Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Finished Project: Carolyn Pajamas

Hi, friends! I'm marching right along (get it, it's March!) with sharing my backlog of yet-unblogged makes. Today, we have the Carolyn Pajamas by Closet Case Patterns. I bought this pattern right when it came out because I've always loved classic PJ sets like this, and had just been debating pulling the trigger on some at J.CREW. Nope! I can make those! So, I (finally) actually did.

The fabric is a huge bed sheet I got at Goodwill. It's 100% cotton and feels great. The print is some kind of painterly style tropical setting amid trees and flowers with ladies holding parasols, standing before scenic views, sitting on benches, and little girls chasing little dogs. I have a bunch left, so I'm thinking about making matching long PJ pants, too. And also maybe long sleeve/pants Christmas PJs? Yes.

As you can see, I made the short sleeved top and shorts version. The shorts have a faux fly, which I like the look of and was happy to have Heather's well-written instructions for, since I'd struggled with that when I'd attempted to tackle (then abandoned) a Big-4 pattern with one, some time back in my sewing career.

By the time I'd actually gotten around to sewing up this pattern (a year... or years?) after impulsively purchasing it, I was under a self-imposed deadline to complete it before I left on a girls' trip to New Orleans for one of my best friends' bachelorette trip/celebration back in September. In the interest of time, I opted to omit the piping at the sleeve and shorts cuffs, as well as at the collar and center fronts. I even went so far as to skip the buttons and just stitched the front closed at a place that felt right. I personally never unbutton PJ tops anyway, but pull them on over my head, like a little kid. Yes, I also sleep with the teddy bear pictured. Adults can do whatever we want!

I don't have any super special construction notes and I did not make any real changes to the pattern, apart from skipping a couple aesthetic steps. I did somehow manage to line things up so that there is a big palm tree centered above my bum (when I'm not twisted sideways like in the above photo) and on the back collar, too. OK by me!

I wore these PJs all fall and have just recently started pulling them out again on warmer nights as spring edges nearer. I will definitely be making another set, just a matter of time (which could be a while because I'm easily distracted by new/shiny). Next time, if I use this fabric or fabric of a similar weight, I'll likely skip the interfacing, as it makes things around the neckline a bit bulky when I'm tossing and turning in bed. I actually like the look of only piping the pocket, but I've always wanted PJs with classic coordinating piping at the collar and cuffs, so I'm sure I'll try that at some point. So many PJs possibilities, so little time.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

eShakti Dress Review

Do you guys remember back in 2014, when I reviewed a dress for eShakti?

Well, they emailed me recently to see if I'd like to do it again and I said, sure! I thought it made sense to take another crack at it, since over the years my style has changed a little bit, leaning more towards the modern now than strictly vintage-obsessed, my size has gone up, and I could now take the opportunity to try out their customizing features, since I hadn't in my first review.

If you've not heard of eShakti, they are an online women's clothing retailer with a wide selection of designs on offer that the customer can then further customize to her preference. Oddly, the dress I picked to review (from a small range of pre-selected items) seems to no longer exist on their site, but I've cobbled together a bit of information I could find to tell you about it!

This little thumbnail shows the original style of the dress as designed, the Snowflake Beaded Poplin Dress. You can see it has cap sleeves, a slight scoop neckline, and the skirt is knee length.

It's winter here in Virginia, and, even though we don't get crazy arctic temps, I still knew I wanted actual sleeves of some sort. Plus I tend to like the way short sleeves look on me more than cap sleeves.

In selecting customizing options, I added short sleeves and went for an even more scooped front and back neckline. I kept the length at the knee, but could have gone longer or shorter with it, which is a nice feature! The site also takes into account your height in the customizing section.

The skirt is pleated with in-seam pockets and the bodice meets the skirt at a separate waistband, which I'm usually a fan of, but I think this kind of looked rumpled on me -- perhaps I could remedy this by taking in the waist a bit for a closer fit. The fabric was not something you could customize, so, I got their standard cotton poplin fabric that happens to be the same fabric that the first dress I reviewed for them was made from, too.

This is, sadly, what makes me not want to reach for this dress in my closet more often, though. The cotton poplin fabric is lightweight but a bit stiff and, in black, tends to attract lint and cat hair easily. It seems to constantly look a bit rumpled and disheveled rather than crisp, even on the parts of the dress that are more fitted. I really wish that the customization extended to the fabric type, even if it was limited to this simple cotton poplin and , say, cotton sateen, or something like that! I think a different fabric would have really elevated this dress.

The beading on the front is cute, but not over the top, and I appreciate that it feels a bit more modern in design -- it's not just polka dots or cutesy snowflakes.


I  styled it with polka dot tights and pointy-toe bow flats, which I felt took things in the quirky, retro direction, to go with the vintage-style neckline. You could just as easily style a dress like this with solid tights and a sleek heel for a different, more modern look. I will say the really nice thing about eShakti's dress offering is that there is something for virtually every style. They have categories broken out by occasion and aesthetic, and so many of their dresses have interesting details you just don't find at your local Banana Republic or other run of the mill shop. 

1 // 2 // 3 // 4

These are my favorites that I wish had been available for review! Though I don't love their cotton poplin, I'm so into the little scallops on that retro neckline and I think the lines of the dress (elastic shirred back waist and paneled--not pleated--skirt) would work much better with the poplin. I'm also interested to see what the cotton knit is like -- it looks great on that gold-spotted dress!

Back to my dress, I do really like the look of the scoop neckline on front and back as well as the raglan sleeves. And, any designer that knows the importance of pockets in dresses is good in my book! All in all, I may not be totally in love with the particular dress I received, but I do like the way my customization selections came out, and I would recommend eShakti for their wide range of interesting, customizable dress styles, though they do have other clothes (separates! jeans!), too.

If you're thinking of giving eShakti a try, go for it! You can get $25 off your first purchase just by registering on their site.

You can find eShakti on all of your favorite social media sites (facebook, instagram, twitter, pinterest), and check out other reviews from regular people like me by following their #eShakti and #realfashionforrealpeople hashtags.

Disclaimer: As also mentioned in my last eShakti review, I was provided with a free dress of my choosing, but was not otherwise compensated for this review. All delightfully insightful thoughts and opinions are mine.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Finished Project: Lemon Laurel

Attempting to document at least some of the backlog of completed sewing projects from the last few months! Today, we have a Collette Patterns Laurel dress in a bold lemon print.

The fabric is the same lightweight cotton sateen by Gertie for Joann's that I used for my Winslow Culottes.  If you follow me on IG, you know I looove this fabric. It's so soft and the colors are great. One thing I really appreciate about it is that what would normally be a very summery/springtimey print can work with more wintry wardrobe items, too, due to the black background! Please, fabric designers of the world, make more fun bright prints on dark backgrounds!!

I ended up deciding to throw my plan to use this remaining yardage to make a crop top to match my culottes (for a little play-set look) out the window, as I came to realie I would not actually wear something like that more than once in real life. I recall having the waistband get a bit stretched out during the construction process for my culottes in this fabric, but I just thought it was a one-off. Silly me. Though this sateen does not contain any stretch fibers, it does tend to stretch out a bit as you handle and work with it -- the more handling, the more stretching. By the time I'd finished sewing the neckline bias facing on this dress, the entire neckline had stretched out quite noticeably, causing it to ripple and not lay flat -- WHY didn't I stay-stitch beforehand?! A word to future Sue: stay-stitch necklines!!!!! Just do it.

Now, if you've read this blog for a while, you'll know how much I like the Laurel dress pattern. I've also sewn it as a dress and a top for friends, over the years, so I'd like to think I'm rather familiar with it! Because it has been a little while since making one of these for myself, I knew I'd need to cut a new, larger size, but I think I over-compensated for my larger measurements. It's hard to say, though, with the fabric stretching issue. Did I cut this out too big, or did it grow? The fit is not quite right.



Talk about a quick, easy project turning into something oddly challenging! [Insert here: fabric joke on making lemonade from lemons - ha, ha, ha] As you can see, I even tried to take things up a notch in photographing it with some new poses!

But, even back to the construction, once I realized the neckline was stretched out and crazy-looking, I knew I needed to try something different. I took a deep breath, cut around the entire neckline to trim the bad part off, and then traced the remaining neckline curve to make my own facing pieces. If you'd asked me in advance if I knew how to do that or thought I ever would, I'd have said "no," but I found that having sewn my fair share of facings in my sewing career, it was not difficult to come up with how to draft my own. I ended up basically tracing the shape of the neckline, adding seam allowances at the shoulders, and extending the whole neckline shape down a couple inches. I used a sturdier black cotton broadcloth for the facing pieces to try to help stabilize things there. It pretty much worked, but I didn't quite make the facings long enough, so they like to flip up a little bit (yes, I under-stitched) even after stitching them down in the shoulder seam ditch. Womp womp.

The verdict is that I love this fabric but not as this dress. The shoulders don't seem to sit right and the adjusted scooped shape of the front and back neckline are a little odd after my re-facing. I'm not sure if the whole thing was able to stretch out enough during construction to make the entire dress too big (apart from the stretched neckline), or if I just need to go down a size. It can be tricky when you change sizes after having determined a TNT pattern at a size different than you are now! I was worried that anything smaller than this would not fit, but I think it ended up being a bit more of a sack -- or pillow case, as a friend noted when I wore it out in real life -- than the casually loose shift I'd envisioned.

I think, to be sure, I have to try it out again in a non-secretly-stretching fabric and see where that takes me!