McCall’s 7430- A sweater dress

 

img_9604As you all know, I am a big fan of sweater knits, so much so I tend to stash/horde every one I find. Yes, I have quite a few squirreled away in my sewing nook, so (fair warning here) this is only the beginning of my annual sweater knit obsession.

Here is why I love them so, so much.  Most sweater knits are easy to sew (even without a fancy serger, just use a zigzag stitch) and wonderful to wear. I’m talking about those moderate stretch wonders with just the right amount of lycra with a dense, cozy weave. This houndstooth sweater knit is a perfect example of why I’m obsessed. It’s the perfect mix of stretch and cozy…destined to become a fall/winter wardrobe staple.

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McCall’s 7430 is the perfect sweater dress.

I love the side panels, the neckline variations, and the front and back yoke. I also love the sleeve caps. You could really have fun with contrast and color blocking here. There’s so much you can do with this pattern to make it your own.

The only modifications I made to the dress were to add front patch pockets, each 6 inches by five inches (gotta keep those pinkies warm!). I added contrast sleeve bands to finish the cuffs as well, but this is so optional. You could easily hem them with your machine as the pattern suggests.

One note about fit. The side panels eliminate the usual side seams so it’s a bit harder to use them to modify fit. Yes, I’m a big fan of taking a dress in at the sides, and I hate making muslins on a knit pattern.  It’s not impossible to adjust this pattern that way. It’s just a bit more time consuming, and if you adjust those panels too much, you run the risk of changing the look of your lovely dress. So, I’m glad the sizing is pretty true on this pattern because I didn’t need to make any adjustments at all. Phew!

img_9581I guess my obsession with sweater knits isn’t likely to end in the near future :). I’ll probably make another dress from this pattern, out of a solid knit with a contrast, since it’s so comfy and versatile. I think it’s one of those patterns you can dress up or down, maybe even make as a tunic length to wear over leggings. Love these inspiring versions from Vince Camuto…

 

Hmmmm, so mamy options, so little time to sew! Curious if you all are as obsessed with sweater knits as I am? Pretty sure there’s a color blocked version of this dress in my very near future!

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

 

Tie top and pleather skirt

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Hi All! This time, patience paid off! I was determined to take photos outside one more time before the leaves dropped, and finally, after surviving a week of rain, we’re enjoying a clear day. The temperature is mild too, and there’s very little wind. Moderate weather is perfect for pleather I think, because it isn’t the coziest fabric to wear. I paired my new pleather skirt with a tie top of azure and gold to celebrate the season.

Even though I wouldn’t call it cozy, I do love my new skirt, and, I’m pleased to say, this pleather project was a huge improvement over my last attempt.

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This pattern is Simplicity 1322, a mock wrap skirt in three lengths. I added a toggle closure on the mock wrap for fun (easy, you just machine stitch it in place). The skirt is a fun, easy sew. The challenge again was working with the stubborn fabric. Here are a few tricks I learned along the way.

  1. Use wonder tape liberally instead of pins when attaching things or holding seams in place.  Tape is great because you don’t have to use alot of pins.
  2. When I had to press the pleather, I used steam in my iron. It seemed to make pleather pliable quickly. I’m not sure if this would work with all pleather (there seems to be quite a variety of textures and thicknesses out there) so test before you steam. Who wants a melt down?
  3. Avoid hand sewing. I used wonder tape to hold the hem in place then machine stitched it. I tried to hand sew…it was a nightmare!  I just couldn’t get the needle through without injuring myself (Who knew sewing could be so dangerous, LOL?).

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The tie top pattern is a new one for me, Simplicity 8216. I have made other tie tops, but decided try this pattern because of the yoke and gathers that give it a softer look. I found this pattern on sale at Joann’s and I love it. simplicity-tops-vests-pattern-8216-envelope-front

There are several neck variations so you can modify it to get the look you want. It went together so easily, and the fit was spot on, first try! No adjustments at the shoulders for me.  I used a Cotton and Steel rayon (Fabric Depot), which is a lovely, silky fabric with an easy drape, so important for a pattern with gathers at the yoke and a tie.

I love this neckline! It’s fun all by itself, and it holds up well when paired with a cardigan or vest too. Here it is with the draped vest I made last winter.

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With the changing seasons, I’m contemplating a slight change in my color palate. I love the gold/mustard color in the cherries in this blouse, don’t you? I want more of that yummy color in my wardrobe. It almost matches the changing leaves in the tree behind me!

Have you ever tried to handsew with leather or pleather or suede? Have you ever used steam when pressing it? Pleather and Leather must be similar to sew with? I’m amazed at the pants and leggings some of you have made from the stuff. Would love to hear how you managed that :).

I hope your fall sewing is going well, and that you’re enjoying a bit of fall color where you are. Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

 

 

 

A plaid and leather ‘duster’ for fall

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Hi all! Wearing a coat in the fall is a no-brainer, but finding the perfect one can be a bit tricky. There are days when it’s cool but not cold and wool is too much, but a summer jacket isn’t enough. That’s when a duster comes in handy!

‘Duster’ is an odd word for a topper, and a friend questioned me about why I used it, so, I looked it up. The original dusters were full-length, light-colored canvas coats worn by horsemen to protect their clothing from trail dust. Well, since I haven’t been on a horse in years, who knows why duster came to be such a catch-all term for me. I use it pretty liberally for any knee length topper that is more than a blazer, but not quite heavy enough to be called a coat.

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My duster is  made from a plaid cotton blend, that is lined in silk and trimmed with pleather at the collar and cuffs. I’ve had the fabric in my stash for awhile. It languished there, forgotten and unloved because I didn’t quite know what to do with it. I love plaid, but sometimes, it’s a bit too stiff looking for my taste. But a recent sewing room ‘re-org’ brought it to my attention again, and woudn’t you know it? I’d stored it in box with a remnant of textured ‘pleather’ (fake leather). Inspiration!

The pattern I used for my duster is Butterick 6382, a semifitted lined jacket with neckline, pocket, sleeve and length variations. I chose version D, a knee length coat with pockets and a collar.

 

I cut the pattern as designed with a few modifications:

  1. The coat’s front bodices meet at the middle but don’t close. I extended the front bodice pieces by an inch and a half so that they would overlap then added buttonholes and buttons.
  2. Because my fabric is a bit tame I livened it up with some textured ‘pleather’ for contrast. The pocket is trimmed with a 1′ band.img_8608
  3. I added 3″ pleather cuffs to the sleeeves.
  4. I cut the collar from ‘pleather’ and skipped the interfacing.

The pattern was pretty easy to sew, and the instructions were great. Of course, the plaid matching took a bit of effort, but that’s all on me for choosing plaid in the first place! The duster is a-line, and the shaping is accomplished by long bodice darts in the front and back. The most difficult part of the project was the additon of the trim. Since I chose pleather, this was a bit challenging.

What I learned: Pleather does not like to bend. Well, I thought that was okay because I could shape it by pressing it. Ha!  My first attempt at low heat resulted in a MELT DOWN, a mess of damaged plastic that almost ruined my iron. Yes, I did use a pressing cloth, but you have to be really, really careful. I eventually discovered that it could be coaxed into shape by using my fingers and a corner press for the collar. (This required a bit of patience). Also, my pleather remembered every pin prick, so I used fusible seam tape to secure pockets before stitching them in place.

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In case you were wondering, this is not a leaf-raking coat, even though someone I live with probably wishes it was. Ha! Frankly, I’m not sure about this make. Yes, I’m glad I did it because it pushed me to learn more about sewing with ‘pleather’ which was fun. I guess I’m not wild about this look or these colors on me. I do like how the duster feels when you wear it though, probably because of the silk lining. Maybe I should add two more pockets at chest level to give the duster a bit more style?  Or maybe it’s the shape? Belted, or unbelted?

Opinions welcome!

I’d love to know if any of you have experienced a pleather melt down as I did? And any ideas on how you can get the stuff to bend and mold? Yes, it’s a challenging fabric, but I’m dying to use it again, maybe for a skirt or jacket. Tips and advice is welcome!

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

 

McCalls 7333- An Easy Jacket for Raking Leaves

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Hi All…..It’s leaf-raking time here in Oregon, a task that requires a specialized wardrobe, don’t you think? Well, here they are, piling up on the deck.

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Yet, I do not have a rake in my hand. But, if I do decide to grab one, I’ll be dressed for it! As you can see, the rainy season is upon us here in Oregon, making outside photos a challenge. I just managed to sneak one in before the rain and wind started. Good thing I chose a jacket pattern with a hood. It will come in handy in the weeks ahead.

My inspiration for this jacket was this poncho from Anthropology. I tried it on and LOVED the fit, the fleece, the tie front and the big sleeves, but didn’t love the color or the fact that it didn’t have a hood.

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So, I grabbed a heavy knit in my stash and made McCalls 7333. That’s the beauty of sewing isn’t it, the ability to get what you want? This pattern is a fun sew, a loose-fitting, unlined jacket that has a front that extends to the hood and drop shoulders, which I really love. The waist is enhanced with a tie that you can cinch as tight as you want. This style is perfect for those of us who are ‘waist-challenged’ because we can fake what we  don’t have!  You can make it out of a variety of fabrics, including lace.

I chose a stable knit from my stash that’s pinstriped. It’s more like fleece but you could probably make this pattern out of cotton or wool too. Here’s a shot of the cinched waist from the back.

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For contrast, I used a gray quilted cotton knit for the hood lining and front band.Because my knit was double faced, the jacket is VERY warm, so I didn’t need to line it. The pattern is very straightforward with great instructions. The tie waist is a cord that is encased in fabric, which sounds harder than it is. To construct the casing, you merely sew a long piece of fabric to the outside. The challenge of this pattern for me, was managing the thick fabric. It was a bit tricky gettting the sleeves in smoothly because the fabric wanted to bunch, but after a few tries, I managed. I serged the seams for a nice finish.

 

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Oh, and the jacket has pockets too, great for long walks on crisp days. The navy pinstripe is better on me than the bright orange-y red of the Anthro. jacket. And I’m calling my jacket an on-trend make (LOL) since pinstripes are all the rage this Fall. So nice to finish this warm, little jacket before the monsoons start.

The Pattern Review Surprise Sewing Bee is on right now, lots of fun makes to see there, and Froctober is happening on the Monthly Stitch. There’s so much going on in our sewing community in the Fall. There’s no shortage of inspiration to be found! I didn’t participate in the Sewing Bee this year, but I do try to keep up with the Monthly Stitch challenges, although I have missed a few lately. Still, I love seeing everyone’s posts over there. If you haven’t, you should really take a peek. Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!