Pattern Review: StyleArc Sammi Pant

Pattern Description: From StyleArc’s website, “PANT:This is basic pant woven pant (sic) which sits just below the waist line, featuring a buttoned waistband which is contoured and a fly front. A slight boot leg makes this pant very flattering.

Sizing: 4-30. I made a size 10.

Available as a PDF? I don’t think so.

Fabric Used: Japanese Satin Finish RPL, sold out, sorry, from Gorgeous Fabrics for the bulk of the pants, Cotton with a very cool contemporary Aboriginal artist’s print that was a gift from Chloe at StyleArc a few years ago, silk habotai for the pockets.

Machines and Tools Used: Pfaff home machine and Juki home serger. Naomi the Naomoto.

Needle/Notions Used: Stretch 70/10 needle, interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply, lace seam binding, zipper, trouser hooks and eyes, thread.

Tips Used during Construction: Anything by The Pressinatrix, J? or L?, Template for Fly Topstitching.

Did it look like the photo or drawing when you got through? Yes, with a couple of minor exceptions.

How were the instructions? I didn’t really use them. StyleArc isn’t known for their instructions, so I just wung that mother, referencing my trusty Vogue Book of Sewing when I needed help. Did you know, BTW, that StyleArc has tutorials for how to sew things like a trouser fly, invisible zippers and other construction techniques? I just found that out myself when I looked at the instructions for the pants. At some point I’ll check them out.

Construction Notes:
I made a muslin to check the fit, which also helped me run through some construction points. I reversed the closure from a right-over-left fly front to a left-over-right, which is more to my liking.

I added a CB seam to the back waistband, along with belt carriers. I used a contrast, lightweight facing for the waistband,

Isn’t that a cool print?

and I added two back welt pockets to hold my cell phones, using the technique from David Page Coffin’s Etsy Craftsy (thanks for that catch Angela!) Class on Pant Details (an excellent class, BTW).

I opted against a button closure, instead using trouser hooks and eyes at the waistband, since I’ll be wearing these pants with a belt most of the time.

I sewed all seams with my Pfaff machine, and I finished all the seams with the serger. I used lace edging at the hems.

Likes/Dislikes: This pattern is really well drafted and sews up beautifully. I like the shape of them, and they will look great with heels. I haven’t been able to get any pictures of them on me. I’m going to wear them this weekend when I go to my uncle’s memorial service in New York, but I doubt I’ll get pictures on me then. I’ll try to get some when I can, but in the meantime here they are pinned on Shelley to give you a slight idea of how they look.


And a really bad picture of the back, sorry!

Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? Yes and yes! I really like this pattern. I want to make a couple of slight tweaks to it, but I would definitely do another pair or two. This was a good pattern to start my “pants journey” with, and I do recommend it wholeheartedly.

Conclusion: Classic pants, beautifully drafted. It’s a winner!

Posted in Fabrics, Patterns, Reviews, StyleArc | Leave a comment

We Have a Winner!!!

One lucky duck!

Thank you to all for your kind words and wishes on our 8th anniversary! I wish I could give each one of you a big hug. I put all the entries in a hat, shook them up and picked out one. No, really I added up the number of entries, pulled up a well-regarded random number generator on the web, and let it do the picking for me. Same thing but without wasting paper. And the winner is… (drumroll, please)

Denise L. from California!!!

Denise, I’ll be sending your gift certificate shortly. Thanks again to everyone for entering. Remember – there’s still two more days plus a few hours to take advantage of 28% to 50% savings on almost everything at Gorgeous Fabrics! I’ll be adding new fabrics tonight and tomorrow, and they will be included in the sale, too.

Click Here to Shop the Sale!

So have fun and happy sewing!

Posted in Contests, Fabrics, Giveaway | Leave a comment

Win a $100 Gorgeous Fabrics Gift Certificate for our Birthday!

The Fabric that Started It All

The Fabric that Started It All

I can’t believe that, eight years ago tomorrow, Gorgeous Fabrics started out with a dress made with an ITY jersey fabric. What a wonderful journey it has been. To celebrate, we’re doing a really fun contest. You can enter to win a $100 gift certificate at Gorgeous Fabrics!!!!

To enter the contest, just leave a comment here. One per person, please. Your comment can be anything from “Hi” to a full bore gush over how wonderful Gorgeous Fabrics is. That’s not important, but we prefer gushing :)

And there’s a bonus for Gorgeous Fabrics customers. If you place an order today or tomorrow (February 24 and February 25), you’ll get one additional entry into the drawing for every $10 you spend with us*.

And on top of that, our 28% off birthday sale is still going strong. Talk about a triple threat!!!

So leave a comment, go shopping if you wish (please!), have lots of fun, and thank you for your support and patronage these last 8 years.

*Da Rules and Fine Print
Contest is open to anyone. No purchase is required to enter the contest. Just leave a comment here on the blog to enter. One comment per person, please. For every $10 (excluding shipping) that you purchase from Gorgeous Fabrics on Feb. 24 and Feb. 25 your name will be entered into the contest once. Drawing will be held on February 26, 2015. The result will be posted on the blog and on our Facebook page. The winner will be notified by email.

Happy sewing, and good luck!

Posted in Contests, Fabrics | 347 Comments

Pants Journey: Prepping and Making a Fitting Muslin

At the end of last year, I decided that I wanted to expand my pants-making skills. Back when I worked in tech, I used to make pants periodically, but I haven’t done many in the last few years. Fortuitously enough, Craftsy sent an email with a 50% off code for David Page Coffin’s Pant Details class. With the stars aligning, I decided this is the time. For my first pair, I chose StyleArc’s Sammi Pant. A classic trouser with a fly front is a good place to start. Since I haven’t made a pair of pants in a while I decided to make a muslin, or toile, of the pants to check the fit. I thought it might be helpful to share how I go about it.

StyleArc patterns give you both the cutting line and the stitching line for every pattern piece, which is great for fitting muslins. When I took classes with Susan Khalje and Kenneth King, they always told us to ignore the cutting line and make all decisions and muslins using the stitching line. So I trace the stitching line onto muslin fabric using a strip of wax carbon paper and a tracing wheel. This way I can give myself as wide seam allowances as I want.

That carbon tracing paper will get all over everything!

A quick note here that I traced both the original StyleArc stitching line as well as the adjustment I make for my L-shaped back crotch curve. That way I can try both and see which one works better (in this case, the L worked great).

The nice thing about using a strip of tracing carbon is it’s easier to reposition than a big sheet.

Just keep tracing tracing tracing…

And the traced off leg piece. Sorry for the weird angle, it’s an itty bitty sewing room.

I do trace the cutting lines on certain pieces like the fly and the top of the waistband. Other than that, I cut widely around the pieces. Before I start sewing them, I trim the SAs to about 1 inch. More than 1.5 inches gets a bit unwieldy, at least in curved areas

Ready for sewing!

I sew my muslin with the longest basting stitch, and I press it a la The Pressinatrix. It may seem like more effort than necessary (it’s not). It gives me a crisp result that allows me to see any issues clearly, just as I would see them in a finished garment.

I like muslins for another reason – making one gives me a practice run at construction. As it turns out, these pants go together quite readily. The pattern as drafted doesn’t have pockets, so I’ll use the techniques in DPC’s Craftsy class to add in-seam pockets and welt back pockets for my cell phone. I’m one of the few women I know of who actually likes and uses pockets in her pants.

The fit on these is pretty good right out of the envelope. They are a wee bit snug, probably thanks in part to the lousy winter weather we’ve been suffering through. I haven’t had a Tuesday spin class for almost a month, thanks to the barrage of snowstorms. I’ll probably give myself just a skoosh of room at the side seams. Here are some pictures of the muslin pinned onto Shelley. I’ll make the final version and get pictures on me.

Whatta mess my sewing room is!

Back of the muslin

The one thing about this pattern that I may change is the back waistband. As drafted, it is a single piece. I think I’ll turn it into a 2-piece waistband with a CB seam so I can alter if I wish. Other than that, it’s ready for my garment fabric, a (sold out, sorry) RPL from Gorgeous Fabrics.

Speaking of Gorgeous Fabrics – Our 8th Anniversay Sale is Going Strong!
If you aren’t on our mailing list, and you should be – we never, ever share your information, you may not have heard that this month marks the eight year anniversary of Gorgeous Fabrics!!! To celebrate, we have put just about everything (except muslin, notions, swatches and gift certificates) on sale for 28% to 50% off our original great prices! So come on over and get in on the fun!

Let’s Go Shopping!

Thank you all so much for your support and patronage. Have fun with the sale, and

Happy sewing!

Posted in Pants 2015, StyleArc | 4 Comments

Winter Cleanup on the Blog

I’ve been meaning to do some maintenance work on the blog, and I have a few slow days before things get hopping (if you know what I mean) in the next week. So I’ll be making a couple of changes here and there. First up, I finally figured out how to get the RSS feeds working on my blog roll. Hopefully that will make the blogroll more useful and interesting. I know I like to see what folks have been posting and when.

Also, though it pained me to do so, I’ve removed any blogs that haven’t updated since the end of 2013. I figure if it’s more than a year, the blogger has stopped posting, and I’d rather use the space for blogs that are active. I’ve kept those blogs in my own reader, so if they start posting again I’ll add them back.

If you have a blog that you would like to have in my blogroll, just leave a comment on this post and I’ll be happy to add it. If you are a sewing professional or vendor, I’ll put you in the Sewing Sites category so you get a little differentiation. No cost, no reciprocal links required, though if you would like to link to my blog (or Gorgeous Fabrics) I definitely appreciate it.

I’m going to figure out how to add email subscription capability, too. I’ve been asked for that before, and there is a widget. I just have to get off my duff and figure out how to install it so it works correctly.

In sewing news, my next project will be a pair of pants. I want 2015 to be my year of making pants, and I signed up for David Page Coffin’s Craftsy class. I watched the intro and the first lesson last night. So far so good. I’ll do a full review when I finish the class. Until then,

Happy sewing!

Posted in Blogroll | 9 Comments

Cool Tool: Fashionista Tweezers

My friend Karla (I swear she is the funniest person on earth) sent me a present last year that I have been meaning to write about for a while: Fashionista Forceps! These long tweezers are very much like the ones you get with many sewing machines or sergers, but they are much more fun. Every time I use mine it brings a smile to my face.
Tweezers 1

Tweezers 2

These are great for fishing things out of tight places. I use mine for threading machine needles, both on my sergers and my regular machines. They are available on eBay from several sources, and many sewing stores carry them. I saw them recently in a local beauty supply store as well. They retail for between $5 and $7, so they are a minor splurge.

Useful, fun and stylish. What more could you want?
Happy sewing!

Posted in Tools | 3 Comments

Pattern Review: Paco Peralta’s Long Sleeve Drape Front Top

When I heard that Paco Peralta had one: started designing patterns again, and two: released a version of his Drape Front Top with long sleeves, I immediately hopped on his Etsy Site and ordered it. The pattern arrived on Friday and yesterday I pulled it out and sewed it up!

Pattern Description: (From Paco’s Etsy Store) With or without sleeves blouse with draped front; it can be made of silk or similar fabrics, includes stretch fabrics (knits). Te pattern is simple and easy to sew. It consists of five pieces: lower front, upper draped front, back, back neckline facing and sleeve. Sleeveless version: The armholes are finished with bias striips of self fabric (pattern not included), or using a special purpose hemming technique for stretchy fabric (if using knits). Blouse with sleeves: ONLY FOR KNITS. The pattern is drafted in three alternating sizes: Small, Medium, Large and X-Large (Bust 31,5, 34,5 37,5, and 40,5 inch.). A smaller or larger size can easily be obtained using the pattern master lines for grading. The pattern is hand copied from the original and the designer labels is provided, granting this pattern with “exclusive model” status.

I’ll also add that the design is a dropped-shoulder.

Sizing: S-XL. I made a medium.

Available as a PDF? No

Fabric Used: Chi Chi Chevrons ITY Jersey – Multi from Gorgeous Fabrics.

Machines and Tools Used: Pfaff home sewing machine, Juki home serger, Naomi the Naomoto iron, shoulder stand, sleeve board.

Needle/Notions Used: Stretch 75/11 needle, Gutterman thread and Maxi-Lock thread in the serger, Superior Threads Sew Fine #50 thread for hemming.

Tips Used during Construction: Anything by The Pressinatrix, Tips and Tricks for Sewing with Knits, How to “Flat Set” a Sleeve.

Did it look like the photo or drawing when you got through? Yes

How were the instructions? There are none included with this pattern, but the pattern is beautifully drafted and sews together readily if you have any experience. Also, there’s some great information on its construction out there from other bloggers, including this one from Core Couture.

Construction Notes: I used the Pfaff set on straight stitch (2.5mm) for the shoulders and back neck facing. I used the serger for all major seams, and I used the Pfaff to hem it with a 1.0mm wide by 3.0mm long zigzag stitch. I staystitched the front piece at the pivot point to reinforce it.

Wow, it’s kind of hard to see the stitching line with this busy print.

I used a 5/8 inch narrow hem at the bottom of the garment, rather than the two inch hem on the pattern. I like a little extra length. Also, for those who love cowl necks but are concerned about modesty (as one reader pointed out in my Review of McCalls 6963), this top is a great option. And the fact that the cowl neckline is an insert makes it easier to revise the depth of the cowl if you wish. But I don’t think most people will need to do that with this top.

One note is that on me, the shoulders are slightly wide. I think when I make it next I’ll start with a size small at the shoulders and taper out to a medium.

Likes/Dislikes: I love that the pattern is hand drafted and marked. I love that the cowl isn’t so deep that I need to worry about when I bend over. And I really love that Paco is back at designing again!!!

There’s nothing I dislike about it.

Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? Yes and yes. This is a great pattern that will be a staple in my wardrobe. I’ll probably make a few short sleeved versions for summer. Here’s the top on Shelley


and Back

Conclusion: Great pattern, wonderful designer, good friend. Welcome back, Paco!

Happy sewing!

Posted in Fabrics, Paco Peralta, Patterns, Reviews | 8 Comments

Tutorial: How to “Flat Set” a Sleeve

I originally published this as part of a review of a StyleArc pattern, but I figure it will be easier to find in its own post.

How to “Flat Set” a Sleeve
First, sew your bodice front and back pieces together at the shoulders:

Here you can see the sleeve head and the armscye.

You can see here that the notches (I used tailors tacks) line up pretty readily. Lay your sleeve on top of your garment body with right sides together and match up all the markings. I basted the seam here, which is optional. It only adds a few seconds to the construction time and it makes everything lines up perfectly.

You may have to stretch the armscye slightly as you sew to match all the notches.

Then stitch or serge your final seam.

StyleArc uses RTW standard 1/4 inch seams in knits.

Remove the basting, press your seam and then you can sew the side seams.

Ta daaaa!

Setting a sleeve this way takes much less time than the old sew-the-sides-sew-the-underarm-easestitch-and-set-in way. It works really well for knits. It also works pretty well for some stretch fabrics. It doesn’t always work for wovens (I probably wouldn’t use it on a tailored blazer, for instance), but it does for many shirt patterns. Give it a try!

Posted in Tutorials | Leave a comment

Pattern Review: Iconic Patterns Jackie Coat

That’s how I stand, all the time.

Pattern Description: From the website – Add some excitement to your winter wardrobe with this stylish and cozy coat.

Jackie coat looks great with jeans, leggings, short skirts or shorts.

It is very easy to dress up for a special occasion by adding an elbow length gloves.

Okay, yah, right. So what they mean to say is, Loose fitting, A-line hip length coat, with three-quarter length raglan sleeves, bust darts, stand collar, asymmetric closing, single welt pockets and bound button holes.

Sizing: 6-16. I made a 10.

Available as a PDF? Yes. I bought the printed pattern though, because I’m lazy.

Fabric Used: An absolutely gorgeous cashmere in dark green from Gorgeous Fabrics (natch). Sold out, sorry. Lining is dark brown silk habotai (sold out, sorry) for the sleeves and Juliette’s Garden Panel Print Silk for the body and pocket linings. Not sold out – a miracle! No, seriously – I’m not being snarky. I usually don’t get around to sewing fabrics until they have long since sold out. It’s kind of a hazard of duty in my job,

Machines and Tools Used: Pfaff home machine, Naomi the Naomoto.

Needle/Notions Used: Universal 70/10 needle for the coat, 60/8 for the lining. Pro-Weft interfacing (I think since discontinued) for block-fusing the fronts, Pro-Weft Supreme Medium for the facings, sleeve heads and hems. Both from Fashion Sewing Supply. Buttons from Botani in New York.

Tips Used during Construction: Pressing Impressively Without Impressions, and just about anything else by The Pressinatrix, Adding a Bellows “Wind Shield” to Coat Sleeves, Sew from Wide to Narrow.

Did it look like the photo or drawing when you got through? Yes

How were the instructions? So so. Some parts were great. Others, not so much. The general instructions are clear, but the instructions tell you to put the welt against the wrong side of the pocket lining, which ends up with the wrong side of the lining fabric facing in to the pocket:

I don’t really care too much, since no one will see it, but still…

Also, the instructions/illustrations on bagging the lining made no sense to me. I haven’t bagged a lining in a long time, so I went out on the internet and found several tutorials that were much more useful.

Construction Notes: I made a muslin, and the fit was pretty darned good out of the envelope. I don’t get too chuffed about fit on raglan sleeve coats, since I need a lot of ease to fit vests and long sleeved tops underneath. For my taste, the collar was way too high. It cut at a very unflattering place. I took off ½ inch of height and repositioned the buttonhole accordingly. If you have a swan neck, you can probably get away without altering it, but I recommend making a muslin if you are an average human being. I added a sleeve bellows to keep the wind out (have you heard about how cold it is in Boston and how much snow we have? Definitely want to cut the wind). After trying on the coat I opted not to cuff the sleeves. Boston in winter, and I like the longer length on me. It’s more visually pleasing.

I will add a side note here that I practiced my bound buttonholes over and over again, probably 6 times before I made them on my coat. I haven’t made bound buttonholes in a few years, so it’s always a good idea to run it through a few times before embarking on the ‘real thing’.

What was good about the pattern? The drafting is beautiful, this pattern goes together wonderfully. I like the somewhat retro style, which doesn’t tip into costume-land. It really is a lovely pattern.

What was not so good about the pattern? I’m going to be brutally honest. This pattern made a really bad first impression. I paid $26 plus shipping for the paper pattern. For that, I got this:

Are you kidding me?

Putting pattern pieces inside or overlapping other pattern pieces?

For 26 bucks, I do not expect to have to trace off pattern pieces because they overlap or sit inside other pattern pieces. This is not Burda magazine. I didn’t pay for the printed pattern to have to deal with that.

Then there was this:

Runny ink

I iron all my pattern pieces, and the ink on this ran like a son of a gun. I’ve had that happen with StyleArc patterns, too, so I did what I do with those; flipped the pattern pieces over and press them on the wrong side:

They bled onto my Reliable Ironing Board

So I had to put muslin on my board to protect it.

This really p*ssed me off

There’s no excuse for that. By the time I got to this point, I was about ready to throw the pattern into my fireplace. But I went home and thought about it and I really liked the coat, so I decided to soldier on. Then I hit another wall…

The instructions weren’t included. And if you buy a printed pattern, it’s not obvious how to get at them. I wrote to the nice folks at Iconic and asked them to please tell me how to get the instructions, and they were great and got right back to me with a PDF. I’m all for saving paper. I do it myself, but again, for $26, I shouldn’t have to jump through hoops to get the basic parts of the pattern. I was not a happy camper that night, I can tell you.

Another small irritation is that the center fronts are not marked on the pattern, nor are the button placements on the left front. I didn’t think about how much I use those CF guidelines, but not having them there, and not having the button placement to give you an idea, just added to my already simmering annoyance.

After sleeping on it, I made a muslin, which went together beautifully. The fit was good, I made a few minor tweaks, and then I started in on my cashmere. Once I got past the initial problems, the pattern sewed up really well. I used the muslin pieces as my pattern pieces (recommended, both because of the ink issue and because the paper is very heavy).

I made my bound buttonholes using a variation on the method I use for welt pockets.

Not too bad

And I just love those buttons!

Speaking of welt pockets, check out the Topstitching on These Babies.

Those two elements took the most time of the construction

Enough of me jawboning. Here are some shots of the inside and outside:

Front facing, lining, and you can see the sleeve bellows

Here you can see the silk print better

The back…

And the front!

Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? No, I will not make it again. It’s a beautiful design and well drafted, but I don’t need more than one. Would I recommend it? Hmmmm, with reservations. While the pattern is good, the little “broken shoelaces” as my father used to call them (bad ink, having to trace because pattern pieces overlap, instructions not included) didn’t give me warm fuzzies. But it is a good pattern.

Conclusion: Good pattern, some things about execution could be improved.

Happy sewing!

Posted in Fabrics, Patterns, Reviews | 9 Comments

Pattern Review: McCalls 6963 Cowl Neck Top

I made the sleeveless version of this last summer, as part of the One Yard Wonders series. This weekend I decided to try the sleeved version, so here you go!

Pattern Description: Close-fitting, pullover tops have draped front neckline variations, narrow hem on back neckline, and stitched hems. A: armhole bands.
I made View A/B body with View D sleeves.

Sizing: 8-24. I made a size 12

Fabric Used: Walk in the Woods Smooth Faced Jersey from Gorgeous Fabrics (we’re running a 20% off Blizzard sale, right now, BTW). I had a lot left over from my Lorax DVF wrap dress, thanks to a laundry mishap with the first piece of fabric (I love my sons, and I really appreciate that they tried to be helpful and did laundry but they need to learn a couple of things about new denim and dye-bleed), so I was able to make a long sleeve shirt. Bonus!

Machines and Tools Used: Juki home serger, Pfaff home sewing machine, Naomi the Naomoto, sleeve board, shoulder press.

Needle/Notions Used: Stretch 70/10 needle, a couple of scraps of interfacing for stabilizing the shoulders, thread.

Tips Used during Construction: Anything by The Pressinatrix, Sewing With Knits(GFUniversity video).

Did it look like the photo or drawing when you got through? Yes

How were the instructions? I didn’t use them this time.

Construction Notes: I made a size 12, but it’s pretty big through the shoulders. I could easily go down to a 10 and do a FBA.

A couple of notes about the sleeves that you should know if you decide to make this version. They are LONG. Really long. I have average length arms. In Vogue patterns I routinely shorten sleeves by an inch. These are about 2 inches too long for me, so be sure to check the length and adjust accordingly. Shame on me for not doing that beforehand, but I cut them down after the fact. You can see the length in the pictures below.

Also, the sleeves are pretty tightly drafted. The biceps measurement for the size 12 is 12 inches. So you may need to give yourself some ease in your upper arm.

Likes/Dislikes: This pattern has good bones, and the fitting instructions are quite thorough. I’m not crazy about how large the shoulders are on McCalls patterns of late, but that’s something I can work around pretty readily.

Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? I doubt I’ll do it again. I have Paco Peralta’s version coming to me, so that will be the next cowl neck top I make. But this is a good basic and I do recommend it. Here are some pictures on Shelley:

You can see how long those sleeves are

Parting Shot – Snowstorm! You may have heard that we are rather socked in here in the Northeast. I think the storm is over in NY and out in the western parts of New England, but closer to the coast we’re still getting bands of snow. This is the view from my sewing room window.

The roof of the addition to our house is about 9 inches below the sill. That’s a solid 2.5 feet of snow

So if you are in the path of this storm, please stay inside and be safe!

Posted in Fabrics, McCalls, Reviews | 4 Comments