Sunday, August 10, 2014

Summer Sewing Summary

Summer has flown by and I'm beginning to realize that my summer sewing efforts may have more of a pay-off in 2015 than they have had for 2014. I think the key to success is to get started right after Christmas! And, following that line of thinking, I should probably get started on Christmas now…or even last month!

I did manage to get a few clothing items in the shop. My favorite being this sweet unlined "circle" skirt. I say "circle" because it is more of a three-fourths-of-a-circle skirt. Basically has the same effect but uses a little less fabric. Great thing about this type of skirt is it can fit a wide range of measurements within the XS, S, M, L, and XL sizes and this makes it a whole lot easier to sell online. And if you buy a small when you should have purchased a medium, it will still probably fit just fine! And the reason I love the skirt unlined is that it is so weightless and cool for the summer months. It comes in a choice of four different fabrics; Palace Garden, Wildflower, Exotic Flower, and Indigo Petals.

But, of course, I also offer it in a lined version for only $10 more. Prices will most likely go up next summer because the lined version is almost twice as much work and twice as much fabric. I consider summer 2014 prices to be introductory prices. Anyway, the lining is more like a petticoat, attached at the waistband and hanging loosely to just slightly above the bottom of the skirt. It definitely adds more weight and fullness. Also in a choice of the same four fabrics. 

This is the one top I had success with. My first instinct was to make tank tops but I learned that armholes are way too hard to fit and really need to be customized. It is rare that I can go into a store and buy a tank top that fits properly, and I imagine you have had the same experience. Luckily, kaftan's (or caftans) are back in style, so I fooled around with all the different ways of making them until I came up with this very clean lined version. If I had it to do over again, I would have done nothing but kaftans in all sorts of widths, lengths, and with different necklines. I would do some with ties and some without. They are great for beach cover-ups, summer robes or lounge dresses, and as layering pieces over camisoles and leggings.

Unfortunately, I spent too much time and fabric distracted by (because I was so inspired by!) this gorgeous caftan from Emerson Fry (seen above in what must have been last year's color). I think this is the most stunning and sophisticated take on the kaftan/caftan that I have seen so, of course, I wanted to try and make MY version of it.

Almost but not quite. I had more of the Feathering Stripes fabric running down the sides which was removed by the time I took this photo. I had trouble being happy with the way it was hanging. I suppose "draping" is the correct dressmaker's term! The Emerson Fry version has an "interior cinch tie", something I discovered a little too late. Since I don't actually have their caftan in my possession, I could not personally view the genius of that. I experimented with various inner workings with elastic, etc. but eventually decided the whole thing would have to be remade to achieve success. Live and learn!

I all-too-enthusiastically whipped up this version in Tropical Garden, thinking I would use a high-waisted tie that went through the side seams that join the two fabrics. It seemed like a good idea but I've decided I like the Tropical Garden more on it's own or with a solid color, so I'm still working it out. For my first attempts, I should have kept it simple. 

I was really excited about this version from a tutorial over at the Purl Bee blog (there are lots of great tutorials there!). I didn't use inexpensive practice fabric, as I should have, the first time around and dove right in with the lovely Jungle Flower. This fabric looks so great made up into an outfit! However, it came out just a bit too high-waisted, in my opinion, and there are a few other alterations I would like to make. For instance, I would make the bottom, or skirt part, more of an A-line shape. But I love the side ties! I will either re-make the top portion or just totally deconstruct into fat quarters or the charm packs for quilters I'm hoping to make, going into fall/winter season.

Lesson learned: product development takes time! Also, focus on only one or two clothing items per season. I began the summer thinking I would whip up tank tops, shorts, skirts, dresses, etc. And so many of the blogs one reads makes it all sound so easy. Beware of that! If it's too easy, it's not going to look very good, I assure you. But I am happy I have done what I have done and I learned quite a bit along the way. Most of all, I have learned that clothing construction is a lot more fascinating than I expected. I am thinking seriously about taking some more in depth sewing classes, rather than relying on this self-taught method, and possibly working towards earning a certificate in haute couture.

And now, for my blog readers, a special discount!

Type in SUMMER2014 on the checkout page when you make a purchase of $10 or more in my Etsy shop and receive 20% off, on anything you like, now through August 31, 2014.

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