Suede Farrow Dress for the Holidays

The holidays are right around the corner and I am ready! I love this time of year— the weather, the food, the decorations, all of it! It is also an amazing excuse to sew something new and festive to enjoy during the season. I have been playing around with a few different ideas but when a new shipment of suede shirtings arrived my decision was made for me. Kind of a perfect storm— a new pattern and a new fabric arriving about the same time and they are a match made in heaven!

Grainline Studio's Farrow Dress Pattern

Grainline Studio’s Farrow Dress was released a couple of weeks ago and it is the perfect go-to dress to make for any special occasion. A classic and elegant A-line shape with flattering diagonal seams and handy concealed pockets. The pattern calls for light to medium weight fabrics such as linen, wool or cotton. Along those lines I though why not a suede shirting? Suede dresses and shirts are all over the runways and ready to wear and I love this look and the beautiful texture.

Farrow Dress Inspiration and Suede Shirting Colors

Farrow Dress Inspiration (Pinterest) and Suede Shirting Colors

For color I decided on the gorgeous jade green suede for my Farrow Dress. The perfect jewel tone for the holidays and one of my favorites to wear all year. As this faux suede is 100% polyester I didn’t take the time to pre-wash as there isn’t really a fear of shrinkage. Normally I pre-wash everything but I was a bit antsy to get sewing!

To get started I first took a look at all the pattern measurements to find the right size and check the finished garment lengths. In Grainline’s patterns I am almost always a size 8 and I often make a few slight adjustments in the length. For the Farrow, I left the length of the dress alone (as that would have involved moving pockets) but I did lengthen the sleeves by 3 inches. I also checked the sleeve width, with woven sleeves I often find them too tight when I bend my elbow. The Farrow’s sleeves were a bit narrow and I ended up widening them by 1″ which also led me to lengthening the sleeve facings to match.

Grainline's Farrow Dress in Jade Suede

Grainline’s Farrow Dress in Jade Suede

Remember that suede is directional! I took extra care to make sure each piece was cut out in the same orientation with the grain of the suede going up the garment for the best color. Once I had everything cut out I got to sewing! I used a coordinating jade thread and a Microtex sharp needle in my machine. I finished all the seams and raw edges with my serger for clean look. Construction was straight forward and easy to understand with the directions included in the pattern. It also went together quite quickly. I was just about done in one afternoon.

Love the Farrow's Pockets!

Love the Farrow’s Pockets!

Once I had the whole dress sewn together I tried it on for fit. I loved the overall shape and style but due to the structure of the fabric it didn’t drape as closely to my body as a light weight cotton lawn probably would. I decided to take it in a bit on the sides to give a bit more definition to the the silhouette. First I tapered in the natural waist about 1/2″ on each side. I then tapered in about 1″ at the pockets and continued in to 2″ at the hem. To clean things up a bit I gave the low hem of the back a fresh curve and I was set hem and add the finishing touches. Note: The measurements are from the original seam line so total the waist came in 2″, hips 4″ and hem 8″.

Front View Look at Suede Farrow Dress

Front View Look at Suede Farrow Dress

The results were perfect! I love the clean lines and look with the suede. It is just like some of the A-line suede dresses that I have been admiring on Pinterest. This fabric was a great choice of a winter Farrow— a little more substantial but still has great drape and movement. There is also nothing better than the soft feel of suede, even if it is faux suede! My favorite feature of the dress is the high neck line— perfect for showing off a statement necklace! I also paired mine with black leggings and boots for the cool weather and will definitely be wearing this on Thanksgiving Day this coming week.

Compete Farrow Dress in Jade Suede

Compete Farrow Dress in Jade Suede

I would highly recommend this pattern. I can definitely see how this one can become a favorite to sew up year-round, dress it up or down to suit the event. Just one other note about the fit, it is a bit tight across the shoulders so you might want to muslin the bodice and sleeves to check the fit before you begin.

Happy Fall Sewing!

Michelle

Planning a Spring Wardrobe

As spring approached I found myself anxiously dreaming of all the new clothes that I would make for the coming season. All the patterns I had on my wish list and the amazing new fabrics that were coming into the shop were calling my name. The ideas quickly spiraled out of control- there were way too many options! I decided to take a more thought out approach and actually plan my wardrobe and new projects. Keeping the “capsule” concept in mind here is the start to my new spring wardrobe.

Spring Fabric Choices

To begin my planning I thought I would start with color and fabric- two of my favorite things! This spring I am all about aqua and coral– stripes, prints, tonals and solids- I love them all! Throw in some grey (my favorite neutral), maybe a touch of navy and I will be all set.
For fabrics, I first picked a couple of plush solid knits, perfect for cardigans and layering.

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Next, I selected a variety of wovens and knits to coordinate as tanks, T-shirts and other blouses. I went for different patterns, color combinations and scales to keep things interesting.

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I rounded out my fabric choices with a few other standouts that fit in with my color story. While I still have to tackle the subject of pants/bottoms, I love what I have laid out for potential tops and layers!

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Now that I have an idea of what I want to make, let’s look at pattern options. There are so many choices out there, I decided the best place to start was in my pattern stash. I also took a look at the Seamwork patterns since I had a few credits waiting to be cashed in! Here are some of the options that I settled on.

I have been wanting to add more layering pieces to my wardrobe. I have already done some investigating on T-shirts but need to try out more tank patterns. Here are three that have been on my wish list for a while. Perfect for my combination of knit and woven fabrics I have selected.

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Here are a few new additions to my Seamwork collection as well. I think the Wembley cardigan will be perfect for summer layers. And these Moji pants are so cute- maybe I will have some new handmade pants after all!

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I am off to an excellent start for my spring wardrobe, I even stayed up late last night cutting a few things out. Watch for more posts tracking my progress in the next couple of weeks! I can’t wait to see how this comes together.

We’d love to hear what patterns you have on your spring sewing list. Are we missing something that we absolutely must add? Please share!

Now time to sew!

Michelle

Spring Canvas Blog Tour Recap

When we first had the idea of doing a spring fabric blog tour all the way back in January, we had no idea it would develop into such an amazing experience. At the end of the two week tour we couldn’t help but be inspired to dive head first into our spring sewing and try new and different looks that we would have never tried before. We can’t thank you all enough for following along with us and learning more about how to approach sewing and your own unique style!

For those of you who missed out on all of the amazing garments and ideas (or if you did follow along but wanted to revisit a few stops), here is a recap of how we started spring 2016! We also added links to the patterns and fabric used on each stop for easy reference.

Day One – Style Maker Fabrics

Day One Style Maker Fabrics

We officially launched the Spring Canvas Blog Tour right here on the Style Maker Blog with one of our favorite trends- STRIPES! We sewed up two stripe knit tops perfect for spring. Both show off the stripe knits beautifully and are way too comfortable. Read more about them HERE along with a few tips about sewing with stripes.

Patterns: Lane Raglan by Hey June | Lark Tee by Grainline Studio

Fabrics: Narrow Stripe Knit, Wide Stripe Knit | Large Repeating Stripe Knit

Day Two: Christine Haynes

Day Two Christine Haynes

Next stop took us over to Christine Haynes’ blog, City Stitching, to read more about her quest to learn more about her style and her wardrobe as a whole. She shared a couple of amazing new staples, a classic button-up and a pleated skirt, that she can mix and match with any number of other items in her closet. Read more about her journey HERE.

Patterns: Archer Button Up by Grainline Studio | Self Drafted Skirt

Fabrics: White Pin Dot Shirting | Classic Linen Blend

Day Three: The Sara Project 

Day Three The Sara Project

We then hopped over to Sara’s blog to check out not one, but two stunning new looks for spring. She truly showed off both of the fabrics she selected and her photographs are absolutely incredible! Learn more about both her looks HERE.

Patterns: Marthe Blouse by Republique Du Chiffon | Inari Tee Dress by Named Clothing

Fabrics: Shibori Rayon Challis | Palm Tree Double Knit

Day Four: Sew Charleston

Day Four Sew Charleston

Next up, Abbey, from Sew Charleston, sewed up one of our favorite new patterns, the Bowline Sweater. We love the movement and texture of this great top, especially with the added structure this fabric adds. Learn more about her fun top HERE. Be sure to also check out Abbey’s video highlighting some of her favorite fabrics from our spring collection HERE.

Pattern: Bowline Sweater by Papercut Patterns

Fabric: Textured Double Knit

Day Five: Idle Fancy

Day Five Idle Fancy

On day five we headed down to Texas to check out Mary’s amazing shirt dress. Our first version of this pattern on this tour, we love this use gingham! And isn’t that color just perfect. Learn more about Mary’s garment and the variations she used to make it suit her style perfectly HERE.

Pattern: M7351 by McCall’s

Fabric: Stretch Gingham Shirting

Day Six: House of Pinheiro

Day Six House of Pinheiro

Next, we hopped across the pond to check our Rachel’s perfectly on trend off the shoulder blouse. She went over the top with this self drafted pattern. And did you seen the tie cuffs she added? Amazing! Read all about her look and styling HERE.

Pattern: Self Drafted Blouse

Fabric: Cotton Poplin Shirting

Day Seven: Sew Crafty Chemist

Day Seven Sew Crafty Chemist

Kisha, of Sew Crafty Chemist, gave us a closer look at some of her mad sewing skills. While here garment didn’t turn out just as she had hopped, she did learn a lot in the process and gladly shared those lessons with us. Learn more HERE.

Pattern: S1756 by Simplicty

Fabrics: White Linen Blend

Day Eight: Girls in the Garden

Day Eight Girls in the Garden

We then visited Lori, from Girls in the Garden, to check out her new look for spring. She too decided on making two garments- an striking twill jacket with matching rayon top. These colors looks so good on her and are absolutely perfect for spring! Learn more about her inspiration, fabric choices and techniques HERE.

Patterns: B6661 by Burda Style | M7093 by McCall’s

Fabrics: Brushed Twill | Brushstroke Rayon Challis

Day Nine: Hey June Handmade

Day Nine Hey June Handmade

On day nine Adrianna, of Hey June Handmade, shared her new Cheyenne button-up in our beautiful Japanese tencel shirting. She claims that she has no style, but her photos and amazing spring outfit tell us the real story! Read her beautifully written post HERE.

Patterns: Cheyenne Tunic by Hey June Handmade | Self Drafted Infinity Scarf

(Check out our Infinity Scarf Tutorial HERE)

Fabrics: Japanese Tencel Shirting | Floral Print Chiffon

Day Ten: Itch to Stitch

Day Ten Itch to Stitch

The amazing photos just keep coming! Next up, Kennis, of Itch to Stitch, shared her new sleeveless top and matching culottes. The perfect look for this summer or, if you are her and living in Costa Rica, right NOW! Learn more about her amazing look HERE.

Patterns: Mila Shirt by Itch to Stitch | Emily Culottes by Itch to Stitch

Fabrics: Embrace Double GauzeMontauk Twill

Day Eleven: Diary of a Sewing Fanatic

Day Eleven Diary of a Sewing Fanatic

Day eleven brought us Carolyn and her striking spring topper that she sewed up for the tour. Doesn’t this geometric pattern just look smashing? Complete with handmade bias even. Learn all about Carolyn’s style and one of her favorite patterns HERE.

Pattern: Her own creation using a variety of patterns- See pattern recommendations in her post

Fabric: Jacquard Suiting

Day Twelve: LLadybird

Day Twelve Lladybird

We wrapped up the tour with Lauren’s adorable summer dress. The second version of M7351 and so different than the first- a bit more relaxed and fun in this rayon! And that print and color- so much fun for the warmer weather! Check out her post HERE.

Pattern: M7351 by McCall’s

Fabric: Cherry Print Rayon

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Thank you so much for joining up for our Spring Canvas Blog Tour. Huge shout out to all of the participants as well- we couldn’t have done it without you and all your amazing creativity and style! Hopefully you find this recap helpful. We would love to hear what you favorite stop on the tour was or what you have been inspired to sew for spring! Please share in the comments below!

Don’t forget to check out all of the other amazing fabrics that have arrived in the shop for the season. There are so many incredible finds for every look and style. We even have a stack of our own just waiting to be sewn up!

Happy Spring Sewing!

Michelle

A New Closet Staple: Montlake Tee

My goal this year is to continue to build my handmade wardrobe with the goal to one day have my handmade garments make up the majority of my closet. This month I really started thinking about my foundation or staple pieces that I can mix and match with other more statement makes or with each other for a fun everyday look. The question was, which patterns to choose?

New Montlake Tee

New Montlake Tee Pattern

Enter Kimberly at Straight Stitch Designs! She must have heard me and other makers like me because a couple of weeks ago, she put out a call for pattern testers for her latest pattern, the Montlake Tee, the perfect closet basic! Read more

Polished Romantic and the Bow Blouse

One of my favorite trends this season is this beautiful combination of tailored fit and feminine style- kind of a reinterpretation of menswear with softy, flowy edges. I like to call it “Polished Romantic,” sophisticated and classy but still elegant or even delicate.

This amazing contrast is created through not only the cut and styling of a garment but also the texture and color of the fabrics. Take a fitted jacket- crop the length and use a soft boucle or wool for a wonderful feminine touch. Or a tailored blouse- widen the sleeves or add a few pleats and use a flowy silk or rayon for some added drape and softness. It is all about balancing the structure with grace and beauty.

The staple piece of this “look” for me is the “bow blouse”. There has been a lot of discussion this season about what to call this type of top- secretary blouse, CEO bow and the Thatcher collar (in honor of Prime Minister Margret Thatcher who wore the look quite often) but I find myself just going back to simple but effective “Bow Blouse”. Let me know if you have any other great name ideas!

I set out to find a pattern to make my own bow blouse for this season. I weighed a few options but I ended up choosing the Oakridge Blouse from Sewaholic Patterns. I have been an admirer of their patterns for a long time but for some reason just haven’t gotten around to making one yet… I love the relaxed look of the neckline on their version of the bow blouse- not so rigid and formal but still very feminine and professional looking. I also liked the flared waist/hips- another more girly addition to a men’s button-up. Added bonus- the pattern comes with multiple options for this top, with or without the bow neck, so there is a lot of versatility there.

Oakridge Blouse by Sewaholic Patterns

Oakridge Blouse by Sewaholic Patterns

For my fabric choice, I chose a beautiful Japanese shirting in a rich fall floral pattern and color way. I just love this fabric and thought it would pair nicely with the styling of this shirt. The Japanese shirtings that we have in the shop remind me of Liberty of London lawns but at a fraction of the cost- same silky finish, beautiful hand and amazing to sew with!

Finished Oakridge Blouse

Completed Oakridge Bow Blouse in Japanese Shirting

My Oakridge Blouse came together pretty quickly and without any major issues. I just have a couple minor changes that I will note of future versions.

1) On the button plackets and cuffs, I would only interface half of the pattern piece instead of the whole thing as directed. The button placket, in particular, ended up being quite stiff. Just a minor change that will likely make a considerable difference.

2) Sleeve fit issues- they were a bit tight especially through the bicep and elbow. That is two recent makes that I have had this problem. It is just something for my fit that I need to be more aware of- especially if I am not going to make a muslin (a sin, I know). I was able to widen the seam a bit to make my blouse more comfortable and will alter the pattern piece for next time.

Oakridge Bow Neckline

Finished Oakridge Blouse- Closer Look at Bow Neckline

The finished Oakridge Blouse turned out just as I had envisioned it! Feminine but tailored and with the soft bow front. I am not normally a bow person, but I love how this turned out and the subtleness of the look. Perfect to layer under a cardigan or jacket and I am thinking about pairing it with some great wide leg trousers. Although I do love it with my Jamie Skinny Jeans and some cute booties as well!

Here are a couple there bow blouse patterns that I have marked for future reference. If the Oakridge Blouse isn’t quite your style maybe one of these is. I love how you can take a trend that appeals to you, such as the “Polished Romantic” look, and re-imagine it to fit your style. Whether it is finding the right pattern or using a different type of fabric you can make a main stream trend entirely your own!

Other Pattern Links:

Fran Tie Shirt from Name Clothing– Love this for a more sophisticated look. Less feminine in style but makes up for it in the fabrics choice!

Washi Expansion Pack from Made by Rae– Taking the Washi Dress to a whole new level- 3 amazing new variation on her popular Washi Dress pattern

Tie Neck Blouse from BurdaStyle– Check out this as well! A whole collection of bow-style tops. They must be popular or something…

Welcome Fall 2015

Fall officially arrives this week and the perfect time to dive into Fall/Winter Fashion! We have been working for the last few weeks to put together all of the fabrics you need for your Handmade Fall Wardrobe.

I thought I’d share a bit more about our process for preparing for the new season, talk about some of the “Must Have” trends for fall and show a few of our Fall sewing projects in the works (the list is very long!). Over the coming weeks we will highlight more of the latest fashion trends and how they can be adapted to your own unique style. We might even show a few of our own interpretations…

The first step to getting ready for the new season in fashion is RESEARCH! I love Fall especially, not only because it is my favorite season, but because the fashion magazines pull out all the stops for their September issues. Over the past few weeks we have flipped through thousands (literally, thousands) of pages of high-end fashion tearing out images, sorting and putting together collections of the trends we see.

A few of our Fall Fashion Magazines!

A few of our Fall Fashion Magazines!

Then, we take a look at what we currently have available and how it falls into these latest trends. Our goal is to create wearable collections of Fall fabrics that fit in with the current looks but give you the flexibility to interpret them in your own way. We make sure each collection has a variety of weights, fabric types, etc so if you saw an amazing pair of plaid pants but you would rather have a skirt, there are options for you. Next, we fill in the gaps in our fabric selection- if there are categories missing or key items we want to have, we scour our sources across the country looking for just the right pieces.

Finally, we merchandise them on the site to make them both inspiring and easy to shop. We also link each trend to its own Pinterest board so that you can get a little bit more inspiration for your next projects.

Here are a few of the for sure “Must Have’s” this season.

#1 Shearling: This amazingly soft, dual-sided fabric can be used for everything from jackets and vests to handbags and other accessories! We saw this trend developing last fall, but this season it had really found its stride. The buttery, faux suede on one side and plush, shearling-like material on the other side, there is so much potential! Available in a wide range of colors and textures you can choose what fits best for you and your project. Be sure to check out some of the amazing garment ideas on our Pinterest Page Here and check out all of our shearlings and other amazing neutrals Here.

#2 Scholarly Chic: Tweeds, boucles, and plaids are here and ready to hit the books this fall. Think professor, librarian or simply geek chic! Mix and match them or pair them with some classic solids or textured suitings for a professional but modern look. Fashion has been trending toward looks of tailored strength and stability and these fabrics help bring that out in any number of garments. Try it in some oversized, wide-leg pants or “Chanel-style” jacket! Find more inspiration Here or shop the look Here.

#3 The Bow Blouse: While there has been much debate on what to call this particular style of blouse, it is all the rage this season. Perfect for shirting style fabrics or even a more drapey rayon challis, this style top is a great addition to any wardrobe this season. We have also imagined taking this trend and reinterpreted it into a stunning dress.  Again, so much potential! We are including this trend in a broader style we like to call “Polished Romantic,” soft but a bit structured at the same time. See other inspiration Here or shop this style online Here.

Last but not least- just a couple of projects we have been working on so far this fall. More in depth blog posts will be coming soon but here is a little sneak preview…

First, my take on the bow blouse, using Sewaholic’s Oakridge Blouse pattern in an amazing Japanese lawn. I love how it turned out and can’t wait to wear it this coming season.

Oakridge Bow Blouse in Japanese Lawn

Oakridge Bow Blouse in Japanese Lawn

Then, a shearling vest in a delicious caramel color shearling using BurdaStyle’s Lambskin Waistcoat pattern (#112). So soft, comfortable and surprisingly warm!

BurdaStyle Shearling Vest

BurdaStyle Shearling Vest

Hopefully this post gets those Fall Sewing juices flowing. Check back for lots more inspiration and tips in the coming weeks. Cheers to a great season of sewing!

~Michelle

Jamie Jeans and Denim Blues

This Spring/Summer DENIM has been everywhere in fashion- all different shades, weights and types. I have loved seeing all different styles and combinations, and as a devoted jean lover, it doesn’t hurt my feelings at all to have an extra excuse to wear mine everyday. Here are a few of my favorite denim looks that I have put together on one of our Pinterest boards (P.S. Are you following along with us?)

Denim Fashion Inspirtaion

Denim Fashion Inspiration

It only makes sense that jeans have been trending among sewists as well. My Instagram feed has been filled with so many amazing versions of handmade jeans I couldn’t help but be inspired to make my own. While I have been anxious to make both Closet Case Files’ Ginger Jeans and Named Clothing’s Jamie Jeans, I decided to tackle the Jamie Jeans first.

Named Clothing Jamie Jeans Pattern

Named Clothing Jamie Jeans Pattern

With the help of the beautifully written pattern directions and the great Sewalong put together by IndieSew, I completed my very first pair of handmade jeans in a couple of afternoons. I used our Super Stretchy 8.6 oz Indigo Denim from Robert Kaufman Fabrics and paired it with a matching chambray for the pockets. I also decided to use a denim blue jeans thread so that the accent stitching blended in a bit more. At the time I was hoping to hide any potential mistakes but in the end I really like the softer look it gives as well.

Completed Pair of Jamie Jeans- First pair of handmade jeans!

Completed Pair of Jamie Jeans- First pair of handmade jeans!

A couple of notes I discovered in making my Jamie Jeans. First, I followed IndieSew’s recommendation to baste all of the pieces together to check the fit. I was very fortunate in that when I pulled my basted, skinny jeans on for the first time they fit like a glove! I didn’t have to make a single change (crazy I know!). But I would have been so upset if I had taken the time to finish every seam and add all the details and have them not fit. While it added an extra hour or so of sewing time- it is well worth the price for great fitting jeans.

Great fit on my Jamie Jeans.

Great fit on my Jamie Jeans.

Second, once I got my Jamie Jeans all sewn together I noticed a bit of gaping at the fly- when I would sit or whatever the fly flap would open a bit exposing the zipper. I figured out that at the bottom of the zipper there was very little “flap” covering it so any little stretch exposed the zipper. To help prevent this from happening I back stitched across the flap and the zipper about 3/4″ up from the bottom. That helped take the overlap from only about 1/8″ to a little more than a 1/4″ and losing that little bit of length in the fly opening didn’t make any difference.

Last, I decided not to add the belt loops. Since my Jamie Jeans fit so nicely I don’t see myself ever wearing a belt with them (I’m not really a fan of belts to begin with). I did cut the strips used to make the looks and stashed them in my sewing drawer just in case I change my mind after wearing them for a while. So far I have only missed the loops when pulling my jeans on, but that is a bad habit I need to break anyway!

Love the front detailing on Named Clothing's Jamie Jeans Pattern

Love the front detailing on Named Clothing’s Jamie Jeans Pattern

Overall- I love my new pair of handmade jeans and I wear them just about every chance I get. I am already dreaming of future pairs and maybe some variations on them as well. Check out this amazing stretch printed denim… can’t you just picture them as a new pair of skinny jeans for fall! I also have Closet Case Files’ Ginger Jeans waiting in the wings for another pair. Now that I have made one pair of jeans there is no stopping me now!

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