Vogue 8831: A sweater knit top with zippers

IMG_7063 (1)

Since I don’t knit, I’ve become a huge fan of sweater knits. With only a few yards of the cozy stuff, you can cut and sew almost any style sweater you want. Here, in rainy Oregon, a person can NEVER have too many sweaters.

For this top, I used two coordinating sweater knits from my fabric stash (yay); a striped textured knit for the bodice, and a solid sweater knit for the arms and cowl. For fun, I also added a couple of pockets to the bodice, sewn from a untextured knit of solid black.

IMG_7222

I used the same fabric to add sleeve bands, and, because I’d fallen in love with a RTW top with zipper detail at the hem (it didn’t fit, rats), I added two seven inch zippers to the princess seams at the hem.

IMG_7270

The pattern I used is Vogue 8831,  a top with princess seams and a cowl neck. I’ve made it before here, and will likely do so again as I love the cowl neck and the princess seams in the bodice.

V8831

Because this sweater knit was so loosely woven, I added stabilizer to the seams before stitching in the zippers. This gave the fabric enough body to support the weight of the zipper and also helped protect the seam from unraveling. I also finished all the seams with an overlock stitch. I love sweater knit, but when it’s loosely woven, it can be a bit….touchy.   I was really glad I chose a pattern that I knew well, because the stitches seemed to just disappear into the fabric. If I’d had to unpick any of those seams, it would have been a night mare!

IMG_7228

I learned a bit more about sweater knits as I worked on this project. The things I want to remember for my next project include:

  1. Always use the right needle. On this project, a jersey needle worked best.
  2. Finish the raw edges to keep the weave together.
  3. Stabilize seams and hems (especially if they have to carry the weight of a zipper ).
  4. Try not to pull the knit as you sew. It does stretch and can lose its shape (My hem isn’t as perfect as I’d like because I stretched it out when I put the zippers in.)
  5. Keep your cat out of the sewing room especially if he’s orange and his name is Dustin.IMG_7077

Putting in the zippers required a bit of thought and added some extra steps, but I’m glad I did. I like the look of the zippers and they make the top a bit unusual. To change up the look, I can wear it with the zippers open or closed. And if I eat too much, hey, all I have to do to get a bit of room is to unzip. Ha! Too bad I didn’t have this top to wear over the holidays!

I still have quite a bit of winter sewing to do, but the linens and cottons in my stash are calling me. Pretty soon, I’ll just have to give in and shift my focus. My spring plans are to make a couple of light weight dresses and tops that will travel well. And pants! I have to find a pants pattern that I love. Recommendations are appreciated!

I’d love to hear about your sweater knit experiences and if you’ve found any secrets to success. Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by…

 

 

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……

Thursday Tee: An every day top with a bit of an Attitude 

Thursday is tee-day, a day for celebrating the type of sewing project I love the most – – Tops and Tees. It seems as though one never has enough!! Besides that, they’re fun to create, fast to sew, and (usually) immediately gratifying.
For me, my five star tees work hard to earn that distinction. A good one has a bit of style, yet it can be worn so many ways; with cropped pants, skirts, jeans, even (sometimes?) alone. They can be layered under sweaters, jackets, even under another tee.
If only we as people could be as flexible/versatile as our favorite tees!
DSC02733
The story behind this one: There once was a tee….  I loved/wore it to death, a jersey top purchased at Anthro several seasons ago. It was so comfortable, I wanted to wear it every day. In fact, I  must have come close to doing just that, because (finally), all the frequent washings did it in. I looked for another one online, but, (you know the story), the style had been discontinued. Gnashing of teeth! I loved that top.
Taking that as I sign from the sewing gods that I should try to copy it, I made a grand effort. I took the old top apart seam by horrid seam (Do not try this at home.) Then, I tried to draft a pattern from the poor, tattered pieces. More gnashing of teeth. Let’s just say, the outcome was hilarious, a screaming failure that could be on ‘what not to wear’, but will not be posted here :).
Then, I saw the NEW patterns for Spring! The Vogue release had a style that looked just like it, Vogue 9056, a ‘very easy’ pullover top with raised waist and a flounce. I rushed out and paid Full Price for the pattern because I had to have it NOW.
 DSC02735The tee goes to the Kitchen…
The results were worth it. This pattern has the look I was after. It’s a relaxed every day top with a bit of an attitude.
Even though the image on the pattern envelope (view B) showed the top in a striped fabric, I wasn’t sure I wanted my first effort to be so challenging. But a certain piece of striped Italian knit called to me from my stash (purchased at this Puyallup Sewing and Stitchery Expo, an awesome experience, check it out). So I jumped right in.
The pattern was easy to lay out, in spite of the inherent care that’s necessary when you are working with stripes. It was super fast and easy sew to sew too, as it has only four (!) pattern pieces. What’s not to like about that? The hem of the garment is machine stitched, as are the sleeve hems. The neck is finished similarly, so it’s an easy sew. Time from cut to finish was about three hours.Even though my knit had moderate stretch, it worked well for the pattern. It’s a lightweight fabric with a nice drape, which is important given the top’s bottom flounce.
DSC02727the tee in nature
Instant Tee Love!!! This is an easy tee, a comfortable wardrobe staple worthy of frequent wearing. I’m already eyeing my (huge) fabric stash, planning my next project with this pattern, probably the sleeveless version (View A) with a v-neck, because we will (!)  have a hot summer in Oregon.
 I’d love to hear about your favorite tee pattern. Please share, and thanks for stopping by!

Not Your Mother’s Peplum

During one of my recent jaunts into the enticing, instantly gratifying world of ready-to-wear, I heard a discussion through a thin dressing room wall (which is not really eavesdropping, right?). “You absolutely cannot wear that,” one woman said to another. “It’s a peplum and they are a fashion NO!”

It was an interesting statement, one that begged for debate, or at least, extensive internet research. So, I perused the designer collections for Spring, and discovered that there could be a bit of truth to that. The old, more extreme peplum look does seem to be gone.
But now, there’s a new peplum in town. It’s less of a waist defining shape. It seems lower, a bit looser, and a little less (dare I say), prissy than the ones that came before.
Here’s one from Marni that I fell hard for.
MAR_0651
Another from Thakoon that could live in my closet if it wanted to.
503702568_1_topcropfront
Cute shorts too.
After all that research, I had to make one of my own. The pattern I used is Vogue 8815, a fitted top with a raised wast, long front darts for shaping, and a narrow hem. I chose view C because it had an interesting, less traditional look.
DSC02697
I used a lightweight cotton purchased from Fabric Depot that is a dusty denim blue (I hope to some day get over my denim obsession). Not only did I buy it because it’s Blue, but because it has a dot pattern imprinted on the fabric that I love. I used a similar solid cotton for the sleeves.
DSC02694
The pattern was easy to put together. Although view C is a pullover, I added a zipper in the back, just because it felt more finished that way.  I cut the smallest size (8) and adjusted the side seams for fit, since I’m usually a 6 through the back.
The peplum fit onto the bodice perfectly. On view C, it doesn’t extend to the back which makes the whole process easy and fast. The neck is finished with seam binding, also easy and fast. The hemline is lower in the back than the front, which gives it a bit of an edge. Cool, but it’s something to keep in mind when you choose the fabric though, as the wrong side shows.
DSC02700
 I think I like the look of a looser peplum as it feels fresh and different. This is an easy top to wear, so comfortable you could eat Thanksgiving dinner and still be able to breathe! I’ll probably have to make another, soon.
How do you feel about peplums? Has it been done to death, or do they still have a place in your heart?

Shift dress: Then and Now

I must be watching too many Mad Men reruns, because this week, I found myself crafting my very own shift dress!

And I’m not the first person to want this look. Audrey did.AHepburn21_V_18Nov11_rex_b_426x639

Twiggy did.Twiggy-201x300

Jean Shrimpton did too.JShrimpton3_V_23jan12_pa_b_426x639

Pretty good company, if I had to say. It’s a timeless shape and the look is easily modified with a belt, or a bit of bling. The look became popular in the sixties when Audrey Hepburn wore a black one designed by Givenchy in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

This week, I made my own shift dress out of a woven fabric, a chambray that looks like light-weight denim, purchased at Fabric Depot.

DSC02571

I used Vogue 8840 as the base of my design, a pattern for a drop-shoulder tunic with sleeves. I lengthened the pattern, then embellished it with pockets with buttons, and cuffs on the sleeves.

DSC02458

 

I self drafted the pockets by cutting seven-inch squares. I added flaps that by free cutting four triangles from the fabric, then faced them by sewing them together. I added the buttons after the fact because I thought the pockets looked boring without them.

The double top stitching came to me after shopping ready to wear. I tried on a similar dress and noticed how the stitching seemed to make the details stand out. Top stitching is mindless, but satisfying, don’t you think? And it’s a easy to do while you watch old movies, a huge plus as far as I’m concerned!

Shift dresses are so easy to wear. I also could belt this and wear it over leggings in the fall. DSC02457

After all, Audrey Hepburn belted hers! And who doesn’t want to be like her?

What about you? Do you like the shift dress look? Who do you think did it better? The girls in the sixties, or us?  Do you have a favorite shift dress pattern?