First Make of the New Year: Sew Over It Cocoon Coat

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If you read my post on my sewing ‘Misses’ for 2018, you know that I’ve sworn off wearing or buying fabric with beige and brown tones.  Yet, I’m here today with a beige/tan coat, LOL! Well, I had to ignore my new rule, because I had this lovely wool in my stash, and couldn’t pass up the chance to use it!

I found this wool at the Mill End Store here in Portland. Honestly, that store is amazing. They have the best assortment of coat quality wools I have ever seen. If you plan to visit our city (PR Weekend 2019?!), you must make time to shop there. It’s a large store, so plan a good hour to explore.

The pattern: If a coat has a ‘cocoon’ shape, I’m a big fan (here’s the Sapporo coat I made last summer). I love this version from Lisa Comfort of Sew Over It.

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Unfortunately, it isn’t available as a standard PDF pattern, but is offered as part of an issue of Lisa’s magazine, so you have to download the magazine to get the instructions and pattern. It’s easy to do ( the same as downloading a pattern), but it’s a bit unusual.

 

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Pressing is such a huge part of constructing a coat. This wool is really thick, so it was really hard to press, but the texture and yummy feel of the wool made it well worth the effort.  Thankfully, I have a gravity feed steam iron, so the task was made a bit easier. I can’t believe I struggled with the decision to buy one. It’s been such a great addition to my sewing room. This project would have been impossible without it.  If you’re considering purchasing one, I must recommend my Silver Star, but there are lots of other options on Amazon.0ff7fb1a-3683-4b25-9f9f-3ba2da8947dd_1.5f12e5f980943d7780f23b881a3d0b0c

 

The construction of the coat was pretty straightforward. The pattern instructions are adequate, but not overly detailed, but in terms of a good first pattern for a coat, this would be a great place to start.  The cocoon style makes fitting pretty easy. I think I’d call the style oversized (even though it doesn’t really look like that in the pattern photos.) I cut the smallest size and I had plenty of room to spare.

The trickiest part for me, was laying this coat out on my patterned fabric. I did pretty well with the matching of the pattern, but when the coat is closed (It’s meant to be worn open, but honestly in Oregon, that is so impractical), the front diamond looks a little bit off. This is because I overlapped the front to get some closure. I like the overlap and the snaps so much, I’ll live with the pattern being a little off to gain some comfort on blustery days.

All in all, I give a big thumbs up to this pattern! I’m really in love with the shape, and can imagine it in a solid wool, or maybe even in linen.

 

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Is there anything more satisfying than sewing a coat? In our climate, a coat gets alot of use, so I know this one will be reached for again and again. It took about 8 hours to make, but it was time well spent. And yes, I said ‘tans and brown tones’ were a no-no for me, but I feel pretty good in this coat…go figure. Maybe it’s because the tone has a bit of rust in it? Or maybe it’s because there’s a bit of contrast in the pattern that makes it work?

My first make of the new year!! I love this time of year as it’s a chance for a fresh start and a chance to plan the future. It’s so fun to see everyone’s posts on Instagram for the ‘make nine’ challenge. I’m working on my plans and pattern wish list for the year, and hope to share it soon.

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

My #Sewing Top Five Misses 2018

Each year, I enjoy a review of my #Sewing Top Five Misses almost as much as my best top five. I always learn so much from my mistakes. So without further ado, here they are!top-5-of-2018.

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  1. Vogue top – Okay, when I made this,  I felt pretty clever because I constructed this top from odds and ends in my fabric stash. Ha! It’s such a mashup of colors and textures, I feel oddly distracted when I wear it. What was I thinking? New Motto – – keep it simple. To the donation pile!

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2. Aernite pants. I really loved these when I made them, but the color of the linen turned out to be problematic. It didn’t really work with anything in my wardrobe and it made me feel blah too. Lesson learned….I will avoid peachy beiges and tans in the future.

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3. The Darling Ranges dress by Megan Nielsen is a new favorite (I made three (3) versions!), but this version did not work for me. Again, the issue is the color of the stripes in the linen. It’s too peachy for me. Also, I think the dress is too long(?) so I feel rather frumpy in it. So many problems here. Ugh. The embroidered linen is so gorgeous though…too lovely to part with. I’m going try to modify the dress (shorten it to a top?) or reuse the fabric in some way.

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4. Simplicity Vintage top: What? you say. But this one is Blue! How can it be a miss?

This top is a clear miss because it’s so annoying to wear. I kid you not. Because it’s basically a wrap top with only a front and back panel, it depends on the tie to hold in the sides. That means when the tie loosens as you wear it, you enter the danger zone. If you don’t run off to a private place to re-tie, you will soon be showing all sorts of things best left covered.  Bummer as I made three of these. Thumbs down on this one….to the pile!

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5. Long Kimono top; I should love this one…the fabric, the kimono style…but I’ve never worn it. I cannot seem to find an appropriate venue/occasion. There’s something so awkward about it…maybe the length? A head scratcher for sure because I do love, LOVE this fabric so much and the style gets a big thumbs up from me.  Maybe I’ll shorten it next summer or recut it as something else. Hmmmm. I’ve got some thinking to do on this one.

Lessons learned – –

  1. Fabric in tan or beige-y tones is a no-no for me. (sigh).
  2. Avoid patterns where the design includes an element that might potentially be awkward or where you might be naked if it comes ‘undone’, LOL!
  3. Even though I love the look of a long cardigan or kimono, long isn’t always that easy to wear.
  4. Fabric that isn’t in my color palate is best left behind.
  5. Simple fabric, simple designs…they always work!

Well, that pretty much sums up the good and the not so good of 2018. I have no complaints. All in all, it was a very good year. That being said, I’d like 2019 to look a bit different. I’m hoping for some new creative adventures to sweeten my sewing experience and am thinking a lot about how to make that happen.

A fresh year, a fresh start. How was your 2018?

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

 

 

The Perfect Thanksgiving Dress

You all knew I’d have to make another one of these didn’t you?

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Why this dress is the perfect choice for Thursday’s festivities…

  • The fit is loose! It can easily accommodate heavy consumption of food and drink; I think I could expand to 1.5 times my current size and it would still fit.
  • It swings.. a bit of festive flirtiness!
  • The fabric is stretchy and cozy…
  • The red color is fit for a celebration!

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New Look 6525 was even easier to sew the second time. I won’t bore you with lots of construction details as I reviewed it only a few weeks ago here.  I will say this: the second version came together in record time: two hours including cutting! It’s so easy to fit and sew…really you should try it!

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Fabric: I’m convinced the key to success with this pattern is the fabric. The knit I used here is a rayon sweater knit with a wide ribbed texture. I picked it up on sale at Joann’s a while back because this shade of red is my favorite; it has just a touch of black in it, which gives it the depth I love. It has two-way stretch and, although it’s slightly heavier than the gray knit I used in my previous version (here), it works. I wouldn’t go any heavier though (probably wouldn’t do a ponte). This dress needs to move a bit.

 

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FIT: I didn’t have to make any adjustments in the shoulders on this dress and I cut the smallest size as it is really loose-fitting. The collar is perfect on this dress if you ask me…not too tight, not too loose. I’m fussy about collars, and I find this so comfortable to wear.

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This dress will be perfect for Thanksgiving and other casual holiday gatherings this winter. I’m so glad I gave into the temptation to make this pattern again! I’m already imagining a spring version too:).

I hope you have a fabulous Thanksgiving with family and friends. Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

 

 

 

A DIY Poncho You Can Sew in an Afternoon

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Fall weather can be so unpredictable in Oregon; warm one minute; cold the next. That’s why each Fall, I find myself drawn to add another poncho to my wardrobe. (previous makes here and here).  With very few seams and lots of fabric options, it’s the ideal quick and satisfying sewing project for a Saturday afternoon. It’s such a fun, easy project I can imagine making several of these to give as Christmas gifts.

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I’ve been collecting images of my favorite Fall Ponchos on Pinterest and was inspired by the many versions with button closures. When I saw this layered knit at the Mill End store, I knew it would be perfect for a cozy sweater poncho.

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This knit is extraordinary, a lucky find! It looks like lace but has the coziness of a knit, and, as an added bonus, the selvedge makes a cool-looking border.

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To make this poncho…

  • I used 1 5/8 yard of 58” wide fabric. I used the fabulous selvedges as a design detail. Probably any knit would work for this make. Come to think of it, you could probably use a woven too.
  • The button band is1 1/2 inches wide, and to make it, I just folded the long side of the fabric under. Before topstitching it in place,  I interfaced the band with a lightweight fusible interfacing. Because my knit has moderate stretch, I felt it would need the stability of the interfacing to support the buttons and button holes.
  • Before placing the buttons and buttonholes, I tried the poncho on to determine how big of a neck opening I wanted, then added the button holes accordingly, spacing them 2 1/2 inches apart. For me, the opening was about 20 inches from the edge.
  • I finished the poncho’s edges with a narrow machine stitched hem.

I love this cozy poncho. If it’s chilly, I’ll keep the neck opening small by buttoning it all the way up. If it isn’t, I leave a few unbuttoned to give the neck opening a casual look. I’ve also worn it with the buttons down the front, like a cardigan. It would make a great Christmas gift, don’t you think?

IMG_8737l managed to squeeze in a quick outdoor photo before it started to rain. As you can see the fall colors are extraordinary right now. If only these days would last a bit longer!

Up next: I have a cardigan cut out from a nice sweater knit, and am shopping for a gabardine for a trench. I’ll likely sew up a plaid skirt too in the next month. What’s on your sewing list?

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

Three Versions: Darling Ranges Dress

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I’m back from my wonderful trip to France (more about that later) and am trying to ease back into the real world. So far, between jet lag and the growing awareness that daily life is not *quite* as stimulating as vacation life, it’s been a bit of a struggle. Lethargy and lack of motivation has been the mood. However, I do have a plan. This weekend I’m going to take a quick trip to a fabric store to peruse the new Fall patterns and see where that takes me.

In the meantime, I want to share with you a pattern I’m quite in love with!

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Megan Nielsen’s Darling Ranges dress pattern has been around for a while so it’s easy to find inspiring makes on social media to cheer you on. It’s pretty versatile, with two options for the dress (with or without gathered waist) and a top. Before I left for my trip,  I made three of the dresses in quick succession. I hoped to blog it before I left, but alas…that didn’t happen! I love them all, but have a special place in my heart for the two linen versions, because, well, LINEN!

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My first version is made from a striped linen/rayon blend that I found at Joann’s early this Spring. I didn’t have quite enough to make the sleeves, so I had to modify, but I’m happy with the result. It’s easy to wear as is, or, with a tee under it, it will work well for Fall. The in seam pockets are great…very convenient without a lot of bulk. This dress went to France with me, and it did its job well. The tie is meant to go in the back, but I can’t stand the feeling of a tie when I lean back, so I extended the length so that it can be worn in front.

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This green version is made from plaid cotton shirting (ModernDomestic) so it required a bit of pattern matching. I eliminated the waist tie on this version to keep the fit loose. The sleeves are lengthened so that they’re easy to roll or push up. The pockets are self drafted and are cut on the bias.

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Version three is made from a lovely embroidered striped linen I found at Mill End store here in Portland. Here’s a close up of the fabric.

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The only changes I made to this version was to hem it about a inch longer. I also made the waist tie an inch wider so that it would look more substantial when I tied it in the front.

Fit and challenges: 

  • Shoulders – – Usually I have to do a narrow shoulder adjustment – – not here! So if you have wide shoulders, the fit on this dress may need some adjusting.
  • Fabric required – – Yes, this takes a lot of fabric! I tried to skimp a bit because I’m short, and ended up with a sleeveless version when I didn’t plan on one. Yes, the dress turned out fine, but (as usual), I should have respected the stated fabric requirements to avoid that situation.
  • Button placement – – The way they were positioned on the pattern would have left gaps where I didn’t want them, so I had to do some significant repositioning.

 

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All three versions are really wearable. My favorite is probably the last one, the embroidered linen, although I’m fond of the green version too. My husband has a strong dislike to that one – – his reason? “Some dresses aren’t meant to be made in green!” Hmmm…interesting and, well, thought-provoking. I hope he’s wrong, because I predict that version will be in heavy rotation this Fall. Will I make this dress again, or is three enough? Not sure…I’m tempted to make the waist less version, although I wonder if it will be too boxy. Thoughts? Please share.

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!!

 

Kobe Top in Embroidered Linen

I know many of you have started your Fall sewing, but I’m still enjoying working through my stash of linen and cotton. It’s just hard for me to switch gears when the weather is still so warm.

Linen is my absolute favorite fabric to wear in the spring and summer, and if it’s soft and a teeny bit worn, I’m in heaven! So, I love to pick up bits of linen (tablecloths, napkins etc) at garage sales, antique stores, anywhere I can find them. I was thrilled at a recent collectible market to find a large embroidered table-cloth that showed no visible damage or stains.

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I knew immediately that I wanted to sew a Kobe top by Papercut patterns, a pattern I’ve been interested in making for a while.

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I was attracted to the Kobe because of the interesting back.  I love the way the pleat falls across the back neck opening.

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When I bought the pattern, I dreamed of making it from a sheer fabric but then, I saw this linen.  I knew it would be perfect. Actually, now that I’ve made the Kobe, I can imagine a whole host of fabric options for it! Sheer silk, chiffon, rayon challis, sheer lace, anything with flow and movement should work well.

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The challenge of course was pattern placement. I wanted the embroidered details to take center stage. Because the Kobe is simple with only a few main pattern pieces, this wasn’t as hard as I expected.  I centered the largest part of the embroidered pattern on the front center of the bodice and did the same with the back. The trickiest part was figuring out how to do the hem, as I wanted to utilize the lovely embroidered edge. In the end, I did a muslin version to make sure I understood where the length of the front and back would fall on me. I’m really glad I did this because the Kobe is likely designed for someone who is quite a bit taller than me (5’4”). So I did a mid bodice adjustment of an inch. This really brought it up to a reasonable length.   

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On the sleeves, I used the same strategy – -I centered the pattern, and used the scalloped edges as a hem. This did make this a fast project – – no hemming needed!

I love my new summer top. Yes, it wrinkles, but hey, linen is worth it. And I’m happy to say, I don’t feel like I’m wearing a old table-cloth when I wear this, LOL. Have you ever made anything from an old table-cloth?

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

                   

McCall’s 7780; A cold shoulder top for Fall

IMG_6450It took me awhile to fall in love with this new pattern by McCall’s. The cold shoulder style put me off at first. I thought I was over that look, but this summer, I’ve discovered that the cold shoulder tops and dresses I made last year (here,  and here and here) are the ones I reach for time and again. The style is perfect when hot days turn to cooler evenings. IMG_6486There are design details I really like about this pattern – – the sleeves cut into the bodice, the flounce detailing on the bodice, the off-the-shoulder look, the wide shoulder straps. I’m not particularly found of the front and back bodice seam, although I didn’t think much about that until I started to cut my fabric. Because my fabric had a horizontal print, I had some pattern matching in the front which I hadn’t planned for. Thankfully, I did have enough fabric!

McCall’s 7780 has so many fun options. You can make the top with straps that tie, you can add a front flounce or a sleeve flounce, or make the top without any flounces at all. I love the solid white on the pattern envelope, but since I have more than my fair share of white tops, I chose to use a rayon print instead (fabricdepot.com). I made version C with the straps of view B without the ties. I’m not wild about ties at the shoulders as they tend to tickle and annoy me.

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Construction challenges:

  • As I mentioned, the front and back center seams required pattern matching…I barely pulled this off.
  • The sleeves are cut into the bodice so their shape is created by folds in the fabric. If your fabric is too stiff, the sleeve folds might look too distinct and the openings for the cut shoulder could lack the soft drape they need to look right.  A soft linen, or rayon or silk would be perfect. Also, I have narrow shoulders and the shoulders fit me perfectly. If you have broad shoulders, I’d do a tissue fit or muslin to make sure they won’t be too tight.

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Besides those challenges, I found the construction of this top, easy and straightforward. I love the style and am glad I finally fell in love with it. It’s the perfect date-night top, or for a lunch out with a friend. The length of the sleeves makes it comfortable on a cool evening too – – great to wear as we transition into Fall!

 

I usually start my Fall sewing mid way through August, but our weather has been so warm, I’m still inspired to make warm weather clothes. Perhaps, I should be cutting into heavier fabrics, but it’s hard for me to sew something I can’t wear right away….not sure if I’m the only one? I love a bit of instant gratification, I guess. So, until the weather changes, I remain a linen/cotton/rayon obsessed seamstress! How about you?

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

A Travel Dress for France

IMG_4487Did I tell you all that I’m headed to France in September? I’m beyond excited. We’re headed to the Dordogne region followed by a visit to Paris which will definitely include some fabric shopping. I’ve started a packing list and this dress is versatile enough to earn a place in my suitcase.

There’s something about dressing in a bright colors that makes things feel…fun! Not sure if there’s a scientific reason for that, but this dress will be a favorite just because the fabric makes me feel light and happy! This knit from Art Gallery is 95% cotton, 5% spandex. I love the name of the print… Frutteria Bleu. I found it in a shop in Alexandria Virginia that I found on a recent trip to DC.. the Stitch Sew Shop. Their natural fabric collection is nicely curated. I wish I’d had room in my suitcase for more.

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This was an easy dress to make. I used the same method I used for my Day/Night Challenge cocktail dress (here). I took a favorite knit dress pattern, shortened it a bit, then added a skirt.

 

For the bodice, I used McCalls 6886, a TNT pattern that everyone loves because it never fails…it’s an easy sew, the fit is great and it’s always a dress you want to wear!! Since this fabric is so special I could not risk a failure.

This pattern is perfect to embellish, modify, lengthen, shorten…whatever. It’s one of those patterns that really transforms with your fabric choice.

I modified by adding a skirt. To do this, I cut version A of the dress, but shortened it by 8″. That still left the dress bodice quite long, a choice I made so that the skirt would feel more like a ruffle…less like a traditional drop waist dress. To make the skirt/ruffle, I cut a wide (20″) swath of fabric whose width was 1.5 times the circumference of the hem of the shortened dress. I simply gathered that long piece of fabric with a long stitch, then sewed it to the bodice of the dress.

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Because of the long bodice and deep ruffle, I wanted this dress to be long…midi length. In the summer,  I love how a long dress moves in the breeze. It makes me feel…light!

 

 

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

 

 

 

An Anthro Inspired Peplum Top X 4

PicMonkey Collage-7Yes, I’ve gone a little off the deep end over this pattern! What can I say? When I find a favorite pattern, I tend to go a little berzerk, imagining all of the variations…and then, before you know it, I have four versions in my closet! No, I did not sew all of these tops since my last post. They were sewn over the last couple of months, using fabric from my stash (YAY!).

And regarding the style — well, yes, this top has a peplum. I was pleased on a recent trip through Anthropologie to discover that peplum tops are still hanging on their racks.

 

Whew…so good to know, since I have four of them.!

I’m always amazed at how fabric choice changes the look of a pattern. So I really love doing posts where I show multiple versions. This top is Butterick 6486. I also used the angled peplum on McCall’s 7052 on a couple of versions (OOP, but you don’t really need it to pull off this style). B6486 pattern was really easy to sew – perfect for a beginner. The only modification I needed was to lengthen the bodice by a inch so that the peplum would be just above my waist.

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This top (version A) is really casual and easy to wear in large part because of the fabric. It’s rayon from Cotton and Steel. This fabric was released last year, a result of their collaboration with the  Rifle paper company. This is top notch fabric, my friends. It wears and sews like a dream. To make this version, I shortened the peplum by 2 inches. I’m not usually drawn to fabrics witl small prints, but I do love this one. The color palate is definitely in my wheelhouse.

This version is in cotton gauze (FabricDepot).

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I made this version for one reason…to wear it with the necklace I have on! It was designed by a local artist using crocheted linen and linen tassles and I needed a top that would allow it to be the center of attention. For this version I used the angled peplum from M7052. This double gauze has extraordinary drape and is comfortable even on a muggy day.

This version is a stiffer quilting cotton.

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It also has a assymetrical peplum, but because the cotton has more body, it looks like a different top!  The stiffer fabric gives the peplum more structure. This fabric has a coarser weave too, so the vibe of this top is casual.

Last but not least, a dressier version from a poly blend fabric with cut outs.

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Of course, I couldn’t resist trying a version out of something lacy! I had this fabric in my stash, purchased last summer, and only had a yard and a third, not enough for sleeves. To let the cutout design of this fabric shine, I lined the bodice with peach colored lining. This version is fun to wear with jeans/pants, but also with a skirt.

Phew – – My minor obsession with this pattern might be over now….we’ll see! Next up, I’ll be working on some pants and skirts to go with these. I’m heading to France in September so am thinking travel wardrobe as I sew right now.

In another sewing news..This week on Crafting a Rainbow, (great blog, check it out!!) Gillian drafted a great post calling for a blogging renaissance. Her thoughts really resonated with me, so I thought I’d share some of my own thoughts on the topic.  In spite of the way Instagram has grabbed the sewing world’s attention, I remain committed to this blog and to following lots of others (see the side bar for my favorites).  Instagram is a fun place to get a quick fix, but I’m constantly frustrated by the fact that there seems to be absolutely no way for me to control what shows up in my feed. I follow alot of people, yet I only see a very curated collection of posts based on some strange algorithm defined by the folks at Instagram. (Is anyone else frustrated by this?!?)  Since I like to control my personal feed,  and since I like the personal story behind the makes…(the details, the inspiration), I head to sewing blogs for that conversation. I do visit Instagram too, but only a couple of times a week. More just stresses me out. I’d love to know your thoughts….

I really appreciate you, and hope we can continue to share and chat for a long time to come.  Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

 

A off-the-shoulder look inspired by Theory

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As you all know, I love a good designer knock-off, and Theory is one of my favorite designer lines. Last fall, a friend of mine wore the Theory shirt (on the left) to a dinner at my house, and I was smitten. She wore the shirt a bit off the shoulder and I loved the way the the gathered neckline was created by a drawstring.

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To create my knock off version, I used Simplicity 8550 as a template.

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The best news about this pattern is that I found it for a $1.99 at Joann’s!!  I have so many sewing patterns, I can only justify an addition if it’s a bargain. Yes, Indie patterns are great options, but you can’t beat the price when the Big Four go on sale.

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The neckline of the Simplicity top is similar to the Theory shirt in design, but it’s a bit wider. Also, it doesn’t have a drawstring closure.PicMonkey Collage-6To add a drawstring at the neckline: First, I adjusted the neck opening to make it a bit smaller. To do this, I took a half an inch out of the front and back bodice pattern at the center front and center back. Because the cut of this shirt is so loose in the shoulders and bodice, that adjustment did nothing to the comfort or fit of the top. To make the channel for the drawstring (a simple black ribbon), I replaced the neck facing with a strip of bias tape, and inserted the ribbon through that. Pretty simple modification…

Other adjustments: I tapered the bodice a bit by adding two eyelash darts in the back from the shoulders to the waist. Even though the Theory shirt is collarless, I couldn’t resist adding some drama with a big collar.

I was tempted to use Chambray for the top for my knock off, but decided I have too much blue in my wardrobe. It’s time for a new color…red! This cotton is from Fabric Depot and it has just the right amount of body for the collar – yet isn’t too stiff for the drawstring/gathered neck.

 

 

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This top was definitely a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants project, and I feel lucky that it turned out so well:) I love the fact that, with a tug on the drawstring, I can adjust the neckline of this shirt as the mood strikes. The color is nice for a change too. This top won’t be a wardrobe orphan because it works so well with my favorite Ginger jeans and with my denim skirt too.

Well, I think this officially begins my summer sewing. Fingers crossed that I get to wear it soon! Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!