McCall’s 6708: An animal print cardigan

 

 

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Yes, it’s a jungle out there! A bit of a cliche’ perhaps, but what better way is there to describe what’s happening in the sewing blog world these days? Everywhere, fabulous makes are being crafted from jungle worthy fabrics as part of #Jungle January, a month long walk on the wild side.

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This photo is from “Pretty Grievances” and it captures the mood of the month. In my opinion, the timing for Jungle January could not be better, since it can be a bit dull around here. It’s so easy to stay stuck in a routine when it’s grimly gray outside. How nice to be inspired to do something adventuresome in the new year. What better way to shake off the glooms!

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The fabric for my leopard cardigan was purchased a couple of years ago at Fabric Depot. It’s a stable cotton knit that I bought without knowing what I’d make from it. (Yes, this is a scary habit of mine that has resulted in a large stash that is about to take over the world.) As the fabric languished in my stash for years, I expected it was a purchase whose time had run out because, surely, animal prints would soon go out of style. Ha! I was so, so wrong. Now, in 2016, they are making a splashy return on the runways of Marc Jacobs, Givenchy, and Dolce and Gabbana.

So inspiring! But to me, what’s even more inspiring are these classic fashion icons.

No one wore a leopard print hat quite as well as Audrey!

When I saw these classic styles, I decided my leopard print needed to be fashioned into something with a bit of a vintage look. Enter the cardigan. My pattern is McCalls 6708. It’s Out Of Print, but you could use Butterick 6062 to get the same look.   I made the shorter version, view D, so it would look like one of those boxy vintage cardigans.

The fabric I used for the bodice is a stable knit from my stash. The neck, pocket and sleeve bands are from a remnant of sweater knit. At first, I was a bit disappointed in the sweater knit trim, as it became so ‘furry’ as I worked with it. The floor under my sewing machine was covered with little fuzzy bits. But then I realized just how appropriate that was for Jungle January. My fabric was shedding! Do you think the floor of the Jungle is just covered with fur?

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This pattern is great because you can embellish with as many details as you would like. I added one set of pockets, trimming them with buttons and sweater knit, but you could add more. The project was easy to sew but a bit time consuming (lots of trim to put on :)). The trickiest part was the button holes on the front band. Even though I interfaced it, the fabric stretched a bit more than I’d hoped. I think a stiffer interfacing would have helped.

Under the cardigan ( just to make the Jungle theme perfectly clear), I’m wearing a leopard print tee I made awhile back.

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It’s one of my favorite tees, I have to admit. The fabric is so soft and yummy, and the leopard print is so dark, I imagine it’s a neutral! This means I’m allowed to wear it with everything, right?

I hope you’re enjoying January, a chance to return to routine after the hectic holidays.  To revitalize my sewing mojo and ready myself for a great 2016, I’m reorganizing my stash based on fabric content, but I’m not convinced my system is perfect. I also would like a way to keep track of my fabric inventory in a document that I could take with me when I look for patterns. Would love to know how you organize your stash!

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

 

Vogue 8831: A sweater knit top with zippers

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Since I don’t knit, I’ve become a huge fan of sweater knits. With only a few yards of the cozy stuff, you can cut and sew almost any style sweater you want. Here, in rainy Oregon, a person can NEVER have too many sweaters.

For this top, I used two coordinating sweater knits from my fabric stash (yay); a striped textured knit for the bodice, and a solid sweater knit for the arms and cowl. For fun, I also added a couple of pockets to the bodice, sewn from a untextured knit of solid black.

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I used the same fabric to add sleeve bands, and, because I’d fallen in love with a RTW top with zipper detail at the hem (it didn’t fit, rats), I added two seven inch zippers to the princess seams at the hem.

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The pattern I used is Vogue 8831,  a top with princess seams and a cowl neck. I’ve made it before here, and will likely do so again as I love the cowl neck and the princess seams in the bodice.

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Because this sweater knit was so loosely woven, I added stabilizer to the seams before stitching in the zippers. This gave the fabric enough body to support the weight of the zipper and also helped protect the seam from unraveling. I also finished all the seams with an overlock stitch. I love sweater knit, but when it’s loosely woven, it can be a bit….touchy.   I was really glad I chose a pattern that I knew well, because the stitches seemed to just disappear into the fabric. If I’d had to unpick any of those seams, it would have been a night mare!

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I learned a bit more about sweater knits as I worked on this project. The things I want to remember for my next project include:

  1. Always use the right needle. On this project, a jersey needle worked best.
  2. Finish the raw edges to keep the weave together.
  3. Stabilize seams and hems (especially if they have to carry the weight of a zipper ).
  4. Try not to pull the knit as you sew. It does stretch and can lose its shape (My hem isn’t as perfect as I’d like because I stretched it out when I put the zippers in.)
  5. Keep your cat out of the sewing room especially if he’s orange and his name is Dustin.IMG_7077

Putting in the zippers required a bit of thought and added some extra steps, but I’m glad I did. I like the look of the zippers and they make the top a bit unusual. To change up the look, I can wear it with the zippers open or closed. And if I eat too much, hey, all I have to do to get a bit of room is to unzip. Ha! Too bad I didn’t have this top to wear over the holidays!

I still have quite a bit of winter sewing to do, but the linens and cottons in my stash are calling me. Pretty soon, I’ll just have to give in and shift my focus. My spring plans are to make a couple of light weight dresses and tops that will travel well. And pants! I have to find a pants pattern that I love. Recommendations are appreciated!

I’d love to hear about your sweater knit experiences and if you’ve found any secrets to success. Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by…

 

 

Vogue 8828: If Karl can, why can’t I?

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I rarely leave the house in anything other than pants and sweaters at this time of year, as the weather makes layering and covering up a matter of survival. But it gets old fast, don’t you think? Pants, jeans, blah! I long to wear a dress, but how? I don’t want to freeze to death.

My dilemma was unresolved until, in a holiday-induced frenzy, I perused the Chanel Couture Collection (I can dream, can’t I?). That’s when I noticed that several of Karl’s creations were actually quilted.

 

 

Of course, the Chanel fabrics are so gorgeous, they could do anything to them, and they would be fabulous. But I was caught up in Karl’s message. Dresses can be classic and beautiful, but warm too! Needless to say, creating a quilted dress became my new obsession.

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The pattern I used for my quilted dress is Vogue 8828, a classic style with princess seams, a fitted bodice, a raised waist, and a semi fitted or loose fitting skirt.

I decided to make the less fitted version as I’m in LOVE with A-line shapes at the moment.

I used two different quilted fabrics from Fabric Depot, a black knit and a gray knit. Both fabrics are stable knits, quilted in a diamond pattern, but of varying sizes, a fact I thought would add some contrast to the dress.

I used the black with the small diamonds for the bodice, the gray with the larger diamonds for the skirt. I thought the gray would provide some contrast for the black. But the REAL reason I picked the gray fabric for the skirt was because of the selvages. They were white and tufted, perfect to use as trim on the princess seams and neckline.

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Or course, as I was considering this strategy, I fancied I was mimicking Karl, since he uses trim everywhere. But OMG, what trim! Have you ever seen anything more beautiful than this?

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I made my own trim by cutting those selvages off the gray fabric in 1″ strips. Then, (carefully, let me tell you) I cut them down, reducing them to a width of  5/8″, zigzagging the edges so they wouldn’t unravel. Before sewing the seams, I basted my new trim at the seam line. Then, when I sewed the seams together, the lovely white part showed.

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Honestly, without that selvage trim, the dress would have been (dare I say it) boring? Black and gray are favorite colors of mine, but they can be a bit dull, to say the least. The lines of the princess seams are the best part of this dress and I’m glad the trim highlights them.

Vogue 8828 is a winner. I love this pattern. The style is classic, but fun and it went together easily. There are a few pattern pieces to manage, but in this instance, Vogue does a nice job of describing the construction steps so that it doesn’t make you lose your mind. Also, the sewing required to complete this dress is pretty straightforward. If you know how to insert a zipper, uou can’t go wrong! My only wish is that I’d used a invisible zipper. Oh well, there’s always next time.This dress is cozy, so it will get a lot of use.  I plan to wear it to several wintery evening events.  I plan to make this pattern again soon, from a dressier fabric.

My conclusion? As usual, Karl wasn’t wrong. Quilting doesn’t need to be limited to heavy overcoats and down jackets. Now, if I only could get my hands on some of his fabulous fabric!

Have you ever made a quilted garment? Did you wear it, or did it end up in the ‘recycle’ pile? Happy sewing, and thanks for stopping by!

 

McCalls 7247: A Tee Top for the New Year

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For me, 2015 went by too fast, a crazy blur of fabric purchases, sewing marathons, and mad dashes to the store for notions. When I look back on it, well, it was a bit chaotic. My resolution for 2016? To sew strategically, that is, to use my sewing time to fill in the missing elements in my wardrobe rather than to follow the allure of whatever new and gorgeous fabric catches my eye! Hmmm. We’ll see how it goes…

To that end, my first post of our fresh and shiny new year is a tee top with an overlay, a project that’s a stash buster that fills a wardrobe hole. Many of my much-loved long sleeved tops are showing signs of wear, so it’s time to replace them.  And, honestly, one can never have too many tops to wear with jeans and boots, right?

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As I considered what to make, I found this top to be especially appealing. I love the front overlay and the options that offer the opportunity to use contrasting fabrics.The pattern is McCall’s 7247. It’s a stash buster because the bodice of view C uses only a yard and the sleeves use 3/4 of a yard. Yay! I can use up those small remnants I’ve been saving (hoarding?).

Pattern Modifications:I adjusted for my narrow shoulders, but otherwise, I sewed my usual size.

  • I used a contrast color for the sleeves.
  • I used ribbing for the neck band in a third contrasting color.
  • I added three contrasting buttons to the overlay front.
  • I added a contrasting sleeve band of three inches to the bottom of the sleeve to give it more of a finished look.
  • I used a contrast fabric for the back.

Fabric: I used a moderate-stretch sweater knit that I purchased when I was traveling some time ago in Pennsylvania. Sad to say that the fabric store has since gone out of business. For the sleeves, I used a solid black rayon knit with lots of stretch.

The pattern went together easily and quickly, a plus for those of us who love an occasional project that can be cut and sewn in a day. To me, the success of this project seemed largely dependent on the fabric, and I was glad I chose a medium weight knit that had a nice drape. If the knit was heavier, it may not have worked as well.

I’ve worn this top several times and the good news is that the overlay stays in place nicely. I worried that I’d spend my day adjusting the front so that it would hang nicely, but I wasn’t tempted to do that even once. I plan on making this top again in the Spring with short sleeves and the squared off front.

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As we begin a New Year, it’s always a time to reflect on our aspirations. In terms of sewing goals, well, I’m usually the type who prefers to create when inspiration strikes. But at the beginning of the year, I always find myself envying those who create with a plan in mind, so I offer these goals.

This year, I want to push myself a little more. I want to make another coat or two, and I’d LOVE to find a pants pattern that can become a ‘tried and true’ (Ideas, anyone?). I’d like to create a fun dress for a special occasion. I hope to learn a bit about pattern design too and maybe even try my hand at creating one for fun.

But most of all, I hope to visit more often with all of you. I enjoy so much, the friendships I’ve made over the last year. As you look forward to the year ahead, will you be planning your projects, or sewing as inspiration strikes?

Here’s to a great 2016! Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by.