Lavender Pintucks Top

Have you ever made something that looked good, but just wasn’t right? It could have been something you sewed, cooked, wrote… This top, unfortunately, fits into that category for me. It looks good with the neat pintucks and notched neckline, but it just isn’t right for me. The fabric isn’t what I was hoping for (I bought it online, which always involves a bit of risk.), and I struggled to decide on a design that suited a fabric that I just wasn’t excited about using.

I modified a pattern I’ve used twice before with very good results, Simplicity 2365, so I don’t blame the unsatisfactory result on the pattern. My disappointment with the top is mainly due to the fabric I chose. It is a rayon/poly blend, and I was expecting something much more drape-y and smooth. Instead, this fabric is rough, stiff and frays like crazy. It’s honestly just an uncomfortable feeling fabric. I don’t really do uncomfortable very well, when it comes to clothing. The pintucks are beautiful though.

Design/Pattern: Simplicity 2365, modified at the sleeve/shoulder

Materials: rayon/poly blend

Techniques:

  • pintucks
  • serged seam allowances (before putting everything together, to prevent further fraying)
  • bias tape (to finish the neckline)

Alterations/Changes: I widened the pattern at the shoulder and tapered to meet the seam line at the sides to create a sort of loose cap “sleeve”.

Unfortunately, I cannot give this garment a very high grade. Maybe a C-. I finished this top over a week ago and still haven’t worn it. Usually, I go out of my way to wear a new creation as soon as possible. I just don’t know what to put it with and don’t feel comfortable in it. It was meant to be part of my Transition Wardrobe, but it doesn’t pair that well with the dress, skirt or t-shirt I’ve already made. Maybe it will go well under the last piece (still a work in progress), the wool Chanel-style jacket? Maybe I’ll be able to wear it over a long sleeve t-shirt and leggings in cooler weather? Or maybe it’s just a wadder?

Corduroy Chevron Skirt

I’ve completed another piece of my 2012 Transition Wardrobe. It’s a navy blue corduroy skirt that plays with the direction of the cords as part of the design and forms a subtle chevron in the center front and back. This is my first time using the fabric’s direction as a design element, and I think it has been mostly successful. (The photo below is a good example of how the nap of the fabric affects how light hits the fabric and changes its appearance. It makes the chevron affect more visible in this fabric, actually.)

I cut the main front and back pieces on the bias, whereas I cut the waistband and hem band on the straight grain. The way the fabric lays on the bias makes the back of the skirt lay a little funny, but it’s something I can live with. Mostly, I just wonder whether a different fabric would behave the same way or if this is something particular to the corduroy fabric I used.

Design/Pattern: I adapted the Meringue skirt pattern from the Colette Sewing Handbook. I did a lot of adapting–my finished skirt doesn’t look much like the original design! I used this pattern as my template because I was confident that the pattern was well made, the fit would be good and that the instructions would be easy to adapt to my design.

Materials:

  • blue stretch corduroy
  • interfacing
  • invisible zipper
  • thread

Techniques:

  • mock flat-fell seams (tutorial here)
  • stitched in the ditch to finish hem band
  • inserted invisible zipper using invisible zipper foot
  • top stitched

Alterations/Changes: These are the changes I made to the Meringue skirt pattern.

  • Added center-front and center-back seam allowances
  • Cut skirt front & back on the bias
  • Omitted the scalloped hem
  • Added a waistband and omitted the facings by using this tutorial
  • Sewed the waistband by following this tutorial
  • Added a horizontal band at the hem

This skirt is a B+, I think. It gets high marks for the attention to detail (the directional design and top stitching). This skirt will also fit really well into my existing wardrobe. It will be easy to find tops to wear with this skirt. The overall skirt has a lot of positive attributes, but I can’t completely ignore the funny way it lays in the back. I am pleased with final result and the sewing process was also pleasant. It was enjoyable to focus on the finer details, without having to worry about too much complexity.

Jacket Indecision

If you know me well, you know that I sometimes have trouble being decisive. I’m struggling to make a sewing decision right now. I’m planning to use the fabric below to make a jacket. It’s a wool, silk blend with a tan and blue herringbone background and red stripes. It’s a gorgeous fabric and I want the final piece to be worthy of it. I’ve narrowed my jacket choices down to two. Maybe you can help me decide?

Choice A is a classic-looking Chanel style jacket.

Choice B is this Simplicity jacket (view E) with raglan sleeves and sleek lapels.

Let me know which pattern you think fits the fabric best in the comments!

Simple White Tee

This week is Spring Break, so I’m taking advantage of my free time by catching up on my 2012 Transition Wardrobe. I’ve talked a little bit about my color palette and inspiration and I’ve posted about the first finished project. My second completed garment is a very simple t-shirt with kimono sleeves. It’s just a basic wardrobe piece, but it will help to complete other outfits I’m planning.

I drafted the simple pattern myself by simply tracing a sweater with a similar shape. It might now be my go-to t-shirt pattern because it was such a snap to make. There are no sleeves to worry about attaching and the neckline is finished with a narrow facing on the inside. I know it’s not typical to see a facing used on a knit t-shirt, but I have a couple that are finished with a facing that I really like. I mimicked this style because I like the finished look and I thought it would be an easy method. I was right on both counts.

Design/Pattern: My own design, based on a store-bought sweater

Materials: White cotton/bamboo knit, knit fusible interfacing.

 

Techniques:

  • Serged side and shoulder seams
  • Faced neckline
  • Zig-zag stitched hems

Alterations/Changes: (for next time)

  • Widen sleeves just a bit

It’s hard to get too excited about a simple, white tee, but I’m happy with the result. I’m going to give this shirt a B. It completely met my expectations, but it’s nothing special on its own. I don’t think this necessarily diminishes its value though. The real prize here is the new pattern I’ve drafted that will get a lot of use now that I have a serger to use.

Red Licorice (or What Happened to the Month of March?)

Hi there! Remember me? March included some unexpected surprises that caused me to need to put sewing on a back burner. Spring break starts today though, which I’m hoping will mean one thing–lots of time with my sewing machine and serger! I do have one pretty treat to show off before I start my spring sewing marathon. This is the dress that took all of March to make!

Worth the wait, huh? I think so. First of all, this pattern is a gem. I think the style is so classy, yet unique. The shape of the collar is great, in my opinion. It’s not a very commonly used collar shape, which makes it really stand out on the boat-neckline of this dress. I was afraid that the sleeves would be too voluminous for my taste, but if I arrange them just right by pushing the elastic up over my elbow and then letting the sleeve fall below it, it creates a really nice shape.  

Design/Pattern: Licorice, from the Colette Sewing Handbook

Materials: Red poly/rayon/lycra knit (often called Sophia knit). The pattern calls for woven fabrics, but I really had my heart set on making this style in a red stable knit, so I went with my heart rather than the pattern instructions. Luckily, my heart knew what it was talking about.

Techniques:

  • Sewed seams with a long, straight stitch, then serged the seam allowances close to the stitching line. (I am not yet confident sewing straight seams on the serger.)
  • Set-in sleeves
  • Casing for elastic made with bias tape
  • Finished neckline with bias tape

Alterations/Changes:

  • Made a petite adjustment at the waistline
  • Adjusted dart placement and size on the dress front
  • Omitted the lining and zipper because I didn’t think it was necessary for a knit dress. Because of this, I had to invent a way to finish the neckline. I created a very neat finish using bias tape. If there is any interest in seeing a tutorial for my technique, please speak up in the comments.

As a teacher and as a seamstress I am rather stingy about giving out A+ grades, but I think this dress deserves it. I think the style and fit are spot on. And I was really needing a great red dress! Besides that, I was patient with myself as I was sewing because I wanted the end result to be worthy of the wonderful design and the red fabric. I love it so much that I plan on wearing it twice during its first week.

Transition to Spring Wardrobe Plan

I was so lucky to receive wonderful sewing-related gifts this year, including a couple of sewing books, notions, tools and fabric gift certificates. Normally, I don’t buy fabric with a plan in mind for coordinating each project I am making, but since I was able to get so much fabric at once with the help of the gifts I decided to make a coordinated mini-wardrobe. I have been particularly inspired by the spring wardrobes shown on some of my favorite sewing blogs.

Spring 2011 in Chicago

Spring in my corner of the country can be a little hit or miss; it tends to be pretty wintry with a few spring-like days until it’s suddenly summery. For this reason, I wanted my mini wardrobe to help me make the odd transition between winter and summer. For this “season” I’ll need warm clothes that can be layered, but that also remind me that warmer days are on the way.

This is the fabric that inspired my palette:

Isn’t it great? It’s a silk/wool blend that I found on fabric.com.

This is my mini wardrobe palette:

I used this tool on Colour Lovers to identify each color that I wanted to be a part of my wardrobe palette. After that, I looked for fabrics that fit into my palette.

My palette is filled with classic colors and combinations: red & navy, navy & gold, cornflower blue & cream. All the colors have a somewhat muted hue, which I think lends the palette some modernity while maintaining its classic feel. I am very excited about all of the projects in my mini wardrobe, which includes a dress, jacket, skirt and two tops. I’ll be sharing each of these one by one. I hope you’ll check back soon to see my progress.