Have you ever thought to yourself, “Hey, I’ll just use whatever interfacing is on sale, or cheapest. It doesn’t matter, right?”
Here’s a graphic example. For a super-triple-secret project I’m working on, I needed to apply interfacing to the back of a pattern piece. My thought process was, “I need to apply it to a paper piece, so a non-woven interfacing should do the trick.” I went to the local JoAnn and picked up a yard and a half of Pellon non-woven interfacing and applied it to my pattern piece.
To say it was a disaster would be kind. The Pellon wrinkled immediately, even though I had the heat set properly and I didn’t over-fuse. I pulled a piece of Fashion Sewing Supply’s Pro-Sheer Elegance Interfacing out of my stash, and applied it to another pattern piece (I had two copies of the pattern just in case, thank goodness!). I used the Exact Same (correct) Settings for both interfacings.
The difference between the cheap Pellon and the professional grade Fashion Sewing Supply is stark. Imagine, if cheap interfacing gives you that kind of result on paper, what will it do to your garment? Kittens, you deserve better than a wrinkly mess. Make sure you use good interfacings. You’re worth it!
I was not solicited, paid for or compensated in any way for this post. I was just appalled at the results I got from the Pellon, and pleased with those from Fashion Sewing Supply.
Pattern Description: From Vogue Patterns’ website, “Semi-fitted, pullover tunic have contrast inset at center front, contrast binding and uneven hemline: wrong side of fabric will show. Loose-fitting pants have no waist band. C: Contrast insets and binding. D: Contrast binding.”
I made View A, the shorter tunic, along with View D, the longer pants.
Sizing: 6-22. I made a 12 for the tunic, and a 14 for the pants, though I think I could have used size 12 all the way through with no ill effects.
Did it look like the photo or drawing when you got through? Yes
Fitting Adjustments that I made I checked the pattern measurements and determined that I would need a FBA.
I made a muslin of the result, and I was happy with it (you can see it in my Instagram Feed), so I started in on the linen.
How were the instructions? They were GREAT!!! Seriously, and you know how fussy I am about instructions. The drafting and instructions for doing the mitered corners on the tunic make this pattern a must-buy for anyone, IMO.
True confession – I lost the second sheet of instructions and they didn’t show up until I had finished and cleaned up my sewing area, so I didn’t use them for the bulk of the pants construction, but the pants are beautifully drafted and went together without a hitch. Also, when I did find the instructions, I checked them out and the second page is just as good as the first.
Construction Notes: As mentioned above, I made a FBA. I finished the facings, per the instructions, with a Hong Kong finish using bias cut silk organza. To tell you the truth, I didn’t bother using the pieces provided in the pattern for the bias binding, I just cut long 1 ¼ inch bias strips and that did the trick. I used the serger to finish all the seams.
I didn’t have a brown invisible zipper handy, so I did a lapped zipper application instead. It’s not my absolute best work, but it will be hidden under the tunic, so I decided it was Good Enough.
There is one thing I would probably do differently next time. The neckline is cut on the bias, so I recommend staying the front neckline with a selvage of silk organza or a twill tape. It is faced, and the facing is interfaced, but I think that a bulk-free stay with organza would also help keep it from distorting.
Likes/Dislikes: I LOVE this pattern! It’s chic, and looks great on a variety of body types. The mitering instructions alone justify purchasing this pattern, but the rest of it is great, too. I’m going to wear this as separates as well. The tunic will look great over leggings, and the pants work beautifully with a tank or tee.
Here are some styling suggestions:
Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? I DEFINITELY recommend it! I may do it again. You know what would be fabulous for the holiday season? Make this using 4-ply silk crepe. Oo la la!
Conclusion: I love this pattern. It’s very Balenciaga-goes-Japonesque. It’s rated as Average, but I think it is suitable for advanced beginner or beyond.
A Note About Blogging
I feel like this poor blog has been suffering benign neglect of late. I am much more active these days on Instagram, where you can see my work-in-progress pictures. I am not giving up blogging. As I complete projects I’ll post them here, but you’ll see me more actively over on IG. You can check it out from the web, without having to set up an account. Click Here to find me on Instagram.
Pattern Description: From McCalls’ website, “Semi-fitted collared shirt and dresses have front and back princess seams, front and back yoke, sleeve and length variations. A: Shirttail hem. A, B, C: Long sleeves with pleat and button cuff. A, C, D: Pockets. C, D: Self-belt. C: Button tabs. D: Sleeveless.”
I made View D, but I cut it off at the length for View C and omitted the breast pockets and self-belt.
Needle/Notions Used: Fusible interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply. I don’t see this one on the site, so it may be discontinued, but I would use ProSheer Elegance. Universal 70/10 needle, iron, ironing board, sleeve board, silk organza press cloth, buttons, thread.
Did it look like the photo or drawing when you got through? Yes, though mine is shorter than the pattern as sold.
Fitting Adjustments that I made This is a Palmer/Pletsch pattern, which gives loads of instructions and lines on the pattern for adjusting the fit. I love these patterns for that reason. I made a straight up muslin and it fit pretty well, but not perfectly. I made a full bust adjustment, along with a small swayback adjustment. The FBA gave me more ease through the waist, so I’ll probably wear this with a belt, though it looks nice without one. I also adjusted the left shoulder to remove gapping at the back of the armhole thanks to a skiing accident 6 years ago.
How were the instructions? Good. This is a pretty straightforward design, and the Palmer-Pletsch fitting instructions are always excellent.
Construction Notes: The stripes on this fabric run from selvage to selvage, so I used a cross-grain layout. I toyed with the idea of cutting the center front bands and yokes on the bias, but I decided to go with the straight grain/cross grain instead.
I sewed the seams with a 2.5 mm stitch, and used a 3-thread overlock stitch to finish all the raw edges. I didn’t bother to topstitch the princess seams because I wanted to keep the look more airy than structured. I used a selvage of silk organza to stabilize the bias opening edge of the pockets.
One thing I noted on my Instagram Feed is that, when dealing with bias facings, like those used on this pattern, you need to treat them gently so they don’t stretch out too much in advance of sewing them in place. In this case, I cut out the fabric a couple of weeks ago, and in the moving around of pattern pieces over that time, one of the facings got stretched way out. Fortunately I had enough fabric to re-cut, but it’s worth keeping bias pieces out of the way and out of traffic. And when sewing and pressing them, treat them kindly and don’t apply too much tension or pressure to them. You’ll be glad you did.
I turned up the hem, trimmed it to 5/8″ and made a narrow hem. For that, and all topstitching, I used a 3.5 mm stitch length.
Likes/Dislikes: This pattern is very well drafted, and as noted above, the fitting instructions are excellent.
Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? I probably won’t do it again, just because I have lots of other patterns I want to make. But I will be traveling this summer and this will be coming with me. I definitely recommend it.
Conclusion: A great pattern! Here are pictures on Shelley:
Haven’t been doing much sewing lately because…
DS the Elder graduated from UMass! What a wonderful Mother’s Day gift that was. I wore my Butterick B6446 and my Vogue V1527 coat. One of the physics professors (his major) stopped me in the hallway to say, “That’s a beautiful coat!” That made my day 😊
After the Paco Peralta Coat, I wanted something easy, so I rummaged through my pattern stash and came up with McCalls 7249. It’s getting warmer and I thought the sleeveless version would be nice. It only has 3 pattern pieces, so even better!
The pattern calls for “Jerseys, Cotton Knit, Silk Spun Knit.” I used rayon jersey left over from last year’s (successful) Butterick Jumpsuit.
The front piece has two overlays that are gathered into the side seams. That’s where the first issue showed up. The overlays are self-faced on both the top and bottom. That’s where the second issue showed up. They are both sewn at the neckline to the v-necked under piece. That’s where the third problem showed up. The pattern is “designed” to be with sleeves or sleeveless, using the same front and back pieces. That’s where the fourth problem showed up.
As I gathered the overlay, I thought, “That’s an awful lot of fabric going into the side seams.” There are three layers, the middle of which is about a 3:1 gathering ratio. That’s a lot of bulk, even in a lightweight fabric. Another issue I noticed was that the gathered side pooched out at the top.
Second problem, and this was a real issue with my fabric: the overlays are self-faced on the top and the bottom. The facing on the bottom is about 1 ¼ inches deep. With my nice soft rayon jersey, the facing kept falling down, so I ended up sewing the facing in place, which IMO ruins the line.
Also, the upper facing kept flipping outward as well. This was on a dress form, so you can imagine how often I would be tucking it back in during the course of a day.
As you can see from this picture, the third problem appeared at the neckline. The weight of the two overlays pulled the under-bodice to the outside. I tried every which way from Sunday to fix it, but nothing worked. It kept falling outward no matter what I did.
The fourth problem is that McCalls doesn’t give a separate armhole for the sleeveless version, so the armhole gaps like crazy. I should have anticipated this, but if you recall at the beginning I said I was looking for something easy.
Before hemming it, I decided to try it on and see how I liked it.
The good news is I saved myself hemming it. This one is going straight to the fabric recycler in our town. Here are better lit shots on Shelley. You can decide for yourself if you think this is worth your time.
Well, not everything turns out to be a winner, even in my sewing room. I always ask the questions in reviews, “Would you sew it again, and would you recommend it?” Unfortunately with this one, the answer to both questions is “No.”
Reviews like this are never fun to write, but hopefully they are helpful. It doesn’t make me hate McCalls. In fact my next project is a Palmer/Pletsch shirtdress that I’ll make with a fabulous Textured Cotton Shirt-Weight from Gorgeous Fabrics. More on that later.
Good afternoon, campers! I’ve been busy as can be on several things. You’ll see the fruits of my labors over the next days, and if you follow me on Instagram you can see the slow progress I’m making on my current project. But in the meanwhile, here’s a post that everyone seems to love: Gorgeous Fabrics/pattern combinations to make your own versions of the most current trends in fashion!
All the top models are sporting denim this spring, but not the skinny jeans that have been so ubiquitous in the last couple of years. No, the silhouettes range from voluminous dresses worthy of Tilda Swinton to denim “suits” done up with mom-jeans and jean jackets. My personal favorite is the one that Vogue showed on model Frederikke Sofie in Paris: an easy coat thrown over a denim jumpsuit. Make your very own version by pairing Stretch Denim – Black Wash with McCalls M7330 jumpsuit. Finish it off with a chic topper made by combining Italian Suit Weight Flannel – Black with Burda Style 01/2016 #127 Shell Jacket. You’ll have a look you can wear three seasons of the year! (skip the cigarette, though)
The blush pink trend that launched in 2016 shows no signs of abating. A look I love takes a mannish suit and makes it in pink. The pink tones down the androgyny while the androgynous cut of the suit takes away any saccharine tendencies of the pink. To get the look, pair our Italian Double Faced Satin – Peach Puree/Blossom Pink with Named Patterns’ Aava Tailored Blazer and StyleArc’s Eddie Pleated Pants. Now, that’s a uniform for a tough-gal princess. Oh, and an added bonus – if you don’t want all pink all the time, you can make the jacket using one face of the fabric, and the pants from the other.
Save on All the Featured Fabrics Through Friday!
And to give you even more inspiration, you can save 20% on each of the fabrics featured in this article through Friday, April 21st!
No coupon necessary, the markdown is already taken for you.
I hope that gives you some inspiration for your spring sewing. Spring is coming to Boston – slowly! Until next time, which should be soon…
Before I say anything else, let me tell you that today, I got sent home by The Elves. I had a cold two weeks ago. I got over it, then DH got a cold and just before he left for San Francisco for business, he gave it to me. So today I went back to the office after an appointment that I couldn’t cancel, coughing up a lung. The Elves looked at each other and threw me out. Of course, by the time I got home, my cold medicine finally kicked in, so I couldn’t even go to sleep. What to do? Finish the blouse I started the other day, so here you go. Pardon me if the cold medicine wears off while I’m typing.
Pattern Description: The description/background from The Makers’ Atelier goes on pretty long, so to save you the TL;dr, here’s my summation: Very loose fitting, front button blouse with dropped shoulders, neckline tie and long sleeves. Two hem length variations.
Sizing: 1-8 I made a size 1-2, and it’s pretty roomy. Make that really roomy. To give you a comparison, I take a 12-14 in big 4, and an 8-10 in RTW.
Available as a PDF? No, it’s part of the pattern set in the book.
The biggest sin in this pattern is that there is NO SHOULDER NOTCH on the sleeve!!! There is a front notch, and there is a back notch, but no shoulder notch, and the instructions tell you to gently ease the shoulder cap. I can’t make this up, so I took a picture.
I sent messages to three friends who are professional designers with backgrounds in pattern making and they were all shocked. As one of them said, there are three match points on any sleeve: Shoulder, front and underarm. I’m sorry to be a negative Nelly, but this is pretty… un… bush… I can’t even. Cold medicine talking but still. No shoulder notch.
Another designer said this method can work for knit garments, but this pattern is designed for lightweight wovens. I made mine in a cotton voile that is pretty gauzy. It has a fair amount of mechanical stretch, but with something like a silk crepe de chine or a cotton shirting, inserting the sleeve the way they say, with no shoulder notch could be problematic or worse.
Oh and the hemming instructions are just pthbbbt. Don’t even bother. Make your hem the way you do with any Big Four blouse: turn the facing so it faces the outer side of the garment, sew the hem at the facing, turn right side out and then make a narrow hem.
Likes/Dislikes: Now, despite my crank factor, this is a good pattern. It has great bones, and it goes together well. IFyou already know what you are doing. I describe the aesthetic as Eileen Fisher meets Japanese boutique. It’s simple, and easy, and if it’s your thing it’s great. The instructions? Not so great, at least for this blouse.
Also, a point of style – this blouse may be a little low cut for some. You can remedy much of that by making a wider tie (the book has instructions for that) or by redrafting the front collar to raise it up a bit. You also really need to make this in a very drapey fabric. Any stiff cotton or linen will NOT work well for this.
Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? Uh, hmmmm. No, and maybe with a lot of caveats. I think the blouse itself has good bones. The instructions were not good, but I was able to make it well because I know what I’m doing. I know that’s harsh, but it’s an expensive book, so I want you go to into it with eyes open.
Conclusion: Despite everything I came out with a blouse that I will wear and which I made well. If you know what you are about, you can make this work. I may have made the second most complex pattern in the book (there’s a pair of cigarette pants that I would bet have their own challenges). Here are pictures on Shelley. I’ll try to get pictures on me when I don’t look like death warmed over:
Well, that’s enough for tonight. I hope you are all feeling better than I am.
Snow Day! I seem to get either my baking or my sewing mojo going during snowstorms. Today we have had at least 6 inches of snow -they’ve been forecasting a foot- and my sewing mojo made an appearance like a long lost cousin of Punxatauney Phil. Yay! I rummaged through my (long neglected) pattern collection and found this gem. I previously made the maxi dress, but I wanted something I can layer over tee shirts and tanks as the weather gets warmer. A girl can dream, can’t she? This fit the bill perfectly!
Pattern Description: From McCalls’ website, “Close-fitting, unlined jacket in 2 lengths has front extending into single-layer tie ends (wrong side shows). A: Three-quarter length sleeves. B: Long sleeves. Very close-fitting, pullover dresses are sleeveless. E, F: Racerback straps, front seam detail, bias upper/middle fronts, and lower front/back (cut on crosswise grain of fabric. All have narrow hems. F: Star detail.”
I made view A, the shorter bolero with ¾ length sleeves.
Sizing: 6-22. I made the 12.
Available as a PDF? I thought it was when I made it before, but now it appears not.
Fabric Used: Silk jersey in Soft Mauve from Gorgeous Fabrics. It’s long since sold out, sorry, but there are a few Here
Did it look like the photo or drawing when you got through? Yes
How were the instructions? I did look at the instructions after I finished and they seem fine. I didn’t need them during construction, since this is pretty straightforward.
Construction Notes: I made a FBA. I also applied scraps of woven interfacing to the shoulder seams to stabilize them. I serged the seams. I Flat Set the Sleeves.
I made narrow hems all around the edges.
All in all, this took an afternoon to make, and that was with long breaks for checking in on orders and emails. I’d estimate this took me about 3 hours from first cutting out to final stitch.
Likes/Dislikes: Love it! This will make a great piece for transitioning from winter to spring. It’s also will be pretty tossed over a tank or dress for cool summer evenings.
Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? Yes and yes! This one will definitely go into rotation. Great pattern. I made this one from silk jersey, but I’ll make a more “workaday” version with ITY.
Here are pictures on Shelley:
Conclusion: A great pattern, this will get lots of wear. It’s easy enough for beginners, but also a great wardrobe component.
Happy New Year, everyone! I know it’s been the better part of a month since I posted. Lots happened. I went on a bucket list trip. The website will be back up and running shortly (big updates, meaning little things broke and we want to fix them).
In the meantime, I want to share with you my favorite pattern companies. I try very hard to be egalitarian with my recommendations for patterns for the fabrics on Gorgeous Fabrics, but these are the ones that I sew for myself.
I’ve sewn Vogue patterns since I was a teenager. They are the gold standard for designer patterns. They went through a bit of a fallow period, but recently they have brought in new designers, and the results are great! And hey, they have recently engaged with one of my favorite pattern designers…
BCN Unique Patterns (aka Paco Peralta Patterns)
Classic, Barcelona (the home of Balenciaga) inspired, fabulous for any age patterns. Amazing drafting, beautiful lines. Total LURVE! Full disclosure, Paco is a dear friend, but still – the patterns are great.
If you want to copy recent ready-to-wear, this is the company that you want to hook your little red wagon to. Recently they have embraced the athleisure wear trend, and that’s fine, but I really like their more structured looks.
Couture patterns, meant for those who really (really) know what they are doing, but drafted so well that the less complicated ones are pretty easy to figure out. No instructions, no seam allowances. You are on your own but the results are almost universally FANTASTIC!
If you want casual clothing with a truly RTW fit, and easy sewing, great drafting and adherence to trends without going all wacky, this is the line for you. Emilie and her mom design and grade the patterns, and most of them (all of them?) come in sizes from les petites to femmes/hommes and they all seem to fit beautifully. A real treat!
Lots of new stuff is coming once we get the small broken shoelace module *cough*shipping*cough* fixed on the site. It should be back tomorrow, and thanks for your patience.
Just to be very clear here, I have not received any recompense for this post from any pattern companies. I don’t solicit or take reimbursement for any recommendations. I really like these guys, and I hope you will too!
One of the things customers tell me they really like about Gorgeous Fabrics is our recommendations for patterns to pair with our fabrics. It’s one of the more fun aspects of my job, so today, I’ll talk about some of the newer patterns that have hit the market, and give you some suggestions for Gorgeous Fabrics that I think will work spectacularly well with them. Enjoy! -Ann
Dress for Success
It’s heading into cooler weather here in the US, while our friends in the southern hemisphere are starting to warm up. A great silhouette that works for almost all seasons is the classic wrap dress. And one of the favorites of our customers is the Appleton Dress from Cashmerette. This great take on the look is perfectly suited to any of our ITY or rayon jerseys. It’s even a brilliant choice for some of our stretchier rayon doubleknits. Those will give you options for cooler weather. The three perfect pairings I’ve picked for this dress include, from the top:
Any of these will give you everything from work-ready to holiday party options!
Button Up Your Overcoat…
One of the hottest looks in outerwear right now is the anorak jacket. Closet Case Files just released their Kelly Anorak, and it’s got all the details you want! While traditionally thought of as cold-weather or rain gear, this jacket is more versatile – just think a little outside the box! You can, of course, make it into a hard-working, long-wearing coat for cooler weather, but it also makes a surprisingly elegant turn for an evening or dressier look with different fabrics. Try a satin or taffeta version for a fun, designer-inspired look! Check out these two options for dressing down or dressing up:
I can’t live without my jeans. Even though I love dressing up, jeans are my go-to garment on many days. There are tons of great jeans patterns available to the home-sewing enthusiast, from classic 5-pocket versions to the more athleisurely take on the look: pull on stretch jeans. StyleArc has come out with a great pattern for this comfortable wardrobe staple, the Georgie Stretch Woven Jean. Make a “classic” take on it with:
Jacked Up Jackets
A great jacket or blazer is a cornerstone of any wardrobe, and as sewing enthusiasts, we can make all different styles! One that just came on the market is McCalls M7513 Peplum Jacket. I really love that this pattern gives you both sleek and “foofy” options for the peplum, so you have lots of variety by varying peplum and fabric. From a tailored version with wool, to a fun animal print for dinner or weekends, to a showstopper in brocade, this versatile jacket can take you just about anywhere! Try it with:
With the holidays just around the corner, let’s finish with a formal look. This one comes from my friend Paco Peralta, a couturier in Barcelona, by way of Vogue 1527. This three-piece outfit includes a lovely straight skirt, a blouse with a jabot style tie and (this is what I adore) a long tuxedo style jacket. On the pattern, they show it in black and white. But for holiday, I love it with a rich red and black print blouse. It’s beautiful, and it evokes Spain! I would make this (actually I will make this) with these three fabrics for the tux, blouse and trim for the collar. From the top:
I hope this gives you a little inspiration, and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading it as much as I have putting it together for you.
Note: I have no affiliation with any of the pattern companies mentioned here, and I receive no financial compensation for mentioning their patterns or linking to them. In fact, they have no idea I wrote this post, so click away with a clear conscience!
My dear friend, Paco Peralta, couturier extraordinaire of Barcelona, was just published for the first time this week in the Winter/Holiday edition of Vogue Patterns. ¡YAY Paco! ¡Congratulations and felicidades!
Paco and I were internet friends for years, but I had the delightful opportunity to meet him and spend an afternoon with him, his sister, and our friend Vera when DH and I visited Barcelona a couple of years back. He is an absolute love, and his sister, Isabel, is just as wonderful. We had the greatest time, and I can’t wait to go back and see him again. Next time I’ll brush up on my Spanish!