Author Archives: Kristine Balinski

Vogue 1387: Panel Chiffon Blouse

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I found this lovely chiffon print on the bargain table at Haberman Fabrics around March, can you believe it? It screams “summer” to me, but I had so much trouble deciding what garment to make with it. Dress? Skirt? Top? I draped it on my dressform over and over, dug through my patterns over and over… I just couldn’t decide what to do with it. I posted a pic of the fabric on Instagram and a sewing friend (Sewing to Soothe My Soul) commented that she had bought the exact same fabric! A few weeks ago I enlisted her help to motivate me to move forward on this project before the summer ended, by asking her to also stitch up her cut and report back. As she posted her first progress picture on Instagram, I was immediately motivated! It worked!!!

Vogue 1387 is a Rebecca Taylor pattern with two different blouses. I chose the short sleeve pullover version. “Top has self-lined yokes, front pleats, shaped hemline, and very narrow hem. A: Front longer than back, sleeveless, surplice neckline, pullover, fitted through bust, no shoulder seams, elasticized tie ends for casing, underarm inset, and armhole bands.” Even though it’s described as “sleeveless”, I would say it has more of a cap sleeve. I really loved the design details and casual beauty of this top.

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Fabric: 2 yards of 60″ wide chiffon panel print from Haberman Fabrics in Royal Oak, MI. $4.98/yd, so this cute top can in under $10! The pattern layout was quite challenging though, since I wanted to make the best use of the panel print, and had only 2 yards to work with.

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Did I mention how much I hate single layer cuts???

Modifications: I strayed from the pattern instructions in a few places, mostly because I have a serger, didn’t feel the need to do french seams, and because my fabric was sheer. I skipped the front facing and back yoke, since I wanted to keep the blouse sheer all over. I straight-stitched along the seam line, then serged the edge to finish it cleanly, pressed it over and stitched it down. I also used my serger to finish the bottom with a narrom rolled hem and zig-zagged the elastic onto the waist seam.

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I’m really pleased with the final outcome, I think it highlights the panel print perfectly! I also love the style and wearability of the top, that it will work for both work and going out, with jeans or with pencil skirt.

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I will warn you that the shoulder/armhole pieces are a little challenging, as the outer part is cut on the bias (so I couldn’t match the prints) and there is an inner  armhole piece that gets stitched inside for coverage under the arm. It was a little fussy/frustrating, but again, my serger leaves everything so neat, that I really can’t complain. I also skipped the buttonholes on the front and simply tacked the waist tie bow to the front center.

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On the back, I was able to place the back shoulder yoke pieces to take advantage of another print feature (Yay!), but now notice that my lower back flounce print placement was a little lopsided. (Boo!). Got very lucky on the stripe matching on the back from center piece to lower flounce (Woohoo!)

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In conclusion, I’m thrilled with the outcome! The “happy print” of the fabric was well matched with this feminine blouse and I’m quite proud of myself for powering through the “frustration factor” of the chiffon. I’ll definitely be using this pattern again, in fact I’m almost done with a UFO of the other long-sleeved version! Looking forward to “twinning” with my sewing buddy at a future #DetroitSews event or sewing class!

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Vogue 1502: Think Outside the Box

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Sometimes your inspiration image at the start of the project doesn’t match the final product! This project started when I saw the model on the pattern envelope and really liked the dress. But, as the project progressed, things changed…

Vogue 1502

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I’m not much for maxi dresses, and the yardage required (5 yds of 60″ wide) didn’t fit anything in my fabric stash, especially not chiffon. I pulled some chiffon that I had, thinking that if I shortened the dress, I’d have enough fabric, but that wasn’t the case. After looking closer at the pattern envelope, I noticed that the fabric recommendations included “border prints”, so I reached for a recent fabric purchase that ended up being perfect! And away we go…

Fabric: 3 lovely yards of navy blue Rayon Batik border print from Haberman Fabrics, purchased earlier this spring. I spied it on a rolling cart, it hadn’t even made it to the sales floor display yet! I can’t resist blue and white dress prints…

Pattern: Vogue 1502 (Tracy Reese)
‘Lined, floor-length dress has close-fitting bodice with front dart tucks, scoop neckline, midriff, back inset, shoulder straps, under bodice, raised waist, side-front and side-back seams on skirt, invisible side zipper, very narrow hem, narrow hem on three-quarter length sleeves, and French seams. Neck binding, facings for underbodice, and continuous bias to finish zipper and armholes.”

Lined? Nope, didn’t do that. The fabric was not sheer and I used my serger to finish all the seams and hems, so French seams weren’t necessary either.

Floor length? Nope, trimmed the skirt pattern pieces down to 24″ in length.

Invisible Zipper? Nope. When I attached the skirt to the bodice, I was able to slip it on with the side seam basted, so I skipped the zipper.

Three-quarter length sleeves: Nope. I had every intention of keeping the sleeves, I even made great use of the border and had excellent print placement! But, when I slipped the dress on after attaching the skirt, the dress just said “I’m an effortless, warm weather dress. Wear me on sunny days with your hair up!” and the sleeves just seemed… matronly and heavy to me. I hate to waste fabric, but it just seemed like the dress was more flattering on me without the sleeves. Here’s the picture I posted on Instagram seeking feedback, and the vast majority of the comments said, “Sleeveless!!!”

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Construction: I followed the pattern’s instructions for guidance, but made changes along the way, since my fabric wasn’t sheer. For example, the inner “lining” (a cami top and mini skirt) weren’t necessary, although I did require the back bodice lining piece for coverage. I added about 1.5″ to the top edge for additional coverage (to hide the bra strap at center back) and attached the lining piece to the back bodice pieces along the side seams. However, I still needed to tack the lining piece to the sides of the deep “V”, as it was very drapey and wouldn’t stay up where I needed it.

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The ties are a perfect length, even with the shorter skirt. I just made the bow loops a little longer to pick up the slack, and also realized that I could wrap them around my back and tie them in the front for another cute belting option.

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This project is an excellent reminder that the picture on the pattern envelope, which is extremely fashionable and a beautiful garment, may not resemble your finished garment, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing! It’s important to look beyond the fabric selection, the length, or the sleeve type, and really look at a garment for it’s “bones”… the design details, the opportunities for thinking outside the box. If I’d ignored this pattern because I’m not a fan of maxi dresses on my body type, I would’ve missed out on a spectacular use for a special fabric in my stash! My favorite parts are all here: the deep v-back, the border print, the flattering style lines. I’m pretty sure I’ll reach for this pattern again, as the construction was very straightforward and the dress really has 4-season opportunity, depending on the fabric selection and the sleeve! Two thumbs up for Vogue 1502 and don’t be afraid to stray from the “norm”!

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Two-Piece Lace Wedding Dress

I have a friend with a heart of gold. She is beautiful inside and out, is kind and generous, just an amazing person all around.  When she asked if 2 months would be enough time to make her wedding dress, I said, “We’d better get started!”

Inspiration: Lace topped two-piece dresses from Pinterest. Full length gathered skirt with a cropped, lace top. Scalloped lace at the bodice hem, and ivory fabrics were the priorities.

Lauren's Inspirations

Sketch: After trying on different styles, she had an even clearer idea of what she wanted, so I sketched this to make sure that was the vision in her mind’s eye.

 

Sketches for Lauren

Pattern: McCalls 6893

McCalls 6893 (skirt and bandeau)McCalls 6893 (lace bodice)

This pattern had the long gathered skirt with a sheer over-layer, a waistband, a sweetheart neckline underneath, and a sheer bodice over layer. By separating the skirt from the bodice at the waistband, we had a two-piece look.

 

Fabrics: Haberman Fabrics has the most amazing and complete wedding fabrics, supplies, and accessories in Michigan. This is the bridal fabrics room and the wall of laces to choose from!

 

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My friend chose a stunning ivory Chantilly lace with a soft floral pattern and scalloped edge.

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We also purchased Silk charmeuse and silk chiffon, lining (nude), silk covered buttons and looping by the yard, and notions.

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Construction: I started with the skirt, since that would be the fastest, easiest, and most straight-forward of the ensemble pieces to make.  The only issue I had was the static cling between the chiffon and the charmeuse, making the skirt appear to have a single layer of fabric, rather than two. Careful application (by spraying on my hands and spreading, not directly on the fabric) of sizing/starch seemed to help.

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The bride was in need of “something blue”, so I also stitched their wedding date into the waistband.

Date

The sweetheart bandeau was constructed next, and made of silk charmeuse. I shortened the bodice pattern pieces, didn’t use any boning, and used bra closure hooks and eyes for the center back closure.

Silk Bandeau

The lace bodice top was the most detailed and required the most thought and care. The lace alone was too sheer, so by underlining it with chiffon, it still remained sheer but gave the top a much softer look. I was very careful in the placement of the lace motif, using the scalloped edge at the hem and placing the “floral spray” woven into the lace at center front. I hand-stitched the chiffon at the scalloped edge, trimming the excess away, and hand-stitched the neckline, armscye, and all 21 satin buttons at the center back.

Bodice

 

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The cap sleeve was the last addition, as the bride was really on the fence about having sleeves or not. I drafted them by using the top of the sleeve pattern piece, but only using about 4″ from the cap and leaving the underarm area open. By not adding the chiffon underneath, the sleeves were more sheer, and the scalloped edge gave the top an added soft and feminine touch.

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Full Length Front

Full Length Back

Conclusion: The bride said it was “perfect, exactly what I had in my mind!”, and the groom said it’s the “most beautiful dress, it took my breathe away”.  I’m so glad and honored that I was able to help make their wedding day more perfect!

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A Perfect Coat for Fall

IMG_9325 (2) Sometimes a garment starts with the pattern… Sometimes with a picture from a magazine. This coat started when I laid eyes on the bold print wrapped around a dress form at Haberman Fabrics. The black wings on an ivory field spoke to me, but at the time it was 90 degrees outside and fuzzy wools weren’t begging to be worked with! But a few days later, when I couldn’t stop thinking about that bold print, I ordered up a few yards and started looking for the perfect pattern.

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Butterick 6254 (by Katherine Tilton) was just what I had in mind, with a good length to showcase the large print. With the raglan type sleeve, it also gave me the chance to add in a nice solid contrast, which I found at Joann’s as a nice black embroidered faux leather. The vintage button closures were found at the American Sewing Expo, and are a lovely mix of mostly black with a swirl of grey swimming inside. Acrylic Blend Coating: 2.5 yds, 60″ wide. Embroidered leather: 1.5 yds, 60″ wide. 9 large buttons and snaps.IMG_9329 (2)

I left it unlined, as the weather right now is just a bit chilly… but, I know that colder temps are coming, so I’ll likely add a lining that can be added/removed with the changing seasons. The wings were actually printed on the crossgrain, so I was very careful as I cut the front pieces, making sure that the thinner “band of birds” was centered properly and that the left and right sides matched with the few smaller horizontal stripes. I used an additional band of birds so that the left and right front bands would match, as well.

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My favorite thing about the print is the strong vertical strip of winds on the back, with the negative colored birds centered in the wings’ reflection. There is a “southwest vibe” to the print (if you look near my hips, you’ll see a sideways long horn skull), but to me it says “winter’s coming”, with the absence of color, with lots of white and tones of gray. Regardless, it’s quite warm and exactly what I was hoping when I envisioned it as I began!

Here’s a close-up of the contrast and the leather in the back with the top-stitching. My only regret is not taking more care along that top back seam to make the embroidery match, but those pieces were quite large and I didn’t think I had enough fabric to make it work.

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All in all, I’m quite pleased with it. It’s so soft and cozy, and I absolutely love the mix of hard and soft. One of a kind, and all mine!

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From Wedding to Baptism

 

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What do you do with your wedding dress after the big day? Preserve and store it away in hopes that someday your daughter or granddaughter may want to wear it? This lucky lady has always wanted her gown made into baptismal outfits for her grandchildren. It’s something that I’m told she’s wanted done for a long time, so when her 50th birthday rolled around this year, her daughter thought that this would be a great gift for the future grandchildren (there aren’t any yet)!

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The dress was originally worn in the early 90s, with a bodice of heavily embroidered and beaded lace and a skirt of silk taffeta. The short sleeves were quite voluminous, with additional beading and the back of the skirt (when not bustled) contained a nice amount of extra fabric.

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Since the gender of the future grandchildren are unknown, we agreed that making a gown for a girl and a romper for a boy made the most sense. Butterick 6045 was the ideal pattern because it contained both garments (along with additional accessory items like booties and a bonnet).

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I carefully deconstructed the dress, removing the many foundation layers beneath the skirt (lining, crinoline with netting) and when I further took the skirt apart, found 7 panels of taffeta to work with. The storage box had been involved in a basement flood, so there were some minor water marking stains on the skirt, but I was able to work around it. The bodice lace was stitched into the bodice seams, so I had narrow sections of the lace to work with, but thankfully there was a piece large enough to get the baby girl bodice front cut from completely.

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The sleeves were voluminous and I very much wanted to make use of the same sleeve motifs in the baby girl gown. You can see how the baby sleeve size compares to the wedding dress sleeve!
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Beneath the skirt of the wedding gown was a satin trimmed crinoline, which I felt also needed to be included.  It definitely adds some volume to the baptismal gown!
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The baby boy romper was much more straight forward, with no lace. The buttons were purchased, as the only other buttons on the original wedding dress were the ones for bustling the skirt and were just a tad too plain (clear and flat). Snap closures were also purchased and hand-stitched to close the bottom of the romper pants and also on the back of both garments to keep them closed.

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There was enough fabric in the skirt of the wedding dress to also used it as a lining and to make the sleeve double layered (as a single layer was a little sheer. I left the sleeves open on the girl gown (used elastic on the bottom of the boy sleeves) and added a satin ribbon at the waist to better differentiate the bodice from the skirt.

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IMG_2240 (2)The floral motif on the skirt was a final addition, as there were two more embroidered roses left and I felt that I really added a nice touch to the skirt. There was an entire skirt panel remaining untouched and a fair amount of lace, if there was ever the need for an additional keepsake, like a bridal purse or “something old”.

All in all, I’m so grateful that I had the opportunity to do this project, as it’s something that I’ve always wanted to try and do.  Looking forward to the chance to do it again!

 

 

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Wedding Dress Remake

FullSizeRender_1I’ve always loved the legacy of heirloom garments. I know that many young ladies don’t want to wear their mother or grandmother’s dress, as the style may no longer be in fashion. The garment is still important though, and I’ve always loved the idea of remaking it into something a little bit different, perhaps for another special occasion.

I was given this extraordinary honor recently, as a friend has always known that her mother wanted her wedding dress turned into baptismal garments for her grandchildren. The grandchildren don’t exist yet, but this will be a great gift for her 50th birthday in April.

FullSizeRender_2The dress is in excellent condition, with a skirt of white taffeta and the bodice covered in sequined lace made of leaves, flowers, and roses. It was cleaned and stored in a large cardboard dress box by the dry cleaner, and aside from being wrinkled, is in gorgeous shape.

FullSizeRenderThere is plenty of fabric in the train and skirt for the 2 ensembles, as one will be a gown for a girl and one will be a romper for a boy. I’ll be using the Butterick pattern 6045, and will also make the bonnet and slippers.

B6045The only material to purchase will be the lining, and I was thrilled to find a row of buttons from the bustle of the skirt that can even be reused! I’m going to play with the leaves of lace to embellish the romper, as the flowers and roses will be easily placed on the bodice and hem of the gown.FullSizeRender_1I’m quite excited to get started and will post my progress soon!

 

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