bedspread dress..

April 19, 2012

I have a sewing machine, fabric, and time to sew! I got this piece of fabric from India, and was going to save it for a tablecloth or something like that, but I held it up as a dress, and loved it!

First thing was to cut the neck, square to match the pattern.  The dress is rather shapeless, and almost more of a tunic. There is so much complexity in the pattern on the material that I didn’t think that it was necessary to shape the dress itself.

I decided on gathering the sleeves to add a little finishing detail. Because there is so little shaping, it needed a little something to add dimension. 

I tried belting the dress, but the fabric pattern didn’t lend itself to the shape created, and the dress ended up looking a little bit top heavy.

The length is a little shorter than I would have liked, but I wanted to end the skirt at the end of the pattern on the fabric, so no choice there…

The border is really beautiful, and I experimented with my new machine to sew the border by machine instead of by hand. (I got to my room this morning, armed with all my supplies, carefully collected and selected, only to realize that I didn’t have a sewing needle…)

The machine stitch worked well though, and I am excited to have learned how to do it.

I think that the fabric was tie dyed somehow, and there is a strong band of white going around the dress. I am considering dying the fabric a little with some coffee to darken the band. I think that I will have to wear the dress a little first to decide if I like the band or not.

The material might end up being a little rough for a dress, but I am going to give it a try, and wash and wear it a bit. I noticed a tag saying that it was a bed sheet a little bit after I had cut the hole in the top for the head…

for sale

March 16, 2012

Here is a collection of cotton Kanga dresses. And they are for sale! I am working on coming up with dress designs, and am testing out fabrics, sewing techniques, etc.

These four dresses are made with traditional Kanga fabric brought to me by my sister. She and her mother, who lives in Tanzania, pick out the different designs for me, and then I get to make things!

The bodices are lined with another layer of Kanga fabric, and the skirts are lined with a layer of cotton lawn.

The sleeves are left unlined. This design is loose-fitting and perfect for warm summer (or spring…) weather.

Each dress is unique, with the patterns carefully selected and matched for each. The seams are all finished with zigzag, and I tried to cut all the ends off, but I am sure that there are a few hidden here and there. The hems of the sleeves and bottom are the finished edge of the fabric, except for the white and black dress, which has a raw edge.

The material is thin and not too refined. There are imperfections, and I feel that this adds to the character of the pieces. Each piece of Kanga fabric has a quote on it, and I left the quote on the bottom of this dress.

The fabric comes quite heavily starched, and after a few washings and wearings, it softens and relaxes a lot. I always take care with laundering, and machine wash delicate, cold, and always hang to dry.

The dresses do usually need to be ironed a little, or else they end up looking a little bit rumpled.

Let me know what you think!

spring flannel

March 10, 2012

This dress is flannel, but doesn’t have sleeves…a little bit of a contradiction, and I will see how it wears.

I bought a dress recently that I really liked, and drafted this pattern from it. The original had a short front, and a long back, and was a little bit more fitted through the middle. I wanted this to be a bit more simple, and have a looser fitting top.

The neck and arms are all stitched by hand, which takes a while, but I generally enjoy doing hand stitching. I made bias tape out of scraps, sewed it to the edges with the machine, and then folded it under, pressed and pinned it, and then stitched it down. One of the best things about making dresses is being able to finish them carefully and by hand…

The hem is also hand stitched. I love a wide hem, turned under and sewed. There is something very substantial about it, and the dress seems to hang better that way.

The waist is elastic. I inserted an elastic band into the dress, tied it tightly at about the right spot, and cut the ends.

Overall, the dress is comfy, cozy, and can always be worn with a sweater if the weather turns cold.

denim workhorse

December 9, 2011

I have made a lot of these dresses. They are comfortable, easy to wear, and easy to make! (The pattern is a slightly adjusted version of the schoolhouse tunic.)

I usually take over a spot in the house to lay out the fabric. My current favorite is the floor in the bedroom. I place the pattern down and trace it onto the fabric with a chalk spreader tool.

Then cut the fabric…baste, and sew. Below are the sleeves, basted and ready to pin into the bodice.

I really enjoy the process of pinning the sleeves. I have found that fabric is much more malleable than I would think, and pinning the sleeves allows for all kinds of adjustments and refinements.

I started sewing the bodice with blue thread, but it was the wrong color, and so I switched to orange. The contrast was pretty with the dark blue.

I hemmed the bottom of the dress and sleeves by turning the material inside out. I actually have enough fabric to make another dress with the reverse side out, and I might do that. I had a hard time deciding between the dark and light sides of the fabric..

The hem at the bottom of the dress was a little funny, and so I added some tucks around to even out the seam. I guess that they add character..

Today was beautiful. Misty, and almost rainy in the morning, then breezy, cool, and sunny all day. I was working at home, and wearing this dress, which I made a few months ago, but haven’t been able to wear.

This dress makes me feel like baking bread, or picking apples. Or roasting pumpkins. Things to look forward to!

The pattern came from a garage sale, and was a little bit too small. So I added a bit of fabric to different spots, experimenting to increase the size.

 The fabric is cheap flannel. There is something satisfying about making a dress for $12, plus time. I am hoping that the flannel will hold up to a little bit of wear though…you pay for what you get!

The front of the dress is gathered, and I added some fabric there to increase the size. I also changed the placket a little, and had to adjust it quite a bit more when I realized that the lines of the pattern weren’t matching up well…something more to worry about with plaids!

The sleeves are long, but need to be worn pushed up past the elbows. Otherwise there is just too much green going on! I never put buttons on the cuffs, and if I push them past my elbows and then pull some extra fabric down they seem to hold up well enough.

The pockets are awfully handy. They are conveniently located on the front of the dress, and can hold quite a number of things. The only problem is that the fabric isn’t too strong, and I am worried about the corners of the pockets tearing. I suppose I should have put some interfacing on the underside of the dress for reinforcement, but I didn’t think of that while I was making the dress.

The back is simple, with a bit of shaping at the neck. I was hesitant about putting that in, but I did anyways, and it seemed to work out all right. Again, I was having a little trouble adjusting the fabric so that the lines matched. I am going to need to be a little more vigilant about that!

 

another kanga dress

August 17, 2011

Sometimes I am completely surprised by a piece of fabric. When I received the package of kanga fabric from my sister and her mother, there was one piece that I was pretty sure I wouldn’t make something out of…it wasn’t my style, etc, etc. The funny thing is, as I kept on looking at it, and adjusting how it was folded, and washing and drying and ironing it, I was inspired to make a dress that might be one of my favorites. Funny how that works.

When I started thinking about this one, I had an image in my head, with strong borders at both the top and bottom. A loose fit for warm weather, an open neck, and maybe pockets. Simple and comfortable.

I messed up and made the neck to wide, and had to insert strips of fabric to shorten it. The plus side was that the added strips made the neckline more sturdy.

My favorite part might be the border at the bottom. I sewed on an extra layer of fabric, so that it would keep with the heavy feeling of the thick mango border. One of my favorite things to do is hand stitch the hem. It creates a nice finish, and the length of the dress is exactly as it should be!

The sleeves were cuffed by folding back the border and making a little stitch into the layers of fabric to hold them in place. It was a bit makeshift and messy, but in keeping with the simplicity of the dress.