Simple Double Layered Grey Rib Knit Dress

I’ve been wanting to make a simple long-sleeve, slightly-below the knee grey dress, mainly inspired by a bunch of grey-dress+leather jacket + scarf inspiration pins.

The pattern itself is simple enough – something I made many times before. This time, I wanted the fabric to be thick – I didnt want it to cling to every little features of my curve 😉 So I decided to double up the fabric and use two layers instead of the default one. And then I decided that instead of struggling without a cover stitch machine, I would simple serge the two fabric together at neckline, sleeve hem, and hemline, so that I’d have a pretty professional finishing on the edges without having the cover stitch. It came out great- stretchable and clean and not a thread in sight!

 

 

With me wearing it (sorry, no full body shots of the dress as i am feeling the lack of time to properly take photos of me wearing the dress!)

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I pretty much used much all the fabric I had available – because I doubled up, It came out knee-length only, but its nice and thick and warm, and works well with 👢 instead of sneakers in my original planned outfit. I feel the slight need to make two more – one short body con and one longer, midi length dress!

 

 

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Water Resistent Trench Coat

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I’ve caught the trench coat bug since the last trench make. Trench coats do have a lot of details though, so I really only have the energy for one a year. Earlier this year I decided to try a raglan sleeve pattern with a water resistent (but cotton) fabric, and i really had to put the project aside because:

  1. The raglan sleeves just didnt look right on me – its a pretty stiff fabric so it looked oversized and boxy
  2. The top stitch thread I choose didnt look strong against the fabric
  3. the fabric slips under my presser foot, making sewing it not at all a pleasure
  4. I totally forgot to add a back flap – which REALLY bummed me out

I used BurdaStyle trench coat 09/2012. #103. I had to take in the sleeves and the sides by a bit – so the pattern does run a little big. (Ideally I would take it in from the top sleeve/shoulder seam but I already top stitched the seam and this fabric is not forgiving). I also added a sleeve extension so it hit my nuckles instead my of wrist.  My favorate part about this pattern is its generous collars – the ratio just seems right to me!

The fabric is a water resistant cotton coating/jacketing from fashion fabric club. Ive had pretty good luck finding nice trench coat material from them! The wrong side is coated for water resistance, so it was slippery to sew. the right side however, feels like soft brushed cotton. It feels really good on! I hope this coat softens over time as well.

Usually trench coats are not lined, and that’s probably better for drape as well. But I just cannot resistant a pop of color on the inside. I lined it with smooth cotton satin, and did my usual embroidery. I love how it looks and feels!

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I am so glad I picked this UFO back up and finished it. Now that its done – I am wearing it quite a lot for the fall! I cant wait for rain so I can see how it does in the water!

Now that I have hade a knee length trench coat and a mid-thigh trench coat, I am ready to think about my next, hip length trench coat! Maybe a more fitted one! 🙂

 


Asymmetrical Sweater Top

Made a quick top – took me a few weeks because, life. But I love the result – just in time for fall too! I became aware of this pattern because of Raliat’s version – and i just had to have one after seeing her outfit!

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I used a pattern – McCall 7194. The top was really long on me initially, I had to lower the whole arm hole/shoulder seam/neckline down by 3 inches to make it fit (thus both shortening the bodice and narrowing the shoulder. The two asymmetrical seams ended up starting from the arm hole – but it actually didn’t look bad. Next time though I think I might try to make this even shorter – maybe a 4 inch reduction.

The fabric is this quilted knit from Joann, and its very squishy and warm. I like the subtle difference in the “bubble” pattern on the top and bottom of the sweater from the way its aligned differently. The whole thing is serged together and zigzagged on the edges.

I love this outfit – something I gravitate towards in the fall – sweater, legging, and boots. Love that the legging’s front and back seams are covered by the hem so I feel a bit more modest, and yet the sides and high enough that its a good proportion on my petite frame. I am also wearing my hand made splats here- it goes quite well in this outfit!


Gatsby Summer Picnic Dress

This probably has never happened before – but I made a dress for an event!! I usually never make anything for a single purpose – not even for a wedding. But – I dont remember which came first – I loved Mary’s picnic dress in Downton Abbey but needed an excuse to make that dress; and I found out about this amazing Gatsby Summer Picnic a few years ago and needed a dress to go to the event. I also happened to have some red stripes +  the perfect lace from my dad in my stash I want to use up, and so, a dress is born!

 

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I also made a red velvet belt to go with it – I think if I wear this again though I will sew it in – it slipped around and didnt stay on the seam all day as I hoped. I re-used an umbrella from a friend’s wedding, an awesome friend bought me a vintage purse from an estate sale, plus amazon hat and necklace – the outfit is complete! (And of course being a dependent on my apple watch I had a hard time taking it on. so lets just say I was ahead of my times on the watch front!)

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This is my lovely date Tracy – we had a great time at the event together! She’s also the photographer for my outfit photos here 🙂 We were pleasantly surprised that the ride into the event from the gate was either vintage cars or horse carriage!! This is both our first times riding either.

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I am particularly proud of how the back fits on this dress. Usually store-bought dresses are too small for my hips area, but this one fits and shows off my junks nicely. Unfortunately I did gain 5-10lbs between the making of this dress and the event… so things were, a little snug.
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The lace is actually not sewn on – because I could not bear the thought of cutting it into two and fitting that into the zipper. so I just attached it with clear buttons.

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I should really probably end my post here and say I had a lovely time and was really inspired but all the lovely outfits and I will be back next year with an actual picnic spread… But I cannot resist posting the next as the last photo 🙂

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Anyone wants to join me next year? 🙂


The Office Spider

Its quite hot in the Bay Area lately and for some reason the office is pretty warm despite the AC. I felt the need for an unlined cotton dress for the office.

I found this barcode stripe stretchy cotton in my stash, and Ive had burdastyle’s sheath dress 2016/10 #105 printed out for a while. Decided the stripes + different pattern pieces would create some interesting visual effect. I was very aware that with a normal stripe (nota. Barcode one) the visual will be more consistent and better, but I m in destashing mode and didnt have any other better stripes in my stash.

I printed out the pattern @91% as usual and the pattern fit super well! I made no alteration. I didnt cut the front pieces on grain in order to achieve the spider-y pattern, but it seems to do fine and didnt have any weird sags. It was impossible to get every single line on the barcode stripe to match, I did as best as I could… trying to match the dark line here and there. I think it turned out good despite the chaotic lines.

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I cant wait to re-make this in normal stripes! There re several other stripe placements that would look great 🙂 Or maybe color block too! I love wearing this one to the office, comfortable and flattering 🙂 Oh and the name is because it looks like a spider web… not because I have spy everywhere in the office ^_^ (for all you game of throne watchers, tomorrow!!!!!)


Flirty Little Thing

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I made this little number, inspires by this dress. This is actually version number 2, as a result, I was a little short on fabric towards the end and decided to leave the dress unhemmed and a bit short. Luckily there was just enough fabric to make a teeny pair of shorts that I wear underneath as a boomer 🙂

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The top part is drafted from a basic 4-dart bodice piece. The rest are all pretty much gathered together with a gathering feet. This was made on the Juki machine and I had a lot of fun making it. The fabric is a pretty stiff cotton quilt-y fabric, and I think for what I wanted originally a rayon challis would be better. But I couldn’t find any tiny flowered blue rayon fabric.

I really like how it turned out. I wore it for a whole 3 days before letting it go in a wash! Normally I do not go around with a short dress like this, but the boomer solution made a huge change (its in fact longer than most shorts I wear out). I love how twirly this is, and its perfect for hot hot weathers when you dont want a bra on.

 

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The Tale of Three Machines

(A compare between Brother SE400, Janome HD3000, Juki TL 2010Q, from a garment sewer’s personal experience)

Although I love vintage sewing machines, I mainly sew on modern sewing machines – it just gets the job done without any fuss.  The past year I’ve had the chance to sew with three modern sewing machines and I want to share some of my thoughts on them in case it helps another person with their shopping.

Brother SE400 ($299)

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Brother-SE400 is an embroidery machine. Since I’ve gotten it as a present from Hubby back in 2014(???), I’ve used it quite non-stop. It is packed with functionalities that I really enjoyed.

Pro:

  • different button hole and eyelet maker is essential for my garment sewing
  • The embroidery part is really great – there are some existing patterns, and you can also use free software out there to design your own (a bit time consuming but worth it if its a pattern you will use often)
  • Thread cutter – you know when you do some sewing and stop, you have to pull the threads out, cut it, and them make sure the needle position is such that the thread wont escape the needle when you start sewing next? well, with this thread cutting feature – they do both for you automatically. This really saves me SO much frustrations and makes my experience so wonderful
  • speed adjustment – This machine has speed adjustment so you can cap the speed of the sewing machine. Normally I would not care for this feature because I am good at adjusting the speed with the pedal, but when little K started sewing I use this to make sure it never goes too fast and stab her little hands. Its really quite essential for her!

Con:

  • This might be associated with any kind of computerized sewing machines – but with computerized machines there are just more points of failure. My feeddog broke after a few years of usage – and its the computerized control to the feeddog that broke (I debug processor chips for a living and had a bit of fun trying to characterize this failure). Technically I should just buy a new machine to replace it (the price dropped from $500 to $300 in a few years), but I felt really emotionally attached to this one, and end up spending $130 and a few trips to my local brothers dealer to have it fixed. Its been working well for me since – but the few weeks when I didnt have a stable machine to sew on was quite painful – I broke down and bought my Janome HD-3000 eventually to tide me over).
  • Also this will be an issue for many computerized sewing machines – everytime you turn off the machine, it will reset back to the default stitch. So if you are half way through the project you need to remember what length you were on before. Though there are ways to set a default you prefer.

Janome HD3000 $430

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I bought this mechanical sewing machine after I didnt sew for a few weeks due to the broken Brother machine. Hubby did a lot of research and recommended this one, so did my local sewing friend B. The cheap part of me cried a little because if you take a look at the features, the equivalent brother or singer counter part cost  much, much less.

However, I did have a old mechanical brother sewing machine when I first started sewing, and it broke on me after a year. I wanted something very high quality – Janome had really good reviews.

PRo:

  • Its form factor is really smartly designed. All the feets have housing area on top of the machine, there’s no separate box you need to keep around to keep all the feets – I really like that.  The spool of threads also sit below the top lid  – so there’s no spool poking out on the top during sewing or storage. This is important to me because my brother sewing machine’s thread spool thingy snapped when I accidentally put pressure on it when moving it about.
  • Its feet is interchangeable with the brother sewing machine
  • It does feel quite sturdy and I suspect this will last me quite a long time even with the extensive sewing I do.

Con:

  • more unbalanced feeddog: usually when you are sewing, the bottom fabric gets pulled more than the top, because the feeddog is at the bottom. This is usually more noticeable when you sew a long seam, such as when quilting. To solve this people usually use a walking feet. I’ve noticed that this machine pulls the bottom fabric much more than the brother, maybe because its heavy weight. Its such that I can see the difference when doing apparel sewing – during which you cant always use a walking feet.
  • its a little more noisy and a little unbalanced: its a heavy weight machine, but for the price I was expecting the engine to purr and not shake my table. Unfortunately it actually is a little noisier and more vibration than my brother SE400. Granted, the brother sewing machine is not considered a heavy weight machine.
  • No advanced features such as thread cutter, and speed adjustment.
  • Button hole making with a non-computerized machine is just not the same – you have to do it in 4 steps and it doesnt come out that well.

To be honest, for the price I was a little disappointed in the hardware, its a sturdy little machine but I thought the “feel” would be more highend. I was also working on my trench coat at that time and definitely was missing some of the eyelet and button hole features.

Juki TL-2010Q ($1000)

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Now I would never really spent $1K on a machine. But a local sewing friend B scored this on craigslist for cheap and let me borrow it for a month. It was like sewing with butter.

Pro:

  • smooth and no vibration at all. It just makes sewing so joyous
  • It has a thread cutter/trimmer which trims the thread very short and neat – I dont have to go back and trim the thread most of the time. Please the thread never escapes the needle
  • It’s extremely heavy weight – the first thing I sewed is shortening some belts on there – about 3/4 of an inch of a material – I dropped the feeddog to cramp the fabic in but the machine sewed well!

Con:

  • The feets are not interchangeable with my Brother or Janome machines
  • threading is not very standard – I have to watch youtube videos/read manual to figure it out.
  • It only has straight stitch – no zigzag even, and lets not even think about button holes or eyelets! It is really truly made for a quilter.
  • it is heavy – I sometimes need help if I want to move it.
  • it is quite a lot pricier than the other two options!

1k is above my price point, though it looks like they have a similar machine Juki TL-2000Q, ($667) minus the speed control on amazon. And its 2/3 the price. If I were to buy another machine new, I’d probably try that one first.

 

After trying all three machines, I end up really appreciating all the functionality and price point of my Brother Embroidery. If I were to choose again that machine would be the one I choose despite the possible breakage; not because its the cheapest one, but because some of the stitches are essential for garment sewing. When I have my Brother and Janome around, I tend to default to the Brother, and I only let little K sew on my Brother because of the speed control.  Janome pretty much became my back up machine and the machine I go to if it happened to have the right colored thread. (or if I am doing color blocking and need multiple colored threads to sew).

However, when the Juki entered the room, I pretty much sew on Juki only until I need a different stitch or a different feet. It just feels so uplifting to sew on there.

So if I were to plan out my sewing machine purchases again, I’d get the Brother first – because its a need, and then a Juki as my straight stitcher & a reliable backup, as a want 🙂 Janome is a very nice machine with the best form factor, but I find it not as luxurious comparing to the Juki.

Lastly, for any beginners out there who just want to try out apparel sewing or hem stuff, a basic brothers computerized machine (this one, or this ) under $150 is what I always recommend to my friends. I am pretty sure I have “sold” about 5-6 of those to my friends!! I bought one of those after my very first Brother (a flea market find by my dad) broke, and it worked very well for years until I got the embroidery machine. I mailed it a very good friend and its still going strong!

Hopefully this post help someone out there with sewing machine decisions to make!!!

 

Note that I did use Amazon affiliate links above, so if you happen to want to buy one of the machines from Amazon because of my recommendations, using above link would enable me to start Amazon Affiliate program at no cost to you 🙂 Thank you!!!