Another Grainline Farrow

I have decided that for Winter 2017-2018 I really want to dress like an overgrown three-year-old in A-line dresses and bright tights, so I’ve made two more Grainline Farrows to help me with this goal. Here’s one of them:
Stripe Grainline Farrow

The fabric is from a German Etsy seller, who seems to have lots and lots of print sweatshirting. It’s medium-weight and lovely and soft on the inside but I’m already starting to notice a little bit of pilling after very little wear; luckily the pattern is so busy that it hides it so far.

Here’s a closer view of the fabric, plus a bit of the neckline finishing:

Grainline Farrow neck finish

I decided to do a contrast piping (just regular Wright’s) on the front pocket seam to make that seamline pop:
Grainline Farrow center seam and piping

Matching this seam is WAY WAY easier if you use Wonder tape and baste UP from just a few inches below the seam. Then you can check to make sure it’s matched before going back and sewing the entire front seam for real.

I didn’t do a great job drafting the hem facing (it’s wobbly in parts) but with double-needle stitching and a non-ravelly fabric all I had to do was trim the excess, and everything turned out fine:
Grainline Farrow hem facing

Here’s the back center seam, where you can probably already see a tiny bit of pilling:

Grainline Farrow back seam

I cut size 10 in the previous versions I made and in fabrics without stretch they were a little tight in the armscye; for this version I cut a 12 at the shoulder, narrowing to a 10 just above the pocketline seam, and that gave me the added ease I was hoping for. (This fabric has virtually no stretch, so it ended up being a good test of the sizing.)

I also made the Grainline Farrow in a sleeveless version in black sweatshirt knit to wear as a jumper, but I’m not very happy with that version—the fabric I found is slightly too shiny and polyestery, and the first time I wore it, with a gray t-shirt and gray leggings, I felt like a postulant in an order of Courrèges-inspired space nuns. (Which is not a BAD feeling, to be sure, but wasn’t really the aesthetic I was going for.)

Once you have the rhythm down this dress is ridiculously easy and quick to sew, even given the piping, bias neckline trim, swapping out for the double needle, etc. etc. The hardest part is finding suitably thick, stable knits! (Recommendations welcome!) If you’re less impatient than I am I highly recommend either shopping in person, or ordering swatches before committing; I have a couple of pieces in my stash right now that I ordered too rashly and will now need to find alternative patterns for … I am going to make a few in woven fabrics (probably flannel) but the knit ones are so comfortable!

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The perfect airplane dress

I’ve been traveling a lot lately (including a few long intercontinental flights) and I wanted a soft knit dress that would let me sleep comfortably in the seat and let me feel like myself walking through the terminal. (Yes, I know, I could just wear yoga pants on the plane like 99.99% of humanity but I don’t really feel like *myself* in yoga pants, unless I am actually Doing Yoga.)

I even considered—gasp!—buying RTW, but I could not find a knit dress that was longer than knee length, heavier than t-shirt weight, or HAD POCKETS. And we all know that pockets are NON-NEGOTIABLE.

Enter the Grainline Farrow.

Grainline Farrow in sweatshirt knit

So I made this up in a cotton/poly sweatshirt fabric (slight stretch and fleece-backed!) and it is really, really comfortable. I did some altering—I cut a 10, but used the size 0 neckline cutting line for more of a scoop. I cut the pocket backing out of a lighter-weight fabric, instead of cutting the skirt front and pocket backing as one. Since the whole point of pocket seam lines is to put piping in them, I really wanted a seam there and not a fold. (Also, if you cut the pocket backing separately, you can get away with less yardage of your main fabric.)

I deepened the pockets (no surprise), lengthened the skirt slightly, and shortened the sleeves. I faced the hem instead of turning it up, but did not face the sleeves or the neckline (I used knit bias binding instead). I even used a double-needle for the bias binding, which I’ve never done before (in 30+ years of sewing). Verdict: it was easy, I’d do it again.

The pockets are a bit droopy here (I was carrying a LOT in them) so next time I think I will add a little elastic to that seam to help keep them from gapping. Also, you can’t see in these pics, but it has a little bit of shaped high-low hem that dips lower in back. (Some people hate high-low hems, so I figured I’d point that out.)

The above picture was actually taken on day 2 of wearing this dress—it was so comfortable on the flight over that I washed it in the hotel room so I could wear it again on the way back!

This dress was SUPER simple to make, so I decided to make two—the version below is also in fleece-backed sweatshirt knit. This is a heavier knit so it was actually a bit warm! This also had less stretch than the other version, so I ended up taking the sleeves out and cheating on the seam allowances so that I could move my arms. (If I make this again in a less-stretchy fabric I will cut a 12 or even a 14 in the sleeves.)

Grainline Farrow with collar

So as not to have TWO nearly-identical gray fleece dresses, I decided to add a collar to version 2; it’s a single layer collar finished with bias binding.

I have already planned two more of these (including one in Liberty Linford fleece). It’s just a really comfortable, well-drafted pattern that goes together quickly and has excellent pockets—what more could you want?

Purge 2017: The Wrap-Up

Hey! It’s everyone’s favorite time: accounting time!

So a couple months ago I decided to purge a bunch of me-made dresses that I just don’t wear anymore, and give half of the net proceeds to Chicago Books to Women in Prison. (Dress buyers could also request a “MADE IN A HURRY BY ERIN MCKEAN” label for their dresses for $2, and all label money would go straight to Chicago BWP.)

So, for the curious, here is how the accounting worked out:

  • of 43 listed dresses, 39 sold
  • 15 labels were sold at $2 each, so $30
  • shipping costs were $340.55 (with the single largest shipping cost being $95.95, to send five dresses to the UK). Dresses were also sent to Australia and Canada.
  • Paypal fees were $47.28

So:

Screen Shot 2017-08-27 at 9.24.56 AM

And, so, rounding up:Screen Shot 2017-08-27 at 9.17.56 AM

Thanks so much to everyone who bought a dress! (And special thanks to those of you who sent me pictures of you wearing your new dresses, they made me incandescently happy!)

The last few dresses will be on their way to Goodwill shortly. If I have time I will put labels in them—if you find one at your local Goodwill, please let me know!

 

a carefree mind of her own (the Seamwork Veronica dress)

Seamwork Veronica

Hey, a new dress! This is the Seamwork Veronica (with the subscriber modifications, plus more than a few of my own).

Anyway, back to the dress! Obviously, I had to add pockets:

Seamwork Veronica pockets

When I saw the subscriber modifications (specifically, the front panels for the skirt), my first thought was “pockets!” and my second thought was “STRIPES!”.

This fabric is a heavyish cotton knit with moderate stretch, so I fused some tricot knit interfacing to the pocket backing to keep them from pulling out of shape too much. I also zig-zagged some clear elastic along the pocket opening edge (although from this picture it looks as if I could have pulled it a bit tighter).

I added gathers to the center front and the center back to add some extra ease, and lengthened the back skirt about 3/4″ for a BBA (bubble-butt adjustment):

Seamwork Veronica back

Because it’s a knit fabric I didn’t have to put in the back zipper (the dress goes on fine without one). When I make this again I might cut that piece on the fold to get rid of the center back seam entirely.

Also because this is knit, I didn’t do facings—I did bindings instead. I used my tried-and-true “eyeball it” method and ended up cutting the neck binding about two inches shorter than the neck measurement, which seemed to work fine:

Seamwork Veronica neckband

The same technique worked for the sleeve bindings:

Seamwork Veronica bodice

There are a few more refinements I would like to make—the waist elastic is a bit bulky (even though I used a thinner fabric for the inside casing). I might try it with sew-through elastic next time to get a more even gather. The stripes are a bit off on the front waistband—I thought about cutting it on the bias and stabilizing it with interfacing, but I was too lazy. It would have been a cool effect … Sewing the waistband was definitely the trickiest bit, especially with this fabric. I am sure it would have been easier with a lightweight woven.

The bodice could also be shorter by about an inch, because the weight of the skirt pulls it downward and you don’t get the nice blousy effect you see in the pattern photos.

I’m surprised that this worked as well as it did because the pattern is not really intended for knits (  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ) and I changed it *so* much. I made it in a rush because I needed a comfy knit dress for a couple of looooooong plane trips. It held up fantastically, and looked just as good getting off the plane as it did getting on.

Next version is definitely going to be a gray sweatshirt knit, possibly with piping along those front panels, and I’m also planning on making it in a blue-and-white woven seersucker (because you really can’t have TOO MANY striped dresses).

Anyone else sewn this pattern? What were your modifications?

Today’s Pattern Story: Simplicity 1374

Simplicity-1374

Mavis: I spent all last night sharpening my sleeve-wings—if I don’t draw first blood in this year’s Dirigible Dollies Derby, I’m just going to plop myself right down and cry!

Doris: Don’t worry, dear, I’m sure you’ll shred the other girls—you always do! Fingers crossed that this is the year I take the Puppy Picnic Princess crown!

Mavis: Either way, we go halfsies on the judge, right?

Doris: You betcha! I think he’s almost recovered from last year.

(Pattern available from LadyMarlowePatterns.)

Purge 2017: The Final Few

So I was about to wrap up everything for the Great Dress Purge of 2017 when I realized that I had never taken/posted pictures of the dresses that didn’t have any. (Oops!) And needless to say, those pigs in pokes were not bought.

So I’m going to keep the Purge open another week, and here are those last few unpictured dresses waiting for new homes:

(UPDATE: this one is taken) The lollipop-tree dress (number 14):
Lollipop Trees Dress

This dress has a center-back zip, a rarity for me (I have a stiff shoulder that makes reaching to the middle of my back a hilarious, Mr.-Bean-esque activity):
lollipop trees dress back

(UPDATE: this one is taken) This is the “Sherbet seersucker Frankendress”, number 18:

sherbet seersucker Frankendress

I didn’t *quite* match the stripes at the waist seam:
sherbet seersucker Frankendress front waist

But there’s a nice seafoam-green zipper, if you like that sort of thing:
sherbet seersucker Frankendress zipper

(UPDATE: this one is also taken) Here is the ‘abstract windows shirtdress’, number 37:
city windows shirtdress

And a better view of the print:
city windows shirtdress

And last but not least, the ‘black pink/gray/yellow floral Heidi’, number 10:
pink and yellow roses Heidi

All the dresses (and their measurements) still available are here (four left!), and the form to request one is here, and all the other details and frequently-asked-questions are here. Just a reminder, all dresses are US$20 each (plus shipping) and I’ll be donating half of the proceeds to Chicago Books for Women in Prison.

ALL DRESSES HAVE POCKETS. (Everyone seen this thread?)

light-hearted I take to the open road

I’ve been doing more traveling again, so I thought perhaps I would do a little travel-stuff roundup of things that have been making that traveling easier lately.

I’ve carried one of these portable power bars for years, but I guess they’ve been discontinued (and that model, used, is selling for >$300, which is frankly ridiculous). The same company makes a smaller, cheaper one now—for $6, it’s worth checking out:

These are a lifesaver in airports—instead of fighting over an outlet, you can share and make friends! They’re also great in hotel rooms where they have inexplicably used up precious outlets by the bedside table with useless things like clock-radios.

Speaking of hotel rooms and their terrible outlet placement, I recently splurged on a set of extra-long lightning cables, which are fantastic if you like to use your phone as an alarm clock and charge it overnight—unless your hotel room is truly palatial, a ten-foot charging cord will let you keep the phone on the bedside table no matter where the nearest outlet is.

For long flights, I also just got one of these:

If you (like me) are just a little too short to rest your feet comfortably in an airline seat this thingumbob is amazing! The strap goes over the tray table arms (so be aware that it won’t work in an exit seat where the tray tables are in the armrest) and it’s very quick to set up and adjust. (You can fold the tray table up with it in place, too.) It is not super-sturdy (I had to reinforce the stitching where the straps meet the sling) and if you have very large feet you might feel constricted, but $14 for a MUCH more comfortable flight is completely worth it.

I was worried that it might be annoying to the person in front of me, but nobody on my flights turned around and gave me the stink-eye. The flight attendants didn’t seem bothered by it either, and it’s way better than the tiny stepstool I was using before (not joking).

Other things I take when I travel:

  • a stainless steel water bottle (gets less gunky than plastic, less likely to break in my backpack)
  • a travel coffee press (you can make cold brew with it!)
  • a travel yoga mat (this folds up pretty small and it has 100% improved my daily yoga practice compliance when traveling)
  • a large handkerchief or bandana (I like the excuse to use my Liberty ones, but any cotton handkerchief will do)
  • for very long flights I really like this travel pillow—it’s inflatable, so you’re not carrying a floppy drool-soaked foam donut around—and I think it’s less likely to give you a crick in your neck)

I also take a 4×6 soft mesh zip bag (I think I got it at Ichiban Kan), and while I’m waiting in the security line, I dump all the junk in my pockets (pen, notebook, phone, wallet, lip balm, handkerchief, change, etc.) into the bag, and then pop the bag into my backpack to go through the actual scanner. (Way more secure than those little bowls, especially if you’re pulled out for extra screening and can’t keep an eye on your stuff.)

Probably everyone in the universe is using packing cubes right now (but if you aren’t, I like these) but I’m excited to try compression cubes on my next trip.  I’ll report back!

If you’re a gadget-lover in general, you’ll probably enjoy Recomendo, a Cool Tools-style newsletter full of neat stuff (and apps and sites).

Anything you can’t travel without? Leave a comment!