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

The Carol Dress

I haven’t had a shirtdress in recent memory, and definitely not one in a slinky knit. Since this is my year for trying new things, Fresh Make #3 is a knit shirtdress.DSC_0030 I used McCalls 6520. I purchased it at JoAnn’s Fabrics as part of my recent bunch of 5 McCalls patterns for $7. I have named this pattern The Carol Dress in honor of TV’s favorite 70’s mom, Carol Brady. I know her collars were more exaggerated and her hems were shorter, but this shirtdress style definitely hints back to that era.DSC_0050 I bought the fabric at Michael Levine’s in downtown L.A. on the same trip that I bought fabric for The Tina Jacket. The total cost for this project is truly something to brag about. I bought two yards of 60″ fabric for $5.00 per yard for this project. $10 for fabric + $1.40 for the pattern + $1.60 for buttons + $4.00 for interfacing + $1.95 for thread < $20! I don’t focus too much on cost for my projects because I sew for many other reasons, but the low cost for this project was worth mentioning.
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DSC_0028I can’t remember the last time I did a collar with a band. But it’s like riding a bike, you never forget how.
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LET’S BE HONEST:

1. This McCalls pattern is rated EASY. While this may be a simple version of a shirtdress, NO shirtdress pattern is recommended for beginners, especially one that is designed for knits only. Features such as collars, plackets and buttonholes are best practiced on woven fabrics first.

2. A word about working with this knit fabric. This synthetic knit is very stretchy and requires some slow and patient sewing. I found that I needed to hand-base about 3/8″ from the edge first before I topstitched around the collar to prevent the fabric from stretching on the top layer.

3. Numbers rear their ugly head again! Like with The Jean Skirt, the size that matched my measurements sounded way too large for me. I cut a size 14 on top and at the waist transitioned to a size 16! Wow! Just numbers, right? Last week I bought a pair of size 8 jeans at Ann Taylor. Oh pattern companys, why can’t you flatter us like Ann?

4. I’m not always the expert I think I am. I pride myself in taking the time adjust the pattern pieces to my measurements before I cut the fabric and also fit as I sew. I took 3/4″ off the length of the sleeve pattern and thought that would be fine. Well maybe the fabric stretched with the weight of the cuff, or I have really short arms – but the sleeves came out about 2″ too long. They bunched at the wrist and I knew I would not wear the dress like that. So I decided the best solution was say good-bye to an hour or so of hard work and simply cut them off!
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5. Shh! Big secret. I’m wearing a slip and shape wear in these photos. You got to hide the bumps and bulges when wearing a slinky knit!

Overall, I am very happy with my Carol Dress, and I am pleasantly surprised at it’s flattering fit.

Thanks for taking the time to read this post. I welcome your comments and questions.

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. ┬áSecond: 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.