sugarduck sews

armed with expensive taste and a second-hand sewing machine

Project 001: Progress June 6, 2012

Filed under: Works In Progress — sugarduck @ 6:51 pm

I’m back with an update on my Maia column dress inspired project.  I’m at about the half-way point of this project and it’s coming along quite nicely.   Here’s a rundown of the construction process so-far:

As I mentioned in my last post, I made my own pattern for the tank dress by tracing around a well-fitting knit tank that I already own.  I lengthened it to just below the knee, adjusted the seam line below the waist to allow for my hip curve, and added seam allowances all around.  My top already had the same deep scoop neck as the inspiration dress, so I didn’t have to change anything there.  I used the same pattern piece for the front and back.  I cut out the dress front and back in some black nylon jersey from my stash; this will serve as the dress lining and the base to which I will attach all of the overlapping panels (in the striped fabric – more on that in a second).

The dress lining, cut from my traced tank top pattern.

Speaking of those panels, my technique was admittedly a little haphazard.  I basically laid the dress lining on top of the striped fabric, moved it around until I was happy with the angle of the fabric, then cut around the lining so that the sides would match up when putting the dress together.  The whole panel-cutting-out process took some time and there’s probably a much better way of going about than how I did, but whatever.  The good news is that I didn’t have to repeat this process for the back panels; I simply traced around the panels from the front of the dress to get matching ones for the back.  Because I wanted each panel to end with a black stripe, I made sure to keep an extra gray stripe at the bottom to allow for hemming.

After cutting the first two panels. See how the shape of the sides match up with the dress lining?

After I finally finished cutting all of the panels out, I sewed a narrow hem and cut the excess seam allowance from the back.

The panel finishing process included sewing a narrow hem, trimming the excess seam allowance from the back, and giving the whole panel a good ironing. Each of the hemmed panels ends with a black stripe at the bottom.

So that’s where I am.  All of the panels have been hemmed and are now waiting to be attached to the lining pieces.  Here’s how the panels will look once they’re sewn in place.

The hemmed panels in place on the dress lining.

I’m really exciting about how the dress is coming along so far.  I think I have the most time consuming part of the project behind me now, so it shouldn’t take too long to complete the dress.  I really can’t wait to see how it sews up!


Project 001: Striped Column Dress June 5, 2012

Filed under: Anthropologie,Inspiration — sugarduck @ 4:08 pm


The Inspiration:

Allow me to introduce you to the Maia Column Dress by Bailey 44, which first caught my eye in Anthropologie’s June 2012 catalog.  Apparently, the “Maia” is the most recent offering in a series of similar knit column dresses by the same label. This version is made of a striped nylon/spandex blend, and is listed at $178 (this seems awfully expensive for a garment made of nylon/spandex, but I guess it’s the design being sold more than the fabric).

At first glance, it may seem that the striped panels are simply pieced together with diagonal seams, but closer inspection of the photo shows that each panel actually overlaps the panel below it.  That  means this dress could be adapted to allow for easy breastfeeding access – something that is a pretty big plus for me at the moment.  And so, for my first project on this blog, I’ve decided to make myself a version of the Maia Column Dress.

The Maia Column Dress by Bailey 44

The plan:

Because the dress is basically an elongated tank top, I’m going to make my own pattern by simply tracing around a well-fitting tank top from my closet (lengthening it to dress-length, of course).  I already have a black and gray striped knit fabric in my stash (bought as a 3-meter remnant for 10 euros) that I think would be perfect for this dress.  In fact, one of the previously released column dresses was made with a very similar fabric.  I think it looks really striking with the high-contrast stripes.

Both the length and neckline are different on this black and gray version. I prefer the shorter length and scoop neckline of the Maia version. My fabric is almost exactly the same, though.

I’ve studied the photos on the Anthropologie website and have perused quite a few online dressing-room photos to get a better feel for the details.  **SIDE NOTE**  I’ve discovered that there are actually blogs (many of them, in fact) that exist for the sole purpose of showing what garments look like when tried on in a dressing room (in particular, Anthropologie and J. Crew inspire a lot of this kind of blogging).  Though often low-quality (we’re talking cell-phone pictures taken in a mirror, for the most part), these photos can actually be a goldmine for when you’re trying to get a better idea of the construction of a garment you’ve only seen in a catalog or on a store website.  I especially appreciate that a lot of these photos are taken from the side because you almost never get a side view of a garment on an official store website. **END OF SIDE NOTE**


So now I’m off to trace the pattern and cut the fabric.  Stay tuned…


What this blog is about June 4, 2012

Filed under: hello — sugarduck @ 11:22 am

In this, my first official blog entry, I guess it would be customary to talk about where I’m from and maybe what I “do” in “real life”.  It might even be considered normal to mention my name and to hint at my age bracket (if you’re really interested, there are some basic “me” facts in the “About Sugarduck” rubric at the upper left of this page).  But this is not a blog about who I am.  This is a blog about my three favorite hobbies – sewing, saving money, and attempting to appear as though I’ve participated in neither of those activities.


You see, I love window shopping, but I also love avoiding debt.  So if I want to wear any of those way-outside-of-my-teensy-budget items that so effectively draw me to gaze longingly at all those fancy window displays, I’m going to have to make them myself.  That said, I don’t love wearing clothes that look “homemade”…you know, the kind of clothes that lead people to ask “Oh, did you make that?” without any sort of follow up commentary.  I strive to make well-executed “semi-reproductions” of the looks I like, using what I do have – a second hand sewing machine and some rudimentary puzzle solving skills.  And sometimes I just happen to succeed in what I set out to do.


But don’t get me wrong, it’s not about wanting to trick other people into thinking I’m wearing such-and-such brand.  I could honestly care less about all of that.  For me, it really is all about the thrill of finding a look I love, trying to figure out how it was made, then diving in head-first and seeing what I come up with.  Sometimes I end up with a garment that’s pretty darn close to the original, and sometimes said garment ends up a beast all its own.  The actual fun is in trying to solve the puzzle of the original garment’s construction.  The goal is not necessarily to produce a straight knock-off (though it is pretty satisfying to see how close I can get sometimes), but to use inspiration taken from shops, magazines, and a number of other sources, to help build myself a wardrobe full of clothes that I love and that make me feel good.


That’s what this blog is about.