Thursday tee: A gauzy top keeps its cool

DSC03117
When it comes to the summer tops in my closet, not all are equal or flattering, which means there’s always a reason to try another. And another. And another.  Perhaps that’s why I never stop wanting to sew another top!
The most beloved tops in my wardrobe are the ones that are comfortable, but not shapeless, with a bit of classic styling. And if a top has a design element that’s a bit unique, that’s even better.
DSC03085
Of course, it’s always easy to find a new pattern to try. The problem is finding one that you can love forever. Sometimes, I’ll think a top is perfect, only to find after wearing it a few times, its shine dims. Maybe the print is too busy or the color feels too dated. Or maybe it clings too much.
 I guess that’s why I own more than a few. And I don’t even want to count the number of patterns I’ve purchased in my quest for perfection!! Don’t make me! It would be down right embarrassing.
1461
So, when I thought about purchasing Simplicity 1461, I groaned as I quarreled with myself. Really? Another tunic top pattern? Will you even make this one? But I’m glad I succumbed to temptation because this pattern is a keeper.
4b5069b255c4f3d481fe936f5859fa48
It’s a tunic top that has a bit of a boho look to it. It has princess seams (always flattering!), a number of neckline and sleeve variations, and trim variations. I chose to combine views, going with a short sleeve version.
The good news about the pattern for those with a narrow back, is that there’s a center back seam which makes adjustments easy. I cut the smallest size so that the fit wouldn’t be too loose. I used some textured lightweight cotton (so cool!) in cream and white from my stash. Constructing the top was super easy and fast. The challenge was in the neckline trim.
Since I’m drawn to brown and cream, I found some brown lace at my local fabric store, then played around with it a bit ( a craft project!!). I twisted the lace around, squaring it off at the bottom to create my neck trim, and discovered that the lace, when placed side by side, made sort of a zigzag pattern, an unexpected but fun detail. I used a lot of pins to hold it in place, then stitched it to the top with matching thread.
DSC03115
Not a difficult top to sew at all. It’s easy to wear too and the open neck makes it cool and comfortable.  I’ll probably make this pattern again with long sleeves, maybe out of a gauze or a silk. And I’ll  play around with a new trim at the neck.  I do love a good craft project!
DSC03114
Do you have tops that you’ll love forever? Or are you as fickle as I am?
Happy summer and thanks for stopping by!

It’s summer, and the sewing is easy!

It’s a scorcher out there, my friends! And, there’s only one thing to wear at a time like this. A summer dress.  A person can’t have too many summer dresses, right? They’re so easy to throw on.
DSC03026
Personally, when it’s hot, I live by the rule, less is more. I do not want heavy fabrics. I do not want my clothes to touch me. In fact, if naked was an option, I’d (probably?) go with that.  My less-is-more attitude extends to pattern choices as well. I want a pattern that has style without structure. (Yes, that’s asking a lot.) And if it’s ‘fast and easy’, that’s even better! Who wants to be inside, bent over a sewing machine, when it’s beautiful outside?
DSC03099
This summer shift dress meets my very loose requirements. It’s a basic a-line with some soft tucks at the waist to give it a slight fit n’ flare shape. It’s made from a simple light-weight cotton, (purchased at Fabric Depot). I love this fabric because I can tell it will get softer with every wash. And it’s cotton. Sewing with cotton is always a breeze. I am such a fan…
For this dress, I used one of my ‘tried and true’ patterns, Butterick 5890, a top with tuck variations, sleeve variations and collar variations.
B5890 (1)B5890
I lengthened the tunic (view D), to make it a dress by adding 8″ to the length.
B5890 (2)
Then, to add a bit of interest, I decided to try a v-neck version. This modification was made by drawing a straight line from the edge of the inside shoulder seam to the center front seam (view D has one, which makes this pretty straightforward). Then, I added a 5/8 seam allowance so that I could add a facing to that edge. Using my straight edge, I cut a matching front facing with seams allowances as well.
DSC03098
For the sleeves, I used view A,  an option with armhole bands that are squared off. The arm bands are one of the reasons I love this pattern. They’re easy to sew, and they give the dress a bit of a vintage vibe.
DSC03090
To be honest, this dress was so easy to sew, I almost feel guilty about not challenging myself. My excuse? It’s summer! Challenges are for when it’s dark and dreary outside, right? All told, this dress took only about 3 hours from start to finish. When Butterick says, Fast and Easy, they aren’t kidding. Gotta love that! I chose a print for this dress, but I think a solid would work too (maybe some yummy linen or silk).
Do you prefer ‘fast and easy’ patterns in the summer? Or does the sunshine elevate your mood, giving you the energy for a challenge?

Thursday Tee: My world is blue…

My fondness (obsession?) with the summertime blues continues. You’d think I’d hit the reset button at some point and vary my wardrobe pallet a bit, wouldn’t you? Hey, I hear you, but the fact is, I just can’t help myself!
My thursday tee shows off my obsession. It includes several shades of blue; cobalt, navy, royal. Three blues in one top!  Could I be happier? You wouldn’t think so, but guess what? This tee is color blocked as well…Nirvana!
DSC02810
This pattern is Vogue 8817, a top designed by Katherine Tilton.
V8817
I’ve used this pattern before.  The Tilton sisters love to mix things up, so this pattern offers the opportunity to use several fabrics of contrasting colors or prints, and the back of the envelope includes yardage requirements for a variety of mix and match options, making life easier.The contrast pieces require as little as 3/8 a yard of fabric, which makes this pattern a stash buster. You can use up those tiny remnants in your stash that you couldn’t bear to toss out! Gotta love that….
V8817 (1)
I used cotton jersey for the bodice of the tunic, a mesh knit for the yoke, and jersey for the sleeve bands and yoke band. I’d tell you where I purchased the fabric if I could remember, but, hey, it’s all from my stash.
 For me, the best part of this ‘sew’ was mixing and matching  to create the contrasts that make this design unique. I used royal blue, navy blue and black on the sleeves, and black for the yoke band. Yes, I am burning through my stash and it feels so good!!
DSC02813
 Although the Tilton sisters (Marci and Katherine) design loose fitting patterns that an amazon could wear (they’re both tall and skinny, wouldn’t you know?), I’ve found that, with a few minor adjustments, their designs can work for a shrimp (5′ 3”) like me.  For this top, I adjusted the pattern as follows:
  • I reduced the width of the back by 5/8”. (My frame is small and my back is narrow.)
  • I reduced the bodice side seam dimensions by 5/8” (The patterns are usually designed for a loose fit, so there’s a bit too much in the bodice for my smallish frame).
IMG_1121
Once I made those adjustments, the pattern was super easy to put together – no zipper is required since it’s a pullover and the neck is stretchy. The yoke is fitted, which makes the shape of the top reminiscent of the fit and flare trend. It’s a nice look on anyone’s shape.
This pattern is becoming a favorite. It’s a basic tee that’s easy to embellish, so you can put your own unique spin on it. What are your favorite stash-busting patterns? What do you do with your remnants? I’d love some ideas, as well, I have (ahem) a few in my stash.
DSC02811This is me, contemplating remnants.
Thanks for stopping by!

A Lisette cutout frock for sunny California

I have been sewing like crazy because I’m going to Southern California in a couple of weeks, the land of sun and fun!  The weather will be outstanding – – guaranteed. What better excuse to sew with linen, right?

DSC03005 (1)
When I saw the newest Lisette dress/tunic pattern from Butterick this Spring, I immediately said, California here I come!
B6168
It had an unusual cross-over bodice with tucks, two design elements I couldn’t wait to try. Not only that, but a couple of yards of Cotton and Steel linen was calling to me from my stash (Call me a group if you must, but I’m addicted to Cotton and Steel fabric).
B6168 (1)
Butterick 6168 is a pattern designed by Liesl Gibson, of ‘Oliver +S’ fame. (check out the Liesl and Co. website for lots of inspiration!) At first glance, the pattern looks ‘easy’, and, in some ways, it is. There are no button holes, or collar points that require precision or patience. In other words, you don’t have to perform dangerous sewing feats to make this pattern.
B6168 (2)
But need I say? Looks can be deceiving! For a short bodice girl like me,  the challenge was in the fit.  The very things that attracted me to the pattern (criss-cross bodice and tucks) made it essential that I Go the Extra-Mile to create a trial bodice out of throw-away fabric.
Even though I cut the smallest size, the dress stuck out in the chest as though it expected Marilyn Monroe’s breasts to live there. Hilarious! So, I increased the depth of the tucks a bit, and the wrap worked fine. No gaps or embarrassing pointy areas. But, when I applied the same adjustments to my lust-worthy linen, I didn’t get the same results. I freaked. When I calmed down, though I had an epiphany. It was all about drape!!! My linen was stiffer than my ‘throw-away’ cotton, so the front stuck out again, begging that I bring more to the table than my ‘A’ cup breasts. Not going to happen.  So, I had to do a ‘tear down’ of my cleverly built bodice to adjust those tucks again. The good news – the problem was fixable.  It just took a bit of patience.
 DSC03006
 My advice? If you’re a bit ’non-standard’ in the chest/bodice area, Knock Out that Bodice in a remnant of throw-away cotton (that piece you wish you’d never purchased in the first place) with the same drape as your chosen fabric. That way, you won’t have a depressing mess on your hands.
DSC03011
After I adjusted the bodice, the dress went together nicely. If I was in the mood to be critical though, I’d say the pattern was designed with too many gathers in the skirt. When you stand to the side, you do look pregnant. I suppose, if you’re in a ‘family’ way, that’s cool. I am not. Of course, if you use a lightweight fabric, this problem might be less of an issue. Also, I did make it sleeveless in anticipation of Southern California heat.
All in all, it was a fun project that I learned a lot from. I’m sure I’ll wear this top again and again.  If you’re interested in making the dress yourself, there’s a Lisette Sew Along on their website.
Have you had issues with fabric drape before? What about chest/cup size adjustments? Any tips?

Thursday Tee: A season-flexible piece with swirls

This week’s tee is another stash buster, a project inspired by a remnant of mystery fabric I found in the (always seductive) remnant section at Fabric Depot. I bought it, not because I needed it (!), but because it’s embroidered with white flowers and swirls that look almost….french. Instant love! Of course, I indulged.

DSC02976

Because there was only a yard of it, I had to find a piece of coordinating fabric that would look as though it was from the same dye lot, a tall order any day. But a serious case of fabric love had me in a frenzy. In the matter of a couple of hours, I drove from one end of the Portland to the other in search of the perfect, coordinating solid. (BTW, I am spoiled. We have a half a dozen fabric stores in Portland.)
 Luckily, the fabric fairy granted me my one wish, and on the very same day, I stumbled into a cool store in my neighborhood called Bolt. There, I found it, an off-white cotton knit that felt soft and yummy, and (magically) matched my mystery fabric perfectly.  Given my frenzied state, you’d probably  expect that I’d cut that fabric the very same day. But I didn’t. I parked both pieces on a shelf and stared at them. Sometimes, I love a fabric so much, I just have to think about for, well, months.
B6134B6134 (1)
Butterick 6134 is the pattern I (finally) used for this off-white tee/top. It’s a fitted top with a raised neckline (which is why I bought it), front princess seams (what’s not to love about those), and a narrow hem. The pattern is designed for lightweight woven and stable knits, perfect given my fabric choices. I made view A, but lengthened the sleeves (Yes, I know it’s Spring, but this is Oregon, after all). To give the top a more polished look, I added cuffs to the sleeves, cut from the same mystery fabric.
IMG_1188
This was an easy, fast sew because the sleeves are raglan style, so you don’t have to set them in. The raised neckline is easy too, as it’s cut as part of the bodice rather than constructed. All told, I made this top in an afternoon – Instant gratification.
DSC02979
I’m in love with all shades of white these days, so this top will be worn alot. The long sleeves make it perfect, not only for Spring, but for Fall too. And I still love that fabric. But because I have no idea what it’s made of, I’ll have to resist the urge to toss it in the machine. Apparently, hand-washing is the downside of giving in to a mystery.
 Do you give into the lure of mystery fabric or have you been burned?

A gray jacket for…Spring? 

Yes, I know it’s the time of year for wearing bright colors like yellow and fuchsia and green. But gray? Not so much.

I ask…why not? Gray is a tried and true neutral, darn good company to just about any other color you can name. That’s why I decided to make a casual Spring jacket out of gray – -because it will go with every bright color you can conjure up.

DSC02865

Of course, it is May, an odd time of year to think about jackets and coats at all. Soon, the weather will be so warm, coats will be obsolete. Why by the end of the week, we’re promised eighty degree weather, even in Oregon! Still, promises are made to be broken. I suspect I’ll need to have a coat by my side for quite some time to come.
The pattern I used for this wrap jacket is Vogue 9037, a loose fitting, unlined double-breasted jacket with front and back tucks.
 DSC02913
 It was the tucks that did it. When I saw them, I fell like a fool for this jacket. Not only that, but the collar on View A, made it a must have too. It’s wide, but not too wide, with an unusual cut. The shaped hemline looked interesting too.
Because the jacket is unlined, I decided to use a double faced fabric, a ponte knit that I’ve had in my stash for so long, I can’t remember where it came from :). You know how it is. Honestly though, I wish I could remember, because this fabric is the perfect weight for Spring and a dream to work with. I’d love to have it in black or navy too.
 DSC02868
The pattern looked pretty straightforward, but I was a taken back (freaked!) when I read the warning on the pattern envelope though…No provisions provided for above waist adjustment! Noooooooo. Very bad news for a short-torso person like me!
Of course, I didn’t notice that horrid warning until I’d already cut the fabric….(Hmmmm. Perhaps I should slow down once in awhile and read the pattern instructions carefully before diving right in, maybe even trying it out with muslin?)
 DSC02863
Fortunately, there isn’t a tragic end to this story. I lucked out!!! The jacket fit like a dream with no adjustments.  The tucks are positioned just right for the likes of me.
The jacket was easy to sew and, since it’s a wrap style, there aren’t any buttonholes to make. Nice, eh? The tucks are easy too, especially if you mark the fabric well. My only regret is that I didn’t have enough fabric to make the tie belt as long as I would have liked.
I’m happy with the result and plan to make this pattern again, probably in the fall. If you need an easy-to-wear, throw on jacket, I highly recommend this one.
What do you think? Am I kidding myself about gray? Should my wrap jacket be shut away until fall?

Thursday tee: A sporty tee dress

DSC02883
Even if you don’t consider yourself an athlete, who can resist dressing like one from time to time? My Thursday tee is a sporty dress, a nod to the trend that gives us a chance to look fit and relaxed, even when we aren’t at the gym.
Since the sporty trend is strong, there’s plenty of inspiration in ready-to-wear.
Proenza Schouler gives a nod to fitness with this look.
_ON_0286
I love the color blocking here (It appears as though I will never get over my obsession). Another plus – – you could actually wear this dress with sneakers, if you wanted to. What’s not to like about that?
And here’s a cool dress from Jonathan Simkhai.
Jonathan_Simkhai_002_1366
You probably wouldn’t hit the gym in this one, but at least you look as though you’d like to!
 To make my sporty dress, I used Vogue 8817, a close fitting pullover top with neck binding, seam detail, and contrast variations. It was designed by Katherine Tilton, well-known for her  love of mixing colors and prints in blocks. So, even the pattern envelope includes yardage measurements for a variety of blocking options which makes the mix and match thing pretty easy to do.
DSC02884 (2)
I used a Ponte knit with moderate stretch for view C, an A-line shaped tunic. Although it’s designed to be a top, I lengthened the pattern to make it a dress, then added a hem band at the bottom for contrast.
This pattern was so easy, I finished it in an afternoon. Instant gratification!
And, the blocking variations make it the perfect pattern for (need I say it) stash busting. I was able to use a remnant of red knit from my stash for the contrasting bands and borders. Yahoo!
DSC02919
This dress is so comfortable, I’m sure I’ll wear it a lot this summer. The knit is just the right weight to make it an easy travel dress too. What about you? Do you like the sporty, active wear look? Thanks for stopping by……

A shift dress that mixes it up

DSC02799
How’s this for using up a bit of my stash?
As you all know, my stash reduction project is in full swing and this dress is the result of my new stash busting rule.
 During the summer, I can only buy a piece of fabric, if it replaces a piece of equal size. So, nothing comes in unless something goes out.
No doubt, keeping to my rule will be very, very hard.  Think of all of the summer clearance sales I’ll have to miss! But my stash will thank me. There are fabrics on my shelves that have lived there for over two years. They deserve a better life. They deserve to be worn.
That’s why this project made me feel a bit virtuous. To make this spring dress, I used almost two yards of fabric from my stash – – a yard and a half of floral cotton AND a half yard of a contrast cotton print for the sleeves and hem border. Two yards down!
  DSC02897
The pattern for this dress is McCall’s 6465, a loose fitting pullover dress with bust darts and short sleeves. The style is simple and basic, which makes this pattern a good template that’s easy to modify and embellish.
The neckline is what attracted me to this pattern initially. It’s wide enough to slip the dress over your head, but not really a scoop neck either. It’s almost a boat-neck, a shape I absolutely love. Other than shortening the bodice length a bit, I made no other adjustments to the pattern.
I love the crisp feeling of this cotton fabric, but there are alot of flowers on it (and you know how I feel about florals.) So, I decided to mix things up a bit by using a contrast print on the sleeves and hem border. It’s hard to see the details of the print in the photos, but it’s a black background that’s swirled with swooshes of gray. The sleeve hems are edged with solid black just to give it a bit of an edge.
DSC02907
This was a super easy pattern that you can make in an afternoon and it doesn’t have a zipper. Since this is the perfect time of year to be outside, I spend less time sewing, choosing projects that are simple and instantly gratifying. This one was perfect. You can finish it in a few hours then head outside!
Do you have a stash busting rule of your own? What kinds of sewing projects work for you when the weather is warm? Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday tee: A froufrou floral…tamed!

Floral prints mean Spring to me. They always tune my mind into thinking, warm (!), a must after spending the long winter buried under sweaters and fleece. By the time May rules around, I have a hard time believing ‘warm’ exists at all!

I love the optimism of a good floral, but to me, wearing one is a bit tricky. The wrong floral can make me look like my grandmother (loved you granny, but…). And if the print is too pastel, it makes me feel fussy rather than fresh.  So, I tend to gravitate to florals that include bold colors or where the froufrou feeling is tamed by a bit of black.
When it comes to fashion, here’s the good news. This Spring, there are zillions to choose from! That makes it easy to give in to their Spring-y optimism because you can find one that matches your favorite color palate. I love the bold florals by Celine and how they paired them with black to balance out their sweetness.
_MON0698
And the floral Antonio Marras used here is so fresh! It even has a cool seventies vibe.
MARC0203
When I shop for fabric, I approach any floral with a bit of trepidation, which I toss aside willingly when said floral looks like it will go with my everyday staple– my favorite jeans. So, when I saw this floral tee-shirt knit, I just had to have it. It’s a print that includes my favorite bold colors; cobalt blue, black and fuchsia, with a back drop of gray. Instant love! A must have! (And of course, price is no object at a moment like this.)
DSC02833
The pattern I used is Butterick 5890, a top with tucks to define the waist, and a number of sleeve variations. I used View C, a tee with a front center seam and two long tucks on either side. The pattern is designed for light weight wovens, but since my knit was stable, I decided it could pass as a woven in a pinch.
One great thing about this pattern – – It doesn’t require much fabric. Since I’m small/short person, it took less than a yard and a half to make this tee, a plus since I have many (many!!) pieces in my fabric stash that are about that size. Any project that contributes to my Stash Reduction Project gets bonus points from me.
DSC02832
To balance out the floral’s intrinsic sweetness, I cut the sleeves from a contrast fabric, a black solid. I also used black binding at the neck, and at the hem to give the tee a bit more edge and shape.
The pattern went together quickly (an easy afternoon sew) and the tucks were easy once I had the fabric well marked. The trickiest part for me was raising the waist position, a must since I’m short waisted. Once I figured that out, it was a breeze. Oh, and because my fabric had a bit of stretch, I cut the pattern one size smaller to adjust for that.
It’s a comfy tee that goes well with dark pants, dark skirts, and (of course) my trusted jeans, which balances out the frofrou floral. But even with the black contrast, the tee still says Spring to me- – which is why this top belongs outside, swinging in the warm breeze….
DSC02918
Are you wild about this season’s florals, or do you think they belong in the past?

Thursday Tee: Color Block Love

Today’s tee is color blocked. The truth is, I love a good color blocked garment and probably will until I’m pushing up daisies. As trends go, it has a lot to offer, as well-placed blocks of color can shape your figure so that it looks like you wish it did!  Subtle combos look classic. More dramatic ones can attract attention.
But for those of us who sew, color blocking has an even deeper purpose. It gives you an opportunity to use all of those random pieces of fabric in your stash that are too boring to use alone! You know the ones -those small remnants of solids in safe colors like black and taupe and gray (sigh). I have so many, I could swear they’re reproducing.
Since I’m a bit color-block-obsessed,  I was thrilled to see the trend featured in a few designer collections this Spring. Some used big swaths of bold, bright color. I love these pieces by Roksanda Ilincic. The color combinations are unexpected, but really cool.
        54ac3aa40be08_-_elle-10-rainbow-roksanda-illincic-v-elv
image
 She is the queen of color blocking, no?
Top Shop played with the trend here; sporty and effective.
54ac3a983757d_-_elle-08-rainbow-topshop-unique-v-elv
Even J. Crew paired colors in interesting ways.  image
Okay. After looking at these exciting, edgy pieces, my color blocking moment looks a bit dull in comparison (LOL)  But, hey, it’s a start, right?
DSC02775
When I experiment with color blocking, I like to keep it simple by applying some loose rules. I pick three colors, and often keep them in the same color family. (But after seeing the color blocking examples I posted here, I doubt I’ll stick to this rule in the future. Bravery has its rewards. Am I right?) When it comes to design, I choose simple patterns so that the color combination is what the eye sees.
DSC02776
The pattern I used for this tee is McCalls’ 7093, a top/tunic that’s semi-fitted with front seam detail that makes it ideal for color blocking. I chose version B, a short sleeved tee with low pockets in the front.
Keeping with my cautious design aesthetic (in other words, I’m a chicken), I used three colors; black, brown and white for accent. The black and brown fabric is woven rayon, purchased at Fabric Depot but the white is the last piece of linen knit I bought in Capri a little over a year ago (wish I’d bought more!).
DSC02778
The pattern was fun and easy to sew, but the best part was that buzz you get when you play around with fabric combinations, using up a bit of your unwieldy stash in the process! I sewed the pattern as designed with a few slight modifications:
  •  I cut the sleeves a bit longer by adding a inch in the length.
  • I added a 1” sleeve band to the sleeve for finish.
This was a fun project and I will likely make this pattern again. Next time though, I’ll make it a little shorter. And I swear, my color blocked version will be a bit more adventuresome too. No more ‘safe’ choices for me!(?)
What about you? Do you like to experiment with color blocking? What patterns/colors have you tried?
Thanks for stopping by!