Progress, Disaster and a Change of Plans

Tea rayon challis, abstract floral poly chiffon and the pattern

Tea rayon challis, abstract floral poly chiffon and the pattern

I wanted an easy, stylish pattern for my first blog project. I picked McCalls 7192,  a loose fitting woven pullover top with a decorative chiffon overlay. It’s labeled Easy, so it probably is. The project was put on hold when my fitted blouse for the Sewing Bee took priority.

I chose a soft rayon challis (from FabricMart) and an old crepe textured poly chiffon from deep in my stash.

The huge chiffon print is one directional. The purple flowers always point the same way. The front piece is oddly shaped. All these factors gobbled up quite a bit of fabric.

Lil Pud (aka Bill The Cat) approves of my plans

Lil Pud (aka Bill The Cat) approves of my plans

I always look at the instructions before sewing. I may or may not follow them. The usual assembly order is to sew darts first, then shoulder seams, collars, etc. Sewing side seams is a relatively late step in the construction process. But the construction order for this top deviated quite a bit from the norm. Bust darts were first, as usual, but the second step was to sew a side seam. Next came the side seam in the chiffon overlay, then the overlay is hemmed.

It took me a moment to realize it was done this way so that the chiffon overlay could be sewn into the shoulder seams, and one side of the overlay could be sewn into one side seam, while on the other side, the underlay and overlay are unconnected at the side seam.

A hairy French Seam. When a French Seam is well sewn, the raw edges are completely encased, with no stray hairs

A hairy French Seam. When a French Seam is well sewn, the raw edges are completely encased, with no stray hairs

I breezed quickly through these steps. I used a french seam in the side of the chiffon overlay. A French Seam is a narrow seam sewn with wrong sides together. The tiny seam allowance ends up on the outside of the garment. Then, the garment is flipped inside out, and a second, slightly deeper seam is sewn right next to the first one, wrapping the raw edges inside the seam allowance.

I used my serger to make a three thread rolled hem with metallic thread for the long hem on the overaly.

I hate switching and changing setting, pulling needles in and out, and fussing with my machines in general. I like to sit down and sew! Sometimes that means changing the construction order so I don’t need to reset my serger over and over again.

I wandered from the instructions and prepared the sleeves next. I used a french seam in the under arm, then the rolled hem. Finally, I ran a line of basting stitches along the sleeve cap for easing into the armhole later.

I re-threaded the serger, finished the existing seams inside the top, and used my Symphony sewing machine to insert the sleeves. Things were looking really good. I decided to finish the seam allowances with a 4 thread overlock stitch on the serger.

And that’s when disaster struck. I was careless, and the knife cut into the top of one of the chiffon sleeves. I don’t think I have enough material left to cut new sleeves, so I’m just going to have to make do with this damaged sleeve. I think I will remove both sleeves, then trim the tops back below the sliced fabric, following the contour of the sleeve top. It might work. We’ll see.

A Change of Plans

Wool blend sweatshirt dress

W11ool blend sweatshirt dress

One reason I started this blog is that I hope to participate in the Fabric Mart Fabricista challenge next year. So of course I had to sew along with the first challenge, even though I started really late.

The challenge is to take an unsuccessful hand made garment and remake into something wearable. I have the perfect garment for this challenge. A couple of years ago I saw a heavy sweatshirt dress with a cowl neck in a high end department store. The designer dress was grey wool, with cuffs on the sleeves. I used red heathered black wool blend from Fabric Mart. It made a warm, snuggly dress. But I spend little time in cold corporate offices these days, and the dress was just too warm.

Inspiration Vogue 8854

Inspiration Vogue 8854

Time for the dress to become a jacket. Vogue 8854  was my inspiration. I borrowed the neckline and high-low hem. I wanted the jacket to open all the way down the front, so that meant extending the placket all the way down the front and eliminating the front pocket. Instead of adding more buttons and loops to keep the front closed, I’ll try to hide a zipper underneath the placket.

The first step, cutting everything apart, is easy and scary. The detached pieces exposed potential trouble spots. The sleeves are narrow, and a bit short. The back neckline of the dress is cut waaay tooo low.

The cowl used a ton of material, so I cut the cowl facing out from the cowl neck. I laid the cut facing out flat, then placed the back of the dress/jacket over it, in such a way that the piece filled in the gap where the neck was too low. I stitched it in place by stitching over the two rows of top stitching along the neck edge. I tucked the raw edges of the shoulder seams under, then used two rows of top stitching to secure them to the under piece.

The pattern pieces from the inspiration design are very different - doesn't look promising

The pattern pieces from the inspiration design are very different – doesn’t look promising

I used the front and back pattern pieces to guide my cutting for the neck and hem of the jacket front and back. The pattern pieces don’t match well to my garment pieces, this does not look very promising.

The rules say nothing about leftovers. I am using a black poly blend ribbing for the thick collar, and adding cuffs with the same ribbing, I could use the ribbing for the extra front placket, too, because I don’t have enough material in the dress alone. But, I am sewing this for fun and I have the leftovers, so I’m going to use them. I cut two front plackets. I have enough left to fix the sleeves for sure, or maybe even cut new ones.

The almost finished front. The zipper is in place behind a full front overlap

The almost finished front. The zipper is in place behind a full front overlap

I sewed the placket on to one side, then attached half the zipper to that side. Using that side as a guide, I pinned and sewed the other half of the zipper to the other placket, then attached the placket to the front bodice. The seam allowance on the second side had to be deeper than the seam allowance on the first side, in order for the underplacket to be completely hidden under the over placket.

Next Up

I like to have a couple of projects going at any one time. I’m almost finished with the chiffon top (in fact, I’d probably be finished by now if I’d been more careful!) so it’s time to start looking ahead.

I’ll use the leftover fabric from the tie blouse to make a skirt. I’ll use Simplicity 1445 , view D.

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