Pattern Review: McCalls M7470 Shirt Dress

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.

Sizing: 6-22. I made a 12

Available as a PDF? I don’t believe so.

Fabric Used: Textured Cotton Shirt-Weight – Blue/Teal Tones from Gorgeous Fabrics. That is, alas, sold out, but Here is the Same Fabric in a Different Colorway.

Machines and Tools Used: Pfaff 2030 sewing machine, Juki MO645DE serger

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.

Tips Used during Construction: Anything by The Pressinatrix, Sew From Wide to Narrow

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:

Front
Back

 

Left

Upper front detail
Back Yoke Detail

Haven’t been doing much sewing lately because…

Look who graduated from college!

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 😊

Well, that plus the graduation.

Happy sewing!

Pattern Review: McCalls M7249 Top

Or, “You Win Some; You Lose Some.”

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!

Easy as 1-2-3?

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.

That little flap would drive me crazy.

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.

At this point I was starting to feel very “meh” about the whole project.

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.

One photo captures two problems.

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.

When it looks lousy on the dress form, you know it’s not going to work out.

Before hemming it, I decided to try it on and see how I liked it.

There’s a whole lotta ‘meh’ going on.

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.

Happy sewing!

Pattern Review: The Maker’s Atelier Tie Front Blouse

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.

Fabric Used: Crinkle Jacquard Cotton Voile – Just Off-White (holy cow, it’s not sold out!)

Machines and Tools Used: Pfaff 2030 sewing machine, Juki serger to finish the stitched seam allowances, Reliable iron/board, ham, shoulder stand, sleeve board.

Needle/Notions Used: Universal 60/8 needle, scraps of fusible tricot interfacing, Carved Coconut Buttons from Fashion Sewing Supply, thread.

Tips Used during Construction: Anything by The Pressinatrix.

Did it look like the photo or drawing when you got through? Yes, with one minor exception/mistake that I made.

Fitting Adjustments that I made None this time – I wanted to see what the fit was straight out of the envelope. Next time I’ll do a slight FBA so the front hem doesn’t rise up.

How were the instructions? Eh… not great. To me, the instructions are pretty confusing in parts. But if you know what you are doing, you can suss it out for yourself. Here are some examples:

I thought the method for attaching the collar tie was really backwards/happy-hands-at-home. Here are pictures of some of the instructions so you can see them for yourself.

I’m sorry – WHAT is this with sewing the ends by hand???

The upshot was that I said, “to heck with it” and made the collar using the method in the Simplicity 8166 blouse instructions. Much easier.

The instructions tell you to sew the BUTTON on the right placket. I did that, and made my buttonholes on the left side, then I realized the instructions are wrong (look at the illustrations). I blame it on the cold medicine #anyportinastorm

 

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. IF you 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:

Front
Back

Well, that’s enough for tonight. I hope you are all feeling better than I am.

Happy sewing!

Sewing Book Review: The Maker’s Atelier – The Essential Collection

Feel free to click through – I make no money from it

Title: The Maker’s Atelier – The Essential Collection

Author: Frances Tobin

Publisher: Quadrille

ISBN: 9781849499040

Chapter List
Introduction
Choosing and using fabrics
Measuring, making a toile and fitting a garment
Pattern One – the stretch pencil skirt
Pattern Two – the drape front top
Pattern Three – the cigarette pants
Pattern Four – the tie neck blouse
Pattern Five – the book bag
Pattern Six – the raw edge coat
Pattern Seven – the wrap skirt
Pattern Eight – the oversized t-shirt

Paperback or Hardbound? They say paperback, I say hybrid.

Retail Price: $35 list, $26.25 from Amazon

Does the book have clear illustrations or photographs? Yes. More on that later.

What do you like about this book? 
I like that the bookbinding allows you to open the book all the way without having to split the spine. The photography is lovely and the writing style is engaging. The author clearly loves the styles she presents. While they are simple, they will make up a capsule that will either form the basis of or add to your existing wardrobe.

Each pattern chapter includes a page called “Developing the [pattern name]” which gives insight into the history of the garment type, along with the author’s thoughts about how she envisions the fit. It’s a nice primer to give sewists guidance on mixing and matching.

Each pattern chapter also includes pictures of the garment being worn by different women, so you can see it on different figure types. It has suggestions on how to wear each garment to make the most of it. The photography is beautiful, and the photos are inspiring.

What could the book do better? Well, the styles are pretty basic. It’s a reflection of the author’s aesthetic, and they are good basics. Also, the section on fabrics is… basic. If you have already read a book on fabric (like Claire Shaeffer’s Fabric Sewing Guide) you’ll know what I mean. Also, to me, the bag pattern seems like a throwaway

On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate this book in the “must have” category? Probably a 6-7. It’s good, but it’s not a must have. The photography is lovely and can be inspiring. The patterns are basic.

TBH, I have not yet made the patterns. I have fabric to make some, so I’ll review those separately when I make them. In the meantime, it’s a good book, but it’s an add-on to a library.

Happy sewing!

Pattern Review: McCalls 6996 Cardigan


Pattern Description: From McCalls’ website, “Close-fitting, unlined jackets have raised neckline with front or front band extending into gathered back collar, long sleeves and stitched hems. A, B: Lower back peplum and shaped front hemline. D: Self-belt”

I made View A.

Sizing: This is interesting. The website says 4-26, but the printed version I have is XS/S/M. I made Medium, which is equivalent to a 12/14. I can’t remember when exactly I purchased my copy, so they may have changed the sizing since I bought it.

Available as a PDF? Yes

Fabric Used: Designer Rayon Jersey in Steel, from Gorgeous Fabrics (of course).

Machines and Tools Used: Pfaff 2130, Juki MO654DE, Naomi the Naomoto/ironing board, sleeve board, ham, shoulder stand.

Needle/Notions Used: Stretch 75/11 needle, two scraps of Pro-Tricot Interfacing, selvage of silk organza, thread.

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

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

How were the instructions? They were fine. I didn’t really need them. This is a pretty simple pattern to make, and it’s really well drafted and goes together beautifully.

Construction Notes: I did a couple of things differently from the instructions. Obviously, I flat-set the sleeve, instead of setting it in the round. They have you gather each center back collar pieces to a 3 1/4 inch length of purchased seam binding. Instead, I stitched the CB collar seam, then gathered that to a single 3 1/4 inch length of silk organza selvage. I prefer silk organza to seam binding for a few reasons. One, I have it lying around my sewing room all the time, so it’s essentially free. Two, it adds no bulk, and using a single piece instead of two pieces of seam binding reduces bulk even more, and three, it’s not at all itchy.

You can see the organza peeking out under the CB seam

I also stabilized the shoulders with scraps of tricot interfacing

I did narrow hems all around

Neckline Hem

Likes/Dislikes: I love the design lines: the quasi peplum

Not too peplum-y

The angled shoulder seams

And the general drape of the garment. There’s really nothing I don’t like.

Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? Gosh yes and gosh yes! I could see making several of these, and I think they would make great holiday gifts too.

Conclusion: This pattern is a real winner! Here are pictures on Shelley. I’ll get some on me when the weather cools a bit more.

Front
and Back

My mojo is still going strong, and I’m thinking I would like to do something more along the couture lines. I have no idea what. But I’ll let you know.

In the meantime, happy sewing!

Pattern Review: StyleArc Poppy Zip Top


Pattern Description:  “This will become a wardrobe favourite. The slightly raised neckline, zip front and pleated back gives this style an elegant look that is both timeless and on trend. The design lines create a flattering shape. Make it with the new short elbow length sleeve or leave it sleeveless”

I made the sleeveless version

Sizing: 4-30. I made a 10

Available as a PDF? Yes

Fabric Used: Embroidered Cotton Eyelet – Grenadine, from Gorgeous Fabrics (of course!) And OMG, can you believe it? It’s still available on the site. What a treat! Silk organza in bright red (waiting to get more for the site).

Machines and Tools Used: Pfaff 2130, Naomi the Naomoto, ironing board, shoulder stand, ham.

Needle/Notions Used: Universal 70/10. Thread.

I used a Riri zipper that my friend Rosie sent to me from New York. Thanks Rosie!!!

Tips Used during Construction: Anything by The Pressinatrix, Sew From Wide to Narrow.

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

How were the instructions? Bare bones, typical of StyleArc. They give you the basic order of construction. Fortunately, this top is very well drafted and goes together readily.

Construction Notes: First up, I made a muslin to test this out. I took some excess ease out of the upper chest at the princess seam lines. If you follow me on Instagram (GorgeousFabrics) you can see the steps I took. Once I did that, I took the muslin apart, pressed the adjusted muslin pieces flat and used them as my pattern pieces.

To minimize show-through, I used the silk organza as interfacing instead of fusible interfacing, as recommended in the pattern. The organza blends better. The eyelet has solid borders along both selvages, and I used those as the front facings, to give more support to the zipper.

I think it gives more support and a cleaner finish.

I sewed it together per the instructions. I finished the raw edges of the facing using a zigzag stitch. I under stitched the facing at the neckline

And at the hem:

Likes/Dislikes: I love this pattern! I think it looks great on. The pleats give it a peplum-y style without a peplum. It goes together beautifully. There is one error in the pattern to be aware of. The notches on the Center Back Under-Pleat don’t match the notches on the Center Back.

The pattern pieces match otherwise, so ignore the notches and just sew them together.

Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? Absolutely, and yes! This top went together beautifully. I love the lines, and I think it’s really fun. I’ll try to get a picture of me in it this weekend. In the meantime, here are a couple of shots on Shelley.

Front
and Back

Conclusion: Another win from StyleArc!

Happy sewing!

Pattern Review: Butterick 6061 Shorts


Pattern Description: From Butterick’s website, “Semi-fitted shorts and tapered pants (below waist) have bias, front button, contour waistband, carriers, side-front pockets, mock-fly zipper and stitched hems.”

Sizing: 6-22. I made a 14

Available as a PDF? Yes

Fabric Used: A Ralph Lauren pinstriped denim from Gorgeous Fabrics (of course). That’s been sold out for a couple of years, but we have other suitable denims Here.

Machines and Tools Used: Pfaff 2130, Juki MD654DE serger, Naomi the Naomoto, ironing board, sleeve board, Clover Hold It Stiletto, silk organza press cloth.

Needle/Notions Used: Universal 70/10 needle, Japanese hand-sewing needle, Pro Weft Interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply, zipper from stash, “couture” waistband closures, thread.

Tips Used during Construction: “J” or “L”?, Anything by 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 very (very) easy pattern to sew.

Construction Notes: I made a 14, and it runs big. I could definitely go to a 12 with no ill effects. I made the shortest view (A), which comes to about mid-thigh. The fabric I’m using is a regular stripe, to to get things to match up I cut one front and back, then used that piece as the template for the other side.

Likewise for the pockets, I laid the fronts on the fabric, lining up the stripes, placed the pocket pattern piece over the front piece, lining up the markings. Then I pulled the front piece from under the pocket pattern piece and cut it out.

Anchor the pattern piece once you’ve got the layout you want, then pull the front out from under it.

I also made an effort to line up the stripes at the center front. Here, though, I made a minor boo boo. I ended up reversing the left and right waistbands, and I didn’t realize it until after I had installed the waistband closures. Doh! Oh well. It’s not that noticeable, and since I usually wear my shirts untucked unless I’ve belted the shorts, no one will see it.
Here you can see the waistband “oops”

Speaking of the waistband closure, I bought waistband hooks and eyes that you install with pliers, rather than by sewing them in. I’ve heard them called “couture closures” though I prefer the term “industrial strength.” I did a practice run with one to make sure I installed it correctly. I didn’t worry too much in the test run about placement on the stripe, obviously.

L: the components. R: installed test run

After the test I decided to add a bit of interfacing to the CF waistband on the otherwise-uninterfaced side.
Just a small square, to lend more support.

That gives the fabric a bit more support. You need to be attuned to the order of construction with these. You don’t install them at the very end like you would a regular hook/eye or a button. You have to install them before you finish sewing the waistband facing. I like them a lot. They are quite sturdy, and since one of my least favorite sewing activities is attaching hooks and eyes, the fact that these go in with just a needle nosed pliers is a big plus.

Likes/Dislikes: This is a very easy, well drafted shorts pattern. It runs big, so do be sure to check the fit. I’ll go down a size next time. The one negative thing is this pattern doesn’t include a back pocket piece. It’s a minor nit, but I like to keep my phone in my back pocket, so I’ll probably add pockets to these.

Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? Yes and yes, with that one caveat about the sizing. My husband commented yesterday when I finished, “Boy, you’ve been on a shorts jag this year.” I guess it’s true. I am contemplating another pair, maybe capri-length.

Conclusion: An easy pattern that gives good results! Here they are on Shelley:

Front

Back

I finished these in time for July 4th dinner with friends and family. I’ll leave you with a parting shot of the cocktail we had before dinner, The Cherry Bomb (thanks to Epicurious).

Love the color!

Happy sewing!

Double Header Pattern Review: McCalls 7412 Top and McCalls 6930 Shorts

McCalls 7412 Top

Let’s start at the top. I saw this pattern when it first came out, and I thought it was just adorable. It’s WAAAAAAY out of my wheelhouse, but I’ve seen women my age (and some older) wearing this kind of open shoulder top beautifully. I had some Milly fabric left over from my StyleArc Artist Tunic, so I decided to take a gamble.

Pattern Description: From McCalls website, “Loose-fitting, pullover tops and tunic have scoop neckline, cold shoulder detail, and sleeve/hemline variations. A, C, D: Flared sleeves. B: Purchased scalloped lace trim and bishop sleeves. C: Hemline ruffle. D: Layered sleeves”

I made View B, omitting the lace trim.

Sizing: 4-26. I made a size 12.

Available as a PDF? No

Fabric Used: A remnant of the Milly voile that I used for my StyleArc Artist Tunic.

Machines and Tools Used: Pfaff 2130, Juki MD654DE serger, Naomi the Naomoto, ironing board, sleeve board, shoulder stand, Clover Hold It Stiletto, silk organza press cloth.

Needle/Notions Used: Universal 70/10 needle, 1/4 inch elastic from stash, thread.

Tips Used during Construction: Anything by The Pressinatrix.

Did it look like the photo or drawing when you got through? Yes, more or less. I screwed up a little bit on the shoulder band so it ended up wider than the picture, but it’s not terrible and I’m not going to go back and pull it out.

How were the instructions? They were fine. This is very straightforward to make. The only slightly tricky part is making sure you line up the openings for the cold-shoulders properly.

Close up of the cold-shoulder

Construction Notes: Nothing unusual. I sewed the seams with my Pfaff, and serged the seam allowances together, rather than sewing a double seam. This pattern would work quite well with French seams.

Likes/Dislikes: You know how I said this is WAAAAAAY out of my wheelhouse? Well there’s a reason I don’t stray too far from my wheelhouse. I finished it, tried it on…

And I hate it.

It makes me look like a mile-wide stump, and a pregnant stump to boot. It even makes Shelley look fat.

Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? No, I will not make this again. This was a fail for me. The word “blowsy” came immediately to mind when I looked in the mirror. Though I still think it’s cute and I think on the right person it can look great. I’m just not that person.

Conclusion: Win some, lose some, learn something. I’ll donate this to Sister Thrift near where I live so hopefully someone will love it and it will benefit the dogs and cats at the local Humane Society.

McCalls 6930 Shorts

These, on the other hand, are right in the middle of my wheelhouse!

Pattern Description: “Fitted shorts or tapered pants (below waist) have shaped waistband, side-front pockets and back zipper. A, B: Back patch pockets. B: Scalloped hem. C: Carriers and stitched hems.”

I made view A, the short-shorts.

Sizing: 6-22. I started with a 14, but backed it down at the waist significantly.

Available as a PDF? Yes!

Fabric Used: A heathered dark wash denim from Gorgeous Fabrics (of course). That fabric is sold out, but you can see similar Here.

Machines and Tools Used: The usual suspects (see above)

Needle/Notions Used: The usual suspects (see above) as well as stash interfacing, a zipper from stash and two trouser hook/eyes.

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

How were the instructions? They’re fine. Again, this is a straightforward pattern and goes together readily.

Construction Notes: I started with a 14. I’ve noticed in previous McCalls shorts and pants that I end up with a lot of gapping at the back waist, so I tried them on before applying the back zipper and sure enough… I took about an inch out at the CB. That did the trick without distorting the side seams. I sewed all the seams on the Pfaff and finished the raw edges on the serger.

Likes/Dislikes: Love these! They went together readily, and they are really cute. I’ll probably make the longer versions as well.

Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? Yes and yes.

Here are shots on Shelley. I won’t subject you to my Mary Melanoma pasty white legs again. 🙂

Front
The side pocket detail
And the Back, slightly overexposed to show the pockets

Conclusion: These are a winner – this weekend I was batting .500 – ah well. This happens sometimes.

Happy sewing!

Pattern Review: StyleArc Artist Tunic

6/22/16 Update: Added pictures of me in it (at the very bottom of the post)

This is a long one, so settle back and grab a cuppa…

Pattern Description: From StyleArc’s website – “Great slimline tunic with interesting slightly dropped shoulder tuck detail falling from under the epaulettes. This is a versatile piece that can be worn over your favourite T shirt, pants or leggings, or even wear it as a “shirt dress” buttoned up. Shirt style collar and cuffs makes this a wonderful addition to your wardrobe.”

Sizing: 4-30. I made a 10.

Available as a PDF? I don’t see it on their Etsy shop, so I’m going to say no. If I’m wrong, someone please let me know and I’ll correct it.

Fabric Used: A sample cut of silk/cotton voile from Milly. Sorry, I wasn’t able to get more than a couple of yards so it’s not available at Gorgeous Fabrics at this time.

Machines and Tools Used: Pfaff 2130 sewing machine, Juki MD654DE serger, Naomi the Naomoto, ironing board, sleeve board, shoulder stand, Clover Hold It Stiletto, silk organza press cloth.

Needle/Notions Used: Universal 70/10 needle, fusible weft interfacing from my stash, buttons, thread.

Tips Used during Construction: Anything by The Pressinatrix, Sew from Wide to Narrow, Clip the Selvages Before Laying Out Your Pattern, Using Pins to Mark Start/Stop Points.

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

How were the instructions? Mmmm, not great. This pattern is rated Challenging/Experienced Sewer. StyleArc is known for their rather cryptic instructions, and if you haven’t had much experience sewing shirts or shirt dresses, I recommend you keep a good general sewing book like the Vogue Book of Sewing handy for reference. That said, this pattern is well drafted for the most part, and goes together well. I say for the most part, because there seemed to be an error on the shoulder mark of the garment body. (see the next section for more information).

Also, the instructions that I have, at step 6 in the construction, say “With wrong sides facing, fold the epaulet in half lengthways and stitch the outer small edge…” It should read, “With right sides facing, fold the epaulet…”

Finally, the Trims section says that you need 11 buttons, but if you follow the markings on the CF Band pattern pieces and the diagram for the sleeve construction you actually need 13 buttons, because they show a button on the sleeve placket, as well as the cuff.

None of those are deal breakers for me, but you should check your instructions before you start.

Construction Notes: As I said, there seemed to be an error in the shoulder. I made a muslin and found the shoulder point on the bodice was off by about 1/2 inch. I have a very early release of this pattern, so I’m hoping that StyleArc has fixed that. I was easily able to fix it on my pattern. but it’s worth checking. It’s really obvious and easy to fix because StylArc doesn’t put a lot of excess ease in their sleeve caps (YAY!).

I did a 1 inch FBA. Also, I changed the layout of my pattern pieces for the collar and cuffs to ensure that the pattern of my fabric aligned the way I wanted it to. IOW, I wanted my handbag motifs to all go in the same direction. So I did a cross-grain layout on the collar and collar stand, and I cut the collar pieces upside down so they would face the right way when the collar is turned down.

The original pattern uses a single piece for the cuff, which you fold in half lengthwise. This means one side of the cuff has the motifs running the right way, while the other is flipped upside down:

If you’re not paying attention, it’s way too easy to end up with the wrong side facing out.

So instead, I folded the pattern piece in half, added a seam allowance, and cut two pieces for the cuff and sewed them together.

So both sides go in the right direction…

I also made self-lined pockets instead of single-layer.

I find it gives a cleaner finish,

I also took a fair amount of time (and 56 pins!) to narrow hem the shirt tail.

Lots of pins!

Nothing makes my eye twitch more than a puckery shirt tail hem, whether I sew it or it’s RTW. The secret is patience, a lot of pins, and pressing the hem before you sew it (yes, over the pins – except in a very few cases, the pin marks will come out).

No rumples, lumps or puckers!

I sewed the buttons on by machine. Here’s a little trick I learned from Phyllis – to temporarily tack buttons to your garment, use a school glue stick. Just put a small dab of glue on the back of the button, press it onto the garment and it will hold it long enough to get it under the sewing machine.

Just a little dab’ll do ya.

Likes/Dislikes: This was a fair amount of work, but it really turned out great. I have been on a bit of a shirtdress jag so far this summer, and this one is a more tailored look than my Kwik Sew version. I love them both!

Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? I would definitely recommend it, with the caveat that you need to understand shirt construction. I don’t know if I’ll make it again, because I don’t need more than one, but it’s a great pattern. This fabric is lightweight and slightly sheer, so I’ll wear it over a tank top and pants, probably open and belted.

Here are some shots on Shelley:

Front and Back
Front and Back
Close up of the shoulder, epaulet and pleats
Showing the way I cut the collar and collar stand
And finally, the way I’ll likely wear it – belted over an outfit

Conclusion: A winner! This will be a great topper to wear in the warm weather.

And here are a couple of shots on me (can you believe it?)

See those pasty white Irish legs? SPF50, babies! #nomoremelanoma
See those pasty white Irish legs? SPF50, babies! #nomoremelanoma
I'm not kidding when I say I am the world's worst model.
I’m not kidding when I say I am the world’s worst model.

Happy sewing!

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!