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My Favorite Fall and Winter Sewing Patterns

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My Favorite Fall and Winter Sewing Patterns

Hi, friends!  My most recent project is all finished, but not yet photographed.  Hopefully I’ll get a chance to take some pictures this week so I can share it with you soon.  In the meantime, let’s talk cool weather sewing!

One thing I have been thinking about as the weather has gotten colder here is which patterns have become favorites in my fall and winter wardrobe.  By now, I’ve sewn through a lot of patterns.  Some projects have been real wins, and others have been given to family, friends, or the thrift store because something about them just didn’t work out.  The most interesting discovery has been that it’s not just the patterns that have to be winners–it’s pairing the right pattern with the right fabric that makes these garments my favorites.

Let’s look at a few of my favorites below.  When possible, I’ve linked to the pattern and original or similar fabrics.  None of these are affiliate links–I just want you to be able to find the same information and products I did if you want to.  (Fabric links, if not listed in this post, are in my original posts.)

Tops

I have two favorite sweatshirts right now.  One is the Style Arc Josie Hoodie.

Style Arc Josie Hoody/Hoodie in Polartec Power Stretch

I made this sweatshirt from Polartec Power Stretch, one of my absolute favorite fall and winter fabrics.  I really think that making this pattern in this fabric is what has me reaching for it over and over again.  This particular Power Stretch is–yes–stretchy, but it’s also thick and squishy with a smooth outside and fleecy inside.  The longer length and curved hem of the pattern are nice touches as well.

My other favorite sweatshirt right now is my Brunswick Pullover from Hey June Handmade in Polartec Curly Fleece and Rifle Paper Co. quilting cotton.

Hey June Handmade Brunswick Pullover in Polartec Curly Fleece

I love the colors, the cool details in this pattern (arm pocket, side snaps, cowl neck), and the fluffy fabric.  My family calls this my muppet sweatshirt because of the fabric.  It’s super cozy.

My current favorite t-shirt pattern is the free Plantain Tee from Deer & Doe patterns.

My New Favorite T-Shirt Pattern:  the Deer & Doe Plantain T-Shirt

I have many versions of this t-shirt (batch one, batch two), a few of which are in wool knits.  Wool and Polartec brand fleece are my two favorite cold-weather fabrics, and having a few Plaintains in wool jersey means that not only are they great for daily wear, they also work for camping and as exercise gear.

This mashup between the Plaintain Tee and the Strathcona Henley from Thread Theory is a real winner.

Strathcona + Plantain=A Strathcona Henley for Me!

This shirt is made from wool ponte and wool jersey, which were gifts.  If you can ever find wool ponte, I highly recommend it.  It’s both drapey and substantial.  This is a nice, long shirt, but with the right curves for my body since I used the shape of the side seams in the Plantain Tee.

Bottoms

For every day, I would have to say my Morgan Jeans from Closet Case Patterns in non-stretch denim are my top pick.

Morgan Jeans!

I love the fit of these jeans, and with some brightly colored topstitching, they feel a little bit special.  I sized up because I don’t like super tight jeans and I want to be able to fit long underwear or leggings underneath in the cold weather.

For looking a little bit nicer, Simplicity 1696 is my go-to.  I have made these pants several times.  My favorite iteration is my most recent, in Cloud9 Tinted Denim.

Spring Pants!  Simplicity 1696 in Cloud9 Tinted Denim

I think it reads as a pleasingly faded chino.  I like this slightly heavier fabric more than the lighter sateen and quilting cotton I have tried in the past.

Another winner for every day or pajamas is self-drafted leggings using an old tutorial by Cal Patch on Etsy’s blog.  My first pair was in a cheap polyester fabric, and I still use these for pajamas.

MMM'15 Day 11

I’m hoping to make a new pattern this winter, since my measurements have changed.  I’d like to make some leggings in a midweight Polartec Power Stretch.  There is nothing like fleecy leggings for coziness.

Speaking of pajamas, I just pulled out my flannel pajama pants made from out-of-print McCall’s 3019 in Cloud9 organic cotton flannel.

Quick and Easy Pajama Pants:  McCall's 3019

I have used a lot of cheap flannel in my time, and probably will again, but there really is a difference when you use something that is high-quality like this organic flannel.

I have to include my Alabama Chanin Long Skirt in Polartec Sweater Knit.

Alabama Chanin Long Skirt, New England Style

This is a really simple pattern that you can sew on your machine if you don’t want to hand-stitch it, making it super fast to create.  The fleece, which looks like a sweater knit on the outside and is fleecy inside, is really warm, and the skirt is long enough that you can wear long underwear or leggings underneath, keeping yourself nice and toasty.  It’s like you’re wearing a blanket, but it looks nice.

I absolutely love sewing wovens, but I find that in fall and winter, I often want to wear knits.  It took me awhile to notice this trend.  My most successful projects are a great pairing of fabric to pattern, even if the fit isn’t absolutely perfect.  Luckily, knits tend to be pretty forgiving in that area, in addition to continuing to fit should your measurements change somewhat.  All that being said, though, I do want to occasionally challenge myself to make and wear different styles, so I have a few knit and a few woven projects tentatively planned for the winter.

If you have any favorite cold-weather patterns or patterns you are excited to sew in the fall or winter, share in the comments!  I love sewing inspiration!

New Look 6472 Peasant Blouse in a Striped Embroidered Cotton

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New Look 6472 Peasant Blouse in a Striped Embroidered Cotton

Today’s project is New Look 6472, a peasant-style blouse in a lightweight striped cotton with an embroidered edge.  I love the boho, ’70’s-inspired style that’s been going around, and this pattern is perfect for that.

New Look 6472 Peasant Blouse in Striped Cotton

I found this fabric in the clearance section of Hobby Lobby in Indiana this summer.  I had planned to make a skirt with it, but changed my mind when considering what fabric to use for a first try of this pattern.  I decided to make View A with the sleeves of View C in a size 18 bust and 20 waist and hip.

New Look 6472 Peasant Blouse in Striped Cotton

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New Look 6472 Peasant Blouse in Striped Cotton

In order to use the fabric well, I made a few adjustments to the pattern.  There are two lengths included.  However, the embroidered edge seemed perfect for the bottom, and I wanted it to fall at midhip, so I shorted it 1.5″ from the shorter view.  I also took a risk and lined up the finished embroidered edge straight to the bottom of the front and back pattern pieces, even though it threw the grainline off a bit and added a wedge of fabric into the center front and back.  I figured I could probably gather that into the neckline.

New Look 6472 Peasant Blouse in Striped Cotton

Luckily it didn’t seem like a broadback adjustment was necessary on this pattern, and the little bit of fabric those wedges added seemed like extra insurance.

New Look 6472 Peasant Blouse in Striped Cotton

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New Look 6472 Peasant Blouse in Striped Cotton

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New Look 6472 Peasant Blouse in Striped Cotton

The pattern wasn’t too difficult, which was nice after all the changes I attempted on my last project.  There were a few little things I would change.  I think they forgot a step between steps 11 and 12.  It should direct you to press the unsewn long raw edge of the binding to the wrong side at 3/8″.

Also, there was no direction to trim the seam allowance around the neckline, but I thought it seemed like a good idea.  If you leave it untrimmed, it can create some structure to wrap the neckline binding around, but that seemed like it might be a little too stiff for this shirt.

New Look 6472 Peasant Blouse in Striped Cotton

Additionally, when making the neck ties, I think it would be easier to fold the tie right sides together the long way, sew one short end, pivot, and sew the long edge, leaving the thread tails from the beginning of your sewing long.  You can then thread them through a needle, push that needle to the inside and push it through the tube and out the open end, turning the tie right side out.

New Look 6472 Peasant Blouse in Striped Cotton

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New Look 6472 Peasant Blouse in Striped Cotton

I finished the inside with French seams, which I love.  I also like the little buttons on the sleeves, but I didn’t plan ahead to find some nice looking elastic for my button loops, so I used the 1/8″ white elastic I had on hand.  The buttons are vintage ones from my in-laws (thanks, Mom and Dad!).

New Look 6472 Peasant Blouse in Striped Cotton

I’m happy with how this shirt turned out.  I suspect that the armholes might need some fitting tweaks that I don’t yet know how to do, but I have to say that other than trying it out under a warm sweater the day I finished it, I haven’t had a chance to wear it.  It’s been pretty cold here.  My plan was to wear it once or twice and then put it away for the spring, but it may go to a family member who fell in love with it.  I love it too, but I actually have a fair number of shirts, and I can always make another one…or borrow it back. 😉

I’m really happy to have found a pattern in this style that I like, and I hope to make more of these–maybe in a drapey fabric next time!

New Look 6472 Peasant Blouse in Striped Cotton

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New Look 6472 Peasant Blouse in Striped Cotton

This Could Be a Fail…Simplicity 8841 Pants

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This Could Be a Fail…Simplicity 8841 Pants

It’s turned cold here, and I’m hurriedly trying to finish the projects I cut out while it was still warmish.  I just finished the pants in today’s post and a top.  Next up is a jacket.

Simplicity 8841 Pants

What do I say about these pants?  I’m not really sure.  I can’t decide if I like them or if they are a big fail.  I think the truth is probably somewhere in the middle.  The pattern is good, but the alterations I made to it may not have been.

For this project, I decided to try using my measurements to alter the flat pattern before cutting out my pants.  I have a few Big 4 pant or short patterns that I have made multiples of, and each time, I tweak them just a little bit more to get closer and closer to what I want.  I was hoping to skip right to the “what I want” part of things by doing it this way.  If I could just figure out the right shape, I could use it on all future pairs of pants.  Well…I may have adjusted a bit too fiercely.

Pattern and Fabric

My pattern is Simplicity 8841, View C, but with the patch pockets and no belt or belt loops.

Simplicity 8841 Pants

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Simplicity 8841 Pants

I chose to make it in a cotton twill fabric that is probably on the light side of midweight from Joann Fabrics.  This pattern is one for pull on pants, and View C is supposed to be the longer length and have a slim leg.  My measurements put me at a 20 waist and right between a 20 and 22 for my hip.  Since this was a pull on pant (i.e. elastic waist, no zipper or buttons), I got nervous about the hip being too small, and I wanted the pants to be comfortable when I sat, so I made a straight 22.

Flat Pattern Alterations

I used the book Sewing Pants That Fit from the Singer Sewing Reference Library.  I like these books a lot.  The pictures and illustrations are very clear and easy to understand, plus you can easily find these books used for a low price online or in thrift stores.

I measured myself, which is something books always recommend that you do with a sewing buddy if possible, because it’s hard to measure yourself.  Perhaps to my detriment, I tried on my own anyway, taking into account the fact that the pants are supposed to sit an inch below the natural waist.

It seemed like I was going to need more crotch length, with most of that length in the back.

On the front pattern piece I added a small wedge and a little at the thigh to get the right length.

Simplicity 8841 Pants

On the back, I added a wedge and length to the back crotch point.

Simplicity 8841 Pants

First Impressions

My first thoughts when I tried these on was that they felt great, but looked bad.  All that extra fabric is super comfortable, but some of it had to go!

Fitting Changes After Initial Construction

First up, choosing to make a 22 instead of a 20 was overkill.  I should have made the straight 20.  The 22 was definitely too big, even for someone like me who likes a lot of ease.  In the end, I shaved off 1/8″ from the crotch seam and inseams, and 1/4″ off both side seams, and the pants are still a bit too big.

Simplicity 8841 Pants

After that, I took 1″ off the top of the pants, and then 1.75″ more off the front, tapering to nothing at the side seams, because they were just too high-waisted for what they were supposed to be.

Simplicity 8841 Pants

I think I should go back into my flat pattern and remove the wedge adjustment I made to the front.  I was trying to add length however I could, but that wedge adjustment is actually used for a full abdomen, and although my stomach is fuller than it used to be, this doesn’t seem to be the correct adjustment for me.  Even after what I shaved off, it is still too baggy in the front.

Simplicity 8841 Pants

I’d also really like my pants to feel slightly higher in the back than the front.  I don’t know if I’m the only one on that, but it just feels more comfortable to me.

Simplicity 8841 Pants

Conclusions

Rather than achieving my goal of skipping right to the end of fitting, I think I made more problems.  I think I’ve learned a few things:  I shouldn’t do a wedge adjustment in the front, I SHOULD do a wedge adjustment in the back, and adding length at the back crotch point was probably a good idea (not sure if the front crotch point length was helpful or harmful).  Maybe I should have traced off the crotch curves from the Ginger or Morgan jeans, both from Closet Case Patterns.  Those patterns fit me pretty well from the beginning.  Maybe the lesson here is to be a bit more patient with the fitting process and to just keep trying.

Simplicity 8841 Pants

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Simplicity 8841 Pants

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Simplicity 8841 Pants

After all the tweaks I did, I still felt the pants were shorter than I wanted and wider at the bottom.  They don’t look tapered to me.  However, I think I’m done for now.  These just aren’t warm enough for the cold weather.  I think they’ll have to wait until spring to get more wear.  I can always do more evaluation then.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gucci-esque Embroidered Jacket

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Gucci-esque Embroidered Jacket

I’m really excited about the jacket I have to share with you today.  I didn’t sew it—I upcycled it!

Gucci-esque Embroidered Jacket

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Gucci-esque Embroidered Jacket

This wool shirt jacket was waiting for me at the Army Barracks, a military surplus store in Salem, MA.  I guessed from the collar that it might have been made in the 1970’s.  Do you think I could be right?  Clearly it had already been altered—there were a few patched and darned areas and the hem had been changed, but that didn’t bother me.  It gave the shirt an interesting history.  Since I love wool, olive green as a neutral, and shirt jackets, I bought it.

After getting it home and washing and drying it, I decided to redo some of the mending.  I covered the original darned area on the sleeve with more darning in a thread color that matched the jacket better.  To do that, I dropped the feed dogs on my machine and used a darning foot and a zigzag stitch.  Then I sewed back and forth in a crazy scribble all over the original darn to cover it up.

Gucci-esque Embroidered Jacket

before

Gucci-esque Embroidered Jacket

after

I also redid the area that had been patched on the button band.

Gucci-esque Embroidered Jacket

I cut a rectangle of a matching cotton twill fabric, folded and pressed under the edges, and sewed it to the back of the hole.

Gucci-esque Embroidered Jacket

Then I darned the hole the same way I had on the sleeve.

Gucci-esque Embroidered Jacket

The next thing the jacket needed was standout details.

I often think about decorating my clothes, but usually talk myself out of it.  Not this time, though!  This shirt jacket seemed like just the garment to try adding a little fun to.  Pink + green, florals + utility, “flair”—I love it!  I had a lot of Rifle Paper Co. rayon Les Fleurs bias tape left over from when I made my friend a linen jacket, so that is where I started.  It seemed like a good way to highlight the unique back and front lines of the shirt yoke.

Gucci-esque Embroidered Jacket

testing ideas

Gucci-esque Embroidered Jacket

Then, I thought maybe a patch would be cool.  I found a great tiger patch at Joann Fabric.  I ironed the patch on and then used advice I had seen from Lauren Taylor (@lladybird) on Instagram, and sewed the edges of the patch with regular thread in my bobbin and clear thread on top using a tiny zig zag stitch.  I LOVED it!  But it needed something more.

Gucci-esque Embroidered Jacket

I started hunting around for patches, maybe some swallows.  Somewhere around this time, I started to see images of embroidered Gucci jackets.  Some of them I liked, some I didn’t, but I discovered a few things:  the back of the Gucci jackets I liked best had images that related to one another somehow, whether they told a pictorial story or were just grouped in a way that was visually pleasing.  I also discovered that you can find a lot of knock-off Gucci patches on the internet if you want to make your own version of a Gucci jacket.

I found a great pair of swallows on Amazon.  Once I put those on the jacket, it felt almost finished.

Gucci-esque Embroidered Jacket

I wanted to add some bees, but not the Gucci ones with red and black bodies.  I wanted some with yellow and black bodies that were somewhat realistic looking.  I finally found them from RichLoveFinds on Etsy.  Two went on the back, and one covered the area that had been darned on the sleeve.

Gucci-esque Embroidered Jacket

The original plan was to cover the patch job on the button band, too, but it made the front visually unbalanced, so I left it as it was.

At this point, it was so close to what I wanted, but something wasn’t quite right.  The floral bias tape related well to the jacket, and the patches related well to the jacket, but the bias tape and the patches weren’t meshing together, even though they shared some of the same colors.  Then I figured it out!  If I could find a thin black trim to sew on the bottom side of the bias tape, it would have the same outline effect that the patches had.  I found some that was 1/8″ wide at Joann’s, and sewed it on.

Gucci-esque Embroidered Jacket

The ends tended to fray, so I tried to zigzag them, and then applied Fray Check.

Gucci-esque Embroidered Jacket

That was somewhat successful.  It wasn’t perfect, but it was close enough for me.  NOW it was just right!

Gucci-esque Embroidered Jacket

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Gucci-esque Embroidered Jacket

 

I have worn this shirt jacket so often since I made it.  It is a great layering piece as the weather cools down.

P.S.  If you suspect that all the decorations I added to this jacket cost more than the jacket itself, you would be correct.  If you take on your own project like this, you can decide if you want to think about that beforehand or not.  😉

Wrap Skirt in Vintage Fabric: Burda Style 6375

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Wrap Skirt in Vintage Fabric:  Burda Style 6375

I love going antiquing.  A month or two ago, I went to my local flea market and got a deal on some vintage quilting cotton.  Three dollars for 2–3 yards!  I thought about what to make with it, and finally settled on Burda Style 6375, a cute wrap skirt with interesting pockets.  The plan was to underline it with a cotton sheet for opacity and to reduce wrinkling.  It seemed like a fun project to make as the weather is changing.

Wrap Skirt in Vintage Fabric:  Burda Style 6375

The Pattern

This pattern has two views, a shorter skirt designed for leather or imitation leather, and a longer skirt created for woven fabrics.  I opted to make the woven fabric version (View A) in the shorter length.

Wrap Skirt in Vintage Fabric:  Burda Style 6375

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Wrap Skirt in Vintage Fabric:  Burda Style 6375

My measurements put me just one size outside of Burda’s range, so I looked at the pattern and noted how much space was between each size, and then enlarged the largest size by that amount, creating the next size up.  Before cutting, I layered my fabric on top of the sheet with right sides facing out, trying to keep the grainlines going in the same direction.  Then I cut both layers out together.

Wrap Skirt in Vintage Fabric:  Burda Style 6375

Sewing Notes

  • I underlined each of my pattern pieces—and by underlined, I just mean that I cut them out of both fabrics and then treated the double layers as one.  Since neither fabric was slippery, they stayed put once paired together, and I didn’t have to baste them together as is traditional when underlining.  For the pockets, the double layers of cotton were a bit too bulky.  Perhaps the little triangle pieces on the outside of the pockets could have been underlined in silk organza, but I just forged ahead with my double layers of cotton.

Wrap Skirt in Vintage Fabric:  Burda Style 6375

  • I left off the the narrow leather bands shown in the illustrations, but they would certainly be a good addition if they fit the look you are after.  In retrospect, I wish that I had finished the edge of the facing inside the pocket to prevent fraying.  For durability, I stitched two lines around the pockets instead of one and added bartacks to the top corners.

Wrap Skirt in Vintage Fabric:  Burda Style 6375

  • Due to the bulk of the underlining and fashion fabric, I made sure to grade my seams whenever necessary (waistband and tie especially!).
  • I tried to use up whatever lace seam binding I could on the inside of the skirt.  It’s such a fun trim, and I have a good amount thanks to the generosity of various people.  On seams that weren’t covered in seam binding, I turned and stitched my seam allowances.  To do this, you press your seams open, then turn each edge of the allowance under and press again.  Finally, you sew each seam allowance, making that last crease permanent and hiding the raw edges from view.

Wrap Skirt in Vintage Fabric:  Burda Style 6375

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Wrap Skirt in Vintage Fabric:  Burda Style 6375

The Confusing Part

The tie, eyelet, and snap closure were a little confusing, but I finally figured it out.  I’m putting a lot of pictures in this section in case others get confused.  There aren’t a lot of posts or reviews about this pattern, so hopefully this will help.

The snap is meant to go on the inside layers to hold the underlap to the outer layer of the skirt.

Wrap Skirt in Vintage Fabric:  Burda Style 6375

The large metal eyelet goes on the outside corner of the waistband.

Wrap Skirt in Vintage Fabric:  Burda Style 6375

The tie is a long finished rectangle of fabric that gets sewn to the waistband.  Half gets threaded through the eyelet and tied to the other half of the tie.

Wrap Skirt in Vintage Fabric:  Burda Style 6375

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Wrap Skirt in Vintage Fabric:  Burda Style 6375

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Wrap Skirt in Vintage Fabric:  Burda Style 6375

I also added a button inside the overlap and a buttonhole on the underlap so that I could be sure my skirt wouldn’t come untied and fall open with only the snap to hold it on.

Wrap Skirt in Vintage Fabric:  Burda Style 6375

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Wrap Skirt in Vintage Fabric:  Burda Style 6375

My Big Mistake

I did make one rather large mistake…  When the skirt was all finished except for the closures, I tried it on, and found that the underlap just wasn’t long enough.  One gust of wind, and I would have a problem on my hands.  I knew that I had just measured myself and compared my measurements to the pattern.  Why on earth hadn’t Burda made a longer underlap?  What were they thinking?  How was I going to fix this?

The skirt went in “time out” for a few days while I thought this problem over.  I figured I could add more fabric to the underlap, which sounded kind of annoying, but doable (I hate going back to fix things when I’m almost done).  Something was bugging me, though.  The part of the waistband that was supposed to be attached to the underlap only had fabric hanging down from half of it.  That seemed weird.  So I went back and studied my pattern pieces.  And you know what?  The underlap pattern piece said “cut 1 ON FOLD“.  By not cutting on the fold, I had only half of the piece!  It was all my fault!  Rookie mistake.

Luckily, I had just enough fashion fabric and sheet fabric to cut the other half of my skirt piece plus a double seam allowance.  I unpicked my finished edge and waistband, attached the other half of the underlap and finished all my edges.  NOW I had a skirt that had an EXCELLENT and substantial underlap.  No more fear of wind gusts.  I hate fixing things, but it didn’t actually take that long, and it was completely worth it.

Wrap Skirt in Vintage Fabric:  Burda Style 6375

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Wrap Skirt in Vintage Fabric:  Burda Style 6375

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Wrap Skirt in Vintage Fabric:  Burda Style 6375

Success!

I really like this skirt now!  It turned out cute and very comfortable.  I’m happy that I used my vintage find, and with the addition of some bike shorts underneath, I feel really good in this.

Summer Sewing: Matcha Top in Italian Voile

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Summer Sewing:  Matcha Top in Italian Voile

How about if we squeeze one more summer sewing post in?  Partly because I like to be thorough and partly because I’ll forget what I did with this pattern (and probably that I made it once it’s packed away) if I don’t.  Sad, but true!  🙂

Summer Sewing:  Matcha Top in Italian Voile

Today’s project is the sleeveless view of the Sew Liberated Matcha Top in a beautiful Italian cotton voile.  This fabric was a gift from Maggie at Pintuck & Purl, bought on a trip to Rome.  Fancy!  Therefore, it sat in my stash for awhile because I was saving it for just the right project.  I finally narrowed it down to the Matcha Top, which can be made sleeveless or with three-quarter-length sleeves.  I bought the paper pattern at Pintuck & Purl.

Summer Sewing:  Matcha Top in Italian Voile

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Summer Sewing:  Matcha Top in Italian Voile

Initially, I was a bit surprised at the sizes my measurements put me at.  I’m often one size at the bust and the next size up or thereabouts for the waist and hips.  This pattern had me at an 8 bust, 16 waist, and 22 hip, which seemed pretty different than usual.  Obviously every pattern company is unique, but this was very different.  Luckily, the pattern book gives you tips for choosing a size that will give you the intended fit, which is fairly loose everywhere but at the shoulders.  In the directions, you are told how to measure your shoulders to get a good fit and to base your size off of that.  Thanks to these directions, I made a size 10.

Summer Sewing:  Matcha Top in Italian Voile

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Summer Sewing:  Matcha Top in Italian Voile

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Summer Sewing:  Matcha Top in Italian Voile

There were only two fitting changes I made.  The first was to lower the armhole by two inches.  That meant that the armhole facings no longer matched, so I bound the armholes with bias tape, turning it inside so it wasn’t visible from the outside.

Summer Sewing:  Matcha Top in Italian Voile

The second fitting change was to take a small tuck at the top back of each shoulder since it was gaping there.  I probably need some sort of forward shoulder adjustment in the future.

I also added piping at the shoulders so the shoulder details didn’t disappear.  I love how that turned out!

Summer Sewing:  Matcha Top in Italian Voile

For seam finishes, I pressed my seams open, and then turned the seam allowances under and topstitched each down.  It makes me happy that this shirt looks almost as nice on the inside as it does on the outside; plus that seam finish will strengthen the seams.

Summer Sewing:  Matcha Top in Italian Voile

One other bit of strengthening I did was to stitch horizontally under the bottom of the v-neck after doing the sewing that the directions dictated.

Before I knew it, I was finished with this top!

Summer Sewing:  Matcha Top in Italian Voile

After completing it, I realized that I forgot to pattern match the center front seam!  I couldn’t believe it, but I wasn’t going back.  Hopefully I learned my lesson for next time, right?  😉

Summer Sewing:  Matcha Top in Italian Voile

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Summer Sewing:  Matcha Top in Italian Voile

This was a really quick and satisfying sew, and in this soft and floaty voile, it makes an ideal summer top.  The directions were well-written, and the fact that there aren’t a ton of steps means you can take your time and do a really good job.  I’d love to try the sleeved version sometime!

Summer Sewing:  Matcha Top in Italian Voile

And now…I think it’s time to sew for fall!

 

My New Favorite Dress…Twice! Two Takes on Simplicity 8689

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My New Favorite Dress…Twice!  Two Takes on Simplicity 8689

Hi, everyone!  It’s been awhile!  It felt so good to take a nice, long break this summer.  I really needed it.  We wait all year for warm weather in New England, and I just wanted to soak it all up.  Summer is gorgeous here.

This summer I tried to think about what I really want in my warm-weather clothes.  It took me almost until the end of the season to really figure it out, but I did manage to sew a (very) few things that fit my wardrobe ideals.  In fact, I found a pattern I liked so much that I made it twice:  Simplicity 8689.

Simplicity 8689

Version 1

Simplicity 8689 Dress

Version 2

I have made a few somewhat successful dresses in the past, but I think I really found what I was looking for in this pattern:  all undergarments are covered, it is loose and doesn’t cling in hot weather, it’s long enough that I don’t have to worry about a gust of wind exposing me, and, of course, it has pockets.  I also love that this pattern has so many possibilities for variation (and decoration!).  That’s the case with any pattern, but this is one where I can really see those possibilities.

I had fallen in love with a combination of black eyelet and light purple/pink voile at Joann’s in the spring, and when it went on sale, I snapped it up.  Originally I had it earmarked for another pattern, but I’m so glad I went with this one.  I figured I could underline the eyelet in voile, which would provide modesty and create a cool effect.  If you aren’t familiar with it, underlining involves taking two layers of fabric and treating them as one, reducing wrinkling and providing many other benefits.  For my purposes, the reduced wrinkling and the modesty underlining provided me with were key.

Pattern Choices

I chose to make View B, the tunic length, with an added 8″ ruffle (before hemming) at the bottom.

Simplicity 8689 Dress

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Simplicity 8689 Dress

I cut a 16 at the bust and graded to a 20 for the waist and hips.  I like a fair amount of ease, but if you don’t, you may want to think twice about grading out.  I probably could have made this in a straight 16 and been fine.  If you look at the back of the dress, you can see that there is a lot of fabric being gathered in by the waist ties.

Simplicity 8689

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Simplicity 8689

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Simplicity 8689 Dress

Pattern Adjustments

*Borrowed the short flutter sleeve from vintage Butterick 3731.  I actually didn’t even notice that I was putting a raglan sleeve on a set-in sleeve pattern until writing this post…hm.  I’m glad it worked out!  That explains why my sleeves are so long!

Vintage Butterick 3731

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Vintage Butterick 3731

*Added 2.25″ of length to the bodice, changing it to 2″ on my second dress

*Major broad back adjustment (enough to preserve the ease that was supposed to exist in this pattern, which is 4.5″ above body measurements; you can see how I do a major broad back adjustment here)

*Low bust adjustment, moving the bust point on the princess seams down 7/8″ (and then taking 7/8″ off the bottom edge of the bodice)

Simplicity 8689 Dress

*Lowered the placement points for the back ties until they were 1″ above the bottom edge of the bodice

*On my second dress, I raised the pockets 2″ so they would end up where they were before I lowered the waistline

This sounds like a lot of adjustments, but I was committed to getting the result I wanted, and they were worth it.  For information on broad back adjustments and lowering bust points, I used The Perfect Fit from The Singer Sewing Reference Library.  These books are cheap and easy to pick up used.  I have a lot of them, and this is probably the one I turn to the most.

After making my first dress in black eyelet with black mini pom pom trim, and wearing it every Sunday for a month, I was completely smitten.  While in Michigan, I managed to hit the fabric sale at Field’s Fabrics in Holland, MI and found some cotton bubble gauze.  I bought four yards, thinking I could double layer it for opacity (more underlining!), and make something fun.  I settled on making another version of Simplicity 8689 with all the beautiful trims I could find.

Martha Moore’s versions of this pattern influenced me heavily.  You can see her black dress on PatternReview here and her brightly-colored embellished dress on PatternReview here.  It was through one of Martha’s reviews that I discovered and fell in love with fashion designer Dodo Bar Or’s resort collections (here’s a link to her Resort 2019 collection), and decided I needed something like that in my life.

While at Field’s, I found the floral ribbon, and added rickrack and big pom pom trim from Joann’s plus more baby pom poms from Amazon.  These colors make me SO HAPPY.  I love them.  Getting everything just right took some very careful sewing!

Simplicity 8689 Dress

I made the sleeve a single layer of gauze and hemmed the two layers on the bottom ruffle to different lengths for a fun effect.  Quarter inch iron-on adhesive was helpful in getting crisp hems in those areas.

Simplicity 8689 Dress

Truthfully, I wasn’t sure how the dress would come out in the gauze.  It’s a bit crinkly, and after consulting the experts at Pintuck & Purl, I didn’t try to iron it, but sewed it as it came out of the dryer, and this worked well.  It probably is a little larger/more relaxed after wearing than the black one, but it’s hard to tell (without actually measuring) if that’s reality or just my perception because of how the light and color interact in each garment.

Garment Details

*I used a plain black fabric for the facings and pockets in the black dress.  In the yellow dress, I used part of a fat quarter of Liberty of London Tana Lawn I got in a fabric trade.  The colors are great!  Quilting cotton was perfect for the pockets, and part of that same selvedge made a great tag for the dress.

Simplicity 8689 Dress

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Simplicity 8689 Dress

*If you look closely on the black eyelet dress, you can see that I managed to mostly pattern match the front center seam, and I alternated the direction of the embroidery on the front yoke, side panels, skirt, and bottom ruffle.

Simplicity 8689

*I used shiny nylon cord and tassels plus other odds and ends from the jewelry section of the craft store to add tassels to the black dress.  Originally the cords were sewn into the neckline, but they broke in the wash.  I tried to sew them on again by hand, but it looks messy and is starting to separate again.  If I make this pattern again, I will try to come up with a good way to make them detachable for the wash, maybe with hooks and eyes.

Simplicity 8689

The tassels themselves are removable, thanks to some jewelry clasps.

Simplicity 8689

Anyway…

I finally feel like, after a few years of searching, I have found a summer dress I love.  I feel confident, secure, and beautiful when I wear these.  I know they are a little different from the norm (especially the yellow dress), but sometimes fashion takes courage.

Simplicity 8689 Dress

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Simplicity 8689

New Jeans! A Four-Pattern Mashup in Japanese Selvedge Denim

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New Jeans!  A Four-Pattern Mashup in Japanese Selvedge Denim

I finally finished my jeans!!!!!! I’m so excited!

New Jeans!  A Four-Pattern Mashup in Japanese Selvedge Denim

Since I tend to do batches of patterns, moving them as a group through the tracing, cutting, and sewing stages, I suppose most of my projects take awhile, but once I get to the sewing part of things, I want the garment to fly off my machine.

But this one got held up.

New Jeans!  A Four-Pattern Mashup in Japanese Selvedge Denim

It wasn’t some dramatic life event that did it (thankfully), it was just the fact that I decided I would work out some of the fitting and design choices at the end, in the sewing phase, instead of deciding everything up front like I usually do.

Some fiddling with fitting can happen in the sewing portion of any project, but these had more the than the usual, and the longer they took, the more frustrated I became, which was increased by the fact that I wasn’t always sure which way I wanted to go.

My initial goal was to make some slightly flared jeans, similar to a pair I got from the thrift store.

To keep this post (and me) from running on forever, let’s tackle this in list form.

Patterns + How I Used Them:

New Jeans!  A Four-Pattern Mashup in Japanese Selvedge Denim

  •  Jutland Pants from Thread Theory, View 2
    • let out pants to full length (normally I shorten them by 1″) and added 2″ at the bottom for a deep hem
    • tapered in from hip to knee on outseam by 1/4″ on front and back
    • added 1/2″ at bottom to outseam and inseam on front and back tapering to nothing at the knee
    • gave all side seams 1″ seam allowances for fitting by adding 3/8″ to existing seam allowances
    • taped pocket facing behind front pant piece so that I could add patch pockets to front

New Jeans!  A Four-Pattern Mashup in Japanese Selvedge Denim

  • Simplicity 1020, View D, scrub pants
    • I used the front pockets as my front patch pockets
    • lined pockets with bits of an old sheet

New Jeans!  A Four-Pattern Mashup in Japanese Selvedge Denim

  • Morgan Boyfriend Jeans from Closet Case Patterns
    • used the curved waistband from this pattern instead of the straight waistband from the Jutland Pants since I needed something that would hug my back rather than gaping; the Morgan Jeans are a non-stretch denim pattern so this seemed like a good choice
    • I did not interface my waistband
  • Ginger Jeans from Closet Case Patterns
    • I used the back pockets as a starting point for my back pockets

Fitting and Style Changes

  • I let the inseams out slightly at the crotch, using a 3/8″ seam allowance and tapered back in to my 5/8″ seam allowance about 10″ down the leg; I did this because even though the pants were comfortable, there were a lot of drag lines showing that I needed more thigh room in the front and back
  • I widened the flare at the outseams just a little bit more, making my seam allowance at the bottom of the outseam 5/8″ and tapering in to a 1″ seam allowance partway up the leg
  • shaped the back pockets to be a little bit different; I had a lot of fun looking at Viapiana Custom Denim for inspiration–Ben’s jeans are works of art!

New Jeans!  A Four-Pattern Mashup in Japanese Selvedge Denim

  • I used a combination of the directions for the Jutland Pants and the Ginger Jeans.  This time I used the front fly directions for the Ginger Jeans.  The Jutland directions have always left me with a strange little fold of fabric at the bottom of the zipper, but using the Ginger directions eliminated that.  Yay!!!  That is something that has always bothered me, and now I know how to eliminate it.  It’s an important lesson for me–sometimes I need to try a different method on a pattern I am used to just following the directions on.

New Jeans!  A Four-Pattern Mashup in Japanese Selvedge Denim

Fitting Changes to Make Next Time

  • Add to the back inseam starting at the crotch and tapering down to nothing by a bit more; this will give me more thigh room in the back which is the one place where I still have a lot of drag lines
  • Do a full seat adjustment, maybe 1/2″ to 1″ to see if that will raise the top of the back of the pants a bit; I’m trying to eliminate any hint of “Plumber’s Butt” when I sit or crouch 😉
  • If making the same style, consider letting out the bottom of the inseam slightly to widen the flare; I meant to do that on this pair, but forgot and finalized the seam by finishing, trimming, and topstitching them before I remembered

New Jeans!  A Four-Pattern Mashup in Japanese Selvedge Denim

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New Jeans!  A Four-Pattern Mashup in Japanese Selvedge Denim

There were a lot of missteps along the way.  I tried to use the selvedge in decorative ways that didn’t really work out, had to change out the waistband, and almost covered my pockets in bandana fabric, but decided against it in the end.  My pants were a bit long as well, so instead of turning them up twice, they are turned up three times, which gives a nice weight, but is probably as thick as I could go without things looking strange.  I also forgot to interface the area where my jeans tack/button and buttonhole would go, so I put a little patch of iron-on mending tape on the inside before installing the jeans tack.  You can see that below.

New Jeans!  A Four-Pattern Mashup in Japanese Selvedge Denim

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New Jeans!  A Four-Pattern Mashup in Japanese Selvedge Denim

And…I may have cut through some of my buttonhole stitching.  Oops.  Time will tell if that holds up.

Resources

  • For help in figuring out how to get the leg shape I wanted, I used a tutorial called “Creating a Flare Pant Pattern”, specifically the section entitled, “Pant Flared from the Knee”.
  • Once I hit fitting problems, I consulted Pants for Any Body by Pati Palmer and Susan Pletsch (revised and expanded edition, copyright 1982).
  • It was Erica Bunker’s post on her Butterick 6691 jumpsuit where she mentioned the full seat adjustment that helped clue me in to that as a possible solution for the back of my pants being lower than I wanted.  I’ve used this adjustment in the past, but had completely forgotten about it.
  • The back pocket topstitching templates from Closet Case Patterns were also really helpful.  I almost always use these to find fun topstitching designs for my back jeans pockets.  Note that you need to sign up for their newsletter to get access to these.

New Jeans!  A Four-Pattern Mashup in Japanese Selvedge Denim

And of course I have to mention the amazing fabric that I used for these pants.  It was a birthday present from a friend, and is Japanese Selvedge Denim in a vintage wash/color from Fashion Fabrics Club.  (The link goes to all their Japanese Selvedge Denim since I’m not sure which is the exact one I used.  It is not an affiliate link.)  It’s a nice midweight, and I LOVE it.  Fashion Fabrics Club has a lot of selvedge denim at some pretty great prices (and it sometimes goes on sale) if you are looking for some.

The fun tag I used was a gift from a classmate of mine in a class at Pintuck & Purl a few years ago.  If you look around on the internet, you can still find these tags from various sellers.

New Jeans!  A Four-Pattern Mashup in Japanese Selvedge Denim

These pants feel great.  They aren’t perfect, but after all the struggle and time, they are just what I want.  I think my biggest lesson from this project is that I prefer to have my details worked out on the front end of things rather than figuring out as I go in the sewing part of the project.  I’m sure there will be projects where I’ll need to make design decisions as I go, but I think I will enjoy my projects more if I can make those choices earlier in the process.

New Jeans!  A Four-Pattern Mashup in Japanese Selvedge Denim

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New Jeans!  A Four-Pattern Mashup in Japanese Selvedge Denim

I am SO GLAD these are finished, and I can wear them.  I’m finally wrapping up my spring sewing, on the first official day of summer, no less.  Happy Summer Solstice!

New Jeans!  A Four-Pattern Mashup in Japanese Selvedge Denim

 

 

 

A Linen Jacket for my Friend: Simplicity 8172

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A Linen Jacket for my Friend: Simplicity 8172

It’s not too often that I sew for someone else, but today’s project is one of those rare ones.  I can probably count on one or two hands the people I’m willing to sew for, and my friend Jo-Alice definitely makes the cut.  If I listed all of her wonderful qualities, this blog post would become a book, but let’s just say that she’s one of those rare people who manages to be both very real and very loving—not an easy feat.

A Spring Jacket in Irish Linen:  Simplicity 8172

When she mentioned that she liked some of the views of Simplicity 8172 after I made it last year, I mulled it over and then asked her if she still liked the pattern and would want me to make one for her.  She said she did still like it, and after I convinced her that I really wanted to make her something for her birthday, she agreed.  Being a maker of things herself (you can see some of her pottery and knitting here), she knows the time that goes into creative projects, and she didn’t want to pull me away from my personal to-make list, but this was a gift I was happy to spend the time on.

A Spring Jacket in Irish Linen:  Simplicity 8172

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A Spring Jacket in Irish Linen:  Simplicity 8172

I found some beautiful Limerick Linen by Robert Kaufman Fabrics at Pintuck & Purl as well as a floral rayon by Rifle Paper Co. for Cotton + Steel (this one I think?).  Jo-Alice chose View C, because it had some nice waist shaping, and I made a muslin out of an old sheet to check the fit.  We thought we were going to have to shorten the pattern, but the muslin showed that the length was good as drafted.

A Spring Jacket in Irish Linen:  Simplicity 8172

It was important to think about seam finishes on this project since the pattern doesn’t always specify what you should use.  Because the linen was on the lighter side, I chose to use French seams throughout.

A Spring Jacket in Irish Linen:  Simplicity 8172

The fabric itself is a slightly loose weave, which made it a bit shifty, but it was such a beautiful fabric, that I loved working with it regardless.  I kept my eye on things to make sure that everything stayed on-grain, and it was fine.

A Spring Jacket in Irish Linen:  Simplicity 8172

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A Spring Jacket in Irish Linen:  Simplicity 8172

I decided to make my bias tape from the rayon which, admittedly, I stalled on.  I really wanted to teach myself how to make continuous bias tape, but I was intimidated by learning a new process.  My co-worker, Bea, an accomplished quilter, gave me a few tips on using starch on my fabric, which was the push I needed to keep going.  She let me borrow some Linit starch, which she said to mix 1:1 with water in a spray bottle.

A Spring Jacket in Irish Linen:  Simplicity 8172

Next she told me to spray the back of the fabric (testing in a small area first) and then press the fabric.  I didn’t use steam.  This stiffened the fabric enough to make it really easy to work with.  It was still flexible, but wasn’t overly shifty or slippery.  After that, I used the tutorial for making bias tape in Learning to Quilt:  A Beginner’s Guide by Lori Yetmar Smith.

A Spring Jacket in Irish Linen:  Simplicity 8172

I made single fold bias tape to the size I needed using a bias tape maker (I got assorted sizes on Amazon—similar to these).  One yard of 44″ wide fabric make A LOT of bias tape.  I definitely could have used less, but you don’t know until you try.  And…it’s not like I mind having all this beautiful leftover bias tape.

A Spring Jacket in Irish Linen:  Simplicity 8172

While my bias tape was uniform on the visible side, the edges that were folded under weren’t perfectly even.  To help myself out when applying it, I sewed a line of basting stitches 3/8″ from the edge where I was going to attach the bias tape since that was the seam allowance there.  Then I lined up the folded edge with my basting stitches so that everything would look nice and even.

A Spring Jacket in Irish Linen:  Simplicity 8172

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A Spring Jacket in Irish Linen:  Simplicity 8172

The one area where I wasn’t quite sure what seam finish to use was the cuffs.  I did a quick experiment with some scrap fabric just to see if all those layers would be too bulky, but with the lighter weight of the linen it seemed OK to me, so I was able to use French seams there as well.

A Spring Jacket in Irish Linen:  Simplicity 8172

Overall, this was a very simple and pleasant project.  I was worried at the end that the fit would be different than it had been on the muslin, but Jo-Alice loved it, and it looked beautiful on her.  I like this longer view much better than the short view (View A) that I chose the first time I made this.  And, although I told her that she didn’t have to pose for blog photos, she has always been a huge supporter of my creative projects and assured me that she was more than willing.  She makes a great model.  We had lots of fun shooting these pictures even though it was gray and rainy out.

A Spring Jacket in Irish Linen:  Simplicity 8172

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A Spring Jacket in Irish Linen:  Simplicity 8172

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A Spring Jacket in Irish Linen:  Simplicity 8172

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A Spring Jacket in Irish Linen:  Simplicity 8172

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A Spring Jacket in Irish Linen:  Simplicity 8172

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A Spring Jacket in Irish Linen:  Simplicity 8172

 

 

Spring Pants! Simplicity 1696 in Cloud9 Tinted Denim

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Spring Pants!  Simplicity 1696 in Cloud9 Tinted Denim

I’m finally done sewing sweatshirts, and now I’m on to pants!  I always crave color after the winter months, and it’s been pretty gray this spring, so I’m happy to have made a pair of pink pants.

Spring Pants!  Simplicity 1696 in Cloud9 Tinted Denim

(Picture-taking is always more fun—and sillier—when my husband is my photographer.)

My goal in making these was to have a somewhat casual alternative to jeans in a color that I liked.  I wanted the fit to be on the relaxed side and the fabric to be one that would look generally casual to create pants that look like a good pair of worn-in chinos.  My choice:  Simplicity 1696 in Cloud9 Tinted Denim.

Spring pants!  Simplicity 1696 in Cloud9 Tinted Denim

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Spring pants!  Simplicity 1696 in Cloud9 Tinted Denim

This is the third time I have sewn this pattern now, so I want to talk about the pros and cons of it.  (You can see my gray pair or pants here and my octopus print pair here.)

Pros

I love the construction order provided.  Much like the well-loved Ginger Jeans from Closet Case Patterns, you sew the front and back separately and then baste everything together so that you can fine-tune your fit.  There are also larger seam allowances provided in key places to help in that process, should you need extra room.

These pants have wonderful, huge front pockets.  Every time I put my hands in, I’m reminded how great they are.

Sprint Pants!  Simplicity 1696 in Cloud9 Tinted Denim

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Spring pants!  Simplicity 1696 in Cloud9 Tinted Denim

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Spring pants!  Simplicity 1696 in Cloud9 Tinted Denim

I love the look of the bias binding inside the pockets and finishing the inside of the waistband.  If this waistband finish is too bulky for your liking, they also give instructions for making a narrow hem.

Spring pants!  Simplicity 1696 in Cloud9 Tinted Denim

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Spring pants!  Simplicity 1696 in Cloud9 Tinted Denim

Cons

The main cons to this pattern are in the zipper area.  The zipper is (in my opinion) not set in deeply enough, which means that it sometimes peeks out.  I did manage to remedy that in this pair of pants by lining up the left edge of the zipper tape with the center seam, and positioning the top stop of the zipper 3/4″ below the raw edge.

To me, the zipper seems slightly off-center.  It’s not too evident in the picture below, but I notice it.

Spring Pants!  Simplicity 1696 in Cloud9 Tinted Denim

The zipper opens opposite of most pants–right over left rather than left over right.

Spring pants!  Simplicity 1696 in Cloud9 Tinted Denim

I’m not a fan of the faux welt pockets.  I just skip them.  I want real welt pockets or nothing.

Spring pants!  Simplicity 1696 in Cloud9 Tinted Denim

Potential Errors

I added 5/8″ to the end of my left front waistband piece (piece #15) so that it would actually be longer than the left front (it is supposed to be 5/8″ longer).

Fitting

I used the curvy back pieces (there are curvy and standard/average back options).  I always end up with some excess fabric in the back.  This may be so I can sit or maybe I should try the other back piece.  After basting everything together, I saw all the drag lines, started thinking about how I should work on those, and then decided that the pants were good enough as they were.  I made the decision that I wasn’t going to overfit—it was more important to me to finish.  I do have a pair that is one size smaller than my current measurements, and it fits well and has fewer drag lines, so while I like the ease, you may prefer to size down one size if you make these.

Sprint Pants!  Simplicity 1696 in Cloud9 Tinted Denim

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Sprint Pants!  Simplicity 1696 in Cloud9 Tinted Denim

Materials

Pattern:  Simplicity 1696 from Joann Fabrics;  it doesn’t look like this pattern is available on Simplicity’s site anymore, but you can probably find it on Etsy

Spring Pants!  Simplicity 1696 in Cloud9 Tinted Denim

Just making sure I’m not stepping in any rabbit poop.  Looks like we have some wild rabbits around here!

Fabric:  Cloud9 Tinted Denim in Heather from Pintuck & Purl—I really love this fabric and have used it in several projects; homemade bias tape made of leftover quilting cotton from Fancy Tiger Crafts; old sheets (used as pocket lining)

Sprint Pants!  Simplicity 1696 in Cloud9 Tinted Denim

Interfacing (Pellon fusible midweight) and thread (Gütermann) from Joann Fabrics

Final Thoughts

Mixed.  I feel the greatest love for the pockets, construction, and fabric I used, while feeling really annoyed about the zipper area.  I love this particular pair of pants, but if I make this style again (and can fight off laziness and my desire for speed) I might consider trying Burda 7447 (also out of print—check for it on Etsy) or the Chi-Town Chinos from Alina Design Co.  Despite my ambivalence toward the pattern, I’m so happy to have a new pair of pants in my wardrobe that is bright, cheery, comfortable, and that is a nice alternative to wearing jeans every day.  I really like these.

Spring Pants!  Simplicity 1696 in Cloud9 Tinted Denim