A Top That Could Go to a Party

Last week, I had the pleasure of singing at a holiday event in the beautifully decorated Pittock mansion here in Portland. It put me in a holiday mood, so much so, one of my requirements of any sewing project this month is, ‘can it go to a party?’ I can happily answer ‘yes’ for this make. This top meets all of the requirements.

First, we have statement sleeves, always a conversation starter, if nothing else!

IMG_5617 2Second – – we have a stretchy knit! One can eat and drink as the mood strikes, without a second thought!

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Third, the top can be dressed up and worn with black pants or a lacy skirt.

I love this new pattern; McCall’s 7660.

It has lots of versions, but I chose the statement sleeve version for both makes. And, as luck would have it, the sleeves were the trickest part of this make. There is alot of fabric in the balloon on these sleeves. It must be gathered together at the bottom, then sewn into the cuff. So much fabric in the balloon and a very small cuff…need I say more? I had to unpick one of the sleeves to get it right (not fun when you’re working with knit).  I love the final result though. This task would be less challenging with a lighter weight knit, but I wanted a heavy, cozy knit, so it’s my own fault…

The top is designed to be loosefitting so the fit is easy.  It’s a pullover top too,  so a very stretchy knit is required to get that raised collar over your head.  Both of my fabrics are from Fabric Depot. The fit of this pattern was really spot on for me. I cut the smallest size and it fit perfectly, no adjustments in the shoulders or neck.

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IMG_5151I love both tops, and the fit and design of this pattern.  I think the striped version is probably my favorite, because I love the color and texture of the knit, but I do like the bigger bell on the white version…I think it looks dressier. Opinions welcome!

The Holiday season is off to a roaring start here, and I’m glad to have a couple of cute, comfy tops to wear to informal gatherings of friends. Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

 

 

Remnant Busting Tops Inspired by Anthro

Peplum tops are still in style! I swear it’s true. Just when I thought they were ‘out’, Anthropologie added a category under ‘tops’ called ‘peplums and swing tops’. That’s where I found this inspiring photo.4112368730007_041_b2

What caught my eye was the fact that the bodice fabric did not match the peplum. In fact, it’s not even in the same color family. So easy, and cute! That photo inspired me to dig through my remnant stash.

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This one has a sweatshirt fleece bodice and a cotton jersey sleeve with a rayon jersey peplum. As luck would have it, the black dye used in those two mismatched jerseys was a close match. I used some random black ribbing in my stash for the neck. I managed to squeeze the bodice out of a little over a half yard.

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This off-white version is a ponte knit bodice with a ribbed knit skirt, cuffs and neck. I made it specifically to go under this cardigan sweater (posted here) which matches the boots I bought in Spain this summer. IMG_3682

The pattern is one I’ve made before, Vogue 9056. It’s a pretty quick make ( a couple of hours if you’re comfortable with sewing tops).  I modified it as follows – –

  • Added 4″ in length to the bodice (it’s still pretty cropped),
  • Added a 3″wide neck band at the neck.
  • Added 4 ” ribbed cuffs on the off white version.
  • Raised the neck opening by 2 inches (it was just too wide on me.) IMG_3835

It’s hard to see in all the photos, but an interesting thing happened when I stretched the ribbing to attach the skirt to the off-white ponte knit bodice. It had an interesting effect on the ribbing that makes the stripes look sort of….artsy?  It was an accident but I like how it looks, although I do think I prefer the black version.

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Remnants are something that most sewers have a philosophy about. I have rules about mine. If I have a piece that is 1/2 yard or more when I finish a project, and I really love it, I’ll keep it for one year. If it’s still around at that point, it goes to the donation bin.  I have alot of remnants right now though, so not sure if my rule is working (LOL!!). I’m curious how others manage their remnants – toss or keep?

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

A Ruffled Top Done 3 Ways

Sometimes when you first meet a pattern, you can see so many possibilities. That’s the way it was with me and this simple pattern. I made one view, then couldn’t resist immediately trying another and….well, another. Three versions of one pattern…overkill maybe, but why fight it?

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When you have alot of children, you aren’t supposed to pick favorites, but I refuse to believe that rule applies to sewn garments too. The above version is my favorite, and as usual, it’s all about the fabric. Linen knit might be the finest fabric to wear on this planet. It’s like wearing pajamas every day, and easy to sew with too. The seams need to be overlocked to prevent unraveling, but otherwise it’s a dream with a perfect drape for this top.

When I pulled that linen from my stash, I happened on this white linen gauze that I’ve been saving for too long, waiting for the perfect project…very lightweight, and well, flounce-appropriate. So, as the song says, one thing leads to another.IMG_2120

Of course, my timing wasn’t so great on this summer-perfect make. As I’m typing this post, rain is pounding the deck outside. For once, I’m glad to see it  as we have high hopes the rain will put out the fire that is destroying our spectacular Columbia River Gorge. (Fingers crossed!!) I do expect we’ll have a few more days of warm weather though because I need to take this linen version out for a test run.

Then, there was this lonely piece of rayon that I’d dithered about for months….

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Voila, a simple version was born, no flounce at the yoke, only on the sleeves. Three fun  and very wearable versions….Now, that’s what I call a great pattern!

I probably don’t need to tell you that this is an easy pattern since there are three versions in one blog post, LOL.  Simplicity 8454 may be easy, but it does have nice details, so it’s destined to be made a few more times before it’s time is done.

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I’m always looking for tops with sleeve variations that can take it from one season to the next and this pattern meets the need. It’s meant to be made from a woven fabric, but I just sized down to make it from my linen knit. The design element that attracted me to it was the yoke and flounce combo, but I like the simple version too, without the flounce at the yoke, and can imagine variations with lace at the yoke and sleeves. The flounce is very simply finished, and if you had a fabric that didn’t unravel, you could actually just skip the finish, and leave the edges raw…so easy!

I don’t think you’ve seen the last of this pattern on my blog. It’s just too fun to make! Have you ever made three versions of  a pattern one right after another? Do you love it or does it bore you? It’s a great way to get alot of sewing done because you have immediate feedback regarding fit on one version to try out on the next.

I find it so fascinating to see how just a change of fabric can make a pattern look so different! A slight change in drape and texture, and voila, a new look is born.

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

Wardrobe Part 2: Safari and Long Cardi

Hi All! I’m back with part 2 of my Sudoku Wardrobe adventure for Pattern Review’s Contest. These makes are two of my ‘accessories’, a linen safari jacket and a long knit cardigan. I think the fact that I interpreted the accessory category as a chance to add jackets or toppers to my wardrobe is a big clue that I live in Oregon! Honestly, one doesn’t venture out of the house, even in summer, without a wrap of some sort in hand. You just never know when the weather is going to shift and catch you by surprise.

This safari jacket was one of my favorite makes of this contest.

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Why? Because it’s detailed with double rows of topstitching everywhere!

Of course, I used my trusty #57 edge stitch presser foot to help guide me as I did on my denim dress last year. There’s something so satisfying about seeing those stitches lined up in perfect rows!

I’ve wanted to make a jacket like this for a while with a belt and pockets and buttons. I imagined a version with buttons on the upper pockets, but when I tried them on my jacket, well, it just was too much for me. So I left them off. McCalls 7365 is a loose-fitting, unlined vest and jacket with a self lined yoke, two piece sleeves, french seams and lots of pockets with tucks. It also has a cool back pleat, and a tie belt. There are lots of pieces of course, which makes this long project but it’s so satisfying and well worth the time. I love the two piece sleeves and the pleated pockets. One note though: the fit of the jacket is loose. Adjusting it would be a bit tricky if you usually adjust fit at the side seams because there are none. There’s a side panel instead.

The pattern instructions were great, the fit was good, and nothing was too tricky or confusing, definitely, a new favorite! The linen was from my stash, (YAY) purchased so long ago, I forgot where!  For the contest, the Sudoku grid forced me to pair this jacket with a skirt, but I’ll likely wear it more often with jeans and shorts. I want another version out of twill
 My other topper in the accessory category was a long knit cardigan.IMG_4826
I am such a fan of this shape. Earlier this year, I made this pattern and loved my wool knit version so much , I had to add a Spring version to my wardrobe.IMG_3967
It’s made from a denim colored cotton knit that I bought at Fabric Depot last summer. The fabric has just the right amount of stretch to make it wearable, but it’s not so stretch that it loses its shape. McCalls 7476 is one of my new favorites, and I have fabric for another version in linen knit. I cut this version a bit larger than my last because I wanted to take advantage of the light flow-y nature of this fabric. It floats a bit as I walk, which will make it a perfect summer layer.
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I also made an Obagi belt from leather, and used that as one of my accessories too.

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This belt is basically just two pieces of leather sewn together with leather ties. I crafted the tassels by cutting strips of leather and sewing them to the ends :). Not sure I love how they turned out, but I do use this belt all the time!

That’s it for my accessories; The Moto jacket from last post, the Safari jacket, the cardigan and the belt…four pieces I’m glad to have in my wardrobe! Next post will be the tops I made.

I wandered around my sewing room a bit yesterday and noticed how airy and light I feel with a smaller stash :). That’s one of the best parts about entering a contest/challenge for me. I’m motivated to complete projects I’ve dreamed about for a long time, and I burn through my stash! I have to admit though. It is hard to part with some fabric, like the brown linen piece I used for the Safari jacket. I love the color and know I will never find a piece like that again. What? Do I have regrets? Not really, but I do get sentimental about fabric!  Am I the only one?

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

DIY Date Night Dress

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After I made a swing dress for the Day and Night Dress Challenge, I knew there would be another in my future. What is it that makes a swing dress so fun to wear?!? For me, it’s the way the skirt moves. It’s not quite ‘twirl-worthy’, but fun just the same.

This dress is another attempt to fill in a hole in my wardrobe. The ‘dress up’ category is woefully lacking. So, now I have another ‘date night’ outfit and I used up some of my stash too! This fabric is so yummy; a black ponte knit that’s embellished with a  silvery rose lace pattern. I knew it was destined to be used in a garment that had simple lines so that the interesting fabric could take center stage.

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I do like to combine laces and patterns and textures from time to time just for the fun of it, so I enjoyed mixing and matching laces here. I used a very airy lace from my stash for the yoke and sleeves, then a silver embroaidered lace for one of the contrasting yoke bands. I also added a yoke band of solid velvet to add some contrast to all of the patterns and textures in the lace.

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This dress is a mash-up of a couple of different patterns, Vogue 8817 for the yoke and contrasting yoke bands, and Vogue 8952 (view B) for the swingy bodice. The reason I used two patterns is that I know that the bodice of Vogue 8817 has too much volume for my frame, so I used the bodice of 8952 to draft my a-line bodice.

I did a bit of the high-low thing on the hem to give it a bit more swing. I also lined the bodice with stretch satin so that it won’t cling to my legs. For even more contrast, I made very narrow velvet cuffs for the sleeves.

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I love the fun, flirty shape of this dress. It isn’t too serious, if you know what I mean. Lots of party dresses are a bit too fussy for me, but this one is simple enough to let me be free to party!

I’ll say one thing though. That yellow cat better not think he can lay on it. Those claws would absolutely destroy it.

img_2214Okay, I might be finished with swing dresses for a bit now :). My only concern with this dress is that I might have overdone it here a bit with the lace mash-up. I’ll probably wear it all the time anyway!

I’ve been eyeing my closet, and evaluating. I realize now that some of my makes from a couple of years ago aren’t getting worn enough to justify the space they take in my closet. Some of the fabrics are lovely though, so I might give refashioning a try, although I’ve very little experience doing this. Have you refashioned older makes to keep that fabric in your life? How have you gone about that?

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

 

A Cardigan for Early Spring:McCalls 6802

img_1938Yes, I know the title of this post is optimistic. Sure, there are several months of cold weather between me and Spring, but I can dream, can’t I?

This knit fabric is so soft, I knew at first sight I had to make a sweater-y wrap from it. This new cardigan is a perfect seasonal transition piece: it’s as cozy as a coat, but as soft and light as a sweater. I’ve had this knit in my stash for several years (!!). You know how it goes..sometimes you love a fabric so much, you can’t bear to cut into it.I’m glad I finally settled on this cardigan though, becuase I’ve worn it constantly since I finished it.img_1876I am a big fan of any garment that has a hood. They’re so useful when battling the elements of course, but also just to keep the chill off my neck. So the fact that McCall’s 6802 had one was a big selling point for me.

m6802_aThis loose-fitting cardigan could not be easier to make! It isn’t lined and the sleeves are cut as part of the bodice. So easy! I was able to finish it in about 3 hours. I did make one modification though. The pattern is designed to have an unlined hood with the wrong side showing. Although I like both sides of this fabric, I wanted the inside of the hood to provide contrast, so I cut a duplicate  of the hood and the front band pieces to use as a facing.

img_1968Not only does the lining provide contrast, but the facing makes the hood  warmer too. The sizing on this pattern is generous.  I cut a size 8 (the smallest size), but it was still too big, so I had to take in the seams until it fit. Also, the pattern doesn’t call for a front closure and, although I love the oversized look of it when worn open, I’ll likely wear it with a belt to keep it from becoming a parachute in the wind. If that gets tiresome, I’ll probably just add a couple of buttons down the front.

img_1900Because the cardigan is unlined, I finished the seams with my serger.A note about the sleeves: I like rolling them up a bit when I wear them, and I forgot to take photos of them unrolled. So, just so you know, they are loose and about three-quarter length, cut ‘kimono’ style. img_1947My style is pretty casual these days, so I think this cardigan will be a great addition to my wardrobe. I like the weight of this knit. It’s not too heavy, but warm, so it should be great to wear outside when the weather improves just a little. This fabric is a cat hair magnet though! Hmmm, a certain feline is going to have to stay away from me when I wear it. The colors are great though – -Not only do they blend with Dustin’s fur, but the earthy tones have just a pop of warmth that makes me feel cozy when I wear them.

Even though there’s alot of cold weather ahead, I’m feeling the urge to sew with Spring fabrics…crisp cottons and linens, maybe even some silk. But do I have anything planned? Not so much. I seem to be enjoying ‘sewing on a whim’ these days, and working through my stash. When do you transition into Spring sewing? Is now the time, or am I too early?

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

 

 

 

A Tale of Two Toaster Sweaters

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Hi all – – My photos were taken indoors again because of this!img_1525-2Yes, that’s about a foot of snow. In Oregon, this much snow is an event! No one tries to drive and many of my neighbors just shut themselves in. Some folks freak out, and long for it all to end. But, I love this weather. It’s perfect for skiing around the neighborhood, baking cookies and sewing Toaster Sweaters.img_1768-2The Sew House Seven Toaster Sweater pattern comes with two versions,

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Version #1 screamed color blocking to me. The sleeve bands, collar and lower band are great details that make using contrasting fabrics so simple.

img_1652 I cut the sleeves from leftover ponte from my day dress (Day and Night Dress challenge) as well as the collar and hem band. It’s my plan this year to use leftover fabric right away.The bodice was cut from a remnant I picked up at Fabric Depot, a cozy thick cotton knit.

Version #1 went together nicely. The cropped  length is just about right for me, but I’m only 5’4″. If you’re taller, you might want to add a few inches in the length. I made one modification to the pattern. I shortened the collar by 1. I’m really glad I did because otherwise, that collar would have hit me at the chin which would have annoyed me to no end.

img_1704It’s a pretty easy sew and the instructions are great. My ponte knit had very little stretch though, and the pattern calls for 20% stretch. Next time I make it (and there will be a next time…), I’ll use a knit with a bit more give. That way the bottom band won’t be quite so snug. I love this cozy look, and can imagine making it again out of a furry knit, like the one on the pattern envelope.

Version #2 went together in less than two hours…(almost) instant gratification! The sweater knit came from the Mill End Store.

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I like the boxy shape of this top, and the easy look of the high low hem. It’s pretty fitted through the shoulders and in the sleeves, so it doesn’t overwhelm my small frame like some boxy shapes do. I like how it widens gradually to the hem, giving it a swingy shape. It has a funnel neck, mitered side vents and a hi-low hem.

img_1792This is an easy sweater to sew. Honestly, you can do this while you’re binge watching Game of Thrones. The funnel neck is actually cut as part of the bodice, so there’s nothing too tricky there. One warning though; This top is the perfect length for me (a shrimp) so if you’re worried about the top being too cropped, you might want to add a few inches. Next time, I might make it a bit longer so that I can wear it over leggings.

I think this pattern is destined for tried and true status. I plan on making more – a longer version of #2 and a cozier knit for version #1. This is my first Sew House Seven pattern, and I must say, I was impressed. Have you tried their patterns before? Any recommendations?

In spite of the snow, my winter sewing is starting to taper off now, making room for Spring projects. How about you?

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!