Simplicity 1873+1610 and Vianne – a late oal2015 outfit

I wanted to take part in the OAL this year and I actually managed to finish the cardigan on time but not the dress, which is surprising considering the amount of time needed for each.

My gauge was spot on for the cardigan, but I made a mistake I no longer make when sewing – I knit it in size M, based on my bust measurement. Therefore the cardigan is big at the shoulders and the sleeves are too wide.

For the dress I used Simplicity 1873 on top and 1610 on the bottom. I’ve made the 1610 dress before and I love that skirt – perfect pockets that stay in place and are better located than in-seam pockets (they look better too imo), plus the width of the skirt feels just right for me.

I don’t love the top though. I tried Nancy Zieman’s pivot an slide method (see video at the end) and started with size 10 based on my front shoulder measurement. I had to add quite a lot of width at the bust and waist and I’m afraid that distorted the overall shape. The top has a lot of ease above and below the bust at the sides, but at least the armhole doesn’t gape. I made a muslin and made a few other changes to the pattern after that – moved the front waist dart a few cm to the side, lowered the bust dart and removed a 1.5cm wedge for sway back. One other alteration I meant to do but somehow forgot was to add length at center front. This is not mentioned in the video but it makes sense to add some space vertically too. I did squeeze a little bit of length by reducing the seam allowance, but that was not enough and I think the proportions are off because of the bodice length. It is just too short.

Modified pattern before muslin

Front view – the too short and boxy bodice is obvious here. And notice the green on green – this is why my other pictures are inside even though it was a beautiful sunny day.

Even though I moaned all through this post, I don’t dislike and the dress and I will continue to wear it. It’s not perfect and I hope all my future projects turn out better than this, but sometimes less than perfect is enough. At least from some angles.

 

Since I made this I bought Nancy Zieman’s pattern fitting book, I’m not giving up on her method yet. It looks easier than other I’ve seen/tried, I hope I can make it work.

Butterick 6183 – A complete outfit

I’ve started working on this pattern right after I finished my B6168 dress. I used size 14 for the dress and narrowed the shoulders in order to avoid a FBA, but since this pattern has different cup sizes, I cut a size 12 with a C cup for the top. Most reviews say the top is snug but mine came out roomier than expected and too wide at the shoulders, even though I used N. Zieman’s method of choosing the pattern size based on the front shoulder measurement. The reason? I didn’t measure myself correctly. Duh.

There’s just one alteration I’ve made to the top pattern – I shortened 2 cm above the waist. The CB length neck to waist was over 40cm, which is huge I think even for people with a standard height. Also, I didn’t use a zip, I just left the slit opened and added a button at the top. A button that is too big and heavy for this light viscose. Anyway, this top is going to the bin unfortunately. I finished the SAs with a pinking shears and they all got shredded in the washing machine. I’ll keep this in mind when I work with similar fabric. I plan to make more tops like this, but I’ll go down a size, make the sleeves 2-3 cm shorter and add 2-3 cm at the bottom.

The trousers are size 14 – I was worried they were going to be too small, so I used 1cm (3/8″) SA at the sides and lengthened the waistband. They didn’t look so wide from the top on the pattern cover, and they didn’t look so wide in the few reviews I’ve seen either. But they are. Loose from the hip to the ankle. I’m not complaining, I’ve been wearing them 3 times a week, they are very comfortable. I think they look better with a more fitted top, like the above Tonic that’s too tight to wear with anything else.

I found it odd that the pattern instructions didn’t say anything about interfacing the zip area or the pocket openings. I had to do that because the linen I used was very loosely woven, and my pockets are already gaping anyway. Some ribbon would’ve been even better. I added a snap to the waistband to help it keep it closed.

I have a few muslins cut out, but I didn’t feel very motivated to sew or knit lately. It;s probably the recent ‘tiny pocket tank’ fail and the lovey weather outside. Do you sew much during the summer? I’d surely need more dresses and airy tops but I don’t feel like staying inside.

Butterick 6168 or Do you know how much I love Lisette?

I was only aware of the Lisette patterns before and I do have an unused (yet) Simplicity one, but my love really started with Butterick 6168. I needed this dress and I finally have it.

I did a quick muslin in size 14 and made the following alterations:

– shortened the shoulder length by 1 cm

– shortened the bodice above the bust 1 cm at the armhole to 1,5 at center front (1cm across at the back)

– 1 cm sway back

– added 2 cm to the sleeve width

– shortened the skirt by 12 cm: 7 cm at the marked line and cm at the hem. I found that when I need to shorten a large amount on a full skirt, it works best for me if I remove some of the length at the hem too, otherwise the skirt is too full compared to the design for my short figure.

Another thing I changed was to use a normal facing for the back, instead of bias. To do that, I slightly changed the sewing steps:

1. I’ve sewn the front facings only from the neckline notch toward the bottom when constructing the front

2. I’ve attached the front to the back at the shoulders and the front facing to the back facing

3. I’ve sewn the facing to the bodice from front neckline notches to centre back

The fabric is a very soft and light cotton jacquard, I think. It’s light grey on one side and dark grey on the other, with contrasting spots on each side.

 

I bought it from Cloth House, which is close to my office. After buying the pattern I couldn’t wait for the weekend to go looking somewhere else, and even though I wasn’t convinced with the dark color, I think it’s a good fit for the cheeky design. And it’s really so soft and light, you can see in the photos it’s always flowing.

As other reviewers have stated, the side view is not the most flattering. I could easily wear this dress half way through a pregnancy. But looking at the design as a whole, I couldn’t see the skirt attaching to the top any other way. And I can’t imagine it with a straight/a-line skirt either, unless you change the midriff band as well, and then you have to make sure you keep the design balanced. I’d really love to see someone try it.

I don’t know if I’m going to make this again, as it’s such a distinctive design, but I’m surely going to sew other Lisette patterns. Right now I’m working on some wearable muslins for B6183. Have you worked with any Lisette patterns? Do you love them as much as I do?

New Look 6145 – Do you know an architect called Maya?

One year ago – well, one year and 13 days to be exact – I went to my first sewing meetup. It was the big London meeting at V&A organised by Rachel at House of Pinheiro. I was living in London for less than a year and I didn’t know anyone there. There were so many ladies in the V&A cafe and most of them seemed to know at least 2-3 other there. I am not the most sociable person, quite the contrary, it took me a lot of courage to go there. But as it usually happens, I was very happy I went. I met many lovely sewing ladies like Amy, Jodie, Lou, Vicki and Maya. I spent most of the shopping time on Goldhawk Road with facebook-less, instagram-less, blog-less Maya, and it was her who found this fabric:

It was a 3 m piece of what I suspect is a cotton-silk blend based on a burn test. We loved it as soon as we’ve seen it but none of us was committed to buying the whole piece. So we shared it. Each of us took half and I held on to it until I found the perfect pattern.

That happened 2 months ago when I found out about Simplicity’s blogger challenge. The ‘Best dressmaking project’ category pattern was New Look 6145, a basic shift dress that not only was a perfect canvas for my special fabric, but it’s the style that Maya loved best. I wouldn’t be surprised if she had a dress similar to mine, maybe just a little more a-line.

I love this length on me, I have to make a version as long as my muslin.

 

I started with size 14, removed 5 cm from the skirt length and made the following changes to the pattern after a muslin:

  • shortened the bodice above the bust by 1 cm
  • shortened the shoulder length again by 1 cm
  • moved the shoulder seam 1 cm forward at the armscye
  • removed 1 cm wedge from CB
  • widened the back darts by 1 cm each
  • lengthen the back darts by 1 cm on the upper end

Apparently I do everything in 1’s :).

I think the back could be even more shaped and there is a little bit of dragging at the armscye, but I don’t know what more I could do, I’m not sure what needs changed. It still fits good for a woven dress, but every wrinkle and line is highlighted by the shiny fabric. Look at that zip – urghhh! – I interfaced the fabric there! :(


I’ve planned another dress using this pattern – I’m going to make it out of a colorful viscose I bought recently, omit the zip as I can get into and out of the dress without it, and use the 3/4 sleeve, lightly gathered at the bottom.

And please, if you know Maya, the Finnish architect who lives in SE London, wears mostly a-line dresses with leggings, braids her hair and cycles to work, please let me know, I’d like to see her again! :)

 

Simplicity 2451 – the almost perfect skirt

I had a plan, you see? I was going create a wardrobe and enter the wardrobe contest on PR. But I have to admit, I knew 9 pieces of clothing in 6 weeks was not going to happen. But I still wanted to think of a mini wardrobe – “an organized closet where one can pull an outfit together at a moment’s notice”.
wardrobe contest
I’ve only done 3 so far and one of them is the skirt I’m talking about today. I wanted a red skirt. A basic red skirt that I could wear with every top in my closet. Red is a neutral in my book.
I recently gave in and bought Simplicity 2451 after being exposed to many beautiful specimens in the last couple of years.
So the plan was to have a red skirt. I didn’t have any red fabric but I had plenty of other colors and a pack of tulip red dye. The color turned out great, but I dyed only half a meter of fabric. Sometimes my brain goes dead. I’d like to blame it on my age but I’m only 30.
Half a meter wasn’t enough to cut all the pieces out and in another strike of genius I decided to use scraps from my skinny barb for the plackets. Now the skirt doesn’t go with anything in my wardrobe.
EXHIBIT A – where’s my waist?
EXHIBIT B – red, navy gingham and dark floral – are you dizzy yet?
EXHIBIT C – This one kind of works, I’m not one to save red and green for the holiday season :). I’ll probably wear it with a black cardigan. The only (small) problem is I didn’t make the top or the black cardigan I’m going to wear it with.
EXHIBIT D – this is probably the best match, but this old shirt is gaping at the bust so I can’t wear it outside my garden.
Try to imagine all of the above with a full red skirt – a totally different story! I’m thinking of dying this one black and make another red one. What would you do? I’m not looking forward to another hour of stirring the fabric in the dye bath. Have you ever used machine dye? Did it ruin your next 3 laundry loads?

Acorn trail or how I realised that I choose my knit patterns the same way I buy my fabric

The busier the better that is. I like textured knits the same way I’m attracted to prints rather than solid fabrics.

Yes! I have finally finished this one! I started working on it just before the new year and I worked almost two months on it. But only this bank holiday weekend I got around hand sewing the button bands.

I got the horn buttons from Kleins. The salesman was very nice and showed interest in my cardigan. I’m not sure if it was for real or not, but he was friendly and helpful and I ended up buying more items than I intended to. :)

The pattern is an Amy Herzog design and I enjoyed making this so much! It looks complicated at first, but I memorised the stitch patterns in no time. I used Cascade 220 (a lucky find on ebay, I still have some left plus another 800g in a deep purple heather) and made a few changes:

  • my gauge was different, I had 17 st/4″ instead of 18, so I knit a size smaller
  • my row gauge was different too so I made the decreases/increases every 6 rows instead of 8
  • I changed the neckline to a V neck as I think it goes better with everything (I find my Miette is really difficult to wear because all my dresses have a high neckline)

For the V neck I started decreasing at the armhole, placing the decreases at the side of the lace pattern. This made the v neck go from the armholes to the center, but seaming the shoulders and blocking gave it the correct shape.

You can still see it a bit when it’s unbuttoned.

But it’s no biggie, I don’t mind it and I’m sure no one will notice. :)

Do you have a neater way of sewing buttons on your knits? Do you hide the loose ends somehow?

Simplicity 1610 – a Christmas dress

This was going to be my Christmas dress. Early in December last year I’ve found this fabric on ebay, immediately bought it and then stumbled upon a lovely kitty dress. Fabric aside (gorgeous but sold out everywhere), I loved the skirt pattern – pleated, not too full and inset pockets.

It’s been too long since I started working on it, so I don’t remember why I jumped at changing the pattern so much without making a muslin first. I probably based my actions on measuring the pattern.

I started out tracing size 12 – the biggest in the range I had and made quite a generous FBA. You can see that I added half of it at center front and half in the side panel.

I’ve shortened the bodice 1/2″ above the bust, something I’ve done a lot in the past but I’m starting to question that alteration. It worked in the past but now it seems unnecessary, maybe because I put on some weight and I need more fabric in that area?

I removed a wedge form the front neckline to compensate for the width added at CF and I guess that’s causing all the drag lines radiating from my neck. I didn’t take a picture of the pattern after that, but you can see it in this photo evidence of my son helping me out.

I know I say it every time, but he must have been a cat in a past life. I had 3 cats before and all of them loved to mess with my fabric on the floor. It was easier with cats, I can’t lock my son in the hallway while I’m cutting :D

Ok, so how did all these changes work out? BAD! I had to try the bodice several times and adjust the princess seams. The curve on the seams was too high on my bust and I had to take in a lot. Clearly, I went a bit overboard with my FBA.

So I had this done before Christmas, it only needed a zip, hem and bindings, but I didn’t have energy to finish it. Then we had guests until the new year. Then I started to question my choice of fabric – I was worried the fabric was too stiff (wax print) for that skirt and I will loo like a big red and yellow pouf. Until this weekend when I decided to finish some of my UFOs before they get out of hand. And I’m so happy I did! I think the skirt looks great. It holds its shape due to the stiffness of the fabric, but is not too full.

Let’s talk about print placement. I don’t remember thinking about anything else than “keep the rows even front to back”, and I did that. Horses are on the same level across both sides of skirt and bodice and are consistently running up or down. But the fact that the horse are running just above and not exactly on my bosom it’s pure luck. It would’ve been more lucky if the horses weren’t legs up, but we can’t have it all, can we?

These shoes make me look like I’m wearing size 11 and they are size 3! Not that’s something wrong with size 11, but with my height I’d look like a right isosceles triangle :)

Do you have any unfinished projects? Do you get excited about new projects and start everything, or are you disciplined and always finish one before starting another?

Wild flowers spring top

Everybody must be waiting for spring. Are you? I know I am.

I had my eye on this Liberty print since last summer, it was love at first sight. A month ago I finally decided it’s time for us to be together so I ordered 2 meters from White Tree Fabrics.

Initially I wanted to make a shirt, but after my last make in plaid I needed something easier, quicker. And I think this pattern works a lot better with the fabric. The pattern is a mash up of two Burda Magazine tops, both from the 10/2011 issue.

The  big sleeves wouldn’t work with cotton, so I used the more modest sleeve from pattern 114, omitting the sleeve openings. I’ve also decided to loose the ruffle because:

  1. I’m too short to wear so much fabric
  2. Who has the time to iron that thing?

I went up from 38 to 40 in Burda sizes lately, but I found that 38 still fits better on my shoulders so for this top I used 38 above armholes and 40 below. I used 38 for both the sleeve and the amrscye, but the armscye of 114 was longer than 121, so I ended up with a few gathers on top of the sleeves. I don’t mind.

I shortened the pattern only at the bottom, the waist is almost spot on. I wonder how this would work on someone who’s a normal height. I’m guessing the waist would be too high :)

Something that wasn’t mentioned in the instructions but I did anyway is to top stitch the ties. I have two dresses with similar long ties that are not top stitched and it’s a pain to iron them after washing.

This print is gorgeous!

FUN FACT (I’m starting to like this :) ) – I’ve entered a competition with this blouse on a Romanian forum and I won! Yay!

FUN FACT 2  – If you’re in the UK and have watched “Cucumber”, you might have noticed Henry wearing a shirt with the same print

And a final P.S. This is not a White tree project, I bought the fabric this time, but you can still use “LIVING ROOM” at check out to get 20% discount and free shipping.

I conquered the shirt. In plaid.

I was watching Pamela Howard’s shirt class on Craftsy and she was saying that you shouldn’t make your first shirt out of plaid fabrics. Or stripes even. Admittedly, this is not my first shirt. I’ve made the JJ before, it had button bands, continuous sleeve plackets and a mandarin collar. I’ve also made an Alder which has a proper shirt collar. See? This shouldn’t have been a very difficult project.

I used a pattern from Burda 03/2015, size 38. It’s the one for the crazy show-me-your-right-hip shirt dress, but quite obviously I chose to make it a basic shirt using the JJ for length and hem shape. The shoulder are dropped – not something I usually go for, but I thought that it’s a good choice for a relaxed shirt. Now, even though the shoulders are dropped, the sleeve head is very curved, I’d say it has the same shape you’d see in a normal shirt. I was too lazy to go back to the pattern to check, but it’s easy to see there’s too much fabric there.

The fabric. The fabric! I think this is what is called double gauze, because it’s gauzy and it’s double. Really, it has two very light layers of fabric held together by crosswise lines of stitching. It’s spongy and it doesn’t behave, not even under steam. I pressed the hell out of it, but it always sprang back to its spongy nature. It’s even more obnoxious when cut on bias. But that didn’t stop me from cutting lots of pieces on bias, trying to center the crossing orange lines where possible.

  • one back placket
  • two button bands
  • cuffs
  • sleeve plackets
  • pocket

Do I have to say that I had to cut each individual piece at a time, just to make sure each is perfectly placed? That applies to the fronts, back and sleeves as well, as I wanted to make sure the horizontal lines match everywhere.

Ignore the thread that pops out of the pocket :)

I’ve put a lot of thinking into this and I’m happy with how it came out, but there are a few things that I could have done better:

– interface the button bands. The class and the pattern instructions say you don’t need it, because you already have 3 layers of fabric. But my fabric is light and spongy and totally nasty on bias and the edges curve slightly.

– I patiently block-fused a piece of fabric for the collar and stand. I didn’t realised I placed the interfacing on the right side of fabric until I finished fusing. I used it anyway for the under collar and stand.

– align the obvious black stripes on the collar. The squares on the fabric are more like rectangles, so even though I chose the black line as my center back, the corners of the collars ended up with a different pattern.

– I cut the stand in the wrong direction. See how the black narrow line is on the other side?

None of these bother me too much, but I thought it’s worth mentioning. For posterity :)

I’ve never made tower plackets before and I dreaded them. They weren’t very difficult. I can imagine making them in a crisper fabric cut on straight grain would be a piece of cake.

It was a first for flat felled seam as well for me. I’ve done mock flat felled on the JJ before, but this was the first time I’ve done the real thing. I did it only on the armhole seam though. By the time I got to doing the side/sleeve seam, the fabric was too frayed to have enough to flat fell. So I just serged the seam and mocked it again.

FUN FACT! I was in TKMaxx recently and found a shirt made out of the exact fabric, different colors. I loved how soft it was and the shirt was really nicely made, but it was too narrow in the sleeves and chest. At that time I though it was too wide in the shoulders, but they were probably going for the same look I was :)

Lots of top stitching on the details and they didn’t dare cutting them on bias.

Soon after the above picture was taken I found my fabric on myfabrics.co.uk. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to order it, as it was just weeks after ordering some other fabrics from them. And then, they contacted me! To ask if I wanted to make something out of their fabric. “Uhmmm, YES PLEASE! I want to make a shirt like the one that didn’t fit me. But better! With matching buttons“.

For all my moaning, this fabric is really great. It is a pain to sew, but what makes it so difficult to handle is making it a dream to wear. And this shirt was just meant to be.

Do you have any sewing coincidence stories? I hope they’re happy stories!

 

If you’ve had the patience to read all this, you might be happy to find that I have a myfabrics.co.uk voucher for you. You can use LIVINGROOM until the 19th of April to get a £10 discount for a minimum order value of £35.

Maider leggings and Burda t-shirt 125-09-2014

I’ve been wanting to make my own leggings pattern for a long time now. I’m short and I have super slim ankles and drafting a leggings pattern is so quick and simple. I followed Maider’s instructions, thus the name. Her blog is in Basque and Spanish, but  Google translate and her very detailed photos made this possible. :)

After sewing a test pair in a very thin red lycra, I made a few changes to the basic pattern:
– lowered the waistline by 1 cm
– used a yoga waistband instead of elastic
– added ankle cuffs
– and the most obvious – adding contrasting stripe to the sides with built in pockets Jalie style

The way the pattern is constructed makes the center side line to move to the back above the hips, so the contrasting panel is more on the back than on the sides.

For the next pair I angled the side seam to the front, and of course I overdone it. The plan was to have the pockets on the side of the hips, not in front like a gun holster.

The wild West Legging

I call them “The Wild West Leggings”

But look at those matching red vinyls! Almost perfect!

I wish I read the reviews for the top before making it. Th t-shirt is too short, barely hits below my waist (and I’m short!), and the sleeve cuffs are so tight.  My arms are not the slimmest though…

All my leggings have a high waist, so I will be wearing the shirt anyway, but not with the matching leggings. They look too much like pyjamas together.

The navy, giraffe and vinyl fabrics are from FunkiFabrics. I gave in and bought some after seeing Dawn’s prism leggings – I have some of that fabric too! And did you see the cool print she used for a dress recently? I wouldn’t wear this fabric for day wear though.

P.S. I was hoping to show you my January Burda challenge make but I didn’t manage to rescue the fabric. Here it is before I chopped it to pieces.

Every skirt dies, not every skirt really lives.