Tuesday, August 26, 2014

New Look 6144 A Ponte Knit Dress for Fall

I wanted to make a new dress this past weekend.  I had this new ponte knit ready to go and I had McCall's 6988 adjusted and ready to cut out.  I could have just screamed when I started laying out the pieces and realized that they were never going to fit on my mere 2 yards of fabric.


So I rooted through the pattern stash and pulled out about half a dozen patterns that might be able to be squeezed out of 2 yards.  I finally settled on New Look 6144.  It looked like it would work in a stable knit, it had only 6 pattern pieces including facings, and it was the approximate style that I wanted.


I settled on view C with the double pleat at the neckline and the longer sleeves.


It was a surreal experience.  I wanted to make a dress, but this wasn't really the dress I wanted to make. I don't know why I had it in my head that I must use this fabric.  It's not like I don't have plenty of other projects I could work on.  But once I got started, I just couldn't stop.  And during the process I was never really sure I was even going to like the finished object.


So.  On to the details.  This is a really nice, heavy ponte knit that I picked up at Hancock's a couple of weekends ago.  It was regularly $19.95/yard, but I found it marked down 50% on the clearance table.  I suppose the color makes it a "summer" fabric and it was put on clearance to make way for fall fabrics.  I really like it.  It's coral, but reads more orange in some light.  And the heavy weight is going to make it perfect for fall and winter, not to mention my meat locker of an office.  The texture is really smooth and I hope it doesn't pill.  I have had good luck with some of the ponte knits I've purchased at Hancock's so I have hope.


The pattern is one of those cute little understated sheath dresses that New Look seems to issue like clockwork.  I finally chose it because it only has 6 pattern pieces and it didn't look like it would need a lot of length added to it.  (I think the McCall's pattern didn't fit on my fabric because I added so much length- at the waist and to the skirt.)  I really like the raglan sleeves, which are easy to fit and (I think) look good on me.  The neckline pleat is also a great detail.


I cut a 14 through the neckline, a 16 through the bust, sleeves, and waist, and an 18 at the hip.  I added 1.5" of length to the waist, and 3/8" of length to the bust- a "cheater's FBA" which I made by slashing and spreading the pattern straight across the bust and then easing the extra into the side seam.  It worked great...  I just don't think I really needed it now that I see the photos.


What did I particularly like about this pattern?

The front is one big piece with a left and a right- no cutting on the fold.

The raglan sleeves are two pieces, front and back.

I did not have to lengthen the skirt- this pattern is knee length.

The neckline is wide enough to not require a zipper (in a knit) but not so wide as to show bra straps.


What do I not like particularly?

The sleeves are an awkward length.  It's my fault completely.  I know I have little T-rex arms and I should have checked.  They hit me right at the crook of my elbow and bunch and wrinkle from me bending my arms.  I should have gone 3/4 length and narrowed them a bit.

The center front neckline is a little wonky- once again, completely my fault.  I should have considered that this beefy knit would be hard to pleat and then sew a facing to and have everything lie smooth when turned under.  I did the best I could with careful trimming and a lot of steam, but it will never be perfect.

The front is a bit loose.  I didn't really need the FBA and that could be part of the problem, but I think I am going to take the front darts in a bit at the top.  Just a smidge, mind you.

I am going to have to give in and wear some shape wear with this.  The fabric is heavy, but in this color, you can see all the bumps and bulges.

Now that I'm seeing the photos, I'm liking this.  It's not my favorite dress, but I will get some use out of it.  I need some different shoes, though.  I'm wearing it with nude sandals in the photos and although I like the look, these shoes are not comfortable or practical for work or for cool weather.  Black just seemed too "Halloweeny."  Maybe some nude pumps or perhaps gray?

When I bought this fabric, I also bought two yards of the same knit in a marine blue.  So now I have to choose another pattern that will use only two yards.  At least I already have a selection to choose from.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

McCall's 3037 Pattern Story

I was surfing the web this morning and came across this awesome blast from the past, McCall's 3037:


I made this pattern back when I was in high school.  I think I was about 15, so it would have been the summer of 1984.  And I thought I was super fabulous in this!

Looking back, the amazing thing is that I knew absolutely nothing about fitting.  I just picked a size and made the shorts... and they fit just fine.  That would never happen today.  In addition, I decided for some reason that I didn't want shorts, so I lengthened the pattern to capri length (my first attempt at pattern alteration.)

I made the pants, which closed with velcro on either side of the front waist, and the camp shirt with buttons.  My fabric was similar to the pink fabric in the drawing or in the photo below- but it had a white background with "comics" on it in very 80's shades of pink, blue, and lavender.  My lining was pink broadcloth which showed at the hems, pockets and waistband, and the cuffs of the sleeves.  I seem to recall wearing my shirt tucked in because even back then I was conscious of trying to accentuate my waist.  And I accessorized this wild look with a pair of big earrings and some gladiator sandals.  I wish I had a picture.

It looks like McCall's also did a special release of this pattern, P970, which featured live models on the cover instead of drawings.


I love the girl in pink, but that poor boy in the blue shorts on the right just looks... ridiculous.  Why is his shirt hiked up?  And is it just me or does the contrast waist of his short make him look like he's standing there in his underwear?  And that headband is not helping anything.  Gosh, I love the 80's!

Did anyone else out there make this gem?  Or something similar?  Please share your story!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Burda Style 03-2014-115 I Made Jeans!

I just completed my first pair of jeans!  These are the Five-Pocket Trousers from the March 2014 issue of Burda Style, made for the Princess.


Buying jeans for my girl has become an ordeal.  She likes the skinny fit, but too often RTW jeans are way too tight.  There's a difference between "skinny" and "obscene."  I decided to try my hand at making jeans to get the slim silhouette she prefers and the modest fit I like.  We decided to start with this pattern.


The model photo doesn't look too bad, and the tech drawing revealed a simple, traditional 5 pocket design.  This was also the Sewing lesson for beginners in the March issue, so I thought having the illustrated instructions for the zipper fly would be handy.


When I traced the pattern, the legs seemed very skinny.  I decided to go up a size, to a 36, for insurance and for growing room.  I made a muslin, and after feedback from the Princess, the only fit adjustment I made to the pattern was to add an additional 1/2" of width to the legs from the lower hip to the ankle.


I'm pretty pleased with the way they turned out.  (Please ignore the bunching at the ankles.  The pants are long and the booties she insisted on wearing didn't allow them to fall smoothly around the ankles.  With regular flats she gets a nice, slightly bunched look and I get the peace of mind knowing these won't be too short any time soon.)


I followed the pattern to the letter adding the coin pocket, belt loops, back pockets, etc.  I also double top stitched everything in turquoise thread.  Too bad you can't really see the details in this busy fabric.


Speaking of fabric, this is a stretch twill print we found on clearance at Joann Fabrics.  I love the print, which is a gorgeous blend of purple, aqua and orange, but I didn't notice until I got it home that it seems to be flawed.  There are bands across the width that look like they might not have printed correctly.  Perhaps that was why it ended up on the clearance table?  It really doesn't matter.  I still like it and the Princess does, too, and that's what matters.


All in all this was a success.  We got a pretty good pair of jeans on the first try.  The pattern went together perfectly and the instructions were pretty good.  I didn't have any problems at all, not even with the zipper fly.  A word of caution, though- these are very skinny.  I recommend a muslin and a stretch fabric is a must.

When I make these again, and I will because this is a great basic jeans pattern, I will add a little extra to my seam allowance at the zipper opening to make sure I have plenty of allowance on the left (underlap) side when I install the zip.  I will also make the waistband smaller.  I think I may have stretched it some when I attached it and it ended up loose.  Nothing a belt (and maybe a trip through the washer) can't take care of.

We have a couple of other jeans patterns picked out and fabric selected as well, but we will be returning to this pattern.  Stay tuned also for a grown up project- ponte knit dresses!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

New Pattern Shopping

When I got the email about McCalls new early fall collection patterns, I checked them out and found a couple that I had to have.  Hancock's is having a sale on McCalls and Simplicity this weekend, so I made a trip over there last night to pick up the ones that were calling my name.  Here's what I got.


M6991  This one was at the very top of my list.  I really like this drapey, slouchy blouse.  This would be perfect for casual Friday's at work or a weekend out.  I even think I have a few suitable fabrics in stash.  This view is my favorite, but the pattern also includes a sleeveless view and two "wrap" views, so I feel like this one is going to get a lot of use.


M6996  I can't wait to make this, a simple knit cardigan.  There is a long view and a short view, and a belt included.  This is going to be perfect for my office, which is always cold.  I can see myself making this in several colors so I have something to go with every outfit.


M6988  This one was not on my "must have" list, but since the patterns were on sale...  I also picked up  a couple of yards of ponte knit in bright marine blue and in coral and I thought this would be a simple, work appropriate dress that I could make up quickly in one of those fabrics.  I'd also like to explore the color blocking options later on...


M6959  another one that was not "on the list" but I have admired this one for a while and I thought I would get it and save it until next spring.  I love the way it's shown in the print with contrast binding.  There is also a sleeveless, collared version with a straight skirt that has possibilities.


M6531  I'm not sure why, but I really like this jacket pattern.  It has several interesting views, so it seems versatile.  I've never made this type of jacket before, but I'd love to wear it, so maybe I'll give this one a go.


M6925  This one is for the Princess.  She didn't seem real interested in picking out patterns yesterday but I got this one anyway.  It's very similar to a RTW dress she tried on recently.  It was very cute on her, but I didn't buy it because the quality was terrible and the fit was off.  I can see her wearing this view to school and it would not be difficult to lengthen this to a dress either.  I also have stash fabric for this one!

Enough about new pattern.  I'm off to sew jeans!  I cut out some skinny jeans for the Princess last weekend and I plan to get them constructed this weekend.  More about those including pattern number and fabric info coming up...

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Simplicity 2215 In Which the Princess Sews

This summer, for her 4H project, the Princess decided to learn to sew and participate in Fashion Review.  I, of course, was excited because it was a great excuse to go fabric and pattern shopping with my favorite girl and plan something cute and wonderful.  And of course, I'm thrilled that she wants to sew.  Oh, and did I mention:  Competition?


We had a couple of patterns picked out from stash, but when we got to the store, Simplicity patterns were on sale, and my girl takes after me- she couldn't resist picking something new.  She chose this Cynthia Rowley designer pattern:


Now at first glance it looks like a simple shirt dress.  Easy enough for a beginner.  But a second glance confirmed that there were a lot of details in this pattern:  Six darts, pleats, buttons and button holes, side seam zipper, and edge to edge lining.  Whew!  That is a lot for a beginner's first project.  Some changes would have to be made.

I made the muslin and did all the fitting adjustments for the Princess.  We started with a size 6 and I did a SBA which removed the bust darts.  I then decided that rather than grade up at the waist, we would just eliminate the vertical darts in front and back.  That gave her a simple sleeveless bodice to work with.  Since she was going to learn how to do an edge to edge lining, I figured that was challenge enough for her.

Since I had changed the waistline with my SBA and dart elimination, I decided that we would do simple gathers on the skirt rather than trying to adjust the pleats.  Gathering is a good skill for a beginner to learn, right?

We left out the pockets.  I was fully intending to teach her how to add them, but she didn't want them, so who am I to argue.

I went back and forth over adding the zipper or not.  I bought one and had it on hand, but the buttons and button holes are fully functioning.  I sort of decided for us when she got her skirt pieces sewn together and I forgot about the zipper and had her serge the side seams- Uh Oh!  Too late for a zipper.  Luckily she has just enough wiggle room to squeeze this on and off over her head with the buttons undone!

And speaking of buttons, look what a great job she did.  I even taught her to add a shank.  I waffled on that and was just going to have her sew them flat to the fabric, but then I decided I might as well teach her correctly from the beginning so I got a match stick and showed her how to hold it in between the button and the fabric.  I am so glad I did because apparently she got some extra points and a nice comment from the judges about it!


The Princess picked out this adorable cotton print from Hobby Lobby.  She wanted to have some contrast and something to add interest, so I helped her choose the black and white hexagon fabric.  We both love the way they go together.  I wish I had a shot of the lining- She did a wonderful job of lining the bodice edge to edge with the hexagons.


We used the muslin to decide on the finished length and the width of the hem band before we cut the fashion fabric.  The Princess was adamant that the dress be above the knee.  She's wearing it here with leggings, but she modeled it bare legged with black ballet flats in the Fashion Review.  It looks cute both ways.  We also found some purple leggings that match the birds in the print.  I think for school I prefer it with the leggings.


I am so proud of her.  She really did great for her first project.  She did not place in Fashion Review, but that's okay.  We are all ready to compete again next year!  And the Princess has decided to enter her dress in our local county fair this fall.


We already have a purse pattern picked out for her next project and yesterday we bought some cute cotton prints and a couple of skirt patterns.  She will be helping me to sew up some items for her Back to School wardrobe!  I am so excited to have a little partner in the sewing room!  Hopefully she will enjoy sewing and decide to continue.  I'll be doing all I can to encourage it!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Burda Style 02-2011-119 More Pics and Details

I really didn't feel like the last post covered this dress well enough, especially since I didn't get enough photos.  So the Princess and I went outside today to get some more shots.


The light was great but it was quite windy.

You may notice a slight difference from the last set of photos...  I added pockets to the front of the dress. I meant to all along, I guess I just got so excited thinking it was finished that I forgot.


These are the patch pockets that were included in the pattern.  I cut mine on the bias to break up the pattern a little.  I also had to stitch them on a bit higher than the pattern placement to compensate for my little T-rex arms.


I cut a second set of pockets out of pink broadcloth on the straight grain.  I stitched those to my seersucker pockets, right sides together, then turned and pressed.  This keeps all the raw edges safely hidden away and the lining helps keep the bias pocket from stretching out.


Pocket placement was quite easy using the lines in the seersucker fabric.

And speaking of fabric and placement, here's a closeup of my bias hem band, which is sewn with side front and side back section seams.  I didn't make much of an effort to line up the stripes, partly due to laziness and partly due to a limited amount of fabric.  I did, at least, get my stripes going in a pleasing direction.  Trust me, no one but a fellow sewing enthusiast will ever notice.


Here is a closeup of the corner where the front, side and under sleeve come together at a point.  You can also see the bust dart on the lower left.  This was the only tricky part of the whole project- getting the corner just so and then finishing the seams.  I serged... very carefully.


The epaulette looks a little crooked in this shot, it's actually straight.  My buttons are faux mother of pearl.  I ended up going back and stitching the epaulettes down invisibly along the length.  Now they lie nice and flat even when I raise my arms or move around.  Before, they wanted to lift up and shift around.


I quite like this dress.  The only thing I would change if I made it again would be to narrow the neckline a bit.  It's very wide and I have to keep pushing my bra straps out to the sides to hide them.


It was very windy today, but it was also hot and a bit muggy- rain is on the way.  The dress, however,  was quite comfortable.  The seersucker breathes and the dress fits loose and easy.


I doubt I'll make this again, it's unique enough that one in the closet is probably enough.  I do recommend it, though.  If you like a loose, comfortable summer dress with some unique details, this is a good pattern to try.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Burda Style 02-2011-119

I just finished up this breezy seersucker dress using Burda Style 02-2011-119.


I was drawn to this pattern as soon as I saw it.  But back in 2011 I was leery of a pattern with straight lines and hardly any waist shaping.  I think I liked the way the bias cut hem panels looked with the straight cut dress.

Burda said:  "Our shift dress with bateau neck-line, epaulettes and bias cut hem band is timeless yet so very modern and just perfect for cocktails or a dinner date."


 Burda rated this as a 2 dot pattern, and really it is just a modified princess seamed shift.  But see those corners where the front, side, and under sleeve come together?  Yes, it's the same on the back, too.  That is not for the faint of heart.  That's some precision sewing right there.  I would have made this at least a 2.5 dot.


Other than those corners, the pattern is pretty easy.


Burda used natte, which according to the dictionary is a basket weave fabric with contrasting colors in the warp and weft.  I didn't have any natte, so I used this pink, orange, red, and white seersucker which has been marinating in my stash for years.



I cut a 44 through the bodice and a 46 through the hips.  I added my customary 1 5/8" of length at the waist.  A muslin showed the fit was pretty good, but I had to move the darts up 3/8" and I added an additional 5/8" of length to the skirt to make sure the hem hit me at knee level.  It looks a tiny bit longer than it really is because my photographer has grown and is now taking pictures from a higher angle.


I wanted to get some detail shots of the epaulettes, the inset corners, and the bias hem band, but wouldn't you know, my camera gave out after only three shots.  Maybe tomorrow after road-testing.

I'm pretty pleased with this dress.  It's comfortable and I like the look.  I'll get plenty of wear out of it for work and for being out and about.  I don't know about cocktails and dinner dates, though!  

Up next is maybe another straight and easy dress and some more shorts for the Princess.  Oh, and she wants some jeans.  So I might break down and finally sew some.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Burda Style 03-2013-126 Shorts

We are on a roll making shorts for the Princess.  This pair turned out especially cute.


This is #126 from the March 2013 issue:  Shorts with contour waistband and hip yoke pockets.


The fabric is this paint splash denim from Hancock.


We saw this back in December and the Princess loved it, but I didn't buy any because at $19.99 a yard, it was a little too expensive to buy with no plan in mind.  Then I saw it again a couple of weeks ago and it was marked down 50%.  I bought a yard thinking we could make a vest or shorts or something for the Princess.  This pattern just fit the fabric!


These shorts are adorable.  They are simple to construct (2 dot pattern) but you get a lot of impact with the front and back section seams and the pockets which wrap to the back.  I also added double top stitching to all the seams in lime green thread.  It's hard to see in the photos, but looks nice in person.


The denim was weighty, so I used lime green micro check for the waist facings.  The zipper doesn't quite match- it was from stash.


I cut a 34 for the Princess and the only adjustment I made was adding an extra half inch to the waist at both sides.  I think the finished shorts are the perfect length for her.  I like them so much in fact, that I'm considering making a pair for myself.  Or maybe the longer version:



I love all the pockets and section seams!  I'll have to grade up 2 sizes, though, so we'll see.

My vacation is over and it's back to work tomorrow.  I have another pair of shorts cut out for the Princess and a dress all muslined and ready to cut for myself.  I hope I can keep the sewing momentum going once I get back into my work routine.  So many projects, so many plans!