A few knit tops: M7019 & S1325

Knit tops are so fast and easy to whip up that I tend to never blog them. Plus, it’s gross, dark and rainy in Boston so I never want to take any photos. But I decided now is better than never and whipped out lots of photos last night. So, I apologize for awful photo quality (not a first on this blog!)

First up is McCalls 7019, which I’m quite proud to have chosen because I looked past the terrible top on the front of the envelope. Sorry, I just really don’t like this. Screen Shot 2014-12-16 at 6.07.50 PMI purchased the pattern specifically for View A/B.
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The first version was made with an Ella Moss cotton knit from Fabric Place Basement. Straight size 12 – no alterations.DSC_0466It’s not bad but it is a little long and I hated the neckline. I really should have noticed this from the cover photo where the neckline is pulling and not very attractive.
DSC_0473What I really love about this top are the side seams that have been moved forward. I have a tendency to fidget with clothing and with knit tops, I’m constantly wrangling with the fabric to make sure the seams are at the sides. I don’t do that with this top! I think it is also a more comfortable, soft and streamlined look from the front.
DSC_0496So I made a second version in a white monotone stripe knit from FabricMart. I scooped out the neckline using the Plantain pattern (love that neckline). Here you can see the forward seams a little bit better. I really like them a lot.
DSC_0477 DSC_0476I’ve been getting a lot of wear out of this top. It’s comfortable and white so it goes with most everything. Plus, I’m surprised how much I like the white on white stripes.
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Final Thoughts: Highly recommended pattern!

Next up is Simplicity 1325. I wanted just a plain, straightforward long-sleeved top and had this separates pattern in the stash.Screen Shot 2014-12-16 at 6.20.23 PMThe outfit on the front is just so darn cute!! Would I ever wear it like that? No. Will I ever make the dress/tunic? Probably not. The jacket is pretty cute. But I just had to buy it. You know the feeling :)

First version was made using a Christmas Reindeer themed knit. They’re out of the fabric now but here’s something similar. I’m a sucker for holiday printed knits like this.

The fit is pretty darn good. One thing I’ve started to notice about others T’s I’ve made is that the sleeve caps are too short – creating a pulling effect on the top of the arm and shoulder. Here you can see there is some curvature of the fabric pattern near the top of my arm but it’s actually pretty straight. And the shoulder seam extends to nearly the end of my shoulder (duh!). This makes the top much more comfortable than others in my wardrobe and more flattering too.

I scooped out the neckline again. Same as before, using the Deer & Doe Plantain as my guide.

DSC_0479 I made this top with a size 14 I believe. I don’t sew with Simplicity patterns as often as Vogue/McCalls/Butterick where I’m typically a size 12. I went with 14 based on the final garment measurements which had quite a bit of negative ease. Also, if you make this top please pay attention to HOW LONG the sleeves are drafted. It says right on the sleeve they are 4″ longer than normal so you can push them up for gathering at the wrist. DSC_0484IMG_2714Finally, I made a second top with this pattern. This time with a thinner, more drapey striped knit from Girl Charlee. (Sorry for my distracting neckline!)

DSC_0490Yea, I think the fit is pretty darn good. Stripe matching isn’t bad either :)
DSC_0491 DSC_0492So there you go, yea for knit tops! And in other news, my wonderful husband got me an early Christmas gift yesterday… So excited!! Just trying to think of a name for my new sewing friend!IMG_2726

FESA: Cozy Pajamas & Sweatshirt

Whelp, I’m two days late to the FESA party (Fall Essential Sew-Along), but in my defense, November was an unexpectedly chaotic month! I didn’t make it to the final round in the PR Sewing Bee, and I’m not surprised at all. Here’s my entry and if you read closely, you’ll note that I didn’t use the pattern we were suppose to use for the skirt. Eek! That is an obvious disqualification! This wasn’t my plan at all, but after I made the bodice I just really wanted to use the skirt portion from Butterick 5780 and honestly, I was EXHAUSTED. Sewing in a challenge like this is mentally, physically, and creativity draining. I can’t imagine doing this for more than 4 weeks. I am extremely proud of what I made during the three challenges though, they pushed me to try new things and take chances with creativity. Sometimes I forget to ‘think’ while sewing and just pick a pattern and fabric and GO. It was nice to slow down and let an idea develop. Plus deadlines make you SUPER productive :)

Here a pic of the dress I made, but if you want more info it is all on Pattern Review.Houndstooth CollageWhat I really want to show are three garments that have already been getting a lot of daily wear.  I wear flannel PJ pants around the house 90% of the fall/winter. Seriously. I’m wearing my polka-dot pair right now!

I drafted this 1-piece PJ pant from my favorite pair of L.L.Bean flannel PJ pants that were pilling like crazy. They had also shrunk a good 3-4 inches. I’ve never copied RTW but it wasn’t as easy as I expected based on blog explanations. Maybe I’m doing it wrong, but I found it difficult to accurately copy something while ensuring it was laying flat, hadn’t shrunk, you weren’t pulling on a edge etc. Luckily for something like loose PJ pants you have some wiggle room for error and they turned out all right!DSC_0400The only thing not so great is that the front crotch seam is too far forward, but it’s hardly noticeable.

DSC_0403DSC_0402I finished the waistbands by serging the elastic directly to the fabric then folding over and topstitching with a zig-zag stitch. As you can see, I made buttonholes before topstitching for the grosgrain ribbon waistbands. I secured the ribbon to the fabric in the back so I can’t accidentally pull it out.
DSC_0428And just because PJ’s also need a little flair, I added piping and a rectangular piece to the bottom. Yes, the fabric is wrinkled and already showing signs of pilling and shrinkage (despite 3-4 pre-washes)…I really wear these all the time!

Both of these flannel fabrics are from Fabric.com.
DSC_0429Second item is a raglan sweatshirt from M6992. I made view D shown below with contrast sleeves, piping at the shoulder seams, and the scooped hem.

Screen Shot 2014-12-02 at 9.05.43 PMI usually sew a size 12 in Big Four but I knew I wanted this to be for lounging so I cut a 14 (none of that fashion sweatshirting, sorry but I’m not into that trend!). No other changes to the pattern.
DSC_0406Generally, I’m really happy with how it turned out. My biggest complaint is that for about the first 30 minutes of wear I constantly tug it forward at the shoulders. I’m not sure if the shoulder darts need to be moved forward (I’ve started to notice my shoulders curve forward) or if I’m just uncomfortable in raglan sleeves. Looking at this picture from the side though, I think I could angle the dart forward because the end of my shoulder definitely sits in front of the end of the dart.
DSC_0407I added the piping because the gray tones weren’t quite the same and needed more of a break between the two.

DSC_0409The solid gray is a sweatshirt knit from Girl Charlee, and I really like the thickness and quality – much better than some of their other cotton knits. The chevron sweatshirt fabric is a remnant from Marcy Tilton - a beautiful fabric. I wish I had more! I like how subtle the chevron is yet still improved from normal locker-room gray sweatshirts.

It was only after I constructed the entire sweatshirt that I realized I didn’t have anything to bind the neckline and wristbands. The obvious choice was black because of the piping detail and of course I didn’t have any black knit. So I ordered this black rib knit from Nancy’s Notions. I didn’t read the description and was surprised when I opened my first tubular knit! And I ordered way too much of this fabric. Not sure what I was thinking. Oh well – I’m pretty sure black rib knit won’t go out of style :)
DSC_0405This sweatshirt is super comfortable! (once I get past the shoulder tug-of-war). I can definitely see myself making another from this pattern.

Yay for fall!

PR Sewing Bee Challenge #2: Upcycled Men’s Buttondown Shirts

I was lucky enough to pass to the next round of the Pattern Review Sewing Bee after I made my rosette skirt. Here’s the second challenge we received Monday morning:

The Project
Using Men’s Button-down Shirt(s), sew a garment for an adult.  We are keeping this round very open so you can explore your creative side and show us the possibilities. A photo of the original shirt or shirts will be one of the required photos, so be sure to take a photo before cutting apart.

You can use any pattern you like: commercial, free or self-drafted. Lining fabric (if needed) may be bought or used from stash. Any trims, zippers, buttons, elastics, cords may be purchased or used from stash. You can also use purchased accessories like belts, scarves, jewelry, shoes, bags to style your final garment. 

Please note that we need at least three photos for this round. At least one photo on a live model is recommended but not required.

1. Fabric of the original shirt(s) should be woven; embellishments may be any type of fabric.
2. Garment should be for adults.
3. Garment can be separates or a single piece which can be worn on its own.
4. Three photos are required. At-least one photo must be a photo of the shirt(s) before they are cut .
5. 1 or more shirts may be used (up to 5 any size). 
6. Entries must be submitted by 11:59 PM EST November 16th, 2014. 
7. Links to blogs are NOT allowed. Additional photos hosted on Flickr or similar websites ARE allowed.

Because I didn’t read the instructions carefully last time and had an issue with my skirt hem, I made sure to read these instructions were care. To me, the instructions indicated that you needed to make a full outfit, since if you made only 1 item (example a blouse) it wouldn’t adhere to rule #3 above. A blouse can’t be worn on its own without a bottom, right? Since I thought it was relatively clear, I didn’t bring it up in the challenge forum until I saw individual items popping up in the review gallery. Then it was clarified that it could be a top OR bottom OR dress OR whatever. Just a single garment. Anyway, I’m not writing this to complain (I didn’t even mention it in my submitted review) just to say that is why I made two garments instead of focusing on one with more detail.

I went through my process in more detail on Pattern Review, but just wanted to show my finished results here as well. These are my original shirts purchased from Marshalls: Original Shirts

And here is my finished outfit: PR Contest Outfit 2 PR Contest 2 OutfitSo I really love both pieces separately, although I don’t know whether I love them together. It looked much better in my mind this past week (isn’t that the truth!).

I’ll end up wearing the white blouse with jeans. I absolutely love how this turned out! It will fit extremely well into my daily wardrobe and has my favorite color bluePR White BlouseI’m especially happy with how it turned out given I didn’t use a pattern for most of the top! I made most of it just draping it on my dress form and hoping for the best. I did use a pattern for the sleeve caps because I have never drafted one and they scare me!
PR White Blouse 2 The collar of my new shirt is the collar stand from the purchased striped shirt. The cuffs were also harvested from the striped shirt.White Striped Blouse CollageI’m not much of a skirt person but I’m also happy with how the skirt came out. I used the red plaid shirt as accenting on the pockets and zipper.

And I have to say, I’m very happy with the fit! I didn’t make a muslin and this came out nearly perfectly! The pattern is this Burda skirt.
Corduroy Skirt CollageSo there you have it – a complete outfit upcycled from men’s button-up shirts! They made not have the most razzle-dazzle but both pieces are wearable and I count that as a win!

Waffle Patterns Reversible Hooded Vest

Two years ago I had to throw away my first black North Face puffy vest. I loved that thing SO MUCH. There were holes all over the place and feathers spilling out that I tried to remedy with packing tape! College thinking at it’s best :) Of course, it wasn’t until after I got rid of it that I realized how much I wore it. Outdoor vests are great. They keep you warm without being TOO warm, and your arms still have a full range of motion.

So, naturally, I decided to make one! I searched many many pattern companies and decided upon the Dropje Hooded Vest from Waffle Patterns. It had everything I was looking for, a hood, zipper and pockets. Done deal.

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Waffle Patterns are layered PDFs, so that you can print out the pattern with ONLY the size you plan to make or grade between. I printed out 38 & 40, although I made a straight size 38.  Yuki has included both the seam lines and the cutting lines in her patterns, which is great for alterations, but I found I really needed to pay attention so I didn’t cut off my seam allowances!

A layered PDF with ALL sizes – can you imagine cutting out your pattern with all those lines?!

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After selecting the sizes I wanted to print – much better!Screen Shot 2014-10-19 at 11.35.10 AMThen I decided to make the vest reversible. Primarily because I had a few vest ideas swimming around in my head and I thought, why not make both?!

So I used the front, back, side, and hood pieces to construct two separate vests. The solid gray is a sweatshirt fleece from Girl Charlee and the gray/white stripe is a wool/acrylic blend from the local Sewfisticated in Cambridge, MA. I used purchased black bias tape for  the edges.Dropje Vest_Reversible

The gray side has pockets as designed in the seam between the front and side piece. Since there is a side piece, the pockets are moved slightly forward compared to a typical side seam and are very accessible (much better than the side seams I put in my Minoru). I bound the pocket opening to give it stability. Dropje Vest_Gray_360

The wool side was a pain to make! The stripes follow the fabric’s bias, which was good because it gave the fabric stability while creating the chevron effect, i.e. I was able to cut the fabric on the grain. However, it was a mental puzzle to cut out the pieces so they made the chevron! Luckily the fabric was identical on both sides, because I needed to use both sides of the fabric to get the stripes going in opposite directions. Thank goodness I bought 4 yards of this fabric because I made a ton of mistakes cutting it out.

I hope you can see the chevron effect in the pictures. It is very subtle, but noticeable, in real life and unfortunately it gets a little lost in pictures.

My only regret is that I didn’t interface the entire wool side. The fabric isn’t tightly woven and I’m afraid it is going to get misshapen over time. I realized this after I started construction and I ended up interfacing just the zipper area, pockets, and the waistband.Dropje Vest_Striped_360

Because I wanted the chevron effect all around the vest, I had to cut out the back, waistband, and hood pieces as two and sew them together. I really like the effect though – how cool is the top of the hood?!Dropje Vest_Hood_Pocket_Details

Speaking of the hood, I haven’t seen one shaped like this before. The sides make a tube traveling up from the collar and then there is a piece for the top. It cups my head really well though! Much better than the hood of my minoru which falls down often.

I wanted to do something different for the wool pockets. These are patched on and the opening is bound primarily for design purposes. The wool is interfacing and lined with a stable black crepe I had in my stash.

Here is how I put together the two reversible sides. Note: This method only works because I knew I was going to bind the edges of the hood and armholes.

After both sides were constructed, I attached them together by means of a common waistband since I wanted the wool to be visible on both sides.


Then I basted the zipper onto the wool side and checked the placement. Finally I folded the right sides together, thus encasing the zipper, basted, and then sewed all layers together. I trimmed the edges and flipped it right-side out. IMG_1761Before binding together the hood, I reached into the vest and basted together the seam allowances of the waistband and at the neckline so make sure the two sides stayed together during ‘flipping’. After doing the binding, it was done! I totally made up this method on the fly – I’m happy it worked out :)

I’m really happy with how it turned out! The pattern was great and I’m excited to use Waffle Patterns again (I REALLY want to make this COAT). In terms of Indie pattern companies, they offer something unique and different that I haven’t seen before…which is a good business model :)   I’m also looking very eagerly at the Snowball dress and Caramel jacket (Yuki, the designer, is inspiring with plaids!).

Note: This is all my own opinion. I searched out and bought this pattern on my own with no outside influence.
Dropje Reversible Vest FrontDropje Reversible Vest BackDropje Reversible Vest Side
Happy November!