Pattern Review: Butterick 5250 (OOP) High Waisted Trousers

Pattern Description: From the pattern envelope: “Misses/Misses’ Petite Pamts and Belt: Above-waist, creased pants ABC have fly front zipper and back darts. A, B front darts. C, D: front tucks. A: button trim and cuffs. B: carriers and belt.”

I made view B, but I skipped the belt and I’ll used a purchased belt instead.

Sizing: 6-22. I made a 14.
Continue reading Pattern Review: Butterick 5250 (OOP) High Waisted Trousers

Pattern Review: Retro Butterick B6734 Dress

Man, it has been a week. My mother passed away peacefully last Friday after a very long battle with Alzheimer’s. That was a blessing. She’s with Dad now, which is good. The family drama that accompanied her death? Not so much. I’m not going to bore you with the details; every family has its own version, I’m sure. It’ll pass, like a kidney stone maybe, but it will pass. Her funeral was today, and it was lovely. I was able to hold it together until the incensing of the casket. That killed me.


But, as they say, life goes on. Last week I bought Butterick 6734, a retro dress with some style variations. I’m not usually much of a retro girl, but I do like some of the styles from the 1940s and this one really appealed to me.
Continue reading Pattern Review: Retro Butterick B6734 Dress

Shameless Plug: Gorgeous Fabrics’ HUGE Summer Sale!

July 4 Sale Starts 6-22-16

I give Shameless Plugs for other people’s businesses, so why not for my own?

Starting right now (actually, starting yesterday), it’s our biggest sale of the summer!

10% off? Pffft. That’s peanuts.
15% off? Guffaw.
20% off?? Keep going…

Everything* is on sale at Gorgeous Fabrics for 25% to 60% off site-wide, so you can stock up and save big. This is our biggest sale of the summer, and you won’t see savings like this again anytime soon, so come on over and get your stash on!

Click Here to Start Shopping and Saving Big at Gorgeous Fabrics!

On top of the super sale savings, orders over $50 before shipping receive a free gift with purchase, and orders over $200 receive free shipping in the US!

Happy saving and sewing!

*The fine print – there are a few exceptions: muslin, gift certificates, swatches and notions. Other than that, you’re good. 

Pattern Review: Kwik Sew 4155 Shirt Dress

Pattern Description: From the KS website: “Dresses have fitted bodice with front and back princess seams, armholes are finished with facings, front placket with button closures and waist seam. Flared skirt has side-front and side-back seams with side seam pockets. A: Collar with collar stand. B: Collar stand.”

I made view A.

Sizing: XS to XL. I made a Medium.

Available as a PDF? No

Fabric Used: Lightweight Cotton “Oxford” in Infinity Blue from Gorgeous Fabrics (of course!)

Machines and Tools Used: Pfaff 2130 sewing machine, Juki MD654DE serger, Naomi the Naomoto

Needle/Notions Used: Universal 70/10 needle, Pro-Weft Supreme Interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply, 9 Buttons, thread.

Tips Used during Construction: And Now, a Word from the Pressinatrix, Clip the Selvages Before Laying Out Your Pattern, Sew from Wide to Narrow

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

How were the instructions? They were good. I would do things differently from the instructions on future versions (see Likes/Dislikes for details), but they were quite thorough.

Construction Notes: I made a muslin to check the fit. As I have found with many Kwik Sew patterns, this has a ton of excess ease in the chest area, and I had pretty major gaposis around the armholes. I took about 3 inches (!) of excess ease out by adjusting the princess lines. I could have removed about an inch more without suffering any ill effects. I did an FBA, and I adjusted the armhole facings to match the new gap-reduced bodice.

Because of the FBA, I re-positioned the buttons. I only used 9 buttons, and I put a skirt hook/eye at the waist on the button placket. I will wear this with a belt, so that gives a smoother line.

Kwik Sew’s instructions have you sew the collar stand to the wrong side of the bodice neckline, then turn the seam allowance on the outer side of the collar under and machine stitch through all layers. Instead, I attached the collar stand to the bodice on the right side, and I hand-stitched the inside of the collar to the bodice on the wrong side. After that I machine stitched around the edges. I find that’s a better way to ensure that your collar looks good.

I also added a bar tack on the side seams at the bottom of the pockets, for reinforcement.

To give it a little more security.

Here are a couple of shots of the in-process bodice…

Bodice Front before attaching skirt
And Back

Likes/Dislikes: I like very much the way this pattern is drafted, and I like the lines. I am not that crazy about their order of construction. They have you construct the bodice, along with the button plackets, then construct the skirt, with the button plackets. I found that it’s very easy to slightly mis-align the plackets at the waistline. That happened with mine. It’s hidden by a belt, and even if it wasn’t, you’d have to get close to see it, but I know it’s there. In the future. I would sew the bodice fronts/backs together, sew the skirt fronts/backs together, attach them at the waist, sew the button plackets together and attach them in one piece. Even better, I would re-draft the plackets to be a single piece running from the neckline to the hem. Then I would attach the collar.

Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? I would do it again, and I do recommend it. I really like the way this looks. I was inspired to make this because of the McCalls Patterns Shirtdress Sew Along. I’m not usually a sew along kind of gal, and in fact I had to have this done before the sew along ends, because I wore it to DS the Younger’s graduation from high school today! I finished it at 11:30 this morning, and the graduation started at 2 this afternoon.

Here’s a picture of the front on Shelley:

And… gasp! A shot actually on me!

Proud Mama Moment!

Conclusion: I really, really like this pattern. I can see making this in a piqué for a dressier look, or a lightweight denim. Do make sure to make a muslin, since it does have (for me) a lot of extra ease. It’s really comfortable, and it goes together quickly. All in all it’s a winner.

Now it’s time to take the graduate out for a celebratory dinner. Happy sewing!

Fabrics for Formalwear and Bridal at Gorgeous Fabrics

I sent this out to the members of Gorgeous Fabrics’ email list, but I also thought those who don’t receive the emails might like to see it. Pattern and fabric inspiration posts seem to be popular so here you go…

Formalwear Fabrics for Fabulous Occasions!

Prom and wedding season are upon us, and Gorgeous Fabrics carries amazing options from some of the top designers in the world. We have an entire section dedicated to it, and all of these fabrics are included in the big sale going on right now. Let’s take a look at a few of them and give you some inspiration for how you can use them.

Lovely Lace

Lace is for more than just bridal these days, though of course it’s great for that, too! We have an amazing array of laces. From designer laces with scalloped edges suitable for the hautest sewing, to stretch laces that are perfect for fun tops and dresses. This Gorgeous scalloped edge lace from Nicole Miller would work great for a dress like Simplicity 1606, a jacket like Simplicity 1250 or a flirty top like New Look 6450.

Click Here for Lace Fabrics


Brilliant Brocade

Brocade is one of those fabrics that can strike fear in the hearts of many, when in fact it is very easy to sew! The texture forgives many mistakes, it has great body and it takes to tailored items like a dream. You can use it for jackets, accessories and even cool vests for men’s formalwear. Try Vogue 9068 for a luxe take on a classic jacket, Vogue 9164 for a beautiful clutch bag, or Vogue 7488 for a man’s formal vest.

Click Here for Brocade and Textured Fabrics


Sexy Sequins

Sequined fabrics are all the rage on the runways this season. When we think of sequins, we often envisage slinky gowns that are worthy of the red carpet. But you can also use sequins to elevate a simple top or dress. If the idea of sequins is a little intimidating, use them as an inset or an overlay to get your feet wet! Some great options include McCalls 7051, Lekala 4495 and McCalls 7047. I wrote a post on Tips and Hints for Working with Sequins, to take some of the fear factor from this fabulous fabric.

Click Here for Sequined Fabrics and More


Luscious Lamé

Finally for today, have you tried sewing with lamé or other shiny fabrics? They are so fun! Use the smallest needle you can get away with, and let your imagination soar. You can go with a classic dress, but don’t limit yourself. Try a simple top, and let the fabric have center stage. Or go for a designer-inspired vest. Talk about a luxurious surprise! Some exemplary options include Butterick 6243, Butterick 6156 and Butterick 6138.

Click Here for Lamé and Shiny Fabrics

Hopefully that gives you some ideas for these exciting fabrics. Have a great day, and

Happy sewing!

Pattern Review: Vogue 7488 Men’s Vest

Friday is DS the Younger’s senior prom. His date is wearing a red dress, and since I am a fabulous mom, I told him I would make him a vest to wear.

Pattern Description: Lined vest has low armholes, shaped hemline and back belt. A: Notched collar and welt pockets. B: Double-breasted and welt pockets. C: Angled shawl collar and mock-welt pockets.

Sizing: Men’s XS to XL. I made a medium at the shoulders, tapering to a small at the waist.

Available as a PDF? No

Fabric Used: Greek Key Silk Blend Brocade in Bright Red from Gorgeous Fabrics (of course!)for the main fabric, red silk habotai (sold out, sorry, but you can find Other Colors Here) for the lining

Machines and Tools Used: Pfaff 2130 sewing machine, Naomi the Naomoto, ham, sleeve board, point presser, clapper.

Needle/Notions Used: Universal 70/10 needle, Pro-Weft Interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply, D-ring from my stash, buttons from my stash (from the long-ago days of Fabric Fix in NH, sigh), thread.

Tips Used during Construction: Anything by The Pressinatrix, Make the Lining First.

Did it look like the photo or drawing when you got through? Well, not exactly. For one thing, the line drawing omits the stitching lines on the collar/lapel joint.

Also, the line drawing and photos indicate that there is a pronounced notch. But if you look at the pattern piece, the lapel is definitely curved.

There’s no stitching line indicated, so like a good little sewing automaton I followed the lines and notches. Also, from the pictures and line drawing, it looks like I sewed the lapel incorrectly to the collar, but again, I followed the notches and instructions, and this is what I got.

There is a distinct possibility of operator error on my part, since I was doing this after work and I’ve been running on fumes all this week. The good news is that he loves it as-is, so I’m not going to squawk.

How were the instructions? Um, okaaaaay… see my comments above.

Construction Notes: I sized the vest based on his measurements. One thing I didn’t realize in advance was that this pattern runs very long in the torso. I found that out after it was complete. I ended up taking up about an inch at the shoulders, so if you make this pattern, you’ll want to measure the front against the wearer beforehand to see if you have the same issue.

This pattern goes together quite easily. I debated about interfacing the entire front, since this fabric has a fair amount of body to begin with, but I decided to use Pam’s lightweight interfacing and it adds just the right amount of stiffness.

Likes/Dislikes: He loves it, so I’m happy!

Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? I might do it again. Then again I don’t get too much call for vests.

Conclusion: He’s thrilled so I’m happy. Here are pictures on Shelley. I’ll get pictures on him tomorrow night.



And the welt pocket

Happy sewing!

Pattern Review: McCalls 6839 Top
Pattern Description: Close-fitting, pullover tops and tunic have back neckline variations and stitched hems. A: Back pleated drape, cut on crosswise grain. B: Back yoke. C: Draped back. D: Shaped hemline (wrong side show) and narrow hem. C, D: Back tie ends.

I made a hybrid of views C and D – I added the sleeves from view D to View C.

Sizing: 8-24. I made a 12, tapering out to a 14 at the bust.

Available as a PDF? No

Fabric Used: A sold out animal/snake print ITY from Gorgeous Fabrics. It’s sold out, but there are Similar Here.

Machines and Tools Used: Juki 654DE serger, Pfaff 2130, Naomi the Naomoto, sleeve board, shoulder stand.

Needle/Notions Used: Stretch 75/10, thread. That’s it!

Tips Used during Construction: And Now, A Word from The Pressinatrix

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

How were the instructions? They were fine. This is a pretty straightforward pattern to make.

Construction Notes: I started with a 12 at the shoulders, tapering to a 14 at the side armhole seam. I didn’t do a FBA, because the flat pattern measurements at a 14 seemed to obviate the need for it, and in fact it wasn’t necessary.

Likes/Dislikes: I like the cut, and it is a great length for me. The neckline is pretty wide, and it does just barely show my bra straps, so I’ll put lingerie guards in to keep it properly in place. The back is low cut, but not so low that my bra band shows.

Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? Yes and yes. This pattern is listed as out of print on McCalls’ website, but I saw it in the drawers at my local Joann last week, so you may still be able to buy it. Here are pictures on Shelley:

and Front

All in all a great top.
Happy sewing!

Pattern Review: Butterick 6243 Dress and Jacket

Pattern Description: Semi-fitted, unlined jacket has collar, side-front and side-back seams, and back button closing. Dress has fitted, lined bodice and midriff, semi-fitted skirt, and back zipper and vent.

Sizing: 6-22. I made a 14.

Available as a PDF? No

Fabric Used: Italian Lightweight Lamé Brocade in Gold and Ivory from Gorgeous Fabrics, of course. Silk Habotai in Oyster. It sold out, sorry, but you can see other silk linings Here. The off-white habotai will work great with this fabric, too.

Machines and Tools Used: Juki 654DE serger, Pfaff 2130, Naomi the Naomoto

Needle/Notions Used: Microtex 70/10 needle, Pro Sheer Elegance Couture Interfacing, crystal buttons that have been in my stash forever, plain buttons, mesh tape invisible zipper from Botani, hook and eye, thread.

Tips Used during Construction: Make the Lining First, pretty much Anything by The Pressinatrix, Els’ Invisible Zipper Insertion Method from The Sewing Divas, Setting a Sleeve into an Armhole.

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

How were the instructions? They were quite good. I went in a different order than the instructions but they were very clear.

Construction Notes: I made this straight from the envelope with no fitting changes. I used my Pfaff to sew all the seams, and because this fabric ravels easily I finished all the seams with the serger (including the seams that are covered by lining, just for good measure).

The jacket is unlined, so you can see how I finished the seams

I stitched up the lining first, then the outer garment pieces. Per the pattern, only the bodice and midriff are lined. If I were going to do this again I would make lining pieces for the skirt as well, using the skirt pattern pieces.

Bodice lining

One thing I noticed about this pattern as it comes from the envelope is that it has a pretty pronounced hip curve. I smoothed it in the pictures, but I recommend making a muslin to see if you like the way the hip curve compares to your curves. I used larger buttons than the pattern recommends. I bought these at G Street Fabrics when it was in the old shopping plaza on Rockville Pike. They’ve been in my stash since my kids were little, so it’s nice to finally use them.

I do love a statement button. Or four!

This fabric is lightweight, so even though the buttons aren’t heavy, I reinforced them with flat buttons on the back.

Each big button has a little button for support.

Likes/Dislikes: I call this dress the “Jackie Kennedy in India Dress” because it reminds me of pictures I’ve seen of her at that time. It’s got an early-60s vibe, and you can let your inner Jackie or Audrey get their bad self down with it. The pattern is really well drafted and sews together like a breeze. I don’t have any dislikes. It’s so refreshing to not have to spend a lot of time making a muslin! 🙂

Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? I’m not sure I would do it again for myself. It’s not my style. But I definitely recommend it. This would be a great MOB/MOG dress, and the style would also look fantastic on a young woman.

Conclusion: This is for a photo shoot, and I’m going to donate it to the thrift shop near me that benefits the local humane society once everything is done. Here are shots on the mannequin:

Front of just the dress
Dress back
Back with jacket
And front with jacket

All in all, a great pattern.

Happy sewing!

Tips and Hints for Working with Sequins

One of the dresses I just completed is made with our Sequined Designer Mesh – Gunmetal. I don’t work too often with sequined fabrics; my lifestyle doesn’t call for them with any regularity. But I do love them so! The bling appeals to the Jamaica Plain girl in me, and there is nothing like walking across a stage, or across a room, and having the light catch just so on the sequins. Swoon!

Sequined fabrics can be a hard sell. Customers have told me in the past that they find them intimidating. They also can be tricky to work with. In the olden days, sequins were made of hard plastic or glass, and would break most needles if you sewed through them. These days though, the plastic used for sequins (usually mylar) is more pliable and you can sew through it. So here are a few practical tips for working with this type of fabric…

1 – Work in an area without carpeting
The upside of sequins? Glamour!  The downside?  Your work area will look like a unicorn farted all over it. If you can work in an area with tiled or hardwood floors, you will have a much easier time cleaning up afterward. There will be little sequin shards everywhere.

Fortunately, unicorn farts vacuum up readily.
Fortunately, unicorn farts vacuum up readily.

And because of those shards…

2 – Wear safety glasses
It’s true in woodworking; it’s true when working with beaded or sequined fabrics. Pieces of sequins can go flying if you cut them with scissors or stitch through them with your sewing machine or serger. Don’t take a chance. Wear safety glasses. Cheater glasses will do the trick in most cases, too.

Safety Glasses
Always better to be safe than sorry

3 – Secure your seam allowances after cutting
That’s what I’m doing in the picture above. After cutting out each piece, run a line of stitching just inside the seam allowance. I use a stitch length of 2.5mm or 3mm. This will keep your sequins from coming off while you work. If you have an area, like say, a pleated back drape, where you’ll be sewing through several layers, you can pull the sequins out of the seam allowance before you sew, thus avoiding needle breakage.

As an aside – the tips I’m giving you here are not couture. I know that some folks will say, “But, Ann – you’re supposed to remove the sequins beyond the seam allowances into the garment, stitch your seams and then hand sew the sequins back on along the seams!”

I know, so sue me. Let’s face it – we’ll know it’s a bit of a cheat, but 99% of the world won’t. And besides, if anyone gets close enough to you to examine your seams for couture techniques, you have the right to slap them. Now, where were we? Ah yes…

4 – Make a full-size pattern piece and use a single layer layout

Single Layer Layout
Trust me, this will make your life so much easier.

It is so much less work and hassle in the long run to make a full-sized pattern piece. You can get the layout just right, you don’t have to worry about sequins catching on each other or the fabric sliding around. The few extra minutes it takes are well worth it.

5 – Use painters tape or masking tape to mark notches, darts etc.

I like painters tape because it comes off easily.
I like painters tape because it comes off easily.

I’ve done a blog post on this before, and it is really handy for sequined fabrics. For delicate fabric I prefer painters tape to masking tape. It comes off easier.

6 – Use a soft knit to bind exposed seam allowances

I used scraps of Swiss 4-Way Knit
I used scraps of Swiss 4-Way Knit

The dress I made is lined, except for the sleeves. I’ve owned sequined dresses that had the seams bound with organza. I find that very itchy – the sequins poke through the organza. So I prefer to bind the edges with a soft knit. In this case, I used scraps of Swiss 4-Way Knit in Black to bind the edges. It is much softer against the skin.

I hope those tips take some of the fear factor of working with sequins away for you. It really is a fun fabric to sew with, and heaven knows the results are stunning. I’ll post more about the dress itself once the photo shoot is complete. In the meanwhile,

Happy sewing!