A Moto Jacket, part of a..capsule wardrobe?!?

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When Pattern Review announced their Wardrobe Sudoku Contest, I said, Never!  10 garments in two months that all have to coordinate with each other and shoes and accessories? Too mind-boggling for me. So I told myself I’d play along and use only fabric from my stash.

Well, the phrase, ‘never say never’ now clearly applies to me. I suppose my reluctance to join the fun had to do with the fact that I throw a hissy-fit whenever someone suggests I might sew with a plan (SWAP). I prefer to sew on a whim! But I’ve also secretly envied those who have used their sewing skills to achieve their dream capsule wardrobe too, which is basically what the Sudoku Challenge is all about.

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Here’s my completed Sudoku wardrobe.

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The grid shows ten combinations that work together, but the truth is, there are many, many more. The Mimi G jacket is one of the key pieces because it goes with everything, so it’s an accessory on the grid. I’ve wanted to sew this jacket for a long time. It’s a cool girl thing, you know? And this one is designed by Mimi G, no less! Definitely on my sewing bucket list, but it took this contest to get me to push through.

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I’ll wear it open, closed, over jeans, skirts and dresses. Here it is with other pieces in my Sudoku wardrobe.

The pattern; Simplicity 8174 is cute, but it’s not an easy make, to say the least. It’s a well designed pattern, but very complicated. It has a side zipper, back shoulder insets, epaulets, a waistband with carrier and belt detail, and inset zippered pockets, and it’s lined. There are lots of pattern pieces to manage, but once I got them labeled clearly, things started to work better. Here’s a shot of the back waistband, and the back shoulder panels. Cool details, eh?IMG_5094 2

I used brushed twill from my stash and cut my usual size, comparing my measurements to those on the envelope. It turned out to be perfect! Challenges….Construction took awhile, and required my full concentration. For me, the shoulder panels were the most frustrating part. They’re faced with another piece of fabric which gives them stiffness and makes them look cool when they’re top stitched. But, I found the instructions confusing. Mimi G’s video on U tube saved the day. In fact, I used it constantly through the process. It really helped, although I did find a few challenges even with that. She constantly says, do the same thing to the other side. That works for everything but the front bodice which has a right and left side.  In error, I applied the facings to both sides, but in reality, you have to wait on the left side until later in the process so that you can insert the front angled zipper correctly. So, I had a few stitches to rip out.

I did cheat on the belt carriers on the top epaulets and on the waist band. I could not get my thick fabric to turn, so I just winged it, making carriers without turning them.  My fingers were grateful.

This complex pattern had so many twists and turns, I had to turn off my new binge-watching obsession, Bloodline, so that I could concentrate. It was worth it though. I know this jacket will get worn alot, a key piece in my spring wardrobe.

Check out the contest over on Pattern Review.com for some great inspiration. I just love seeing how everyone puts together a wardrobe, and many are only using their stash like me. One of my favorite wardrobes is Elizabeth’s of Elizabeth Made This, so inspiring! Check out her fabulous makes on her blog.

My wardrobe is done and posted now,(my denim ruffled skirt is one item) and it feels good to have it behind me. Over the next few days, I’ll do some posts on my other makes, including two statement sleeve tops, a safari jacket, an alder shirt dress and a long blue cardigan. I stayed with blues and neutrals, which seems to be all I have in my stash these days!

Will I always sew with a plan? I doubt it….no new leaf being turned over here. How about you? Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!!

A Ruffle Skirt and Cold Shoulder Top

IMG_3737 2If you told me a year ago that I would be sewing a ruffle wrap skirt in denim for Spring, I would have laughed out loud. Ruffles have never been my thing. But if you show me enough of a trend, I am usually happy to hop on board!

Such is the case with this skirt.  I couldn’t resist modifying a simple skirt pattern to mimic some of the ready to wear ruffled gems I’ve been seeing around town.

IMG_3751In this photo, I am noticing that my bootie is unzipped. So ridiculous (!), but I had to include this shot because the ruffles on the front of the skirt are so easy to see. Honestly, this modification was easy. I measured the front edge of the right front of the skirt. I made my ruffle 1 and a half times that length (to allow for gathering), and 6″wide. I love how a simple modification can completely change the look of a pattern.

This skirt is Simplicity 1322. It’s meant to be a mock wrap with a front and back yoke and back zipper. But I made it into a real wrap skirt be eliminating the yokes and cutting a waistband and tie instead. I used  a lightweight denim; a cotton/linen blend. It’s been in my stash for so long, I have no idea where I bought it.

IMG_3771I’m happy with this skirt, but I’m not sure about the length. I might need to shorten it a couple of inches? Opinions? I won’t wear this with tights when it warms up around here and it might look more Springy if it’s a bit shorter?

This cold shoulder top (another trend I have happily embraced) is my first Style Arc Pattern. I wanted a basic top I could wear with anything, so I chose black ponte knit with moderate stretch and lots of body. This fabric was perfect to support the shape of the cut out shoulders.

IMG_3747I’d heard that Style Arc patterns are challenging because there are very few instructions. In the case of this pattern, the instructions were sparse (less than one page), but the instructions were enough to get the job done. There aren’t any facings to deal with on this top. The neck is finished with a turned edge as are the shoulder cut outs, so there just isn’t that much to say! It fit perfectly without modification, a rarity for me, so I’m fairly impressed with this pattern!

 

I’m more comfortable wearing ruffles when they’re paired with something that is simple and not so fussy, like this top. So, I imagine I’ll wear this skirt with simple knit tops most of the time.

IMG_3741I’m pretty happy with this make, and it was a stash buster too. What do you think of the ruffle trend? Thumbs up or down? And do you have any Style Arc Tried and True’s that I should try?

I hope it’s warm and sunny where you are, because it definitely isn’t here, which is not great for my Spring Sew-Jo. Nevertheless, there is a silver lining to the weather. Rain is a perfect excuse to ignore my yard and sew…. 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!

Simplicity 1280: Crossover Top Times Two

I will admit. When it comes to sewing a top, I am a bit of a speed demon. I’m happiest when I’m sewing fast, and I will not stop until I’m done. Yes, I can leave a coat, jacket or dress on the sewing table to be completed another day, but a top? No way! Tops take ONE DAY, don’t you know?

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Enter Simplicity 1280: a cross-over top with a keyhole neckline. The top has a bit of a ‘ANTHRO’ vibe and it can be made in a day!

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I made two versions of this pattern, using a not-so-special rayon, and a fabric that I’d saved for just the right project (both from Fabric Depot). Wouldn’t you know it? The not-so-special fabric turned out to be the one with the best drape for the project. (Can you guess which one it is?)

I made view C with long sleeves and skipped the elastic on the sleeves as I wanted a bit more of a boho look.

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The top went together pretty well, and it was done in ONE DAY!!

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The pattern instructions are great. Here are some construction tips that I can offer after making two versions!

  • The neck is roomy. If you have narrow shoulders like me, you might want to do a muslin, or, at a minimum, baste the neck band on to make sure it doesn’t droop. I found the extra small to be a bit roomy and had to make it even smaller so that I wouldn’t have an ‘off-the-shoulder’look without intending to. Yes, it is trendy, but….
  • The construction of the front crossover pieces is interesting. The pattern instructions tell you to topstitch the two panels together before you have the back bodice attached to the front bodice. If you use a lightweight fabric like I did, you don’t really know if the drape is nice until the top is sewn together, so when you topstitch the two fronts, you can get some gathers and puckers that have to be corrected when the top is finally put together. Personally, I hate to unpick. So,  I’d take a pass on that topstitching step until after you’ve tried the top on and checked fit and drape. On my first version of this pattern, I had to unpick the topstitching and redo it after the back was sewn to the front because the drape was so different once the bodice was completed and there were so many strange puckers to fix!  Blah!!! Second version, I just basted the two front pieces together with a short stitch. Then, after I’d confirmed I had a good fit, I topstitched like I meant it.

The good news….Once you have these crossover pieces topstitched together, they will not gap or move as you wear the top! Yay!

  • The top really needs ‘drape’, so stiff fabrics will give a much different result. I used lightweight woven rayon, and could imagine it would have turned out even better if I had used silk. Next time….

Both fabrics were chosen in hopes that I could mix things up a bit by  wearing the  prints with my striped Morris Blazer. It’s a wardrobe challenge as only solid tee shirts seem to work with it. Alas, I’m not sure either of these prints works either..opinions welcome!

I keep hoping that I’m on the road to having a true capsule wardrobe, but, well, Hmmmmm. Maybe not today?

I hope your Spring sewing is going well. Me-Made-May, are you in or out? I might pledge one Me-Made a day, as Linda at Nice dress Thanks I made it, very wisely suggested. We’ll see.

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Tale of Two Morris Blazers

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A person can never have enough throw-on blazers, am I right? If you’re wearing a springy top or a dress and a bit of wind happens your way, it’s so handy to have a little blazer or cardigan to pop over it. The Morris Blazer by Grainline Studios is just one of those little toppers that’s stylish and comfortable, a perfect extra layer. Since my much-loved knit blazer hit the donation pile last spring, I  made not one, but two Morris’ to replace it.

My first is made from a fabulous striped Ponte knit, purchased at Mill End Store.

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Stripes are everywhere this spring; vertical or horizontal, thin or thick – – any stripe will do! When I saw this knit, I decided its peach and blue stripes were just right.  The Grainline Morris pattern suggests knits and stretch wovens are the fabrics of choice, so I knew this knit would be perfect.

Generally as blazers go, the Morris blazer is a pretty straightforward sew. It isn’t lined, so I serged all of the seams for a ‘finished’ inside. I did have a few scary moments during construction.

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Because it isn’t lined, the front and the hem are faced. Even though the instructions are generally pretty good on Grainline patterns, they totally lost me when it came time to attach the hem facing  to the front facing. OMG, I thought I would lose my mind! I screwed it up, twice ,before I remembered there was a Morris sew-along on the Grainline website. Those photos saved me.

Fit: I have narrow shoulders, and frequently have to adjust patterns significantly to compensate. This was not necessary on the Morris. In fact, even in the Ponte knit, the Size 10 shoulders are a bit snug on me, whereas the bodice for that same size needed to be graded down to an eight. To me, this means that even folks with ‘regular’ shoulders might find this cut a bit narrow.My knit Morris is comfy, however, the lapels pop up  (perhaps this is my error?) and it flaps in the wind. Plus, it doesn’t have pockets.I Need Pockets Desperately.

Enter Morris Number Two.

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This Morris is  a bit oversized, ‘boyfriend style’, with huge pockets that hold my cell and my keys. Here’s how I got there…..

  • I lengthened the bodice by six inches at the line provided on the pattern.
  • I cut one size larger in the bodice so that I could add buttons for closure.
  • I widened the lapel and front facing by an inch.
  • I drafted patch pockets by tracing the hemline of the jacket.

It’s a good thing I ‘sized up’ because the drape of the stretch twill is pretty different from the knit. Even though it had a lot of ‘give’, it wasn’t very forgiving in the shoulders so my boyfriend version isn’t quite as comfortable as I’d like. I do love that I can button-up this blazer though, and the wider lapels lay down nicely and stay down.  My one complaint about this version…I wish it was lined. The blazer doesn’t slip on and off that easily. If I venture down the Morris path again, I’ll likely add lining

Summary: This is a great pattern and I love both versions. For comfort, the knit wins. For versatility the twill ‘boyfriend’ version wins. If I were to make this pattern again, I would probably stick with the knit, adding pockets for sure. In my opinion, the drape of a stretch woven isn’t quite as nice for the design.

I’m sure I’ll wear the boyfriend version a lot this Spring, when the weather is still cool and windy. I will opt for shorter knit version when I want something over a tee this summer.

With this make, my spring sewing is officially ‘on’. And, it’s a good thing, because Me-made May is just around the corner.  Will you participate this year? I’m not sure if I will, as I don’t have jeans in my ‘me-made wardrobe. That problem will soon be corrected though as I’m starting a Jeans Class at Modern Domestic this Spring. So, who knows? I may pull it off after all.

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!

 

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!