Saturday, February 13, 2016

Vogue 9091 - Black Culottes

Every once in awhile I feel like I want something "different" in my closet. Generally I'm not super trendy, but from time to time an odd trend appeals to me. This time it was culottes.

I had a piece of black wool in my stash that was too lightweight for pants. Using it for a skirt was an option, but that would have left a good sized remnant that would be too big to toss and too small to do much else with. Since it was lightweight and had some good drape, I thought it could work for culottes. Plus, stash fabric seems "free" to me, so if it was a total bust not much was lost.

There are quite a few patterns for culottes available now. The one I chose was Vogue 9091. I prefer a yoke to a regular waistband. Views A and B are considered culottes and View C is considered pants. I chose to make View C, but shortened it by five inches. I also added a lining, but those are the only real changes.

Vogue 9091

This is not a complicated pattern. The pleats are deep and getting the markings correct is important. The only fitting issue is really the yoke. There is plenty of ease in the rest of the pants. When I cut out the lining pieces, I folded out the pleats on the front so there would be less bulk.

Vogue 9091

Being as this was a pretty simple project, I enjoyed taking my time on each step and doing it well. I put in a lapped zipper in the back. It's been awhile since I did one of those, but I wanted something sturdier than an invisible one.

Vogue 9091

The facing and lining are hand sewn down. I added twill tape to the waist seam so it won't stretch out.

Vogue 9091

The side seam pockets are a nice touch. Again, something I had not done in awhile - I prefer slash pockets in pants,

Vogue 9091

None of these pictures are that great so it's hard to give you an idea of what they really look like. I like the way they look when I move. They really aren't "conventionally flattering," but they're different, interesting, comfortable, and warm and for now, that earns them a spot in my closet.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Rollie Pollie

We celebrated my younger daughter's 8th birthday in January. Eight! Sometimes in my mind she still looks like this. One of the things she wanted for her birthday was a bean bag chair. Her brother got one for his birthday last year and she likes to use it whenever he isn't.

I used Dana's Rollie Pollie pattern to make a bean bag chair that was a bit more interesting than one I could purchase. This was not my first time using this pattern. I initially purchased it last spring and used it to make a bean bag chair for a school auction. We used fabric paint and put the students' hand prints on the cut pieces and then assembled it after they were dry. It was a good project and brought in more money than I was expecting.

Rollie Pollie

The pattern and instructions are both good. I'd suggest reading through all of the instructions before starting - some things seem a little out of order to me, but it's all there. The only real change I made was to put a zipper in the insert and in the cover (instructions only call for one in the cover). It's good to be able to remove the cover for washing, but bean bag chairs almost always compress/deflate over time and I wanted to be able to refill it.

Rollie Pollie

In the pattern instructions, Dana gives ideas for filling. I used these "beans" (the price has gone up since I ordered). I ordered two boxes of them, but we only used half of the second one. My daughter wanted a little more squish rather than more fullness.

Rollie Pollie

The pattern is basically like a large beach ball - two circles on the ends and the rest of the pieces (4) look like footballs with a bite out of each short end. Assembly is not difficult, but the pieces are large. It took me awhile to find any note about seam allowance. I don't remember where it ended up being in the instructions, but it is 1/2" throughout.

Rollie Pollie

One end has a handle - helpful for dragging it from one room to another or for swinging it at your brother (not that that ever happens here). I sandwiched a piece of fleece in this one to give it some heft. I offered to applique an initial on the other end, but my daughter wanted it plain. On the one I did for the auction, I appliqued the school logo on one of the circles.

Rollie Pollie

The pattern includes two sizes - this is the large one. It is pretty good size and quite a bit bigger than my son's that we bought. It really produces a nice bean bag chair, but this isn't an inexpensive project. There is a whole lot of fabric between the insert and the cover, plus two looooong zippers, and then the beans. However, if you want to customize it to a child's preference or match a certain decor this is a nice option.

Rollie Pollie
side-by-side comparison: happy, comfy kids

If you have the space and have a kid that likes to flop on the floor or likes soft, comfy spots (my daughter was often dragging pillows and blankets into my sewing room to make a "reading nest" while I was in there) I'd highly recommend this as a project!

Rollie Pollie

Friday, January 8, 2016

Sweater Love

I was quite taken with Joji Locatelli's Lemongrass when I first saw it. I liked the split sides, the simple cable down the front and the turtleneck. The heavier gauge appealed to me also - faster to knit and a warm, cozy sweater in the end.

Lemongrass sweater

I went with one of the yarns recommended in the pattern; Malabrigo Yarn Twist in black. I loved this yarn and would like to knit another sweater with it. It is soft and squishy and not at all itchy. Sometimes even soft wool yarns in a scarf or turtleneck start to really bother my neck by the end of the day, but this one doesn't bother me at all. So good.

Lemongrass sweater

The only modifications I made to the pattern were very simple ones. Length was added to the front and back, but not equally - the back is longer than the front. Since I think loose sleeves on a sweater easily look sloppy, I went down a needle size for the sleeves. I like a substantial turtleneck and I have a long neck, so I added a whole lot to the neck, knitting the first half on a smaller needle so that it would stay close to my neck rather than bagging out.

Lemongrass sweater

The front and back are two separate pieces, but I did not work buttonholes in the ribbing at the sides. It didn't seem at all necessary and buttonholes in a large gauge rarely look good. The buttons are stitched on through both layers.

Lemongrass sweater

The pants are the Style Arc Elle Pant in olive marle stretch bengaline, ordered from Style Arc. The only alteration I made was adding length and I am very happy with the fit. This isn't the greatest photo of them, but they are pretty basic pants - easy to make, easy to wear. They are actually more green and less brown than they appear here. I expect I will use this pattern again and will try other Style Arc pants patterns.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Winter Finery for the Younger One

A week or so before I made my dress, I worked on these two pieces for my younger daughter. My older daughter had an idea of what she'd like for new Christmas clothes and I found something similar enough on sale, so we nabbed that. If she had needed me to make hers as well, I'm pretty sure mine would not have happened.

Christmas Dress

Both the vest and the dress are based on Ottobre patterns, but they're so significantly modified and mashed up that I'm not even going to name the specific patterns. The vest was very easy to construct, but the fake fur fabric was quite a nuisance. I'm pretty sure I spent more time cleaning up the fur fuzz than I did actually making the vest. It's fully lined and only has one hook and eye closure at the base of the collar.

Christmas Dress

The dress is also quite simple. The main fabric is a semi-sheer polyester woven with sheer polka dots. It isn't as sheer as chiffon, but sheer enough to require a lining. I handled the dress and lining as one piece for the zipper, armscyes and neck. The side seams, CB seam below the zipper and hems are separate.

Christmas Dress

The sleeves are unlined and bell-shaped with an elastic casing at the hem. They aren't as dramatic as my daughter was hoping, but I'm a little too practical for swooping, puffy sleeves (not a big fan of sleeves dragged through food, etc).

Christmas Dress

A flower for her hair finishes the ensemble. I followed this tutorial, used a ridiculous amount of hot glue, and felt pretty happy with how it turned out!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Butterick 6244 - Graphic print dress

It's been a few years since I made myself a new "Christmas" dress. This one qualifies with even a couple of hours to spare.

Butterick 6244

This is Butterick 6244. Most of the people that have used/reviewed this pattern have made the coat. I really liked the dress even though it is hard to see any details in the pattern photo. (I wish there was a way to just scroll through tech drawings on pattern sites). I liked the high neck, princess seams, and gentle A-line of the skirt.

Butterick 6244

The fabric is a black/ivory ponte knit that I bought online more than a year ago. I was a little disappointed that the ivory part wasn't brighter, but thought I could make it work for winter rather than summer. The print is a bit bolder than I usually wear (okay, any print at all is more print than I usually wear).

The pattern calls for woven fabrics, so I sized down for the muslin and then took it in a bit more all around before cutting the real thing. I also raised the bottom of the armholes. They seemed rather low to me. Perhaps I should have just gone down another size overall.

I liked the suggestion of using faux leather for the contrast pieces and used leftovers from these pants. It was very easy to sew and a good match in weight and stretch for the ponte. It adds just a bit of edge and texture.  I increased the length of the sleeves to elbow length. Long sleeves would be warmer, but I thought that would just be too much of the print.

Butterick 6244

Overall, I'm very happy with this dress and the process of making it. I was drawn to the high neck, even though in reality I don't think it is the most flattering on me. In winter, it feels better to be more covered up. The skirt has the ideal amount of flare. It was easy to fit and is well-drafted. The instructions are solid. The only thing I would like to change is the front yoke. To me it seems like it should either be wider so that it wraps around to the back shoulder, or be moved to the top of the shoulder, something like an epaulet.

Generally, my sewing is very practical and I only make things for myself that I know I'll wear regularly. This means that I haven't made many dresses for me in the last couple of years. I did really enjoy this and will be looking to make more in the coming year!

Monday, September 14, 2015

McCall's 7094 - Green Rayon Blouse

I don't like the word "blouse." I don't like the way it sounds or looks. The word doesn't have very attractive connotations in my mind. I don't know why. Anyway, I think what I have here is a blouse. Or maybe it's a blouse-y tunic. Whatever it is, I'm not sure it's a keeper.

This is McCall's 7094. I made it once before in silk, seen here. I thought it would look better as a tunic worn over slim pants rather than tucked into trouser-style pants. I loved the green color of this rayon challis (more emerald than it looks in the photos) and thought it would be a good match.

McCall's 7094

I had removed much of the fullness of the back with the first version and I think that came out well. But, the front is still just too full and ...blouse-y. A side view photo would be helpful here, but we didn't get one of those. I want to like this style, but this pattern isn't what I wanted it to be. I retired it after this project.

McCall's 7094

A few more pattern notes that may be helpful: the notched neckline is really nice, but fussy to make look good. I thought the second time around would be easier, but it wasn't really. The long version of this top is quite long. I am 5'9" and I trimmed off 2.5" from the front. When I was trying it on, it looked and felt like the front was longer than the back - perhaps because of the extra fullness in the front. It felt too much like a nightshirt as designed.

This shirt hasn't hit the donation pile yet. I'm wondering if I just need to try some other styling possibilities. Maybe with a jacket over it to control some of the volume?

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Final Summer Sewing

This shirt was the last of my summer sewing. Like most summers, there are many things left on my "want-to-make" list, but summer is a short season here and consistently my least productive time of year for sewing. After this shirt, I did make a few back to school things for my kids, so fall sewing has already begun. 

I’m really happy with this shirt, but nothing was surprising about it. I knew I liked the fabric and used my tried-and-true shirt pattern.


This fabric has been in my stash for a few years. I bought it on deep discount at an end of season sale. I like that it has the tie-dye feel without being overly hippie-ish. It is a lightweight cotton (lawn, perhaps?) with a stable weave and soft feel. It was lovely to work with. Unlike the fabric for this shirt, which felt a little bulky, this  worked wonderfully for the collar, plackets, etc.


I continue to tweak my collar making methods. For this one I combined Tasia’s tutorial (bleached muslin, glue basting) with Pam’s point turning tip. For finishing the collar band, I use Gigi’s tutorial. I am very happy with how this collar turned out. Awhile ago I modified the collar stand at center front so it angles straight from the button placket edge to the collar edge. I think I’m ready to return to the traditional curve. And maybe I’ll start putting buttons and buttonholes on the collar band again.

I do think I need to add a curve to the long edge of the collar, the edge that rests on my shoulders. Before cutting out this one, I did trim it a bit. I don't think it should have the folds like you see here. I like the height of the collar at center front, so adding more curve is the next thing to try, I think.


I’m not sure that these buttons were the ideal match, but I had them on hand. Also, JoAnn Fabrics is my only local option for buttons and their selection is so dismal that I wasn’t hopeful about finding something better (Aisles and aisles and aisles of beads, but buttons? Who needs those?!?). Sigh.


The sleeve placket and cuff went together without any issues. For a neat finish, I used French seams for the side and sleeve seams and finished the lower edge with a narrow double-turned hem.

Like I said earlier – not a surprise, but definitely a success. Now, onward with more fall sewing!