Friday, April 10, 2015

McCalls 7046 T-shirt : a sort of new pattern for a change

Hey I sewed up a new pattern! To be precise, a not so old pattern. I think it was the McCalls release previous to the most recent one, and I bought it on impulse. Actually I tried to improvise this ruched side seam t-shirt a while ago and the result was ok, but sometimes it is so nice and simple to buy the exact pattern.

dot tshirt front McCalls 7046

I am really happy that I tried this pattern. Kind of cute, huh?

dot shirt on form

I got this knit fabric at a Bay area Sewist Meetup group a few months ago, so basically free. Not sure what is the fabric composition but it feels like 100% cotton interlock knit.

neckline of dot t-shirt McCalls 7046

I don't recall what the neck finish was on the pattern instructions (because I never follow them) but for a cotton interlock t-shirt I think the neckline band finish looks the best.  In this old post about t-shirts there is a link to a video on the Threads magazine site that explains it so clearly. The stripe looks a bit swoopy in the center top but it doesn't seem that way when worn, I think it is a slight optical illusion of the dotty stripe.

Now with this close up of the top do you see my slight mistake? I was trying very hard to match the stripes for the sleeves, and using the aqua row as my match line, but obviously not paying attention otherwise as the fabric is upside down on the sleeves. But I never even noticed until I looked at this photo. So hopefully not really noticeable.

Here is the pattern envelope, with a print mostly obscuring the pattern detail, of course!

McCalls 7046 pattern envelope

McCalls 7046 tech drawing

and the drawing. The more I look at it the more I like the dress version with the single layer ruffle skirt - but sleeveless for summer. I have some oddball knit jersey that might be just right for this.

Super simple pattern and some interesting details about the fit. I rarely make McCalls patterns but every once in a while. The only other knit top I have made with McCalls is this one which I have made three times. It is kind of big in the size 12, I had to take it up at the shoulders to get it to fit so very roomy. Some fitting details on that pattern in this post . I wonder if it is roomy because it is a Palmer and Pletsch for McCalls pattern, and those patterns are designed for fitting adjustments. Don't get me wrong, their patterns are sometimes a bit frumpy on the envelope but actually quite good and even though they require going through the fitting steps (for most people) the result is a nice.

Anyway, I was expecting McCalls roominess in the neck and shoulders and this pattern is not like that. At all! No wiggle room, and I was lucky that it fit but it is not at all like a typical Big 4 t-shirt pattern, at least to my experience. Also I cut it out with an extra inch down the full length of the side seams front and back because I like to fit on the fly. I ended up taking away most all of that above the waist and keeping it around the hips but that is my typical pattern adjustment. I saw a review that the top came out too small for the person who sewed it, and it very clearly states the finished bust measurement is less than the pattern size bust measure by about an inch. So that is negative ease, people. Beware! If your knit is not very stretchy or you don't want the super clingy look then adjust accordingly. For a t-shirt I don't like things to be super tight, so you might think my version looks too loose but I prefer it that way. And ignore the fit on the dress form - that thing has no hips whatsoever.

The side seam gathers could not be easier, just a piece of elastic sewn on the side seam. I actually used their elastic guide and it was perfect. another plus for this pattern.

dot shirt side view McCalls 7046

Final note - completely construction on my regular machine, straight stitch. I am just not a serger sewer - only for seam finishing. Although I would like to have the machine that sews the knit hems, is that the coverstitch? but in the scheme of things not really important.

Another look, and a few tulips in the background. Plus the sad drought-stricken lawn. We have to save our water for important things around here - like the swimming pool. Does that sound awful? but hey, California, what are you going to do?

tshirt dots

Also I just finished another t-shirt and and I am putting the cuffs on a woven shirt so it is the season of tops.

Happy weekend sewing, and I hope things are starting to look like spring for everyone.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Random Threads #12: stuff in progress and how sewing lessons work

What, April already? So trite to say but this year is flying by. I am kind of flitting around in my sewing projects, nothing much planned and that is fine by me. It impresses me when people do a big seasonal planning of their sewing, or a wardrobe revamp, or deep analysis of what they want to have. Not me, I just sew up whatever strikes my fancy. Once in a while I decide I need something particular, like a dressy winter coat, or maybe an outfit for a certain occasion, but for the most part I just finish one project and look around to see what can come next.

What has come next was a pattern that I have had for a long time, I even recommended it in my Pattern Whisperer post for daytime and work dresses, which is New Look 6097. Sewn up by a lot of people to great success. I am still on the fence for my version, entirely due to fabric choice. About every two years I sew something using ITY knit and so far have never liked it. Must remember to skip the poly knits!  Is ITY knit always polyester? Seems like. I really love rayon jersey so I will stick with that for the future. Anyway - here are my version(s) of that New Look pattern. I started with long sleeves - decided that was a mistake, went for short, decided that looked dowdy, tried much shorter sleeves, still not working. Took off the sleeves and liked it better. The final version will have another change and I might get to that this weekend.

Mostly it is down to fabric choice - kind of a "what was I thinking" selection. Was on super sale at Joann's so cost about $ 12 - and I had that very nice matching belt already. I love the blues but it is just not doing it for me. Maybe when finished and it is a nice warm spring day I will like it :) Stay tuned.

blue ity dress with sleevesblue ity dress without sleeves

NL 6097 pattern rec

My friend Michelle had a birthday recently and I generally sew something for her. As mentioned before she is just about the same size as me so it is a "cut and sew" operation to make something for her. I decided that a floaty tunic top would be different as I have made knit dresses and a knit top previously.

Red tunic

I used the pattern I designed last summer when I made a tunic top for myself. Which I am very much looking forward to wearing again since the weather is warming - I only wore that once last year in Hawaii before autumn.
I had thought about putting a contrast fabric on the yoke but everything I tried looked odd, so I used the self fabric and added trim which is soutache braid (red) and bias tape turned into piping (white). Have you ever used that soutache braid before? It is really fun to work with, and I have to say kind of easy. It behaves well and steamed into place for curves or corners. I first used it when I made this vintage dress - also red! The fabric for this tunic top is a lovely cotton voile I found at Stone Mountain.
.Red tunic closeup

Sewing lessons - or more accurately sewing instruction. I get questions about my sewing "classes" so I thought I would just write a few words about what I do. It usually starts with someone emailing me after reading here and asking how it all works.
It starts with the individual and what they want in terms of sewing instruction. I don't teach a specific class, we just schedule a day or days and I teach whatever you want to learn.  Here are a few typical scenarios.

  • Fit a basic pattern. We would talk beforehand about fit issues, what might be previous issues with fit or what makes a good dress pattern. I suggest some basic dress or other patterns that we can choose from, we take measurements, look at the pattern, do some flat pattern fitting adjustments, cut out and sew up a muslin, adjust that muslin, then transfer the adjusted muslin back to the paper pattern. At this point we are usually exhausted :)  That is a full day usually, and at that point my suggestion is to for the student to make a second muslin at home to see how all the changes fit - usually quite well. This same process applies for anything else, like a jacket, shirt, skirt etc (but I confess not pants, just not my area). 
  • Technique: it can be anything from cutting out and marking a pattern to how to get a perfect lapel. I love the technical side of sewing but the majority of my students have be interested in fitting - no surprise there as it is something we all deal with. How and where to use all the different interfacings, and why. How to press and what tools are helpful. Zippers, buttonholes and my favorite: welt pockets. 
  • Pattern and fabric: Sometimes we have spent an hour analyzing patterns and discussing why certain patterns might be better for one figure or another, which patterns are good for various levels whether beginner, intermediate or advanced. Why certain patterns are more simple to fit and adjust than others. What about ease? is it a conspiracy put over by the pattern companies? Answer: no.  What size to start with? that is a good one and just like bras many people are starting with the wrong size. I love it when someone brings a bag of patterns and garments so I can see what has been going on in their sewing room and hopefully give some suggestions or ideas for their next projects. 
So those are some of the things I have covered in teaching sewing during these past few years. Plus lots of sewing talk - since we now are all connected via the sewing web and have all kind of friends in common - even though most of them we have never met in person! 

Up next, finish that dress, I completed a couple of cute t-shirts which I will show soon, including McCalls 7046 which I just might have to repeat in the sassy dress version.

Happy Easter and happy spring sewing, Beth

today's garden photo, one of the first tulips.

Pink tulip

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

a new Green Shirt for St. Patrick's day

To my surprise I have not seen one green item in my reading of sewing blogs today. I suppose St. Patrick's day is considered another goofy holiday and excuse to drink beer but with my heritage it is the real deal. Having visited the farm in Ireland where my grandfather was born (which is still in the family) I can attest to the fact that you have not seen green until you have been to Ireland. Dazzling in hue and variation.
So that means I will wear something green and here is this year's item. I got this knit fabric at a Bay Area sewing meet-up fabric swap earlier this year and figured it would be good for trying out a t-shirt or something. But last week I had the idea to make a regular collared shirt - but in knit instead of woven.

Here it is, and while it has a few quirks I am quite happy with the result - super comfortable and I love the color.

green shirt front

OK first off let's just note that there are no buttons down the front. Yes. I took the easy way out. I had made it with a placket front, and then in the trying on and fitting process, when I was pinning the front together I had a minor revelation - knit shirt - no fastenings needed! I can pull it over my head. So I just sewed it together in the front, overlapping as if it were buttoned. So lazy and yet it worked out fine. I may just sew up another of these knit-y shirts. Also I forgot to put interfacing in the placket and buttonholes + knit fabric with no stabilization = very unsightly buttonholes. Maybe I should sew on some buttons but I think why bother? In fact the next one may have a placket at the neck like a tunic top.
What pattern?  My trusty Simplicity 2339 Amazing fit shirt, which I have made 3 times before, flannel version, cotton voile version, silk charmeuse version. How's that for versatility? And this has to be one of the most hideous pattern envelope versions. Fine, let's just stipulate that most pattern envelope photos are terrible. The ones that are good looking are actually the minority. My suggestion - LOOK past the styling - study the technical drawings. I was just talking about this over the past weekend. That probably people who are newer to sewing do use the photo of the actual garment to base their choices on, whether for good or bad. I try to ignore (or scoff at) the photos, whether indie or Big 4/Burda and just use the drawings to decide on a pattern.

Blue silk blouse pattern S2339

Back view. I did do quite extensive fitting alterations once I had the side seams basted together, realizing it was way too big for a knit shirt (but works fine for a non-stretch flannel). So I took it in about 2 inches on each side seam, narrowed the sleeve by 2 inches, and moved the shoulder seam in about 3/8".  Now that it is done I am not 100% happy with the bust dart placement, could maybe be a little lower but whatever, I can live with it.
green shirt back

I used a lightweight cotton for the cuffs and collar stand as I always see these cute shirts with mixed prints or accent fabrics and wanted to try it out. Making those sleeve plackets is not that bad, it's like buttonholes or zippers, once you do it a few times it goes really quick. And as you can see I could probably narrow the cuffs for my smallish wrists but I just move the buttons to where it fits better. Note to self, the sleeves are a bit long and I still haven't shortened the pattern. Probably because of my extra short arms I am used to all sleeves being too long and never even think about it. Duh!

green shirt cuff

Things are green around here but I had to actually water some plants over the weekend  - it's going be a cruel summer.....

me in green shirt

Happy St. Patrick's Day and happy sewing, 

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Random Threads # 11 pattern choices and fabric purchases

Spring is well and truly here in Northern California - not that winter ever fully arrived. Thank you for all the nice comments on my last jacket project, I appreciate it and while I am very happy with that pattern it is going in the closet until November or so. No way I would have any opportunity to wear it as our temps are hitting the 80's (F) this weekend so I am breaking out the shorts. Once again I apologize to you in the snow zone - but when you have a lush green summer and we are parched and scorching then the tables will be turned.

Speaking of summer sewing - I bought some new fabrics recently. Which may seem a typical thing to say but not for me as I hardly ever buy fabric in a store lately. It seems I have found about 75% of my fabrics at garage sales or sewing swaps. To tell the truth I just bought some this morning, some turquoise blouse weight linen and a two tone cotton, both destined for shirts, investment four dollars.

Also I have been looking through my patterns and deciding what to make. This past year was all about pattern repeats but I want to crack open a few that I bought with full intention to sew and haven't. Plus I need to talk about my abiding pattern obsession - which is any Vogue pattern by Donna Karan. It is so strange as I don't really get any charge out of her collections when I see them. Probably due to the use of black, earth tones, a lot of oversized items. They just look too New York for this west coast life. But the shapes are often so flattering on a female body and that is the beauty of sewing, picking the fabric and color that suits you personally.

So here is a collection of my DK patterns and some thoughts on what I might make next.
First up:  these are two I plan to make this spring. The one on the left, V1220 was picked up at a pattern swap at a Bay Area Sewists meet up - my friend Laura Mae dragged me over the the table and said "you have to take this pattern, it looks good on everyone who makes it"  OK I was sold. The one on the right,  V1236 seems such a simple yet easy silhouette to wear, and uses almost no fabric so I will give that a try as I live in shift dresses when the temps go over 100F.

V1220 imageV1236 env

And now two patterns that I have had for a while - never purchased them as new but got them for free at other swaps. They always were on my "I wish" list but due to my miserly tendencies hadn't bought them at retail. But free - can't resist. I like them both and have seen seen nice versions on the web, particularly the V1087 on the left. (checkout this version). I almost started the one on the right last summer, V1281 but kind of ran out of time so didn't get that made. (But again Carolyn did, in a completely unique version).

V1087 imageV1281 env

Sometimes these Karan patterns start to seem a bit similar, as these two look kind of alike on the envelope but are not at all. The one on the left, V1287 I made for myself back in 2012 and have only worn it twice. It is just too much drapey fabric on my, I probably should have sized down and maybe taken out some fullness. So not a winner. Although I like the skirt design with the drapey (droopy?) pockets. The one on the right, V1159 was much better. I made this for a friend and while the pattern has some issues (gapey armhole problem that everyone encountered) it is very glamorous and I was really happy with the result. Here is the link to that dress's blogpost.  I also did a post comparing this pattern to a Vogue Michael Kors dress pattern as they are similar in idea, and that is one of the most read posts here on my blog.

V1287 envV1159 env

What's left in my DK Vogue pattern stash? This one qualified for my designation of "Pattern Love" which I don't hand out lightly. And I hate the version on the envelope.  I don't even like cowl necklines as a rule. But this dress is SO well designed, sews up beautifully. Can be made in a knit or a woven.  I have made it 4 times, my first version here and then a couple more times for a friend.

V1351 env

Some honorable mentions - this one below V1250 doesn't appeal to me but I made it for a friend and it looked great on her. I think if you have a fuller upper body and slim lower - which some women do - then this dress looks very flattering. If you lean more towards the full hip and smaller bust then the pattern above  (V1351) gives a similar cowl effect but might be better. The V1250 is maybe one of the easiest dress patterns I have ever sewn, Vogue or otherwise.

V1250 env

And my Donna obsession goes way back, as this one below is my most treasured pattern. Just a simple sheath dress but somehow perfect for me. The copyright date on my pattern says 1990. This dress is a keeper - truth be told a bit snug now but I will never get rid of it. Wore it a zillion times, made with coral wool crepe and has held up beautifully. I think wool crepe is a perfect dress fabric as it shapes beautifully, the colors are fantastic and holds up to wear.

V2470 envRed DK dress front

So those are my DK pattern obsessions, the strange thing is I have not bought any of the most recent releases for maybe 18 months? If history is any guide I will be snapping them up later at a swap or trade.

What about all that fabric I bought?  Here is a quick rundown.
First a purchase from Girl Charlee. They have so many fabrics I like but this cherry blossom blue knit print has caught my eye for many months. The pineapple print denim is a bit goofy but I showed it to my mom as I thought it would make a cute little denim jacket for her. So I ordered 4 yards. I may end up with some wacky shorts as well.

Girl charlee fabrics

A few more. The dot/stripe knit I got at a fabric swap, and will make a cute summer t-shirt. The paisley blue cotton print I bought at Joann fabrics this week, along with the blue mosaic floral print ITY on the right. The paisley print for a button front shirt and the ITY jersey for a wrap dress which may look slightly polyester and/or geriatric but I will give it a try.

blue paisley cotton and dot knitblue mosaic floral ITy

Some stripes - the light blue and the black/white I got at a fabric swap, good for t-shirts. The Navy blue with kelly green stripes is another actual purchase ! which I bought at Stone Mountain, for another version of the shingle dress Vogue 8904 which I wore a lot last summer.

trio of stripes

So as usual a heavy dose of blue in all forms in my sewing queue. However I am working on something green for St. Patrick's day,  a long standing tradition in my very Irish half of my family.

green knit shirt

Happy weekend sewing and I hope the leprechauns don't hide your scissors as they sometimes do to me!


Today's garden photo, the Spanish lavender seems to have bloomed overnight and I can't get enough of these gorgeous colors, purple and green are perfect together. 

Spanish lavender

Friday, March 6, 2015

Burda Shawl Collar Coat 11/2014 # 111 in plum heathered wool

The calendar still says winter but it feels like spring around here - and yet  I have just completed one of the warmest garments I have ever sewn. This pattern grabbed me the moment I saw it despite the fact I have no need for another coat. I had this piece of wool bought at Stone Mountain about a year ago so I decided to give it a try. Note I bought the PDF pattern download from the BurdaStyle website, not the magazine pattern.

Burda Plum jacket front

Burda coat 111 shawl collar pattern
And I really wanted to make a full length coat but once I started cutting out I realized I had nowhere near enough fabric so it became a jacket not a coat. To compound that, I was this close to making a very major mistake - totally forgetting to cut out the facings. At least until I did my usual step back and do a little mental origami. I run through all the pieces on the table and "construct" the item in my head - and that is when I realized I had not planned to cut out the facings, which definitely show on this design. Whew!

Burda plum coat back

I didn't make any changes in the pattern - actually sewed it just as is. Oops one change, it had buttonholes marked about an inch above the waist seam but I decided it was a perfect design to make the in seam buttonholes, as I did on this other Burda jacket. Can you believe I found these buttons at Joanns? I just went in there thinking I might find something so I could finish it and maybe get better ones later but these are just right.

Burda Plum coat buttons

Burda plum coat collar

Interfacing on upper and under collar, plus all the way down the front. I also catch-stitched down those seams where the collar joins the coat so it would stay flat. This fabric was so thick and springy, it really needed a lot of trimming and grading.

Burda plum coat insideBurda plum coat seam trim

It was about 70 degrees this afternoon and I ran outside and took a pretty terrible iPhone timer photo so you can see how it looks on and how the collar falls. I think this will get plenty of wear next fall but for now it being put away in the closet with the other winter stuff!  my apologies to everyone in the snow zone.
Burda coat on me

The lining is ambiance rayon.

Burda lining plum coat
One thing I might need to change is to add something onto the hem edge, I should have put a seam finish there because it is raveling a bit. As you can see, I didn't sew the lining to the hem, kind of not the typical but I like a lining to be loose from the jacket or coat bottom, once in a while I attach it but mostly I don't.

Burda hem plum coat

One last look at the coat with the collar up. When I first posted the coat muslin I think there was a comment that it was a Fashion coat as opposed to a Winter coat. But I think it could be a very warm coat and you could easily put another button or other closure at the top. It is a very easy pattern and perfect for a beginner.

Burda plum coat collar up

So onto the next projects which might be pants, I really want to make some crazy print pants for spring. And just ordered some pineapple print denim from Girl Charlee. Summer is coming !!!

Happy Daylight Savings Sewing, Beth

and something in the purple range for today's garden photo, violas in violet.

viola violet

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Sewing a perfect waistband and other recent Craftsy posts

It seems I am not the only one who doesn't like to sew buttons - based on the previous post's comments there are plenty of you who are with me on that one. Give me a nice zipper closure anyway. Although separating zippers - I find those a bit of trouble also. Oh well, unless I am going to sew myself into my clothes as they sometimes do on Project Runway I will have to deal with all manner of closures, whether buttons, snaps, zippers or whatever other interesting details I can think of. (my friends Shams and Jean are both brilliant at coming up with interesting closures, and masters of the separating zipper on jackets).

A couple of posts on Craftsy recently that you may be interested in. And a plea to readers for some topic ideas - I am blanking out this week on any ideas for topics. Please suggest something to me :)

This one was very dear to my heart - it really bugs me to see the waistband not lapping properly at the top of a zipper - check it out to see examples, what to look for and how to fix.

Waistband craftsy post image
Plaid perfect waistband

And one that I always think is nice for spring/summer sewing:  How to create a scalloped edge. You don't need to look for a pattern that already has this detail, you can customize any pattern. Using "tools" from the kitchen. What?  Check out the post and see.

Scallops Craftsy image
scallop dress photo

Happy I can't believe it is already March sewing, Beth

and a little daffodil sunshine for you. I love daffodils, they naturalize, they multiply, they reliably pop up year after year. A perfect addition to the garden!

daffodils front yard
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