THE KLEIN DRESS

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Well hello there! It's been quite a while since I posted here, hasn't it? All I can say is, summer taketh over. But I'm back with a new sewing post for you!

WHAT I'VE BEEN UP TO

Dennis and I had a great time in Maine. We ate plenty of lobster, went on a puffin-watch cruise, climbed lots of rock formations, visited lighthouses, ate Frosty's donuts, and thanks to the somewhat cool, overcast weather, I almost made it through vacation without stepping foot on a beach ... ALMOST.

 Popham Beach, Maine

Popham Beach, Maine

Before hitting the road, we stopped by Popham Beach. While I only lasted two hours, I have to say, it's a beach worth visiting. There's an island that you can walk to when the tide is out, and the scenery is pretty damn breathtaking. 

We also visited Halcyon Yarn in Bath, where I procured a sweater's quantity of Peace Fleece to knit a sweater for Dennis. YES! The husband sweater is finally happening. But more on that later. 

While I greatly enjoyed vacation, I'm happy to be back home, in my craft room, surrounded my my yarn, fabric, tools and supplies! (Honorable mentions: Air conditioning and WiFi!) 

THE DRESS

Since we returned home, I've been glued to my sewing machine and I have a new dress to show for it!

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I made the Klein dress, a pattern by the Calie Faye Collection on Etsy, using this gorgeous paisley-print cotton lawn fabric from Liberty of London (the same fabric I used to line the pockets of my Moss Skirt). I actually started sewing it before we left, but didn't have enough time to finish. #SuchIsLife

FYI: If I look exhausted in these photos, you're not mistaken. I'm functioning on very little sleep, thanks to a very needy and muchly missed kitty. πŸ±πŸ’• (Bella stayed at her favorite kitty hotel while we were away)

TANGENT: MY NEW CAMERA πŸ€“πŸ“Έ

And speaking of these photos, I finally got to play with my new camera. (which I'll probably write a separate blog post about at some point.) In case you missed me talking about it on the podcast (Yarngasm: Episode 282) , I saved-up for a fancy full-frame DSLR; the Canon EOS 6D Mark II (albeit gently used). You guys ... I am IN LOVE! I can't wait to take more photos of my makes with it! I used it on vacation, but to be honest, landscapes aren't my thing. I'm all about portraits. 

BACK TO THE DRESS

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Honestly, this pattern could not have been more well-written. There are only 4 pattern pieces, and the construction is super simple. (ATTN: Newbie sewists!!)  It would have been a breeze to whip-up ... had I made a muslin! (REALLY, Kristin. Will you ever learn??? Nope. πŸ˜‘) 

HERE'S WHAT WENT DOWN

It's not a form-fitting garment, so I said to heck with the muslin. It's supposed to be airy, flowy, with quite a bit of positive ease. So, I followed the finished measurement chart and opted for the size 4 β€” the same size as the model (who also happens to have similar measurements.) But, alas ... the size 4 was a TENT on me! 

Don't everybody freak out, just yet. It's better that it turned out too big, rather than too small. Thankfully, these things are an easy fix!

I was able to take-in the dress (about an inch on both sides) by sewing straight up the side seams. Although, it took several attempts, getting the waistline seams to align. On one side (pictured above) you can see it's still not perfectly aligned ... but after about eight tries, I was willing to accept that done is better than perfect. Plus, the pattern is so busy, it does a great job camouflaging the mistake. 

LET'S TALK ABOUT STRAPS

The pattern gives you options for adjustable or fitted straps. And while it recommends the fitted version for beginners, I think the adjustables are worth the extra steps (and swears). To be honest, it's probably about as much work as the non-adjustables, because getting the strap length "just right" can be pretty tedious. So, either way, you're not cutting any corners. (IMHO)

CLOSING THOUGHTS

After all was said in done, I am in love with this dress! ... and will most likely be living (and sleeping) in it for the rest of summer. I'll definitely be making another, in a size 2. 

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MEET MY SEWING MACHINE AND SERGER

 Where the sewing magic happens! (My sewing desk also doubles as a yarn winding station.)

Where the sewing magic happens! (My sewing desk also doubles as a yarn winding station.)

I'm often asked about what sewing machine and serger I use, so I thought I'd write a quick blog post about my sewing partners in crime. 

MY SEWING MACHINE

 Q: Why is there washi tape on your needle plate?   A: I use it to mark the seam allowance. It's optional, but it works as a helpful guide as I sew. (Plus, it's pretty!) You can also use painters' tape. 

Q: Why is there washi tape on your needle plate? 

A: I use it to mark the seam allowance. It's optional, but it works as a helpful guide as I sew. (Plus, it's pretty!) You can also use painters' tape. 

My sewing machine is a Janome New Home 2212. It came into my life about two years ago, when I was a total newbie sewist, and still love it to bits!

It's a simple machine that only makes adjustable straight and zigzag stitches β€” which is all you really need to sew a garment. It has no bells and whistles, except for making buttonholes. 

I think it's a great machine for sewists of any skill level, especially beginners! I love that it "grows" along with you, as you learn. It's easy to use, and very affordable IMHO. (I bought mine for $170 USD, at the time). So far, ::knock-on-wood:: it's held up very well! 

When you shop for a sewing machine, you're "supposed" to go to a dealer, and try out each machine until you find the one for you. I, on the other hand, did my research online ... as you do when you don't have a local dealer, are lazy, and have the patience of a five-year-old. (I really looove tempting fate, don't I? πŸ™ˆ) Thankfully, I lucked out with my choice. 

MY SERGER

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There's more than one way to finish a seam, but everyone "seems" πŸ™ƒ to have a favorite.

I personally love French seams, especially for more special projects. But more often than not, (because I'm a sucker for instant gratification) I'll just whip out my Brother Lock 1034D. It's quick, efficient, and gives the inside of garments that store-bought "ready-to-wear" look. 

This model was also surprisingly affordable, and worth every penny! 

I'm not going to lie, threading this bad boy is not fun. It's actually like playing that 80s game "Operation" where a red-nosed cartoon character lies, exposed in horror, on an operating table while you use tweezers to extract objects from holes in his body. If your tweezers touch the edges of the hole, a buzzer goes off and you lose your turn. (Fun trip down memory lane, huh?)

Like the game, when threading a serger, you need to use tweezers to pull threads through specific hooks and holes. If you thread something the wrong way ... you need to start all over! πŸ€¦πŸ»β€β™€οΈ Of course, the more you practice threading it, the easier it gets. And once it's threaded, it's a dream to use!

CreativeBug.com has a great tutorial for threading a serger. Check it out! I'm sure you can also search YouTube for an equally helpful video. 

I do recommend learning about "differential feed", to make sure your serged edges lie nice and flat.

Β 

CONCLUSION: 

Again, if you're new to sewing, these are great machines! I love them to death and don't see myself upgrading to anything else in the near future. Still, your mileage may vary. If you can, it's always a good idea to try before you buy. 

It's also worth mentioning that a serger is absolutely not necessary, especially if you're just dipping your toes into sewing. Pinking shears or a simple zigzag stitch will also give you pretty finished seams!

Psst! A while back, I published a quick video about my sewing machine. Check it out if you want to learn more tips for getting started with sewing. 😘

MOSS SKIRT

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This sparkly number is the Moss Skirt by Grainline Studio. It's a simple, front-zip mini with pocketses. (Because pocketses are the best!)

I haven't blogged about it in detail yet, but I'm on a mission to create a summery capsule wardrobe for myself. This includes a simple, denim skirt to go with everything, and the Moss skirt seemed to tick all the boxes! 

OK, so I wouldn't consider this version an "every day" garment. But when sparkle chambray fabric comes into your life ... can you blame me for making something less practical? (Who am I kidding? Sparkles are ALWAYS practical!)

SIZING AND MEASUREMENTS:

For those wanting to know the mathy bits ... The skirt's waistband is designed to sit 2" below the natural waist. My waist is 26" and 37" hips (the fullest part, around my butt).  So I cut out pieces for the size 2 waist (30") trued up to the size 4 hips (38"). The finished measurements gave me about 1" positive ease all around the hip area, which was perfect! 

THINGS I LEARNED:

This was my first foray into sewing fly facings, fly shields, and bar tacks. Sounds crazy difficult, but believe me when I say it was stupid easy. I may have had to reread the directions a few times to get the gist (maybe even examine my own fly zip to see what it's supposed to look like.), but one step at a time, y'all! The directions were a piece of cake to follow. 

I also tempted fate by not making a muslin, but I have more faith in indie sewing patterns than the "Big Five" pattern companies when it comes to sizing. 

PROBLEMS:

I did run into an issue with the waistband. Either I didn't cut out or sew the back yoke pieces correctly and ended up with extra fabric there. I realized this when the waistband piece wouldn't pin correctly around the top of the skirt.

So, I popped it on Margot the Mannequin and pinned-out a triangle of extra fabric from where the yoke pieces were seamed together. And that did the trick!

Still, my waistband skills need improvement. The inside is a little slap-dash, and I'm not sure what went wrong, but meh. I'm not going to fuss over it. 

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FANCY DETAILS:

Speaking of garment innards (one of my favorite parts of sewing!), I added a touch of Liberty fabric for the pocket linings. Fancy!

I know no one is going to see it, but I know it's there, and it makes me feel just a little extra special. βœ¨πŸ¦„

CONCLUSION: 

I LOVE this skirt!! (Probably as much as Oprah loves bread.) The lines are super flattering and it fits like a glove. I'm so happy with the way it turned out β€” and relieved! ... given that I didn't make a muslin.

Even though Mr. Seam-ripper had to make a few appearances, it was still a fun and quick sew ... about five or six hours, total. 

I debated adding back pockets, but since it's more of a "dressy" fabric, I decided to save that hack for a more casual version. But I can totally get away with dressing it down with a casual Tee and sandals. Because sparkles make everything better! Right? 

Photos Β© Kristin Lehrer. I also used this as an opportunity to play around with some new Lightroom presets. I took these photos using my Canon Rebel EOS T5i / 35mm lens.