Winter and Spring Sewing

Earlier this year, I got it into my head that as a person who sews, I should know how to make pants. I rarely wear pants, but that wasn’t the point! So I picked out a pattern, Vogue 9189, and dove in. My first pair was bright orange and sadly too small. It turns out that the amount of ease one needs for sitting and walking is larger than what you need in a bodice to breathe. Go figure! My mom gave me a few suggestions based on photos I texted her, and I whipped up a larger version in green, with the zipper moved to the back for easier fitting. The green ones fit right, but I’m not a fan of the color. They were supposed to be a wearable muslin, but I won’t be wearing them. Both pairs are in linen blends.

I got most of the fit details worked out with the green version (with more help from my mom), and then I cut out a pair of shorts in a lovely hawaiian print to make a playsuit to wear to the Viva Las Vega Rockabilly Weekend, where I took the only pictures I have of this pair all together.

I made a matching top using a heavily modified version of Simplicity 1426. I extended the bodice and attempted to swap the back closure with a shirred panel. Unfortunately my shirring didn’t have as much recovery as my commercially shirred pieces, so it didn’t hold the band of the top snuggly enough for the cups to sit right. So I improvised and added a strip of 3 in elastic behind the shirring. It’s not an elegant solution, but it did the trick! My other modification was to have criss-cross straps instead of a halter neck. I got a sunburn at the car show at Viva, so I now have a nice X on my back. Haha!

After making all of my pants, I decided to finish an old WIP and dug out a gingham version of By Hand London’s Kim Dress. I started it last summer, but I put it aside to when I got busy with knitting work and forgot about it. The fabric was a hand-me-down cotton-poly blend that either used to belong to my mom or was from my Farmor’s stash that my aunt gave to me. I thought it would be fun to cut the center front and back panels on the bias, so the gingham ran in different directions, but I didn’t do a good job counteracting the quirks of fabric on the bias. Putting in the zipper was a nightmare, and the neckline pulled and looked sloppy. I added some top-stitching to help stabilize the neckline and told myself that a bad zipper job is fine when you’ve got a cardigan collection like mine, and the picture on the right is from after that. I added pockets to the skirt and skipped the pin tucks.

My final winter sewing project was an unrecognizable Butterick 5748. My fabric was an impulse purchase because I fell in love with Anna Maria Horner’s recent collection, but I only bought three yards since I had told myself I wasn’t buying anymore fabric this year. I traced off the front bodice piece and gave it a sweetheart neckline. My yardage was too limited for a circle skirt, but the fabric was amazingly easy to handle, so I decided to go with 2 inch pleats that I shaped around a ruler of the same size. It was incredibly simple to do. The only unaltered piece was the back bodice. I added pockets, and the whole thing came together without any fuss. Expect to see more heavily altered Butterick 5748s because I love this pattern and love how this alteration came out.

Moving into spring, I made two more Butterick 5748 dresses using my sweetheart neckline mod. The first was a yellow version using the original skirt from the pattern. The fabric is meant for quilting, and I’ve had good luck combining this pattern with quilting fabrics in the past, but this one is annoyingly wrinkly. On the brighter side, I achieved a personal goal of making a full dress within a weekend, including pre-shrinking and ironing my fabric. I even made my own bias tape!

My next version of Butterick 5748 was the speediest dress I’ve ever made. At the last minute, I decided I needed a new dress to wear with a cardigan for knitting pattern photos, and I cranked out this fine fellow in just 26 hours during the work week. I can’t quite believe it. The only corner I cut was adding pockets, which I generally now include in all dresses with gathered or pleated skirts. I left the side seams unfinished and plan on adding the pockets soon. The fabric was the top sheet from my absolute favorite set of sheets, which was still in good shape even though the bottom half completely ripped. I’m excited to give it more life as a dress.






12 responses to “Winter and Spring Sewing”

  1. Linda Kay Spooner

    I don’t know why you don’t wear pants (or as we old women call slacks). You look very good in what you made. The shorts looked great. I love the dress tho. It looks wonderful on you. Yes, I understand why you will make that pattern a lot. Yes, I really like it. Take care, try things out of your norm once in awhile. ok? Linda

    1. I’m not a big fan of pants because I find skirts and dresses more comfortable, particularly when its rainy. I hate the feeling of wet pants clinging to my ankles, and it rains here quite a lot.

      I’m not sure what you comment about trying things out of my norm is about? This blog post involves me trying a bunch of new things!

  2. I am the same way! I wear pants so infrequently, that someone invariably comments on it when I do! I just prefer how dresses/skirts look and feel. I love all the bright, fun colors in your dresses! I may just have to check out Butterick 5748 now.

    1. Thank you! You should definitely try that pattern. It’s a good basic dress that can be tweaked a lot.

  3. Ann

    Love what you did and I dont agree re the “pants” or trousers as we call them in UK. It is difficult to make comfortable trousers but the green pair look fabulous and why dont you dye them black? Adore the yellow fabric and the last version of your dress!! Good for you I also dressmake and have done since I was 12 years old Im heading towards 66 now but still get immense pleasure from dressmaking as well as knitting. Thanks for sharing your talents x x x

    1. I don’t need the pants, so I’m going to donate them. They were really meant to be a muslin for future projects, like the shorts, and I thought I might wear them but didn’t feel that way when they were done.

  4. Anna

    Wonderful dresses! Well done.

  5. kelly williams

    Gosh, you are amazing!!
    I knit which is why I follow your blog but those dresses are to die for!!
    I’m really not a sewer but I might give one a go, perhaps I better start with something simpler!!

    1. If you like my style, sleeveless full-skirted dresses are a good place to start for a first sewn garment. They only have to fit your top, which is a bit easier to manage.

  6. All your dresses look great but my favourite is the one with the pleats and this incredibly gorgeous fabric : seems like you’re wearing a painting on you!
    As for the pants, I think the green one fits you well and you look good in them! Next time, you you try to sew them in a darker fabric.

    1. That fabric is something special! Anna Maria Horner really is talented.

      Thanks for the suggestion about the pants, but dark fabrics aren’t my cup of tea.

  7. Julia

    Since everyone else seems bent on trying to convince you to change your wardrobe preferences, I’ll be the one to back you up – I too prefer skirts to pants, particularly in the summer. 😉

    I also love a good sweetheart neckline dress. I think it’s one of the most flattering necklines and it is interesting to sew. Your yellow variation is my absolute favorite of the dresses you included in this post; I can’t wear those colors, but they look fantastic on you, especially with your new hair! And your rockabilly playsuit is just too cute =D

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