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!

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: 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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