Apparently, this beautiful black fabric
plus this adorable dress pattern
equals the most dowdy thing I’ve ever made!
Granted, the pairing of fabric and pattern was a huge misstep for me. But, really the overall shape of it is nothing short of tragic. Even my Hunny – who tells me I look beautiful in everything – made a terrible face when I tried it on. Apparently, he loves me enough not to let me go out in this.
I really wanted something new to wear to dinner tonight but I am so horrible at sewing under pressure and I really wanted to cut out my silk tunic today! Then I remembered that this dress was finished but for the hems. I knew I wanted to wear black high-heeled boots tonight so I tried everything on and it looks great together – what luck!
It took me a lot longer than expected to finish it up as the fabric did not take very well to the blindstitch machine. No amount of adjusting the bite helped – yuck!
So, I hemmed the skirt by hand which was quite relaxing as I was watching Elizabeth: The Golden Age. But the sleeves are snug over the forearm and needed to stretch. Really, the blindstitch machine would have been perfect but the final result was unsatisfactory. Handstitches would pop and I didn’t want to use a twin needle since there was no other topstitching on the dress. What to do? Well, I am a great big cheater! I finished the sleeve hems (just to fool anyone who might look at them!) and then fused them with Steam-A-Seam Lite for an invisible, stretchy hem. Don’t tell anyone!
My silk jersey arrived from Gorgeous Fabrics last night so I am working on the top today. Because dry-clean-only tops are not very practical in a hot climate like mine I wanted to test the jersey for washability. I cut a 4″ square and washed it in shampoo (Orvis is also wonderful but I didn’t feel like dragging the big jug out) to check for shrinkage, color loss and change of hand. I even tossed the swatch into the dryer with some towels – I’d never do that in real life but it’s good to give your fabric the worst treatment at the fabric preparation stage (especially important for those of you with husbands or other laundry “helpers” ). The swatch came out great, just a tiny bit of shrinkage as you can see below. So I washed the yardage and dried it on a low setting. I want to add that I have a front loading washer which is very gentle on clothes. I would not wash this in a regular agitator washer unless it was in a lingerie bag. Otherwise I’d hand wash. Of course, you want to do your own test to be sure you like the results.
This jersey is very fine so I chose a fine thread and a size 10 jersey needle. The thread I’m using is shown below. Ordinarily, I really dislike Coats & Clark thread but I am crazy about their fine thread! It is smooth and even and works wonderfully with chiffons, crepe de chines, fine shirtings, etc. On this jersey it practically disappeared into the fabric. Every time JoAnn’s has a thread sale I stock up. The color selection used to be very limited but they’ve expanded the line so I’ve been able to add some great new colors to my collection. The new spool is shown on the left, the old one is on the right. Notice the difference in yardage on the two spools – I’m getting 125 yards less than I used to and now it’s made in Mexico!
Once again, I cut single layer to give me more control over the pattern placement. I wanted a black stripe going down the center rather than two black stripes going over each breast – more slimming. Since the design is not symmetrical, I had to cut one piece upside down so that I would have a nice blending of the pattern over the shoulder. The only way to get an exact match, of course, is to have a center back seam which I did not want. I’m happy with the way it turned out.
Finally, here is the photo of my completed HP Sunshine Top. To be honest, I generally wear fitted tops because fuller ones can sometimes look too maternity on figures like mine but I LOOOOOVE this top! The cut actually makes me look slimmer and smaller busted – it’s a real winner. The secret is the cut and depth of the neckline. Beware that this is probably not something you’ll wear to the office as it is (it is in the Weekender collection, after all) although the neckline would be very easy to raise if you so desire.
This pattern uses the new HP sizing. I used a size 10 because that’s what I normally use in HP tops and dresses. I should have tried on my Hippie Chick Dress before beginning because, due to weight loss, it was a little too large through the upper chest. As in the Big 4, an 8 is the best size for me to start with. As always, I had to make a full bust adjustment as I didn’t have enough room in the front even with the gathers. I am very pleased with the fit except for one tiny issue that my fellow Sewing Divas helped me work out. I will show those alterations as soon as I redraw the pattern. I’ll tell you, it is such a luxury to be able to bounce these things off of my very talented sewing friends. The thing I love most about sewing is the constant learning of new skills. I’ve been sewing for years and still have so much to learn! How nice that we never lose those Aha! moments.
One thing you’ll want to be aware of in this top is the length. Hot Patterns are drafted for a tall woman – I am just under 5’4″ with most of my shortness being above the waist. I cut about 3″ off to finish the top at mid hip. Otherwise, this pattern was well drafted and went together without a hitch.
As I mentioned in a previous post, the metallic transfer is the Blomster Print from Shop Onion. I use a lot of transfers in my business and can assure you that these are of the highest quality.