Pattern Testing: Chalk and Notch Fringe Dress

Disclosure:  I received this pattern for free in exchange for my honest feedback. No blog post or promotion was required and all opinions are my own.

Side note: I currently have "Let's Get Ready to Rumble" stuck on repeat in my head. Well, really just the beginning.  I don't know why. Buuut, I thought I'd share :D

Anyway... so, back for fit notes are ya?  Alright, I can do that.

As I mentioned in my blouse post, the fit on this dress is just a little different. But, the good news is, Gabriela took everyone's feedback and made a few minor but very effective changes that I think minimized the alterations that would need to be changed by most sewists.

This dress is meant to strike a balance between loose enough to get it on without needed additional closures (read: the dreaded zipper) and fitted enough to show off your silhouette.  There are optional ties if you want to wear it a bit more fitted through the waist. Personally, I'm torn on the ties. I rather like the fit as designed, but my fiance prefers it nipped in a bit more, so I added them to the dress and will likely add them to the next dress I make with the pattern. Oh yes, there will be more. I can always tie them a bit loosely as a compromise, right?

As for altering the pattern itself, here's what I did:

  • I cut a straight size 10, based on the size chart. Yes! You read that right... a STRAIGHT SIZE! Excuse me while I have a little dance party, because, as a pear, that NEVER happens! But, my measurements fell in line with a 10 perfectly and the skirt has so much room that I didn't need to blend up anywhere.
  • I shortened the bodice at the l/s line by 1/2", because despite being tall, I can run a little short-waisted in some patterns and this put the waistline at a more flattering spot.
  • I also shortened the bust darts by 1/2", because I am "tall" from my bust up, so my bust point is a little lower than the pattern is drafted for.
  • Despite lengthening the skirt of the blouse version of the pattern, I opted not to lengthen the dress.  This was partly due to a desire to save fabric and partly because I tend to find I prefer my hemlines a little above the knee, particularly in summer.  Not that I think longer hemlines are unflattering, I just find I hate the feel of fabric on my knees when walking in the heat haha
  • Also, not fit related but I tacked the sleeve at the shoulder seam and underarm seam after folding it up, to hold the fold. 
So, very few changes on this one and I'm very happy with the fit! It's roomy enough to be comfortable in the heat (or after a big meal), but not excessively so. And the silhouette of it appears to be universally flattering. I have yet to see one that doesn't look great or a sewist that doesn't look great in it! I've even gotten in-person compliments from strangers, which is always a good sign in my book :)


Oh, one last thing. About the fabric. It's not available anymore (I think it's been in my stash for 4 years!), so I won't bother specifically bashing it, but let me just say that it turns out there is a range of quality of rayon challis too, just like any other fabric. To be honest, I've bought big box store quality and "designer" quality before and both levels were different, but good, easy to work with. But, this stuff! I would have rather sewed chiffon! The fraying, the stretching, the tearing... it was horrible.  I'm pleased with the dress now it's done, but the scraps went promptly into the textile donation bin because I can't be bothered trying to do anything with them again. So, what I'm really trying to say there is, if you don't have experience with rayon challis and you hate working with your first one, it shifts a lot, it frays, it just doesn't sew well, it may not be you! Don't give up! Step away from that fabric and try another from a reliable shop. They aren't all created equal and a nice challis will be relatively easy to work with and is a dream to wear.

In fact, who wants to guess what my next project is made from? You betcha! Nothing can tear me from my beloved rayon :)

Tell me, do you share my love for it?

Happy sewing! xo

Dress: Fringe Dress, Fabric: FabricMart (sold out)  //  Necklace: vintage  //  Shoes: Hush Puppies (currently on sale!)


Pattern Testing: Chalk and Notch Fringe Blouse

You guys, I really love Instagram. I mean, I hate it, with it's nonsensical algorithms and shadow banning, but for discovering new sewists, fabrics I have to have, and pattern companies, there's just no beating the non-stop, ever-encouraging "sewists of Instagram".  It has also meant I get to try amazing new patterns like this new one from Chalk and Notch.  The second I saw the post featuring this dress with a call for testers, I pounced.  I immediately fell for the mix of utilitarian-look sleeve tabs with the dainty curved hem.  And let me tell you, those are still my favorite features!

Right, so I pounced.  Then, I was lucky enough to be chosen as a tester (obviously) and was added to the Facebook group where I discovered that Gabriela (the designer/owner of Chalk and Notch) is amazingly detailed, organized, interactive and seriously helpful and friendly.  She tests her patterns in phases, ensures the range of sizes, as well as views, are covered, and gives prompt feedback.  It was so fun watching the phases progress and see the little changes that went into making this such a great pattern!

The top I'm showing here is phase 2, but I've got a dress coming that I made using the last phase and can attest that the final version is even better! But, more on that in my next post.  This top was actually my "wearable muslin". My fit garment, so I could give thorough feedback and get Gabriela's as well, regarding the fit.  But, I sewed it up exactly by the instructions, which are so, so thorough by the way, and it's fully finished inside and out.  And, who doesn't love a breezy white blouse in the summer?  Particularly in rayon challis!  I just don't recommend wearing it with a black skirt, as I did for the first set of photos I sent in.  Can you say waitress hahaha!  I expect I'll typically wear it like I did here, with a more casual bottom.

I won't go into the fit with this one, except to say that the recommended sizes seem spot on and I'm 5'10" (all legs) and I lengthened the skirt of this by 1.5".  The fit of the bodice changed slightly between this one and the next, so I'll go over my alterations in my dress post.

What you do need to know about though, are the instructions.  The whole instruction packet is so well organized and illustrated and if you're someone who likes to use the instructions on your computer or tablet, rather than print them out, there's an additional feature for you.  I was genuinely impressed when I saw it because I've never used a pattern that had it.  There are links at the top of every page so you can easily navigate to the sections you want to read (including an abbreviated set of instructions, if you just want an overview).  The pattern file also has a handy adobe feature.  Each size is set as it's own layer, so once you pick your size, you can select and print only the size (layer) you need.  I love this feature because it really speeds up the cutting process.  No "wait, which kind of dots am I again?" haha.

All the categories at the top of the page are actually handy links :)

And, of course, the pattern itself is just as good as the instructions.  Everything came together easily and just as it should, making it an easier project than it seems.  And as a bonus, for those who are concerned by sewn on button bands, this one is more an illusion.  The band is just a facing on the inside of the top, top-stitched in place. Also, the sleeves are set-in flat. So basically, this is a deceptively easy shirt haha.

I’m sorry.  You know I love a balanced pattern review, but I just don’t have anything negative to say about this one! Unless you don’t like cut-on/drop sleeves? I don’t know.  What do you all think?  Are you in love with Fringe yet?

Stay tuned for the dress view and full fit details in my next post :)

Happy sewing! x

Top: Fringe Dress (View A Blouse), Fabric: Hancock Fabrics  //  Shorts: Simplicity 1808, Fabric: Hobby Lobby (blogged here) //  Necklace: Vintage  //  Bag: Sanctuary via TJ Maxx  //  Shoes: Clarks


Makers Gonna Make! A New Look and a New Name

Hello Friends!

Today, I'm finally making a change I've been thinking about for quite a while. I'm changing my name! Well, my online name that is.

When I first selected Ms Jenny Homemaker, I expected this blog to go in a different direction. I had only recently discovered the "blogosphere," and had done so through blogs that offered things like recipes, home-related product reviews, and DIY home cleaning tips. Brandon and I had just moved into our first real house together and I expected to share similar things, from the point-of-view of a new homemaker.

I had no idea how much I would end up loving sewing my own clothing or how welcomed I would feel by the sewing community!  Thank you so much!

I'm sure you've noticed that these days, my blog is almost exclusively dedicated to sewing, with the occasional knitting or such project thrown in. So, the homemaker label, though I am still a homemaker, just didn't feel right. It felt limiting and in a direction I don't often discuss.

Then, it hit me. I am a maker. A home maker. A clothing maker. An accessories maker. A decor maker. The list actually goes on. But, the common theme is making. It's an idea I am no longer me without. So, I dropped the "home" (and the Ms., because who needs that formality when it's no longer a play on "Miss Susie Homemaker"). So now, I'm simply Jenny.  Maker.


Now, about my outfit.  First, I have to give a huge thank you to the always lovely Josie of LA Finch Fabrics for generously sending me this awesome tee shirt with my last order!! Isn't it great?!  (And 100% cotton, which is so awesome and, seemingly, rare in a printed tee.)  To complete to weekend comfort factor, I paired it with my always in-and-out of the wash modal twill Southport skirt.  I knew the Southport would be a good pattern for this because the fit would be the same, moving from a drawstring to an elastic waist.  

To make it a skirt, all I did was cut the two skirt pieces (obviously haha), and a single-piece waistband, large enough to encase my elastic, plus seam allowances.  I made two buttonholes in the waistband, about an inch and a half or so on either side of center front, then sewed the waistband ends together. Next, I sewed the two skirt pieces together and attached the waistband as one piece to the skirt, leaving a 3" opening to thread the elastic through.  After feeding and sewing the elastic, I stitched the remaining 3" of the waistband on/closed, then serged it all the way around.  To finish it, I topstitched the waistband, stretching it flat as I went around, with a zigzag stitch ~3/8" from the top and bottom of the waistband.  This created a channel for the drawstring and gave it a more finished look, in my opinion.  For the drawstring, I used black cotton twill tape and fed enough through so that even if I stretched the skirt to the max, there would be plenty of tape left out so as not to lose an end.  Don't you just hate it when a garment decides to eat the drawstring?  I'm still undecided about the hem... Here, I've serged it and turned it up about an inch, but I think it may need to be shortened a little.  What do you think?

Tee: Finch Fabrics (c/o)  //  Skirt: True Bias Southport (modified), Fabric: Jo-Ann  //  Handbag: Sanctuary via TJ Maxx  //  Shoes: Hush Puppies (currently half off!)  //  Watch: Vintage

Happy sewing! xo