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Megan Nielsen Protea Capsule Wardrobe Pattern: My Top and Dress Tester Photos

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Megan Nielsen Protea Capsule Wardrobe Pattern:  My Top and Dress Tester Photos

Hello, friends! And welcome back to the blog. After taking the summer off, I’m ready to get back to writing about sewing, knitting, photography, and other fun creative endeavors. I hope you had a good last few months as well.

My “To Blog” list is pretty long, but I’m actually going to start with a more recent project. I was a tester for Megan Nielsen’s latest pattern, the Protea Capsule Wardrobe. I went through two rounds of testing as the pattern grew from a few views to the many views you see now. In order to be a tester, I signed up to her list and sent in my measurements. They cycle through their list and contact people with a good range of measurements, and then e-mail you when they have a pattern for testing to see if you are interested. You get to see the line drawings and description of the pattern as well as the deadline and what they need from you, and then you can say yes or no. This is a volunteer position, so it’s your responsibility to get your materials together for the project. You don’t have to blog the results or put it out on social media, but since I will really and truly forget the details of my projects if I don’t blog them, I wanted to share my tester versions, and hopefully give you a look at the pattern in its developmental stages.

As the pattern was released, the company offered testers the option of a free Protea Capsule Wardrobe pattern in print or PDF. I chose print, but still had to pay shipping, and I’m currently waiting for it to arrive. I don’t often test patterns since I have so many of my own projects that I want to make, and Megan Nielsen is the only company I have tested for (unless I’m forgetting…but I think that’s right). The process was a little different years ago, but I have always been impressed with the freedom and flexibility this company gives you in testing. So! Let’s get to the actual garments. Just remember…these are versions that came out before the new and shiny final pattern, so some things have changed a bit.

Test #1: Protea Blouse

Megan Nielsen Protea Top and Dress Tester Photos

Here is the first line drawing we were sent back in January. I chose to make the square-neck blouse out of a striped cotton seersucker I bought at Field’s Fabrics in Holland, MI in summer 2021.

Megan Nielsen Protea Top and Dress Tester Photos
front

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Megan Nielsen Protea Top and Dress Tester Photos
back

I love the general style of this blouse and have worn it all summer long. I love that it is loose and boxy and I didn’t have to make a broad back adjustment.

Megan Nielsen Protea Top and Dress Tester Photos

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Megan Nielsen Protea Top and Dress Tester Photos

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Megan Nielsen Protea Top and Dress Tester Photos

It is a little cropped and lifts up when I raise my arms, so if I made it again, I would consider lengthening it just a little and trying out adding a gusset to the underarm with directions I found in Bernadette Banner’s new book: Make, Sew and Mend: Traditional Techniques to Sustainably Maintain and Refashion Your Clothes. I made an 18 at the bust and a 20 at the waist and hip. I think I used the width of the 20 for the sleeve, too.

Test #2: Protea Capsule Wardrobe Tiered Dress

Megan Nielsen Protea Top and Dress Tester Photos

When the option to test the next version of the pattern came along in May, I wasn’t quite sure that I would have the time, but I really liked the look of the tiered dress with a square neck and flutter sleeves. I found some fabric in my stash and decided that I could make it if I applied myself!

I chose to make this dress in a cotton double gauze from Joann, also from the summer of 2021. I didn’t have quite enough fabric. What I did have was a little narrower than the recommended 60″ and I only had four yards instead of the 4 3/8 I should have had, but I decided to do my best to make it work. In the end, I mostly made it. I went back and bought a few fat quarters of quilting cotton in the same pastel purple to cut my pockets out of. That fabric requirement was pretty much spot on.

Megan Nielsen Protea Top and Dress Tester Photos

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Megan Nielsen Protea Top and Dress Tester Photos

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Megan Nielsen Protea Top and Dress Tester Photos

I made the dress with a size 18 bust and 20 waist and hip without the drawstring. I didn’t veer too far from the directions except that I hemmed my sleeves with bias tape instead of turning the hem in twice, and gathered my skirt tiers using a zigzag over a string instead of sewing two parallel lines of stitching (a technique I picked up from another Megan Nielsen pattern). I haven’t seen the final version yet to know what choices they made for those parts of the pattern instructions.

I felt a little bit different about this dress when I finished it than I did the top. I love positive ease, and this dress has LOTS of it. It was a bit much even for me.

Megan Nielsen Protea Top and Dress Tester Photos

Unless you are looking for a completely unrestrictive dress, I like it a lot better with something pulling the waist in just a little. I tried pinning the drawstring casing on, but I wasn’t a fan.

Megan Nielsen Protea Top and Dress Tester Photos
waist casing pinned on…nope

The drawstring casing for the dress in this version of the pattern used the same pattern piece as the waistband for the skirt. It’s a clever idea that reduces the number of pattern pieces, but I don’t actually like it on the dress. It’s really wide and I didn’t like how it looked. I also didn’t like the dress without something to pull in the waist a little, so I put the finished dress to the side for a bit to think it over. In the end, what I did was to make two ties out of some single fold bias tape I had that matched my fabric.

Megan Nielsen Protea Top and Dress Tester Photos

I sewed them on to the outside, but if I were planning on adding ties from the start, I would have sewn them into the side seams at the waist.

Megan Nielsen Protea Top and Dress Tester Photos

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Megan Nielsen Protea Top and Dress Tester Photos

This allows you to gather the waist in as much or as little as you like. There is a bit of fabric that gathers under the ties, but it really isn’t bulky. I tie mine just tight enough to get a little waist definition, but still loose enough not to feel restricted.

Megan Nielsen Protea Top and Dress Tester Photos

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Megan Nielsen Protea Top and Dress Tester Photos

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Megan Nielsen Protea Top and Dress Tester Photos

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Megan Nielsen Protea Top and Dress Tester Photos

For me this takes the dress from something I didn’t like at all to something I love. It’s amazing what a little tweak can do.

Overall Thoughts

Seeing the final pattern, I like it a lot. You don’t often see an indie brand bring out a capsule wardrobe-type pattern. The Big 4 do it (I’ve seen a lot from Butterick), but not always indie brands. Since indie patterns can be so expensive, this is a good value for your money, and it’s simple enough to sew and has such clear instructions that even a beginner could tackle it. You get some good mix and match options with the sleeves and necklines so that you could easily sew a lot of different-looking garments from this one pattern. I like it stylistically, as well, except for the dress drawstring. Personally, I’m really into the square neck, flutter sleeves, and tiered skirts. I don’t often return to patterns I have already made since I love trying new ones, but before summer started to wane, I was contemplating more of the square-necked tops, so I could see revisiting this one and trying out any of the views. I like them all.

Currently making…

Since I finished pattern testing, I have made a few other garments, and I entered both a sewing and a knitting project in the Topsfield Fair in Topsfield, MA for the first time ever, so we’ll see how that goes! I submitted my Patagonia inspired vest and my Arrowhead Cardigan which were both a lot of work and took a lot of brainpower!

On my sewing table, I have a Fibre Mood Norma Blouse cut out of some beautiful linen and I have plans to cut out two cropped Closet Core Kalle Shirts in different colorways of a fun tiger print lawn.

I’m knitting a Weekender Light sweater from Drea Renee Knits in the best Shetland wool from Jamieson & Smith and I’m also knitting a Drea Renee Knits Moonwake Cowl in some soft washable yarn.

Also…I found some sandals with wooden bases at the thrift store that I have started stripping down to try making into sandals I like, but it’s slow going with the other projects, and…you know…actually taking care of my family, ha ha.

I’m pretty inspired and excited about making all the things at the moment. I didn’t sew a ton over the summer, so it feels good to get back to it. And I have a million projects to bring to the blog (some from last winter/spring–yikes!), so I look forward to meeting you back here soon. Happy weekend!

Fibre Mood Lola Top + Life Lessons from Sewing

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Fibre Mood Lola Top + Life Lessons from Sewing

Today’s project is my last one of the summer. There is one other I have to share from the warm season, but it’s a bit more transitional, so this one is up first! This is the Lola Top from the tenth issue of Fibre Mood magazine, a sewing magazine out of Belgium.

Fibre Mood Lola Top
Fibre Mood Lola Top
Fibre Mood Lola Top

This issue came out in 2020 with so many good summer patterns, that I had to order it. It took what felt like ages to get here, but it was worth it! It’s only this year, at the end of summer 2021 that I have gotten around to making any of these patterns.

Fibre Mood Lola Top

I approached the sewing of this top with a certain level of arrogance. I don’t like arrogance in others, and I try to stamp it out in myself, but something set me off, and I admit that I started sewing this project with a little bit of arrogance. Maybe it was having to add seam allowances, some of which were one size and some another, sometimes not even a size used in American sewing (1/6″??!!). That annoyed me, so I added 5/8″ to all my seams and 1.25″ to my hems and moved on. And the sizing between the magazine and the online directions was confusing, too–EU/US/UK–you had to figure out what size you were in inches (for me, at least), and find your US size, but make sure you traced your EU size from the magazine. At that point, I made the mistake of thinking I knew better than the pattern.

Fibre Mood Lola Top
Fibre Mood Lola Top

In general, I like to trust the pattern. I know the designer has worked hard on their directions, and I like to go on autopilot and sew through those directions after having done the work of tracing, adjusting the flat pattern, and cutting out my fabric. Follow the steps in the pattern, and you almost always get a great garment. But that request for a 1/6″ seam allowance really threw me.

Then there were a few confusing parts in step 3, which made me doubt the directions even more. Arrogance and frustration surged ahead, until I started to question all the directions!

But then…I started to figure things out…and then I saw that the directions were good…I just wasn’t used to them yet. I did need to trust the pattern. It was, in fact, trustworthy, but I hadn’t given it a real chance. Feels like there might be a life lesson or two buried in all of this. 😉

Fibre Mood Lola Top

Luckily, I managed to get rid of my pride and arrogance once I settled into sewing this pattern, and in the end, it came out great.

Fibre Mood Lola Top

That’s not to say there wasn’t an issue or two. Piece number 9, the bias strip for finishing the armhole, should be an inch or two longer for my size (US 16/UK 20/EU 48 bust and US 18/UK 22/EU 50 hip). Luckily I used some silk bias tape I had made for another project, and I had extra, since I originally cut my strips to the size of piece 9, and they were too short.

Fibre Mood Lola Top

Piece number 5, the center back piece, should also be 1.5″ taller to cover your bra band. I added in some decorative ribbon to bridge the gap, but if I made this again, I would lengthen that piece.

Fibre Mood Lola Top
I found this ribbon in my stash, and it was a perfect match!
Fibre Mood Lola Top
Fibre Mood Lola Top

Once I got going, though, I really enjoyed making this. I was able to make most of it on a day that I unexpectedly had several hours to sew. I can’t remember the last time that happened! I put on some music and got to it! I was also really excited about this fabric. I’m sorry to say that I have often thought of Joann Fabrics as “the place fabric goes to die”. In the past, they have sometimes had great prints on poor quality cloth, but in recent years, they have started bringing in some better options. This 100% cotton seersucker gingham was from their POP! line for kids. I have found a couple of exciting fabrics (for me) in this line. I love the color and quality of this seersucker, and looking at it while sewing just made me more excited to wear it.

Fibre Mood Lola Top

The pattern is a really interesting, unique design. I managed to finish this project a few days before fall officially started, when the weather was beautiful and warm without being hot. I immediately threw it in the washer to get the sewing marker out, and then ironed it and wore it as soon as I could! I love it! It feels really unique and fun, which is generally how I want my clothes to feel.

So, at the end of this pattern, I can say I did learn a sewing lesson. Trust the pattern until you find out you can’t, and approach your sewing practice with humility. I guess there is a life lesson there, because I think you should also approach life with humility. So there you go–sewing really is more than just a pleasant way to pass the time–it’s also occasionally a font of wisdom. 😉

P.S. Here are a few outtakes for you. My Mom sent us this blonde wig for fun and we clipped on some rainbow hair–it’s a makeover! Haha.

Fibre Mood Lola Top
Fibre Mood Lola Top

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

Jalie Yoko/Émilie Square Roll-Neck Tops

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Jalie Yoko/Émilie Square Roll-Neck Tops

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

Jalie Yoko/Émilie Square Roll-Neck Tops

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

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

Jalie Yoko/Émilie Square Roll-Neck Tops

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

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

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

Jalie Yoko/Émilie Square Roll-Neck Tops

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

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

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

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

Jalie Yoko/Émilie Square Roll-Neck Tops

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

Jalie Yoko/Émilie Square Roll-Neck Tops

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

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

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

Jalie Yoko/Émilie Square Roll-Neck Tops

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

Fibre Mood Victoria Blouse in Cotton Swiss Dot Voile

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Fibre Mood Victoria Blouse in Cotton Swiss Dot Voile

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

Fibre Mood Victoria Blouse in Cotton Swiss Dot Voile

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

Fibre Mood Victoria Blouse in Cotton Swiss Dot Voile

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

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

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

Fibre Mood Victoria Blouse in Cotton Swiss Dot Voile

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fibre Mood Victoria Blouse in Cotton Swiss Dot Voile

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

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

Some possible changes I would consider making next time:

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

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

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

Fibre Mood Victoria Blouse in Cotton Swiss Dot Voile

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

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

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

Fibre Mood Victoria Blouse in Cotton Swiss Dot Voile

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

Simplicity 4111 (Built by Wendy) Top in “Winged” Fabric

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Simplicity 4111 (Built by Wendy) Top in “Winged” Fabric

I am so glad to be here sharing sewing projects with you again!  It feels like it’s been forever since I published a sewing project post!  Today’s was almost without photos of the garment in action, because I couldn’t find the pictures I had taken of the shirt while I was wearing it.  Oh, blog photography!  It’s definitely the most challenging part of blogging for me.

Simplicity 4111 in "Winged" Fabric

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Simplicity 4111 in "Winged" Fabric

Today I want to talk about Simplicity 4111, a pattern that is out of print but, I would argue, still in style.  This pattern is a Built by Wendy pattern (although the line is technically called “Built by You”), a collaboration between designer Wendy Mullin and Simplicity.  I’ve had this pattern for ages, since before I started sewing regularly, but haven’t made it until now.  I paired it with a fabric I’ve also had for some time:  “Aves Chatter Dim” from the “Winged” collection by Bonnie Christine for Art Gallery Fabrics, bought a few years ago at The Material Girls in Dearborn, MI.  Originally I planned to make a button up shirt with it (because most woven cotton fabric looks like it would make a good button up shirt to me, actually), but in the end, I think this was a better use for it.

Simplicity 4111 in "Winged" Fabric

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Simplicity 4111 in "Winged" Fabric

After measuring the flat pattern, I determined that I wouldn’t need a broad back adjustment.  You can bet I was pretty thrilled, albeit skeptical about that.  I cut a size 16 bust, 18 waist, and 20 hip, and chose to make View B with long sleeves.  I wasn’t sure where the elastic that is supposed to sit under the bust would hit, but I decided to just go for it.

Simplicity 4111 in "Winged" Fabric

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Simplicity 4111 in "Winged" Fabric

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Simplicity 4111 in "Winged" Fabric

It is so interesting that you can both love and not love how a pattern turns out.  This shirt in this fabric is so, so beautiful to me.  I love it.  However…I really did need that broad back adjustment (next time!) and the under-bust elastic is a little high for me, giving the shirt a curious bust-minimizing effect.  To be fair, this is the look on the pattern envelope, but I would prefer the elastic a little lower.  After running it by my friends at Sip & Stitch, this is what I think I need to adjust for next time:  do my normal major broad back adjustment for comfort and lower the front elastic by an inch or so.  Thanks (again!) to Stacy, who really knows her stuff when it comes to fitting and pattern drafting.

Simplicity 4111 in "Winged" Fabric

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Simplicity 4111 in "Winged" Fabric

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Simplicity 4111 in "Winged" Fabric

Here are a few detail shots:

Simplicity 4111 in "Winged" Fabric

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Simplicity 4111 in "Winged" Fabric

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Simplicity 4111 in "Winged" Fabric

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Simplicity 4111 in "Winged" Fabric

So, I kind of want to make this again in the next few months while simultaneously regretting that I don’t love the fit on the beautiful shirt that I have.  I’m going to try to wear it anyway.  What sort of fabric should I use for round two?!  (I love planning projects!!!)

After making this, I got on a little bit of a Built by Wendy kick and looked up Wendy Mullin, her work, and her patterns and books, and I have to say that a number of her patterns are ones that I really like.  Thanks to this rabbit hole, I purchased two of her patterns: Simplicity 3966 on Etsy and Simplicity 4109 on eBay.  Maybe 3966 would make a good spring jacket and 4109 could be the basis of a wool shirt jacket?  Both of these and their many possibilities are currently kicking around in my head.  If/When I use them, I will report back.  🙂

Recommendations

  • Thanks to the Wednesday Weekly blog post from Helen’s Closet, I am finding so many new things!  One I am really excited about is the free Stash Shrinker Excel file from SewJourners that you can use to help you sew the fabric you already have before buying more.  I have so much good fabric in my stash, but I get distracted by all the new and pretty things that come along and sometimes my good buys of yesterday languish.  I’m hoping this will help me bring that fabric goodness to my closet instead of losing it in my fabric cabinet.  😉
  • Since we were talking about Built by Wendy, did you know she has four instructional sewing books?  I currently have them checked out of the library.  I just love flipping through craft and cook books.  In case you want to check them out, too, they are:  Sew U, Sew U Homestretch, Sew U Dresses, and Sew U Coats and Jackets.  They each come with several patterns.  You can also find them used at various spots online.
  • Here’s a fun time-waster for you!  The Akinator will guess any movie or literary character you can think of (although I have tricked him a few times!).  Give it a try.  It’s pretty amazing.  Just make sure to check the “under 13” option if you are using the site with kids.
  • Here is a sport I never even imagined!  Welcome to the world of cycle-ball:

 

 

McCall’s 6848 Top (Again!) in Watercolor Rayon

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McCall’s 6848 Top (Again!) in Watercolor Rayon

I feel like the title of my post makes me sound like I’m rolling my eyes because I’m sick of this pattern, when actually the opposite is true.  I love it!  This simple shirt is the meeting of this beloved pattern and the remnants of some beautiful fabric.  This is McCall’s 6848 which I also made in black silk crepe de chine, and it’s actually a pajama pattern!  In a fabric with some drape, however, like this watercolor rayon, left over from my Hannah Dress, this pattern also makes a perfect drapey shirt.

McCall's 6848 Top in Watercolor Rayon

McCall’s 6848 comes together quickly and easily with only three pattern pieces, one of which is the bias neck binding.  It’s a quick sew and a great palette cleanser after a more complicated project like the Hannah Dress or Thurlow Shorts.

McCall's 6848 Top in Watercolor Rayon

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McCall's 6848 Top in Watercolor Rayon

I didn’t do anything different on this iteration of the shirt.  Like last time, I used French seams to finish the insides and double turned hems on the bottom and armholes.  The rayon I used is a little harder to work with than the silk crepe de chine was, but it’s so soft and beautiful that it makes up for it.  It was also nice to compare the two fabric types on the same pattern.  So far, crepe de chine is my preference to work with–both are excellent to wear.

McCall's 6848 Top in Watercolor Rayon

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McCall's 6848 Top in Watercolor Rayon

This was one of my 2017 Summer Sewing projects.  I only have one more of those to blog, and then I’m all caught up with summer.  😉  It all works out, though, because I’m planning to slow down a little for fall and experiment with various areas of sewing that I’ve been interested in.  We’ll see how that all works out.

McCall's 6848 Top in Watercolor Rayon

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McCall's 6848 Top in Watercolor Rayon

I highly recommend this pattern to anyone looking for a quick and easy project that will make a great top for every day (or pajamas) in the right fabric.

McCall's 6848 Top in Watercolor Rayon

Recommendations

    • Mary of Birch Dye Works is really knocking it out of the park with all the cool yarn she has been dying lately.  Her color names are pretty great, too.
    • I was reading the Oliver + S blog and Liesl pointed out all the creative quilting influences she found in the September issue of Vogue.  Check out her post here.
    • I love cheese so much, and I have to recommend brie to you.  I tried some brie with mushrooms at Costco, which combines two foods I absolutely love. (I can’t find it on their website to link to but, trust me, it was GOOD.  I wish I had bought some…)
    • Are you thinking about sewing skinny jeans?  Judith Dee compares three patterns on her vlog.

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.

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!