Fall Wardrobe Additions


My fall sewing plans are probably out of control already but I couldn't help added a few new things to the list.

1. Tunic tops!
Now that I've got a handle on some of my upper body fit issues wearing woven tops is a lot more comfortable. Also seems a great way to sew up some of those 2 yard silk cuts that are in the stash.

Bought Vogue 1323 with this in mind but have yet to get the patterned muslined up.  (Is that a real term? Muslined up.  It is now.)

Also have my old standby pattern the Wiksten Tova top. Whipped up this one from some new polka dot rayon on Tuesday.
Realized after making it that I know a lot more about fitting now and should make a couple of changes. Originally I added a dart to the armhole which should be moved to the side seam. Should also add a sway back adjustment and maybe drop the armholes a tad. My original review is here.

2. Winter Coat
Been walking around in a maternity coat since my son was born 2 years ago.  Guess what, a maternity coat makes you look pregnant. Which is fine if you are pregnant but not so great if you're just carrying around 20lbs of baby weight.

Love Gertie's new Retro Butterick pattern but I don't have the funds to buy 6-7 yards of wool coating right now.  Did pick up the pattern in the 99 cent JoAnn's sale, because some day that coat will be mine.

Colette patterns came through for me with the new Ansie pattern.

In the stash I've got 3.5 yards of kelly green coating and some contrasting leopard lining.

Could even get crazy and add one of these stashed faux furs to the collar or add some cuffs.
Oh yeah that's gonna be nice. Not to mention that wool coating takes up a ton of stash storage area. Plans are to finish up the second Salme blazer muslin and then start tracing off the pattern for Anise.

The Slim Blazer version 1 - McCalls 6519


How cute is McCall's 6519 with it's little one piece collar, roll up cuffs, and patch pockets?  Even better it's an easy no dart or lining affair, just finish the seams and you're good to go.

Or you could decide that it needs a lining, welt pockets and some darts. Cause why not complicate matters.
Do you like my pockets flaps? You know you do.
I did not plan on making any of these changes when this project began. But give me a couple days to think and I'll come up with a way to "improve" things.  (OK, this time it totally worked out but it could have very easily been a wadder.)

I started out with the usual fitting changes.....
-1/2" forward shoulder adjustment.
- Blending the size 16/18 together for more ease in the hip.
- 1/2" sway back adjustment.
- Increased width across the upper back by 1", adding shoulder dart to take care of the excess at the shoulder seam.

Pulled out my long stashed navy wool suiting (using stash Yeah!) cut out the pieces and got the shell all sewn up complete with the patch pockets.   About this time I decided this jacket really did need a lining because the wool suiting was unraveling all over the place.  So I popped on over to Grainline Studio and used Jen's lovely tutorial.  I also drafted facings for the hem and the back neck, just trace those areas of the pattern and cut them down to the width you want.

I'm trying on the shell, checking to see if my fitting changes are good and the jacket just looks blah.  Got that horrible feeling that you've just spent a bunch of time making something you're never going to wear. Uh Ohhhhhhh!  In an uncharacteristic moment of clarity I realized the collar and sleeves were great but the body of the jacket was bringing the whole garment down.  The patch pockets looked too small for the size 18 and the boxy cut just wasn't working with my large bust. 

The patch pockets were ripped off and immediately the jacket looked better.  Sigh of relief, now I know we're on the right track.  Then I thought, "What if I fudge the look of a princess line seam by putting a long dart where a princess line seam would be."  Took out a burda pattern with princess line seams I'd just traced (118 from issue 1/2010) and used that as a guide for dart placement.  The front darts are 1/2" wide (1/4" dart intake) and 9 3/4" long, the back darts are also 1/2" wide but are 17" long.  The burda pattern also had welt pockets with flaps so I borrowed them for the McCalls jacket. 
Yes we did take 2 hours to sew on.  You must work for your flap happy welts.

I'm really happy with the pocket switch-a-roo, but I did find it impossible to get the welt corners to press flat.  There are so many layers of wool that a crease seems to get pressed in.  Maybe I need some special pressing tool.

Sewed in the super fun animal print lining, added a little top stitching to the collar and this jacket was perfect!
Business on the outside, party on the inside.

Complete flicker set here and my pattern review here if you want a few sewing notes.  Now it's time to sew my Salme jacket muslin which I forgot to add seam allowance too.  Haahaa, I'm an idiot.

Planning for Fall


The last couple of days I've been happily window shopping to figure out what fall trends to include in my fall sewing plan. The fact is that I need pants in my size and long sleeve T-shirts to replace the grease stained V-necks I've been wearing for 4+ years.  But all that is pretty bland sewing so here's a few fun pieces I'm thinking of making to spice things up.

1. Slim blazers
Love these little blazers that are more fashion forward than something that belongs in a matching pantsuit.  The one pictured has a leather collar which seems like the perfect thing to knock off now that I've got leather sewing "experience."  This is actually one area where I was thinking ahead and have just finished McCalls 6519 in a long stashed navy suiting.  Will be posting about it soon.
I also have a muslin cut out of Salme's Cropped Blazer pattern.   Hoping this will look cute on me since since about 7 different suitings were found in that last stash dive. 

2. Dolmen sleeve knit tops

Dolmen sleeve tops might be one of those trends I can't pull off but I'm gonna try.  They look so comfy and yet fashionable at the same time.

JoAnn's was having a sale on Burda patterns I so picked up 7203 which has a woven dolmen top.

What I probably should do is get out the Sewaholic Renfrew pattern and draft a dolmen sleeve onto it.  If this happens I'll show you how to do it.

3. Skinny jeans
Not as skinny as this model's jeans cause I'm not a size 4, but something that's a departure from the boot legs I've been wearing for years.

Last winter I played around with the Colette clover pattern to make into a skinny jean with some success.  The fit wasn't quiet right so it's probably time to take another stab at that.

I also picked up Vogue 8774 which has good reviews on PR, but I'm sure will need all my laborious pant alterations.
Those are the patterns I'm eyeing at the moment but as we all know sewing queues tend to change often.  Tomorrow I'll be pics of my finished McCalls 6519 and some details on how I "classed it up." 

Style Arc Karen Walk Short Review


While most of my August was spent sewing the motorcycle jacket I did manage to squeeze the Karen walk shorts from Style Arc.   They are styled much like a pair of trousers with back welt pockets and front slash pockets.  I thought the knee length would be great, giving me more leg coverage, but photos suggest otherwise.  Doh!  Oh well, it seems at 30 something I'm still finding out what flatters and doesn't flatter my figure.

Despite my blindness to figure flaws I think this is a nice pattern.  Like Thurlow they lots of pockets and a front fly zipper, which makes them practical to wear. Also as a plus my fitting alterations on the size 16 were not that extensive.

Most of the fitting changes were made to the back pant piece to add to the rise.  Added and 1 1/4" to the CB at the top of the pattern, redrew the crotch seam to more of a diagonal line,  added 2 1/4" to the width of the entire leg which also extended the crotch rise.  I tapered the inside leg a bit to compensate for all the extra width that was added. 

Interesting, at least to me, didn't have to drop the crotch at all which is pretty much a standard alteration on me.  However Style Arc seems to now that a size 16 girl needs some more room in the tush area.

Alternations I probably should have done were knock knee adjustment, cutting down the front waist a tad and maybe removing the front dart. 

Having just finished a pair of Thurlows sewing on the Karen walk short was a piece of cake.  Welt pockets go a heck of a lot faster when your skills aren't rusty.  The only confusion was that the pattern seemed to have an extra pocket bag/facing or something.  Tried to figure it out but in the end just didn't cut that pattern piece and made the welt pocket bags the way I usually do.

Final thoughts -  Next year I'll probably pull this pattern out, shorten the leg a tad and be perfectly happy with it. 

Motorcycle Jacket Project - Part 3


Stick a fork in it cause the motorcycle jacket is done.  Time for fun finished object pics.
Front view zipped and unzipped.
One of the things I really liked about the original fossil jacket is that it looked good zipped and unzipped.  The width of the left front facing and the snapped down lapels balances out the off center zip.
A close up of the snapped lapel.

Didn't have any luck finding the kind of metal snaps you see on RTW leather jackets so I bought size 24 Antiqued Brass snap heads from Snapsource.com.  The look of the snap head is nice and they work well for a decorative snap that won't be used much.   I don't think this leather would hold up to a lot of snap usage, its a bit delicate.
You've already seen the pocket zipper but here a little look inside the pocket.
Sleeve vent open
Back view
I did sacrifice a little upper back width for a slimmer looking silhouette.  The sway back adjustment could have been a little bigger.  That's OK, learning fitting is a work in progress. :)
The decorative back tabs, the other use of snaps in the jacket.
And finally a little shot of the lining.

More photos on the flickr set here and if you want to read my pattern review on this project go here.  There are many beautiful jackets entered in the lined jacket contest. Take a look if you have some time.  Some of those beautifully tailored jackets make me feel like a beginning sewer.  What great inspiration to do some more learning about making tailored jackets.

Motorcycle Jacket Project - Part 2


August, where did you go?   I think it got sucked down a black hole of jacket sewing and 2nd birthday party planning.

I've been making great progress on the motorcycle jacket project, partly because I bought the original jacket and have been using it for construction details. After all my sewing is done I'll be returning the store bought jacket and wearing my own. :)

Speaking of construction details..... how about some photos of zippers sewn in leather?

First up, the inseam zipper pocket.  I'd never sewn a pocket like this before but "Threads" August/September article about sewing exposed zippers helped a bunch.

Inseam zippered pocket

My construction steps were as follows.

1. Sew seam together, leaving hole open for pocket area.  (Don't want unnecessary holes in the leather)
2. Cut miters on both ends of pocket area for the squared off top and bottom.
3. Topstitch wider line of stitching so that you have a slot in the leather to insert the zipper.
4.  Sew pocket bags to the zipper tape but do not join the bags.
5.  Place the zipper in the slot and topstitch again to attach it.  Don't get your pocket bags caught in the topstitching.  (This is where you might realize your machine doesn't like all this leather and zipper nonsense)
6. Sew pocket bags together and finish the edges.

Things I've learned the hard way,
1. Cutting down metal zippers is all well and good until you try to sew over the teeth and break your needle. Duh.
2. Double stick tape does not stick to zipper tape fabric.
3. My sewing machine doesn't do all the well with this sort of topstitching.

All this adds up to me having to handstitch that zipper in using the topstitching thread and the needle holes made by the sewing machine.  You can tell the thread tension is different, but it's better than ruining a bunch of leather.

The sleeve vents were a little easier since the zippers are inserted like a lapped zipper.  I only had to hand stitch the end because of the metal teeth.  There is a wedge shaped piece of leather behind the zipper, which increased the width of the sleeve hem.

Sleeve vent zipper
 Construction details on the sleeve vents.
1. Sew sleeve seam up to point where zipper will be inserted.
2. Fold back seam allowance on both sides and topstich close to edge.
3. Attach the piece of leather that goes behind the zipper to the zipper tape.  (I used pins here, GASP! In my defense it was the only time a pin was used.)
4. Place topstitched sleeve edges on top of zipper and topstitch a wider line of stitching to attach zipper.

The only thing left to do is finish attaching the lining to the leather shell.  I'm a big fan of bright linings so I used this silk crepe de chine roll end from emmaonesock.com.  Mmmmm petty!

Motorcycle Jacket Project - Part 1


It's official, I've joined the lined jacket contest over on PR.  Figured after making 3 muslins I'd already committed to the project and was having too much fun stalking the message board not to join in.
The first muslin was just a straight up sewing of the Burda 111 to check if the style would be flattering on me.  That worked out well, so I started modifying the pattern to make it more like the fossil jacket I'd been longing to buy.

The to do list looked something like this..
1. Move princess line seams towards the armhole.
2. Add new seam for the off center zipper.
3. Cut out slanted yokes on front and back.
4. Cut jacket body so there is a sewn on belt like bottom
5. Redraft collar so it is a 2 piece with collar stand.
6. Do normal fitting alterations - forward shoulder, wide upper back, narrow lower back and decrease sleeve cap ease.

I made the changes for the princess line seams and the zipper and made up a second muslin to see if my pattern drafting instincts were correct.   No pic of that, but the changes seemed to be on track.    So then I carried on making the rest of the pattern changes and decided to mock up muslin #3 in some cheap pleather that was in the stash.  That way I could get a little experience with sewing right the first time and see how the jacket looked in a fabric closer to leather.

It seems like I'm in the general ballpark now but there are still some ease issues to take care of.  It seems that there is too much ease in the upper back now and maybe too much still in the lower back.  I don't want to make the jacket too tight to wear over a few layers but I want it too big either.  So back to pattern drafting for me.  Drat.

Things in progress


Now that the pattern stash contest is over some new pattern purchases were pushed to the top of the sewing list.

Waiting for buttons is the StyleArc Victoria blouse in cotton voile.
My JoAnn's didn't have any decent navy buttons so it looks like some web shopping is in my future.

Also from StyleArc the Karen Walk Shorts in khaki twill.  Everyone needs some khaki bottoms but boy are they boring to sew.
Ran out of thread for these right after my trip to JoAnn's so they're on hold until the next trip.

I'm also thinking about entering the Lined Jacket contest on pattern review. Like to turn this motorcycle jacket pattern from Burda 12/2009...

into one that looks a lot like this fossil jacket.

Just cut out muslin #3 for this design and it seems to be moving in the right direction. We'll see how it goes.

Darling Ranges Dress - The final stash project


The Darling Ranges dress was one of those patterns I started started seeing all over the net and loved on everybody.  Months ago after buying the pattern I excitedly mocked up a muslin only to decide that the style didn't look all that great on me. I stuffed the muslin in my muslin graveyard and moved on with other projects.  After entering the pattern stash contest this month I was inspired to pull out that muslin and give it another look.  My new conclusion was that the bodice needed more fitting work and that the dress would look better on me sewn up in a lightweight fabric like this stashed silk georgette.

Due to my large bust, sway back, wide upper back and stomach pooch I needed to make a lot of adjustments to the pattern.  Here's a list of everything I did along with pictures of my final bodice pattern pieces.

1. Did a FBA adjustment of 1" and then dropped the bust dart an additional 3/4". Decreased length of dart about 1". The Darling Ranges dress already has a rather large dart so the FBA made a monster one. I took the extra dart intake and rotated it into the shoulder to compensate for the additional width added to the back. This still made the front bodice shoulder too wide so I just cut off the extra, basically cutting a new neckline as it were. This shouldn't have worked but it did.
Final front bodice pattern. I should buy some scotch tape stock.

2 Increased width across the back 1".
3. Increased length of front and back bodice 1 1/4".
4. Added 1" wide darts to back bodice.
5. Forward shoulder adjustment a rather large 1".
6. All this messing about with the front and back bodice seemed to make the back neck too scooped. I filled in back neckline 1" at CB blending into the existing neckline.
Final Back bodice pattern.

7. The side seam was too far to the front on me so I added 1 1/2" to front bodice side seam and reduced back bodice side seam the same amount.
8. Did the same rebalance of the side seams on skirt front and back.
9. Increased length of dress 1 1/2".  Also did a narrow shirt tail hem to keep some length.
10. Did not gather sleeve hems but added sewn on cuffs.  Cuffs just seemed to be something that would look super cute with this style.
11. Left off the back ties since I'm planning on wearing this with a belt.
12. I added fashion sewing supplies tricot interfacing to the facings and to my cuffs.
After 3 muslins sewing this baby up was going to be a breeze right?  Maybe if I'd grabbed some trusty cotton, but no I had to pick the silk georgette. 
I used the cutting trick of putting the fabric on top of some muslin which had worked so well with my crepe de chine blouse.  Sadly the georgette was not so accommodating.  The cut out pattern piece would look great on the table but as soon as I picked it up the fabric would shift all over the place.  In hindsight I probably should have used that trick for chiffon of washing the fabric in some gelatin.

Sewing was also challenging especially since most of my pattern pieces where not the correct shape. (Thanks to my shoddy cutting job)  I had to do some recutting and little bit of crazy easing in places.  After resewing the bias binding on the neckline about 5 times I gave up and decided the neckline was not going to lay flat in this fabric.  Getting the hem line semi-straight look days since I have no dress form or close by friend to sucker into pinning the hem while I was wearing the dress. Basically my husband was wondering why I was ranting about sewing for a couple of days.  Sorry honey, I really need to bone up on my georgette sewing skills.

Despite all the self made aggravation I really like this dress in georgette, the pattern just seems to mesh well with the design.  The dress it's self is very cute with it's V-neck, handy skirt pockets and 3/4 length sleeves (I love my little addition of cuffed sleeves.)  The gathered skirt is probably not as flattering on me as a darted one but with a belt I can pull it off.  I'm planning on wearing it with some gray tights in the fall and maybe a little blazer if one happens to get sewn up by then.  So thumbs up to Megan Nielsen for an awesome pattern. Maybe I'll make another one in some fabric that easier to handle. :)

Flickr set here if you want to see some inside shots of the dress. 

Kimono Sleeve Dress - the muslin that turned into the real thing


The plan was to blog about the Darling Ranges dress next, but I'm not at home and able to measure the pattern for exact alteration details.  Then I remembered that the Kimono Sleeve dress fell on the wayside during my period of muslin mayhem.

I did use the polyester charmeuse to make a muslin, but then liked it so much I decided to turn it into the real dress and do all the facing and finishes.

The dress is a pull on style with an elasticised waist and back keyhole opening which is closed with a self covered button and rouleau loop.  A large belt really pulls the look together and makes the whole outfit more chic. 

I mentioned back at the beginning of the month I'd bumped up the sizing to XL.  That's partially true. My upper body measurements fit the size Large just fine so only the skirt portion needed to be altered.   This process was easy due to the skirt pattern being one large rectangle for the front and back.  I kept the waist measurement the same and then used a hip curve to bump out the side seams a few inches down from the waist.  Added about 1.5" to each edge of the skirt and 2" additional inches of length.

If I did sew this again I'd make 2 changes.  First would be to leave off the sleeve facings.  Even when you tack them at the seams they still flip out on a regular basis.  Instead of facings I'd use my serger to do a thin rolled hem on the sleeve edge.  Secondly, I would ignore the instructions for elastic insertion at the waist.  They say to sew on top of the waist seam on the right side while stretching the elastic underneath.  Trying to keep everything under the needle this way is a giant pain.  There's plenty of seam allowance at the waist and sewing the elastic to that works just fine.

This was a fun little dress to put together and I think the pattern could be a good base for future projects.  However fall sewing seems to be looming on the horizon and I might just put this pattern away for now.

Next post, the Darling Ranges dress.... this time for reals.

Burda 109 - A Simple Sheath


No pattern stash contest would be complete with a rummage through the bin of Burda Style magazines.  Number 109 from Issue 5-2010 caught my eye, it seemed like just the thing for some textured silk purchased this spring.  

If you look closely at the photo above you'll see it says, "Use only fabric with crosswise or two-way stretch."  Did I notice that before I cut my non-stretch silk? Nope.  Oh Heather, you bad instruction skimmer, when will you ever learn.  (Hint, Never)

My top half is still a Burda 44 but my bottom half is now in the Burda plus size range. Not a problem though because you can use the existing grading to grade up the bottom closer to your size.  Trace the largest size (in this case 44) and then shift that traced line over a smaller size and retrace.  I needed to grade the bottom 2 sizes up so I traced size 44, shifted my paper over to line up on the size 40 and retraced the size 44 line.  Needed to do a bit of blending at the waist since I wanted to keep the top a size 44.   This combination 44 top and 48 bottom got me in the ballpark but then I needed to make the following adjustment for a better fit.

1. Increasing the back dart intake 1/2".
2. Taking the two front princess seams in 1/4"
3. Took in the side seams 1/4" just from the waist to the hip curve.
4. Took in the shoulder seams an sizable amount 1 1/5". There just seemed to be a lot of extra fabric there that was making the neckline gap.
5. The very top of the princess line seams were taken in an additional 1/2" to prevent gaping of the neckline.
6. The facings needed to be adjusted to reflect the neckline and shoulder changes.

The trickiest sewing part is the combination facing, especially in my case since the facing size needed to be drastically changed due to my changes.  There was a bit of last minute trimming around the armholes to get the fabric to lay correctly.  I did understitch the neck seam but not the armhole seams.

Overall this pattern worked fine with a non-stretch fabric, thank god.  The only odd thing is that this silk does not seem to hold a press.  I've gone over the seams numerous time and they still look puckery in places. I'm a much better presser than these photos would lead you to be believe.
Flickr set here for some close up pics.
Despite the puckering issues I like this dress, it's simple and elegant.  The muted pastel print works well with the design and I thought it was the perfect match for my giant vintage butterfly pin.
Just hanging out on this dress until I spot some sweet flowers.

Next post will be the last of my 3 dress set, the Darling Ranges dress.  Otherwise known as the dress of a thousand alterations.

Simplicity 2588 - From the pattern stash


The pattern stash contest started off with sensible separates, but then it quickly devolved into make as many dresses as you possible can.  The first off the machine, Simplicity 2588, which I bought after seeing one made up on the Tessuti blog.  It's a very interesting design in that there are enough options that you could sew up several different looking dresses.  My version consists of the thinner yoke, non gathered sleeves, slim skirt and no belts or other sewn on waist accents.

 I'm so gonna be Roger Sterling 3rd wife.
Also can you say double stash busting? Yes that's right, the fabric is also from a semi-deep strata of the stash. It's an extra wide cotton (60"!) with a very dark brown flora print, purchased from sawyerbrook.com.  Very similar in hand to everyone's favorite pre-baby feather print dress. (I can't fit into that anymore and it makes me weep big salty tears.)

Another great thing about this pattern is that it needed 2, count them 2, fitting adjustments.
The first was sizing the bottom half up one dress size -  Top simplicity 16, bottom simplicity 18 with the skirt waist blended down to the size 16 measurement.
The second was taking in the top of the armhole princess seam about 1/4" and adjusting the front sleeve to reflect that change.
That is it..... which is craaaaaazy.  Though maybe it's some sort of karma for the insane number of adjustments I've made for another contest dress.

I broke out all the turquoise accessories for this little number.  One great thing about sewing so many dresses is now I have an excuse to get out the vintage bug pins.
Vintage pin, shoes and belt from shopruche.com
This is a great little number and I'm glad the pattern stash contest pushed this to the top of the sewing queue.   Here's the Flickr set for a few additional pics.

The parade of dresses will continue next post with a burda style number from my mag stash.

A tee for you and a tee for me


Mom and son sporting their freshly sewn Tee's made from some "seasoned" patterns.
On me Grainline Studio's Scout Tee, on my son Jalie 2918.
Pattern Review is running a pattern stash contest all this month and I've been inspired to sew up a few that have been lurking in the back of my closet.

For my son Jalie 2918 in some ribbed cowboy print cotton.  This is size 2 with the sleeves and hem shortened about an 1".  Either neck or the neck binding needs to be enlarged a bit for the next version.
I'm much too busy to stand still for pictures.

Confession time, I traced this pattern in November to make his cousin some Christmas T-shirts and then never sewed them.  Ooops.  At least this pattern has a huge size range so my nephew might get some correctly size T-shirts at some point.

I ignored the directions and used the coverstitch machine to do the neck binding and hems.  The rest is all straight forward overlocking of seams.  Easy Peasy.
There's a new sheriff in town.

For me Grainline Studio's Scout Woven Tee in Stretch Silk Crepe de Chine. (Still available here)
Pants are Hotpattern's boyfriend jeans, which are awesome.

A muslin showed that there was plenty of ease in the bust but I still really needed a bust dart.  To accomplish this I took out the front pattern piece from the Anthropologie knock off blouse and traced the dart.  Then added the amount of the dart intake to the bottom of the side seam and blended it into the hemline.
Other fitting changes were my standard 1/2" forward shoulder adjustment and 1/4 additional ease added to the hip.  My bustline sucks up a lot of length so 3" were added to the body and 1" to the sleeves.   I should have increased the ease across the upper back for freer arm movement but didn't notice that until wearing the finished shirt.  Thank god for stretch silk!

The only thing that can be a bit tricky in construction is the bias neckline.   But wait, Jen made a detailed tutorial on her website that totally rocks.  I've used it a couple of times now for different garments and highly recommend it.  Love this Tee, it's my new favorite.

Some bust dart action.
Flickr sets are here and here for larger pics.   Next up for the pattern stash contest, a whole lot of dresses.
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