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!

Friday, July 31, 2015

Gingham Shirt

I made this shirt back in early spring. My wardrobe needed something fresh and I really just wanted to make a shirt. It's nice to end up with a lovely product, but when it comes to shirtmaking, I really just love the process. The original pattern is Burda 04/2010 #114, but I've used it multiple times and made several changes.

Burda 04/2010 #114

The gingham is not really the ideal weight for a classic shirt. It's more like quilting cotton - not real fine and a little spongy. It is nice quality and was pleasant to work with, but the bulk was a little frustrating at some parts of the process.

Burda 04/2010 #114

I added some bright yellow-green accents to the shirt. The color isn't accurate in any of these pictures. I had both yardage and bias tape in the exact same color. That was a surprise to me (I guess I really like that color…) but I made use of both of them.

Burda 04/2010 #114

I did consider binding the hem with the tape so that it showed on the outside of the shirt, but decided against it. The other details are more subtle and I thought the hem should be as well.

Burda 04/2010 #114

I used a two-piece sleeve placket because I wanted the overlap and underlap to be different. There was a lot of changing bobbin and needle threads in this project to make sure that the thread matched the fabric where it would show.

Burda 04/2010 #114

I made some alterations to this pattern from the last time I made it - adding some extra room and doing a full bust adjustment. I did not get the bust darts in the right place. I don't notice it as much when it's on, but it's clear in this picture that they are too low. The fabric didn't make it easy to get a nice smooth dart, either. A princess seamed shirt is probably the way to go, but I still prefer the more relaxed look of a seamless front.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Sisters in Stripey Sundresses

Sewing for my kids has been pretty minimal the last few months. I told my girls I would make them each a sundress and seeing as how July is just about done, I thought I should get on it. I had these two cuts of striped knit and told them they needed to decide together who was getting each one. They settled that quickly and then I gave them two options for patterns/design. They each picked a different one.

Stripey Sundresses

My younger daughter picked the narrow stripe and wanted "a loooong dress." I used a tank top pattern (Ottobre 4/2015#26) and extended it to maxi dress length. Then I followed the same stripe placement scheme as McCall's 6559.

Ottobre 4/2015 #26

I recently purchased a binder attachment for my Baby Lock serger and thought these would be good dresses for trying it out. I got the basics down, but I have a lot more learning/playing to do. I can get it to work great for wovens, but knits were pretty awful. So, these bindings are done on my regular sewing machine with a double needle (more details here).

Ottobre 4/2015 #26

The side slits were an afterthought (and they look like it, too - no close-ups of that - yikes!) and were necessary to allow for walking in the dress. When I extended the pattern, I did add some flare, but apparently not enough.

My older daughter's dress also started out as a tank top pattern (Ottobre 3/2015 #25), but she wanted a fuller, shorter skirt. I really like the top part of the dress - the neckline is flattering and interesting.

Ottobre 3/2015 # 25

Same story here with the bindings - done on my regular sewing machine with a double needle. The navy band has a facing, so the shoulder straps are sandwiched between the layers. I added a lightweight interfacing to the band to give it some support.

Ottobre 3/2015 # 25

Due to fabric constraints I had decided to cut the skirt on grain and have the stripes going horizontally across the front of the skirt. When I sewed the skirt front and back together, I liked the chevron pattern at the seam and decided to make the seams center front and center back. It didn't really work that well.

Ottobre 3/2015 # 25

When the skirt is hanging, there is more fabric at center front than at the sides and I looks a little strange. Not bad enough for me to be motivated to rip out that overlocked seam, but still kind of bad.

Ottobre 3/2015 # 25

The back view isn't as bad because the fabric has to spread out enough to go over her bum. The back length of the bodice should have been shortened, but I thought it would look odd with the prominent stripes so I left it.

Stripey Sundresses

The girls are happy with their dresses and - Bonus! - they each have a sweater to match so these can be worn for a bit into the fall. Good news, because if I'm as quick about sewing fall clothes as I was with these, the girls are going to be chilly.