Remember when camisoles with built-in shelf bras were popular? It was a great idea, but rarely worked well. The problem was that the bra was usually just an extra layer of stretch jersey with an elastic band around the ribcage. It didn’t provide much support or coverage.
Since I learned how to make supportive linings for athletic wear, I vowed never to make an unlined camisole again. Since the bra does not show, there is no need for fancy embellishments or time consuming finishing techniques. I didn’t time myself, but I think it only added about an extra hour to the project.
I had a piece of stretch velvet ready to go, having already used it in my recent princess seam top. Since it is a metallic, it goes with just about any color. But it looks especially good with the pinstripe I used in the wrap skirt that is also part of my fall mini-wardrobe. I think it increases the dressiness of the outfit while also being very comfortable.
I really liked the V-Neck shape of my inspiration piece from Rebecca Taylor. I didn’t have any patterns that would work, but I did have a favorite camisole of my own with the same V-Neck profile. So I took a chance and used it as a template for my new top.
Here’s my process:
Lay out velvet in a single layer, smooth side up.
Carefully lay camisole on top.
Using 5/8″ ruler and a disappearing marker, mark a cutting line one seam allowance width away from the camisole directly on the velvet.
Cut on cutting lines – this is the front piece.
Use the front piece as a pattern for the back, changing the upper edge using the camisole as a guide.
Cut back piece.
Use the velvet pieces as pattern for power mesh front and back, making power mesh pieces bra length.
Another somewhat unusual feature is the contrasting straps. I got the idea from Vogue 1591, which uses grosgrain ribbon for shoulder straps. I thought that stretchy straps would be more in keeping with a stretchy top, so I was really happy to find foldover elastic in a grosgrain texture. I like a wider strap, so I left it unfolded.
I had fun positioning the straps into a V in the back. With a built-in bra, the straps can go anywhere. There are no worries about having to cover up the straps from the bra you wear underneath.
And that’s it!
The gold camisole is the final garment in my Fall 2018 Mini-Wardrobe. Voting at patternreview.com is open until October 10. If you like what you see, I would love it if you would give me your vote.
As I was planning my Fall wardrobe, my Oct./Nov. 2018 issue of Threads Magazine arrived.
I soaked up Becky Fulgoni’s article “Single Layer and Reversible.” There were so many great ideas for making garments from double-faced fabrics (or just fabrics with an equally interesting wrong side). I already knew I had the perfect fabric to make the loose casual jacket in Vogue Patterns’ V9275. The jacket (View A) is intended to be lined, but I thought a reversible version would be even better.
The fabric is a sweater knit with a squishy olive green boucle on the right side. I think the wrong side is just as interesting: a smooth black with olive flecks. It’s lighter than it looks, so it would be for outside on crisp days or wearing indoors.
I did several tests before I started. I needed to find seam, hem and closure treatments that would work with my sweater knit and also look good from both sides. Once I figured out which worked best, I started planning in earnest.
Above: I tested binding and seam techniques using swatches like this.
I have found that sketching projects helps me plan. When I work through details on paper, I find I almost always need to make changes. This time, I had to do double the sketches, because I needed to visualize how it would look from either side. Sure enough, I realized that I had to account for the knit collar and cuffs in my plan.
Above: Puzzling it out
I used most of the pattern pieces for the jacket. But to make it reversible, I omitted the side seam pockets and back shoulder darts.
Editing for Reversibility
My version differs from the original in many ways:
Two sided pocket: patch pocket on green side; slot pocket on black side (details below)
Instead of hemming, bind the lower edge
Use a reversible separating zipper for the opening
Trim and bind front opening before zipper application
Zipper tape exposed on black side; hidden on green side (see below)
Slip-stitch cuffs and collar on black side to give them a finished look
Decorative, error-hiding buttons
The Threads article described a technique for making a pocket accessible from either side. From one side, it is a patch pocket. From the other, it is a slot seam pocket. I love this idea! Here is my slightly different method:
Make the slot seam. I was using bound raw edges as a design element throughout the garment, so it made sense to use them for the pocket slot as well.
Cut the front pieces along what will be the new seam line. Because I was binding the edges, I did not need to add seam allowances.
Apply binding to slot seam raw edges. To keep the seam from stretching, I set my machine to use the longest straight stitch. I didn’t use a stretch stitch because I wanted the slot seam to be stable. Some machines have an option to reduce presser foot pressure. If you have it, this is why. It really helps with lofty stretch fabrics.
Join the top and bottom of each front piece. I chose to apply strips of grosgrain ribbon to the green side. They will not show, since the slot is only visible from the black side.
Draft a patch pocket piece to have an ample side opening, making sure it is placed where your hands go. Mine covers the entire width of the jacket, ending at the same place as the jacket bottom. Ensure that the pockets completely cover the slot opening.
Cut two patch pockets and two lining pieces. I made my lining from the same quilting cotton I used for my princess seamed top.
Sew the right side of the lining to the green side of the pocket piece for each side. Only the upper edge and pocket opening need to be sewn. Trim, turn, press.
Topstitch pockets to front pieces. Again, only the upper edge and pocket opening need to be sewn.
Two Sided Zipper
This is my first separating zipper, exposed zipper application, and reversible zipper. I think it’s the first time I have tried putting one in a sweater knit. So I am going to forgive myself for putting it in a little too low. I think it looks nice from the green side, where the zipper tape is hidden. The exposed tape on the black side looks… just ok. I would like to find a nice trim to cover it with, but I don’t have anything on hand right now. The main problem is that by putting it in too low, there is a janky looking gap between where the tape ends and the collar.
The only thing I could think of was to sew buttons at the neckline to hide the tape end. I didn’t have anything that I liked, so I made a couple of cover buttons. I think it looks pretty good.
Above: The exposed zipper tape didn’t line up the first time. Then it didn’t quite reach the top of the jacket. I made a couple of cover buttons to conceal the ends.
Making the large amount of binding was really simple. Since the material was already stretchy and shapable, there was no need to cut bias strips. All I had to do was cut parallel strips across the grain.
Stability without interfacing
Stability was an unexpected factor in planning for reversibility. The sweater knit was fairly loose and floppy, so it had to have something otherwise I’m sure it would begin to grow with use. Interfacing was out, of course. The seams, pockets, and zippers serve that function.
I was pleased that even though there was some loft to the knit, it could be compressed enough to make flat felled seams. The traditional method results in two parallel lines of straight stitches. I did it that way for the shoulder seams, and quickly realized that keeping the green fluff from escaping the seam was going to be a problem. So I used a zigzag stitch for the final step instead of a straight stitch for the remaining seams. The zigzag pinned everything down, kept it controlled, and was much easier to sew.
Above: Some of the jacket’s design features
2 yards x 60 in Boucle sweater knit (can’t remember the source)
1 yd x 60 Stretchy jersey for binding, cuffs and collar (bargain table find)
I bought five yards of it a few years ago from FabricMartFabrics.com and even after this skirt, I still have more than a yard. I don’t think you have seen the last of it yet!
This skirt is one of McCall’s 2018 early fall patterns, M7813. The pattern includes options for different hem profiles, but they all share the same basic design. I was drawn to view D, which has two curved front pieces that come together in a neat jagged line. It’s a very simple pattern. The only closure is a single snap. There are no pockets, lining, or anything tricky. It may not be obvious on first glance, but all views cinch at the natural waist, continuing anther 5 inches or so upward. The part above the waist can be turned down, sort of like a shirt collar.
I like that this skirt can work with or without tights as a transitional piece. I just wore it for the first time and loved the way it looked in the mirror. But…. if you plan on wearing it on a windy day, definitely consider putting in some extra closures. While having your skirt fly up worked for Marilyn Monroe, it’s not really what I’m going for. I’m still deciding how I want to handle mine.
I did another contrast facing with the skirt. This time I chose a scrap of flannel stripe that I salvaged from a jacket that was on its way to jacket heaven. The pattern matched almost too perfectly. It might add a little more bulk than desirable, but it’s really soft and comfortable.
I don’t have too much to say about construction or techniques this time. It was so darned easy! Instead, I’ll just post the supply list and some pretty pictures.
I’m getting started on my Fall wardrobe with a pair of olive green sailor-style wide leg pants. These are View E of the Butterick wardrobe pattern B5859. Essentially, they are high waisted pants with a back zip. If they look a little familiar, it’s because I have made them before. Why re-invent the wheel?
After I finished cutting out the pants, I cut the selvedges off the remaining fabric and set them aside. Pre-washing the fabric had brought out their texture as well as a short fluffy fringe. After recently buying some trim by the yard, saving this “trim” seemed like a good way to economize.
Meanwhile, I went through my scrap pile and picked out a piece of pretty floral lawn that coordinated with the green. I think that one of the delights of sewing for yourself is using surprising fabrics for pocket linings, facings, and bindings that only you can see. The floral became the waistband facing fabric.
Serendipitously, I had piled the twill strips piled on top of the facing pieces. They looked so good together that I used the strips to make a sharp binding for the facing’s bottom edge. Here’s a little slideshow of the facing going together.
Basting with Double Eye Needle
Do any of you read your sewing machine manuals just for fun? It sounds dull, but if you haven’t cracked yours since your machine was new, it’s worth going back and taking a second look. When my machine was new, I was only interested in learning the basics: threading, straight stitch, zigzag, etc. Now that those skills are second nature, the rest of the manual is much more approachable. All of this is by way of introducing the double eye needle.
My manual has a page devoted to using a double eye needle (not to be confused with a double needle) to make long basting stitches. I don’t know if this trick works universally, or only with some machines, but it is pretty slick. Here’s what you do:
Thread machine normally, threading the needle through the upper of the two eyes.
Set stitch to blind hem stitch
Set stitch width to widest setting
Set stitch length as desired
These settings will result in a long straight stitch slightly to the left of center (test the needle position before sewing to learn how this works). Since the blind hem makes its stitches in a 3 to 1 pattern (RIGHT RIGHT RIGHT LEFT), you will get a stitch that is 4 times as long as the selected stitch length.
Once you are done, you can continue to sew normally by just switching to the bottom eye.
Double eye needles are a little tricky to find. I have never seen them in shops and they are even hard to find online. I located a package of 5 size 80 universal double eye needles in just 3 places:
If anyone else has other or better sources, please post a comment!
I really like the look of vintage sailor-style button front pants. I can’t imagine how annoying they must be to actually open and close when you need to (ahem). For my pants, I just copied the look without copying the design. Besides, I was already going off on my own with the green color. The buttons are just sewn on – there are no actual buttonholes. I sewed the buttons on top of the seams created by the front darts.
I wound up using an invisible zipper, just because that is what I had on hand. I don’t think it makes a big difference in this case, but I think a plain zipper would go better with the casual style.
Here’s what I used:
1 1/2 yards 60 inch green twill from Mood Fabrics 5% spandex, 95% cotton
Hello readers! It’s been a while, but I haven’t been completely idle. I took a short break from sewing clothes to work on a few craft projects. It was refreshing to work on something different for a while (square corners! simple shapes! colors I would never wear!). It cleared my mind and enabled me to take a new approach to seasonal sewing: a plan. There will be many garments made from scratch, but there will also be upcycling and wardrobe edits.
Here’s a little teaser for upcoming clothing sewing:
I’ve also started to use Pinterest boards to collect ideas for upcoming seasons. Check it out here: See Cindy Sew Pins.
If you are new here and want to dig in to what I’ve been making, you can now browse through projects in my new gallery. You can always get back to it by clicking on the Gallery link under the masthead. Cell phone users will find it under the Menu button.
If you are shopping online for your Fall projects, please consider shopping through my links. I have had nothing but good experiences from these vendors.
As I get in gear for the next round of sewing, I’ll be sharing short posts on my recent craft items. There might be a few last minute sundresses in there too. It’s still Summer for another week, after all!
So until next time, happy sewing!
Please share your thoughts and ideas about anything in this post or whatever is on your mind. I would love to hear from you!
My fear of buttonholes has been holding me back, but I finally worked through it and finished! I don’t suffer from Koumpounophobia, but I was perversely amused to learn that fear of buttons is a thing. Apparently, Steve Jobs had it. My reluctance had more to do with a long history of messing up sewing projects on the very last step.
I chose simple dark brown buttons and brown all-purpose thread. Before starting, I needed to do a little trial and error. I haven’t used my machine to sew buttonholes in years, and I never did it often enough for it to become automatic. Rather than ruin my work, I set up a trial swatch to match the fabric and interfacing in the garment. Boy, was I glad I did!
My “Easy to Sew” pattern gave these instructions:
Transfer buttonhole markings to garment.
Make buttonholes at markings.
So…. that helped a lot.
Next step – read my sewing machine‘s manual. The machine’s instructions were also basic, but at least gave me enough to start experimenting.
I made a swatch with the same interfacing, lining and pinstripe fabric that I would be sewing.
After much experimentation, I was finally able to consistently stitch the buttonhole I wanted. I actually had to make a second test swatch because I ran out of room on the first one.
Here’s a full list of adjustments and additions I used.
Set the stitch width to the maximum (in my case, 5mm).
Run the bobbin thread through the eye of the bobbin case’s hook. This increases the tension on the bobbin thread.
Increase the stitch density by adjusting the machine’s balance.
Increase the presser foot pressure.
Mark the vertical boundary of the buttonholes with two strips of blue tape.
Insert a strip of wash-away stabilizer between the lines of tape. Use wash-away marker on the stabilizer to mark the buttonhole placement. Bonus – the lines are highly visible against the bright white wash-away.
I still had problems with the long side of the buttonhole rectangle staying straight. Solution: set up the seam guide and use more blue tape to give it a “track” to follow.
Make several buttonholes on the test swatch. I did not work with the actual vest until I could get three in a row exactly right.
Open the holes in the test swatch sample and make sure the button fits. I used a very sharp seam ripper to cut the slots.
Before cutting the holes open, remove the stabilizer and place pins just inside the holes’ bartacks. The pins prevent over-cutting.
I checked and double checked my markings. Yes, I psyched myself out a little. One more triple check and I was ready to go.
Overkill? Maybe. You could make a case. But it worked!
I decided to hand-sew the buttons rather than machine-sew. The reason is that I wanted to make sure they were not attached too tightly. A too-tight button can pull through the fabric or distort the nice flat plane of the button placket.
I can’t believe it, but it’s really done!
I am so pleased with the finished outfit.
Do you have any tips for making buttonholes? Write a comment below – I would love to hear them.
In case you missed it, here is the rest of the series.
I haven’t actually owned a vest since the 1980’s. Looking back, that vest probably was not the best in the world. But I loved it. It was a thin, shiny black brocade with pearl buttons, no lining, and made me feel stylish and cool.
I don’t think I’m trying to relive my youth, but if I could restore some of that good feeling by making a new contemporary version, why not?
Maybe I had that in mind when I bought Simplicity 4079. It seems to have been printed in 2006 and is now out of print. However, vests are a classic wardrobe builder, so there is always something similar on the market.
Vests are also a staple in the steampunk and Victorian costume worlds, so that could be another source. Look for “waistcoats” as well as vests in your search.
All of the versions in my pattern are variations on the same lined, princess-seamed bodice. I went with the most classic. View A has four buttons, a V-neckline and comes to points in front.
The instructions were clearly written, which really helped me get through the relatively complex construction. But why is this pattern labelled “Easy-To-Sew?” I think anything with buttonholes and lining should really go into a different category. If I was a beginner and picked this up, I think I might have given up in frustration!
It would be easy enough to eliminate the false front pockets, but I think they really give the vest the menswear vibe I was going for.
Here’s a little slideshow of the pocket flaps coming together:
The pattern instructions did not specify whether the outside back and ties should be cut from the main fabric or the lining. I went with my gut and did the back with lining fabric and the ties in the brown stripe. As I noted before, the poly satin lining was tricky to press and really wanted to fray. I took my time with it, used a walking foot for traction and tried to handle it as little as possible. I used a press cloth and lots of steam when pressing was needed. It worked out fine and in the end, I am happy I chose the lining I did. Once enclosed in the garment, fraying is no longer an issue. I made extra sure by trimming off the excess with pinking shears. The heavier weight should pay dividends in extra durability (and of course, appearance). I went with a gold color buckle to secure the ties. The Dritz vest buckle comes in either a silver or gold tone. It’s fine, but I wish there were more options on the market. So far, the Dritz is the only one I could find.
There is surprisingly little interfacing in the vest. It only calls for one small piece under each placket. I guess the seams provide enough shaping on their own, because it seems to stay sharp even after a lot of handling. I used a fusible lightweight non-woven.
Is it just me, or is the process of turning the lining kind of like magic? The garment goes from a project to a real article of clothing in the blink of an eye. The vest was particularly satisfying in this regard, since the inside looks so different from the outside. I’m pretty sure turning linings is the closest I will ever get to making origami.
Putting it together:
I wanted to wrap up this post with a finished vest, but unfortunately, I forgot to buy buttons. So, I’m hitting pause while I get the last bits together. I’ll wrap up soon with Pinstripe Pantsuit Part 3: Button Up!.
Last month, I made these awesome high-waist pants. In the process, I made a good copy of the pattern including all of my personal alterations. I have been looking forward to using it again ever since.
With that in mind, I took a look through my fabric stash and drew out this pretty pinstripe polyester. The plain chocolate brown is brightened up by alternating pinstripes of gold and bronze. It seems to have a little spandex as well. I had always intended this fabric to be used for pants, and with fall finally beginning, the timing seemed right.
I’m not sure where the fabric came from. It was probably a remnant or some kind of irresistible bargain. That would certainly explain why, after pre-washing, I found dozens of flaws. I had five yards to work with (also a good sign it was an irresistible bargain), so there was still plenty even when I avoided the snags and pulls.
Before jumping in, I thought through some style possibilities. While I love the high-waist look, I know that there are some situations where the style would make me feel out of place. Because they fit so well (that is, comfy!), I can see using them as the base for casual looks with fitted pullover tops. But what really appealed to me was the idea of wearing it with a matching vest. Something about a feminine version of menswear basics always seems to look so chic. Making a vest is something I have never done, so it would also be an interesting challenge.
But first the pants. I am once again making view E from Butterick 5859. Because I took the extra time with the first pair, these went together quickly. That’s not to say that I didn’t manage to sew not just one, but two seams on the wrong side. That happened. But the seam ripper and a good night’s sleep took care of the problem.
I have to say, it felt really great to put on my new pants and have them fit on the very first try!
In the meantime, I also cut out the pieces for the vest (Out of Print Simplicity 4079 View A). I found that I had a lot of lining left over when I was done, so I decided to make it into bias tape. I thought it would be nice to bind the waistband facing with it. The lining fabric from Mood is a polyester satin, which is heavy enough for a jacket or coat lining. I really love the way the bound facing turned out, but I am not sure if I would try to make bias tape with the same kind of fabric again. The material did not want to take a crease, so it was really slow going. Still, I have at least 2 1/2 yards left, so I don’t think I’ll need to make any more.
And here are the finished pants:
Brown Pinstripe Pants
Next in this series, follow along as I tackle my first vest!
For my vintage style pants, I chose a medium weight twill in a poly blend that drapes easily. I wanted something that had a little bit of movement and fluidity this time. I think in the warmer seasons it would also look great in a crisp cotton or linen.
After cutting the fabric, the first step is to stabilize the facing pieces. Sometimes it is tricky to know what to use. You don’t want the waist to have too much stiffness. It would be well supported, but it would not be comfortable to wear. You also don’t want too little. That would run the risk of having pants fabric bunch up at the waist when you sit. I chose a medium weight fusible tricot interfacing. It has flexibility vertically, but is stable horizontally. Placed so the stable horizontal axis goes across the waist, this option supports the waistband shape without stiffness.
Since I was planning to use this pattern more than once (stay tuned!), I went through the extra step of making pattern pieces for the interfacing. Typically, pattern instructions have you cut interfacing with the same pieces you use for facings. There is nothing wrong with doing it this way, but it can be improved on. I trace the facing pieces onto extra pattern paper, then draw a new line where the seam line would be (in this case, 5/8 inch from the edges). Using these smaller interfacing pattern pieces, you will waste less interfacing material and you will not add unwanted bulk to your seams.
I assembled the pants mostly on the serger using a 3 thread overlock. The fabric I was using had a tendency to fray, so I made sure all of the raw edges were enclosed in some way.
I spent a little extra time on the facing, binding the lower edge. I’ve seen this done in better ready-to-wear and just liked the look.
I did the hem with my regular machine using the blind hem function.
The versatile black pants look great dressed up or down.
Something about this outfit makes me want to learn to tap dance. I think that’s a good thing.
This year, I’m facing the change of seasons head-on. While we are still able to dip our toes in the ocean, I’m pulling together plans for fall looks. First up will be a vintage inspired high-waisted trouser.
I am making view E from Butterick 5859 – one of their Lifestyle Wardrobe patterns. The high waist is right on trend. This year, wide legs are coming back as well. Finally, trends are starting to converge with my taste!
Although the pants are described as semi-fitted, they still warrant editing to follow the wearer’s curves. The pattern has front, back, and side seams as well as darts in the front and rear; so there are 8 places to make alterations. Knowing that I would probably need to make some changes, I decided to make a quick muslin first.
One of the nice things about making a muslin is that you only have to work with the essential parts of the pattern. There is no need to bother with facings or interfacings, pockets, zippers, etc. So, I only needed to cut the front and back pattern pieces.
Last month, Craftsy.com had an all-you-can-watch for free day. I took advantage of it and watched all of the lessons in Linda Lee’s Serger & Coverstitch: Fashion Details class. My favorite take-away: use your machine’s chain stitch for temporary seams. When you are ready to take the seam out, you don’t need a seam ripper. You just start pulling one end! I tried this with my muslin and it worked like a charm. It’s way easier than using a seam ripper and leaves no little thread “crumbs.”
I’ve actually picked up a lot of tips from Craftsy classes. Sandra Betzina’s Pant Fitting Techniques class got me in the habit of cutting side seams with a 1 inch seam allowance (at least the first time you are trying a pattern). That way, you have lots of room to make changes, if necessary.
I chose a pattern size based on my largest measurement (hip). I marked the new 1-inch side seams on the onion skin, then cut out my muslin pieces. Then, I chain-stitched my pants together and checked the fit.
Fitting Round One: Torso Too Loose
I put the pants on inside-out to make pinning simple. Being careful to do both sides evenly, I pinched and pinned slight changes in the side seams of the waist and above-waist area. There was still a little gap in the small of the back, so I pinned that as well. After taking the pants off, I used the pins to draw new seam lines for the sides and center back. Just to make it more visible, I changed the color of the chainstitch thread. Then I stitched the new seam lines.
Fitting Round Two: Torso Good, Crotch too Low
Using a ruler, a mirror, and a little bit of guesswork, I saw that I needed to raise the crotch curve by about an inch. I started with the upper “shorten or lengthen here” line on the paper pattern pieces. I found the corresponding points on my muslin, then used them to draw a horizontal line (perpendicular to the grainline). I made two more lines, 1/2 inch above and 1/2 inch below. I pinned the top and bottom lines together to make a 1 inch reduction. I was thrilled that they looked perfect when I put them back on. Just to make sure I didn’t over-fit, I twisted, sat down, and walked around. Still good… I was done after only two rounds – that’s a record for me!
Transferring the modifications to the paper pattern was pretty easy. While I was working on it, I also removed the extra seam allowance from the sides. The last change was to modify the pattern pieces for the facings to match the new waistline.