Tag Archives: Field’s Fabrics

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

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

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

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

Simplicity 8689

Version 1

Simplicity 8689 Dress

Version 2

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

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

Pattern Choices

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

Simplicity 8689 Dress

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Simplicity 8689 Dress

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

Simplicity 8689

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Simplicity 8689

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Simplicity 8689 Dress

Pattern Adjustments

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

Vintage Butterick 3731

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Vintage Butterick 3731

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

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

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

Simplicity 8689 Dress

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

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

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

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

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

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

Simplicity 8689 Dress

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

Simplicity 8689 Dress

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

Garment Details

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

Simplicity 8689 Dress

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Simplicity 8689 Dress

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

Simplicity 8689

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

Simplicity 8689

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

Simplicity 8689

Anyway…

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

Simplicity 8689 Dress

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Simplicity 8689

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Toaster Sweater #1 in Polartec Fleece

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Toaster Sweater #1 in Polartec Fleece

Hey, friends!  I missed you last week.  My plans to take some outdoor pictures for my ‘Outside in January’ post were thwarted by family sickness, so that post never happened.  Thanks to my ‘Instagram Husband’ photographer and some nice weather on Saturday, though, I’m back with another sewing post for you.  Today’s creation is the new Toaster Sweater by Sew House Seven.  I was severely tempted to make a sweater for my toaster or pose with a toaster, but I resisted and went for something more basic.  😉

Toaster Sweater #1 in Polartec Fleece

This creation is brought to you by my getting caught up in the wave of cozy versions of this sweater floating around the sewing internet.  I often get caught up in these things, but rarely give in.  This time, I not only got caught up, I bought the PDF version of this pattern, something I almost never do!  I’m not a big fan of PDF’s from a user end.  They are a great way for a new company to get their patterns out into the world for a lower start-up cost, but from a sewing perspective, I’d always rather have a paper pattern.  Sometimes I will even pass on a pattern I like if it doesn’t come in a paper version.  This time, though, I realized that I could buy the PDF of the single view that I wanted (the pattern comes with two views) for less than the price of the paper or full PDF pattern, and I could have it NOW.

I already had my fabric, some Polartec Power Stretch (at least I think it’s Power Stretch) that I bought this past summer at one of my favorite fabric stores in Michigan, Field’s Fabrics.  It was just waiting for the right pattern.  And this was it.

The Details

This is a great pattern and a fast sew.  There aren’t too many pieces, and the instructions are great, which makes the construction feel really simple in a good way.  I made this before making the Coppelia Cardi from Papercut Patterns, and I’m glad I did.  The helpful advice about double stitching is something I’ve been using in all my recent knit projects.

Toaster Sweater #1 in Polartec Fleece

I had all these plans to alter the pattern before getting started.  I wanted to lengthen it and grade the hips out to a larger size, etc., etc., but in the end I made a straight size large for the first version.  I had two colors of fleece, so I figured the first could be a wearable muslin, and I could change things up for the second if I wanted to.  In the end, all I changed for number two was to add another inch in width to the bottom band so that, hopefully, the sweater/sweatshirt would hang down over my hips, rather than sort of sitting on top of them.  I’m not sure that this made a huge difference, but the good news is that both versions are really great.

Toaster Sweater #1 in Polartec Fleece

Here are some knit sewing construction details for anyone who is interested.  I used a 90/14 stretch needle (Schmetz brand) and a walking foot with Gutermann polyester thread in the top and wooly/bulky nylon in my bobbin.  Normally I just use wooly nylon for swimwear, but I wanted to see if I could get a better stretch stitch, and this turned out to be just the thing.  I used a straight stitch with a length of three for my first pass and a three-step zigzag stitch next to that in the seam allowance for my second pass on each set of pattern pieces.  For the zigzag, I used a width of 6 and a length of 1.  My tension was at 4 and my presser foot tension was at 3.  I did not use a serger.

To figure out my stitch length and width, I used the suggestions that came printed on my machine and tested them on fabric scraps.  Then I stretched each test to see if any of my stitches popped.  The straight stitches will pop if you put enough stress on them, but I think it is worth doing both because the straight stitches give you a clean join in your pieces while the zigzag provides extra strength and stretch.

I used a universal twin needle since I didn’t have a stretch twin needle at the time (I’ve since gotten one, and it’s great, but the universal did work as well).  I didn’t press my seams since I was sewing Polartec and I didn’t want to melt it, but I used the twin needle even in spots like the vertical neck, cuff, and bottom band seams to hold my seam allowances to one side.  I think I finally have the hang of the double needle now, and I’m so happy about it.

Toaster Sweater #1 in Polartec Fleece

So, in conclusion, I really like this pattern.  I don’t think these are the world’s most flattering tops on me personally, but I don’t really care.  I love them and I wear them a ton.  They are so cozy in fleece and just perfect for winter.

Recommendations

  • I’ve said it before, but it’s worth saying again:  fleece from Malden Mills (Polartec brand fleece) is awesome for cold weather.  I love natural fibers year-round, but Polartec fleece is cozy and technically fascinating.  Reading their website really gives you an appreciation for all the innovation in these fabrics.
  • I found this article really helpful:  How a Sewing Machine Works, Explained in a GIF.  I could never picture the inner workings of my machine before.  Thanks to Maggie from Pintuck & Purl for this one.
  • Thanks to this show, I learned that the internet is actually housed on top of Big Ben and if you are really, really lucky, the Elders of the Internet might let you borrow it for big speeches.  😉

A New Favorite Fall Shirt–Simplicity 1538 in Robert Kaufman Mammoth Flannel

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It will come as no surprise when I tell you that I’m really excited about my latest creation.  For so many sewers, the last thing they’ve made is their favorite and this is pretty much along those lines.  It is hard for me to top last week’s pants, so maybe this isn’t my absolute favorite, but it’s a pretty close second.

I present to you my new favorite fall flannel shirt:  Simplicity 1538 made in Scarlet Robert Kaufman Mammoth Flannel.

Simplicity 1538 in Robert Kaufman Mammoth Flannel

I am IN LOVE with this shirt (at least as much as you can be with clothing).  Like the time I made my husband Thread Theory’s Jutland pants, I feel that the value of this shirt far exceeds what I paid for the fabric.  What I think really clinches it for me, though, is the feel of this flannel.

Simplicity 1538 in Robert Kaufman Mammoth Flannel

When I felt it initially, I was actually somewhat disappointed.  It seemed much thinner than I remembered this line of fabric feeling.  Still, I had wanted to sew with it, so I bought my yardage, took it home, and washed and dried it.

And that’s when the magic began.

Once it had been washed and dried, it fluffed up into a beefy, cozy, heavenly bit of fabric.  I loved sewing with it, and I love wearing it even more.

This shirt also marked my first real foray into plaid matching.  I had sort of done a bit of it when I made a shirt in Cotton + Steel’s Paper Bandana print, but this time I got serious.  I looked around at advice on the internet and in some of my trusty sewing books and tried to pick some reference points I could use to match things up.  My goal was to try to do a good job without letting myself slide down the slippery slope of perfectionism.  And I think I achieved my goal.  Not perfect, but really, really good.  And, (dare I say it?) it was kind of fun!

Simplicity 1538 in Robert Kaufman Mammoth Flannel

Simplicity 1538 in Robert Kaufman Mammoth Flannel

Simplicity 1538 in Robert Kaufman Mammoth Flannel

I see now, from experience, why you really want to have some extra yardage when you are matching plaids.  I really like setting my cuffs, yoke, and button bands on the bias, but there just wasn’t enough extra fabric to do that anywhere except the yoke; however this gave me the chance to work on some pattern matching across the front.

Simplicity 1538 in Robert Kaufman Mammoth Flannel

 

Simplicity 1538 in Robert Kaufman Mammoth Flannel

I used my current favorite buttons from Jo-ann’s.  They look like pearl snaps.  Real pearl snaps are on my list of things to try, and a little birdie told me that Pintuck & Purl just got those in along with some Robert Kaufman flannel (plus a bunch of other great stuff), so I think there’s a pretty good chance that another flannel shirt will make an appearance on this blog in the future.  Actually, I love this flannel so much that I want to MAKE ALL THE THINGS IN FLANNEL!  But I’m going to try to hold myself back…a little.  Once winter hits, I’ll feel the same about fleece so, you know…

Simplicity 1538 in Robert Kaufman Mammoth Flannel

Simplicity 1538 in Robert Kaufman Mammoth Flannel

The adjustments on this pattern are as follows:  major broad back adjustment and lowered darts (as discussed here) and for this version, I also added two inches to the length.  I knew I wanted to add 2-4 inches so the shirt tail would cover my backside for wearing with leggings and 2 inches was a good amount.  It doesn’t cover completely, but it almost does.  I’m happy with it.

Additional Note: I completely forgot to add this when I first published this post until Monique brought it up in the comments–all my seams that aren’t automatically finished/covered (like in the collar) are flat-felled.  I wasn’t sure I could manage to get the sleeve seams done on my machine, but after reading a few posts on other blogs, I became convinced I could do it.  In order to make it work, I put my sleeves in flat.  Rather than sewing up the side seams and then setting the sleeve as my instructions directed, I sewed the sleeve on with my flat-felled seams first and then sewed up the sides and sleeves in one fell swoop, flat-felling those seams as well for a nice clean finish inside.  It’s a bit tricky to do, but if you go slowly and have patience, it’s completely possible, and the end result is strong and beautiful.

Simplicity 1538 in Robert Kaufman Mammoth Flannel

And that’s it.  If you know me in real life and notice me wearing this shirt and last week’s pants every time we see each other for the next month, don’t be surprised.  I think I’ve finally found my tried ‘n true button up shirt pattern and a much loved fabric company.  I highly recommend both.

Simplicity 1538 in Robert Kaufman Mammoth Flannel

Recommendations

  • First on my list is a long-time favorite of mine:  Harney & Sons Bangkok Green Tea.  It has a subtle coconut flavor that I really like.
  • Polartec fleece from Malden Mills.  When the temperatures dip, this fabric can’t be beat.  It’s great for outdoorsmen and it’s great for the everyday.  It also has some pretty amazing science behind it.
  • Along the lines of the last recommendation, if you live in West Michigan or plan to visit, Field’s Fabrics is a great place to find Polartec in various forms along with all sorts of other great fabrics.  I love going to Field’s and always try to visit if we are in Michigan.
  • You guys know I like to watch surfing, especially in the winter since it reminds me that it won’t be freezing and snowy forever and, as we head into the cold season in this part of the world, I’m keeping an eye open for good surf videos.  I can’t vouch for the whole movie (since I haven’t seen it), but the trailer of View from a Blue Moon about surfer John John Florence, is stunningly beautiful.

A New Button-Down Shirt: Butterick 5526

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It is a lovely, lovely thing to sew from a pattern you have made before and made positive fitting changes to.  I’m just learning how to fit things to my own body, and I used this pattern (Butterick 5526) for one of my first attempts, making a broad-back adjustment to it before trying a first draft.  In making this second shirt, I didn’t change anything.  Someday, someday, I will try a swayback adjustment, but since I can wear the shirt comfortably without it (and the fabric pools in my back, where I don’t normally see it), it just doesn’t feel as urgent.

Butterick 5526; Button-down Shirt

Butterick 5526; Button-down Shirt

Butterick 5526; Button-down Shirt

Butterick 5526

Butterick 5526

The real feature of this edition of the shirt is this cool fabric.  I got is last summer at Field’s Fabric in Kalamazoo, MI.  If I remember correctly it’s from Robert Kaufman fabrics, and is a cotton.  Here’s the cool part:  it’s not actually purple.  It’s a trick on your eye.  The fabric is made of red threads woven perpendicularly to blue threads, and your eye sees it as purple.  Color theory in action!  (For an interesting read on color, page through Josef Albers’ book entitled Interaction of Color.  Mind blowing!)  The weave also gives the fabric a fascinating effect (I want to say “iridescent”, but that’s not quite right) in the light.

Butterick 5526; Button-down Shirt

I chose to topstitch this shirt in red and used plain red buttons.  I searched high and low for cool, unique buttons, but in the end, these seemed right.

Butterick 5526; Button-down Shirt

In future editions of this shirt, I’d like to use French seams inside, but I was sort of afraid they wouldn’t make it around the curves and I would get lumps.  However, Lauren of the blog Lladybird is the one who I copied convinced me to try this pattern after I saw her many versions, and she uses French seams, so I should give it a try, too, perhaps.  For now, let’s pretend the insides of my shirt, which I finished with a zigzag stitch and which consequently frayed in the wash, are a “design feature”.

Butterick 5526; Button-down Shirt

And lest you think I’m aiming for the “moody” look in these posts, I’ve been sick all week, and I was still recovering when I took these (and the next few posts’) shots, so it might show.  I feel like I have to say this because when I take blog photos now, I always hear my Grandma’s voice in my head telling me to smile.  I tried, Grandma!

How about some “in progress” shots?

Butterick 5526 with a broad back adjustment

Butterick 5526 with a broad back adjustment

Butterick 5526; Button-down Shirt

Butterick 5526; Button-down Shirt

I’ve had this shirt done for a while and it’s gotten lots of wear.  The color is one I wear often, and the weight of the fabric is really, really nice.  It’s more substantial than my gingham version (which is not high quality fabric, really), and it feels like it will hold up a lot longer, too.  I love Robert Kaufman fabrics.  Even if I’m wrong about this being from them, I still love Robert Kaufman fabrics.

Butterick 5526; Button-down Shirt

Butterick 5526; Button-down Shirt

Butterick 5526; Button-down Shirt

I hope you all have a good weekend.  I’m already feeling better than I was yesterday when I took these photos, so that’s hopeful.  Now how about some fun recommendations?

  • Thanks to the Thread Theory blog for featuring the Strathcona Henley and Jutland Pants that I made for my husband along with some other amazing things created from their patterns.  Check out all the great projects!  The coats blew my mind, and I was definitely eyeing the shorts for ideas for the future.
  • Also on the Thread Theory blog, several cool videos on how various sewing items are made.  I really liked that the scissors they showed are still largely made by hand, and seeing how pins and needles are made was fascinating.
  • This music video by OK Go is CRAZY (crazy awesome).  They always have the best music videos.  Do you think they did it in one take?

Take Two: Megan Nielsen Briar T-Shirt

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Today’s project is a second take on a shirt I’ve made once before.  It’s Megan Nielsen’s Briar t-shirt and sweater, this time made from a fleece-backed fabric.  You can see my first version of this pattern here.

I made this one for my trip to Colorado last month.  Since I was planning to wear my other Briar sweater on the plane ride out, this seemed like a good choice for the ride home.  I suppose you could call that dorky, but I call it awesome.  I already had the pattern ready, the fabric waiting to be used, and I really needed a quick project to whip through after all the time I spent on the outfit I wore to the wedding in Colorado.  With all that ready and waiting, it was such a fast project.  Super satisfying!

Here are the details:

As mentioned, I used the pattern below.

My awesome Briar

My imperfect but awesome Briar sweater

These days I trace out my patterns on tracing paper, which gives me a nice, clean pattern to work with, especially if I am grading between sizes, which I usually do.  It was so nice to already have this traced out from the last time.  I chose to make a medium at the bust and grade out to a large for the waist and hips.

Megan Nielsen Briar T-shirt (MN2303)

Megan Nielsen Briar T-shirt (MN2303)

I made Version 4, which is the long-sleeved t-shirt in the longer length.  I really like the high-low hem.

Megan Nielsen Briar T-shirt (MN2303)

Megan Nielsen Briar T-shirt (MN2303)

The fabric for this is pretty cool.  I got it this summer at Field’s Fabrics in Kalamazoo, MI.  Man, that place is great!  This fabric is, I think, made by Polartec.  The quality is really great, and makes me only want to sew with their fleece (However if some other company wants to try to convince me their fleece is better, send over the free fabric!  I’ll try it, but it’s going to take A LOT to convince me.).  It’s got a fleece inside and a stretchy, smooth outside.  It would be perfect for an athletic jacket, but I wanted to try it in another context.  When I thought of pairing it with this pattern, it seemed perfect.

Here are some detail shots.  This time around, I made sure to stabilize the shoulders with ribbon, rather than trying to do that after the fact.  I’ve since stabilized the shoulders and back of the neck on my first version of this pattern, but I don’t think it was a huge help since I did it after the fact.  I wasn’t going to make that mistake this time (See?  Sewing is LEARNING!).

Megan Nielsen Briar T-shirt (MN2303)

Megan Nielsen Briar T-shirt (MN2303)

A nice thing about working with knits is that you don’t have to do a lot of finishing of seams and edges.  The hem and sleeves are just turned up and zigzagged.  I made sure to use a jersey needle and a walking foot to help with the sewing.

Megan Nielsen Briar T-shirt (MN2303)

Megan Nielsen Briar T-shirt (MN2303)

You may notice in the photo above that my sleeve seam isn’t flat.  I sometimes hem the sleeves before sewing the sleeve up.  I’m always afraid it will be hard to hem it afterward, even though my machine has a free arm.  I haven’t decided if I like this better or not.  It’s definitely easier, but I don’t think it looks as nice as sewing the sleeve seam first and doing the sleeve hem after.  It doesn’t bother me when I wear it, though, so I keep doing it.

Megan Nielsen Briar T-shirt (MN2303)

Megan Nielsen Briar T-shirt (MN2303)

Here is the shirt from the inside:

Megan Nielsen Briar T-shirt (MN2303)

Megan Nielsen Briar T-shirt (MN2303)

And that’s about it!  I have one more of these shirts cut out in a jersey knit, so it will be interesting to see if that fits at all differently, since I have noticed some wrinkles that radiate out from the underarms in the versions I’ve already made.  I can’t tell if there is a fit issue there that I don’t know about or if it is the fabric I’ve chosen.  I guess I can compare them all when the t-shirt is finished.

And, last but not least…This is fun now!  Here are my fun things for you to check out.

  • Hillcraft Designs on etsy.  This one belongs to my friend who is an amazing potter, knitter, and all-around fabulous maker of a billion things.  Jo-Alice is a one in a million person and a one in a million maker.  My parents have ordered pottery from her and I bought some for my best friends for Christmas.  It was beautiful, and they loved it.  She has helped me in my knitting, my baking, and in all of life, really.  I highly recommend her work!
  • For your reading pleasure, check out Ask the Past by Elizabeth P. Archibald.  I really love funny things.  The author of this book found advice throughout history and has compiled it, with comments for all of us.  It contains gems like the usefulness of bacon for curing wounds, how to get sympathy after giving birth (hint:  scream really loud!), and a caution to not smell too much basil (you might end up with a scorpion in your brain!).  We checked out a copy from our library, so you can check yours to see if they have it, too.
  • Last, but not least, and continuing on the “funny” theme, this is currently my favorite sketch from The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.  Makes me laugh so hard I cry pretty much every time.