Floral Linen Shift Dress | Ottobre 05/2015 no. 10 Shift Dress

In my quest for the perfect easy-breezy summer dress, I think I may have finally found it in a simple shift dress custom made to fit me.
Ottobre Design Woman's 05/2015 no. 10 Shift Dress pattern coupled with the lovely floral linen blend fabric recently purchased from my trip to the textile outlet All About Fabrics married well.  hehe 
If the fabric may look familiar, it's became the recent Itch-to-Stitch Belize Shorts were made from scraps when cutting this dress out.   Double win!  This dress takes @1 1/3 yards of fabric and I'd purchased 2 yards.  :)
Having made Ottobre 02/2016 No. 10 Glorious shift dress last year out of lovely linen red poppies fabric, it left me longing for a more 'fitted' shift dress, if that even makes sense!  A shift dress is known for its shapelessness..... usually a simple A-line dress with bust darts and no shaping at the waist.   
A shift dress isn't the most flattering fit on me I suppose, but for comfort on hot and humid summer days, it can't be beat.  By the way, I added in-seam pockets.  Kinda' surprised the pattern did not include them.  With all the fabric floating around, there's plenty of room to slip pockets in.
I've lost more weight so I was careful to take new measurements before starting this project and I was glad I did as they'd changed enough to change my sizing.  I've also been watching Nancy Zieman's (free) videos about her Pivot and Slide Method to achieve the perfect fit and applied some of what I learned here.  This dress is a size 36 bust and waist graded to a size 38 hips using Nancy's method.
I really like the fit and the way this dress looks 'custom' fit for me. 
I've struggled with garments not fitting quite properly through the shoulders that then produces an odd extra bit of fabric in the middle of the neckline, and as you can see in the photo below, the neckline is perfectly smooth with the shoulders laying where they should.  Love this neckline!!  It's not too chokingly high and lays on the neck in a flattering way.
Back view... not much to say here.... no darts, invisible zip that was a breeze to put in with my invisible zipper foot.  Why I ever waited so long to buy one of those is beyond me!!  Makes zipper installations ever so easy.
Let's turn to some of the details now.... I cannot believe this was my first garment to make from this Ottobre Design Woman 05/2015 issue!  This is a fabulous issue full of all sorts of great patterns.
 I made no. 10 that she calls Paisley Print silk-blend shift dress.  Ottobre's pattern names are always confusing to me, as in this case my fabric is neither Paisley Print nor silk-blend.  So I shall therefore call this pattern Ottobre 05/2015 no. 10 Shift Dress.  Simple.  The pattern gives instructions for a lined dress with sleeves, but with my lovely linen blend I did not want a lining as I wanted my fabric to breathe and be cooler to wear.  Nice to have the sleeve pattern as I may make this again in the future using the sleeves, but for now sleeveless is what I wanted.  Also you might notice there are no facings.  The neckline is finished with bias tape whose installation is a terrible weakness of mine.  I toyed with drafting facings, but decided to embrace the bias binding as I need more practice in this area. 
Both neckline and armholes are finished with self-made bias binding.  Probably should've used a little more sturdy fabric for the binding, but really liked the thought of this soft handkerchief cotton against my skin.  Followed Carolyn's tutorial for the neckline and about the same for the armholes, other than sewed the binding on with all the creases already ironed in.  Was sure to understitch all seams before turning and top-stitching.  Used lots of pins and sewed ever so s-l-o-w-l-y when top-stitching.  Pleased to see that all came out well with no puckers.
Inside out.  Such a simple dress to make.  When adding the pockets, I thought about how I did not want the pockets to bind on the linen fabric, so used white cotton fabric for the front of the pockets bags and the floral linen for the back.  I've made the mistake before of using different patterned/colored fabric for both pieces of the pocket bag and sometimes that does not look right.  But if you only use the different piece for the front of the bag, and self-fabric for the back of the bag.... all blends in well.
Ottobre has you add a 3/8" seam allowance and in this case that was perfect as I serged most of the seams.  But I really like a 5/8" seam allowance for the center back where the zipper lays, and that's what I did here.  Easier to sew in the zipper to me.  A little tip that has worked well for me to close the back center seam below the freshly installed invisible zipper.... is to begin sewing with a regular zipper foot, from the hemline up to your carefully pinned seam.  No odd bumps or bubbles!
In a simple make, it's fun to work on other skillsets too, so I covered the serged hem seam with self-made bias binding and hem-stitched it on my machine.  This produces an invisible hem with a pretty covered seam on the inside. 
Not the best covering of the zipper tape at center back, but it was the best I could do this day.  But what I also want to show here is the back shoulder dart.  One of the things I like about Ottobre dress patterns, is that she usually includes some sort of back neckline, or in this case back shoulder dart.  These seem to help with fitting for me in these areas.  No other modifications were made to this pattern.  Simple.
Speaking of simple, as I began to write this post today I began to wonder about the history of the simple Shift Dress.  After a quick Google search, according to ShiftDress.com, it all started with Givenchy designing Audrey Hepburn's LBD in the movie Breakfast at Tiffany's.   The website included an interesting little bit about Lily Pulitzer's humble beginnings as she designed a simple shift dress to wear while selling fresh squeezed orange juice at her husband's fruit grove stand in Florida.   Her clothing empire took off from there.
The first person I thought of, when pondering the beginnings of the shift dress, was Twiggy.   She's definitely part of the Shift Dress' iconic history.
And then of course one could not forget the beautiful Jackie Kennedy Onassis. 
It also occurred to me that the first dress I ever made was a shift dress.  Though my mother was an accomplished seamstress, she never taught any of her skills to me.  Instead, she enrolled me in a summer sewing class at the local fabric store one summer when I was probably around 12 or 13 (c. 1972/1973).  The pattern was a simple shift dress and I still remember the vibrant 'mod' green geometric print I chose to this day!  Unfortunately nothing was retained from that experience other than the instructor had us throw away and discard the pattern instructions to blindly follow her lead in making our dresses.  I remember hiding my instructions but she found them and they were gone.  Retained.nothing.
And in the sport of having great fun..... my version of Twiggy.  Ha!Ha!
Happy Sewing Everyone!  :)


The Summer of Shorts | Itch to Stitch Belize Shorts

Clearly these shorts have become a summer favorite as this is my fourth version of these cute shorts within a few short months.
The Itch-to-Stitch Belize Shorts have a flat interfaced front, with the elastic casing beginning at the hip/inset pocket seams and running through the back.  I made view B again.
More pattern info here.  I am not a pattern tester nor have been compensated in any way.  This just happens to be the 'shorts of the moment' for me this year.  :)
Not needing much fabric, these were cut from remnants of an in-progress dress and sewn up in a short afternoon.  Love, love, love this floral linen blend fabric recently purchased from the nearby All About Fabrics textile outlet store.
Even though I love my fabric, it seemed like it could be a little coarse against my skin in the waistband area.  So I measured the waistband in half lengthwise and added a seam allowance, cut a piece out of the linen blend and a piece out of soft 100% white cotton fabric from the stash, sewed the two right sides together and understitched and voila'! A new waistband piece with the soft cotton next to my skin.  Now that these are made and I am wearing them, it's clear this was a very good thing to do as they are oh-so-soft against the skin and quite comfortable to wear in every way.
 Back view.  Not tucking many tops in now, you'd never know there's elastic-casing under there.
These have the BEST pockets!  Nice and deep, yet flat and not bulky at all.  BurdaStyle calls this type of pocket Hip Pockets, also known as Inset Pockets.  I am preferring this sort of pocket to an in-seam pocket on my pants.  Because I was running out of fabric, the pocket piece is obviously the linen blend fabric, but the pocket facing is the same white cotton I used to line the waistband.  Works perfectly here too!  And because of this project, am realizing I need to keep a stock of quality soft 100% white cotton for these very reasons.  You can see version 1 out of vintage cotton, 2 out of quilting cotton, and 3 out of white twill with back pockets added.  Wearing the Alabama Chanin hand-stitched 6-panel tank top today.
Once upon a time, the Greenville, South Carolina area was known as the Textile Capital of the World..... though not anymore as most of our manufacturing companies have relocated overseas.  All About Fabrics, operating out of one old mill in the historic, small town of Williamston, SC has found a way to survive by selling wholesale textile goods to business customers, and opening their doors to the public 3 days out of the beginning of each month.  I've lived in this area for over 27 years and decided I needed to (finally!) visit this place I'd heard so much about.  After about an hour's drive from where I live, I arrived to find an old mill building turned into a warehouse facility.  Their non-working smokestack is a familiar sight as every mill had a smokestack. 
And inside I was floored!  This photo absolutely does not justify what I saw at all as there were 2 of these HUGE warehouse rooms/buildings filled with rolls/bolts of fabric from floor to ceiling and rows upon rows of fabric deep.  I did not know where to begin.  I walked around for at least an hour before I could get my bearings.  The fabric was organized well into sections of fiber content..... linen, vinyl, jacquards, taffeta, silks.... but most was of home dec sort.
Some Home Dec fabrics transition well into apparel sewing as the beginning of my cart, below, shows.  You have to have a shopping cart as all fabric is rolled onto bolts, with the exception of some of the silks, and you sort of have to manhandle your finds from the shelves into your cart.  When you are through with your choices, you take your cart to the cutting area where the staff quickly cuts your fabric the length you need, and then are ready to check out.  The staff was so friendly and helpful and I thoroughly enjoyed my time there.  By the way this is not a sponsored post, I just simply wanted to share my time with you all too. Do you see the 'silk' tag, below noting $35.00?  That just so happens to be 5 yards of raw silk.  *Squeal* and insert big happy face here!  :)
These are what I brought home.  The gorgeous piece of blues I'm holding in my hands will be some sort of jacket, the dandelion print will be a Lotta Jansdotter Pilvi Jacket and hard to tell but the floral linen blend you saw earlier in this post, is the tiny piece on top with different silks underneath with a couple of canvas pieces on the bottom of my pile. 
Hope all is staying nice and cool in the Northern Hemisphere!  It is hot and humid summertime weather here!

Happy Sewing Everyone!  :)


Me-Made-May 2017 | Musings

If it's been a little quiet at the blog this past month, it certainly hasn't been on IG as Me-Made-May 2017 was in full swing.  My 4th year participating, but my first year disciplining myself to take a photo every single day.  And I did it!  Below is a collage of the daily photos in chronological order.
Once I sort of got in the swing of taking/editing daily photos, it really wasn't that big of a deal.  My daughter helped a couple of days and we had fun at Hagood Mill, below left, and Lake Jocassee, below right, together.  The 'need' for photography provided a moment for making memories together.  
My husband helped too.   The photo below right was taken at a city park we'd never had a chance to explore before, but because I 'needed' a photo for this day and had not had a chance to take one, he suggested we stop to explore this pretty spot and he'd take the photo for me.  Another 'making memories' moment.  What I am finding is that instead of the photography being a 'burden' it is a 'blessing' and has enriched my life in these types of moments.
To better my photography skills, which was part of my Me-Made-May 2017 goals, my nose was buried in my photo software editing program's manual (Adobe Photoshop Elements 14) and I spent an inordinate amount of time watching YouTube tutorials.  My first 'blur the background, but not the subject matter' success, below.  Left is 'before'.... right is 'after'
Then I learned how to remove unwanted objects.  Below, the unsightly stump caught in the photo behind my hand, was removed.   Left is 'before'.....right is 'after.  There's still much room for improvement, but at least it's a beginning.  :0
As far as my handmade outfits..... this past month we experienced wide temperature swings, so I was able to use a variety of pieces from my handmade wardrobe.  The biggest accomplishment has to be there was not many repeats!  Yay!!  If anything, it was the Ottobre white pants simply because they go with everything.
Wanting my photos to sort of tell a little of the story of my day, it was fun to incorporate props and be creative in setting up the camera/tripod.  If you want to see each single photo, either click on the #MMMay17 image in the sidebar near the bottom or the Instagram link.  All outfit info and snippets of my daily 'life' is all on Instagram.  With Instagram you can view information without having an account, you just cannot 'like' or 'comment'. 
Interesting that after writing this post I realize how much this past month centered around bettering my photography skills!  Have to say it is nice during the month of May, to sort of release oneself to center on a specific goal, and that is what I chose to do.

So, so pleased that my handmade wardrobe has (finally!) grown to have more choices.  Also realized that what I really want to gravitate to, is some of my more recent sportswear and athletic wear items.  And the white pants!  Need more white pants!!  Also need to make cardis as most of what I own are rtw.

Thank you again Zoe for hosting this awesome annual event!  Already looking forward to next year!  :)

And so very grateful for the social media outlets that connects us to each other.  This was such a fun month interacting with such sweet ladies from all over the world and all because we like to sew our own clothes.   Jean was so right when she said 'sewing would be a lonely hobby without social media'.  I am so very grateful to be a part of our supportive, always encouraging, international sewing community.

Happy Sewing Everyone!  :)