Shameless Plug: HotPatterns Cosmopolitan Dress Reissue

I just got an email from our friends at HotPatterns. They have just done a (very!) limited re-issue of their cult-favorite Cosmopolitan Dress. This is one of my favorite dress patterns ever. In fact, it was the pattern that launched Gorgeous Fabrics, so it has a very special place in my heart. But according to the email there are only 100 copies available, so I wouldn’t wait if you want one for yourself!

The dress that started it all (left), and one that I made later. Love them both!
The dress that started it all (left), and one that I made later. Love them both!

NAYY, just love this pattern and now’s your chance to get it!

Happy sewing!

Refashioning a Heinous Bathrobe into a More Or Less Cute Spa Wrap

This is a rerun of a review of Kwik Sew 2691 I did several years back. But it still resonates (and yes, Ma is still around, but has given up on trying to hand off bathrobes). BTW, the pattern is out of print.

OOP Spa Wrap
OOP Spa Wrap

Ah, mothers. To paraphrase comedian Steven Wright, you can’t live with them, and you can’t shoot them. Oh, did I say that? Don’t get me wrong, I love my mother. She came to stay with us a few weeks back, and this was the conversation….

“Ann, I brought you a robe.”

“Oh, Ma, that’s really nice, but I have a really nice fleece robe the boys gave me for Christmas.

“Well, I want you to have this robe.”

Well, Ma, I have this really nice robe from the boys, see?”

“Well, Ann, I want you to have this robe. I bought it and it’s too long for me”

Okay, now here’s the visual – I’m 5’7″. My mom is 4’10”, in heels. I read Vogue, Allure, Industry and Accessories magazines. She reads Colonial Life and Georgette Heyer novels. I’m not even convinced we are related -I’m sure there was a mixup in the nursery at Lynn City Hospital. Then I look at my nose and I see her. Sigh…. Anyway, there is no way I can graciously get out of taking this:

That is one ugly robe
That is one ugly robe

So I take it. (Smile nice, Ann. Ma always taught you that if you didn’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything, right?).

“Gee, thanks Ma.”

Mom goes home. House is back to normal. Bathrobe is forgotten under the pile of laundry I just put away for the first time in about a month. Folding laundry… What is that? Oh yeah, Ma’s heinous robe. Internal debate ensues. Should I give it to Goodwill? Should I make dust rags? Can I turn this into anything? Hmmm… I bet I can recycle this into something useful! A spa wrap! Now we’re cooking with gas!

Pattern Description: Misses spa wraps in two styles, with matching headband. I made View A, sort of.

Pattern Sizing: XS-XL. I made XS

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? More or less. I had to make some changes thanks to fabric constrictions. See more below.

Were the instructions easy to follow? Very.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? Right place, right time, wrong robe.

Fabric Used: French terry recycled from a heinous robe my mother gave me. Did I mention I think the robe was really heinous? I trimmed it with spring green piping that was in my stash for years. This is one of those trims that I bought and never used. Now I can’t remember what I bought it for, but when I put it against the pale yellow of the robe, the whole thing just popped!

Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made: Okay, let’s start at the beginning…. This robe is a wrap style whose pattern pieces extend about 3″ beyond center front. If you look at the original Heinous Robe, you’ll see that it has a CF with snap closures. The fronts didn’t have enough room to make the entire pattern piece without removing the snaps and opening out the facings, so I decided instead to use the snaps as the CF closures for the wrap as well. This necessitated changes in the piping. The pattern has you put piping all across the front pieces, down to the hem. I just placed the piping on the top of the front pieces.

In the pattern directions, they have you insert a casing for the elastic at the waist. Then instead of having you make a similar casing at the top edge of the wrap, they have you attach the elastic at the side seams and fold the elastic and the raw top edge of the wrap down, then sew in place. I decided instead to make an upper casing by folding the top of the wrap. I sewed close to the raw edge, then threaded through the casing and basting at the sides. This then gets sewn into the side seams. Here’s a picture of the finished garment so you can see the results:

Less heinous
Less heinous

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Yes and yes. This version was heavily modified, since I started with a RTW garment and re-did it. But I would definitely try this again.

Happy sewing!

A Beautiful Weekend – Mostly

Happy Tuesday! If you’re in the US, I hope you had a great long weekend. We had absolutely glorious weather. We started out the weekend with dinner at BFF Barb’s house. Saturday night we went to see “Dark Shadows”, which was campy fun. Then Sunday, we went to see Phyllis‘ daughters perform in their dance recital. DS the younger is going to take the 2-week summer intensive program with them at their school and he wanted to see the recital. What a treat that was! Seriously, some of The Gold School dancers rival professional groups I’ve seen. I’m not a dance expert, but I was impressed! Afterward we went back to Phyllis’ for dinner and a great time.

Yesterday we spent much of the day planting herbs and tomatoes. I’m not a huge gardener, so we just planted a whole lot of pots on and next to the deck. Next year I would like to put in a small plot and grow cucumbers and maybe some lettuce, but this year we’ll stick with containers.

Once that was done. I decided to get to work on my Hotpatterns Summer Breeze top. After several hours, I managed to wrestle it into this.

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And that’s all I have to say about that. 🙁

Other than that, it was a lovely weekend, spent with friends and family, remembering loved ones who have gone before us, and enjoying the beautiful weather. I’m waiting for my StyleArc patterns to arrive, then I’ll dive into them. Once I do I’ll give a full review. Until then…

Happy sewing!

Compare/Contrast: HP Cosmopolitan and McCalls 5974

Cynth posted this question on My Review of McCalls 5974:
How does this pattern compare to the Hot Patterns Cosmopolitan Dress? They look quite similar.

Excellent question, and one that I thought might make a good blog post. I’ve made both versions of both patterns. I happen to love both patterns as well, and I would make both of them again and recommend them to other sewing enthusiasts. So let’s have a look at how they compare, shall we? We’ll start with the technical drawing.

McCalls 5974
McCalls 5974
Hotpatterns Cosmopolitan Dress

The McCalls 5974 is drafted for moderate stretch knits only. The Hotpatterns Cosmopolitan can be sewn with either knits or wovens.

Both dresses have scoop and mock-wrap neckline options. Both have front midriff bands. The Cosmopolitan has a back midriff band as well. 5974 doesn’t. Both have CB seams, allowing for easier fitting. Both have CB zippers. Both have midriff ties, though the tie on the McCalls is only on the mock-wrap version. Of course, we sewing gods and goddesses don’t let that stop us, do we?

5974 has options for short-, bracelet- or full-length straight sleeves. Cosmopolitan has scarf sleeves or long sleeves with gathered cuffs and button closures. Cosmopolitan has side darts in the bodice front and waist darts in the bodice back for fitting. 5974 has pleats in the bodice front. The back of 5974 is dartless.

5974 is a Palmer/Pletsch pattern. It has lines already printed on the pattern pieces for fitting adjustments using the Palmer/Pletsch methodology. Cosmopolitan doesn’t have these printed on it, but if you have Fit for Real People, or any other good fitting book, you can easily make the adjustments yourself. Both patterns are well drafted and go together with ease.

5974 uses “Big Four” sizing. I take between a 12 and 14 in that size standard. Hotpatterns uses sizing that is closer to ready-to-wear. I take between an 8 and a 10 in that size chart. The Cosmopolitan Dress pattern contains all sizes from 6-26 in the envelope. McCalls 5974 has two size ranges: Misses 8-16 and Women 18W-24W. The two size ranges are sold separately. Because the Cosmopolitan is drafted for both knits and wovens, it has a bit more ease than 5974. When assessing which size to make in the Cosmopolitan, you might want to size down slightly if you are using a knit.

The bodice front pieces on the mock-wrap neckline version of McCalls 5974 extend about 3 inches beyond the center front. In the Cosmopolitan, the bodice fronts extend to the side seam, giving more of a surplice effect. Cosmopolitan uses a facing for its neckline finish, which I ignored. I bound the edges instead. 5974 calls for a narrow hem at the neckline.

Bodice Front of 5974. You can see the pleats and the overlap.
Cosmopolitan Bodice Front. The bodice extends from side seam to side seam

In my wearing experience, the cut of the McCalls 5974 sits higher on me than the Cosmopolitan does. It’s not a huge difference, and I think it has more to do with the pleating in the bodice of 5974 than with anything else.

The midriff wrap ties are also different. Both are sewn into the side seams. In the Cosmopolitan, they are the same width as the midriff band.

Cosmopolitan Midriff Band

While the ties in 5974 open out about 10 inches away from the seams and are sewn into the side seam in a single layer. They extend about 3 inches on either side of the midriff band:

Oh man, my bed is covered with dog hair!

Both dresses have flared skirts. They both end around the knee. Both are very flattering to wear.

So what’s the conclusion? They’re both great dresses. They are pretty similar, but there are enough style differences that you may want to choose one or the other.

What’s up this week???

Is the moon in grouchy, or worse this week? I’m not sure if it’s the change of season, the economy, the phase of the moon or what – but people have been snarky to the point of unpleasantness. It reached a crescendo yesterday, when I witnessed anti-Irish sentiment from several surprising quarters. I thought spin class was immune to it, but when the Irish music came on, a few people made some very nasty comments. I also saw some mean-spirited commentary online. It’s not only about the Irish. St. Patrick’s Day just brought that out, I think. I’m hoping it will pass.

Anyway, enough of that. Have a great weekend and happy sewing!

Pattern Review – Hotpatterns Marrakesh Pants

Pattern Description: From Hotpatterns’ Website – “Fabulously relaxed glamour in these stunning pants, designed for a drapey pants-weight fabric…try a fluid washed linen, heavy rayon blends, single or double knits or heavy crepe. Relaxed-fit straight leg pants sit around 1” below the natural waist and feature a drawstring waist with fly front zipper. Side seam pockets are topstitched down. Pants finish with a deep hem; optional buttoned tab allows the pants to also be worn rolled up. These are the perfect relaxed Pants and an essential addition to your HotPatterns wardrobe… relaxed at the waist but sleek over the tummy, hips and derriere. Make them in crepe and wear with a sequined tank for a modern night-time look; try them in a slouchy, fluid linen with a drapey knit top and soft jacket for everyday chic, or wear them in a stable cashmere knit with a matching Tshirt for superior lounging gear.”

Sizing: 6-24. I made a 10

Fabric Used: Italian Stretch Linen in a deep olivey green, from Gorgeous Fabrics, natch.

For the waistband and pocket linings I used a cotton batik from Androsia in the Bahamas that I found hiding in my stash. It’s at least 6 years old, probably 7 or 8. It has a lovely conch shell motif on it.

Needle/Notions Used: Stretch 11/75 needle, a couple of scraps of woven fusible interfacing, 5/8″ elastic, one snap, a 7 inch zipper, Gutterman thread.

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

How were the instructions? Meh. They aren’t terrible, but I wasn’t really thrilled with them. There are mistakes that should be fixed. Things like telling you to cut strips of interfacing for the fronts where the zipper will be placed. The instructions tell you to cut them 9 inches by 1 inch. In fact, the zipper closure for size 10 is 6 1/2 inches. So if you follow the instructions, you’ll have interfacing extending into the body of the garment.

Also, the instructions tell you to cut a piece of elastic 1/3 the measurement of your waist. In my case, that was too long. I took 5 inches off the elastic. That worked much better.

Construction Notes: First, if you are taller than 5’6″, you will want to add length to the legs. I’m 5’6″ and to get the length I want for these pants, I used a 1 inch hem. If you’re tall, be prepared to add on to the legs.

I cheated on the waistband. I’ll admit it. I copied a pair of Loft pants that I have and just sewed both raw edges of the waistband to the raw edge of the pants. Then I finished the edges with a three-thread overlock. I tacked down the SA’s at the side and back seams, and at the front. Hey, it works!

I also decided to have a little fun with the seam finishes, and I used bright red thread in my overlocker.

 Nail polish color: Fiercely Fiona by OPI

Likes/Dislikes: I like the style of these pants. I like the fact that they go together easily. I like the way they look on me.

Now for the dislikes. Okay, first let me say that these pants turned out really well. So, none of the issues I’m about to discuss are dealbreakers. All of the following are what I call “broken shoelaces” – little things that are minor irritants.

First, I’m not satisfied with the placement of the buttonholes for the drawstrings. They are (IMO) too close to the center front. Do yourself a favor and do a quick mockup of the waistline and determine where you want the openings. I think you will want to move them.

Second, the pockets are one size fits all. That’s fine for sizes above 10. But if you are making a 10, 8 or 6, the topstitching for the pockets and the topstitching for the fly front will intersect and/or conflict with each other. I ended up topstitching a second time over the fly, ending at the curve of the fly-front. Then I turned the garment over and, working from the back side, I stitched the rest of the way around the pocket. You can see a picture here:

If you look about halfway down the pocket, you’ll see where I stopped the stitching on the front and picked it up again from the back. This works because I was using matching thread. If you want to use contrast thread, you will need to work out your construction steps differently.

There were also a few other really minor things that I wish were different. For instance, there are next to no notches on this pattern. There are notches at the bottom of the pant legs, and there is a double notch at the back seam. That works fine for me. But I could see the usefulness of having notches or markings at the bottom of the pockets. Also, there is no marking, at least on the pattern that I have, for the button/buttonhole placement at the top of the zipper. Deal breaker? No. But the pattern is listed as being appropriate for advanced beginners, so I think it would be nice to have these things laid out explicitly.

Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? I may do it again. I would recommend it for confident sewers. It’s not difficult, and it does produce a great result.

Conclusion: Here’s a picture on Shelley

Now What?

Have you ever had one of those days? I’ve had two. In a row. I’m not going to bore you with the details, but I can say that one of the problems was of my doing, the rest were not. Give me a gun and a bottle of scotch.

Edited to clarify – the problems didn’t have anything to do with cancer. One was that I inadvertently hurt a friend’s feelings and the others had to do with a supplier to my business. I’m okay, really! Thanks for the concern!

Anyway, now that life is settling back into normal, I need a project to get me through the rest of summer and into transitional. So I think I’ll hop on the Marrakesh Express and make a pair of pants:

I think I’ll make them from this Stretch Linen

I like it because I can wear it now through the cold weather. If we ever get cold weather, that is. I know, the Northeast hasn’t been hit as hard as the rest of the country so I shouldn’t whine, but it’s been that kind of two days.

I also dug this Jalie pattern out of my stash:

I’ve had it in my stash for several years. I think I’m the only person in North America who hasn’t made it yet, so it’s time to get on it. I’m just going to make it from a White Rayon Jersey. I may also make the sleeveless version in a White Silk Jersey (sold out right now, sorry!) that I have in my stash. Those projects should keep me busy and out of trouble for a while, I hope!

Happy sewing!

Pattern Review – Hotpatterns Uptown Downtown Knit Dress

… But this one will be my Thanksgiving dress!

Pattern Description: From Hotpatterns’ website – “Simple to make and easy to wear, this super-cool Dress is a great modern take on the classic sweatshirt, and works in all sorts of knits…try T-shirting, silk-y jersey, sweatshirting, double or single knits, or ribbed knit fabrics. Use contrast or matching ribbing or self fabric to finish the neckline, hem & sleeves. Relaxed-fit Dress has a scooped balletstyle neckline and a choice of cap, elbow length or full length raglan sleeves with an overarm seam for a superior fit. Bodice can be worn bloused over the elasticated waist or dropped down onto the upper hip. Skirt finished just below the knee. We’ve included instructions for the optional narrow and Obi-style tie belts, plus the infinity scarf. Depending on your fabric and sleeve length choices, this is a true year-round style…wear it with knee high boots or opaque tights and a chunky heel when it’s chilly, try it with sheer nylons and a chic heel, or team it with strappy sandals for warm-weather style.”

Sizing: 6-26. I made a size 12

Fabric Used: NY Designer Midweight Rayon Jersey – Heathered Chocolate from Gorgeous Fabrics (of course!)

Needle/Notions Used: Well, I sewed most of this on my industrial Juki but the one part I didn’t, I used a Stretch 75/11 needle and that’s what I recommend for working with this fabric. The only other notion I used was 1/4 inch elastic.

Did it look like the photo or drawing when you got through? Yes, most definitely!

How were the instructions? They were fine. This is a beginner-rated pattern, and it went together in under 2 hours (after tracing my size).

Construction Notes: Nothing really. I’ve read some reviews where folks have said they would do the waistline elastic insertion differently, but I didn’t have any problem with it.

Any changes? Hotpatterns recommends using ribbed knit. I had a lead on a knitting company here in the States to manufacture 2 to 4 inch ribbed knit, but it appears they went out of business recently. 🙁 So I used self fabric instead and it turned out great.

Likes/Dislikes: LOVE. IT.

Let me say it again: LOVE. IT. Not just because I am a fan of Hotpatterns in general. This is a great little dress that looks terrific on lots of different body types. It’s also going to be great for Thanksgiving. Drapey, flattering, and turkey-forgiving. What’s not to love?

Also, I really like the fact that all the edges are finished with a folded knit edging. Hotpatterns recommends using rib knit. A friend gave me the name and address of a US-based rib knit manufacturer and I wanted to source from them. But alas, they seem to have gone out of business. Sigh. So I used self fabric and that worked beautifully with this knit.

Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? Oh god, yes, I’ll make this in lots of fabrications. Really. I don’t gush about many patterns but this one is great and goes together quickly. It’s flattering and you can dress it up or down.

Conclusion: Big winner! Here’s my finished version with a belt and boots. I’ll probably use a different belt (off to Nordstroms tomorrow). But I love it with boots and it’s so comfy! Here’s a picture of the finished version on Shelley.

Lingerie Lust

I haven’t had any desire to sew lingerie before. I’ve made bathrobes for various family members. But I’m not into making my own bras, panties, negligees, teddies, camisoles, garter belts, or anything like that. I think that’s about to change! Hotpatterns just released some a new collection called Boudoir of Bliss (cheeky devils, Trudy and Jeremy!) Bliss is right. There are three patterns in this collection that I’m positively drooling over. First Up, the Trousseau Nightgown and Robe.

How do I love this? Let me count the ways. I’m particularly gaga over the gown. I love the lines, I love the drape, and I just got in the most perfect 70-denier microfiber jersey to make it with. I’ll have that up on Gorgeous Fabrics tomorrow, and I’ll place an order then, too. I’m not generally a big robe gal, but I think this will make a lovely exception. And I can wear it when I don’t feel like schlubbing around (not like I ever really schlub around) in my plaid fleece robe.

The second pattern that caught my eye is the Buckingham Beauty Nightgown and Nightshirt. On nights and weekends when I am not in the mood to be a sexy thang, this is the kind of sleep shirt I love. I go for the shorter version. This will look great in a cotton shirting like this Striped Cotton Shirting in Blue and White.

The third one I want want want is the Bel-Air Lounging Pajamas. I just love the idea of making it with Silk Charmeuse in True Red, using the face for the bulk of the garment, and the matte reverse for the trim. I’ll probably make a camisole to wear underneath the robe. I like camis with my jammies. The rest of the collection looks great too. But these are the three that I’m going to buy.

I’m almost done with my dress. I got slowed up earlier this week when I got some news that knocked the wind out of my sails. But today I sat down and put it all together except the CB seam. I’m debating between a lapped zipper application or an invisible zip. I think I’ll go for the latter. I hope to have it finished by Sunday night.

Tomorrow is the monthly meeting for the New England Chapter of ASDP, of which I’m program chair. If you’re in the Boston/Worcester area, it’s going to be a great meeting and it’s open to the public! The speaker is Jennifer Stern of J Stern Designs. She’s giving a talk on making jeans, with lots of samples, examples and demonstrations. The details are as follows:
Date: Saturday November 14, 2009
Time: 1:00 PM
Cost: Free for ASDP members, $20 for the general public. It’s going to be worth it!
Address/Directions: 12 Woodward Avenue, Berlin, MA
From Route 495:Take the RT-62 W exit, EXIT 26, toward BERLIN/CLINTON. Turn LEFT onto MA-62/COOLIDGE ST. Continue to follow MA-62.  2.0 miWoodward Ave. is on the right and Town Hall is on the hill to the left at #12 Woodward Ave.

That’s all for now. I’m tired. It looks like it’ll be a good weekend to finish my dress. I’ll post pictures and lots of information as soon as it’s done.

Happy sewing!

The Pants that were Not Meant To Be

Today has been one crazy day. We’ve had people stopping by that we hadn’t seen in years, and both sons have places they had to be early. DS the elder is marching with the high school band at the Woburn Halloween Parade, a very big deal around here. DS the younger is doing an exhibition dance at Tufts University. I tried to sneak time to make my Razor Sharp Pants. I got the zipper replaced, and in doing so came up with a much better way to apply a fly zipper than any of the books and patterns tell you to. I’ll do a tutorial on that at some point. So I sat down, got the inseam sewn up and went to the serger to finish the seam allowances. The phone rang. It was a minor emergency. Done, taken care of. I sat down and started serging. The phone rang again. Another very minor crisis. I sat down and continued serging. I finished the first side and the phone rang again. This time it was DS the elder trying to figure out timing for parade and Confirmation class tonight.

Finally, I get a little uninterrupted time and I start on the other seam allowance. Halfway up, I see that tragedy has struck. Somewhere between all the phone calls on the first side, I managed to serge the center of the pant leg front into the seam allowance, cutting a big hole in the process.
Yep, that would be in front, at mid-thigh. There’s nothing to do with it but drop back and punt. Here’s the heartbreaking end to a frustrating project….
I think someone was trying to tell me something with these pants. They were just never meant to happen. I still have lots of this fabric left, and I really love it (sniff, sniff!) so I am going to start on my McCalls Dress. And this time I’m not answering the phone.

Dontcha Just Hate When that Happens?

So here I am, chugging happily away at my Razor Sharp Pants. The fly is in and looking perfect; I’m pleased with my matching of the plaid. I trimmed off the top of the zipper in preparation for applying the waistband.

Then it happened.

Yep. I did it. I pulled the zipper just a wee bit too far and….

BAMNNNFFF!

I spent a good long time ripping out the zipper to reapply it, cursing myself the entire time. That’s it. Next time I’m going to say to hell with it and shorten the zipper before applying it.

Parting Shot: Dance Exhibition!
DS the younger was in a show at the studio last night. They did a couple of group dances with a bunch of the kids. The first was just the kids
The second was kids partnered with pros from the studio. DS the younger was paired with Sarah, who’s wearing the red dress. Cool note about her – besides being a great dancer and an absolute sweetheart, she and her partner Evgeni (to her right in the back row) took 36th at the Worlds in Tokyo this year.
The kids did GREAT (the pros did okay, too) and they all had a blast.

Now back to the damned fly.
Happy sewing!