This Dress is Not the Star

Some of my favorite blogs are full of pretty dresses. The details! The fit! The colors! Worn to the grocery store or a fabulous party, they are the star of the show. But sometimes you need a dress that takes a back seat. That plays support for your favorite coat, or bright shoes, or sparkly necklace. For me, this is that dress.

Pattern: basic t-shirt block 
Fabric: 1.5 yds synthetic blend ponte
Cost: $5

The dress is drafted from my basic t-shirt block. Since my t-shirt pattern ends at the widest part of my hips, all I needed to do to make it into a dress was extend it straight down to my desired length. The end result is fitted but not too tight, just like my favorite t-shirts. Made up in a stable black ponte, it is perfect for work or a night out under my favorite accessories.

The other great thing about a simple t-shirt dress is that the whole thing took just a few hours to make. In fact, I sat down to cut out a top when I realized I could squeeze the dress out of the same fabric, too. A couple of seams later and I was wearing it out to a movie that afternoon! It is very rewarding to get such a functional garment with so little effort. I guess it is my LBD.


So why even blog about such a simple garment? Just a little reminder to myself that I can get a lot wear out of such a simple, easy piece. And another stretchy win for holiday parties and eating!

Button-Front Shirts with Cut-on Sleeves

Sometime this year I promised myself that I wouldn't make any new button up shirts. The TNT I've been using has always felt a bit tight, and I would really rather wear slightly more feminine blouses to work. But then of course I came home from my travels this summer and made two of them.

Pattern: altered Sewaholic Granville shirt
Version 1: remnants of cotton lace, silk
Version 2: rayon blend and cotton lawn
Cost: $20 and $10



The difference with these is that they are sleeveless. Or rather, have short cut-on sleeves that make them infinitely more casual and comfy to wear. First up is a version that took care of two longstanding remnants in my stash: a cotton lace and a silk cotton blend. The shoulders are actually just the lace, but they don't show up as sheer as I imagined.


I also made another school-themed one with bears (our mascot) to wear to football games. This one has gotten a lot of compliments and is so much easier on the eyes than the bright official ones I made a few years ago. I only bought a little bit of the fabric, so this is color-blocked version that I think is fun.

The pattern is not perfect yet. The sleeves could be a bit bigger and I haven't perfected the overall width. The bears version is slimmer cut than the lace version, and both have a yoke that can be seen from the front which I don't like as much. Perhaps I will go back to the drawing board for this one, or at least give button-up shirts another hiatus.




In other news, I am wearing my new socks that I knit this summer while in Europe! They essentially took me the whole three-month trip to complete, but they were fun to knit up on trains and quiet evenings. They are from Knit Picks's Two at Once, Toe Up, Magic Loop Sock Pattern. I love knitting two at once because I don't have to remember all the decisions and modifications I made along the way. This pattern is great because it also leads you through customizing the fit. I am almost halfway done with another pair!



Plaid Pants Love

If you know me, you know I love a good pair of pants. Patterned, pleated, stretchy, I love them all. What most people consider to be an afterthought to their cute shirts I think of as the star of the show. I fantasize about pants, I Pinterest stalk pants, and I have way too many favorites to comfortably fit in my closet. 

Pattern: Mambo no. 5
Fabric: printed plaid with at least 30% stretch
Cost: $10

When I saw Lisa's tartan trousers on the Tessuti blog, I had instant pants envy. While plaid pants may remind you of Christina Aguilera in the early 2000s, Lisa's are subtle, sophisticated, and totally work-appropriate. I had to have them. 

I finally spotted the perfect fabric at Fabric Outlet SF at the perfect price to try out this look. And unlike Lisa's, this fabric is very stretchy - my fave! The quality so far has been good and the pants have good recovery, but the print is printed on a white fabric so I am a bit worried about how they will wear. They are fun though!

As usual, I used my Mambo No. 5 pattern, which is a tried and tested amalgamation of all my favorite patterns. As usual, this round gave me some more ideas for alteration (I'm still working on some pesky knee wrinkles), but for the most part the fit is spot on! My secret is that the side seam allowance is a generous one inch, which allows me to baste the seam to test the fit with all sorts of different fabrics. In this case, I sewed the full one inch allowance at the hips but tapered to a 1/2" allowance in the legs to get the cigarette pants look I was going for.  

The other modification I made was to make these as pull-on pants. While I haven't had the best of luck with pull-on pants in the past, the fabric on these was stretchy enough to work perfectly. Previously I've had issues getting the waistband over my hips, so I really need a lot of stretch for pull-on pants to work with my proportions. I also inserted elastic into the waistband, which helps keep everything snug. 

I also enjoy playing with the pockets on my pants. I've been looking for something a little less casual for front pockets, and tried these long horizontal slash pockets in the front. It's more work-appropriate without worrying that things will slip out. The pockets have a pocket stay, which keeps them in place when pulling them on.


For the back pockets I experimented with a quicker way for doing the welts. I hate sewing welt pockets, but love that they provide a less-casual option. My results aren't perfect - I should have done a smaller opening so that the welt covers the whole pocket opening - but I'm excited to try these again. Hopefully, I can share more once I figure it out. I also tacked the bottom of the pocket to the pants so they stay in place. 

With the holidays approaching, I think these will be the perfect festive pants. I love a good plaid this time of year, and the stretch means that there will be plenty of room for eating.

Happy American Thanksgiving to those who are celebrating!

Sleeveless Presto! Top

Here's a quickie for you today. Another Presto! Popover Top. This is my second version, squeezed out of some remnants of a sweater knit with little cut on sleeves to make it work.

Pattern: Naughty Bobbin's Presto! Popover Top
Fabric: lightweight sweater knit
Cost: $5




As I recall, I accidentally sewed the center seam off center and had to unpick and redo, so it was touch and go there for a minute. I like the drape and I like the color, but I'm unsure about the durability of the fabric. It seems to be pilling already, so we'll see if it makes it through the ruthless clothing purge I've been doing lately. It was a remnant from the fabric bin, so maybe I should have just passed this one up.




I will conquer the Presto Popover top some day!

Fall Outfit

 Fall is here, hear the yell. Back to school, ring the bell ...  Well this graduate is actually still on the job hunt, but you get the idea.

Pattern: basic t-shirt block 
Fabric: 1.5 yds jersey knit

This shirt, which was actually cut out in the spring, finally got sewn up and found its place in the wardrobe this fall. It is from the same TNT custom-fit pattern as my previous turtleneck, which I wore all over rainy Europe this summer.

The fabric is a buttery soft cotton jersey from Stone Mountain in Berkeley, and what I love about it is that it is thin without being transparent. While Mr. Made isn't a big fan of turtlenecks, even he admitted that it was very soft as we snuggled up on the couch.

The deep red gives a nice pop of color without being too bright in my wardrobe, and goes really well with my various pants. If you're wondering, I made the ones in the picture a few years back and still think they are some of my best-fitting.




I could see this becoming my new wardrobe uniform this season...
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