I’ve been wanting to put more things into my wardrobe to wear under suit jackets, and when shopping my pattern stash for ideas for this month, I came upon this Coordinates set. The pretty pink jacket on the pattern cover was an eye-grabber. I am really not a fan of the type of dress in View C, and need another skirt pattern like a hole in the head, but the tank top was worth a go.

Pattern envelope picture

Pattern envelope picture

I used a flimsy hot-pink crepe fabric that was in my stash. I honestly can’t remember when I acquired it or from where. It was pretty good to work with, and a lovely colour. I sort of wish I’d laid it out for a bias cut on the body pieces (not the yoke) so it would drape a little more softly around the body.

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I gave myself the day off today so I could have a proper weekend, and spent the day making another garment as part of the Pattern Stash-busting Contest on PatternReview.com. This pattern is copyright 2004 and I can’t honestly remember when I acquired it, but I know it’s no longer in print! It may have come from a fabric stash swap – wherever it came from, I’m pretty happy with how it turned out.

Pattern envelope image

Pattern envelope image

I decided to make this with some camel-coloured fine-wale corduroy that I got from a garage sale last summer for $5, but I also knew that the whole skirt would look a little granny if it was all corduroy. The gift of a large fabric stash is that there’s always something to pull out of the stash! I happened to have this great stretch gabardine which is the EXACT colour match to the corduroy. I honestly couldn’t have asked for a better match if I’d ordered the dye lots together.

Just the skirt, on the dress form

Just the skirt, on the dress form (please excuse the messiness of my loft)

The different textures create a really nice contrast, but the fabrics have pretty similar drapes because the corduroy is really light. I added about 2 inches in length to the bottom, which I’m glad about because I can now wear this with my brown boots and it won’t look high-water.

The fabric layout for this pattern was quite tricky – I’ll admit that I didn’t follow the suggested layout in the pattern, so it turned out that I needed to piece the lower front segment because I couldn’t get it laid out in one piece. Oops. I top stitched all the seams at the sides and the front though, so it does look okay, in my opinion.

The best part about this skirt is that when it’s put together with the blouse I made yesterday, it makes a whole outfit that actually looks planned. Huzzah!

The under-appreciated Vogue top with the kickass skirt - makes it all better!

The under-appreciated Vogue top with the kickass skirt – makes it all better!

Now that I’m getting back into rowing, it’s time to start improving the state of my training wardrobe. For the last two years I’ve been making do with one pair of poorly homemade black leggings, and they now have a hole in them. Enter McCalls 7261, a new pattern this Winter (which makes it ineligible for the Pattern Stashbusting Contest).

Pattern envelope photo for McCalls 7261

Pattern envelope photo for McCalls 7261

I am quite pleased with how these turned out. I used stashed black spandex, but some new red Lycra with wicking fleece on the back side (for the contrast bits). Oh this fabric is sooooo lovely. I think it would be too warm to make a whole pair of training leggings in, but my knees are going to be toasty warm tomorrow morning!

I really like how quickly this pattern came together – about 1h20min from pulling it out of the brand-new envelope! Having a serger with wooly nylon thread makes it a LOT easier to do activewear with Lycra, even if the thread has a bit of a tendency to break mid-seam (argh).

As it’s quite dark now in my loft, and time for bed so I can get up to row at 5am, I haven’t got a picture of these leggings right now. I think I am going to make the matching top, perhaps with the hood, using more of the black and red.

My little boy desperately needed some pyjamas, and that’s just about the only thing he’ll wear that I make anyways, so I figured to go for it. The only problem is that the patterns I have for him are all from years ago, so the biggest size is 8 and my little guy may be 8, but he’s also in the 90% percentile for height but the 50th percentile for weight. So I needed to make things LONG and SLIM.

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This is the pattern photo – not my kid.

This pattern has raglan sleeves and a neck band, and short or long sleeves. I went with short sleeves because he tends to get a bit hot at night. I used some great blue organic cotton that a friend picked out for me at a sale at Our Social Fabric, in around 2009 I think. So this is a big time stash-bust!

The pattern was really easy, but because I was working quickly I kind of bungled up the neckline. I thought it was a good idea to put KnitStable stretch interfacing along the neck band to give it some body so it wouldn’t twist, but then the neckband didn’t stretch to ease into the neck opening properly. No matter – he’s not picky and he really loves it! The fabric is extremely soft and comfortable, and I have to say I wish there was enough left for me to make a pair of PJs for myself! This was the tail end of 6m of fabric and now it’s gone… Sniff.

He’s all grows up!

This one's mine! :D

This one’s mine! :D

I’ve tried making Sandra Betzina patterns in the past. Heaven knows she is an icon of home sewing, and her sidekick Ron Collins on their online video series is one of my favourite sewing teachers, EVER.

BUT. You knew there was a BUT coming, right?

Lord love her, but her patterns are not suitable for me and my life.

The pattern envelope photo and sketch look really promising.

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Aside from the obvious fact that the model is a size 6, not a 16 like me, there’s a lot of good stuff going on here.

In practice though, it was a disappointment. For starters, there are ways to do sleeve bands well and then there’s this. Why would I sew two pieces of fabric together, putting a bulky seam at the bottom of my band, when I could just fold one piece in two? This is not an unusual technique.

The way this fits a larger woman is a bit boxy.

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You don’t actually SEE the square neckline under the draping, so why bother with the finicky technique? There’s something about the way the darks and shaping in this come together that just makes my bust look uni-boob and awkward.

The other thing about this pattern is that despite adding 1″ to the tissue before cutting, it still ends up sitting a little too short on the hips. This puts a horizontal line across the hips at the widest point, and we know what that does to a lady. Between that and the way the drape across the bust makes those horizontal floating folds, this just isn’t a good look for someone who has broad shoulders or a full chest. I have probably compounded this by using a fabric with a print that has vertical and horizontal design lines.

I tried to make a few adjustments, nipping in the waist for example, but it really didn’t make a difference. You can see from the photo on the pattern envelope that this shirt falls directly down from the armhole.

Will I wear this? Yeah, a few times. There’s a skirt I’m planning to make and I really want to put the two together, but all in all, I’m disappointed.

 

I’ve decided to take part in the Pattern Stash Busting contest on PatternReview.com, which requires you to make as many projects as you can from patterns that you’ve owned for 6 months or more. I’m also using stash fabrics for these projects, which will be all kinds of WIN in the stashbusting department.

The projects I have in mind to create are:

Vogue 2945 – with this brown/red digital abstract print.

Burda 6842 – with a lightweight brown wool – I will create a jacket and either pants or skirt from this. Haven’t picked the pants pattern yet, but I have lots to choose from.

McCalls M6711, view B – a simple tank top for wearing under suit jackets, in a shocking bright pink crepe. I might make the jacket later, too.

Cake Patterns Hummingbird peplum top & skirt – I am going to make the skirt, because peplum tops and me don’t mix. I have a cool digital print ponte knit in brown/black/paprika to do this with. (Technically I have only owned this pattern since the mid-fall, but it was in a friend’s stash before then, and I’m not really in this to win this anyways).

Burda Kids 9419 – A button-up shirt in Irish leprechaun green for my son

McCalls 4593 – probably view C, in a light brown/camel coloured corduroy with an inset of gabardine for texture.

Mr. Low has gone off to China leaving me with plenty of unfilled time on my hands in the evenings and weekends. El Kiddo would rather play video games or read books than go out and you know, do something fun (or even necessary like grocery shopping). So this weekend I found myself in the odd situation of having time to sew without any particular project catching my fancy.

I didn’t have anything to sew. Read More →

This fabric has been haunting me since I tried to make a cocktail dress and found the fabric just didn’t want to do that. So I am making an unlined tailored jacket instead. Cross your fingers please.

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Update 1

The back was easy to cut out using a pattern I had kicking around (Butterick 5412) but when I put it on the dress form it clearly needed to be a princess cut instead of a single piece with darts. I quite like the way the fabric print is highlighted by the princess line, so I am doing the same thing for the front of the jacket as well.

Basting the princess seams before stitching helped me create a smooth curve.

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Update 2

It is close to midnight and the princess seam on the jacket revealed a pretty serious fit problem which would have been equally difficult if I hadn’t gone princess… I would have had a monster extra baggy bit of fabric in front of the shoulder. I fortunately have enough fabric here to redraft the side front while matching the print exactly… hah this could have been a nightmare. I am going to sew together the new side front to the old front and then I am going to beeeeeeddddd.

Update 3

Not quite the right fit. And I think this needs to have black sleeves, otherwise it is going to be a super flash nightmare.

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Update 4

The whole thing is now underlined with black cotton, which took a big chunk of time today and then I had to go out. This evening I put the collar and zipper onto it and I’m playing with different ideas for the length of it. I’m going to make a simple black sheath dress to wear underneath this so I might want to make this a shorter jacket than the pattern called for… tell me again why do I bother with patterns/ Oh yeah cuz I haven’t figured out how to drape/draft collars yet. All in good time, my pretties. Now it’s bedtime.

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This is definitely a more structured garment than I am accustomed to making but I think it’s turning out okay.

Update 5

Oh this jacket is so 1985 I can’t even look at it anymore. So I can either chuck it or dramatically remake it again. I will try the latter… once more unto the breach. I am going to make a fairly snug-fitting tank top. See below.

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I think I need to re-cut the right side front panels so the print matches better. The left side is fierce but the right side is meh. But not tonight.

I cleaned up the sewing loft today, a task which was far overdue. I think making projects from scratch is more messy than sewing from patterns because of the iterations of muslin, pattern tissue and fashion fabric. My table is still piled high with patterns pieces that have to be matched to their homes. And there is a UFO on the dress form… a fabulous fabric which didn’t love the pattern I tried to use for it, so I am going to re-use the material for something else soon.

With the loft all clean like this I feel like I can offer to host someone here who would like to do a supervised sewing project. Perhaps it is time for that A-line skirt you have been itching for which isn’t sold in stores at the moment? Or is it a simple pair of PJ pants? Tell me on Facebook what you are itching to create and we will find a time for us to work together to make it come to life! (probably after Dec 25).

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So for those of you who occasionally come around here expecting posts about civics & current events, you’ve got to wonder what kind of blog I’m running here. Well, it’s my blog and I like sewing a LOT and I feel like blogging about it, so I will continue to do that in amongst occasional bits about payday loans and politics.

Today I am going to try to do something that I haven’t done very well in the past: create a sleeve to go on a dress I’m making. Here’s the dress.
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Here’s my work table all set up to follow a tutorial about sleeves.

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Yup I’m still running Windows XP on my laptop. It’s from 2006. I’d call it the “old” computer but there’s a 2003-vintage Dell Latitude in this household which still runs like a charm. But I digress.

The YouTube tutorial I followed included measurements for sleeve cap height based on a dress size. I chose a size 12 and drafted my first block based on that. I then cut it out of an old bedsheet, adding about 5/8″ seam allowances, and tried it on. While it was the right length, the sleeve cap did not fit, nor did the bicep. I have these rower’s muscles, you know. 😀 So following the instructions in the Sandra Betzina Fast Fit book, I slashed the pattern piece vertically and then raised the sleeve cap. Here’s what my block looks like now:

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You can kind of see in that second photo where I added height to the sleeve cap. I’ve cut it out of more bedsheet and stitched it together, and it fits quite well.

The purpose of a sleeve block is to give you the basic fit for a garment piece, but then you need to adjust it for design purposes. It’s not comfortable to wear a sleeve that is perfectly fitted, usually. For the dress I’m making right now, I’ll actually re-trace this sleeve block and then slash it in two places so I can insert the plaid fabric down the outside of the sleeve and make the rest of the sleeve out of my double-knit. Because I like to make life difficult for myself I will be trying to make the lower sleeve in one piece so there isn’t an underarm seam. With the double-knit being stretchy, I don’t need to add any ease to this block for fit. If I were making a pattern out of woven or less stretchy fabric, I would probably add 1 to 1 1/2 inches of ease.

The next step for this was to trace the original sleeve block onto new paper and then slash it into 3 pieces, then put the sides together at the underarm seam. This creates two pattern pieces, one which is cut out of the plaid and the other out of the knit. Here are the pattern pieces, and the finished sleeve:

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That picture gives you an idea of the blocking on the arm.

With the dress itself, I realized when I was putting together the seams on the sleeve that things go together much more smoothly when I use Lite Steam-a-Seam to “baste” the zipper to the plaid, then the knit to the zipper, so layers don’t shift or stretch during the stitching. So then I decided to take out the princess seams on the dress and re-do them with this new technique. OH MY GOODNESS. It took forever. I had topstitched each of the seams so I had to take out two rows of stitching on each seam. All told, taking it apart and putting it back together took me three hours. So much for making another garment tonight!! I’m now working on the hem of the dress, after which I will re-make the neckline because it rides too high and bugs me. Should be wrapped up around ohhhh 11pm?