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?

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The Jennifer Dress

As soon as I saw this pattern while shopping a Butterick pattern sale at JoAnn’s several months ago, I knew I wanted to make this for my sister-in-law who loves that 50’s retro vibe. So I am once again sewing someone else stylish for Fresh Make #18.DSC_0551DSC_0546DSC_0554
The pattern I used is Butterick 5982. I basically made a sleeveless version of view C. As mentioned above, I bought the pattern on sale at JoAnn’s for $1.40. I named it the Jennifer Dress after my sister-in-law.DSC_0574
The fabric is a soft, smooth lawn cotton we purchased at The Fabric Store on La Brea Avenue in Los Angeles. My photos unfortunately do not do this fabric justice. It’s a calico like print of rich blue colored flowers set on a creamy white background, and it’s looks beautiful against Jennifer’s sun kissed skin.

One of the design details I really like about this pattern, along with that adorable bow, is the flat center skirt front. The gathers go up to an inverted pleat on both sides and then it’s flat for about 6″ in the middle. A flattering element for those of us whose waists and bellies aren’t what they used to be. (No, Jennifer, I’m not talking about you! I’m sure you would look good with gathers around the whole waist. I’m just speaking in general.)

Please excuse the coloring in this photos. I took it in the early morning and then went to Jennifer's house and gave the dress to her. So no retakes.

Please excuse the coloring in this photos. I took it in the early morning and then went to Jennifer’s house and gave the dress to her. So no retakes.

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back view

back view

The bodice is fully lined in a white cotton. I did some “slow sewing” as I attached the lining by hand along the zipper and waist. I also did a hand hem after machine sewing hem tape on the bottom edge.
You might notice some picking at the neckline. You can read about that below if you're interested.

You might notice some puckering at the neckline. You can read about that below if you’re interested.

Jennifer is on the front porch of her newly purchased home!

Jennifer is on the front porch of her newly purchased home!

LET’S BE HONEST:
1. It is always a joy for me to sew for others. The drawback is coordinating fittings or sacrificing a few when that person does not live that close to me. On the first fitting, before I applied the lining or did any finish work, the neckline layed flat on Jennifer. On the second fitting, it pooched out as if the fabric was stretched when I attached the lining at the neckline. I was flummoxed and the truth is it didn’t matter how it happened, I needed to find way to fix it. I was not up for ripping out the lining and re-doing the whole bodice. I had not yet attached the lining at the waist, I decided to run some rows of basing stitches on the lining layer only, close to the neck edge and ease in the extra width. You can see this in the photo of the dress inside. It’s not a proud sewing moment for me, but a reasonable solution. Jennifer was fine with it.

2. It’s a bit confusing as to how the bodice is supposed to fit on this pattern. Of course, the beauty of sewing is you can make it fit however you want. I just want to point out that the photo of the orange dress on the envelope front has a semi-fitted bodice, and the illustrations look close-fitted. Additionally the description on the back of the pattern says “close-fitting.” Jennifer’s bodice fits like the photo, which is a good thing because she doesn’t care for form-fitting clothes.

3. The pattern is labeled EASY. It might be easy for this style of dress, but would say it does required some intermediate sewing skills. At least some experience with gathers, zippers, facings and linings.

4. Jennifer wanted the dress to hit below her knees, so I added 5″ to the skirt bottom when cutting out the fabric. It was just enough for a 2″ hem.

I think Jennifer loves her new dress. When she put the finished dress on for our photo shoot, she didn’t want to take it off. But she did because she wanted to keep it nice to wear on the first day of school. She’s a third grade teacher.

Thanks again for reading my blog. I welcome your comments about this dress or your experiences sewing for others. Cheers, Lori

The Jean Skirt

I am filled with excitement as I write my first post on my new blog, “Sewing Myself Stylish.” For my first of 24 projects, I stitched up a simple skirt.

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I was tired of pulling on one of the same four pairs of jeans every day, so I wanted to make a skirt that was as easy and comfortable as a pair of jeans. The pattern I used is Simplicity 1616 which I bought at JoAnn’s sometime last year for $1.00 in their 5-Patterns-for-$5.00 sale. I like to think of myself as a modern sewist. Modern sewists use indie patterns that have names instead of numbers. So I’m going to rename this pattern “The Jean Skirt” because it as easy to wear as your favorite pair of jeans!

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I choose this knit fabric because I liked the graphic floral pattern, and I liked that it was navy blue and white which really acts as a neutral and can be worned with just about any color of t-shirt.

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What I like about this pattern is that it’s not form-fitting, nor is it too full. It also has a 6 inch yolk/panel that eliminates fullness around the belly and allows t-shirts to lay flat. Don’t we all want that!

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There is an elastic casing at the waist.

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I did a blind machine hem. (Contact me if you want more details on that.)

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Here’s a peek at the inside. I overlocked all edges.

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LET’S BE HONEST:

1. I have a lot of experience sewing with knits, so I have probably made this look easier than it might really be for someone who isn’t familiar with knit techniques. I am happy to share my techniques or answer your questions anytime. Just ask!

2. I am not revealing my online fabric source for this project. While I was happy with the result of my project, I was actually disappointed in the fabric. It is much thinner than I expected and it is printed off-grain. Since the flowers are a grid design, I spent a lot of time manipulating the fabric to keep the rows of flowers lined up way that was minimally acceptable to me. I still like this online fabric company and I’m not writing this blog to give negative reviews, so I will just leave them un-named.

3. IT’S JUST A NUMBER! If you’ve read my About Page, you will know that I haven’t sewn for myself in a long time. When I use to sew a lot for myself back in the day, I was 15 to 20 pounds less, and in turn my measurements were less too. I use to make size 12 skirt patterns, and that sounded huge back then, especially when I wore a 6 or 8 in readymades. Well, now, if I directly translate my current waist and hips measurements on the pattern envelope to a size, I’m between an 16 and an 18! Gulp! In readymades, I wear an 8 or 10. I can see that these number discrepancies might set a beginning sewer up for a fitting disaster if she just cuts the “size” that she thinks she is, rather than actually measuring the actual pattern pieces against her actual measurements.

4. I made three adjustments to the pattern. First: The “yolk” was 7″ inches long and I shorten it to 6″. I felt it would match the length of my t-shirts better. Β Second: I eliminated a slit on the side. Since the fabric was thin, I knew I would have to wear a slip. Yes, a slip. Remember those? I knew that a slip would show if it had a slit. Third: The instructions said to “float” the elastic in the yolk. This sounded strange to me, so I stitched a casing at the top just wide enough for the elastic.

Thank you for taking the time to read about my first “Sewing Myself Stylish” project. I can’t wait to get started on the next one! I welcome your feedback.