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Tag Archives: PA Fabric Outlet

Zinnia Skirt

In the last post, I mentioned working on a Zinnia skirt from Colette Patterns during that ridiculously cold streak. Sewing chiffon feels absurd when the thermometer hovers around zero. Now that the weather is evening out to more typical DC winter temperatures, I’ve been wearing the skirt with cozy sweaters. The finished product is comfy, and it looks adorable with both a heavy sweater or a tank top. I think we have a year-round skirt here (success!).

flower zinnia 5

Photo-taking credit goes to my helpful and notoriously modest roommate – the one with opposible thumbs

I got the pdf version of the Zinnia pattern, printed it out and pieced it together. Of the pdf patterns that I have assembled, this one was easy to put together accurately. The skirt pattern is nothing earth shattering, but it is well-designed and simple to work with. The pleats are intelligently placed, giving the skirt fullness without being too fluffy (fluffy skirts are highly objectionable). The pattern comes in two lengths: knee length and just below knee length. I made the knee length version,but next time I might shorten it further. The pattern calls for a button to close the waistband above the zipper, but I used a hook and eye instead.

flower zinnia 1

The pattern includes optional features like patch pockets or side seam pockets and belt loops. I forwent all of these in favor of maintaining my sanity when confronted with chiffon. The pattern directions walk you through working with a lining and adding pleats at the same time; the most important thing is treating the lining and the top layer as one piece of fabric throughout. This lovely camel chiffon with the little white and red flowers came from the PA Fabric Outlet trip. It is a very soft chiffon, and I knew it was destined for a skirt as soon as I saw it.

flower zinnia 3

I found the chiffon fussy to work with, but not particularly difficult to use. Chiffon simply requires patience. It is prone to slipping and stretching out of shape, but a careful approach while handling it prevents most of these problems. I didn’t treat the fabric with any stiffener before working with it. I  did trace the pattern pieces onto the fabric before cutting them out, which helped significantly. Once there is at least a double thickness of chiffon involved, my sewing machine had no problem working with it. But when there was only one thickness of chiffon, specifically when stay-stitching the waist edge, it slid all over the place. I didn’t worry about this much as that mess is hidden in the seam allowance.

I am very pleased with the skirt, which shouldn’t be surprising. By the time my projects make it to the blog, I tend to have worked out whatever may have been frustrating me along the way. I do have a few hibernating projects that I am not speaking to at the moment. They know what they did. There is another, mostly finished Zinnia skirt in the works, at least on baby sweater, and I suspect a coat pattern will be cut out very soon. This year I am chasing consistency and plan to make at least one blog post a month. Fingers crossed.

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Dandelion Top

It is the coldest day in the DC area in nearly two decades, and I am sewing a chiffon Zinnia and the tank top from Simplicity 1664. I do like to plan ahead.

I am rather behind on blogging my sewing and knitting projects, in large part because I don’t have pictures for visual aids. There was a recent knitting mishap in which I knit most of a Driftwood Sweater for my Mother in very much the wrong size. The sweater has been frogged (so called because when you take apart knitting you “rip-it” out. Rip-it, ribbit, get it?), and the yarn and I are taking a break from each other. December also included a field trip to the PA Fabric Outlet in Lancaster PA. If you need any kind of fabric or trim or button or related paraphernalia, I cannot recommend PA Fabric Outlet more highly. The Lancaster location is an unassuming warehouse packed with high-quality, fantastically priced fabric. I was thrilled with the prices on their standard stock, until I found the $.99 bins and lost my head. Many a future sewing project on this blog will feature the spoils of this trip, I am sure.

In terms of actual, still unreported sewing, I have been playing with the  Dandelion Dress pattern designed by Mari at Disparate Disciplines. The dress pattern includes a shirt-length option.  I made the dress first and worked out some of the unique foibles of the pattern, but as I currently have  a few pictures of the top, I will start there.

Dandelion top 1

It was cold the day these pictures were taken too, but not this cold.

I used a medium gray suiting three-dollar-a-yard section at G Street Fabrics. These mystery fabrics are, of course, unlabeled, but the suiting fabric washes surprisingly well, has a moderate drape and a slight crosswise stretch. I used the same fabric when I made the dress for the first time, and it worked out well, if a trifle stiff for the pattern. I think this fabric works slightly better for the top than the dress.

The Dandelion Dress offers an unusual take on the traditional sheath dress pattern. Instead of perpendicularly stacked darts, the pattern pieces are all sweeping curves that piece together organically. It is a brilliant design, though the assembly is not for the impatient or faint of heart. The trickiest part of assembly is inserting the side/back pieces. They wrap around the dress and flow beautifully into each other, but the combination of the side seam that flows into a dart is not easy, even on the fourth time sewing it. My only advice is to pin like crazy. I do appreciate that the pattern pieces all line up very easily and hit exactly where they are supposed to from the very clear directions.

Dandelion top 5

The seam-into-dart thing I’m talking about

I cut a straight size 6 and it fits well without adjustment. I particularly appreciate the clean back fit that the unusual construction allows. The garment has an easy fit that moves with you, like you would expect more from a knit t-shirt than a woven tank top. There is some very minor gaping at the neck, which I will remedy the next time I make the top by taking out a half inch at the shoulder. I could fix it on this one, but it is so minor that it doesn’t bother me.

Dandelion Top 4

The pattern suggests finishing the neckline and the armholes with double sided bias tape, but I didn’t. I think the whole bias-tape-border look is rather goofy and homemade, and unforgivably, uncomfortable. Instead, I finished the armholes and neckline by machine sewing single-fold bias tape along the edge to be finished, pressing it under, and hand-stitching it in place with an invisible hem. It takes slightly longer, but the finish is professional and much more comfortable. I also hand-stitched an invisible  hem. I’m not exactly quick at invisible hems (my mother shakes her head at me when she sees me making one) but all the practice certainly helps.

I am huge fan of this pattern, and I have plans for at least one more top and a summery, printed cotton dress. I will be posting about the Dandelion Dress from the same fabric as soon as I have pictures. For now, I am very glad to be inside, wearing a ginormous sweater, and drinking hot beverages. Stay warm folks!

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