Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Chartreuse Linen Midi Skirt

I'm on the fence about this skirt.   I think my main issue is that I don't know what to wear with it.  This top is the only thing in my closet that looked ok with it.  Wearing a shirt with a collar seems to counter the primness of the silhouette.  I tried on several tops with short sleeves but instantly felt frumpy.  Not sure why. Any suggestions on what to wear with a full, midi length skirt like this?  I'm thinking I should make a sleeveless collared blouse out of linen to go with it.  Maybe white, maybe a purple??  I'm hoping I didn't just make a closet orphan.  I'm also contemplating shortening the hem to knee length thinking I'd be more likely to wear it then.  I do like that this length is something different in my closet.  Anyhoo, on to the pattern details.

Pattern Description: I made Butterick 5929 again.  You can see my first version (view A) here.  This time I made view D, the midi length gored skirt.  It is definitely a departure from the type of thing I normally wear.  But I've been trying to branch out a little lately.  And I'm on a mission to make some warm weather work appropriate things before school starts in August.

Pattern Sizing: I made a 16 but took in the waist a 1/2 inch on each side.  So could I have made a 14? I don't know.  I'd rather go bigger and take in than make something too small.  Not much else to fit other than the waist.

Fabric Used: The main attraction of this skirt is the linen.  It's a beautiful, smooth and crisp linen from  I've been buying quite a bit of linen from there and I've always been pleased.  This particular linen is listed as a 'luxury' linen due to the fact that it is has a higher thread count.  And it does indeed.  The weave is tighter than any linen I've sewn with before, which really does make it feel more luxurious.  But it still has that wonderful airy rumple that I love so much.  Oh linen, how I love you!  Let me count the ways.  In case you haven't noticed my love affair with linen.

Likes/Dislikes:  I wanted to branch out and try a midi length skirt.  A true midi length, hitting just below my calves.  I'm not sure how I feel about now.  Hence why I am on the fence about this one.  I actually like it in these photos but I did feel a little frumpy when I was wearing it.  It is wonderfully cool to wear.  And I do majorly love the color.  My only other nit-picky complaint is that I can see the edge of the facing through the linen.  I serged the edge and there is a visible ridge there.  I kind of wish I did the waistband instead of the facing for this particular skirt.

Alterations/Deviations:  None, other than nipping the waist in.  This is a good pattern with lots of options for a fuller skirt.  Could of used in seam pockets, though.  

Conclusion:  I'm going to try wearing it a few times before I decide to shorten it or not.  I don't want this pretty linen to sit unworn in the closet.  

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

One For Me and Three for Jane

If Jane and I ever start a band, we can use one of these photos as our album cover.  

I've not been very good about sewing things for Jane lately.  But really, that's ok.  Toddlers are crazy hard on their clothes.  I don't ever put her in to anything remotely nice when she goes to daycare.  You should see the way she comes home.  Apparently she plays hard.  I always have good intentions about sewing little toddler things.  It really is fun and quick to sew toddler sized clothing.  Every time I make something for myself, I look at whatever fabric is left and think that I should make something for Jane.  Rarely do I follow through.  But this time I did.

I made up my top first.  It's an easy going, swing-y tank.  This version is my wearable muslin.  I have a pretty rayon that I want to make this top in, but I didn't want to cut in to it without testing out the pattern first. Here are the pattern deets.  

Pattern Description: Simplicity 1107. Swing-y high low top,with or without sleeves, that can be made in a variety fabrics.  Pattern claims knits or wovens.  I used a woven.

Pattern Sizing:  I made a S, which is crazy.  I can't remember the last time I wore anything in a size small.  When I looked at the finished measurements there was some obscene amount of ease at the bust.  I do realize that this is supposed to be a top without a lot of ease.  But I sized down anyway as an experiment.  I always have issues with the neckline gaping on things I make.  I was curious if sizing down would take care of some of the gaping issues.  I figured I could get away with it here because there is so much ease included.  See my verdict on sizing down below.  

Fabric Used:  I used a strawberry colored linen blend I found at Joann's as a 'wearable muslin' before I cut in to my nicer fabric.  The fabric has a woven check throughout, but I don't think you can see it in these photos.  It has a nice texture.  I absolutely love this color.  It's the perfect coral/poppy red.

Likes/Dislikes:  I love the v-neck.  I also love a swing-y top, as I am sure you can tell.  I did have some issues with sizing, specifically at the armholes.  But I believe that is because I made a size too small.

Alterations/Deviations:  Making a smaller size worked, but I do think I need the bigger size at the armhole.  I like the height of the armscye but there is some pulling from the sides just under the arm.  If I make this again, I'll keep the height but extend the armscye to a medium at the side seams. I still had some neckline gape even after sizing down to a small.  This is always an issue for me.  I solved it after the fact by taking a 3/4" dart out of the front center seam before I sewed the bias facing.  I suspect I need a hollow chest adjustment- but at the same time a broad back adjustment?!?  Is that even possible?!  I can always count on having fit issues through the upper chest/neckline/shoulder area, so maybe so.  One day I'll figure it all out ;)

Conclusion:  I might make this again in a fabric with more drape like my original plan.  I do like this version a lot, although it's not exactly what I envisioned.  It's perfect for the insane heat wave we are having right now.

Jane's top is also a new Simplicity pattern.  I loved the linen I used for my top so much I wanted to use up the scraps right away.  This is a very cute toddler pattern.  The square neckline, the gathered hem and the bubble shorts are just too adorable.  The pattern claims it is an easy sew but I disagree.  There was just enough fussiness in this pattern to make it a more difficult sew.  Not super hard, but it required some concentration.  I made Jane's red linen top first.  When it turned out well, I went ahead and made the bubble shorts followed by another top in white Swiss dot.  So Jane ended up with three garments from this pattern.

Pattern Description: Simplicity 1118. Toddler's tank top with ruffled hem, cropped pants or shorts with bubble hem (gathered in to a band).  All cute options.

Pattern Sizing.  I took Jane's measurements for this.  And her measurements crack me up.  She is 20" at bust, waist and hip.  Ha!  So I cut a size two for all pieces.

Fabric Used: Linen blend for first top.  Swiss dot lined with white linen for second top.  And a woven striped linen for the bubble shorts.

Likes/Dislikes:  I love the square neckline.  I also love how the top opens/closes with a simple button and loop at the back.  That's such an easy closure for a toddler pattern.  And practical.  The pattern calls for a facing, which I did for the first red linen version.  For the white version, I opted to line the entire bodice instead.  It worked just fine.  If you thought ahead, you could line and finish the armholes in one fell swoop using the burrito method.  I didn't think that far through and finished the armholes with bias anyway.  It worked ok.  I do have some pulling at the armhole because there are so many layers of fabric there. The bubble shorts are adorable.  I changed the direction of the stripe on the waistband, pockets and hem bands.  They have the cutest shape.  I did struggle with gathering the hem of the shorts in to the band evenly.  It's such a small circumference that you really have to focus on what you are doing.  I ended up with most of my gathering at the back for some reason. It's ok.  It's passable.  They are absolutely adorable on Jane.

Alterations/Deviations:  I made the first red top up exactly as the pattern intended.  The neckline is a little too big.  On the white Swiss dot version, I raised the neckline by a half inch, front and back.  I also added an inch in length to both ruffles so she can wear it for a little while longer.  Seems she's growing up versus growing out these days.  The shorts were made with no alterations.  I know I've said it before, but they are really cute!  

 This.  This would be our album cover.

Conclusion:  Great little pattern.  I'd love the make the shorts again as Jane needs a few more pairs of shorts.  We'll see how the summer goes.    

Monday, June 15, 2015

McCall's 7095 X 3

Alright then!  I am finally on summer break.  Hallelujah.  I've been off almost a week now and all I've managed to do so far is... well, nothing.  And it has been glorious.  I love teaching, I really do.  But I can't tell you how happy I am to see the back end of this school year.  It has been a rough one.  Rewarding, yes, but tough.  I am definitely ready to recharge.  My only plans for the summer are to sew and play with my two year old.  We joined our neighborhood pool, so we've already spent quite a few hours splashing around over there.  Anyhoo...

Here is a trio of tops I made at the end of this school year.  All three are winners in my book.  This should be a really extensive review of this pattern because I made it three times in different views and fabrics.  Also, I think I'm going to format my posts in a 'pattern review' sort of format from now on so I make sure I list all crucial info.  We'll see how it works.  I always appreciate when I google search a pattern and come across a blog post formatted this way.  Makes it easy to see info at a glance.  So here goes!

Pattern Description:  McCall's 7095.  Loose fitting, pullover top with yoke and lots of different options.  It's a groovy, bohemian smock.  Which is exactly what I was looking for.  It's a great art teacher top.  No, it's not a traditionally 'flattering' silhouette.  It is a great big, flowy top and I love it.  Plenty of ease.

Pattern Sizing:  I cut a M.  I made some small alterations to the yoke, but really there is not a whole lot to worry about when it comes to sizing.  I thought it was true to size.

Fabric Used:  I made view A in a mid-weight linen, view D in rayon challis and view C in gauze.  All three yokes were done in linen.  I used the self lined yoke for all three.

Likes/Dislikes:  I love the self lined yoke.  Such a clean way to finish the yoke.  I did not try out the collared version, so I can't comment on that.  I thought the ratio of gathering in to the yoke was perfect.  I did not love the gathered sleeve heads on view C.  I think if I made it again I would remove the extra sleeve cap ease and get rid of that gathering. But it does work with the pattern.

Alterations/Deviations:  I made view A first.  I used a heavier linen than is recommended for the pattern.  So I opted to crop it shorter.  I actually cut the hem at the shortest line, the line for view C where the hem ruffle is attached. Then I attached the hem band differently, cutting a facing as well and attaching it cleanly to the bottom with side splits.  The hem band per pattern instructions is actually attached over the bottom part of the top.  Phew, that was confusing to write.  Hope that made sense.  I kind of made it up as I went along.  I actually really love this first version, even though it sits far away from the body.  It has such a breezy swing.  Fun to wear.  I did make changes to the yoke after sewing up this version.  I actually removed my original yoke and attached a new one after making some changes.  I took a 1/2" wedge out of the back neckline as it was too wide and gaped.  This made the bottom of the back yoke curve slightly but I left it alone as I figured the curve wouldn't interfere too much with the design.  I did straighten the shoulder seams after taking out the wedge.  I have no idea if this is a proper way to fix a gaping back neckline.  Probably not.  But it worked.  I am pretty happy with the fit of the yoke after this fix.   The neckline sits nice and flat against the back of my neck.

I made view D next in a rayon challis.  This was my least favorite of the three. Although now that I've looked at photos, I like it more.  My biggest complaint is that there is a whole lot of volume to gather in to that elastic waist.  I have to shuffle it around when I put it on.  I prefer to have most of the gathering pushed towards the back.  I may arrange it just right and then sew the elastic in a few places to keep the gathers in the right spot.  I also don't like how the elastic waist casing is sewn after the side seams are sewn up.  It is a messy way to do it.  If I made this view again (and I might!) I would create a seam in the body of the top where I wanted the waist casing to go.  That would allow more precision when it comes to sewing the casing.  You could even do it within the seam allowances if you wanted.  I do love the long length.  It could be a mini dress.  I'm 5'9" for reference.

The elastic casing runs through the yellow stripe, which you can see a little better in the closer photo below.  I placed it where I thought it should sit on my waistline.  I didn't pay attention to the placement in the pattern, just fyi.

I made view C last and it is my favorite.   I used a cotton gauze.  I made the sleeves just as the pattern intended, but left off the elastic in the sleeve hem. This definitely feels like a groovy, art teacher top.  Right up my alley.  And like I mentioned before, I am not a huge fan of the gathered sleeve heads.  They work in this soft gauze, but any more stiffness and they would look really juvenile, I think.  I have the yoke split ironed open in these photos.

Conclusion:  Great, easy pattern if you are looking for funky, bohemian top like this.  Lots of options included.  I am hanging on to this one.  I can see myself coming back to it in the future.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Three Skirts

Work is totally getting in the way of my sewing time here lately.  Ha!  Good thing I enjoy my job.  We are at the end-of-year crunch where everything needs to be done right now and fast.  Every time I check something off my list, three more things are added.  But we are so close to summer I can taste it.  So my sewing has been put on hold for a few more weeks.

I did do a boatload of sewing over spring break, though.  I was on a roll.  I told someone that I was truckin' right along and couldn't stop to blog about it.  Now that all sewing has stopped, I figured this was a good time to share some things I made.  I  snapped a few photos of three knit skirts I made that I wear all the time.  Seriously, all the time.  I think my coworkers are probably wondering if I own anything else at this point. 

I made two more quarter-circle maxi skirts and one Simplicity skirt.  The quarter-circle skirts are the ones I have the most love for.  I made one last year that I still wear regularly.  I know it's not the most interesting blog post but I feel like they deserve mention since they are such workhorses.  If you haven't made yourself a quarter-circle and half-circle skirt pattern, I suggest you do that and add it to your pattern arsenal.  I use mine all the time.  Even for switching out skirts on other patterns.  There are umpteen billion circle skirt how-to's out there, but I found this blog post from By Hand London very helpful.  The length of my maxi skirts are 44 inches (I'm 5'9") in case you are wondering.  But I do like to have the waistband jacked up high.  It sits right over my belly button.  I made a straight rectangular casing for two inch elastic for the waistband.  I love the thick, two inch elastic for it's belly holding properties.

The black tie dye fabric is a bamboo knit from  The awesome, colorful confetti goodness is a rayon knit I spotted at Hancock.  I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw it.  I snapped up three yards and went home and immediately made this skirt.  Another great thing about these skirts is that it only takes an hour or so to sew one up.  Instant gratification.  The bamboo knit is pretty heavy, so I think I prefer the drape of the lighter weight rayon knit.  The bamboo knit makes some noise when I walk, actually.  But I do love both skirts.

I am not as in love with this black and white striped Simplicity 1163 faux wrap skirt, despite my superman pose.  But the issues lie in the execution, not the pattern.  I think the pattern is a decent one.  I made view E.   I didn't have quite enough fabric, a bamboo jersey again, so I shaved two inches off the back piece and blended to the front hem.  I did the blending part slightly unevenly, I think.  I also decided to use a stripe fabric thinking I could just match up the stripe at the side seams and then let them fall whichever way they wanted to on the front.  In theory, that was a good idea.  But I matched stripes right at the cut edges instead of at the seam line.  I realized my mistake when I went to sew up the side seams.  I thought I could shift the fabric just a bit to make it work, but you can see it didn't.  I am ever so slightly off at every stripe.  I almost think that's worse than just being blatantly off.  Anyway, I'm still wearing the skirt.  But I am definitely not as proud to say that I made it.  And after looking at these pictures I think I need to wear a heel with it.  The length is a little frumpy.  I'd love to try this skirt again in a solid red knit I have but lengthen the back of the skirt to ankle length.  As soon as I'm done with school!  I also just realized that I did the wrap backwards, not that it matters.  Whoops. 

Anyway, all useful pieces.  I also made a ton of tee shirts (seven!) during my spring break sewing binge that are in heavy rotation.  Hopefully I can get around to documenting those, too.  

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

A Purple Skirt

And now for something completely different.  This skirt really is a departure from what I normally wear.  But I'm branching out.  I usually feel like full, pleated skirts are best suited for those with tiny little nipped in waists.  My waistline changed dramatically post baby.  I mean, I know it does for most everyone.   But I ended up with quite a large difference in my waist measurement.  Not anywhere else, though.  Just the waist.  In fact my bust measurement went down a teeny, tiny bit-- womp, womp.  Hip measurement is the same.  The change in waistline very much changes my body shape.  And it's been interesting trying to figure out what works and what doesn't now.   I've been avoiding fitted waistlines just for that reason, in case you haven't noticed.  I do love a good billowy tunic or a swingy tee.  I always have and I always will.  But I think it's time to work my way back to some fitted waists.  Anyway, despite my own body issues, I really like this skirt.

 This is Butterick 5929, a full, pleated skirt with pockets.  I made view A, the one with no waistband.  I love the lack of waistband on this.  I am surprised I like it so much, but I do.  I measured myself carefully and chose a size 16 based on my hip measurement.  But I did end up taking in the waist about a half inch on either side.  If I made a 14, it probably would have been too snug.  So I guess I really needed a size 15- ha.  It's a nice little pattern.  The front is paneled.  I assume to help with cutting layouts.  There are four pleats on the front and four on the back.  The pattern instructions have you baste the pleats down while sewing the skirt and then remove the basting later.  I removed all the basting stitches when I finished and decided I preferred the back pleats stitched down.  So I stitched those down but left the front pleats free.

Despite the fact that this silhouette is not usually my style, linen skirts are totally my jam.  And yes, I will always wear it slightly rumpled, just like this.  Making this skirt in linen made it feel more like me. I used a pretty purple linen I had stashed.  It's a perfect grape color.  Purple!  I can't remember the last time I wore anything purple.  I desperately wanted to put a filter on these photos since I am so incredibly washed out and pasty right now.  But I didn't so you could see the actual color of the skirt :)-  This is what I wore on Easter.  I did a regular dress zip for the first time in ages.  I planned to do an invisible zip but couldn't find a match.  I serged all the seams inside the skirt.  I didn't want to purchase four cones of purple serger thread, though.  Not a color I use very often.  So I bought a spool of variegated purple thread and put it in the upper looper on my serger instead (I used my navy cones for the rest).  I love how it looks inside.  Although from this photo you can see that I should have put one in the lower looper as well.  Or serged all my pieces right side up.  Anyway, this is an ode to Heather's awesome rainbow serger thread.  I really need to order some rainbow thread for my serger. 

All in all, I am very happy with my pleated skirt.  I am thinking I want to make it again.  I have a fabric in mind but it is much stiffer than this linen.  It will be interesting to see how I feel about the shape then.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Can't Touch This

Y'all.  I made hammer pants.  And I love them.

And no, this is not an April Fool's prank.  Now I know that these will not be everyone's cup of tea.  But these pants are awesome.  Awesome, I tell you!  Don't hate.  Whether I look like a tragic fashion victim or not, I am digging the breeze.  

I made harem pants.  I think I probably snorted my drink the first time I read that harem pants were a thing.  What was that, last summer maybe?  I am, like always, late to the party.  I usually pick up on a trend when it's no longer cool.  And to be fair, I am not a fan of the drop crotch.  But there is something about harem pants that drew me in.  I think I like the laid back, bohemian vibe.  I came across this Sandra Betzina pattern (Vogue 1355) while browsing the Vogue catalog during the last pattern sale and immediately purchased it, along with a cheap poly knit to test it out.  I like that this particular pattern had the drapey genie leg but without the drop crotch.

This wacky version is my wearable muslin.   I made no attempt at pattern placement or matching since I was really just trying to figure out if I could pull it off.   The pattern placement is not too unfortunate, I think.  My muslin is a size D with no changes.  This pattern is dead easy.  Three pieces, three major seams.  There are two darts on either hip.  It was a super quick sew.  The waistband uses negative ease instead of elastic-- like yoga pants.

After my muslin, I made the black pair out of the softest bamboo knit ever.  I ordered several yards of this bamboo/rayon knit from and I don't think I'll ever be able to use cheap knits again.  This is seriously nice stuff.  It is soft and drapey but also opaque.  And being opaque is high on my list of priorities when making a bottom.  I actually looked for a suitable knit at Joann's before ordering this stuff but everything there was too see-through.  Anyway, I have already ordered more bamboo knits from  Hopefully they will hold up over time.

The only change I made to the black pair was to add 1.5 inches of length.  That's it.  Fun, easy pattern.  In case you are wondering, both pairs are really just intended to be lounge wear at home.  I am still toying with the idea of maybe wearing the black pair out and about, but I need to figure out something to wear on top.  They are a little bit ridiculous, I know.  J likes them.  He said they bring back good memories of his zubaz pants.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Downton Baby

Be warned that this is a picture heavy post.  I can't help myself.

For my birthday, my parents bought tickets to see Dressing Downton, an exhibit of costumes from the first four seasons of Downton Abbey on display at the Biltmore Estate.  We went the other day and it was fantastic.  If any of you out there are near Asheville, NC- go.  It was well worth the visit.  I've been to the Biltmore before but it was especially enjoyable this time with the costumes included in the setting.  Each room on the tour had a costume or two.  

“The day-to-day running of Biltmore House was surprisingly similar to that of Downton Abbey,” said Ellen Rickman, Director of Museum Services. “Just like Downton has Mr. Carson and Mrs. Hughes, Biltmore had its own cast of fascinating characters. Displaying these fabulous costumes from the show gives us an unparalleled opportunity to delve into Biltmore’s stories.”

I borrowed the quote and photos from the Biltmore site about the exhibit. The pictures on the web don't do the costumes justice.  You really need to see them in person.  Some pieces are actual clothing from the era and some were made specifically for the show.  One jacket was made from a vintage tablecloth.  The beading and overlays (and jewelry) were incredible.  What an opulent time.  Well, for the aristocracy anyway.  Even the menswear was extravagant, though not nearly as exciting as the gowns.

So anyway, let's get to this cuteness, shall we?

This whole outfit was sparked by the hat.  My aunt made this little cloche for Jane for Christmas.  My talented aunt who knits beautiful things for Jane.  She has recently ventured in to knitting and felting hats.  She had two of her hats featured in a museum show.  We all agreed at Christmas that the cloche was very "Downton Abbey."  So when it was set in stone that we were all going to see Dressing Downton, I decided that Jane needed a dress to go with her hat.  I did extensive research first.  Ha, just kidding.  I did a quick google search of what children wore during the early 20th century.  And then this pattern came to mind- the Apple-picking Dress from Oliver and S.  Which I just so happened to have in my pattern stash.

The pattern has a real vintage feel, doesn't it?  I thought the bow collar, drop waist and double button placket were perfect for the time period.  I also had this iridescent rust colored shot cotton in my stash, too.  Which just so happened to match the cloche.  This was definitely a serendipitous project.  I bought the fabric several years ago so I'm not one hundred percent sure it's all cotton.  I suspect that there may be some silk in it because of the way it felt when I washed it and the fact that it shifted every which way when I was sewing with it.  That's my excuse anyway.  It was not a well behaved woven.  I had trouble pressing seams flat and top stitching because the fabric shifted around so much.  Maybe it's just because the weave is looser.   Anyway, don't look to closely at my top stitching.  I found parts of the pattern to be somewhat difficult.  The top of that wide placket where the bow collar meets has to be trimmed very carefully.   I didn't do such a great job, but it's passable.

The proportions are a little different on my version because I made a size too big and shortened everything.  Jane is wearing a 2T now but for some reason I thought I'd go up a size for some growing room.  That was a dumb decision because it was huge.  I cut off the skirt and sleeve bindings and took up the hem of both.  That's why I only have four rows of buttons instead of five.  So the dress is wider than it would be had I used the right size.  If it's too short in the fall (when I think she'll wear it more), Jane can wear it like a tunic.

This photo above is my favorite.  I title it, "Bribery With Raisins."

No pictures inside the Biltmore so we only got to take some out in front.  And it was cold.  I made her suffer though a few photos without her jacket.  I also took some photos beforehand near the english ivy in my yard (see what I did there?).

Fun times.  It was a great exhibit and fun photo op for Jane.  She is changing so much!  She is looking more and more like a little girl everyday.  My almost two-year-old girl, if you can believe it.  I am so glad to have these photos for posterity.  

Any other Downton Abbey fans out there?