McCall’s 6739 – A tribal print dress in three hours!

IMG_4187 Whenever I stumble into a fabric store, I wonder if I have some sort of built-in homing device that points me toward anything that’s blue. Honestly! There’s something going on, because my fabric stash right now is definitely ‘fifty shades of blue’. Given that homing device, you won’t be surprised to hear that, when I happened on this tribal print with a flashy shot of blue, it was love at first sight. What’s a girl to do?

When I made this print mine, I knew it had to be a dress, something simple that would allow the bold colorful design to shine.

I perused my patterns. First up – – A fit and flare style with a bodice with an attached skirt. I laid the pieces out on my lovely fabric. That’s when I realized, this fabric’s print wasn’t random at all. It had a linear flow to it, a design that would be completely destroyed if I opted for a bodice/skirt combo.

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Enter McCalls’ 6739, a loose-fitting pullover dress with princess seams and topstitching.

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The pattern envelope showed a wide front panel, perfect for my fabric, but the style looked a bit boxy for my already waistless figure. And the options shown were short sleeves or no sleeves. But I wanted long! Well, all of those things can be changed, can’t they?

I dove in! My print was a brushed cotton (nice and easy to wear purchased at Mill End Store) and I had a stable black ponte knit to use as contrast. Both fabrics were a breeze to sew with. The pattern went together quickly – – and the square neck was a new experience for me. What fun!

But my first fitting was a disaster. I looked a bit like a fire hydrant. (Hmm. Maybe this is why I should’ve cut a muslin version first?). What to do? I could not give up on this dress because I couldn’t bear to part with my beautiful print and its crazy shot of blue. So, I turned the dress inside out, stuck it on my dress form, then pinned those princess seams into submission, nipping them in at the waist.

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Once pinned, I marked my work with blue tailor’s chalk right on the seams, so that I’d see exactly where my pins had been.  Then, I re-sewed the princess seams on that line to give them a natural arc that would fit to me.

Voila – – instant shape! When it came to the sleeves, altering them to make them long was a no-brainer. I just extended them.

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The square neck on this pattern is fun, but here’s the added bonus. It’s so wide, you don’t need a zipper. The dress just slips over your head! How easy is that? Without a zipper, this ’sew’ clocked in at just under three hours. Nice! McCall’s 6739! Where have you been all my life?

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I think this dress is just what my wardrobe needs, and I love the print. Let’s see…would you call it an Aztec print or a tribal print or….? Perhaps someone out there can shed some light on the proper name for this print.

I may not know what to call it, but I do know what I love about it. That brilliant patch of blue! Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

A color-blocked tee in ‘Merlot’: the perfect palette cleanser

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After completing a challenging sewing project, I often find I need an easy follow-up ‘sew’, sort of a palette cleanser, you know? A tee or a top is my ‘go-to’ project at times like these and I feel especially virtuous if my project uses up a bit of my huge, largely untamed fabric stash.

I found this great red ponte in my stash, and decided it needed to go out into the world. It’s a wine-y red, similar to the color Pantone chose for 2015, ‘Marsala’, a robust and earthy wind red that they describe as a ‘hearty but stylish tone’ (LOL).  I gotta give them credit. They definitely called that trend, because that color of red is everywhere! In Nordstrom’s fall catalog, they called it ‘merlot’ and nearly every page included a splash (Ha) of it. And who among us doesn’t love a color that reminds them of their favorite beverage?

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The Merlot ponte in my stash was perfect for a tee, but there wasn’t enough for a long sleeved style (so typical…), so I was forced to color block (Yes, I’m a fool for it), mixing my wine-colored fabric with accents of black and gray.

The pattern I chose for my easy-to-wear tee is Vogue 8710, a semi-fitted pullover top.

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The pattern was released awhile ago, but it’s still around. I love tees that fit closely around the bust and shoulders, but that have an interesting shape. This one fits that criteria perfectly because it’s almost bell shaped at the bottom, which I love, but it’s not too loose either.

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View B is a color blocking dream-come-true because it has curved side panels that add interest to the fit, but are also the perfect host for a contrasting color.

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For me, the fit of this pattern is pretty spot on, in spite of the fact that I have really narrow shoulders. I think this means that others might need to adjust the pattern a bit? I used red ponte’ for the bodice (moderate stretch), dark gray for the side panels, and black jersey for the sleeves and neck binding. My ponte’ knit was pretty substantial with a lot of body, but with a good drape. This seems important to support the cool shape of the bottom of the tee. I don’t think this pattern would work as well if your knit was too lightweight, even though the suggested fabric include light jerseys. Just saying….

The pattern was super easy to put together. I used the knit stitch on my regular sewing machine and it worked fine. This tee qualifies as a quick sew to be sure. You don’t have to think too much so you can watch Game of Thrones and never miss a beat. And it’s so fun to have a new top that you started in the morning, but wear in the afternoon.

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I think I’ll make this top again, probably in some random shades of blue (I’m obsessed!). Do you have a favorite ‘palette cleanser’ pattern? Do share! Happy Sewing! And thanks for stopping by.

Sew The Look: Alexa’s Corduroy Shirt Dress

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The fall weather here has been perfect for wandering about…sunny, warm and colorful! When the weather is like this, I find it impossible to stay inside. On a recent walk, I found myself in front of my favorite RTW haunt, Anthropologie. What a surprise! I couldn’t help but go inside. As usual, the racks were loaded with inspiration. My favorite ‘find’ was a navy corduroy shirt dress, an A-line with a seventies vibe.

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Since I’ve been in a bluesy-denim mood for about a YEAR, the color alone was enough to make me swoon, so I grabbed it and headed to the dressing room. There, I just happened to glance at the price tag. Sticker shock! The price was roughly three times what I expected it to be. How could that be? The dress was made from corduroy! It turns out that my favorite frock wasn’t just any old shirt dress, but one designed by model,  Alexa Chung. It’s part of a line by AG jeans of dresses, all with a retro seventies look, so, of course, I fell in love.  As fate would have it, the dress didn’t fit at all. My narrow shoulders….my high waist…yada yada.  You know the story. (This is one good reason to sew!) Still, I wanted that dress! That moment gave birth to a new obsession – – to create my own version of that cute navy dress. Stealthily, in the privacy of my dressing room, I studied it, making a quick mental list of the details that made that dress so awesome: soft navy corduroy, great a tonal top stitching, french seams, a very ‘seventy’s’ A-line shape, princess seams (who can resist!!), cool silver buttons, two pockets, and long sleeves with cuffs.

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Choosing the pattern was a no-brainer. McCalls’ 6124 is a TNT for me,  a shirt with princess seams, front bands, sleeves with cuffs, and collar variations.

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Fabric? I found the softest corduroy EVER at Mill End, and it was a deep rich navy, so I was off to a good start.The cutting out phase of the project went well, with one exception. A small, orange-ish cat snuck into my sewing room. I’ll just say this. If you choose to make a dress out of dark corduroy, carry a lint brush at all times.

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This classic shirt dress went together as expected, and, as usual, I had trouble with the challenge of the collar stand. It’s the curves, the positioning of the collar, the edge stitching – – everything about it pushes my patience.  I can never get the collar and the band to line up perfectly. This time though, I used a technique I learned about awhile ago from the blog, Four Square Walls. Instead of attaching the collar to the collar stand, then attaching the whole piece to the neckline, you re-order things a bit. First, you sew one interfaced collar band piece to the neckline. Then, you sew the collar to that, following finally with the other collar band piece, and Voila! Perfection! Here’s the link that describes the process perfectly: four square walls, sewing a collar a different order.

The top stitching was so fun too, especially because I got to use my new best friend, Bernina presser foot 57, my 1/4” Patchwork Seam Foot.

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Love that thing. You just line the little seam guide up and you can not go wrong.

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Because I might use this dress as a layering piece over jeans (wearing it open?), I worked extra hard to make the inside perfect. So, I did french seams throughout, using a light blue topstitching thread. It took awhile (a three hour movie – – but who’s counting), but I’m sure the effort will pay off at some point (?). I also added self drafted pockets with flaps and top stitched them as well.

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The most satisfying detail of all for me was the buttons, little jeans buttons with stars on them!

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If you’ve never played around with these things, let me tell you, it is a kick. You get to use a hammer to pound the back on! I like the silver accent of the buttons against the blue corduroy.

The dress is so comfortable to wear. There is nothing like the comfort of a soft cotton corduroy and a walk in the woods to make a day perfect.IMG_2918

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What RTW inspirations have you found this fall? Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

Butterick 5927: A warm front of plaid wool

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This plaid coat is my most recent attempt to brighten up my outerwear wardrobe with color.  The base color of the loose weave is avocado green, a trendy color this fall that pays homage to some 70’s legends, namely Kitchenmaid, Sunbeam and Kenmore (harvest gold or burnt orange, anyone?).
Plaid used to be the last thing I’d include in my wardrobe as it reminded me of private school uniforms. But plaid is all grown up now. It’s such a fashion mainstay, it made an appearance on more than one fashion runway this fall. Love the combination of colors and textures in these Prada plaids!
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If only the fabric fairy would bring me some of this!
 
This fall, I wanted to add a loosely structured, easy-to-wear coat to my wardrobe, something to just ‘throw on’ over jeans and cords and skirts. I also wanted a stand up collar to keep out cold wind.
This proved to be a tall order, since many coat patterns had fussy lapels, details I didn’t want. I finally settled on  Butterick 5927, a lined jacket with front variations and a stand up collar.
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I modified the pattern, adding 6 inches to the front and back bodice to make it less of a jacket and more of a coat (albeit a short one). I also added a couple of inches to the stand up collar with two buttons to make it a bit cozier and to protect against winter winds. To make the sleeves more weather proof, I added self drafted cuffs with buttons. 
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The pattern is a nice basic shape and the coat went together easily. The biggest challenge I faced was the fabric. It frayed like crazy!! So I had to take extra care with the seam finishings. Even as I finished them, they frayed – frustrating! But other than that, it was a pretty fast sew, really. I did the seams, collars, the cuffs, all of the hard stuff. But, when it came to the lining, I stalled. Don’t ask me why! I couldn’t get myself to just finish it. The beautiful black cotton/silk blend just sat on my sewing table for weeks. What the…?
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True confession, here. This is a recurring problem for me. I frequently stall when it comes to the lining. I dither around. Of course, lining a garment isn’t hard at all. So why not just do it? Good question! Anyway, to make a long story short, I finally broke down and cut the lovely silk and sewed it in. No big deal. And the coat looks so finished now. Hope I can remember that next time I make a lined garment!
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The mornings are cold here, and some of the days are gray, but the good news is, my outwear isn’t… It’s Kitchenmaid green! 
My fall sewing frenzy is in full swing now. I’m dreaming of projects with cold weather in mind, coats and jackets and layers. How about you?
Happy sewing – and thanks for stopping by!