Man, the winter doldrums have hit hard! Since I got back I have made a total of two things. I copied a Calvin Klein dress for my friend Renee. That dress is one of her favorites, and she asked if I could make her one from (sold out, sorry) Big Bold Chevrons ITY Jersey. It’s a perfect colorway for her, and she loved the bright and graphic print.
I simply traced her dress to create the pattern. The design couldn’t be simpler – it’s a close fitting tank top maxi dress with a flared hemline – more flared than any of the patterns I have without being overwhelming. It’s kind of nice because it gives a lot of freedom of movement to the legs. The pattern is two pieces, and I bound the neckline and armholes with Beyond Basic Black ITY Jersey. The order of construction was:
Stabilize the shoulders with scraps of fusible interfacing.
Stitch the shoulder seams.
Stitch the side seams.
Apply binding to neckline and armholes.
Ta daa! A dress that took less than 3 hours from starting to trace the pattern to finished garment. I shipped it off to her last week so hopefully she’ll have it soon.
I had enough fabric left over that I decided to make myself a top. This time I did another StyleArc Cold Shoulder Top. Everything is the same as the Last Time I Made This Pattern. I did make sure to carefully place the pattern on the chevrons, to avoid any arrows pointing to the wrong place. Here’s a front/back shot on Shelley
I haven’t decided what I want to work on next. I need some more knit tops, but I’ll make those from my go-to long sleeve tee, the Ann Tee Top from StyleArc. That’s not really worth a blog post. I also am inspired by Tany’s version of Paco Peralta’s Vogue 1527 Blouse, so I may start making a muslin of that.
So that’s what’s new here. What have you all been sewing?
Pattern Description: From StylArc’s website, Beautiful feminine blouse featuring a front tie and 7/8th length sleeves. This blouse is designed to pull on so therefore easy to make and wear along with keeping all the on trend features.
I just noticed an error on the technical drawing. The sleeves have elbow darts which are not shown on the tech drawing. You can see them in the picture of the pattern pieces further down in this review. It’s a minor nit, but worth noting. Also, the blouse has slight gathers at the front shoulder yoke, which do show on the tech illustration.
Sizing: 4-30; I made a 10
Available as a PDF? Yes
Fabric Used: Emerald jewels print silk charmeuse that I received as a gift. This one was a bit ravelly, which made it tricky to work with, but I took my time and it turned out well.
Machines and Tools Used: Pfaff 2030, Juki MO645DE serger, Naomi the late, beloved Naomoto, Reginald the Reliable Iron, ironing board, shoulder press, pressing ham, sleeve board.
Did it look like the photo or drawing when you got through? Yes
How were the instructions? StyleArc normal, which is to say pretty minimal. I didn’t need them, other than to check the diagram to make sure I inserted the tie into the neckline correctly. If you are an intermediate sewer, you can follow their instructions without trouble. I recommend keeping a good general sewing reference (my favorite is the Vogue Book of Sewing) handy if you need more information.
Construction Notes: I made two muslins before I cut into my silk. The first was from cotton muslin, just for fitting purposes. The second was with Abstract Floral Crinkle Crepe Chiffon – Brown/Eggy to better approximate the drape of the silk. I was planning to make the chiffon a “wearable muslin”, but I forgot to put the tie in the collar (doh!) so it was just a fitting muslin. I’m glad I did it, though, because it did point out that the sleeve cap wasn’t high enough. I added about 3/8″ height to it. I did a Full Bust Adjustment and lowered the bust dart by about an inch. Here you can see the changes on the flat pattern.
I sewed all seams with a 2.5 mm straight stitch and finished the seam allowances with a three-thread overlock, serging the side seams together, then pressing them toward the back. I made a narrow hem to finish.
One thing to note about this pattern: like all StyleArc patterns, it uses RTW industry standard seam allowances. That means that seams for the sides and main body pieces are 3/8 inch wide, and facings (like at the collar) are 1/4 inch. If you are dealing with a fiddly fabric like my charmeuse, which had a tendency to ravel, it can be trying, so you might want to increase the SAs along the neckline and then trim them after you finish. Also, I found the facings to be too wide and unwieldy, so I trimmed them back to about 5/8 inch and I topstitched around the neckline edges to keep them in place. If I were to do it again, I would probably use a bias piece of self fabric to face the neckline edge. Also, as I discovered on the chiffon, you really need to stay stitch the neckline edges or they will stretch out, especially in the front. Finally, the instructions have you fold the cuffs in half and then serge them to the sleeve. I decided to do a slightly more ‘couture’ approach and I sewed one edge of the cuff to the sleeve, folded the remaining raw edge under and hand-sewed it:
Likes/Dislikes: This is a very well-drafted pattern that goes together quite easily. I really like the clean lines that let the fabric have center stage. This would be great for a big bold print. I don’t dislike anything about this. It’s definitely a pattern that requires some precise sewing in small places, so take your time and you’ll get good results.
Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? I doubt I’ll do it again. I now have two of these tie-neckline blouses and I think that’s enough for me. I do recommend it, with the caveat about the facings and seam allowances for the neckline.
Conclusion: I’ll get a lot of use from this blouse. It looks great with jeans as well as with a pegged black skirt, and I like it both tucked in and worn out like a tunic with a belt over it. Here are shots on Shelley:
I just received my order from the last McCalls Pattern Company sale, which included both Paco Peralta patterns. This morning I found out that my husband’s company holiday party is the first Friday in December, so I think I’m going to make the long tuxedo jacket, and probably pair it with cigarette pants. That gives me a hobby!
In Other (family) News…
This past weekend was the last home game and Senior Day for the UMass Minuteman Marching Band. Oh yes, there was a football game, too. We got to see DS the Elder conduct “Appalachian Spring” for the last time in his college career. It was a proud Mama moment. Sniff!
And not to be outdone, it was Homecoming at University of Delaware, and DS the Younger and some of his tenor saxophone cohorts saw that their most famous alumnus was on the field so they went over to him and asked for a picture, to which he graciously said yes.
I’ll have more on the Paco Peralta tux over the next weeks. In the meantime,
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!
Pattern Description: From StyleArc’s website – Embrace the trend this season and wear the fashionable “Cold Shoulder Top” with its cut out shoulders this top is designed to hug the body and looks great with your jeans. Make it with a long or short sleeve.
I wore my Poppy Zip Top yesterday. I paired it with linen pants (purchased from Loft) and espadrilles. I had to go to Logan to pick up DH, who had gone to his high school reunion in Washington, DC. I was easy to find in the crowd! 🙂
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!!!
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 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.
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.
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:
So instead, I folded the pattern piece in half, added a seam allowance, and cut two pieces for the cuff and sewed them together.
I also made self-lined pockets instead of single-layer.
I also took a fair amount of time (and 56 pins!) to narrow hem the shirt tail.
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).
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.
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:
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?)
Last Sunday I had the delight of spending the day with my BFAM Emmett. We snoop shopped the 4th floor (Evening Wear) of Bergdorf Goodman. Afterward, I drooled on the windows of Van Cleef and Arpels, then we went for sushi at the Plaza Food Court (seriously – a food court at The Plaza? And it wasn’t outrageously overpriced, and it was really good).
On the 4th floor of Bergdorf’s, caftans are the big thing. Liza and Liz in the 70s, with a little “Maude” thrown in just for good measure.
I need to invest in horsehair braid, obvs.
Seriously, who wears this stuff? There were also some beautiful gowns that you can see in the background, but man oh man, I am SO glad I sew.
After I got home from New York, I worked one finishing my third StyleArc Lori jacket. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve seen the work in progress, along with my debate beforehand about another possible pattern. For various reasons (mostly fit through the sleeves), the other pattern didn’t work out. I won’t review the Lori again, but you can read my prior review of it Here. The zipper is a Riri from Pacific Trimming. The title quote was Emmett’s read on the fabric when I showed him a swatch – he hadn’t seen the jacket yet. But hey, what are brothers for if not speaking truth? He suggested adding denim, so I’ll give it a shot this week and see how it works.
Enough about last week; here are the pictures of the latest Lori on Shelley:
That’s what’s been happening around here. I hope you had a wonderful Mothers Day if you celebrate it. More on DS the Younger’s prom vest shortly.
Did it look like the photo or drawing when you got through? Yes
How were the instructions? I didn’t use them. This is a basic tee shirt and I can sew it in my sleep. That said, I did take a look at them and they looked typical StyleArc. Fine for anyone with any sewing experience.
Construction Notes: I fused scraps of interfacing at the back shoulder seam to keep it from stretching. I used my serger for the side seams and for attaching the neckline band. I edge stitched the neckline to keep the band laying flat. For that I used a .5mm wide by 3mm long zigzag.
I used that same stitch length/width for the hems. I didn’t need to do a FBA on this. It’s relatively loose fitting.
Likes/Dislikes: This is a basic tee pattern. It seems like there are a bazillion of these coming out of the indie pattern companies these days. I think this one was a free-with-purchase from StyleArc a few months ago. I like the shoulder sizing and the shape. It could be a little more fitted, but I made it straight for the first version. No dislikes.
One thing I really like about most of StyleArc’s patterns, including this one, is that they give you whole pattern pieces so you can easily do a single-layer layout for print placement and economizing on your fabric.
Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? Yes and yes. This pattern is very well drafted, and it went together, from start to finish, in just over an hour. It’s great for using up small quantities of fabric, and it is a classic shape.
Conclusion: Another winner from StyleArc! Here are pictures on Shelley. This is a little lightweight for the weather right now, but I’m sure I’ll get some pictures on me when it is warm enough.
I like my Lori Jacket so much that I decided to make another one. This one is made from a really cool remnant of bouclé that I picked up in New York when I was there in December. This fabric ravels dreadfully. You should see the floor of my sewing room! I realized the standard StyleArc 3/8″ seams were not going to cut it, so I decided to use some couture techniques that I learned from Susan Khalje. I didn’t go full-out couture on this, but I used enough to deem it couture-ish.
I discovered that I have two copies of this pattern (whoops!), so I didn’t have to worry about damaging the pattern. I trimmed the pattern pieces down to the stitching line and thread-traced them on my fabric. As a side note, my friend Phyllis came up to the studio while I was doing this and helped me, cutting the amount of time to thread trace in half. Thanks, Phyllis! I then cut the pieces out, giving myself one-inch seam allowances. Given how badly this fabric frays, I am really glad I did. If you work with a really ravelly fabric like this, you’re far better off cutting wide SA. You can trim them back after you sew the seams, but it will help keep your sanity intact, and keep your project from becoming a wadder.
After sewing the seams by machine, I stitched the seam allowances down by hand. There are a lot of seams in this pattern, so that took the bulk of the time. As you can see from the picture, I used my favored organza stay method to reinforce the back corner seam. This fabric requires it. Trying to use the method in the StyleArc instructions would be courting disaster in this case.
I didn’t use any trim on the shoulder yokes this time. Instead I went for the clean finish.
In addition to the shoulder pads, I used sleeve heads to support the sleeve. I didn’t take any pictures in process, but this is the sleeve head I used. This was a gift from my friend Rosie, who brought it back from Paris. OMG – this is THE. BEST. Thank you Rosie! I need to find a stateside supplier of this.
Because this fabric is rather bulky, I tacked the facings to the outer garment at the shoulders, the center back and the sleeve openings. That keeps them all in place and laying nice and flat.
Even with the additional time and care that I spent on the seams, this jacket went together quite readily. This fabric has enough body that I decided to forego block fusing interfacing to all the pieces, as the pattern recommends. The only parts of the pattern that I interfaced were the center front bands, to give support to my closure. This time, instead of a zipper closure, I used a decorative hook/eye tape that I bought at Pacific Trim about 9 years ago. It’s been patiently waiting for the right project to come along and this was it! I thought about tucking the scalloped edges under and using the selvage of the fabric as a transition piece, but when I laid the pieces out, it was too bulky, so I went with just the tape.
I lined it with a stretch lining from Gorgeous Fabrics (of course!). That particular fabric is sold out, but there are Lots of Others Here.
I love the way this turned out! This jacket is really nice and warm. It’s dressy enough to pair with a black pencil skirt or trousers, but I’ll probably wear it with jeans and boots. I really love the closure. I did all the hand-sewing while parked in front of the TV watching NFL playoffs (go Pats!) and Downton Abbey (go Mr. and Mrs. Carson!).
Here are some pictures on Shelley:
Oh, and remember at the beginning I said you should see the floor of my sewing room? Here it is.
Once again, I recommend this pattern. I would definitely do it again, though I think I’ll give it a rest for a while. Next on my list is a McCalls mock-wrap dress that has been sitting on my sewing machine table for a couple of weeks.