A off-the-shoulder look inspired by Theory

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As you all know, I love a good designer knock-off, and Theory is one of my favorite designer lines. Last fall, a friend of mine wore the Theory shirt (on the left) to a dinner at my house, and I was smitten. She wore the shirt a bit off the shoulder and I loved the way the the gathered neckline was created by a drawstring.

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To create my knock off version, I used Simplicity 8550 as a template.

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The best news about this pattern is that I found it for a $1.99 at Joann’s!!  I have so many sewing patterns, I can only justify an addition if it’s a bargain. Yes, Indie patterns are great options, but you can’t beat the price when the Big Four go on sale.

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The neckline of the Simplicity top is similar to the Theory shirt in design, but it’s a bit wider. Also, it doesn’t have a drawstring closure.PicMonkey Collage-6To add a drawstring at the neckline: First, I adjusted the neck opening to make it a bit smaller. To do this, I took a half an inch out of the front and back bodice pattern at the center front and center back. Because the cut of this shirt is so loose in the shoulders and bodice, that adjustment did nothing to the comfort or fit of the top. To make the channel for the drawstring (a simple black ribbon), I replaced the neck facing with a strip of bias tape, and inserted the ribbon through that. Pretty simple modification…

Other adjustments: I tapered the bodice a bit by adding two eyelash darts in the back from the shoulders to the waist. Even though the Theory shirt is collarless, I couldn’t resist adding some drama with a big collar.

I was tempted to use Chambray for the top for my knock off, but decided I have too much blue in my wardrobe. It’s time for a new color…red! This cotton is from Fabric Depot and it has just the right amount of body for the collar – yet isn’t too stiff for the drawstring/gathered neck.

 

 

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This top was definitely a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants project, and I feel lucky that it turned out so well:) I love the fact that, with a tug on the drawstring, I can adjust the neckline of this shirt as the mood strikes. The color is nice for a change too. This top won’t be a wardrobe orphan because it works so well with my favorite Ginger jeans and with my denim skirt too.

Well, I think this officially begins my summer sewing. Fingers crossed that I get to wear it soon! Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

A New Top to Add Some Drama

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Me-Made May is winding down, but not without a few more revelations that are worth mentioning. I used to wear solids and very few prints – – Not so anymore! My wardrobe is dominated by prints and textures. There isn’t anything bad about this, but I miss the drama that solids bring to the table. A well-cut top or dress with drape and style looks sophisticated and polished when there isn’t the distraction of a print.

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Ha – – Look at the volume in these sleeves! You have to admit – this top is dramatic, much more than I realized when I chose  McCall’s 7658.

There are many views and options with this pattern (Yay!), but I chose the long sleeve version because it’s still (always) on the chilly side in Oregon.  Because of the overlay, recommended fabrics for this pattern include chiffon, Georgette and sheers. I didn’t have any of those in my stash, but I did have a lightweight sheer knit so I gave that a try.

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This style looked complicated to me, but the construction steps weren’t hard at all. The long sleeve version has the sleeves built right into the overlay, so makes them a breeze to sew. The trickiest part of the make was the sleeve cuff. You’re supposed to insert elastic to give the cuff a gathered look. I chose to skip that part, since you’d never see those details on my fabric anyway, so I just inserted the cuff without the elastic. The finish of the overlay is simple – – you just turn under the edge and stitch.

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Voila! A half hour to cut this pattern, one and half hours to sew! Not a bad way to go…:)

The bat wing sleeves really give this overlay some style and drama. It’s pretty obvious though, that the wrong fabric choice would make this style look, well, pretty hideous, LOL. So, if you’re inclined to give this one a try, stick with lightweight fabrics with lots of movement and drape.

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I’m happy to say, there were no adjustments necessary on this pattern for me! I know some people aren’t fond of  sleeves with volume, but I think I love this look….it’s sort of cape-like and fun. I just might have to make it again for summer with the pleated overlay in a lightweight chiffon…but wait. I hate sewing with chiffon. Hmmm, what else would work? Any thoughts?

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

Three Versions – Simplicity Waist-Tie Top

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Packing for a trip always points out the flaws in your wardrobe, don’t you think? A planned visit to the already muggy east coast made me realize – I have very few easy-to- wear, easy-to-pack tops that are humidity friendly.

Enter Simplicity 8601 – – An ‘easy-to-sew’ top with lots of variations.

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Version 1; Rayon

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This lovely batik rayon was purchased last Spring (Millendstore). I used some of it for this dress last spring. This rayon has a lovely, soft drape, so even though I was short a quarter of a yard, I worked hard to squeeze this 3/4 sleeve top from it. I was really lucky it worked because the drape of rayon is so perfect for this style!

One thing to note about this pattern – – It has a seam down the front, a necessity because of the tie at the waist. Stripes, plaids etc need to be positioned strategically. Even though this rayon has a polka dot print, it’s a batik with a noticeable pattern to it so I had to do some strategic matching around that front seam.

I loved this top right away! Encouraged by the immediate gratification this pattern offered, I pressed on and sewed a few more…..

Version two: Medium weight cotton

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This is View A with bell sleeves, the perfect shape for layering under sweaters.  I was a bit concerned that the stiffness of this Cotton and Steel print would be a bit much for the waist tie…but it worked! Not only is this medium weight cotton great  in humid weather, it supports the shape of these sleeves.

Version 3; Cotton Double GauzeIMG_1337

When the weather is a bit sticky, double gauze always makes me feel great, so I just had to use a cotton gauze remnant in my stash for version B. I am so glad I did! There’s a reason people use double gauze for baby blankets – it’s so soft.  Wearing this top is like wearing pajamas, which makes me wonder…..Why don’t I make everything out of double gauze?

I’m pleased with all three versions so Simplicity 8601 so it gets a big thumbs up from me. I have plans to make View D as well (flutter sleeves) and who knows what else I might whip up.  From start to finish each version of this top took only two hours to sew – – a perfect saturday or evening project. The instructions are great and the fabric options that work with this pattern are endless. I have some linen I will use for a flutter sleeve version. I will likely make a flannel version in the fall.

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I was pleased to see several similar RTW tops at Anthropologie last week with a waist tie, so give this look a try. What version do you like best? Have you ever made a top from double gauze?

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

A Remant Busting Top X 3

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I think I’ve found a new tried and true top pattern to add to my go-to collection. This one is a favorite because it’s perfect for knit remnants! As you all know, I can’t bear to part with sweater knit pieces, no matter what the size or shape, so I have quite the collection of lovely bits. It’s so great to find a pattern that accomodates my need to save them!

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My preferred wardrobe choice at this time of year is pants and a top, so cute options are always on my to-sew list. I really love the curvy raglan sleeves on this pattern! It’s the sort of detail that takes this top from ordinary to something I’ll reach for again and again.

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On this version, I added a large cuff to the sleeve just for fun. I love this fabric, and am so glad I saved this lovely remnant. I didn’t have enough fabric to do the entire shirt so the back is a solid black.

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This top is made from remnants of two different sweaters and I added narrow cuffs to the sleeves to make it look a bit more polished.

This Melissa Watson design is McCalls 7574.

It’s an easy sew, the perfect diversion from a more demanding project (my night dress for the Day/Night Dress challenge, soon to be revealed.). I was pleased that this top fit me right out of the envelope with no adjustments. It has two options on the neckline, either a narrow band or a collar. I used the collar option twice and the neckband on the bright floral version. Both were really easy to sew and are so comfortable to wear. I think the dress version of this pattern would be great to try.

I love the efficiency of sewing several versions of a pattern back to back. By the time I was sewing version three, I was able to complete the top in less than an hour, LOL!

It’s nice to have some fresh options in my closet to go with jeans. If I had to choose a favorite, it would probably be this one. The textured wool knit is so colorful and I love the bold print. Which do you prefer?

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Do you save bits of knit or am I the only one who can’t bear to let them go? Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

 

A Top That Could Go to a Party

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

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

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

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

I love this new pattern; McCall’s 7660.

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

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

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

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

 

 

A Fall Top with Linen and Stripes

IMG_4458We’re in full-on Halloween mode over here (skulls, ravens, you know….the usual). In a typical year, this would mean the season for linen tops would be long past. But in Oregon, our Fall has been extraordinarily warm, a fact that has kept me from moving my summer fabrics into storage.  This top is another remnant make – linen and striped cotton from my stash.   IMG_4489

 

This top is a modified version of Simplicity 8295, a dress or tunic that has alot of options for creating different looks. It has a front panel insert, and you can even add grommets and ties if you’d like.

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I love the shirt details of this top/dress pattern. The long sleeves have cuffs.

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I also like the yoke and back pleat.IMG_4485

Since I used the striped fabric for the insert, I decided to make the sleeves a combination of striped and solid fabric to carry through my theme, and also to make my fabric go further. I also modified the front neck opening. As designed it was cut even lower than my version…I actually raised it by a couple of inches to make it work. I also shortened the tunic length by 3″ .

It’s a really comfortable shirt that makes me feel put together because of the crisp shirt details. Now, I want to try this pattern in the dress length with contrast pockets I think.

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I love wearing this top…maybe linen isn’t just for summer? Medium weight linen has a nice softness that makes it feel almost…cozy. Do you sew with linen all year around?

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

 

A Ruffled Top Done 3 Ways

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

Stash Buster: Simplicity 1377

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Hi all …As most of you know, one of my goals for 2017 is to reduce the size of my huge (re: out -of-control) stash. To that end, I’ve produced my own Little Black Book, a three-ring binder that holds my catalog of fabrics.

Yes, it’s a bargain basement binder, but it holds the key to my heart…a record of my glorious, but soon to be significantly reduced, supply of fabrics. My method of recording is simple…I just take a snip of the fabric, note the amount I have and whether or not the fabric is woven or stretch, and what ‘bin’ it’s located in (big plastic containers I purchased at Target). I track all fabric that is at least a yard or more. Smaller pieces make it into the notebook if they are unique (sequins, silk, feathers, LACE….!).

Some fabrics stay in their bin for a long time….the longer the stay, the more special they become! This particular fabric lived in my stash for a couple of years before my mind could find something suitable for its vibrant turquoise.

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There were two barriers to making this fabric into something special – – It’s a substantial flannel, the sort of fabric that doesn’t know what the word ‘drape’ means and — – my piece was a yard and a quarter (11/4); not enough for the usual flannel styles like a button up shirt  or a style with long sleeves. (Side note: My stash is overflowing with small pieces like this…remnants from other projects, or small pieces I picked up on sale..too little for most things, but too much to toss!)

Simplicity 1377 was the solution.

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This simple pattern is one I’ve used before. It has a front and back bodice, two neck facings, and short sleeves with drop shoulders. Because I’m only 5’4″, I don’t need much length in the bodice, so I was able to cut this top as well as a pocket and sleeve tabs from my small piece of fabric.

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Pattern Modifications (Simplicity 1377:

  • My version uses the neckline of view D and the sleeves of View E.
  • The short sleeves in view E have been lengthened by 2 inches (roll-up length).
  • I added self drafted button-up sleeve tabs.

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  • I self drafted a 5 inch square pocket to the bodice front and trimmed it with fringe from the fabric selvage.

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  • I used extra fabric to draft a tie belt.
  • I added a side vent to the hem line.

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March is a chilly month here in Oregon, and I know I’ll enjoy this warm flannel shirt with tee under it for weeks to come, and then in a few weeks (I hope) without a tee under it. Unfortunately, cozy is still an important word here, and I’ll be wearing my heavier clothes off and on for the next few months.

I love my new top!

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It’s comfy and colorful with an added bonus – – it was a Stash-Buster. I  got to pull another swatch out of my Little Black Book!

How do you manage your stash? Do you catalog it formally, or are you more relaxed about the process? And what about my fascination with collecting (hoarding) small pieces of fabric? What do you do with your one-yard wonders?

Happy Sewing and thanks for stopping by!

 

 

 

 

Butterick 6456- A Boho Top with Statement Sleeves

IMG_3187Do you ever get obsessed with a trend? I’ve been known to go overboard with a new look, and in my case, statement sleeves are my new ‘thing’. This Spring, it seems they are everywhere, and I am clearly jumping on the band wagon! Sure, I like the look (flow-y, care free, maybe even a bit boho), but I also like the challenge of a new sleeve shape. Each pattern is a new adventure in sleeve construction with new techniques to learn.

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I was attracted to Butterick 6456 because of the sleeve options but also because of the v-neck and front pleat, both a rarity in my wardrobe. I also like the flow-y boho look of this top, which is a little different from the structured statement sleeve tops/dresses I’ve made in the past.

I chose a printed rayon from the Mill End Store . I wanted a lightweight fabric with drape, and this fit the bill.

IMG_3248 2The pattern when together nicely. The v-neck, the front pleat, the bell sleeves were all explained well and fairly easy to execute. The challenge was in the fit (that is an understatement). I cut the smallest size, but the v-neck was still pretty large. I mean, we are talking cleavage exposure here folks, and that was just not where I wanted to go with this top (LOL). So, I did a bit of modifying. There is a back seam as you can see from the line art.

B6456So, my strategy was to take that seam in by about an inch. I also eliminated the neckline opening in the back and just sewed the seam closed. That seemed to do the trick.  The neck opening is large enough that the top just slips over my head!

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I love my new top, but wearing it will limit my activities. I cannot imagine cooking or performing cleaning duties of any kind while wearing it. Oh, darn. Hopefully, those sleeves will not get into my dinner, as this is clearly a Date Night top that will see a restaurant or two.  I’m glad I figured out how to modify the neck because I love the fabric. I’m sure this top will get lots of wear from early Spring through Summer. The flow-y rayon was a good choice for this pattern and I can imagine trying it again with silk. I’m not sure a crisp cotton would work well, although I do think a linen with soft hand would be good.

This was a fun make, but I don’t think I’m done with statement sleeves yet.  Next up, a McCall’s pattern from my stash that has five (!!) different sleeve options. So much to learn! Can’t wait to try that next. I’d love to know where you stand on statement sleeves? Also curious if any of you have run into problems with v-necks and fit and how you’ve modified them?

Happy Sewing and thanks for stopping by!

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!