I had a lot of fun last week putting together some cute lightweight tee shirts. Vogue V8792 has been on my to-sew list for a while. I initially chose it because I liked the interesting way the stripes were positioned on the top in the cover photo. Did I mention I love stripes? But when I started looking at the details, I was really intrigued by the short sleeve views (A, B, C). The long and the short sleeve shirts are completely different, not just the same shirt with options. The long sleeve versions are fitted and have set-in sleeves. The short sleeve ones are loose fitting and made from only 3 pieces: front, back and neckband. The front and back are cut on the bias and attach together like a puzzle. That sounded like a lot more fun!
My first version used a lightweight gray rib knit with a subtle heathered stripe. I thought the stripe would create an interesting effect where the two bias pieces met. It went together quickly on the serger – cutting it out took about the same amount of time as sewing. I was surprised that I didn’t see the effect I was expecting though. It turns out that I somehow ignored the layout directions and cut the front and back pieces on grain instead of on bias. Oops. The shirt is still nice, still wearable, but a little disappointing.
Since it was so easy to make, I thought I would give it another try and see if I would like it better if I followed the instructions! I made two more, both using a mix of different colors.
The second tee used up a pretty mottled green remnant that was about 1/4 yard long and full width. I paired it with a sheer cream color knit that was a little too transparent to use on the front. I made the neckband a little wider than the pattern called for, but otherwise this one followed the pattern instructions. The difference is subtle when there is no obvious stripe, but I think the shirt may drape a little better than the gray one.
The third tee gave me an opportunity to try a color combination I love: sky blue and white. There isn’t a lot to add about this one, but isn’t it cute?
Fortunately, I already had a plan in place, so I hit the ground running when I finally started.
The black stretch fabric I used for the main color was challenging to cut. To get the best result, I used my sharpest scissors and put a fresh blade in my rotary cutter. When cutting stretch fabrics with a rotary, it is especially important to apply pressure from directly above where you want to cut. If you apply pressure at an angle, the fabric will stretch away from you as you cut. The greater the angle, the greater the distortion.
Main fabric: stretch poly twill
Lace: Cotton embroidered on nylon mesh
To make sure that the lace pieces would come together in a pleasing way, I first laid the lace over the pattern piece. Then I identified where the “X” stitching lines would fall. I shifted the piece until I was happy, then marked the placement with a couple of pins. I put the pattern piece on top, then cut it out. I used this process for all four lace sections. After all that, cutting the gray background fabric was a breeze!
Before getting to the directions in the pattern envelope, I basted the lace and lining pieces to each other. Because my serger was ready to go, I used an overlock stitch (with the knife up) to put them together.
The next part was assembling the four pieces making up the front into a single piece. I have never done any quilting, but I imagine that the process is very similar. First, I sewed the top section to the right side triangle. Then I sewed the bottom section to the left side triangle. I pressed the seams open. Then I carefully pinned the two pieces so the “X” met exactly in the center. I measured twice. Then I stitched the third and final seam, pausing a few times to check and re-check my alignment. Success!
The only problem was the fabric itself. I once again needed to help the machine along by adding strips of wash-away stabilizer.
The back was made of two pieces, joined by a 22 inch zipper. So assembling the back did not require matching an “X.” Sewing those pieces was much less nerve wracking.
From this point, putting the dress together goes the same as any other back zip dress. I changed the neckline from using a facing to using bias tape, but everything else was the same as the pattern.
I put it on ready to be amazed at its awesomeness. After all, it looked great on the hanger. Alas, the fit was far from amazing. Although the fitted part of the dress (bustline and up) looked good, the loose fitting lower half was boxy and unflattering. It did not have the gentle waist curve and drape I expected from looking at the pattern illustration. Part of that was because the heavy black stretch fabric did not drape well. But I felt that the dress would be more flattering if I took in the sides a bit below the bust.
New size seam to go where pins are placed.
New seam-line marked with white pencil.
Fabric needs to be reduced between the pins.
New back darts marked with white pencil
So, it was back to the sewing machine, the seam ripper and the iron. Still not happy, I added a few small darts in the back, between the waist and hip. A little while later, I had my modified style.
I trimmed the seam allowances, it hung a lot better…. but….
I still had more fitting to do. I took the sides in some more and took the darts out. Finally, it looked like I had imagined.
A quick hemming session, a final press and it was done!
I think if I make this pattern again, I might try doing it in a mid to heavy weight knit omitting the zipper. It would be really flattering in complementary colors with topstitching. Maybe in a long sleeve version? It would also be nice in a lighter weight woven in the sleeveless view for spring and summer.
Hey – why don’t you vote for me? The voting period is from the 17th to the 22nd.
Even if you don’t vote, it’s worth taking a look at the other contest entries on patternreview.com. I’m really impressed and also have serious shoe envy.
One of the resources everyone who sews should check out is patternreview.com. There you will find a huge database of user-submitted reviews for just about every pattern out there. It’s a great place to check out what others think of a pattern before you shop – or when you get stuck.
Pattern Review runs a bunch of contests and challenges over the course of the year. I’ve never done one before, but 2018’s first challenge sparked my imagination. EntitledThe 2018 Match Your Shoes Contest, the idea is that entrants use a pair of shoes as inspiration for building an entire outfit. Everything except foundations and accessories has to be sewn by the entrant (although not necessarily for themself).
Oh boy! Who among us doesn’t have a pair of shoes they couldn’t resist, but then never wears?
Last year I bought these calf-height boots so that I could be stylish in the cold weather. That has happened exactly once. I still love the boots, but I just don’t know what to wear with them. So they became my inspiration piece.
Now I have until February 15 to pull together my shoe-inspired outfit.
The boots have an interesting combination of simple black leather topped with a black snakeskin-textured band. They have an easy sensibility. These are walking-around shoes – not night at the opera shoes. So my ideal outfit would be a little special, but easy to wear strolling around town. I would also like it to reflect the boots’ interesting monochrome textural differences.
I have an easy one for today. I was in the mood to make casual tops, so I pulled out a pattern I have been wanting to try for a while: McCall’s M7247. I bought the pattern because I really liked the views with overlapped curved edges. It seemed like it would have interesting possibilities for color blocking.
I also had some very nice knits in my collection that I purchased with the hopes of using them together. Fabric 1 was a rayon/spandex blend in black. Fabric 2 was a horizontal black and white stripe. I had bought both fabrics from Fabric Mart Fabrics online thinking that they were the same material in different colors. They weren’t. That’s one of the pitfalls of shopping for fabric online. Don’t make assumptions. If you have doubts, ask!
The stripe is lightweight enough that dark colors show through. The black is tightly woven and has good stretch and recovery. Looking at the pattern, it seemed like it would still be fine to combine them, as long as the black was always on top of the white, not vice versa.
I took the pieces for View C and made my own variation. My top has long sleeves and uses only two colors.
Construction was really easy. Ironing the curved hem was the only part that I wished would end before it was over. But it’s a wide curve and really not difficult.
I considered a few different embellishments. I decided against a little pocket because I couldn’t find a shape that really worked with the big sweeping curves. Instead I made a cover button with the stripe fabric. Putting the button on the shoulder of the top flap just seemed to fit. Also, it gave me a way to see the stripes on top of solid black without the black showing through.
Overall, I really like how it turned out. The one issue is that the bottom flap can easily show bare skin depending on how high the waistband is on what you are wearing underneath. My plan is to wear this with yoga pants in the winter and a high-waisted long knit skirt in the summer. The jeans I am wearing in the pictures looked fine for a while, but as the waist loosened up, my skin started to pop out. Some people have lengthened the top to combat this. I suspect that this issue is the reason that I have only seen this type of style in stores with the opening in the back.
The pattern is staying in the keep pile nonetheless. I think it would be really cute sleeveless or short-sleeved for warm weather. I might try eliminating the hemmed edge and do a bias facing instead.
Better view of the overlay.
Coming soon: more sweater knits and Marfy blouse toile.
Rashguards used to be just for surfers, but they have earned a place as a required item in anyone’s complete activewear wardrobe. They are especially popular as children’s wear. Any parent can tell you that they protect delicate skin from the sun way better than sunscreen, which wears off before you know it. It’s easier to pull on a rashguard than to put on sunscreen and they are sporty and fun for men, women and kids.
Like everything else, fit matters! Personally, I usually end up buying oversized, sloppy rashguards because the ones that are in standard sizes are both too tight and too loose at the same time. Sound familiar? Spandex stretches, so even if it doesn’t fit, you can usually pull one on anyway. But the results and comfort leave a lot to be desired.
The solution? Sew your own, of course!
I had enough fabric left from my maillot to make front and back pieces for a color-blocked rashguard. So not only could I make a rashguard that fits, I could coordinate it with my swimsuit. Fancy! I got a yard of solid plum lycra for the contrast. I chose a pattern from McCall’s with a raglan sleeve and sleeve length and overall length variations. If you want to make Mommy and me looks, there is also a matching kids’ pattern available.
Of course, you don’t have to do things exactly the way the pattern tells you to. I cut the pieces for the long length, long-sleeve version. Instead of doing the blocking the pattern suggested, I made it solid plum overall with only a floral front and back panel.
The top went together quickly. In some ways, sewing the stretchy spandex was simpler than doing the same type of shirt in jersey. I’m not sure why, but it seemed to feed more evenly than cotton jersey and attaching the the neck band was more forgiving as well. I continued to use a stretch needle and the walking foot for all regular machine work. But, most of the sewing was done on the serger set up for a 3-thread super-stretch overlock. I threaded the lower looper with wooly nylon and the needles with regular polyester thread. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I only needed to loosen the tension a little bit on the lower looper to make a nice even edge finish. I love the softness of the wooly nylon against the skin. I have read that wooly polyester is a better choice, because it stands up to machine mashing better. I plan on getting some and seeing for myself, but for now, nylon it is!
This was a great opportunity to finally use my new serger’s coverstitch function. I only had one spool of plum-colored thread, so to make two lines of matching topstitching, I threaded one needle with the spool and the other one with the bobbin thread. I kept going with the purple wooly nylon on the inside. I think it looks pretty nice, although I wish I had found a closer match for the wooly nylon. I used the coverstitch for all of the hems and for a nice neckband finish. (Okay, they are a little wobbly, but it’s fine for a first effort).
I really like it. Now that I know how easy it is, I am going to make matching rashguards for all of my future swimwear.
Coming soon – working with plaids and a return to wovens.