A Little Floral Number (Vogue 8904)

vogue 8904

I should know better than to sew a dress the day of a party. You could write a mathematical proof showing that impulse sewing directly increases your level of stress. But sometimes (who am I kidding, A LOT of the time) your fabric speaks to you.


You have a serger now it says. I’m a thick, sturdy knit it says. You’ve already sewn this pattern twice it says. And so I listened. I listened and that meant I was sewing on a neckband and finishing sleeves and the hem barely 90 minutes before folks walked through the door for my birthday party.

It wasn’t all so haphazard, though. If I’ve learned anything in three-ish years of sewing, it’s that a little planning goes a long way when it comes to the finished product—and your sanity. Here are some tips for a speedy sew:


Cut out multiple projects at once. I don’t know how I had the patience to cut out several different projects in one evening, but I did and this ponte double-knit floral dress was one of ’em. If only I’d gotten to sewing it before the morning of the party…

Pick a pattern you’ve already used. I knew this dress would fit without much fuss, as I’ve used Marcy Tilton’s Vogue 8904 pattern four times now. A long sleeveless dress with panels, short sleeveless dress with panels, long sleeveless V-neck hack for Cruella, and now the short version with sleeves and no panels. (I’d link to it but the Vogue site gives a 404 error when you click through—it might be out of print…?!?!)


Choose a fast sewing method. Sorry French seams and Hong Kong finishes! We’ll meet again some leisurely day. I used my SUPER FAST WONDERFUL serger for most of the construction of this dress and used the sewing machine to anchor the neckband and sew the hems.

Don’t rush the finishing touches. Listen, I know that my hems look better when I use a walking foot. I know it. But I let my pre-hosting jitters cloud my brain into 1). using a regular foot and 2). not busting out the twin needle. I used a ballpoint needle (I’m not INSANE, y’alls) and a zigzag stitch, and my bottom hem turned out a wee bit wavy for my liking. Note to self: Take the extra 3 minutes to attach the walking foot and thread the twin needle. Le sigh.


Do you have any tips for speedy sewing? I’m all ears. And happy SPRING everybody! I’m embracing it with plenty of pretty florals and rosé wine. Actually, I drank rosé most of the winter, too. The gods of booze snobbery will have to pry my rosé out of my cold, dead hands.

Portside Travel Set Dopp Kit (and the Little Pouch)



sewing portside dopp kit by grainline studio

I must subconsciously wish I was left-handed. Of the many silly mistakes I made when crafting this dopp kit, I sewed on two zippers the “wrong” way. With the dopp kit, I cared enough to get my seam ripper out, but the pouch didn’t get such special treatment. That little guy will forever open the left-handed way, or the “right” way for 10% of the population and 71% of current and former presidents for the past 40 years.

sewing portside dopp kit by grainline studio

My right-handed self found sewing this dopp kit to be a little trickier than anticipated. That might be due to my accessory-sewing rustiness; I haven’t sewn anything but apparel since I made an easy button wallet more than a year ago. Or maybe I was so excited to work on this Grainline pattern that I went at it a little too hastily. The truth is, this pattern took two days of prep before I even sat down at the sewing machine.

Because the Portside Travel Set includes three pieces (a duffel bag, dopp kit, and pouch), the PDF pattern pieces took awhile to tape together and cut. I reserved the next evening for cutting everything out and applying the fusible interfacing. And on the third night, she collapsed in a pile of the sewing-room (aka office/closet) floor, her hand hanging limp in an empty Mexican take-out container. That’s partially true. But really, on the third day I got to work whipping up the dopp kit.

sewing portside dopp kit by grainline studio

Fabrics: Robert Kaufman red floral cotton for the self fabric, J. Crew gray linen-cotton blend for the contrast, and HeatnBond medium fusible interfacing

I love the Marimekko-like floral print, and it’s a decent enough weight for a bag. The gray contrasting fabric, however, is a little too lightweight for my liking, plus it wrinkles super easily. Next time I’ll use heavier duty fabric, or try interlining the bag with sew-in interfacing (like the pattern recommends if you’re looking for a heftier feel).

sewing portside dopp kit by grainline studio

I won’t go into supreme detail on every step of the sewing, but here is a list of things I’ll keep in mind for next time:

Transfer all of the pattern notches on the actual fabric. I somehow failed to do this for every piece, and when it came to sewing the rounded edges of the top and sides, it was a little hairy. I think that’s why my bag is slightly misshapen.

When sewing multiple layers, pin properly! I thought I was done when I noticed a raw edge peeking out on the front of the kit:

sewing portside dopp kit by grainline studio

Not a good feeling, especially when you’ve just finished hand-sewing the lining into place and have to rip out yet another set of stitches.

Don’t forget to topstitch the strap. In my late-night sewing delirium, I misplaced the strap I’d already sewn together and topstitched. After a fruitless 5-minute search, I sewed another strap. No big deal, except that when I attached it to the dopp kit, I forgot to topstitch the damned thing! This is what happened when I tried to machine topstitch when it was already sewn on the bag:

sewing portside dopp kit by grainline studio

Yeah… I immediately ripped those stitches out and now the strap is less structured than I’d like, but at least it’s not looking superjanky.

portside dopp kit

Double-check the cutting layout. I ended up short one piece when it came to Step 25, which calls for a “self front piece” when creating the pocket. I’m still not sure where the problem stems from. (Scratches head.)

And that’s the gist of it. My dopp kitt, though a little floppy, is already growing on me. Oh, and the pouch! Pretty straightforward zipper pouch, although it’s even floppier than my dopp kitt because it didn’t call for any interfacing or lining.

sewing portside pouch by grainline studio

It doesn’t really need it though, especially if you buy a heavier fabric and are planning on using it like me: to hold only crisp, new $2 bills. Just don’t forget to sew the zipper on the right way, y’alls!

And now for some gratuitous shots:

sewing portside dopp kit by grainline studio
Toiletries… and a mysterious sumo wrestler.
sewing portside dopp kit by grainline studio
Whip stitchin’
sewing portside dopp kit by grainline studio
looks friendly enough…
sewing portside dopp kit by grainline studio
… but there’s something devious about those eyes!

sewing portside dopp kit by grainline studio

sewing portside dopp kit by grainline studio
Thanks for modeling, thumb-wrestling sumo man. Now I know why you have a constant look of angered surprise on your face.

Next up: the Portside duffel bag?

salme pattern 149 buttonless shirt dress

The Summer of PDF Sewing Patterns

Lately, I’ve been in a bit of a creative sewing rut. I could say it’s because I’ve been busy with other life stuff,  but really, sometimes I’m just overwhelmed by the sheer number of options at my fingertips. I think too much of a good thing can be stifling sometimes. Step away from the Bloglovin’ feed, Dani. But instead of abandoning the sewing machine until inspiration strikes, this time I’m taking a more proactive approach. I know it’s risky to say (type?) a goal out loud, in a public forum with the Internet as my witness, but here goes:

My goal for the spring/summer is to sew at least one PDF pattern from an independent designer each month.

Whew, that wasn’t so hard. Yesterday I bought, pieced together, and cut out my first pattern. Here are the deets:

Spring/Summer of pdf patterns – May

Brand: Salme Patterns

Pattern: 149, buttonless shirt dress

Price: $8 on Etsy

Fabric: Floral-printed linen blend

floral linen fabric

I’m excited to get started! Have any of you sewn up this pattern before? Any tips?