Tag Archives: shirt

Itch to Stitch Visby Top in Wool/Polyester Waffle Knit

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Itch to Stitch Visby Top in Wool/Polyester Waffle Knit

What seems like a story about a pattern, is actually a story about fabric. The wool/polyester waffle knit I chose to sew into a Visby Henley surprised me and caused the project to take an unexpected turn.

Itch to Stitch Visby Top in Wool/Polyester Waffle Knit

I love henley shirts for fall and winter. These long-sleeved knits with a short placket at the neck, epitomize rugged yet comfortable cool-weather style in my mind. Although I have hacked the Thread Theory men’s Strathcona Henley in the past to create such a top for myself, I was excited to try the Itch to Stitch Visby Henley & Top when it came out. Not only is it drafted for women, it has a raglan sleeve and a number of other options that could be fun to explore in the future.

Itch to Stitch Visby Top in Wool/Polyester Waffle Knit
Itch to Stitch Visby Top in Wool/Polyester Waffle Knit

After searching and considering different fabric options, I decided to try a wool/polyester waffle knit I found on e-bay. It was 80% New Zealand wool blended with 20% polyester at an affordable price, and the seller promised that although they didn’t cut straight, they cut long yards. And they weren’t kidding! When I got my fabric, I measured and found that they had given me an extra 2/3-3/4 of a yard!

The fabric felt like your typical, fairly thin waffle knit. It had just enough stretch for the pattern (barely!).

Itch to Stitch Visby Top in Wool/Polyester Waffle Knit

I like to wash my wool and, if it seems warranted, shrink it down as much as possible before sewing it up so that I can machine wash and dry the finished garment. Believe it or not, this usually works for me. I wasn’t sure what would happen with this fabric, so I cut a little test swatch and threw it in the washer. It showed some shrinkage, and it did change the hand slightly, but in a really nice way, making the fabric a bit fluffier and beefier.

After two test swatches, I threw in my yardage. I washed it a few times so it would shrink as much as it was going to. That’s when I started to feel some surprise. That extra yardage? It shrunk right out. What I mean is that the fabric shrunk down to the amount I had originally ordered, which was three yards. Maybe I had gone too far, but I LOVED the feel of the fulled (felted), shrunken fabric. It was so soft and nice!

Itch to Stitch Visby Top in Wool/Polyester Waffle Knit

Now it was too thick to make the henley, however, so I changed course and opted to try the basic top option. The pattern was easy and clear–no problems with the small exception of a slightly wavy neckline, which I figured would be fine after washing. I had sized up so the finished garment would be on the looser side.

Itch to Stitch Visby Top in Wool/Polyester Waffle Knit
The neckline has mostly settled and straightened since washing.

When I was finished, the fit was great. So was the feel! Rather than a shirt, this felt like a light, cozy sweater! I wore it once to test it out, and threw it in the wash, figuring I would just plan to wash it on cold and air dry it from here on out.

Itch to Stitch Visby Top in Wool/Polyester Waffle Knit

When I wore it next, it seemed…well…a little smaller. Was it still shrinking?! Even with a cold wash and no dryer? Yikes!

The next time I wore it, it fit perfectly–no longer oversized, but just right. However…if it shrinks any more, I’ll have to give it to one of my kids. I love my kids, but I want this shirt-sweater for me! Now the shirt has been relegated to the hand-wash pile (I don’t hand wash anything if I can help it, so it’s the only thing in the pile.).

Itch to Stitch Visby Top in Wool/Polyester Waffle Knit

The future of the shirt is unknown! I’ve just hand washed it, and it looks good, but now that it’s warming up, I’m going to put it away until cooler weather. Fingers crossed that it doesn’t shrink any further!

Takeaways? The Itch to Stitch Visby Henley & Top is a great pattern that I would happily make again. This fabric is wonderful, but if you try it, proceed with caution and don’t be as tough on it as I was. Happy sewing!

Itch to Stitch Visby Top in Wool/Polyester Waffle Knit

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

The Silk Party Blouse: New Look 6560

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The Silk Party Blouse:  New Look 6560

Hi, everyone!  I hope you had an enjoyable time over the holidays.  I decided to take a break from blogging and Instagram as well as whatever else I could put a pause on to rest and hang out with my family, which was nice.  Today’s project was one I made before Christmas, but didn’t get good pictures of, so I’m sharing it today.

The silk party blouse:  New Look 6560

This is New Look 6560, View A, a long-sleeved blouse in a beautiful chartreuse silk from Pintuck & Purl.  In fact, Maggie told me she ordered this silk for the shop with me in mind (Aww!!! So nice!).  Clearly, I gravitate toward this color.

The silk party blouse:  New Look 6560

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The silk party blouse:  New Look 6560

The Story

A few months ago, my husband’s work sent us an invitation to a fancy holiday party.  I am not a fancy person, although this sounded like fun.  As a non-fancy person, my gut reaction was to FREAK OUT!  The party was in Boston at a swanky club and the dress was COCKTAIL DRESS.  Ack!  So I turned to Google and Pinterest to see just how much latitude I had with that and what it even meant!  I came up with a plan, and ordered a stack of fabric.  Then I looked at my fabric stack for a few days and decided that I didn’t like my plan.  I did a lot of freaking out, and finally settled on this pattern (which is everywhere in stores right now, interestingly) and this silk, which was in my stash after a sale at P & P.

The silk party blouse:  New Look 6560

I got a fanciness pep talk and help from people at the shop to figure out how to starch the fabric.  They also sold me one more yard because I realized I had enough for everything but one of the sleeves, and I wasn’t going for a one-sleeved look.  Wrap styles can be fabric hogs!

The silk party blouse:  New Look 6560

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The silk party blouse:  New Look 6560

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The silk party blouse:  New Look 6560

Design Choices and Cutting

OK.  Let’s talk details.  I opted to leave off the ruffle on View A.  I cut an 18 bust, and a 22 waist and hip.  Size 22 was beyond what the pattern offered, so I graded out by copying the shape and distance between the other sizes.  After looking online at others’ versions of this pattern, I decided to lengthen the shirt by two inches just under the waist mark.  Then I measured the new bottom edge to make sure it would still fit around my hips, which it did with no problem.  It didn’t look like I needed a broad back adjustment, so I crossed my fingers and cut it out.  Starching the fabric and using a rotary cutter with a sharp, new blade were really helpful.

The silk party blouse:  New Look 6560

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The silk party blouse:  New Look 6560

Construction

I used French seams everywhere except the yoke/shoulder seam.  I sewed that seam and then did a three-step zigzag in the seam allowance and trimmed it close.  According to the book Sewing Specialty Fabrics from the Singer Sewing Reference Library, this is called a double-stitched seam.  I didn’t remember to use French seams until after I had done that one.

The silk party blouse:  New Look 6560

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The silk party blouse:  New Look 6560

I also put in my sleeves flat, although I did still use the gathering stitches at the top of the sleeve to get the sleeve to fit to the shirt body.  It’s a wonderful thing when even your sleeves and armscyes have beautiful French seams!

The silk party blouse:  New Look 6560

Also, I love the flowy, puffy sleeve shape in this pattern.

The silk party blouse:  New Look 6560

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The silk party blouse:  New Look 6560

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The silk party blouse:  New Look 6560

Overall, this wasn’t too hard to sew.  It was enjoyable.  I was on one of the last steps and was cutting my buttonhole with my buttonhole chisel when disaster struck!  I thought I was being careful, but somehow part of the shirt was under the buttonhole and I cut two little slices in my shirt.  At that point, I just walked away.  There was no going back in time and it was getting late, so I put the project down until the next day.

The next day, I fused a bit of interfacing to the back side, which looked pretty good from the right side, but I had my doubts about how permanent a fix that was.  So, I applied some Fray Check.  That didn’t look so good.  It looked like a permanent wet spot.

The silk party blouse:  New Look 6560

With my deadline approaching and no creative ideas forthcoming, I decided to sew a patch over it and call it a day.

The silk party blouse:  New Look 6560

I figured the tie would mostly cover it, and it does.  Sometimes these things happen.  What can you do?

As for the rest of the process, I made sure to put a little interfacing behind my button to strengthen the fabric.  For the belt, I topstitched around the outside once I had turned it.  I used a satiny ribbon for the inner ties (although those have started to come apart from the shirt at the stitch line after being washed and dried a few times–you can see that in the second picture a bit).

The silk party blouse:  New Look 6560

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The silk party blouse:  New Look 6560

Thankfully, I made the blouse on time, paired it with a camisole I made a long time ago (also silk, also from Pintuck & Purl), and some thrifted trousers, comfortable Dansko clog boots, and a FABULOUS faux fur jacket from Nordstrom Rack.

The silk party blouse:  New Look 6560

As soon as we got to the party, I breathed a sigh of relief.  People wore a wide variety of styles.  I was fine.

The silk party blouse:  New Look 6560

I still need to work on my fancy clothes game, but I broke the ice, and I have since worn this top to church as well as with jeans to a more casual holiday party.  Now I kind of want to make it in some hot pink stretch velvet I got for my birthday…

The silk party blouse:  New Look 6560

New Look 6472 Peasant Blouse in a Striped Embroidered Cotton

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New Look 6472 Peasant Blouse in a Striped Embroidered Cotton

Today’s project is New Look 6472, a peasant-style blouse in a lightweight striped cotton with an embroidered edge.  I love the boho, ’70’s-inspired style that’s been going around, and this pattern is perfect for that.

New Look 6472 Peasant Blouse in Striped Cotton

I found this fabric in the clearance section of Hobby Lobby in Indiana this summer.  I had planned to make a skirt with it, but changed my mind when considering what fabric to use for a first try of this pattern.  I decided to make View A with the sleeves of View C in a size 18 bust and 20 waist and hip.

New Look 6472 Peasant Blouse in Striped Cotton

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New Look 6472 Peasant Blouse in Striped Cotton

In order to use the fabric well, I made a few adjustments to the pattern.  There are two lengths included.  However, the embroidered edge seemed perfect for the bottom, and I wanted it to fall at midhip, so I shorted it 1.5″ from the shorter view.  I also took a risk and lined up the finished embroidered edge straight to the bottom of the front and back pattern pieces, even though it threw the grainline off a bit and added a wedge of fabric into the center front and back.  I figured I could probably gather that into the neckline.

New Look 6472 Peasant Blouse in Striped Cotton

Luckily it didn’t seem like a broadback adjustment was necessary on this pattern, and the little bit of fabric those wedges added seemed like extra insurance.

New Look 6472 Peasant Blouse in Striped Cotton

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New Look 6472 Peasant Blouse in Striped Cotton

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New Look 6472 Peasant Blouse in Striped Cotton

The pattern wasn’t too difficult, which was nice after all the changes I attempted on my last project.  There were a few little things I would change.  I think they forgot a step between steps 11 and 12.  It should direct you to press the unsewn long raw edge of the binding to the wrong side at 3/8″.

Also, there was no direction to trim the seam allowance around the neckline, but I thought it seemed like a good idea.  If you leave it untrimmed, it can create some structure to wrap the neckline binding around, but that seemed like it might be a little too stiff for this shirt.

New Look 6472 Peasant Blouse in Striped Cotton

Additionally, when making the neck ties, I think it would be easier to fold the tie right sides together the long way, sew one short end, pivot, and sew the long edge, leaving the thread tails from the beginning of your sewing long.  You can then thread them through a needle, push that needle to the inside and push it through the tube and out the open end, turning the tie right side out.

New Look 6472 Peasant Blouse in Striped Cotton

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New Look 6472 Peasant Blouse in Striped Cotton

I finished the inside with French seams, which I love.  I also like the little buttons on the sleeves, but I didn’t plan ahead to find some nice looking elastic for my button loops, so I used the 1/8″ white elastic I had on hand.  The buttons are vintage ones from my in-laws (thanks, Mom and Dad!).

New Look 6472 Peasant Blouse in Striped Cotton

I’m happy with how this shirt turned out.  I suspect that the armholes might need some fitting tweaks that I don’t yet know how to do, but I have to say that other than trying it out under a warm sweater the day I finished it, I haven’t had a chance to wear it.  It’s been pretty cold here.  My plan was to wear it once or twice and then put it away for the spring, but it may go to a family member who fell in love with it.  I love it too, but I actually have a fair number of shirts, and I can always make another one…or borrow it back. 😉

I’m really happy to have found a pattern in this style that I like, and I hope to make more of these–maybe in a drapey fabric next time!

New Look 6472 Peasant Blouse in Striped Cotton

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New Look 6472 Peasant Blouse in Striped Cotton

Kalle Shirt in Cotton and Steel “Mochi” Speckled Navy Lawn

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Kalle Shirt in Cotton and Steel “Mochi” Speckled Navy Lawn

It may not be the best for cool fall temperatures, but I love my new Kalle Shirt from Closet Case Patterns.

Cropped Kalle Shirt

I made myself a little batch of sewing projects to transition from summer to fall, which seemed like a good idea when it was still warm.  It seems like less of a good idea now that it’s cooling off, but I’m committed!  And I have no regrets when it comes to this shirt.  I love it.  I have a little confession to make, though.  When I was trying to figure out what to wear the shirt with, I fell for the color combination of these thrifted pants with the shirt.  In my mind, this outfit was going to be AWESOME and would take the sewing and fashion world by storm!  Hahahaha!  It’s sort of a silly outfit with the wide shirt and wide pants and makes me look a little pregnant (I’m not), so THAT didn’t turn out quite like I planned, but these pictures took a long time to take, and there’s no turning back now, so here we are.  I suppose I ought to know better–most of my worst fashion moments come when I think I look super amazing.  A bit of “Pride goeth before a fall”?  😉  OR, on the flip side, “You have to risk big to win big”?  Haha.  Whatever!  Here we go!

Cropped Kalle Shirt

Despite the calendar saying October, two days after I finished sewing this shirt, we had 80 degree (Fahrenheit) weather, which is nice and warm, and I got to wear it to work with my sparkly linen shorts.  Perfect!  Part of what I love so much about this project is the fabric it’s made from.  My first plan was to cut up a linen tablecloth I have but don’t love.  I had been thinking about repurposing that tablecloth for a while, and then I saw Linda’s shirt over on her blog, Elle Gee Makes, and it was just the push I needed to actually do it.  Unfortunately, no matter how much pattern and fabric puzzle-piecing I did, the shirt just wasn’t going to fit on the available fabric.  So, I turned to my stash.

That’s when I saw this speckled Cotton + Steel lawn, a part of Rashida Coleman-Hale’s “Mochi” collection.  I had originally purchased this fabric from Pintuck & Purl to sew up a shirt pattern from the 1980’s, but I reassigned it to the Kalle.  It’s such a great fabric with so many different colors.  Also, I loved splatter paint designs as a kid, so there’s that.  😉  If you aren’t familiar with lawn, it’s a smooth, plain-woven fabric that is great for making shirts from.  It feels finer and thinner than most quilting cotton and is crisp rather than drapey.  This particular one is made from cotton.

Cropped Kalle Shirt

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Cropped Kalle Shirt

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Cropped Kalle Shirt

Let’s talk design details.  This pattern has a lot of options with three lengths and different collar, back pleat, and button placket options.  You can even optionally buy a PDF pattern for long sleeves.

Cropped Kalle Shirt

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Cropped Kalle Shirt

I chose the cropped shirt (View A), which I lengthened by three inches, in a straight size 14.  My measurements would put me in a 12 bust, 14/16 waist and 16 hip, so I guess I chose the 14 to split the difference and avoid having to grade between sizes, even though that’s what I usually do.  I’m happy with how this turned out, though, so I think it was a fine choice.  As for the other options, I chose the band collar, back box pleat, and hidden button placket.  One bonus:  the relaxed fit of this shirt meant that I didn’t have to do a broad back adjustment.  That’s rare for me.

Cropped Kalle Shirt

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Cropped Kalle Shirt

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Cropped Kalle Shirt

I did have several moments of confusion while sewing this pattern.  Unlike some patterns, however, I could tell that this was because I was learning new techniques, not because the instructions were bad.  This was my first hidden placket, for instance, and I sewed my buttonholes through only one layer of fabric instead of two at first.  Luckily, I figured it out and managed to fix it, so all was good.

Cropped Kalle Shirt

After sewing the side seams, there is a suggestion that you could flat fell the seams.  If you want to do this, you would have to change things up a bit since flat felled seams are typically made on the outside–or you could just make them on the inside.  I chose to serge my seams because I’m still trying to get used to my serger and one of my goals is to actually USE it.  So far I only have black and white serger thread, so I used black here (as you can see below).

When it came to attaching the facing, rather than topstitching it into place, I just made sure my top thread and bobbin thread were the same color and I stitched from the underside to make sure I was catching everything.  Unlike my normal practice, I didn’t choose contrasting thread for topstitching–I just used navy throughout, which hides a lot of mistakes!

Cropped Kalle Shirt

The only other area I got confused on was attaching the sleeve cuffs.  I think the instructions could be a little bit clearer in this area.  I was very confused, so I turned to the sewalong online, which differs from the instructions after the second point.  I found that easier to follow, so I printed the information off and put it in my instruction booklet for the next time I make this.

And I do hope to make this again at some point.  I’m interested in trying the tunic length with the popover placket.  It will have to wait until at least next year, though, as I really like the look of the short sleeves, and would want to do that again.

Even though the weather is turning cold now, I’m really glad I got this in.  I love this shirt in this fabric, and I’m excited to wear it.

Cropped Kalle Shirt

Silk “Secret Pajamas”: McCall’s 6848

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Silk “Secret Pajamas”: McCall’s 6848

It’s time for another garment from my 2017 Summer Sewing list!  McCall’s 6848, View C is a top I’ve made before (in pre-blogging days, maybe?)…and one that I love!  I really wanted to make this simple top out of a flowy fabric to wear to work and church as well as with casual bottoms.  When I saw that Fabric Mart had black silk crepe de chine on sale, I knew that I had found my ideal fabric.

Silk "Secret Pajamas":  McCall's 6848

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Silk "Secret Pajamas":  McCall's 6848

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Silk "Secret Pajamas":  McCall's 6848

Now I know that silk is often viewed as a fabric that needs a lot of special care, but that is really up to you.  If you want to dry clean your silk, you can, but you can also throw it in the washer and even the dryer if you want to.  It does change the look of the fabric a bit if you wash it, but it doesn’t damage the fabric in any way.  So, while I actually prefer the look of the prewashed silk, I knew that I wouldn’t dry clean it due to cost and inconvenience, so I prewashed and dried.

Silk "Secret Pajamas":  McCall's 6848

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Silk "Secret Pajamas":  McCall's 6848

Sewing up this pattern was really fast and easy.  I made it in a size large this time.  It only has three pattern pieces:  a front, a back, and a neckband.  It was easy to sew the side and shoulder seams with French seams, and the neckband encloses the raw edge around the neck.  For the sleeves, I just did a basic hem with the raw edge turned under so that it was enclosed.  Fast and easy with no exposed edges left to fray in the wash!

Silk "Secret Pajamas":  McCall's 6848

(front view, above)

Silk "Secret Pajamas":  McCall's 6848

(back view, above)

I love the boxy cut and drape of this shirt and, while I wear it as an everyday shirt rather than as pajamas, I can feel how lovely this would be as a silk pajama top.  If you are looking for a basic drapey, boxy shirt pattern that is quick and easy, this is for you!  I’ve already got another cut out in rayon.  Highly recommend!

Silk "Secret Pajamas":  McCall's 6848

Recommendations

  • Proceed with caution if you try this one out!  Cooking Fever is a fun (and addictive) game where you have to serve your customers food as quickly as possible.  The better you do, the more (virtual) money you’ll have to upgrade your appliances and restaurant.  My fast food establishment is pretty awesome by now, I have to say!  😉
  • The Refashioners blog series and competition is up and running again this year with a theme of suits.  If you love refashioning, you can remake a suit into a new garment to compete for prizes (rules and prizes can be found here).  Right now, Portia, owner of the Makery blog which is hosting the event, is posting inspiration by various bloggers.  I was completely blown away when I saw Joost’s zebra-inspired coat.  You HAVE to check it out!
  • I just finished the audiobook version of Wonder by R. J. Palacio.  It was a great kids’ fiction book about the power of kindness.

Simplicity 1538 in Red and White Gingham, or… A New Shirt for Spring!

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Simplicity 1538 in Red and White Gingham, or… A New Shirt for Spring!

It can now be officially established (if it wasn’t before) that Simplicity 1538 is a Tried-N-True (TNT) pattern for me.  I think this is my fifth one (see previous versions here: wearable muslin, pink tiger quilting cotton, flannel, flannel with pearl snaps).  I love this pattern.

Simplicity 1538 in Gingham

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Simplicity 1538

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Simplicity 1538

Today’s iteration is made in a high-quality red and white gingham from Pintuck & Purl with quilting cotton accents (one of the Cotton & Steel Sprinkle fabrics) from the same store.

Simplicity 1538 in Gingham

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Simplicity 1538 in Gingham

Buttons are from Jo-ann Fabrics.

Simplicity 1538 in Gingham

I was inspired to add these fun blue accents after I saw a shirt by another sewing blogger (unfortunately, I can’t find my inspiration picture anywhere!).

Simplicity 1538 in Gingham

I love those little details whether they are hidden and only something I know about or if they peek out and add to the look of the garment as a whole.

Simplicity 1538 in Gingham

This project in particular really brought home how much fun those little details can be and make me love shirt-making even more.  Shirts and jeans are great canvases for these kinds of creative touches.

Simplicity 1538 in Gingham

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Simplicity 1538 in Gingham

I didn’t do anything new to the pattern fitting-wise.  You may or may not remember from previous posts that this shirt is a 16 at the bust, graded out to an 18 for the waist and hips.  I also lowered the dart and did a major broad back adjustment (more about that here).  Those things are pretty standard for me when making woven tops, and it’s great to have a pattern where all that stuff is already done.  I used French seams on the arm and side seams.  I’m pretty happy about those.  They aren’t perfect, but they’re good, and they make me happy when I look at them.

Simplicity 1538 in Gingham

Now let’s get to the fun details I built into this shirt.  For starters, I did not try to plaid match anything.  Once a gingham is this small (1/4″ squares), I officially let myself off the hook.  I just don’t care.  What I do care about is being able to contrast the straight horizontal and vertical lines of the gingham with some diagonal bias lines.  I put the outer back yoke, the front button placket, the cuff placket, and the outer cuffs on the bias.

Simplicity 1538 in Gingham

I debated doing the same on the collar stand and collar, but left them on the straight of grain this time so they would contrast with the yoke.  I added blue accents to the insides of the cuffs, the inner yoke, the inner collar stand and the underside of the collar.

Simplicity 1538 in Gingham

It took me awhile to find a blue that I liked with this gingham, but I’m really happy with this.  The buttons were also good finds–they have a subtle design, but when I saw them against the shirt, I knew they were right.

Simplicity 1538 in Gingham

This is the second gingham shirt I have made (the first is here), and while I sort of thought that cotton gingham was pretty similar across the board, I should have known better.  My first gingham was a great deal at Hancock’s (RIP, Hancock’s!), but the quality isn’t great.  As soon as I made it, I was wondering how long it would hold up.  No regrets or anything, but I doubt it will last 10 years.  The feel of this is much better.  Maybe it’s just the difference between actual quality shirting fabric and run-of-the-mill gingham.  Lesson learned.  I think this red and white one will be around for a while.

Simplicity 1538 in Gingham

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Simplicity 1538 in Gingham

So, now it’s just a matter of celebrating spring in my preppy new shirt!  Hooray!  I love the fit.  I love the fabric.  I love the pattern.  This is a great shirt.  Bonus:  it’s one of my 2017 Make Nine projects.  One more done!

Simplicity 1538 in Gingham

Recommendations

  • After the crazy outfit in this post, maybe you’d like to read about how to successfully pair prints in this excellent article by Kenneth D. King for Threads Magazine.  Thanks to this article, I now know why this combination works (well, at least why I like it).
  • Have you seen the yarn by Hedgehog Fibres?  That speckled and colorful awesomeness might just make me want to knit again.  Sewing has taken over my creative life, and I love that, but all those colors are mighty tempting…
  • I’m not a big nail polish person, but I’ve been wearing hot pink covered with a big glitter clear coat, and it has been really fun.  Both came from Claire’s.  If you are looking for fun nail polish, check them out.
  • And here’s a funny signs video to give you a few laughs. Have a great weekend!

Vacation! And a Deer and Doe Datura Blouse

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Hey, friends!  Happy July!  I can’t believe it’s July already.  I feel like summer is just starting.  I’m going to take the rest of the month of July off from blogging (although you can still find me on Instagram @lisa.poblenz).  I’m coming off a number of complicated sewing projects (Refashioners 2016–which you’ll get to see in the not-too-distant future, bathing suit sewing, jeans, etc.), and it’s time to regroup, create some new garments, and do family stuff.  I don’t know about you, but when I finish a big batch of projects, I feel a little discombobulated for a while until I figure out what direction I’m going to pursue next and get going down that road.

I finished one wonderfully quick project on Wednesday, however–a Deer and Doe Datura Blouse.

Deer and Doe Datura Blouse

Deer and Doe Datura Blouse

I’m finding that while I am most drawn to bright colors and fun prints, I need a few neutral garments to wear with the fun and crazy stuff.  So, to test out this pattern, I chose the most basic view and made it up in a white linen-look fabric from Joann’s that I’ve had forever, and a khaki linen that a good friend gave me.  I also took the opportunity to use some vintage buttons from my mother-in-law.

Deer and Doe Datura Blouse

Before beginning, I measured myself to see how high the dart should sit on my body and then checked it on the flat pattern.  It seemed perfect, so other than grading up a size for the waist and hip, I used the pattern as it was.  There were a few tricky parts, mainly having to do with sewing together the shoulders, but once I weathered those, it was a quick sew.  (I used Part 1 of this sew-along to help me out, in case you are considering making this top as well.)  The only potential issue is that the neckline seems to gape just a bit, but I’m going to wash and wear the shirt a few times before I decide if I need to deal with that in any future versions.  They’ve updated the pattern since I bought this one, so maybe they fixed that.  I’m not sure.

Deer and Doe Datura Blouse

Deer and Doe Datura Blouse

Deer and Doe Datura Blouse

(Thanks to my Instagram Husband for taking these pictures of me!)

Expect future versions of this, though.  I want to try the one with the triangle cutouts next…and in crazy fabric.  One neutral garment at a time is about all I can handle!  😉

Deer and Doe Datura Blouse

Deer and Doe Datura Blouse

Do you ever wish you could sew at super speed?  I’ve never really had a handle on my summer wardrobe, but after sewing for a few years, and thinking seriously about what I actually wear (rather than just what I like to look at in fashion, which are often two very different things), I think I’m getting closer to the essence of how I like to dress in summer.  And now I want to sew it all up!!!!  I’ve been stocking up on fabric, but I can’t yet sew at lighting speed or fit garments to myself with shocking perfection.  Alas, my reach exceeds my grasp (but I think they are getting closer!).  Ah, sewing problems!  Ha!

Well, have a great July.  I look forward to more writing and talking with you in August.  We’ll find out then if I spent my time sewing or not!  😉

Recommendations

  • This Piped Floral Shirt Dress from Making It Well is amazing.  I’ll have to pick up some tips from Jo when I finally dive into the wonderful world of shirt dresses.
  • I just have to recommend The Great British Sewing Bee.  As much as I love Project Runway, sometimes it’s just so…ruthless!  The GBSB has a much kinder tone as well as an educational one.  I’ve only watched Season/Series 1 in its entirety, but Series 4 is on now!  You can look at the show’s website here.
  • If you are in the greater Boston area, I highly recommend the magazine edibleBOSTON.  If you aren’t in greater Boston, you may have an edible magazine covering an area near you.  edibleBOSTON is a fun way to learn about farmers, restaurants, small batch food makers, and other foodie things in your locale.  Magazines are free from subscribing businesses and come out quarterly.  You can also read issues online.
  • Aaannnddd…..we’re TOTALLY making this spaghetti and meatballs recipe this summer!

Esme Top from Everyday Style by Lotta Jansdotter

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How are you?  I hope, if you are in the Northern Hemisphere, that spring has arrived.  Spring is trying to happen here, but it’s still a little cold.  Despite that, I’ve got warmer days on my mind, and after some complicated projects just finished and several other tricky ones in progress, I needed a simple, fast, and summery pattern.  I found just the right thing in Lotta Jansdotter’s new book Everyday Style.  It seemed like just the right thing to go with the lovely pink voile I got at Pintuck & Purl when they opened.

Esme Top from Everyday Style by Lotta Jansdotter

I made Variation 2 with the three-quarter length sleeves in a size large.  My only regret (and I find it equally annoying and funny that I did this) is that I didn’t measure the back pattern piece to see if it would need a broad-back adjustment.  The shirt turned out to be quite comfortable, but if I had checked ahead of time, I would have done a broad-back adjustment and it would have been even more comfortable.  After all my recent blog posts about broad-back adjustments (here and here), I didn’t even check.

Esme Top from Everyday Style by Lotta Jansdotter

 

Esme Top from Everyday Style by Lotta Jansdotter

Ironically enough, I did check the dart height, and that turned out to be fine.  Thankfully, there is good ease in this pattern, and it’s still wearable.

Esme Top from Everyday Style by Lotta Jansdotter

Living in New England where the weather changes several times throughout the day, I’m looking forward to having this for summer when a breeze springs up or the air gets cooler in the evening.

Esme Top from Everyday Style by Lotta Jansdotter

The Esme top gets my stamp of approval as a quick and simple make, especially since there are numerous variations if you want to change things up a bit.

Before we get to the recommendations,  I wanted to mention Me-Made-May 2016 one more time.  I’m participating because I really enjoyed it last year.  Here is my pledge:

‘I, Lisa of patternandbranch.wordpress.com and @lisa.poblenz, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’16. I endeavour to wear at least one me-made garment each day for the duration of May 2016. I will try not to repeat any articles of clothing within a single week and I’ll try to wear at least two me-made things together at least once a week.’

I decided that this year I wasn’t going to worry about daily photos, so I won’t be doing weekly outfit round-ups on the blog.  You may see a few photos if you follow me on Instagram, but my focus for this year is the challenge itself.  The only downside so far is that I might forget what I wore earlier in the week without the photos to remind me!  😉  Check out Zoe’s blog for more information on this year’s Me-Made-May.

Recommendations

  • OK, my friends!  It’s nearly time for one of my FAVORITE events of the year:  BRIMFIELD ANTIQUE SHOW!  Brimfield is the largest outdoor antique show/market in the US.  It takes place three times a year in the town of Brimfield, MA and people come from all over the country (and the world) to shop for antiques, upcycled antiques, and unique materials for creating.  This year, for the very first time, I know one of the vendors!  My friend Laurel, of Retromat Vintage is going to be at Booth 22 of New England Motel, which is one of my favorite fields.  She sells great vintage items.  I’m always really impressed by her clothing, but she has much more than that.  If you go to Brimfield, stop by and show her some love.
  • Have you ever tried a magnetic pincushion?  After buying more pins awhile ago, my little pin jar was full and hard to use, so I bought a Zirkel magnetic pincushion at Pintuck & Purl.  I missed the main selling point until I got home and started using it.  If you drop your pins in the middle of the square magnet, it fans them out around the edges in a circular pattern.  It’s so cool and fun to use!  I knew I would like it, but I had no idea I would like it this much.  Here’s a link to a 14 second video that shows how it works.
  • I’ve mentioned them before, but I think it’s time to officially recommend to you The Curvy Sewing Collective.  This is a great site for so many things!  I find myself returning to it frequently to read their helpful tutorials, pattern reviews, and to look at the great projects from their contributors.  This site also gets two thumbs up for body positivity.  We can all use that!
  • Finally, the Batman vs. Superman trailer…reimagined by kids:

Tiger Shirt!!!! Simplicity 1538 Perfected

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I’m so excited to share my latest project with you today.  I LOVE this shirt.  There are two reasons I love it so much.  The first is this awesome Cotton + Steel pink tiger fabric.  The second is the fit!

Simplicity 1538

Ping of Peneloping was my inspiration for this project.  Her tiger shirt is amazing (as is everything she makes), and it set me on the quest for my own tiger shirt.

You may remember my first attempt at this pattern, made from a vintage sheet.  I really loved that shirt.  It was beautiful, except for being too tight across the back.

Simplicity 1538

Simplicity 1538

I also realized, in trying it on before making this one, that the darts were slightly too high.  Luckily, I had just learned both how to do a broad back adjustment AND how to lower darts.  After doing both of these things to this pattern, I think I may have found my perfect casual button-down…and I have worn it a billion times since making it.  I’m actually afraid of wearing it out.

This post is going to get a bit technical in the hopes that it might help someone else out there.  I won’t go into lowering a bust dart because The Curvy Sewing Collective blog just did an excellent post on this.  You can find that here.

I will, however, show you pictures of the major broad back adjustment I did in case anyone else is working on learning how to do this.  I showed how I did this on a princess-seam shirt in this post.  Today’s shirt, Simplicity 1538 does not have princess seams, but does have a yoke in the back.

Simplicity 1538

Simplicity 1538

Now is the time to skim if you don’t care about the technical aspects of this project.

As before, I used the information in The Perfect Fit, part of The Singer Sewing Reference Library.

Singer Sewing Reference Library:  The Perfect Fit

Because I knew my back measurement, I could measure the pattern to see how much width + ease I needed to make the shirt comfortable when sewn up.  The pattern was 15 inches across the back.  I needed 17 1/4-17 3/4 inches in order for this to be comfortable on me.  (I mention how I measured for this in this post.)  This meant I had to add 1 1/8-1 3/8 inches to this pattern piece (since it only represents half of the back).  I decided I would try adding 1 1/4 inches with a major broad back adjustment (rather than a minor adjustment, which just adds a little width to the back armhole curve).

Major Broad Back Adjustment on Simplicity 1538

Here are my pieces before alteration:

Major Broad Back Adjustment on Simplicity 1538

I have a full yoke piece and a half bottom back piece.  I folded the yoke in half so that the edges of each side could be adjusted simultaneously (and hopefully identically).  You’ll see that my yoke is narrower than the back bottom piece.  That’s because there is a little bit of gathering below the yoke on the center back.  As the shirt is sewn, they become the same width.

For the major adjustment, I taped the yoke to the bottom piece of the back so I could work on them as one.  I made sure to overlap them by 5/8 inch to account for seam allowance.

Major Broad Back Adjustment on Simplicity 1538

Then I drew a line from the middle of the shoulder seam down to the waist and parallel to the grainline.  (I’m more or less quoting from the book, but since you may not be able to read the picture in the book, hopefully this will be helpful.)

Major Broad Back Adjustment on Simplicity 1538

 Next I drew two horizontal lines perpendicular to the one I had just drawn.  Line number one went from the middle of the armhole over to my first (vertical) line and line number two went from about 1 inch below the armhole to my vertical line.  Since line number one coincided with where the yoke joins, you can’t see it, but I’m pointing to the two new lines with my fingers in the picture below.

IMG_6Major Broad Back Adjustment on Simplicity 1538967

 Next, cut out along the lines you just drew so it looks like this:

Major Broad Back Adjustment on Simplicity 1538

 That little ‘almost rectangle’ you have is what you will slide out the amount you need for that half of your shirt (so, it’s half the total amount you need across your back).  In my case, I slid that piece over 1 1/4 inches.  The book notes that the maximum you should slide it out for sizes smaller than 16 is 1 inch.  For 16 and up, you can slide it a maximum of 1 1/2 inches.  Since I had cut a 16 at the bust and an 18 at the waist and hips, this worked for me, and would give me a total amount of 2 1/2 inches across my whole back when the shirt was cut out.

Once you slide that piece out the amount you need, place some paper beneath it and tape it down.  It helps if the paper extends out beyond the edges of your pattern by the armhole and side seam since you will have to redraw those areas now.

I found this part kind of tricky.  I felt like I was making it up as I went along, but here is what I did.  I used my curved ruler to redraw the seamline itself, and then I added my seam allowance in afterward.  I just sort of slid the ruler around until it seemed right.

Major Broad Back Adjustment on Simplicity 1538

Major Broad Back Adjustment on Simplicity 1538

I also had to redraw the area below the armhole, blending the armhole into the side seam.  Again, I felt like I didn’t know what I was doing, so I took my best guess.  Then I cut out my altered pattern pieces (back bottom and yoke).

Major Broad Back Adjustment on Simplicity 1538

Major Broad Back Adjustment on Simplicity 1538

Because my yoke piece was actually a full piece that I had folded in half to do my alterations on, I had to make sure that I had the correct and identical alterations on both edges.  Don’t forget to move any markings (like notches and dots) to an equivalent place on your altered pattern pieces.

A really great thing about this alteration is that it doesn’t change the length of the shoulder seam.  If it did, I would have to adjust the front shoulder seam as well.  The length of that seamline wasn’t my problem, and neither was the size I had chosen.  The width of the shoulders in the back was the issue (and one I also have with store-bought clothing in woven fabrics).  This alteration completely fixed that, and now the shirt is wonderfully comfortable across my shoulders.

Simplicity 1538

The other thing that I did was to lower the front dart by an inch.  I found my information for how to do that in The Perfect Fit as well.  As I mentioned above, The Curvy Sewing Collective did a great tutorial on this very thing.  If you find that dart height is an issue for you, you should check out that post.

Even thought I’m not going into the details, I will show you how my front pattern piece looked after I moved the dart down.

Lowering a bust dart on Simplicity 1538

Lowering a bust dart on Simplicity 1538

I’m glad I didn’t go any lower, and I was a little nervous that the inch had been too much, but after wearing the shirt often, I think it turned out great.

Simplicity 1538

Technical details now finished.  Time for pretty pictures!!!

We found the best background for these shots, and it was actually sunny, too.  All that color + sunshine makes me happy.

Simplicity 1538

Simplicity 1538

Simplicity 1538

And one little fabric and topstitching close-up.  Love those tigers!

Simplicity 1538

Wow!  That was the most technical post I’ve written in a long time (or ever?).  How about some fun?

Recommendations:

  • I’ve got another podcast for you!  Now that I’m out of school, I’m discovering that history is interesting.  😉  I can see how valuable it is to know the past because then you understand why things are the way they are today and how you can avoid the mistakes of the past (hopefully).  It’s also just interesting.  I have long loved “Stuff You Missed in History Class”, but now I have to add “The History of English Podcast” to my list as well.  I realized I was really into it when I went back to episode one and started binge-listening.  It’s not about technical things like grammar, but more a broad history lesson about how languages are related and how the English of today came to be.
  • Have you heard about Me Made May?  If you are a seamstress/stitcher/sewist you should check it out.  It’s a personal pledge to wear your handmades throughout May.  You can challenge yourself to wear one for the month, one every day, or all handmade all month.  It’s whatever you choose.  I participated last year and loved it, and I’m planning on doing it again this year.
  • One of my librarian friends recommended the movie “The Woman in Gold” to me.  (Thanks, Laura!)  It’s the story of one of Gustav Klimt’s most famous paintings, the family it belonged to, and justice long after a wrong had been committed.  Here is the trailer: