Fresh Makes, Take Twos

I have made 25 garments since starting this blog, and I have probably mentioned in most of my posts, “When I make this again, I’m going to…….” So how many have I actually made again? I will admit that 90%+ of my makes are one-time adventures. Mainly because with the limited time I have to sew, I find the most enjoyment out of trying a new pattern from my large pattern stash each time I make a garment. But there are two that I have been compelled to revisit, and I’m excited to share these Take Two makes with you.

The first Take Two is The Jean Skirt, Fresh Make #1.DSC_0001Sometimes the garments that “wow” the least are the ones we grab the most because they are a great basic. And that is the case with The Jean Skirt, Simplicity 1616. I really like how it fits, lays flat across the stomach, yet has plenty of width through the hips and thighs. AND it is quick and easy to make. I wanted to make another as soon as I finished the first and what finally spurred me into action was, sadly, I tore my first Jean Skirt.DSC_0005DSC_0016 The fabric, which I ordered online, was disappointingly thin. While wearing it, it got caught on something, I don’t even remember what, and now it’s wadded up on the top shelf of my closet.

I learned my lesson that you usually “get what you pay for.” So for Jean Skirt, Take Two I shelled out the big bucks for 2 3/4 yards at $14.50 per yard for Anna Marie Horner’s beautiful, thick, soft, interlock knit, Mary Thistle, in navy, from my favorite online fabric store, Hawthorne Threads.DSC_0004This fabric goes through the washer and dryer beautifully. The dark blue with a black print acts like a neutral. You can really pair it with almost any color. A true grab and go skirt.

My second Take Two is The Every Woman Top, Fresh Make #21.DSC_0011
I was initially drawn to this pattern for it’s potentially figure flattering variation of a basic knit top.

My first version of The Everywoman Top, Vogue 8151, was a fit fail from the waist down. The biggest fit fail of my 25 Fresh Makes. I describe this all in my original post, but basically the fabric was too thick and the fit was too loose, resulting in one big belly sag instead of flattering, fabric folds created by the side ruching. BUT I loved the fit from the waist up. The small bust adjustment I did worked well and neck band laid perfectly in front and back.

Through the waist and belly, it's a bit of a blob silhouette. Go ahead and click to enlarge to see what I mean.

Through the waist and belly, it’s a bit of a blob silhouette. Go ahead and click to enlarge to see what I mean.

Version two, much better!

Version two, much better!

I vowed to redeem myself by making another with a thinner, single jersey knit. I did just that with a 95% cotton, 5% Lycra, Threaded Shreds Knit in Mamey, again, from Hawthorne Threads. I splurged in purchasing 1 7/8 yards at $15.95 per yard. I love this fabric. It washes beautifully, and is super soft and stretchy. It is also thin enough that bulk is not created by the double thickness of the wrap front. This time when contructing the garment, I followed the instructions of making a one inch seam allowance down the sleeves and sides. And after trying on, I even took in the side seams another 1/2 inch to get enough negative ease to form the fabric folds across the belly instead of a sag. I am truly 100% happy with the results of this Take Two. It you would like more construction details of these patterns, just go to the original posts, Jean Skirt and Every Woman Top

There seems to be a lot of prolific sewists in the online sewing community who post new versions of the same pattern frequently. I know it makes sense to perfect a pattern that really fits your lifestyle and can potentially become an integral part of your wardrobe. I just don’t like repetitive sewing. It becomes labor to me rather than a creative experience. What about you? What are your thoughts and practices when it comes to sewing up the same pattern several times?

The Good Life Shirt

I’m a fan of the TV show “What Not To Wear.” I truly have internalized some of Stacy and Clinton’s bits of advice in my quest to put together my daily outfits. One of their favorite pieces of advice is to pull stuff of the rack that you wouldn’t normally grab, and just try it on. You might be surprised. This is how I have approached my pattern selection while sewing myself stylish. Sometimes I choose styles that I like, but think that they might not be “right” for me. Fresh Make #25 is one of those patterns. I tried it, and I like it!DSC_0575The pattern I used is Vogue 8985. I purchased it the only way I buy Vogue patterns – on sale at JoAnn’s for $4.99. I named it The Good Life Shirt because it seems like the type of clothing you would wear while indulging in the leisure arts as such picnicking, wine tasting, strolling through beautiful gardens, dining al fresco at the beach, etc… If you have a reason to wear this tunic, your life is good.DSC_0015The fabric is once again from one of my favorite stores, Mood Fabrics on Brea Avenue in Los Angeles. It is smooth, finely woven lawn cotton. I purchased 3 yards at $14.00 per yard.DSC_0578DSC_0573I also made the pants that were included in the pattern. May I add that this is my first pair of white pants EVER. I have always felt that white would not look good on my bottom half. But I since the tunic is LONG, I went for it. I actually like my first pair of white pants.

The top and the bottom are separate pieces, and the elastic casing is formed with their seam.

The top and the bottom are separate pieces, and the elastic casing is formed with their seam.

The bow is decorative. It does not go through the casing.

The bow is decorative. It does not go through the casing.

The sleeves are long. They are rolled up so the wrong side of the fabric shows and are held with a botton tab.

The sleeves are long. They are rolled up so the wrong side of the fabric shows and are held up with a button tab.

I machine finished both the side slits and the hem.

I machine finished both the side slits and the hem.

Inside peek. I serged all my seams and the facing edges.

Inside peek. I serged all my seams and the facing edges.

LET’S BE HONEST:
1. I do not know how Vogue comes up with their ratings. I think they are rated relative to the other patterns in the book. In terms of the seamstress, I think there is an assumed level of competency. This pattern is labeled “very easy,” but by no means is beginner project in the broader world of sewing projects.

2. I cut a size Small (8-10). My bust definitely is larger than 31 1/2 – 32 1/2, but most of us know that when a big four pattern is “loose-fitting” we know that really means LOOOOSE fitting. And it fit perfectly. I did do one slight adjustment. I added 1/4″ to the side seams because I wanted to have enough ease through my hips and thighs.

3. The pattern had seam pockets. I did not include these as I did not want any bulk added in my hip/thigh region.

4. I am not blogging about the pants. But just an FYI if you want to make them, I narrowed them a couple of inches – tapering from the hips to the ankles. They are just simple elastic waist pants, and I also took out width at the top because I didn’t want more fabric than necessary bunching under the tunic. The fabric is a lycra, cotton twill, so they can stretch over the hips when I pull them on.

REFLECTIONS, REVELATIONS, AND CONFESSIONS:
I have no desire to do sewing “tutorials” on my blog. I do not want to stop and stage photos of my WIP, and then compose instructional text to go along with it. (I actually don’t enjoy writing.) I know all the popular sewing blogs out there include tutorials. So I guess I’ll never be a blogging superstar. But in my my defense, I do include a lot close-up, detail photos of my makes, so it’s not just all “show and tell.” And those photos do get “clicked” on frequently, so perhaps I am helping some sewist in some small way. Don’t get my wrong, I LOVE to teach people sew. I would just rather do it in person. Additionally, if a reader asked me a question about something I’ve posted, I would be thrilled to help them.
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Thanks again for taking the time to read this post. Now I’m going to think of fabulous places I can go to wearing my Good Life shirt. I welcome your comments and questions. Cheers! Lori

My Snuggie Tunic

Do you ever make a random project from your patterns-bought-on-sale stash and you instantly love it so much, you wonder how you survived without it? That’s now I feel about Fresh Make #24. When I put it on I feel engulfed in yummy comfort.DSC_0520DSC_0537DSC_0540The pattern I used is Simplicity 2289. I bought this pattern on sale at JoAnn’s for $1.40, probably about a year ago. It was one of those “let’s stock up” and “who cares if I never make it, it’s so cheap” purchases.2289I bought the fabric at Mood Fabrics at La Brea Avenue in Los Angeles. Prior to cutting the fabric, the saleswoman says to me sort of apologetically, “It’s $20 per yard.” “Oh, I thought is was $18.” “The label says it’s Theory.” She shrugs her shoulders. “Whatever, that’s fine,” I say. So, I purchased 2 3/8 yards which totaled $47.60. More than I usually spend for a random project, but I had a $75 giftcard from my wonderful FIL! I have to admit I was not completely in-love with the fabric on it’s own. But the marriage of the fabric and this pattern is unexpectedly perfect and elevates them both. (I googled “Theory” and it’s a clothing company much hipper than me.)

You can wear the collar turned down if you prefer.

You can wear the collar turned down if you prefer.

DSC_0564The fabric is actually not sweatshirt fleece. It is a quilted knit with a polyester backing; it might even be moisture wicking or some such thing. There a thin, middle layer of a soft, synthetic batting that sheds all over the place on the raw edges. For those of you that might not know, Mood Fabrics sells leftover rolls of fabric from RTW clothing lines, so it’s not possible to get detailed information like exact fiber content on the fabric. DSC_0566 I hemmed the neckline and bottom with a double needle, and finished my seams with a serger after sewing them with a regular stitch on a regular machine. There is not enough stretch in this fabric to warrant any special knit stitches.

LET’S BE HONEST:
1. The pattern comes in size XS – XXL. I cut a size Small (10-12). As you can plainly see, this is BIG tunic and I’m definitely glad I made a Small.

2. Being so loose fitting, there was no need for any adjustments. However, as I often routinely do, I took off an inch off both the sleeve and body length before cutting.

3. I am small busted, and I like the way this garment hangs on me. I did google some other reviews on this pattern and there were some negative comments from larger busted woman about how it made them feel even larger, like a linebacker.

4. Overall this is an easy pattern to sew up provided you are comfortable sewing with knits. I had to do my most “careful” sewing when I was making the patch pockets. I hand basted them in place first before machine stitching them to the body because I thought the knit fabric might pucker and stretch if I just secured the pockets with pins.

REFLECTIONS, REVELATIONS, AND CONFESSIONS:
This blog has forced me to look at myself in a lot of photos and I rarely like what I see. I alway tell my photographer to take lots and lots of pictures so I will find at least three good ones. Even though I am very conscientious about dressing to flatter my body, I always look fatter than I envision myself as being. But, oh well, I’m sort of getting used to that. What I hate even more is seeing the winkles on my face! My 78 year old mother has less wrinkles than I do. Every time I look at my face in a photo, I get why so many women have “work” done.DSC_0560

Thanks again for visiting my blog. I’d love to hear your comments. Or if you have a question about this project, please ask! Cheers, Lori

The Every Woman Top

I waited for months for the weather to change, and then when it finally did I realized I had quite a shortage of professional, casual clothes for cooler temperatures. You know the category – not jeans and hoodies, and also not dress slacks and blazers. These are the clothes I need to wear to my teaching job every weekday morning. So I choose to make this long sleeve, knit, wrap top for Fresh Make #21, not to wow you with my sewing skills (which I confess is sometimes how choose my makes), but because it is a garment that I truly need.DSC_0496DSC_0497

The neckband lays beautifully in the back. The gathers formed by the side shirring are more successful in the back because of the single layer of fabric.

The neckband lays beautifully in the back. The gathers formed by the side shirring are more successful in the back because of the single layer of fabric.

The pattern I choose is Vogue 8151. I bought it on sale at JoAnn’s for $4.99. I’ve been trying to make a commitment to making my own basics. I was attracted to this pattern because the wrap front offers a nice variation on a basic knit top. I was also curious about “Today’s Fit” by Sandra Betzina. The sizing on “Today’s Fit” patterns have a bust/waist/hip ratio more in line with the measurements of real women. I noticed that it was copywrited in 2005, so this pattern has some staying power in the Vogue book. I named it The Every Woman Top because it was designed for all of us. DSC_0510I originally purchased this fabric with the intention of making an easy wearing, short sleeved dress. But the weather turned cooler, and another warm weather dress was not what I needed at the moment. I bought this fabric because I was anxious to try an Amy Butler knit as I know hers is a name I could trust for quality fabrics. There are a lot of bad knits out there. This cotton interlock is Cross Roads in Citrus from Amy Butler’s Glow collection. The weight is substantial and it feels as soft as a favorite pair of PJs. I purchased it from my favorite online fabric store, Hawthorne Threads. I purchase 2 yards at $14.50 per yard, plus tax and shipping. Not cheap but well worth it, I think.
I love the neckline on this top. I usually do not look good in a wrap neckline because of my small bust, but this it cut just right for me.

I love the neckline on this top. I usually do not look good in a wrap neckline because of my small bust, but this it cut just right for me.

Inside peek!

Inside peek!

DSC_0518I used clear elastic for the shirring on the sides. I first used this elastic on my Moneta Dress.

LET’S BE HONEST:
1. I cut a size C. The sizes range from A to J. The measurements on size C are: bust – 36″, waist – 28 1/2″, hips – 38 1/2.” I still have a pear shape even with these adjusted ratios. The pattern offered simple adjustment instructions for different body types. I followed the small bust adjustment and folded out 1/2″ through the middle of the dart to reduce dart width.

2. I followed the instructions by looking at the illustrations (which is what I usually do, unless the picture is confusing, then I read.) When I did my first try on, it felt a little too roomy, and I honestly felt I cut the right size for me. So I did a gradual take in on the sides from the armhole through the bust and waist and gradually came back out near the hip. Just today, when I glanced over the pattern, before writing this post, I noticed the instructions says to sew a 1″ seam down the sleeve and sides, then adjust if necessary depending on the stretch of your knit. Ah, that’s why it was big, I had stitched a standard 5/8″ seam! Oh well, next time.

3. You can’t really tell exactly how it’s going to look and fit until the elastic is sewed into the side seams to create the shirring. After I had done that, I wasn’t compelled to remove it to adjust the side seams. (Maybe I shouldn’t have been so lazy.)

3. While I love this fabric, I don’t think it’s a perfect choice for this pattern. Aside from the fact that the top should just fit me more snugly, I think the shirring at the bottom would form nicer folds with a thinner fabric such as a single jersey knit.

4. I shortened the sleeve by 1″ before cutting.

Despite not achieving the fit I envisioned based on the photo on the front of the envelope, I still like this top and I have something new to grab in my closet. I am actually very anxious to make this pattern again with a single knit and a more snug fit. I think it has the potential to be very flattering. Thanks for reading this post. I welcome your comments! Cheers, Lori

The Escalante Top

This is always my story. After I do one thing for I while, I get the urge to do something else. I have many creative loves. In addition to sewing, I love dyeing fabrics. Since January, I have been focusing my creative time on sewing for this blog, so recently I’ve had an itch to do some dyeing. So for Fresh Make #16, I have done both, and made a billowy, tie dyed blouse.DSC_0468DSC_0474DSC_0480The pattern I choose is McCall’s 6962 which I purchased recently at JoAnn’s on sale for $1.99. Since starting this blog, I have become a collector of big 4 patterns. When I stumble upon a sale at JoAnn’s, I sit down and leaf through the books. I challenge myself to consider patterns that aren’t necessarily my “style.” Kind of like agreeing to try on ready mades that you would not normally pull off the rack because you’ve taken to heart the advise of Clinton and Stacy of “What Not To Wear.” M6962 is one of those patterns. I was curious to see what I could do with it. I have named it the Escalante Top because I relate the organic feel of the top to the beautiful nature I experienced on our family vacation to Utah’s Escalante Grand Staircase National Monument this month.

I made view A.

I made view A.

I had some white, cotton, lawn fabric from Dharma Trading Co on hand. So I satisfied my dyeing fix by using it for this project. I used also Dharma Trading’s procion dyes in Chartruse and Steel Grey. (Please feel free to ask me about my dyeing process if you wish. That’s another topic for another day!) My fabric was 60″ wide, and view A required 1 1/2 yards.DSC_0466DSC_0475
A few decades ago, I was obsessed with using covering buttons in all my makes (actually, "projects," that's what we called them back then) I thought it would look cute to do a contrasting hand dyed covered button.

A few decades ago, I was obsessed with using covering buttons in all my makes (actually, “projects,” that’s what we called them back then) I thought it would look cute to do a contrasting hand dyed covered button.

I contemplated elastic or not. After a few try-ons, I decided to go for it. I'm happy I did.

I contemplated elastic or not. After a few try-ons, I decided to go for it. I’m happy I did.

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LET BE HONEST: 
1. This pattern is labeled EASY. For an experienced sewist, it is. I think a beginner would require some assistance on some parts, especially attaching the gathered part to the bib and doing the biased tape neckline.

2. To a degree, one’s measurements are not too important when determining what size to make on this pattern because there is so much design ease. I choose to make a Small (8-10) mainly because my biggest concern was that the neckline not be too big. It turned out that I am very happy with the fit and the way the neckline lies.

3. I waivered between elastic and no elastic at the bottom. Even though this fabric is fairly lightweight, it is a bit stiff, so I felt it needed to be corraled at the bottom so it wouldn’t be tent like. If I used a fabric that had a softer hand and a nice drape, I might have done no elastic.

4. This blouse is not my typical style. But, hey, I like it! I’m going to wear it!

Thanks for visiting me again! Have you sewn something recently that’s out of your style wheelhouse?

The Breezy Blouse

I realized only one of my Fresh Makes has been a top, and I think we often overlook the idea of sewing our own tops. Also I’m still staying true to the idea of not always grabbing a plain t-shirt to throw on over jeans. For these reasons I chose to make a cute, warm weather blouse for Fresh Make #10.DSC_0250 DSC_0260
The pattern I used is Butterick 6024. Like always, I purchased this pattern on sale at JoAnn’s for $1.40 (5 patterns for $7. But you really don’t have to buy 5.). I named this top the Breezy Blouse because it seems like an easy, fun, comfortable top to wear to a picnic or other causal outdoor event that doesn’t require athletic wear.

I made view D.

I made view D.

The fabric I used is a Robert Kaufman cotton voile. It’s finely woven, lightweight and soft, like Liberty of London, but for a third of the price. I purchased it at my favorite DTLA fabric store, Michael Levine. I bought 2 yards for $11.25 per yard. DSC_0262 DSC_0268DSC_0272 The neckline is finished with a self-made bias tape. The slit is created with a facing. DSC_0265 Here’s a peek at inside. To sew the bias tape at the neckline, first I sewed one edge to the inside of the neckline. Then I folded it over the raw edges and top stitched it very close to the folded edge of the bias tape on the front side of the neckline. DSC_0275

LET’S BE HONEST:

1. This pattern once again has the very common label of “EASY.” It’s actually not a bad pattern for a beginner, except, doing bias tape on a neckline requires careful sewing for it not to look “homemade.” The front slit also requires some accurate marking to make sure it gets stitched and cut straight down the center. I would say the sleeves, however, are fairly easy for a set-in sleeve as the cap is quite straight and there is not a lot of ease that needs distributed to fit the armhole.

2. About size – I decide to make a Small (8-10) even though my bust is not 31 1/2″ – 32 1/2″ and by no stretch of my imagination is my waist 24″ – 25.” I took the “finished measurement” of the bust area that was printed on pattern piece, and wrapped a tape measurement around my bust at that same measurement. I decided I liked that amount of “wearing ease.” I was afraid I would feel like I was swimming in the next size up. If the fabric had been more drapey like a rayon, I might have preferred more wearing ease.

3. Time to contemplate hem length and body type again. I choose to cut off 5″ from the hem of the blouse to transform it from a tunic length. Don’t get me wrong, I love the tunic style and would even wear it in some cases. If the fabric was soft and drapey, I might be OK with it longer. But with this cotton and the A-line cut, it flairs out from the body and looks kind of tent-like. I definitely do not need a wide hem hitting me at the thighs. Those of you ladies with long, thin legs, go ahead a keep the tunic length! Lucky you.

Overall I love my Breezy Blouse in this cotton voile. It’s lightweight and very comfortable to wear on a hot day when you don’t feel like bearing a lot of skin.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. And, as always, I welcome your comments.

Best, Lori

The Instead Top

Several years ago I made a resolution not to buy any more plain T-shirts. My casual tops must either have a print or interesting design feature. I did this to keep myself from being too boring. These tops however must be as comfortable and easy to wear as a T-shirt. Fresh Make #5 falls into this category. You can never have too many cute grab-and-go tops.

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The Pattern I used is Butterick 5356 which I purchased at JoAnn’s for $1.40 as part of a 5 Butterick patterns for $7 sale. I have named the pattern The Instead Top because you can grab it instead of a T-shirt. What attracted me to this pattern was the loose fit and the peplum style sleeves on view D. I love a loose fitting top because it’s flattering and forgiving to whatever you got going on underneath!

I made view D.

I made view D.

I purchased the fabric at The Fabric Store on La Brea Avenue in Los Angeles. I was thrilled when I learned of the opening of this shop, a new location, and first in the U.S., for this Austrailian company. I didn’t know what to expect and was not disappointed to when I found a beautiful selection of high quality natural fiber textiles at reasonable prices. I bought 1 1/4 yard of cotton knit at $12 per yard for this project. The feel of this fabric is smooth and soft, very light weight and luxorous for a cotton knit.

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LET’S BE HONEST:

1. This pattern is labeled “FAST & EASY.” While the pattern does avoid a set-in sleeve, it is a “knits only” pattern, has gathers, and a curved seam. None of these features should be a deal breaker, but would be best done with some guidance for a beginning sewist who has yet to do these techniques.

2. I thought size wouldn’t matter too much – because it was a loose fitting top. I cut a medium (12-14), and I should have cut a small (8-10). I still have trouble wrapping my head around the fact that there is a large difference in numbers between my bottom and top half. I did not like how the sleeve hung on me after attaching the ruffle, so I decided to take it off, take in the seam in the underarm area about an inch, and then re-attach.

3. This fabric was 54″ instead of 60″. The patterns always give yardage amounts for 60″ and usually if the fabric is a bit narrower it doesn’t matter. In this case I was unable to fit the full length of the sleeve ruffle pattern piece on the fabric and had to settle for a ruffle that was less full. I would have liked the 3 or 4 inches I had to leave off the diameter of the ruffle.

4. Don’t cut yourself in half at your widest part. One of the beauties of making your own clothes in you can adjust them to flatter you the best way possible. I turned the hem up 4″ instead of the 1 1/4″ allowed on the pattern. My widest part is my thighs and my legs are relately short, so I like my tops to end somewhere around the upper part of my hips.

Overall I am happy with my Instead top. However, if I were to make it again, I think I would make a size Small.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this post. As always, I welcome your feedback and comments. Lori