New Look 6296

I couldn’t resist this pink unicorn fabric on my last shopping trip.  My girls are super into unicorns – like everyone else right now.  Normally, they hate to be all matchy-matchy, but they both loved the fabric.  For my older daughter, I made view C.  My younger daughter got the dress (view B).

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I also had a little bit of this tie dye my younger daughter fell in love with.  I made her a new mermaid skirt (insert tutorial), which was such a favorite, we’ve gone through several of them.  With the left over fabric, I made her a View C tank.  This gets much more use than the dress.

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The palm tree print was a fabric I picked up in Israel on a recent trip.  I love to buy fabric or yarn when I travel because (1) searching out these items is fun and since shops are not usually located in the touristy areas, I feel you get to see a lot more of the local neighborhoods and (2) this makes a great souvenir for me or a great gift for someone else that was on the trip.

I bought 2 tropical prints in Tel Aviv, and as the man was cutting this palm print (I asked for 3 meters), he kept having to pull off pieces with imperfections.  When I finally got my good 3 meters, he then gave me all the imperfect pieces for free!  The kids pattern pieces are small enough to work around the imperfections plus they don’t get uptight when the pattern doesn’t match on the seams, so I lugged it all home (there was much cursing during packing).  I almost bought a new pattern for them, but resisted the urge.  This time I made them both View A, with the knot on the back.

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I have a rule of three makes before a pattern becomes a favorite so this one qualifies!

Pony Tank

Pattern: Pony Tank by Chalk & Notch

For my first version of this, I used a gray and pink printed knit purchased at a local fabric store in Atlanta (Fine Fabrics).  I originally bought a TON of this fabric because I loved it and my girls loved it and I wanted to have enough to make everyone something.  I sized down and made a size 10 (my bust measurement is right in between a 10 and 12).  I love this tank, but it is slightly too small across the bust so I get a few armpit wrinkles.

After wearing it all summer, I decided to size up to the size 12 for my next one.  Originally I thought I would grade just the bust up to a size 12 because I like the fit everywhere else, but the difference between the 10 and 12 was pretty small, so I went with the 12 all over.  I only had 1.5 yards of this rust color knit (I bought it for my oldest, but she hated the color) and so I ended up having to cut the back in 2 pieces on the bias and seaming it up the center back.

It’s flattering without being too tight or too loose.  I like the length which looks good with shorts and with pants.  Here are some action shots from a recent trip:

I was just in one of those moods where I took lots of shortcuts.  I didn’t press a single thing or re-do anything I wasn’t thrilled with – it was good enough.  So my hem looks wonky and I have some puckering along the neckband.  I honestly can’t tell much difference between these sizes.  I still get armpit wrinkles, which I now think can be solved by making a small broad back adjustment, but honestly, it’s not bad enough to really bother me.  I actually like the vertical seam detail along the back.

For my third version, I used an army green knit that I had in my stash.  I only had 2 yards of this fabric, so I made it with a seam down the back (but this time all the pieces are cut in the same direction).  I made the size 12 again. I didn’t make any adjustments to the pattern.

I had been stuck in the planning phase of sewing projects for way too long and had a massive feeling of project overload.  I would get all excited to sew and then go up to do it and become totally overwhelmed with the time commitment, so I committed to doing 1 small sewing step each day.  After months of ‘planning’ I finished in a little over a week of actual sewing (I didn’t do any weekend sewing).  The V neck is a little off-center (the neckband seam doesn’t quite line up correctly), but overall, I’m happiest with the construction of this one.  Maybe because I actually took my time and didn’t rush through it.  Go figure.

I’ve been wearing all three versions of this tank.  I like them best as layering pieces in the fall and winter because the shape looks better with skinny pants (it’s way too hot to wear pants here in the summer).  They look fine with shorts, but not with any of the a-line skirts I love in the summer.

This pattern had passed my three makes rule, which means it gets to move to my keep pile!  I’ll definitely be making a few more in the future in other neutral colors.

 

 

Spring Kimono

Fabric: rayon from Fine Fabrics

Pattern: Simplicity 4552

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I’m going to Europe with my mom this summer – just us girls!  We are going for her 70th birthday and taking a river cruise.  I am excited about many aspects of this trip (leaving my kids for a week!), but especially excited about all the clothes I need to make.  The first thing I decided I needed was a cute spring kimono top.  Something light and flowy that I can throw on over a tee or tank as needed.

I conceived of this project as being made with a tropical print in a neutral olive color.  After browsing online and not finding what I wanted, I headed over to Fine Fabrics in Norcross, GA.  We are short on apparel fabric stores in Atlanta, so even though this is a hike for me (and sometimes and all day activity), it’s the place I go when I need to touch everything first.  So obviously I didn’t find an olive tropical print, but I did find this one that I kept coming back to (plus enough other fabric to keep me busy for a while).

This Simplicity pattern is from 2005.  I happened to be inventorying a box while this project was kicking around in my mind, and there were two copies of it, so I grabbed one for personal use.  I made the size 14 – my bust is between the 14 and 16 but everything else I’ve made lately in the large size has been too big – and it fits no problem.

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I played with two types of hems on this one.  I did a rolled hem on the sleeves and a narrow hem on the bottom.  I originally planned on doing a rolled hem along the bottom too, but wasn’t thrilled with the thread color I used on the sleeves.  I think it would have looked better if I had matched either the orange or pink instead of the one of the lighter colors.

I didn’t really like the way the sleeves went in on this pattern.   They set in fine along the arm hole, but the instructions had me sew up the body sides and sleeve seam in a right angle and I am not thrilled with the way they feel in the underarm.  I thought maybe it was the way I did it, but I ripped and re-sewed twice and they came out the same.  Of course, I could be totally misunderstanding the instructions.

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Another thing I didn’t like with this pattern is the front facing.  Again, just not a fan of the design.  Once the facing was attached, the pattern had me top-stitching it in place, but I felt like the top-stitching is too far away from the edge.  This is just a nit picky thing, because from more than a foot away, I can’t see it at all.  I also decided that it might be improved by using a different interfacing (one a little more drapier than the one I used).

Also – I had my first serger whoops!  I was happily finishing off a side seam when I turned my head to respond to some question, and knifed a small hole through the seam!  I was so mad at myself.  Of course, this is the reason I buy extra fabric, but did I start over?  Nope.  I figured the hole wasn’t too bad and the garment was loose and flowy, so I just moved the seam over slightly to cover it up.

So, not my favorite make, but not a throw-away either.   This is my first kimono-style shirt I’ve had, and I am really enjoying the versatility of it.  It is especially useful here in GA in the spring.  I will be making more of this type of shirt, maybe not with this pattern (depends on how lazy I am).  I think it will fulfill its purpose for at least one season.  My oldest daughter is already coveting it, so maybe I will pass it along.

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Wanderlust Tee

Fabric: Jersey Knit Stripes Ivory/Silver (polyester) from fabric.com

Pattern: Wanderlust Tee by Fancy Tiger Crafts

I chose this pattern and fabric to test my new serger that I got for Christmas!  I wanted to make a cropped, boxy tee to go with a high waisted skirt I already have.  The fabric was purchased for something else, but luckily I always buy 3 yards just in case, so I had enough for this tee and for the other project.

First, OMG – why did it take me so long to get a serger!!!!  I love it!  I still maintain you can use a sewing machine for this project, but the serger was so easy, and I love the results.  I will be finishing most of my seams with it from now on.  I had a blast running scraps through it and boring everyone else in my household to tears with my samples I insisted on showing them.

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This pattern was easy and fast.  I had a little trouble with the neckline, where I missed a spot and then had to go back and made it not so even with the rest, but it’s not overly noticeable.  I love the sleeves on this pattern, and can see making a couple of these and lengthing some of them to get some great loose tees to go with skinny jeans.  I chose to make it without the pocket to dress it up a little (and because I really just wanted to use the serger and putting on the pocket was the first step).

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Plaid Archer Shirt

Fabric: Cotton Flannel from Mood Fabrics

Pattern: Archer Button Up by Grainline

I accidentally shrunk my favorite (and only) plaid shirt by Rails in the wash when it got all balled up and hidden inside something else.  I considered it one of my winter wardrobe staples and I really miss it.  Their shirts are by far my favorite.  I love the hand on the fabric, I feel like it’s well made and long lasting, and I love the way they fit.  Well worth the price if anyone is looking to buy a button down.

However, since I started this little thing called sewing my own clothes, I thought it might be time to tackle the Archer Button Up by Grainline.  Everyone raves about this pattern and Instagram is full of beautiful projects.

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Size: My bust is between a 10 and 12, but the finished measurements are more of where I want them.  Just to be clear, I seldom wear my shirts buttoned – mostly because I have never found one that buttons across the bust without gaping and doesn’t look huge elsewhere.  Also – given the results of my last few project (I wish I had sized down on all of them), I decided to learn from previous projects even though my brain is screaming at me to be safe rather than sorry.  I am ok with possibly making this too small for the following reasons (1) I am not absolutely in love with this fabric and it’s new, so I will be ok if I have to buy more, and (2) my 2nd attempt at any pattern is always better than the first.  Ok – really I’m just trying to talk myself into making the smaller size as I type this.  But, now reading through the instructions, it says to size up if you’re in between sizes.  Better sew a size 12.  If it’s too big this time, I’ll size down for the next project.  Size 12 it is.

I had a very difficult time with the plaid – I could not seem to get the vertical and horizontal stripes squared off.  I ended up deciding to cut a lot of pieces on the bias, and then focusing on getting the horizontal stripes straight, which I think was the right move.

I am super thrilled with the results and wearing it right now!  I am willing to concede that I might have needed to size down.  Before making any final decisions on that, I’m going to wear and launder this a bunch and see if that makes a difference.  I was nervous about the pattern complexity at first, but Grainline had a photo tutorial on their blog that was helpful in clearing up a few directions I couldn’t seem to visualize.  So, bonus points for that!

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Gallery Tunic

Pattern: Gallery Tunic and Dress from Liesel & Co

Fabric: thrifted

I fell in love with this fabric when I first saw it.  I was going through a large bin at an estate sale, and the lady next to me pulled it out of her bin.  I’m pretty sure I held my breath until she put it down and I casually asked if it was hers before snatching it.  Looking at it, I saw either a men’s-wear inspired winter skirt or a tunic, and since I hardly ever wear skirts in the winter, I decided it needed to be a tunic.

It took me a long time to find the right pattern for it.  I’ve been keeping a running list of indie pattern companies as I hear about them and still couldn’t find it.  I was thinking that Grainline’s Archer shirt would be awesome in tunic length for this, but felt it might be too complicated for me at this time.  I almost shelved the fabric until I felt confident enough to tackle the Archer, but oddly enough, I was looking on Oliver & S for a pattern to use for the girls and I saw that they had adult patterns!  How did I not know this?  Anyway, I discovered the Gallery Tunic & Dress pattern, and decided it was perfect!

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After reading a few reviews, I made a size 12 because my bust (38.25) fits solidly between the 10 and 12, but my waist (32) and hips (40) are between a 12 and 14.  All of the reviews I could find that mentioned fitting said to size for bust and not hips because of the style.  I also chose to leave the bust dart out.  I should have gone down to a 10 and will do that with my next one.

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Overall, I’m happy with this make!  I’ve worn it a bunch this winter and am already plotting a couple warmer weather versions.

 

Preppy Sun Dress

Fabric: Thrifted cotton plaid

Pattern: McCall’s 7120, View D

I finally decided it was time to work my way through the Sewing StartUp Library class on Craftsy that I had purchased on sale a while ago, and this McCall’s pattern is the one that comes with the class.  When you buy the class, you have to specify which size pattern to purchase, so I looked at the measurements and picked a size L based on the bust.  Then I began watching the class and apparently, the big 4 uses a high bust measurement.

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Is this some big sewing secret that everyone except me knows?  I find no mention of this anywhere – not the sewing blogs I read, or the podcasts I listen to, or even the few links I clicked about measuring yourself.  It was also mentioned that indie patterns tend to use full bust measurements.   I did eventually find this in a very confusing article about measuring yourself on the McCall’s website.  However, I had already ordered a size L when I really needed the medium, which was not in the packet I ordered.

I debated attempting to grade the pattern, but in the end, I decided that I was taking this class to learn more about sewing garments, and to focus on the techniques first, then I would worry about fit.  That being said, I found the class highly valuable, even though I know my way around the sewing machine quite well.  I was very happy with the dress I ended up with (I even managed to match my plaids pretty well – one side seam is perfect, but the other is off about 1/4″).

The dress is definitely too large though.  The style and the belt keep it from being a complete throw away, but it will probably turn into an around-the-house-only dress or a pool coverup.  But, for a first dress, not too shabby.  And while taking the photos for this post, I discovered that my favorite look is where I moved the belt to create an empire waist (being short waisted, this style is more flattering).

 

 

Wrap Skirt

Fabric: Waistband/Ties – thrifted fabric; Main Skirt – Dark Blue Denim-Like Cotton Chambray from Mood fabrics

Pattern: The Versatile Wrap Skirt by Make It Perfect purchased from IndieSew.com

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I wanted to reconnect with garment sewing using something simple, and I had a cotton fabric very similar to the Mood fabric I eventually used in my stash.   I bought this fabric with the intention of making a wrap skirt for my daughter, but she did not like it, so I did a little searching and found a wrap skirt pattern for me.

Problem #1: while I had enough fabric yardage-wise, the shape of it was off, so I couldn’t get the back cut on the grainline the same way as the sides.  I decided to go ahead anyway and use it as a muslin or a test run since I haven’t sewn anything for myself in years.

I really took my time finishing seams and pressing the garment after every step.  A lot of times I’m in a rush to get a project finished and move on, but this time I (1) really wanted to get the practice in to improve my garments and (2) the skirt was seasonably inappropriate, so I couldn’t wear it anyway.

I made the skirt using the pattern as given (I decided not to put a contrasting band on the bottom), tried it on, and …. not so much.  I was pleasantly surprised that the grainline issue was really not as big of a problem as I thought.  You had to really get close to notice.  If it had fit, I would have kept it.  BUT…  or maybe I should say butt …. the back of the skirt was a lot shorter than the front.  And I have committed myself to really making clothes that fit because that’s a huge part of making my own wardrobe.

Luckily with a wrap skirt, there’s really only one reason that it wouldn’t fit, and that’s because it needed a full butt adjustment.  After countless YouTube videos, I felt pretty confident, and dived right in.  I modified the pattern for my butt and also added another inch to the hem and some more length to the ties while I was at it.

I wish I taken some pics of the first version before I cut it up for scraps, so I could have shown the difference – lesson learned for next time.  After I finished it, it looked pretty darn good, but I was too afraid to try it on!  It sat on my desk for at least 1 day before I worked up the courage.

Looking in the mirror was an incredible high.  Yes – there are some minor things that make this skirt not perfect.  But, for the most part, my butt adjustment worked (I am seriously so proud of myself).

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I made the bottom a little but more bell-shaped than I intended when I extended the hem and accidentally created these points where the sides attach to the back (which I fixed by ripping out the hem, pressing them out, and re-hemming).  Also – there is a slight gathering at my lower back when I tie the skirt at my natural waist.  I suspect this is caused by the placement of my full butt adjustment on the pattern.

My helper:

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