Vogue 8904: The Anthropologie Column Dress Knockoff

vogue 8904 striped column dress anthropologie knockoff

For discerning readers out there, two things may look familiar here: the striped fabric and the pattern. I love them both dearly, so it seemed only fitting to birth their love child. After a couple relaxing nights of cutting, pinning, and sewing, out popped my second iteration of Vogue 8904.

vogue 8904 striped column dress

This time around, I made the shorter version but kept it sleeveless for seasonal purposes. The dress took considerably less time overall since the pattern pieces were already cut out and ready to go.

Hot tip: A cool iron works wonders on wrinkled, creased pattern pieces. I picked that info up from one of my Grainline patterns, so thanks, Jen!

Side note: The left side of my face was still very much novocaine numb from an earlier dentist appointment, so please excuse any Derp Face in this post.

vogue 8904 striped column dress

The pattern: V8904, view A without the sleeves

Alterations: added 1″ of length at the waist (same as the last dress)

Fabric: for the base layer (which is completely hidden by the shingles), I used a black knit bought for $3.95/yard at Textile Discount Outlet in Chicago. I’m not sure about the content, but it’s not too dissimilar in stretch from the top layers. For the shingles, I used my beloved striped bamboo-lycra blend from Girl Charlee.

I sewed the neck binding in the flat, like the pattern directs. But then I CUT A HOLE in the binding attempting to trim the excess fabric down. (Insert sounds of glass shattering and a banshee scream.) Instead of unpicking an entire row of lightning-bolt stitches, I cut the neckband off as closely to the original stitching as I could. I then cut a new neckband, stitched it into a circle, press it in half lengthwise with wrong sides together, and sewed it on in the round.

vogue 8904 striped column dress

I’ve sewn a good handful of knit neckbands in the round now, and I’m pretty happy with this result. To anchor the neckband, I used an edgestitching foot to stitch verrrry closely just below the seam line. I sewed the armholes in the round for the hell of it, topstitching near the seam to anchor them. I might go back and unpick that stitching, though, since it’s a little wonky and uneven for my taste. We’ll see if I find the energy.

And now for a side-by-side comparison of V8904 and one of the Bailey 44 layered column dresses I drooled over for ages at Anthropologie (now retired, but originally $178 LOLOLOL):

v8904 anthropologie bailey 44 dress comparison

Obviously this model’s beach house beats my backdrop: a gravel-filled lot where the garbage cans live. Styling aside, V8904 holds its own pretty well, especially considering that this dress cost less than $20 in fabric. The stripe matching ain’t perfect (although the top and bottom shingles are pretty good), but this dress is so forgiving that the imperfect stripes don’t stress me out. This little number will most likely make an appearance on my Me Made May feed… maybe in Vegas?

What are your tried-and-true patterns?

Another Mandy Boat Tee

Mandy tessuti boat tee

When a pattern’s pretty near perfect, why stop at making it twice? This striped number is my third Tessuti Mandy Boat Tee (with a color-blocked fourth one in the works). I went the same route with this one as I did with my cream-colored french terry version, keeping 1/2″ sliced off the pattern’s side seams. I forgot to shorten the sleeves, which I might go back and do since these are just a tiny bit tight below the elbows.

Mandy tessuti boat tee

The fabric is a buttery soft bamboo-lycra blend from Girl Charlee. I’m going to go ahead and say that this is the softest goddamn fabric I have ever worn. I highly recommend it if you’re looking for a striped knit with plenty of stretch.

And that’s that! Since I’ve already written about this pattern, let’s move on to one of the many projects in my queue:

MorrisSideModel

The Morris Blazer! This pattern is fresh off the presses from Grainline Studio. It’s an unlined blazer designed for stretch wovens and stable knits, and I am SO EXCITED to sew this up for my spring and summer wardrobe. My mom commented that Hong Kong seams would be perfect for finishing the center back seam allowances, and I totally agree. I’m excited to test that technique on some scraps and then eventually try it with Morris.

What’s in your queue?

2015 Spring and Summer Sewing Plans

If you follow Colette Patterns’ blog, Coletterie, then you might be familiar with the Wardrobe Architect series. Essentially, it’s a 14-week challenge aimed at creating a succinct, meaningful personal wardrobe. Weekly themes see seamsters defining a core style, exploring silhouettes, picking a color palette, and finally choosing and sewing a capsule wardrobe.

I found out about the series several weeks into this year’s challenge and thought it sounded like a fabulous idea—if only I’d stumbled across it in January. Maybe next year I’ll take the plunge and complete the series from start to finish. This time around, I’m simply taking inspiration from current and past Wardrobe Architect posts. If anything, I’m just glad that the series reintroduced Polyvore back into my life.

Polyvore’s collage function is super fun to play around with and—as you can see above—I’ve already taken advantage of it to create a small but curated plan for my spring and summer wardrobe. For now, I’m focusing on six items that I’m positive will get a good deal of wear, maaaaybe with the exception of the bold floral shift. (It’s spring, let me LIVE A LITTLE.) And now for the plans:

(imagine this without sleeves)

Sleeveless Button Up

Pattern: Grainline Studio’s Archer Button Up

Sewn it already? yes, but this time I’ll use Jen’s pattern tutorial to create a sleeveless version

Possible fabric: solid color; silk, lightweight cotton, lightweight chambray

Scout Tee

Solid Knit Tee

Pattern(s): Grainline Studio’s Scout Tee or Deer and Doe’s Plantain T-Shirt

Sewn it already? yes, both patterns multiple times

Possible fabric: I’d love to find a hunter green similar to the one in the collage above; ponte knit or something similarly sturdy

this, without the gathered cuffs

Floral Shift Dress

Pattern: Colette Patterns’ Laurel

Sewn it already? nope, but it’s bought and patiently waiting in my stash

Fabric: this bright Kaffe Fassett print, which I recently bought online for the sole purpose of creating a floral Laurel. I’m praying I don’t hate it when I rip open the box.

Maritime Shorts

Printed Shorts

Pattern(s): not quite sure yet; I’m considering Grainline’s Maritime Shorts, Sewaholic’s Thurlow Shorts, and Dixie DIY’s Movies in the Park Shorts

Sewn it already? none of ’em!

Fabric: I guess it depends on which pattern I choose, but a printed denim or twill would be cool

to bow or not to bow is the burning question

Full Skirt

Pattern: Deer and Doe’s Chardon Skirt

Sewn it already? no, but I’ve admired this stunner from afar on the likes of several different bloggers

Fabric: dunno yet—so many options—v. overwhelmed

the woven version will ditch the cuffs and maybe the drawstring

Woven Straight Leg Pants

Pattern: True Bias’s Hudson Pants

Sewn it already? yup, two pairs in knit fabric. I’ll use Kelli’s woven Hudson tutorial to make this pair.

Fabric: something breezy but opaque; maybe a lightweight cotton?

And there you have it: six items that I’m hoping will not only come to fruition but also get a lot of wear this coming spring and summer. Here’s hoping the sewing is as fun as the planning! Do you have any seasonal wardrobe plans?

Click here for details about the items shows above.

Deer and Doe Plantain T-Shirt

plantain t-shirt deer and doe

This shirt almost didn’t get made. Not because it’s tricky to sew; in fact, it’s a pretty easy make if you’re familiar with knits. The reason it almost landed in my scrap bin is that I carelessly snipped a hole in the sleeve when clipping down the excess seam allowance. Gah! After about 15 minutes of hysterics, I realized that I had more than enough leftover fabric to cut a brand new sleeve. Crisis averted—well, almost. Unpicking an entire row of zigzag stitches in a slinky knit proved to be very tedious, and the shoulder seam isn’t as smooth as the other because I had to sew it with a teensy seam allowance. Aside from those misfires, the shirt turned out just fine.

deer and doe plantain t-shirt
These are not my sewing scissors.

The pattern is the Plantain T-Shirt from French company Deer and Doe, who released it in January of 2014. You’ve probably already seen versions of this shirt floating around the Internet, and for good reason: it’s amazing! Here’s why:

  1. It’s ~*FREE.*~ And in the words of Deer and Doe: “Even though this is a simpler design that needs less pieces, it received as much care as all our others products: detailed instructions and testing in all sizes.” Eléonore, I like you already.
  2. The neckband is drafted perfectly. Neckbands on knits have always been a pain point for me, so I was a little nervous to finally attach this sucker, especially since the scoopneck dips pretty low for a T-shirt. Lo and behold, the neckband sewed on without a hitch, and it lies perfectly flat.
  3. The shape is flattering. I figured this cut (fitted at the shoulders and flared at the hips) would be comfortable, but I was pleasantly surprised by how the top skims and flows in the right places.
  4. You’ve got options: short-, 3/4-, or full-length sleeves. You better believe I’ll be making this up as a short-sleeve tee for the summer.
  5. Elbow patches, y’alls. I didn’t buy a contrast fabric, so I just cut the patches so their stripes would run perpendicular to the stripes on the sleeve. I love the way they add a little quirk to a simple tee.

deer and doe plantain t-shirt deer and doe plantain t-shirt

(Note: To take the picture on the right, I taped my phone to the window, set it on the Best Face mode, and jumped back with just enough time for it to capture this grainy photo. (I need a real camera and tripod.) Marc took the other photos, but as the sun was setting and we were inside, the colors are totally wonky. Stupid winter daylight!)

Minus the sleeve-cutting fiasco, construction was a breeze. I cut out a 40 (European sizing) and added about 1″ of length to the body and 1/2″ to the sleeves. Those adjustments worked out great for my 6’0″, size 6/8 frame. My material is a cotton/spandex jersey from The Needle Shop. For the seams, I used a ballpoint needle, stretch stitch, and my walking foot, which turned out to be an absolute necessity with this lightweight knit. I used a little bit of basting spray to attach the elbow patch the the sleeve before stitching to make sure it didn’t slip all over the place. I’m not sure if that’s kosher to use with a knit… but it didn’t burn a hole through my material, so that’s good.

deer and doe plantin t-shirt

I finished the neckline, cuffs, and bottom hem with my twin needle and walking foot, but the bottom hem still managed to turn out a little wavy. Maybe next time I’ll use some tissue paper underneath the fabric to stabilize it. Overall, I highly recommend this pattern, especially since all you need is fabric and thread. It’s the perfect stash buster, and it’s great if you’re a beginner wanting to test the waters with knits. Let me know if you make it, or if you have some surefire tips for wave-free hems!

Linden Sweatshirt

linden sweatshirt

New Year, new garment—finally! But before I get into that, I’d like to wish you all a very Happy New Year, especially as we settle back into our desks at work and our single-digit weather here in Chicago. You’re not alone if you’re feeling a little blue, but luckily there are two simple solutions to combat your inner Debbie this winter:

1). Exercise. Seriously, get a sweat going for 30 minutes a few times a week and there is a 100% chance you will feel better and sleep like a baby.

2). Find a hobby (and stick with it.)

I rode the post-college emotional roller coaster pretty hard my first year after graduating, coming up just short of an existential crisis but with plenty of anxiety to go around. Learning how to sew was probably the number one factor in pulling me out of that funk. Any hobby will do, but sewing is great since you can tangibly mark your progress and actually get everyday use out of what you make.

So come this lazy, grim weekend, still feeling the after-effects of hosting a New Year’s Eve party, I turned once again to my sewing machine. I’d been neglecting it for the past several weeks, but with an afternoon free and Grainline Studio’s Linden Sweatshirt pattern at the ready, I got back to work.

linden sweatshirt

Like most reviews state, this top comes together very quickly, even without a serger. I sewed this up on my sewing machine (size 8 at the bust, graded down to a 6 at the hip) with a ballpoint needle and stretch stitch. The fabric is a sweatshirt fleece from Fabric.com. The one issue I had in construction was with the neckband: my initial band was way too short. This probably has to do with the lack of stretch in my material. I’m pretty sure the listing stated that my material has 40% mechanical stretch; the pattern calls for materials with at least 20% of stretch (or ribbing, which is typically very stretchy and pliable). I guess mechanical stretch and regular stretch are two totally different measurements? If you have insight into this topic, please let me know in the comments!

linden sweatshirt

I tried to eyeball a longer neckband, and then stupidly sewed that on without basting to test it first. Holy mother of god did that leave me with the most insane-looking funnel neck. I ended up cutting that off entirely while trying to preserve the original neckline as best I could. The finished neckband you see is some stretchy heather jersey leftover from my Hudson Pants, and I actually really like the look of the dark gray against the muted red. The neck doesn’t lie 100% flat, but it’s an immense improvement over my funnel monstrosity.

linden sweatshirt

I was a little worried about the cuffs and hem band also being too short, but those came together in a snap. I added about 1″ to the sleeves and body, but I think next time I’ll add 1.5″ to the sleeves and 2″ to the body for comfort. It probably turned out a little shorter than anticipated since my seam allowance was more like 5/8″ instead of the 1/4″ called for in the pattern. My machine was not liking that narrow seam allowance on fleece, and it angrily gnawed it up until I surrendered to a wider allowance.

So far, I love this pattern. I wore the sweatshirt out the first night I finished it, and Marc even said, “It looks like you bought that.” Yes! I’ll take that compliment when it comes to handmade basics. I already have plans to sew this up for a friend as a very belated Christmas gift, and I’ll probably sew another one up for myself soon. Have you tried this pattern yet? Any thoughts on fabric choice or finishing?

how to style a knit skirt

Two Ways to Wear a Knit Skirt

One of the benefits of moving is finding buried treasure. Nobody in their right mind enjoys the laborious process of packing, cleaning, and carting boxes, so I’ll take a silver lining wherever I can get one. This time around—my fifth Chicago apartment in three years—I stumbled across a few forgotten gems. In the bottom what I like to call my Second Hamper, the contents of which hadn’t been laundered in probably 10 months, I found this Madewell Indigo Ink Sweatshirt that I’d scored on super sale a couple years ago. Chaching! It was like shopping in my own (dirty) closet.

When it came time to pack up my sewing supplies, I discovered a few cheap-o patterns I’d bought during one of JoAnn’s pattern sales when I first started sewing. At first glance, these patterns seemed pretty dull: a boring tote, some simple A-line dresses—nothing to write home about. And then I found McCall’s M6654, an easy-level pattern designed for knits.

McCall's M6654 sewing pattern
McCall’s obv. needs to work on its styling…..

I know, it looks kind of boring. But I’ve been looking to add another skirt to my winter wardrobe, and this run-of-the-mill piece fit the bill just fine. The pattern offers semi-fitted and loose-fitting elastic-waist skirts in seven lengths, from mini to maxi. I went with the semi-fitted view and cut out a size 14 (28″ waist; 38″ hip) at length B. Luckily, I had everything I needed already in my stash: just enough french terry leftover from Marc’s Strathcona tee, and some leftover 2″ elastic from my Hudson pants, substituted for the 1″ elastic called for in the pattern.

This was one of the easier projects I’ve sewn in awhile, and that’s saying something since I’ve been whipping up relatively easy garments all year. I used a ballpoint needle coupled with a stretch stitch for the seams and a twin needle for the hem. The fabric is pooling a bit under the waistband, which means I probably could’ve gone one size smaller, especially considering the decent amount of stretch in my fabric. That said, the skirt was incredibly comfortable even after furniture shopping all day, including a multi-hour IKEA trip.

Since I sometimes have trouble deciding how to wear a simple knit skirt, I figured it might be helpful to show two different ways to style one.

how to style a knit skirt

knit skirt dressed downknit skirt

The majority of the time, I’ll be dressing this skirt down, as I work in a very laid-back office and generally dress for comfort. Here, I paired the skirt with a tent-style long-sleeve top from Una Mae’s in Chicago. It’s got an interesting, flowing shape that skims the body and doesn’t compete with the semi-fitted cut of the skirt. Add some tights (a colorful pair would be cute) and a pair of casual boots, and this’ll take me anywhere from weekend shopping to the office to a dive bar.

how to style a knit skirt

knit skirtknit skirt

Look #2 skews dressier. The elastic-waist design makes this skirt a good candidate to pair with an airy blouse. I tucked in a semi-sheer printed blouse and threw on a wide elastic belt for a little extra polish. Simple black tights and monochromatic suede booties with a chunky heel complete the outfit. I could see wearing this to work in a business casual environment, or out to a restaurant with two or more dollar $igns on Yelp.

How do you style a knit skirt?

Sewing for Dudes: Strathcona T-Shirt

thread theory men's strathcona t-shirt

I’m a creature of habit. When it comes to cooking dinner, it’s either chicken fajitas or eggs and TJ’s pumpkin waffles (#breakfast4dinner4life). It’s not that I’m not an adventurous eater (bring on the tendon soup and octopus carpaccio), it’s just that cooking old standbys is quick, simple, and satisfying. The same can be said for my recent wardrobe purchases, 90% of which have been gray or black. For better or worse, this tendency toward the familiar has trickled into my sewing life.

strathcona teestrathcona tee

In keeping with my goal of sewing one item of clothing for another person each month, I bought Thread Theory’s Strathcona pattern to sew a shirt for Marc. In early November, I finally got around to buying the fabric: a french terry from Girl Charlee that’s a soft, stretchy cotton-modal-lycra blend in a deep forest green. I’d just finished cutting out the fabric to make the long-sleeve T-shirt variation when I spotted it: a long-sleeve crewneck thermal from the Gap in nearly an identical shade of forest green, taunting me from its spot in Marc’s clean clothes hamper. At that point, I thought about making the short-sleeve variation instead, but then I remembered I’d bought Marc a short-sleeve American Apparel tee last year in, you guessed it, a nice shade of dark olive. We’re defenseless against the power of the solid neutrals! So, a long-sleeve forest green Strathcona it would be.

strathcona teethread theory strathcona tee

Marc is 6’2″ and generally wears a slim-fit medium in shirts, so I cut a medium. The general consensus for this pattern is that it runs a bit long in the body and very long in the sleeves, so I kept the body as is and took a bit of length off the sleeves. As far as construction goes, the shirt came together pretty easily, although next time I’ll use my walking foot to keep things smoother. I think the walking foot would have been especially helpful when attaching the sleeves, since I ended up with some weird pockets on the shoulder seam and had to do somewhat of a hack job to get them to lie flatter. I could definitely use a bit more practice setting sleeves with a knit fabric. (Actually just setting sleeves in general!) Anyone have tips for that?

strathcona men's t-shirt neckline

The pattern calls for the sleeves and bottom hem to be finished with self-fabric bands or a twin-needle hem, so I went with one of each: banded cuffs and a twin-needle bottom hem. This was my first experience with a twin needle, and I’m smitten! I also used it to topstitch the neckband. It so easily adds a more professional finish with barely any extra effort.

And that’s about it, folks! The important thing is that Marc thinks it’s comfy and likes the color (duh). Have you sewn any garments for the dudes in your life? I’m not very familiar with menswear patterns, so any suggestions are welcome! Next up on my docket is the Linden Sweatshirt from Grainline Studio. Stay tuned for that, or a possible pre-Christmas sewing meltdown. Only time will tell.