McCalls 7464 Cute Dress

McCalls 7464 is a cute variation on a simple princess seam shift dress. At the waist, the curved princess seams turn back towards the side seams, reaching them at the hips, making neat curved insets at each side. With the right choice of material and pattern, this can be a slimming style. With the wrong choices, not so much.

I used a polyester boucle from Ebay. I liked the little bit of multicolor sprinkled into the basic black and white, almost striped, pattern.

At first, I thought that adding thin black piping to outline the curved princess insets would be slimming enough, and, in a different fabric, they might be. But the horizontal lines in this boucle just made me look wide.

So I ended up removing the insets and replacing them with solid black double knit insets. Why double knit? Well, I wanted black, but my stash had no plain, black wovens heavy enough to work (rayon challis is way too light to work with the suiting weight polyester boucle). But, I had  yards and yards of this sturdy black, slightly twill looking double knit. I had originally purchased a small piece for pants. I made them up, loved them, and promptly ordered a lot more fabric, thinking I’d be making a lot more pants. But, after two or three wearings as pants, the fabric started to pill miserably. I’ve used it since then in tops and dresses and it holds up much better in those applications. It’s a sturdy knit that holds it’s shape well, so I used it for my replacement inserts.

The pattern itself is fairly simple. A front, a back, a front side insert, a back side insert, and sleeved, your choice of 3/4, elbow or sleeveless. The directions were clear, the assembly order made sense, and the notches matched up.

One selvade of my fabric had awesome short, soft fringe, with traces of the multicolor. I used a double thickness to finish the neck and sleeves. My original plan was to use a single layer and finish the skirt hem with a single layer of the same fringe, but I didn’t have enough selvage to do that. So, I doubled up on the fringe and the neck and the sleeves.

That left a dilemma for finishing the hem. The other selvade was not attractive and had no fringe. I was going to make my own fringed edging for them when I saw some designer dresses online with completely unfinished hems. The fabric had been left to fringe naturally, much like old denim shorts.

So, that’s how I finished the hem of the skirt. I just cut it off!!! I’m not sure I like the look, but I can always change it by turning it up with a facing or edging.



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Lekala 4213 New Years Eve in May!

Well, not really. What happened was our NYE plans changed a couple of weeks before the event. So, instead of finishing the dress I’d planned to wear, I pushed it to the back of the pile, and didn’t get around to finishing it until May!

For NYE I wore a silk animal print bow blouse and slim black pants with ankle boots. It was VERY cold that night, I’m glad I chose to wear pants to the less-formal party. We went to a Frank and the Rat Pack impersonators. It was loads of fun!

But, back to the dress. I like this Lekala pattern. I think the simple shift design is slimming, and I love the French darts! The sleeve ruffle is cool, if only because sleeve ruffles are still popular. The first time I made this, I used a blue rayon challis. After wearing it a few times, I added embroidered flowers to it. Now, it sadly has a grease stain! My plan is to add more embroidery flowers, to hide the stain.

This make is actually two dresses in one. The sheer overdress is black mesh with three dimensional black bows. The underdress is royal blue. Why royal blue? Well, black under the black mesh made everything disappear, visually. A nude color fabric under the mesh would be great for the right person, but that person isn’t me. I went into my stash first, and ruled out several light and bright colors. The contrast between say, ballet pink or hot sour apple green and the black mesh was a little too much. The final three color choices from my stash were Emerald Green, Dark Purple, and Royal Blue, and I picked the blue.

For the underdress, I chose a polyester Royal Blue Crystal Ponte knit. I left the neckline raw and  cut to a jewel shape, so I could adjust it later to match the eventual neckline of the over dress. At this point in time I didn’t know exactly how the finished neckline was going to look. I omitted the sleeve ruffle, and left the sleeves and hem raw.

Next, I tackled the sheer mesh. It had a lovely scallop design along the edge that I wanted to use as the hem and sleeve ruffle. So I turned the pattern sideways, and cut the dress on the cross grain, lining things up so that the scalloped edge fell were I wanted the finished hem to be. Again, I left the neckline raw and cut to a jewel shape, just big enough to slip over my head.

I knew the huge dart intake would be visible through the mesh, and to make matters worse, part of that intake was 3-d bows! So I had no choice, except to tweak the darts until they were perfect, then trim away the dart excess. Taking those first snips was scary!

I used French seams for the side and underarm seams. I cut and attached the sleeve ruffle. I photographed the mesh overdress only, laying flat against my cutting board. This allows the detailed 3-d decorations to be visible. When the overdress is on my dummy, the black on black causes all the detail to disappear. The neckline is still raw and shallow in this photo, I add the black lace collar later

Then, I marked the hem and sleeve hem on the blue underdress. I used a blue variegated thread in the looper of my Babylock Evolve in Coverstitch mode.

I picked out a black lace collar for the overdress. And then I stopped working on the dress. For about four months!

The last step was putting the blue underdress on, the lace dress over it, and marking on the blue dress where the neckline needed to fall to hide behind the lace collar. Then I cut the neckline and finished it with a narrow binding applied with a coverstitch and variegated thread.

Because this is actually two separate dresses, I could wear them separately. I could wear the blue dress by itself (though I probably won’t) and I can wear the lace overdress with a different colored underdress. Which, i just might do! I think the black mesh dress would look nice over a rich red underdress for Valentines Day.



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Lekala 4386 Double Take

Double takes, that is, making two of the same garment at once, can be easier or harder. On this double make, one project was super easy the other painfully difficult!

To be fair, I think the biggest problem was me. I was soo anxious to dive into this wonderful, textured red knit from Fabric Mart that I started cutting the same day I pulled it out of the box. I think the knit was stretched in some odd way, and if I had waited to let the fibers relax back into shape, things would have gone smoothly.

Border Print Knit Dress

So, I needed a quick, comfortable dress for the theater, and also wanted a transitional tunic top. Here in Cleveland we joke about having three seasons: Winter, Mud, and Road Construction. And it’s true, the closer you are to the shore, particularly on the eastern side of Lake Erie, the icy cold lake waters keep winter lingering until the rest of Ohio has warmed up. Days often start chilly, get quite warm, then chilly close to sundown. I’m not the worlds biggest polyester fan, but poly works well for this kind of weather. I like tunics. I like this pattern. And I love love love the red knit.

For the dress I used some border print ity knit from my stash. The knit was really soft and limp, so I did exactly what I did the first time I made this dress – I lined it with activewear knit from my stash. The result is a thicker hand and the dress has a more substantial feel to it.

Everything went smoothly on the dress, in part, because ity knits are so drippy and stretchy in both directions. This allowed me to cut the pieces with the grainline running crosswise, and the floral border running along the hem of the dress.

Red Knit Tunic Length

As I’ve already said, the tunic length version didn’t go so smoothly. I had to rip and resew the shoulder seam several times. It still sits a bit funny on my shoulders.

I’m really glad I took the time to baste the seams on my sewing machine with a narrow zig zag stitch before serging them. I despise ripping out serged seams!

I may not be thrilled with the way this make fits, but I got several compliments when I wore it. So. I’m Happy!

April was a busy busy month for me. I got the necessary sewing done, but I didn’t do very well at documenting my process, just the finished items on Dolly.

Notice the wrinkles at the shoulder on the red tunic.

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Book Review – Stress Free Quilting with Machine Embroidery

Hello, folks! April and Tax Day already!! I went on vacation in March, then the Cleveland Sewing Expo, and finally I have a chance to blog a bit.

I picked up this spiral bound book at the Pins and Needles booth at the Sewing Expo. Pins had a huge table of 50% (or more!) off stuff, and that’s my kind of stuff!!

I didn’t look at the book too closely when I bought it. I knew it was quilting, and used and embroidery machine, and had a cd in the back. I was with some friends who sew a little. They enjoyed themselves and the quilt exhibit, but weren’t that interested in spending several hours at a half off table! So I grabbed it.

This is not just a how-to book with designs, it’s a really cool way to assemble quilt blocks in the hoop using an embroidery machine. The system bastes and lays down guidelines, then pauses. Now, you take your piece of quilt fabric, position it so the proper edge is aligned with the machine-stitched guideline, and press Resume. The machine stitches the piece down making an absolutely perfect straight seam (as long as you aligned it with the guideline), stitches the next guideline and pauses again. Now, you flip your fabric up to hide the seam, press it in the hoop with a mini iron, and align your next piece. Press resume, and the machine stitches down the piece and places the next guideline, etc, etc, until your quilt block is complete.

The end result is a perfectly pieced quilt block, already pressed.

The book also includes instructions and stitching patterns for piecing the finished blocks together, adding a binding, and quilting the blocks. It includes 4 block designs, in three different sizes.

Although I didn’t see it mentioned in the book, Youtube has tutorials with Nancy Ziemen and   demonstrating the process step by step. The tutorials are free to watch so check them out!!

I’m not a big quilter, but this looks like fun and I’m planning to try it!

IF you love using your embroidery machine, and enjoy quilting, you will like this book

IF you have trouble piecing quilt blocks, and have an embroidery machine, you will like this book

IF you do not have an embroidery machine, you won’t be able to use this system


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Simplicity 3955 OOP Animal Shaped Fleece Throw Bear, Lady Bug, Clown Fish

I needed to make a little something for my newest grand-niece. I found this pattern in my craft pattern stash. I think it is OOP now, because the going price on Ebay and Etsy is almost $40!! It’s a nice pattern, but NOT worth THAT much money!!

I probably should have looked at the dimensions printed on the back of the pattern envelope before beginning this project. Because this throw is WAY too big for an infant! Hopefully she will grow into it, or maybe her older brother will enjoy it right now. This throw is close to 5 ft x 6 ft! It’s almost adult sized!

The concept behind these throws is simple. Fleece doesn’t ravel, so there’s no need to finish the seam allowances or edges. The seam allowances are on the FRONT or TOP or OUTSIDE of the throw. This puzzled me for a minute, until I realized it leaves a smooth back, which might be more comfortable.

It also allows the seam allowances to become outlines on the animal shape. Very clever!

The throws are a double layer of fleece, When the underlayer is a different color from the upper layer, and the seam is sewn with the seam allowance on the outside, the contrasting bottom color seam allowance makes a nice design line.

The only problem is that in some places this makes a LOT of layers. Two layers of fleece, sewn together to make a single piece, isn’t bad. Sew two of those layers together and you’re sewing through four layers of fleece. Now cross that seam at 90 degrees with yet another seam, and now it’s just a thick monster. And, because I was using furry fleece, I had a thick, furry monster. My poor Babylock Symphony struggled in places, and that machine never ever struggles!

I didn’t use the black and white suggested by the pattern. I fell in love with a three yard pre cut piece of brown and cream camouflage furry fleece at my local craft store. I chose a furry brown for the head. I wanted cream for the belly, but they had no furry cream so I settled on foggy grey.

I had a little trouble keeping the slippery fleece layers together when stitching the top layer to the bottom layer. I wish I had used my walking foot!

I think I will use this pattern again, to make the bug. I have some bright green fleece in my stash and the craft store carries black fleece. BUT I will look for ways to reduce the bulk in some of the seams. And, I will use my walking foot when sewing the top layer to the bottom layer, to reduce stretching and slipping.

Would I recommend this pattern? Yes, but not for $40! I suggest buying the current animal throw pattern, and use that as a starting point to draft your own bug, or bear, or fish, or dinosaur, or whatever.

Also, this bear seems to have no hands or front paws. I’ll add them if I make the bear again.

And yes, the bears nose IS crooked!! I’m going to blame my cat for that. KC liked laying on the bear during construction. Maybe the bear thinks KC smells funny? LOL!!!!

<b>Pattern Description: </b>
Fun animal shaped fleece throws

<b>Pattern Sizing:</b>
One size fits all

<b>Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?</b>
Yes, except I used different colors

<b>Were the instructions easy to follow?</b>
Mostly yes. The seam allowances for these throws are on the RIGHT or OUTSIDE of the throw. I didn’t see this mentioned in the instructions, although it’s clear from the drawings.

<b>What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?</b>
In some places, the double layer of fleece plus the folded back seam allowances make a lot of bulk, and that’s doubled in places where seams meet and cross

<b>Fabric Used:</b>
Fluffy fleece

<b>Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:</b>
I used different colors

<b>Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?</b>
Yes, I would sew this again, but I’d take steps to reduce the bulk at the seams and maybe even make my version reversible. The bug looks like a fun throw!

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Kwik Sew 3121 with Faux Ribbing

Kwik Sew 3121 is pretty much my go-to pattern when I want a dartless, boxy fit pullover. It makes a great starting point for interesting designs. This particular design features a full cowl neck of self faux ribbing adorned with a decorative buckle, and long, full sleeves ending in thick cuffs of self faux ribbing.

For this make, I used a soft poly sweater knit with just a touch of metallic gold from Fabric Mart.  I made the faux self-ribbing from the fabric by sewing pin tucks, following threads in the sweater knit.

The faux ribbing is one of those fun projects I will never do again!! It was difficult to get right and very time consuming. At first I tried following the suggestions I found online and in an old issue of Threads Magazine to use a twin needle and a pin tuck foot. No matter what I did to the tension, stitch length or any other setting, the tucks came out messy at best. Worst still the thread from spool # 2 kept breaking. I tried rethreading, I tried different spools of thread, nothing helped.

Eventually I gave up and started looking through my stash for an acceptable alternative ribbing. I toyed with the idea of abandoning the ribbing altogether. I had no suitable alternative ribbing, so I decided to give it one more try.

This time, I used a single needle and a zipper foot, following the pattern in the sweater knit. To keep the ribbing even and avoid twisting, I stitched every tuck in the opposite direction. The resulting tucks were wider and deeper than the results from the twin needle and pintuck foot. And it took a little practice to get each tuck neat. It took a very long time, going up one tuck and down the next, and a lot of thread, to actually gather the material into the tucks. The faux ribbing also used a lot of material. The cowl neck is made from a strip of flat fabric a full 60 inches long! But with all the pin tucks, it gathers into a piece of faux ribbing just big enough to finish the neck!

NOTE: In the photos the sleeve is pinned to the front of the sweater so it’s easy to see the deep self faux ribbing on the cuffs.


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Butterick 5954 Again!

This make was a spontaneous spur of the moment kind of thing. I had just put the pattern away in the pattern drawer, and was digging through my stash looking for a piece for a different project. I came across this amazing Lilly Pad Green chenille design crepe knit. I knew I had to make it up in a short sleeve version of this Butterick  pattern, so I went right back to the pattern drawer and pulled it back out.

At first I was afraid I would not have enough fabric to get all the pieces going in the same direction. I decided if one big piece had to be upside down, it would be the front overlap. And, if necessary, I could cut the sleeves on the cross grain. But luckily I was able to get all the pieces, including the sleeves, going in the right direction.

I used a coverstitch on the hem again, but this time I had a little trouble with the thread breaking. I don’t know why. I used a mini-cowl for the collar and added a couple of  green glass buttons for extra color. I used the short sleeves, but instead of hemming them up all the way around I tacked the hem up in just a few spots, and added a button, so the sleeves have a little bit of poof at the bottom.

I love the softness, texture and color of the fabric. And I love the long, full back on this pattern. The line drawing really doesn’t show just how full the back is.

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Butterick 6487 The Real Make

SilkblouseoneI rarely make samples or mock ups, but I’m glad I did with Butterick 6487. I did it because I was afraid the design changes I made would cause a problem. Instead, I made several silly mistakes, and I’m glad I got them out of the way on the sample blouse!

For this make I used a floral print silk crepe de chine from Fabric Mart. The piece was barely enough for blouse and long ties, even a tiny cutting mistake could ruin the project completely!

Learning from my sleeve mistake on the previous make, I double checked each pattern piece to be sure it was the correct piece. The ties are rectangles cut on the cross gran from the little bit of fabric left after cutting out the blouse.

I also remembered my vent mistake on the previous make. This time I used a piece of super light weight fusible interfacing on the spot where the sleeve is slit, to prevent raveling. The pattern suggests a narrow hem on the slit, but I prefer faced slits. So I cut a piece of scrap into a rectangle, and interfaced it with the same super light weight fusible. I placed the facing face down on the right side of the sleeve. I stitched along the stitching lines, using a shorter stitch (1.8) near the top and taking two stitches across the top. Then I cut the slit as close as I could possibly get to the two top stitches. I didn’t have to worry about anything fraying or raveling because both sleeve and facing are fused to interfacing. Then, I pushed the facing through to the right side, pressed it in place, and topstitched.

The rest went together so easily there isn’t much to say. The ties are slightly wider than the neckband, and slightly gathered where they are attached to the neckband.

I LOVE the ties! They are so much fun. I wore it with a bow tied on the left side, but it could easily tie on the right as well. The photos here show the blouse with the tie as I wore it, with a bow tied low in front, with a bow tied low in back, and with the ties wrapped once around the neck and draped dramatically over the shoulders and down the back.

In the photos, the ties sort of blend into the top. IRL the ties stand out more clearly.


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Butterick 6487 Test Run

Inspired by a designer blouse, I wanted to make Butterick  6487 with a couple of potentially complicated alterations. I wanted to move the zipper from back to left shoulder. A zipper on the left shoulder is easier for me to do than one in back. My plan included long ties at the neck that could be tied many different ways, including at the back of the neck and draping down the back. So moving the zipper to the left shoulder keeps it out of the way.

The other potentially troublesome alteration was an FBA. Following the advice from the helpful members of Sewing Pattern Review Forum, I added side darts.

If I was doing just one alteration or the other, in a moderate or cheap fabric, I’d just dive in and do it. But, I planned to use a piece of silk crepe de chine from Fabric Mart. It was a pricier fabric, and no more was available.

So for this make I used some floral rayon challis from my stash, leftovers from a different project. To dress it up a bit I decided to cover the collar and cuffs with scraps of black lace.  I skipped the ties on the sample top.

The FBA went smoothly, and inserting an invisible zipper in the left shoulder seam was surprisingly easy. In fact, everything went together smoothly, until it came time to apply the cuffs to the sleeves. And then I realize I omitted the vent in the sleeve, and the cuff is huge. It flops over my hand. Adding a vent at this stage is trickier than installing a vent while the sleeve is still flat. A vent is a lot of extra steps; cutting the facing or binding, interfacing the opening, installing the vent itself, then the cuff. I’m not sure how easy it will be to put a buttonhole in lace covered fabric.

Throwing caution to the wind I decide to make faux cuffs, permanently sewn closed, just big enough for my hand to slip through. I’ll use the same technique used to attach a ribbed cuff to a knit sleeve, by gathering the end of the sleeve, slipping the sleeve inside the cuff, lining up raw edges and notches, serging the cuff to the sleeve and finally flipping the cuff down.

I start by pinning the cuffs to the proper size, with a red pin holding the inside lap, a blue pin marking the outside overlap, and a white pin matching the button position. I’m not going to do a buttonhole, I’ll just sew the button to all layers of cuff.

Lace band inserted into the sleeve

I start with the sleeves right side out. I mark the notch on the outside/backside of the sleeve with a blue pin. I turned the cuff inside out, slipped it over the sleeve, and lined up the blue pins. I adjusted the gathers evenly around the cuff, and sewed it to the sleeve.

Amazingly, it worked! Then, I closed the cuff and sewed on a permanent decorative button.

Next I attached the sleeves to the bodice, and tried it on. That’s when I discovered Big Mistake Number Two.

The sleeve was way too short and a little weird. What went wrong?? Well, me, of course, I used the WRONG pattern piece!!

I wasn’t giving up on this top! I picked a spot about 4″ about the cuff, and cut the cuff off the sleeve. I used the very last bit of black lace scraps to make wide bands that I inserted into the sleeve. The band extended the sleeve enough so that it fits comfortably. And because I used the same lace on the cuffs and collar it actually looks intentional!

Invisible zip in left shoulder. The zipper tails are not sewn down yet

In spite of the mistakes, the odd corrections, and the fact that the lace and fabric are scraps from other projects this blouse came out nice.

<b>Pattern Description: </b>
Misses blouse with gather detail mock neck, cuff or ruffle sleeve, and optional contrast yoke

<b>Pattern Sizing:</b>

<b>Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?</b>
Yes, in spite of all my errors, it does look like the pattern envelope!

<b>Were the instructions easy to follow?</b>
Yes, the instructions were clear and correct

<b>What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?</b>
I like the gathering at the mock neck. I did not like the zipper in the back seam

<b>Fabric Used:</b>
Floral rayon challis and black lace. Both are scraps from previous projects

<b>Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:</b>
FBA by adding side darts. Moved the zipper from the back to the left shoulder. The cuffs are mock cuffs, due to my mistake. I added a wide lace band on the lower part of the sleeve, again to correct my mistake

<b>Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?</b>
Yes, I would sew this again. As a matter of fact, this particular blouse is actually a test make for another blouse from this pattern

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Butterick 5954 knit pullover top

Butterick 5954 is an easy, elegant pullover top. I was drawn to the wrap effect with a cowl neck. Cowls are big this year, and I’m happy about that! I missed the full, deep cowl necks from the 1970s.

I used an Aegean blue jacquard knit from Fabric Mart. I made the long sleeved version with the cowl neck. I love it! It’s soft and comfortable. I love the high-low hemline and the super full, swishy back.

This is a very easy pattern, especially views A & B . Views C & D are very easy too, but the construction sequence is a little different. The side seams are sewn and the bottom is hemmed before the shoulder seams are sewn. This is so the finished hem edge is tucked neatly into the shoulder seam. The front is essentially two front pieces, one over the other.

I used my coverstitch machine to finish the hem. The only seams I machine based were the shoulder seams and the armhole seams. Everything else I serged on the first pass. I must say construction goes a lot faster this way!

But I’m glad I basted the shoulder seams, because on the first try, I mixed up the right and left sides. I have dyslexia, so sometimes that happens. I just undid the basting, and tried again. The second time I got it right, so I serged the shoulder seams.

The full swishy back. It’s much nicer in person

I serged the sleeves, and finished them with a coverstitch.

I used the two pass method to attach the cowl. First I lined up one raw edge of the cowl with the raw edge of the neck and stitched it. Then I folded the collar, and stitched in the ditch

Pattern Description:
Easy knit pullover tunic. Close-fitting and flared, pullover tunic has front variations, high-low hemline and narrow hem. Wrong side shows on back hemline. A, B: Scoop neckline. A: Sleeveless. B: Three-quarter sleeves. C: Short sleeves. D: Long sleeves. C, D: Cowl collar and overlapping tulip hem.

Pattern Sizing:

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
Yes, it did. Except prettier!

Were the instructions easy to follow?
Yes, they were easy. Views C & D use an unusual construction sequence because of the wrap front, but it’s logical and easy to follow

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
The long full swishy back!

Fabric Used:
Poly knit jacquard in Aegean blue

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
Yes to both! I would sew it again (in fact, I already did) and yes, I would recommend it to others

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