Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Vogue 8499 Marcy Tilton Skirt (Number 3)

I've had this piece of quilting cotton on my shelves for several years now.  It's a print of zebras done in black, white and brown.  I believe I found it at   I just love the graphic quality of the print and it has that quirky factor that touches my funny bone.  I purchased 3 yards because I knew I wanted to make a garment out of it rather than getting just a small piece for the quilting stash.  (Yes, I have a quilting stash too.  Sigh.)  But I could never decide on the perfect pattern to use with it, so it has been sitting there a long time.  

Until about three weeks ago when it suddenly shouted at me that it wanted to be a Marcy Tilton skirt.  Specifically, Vogue 8499.

So I obeyed.

Oh. My. Gosh.  I love this skirt.  It turned out just as I envisioned.  Just as the fabric told me it would look in this pattern.

This really is one of my favorite skirt patterns.  The bell shape is very flattering and very fun to wear.  The pockets enhance the interesting shape of the skirt and add a fun element.  It's difficult to see in this print, but I chose to use buttons at the top of the pockets, rather than the recommended zippers.

It may be a little out there, but I have a feeling that I will be wearing this skirt a lot.  The cotton fabric will be nice to wear in the summer months, but it also will be quite wearable in all but the coldest times of the rest of the year, worn with tights and boots.  

This skirt just makes me happy!  (And I love the zebra noses!)

ETA:  I have posted about two previous versions of this skirt HERE and HERE.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

McCall's 6566 and The Sewing Workshop E-Dress/Skirt

Wow, it's October already.  And we've already had snow here (meaning here in town, not just up in the mountains, although the town snow melted off pretty quickly).  And I've still got summer projects to blog about.

A few more pieces that I managed to accomplish this summer included a couple of tops from McCall's  6566:

I bought this pattern because, while the tops are really very simple, there are some design/style lines tossed in that added a little interest.  I also liked that the fabric recommendations included both knits and wovens, thus expanding the possibilities.

I started with View C, which is a dolman-sleeved top with a plain front and a gathered inset at the lower back.  I thought it looked like a good possibility for the type of loose, airy tops I like to wear in the summer.    I don't seem to have a picture of the first version I made, which ended up being much too large through the body and too wide in the neckline.  I wear that version for casual weekend wear, but it's much too sloppy-fitting to wear to work.  For the second version, I went down a size.  I also then offset the center front and back pattern pieces about a half of an inch past the fold of the fabric when cutting, which effectively reduced the circumference of the neckline by two inches and took a little more out of the width of the body as well.  This gave me just what I wanted for a loose-fitting, but not overwhelming, top.  This version I made out of another of the rayon challis I've gotten from  

I love how this top turned out and I wore it quite a bit this summer.  I know I will be making more next summer.

I also wanted to try View D, which has a cross-over back inset.  I used a rayon knit for this one.  When looking at the pattern pieces, I appeared to me that the cross-over back might be lower and more revealing that what I wanted, so I raised the angle of back neckline a bit.  The pattern piece is show in the photo below.  The curved red line is the original pattern line.    I cut starting about an inch and a half above that line at the side back seam, gradually blending back to the original line.

This pretty much worked, but I will raise the back even more next time I make this one.  It's still a little lower than I would like--okay for weekend wear, but it doesn't feel appropriate for work.  I'll also go down a size over all for the next one, as this turned out a little oversized, and probably raise/narrow the neckline in front as well.  But, really, I think I like the pattern and it could be fun to play with--color blocking, combining multiple prints, stripes changing direction, etc.  My fabric had a tie-dye effect that I could run in different directions.

Here's the back view:

Another pattern I finally got around to making this summer was the Sewing Workshop's E-Dress/Skirt.  This is a downloaded pattern from the SW website.  

I'm not really a dress person, but I love a good skirt.  And now I'm kicking myself for not getting to this one sooner than I did.  This skirt has simple lines, but I love how the bottom band is shaped so as to give the skirt a bit of a lantern shape.  I made my first version out of a green rayon/poly/lycra woven (no idea where I got this fabric from--it's been sitting on the shelves for awhile).

Once I knew I was happy (excited, really) with the fit and look of the pattern, I pulled a charcoal gray pinstripe 100% linen out of the pile of summer "Chosen Ones" fabrics.  

The bottom band on this skirt is another opportunity to play with fabric.  I've been thinking about some embellishment or fabric manipulation ideas for other versions of this. 

This SW E-Skirt pattern will be a regular TNT in the skirt pattern rotation for me.  I've got a couple planned for my fall/winter sewing and I think this skirt could be a real workhorse garment in anyone's wardrobe!  

I've started sewing for fall and winter.  Around here the last couple of years we seem to be getting less and less fall, more and more winter.  It makes me want to sew coats and jackets!

Monday, September 2, 2013

I Thought I Had a Plan--What Happened?

So now that it's September, Labor Day weekend and the symbolic (at least to me) end of summer, I thought I'd finally write that post about my summer sewing plans.  At least this way I can both tell you about what I want(ed) to sew this summer and also give you an immediate update on my progress.

Progress on the Plan:  Not much.

I think I've said it before.  I'm just not a summer person.  I don't enjoy the heat of summer and I find it difficult to warm up to (heh, heh) the fabrics and clothing styles necessary to survive the heat.  However, this summer I wanted to try to be more organized and thoughtful in planning some sewing that would help me build a more cohesive, interesting and fun to wear  summer wardrobe.  So late in May (very late in May), when it finally appeared like summer might actually arrive in Montana, I started pulling fabrics from the shelves.  I just grabbed whatever was there that was summery in weight and color that I thought might be fun to get sewn up in the next couple of months.  Surprisingly, the fabrics I pulled, when piled together, worked as a group much more than I expected.  I seemed to have subconsciously pulled a core of grey and white (and a little black of course) with strong accents of bright green.  From there, there were segues into some neutral linen colors, some rust/browns and a bit of turquoise.  I also came across a striped linen scarf with some of the same colors.  The photos below show the grouping of fabrics I threw together.  Much more than I knew I would ever get through during the summer, but plenty to chose from as I went.

I thought "okay, now I'm ready to sew that thoughtful summer wardrobe."  Then I promptly pulled out a fabric that was not included in my grouping and made a shirt.  Sigh.

This is a rayon challis border print I got from several years ago.  I just love the print and have been wanting to sew it up for quite awhile now.  (I wish I could have avoided the twinning of the print at center front, but was limited with fabric.)

Fabrics like rayon challis (when you can find the good stuff with good prints) are my favorite for summer tops because they are so lightweight and cool to wear when it's hot out.

I like loose fitting, kind of floaty tops for summer and this is a pattern I use often when I want to let a fabric carry the day in a garment.  It's adapted from Lois Ericson's pattern Layers & Layers.  I used the little top shown in grey under the vest in the middle of the lower row on the pattern cover (Jacket B), with a few adaptations, including changing the neckline to a V-neck.

I create a cut on, fold-over placket for buttons/buttonholes and finish the neckline with a bias binding.

After finishing the black border print, I promptly made another one out of yet another fabric not from the "Chosen Ones."  This is another rayon challis from  These two tops I made in a longer tunic style to take advantage of the border print and because I sufficient of the batiky challis.  I often vary the finished lengths of this top pattern depending on the fabric I'm using and the look I want to achieve.

And then I kept going with other fabrics not within the plan.  A striped rayon knit from Girl Charlee made up in Vogue 8881.  This was less successful than I had hoped.  The long front and back seams pull oddly a bit when worn and I haven't gotten around to seeing if I can resolve that issue.

Next, a camp shirt in a fun cotton print of a cartoony undersea scene.  This is Cutting Lines Designs Easy Ageless Cool pattern.  I like to always have a "go to" camp shirt pattern in my arsenal and this is a good one.   I often come across weird prints that just tickle my funny bone somehow and I think a camp shirt is a good way to use those kind of prints.

Inevitably, another Sewing Workshop Liberty T-Shirt in a rayon knit print.  I actually have two pieces of this knit, one obtained from and the other from EmmaOneSock.  I think I also saw it briefly on Marcy Tilton's site.  It is a beautiful print and I have worn this top often this summer.  But it wasn't in the Chosen pile.  Sigh.

I do have more things that I have sewn up this summer, including even a few from the "Chosen Ones" fabrics.  I hope to get them on the blog here soon.  Even so, I did not get as much sewing done this summer as I had hoped.  My sewing room faces directly west.  As a result, it becomes miserable to be in after about 3 or 4:00 in the afternoon unless you enjoy sewing in a steam room.  So I just didn't spend as much time in there as I wanted to.

Now that it's officially September, I'm craving some autumn sewing.  I know that we will continue to have warm days for awhile, so I'm going to start with lighter pieces.  At the moment I have another Vogue 8499 Marcy Tilton skirt under the needle.  But those wools are starting to sing their siren songs.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Vogue 1347 Chado Ralph Rucci Jacket

My last project for late winter/early spring--which I actually finished several weeks ago, but am only now getting to blogging about--was the shirt/jacket from Vogue 1347, a design by Chado Ralph Rucci.  I think the Chado RR designs for Vogue Patterns always are very interesting, with fascinating design and construction details, but are not always a garment that I think I would actually wear.  This jacket, however, seemed to be very wearable (with the possible exception of the dangling ties, which in our household will probably be viewed as just more cat toys) and I wanted to give it a try.

For the fabric, I selected this piece that has been in my collection for a number of years, but I could never decide on the "right" project for it.  Since I wanted to see how this pattern would look in a stripe, I thought now was the time to use this fabric.  I couldn't find reference to this particular piece of fabric in my records, but I think it might have been a FabricMart find.  It is a black and silver textured stripe, with a touch of white, in some sort of man-made fiber(s), I'm thinking maybe acetate and lycra.  Lots of lycra.  For a woven fabric, this baby has cross-grain stretch like you wouldn't believe.  For the ties, I chose a random piece of black off the shelves, picking one that had the right shade of black and a dressier feel to it.  Everything was from stash, even the buttons (yay!).

Sadly, I failed to match the stripes going down from the yoke to the lower bodice in the front, but I just didn't have enough fabric to make that happen.  I was able to match the bias pieces of the back yoke to achieve a nice chevron effect.  Although I will pat myself on the back in noting that my bias stripes in the back matched up perfectly, I also observe that a slight misalignment of stripes in the back yoke would be less noticeable on this pattern because that seam is covered by a strip of the solid black.

Hmmm.  The above picture makes it look like the hips are a little too snug, but that is not the case on my body.  There is plenty of ease in this pattern at all areas.  But this picture does point out one of my construction mistakes that I elected to leave as a mistake.  In pretty much the first step of the instructions, you are directed to sew the lower front and back bodice pieces together at the side seams.  I knew from the pattern photo, as well as the pattern pieces themselves and the instructions, that the lower section of the side seams is to be left open for a vent.  But no, I blithely sat down at the machine, sewed and finished the seam from top to bottom, and only remembered about the vent as I was pressing the seam again.  DUH!  Really?  I can't get past the first step of the instructions without making a mistake?  I chalked it up to the hubris that sometimes bites an experienced sewist in the a$$, decided I liked the look as it was and moved on.

Here's a couple of closer looks at the back yoke area.

As I mentioned above, the Vogue CRR patterns always have intriguing design and construction details.  This particular pattern has great design lines, with the yoke/upper sleeve piece, the separate under sleeve and the lower sleeve band, as well as the decorative bands.  As far as construction details, I actually omitted the major one, which is that all of the seams in this garment are supposed to be flat-fell construction.  However, I think I also mentioned above that the fabric I chose has a LOT of lycra.  It's really stretchy on the cross-grain.  The thought of trying to do flat-fell seams on this fabric made me want to tear my hair out before I even tried sewing a seam.  So I intentionally opted out of the flat-fell technique.  Instead, I stitched the seams, finished them on the serger and then top-stitched them flat.  Honestly, with the color and texture of this fabric (and using black thread), the effort of doing a true flat-fell would have been lost--you can barely even see the top-stitching unless you're looking very close.  Here's a picture of the inside yoke area.

I thought that with the multiple pieces involved in the sleeves of this garment, it would be fun to play with a stripe to see what the effect would be.  I think it looks pretty cool, if I do say so myself.  

The front and back yoke/upper sleeve is all one piece (well, one piece for each side which is then seamed together at center back as shown above).  The shaping for the shoulder area is achieved with a dart placed where the shoulder seam would normally be.  The collar is a fairly standard shirt two-piece stand and collar construction, with the stand at center front being squared off instead of curved (much easier to make both sides identical!)

I will say that the solid black I used for the decorative bands became a little stiff by the time they were sewn in a tube, turned and top-stitched onto the body of the garment.  As a result, the bands on the sleeves kind of cause the sleeves to stand out and open in a bit of a bell shape.  In some ways, I don't mind that because it emphasizes the lovely piecing of the sleeve design.  In other ways, it makes this garment kind of "a lotta look."  It certainly won't be one of my every-day pieces to wear.  But it will be really fun to pull out when a dressier look is called for.  But then again, it might be just fine to wear to work open over a nice knit top, with basic black slacks and a great silver necklace.  I'll have to try some more styling options.  All in all, I'm very pleased with how this jacket turned out.  I would love to try another version using a solid color, probably a linen, similar to the look shown on the pattern cover.  I think solid linen would result in a garment that would be very wearable in daily life.

As far as sizing, after looking at the finished garment measurements on the pattern tissues and doing a little flat measuring of my own, I elected to size down two sizes in the upper body/sleeves and one size through the hips from what is recommended for my measurements on the actual size chart on the back of the envelope.  It worked perfectly.  I would also say that this pattern is surprisingly simple to sew.  The only difficulties I see would be if you've never done a two-piece stand collar and the top stitching.  The instructions for the collar were pretty clear and, as I noted, the stand is squared off in the front, so there is no having to match the shape of the curves at each end.  An edge-stitching or blind hem foot is always helpful with achieving even top-stitching, but I chose to fly without a net and just used my regular straight stitch foot (I'm too lazy to change foots unless I really need to.)

If you've always really wanted to sew up a Vogue Chado Ralph Rucci design, but were hesitating because you thought they were too difficult, this pattern would be an excellent one to dip your toes in the water with.

In other sewing, I've finally moved on to sewing for warm weather.  I've pulled fabrics/patterns and even stitched up a few items.  Hopefully I'll have updates soon.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Three TNT Tops

I recently made up three knit tops over a weekend.  I had pulled the fabrics out and had them sitting on the work table while I admired them and tried to decide what they wanted to be.  One I had purchased several years ago, one purchased last summer and the last purchased just about a month ago.  I love each for its striking and unique look.

I often get on myself for not using and expressing more creativity in my sewing, whether that be by redesigning and changing up how I use my TNT (Tried and True) patterns, or by experimenting more with combining fabrics, or by working more with fabric manipulation/embellishment.  I feel often like I'm copping out or not pushing myself enough in my sewing.  Especially when I read others' blogs and am so impressed with their creativity in what they do.

But then, sometimes, I look at a fabric and just want to let its beauty sing on its own in a simple design that I know will work and I will love wearing.

These photos aren't the best at showing the details of the garments (they kind of just look like blobs of fabric), but they do show the fabrics.  And you've seen other versions of these patterns made by both myself and others in the sewing world.

I believe I got this first fabric several years ago from Marcy Tilton.  I'm not positive, because I couldn't find an entry for it in my record book, but I'm pretty sure it was MT.  I used the StyleArc Adele Top pattern for this one because I thought the angles of the pattern went well with the angles of the fabric.

This is a nice lightweight rayon knit that should work well going into early summer, even with long sleeves.  I love the rough raw-edge feel to the lines in the fabric.  (please try to ignore the wobbly-looking hem--it's not that bad in real life)

Next up was a gorgeous rayon/lycra knit that I got from EmmaOneSock last July.  It's kind of a spotty stripe print in black, gray and white.  For the pattern, I used Vogue 8582 (now OOP), the Marcy Tilton designed knit top with the side drape.

I use this pattern a lot because it fits nicely through the shoulders and upper torso, but has an easy loose fit elsewhere that makes it extremely comfortable to wear.  I'm sure I'll be using it again soon with the sleeves shortened for a couple summer tops.

Finally, there was this more recent acquisition--a rayon/lycra knit print from Sawyer Brook.  As soon as I saw this fabric come up on their website, I knew I had to have some.  I just love the African theme of the print and the colors that were used.  I also knew pretty much right away that it wanted to be another Sewing Workshop Liberty top.  (and that one figure's head does not actually land right on my boob when I'm wearing the shirt, it just looks that way on the dress form)

I apologize if you all are getting completely bored with how often I make this pattern, but I just can't resist.  You know when people ask that question:  If you were marooned on a desert island with a sewing machine and all the fabric/notions you could desire, what would be the top 10 patterns you would want to have with you?  Well, the SW Liberty Shirt would be number 1 on my list.  And I'm fairly positive this pattern also will be showing up a couple of times in my summer sewing.

And so I go on, torn between the thought that I should be more creative in using and applying the sewing skills I know I have and the knowledge that sometimes it's good to let the uniqueness of the fabric and patterns speak for themselves.  Where do you fall on this continuum?

Last weekend I went through the majority of my fabric collection, reorganizing and culling some of the (to me) dead weight.  I now have five big black trash bags of fabric in the trunk of the car waiting to go to the thrift shop.  I still have A LOT of fabric, but I feel better about what I have and it's all up off the floor and on the shelving units (yes "units" plural).  I still have to go through the sewing closet before I'm finished, but I am a bit rejuvenated and ready to sew.  Sewing so far this weekend has been a little boring--I made two pair of black pants from my TNT pattern to replace two pair in the closet that have become pretty worn out.  I used a cotton/lycra sateen for one and a 100% linen for the other, both fabrics very nice and found at JoAnn's, surprisingly enough.  I always try to have several pairs of basic black pants in my closet as they are my go to garment for my bottom half.

My other project for this weekend is to finish up the last of my late winter projects.  I'm working on Vogue 1347, the Chado Ralph Rucci shirt/jacket.  It's been sitting on the work table half-completed for two weeks now and I want to get it done.

We've finally had a few sunny and relatively warm days here in my neck of Montana, so I'm finally starting to think about summer sewing.  I've pulled the stack of fabrics I want to work with for summer and I've been thinking about joining the Stitchers' Guild Summer 6-PAC sew-a-long.  Warm weather clothes are not my favorite to sew, so I need all the incentive and cheering on that I can get!

Finally, on my last post, Martha asked about faille.  There are several descriptions of faille at  Essentially, faille is known by its kind of ribbed texture created by differing weights of the fibers used in the warp and weft of the fabric.  Faille comes in all types of fiber content; I currently have pieces of faille in both silk and cotton, and I have seen it also in both polyester and acetate.  As far as drapiness, in my experience that can vary quite a bit.  I have always washed any piece of faille I've acquired (because I wash virtually everything in my collection before it goes on the shelves, except a few special pieces of wool or silk), and I've had some become very drapey and some not.  The drape of the fabric also can depend on the fiber content and the thickness of the warp/weft fibers used.  The cotton and poly blend faille I used in my skirt clearly had a nice drape to it that lent itself well to the tucks and volume of that pattern.  Other failles I have encountered have a much more stiff hand to them.

I have a large hunk of black cotton faille I got a while back from FabricMart.  I purchased this piece because I needed to make a couple of art garments and I was hoping the fabric would discharge well.  Nicely, upon applying a bleach/water discharge, the fabric became a lovely rust which then moved toward a lighter salmon/pink color.  I shall have to take some photos of the vests I made with this fabric and write up a post on it soon.