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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Fabric Shopping

There are many choices when it comes to purchasing fabric for a project. I have put together a little ‘Fabric Shopping Guide’ for myself that I find helpful when hunting for the perfect materials for a project but it may help you as well. Taking the time to find the correct materials however can bring about success or failure when it comes to creating a specific item. In short, not all fabric shops are the same and neither are the types of fabrics used for different projects. Hunting for the perfect fabric can take a bit of time. Some of us prefer to go to one shop for all of the materials at once. I happen to wait weeks and even months sometimes for fabrics to arrive and patterns to be read endlessly before a project is started.

Today I find a wide range in options in the way of materials that makes it a very exciting time to be designing and creating items. Sewing anything comes down to the combining of three things; the item you want to make, the materials you have to work with, and the time and precision you put into the project. The final detail would be the tools used for the project, and certainly valid as we all know the right tools for the job can only help. In regards to the sewing machine used, I like to show you in most cases how to make items with a regular sewing machine. If you are using a serger you know the differences. If not then I’ve got you covered. Most of us have these regular sewing machines at our disposal as opposed to professional machinery.

In most cases we look at a pattern and what we see is what we want. We might see that pretty pink dress in our mind as any color but pink, but we have a sense of idealism when setting about recreating the item shown on the pattern or in the magazine in the appropriate fabric. For men and children that is usually cottons. For women and in some cases children as well, we use more knits, more blended techniques to make the fashion fabrics. So here is a quick fabric guide for all of you so when I refer to a particular fabric type, you might have a better chance of knowing what I mean. I have also included the shops I usually pick my materials from as I even need a bit of direction sometimes.

Cotton Fabrics:

Cotton fabric in different weights from very light weight (used for anything from boxers to hankerchiefs. Nightwear for women, the lining of coats), medium weight (works well for men’s shirts, children’s clothing, home things such as kitchen accessories, curtains, pillow covers, muslin fabric, etc.), and then the heavier cottons (great for coats, men’s pants, the backing for blankets and duvet covers, denim, canvas, duck cloth).
Shops: Joanns, Fabric Depot, Mill End, Fabric.com (online), Beverly’s (also online)

Upholstery / Extra Heavy Weigh Cotton: This should fall into the upholstery fabric category however there are many upholstery fabrics that are 100% cotton. I would categorize these as an extra heavy cotton I suppose. That would be a decent way to determine the difference between that type of fabric and a heavy weight from the above category that would be medium weight, similar to that of a men’s pant material or a trench coat type fabric to give you an idea there.  I would also categorize a terrycloth type cotton used mostly for bathrobes and kitchen towels and such into this category (great for absorbing water).
Shops: Joanns, Mill End, Fabric.com (online)

Stretch Cotton: There seems to be a variation from what I am looking for and what the shop people in the shops understand when I say stretch cottons. They are always thinking that I mean a knit, and I am thinking a cotton with a limited stretch to it, similar to a thin stretch denim of a stretch poplin. They are made with a weave, not a knit. They just have a blend of fibers that offer a bit of stretch. Knits are mentioned below.
Shops: Mill End, sometimes a nice solid or print will appear elsewhere but I have a difficult time finding a medium weight stretch cotton that I like. I also like to purchase this fabric in person so I can guarantee it is the right weight and such.

Linen & blends: Linen is a natural cotton fabric and usually is a medium weight fabric with a moderate to slightly grain running through the fabric. A linen blend is a fabric that looks and feels similar to a linen fabric however just as indicated in the name, the fabric has been blended with another fabric type to soften land in many cases lighten up a fabric. I usually explain to my customers that the real difference is that a lien blend will give you a little bit softer, lighter fabric to work with and also cuts down on the wrinkling that a linen fabric will, especially when worn. So some people like the all natural fiber, and others would rather a more wearable fabric for all day with less wrinkles. I find my customers like the linen blends more for skirts in the summer months if that helps.
Shops: Joanns, Mill End

Flannel: This is a cotton fabric that has a medium weight and a soft top side. They come in solids and prints and they are great for baby items such as crib sheets or the backing of blankets. I do not use a lot of flannels as they have a tendency to pill but for baby items they are more accepted because the weight and softness is ideal, and the shops offer a wide range of prints. When I was younger my mother used to make us flannel pajamas. You may find a fabric is marked not suitable for children’s clothing and you should always check what the fabric says. The warning is usually in response to fire safety precautions. The best way to determine if the fabric you are thinking of purchasing is suitable for the project is to ask one of the people at the shops or read the fine print on the bolt.

Shops: Joanns, Fabric Depot, Mill End

Fashion Fabrics: This category is mostly going to be for women’s and children’s clothing. They range as specialty fabrics and the materials used can in some cases have all cotton, some cotton, or no cotton such as a rayon or polyester.
Shops: Joanns, Fabric Depot, Mill End, Fabric.com (online), Beverly’s (also online)

Knits: Most people do not really think about it but the concept of a knit fabric is specifically that, knitted in the way it has been constructed as opposed to other types of fabrics such as cottons that are usually woven. Knits offer a bit of a stretch to fabrics as opposed to a taught weave. With this in mind, many items that are sewn can be used with knit fabrics such as tops, pants, dresses. A few items that you would most likely not want to go with for a knit fabric would be bags because they just won’t hold the items inside with a decent amount of structure. Knits range and today you can find knits that are like sweater fabrics to thinner stretch knits for items such as leggings or swim and dance wear. Women’s clothing and children as well usually are made from a range of knit styles. Some have prints, some are only one color. There are many choices and weights from which to choose. I also find jersey fabric works really nicely for crib sheets as well. It washes well and is soft for the munchkins. The material content for these types of fabrics ranges and you can also find a lot of organic fibers in the shops these days.
Shops: Joanns, Mill End, Fabric.com (online), ebay

Evening and Formal Fabrics: These are satins, silks, chiffons, velvets and velours, brocades, laces, etc. and they are usually reserved for ladies and girls clothing and for more formal events such as holidays, weddings and all things dress up! If you were interested in making or having me make you a dress these would be the fabrics you would most likely be interested in unless it is a more casual day dress or skirt. You will also find men’s suit linings, silk vests and ties will also in many cases be made from fabrics that fall into this category.
Shops: Joanns, Mill End, Fabric Depot, ebay and NY warehouse

Faux Fur: These are man-made materials and the color and texture vary.
Shops: Joanns, Mill End, Fabric Depot. (Joanns has some select colors and textures and fur lengths. Mill End has the largest selection I have even found and though the prices are higher, the selection is about 80% more in quantity and the range in colors, textures and fur thickness to be excellent. Faux fur for costumes is usually made from fabric selected from Mill End-2 locations are available locally to me.

Felt: Not recommended for clothing. The fabric is made by pressing the fibers together which makes it great for felting, additional craft projects and in some cases costumes however as the fibers are pressed instead of woven or knitted together, washing proves they will get knotty and begin to weaken and or warp.
Shops: Joanns, Mill End for heavier weight if not found at Joanns has a range in colors and thicknesses but Mill End has more specialized colors.

Cuddle/ Fleece/ Heavy Weight fabrics: These fabrics range in weight and thickness, softness, etc. These are great for blankets, parkas and outerwear, bathrobes and towels, pet beds, and perhaps even pajamas.
Shops: Joanns, Fabric Depot, Mill End, ebay

Wool and blends: Wool is made in a number of different weights and is really an excellent material. It is similar to cotton in that it is a natural material, and it comes from the harvesting of wool from sheep. It is an excellent insulator fabric and can be used in anything from scarves to bedding. In the past people used wool for bedding as it retains the heat while sleeping and therefore also was used for underclothes in colder climates. Wool will shrink when heat is applied so when chocking the fabric make sure you make a note to yourself that it should be laundered with no heat so as not to shrink. I would also like to note that as we search for fabrics, we have a responsibility as consumers to be responsible when shopping. Please make sure your wool materials come from humane sources. Some of the places that sell these materials are not very humane in the way they treat the sheep and I do not care for that. You can find updated information online on the locations and types of wool known for inhumane practices. *I know you might this this is not important but it is-Love the animals!
Shops: Fabric Depot, Mill End, ebay

The fabric image above shows a variety of wool knit blends.

Additional fabric info found here -> 

That’s all for now. I’m off to work on a few projects. Until I return have a fabulous day and if you have any questions feel free to let me know! 

Lindsay J

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Perfect Parka

I just happen to have a parka that is the most comfortable, take a nap inside, survive blizzard conditions while waiting for Cure tickets, go skiing and not freeze your back side off kind of parka. That’s right, it’s the perfect parka. This parka has kept me alive in the most massive of snow storms and with the cold weather so many of you are experiencing right now throughout the country I think you all need a blog post on how to make your own parka. 

So if you woke up this morning saying It's like Hoth out there I offer you hope to warm and nap and weather all storms.

The white parka you see in the photos is the one I made. The fuschia polar fleece is my original and the one I cut my original pattern from. 

Here are the materials you are going to need -> 
Materials: fabric, thread, pattern, sewing pins, measuring tape or yard stick, paper to make your own pattern, pencil, scissors, lining trim for the underside of the neckline, clip for keys (optional), trim for the loop at the tunic opening.

This pattern consists of 6 pattern pieces. With both arms you will be working with a total of 7 pieces. This parka can be made in about an hour and a half if you already have your materials on hand (this includes a snack break for a  Peanut Butter and Honey Sandwich and a cup of Hot Chocolate of course)

Pattern Pieces: Front, Back, Sleeves (2), Hood, Pouch, Tunic Lining (underside for the front opening at the neckline).

Let’s chat for a minute or two on the construction for this item. You should find making this parka to be rather easy but I have a few notes that you might find useful if you have not sewn fleece or cuddle fabrics before. This parka has a pouch in the lower front center with a key hook added inside. If you decide to not include a key hook including a loop to attach keys and such while in use is a great help. This parka actually came as the fleece lining for a ski jacket in the 90's so it's a bit basic in the style. You can upgrade as you want as you begin to plan your own project out.

Making the Pattern: For this you will want a crafting area, pencil (pen or marker works well too), paper, scissors, measuring tape or yard stick (grab both if you have them). 

Here is an image of my basic parka pattern I pulled from the original. When you are creating your pattern use this basic shape for the front and back shown here with adjustments made. The front will have the center opening at the top with or without the zipper.

If adding the front pocket the size you will want for this piece for the square pouch is 14" in width 12" in length. Once the seams are sen in the pouch will be slightly smaller. For the more stylized pouch with the top shorter than the bottom, you will want to cut the sides on angels with the top a width of about 9" in width at the center.

For the hood you will want the length to be about 16" and the width about 14.5-15". You will be adding about 1" fold over around the hood so it will be slightly smaller. The best way to determine the correct fit for the hood is to measure from the base of your neck up to the top of your head, add 1.5" and that is your length. For the width you will want to measure from the center back of your head around to the front to about where your eye meets, add 1" and that is your width. 

When adding the inside lining piece, this is a small piece and is essentially just the piece you see in the above image with a slice down the middle for adding a zipper, and a small tunic styled cutout about 4" in length from the top.

The front of the parka has an opened tunic styled neckline with a loop at the top and a button on the inside on the opposite side. I have found this opening is really nice for scarves, cooling down a bit when coming in from the cold and for having a bit of room for other clothing such as ski suits underneath but on those really cold days when the wind whips through your very soul having that loop and button at the top is great. The underside of the hood seam is covered with a lining trim that is no wider than ½” in width, slightly more narrow is better however you want to trim the seams really well in this area before adding the trim to the inside seam because this area will be visible when on and the hood is down so you want the underside in this area to look good. I added the white strip of trim lining to the inside hood seam by hand once I was finished with the rest of the parka.

You will most likely be using a fleece fabric which is a heavy weight fabric and in most cases has a bit of a stretch. I am using a white cuddle fabric which is a really soft and warm fabric but has even more of a stretch to it than a polar fleece so if I can do it so can you. In order to compensate for the thick stretch fabrics while using a regular sewing machine you will want to go slowly while sewing and depending on the fabric you have selected, you may want to tack areas down with a needle and thread before you sew them down with the machine. It really helps give definition to the area you plan on sewing with the sewing machine. 

I have found that even when I am using a heavy weight stretch needle the fleece can get a bit wonky when sewing as the machine wants to crush the seams together and in some cases you might find that the machine will either spread out a stitch or drop a stitch. This should in most cases be an indication that you are sewing too quickly and or not maintaining the rate at which your fabric is moved through the machine but at the same time regular sewing machines like straight up fabric weaves and stretch fabrics like fleece are usually a knit weave which trips up the stitch the sewing machine is making. We can discuss this in more detail at another time but in short my advice is to just go slowly as you sew and try to keep the rate of the fabric as it goes through the machine as consistent as possible. 

If you find an area has a dropped stitch, once the seam has been trimmed on the underside, you can sew the seam once more (though highly visible areas such as the topstitching along the hood area will look best with just one stitch). Adding the zigzag to all raw edges helps give the stretch in the fabric a footing to hold onto while being sewn. Just keep in mind that when you are adding double seams to certain areas that you will want to do the same to the opposite side. It just looks a bit more professional this way. You should find though that if you trim the raw edges, add a medium width zigzag stitch to the raw edges and then trim and turn in and sew the seam once more as a general rule while working on this that your parka will end up looking great.  

Sizing: This Parka is rather oversized as that is the size of my original parka (which is really big) but you can scale it up or down depending on your size. When doing this stick to the original pattern layout and cut. The back panel falls slightly longer than the front. The sleeves are cut almost exactly if you were to fold them lengthwise except the front is cut out more than the back to provide range in movement.

Cut all of the pattern and fabric pieces out. Take the pouch panel and trim any areas that need trimming. Add a zigzag stitch to the edges. Take the key loop and add it to the upper left corner about 3” in (if you are left handed you will probably want to switch this to the other side). Fold the seam over ¼” in from the edge and topstitch all the way around the edge of the pouch keeping the key loop tucked inside the pouch. Ideally you will want to tuck in and topstitch all the way around the pouch once *making sure to tuck the pouch in so the sides are folded in first and then the top and bottom are tucked in. If you feel as though you cannot sew the entire pouch around the edges all at once without the corners getting uneven (this provides the cleanest look on the outside) then your best bet is to sew around the edges with the fabric folded under ¼”. You will also want to start sewing ¼” down from the top. Trim the threads and sew the top and bottom down starting at the same point that you stitched the side seams, and also ¼” inward from the edge. 

*Don’t forget to back stitch when adding these stitches to the pouch so that the threads don’t start to come loose after a few washes.  As the sewing machine is made to sew a standard weave and the fabric you are using is most likely a knit weave, you really want to sew these seams well so that your parka can traverse the galaxy with you for a long time to come with many washes included.

Now you will want to take the front panel and pin the pouch to the front of the pattern. Sew the top, bottom and half way up the sides of the pouch to the front of the parka as noted above in the pattern making section. Make sure when you do this that you topstitch directly above the topstitching you already added when you sewed the edges down on the pouch the first time. When you sew up the sides a bit on each side of the pouch you will find things like wallet, phone, etc. will not slip out as easily when in use.

Now that you have the pouch sewn on you will want to sew a narrow zigzag stitch to the raw edges of the Tunic Lining piece. Add the small loop at the left side of the top of the neckline (loop facing outward toward the shoulder) and then add the lining piece to the front of the tunic neckline area (fabrics facing each other). Trim the edges as needed and turn in and topstitch around the top.

The lower sides of the front and back should be trimmed about 3.5" up form the bottom, a zigzag stitch should be added and then the fabric turned in 1/4" and topstitched. Align, pin and sew the shoulder and side seams, trim, repeat the stitching if needed in order for the seams to be straight, trim the seams as needed and sew a zigzag stitch to finish the seams. Make sure to leave a small opening on the lower sides whee you topstitched. Put this piece aside.

Take the hood and fold it in half and inside out. Add the straight seam to the top of the hood to close it up, repeat the stitching if needed to get a straight stitch and then trim the seam and add a zigzag stitch. Pin the hood to the parka and determine where you should fold over the opening of the hood. The pattern should be a decent indicator but you want the pieces to line up perfectly so before you fold the seam down it is best to make sure everything is aligned. Trim the hood lengthwise if needed, sew a zigzag to the sides and then topstitch with the seam folded in ¼”.

Align the hood to the parka and pin the pieces together. Sew the hood to the parka (*making sure when you get close to ends that the top of the tunic lining pieces are pulled up and being sewn down as you close up the seam. Trim the seam if needed but since this area is going to be covered with the lining trim you do not need to add a zigzag stitch to this seam.

Pin the trim to the underside of the seam where the hood meets the parka. Before sewing the trim down *keep in mind that this is the second easiest area to mess up and make your parka look like it would be best chopped up into something else (the first being the topstitching on the pouch area) so my advice is to take just a few minutes and tack the trim to the underside of the seam with a needle and thread. I timed it and it only took me a few extra minutes and this is the best advice I can offer because you are trying to sew a trim to the underside of both sides of the seam of a heavyweight fabric with a moderate stretch and sewing blind in a sense in that you cannot see the trim you are sewing down because you are sewing the top side so you can ensure you get a straight stitch. So we are going to hand stitch big tacky stitches to hold that trim down. Thread a sewing needle and turn the parka inside out. Tuck the trim in on the end and sew it down on each side of the seam all the way around the inside of the hood.

Once you have added one straight topstitch to the hood area I would recommend not sewing another stitch on top of it. If you miss the lining trim on the backside with the machine I would just take a needle and thread and sew it down because you want this to look nice as it is a highly visible spot when the hood is up.

Next take your sleeves and fold them inside out. Pin and sew the sleeves to the parka, trim the seam and add a zigzag stitch. Take the lower half of the sleeve and trim if needed, leaving 1/4" additional for the seam allowance. Sew a zigzag stitch around the sleeve, repeat with the other. Turn in 1/4" and topstitch. Turn in the sleeve and sew the length of the sleeve. Trim and add a zigzag stitch. 

Trim the bottom hem all the way around the parka, leaving the back slightly longer than the front. Add a zigzag stitch to the bottom hem, turn in 1/4" and topstitch all the way around the bottom hem.

You are officially finished!

Final Notes: In the end I was really pleased with my finished parka. Especially since I really needed a new one that was a bit smaller in size. It's perfect for staying warm while painting in the garage. It gets cold out there! So the parka is great because I can keep warm, have a big pocket to hold stuff (we always have stuff to carry right?) and the comfort value can't be rivaled. Sure it might not be the most fashionable item in the world, but it's warm and if you take your time you should find even be decent enough to wear in public. Despite pinning that front pouch down as perfectly as I could I feel as though the lower corner of the parka looks slightly off, just a tiny bit but all in all not bad. Not bad for a first try...

The only thing I would say about this parka is that when comparing it with those on the market today you can see where updates and more stylized cuts have replaced some of those designs from the past. The original fushia parka I used for the pattern was a style from the 90's, not terrible but we have since upgraded a bit with things like more cuts and shape. 

One of the reasons I have dubbed this the perfect parka is not only because of the warmth and comfort value, but also because once you have created a basic pattern for yourself, changing the style around a bit is really not too difficult. I will be adding more of these as I finish them but until then I have additional photos up I am including a few links to other fleece hoodies and parka's that will help give you an idea of the style possibilities once you have your basic layout. 



Here are a few photos of another parka that I recently made. I used the same white cuddle fabric but there were a few changes to this one after having tested my first for a few days. I widened the hood and elongated it about 2". I shortened the sleeves and slimmed it down slightly as this was going to be a gift for a smaller person along. Instead of an opened tunic area I went with a front center zipper and shortened the sleeves about 3". I skipped the pocket on the front and sewed the sides all the way down and added a drawstring with pull tie for the bottom hem, as well as a drawstring in the hood. The final change was that I switched the seam from the top of the hood to the back.

When you go to cut the area for the front zipper simply cut straight down, do not cut the area out like I did when making the tunic style shown above in the making of the first parka. You will want to sew the zipper in by hand, then hand sew the inside lining piece, and then reinforce these stitches on the machine. It is worth the extra time to have everything rest well as opposed to being crooked because you rushed the process. This is soft, stretchy and thick fabric so just a few minutes of some basic tacking down with a sewing needle and thread can really help you out here. You can also use pins however I find tacking it down first to be most helpful. 

For the hood I went with a slim shoelace type material with plastic on the ends. I knotted the ends so it would not pull through when being washed. For the waistline I picked up slim white round elastic and a plastic pull tie piece. When adding the final hem I sewed the bottom hem with a zig zag stitch, folded the hem under with the elastic inside and starting at the side, sewed the bottom hem down all the way around twice. Make sure when you go over the area where the elastic meets that the elastic is facing down so it is free to move through and does not get sewn down. Once you have the elastic in place pull both ends through the plastic pull tie and knot the end tight. 

Happy Crafting! Lindsay :)

Friday, January 3, 2014

Bringing Back Vintage (Remaking the Advance 4749)

So you want to make that lovely Advance 4749 Nightgown do you? Yeah, me too. Something so dreamy just has to be remade. I don’t have a copy of the pattern though but honestly I’m just tired of waiting. Someone will outbid me or it sells on a random craft site moments prior to my clicking “BUY ME NOW” and I lose the vision of making that styled nightgown in the prettiest of fabrics and laces. So I’m done with waiting and ready to make my own vintage inspired nightgowns.

This link will show you a nice image of the front of the original pattern http://vintagepatterns.wikia.com/wiki/Advance_4749

Making a nightgown in a similar style is going to require these things -> Pattern, fabric, thread, lining fabric (optional, you can use salvage from the fabric used for the outside of the fabric), lace or ribbon, scissors, measuring tape, sewing machine, sewing pins, sewing needle (optional but you will probably need one).

Fabric yardage needed-(based on a 45” width fabric/ longer version) yardage is an estimated 52” for the front skirt, same for the back, 15” width x 10” length for the bodice x 2, back panel of 9” length x 20” width x 2 = 140” in length which comes out to about 4 yards of fabric. For the shorter version which runs about knee length you will want about 2.75 yards of fabric for the version without the optional pieces mentioned below in the details on the sewing pattern pieces. This yardage will cover the top bodice, back bodice, front and back skirt. 

If you are making the entire outer garment out of the same material then you will also want to include an additional 14” to cut fabric for the waistband (cut on a fold at center front), and the scrap fabric left over will cover the shoulder straps.  

If you are including a lace overlay for the waistband and shoulder straps (over the fabric used for the bodice and skirt) you will also want to include that 14” measurement on a center fold in your fabric yardage as well. For the lining you will want about a ½ yard depending on the width but again, take a look at the pattern in relation to your measurements before purchasing the fabric to ensure the correct amount of fabric.

If you would like a shorter version or are using the same fabric for the lining as the outside fabric, you will need to recalculate the yardage needed. See below for this.

Pattern pieces: (10 total pattern pieces) Shoulder Straps (cut 2-if you would like a thin foam insert or interfacing here to provide more structure you will want to cut 2 of this material as well), Bodice (cut 2), Bodice Lining (cut 2), Front Waistband (cut 1 on fold), Upper Back (cut 1 for outer fabric on fold, 1 for lining), Front Skirt (cut 1 on fold), Back Skirt (cut 2)

Optional: Waistband Ties (I have 2 lengths, the first being shorter so you can cinch the back a little with a button in back, or longer if you would like long ties), Bodice Frill (this pattern piece offers a general width and length for your frill piece if you decide to include it with your nightgown. Cut 1), Bows (bows to include on each side where the bodice and shoulder strap meet, cut 2).

Cutting the fabric  -> cut all of the pieces out with the fabric folded in half lengthwise. Cut both front and back pieces of the skirt, then the bodice pieces, waistband, back, and then the salvage will be used for the front and back lining panels.

Notes: Testing 1-2-3 (placed here so that you may benefit from my testing before you make your own ;)

When creating the pattern and testing the results (over and over again) I used a variety of fabrics. I used an ivory satin in the longer style with a hidden side zipper. For the next version I used a light weight lavender and white printed knit in the longer style, and then I used a navy blue jersey and hot pink printed fabric made in the shorter version. Each test led me back to alterations on the pattern pieces themselves but in the end I was pleased with the results. 

I would have to say this pattern is moderately advanced. The style is very pretty and I found a knit fabric with a bit of give worked best so that you get that taught look around the rib cage but can get away with not having to add closure. If you are planning on going with a non-stretch fabric then I would recommend a hidden zipper or closure of some sort, or perhaps simply the ties as they will offer that slimming look. 

Make sure when you attach the bodice to the top of the waistband that you tuck the bodice pieces in toward the peaked center area before you sew them down so your bodice area provides decent coverage. If not then you will find the front will be too open and dips a bit too low. It might work for other patterns but due to the shape and placement of the waistband it is rather important to make sure it is tucked in appropriately or the shoulder straps will be out too far and you will be disappointed with the results. When adding the final hem allow about 2.5"-3" in the back of the skirt. 

In regards to making the pattern, I admit to having made many drafts and changes along the way. If you are making your own pattern my advice is to not be intimidated and just work on each piece at a time. If you can start with a paper pattern copy and then use scrap fabric you should be fine. I started with the shoulder straps. Then I made the bodice panels in front and this took a while to get perfect, mainly because the shape is set up against that peaked waistband but in the end after a few modifications I finally got it. I then moved onto the waistband and I tried this in a few different widths. In the end I settled on about 3" in width for this piece as it ends up being about 2.5" in width once you sew the pieces together. 

Once you have the waistband drafted up then the skirt piece is not too difficult to make. You will want to keep drawing down and outward from the waistband and you have your front skirt. The back skirt pattern piece is similar to the front only the back has a slight curve and a seam running down the center. I cut a back upper panel as well and with this I simply took the back skirt panel and laid it out and then traced upward above the V in back. I measured how high this should be based on my measurements and that of the front of the garment. I cut the back upper panel higher than needed in testing as I can always cut away what I don't need in the end but that way I was able to determine how high and wide I wanted it to be. If you are short on fabric and need to include a back center seam for the back upper panel this is fine and will not wreck the look. 

With the front and back ready to be put together lay your front piece out facing up. Align the back on top-fabric facing in-and pin where the peak seams meets but make sure when pinning that the front and back panels are the same width across before pinning down. If you have a center seam in back running down from the upper bodice you can tighten up the back. If not then you will want to make sure that your measurements in the torso equal those of your garment to ensure it fits properly. My advice would be to measure lots and lots! 

The finished garment is very flattering, even more so than I had hoped. It really is a nice cut, and definitely a new one for me. Knowing the original pattern was a 1940's styled garment I had assumed that as nice as the images were, the item would need some updating. In the end the only real change I made (well, as far as I can tell from the pictures of course) was the slimmer width of the shoulder blades. 

I added diamond accents in place of the bows as shown in the original pattern for the ivory satin nightgown. This is the wedding style and I like the accent so if you were thinking of bows they do look good in the shoulder strap-meets-bodice-area. This nightgown is really comfortable and looks great in the shorter version as well. I would also consider this pattern for the use of a slip and as a beach cover up. In the coming weeks you just might see both the nightgown and beach cover ups in this style. Once you see how fabulously slimming this is you will want a dozen more. I know I do and I can't believe I'm saying that since I have just made four new ones. I do have new projects to work on but this pattern is just as pretty as I had hoped!

Sewing Order-> Follow these steps below to ensure the easiest way to construct the garment.

Create the shoulder straps by sewing lengthwise with the fabric facing in, trimming the seams and then turning the straps right side out. You can also purchase the pieces for adjustable straps or the pre-made adjustable shoulder straps ready to sew in at your local sewing shop. I would recommend a shoulder strap no wider than ½” however it appears from the pattern that the straps are about 1” wide, and this is easier for turning in sewn shoulder straps. You can also purchase trim, and you will see trim that I used in the third test with the navy blue and printed nightgown.

Gather the lower part of the bodice pieces (2) and attach with a small seam at the center front to hold them together. Do the same for the bodice Lining (2). Place the shoulder straps facing down and pointing downward on top of the Bodice Front and sew the straps to the bodice.

Sew the bodice and bodice lining together around the top, stopping ¼” in from the side seams.
Sew the waistband to the bodice by aligning the pieces at the center peak and adding about 3 stitches across the top to hold the two together in alignment. 

Next pin down both sides and sew. Repeat the sewing so that the seam on the outside is clean visually and has straight lines. Sew the front Skirt panel to the waistband by aligning the pieces at the center peak and adding about 3 stitches across the peak to hold the two together in alignment. 
Pin down both sides and sew. Repeat the sewing so that the seam on the outside is clean visually and has straight lines.

Sew the upper back panel to the back skirt panel by aligning the pieces at the center peak and adding about 3 stitches across the peak to hold the two together in alignment. Next pin down both sides and sew. Repeat the sewing so that the seam on the outside is clean visually and has straight lines.

If you are adding side ties you will want to prepare those by sewing down one length, sewing one end and sewing up the other side, leaving the end open. Repeat with the other tie, trim the excess, turn in and press. Then you will want to sew a tie to the front on each side where the arrow points meet at the sides, fabrics facing. It will help if you pin the side ties in toward the front of the skirt as you work on the rest of the garment.

Align the front and back so that the waistband in front meets the peak in back, pin going up toward the top and down the length of the skirt on each side. Sew the side seams of the front and back together starting at ¼” below the top and ending at the bottom hem. Repeat with the other side seam. 

Trim as needed and pin the shoulder straps in back as marked on the pattern. Sew the strap on each side facing down, pin and sew the back lining panel across the back-fabrics facing, turn the bodice lining in and sew it down. I find it most helpful to either leave about ¼” seam on all areas so that I have an opportunity later on to tuck the fabric under and sew the seams clean but if you do not have enough seam allowance for this just take a sewing needle and sew it down by hand.

If you are adding a few additional embellishments you will do so now. If adding a frill you will gather and then trim, pin the frill starting in back and sewing it down around the top bodice all the way around and ending in back where the frill ends meet. If you are going with a bow on each side where the bodice and shoulder straps meet, you will prepare and add those at this time. Simply sew the straps lengthwise, turn in, sew the little end and tie into a bow and sew down. If you have added a short side tie with a button in back then you will want to add the button hole and button at this time.

Now all you have to do at this point is finish up the bottom hem and you will want to fold the nightgown lengthwise down the center and even out the bottom hem into a slight curve *leaving about 2.5"-3" longer in back. Trim to the desired length, leaving about 2” for the double hem. I add a zigzag stitch, trim and turn in once more and sew the final hem.

You are now finished! Hello dreamy time nightgown…

You look fabulous darling…

One of the first things I mentioned when making this project was that you need a pattern. I realize many of you would rather purchase a pattern than make your own and since I have already done all of the hard work, I decided to make this one I drafted up available over @ Craftzies (the image above says Sophia because the custom nightgowns in this style will be available in the next few weeks over on my Sophia clothing shop ;). 

The price for the sewing pattern will be $27 with $5.50 shipping in the states, $8 to Canada and $11 shipping everywhere else internationally. 

The paper used for the prints is a white print shop paper. I have a few different sizes available for the patterns -> 6-8-10 or 12-14-16. Please specify the size you would like in the comments section when ordering. TY J

p.s. If you are comparing my pattern design here with the original pattern (lucky you for having an original copy ;) I will say that I do hope I did the pattern justice in relation to the original, but again, I do not have an original to compare so you may find a slight modification or two with mine. I did my best though ;)

Have a dreamy New Year!