Leopard-Print Ponte Party (or, the Lola Dress)

Since joining the Mood Sewing Network, I’ve really enjoyed sewing with new-to-me types of fabrics. It’s really pushed me to develop my skills and do more research before I cut into a new fabric instead of just grabbing the shears and going crazy. Today, however, I’m revisiting a fabric type that I used once before to make a garment that was an irreconcilable failure… ponte!

I’ve never purchased or really seen garments made out of ponte, but once I started reading rave reviews of it, I was curious! So about a year ago, I picked out a gorgeous black ponte from Mood and admired its heft and drape before stitching up Megan Nielsen’s ruched maternity skirt for my sister. What I didn’t realize is that ponte and stretchy jerseys aren’t necessarily interchangeable. If I’d slowed down and actually read the pattern envelope I would’ve noticed that Megan recommended jerseys with 40% stretch or more, so when I tried the skirt on myself for comparison, I could barely wiggle into it, and I wasn’t pregnant! I couldn’t figure out a way to refashion it into something wearable (it was seriously TIGHT on me), so the whole thing is still buried somewhere in my scrap pile.

When I found this awesome gray leopard-print ponte, I knew it was time to try again! I looked in my copy of Claire Schaeffer’s Fabric Sewing Guide, but couldn’t find a reference to ponte. So I went to the best reference, the Encyclopaedia Ponteanica, otherwise known as Carolyn! She’s the patron saint of ponte, and makes incredible, cool garments with it alllllll the time. I asked her to share her secrets for working with ponte, and I’m so glad she did– my instincts were all wrong! She pretreats the fabric by machine washing, tumble drying, and pressing it. Then she sews with a straight stitch and a universal needle, size 80 for medium-weights and 90 for heavier pontes. Easy peasy!

Once I settled on a pattern, though, I realized that I could construct this entire dress on my serger. Score! It came together in a flash, and the fabric was so easy to serge and press. The recommended fabrics for this pattern are French terry, fleece knit, or other medium-weight fabrics with a slight stretch, and I found ponte to be a great choice. It’s stable and drapey, and has about the same amount of stretch as sweatshirt fleece, but it’s a little less casual. The pattern suggests using ribbing for the bands (to finish the sleeves, hem, and neckline), so if you want to use ponte or another less-stretchy self-fabric, just be prepared to cut them longer than the provided pattern pieces.

I used the Victory Patterns Lola Dress pattern, which I highly recommend. It’s cute, sporty, and crazy easy to construct.  I’m rapidly becoming a Victory Patterns superfan– Kristiann’s designs are just so modern and fun!  Check them out if you haven’t already (and you now have the option to purchase her designs as paper patterns, if you’re someone who hates PDFs… Rachel, I’m looking at you!  LOL!)  I made a straight size 4 with no changes (unless you count skipping the little triangle at the neckline… my serger kept eating it… whoops).

The whole time I was sewing this, I looked forward to pairing it with my awesome fuchsia tights.  It would look SO AMAZING with fuchsia, right?  So when I finished up, I ran to my closet and started digging.  Turns out that not only could I not find my awesome fuchsia tights, but once I started thinking about it… I don’t actually own any.  And never have.  I IMAGINED THEM.  IMAGINARY FUCHSIA TIGHTS.  Anyway.  I need to A) make some fuchsia tights and B) get my head checked.  Moving on…

Super big pockets for the pocket enthusiasts out there!

I really, really love this dress! It’s beyond easy to wear and I don’t have to worry about carefully hand-washing it and lying it flat to dry. I’ve never worn or been a fan of knit dresses before– I feel you can see every last lump, bump, and panty line– but this stable ponte provides plenty of coverage. This dress passed the ultimate wearability test, too– I wore it to WORK. Folks, I’ve worn a dress to work exactly once in the last five years (and I had a pair of shorts on underneath!). Granted, I’m in an office now, but still, this is a huge deal.

What about you guys?  How do you dress for work, if you work outside the home?  Knit dresses– yea or nay?  Have you sewn with ponte?  Have you sewn any Victory Patterns designs?

Ginger Made: The “Oona Made Me Do It” Simone Top!

Friends.  The internet is a dangerous and scary place.  One minute you’re innocently setting up a Twitter account, and the next you’re accepting dares from a madwoman!  BE VERY, VERY CAREFUL.  Gillian‘s #sewingdares spread like wildfire!

Obviously, I’m no sissy, so I immediately agreed to this dare and headed to Mood with Oona and friends!

This is what happened.

photo stolen from oonaballoona

Oona pulled many the bolt of fabric down and wrapped me in colors and prints from head to toe.  It was a difficult decision, but, like the loose cannon she is, Oona decided at the last minute to up the ante and dare me to use TWO prints.  WHAT?  I’m a plain Jane, yo!  I do NOT mix prints!

But.  I’ve been looking for justification to download the super rad and sporty Simone Top from Victory Patterns, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity.  Is it not crazy cute?  I thought its modern lines worked well with these abstract prints, and it felt like a good way to mix patterns.  Plus I just really wanted an excuse to buy it.

Speaking of patterns, let’s talk about the fabric for a minute!  The blue fabric with the larger print is sold in 1-yard panels, which made the yardage perfect for a top rather than a dress.  It’s a stretchy silk blend of some sort.  The gray and orange fabric is silk charmeuse (I used the wrong, less-shiny side).  I had a sudden inspiration to separate these two partners in crime with handmade piping (chartreuse!)– I love the extra pop of color it provides, even if it’s a bit over the top!

I really liked both the main fabric and the contrast, but they were a nightmare to stitch together.  The slippery charmeuse and the stretchy blend slithered and bunched together around the curves of the placket and back yoke– it wasn’t pretty.  I unpicked those seams so many times that I eventually lost count (even though I hand basted all of the seams before machine stitching!!), and it definitely took a toll on the fabric (and my psyche… I cried… SEVERAL TIMES…).  I was ELATED when I finally finished it!

Let’s just pretend that I’m not so pale and slouchy. The back is way cute, though, yeah?

As far as the pattern goes, I took the liberty of raising the armscyes by about 1″ from the get-go since that was an adjustment I needed to make in another of Kristiann’s patterns, but then I trimmed them back unscientifically.  Since my main fabric was stretchy, I skipped the zipper and I can just squeeze into it.  Win!

I think Oona was acting as my spirit animal or something because for some reason I went rogue and totally skipped making a muslin.  I didn’t even check flat pattern measurements!  It strains a little bit at the bust… whoops.  But I can totally live with the fit.  Even though I can’t close the top at the neckline.

What?  I TOLD you I didn’t make a muslin.  Don’t be like that.

This pic is so terrible that it would be wrong to deprive you of seeing it.

So, what do you think of this?  Am I channeling our beloved Oona?  Did I do her fabric choices justice?  Would you let her pick out fabric for you?  Who’s in on a sewing dare?

Victory Patterns Giveaway Winner!

Hi, guys!  Sorry I’m so late choosing a winner– this week we started production on the new show I’m working on, and it’s been CRAZY!  So my apologies.  Also, random.org appears to be down today, so I used a new-to-me random number generator from stattrek.com.

Image

Without further ado, the winner is Lynne from Ozzy Blackbeard!  Congrats, Lynne! 

Also, if you haven’t seen the post yet, Kristiann released four new Victory Patterns this week– go check them out!  Happy sewing, Lynne!

Ginger Freebie: Victory Patterns!

****THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED****

Remember how I promised a giveaway that would be open to everyone?  Well, here it is!  I’m a big fan of indie pattern  companies, and Victory Patterns has some of the cutest designs around (not to mention an owner that is INCREDIBLY nice!)!  I so enjoyed the Chloe dress pattern that I want to offer you guys the chance to make your own (or any other of Kristiann’s adorable patterns)!

Somebody make this one!! It’s ADORBS!!

To enter, just leave a comment below telling me which pattern is your favorite by 11:59PM EST on Wednesday, August 8th, and I’ll draw a winner!  Anyone can enter, no matter where you live, and you don’t need to follow my blog or have a blog of your own.  Yay!  Good luck, everybody!

I think I’m gonna make this one in the fall. Cute, huh?!

Ginger Made: Chloe Dress

Why, hello, everyone, and a happy Monday to you!  Hope you all had smashing weekends!  After what feels like decades, I finally have a finished object to show you!  I guess it hasn’t been THAT long, but I spent four solid weekends working on this dress.

This is the Chloe dress from Victory Patterns.  I really like the lines of this dress– it feels very classic, but also kind of mod.  I wanted to keep things very clean and simple, but also a bit dressy, so I used silk taffeta from Mood.  I love the body and weight of taffeta– it’s so luxe!  I’ve never sewed with silk of any kind before, so it was really exciting to use something so fancy!

Pockets!

Silk does present a few challenges.  I hand-washed it prior to cutting out the pattern, which softened it up quite a bit, but also made it CRAZY wrinkly.  Seriously– I spent an entire evening pressing out the creases in the fabric!  Fortunately it’s not crazy slippery or unstable, so it wasn’t that difficult to sew.  It’s tough to press the seams sharply with your iron on the low silk setting– my seam allowances don’t want to lie flat, and the seams aren’t quite as smooth as I would like.  Worst of all, after the dress was assembled, I serged the seams, and the seams got so puckery and wrinkly in the back that I almost gave up and threw out the whole project!  I’m still not sure what I did wrong– I checked the tension and tested it out on scraps of taffeta with no sign of trouble, but after I had serged everything, I noticed that the seams were all bunched up and uneven.  This didn’t happen to the seams in the front, or to the separate bottom band– wha?!  It looks OK when I press it like crazy, but after wearing for a little bit (read: minutes), it wrinkles up and looks terrible.  Ugh!  Any suggestions for what I could do to fix it?  I’m planning to just rip out all the seams and restitch them, but since I’m not really sure what went wrong the first time, I’m not sure what I should avoid the next time around!  I wish the copy of Claire Shaeffer’s Fabric Sewing Guide that I ordered on Oona‘s suggestion was here already– I have a feeling it will help to clarify what’s wrong.

I can’t believe I’m showing you guys this horror. Every part of me wants to delete this picture, only look at myself from the front, and pretend like this sh*tshow isn’t happening behind me!

The dress is fully lined with silk crepe de chine, which feels amazing, but it’s a complete bear to cut and sew.  I spent FOREVER cutting out the pieces, and I have no idea if they’re on grain or not as the fabric kept shifting and wiggling, even with tissue paper and pattern weights to stabilize it.  But it feels great against the skin and is nice and light– perfect for lining a summer dress!

As far as the pattern goes, I really like how this turned out.  Everything went together smoothly and I didn’t have to make any adjustments other than lengthening the dress by 2″ (this sucker is short!).  I really should have raised the armscyes, but I didn’t notice how low they were in the muslin stage (whoops!) and I didn’t want the dress to be any shorter, so I didn’t raise it at the shoulders.  I may go back and add a little wedge of fabric under the arms.  Ha!  I guess this dress isn’t a finished object after all!

I wanted to add a little more of the contrast color to this dress, so I drafted a bottom band.  It’s really simple to do, but I would be happy to explain it in greater detail if anyone is interested.

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