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

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:

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

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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Sew Retro: A Stylish History of the Sewing Revolution Book Review

Grab a cup of coffee, or tea, or cocoa. It’s time for another book review

Sew Retro – A Stylish History of the Sewing Revolution by Judi Ketteler

Sew Retro is a combination history and how-to book. Patterns for the projects are included.

DISCLAIMER: I have not actually made any of the projects using the provided pattern pieces or instructions. My pattern pieces are still sealed in the envelope bound into the rear of this hardback, spiral bound book.

The book covers roughly 150 years of history, from the 18000s to the 1980s. I guess anything newer than that is too new to be retro!

A fun timeline marches across the bottom of the pages through all the chapters, noting important sewing related events.

Each chapter begins by talking about the changing role of women, major events and circumstances that affect the United States and their impact on the home sewing industry. Biographies of key women in fashion history and interviews with contemporary women in the industry pepper this section, and advertisements from the era provide rich, intriguing illustrations. The history portion is followed by several projects that (are supposed to) reflect that time period.

Chapter One – 1800s – Victorian Pin Cushion, Elegant Shawl, Sweet Sewing Basket, Charming Needlecase

Chapter Two – 1910s; 1920s – Opera Bag, Flapper Apron, Smart Felt Hat

Chapter Three – 1930s; 1940s – Patchwork Potholders, Pinch a Penny Change Purse, Cafe Curtains, Tea Party Tablecloth, Ribbon Embellished Napkins

Chapter Four – 1950s -Hostess Apron, Mod Gathered Pillow, Pretty Little Purse, Birds of a Feather Table Runner, Handkerchief Bag

Chapter Five – 1960s; 1970s – Not So Mini Mini Skirt, Cool Coasters, Easy Elastic Headband, Groovy Patchwork Throw

Chapter Six – 1980s – Saturday Afternoon Skirt, Farmer’s Market Bag, Catch-All Caddy, Almost Effortless Scarf

Every project includes a photo of the completed item. Many of these projects are (or could be) quite useful items, for example, the Thrifty Thirties Patchwork Potholders, or the Victorian Sweet Sewing Basket. Others, like the Mid Century Modern Birds of a Feather Table Runner and Almost Effortless Scarf, are just not my taste at all. And some, like the Mid Century Modern Pretty Little Purse, are actually quite cute, but not in the fabrics and colors chosen for the examples.

All the projects are Easy or Very Easy. A few, like the Easy Elastic Headband, a fabric tube with an elastic insert, are easy enough for children. The Patchwork Potholders would be a good project to introduce kids to quilting, and the Groovy Patchwork Throw could make an easy project for a beginning quilter. Some projects, like the Cafe Curtains or the Elegant Shawl, are simple projects that an intermediate sewist could probably create on their own without the book (I know I’ve been making simple curtains like for over 30 years, often out of sheets).

Each project includes a list of needed supplies, the pattern pieces used (if any), a list of what fabric pieces to cut, and assembly steps accompanied by illustrations with a hand-drawn quality.

Will you like this book?

If you are looking for a how-to-sew book, this probably isn’t for you. It does include some sewing information, and a couple of projects could be good introductions to quilling, but the how-to information is largely limited to how-to do each project, not sewing in general.

If you are looking to recreate authentic items from a specific era of history, this book is not for you. The projects are all modern interpretations inspired by the mood and feeling of a specific era.

If you are looking for Easy or Very Easy sewing projects (including some that can be done by hand, or by children, or by hand by children) you might like this book. If you dislike the way an item looks in the project photo, do not be put off. These items can be made in different colors (or in prints or solids) and different fabric, producing different results.

If you enjoy vintage advertising, sewing history, interviews and biographies of fashion industry figures, you might like this book.


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McCalls 6927 Woven T

I knew it was going to be hot in Washington DC in June, and I knew I needed cool, comfortable clothing. and I wanted something dressier than the average t-shirt.Fabric Mart had some beautiful silk/cotton voiles on sale, and I already made up one piece into a peasant style top with lace accents. I used the second piece to make this woven T-shirt.

I made mine with a longer, flounced sleeve. The fabric is very light and airy, so it doesn’t get clammy, and the longer sleeve protects from the sun. Between the longer tunic length, the type of fabric, the print, and the long sleeves the end result looks more like a tunic than a t-shirt, but that’s Ok.

The pattern is easy, a front, a back, a sleeve, a neckband. I borrowed the semi circular sleeve flounce from a different pattern. It was easy to cut out and assemble, I used my serger. I finished the hem and sleeve flounce with a three thread rolled hem.

I also used a three thread rolled hem to attach the sleeve flounce to the sleeve and the neckband to the neck opening, so that the hem sits on the outside of the garment and resembles thin, thread-like seam piping.

Pattern Description: 
Simple darted woven T (or shell), in two lengths,

Three Thread Rolled Hem used as a seam

sleeveless or with long or short sleeves

Pattern Sizing:
I use RR (womens size).

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
Yes except for the sleeve flounce I added

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

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
I liked that it is a simple pattern that I can tweak to my taste and then use as a base for other designs, or surface designs (like dye, paint or embroidery).

Fabric Used:
Silk/Cotton Voile from Fabric Mart

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
I added semi circular flounces to the sleeves. I used a three thread rolled hem to finish the hem and sleeve flounces, and to attach the sleeve flounces to the sleeves and the neckband to the neck

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




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