Wednesday, July 21, 2021

New Go-To

This pattern was first published maybe 7 years ago. It's been around a while for sure and it seems to crop up often during Linda Lee's FB live programs. The reason is that it is a great little tee shirt pattern, a perfect layering piece.

I've just finished two versions. I think there will be many more in the future, especially with variations in sleeves, necklines, and lengths.

The shaping at the waist is a nice feminine touch, I think. And the curved hemline also adds to that. This is a downloaded that I sent off to 

I had a little trouble determining the size to make. The instructions do not include recommended sizes based on bust measurements as I expected. But I found a table on their web site with finished measurements. Based on this information and the amount of ease I wanted, I chose size 1.5.

For my first one, I used a navy and white striped fabric from stash, most likely rayon jersey, quite stretchy. I just love these striped knits for summer. I made my standard 3/8" forward shoulder adjustment but otherwise cut it straight off my traced pattern tissue.

I think the neckline is a little high on this first one.  It seemed too long to me, so I shortened it by 2". I chalked two inches onto the pieces and cut it off the bottom, retaining the original curve.

For the second version, I used white organic cotton knit from Alabama Chanin. This knit does not have an enormous amount of stretch so I used 3/8" side seams. That worked great, I think. I also cut down the neckline by 1/2" all the way around. That feels better than the original high neckline. So now I need to remember to go back and cut that off of the pattern tissue.

In order to shorten it, I folded the pattern tissue at the waistline.

The pattern comes with basic short sleeves. I made no changes there for either version. 

The white one is not too exciting but just what I've needed to fill a hole in the wardrobe. And I love the feel of that organic cotton knit.

These were quick makes and fed my creative soul. Just what I needed. I was not in a hurry and still completed the two in two days starting with tracing the pattern tissue!

I've been battling a little project for a friend. Maybe you're familiar with the scenario. I said maybe, then yes, when I should have just passed along a recommendation for a professional tailor!

It seemed like it would be so easy to adjust! 

1. The straps were too long.

2. The skirt was too long.

3. The bodice gaped at the armpit.

It was easy to fix the straps. But not so much for the other items. 

There were 3 layers to the skirt. And the outer layer was a wispy sheer skirt cut on the bias. I finally tamed that when I located some fusible thread in stash. That saved me! I put it in the bobbin and stitch around the circumference about 1/2" from the shortened edge. 

Then I ironed the hem along the stitched line - this activated the fusible stuff and created a nice crisp edge. Then I trimmed the excess 1/4" or so, folded it again and machine stitched a baby hem. Then I hung it up.

The 2 under layers were more cooperative and easy to hem. However, after the dress hung on my dress-form over night, the underlayers were quite a bit longer than the sheer outer layer of skirt! I cut the underlayers again and aligned it all as best I could. It looks OK, I think.

The bodice gave me the majority of my heartburn. The upper seam on the bodice slants fairly dramatically as it approaches center back. Overlapping the side seams to close the gap created a jagged edge. I could have trued it up but worried that cutting off the excess in the front would leave her too exposed. 

My next and final step was to run a tiny piece of elastic along the upper edge (inside the bodice) to draw it up.

And it was of course 100% polyester and so I had to do all my pressing with a silk pressing cloth. Not easy!

Lastly I gave her the name of a tailor who may be able to adjust the bodice correctly for her. Lesson learned. I hope!

Saturday, July 10, 2021

Crazy for this dress!

What's going on??? Here I am posting twice in two days. But I am so excited about this dress that I just have to post about it.

The pattern is the Sleeveless Shift Dress designed by Ann Normandy. I think I first spotted it on Instagram. And I immediately knew I had to have it. That's the way Instagram works, I guess. 

I see how short it is now!

It reminds me of a Vogue dress I made in high school. I sure do wish that I had kept that pattern. It was one of my first forays into exotic Vogue patterns. I was so proud of myself. But I've kept enough stuff over the years so it's probably a good thing I did not start collecting patterns back then.

What I love: 

The square cut armholes! I know that my arms aren't what they were in high school but I've decided that I need to be OK with that. They are still working hard for me after all these years. I'm grateful.

The angular neckline! This is too low on me, but I might not care. Or I might hand-stitch it closed a little before wearing it. 

The construction of said neckline is excellent if unexpected. When I first read through the instructions, I thought she had omitted finishing of the back neckline. The front neckline is finished before sewing the shoulder seams together. And the back neckline is finished along with the flat-felling of the shoulder seams. So clever, I think.

Step 1.

Step 2.

Step 3.

Step 4.

The fabric! This is a medium-heavy weight linen I purchased from the Sewing Workshop. That is the recommendation for this dress. It gives it better drape than a lighter fabric would. And I love the deep blue color. I don't think it shows up accurately in any of my photographs. It looks like deep indigo to me.

The pockets! With this fairly generous A-line, the pockets are just right, I think. They are single layer side seam pockets top-stitched in place. The shape is almost square so it continues the angular shapes in other parts of the design.

The top-stitching! Linen loves top-stitching and there is plenty of it in this pattern.

I cut my size according to the bust measurements and it is spot-on. I love the way it fits.

What I do not love:

As I was preparing to cut it out, I noticed that the dress pieces looked too short. I'm so glad that I measured that! Again I should not focus on body parts, but I am more comfortable with my knee caps covered. It would be great looking short but I prefer dresses longer. So I added 3 1/2 inches to the length before cutting into the fabric. I am 5'5", for reference.

It's a PDF pattern that needs to be printed. I sent it off to along with a couple of others I've collected. It's easier and maybe cheaper in the long run to send it off for printing, rather than using my printer to tile 8.5x11 inch sheets of paper together. I've found that printing 3 patterns just about justifies the shipping and handling charge. Ah - this is the way of the world right now.

I want to make it again but I'm not sure that makes much sense. It is pretty distinctive. Maybe a top, though. It's still summer here in the southeastern USA so I might enjoy another sleeveless top.

Such a great pattern. It is a quick make once you download it, print it, trace your size, and cut out the linen pieces. It's rated intermediate and I think that's about right. A little experience goes a long way with these succinct but complete instructions.

I highly recommend!

Friday, July 9, 2021

Old Favorites - Mimosa and Plaza

For an easy and very satisfying summer sewing project, I made the Mimosa top and the Plaza pants. These come from two older patterns from the Sewing Workshop. I enjoyed making them when they came out and I still do.

The Mimosa top is a variation of a simple kimono style. It has two identical fronts that are closed by over-lapping them and attaching them to the side seams. Wrapped tightly enough, that's all the closure that is needed. I hope.

My fabric is a slightly nubby 100% cotton shot that reads light-medium teal, but more blue.

The original Plaza pants have a front tuck down the center front and no side seams. By omitting the front tuck and overlapping to two pattern pieces, it makes an easy pair of straight-leg pants. I cropped the length too. 

I think this pattern is just right for a vertical stripe. The striped cotton is from the same line as the solid blue, both purchased at Five-Eighth Seams in Charleston, SC.

After my last head-scratcher, these were something of a relief. I had sewn both before, though it had been a while for the Mimosa top. The only challenge was that I was away from home, babysitting grandkids and so I was working in less-than-ideal sewing conditions.

I brought my sweet little Featherweight 222K and it was also a pleasure to sew with. I did have to improvise on seam finishes for the Mimosa side seams because I did not have my serger. With the little vent, it's hard to use either French seams or Flat-fell seams, my go-to seam finishes with this old machine. 

Instead of these options, I simply sewed 1/4" from the raw edge and then the usual 5/8" seam allowance. I may go back and *pink* the edges - another old-fashioned technique! They might not fray much though.

I used bias tubes to make ties rather than using buttons. 

There's not much to be said about the Plaza pants. I do like their signature flat front on the waistband though.

It's nice to have a fresh new ensemble for these hot summer days!

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Vogue 1784 - I love it and I hate it

I've been anxious to get back into Marcy Tilton patterns. They are such good puzzles, a real pleasure to sew. But then Linda Lee re-introduced the Sewing Workshop Hibiscus, a very good shirt. I was torn but  Vogue 1784 won out. I wanted to sew a new-to-me pattern.
Vogue 1784 Marcy Tilton design

As I was pondering these two interesting patterns, I saw a review on Pattern Review by Linda Rohlfing of Vogue 1784. Her review is not positive, and it is accurate. I just had to prove it to myself. I'm stubborn that way. 

From Pattern Review, shirt by Linda Rohlfing

I love, love, love Gayle's version here. Her style is wonderful, edgy and totally wearable, a difficult combination to pull off, I think.

As Linda Lee re-launched the Hibiscus, I was drawn to her fresh summer looks. Her kits include gingham and other shirt fabrics in sweet combinations. Although I am strongly influenced by Linda Lee, I like to organize my own kits. Or I think I do.

Slightly modified from original Hibiscus Shirt pattern, Sewing Workshop

There was also this yummy display of summer ginghams and coordinates at Five-Eighth Seams, a lovely shop in Charleston, SC where we were visiting our daughter. I so wish I had taken a picture of their table. This shop knows its market and has fabrics that speak to the Charleston vibe. Their fabrics are also reasonably priced, so cheaper than a kit, in theory, if not in practice. Sigh.

Here is my 2012 version of the Hibiscus. Now that I've dropped some pounds, I'll be pulling this one out to wear again. 

In my heart-of-hearts, I know I like subtle hints of mixing fabrics. That little neckband is an example of something I like and I wear. Yet here is my first version of Vogue 1784, a what-was-I-thinking-make:

Part of the problem is that it is too big on me, maybe? I did not spot the finished measurements on the pattern pieces until it was too late. I chose size M and might trace off size S next. 

I have decided to think of this as a toile. I had fun making it and it wasn't terribly expensive. And, heck, maybe I will wear it. It reads pajamas and I can always use new ones.

I do really, really like this pattern with all its interesting twists and turns, especially the collar-from-hell. I have become somewhat complacent in my sewing with the Sewing Workshop. The instructions are extensive and I don't have to think that hard. 

The instructions for Vogue 1784 were not nearly so thorough. And that is sort-of OK. It is not a bad idea to engage my mind in a puzzle, though I prefer one with a solution.

Let's take a quick look at Linda Rohlfing's criticism of Vogue 1784. Her complaint is that one front facing is not wide enough to reach the shoulder seam and fully cover the raw edges of the collar. Her complaint is spot-on if you try to follow the written instructions provided in the pattern envelope.

Then I discovered a series of YouTube videos put together by Marcy on the collar and facing. Without these, I would have had the same problem that Linda did. I had a different problem. 

Look at steps 29 and 30 in the written instructions. It is impossible to cover the raw edges of the collar on the inside if these steps are taken. So, thought I, follow Marcy's videos and ignore the written instructions. Nope. There are too many gaps in the videos. I tried combining the written instructions and the videos. Nope. 

I wrote to her and she replied that, short of sitting next to me, she could not offer anything else. I sorted it out on my own but I'm not happy. There are weak spots that may ravel in the wash. That's OK - I might not ever need to wash this.

I love that interesting collar and I'm not ready to give up. If I come up with a solution that I can describe I'll re-post. 

In the meantime, here are some recommendations if you decide to make this pattern, included mostly for me when I try to repeat this crazy experience.

  • Mark all circles, small and large, clearly. I used two different colors of basting thread to distinguish them on the fronts and the back. The tucks made no sense without really clear tailor's tacks for the two different sized circles.
  • There four (4!) different pattern pieces labeled Front Collar. So, keep all collar pieces pinned to the corresponding pattern tissue even as while sewing them. Piece 6 looks a lot like piece 9 and I would never have kept them straight without keeping the tissue actually attached to them.
  • Make more samples in hopes of inventing a way to make that collar!

Here is my finished collar from the inside:

Now I'm thinking I need matching PJ pants. Five-eighths Seams is just a phone call away. Maybe they still have some of that fabric...