My name is Lauren Taylor. I am a 31 year old native Nashvillian with a love for all things sewing-related. In this blog you will find dressmaking exploits and pattern cutting pursuits, as well as keep track of important tips, tricks and techniques. Also tutorials for dress, skirt, jacket, coat garments & clothes fitting.
I finished this dress much earlier in the year (like, January!), took photos a month ago, and am now finally getting around to posting it! I should not be this proud of myself considering how much of a slacker I am, but here we are.
Also, fun fact – the Magnolia is my favorite tree. Just so you know!
ANYWAY. Earlier this year, Workroom Social was gearing up to release a new line of fabrics and Jennifer asked if I’d like a piece to try out. Obviously I was immediately sold, and was sent 2 yards of this Fleur design in navy from the Bantam line designed by Kelli Ward. As soon as I saw the fabric – I mean even before it was in my hands, but definitely after, too – I immediately thought of the Magnolia pattern as I felt like it would be a great match for this floaty and colorful rayon. I’ve sewn with Workroom Social fabrics a few times and I really cannot give them the full amount of praise that they deserve. Super high quality, beautiful rayon that is surprisingly easy to sew and comes in a range of really, really fucking cool designs.
So… the short answer is, yes, this fabric (or any fabrics from the Workroom Social fabrics line) was a great match for this pattern. However, I was skimping on yardage as the pattern calls for closer to 3 yards, and I only had 2. Not one to be defeated by something as silly as fabric requirements (pfft), I spent a couple hours one evening working on a giant puzzle of fitting every single pattern piece on my fabric. I shortened the sleeves by 1″ to get them to fit, and ended up cutting the waistband facing, bias facing, and tie facing all out of a nice lightweight navy cotton fabric – but I eventually made it fit! Go me!
After I had everything cut, sewing was pretty simple and fun! I decided to sew the dress entirely with French seams, as I love a good French seam in rayon. My quick muslin showed that I did not need any fitting adjustments, however, this rayon is much floatier than the cotton muslin I used and required a little bit of extra tweaking as I sewed. I ended up taking about 1/2″ from the center back, and pulling in the side seams at the underarm by another 5/8″. I started with a 36 bust grading to a 38 hip; this makes me wonder if I might have been better off cutting a smaller bust size. Whatever, it fits great now!
I also came into a little surprise when I realized that I didn’t have a long enough invisible zipper for the side seam! The pattern calls for 16″, and mine was 9″ long (not that I bought the wrong size, it’s just that I had this perfectly coordinating pink zip in my stash that was DETERMINED to use, shortness be damned). I figured that since the bodice has a cross-over front, it allows just *barely* enough room for me to wriggle in. Generally I don’t recommend using a zipper that is that much drastically shorter than what you need, but in my case it worked out pretty well.
Speaking of that invisible zipper – I’m gonna toot my own horn here now and say LOOK AT HOW GOOD IT LOOKS! After finishing the entire dress with beautiful French seams, it felt lazy to throw in a zipper with serged edges. So I used my remaining bias facing pieces to add Hong Kong seams to either side of my zipper opening, creating a very lovely finish that reflects the rest of the interior of the dress.
The only downside to making this dress when I did was that I had to put it in the closet for a few months before it was warm enough to wear! (yes, I realize sweaters and tights and layering exists but that does not change the fact that rayon itself is not a very warm fabric!) I actually didn’t wear this at all until last month for Easter Sunday brunch with my family! But it was worth the wait, because I really love it. The fabric is beautiful and hangs with a gorgeous drape, and I like that the neckline sits close to my body and stays well in place. The length is the same original length from the pattern, and while it feels a smidge long on me (I’m used to showing my knees, and then some), I’m trying to get used to it!
By the way, I took these photos in my new front yard! Isn’t it super cute!
I’m gonna leave you with this photo that we got on Easter! That’s my mom, my brother Mikil, and my sister-in-law Sarah (I know y’all are dying to know so I’ll just say, yes, Sarah is wearing a Sew Over It Penny Blouse). Love these nerds so much!!
** Note: the rayon fabric used in this post was given to me by Workroom Social, with no requirement to post a review or finished product.
I don’t think I need to introduce anyone to the sewing superstar Gertie, right? The sewing blogger, pattern writer, fabric designer, and workshop leader WHO LOOKS LIKE A LITERAL PORCELAIN DOLL (not even exaggerating… it would be maddening if she wasn’t also an incredibly delightful person to interact with!)? Yes. That one. If you don’t know who she is – well, welcome to the online sewing community! Now read up on the OG superstars!
I’ve followed Gertie for years – she’s actually the reason why I started my blog! – and cheered her on with every new business venture. While my tastes have definitely skewed away from vintage style, I still really love to see the stuff that she puts out. When Gertie was in Nashville last year for a workshop, she brought a few patterns from her new line, Charm Patterns, and I picked up the Rita blouse to try out. I like this pattern that it does look vintage, but not quite so costumey (no hate on y’all who do the costumey vintage; I fucking LOVE it but it just really isn’t a style I like to wear these days).
I always get bored with sewing winter stuff around this time of year – although I feel like this year it started a bit earlier. I’m also making a bigger effort to work my way through my stash, both patterns and fabric. I remembered this pattern a couple of weeks ago and decided to sew a test version. When I bought the pattern, I originally envisioned using a beautiful Dolce & Gabbana stretch silk with it, but I wanted to try the pattern with a less precious fabric before committing.
The test fabric is actually… wait for it… fabric from Gertie’s fabric line! Ha! I don’t see it available on her website now, but it’s a lightweight cotton with a really brilliant, colorful print. I received this fabric as the winner of a giveaway on Gertie’s old blog, back in like… 2015. Ouch. I actually got a few fabrics, as well Gertie’s Ultimate Dress Book. Truth be told, this fabric isn’t completely my style… I don’t wear lot of florals, I don’t wear much black in the summer (and to me, this is a summer print) and I also don’t wear this shade of blue. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a lovely fabric… it just doesn’t fit well with my wardrobe. And, of course, I got something crazy like 4 yards of it. So when I was looking for a fabric to use in a test Rita, I rediscovered this piece and thought – eh, why not? No huge loss if it doesn’t work out, but I’ll still prob wear it if it *does*.
I’ve never sewn a Charm Pattern before, so I paid close attention to the size chart when choosing my size. There isn’t a lot of guidance on how to choose your size, so I just went with what my measurements are. The part I found most confusing was the underbust measurement – it seemed really tiny. And with a 27″ underbust, mine is already quite small! I was a little concerned about the amount of ease there, as I didn’t want it to be too tight if I take a deep breath. I ended up going with a size 4 and a C cup, again, this is based off my measurements.
I think the fit is pretty much spot on. There’s a little bit of ease around the waist, a lot of ease at the bust for all those gathers, and the bottom flares out a little for your hips. I think the pattern looks and fits exactly as it was intended to. And as far as the underbust – it’s perfectly comfortable. So yay for that!
Construction-wise, this was easy to sew. The hardest part was feeding the elastic through the channeling – the pattern has you create a 3/8″ wide channel for the 1/4″ elastic, and I must have made mine a bit smaller than that as I had a really hard time getting my elastic to relax out completely despite lots and lots of effort. I ended up shortening the elastic around the arms by about 1″ and the neckline something like 4″. I feel the arms are ok, but the neckline is slightly tighter than I’d like and it feels like it wants to pull up at the bust.
I serged all the seams as a sewed them (together, not pressed open like the pattern suggests. This is a test blouse, ain’t nobody got time for that!). There is an invisible zipper at the side; mine is a little shorter than the pattern calls for as it was all I had in my stash, but I don’t have any problem getting in or out of the shirt.
This was a quick project; I had everything traced and cut in about an hour, then the blouse sewn up the next afternoon minus the hems. Hemmed it the next morning and wore it out to see a friend that afternoon. Not too bad!
So… I think the blouse does look cute, and I like the way it looks in photos. I’m still not totally convinced that it is something I want to wear, though, both in style and due to fabric choice. It feels a little dressier than what I’m accustomed to. I originally envisioned wearing this tucked into my black pants, but the side invisible zipper makes a weird lump when I tuck it (this may not be an issue with something that is a true high waist – like, over the belly button). It doesn’t look bad untucked, but I’m not crazy about it. I like it, but I don’t LOVE it. And I have decided that there isn’t space in my wardrobe for things that I don’t actually love. I have enough clothes as it is!
I think I may actually remove part of the bottom and attach a skirt to it, and just turn the entire thing into a dress. I think that might be a better use of this fabric (especially since I have so much more of it leftover!) and I would enjoy wearing that more than the top. It would certainly be fun to wear in the summer, and lord knows I won’t wear pants when it’s hot out! And yeah it’s gonna be costumey AF, but I’m kind of loving that idea.
Anyway, just thinking out loud! In hindsight, I’m glad I didn’t use my special D&G fabric to make this as, like I said, I’m not 100% on the style. I am interested to see if that opinion changes when I swap out for a skirt. I need to dig through my patterns and see if I have something suitable, and I will return with an update!
I just think this pattern is so cool! I love the relaxed (but not oversized) shape, with the interesting pocket detail and elastic waist that doesn’t go all the way around (personally, I find a flat front to be more… well, flattering). These are very similar to the Elizabeth Suzann Clyde pants, with a different pocket shape and, again, a flat front with no elastic. Both pants have the same high waist and seams running down the front and back leg.
As much as I love a fitted pant, I didn’t want these to be too tight in the hip so I went with a size XS (based on my measurements). I ended up taking an additional 1/4″ out of the inseam to tighten up the legs ever so slightly (I don’t generally mess with the inseam, however, these pants do not have side seams), but I am very happy with how the hip and waist fits. FWIW, I did use the suggested elastic measurement and it fits perfectly without being too tight.
I made a muslin of the shorts before cutting into my fabric, because I wasn’t sure how these would fit on my body. I actually do own a pair of Clyde pants (from way back when I still worked at ES), and I always felt like the crotch was a little too long on me, so I went ahead and sewed up a test pair before committing. My test pair is actually a fully-finished wearable muslin – I used cotton bottomweight fabric, as well as the suggested interfacing, elastic, and topstitching details. So I also basically have a new pair of shorts when summer comes around haha. My sample showed that I did need to take some of the crotch length out – a full 1.5″ (crotch length refers to the measurement from front waist to back waist spanning the crotchal area, NOT the length from crotch to waist when you sit down, which is considered crotch depth. See this image for a visual) (also, every time I type crotch I accidentally type crochet instead what is wrong with me). Before you start wringing your hands on the mysteries of pants-fitting, please be aware that this is not an adjustment I see a lot of people make (and I touched a LOT of crotches last year during all my workshops). If you do need it, the explanation and process of how to fix are best outlined in Pants For Real People, which I recommend checking out for further questions!
ANYWAY, the amount that I took off the length was easily adjusted (albeit in a very hacky way) to my shorts, so yes, those are still wearable! One more adjustment I made to the pants was to change the crotch curve, as it was a little flat for my body (this is indicated by vertical folds in the fabric in a very unflattering spot). This was not necessary in my sample, but did show more prominently in my finished pants – probably because the fabric has more drape. The front still isn’t completely flat if I stand a certain way, but I think that’s pretty unavoidable with this soft fabric + pants shape combination.
Construction changes were minor. I wanted to keep the fabric soft, so I omitted about half of the interfacing (anywhere that there would be double layers of interfacing). This included the pockets and the center front waistband. In retrospect, I probably should have left the double layer of interfacing on the waistband as it does get a crease with wear, but, whatever. I used a lightweight fusible weft interfacing, which is pretty much my go-to for most fabrics.
I left off the mock fly (for aesthetic reasons), and just topstitched the center front and center back seams. I also added some topstitching to the back elastic, to keep it from twisting. And I also unintentionally shortened the pants when I shortened the crotch depth, so they are about 1.5″ shorter than the pattern – which thankfully is the perfect length for me haha.
My fabric is a gorgeous wool suiting that I bought from Mood Fabrics when I was in NY last month for Christmas. I only had one day in Manhattan, and my mom agreed to go with me while I did a quick little shop around the Garment District. Mood has tons of great wool suitings on their website, but I wanted to see the goods in person so I could get a nice feel for drape, weight, itchiness, and color. I knew I wanted something soft, lightweight, non-itchy (as I would not be lining these) and with a little bit of dimension and texture that didn’t look too suit-like. This stuff hit all those boxes, and only cost around $20/yard. It was wide, too, so the 2 yards I bought were more than enough for these pants – meaning I have leftovers to whip up something else if the mood strikes.
I actually pre-washed my wool – like, in the washing machine – because I wanted to see what would happen. Generally, wool felts due to heat combined with agitation, so I used cold water and low heat in the dryer. I didn’t measure before/after to see if anything shrunk, but this definitely isn’t felted so it worked out ok! When I wash the actual pants, I will use cold water in the washer and hang them to dry (how I treat most of my wool garments, except for handknit sweaters obviously).
The wool was really easy to sew, as wool tends to be. I suspect there is some poly blended in here, though, since it didn’t press as well as most wools do (this would also explain why the fabric was fine in the dryer when I pre-washed). I used high heat and a clapper to hold the seams down while they cooled, then for extra credit I topstitched as much as possible to keep the seams nice and flat. To sew, I used a universal 80/12 needle and finished all seams with my serger.
I think that about covers it! This was a fun project to make, and I really like how the pants turned out. I’m still undecided if these are really “me,” but I’ve worn them for the past 2 days while we’ve had a cold snap in Nashville and they are warm and comfortable. I do want to try this pattern with a fabric better suited for warmer weather – such as linen or tencel – and perhaps in a cropped length or even the shorts. The pocket detail just makes me so happy.
Oh! And in case you were curious – the shirt I am wearing is a mash-up of the Nikko Top and the Nettie Bodysuit. I basically just combined the bottom edge of the shirt with the lower half of the body suit, to make a Nikko Bodysuit. This piece has been really useful in my wardrobe – it looks great with high-waisted skirts and pants, and stays tucked in no matter which way I move. I made it with lightweight merino wool fabric, also from Mood Fabrics, and I love it so much!
**Note: The fabrics used in this post were provided to me by Mood Fabrics, in exchange for my participation in the Mood Sewing Network. All opinions are my own!