A Dress with a Few of my Favorite Things

 

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I’m smiling because this dress has three of my favorite things: linen, lace and silk. Yes, linen wrinkles, but I’m prepared to overlook that fact because it breathes like nothing else. If the weather is muggy, no worries!  When it comes to heat, this fabric is invincible.

IMG_3568To make this dress even more humidity resistant, it’s lined in silk, a splurge I never will regret. The textured linen is so special, it deserves a great lining. Not only that, but it was such a bargain! I found two yards on the remant/sample shelves at Mill End Store last summer. I bought it immediately, of course, but then I stalled. The fabric was so wonderful, I dithered about what to do with it. A dress? A top? Or, maybe a skirt? I perused pattern books, websites, flitting from one idea to another. How typical. If I love a fabric, I become paralyzed by its perfection! No idea or pattern is good enough for it. Finally, though, I settled on this idea. It’s a good thing because this linen dress is a dream to wear. The linen hangs perfectly, but feels like nothing.

IMG_3504 My dress was inspired by several RTW versions. Here are two fabulous dresses by Derek Lam and Caroline Herrara.

The pattern I used for my dress is McCalls’ 7285. I’ve made it before as a top, but decided I wanted to convert it to a dress.

To do so, I had to modify. The top pattern as drafted is a cropped style so if I extended it to dress length’as is’, it would be too tight in the hips. So, I took my hip measurement, and, as I extended the front and back bodice, I made the shape A-line, making sure the bodice was wide enough to accommodate my own width.

To add the lace embellishment on the bodice, I cut a length of lace the width of the front and back bodices just above the bust line. I stitched the lace in place on both the front and back bodice before setting the sleeves in. That way, when I did finally sew them in, the end of the lace was hidden in the sleeve seam. To add the lace to the bell of the sleeve, I sewed the lace on the bell before sewing the bell’s center back seam so that the end of the lace would be hidden in that seam as well. Also, textured linen has a tendency to fray (this is an understatement!). So, to keep my dress from unraveling into a pile of thread, I overlocked all the seams on the dress, and the silk lining as well.

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I love my summery dress, and I think the top pattern transitioned without too much of a struggle. However, I’m certain my method could be improved upon. I feel like I should have taken fabric drape into account as I extended the top to dress length, and that I’m lucky that it turned it as well as it did!  There must be more to it than just adding a few inches, a ‘method’ with a bit more of a rationale? Have you extended a top to a dress?  Did you just add a few inches, or did you ‘draft’ an extension?

I took my dress for a test drive today, and it was so comfortable. I’m glad I splurged on silk for the lining, because it makes it extra yummy to wear. So, if you wonder if silk is worth, my answer is ‘YES’! Go for it! You deserve it.

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by.

 

A lace top inspired by Dolce & Gabbana

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I used to think lace was reserved for prom dresses, frilly wedding dresses and other  hyper-girlie looks. But I think I’ve given that up. I can’t resist the combination of feminine lace with the edge of denim it seems. And if the lace is blue, I’m all in!

My inspiration for this top was this tunic length top/dress from Dolce and Gabbana.

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I fully intended to go the whole way with lace on the sleeves and the longer length of the top/dress, but as luck would have it, when I ordered this lace (Fabric.com), I thought I’d ordered two yards, but ended up with one. Not sure if I pushed the wrong button or if the order was messed up at their end, but when I tried to order another yard, the lace was already gone!

I grumbled about it for awhile, then found a great sheer silk to use for the sleeves and lining. It’s so perfectly wonderful to touch and wear, I decided the mistake was a good thing after all. It forced me to use a contrast silk sleeve which is more comfortable than lace by a long shot.

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The pattern is one I’ve used before McCall’s 7285.

I made view D, and used the silk for the sleeves.

Other modifications:

  • I raised the neckline by an inch.
  • I made 3/4 length sleeves with a rolled hem.
  • The hem is cut ‘high-low’. Because my lace didn’t have a scalloped edge, I merely finished the bottom with a rolled hem.

It’s an easy pattern that’s well designed, a good template for your own creativity. The only challenge here was lining up the lace so that it was perfectly centered.

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I’m wearing this top with my recently completed Jalie Jeans and love the look! It’s comfortable but sufficiently dressy. I wore it to a party just last week.

IMG_1547I only wish I’d bought more of that lace! Honestly, I have got to get in the habit of buying more not less!  I think this top might travel with me this summer. The good thing about this lace? It doesn’t wrinkle, nor does the silk. I’m guessing this top would look dressy if I wore the right jewelry and skinny black pants?

I hope you’re enjoying all of the sewing events in the blog world right now.  I love what’s going on over at the Monthly Stitch. The McCall’s blog has been great too, with a shirt dress sew along. And Pattern Review is hosting a skirt contest. There are so many ways to find inspiration, I feel a bit spoiled. Are you participating in any of these events?

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

McCalls 7314: Burberry knock-off

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As you all know, I’ve got a thing for Burberry’s classic designs, and the Spring 2016 collection was one of the best. Being peplum obsessed, I couldn’t help but fall in love with this cute shirt.

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Okay, as Burberry prices go, the tag on this one wasn’t totally ridiculous…only $350. Yes, it’s a lot, but I could probably justify a splurge like that if  (1.) I didn’t have a fabric stash worth a small fortune (2.) I didn’t have an expensive shoe thing that is almost as bad as my Burberry obsession and (3.) I could commit to never buying another RTW, or piece of fabric for the rest of the year (ha, we all know that’s not going to happen!)

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So, a knock off it is!

The fabric: A plaid cotton gauze from Mill End Store. (They take phone orders, BTW. Although there isn’t much of this fabric left I noticed.)

The pattern: McCall’s 7314, a shirt dress pattern with a gathered skirt, elastic waist and sleeve options.

Modifications: I shortened the skirt by twelve inches. I cut my usual size, but made a small adjustment for my narrow shoulders. Other than that, no adjustments. were necessary. The sleeves are shorter on me than they are in the photo, by the way. Be forewarned…if you have long arms, and want 3/4 sleeves, cut them a bit longer.

The skirt on this dress isn’t fitted at all. You add a bit of elastic to the back to make the dress taper at the waist. You can cut the elastic as you wish, so that it’s as fitted (or not) as you want. This makes this top/dress so comfortable!!!

Challenges: Plaid matching! OMG, a nightmare!  I did okay, but I’m not happy with the sleeves. IMG_1421

I wanted them to match perfectly, but they’re a little off. I’d like to blame this on the gauze-y texture of this cotton, rather than on me, but we all know the TRUTH. The cotton is amazing to wear, well worth the effort it took to keep it straight. I have a bit of fabric left over, and might try to recut the sleeves, since I notice this mistake (LOL, you all know how this is!!) I should’ve used more pins and weights to keep it still. The skirt was impossible to line up, a fact I obsessed about until I realized, the Burberry one didn’t look much better. Still, I obsessed. Not perfect, but that’s how it goes.

This shirt is so comfortable! And I love the wide plaid. The cost: This shirt cost me less than $20 to make, since the pattern was on sale at Joann’s, and the fabric was purchased during a 25% off sale at Mill End. Yes, you have to figure in your time, but still….this is a good deal, right? Of course, the Burberry fabric is to die for….if only…

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I’d love to have more wide plaids in my stash because I love the look, but can’t seem to find many in the fabric stores. If you have a source, let me know. Another question..should I recut those sleeves? Opinions welcome!

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

 

 

 

Sew the look: Denim and Lace

 

 

IMG_0950My summer travel wardrobe is starting to take shape. I’m determined to pack efficiently, but this will be tricky. The trip includes a Danube River cruise and some evenings will be dress-up events. Of course, jeans are my go-to wardrobe staple, but they’re probably not ‘cruise-appropriate’ (LOL), so I’m sewing some separates that will dress-up with the right shoes and jewelry.

These two pieces; a lacy top and Denim pencil skirt will mix and match with other pieces in my wardrobe. I think both can be dressed up or down, as the mood strikes. Lace and denim are both having a fashion moment, so I love the fact that these pieces are comfy, versatile and a perhaps a bit trendy too.

IMG_0938The top is another version of McCall’s 7285, a semi-fitted pullover top that’s so easy and fast.This pattern is so well-written and designed, it’s becoming a tried and true for me.

I love the bell-sleeves and the hi-lo hem. You can make this top in an afternoon, which makes it perfect for summer sewing. This time, I used a light weight rayon from Fabric Depot for the bodice and added some black lace to the sleeves. I finished the seams with my serger. The top is so comfortable to wear, I feel like I’m in my pajamas!! I’m hoping the lace gives it a bit of a ‘dressed-up’ vibe. What do you think?

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The skirt has a simple pencil style. It’s Butterick 5760, (OOP) a 2012 lifestyle wardrobe piece that has a waist band, a back zipper and slit.

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The pattern is so simple and basic,  you could embellish it easily with pockets. I wanted to do that but didn’t have quite enough fabric (I am my own worst enemy, it seems!) and when I went back to the fabric store for more, there was none to be had. Yes, I am short, but I must learn that a skirt takes at least a YARD AND A HALF, not a yard. The fabric is a denim cotton blend with some lycra (from Fabric Depot) which makes it comfortable enough for travel.

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This photo is kind of dark, but I just had to show you how lush and green things are right now in Portland Oregon. Yes, we have a lot of rain, but this is the end result…almost worth it?!?

Both the skirt and top are so easy! As the weather improves, I am all about fast and easy sewing. What do you think? Is my top dressy enough for a cruise? Not sure about the skirt…..?

Me-Made-May is in full swing and I love seeing everyone’s posts on Instagram. Although I haven’t been very good about posting photos, I’ve been trying to wear me-made every day, but have found it difficult because I don’t have my jeans finished. I’m hemming them this weekend, and hope to have them to share with you soon. The class was so inspiring, I suspect I’ll become a jeans making machine this summer.

Happy Spring 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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sew the look: A denim shirtdress

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It’s Spring, the perfect time for shirt dresses. There’s nothing easier to wear when the weather’s warm than a simple dress, and if it’s made from denim…well, that’s even better!! Here are some of the shirt dresses that inspired me this Spring.

First up…Burberry’s version. Perfect in dark denim, with princess seams and topstitching. burberry-brit-dark-indigo-pippi-denim-shirtdress-blue-product-0-002385459-normal

Made well’s version is waistless and the denim looks so soft and comfy.

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This one from Chanel has tucks at the waist. The skirt is so cool…it’s an overlay, or is it a drop waist, or…well..I’m not sure? Love the puffy sleeves and the printed denim. I would die for this dress.

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Here’s mine…Straight cut, princess seams. I need the Chanel shoes with it, don’t you think?IMG_8737For my dress, I used McCall’s 6124, a classic shirt pattern that I used to make Alexa’s corduroy dress here. I love this pattern because it has princess seams, a classic collar with a band, and two-piece sleeves with cuffs; all the timeless design elements I want in a shirt dress.  Honestly though, there are other cool patterns out there too. For my next shirt dress, I’ll try a flared version like Simplicity 8014, Or McCalls 6696. All of those are in my queue, waiting for the perfect fabric to reveal itself.

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My fabric is 5 oz denim from Joann’s (Is it just me, or has that store upped their game lately with more natural fibers and on-trend fabrics?). This fabric has enough body to support the dresses’s structural elements like the pockets, collar and cuffs, but it has a soft feel too, and just the tiniest bit of lycra….which makes this close-fitting dress pretty comfortable to wear.

The details...

  • I added (2) 6″inch self drafted pockets with flaps to the front. I gave them a bit of a pointy edge this time, just for fun! I interfaced the flaps and added functional buttons too (no I will not be stashing money or car keys or my cell in those pockets, but nice to know I could if I wanted to :)).
  • I double top-stitched the dress using topstitching thread. Here’s my latest top-stitching process. To get the distance I wanted between the two rows, I lined up my trusty #57 presser foot (patchwork seam foot) with the seam for the first row. For the second row, I move the needle three clicks to the left of the first row to position it for the second row.I used topstitching thread in gold, and a stitch length of 3.  Love that #57 presser foot (pictured here) I could not have done all of this topstitching without it!

Question though…I used regular thread in the bobbin as my machine groaned when I tried topstitching thread there. Not sure if other’s have that problem?

  • I used bronze jeans buttons that you punch into the fabric. (Fun!!!)
  • I used french seams throughout to keep the insides looking crisp.
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Besides being comfortable, the 5 oz. denim has an added benefit. It didn’t wrinkle ever after I wore it all day!

IMG_8742Yes, it’s Spring, but it’s still cold and rainy outside, so these photos were taken indoors (sigh), but my furry friend quite likes the routine now.

This dress took a bit of time (top-stitching is like that, isn’t it?) but I think it’s a dress I’ll wear a lot, especially since I made a topper to go with it just last week. Hmmm…the word capsule keeps coming into my mind….

Sometime this Spring, I would love to make a drop-waist shirt dress like the Chanel I showed above, but how? Does anyone have pattern suggestions for that?

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

 

McCall’s 6708: An animal print cardigan

 

 

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Yes, it’s a jungle out there! A bit of a cliche’ perhaps, but what better way is there to describe what’s happening in the sewing blog world these days? Everywhere, fabulous makes are being crafted from jungle worthy fabrics as part of #Jungle January, a month long walk on the wild side.

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This photo is from “Pretty Grievances” and it captures the mood of the month. In my opinion, the timing for Jungle January could not be better, since it can be a bit dull around here. It’s so easy to stay stuck in a routine when it’s grimly gray outside. How nice to be inspired to do something adventuresome in the new year. What better way to shake off the glooms!

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The fabric for my leopard cardigan was purchased a couple of years ago at Fabric Depot. It’s a stable cotton knit that I bought without knowing what I’d make from it. (Yes, this is a scary habit of mine that has resulted in a large stash that is about to take over the world.) As the fabric languished in my stash for years, I expected it was a purchase whose time had run out because, surely, animal prints would soon go out of style. Ha! I was so, so wrong. Now, in 2016, they are making a splashy return on the runways of Marc Jacobs, Givenchy, and Dolce and Gabbana.

So inspiring! But to me, what’s even more inspiring are these classic fashion icons.

No one wore a leopard print hat quite as well as Audrey!

When I saw these classic styles, I decided my leopard print needed to be fashioned into something with a bit of a vintage look. Enter the cardigan. My pattern is McCalls 6708. It’s Out Of Print, but you could use Butterick 6062 to get the same look.   I made the shorter version, view D, so it would look like one of those boxy vintage cardigans.

The fabric I used for the bodice is a stable knit from my stash. The neck, pocket and sleeve bands are from a remnant of sweater knit. At first, I was a bit disappointed in the sweater knit trim, as it became so ‘furry’ as I worked with it. The floor under my sewing machine was covered with little fuzzy bits. But then I realized just how appropriate that was for Jungle January. My fabric was shedding! Do you think the floor of the Jungle is just covered with fur?

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This pattern is great because you can embellish with as many details as you would like. I added one set of pockets, trimming them with buttons and sweater knit, but you could add more. The project was easy to sew but a bit time consuming (lots of trim to put on :)). The trickiest part was the button holes on the front band. Even though I interfaced it, the fabric stretched a bit more than I’d hoped. I think a stiffer interfacing would have helped.

Under the cardigan ( just to make the Jungle theme perfectly clear), I’m wearing a leopard print tee I made awhile back.

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It’s one of my favorite tees, I have to admit. The fabric is so soft and yummy, and the leopard print is so dark, I imagine it’s a neutral! This means I’m allowed to wear it with everything, right?

I hope you’re enjoying January, a chance to return to routine after the hectic holidays.  To revitalize my sewing mojo and ready myself for a great 2016, I’m reorganizing my stash based on fabric content, but I’m not convinced my system is perfect. I also would like a way to keep track of my fabric inventory in a document that I could take with me when I look for patterns. Would love to know how you organize your stash!

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

 

A lacy designer-inspired top

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Well, it’s time to deck the halls and ourselves too! It’s December, a month so cold and gray, we’d probably all go crazy if we didn’t have a few parties to attend.Today, the party I’m thinking about is here, in the blogging world, Designin’ December, a sewing initiative created by Linda of ‘Nice Dress, Thanks I made it’. The idea is to find an inspiring frock from a Designer then create your own version.

My lacy top was inspired by a Alberta Ferretti design that I first noticed in a Vogue magazine article.

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When I saw the lace detailing, it was instant love. I had to have that look in my closet. After studying the photo a bit, I realized the elements of the basic sweater were simple. It was really the lace embellishment that made it unique.  So, I found some red and black herringbone sweater knit in my stash and decided to embellish it with black lace, a combination that would work well for holiday dressing.

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The pattern I used is McCalls 6614, a simple, close fitting pullover top with princess seams and a narrow hem, but any basic knit top pattern would do as well. Of course, I wanted to use this pattern because I’m obsessed with princess seams, but they aren’t critical to the design. I opted to color block the side panels and the neck band for contrast.

The biggest challenge? Finding the right lace – – it had to be wide enough to be the focal point of the sweater. Needless to say, I became obsessed. After driving all over town in the rain, I finally found the perfect lace at Fabric Depot. To add the embellishment to the top, I simply marked the bodice pieces and the sleeve pieces with tailor’s chalk, then basted the lace to the fabric at my markings. Then, I finished assembling the bodice, adding the side panels and inserting the raglan sleeves. The raw ends of the lace were hidden in the side and sleeve seams.

This is an easy pattern but the placement of the lace was challenging, and it was hard to keep the fabric under it smooth as I based it on. The process was a bit time consuming, but I like the end result. This top will be easy to dress up or down, and it’s cozy too, a plus at this time of year.

After studying Alberta Ferretti’s designs, I’ve become a fan.

The fabrics are rich looking (brocades and velvets, among them) and her color combinations are inspiring. If only we could find anything close to those brocades in the stores….but I digress :).

I can’t wait to see everyone’s creations during Designin’ December. The fashion runways are full of inspiration, especially at this time of year, so who knows? There may be another designer inspired ‘make’ from me before this month is done.

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

McCall’s 7243 – A holiday look that shimmers

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There’s nothing like a little glitter and glamour to deliver a festive mood when you need one! Holiday parties are just around the corner…a needed diversion from the cold and gray days of December, and they provide a great opportunity to dress up. Ready to wear offers a host of options of course, but most all of them are sleeveless. Hello? ‘Baby, it’s cold out there!’

This is another reason I’m glad I love to sew. With a bit of glitzy fabric and a favorite sewing pattern, we aren’t limited to those goose-bumpy options, are we? When I needed a dressy long sleeve top to conquer a wintery holiday event, my fabric stash came to the rescue.

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I chose McCall’s 7243 for this shimmering top.  It’s a close-fitting pullover top/dress with an interesting collar and a deep v-neck. There’s something glamorous about a v-neck, don’t you think? Very vintage Hollywood!

The reason I chose this particular pattern is that it had an unusual neckline for a knit top, a v-neck with a wide wrapped collar that gave it a bit of drama.

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I wondered if that would make this top a sewing nightmare, but the only difficulty I encountered was in the attachment of the collar and the mock wrap of the bodice. The diagrams were pretty limited. I had to study them and re-read the instructions several times to get it right (no, I was not watching Game of Thrones). The key for me was paying extra attention to the right and wrong sides of the fabric as marked on the diagrams as well as keeping the tissue pattern pieces close at hand for reference.

The fabric I used for this top is a glittery, furry moderate stretch knit that I found at Mill End (By the way, choosing a moderate stretch is the key to the fit of this top I think. Also,if your fabric has too much stretch, the collar might be limp). Although it’s hard to see the sparkle and color in the photos, it’s a deep aubergine, one of my favorite colors this fall.

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The collar is great and it adds a bit of interest to the back too. I especially like the way the collar fans out over the shoulders, giving the top a bit of drama. If you want to make the sleeveless version, the collar provides a cap to the shoulder, which could be really flattering. I plan to try that version when the weather improves.

Now that December is here, are you readying your wardrobe for festive events? I really love reading everyone’s blog posts at this time of year since there are so many sources of inspiration. I’ve seen a few velvet dresses this year – -might have to try my hand at one soon!

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by.