Monday, March 24, 2014

out & about

Before I get to the meat of this post, let's have a lively discussion about photo files, shall we. For some reason every time I upload a JPG file to my blog, the image turns overly pixelated and blurry. This is a recent development because I used to use JPG files all the time. When I save the same image as a PNG file, it uploads much clearer in Blogger -- just as I see it in my photo editing software. However, PNG photos do not show up when I look at my blog posts in the Feedly app on my phone, nor do they show up when I try to pin them on Pinterest, and they're unable to be saved directly from the page. Has anyone else experienced anything similar -- where PNG files aren't "pinnable", or where JPG files are all screwed up in Blogger? I prefer my photos to look better on my actual blog so I've been using the PNGs but I hate the thought of people not being able to read my full posts on other platforms.

No one's said anything, but let me know if you've experienced any issues with my fotes not showing up somewhere. If you do want to pin my blog photos on Pinterest, like to your "Favorite People in the World" board for example, you can just hover over the image and a small red "Pin It" button will appear on the top left.

Anyway, what are you wearing, little one? A new dress! Made of jersey fabric! Get out.

Or should I say, get out & about? The base pattern I used is the recently released Out and About Dress by Sew Caroline, one of my fellow Project Sewn Season 1 contestants who just launched her own PDF pattern company and is also now a fabric designer and an e-book writer and probably a million other things I wish for my sewing self. Geez, some people and their ambitious entrepreneurship. 

And their lush green surroundings. If I took photos of myself walking around my neighborhood I would be kicking through piles of Fritos bags and Honey Bun wrappers. Philly's nasty <3

The Out and About is a basic knit dress with a scoop neck, cuffed sleeves and a gathered skirt that's either knee-length or maxi length. A modest dress for casual everyday wear. If you're new to sewing in general or new to knits, this could be a good place to start because it's a fast sew with a forgiving fit. Caroline's instructions are really thorough with color photographs of each step. She even recommends hemming the sleeves and skirt using Lite E-Z Steam, which helps stabilize the fabric so it doesn't get wavy and stretched out while topstitching the hem. Smart cookie.

I've already made Renfrew dresses and Lady Skaters (unblogged, yikes) so I didn't really want another knit dress with elbow-length set-in sleeves. So I went WILD with this one and extended the shoulder line to make little kimono sleeves instead. I actually meant to make it have more ease in the bodice so I cut the size Medium when I otherwise would have cut the Small, but it's still pretty fitted. The sleeves are hemmed with my coverstitch and not a band.

I also decided to do "color blocking" and make the bodice in leftover black jersey and the skirt in a print. Ooh she bad. For some reason I've never mixed fabrics in one pattern like this before, I guess because I normally don't have anything in my stash that coordinates. It also means I have enough leftover of the print jersey to make a t-shirt or something, which I'm happy about because this fabric is freaking heavenly to wear. It's a rayon jersey with 5% spandex so it's bouncy, drapey and opaque without being heavy. Normally I don't like gathered skirts that sit at the waist because of the bulk, but this fabric hangs nicely. It's from a special designer collection at JoAnn's (here) if you're into it. Yea, one of their so-called "ethnic" fabrics, which always makes me cringe.

My favorite method for gathering fabric for a skirt like this is to sew a zig-zag stitch over a strand of dental floss and then pull. It's faster because there's no need to sew two or three lines of basting stitches, and the dental floss is strong and the fabric glides right over it so there is no risk of threads breaking as you pull and having to start over again. Just be sure you don't accidentally stitch on top of the dental floss at any point because then the fabric won't move at that section.

I left the dental floss in while attaching the bodice to the gathered skirt by sewing directly below the strand and then simply pulling it out afterward.

My only issue, if you could even call it that, with this pattern was that the bodice was drafted to dip down at the sides instead of curve slightly upward like I'm used to seeing. I think I could notice the sides pulling downward on Caroline's black maxi dress, pictured above, so I modified it by changing the direction of the curve so it looked more even once worn. I also decided to add elastic to the waist seam so it wouldn't stretch out over time or droop. Otherwise I am pleased with the drafting of the pattern and happy to support another independent designer entering the market. Keep 'em coming.

This post is part of the Out & About Dress blog tour hosted by Sew Caroline. More of this pattern will be popping up in the coming week by the following talented seamsters:

Mon, March 24: Adventures in Dressmaking and Four Square Walls (that's me, you guys)
Tues, March 25: Alida Makes and Paisley Roots
Weds, March 26: Lexi Made and True Bias
Thurs, March 27: Sewing Like Mad and A Golden Afternoon
Fri, March 28: Lladybird and House of Pinheiro

Now that there are some great options for knit dresses by independent companies out there (Lady Skater, Coco, City Girl Frock, LolaOut & About, any others?), what's your favorite one or which ones would you like to try?