Darling Ranges Dress goes Safari

I have been a huge admirer of Megan Nielsen’s patterns for quite a while, especially her Darling Ranges dress. I’d see all the amazing versions posted on Instagram and fall even more in love. Now, I am happy to say that I have finished my very own Darling Ranges dress!

Darling Ranges dress pattern from Megan Nielsen

Darling Ranges dress pattern from Megan Nielsen

Last summer, when I first started buying fabrics for Style Maker, I found two incredible, vintage, rayon challis prints that I just couldn’t pass up! Bold, graphic, single border prints that are just so unique, Who could say no? Plus, the gathered skirt and length of the Darling Ranges dress makes it the perfect pattern to show of these amazing, wide borders.

Vintage Rayon Challis Prints. Right: Safari Left: Moulin Rouge Scene

Vintage Rayon Challis Prints. Right: Safari Animals and Left: “Moulin Rouge”-esque Scene

I had originally planned to sew up my Safari version of Megan’s pattern for fall last year. But with everything else going on (ie: launching a new business), it just didn’t happen. I put it on the back burner for the coming Spring/Summer.

This spring, my Darling Ranges dress became a priority project and it was definitely worth the wait! Along the way I made a few changes to the pattern to make it my own and show off my fabric choice even more. The biggest change I made was making the front skirt ONE piece, rather than two pieces, and NOT continuing the buttons to the hemline. I was worried about either 1) not having the border print match at the center front and it looking strange or 2) wasting a lot more fabric and time to get it to match just right.

Finished Safari Darling Ranges Dress with Full Skirt

Finished Safari Darling Ranges Dress with Full Skirt

Rather than give myself a headache- I used the front skirt pattern piece, folded back the excess needed for making the button placket and cut it on the fold. An easy change and I love how it turned out- uninterrupted safari animals.

Just a couple of other slight changes I made are: lengthening the sleeves to make them 3/4 length instead of elbow and lengthening the skirt to just above the knee. The length actually ended up being a happy accident- I knew I wanted to lengthen it but I didn’t know how much. I guessed as I was initially cutting out the skirt- with the border any changes would need to be done from the opposite side. You wouldn’t want to loose any of your beautiful border!

Just one more tip that I wanted to share, my secrets to perfect gathers. First, there is this handy product called Fuse ‘N Gather. It is pre-stitched, iron-on tape that gives you perfect gathers with out the hassle of having to do all those basting stitches. Just iron it to the edge of your fabric, pull the two durable strings and away you go! I always have this stuff on hand and hardly ever do any gathering without it.

Using Fuse 'N Gather- Gathering Tape to attach the skirt to the bodice.

Using Fuse ‘N Gather- Gathering Tape to attach the skirt to the bodice.

My other tip to even gathers is PIN, PIN, PIN. I find that if I pin both the fabric being gathered and the fabric I am stitching it to at each quarter point (ie: the middle and half way between the middle on either side) I know that my gathers will be nicely spaced. Just match up the corresponding pins and spread the gathers out evenly between them. No more areas with extra gathering and other areas with hardly any.

Loving my finished Safari Darling Ranges Dress!

Loving my finished Safari Darling Ranges Dress!

I love how this dress turned out- it is just how I had envisioned it! Originally, I planned to wear it belted and skip the ties in the back, but after trying a few different styles of belts I just couldn’t get the look I wanted. I added the ties in the back and it fits and looks perfect. The ties really finish it off and give it a nice relaxed but fitted look.

Alternate View of the Safari Darling Ranges Dress

Alternate View of the Safari Darling Ranges Dress

The vintage rayon challis drapes so nicely and feels just as amazing on. This dress is definitely a keeper and the pattern is one that I will revisit again in the future- so many possibilities. Thank you Megan!

~Michelle

Carolyn Pajamas: Savor the Process

In looking over some of my past blog posts and projects I found myself falling into a “fast and easy” sewing rut. Don’t get me wrong, I love a top that you can finish in an afternoon or a pair of leggings you can whip together in just an hour or so. Sometimes, though, you just need more of a challenge- a pattern that is going to stretch your abilities as a seamstress and make you think about your technique and how you want your end result to turn out.

Carolyn Pajamas from Closet Case Files

Carolyn Pajamas from Closet Case Files

When Heather Lou, from Closet Case Files, came out with her Carolyn Pajama pattern I knew that I wanted to make them. I love lounging in PJs on a lazy Sunday, watching movies all day, and these are perfect for that. When the Cotton & Steel lawns arrived in the shop earlier this year, the stars aligned and I knew I found the perfect fabric! I just love the colors of Melody Miller’s vintage floral print and the hand on this lawn is just so soft and yummy.

Vintage Floral Lawn

Cotton & Steel Vintage Floral Lawn by Melody Miller

Going into this project I did have some reservations. The Carolyn Pajama pattern was going to test my skill level as a seamstress- I had never used piping on a garment before or had much success with button holes. I also was a bit frightened by the amount of fabric I needed to make a complete pair of full length jammies- 5-1/2 YARDS! It was easy to decide that this project was worth my investment of time and fabric, but I also wanted to make sure that I did it justice. I didn’t want to just throw them together and rush through each step.

My Carolyn Pajamas took me about a week to complete. I took on a new step each afternoon or evening when I had time to think about what I needed to do. I also redid anything that I wasn’t quite happy with, rather than pushing forward, hoping nobody would notice in the end. From making my own piping (I couldn’t find pre-made that matched just right) to actually learning how to make a decent button hole on my machine (thank you YouTube!) I took the time this garment deserved and I have an amazing final result to show for it.

Carolyn Pajamas in Cotton & Steel Lawn

Carolyn Pajamas in Cotton & Steel Lawn

In the end, I am very proud of everything I accomplished in making my Carolyn Pajamas and I just love how they turned out! I have to thank Heather for all the blog posts and detailed pattern instructions she provided; they really helped along the way. My PJ’s are uniquely mine and better than anything I could ever purchase. They are sewn to last, in a fabric I love and they are sure to be well worn.

PJ + Toby

Snuggling with the Style Maker Fabrics Blog Dog, Toby

I hope my experience in sewing my PJ’s inspires you to take on a new challenge and really savor the sewing process. In the quilting world, there has been some buzz about Mark Lipinski’s Slow Stitching Movement. He is encouraging quilters to take on a legacy project- one that isn’t made just to finish a project but that has some more heart and soul behind it. I think all seamstresses and makers can apply this to their craft in some way and enjoy the creative process a bit more on a special project- savoring each step and learning something new along the way. Best of all you will have something you really care about and cherish when you are finished- I know I do!

My Completed Carolyn Pajamas!

My Completed Carolyn Pajamas!

Marianne Dress

I’m back in the studio this week after visiting my best friend, Cora, for a long weekend, helping her get ready for her first child arriving any time now! She is hoping for Pi Day (3.14.15) but we will just have to wait and see. We worked on sewing diaper covers, made a couple of flannel blankets and got a few more things in place for when the “peanut” comes home. Baby stuff is just too cute!

Onesie decorating station set up on the kitchen island- stencils, markers, fabric and fusible!

Onesie decorating station set up on the kitchen island- stencils, markers, fabric and fusible!

While I was in town I also helpd throw Cora an adorable baby shower for all of her local friends. The nursery is Safari themed so I extended that to the shower as well. We ended up having about 16 people and had lots of fun. We decorated onesies as sort of a crafty project, played a few games and had an amazing brunch- complete with a yogurt parfait bar!

Yogurt Parfait Bar- complete with 9 different toppings. So Yummy!

Yogurt Parfait Bar- complete with 9 different toppings. So Yummy!

Before I left on my trip, I had this bright idea to make a safari dress out of an amazing vintage rayon challis we have in the store. But I was kind of fooling myself by thinking that it was spring already, which it isn’t! Instead I went with Christine Haynes latest pattern, the Marianne Dress, and made it in a much warmer, leopard print ponte knit.

Completed Marianne Dress in Leopard and Black Ponte Knits

Completed Marianne Dress in Leopard and Black Ponte Knits

This dress fits like a dream! I paired it with leggings and flats for a casual but put together look. The ponte knit gives the dress just enough structure that it smooths out any areas you may want a little extra support. My only change on this pattern would be the sleeves- for me they were just a tad tight and the cuff seam hits me right where my elbow beds. I think on my next Marianne Dress I might move that seam up or down just a little bit and maybe taper out the sleeve just about a 1/2 inch.

With the Mother-to-Be at her Safari Themed Baby Shower.

With the Mother-to-Be at her Safari Themed Baby Shower.

I was looking at Christine’s blog the other day as well and saw some pretty cool adaptations of this pattern that I can’t wait to try. Like an adorable top with 3/4 length sleeves or long sleeve- with or without cuffs. Or tape the patter pieces together and make the dress all out of one type of fabric instead of a main + contrast. So many great ideas! Can’t wait to get sewing my next version… I am thinking stripes, or maybe an interlock version from one of Anna Maria Horner’s amazing fabrics.

Overall, Christine’s Marianne Dress is a great pattern- the directions are so easy to follow and even a beginner can have a great fitting dress compete in an afternoon. I highly recommend this pattern and can’t wait to try one of her other vintage inspired patterns.

I’ll leave you with just one more picture from the shower- some of the cutest sugar cookies ever… Onesies and baby elephant in great pastel colors!

Shower Sugar Cookies- Onesies and Elephants

Shower Sugar Cookies- Onesies and Elephants

Straight Stitch Designs

Over the past week I have been working with an amazing group of women to test out a new pattern from Kimberly at Straight Stitch Designs. It has been so much fun to see how the pattern has developed over the past few days and how each person has made it their own. I especially loved seeing all of the great fabric choices!

My first experience with Kimberly’s patterns was a few weeks ago when I made her Ballard top– a great casual top with fun open back detail. This top went together very quickly one evening and it has become a great addition to my wardrobe. I used a bold rayon jersey that made this top super soft and comfortable while still being stylish and flattering.

Ballard Top in Graffiti Rayon Jersey

Ballard Top in Graffiti Rayon Jersey

This weekend I have been visiting a friend, helping her get everything ready before her baby arrives March, and this top was perfect for traveling! Paired with a black tank and some skinny jeans and I was set.

Open Back Ballad Top

Open Back Detail of the Ballad Top

The thing I love about Kimberly’s patterns is all of the variations and ideas that she includes. The Ballad top has so many great possibilities and I can’t wait to make another one. I think it would be a lot of fun to try it in all different weight knits- sweater knits, sweatshirt knits, other jersey knits, etc.

Now back to the project that I have been working on this week, Kimberly’s latest pattern, the Bellevue top. This top combines 2 amazing types of fabrics- a soft knit and a flowy woven. I love when I can pair these two together in the same garment, and this top is no exception!

Bellevue  Top

Bellevue Top

The Bellevue top is the perfect combination of style and comfort. It is fitted in just the right places and more relaxed in others making it a great go-to top in any handmade wardrobe. With two different neckline options and four sleeve lengths the possibilities are endless.

I used a great navy and white stripe jersey and paired it with a soft rayon challis, but you could have a lot fun pairing different prints and/or solids together or trying out different wovens (ex. lawn, silk or sheer). I had a little trouble getting my stripes to match perfectly but it still turned out great and I love how the rayon challis drapes! I think for my next Bellevue I will try doing a rolled hem on the light weight woven fabrics, rather than a traditional folded hem.

Bellevue Top in Jersey and Rayon Challis

Bellevue Top in Jersey and Rayon Challis

Check out Kimberly’s blog post with some of the other amazing Bellevue Tops made by her group of testers. She has also added a couple more of her own versions on her blog as well. Be sure to check out the Bellevue available now at Straight Stitch Designs.

~Michelle

Note: As a pattern tester for Straight Stitch Designs, I received a free copy of the Bellevue Top Pattern, but all of my options and observations are my own.

Go Red: Oslo Cardigan

Style Maker Fabrics is Going Red this month in honor of the National Go Red for Women campaign from the American Heart Association.  Heart Disease is the #1 killer in women and this is something that we should all continue to be aware of and take steps to prevent. I decided to “Sew Red” this week and work on a project that I have been putting off… it involves matching plaids!

My project this week was one of the patterns included with Seamwork’s December issue, the Oslo Cardigan. Seamwork is a brand new online magazine Colette Patterns launched this past December. Each month’s issue is full of interesting articles about different makers, techniques for sewing with new fabrics and lots of great advice and project ideas. If you haven’t checked it out yet I would highly encourage it. The magazine articles are FREE, but with a $6 subscription each month you get TWO brand new patterns to download.

Completed Oslo Cardigan in Plaid Double Knit

Completed Oslo Cardigan in Plaid Double Knit

I wanted to try making my own Oslo Cardigan in a warm but structured double knit and chose an interesting Houndstooth Plaid with quite a large pattern repeat. While I knew this fabric would look amazing when the cardigan was finished, I was a bit scared of having to match all of those plaid lines- something I hadn’t really done before! With the help of a Plaid Matching Guide (also from Colette Patterns) and some assistance from a fellow Style Maker I was able to conquer my fear of plaid and have some amazing results to share.

Check out those Matching Plaid Lines!

Side Seam- Check out those Matching Plaid Lines!

Probably the most time consuming part of this project was matching up the two fabric layers. I tried unsuccessfully 3 different ways to match up the selvages and get the plaid line matched up. I finally matched up the pattern and pinned the plaids in place every 6 to 8 inches. I learned a lot in this process and would probably just skip to pinning the layers next time I have a pattern to match- especially for knits since the grainline can be a little (or even a lot) wonky. I am definitely ready to take on more plaid or stripe projects!

Once I got all the pieces cut out, my Oslo went together very quickly. Gave it a good press and it is ready for National Wear Red Day (which is today!). I’m going to pair it with some black leggings, black tank top and short boots. It should be an amazing outfit in honor of a very important cause!

Oslo Cardigan- Plaid Sleeves Cut on the Bias

Oslo Cardigan- Plaid Sleeves Cut on the Bias

Learn more about heart disease in women and the Go Red for Women campaign HERE.

Wear Red!

~Michelle

Super Tote

It seemed fitting for today to share my Super Tote from Noodlehead that I recently finished. While yesterday’s Big Game didn’t turn out how we had hoped, it was a very exciting game and we are already looking forward to next season. We still love our Seahawks!

Super Tote Pattern from Noodlehead

Super Tote Pattern from Noodlehead

This is my fifth Super Tote and I am in love with this pattern and this bag! It is the perfect tote for on the go, whether it is running errands or a longer trip. Last year I made matching Super Totes for a group of us that went on a sewing retreat together- each person got a custom bag in their favorite color. While I loved making the scrappy, quilted tote bags I couldn’t wait to make my next one in a more sophisticated, fashionable fabric.

My First Super Tote- Scrappy!

My First Super Tote- Scrappy!

When we first found this Flocked Herringbone Suiting, I knew this would be the perfect fabric for my next Super Tote. The blacked flocked rose vines give it an amazing texture and it feels amazing. The big question then became, What fabric to pair with it for the gusset (sides) and handles?

I auditioned all different fabrics but none were quite right. I kept thinking- I just need a fabric similar to the background of the flocked suiting. Duh- Why don’t you just use the wrong side, Michelle! Sometimes the obvious option is just too obvious. I completed the look with classic solid black handles and accents.

Super Tote in Progress

Anyway- once I got everything cut out, the Super Tote was a breeze to put together. I finished it over a long weekend, working on it off and on as I had time. To give it a little extra stability I paired the Pellon Shape-Flex (as called for in the pattern) with Pellon Extra Firm interfacing. While the Herringbone Suiting is a heavier weight fabric, the added layer of Extra Firm gave the whole purse a really nice stability without being too thick or stiff.

Competed Super Tote

Competed Super Tote

I also wanted to share a couple pictures from our Football Gathering yesterday as well. Just a small group of family and friends, but I love any excuse to surf Pinterest and try out some new recipes. The chop salad stuffed pasta shells were a huge hit. And I loved the idea of serving “Turnovers” for the game. I used store bought puff pastry- filled them with whatever berries I had in the freezer and cut them out using the Jersey cookie cutter I had from last year’s sugar cookies. Too cute and so delicious!

Big Game Food- Salad Stuffed Shells, "Turnovers" and Brownie Footballs

Big Game Food- Salad Stuffed Shells, “Turnovers” and Brownie Footballs

I hope you had great day yesterday, whether your team won or lost!

Michelle

Out and About Dress

This is a project that I have wanted to make for some time. Sew Caroline first released the Out and About Dress Pattern early last year. It is such a versatile dress and can be made in all different variations in a variety of knit fabrics.

I have been holding out for just the right fabric to make my Out and About Dress… and this season I FINALLY found it! An amazing Jacquard Ponte Knit that gives the illusion of an elegant rose lace overlay. I love the color, the feel, the pattern and just about everything about this fabric.

At first I debated about what version I should make- Maxi? 3/4 length sleeve? Cuffs? No Cuffs? I settled on knee length with long sleeves- perfect to pair with leggings or tall boots! Also the heavier weight of this ponte knit makes it comfortable and warm in the cooler weather.

Sew Caroline's Out and About Dress in a cozy "lace-look" ponte knit.

Sew Caroline’s Out and About Dress in a cozy “lace-look” ponte knit.

Once I actually got sewing, this dress went together so quickly! I was done in one afternoon and ready to enjoy my new outfit “out and about.” I would definitely recommend this pattern and will be making more versions of it this Spring.

Here are just a couple of tips that I learned along the way.

1) I would rethink the pockets in this dress- At least for me, they ended up being a bit too low- I would either move them up a couple inches or not include them at all as mentioned in the pattern. In the heavier weight ponte knit, the pockets are a little bit bulky. I still love them! But just something I might alter in future versions.

2) I love Fuse ‘N Gather- One of my secret weapons for a long time has been Clover’s fusible gathering tape called Fuse ‘N Gather. I really don’t like to make gathering stitches on my machine! It seems like they always end up breaking, they gather unevenly or I have to pick them all out at the end so that they don’t show. Solution = Fuse ‘N Gather! Just fuse to the wrong side of your fabric and pull the threads. Perfect gathers every time and it worked wonders on this dress!

Perfectly gathered using Fuse 'N Gather and then sewed right into the seam.

Perfectly gathered using Fuse ‘N Gather sewed right into the seam.

3) Try out Double Needle Stitching- I haven’t invested in a coverstitch machine yet, but as I experiment more and more with my double needle I am loving the results. It is perfect for finishing off the hemline and sleeves on this dress and gave my project the professional, finished look I was hoping for.

Sew Caroline's Out and About Dress in a cozy "lace-look" ponte knit.

Completed Out and About Dress- ready for a day out on the town or a causal night in.

Here are a couple more of the fabrics I was considering for the Out and About Dress. Who knows, I might just need to make another one!

A few other fabric choices for the Out and About Dress.

A few other fabric choices for the Out and About Dress. Click to see MORE.

 

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