Category Archives: sewing

Lekala Skirt

Finished Skirt

This easy skirt was an impulse make. I was sorting through leftovers and scraps. I had some pieces of black and white tweed leftover from my attempt at a French Jacket, but not enough for a matching skirt. I did have a lot of this diagonal weave stretchy double knit. I originally bought a LOT of it for leggings, but it didn’t hold up well as pants, and tended to pill. It did hold up well as side panels in a dress, so I thought it might work as side panels in a skirt. I used some thin braided piping to accent the panels.

The Lekala pattern has gathers in only one side of the skirt. I don’t know why or what went wrong for me, but when I had the gathers on one side only, it looked odd. I was sooo disappointed, because I felt that I had wasted the neat little braid and tweedy boucle. Fortunately, I had just enough black and white fabric leftover to cut a new front piece, this time with three diagonal tucks across the front instead of the asymmetrical ruching.

I made the design change before I attached the waistband but after the skirt was assembled. So, I carefully removed the asymmetrical front panel, and replaced it with the new panel featuring three diagonal tucks. The tucks are not as obvious as the awkward ruching, but still adds interest to the skirt.

Lekala Design

I used the stretchy knit for the waistband, so it’s very comfortable. I think the stretchy side panels also add to the comfort.

Pattern Description:

Princess seamed pencil skirt with asymmetrical ruching in the front panel

Pattern Sizing:

All Lekala patterns are printed to your custom size

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

Yes, except for my design change. After assembling the skirt, but before attaching the waistband, I tried it on. It did look like the technical drawing, but I was NOT happy with the odd way my tweedy fabric bubbled out. It just didn’t work in this fabric for me, so I removed the front panel and replaced it with one that has three diagonal tucks.

Second front panel

Were the instructions easy to follow?

Lekala instructions are just a brief list of assembly steps. They are accurate and in a sensible order

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?

I like that Lekala patterns are custom sized to your measurements. The skirt fits nicely. No dislikes with the pattern, but I wasn’t thrilled with the way my fabric behaved

Fabric Used:

Polyester black and white tweed boucle and twill-look polyester double knit

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:

I switched the asymmetrical ruching to three diagonal tucks. It’s sleeker, less bubbly and works better with my fabric,

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?

Yes, I would sew this again, maybe in a lighter fabric with a softer drape. Yes, I would recommend this pattern. I think even a beginner with a good sewing reference book could make this skirt.

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McCalls 7240 Knit Dress Test Run as a Top

Line Drawings and Fabric Tag

A recent McCalls release included several knit dress patterns that caught my eye. The little contrast yoke with asymmetrical neckline  is just the right touch this simple dress needs.

I need sweaters and tops more than I need dresses. I had a piece of grey and black animal print Hatchi sweater knit from Fabric Mart, and some leftover black stretch velvet in my stash. I decided to use these fabrics to make this pattern into a sweater top.

The line drawings show a wide neckline. I usually don’t care for wide necklines, but I decided to try it as drafted anyway.

Somehow I managed to cut the contrast yoke piece to sit on the RIGHT side of the top instead of the LEFT. Luckily, I also got the front bodice backwards, so my sweater has the contrast yoke on the right. I think this mistake is mine, not the patterns, because I tend to mix up right and left.

My Sweater Top Version

Other than the right-left glitch, the pattern went together quickly and easily. I used my Babylock Evolve to coverstitch the neck, sleeve hems, and hem. Usually I sew major seams with the machine, test the garment, then finish with the serger. This time I threw caution to the wind and serged the seams, which sped up the sewing process.

The neckline came out Wide. Very Wide. It’s elegant, it’s feminine. It’s chilly for a sweater. It exposes my bra strap and a scar. It’s just not right for me.

I used scraps of the animal print knit along with steel grey and solid black knit jerseys to make a swirl scarf. All three fabrics I used were close to 72 inches wide, so the scarf came out a little longer than expected, but looks nice looped twice, covers my neck, and keeps me warm,

I like the look of the asymmetrical neckline and contrast yoke, I’ll a little sad that the scarf partially hides these fun features. I think I will make this again as a dress, maybe in a floral print, but I will make the neck much less wide.

Pattern Description: Loose-fitting, pullover dresses (close-fitting through bust) have left front yoke and narrow hem. A: Short sleeves. B, C: Long sleeves. D: Three-quarter length sleeves and contrast yoke.

All views feature a wide neck, Views C & D have an asymmetrical neckline

With Matching Scarf

Pattern Sizing: Misses

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes, except I made mine top length instead of dress length. And, I mixed up my right and left, so the contrast yoke is on the right side instead of the left

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes, the instructions were clear and easy to follow

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I like the contrast yoke and asymmetrical neck line. I dislike the wide neck line, it’s too wide for me.

Fabric Used: Hatchi sweater knit and stretch velvet

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: I made the pattern top length, because I need tops more than I need dresses.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Yes and yes! I do want to make this in a dress version.

 

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McCalls 7262 Knit Wrap Coat

I loved the casual look of this waterfall lapel coat, both open showing the waterfall and closed, draping over the chest. It received favorable reviews, so I decided to try it.

I used a piece of alpaca wool for the body and deep brown wool boucle knit from Fabric Mart for the sleeves.

My coat is warm and cosy, and it feels like being wrapped up in a comfy, slightly itchy, blanket. I fixed the itchy at the back of my neck with a scrap of faux suede knit stitched to the inside of the collar. So I’m not sure why I’m not in love with it.

I think I might like this design better in a less bulky fabric. The alpaca is thick and soft, but perhaps a bit too thick to drape nicely. When it’s closed, it feels like an awful lot of fabric bunched up on my chest. Only one side of the coat fastens, the other side simply drapes down.

The pattern itself is simple and the instructions are clear.

This is an easy pattern for a unique, comfortable wrap with a touch of drama. A fabric with a soft, drapey hand is essential to this design. Also, the wrong side of the fabric shows, so the pattern need a fabric with a nice looking wrong side.

 

Front Closed

Pattern Description: 
Loose-fitting sweater coats and poncho have shaped hemline, wrong side shows and narrow hem. A: Layered sleeves. B: Stitched hem on sleeves. A, B: Draped cowl front extends into back collar, and front button band and conceal snap closing. C: Cut on crosswise grain, asymmetrical, mock-band and snap closing. I made View A.

Pattern Sizing:
Regular Misses.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
Yes it did, except my fabric is more bulky. Too bulky, I think

Were the instructions easy to follow?
Yes, the instructions were clear and easy to follow. This is an easy pattern

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
I was drawn to the slouchy, casual yet slightly dramatic look. The end result is warm and cozy. Only one side fastens when the coat is closed, not really a full blown dislike, but something I plan to add another button so both sides will button closed.

Front Open

Fabric Used:
Alpaca wool knit, wool boucle knit

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
None, but I plan to add a second fastener so both front pieces will fasten closed

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I might sew it again, IF I find the right fabric. I have a piece of wine wool double knit that might look nice made up in this pattern. I would recommend this pattern, just make sure your fabric is not too bulky, drapes nicely, and is not itchy.

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Classic Breton Tee Free Pattern

Brenton Top

 

Dropped shoulder

This fun shirt is a classic Breton Top.  The pattern features a simple, slightly scooped, sort of boaty neck and dropped shoulders. The pattern is free from Simply Sewing Magazine and I think it is from a Great British Sewing Bee. I downloaded it from http://www.simplysewingmag.com/downloads/simply-sewing-issue-17-templates/

I chose a gray and wine striped cotton knit from Fabric Mart. Because it’s 100% cotton I washed the fabric in hot water and dried it on hot in the dryer before cutting out. I plan to wash the finished Tee in cool water and dry it on low.

I made the largest size and it fits comfortably. I raised and rounded the neckline a bit. I don’t mind scooped necks, but I’m really not fond of boat necks, so my shirt has a jewel style neck.

I lengthened it to almost tunic length, and made the sleeves long. I didn’t use the front and back facing pieces, instead I used a narrow bias strip to finish the neckline. This method works much better for me on most light and medium knits than facings do.

The download came with several craft patterns, including a coastal doorstop, bunting and fish decorations, dog pincushion, girl’s sun dress and hat, denim crossbody bag, stitched flag, and whale toy. If you’re printing on your home printer, you may want to print only the pages with the Tee pattern. I had the whole file printed at Fed-Ex Kinkos, where I have my Lekala patterns printed, and so I printed everything.

The pattern includes a front, a back, a sleeve, a front facing and a back facing. Instructions are not included in the download, I don’t know if they are available anywhere on line. The Simply Sewing site says they are available in a printed issue of the magazine. I’ve never seen the instructions, so I can’t comment on them.

Here’s what I did 1. Sewed the shoulder seams. 2. Sewed the sleeves to the armhole. 3. Sewed the side/sleeve seams. 4. Stay stitched the neckline. 5. Sewed a narrow bias band to the neckline on the outside of the Tee. 6. Flipped the neckline to the inside and topstitched it in place using my coverstitch machine (a Babylock Evolve) 7. Sewed the hem and sleeve hems with my coverstitch machine 8. Trimmed away any excess on the inside of the hem, sleeve hems, and neckline, and any stray long threads

Pattern Description: The classic Breton Top featuring a slightly scooped, boat neck and dropped shoulders

Pattern Sizing: Regular Misses. I used the largest size

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Except for my changes, yes.

Were the instructions easy to follow? No instructions were provided on the pdf file. The website indicates they are available in a back issue of the magazine, so I never saw the instructions

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? It’s FREE! I like the dropped shoulder. I didn’t use the facings, instead, I used a narrow bias strip. I think bias strips or neckbands work much better than facings on light and medium weight knits.

Fabric Used: Cotton Jersey

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: I don’t care for boat-ey necklines, so my neckline is more jewel. I also lengthened the sleeves to the wrist and the bodice to almost tunic length

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I recommend this pattern to anyone who feels comfortable assembling a Tee without instructions. The dropped shoulder feature is fun. I do plan to sew this Tee again!

 

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My New Machine – 1895 Davis VF 2 Treadle Machine

I’ve always loved treadle machines. But, even a non-repairable machine with a cabinet in poor condition can go for $75 or more, because people often discard the unrepairable machines and use the treadle assembly as a table base.

A friend of mine was given a treadle machine, which she sold to me inexpensively. The belt was broken and there was no manual. The machine is plain, no fancy decals, and the cabinet is a simple style, in fairly good condition.

Please ignore the messy storage room! When I brought the machine home, I found the entire top drawer was full of buttons! I found the manufacturers name , Davis, and machine’s serial number on the metal guide plate.

Armed with this information, I searched the internet. Based on photos I was able to identify it as a model VF2, and based on published serial numbers and the model, it was most likely made about 1895 or 1896. The Davis company was located in Dayton, Ohio, so this machine did not travel far.

I found a .pdf manual online and had a copy printed at Kinkos/FedEx.  I also found a universal treadle belt. We’ll see how it works.

 

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McCalls 6612 – Cute, Quick & Easy Knit Dress

I was caught off guard on vacation this summer. I made and packed one casual, comfortable ITY knit dress. I knew I’d be wearing the dress more than once. But it never occurred to me that we might end up going out with the same people two nights in a row. But we did. And I wore the same dress two nights in a row, with the same friends!

So when I went to watch the Great American Eclipse. I wanted to bring at least TWO casual summer dresses. I picked a spandex kaleidoscope print from Ebay for my second dress.

I chose McCalls 6612 for the pattern. This is a  great basic dress, super simple and stylish. I made View B, it’s, just a front, a back, and a sleeve so it sewed up quickly. I finished the hem and sleeves with a three thread rolled hem. It’s easy to do on my Imagine serger and looked great on my other summer dress. When I tried the finished dress on, I realized that the kaleidoscope print was perhaps not the most flattering print for me.

I decided the dress needed a little bit of something, like a belt. I tried on a couple of narrow leather belts, in navy blue and muted green. I liked the visual from the narrow band of solid color, but the belts felt stiff and wrong against the soft knit. A quick dip into my scrap stash revealed a length of royal blue rayon. I cut a strip twice as wide as I wanted the finished belt to be, plus 1-1/2″ for the seam allowance. In other words (Width of Finished Belt x 2) + 1-1/2″.

The rayon by itself was too soft, so I interfaced the whole piece (except for seam allowances) with a medium weight fusible interfacing. Then, I folded it in half long-wise, and sewed from the center along the long side to one short end, turned the corner, and sewed the end. Then I did the same thing on the other side, ,leaving a 3″ open gap in the seam along the long side at the center. Finally, I turned the whole thing right side out, sewed the gap closed, and pressed the belt.

I cheated on the belt loops, and simply used a safety pin on one side to hold the belt in place.

After a few weeks, the rolled hems began to curl upwards. I’m not sure I like this. I have scraps, so if I decide to fix it, I can make facings for the hem and sleeves

The curling hem

Pattern Description: Misses pullover dress with sleeve, neck and length variations and a ruching option. Dress can have long, medium, short or no sleeves. Neckline can be smooth, slightly cowl, or with a deep cowl collar. Ruching on the sides seams of View A make it the shortest version. View D is full length.

Pattern Sizing: Misses

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

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes, the instructions were clear. The pattern is simple with few pieces.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I like the options! This is a great basic T-type dress pattern.

Fabric Used: Spandex knit

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: I used a three thread rolled hem on the sleeves and hem. I’m not sure this was the best choice for my fabric, because, after several weeks, the fabric is starting to curl up a bit. Not sure I like this! But, that is my mistake using that particular finish with this particular fabric.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Yes and Yes.

 

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Boucle and Denim Jacket

After making a double breasted coat dress, and covering boots to match, I still had a little bit of this wonderful green and black boucle left. I decided to use it in a jacket mixed with some black denim.

Denim is sturdy, but the boucle is soft, so I realized I’d probably be reinforcing the boucle in some way, with interfacing or lining. I decided on a jeans jacket sort of style, using the boucle for the front and back yoke and sleeves. I chose Butterick 5616 for the longer, hip length version. I wanted cuffed sleeves, so I lengthen them a bit and drafted my own cuff pattern.

I thought long and hard about pockets, but, eventually I decided to omit the pockets for a cleaner look. I added a decorative cap on the sleeves, and used bright sliver, textured buttons.

I did the topstiching according to the pattern, but the black thread disappeared against the black denim, but it still helped the jacket get crisp clean lines.

The pattern doesn’t call for lining, but that’s how I decided to handle the boucle. I used plain black poylester.

This jacket took a lot of time to make. Topstitching is always time consuming, and there’s quite a bit on this jacket. Drafting the cuff pattern, creating the little lap in the sleeve (so I can open the cuff), and adding the lining all took extra time. I planed to have the jacket ready for spring, but it wasn’t finished until recently.

Pattern Description: Unlined jackets with top stitching and pockets. Three quarter sleeves or sleeveless. Waist or hip length

Pattern Sizing: Misses

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Except for my design changes, yes. I used boucle for the front and back yokes and sleeves.

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes, the instructions were accurate and easy to understand. All the notches lined up, etc.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I like the longer length without the band at the bottom. I didn’t like the sleeves, but fixed that by adding my own cuffs.

Fabric Used: Black denim and a wonderful green boucle

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: Lengthened the sleeve a bit and added cuffs. Added little denim sleeve caps to separate the boucle sleeves from the boucle yokes

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Would I sew it again? Maybe. If I wanted another jeans jacket -like jacket. Right now, though, it’s not on my “Must Make Another Right Away” list. Would I recommend it to others? Yes

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McCalls 7538 Knit Bandage Dress

This is a flattering, easy to make and comfortable to wear dress. With careful color choices, the bandage wrap style can make the waist look slimmer, creating an hourglass shape.

My inspiration for this dress were these two designs by Proenza Schouler. These Proenza dresses have a dramatic one bare shoulder look that I could not pull off. I knew mine would have both shoulders covered and two longish sleeves. The Proenza dresses have a peek-a-boo effect built into the wraps, my dress will provide full coverage. McCalls 7538 matched the wrap portion closely. When comparing my finished dress to the inspirational images, it looks like the wraps on the Proenza dresses are more vertical, and the ones in this pattern are a little more horizontal, but it’s not a barely noticeable difference. I copied the Proenza lettuce finish on the hem and sleeves. I think the Proenza dresses are made from a softer, less firm knit.

I chose an easy to sew rayon ponte in a middle blue. I wanted the bandages to be darker, so my waist would (in theory) look a little thinner. And I wanted an extra accent stripe. Once I settled on the middle blue and a dark blue, choosing the final strip was a lot harder. I planned to layer the thinner strips over the wide base bandage stripe, so the more layers, the thicker the bandage. Two layers of ponte, middle blue and dark blue, was already thick. Another ponte would have been too thick, so I started picking in my scraps and leftovers. I found two potential options, and settled on the striped ity knit.

This is an easy to make dress that went together quickly without fuss. But, the skirt was SHORT!! Usually I find myself cutting off inches at the hem before hemming. This time the skirt was cut just long enough, turning up anything more than an inch or so for hem would be too short. So, I borrowed from the inspiration design and used a lettuce finish on the hem and sleeves. I’ve never tried this kind of finish on a fabric as thick and firm as the ponte, but it worked.

The end result is a comfortable, flattering easy to wear dress. The rayon ponte is comfortable and wrinkle resistant, so it’s a good garment for traveling.

It’s also something that could be worn to the office under a jacket or cardigan. Take off the cardigan, and you’re ready to go out for dinner and drinks, or to the theater.

Pattern Description: Knit dress with Bandage Wrap design

Pattern Sizing: Misses

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

Were the instructions easy to follow?
Yes, they were clear, notches matched up, etc

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
I like the wrap section at the middle. I did not like the length, this skirt is SHORT. I was a little surprised at just how short it was. I like my skirts to reach the knee at least, even with a lettuce hem that takes up no extra length the skirt is barely long enough. I’m also not thrilled with the way the shoulders/sleeves fit. The only reason I can move my arms is because the fabric stretches!!! When I first tried this dress on I was afraid that would be a big problem. I wore the dress anyway. It bothered me for a minute or two, by the time the evening was over I had forgotten it was a problem.

Fabric Used: Rayon/Lycra ponte knit, with contrast polyester ponte knit and a little bit of poly ity from my scrap bin

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: I used a different color blocking design and added extra strips on the “bandages”

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Yes and yes. With careful color choices, this is a slimming style that’s comfortable to wear.

Inspiration dress one

inspiration dress two

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Simplicity 1694 – Number 3

I  like Simplicity 1694. The soft A-line is soft and airy, and helps this shirt stay cool and comfortable.

This is my latest make of this pattern. It’s a mystery print from the stash that’s been hanging around for a while. I’ve picked it up several times, but there wasn’t enough for the projects I had in mind. Then, on a whim, I tried this fabric with Simplicity 1694 and plain black rayon for contrasting pieces like the collar, the tabs and the facings.

It almost worked. Almost! In desperation, I turned the pattern pieces onto the cross grain. It worked! And, it didn’t look bad, either!

I was still short just a teeny, tiny bit, so I decided to use plain black rayon shirting as an accent and to give me just enough fabric to squeeze out this shirt.

I’ve made this pattern several times already, so this shirt went together quickly and easily. I used shiny, black, faceted buttons from my button stash.

Pattern Sizing:
Misses

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, but I’ve made this shirt a couple of times already, so this time I didn’t pay much attention to them.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
I like the loose, comfortable fit. It’s perfect for hot, humid weather.

Fabric Used:
A woven fabric in a floral print. I don’t remember when or where I got it. The burn test indicates that it’s a poly blend, I assume with cotton (or maybe rayon) because it’s still cool and comfortable, as well as fairly wrinkle resistant.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
Used black rayon challis for contrasting collar and cuffs

 

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Hot Patterns HP1170 Blouse Back Tee, Fast & Fabulous

I love stripes, I love florals, I love mixing them in this easy, casual tee. I borrowed the idea of a contrasting front yoke from a RTW tee.

I wanted a Spring/Fall shirt, so I made the sleeves long-ish. I didn’t really measure the length because I wasn’t picky about the exact length. Anything from below the elbow to the wrist would work. Which is sort of ironic, because Hot Patterns includes an amazingly complete chart of finished garment dimensions for just about any measurement you can think of! I LOVE this feature about Hot Patterns, because the chart makes alterations super easy.

I also raise the neck in both front and back. I always raise the back neck line, I like mine higher than most RTW and sewing patterns. I raised the front neck line, because I’ve made this tee before, and I knew I wanted something a little higher for the transitional seasons.

This is a nice design, easy to wear in spring, summer or fall. I think my next version might use lace or sheer fabric as the contrast.

<b>Pattern Description: </b>
Semi-fitted, pull-on T-shirt with a relaxed silhouette featuring a contrast back, back yoke, “U” neckline and sleeves finished with self or contrast trim

<b>Pattern Sizing:</b>
Sizes 6 – 26 in one envelope

<b>Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?</b>
Yes, except for my design changes

<b>Were the instructions easy to follow?</b>
Yes. Hot Patterns instructions are always clear and their garments are easy to sew

<b>What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?</b>
The full gathered back and the WONDERFUL complete list of finished measurements

<b>Fabric Used:</b>
Polyester blend kints. The stripe is a poly/cotton ity blend from Fabric Mart. The floral is poly/spandex digital print from Ebay. Both were already in my stash when I chose them for this top.

<b>Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:</b>
I added a contrasting front yoke, made long-ish sleeves with a narrow hem, and raised the neckline. I like having a higher back neck than most RTW and patterns provide, and I wanted a less deep front neck

<b>Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?</b>
Yes and Yes! Hot Patterns are GREAT!

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