Crazed by gingham!!

If you stare at gingham for too long, do you go crazy? That’s what I asked myself as I completed yet another gingham top. My cat seems crazed if he stares at a fly for too long. His eyes gloss over and he starts to twitch. I’m sure I  had that same vacant look in my eyes as I stitched down the home stretch on this top!

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“Another gingham top?” you ask. “Why?”

The answer is simple. Blame it on Anthropologie. I took a quick spin down their aisles recently, and noticed that gingham was ‘having a moment’. After trying a few garments on, I became convinced I would die if I didn’t add some gingham to my wardrobe, because, honestly, those little checks just make me feel good! Gingham is a cheery fabric, don’t you think? Who can frown, when they’re dressed in gingham?

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When I found this lovely blue (!!) and white cotton at Fabric Depot, it seemed fated!  More gingham for me!

The pattern for this tunic/shirt is McCalls’ 6125, a princess seamed shirt pattern that I’ve used more than a time or two. I love princess seams. They’re flattering and, they make me look taller (…ummm, right?).

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I made View C as drafted with one exception. I added a sewn-in tie at the waist. Since my shirt is tunic length, adding a built-in tie seemed like a fun way to make this shirt stand out from the crowd of shirts that lives in my closet. Also, rather than have everything line up, I cut the side panels and the front placket on the bias to make them stand out.

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The ties were simple pieces to add. I just cut two (2) eight inch wide rectangles, each sixteen inches long. After finishing the edges of each tie, I inserted the ends into the side seams, lining the edges up with the bodice’s seam allowances, then closed up the seams. The tie as I drafted it is fairly wide. This makes it easy to cinch at the waist, or you can drop it a bit for a looser look. I love having the tie built into the shirt. That way, you can’t lose it!

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This McCall’s shirt pattern is one of my favorites. It has a front band, princess seams, hem slit openings, and collar variations. The instructions are very straightforward and easy to follow. It’s a nice basic pattern, that fits me well without any tricky modifications.

Believe it or not, it was over a hundred degrees today here in Portland Oregon. Yet I was comfortable in my light cotton shirt! This is a very good sign. Perhaps, this gingham top will become one of my ‘regulars’. After all, even Elizabeth Taylor wore gingham!

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As I finished this blog post, I did notice one ‘oops’ about my shirt. The buttons don’t line up perfectly. Not sure if this means the button holes are too big, or the buttons aren’t placed correctly on the placket or what? I struggled to mark this fabric accurately as it moved around a bit. Perhaps that’s where I went wrong? Thoughts?

Happy sewing! Thanks for stopping by!

Checks, please!

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Is there any print that’s more all-American than gingham? It’s been associated with farms and corn fields ever since Dorothy wore her gingham pinafore in the Wizard of Oz.

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But gingham’s image and appeal doesn’t stop there. It’s even been favored by iconic fashion figures from the past. Brigitte Bardot had a wedding dress made from gingham.

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Jane Fonda wore gingham in Cat Ballou.

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Even Audrey Hepburn wore gingham a time or two.

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So, when we wear gingham these days, we’re in good company!

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This Spring, gingham staged a  comeback, making it into the collections of famous designers. Altuzarra had a simple gingham shirt dress with classic lines here.

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Bottega Veneta had a gauzy interpretation with this stunning dress.

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And now, gingham has made it into my wardrobe. This easy top features black and white checks of varying sizes.

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The pattern: Simplicity 1377 is an easy to sew top with drop shoulders and a simple crew neck.

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Modifications: I made view C but modified the split v- neck to be a true V-neck, by omaking the V wider. In order to have the big checks on the back show to the front at the shoulder, I added an inch to the back shoulder seam, and subtracted an inch from the front shoulder seam. For interest, I added twill tape to the shoulder seams, the sleeves and the neckline.

Fabric: the two gingham checks are cotton shirting, purchased at Fabric Depot. I was inspired to use gingham by the wonderful garments being posted on the Monthly Stitch for the Check it Out Challenge. If you haven’t visited that site, take a look. It’s such a great community of seamstresses.

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This top was easy and fun to sew, and since I chose a pattern with a one piece bodice, I didn’t have to struggle to match the plaids! It’s summer after all, my favorite time to sew things that are easy and fast. What about you? Does the sun give you the energy to sew more complex projects? Or do you opt for simple patterns, like me?

Happy sewing! Thanks for stopping by…

Color-blocking a wild print into submission

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When it comes to fabric, I am not a big fan of prints. Yes, I love the way they look on others (the wilder, the better!) but on me? Not so much. Yet, my wardrobe needs a few prints to make it more interesting. After all, one cannot live on a diet of solid fabrics alone!

But for a shrimp like me, finding the right print can be challenging. I’m often attracted to prints that overwhelm my smallish frame. The fabric I used on this dress is a perfect example of my exuberance when it comes to color and pattern. When I saw this blue printed linen at Fabric Depot, I could not take my eyes off it. Yes, I’m a blue fanatic, and this was the most lovely shade imaginable.  Of course, the fabric jumped right into my shopping cart and made its way home with me.

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But when I draped the printed linen on my mannequin, I could not believe how bold and busy it looked. A serious case of buyer’s remorse! The blue was so bright! And those floral designs seemed to be swimming all over the place! I couldn’t imagine the fabric would ever work on  me.

But, I couldn’t bear to  part with it either. So, color blocking…to the rescue!

I’ve always been fond of wearing black with blue, so I draped black linen over the blue print, and, hallelujah, to my eye, it tamed that wild fabric down.  So, I went for it.

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The pattern I used is a Tried and True, Vogue 8840 (also seen here). I lengthened the tunic version by 6” to make it dress length. (The tunic itself is already pretty long on me, so it doesn’t take much to make it a dress.)  I cut the short sleeved version.

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Color blocking modifications:

Cutting: For the color blocked pieces in the front, I cut one piece of white linen that was six inches wide and the length of the center seam of the dress. I also cut two black strips, the same length as the white piece, but only  3” wide.

Application: After sewing the center front seam on the dress, I pinned on the color block strips, using the center front seam as my guide. The white strip was centered on that seam, and the black pieces were edge stitched to each side of the white strip. After I did that, I added a bit of trim that I had in my stash on the seams of the color blocked pieces to make them pop a bit. I also added a black linen band to the bottom of both of the sleeves to pull the color theme together.

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Once the color blocked strips were sewn on, I finished the tunic according to the standard instructions.

The linen was a dream to sew on, and it breathes even when the air is hot and thick. And the pattern? There is a reason it’s one of my tried and trues. It’s so easy to modify and it fits well. My color blocked dress is still pretty bright for me, but at least its wearable. And I had so much fun playing around with the fabric on this one!

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Happy summer, happy sewing, and thanks for stopping by!

McCalls 6883 morphs into a top!

It’s a little late in July for red, white, and blue. Never-the-less, this Cotton and Steel print begged to be worn.

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I was first attracted to this fabric because of the crazy mish-mash of red, white and blue checks sprinkled on a back drop of cream. But, when I touched the fabric, I had to possess it. The weave of this rayon is so fine, you imagine you’re wearing silk.

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That’s what motivated me to make this fabric into something really wearable, a wardrobe essential I’d have reason to wear again and again. For me, that means a go-to top that can be worn with jeans, or dressed up with a skirt or some nice pants. I wanted something that looked casual, yet structured. So,to challenge myself a bit, I decided to make the top by using two patterns combined; the bodice of a fitted dress and a peplum from another pattern. I couldn’t tell you what inspired me to put these two patterns together (no, there was not wine involved, I swear). But, once the idea grabbed hold, I had to give it a try.

The neckline of the dress (McCall’s 6883) is what made me buy this pattern. It’s a wide neckband with a bit of a vintage vibe.

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To shift the dress into a top, I cut it off at the natural waistline, then attached a loose peplum, adapted from Vogue 8815.

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This is what happens when I go crazy for a neckline, but not so much for the rest of the pattern!

Modifications to McCalls 6883:

  • I cut the dress as designed, but shortened the bodice to the natural waist. I was able to get this modified pattern from a scant yard of fabric.
  • The lower bodice of my top is the peplum from Vogue 8815. To make sure it would fit on the modified bodice of my dress, I measured the bottom of the bodice,  as well as the waist of the peplum. I discovered there was an inch discrepancy between the two, so, in order to make them fit together, I had to widen the peplum waist by 1”. When attaching the peplum to the dress, I used a 5/8” seam, which placed the peplum slightly above my waist, which is where I wanted it. Yes, I was sweating this a bit, but miraculously, the bodice and peplum went together with very little pain and suffering.

Fabric: Cotton and Steel Rayon purchased at Fabric Depot

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Lately it seems, I’m modifying my existing sewing patterns rather than buying new ones. This is probably a good thing, since my pattern stash is HUGE.  It’s also a good way  to get the style I want, while using a pattern I know will fit me.  The risk though, is that the new version of my old favorite will be so wonky, it looks like a big mistake! Still, even though risky, I enjoyed this process of combining patterns. It used a part of my sewing brain that needs to be stretched from time to time, so I’ll probably do it again.

I hope your summer is fabulous and fun, and that you’re getting a chance to wear all of your favorite makes! Thanks for stopping by!

A DIY peplum tee with handkerchief hem

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Summer clothes must be effortless. Right? We’re too busy soaking up the sun to spend time fussing with our frocks!  My daily uniform consists of a tee shirt and a pair of shorts, maybe a skirt or two. Nothing could be easier to throw on in the morning.
One of my favorite easy-to-wear tees of all time, was a peplum top with a handkerchief hem that I bought during an Anthropologie spending spree a couple of years ago. After many, many wearings and washings, it is finally time to send it to tee-shirt heaven. But of course, I want another to replace it. But as is often the case in the land of ‘ready-to-wear’, that ship has sailed. The only way to get a replacement tee is to make one of my own.
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So, I decided to replicate the look by modifying my favorite basic tee pattern, Vogue 8536, a tried and true. It has several sleeve and neck variations, and my copy of the pattern has been used so many times, it’s practically in shreds! The fabric I chose is cotton with moderate stretch, purchased at Fabric Depot.
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To make this tee top, I cut view A, a version with short sleeves and a crew neck. Then, in order to accommodate the addition of a skirt, I shortened the tee to the natural waist line. I wanted the skirt/peplum to attach right above the natural waist so by cutting it there, after the addition of a 5/8” seam, the skirt would attach at the perfect spot. Then, I drafted the peplum/skirt portion.
First I cut a rectangle, 28″ by 18″.IMG_0082
Then I measured the bottom of the tee. On the center of the rectangle’s long side, I marked that width.
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Then, for the draped handkerchief look, I marked 12″ from the bottom of my rectangle for the ‘drop’. From this 12″ mark, I drew a line to the edge of the tee shirt hem mark. On the diagram here, that’s where the ruler is placed.
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Then, I cut of the triangles created by these lines. This creates the side seams for the angled peplum.
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The finished peplum looks like this.
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You cut two of these peplums, then sew them together at the angled side seams, and attach them to the tee shirt bottom (see the marked area above.) I used a one inch hem on the bottom.
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Clear as mud? I wouldn’t be surprised! If I’ve left out anything, please let me know, and I’ll try to clarify.  There’s probably a prepared pattern somewhere that is similar to my self drafted top. But after sorting and filing my patterns this weekend, I can easily say, I Do Not need to buy another pattern. Really.  I am on a self imposed pattern purchasing hiatus. (My stash could fill a storage locker).
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I hope your summer sewing is easy and fun. Thanks for stopping by!!

Vogue 8894 – Stripes, Blue and Linen

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When I first saw this fabric, it seemed made for me.  It has most everything I love; two shades of BLUE, stripes and… it’s linen! Can you blame me for snatching it up? I was ecstatic, yet, once I got it home, it languished in my stash. I couldn’t decide what to do with it. Fabric love can be so paralyzing! I overthink, worrying that the style won’t do it justice, or that it will never look as good as it does on the shelf.
But our recent heat wave pushed me to act. I did not have a thing to wear (honest!!). Everything in my closet felt heavy and hot. This made my lovely fabric’s future quite clear. It would become an easy-to-wear, cool summer dress, a frock that could handle even a 100 degree day.
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The pattern I used was one I’d had in my archives, a basic Vogue I bought during a sale, then never used. To be honest, there are many (!!)  similar patterns in my archives, ‘honest mistakes’ purchased during some crazy-good 5 for $7 sale. I’m a sucker for those sales. No matter what, I can’t buy just three patterns. I have to buy five, because, well, it’s a good deal! Needless to say, that mindset results in a pattern stash that is unwieldy and huge. Some of those lovelies will never be opened, or cut. What to do, what to do? Does one vow to use all of them so that not one pattern will be wasted? Or is it better to admit defeat and send some of them to pattern heaven?
I digress, though.
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Pattern: I chose Vogue 8894 from my archives, A v-neck dress with a close fitting bodice, a raised waist, hemline variations and sleeves, and a back zipper. It was easy to put together, and the instructions were clear. I made my usual adjustments for narrow shoulders, and the fit was spot on.
Fabric: Linen from Fabric Depot.
Design Modifications: The pattern is designed with 3/4 length sleeves. This just didn’t feel right for summer. So I cut them off, and added a 4″ sleeve band. To make a long story short (Ha!), I  cut four (4) four inch wide pieces that were the width of the shortened sleeve. I sewed them together (right sides together) then turned the band right side out. The finished bands were then stitched to the sleeves.
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Contrast: The dress seemed too plain, probably because the pattern doesn’t have a lot of complicated design elements. So I added contrasting twill tape at the neckline, the shoulder seam and the sleeve band seams.
Hem: I opted for the straight skirt. Instead of a high low hem, I chose a straight hem.
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Lessons learned: Adding contrast was an after thought. I wore the dress once, then decided it needed a bit more pizzazz. Since the fabric was so great, I decided to go the extra mile and add contrasting twill, even though the dress was done. This was torture, since some of the seams had to be opened so that the end of the twill tape could be hidden in the seam. Since I’d  overlocked some to keep them from fraying, this was no easy task. In the future, if I get a bee in my bonnet to add trim/twill tape, I will decide that before (!!) I finish the darn thing.

That being said, I like the dress much better now, so I will probably wear it more, making the extra effort worth it. And the pattern is probably a keeper, an easy to fit, wearable dress.  I’m glad I found it in my archives.
I’d be interested to know what your strategy is regarding patterns. If you haven’t used them after awhile, do you send them on their way, or do you hold on to your patterns forever? If so, how do you organize/store them? Have a great weekend, and thanks for stopping by!!

Eyelet: A fabric with a higher purpose

Eyelet fabric – – Not only does it look great but when summer reaches its boiling point, eyelet has a higher purpose. Its lovely holes keep you cool!
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 A classic fabric, with a ladylike vibe, eyelet has gone through a major upgrade this season, with fresh colors and textures that give it a stylish pop! It’s the new perfect hot weather fabric, a must in Oregon, where you can never be sure your destination will be air-conditioned. So, if you don’t want to SUFFER, you wear only crisp cottons, lightweight linens, or, even, a breezy colorful eyelet.
Since it’s been hot and muggy in my neck of the woods, I’ve discovered that my wardrobe is a bit skimpy when it comes to summery tops. So, when I spotted a piece of blue (!!) eyelet in my stash, I knew immediately what I wanted to make from it: a sleeveless top.
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The fabric: This eyelet has been in my stash for awhile, so I’m not sure where it came from. The fabric is a great shade of blue, that’s not really a navy or cobalt, but somewhere between those two colors. Love!! When I first saw this fabric, I thought I’d need to underline it, but the holes are really small, so I chose not to because I wanted the top to be super light and comfortable. I don’t mind a bit of skin showing through.
Pattern: I decided to modify one of my tried and true patterns, Vogue 8815,Unknown  images-1
a top with a raised waist and sleeve variations. My favorite version is view C because the raised waist has a unique curve to it.
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It’s an easy pattern that I’ve made before (see it here). View C is supposed to be a pullover, but I added a back zipper just like view A and B. The instructions are well drafted, so this pattern would work for a beginner.
Modifications:  I made the pattern as is, but added a tie at the natural waist line to give it a different look and a bit more shape.
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To make the tie a part of the top’s design, I marked the natural waist on the pattern, then sewed the tie into the side seams at that place. This way, when the tie is pulled to the front, it adds some shape at the waist and makes the peplum fall in easy gathers.
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I think I’m going to wear this top a lot since our summer is starting off with a bang. It can be dressed up with jewelry or worn with jeans.
Last but not least, I must give a shout out to you all. Usually, I don’t sew that much in the summer, but I’ve been so inspired by the summer creations posted on my favorite blogs (visit the blogs on my list to the right to see what I’m talking about here), I’m sewing like crazy! Thanks to all of you, and Happy Summer!!

Thursday Top: A Little White Shirt (Simplicity 1694)

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By now, we’ve all heard of the LWD (Little White Dress), this Spring’s alternative to the Little Black Dress. But after a recent review of my wardrobe, I realized I needed a LWS, (Little White Shirt) in the worst way. Scary fact – – I have a million tees and more than a million dresses in my closet, but hardly any shirts. Why? Because I sew without a plan.
My sewing is inspired by many things: cool fabric, impulse buys, a great project I saw on someone else’s blog, an Ready-To-Wear item that I’m determined to ’sew for less’. But need? Never, a fact that has consequences. My wardrobe is a bit of a mash up. What to do? Sew!
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Given the fact that the temperatures are well above 90 degrees, I decided to use some very lightweight embroidered cotton in my stash to make a summer-friendly, white shirt that would work with a pair of shorts I never wear because they’re separates without a match.
I chose an embroidered, lightweight cotton from my stash that I found at Fabric Depot. As usual, when I found this fabric, I made an Impulse-Buy. So, I didn’t have quite enough to make what I really wanted, a shirt with rolled-up sleeves and tabs. Also, the fabric’s cool embroidery detail is on the fabric’s border, so laying out the pattern was a bit tricky (similar to the issue I had with my kimono), and I used more than I meant to. So, I was forced to use a different fabric for the yoke and pockets.
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I had a bit of white textured cotton, a remnant left over from another project, so I used that. In hindsight, having too little fabric might have been a good problem to have,  because the textured cotton makes the pockets stand out a bit more.
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The pattern: Simplicity 1694, a loose-fitting button down shirt with sleeve variations, collar variations and length variations. It was pretty easy to sew and the instructions were very clear.
The fabric: Lightweight cotton with a very wide embroidered border. I used vintage buttons I had in my stash.
Modifications: None! For once, it fit without any adjustments or changes. The sleeves are 3/4 length, but I rolled them up for the photos because it’s so hot outside.
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I think this pattern will become a Tried and True. I’d like to make it again, a longer version that can be tucked in, maybe in chambray with long sleeves.
Do you sew to fill a need in your wardrobe, or are you a bit random about the whole thing?
Stay Cool! Thanks for stopping by.