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!

Tops That Pop – Kimono Wrap Top

IMG_1168Hi all – I love a good challenge and so I couldn’t resist the #Tops that Pop challenge, created by the talented Faye of Faye’s Sewing Adventures. What a brilliant theme! Who doesn’t want to sew a top?

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I’ve been wanting a kimono sleeved wrap top for the longest time, so I was thrilled to find McCall’s 7627 on sale at Joann’s.

 

When I first looked at it, I didn’t think it was the pattern of my dreams, primarily because I was focussed on the statement sleeves that went with view B. Yes, those sleeves are interesting and very fashion forward, but I can tell you, they are just too much for me :).  So I combined the sleeve in view D with the short wrap bodice of version of View B.

Fitting Challenges: Because I’m short-waisted, fitting a wrap dress/top is a bit tricky. On this dress, after a paper fitting, I could see the waist was way too long, so I shortened the bodice by a full inch. My other fitting dilemma on wrap dresses is that I usually get a front gap at the neck because I have narrow shoulders. To prevent this, I took out a 5/8″ in the back shoulders. This helped tremendously.

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Fabric: McCall’s suggests crisp fabrics for this top. I chose a softer rayon (Fabric Depot) because I wanted it to look drape-y.  I love this rayon – it’s so soft and comfortable and was a dream to sew.

The pattern was pretty well designed and the instructions were clear. I’m not wild about the darts at the shoulder though….not sure why they’re necessary since they aren’t very flattering.

 

IMG_1212 All in all, I do think this pattern is a keeper. I may make the dress version at some point, and may take out the shoulder pleats. But there are so many patterns and so little time, so who knows if I’ll make it back to this one again.

Thanks to Faye for creating this fun challenge. She’s posting all of the #Tops that Pop on her blog, and there’s lots of inspiration there.

Happy sewing, and thanks for stopping by!

Putting Fushia Linen To Good Use

 

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I have a new favorite color; fuschia.  This fuschia linen jacket takes me back to my first handmade effort years ago, a Vogue Perry Ellis jacket pattern that I fussed over because it was so expensive! Everything about that project felt special to me, so I visited a specialty fabric store and splurged on three yards of beautiful fuschia linen. At that point in my life, I had an entry level job with a corresponding salary, so I was necessarily frugal and so nervous when I cut into that expensive fabric. Such a risk!! Even now, after years of sewing, that same quiver hits me when I cut into a favorite piece.

That was certainly the case with this lovely linen!

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When I shop for linen at the fabric stores in Portland, earthy, natural colors are easy to come by, but it’s hard to find vibrant, rich brights! So, I was so thrilled when I found this linen on-line (Fabric.com),  on sale at the end of last summer.

The pattern I chose for my casual jacket is one I’ve sewn before (here), McCalls 7333.  I loved and wore that jacket so much, I was really eager to try the pattern again.

 

There are many reasons to love this design; the drawstring waist, the off shoulder look, the tab sleeves, but I’m crazy about this magnificent hood!

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I’m not sure why I love hoods so much. Maybe it’s because I live in the Pacific Northwest where Rain Rules. Whatever the reason, I’m a fan of this one. I love the way the collar drapes nicely into the jacket lapel; so relaxed yet stylish.

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About the Pattern: The instructions were easy to follow. I found the sizing straightforward, but generous (XS-XXL). The style is very loose and the collar gives weight at the neck, making it quite wide, so if you cut a size too large, it could easily slip off your shoulders. Since I have narrow shoulders, I took 5/8 from the shoulders. I also cut a size smaller than my measurements, and it’s still a good fit.

One nice detail with this pattern is the two-piece sleeves with button cuffs. They add a polished element that gives this loose jacket some structure. They wereeasy and simple to insert as are the buttoned cuffs.

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It’s definitely linen season here (finally!) and I think this pattern was the perfect use for my cherished fabric. I’m wearing this jacket here with my Ginger jeans, which are in heavy rotation in my wardrobe! There’s another pair of those in my future too.

On my sewing table:  I’ve just cut out a Blackwood cardigan, and a new springy top for Faye’s Tops that Pop challenge (lots of inspiration on her blog)! Look for those posts soon. I’m also planning an update on my RTW fast experience and will be participating with Me-Made-May.

I love linen, and am always happy to find a new style that works with it. I have another green piece in my stash that I’ve been considering for a bright Spring trench. To do so, I’d have to underline the coat, I think, since linen is crisp but maybe not quite crisp enough. Have any of you ever underlined linen?

Happy Spring 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!

 

First Make of 2018, Goals and a Few Reflections

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It feels good to be back to blogging after the holidays! I love the parties and fun but I’m very ready to move on, to get back to the routine and back to the sewing room. So, I’m happy to welcome 2018 with a new make, a few goals and some reflections too.

I took a moment to look back on my 2017 makes (here’s my top five)  and was not surprised to discover I sewed more tops than anything else. That’s easy to predict since I spend a lot of time wearing pants and jeans, not because it’s my ‘look’, but because I live in a damp, chilly climate that makes pants a necessity. A fun, new top is an easy way to change-up my wardrobe without much fuss. That being said, the large number of tops in my closet played a big part in my goals for 2018;

  • Sew more pants! Last year, I made only two pair plus a pair of Jalie stretch jeans (!!). In 2018, I’d like to find a couple of other patterns to call tried and true. This will be important if I’m going to be successful with goal number two which is….(drum roll)…
  • To participate in the 2018 RTW fast (Thanks, Goodbye Valentino for inspiring me!). Basically, I will not being buying any clothes this year, so I’ll need to stitch up a couple of pairs of pants if I’m going to survive a year without Anthropologie (can it be done? We’ll see….).
  • Challenge myself with at least two sewing contests, four if I can manage it.
    • In 2017, I participated in the Pattern Review Wardrobe Sudoku and the plaid contest. Both competitions were really fun and they  pushed me out of my comfort zone a little too. I had to stretch my sewing skills a bit to keep up, so I’d like to do more next year.
  • Stash Bust: Sure, I could try to give up fabric purchases for awhile, but a year without that pleasure would be a truly horrifying thing for me! So, I will compromise with this rule. I will sew two items from stashed fabric for every one fabric purchase.
  • Sew a trench coat. I’ve always wanted to make one, a Burberry knock off would be great! See how inspiring they are?
  • Sew a couple of cool bags with lots of details. Ideas of patterns to try anyone?
  • Sew with a plan 50% of the time: Last year I sewed with a plan for a trip to Spain and Portugal, which really paid off. I had a great travel wardrobe that was comfortable and made me feel put together, even when I wasn’t, LOL. I will do the same with a couple of trips this year. However, sewing with a plan all the time cannot be a goal for me. Too much planning can destroy my sew-jo. I kid you not. When I think about what I’m going to sew too much, every decision overwhelms me and I end up doing, well…. nothing!  So, I will allow myself time to sew ‘whatever suits my fancy’ too, because spontaneity and sewing in the moment is the fun of it for me.

In summary; I was pretty productive in 2017, and hope to do the same in 2018, balancing hard projects like coats with ‘easy sews’ like tops and skirts. My blogging goals are to improve my photos and my regularity, although I didn’t do too bad last year.

Now about this top….

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I found this sweater knit at Fabric Depot this fall. Immediately, I could see it as another version of McCalls 7501, a knit dress/top pattern that I made before and wore constantly because it’s cozy and comfortable, especially with a tee under it. This fabric caught my eye because it reminded me of sweater I saw at Anthropologie. McCalls 7501 is a favorite pattern now because I love view B, the wide collar option. The collar becomes such a cozy detail when sewn from a textured sweater knit.

This pattern is a fun, quick sew. It even has Raglan sleeves! Trust me, you can make this in an afternoon!

I hope your new year is off to a great start! I’d love to know what you think of my goals – – especially my RTW fast! Am I …..crazy? 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!

 

 

‘Tis the Season for Flannel

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Hi All! I’ve been traveling on the East Coast this week, where the below freezing temperatures have encouraged me to think about the benefits of a wardrobe dominated by flannel.  It’s certainly not a bad thing as there’s nothing more comfortable to wear! This plaid flannel has been hiding in my stash for a couple of years. I found it when I was putting away my lightweight warm weather fabrics in favor of heavier fall and winter options. I had exactly a yard and a half and it was only 45″ wide. What to do….

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Even though it’s flannel, the turquoise plaid made me think of a top with feminine details like bell sleeves so I went to my pattern stash to find a tried and true pattern, McCall’s 7542 (two other versions made here ). It has a number of sleeve options, none of them quite right for a cozy fall/winter top.

 

So, I went for View D, but decided I needed long sleeves. To do that, I lengthened the sleeve by 4″ before attaching the bell. To make the bell a bit more dramatic, I increased the width to ten inches.

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I do love this McCall’s pattern, but have never been wild about the boxy shape with my waistless figure. So, I cut the longer length option on the bodice, then widened it by four inches at the waist. That allowed me some room to insert two six-inch long pinch pleats on either side of the waist. I like this look because it pulls that boxy bodice in a bit, giving the illusion of a waist. To further accentuate it, I inserted a tie at the side seam right at the waist. I’m such a fan of adding in ties at the side seam…they never get lost!

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This was a fun, easy sew, because there isn’t a zipper or buttons. The simple neck opening is fastened with a hook and eye.

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I love my new flannel top, and know it will just get softer and cozier as I wash and wear it. Flannel is such a great fabric and it’s nice to find another other way to have it in my wardrobe besides the classic button down shirt. I have a few more pieces of plaid flannel in my stash and I’d love some ideas of what to do with them.What are you sewing with flannel these days?

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!

 

Remnant Busting Tops Inspired by Anthro

Peplum tops are still in style! I swear it’s true. Just when I thought they were ‘out’, Anthropologie added a category under ‘tops’ called ‘peplums and swing tops’. That’s where I found this inspiring photo.4112368730007_041_b2

What caught my eye was the fact that the bodice fabric did not match the peplum. In fact, it’s not even in the same color family. So easy, and cute! That photo inspired me to dig through my remnant stash.

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This one has a sweatshirt fleece bodice and a cotton jersey sleeve with a rayon jersey peplum. As luck would have it, the black dye used in those two mismatched jerseys was a close match. I used some random black ribbing in my stash for the neck. I managed to squeeze the bodice out of a little over a half yard.

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This off-white version is a ponte knit bodice with a ribbed knit skirt, cuffs and neck. I made it specifically to go under this cardigan sweater (posted here) which matches the boots I bought in Spain this summer. IMG_3682

The pattern is one I’ve made before, Vogue 9056. It’s a pretty quick make ( a couple of hours if you’re comfortable with sewing tops).  I modified it as follows – –

  • Added 4″ in length to the bodice (it’s still pretty cropped),
  • Added a 3″wide neck band at the neck.
  • Added 4 ” ribbed cuffs on the off white version.
  • Raised the neck opening by 2 inches (it was just too wide on me.) IMG_3835

It’s hard to see in all the photos, but an interesting thing happened when I stretched the ribbing to attach the skirt to the off-white ponte knit bodice. It had an interesting effect on the ribbing that makes the stripes look sort of….artsy?  It was an accident but I like how it looks, although I do think I prefer the black version.

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Remnants are something that most sewers have a philosophy about. I have rules about mine. If I have a piece that is 1/2 yard or more when I finish a project, and I really love it, I’ll keep it for one year. If it’s still around at that point, it goes to the donation bin.  I have alot of remnants right now though, so not sure if my rule is working (LOL!!). I’m curious how others manage their remnants – toss or keep?

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

Jersey and Fall: Two Variations

There’s nothing like Fall to get the sew-jo going, is there? At this time of year, fabric choices are at their best for me. The color palattes tend to be richer and more intense, which works best with my personal color palatte and there are more knits to choose from too.

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This jersey knit is great to wear, but the print is a bit out of my comfort zone.  For one thing, it has alot (!!) of circles all over it, which makes layout a bit tricky around the chest, if you get my drift. And it’s sort of…busy? But I loved the colors, so in a fit of inspiration, I drove back to Fabric Depot and took the plunge. I’m glad I did, because this print goes so well with the long cardigan I made last Spring (here). This cardigan is not a closet orphan, BTW. I wear it all the time.

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The dress above is simply a lengthened version of this tunic, made from jersey. IMG_3210

This cotton jersey is so fabulous to wear! And I love this Art Gallery print (Fabric Depot).

I’m such a fan of tunics because they’re so easy to throw on with jeans or leggings. When I finished this tunic, I decided I needed another version, pronto, so I lengthened the pattern by 8 inches and made a dress . The pattern is a new favorite: New Look 6435.

I wasn’t attracted to it at first because I don’t like the way it’s made up on the envelope – I’m not a big fan of the print on the bottom/solid color on the top. Somehow though, the pattern came home with me….

The fit was great without any adjustments, always a plus for me. New Look runs a bit big, so I always cut the smallest size. The shoulders fit me perfectly, even though I’m on the narrow side. It’s a fairly loose fit, so there’s a bit of wiggle room, making this an easy-to fit style for most figures. I modified the sleeves on both my dress and tunic by adding a bell cuff.

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Although I love the dramatic look of a big bell cuff, I chose a smaller version here so that the sleeves would fit easily under a cardigan. To add the cuffs, I just cut a seven inch swath of fabric, as wide as 1 1/2 X the width of the sleeve. I seamed it to make a circle, gathered one edge, then inserted it into the sleeves, right sides together.

This was a fast and fun sew and I love a pattern than can have two identities as both a top and a dress. I think this pattern is a winner!

I love how statement sleeves change up a style. But I worry that they’ll go out of fashion quickly and my closet will feel dated. Hmmmm, what do you think of sewing to a trend? Trouble, or true love? Future plans – – I’ve been loving all the denim on the runways this fall, so I’m going to attempt a Maisa jacket (Named clothing) and a Helmi shirt dress to wear with it. Stay tuned! What’s in your queue?

Happy sewing, and thanks for stopping by!