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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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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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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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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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Simplicity 1694 – A casual rayon shirt

I like this button front shirt. The A-line shape is comfortable, easy to wear, and somewhat flattering on my figure.

We planned a vacation in Washington DC in June, when the weather is hot and sticky. I needed some tops and shirts that looked nice and would be comfortable both indoors in air conditioning and outdoors in the summer sun. I chose rayon challis in a soft army green shade.

I’ve made this shirt before, and it went together easily. Until I reached the buttonhole step. I was confused, and made the buttonholes down the front horizontal instead of vertical. I used buttons from my stash, and they’re a bit larger than the pattern suggests, so it’s probably for the best that I made the buttonholes horizontal. If I had put them vertically, they might have looked a little too crowded.

Pattern Description: Button front A-line shirt with collar stand, collar, jii-low hem and sleeve tabs

Pattern Sizing: Misses

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

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes the instructions were clear, but the notches on the collar didn’t quite line up right for me.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I like the A-line shape and hi-low hem

Fabric Used: Rayon challis in soft army green

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: Omitted the pockets, and tipped the buttonholes sideways

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Yes, I think I’ll sew this one again. And yes, I recommend it. It isn’t too hard, even a beginner could manage it.

Horizontal Button Holes

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Butterick 5030 Wrap Dress

I don’t remember when or where I got this blue/grey hydrangea print in stretch cotton, but when I rediscovered it in my stash I just had to make something with it. I decided on a summer wrap dress.

Wrap dresses can be tricky. The front often gapes, even when the bust fits nicely, and the front opening can be quite low. I usually have to do FBAs. But oddly, the FBA on this dress gave me almost too much room in front. Another issue is that wrap dresses tend to fit figures with a narrow waist much better than figures like mine, with a straighter line, but that isn’t a problem with this dress.

The pattern was not hard to assemble. I extended the band from the bodice down through the skirt.

Pattern Description: Wrap dress

Pattern Sizing: 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 were clear. Notches lined up and pieces fit together

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?

Fabric Used:  Stretch cotton in a wonderful blue floral print

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:  I finished the skirt panels with a band like the neck and bodice

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?Yes, I recommend this dress, it’s an ideal basic wrap dress pattern.

 

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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

New Look 6472 Puffy Boho Blouse

Fluffy Peasant Blouse

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

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

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

Reapplying the front facing

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

Gathering with dental floss

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

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

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

All the pieces, pattern, lace and fabric

Pattern Sizing: Misses

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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Comfy Knit Dress Lekala 4386

Me at the Theater

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

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

On Dolly the Dummy

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

Laying out the pattern

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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