Vogue 8581 Knit Blouse

View C Art from Vogue 8581

What is better than a loose, gathered tunic top when you want to look put together, but feel like you are wearing your jammies? This pattern is now out of print, but I think that it is a classic casual style. As a Very Easy Vogue pattern, I approached it as an intermediate level of difficulty.  Like most Vogue patterns, the instructions are written assuming a certain level of experience.

You can always modernize a look by using on-trend prints, such as this white on black elephant print I picked up from purpleseamstress fabric a few months ago.  The pattern specifies only lycra blends, and I wasn’t sure that my double-brushed poly-spandex fit the bill.  I had to go to the internet to verify that indeed it does.  Apparently Lycra is the duPont brand name for spandex (and spandex is elastane outside the US).

It’s a medium weight, which will be great for fall, winter, and early spring.  I would not go any heavier than medium weight if doing the long sleeve version, otherwise there will be too much bulk to do the gathered cuffs and neckband.

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Those are some beautiful seams!

Seams and particularly seam finishes on knits are a great fit for a serger, if you have one. My serger, a 20 year old Simplicity Easy Lock with differential feed is just about as basic as they come. But while today’s sergers are more user friendly, the actual mechanics are the same. Before starting my project, I changed my needles to brand-new ball-points.  As with all projects, I did some test sewing to make sure my settings were correct.  Since this fabric was so stretchy, I set the differential to maximum stretch.  I threaded the machine with four threads so it would cut and sew an overlock seam with safety stitch.  Testing revealed a problem – the machine consistently pushed the first bit of stitched material down into the throat plate.  Not pretty!  After a little experimentation, I found that putting a “bunny” under the back of the presser foot stopped the destruction. (bunny = sacrificial bit of cloth used to start tricky seams).

Double brushed poly spandex – midweight & very easy care

I usually do some pattern alterations, but this design is so forgiving that I really didn’t need to.  I followed the instructions, but I would change a few things next time.  I would sew the cuffs onto the sleeves before closing the sleeve seams.  Trying to sew the small diameter cuff was pretty tricky.  It just barely fit over the sewing machine’s free arm.  I might even make the cuff about an inch deeper, just to give some wiggle room for fitting.  The instructions don’t say anything about clipping the excess from sewn gathers, but if you skip that unwritten step, it would not work at all.  I think with a lighter fabric, just doing an elasticized cuff would look really nice.  It could be done with or without a casing.

The neck opening is quite large, just as shown on the illustration.  To make the top a little more user-friendly, I have added carriers for my bra straps.  In addition to keeping my straps from showing, carriers keep the neck from slipping toward one shoulder or the other.

Probably the most important thing I would do differently would be to make a left and a right sleeve, instead of two righties.  It happens to everyone…

In the end, I have a new wardrobe staple.  It is wash and wear, wrinkle resistant, and goes with just about everything.  This one stays in the keeper pile.

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Back View: Before adding carriers, the neck shifted around a lot. (Shown before inserting elastic in bottom)
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Finished front view: Just like the illustration!
Useful Thing

Coupon Wallet with Owls

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Pattern has 8 dividers arranged accordion-style for expansion

Here’s a cute quilted coupon organizer with divided sections and a magnetic snap closure.  This pattern is a great choice for playing with color.  You can vary colors on the bias tape, sections, sides, lining and cover.  It’s also a good choice for using up small pieces of pretty fabric that aren’t quite large enough for a major project.

The pattern I used is the Coupon Organizer from  If you love it, but don’t want to make your own, you can buy finished ones on the iSew etsy page.

The pattern comes as a pdf file which you print yourself.  Instructions are detailed and come with lots of pictures.

Cutting is super simple.  Compared to clothing and home dec, it’s a treat to cut all of your pieces on a small surface!  The other side of the coin is that small pieces make assembly a little fiddly.  If you take your time, you shouldn’t have any problems though.

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Interfaced divider pieces and vinyl labels in “curlers”

I opted to hand-write my labels, but there are excellent instructions for making printed versions if you prefer.  You can choose from fabric labels, vinyl tabs with paper, or whatever works for you.  I chose vinyl.  Although I read the clear instructions, somehow I still managed to sew all of my labels on upside down.  Fortunately, I only had to rip out 8 2-inch seams to get back on track! (Yes, I didn’t notice until I finished all of them).

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I can’t believe I sewed all 8 labels on backwards!!!

TIP: In order to get a sharp folded edge on the vinyl labels, I pinched the vinyl closed with wonder clips over small pieces of fabric.  Without the fabric to protect it, the vinyl would get imprinted with little divots from the inside of the clips.  I only had to leave them on for a few minutes to get the nice crease I wanted.

If I were to do this again, I would interface the divider pieces before cutting.  That is, just fuse a large rectangle, then cut all of the small rectangles from that.  That would cut the amount of effort for the divider cutting almost in half.  I used Pellon SF101, but I think any midweight interfacing would work.

I would also consider using a spray adhesive to keep the layers of the cover together while quilting.  Even using a walking foot, mine shift a little.

TIP:  Consider using a different color in your bobbin if you are quilting very different top and bottom fabric colors in your quilt sandwich.  I chose pale pink on top and black in the bobbin.

For years I have been toting around my coupons in paper envelopes.  This organizer is a huge improvement.  I already have my coupons in it.  Maybe matching grocery bags next?  Hmmm…..


It happens to everyone…

I made a mistake.  I admit it.  I was trucking along with my project.  Everything was going great. I even remembered to take pictures for the blog along the way and then…

<<Cue the needle slipping off the record sound effect>>

I went to pin on the second sleeve and my marks wouldn’t line up.  That can’t be right.  Yes, it was.  Two right sleeves and no left one.  What’s worse, I didn’t have enough scrap to cut another!

I truly admire people who can calmly put aside their aggravation and move on to something else.  You rock, patient people!  (Of course, they probably wouldn’t have messed up the sleeve in the first place).  As for me, I told myself it would be funny in the morning and went to bed.

Next morning, still not funny!  But at least I could cheerfully apply myself to finding a solution.  I looked at what if I just sewed it on anyway (no, bad, don’t)?  What if I pieced a sleeve from scraps (ugh, definitely not)?  What if I shortened both sleeves (that would work, but I would never wear it)?  I knew that the fabric was sold out, so I couldn’t get more.  Or could I?

Yes, I could!  It was restocked!  How had I missed that?

I know not all sewing adventures have such happy endings.  We are not little clothing factories. For the most part, most of us are making something we have never made before. It takes a leap of faith to try creative efforts and a lot of people aren’t that brave.  So, here’s to the mistake makers who try!

But it’s still not funny.

I’m going to look exactly like her when I’m done!
Travel · Useful Thing

Travel Trays

I love this idea!  I think I first saw this on pinterest and have been looking forward to making a few ever since.

All you need is enough fabric to make two small rectangles, a matching piece of batting, and either snaps or velcro to secure the corners you pinch together.

It’s clever, quick and a fun way to use up scraps or play with embroidery.

You can get instructions as a free download from Craftsy here.  Credit for the pattern goes to Angela Padilla.

Three rectangles
Cut rectangles ready to sew.
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Finished travel trays

I chose to use hook and loop tape for closures, but snaps would work equally well.  I also found that the tray looks neater if you press a crease into the corners and along the bottom edges of the assembled tray.

I also omitted the optional bottom quilting, but I would put it in if it did not disrupt the pattern of the patterned fabric.

Some ideas for future versions might include trimmings on the edges or ribbon around the bottom side.  An embroidered monogram or monochromatic design would work well centered on either side.  This could be a fun part of a set of travel organizers.




McCall’s 6328 – Shorts

There are 6 views in this pattern envelope. The first 4 are variations of a flared leg, back zip short. The E and F views are a more traditional front zip pleated trouser style short.

Line Drawings for A-F Shorts Views

I made view C, the flared leg option with decorative front tie.

For those of you who prefer low rise bottoms, these are not the shorts for you. The waistband sits at the natural waist. Also, the length is very short. If you do not wish your upper thighs to be visible, you should pass this one by. That said, they are fun, flattering, and surprisingly comfortable, due to the looseness of the flared leg.This is a typical multi-size pattern. You can get 4-12 or 12-18 in one envelope.

My version had puckers where the contrast color hip sections meet the waistband (see likes/dislikes). Otherwise, it looks and fits as I expected.

I liked the flared leg style, which is friendly to a variety of hip measurements. Just pick your waist size for this pattern (A-D views) and you are good to go.

I had problems with the contrast fabric puckering where it joined the waistband. The instructions said to ease the waistband (main color) as it was attached to the shorts. I could not see how this was possible, since the waistband was interfaced and non-stretchy. There wasn’t anything about ease stitching that I could find either.

I used two lightweight cotton blends from my scrap pile to test the pattern. The next time I will select something more opaque.

I would sew this again, now that I am aware of the issues. I would enjoy having a pair of the same view C shorts in a single fabric (i.e. merging the contrast pieces and the shorts pieces before cutting the fabric). I think the style is really cute and they are fast and easy to make.

A good but not great pattern. Better for people who are comfortable re-interpreting pattern instructions to suit their own needs.