Thursday Top: A Little White Shirt (Simplicity 1694)

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By now, we’ve all heard of the LWD (Little White Dress), this Spring’s alternative to the Little Black Dress. But after a recent review of my wardrobe, I realized I needed a LWS, (Little White Shirt) in the worst way. Scary fact – – I have a million tees and more than a million dresses in my closet, but hardly any shirts. Why? Because I sew without a plan.
My sewing is inspired by many things: cool fabric, impulse buys, a great project I saw on someone else’s blog, an Ready-To-Wear item that I’m determined to ’sew for less’. But need? Never, a fact that has consequences. My wardrobe is a bit of a mash up. What to do? Sew!
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Given the fact that the temperatures are well above 90 degrees, I decided to use some very lightweight embroidered cotton in my stash to make a summer-friendly, white shirt that would work with a pair of shorts I never wear because they’re separates without a match.
I chose an embroidered, lightweight cotton from my stash that I found at Fabric Depot. As usual, when I found this fabric, I made an Impulse-Buy. So, I didn’t have quite enough to make what I really wanted, a shirt with rolled-up sleeves and tabs. Also, the fabric’s cool embroidery detail is on the fabric’s border, so laying out the pattern was a bit tricky (similar to the issue I had with my kimono), and I used more than I meant to. So, I was forced to use a different fabric for the yoke and pockets.
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I had a bit of white textured cotton, a remnant left over from another project, so I used that. In hindsight, having too little fabric might have been a good problem to have,  because the textured cotton makes the pockets stand out a bit more.
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The pattern: Simplicity 1694, a loose-fitting button down shirt with sleeve variations, collar variations and length variations. It was pretty easy to sew and the instructions were very clear.
The fabric: Lightweight cotton with a very wide embroidered border. I used vintage buttons I had in my stash.
Modifications: None! For once, it fit without any adjustments or changes. The sleeves are 3/4 length, but I rolled them up for the photos because it’s so hot outside.
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I think this pattern will become a Tried and True. I’d like to make it again, a longer version that can be tucked in, maybe in chambray with long sleeves.
Do you sew to fill a need in your wardrobe, or are you a bit random about the whole thing?
Stay Cool! 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.

This Thursday’s Top is Simplicity 1693; Black + White = Cool

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This week marks the sun’s Big Debut here in Portland. We’re expecting a weekend sizzler with temperatures over 100 degrees! Panic! We are wimps, so a forecast like that can cause a bit of freak out around here. We faint at the mere idea of a hot day, and if you throw humidity into the mix, trust me. The streets of our fair city will be deserted. Everyone will be holed up in their air- conditioned houses with fans humming.
I, on the other hand, will be feeling fresh as a daisy, dressed in summer’s perfect fabric – – linen!
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In anticipation of the heat, I crafted a new frock for my Thursday Top – – a three-hour wonder with an a-line shape that’s sure to please. I had great fun making this easy piece. I used three fabrics (3!!); two prints and a solid, making this project a Stash Busting Gem.
Pattern:  I used Simplicity 1693. It’s a  top with length, sleeve and waist variations. It was simple to sew and the instructions were clear.
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Style: 
If there was a Best Top for Any Figure competition, I’d have to nominate this one for the title. It’s simple, to be sure, an A-line that’s fitted at the yoke and slightly flared at the bottom. What’s not to like about that? This top accentuates the good parts of our figures, while forgiving the not-so-good parts.
Modifications:
Yoke: Because I wanted to use some remnants in my stash, I cut the one-piece bodice into two pieces –  a yoke and lower bodice. To do this, I made a cut across the bodice, eight inches from the neck, remembering to add 5/8 “ on both pieces for the seam allowances.
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Front stripe: To make the front stripe of fabric, I cut a 4″wide piece of  fabric  the length of the center front. I turned under the edges and edge stitched it before sewing it to the Center Front of the garment (An easy way to mark the stripe’s placement is to press in the center fold, and use that line as your guide when applying the stripe).
 Fabric: The bodice and sleeves are linen, purchased at Fabric Depot, the yoke and stripe are japanese cotton, purchased at the sewing expo. All of it breathes and is super comfortable to wear.
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So, bring it on, Mr. Sun! I am ready!
What’s your favorite style of pattern to sew with linen? What’s your favorite shape for your figure?
Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

A print with an identity crisis

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I can’t decide what this print is; an artistic print or an animal skin print! Whatever you want to call it, the print is not for the faint of heart. The swaths of cobalt blue and black are bold and eye- catching. No blending in when you wear this… My husband will be able to find me, no matter how large the crowd!
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I chose this print because I’m obsessed with blue, and the cobalt in this print is to-die-for. But the print is a bit wild with animal print spots and wide, bold brush strokes of color.  At first, I wasn’t sure it would ever move from ‘stash’ to ‘wardrobe’.
But then, I saw the BCBG Spring collection. Inspiration!  Bold prints were everywhere. It helped me see that, yes, this fabric did have possibilities. I could actually wear it.
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The BCBG collection convinced me that, when it comes to prints, a simple style is best. So, the pattern I chose was McCall’s 7126, a sculpted peplum with neck and sleeve variations,  princess seams, and hem variations. The front is lined, and it’s finished with a narrow hem.
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The challenge was in the pattern layout. I didn’t want to make the horrid mistake of positioning the pattern on the print in a way that would bring attention to parts of my figure best left unnoticed (short waists, anyone?). Also, I didn’t want too much chaos at the neckline so that I could take advantage of the scoop and wear a bold necklace.
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After playing around with the pattern through two (2!!) episodes of Game Of Thrones, I decided I was overthinking things a bit (ya think?). So I (finally) just went for it!
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Thoughts on the pattern: I was a bit concerned about the lined bodice, since this is a knit. I thought maybe it would be hard to get a smooth finish, or that it would be uncomfortable to wear. But neither of those concerns were warranted.  The lining didn’t bunch, since I used tricot as the pattern suggested and it added a bit of body, balancing the stretchiness of the knit. And I do like the way the bodice feels when I wear it – – so, so comfy, not binding at all! Overall, it was easy to sew.
Adjustments made: The only adjustment I made to the pattern was my usual narrow shoulder/back adjustment. I cut a size six (my usual) and it fit well.
Finished product? The fit of the pattern is good, and the design is super comfortable. Although the print is bold, it’s fun and sort of…energizing. It looks okay with a dark, solid pant/skirt, so I think I’ll wear it a lot.
Conclusion! This was a worthwhile project! And, I’m burning through my stash and feeling the lightness that comes with having less fabric :).
Are you a fan of bold prints, or do you find them challenging to sew with?
Thanks for stopping by 🙂

Kimono sleeves or bell sleeves? That is the question!

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For months, I was sure the sleeves on this top were called ‘kimono sleeves’ until I was corrected by a clerk in a local fabric store. “No,” she insisted. “Those are NOT kimono sleeves. Kimono sleeves are cut as part of the bodice. Those are definitely bell sleeves.”

Really? I was doubtful. But, well, yes. According to the Craftsy website, she was 100% correct. Bell sleeves are are always narrow at the shoulder, wide at the bottom and they are never cut as part of the bodice. Live and learn.
For me, the Bell sleeves are the major attraction of this otherwise simple top.
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I fell in love with those fun sleeves all over again this Spring, when I noticed them in the Chanel resort collection.
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And this is by Oscar de la Renta….
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 I’ve been a bit obsessed ever since for reasons I can’t explain. Perhaps, it’s because they’re a bit retro?
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Or is because they’re so comfortable? Who knows?
I used Butterick 6175 for my bell sleeved top, a semi fitted pullover top with sleeve variations.
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Since the top has a very simple design, it seemed to be the perfect opportunity to use a not-so-simple fabric. So, I chose a Japanese border print I had in my stash. It has a large floral design as the main motif, with a contrasting (but subtle) checkered print as the border. I cut  the bodice from the flowered motif and the sleeves from the checkered border.
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The tricky part was laying the pattern out in a way that captured the directional focus of the floral print. Because the pattern’s ‘repeat’ is widely spaced, it was a bit tricky, since I’d purchased a (very) scant yard and a quarter (when will I learn to buy a little extra to be on the safe side?). I also wanted some pattern at the neck for interest.
After struggling for well over an hour to get it right, I decided, I’d had enough torture for one day. So, I simplified things and made the liberating decision to cut the sleeves from the contrasting border print, which didn’t have a pattern repeat to contend with.
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 I made one slight variation to the pattern. I skipped the back neck line slit, as I am not a fan of that look and used a short zipper in the back instead.
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The construction of the top was easy. But do I like the finished product? Hmmmm.  I’m not altogether sure. In hindsight, a boxy, cropped top probably isn’t the best choice for a short-waisted girl like me.  But I do like the fabric, so I’ll probably wear this top, anyway. I guess I could always add a couple of eyelash darts to the back to give it a bit more shape (?). Regardless, the project was worth the effort as I learned a lot from the challenges posed by choosing a fabric that has a one way print with a repeating pattern. Next time (if there is a next time) I vow to buy way more fabric than I think I need!!  And, I do love those sleeves!
How do you modify patterns to make them less boxy? Or do you just skip the look? Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday tee: A gauzy top keeps its cool

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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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!
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Do you have tops that you’ll love forever? Or are you as fickle as I am?
Happy summer and thanks for stopping by!