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.

Monday, May 4, 2015

McCall's 6992 - Sheer White Sweater

While it took me awhile to get on board with the stylish sweatshirt trend, I’m really liking it now. The key to making it work for me is using a fabric that isn’t bulky or sweatshirt-like. When I saw a sheer white sweater knit on the clearance rack at Jo-Ann Fabrics,  I thought it would make a nice pairing with McCall's 6992 for spring.

There isn't a lot to say about the pattern. It's a very easy style to sew up. Several options are included in the pattern, making it easy to include several versions in your wardrobe without feeling like they're all the same. Not that that matters to me - I use the same patterns over and over again even if they do all look the same. But I know not everyone gets excited about that.

Necessary alterations were blissfully minimal. I added an inch of length, but I don't think I really needed it with this fabric. In something less stretchy, it would have been important. For the bottom band, I disregarded the pattern piece and cut the band just a titch shorter than my hip circumference. I wanted it to be snug enough to stay in place, but not ride up.  The neckline is finished with a narrow binding rather than the traditional wider sweatshirt neckband.

There are small darts at the shoulders and I think I would move them forward if I make this again. When I have it on, they are slightly behind my shoulder line and I often feel like I need to pull the whole top forward.

I like this top for spring - not too bare, but still light and breezy. Unfortunately, the fabric is somewhat delicate and already has a couple of small snags. Since the investment in both time and money for this piece was pretty minimal, I'm going to just enjoy it while it lasts and not worry too much about it.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

McCall's 7094 - Blue Silk Blouse

Figuring out how to dress for work (alluded to here) has led to some experimentation on my part. If I’m going to need new clothes, I might as well try some different things.  Awhile ago I included a couple pieces of silk crepe de chine in an order from Fabricmart. My experience with silk is pretty limited – both the sewing of it and the wearing of it, but I was curious if I’d like to do more with it. The pieces I bought were a good deal and good for experimenting.

I really liked McCall’s 7094 and thought it would be a good match for a drapey silk. I preferred view D, but didn’t have the yardage it required. The blue silk matched the blue in this wool, so I figured if the top turned out I could wear them together.

As other reviewers note, the top has a lot of ease through the bodice. I chose my size based on the width across the shoulder yoke. After basting the bodice together and trying it on, I took some width off the front at the side seams and recut the back. The pattern includes gathers in the back, but pleats in the front. I modified it to have two small pleats in the back and cut away all the extra. There is still plenty of ease and the loose fit is maintained, but it isn’t excessive.

I really like the placket and neckline detail. My finishing on the inside is a bit dodgy, but I was being more speedy than meticulous. I hand-stitched the placket closed to the point where it curves apart.

The sleeves end with a plain hem – no cuffs or other detail. They aren’t quite long enough for me, but I didn’t expect to ever wear them unrolled. However, the tabs are functional and can be undone for washing and ironing the shirt.

I enjoyed working with this silk. It isn’t as slippery and shifty as charmeuse. I finished the side and sleeve seams with French seams since it would show when the sleeves were rolled up, but I did use the serger for other finishing. 

I'd like to make this again, but in the longer length to wear with slim pants. This version is in the laundry as I type these very words, so we shall see how it fares. My daughter was upset and needed some hugs and snuggles while I was wearing it. You can see evidence of that here:


So, I enjoyed working with the silk and it feels wonderful to wear, but whether or not my life is suitable for it has yet to be determined…

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Wool Trousers, Part 2

I made this pair very shortly after the first version, with only a couple of changes to the pattern. I took out some height at the CB (I don't remember exactly how much), tapering to nothing at the side seams. I also changed the size of the pocket bags. I'm happier with this pair, but still need some more changes.

Half grimace, half smile. It was so cold and windy. I thought outdoor pictures would be better, but the sun was so bright (not complaining!) that it makes it hard to see any details.

The fabric is a black and blue loosely woven wool. From anywhere but up close, it looks like a very dark navy. It is the same fabric used in the Lisette moto jacket sew-along. I think I used what would be considered the "wrong" side of the fabric, but I liked it better.

Other than the fact that it frayed pretty quickly, the fabric was easy to work with. Most of the pattern details are the same as the last pair. The fabric pressed well and the finished pants are smooth despite the puffy look here.

I added a lining to these for warmth and coverage and because the wool was just slightly itchy. When I was doing the fly I wasn't really thinking about the lining, so that finish is a little dodgy, but in the end it works. These instructions from Threads Magazine were helpful with the lining.

Thanks to the wind, these pictures didn't turn out to be all that helpful for fitting purposes. It is clear to me that some more adjustments are needed under the seat. The adjustment below the waistband didn't turn out to affect the leg as much as I thought it would.

I did make a flat seat adjustment on the pattern, but haven't cut out the next pair. We're on Spring Break this week and I'm hoping to log some time in the sewing room, so maybe I'll get a start on it.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Wool Trousers, Part 1

I work part-time as a bank teller. The bank has a pretty tight dress code (but not uniforms) and the town where I live and work is pretty conservative. While my position doesn't have much (if any?) authority, I think it's important to look professional and I would prefer to be overdressed rather than underdressed. I also walk to work and during the winter that means I need my legs covered. All that to say, it was time to revisit making pants. Not faux-leather leggings, not pajama pants, but real trousers.

The last pair of great trousers I made are too small for me now. Truth be told, they were always a little small. They were fine when I was standing, but were uncomfortable when sitting. The pants I copied for the pattern had just the slightest bit of stretch. I thought it was slight enough that I could make it work with a non-stretch fabric, but that little bit of stretch did matter.

So, then I debated about starting from the beginning with a new pattern or revisiting this one. Since I know I like the proportions and style of this pattern, I decided to continue on with it. Using this article from Threads Magazine, I graded it up and made a quick muslin. It was too big, so I graded it down a little and made another quick muslin. After a couple of adjustments to the pattern based on the fit of the second muslin, I felt ready to cut into some "real" fabric.

I used a gray polyester twill that someone handed down to me at some point. I didn't love this fabric, but figured it could be wearable in the end. I wanted to make them completely and wear them a few times before deciding what other changes needed to be made.

I was thinking I'd give them a C-. Then I saw the pictures and now I'm thinking a D+. The legs look better when I have shoes on, but there are still a lot of problems. There is some buckling in the back under the waistband. It is less of an issue when I wear a belt, but it still doesn't look good. The welt pockets aren't actually pockets and the layers of self fabric there add some unfortunate bulk.

When I pinned out the extra in the seat under the waistband, that seemed to really help with the folds under the seat, so that was the only change to the pattern that I made for the next pair. (When I started this, I was expecting it to take at least four tries. I'll be rewarding myself with progressively nicer fabric as I go).

Actually, I did also change the size of the pocket bags. These felt really small and I added both length and depth to them.  This pair is unlined and the waistband is finished with contrast bias binding.

On to Version 2!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Mondo Bag

Remember this bag? I like that bag. It's quirky and unique and I get funny comments about it when I carry it. However, The Preacher does not appreciate that bag. He claims to be embarrassed to be seen with me when I have it. That doesn't usually stop me, but now I have a second option when I need a very large (and respectable) tote bag.

This is the Mondo Bag from Quiltsmart. The pattern was a gift from my mother-in-law, who works at a quilt shop. The pattern includes fusible interfacing printed with a grid for doing the patchwork. The technique is similar to the one I used here. You produce four patchwork rectangles and then sew them together in a swirled plus-shape. That’s the best description I can give - it's rather unique and the final result looks more complicated than it actually is.

The fabric I used for the outside is from CherrywoodFabrics. I purchased a pack of fat quarters at Quilt Expo to use with this pattern. I would not have combined these colors on my own, but I really like the final result. Unfortunately, it was hard to capture the real colors in the photos. I'd say they're more vibrant and richer in real life. They are hand-dyed cotton, but have a really nice textural sueded look.

I purchased the lining to match and added the slip pocket and key clip. The pattern includes instructions for adding a pocket to the lining, but I think it ends up being diagonal inside the bag. I wasn't so excited about that, so I did my own thing.

There is a reason this is called the "Mondo" Bag. It is enormous. Here are my shoes (size 9) sitting comfortably in the bag with room to spare on all sides. The bottom of the bag is square and the sides stand up nicely on their own. When the bag is set down, it is easy to find things in it. Much like this bag, I think it'll be best for hauling larger, bulky items.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Pajama Pants

Shortly before Christmas, I made all three kids some new pajamas. Then I made them each a set as a Christmas gift and my mom gave them each new pajamas, too! Pajama overload perhaps, but it was really a good thing. Even The Preacher got new pajamas. The ability of good pajamas to bring comfort and joy is not to be underestimated. My pajama drawer and I were feeling left out.

Finally last week I was able to remedy that. I do not enjoy the bunching up around the legs that happens with traditional pajama pants. I had been wearing leggings and tunics as pajamas for awhile and that worked well. Last fall I made a pair of sweatpants (track pants? lounge pants? I don't know exactly what they are...) using Ottobre 5/2011 #5 and I really liked them.

Combined with the plentiful race T-shirts I have, they would be great as pajamas - comfy, stretchy, and tapered at the ankle so they don't bunch up.

I bought two pieces of cotton interlock from JoAnn's and made them assembly-line style. Most of the sewing was done on my serger (Babylock Evolution - loooove that thing) using the three-thread coverstitch and two-thread flatlock. I prefer the contrast of the gray on the navy to the blending on the gray pair.

The hem has a slit in the inseam. I sewed the inseam on my sewing machine to make finishing the slit easier. I like this touch - it allows for extra length comfortably.

This pattern fit me exactly how I'd like it to without any tweaking. Even the length was perfect! I left off the drawstring and I put the elastic all the way around the waist, as opposed to just 3/4, which leaves the front smooth. If these were going to be out-and-about pants (and they certainly could - they are very similar to the Hudson pants and the Anima pants. Very current and stylish, but not the look for me right now) I would include those features, but they're pajama pants so we're keeping it simple.

I'm so happy with these. They meet a real need and the fact that I really like them is a wonderful bonus. The weather here is still so cold and bleak (but hope is on the horizon!) - a little comfort and joy from pajamas is totally welcome.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Back At It

It's been awhile since I've posted anything here and I'm finding that I miss it. This past year has been full of changes and transitions for our family and this blog couldn't be a priority. We're settling into a new community and I've returned to work part-time. Time has felt tight over the last several months, but I have been sewing when I can and continue to enjoy a dedicated sewing space in our new home. Sewing and blogging come from the same pool of "free" time. When made to choose between sewing and writing about sewing, I will always choose sewing.

I appreciate having this blog as a record of what I've made, just to help me remember some of the actual articles I've made and also as keeper of notes, links, and details that are helpful for current and future projects. I also just miss the writing. My day-to-day life doesn't require a lot of writing, but it's a skill I value and think it needs to be treated like a muscle: use it or lose it.

So, this is me recommitting to this blog (feels like I've been here before, but whatever. Let's just go with it. Ebb and flow, man…)