Katie’s Vintage Inspired Wedding Dress

This summer I had the pleasure of making Katie’s wedding dress. I don’t do a lot of custom sewing these days and I generally avoid wedding dresses because drama, stress, and drama. But I made an exception for Katie and I’m so very glad I did. My step-mom is friends with Katie’s mom. My step-mom told me that the daughter of a friend was a lovely, laid-back woman who was planning a small garden wedding and wanted to use part of her grandmother’s wedding dress to elevate a ready-to-wear dress she had already purchased. She wanted a dress that had a bit of vintage flair that would flatter her tall frame. How could I say no? We were working on a pretty short timescale (less than 2 months!) so I didn’t have time to construct a whole dress. Fortunately, Katie had found a ready-to-wear dress that fit her. It was …


Folkwear Afghan Nomad Dress

This dress needed to be sewn. I don’t know why. I have so much plenty of other fabric calling my name. I have a giant list of sewing projects that range from very necessary (it would be really nice to have more than 2 long sleeve shirts now that cold weather is here) to completely impractical (though I actually take offense at myself for saying this because I do wear every weird thing I sew so therefore it’s not really impractical is it? I digress). This was not on my list. Until I woke up one morning and needed to make it. I don’t actually know why but it had to happen. So this dress is what I sewed over the last couple of weeks. The pattern is Afghani Nomad Dress (now called Afghan Nomad Dress to be in keeping with modern terminology) from Folkwear patterns and oddly enough I’ve …


Simple Summer Linen Dress

Isn’t it delightful when a few different long-percolating ideas can come together? I’ve had this lovely embroidered linen in my stash for a bit. It was a gift from a friend who bought it for me at Mood when she was in New York last year (or the year before?). She was texting me photos while she was there and I thought it was just to share the excitement but much to my delight one of the cuts of fabric made it my way! I knew that it needed to be a simple garment since pattern matching was not going to be possible given the irregularity of the embroidery and the amount of fabric I had. After releasing my Ultraviolet Tee I brainstormed a list of ways I could hack the pattern and turning it into a dress was definitely on the list. I browsed through my wall of fabric …


VintagePledge July Dress (Butterick 3068)

To celebrate #VPJuly, I sewed a 1970’s dress (Vintage Butterick 3068) from 1970’s fabric.  To read about the pattern and the vintage aspects of the dress, pop on over to A Stitching Odyssey. (And while you’re there, look at the other inspiring vintage makes she has gathered over the course of the month!) Here, I thought I’d a personal account about why I chose the fabric and pattern. I agonized about whether or not to use this fabric. You see, I totally adore this floral fabric. Like massive #fabriccrush. It’s vintage (from a stash I inherited from a friend who inherited from an elderly friend who probably bought it new back in the day) and the flowers are a combination  of printed onto the thick, loose-weave linen and then painted on top of the print. And it seemed like it would be perfect for the bodice of this dress. So why not use …


Some Jersey Knit Maternity Clothes

When I ordered my latest assortment of fabric from Minerva Crafts, I had visions of assembly-line sewing an assortment of loose fitting raglan tees – fast and easy to sew, easily wearable post-pregnancy, but still with a bit of fun since I could make the sleeves contrast the bodies. As you see, I followed none of my plans. It turns out that my body (especially my belly) is changing size and shape faster than I imagined (I didn’t really know what to expect. I’ve never done this whole pregnancy thing before!) and if I wanted to get at least a few months of wear out of what I sewed, then my original plan wasn’t going to work. So I made 3 completely unrelated garments (because I never can do things the easy way). We’ll start with this dress which is a success in my book. The main fabric is a lovely …


Striped Shift, Striped Shorts, New Glasses (and Glasses Coupon)!

Last week, Adam and I spent a week in Hawaii on a babymoon (i.e. a vacation before baby arrives). We took advantage of a gap in Adam’s work schedule and used a bunch of airline miles and hotel points so that we could have a relaxing escape together now that I’m feeling a bit better. Apparently we weren’t the only ones with such a great idea, as it seemed like every third woman at our hotel was pregnant! While I was able to raid most of what I wore from my mom’s closet (thanks mom!), no vacation would be a true vacation without some frantic last minute sewing for it, right? I grabbed some purple striped cotton-blend from my stash and whipped up a little shift dress and a pair of shorts. I sewed a Staple Dress by April Rhodes since my Baseball Staple Dress is the only woven garment in my …


Red and White Stripe 80’s Dress (that’s surprisingly au courant)

When Minerva Crafts sent me this gorgeous red and white stripe knit I knew I was going to do something with it, since it was exactly the shade of red that I adore and a great stretchy knit. However, I had a giant list of ideas and couldn’t settle on any of them. I thought of making some super basic tees in no-, short-, and long-sleeves because I could really use some wardrobe staples. And then I thought of finally making a Drape Drape garment that would show off the stripes to their full advantage. And then I thought of a pattern that I’m currently working on, but it’s not far along enough that I’m ready to offer sneak peaks. And somehow I settled on a vintage dress pattern from 1981. I willingly chose to make a 1980’s dress even when faced with a plethora of other ideas. Never would …


Pink Elephant Bonnel Dress

I adore this almost-finished dress, but it’s going to have to spend a bit of time in the naughty corner of my sewing room before I actually wear it. This dress is the Dixie DIY‘s most recent pattern, the Bonnel Dress, that I sewed out of some adorable pink elephant print cotton that I bought in Thailand. “Why the naughty corner? And why are you showing it to us now?” you might ask? I’m showing you my dress now because I’m helping to spread the love about the Sewing Indie Month Pattern Bundle 1 that’s for sale now until Wednesday, August 12th. It’s a bundle of patterns from independent sewing pattern designers. Including Dixie DIY,  Waffle Patterns, Jennifer Lauren Vintage Patterns, Muse Patterns, Sew House Seven, Blueprints for Sewing, Seamster Sewing Patterns, Lolita Patterns, True Bias, and Sew Over It. An awesome selection of patterns by an awesome selection of designers! Act fast since this awesome bundle doesn’t last …


Pink Anchor Dress I Will Never Wear

I guess the title kinda gives away the punchline, no? I do adore the dress in the photo above. But before I zoom in on its faults, let me step back a bit and tell you why I sewed this dress. Everyone has their least favorite tasks when sewing. Many people complain about cutting fabric, which I actually happen to love. My least favorite part of sewing is fitting. I do not have a straight-from-the-envelope body which is one of the major reasons I started sewing, so I spend a fair bit of time fitting every new pattern that I sew. I also tend to sew a pattern once and, even if I love it, never get around to a next time. Well, recently I had this revelation that if I sewed a pattern more than once, I wouldn’t have to spend time fitting it on any future versions. Duh! …


Happy Hippo Dress

I know that just about every time I sew a new dress I go on about how it’s my favorite. And I totally recognize that the sillier the fabric I use for the dress is, the more I rave about how it’s going to be a wardrobe staple (e.g. my Farm Animals dress, Southwest Eyeblinder dress, or Baseball Staple dress). And, recognizing my behavior patterns, I’m going to repeat them. Because OMG look at this dress! It’s my new favorite thing and I’m going to wear it all the time!! For serious! So where do I find all this amazing/ridiculous/awesome fabric? The thrift store. All of those amazing/ridiculous/awesome dresses were sewn from fabric I bought at the thrift store, most from Granny’s Attic, the thrift store on my island. When I lived in San Francisco I didn’t have nearly such good luck finding awesome fabrics at thrift stores because everything was …


Purple Wool Jersey Vintage Simplicity 6934

This luscious fabric, given to me by Minerva Crafts, is a wool blend jersey. I originally had visions of making the world’s comfiest harem pants (Don’t laugh! Every other tourist was wearing them on our trip in SE Asia and they got into my psyche. Okay, go ahead and laugh.) to wear around the house, but the fabric was just too nice to never be worn in public. Then I had visions of a wrap dress, but I hemmed and hawed about buying a pattern or drafting one and I’ve always felt that wrap dresses were hit or miss on me. So finally I ended up on a vintage Simplicity pattern from my stash – Simplicity 6934 from 1975. The pattern is written for wovens, but I knew that it would look lovely in a knit. The only thing that gets lost in the knit is the slight gathers above …


Spring for Cotton Farm Animals Dress

When some people think of spring, they think of budding flowers, or sunshine, or lengthening days. Nothing says spring to me like baby farm animals. Now that we live in a rural area, I find myself squealing when I drive past a neighbor’s yard full of baby sheep and goats (much to Adam’s dismay). I even took a chick-raising class at the hardware store (although actually getting chicks is going to have to wait until we have a home of our own!). For the Spring for Cotton sewalong, I knew that I was going to have to sew a dress form this amazing/ridiculous farm animal print cotton that I found at the thrift store recently. I used vintage Butterick 4309 from 1966. A fairly basic shift dress I had in my pattern stash, but I was drawn to the oversized asymmetrical collar and contrasting yoke. And even better, the dress has pockets! It’s a kangaroo …


Southwest Eyeblinder Dress

Occasions often inspire my sewing, and there’s no occasion quite like traveling to Borrego Springs, in the middle of the Anza Borego Desert, in SoCal, to visit my mom for a week. I love visiting the desert and I will admit to some slight disappointment when I arrived in the middle of the worst week of weather they’ve had all year! Fortunately, it warmed up by the end of the week and I got to wear my new dress. Of course I had a great time visiting my mom, regardless of weather. Just for the occasion, I sewed Vintage Simplicity pattern 6926, from 1976 (so it’s another Vintage Sewing Pledge). I bought the pattern this winter in New Zealand and happened to find the ridiculous/perfect cotton fabric at the thrift store two weeks ago. It’s so bright and patterned that it’s a little harsh on the eyes, which is exactly what …


Baseball is a Summer Staple Dress

When we first arrived in our summer home, of course I got my sewing machine set up right away. But, despite (or perhaps because) of the giant list of things I have to sew this summer, all I wanted to do was whip up something silly and easy. Certainly influenced by the very summery weather (that I’m not actually used to after 7 years of San Francisco summers), I wanted a sundress. And, despite the fact that I kept out many nice cottons that would have done very well, I got it in my head that I absolutely had to turn this ridiculous 1980’s baseball print that I had found at a thrift store forever ago into a dress. Since I didn’t have much of this print, the dress was going to have to be something without a lot of volume. I ended up choosing the Staple Dress by April …


Pink Sequin Lace Shift Dress

Pink and lace and sequins, oh my! When told to make a fancy dress, lace seems appropriate. Sequins are also appropriate. And in my mind, pink is appropriate for every occasion. So when I found this delicious fabric that combined all three, it obviously needed to become a fancy dress! I underlined the dress with silk habotai (the lining that Minerva included with the kit was a bit heavier than I had in mind) so oh boy does it feel dreamy to wear. I bound all of the seams and the neck in the same habotai. I opted to leave the sleeves unlined for a little bit of sex appeal, but it’s quite subtle as the pink underlining isn’t too far away in color from my pink skin! Yes, my choice of vintage McCalls 9575 dress pattern was heavily influenced by Heather Lou’s lovely sequin shift. Fortunately, my sequins were much, much easier …


Dinosaur Dress

I would like to induce you to my new favorite dress (Yes, I probably say that a lot. But in terms of how much this dress is getting worn, it is a true winner). It is an empire waist maxi dress in bright dinosaur print jersey. Yes. All of those things that I love. Empire waist. Maxi dress. Bright. Jersey. DINSOAURS!!! The pattern is Simplicity 1804. Quick and easy to sew. Flattering. Comfy. Nothing remarkable about the pattern but it’s great for what it is – a versatile knit dress pattern. (Oona also just blogged a pretty version of this dress if you want to see it on a different body and with fewer dinosaurs, although why you would want to see fewer dinosaurs, I don’t know.) The fabric was given to me by Minerva Crafts as part of their blogger network and the supplies are available from them as a kit. I do …


My Ph.D. Dress

I did it. It’s done. I finished my doctorate. On Friday I gave my exit talk so I am now officially SeamstressErin Ph.D. After 7 long years, I can shout to the world that I am doctor! I have worked long and hard and am shouting to the rooftops my accomplishment because I am so dang proud of myself. I want to take the chance to reflect a bit on my journey and, of course, share the dress that I made for the occasion. In the sweet words of my fiance, “Who else do you know who both: 1) has a PHD in molecular biology, 2) gave her exit talk in a dress she made the night before?” I’ve grown in so many ways over the last 7 years. Of course I’ve developed as an academic and a scientist. Graduate school is not easy for anyone. I had a particularly …


Pink and Green and Floral and Sexy Ceylon

The sexiest attribute that I can imagine? Self confidence. Forget body shape, size, height, musculature, eyes, lips, whatever. If I can see that someone feels confident in their own skin, I am attracted to them. This dress is my Sew Sexy Sewalong dress because I feel hot in it therefore I am hot in it. While such a modest dress may not be what most people think when they think “sexy”, and honestly, it’s totally not on my first train of thought either, this dress makes me feel so good! The shape is great at highlighting my attributes (defined waist, slender neck),  minimizing my not-as-strong points (hips), and giving the illusion of other strong points (bust gathers FTW). And have I mentioned that it’s a pink and green floral print dress! I love pink! I love pink and green! I love floral print! I love dresses! (Enough with all of …


Refashioned Wedding Dress turned Cocktail Dress

This saucy little cocktail dress was once Ellen’s wedding dress. Can you believe it? Together we cut and pasted and dipped and dyed and gave her dress a brand new life. While chopping apart your wedding dress isn’t for the faint of heart or the even the heartily sentimental, Ellen was thrilled about the project because it meant that she would get to wear her dress over and over again. Ellen’s wedding dress was a mermaid style dress where the top was fitted until mid-thigh and the full bottom was a separate piece gathered and sewn along the bottom. This made it an ideal dress for turning into a cocktail dress since it required no reshaping and very little reconstruction. We started by ripping off the bottom gathered layer. (You can see that Tig immediately claimed the pile of fabric as her own. I eventually stole some back to be …


Plantain Maxi Dress with Braided Collars

I’ve never been one to gracefully back down from a challenge. I’m stubborn. Really stubborn. I come by it honestly from both sides of my family. My Great Grandma Roseada and my Grandma Jimee were probably two of the most stubborn women to ever grace this planet. (And oh my goodness my someday children are going to be stubborn nightmares as well because Adam’s Grandma Sheila gives them a stubborn run for their money!). When Deer & Doe released their free plantain tee, I thought “oh that’s nice” and made a tee-shirt with slightly unusual distressed binding and moved on with my sewing life. But somewhere in the back of my head the “Plantain Challenge” kept repeating. Challenge. The challenge issued was to create a unique version of the Plantain. And since I can’t back down from a challenge, this dress is what I came up with. It really is just …


1959 Bow Neck Thanksgiving Dress

Well, I’m a day late to my own party with this dress. But I think I have a pretty good reason. You see, I sat down to write this post, showing pictures of my Bow Neck Thanksgiving Dress (for my final contribution to my Bow Neck Blouse Sewalong), on the day after Thanksgiving. I found a quiet corner amidst the chaos of a house very full of family.  And then Adam asked if he and I could get a bit of alone time together, maybe go out for a cup of tea, because I had been in the kitchen cooking for two days straight (one day to bake 5 pies, one day to cook our Thanksgiving meal), and he thought a spot of fresh air away from the chaos would be good for both of us. Apparently, the offer of tea was just a ploy, as he took me to …


Lolita Patterns Gunmetal Dress [Giveaway Closed]

I was honored when Lolita patterns asked me to make a version of their new dress, Gunmetal. I thought it would be an interesting challenge because their patterns, as shown on their envelopes, really aren’t my style. I’m not into gothic, I’m not into super-feminine, and I feel silly wearing most ruffles. But, underneath the styling, lies a nice pattern that can be made simply for a great, casual, comfy, everyday dress. I made a lot of changes to the pattern, but they are all simple things that anyone can do. I rounded up to the nearest size (as they recommend) and found that it gave me a good fit through the bust and shoulders but I had to take a LOT in from the waist to make it fit me nicely (my waist is several inches smaller than their block, which was clear from the pattern envelope, so I …


Paisley Pashmina Anna Maxi Dress

This is my first/second Anna dress from By Hand London and I think I may be even more in love with it than the second/first. The second/first was silk, and lined, and hemmed by hand and took forever and I feel so elegant in it. And this second/first Anna fabric came from the super sale table, is an unknown fiber, and looks like a grandmother’s pashmina scarf. But I can actually wear it on a daily basis, and I know I’m going to! I wore it for the first time last weekend for a trip to Guernville, CA. We took part in a lovely gathering of folks to celebrate our friend’s 40th birthday, staying in a set of cabins “downtown”. It was a block from Johnson’s beach, where we took these photos, a couple blocks from a cute town center, and a quick drive to the redwoods where we went …


Silk Floral Print Anna Dress

I sewed the Anna dress from By Hand London out of a lightweight silk to wear to a girlfriend’s wedding this weekend. It consumed my every free moment last week since I didn’t leave nearly enough time to sew it (since I had a stomach bug on the weekend I had planned on doing most of the work.) But I got it done, and I adore the result! To make sure that the dress would work before I cut out my silk, I sewed the same version of the dress out of a cheaper fabric first, but that version is currently only basted together because, as soon as I saw that it fit and I liked it, I switched to the silk dress. (I will finish it soon). I originally had other ideas for what to wear to this wedding, but the more versions of this dress I’ve seen pop …


Mom’s Maxi Summer Hippy Dress

I sewed my mom a sundress for Christmas. Yes, kind of a silly thing to do for someone who lives in Seattle since it was months before she could wear it. But I had the fabric and the pattern and the vision and it was a fun project to make me dream of sunshine midwinter. And now she’s finally wearing it (and wearing it a lot!) so I can share it. I drafted the pattern myself, making it similar to a RTW dress that she already had and liked. The fabric is a cotton/rayon  batik print that was a gift from a friend (and a stashbuster!). It has princess seams and front and side facings with a smocked back, although the drape of the fabric and the busy-ness of the print hide the construction. The dress gaps a bit in the back now since my mom has lost 20 pounds …

Grainline Archer Shirt-Dress

Another Monday, another Archer. I sewed this out of a heavy rayon challis in forest green that was a gift and in my stash. The fact that it looks a whole lot like the shirt on the pattern envelope was something that escaped me until writing up this blog post. I decided to add 9″ to the pattern so that it could be a dress.


Mad Men Joan Dress

I’ve made my Mad Men Challenge Dress. Phew. I used Gertie’s Wiggle Dress as the pattern with only minor fit changes (changed the hip shape and added 1/2 inch to the front at the shoulder). The pattern uses dolman sleeves with an armpit gusset for fit. I didn’t get the shoulders fit perfectly as mine are much stronger than the pattern intends, but I’ve got some ideas about how to make the fit perfect next time.


1942 Hollywood Patterns Shirtwaist Dress

I now present to you my 1940’s dress for Sew for Victory. It’s from Hollywood Patterns (No. 855), from May 1942, endorsed by Betty Grable of 20th Century Fox. Honestly, I’m not that enamored with this dress. I was talked into the fabric, a quilting cotton, by a woman at the fabric store but I really should have stuck to my guns and gone to another store to find a nice rayon. When I first envisioned this dress, I wanted it to be something I could wear to seduce Sam Spade. I feel like it ends up making me look like I should be out back mucking out a chicken coop. I settled on working for the war effort as a compromise.


Cake’s Tiramisu Dress

I think Cake’s Tiramisu dress pattern is great. It’s a wonderful blend of fun and flirty and functional. The construction instructions are clear and the sizing allows for fit on many different bodies. Unfortunately, I just don’t like how it looks on my body. I had misgivings when planning the dress but I so badly wanted it to be cute on me like it is on so many women that I went ahead and sewed it. I finished the dress and, just as I thought, it looks good on every body type but pear, and I happen to be a pear. Oh well.


Roses on Black Shirtwaist Dress

I made this vintage-style shirtwaist dress form Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing. Like my bow-neck blouse from the same book (and made from the same stashed cotton-rayon blend fabric, incidentally), I thought I didn’t like it as I was finishing it up. However, I find myself having worn the dress several times already, so, fortunately, my initial opinion has been proven wrong!