Fashion · Travel · Vintage

Resort 2019: Tropical + Retro = Yay

Screen Shot 2019-03-25 at 12.26.09 PMButterick 6354 by Patterns by Gertie is a retro-style set of summer coordinates. I fell in love with it the first time I saw it, but held off making it until I had a vacation planned. This March was finally the time!

I had about four yards of a lightweight tropical print in my stash that seemed perfect. I knew I wouldn’t have enough to make all of the pieces, but I thought with some creative layouts, I might get pretty close.

Due to the fabric requirements, the shorts I made don’t use the Butterick pattern, but the rest of the pieces do. I’ve only made modifications for fit.

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The perfect print

Easy?

belizean_outfit_24Butterick rates this pattern as Easy, which they describe as follows:

There will be more details when the techniques are simple and fewer details when the techniques are more involved. Some fitting knowledge required.

Okaayyyyy…..

So, the garments with easy views have detailed instructions. The more complicated pieces have less. It’s left as an exercise for the customer to figure out which parts Butterick considers simple. When things get a little vague, you are expected to find (or already know) the answers on your own.

I think I did that and hopefully I can pass some of my newfound knowledge on to you.

I would rate the skirt as easy, the jacket as slightly more difficult, and the bustier as most difficult. Although I didn’t make them, I would put the side-zip shorts between the jacket and the bustier.


The Sarong

skirt_2This wrap skirt goes together easily and has some details that make it more flattering than many skirts that are much harder to make. There is a hook and eye that keeps the tucked layer in place* and ties that are shaped to make a pretty knot at the side. The tucks going in to the side tie and two back darts give it shape while keeping bulk at a minimum. It’s a nice feature that gives all kinds of body shapes a curvy look.

Instead of a waistband, the top edge is finished with bias binding. The other edges are simply finished with narrow hems. The pattern called for a purchased package of 1/2 inch binding, but I thought the contrast of a solid color would look wrong. I certainly didn’t see it on the pattern’s cover photo. Making my own was easy enough and didn’t use up too much material. It only requires a piece a little longer than the waist circumference.

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Oops – next time do up that hook and eye!

I have to admit that I accidentally sewed the ties on upside down. It looked nice anyway, so I didn’t change it. Done correctly, it should be even better!

Being an easy view, the skirt had a nice complete set of instructions.

* I forgot to do the hook when I took pictures, so all of them have the inside layer hanging down a little bit.


The Bolero Jacket

bolero_6The bolero might be the most versatile view in the pattern set.

It’s just big enough to cover the shoulders when worn over a slim fitting top. While the sleeves and shoulders would accommodate a variety of shapes with no adjustment, the ribcage/bust area uses darts for a close fit. I didn’t need to make adjustments, but given that I usually reduce fitted garments there, I would say it’s worth checking before sewing.

I didn’t have enough fabric to do the self-lining the pattern called for. I used a simple lightweight unbleached woven instead. I also chose to carefully topstitch the sleeves closed instead of slip-stitching. Using this technique, the jacket can easily be made reversible.

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Testing the fit is important as the jacket fits very close to the body
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I saved a step by using my muslin as the jacket lining.

The Bustier

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Even without the halter strap, careful fitting and boning keep the top smooth and flat against the body

The bustier was the most ambitious project I have undertaken in a while. I was pleased to find out that it was not beyond my ability, although there were many steps.

Preparing the Pattern

I knew from experience that I would need to make a long waist adjustment, so I made that pattern modification before I did anything else. I then started a test of the front and back body pieces. My test bodice revealed a lot of fit issues. I pinned out new bust darts and new side seams and tried again. Success! I transferred all of the changes to the paper pattern using colored pencil to make sure I knew which lines to use. Once that was done, I adjusted and smoothed out the lines indicating boning placement.

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If you use 1/4 inch gingham to test your bodice, you can just count the squares to double check measurements.

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The Zipper

The pattern uses a lapped zipper application with a separating zipper. Separating zippers are easily found in 7 inch lengths, which is what the pattern calls for. But since I made a long waist adjustment, I needed a longer one.  After much searching, I found that they can be custom ordered from Botani Trim.  I paid more for my custom zipper, but I really love it. It has metal teeth on soft twill tape, which really makes it feel authentically retro.

Boning

The pattern calls for 2 1/2 yards of 1/4 inch boning.

I started with a package of Dritz featherlite boning, then halfway in noticed that 2 1/2 yards would require 2 packages so things sat around for a while until I got more. Continuing with my theme of making mistakes from not reading carefully, I accidentally ordered a different boning the second time. The other type turned out to be a 1/4 inch casingless version.

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When complete, the top contains 10 strips of boning. That gave me plenty of time to experiment with the two different types and how to sew them.

The less expensive uncased boning worked fine and will probably be what I use in the future. I used some scrap bias tape to make casings, which was fine for this because the casings were sandwiched in between the lining and the surface fabric. I would choose something softer and stronger if the casing was going to come in direct contact with skin.

By the tenth strip, I had a process.

Carefully mark the wrong side of the lining fabric with the placement lines and the seam lines.

Then, for each boning strip:

  1. Make a small arrow in the seam allowance to show the center of each placement line.
  2. Cut casing strip to go from seam line to seam line
  3. Iron small squares of fusible tape to upper and lower edge of casing (more for longer or curved sections)
  4. Fuse casing in place
  5. Using blind hem foot, sew casings in place close to the edge, leaving top and bottom open.
  6. Cut boning strip to casing length.
  7. Using nail clippers, clip ends into curved shape
  8. Using lighter, slightly melt ends to smooth them (takes a little practice)
  9. Insert the boning into the casing.

I have to say that I am amazed at how effective the boning is at smoothing out all of the top’s little pull lines and wrinkles.

Another unexpected bonus was that I don’t need to wear a bra under this top. The boning is placed directly over the bust points, so it conceals very well.

Putting it all Together

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The Shorts

belizean_outfit_32I did my best to squeeze all four of B6354‘s views into the fabric I had, but there was just not enough for the shorts. So I took the pattern pieces I had from my Itch to Stitch Angelia Shorts and just barely made them fit with the scraps.
Perhaps that should have been a hint, because squeeze and just barely fit is what these shorts are all about! It seems that I took too much comfort in the comfort food over the winter. Oh well. They’ll make great motivation for getting in shape this summer.
I go into detail on how to make them here: Itch to Stitch Angelia Shorts – Part 1 and here: Itch to Stitch Angelia Shorts – Part 2.



belizean_outfit_31Review Links

I reviewed parts of this pattern on patternreview.com:
Bolero Review
Bustier Review
Sarong Review

belizean_outfit_21Materials

Main Fabric
Lining Fabric
Separating Zipper – Custom Length
Separating Zipper – 7 inch
Dritz Featherlite boning
1/2 inch Buttons
Bias Binding
7 in non-separating Zipper
3/4 inch button
Lightweight fusible interfacing
Butterick 6354 Sewing Pattern
Itch to Stitch Angelia Shorts Sewing Pattern

Have you made a bustier before? Corset? I would love to hear from you!

Until next time, happy sewing!
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Fashion

Itch to Stitch Angelia Shorts – Part 2

angelia_shorts_215I can’t believe it has been 2 months since I made a test version of the Angelia shorts. I shouldn’t have waited so long – I can already tell these are going to be the shorts I want to throw on every hot day!

Fabric

The tan synthetic stretch twill has been kicking around my fabric stash for at least 10 years. I remember getting it from a bargain table and thinking it would be perfect for a pair of pants. Well, when I actually looked at using it with a pants pattern, it was obvious that there wasn’t enough. Rather than admit I had made a poor impulse buy, I set it aside for shorts. While I think it will be great to wear, it was not fun to sew. It required a lower temperature iron, which made it really hard to shape. Oh, and it frays like crazy! Another sewing lesson learned…

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These are the back pockets in the middle of construction. I managed fraying by overcasting all the edges. You can see how the pressed edges don’t hold a crease.
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This is the coin pocket. Here I have pinned it to the ironing board slightly damp to help keep the creases from rolling out.

Pattern Notes

There is a lot to this pattern, but no one single step is especially difficult. If you make it, you should be comfortable with topstitching, sewing curved seams (contour waistband) and making buttonholes. I struggled with making the waistband. I ended up having to cut it 3 times because first I fused interfacing to the wrong side, then somehow switched the left and right sides so the button tab was on the wrong side of the fly. The instructions were great. I should have followed them the first time!

I would say that making the 5 pockets and belt loops probably doubled the amount of construction time. It’s worth it though. The pockets are what make the shorts look professional. Plus, they are big enough to be useful.

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Closeup view of that pesky waistband, center back. TIP: Baste seams open to hold them in place. Open seams reduce extra bulk in heavier fabrics.

Like a lot of independent pattern company patterns, the Angelia shorts use a 3/8 in. seam allowance. I really like that there is less waste, but it makes it that much more important to test the pattern first (also recommended in the instructions). You don’t have any wiggle room if you need to add a little space here or there.

If you make the pockets, there are several places where you have to sew through 4-5 layers of fabric. Not every machine can handle that, especially if you are using a bulkier fabric. If you are in any doubt, test first!

Since the fabric was determined to return to its original flat shape, I knew that keeping it in place while I finished the waistband would be difficult. So, I hand basted it in place first. This was the first time I tried my new Japanese basting thread. I really love it. It’s thicker than all purpose thread and a little fuzzy. It’s just enough texture to help the stitches stay in place while still allowing a smooth hand sewing experience.

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Inside shorts showing hand basting

With the basting in place, I was able to sew a very neat topstitch to attach both sides of the waistband together. I used an easy trick to keep the seam even.

Here’s how:

Change your machine’s foot to the blind hem foot. Place the fabric under the foot so the vertical blade falls inside the “ditch” of the seam. Change the needle position at least one setting to the left or right – anything but the middle. Leave the machine on a straight stitch – don’t change to blind hemming. Then sew away and enjoy your perfect topstitching!

I only turned the hem once because the fabric was so bulky. I overcast the bottom edges then finished with a blind hem. I’m not ecstatic about the results, but they work. If I get ambitious I might pick it out and redo it with a coverstitch or topstitched hem.

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Lovely perfect topstitching using the blind hem foot

In the end, I think these turned out really well. I think I need to do something easy next though!

Until then,

Happy sewing!

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Read my review of these shorts on patternreview.com here

Fashion · Fitting

Itch to Stitch Angelia Shorts – Part 1

angelia_shorts_1_15For the past year, I have been working on putting together a collection of good basic patterns fit to my measurements. So far, I have go-to patterns for a raglan top, a dolman top, a cowl-neck pullover, a loose high-waist pant, joggers, and a workout bra-top. Since I live in shorts in the summer months, a good basic shorts pattern was the next logical choice.

The Angelia Shorts pattern from Itch to Stitch Designs seemed to fit the bill. Itch to Stitch is another independent pattern company that sells downloadable PDF patterns. Itch to Stitch PDFs are available in “copy shop” versions, which is a big time saver. When you purchase the pattern, you get it in all of the available sizes. In this case, there are 12 sizes ranging from a waist measurement of 23 7/8 to 39 inches. You can choose to turn the cutting lines for each size on or off, which really helps when you have so many sizes on one sheet.

angelia_shorts_1_16The basic shorts are slightly below waist with loose fitting legs, a waistband and front zipper fly. There are length variations starting at a 4 inch inseam and all kinds of options for pockets, belt loops, and so on.

I made a quick muslin to test just the main front and back pieces for fit. I did not worry about the closure – I just pinned the center shut.  I found that I needed to taper the sides a little and widen the darts. I transferred the changes to my front and back pattern pieces, then adjusted the waistband piece to compensate for the darts. Now I was ready to test the whole pattern.

I made my wearable muslin out of quilting cotton (Orient by Nel Whatmore). Yes, it’s a little busy, but I have to be me! I have to say that I was impressed by the instructions provided by Itch to Stitch. They don’t assume any garment sewing experience, so there are detailed steps for things like making pattern alterations and shortening a zipper. I followed the instructions closely, since I had never made a zipper fly closure before. It worked! I was not confused by any of the potentially confusing steps and I’m really pleased with how the closure turned out. Here’s a slideshow of the closure construction:

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I’m really glad I made a test version, because I could see right away that I needed to make more changes. The main issue is that the crotch sits too low. I pinned out a slightly shorter crotch length and transferred the change to my pattern pieces. I feel like I am now ready to go with any of the pattern options.

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Side view with shortened crotch pinned

Stay tuned for a “bells and whistles” version. In the meantime, happy sewing!

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Fashion

Mystery Activewear 1: Have You Tried Turning it Off and On Again?

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The contents of the mystery pack cut and pinned for four garments.

Today’s activewear project is a complete set of shorts and long sleeveless top.  Last month, I impulse-bought a mystery pack of athletic-brushed-poly (ABP) prints from Zenith and Quasar. I love their designs, so I was pretty sure I would be able to use most of what I got. I was promised a USPS padded flat rate envelope (PFRE) stuffed with a variety of small and large pieces, and that was exactly what I got.  I took inventory and found that I had two groups of coordinates.

Group 1: Coding, Windows & Space Invaders – blue and white with primary color accents

Group 2: Black and Green Tech – Black and variegated dark colors with lime green accents

Each grouping contained a panel and coordinating fabrics of different dimensions. The panels are set up with a design centered on one half so that they can easily be cut into shirts. While both panels were a full 60 inch width, only the blue had an entire yard of length.

Washing and drying brought out the “brushed” texture of the ABP, which before washing was smoother than I had expected. There was plenty of stretch and recovery, so I was confident that it would work well as close-fitting gym wear.

I started working on Group 2 first, for the sole reason that I already had my machines were already threaded in black. I’ll feature Group 1 in an upcoming post.

I designed a top around the panel print (“Have you tried turning it off and on again?”). I selected a Butterick “lisette” pattern which contained a basic athletic tank with built-in sports bra (B6295). I centered the panel design on the tank front, and cut the rest of the top from that panel piece.

I mostly followed the instructions, but chose to make the bra with sewn-in cups instead of removable ones. Making my maillot last summer gave me the confidence to try doing custom cups. In some ways, it makes it easier to sew, since you don’t have to mess with making the hidden inner cup pockets. In other ways, it is more work because you need to take the time to fit and sew foam cups. Since I don’t machine-dry my tops, sewn-in is a better long term option for me. I won’t have to re-adjust the foam every time I run the top through the laundry.

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The inner bra is constructed of two layers. The inner layer provides structure with power mesh fabric and in my case, foam cups. The outer layer (next to the skin) is made from the fashion fabric. The two layers are held in place with an elastic band enclosed in a casing made from the fashion fabric. Elastic casings have been a lot easier since I started using Dritz elastic threaders. I have tried a lot methods, but these little flat plastic things are the fastest and never twist the elastic.

Although the ABP is soft and stretchy, it is a little thicker than other spandex options. As a result, I found that even after pressing, the neck and armhole edges would not lay flat. The instructions call for understitching as much as possible. I have never seen understitching make such a big difference! This is the kind of step that is so easy to skip, but don’t do it!  It took the top from homemade to professional in just 15 extra minutes. The instructions showed using a straight stitch to understitch, but just to be on the safe side, I used a narrow zigzag.

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I love that fabric!

Compared to the top, the shorts were so easy that they almost seem like an afterthought. But I think that the circuit board coordinate really makes the outfit. I had to be a little creative since I only started with a wide horizontal strip about 10 inches high. A review of all of my pattern stash options led to McCall’s M7514, which had a yoga-style pant. Since M7514 featured a one-piece leg, it used less fabric horizontally. If you do the math, adding a single seam adds 5/8 in. to each piece, which would be 4 pieces total in the case of a typical 2 piece leg. So 5/8 x 4 = 2 1/2 inches. That doesn’t include the extra you may or may not need for placement. Normally it doesn’t matter, but in this case the pieces only just fit. I squared off the fabric and cut the the leg pieces with as much length as I could. Then I cut the waistband from the remaining bits of the panel. I had to cut two pieces and sew them together to make that work, but I could live with that.

The shorts were super-simple to make. I hemmed them with a 1/4 inch narrow hem, which saved a little more length and gave them a whopping 2 3/4 inch inseam. Still, they are longer than a lot of yoga shorts out there and seem to stay in place as I move around.

Thoughts? Leave a comment!

Fashion

Girl Power Shorts

A friend gave me a neat cotton/spandex panel which features some of my favorite movie heroes.  I really wanted to make something with it, but I didn’t have any matching fabric and the design was located inconveniently right in the middle of the small (fat half size) piece.

After ruminating for a while, I thought it was worth a try to just lay out some pieces and see how they fit.  That way I would know how best to plan color blocking for the extra material I would need to get.

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Trying to fit the shorts pattern on my fat half

Since I was really trying to conserve fabric and I also needed some new workout shorts, I raided my pattern stash for the simplest, smallest shorts I would actually wear.  I have some fancy patterns with interesting details, but those extra seamlines and pieces take more yardage. I found a very basic leggings pattern with lots of length variations (McCall’s M6360).  After just rough cutting the tissue pieces and placing them over the design, I was a little discouraged.  It didn’t seem like there was any way to have a logical placement of the design and still have yardage left to cut more than one piece.  It was really close though.

I took my measurements and found my pattern size.  The outside lines of the multi-size pattern were two sizes above what I needed.  Things were looking up!

Next, I carefully placed the pattern tissue for one of the back pieces over the graphic.  I was able to get the whole image only if it wrapped around my rear on one side.  I can live with that.  There was only one way the design was going to fit (okay – I had to cut off a tiny bit of the design), so I cut that piece first.

I figured it was also fine to put the white border inside the seam allowance and hem, so that made my working area a little bigger.  With that in mind, I cut two more pieces – the other back and one of the fronts.  Now it was really just scraps.

I just wasn’t happy with my options for the last front piece. I knew if I didn’t have the same fabric, any color blocking would risk uneven wear and probably a weird looking result.  I’m all for weird, but on my terms.

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Putting the last piece together with scraps. Note that I am using my favorite quick and dirty basting method again: blue tape.

Finally, I realized that if I carefully used the white border to make horizontal stripes, I would be able to take the odd-sized black scraps to complete the last piece.

With a little more careful cutting and piecing, I had the striped piece ready to go.

Putting the shorts together was super easy. It was all done on the serger using familiar techniques. There is an elastic waistband and coverstitched hem.

I feel quite pleased that I squeezed a whole pair of shorts out of half a yard – and no leftovers!

Well, I’m off to rule the universe.  When I get back – more fun activewear!

Thoughts? Leave a comment!

Fashion

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.