Summer bicycling dress

Happy Birthday, Sir Paul McCartney!  ❤  And what does Sir Paul’s birthday have to do with this dress?  Answer:  I wore it to his concert last July.  I finished the dress around this time last summer; just a couple of weeks before he was coming to town.  That made it super easy to decide what to wear to the concert.

Pink dress front

This dress met several objectives–

  • It is ‘bike-able’, meaning the skirt is loose enough to enable mounting the bike and pedaling.  A little bit of spandex in the fabric helps with that too.  The skirt is just long enough that I don’t flash passing drivers.  The fabric is a twill which makes the skirt a bit sturdier in a wind.
  • The dress has built-in reflector motifs for visibility.
  • And last but not least, the fabric came from my stash.  Every bit of stash reduction helps.

Pink dress reflector bodice

Why did I choose this dress for the McCartney concert?  Obviously, because it has a Swinging 60s look.  But there’s more.  I thought maybe when the stage lights panned the crowd, the reflective elements of my dress would light up.  I don’t know if it was visible from the stage, but it was fun wondering if I stood out in the crowd a teeny bit. 🙂

More views of the reflective details:

For biking, I added a kick pleat in the back, and gave it a strip of reflective fabric, too.Pink dress reflector kick pleat

The reflective buttons were made with reflective tape and a covered button kit.  IMG_20180618_132658800

Pink dress mirror selfie b

I ran; I sewed; I read

I ran.  

This morning was my fave annual 10k trail run.  There were muddy creek crossings. STD creek crossing 2 2018

STD muddy hand

STD muddy legs

There was a dam to scale.  It was ‘dam’ high and steep.  STD dam wide shotSTD dam

And then came the descent.  STD dam top view

I stayed on my feet for the descent, but in my mind I was one misstep away from doing a spectacular tumble a la Gloucestershire Cheese Roll-style.

At the race finish, a little mud wasn’t going to stop me from savoring a delicious juicy orange.  STD orange

I sewed.  

When getting dressed for the race this morning, I noticed my HRM (heart rate monitor) was way too loose.  I cinched it down to its smallest, but it was still too loose.  The several-years-old elastic was giving out.  So, I quickly threaded the sewing machine with black, and cut a big 9-inch section of elastic out of the band.

Garmin strap repair 1

Then I sewed the shortened band pieces back together.  Garmin strap repair 2

I put the shortened HRM back on, and it was still too big, so I took it off, cut out another 6 inches.  And sewed it together again.  Then it fit, and I was off to the races…literally.  Garmin strap repair 3

I read.

Back home after the race, I plopped myself onto the couch and re-dedicated myself to reading A Confederacy of Dunces.  I’d started it long ago, and liked it, but then set it aside, forgotten.  Now it is one of the books in the Great American Read list, and it is my choice for the Read.

A Confederacy of Dunces

 

Turtleneck stash busting

Yes, there is such a thing as a turtleneck stash.  Mine was becoming ridiculous.  I wear turtlenecks solo, and under everything from dresses, to sweaters, to t-shirts.  After months and years of washings and wearings, some start to fade.  Some shrink vertically, and become too short in the body and sleeves.  Some develop a bulkier, boxy shape, that doesn’t fit well under other garments.

This winter I summoned the courage to start carving them up.  I loved the resulting composite pieces.  I lengthened sleeves and torsos, and converted regular t-shirts into long-sleeved turtlenecks.

IMG_20180402_162739867-aw rsr(All photos taken under the watchful eye of the pupervisor.)

I attend a lot of college basketball and football games, so wearing a color-blocked garment turned out to be a great way to ‘represent’.

Color blocking made layering more fun.  IMG_20180402_164246137-aw rsr

The color blocked garments were versatile. IMG_20180402_175041886-aw rsr

I also tried lengthening the torso by inserting a band in the middle.  This brown and grey one doesn’t look smooth in the picture, but it actually looks fine when worn.

IMG_20180402_170801338-aw rsr

The turtleneck stash had outgrown the drawer, and then the shelve(s) dedicated to their storage.  Even after cutting and combining several of them, I still have a bunch of old turtlenecks that need to be boxed up for donation.  That will happen once turtleneck wearing season is over.

 

Coco dress and the pup-prentice

After seeing many great examples in the blogosphere, of the Coco dress pattern by Tilly and the Buttons, I finally downloaded the pattern and gave it my own try.  The pattern is wildly popular, and now I know why.  It was fast to make, the fit perfect, and the style cute and comfortable.  There’s no need for me to do a full pattern review.  It’s been done elsewhere, by better reviewers.  You might want to start by checking out the Coco Pinterest gallery.

So, about my version:  I went wild with the print.  This fabric had been sitting on my stash shelf for several years.  It is a spandex swimsuit knit.

dress mannequin - rsr

This fabric is stretchier and lighter weight than the pattern recommends.  But, it worked really well, with the exception of the collar, which drapes like a cowl instead of staying rolled in place.  For lightweight fabric such as this, I suggest using an interfacing in the collar for extra body.

Because the print isn’t crazy enough (hehe), I went through my stash of trims, and added some stripes down the arms.  I’m super happy with the result.

Dress sleeves - rsr

New phone camera doesn’t do so well on mirror selfies. 😡   Not sure if it is the mirror or lighting.  But here is the dress at the end of its first wearing to the office.

dress - rsr

When I originally purchased the fabric, it was to make some quick, wild summer car seat slipcovers.  Those worked out great, too.  But I bought way too much fabric, and the rest sat on the shelf, almost going in the donation box more than once.

The ‘Pup-prentice’

I can’t forget to credit my foster ‘pup-prentice’.  He insisted on helping at every step; even when it meant crawling under my chair and up through the sewing cabinet.

 

dress2 - rsr w pupprentice

 

Jeans waist, not waste

I made an executive decision last week, to ban low-rise jeans from my person.  I despise the old low-rise trend; can’t stand wearing them.  They never feel right.

Low-rise jeans are also bad for the body, I think.  They ruin posture and cause expanding waistlines.  They promote slouching and spreading, because slouching and spreading the hips is what you have to do to keep them in place.

The pair of low-rise skinny jeans that caused this epiphany, still has some wear in them, and I like the color and weight.  When I endured the misery yet again of wearing them last week, I resolved to either fix the waist or be content to ruin them trying.

Result:  Waist is fixed!

The jeans before:

  • Low waistband in front;
  • High enough in back;
  • Tiny zipper.

Jeans before--RSR

Here’s how the process went:

  • Unzip the zipper.
  • Detach the front belt loops from the body of the jeans.  (They can probably stay attached to the top of the waistband.)
  • Cut the waistband off, from the center front to the side seam.

Jeans cut waist--RSR

Important:  Do not zip up the zipper.  With the waistband out of the way, there may not be a stop to keep the zipper pull from coming off at the top.  Instead, keep the zipper pulled down, and use pins to position the fly until the insert is sewn in place.

Pin the pockets and zipper to hold them in place.

Jeans cut waist full--RSR

Put the jeans on and identify where the waistband naturally feels right.

Jeans waistband fit--RSR

Cut two pieces of denim to insert in the open space across the front.  The pieces should be roughly the same shape as the open space, but slightly larger than the space on all sides.

Jeans insert--RSR

With the waistband moved out of the way, sew each insert piece to the body of the jeans, right sides together.

Jeans seam--RSR

Flip the insert piece over, and the seam looks like this.

Jeans seam after--RSR

Put the jeans on again, to identify the waistband placement on the insert, and pin the waistband in place.

Topstitch the waistband onto the insert fabric.  (Make sure the belt loops are out of the way of the stitching)

Jeans waistband placement--RSR

Trim the insert fabric even with the top of the waistband.  Fold the center front excess to the inside and topstitch in place.  Inside out, the insert will look like this:

Jeans finished inside--RSR

You will need something to close the gap where the zipper is too short.  I used velcro.  It was easy to place and stitch, and holds the gap closed.  I first added the long velcro shown next to the zipper.  That wasn’t effective.  The short piece above the zipper worked, and was actually easier to put on.

Jeans velcro--RSR

Finished look:

Jeans modeling after--RSR

The insert has a slight indented look, for some reason that I haven’t tried to figure out.  I don’t care.  The waistband feels great.

Sound of Music Dress

So, I was making this dress, but was attacked by a months-long spell of whatever is the sewing equivalent of writer’s block.  Then came the breakthrough.  And then another breakthrough, and ta-da!  The dress is complete.

Long story short:  I was trying to make a dress of this cut and construction, worn last year by the Duchess of Cambridge.

Kate-Royal-Solomon-Islands-Mulberry-Midnight-Blue-Eyelet-Dress

[Images from WhatKateWore.com–a great blog!]

But I didn’t like the silhouette it created in my chosen fabric.  So the half-constructed dress hung on my dress form for months, with the gathered skirt held in place with straight pins.  I started adding silly things to it–beads, a belt, a jacket, etc.  I didn’t take a photo at that time, so this is a recreation of the sad ensemble.

IMG_3972a

IMG_3971a

Then I stopped seeing it in the room altogether.  Then I saw the picture of the Duchess wearing that dress again, and resolved to complete my dress, love or hate it.

I put it on and stood in front of the full length mirror.  Then I unpinned the skirt to try adjusting the waistline.  But when the skirt was off and I saw the straight portion (which I had not yet cut to length), I had my first AHA moment.  It looks better as a straight, sleeveless shift.  So, finishing it simply meant adding a back closure, armhole facings, and hem.  Done.

IMG_3970a

At that point, I mostly liked the boxy shape of the dress, but wanted to take out just a bit of the fullness.  I did not want to belt it or add darts.  I was considering back pleats.  Then came the second AHA moment.  I don’t know how this one happened, but thank goodness it did.  I took two strips of fabric and criss-crossed them on the back.

It pulled the perfect amount of fullness away from the front…,IMG_3976a

and gave the back a distinct softly gathered look.  I love the result.IMG_3975a

Here is the dress on me. IMG_3980c IMG_3982b

(And yes, that is a bit of armhole facing that I didn’t get tucked in.  Argh.)

To put the dress on and take it off, I just need to unbutton it at the neck back, and unbutton the sashes at the bottom, and slip it over my head.  IMG_3977a

I’m calling it the “Sound of Music Dress,” because the fabric is from some old curtains I never liked.Curtain moment

I’m also calling it the “five-rectangle dress,” because it is made out of rectangles of fabric. The body is all one rectangle, seamed up the back and shoulders, with armholes and a neckline cut in and faced.  The collar pieces are rectangles, and the criss-cross in the back is also of course, made of rectangles.

I still want to make a dress like the one I started out to make.  So it’s back to the drawing board for another try.