Tag Archives: sewing knits

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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Simplicity 1716 Again – Light Summer Dress

I really like this pattern, this is my fourth make for view  A/B/C. I have a short sleeved tunic length in pink floral, a long sleeved tunic length version in purple floral, a 3/4 sleeve long T/short tunic length in bold stripes. This time, I made a knee length dress in soft, tropical print ITY knit.

I needed a dress that would be cool and comfortable to wear outdoors on warm summer nights. I wanted a full style that did NOT cling to the body, so I picked this top/dress pattern, and made it knee length.

To keep it light and airy, I used a three thread rolled hem on the sleeves and hem. I knew from previous makes that the two side bust panels fit better when the end is extended a couple of inches. Basically, those couple of inches function as the FBA on this shirt.

The first time I made this pattern I found the collar section a little confusing, but after making several versions of this top I know how it works and it went together quickly. I cut and assembled the dress in one afternoon, except for the rolled hems.

I really love this dress. The ITY knit doesn’t wrinkle, making it a great dress to pack for traveling

Pattern Description: Misses top or short dress

Three thread rolled hem keeps it light and airy

Pattern Sizing: Regular misses

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

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes, the instructions are clear and all the notches line up

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I like the gathered feature at the bust, and the collar

Fabric Used: ITY knit

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: Lengthened the dress to knee length

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? This is my fourth time making this pattern, so I’m not sure I’ll make it again. But I do recommend it!

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June 29, 2017 · 3:38 pm

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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Lekala Tunic Dress 2 Ways

When I saw Lekala 4590 I promptly fell in love! Lekala calls it a dress, I wear mine as tunics. Butterick has a similar pattern that I have not tried. I don’t know which one was issued first, but I saw Lekala first.

Material for Take One

My first take on this pattern was intended for the Activewear contest on Pattern Review. I barely finished it in time, but didn’t get a chance to get photos. My second take was also intended for a Pattern Review contest, the Serger contest. Because I was using scraps and leftovers, I ran into complications and didn’t finish it in time at all.

I used a sweatshirt knit for Take One, grey for the body and navy blue for the contrasting collar, sleeve and triangular insets.  I plan to wear it for hiking in cool weather, so I extended the sleeves to cover my hands, and added a thumbhole. Take two is made from a polyester sweater knit and black velvet.

Take One went together smoothly. Nothing major went wrong (I’m always ripping out a seam or two) but I had little time to work on it so progress was slow. I used a heavier fabric for the pockets, in case I want to carry anything heavy or sharp. One pocket zips shut, the other has a plastic ring sewn in, where I can clip anything like keys, etc. I used blue thread and a big, bold zig-zag stitch for the decorative top stitching.

Take Two started off problematic. I used the sweater knit fabric leftover from McCalls   Hacked Again for the body, and black velvet for the sleeves, collar, and contrasting triangle panels. I had two fairly big pieces, I knew the back could fit on one. And it did. The other piece was shorter – and there is where I made my first mistake.

Pocket ring to clip things to

Zipper pocket

I knew the front piece would be shorter than the back, but I thought the hi-low hemline thing would work, so I made the top with a shorter front (including the triangles) It looked weird, the proportions were all wrong. Frustrated, I pushed it to one side and ignored it for awhile.

A couple of weeks later I found another piece of the sweater knit as I was sorting scraps. It looked like it just might be barely big enough to extend the front. I hoped the seam would not be obvious in the knit, but knew any seam in the velvet would be inescapable. They had to be replaced.

Alas, they were sewn with a serger. In frustration I simply cut away the whole seam allowance, when I cut the panels out, knowing the sides would never fall as smoothly again.

I matched the fill in piece on the front as carefully as I could, but the seam was still pretty visible. Again, I tossed it to the side in frustration.

Finished Hiking sweatshirt

Take two,

Then I stumbled across a piece of laced velvet trim. Just barely enough to put across the front over the seam, and across the back at the same height. I pinned it in place, but didn’t like it. So on a whim, I moved the trim down close to the hem, leaving the patch seam uncovered. I thought – and still think – the black trim at the bottom distracted the eye from the seam, and looked better than it did higher up over the seam. I pinned it in place, cut it, and laid the second piece along the back. I had exactly enough. I mean exactly. Less than 1 inch of scrap trim!

Starting at the center of the top and working toward the sides, I stitched the top of the ribbon to the top on the front and back. Then, I sewed the new black velvet triangles in place, catching the raw edges of the trim. Finally, I turned the hem up and stitched the bottom of the ribbon trim, catching the raw edge of the hem as I sewed.

Take Two, Complete at Last

Finally, the only step left was hemming the sleeves. Ironically, my new-to-me serger/coverstitch machine had just arrived. On one hand I was anxious to bust it out and play! On the other, I just wanted these sleeves done as quickly and painlessly as possible, because the whole thing had already sucked up so much time and energy! So, I used an ordinary narrow zig zag stitch hem on the sleeves.

So Take One is great! Take Two is not a wadder, but it’s not my best work, either.

Pattern Description: Tunic/mini dress with darts, triangle insets in front, dropped shoulders, long sleeves, shaped neck band

Pattern Sizing: To your measurements

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

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes, they were more detailed than usual for Lekala.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? The insets, the dropped shoulder & contrasting sleeve, the length, the pockets, the neckband. Ok, I just like this pattern!

Fabric Used: Sweatshirt knit, sweater knit, stretch velvet

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: On Take One, I added a zipper to one pocket and a plastic ring to the other. I extended the sleeves so they cover my palms and added a thumbhole. On Take Two, I added black trim near the hem

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

 

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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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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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