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Pattern: McCall’s 6752, view D
Fabric: gifty from my Spring Sewing Swap partner Sue 
Size: 8 graded to a 10 at the hips

Sandals: Nine West (old)
Crossbody: Michael Kors
Sunnies: Tommy Hilfiger

I only made this dress a little less than a month ago, but I’ve worn it a bunch of times already.  It’s so easy to wear!  I knew with a fabric this funky, I wanted to sew a dress that had simple design lines that would show off the multi-directional nature of the print.  And since the surplice style of the bodice is cut on the bias, it made the stripe direction even crazier.  Love this dress!

I read a review somewhere online about how the reviewer thought this was a ho-hum, yawn-inducing pattern.  Honestly, I think this is a case of you get out of it what you put into it: if you don’t use some kind of fun print, then yeah, you’re going to get a little bit of a snooze-fest dress.  But really, I would make this again out of a solid black or red knit.  It’s a great basic dress pattern that can be styled in many different ways- I actually wore it to a seminar last week with a cropped black blazer and peep-toe heels and felt professional but stylish.


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I was apprehensive about how this dress would fit, what with the low-cut neckline and a potential for gapeage.  Since I’ve been noticing a large amount of ease when sewing Big 3 knit patterns, I cut out an 8 for the bodice and 10 for the skirt instead of the usual 10 for the bodice/12 for the skirt I cut for patterns calling for woven fabrics.  It actually worked like a charm and didn’t need to be taken in any more to achieve the fit I like with knit garments.  Honestly, why would there be no negative ease with knits, or at least zero ease…


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Although I got the dress to fit, I still recommend to anyone who wants to make this dress to tack down the criss-cross neck.  It’s got to be almost impossible, because of the drape,  for this dress to not flap wide-open when wearing.  Also, if you’re thinking about skipping the elastic, you will end up with a drastically different-shaped dress.  Before I inserted the elastic I thought there was no way that this dress was going to fit me since I was swimming in the bodice.  After sewing in the elastic, I couldn’t believe how much the bodice changed!


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So yes, this is my new go-to, wear-everywhere summer dress.  I just wish that the fabric was holding up better since I lovelovelove the striped-ness and squealed out loud when Sue sent me this fabric.  Sadly, it’s starting to pill and the black is fading (I think the black is printed onto the white fabric).  I’m going to try and get as much wear out of this dress as I can!

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Pattern: Vogue 8825, view B
Fabric: Jersey ITY from Metro Textiles, NYC
Size: 10 graded into a 12

Boots: Bandolino

I’m sure I’m not the only sewer that’s bought fabric intending to use it for another purpose.  Take this knit jersey, for example, that I bought back in May – I saw it and instantly thought, “long maxi dress for a wedding this summer.”  Instead, this is the dress I wore to that wedding, and the jersey ended up sitting on a shelf in my closet.  Sometimes the original design intention is just not meant to be, which was definitely the case when I flipped through a pattern book at Joann Fabrics and discovered Vogue 8825.  I needed a “festive” dress for my coworker’s Christmas party, I loved the retro feel of the pattern, and I had this funky red and black fabric begging to be made into something fun.  Presto!

Plus, it’s not like I’d get much wear out of a maxi dress in New England…the summers are way too short.


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The Pattern

Even though Vogue calls this a “Very Easy Very Vogue” pattern, I believe I’ve sewn patterns other than this one that deserve that title.  Yes, it’s not complicated, but I wouldn’t recommend this pattern to someone sewing a knit dress for the first time, which is how I view “Very Easy Very Vogue” patterns to be classified.

It was also the line drawing, not the photo of the dress, that caught my eye in the pattern book – I think that really speaks for something…

After cutting out the pattern, which consists of eight pieces, it went together fairly quickly.  The neck facing is built in to the bodice pattern piece and connects to a back neck band – pretty great pattern drafting, if you ask me.  I think I only referred to the directions when I attached the sleeves to the bodice.  

The raglan sleeve is actually a two-piece sleeve, which gives the sleeve the fullness necessary to create the gathered puffiness at the cuff.  The barrel cuff could have been a little smaller in circumference, I found that while wearing the dress the sleeves kept slipping down over my hands.  If the barrel was tighter, it would stay up better and create a more poofy sleeve – my biggest disappointment of the pattern.  Don’t get me wrong, I love how it turned out, but I really wanted that dramatic sleeve flounce shown in the pattern illustration.  I definitely want to make the tunic version of this pattern and will draft my own barrel cuff for the next go-round – probably out of a solid colored jersey.


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There’s also some shaping to the dress as well, it’s not just a dress shaped by a sash like some other simple knit dresses – the back bodice and skirt pieces have waist darts.  The sash is super duper long so it can be wrapped around obi-style and tie either in the front or back, depending on your preference, which I love.  It keeps the surplice style of the bodice in check as well and prevents it from gaping open, something I was very concerned about with this style of dress.

Also, I took the hem of the dress up about four inches so the proportions of the dress would work well with the boots I intended to wear.  


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The Fabric

I’ll be honest – it’s the fabric that’s doing all the work and really makes this dress.  I love that the giant paisley paired with the dramatic sleeve give it a retro-cool vibe, hence my cheesy pose above!  I was a little worried that with so many pattern pieces, the print would be broken up and not work well, hence the reason I originally thought of using this fabric for a maxi dress.  But really, this print is so crazy that it didn’t even matter.  I’m really glad that I bought the three yards of fabric that I thought I needed for that maxi dress, otherwise this dress would never have happened.  I’ll be getting more wear out of this dress for sure this winter, even though it’s quite bold and loud.

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Pattern: Simplicity 2054 (View A)
Fabric: poly knit from Joann Fabrics
Size: 10/12

Tights: iParty
Boots: Michael Kors

No, this isn’t my zombie Halloween costume I’ve been working on, but instead a costume to wear to work today (you know, zombies aren’t a work-place friendly costume.  Blood and everything).  After seeing Sarah’s Grim Reaper costume, it seemed like a quick and easy idea to whip up.  The most challenging part was getting the makeup right.  Sadly, I didn’t make any little children scared today but I did get some gasps and double takes from customers.


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As far as sewing the pattern goes, the only part I needed the instructions for was the construction of the cowl scarf.  Other than that, it’s a simple straight up-and-down long sleeve knit dress.  If I was to make this again (out of a cozy sweater knit or something), I’d do a complete size 10 instead of a 10 graded into a 12 – it was little baggy and I like my knit dresses fitted.  A belt I had in my closet was an easy solution.


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The cowl also double as a fabulous hood.

What are your Halloween plans?  Did you get rained/blown away by Sandy and have parties later this week?  My Halloween party is Saturday night, so I’ll definitely post pictures next week of my real costume, complete with a “zombie survivor” boyfriend that I’ll try to attack all night long.

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If you aren’t a Gertie fan, aka Gretchen Hirsch, you will be after reading Gertie’s New Book For Better Sewing.  I found Gretchen’s blog not that long ago and fell in love with her tongue-in-cheek writing, clear explanations on (to me) mysterious couture techniques, and retro aesthetics.  Plus, check out her awesome tattoos!  She’s inspiring to me as well: she started as a blogger sharing her sewing experiences and has expanded into offering classes online (her Bombshell class on Craftsy is great) as well as at The Sewing Studio in NYC, teaching on TV, a pattern line with Butterick, and now has her very own book out.  All of the above is why I chose her new book as the first book of the Sew Wrong Sewing Book Club.

To be honest, I wasn’t a big vintage sewing fan before I read this book.  Maybe it’s because I don’t want to look like I’m going to a costume party (went through that phase before) or that I find it too fiddly to size a found pattern up/down to get the right fit.  It’s not necessary, however, to have a love for vintage clothes to appreciate the wealth of info in this book. Everything is covered from the pretreating of fabric, how to properly true up fabric and layout pattern pieces, and different hand stitches for hemming and finishing seams.

Probably my favorite section of the book was Gretchen’s explanation of tailoring.  I had no idea so many stabalizers existed out there to give structure and body to a garment – I can say I definitely want to try using organza for, well, everything now!  Tailoring essentially is the practice of molding and shaping fabric to retain a shape, and stabilizers play a big part in it as well as hand stitching and using pressing aids.  After reading her overview of tailoring, I think I want to learn more and try my hand at it, and her tips also come in handy for her coat sew-along happening on her blog now.

Another section that’s helpful for home sewists is her in-depth section on patternmaking.  I haven’t seen an instructional sewing technique book yet that goes so into detail on altering necklines, dart manipulations, and slashing-and-spreading.  Usually that’s found in books on that particular topic, but Gretchen presents it as necessary skills for every stitcher.  Who doesn’t need to make adjustments or want to alter a design element on an existing pattern?  I was thrilled that she broke down patternmaking into simplified instructions; sometimes those pattern drafting text books can be really technical and difficult to understand.

She also touches on some couture techniques I want to try as well: picked zippers, different types of seam finishes (great for those of us who don’t have access to a serger), and bound buttonholes.  They’re small details that can be included on any garment to elevate it from Becky-Home-Ecky to chic and professional.

And best of all, Gretchen has patterns at the end of the book that allow the reader to practice all of the different techniques she covered in the previous sections.  They’re vintage inspired, but no so much that they look out of place today; they have a modern styling to them that makes them ok to wear to the office or out for dinner.  I’m adding the Tiki Dress and The Bow-Tied Blouse to my must-sew list

How did you like Gertie’s New Book For Better Sewing?  What parts did you find helpful or useful?  Do you plan on sewing some of her patterns or have you made some already?

I’m also announcing October’s new book for the Sew Wrong Sewing Book Club: Couture Sewing Techniques, Revised and Updated by the fabulous Claire Shaeffer.  This time, in addition to reading the book, let’s try to use a couple techniques in our sewing projects for October.  You know, incorporating some sewing into our reading.

I look forward to reading your responses and hope you enjoyed the book this month!

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mccalls 6552

Pattern: McCall’s 6552
Fabric: Linen/cotton print from Joann’s (clearance section!)
Size: Small

Location: Ogunquit Beach, Ogunquit, ME


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The impracticality of this pattern for everyday wear did not dawn on me until I sat down at my computer to order fabric for the dress.  It should have been pretty obvious to me immediately, considering that the picture of the model shows the neckline of this pattern plunging down past where one’s bra band would be (of course, she is clearly not wearing a bra in the picture).  I pushed this pattern to the end of my pattern queue until recently, when I decided I wanted to make a new cover-up for the beach to take on vacation to Maine…hmm…perfect!  Who cares about a low-low neckline when you have a swimsuit on?


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Following the measurements on the envelope and picking the size that corresponded to me the closest, I cut out a size Small.  In actuality I could have made an Extra Small to get a fit that wasn’t so billowy since there is a lot of ease, but it worked out ok in the end and I didn’t really mind the extra gathered fabric around the waist.  I shortened the length of the pattern by quite a lot and toyed with the idea of shortening the sleeves, but I left them as is.

What’s cool about this pattern is that it’s made up of three major pieces: the skirt front, skirt back, and then the bodice piece, which folds over the shoulders and connects at the waist.  The construction was super quick to stitch together and could have gone together in one night if I didn’t have to get up so early for work the following day.  The casing for the drawstring is sewn in a way I like the best: the seam allowance of the skirt/bodice is pressed up towards the bodice and stitched down in place.  This pattern was also a good refresher of my button-hole skills since it’s been a long time since I’ve sewn some!


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It was perfect to wear to the beach during the week, especially on cooler, windy days when I didn’t want to wear my sleeveless cover-up, but it also was just as comfortable on some of the hotter days on the beach thanks to the linen fabric.  I’d make another one of these next year for beach season, maybe with the short sleeves or sleeveless in a knit fabric.  If you’re looking to make a cover-up like this but want more coverage, check out Coco’s adaptation of the bodice piece – I love how she redrafted it to be more modest and practical.

The only other thing I can think of making out of this pattern is a swanky dressing gown to go over a nightie, and maybe sashaying around my apartment wearing it with a wine glass in hand.  Hmm, not a shabby idea…

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