Friday, May 29, 2015

McCalls 7131 - gauchos, culottes, shorts!

Good morning (or afternoon) - I'm up early today and positively feisty after 6 hours of uninterruped sleep. Usually I wake up a couple times, maybe get up and read for a while. Sleeping through was great.

This is from McCalls spring release - wow, it got me right away.  I've only seen one version online, this beautiful midi-length version by Mimi G. It's so pretty, and I love her tropical print fabric. After seeing hers, I pulled out a print that I recently picked up for a loose maxi sundress (Hoffman Fabrics, from Fabric Mart). I think it's perfect for these pants.

So many options. I decided to go with View E, the longest one - I was thinking I could always shorten it, maybe to the midi-length of View C. But I won't - it makes great long pants. Gauchos? I think that views B and C could be called culottes. And how about those shorts - adorable. It would be so easy to make them a little longer, more a walking short length.

Such a great fit. I seldom tuck in a shirt with an elastic-waist bottom. But this waist is so nicely done, I really like how it looks. The waist band is 2" wide and features 4 lines of elastic in the back.

And the front is plain, no elastic.

It takes a little patience to insert four lines of elastic. And lots of small safety pins at hand really help. I started by inserting all four elastics as far as I could without causing any gathering.

Then I worked all four to the end of the casing - and kept using those pins! I was lucky - I used the elastic guide from the pattern and it was just right.

The pleats on the upper front are intended to be open and loose. But I liked how they looked when they were basted down. So I decided to sew them permanently with topstitching.

Some sewing notes:
  • I sewed a straight size 14, my usual size.
  • The hem is generous on this pattern, no need for additional length. I used a 1" hem with topstitching.
  • The crotch measured about 27", so I added 1" to the top of the front and back pieces, and added the extra inch to the top of the pocket pieces as well. I decided to finish the crotch with two lines of stitching, and I serged the allowance together to finish. By stretching the curves open while serging, I was able to get plenty of give in the curves without any clipping.

This is definitely getting sewn again!

Parting shot: My son and grandson, kindergarten graduation day at Lake Highland Preparatory School in Orlando. Joy.

I hope everyone has an enjoyable and safe weekend - Ciao! Coco

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Butterick 6024 Pintuck Blouse in summer white

Good morning!

I've decided I'm on a summer white roll...this is the first of several white tops I've been working on in the loft. Good timing on this one - I just got an email from McCall's extolling the virtues of summer whites, this pattern included!

This interesting little pattern has been hanging around in my stash for a looong time. It really took the right fabric to get me going. I recently found this lightweight, 59" wide cotton shirting at JoAnns, and I grabbed all that remained, about 4 yds. I love the alternate faggoting and embroidered lines. Something a little different from a woven stripe or eyelet. And the stripes are 1" apart - so convenient for doing pintucks and matching things! You can really see the fabric in this pic of the shoulder seam:

Of course I mixed things up: the back is from View A, the front from View C, and the sleeves from View B. They mix and match beautifully, no pattern issues at all. I admit I feel really trendy and a bit brave going with the long shirt tail back. But it's so cute!

Sewing notes:
  • Some reviewers found that the top runs large, and it sure does if sewn just as it comes. The Medium (12-14), my usual size, worked great as a starting point for me. Note that 'starting'...
  • To avoid a gaping neckline: I pinched out about 3/8" in the sides of the front neckline, slashed and flattened the change towards the lower armhole. It was such a small amount of fabric that I did not take any of the change into the shoulder.
  • To widen the shoulder: I added 1/2" to the inside edge of the shoulder. On the front, I carried the 1/2" all the way around the neckline. In the back, I cured the extra width into the original neckline, which gives it a little more curve.
  • To narrow the back: The back was way too wide for me - I took 1 1/4" out of the center back, top to bottom. And cut my fabric on the fold instead of with a seam. There's no curve in the seam, why add a seam...
  • To finish the sleeve: I added a 5/8" wide cuff, instead of using elastic in a self-faced casing. 

    I did not change the length at all!

I made one change that I sort of anticipated -  what about that pesky little notch in the center front of Views C and D? Ever notice how the corners of these notches tend to flop around, not stay up? Can't stand that. But I gave it a go, hoping to combat the flop with a well-interfaced placket. I really disliked the result! All I could see in my slightly sheer fabric was that placket...

There was plenty of room in the bodice to change it - I took out the placket and ran a 5/8" seam all the way down the front. Better...

The hem was pretty easy, especially since I hemmed the front and back separately! It's so much easier than trying to hem that curve at the side (and would not be an issue with the straight hem, as in Views B, C, and D). 

I am totally happy with this pattern! It's just fun and funky to wear.

Ciao! Coco

Friday, May 22, 2015

Grainline Studio Morris Blazer - the muslin is back

Edited August 25: I'm so mercurial! Right after I posted this in May, I decided to sideline it. I don't even remember what bothered me about it - I think maybe the fabric made my eyes wiggle. 

Anyway...I'm putting it back in the mix, because I've just cut out another Morris, for real this time, and I know it's nice to see what went into a muslin. 


The latest from Jen at Grainline Studio - a casual little blazer for wovens and stable knits. I had to give it a try. Jen's designs are so fresh, and her patterns are such a pleasure.

I wasn't sure that I really liked the front of the jacket, so a muslin was in order. I managed to cut all the main pieces from scraps of mid-weight (8 - 10 oz) cotton/lycra knit that I used for a maxi skirt. And I used mid-weight cotton/spandex jersey knit for my facings. The two fabrics work very well together and give this jacket a nice beefy feel without being heavy.

The main fabric I used is not the best choice, because it has 4-way stretch. A 2-way stretch would be so much easier to manage on these small pattern pieces.

There are now a lot of reviews of the blazer, and I'm so grateful for them. A number of sewists noted a tendency for the front fabric to sag in the area above the banded hem. The favored remedy seems to be topstitching along the front facing edge to stabilize the fabric. Hmmm. My knit fabric would only make it worse - so I decided to tweak the front in hopes of circumventing that sagging.

Basically I redrafted the dipped point in the hem, moving it back and up.

And I'm happy with the result.  In the end, I also topstitched along the facing line (more below), but primarily to keep the facing in place.

Some pics on Emile:

Other sewing notes:
  • I cut a straight size 12.
  • When I basted in the sleeves, the seams were a little low off my shoulder. Easily fixed with a small redraft of the upper half of  the armscye. I might not need this adjustment with a woven fabric, so I didn't transfer this change to my tissue.
  • No sleeve facing - I overlocked the sleeve edges, turned them up 1", and simply topstitched them to finish.
  • The rest of the topstitching -  I didn't topstitch the outside edge of the collar and front, because I wanted to keep the fold of the lapel very soft. And as noted, I topstitched along the lines of the front facing.

I didn't even have to lengthen this jacket! Love the length.

This was an interesting project, but I'm not sure I'll sew it again. There are so many jacket patterns that I like more than this one.

Hope everyone has a nice and safe weekend - Coco

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

BurdaStyle 03/2012 #108C Knot Front Dress

A fumble. I don't often write about a wadder (how depressing), but this dress is worth a look, wadder or not. I'm in a really fair mood this morning - but it's because I've already cried and fussed over this one.

I love this look! and had such high expectations. There are some really cute makes out there in blogger land. My favorites are this one by Deborah at The Tropical Sewist, done with an embroidered fabric. And these chevron print versions by Make Me Studio and The Selfish Seamstress .

And check out the RTW versions I found:


Dries Van Noten 

So I went for it. There was a huge investment in prepping this pattern. I used the download PDF, which meant I did a lot of paper cutting and taping (which I enjoy. I also love paper dolls, even now). Then came the drafting of the pattern pieces. The front piece goes from shoulder to hem - it's long and wide! Thank goodness the back has a separate bodice and skirt. The pattern also has lining and facing pieces. And, yes, it ate up 5 yards of 55" wide cotton lawn.

I finished the dress up to the point of basting the side seams, and then I stopped. Without a side zipper, it's too tight to fit over my dress form, but I can put it on over my head without a problem.

And actually it's very pretty. I just can't stand how it feels - it's the futzy, fussy knot business at the front! So I don't want to model it.

Because it is a nice pattern and might work really well for someone else, here are my sewing notes:
  • The pattern is sized for 'tall' ladies, perfect for me at 5'7". I sewed the 84, which is corresponds to regular size 42. I usually cut a size 40 in BurdaStyle, but this pattern is slim through the bodice and upper skirt, so I sized up. 
  • The back bodice is a little wide for me at the neckline. Maybe by 1/2", which could be fixed easily.
  • The front armhole is reinforced with a narrow strip of bias interfacing. Burda refers to this as Vilene/Pellon G 785. Mystery to me! I used 1/2" wide strips of bias-cut tricot knit fusible interfacing - worked fine.
  • I used Symphony broadcloth for my lining. A more slippery lining would definitely make the twist knot easier to form and adjust.

Front lining, also showing the interfacing strip on the armhole edge.
It was HARD to find the right side of my fabric, both sides have dense color.
I put a small pin on the right side of each pattern piece as I cut it out.

Front bodice inside

Back bodice inside

Burda gives this pattern an Intermediate difficulty rating, which I think is about right. The design is also available in a short version, BurdaStyle 03/2012 #108B, which also includes a free download PDF of the sewing instructions. The patterns themselves are the same. The instructions might be good reading ahead of purchasing the pattern :-)

And I'm off to other projects!

Ciao - Coco

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

McCalls 7164 More fun with summer pants!

Continuing the search for summer pants! McCall 7164...

So cute! Soft Surroundings has had these pants for a couple years, and I've always liked them. Now McCalls has a pattern that is almost a replica. I had to make these.

Here's the line art. Bonus with the pattern: full, loose pants and shorts. I love this!

The back side...just plain, elastic waist, easy fit.

Sewing notes:
  • I sewed View D in size M (12-14).
  • And added to the length, 1" on each of the gathered middle pieces, and 2" to the other pattern pieces. It turns out I don't need the extra length, and I'll leave it off on my next version.
  • The seams are faux flat-felled, as on the Soft Surroundings pants, everywhere except the inside leg and crotch seams.

  • The original crotch for my size was 27", so I added 1/2" to top edges of all pieces to accommodate my height (5'7") and personal measurements.
  • And I added 2" to the top of all pieces to create a cut-on waistband. I don't like the look of a flat waistband across my abdomen! I drafted the elastic casing all the way round and used 3/4" elastic to spread the gathers evenly, front and back.
  • No pockets - this fabric would show them too much.
And the fabric dictated a few more considerations. It is a rayon/linen (55%/45%) marigold yellow blend from Fashion Fabrics Club. It's not my favorite blend, but it has great drape, which is why it ended up in this muslin! 

After messing with the pants, and ironing every seam and stitch as I sewed, they were very LONG! I hemmed them, put them back in the laundry - and yes, they were shorter, short enough for sandals.

For these pics - ironed once again, so I'm wearing heels. aarrgghh. They are going back in the wash, I don't do heels, and they'll never see an iron again!

What's to love - these gathered insets...

And they are incredibly comfortable, different, kicky, out there...

Love them.

Now - a beauty note...

After Ashley's wedding in February, I decided to let my gray hair grow out. With the help of a product (below) that sprinkles in the hairline and really covers up any grow-out. You've seen it on me and probably didn't notice.

A week or so ago, I cut my hair back to all gray (my hair grows an incredible 3/4" a month...thank you, hair lords). And - no. With all the white scars on my face, and my fair skin, I had no features. So I re-colored my hair. But it is very short for me! 

It feels great! Not sure if I'll let it grow back, at least not during the summer. It has been in the 90's here for over a month, having short hair is so nice, so manageable ...

End of beauty note. Next - I just downloaded the new Hot Patterns Shirt-Tail Tee. And the In-House Kimono Tee. My stash beckons. 

Ciao! Coco