DIY: Philip Lim Inspired Top

 

img_2016Hi all! The inspiration for this stash-busting top was a Philip Lim creation I saw at the San Francisco Saks a couple of weeks ago. It’s so fun to wander around in that amazing store, a real treat for me since we don’t have a Saks here anymore (wah!). But when I saw this top it was instant ‘love’. The bold plaid, the color blocked side panels, the contrast trim and stitching, I wanted it all. But alas, the price tag….

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So, I set about making my own version. The good news? I used left over remnants from my recent Day Dress, and another plaid from a top I made years ago. So no new money was spent in the making of this top.

img_2040The pattern I used for this make is a tried and true: Vogue 9054.

It’s out-of-print but still available on their website and on Etsy. The design detail that makes this pattern the perfect choice for my Philip Lim top is that it has a front panel. So, that’s where I placed my cotton plaid. I used a contrasting off white knit for the side panels. Even though this pattern is designed for knits, my inspiration top combined knits and wovens, so I went out on a limb and did the same thing. I think the loose design of this top made that combination less risky than it otherwise would have been. The fit really didn’t change. I also added a contrast band to the collar and cuffs.

img_2020A detail I love on the inspiration top was the stitching on the front and back panel seams. To get that look, I top stitched those seams with a decorative stitch. I wanted to use the flat lock stitch on my serger, but alas, it just wouldn’t behave. My substitute stitch isn’t quite as stunning, but I still like it.

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I especially like the way Vogue designed the hemline of this top. There’s a bit of a high-low thing going on there that’s fun.

img_2002Well, I think my top will work as a reasonable substitute for the Philip Lim top, and wearing my DIY  version will save me from spending hundreds of dollars I don’t have. I rarely think that sewing saves money, but when it comes to designer fashions, it has a very strong edge. Thanks to Philip for the inspiration! The colors of this top make it a seasonal transition item, I think, and I feel almost Springy as we persevere through another ice storm with freezing rain. Ugh!

I’m glad I used some fabric from my stash here, because my goal this year is to reduce the size of  my stash (yes, I used bold font so I won’t forget, LOL). Lately, I’ve been feeling like I have to ‘sew to my stash’, if you know what I mean. I often buy fabric with a project in mind, but by the time I get to it, my enthusiasm for it has waned or the inspiration is gone. That means my stash is huge, and it means my sewing is often motivated by the guilt that comes with excess. It overwhelms and confuses my creative urges (yes, I’m a junkie). So, my goal is to sew some of it ASAP and give some to friends or charity so that it doesn’t weigh me down. What do you think, fellow fabric junkies? Will this strategy work? 

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

 

DIY Jeans and a Burda Spring Top

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Hi all! Yes, I have FINALLY finished my first pair of jeans. My class at Modern Domestic here in Portland is over and I squeaked over the finish line with only five class minutes to spare! It feels sooooo good to have this project under my belt. I have wanted to sew a pair of jeans forever, but deep fear led to serious procrastination. But now I know. People, it is not that hard! Seriously, if I can, you can.  I’m already planning my next pair.

First, for those that don’t care about jeans, I’m going to give you a quick run down on this Burda top with a cool cutout in back.

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Pattern: Burda 114 from Issue 4/2016. Instructions were easy to follow (not always the case I have found with Burda) and you can make this top in about four hours or less. There’s also a dress length version. My fabric is a lightweight rayon that wanted to move around a lot, but after multiple tries, I did finally get the pattern pretty straight and centered on this wild print. Of course, the pattern doesn’t include seam allowances so don’t forget to add those :). One nice detail, the sleeves are short but finished with sleeve bands. I love the finished look this gives. It’s an easy pattern and the fit is very loose so I had no issues there.  I plan to make another one, maybe even a dress as I love anything with a bit of interest in the back.

The Jeans: There are so many tutorials in blog-land and on UTUBE that take you through the process of sewing jeans step by step so I will not bore you with that here. Since I’m generally impatient and easily frustrated, I took my first spin into Jeans Land under the Guidance of a Trained Professional, and I’m glad I did. My teacher was great and has made about 30 (?!?!) pairs of jeans. She has it down to a science and can whip out a pair in about four (4) hours. I think my pair took me only twelve (12) class hours. LOL

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Pattern: Jalie is the one we used in class because it has lots of sizes to play around with. The instructions are good, and the diagrams are clear. Yes, there are ALOT of steps, but they do a good job of holding your hand through them.I chose the low rise version and it was just right.

 

FIT: This is the part that scared me the most. The trick? Swedish Tracing Paper (I’m probably the last person to know about this great stuff?) It’s the same texture as interfacing so it doesn’t rip easily.  We traced our jeans pattern pieces onto it, then just basted those puppies together on the machine to check fit.

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Because this is durable paper, it doesn’t tear easily so you can try the paper jeans on then mark any necessary changes right onto the them before using them to cut out your jeans. HANDY! I hate making muslins (so much so that I never do which is not good) but this worked for me. BTW, the legs on this pattern are wide, so I straightened the cut of mine from the thighs down.

Interfacing: We used shape flex, which has a bit of give, a necessity on the waist of jeans. Tip…Cut it out with the grain (I forgot to do this first time through) so that you get a bit of stretch on the waistband when you need it.

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Topstitching: I used white thread (ARGH!!!). If I had to do it again, I would not. It made me crazy and my class got a good laugh as I took out things out over and over again. Pick a thread closer to your jeans color and save yourself some Grief. TIP; My Bernina isn’t fond of topstitching thread, so I used two spools of regular thread which could be pulled through the wider eye on a jeans needle. (don’t look too close at my white topstitching, LOL)

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Pockets: There are lots of templates on Pinterest for topstitching designs. Anything goes! I made up my own design and used a tracing pencil to mark it.

In summary, I like my jeans and will definitely make another pair using this pattern soon. The trickiest bits were the seams around the crouch and I didn’t love making bar tacks (not sure what that’s all about as it’s basically a tight zigzag stitch?), but I think those things will be much easier second time around. I also wish my knees weren’t so baggy. Not sure what to do about that?

What I will do differently next time. I will not topstitch with white. I will not topstitch with white. I will not topstitch with white. Ha, famous last words….

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

 

 

 

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 Kimono Look – Simplicity 1318 

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If you’ve abandoned your sewing machine to visit the alluring aisle of your favorite retail haunt, you’ve probably seen a kimono or two on display. I first noticed this fun trend, when we visited San Diego this Spring. Kimonos were everywhere, worn over cut-offs, shorts, jeans, even over short dresses. The look seemed easy-to-wear and I liked the lightweight fabrics in prints and solids. In short, sign me up!
For inspiration, here’s one by Herve Leger.
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And another. Love the fabric combo here!
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I like how that one’s belted.
Maybe I’ll make a belt for mine.
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Pattern: I used Simplicity 1318, a very ‘easy-to-sew’ pattern with trim and hi-low hem options. From cut to finish, it took only two hours. Other great pattern options: Butterick 6176 or Vogue 9115. 
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Fabric: Simplicity suggests using lightweight woven fabrics with drape for this pattern. I used a cotton lawn with a border print that I found at Mill End. I think it would be great out of a silky fabric as well.
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Modifications: The pattern includes lots of sizes, ranging from  XXS – XXL. I cut a small which fit, but I did have to adjust for my narrow back. If I make another kimono, I will go a size down as the pattern is so loose-fitting. I’d like it to hang open a bit more in the front.
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Challenges: Because I used a border print, I had to figure out how to lay the pattern on the fabric to capture the border trim most effectively. This was tricky and at one point, I headed back to the fabric store to buy more. Lesson learned! Do not be cheap. Buy more! Tip: If you’re using a border print, buy an extra half yard (at least) to give yourself some wiggle room.
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Do I recommend this pattern?  Yes!!  It’s super easy and I love how you can fiddle around with it to create your own look with a fun fabric. Because it’s summer, I’m definitely into patterns that offer instant gratification and this one fits the bill.  There’s nothing tricky about the techniques required, and you can whip it up in an afternoon. I might try it again in a silkier fabric with contrast bands.
Stay cool! And thanks for stopping by.