This week’s Project Sewn challenge was to create a signature look. My first thought was, “Well, everything I’ve made so far is pretty much in my signature style.” My second thought was, “Except that I’ve only made dresses.”
While I do wear dresses a lot (nothing is easier than just putting on a dress in the morning), I also wear a lot of separates. In the winter, that tends to be sweaters and pants, but in the summer, I go with blouses and skirts a lot of the time.
My signature style:
Tailored or fitted
Easy to transition from work to play
For this challenge, I wanted to make two pieces that would be versatile, go with a lot of my existing wardrobe, and would have some creative twists, which is something I always like to do when I am sewing. I also wanted to be able to make matching outfits for my son and daughter, and tie in the outfits with a holiday theme (but not be too overwhelmingly “holiday,” so that the clothes wouldn’t be worn other days), since those are also things that I enjoy sewing for and around.
The holiday that was coming up when I came up with this idea was Memorial Day. I ordered fabric knowing there was a good chance it wouldn’t show up early enough for me to make the outfits… but it did arrive last Thursday! I quickly washed everything and, then proceeded to get a great idea for my daughter’s dress that I had to sew right then, so she could actually wear her dress for Memorial Day.
Of course, this meant that there was no way I would actually get my outfit done by Memorial Day… and I barely finished it in time to enter in this week’s sew-along (I literally was hemming pieces this morning before I went to work, intending to wear the outfit.) Thankfully it will also work for everyday, and I will put it to good use for the 4th of July and Labor Day as well as wearing the two pieces on their own.
(Please forgive wrinkly and weird pattern on the bottom of the skirt – I’ve been wearing this all day at work and the chair left a strange pattern! Yikes!)
I made a JJ shirt from Burdastyle (free pattern) for the top. I omitted the ruffles on the front, and changed the collar to a more traditional shirt collar (I used the one from Simplicity 4760’s men’s pattern and adjusted the size to make it more narrow and to make it fit on the JJ neckline).
I also added a pocket on the front (the pocket is the boy’s shirt pocket from Simplicity 4760). The pocket and collar are white cotton. I embellished the pocket with an appliqued star in white linen (from scraps from my 80’s jacket). The star was my daughter’s idea – since her outfit had stars, I had to have at least one on my outfit, too 🙂 I wanted it to be very subtle, hence the white on white applique. I sewed the buttons on with red thread, because, well, I could. The front buttons are leftover from my son’s Christmas shirt, and the sleeve buttons are upcycled from a men’s shirt that I deconstructed a while back.
This was the second time I have attempted to make a JJ – the first one is still sitting unfinished in my closet because it is HUGE (and since I made it with the ruffles, I haven’t figured out how to take it in)! I cut this one two sizes smaller than my last attempt and it fits much better, although I might still take in the side seams once I have more time. The shirt fabric is red-and-white striped shirting (no longer available, I’m glad I got it when I did) from Fabric Mart (LOVE them, fast shipping and great cuts on the fabric, they always give me more than I order).
For the skirt, I wanted a pleated summer look that I could adapt. It is based on the A-plus A-line by Twinkle, also a free pattern from Burdastyle. While this is intended for a heavier weight fabric, I made it in navy cotton broadcloth (also from Fabric Mart) so it will be comfortable for the summer. The broadcloth takes the pleats well. This pattern is available in sizes 0, 4, 8, 12, 16… of course, I measured at a 10. Ha. I graded the pattern to my measurements and cut it about 3 1/2 inches shorter than the pattern length. In general, Burdastyle patterns are not for the faint of heart – the directions definitely require you to have some sewing experience since there are no diagrams. I’d recommend having some experience fitting clothes to yourself before trying this pattern, since the very first step is to fit the yoke of the skirt, which could involve a LOT of different adjustments. I got lucky and once I had graded the pattern to the correct size, it fit correctly.
Instead of the lining, I turned the skirt into a skort, so that it is easy to wear without worry when chasing kids. I used Simplicity 5259 for the fitted pants pattern, cut the legs to short length instead of as pants, and moved the zipper from the back to the side to adapt it to the skirt. I used the same fabric for the shorts portion as for the skirt. I had a scary moment last night when I went to sew the shorts into the skirt – even though I had tried both pieces on numerous times, I still worried that the side seams wouldn’t match up and the zipper slot would be offline – but it all lined up perfectly! Phew! I sewed twill tape into the waist seam so that it would have more structure (this was recommended in the pants pattern but not the skirt, but I’d recommend it in general). (Hey, look, hand-stitched hem on the skirt portion. I still haven’t overcome my fear of machine-stitching blind hems.)
Finally, since I wanted pockets but didn’t want to mess with the line of the skirt, I added a small, self-drafted inseam pocket into the waist seam for my phone — always handy!
Head on over to Project Sewn to see what everyone has been crafting this week, and check back here to see what I come up with for my son’s 4th of July look. (I’m planning two types of star pockets, a Cars vest, and more!)