Tag Archives: Fabric Mart

Jalie Yoko/Émilie Square Roll-Neck Tops

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Jalie Yoko/Émilie Square Roll-Neck Tops

Time to post my last few winter sewing projects! Today I want to talk about the Émilie (formerly Yoko) Square Roll-Neck Top from Jalie in a wool/Lycra jersey (plus a kid-sized top in cotton/Lycra!).

Jalie Yoko/Émilie Square Roll-Neck Tops

This is a free pattern for women and girls that comes with 28 sizes–pretty impressive! That is typical of Jalie’s patterns, making them a great value for money. I haven’t worn turtlenecks/roll-neck shirts in a few years, so I thought I would use this pattern to do a little scrap-busting and try the style out.

Like my last two sweaters (Engle and Wool & Honey), this pattern has a boxy/square body and fitted sleeves. Unlike those sweaters, however, this pattern has a drop-sleeve. I guess this is the year of that fun but odd silhouette for me! It’s not my favorite silhouette, but it’s interesting and comfortable. I used a green wool/Lycra jersey that I got from Fabric Mart Fabrics a number of years ago for my top and some navy and flower print cotton/Lycra jersey for a kid-sized top. I can’t remember where I got the navy, but the flower knit is an old Cotton + Steel fabric that I got from Pintuck & Purl some time ago.

Jalie Yoko/Émilie Square Roll-Neck Tops

For my top, my measurements put me in size Z for the bust and BB for the waist and hip. Because this is a boxy style, I opted to make a straight size Z. For the kid shirt, I made a straight size N. I used my serger for the main seams and my sewing machine for the hems.

Jalie Yoko/Émilie Square Roll-Neck Tops
Jalie Yoko/Émilie Square Roll-Neck Tops

The tops were pretty easy to sew. There weren’t any points where the instructions were unclear or where things got tricky, making this a nice, quick project.

Jalie Yoko/Émilie Square Roll-Neck Tops

Jalie’s instructions come in French and English and are not extensive, but are clear. This free and simple pattern would be a great way to get a feel for the company if you are interested in trying their patterns. While I haven’t tried many of their patterns, I know I can turn to them when I want a reasonable cost for a LOT of sizes and professional results, especially if I want to make activewear.

Let’s get back to the tops! The hems came out much better in the cotton/Lycra than in my thin wool/Lycra jersey where I ended up with some tunneling and scrunching.

Jalie Yoko/Émilie Square Roll-Neck Tops
Jalie Yoko/Émilie Square Roll-Neck Tops

Still, you only really see that up close, and it doesn’t affect the fit at all. The neck is a double layer of fabric, which both looks and feels good.

Jalie Yoko/Émilie Square Roll-Neck Tops

These tops turned out to be nice and comfy, and while I’m sort of over the whole extreme dropped sleeve look, I’m happy I made them and tried this pattern out.

Jalie Yoko/Émilie Square Roll-Neck Tops

I like how they look in the cotton better than in the wool, as this thin jersey, while comfortable, attracts lots of fuzzies, and is slightly on the pukey side of spring green. Still, it’s a great layering piece that will work in any sort of cool weather, and I do love having a few wool jersey tops in my wardrobe. I’ve made one other shirt in this fabric, which you can see here.

Jalie Yoko/Émilie Square Roll-Neck Tops
Look! It’s blue sky! (The photo shoots get silly more often than not.)

If I were to make this again, I would consider cotton/Lycra or a slightly heavier weight wool/Lycra . That’s not a “rule” of any sort, just my feelings after making this in these two different substrates.

Jalie Yoko/Émilie Square Roll-Neck Tops

Interestingly enough, Tessuti has a very similar free pattern, the Monroe Turtleneck, which you could also try if you are thinking of making a top like this, although it doesn’t have the extensive size range Jalie does. It would be fun to make both and compare them. If this is a style you are into, this is a great pattern. I like it, but don’t absolutely love it, although I do really like Jalie as a pattern company, and hope to make many more of their patterns in the future.

Fibre Mood Victoria Blouse in Cotton Swiss Dot Voile

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Fibre Mood Victoria Blouse in Cotton Swiss Dot Voile

These days, I wear a lot of stretchy pants and t-shirts, which, honestly, I love, but I still like to make the occasional non-stretchy garment, too. 😉 The latest project I have to share with you is in that non-stretchy category and is a new style for me, which is fun! It’s the Victoria Blouse from Fibre Mood.

Fibre Mood Victoria Blouse in Cotton Swiss Dot Voile

This pattern has a ruffled collar, triangular front yoke with gathers falling from it, and slightly puffed sleeves.

Fibre Mood Victoria Blouse in Cotton Swiss Dot Voile

This isn’t a style that I have really worn before, but I love the romantic blouses we have been seeing in fashion and, consequently, in sewing patterns. They are so much fun to wear. When I finished this and put it on for the first time, it took me right back to the ’80’s, which was the last time styles like this were a thing. While I never would have worn this in the ’80’s, I really like it now!

Fibre Mood Victoria Blouse in Cotton Swiss Dot Voile
Fibre Mood Victoria Blouse in Cotton Swiss Dot Voile
Fibre Mood Victoria Blouse in Cotton Swiss Dot Voile

Fibre Mood has offered various PDF patterns for free throughout the pandemic (so generous!) to help people keep sewing, as it’s a positive, stress-relieving activity for so many. I downloaded this several months ago when it was free and made it in the fall. After looking through my stash, I decided that the Victoria Blouse would be perfect in this cotton “Swiss Dot Voile” fabric from Fabric Mart (long since sold out). The fabric itself is really cool and can be used with either side as the right side. One side has little oblong embroidered shapes, and the other has fuzzy dots, typical of a swiss or clip dot fabric. I love this kind of fabric.

Fibre Mood Victoria Blouse in Cotton Swiss Dot Voile

After printing and assembling this pattern, I had to add seam allowance, which is not my favorite thing. I think you have the option to print with or without seam allowance on Fibre Mood patterns at this point, although I could be wrong. The seam allowances they recommended on this pattern were different at different points. This is both good and bad–good because it eliminates waste from large seam allowances that you have to trim, and bad because you have to keep track of which piece has what seam allowance. To keep track, I wrote myself notes along the way. I figured it was good for me to try something different, even if I wasn’t sure that I would like it, because maybe I would come to like it or discover something new by trying it.

The directions instruct you to finish a lot of the seams with a serger. I have a serger now, but I don’t love how the finish looks, and while I want to use it when appropriate, I don’t want to serge all my seam allowances when there are often better quality choices out there. However, for this pattern, I decided to stick to my plan of following the directions, at least the first time through.

Fibre Mood Victoria Blouse in Cotton Swiss Dot Voile
Fibre Mood Victoria Blouse in Cotton Swiss Dot Voile

Before beginning, I did a major broad back adjustment (which is typical for me). I cut a 48 bust and graded out to a 50 hip. Overall, I liked sewing this pattern. The instructions were well laid out. I followed them pretty faithfully, except that I put my sleeves in flat rather than setting them in. One thing I liked is how they put the collar and cuffs on, which involves topstitching from the outside rather than trying to stitch in the ditch so that there is no visible stitching on the outside. I find it hard to do that well while catching the fabric underneath, so I like the method that Fibre Mood chose. I think it’s easier and looks nice.

Fibre Mood Victoria Blouse in Cotton Swiss Dot Voile
Fibre Mood Victoria Blouse in Cotton Swiss Dot Voile

The back neck slit is only turned once and stitched, so I added another line of stitching to (hopefully) keep it from fraying too far, but there could definitely be a better finish there.

Fibre Mood Victoria Blouse in Cotton Swiss Dot Voile

Overall, I am really happy with the finished blouse. In fact, I love it, especially tucked in. I found it to be comfortable overall with enough neck and wrist room. The sleeves are puffy, but not so large that they get in the way.

Fibre Mood Victoria Blouse in Cotton Swiss Dot Voile
Fibre Mood Victoria Blouse in Cotton Swiss Dot Voile

Some possible changes I would consider making next time:

*raise the armhole to allow for better/more arm movement

*take a small horizontal wedge out of the back just below the collar to get the back neck slit to sit more smoothly against the body

*consider if a different neck closure would work better–maybe buttons with elastic loops? I find that the hooks and eyes sometimes unhook as I wear the shirt.

Fibre Mood Victoria Blouse in Cotton Swiss Dot Voile

*consider lengthening the shirt if I know I will always wear it tucked in. It is the perfect length for me to wear without tucking it in, but it tends to come untucked in the back when I try to wear it tucked in.

Fibre Mood Victoria Blouse in Cotton Swiss Dot Voile
“Look! The sun is out!” Sometimes we try to get creative when taking pictures…with mixed results. Haha!
Fibre Mood Victoria Blouse in Cotton Swiss Dot Voile
Fibre Mood Victoria Blouse in Cotton Swiss Dot Voile

These are all small and optional suggestions because, overall, I love this shirt. I feel good when I wear it, and I would make another. For now, I think I will put it away in order to have a nice surprise for spring.

Fibre Mood Victoria Blouse in Cotton Swiss Dot Voile

My True Bias Roscoe Blouse in Sweet, Sweet Linen

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My True Bias Roscoe Blouse in Sweet, Sweet Linen

Hi, sewing friends. Today’s project is a simple top with a lot of potential depending on what view you make or what fabric you make it in.

My Roscoe Blouse in some sweet, sweet linen

It’s the Roscoe Blouse from True Bias, a pattern that has proven very popular in the sewing community. It also has mini dress/tunic and dress views built in.

My Roscoe Blouse in some sweet, sweet linen
My Roscoe Blouse in some sweet, sweet linen

I held out for a long time before buying this pattern as I already have a pattern in the same style, but with a different fit (New Look 6472, blogged here). Finally, during a sale at Pintuck & Purl, I saw shopowner Maggie’s silk version, and I went for it and got the pattern for myself.

It’s no secret that I love positive ease, and this pattern has lots of it. The really lovely consequences of that design choice are that it is easy to fit and looks great in a number of drapey fabric substrates. For my first version, I chose to use some midweight “designer quality” linen from Fabric Mart Fabrics that I had originally planned to make into a skirt. I really love this fabric, and it is one that they regularly carry (although the color I used is currently unavailable), so this is now my second sewing project using it. (My first project was a dress, McCall’s 7774, blogged here.) It is easy to sew, substantial without being heavy, and AMAZING to wear. An added bonus is that the only supplies required are fabric and thread–no interfacing, snaps, buttons, or elastic.

My Roscoe Blouse in some sweet, sweet linen

I made view A, the blouse, in a size 16, even though my hip measurement was a 16/18. I didn’t have to do a broad back adjustment or anything. Yay!!!

My Roscoe Blouse in some sweet, sweet linen
My Roscoe Blouse in some sweet, sweet linen
My Roscoe Blouse in some sweet, sweet linen

It’s so rare that I can just trace a single size and cut it out.

The instructions were clear and easy to read. I chose to finish my edges with French seams, which are so satisfying and beautiful.

My Roscoe Blouse in some sweet, sweet linen

I accidentally put my neckline binding on the wrong way, and ended up topstitching it down on the outside instead of the less visible recommended finish, but I really liked it that way, so I decided to do the same thing on my sleeve bindings.

My Roscoe Blouse in some sweet, sweet linen

It was love at first try-on, although I did put a few stitches in near the bottom of the neckline slit to raise it just a little higher for my own comfort and modesty. I found I liked that better than wearing a camisole underneath.

My Roscoe Blouse in some sweet, sweet linen
My Roscoe Blouse in some sweet, sweet linen
Neckline detail view from inside

Fewer layers also preserved the glorious breeziness of this top, which I first wore on a warm and sunny fall day. I love the look of this best tucked in, and for that I would maybe consider making the shirt even longer to keep it tucked in better, but only maybe, as it’s fairly long already. It’s also very comfortable to wear untucked.

My Roscoe Blouse in some sweet, sweet linen
My Roscoe Blouse in some sweet, sweet linen
My Roscoe Blouse in some sweet, sweet linen
My Roscoe Blouse in some sweet, sweet linen

I can see what the hype is all about with this pattern. It’s a joy to make and to wear.

My Roscoe Blouse in some sweet, sweet linen

The Roscoe is a warm-weather dream in linen with its loose fit and roomy, slightly shortened sleeves, and I suspect that it would also be pretty nice in cooler temperatures with lengthened sleeves in a cozy cotton flannel, although that wouldn’t have the drape of a linen or a rayon. Hm… Maybe some of the drapier wool fabrics? I’d love to try the tunic and dress views as well. All in all, I’m really happy I tried this pattern, and it would be a pleasure to make more versions of it in the future.

My Roscoe Blouse in some sweet, sweet linen

So Many Possibilities: The Women’s Mairin Swimsuit by Sew a Little Seam

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So Many Possibilities:  The Women’s Mairin Swimsuit by Sew a Little Seam

Fall is the perfect time to talk about sewing swimwear, right? Well, I suppose if you are in the Southern Hemisphere, this is for you. For all of us in the Northern Hemisphere, maybe it’s just planning ahead?

I didn’t sew much this summer because it felt like I was wasting the day if I didn’t get outside. My family and I did a lot of exploring, and even found ourselves a new favorite ocean swimming spot–which brought home to me just how much I needed a new bathing suit. My beloved tankini, made several years ago now, was really showing its age. I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted–either another tankini or a bikini + rash guard combination. Then I found the Women’s Mairin Swimsuit by Sew a Little Seam, and it had SO MANY POSSIBILITIES! Check out these line drawings!

Women's Mairin Swimsuit by Sew a Little Seam
Women's Mairin Swimsuit by Sew a Little Seam

This company is new to me. It looks like a lot of their patterns are for kids, but they have some adult patterns as well. Even though PDF patterns are not my preference, the huge number of options in the Women’s Mairin Swimsuit pattern convinced me. I had to give it a try.

I had a million ideas that I initially considered, many influenced by my swimwear Pinterest board. I filled up an online cart with swimwear fabric, and then my husband told me to add even more that I had been waffling on. I have never ordered so much swimwear at once in my life. The plan was to order a little bit of a few prints/colors, but the striped fabric I really wanted had a 5-yard minimum, and thanks to my husband, I got it. That one, in particular, will go with everything.

Women's Mairin Swimsuit by Sew a Little Seam
This pile of swimwear fabric represents a year or two of collecting. They came from (top to bottom): Fashion Fabrics Club, Spandex by Yard, Fabric Mart, Fabric Mart, and Spandex by Yard.
Women's Mairin Swimsuit by Sew a Little Seam
I also got this from Spandex by Yard. It exactly matches the fabric used in some of the inspiration pictures on my Pinterest board. Hopefully I will use it next year.

I also ordered swimwear elastic.

Pattern Choices and Materials:

  • Top: narrow strap tankini top with mid scoop neckline and halter mid back
  • Bottoms: mid cut leg low waist bikini bottoms AND mid cut leg high waist bikini bottoms
  • Outer fabric: Seafoam Nylon/Lycra Swimwear/Activewear Knit by Milly and Bright Pear Polyester/Lycra Swimwear/Activewear Knit by Milly, both from Fabric Mart and now sold out, and striped poly/spandex fabric from spandexbyyard.com; I really like the feel and weight of each of these fabrics
  • Lining fabric: polyester swimwear lining fabric from spandexbyyard.com; this has a more cotton-y feel than linings I have used in the past (which were more slippery), but so far, so good!
  • Elastic: 1/4″ natural swimwear elastic and 1/2″ White Polyester Latex Free Elastic which can stand up to saltwater and chlorine just like swimwear elastic; both were from Sew Sassy Fabrics
  • Swim cups: made of poly laminate foam from Sew Sassy Fabrics
  • Size: My measurements were a little bit scattered through several sizes, but size 20 was the most common, so I chose that
  • Stitch info: I used polyester thread for my top thread and woolly nylon in my bobbin; 75/11 stretch needle; average presser foot pressure (3 on my machine); my stitch choice was a 3-step zig zag with a height of 5 and stitch length of 0.5

Upon looking through the directions for this pattern, I have to say–I was impressed. This pattern is a TOME. It’s huge. There are so many options and possible variations, that it must have been a lot of work to put it all together. I felt like I had gotten a pretty good deal for the price. I had my doubts about the ability of elastic straps that were only 1/4″ wide to provide bust support, but I decided to give it a try and trust the pattern.

To begin, I converted all my half-width pattern pieces into full-size pattern pieces so that I could easily cut everything on a single layer of fabric.

The various sections of the pattern instructions are well labeled, allowing you to print out only what you need. I liked the photos that went with the instructions as well as the various charts to help you figure out measurements and strap length. I found that the listed strap lengths worked well for me. However, I was a little confused on the strap/tie measurements chart because there was no area labeled halter/open back like in the line drawings. I think that the “Wide Low Back” down through the “Open Back No Tie” sections are meant to correlate with that.

Women's Mairin Swimsuit by Sew a Little Seam

I liked that there were instructions for sewing cups into your lining, and I thought the lining looked nice overall once it was in.

Women's Mairin Swimsuit by Sew a Little Seam
Women's Mairin Swimsuit by Sew a Little Seam

One thing I would change, however, is this: the shelf bra will have exposed elastic. My elastic was not particularly soft, so I ended up making a casing for it.

Women's Mairin Swimsuit by Sew a Little Seam

Next time, I wouldn’t trim the bikini pattern piece by 1/2″ as instructed to create the shelf bra pattern piece. I would leave the extra length as in the bikini top pattern piece and fold my extra fabric over my elastic to cover it. The elastic shown in the picture in the instructions looks much softer than what I was using. (It looks like plush bra strapping, actually.) If you have softer elastic, it wouldn’t be such a big deal to have it exposed.

Straps were nice and easy to make. I loved having the striped fabric for my straps.

Women's Mairin Swimsuit by Sew a Little Seam

Once my top was finished, I tried it on, but found that, as I feared, 1/4″ elastic straps were not supportive enough for me. I quickly made myself a pair of 1/2″ straps and sewed them on as well, creating a fun strappy look on the shoulders and back.

Women's Mairin Swimsuit by Sew a Little Seam
Women's Mairin Swimsuit by Sew a Little Seam
I thought it best to add some extra reinforcement in the form of a satin stitch where I attached the straps in front.
Women's Mairin Swimsuit by Sew a Little Seam

Next I made the low rise, mid leg bikini bottoms.

Women's Mairin Swimsuit by Sew a Little Seam
Women's Mairin Swimsuit by Sew a Little Seam

They came together quickly, but when I tried everything on, I found that the front of the tankini was slightly shorter than the back on me and paired with the low rise bottoms, showed a bit of my stomach in a way I didn’t want it to.

Women's Mairin Swimsuit by Sew a Little Seam

I also found that the leg holes were somewhat loose in the back around the rear, although they provided excellent coverage and I liked the leg height I had chosen.

Women's Mairin Swimsuit by Sew a Little Seam
Women's Mairin Swimsuit by Sew a Little Seam

I liked the bottoms overall, but I wanted full stomach coverage from the suit as a whole, and I wanted to wear it to the beach the next day.

I’m not a good (or fast) panic sewer, but I was determined. The next morning, I quickly cut a set of high rise, mid leg bottoms. I asked my family not to talk to me for a little bit, and I set about to sew these up in an hour. I stretched the leg elastic tighter this time around. And I finished in time!!!

Women's Mairin Swimsuit by Sew a Little Seam
Women's Mairin Swimsuit by Sew a Little Seam
Women's Mairin Swimsuit by Sew a Little Seam
Women's Mairin Swimsuit by Sew a Little Seam

These bottoms were the perfect height with the top, although the leg holes were still a bit loose in back. But it didn’t matter in that moment! I threw on my new suit, and headed to the beach! And I felt awesome!

Women's Mairin Swimsuit by Sew a Little Seam

Final Thoughts

Pros: My takeaways from making this pattern are, in general, that it’s a cool pattern with a lot of possibilities. I’m excited to try more of the variations in the future. In fact, I think that if you paired this pattern with the Vero Beach Set from Hey June Handmade, you would have your perfect beachwear patterns for the summer.

Cons: Some things to change about this pattern are, first and foremost, the elastic. Quarter inch and 1/2″ elastic are just not substantial enough for great support. I would go up to 3/8″ and 3/4″ in the future. It would also be a good idea for me, personally, to lengthen the front of the tankini if I make it again and tighten the leg elastic further.

In an ideal world where I realize all of my sewing ideas, I would make a few mix and match tankinis and then make several bikini tops and rash guards that would coordinate with the bottoms I had already made. Then I would make several of the Vero Beach shorts from board short material as well as a top or two from the Vero Beach set, and I would be ready for any outdoor adventure where I might decide partway through that I needed to go for a swim. 🙂

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!

Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

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Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

It’s finally time to post this project.  Here is the big takeaway for me:  I love this bag.  I did not love making this bag.

I made the Portside Duffle from Grainline Studio to take on a weekend retreat, and it was perfect for that.  I finished with time to spare, and it was so much fun to have handmade luggage to take along with me.  I really love how it turned out. (I also learned that both “duffle” and “duffel” are correct ways to spell this word, so I’ll go with “duffle” for this post.)

Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

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Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

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Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

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Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

I was inspired in my color choices by this excellent bag on the Skirt As Top blog.  Mine is a little different, but the influence is pretty clear.  Her version is great!

The process of making it presented a number of challenges, however.

Materials

The first challenge for me was my inexperience with bag-making.  I decided to only make the duffle, as I was under a deadline, but because I’ve made so few bags, I was really stuck on how to choose things like interfacing and my zipper.  You know how it is when you are just starting out–you really need things spelled out.  I know how to shorten a zipper on a pair of pants or a skirt, but what if you can’t find the exact zipper length for a bag?  And do you need a separating or non-separating zipper?  Does it even matter?

As it turned out, the length specified (21 inches) is very hard to find.  What I did find out is that when you run into this situation, you can buy a longer zipper and shorten it, and a separating zipper is just fine (I’m pretty sure you can use separating or non-separating).  This may seem obvious, but it was something I didn’t know and had to learn.  Luckily I had a longer zipper in my stash, so I was able to use that.

Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

The other area that confused me was the interfacing.  I looked around online for ideas, but it was all so overwhelming!  I had no idea there were so many kinds of interfacing (and stabilizer!) or so many things you could do with the interfacing.  You can even combine interfacings!  Here is what I ended up using:  for the bottom, I bought 2/3 of a yard of 20″ wide Pellon Peltex 71F Single-Sided Fusible Ultra Firm Stabilizer.  (The bottom pattern piece of this bag is 21 5/8″ x 12 3/8″.) For the sides/top of the bag I used Pellon 809 Decor Bond (Firm Iron-on Backing with Extra Crispness).  My bottom fabric (the gold) was heavier than my top fabric (the off-white), so I used one layer of interfacing on both, but also added a layer of quilting-weight fabric to the top portion, like the way you might underline a garment.  I did not interface the striped pocket on the outside or my lining fabric.  I bought all my interfacing and stabilizer at JoAnn Fabrics.

Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

In case you also struggle with the interfacing/stabilizer question, I found some helpful information in this article on sew4home.com:  “Top Interfacing Solutions For Bags and Totes:  Fabric Depot“, as well as this one from Sew Sweetness: “All About Bag Interfacing“.  Sew Sweetness had a lot of good information for bag-makers of all experience levels.

Cost-Saving Strategies

The other area that I struggled with was the overall cost of this project.  I tend to have a pretty limited budget, so cost is always a factor.  When I started to realize how much the pattern, fabric, and hardware could cost, I decided to get creative and see where I could save money.  Here is what I did.

I decided to make my own straps all with a width of 1.5″, rather than some at 1.25″ and some at 1.5″.  This would also allow me to use the 1.5″ D-rings I had in my stash rather than buying 1.25″ D-rings which I didn’t have (and which were harder to find).  There were two books that I found really helpful as I dug into the details of this project.  The first was On-the-Go-Bags by Lindsay Conner and Janelle MacKay, which helped me see that I actually could make my own straps (something I didn’t know as a newbie to bag-making).  The other book, which was the most helpful, was The Better Bag Maker by Nicole Mallalieu, which was filled with all sorts of helpful information.  If you sewed through this book, you would come out the other side with a lot of bag-making knowledge and skills.

I also realized that since I had so many D-rings (I have no idea why I have so many!), I could use those instead of the swivel bolt snaps/hooks the pattern called for, and join them with a carabiner since we had a few little carabiners in the house.  I didn’t end up making the leather zipper pulls.  I was kind of hoping I would find something in the jewelry section of the craft store to go with my lining, but I didn’t find anything I liked, so I skipped it.

The next thing to consider was fabric.  In case you are wondering, Fabric A on the pattern is your lower fabric and Fabric B is your upper fabric.

Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

The off-white and striped fabrics came from my stash, and I ordered the gold bottom fabric from Fabric Mart when it was on sale (love that store!).  I think that 2/3 of a yard of 54″ or 57″ fabric for the bottom (Fabric A) would have been enough, although if you use a print, you may want more so that you can position it just how you want it.  The pattern calls for 1.25 yards of 54″ wide fabric.  This amount of fabric turned out to be helpful in making my straps, so I’m glad I had extra for that (I probably ordered 1.5 yards).

I also used a quilting cotton from my stash (with octopi!) for the lining, which saved me money.  I had been looking for just the right thing to use this fabric on and now I have both octopus pants and a bag with a surprise lining!  (This fabric, by Cotton + Steel, and my pattern came from Pintuck & Purl.)

Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

Construction

I’m going to share some technical details in this section, so feel free to skip it if that isn’t helpful to you.

***One important note:  I think there may be an error on pattern piece #4 (the side, bottom piece).  I would think that where it says “strap placement”, it would line up with the strap on the piece above it, but as printed, it looks like that text is on the bottom of the piece…where no strap is supposed to go.  I decided to ignore the strap placement marking and assumed that was the bottom of the piece (so that the words are right side up as printed).

Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

Also, you can skip the part in the directions about choosing your size.  This duffle only comes in one size.

In Steps 6 and 8, I used Steam-A-Seam 2, 1/4″ (double stick fusible tape) to hold things in place before sewing them down.  This wasn’t perfect because the bond was pretty light, but it was still helpful.

In Step 11, I used a zipper foot to sew the zipper in.

For Step 12, I found this blog post from Handmade By Carolyn very helpful.  She suggests leaving the last half-inch at the bottom of your sides and end panels unsewn to help with attaching the bottoms.  Press your seams toward the end panels after sewing.

In Step 13, sew the long sides first and then the short sides.

Before beginning Step 14, I think you should flip the bag so right sides are out (at least that is what I did).  The tip in the instructions about using your machine’s free arm is helpful here.  Even with that, though, this step is hard if you have heavy interfacing in the bag!  What worked for me was to sew a side, backstitch, cut the threads, and then move on to the next side.

For Step 16, as in Step 12, do not sew the bottom 1/2″ of each seam so it will be easier to attach to the bottom in the next step.

I did not do Step 18 as written.  Instead, I used Steam-A-Seam 2, 1/4″ to baste the lining to the zipper and used Wonder Clips to help hold it because the Steam-A-Seam isn’t very strong (something different would have been better, I think).  Then I basted outer fabric, zipper, and lining togewith my machine, with the lining up.  I just sort of tacked the ends because my machine didn’t love sewing over the zipper.  Then I sewed the long sides with a zipper foot and the bag’s outside facing up (in other words, I topstitched).  I tried to sew over the zipper ends, which was somewhat successful, so I also hand-tacked the lining to the zipper tape by the zipper ends.  Use a thimble for this!

In Step 19, I wasn’t able to fold the raw edges under, since the straps I had made were so thick.  I used Fray Check on both ends and then zigzagged over them before stitching them down as in the directions.  It’s not as professional as I would like, but it should work.

Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

In Step 20, I think it should say “tops of the rings” rather than “top of the top ring” in the second sentence.

Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

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Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

At this point, I used more D-rings rather than swivel clips.  I attached the D-rings to each other with mini carabiners.

Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

After Step 20, I tried to tack the lining to the bag by sewing two parallel lines across the width of the bag on the bottom and by sewing for an inch or two on top of one of my stitching lines on each strap.  The lining doesn’t look smooth inside, but at least it won’t billow out now.

Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

I didn’t do Step 21, even though I think the leather zipper pulls are a nice touch.

Random Issue

One thing that happened that was unrelated to the pattern was that when I used my yellow Chaco Liner on the off-white part of my bag, it didn’t wash off afterward (I ran it through the washer and dryer).  I saw this once before when I was at a jeans workshop and someone used yellow Chaco Liner on white denim, and it also didn’t brush off.  Normally I don’t have any problems with the yellow, and it doesn’t bother me too much in this case, but it’s something to be aware of.  (You can faintly see it in the picture below.  It’s faint, but it’s there.)

Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

So, there you go!  I hope this is helpful to someone out there.  I know I spent a lot of time hunting down blog posts about this pattern and searching the web for information and materials.  Hopefully this will save someone some time should you decide to go for it and make this bag.

Grainline Studio Portside Duffle

Recommendations

This week’s recommendations are all bag-related!

Do you have any favorite bag patterns?  I still enjoy sewing clothing the most, but I’m opening up to the idea of sewing a bag here and there.

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

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

I have a new favorite t-shirt pattern, and guess what?  It’s a FREE pattern!  Yay!  A friend of mine kept telling me she loved the Deer & Doe Plantain T-Shirt, but it took me so long to try it.  Now that I have, though, I see what she was talking about.

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

This T has a scoop neck and is fitted in the shoulders, but tapers out at the waist and hip for a body-skimming fit in those areas.  It comes with a few variations in sleeve length and optional elbow patches.  I made two of these shirts and I’m excited to make more in the future.

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

While PDF isn’t my favorite format, for a free pattern, I’m happy to make an exception.  I stalled on this a bit because the few Deer & Doe patterns I’ve tried in woven fabrics cut into the front of my shoulders, something I haven’t resolved.  I thought a shirt in a knit might be fine, but I just wasn’t sure.  Well, I didn’t have to worry, because these turned out great.  Even if whatever fitting issue I have with Deer & Doe is still present, the knit makes them really comfortable, which makes me really happy.

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

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

So, here are the details on the pattern and materials.

Fabric

While I often love natural materials, I got sucked in by this cute cactus print and ordered some double brushed polyester knit from Cali Fabrics.  (The black cactus print is currently sold out, but there is still a blue colorway.)  I wasn’t sure if I would like it, but…I love it.  It’s really soft, and I just love those cacti!  I thought it would attract a lot of hair and fuzz, but it really doesn’t.  I’m glad I tried it.

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

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

The other fabric I used was a merino jersey I found on sale at Fabric Mart (long since sold out).  I hesitated the first time they had merino jersey, and I missed out, so when this appeared, I snapped it up.  Merino was on my list of fabrics to try.  I also used the scraps of light blue washable wool jersey from Fabrications I had left over from my Strathcona Henley.  I was surprised to find that I liked the merino less that I expected to.  It’s a good weight and all that, but initially when I put it on, it has that very slightly scratchy wool feel.  (To be fair, Fabric Mart did say this had a “slight wool feel”.)  I stop noticing it after a few minutes, but that was a surprise to me.  It also tends to attract all the hair and fuzzies in the washer and dryer (yes, I wash it on cool and dry it on low a lot of times–I prewashed and dried so I could do this without fear of shrinkage).  It would be interesting to be able to feel different versions of merino in person to see if that “wool feel” is typical or not.  This is less of a problem with the yellow wool/Lycra ponte I used in my Strathcona Henley.

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

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

While I always prefer to shop for fabric in person, it’s not always possible.  Both Fabric Mart and Cali Fabrics are online shops I like for their competitive pricing, variety of choices, and sales (in the case of Fabric Mart).  I’ve only shopped at Fabrications online once, but was very, very impressed with their customer service.

Pattern and Sewing Details

I cut a 44 in the bust and 46 in the waist and hips of Version C.  I tried using Eloflex thread, the slightly stretchy thread from Coats, but it didn’t work well with these shirts.  I also found that a stretch needle didn’t work well, but a 70/10 jersey needle did.  I used polyester Gütermann thread in the top of my machine and woolly/bulky nylon in the bobbin.  I lightened up the presser foot pressure, and used a zigzag stitch for construction and a twin needle for my hems and neckband topstitching.  It was really fun to use some contrasting thread in these spots on my blue shirt.

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

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

I also added clear elastic to the shoulder seams as instructed to keep them from stretching out.

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

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

Rather than using a straight stitch to attach the elbow patches on the blue shirt, I used a zigzag stitch (so there would still be some stretch) and then went over it again with a satin stitch (a closely spaced zigzag stitch).  The zigzag alone didn’t look that nice and  the satin stitch alone caused tunneling.  For some reason, this combination of the two was a winner.

 

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

I really, really like these shirts.  As I look at the pictures now, I can see some drag lines around the armhole, but that’s an area of fitting I haven’t really delved into yet and, in a knit, these are more than good enough–they’re great.  I would love to fill my drawer with Plantains in a variety of fabrics.  This pattern is a quick and easy sew—a real winner.

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

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

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

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

Recommendations

  • I checked out The Cool Factor by Andrea Linett from the library thinking it was probably a do’s and don’ts of fashion kind of book (I’m not super into that), but that I might find a little inspiration.  Well, I was wrong.  It’s a GREAT book where the author rounded up her most fashionable friends and showcased their style, breaking down how they think about creating their outfits.  This is definitely NOT a do’s and don’ts book.  It was really fun and inspirational, and it got me thinking that fashion is a kind of everyday art anyone can participate in if they want to.  Unless you’re a nudist, we all have to get dressed.  I found inspiration even from looks that are very different from what I would wear myself.  Now I have new ideas and types of clothes I want to try.

McCall’s 7261: “Doin’ Everything in my Activewear!”

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McCall’s 7261: “Doin’ Everything in my Activewear!”

As I continue to expand my sewing skills, one of the goals I have is to try out different kinds of fabric.  One type of fabric that I would really like to try out is merino wool knit.  It tends to be prohibitively expensive for me, so I haven’t tried it yet, but I thought that trying out another wool knit would be a good start.  Before Christmas, Fabric Mart had a wool/Lycra jersey from an activewear manufacturer as one of their daily deals.  In the interest of helping my wonderful husband with his Christmas shopping, I tipped him off to this and–surprise!–it showed up for me on Christmas!  (He’s the best!)  😉

Because of the truly awesome deal that this was, I got a good amount of yardage (4 yards), and made plans to make it into both an activewear top and a t-shirt at some point.  Today’s project is my activewear top–McCall’s 7261, View B.

McCall's 7261--Activewear top

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McCall's 7261--Activewear top

I started with this because I knew I could wear it over another shirt in case it was itchy, and I often want a light long-sleeved layer to wear over my sleeveless workout top until I get warmed up.  Also, in all honesty, I was hoping that by sewing more activewear I would be more motivated to get to the gym.  I’ve been doing a lot of walking outside, but I would also like to do some strength training…it’s just so hard to go in when it’s sunny and not bitterly cold out…or you’re busy…and stuff.

So, enough talking–on to the project.

McCall's 7261--Activewear top

I’m really happy with this one.  The only adjustment I had to make was to grade out from a 16 at the bust to an 18 at the waist and hips.  The fit is good, but with enough ease to be comfortable and to easily fit over another shirt.  The good news about the fabric is that it isn’t itchy.  When you touch it with your hand, you think it will be, but when you wear it, it isn’t.  Surprises me every time.  🙂

McCall's 7261--Activewear top

The shirt has raglan sleeves and princess seams as well as a drapey cowl neck that crosses over in the front.  The cuffs are extra long and have thumb holes.  The front hem is also higher than the back.

McCall's 7261--Activewear top

The thumb holes are probably the only part I would adjust if I made this again.  I think they need to be a little bit larger, have a stretch stitch around them (which may or may not be necessary if the thumb holes are larger), and maybe be repositioned a bit.  The sleeves twist a little when I use them as they’re positioned now.  I do love having them however, and these adjustments are minor in the grand scheme of things.  When I’m not using the thumb holes, I fold the cuffs over on themselves.

McCall's 7261--Activewear top

For my hem and around the join of the cowl and the neck, I used a twin needle to add stretch and look professional.  Also, I’m super excited that I actually know how to use a twin needle on my machine now.  It took me forever to figure it out!

McCall's 7261--Activewear top

I like that the seams are double stitched (the seams are first sewn with a straight stitch and then with a zigzag stitch in the seam allowance).  The straight stitch gives a nice clean line at the seams, but the zigzag backs you up when those straight stitches inevitably pop a bit.  If you had a serger, these things probably wouldn’t be an issue, but I don’t, and this doesn’t really bother me all that much.  In the hopes of maybe giving my seams a little extra stretch, I used woolly nylon thread in my bobbin and normal polyester thread in the top.  I also used a jersey needle and a walking foot.  This is just me trying out different things, though.  I think you would also be fine using regular polyester thread throughout, a jersey or stretch needle, and a normal foot.

And finally, one more thing in the category of…I don’t know…things I’m trying to motivate myself to do, I guess.  So, along with getting to the gym, I’ve been having trouble motivating myself to take blog photos.  My husband has been taking my pictures a lot lately, but I’m sure becoming my Instagram Husband wasn’t really on his list of life goals (although he is always willing to help out), so I’m trying to motivate myself to take more and better blog photos.  It’s a process, people, and I am no model.  So, today’s photoshoot is brought to you by the use of props and humor.  They came out a little blurry, but I did have fun!

McCall's 7261--Activewear top

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McCall's 7261--Activewear top

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McCall's 7261--Activewear top

Recommendations

  • Traditional folk costumes are fascinating, and I love a good dirndl.  Back when Gretchen of Gertie’s Blog for Better Sewing got into them, I vicariously went along for the ride and, thanks to her, discovered Lena Hoschek’s beautiful dirndls.  Some women want a chance to make a fancy dress, but I think I really want a reason to make a dirndl.  I’m saving up ideas for now over on Pinterest.  😉
  • And, since we’re on the subject of folk costumes, I also always wanted to make a costume to go to Tulip Time in Holland, MI.  I’ve been to a few tulip time festivals, but I always thought it would be fun to make my own costume.  I have to say though, that at this point, the dirndls are a lot more likely to get made.  They’re winning in the ‘beauty’ and ‘scope for imagination’ categories.  A lot of the American Tulip Time costumes that I’ve seen are a snapshot in time while the German and Austrian dirndls are an ongoing, living tradition.  I admit to having no knowledge of tulip festivals in the actual Netherlands.
  • Well, since we’re talking folk costumes, we might as well mention Folkwear patterns.  Their patterns represent the traditional clothing of different cultures and times in history.  I’ve never tried any, but have had fun perusing their offerings.  Have you ever sewn with one of these patterns?
  • And now for something completely different.  This video is a repeat, but every time I wear workout clothes/activewear (especially when I’m not actually exercising), I think of this video.  It’s also where I got the title for this post.  😉