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

Anima Pants

I’m not back to selfish sewing yet. I stumbled upon a competition using New Zealand indie company, Papercut Patterns “Anima Pant.” So Hanna wins out again with this modern, sport pant for Fresh Make #14.

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This is my second indie pattern (I made the Moneta dress on my previous post.) I was convinced to purchase Papercut’s Anima Pant when they were offering 20% off the $25 price, plus free shipping (all the way from New Zealand!). And I have to say it arrived sooner than I expected. It comes packaged in a nifty cardboard, hanging envelope.
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The pattern comes with different length options.

The pattern comes with different length options.

The competition is co-sponsored by The Fabric Store. Their only U.S. location is only La Brea Avenue in Los Angeles. Lucky us! A great excuse for Hanna and I to go into the city, and also stop in for a delicious drink and yummy goodie directly across the street at The Sycamore Kitchen. Hanna had free reign in the fabric selection. I always like to see what my art student daughter will choose. The fabric is a beautiful, drapey, single knit jersey. I regret to say that I’m not sure of the fiber content. It looks and feels like a cotton/rayon blend. I pre-shrunk it in the washer and dryer, and it came out beautifully. We bought 1 1/2 yards at $12 per yard. Hanna also chose a waffle ribbed knit for a contrasting waistband.

Fabric in hand in La Brea Avenue.

Fabric in hand on La Brea Avenue.

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The waistband is made with 2″ wide elastic and a drawstring. My buttonholes did not end up in the middle of the waistband, so I put an extra row of shirring at the top, different from the pattern instructions.

I sewed the seams with my regular machine and then serged them together.

I sewed the seams with my regular machine and then serged them together.

The pants have 4" cuffs at the leg bottom.

The pants have 4″ cuffs at the leg bottom.

Back side.

Back side.

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LET’S BE HONEST:
1. The pattern comes in sizes XXS to XL. For Hanna, I cut between a XS and S, and it fit perfectly. Her hips are about 37 1/2″. The rise on the waist/crotch was also perfect for her, not too low, not too high. (I have to say that it is definitely styled to flatter a young, fit gal. And there’s nothing wrong with that. At this point in my life, the most effective way, even more so than watching what I eat, to avoid a “muffin top”, is to wear my pants at my waist!)

2. Besides cutting in-between sizes, the only adjustment I made to the pattern was on the leg length. Hanna’s legs are on the shorter side, so I took off 2″ with a pattern adjustment before cutting out the fabric, and another inch at the bottom once she tried them on before attaching the cuffs.

3. I wrote quite a bit about pattern instructions on my last post about the Moneta Dress, so I won’t repeat a lot of my comments here, except that I feel the same way about this pattern’s instructions. It has a fun graphic presentation printed on brown paper bag like paper. But again, just like on the Colette pattern, and many of the big 4 patterns, the details just aren’t there for the novice sewist.

4. The waffle knit ribbing that Hanna chose for the waistband actually did not end up being a practical choice when it came to sewing with the elastic. The fabric was super stretchy and was difficult to attach the 2″ elastic to it without getting a lot of puckers on the back side. (I finally told myself – Who cares? – no one will see the inside. And it certainly doesn’t matter to Hanna.)

5. I have to say again that this a fabulous, modern, fresh, knit pant pattern. It drapes perfectly on Hanna. The leg width is perfect too. I know for a fact that Hanna will be wearing these pants a lot when she returns to her college campus this fall.

Thanks again for reading my post! Happy sewing! Lori

The Moneta Dress

Having my daughter home for the summer gives me an excuse to try some fun projects that are more suited to the younger crowd. For Fresh Make #13, I decided to make Hanna a Moneta which is an indie design by Colette Patterns that is wildly popular with the online sewing community. DSC_0354 DSC_0348 DSC_0346 The Moneta is available online as printed paper pattern for $18, or as a PDF for $14. I splurged for the printed pattern plus an additional $5.50 for shipping because I’m not fond of PDFs, and I was curious to see the hip graphic design and packaging. Now, $23.50 is a lot for me to spend on pattern, but I felt I needed to try an indie pattern to keep up with the online community. I have to say, the dress is adorable and a smartly designed pattern. I will save my knit picky comments to the end of my post.
cp1028-moneta-cover-med-37a80b85ae73088a6d790a6771162577 The fabric I chose is from the online store, Girl Charlee. I have to be honest that I hesitantly ordered from them as I have been disappointed in their fabrics more than once. I was swayed by the claim that the fabric was made in Los Angeles, and I like to buy American made if possible. Unfortunately, this fabric was no improvement over my past purchases. Basically there is very litte stretch in this single knit jersey and the design is printed significantly off grain. Previously I thought it wouldn’t be cool to bad mouth a resource, but I recently read a post in another blog in which the author chose to be honest about her disappointment in Girl Charlee, and then several readers commented that they felt the same way about the site’s products. Shouldn’t we be truthful in a blog?

The bodice calls for lining. I always like to find something in my stash for linings and such. I used a recycled t-shirt. I also used a hand-dyed recycled t-shirt for the constrasting collar fabric.

The back neckline is slightly lower than the front. Cool design detail, huh?

The back neckline is slightly lower than the front. Cool design detail, huh?

The collar is cleverly sewn with the seam on the outside, but remains hidden when the collar folds over.

The collar is cleverly sewn with the seam on the outside, but remains hidden when the collar folds over.

The bodice is fully lined, and the instructions provide a technique that was new to me for completely machine finishing the armholes.
DSC_0364 The skirt waist was “shirred” (gathered) with an new version of an old technique of stretching the elastic evenly around the opening and sewing it directly on the fabric. I have done this countless times for elastic waistbands on knits, but never for the purpose of gathering a skirt which attaches to a bodice.

The skirt is shirred with clear, lightweight elastic. This techique enables the waist stretch when pulling the dress on and off.

The skirt, shirred with elastic, enables the waist stretch when pulling the dress on and off.

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LET’S BE HONEST:
1. This pattern is a hip, modern and fresh design for knits. I now understand why everyone loves their Monetas.

2. Although Hanna’s measurements more closely corresponded to a SMALL, and the pattern provided an explanation about “negative ease” with knits, I cut a MEDIUM because the fabric had little stretch and the recycled t-shirt I used for the lining was of a thicker fabric. It fit her perfectly for the type of fabric used. I could see though, that if it was made with a stretchy fabric like a rib knit, a smaller size would be appropriate.

3. Please allow me to go on record as staying that I don’t think it necessary or a good technique to serge your 2 collar pieces when it is being flipped right-side out and the bulky serged seam will lie around the inside edge of the collar. This was done on a sewalong I followed, and I’ve seen it done other places online. With knits, even if they curl a bit, I still grade the seam allowances for a smooth outside finish when I am encasing them. A gentle pressing with the iron does wonders too for a nice quality finish.

4. Thoughts on instructions: I know the instructions on the big four pattern companies are ugly and hard to follow. Nobody likes to read them. The Moneta pattern comes with a thread-bound 32 page instruction booklet with simple illustrations on uncluttered, spacious layouts. While I was captured by the novelty of the instructions being visually different, when I really dove into them taking the perceptive of someone with little background experience/knowledge, they were just as hard to follow as traditional patterns instructions. I am not knocking people who write sewing instructions for any company. I know it must be hard; I wouldn’t want to do it. These instructions also contain some shaded boxes that direct you to websites with videos that contain further instruction details on some of the main techniques. This is a good thing, but I’m going to say that I’m glad that I could rely my own knowledge rather than go watch a video.

To conclude, Hanna did not pick out the fabric and did not ask me to this make this dress. I wanted to make it and I think it’s adorable, but I am not of the age or have the figure to wear it. I think she likes it; I hope she wears it. Whatever the case, it is still is joy to sew for her as I have done since she was very young.

Again, thanks for reading this post. I welcome your comments. Cheers, Lori