Category Archives: DIY

Morgan Jeans!

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Morgan Jeans!

I’m working through a batch of transitional garments as we go from warm to cool weather, and first up is a pair of Morgan Jeans from Closet Case Patterns.

Morgan Jeans!

I made a short pair this summer, and wanted to try a full-length pair, hoping for some pants that would be good for daily wear and that I could layer over long underwear in the cold weather.

Morgan Jeans!

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Morgan Jeans!

My measurements put me in a 14 waist and 16 hip, but as I discovered this summer, that 14 waist is just too small.  I ended up adding extra fabric at the top of those pants, so I wrote myself a note to make a straight 16 next time.  Well…as I read the description, I noticed that these are drafted to fit closely, assuming that the non-stretch denim will relax over time.  I don’t love tight jeans and I wanted these to fit over long underwear in winter when layering is an act of survival, so I chickened out on the sizing and decided to trace an 18 to be safe.

Morgan Jeans!

I was lucky enough to be visiting Fabric Place Basement in Natick, MA when they were having a denim sale and, after vacillating between some non-stretch selvedge denim that was 30″ wide and a 60″ wide non-stretch denim, I went with the wider fabric, not least because I could make two pairs of jeans for the price of one in selvedge denim.  The more thrifty I can be, the more projects I can make!  That’s a huge consideration for me.  Happily, I managed to get enough denim to make a pair of jeans for about $15.

Morgan Jeans!

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Morgan Jeans!

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Morgan Jeans!

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Morgan Jeans!

The pattern and topstitching thread came from Pintuck & Purl, as did the Cotton + Steel fabric I used for my pockets.  It was left over from this shirt.

Morgan Jeans!

My jeans buttons are from Wawak.

Morgan Jeans!

As far as the pattern goes, here are my notes:

  • I bound the edges of the pocket facings with bias tape, because I think it looks really nice.Morgan Jeans!

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    Morgan Jeans!

  • I also like the look of French seams at the bottom of the pockets (this is a suggestion in the pattern).Morgan Jeans!
  • I recommend sewing your buttonholes, slicing them open, and using Fray Check on them before you sew the fly placket into your pants, just in case you have issues.  It’s not such a big deal to recut the piece and redo it before sewing it in.  I accidentally sewed my bright thread on the bottom of my fly placket, so next time if I want contrast stitching, I’ll put it for my top thread and in the bobbin.Morgan Jeans!
  • One thing to note, my button fly placket extended above the top of my pants.  I think I should have matched the top of my fly shield to the top of my button fly placket, because I matched the top of it to my pants and it was weirdly low.  I had to trim it and finish it with my serger.  Incidentally, I have a new-to-me vintage serger that is working!!!  I was able to use it to finish my seams. A billion thanks to Pintuck & Purl for servicing it!Morgan Jeans!

More tips:

  • When putting the back together, wait to trim the seam joining the yoke and back legs until after you have topstitched it–then you don’t have to worry about missing the seam as you topstitch.
  • As Heather, the designer, suggests in her Ginger Jeans sewalong (in this post), it makes sense to finalize your back pocket placement at the end so you can put them in the optimal spot for your unique back side.  In the end, I moved the pockets a little bit, but not too much. Morgan Jeans!

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    Morgan Jeans!

  • One other new thing I tried was installing the waistband using Lladybird’s tutorial (skip to the end of the linked post).  It was really helpful and makes so much sense.  The gist of it is that you sew your inside waistband seam first so that when you are turning under the seam allowance and finishing the waistband, you are topstitching from the outside, and you never have to worry about catching an inner facing–it’s already attached.  It makes more sense in the post, but it’s a very logical order of steps.  I like it.
  • I interfaced my waistband this time to make it less stretchy, but I really should have graded my seams better around where my buttonhole was going to go.  I had to sew through so many layers to make my buttonhole that I ended up fudging things to make it longer and it still takes a good amount of effort to get that top button buttoned and unbuttoned.  You don’t want to have a bathroom emergency in these pants!Morgan Jeans!

Last tip:

  • Use Fray Check on the edge of your belt loops to keep them from fraying every time you wash them.  It doesn’t take care of the fraying entirely, but it helps.

All right, now after all of that, what’s the final consensus?  Well…my jeans are really comfy…they will fit over long underwear…but they do look a little big.

Morgan Jeans!

They’re perfect when they come out of the dryer…for about 5 minutes, and then they are comfortably loose.  Also, it may be the style with boyfriend jeans, but I’m not sure that I like them cuffed.

Morgan Jeans!

So I guess I’ll have a better take on them after wearing them during cold weather, but my gut feeling is that, especially if I were to make these in a thinner denim, I should go down to a 16.  Or maybe I should just look for a pair of pants with a straighter, wider leg.  I think I convinced myself that these were like that, but they really are a closer fitting, non-stretch jean, which is actually obvious from the cover art and the sample photos.  Well, live and learn!  That one’s on me!  😉

Morgan Jeans!

The good news is that whether or not these are the perfect jeans for me, the pattern itself is high quality and well done, which is consistently true with Closet Case Patterns.

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The Last Summer Project: Simplicity 1887 Shorts (in Sparkly Linen!)

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The Last Summer Project:  Simplicity 1887 Shorts (in Sparkly Linen!)

Today is the last full day of summer in the Northern Hemisphere.  Tomorrow, September 22 is the Autumnal Equinox, the official beginning of fall.  But until then, it’s still summer!!!  So let’s talk about this last summer project, a pair of elastic-waisted, deep-pocketed, SPARKLY linen/cotton shorts:  Simplicity 1887.

The Last Summer Project:  Simplicity 1887 Shorts (in Sparkly Linen!)

This pattern is a good one.  I would make it again, and I recommend it to you. 🙂

At some point this summer, I realized (or re-realized) that I really want easy-wearing, elastic-waisted shorts and skirts for summer.  I had other projects already planned, but these shorts managed to get squeezed in right at the end.  I had hoped to make them last year and didn’t, so I was determined to sew them this summer.

The Last Summer Project:  Simplicity 1887 Shorts (in Sparkly Linen!)

I made View C, the shorts, in a size 20 with no changes.  I didn’t even really come up with my own fabric idea.  I loved the sparkly fabric Simplicity used on the sample on the envelope, so I bought a Sand-colored linen/cotton/Lurex blend (Essex Yarn Dyed Metallic) by Robert Kaufman Fabrics from Pintuck & Purl.  The sparkle is hard to photograph, but I gave it a try.  ↓

The Last Summer Project:  Simplicity 1887 Shorts (in Sparkly Linen!)

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The Last Summer Project:  Simplicity 1887 Shorts (in Sparkly Linen!)

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The Last Summer Project:  Simplicity 1887 Shorts (in Sparkly Linen!)

This pattern ticked all the boxes I wanted:  something that looked a little bit nicer so I could wear it to work, shorts that were a little longer than what I had been making previously, an elastic back waist, deep pockets, and a loose fit for those hot days.

The Last Summer Project:  Simplicity 1887 Shorts (in Sparkly Linen!)

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The Last Summer Project:  Simplicity 1887 Shorts (in Sparkly Linen!)

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The Last Summer Project:  Simplicity 1887 Shorts (in Sparkly Linen!)

I decided I would try out the tie on the front, knowing it would be easy to remove if I didn’t like it.  It’s only stitched onto the front (not inserted into the waistband), so if I didn’t love it, I could take it off quickly and easily with my seam ripper.  The good news is that so far, I like it.

The Last Summer Project:  Simplicity 1887 Shorts (in Sparkly Linen!)

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The Last Summer Project:  Simplicity 1887 Shorts (in Sparkly Linen!)

I also wondered if I would like the front pleats, and I do!

The Last Summer Project:  Simplicity 1887 Shorts (in Sparkly Linen!)

The fabric was very easy to work with and while it is slightly less soft than a lot of linen/cotton is, (I think that’s because of the Lurex), it’s still very comfortable.  Once I finished these, I felt the temptation to make more in other sparkly colors (there are many color options), but I’m going to wear these for the rest of the warm days to get a gauge on how they fit into my wardrobe and if I want to make further pairs next summer.

The Last Summer Project:  Simplicity 1887 Shorts (in Sparkly Linen!)

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The Last Summer Project:  Simplicity 1887 Shorts (in Sparkly Linen!)

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The Last Summer Project:  Simplicity 1887 Shorts (in Sparkly Linen!)

I was happy to note that the crotch curve was a good fit, further cementing my suspicion that Simplicity’s crotch curve is one that works for me.  After making this view of the pattern, I would consider making the longer pants as well as the longer skirt.  We’ll see what next summer holds, but I’m glad I finally tried this pattern, and I recommend it for a relatively quick and satisfying sew.

The Last Summer Project:  Simplicity 1887 Shorts (in Sparkly Linen!)

Thanks to my husband for the pictures.  And if you want to read up on the shirt that I’m wearing, you can find that project here.

And now?  On to projects that will transition into fall!  I already have several cut out.  I’ll report back soon!  What are you working on for fall?  What is inspiring you?

 

A Boxy Woven T-Shirt: Butterick 5948

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A Boxy Woven T-Shirt: Butterick 5948

I think I found a winning pattern!  Butterick 5948 is a dartless, boxy woven t-shirt or tank top with different sleeve lengths, necklines, and back options.  I really like a lot of the boxy, loose tops I’ve seen lately and the line drawings on this pattern made it look like it had some potential.

A Boxy Woven T-Shirt:  Butterick 5948

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A Boxy Woven T-Shirt:  Butterick 5948

I made View F with the length of View C in a 16 (bust) graded out to a 20 (waist and hips) and also made a minor broad back adjustment to the paper pattern since the back had a little more width than most tops I make (usually I need a major broad back adjustment).  I decided to wait and see if it looked like I needed a forward shoulder adjustment and, if so, incorporate that into a later version.

One of my goals was to use up some odds and ends from my stash, so I managed to cut the front, sleeves, and pocket out of a bit of ’70’s fabric my mom gave me.

A Boxy Woven T-Shirt:  Butterick 5948

Someone way back in the past had given it to her.  We think it was curtains at one point, but it also served as a skirt for my hippy costume one Halloween when I was a kid.  🙂 I’ve always loved the colors and those big flowers.  Now it was about to get another life in this shirt.

A Boxy Woven T-Shirt:  Butterick 5948

Look at the pattern matching on that pocket!

For the back, I used some Cloud9 yellow Tinted Denim left over from the Thurlow Shorts I made last summer.

A Boxy Woven T-Shirt:  Butterick 5948

The front fabric had more drape, but from having worked with the Tinted Denim before, I knew that over several washings it would soften up.  I also used some random pink bias tape from my stash to finish the inside of the neckline.  Yay for using up stash items!

A Boxy Woven T-Shirt:  Butterick 5948

I LOVE how this top came out.

A Boxy Woven T-Shirt:  Butterick 5948

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A Boxy Woven T-Shirt:  Butterick 5948

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A Boxy Woven T-Shirt:  Butterick 5948

A lot of people object to the amount of ease in Big 4 patterns, but I’m a fan.  I don’t like my woven garments to be super fitted, and I love the shape and silhouette of this.  I will say, however, that because the armhole is somewhat low, if you raise your arms, the whole shirt lifts up.  I decided to experiment with the length of the shirt in version two.

For my second take on this pattern, I made the same size, but lengthened it by three inches, taking it back to somewhere around the look of View F.  I had some Alison Glass Mariner Cloth fabric that I had planned to use for a third Peppermint Magazine Peplum Top (the two I made are in last week’s post), but I felt it would get more wear made up into this garment, so I re-appropriated it.  I made a 3/8″ forward shoulder adjustment because I couldn’t quite figure out how to make a major forward shoulder adjustment on the paper pattern without making the shoulder areas of the front and back different lengths.  (Jenny of SoleCrafts had some great shoulder fitting tips in the comments of last week’s post that are worth checking out if you struggle with forward shoulders fitting issues.  I hope to try her tips in a future garment.)

Since I had been so excited to play with stripe placement with this fabric when it was destined to be the Peplum Top, I wanted to make sure I did that in this boxy top, even though it had fewer seam lines.  I turned the stripes on the diagonal on the pocket, and placed them vertically on the lengthened section of the shirt.  I also opted to use a spring green thread for a fun subtle detail.

A Boxy Woven T-Shirt:  Butterick 5948

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A Boxy Woven T-Shirt:  Butterick 5948

Once the shirt was nearly done, I tried the it on and discovered that the longer length, while practical, wasn’t my favorite.  I shortened it back to what it had been by taking the extra inches out of the main body of the shirt so that I could keep the bottom panel with the vertical stripes.

A Boxy Woven T-Shirt:  Butterick 5948

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A Boxy Woven T-Shirt:  Butterick 5948

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A Boxy Woven T-Shirt:  Butterick 5948

The fabric itself is interesting.  It’s a little lighter and more loosely woven than a quilting cotton, but costs about the same.  The neon stripes are bundles of long threads that are woven into the main cloth, and when you wash it, it rumples up kind of like seersucker.  I really like it so far.  We’ll see how durable it is over the long-term.  I’m really glad I tried it.  Both this and the Tinted Denim are from Pintuck & Purl.

A Boxy Woven T-Shirt:  Butterick 5948

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A Boxy Woven T-Shirt:  Butterick 5948

So that’s the story with these tops.  I would definitely make this again.  In fact, I would be curious to try View E in a double gauze, although I always wonder how that will hold up over the long-term as well.  I guess I wonder that about all fabric substrates that are more loosely woven.  Hopefully in time I’ll have the experience and knowledge I’m lacking now.  You never stop learning with sewing!

Along those lines…Sunday, September 16, 2018 marks my five-year “blogiversary”!  I can’t believe I started this blog five years ago!  Thanks to everyone for following along.  I can’t believe how much I’ve learned (and how much sewing has completely taken over my life) in the last five years.  I’m so thankful.

Lastly, thanks to my husband for letting me convince him to take a thousand pictures of me in these shirts and for always supporting me in all my creative endeavors. ❤

 

Peppermint Magazine Peplum Top: Two Versions

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Peppermint Magazine Peplum Top: Two Versions

This summer, I made multiple versions of a few patterns.  One of those was the Peppermint Magazine Peplum Top by In the Folds.

Peppermint Magazine Peplum Top:  Two Version

This is a free PDF pattern you can access online, even if you don’t subscribe to the magazine, which is a nice contribution to the sewing community, and a great way to introduce people to the magazine.  I’m not sure where I first saw a picture of this cute top, but I loved it immediately and pinned it to my “Sewing Patterns” Pinterest board for future reference.  This summer, I made this top twice:  first from a vintage sheet that had quite a bit of body, and second from some Cotton + Steel rayon, which had a lot of drape.  I made a size E at the bust and graded out to an F at the waist and hip.

Peppermint Magazine Peplum Top:  Two Version

Version one (front:  above; back:  below)

Peppermint Magazine Peplum Top:  Two Version

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Peppermint Magazine Peplum Top:  Two Version

Version two (front:  above; back:  below)

Peppermint Magazine Peplum Top:  Two Version

I was so impressed with the directions and thoughtful design of this pattern.  The directions and illustrations were very clear, and each piece was carefully and thoughtfully drafted, allowing you to cut bias strips that would perfectly fit the top and come to a neat point in the back.  I didn’t use those pieces in my versions due to lack of fabric and my desire to use up bias tape I already had, but I was so impressed with this level of detail.  The shirt is made of several pieces, allowing you to easily color block or create fun pattern placements.

For my first version, I decided to try to use up things I had in my sewing stash.  I pulled out some vintage sheeting I had thrifted when I first began sewing, odd bits of bias tape, and some lace pieces my Mom had given me for the shoulder panels.

Peppermint Magazine Peplum Top:  Two Version

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Peppermint Magazine Peplum Top:  Two Version

This top is quite cropped and is drafted for a B cup.  I’m a larger cup size, so I think that added to the cropped quality.  You can see how short this is on me, and how, in this stiffer fabric, it stands away from my body, making the ruffle at the bottom really noticeable.  This is cute and wearable, but I knew that if I made it again, I would want to lengthen it.

Peppermint Magazine Peplum Top:  Two Version

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Peppermint Magazine Peplum Top:  Two Version

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Peppermint Magazine Peplum Top:  Two Version

Other aspects of the pattern that I liked:  good undergarment coverage due to the width of the shoulder pieces, and a nice rounded front neckline and v-shaped back neckline.  Also, if you, like me, don’t have quite the required amount of fabric, it’s pretty easy to piece the ruffle.

Peppermint Magazine Peplum Top:  Two Version

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Peppermint Magazine Peplum Top:  Two Version

Between version one and version two, I came to the realization that I have very forward-set shoulders.  I didn’t realize that was a thing, but I found it in my trusty Singer Sewing Reference Library fitting book (The Perfect Fit).  I have found that when I make sleeveless shirts, the front armhole often cuts into the front ball of my shoulder.  The book said that if your shoulders are in front of your ears, you have forward shoulders.  I had my husband look at me from the side and he said that my shoulders were way in front of my ears.  Time to learn about forward shoulder adjustments!  I’ve searched for a solution to the problem of sleeveless shirts cutting into the front of my shoulders for the last few years.  No one seems to really know what to do, and I never find information on the internet about it.  I was hoping that this would help, so I started with a minor adjustment.

Peppermint Magazine Peplum Top:  Two Version

I think it made a difference!  Version two is a little bit better in the shoulder area (and to be fair, this shirt didn’t cut in very much–just a little).  I also lengthened version two by two inches.  I made this iteration in some leftover pieces of Cotton + Steel rayon from a shirt I made my Mom.  This version looks really different because, in addition to my adjustments, this fabric has a lot of drape.

I really like Cotton + Steel’s rayon.  I haven’t completely fallen in love with rayon challis as a substrate because, while soft, something about it just doesn’t feel durable.  It’s also not my favorite to sew, but this rayon is smooth and tightly woven, and is great to sew with.  I highly recommend it.

I used some random bias tape I had on hand again, because I didn’t have enough fabric to cut out the bias strips included with the pattern, and I pieced the ruffle.

Peppermint Magazine Peplum Top:  Two Version

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Peppermint Magazine Peplum Top:  Two Version

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Peppermint Magazine Peplum Top:  Two Version

I had plans to make a third version in some Alison Glass Mariner Cloth that I got at Pintuck & Purl.  It would have been really fun to play with the stripes, but as you’ll see (hopefully in the next week or two), I ended up using it for another top.  I wanted to see how this pattern would work with my changes in another fabric with more body, but I realized that I didn’t need so many tops of this style in my closet, at least not right now.  I would certainly be up for revisiting this one in the future, though.  Trying out this great pattern from In the Folds has made me curious about their other offerings.  I think it is so smart of designers to put out really quality work, especially when a pattern is free to consumers, because it’s a great way for sewists to try a company that is new to them and get a feel for it.  I’ve tried free patterns that weren’t well done that have turned me off to certain companies, and I’ve tried good ones (like this one), that have made me excited to delve deeper into any of their other offerings that might fit my style or intrigue me.

One last thought, which is really more of a question/request.  If anyone has any experience with forward shoulder adjustments or knows what I should do to solve my woven-tank-top-armhole-cutting-in problem, please tell me your thoughts or point me to resources in the comments.  I did try a major forward shoulder adjustment on a top I haven’t blogged yet, but I must have done something wrong or adjusted too far because I ended up making the shoulder seams on front and back different lengths, so I went back to the minor adjustment.

That’s it for this project!  I have a few more summery projects to finish and share and then I’ll start making things that will transition between seasons.  I’m happy to have the warmer weather a bit longer though–I haven’t forgotten what winter feels like yet.

Recommendations

  • Megan Nielsen’s blog is where I learned the technique of sewing over a cord or string to gather fabric.
  • The Twig + Tale blog has several interesting tutorials like this one on how to create a concealed pocket in a lining. This one on adding side pockets to one of their shirt patterns is also pretty cool.  Add all the pockets!
  • I really want McCall’s 7330 jumpsuit in my closet, I just don’t feel like fitting and sewing it.  Can I just snap my fingers and make it happen?  Maybe a jumpsuit is something I need to thrift…

 

Simplicity 8172 Kimono Jacket in Polyester Crepe de Chine

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Simplicity 8172 Kimono Jacket in Polyester Crepe de Chine

I’ve been thinking about adding some jackets and cardigans to my wardrobe, and Simplicity 8172 is a great summer version of that idea.  Layers can add a lot of fun to an outfit as well as giving you numerous mix and match options.  Living in New England, where summer evenings can get cool, this pattern made sense.

Simplicity 8172 Kimono Jacket

I started out with View A, the shortest and boxiest view.  I wanted to see if I liked it or if I would want a longer version.  I had leftover polyester crepe de chine from the Megan Nielsen Eucalypt Tank I made last year, and I hoped I could squeeze this jacket out of it.  The fabric came from Hobby Lobby’s clearance section a few years ago, so it was inexpensive and perfect for testing out this pattern.

Simplicity 8172 Kimono Jacket

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Simplicity 8172 Kimono Jacket

It was pretty tricky, but I managed to get the pieces cut out of what was left, although there was no chance of any sort of pattern matching.  The sewing itself was pretty easy.  It’s only two pattern pieces and three seams (shoulders and back).

Simplicity 8172 Kimono Jacket

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Simplicity 8172 Kimono Jacket

I used French seams to keep things neat inside.  Then you use bias tape around the front/neck opening and hem the sleeves and bottom.

Simplicity 8172 Kimono Jacket

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Simplicity 8172 Kimono Jacket

I took the opportunity to practice using my narrow hem foot with the instructions in my machine’s manual rather than the pattern instructions.  After that, you sew on the trim, and you’re done!  I thought about skipping the trim, but I’ve had this pom-pom trim in my stash for ages (maybe it’s from Joann’s?), and thought that adding it kicked the project up a notch.  Even if I gave it away, it would be fabulous for someone else.

Simplicity 8172 Kimono Jacket

After finishing, I tried the jacket on, and…it was ok, but not awesome (although the pom-poms helped).

Simplicity 8172 Kimono Jacket

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Simplicity 8172 Kimono Jacket

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Simplicity 8172 Kimono Jacket

I don’t love where the bottom sits, but I still think it has potential, so I’d like to try View C.  I was talking it over with one of the librarians at our library when it came to me–if I find a coordinating fabric, I can trace out and cut the lower pieces and cuff and attach it to what I’ve already made, turning my View A into a shiny, new View C.  If you decide to try this pattern and view, I found that it did look better on my friend who was shorter than me (I’m 5′ 8.5″), so if you are shorter, it might be just right for you.

If a future version ends up being a winner, I think it could be great in a handkerchief linen.  Or what would it be like in ankara/wax print, crocheted lace, or a knit?  It definitely has potential.

Recommendations

  • Are you watching “Making It” on NBC?  It’s hosted by Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman and is a friendly competition show that features makers who work in all different media.  They complete two challenges per show and one is eliminated at the end.  It’s funny and people are kind to one another, which is a welcome change from some of the cutthroat reality competition shows.  We don’t have cable, but I’ve found that I can watch it for free (older episodes) through my Apple TV.  You can find it on NBC’s website as well.
  • I’ve never been into fitness videos, but lately my family and I have been trying out some of the free workout videos on Fitness Blender, and I have to say–I like it!  They have a really encouraging, positive approach.  My regular exercise routine died sometime in February, so I’m thinking of ways to get back to it and improve my strength, fitness, and flexibility.  I think this might be part of the answer.
  • I have a favorite jacket that I thrifted that doesn’t fit me as well as I would like it to.  I’ve been toying with the idea of recreating it, and I wonder if Simplicity 8700 from Simplicity’s new Pattern Hacking line would make a good base.  The jacket has lots of seam lines, but at its core, it’s very similar to this pattern.

A Summer Dress: McCall’s 7774 in Yellow Linen

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A Summer Dress:  McCall’s 7774 in Yellow Linen

And now back to sewing!  Despite the quiet blog and relatively quiet Instagram account, I’ve been sewing as much as possible.  With kids home, guests, and travel, the sewing has varied in amount, but it’s still happening.  I usually blog mostly in the order I make things, but this dress is jumping to the front of the line because some of my other projects have been multiple versions of single patterns and, if possible, I’d like to feature those together.

On to the dress!

A Summer Dress:  McCall's 7774 in Yellow Linen

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A Summer Dress:  McCall's 7774 in Yellow Linen

This season, I’ve really felt the urge to discover some Tried ‘N True patterns.  I suppose that’s an endless quest, since fashion and our own opinions about it tend to change, but I’m looking for favorites nonetheless.  I decided to try out McCall’s 7774, View C to see if I liked it.

A Summer Dress:  McCall's 7774 in Yellow Linen

I made a 16 in the bust and a 20 in the waist and hips.  The dress hits your waist somewhere in the skirt portion, so I didn’t have to grade out to the 20 until I traced the skirt piece.

A Summer Dress:  McCall's 7774 in Yellow Linen

When I was younger, I really favored empire waist and A-line dresses and skirts, and I’ve been wondering if I still like them.  This dress has a higher, empire waist, so it seemed like a good one to try.

A Summer Dress:  McCall's 7774 in Yellow Linen

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A Summer Dress:  McCall's 7774 in Yellow Linen

It features pockets (yay!) and a bodice cut that looks like it might hide undergarment straps (always a plus, in my book).

A Summer Dress:  McCall's 7774 in Yellow Linen

It also has some interesting seaming that would allow you to play with pattern placement (especially stripes), which you can see in the photo on the pattern envelope.  I was excited about this one, and I definitely wasn’t the only one in the sewing community.

In my stash, I happened to have a really nice, midweight yellow linen from Fabric Mart that I had planned to use for a ready-to-wear-inspired top, but which seemed perfect for this dress.  It was quickly reassigned to this pattern.  I gave myself a slightly crazy deadline of a wedding my husband and I were going to, and got to work, no muslin/toile in sight.  I was going for it with my awesome fabric!

A Summer Dress:  McCall's 7774 in Yellow Linen

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A Summer Dress:  McCall's 7774 in Yellow Linen

This is one of the designer linens that Fabric Mart regularly stocks, and it is AMAZING.  I think they call it a light-medium weight, and it’s pretty opaque, which I really like.  It is very linty when you wash and dry it, but you only notice that when you clean the dryer’s lint trap.  It was great to sew, although I did press it on the cotton setting rather than the linen setting.  I can’t tell if my iron is starting to go, but that seemed to be a better setting for this fabric.  Usually the fabric retails for around $25/yard, which is way out of my budget, but they often have sales, so it is totally possible to scoop this up for $9 or $10/yard.  Oh!  And it’s a wider width at 57″.  I highly recommend it!

On to the pattern!  Being now older and wiser, 😉 I’ll tell you that if you attempt this dress, you should probably muslin the bodice.  I really like the pattern overall, but I did have to adjust a few things, and they seem to be common adjustments for people who tried this one.  Some good news is that if you just go for it, like I did, you can make these fixes on the fly without damaging your fabric.

The darts, which are under the bust, extend pretty high.  You want your dart points to end 1/2″ to 1″ below (or beside if you have side darts) the apex of the bust.  I shortened these by 2″, and they may still be slightly high.  Shortening darts that much gave me darts that were very wide at the bottom, which made the bust very…pointy.  That’s not for me!  So, then I had to narrow the darts.  I narrowed them by half (so that they were half as wide).  If you do this, you must take the extra length you have created out of the side/bottom of the front bodice!!!!  Learn from my mistake!  I knew that narrowing my darts would give me extra length in the front of the bodice, but because the skirt was gathered and could expand and because I love ease, I initially left it in.

Wrong choice.

I ended up with a pregnant-’90’s-lady jumper.  If that makes no sense to you, just trust me when I say that it looked bad.  Apparently you can take a love of loose clothes too far.  😉

A Summer Dress:  McCall's 7774 in Yellow Linen

The original dart is in marker.  My modified dart is in pencil inside the original.

A Summer Dress:  McCall's 7774 in Yellow Linen

Below is the area I should have adjusted when I narrowed those darts.

A Summer Dress:  McCall's 7774 in Yellow Linen

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A Summer Dress:  McCall's 7774 in Yellow Linen

Above:  the final modified front bodice piece with narrowed, shortened dart, and excess length (from narrowing the dart) removed where the side seam and bottom of the bodice meet.

I also noticed quite a bit of gaping in the back neck area, but I realized that if I fixed that, the bodice would be tight in the shoulders, so I decided I could live with it.

A Summer Dress:  McCall's 7774 in Yellow Linen

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A Summer Dress:  McCall's 7774 in Yellow Linen

All these issues aside, I think the instructions for this pattern are really good.  You are on your own for seam finishing, but other than that, this was really enjoyable to make and was well-thought-out.  The bodice is fully faced/lined with self fabric, and it’s a nice dress.  There is quite a bit of hand-sewing involved in putting in that facing/lining, but if you know that going in, you can enjoy it, and come out with a beautiful result.  Using a comfortable thimble to push my needle through the fabric and running my thread through beeswax to keep it from tangling has really helped me in the hand-sewing department.

A Summer Dress:  McCall's 7774 in Yellow Linen

If I made this pattern again, I would do what @artsy_tiff did and lengthen the bodice, lower the neckline a smidge, and maybe lower those dart points a bit more.  I’m new to doing forward shoulder adjustments, so I’ll have to wear this a bit more to see if I think I need that.  Initially I thought not, but now I think maybe I do.  This dress is very comfortable to wear, especially in this fabric. Belting it really helped when I wanted a more form-fitting shape.  The belt is some wide ribbon (maybe upholstery trim?) from my stash.

A Summer Dress:  McCall's 7774 in Yellow Linen

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A Summer Dress:  McCall's 7774 in Yellow Linen

Here are some pictures of the dress without the belt:

A Summer Dress:  McCall's 7774 in Yellow Linen

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A Summer Dress:  McCall's 7774 in Yellow Linen

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A Summer Dress:  McCall's 7774 in Yellow Linen

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A Summer Dress:  McCall's 7774 in Yellow Linen

Final thoughts on this project:

  • Fabric Mart’s designer linen:  recommended!
  • McCall’s 7774:  recommended with reservations–do your research and maybe make a muslin of the bodice.

I’d love to make this again just to see what it could be with those fitting changes, but I don’t think I will this year, so we’ll see if it happens.  I considered the maxi length, but my mom and I both think it might just be too much.  I need a good woven maxi pattern.  There are a few contenders, but I haven’t settled on anything.

I hope you all are having a great summer.  No thoughts of fall here!  It’s usually warm where I live through September, so I’m sticking to summer sewing.  Yay!

A Summer Dress:  McCall's 7774 in Yellow Linen

Thanks to my wonderful husband for helping me out with some of the pictures in this post!

Recommendations:

  • I read the most fascinating book after I saw it on Peter Lappin’s Instagram account.  I planned to just skim through it, but ended up reading it cover to cover, even letting it go overdue at the library since I couldn’t renew it and wasn’t quite finished.  A History of the Paper Pattern Industry:  The Home Dressmaking Fashion Revolution by Joy Spanabel Emery was really well done.  The older I get, the more important history seems and while this isn’t world history, it’s history that covers one of my favorite little corners of the world.
  • I really like hats and, for the past few summers, have been thinking I’d like a white summer hat.  After doing a little research on Panama hats, I found one that looks like the real deal (made in Montechristi, Ecuador of toquilla straw) on eBay and ordered it.  I love it!

A Summer Dress:  McCall's 7774 in Yellow Linen

  • I haven’t been able to shake my summer obsession with wooden-bottom clog sandals (is it just summer love or is it true love forever??).  Here is the latest pair I keep looking at by Cape Clogs.  They’re pink!

Summer Sewing Inspiration

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Summer Sewing Inspiration

It’s summer!  I don’t have a finished project to share today (although I do have one in progress!), so I thought it would be fun to share some summer sewing inspiration with you.

I love summer clothing that is loose-fitting so that the breeze can blow through and keep me cool, and at the moment, I just want to sew easy things.  However…since I don’t always feel this way (and I know other people go back and forth, too), I’m including some simple as well as more complex patterns in this list.  Some are free, some are from independent designers, and some are from the Big 4 (Butterick, Simplicity, McCall’s, and Vogue).  Let’s dive in!

Tops

It would be terrific to find some staple patterns that are either great basics to showcase fun fabric or have interesting style lines.  I’m currently making the Peppermint Magazine Peplum Top.

Summer Sewing Inspiration

This is a free pattern that seemed like a nice twist on a basic tank top.  I’ve heard this is pretty cropped, so I’m making the pattern as is, but may lengthen it in the future.  I’m using a vintage sheet and some vintage trim that I have on hand, but it would also be great in the new Mariner Cloth designed by Alison Glass for Andover or a drapey linen or silk.

Another pattern I’m curious about is Butterick 5948.

Summer Sewing Inspiration

The illustrations on the pattern envelope are pretty basic, but I think that’s the point of the top. It’s basic and can be used as your everyday woven t-shirt or tank.  It can be something you make to blend with the rest of your wardrobe or it can stand out and feature a cool fabric. View F with the length of E really appeals to me since I don’t have a go-to woven t-shirt pattern.  This would be cool in Robert Kaufman’s Neon Neppy or a crepe de chine.  Rayon challis isn’t my favorite fabric, but it would be really nice made up into one of these shirts.

Another garment I’m considering is Simplicity 8172, View A, a kimono-type jacket.

Summer Sewing Inspiration

This is in no way a traditional kimono, but is loosely inspired by that garment type with its wide sleeves and loose fit.  I have some beautiful polyester crepe de chine from Mood that friends got me for my birthday a few years ago.  I’ve been waiting to find just the right garment for it, and this may be it.

Lastly, I would love to find a Tried ‘N True (TNT) boho top pattern.  I thought about the new Phoenix Blouse from Hey June Handmade or the Roscoe Blouse from True Bias, but I just don’t know.  Both are close, but I don’t think I’ve found the right one yet.  Any suggestions?

Bottoms

At the end of last summer, I started to realize that some of my shorts are kind of short.  This never bothered me in the past–in fact, I didn’t even notice it–they just seemed like a good proportion for my body, but that shorted length doesn’t feel as comfortable to me as it used to.  I think I want something a little longer.

I love the easy elastic-waist fit and slightly longer length of the short in Simplicity 1887.

Summer Sewing Inspiration

It has a flat front with a tie and pockets.  I can see this in a sparkly linen (probably because it looks like that’s what the sample is made from).  Robert Kaufman makes a great Essex Yarn Dyed metallic that I’m hoping isn’t too lightweight.

For more of a gym short take, there are the City Gym Shorts from Purl Soho, a free pattern.  I’ve been looking at these for the past few years, but haven’t tried them.  They come in adult and kids’ sizes.  I bet they would be fun made up in a great printed quilting cotton, a chambray for something more basic, or peachskin for a look inspired by board shorts–or you could go luxe and use some Liberty of London fabric like they do in their samples.

If you are after something more complex and classic, the Thurlow Shorts from Sewaholic is a great pattern that I made in yellow last year (there is also a pant view included in the pattern).

Thurlow Shorts in Tinted Denim

If I end up wanting a more in-depth project, I would love to make a few more pairs in some of the other colors of Tinted Denim from Cloud9 Fabrics.  Note that I straightened the legs considerably in my version.  The original is more flared.

Thurlow Shorts in Tinted Denim

One more option if you want to dig into an interesting project that will take more time is Butterick 4995 (out of print, but available on Etsy).

Summer Sewing Inspiration

These wide-leg pants come in shorter and longer lengths and have been on my list for a few years.  I have some yellow linen from Fabric Mart that would be great for View B.  (This linen does go on sale periodically, so if you can wait for a sale, it’s definitely worth it.)

I still don’t feel that I’ve found my favorite easy woven skirt pattern.  Maybe the Cleo Skirt from Made by Rae?  It looks simple, but has pockets and some fun customization options.  Otherwise, maybe the Brumby Skirt from Megan Nielsen would lend itself to an elastic back waistband hack.  It has an exposed zipper, but you could omit that and change the back waistband.  Can you tell I’m into the elastic waists this season?

Brumby Skirt pattern by Megan Nielsen

This is a different look, but I have two of the Short Skirts in my closet from Natalie Chanin’s book Alabama Studio Sewing + Design.  This is an A-line skirt made from four panels that sits low on your hips.  The top edge is covered with fold over elastic, and because it’s meant to be made from jersey, you can leave the bottom unfinished.  Despite its name, this skirt is actually knee-length on me.  Created before I started blogging, these garments are great everyday skirts if you make the basic, unadorned version.  I have one made from a knit sheet and another patched together from a few coordinating t-shirts.  While you certainly can sew these by hand and heavily embellish them, if you use the pattern and sew them on your machine, they are very quick and forgiving projects.  Just a little thought if speed is your aim.

I would also love any maxi skirt suggestions.  I made the ankara one recently, and I like wearing it, but I’m open to trying other ideas as well.

Dresses

Last year I made the Hannah Dress from Victory Patterns, and I still love it.  (Here’s a link to the pattern.)

Hannah Dress by Victory Patterns in Rayon Challis

This falls into the ‘more complex, but very fascinating’ category.  It’s some serious pattern origami.

Hannah Dress by Victory Patterns in Rayon Challis

I don’t think I’ll make it again this year, but I would love to make it again in a cotton or linen at some point since the rayon challis I used shifted and puckered quite a bit.

Here’s a dress that looks like a good everyday dress:  the Forsythe Dress from French Navy Patterns.  I like that it’s loose, has pockets, and has interesting seam lines that you could use to feature fun fabric (stripes, maybe?) if you wanted to.

I’d love a good maxi dress pattern.  Any suggestions?  Something really flowy would be nice.  I just realized that all the long, beautiful dress pictures I’ve saved on my “Fashion Ideas for this Year’s Projects” Pinterest board all have long sleeves.  Hm…

Of course, once you get started with ideas, they never end.  I went a little crazy planning projects and managed to completely exhaust my brain, so I’m trying to slow myself down just a little and do some easier projects to take a little break.  I’ll also be taking a break from the blog in July.  I plan to post next week, and then will take July off, and maybe even a little bit of August.  We’ll see.  I hope you all have a great summer and if you have favorite summer sewing patterns or patterns you are excited about and are thinking of making, please leave me your ideas in the comments.  I love new sewing ideas!

 

 

 

Burda Style 7114 Dress in Amy Butler Fabric…and the End of Spring Sewing

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Burda Style 7114 Dress in Amy Butler Fabric…and the End of Spring Sewing

It feels like it took the entire spring season, but I finally finished this batch of projects.  Well, ok, I didn’t finish the muslins, but do I have to count those?  This dress, Burda Style 7114, was the last “real” garment (since muslins are proto-garments in my mind).  It represents some of my best and worst sewing.  Let me explain…

Burda Style 7114 Dress in Amy Butler Fabric

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Burda Style 7114 Dress in Amy Butler Fabric

I did some things I’m really good at, and they turned out well.  Some of my seam finishes are great, and I even managed to grade the pattern up beyond what the size range of the pattern is–something I haven’t done before.  I also tried some new things or tried things differently and, frankly, they look pretty bad, but I’m leaving them.  I tried a different method for the single welt pockets and I tried to do machine blind hems on the sleeves and hem.  I’ve only done each of these things one or two times, and I think they turned out terribly, but (1.) I’m still the only one who will really notice, (2.) I wanted to finish this dress, and (3.) maybe this is me putting a glossy coating on my own impatience, but this is where I’m at with these techniques, and I think leaving them is a reminder that I have to start somewhere.  We don’t start out as experts, we start as beginners.  And it’s definitely a humbling thing to become a beginner again when you are getting fairly proficient in other areas.

Burda Style 7114 Dress in Amy Butler Fabric

I have had this pattern for a long time.

Burda Style 7114 Dress in Amy Butler Fabric

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Burda Style 7114 Dress in Amy Butler Fabric

I looked at it and planned to make it over and over without really committing.  I love the look and shape, but I was intimidated by Burda Style patterns because I hadn’t tried them before.  So this spring, (after breaking the Burda Style barrier with my Burda Style 7084 dirndl in the fall) I finally put it on my list.  I’m also realizing how much really good fabric I have that I want to use, so I dug deep in the stash and pulled out some old Amy Butler fabric that was originally earmarked for reupholstering our couch 9 years ago.  We went with a neutral color for the couch, which meant that this has hung out in my stash since before I started sewing regularly.  I thought it would make a good first-try-fabric for this pattern since it has that fun, retro look to it just like the dress.  And you know what?  I really like it.  I didn’t know if I would like this dress until I put it on to take pictures, but I really do.  It’s comfortable and interesting.

Burda Style 7114 Dress in Amy Butler Fabric

I traced the 18, which was the largest size, and then I did my best to grade the waist out to what would be a 20 and the hips to a 22.  I used the size 18 sleeve.  Burda’s sizing isn’t the same as McCall’s or Simplicity’s or the other Big 4 companies.  They have their own system.  In order to grade up, I looked at how the pattern looked as it went from one size to another and did my best to imitate that.

Burda Style 7114 Dress in Amy Butler Fabric

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Burda Style 7114 Dress in Amy Butler Fabric

I also did a major broad back adjustment.

Burda Style 7114 Dress in Amy Butler Fabric

I couldn’t find the 24″ zipper the pattern called for, so I used a 22″ zipper.  This worked out just fine.  I also tried using a light grey thread since I didn’t have any that matched.

Here are my notes on the pattern.

  • Seam allowances are included in the Burda Style paper patterns (which you can get at JoAnn Fabrics), unlike in Burda magazine.  Yay!
  • I tried to follow the directions for the most part, hoping to learn some new techniques and accustom myself to how Burda Style patterns work, since I have several I would like to try at some point.  I really do think there is probably a better welt pocket method, however.  I think next time I will look in one of the sewing reference books I have or at another pattern and try something different.

Burda Style 7114 Dress in Amy Butler Fabric

  • I tried the machine blind hem instead of sewing by hand as directed since I wanted to learn that technique.  Not pretty, but if I keep practicing, I’ll get it eventually.

Burda Style 7114 Dress in Amy Butler Fabric

  • There was a lot of basting before sewing your final seams, and while it’s a great idea, and I did it at first, by the time I was half way through the pattern, I realized I didn’t need to baste quite as much as the pattern told me to.
  • The other part where I deviated from the instructions was installing the invisible zipper.  I think the directions that came with the zipper were more detailed, so I followed those.  I kept messing it up, though, (reading directions AND looking at the pictures is a better idea than reading alone, in case you are wondering) and I had to put the zipper in FOUR times.  The words I wanted to say at that point aren’t ones I will type out, but I did go off on a rant to my husband about how I was only sewing easy things and repeat patterns after this.  And by the way, this had nothing to do with the directions in the pattern or the zipper packaging.  It was 100% operator error.  I think it came out well in the end, thankfully.

Burda Style 7114 Dress in Amy Butler Fabric

But…I persevered, and I finished!  I wasn’t sure if all my adjustments had worked and if the dress would fit, but I tried it on after washing out all the sewing marker, and it did!  I wasn’t sure if I would like the dress, but I do.  I like a shift/A-line style, and the pockets are pretty great, too.  After making this version (Version A), I think I would try this again and maybe make Version B, which is sleeveless.  It has kind of a fun and interesting look.

Burda Style 7114 Dress in Amy Butler Fabric

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Burda Style 7114 Dress in Amy Butler Fabric

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Burda Style 7114 Dress in Amy Butler Fabric

And now it’s time for SUMMER SEWING!!!  I’m so excited.  I love summer sewing.  I just want to make loose, easy linen or cotton tops.  All the linen!  All the cotton!

OK.  That probably won’t be all I make, but it might be.  I don’t have firm plans yet, so we’ll see!

Recommendations

  • I found a new sewing/crafting podcast!  I’ve been listening to Stitcher’s Brew, and it’s so fun!  This one is based in England, so it’s a great chance to get to know about the sewing scene that is happening there. Gabby and Megan seem like they have a great time together, which makes the podcast really fun to listen to.
  • I meant to post this article on making great collar points last week, but forgot about it. In “How to Make a Perfect Point”, shirtmaking expert David Page Coffin shares his experiments in collar points with us.  I think about this every time I turn my collars right side out.
  • I think costume design is so interesting.  Here is an intriguing article about “The Afrofuturistic Designs of ‘Black Panther'”.  I had heard the costumes in “Black Panther” were good, and I wasn’t disappointed.
  • Think you have a lot to worry about?  How about the plight of the humble marshmallow farmer in North Carolina? 😉

 

An Oversized Simplicity 1538 in Cotton and Steel Raindrop Print

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An Oversized Simplicity 1538 in Cotton and Steel Raindrop Print

If I haven’t declared it before, I’m doing it now:  Simplicity 1538 is my Tried ‘N’ True (TNT) button up shirt.

Simplicity 1538:  my TNT shirt pattern in raindrop Cotton and Steel fabric

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Simplicity 1538:  my TNT shirt pattern in raindrop Cotton and Steel fabric

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Simplicity 1538:  my TNT shirt pattern in raindrop Cotton and Steel fabric

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Simplicity 1538:  my TNT shirt pattern in raindrop Cotton and Steel fabric

I have made this so many times, and I love it.  I’m sure it’s not substantially different from many other button up shirts, but I know how to modify it to fit ME, and that’s what makes it special.  I’ve discovered that although they take awhile, I really like making button up shirts.  They are a great canvas for a number of different fabric substrates and fun prints, or you can make them very subdued.  I also really like all of the options for details that you can put into each shirt.  I definitely get into finding just the right topstitching thread, locating the perfect buttons, and deciding what fabric I want to use for yokes, collar stands, and cuffs.

Simplicity 1538:  my TNT shirt pattern in raindrop Cotton and Steel fabric

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Simplicity 1538:  my TNT shirt pattern in raindrop Cotton and Steel fabric

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Simplicity 1538:  my TNT shirt pattern in raindrop Cotton and Steel fabric

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Simplicity 1538:  my TNT shirt pattern in Cotton and Steel raindrop print

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Simplicity 1538:  my TNT shirt pattern in raindrop Cotton and Steel fabric

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Simplicity 1538:  my TNT shirt pattern in raindrop Cotton and Steel fabric

Now when I see someone wearing a button up shirt, I look at it to see if there are any details I might want to incorporate into a future shirt.

All this shirt love, however, has given me a closet with several great shirts, and as I’m not really one for dressing in a “uniform” (meaning the same type of clothing every day), I wanted a button up shirt that was at least slightly different.  So, for this shirt, I sized up and lengthened the shirt by a total of four inches.  The shirts I already have made from this pattern fit fine, but my measurements have changed slightly, so according to the size chart, I should be making a size larger.  I decided to try that out for this version.  I have also wanted a shirt or two that covers my butt and, while I have lengthened this pattern by two inches previously, it wasn’t quite as long as I wanted.  I worried that these changes might not work, but I decided to go for them anyway.  What I got was a wonderful, oversized shirt.

Simplicity 1538:  my TNT shirt pattern in raindrop Cotton and Steel fabric

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Simplicity 1538:  my TNT shirt pattern in raindrop Cotton and Steel fabric

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Simplicity 1538:  my TNT shirt pattern in raindrop Cotton and Steel fabric

As far as classic markers for fit go, this shirt doesn’t fit well.  The shoulder seam extends beyond the end of my shoulder, and when I put my hands on my hips, I get drag lines.  I think the darts are also somewhat low.  However, when combined with the longer length, it gives an overall relaxed vibe that I really like.  I was worried that this shirt would just turn into a sea of raindrops with the added length and be way too much, but the length is perfect and the print is great.  Because this fits the way I want it to, the fit is perfect!  I have worn this both with jeans (as pictured) and with nicer pants (these gray pants), and it’s easy to dress up and down.  I’m also excited that it will be a great slouchy fit should I decide to make another flannel sometime in the future.  AND I’m happy to have a chance to use this fun fabric in colors that I love.

Speaking of this fabric, which is a Cotton + Steel quilting cotton called “Drops Yellow” that I got at Pintuck & Purl…I have to point something out that I really love.  Normally the selvage of a quilting cotton is fine.  It has the name of the designer(s) and the collection and fabric company.  It might have a little picture or two, maybe.  When Cotton + Steel does selvages, though, they sometimes put cute little sayings on them, and I love using them as tags.  The first time I did this was on this apple print skirt.  And the next time?  Yep!  On this very shirt!  Check it out.

Simplicity 1538:  my TNT shirt pattern in raindrop Cotton and Steel fabric

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Simplicity 1538:  my TNT shirt pattern in raindrop Cotton and Steel fabric

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Simplicity 1538:  my TNT shirt pattern in raindrop Cotton and Steel fabric

Some of my favorite art is the kind that makes you look at things in new (positive) ways, and this definitely qualifies.  They turned a ho-hum part of the fabric yardage into a focal point that creates even more opportunity for creative expression.  Brilliant.

Before I wrap this up, here are a few other little details I incorporated into this shirt.  Extra buttons just in case I lose one or two:

Simplicity 1538:  my TNT shirt pattern in raindrop Cotton and Steel fabric

And some sweet French seams.  The armhole seam allowances are wider than the side seam allowances because I forgot that you usually sew your wider seam allowance on the first pass and trim down before sewing your narrower seam allowance, but oh well!  I’m here to get things done, not necessarily to make them perfect!

Simplicity 1538:  my TNT shirt pattern in raindrop Cotton and Steel fabric

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Simplicity 1538:  my TNT shirt pattern in raindrop Cotton and Steel fabric

Also, look how much thread I have left of each color!  It was so close!  I can’t believe I finished before running out!

Simplicity 1538:  my TNT shirt pattern in raindrop Cotton and Steel fabric

So, all in all, this one is a win.  And while I definitely recommend this pattern because of my own personal love for it, I really think the best button up pattern is the one that you like that you have customized to fit you.

Simplicity 1538:  my TNT shirt pattern in raindrop Cotton and Steel fabric

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Simplicity 1538:  my TNT shirt pattern in raindrop Cotton and Steel fabric

The many iterations of Simplicity 1538

In case you are interested, here are the various versions of this pattern that I’ve made:

  • Version one:  a wearable muslin made in a cute vintage sheet.  This version helped me realize that I needed a major broad back adjustment.  I also didn’t realize that shirts are only “button down” shirts if they have buttons on the collar that help you button the collar down.  What I was making was a button up.
  • Version two: one of my favorite versions in a tiger print by Cotton + Steel.  I still wear this shirt often.  This post shows how to do a major broad back adjustment on a shirt with a set-in sleeve like this.  I also began making a box pleat in the back on this version, rather than the gathers the pattern calls for.
  • Version three:  my best plaid matching ever and still my favorite flannel shirt that I have made.  This is the first time I tried lengthening this pattern.  I added two inches to this version.
  • Version four:  in a non-plaid flannel with pearl snaps!  If you need help installing pearl snaps, I have a tutorial for that here.
  • Version five: in red and white gingham in which I discover the beauty of good quality fabric.  I love this version for summer.
  • Version six:  this one!

Wow!  I think this wins my “most sewn pattern” award!

And now that I have finished this shirt, I have one more dress to finish up, and then it’s on to summer sewing!!!!  Yay!  I can’t wait.  Do you have any patterns you’re really excited to sew for summer?  I’d love to hear about them in the comments.  Send me some sewing inspiration!

Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

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Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

Today’s project was a struggle!  Thankfully, I can report that it ended happily, but it was a long process getting there.

The challenge:  could I make jeans I liked using the denim I had, which was less than what the pattern called for?  Armed with my Denim Pinterest board and ideas from the Refashioners 2016 jeans challenge, I was ready to take this one on!

I decided to use the Morgan Boyfriend Jeans Pattern from Closet Case Patterns since I had non-stretch denim.

Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

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Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

Idea one was all about a casual, patchy look.  I love clothes that are casual, lived in, and durable.  I decided to cut as much of the top of the jeans as I could from the denim I had left over from my Jutland cutoffs from last year and my Lander Pants.  I would use the worn out jeans we had around the house (kept for patch jobs) to construct the bottoms of the pants.

Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

This seemed like a great idea, and looked really cool on my sewing table.

Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

Unfortunately, when I put them on, my cool, patched legs became something akin to denim leg warmers attached to jeans made of thin and much more flexible denim.

Fail.

On the advice of some very wise friends who, although not sewists themselves, often help me troubleshoot my projects, I took the pants bottoms off, and moved them up higher so the pants would end around my ankles.

Everything looked good on the work table again, but when I put them on, the denim leg warmer look was back, and it wasn’t a good thing.  It was time to abandon that idea.

Option two was cropped pants with a raw edge, back slightly longer than the front.  One look told me this wasn’t a good option on these particular jeans.

Fail.

Time to come up with a third option.  At this point, my eldest daughter had a great idea. I could use some of the anchor fabric I was using for my pocket bags on the inside bottom of my pant legs so that I would have cropped pants that could be rolled up to reveal the cute print on the fabric.

I loved this idea!  It wasn’t too hard to execute, and it looked great.  The fabric, with its cute anchors and hearts is directional, so I had to think about that as I planned it out.  Thankfully, I got it right the first try.  The pants are shorter than most cropped pants you see today, but I like them.  They are great for spring and cooler summer days.

Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

Things were finally on track.  I just had to put on my waistband and back pockets.  I put the waistband on and…they didn’t fit.  And I had trimmed my side seams.  Oh no!

I tried letting the side seams out the little bit that I could, but it just wasn’t enough.  I couldn’t understand it.  I thought they had fit, but when I really examined what I had done, I realized that I must have been close to a 14 waist or between sizes, so I traced a 14 waist and 16 hip when I should have just done a straight size 16.

I wanted to give up, but I was so close to being done.  I decided to try one more thing, and if that didn’t work, I would give the pants away.  I added little triangle wedges at the top of each side seam using the same striped fabric I had used in my pocket facings, but turning the stripes perpendicular.

Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

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Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

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Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

I lengthened my waistband at the end so that I wouldn’t change the curve (I had also added a dart at the center back to prevent gaping, and I didn’t want to change that either).  Then I finished everything up, tried them on, and…THEY FIT!  They fit well!  And they were pretty cute!  I was so happy.

Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

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Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

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Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

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Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

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Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

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Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

I think I seam-ripped everything on those pants at least once–more in a lot of places.  I am so, so glad they are done, but also really happy to have a pair of fun jeans that I like, AND to have used up so many scraps.  Not only was my denim left over from other projects, so was the anchor fabric (I used it to make this shirt) and the striped fabric (I used the other side as my right side when I made the striped shorts in this post).  I even used a leather scrap to make a little patch.  Yay!

Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

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Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

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Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

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Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

As for the pattern itself, I liked it, and would make it again.  I like the button fly, which is different from other jeans that I have, and the comfortable fit (once I got the sizing right).

Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

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Knee-Length Morgan Boyfriend Jeans, or: Making Jeans Without Enough Denim

I have a few more detail-oriented projects in my queue, but after that, I might need a palate-cleanser of easy projects!  With family sickness (now better), projects that weren’t straightforward, and several muslins (still unsewn), spring sewing has been a bit of a slog.  Even with that, though, I still love sewing.  I’m excited to finish up these last few things and get down to easy and/or summer sewing!  Bring it on!  (If only I can narrow down my ideas!)