Tencel Love

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Since completing this pair of gray Jalie Jeans, I’ve been in a frenzy, sewing fun summer-y tops to go with them, hence – – this shirt!  I can tell it’s going to be a favorite because it’s made from Tencel, better known as lyocell, a fabric I grew to love when I bought a Tencel shirt at Anthropologie a few years ago. Not only is Tencel comfortable, it’s a sustainable fabric, regenerated from wood cellulose. It feels similar in hand to rayon and bamboo, both regenerated fabrics. I think I love this fabric because it has weight, yet it feels comfortable, even when it’s hot and humid. That’s because Tencel boasts the ability to absorb perspiration and quickly release it into the atmosphere, so it’s resistant to developing odors.

It sounds like the perfect ‘travel’ fabric to me! That’s why I chose it for my latest make; a button up shirt that will travel with me to Spain and Portugal this summer. It will be hot there, so I know this top will be in my suitcase!

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My pattern for this shirt is McCalls’ 7387, a pattern I had to have because of the cool back pleat.

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It’s those sort of little details that take a make from ho-hum to fabulous. This pleat is so cool. It’s a double pleat In other words you make one pleat then, fold another one over the top of it, creating this criss-cross look.

McCall’s 7387 took me about four hours to make from cut-out to hem. It probably would have taken less time if I’d resisted the urge to binge watch, “How to Get Away with Murder. “(I confess… I had to concentrate to follow the plot. The bonus for perservering though is the eye candy of Viola Davis’ wardrobe… she looks ‘chic’ but invincible. ) If you aren’t binge-watching, you could probably make this shirt in three hours.IMG_5804

Pattern Modifications: I left the flap off the front fly that covers the buttons because I wanted them to show. I visualized white buttons down the front of this shirt when I decided on this fabric, so I had to drop the flap. I added buttons to the pocket flaps too.

I also changed out the collar and replaced it with a collar band. I did this because I plan to wear this in warm weather and sometimes collars make me feel hot. To do this, I drafted a collar band by copying one from a tried and true button up shirt pattern.

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I’m smiling because I’m wearing blue Tencel!  This fabric was in the category of ‘special’, so I was a nervous when I decided to try a new pattern. I was so lucky that the pattern fit without modifications….phew!

My sewing energy is focussed on travel clothes right now. I’m trying to use the skills I gained from the Pattern Review Sudoku challenge to help me coordinate my travel wardrobe so that I can pack efficiently. Nevertheless, my efforts are a bit scattered. What will my neutral colors be? Do I pack skirts, shorts and tops, or do I just take a couple of dresses and call it good? What I do know for certain is that this shirt is going with me!

I’ve never traveled with Tencel, and one questions looms in my mind. Will it wrinkle? Have you sewn with Tencel? Thumbs up or down?

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!

 

Sew Boho: Bell Sleeves and a Cardi-Vest

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I’m calling this look ‘boho’, even though some might call it ‘romantic.’ The top has bell sleeves, my favorite look this Spring. I love them because they signal warm weather and outdoor concerts and summer food festivals, you know?

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Here are a couple of ready-to-wear examples for inspiration; a top by Elizabeth and James, and a dress by Alexis.  Love the lace combined with the bell sleeves.

Maybe I’ll make my next version of this top from lace. The pattern I used is McCalls 7285, a semi-fitted, pullover top with a back neck opening, button/thread loop, and narrow hem.

Although the pattern does include a lined version to be used with lace, I chose to make the unlined version (the neck is finished with a facing) and serged the seams. I was able to cut my usual size and found that the pattern fit well, with very little adjustment (just my usual narrow shoulder adjustment). The only issue I had was the length. Even though I am petite (5’3), the cropped length was so short on me, I could only take a narrow hem. If you’re taller, it might be much shorter on you. The sleeves are a dream to sew, much easier than you might imagine. The bell shape is created by gathering a long wide piece of fabric that’s added to the bottom of the straight sleeve and the instructions on how to do that are really clear. The top doesn’t have a zipper, just an opening in the back, so it would be a good pattern for a beginner. I love the easy comfortable fit of this top and plan to make another soon. It’s a fast, easy sew, perfect to make in a weekend!

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Since Spring days around here are usually quite cool, I decided to make a long loose vest to go over the shirt.

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I’m really loving the ‘long vest’ look this year. It’s the perfect layer over a tee, a shirt, even a dress. The pattern I used for my vest is Burda 10/2014 #113, a long coat pattern that I made without sleeves. The fabric is a double-sided jersey knit from my stash. To finish the edges, I used a very tight serged stitch, but you could bind the edges too. On my version, I went with the serged finish because the binding changed the way the fabric draped, and this pattern definitely needs ‘drape’. It’s so easy to sew, you can make it in a couple of hours. It’s basically a circle with some holes in it… can’t get easier than that. But watch out. When the wind catches the vest, it becomes a sail and you fly away!

I found this fun pattern after seeing Helen’s version at Gray All Day. You should check it out…love her cool, breezy look. Her lightweight version would be perfect for summer (or anytime if you’re lucky enough to live in California). Whatever fabric you choose for your vest, I’d suggest that you keep it pretty light with a nice drape so that it hangs nicely. Also, if you want to add bell sleeves to another shirt, Rhonda’s Creative Life has a great post on how to do that. Check it out!

Now, to round out my boho look, I need something else…maybe a different pair of pants? Or would you try a skirt with that top/vest? Hmmm, suggestions welcome! Oh, yeah, and I need new shoes!!!

Happy Spring sewing and thanks for stopping by!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Checks, please!

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Is there any print that’s more all-American than gingham? It’s been associated with farms and corn fields ever since Dorothy wore her gingham pinafore in the Wizard of Oz.

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But gingham’s image and appeal doesn’t stop there. It’s even been favored by iconic fashion figures from the past. Brigitte Bardot had a wedding dress made from gingham.

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Jane Fonda wore gingham in Cat Ballou.

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Even Audrey Hepburn wore gingham a time or two.

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So, when we wear gingham these days, we’re in good company!

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This Spring, gingham staged a  comeback, making it into the collections of famous designers. Altuzarra had a simple gingham shirt dress with classic lines here.

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Bottega Veneta had a gauzy interpretation with this stunning dress.

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And now, gingham has made it into my wardrobe. This easy top features black and white checks of varying sizes.

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The pattern: Simplicity 1377 is an easy to sew top with drop shoulders and a simple crew neck.

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Modifications: I made view C but modified the split v- neck to be a true V-neck, by omaking the V wider. In order to have the big checks on the back show to the front at the shoulder, I added an inch to the back shoulder seam, and subtracted an inch from the front shoulder seam. For interest, I added twill tape to the shoulder seams, the sleeves and the neckline.

Fabric: the two gingham checks are cotton shirting, purchased at Fabric Depot. I was inspired to use gingham by the wonderful garments being posted on the Monthly Stitch for the Check it Out Challenge. If you haven’t visited that site, take a look. It’s such a great community of seamstresses.

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This top was easy and fun to sew, and since I chose a pattern with a one piece bodice, I didn’t have to struggle to match the plaids! It’s summer after all, my favorite time to sew things that are easy and fast. What about you? Does the sun give you the energy to sew more complex projects? Or do you opt for simple patterns, like me?

Happy sewing! Thanks for stopping by…