Tag Archives: dress

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!
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McCall’s 7561 Knit Octopus Dress

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McCall’s 7561 Knit Octopus Dress

Do you wear dresses?  If so, do you like knit or woven dresses?  I was a tomboy growing up and after a few years in a school where I was required to wear skirts or dresses every day, I was pretty happy to mostly leave them behind for the rest of my growing-up years.  I feel different about dresses now, though.  I still don’t wear them often, and when I do wear them, it’s mostly in warmer weather, but I can’t resist great-looking dress patterns!  I have so many that I’ve never sewn.  I’m so glad I attempted McCall’s 7561, however.  It was a pattern that I had put in my own Christmas stocking 😉 because I really wanted to try it.

McCall's 7561 Knit Octopus Dress

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McCall's 7561 Knit Octopus Dress

When there was a sale at Pintuck & Purl before their big move, I bought some of this pink Cotton + Steel cotton/spandex jersey with octopi all over it.  It’s called “Mystery Food Orchid” and even has a fun selvage.  The selvage is easy to turn into a fun tag.  🙂

McCall's 7561 Knit Octopus Dress

I had some of it in a quilting cotton in my stash, but I really wanted to try the knit, too.  Does it look a little juvenile?  Maybe.  But I like it, and I’m not here to sew all “normal” clothes.

McCall's 7561 Knit Octopus Dress

When my parents were here visiting, we had a trip planned to the New England Aquarium and, like any sewist who likes an unrealistic deadline, I put two and two together the day before we went, and thought, “Maybe I could make an octopus dress tonight!”  I’m not the world’s fastest sewer, but I had the pattern traced, it was a knit (which can make fitting easier), AND I wouldn’t have to finish any seams.  It was on!

And I did it!  Not only did I make it, but I made it with pockets, too!  And you know what?  It was really fun to wear my dress to the aquarium the next day.  It’s comfortable and very easy to wear with leggings when the weather is cold.

McCall's 7561 Knit Octopus Dress

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This pattern was (happily) so quick and easy.  It took me 45 minutes to cut out including pockets (which are a free pattern from Tilly & the Buttons, not a part of the McCall’s pattern).

McCall's 7561 Knit Octopus Dress

I made Dress B and lengthened it about 5″ since I knew that would feel more comfortable when I wear it without leggings.  I made a large in the bust and graded out to an extra large for the waist and hip.

McCall's 7561 Knit Octopus Dress

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McCall's 7561 Knit Octopus Dress

I sewed clear elastic into the shoulder seams so they wouldn’t stretch out.

McCall's 7561 Knit Octopus Dress

The waist was kind of funny in that you sew the bodice to the skirt and then encase your elastic in the seam allowance so that you don’t do any stitching on the outside of the garment.  It was a little weird, but also creative, so I don’t quite know how I feel about it construction-wise.  As far as wearing, it’s very comfortable.

McCall's 7561 Knit Octopus Dress

The pockets are made following Tilly’s instructions, but I find that they gape sometimes, so I don’t know if I should understitch somewhere or if there is a better method.  Does anyone have any thoughts on that?  For this particular project, speed was the name of the game, so I didn’t think about it too much.

This was all done with a zigzag stitch, jersey needle, and walking foot on a regular home sewing machine.  And that’s about it!  I would definitely make this pattern again, hopefully in a summer version.  We’ll see.  I’d also like to try a t-shirt style knit dress, so if anyone has any favorite patterns, let me know in the comments!  Thanks!

McCall's 7561 Knit Octopus Dress

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McCall's 7561 Knit Octopus Dress

Recommendations

  • The History of English podcast just had a great episode (#110) called “Dyed in the Wool” that is all about words and phrases in the English language that were originally related to the wool trade.  You’ll be surprised when you find out where some of the last names, terms, and phrases you’ve heard originated from.
  • Have you ever looked at the knitting patterns from Boyland Knitworks?  I’ve seen a few on Instagram and at Pintuck & Purl, and they’re so beautiful!  I’m in love with the Alyeska sweater.  I kind of thinking I could actually make the Glacier Park cowl.  I’ll have to keep it in mind if I need another knitting project.
  • I went on a little trip up to New Hampshire last weekend and stopped at the Tilt’n Diner in Laconia, NH.  It was great!  It was decorated in a fun 1950’s style with paintings of ’50’s scenes on the walls and quirky sayings all over.  I got breakfast, but I think they serve all meal types at all times of day.  Milkshake for breakfast?  That’s up to you!

Vintage Butterick 3731 Dress in Blue Rayon Challis

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Vintage Butterick 3731 Dress in Blue Rayon Challis

This summer we attended two weddings, which seemed like a great reason to challenge myself to sew a few dresses.  I’ve never been much of a dress-wearer, but I’d like to find a style or two that I like for summer, and wear dresses more.  My original plans involved making a fit-and-flare dress for the first wedding and Butterick 3731 for the second, but creative plans often change.  I don’t know what it is, but so far, after trying two different patterns, the fit-and-flare, darted-bodice dress style eludes me.  There must be some fitting knowledge that I’m missing.  So, after a hearty (but failed) attempt, I put that style aside and got to work on Butterick 3731.

Vintage Butterick 3731

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Vintage Butterick 3731

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Vintage Butterick 3731

This pattern is probably only my second vintage pattern that I’ve worked from.  On one of my trips to the Brimfield Antique Show I found this pattern, which was in my bust size…but was missing instructions.  The antique dealer gave it to me for free since it only had the pattern pieces.  I posted about it online, and crossed my fingers hoping that someone in the sewing community would have it and could send me directions.  And a wonderful lady named Sara did.  Isn’t the sewing community great that way?  Thanks again, Sara!

Vintage Butterick 3731

My original intention was to make the maxi dress.  I graded the waist and hips out to fit my measurements and made a muslin (which was a good idea, because I found a few little problems I needed to fix).  Then I bought some rayon challis from Joann Fabrics at a great price.  The fabric is one designed by Gretchen Hirsch for Joann’s, which I was excited to try.  I laid it all out, only to realize that in grading the waist and hips up, I hadn’t considered the sweep of the skirt.  It was too wide and I didn’t have quite enough fabric.  I could have made the skirt more narrow, but even so, I was somehow still short on fabric, so I decided that this dress would have to be the shorter version.

Vintage Butterick 3731

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Vintage Butterick 3731

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Vintage Butterick 3731

This pattern was so easy to make and fit!  It was great to have a project that wasn’t overly hard to fit!  That being said, however, there were little parts where notches didn’t align or seams needed to be finished beyond what the directions instructed.  I made sure to use French seams or clean-finished seams so the insides would look relatively nice.  My goal wasn’t perfection, just a dress that was well-made and that I felt comfortable in.  And I do feel comfortable in this dress.  I’ll admit that the picture of how I look in my head isn’t exactly how I look in real life, but I still love the dress.

Vintage Butterick 3731

The flowy fabric turned out to be a good choice as well.  It’s soft, yet cool. I will say, however, that having used both the rayon challis from Cotton + Steel on a shirt for my mom as well as this rayon challis from Joann’s, there is a marked difference.  I don’t have full confidence that the fabric in this dress will stand up to wear and tear, whereas the Cotton + Steel rayon feels really durable.  Cotton + Steel rayon is also far, far more expensive, so you have to weigh your priorities.  This was the right fabric for this dress at the right price point.  I’d still really love to make the maxi version, but that will also have to wait for the right fabric at the right price point…that maxi will take a lot of fabric!

Vintage Butterick 3731

If anyone is thinking of trying this pattern (and it seems like there are a number of copies out there on Etsy and other sites), I would recommend it.  It’s comfortable, easy to fit, and great in a drapey fabric.  Despite a few little oddities in the directions (a few notches that didn’t match up and a facing that ran a little short), the directions and pattern pieces are good overall.  It also feels current as the ’70’s return yet again.  😉  I’d love to try this in a soft linen.

Vintage Butterick 3731

Recommendations

  • Siobhan of the blog Just Keep Sewing made one of my favorite versions of the Victory Patterns Hannah dress, which is on my 2017 Summer Sewing list.
  • If you love 1970’s fashion, you might want to check out the #70sfashioncult hashtag on Instagram.  It’s full of patterns and ’70’s clothes.  You could even add your own retro creations or ’70’s patterns!
  • Do you live in the Midwest of the USA?  If you do, and you have a Meijer near you (which is like a Midwestern Target), try their Michigan Cherry coffee.  It’s one of my favorites!  Several of my friends in New England have also grown to love it since I have wonderful in-laws and parents who are willing to ship it to me.  😉
  • Since knowledge is power, let me help you with your bowling game.  After watching this, I want to ask my local bowling alley if they oil their lanes with ‘The Badger’ or ‘The Cheetah’ or a house pattern.  They’ll probably think I’m super cool if I do that.  Right? 😉  Check it out:  The hidden oil patterns on bowling lanes.

The Plaid Flannel Dress: Simplicity 8014

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I made a dress!  And not just any dress, but a cozy flannel dress.  It’s time to post this cool-weather project before spring gets here, so let’s get down to it!

Simplicity 8014 in Mammoth Plaid

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Simplicity 8014 in Mammoth Plaid

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Simplicity 8014 in Mammoth Plaid

Today’s project is Simplicity 8014, a shirt dress made from lofty Robert Kaufman Mammoth Flannel in the Adventure colorway.

Not only is this dress soft with plenty of ease for comfort, it’s also underlined with a slippery rayon Bemberg lining fabric so it glides easily over tights or leggings.

Simplicity 8014 in Mammoth Plaid

If you’re not familiar with underlining, it’s when you take two layers of fabric and hold them together as if they were one, sometimes from the start of the project, and sometimes beginning after the darts have been constructed in each layer.  It is different than lining or interlining.  (In fact, I think we should make up more sewing terms with the word ‘lining’ in them just to make it more confusing.  😉 )  Underlining can have multiple benefits.  It strengthens the garment, especially if your fashion fabric is light or loosely woven, and it can provide a layer to stitch into (for hems, etc.) that won’t show your stitches on the outside.  (Here’s a great article from Threads Magazine that explains everything better than I could.)  In my case, I wanted a smooth layer that would keep my dress from catching on tights or leggings.  I’ve only underlined garments maybe once, but in that case, I read about what underlining was and then applied the definition as I saw fit.  This time, I decided to actually follow the traditional process for underlining.

There are four views in this pattern.

Simplicity 8014

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Simplicity 8014

I made View D, but dropped the hem of the dress to the length of View C.  I also chose to make this with long sleeves and interior tabs in case I want to roll the sleeves up at some point.  I made a 16 in the bust and graded out to an 18 for the waist and hips.  I also lowered the bust dart and did a major broad back adjustment.

Simplicity 8014 in Mammoth Plaid

Fabric for this project came from Pintuck & Purl, and buttons, thread, lining, and interfacing came from Jo-Ann Fabrics.  Despite the look of the buttons, they aren’t pearl snaps.  Buttons seemed more secure for a dress, and these are some of my favorites.

In order to underline this dress, I cut out all of my pieces in the flannel, and then also cut out the body and hem facings a second time in Bemberg/Ambiance rayon.  I didn’t think a smooth inside was necessary for the sleeves. I chose Bemberg as my underlining fabric because it is a semi-synthetic/semi-natural fabric (rayon is made from wood pulp) and because it’s not prone to static cling.

Using the method outlined in the Reader’s Digest Sewing Complete Guide to Sewing, I basted the layers of flannel and rayon together and then trimmed the rayon to more closely resemble the flannel.  Cutting out the rayon was a bit tricky, but a lot of those imperfections got trimmed off or were hidden in the seam allowances.  It would have been easier and more accurate if I had used a rotary cutter, but my cutting mat wasn’t large enough for me to do that without having to move my pieces around.

Simplicity 8014

Sadly, this is the only underlining picture I could get to load onto Flickr.  I had a few pictures of the pieces basted together, but after trying to get them to upload several times, I had to give up.  😦

Once it was all basted, I sewed it together using the pattern instructions.  Since I try to focus on learning only one or two new techniques per project (most of the time), I decided not to worry about perfect internal finishings, and I zigzagged and trimmed my seam allowances.  Because I bought the last of this fabric (although it has been restocked since I made this dress), I didn’t have enough extra fabric to put my yoke or cuffs on the bias.  I did manage to cut my chest pockets on the bias, but here’s where we enter ‘things I should have done’…  Next time it wouldn’t be a bad idea to interface those pockets if they are on the bias because I think mine started stretching a little as I handled and sewed them.  I also think it would have been a good idea to put just a little bit of interfacing under the buttons for the sleeve tabs to strengthen that area a little bit.

Simplicity 8014 in Mammoth Plaid

So, final verdict?  This is a great dress!  As a friend of mine pointed out, it sort of fits into one of my favorite clothing categories:  secret pajamas.  It’s warm and cozy and kind of like a nightgown with a belt.  I love that it has pockets and is loose and comfy, but has the belt for a little bit of shaping.  Ironically, I finished this the day before we got some warm weather.  I tried to wear it to a Sip & Stitch craft night at Pintuck & Purl, and completely overheated and had to change within about 10 minutes.  Haha!  Oh, well.  It’s been cold since, and I’ve really enjoyed wearing it.  Added bonus:  this was one of my 2017 Make Nine Projects, so that’s one more down!

Simplicity 8014 in Mammoth Plaid

I promise I’m smiling in this picture!  Or am I crying because taking blog pictures is hard?  😉

Recommendations

  • In case you are curious about lining fabrics and other resources related to that, check out this article from the blog A Fashionable Stitch:  Understanding Lining Fabric + Resources .  This is such a great blog if  you want to increase your sewing knowledge and skills.  There are a number of posts on different types of fabric and so much more.
  • In fact, here is a post from the same blog on rayon wovens.  If you are new to sewing or just want to know what the big deal with rayon is, this post will clue you in.  It’s a relatively new fabric for me, but so far I really like it.
  • I know we already talked about my personal 2017 Make Nine challenge, but if you want to read more about it or are interested in jumping in yourself, here’s a recent post from the challenge’s creator, Rochelle New, on what it is and how you can join in.  So far, I’ve found it really fun.

Batch Sewing and a Coco Dress

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After returning from Michigan a month or so ago, I was anxious to start sewing again.  I came back with lots of good fabric from my travels and, since I’m trying to up my sewing game, I decided to try out a different method for getting ready to use that fabric.  Normally I have one or two or even three projects that I’m working on at the same time, but this time, I decided to move several projects through the pipeline together so that I could test out some patterns in preparation for using my “nice” fabric.

I made a big list of all the projects I wanted and needed to do in the near future, and then wrote down the steps I needed to take.  Once I taped those up on my wall and determined which projects could happen now and which would have to wait a bit, I decided to prep all my patterns.  For me, this means tracing out my size and cutting out my traced pattern.  I usually fall into one size at the bust, and a larger size at the waist and hips, so tracing also tends to mean blending two different sizes for tops.  I also want to begin to understand how to fit pants, so I did some research and took a guess at what was needed to make my McCall’s 6848 shorts pattern fit better, and I added those modifications to my already traced pattern.

Once all the tracing, blending, and changing was done on the paper patterns, I cut all my garments out.  I decided to test these patterns out with wearable muslins before making up the winners in my final fabric.  It’s hard for me to take the time to make a muslin, but if I tell myself it’s a wearable muslin, it helps.  Even if I hate the pattern and end up giving the muslin away, it helps somehow.

Then it was on to sewing!  Figuring out what to sew first really showed me:  I love sewing with knits.   Sewing knits is my “low-hanging fruit”–the type of sewing that feels easy and fast.  There’s no seam finishing, no real fitting.  The fabric is forgiving (at least the t-shirt type knits and stable jerseys I was using).  I never understood when I first started sewing why people would make t-shirts when they could buy them so cheaply, but now I get it.  Aside from the allure of making something unique, it’s a quick win that keeps you excited and the other projects moving forward.  That’s why my first three makes from the list were two t-shirts and a knit dress.

After all that wordy build-up, maybe you’d like to see my finished Coco dress!

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I won this pattern during Me Made May ’15 by entering a contest on the blog ‘So, Zo…What do you know?’  The prize was a pattern of your choice by Tilly and the Buttons, and a really cool tote bag with the words “DIY Dressmaker” on it.  I feel cool every time I carry it.  🙂

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I tried out the dress version because…well…because I bought some fabric I would never have bought if I’d had the patience to order a swatch, and I want to use it up while also testing out this pattern.  I thought I had a good idea of what “ponte” fabric was like, so when I saw this go on sale, I ordered it with visions of cool stretchy pants in my mind.  When I got it, it was…polyester-y.  I do not love “polyester-y”.  It was my fault, though.  The site made no misrepresentations as to what the fabric was.  That taught me to be more patient and order a swatch!

When I bought my cool, reversible striped fabric at Haberman Fabric last month, I thought the t-shirt version of this pattern might be a good match for it.  So, I made the dress version thinking I would get a feel for how the pattern fit in the bust and waist section, and I could use up this fabric on a ’60’s style dress that would be a good fit for the mod-looking fabric.

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This was a great pattern to work with.  It was easy to put together, and I really like the finished product.  I think the best compliment I got was when someone mistook it for a vintage dress, partly because of the fabric!  Really, though, that compliment belongs to Tilly.  This dress has such a great ’60’s look (well, my idea of the ’60’s anyway–feel free to correct me if you lived it).  It has the wide roll collar and cute cuffs as well as that A-line shift dress thing going on.  I also like where the shoulder seams hit my shoulders.  It’s the perfect spot for me.  It’s very comfortable to wear (partly due to the softness of the fabric, actually).  This pattern did make me realize that I like my A-line dresses and skirts a little longer, despite the fact that a pencil skirt feels comfortable to me at this length.  I think it’s because with an A-line, I can’t always feel the back of the dress or skirt against my legs, and it makes me worry that things are getting exposed back there!

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Here’s what happens when a bee decides he wants to hang out with you while you are shooting pictures.  Or this is how I think people danced in the ’60’s.  You pick.  😉

So, the Coco dress is a win.  Thanks, Tilly!  (Can I just say that she is really nice, too?  I wrote to thank her for the pattern and she wrote back and was so sweet.  You gained a fan, Tilly!)  Her site is great for beginner and more advanced sewists.  She has clear pictures and instructions, a book, etc., etc.  You should check it out if you haven’t already.  The Coco goes back into the pile to be made in other editions.  It’s definitely a contender for the reversible striped fabric I mentioned!

Lastly, a little technical note.  I’m going to start posting my pictures to Flickr instead of keeping them stored in my WordPress media library (I ran out of room and didn’t want to pay for more!).  If you find that a picture is not showing up, please leave me a comment and let me know (there should be seven pictures in this post).  This is new for me and I think I have it figured out, but we’ll see if I’m right or not.  Hopefully I’ve got it because figuring all this out is eating up my sewing time!!!

That’s all for now!  See you next week!

 

Me-Made-May ’15: The Last Three Days

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Well, I can’t believe it.  May is over and it’s time to wrap up Me-Made-May ’15 with pictures from the last three days.

The first of these is a Friday, which had the theme “Your Town”.  I picked something that represented this area rather than something specific to my town:  clamming and shellfish!  Shellfish are a big industry here and for the last few summers, I’ve taken out a recreational clamming license (see here and here), so I tried to take a few shots with some shellfish-related props.  My me-made clothing piece is this shirt (which you may remember from Day 16) made from a bedsheet and pajama pattern (M6848 by McCall’s).

MMM'15 Day 29 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 29: Pajama shirt as everyday shirt from a sheet and McCall’s 6848 #mmmay15

 

MMM'15 Day 29 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 29: Pajama shirt as everyday shirt from a sheet and McCall’s 6848 #mmmay15

Day 30 was two layered Alabama Chanin pieces.  The top layer was the Alabama Chanin corset from Alabama Stitch Book you saw on Day 25.  The layer beneath is the short fitted dress pattern from Alabama Studio Sewing + Design.  It’s a variation of the dress I wore on Day 28.  The dress alone wasn’t inspiring me that day, so I thought I would make it more interesting with some layering.  I love how they layer pieces in Alabama Studio Sewing + Design, so I decided to go for it, and I loved it!  I will say that this type of layered outfit is not your friend in the hottest, most humid weather, though.  With the camisole as the base piece, I was wearing three layers on top which got a little bit warm.

While I love these patterns, they are a bit low-cut for me, so I usually wear a camisole or tank top underneath with a higher neckline.  Luckily, if you sew up these patterns and feel as I do, you can now check out Alabama Chanin book number four, Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns, which takes you through how to alter patterns, including raising necklines.  (Each of the books I’ve just mentioned is written by Natalie Chanin.)

MMM'15 Day 30 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 30: Corset tank top from Alabama Stitch Book by Natalie Chanin, made from an oversized t-shirt and short fitted dress from Alabama Studio Sewing + Design by Natalie Chanin, made from a knit sheet #mmmay15

 

MMM'15 Day 30 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 30: Short fitted dress from Alabama Studio Sewing + Design by Natalie Chanin, made from a knit sheet #mmmay15

 

MMM'15 Day 30 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 30: Short fitted dress from Alabama Studio Sewing + Design by Natalie Chanin, made from a knit sheet (close-up) #mmmay15

And the final outfit for May?  This dress which I copied from a vintage dress.  I think the fabric is silk.  My husband’s parents were kind enough to give me my pick of his grandmother’s sewing supplies after she passed away, and this is one of the fabrics that she had in her stash.  It’s very light and comfortable.

MMM'15 Day 31 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 31: Silk dress copied from a vintage dress #mmmay15

 

MMM'15 Day 31 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 31: Silk dress copied from a vintage dress #mmmay15

 

MMM'15 Day 31 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 31: Silk dress copied from a vintage dress (close-up) #mmmay15

Final thoughts?  This was a great challenge both from a sewing and a fashion standpoint.  I had to really think about what I had made and how to wear it creatively.  I had more makes than I realized, and now I’m inspired to sew even more of my clothing.  It was extra mental work to figure out new outfits (I tend to repeat a lot more in my normal daily life), but I think that was good for this set time period.  It helped me to think of new ways to wear what I had, and seeing my outfits through the eyes and comments of others helped me to take a new look at them.

This challenge also made me practice thinking through how to take pictures.  Thanks go to my photographers,  my daughter and my husband.  They did a great job!

And thanks to YOU for tuning in throughout the month.  I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

Me-Made-May ’15: Week Four

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Welcome to Week Four of Me-Made-May ’15!  This was another good week with fewer repeats than I had expected.  Let’s get straight to the pictures!

Friday’s theme was “animals”.  I dug out this t-shirt that I self-drafted (with the help of Design-It-Yourself Clothes by Cal Patch).  I had planned to make some changes to it, but after putting it on, I decided it still worked.  Another point for immediate gratification!

MMM'15 Day 22 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 22: Self-drafted t-shirt #mmmay15

 

MMM'15 Day 22 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 22: Self-drafted t-shirt (close-up) #mmmay15

 

MMM'15 Day 22 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 22: Self-drafted t-shirt (detail) #mmmay15

You’ve seen this one before!  This was another wear of my pink Summer Blouse (but this time with new boots–major thrifting score!!).

MMM'15 Day 23 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 23: Summer Blouse from Weekend Sewing by Heather Ross, made from a vintage sheet #mmmay15

Note the lovely clip-on earrings scored at Brimfield.

MMM'15 Day 23 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 23: Summer Blouse from Weekend Sewing by Heather Ross, made from a vintage sheet (close-up) #mmmay15

Now for one that long-time readers will recognize.  This dress was in my first post for this blog.  It was a pairing of Alabama Chanin reverse applique and beading with a pattern from The Party Dress Book by Mary Adams.  It was beyond my skill level at the time, but it was so worth it, imperfections and all.

MMM'15 Day 24 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 24: Dress pattern from The Party Dress Book by Mary Adams with Alabama Chanin style reverse applique and beading, made from knit sheets #mmmay15

 

MMM'15 Day 24 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 24: Dress pattern from The Party Dress Book by Mary Adams with Alabama Chanin style reverse applique and beading, made from knit sheets #mmmay15

The bodice actually has three layers of fabric for the reverse applique.  I was hoping the extra layers would also provide stability to the top, which they do.  (Yea!)

MMM'15 Day 24 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 24: Dress pattern from The Party Dress Book by Mary Adams with Alabama Chanin style reverse applique and beading, made from knit sheets (detail) #mmmay15

My photographer (my daughter) told me we absolutely HAD to have a twirling shot.  This circle skirt is pretty awesome.

MMM'15 Day 24 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 24: Dress pattern from The Party Dress Book by Mary Adams with Alabama Chanin style reverse applique and beading, made from knit sheets #mmmay15

Next is this Alabama Chanin corset from Alabama Stitch Book by Natalie Chanin.  This is such a great tank.  It has fit me at various sizes and has such interesting lines.

MMM'15 Day 25 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 25: Corset tank top from Alabama Stitch Book by Natalie Chanin, made from an oversized t-shirt #mmmay15

MMM'15 Day 25 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 25: Corset tank top from Alabama Stitch Book by Natalie Chanin, made from an oversized t-shirt (close-up) #mmmay15

It’s also reversible!  I usually wear it like you see it above because I like to see the seam allowances, but you can also wear it as below for a more subtle effect.

Check out the starfish we found!  (Don’t worry, we put it back.)

MMM'15 Day 25 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 25: Corset tank top from Alabama Stitch Book by Natalie Chanin, made from an oversized t-shirt; reversible #mmmay15

These shorts are a free pattern from Anna Maria Horner.  I really needed some shorts a few summers ago, so I made these from some Amy Butler Nigella fabric that was a home décor cotton.  At that point, I just used pinking shears on all my seam allowances after sewing, so I always have little frays and strings hanging down inside, but the fact that I am starting to think about finishing my seams on a regular basis shows me how far I’ve come.  Maybe someday I’ll be a patient sewer…or maybe I’ll be so fast and AWESOME, I won’t have to be patient!  Even better.  😉

MMM'15 Day 26 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 26: Pleasant Pathways Shorts by Anna Maria Horner for Janome (free pattern) using Amy Butler Nigella home décor weight fabric #mmmay15

 

MMM'15 Day 26 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 26: Pleasant Pathways Shorts by Anna Maria Horner for Janome (free pattern) using Amy Butler Nigella home décor weight fabric (close-up) #mmmay15

You will probably not be surprised to see yet another Alabama Chanin make.  These are a summer staple for me.  This is the Fitted Top from Alabama Studio Sewing + Design by Natalie Chanin.

MMM'15 Day 27 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 27: Fitted Top from Alabama Studio Sewing + Design by Natalie Chanin, made from an oversized t-shirt #mmmay15

 

MMM'15 Day 27 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 27: Fitted Top from Alabama Studio Sewing + Design by Natalie Chanin, made from an oversized t-shirt (close-up) #mmmay15

It’s also reversible.

MMM'15 Day 27 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 27: Fitted Top from Alabama Studio Sewing + Design by Natalie Chanin, made from an oversized t-shirt; reversible #mmmay15

Try not to be shocked.  This one’s from Alabama Chanin, too.  This is the Long Fitted Dress from Alabama Studio Sewing + Design.  Maybe you can tell that the top in the above picture is really just the top part of this dress.  You might also recognize the fabric from Day 21.  I got a lot of mileage out of this sheet and the t-shirt I cut up for neck and armhole binding.

MMM'15 Day 28 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 28: Long Fitted Dress from Alabama Studio Sewing + Design by Natalie Chanin, made from a knit sheet and a t-shirt (trim) #mmmay15

The dress has a small train, which I love.  Yes, it means you have to hold your dress up a like a lady of the olden days, but that’s kind of fun.  I could have cut it off, but I kept it.  It makes me feel fancy.  😉

MMM'15 Day 28 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 28: Long Fitted Dress from Alabama Studio Sewing + Design by Natalie Chanin, made from a knit sheet and a t-shirt (trim) #mmmay15

I like to wear this one with the seam allowances showing, too, but you could easily turn them to the inside.

MMM'15 Day 28 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 28: Long Fitted Dress from Alabama Studio Sewing + Design by Natalie Chanin, made from a knit sheet and a t-shirt (trim) (details) #mmmay15

Most of these makes are from pre-blogging days, so it’s fun to get them out.

Next week’s Me-Made-May post will cover the last three days of May.  Three more to go!  I can’t believe it.  See you then, if not before!

Me-Made-May ’15: Week One

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I can’t believe Me-Made-May ’15 has only been going on for eight days!  It seems like a lot longer.  It’s hard to come up with something me-made to wear every day!  It’s also a fun challenge.  So, while I do have other things to show you, we’ll be doing a fair bit of week-in-review stuff this month, so you can see if I’m keeping up with the challenge.  So far I haven’t had to resort to counting the me-made leggings I’m wearing as pj’s as a day’s outfit, but I think that is probably coming.  That’s my fallback.  😉  Here’s week one:

Me-Made-May '15 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 1: Alabama Chanin style shirt #mmmay15

Me-Made-May '15 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 1: Alabama Chanin style shirt close-up #mmmay15

Me-Made-May '15 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 2: raglan t-shirt #mmmay15

Me-Made-May '15 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 2: raglan shirt close-up #mmmay15

Me-Made-May '15 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 3: kimono sleeve dress #mmmay15

Me-Made-May '15 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 3: kimono sleeve dress close-up #mmmay15

Me-Made-May '15 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 4: pink t-shirt and altered jean shorts #mmmay15

Me-Made-May '15 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 4: altered jean shorts close-up #mmmay15

 

Me-Made-May '15 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 5: Summer Blouse #mmmay15

Me-Made-May '15 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 5: Summer Blouse Close-Up #mmmay15

 

Me-Made-May '15 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 6: exercise shirt #mmmay15

 

Me-Made-May '15 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 7: Ankara/wax print shorts #mmmay15

Me-Made-May '15 (Pattern and Branch) #mmmay15

Day 7: Ankara/wax print shorts Close-Up #mmmay15

Wow!  I feel like I’m writing a post that says, “HEY, EVERYBODY!  LOOK AT ME!!!!”  I guess I kind of am…  So, after you LOOK AT ME!!! and my outfits, look around me!  We have flowers!  We have leaves!  We have grass!  Spring is finally here and we even had some warmer weather which is awesome because it’s warmer weather and because it means I got to add a little more variety to the clothing I could wear that I had made.  There’s no way I’m making it through this month without repeats, but it’s a great exercise in creativity and it makes me want to sew even more, and that’s a good thing.

Pattern Review: New Look S0595

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In my quest for a real winter wardrobe (as opposed to wearing fall clothes that aren’t really warm enough and just trying to layer them), I made a winter dress with more of the Polartec 200 that I used in my Alabama Chanin Long Skirt.  The fabric is from millyardage.com, and it has a sweater look on the outside, but is fleecy on the inside.  It’s also really thick and lofty feeling and is nice and wide.  My husband was wonderful (as always) and bought me six yards, so I have a lot of it.  I was inspired by some of the loungewear-type dresses I’ve seen in places like the sundance catalogue and the clothing section of Victoria’s Secret (I couldn’t find the image on their site, so here is a link to it on PopSugar).

As I was wandering around Joann Fabric one day, I found this pattern, New Look S0595 (which is listed on the Simplicity website as Simplicity or New Look 6298) , and it looked like just what I was going for.

Pattern Review:  New Look S0595

Pattern Review:  New Look S0595

I’ve also been in search of the perfect raglan t-shirt pattern, so I thought that if I liked this pattern, I could also turn it into a t-shirt or tunic.  The pattern is made for knits, so it seemed like it would have a lot of possibilities.

There were no reviews on the Pattern Review website, which is my gold standard for finding out about patterns before trying them.  Fortunately, thanks to the reviews of this pattern on the Ordinary Time blog (here and here), I went with the smaller of the two sizes I was contemplating (I would fit the 14 in the bust and the 16 in the waist and hips, so I went with the 14.).  She notes that the pattern has a lot of ease, so when in doubt, choose the smaller size.  I wonder if I could have gone down another size, but I wanted some ease, so I think the size I chose was ok.  I made View D, but with long sleeves instead of three-quarter length sleeves.  (Warmth!)

The pattern came together really quickly.  It definitely helped that I used a jersey needle and a walking foot.  I’m a slow sewer, but I cut it out one day and sewed it the next.  I love that there is no need to finish any inside seams since the fabric won’t fray.  That definitely saves time.

I had hoped there might be a little more shaping around the waist area, but there isn’t, so it looks a little…sack-like.  That’s not necessarily bad, if that’s what you are going for.  As my husband and friends pointed out, my sundance inspiration picture is also a straight silhouette, but the way that the model is standing keeps you from noticing it quite as much (and it’s probably all pinned in back to give it more shape).  See what you think:

Pattern Review:  New Look S0595

(Standing sideways kind of minimizes the sack thing.)  Here are front and back views:

Pattern Review:  New Look S0595

Pattern Review:  New Look S0595

Now some cool styling. 😉  I was pretty proud of it, but my men’s jacket does make me look a little pregnant (which I’m not).  Hm….

Oh, well.  I’m still going to wear it.

Pattern Review:  New Look S0595

 

So, would I sew it again? Would I recommend it to others?

I might sew it again.  It does sort of fit in with the idea of wearing blankets shaped into normal clothing.  It definitely fits the goals of warmth and comfort.  As far as flattering my form, I don’t think it does that, but it’s so comfy, I wear it anyway.  I got lots of compliments because it looks so warm and cozy (which it is; this fabric is great), but I wish it had just a little more shaping near the waist.  What do you think?  Is it worth trying to take it in a little on the sides or in that back seam?  Would it work or would it just skew things?  Maybe that’s something worth trying if I make it into a t-shirt.  Now, though, I’m anxious to get on to other things.  I still have a bunch of the Polartec fabric, so I cut out a cardigan, and I have a few other projects in mind, too.  Gotta keep things moving!

You can read my review of this pattern here on Pattern Review.

Happy Birthday, Pattern and Branch!

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Today is the first birthday of the Pattern and Branch blog!  I can’t believe it’s been a year of blogging already!  Here’s a look back at the very first post.

 

Pattern and Branch turns one year old

Anyone remember this dress?

This was the first project I posted:  a Mary Adams/Alabama Chanin style party dress made from thrifted sheets.  What a fun project and what a fun year it’s been.  Thanks to everyone who has been a reader from the beginning and who has joined us along the way.  I look forward to starting another year with you of creating and discovering new, fun, and funny things.  Cheers!