Sunday, January 30, 2011

Butterick 5559 - Winter white doubleknit dress with decorative tucks

I loved this pattern the second it came out in the fall. Such an interesting and unordinary design! And the way it is sewn together with darts running along the bias hidden under tucks was fascinating. I bought fabric for it and cut it out right after New Year's. However, I never thought I would be able to finish it due to technical difficulties. My machine absolutely hated sewing on this material. It's what initially made my bobbin housing break. After that was fixed, the stitches kept skipping and skipping. Believe me, I tried every technique known to man to get it to sew properly. Then I took it back to the repair shop to see if it was misaligned when it was serviced. I cried. I put it aside and made other things. (I NEVER do this. If I start a project it is always either completed or tossed out.) Somewhere along the line I remembered an old Viking sewing machine (purchased in 1976) my MIL had given me years ago. Usually I get rid of things that aren't used regularly, but I held on to it for some reason. It made horrendous noises before it got warmed up, and has zero bells and whistles, but it can sew on doubleknit fabric without incident. Anyway, here's the dress:

What is this highly offending fabric? Just a Sophia doubleknit from It actually has no displeasing qualities, and I don't know why it gives my sewing machine such fits. It's a nice quality knit and a good weight for garments that need a bit more structure. Incidentally, while I was perusing the fabrics at Hancock's the other day, I happened to look at their collection of Ponteroma knits. They are the exact same thing as this Sophia doubleknit IMO. The only difference is that Hancock's charges $9.99 a yard, but with a JoAnn's 50% off coupon, I can get it for $5.00 instead. Which certainly beats the price of $10.99.

There's nothing like taking pictures to showcase all your flaws. After these were taken I realized I need to wear a full slip and a different bra. Blah! But cute tucks, right?

I have this thing about wanting my garments to look congruous, so the double turned 5/8" hem on the sleeves per the pattern instructions looked out of place on a garment with a 1.5" hem on the skirt. I decided to cut the sleeves longer so that they could be turned up the same 1.5". Then they were whipstitched in place by hand:

It was the perfect length without a hem in place, and was my mistake not to take note of the finished length printed on the envelope back before I cut it out. That was easily solved by making a hem facing that I stitched to the bottom of the dress with a small SA. It was whipstitched in place as well:

I am currently in love with this winter white color and have a few more things to make using it. Up next is a short white corduroy skirt that I'm halfway done with. The invisible zipper broke while I was inserting it last night. The corduroy is a little thick and there are several horizontal seams running through the zipper seam. I just bought a regular zipper today and will be attempting a lapped zipper for the first time in several years. More to come!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

February Burda picks

Hi there! Thanks for all the nice comments on my hot pink skirt. A few people asked about the top I had on the dressform with it. Yes, I made that too, and you can read about it here. Angie wanted to know about the lining fabric. I'm sorry to report it is nothing special and is probably that cheap acetate stuff. I like to use Ambiance when I can but I usually buy it off and they have limited colors. That hot pink was purchased at JoAnn's.

So, the February Burda didn't disappoint. I found several designs that I can certainly see in my wardrobe. This first dress, 101, is SO pretty in the magazine. It's a simple shape but the fabric they've used is gorgeous! Too bad "white organza with taffeta appliques" isn't a fabric I ever come across. However, I do have a pretty floral stretch charmeuse in my stash begging to be sewn in this pattern. Look for that in spring.
This next top, 102, is like the first dress only without the skirt and with a horizontal seam under the bustline. It's for a stretch fabric. Hmmm, why the zipper, then? I just love the shape of the neckline and the extended shoulders. I'll bet we'll be seeing a bunch of these made up shortly. Little knit tops are always popular patterns from the magazine.
Wowza, skirt 103 is one hot little number. On page 13 they show the back of it made up in a pinstripe. I just love the way the lines come together along the center back seam to make a chevron pattern. Perhaps I'll use that black stretch suiting with pink pinstripes I picked up last fall.
The boucle they've used for this next jacket is not my favorite, but I really like the blackline drawing of it. It's the ribbon trim that I adore, along with the two-piece sleeves with buttoning bottoms.

I have a hard time finding shorts I like in stores. They are always either too short or too long. For the past few summers I have taken to wearing fitted capris that end right under my knees, as seen here. Well, I like the shape and length of view B of design 122, and think I will give them a try come summer.

This whole safari-inspired outfit looks super cute to me. I can't wear that tan color anywhere close to my face, but a nice army green would probably do the trick. I love the big pockets and tie belt.

How about you? Did I miss any of your favorites?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Vogue 1170 - Hot pink wool Rachel Comey skirt

Now I know why I left all my winter skirts to the end - I like my clothing to be fitted and didn't want to sew any more garments that wouldn't fit right when I got finished with them. Whoops. I must have thought I was totally back to my pre-pregnancy weight, because it was a total surprise that this skirt didn't fit. It is horribly tight and I look like a stuffed sausage in it. But look, it fits Her Highness, so it is sure to fit me. Soon.

This is a hot pink wool crepe purchased in early fall from I love bright colors for winter clothing. They make me feel so cheerful and hopeful for spring weather. I was drawn to this design because of the interesting construction lines and fitted/flared shape. However, it was only 17" long out of the envelope, so I added 2" to the length.

The side back panel does not sit right at the side, which bugs me slightly. If I make this again in a lighter fabric for summer, the pattern pieces will be adjusted so that the sides are actually at the sides. Although if you stare at the pattern picture long enough, you will see that the same thing is happening on the example skirt as well.

One of my favorite things about this pattern is the curved hem facing. I opted not to interface mine because I didn't want the skirt to stick out at the hem and my fabric has a lot of body. I whip-stitched the bias finished facing by hand to the skirt body so it would be totally invisible. Plus I just like doing a bit of hand sewing.

I thought the waistband a little too wide so I cut mine down a bit. It is still really wide, though. You can see here that I added a hot pink lining.

For the hem of the lining I ran a gathering stitch close to the edge to pull in the extra fabric. Then I made a simple 5/8" double folded hem.

I love it and am hoping it fits before the weather gets too warm to wear a wool skirt.

This past week was a very frustrating one for me and sewing. At one point I cried to my husband, "I hate to sew!!!", which he greeted with a skeptical look. You've had those weeks, right? When you wish you didn't have such a passion for fabrics and patterns and could just throw in the towel and resign yourself to endless shopping at the mall for what you want. Sigh. I'm hoping this week will be more fun.

Monday, January 17, 2011

McCall's 3830 + NewLook 6541 - Black & royal blue plaid skirt

This pattern is now OOP, and I cannot figure out how to use the scanner, so I snapped a picture of it instead. Originally I purchased this pattern for the overlapping bottom ruffle view and tried to shorten it to knee length. Only I hadn't thought it through, so while the back of the ruffle was knee length, the front was super short. I made it several years before the blog, and used a cheap crepe-type fabric if memory serves. It was an all around wadder. But I kept the pattern because I liked the pleated version.

When the time came to cut it out, I was worried that the lack of front darts would cause the skirt to hang funny. It kind of pooches out under the waist on the pattern envelope example. So, I decided not to reinvent the wheel, and used McCall's 3830 (my TNT straight skirt pattern) for the top. This fabric is a medium weight polyester suiting from JoAnn's, purchased last fall. The faux leather vest I'm wearing was made last month.

Because it was a plaid, I decided to cut the pleated flounce on the bias. I cut the bias strips 6.5" wide and folded them along the outer edge so there would be no need to hem and possibly stretch out. I was going to make this an inch or so longer but couldn't because of fabric shortage.

There was no pleat at the side seams of the NewLook pattern piece, so I added extra length to include one. I used an invisible zipper along the side and cut the back of the skirt on a fold. The less need of matching plaids the better, IMO. This matching of plaids at the zipper was a pain. And I had to do it twice because when I first sewed up the skirt I made some miscalculation during cut out and it was 1.5" too big in the waist.

I used Bemberg rayon for the lining and wish I had made it 2" longer. It sometimes likes to creep up a tiny bit and gets caught on the top of the flounce seam. Although this pattern doesn't include a lining, it is super simple to add it in. Just cut the front and back in your lining fabric to the length you want it, and use the facing pattern pieces to cut fusible interfacing for the lining.

I am half way done with another skirt, this one a hot pink wool crepe. Look for that next weekend. I really need a camera with a remote control and a tripod!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

New Vogues - Dresses!!!

They are finally up! The newest patterns, I mean. I have been stalking the Vogue website for a week now, hoping for a peek. New patterns are always so exciting, don't you agree? On my first pass through, I got a little panicked. There are so many beautiful dresses that I want to make. And I already have a TON of dress patterns in my stash! But, I have just decided to give myself permission to wear dresses as often as I want to. It will make me happy, and they are much cooler during the summer.

Justin just picked up my machine from the repair shop and I am anxious to get stitching, so I'm not going to gush about each design or provide pattern numbers and such.

This one actually has a lot of pretty pleating that you can't see with the bold print used. Don't get me wrong, the fabric is gorgeous, but I would probably look for something with a smaller print or a solid color.

Okay, must gush about the back of this dress. SO PRETTY! I don't like those tie ends hanging down over the armpits in the front, but they should be easy enough to leave off.

The front placket that extends up onto the collar makes this dress unique. The fabric they've used is divine.

Wouldn't this look great in some stretch denim? WHAT a show-stopper. I think it's my favorite out of the whole bunch.

Super hot! I like the contrast of high non-revealing neckline and curve-hugging shape.

These belts are so fun! I'm not one who usually ever makes accessories, but this pattern is definitely coming home with me.

Okay, maybe I can get something completed by this weekend. I managed to cut out 4 skirts in the past week, and already had a knit dress ready to sew when my machine threw its tantrum. Oh, by the way, there was an actual part broken in the bobbin area, so it's a good thing I took it in.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Lack of sewing progress and Spring patterns

Last Wednesday I was able to finish school with my boys early, and when they went outside to play I sat down at my sewing machine. It is a rare thing these days for me to get any sewing time during the day, and I was excited to get something accomplished. My machine had other ideas. It would not sew a stitch, and I spent the next hour and a half troubleshooting to find the problem. The thread kept getting all wound up in the bobbin housing. I took the metal plate off and blew out all the fuzz balls. I changed the needle. I re-threaded the machine multiple times. I turned it off and back on. Finally I threw up my hands and decided to have it looked at. After all, it's been 2 years since I bought it and could probably use a tune-up and oiling anyway. So, it is out of commission until Monday or Tuesday and I am left to twiddle my fingers.

Actually, I've been busying myself with cutting things out. I'm trying to finish up winter sewing, and have for some reason saved all my skirts for last. And they are mostly all plaid. There is a reason I cut things out one at a time and sew them one at a time. It's tedious to cut patterns out! Especially if you have to pay such careful attention to matching plaids.

As I have nothing new to show you, I thought it would be fun to blog about the new patterns I purchased last week. I'm not sure when Simplicity put these new Spring ones up. This may be old news to some of you.

I'm sure this first one is going to be popular. It is the cutest sundress I've seen in quite awhile, and people seam to gravitate towards the designer patterns as well. I already have the fabric picked out - an awesome border print cotton I've been saving for the perfect project. I am salivating to make this up, but will wait until the weather gets a bit warmer.

I saw this next dress and knew I had to make it. These diagonal seamed dresses have been in the department stores for awhile, and I've always loved the look, but this is the first pattern I've seen that copies it. Justin wants to attend the Celtic Women concert at the Majestic Theater in May, and I'm going to need a fancy-pants dress to wear. I'll probably make the shorter version, only maybe a few inches longer.

Y'all know my affinity for jacket patterns, right? I like empire seaming and double lapels on the top right view.

I need a tan skirt in my wardrobe, so am planning to copy view C of this next pattern, only with dark brown leather trim instead of black.

I get cold in summer a lot, and am always toting some type of cover-up around with me to restaurants and such. The cardigan with cuffed sleeves looks like a simple and easy piece to serve as a cold buffer, and would be light enough to throw in my bag as I'm running out the door.

We are off to spend the afternoon bowling. Fun, fun! I love to bowl. Have a great week, and I hope to have something new to reveal soon.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Butterick 5562 - Striped knit top w/ shawl collar

After 2 (unblogged about) wadders in a row, I am starting this new year of sewing out on the right foot. I cannot claim any credit for the idea of this top. Originally I purchased the pattern for the short sleeve version, and never gave a second glance to the shawl collar design. It's sort of an uninspiring drawing, right? But recently Sharon made this top up in a horizontal stripe and I loved it. And just had to have one.

Unlike Sharon who whipped hers up in only a few hours, I spent most of my New Year's Day cutting out and stitching this up. Y'all know I'm super pokey when it comes to sewing, right? I'm blaming these wide stripes as well. They were matches along the side seams, arm seams and collar seams. Isn't this collar dramatic?! I love it! (Can't you see Tany wearing something like this? I kept thinking of her while I was sewing it.)

Although the envelope describes this top as being "close-fitting", I found the measurements printed on the pattern pieces to be somewhat big. Because my knit was really stretchy width-wise but not length-wise, I cut the XS at the sides and the S for the shoulders, armholes and neckline. This pattern will be really big on someone who is actually an XS size. I am not.

The fabric is a wool and modal knitted jersey, purchased on Ebay from the seller highendfabrics. I first read about this seller on Mimi's blog, and have had nothing but great customer service and beautiful fabrics from him. This fabric came from my third and most recent order. It's pretty thin, which I thought would work well with the gathering along the collar.

This picture is of a side seam where I paid a lot of attention matching up the horizontal stripes. I used my double needle to do all the hems. This row of stitching ran mostly through a navy blue stripe, so I used navy blue thread for it. The sleeves and collar were hemmed with off-white.

I tried something new for this top. I've been reading on a number of blogs where the sleeves are sewn in flat, followed by stitching the side of the garment and the sleeve seam all in one. I decided to give this a try, only took it one step further and did a french seam at the sleeve head. It worked and looks awesome! (Be sure you are working with a thin fabric if you want to use this method.) The sides and shoulders were also stitched with french seams.

The collar is gathered at the sides with a piece of elastic. I ended up turning the french seams at the collar into casings for the elastic instead of stitching the elastic to the fabric.

Where the collar meets the neckline I stitched a row of reinforcing next to the original seam and cut off the excess seam allowance. I then zigzagged it down to the inside of the top instead of the edgestitching/topstitching the instruction suggest. This knit looks like it might ravel a bit, and I didn't want to take any chances that it would ravel out at the neckline.

The only other changes I made were to cut 2 inches off the hemline and flare the sleeves out at the bottom slightly.

I love reading sewing blogs and regularly get inspired to try something new. So thanks for the inspiration, girls! I would never have given this a try or reached for it on a hanger at Macy's, but I love it!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Updated picture of my Cynthia Rowley border print skirt

Just kidding!!! I know I wrote in my previous post that this skirt wasn't my favorite because the fabric pooched out in an unflattering manner around the tummy area. Well, today I was playing dress-up in my closet to find out which clothing is starting to fit, and I happened to put this top on that I made last January. Then I paired it with a gray and black cardigan which was a recent purchase from Target (clearance rack!). And then I was reaching for a plain black skirt and my eyes fell on this one. Hey, I told myself, these burgundies totally match! And when I pull the top down over the fabric in the front, the poochyness disappears. What a fun outfit! I love it!

Can you tell I'm excited about figuring out how to style this skirt?

I have the tiniest bit of finishing to do on my newest top before I can take inside shots - more coming soon!