Nothing thrilled me more this year than when I heard Lisa Comfort announce that her pattern company, Sew Over It, would be releasing another eBook with five new patterns for summer. My Capsule Wardrobe: Summer Dreaming came out June 10 and I bought it straight away. The two patterns I chose to make first were the Alba Skirt and Siena Blouse.
My inspiration, of course, was this photo of Lisa from the eBook:
The Alba Skirt is a gorgeous wrap skirt with two variations. One with a frill that goes all around the hem and one without the frill. I had such a lovely viscose crepe fabric from my local fabric store, Bolt, that I wanted to use every scrap so I did the frill version. I used 100% of 2-1/2 yards of fabric and was able to just squeak out the last of the frill pieces.
This fabric was a real splurge at $57.50 for the lot. The difference in quality is pretty amazing, though, when you spend an extra $10/yard. I never want to work with anything but Italian viscose crepes again. Sadly, with the price of toilet paper now, this is a distant dream.
Sewing on the frill was some of the longest sewing I’ve ever done. After you sew the three spiral pieces together, you sew those onto the bottom of the skirt. I just kept sewing, and sewing, and sewing…
I may have gotten a little dizzy. This fabric was a bit slippery — it’s a crepe so not too much — but I decided to try using a homemade spray starch (recipe here) to see if that made it easier to work with. In the end, I don’t think it made a difference.
The tie on the skirt is so cute. An opening is sewed into the waistband so the tie goes through it. That’s really all that holds your skirt up! It made the skirt easy to sew because there’s no zippers or fasteners of any kind. Lisa wrapped her tie around twice, but I preferred mine wrapped once with a really long bow.
The Siena Blouse is a variation of the Siena dress. It was definitely a couple of skill levels up from the skirt because the blouse is fully lined and you bag out the lining like a coat. I made it from a Robert Kaufman cotton eyelet that I also ordered from Bolt.
I made a size 14 in both the skirt and blouse, which seems to be my size for every Sew Over It pattern. I used the wide-strap variation, and added 3″ to the bodice by cutting through every line that said “bust” and adding 3″ of paper. I wanted the blouse to sit higher on the chest and lower over the waist than Lisa’s and thought just adding length would be the easiest way to do both. I like where it hits in the front, but the back panel turned out about an inch too long. Next time I would go with 2″ overall.
The most exciting part of the Siena for me was the shirred back panel. I played it pretty fast and loose with this shirring and knew it would never be perfect, it being my first attempt. I did do a few rows as a test, but then I just went for it. I used my foot as a guide, which turned out to be not the best idea.
By the time I got to the bottom — where I had drawn some guide marks — my shirring lines were much closer to the right corner than the left corner. Not to worry: When the elastic was inserted at the bottom, it was impossible to tell.
The elastic requirement at the top and bottom of the shirred panel was a bit of a surprise. I may be missing something, but there was no mention of 1/4″ elastic in the notions list on the pattern. This could be a problem for a lot of sewists, as there’s a worldwide elastic shortage at present. I had gotten very lucky when I ordered the elastic thread from Joann that they also had 5 yards of 1/4″ elastic. A couple of face masks will not be made now, but my pretty blouse got finished!
When the shirring panel was done, it was a bit of a chore hand-tying all the elastic threads. For most of this make, I felt like I was sewing a wedding dress!
My mom did sew her own wedding dress — and I’m pretty sure it was on this Singer 401A — so that will add some good luck to this blouse. (Bonus: my marking tool is “something blue”.)
I wore the complete ensemble out at about 8 a.m. this morning to take some photos at the Peninsula Park Rose Garden in NE Portland. The roses were 120% bloomed. Today’s 100-degree weather will surely open up any remaining buds.