A blue tee with pops of white for Spring

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I always feel as though Spring begins the first day after Easter because that’s when my sewing mood begins to shift. I put away the wools and sweater knits as I dream of sunshine and linen and silk.

But it’s been so cold and rainy here, it feels as though the sun has deserted us. I’m getting desperate for a few warm rays. That’s why I was drawn to a caption in a recent ‘ready-to-wear’ catalog that promised a ‘Riveria’ mood when wearing “crisp colors with pops of white.” If clothing can put you in a resort frame of mind, count me in! Why not add a bit of white to my blue top to make me feel…sunnier? IMG_8560

After completing my denim shirt dress (a labor of love, yes, but there was  a lot of topstitching!!), I need an easy, fast sew to revive my sew-jo. So, for this top I used a pattern that’s an old favorite; Vogue 8710 (OOP, but still available on their website).

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I’ve made it before (here).There’s a reason this top is a good ‘palate cleansing project’. The pattern is a fast sew and it fits well. For me, this is not always the case with Katherine Tilton designs. Often, they’re too voluminous for me, since I’m short and small, but this one is a winner.  The fit is close on top, flaring gently to a loose a-line shape at the bottom. This is accomplished by two insets, and the placement of those pieces is strategic; they have a slimming effect.The style would be flattering to anyone’s shape, I think.

There are two things I love about this pattern; it’s simple to put together, only a few main pattern pieces so cutting time is minimal. Not only that, but you can make it in an afternoon!! I used the stretch stitch on my regular sewing machine, and it worked fine.

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I made the pattern as designed except for two modifications. I cut contrast fabric on the bias for the neck instead of just using bias tape as suggested. I also shortened the length of the bodice by two inches so that it wouldn’t feel like a tunic on me. Fabric: Both the white and the blue knit are cotton jersey with two way stretch from Fabric Depot.

I love my new top! The cut is so versatile, I’ll wear it with pants or skirts. And I love the blue/white combination. It puts me in the mood for Spring. In fact, I do have the FEVER. I’ve been cleaning my sewing room, even reorganizing my stash so that the cotton lawns and linens are front and center. I’m eyeing some new fabric purchases too, a few new cottons, maybe even a bright print or two ( that’s how crazy Spring makes me.) For inspiration, I’m stalking my favorite ready to wear stores (Anthropologie) and the Vogue runway collection as well as your blogs and Instagram posts. But I’m always looking for something fresh and new.Where do you go when you need inspiration?

Happy 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!

 

Sweater Knits Rule

 

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I wear a lot of separates. This fact became obvious to me when I rearranged my closet this week to make room for Spring clothes. There’s nothing wrong with a good separate, and we all need them,  but OMG.  My closet is crammed with mix and match items. It’s a bit overwhelming when it comes time to choose.  I might have to rethink my look a bit as we move into Spring…

Nevertheless, I am posting more separates today, both made from Yummy Sweater Knits. As you all know, I am such a fan. And this layered outfit includes two chunky knits, one from cotton, the other from a wool/poly blend. They are so, so comfortable to wear. Honestly, you just can’t go wrong with them.

The white top is a good basic, made from a chunky cotton knit feels so good against my skin.

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I used Vogue 8925 for this top.

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I cut bias strips of the same cotton knit to embellish the cuffs and neck. To get the gently frayed look, I left the edges unfinished and the raw edge becomes a bit of an embellishment that way.

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IMG_7106The black cardi-wrap is cut from eyelash knit, a chunky fabric with a unique furry texture. I’m not sure you can tell this from the photos, but the fabric is as dense as my cat’s fur.

IMG_7131The pattern for this wrap is Butterick 5789 with a few modifications. I used View E but left off the front bands.

To get the wrapped look, I overlapped the fronts, adding three vintage buttons to keep them together. Buttons make the world go round, don’t you think?

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Because this black knit is super stretchy, I stabilized the front with a bit of interfacing to support the button holes and buttons. Sweater knits are pretty forgiving, but even the heavier weaves don’t seem to be able to support the weight of a button without a bit of help. I used an overlock stitch for the stretchy seams. I finished the edges by turning the fabric under and stitching. It worked well because this knit is so dense, the stitches just disappeared into it :). The bad news with a knit like this is that a mistake is almost impossible to correct. You’ll lose your mind trying to remove those lovely, buried stitches!

Overall, I’d say this cardi-wrap will be a favorite for me. I’ll be able to throw it on over anything!  The downside is that it’s black, a color that doesn’t work well with orange cat fur, but what does?

Have you tried to sew buttons on sweater knits? Any tips to share? Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by.

 

 

Thursday Top: Vogue 8815

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Well, here we are in February, the month that straddles the seasons.  The fabric stores are flaunting new lightweight cottons and linens. Yet, I’m still working through my stash of sweater knits.

At this point, it’s probably ridiculous to state the obvious – I am a fan of sweater knits. As I’ve confessed before, it’s not just because they’re cozy and comfortable. It’s because I can’t knit. Really. My brain gets ahead of my fingers and, well, chaos ensues. Sweater knits are the easy way out.

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And they are so comfortable! However, as you can see in the photo above, I’m discovering yet another cat hair on me. Knits do seem to attract fur of any sort, but doesn’t everything? Still, this particular sweater knit is wonderful, a thick cotton/lycra blend that’s textured and double faced. The result is a lush, thick fabric with a moderate amount of give that is so great to wear.

IMG_7739 I took a close up of the fabric so that you could see the texture. The pattern I used for this Thursday top is one of my TNT (tried and true) patterns, Vogue 8815.

I made it before Here. The pattern is designed for wovens, but when I found this knit, I could see it only one way – – as this top. Generally, when I decide to use a knit instead of a woven, I take the pattern down a full size. But I’ve discovered that each knit is so different, it’s hard to predict how they will behave.

This time, I tried a new method to allow for the stretch in the knit. I adjusted the seam allowances from 5/8″ to 6/8″. Because the stretch on this knit was so moderate, I didn’t want to cut out a smaller size, only to discover the knit wasn’t stretchy enough to warrant that large of an adjustment.

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In the end, I was glad I made the adjustment this way. The knit didn’t stretch enough across the shoulders to warrant any adjustment at all. Because I basted in the seams, it was easy to just let the back seam out where I needed to. Yahoo! So glad I didn’t screw up this great fabric 🙂

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Because the knit had moderate stretch, I used my Bernina’s overlock stitch rather than serging the seams. Here are my pattern modifications:

  • Because I used a knit, I didn’t insert a zipper. The neck slips over my head easily.
  • I added a solid band of knit at the neck (very stretchy so that it wouldn’t bind) in contrasting black.
  • I also added a solid black band of knit at the waist. To do this, I shortened the front and back bodice by two inches. Then I cut 2, two inch wide bands of solid knit fabric the same width as the bodice pieces.  I sewed the solid knit pieces to the shortened bodice pieces before sewing on the back and front peplum pieces.

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Done! One winter project down, and a few more to go. I’m getting antsy for Spring, though. I’ve been longing to work with linen again. I think my first spring project will be a shirt dress of some sort. Have you started sewing for Spring, or are you still working through winter projects?

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!

 

Vogue 8831: A sweater knit top with zippers

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Since I don’t knit, I’ve become a huge fan of sweater knits. With only a few yards of the cozy stuff, you can cut and sew almost any style sweater you want. Here, in rainy Oregon, a person can NEVER have too many sweaters.

For this top, I used two coordinating sweater knits from my fabric stash (yay); a striped textured knit for the bodice, and a solid sweater knit for the arms and cowl. For fun, I also added a couple of pockets to the bodice, sewn from a untextured knit of solid black.

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I used the same fabric to add sleeve bands, and, because I’d fallen in love with a RTW top with zipper detail at the hem (it didn’t fit, rats), I added two seven inch zippers to the princess seams at the hem.

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The pattern I used is Vogue 8831,  a top with princess seams and a cowl neck. I’ve made it before here, and will likely do so again as I love the cowl neck and the princess seams in the bodice.

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Because this sweater knit was so loosely woven, I added stabilizer to the seams before stitching in the zippers. This gave the fabric enough body to support the weight of the zipper and also helped protect the seam from unraveling. I also finished all the seams with an overlock stitch. I love sweater knit, but when it’s loosely woven, it can be a bit….touchy.   I was really glad I chose a pattern that I knew well, because the stitches seemed to just disappear into the fabric. If I’d had to unpick any of those seams, it would have been a night mare!

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I learned a bit more about sweater knits as I worked on this project. The things I want to remember for my next project include:

  1. Always use the right needle. On this project, a jersey needle worked best.
  2. Finish the raw edges to keep the weave together.
  3. Stabilize seams and hems (especially if they have to carry the weight of a zipper ).
  4. Try not to pull the knit as you sew. It does stretch and can lose its shape (My hem isn’t as perfect as I’d like because I stretched it out when I put the zippers in.)
  5. Keep your cat out of the sewing room especially if he’s orange and his name is Dustin.IMG_7077

Putting in the zippers required a bit of thought and added some extra steps, but I’m glad I did. I like the look of the zippers and they make the top a bit unusual. To change up the look, I can wear it with the zippers open or closed. And if I eat too much, hey, all I have to do to get a bit of room is to unzip. Ha! Too bad I didn’t have this top to wear over the holidays!

I still have quite a bit of winter sewing to do, but the linens and cottons in my stash are calling me. Pretty soon, I’ll just have to give in and shift my focus. My spring plans are to make a couple of light weight dresses and tops that will travel well. And pants! I have to find a pants pattern that I love. Recommendations are appreciated!

I’d love to hear about your sweater knit experiences and if you’ve found any secrets to success. 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.

 

 

 

 

I’m having a blue moment…

Blue! Everything in my wardrobe is blue. Black used to be my go-to color, a drab, but safe option. But now, everything’s coming up blue.

Why am I obsessed with ‘blue’ this Spring? It could be because I’d like to see the gray of our Oregon sky replaced with a bit of blue!! Or maybe its because I need a trip to the tropics and a ‘hit’ of a warm ocean’s blue. Whatever the reason, I’m completely taken with any and all variations of blue this Spring; denim blue, sky blue, robin’s egg blue, sailor’s blue, powder blue, cobalt blue…need I continue? Perhaps, you’ve seen me. I’m the wild-eyed blonde that’s lurking in the the denim and chambray aisle of your favorite fabric store.
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I can’t tell you how many random pieces of blue fabric I’ve picked up over the last few months. My latest ‘hit’ of blue came when I spotted a gorgeous piece of linen at Fabric Depot. At first, my thoughts were reasoned. “You can’t have it,” I told myself. “Your stash is huge.” But my heart other ideas.
That’s when I remembered an important fact about linen. It breathes, which makes it the perfect choice for summer clothes! Since I’m planning a trip to the tip of Southern California in June, I’ll need tops that can handle cool coastal mornings as well as hot dry afternoons. That’s justification enough for me!
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The top I made with my lovely blue linen is Butterick 6097, a fitted shirt with a collar and peplum variations, princess seams and a front button band. I chose the pattern because it has some structure, which will make it a great companion for shorts, skirts, or jeans. Also, the has the style has a slight retro vibe, which I always, always love.
I made view B, a long sleeve version that I modified. My sleeves are closer to 3/4 and I skipped the cuff so that I could push the sleeves up if I got too warm. Also, that version had a pleated peplum, which was something I’d never tried before.
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Because the pattern is so fitted, I chose to go up a size in the waist (since I don’t really have one), then cut my usual size through the hips. I didn’t do a muslin (since I have zero patience), an approach that frequently has horrifying consequences. But this time, lucky for me, my adjustments worked! The pattern went together easily and it fit with just a bit of last minute seam adjustment at the sides.
The linen was a breeze to sew with, but it has absolutely no ‘give’, so I’m lucky my size adjustments worked!! I love any fabric that presses into a crisp, clean edge and this linen did not disappoint. However, as we all know, linen is notorious. Pressed today means wrinkles tomorrow, no matter what you do. But I love linen’s wrinkles – they’re classic and cool. The pleats were super easy to sew as long as you marked them well.
 I’ve worn the top once and it was really comfortable, even after eating a huge dessert, a ‘plus’ in my book. Now, if only my waist was as small as this woman’s…She’s a miniature version of a real woman, right?
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Do you like to sew with linen? What’s your favorite fabric to wear in summer?

Spring means Tees!

The temperature hit seventy degrees today in Portland, tee-shirt weather!  It’s time to store my winter wools in favor of cotton, linen, maybe even silk. Perhaps this wardrobe shift is a bit premature (we’ve had snow in April before), but I’m determined to embrace the change.
When the rain stops, I’m always in the mood to shop. During a recent visit to Anthropologie, I noticed that their spring line included a nice assortment of simple but stylish tees. Most had an artistic look, with less structure in the design. Many were made with a mixture of textures and patterns. Since the size of my fabric stash overwhelms me, I fought the urge to make a sizable purchase, choosing instead to approach my sewing time with a new sense of purpose.
I decided to make a new wardrobe of tees – – so many, I’d be comfortable no matter what the Spring weather holds!
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Here’s the first one. The pattern I chose was Vogue 9054, a loose fitting tee that comes in more than one length. Since cropped is also on trend, I decided to make the shorter version, rather than the tunic length. I used a couple of coordinated cotton jerseys that were in my stash, purchased at Fabric Depot last spring. Both were shades of blue, a theme that matched the color story of Spring; deep indigo, navy and denim blue. The print was designed by Anna Maria Horner, the Mary Thistle knit in blue.
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Vogue 9054 was a delight to sew! It came together in about two hours, including cutting time. Usually, because of my narrow back, I have to make lots of adjustments, but this pattern fit as cut. Not only that, but every seam came together perfectly, and the sleeves slipped in without a struggle. Well done, Vogue! This is one well designed pattern.
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I love the end result – simple yet as stylish as many of the high end ready to wear garments . I plan to make this again in several coordinated cotton jerseys for a color blocked look. I might also try a patterned knit. Vogue 9054 is destined for ‘favorite’ status!