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Sew House 7 Romey Dress: Pattern Review

Pattern: Romey Gathered Top and Dress from Sew House 7 patterns

Fabric: Bee print poly crepe

Notes: One thing I love about sewing is the ability to experiment with different silhouettes. This kind of oversized fit is everywhere right now, but I haven’t been sure it was something I could pull off. When I saw this pattern appear on my Instagram feed, I immediately was attracted to the versions made in crepe or challis. I ordered a poly crepe from fabric.com to try it out for low investment.

The pattern comes as a PDF, and the taping/cutting was like most. It does include layers in the file, so I was able to print only the size 6 that I planned to make. I decided to make the longer length so that I might be able to wear it a little longer this fall.

I have to say that I was pretty impressed overall with the quality of the drafting and the instructions. Most of the seams were finished as french seams, and for the most part that worked out really well. I do think that it’s a mistake for the pattern to call for the underarm seam to be finished in that way – in my opinion that’s too much of a curve for a french seam to lay smoothly. I would not do it that way again.

The tricky bits – the front neckline, sleeve cuffs, and the patch pockets – were all well illustrated. I think that a fairly new sewer could make this dress if they take their time. But maybe not in poly crepe. This fabric did hold a crease, but not all that well, so it might be challenging to a new sewist.

My final verdict? I really like the way this looks, and it’s super comfy. I’ve got a video on my instagram in case you’d like to see how it moves (stitchywitchcreates is my id.) I’m probably not going to start making all my clothes oversized, but I think this dress is fun and I’m glad I made it!

Did you notice my new location? I’ve given up on photos in my apartment because there’s just no natural light at all. Instead, I brought my tripod to work and used my office during lunchtime. It’s so much better!

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Space to Sew

I’m sure that many of us struggle with finding space to sew. Sewing is a fairly space intensive hobby, and not everyone has the luxury of extra rooms. I’ve been in both situations, but now I find myself without a dedicated sewing room. My current apartment is in a lovely neighborhood, but it is very small (only 600 square feet.) There are two bedrooms, but one of them is in use as a (tiny) living room. When I decided it was time to start sewing again I had not idea where to put my things – it probably put me off starting for at least a year.

I finally decided that they would have to go in the kitchen. The kitchen is technically supposed to also be the living room, but I found it to be too small for that purpose. So I took a desk that I already owned and set up there. This was not a good long term solution, as my things ended up everywhere.

I ended up googling “sewing cabinet for small space” and found this Sauder cabinet. The reviews were decent and the price was right so I went ahead and ordered. It comes completely unassembled and I’d recommend having a second person to help as you need to balance some doors while installing them. I’d also be sure to not tighten anything too much at first, as there are several places that need to meet up later. But we got it done and I love it!

Here is the before (no, it wasn’t usually this bad, but this is with everything piled on the table.

We’ve all been there, right?

You can see the cabinet closed above, and here it is open:

The drop leaf to the left isn’t sturdy enough for really heavy things, but it’s going to be good for holding WIPs. There are three shelves in the cabinet to the right. In addition I got a hanging shelf for my closet for fabric. I’ve always used the kitchen island for cutting. I’m looking into a pegboard for the wall above and maybe a few decorative touches. I’m so pleased, and I can’t wait to start using my new cabinet!

First up: New Look 6511 in a rayon crepe. It’s already cut and ready to sew!

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Winslow Culottes

Pattern: Winslow Culottes from Helen’s Patterns

Fabric: Tencel Twill in dark blue, bought from an Etsy shop that will not be named

Size: Between a 14 and 16

Notes: I’m not sure that everyone knows this about me, but for part of my day job I play the organ for a church. I love it – truly the best instrument, and one I’m always learning more about! But it’s not the most skirt/dress friendly profession, as you do play the pedalboard with your feet. I wear bike shorts under my dresses a lot but sometimes I don’t want to. So when I saw that culottes are having a moment I jumped on that trend!

I chose the Winslow culottes due to their ultra swishy silhouette. I ordered two yards of viscose twill from Etsy to give the pattern a try. When it arrived, the fabric looked like it had been cut with hedge clippers (seriously – so uneven) and I lost a quarter yard. It also had white marks that did not wash out on the right side. I was able to make it work by using the wrong side and some creative cutting layouts!

I cut between a size 14 and 16 which in retrospect was too big. It’s been a long time since I sewed a skirt or pants, and I forgot how little ease you need there! I have a 32 waist, and this skirt is sitting a few inches below my natural waist.

The instructions were great. As someone who hadn’t sewn an invisible zipper in at least six years I needed a little more hand holding, but that’s why we have youtube! It’s not perfect at all, but I’m pretty happy with it – next time will be even better!

Obviously it’s not completely even, but that will be better next time – it’s amazing what you forget!

My only real regret is using fusible interfacing in the waistband. I only had Pellon, which I know I don’t like, but I didn’t have anything that was a good weight to use as a sew-in. Next time I will find something, as the interfacing just isn’t laying nicely the way I would like. I’ve always preferred to sew in interfacing, but there are some nice fusibles out there.

My favorite bit? The pockets. I cut up a thrifted top made of a mystery synthetic to make them so that I would have enough of my main fabric for the length I wanted. I love pretty details like that, even if only I see them!

crafts · Life · Sewing

A Wardrobe from Scratch

Hi there! You may have noticed that I’ve decided to revive my blog after a very long hiatus! I’ve had lots of life changes – new job, new city, new everything pretty much. I’m loving my life living in downtown Cincinnati. I live right next to a big city park in a neighborhood where there’s always something to do!

I took a really long break from sewing clothes. I have a very small apartment, and only recently got my sewing space set up (and it’s still in my kitchen, but I’m making it work!) And then Covid happened, so I pretty much only sewed masks. With things opening back up again in Ohio I realized that I had basically two pairs of pants and only three dresses in my wardrobe.

I got online and started reconnecting with the online sewing community. Wow – it’s changed so much while I was away! When I was last sewing there were only a few Indies, and now they are everywhere! There are also more independent shops to buy fabric from, which is great because my local selection isn’t amazing. I’m so inspired by the community on social media (you can find me on Instagram as Stitchywitchcreates) and blogs.

So here I am – ready to sew my way to a new wardrobe again! I’m going to use this space to document my plans and my sewing discoveries as I go along. I’d also like to make a quilt perhaps and knit some cardigans. Mostly I’d like to be engaged in the act of creating. My job is creative, but in my downtime I really need to create something tangible. It’s been way too long since I’ve felt engaged in the art of making something for its own sake.

So to start? A pair of culottes.

I bought some tencel twill from an Etsy shop in a deep navy. The price was good, but the edges of the fabric look like it was cut off the bolt with hedgeclippers – I would definitely not recommend. The fabric is nice though, with a great drape. I cut up a rtw top from my closet for pocket fabric, as I didn’t have enough of the main if I wanted to make view B (the medium length above.) I’ve never been one for making a ton of separates, but they are greatly needed in my wardrobe – here’s hoping they fit well!

I cut the waistband in between the size 14 and 16, then graded down to a 12 for the hips. I know the pattern says to just choose off waist size, but I was really worried about them being huge everywhere else. The fabric has a few strange marks on it, so I’m going to consider this a (hopefully!) wearable muslin.

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The Sagebrush top

Pattern: The Sagebrush top from Friday Pattern Company

Fabric: Mint gingham in a poly/cotton blend

Size: Medium

Notes: It seems that all the garments in the shops this year are extra voluminous. I love girly details and ruffles, but I’ve generally stayed away from puff sleeves. I ran across this pattern on sale online and decided to give it a try in some inexpensive fabric. I made some modifications, but I think I like it!

My main modification was to reduce the length of the sleeves by 1.5 inches. They were just too much for me, but I think that probably depends on body type. I already have broad shoulders, so it wasn’t working for me proportion wise. Other than that, the pattern is basically as written. I cut a straight size medium, and it fits great in the shoulders and chest (I’m a 34 C/D bra size, depending on the brand and I didn’t need any adjustments.)

I love the deep hem and the bias bound neckline that extends into ties in the back. I think this will look really cute with a high-waisted skirt or pants, something I don’t currently own but am working to make!

I think it looks more broad in the photo above than in real life. My boyfriend is my photographer, and he’s nearly a foot taller than me! Here is a mirror photo for a more straight on look:

I’d recommend this pattern, especially to those looking to add elastic and ruffling to their skills. The instructions were very good, and the finish inside is clean. I also think it would be very cute hacked into a dress with some tiered layers!

crafts · finished objects · Sewing

When life gives you… You know.

I finished another new dress! I’m so enjoying working on new makes these days. This one cheers me up just looking at the fabric, so that’s a win in my book!

Pattern: Glenelly top and dress from Itch to Stitch.

Fabric: Knit blend from JoAnn’s

Notes: It’s been years since I sewed anything using a knit fabric, but when I saw this pattern I knew immediately that I had the perfect fabric!

I cut a straight size eight, which matched my measurements. After completing the dress, I feel that I probably should have sized down for the waist. The shoulders were a pretty good fit. I used the standard sized pieces and have a C cup bust.

The instructions were very clear. I didn’t follow all of them, but I think they were solid. I opted not to stabilize the corners of the neckline with interfacing, and as you can see it turned out fine.

I also didn’t stabilize the waist with stay tape, though I did use clear elastic. The waist is pretty loose, and is definitely the main thing I would change if I sewed this again.

I took two inches off the hem to get the length I wanted.

Overall this turned out very cute, and it was easy to sew! I liked that the pattern told you what seams would be best to serge and where to use a narrow zigzag. I definitely plan to give the top a try!

crafts · finished objects · Sewing

The Trillium dress

It’s certainly been a minute! While I was away from the blog I got a new job, moved to Ohio, and got a new cat. All good things, and I can promise many photos of the car. Lately I’ve been sewing again, and missed sharing what I’ve made.

Pattern: the Trillium Dress (formerly washi)

Designer: Made by Rae

Fabric: Anchor print cotton voile, Gertie for JoAnn several years ago.

Notes: I’ve owned this pattern for an embarrassing amount of time. I love a good empire waist, but the ruching intimidated me!

I’ve made a commitment to get back to some of my creative hobbies, so when I dug this fabric out of storage I knew what I wanted to make.

I cut a size small with the C cup bodice pieces. My waist measurement is larger than that size, but I figured it wouldn’t matter with the elastic. I was right about that.

The directions for this dress are excellent, very clear. When I got to the waist, I took a deep breath and watched YouTube videos. I ended up having to adjust my bobbin case tension, which was scary, but it worked out in the end!

I ran out of fabric and had to turn and stitch the armhole seam allowances. It’s not as neat as I would like, but it’s not noticeable.

If I made this again I would lower the bust darts by an inch or so – they are pretty high on me, and I am a 34 c bra. I’d also probably use bias binding instead of the facing option on the neck and armholes for a cleaner finish. But it fits well, and I got lots of compliments when I wore it to church last week – I see another of these (maybe in a solid linen?) in my future!

I’m hoping to post here more, but if you’re interested you can follow me on Instagram (in the sidebar or search for stitchywitchcreates.

And as promised, the cat photos! His name is Bones, and he is so spoiled! Here he is enjoying some nice fresh laundry.

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Thoughts on long term projects

My galaxy quilt is progressing very quickly. I’ve actually completed three more blocks since I took this photo! This is only the second quilt I’ve made – the first was my very first sewing project, back in (gulp) November, 2009.

After I made that first quilt, I started sewing garments, and pretty much didn’t look back. I didn’t have the patience for large scale projects (See: the endless parade of winter coats that I started and never finished). When I decided to start sewing again, I knew the first thing I wanted to sew was a quilt. First, it’s a matter of necessity – I’ve got a friend staying with me for the Kentucky Derby this week, and I literally only owned one blanket.  He will have to sleep under a cheap target blanket, but future guests will have nicer things. Second, I wasn’t necessarily eager to actually measure myself and find out what size of sewing pattern I need to cut these days. But, ultimately, in this season of my life I was looking for something to focus on.

This is the first time I’ve lived alone in twelve years, and perhaps the first time in my life that I’ve been truly dependent only on myself.  After separating, I lived with a friend with a spare room for some time, until things were settled and I felt I could decide what the next chapter of my life looked like. I didn’t really want to live alone – I’m something of an extrovert, and the thought of all that time with myself wasn’t something I felt comfortable with. But I fell in love with the apartment, and with the vision of myself in it. With, I think, the life I could lead as this theoretical independent single lady.

And it is, at times, lonely. I have friends, and a social job, but I ultimately come home to myself (and to my kitty, Dionne, my other cat Leon having sadly passed away from liver disease a few months ago).

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Dionne

I find that quilting has a certain meditative quality to its precision.  From starching and ironing, to cutting, to sewing with an exact quarter inch seam.  It’s distracting, and it’s soothing, for those times when my brain starts to run away from me.

This week, and the Derby madness that is this city in the first week of May, marks one year since I decided to go.  Within the space of that year, nearly everything has changed.  I am no longer who I was then, even if I’m not always sure who I am now.  When the quilt is finished, I hope it will be a reminder of this time, when everything felt new.

 

 

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Lighting for Sewing

After multiple trips to Joann’s and the local sewing shop, I’ve finally amassed all the notions that I need to start sewing again.  It’s amazing the number of things you need, when you’re starting from nothing!  I even had to purchase a straight stitch foot for my machine, as I could only find the walking foot.

I’ve been cutting my quilt pieces for my first block, using my kitchen island as a cutting table.  It’s not the most convenient, but it’s close to the machine, and I don’t want to purchase anything else right now.  It’s working nicely!

I’m not super experienced as a quilter, so it’s slow going doing all that cutting. The specialty rulers definitely help!

I’ve finished the triangles for the first two blocks, and I’m getting ready to sew. Which leads me to my dilemma (and the title of this post): What to do about lighting? The room I’m using as my sewing room does not have any overhead lighting.

As you can see, the ceilings are really tall. Like, 14 feet tall. So hanging a light isn’t really a viable option. I guess I’m looking at task lighting, then, for the sewing desk and the ironing station. Since I’m using the island as a cutting surface, I don’t need to worry about that. I was going to head to target and pick up some lamps, and use daylight bulbs, but I thought I would ask first if anyone has suggestions. I used to own an Ott light, but I’m hesitant to purchase another – mine developed a flicker pretty early on, which made it impossible to use for long periods.

In other news, I’m still looking through garment patterns.  I want to sew some cute summer dresses, since I have a job that runs year round now (I’m the organist/choirmaster for a large Catholic parish.)  But I’m a little overwhelmed with the number of new patterns and companies.  Soon I will make a post with my summer sewing plans.

Thanks you so much to everyone who left me a kind note – they are so appreciated!  I wasn’t sure, honestly, if anyone would remember me at all, and it was so gratifying to realize that I haven’t  been forgotten!

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How can it be 2017 Already?

Greetings! I know, it’s been a literal age since I’ve been here – nearly two and a half years!  Where have I been?  Well… experiencing a total upheaval of my life situation.  I’ve gone through a divorce, and a major career change.  It’s been unimaginably difficult, and I’m only now reaching a place where I feel like myself again.  And part of reaching that place, was realizing exactly how much I missed sewing and knitting, and my little place here.  So, here goes – I’m a little rusty, so please forgive!

I’ve just moved into a fantastic new loft apartment, and I’m in the process of setting up a sewing room.  I did not leave my marriage with all of my things, but I did take my sewing machine:

I had to take her to the shop to get worked on – it turns out, if you leave this model of Bernina sitting for too long, the power supply can go bad. But now I’m up and running again! I’m going to start out with a few home decor projects for my new place, since they won’t require a serger (I plan to pick up a serger soon… recommendations are appreciated!)

I’ve been knitting a Hue Shift afghan for a few months, and I’m only now 1/4 of the way finished. I’m a slower knitter than I used to be, mostly because I have to play piano and organ for my day job, and I can’t afford wrist issues. I love the colors!

I also just bought the kit to make the Gravity quilt from Jaybird quilts.

I love the colors of both these projects! My apartment, being in a converted mill with concrete floors, can feel a little cold, so I’m trying to get some color in to brighten things up.

I’m also thinking about sewing my dress for the Kentucky Derby in a few weeks, but I haven’t decided yet on a pattern. I’ve missed so many new releases!

There’s going to be a re-learning curve for me – the first time I used my machine again, I couldn’t figure out why it wouldn’t work – and the presser foot was up! Oops. And I had to remember how to cast on for my afghan, necessitating Youtube tutorials. Sometime in the past few years, that info just fell out of my head, but I’m excited to learn it all over again.