Pattern Review: Burda Magazine Flounce Sleeve Blouse 2017-7-119

The Burda Style Magazine for July 2017 contained several patterns that caught my eye. I shared a few of them on my IG Story and, with help from some IG friends, determined my monthly make should be the ruffled sleeve top, style #119.

Burda Style top
Image from BurdaStyle.com

Since I have a healthy stash, I didn’t want to purchase fabric for this top. I figured something I already owned should do the trick. After debating several options, I settled on a printed swiss dot I purchased at Joann Fabrics early in my sewing career, probably about five years ago.

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Light, with a gentle drape, this fabric has more body than the examples in the magazine. I was worried it might turn out too stiff, but, after spending some time this weekend in Georgetown boutiques and seeing one cotton ruffled and flounced top after another, I decided cotton was on trend for this type of top and would look fine.

 

The pattern is very simple. It consists of only six pieces and is pulled on over the wearer’s head without any zips or button bands. According to the Burda Magazine ratings, this is an intermediate pattern. I agree. While not a particularly difficult sew in a well-behaved cotton fabric, the sparseness of directions required significant sewing know-how to complete this project.

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The trickiest bit was the sleeves. I read the directions over and over. They could have been in the original German… I have no idea what they wanted me to do. The incomprehensibility of the directions was impressive. I have followed dozens of sewing pattern instructions over the years, spent over a decade teaching people how to read and write, and hold advanced degrees in English, but I could not figure out those sleeve instructions. No clue.

I finally figured it out by pinning the sleeves onto the bodice and fiddling with them on my dress form until they looked right. (Unfortunately, I was so in the sewing zone that I failed to take photos as I went. Sorry about that!) After much pinning, I decided to fold the sleeves back along the shoulder seam. At the dart in the sleeve, I folded the sleeve back over itself, lining it up again with the shoulder seam and allowing the excess fabric to drape down. This created the sleeve flounce. I basted the shoulder seam, now three pieces of fabric thick, together. For the back sleeve, I folded the fabric back over the shoulder seam and continued the fold around half of the back neckline. At the sleeve dart, I folded the sleeve back over itself and basted all three pieces of fabric as one. The shoulder seams were then sewn together. Each shoulder seam consisted of six layers of fabric! Luckily, with this light cotton, thickness wasn’t a problem and it sewed up easily.

After spending ages scratching my head over the sleeves, I was in no mood to fuss with the fabric loop for the front closure. I found a piece of thin black satin ribbon that I decided would do the job. When sewing the facing to the neckline, I pinned it into place between the two layers of fabric. I positioned the loop facing away from the neck opening. Once sewn together, I turned the facing right side out and the loop was in the perfect spot. The directions for attaching the loop are poor. They tell you to attach it, but don’t describe how. This sewing knowledge is assumed. I strayed from the directions by understitching the facing. This resulted in a crisp facing fold at the neckline.

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Directions on how to construct the bottom of the flutter sleeves were given but, I ignored them. The directions suggest folding over the fabric once and securing the fold with a short zigzag stitch. I worried this would produce a messy finish. Instead, I serged the hem of the sleeves. Then, I folded the serged ends to the inside and secured them with a straight stitch. I think my method produced a neater finish than the recommended method. A rolled hem would also look nice.

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I am wearing a navy camisole under the top due to the depth of the open neck. I think I can get away without it for casual wear.

The finished top was too long on me. This wasn’t surprising as I am shorter that the measurements Burda uses to create patterns. I cut 1.5 inches off the bottom length. I thought a deep hem might balance the heft of the sleeves, so I folded and pressed the hem by 1/2 inch. Then, I folded it over again by 2 inches and sewed it down. This produced a wide 2 inch hem and provided the visual balance I was seeking.

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I finished this make with a round pearl-white button at the neck.

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I like the final shirt so much that I forgive Burda for the poor directions.

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Did you sew a style from the July issue? Tell me all about it in the comments!

Happy Sewing!

XOXO

Gingham: A Contemporary Take on a Summer Staple

Of all the fabric choices we have as sewists, gingham screams “Summer!” the loudest. This year, gingham is particularly popular. Stores are full of gingham garments and just this week the Today Show did a fashion bit featuring gingham as a hot summer fashion trend. The segment is sort of a train wreck, but, if you want to kill a few minutes, it’s mildly entertaining.

I’m a big fan of sewing with gingham, but am always wary of looking like I’m wearing a picnic blanket. To avoid this and give my gingham a contemporary edge, I like sewing with gingham in colors other than red and blue.

Purple Gingham

I used to hate the color purple, but, as I’ve gotten older, I find myself liking it, especially on me. I think it’s a good color for us brunettes. I chose a small purple gingham for this McCalls wrap top. This make was one of my first successful blouse projects and I still wear it a lot during the summer months. Unfortunately, the pattern I used, M6564, is out of print (OOP). McCalls does have a current pattern that looks very similar. M7358, view B, appears to have nearly the same structure.

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Nope, I haven’t chopped my hair. This is an older photo!

Black Gingham

Black gingham is easy to find this season. I’ve seen black gingham sewn into a range of garments. Two examples are below.

Rag and Bone offers this simple t-shirt. It will set you back $115.

Black gingham t-shirt

Maje Paris sells this simple sheath dress with XXL press studs down the front for $198 (on sale now from $495).

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I decided to make a skirt with my black gingham. I purchased the fabric from Fabric.com for no more than $15/yard. A bargain compared to RTW! The pattern is Sewaholic’s Hollyburn Skirt. I’ve paired this skirt with lightweight sweaters, tank tops, and blouses. For a vintage feel, I wore it here with a red knit Pavlova top from Cake Patterns.

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Orange Gingham

While I’ve spotted a lot of gingham this summer, orange gingham is hard to find. To date, I haven’t seen any orange gingham in the stores. This is one of the perks of sewing- wearing colors hard to find in RTW!

Navy and orange are a classic combination and representative of my alma mater (Go Gators!). It’s a combo I love to wear. My orange skirt here is Simplicity New Look 0119 with added pockets. I think this one is also OOP. Any woven straight skirt pattern can work for this look. New Look 6492, view A, looks like the same thing. I’m wearing it here with a RTW t-shirt.

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I have at least one gingham project planned before summer ends, so my collection is still growing. Keep watching the blog for a gingham update!

Do you sew with gingham? Have you used non-traditional gingham colors? Tell me all about it in the comments!

Let’s Talk Lingerie: Gia Thong & Kingston Thong

My first makes towards my #letstalklingerie efforts are complete!

In my last post, I lamented the sad state of my lingerie and nightwear collection and proposed a plan for building a feminine collection that makes me feel empowered (I made it!) and sexy (you’re welcome, husband!).

I decided to tackle panties first, specifically, thongs. I know many of you readers may groan in horror at the sheer thought of a thong, but I wear them all the time. I blame my college experience. My sorority house was gripped with crippling pantyline-fears and thong underwear is a sure way to avoid the horrors of a visible pantyline. Since becoming a thong underwear devotee, I find it difficult to wear fuller coverage panties during the day. There. Is. So. Much. Fabric. And it moves. Everywhere. All day. It drives me nuts.

Kingston Thong by Orange Lingerie

My panty sewing adventures started with Orange Lingerie’s Kingston. I’ve made this pattern once before, but sewed up a size too small and it was super uncomfortable. The last time I sewed it, I used my waist measurement to select my size (29 inches). I’m not sure what I was thinking. The widest point of my hip is substantially wider than my waist (40 inches). Since the Kingston sits more on the hip than the waist, I should have used my hip measurement to select my size. This time, I used my hip measurement and the fit is soooo much better.

I sewed a size large and made no adjustments.

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I utilized materials left over from a bra making kit I bought from Tailor Made Shop. I’ve ordered several kits from this online store and been very pleased with the quality of the materials. I purchased the kit to make a Marlborough bra (see photo below) and had enough materials left over to create these panties to match.

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My Kingston was road tested earlier this week and scored well. Here’s the breakdown using my made up and completely subjective categories:

Fit: A-

It’s close to perfect. I need a little more room across the hip. I have debated going up a size, but, based on my measurements and the measurements of the XL pattern pieces, it will be too big. For my next one, I’ll just add a little to the length to the side bands.

Stays in Place: A

Yes! No shifting issues to report.

Appearance: B

When not on me, it’s sexy and looks expensive. The construction methods result in a polished and professional panty that I would expect to pay quite a bit for in a lingerie store.

When on me, the side bands dig into my hips a bit on account of being too short for me. The result is a strange, and thankfully very small, thong-strap muffin top. It definitely could be better.

Overall score: A- 

I’m 100% sure I will make this again with a side strap adjustment to add a little length. I have high hopes the re-sew will be a perfect fit.

Gia Thong by Ohhh Lulu

Next, I sewed up the Gia Thong by Ohhh Lulu. I really like the fact this pattern calls for knit fabric. For my panty, I used some ivory jersey left over from a Burda wrap top I made over a year ago. The fabric is very soft- a fine knit- and on the sheer side. I used some more of the lace that came with my Tailor Made Shop kit and black fold over elastic. The elastic is a little stiffer than I would like. Unfortunately, I can’t remember where I bought it!

Again, I used my hip measurement to select my size and sewed up a size large. I made no adjustments.

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Here’s the scorecard:

Fit: C

It’s too big. Gaping around my hips too big. I was careful to cut the elastic around the waist an inch shorter than the waist length, so I don’t think the root cause is an error on my part. Next time, I will shorten the length of the lace side panels by at least an inch. I am worried that if I go down a size, the front coverage will appear too skimpy.

Stays in Place: ?

Too big to tell!

Appearance: B-

When not on me, it looks like something I would pay at least $15 for in Victoria’s Secret. The knit and fold over elastic aren’t as luxurious as the mesh used by the Kingston. It is, however, a great way to use some pretty knit scraps.

When on me, it gapes along the waist. It’s not so big that I feel it’s falling off, but it’s not the fit for which I’m aiming. I’ll keep it in rotation for those days when I’m feeling bloated…

Overall score: B-

I’m disappointed in the fit on this panty. I do like the fact knit scraps can be used. I also like the fact the side panels can be made of knit or lace, giving lots of design options. I’ll try this one again, but with substantial length out of the side panels.

Concluding Thoughts

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Neither panty is a perfect fit, but I don’t think seeking a perfect fit in a pattern straight out of the envelope (or in this case from a PDF) is realistic. My waist and hip measurements are not standard in proportion, so I expect to make adjustments to achieve the fit I want. I think that with adjustments, both panties will fit really well.

In the coming days, I intend to remake both patterns with my fit adjustments. I will report back here.

In the meantime, check out the gorgeous websites and IG feeds of Orange Lingerie and Ohhh Lulu. Both offer up a lot of sewing inspiration.

If sewing your own lingerie isn’t your thing, Ohhh Lulu sells panties sewn based on her patterns through Etsy.  I haven’t purchased any from her yet, but they all look beautiful. I’m sure if you sent her your measurements, they’d be a great fit!

Happy Sewing!

XOXO

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PS: In the photo at the top of this post, I am wearing a Sewaholic Pendrell Blouse I made ages ago in a satin-like material purchased from Joann Fabrics.

Let’s Talk Lingerie

I love lingerie. Lace. Silk. Satin. I love it all; however, if you were to open my lingerie drawers, you would not know this. You would find several rows of identical beige t-shirt bras and cotton panties. My nightwear collection is worse. An old t-shirt and threadbare cotton pj pants have become my evening uniform. It is, at best, underwhelming.

How has this happened?! When I reflect on the dismal state of my lingerie and sleepwear, there are two reasons that come to light.

  1. I am cheap. The high cost of RTW lingerie and sleepwear seems extravagant to me. Spending $50 to $70 on a bra is ridiculous. There is barely any fabric involved and underwires aren’t gold plated…  I recently admired an embroidered beauty on La Perla’s website and realized it would set me back over $700, I nearly passed out. Panties aren’t much better. On La Perla’s website, they have a georgette panty listed at over $200. On the other end of the market, Victoria’s Secret sells lacy numbers for $14. Admittedly, this is not bank-breaking, but when compared to the cost of fabric, it still feels like a high price. Sleepwear is worse. A cute pj set from Eberjey costs $120. In short, I want pretty lingerie, but I don’t want to go poor building a beautiful collection.
  2. Nothing fits quite right. My drawers are filled with identical bras and panties because I found a style that fits and bought multiples. I’m boring myself, but I prefer boredom to hours in fitting rooms struggling with bras and panties that gap here and are tight there.

There are some bright spots in my lingerie collection: two me-made bras and a few lovely robes I received as gifts when I got married. Surprisingly, my me-made bras fit better than the expensive (but boring) store-bought bras. Another point in the hand-mades’ favor is the fact my husband has… ahem… expressed his appreciation of theses brassieres. He’s requested I make more.

Struck by the sad state of my collection, I’ve decided to make some improvements. As a sewist with some bra making under her belt, I can take matters into my own hands and build the collection I want. (Sewing is AWESOME!) Assuming I don’t go crazy buying expensive fabrics, I should be able to build a collection at a fraction of the cost of RTW. To build my collection, I’ve decided to use some sleepwear patterns I already own and I plan on purchasing several lingerie patterns. As I sew, I will review the patterns I use on this blog. On IG, I’ll document my progress with a fancy hashtag: #letstalklingerie

Below is my current plan.

Bras:

  • More Marlborough Bras by Orange Lingerie. I took a workshop with Orange Lingerie a while back and had a great experience. My current me-made bras are Marlboroughs.

Marlborough

  • Boylston Bra by Orange Lingerie. This is a pretty non-stretch fabric bra option.

Boylston

  • A strapless Esplanade Bra also by Orange Lingerie. I’m nervous about this make. Good strapless bras are tough to find in RTW, so I’m a little worried this will be a huge fit challenge.

Esplanade

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Panties:

Esme panty

Kingston

oh lulu thong

Brazilian panties

Sleepwear:

I already own several sleepwear sewing patterns. I intend on sewing these before making any new purchases.

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Vogue

  • Simplicity 1720. I made view C ages ago when my sewing skills were still weak. I want to remake it without wonky seams. I also want to sew the matching pants from view D.Simplicity
  • Seamwork’s Lisbon. I’ve had a caramel silk from Mood and matching lace in my stash forever to make this night gown.  I think it’s time! Lisbon

I’m not creating a timeline for this project. I’m still working hard to learn more about garment fit, so I anticipate I’ll alternate sewing lingerie and sleepwear with fussier day-wear projects. My current goal is to sew at least one piece for #letstalklingerie each month, but if life gets in the way, I’m okay with that. It will all get done eventually!

If your lingerie drawers are also in need of some overhauling, feel free to join me and tag your makes on IG so I can follow along! If you have a pattern you love that I’ve missed here, please let me know. I learn so much from other sewists!

Happy Sewing!

XOXO

Bridget’s Picks: McCall’s Early Fall Collection

This morning, an email from McCall’s Patterns informed me that the McCall’s Early Fall 2017 collection has arrived. They had me at sleeves:

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This is M7627 and may be my first entry into #sleevefest2017 on IG. (You can see my past sleeve-obsessed makes here and here.) These sleeves are wonderfully over-the-top! The bow! The ruffles! How can you not fall in love? If drama isn’t your thing (why not?!), this pattern offers a dress version and a more subtle sleeve. Here are the line drawings:

M7627 My second pick is M7624. This is a dress with the option of a short or maxi length. They’ve made it here in a print that reminds me of a Liberty London design. In this particular fabric, it could transition nicely into fall with closed-toe ankle boots and a denim jacket.

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The sleeve options with this dress are fantastic. You can choose from sleeveless, kimono, or split sleeve options. I’m not a big fan of the back tie. You all know that I love a bow, but I think I’ve passed the age of tying bows over my bum.

M7624.gifMy final pick is from fellow D.C. sewist, Nikki Brooks-Revis of Beaute’ J’Adore. She blogs here and is quintessential capitol cool. Her adorable daughter wears MiniJ’Adore and is definitely cooler than me. If you have little people in your life, you have to check out her mini-me patterns. Nikki’s contribution to the collection is this impossibly cool bomber.

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The extra volume in the sleeves and slightly exaggerated collar make this different from other bomber patterns out there. I find this fabric choice intimidating, but the effect is ultimate cool girl.

Other patterns in this release include children’s zip-front bombers (cute), a classic “Simple Sew” skirt with pencil and A-line options (great for new sewists), and an easy to-wear Melissa Watson knit dress or top with a low v-cut back (solid closet basic). Cosplay patterns (not my thing) and doll patterns (also not my thing) are also in the collection.

While I wait for these patterns to hit the shelves of my local fabric stores, tell me- Which patterns in this collection are at the top of your list?

All photos are from McCall’s Patterns website. Additional pattern views and patterns in this collection can be viewed here.

Happy Sewing!

XOXO

Pattern Review: McCalls 7094

One of my favorite things about sewing is that I can make garments to the proportions I want. As sewists, we have the power to chop off length, take in side seams, and lower necklines at will. We can make what we want EXACTLY the way we want it. It can be a power trip!

Sewing McCalls 7094, I felt every bit the master of my sewing universe. I disobeyed the pattern envelope sizing, lopped inches off the bottom, and redrafted the hem (see specifics in the review below). The result is a top that fits and appears just the way I intended.

 

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I am wearing my new top below with a white camisole underneath because the fabric I selected for this make is pretty sheer. Made in a different fabric, a camisole would not be necessary with this top. The top is paired with RTW wide-legged pants. Together, it’s a very relaxed summer look. It’s perfect for real life summer excitement- mornings at the farmer’s market, afternoon cookouts, and (in my case the much more frequent) trips to the grocery store and Target.

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Below is a full review including details on how I modified the pattern to get the fit I wanted. This review is also available on Pattern Review.


Pattern Description: The pattern envelope describes this pattern as “very loose-fitting” and the picture indicates a loose fitting top that can be made with or without sleeves and with three hem options. The many options mean this top could be appropriate for any season depending on the fabric used and sleeve options chosen.

Pattern Sizing: Misses

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? My version is a little bit shorter than the version on the envelope, and I redrafted the bottom hem. Otherwise, it looks pretty much the same.

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes with the exception of finishing the bottom of the placket. I’m still not sure what they wanted me to do… I sewed all the fabric together and topstitched it down. It worked fine.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I really like the pleated detailing at the shoulders. I decided to top stitch my pleats down to keep them symmetrical and flat. I think it worked out well.

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I also like the gathering at the center back.

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Finishing the notch collar took two tries. I misaligned the collars the first time and had to rip out stitches to make a second attempt. See the red arrow below to view my misaligned collar notch. Luckily, it was an easy fix. I ripped out a few stitches and was able to realign the seam.

 

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The pattern directions have you slip stitch all the facings which took forever. It did result in a neat finish on the inside of the shirt. Nearly all the seams are encased in facings. The only visible seams are the side seams. I serged them together. I like the result, but didn’t enjoy all the handwork at the time.

My only other complaint about this top isn’t the fault of the pattern. It’s a problem with my fabric choice. Because the challis I used is pretty sheer, you can see through the fabric on the collar to the underlying seam allowances (you can see this in the photos above)- not cute, but not the pattern’s fault. In hindsight, I should have sewn the interfaced pieces on the outside of the top. The reverse side of the collar looks better than the correct side because the interfacing prevents you from seeing through the fabric to the graded seam allowances under the fabric. Oh well… live and learn, right?

Fabric Used: This yellow rayon challis was the last of my latest purchase from Vogue Fabrics‘ summer catalogue. I love the sunny color, but it’s sheerness is a drawback. I have to wear a camisole under the top. This is fine in air conditioning, but will be hot walking around the city this summer.

On a related note, Vogue Fabrics has redone their website and it’s much more user friendly. If you were put off previously by its clunkiness, you’ll like the new format. It still isn’t the prettiest site out there, but this is certainly an improvement.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: I made a few modifications on this top.

First, I ignored the pattern sizing suggestions. According to the size chart on the back of the envelope, I should have sewn a medium. Before I cut the pattern, I checked the size of the main pattern pieces against a loose fitting top currently in my closet. Even with the addition of seam allowances, the extra small was a smidge larger than my existing shirt. The medium would have been HUGE. I cut and sewed the extra small.

Second, I shortened the top one inch at the lengthen shorten line when cutting out my fabric. At the time, I thought that would shorten it enough.

Once the top was done except for the bottom hem, I decided it was still too long. I also thought the shirt tail was much too dramatic a curve. There was a seven inch difference from the side of the shirt to the front/back center hem. The effect was weird on me. It looked like the top wasn’t sure if it wanted to be a shirt or a tunic. I lopped off about two inches at the side seams and drafted a gentler curve at the front and back hem.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Yes and yes. I may make another with sleeves for cooler weather. I do recommend checking the size with a shirt you already own and be mindful of the dramatic hem!

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Conclusion: This top is a sunny addition to my summer wardrobe!

Happy Sewing!

XOXO

Pattern Review: Moana Dress/Top

I have junk in my trunk and I’m not talking about my car.

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My challenge with this pattern? My bum!

Sometimes a pattern reminds us that, while we may be totally okay with our body’s quirks- narrow back, high bustline, short legs, etc., sewing patterns are not always okay with these aspects of our physical selves. The Moana Dress by Papercut Patterns sent me one such reminder this weekend. This project was nearly a sewing fail, but, after a short separation (I needed some time away…), I managed to turn it into a sewing save.

I picked up the Moana Dress/Top and two other Papercut Patterns recently at Stitch Sew Shop. They were trying to make room for the newest round of Papercut Patterns and running a sale on the older styles. I’d been eyeing Moana for a while. Stitch Sew Shop had an impossibly adorable version of the dress in their window a while back that prompted me to sew one of my own.

The colorful floral rayon I used was also purchased from Stitch. The fabric is part of Rifle Paper Co.’s Wonderland line with Cotton + Steel. It’s got a lovely hand and was nice to sew. I made a muslin of the top of the dress and determined the only adjustment I needed to make was to move the bust darts down 1/2 inch. In hindsight, I should have muslined the whole dress…

The final dress was terrible. The armholes gaped out at my armpits and the bottom of the dress was a bright floral billboard across the widest part of my body further highlighted with ruffles and gathers. So. Many. Gathers. It was so bad that I didn’t even take photos. I don’t want to be the cause of my blog readers’ retinal bleeding.

I ripped off the bottom of the dress and took in the side seams to reduce armhole gaping. Gaping wasn’t a problem on the muslin, so I wonder if I stretched the fabric as I sewed the armholes without realizing I was doing it. Because I had to take them in, the seams under the arms aren’t as neat as I would like, but it’s only visible on the inside of the top. Luckily, some careful picking and a run through my serger finished the ruffle seam. I don’t think anyone could tell that a horrifying mistake of a gathered skirt was once attached.

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A little blurry, but you get the idea…

Despite the agony this pattern put me through, I do like the finished top with white jeans. It’s a bright summer look that suits me. I also really like the burrito rolling method of sewing the armhole facing to the armhole that the pattern featured. It’s a clever method I will use again. My full review of the pattern is below.


This review is also available on Pattern Review.

Pattern Description: Dress or top with a high-low ruffle at the waist

Pattern Sizing: Misses

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? The top looks like the envelope, but in the dress version I attempted to make, the skirt was significantly more gathered than the skirt on the envelope front.

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes. The directions for sewing the armhole facing to the armhole were particularly well done.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? The dress version of this pattern was a disaster. Once I lopped the skirt off, the resulting top is cute and very wearable. It’s a cropped length, but just long enough for me to raise my arms over my head and not flash my stomach.

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Arms up and my stomach is still covered! Whew!

Fabric Used: Wonderland rayon from Cotton + Steel

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: I moved the bust darts down 1/2 inch and took in the armholes by about an inch at the side seam due to gaping.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I probably won’t make this again any time soon. I would recommend the top version if you’re on the hunt for a cute sleeveless top with a ruffled bottom.

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Conclusion: This pattern made a nice ruffled top for summer. If you have curvy hips and a bum, stay away from the dress version. It’s not flattering.

Happy Sewing!

XOXO

Pattern Review: Penny Dress or ‘A Modern Woman Makes a Case for Vintage Sewing’

I officially declare this the Summer of the Shirtdress!

They are popping up everywhere in sewists blogs and on Instagram with the #sewtogetherforsummer sewing project. Three independent pattern companies have put out lovely shirtdress patterns to fuel interest and keep sewing machines busy. Closet Case Patterns released the Kalle Shirtdress (my version is here), Named Patterns’ put out the Reeta Midi Dress, and Sew Over It offered the Penny Dress as it’s June PDF Club pattern.

When news of the Penny Dress release arrived in my inbox, I couldn’t purchase and print it fast enough. It is everything I love in a dress- a full feminine skirt, fitted waist, and unfussy bodice. The pattern and instructions didn’t disappoint and I am very pleased with the finished dress.

While I like my new dress, Penny did not get a five star review from my husband. His verdict? “You look like June Cleaver.” This was not a compliment.

He isn’t wrong. This led us to a discussion of 1950s nostalgia that forced me to critically consider my love of vintage fashion. My affinity for vintage styles horrifies my husband. He reminds me that in 1950, our marriage would have been illegal in many states (Thank you, Lovings!) and that my feminist viewpoints wouldn’t have been tolerated by society. He can’t separate the social context from the fashion of the era.

He’s right in that they are tightly intertwined. The most obvious example I can think of are women’s undergarments in the 1800s and earlier that restricted physical activity and reinforced ideas of female weakness. Even in modern times, fashion is tightly bound to social forces. Hemlines are a well-documented  indicator of national economic well being. Ultimately, a dress is not just a dress. It’s a reflection of the social and economic forces of it’s time.

I contemplated dramatic action. I debated burning the dress in a show of feminist resistance and social justice angst. I thought that at the least I probably shouldn’t wear it…

I felt like a hypocrite for a few days until I made a discovery in my pattern stash. I was organizing my growing pattern collection (more on that in a later post) when I came across this McCall’s pattern from the 1980s. I had completely forgotten ordering it from an Etsy seller months ago.

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The first view looks awfully like Penny, doesn’t it? This pattern was created long after the social horrors of the 1950s, but here is virtually the same dress reimagined in a soft draping fabric. This discovery reminded me that, while we can’t separate fashion from history, we can remake it in our image today.

I decided that I am going to wear my Penny and other vintage-inspired me-mades with the knowledge that this dress may have roots in the past, but is very much tied to the present.


Below is the full pattern review. This review is also posted on Pattern Review.

Pattern Description: 1950s inspired shirtdress

Pattern Sizing: Misses

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes. My dress is a bit stiffer due to my fabric choice.

Were the instructions easy to follow? I’ve been impressed with the instructions for Sew Over It’s PDF patterns. Consistently, they have been very clear and produced a professional finish.

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What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I love how easy it is to wear. The elastic waist allows for large pasta lunches and the the full shirt is cool in hot D.C. summers.

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Dress without belt and showing pasta-lunch-ready elastic waistband.

Fabric Used: I used a cotton oxford shirting from the latest Vogue Fabric‘s fabric catalogue. I’m not a huge fan of the color purple, but I really like this shade of lavender. It’s one of the few pastel colors I can pull off with my pasty skin.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: I shortened the pattern by 2 inches at the bottom. I made no other adjustments. Sew Over It tops generally a great fit me well without any adjustments and this was not an exception.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Yes, I will sew it again, but, to make it a little less June Cleaver-esque, I will go with a softer draping fabric.

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Conclusion: Another great sew from the Sew Over It PDF club!

Happy Sewing!

XOXO

Pattern Review: Closet Case Patterns Kalle Shirtdress

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The Kalle Shirt and Shirtdress from Closet Case Patterns has been a big deal for D.C. area sewists. The pattern is named after the owner of our local sewing store and studio, Stitch Sew Shop. A busy mom and entrepreneur, Kalle’s laidback and classic style is reflected in this easy-to-wear silhouette.

The Kalle features three different versions: a cropped top, a tunic length top, and a dress. The pattern can be customized with different button placket and collar options. A full button placket or a popover placket can be sewn. You also have a choice between a band collar or a traditional collar. A pocket can be added to the shirt front. The shirt/shirtdress can be further customized with either a box pleat or an inverted pleat in the center back.

Several versions of the Kalle have been sewn up by D.C. area sewists:

For my Kalle, I decided to sew the dress version with a popover placket, traditional collar, and box pleat. I purchased the pattern and fabric at Stitch two weeks ago and finished the final button hole this weekend.

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Kalle accessorized with my furry child. She insisted on being in the photos. (I’m not checking my phone- it’s a remote for my camera!)

While I’ve modeled it here with stacked heels, my husband announced it would look best with sneakers. As I was trying on various shoes from my closet, he did a quick internet search and announced he’d found the perfect shoes for my Kalle. He ordered them before I could pretend to protest and they should arrive soon. He selected sparkling white Tory Burch sneakers. Aren’t they the perfect combination of sporty and classic?

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If you, too, need to complete your Kalle with these shoes, they are currently on sale at Tory Burch’s website. I think there should be some sort of best husband award for my guy’s smooth shopping moves and impeccable taste.


The full review is below and available at Patternreview.com:

Pattern Description: Loose fitting summer shirt/shirtdress with various collar, placket, and pleat options.

Pattern Sizing: Misses. I sewed a size 10 which matches my bust measurements. Since it is a flowy silhouette, it is unlikely you’ll need to grade between sizes. There is lots of ease. I am short (5’3″), but decided not to shorten the pattern. I like my dresses to end at my knees. If you prefer a leggier look and are my height, you will need to shorten the pattern a bit.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?: Yes! Initially, I was on the fence with this pattern. It looks kind of boxy and shapeless on the envelope, but when I saw it sewn up in drapey tencel, I was sold. It turned out more flattering that I’d anticipated.

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Back view. Stacked heels from Nine West Outlet and are currently on sale. I love a sale!

Were the instructions easy to follow?: For the most part they were. I’ve made a traditional collar and popover placket before, so neither were new to me. I think the directions for both are very clear. The collar construction in particular is well done. If you haven’t sewn a popover placket or collar before, this pattern is a great way to try your first.

I did have a head-scratching moment with the cuffs. For the last few tops I’ve made, I’ve attached cuffs by first folding the cuff in half and then sewing both edges of the cuff to the edge of the sleeve. For Kalle, you sew only the edge of the cuff closest to the sleeve to the sleeve edge. The second cuff edge is folded over and sewn to encase the raw edge of the sleeve and cuff. It makes a neat finish, but the directions aren’t clear. The illustration does show only one edge sewn to the sleeve, but I was relying on the text and missed it. I spent some time unpicking my initial cuff insertion once I realized my mistake.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?: The finished product looks professional. Closet Case Patterns focus on finishing touches and Kalle is no exception. The attention to detail (lots of topstitching and thoughtful construction methods) results in a make that looks tough to execute, but is do-able for an intermediate sewist.

Fabric Used: Yummy tencel in olive green from Stitch Sew Shop. The shop also carries this tencel in navy and black. The store isn’t set up for online ordering, but if you give them a call, they will take a phone order and send it to you!

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Side view of high-low shirttail hem

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: None. (How wonderful is that?!)

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?: Yes, I think I might try the cropped shirt length. I feel like once you’re over 35 (ahem… I may fall into that camp…) cropped is no longer cute. I will likely add to the length so it falls below my waist rather than at or above it.

Conclusion: Kalle is a lovely pattern that delivers a professional finish.

Closet Case Patterns is hosting a sew-along for Kalle. If you haven’t yet sewn yours up, the sew-along posts may be helpful. You can find them here.

Happy sewing!

XOXO

Pattern Review: McCalls 7542 and Flint Culottes

Today’s review is a two-for-one: the Flint Culottes and the very popular McCalls 7542!

Flint Culottes

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First, I sewed Megan Nielsen‘s newest pattern, the Flint Culottes. I’ve been on the fence with the culotte trend, but when I saw Megan’s design, I decided to go for it. I was originally taken with the cute little side bow on version 2, but, in response to my husband’s plea to limit the number of bows in my wardrobe (he seems to think it is possible to have too many bows…), made up version 1 with the two-button closure.

The button closure is cleverly constructed. The overlapping fabric used to create the pocket doubles as the opening for the pants. No side zipper or fly closure is needed!

Below is my full review. (Also available on Pattern Review.):


Pattern Description: Summer-perfect culottes

Pattern Sizing: I made a muslin first and was glad I did. Referring to the back of the fullsizeoutput_eacpattern envelope, I realized I was between sizes at the waist measurement. I cut the small for the muslin and it fit- if I didn’t breath. Feeling a bit chubby, I cut the medium and that worked much better.

 

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?: Yes, even my muslin looked good.

Were the instructions easy to follow?: The pattern directions were clear and there were no tricky parts that had me scratching my head or running for help online.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?: I love the fullness of the pant. When I’m standing still, it looks like I’m wearing a skirt, which I think is pretty neat.

 

Fabric Used: I used a navy linen I ordered during a Craftsy supplies sale. I believe it’s from the Robert Kaufman line. It has a nice drape and, unlike some linen fabrics, it didn’t “grow” with wear during the day.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: I’m vertically challenged, so I took about 3.5 inches off the length of the pant. I took two inches at the lengthen/shorten line when cutting them out and another inch and a half after trying them on in the linen fabric. I think the linen hung lower than the muslin I made, necessitating taking more length off the bottom.

 

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Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?: I might sew it again. The style is distinctive, so if I make another version, it will be in a very different fabric- perhaps something dressier with even more drape. I definitely recommend it to others. If you’ve made a few pairs of pants already, this is in your wheelhouse.

Conclusion: This pattern is worth the price and the time needed to make the culottes. In my signature navy, I am sure to wear this pair throughout the summer.


McCalls 7542

My second pattern is the super popular McCalls 7542, a simple top with multiple dramatic sleeve options. Since venturing into the world wearing Vogue 9243, I’ve determined I need more statement sleeves in my life. This top is all over Instagram and sewing blogs and, I have yet to see a version I didn’t like. The pattern is so in demand, I had to order my copy directly from McCalls. My local Joann Fabrics store was sold out of the pattern each time I stopped by to purchase it.

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I made this shirt specifically to pair with my Flint’s but I’m worried that it’s one trend too many in a single outfit. Despite this nagging concern, I wore the two pieces together earlier this week. No one laughed, at least not to my face, so I think I pulled it off okay. Below is the full review for McCalls 7542. (Review also available on Pattern Review.)


Pattern Description: Simple top with a cropped option and several sleeve variations. I went with version D.

Pattern Sizing: I cut a 12, my usual McCall’s size and the fit is spot on.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?: Yes, the top turned out exactly as I expected it would based on the envelope.

Were the instructions easy to follow?: Nothing funky to report here. The directions and order of construction all made sense.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?: BELL SLEEVES! I feel very feminine in this top.

Inserting the sleeves into this top was agony. Next time, I will increase the number of

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Close-up of the sleeve “design feature” GAH!

gathering stitches I use to set the sleeve. As drafted, the gathering stitches should only be sewed along the sleeve head, but in order to gather the fabric for a smooth sleeve insertion, the stitches need to extend far below the points indicated on the pattern. I have some puckers (I’m calling them “design features”) at the heads of my sleeves where I gave up. I hope the busy print renders them invisible to all but the very discerning eye.

 

Fabric Used: I used a cotton sateen that’s been sitting on my stash shelves for a few years. I found it at Joann Fabrics on the sale table. The super busy print reminds me of something from the 1960s, one of my favorite clothing design eras.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: The sleeve flounce is cut as a

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These do not match up…

circle with a smaller circle inside that attaches to the sleeve. I noticed right away that the hole in my flounce was way too small for the bottom of the sleeve. I was feeling very done with puckered fabric by this point (I had just survived my sleeve-setting debacle), so I increased the size of the hole in the flounce by half an inch all around. With this modification, I was able to set and sew the flounces without any problems. I noticed on Pattern Review that a few other sewist experienced this problem with the flounce.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?: Yes and yes! I think my next version will be in a solid color and a lighter fabric. I’m thinking maybe a cotton lawn in solid red…

Conclusion: Overall, this is a well drafted pattern that sews up quickly with an on-trend result. Hello, Summer 2017!

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