Contest · Fashion

Fall Wardrobe: Floral Princess Seam Top

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Mine is View A

Fall wardrobe item number three is hot off the ironing board! For those who are new, I have been making a five piece coordinating mini-wardrobe to enter in patternreview.com‘s 2018 mini wardrobe contest.

My new top is a take off on McCall’s M7356 pattern. View A has short sleeves, no sash, no godets and no hi-low hem. I do like the frillier versions, I just wanted something a little more serious for Fall.

Since I hadn’t made anything with princess seams in a while, I started by making a muslin. I lengthened the waist as usual before cutting anything, but otherwise made no changes. Even though the thin white cotton woven was only for practice, it frayed so easily that I went ahead and overcast all of the edges. Then I basted the whole thing together using my new favorite trick, the double-eye machine needle (if you missed it, I talk about it in my last post here).

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My muslin (View D with sleeve)

I was delighted to find that the only change I needed was to raise the shoulders by 3/8 inch. It’s a good thing I remembered that that also meant changing the sleeves and facings before I cut into the good fabric!

I thought it would be neat to change the center panel to a contrasting pattern. I selected gold stretch velvet, because it coordinated with the floral pattern and I also planned on using it in another wardrobe item. The gold by itself looked terrible. It had way too much shine to go with the flat cotton. I found some black crochet lace in my stash and tested a layered look. Bingo!

I again prepared the panels, facings and sleeves by overcasting the edges. For the layered panel, I pinned the top and bottom together carefully then headed to the serger. Both of the layers stretched like crazy, and not in the same way, either! It was ok, but far from perfect. After some consideration, I forged ahead anyway.

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Layered center panel, piping and main fabric

I had recently purchased a cording foot and used that to insert the black piping. What a difference! The neat piping also stabilized and straightened the center panel quite a bit.

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I again used the cording foot to insert a invisible zipper in the center back. It’s definitely better than using a plain zipper foot, but I suspect a purpose made invisible zipper foot would be even better.

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Velvet and lace before sewing

The only other construction detail that gave me pause was sewing the v-shaped neckline facing. I’m not a big fan of facings. Even when I catch-stitch them perfectly, they have a tendency to flip to the outside. I followed the instructions, but also understitched the whole neckline. I think it will be fine when I am wearing it, but because the front panel is so bulky, the centermost part does not want to lie flat. We’ll just keep that between us, right?

Scroll down to see the finished top. It looks a little more medieval princess costume than I intended, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I will add more pictures of me wearing it once it stops raining long enough to take them.

Supplies:

Cording feet are available in various styles. Mine is similar to this one. You can see that one side is higher than the other to allow the foot to contact both the cord and the fabric at the same time. If you are shopping, make sure the foot you purchase is compatible with your machine.

The last two projects for the contest are nearing completion, so I’ll be back soon.

Until then, happy sewing!

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I reviewed this pattern on patternreview.com here.

Fashion · Fitting

McCall’s M6886: Knit Dress Fitting and Tips

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McCall’s pattern M6886 has a strong following. A recent search on patternreview.com found 203 reviews, with an average rating of 4.9/5 stars! It certainly warranted a closer look. It’s a pattern for a simple shaped knit dress with optional set-in sleeves, 2 length and 3 neckline options.

When my Mom recently came for a visit, we thought it would be a great choice for making her a fun new dress. I’ve never sewn garments for another person, so I was especially interested to see how well the fitting skills I developed for myself would translate.

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Lots of color and texture

The first part is always fun: a trip to the fabric store! We considered lots of options and finally landed on a vibrant textured nylon/lycra knit. It fit the bill as a medium weight moderate stretch knit. As a bonus, it is impossible to wrinkle, making it a great fabric for traveling. Because the print was so prominent, we chose the plainest neckline and the shorter knee-length.

Before cutting into the good fabric, I tissue-fit the pattern. I started with a pattern size based on Mom’s chest (not bust) measurement. This way, the neck and shoulders already fit the way they were supposed to. With a good fit above the bust, figuring out the rest was straightforward. With the tissue pinned to my model down the center line, I taped additional pattern paper around the sides to make the front and back meet. I could see right away that I would need to make darts to fit the bust. I folded the pattern paper to make the dart and taped that in place as well. I marked her actual bust apex, waist, and hip heights. With my model standing still and straight, I drew a line perpendicular to the floor from the underarm to the knee.

momdress_6With the pattern unpinned, I set about creating new front and back pattern pieces. The perpendicular line became the new side seam. I added 5/8 inch seam allowance outside the seam line to make a new cutting line. I made the dart using a cut-and-slide technique, angling the dart to the actual bust point. I then checked to make sure the side seams matched by measuring inside the seam allowance on both sides. Whew! Finally time to cut into the fabric!

I basted the front and back pieces and checked the fit again. The fit was ok, but not great. The bust darts needed to be moved, but the back just looked loose and shapeless. We decided to add some shape with back darts. When I was happy with the new changes, I sewed them in place then transferred them to the pattern pieces.

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Tape-marked dart
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Sew close, but not into the tape

By pure luck, I didn’t need to make any changes to the sleeves. The only departure from the pattern was to add 1 1/2 inches to the short sleeve length.

Once all of the fitting was done, sewing the dress was fairly simple. The only difficulty I had was figuring out how to mark the darts. I tried chalk, transfer paper and marking pens in various colors, but nothing showed up. I didn’t want to do tailor’s tacks mostly because I don’t like doing them, but also because they might create snags. So once again it was blue tape to the rescue!

I carefully positioned blue painter’s tape just outside the darts’ seam lines. I pinned the fabric as I would normally for darts. I then stitched the darts, keeping the needle just “kissing” the tape edge. Bonus: the tape stabilized the fabric while I sewed, so there was no risk of stretching the darts out of shape.

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Machine threaded with textured nylon in the bobbin

This project also marks the first time I have tried sewing with textured nylon thread. Instead of using all-purpose thread in my regular (not serger) machine, I used Maxi-Lock Stretch thread in the bobbin only. It really worked well. I thought the machine might have some difficultly with it, but I had no problems at all. The results were fantastic. All of the seams have nice stretchiness and recovery. I have no worries about any stitches breaking under a little pressure. I’m thinking about getting more in some neutral colors so I can use it in all of my knit sewing.

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Narrow hem on neckline

The edges are all finished with a truly invisible invisible hem (I hope I never have to pick it out!). The neckline is just a 1/4 inch narrow hem.

I managed to make this simple pattern much more complicated, but it fits Mom well (if I do say so myself!). Now I have a go-to pattern for her that can be used for dresses or even tee-shirts.

Happy late Mother’s Day, Mom! You look beautiful!

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Fashion

Vogue V8792 Bias Tee Shirt 3 Ways

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I made Views A and B (Short Length)

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?

Summer, here I come!

Happy sewing!

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Fashion

Marfy Blouse 3 – Final Version and Thoughts

MarfyMake1-7Summer sewing begins!

Last week, I finally made the Marfy blouse in the “good” fabric (a cotton lawn I have been hoarding). I took a little more time on the finishing with this one, and I am glad I did. I’m sure I will wear it so much that it will have to hold up to many washings.

Pattern Modifications

In addition to the changes I worked out while making the toile, I also added to the front and back pieces to raise the level of the underarm. If anyone out there is considering this pattern, I would recommend leaving extra fabric in this area and then figuring out if you want to make the change. Once you cut that armhole, you can’t get the fabric back!

Button, button, who’s got the button?

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Is this the world’s most perfect button?

One of the reasons it took so long to put this together is that I obsessed over getting the right buttons. I really wanted a button to match the darker color in the fabric pattern. It was so much harder than I thought it would be.

Issue 1: What color is it anyway? If you can’t name the color, you can’t really search for it. I can say with certainty that it is not purple, plum, violet, burgundy, or red-violet.

Issue 2: Online vendors that sell buttons have many different ways of listing sizes, colors, and shapes. Some buttons are sized by diameter in inches or millimeters, others use Ligne numbers. Here is a great explainer from Mood fabrics: How to Measure Buttons.

It’s a jungle out there in the button world. If you have access to a store with a good collection, count yourself lucky. The best and easiest way to find exactly what you want is to look at actual samples against your actual material.

I finally found what I was looking for on Etsy from a vendor in Germany.  I did mention I looked everywhere, didn’t I?

Pockets

I didn’t make the pattern’s patch pockets for the toile, but I wanted to add them on the final version. Of course, Marfy assumes that given the general shape, you can figure out how to assemble them on your own. By mistake, I attached the pocket flap to outside if the pocket. But after some mild cursing, I decided to keep it that way. I realized that in practice, I would be more likely to use the pocket if I didn’t have to lift a flap to get to it. So this way, I can have the cute round flap detail, but keep the opening the way I like.

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Wrap the seam allowance around the form.
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Cover holds the fabric against the curve
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Perfect curve after ironing

Since the last time I made patch pockets, I have acquired a template which is used to make consistent curved pocket corners. It was great! Ironing tiny pocket curves is a fiddly task that can be so frustrating. The pocket template helps by holding the seam allowance in place while you iron. It is even designed so that you don’t have to have your fingers close to your work.

After all of that, I pinned the pockets in place, stood back and… hated it. That’s okay. I’ll use them for something else later.

Buttonholes

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Looking for a close-up of the buttonholes? Maybe next time.

After struggling to make machine-made buttonholes on the toile, I spent some time thinking about the best way to do these. My original thought was to make then in a matching purple-ish thread as a design feature. I changed to white thread because it would hide my inevitable mistakes better. Also because like the buttons, I couldn’t find the right color thread.

An online friend mentioned that she always hand-sews her buttonholes because for her, it is easier. I had never considered hand sewing, but since I have been playing around with hand embroidery, I thought I might be up for it. Of course this is covered in the Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing, my go-to technique reference. I followed the instructions to the letter and made a totally functional buttonhole. Unfortunately, it took forever and really does not bear close inspection. Back to the machine I went.

Partly because the fabric was more stable, and partly through practice, the machine served me well this time. I breezed through the machine buttonholes. In the future, I will save hand made buttonholes for coats and heirloom sewing.

I can’t wait for the weather to catch up to my creations!

Missed any of the other posts on the Marfy blouse?

Marfy Blouse 1 – The Pattern

Marfy Blouse 2 – The Valentine Toile

 

Contest · Fashion · Vintage

2018 Match Your Shoes Contest Entry

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Simplicity 1012 View C

I spent way more time than I expected working on the Marfy blouse in January, which didn’t leave me much time to put together my entry for PatternReview.com’s 2018 Match Your Shoes Contest.

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.

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!

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Checking the position of the flowers before cutting.

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.

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One of the midriff pieces serge-basted

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.

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!

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That’s better!

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.

Here is the finished look for my contest entry.

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Missed the first part of this post? Check it out here: 2018 Match Your Shoes Contest Begins.

 

 

Contest · Fashion · Vintage

2018 Match Your Shoes Contest Begins

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I’ll be reviewing this pattern for the contest and making View C.

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. Entitled The 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?

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The Cloud Footwear Janna Tall Bootie, from Nordstrom (2017)

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 admit I puzzled over this one longer than usual. But inspiration struck when I came across this vintage pattern re-release from Simplicity.

Here was an easy, loose dress with color blocking possibilities that could showcase different textures in the same tone.

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Oh, the possibilities!

Usually I can find something in my stash that will work, but not this time. I spent a fun time shopping for fabric and finally came up with a really neat combination.

The main color will be black and the side pieces will be gray with a lace overlay. All of the fabrics are either 100% cotton or cotton/poly blend, so they can be washed by machine.

Watch this space for more updates as the project progresses.