Pattern Review: McCalls M7100 Bomber Jacket

Or… Every Once in a While You Have to Let Your Inner Disco Diva Out!


Pattern Description: From McCalls’ website: “Semi-fitted, unlined jackets have collar, side-front seams, bands, side-front pockets, exposed front zipper contrast panels and sleeves with shoulder dart. A, B, C: Welt pockets. D: Kangaroo pocket.”

Actually, the description is very slightly inaccurate. The version I made (View C) has an in-seam pocket. There are no welts on that version.

Sizing: 4-26, sized as XS to XXL. I made a Medium, which translates to a 12/14

Available as a PDF? It doesn’t appear so.

Fabric Used: Sequined Designer Mesh – Gunmetal, and Black Wool Doubleknit, for the outer shell (good substitute Here), Gray Stretch Lining (similar Here) for the underlining.

Machines and Tools Used: Pfaff sewing machine, Juki serger, Reliable iron/board, ham, sleeve board.

Needle/Notions Used: Pro-Tricot Fusible Interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply, Silver M6/Gray Tape Riri Zipper from Pacific Trimming. Thread.

Tips Used during Construction: Tips and Hints for Working with Sequins, Anything by The Pressinatrix.

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

Fitting Adjustments that I made None!

How were the instructions? When I was starting on this project, someone mentioned that she thought the instructions for attaching the bottom band were not very clear, and I agree with her assessment. I did some things differently because of that, and you can see those in the construction notes.

Construction Notes: First off, I wanted something FUN! I had a lot of sequined fabric left over from the Prom Gown I made, and I decided this should be the perfect way to use some of that up. This pattern (in the version that I made) is great for using up leftover scraps from prior projects. I used less than a yard of the sequin, and just about a yard of the doubleknit.

Because the sequin mesh is lightweight and slightly transparent, I underlined it with some stretch lining I’ve had in my stash for several years.

Here you see the mesh itself. The underlining protects the stitching holding the sequins, and adds opacity

I sewed through the sequins (I know, I know. But this is not couture, this is FUN!). I wanted to finish the seam allowances of that fabric so they wouldn’t catch anything I wore underneath, or scratch me. I thought about using silk organza, but then I glanced at the fabric and noticed the 3-inch wide plain mesh selvages on either side. Eureka! I used those for Hong Kong finishes. I was pretty ecumenical in my seam finishing. In addition to the finish on the sequins, I also used a slightly long whipstitch to finish the neckline, and the serger to finish other edges.

Hong Kong, serged and unfinished, all in one neat photo!

I used the same fabric for the bands and collar as I did for the contrast panels to give it a more dressy finish than the recommended ribbed knit.

The pattern instructions have you baste the raw edges of the front bands together, then, matching raw edges, attach the waistline band around those, then sew to the lower edge of the jacket… yeah, no. I just sewed the bands together at the seam line, graded and pressed the seam allowances toward the waist band, folded the whole shebang in half lengthwise, and sewed it to the bottom of the jacket. Sorry, no pictures, My advice is pin things together as a mockup and then see how you want to proceed with the construction. If the instructions work for you, great. If they don’t take Fleetwood Mac’s advice and Go Your Own Way

I used the stretch lining for the pocket facing, and the doubleknit for the pocket.

At one point, before I attached the zipper and the bands, I put the jacket on Shelley to take a look at it. I noticed right away that the weight of the pockets were distorting the lines of the jacket. You can see at the bottom it’s pulling away from the dress form.

Flippy bottom edges are NOT what I want

To fix this, I simply whipstitched the pocket to the underlining on the front:

This distributes the weight more evenly.

Here’s a shot of two pockets: the one on the left has been attached, the one on the right is hanging free, per the instructions.

You can see the results on the outside of the garment.

It only takes a few minutes, and I would say it’s totally worth it, wouldn’t you?

I ordered a custom-cut Riri Zipper from Pacific Trimming in NY. It arrived in 2 days. They (both Pacific Trimming and Riri Zippers) are GREAT! I’ve tried Lampo zippers from Botani (also in NY), but I keep coming back to Riri. It’s just my personal preference.

Closeup of the neckline and the top of the zipper.

Likes/Dislikes: This is a great pattern! The instructions on the band are a little wonky, but if you rate yourself an advanced beginner or beyond, I think you can handle it and get good results.

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

Conclusion: I haven’t made such a fun garment in ages. This one really makes me smile – it appeals to the Jamaica Plain girl in me (Day Street, for those of you who know the area). I showed it to DH and he said, “Ooooh, that’s so cool! We have to go someplace you can wear that!” It is really fun, and I love it. I can’t wait for it to get cool enough so I can wear it. It will look great with jeans or (maybe, if I’m feeling it) pleather leggings to get my 80s on.

Then again, maybe not. ­čść

Here are pictures on Shelley.

Side view
Front
and Back

Happy sewing!

Notion Review: Coats & Clarks Eloflex Stretch Thread

Please note: Coats & Clark did not ask me to review this product, nor did they provide me with any product or any compensation. I bought it with my own money, and you are getting my highly unvarnished (one might say ‘blunt’) opinion.

Lately it seems that lots of bloggers are flogging hyping talking about a new product, Coats & Clarks Eloflex Thread. This is a thread with elastic properties that’s designed for knit and stretch fabrics, and can be used straight – it doesn’t require any specialized stitches. According to Coats’ home-sewers website:

“Eloflex is a new, innovative thread from Coats & Clark that sews, soft, secure, stretchable seams in knit fabrics. Special stitches or a serger are not required to achieve professional results. Seams and hems will not pop when stretched because Eloflex expands with the fabric.
Eloflex is perfect for knit fabrics used in athleisure, cosplay costumes, swim suits, lingerie, and dance wear. Use with knits, but also with fabrics like stretch denim or twill. Use for sewing your own knit garments or for repairs or alterations. Have you ever tried to hem a knit skirt or T-shirt only to have it look stretched-out or wavy? Eloflex will make this a thing of the past.

Repairing a popped seam? Stitch it with Eloflex and ithe thread will stretch with the garment instead of breaking. Eloflex is 27 wt and can be used on the top and bobbin or in the needle and loopers of a serger. A size 11 ball-point or universal point needle is recommended. Eloflex is chlorine bleach resistant.”

(If you want my unvarnished opinion, the Coats Industrial Website has better information and less purple prose.)

Okay, that sounds promising. So I went to the local JoAnn to pick some up. Be warned, it’s not cheap. I┬ápaid full retail, without any coupons. Eloflex will set you back $3.49 for a 225 yard spool. By comparison, Coats’ Dual Duty all purpose thread retails for $2.99 for 400 yards, which means the Eloflex nets out to more than twice the cost of Dual Duty.

Okay then, let’s see if it’s all they say it is…

The Test Drive
I figure the best way to test it out is to try it against a control: I pulled out a spool of bright orange Gütermann polyester thread that I have in my stash. I used a royal purple Eloflex. I sewed with both threads on samples of Striped Viscose Jersey left over from my Vogue 9205 top.

I used the same thread in the needle and the bobbin (so G├╝termann/G├╝termann, Eloflex/Eloflex) on each sample. In all cases I used my Pfaff 2030 sewing machine with the same Stretch 75/11 Organ needle.

I ran three lines of stitches with each thread, all along the crosswise-grain, so they were along the greatest stretch of the fabric. ┬áI ran two lines of straight stitches, each 2.5 mm long. In the line of stitches that has the red pin at the end of it, I stretched the fabric very slightly on both sides of the needle as it stitched. In the line of stitches with the white pin at the end, I didn’t stretch at all, I just let the feed dogs do their work. The third was a line of zigzag stitches, 3mm wide by 2.5mm long.

I used the Integrated Dual Feed (the built in walking foot on the Pfaff), and my presser foot pressure was set to 3 for all samples. I didn’t press any of the samples after sewing, so you see what they look like as they came off the sewing machine.

Eloflex thread: Top row, I stretched the fabric very slightly on either side of the needle while sewing. Middle row, I didn’t stretch the fabric at all while sewing. Bottom row, zigzag.
Top Row: Fabric stretched slightly on either side of the needle while sewing, Middle Row: Zigzag, Bottom Row: Fabric not stretched while sewing.

The Results
One thing I saw right away was that the Eloflex incurred more puckering along the stitching lines than the G├╝termann. That was true in all three cases. I don’t know if pressing the stitches will release that. It’s not horrible, but it is noticeable, and it’s quite noticeable on the zigzag stitch.

Next I wanted to test the elasticity of the stitching. So I stretched the fabric along each of the stitching lines. I started in each case with a line of stitches measuring 5 inches.

White Pin (fabric not stretched at all while sewing)
Eloflex: 5 inches stretched to 6 inches (20% stretch) without undue stress
G├╝termann: 5 inches stretched to 5.25 inches without undue stress

Red Pin (fabric stretched slightly while sewing)
Eloflex: 5 inches stretched to 6 1/8 inches without undue stress
G├╝termann: 5 inches stretched to 5 ┬ż inches without undue stress

Zigzag
Eloflex: 5 inches stretched to 6 3/8 inches
G├╝termann: 5 inches stretched to 6 ┬╝

Breaking Point
Next, I decided to see how far each would stretch before they broke.
The Eloflex broke when I stretched it from 5 inches to 9 inches (80% stretch)

Breakage in the Eloflex – it took a fair amount of stretch, but it did break

The Gutermann broke when I stretched it from 5 inches to 6 3/4 (25% stretch)

The G├╝termann broke with a lot less stretch

Conclusions
In my highly unscientific test, the Eloflex did a reasonable job. Here are some of my initial observations.

  1. It’s expensive.
  2. I didn’t like the fact that the thread causes the stitching line to pucker, sometimes noticeably.
  3. The Eloflex does indeed have more stretch than all-purpose thread, but I don’t believe it will allow you to sew swimsuits with a straight stitch.
  4. If you’re making a garment that takes a lot of stress through the seams, test out different types of stitches (notably zigzag and triple stitch zigzag)
  5. On the plus side, this thread is very soft, and it would be quite suitable for lingerie and other garments that lie against the body.

So, Is It Worth the Money?
The jury is still out on that. I’m going to try it on the bomber jacket that I’m making right now, and I’ll let you know what I think after I run a few more things with it.

Happy sewing!

Pattern Review: Butterick 5466 Skirt

Imagine, if you will, this scenario: You own an online fabric store. You get some beautiful cotton rough-weave panels in. The panels have fringe at one end. You must cut swatches in case customers wish to see/feel the fabric before they buy (been known to happen). So, you dutifully make a batch of swatches, leaving a piece of fabric that is the length of the panel, and 42 inches wide. It’s a shame to send this beautiful fabric – no, make that Gorgeous Fabric – to the recycler. What to do? Here’s your answer…
A simple skirt will do nicely, thank you! I made this skirt once before, but it used entirely different pattern pieces. So here’s a review of this version.

Pattern Description: Semi-fitted, straight skirts A, B, C, D, E, above mid-knee, have back zipper closure. A, B, C, E: Darts. B, C: Waistband. C: Self-belt. D: Front and back princess seams. D, E: Raised waist. E: Back princess seams.

This time I made View A, the darted version with a faced waist.

Sizing: 8-24. I made a 14, but I should have made a 12 this time. Oh well, no big.

Available as a PDF? Yes

Fabric Used: Fringe Benefits Italian Cotton Blend Panel ÔÇô White/Blue/Black/Gray – miracle of miracles, it’s available on the site still! What a treat- usually I don’t get to sew with one of my fabrics until it’s long since sold out.

Machines and Tools Used: Pfaff sewing machine, Juki serger, Reliable iron/board, Ham.

Needle/Notions Used: Universal 70/10 needles, Pro-Weft Supreme Light Interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply, lightweight invisible zipper from Zipper Shipper, hook/eye closure, Clover Fork Pins, thread.

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

Did it look like the photo or drawing when you got through? Yes, with some slight exceptions.

Fitting Adjustments that I made None, I made a straight 14. As I say, at this point I can go down to a 12, but habits die hard.

How were the instructions? They were good. This is a very straightforward, easy skirt. You just have to sew the seams, apply the zipper and facings and finish the hemline.

Construction Notes: I didn’t make any big changes, other than the hem. I finished all the seams and the waistline facings using the serger

I marked the hemline (2 inches) on the pattern pieces and aligned the bottom of the fringe with that before cutting out the pattern pieces.

I used the Clover Fork Pins to ensure that I got a good continuous line at the borders:

Side seam view

I didn’t have enough fabric to try to match the patterns across the seams. If I had had a full width, I probably could have matched all the elements for a continuous line, but I was happy with the result anyway.

Likes/Dislikes: This is a great, easy pattern that goes together quickly. From start to finish, it took less than 2 hours to make. It’s a classic design that works with all sorts of fabrics.

Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? Absolutely, to both questions.

Conclusion: Classic pattern, great lines, versatile – what’s not to love?

Finished Front

Finished Back

Oh, and here’s what I had left of the fabric when I finished:

Happy sewing!

Pattern Review: Vogue V1550 Tunic/Pants


Pattern Description:┬áFrom 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.

Available as a PDF? Doesn’t look like it.

Fabric Used: Soft Shirt-Weight Linen in Heathered Brown for the garment, paired with Couture Wide Silk Organza in Chocolate. Both from Gorgeous Fabrics, natch.

Machines and Tools Used: Pfaff 2030 for the bulk of the work, Juki MO654DE to finish the seams, Reliable Iron/Board, tailor’s ham, silk organza press cloth, shoulder stand.

Needle/Notions Used: Universal 70/10 needle, Pro Tricot fusible interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply, zipper, thread, beeswax, Japanese hand sewing needles and Japanese cotton basting thread from Susan Khalje,.

Tips Used during Construction: Anything by The Pressinatrix, The Case for Muslins, Using Pins to Mark Start/Stop Points, J? Or L?

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.

The BEST instructions for mitering corners that I have ever seen.

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 ┬╝ inch bias strips and that did the trick. I used the serger to finish all the seams.

Finishing on facings and seam allowances

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:

With heels (Vince Camuto)
With flats (Stuart Weitzman)
Just the pants, paired with a tank (Loft)

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.

Happy sewing!

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 ­čśŐ

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 ┬╝ 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┬áhemming 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┬áthe 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 ┬áblouse.

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:┬áThe 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 ÔÇťmust haveÔÇŁ category?┬áProbably 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:┬á “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!