Back last year when it was Shirt A Month time, I wanted to revisit some of the Folkwear patterns that I still have from my old hippie days. I enjoy ethnic/folkloric styles, and wanted to make something that had a Euro-type heritage. The Asian styles are beautiful, but as a blue-eyed ex-blonde I always feel like an obvious imposter. Almost like wearing a fake moustache.
So, there was ample yardage of a beautiful rustic linen in stash, and I decided to go out and do the best work I could possibly do to make the shirt and its smock-like embellishment based on pintucks. I pulled dozens of threads to be sure everything was absolutely on grain; even pulled a thread for each tuck. I was super careful with sewn-in interfacing, which involved lots of hand basting. There are also about a thousand little pleats that had to be basted, because the shirt body and sleeves are pleated, not gathered, at the yoke and armscye.
It was a punch to the gut when I got to the point that I could try it on and it looked AWFUL. No photos, sorry. I didn’t have the heart. There was all kinds of fabric bunching up going on around the armscye. A larger gusset didn’t seem to help. So I put it all in a plastic baggie and set it aside hoping to somehow save it later. The pattern I threw away in disgust.
The baggie sat on my cutting table, always in my way, for over six months. This week I decided to either make something of the half-finished shirt, or throw it away, too.
Those old Burda WOF/BurdaStyle (rantette: I hate those run-on names made from two words) magazines do come in handy. I knew I wanted a style that was somewhat shirt-like, but no buttons, and with bust darts. #121 from July of 2011 had all that and more – those shoulder seams are much more forward than normal – which meant that the pintuck embellishment I wanted to save would extend farther down the front.
The original for this pattern had a silk front and jersey back. No fitting adjustments were needed to make it work in all linen. The little cap sleeves are optional – just leave them off for a sleeveless version if you like.
Alterations: Since this pattern was for regular sizes only, I gave myself a 1/2 inch FBA and some extra fit insurance at the hip. Also made the swayback alteration that I now know I always need. I also decided to round off the hem, keeping the high-low style.
On the front, I added a horizontal seam. On the Croatian shirt, the tucks were just released where they ended, but cuts made to create the front placket meant I’d have a better chance at a save if the fronts were just cut separately and a lower front sewn on. I fell stitched the folds of the original front bands so the inside would be clean-finished, and then sewed the center fronts together by hand, raising the point of the opening. True to Burda form, that original front slit is way too deep for old hippies. The young ones may enjoy showing more skin. Bias binding finished off the armscyes.
Enough yakking. Here’s the end result, shown with the ancient Kenmore on which it was sewn. 3 yards of 60″ linen and I ended up with a sleeveless top! Ah, well. It does feel good that ALL of the fabric didn’t end up in the trash. There is at least something to show for it. And it still has a little folkloric flair. And I can wear it right away.
For those that may be interested, here’s a closeup of the embellishment. First, a set of pintucks is stitched. The two pintucks on the outside are left as is. The four in the center are mock-smocked – the folds are tacked together or to the shirt front to produce a honeycomb effect. I added the machine made herringbone stitch on what was originally supposed to be the button band. (My Janome with the beautiful buttonholes is in a funk and I’m not sure what to do about her. Meantime I’m sewing things without buttonholes)
Here’s another shot where I’ve highlighted the positioning of the tacking stitches, in case anyone wants to duplicate this detail. The thread is passed from one tack to the next by hiding it in the fold of the pintuck. The tacking is worked vertically.
Happy sewing, all!
It’s nearing the end of April and I haven’t made a knit top for the TAM exercise. But I did make a woven, so that will be “Miss April”.
It is almost always satisfying to go back to the Burda magazine stash. This one is from the 5/2011 issue, # 131. It’s presented as a dress, but hemline, schmemline. Mine is a tunic.
I wanted to use a cotton voile that came from Farmhouse Fabrics. This place has become one of my favorites, even though most of their inventory seems to cater to the sewing for kiddies market. They still have plenty of shirtings, cottons, and linens appropriate for grown-ups, like this teal-colored voile I found among all the baby colors. Quality has always been good there, too.
Voile is sheer, so I wanted a pattern with volume. The thinking was that all the gathers in the fabric, along with the breast pockets, would team up to mitigate the peekaboo effect. Wrong. When I got things assembled enough to try on, I realized that this would need an underlayer to be modest enough. There was enough fabric left over from the tunic to make the tank from Sewing Workshop’s Mixit pattern. Even with the two layers, the fabric is so light that the ensemble is very very cool to wear. It will be nice in the heat of summer to have something that gives coverage in the form of sleeves, but is still cool.
Some construction notes: I basically made view B but added the pockets from A, minus the flaps. Originally I was going to make the sleeve tabs, too, but they seemed out of character with the softness of the voile, so I left them off.
The first decision was about interfacing. I had white, offwhite, and gray interfacing in the stash. There was lots of showthrough and it seemed to me like self-fabric interfacing would be the best bet. Also because of the showthrough issue, I eased the dart at the side seams instead of stitching. The voile was loosely woven so easing worked OK.
Burda instructions for the placket weren’t sufficient. I’ll find better placket instructions to copy off and save with my pattern for next time.
Side seams and sleeve seams are flat-felled. The pockets and yoke are edge-stitched and topstitched. Sleeve hems were turned to the right side for a 3/4 sleeve with mock band. Since I was not going to flat fell the armscye, and also wasn’t going to mess with getting teal thread on the serger, the armscye is overcast with a machine zig-zag. I kept the wide hem of view B for weight. Gray-ish mother of pearl buttons pick up a little of the teal color.
In the photo, the neck was left unbuttoned so you can glimpse the tank top underneath. Since the tank is from the same fabric as the shirt, the placket with its multiple layers really disappears. I started with the SW Mixit tank because it is dartless, and made a few changes. From the illustration on the pattern, you wouldn’t know how high the neck of this tank actually is. Lowered it an inch. Cut out on the bias on the theory that it would hang closer to the body and not cause the overshirt to pouf out too much. Poufing is not an issue when the two are worn together. I wonder if the bias cut actually made a difference?
To simplify construction and reduce handling of the bias cut pieces, I cut the hem with a shirtail curve, enabling this zip-zop easy construction:
1. Hem back & front with a tiny baby hem.
2. Sew sides and shoulders with french seams. The raw edges of the curved hem are hidden in the french seam.
3. Bind the neckline & armscye.
Sometimes I have a little binding issue with Burda shoulders and sleeves, but this pattern is especially nice in that area, IMO. I’m really glad to have given it a try and will probably make it up again.
There’s a Top A Month sewalong on Stitcher’s Guild that I am trying to keep up with and hope that it will do as much for my knit sewing as the shirt sewalong did last year for my shirtmaking abilities.
Here’s the March entry, another view of Vogue 8536, the same pattern I used for the February top, which came out well and is a favorite. The pattern has a single back piece, with different fronts for the different necklines and a sleeve with three lengths. Put them together in lots of different combinations and never feel like you’ve made the exact same top twice.
This time I made the view with the wrap and 3/4 length sleeves. That high wrap is appealing because with it you won’t end up looking like you have a breast in a sling. That’s what I think of when I see myself in a wrap top that crosses over lower. Higher wrap also keeps the focus up high, which is a good thing.
A little while ago I picked up Nancy Zieman’s Fitting Finesse book because it had been so long since I had looked at it. She has a page on doing a swayback alteration in cases where there is no center back seam. I had a little excess fabric puddling below the waist on the first iteration of this pattern, so I thought I’d try the alteration this time and compare. A bit over a half inch was removed, and the fit in the back was improved. It was an easy alteration and there are several other TNT patterns that come to mind where it would be worth a try.
Other construction notes: The fabric was a fairly stable cotton/lycra knit – not much stretch. About like a Sophia knit. Note to self, always have at least this much stretch when making this pattern. Measuring the sleeves, they seemed narrow at the bicep. I sized up there, and ended up only taking a 1/4 inch seam allowance, and they are still just a little snug. If the fabric had been stretchier, it would have been no problem.
Binding the neckline is easier on a wrap like this because you can sew it all flat rather than in the round.
The hem was a worry. The pattern instructions have you treat both front pieces as one after you do the overlap, including the hem. A nagging voice in my head said that needed precision in order not to end up like a mess. I wanted to hem the fronts separately, so they could move independently of each other, but that was not possible with the already-constructed hem vents. Hand stitching the hems was another possibility, but again because of those vents, the hem is deep and in my mind needed the stability of a machine stitched hem.
FWIW, here’s what I did. Pressed up the hem, then trimmed the inner layer just above the fold line to eliminate one layer of bulk. Basted by hand on each side of where the final hem would be stitched. Finally, held my breath and stitched the hem. The photo shows some little pulling at the hem, but I don’t see it in real life, and am very happy with this top.
Next up, a pair of pants that will work with this top and the two previous blouses, to make a little capsule.
The spring issue of Ottobre Woman arrived about a month ago and what a good issue it is! The editor says they have added a new Finnish designer, Cecilia Sorensen, to the staff. Maybe she is responsible for all the nice stuff? But then, I thought the previous issue was especially good, too.
I liked so much that it was hard to decide what to make first, but the cute summery Triangle blouse won. The pattern instructions specified a sheer viscose/silk fabric (sounds like Radience would work really well for a luxe version). I had no such fabric in stash, so I ordered some Imperial Batiste to make this up, thinking the weight would be about right….and no ironing.
While waiting for the “good” fabric to arrive, I made a muslin from stash. I didn’t want it to be exactly the same, because the triangle design is way too distinctive. But the beauty of patterns without seam allowances is that the front piece was presented as a whole front, with a line designating where the seamline would be to create the triangle. So I just made regular unpieced fronts from a heavy but drapey mystery fabric, and contrast front bands from a ticking-like fabric scrap.
I had recently done some snoop-shopping of Eileen Fisher and noted that she is using a lot of neckline bands. Now, hers are real ones (band plus facing). To mimic that look with less work, I drafted and cut a neckline facing and turned it to the outside. The facing was positioned on the fabric to match the bands which were cut on the bias.
Voila, iteration number one.
Construction notes: for both versions, I used my usual gambit for tracing the Euro patterns: find my size based on my bust measurement. Cut the shoulder one size smaller. Cut the hip one size larger. That’s all the fitting I need for a loose blouse like this one.
Ottobre does believe in darts, and this pattern has both shoulder darts and bust darts to finesse the fit. With it’s little cap sleeves, it is an easy sew. The hem does dip a little bit in front, which is more graceful that a straight-across hemline.
Don’t be put off from the pulls that show up around the bust in the photo. They are because of the grabby fabric of my dressform.
I will have to wear this a lot this summer, because the color blocking thing will probably be over pretty quick. It’s a happy little blouse, so that should be no problem. No, I did not have it finished for St. Patrick’s day.
Another pattern that got it’s first trial by me is the jacket from Cutting Line Design’s Pure and Simple. The top from this pattern is a favorite of many people, but I haven’t seen the jacket made up very much. I can say that I will be using it again for sure! The pattern is for a coat or long jacket with three horizontal sections (another opportunity for color blocking). The first horizontal seam hides the pocket openings. It is easy to extend the top section to the length you want if you don’t want to include the horizontal seams, and that’s what I did. To replace the lost pockets, I made patch breast pockets.
The fit is loose and boxy, the facing is cut-on, so this is another easy-going project. The sleeves are just lovely in this jacket – they are not supposed to be dropped sleeves, and on me they were almost perfect – no weird folds in the sleeve at all. Next time I’ll narrow the shoulders just a bit. As is, the armcye sleeve is in the vicinity of my shoulder, but would look a little neater if it was just a little bit closer.
When you consider the nice shell that is the companion piece of this jacket, it makes this pattern one of the true jewels in the CLD line. I’m glad I gave the jacket a try. It’s a great unstructured jacket that you can add all sorts of details to. In fact, I wore it when I was doing my Eileen Fisher snoop shopping and got invited to a trunk show. Usually salesladies ignore me, so I guess it made me look worthy of attention!
Happy spring, one and all!
First up, a top from V8536, which is one of their basic design patterns – a knit top with several different necklines and sleeve lengths. I am following a Top A Month thread on Stitcher’s Guild and want to make most of them knits because I’m badly in need of experience working with knits. I’m really happy with this pattern and the way my top turned out. The V is a little deep but still wearable. I’ll probably tweak that next time, but everything else worked out just fine. A very nice feature of this pattern is that it has some bust fullness to it that you ease in on the sides. It this particular knit (a nice one from Christine Jonson) the easing is invisible. I’ll make this pattern again.
One of the areas that I really need to work on with knits is hemming. On this one, I used four lines of topstitching as suggested by Claire Shaeffer in her High-Fashion Sewing Secrets book. Claire says this hem was used often by Jean Muir and others. There are two rows of stitching about a quarter of an inch apart at the hem edge, and two more rows of stitching two inches above that. There’s a pic of the hem even though the close match of the threads makes it hard to see.
Claire’s book is not a new one. It’s full of nice techniques to give a nice elevating touch to garments. I need to look at it more for ideas.
Now for the less successful. Cutting Line Designs has a new pattern called My Swing Set that has a skinnier-fit pant with side seams. My first attempt was a failure, but that was due to my own errors. When I finished this pair, I thought that they looked pretty good – until I took the photos! Now it’s plain that more work is needed. But I’ll give them another try.
Pinning a quarter inch scoop helps the left side a bit, but the right is still wrong. I suspect my right backside is a different size from the left, and that if I really want to do pants right, I’ll have to start cutting two different backs.
Last week we heard that there’s a new Cutting Line pattern on the way. Time to get the last one made, right?
Artist In Motion includes a shirt/tunic and cute little vestee. I was actually all set to make the tunic when it first came out, but somehow it kept being pushed back. But when I saw Martha’s super version with added sashiko embellishment, it lit a fire under me. Martha’s review is here with links to photos. It doesn’t look like she has blogged the tunic, although she did write about the vesty. I can’t quite visualize myself wearing the vesty, although there have been some lovely versions posted.
So here is the one I made. This fabric, reminiscent of ikat, came from Fabric Mart and is still available. If you’re interested in the fabric, you should be aware that those horizontal stripes are kind of embroidered on the fabric and the thread tails on the wrong side are left loose. I’m not afraid of them unravelling, but you wouldn’t want to use it for a garment where the reverse shows, because it looks pretty untidy. There is also another colorway with a pinky background color. It’s a linen, and although I prewashed, I’m hoping that some additional washings will soften it up a bit more so it will drape better.
On to the pattern. This is a pretty simple basic shirt shape – no cuffs, collar, or stand. There is a center-front placket which goes together very neatly and would be a good place to feature some topstitching. The placket is stitched down below the bustline – it’s not a hidden placket with additional buttons. There’s just the one button and buttonhole to make, which means this is pretty quick to sew up. It’s also means you can feature a single dramatic button up there near your face. I considered leaving the button off, since I will probably never wear the neckline fastened up, but decided that the it needed a little punctuation.
Alterations – I went from a M at the shoulder to a L+ at the hip, because I wanted to be sure that the tail wouldn’t hang up in the rear. I think I added just a smidge too much and will remove some width next time. I also lengthened an inch.
Next iteration I will make the same dropped shoulder adjustment I made to the TMA shirt. The shoulders are only slightly dropped on me – they actually end somewhere in the vicinity of my natural narrow shoulders.
The sleeves taper to the wrist which gives a slimmer overall appearance. Nice that you can do that with just a flick of the wrist!
All in all, I’m really pleased with the style and will make it again, especially since it was a quick sew. Bring on the new pattern, I am all ready now.
There’s a blogiversary being celebrated over at JillyBeJoyful!
My heart is warmed and I am honored that Jilly included one of my little old products in her anniversary giveaway. The giveaway has already been won, but if you appreciate Jilly’s beatific presence in the sewing-blogosphere as I do, please click over and wish her well.
I actually have some new ideas percolating to be added to my store inventory soon, and will post them here when they’re ready.
Meanwhile, if you’d like a sewing journal like the one below, you can pick one up at my Cafe Press shop, Mooney Designs.