The Diminishment of Fears – A Parable

Once there was a young woman. She was smart, and she went to college, where she took a class with a professor. This professor was an ogre. He frightened everyone, his class was haaaaaard, and he made people cry. Many thought he was the epitome of the Worst. Teacher. Ever.
Shrek Roar

No one in the first year completed his projects. He was a taskmaster. Everyone felt like they were complete losers in his class.

The young woman fled the class. She took an incomplete. Like many before her, she went to her college advisor and found a class with an easier professor. She learned some good things from this professor, some were easy things, sometimes intermediate things. But that was okay, because she felt like she was learning, and she wasn’t intimidated by the professor.
Slowly but surely, the student acquired knowledge and techniques to make her more confident. As time went by, the memories of the ogre professor faded. She got a job, then another job and another. Then one day, she was invited to a party, where the Ogre Professor was also a guest. She was surprised. He was no longer frightening…

In fact, he was rather nice, and very interesting. He had good things to say and knowledge to impart and she realized…
So she spent some time with the professor and discovered that, contrary to what she had thought, the professor could still teach her, and she could use what she learned from the professor. She and the professor became good friends, and to this day they work together and enjoy each other’s company.

The moral of the story? Things that seem hard or scary –  let’s say patterns, may be so at one point in your life, but as you learn and grow, they become far less intimidating. It’s the diminishment of fear, as your experience grows. And your experience will grow.

Happy sewing!

Posted in Commentary, Sewing | 6 Comments

Pattern Review: StyleArc Erin Culottes

Pattern Description: From StyleArc’s website: The culottes are back!! The pant that appears to be a skirt is the hot new trend, we just love it! The angled front pleats become part of the pockets creating an interesting and flattering design. The waist band is shaped and sits on the natural waist. This is the most comfortable pant/skirt that you will wear this season. For that luxurious evening look just lengthen the leg; or try them in Lurex.

Sizing: 4-30, I made a 10

Available as a PDF? Yes, through their Etsy shop

Fabric Used: Japanese Satin Finish RPL that’s sold out, sorry, from Gorgeous Fabrics. You can find fabrics that work for this pattern Here.

Machines and Tools Used: Pfaff home machine, Juki home serger, Naomi the Naomoto, Ironing board, sleeve board (I really want a pants board now!), Tailor’s ham.

Needle/Notions Used: Stretch 70/10 needle, silk organza selvages, invisible zipper, Pro Weft Interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply, hook and eye.

Tips Used during Construction: J? or L?, Anything by the Pressinatrix, Sewing Invisible Zipper by The Sewing Divas

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

How were the instructions? Typical StyleArc, so they are fine if you know what you are doing. If you are hesitant or a newbie, just keep a good sewing reference handy for the parts you don’t understand and you’ll be fine.

BUT – I do want to make one little point that I almost overlooked, so hopefully this will help others.

Step one in the instructions tells you to cross the pleats over the CF seam by 3/8″ or 1 cm.
Looking at the drawing it was really tempting to cross them over to the notches, which were about a half inch further away fron the CF, so do be sure to mark where they are going.

CF Overlaps

It just overlaps a little bit

It will probably be very helpful to mark the different pleats (A, B, and C) with different colored basting thread to make it easier to match.

Construction Notes: I made my usual adjustments to the waistline (½ inch off each side seam and 1 inch off the CB seam). I also changed the crotch curve to more of an “l” shape. I used Els’ foolproof invisible zipper method, which doesn’t leave a bubble. I finished all seam allowances and raw edges with a 4-thread overlock.
Looking at the CF

I stitched the facing and the hems by hand over my lunch hour.
Hem Finish
I am not crazy about my finishing of the back waistband/zipper, but I couldn’t get a decent picture of it in the light I had so you’ll just have to believe that I can do better next time. The CB of the waistband is okaaaay, but not quite there – there’s a wee bit of a pagoda wing, even though all the stitching looked straight, :/. Here’s a picture of the inside:
Invisible Zip
Well it will do for the wardrobe plans I have for it.

Likes/Dislikes: I really like the pleating, and they make my waist look slightly smaller, which is a great thing. But here’s the bottom line. I know culottes are all over the fashion bloggers scene, and these are a very good rendition, but I’m not sold on the whole concept. Maybe it’s just too hot to wear them right now. Maybe I need to style them with Docs or high heeled boots and a blazer. Maybe. But if this is your jam, I say go for it.

Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? Would I do it again? I haven’t decided. It has nothing to do with the pattern. It has everything to do with the trend. I want to try wearing them in the cooler weather, then I will let you know. But then, maybe that’s my answer right there.

Conclusion: These may not be for me, but if you like this style, This is a sleek, stylish version. Here is a picture on Shelley. I will try to get pictures on me when the weather cools down a bit.

I do like that it has a skirt like feel

I do like that it has a skirt like feel

ETA 9-3-15 to add a sucky selfie of me in them:

I think I may like these after all...

I think I may like these after all…

Happy sewing!

Posted in Fabrics, StyleArc | 8 Comments

Another Karen Short

Wow – I honestly didn’t expect as much discourse as my Last Post generated. But the discussion is really interesting so please keep it up! And a warm welcome to those who are new to this blog. Lots of new visitors this week and I hope you’ll take a look around. If you click on the categories, I try to break things down. Ones that I hope are particularly useful and/or amusing are the Tips, Tutorials and Pressinatrix categories. Have fun, I hope it’s helpful.

While all that was going on, I found a little time to run up one last pair of shorts for the summer. I used the StyleArc Karen Walking Shorts, the Shortened Version I made up earlier this month. I made a couple of minor changes that I’ll go over here.

First up, I decided to use jeans-style patch pockets on the back this time. I did a chalk trace-off of the pockets from my favorite pair of jeans (good old Gaps). That pocket is big enough to hold my phone, and it’s not so big that it does weird things to my butt.

Second, I spread the waistline alterations around. If you recall from my last version, I had to take 2 inches off the waist to make it fit properly. Last time I took it all at the CB seam. This time I spread it around to the side seams as well, taking about ½ inch from each side and 1 inch from the back.

I used Mr. Tweedy Lightweight RPL in Light Tan for the main fabric and quilting cotton from JoAnn that I used for DS the Younger’s Prom Vest. You know, I try really hard not to criticize other fabric stores, but this cotton is really crap. My son chose it for a vest, because it fit the criteria he wanted (mostly clashing violently with his date’s dress, since she broke up with him a week before prom). I have worked with good quilting cottons. This is not one of them. But it will do for this.

Sorry it's slightly blurry, I had to get ready for dinner

Sorry it’s slightly blurry, I had to get ready for dinner

I got some (kind of deserved) hell for my finishing of the insides on the last version of this pattern. Whatever. This is the only time all but one of you are ever going to get into my pants. Anyway, this time I hand sewed the facing to the waistband seam. I stitched all seams with a straight stitch and finished all seams and pocket edges with a 3-thread overlock.

Karen 3 Closeup of Fly and Button

You can see the bobbin thread pulled through on the bottom of the buttonhole

Because of said hell that I caught, I used blue thread in the bobbin to match the facing, and beige on the outside to match the fabric. All kidding aside, it does look nicer. But it has one unexpected side effect. This time, instead of using hooks and eyes to close the waistband, I used a button. The button stitch ended up pulling up some of the blue bobbin threads to give a slightly ombre’d effect. It’s actually kind of cool.

Other than that, I did everything else similarly to the last time. I wore these out to dinner with DH and BFF tonight, and they are so comfortable! Here are some pictures both on Shelley and (gasp!) on me.

Karen 3 Front

Front, pinned on Shelley

Karen 3 Back

Back on Shelley, showing the pockets

Karen 3 On Me

Straight on – I promise you I don’t have camel toe. It’s an artifact of the lighting and my lousy photography.

NOT a Glamour Shot

Oh yeah, I’m a freaking supermodel – NOT!

So once again I recommend this pattern. It’s easy, classic and comfortable.

Happy sewing!

Posted in Fabrics, Sewing, StyleArc | 6 Comments

Is the Independent Pattern Bubble Starting to Burst?

I’m wearing my bullet-proof underwear today, so I’m going to put it out there. Three posts back, Michelle noted that Blue Ginger Doll, an “indie” pattern company, seems to have shut down with little or no notice. Sure enough, when I went to the site, it has a little closed sign hanging on the page. I have no affiliation with Blue Ginger Doll, and I don’t know the owner/designer, so I have no idea what may have happened. I have linked to their patterns from Gorgeous Fabrics on occasion, but that’s the extent of it. Hopefully everything is okay with the owner. I never want to see small business owners go through bad things (voice of experience talking here). But it got me thinking about the general ebb and flow of companies, pattern companies in this case.

Round about two years back, it seemed like there was an explosion in the number of patterns being offered by new companies. I’m not talking StyleArc or HotPatterns, both of which have been around for several years and whose designers have industry chops. I’m talking about patterns offered by bloggers who may or may not have had design training. They seemed to come flying out of the sewing blogosphere (SBC) like fireworks on New Years. There were tons of reviews on blogs, there were calls for pattern testers all over, there were blog tours, there were hordes of me-too iterations of certain patterns.

Then it died down. And of late, some of the independent pattern companies seem to have fallen off the radar. I’m not going to mention any names beyond Blue Ginger Doll, but I’m sure you can come up with your own list. Here’s what I think happened.

Too many beginner styles, not enough beginners.
It seemed for a while that we were seeing many of the almost-exact-same patterns cropping up from different blog/design sites. Easy skirts, easy tops, pajama bottoms, headbands. All were introduced with the goal of getting newbies into sewing. I love it! I applaud it! The more the merrier when it comes to sewing.

The problem arises when saturation sets in. There are only a certain number of beginners out there, and there are a sh*t-ton of pajama bottom patterns. It’s hard to justify paying $20 for an a-line skirt when you can buy the same pattern (not on sale, mind you) for $3.99 from New Look. Add to that the attrition rate when a newbie sew-er hits a wall or runs up against fit or generally gets frustrated, and you quickly run out of customers. Which brings me to…

Cute idea on paper, crappy execution IRL
Ever been seduced by the soft lighting, beautiful backgrounds and cute posing of the model in some of the photographs of independent patterns? But after purchasing the pattern, you discover that the bodice makes your boobs look saggy (thanks, I don’t need help with that), the sleeves are drafted so no matter what they won’t hang correctly, the skirt is cut in such a way that it makes a skinny little thing look like she gained 20 lbs.

There’s a reason fashion designers – most of them, anyway – go to fashion design school. There they learn not only how to sketch and use CAD software. They also learn things like proportion and balance, and technical skills like grading and dart manipulation. Very few of us are born with the innate ability to drape or design a piece of clothing that will look good on bodies of different sizes. And…

If it doesn’t look good on the “designer” it won’t look good on me.
There are two parts to this. First, there’s the general design. I’ve seen some patterns modeled by the designer that look, frankly, awful on them. Yet fangirls heap adoration on them while 97.8% of the blog reading public is thinking, “Whut??” Second, even if the design is good, the construction is so poorly done that it causes The Pressinatrix to Clutch Her Pearls and Fan Herself. If a pattern’s photograph has puckery seams, dimply darts, uneven necklines and wavy hems, it is not ready for prime-time. And that kind of shoddy construction reflects a lack of respect for the customer. If a designer can’t be bothered to put in the work to make their design look fabulous, why should they expect anyone to buy their pattern?

Does it age gracefully?
This question has two meanings. First – is the style one that will look fresh a few years later? That’s a really hard thing to accomplish, and kudos to those who can design looks that do. The second meaning has to do with the wearer. A certain style may look fantastic on a recent college grad who is starting out. But how does that look translate to that same person 4 years later when she is looking to move into a more senior position? Many of the early SBC patterns were designed by and for a young demographic. I applaud that, we need new sew-ers! But we all change, and our wardrobe needs change. Which brings me to…

It’s a dragon that needs to be fed, constantly.
Fashion is almost literally a churn-and-burn industry. Way back when, there were two “seasons” in fashion: fall/winter and spring/summer. Now companies like Zara and H&M are releasing collections – not looks, collections – every 5 weeks. It’s the same with pattern companies. The big ones have Early Fall, Fall, Halloween, Holiday, Winter, Early Spring, Spring, Early Summer, Summer… and it goes on year after year after year. If you’re a one-person shop, that’s a pretty daunting schedule to try to keep up. Even 4 seasons a year is a lot. Something has to give, whether it’s the quality of design, or the health of the designer. You know that adage, “the reward for hard work is more hard work?” Yeah, this.

Game of Thrones? Game of Sewn

Game of Thrones? Game of Sewn

It’s a piece of clothing, not a lifestyle.
Have you ever noticed that the biggest lifestyle brands out there don’t offer clothing lines? Martha Stewart, Real Simple, Jonathan Adler – not one of them. Ralph Lauren could be considered an exception, but he doesn’t have a TV show and he doesn’t publish magazines or books. He just has a team of designers who do all the work under his umbrella. Alabama Chanin is probably the closest thing to a lifestyle brand that also designs clothing, but the aesthetic is geared to a narrow audience. A narrow audience who has lots of time to do hand-sewing, or has the disposable income to purchase hand-made-in-America goods. Lifestyle brands are aspirational. Maybe people aspire to wear a-line skirts and hoodies. Not people I know. Designs with a slight edge and beautiful, unusual details? That’s aspirational.

So, is there a shakeout in the “indies”? Perhaps. Certainly the number of patterns released from the SBC seems to have slowed from the flood of a couple of years ago. It’s probably fashion Darwinism at work. Some will survive, others won’t. Others will come on the scene, and perhaps one or two will be the Next Big Thing. I do hope that we continue to see new pattern designers, and I hope those pattern designers come out with cool designs that appeal to many. Because when they do, that means…

Happy sewing!

ETA 8-28-15 – Blue Ginger Doll, whose vanished site prompted this post, is back up again. Yay!

Posted in Commentary | 72 Comments

Pattern Review: Christine Jonson Travel Trio 1 – Pants

This time, it’s the pants!

I had a bunch of fabric left over from my Travel Trio 1 Jacket, so I figured I would make a pair of pants. There are surprisingly few reviews of this pattern out there that I could find. That never deters me, so here you go…

Pattern Description: From the website, “ Center Seam Pants: Semi-fitted, front and back seamed pants with waistline yoke.

I would call it a waistband, not a waistline yoke, but that’s a minor nit.

Sizing: 4-22. I made a 12 based on my measurements and the pattern sizing worksheet. Honestly? It’s big. If you don’t do a muslin (recommended) then plan to go down a size.

Available as a PDF? No

Fabric Used: More of the (sold out, sorry!) heavy doubleknit. This fabric feels like it’s halfway between a ponte and a neoprene, and I just love it! You can find Similar Here.

Machines and Tools Used: The usual suspects: Pfaff 2130, Juki home serger, Naomi the Naomoto,
Needle/Notions Used: Universal 70/10 needle. Thread. That is it.

Tips Used during Construction: Easy and Quick Way to Mark the Back, Anything by the Pressinatrix (I know, every post- but you know what? I see so many things that aren’t pressed and it Makes. Me. Crazy!), Tips and Tricks for Sewing With Knits, J? or L?

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

How were the instructions? Quite good.

Construction Notes: I came very close to a wadder on this one. It had nothing to do with the pattern, it had to do with my cutting my fabric. I had 4 yards of my fabric and I cut it into two pieces. One was slightly longer than the other and guess what happened? Yep, I got 6 pieces cut out then realized I didn’t have enough length for the other two. I was all set to concede defeat when I remembered that I had some fabric left over from my jacket. Woo hoo!!! There was enough for the two pieces! Whew!!!

I made a size 12 right out of the envelope. They run large on me. Not outrageously so, but enough that I would probably go down to a 10 without any ill effects. What you should measure is the crotch-to-waistline length. It’s long. Make a muslin so you don’t end up with a Pappy-in-O-Brother-Where-Art-Thou length.

Likes/Dislikes: Love the lines. I really like the fact that I don’t have to take a lot of curvature out of the side seams. Love the seams in the front and back for both design and fit. Not crazy about the crotch length, but shame on me for not measuring, I suppose.

Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? It’s a good pattern, and I really like the seaming. I doubt I’ll do it again. I like it but I don’t love it. It will look great under a long jacket (including the Travel Trio One), but to my eye it doesn’t stand on its own.

Conclusion: Here are pictures on Shelley, with how I will style it:

Jacket, Breton top and really comfy loafers = yeah!

Posted in Patterns, Sewing | 4 Comments

Tip: Easy and Quick Way to Mark the Back

If you ever made a pair of yoga pants, or other type of pull-on pants or skirt whose front and back are not easy to distinguish from each other, here’s a simple trick to keep your sanity. Run a very short length of zigzag stitching in a brightly contrasting color along the waistband facing or waistband seam at the center back. Ta daaa! Easy peasy and no bulk.

Just a few millimeters in a contrasting thread will do the trick

Posted in Tips | 1 Comment

Pattern Review: Christine Jonson Travel Trio 1 Jacket

Wow! I didn’t think my last post would generate as much commentary as it did, but that’s great! It seems like blogging, as is the case with every technology, is evolving. We’ll see what the future holds. Feel free to keep the discussion going over there. And in the meantime…

It’s been 90+ degF every day this week, so of course I decided I need to sew myself a fall jacket. I bought this pattern from Christine Jonson a couple of weeks back, after eyeing it for the last several years. I’m also trying to sew down some of my stash (I know, right?) so I pulled out some fabric that has been staring at me for the last 2 years, and here we go!

Yep, I look JUST like that!

Pattern Description: From Christine Jonson’s website, Drape Front Jacket: Asymmetrical, semi-fitted jacket with slight bell sleeves. Jacket ties at the left side, forming soft folds. Multi-sized XS-XL.

Sizing: XS-XL. I made a Small. I think I could go down to halfway between a XS and a S with no ill effects. The shoulders run a bit wide on me, and I don’t have narrow shoulders.

Available as a PDF? No

Fabric Used: Heavy Doubleknit in black from Gorgeous Fabrics. It’s long since sold out, sorry, but you can find Similar Here.

Machines and Tools Used: Pfaff 2130 sewing machine, Juki MO654DE serger, Naomi the Naomoto, shoulder stand, tailor’s ham, sleeve board, silk organza press cloth.

Needle/Notions Used: Stretch 75/11 needles, scraps of interfacing, thread. That’s all

Tips Used during Construction: Anything by The Pressinatrix, Tips and Tricks for Sewing with Knits

Did it look like the photo or drawing when you got through? Yes. I think the asymmetry is more pronounced than on the drawing, but it’s not too far off.

How were the instructions? For the most part, very good. There’s one nit that annoyed me a bit. The first thing the instructions have you do is “Serge the horizontal dart in Right Front 11, barely shaving off the raw edge with the serger knife.”

I would prefer it if they just said “stitch or serge the dart using a ¼ inch seam.” It’s the same thing, and it is more precise. And they tell you to use ¼ inch seams for the mitred corners, so it would be more consistent. Other than that, they were fine.

Construction Notes: I stabilized the shoulders with scraps of fusible interfacing. As the instructions suggested, I finished all the raw edges with a 3-thread serger stitch before turning and hemming:

I think that looks pretty, don’t you? ;)

The fabric that I used is a really beautiful double knit. It’s heavier than many, and it’s probably right on the edge for this pattern, because of the tie front. The bell sleeve, IMO, is more pronounced than the description and the picture lead one to believe.

Likes/Dislikes: This is a very well drafted pattern. It went together quickly and it gives great results.

Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? Yes and yes! I think I’ll make this next in a drapey doubleknit.

Conclusion: Good bones, easy to sew, good instructions, what’s not to love? Here it is on Shelley. Once the weather cools off I’ll get a picture on me.

Like I say, the drape/asymmetry seems more pronounced than the illustration

It is a good looking jacket

Happy sewing!

Posted in Fabrics, Sewing | 4 Comments

Is Blogging Dead?

Over the last week I’ve seen several comments from sewing acquaintances that blogging is dead or dying. It seems to be a drumbeat that started earlier this year and has gained traction over time, but is it true? Certainly many of the blogs that I follow have slowed down in publishing, and several of my favorite bloggers have stopped completely. Traffic to this blog has slowed, but I attribute that as much to the fact that I haven’t been publishing much lately as to any general trend. But there seems to be a small but growing consensus that blogging is dying a slow death, and that it’s being replaced by other, newer technologies, or that it’s being folded into content on commercial sites. The New York Times, Huffington Post and other media outlets have incorporated blogs into their mainstream sites, as quasi-op-ed.

I’ve started using Instagram, and I post regularly over on the Gorgeous Fabrics Facebook page with links to all sorts of stuff. Those are both good for “quick hits”, but you can’t put in-depth content like reviews, tutorials and such on those platforms. I’m not interested in setting up any kind of paywall; that runs counter to my business and personal DNA. I like sharing my knowledge about sewing. I don’t need to make money off it. I earn my living by selling fabrics. Teaching what to do with fabrics (whether purchased from me or elsewhere) is something that I do for the joy of it.

I don’t participate in collaborative blogs. I was one of the original Sewing Divas, but we all got too busy to continue that blog. I used to be a contributing editor to the SewStylish blog, and while it was fun at first, dealing with pressures and deadlines sucked all the joy out of sewing for me after several months. I don’t participate in forums because that could be viewed as self-serving and cynical. I may be both, but I don’t need to broadcast that on someone else’s site 😉

So where does that leave things? Well, here. Clearly if you’re reading this, you read blogs, so I’m not sure if you’re the right demographic to ask if blogs are truly dead. But are there any alternatives to blogging that you think are appropriate for disseminating information? Instagram? Tumblr? Pinterest? Others that I’m missing? What do you all think?

ETA later in the day August 18th: For anyone who thinks I’m contemplating shutting this blog down, I’m not, and I’m sorry if I gave that impression. I’m musing on the current and future states of the blogosphere, not anything more than that. I promise this blog will stay put for the distant future. Thanks and keep commenting – I really want to know your thoughts about the current state (and your thoughts on future possible technologies).

And since I can’t resist… See you Thursday.


Happy sewing!

Posted in Commentary, Sewing | 65 Comments

Pattern Review: StyleArc Karen Walk Shorts

Boy, it’s been a while! I hope you’re all having a great summer. I haven’t been sewing too much for the last several weeks, but I’ve been incredibly busy. I finally was able to get back into the sewing room this week to make another pair of shorts. We’ve got a mid-August heat wave going here in the Boston area and suddenly shorts are in short supply. I reviewed this pattern a few years back, but since then I’ve worn the first pair to death, and I did things differently this time, so here’s a fresh review.

Pattern Description: From StyleArc’s website: Stylish, comfortable walk short with side angled pocket, belts loops and optional jetted back pockets.

Sizing: 6-30. I made a 10

Available as a PDF? No

Fabric Used: Rayon stretch “denim” from Gorgeous Fabrics. It’s sold out, sorry, but you can see Other Denims Here. I used leftover silk from my Burda/Chanel blouse for pocket linings and waistband facings.

Machines and Tools Used: Pfaff 2130 for the construction, Juki MO654DE for finishing, Naomi the Naomoto, tailor’s ham, sleeve board.

Needle/Notions Used: Stretch 70/10 needle, 7 inch zipper from my stash, Pro Weft Interfacing, scraps of silk organza for the welts and front pocket edges, two skirt hooks/eyes, Japanese basting thread and Japanese hand-sewing needle(thanks, Rosie!)

Tips Used during Construction: Pretty much anything by The Pressinatrix, Template for Fly Stitching, J, or L? Appliqué Foot for Precision Sewing, Tutorial on Welt Pockets.

Did it look like the photo or drawing when you got through? More or less. See changes I made below.

How were the instructions? StyleArc standard. If you know what you are doing, they are fine. If you’re new to sewing, or unsure of yourself, I recommend keeping a good sewing reference handy. I used my favorite welt method instead of theirs.

Construction Notes: I shortened the legs by two inches before cutting. These are going to be casual shorts for the remainder of summer, and I like my length slightly below mid-thigh. I used silk organza selvages to stabilize the angled edge of the front pockets. I used silk rather than self-fabric for the facings to reduce bulk, and I under-stitched the waistband toward the facings to give it a better turn of the cloth. To attach the bottom of the waistband facing, I turned up a scant seam allowance, pressed it, then stitched in the ditch of the waistband seam on the right side to affix it.

I like it when the inside looks pretty, don’t you?

Here’s the welt still basted closed. I love that Japanese cotton thread.

And only I will know that my lining is Chanel fabric! :)

Instead of cutting the back waistline as one continuous piece, I added a center back seam. After sewing the seams, but before applying the waistband, I tried the shorts on for fit, and discovered that I needed to remove about 2 inches from the waist. I made that adjustment at the CB. If I do this again I may go down to a size 8 and go from there. At some point I’m going to take a class with Kenneth King on pants fitting to get a really well-fitting pattern. But in the meantime, these aren’t too bad, and I don’t get too wrapped around the axle about summer shorts.

I finished all raw edges with my serger. I used 6 belt carriers instead of the 5 StyleArc shows on the pattern. I prefer it that way, you might like the 5-loop layout. That’s the beauty of making it yourself :). I hemmed the legs by hand using waxed thread.

Likes/Dislikes: Very good pattern, excellently drafted and comfortable to wear (I’m wearing them right now). At some point I’ll get a picture of me in them, but it’s too darned hot right now.

Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? Yes and yes. You can put the welt pockets in or leave them out, as you prefer. I like the clean lines, and they look good in both the short length modification and the original knee-length.

Conclusion: A great pattern that is a solid summer basic. Here are front and back shots on Shelley:

Happy sewing!

Posted in Fabrics, Sewing, StyleArc | 5 Comments

Pattern Review: Liesl & Co. Maritime Top

Pattern Description: From Liesl & Co.’s website, “This simple pull-on top is designed for knit fabrics with a little or a lot of stretch. View A features three-quarter-length sleeves while View B has short sleeves. Both styles include a bateau neck with topstitching detail and simple side vents, as well as a flattering fit.”

I made the ¾ length sleeve version. I will add that this pattern has a dropped shoulder, not obvious from the technical drawing, but clear if you look at the photograph, and obvious once you make it.

Sizing: 0-20. Based on my measurements I made a 10, straight out of the envelope.

Available as a PDF? Yes

Fabric Used: (Sold out, sorry) Striped reversible jersey in blue and white from Gorgeous Fabrics (of course). That’s sold out, but there are lots of alternatives Here.

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

Needle/Notions Used: Stretch 75/11 needle, scraps of fusible interfacing to stabilize the shoulders, thread. That’s it.

Tips Used during Construction: Pretty much anything by The Pressinatrix. Tips and Tricks for Sewing with Knits.

Did it look like the photo or drawing when you got through? It looked like the photo. A little less like the line drawing, which seems to show set in shoulders.

How were the instructions? They seemed good. I didn’t use them except to check the seam allowance and hem depths.

Construction Notes: I have only seen one review of this pattern anywhere online, and the lady who reviewed it noted that she didn’t like the facings and wished she had used bindings instead. Taking that to heart, I made a very simple binding for the neckline, using the reverse of the fabric.
Liesl Maritime Band Front

Liesl Maritime Band Back
If I do it again I’ll draft a band that hugs in a bit better at the shoulders. But this isn’t terrible.

I serged all the seams, and I finished the hems with a double needle.

The stripes on the side seams do match at the notch point. And here you can see the reverse of the fabric. Love it!

The stripes on the side seams do match at the notch point. And here you can see the reverse of the fabric. Love it!

Likes/Dislikes: Based on the measurements – both flat pattern and finished garment, I decided not to do a FBA/dart (the instructions are included in the pattern, thank you Liesl!) just to see how it looked. In retrospect I wish I had done the FBA/dart, and I would do it in the future. I like the fact that this version of a Breton top is bra-friendly. I’m not as wild about the fit. I don’t care for the dropped shoulder, and even with a dart it seems to have more ease than I like in a top like this. But if you like a looser-fitting top and you like a shoulder line that is dropped, then this is a very good choice and an easy garment to sew in just a couple of hours.

Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? Hmmmmm. I doubt I’ll make it again. It’s a decent top. And like I say, it suits a certain style. Don’t get me wrong – it has good bones and it’s good for a lot of folks, but I like the shape of the New Look pattern I made better. Here are pictures on Shelley:





Conclusion: A nice basic, loosely fitted top.
Happy sewing!

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