A New Top to Add Some Drama

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Me-Made May is winding down, but not without a few more revelations that are worth mentioning. I used to wear solids and very few prints – – Not so anymore! My wardrobe is dominated by prints and textures. There isn’t anything bad about this, but I miss the drama that solids bring to the table. A well-cut top or dress with drape and style looks sophisticated and polished when there isn’t the distraction of a print.

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Ha – – Look at the volume in these sleeves! You have to admit – this top is dramatic, much more than I realized when I chose  McCall’s 7658.

There are many views and options with this pattern (Yay!), but I chose the long sleeve version because it’s still (always) on the chilly side in Oregon.  Because of the overlay, recommended fabrics for this pattern include chiffon, Georgette and sheers. I didn’t have any of those in my stash, but I did have a lightweight sheer knit so I gave that a try.

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This style looked complicated to me, but the construction steps weren’t hard at all. The long sleeve version has the sleeves built right into the overlay, so makes them a breeze to sew. The trickiest part of the make was the sleeve cuff. You’re supposed to insert elastic to give the cuff a gathered look. I chose to skip that part, since you’d never see those details on my fabric anyway, so I just inserted the cuff without the elastic. The finish of the overlay is simple – – you just turn under the edge and stitch.

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Voila! A half hour to cut this pattern, one and half hours to sew! Not a bad way to go…:)

The bat wing sleeves really give this overlay some style and drama. It’s pretty obvious though, that the wrong fabric choice would make this style look, well, pretty hideous, LOL. So, if you’re inclined to give this one a try, stick with lightweight fabrics with lots of movement and drape.

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I’m happy to say, there were no adjustments necessary on this pattern for me! I know some people aren’t fond of  sleeves with volume, but I think I love this look….it’s sort of cape-like and fun. I just might have to make it again for summer with the pleated overlay in a lightweight chiffon…but wait. I hate sewing with chiffon. Hmmm, what else would work? Any thoughts?

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

Blackwood Cardigan – the Star of my ‘Me Made May’

 

For me, Me-Made May is all about figuring out what works in my daily wardrobe and and what doesn’t. As a rule, I tend to wear me-made separates that I mix and match. The questions I ask myself are – – which me-made pieces do I reach for because they make me feel great, and which ones drive me crazy as I wear them? I take notes about my daily choices for myself, only keeping photos of outfits that are revealing in some way to me. The pieces that don’t work are thrown into the revision or donate pile. I don’t post my outfits on social media – – yes, I love seeing other people’s posts but can’t bear thirty-one days of photographs of myself, LOL!!

I’ve had a couple of revelations this month – the big one, which is the subject of this post is my absolute daily dependence on cardigans! Seriously, I wear them almost every day Unpredictable May weather is the culprit – – in Oregon it can be cold enough for a coat in the morning, but shirt-sleeve weather in the afternoon. Enter the Blackwood cardigan!

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Last year, my favorite cardigan pattern was  McCall’s 7476 made here and here. This year, my obvious favorite is the blackwood cardigan by Helen’s Closet patterns.

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I’m probably the last blogger to be smitten with this pattern, but what can I say? Better late than never…

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Why do I love it? For one thing, the design is perfect for throwing over tops or dresses. Helen suggests that it be used as a layering piece and this blue version I made works with everything in my closet in part, because it’s blue, but also because the length and the cut are superb over everything!

I usually gravitate toward knits that have cotton as the primary ingredient, but I really love how this rayon knit feel against my skin. And it slides over sleeves so nicely!

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Design notes: The Blackwood rests perfectly on the shoulders which makes it great for wearing with a variety of tops and dresses. The bottom band is wide and it shapes the hemline of the sweater in a very flattering way. I love the longer length (perfect for me at 5”4”) and the wide cuff on the sleeve. The pocket size is perfection too!!

Construction notes;

  • For this pattern – the stretch and drape of the knit is everything. You want to make sure your knit has enough stretch on the cross grain for this pattern. Because it isn’t designed to close in the front, if you don’t have enough stretch, this sweater will likely gape open and probably won’t look or feel that great.
  • The front band needs to be stretched slightly to fit.
  • I stabilized the top of the pockets with a strip of fusible interfacing to keep them from sagging too much.

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I’m wearing it here with the Simplicity top I posted a few weeks ago (here).

I give this cardigan a big thumbs up. It’s a quick, fun sew that does the heavy lifting in my wardrobe, and as a result of my Me-Made-May discovery, I will likely make this pattern again and again! My other cardigan patterns will remain favorites, but it’s nice to expand my cardigan universe.  Thanks so much to those of you who recommended this pattern when I asked for ideas in a post last month!

Are you as hooked on cardigans as I am? Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

 

An Anthro Lace Dress Knock-Off

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Which one is from Anthropologie? Ha, just kidding. As you all know, I have a thing for lace and when I saw the above dress from Anthropologie, I wanted it in the worst way. The lace is gorgeous, but the style is a bit edgy, a must have if you ask me! But the price tag stopped me in my tracks. $728.00. Okay, it might be worth it with all of those gorgeous layers of lace, carefully sewn in place. But, hey, we can do that; am I right? Enter the Pattern Review Bargainista contest, just the motivation I needed to get it done! IMG_8867

I used Simplicity 1699 as my basic template for this dress.

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It’s a simple design, a peplum top or dress with raglan sleeves and a simple rounded neck line. Since, I’d made it before I knew it would fit me, freeing me to focus on the design elements I wanted instead.

First, even though the Anthropologie dress is one piece I saw it more as a skirt and top. So I split the dress at the bodice and added a waistband to make it a skirt.

Then, I started in on the bodice/top. I cut the lining pattern pieces first then cut corresponding pieces from the lace (contrasting pieces of white lace, purchased at Joanns.) and sewed them together. I wanted a v-neck, so I cut that too.

IMG_7326 Once I had the basic bodice constructed, I took little bits of lace and layered them over the first layers of lace, focussing on placing eye popping elements on the princess seams and neckline. Then, I finished the seams, added a zipper and hemmed the bodice so that it would be a top that could be tucked in or worn out.

IMG_1973By the time all that detail work was completed, I was ready for simple tasks. I was glad the process for the skirt was much easier. I just cut it from the lace, added a waistband, and lined it – phew!

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The process of layering the lace on the bodice/top took some time, but it was so satisfying. Deciding where the bits of lace should go was fun, and hand stitching them into place was a calming process. I often forget just how therapeutic hand stitching is!

The good news? My new dress/ensemble is close enough to the original that my credit card is no longer in danger of being used.

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  • Here’s how the costs broke down using the Pattern Review contest formula – – Column dress designed by Byron Lars for Anthropologie – – $728.00
  • 2.5 Yard Fabric for lining (top and skirt) – Joanns – $12.99 per yard on sale for $9.00 x 2.5= $22.50
  • white lace fabric; (3) 1/2 yard pieces for contrast on bodice front and back (1.5 yds total)  $6.99 X 1.5 = $10.48
  • Black Lace for skirt overlay 1.5 yards x 12.99 yard on sale for 9.00 = 13.5
  • 18” zipper for top – $2.99
  • Bits of lace for top embellishment purchased at a thrift store – $5.00
  • 7” zipper for skirt (invisible) $3.99
  • Total: 58.46
  • $728.00 – $58.46 = 669.54
  • $669.54 / $728.00 = .91969 =91.9 % savings

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There’s nothing like a Pattern Review Contest to get the creative juices flowing. Be sure to follow the link  to check out all of the entries – there are some amazing creations and some incredible Bargainista’s out there!

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

Three Versions – Simplicity Waist-Tie Top

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Packing for a trip always points out the flaws in your wardrobe, don’t you think? A planned visit to the already muggy east coast made me realize – I have very few easy-to- wear, easy-to-pack tops that are humidity friendly.

Enter Simplicity 8601 – – An ‘easy-to-sew’ top with lots of variations.

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Version 1; Rayon

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This lovely batik rayon was purchased last Spring (Millendstore). I used some of it for this dress last spring. This rayon has a lovely, soft drape, so even though I was short a quarter of a yard, I worked hard to squeeze this 3/4 sleeve top from it. I was really lucky it worked because the drape of rayon is so perfect for this style!

One thing to note about this pattern – – It has a seam down the front, a necessity because of the tie at the waist. Stripes, plaids etc need to be positioned strategically. Even though this rayon has a polka dot print, it’s a batik with a noticeable pattern to it so I had to do some strategic matching around that front seam.

I loved this top right away! Encouraged by the immediate gratification this pattern offered, I pressed on and sewed a few more…..

Version two: Medium weight cotton

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This is View A with bell sleeves, the perfect shape for layering under sweaters.  I was a bit concerned that the stiffness of this Cotton and Steel print would be a bit much for the waist tie…but it worked! Not only is this medium weight cotton great  in humid weather, it supports the shape of these sleeves.

Version 3; Cotton Double GauzeIMG_1337

When the weather is a bit sticky, double gauze always makes me feel great, so I just had to use a cotton gauze remnant in my stash for version B. I am so glad I did! There’s a reason people use double gauze for baby blankets – it’s so soft.  Wearing this top is like wearing pajamas, which makes me wonder…..Why don’t I make everything out of double gauze?

I’m pleased with all three versions so Simplicity 8601 so it gets a big thumbs up from me. I have plans to make View D as well (flutter sleeves) and who knows what else I might whip up.  From start to finish each version of this top took only two hours to sew – – a perfect saturday or evening project. The instructions are great and the fabric options that work with this pattern are endless. I have some linen I will use for a flutter sleeve version. I will likely make a flannel version in the fall.

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I was pleased to see several similar RTW tops at Anthropologie last week with a waist tie, so give this look a try. What version do you like best? Have you ever made a top from double gauze?

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!