Category Archives: sewing

New Look 6472 Puffy Boho Blouse

Fluffy Peasant Blouse

When an unfortunately placed cup of coffee met my envelope of basic pattern pieces that were tweaked to fit me, I was discouraged. I had to start over again! Well, any excuse to buy more patterns, right? So one of the first patterns I saw was New Look 6472, a puffy peasant blouse. I loved the top in the photo on the front of the pattern! But, elastic at my waist is not a good look for me, so I won’t be making that view, even though it is the reason I chose this pattern. I made View A with the rivet and lace front opening from View B.

I like New Look styles, but I’m at the very top of the size range and still need to make FBA/FWA. On this puffy pattern, FWA is not an issue, and a FBA is easy.

I used a wonderfully light silk/cotton voile in an old fashioned floral print from Fabric  Mart. I’m planning a vacation to a warmer place this summer, and I need some light, airy blouses. The long sleeves will keep the sun off my arms, the puffy style and light fabric will keep things cool.

Reapplying the front facing

I added a navy blue lace ruffle at the neck and at the seam line in the sleeve, just for fun. But, I found myself trying to figure out what to do with the raw edges of lace at the front. Finally, I removed the facing from the slit, tacked the raw lace edges down to the raw edge of the slit, then reapplied the front facing over the lace. Well, truthfully, the previous facing didn’t come off nicely, so I just replaced with a brand new pieces. I f I had thought it all the way through in the first place, I would not have had to remove and reapply the facing.

Gathering with dental floss

Gathering long sections of fabric and distributing the fullness evenly can be tricky with the “Two rows of basting stitches, pull up the bobbin thread” method. So I used the “Zig zag stitch over dental floss” method of gathering the sleeves and neck. The only tricky part is making certain the zig zag stitches don’t catch the dental floss. The floss slides smoothly under the zig zags, so it’s easy to get the fullness even, and the dental floss won’t accidentally break under the strain of gathering

My original plan was to make tiny round buttonholes for the lacing at the front. The test hole worked beautifully. But the first attempt on the top came out in a weird shape. So I resorted to rivets as the pattern suggests.

Pattern Description: Misses Boho Peasant blouses with raglan sleeves and sleeve variations

All the pieces, pattern, lace and fabric

Pattern Sizing: Misses

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes, except I added lace trim and used the sleeves from one view and the bodice from another

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes. This top was very easy to make, and the instructions were clear, correct and concise.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I both like and dislike the narrow neck and wristbands. This is the only part I found “fussy” on this pattern. They required some hand sewing, and I’m not really fond of hand sewing. OTOH, the result is much sleeker and more professional than a drawstring (or elastic) casing, which is how I used to make the necklines for Renn Faire shirts and chemises. So while I dislike hand sewing, I do like the final result

Fabric Used: Silk/cotton voile from Fabric Mart. I chose cotton voile from the drop down list of fabrics, because silk/cotton voile (and just plain silk voile) were not options.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: Added lace trim and did a FBA. Normally I’d need to do a FWA on a New Look pattern, but this puffy style easily fits my thick waist

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Yes and yes. With a little bit more tweaking, this might become the basis for my next basic raglan sleeve peasant top block.

 

 

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Comfy Knit Dress Lekala 4386

Me at the Theater

I love this dress! It’s chic and comfortable. It was also an easy make.

I used a piece of digital print poly-spandex activewear knit from Ebay. The fabric is gorgeous, but I felt it was just a little bit thin and a little limp. I decided to beef it up with an underlining. But, what to use for the underlining? I dove into my stash. Only one of the swimsuit linings in my fabric resource facility (aka stash), a dark deep green, would work at all. Unfortunately, the deep green swimsuit lining was also thin and limp. Another option  was a black t-shirt knit, but I really wanted to use that fabric for something else. Option 3 was a rayon jersey in a soft apricot/flesh tone, but, it cost more than the floral fabric! Then I stumbled across the most unlikely choice of all, a vivid neon pink poly-lycra activewear knit from Fabric Mart. I bought the fabric thinking “Neon pink is cool”! When the fabric arrived, it was, well, REALLY neon pink!! Just a little bit too neon pink, except perhaps as an accent fabric, and I had plenty. So, the inside of my knit dress is neon pink!

On Dolly the Dummy

The pattern was easy, and I made no design changes or major fitting alterations (except I think the pattern may include a back zipper, which I did not use). Like all Lekala patterns, it’s sized to fit. Because it’s made with activewear fabric, it’s super soft and super comfortable. Almost like wearing pjs!!

Laying out the pattern

Usually I try to use as little fabric as necessary. I love leftovers! But, I didn’t plan to get more than one item out of this particular piece of floral print, and the print is kind of large and dynamic, so instead of trying to conserve every scrap, I focused on placing the pattern pieces on the fabric so that key elements of the floral design landed in appropriate places on the dress. Both sleeves have a larger floral motif at the top of the arm, a large motif falls on the right chest/shoulder, and another falls directly under the little faux belt that covers the gathers in front.

Because I was using two layers of fabric, I basted (technically pre-stitched, because i did not remove the stitches) both layers together, then sewed the seams with my serger.

Pattern Description: Knit dress with bodice gathers and a straight, slit skirt

Pattern Sizing: Like all Lekala patterns, it’s printed to your size

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes

Neon Pink Interior, as seen through the slit in the skirt

Were the instructions easy to follow?  Lekala instructions are really just a set of assembly steps, but the steps were easy to understand and in a clear, logical order

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I like the design, and that it was easy to make.

Fabric Used: Digital print poly/spandex interlined with poly/lycra activewear

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: None (except omitting the back zipper because the fabric is so stretchy it isn’t necessary)

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Yes I DO recommend it to others! If you are curious about Lekala patterns, this is an easy one to start with. Would I make it again? Maybe, in a solid color. The design is unique.

 

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Vogue 9206 Tropical Asymetric

Blouse Front

I fell in love with Vogue 9206 instantly. I love the soft gathers, raglan sl

Pinning the neckband in place. It’s difficult to work with slippery fabric

The almost part is that chiffon is super sheer, too sheer for me tor a blouse. So it needed a black lining. The only question was which lining should I use? An inexpensive satin polyester, to match the polyester chiffon? Or should I indulge in black silk habotai from my dancewear stash? I thought two layers of polyester might be a little bit too warm to be comfortable. And, the chiffon was really nice chiffon. So I splurged and lined it with silk. It feels awesome! I also used silk to make the neck band, cuffs, and front facings.

I hate sewing polyester chiffon. It’s slippery, uncooperative stuff. In an effort to tame the unruly fabric, I machine basted the chiffon pieces to their silk companions before trying to use them. It helped a lot, but the chiffon was still grumpy.

I sewed the silk and chiffon layers together at the sleeve seams. I sewed the silk and chiffon layer separately at the side seams. The hem is a simple serger rolled hem with black metallic thread.

I love my finished top! I will make this pattern again, when the right fabric comes along. Next time I will make the armholes a little higher, to give a little bit more mobility.

Pattern Description: Button front blouse with long raglan sleeves, neck band, gentle gathers, and asymmetrical front opening.

Pattern Sizing: Misses – exactly like usual Vogue sizing

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

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I like the interesting asymmetrical front and soft gathers

Fabric Used: Polyester chiffon from Fabric Mart lined with black silk habotai from Dharma Trading Co and glass buttons from Ebay

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: Only the lining because the chiffon is so sheer

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Yes I  recommend it. Yes, I think I will make it again, perhaps in a solid color.

 

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Vogue 8995 Dress (goes with jacket Hacked Vogue 8804 )

This year one of our season tickets to the musical theater includes a performance on Valentines Day. We didn’t even think about trying to eat out on such a busy date night. Instead, we had carry out Chinese before the show.

pink boucle

PINK is the color of Valentines Day, along with red of course. I want a pink dress for Valentines Day!

I fell in love with this awesome pink boucle the instant I saw it. Originally I planned to make a jacket/skirt suit. But, I don’t wear that sort of thing much anymore. I decided to go for a dress. I wanted to color block with something in a solid contrasting color to emphasize the rich woven texture and rainbow of colors on the boucle. I think I pulled every piece of fabric from my stash to find one that would work! It was a tough decision. I finally settled on a blue cotton/spandex knit, leftovers from a tie front pullover. I was a little worried that the knit might be too thin and soft for the boucle.but the high spandex content gives the knit great recovery.

I played around with different color blocking schemes. I wanted the sleeves to be knit for comfort, and to use the blue knit as a neckband. From that point, it was a matter of choosing which pieces looked best in which colors.

One of the things I love about boucle is the softness. But, that can also be a problem, if the boucle decides to sag or bag in an unfortunate place like the behind. To help the boucle keep it’s shape I interlined the boucle sections with plain polyester lining from the stash.

Because boucle is horribly ravelly, I first laid all the pieces out, and traced them with pins and chalk onto the fabric. When I was sure I had more than enough fabric, I laid the pieces out on a single layer (called a flat lay) to make sure the grain stayed straight on each piece. Immediately after cutting each piece of boucle, I finished the raw edges on my serger. I ended up re-serging several of these edges, but my fabric didn’t ravel.

I thought I had taken more construction photos of the dress, but I can’t find them in my phone.

The front section went together quickly without incident. I screwed up the back. I mismeasured, and finished the edges of the back slit so high up it was almost at my butt! NO WAY could I leave the skirt open that high up!! I didn’t know what to do. Picking apart the rolled finished edges would be time consuming and messy. I thought about zigzag stitching the upper portion of the slit together, but I was afraid that would look exactly like the band-aid solution that it was. The boucle was a little thick and bulky to make a nice kick pleat. The lining fabric would make a nice pleat, but, it might look like underwear or something that wasn’t supposed to show – and whatever I used to fill up that crazy high slit was going to show

Pink Dress Front

Then, my eyes fell on the very last scraps of the blue knit fabric. These scraps were almost perfect triangles. I realized if they were tall enough, and I sewed them together, I could make a circular sort of kick pleat. Because it matched the sleeves, neckband and yoke, it would look like it was supposed to be seen. I took a deep breath and grabbed the measure tape. Luck was with me! The triangles were plenty big. I simply cleaned up the shapes a bit, sewed them together to make a wedge shape, and sewed the wedge shape into the giant back slit.

Pink Dress Back

The boucle sections of the skirt have a fairly deep double folded hem. I knew this would be too bulky for the soft, flowy knit in the kick pleat. So I hemmed the boucle sections first. Then, I folded the knit up to the proper hem depth, and topstitched with a slightly stretchy stitch. Finally, I finished the edge off with the serger fairly close to the stitching

 

Pattern Description: Sheath dress with princess seams, interesting shoulder yokes and side and skirt insets.

Pattern Sizing: Misses – exactly like usual Vogue sizing

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes, Except – I used a different color block pattern. And an error resulted in a skirt that’s much less pegged.

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I like the interesting seaming. Lots of potential here for color/texture blocking, decorative seam treatments, etc.

Fabric Used: Polyester boucle from Fabric Mart, with a cotton/spandex knit for color blocking

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: Because my accent fabric is a stretchy knit, I omitted the zipper. The knit portions stretch enough to go over my head and shoulders.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Yes and Yes. The seam lines offer all kinds of opportunities for fun embellishment, and contrasting colors/textures, etc.

It takes a little time to put all the pieces together, but the process itself is easy. This pattern is labeled Very Easy, and I think it is.

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Quick Stripe top with Leather Tabs

Finished Top

This is a simple top. The stripe and leather tabs make it exciting.

I started with a basic long sleeved, tunic length, T-shirt pattern with no darts. I cut it with a slightly scooped neck and elongated sleeves. Instead of a neckband, I cut a simple rectangular cowl collar. I used the serger for everything except piecing the leather wrist straps, hemming the bottom and sleeves, and the buttonhole that the neck tab buttons through. I ruched the sleeves by hand, more on that later.  For the top hem and sleeve hems, I used a decorative stitch on my Babylock Symphony.

The fabric is a polyester knit of some sort, similar to a scuba or thin double knit. It came from my Fabric Resource Storage Area, and lacked a tag.

The leather scrap that became the tabs

I cut the leather tabs from a small piece of leather leftover from costuming. The scrap had some top stitching, and the holes from the top stitching are still visible. I cut the scrap into four strips. I used the nicest strip for the neck tab. I cut the worst strip in half, and sewed each half onto the last two strips, so they are long enough to go around my wrists.

Leather tab on cowl neck

One big potential problem – laundry!! Leather and polyester double knit have very different care requirements. I solved the problem by making the leather tabs removable. The neck tab buttons onto itself through a buttonhole in the top near the neck. The straps button onto glass buttons sewed to the sleeves. Leather doesn’t ravel, and these buttons are purely decorative, so the buttonholes are simple slits in the leather strap.

 

Finally, I ruched the elongated sleeves between the leather strap and the hem. This is where following a pattern can be helpful! I had no pattern, just an idea in my head. In retrospect, I should have run gathering stitches up the sleeve before sewing the sleeve seam. But, I didn’t. Instead, I sewed the sleeve seam and hem, then did the ruching by hand.

ruched sleeves with leather strap

When I wore this top outside on a bright sunny day, I was shocked to realize the stripes are not black but a super dark almost-black navy blue. The blue is noticeable only in super bright light, where the leather tabs are. Or maybe the dark leather simply makes the stripes near it appear blue in bright light? Either way, I still like this top and will continue to think of the stripes as black.

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McCall’s 6992 – Hacked Again!

I love to take a basic, well-fitted pattern and play with it. Changing just a few simple details can make a big difference.

This time, I made a cross front bubble hem version of McCall’s 6992. The pattern is a simple raglan sleeve pullover, with long cuffed sleeves. I started with the basic pattern, back, front and sleeve. I chose a black and white sweater knit from Fabric Mart, and scraps of black jersey from the stash for the binding and cuffs.

I used the serger for most of the construction steps, including sewing the cuffs, sewing the construction seams, and attaching the cuffs.

I cut the neckline ridiculously high and small, because I planned to cut it down to the correct size later. I cut two front pieces. I placed them so that one piece was right side up, then I placed the other piece on top of it, also right side up, lining up all the cut edges. Then, I sewed across the bottom hem. I flipped the lower piece around, so it became the top piece. Both pieces were right side up. The seam allowance of the hem seam was hidden inside the bubbly- poof at the bottom of the front.

I sewed the raglan sleeves to the back piece. Then on the right side of the top, I sewed both front pieces to the raglan sleeve. I sewed both front pieces to the back at the side seam, and sewed the under arm seam. On the left side, I sewed only the lower front piece to the raglan sleeve, and the under arm seam. I pinned both front pieces to the back piece along the seam, but did not sew it.

I popped the top on, marked where I wanted the neckline to be, took the top off, and cut the neckline. I put the top back on, and using straight pins, marked along the line I wanted to follow when cutting the upper layer of the top away.

I took off the top and laid it flat on my cutting mat. I unpinned the left side, and smoothed out the layers. I took a deep breath, picked up my scissors, and cut away the top layer, more or less following the line of straight pins.

I cut strips from the black jersey and used it to band the neck and cutaway front, and to make cuffs.

End result – the cutaway front adds interest to this simple pullover sweater. It was an easy pattern hack.

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Matching dress and boots

The Look

Finished Dress & Matching Boots

Finished Dress & Matching Boots

I really liked two looks from the recent Chanel RTW and Resort collections. I loved the look of riding boots covered to match boucle suits and dresses. I also loved the look of boucle shirtwaist dresses with big shawl collars. The suits and dresses with matching boots had mostly straight skirts, mostly above the knee (or deeply slit at the sides). The shirtwaist dresses with shawl collars had below the knee, fuller skirts, and were layered over raglan sleeve pullovers and pussy bow blouses.

I decided to combine the matching boots with a boucle shirt waist dress, with a shawl collar. I went back and forth between single and double breasted, finally choosing double breasted. The dress would be above the knee to show the matching boots, and I’d layer it with a black, silk pussy bow blouse.

The Fabric and Pattern

I chose a gorgeous evergreen/black polyester boucle, accented with touches of gold, purple, and black and silver eyelash. I chose black polyester charmeuse from fabricwholesaledirect.com for lining. It’s inexpensive, easy to work with, and comes in a rainbow of colors.

Pattern and new shawl collar

Pattern and new shawl collar

McCalls 7087 is a retro inspired double breasted shirt waist dress with two skirt options. It’s a nice, basic style, and one view included a large, shaped collar that I could use as a jumping off point to create my own collar shape. The only thing I needed to add was sleeves. Lekala 4225 was a close second choice. I went with the McCalls pattern, because I didn’t want to take the time to print and tape a pdf pattern, and the McCalls option included a second view with a beautiful full skirt that I might use in the future.

The Matching Boots

The matching boots were a little trickier than making the dress. Obviously, I’d need to find boots that could be covered. Then I had to consider cost. How much did I want to spend on a pair of boots that could potentially be worn with only one dress? Not that much!

My solution was to purchase enough extra boucle to make a jacket, so I can wear the boots with either the dress or the jacket. The jacket is still in the planning stage.

I have wide feet. There, I said it! I can squeeze into some styles of medium width shoes, but wide width footwear is always more comfortable. I started searching at my favorite footwear store, Zappos.com. I looked for a riding boot with a fabric shart and ideally, a fairly short heel or none at all.

But it was at DSW where I found the right boots. Wide width, my size, fabric shaft with a strap at the top. Low heel, kinda chunky soles. I wasn’t wild about the chunky soles, but the rest of the boot was perfect for covering. Plus, they were on sale for $60.

Collecting the Supplies

My search for fabric began. I have a white-red-black boucle, that sort of resembles some of the Chanel outfits. But that color combination screams “Wintertime” to me, I wanted something less seasonal.

I found the ideal boucle on Ebay. The description matched my vision exactly, Sunlight in a Forrest Glen! I didn’t have a pattern yet, so I guesstimated yardage for the dress and to cover the boots and for a jacket. I decided to save a little bit by color blocking the jacket with black denim (or maybe black corduroy).

I made a mock up of the dress out of the black lining fabric, that became the lining for the final dress. I made my usual size adjustments, full bust, thick waist, and it fit nicely with very little tweaking.

Making the Dress

laying out the patternBoucles can be soft, wobbly fabrics. They shift and bag and sag making it hard to cut more than one layer. So I used a single layer layout to make sure each piece was cut  straight on the grain. For pieces cut on a fold, I used the tissue pattern to cut a full size pattern piece. I also cut the pattern on the cross grain because I wanted the black stripes to go up and down my body. I laid all the pattern pieces out on the boucle, experimenting with layouts, trying to conserve as much fabric as possible.

Now, if I had thought this through ALL THE WAY I could have saved a little bit of fabric by cutting the sleeve facing off the neck facing. The sleeve and neck facing from the pattern were all one piece, which is great for a sleeveless bodice. But, I was adding sleeves, and ended up cutting the sleeve facings off the neck facings anyway. Oh well, lesson learned for next time. I think I have plenty of fabric left for my jacket plans.

I borrowed the sleeve pattern from a different pattern. Unfortunately, I goofed and cut the sleeve too small! I salvaged the sleeves by inserting a wide strip in the underarm seam.

I knew I needed to minimize bulk at the neckline, so the underside of the collar is lining. I used fringed strips of fabric, cut on the lengthwise grain, like piping, along the edge of the collar.

I cut the pieces only when I was ready to use them. I immediately finished all the raw edges on the serger. It was a time consuming step, but it prevented raveling and, as a bonus, the seams were all neatly finished as they were sewn.

I assembled the bodice first, then the skirt. I attached the skirt to the bodice, and slipped the lining into it. At that point, I assembled and applied the collar, then the facings. As I predicted, the seam holding the dress, lining, collar and facing was thick and bulky. I graded the seam allowances a bit, using the serger to prevent fraying. I flipped the facing to the inside, then sewed through the facing and all the seam allowances just below the seam.

The pattern makes a skirt that ends well below the knee. I wanted something above the knee to show off the matching boots, but I cut the full length of the pattern anyway. I think I might let the skirt down in the future for a different look. For now, it’s got a very deep hem.

Stitching, including topstitching, tends to disappear into boucle. The front facings wanted to sag away from the dress, the buttons and buttonholes weren’t enough to keep the facings neatly in place. So, about 3″ in from the edge, I sewed the facing to the dress from collar to hem. I used black thread and sewed along a black stripe, the stitching is almost completely invisible.

Choosing the buttons was difficult. I tried several styles and thought I knew which ones I wanted. But, when the dress was completed, I switched to plain black plastic buttons instead. If I make the dress longer, I might switch out these buttons, too.

Covering the Boots

Covering the boots

Covering the boots

The boots were a surprisingly easy project. I choose riding boots with a fabric shaft, so I could hot glue the boucle fabric to the boot. The shafts are not straight columns, they’re cones, narrower at the ankle and wider at the top. Luckily, my boots have a vertical strap from ankle to top on the outside of the leg, opposite the zipper opening on the inside of the leg. The vertical strap let me line up the fabric on a nice, straight vertical edge on the outside of the shaft. As the fabric wraps around to the inside, the pattern begins to skew because the bottom of the cone shaped shaft is smaller than the top. The pattern is quite off kilter where it meets the zipper edge.

I used a piece of interfacing to cut a pattern piece for the boot cover. Then I cut four of the pieces out of fusible interfacing. I applied the interfacing to the boucle before cutting the pieces out. so the edges didn’t ravel.  The boot had two small leather tabs that stretched up onto the fabric shaft, one at the top and one at the bottom. Instead of struggling to fit the fabric around the tabs, I simply covered them up.

Starting at the outside vertical strap, I hot glued the fabric to the boot shaft at the edges, slowly working my way around to the inside zipper edge The only boucle edge that didn’t turn out neat and precise was the edge that met the zipper. I found a short piece of narrow, black velvet ribbon in my ribbon scraps. It was just long enough to cover all four edges at the zipper. I applied the ribbon over the not so neat fabric edges with hot glue.

The End Result

I’m happy with my dress and boots! I wore them once already.  I’ll probably wear the boots a lot more when I make a matching jacket It was chilly the day I wore this outfit, so I added a black  long sleeved silk bow blouse to keep me warm

 

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Cute Lekala Pullover with Ruching and Decorative Buttons

I absolutely LOVE the color of this cotton/wool/spandex knit. I HAD to make something from it as soon as I pulled it out of the FabricMart box!

Pullover in cotton-wool-spandex knit with ruching and decorative buttons

Pullover in cotton-wool-spandex knit with ruching and decorative buttons

I wanted something long sleeve and not too plain. I picked this draped front top with a row of decorative buttons along the left side. The front is actually two layers, a gathered layer over a flat layer.

The fabric was easy to work with, and a refreshing change of pace after my last few makes. The pattern has four main pieces; back, under front, over front, sleeve. It also includes a narrow band at the hem, which I eliminated. I sort of wish I had used the band, to make the hem easier and maybe neater, too.

I was so excited I forgot to take wip photos. I used a serger for construction seams. This pattern has a lot of topstitching. All three bodice pieces are finished with topstitching, as is the left side of the over front.

The pattern calls for 10 buttons, but does not indicate size. I chose 1″ black wooden buttons. There are no buttonholes. The buttons are sewn to both layers, and hold the ruching in place.

In the photo I’m wearing an ivory t-shirt under the top. I was at a dance hafla, and the t is part of my dance costume. So I just wore the t under the top.

At first, I wasn’t sure I liked the end result. Loved the color, but I was worried that the fabric might have been a little too stiff or thick for the ruching. When I was finished, I decided I like it.

Both front pieces are hemmed together. This is the only spot where I had a little bit of trouble, the top layer didn’t want to sit smoothly in the hem. I think that’s why the pattern includes the hem band, to help control the upper layer.

I think this would be a fun top in a soft, thin sweater knit with a hood. When (if) I make it again, I’ll use the band at the hem.

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To Boldly Sew – A Star Trek:TOS Womens Uniform and the Captains Shirt

When Hubby learned that a studio full of recreated sets from Star Trek:TOS was offering tours, I knew we’d be going to visit. And for that, we’d need uniforms.

A genuine Tribble from the actual set and episode

A genuine Tribble from the actual set and episode

My Mini Dress 

The womens dresses on TOS are one piece long sleeved mini-dresses. The outfits worn on the series feature unusual style lines. The bodice is divided into fan and wedge shaped sections, with seams forming a starburst pattern. My vintage Star Trek:TOS pattern is a simple pull over tunic. I wanted something a little more authentic.

It wasn’t hard to find PTN-018, which is an authentic replica of the starburst style mini dresses. I believe it was originally issued by Roddenberry Shop. I purchased my copy from Xscapesprops.com

But before I bought it, I checked Sewing Pattern Review. The reviews of this pattern were pretty bad. So I began searching both vintage and modern dress patterns, from the big commercial companies and small independents, looking for any dress or top with the wedge shapes pieces and starburst seaming. I could find nothing except PTN-018.

If you want the authentic starburst style womens uniform from ST:TOS, this is the only available pattern. But be warned – it’s a terrible pattern!

I was prepared for a challenge. I knew a mock up was vital. It would be foolish to skip this step with this pattern.

Wedge shaped pieces, cut on pleat

Wedge shaped pieces, cut on pleat

I knew I’d use stretch velvet for the actual uniform, so I chose a hippie-style print knit for my mock up. Both have nap, the velvet has the pile nap and the print has a one way design. The velvet came from Fabric Mart about a year ago. I’m not sure where the hippie print came from, I suspect maybe a Fabric Mart bundle.

This pattern is a wasteful fabric hog. If the fabric has nap, nothing can be done about that. Some of the odd shaped pattern pieces must sit on the grain at an awkward angle,

so the fabric will stretch and hang properly. If you are using a good 4 way stretch fabric with no nap and no right or wrong side, you might be able to squeeze pieces closer together to reduce waste, by flipping them upside down or setting them on the crossgrain. I couldn’t do that, and so I ended up with a big pile of scraps from both the mock up and the final uniform.

The instructions apologise for having one pattern piece printed on two separate pieces of paper, requiring you to tape the pieces together. There’s a lot more serious issues here than just taping one pattern piece together.

The Instructions

The Instructions

In theory, it isn’t too hard to put the pattern pieces together. Piece A is sewn to piece B, etc. But the instructions are completely unclear. The crude, hand drawn diagrams showing how the pieces fit together are essential guides.

The neck opening on the mock up turned out stupidly large. As in, 42 inches large. How do you even draft a pattern with a neck opening bigger than the hips??

I “fixed” the problem by taking deep darts along the neck. As I looked at those darts on the inside out mock up, I gradually realized I had actually added a shoulder seam to the design. The downside of this solution is that it raised the waist well above my natural waistline.

This pattern is SHORT!! Yes, I know these uniforms are VERY short on the women in ST:TOS. I made the mock up just an inch or so longer than the pattern. But, I wanted something that covered my bottom and at least part of my thigh, so I added about 6″ to the length of the skirt.

There is no Lengthen Here marking on the pattern. And 6″ is a lot to add in one spot. I picked two spots, and lengthened the skirt 3″ at each spot.

The sleeves were just a little short. I added about 2″ or so for a nice hem on the final uniform.

The instructions suggest sewing both the upper arm seam and the lower arm seam completely, then applying the rank insignia braid. It’s much easier to leave most of the under arm seam unsewn and apply the brain to the flattened sleeve. Then finish sewing the under arm seam and hem the sleeve. I used replica braid from Xscapesprops.com.

On the Bridge

On the Bridge

To apply the braid I used clear thread in the machine and ordinary thread in the bobbin. I used an even zig zag stitch to apply the long braid strip. I used a narrow to wide to narrow zigzag stitch pattern to apply the broken braid sections.

The armhole is high and there’s little ease in the upper arm. I used a very stretchy fabric, so these fitting idiosyncrasies weren’t an issue for me.

The corner of the pleat on the skirt is supposed to be tacked to the closest starburst seam, but it actually ended up in the middle of my belly. The pleat needs to be deeper to reach the nearest seam (it might work better on someone with a flat stomach).

I was surprised the narrow collar was just one piece. It didn’t make sense. Maybe you’re supposed to cut two pieces and seam them together along the long, straight side? But the pattern piece says “Cut 1”, and the instructions don’t say anything about sewing two pieces together. All they do is suggest interfacing the collar if it’s too soft.

I made the collar about 3/4 inch deeper, and placed that long straight side on a fold. I cut the short ends and shaped long side. I applied the folded collar to the neck edge with my serger.

I omitted the zipper. My fabric is stretchy enough to pull the dress on and off.

The zipper instructions didn’t make any sense. If I were to make this costume again, in a fabric that required a zipper, I’d ignore the instructions completely and put an invisible zipper into one of the side seams.

In the end I am happy with my uniform. But it was a long struggle to get this pattern to that point. Unfortunately, I could not find any other patterns, and didn’t want to draft my own, so using this pattern as a starting point was the only solution.

The Captains Shirt

Captain and Friends

Captain and Friends

Hubby’s costume was much, much easier. The mens uniform shirts are just raglan sleeve pullovers with a slightly modified V-neck. I have several raglan sleeve pullovers in my size, but none that would fit him. Instead of messing around grading one of my patterns, I picked up Simplicity 1605 and cut a L-XL.

I used a gold stretch velvet from Spandex World, and black polyester ribbing from my stash. The pattern was simple, but I mismeasured the neck band. So, as a quick fix, I took a tuck in the neck band on each side at the shoulder seam. I have plenty of ribbing, so I plan to replace the neckband before he wears it again.

Simplicity 1605 is a nice raglan sleeve pullover and pajama pants or shorts pattern. I didn’t look at the instructions until I decided to review the pattern, because I didn’t think I could write a complete review without looking at them. They were correct, concise and clear. They explained how to sew the seams on an ordinary straight stitch machine, a zigzag stitch machine and a serger.

The pattern pieces fit together perfectly. The notches matched up and the shirt fit. This is a good pattern for beginners. The top is a great basic piece that can be made up in short or long sleeves, in one solid color or color blocked For more advanced sewists who want to play with a raglan sleeve  design, this pattern is a nice starting point.

 

 

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Sewing a Sweater : FabricMart 2016 Sew Along

Well, I was not picked to participate in this years Fabricista contest sponsored by Fabric Mart. But, I can still sew along!

Sweater knit and pattern

Sweater knit and pattern

The challenge was to make a sweater knit garment. The participants were given three yards of abstract print sweater knit. The rest of us in the sew-along were on our own!

I dug through my stash and found several possibilities. One was a red-pink leftover, I thought about combining it with black denim (the rules don’t specifically exclude other fabrics, and I’m just sewing along so I can bend and even break rules).  I still may do this, maybe in a jeans style jacket.

In the end, I chose a black and heathered teal stripe polyester sweater knit from Fabric Mart. The contestants got three yards, but I had only two.

Sewing Tip: Not all knits are the same! Most patterns made for knits have a stretch chart printed on the pattern envelope. The pattern is sized for knits with that amount of stretch. If your knit is not as stretchy, the finished garment may be hard to get on or off, or maybe not fit at all. You can use knits that stretch more, but not less, than the amount the pattern needs.

I like the collar from McCall’s 6796 . I extended the bodice to tunic length. I also lengthened the sleeves. Some designers are showing very long, ruched sleeves on sweaters this fall, so that’s what I did with my sleeves.

Then I was left with one final, difficult choice. Which buttons to use? I found several possibilities in my button box, and settled on some plastic copper-ish colored  shank buttons featuring a smooth dome wrapped with a rope.

Extended sleeves, one ruched, the other not yet

Extended sleeves, one ruched, the other not yet

Sewing Tip: Gravity Rules. Knits are stretchy! Soft, stretchy, drippy knits can slide out of shape when you’re pinning the pattern on them. When cutting knits on a table, it’s important to keep ALL the fabric on the table. If the knit is allowed to drape off the edge, it will begin to stretch, pulling and distorting the rest of the fabric under the pattern pieces. The end result is badly cut, possibly misshapen and maybe unusable pieces. Keep all the fabric on the same level to prevent distortion.

I vacuumed the hallway carpet before moving my cutting mat and fabric onto the floor. I used the floor because all the fabric is on the same level. It can’t fall off a table or drape over an edge. Kay-see Cat (aka the Cheshire Cat) loves to lay on fabric and roll on the cutting mat – when everything is on the table. When the cutting mat is on the hallway floor, Kay-see won’t step on it, she tiptoes along the edge against the wall to get past it! Silly cat it’s the same mat!

The pattern is simple, a front and back both cut on folds, a sleeve and a collar. There are no darts. It was easy to cut the single layer collar. It was a little trickier to make sure the stripe ran smoothly all the way across the folded fabric, I used pins to identify which stripe was which.

Buttons, buttons

Buttons, buttons

The main construction steps went fairly quickly. I stay stitched along the front and back neck edges. I sewed the shoulder and side seams directly on the serger. I sewed a strip of narrow satin ribbon into the shoulder seam to stabilize it and keep it from stretching. I sewed the sleeve seams on the serger. I sewed quite slowly, making sure the stripes matched along the side and sleeve seams.

Sewing Tip: Don’t pull on it! Knits sometimes move unevenly under the presser foot. The feed dogs pull the lower layer back away from you while the presser foot pushed the top layer towards you. The top layer creeps down the seam while the bottom layer creeps up. If you’re sewing something like stripes, the stripes won’t line up.  It’s really tempting, especially on a serger, to try to fix this by stretching both layers until they appear even. They might be even, but they will also be distorted. A seam that’s stretched as it’s sewn on a serger will ripple. Use a stabilizer or tissue under the seam or over the seam or both. On a regular machine,  try a special walking foot. Some machines allow you to control the presser foot pressure, if yours does, you can try easing the pressure a bit. On a serger, you might need to adjust the differential feed (see your sergers instruction manual or a serger reference book).

Finished Sweater

Finished Sweater

For the collar, I folded it right sides together, serged the short ends, turned it right side out, and basted the long, raw edges together with a long machine basting stitch.

I’m not sure I love the way the instructions tell you to install the collar, and I’m not sure I love the way I installed the collar, and I’m not sure if the method I used is the method the pattern is describing.  I serged the long raw edge of the collar to the neck edge, on the right side of the bodice. Then I folded the serged hem allowance down against the inside of the bodice. I moved the collar up and out of the way, and topstitched the seam allowance down against the bodice. The stitches blend in with the serged allowance on the inside, and are hidden under the collar on the right side.

The sleeve has a high cap so I used a line of ease stitching to fit it into the armhole. I stitched this seam on the regular machine first, then finished it on my serger.

I love my new sweater! I finished it when the weather was still warm (unusually warm for Ohio). I finally got to wear it in mid-November!

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