My most worn handmade garments

If you set a resolution for 2017 to build/expand your handmade wardrobe, this list is for you!

With almost 3 years (!!) of sewing garments under my belt, I thought it would be a good time to reflect on my most-worn, most-loved patterns. I have learned a lot along this journey. While some garments were fun to construct [or maybe not so fun], they may not have turned out to be as loved in a day-to-day way.

My goal with this list is to provide you a few pattern recommendations that will surely be worth your time!

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Disclaimer: The list is purely subjective and recalled from memory; not from actual daily tallies of use [but wouldn’t that be a fun experiment?!].

Being that I have avoided adding closures of any kind to a garment thus far {no zippers, no buttons, no problem!}, I would say that all of these patterns are beginner-friendly.

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Along this journey to build my handmade wardrobe, I have discovered “my style.” It’s eclectic {code word for: comfortably weird}.

My style moves on a continuum between dressing like a tween to dressing like a 90-year-old. To be honest: it’s not much a continuum – I mostly cling to one end or the other without much that fits in between. But I think that’s the beauty of sewing your own clothes: You have the freedom to choose exactly how you want your garment to look. You want a dress to match your dachshund? Girl Charlee’s got you covered. Need bright green leggings to make spin class more appealing? Imagine Gnats has you covered.

You’ll see both extremes of my style throughout the list below. I can’t promise my style is in style, but it’s mine. And I’m embracing it 🙂

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Handmade Garments I wore most in 2016

TRANSITION PIECES

Below are pieces that easily transitioned from season to season [aka: just-add-leggings]. 

Sew Caroline’s Out and About Dress | pattern

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The 3 Out & About Dresses I’ve made so far – from L to R: version 3, 1, and 2.

This was the very first pattern I sewed {first dress ever} and it has remained my very favorite! I even turned it into a shirt once.

The dress transitions perfectly to fall with a few layers – just add leggings, boots, a sweater and your favorite scarf!

out-and-about-dress-2

During the cooler weather, I wear my long-sleeved version almost every week.

I just ordered some dark gray ponte de roma fabric from imagine gnats that I’m hoping to turn into my 4th Out & About Dress – stay tuned!

{Read all about version 1 & 2 here and version 3 here.}

Sew Caroline’s Tank Dress | pattern

tank-dress-2

When this pattern was first released, I didn’t think I’d jump on that bandwagon. I thought the hemline was “too trendy” {I’ve already confessed my inner 90-year-old}, BUT I love it. It’s actually really easy to construct since it can be made with a woven [non-stretchy] fabric.

My second version [pictured here] is my most-worn because: I raised the elastic casing on the back of the dress about 2 inches [I think]. I’m petite which often requires altering (usually raising the waistline in dresses works for me). In my first version {mentioned in this post}, I was having some bunching in the back above the elastic because it was sliding up to my waist. It was such a simple alteration that completely changed the comfort and fit of the dress for me.

I wear this dress to work with a simple black cardigan and platforms in the summer and transition to fall/winter by adding leggings and boots. I love the versatility of the dress – easy to layer from season to season.

Fancy Tiger Craft’s Fen Dress

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My first version of the Fen Dress [pictured here] is my favorite.

{Read all about both of my Fen Dresses in this post and see my 1st Fen Dress in action in this post.}

Shwin Designs’ Day Tripper Top | pattern

day-tripper-top

I got this pattern a long time ago as part of the Pattern Anthology “Just Add Jeans” collection. Embarrassingly, it’s the only pattern I’ve sewn from the collection so far.

For my version, I accidentally omitted the shoulder tabs and waist band which shortened the top (perfect length for petite frame FYI).

{Read all about my Day Tripper Top in this post and see it in action herehere and here on Thanksgiving.}

 

SUMMER

Sew Caroline’s Magnolia Shorts | pattern

magnolia-shorts

These shorts got some serious wear this summer. In past summers I have lived in my black Patagonia elastic waist shorts. The fabric is great for the heat (light and quick-drying/nearly-sweat-proof). While I love them so much, they make me look like a soccer mom (but not the kind that dresses up to sit on the sidelines. I’m the soccer mom wearing big sunglasses trying to hide the fact that she’s napping in her bag chair).

The Magnolia Shorts helped my summer wardrobe appear slightly more pulled together. I used a crepe fabric that had been donated to my stash from someone’s attic. The fabric was perfect for the shorts – drapey and breezy. It made my version morph into a skirt visually {thus, taking my wardrobe up 10 notches}.

{Read all about my Magnolia shorts in this post and see them in action in this post and here on Instagram.}

*PS: If you’re looking for shorts with pockets, check out the Parkside Shorts {read all about mine here}! I made 2 pairs – you can see the second pair in action at the bottom of this post.

My Refashioned Housedress

housedress_before after

This was one of the quickest, easiest projects so far. It was an easy-breezy hack-and-hem into the most comfortable dress ever saved from a landfill.

{Read all about the project in this post. I’m feeling inspired for more refashions – hopefully I’ll find some fun ones for 2017!}

 

WINTER

Blank Slate Pattern’s Tulip Top | pattern

leopard tulip top

I found 2 versions of the Tulip Top particularly inspiring: Sewbon {I love the textured knit and really like how she lengthened it and omitted the sleeve cuffs & neckband for a whole new look} & Sew Charleston {I loved the short-sleeve hack – we’re both in the always-hot-state-of-SC so short-sleeves get a lot of wear}. I actually copied Sew Charleston’s short-sleeved hack in this version, but unfortunately this version hasn’t been worn as much as it should be.

Fun note about the Tulip Top – it was just re-released with a cross-over back option.

Also: I was recently shopping for my adorably preggo sister at Motherhood Maternity and saw a nursing top (similar) that made me think this pattern might be a fun modification for maternity (cross-over in the back) and nursing (cross-over in the front). I’d love to say I’m going to make one for my sister, but my sewing list is so long my nephew might be walking by then!

{Read more about my leopard print Tulip Top in this post.}

I hope this post has inspired you and given you fresh ideas to build your handmade wardrobe. I’d love to hear what’s on your “to make” list for 2017 – share in the comments below!

Fancy Tiger Crafts’ Fen Dress 1 and 2

I made the Fen Dress quite a while ago, but have been lazy about blogging it (so sorry!). It’s quickly becoming a favorite go-to pattern. So far I’ve made two and have plans for a few more.

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The Pattern

I picked up a printed copy of the pattern when we detoured to Finch Knitting & Sewing Studio in Leesburg, Virginia on the way home from our Boston road trip.

fen-dress-pattern

The pattern is really easy to follow. It was the first time I have followed a Fancy Tiger Crafts pattern and I really liked it!

You can order the printed pattern from Fancy Tiger Crafts here.

Version 1

I made View B (dress) with a round neckline in woven fabric. I chose the slight drop hem (ever-so-slightly longer in the rear). I skipped the optional sleeves, but may try those for a fall/winter version later.

fen-dress-1a

Favorite Features

The pockets are amazing! They are at the perfect height and really easy to access. I don’t typically use pockets to carry things (other than lip balm), but I love using them for their original intention: to store my hands when they are wondering where to go in awkward social situations.

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See how the pockets fall exactly at my natural waist? Perfect!

There are no closures – the dress has a loose fit so, despite being sewn in woven material, you can still slip it overhead – no scary zipper installation.

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Fabric

For my first Fen Dress, I used Robert Kaufman chambray that I snagged from a friend’s destash on Instagram. Here is some similar fabric (perhaps the same?) in the Imagine Gnats shop.

I made this dress around the same time as my Parkside Shorts and was definitely on an accent pocket kick. I used some thin vintage cotton for the pocket linings (the fabric felt a bit like double gauze, but I’m not sure what it really is). I added an extra layer of chambray behind to stabilize it – fusible interfacing probably would have been a better long-term solution, but so far it’s holding up just fine.

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I also used this fabric for the neckline. I’m did not follow the instructions for the neckline correctly. As you can see in the photo below, I wrapped the neckline fabric around to the front to expose it. In my second version, I attached the neckline more similar to what I have done with knit patterns. The first method created the best fit for the neckline (not that my 2nd attempt was how it’s supposed to be done either…)

fen-dress-neckline

Fit

With a petite frame, I often have to make adjustments to patterns. Usually with a waistline like this, I would have to shorten the bodice. I’m excited to say – I did not have to make any adjustments to “petite-ify” this pattern!

However, I did grade between sizes based on my measurements which was actually very easy to do with this pattern.

Construction

The skirt piece is not overwhelmingly wide so the gathers are easy to install.

I used french seams throughout which took a little longer than usual, but it’s really my favorite method to use for seams when working with woven material. I did not alter the pattern pieces to accommodate since the pattern has a pretty generous seam allowance. I just shrunk the width of the seam I was sewing.

Here is a great tutorial from Craftsy on how to sew french seams.

Version 2

When I picked the pattern out at Finch, I fell in love with this beautiful peach print fabric that I knew would make the perfect Fen Dress.

fen-dress-pair

The fabric is called “Peaches in Bright Pink” from Melody Miller’s “Fruit Dots” collection for Cotton + Steel in Fall 2015. You can find it for sale here from Hawthorne Threads.

fen-dress-2

After Version 1 proved that the fit was perfect, I whipped up Version 2 exactly the same. The only difference was the neckline. I flipped the neckband up after attaching and top-stitched like I have done with knit dresses in the past (again, pretty sure this was not correct).

fen-dress-2-neckline

This method caused the neckline to be much wider than I would’ve liked with a bit of gaping at the front center. I still wear the dress regularly because overall it is a great fit and I am too lazy to seam rip the neckband and start over 😉

{Pretty sure you’re supposed to use bias binding for the neckline. Here is a tutorial that would’ve been helpful for me to follow if I had actually realized that…}

After finishing version 2, I had enough fabric left over to make my pup her own peach-themed scarf to match!

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She loves it. #DivaDog

In case you’re wondering how to make your pup a matching scarf with your leftover material (it’s no-sew and ridiculously easy): grab your pinking shears (here are the ones I use) and cut a triangle. You want the longest edge (bottom edge if you are looking at it with the point at the top) to be the circumference of your dog’s neck plus a few extra inches to spare for knotting. Tie around your pup leaving enough room so that it can slip over the pup’s head but not so loose it will fall off (you do not want it too tight!).

If you wanted to get really fancy, you could use a second fabric scrap to make it reversible and even add velcro (which, admittedly by this overprotective-former-vet-tech, would be much safer if you are planning to leave it on your pup unattended [aka: a quick release in case it gets caught on something…sorry for dragging you into the world of a paranoid-fur-parent, but welcome!]).

Final Thoughts

This pattern is a definite favorite! It is the exact style that I love: cinched waist, pockets… perfection.

I would say this is definitely a pattern that is appropriate for a beginner. There are no closures (no zippers, no buttons), you can use woven material (no stretch=no stress for beginners!), and there are no set-in sleeves.

Have you made a Fen Dress? I’d love to see your version!