The Truly Perfect Blouse

Ok, I broke my New Year’s resolution and got behind on my blogging. Taxes and a wonderful spring break vacation got in the way. I am always envious of other seamstresses who, no matter what, are so prolific all the time. What is their secret? Boundless energy? Hyper disciplined? No day job? Anyway, I have been anxious to share Fresh Make #26 with you because I am so pleased with it turned out. I have made a wrap blouse perfect for work or a fun spring event.

DSC_0037

I was inspired to make another wrap top after my success with the second try of The Every Woman Top. Unlike RTW, I discovered a custom made wrap top can actually look decent on me because I can adjust for my bust to hip ratio.

DSC_0044DSC_0073DSC_0054 The pattern I used was Vogue 8833, which I purchased on sale at JoAnn’s for $4.99. (I always mark the sale dates for Vogue patterns on my calendar.) I choose this pattern because of my new enthusiasm for the wrap design and my constant need for verstile, causal professional wear. Additionally, I am a big fan of the patterns that have the A,B,C,D cup size options.

vogue blouse

The fabric, which I ordered online, more than met my expectations. It is a smooth, lovely lawn cotton from Hawthorne Threads. Here are the specifics: Melody Miller, Playful Lawn, Vintage Flora lawn in Aqua. I love the fresh, modern color palate. It also comes in a couple of other colorways. I purchased 2 1/2 yards at $13.95 per yard.

DSC_0074

It has princess seams both in both front and back which add to a flattering fit. There’s an opening in one of the princess seams for the tie to go through. I added a thread loop on the opposite side seam at the waistline to hold the tie in place.

DSC_0084 DSC_0078

Because the lawn cotton sews up and irons so beautifully, I decided not to top-stitch the edge of the collar or facings.

DSC_0085 Here’s an inside peek so you can get a better idea of how it all goes together.

LET’S BE HONEST:
1. I think I say this everytime I make a Vogue pattern, but I feel I need to keep making this comment – this pattern is labeled “Easy.” I believe this rating is relative to other Vogue patterns, not sewing in general. This pattern has a collar with a band, set-in sleeves, and some other features that wouldn’t be appropriate for a beginning seamstress to attempt independently.

2. I cut a Size 12 on top and graded to a Size 16 on the bottom. I choose the B cup option. Overall I was very pleased with the fit and did not make any adjustments after trying it on while sewing.

3. The only thing I added that wasn’t suggested in the instructions, was a thread loop at one side seam to hold the tie in place.

4. Honestly, I have nothing more to say about this pattern, except it sews up exactly like it looks. I am very happy with it. I truly think it would be great on all figure types.

REFLECTIONS, REVELATIONS, AND CONFESSIONS:
I’m just anxious to publish this post. Even when I’m on a fabulous vacation, I miss sewing and blogging. I still look on Instagram and scan through other blogs to keep up on what others are doing. How about you? How do you feel when you don’t have time to sew….even when you’re having a fabulous time doing something else?

DSC_0025

Advertisements

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 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 Teacher Dress

I found myself unexpectedly with a new “day” job at the end of the summer. I’m now teaching middle school math at a small private school. Even though it’s only for three hours each morning, I still want to look the part. So I made myself a simple, day dress appropriate for teaching for Fresh Make #19.DSC_0584DSC_0587DSC_0605 The pattern I choose is Vogue 8764. I already had the fabric and when I spotted this pattern, I knew it was the one. I waited a few weeks for the $4.99 Vogue pattern sale at JoAnn’s to purchase it. I have named it The Teacher Dress because it is an updated version of those full gathered dresses and jumpers of the early 90’s that my peers and I referred to as “teacher dresses.”

I made view A.

I made view A.

The fabric which I purchased online at Hawthorne Threads is a woven quilting weight cotton from the “Serafina” collection by Alice Kennedy. I got one yard of the red and two yards of the grey, both a $9.95 per yard. I had purchased the fabric a few months ago, in the middle of summer, with the intention of making another Sunshine Jumper. But summer escaped me without sewing it up, and I decided a short sleeved dress would serve me better in the fall.

I did a 1 1/4" hand hem.

I did a 1 1/4″ hand hem.

DSC_0581

I just put a regular ol’ zipper in.

The pattern actually gives instructions for a fully lined dress. I did not want the added weight of a lining with my cotton dress. So I just put a facing on the neckline, and for this, I had to make my own front and back facing pattern pieces.DSC_0587DSC_0579
DSC_0618

LET’S BE HONEST:
1. This pattern is labeled as “very easy” and for a Vogue pattern, it probably is. There really nothing beyond basic techniques such as darts, a zipper, set-in sleeves, and, in my case, a facing. I would not, however, recommend this pattern for a beginning seamstress who is working independently.

2. I cut a size 14 on the top and graded to a 16 on the bottom. In all honesty, the bodice is still a bit big, and I could still use a tad room through belly and hips. I guess I just have to face the fact that with a semi-fitted dress, I am at least two sizes different on top and bottom. I actually do know this, but I think I’m trying to keep the original proportions of the design as illustrated. But, hey, if it’s not right for your body, don’t buy the pattern, or be happy with a change in silhouette. Right?

3. Unlike the instructions, I did a hand hem on both the bottom and sleeve. I added about 1″ to the bottom before cutting the pattern pieces to make sure I would have enough length to hit me mid-knee with a 1 1/4″ hem.

Overall, I am very happy with my new teacher dress. I wore it to school yesterday, got a compliment from one of my fashion forward 5th graders! I just love it when young people compliment someone who is even older than their mom!

Thanks for reading this post. I your welcome your comment and questions. Cheers! Lori

The Traveler Dress

Since starting this blog, I have rediscovered the joy of wearing dresses, I mean everyday, grab-n-go dresses, especially for hot summer weather. Even though we’re in the dog days of summer here in inland So Cal, I’ve started to turn my sewing thoughts to fall. So for Fresh Make #15 I have made a transition dress, one take will take me from end of summer onto fall.

I asked my filmmaker son to take photos of me and he told me to stand in the dirt in the field across the street from our house.

I asked my filmmaker son to take photos of me and he told me to stand in the dirt in the field across the street from our house.

DSC_0443DSC_0462 The pattern I chose is Simplicity 2246. This is part of the “lisette” collection, which I think is Simplicity’s attempt to appeal to the young, hip, indie sewist. Like all the indie patterns, they have even given it a name, Traveler Dress. (I didn’t have to make one up this time.) It’s an adorable shirt dress with lots of options to “make it your own.” I purchased my pattern at JoAnn’s Fabrics for $1 several months ago during one of their 5 for $5 Simplicity pattern sales.

I made View A, leaving off the hips pockets (I do not need to bring emphasis to that area of my body!). I also made the cap sleeve in View C because just looking at longer sleeves in the middle of summer makes me sweat.2246 The fabric I used is from an awesome chambray collection by Andover Fabrics. I purchased 2  1/2 yards of Chambray in Bluegrass and 1/2 yards of Chambray in Tailor at $9.25 per yard from Hawthorne Threads, my favorite online fabric store.DSC_0440 You can’t go wrong with a basic shirtdress but I couldn’t resist putting my own little twist by using a different color for the sleeve. I had seen some denim blouses and dresses that had different shades of denims on the sleeves on Pinterest, so I was hoping to be a little trendy. Maybe not. Oh, who cares, I really like it. DSC_0448

I am a big proponent of blind hme on dresses and skirts, regardless of what is shown in the directions. I'm not opposed to a machine blind hem when possible like here.

I am a big advocate of blind hems on dresses and skirts, regardless of what is shown in the directions. I am not opposed to a machine blind hem when possible, like here.

DSC_0451

LET’S BE HONEST;
1. This pattern, unlike most, does not have a difficulty rating. A shirt dress is never an appropriate project for a novice, but I have to say for a shirt dress, this pattern is “easy.” The collar does not have a separate neckband which simplifies construction, however it does sacrifice a more tailored look. Maybe you care, maybe you don’t. The instructions are typical of a big 4 pattern, only additionally there are “lisette tips” which I actually thought could be helpful for a new sewist.

2. I graded between a size 12 at the bodice to a size 14 on the bottom. As I always do, I measured the actually pattern pieces at key spots with a tape measure and then put the tape measure around me at the same spot. Then, I decide if I like that amount of wearing ease, and determine what size (or sizes) I cut from there. If you spend time doing this you should get fairly good fitting results. I’m saying this because I have to get something off my chest…I have noticed with the online sewing community, it seems to have become standard practice to make “muslins” for regular garments. That seems unappealing and time consuming to me. I just think careful measuring of the paper pattern can allow you to skip this step. To each her own, if you like making muslins, don’t let me stop you.

3. I am very happy with the cut and fit of this pattern. The slight A-line makes it possible to flatter those of us with a bit of a pear shape. The only change I would make is to the circumference of the sleeve band. I measured my upper arm and added an 1″ to the band, but I would actually add yet another 1″. It’s comfortable when my arms are at my side, but the range of motion is limited because there is no “give” in the fabric.

4. Overall, there were no surprises or oddities with pattern and I would definitely recommend it to an intermediate sewist.

Thanks for reading this post. What will you make to help you comfortably transition into fall?

The Sunshine Jumper

I am keeping true to my declaration of wearing more dresses and skirts, and less jean shorts and capris for spring and summer. I’m building my collection of warm weather clothing with a versatile sleeveless dress for Fresh Make #8.
DSC_0174 The pattern I choose is Butterick 5781. I purchased it at JoAnn’s Fabrics for $1.40 as part of their 5 Butterick patterns for $7 sale. This style of dress seems to have made a bit of a comeback, and it’s been years and years since I made a dress comfy dress like this for myself. I named it the Sunshine Jumper because, while it’s a sundress, it can also be worned with a t-shirt underneath. DSC_0184 I purchased the fabric from my favorite online fabric store, Hawthorne Threads. The prints are by Lotta Jansdotter, specifically, Blomster in Coral from the Mormor collection and Ruta in White from the Sylvia collection. The fabric is quilting weight, 100% cotton, perfect for this dress. The fabric was $9.25 per yard, and I needed about 1 yard for the bodice and 2 yards for the skirt. I also lined the bodice with 1 yard of white cotton from JoAnn’s.

The dress has hidden seam pockets.

The dress has hidden seam pockets.

I’m not sure a have the perfect shoes for this dress. I think I might need to go shopping! I’m modeling it with two different types of sandals to show the versatility of the dress. DSC_0166DSC_0172

The feel and style of the dress lent itself to some double white topstitching on the bodice.

The feel and style of the dress lent itself to some double white topstitching on the bodice.

DSC_0161 The bodice is fully lined and all the seams are overlocked. The hand-sewn hem is 2″ wide.DSC_0165

LET’S BE HONEST:

1. The Butterick pattern is labeled Easy. In reality, it is easy for an experienced sewer. There are quite a few techniques that wouldn’t be easy if you were doing them for the first time such as facings, zipper, pleats, and princess seams. Overall there are no surprises or odd features to this pattern.

2. There’s no other way of saying it – I am small busted. The advantage for me of constructing my own garments is I can balance out my portions by custom fitting. With this pattern, I was going for more of a semi-fitted bodice, rather than a fitted one because I felt like a fitted bodice would emphasize the discrepancy in size between my top and bottom half, especially with a full skirt. This pattern had different bodice pattern pieces for A/B, C, and D cups. Of course I used the A/B pattern piece and still took it in at the bust after my first try-on. I took it in again at the side seams after my second try-on. I eventually achieved the fit I wanted.

3. I LOVE the pleats on the skirt. I was hesitant to make a dress with a full skirt because my extra inches through my mid-section. But these pleats lay completely flat with no extra poof where you don’t need it. I’m still staying away from gathers, but yes, I can do pleats!

4. I wanted my hemline to be between view A and C, so I added a few inches onto the skirt A length pattern piece before cutting out the fabric. I like my hem to hit right below the knee cap at the narrowist part of the leg above the calf. That’s where it most flattering because you’re showing off your curves rather than cutting your leg off at a wider part.

Overall, I love my Sunshine Jumper and plan on wearing it a whole lot this summer and spring. Thank you for taking the time to read this post. I welcome your comments. Lori

The Festival Skirt

I’m going to wear lots of skirts this spring and summer. Enough of those jeans shorts. I’m adding a second skirt to my stylish handmade collection for Fresh Make #5.
DSC_0099
The pattern I choose was Simplicity 2416. I purchased this pattern at JoAnn’s Fabrics for $1.00 during their 5 Simplicity patterns for $5.00 sale. I like this pattern because it has a retro 70’s vibe and it seemed like it would be a fun, feel good skirt to wear. I named the pattern The Festival Skirt because I could imagine a groovy gal frolicking around in a swirl skirt like this a summer music festival.

I made view B.

I made view B.

I am in love with the fabrics I choose. They are from Amy Butler’s Hapi Voile collection, purchased from my favorite online fabric store, Hawthorne Threads. This cotton voile is amazing. It’s smooth and lightweight with a beautiful drape – a delight to sew with. The cost for this fabric, including shipping was $58.50 and worth every penny.
DSC_0102

DSC_0105
DSC_0109

There's a simple elastic casing at the waist.

There’s a simple elastic casing at the waist.

 

I overlocked all the edges together and did a rolled hem.

I overlocked all the edges together and did a rolled hem.


LET’S BE HONEST:
1. The pattern pieces, all seven, are just a series of swirls (or flounces as they are referred to in the directions), it is viturally impossible to measure the pattern pieces for fit before cutting out the fabric. So with my new updated knowledge about my measurements, I simply cut a size 16. Always error to the larger size – you can always trim off fabric, but you can’t add on. Right? It turns out it fit fine. I probably could have gotten away with a 14, but for me, there’s nothing worse than fabric pulling across the tummy.

2. 54″ vs. 6o” I ran across this same issue with The Instead Top. The pattern envelope gave yardage amounts for 45″ and 60″, but this Amy Butler fabric is 54″ wide. Again, I thought it would be fine to buy the specified amount for 60″, but I ended up having to do some “creative” manipulations of the patterns pieces to fit them all on the fabric. I would definitely buy at least an 1/8 of a yard more of each fabric if I were to repeat this project.

3. Interesting hem. The directions instruct you to hem the second to last flouce before sewing on the last flounce. (The hem is split between the two contrasting fabrics.) This resulted in curve that I’m not sure I care for.
DSC_0113
This flouce (the flower print one) also dipped more in one spot, creating a bit of an uneven hem. But, hey, maybe I shouldn’t let that bother me. The photo on the pattern envelope kind of looked that way too.

4. I did “raise” the skirt a bit. I anticipated that the skirt would probably be too long, but also knew it would be tedious and risky to mess with the swirl pattern pieces to shorten the length. After completing the hem but before doing the elastic casing, I tried it on and determined that I would cut off 2″ from the waist to shorten it. This adjustment was minor enough that it didn’t affect the fit or look of the skirt.

Overall, I am completely enamored with the skirt! And I highly recommend the Amy Butler cotton voiles if you choose to make a Festival skirt.

Again, whether you are a sewer or non-sewer, I sincerely appreciate you for taking the time to read this post. As always, I welcome your comments and feedback. Lori