Pattern Review’s Sewing Bee Round 2: Sleeves!

This year, I’m participating for the first time in Pattern Review‘s online Sewing Bee. My Beyonce-inspired skirt was good enough to get me through to round 2! Wahoo!

There are 60 contestants in this round and there will be about 25 after the eliminations. I really love the top I sewed for this round and hope it is good enough to get me into round 3. Fingers crossed!

The challenge for round 2 was to create a garment with dramatic sleeves. I’ve made a few statement sleeves recently (reviews here and here and here). Clearly, this is a trend I like!

Since I have some dramatic sleeve sewing experience, I decided to design my own statement sleeves. I couldn’t be more pleased with how they turned out.

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Here is the official contest entry review submitted to Pattern Review:

Pattern Description: I LOVE the dramatic sleeves that have dominated RTW this spring and summer and, like many other Sewing Bee contestants, was excited to see dramatic sleeves were the challenge this round. After intensive Pinterest and fashion magazine research, I decided to go rogue and design my own over-the-top sleeves.

My aim was a bright and happy top that I could wear confidently to brunch with my love and coffee with my girls. My mark was over-the-top, but wearable.

For a starting point, I pulled Vogue 9243, a pattern I have used and reviewed on Pattern Review once before, from my stash. In my first version, I sewed up view F and made no changes to the pattern with the exception of narrowing the side seams to allow for a bit more hip room. This time, I created what I have dubbed “view Bridget.” View Bridget includes lace at the top of the sleeves, lanterns at the bottom of the sleeves, and a button band back. I also added grosgrain ribbon bows at the elbows.

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Pattern Sizing: This pattern is a missus sizing. I sewed up the size 12 which corresponds with my bust measurement, but is a little too skinny in the waist for me. I graded out to almost a 14 at the waist and hips.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Sort of. The front bodice is unchanged. I liked the fit of the princess seams, so I left them alone. The sleeves and back look pretty different from the pattern envelope.

Were the instructions easy to follow? As far as I followed them- yes.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? This is a solid pattern with a flattering fit.

Fabric Used: I often have a plan and then walk into a fabric store and toss the plan out the window. That is what happened when I went to purchase fabric at one of my local fabric shops in the D.C. area, G Street Fabrics. This store stocks a decent selection of shirting fabrics and lace, so it was my go-to for this project. Gingham, or any sort of print, wasn’t part of the plan. Luckily, I was not wed to my plan because a bolt of red and white gingham sitting on top of the cotton shirting fabrics table called to me like a cheery beacon. I tossed my plan, grabbed the bolt, found some red non-stretch lace, and headed towards the cutting table.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: I made several modifications to this pattern.

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  1. Like my first version, I widened the waist and hip by sewing a very narrow side seam. The result was just a smidge less width across the waist and hip than grading out to a size 14.
  2. I created bias tape from the gingham fabric to finish the neckline.
  3. My first version of the blouse felt a tiny bit too long as I wore it into the wild, so I decided to shorten this version. I chopped off 2 1/4 inches from the bottom and sewed a 1 inch hem.
  4. The lace sections of the sleeve are based on the original pattern pieces; however, I shortened them by 3 inches so that the lantern would begin just above my elbow.
  5. The lace sections of the sleeves are finished with french seams (side seams and sleeve heads).
  6. I drafted lantern sleeves.
  7. I also drafted cuffs for the bottom of the lantern sleeves.
  8. I created thread loops for the buttons at the sleeve cuffs.
  9. Inspired by Brandon Kee’s dress on last week’s Project Runway, I added long grosgrain ribbons to the sleeves just above the lantern poof. The ribbons are attached via topstitching and tie in a bow.
  10. The pattern calls for a zipper in the back. I found the zipper a bit boring for such an extravagant blouse. Instead, I created a button band down the back of the blouse by adding 2 inches of width to the center back pattern pieces. Creating the button placket was a little tricky as the center back seam of the blouse was slightly curved. I secured both button plackets with tiny (and nearly invisible) handsewn stitches. The back closure is finished with seven red buttons.

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Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? This pattern is great as drafted and was so much fun to modify in order to create my own dramatic sleeves.

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Conclusion: I am so pleased with how this top turned out. Everytime I look at it, I can’t help but smile. How can you not smile at gingham, lace, and bows? It’s a perfect blouse trifecta!

If you haven’t done so yet, go check out the other round 2 contestants. Creativity and serious sewing skill are on display. I have stiff competition!

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!