Monday, August 2, 2021

Simplicity 2560

This future sewing project used a pattern that had been aging in my stash for at least a couple of years. Simplicity 2560 is a cardigan in five views designed for stretch knits. Suggested fabrics include jerseys, matte jerseys, and double knits. I chose View A.

I used a 100% cotton jersey purchased at Joann. While I'm pleased with the final result, I think my fabric doesn't really do this pattern justice the way a drapier knit would. I intend to make this again in something softer and possibly in a solid color rather than a print to better showcase the drape of the neckband.

Since this was another pattern with cut-on sleeves, I once again skipped tracing my size and cut the pattern tissue.

I literally have nothing interesting to say about sewing this pattern. I made it from cutting to hemming in a single evening with no issues.

I made a Size 10. For your reference, here are my measurements and the measurements from the back of the pattern envelope. Keep in mind that the waist measurement is fairly irrelevant for this design and also that I am quite small around the rib cage, where the raised waist seam falls on this garment. YMMV.

Bust: 36.5
Waist: 31.5
Hips: 38.5

Thanks for reading!



Sunday, August 1, 2021

New Look 6575

 Back in January and February, I undertook some "future sewing." By future sewing, I mean I was sewing clothes that would fit after an anticipated weight loss. It was risky but no risk, no reward, right?

One of the first tops I made was New Look 6575 View B, a top designed for woven fabrics with cut-on sleeves and an extremely deep vee neckline. Deep like it should always be worn over a cami, despite the styling on the pattern envelope. I felt like this would be a good choice for future sewing because the design minimized the need for some of the adjustments I regularly make. For example, narrow shoulders and sway back. I also skipped my usual forward shoulder adjustment because I couldn't figure out how to make it at the time (although after thinking about it for several months, I can now see how it would be accomplished).

I chose Kaufman Wishwell Lawn Packed Floral in the Day colorway, an exclusive at I'm not big fan of prints in general, and especially florals, but this beautiful print really spoke to me. I know that everyone is all gaga over Liberty Tana Lawn, but in a side-by-side comparison, I can't see or feel an appreciable difference. 

So the story of sewing this top is very short. I didn't even bother to trace off the pattern in my size; I cut right into the tissue. I'm not sure if that was confidence that I would, indeed, lose the weight I intended to use or madness. In either event, that's what I did.

Sewing the top was very straightforward. The pattern instructions are good. There is, however, one issue with an orphan notch, that is, a notch on the front bodice side seam without a corresponding notch on the back. 

There was a moment of panic when I tried it on for the first time. Even taking into consideration that I had made it as something to wear in the future, it seemed as though it might be too small even then. You can see in the envelope photo that the top is supposed to be gathered around the raised waist seam; on me, it fit, but with no gathers. I had my doubts about it ever fitting.

Regardless, I forged ahead and, in another moment of madness, decided that the beautiful lawn fabric deserved a hand rolled hem. So that's what I did. It was a lot of hand hemming, accomplished over the course of a couple of days, but I love the result that I got.

And, fortunately, 30 pounds later, it fits quite well, with gathers at the waist seam. Phew! So I made another one. This time, using the bodice from View B once again, but with the handkerchief hem of View C. And no hand rolled hem.

I made Size Small. For your reference, here are my measurements and the pattern measurements. Keep in mind that waist size is fairly irrelevant on this design and also that I am quite small around the rib cage (32" to be exact, where the waist seam falls) in relation to my actual waist. I'm also not a fan of a lot of extra ease. YMMV.

Bust: 36.5
Waist: 31.5
Hips: 38.5

Thanks for reading!



Finished garment displayed on a hanger, which, of course, doesn't show it off to its best advantage. More photos coming soon.

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Silhouette Patterns #600 Classic Blouse

Like the Silhouette #195 Sweater Set that I reviewed
here, I was ambivalent about the Classic Blouse. I felt that maybe it was a little too classic for me, where classic meant that it looked like something my grandmother would have worn. In this case, I feel as though my grandmother may actually have owned one that looked just like the one on the envelope. 

The bad envelope photo and it's unfortunate association with my grandmother (who, for the record, passed in 1983; that's how classic this blouse is) is the reason for my hesitation, despite the urging of my wonderful Sewing Sisters. Additionally, it has a one piece collar (no separate collar stand) and the fastening on the long sleeve can only be described as funky. (I could describe it otherwise but that would be unkind.) These also contributed to my hesitancy. I finally capitulated because this pattern is the basis for every woven top numbered under 1000 in Silhouette's line of patterns. Knowing the changes I need to make to achieve a good fit on this pattern give me a head start on any of their other woven tops. 

But I digress. I started by cutting a size 2. This should have fit, but the center fronts could barely be pulled into position. I scratched my head over this literally for days and in the process, made all my Sisters feel my pain. In the end I determined that the fullness of the blouse didn't match up with the fullness of my bust. I tried lowering the dart and that helped, but it didn't entirely resolve the issue. 

So I made a bold decision. I threw out all my old bras and completely embraced my new bras. Not only did they give me an instant bust reduction of over an inch, but they also give me a more "youthful silhouette." In other words, they hoist the girls back into something approximating their original position. Armed with this knowledge, I cut a size 2* at the shoulders and a 2.5 at the side seams. In other words, I added half the difference between the size 2 and the size 3 to my side seams. I used a size 3 arm scye and sleeve (more about this in a post to follow). I made a 5/8" forward shoulder adjustment and a 3/4" swayback adjustment.

About that swayback center back seam is necessary. Simply make the adjustment, then place the top and bottom of the pattern piece on the fold. It's not necessary to add tissue to the pattern piece and you don't need to worry about the straight grain of the fabric. You've established a new grain line and that's okay; your finished garment won't be wonky. I haven't found the extra circumference this adds to be an issue at all in knits. In a woven garment, you could deepen the back darts, if available, or on a garment without darts, you could compensate at the side seams.

So with those changes to the pattern, I sewed it up fit! I had anticipated needing to lower the bust point, but it was fine right where it was. Hurray new bras!

I tried to hem it following the pattern instructions (serge the bottom edge, then fold it up 3/8" and top stitch, but I didn't like the results I got on the shirttail hem (I never do). So I purchased single-fold bias tape and used it to finish my hem. I stitch it on by machine, then fold it up and do the final stitching by hand. I love the finish I get doing it this way.

After trying on the finished blouse and consulting with my Sisters, I decided to deepen the darts in the back of the blouse. I did this by a little more than 1/8" (1/4" total for each dart; 1/2" overall). This gave me a much shaplier looking back and made it feel less like a Boho top and more like a fitted blouse.

I'm still not convinced 100% on the collar. It took a really good pressing to get it to hug my neck properly, but I was convinced enough to cut another in a beautiful 100% cotton poplin purchased at I had hoped to have enough fabric left after cutting to make my own bias binding for the hems, but, sadly, I did not; purchased bias tape it will be. I'll add photos of the second blouse after I finish.

Thanks for reading!


Photo taken prior to deepening the back darts.

*Silhouette patterns are sized by finished garment measurement, not by body measurements. The owner/designer, Peggy Sagers, says to choose your size based on a similar garment you already own that fits you well, or, if you don't own one, to try on clothes at a store until you find a well-fitting garment, then measure that one. Okay, so I guessed. To put you in the ball park, I'm going to give you my measurements so you can compare them to the garment measurements and look at the ease of the garment in my photos.

My measurements...
Bust: 36.5
Waist: 31.5
Hips: 38.5

Saturday, January 23, 2021

What Was I Thinking?

While I was tidying up the sewing space, I found a list of patterns-to-buy I had compiled a while back, I'm guessing early 2020. I each of them a second look and was surprised to find that most of them just weren't that interesting.

McCall's 7254

A perfectly nice pattern, but not sure if it's something I'd wear. However, I see that today it's on sale for $3.99, which might make it worth buying and holding onto while I decide.

McCall's 7575

A fine pattern, but I can't for the life of me figure out what it was about it that caught my eye over the hundreds of other blouse patterns that are available.

McCall's 7325

Maybe if I were looking to make a nightgown.

Butterick 6026

Again, nice, but I would never wear this. Never.

Butterick 6070

Another blouse. Have I mentioned that I can't recall the last time I wore a blouse?

Simplicity 8445

And yet another cute blouse that's not my actual style. Also, it's a blouse. Even if I wore blouses every day, how many actual blouse patterns would I need?

Vogue 1050

Those of you who know me (I'm looking at you, Sewing Sisters) are probably laughing your heads off. You would have known right off the bat that I would never, ever in a million-bazillion years wear these pants.

So out of this list, there's one that I might buy simply because it's on sale and another I could possible use to make a nightgown. Other than that...well, who knows what I was thinking. From now on I'm going to employ a cooling off period before I buy new patterns. Either that or get more comfortable with my own aesthetic, rather than thinking I should wear this or that.

Butterick 6026

Butterick 6070

McCall's 7254

McCall's 7325

McCall's 7575

Vogue 1050

Simplicity 8445

Friday, January 22, 2021

A Slightly Upgraded Sewing Space

 We have two homes and I divide my time between them, requiring that I have a sewing area in each. At our home in Grand Coulee, Washington, I have an entire room to myself. At our home in Snohomish, Washington, I'm afraid I'm not quite as lucky.

Here I have a corner of what we call "the dog room." Yes, that tells you everything you need to know about the room. It's dominated by two 48" L x 31" W x 32" H dog crates. I get a corner. Not being a naturally neat person, my corner was - how can I say this nicely - an abysmal mess. There was so much piled on the floor that I couldn't even sit at the desk serving as my sewing table. And the small bit of fabric storage that I have there was completely inaccessible. This is why there are no "before" photos; they would have been too embarrassing to post.

So off to Costco I went and came back with a 6' folding table, which I placed at right angles to the desk. The table is an inch or two higher than the desk, so I don't get an uninterrupted work surface, but it's something I can work with. I'm using the desk top only for storage, so it's not an issue.

Getting back to those dog crates...I have a plan to cover the top of one with plywood and use it as a cutting table. I'm short with short legs, so at 32", it's just about the right height, and certainly better at my age that cutting on the floor.

Here's something funny that happened while I was sorting through my mess. I found this scrap of paper. Thankfully I remembered that this was the correct angle for the center front seam on a v-neck t-shirt I made using Silhouette Patterns #195, Sweater Set, as a base, but what the heck does "BLUE" mean?

Monday, September 28, 2020

I Can't Believe I Made This

Photo Credit: Embroidery Library

It broke three needles and it almost broke me, but I persevered and was victorious. 

Do you know those thousands of emails you get from fabric vendors, peddlers of embroidery designs and, of course, Wawak? The ones that you mostly delete before opening unless you have a pile of cash on hand begging to be spent. Yeah, those.

I happened to open one the other day from Embroidery Library (my favorite online retailer of machine embroidery designs) and saw a project that seemed so far-fetched, so out of the realm of what was possible on a home sewing machine that I knew I would have to try it: embroidered rope baskets.

I'm not going give detailed instructions on the process here, because I am linking to them instead because Embroidery Library's instructions are excellent and the photos they have included are far better than what I could hope to provide with my cell phone and no tripod. Rather, I'll outline the issues I faced and some tips for you to use when you try this. Because you will try it.

I followed EL's instructions exactly, except that I didn't have spray adhesive on hand. This is used to adhere the flat coil of the bottom of the basket to the stabilizer before you hand stitch the coil to the stabilizer. I skipped this step and proceeded directly to stitching the coil to the stabilizer. This may have led to the only real issue I faced while stitching out the embroidery...needle breakage.

I'm not sure if it was due to the lack of adhesive or the design being too dense or what, but the bottom of my basket, which was perfectly flat when I started, "bubbled" up in unstitched sections. Then, when the embroidery moved into the bubbled areas, the needle would break. And break And break.

I finally figured out that I needed to take the frame off the machine as the bottom distorted and press the bubbled sections flat before proceeding. After the first few colors, I did this at every color change. I'm not sure if the adhesive would be strong enough to prevent this. I'll try it on my next basket and see what happens.

I'm also not 100% satisfied with my color choices. I'll chalk that up to being an inexperienced embroiderer. If I had used all the information available to me on the screen, I could have made better color choices. Specifically, I'm referring to the small box highlighted here that shows what part of the design, exactly, will be stitched with the current color. It was only after I had stitched several colors that I noticed this and realized just how useful the information was.

I also need to work on my basket making skills. When I first started building up the sides, it seemed as though the basket would be very, very shallow. I overcompensated and ended up with the top of my basket being a little too tight. And, sadly, when you hold the basket up to the light, you can see daylight in some places coming through between the layers of the rope coil. Just a little, but still.

Tips and Observations
  • It is extremely difficult to stitch the coil when it's less than about 2-1/2" in diameter. Go slowly and keep the "line" between the coil and the free end of the rope lined up with the center of your presser foot. 
  • I found that I needed to add a second row of zigzag stitching perpendicular to the first line stitched across the initial coil to begin the basket.
  • I used a 4 mm wide zigzag to stitch the coil. The instructions call for 1/8", which converts to about 3 mm. I'll do this on my next basket, now that I'm more confident with the process. 4mm is fine, but probably more visible than you really want.
  • If the bottom coil of your basket becomes "bubbled as the embroidery stitches out, remove the frame from the machine and press the bottom flat. I a pressing cloth and steam.
  • To avoid being able to see daylight through the sides of your basket, hold the free end of the rope very snugly against the coil as you're stitching. This is easier to do when stitching the flat coil than when building up the sides of the basket.
  • It's also quite difficult to stitch the first few rounds as you begin to build up the sides of the basket. The instructions tell you to "Place your and under the base and tilt it up. Be careful but keep your hand as close as possible to the foot of the machine." I found that the basket pushed my hand away from the foot. I think I may have been trying to place my hand too close to the foot.
And here is my finished product. It measures 9" across, 3" tall, and used approximately 79 feet of cotton clothesline. The embroidery design is Lavender Blooms Hummingbird from Embroidery Library. The entire project was stitched with my new-to-me Brother Dream Machine.

I'm embarrassed to say I didn't really keep track of how long it took me to make this, but I think it was somewhere under five hours. The design itself required an hour of stitching time, not counting thread changes and taking the hoop in and out for pressing, so I would say the lion's share of the time was taken up with the embroidery.

Overall, I'm extremely pleased with my results, even though my basket is a little lumpy and you can see some daylight through the sides. I'm calling it a "wearable muslin" and it's sitting on a side table in my living room as I type this. This project is well within reach of even beginning sewers and machine embroiderers, so what do you think? Does this look like something you'll "have" to try?

Monday, March 4, 2019

Another T-Shirt

So, hey, now that I have a TNT t-shirt pattern, I can just whip one out whenever I want, like the fast sewists do.

I got the idea for this off of one of Peggy Sagers' YouTube videos. (Peggy's videos should be designated as a national treasure. Subscribe to her channel. Seriously. Do it right now.) I'm not a huge fan of cut-ion sleeves, so I opted to make mine with set-in sleeves, but I still think it turned out really cute.

Peggy says in the video that this is "quick." It may have been quick for her, but it took me the greater part of an afternoon (four hours) to get my pattern ready. So keep that in mind.

To be honest, the top reminds me a little bit of the Frank Gorshin Star Trek character. Are you old enough - or enough of a Trekkie - to know what I'm talking about? If you are, leave a comment below. If you aren't, there's a clue at the end of the post.

Making this top required some slicing and dicing of the basic #195 pattern and, as I said above, that took me most of the afternoon and well into the evening. Because I'm spatially challenged, I carefully held each pattern piece up to my body to make sure that, when cut, each piece would be cut of the correct fabric for so that I'd end up with the proper effect. This led to notes on each piece, like, "Left back...cut one with this side up" and "Right front...cut one with this side up."

Because the sleeve pattern didn't require any modifications, I made notes on both sides: "This side up for left sleeve" and "This side up for right sleeve." I held the pattern piece up to my body on both sides to make sure I was getting it right. Way to be thorough! Go me!

Unfortunately, I still got the sleeves wrong. Fortunately, the sleeves for this pattern seem to be completely symmetrical so I just turned them around and it worked out. I'm still wondering, though, what's a spatially challenged person to do? How can I ever aspire to doing these sorts of things right the first time?

Existential questions aside, once the I had the pattern pieces ready, the t-shirt sewed up quickly. I finished the neckline, sleeves, and hem with black foldover elastic. I like it around the neck. but I'm going to cut it off the sleeves and hem and coverstitch them instead. I just feel like the elastic on sleeves and hem gives a little too much of an activewear vibe.

I did cut the body pieces a little larger than I did for the teal t-shirt. This is because both fabrics for this shirt are lycra blends; the teal tee is cotton/rayon interlock. I was wary of the lycra fabrics being too clingy, so I wanted more ease.

The only other thing I have to say about this is that the fabrics are a little mismatched. The houndstooth check print has a little more body, and the black is slightly thinner, and decidedly softer and more drapey than the print. But they joined together without any puckering and seem to be getting along rather well so...I'm happy.

Frank Gorshin as Bele, "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield"