Tag Archives: McCall’s

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.  😉

Refashion: Down Jacket Into Down Skirt…or…Struggle. Victory.

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Refashion:  Down Jacket Into Down Skirt…or…Struggle.  Victory.

It was a grey and stormy day when I finally cut into a project I had long been contemplating.  It was a refashion, but not just any refashion.  This one involved sewing with a material I had never tried before:  a down jacket.  I had chosen the patterns that were going to help me achieve my goal and planned a little more than half of the project, but there were still questions in my mind about how I was going to finish the rest.  Inspiration images had been pinned to my Pinterest board, but still I mulled it over…until the snow day.  It was finally time.

Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

I had already been scheming about refashioning a down jacket into a scarf after seeing these ones, which was the product of a collaboration between Patagonia and Alabama Chanin, but my down-sewing plans expanded when we visited Colorado last winter and I saw a woman wearing a down skirt.  It was such a brilliant idea.

Google revealed that down skirts are actually a thing, even though the Colorado one was the only one I had seen in real life.  So, after a ton of thought, I chose New Look 6843 for the skirt portion, and the waistband from the leggings in McCall’s 7261 for my stretchy waistband.  Since I wanted this to be a pull-on skirt, a waistband and some gores/gussets/godets in the side of the skirt were in order (after seeing the skirt, you can tell me which term is the right one for what I did 😉 ).

Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

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Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

I managed to turn the back skirt into a single piece and eliminate the zipper.  All of that fit onto the back of the coat, allowing me to use the bottom of the coat as my hem.  It got tricky when I came to the front because that was supposed to be one piece, too.  I really wanted to incorporate the coat zipper in a decorative way (although I planned to sew it shut), and I also wanted the pockets both for decorative and functional purposes, but in the end, it was too much of a struggle.  I realized that by opening my sleeves and sewing them together, I would have enough for my front piece.  I still had plenty of the stretchy fleece left from my Toaster Sweaters for my waistband and gores/gussets/godets.  Then it was all construction.

This is probably the point when you are asking how in the world I cut and sewed that crazy stuff.  That is a very important question.  Here is what I did:  I marked my cutting lines with a water-soluble pen and sewed with a straight stitch on either side of my cut line in the hopes that it would hold all the down in.

Do you think it worked?

Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

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Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

Well, it sort of did.  Not ALL of the down came out.  But some did.  Here’s how I had to sew.

Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

You can’t see it in this picture, but I also had pink-eye (conjunctivitis) at the time.  Nice, huh?  (Luckily no down got in my eye.  That would have been…um…gross.)

Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

I had the BRILLIANT idea of vacuuming off the edges after I cut them.  I do not recommend this.  Maybe you thought of the problem with this.  It actually dislodged things, so it was sort of like it was snowing outside and snowing inside.  That was the point at which I realized I really needed to get this finished that same day.  We had some sickness in our house that week, and I wasn’t feeling my best, but I decided to power through in the hopes that it was all in my head.  (It wasn’t all in my head, but I powered through anyway!)

Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

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Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

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Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

I also realized that I needed to cover every seam on the inside if I didn’t want to perpetually shed feathers.  This was the point where things got a little…”Becky-home-ecky” (sorry if your name is Becky).  The finishing, while functional and necessary, didn’t meet the vision I had in my head, but I was sort of racing against the down and my nausea.  The good news is, when I’m wearing it, I think it looks like something I could have bought at an outdoor store.  (If you disagree, you don’t have to tell me.)  It’s only if you get up close or look inside that you see the craziness, and since people don’t do that when I’m wearing it (thank goodness!), I think I’m safe.  Want to see it?  Check it out!

Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

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Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

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Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

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Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

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Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

This skirt has the added benefit of a little puffy booty enhancement up top.  It’s too high for people to think you pooped in your pants, so I like to think of it as booty enhancement.  Maybe it’s because I sewed all the darts in the skirt, even though I basically negated them with those side triangles.  I needed the triangles, though because if you’re going to eliminate the zipper, you need some way to get your skirt on!

Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

Skirt front (above)

Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

Skirt back (above)

Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

Side view (above). I folded the front of the skirt down at the top a bit because it was originally higher in the front and lower in the back, but that feels weird to me.  I want it the other way around.

Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

Inside front (above).  I covered my seams with fleece, but didn’t sew with a wide enough seam allowance, so I ended up sewing extra lines and hand-tacking things just to get all those feathery seams covered.  I also covered my top seams with wide fold-over-elastic (although I didn’t fold it), and used a zig-zag stitch to hold it down and allow for a little stretch at the waist.  That doesn’t look great, either, but again, you don’t really notice it that much when I’m wearing it, so whatever!

Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

Inside back (above)

Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

Inside side view (above).  Here’s where it started to get ugly, but I just wanted to finish at this point.  It was helpful to have the coat lining as a lining for my skirt because I could hand tack the fleece to it.

Refashion:  Down Jacket to Down Skirt

Despite any deficiencies in the finishing, I LOVE THIS SKIRT!!!!  When I wear it, I feel ready to take on winter!  The fit is great and it is so cozy that I wore it for two days straight after making it (and vacuuming my work room a.k.a. our living room…twice).  In January I made these fleece leggings and the Toaster Sweater that I’m wearing in this picture, and this outfit is pretty much winter perfection.  I love it so much.

After I finished, I contemplated making a scarf from the remnant of the jackets, but I decided to just put it away for now.  I DID NOT like sewing with all that down.  However…my husband had the brilliant idea to make a scarf from it in the summer…while sewing outside.  He’s so smart!

Recommendations

  • On Wednesday I made the Blueberry Poppyseed Snacking Cake from the Seven Spoons cookbook, and now I just want to eat that all the time.  I know this would be unwise, so I gave the last piece away before I could eat it.
  • I have some old gaiters from L.L. Bean that I just love.  They don’t sell the exact style I have anymore, so this is the closest I could find, but they are great if it’s snowy out and I don’t feel like putting snow pants on.  I can walk through several inches of snow without it getting in my shoes or on my pants.  I used them for a walk on Thursday, and it just reminded me of how much I love them.
  • Is orange the new black?  Are doughnuts the new croissants?  Do you like to say that _____ is the new ______ ?  Then check out this fun and funny website, where each time you click, you get a new ‘this is the new that’.
  • This week I found out that everything is better with doodles.  😉

Adventures in Shorts Fitting: McCall’s 6930

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We’ve been talking a lot about shorts lately, haven’t we?  I’ve noticed that in my sewing, I tend to make tops.  I have a lot of me-made tops in my closet, but not a lot of shorts and pants.  Why is that?  Fear.  That’s it.  Silly as it sounds, I have been afraid of making shorts and pants because I don’t know how to fit them.  But this was the year of sewing first jeans and then, this summer, shorts.  I’m so glad I finally plunged in because now I have a better grasp of some of the fitting issues I might face and how to fix them.

McCall's 6930 Shorts

So let’s talk about this particular pattern, McCall’s 6930 (View A).  There are a couple of shorts options in this one, as well as capris.  They have a flat front, shaped waistband, back zipper, and pockets, with optional belt carriers.  It actually took me three tries to get this right, and I took pictures of each of them, so you could see some of the things I had to fix and the mistakes I made.

McCall's 6930 Shorts

 

McCall's 6930 Shorts

Last summer, I began my first version of this pattern.  I could tell that something was wrong with it, but I wasn’t sure what to do, so I put it away until this summer.  I nearly threw these shorts out when I was cleaning up one day, but I tried them on first and realized that they weren’t as terrible as I remembered.  So, I finished them, and came up with ideas on what I wanted to improve.  The front was baggy and went up too high, and the back felt like it needed more length in the crotch seam.

McCall's 6930 Shorts

The baggy front was no good.

McCall's 6930 Shorts

McCall's 6930 Shorts

I looked in my trusty book, Sewing Pants that Fit from the Singer Sewing Reference Library, and decided to try taking a wedge out of the front and add a wedge into the back.  After I had done this, I saw that the book said not to take wedges out of the front, but there was no explanation as to why, so I decided to try it anyway.  I took out the wedge and redrew the top of the front crotch seam, making sure it was straight like before.  When I asked a friend who used to work as a pattern drafter what was up with the book’s advice, she asked if I had redrawn the center front line and, when I told her I had, she said it ought to work.  Her other suggestion was to take some of the length out of the top of the front, thereby leaving that front seam intact.  She also told me that the new grainline should be more or less perpendicular to the top of the shorts so that they would hang straight down.

McCall's 6930 Shorts

The front pattern piece, above.

McCall's 6930 Shorts

The back pattern piece.

Version two came out much improved.  There was one main problem, however.  I had made these out of a stretch denim…but the pattern didn’t call for a fabric with stretch.  So, as you may imagine, these shorts tend to “grow” throughout the day until they are a bit large by the end of the day.  Another minor thing that I noted was that using a lighter weight fabric for the back of the pocket is not as good as using a fabric of the same weight.  I did this in versions one and two.  It creates wrinkles and doesn’t hang as well–not super critical, but important to note.

McCall's 6930 Shorts

This picture makes me look excited about the hugeness of these shorts, but I’m really just making funny faces for my photographer.  This photo shoot got a little silly by the end…

McCall's 6930 Shorts

 

McCall's 6930 Shorts

Fabric the same weight as my denim would have worked better than the lightweight denim scrap I used.

I cut into some of my precious fabric from Pintuck & Purl for my third version…and it came out great!  When I put these on, they just feel right.  The one thing I will probably tweak if I make this pattern again (which I’ll probably do) is to lengthen the back crotch point just a bit as the front of the legs feel closer to the body than I think they should.  The leg openings aren’t too small, it’s more like they are tilted toward the back when they should be more balanced.

McCall's 6930 Shorts

Front view.  There’s a little yellow on the darts from my chalk markings, but that washed out easily.

McCall's 6930 Shorts

Back view.

Each of the adjustments I made were the same as those I made on McCall’s 6848, the pajama-turned-everyday shorts I recently blogged about.  It feels good to know I am on the right track.  Now the question is, will these be standard adjustments for me, or will they be limited to McCall’s patterns?  Either way, I feel like I’m making progress in learning to fit pants and shorts, and a lot of the scariness is dissipating.  It’s such a pleasure to occasionally wear an outfit that I’ve made–not only the top, but both the top and the bottom.  I’m really happy that I tried despite my fear.

McCall's 6930 Shorts

 

McCall's 6930 Shorts

McCall's 6930 Shorts

And…..guess what?  Today is this blog’s third birthday!  That’s pretty cool!  I thought about doing a round-up of past posts, but I wanted to talk shorts one more time instead.  I’m so thankful for this blog, which has helped me grow in confidence as a writer, seamstress, and photographer.  I think I have a good groove, have seen some improvements in those areas, and I hope for more improvements in the future in both sewing and blogging.  I’m also thankful for you, my readers, some of whom have been with me from the very beginning.  Thank you for encouraging and supporting me in this.  Learning these skills goes far beyond sewing–the confidence and happiness that comes from sewing has expanded into other areas of my life as well.  So, I’m thankful for the blog, for you, and to God for the skills, time, resources, and frame of mind to grow.  Thank you.

And last but not least, let’s have some Recommendations!

  • Another fun post in the Cotton + Steel substrate series is the one all about rayon, which is new to me.  I’m looking forward to trying it out in the near future.
  • Have you ever wanted to turn your favorite button up shirt pattern into a popover top (a top with a button placket that only goes partway down the shirt)?  I have!  I just wasn’t looking forward to figuring it out on my own.  Luckily, Craftsy did it for me.  You can read all about it here.
  • Did you know it’s National Sewing Month?  It is!  To celebrate, Pintuck & Purl is doing a fun Q & A with various bloggers and pattern designers over on their blog, and I’m one of the bloggers!  You can read their blog here.
  • When knitting takes over…

Finally Just Right: McCall’s 6848 Shorts

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It may be September, but summer isn’t over until the first day of fall on September 22, so it’s been shorts-land over here lately.  Yes, Shorts-Land is a place, and that place has been my house, where I’ve been sewing up a ton of basic and not-so-basic shorts this summer.  Like many aspects of sewing, I’ve been putting shorts and pants off because I didn’t know how to fit them, but I also know that I really need to try if I’m ever going to learn.

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McCall’s 6848 is a pattern I’ve been tweaking little by little, and I think I finally have it right.  This is actually a pajama pattern, but after making my first pair of shorts from it (View D), I realized this it was going to be more of a summer staple than pajamas.

McCall's 6848

McCall's 6848

One thing I’ve found in the little bit of pants/shorts sewing I have done is that bottoms sometimes feel as though they are too high in the front and too low in the back for me.  This was definitely the case with my first pair of these shorts.  So, I got out the good ol’ Singer Sewing Reference Library books and looked up fitting, until I came up with some ideas.  For my second pair of shorts, I took a wedge out of the front and added a wedge into the back.  This got my shorts really close to what I wanted, but the front legs felt just a little…well, not tight, but not quite right–a little like they were pressing against me too much in the front of the legs.  So, for this last pair, I lengthened the back crotch point just a bit and…finally just right!!!

McCall's 6848

 

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They feel exactly like I want them to.  For this pair, due to my need for basics, I decided to try out the new Art Gallery Fabrics Denim.  I got it at Pintuck & Purl in Exeter, NH (who, by the way, I’ve started doing some social media for, which is super cool).  I was kind of skeptical about this thin fabric.  I didn’t really believe it was denim, because the weight is closer to a quilting cotton, although it’s much drapier.  When you look at the weave, though, it really is a denim weave.  All that to say, I was pleasantly surprised when I tried it.  I managed to make these up before the road trip we went on in July, and they were perfect in the car.  I guess it’s always a good day when you can wear something designed as pajamas in your everyday life.

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I even put a little lace flower in there as my back tag.

The one extra thing I did (besides that flower) was add some long bartacks at the sides.  I know from experience that these shorts can catch on things…and rip.  It’s no fun ripping a hole in the side of your new shorts.

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The only other thing I would change if I made these again would be to add pockets.  It’s pretty annoying not to have any, but I think, at this point, I want to focus more on fit than modifying patterns with extra features.  So, I’ll save it as a future idea.

Recommendations

  • I’ve got to recommend it again–BRIMFIELD!  It’s going on now, and if you are an antique-lover anywhere near western Massachusetts, I highly recommend you go.  Brimfield is the largest outdoor antique market in the US and it’s going on this week until Sunday.  You can find all the details at the above link.
  • I tried one of the best recipes EVER on Monday.  It was Bostocks from the Seven Spoons cookbook.  It’s an amazing combination of day old brioche (like challah bread), orange simple syrup, and almond cream.  It’s totally worth the work, and you can make the various elements ahead of time.  Check your library…I bet they have it!
  • How about more learning about fabric?  Here’s a link to another of the Cotton + Steel substrate series.  This time it’s all about their cotton/linen canvas fabric!  Interesting!
  • And finally, I’ve got one more video from Cotton + Steel about how their fabric is manufactured and printed over in Japan.  It’s pretty cool to see how it’s all made:

 

Another Pair of Shorts! McCall’s 6848

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Thanks to my attempt at batch sewing, I have a nice little backlog of projects to share with you.  Of course everything took a backseat to the Refashioners contest and some fun pattern testing I did for Megan Nielsen, but now I’m back to my regularly scheduled projects and I want to share these summer makes with you before summer is too far gone from the northern hemisphere and we all start to wonder if it really happened at all.

Shorts by Pattern and Branch

I’ve made the shorts from McCall’s 6848 before and it’s fast becoming my most used pattern (knit versions of the tanks here: #1 and #2; woven shirt here).  One of the next frontiers in sewing for me is fitting.  It’s something I don’t really know how to do.  Some of the “how” is starting to trickle into my brain, but it’s the doing that needs to be done before I can really understand it.

Here’s what my pattern looks like:

Shorts by Pattern and Branch

Shorts by Pattern and Branch

What I’ve found with the few patterns I’ve tried for bottoms is that the front half often has too much fabric for me and the back half not enough.  These shorts, with all their ease and comfort, seemed like a safe pattern to try out some fitting ideas on.  If my attempts aren’t spot on, the relaxed nature of the pattern should be forgiving so that I can wear them anyway.

My Mom is so awesome in feeding my sewing habit (Thanks, Mom!) and donated all of her apparel-related volumes of the Singer Sewing Reference Library to me.  I cannot recommend these books enough.  I looked through them and got some ideas about what to try to remedy my fitting problem.  Here’s what I came up with:

Shorts by Pattern and Branch

I measured the extra fabric on my first pair of shorts and used that number to get an idea of how much fabric I wanted to take out of the front.  As you can see above, I took out a wedge, and then redrew my grain line.  This makes it sound like I know what I am doing–I don’t.  I’m trying out some ideas I found and hoping for the best.

Shorts by Pattern and Branch

On the back pattern piece, I tried to figure out how much I needed to add, then slashed to the edge and opened up a wedge, taping extra paper behind the wedge.  Then I redrew the grainline and hoped I did it right.  I’m really not sure how to tell if I’m doing that step correctly, so I just try to keep it similar to how it was in the beginning.

After doing this, I cut out my pieces* and made the shorts like I normally would.  Then I tried them on, and I have to say that they were much better!

Shorts by Pattern and Branch

Shorts by Pattern and Branch

Shorts by Pattern and Branch

They still felt great after a full day of wear.  The only thing I noticed that might be improved upon is that they may need a small amount of fabric added to the back crotch point.  They felt very slightly off in the front when I first put them on, so this is what I hope to try when I make these next.  I wrote myself a note to try that next time, and put the pattern away.  I think summer sewing is winding up for this year.

I had to add some little bar tacks to the side seams because the shorts from this pattern and the handles on my kitchen drawers seem to have an unhealthy attraction to one another that always results in rips.  Even this pair hasn’t escaped it’s fate, but you can try…

Shorts by Pattern and Branch

Looks like I left a few marker dots on there, too!  Oops!

What I will say about this pattern is that these are the shorts I reach for time and time again.  If I’d had more summer sewing time, I probably would have made a few pairs in more neutral fabrics because they are just so comfortable.  I suppose that might have something to do with this actually being a pajama pattern…but you know I love secret pajamas as much as the next person.

*In case you are wondering, the fabric is an Amy Butler quilting cotton from her Soul Blossoms line called Passion Lily.  Thanks to my sister and brother-in-law for the gift of this fabric which I have been hoarding holding onto for a long time! 

There’s Winning, and There’s…Learning

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My husband has a friend whose son is in a chess club.  In the club, they tell the students that “there’s winning, and there’s learning”.  Losing somehow got left off the list.  When we heard that, we laughed, chalking it up to some sort of self-esteem gimmick intended to keep kids from ever feeling bad about themselves.  But then, as sometimes happens, I started to think about the concept.  So now I get to laugh at myself for being so cocky because, in certain areas of life, that principle holds true.  In fact, in sewing as in chess, the only real losing happens if you fail and learn nothing from it.

So, today, I have a few sewing failures learning experiences to share with you.  These are garments I completed awhile ago, but in wearing them I discovered that they weren’t really right somehow.

#1:  The cross-back shirt (McCall’s 6751)

 

 

McCall's M6751 by Pattern and Branch

McCall's M6751 by Pattern and BranchThis summer and last made me see that I really wasn’t wearing this shirt.  I like the concept of it, and I love the fabric and the binding I (finally) managed to get attached, but when I wear this, I’m always worried that it will blow open in the back.  I also can’t wear standard undergarments with it without worrying about my straps showing (something I’m not a fan of, despite current trends).  The shirt never lays right (which I think is due more to my fiddling with the seam allowances and binding than with the drafting of the pattern).  So, I declare this a fail learning experience.

What I learned:  It’s better to spend my time making a bunch of shirts I can wear with standard undergarments rather than making ones that will cause me to worry if anything I don’t want to show is showing.  Maybe five normal shirts equal one that calls for strapless support.  I also began learning to use my binding attachment on my Featherweight, something I had never tried before.

 

#2:  The overly long infinity scarf

Infinity Scarf by Pattern and BranchI thought I was so smart when I made this.  Rather than following the pattern lengths given in the tutorial, I used as much fabric as I had because I loved it so much and didn’t want any to go to waste.  And then I never wore it.  Because it was too long/big (actually, this picture brings the word “goiter” to mind).  Now the former scarf is on my sewing table, recut into a woven tank top.  Hopefully that will work out better.

What I learned:  Sometimes it pays to follow the directions, even if it means a little bit of “waste”.  Because, really, couldn’t I have used the leftovers for something else and then had a useable scarf?  Also, even though I could have reworked the scarf to a shorter length, sometimes you are just done with a project and need to move on.  And that’s ok.

 

#3:  The Soma Swimsuit Hack

Well, some of you knew this was coming!  My latest attempt at a swimsuit gets an A for looks, but is a fail for wearability.

Soma Swimsuit Hack by Pattern and Branch

I wore this suit once while in Michigan and, in addition to the issues I detail in the (very detailed) post about this suit, one of the underwires started to come out.  That was when I decided: I’M DONE!  Then I promptly bought a too-big tankini top from a thrift store and started fiddling with that, trying to get it to fit.  Sometimes, it can be hard to know when you need to walk away.

What I learned:  Know when to walk away!  I’ve put myself on bathing suit probation for a few months.  I’m still determined to get “mad bathing suit sewing skillz”, but I need to take a break before diving in again.  Also, there may be something to be learned in the realm of not trying to make a pattern do something it wasn’t intended to do…but you can’t always know until you try.

Maybe that’s the larger lesson to be learned from each of these projects:  TRY.  If there’s no “losing”, if you can learn from it, it’s probably worth it to try.  Of course I’m not talking about “trying” stuff with massively expensive fabrics on someone’s wedding dress or something.  The stakes were never even close to that high with any of these projects.  But I’m glad I did them, even if they aren’t going to become part of my wardrobe, because now I’m a better seamstress/sewist than I was before.

 

A Perfected Knit Racerback Tank: McCall’s 6848

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Here’s a project I’ve been waiting to share with you for over a month!!  I had debated blogging on the go last month, but decided against it.  So today’s make has had a lot of real-world testing since I finished it.

Long-time readers of this blog will remember my several versions of McCall’s 6848.  I’ve made the shorts, several racerback tanks in knits (#1 and #2), and the non-tank top.  Here is yet one more knit racerback tank, this time tweaked out in a way that I can easily reproduce.

McCall's 6848 racerback tank in knit fabric

McCall's 6848 racerback tank in knit fabric

In my last version of this top, which you can see below, I realized that in order for this pattern, which is drafted for woven fabric, to work for knits, I needed to do a little tweaking.

McCall's 6848 racerback tank in knit fabric

When I made the latest version of this top, I decided to take the tweaks from the above gray (or grey?) top and add them to my pattern in such a way that I could use them again.  Here are my pattern pieces:

McCall's 6848 racerback tank in knit fabric If you look, you can sort of see some triangles folded under at the bottom of the arm and the top of the shoulder.  Look below to see them from the back side:

McCall's 6848 racerback tank in knit fabric

McCall's 6848 racerback tank in knit fabric

McCall's 6848 racerback tank in knit fabricNow I can use the pattern pieces for knits or wovens depending on if I fold those little triangles down or not.  The sizes of the triangles are the same as the wedges I took out of the shirt in the post on the gray exercise top I showed you above.  The fit is terrific and, since this is a supposed to be a pajama pattern, there is the added benefit of being able to have the comfort of PJ’s in your everyday wear.  You know I like that!  I think I wore this outfit more than any other when I was in Michigan last month.

I got the fabric at Joann’s.  I think it is a polyester.  (You can see a fabric with a similar design but in a different colorway here.  Looks like it’s a poly/rayon, so maybe that’s what mine is, too.)  I’d had my eye on it for awhile because of the subtle print, but I was a little nervous because the last time I bought a polyester knit there (the fabric in these leggings), it pilled pretty badly after awhile.  So, we’ll see if that happens.  Also, the fabric is fairly transparent, so I lined it with some old, old white knit sheets I had around (also used as part of the lining in this dress).

McCall's 6848 racerback tank in knit fabric

And, in a stroke of brilliancy, I put the seams on the inside so it could be reversible!  I haven’t actually worn it with the white side out, but I could if I wanted to.  🙂

McCall's 6848 racerback tank in knit fabric

Front: cream and silver side out

McCall's 6848 racerback tank in knit fabric

Back: cream and silver side out

McCall's 6848 racerback tank in knit fabric

Front:  white side out

McCall's 6848 racerback tank in knit fabric

Back: white side out

I almost never line things, so I was pretty proud of myself.  I may or may not have sewn the armholes together before turning it right side out and, again, may or may not have had to rip those suckers out so I could turn everything right side out, but regardless of what might have happened, it got sorted out in the end.  The lining hangs a bit below the cream side, but I decided I’m cool with that.  I even made myself a little braided bracelet out of the scraps of sheet that I had lying around.

McCall's 6848 racerback tank in knit fabric

McCall's 6848 racerback tank in knit fabric

McCall's 6848 racerback tank in knit fabric

I didn’t get any compliments (or even comments) on this, maybe because it looked stupid to people.  I thought it was pretty cool, though, and it made me feel like I was enviro-saintly (yes, I just made that up–take note OED!) for using some scraps even thought I threw much bigger scraps away, but don’t think about that.  Anyway, if you want to be cool like me (enviro-saintly, even), just take three strips of jersey from any old t-shirt or some knit sheets, stretch them out, braid them up, and tie some knots on either end.  Then, knot them together and wear your bracelet like you paid an obscene amount for it at a cool store.  In fact, if you make one, leave a link in the comments so I can see it!  I’d like to see people put this with a festival look or just some kind of more-is-more thing and layer it up!

 

 

Fit for Fitness: Gray Exercise Tank

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Wow.  I feel like we just dropped back into “normal blog life” if there is ever such a thing.  Me-Made-May ’15 (MMM ’15) is over, and I got to tell you about the exciting new fabric store opening in NH.  Now we’re back to life and projects.  I’ve got about three projects going on (not counting the thousand in my head), but one I just finished is fitting the gray exercise tank you saw on MMM ’15 day 20.  Did you notice it was a little floppy in parts?

Fitting the exercise tank (Pattern and Branch)

Interestingly enough, this is the same pattern I showed you here.  Check it out.

Fitting the exercise tank (Pattern and Branch)

Fitting the exercise tank (Pattern and Branch)

Fitting the exercise tank (Pattern and Branch)

The differences are that I finished the gray tank top with fold-over-elastic rather than cross-cut strips of this ITY knit that I used on the back of the shirt above.  The other interesting thing about this pattern is that it’s actually for woven fabric.  It’s also a pajama pattern.  (In case you are wondering, it’s McCall’s 6848.)

Fitting the exercise tank (Pattern and Branch)

Fitting the exercise tank (Pattern and Branch)

This pattern is quickly becoming one of my most used, but least made for its intended purpose–sleepwear.  😉

So, with all that build-up, you might still remember that we were talking about fitting the gray tank.  Fitting is an area that is still dark in my mind.  I don’t know how to do it, really, but I guess I have to figure it out sometime if I’m ever going to turn the light on, so to speak.

In order to fit this tank, I tried something that I had just tried on a friend’s shirt that had gaping armholes.  I took a triangle out from under the arms.  The triangle was about one and a half inches wide and tapered into the old seamline about six or seven inches down.  I read somewhere that taking the shoulders up can also help with a gaping neckline, so I tried that, too, taking out a small triangle that was about half an inch wide on the side closest to the neck and that tapered to nothing at the other side.  Does that make sense?  Here are some pictures, so you can see what I’m talking about.

Fitting the exercise tank (Pattern and Branch)This is the side seam.

Here is how it looks on:

Fitting the exercise tank (Pattern and Branch)

 

Fitting the exercise tank (Pattern and Branch)

Here is a close-up of the shoulder seam.

Fitting the exercise tank (Pattern and Branch)

Here is what it looks like on:

Fitting the exercise tank (Pattern and Branch)

Not perfect, but I got to the point where I felt like I had mostly achieved success (especially since I have such limited fitting experience), and that if I kept fiddling with it, it would get worse or just never be finished.  And I need to finish projects in order to spur myself on toward new ones.

I basted these seams with a straight stitch first to test them out, which got me to the gym once.   (Yea!)  Then once I found that they were good, I went over them with a zig-zag stitch.  I’m sure they would have been mostly fine with a straight stitch, but the zig-zag seemed appropriate (Wow.  I almost wrote that it “seamed” appropriate.  Ha!)  In case anyone is wondering, I used a zig-zag that was 6 in width and 1 in length.  I’m not sure what that is.  Millimeters?  I should really know that.  All I do know is that it worked.  Here’s how it looks finished.

Fitting the exercise tank (Pattern and Branch)

Yea!  An early fitting success.  I’m sure as I go along learning to fit, I can get more and more picky, but in knitting, my mantra is, “Don’t be a stressed out knitter!”  That means that when starting out, you should just ignore your mistakes and keep going.  The more you learn, the easier (and less devastating) those mistakes will be.  As you get better, you can fix more, but in the beginning, the most important thing is to get something marginally wearable done so you can feel proud enough to try again.  Also, as far as this shirt and other knit fabric sewing projects are concerned, knits are forgiving, so I try not to be too hard on myself.

It’s nice to deal with sewing and art problems in the sense that you can make mistakes and learn from them.  Sometimes mistakes make you better, they always teach you something, and sometimes a mistake is just a bump on the road to an even better end-result than you originally envisioned.  Too bad for people like doctors and engineers that they can’t have that philosophy.  Mistakes there can equal death, but in sewing, they make you better.  Hooray for sewing!!!!

 

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 Three

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Here we are at the end of week three of Me-Made-May.  I’m excited to show you some more pictures.  I was expecting a lot more repeats by this time, but I’ve been digging deep in my closet and storage to try to keep things changed up.  It’s encouraging that I’ve made more garments than I thought I had.  It also makes me want to sew even more!

Since May started on a Friday, the weeks are running Friday to Thursday (at least as far as my blog posts are concerned).  Fridays come with a little extra challenge for anyone who wants to take it on, and week three’s challenge was “Something Old”.

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

Day 15: Summer Blouse from the book Weekend Sewing, made from a vintage sheet #mmmay15

The shirt I’m wearing is “old” in that I made it before I really got traction with sewing and before beginning the blog.  It’s also made from a vintage sheet.  If you read the last post, you’ll recognize this shot.  I found a vintage sheet that almost matched my shirt at Brimfield!

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

Day 16: Pajama shirt as everyday shirt from McCall’s 6848 #mmmay15

This shirt is made from McCall’s 6848, which is a pajama pattern.  You may recognize the fabric from the Mother’s Day skirt in last week’s Me-Made-May post.  It’s a sheet that someone gave me.  I love the fabric and I wanted to see if this shirt would translate into an everyday shirt.  I’d also thought of making it from a knit for exercising and/or day-to-day wear, but I’m not sure.  I like it in these pictures, but when I was wearing it, I kept seeing an old pair of scrubs I used to wear as pajamas.

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

Day 16: Pajama shirt as everyday shirt from McCall’s 6848 (close-up) #mmmay15

 

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

Day 16: Pajama shirt as everyday shirt from McCall’s 6848 (close-up) #mmmay15

The back yoke is actually the hem of the sheet.

 

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

Day 17: Ankara peplum from Simplicity 1699 #mmmay15

 

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

Day 17: Ankara peplum from Simplicity 1699 (close-up) #mmmay15

This shirt is made from Ankara fabric and Simplicity 1699.  I think, in my imagination, where I actually tweak and fit patterns to be just right, I would add an inch to the bodice of the shirt just above the waistline since this sits about an inch high, but in real life, I still love to get a project done and move on.  Maybe someday…

 

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

Day 18: Alabama Chanin style reverse applique scarf/wrap #mmmay15

Day 18 turned into a bit of a photo shoot, so even after narrowing down my choices, I have a lot of pictures to show you.

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

Day 18: Alabama Chanin style reverse applique scarf/wrap #mmmay15

This scarf/wrap is really versatile.  I designed it from some of my husband’s old t-shirts in reverse applique a la Alabama Chanin.  It was a lot of fun to work on and while I don’t wear it as often as I would like, I think it’s still one of the pieces I’m most proud of.

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

Day 18: Alabama Chanin style reverse applique scarf/wrap (close-up) #mmmay15

 

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

Day 18: Alabama Chanin style reverse applique scarf/wrap (close-up) #mmmay15

 

 

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

Day 19: Alabama Chanin style reverse applique shirt #mmmay15

You’ve seen this one before!  The challenge with a repeat garment, especially since I’m taking pictures every day, is to find a new way to style it.  I do that in normal life, too, but when I find a good outfit, I also repeat it.  I’m trying not repeat whole outfits this month so I can give you something a little more interesting than seven of the same outfits repeated each week.  It’s a good creative exercise.

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

Day 19: Alabama Chanin style reverse applique shirt (close-up) #mmmay15

This picture makes me feel like I’m in an Alabama Chanin book.  Not sure why they haven’t called me to model yet…

 

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

Day 19: Alabama Chanin style reverse applique shirt (detail) #mmmay15

 

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

Day 20: Exercise shirt, McCall’s 6848 #mmmay15

I used to be so good at exercising regularly, but my main motivation to exercise this spring has been because I made a new piece of exercise clothing.  I made this shirt and it looked so awesome with the chevron fold over elastic as an edging, but when I wear it, it gapes more than I would like.  I think I may go back and fiddle with the neck and armholes to see if I can get a fit I’m happier with.

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

Day 20: Exercise shirt, McCall’s 6848 (close-up) #mmmay15

This shirt is also from McCall’s 6848.  You can see my first gym-ready version of it here.

Last, but not least for this week is an Alabama Chanin sleeveless shirt.

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

Day 21: Alabama Chanin sleeveless shirt #mmmay15

I love this shirt, but I think if I make it again, I’ll make it one size larger.  I’d love something with a slightly looser fit.

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

Day 21: Alabama Chanin sleeveless shirt (close-up) #mmmay15

I made this shirt from a knit sheet (the main part) and an old t-shirt (the binding).

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

Day 21: Alabama Chanin sleeveless shirt (detail) #mmmay15

 

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

Day 21: Alabama Chanin sleeveless shirt (detail) #mmmay15

I love the Alabama Chanin patterns year-round, but especially for the summer.  I have a feeling I’ll be making more in the warmer months.

That wraps up another week of Me-Made-May.  Thanks for following along.  I’ll report back with more soon!