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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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

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.

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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
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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