mood Fabrics Viscose Crepe | Sewaholic Lonsdale Dress

This is the Sewaholic Lonsdale dress, view B, made up in Limeade/White Tribal Leaf Print Viscose Crepe Common Welsh Green Dragon Scale Print Viscose Crepe from Mood Fabrics, and it is this month's contribution to the Mood Sewing Network.  I've always loved the Lonsdale Dress. Honestly, I couldn't tell you what has taken me so long to make this pattern! Every time I see a version of it pop up online I inwardly sigh - I don't think I've seen a version of this dress that I didn't love.  I think I'm always a bit hesitant to make Sewaholic patterns because I don't typically identify with the pear-shaped body that the patterns are designed for.  The funny thing is, though, that while I mentally don't identify as pear-shaped, and I think physically one wouldn't call me pear shaped, my measurements would suggest otherwise! Just an example of how sometimes labeling our bodies as one thing or another can put us out of touch with the very real, uniquely proportioned body we live our lives in (me?! A pear?? But I always thought I was an apple!!!) Our bodies are not fruit, ladies, nor are they some other inanimate object (ruler anyone??).

Mood Fabrics Viscose Crepe | Sewaholic Lonsdale Dress

I'm stopping myself before I go on a longer rant about that. You're welcome. So for my Lonsdale dress I made a straight size 4 (truth be told my hip measurement does actually put me in a size 2, but the dress skims the hips so I wasn't too worried about it).  It actually ended up a bit loose in the bodice, particularly through the bust, but the fit is so forgiving because of the knotted front and adjustable ties that it's easy to just hoist the dress into a place that feels comfortable and go with it! I decided to use a lapped zipper insertion for the first time in, oh, forever.  Sometimes it's nice to pull out underused techniques, if only to remind yourself that you can still do them.

Mood Fabrics Viscose Crepe | Sewaholic Lonsdale Dress
Please excuse all the bruises on my upper back! I had no idea they were this bad till I saw the photos. Believe it or not, they are from loading barbells on my back...
The fabric was an utter delight to work with.  Viscose is quickly becoming a fiber I keep an eye out for.  Like rayon, it makes for a very breathable summer garment, and it seems to add a certain softness and drape to whatever fabric it's worked into.  This particular viscose crepe has a beautiful weight to it, while still maintaining a lovely fluid drape.  Perfect for a long, swishy skirt.  The crepe texture gives it an almost spongy hand and it has the softness of brushed cotton against the skin. Plus, it's opaque! Hooray for no linings! 

It was a bit of an odd purchase for me, because I would normally have steered clear of chartreuse-y greens, under the assumption that they would look heinous with my skin tone.  What possessed me to buy 4 yards of this, I'll never know! Perhaps it was some "Color Me Beautiful" era deity whispering in my ear, or maybe I was already subconsciously responding to it's dragon-scale charm? No matter, I'm so glad I gave chartreuse a go! Not only does it not do heinous things to my complexion - I actually think it's rather flattering! Especially with a punchy orange-red lip!

Mood Fabrics Viscose Crepe | Sewaholic Lonsdale Dress
Mood Fabrics Viscose Crepe | Sewaholic Lonsdale Dress

This shoulder-baring style, and throw-on elegance feels so right to me for the sweltering late summer days.  The truth is, nothing is going to make you feel cool in this kind of weather, so the least you can do is throw on a bit of color, show some skin, and make the best of it! And this dress has that magic quality of making me feel feminine and flirty and put-together, even if I feel like I'm more ass-crack-sweat than girl at the moment...

And on that happy mental image, I think we'll call this blog post done and dusted! I hope you're all having a glorious August! And to keep with the Potter love of this post, I'll leave you with a few of Albus Dumbledore's choice words:

"Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak!"

xx

8.01.2016

post-vacation grays

Mood Fabrics Summer Casual Separates

Phew! Is it just me, or has July really flown by in a steamy wave of hot, sticky, summer days? Seriously you guys... It's already August?! Honestly, I can’t complain, I spent a whole week of this past month vacationing with my family in Disney World – Mom, Dad, sister, two brothers, a sister-in-law, a brother-in-law, and six nieces and nephews all under the age of 8!!! It was the absolute best kind of chaos imaginable. Of course, me being me, I decided I had nothing to wear for said vacation and that I needed a whole new summer wardrobe a smooth 5 days out from my flight. And I had to make my dream capsule wardrobe because... duh! Completely rational. 

Mood Fabrics Summer Casual Separates

This is where I'd normally insert a little anecdote about how I drove myself crazy up until 4am the night before my flight, manically serging seams, and accidentally snipping holes in the crotches of shorts or something, but, actually, the whole thing went pretty smoothly. I finished all my sewing a day or two ahead of me leaving. I know. Totally undramatic ending to that tale. Either I'm getting better at this whole sewing thing, or I just hit a pretty good patch of dumb luck, because that scenario should have been a recipe for disaster!

I did have a few requirements for my last-minute mini vacation wardrobe, which I think helped make things go a bit smoother  – it had to be comfortable, it had to be cool (temperature-wise, though I wouldn’t turn my nose up at attitude-wise either) I had to be able to get on rides in it, and (most importantly) no shmancy new patterns! It either had to be an uncomplicated pattern, or a TNT pattern. Basically something that I could go on autopilot and whiz through without a lot of fussing with instructions or figuring out complicated seams, etc. This meant that I wasn’t making the most exciting of clothes, but, man, have they ever been getting a lot of wear!

Mood Fabrics Summer Casual SeparatesMood Fabrics Summer Casual Separates

I already shared this outfit on the Mood Sewing Network blog, but I'm hoping to share a few more of my vacation makes in the coming weeks. First up was another Grainline Studio Penny Raglan.  If you’ve seen me in the last three weeks, I’ve probably been wearing one of these tees! I am the proud owner of four already, and I just plan on adding more! They are truly my perfect casual top, plus they are dead easy to bang out factory style, so busting out 3 in one go was just about as time consuming as making one. The version pictured here is made in some lovely, drapey Heathered Gray Stretch Viscose Jersey. This fabric makes such a lovely casual top. It’s more opaque than tissue-weight jersey, but still has the same weightless, fluid feel.  It was the perfect pairing for the Penny Raglan.

Mood Fabrics Summer Casual SeparatesMood Fabrics Summer Casual Separates

I had been wanting a loose, casual woven pant to wear on those days when I not-so-secretly resent having to put on clothes (which is, like, everyday).  I’ve seen so many cute styles on blogs and social media, but for some reason I just couldn’t quite commit to a pattern or fabric.  Then one day, I don’t know what happened, but it was like something finally clunked into place inside my brain and I realized I already had the pattern and fabric sitting at home.  With a few minor adjustments to the shape of the leg, the True Bias Hudson Pants made the perfect casual pant I was looking for.  The true icing on the cake was this Rag & Bone Off-White/Black Striped Cotton Woven from Mood online. This is essentially a double gauze fabric, and if you’ve never worked with double gauze what are you waiting for?! It’s so stupidly soft. If I look a bit rumpled in these photos it’s because I’ve worn and washed these pants several times since making them, they are just that good.

Mood Fabrics Summer Casual SeparatesMood Fabrics Summer Casual Separates

True story: I actually bought a few yards of this fabric months ago, and then just last month, while perusing the Mood Fabrics site again, I saw it, forgot that I had already bought the same fabric, and bought some more. And I don’t regret it. You can really never have enough of such a great fabric.  To add visual interest to these pants I cut the pocket bands on the bias, and the waistband, and back pocket on the cross-grain to break up the vertical stripe.  The back pocket I actually added on whim, as it’s not an actual feature of the Hudson Pants, but I wanted something to break up the back view.

Mood Fabrics Summer Casual Separates

I usually have a strict “no pants” rule between the months of June through September, but these pants are so light and airy that they’ve been getting a lot of wear during these steamy days.
Hopefully if I can get my picture-taking and blogging act together I will have more of my quick vacation-wardrobe makes to share with you guys. I won't bore you with every iteration of the Penny Raglan that I make (you can tune into my Instagram for that) but I'll try to throw together another post on the more interesting stuff. No promises, though, it is the end of summer, and the beach is calling my name...

What have you guys been sewing to keep cool? Is anyone thinking about Fall *shudders* ? I'm a bit ashamed to admit that I've been daydreaming about some knitting projects - a sure sign that my brain is coming to the end of summer, even if the hot weather will be sticking around for a few more months!

xx

7.01.2016

hot fun

Mood Fabrics - CCF Sophie Swimsuit

Hello friends!!! First of all, I want to thank everyone for your kind words on my post about Lucille leaving us. I'm sorry I didn't respond to each of you individually, but please know that your thoughts and condolences were deeply deeply appreciated. It is such a comfort to know that so many of you can relate to the very real feelings of grief that we go through when a beloved pet passes.  I know it might seem silly, but writing that post helped me immensely to mourn my sweet girl and move ahead with her memory in my heart.

And as promised, I have been able to get back to what I love and what makes me happy - making and sharing my creative pursuits with you all! And first up is the Sophie Swimsuit from Closet Case Files! I've already shared this suit over on the Mood Sewing Network, but I'm excited to write about it here because I have lots of thoughts on it! So grab yourself a cup of tea (hot or iced) and get ready for a long post!

Mood Fabrics - CCF Sophie Swimsuit

I had actually volunteered to be a pattern tester for the Sophie Swimsuit, so the version I'm sharing is from the beta files.  However, I ended up backing out of the testing process after my dog died because I just wasn't feeling up to it. Heather mentioned she made some changes based on the testers feedback but I feel like the version I made is close enough to the finished pattern that it is safe to share.  I made View B - the high waisted bikini, and before you all ask, yes this version is supposed to have straps, and mine did, but I will explain the saga that led me to photographing it strapless a little later. 

Mood Fabrics - CCF Sophie Swimsuit

I'm just gonna come right out and say that I love this suit.  Especially the top.  Can I get a little TMI here for a second? Of course I can... it's my blog... I do what I want! As I'm sure I've mentioned before, I've been committed to working out regularly for the past two years or so now, and while it's been an overwhelmingly positive change in both my life and my body, one thing that I haven't quite been able to get a grasp on is my boobs. My boobs have majorly shrunk in the past few years and I'm totally flummoxed as to what size bra to wear.  I know I could go to a little lingerie boutique and have myself measured, but the truth is boutique bras are just not in my budget.  And yes, I could make my own bras, but my experience has been that the trial and error of getting a good fit with a bra pattern is a bigger waste of time and money than just buying a slightly ill-fitting bra off the rack.  So I've been buying my bras from Target, in the smallest size they have - a 34B.  I know I'm not a 34B but the fit isn't that bad, so I get away with it.  

Mood Fabrics - CCF Sophie Swimsuit

Enter the Sophie pattern... this is essentially a bra you can go swimming in, guys.  It is so supportive. And the sizing - while not the traditional A, B, C, D cup that you get with bras - is essentially the same. There are 5 separate cup sizes for every size.  I can't even imagine the nightmare it was to draft this, but I'm so glad Heather went the extra mile because it really pays off. You get the band size by measuring your underbust, so around your ribcage with all the air exhaled, then you take a comfortable measurement of your full bust (around the widest part of your back and over the fullest part of your breasts, usually the nipple) while wearing your best fitting bra. Subtract the difference between the two and you get your cup size.  So for me, my underbust measurement was 28" and my full bust measurement is 33".  That is a 5 inch difference which put me at a size 2 with a size 5 cup.

Mood Fabrics - CCF Sophie Swimsuit

This definitely gave me pause because it is so much smaller than my normal size in CCF patterns - I usually wear between a 6 or an 8, but I decided to trust the sizing and I'm so glad I did.  This is the best fitting swimsuit, bra whatever I have worn in recent memory! It's even more flattering with the straps as they help give that extra oomph, but even without it, this top wasn't budging.  I'm really hoping Heather does some tutorials on turning this into a bra because I need this in my life! Now you might be thinking that with my chest size support isn't really an issue, but guys, it is. Now obviously I do not have the experience that my larger chested sisters have, but what I do have is a rack that used to be pretty spectacular, but is now kinda deflated and saggy. Yes. TMI. Get over it. I need all the help I can get to hoist those girls up!

Mood Fabrics - CCF Sophie SwimsuitMood Fabrics - CCF Sophie Swimsuit

By now you're probably wondering what the heck happened to my swimsuit bottoms... Is this some lame action flick where the leading lady's clothes get artfully ripped throughout the movie to reveal more skin? No, no it's not.  I drafted an alternate pair of bottoms for my Sophie swimsuit, and while I completely understand that these are probably not to most women's liking I decided to share them nonetheless.  Surely I can't be the only lady out there who has a weird nostalgia for those high-cut legged bikini bottoms from the late 70's and 80's? You know, the kind that make you look like you have legs for days, and conjure images of a healthily athletic Christie Brinkley cavorting on the cover of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition? Or a fierce Grace Jones? No? Only me? The rest of you are just remembering the perma-wedgie that said swim bottoms induce? Ok fine then... *takes teeny weeny swim bottoms and goes and plays at her own sand castle...*

Mood Fabrics - CCF Sophie SwimsuitMood Fabrics - CCF Sophie SwimsuitMood Fabrics - CCF Sophie Swimsuit

Honestly, I think both bottoms will have their place in my swim wardrobe.  The high waisted, fuller coverage bottoms will be awesome for pool parties, and family time, and the teeny bikini bottoms will be great for my alone time on the beach.

Mood Fabrics - CCF Sophie Swimsuit

As far as construction goes this swimsuit is really no different than making a bra and panties.  My one major tip is to label your two bottom cup pieces because they look super similar and it is easy to get them confused. Ask me how I know... After making two left cups (somehow... I'm still scratching my head about that one...) I cottoned on to this and cut a second pair marking the outer cup with an "O" and the inner cup with an "I" and also drawing arrows to signify which way was up.  I did this on both my foam pieces and my fabric pieces and construction went much smoother. 

With the shaped, three piece foam cups, the underwire channeling and all the elastic, this is most definitely the most complicated suit I've ever made, but it's totally worth it.  Honestly, none of it is that hard, it's just a touch finnicky at times.  If you're at all nervous about making this suit I highly suggest getting Heather's swimsuit workshop.  I'm actually thinking of picking it up just so I can feel like I'm sewing with Heather by my side...

Mood Fabrics - CCF Sophie Swimsuit

Sewing swimwear does require some special materials, so let's talk about those for a bit.  My awesome, graphic, broken glass print fabric is from, where else, Mood Fabrics.  It is 95% polyester and 5% spandex, making it great for swimwear and activewear.  I liked it so much I chose to use it all over, but the Sophie swimsuit definitely lends itself to color and print blocking.  My swimwear lining, underwires, underwire channeling, swimwear elastic, and G-hooks are all from Bra-makers Supply (the foam for the cups was in my stash, but I think originally it was from Bra-makers Supply too... or SewSassy...?).  Overall I'm really happy with the quality of all these things (especially the swim lining... it's niiiiiiice) EXCEPT for the plastic G-hooks. Oy vey...

Mood Fabrics - CCF Sophie Swimsuit

Let me tell you a little story of plastic hardware, a handmade bikini, a sewing blogger, and the hot, hot Texas heat... After finishing my Sophie bikini two weekends ago I decided to take it for a test drive to the beach, like you do.  No sooner had I set myself up in my beach chair, book in hand, the Gulf of Mexico stretching in front of me as far as the eye can see (and a thunderstorm brewing behind me, but let's forget about that part right now) when I bent over to get my water bottle and felt the back of my suit come undone.  I reached around and realized that my plastic G-hook closure had actually snapped off at the joint.  My straps on the suit criss-crossed in the back so the suit stayed on pretty well, and I actually sat back in my chair and read for awhile until the brewing thunderstorm, and my busted swimsuit top resigned me to call it a day.  Back at home I replaced the G-hook with one of the other several I had ordered, and decided to be more careful putting the suit on and taking it off, thinking that I may have bent the plastic in my behind-the-back struggling...

Fast forward to last weekend when I wanted to go to the beach, again, and shoot some blog photos while I was at it.  I put on my suit and, wouldn't you know it, one of the small G-hooks that attaches the strap to the suit front broke at the same joint.  I had extra so I quickly went into my sewing room and replaced it.  I had the car so I decided to drive out to a more secluded beach to take photos.  After lugging all my beach gear, and my camera and tripod, out to the spot in these photos I bent down to set everything down and pop! There goes the back G-hook I had already replaced! I was frustrated, but determined to get these photos, so I went back home, replaced the stupid plastic G-hook, examined the others for weak spots, then drove back out to the same beach, set all my stuff up, turned on my camera and.... no battery.  Nearly in tears, I drove back home, got the camera battery from the charger, grabbed another bikini top just in case, and drove back out to the beach.  Lugged all my shit to my spot, set up the camera and tripod and pop! One of the G-hooks on my other strap broke! So at that point I said fuck it, removed the straps from the bikini and shot the photos strapless! Thankfully the back hook lasted through the photo shoot and a quick dip in the water, but I've learned my lesson. No more plastic hardware! The only thing I can think is that these were just not equipped to deal with the amount of sweat, sunscreen and heat that I require from my swimwear.  I certainly wasn't putting them under undo stress!

Needless to say, I have an order for metal hooks already placed...

Mood Fabrics - CCF Sophie Swimsuit

Well alright cats and kittens! I think that's enough cheeky pictures of my bum and my cheesecake posing and rambling on about boobs and swimsuits and teeny plastic pieces for one blog post.  If you have any questions please don't hesitate to leave them for me in the comments! And I'll be back soon with a recent quick make!

xx

6.10.2016

sweet lucille

lucilleandmuscles

Hey there friends.  This is a sad post to write, but I wanted to share a little of what's been going on behind the scenes the past few weeks.  As much as I like to try to keep this blog about my creative pursuits and focus on the good things in life, I also feel like I can't really get back to those posts until I talk about this first.

lucillefacelucilleandtoy

Nick and I had to say goodbye to our dog, Lucille, a few weeks ago.  I know many of you have shared when your pets have passed away and so I'm sure you can understand the heartache we've been feeling.  Lucille was 10 years old, but her death was sudden and unexpected.  She was her usual happy self when both of us came home from work, but began acting funny around 8 or 9 pm - not eating dinner, breathing heavy. She continued to decline throughout the night and by 5am she was gone.  There was nothing we could do.  The only bright side is that we were both there with her in the end, and though she was in pain and scared, it wasn't prolonged.  And I think we both feel somewhat grateful that we didn't have to make any hard decisions about putting her down.

lucillepuppysallienicklucillecar

Lucille was 2 years old when I met Nick.  He got her as a puppy while living in the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia.  She was a mutt and the runt of the litter, and she stole his heart by constantly untying his shoes.  She was no bigger than a loaf of bread.  When I met Lucille for the first time I remember thinking "wow, that is a good dog."  I've always loved dogs, but Lucille was the first dog I ever met who was truly a good dog.  She was amazingly sweet tempered with everyone and everything - even when we brought our shitty cat, Mister Muscles, into the house (Muscles looooved Lucille, by the way).  She was also incredibly smart and well behaved.  She was just easy. And she had nothing to give but love. I always joked that Lucille resented me showing up in Nick's life - that she was Nick's #1 girl, but that couldn't have been further from the truth.  She was my #1 girl, too. 

salliemuscleslucillelucillelayingcute

I've never thought of myself as the type of person who considers my pets "my children" or "my furbabies".  But Lucille was my family.  It's amazing how much she was a part of the fabric of our lives - in ways I've never thought about until she's gone.  I miss the sound of her nails click clicking on the hardwood floors.  I miss her heavy sighs, and her snores.  I miss the weight of her head in my lap and the constant presence of her at my feet.  I miss her velvety ears and soulful eyes. I miss having an excuse to go for walks. I miss that there is no fanfare - no one visibly excited - when I open the drawer to get the 'poo bags'. I miss her toys and her food bowl and I even miss her shedding. Thunderstorms take me by surprise (Lucille hated thunderstorms and would begin panting and shaking well before we were aware that it was even going to rain).  I still pause every time I open the front door, thinking she's about to run out to me.  

IMG_2581

I feel a bit like a crazy person that my feelings of grief and loss are so shockingly profound, but I know those of you that have loved and lost an amazing animal will understand.  I wish there was more decorum allowed for the loss of a pet.  Lucille deserves better than a blog post, but sadly, that's all I have to give.

Thank you for letting me share my little heartache with you all.  I'm hoping that in sharing this sadness I can get back to posting about what I love and what makes me happy without feeling like a fraud. I just didn't feel like I could gloss over this like it never happened.

sallieandlucille

I miss you, Sweet Lucille.

xx




4.30.2016

flower bomb

Mood Fabrics Floral Cotton Batiste | V1507

Well hello there everyone! I hope you've all had a great April! Around here we've been truly living up to the old saying "April showers bring May flowers". Well, at least the bit about the showers. The flowers we get all year round. In other words, it's been wet! I can't believe I'm saying this, but... I'm ready for summer. Yes, summer, and all it's triple-digit, 100% humidity, sweaty, stifling, sunburnt, nastiness. Bring. It. On. You northeners can keep your spring (and your bad tacos, but that's a rant for another day)! I'm ready for the heat! Maybe it's because winter was such a joke this year, and I have no patience for this in-between bullshit, but I'm really looking forward to the days when I can throw on a dress and sandals, put my hair up, and sweat. We're almost there. almost. We just need the sun to decide to make an appearance...

Mood Fabrics Floral Cotton Batiste | V1507 Mood Fabrics Floral Cotton Batiste | V1507

And on that note, let me introduce you to this backless beauty! This was my April make for the Mood Sewing Network, and, again, you've probably seen some sneaky peeks on my Instagram all month as I slowly chipped away at it.  I feel a bit weird calling this thing a "shirt" or even a "top" as its open-back, voluminous, apron-style design makes it feel as if I'm wearing nothing at all.  But it does cover the essentials, and after wearing it to work for a whole day I can attest to the fact that those essentials (somehow) stayed covered. Phew. I'll be honest, I wasn't sure if that would be the case. This also isn't the most bra-friendly design, so if the goods did come out, they would be alllll out! But thankfully (for both myself and my unsuspecting coworkers) we good.

Mood Fabrics Floral Cotton Batiste | V1507

Okay, so what is this, you ask? (What? You didn't come to hear the gripping tale of how I did or did not flash the entirety of Galveston Island?) This is Vogue Patterns #1507 made up in some Italian Printed Floral Cotton Batiste from Mood Fabrics online.  I was super super excited to see that Rachel Comey had released a few more patterns for Vogue this season.  Her designs always delight and excite me, and I feel like the resulting garments are truly one-of-a-kind pieces.  This top was my favorite out of the recent bunch (although I also love this dress) so it was the first one I wanted to sink my teeth into.  While I think the plain green version on the pattern envelope is great for seeing this top's interesting style lines and features, in my head I always imagined it in a bright, exuberant print.

Mood Fabrics Floral Cotton Batiste | V1507

This cotton batiste was everything I could have hoped for this make: a large scale, painterly floral print, easy to handle during construction, and light and airy to wear.  The whole top is double layered, so despite the fact this fabric was somewhat sheer, I didn't worry about a lining.  I really love how the print of the underlayer actually peeks through the sheer areas of the top layer. I didn't bother with print matching, or even give much thought to print placement with this make (I may have been print placement-ed out from my last make!) I really love the resulting sporadic feel of the top.  

Mood Fabrics Floral Cotton Batiste | V1507 Mood Fabrics Floral Cotton Batiste | V1507

I took a few indoor shots on my dress form because the gusty winds during my photoshoot were doing this top (and my hair) no favors! Hopefully these help give you a better idea of the lovely intricacies of this design.  I have to say, it was truly a pleasure to work with a pattern where the actual pattern pieces were practically unrecognizable and how it was all going to come together seemed like a mystery.  Often times when I see a garment I have a pretty good visual idea of what the flat pattern pieces will look like, but this one was completely wacky! Definitely a good project for pulling me out of my sewing autopilot! 

Mood Fabrics Floral Cotton Batiste | V1507

That being said, the actual construction really wasn't all that difficult once you figured out what went where.  The trickiest part was that just about every major part of the garment - both the top and bottom layers of the bodice and the sleeves - called for a teeny, tiny 1/8" hem.  And those hems were verrrryyyy loooonnnnng and veerrryyyy cuuurrrrrvyyy. This probably would have been no big deal if I had a rolled hem foot for my machine, but I don't.  I also contemplated doing it all by hand, but I wanted to finish it before June so I followed the instructions.  First I sewed a line of stitching at 1/2" then I used that stitching line as a guide and folded the hem up once, trimmed close to the line of stitching, and folded again at 1/8", edgestitching that in place.  By the time I got to the sleeves I was pretty pro. Or at least there was much less cussing.

The back neckline is finished with a small bias facing and the back yoke edges are bound in bias binding. The instructions had you finish the armholes with bias binding as well but I had run out of red bias tape and actually thought that might be a bit bulky, so I used my serger instead. No regrets.

Mood Fabrics Floral Cotton Batiste | V1507

And here's a closeup of those cursed teeny hems. Honestly this was at least 70% of the sewing! Choosing a thread color for this project was a bit of a head scratcher, because no matter what I went with it was going to be in contrast with the print at some point.  I decided on off-white, however I'm sure an invisible hand-rolled hem would have been the more elegant option.  But I don't think the visible stitching detracts from the finished top at all.

I'm quite happy I chose such a well behaved fabric as cotton batiste for this top, because while it wasn't a difficult sew, a lot of the pattern pieces fall on the bias, and I could see that, coupled with the teeny hems being a real headache in a trickier fabric!

Mood Fabrics Floral Cotton Batiste | V1507

Fit wise I'm fairly pleased with how this turned out.  There was, frustratingly, no finished garment measurements printed anywhere on this pattern so I had no idea how much ease was built in.  I decided to play it safe and go down only one size since I find, in general, Big 4 patterns tend to go crazy on the ease, with the occasional exception of these Vogue designer patterns, which sometimes actually have spot on measurements. I figured if I went down one size I could counteract any built in ease, but that the top was also voluminous enough that if there wasn't a whole lot of ease built in it would probably still fit me anyway.

In retrospect I think anyone making this top could probably safely go down two sizes.  I find the shoulders to be quite wide, even on me and I have good, wide, linebacker shoulders.  From an engineering standpoint the shoulders are really the only thing holding this top on the body, so if you've got narrow shoulders you might find yourself with a garment that simply doesn't stay on.  I would also suggest reinforcing the front neckline with some staystitching or even some light interfacing or organza to help prevent it from stretching out during construction. The instructions don't call for this, but that's my two cents for anyone thinking of making this up in the future.

Mood Fabrics Floral Cotton Batiste | V1507

As I mentioned, I wore this top to work yesterday and felt like a total superstar! It felt so unique and special, and as I was getting ready at the gym in the morning (yes, I shower at the gym most days - glamorous, I know) women kept sending their friends in to see my outfit.  Not that I base the success of a make on how many compliments I get on it, but it's always really nice when other people like your work as much as you do.  

I'd really like to make a pair of black linen tap shorts to pair with this little topper for the ultimate breezy ensemble once the dog days of summer really hit. Nothing like pairing a little volume on the top with some long legs on the bottom! 

Obviously my wardrobe planning is all about summer.  What about you guys? Anyone else ready for a heat wave?

xx