Friday, September 19, 2014

Finished: Lazy 30s Gown

I bought this fabric, this beautiful soft floral print that I normally don't gravitate towards, last spring (as in over a year ago), and I bought as much of it as I could.

I have been on the hunt for a 1930s ballgown pattern, similar to this McCall pattern, for over a year now. I decided this fabric would be perfect, and since no vintage patterns were falling into my lap (for a reasonable price), I decided to draft my own.

I draped it I imagined it in my head, but I decided that I also wanted to be able to slip the gown easily over my head. And I didn't want it TOO formal, even though it's modeled after a ballgown, because I wanted to be able to wear it out during the day.

I wanted it done by Labor Day, as a birthday present to myself, but then it was raining last Labor Day, and then it got cold, so I put the project away for the winter.

I pulled it out and slowly began working on it this spring and summer, and once again, it's become almost too cold to wear it out. BUT AT LEAST I FINISHED!

Also, since we're in that weird season that we've been in most of the summer, where it's cold at night, but kind of hot during the day, I can still wear it out during the day - perfect!

I attempted to do a mermaid tail, but I overestimated my height (aka I don't really measure most things until afterwards) so I had to cut off most of the tail, but it's still there! You can't really see it when the wind blows - if only I had a roaring fireplace to stand next to...

I knew I wanted an elasticated waist, but I was stumped for the top. Luckily I found an amazing tutorial from Mimi G, where I got a few ideas, like the shoulders, which I turned into a lazy version of sleeves. (And if you're a beginner, I highly recommend her tutorial for her maxi dress!)

Let me know if anyone wants a tutorial, and I'll put one up next week!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Tutorial: Ruffled Maxi Skirt

This summer, while I didn't do much sewing, I did take a huge step out of my comfort zone and this skirt is the result.

Shannon, from Shanni Loves, was my spring sewing swap partner and she gave me this amazing floral fabric. While I do like pinks and reds and I have developed an appreciation of floral, I would typically never buy something like this. That said, I was utterly delighted when it arrived, and I knew instantly that I wanted it to be a maxi skirt.

Because I'm also trying out the whole "go BIG and BOLD" but still vintage look a la Ulyana Sergeenko, I was mightily inspired by some of her full skirt designs. I decided I didn't really need such a large ruffle (also I didn't have enough fabric) so I made a little tiny one that suits the skirt just fine, I think.

I started to get worried about it being a bit busy, especially since my style is normally very straightforward and simple. To make up for my uneasiness, I decided to add pockets. Every gathered skirt needs pockets.

Because I actually finished sewing this in July, Oonapalooza was happening and I decided to do something Oona inspired and really crazy (for me). The result was contrasting pockets! I think it's such a fun detail, but to be honest, they probably make me the most uncomfortable - ha!

And then, finally, I worried about the enclosure. I really didn't want to put a zipper in. And since I was doing pockets (and didn't want to rip open the already completed back), I was at a loss. After mulling it over for a week, it finally came to me that a button enclosure would work. Of course, once I put the button in, I found that it was a little loose, and a little loose meant that my contrasting pockets would show (eek!) so I put in a small snap in the corner. Problem solved.

(Is this a known technique? Because I felt like such a genius for thinking of it!)

And voila. I made the gray top earlier this year, and I'm madly in love with it.

So if you want to make your own maxi skirt, here's how I did it.

2+ yards of fabric
matching thread
sewing machine
sewing pins

Seam Allowance: 5/8"

1. Cut out your two main pieces. You're basically going to cut two large rectangle. The waist should be your waist measurement x 3.2. For example, I measured out 89.6 inches for the top and bottom. To find the length, measure from your waist to where you want the length to hit. For me, I stopped 2 inches before the ground.

2. Cut out 2 identical pieces for your waistband. Take your waist measurements and add 2 inches. You want some overlap for the button enclosure. The width is 3 inches. So, for example, the waistband I cut was 30 inches by 3 inches.

3. Finally, you should have just enough leftover for the ruffle at the bottom. My ruffle was 4 inches by 286 inches (89.6 inches from the size of the hem on the skirt times 3.2). I had to sew a few pieces together to make it that long!

4. Cut out pockets. I tend to draw a circle around my hand, and then cut that shape out. You'll need 4 of those.

5. Sew your two waistband pieces together on 3 edges (one long, two short). Press and turn.

6. Sew your pockets into your skirt. If you need a tutorial, I love this one by Sewaholic. Make sure that you do not sew up the second pocket all the way. One pocket needs to be able to open and close to get the skirt over your head. In case you're confused by what I mean, do not place the pocket an inch or two below the waist. It needs to be part of the waist, extending the measurements. (see photo in step 10)

7. Ruffle your waist and bottom ruffle! When you're ruffling your waist, make sure that you do NOT ruffle the second pocket. That's how you're going to in and out of your skirt. I used my serger, and there's are the settings I used to ruffle, though of course you can ruffle however you feel most comfortable.

8. Carefully attach your ruffled waist to your waistband by lining up one end of your waistband to the  back of the open pocket. Pin around the waist. You should have several inches leftover for the button enclosure. After sewing the waistband to the ruffled waist, carefully top stitch the rest of the waistband closed.

9. Attach the ruffle to the bottom. Hem your skirt.

10. Finish the edges of your exposed pocket. Place a button on your waistband and sew a buttonhole. Attach a snap if necessary.