fall 6-pac

The extra material for the Miss Fisher coat is on the way and should be here later this week. Fabric.com took their time getting it in the mail, but shipping is free so I am not complaining.

ejvc hosts seasonal sewalongs on Stitcher’s Guild that are built around 6 coordinating garments. There are always some resulting collections that are really inspiring. The threads are great sources of ideas for both simple and challenging projects, and usually also have lots of discussion of color, as well.

I bought a couple pairs of leggings for fall, something I never thought I would do. Because of that, I really did need to make some tops to wear with them. No short tops with leggings!  2 pairs of leggings (one black, one navy), one purchased gray top, and the three sewn pieces below make up my “cheater” 6 pac.

OTTO 5_15_17This Ottobre top was written up a couple of posts back. The more I think about it, the less I like the high/low hemline. I won’t do that again. But I like the fit of the rest of the top with the slouchy extended shoulders. Good for casual and relaxed wear. This is #17 from the 5/2015 issue of Ottobre.

Burda 5_11_131The silk tunic was adapted from Burda Style 5/2011 #131. I chose it because it has both front and back gathered into the yoke, and bust darts in addition to the gathers. This particular pattern also fit me well in the shoulders and has an armscye and sleeve that I like. I added extra width to both the front and back because I was afraid that without the extra it might look skimpy in the lightweight silk. Maybe I overcompensated? It does feel very lovely and swirly to wear, and probably looks a little more body conscious in motion than in a still photo.

OTTO 5_15_4One of the features of the 6-pac is the suggestion to include a jacket. I went with a long cardigan. This is also from the 5/2015 Ottobre, #4. There are two versions of the cardigan in the magazine. One has a curled raw edge on the front band, the other is pieced of different colors and has a hood. I made the pieced version and went to the trouble of topstitching the seam allowances down on either side of each seam in an attempt to emphasize the piecing. This was mostly wasted effort! With the texture of my fabric, the topstitching doesn’t show unless you look very closely.

I wanted a really drapey cardigan and that’s what I got. The fabric was described as a rayon sweatshirt knit. The textured side has silky short fleece-like fibers, kind of hard to describe. Ottobre called for merino wool, and I think on the whole a more stable fabric, like a medium weight wool knit or real sweatshirt knit, might have been a better choice. Especially if you plan to put in the pockets as designed. I interfaced the heck out of my pocket openings, but they are still droopy, so they are going to be sewn up.

2015 Fall 6 pacLastly, here’s the whole shebang. The purchased tunic is the last on the right…and I only photographed with the navy leggings. If I were sewing this over again there are a few things I would do differently, but that’s always the way it is. I’m satisfied with my little 6-pac and will wear all of these items a lot this fall and winter.


coat, top, and Lola pants

We actually got a cool front last week that made me decide to put away all the really high summer clothes – the sleeveless white shirts, light colored pants, and the like. What was left (air) made me realize I actually NEEDED to get cracking on the autumn 6-pak.

CLD_PS_coat_edited-1The first item, started a while back, was the coat from Cutting Line Design’s Pure & Simple pattern. I had made this before in a short length and knew there was no fitting work to be done, so it got to go first. This is a fairly quick and uncomplicated sew. The only difficult part was making the corded loops for the pocket buttons.

There has been some discussion on the 6-pak thread about what makes a good piece for the scheme. Many words have been used to describe the quality…”basic”, “cake, not frosting”, “simple”,”boring”….as you can see, this piece fits the description. Solid fabric with just a tiny ribbed texture and simple style. However, I don’t think this jacket will hardly even see the inside of the closet. It will probably live on a peg beside the door, so I can grab it whenever I go out.

The coat as designed has three panels that you can add/subtract/adjust to get the length you want. I used the top two and lengthened each piece by an inch to get this fingertip length. The waistline seam is topstitched and has two pockets inserted which have button and loop closures. Unlined.

BS_10_07_122_blueItem two was another piece that needed no fitting since the first version was made recently. It’s a top from BurdaStyle, July 2010, #122. This time I was able to make the 3/4 sleeves and did not cut up my fronts by mistake. I really, really liked this pattern and wanted another right now, so here it is. The original 6-pak plan called for two knit tops, which I still plan to make.  The color and style of this shirt fits right in with the plan.

This time I used a mid-weight linen. The color is royal blue. No style changes to the pattern, just the usual fitting adjustments.

And, TA-DA, I also completed a pair of pants! I’ve wanted to make Style Arc’s Lola pants for a long time, but dreaded fitting a new pants pattern. Since the Lolas are on the slim side, I was afraid I was in for an ordeal. As it turned out, they weren’t hard to fit at all.

No photos of the pants, sorry. Pants pinned to the dressmaker’s dummy don’t give any information at all, and pictures of me wearing the pants never seem to turn out. I will write about them, anyway.

When tracing the pattern, I was dismayed when I saw the teeny-tiny crotch points on these. So I got out my all-purpose pant pattern to compare, and lengthed the back crotch point a couple of inches. Lengthened the front one, too, for good measure. I also lengthened the center back seam by adding a wedge right at the top of the crotch curve. Then I added 5/8 inch seam allowances because I need the insurance.

Style Arc Lola_edited-1

Style Arc instructions are as cryptic as Burda’s, and I could not follow their steps for constructing the pocket. It seemed like a straightforward operation, so I just did it my way, but some error must have crept in because I ended up with the pants fronts not matching the waistband. A couple of pleats solved that, and they are really invisible because of the gathers. I’ll just leave the pockets out next time.

I did understand their waistband instructions, and followed them, but think it would be easier everlastand neater to make the rows of topstitching last, instead of before attaching the waistband to the pants, which is what they have you do. I also want to turn in the edges of the waistband casing instead of just serging it on. It may be an old-fashioned home sewing technique, but I like the clean finish better. I do like the little flat panel in the center front…and it makes me laugh because it reminds me of boxing trunks.

There is optional elastic at the hem of the back leg. I put this in because it’s cute.

Verdict: I like these pants A LOT and will make them again as soon as I find suitable fabric. Fabric choice is important for these – you want something lightweight, but with a good drape, and also with a good substantial feel because they are pants and you don’t want your pants to feel flimsy. I used a mystery fabric that is probably a poly-rayon, in a dark gray, so they are nice and boring for the 6-pak.

As it turns out, I don’t think I needed all the crotch point extensions and will reduce them next time. Not all the way down to the original pattern specs, though. That just looked like there was no way to get a body in there.

The other pair of pants for this 6-pak were already made, so all that’s left is one more jacket (gray) and two knit tops to complete the original plan.

fall 6-pak

Each season there is a nice wardrobe-building sew along on Artisan’s Square. It’s the brainchild of ejvc, whose blog is here, and includes lots of posts on the topic. Each season you sew six items, mostly neutrals, and if you actually complete your six-paks, you end up with a very functional closet full of things that work together. At the beginning of this thread on Artisan’s Square, you can read her prescription for this fall. Fall 6-pak.

I have often joined up, but usually punk out after about 3 or 4 items. I think I’ve finished the whole 6-pak maybe twice. Still, even 3 or 4 planned items that go together are handy to have.

Once again, I’m inspired to give it a try. I even have a plan.

Fall 6-pak_edited-1

Colors are charcoal, indigo, a lighter indigo, and dusty plum. The Burda trousers are already made. The Pure & Simple jacket is a TNT, and there are no worries about fitting the other jacket – this is view B and I have already made view A which fits just fine. The Lola pants and Helix Tee have been sitting out cluttering up my work space for a long time, waiting to be fitted and made. The second top has not pattern selected for it – I’m waiting until the fall issue of Ottobre Woman comes out to see if they have something new that fits with this collection.

This plan is not very ambitious, which gives me hope that it can be completed.

Another attraction of this particular plan is that I already have all the fabrics except for the charcoal jacket, and that should not be difficult to find. This is the fabric stack.

fall 6-pak fabrics

top to bottom:

dusty plum knit of unknown content….a flat fold purchased off a bargain table

blue “Parisian knit” from Marcy Tilton

indigo cotton/spandex with a narrow rib woven in. I bought this stuff for pants and later realized that the ribs would make a noise when I walk, like corduroy. Much better as a jacket.

charcoal drapey poly blend for the Lolas. Polyester is not good for summers here, but OK for fall.

Not pictured is the indigo denim that has already been made up as Burda pants, and the charcoal jacket fabric that I will shop for. Something with some texture would be nice.

I’d like to say a few words about the Burda pants pattern. It’s from the Fall 2008 Plus magazine, number 404, but I believe it also appeared in the regular BurdaStyle mag. It may even be offered as a PDF. For my pear-shaped figure, these pants have been a super substitute for jeans. They have a narrow leg, for a close fit, but the line from hip to ankle is straight. When I look at the line drawings in Burda and they show a cut that hugs the thighs down to the knee, and then goes straight or flares from there, I know those are unflattering to me. This cut seems to be unusual for a close-fitting pant.

Other features that make this pant a winner: there are a total of four darts in the back, excellent for fitting and eliminating a gap at the back waist. And note that the waistband in back is in two pieces. This also helps with fitting because the waistband is attached before stitching the center back seam. You can sew the crotch most of the way, leaving an opening at CB, then try the pants on and pin fit the center back so that it snugs up to your waist. Then sew the CB of the pants and the waistband all in one swoop. Alter the waistband facing to match the waistband and stitch it last.

This method of construction also makes future alteration easy. You can easily open up the waistband to take in that center back seam if you lose weight. If you leave fat seam allowances, you also could let the pants out in the back if needed.

I still had to do some fitting with this pattern, but it was a much better starting point than most patterns. You may not be able to find this exact pattern, but if you have full hips and rear and a relatively small waist, look for the same features when considering pants patterns. I think they will make fitting easier for you.

burda 404

Here is the line drawing again, along with the schematic of the pattern pieces, to illustrate what I wrote about.

two tops

There are a couple of tops to share with you. Both are old patterns, but not so terribly dated.

First up, Sewing Workshop’s Tribeca.

This is one of the first Sewing Workshop patterns I ever bought, so it must be at least 8 years old or so. I made it once before, but in a very sober color and a smaller (boo hoo) size.



This was a fabric-generated project. I think it came up in a search for chambray on Fabric.com, and it was described as having two different sides. When it arrived, I was happy to see it was actual double cloth – two layers of gauze-like cotton attached to each other with tiny “stitches”. You can barely see the blue attaching threads on the white side of the fabric. It aged for a few months while I thought about patterns that would take advantage of the double-sidedness, and eventually the old Tribeca was my choice.

Tribeca has no facings – the outside edges are turned and stitched with tiny little miters at all the corners. It also has a ton of darts. Shoulder darts, two bust darts (including a curved frenchy dart), back darts, and elbow darts shape and control the fullness in this shirt. The buttonholes are reinforced with little backing squares to make up for the lack of facing support. Directions call for french seams everywhere. The double cloth was a little heavy for real french seams, so I made flat fells – grading the layers inside the seam.

Sleeves were a little long, but they look nice rolled up so that’s not a problem.

I doubt I will make it again, as there is something about the shoulder that just isn’t right in either version, despite my comparisons to TNTs and tweaking. It’s not enough to keep me from wearing this, but I don’t think it is worth my time to try to fit and sew again. This will work nicely as either a shirt or lightweight jacket.

Claire Kennedy in her blog recently drew attention to a BurdaStyle pattern that is now available as a download. I recognized it as one I had noted as a possibility for me back when it appeared in the magazine – in the July 2010 issue.

BS_10_07_122_drawingIt’s style #122 – here’s the line drawing.


And here it is, made up in handkerchief linen.  BS_10_07_122You can see that I had to make use of some “design opportunities”. This was originally supposed to be long sleeved like the pattern. However, the upper bodice and attached sleeve is such a large piece, that you have to do single layer cutting. So I cut one side, unpinned the fabric, then flipped the pattern piece and cut out the opposite side. Set the pattern piece aside with the second fabric piece still attached. Can you guess where this story is going?

After most of the main pieces were cut out,  I grabbed the biggest scrap I could find for the collar stand. Yes, the “scrap” was one of the bodice/sleeve pieces that wasn’t attached to the pattern tracing. This is not the first time I’ve done this….some corrective action needs to be worked into my cutting procedures.

So now you know why the sleeves are short and the left front is pieced. I don’t mind it this way, but would still like a long-sleeved version!

I recently adjusted the measurements on my sewing dummy but it truly is only good as a clothes-hanger now. That bust seam really does go across the fullest part of the bust (there’s a dart built into it). You can see where the bust apex is on the dummy. Not an adjustable measurement.

Other notes on the pattern – the sizes ended at 44, but this was easy to scale up to a 46. The collar stand is loose in front when it is buttoned up, and when it is not buttoned it falls away from the neck in a relaxed way. Also, that stand is very narrow and consequently a pain to sew. I’ll probably  make it a little wider when I make my long-sleeved shirt just to make the sewing experience less stressful.

BS_10_07_122_BACKHere’s the back view – when I make this again, I may put a pleat in the lower back piece at the center, or a couple of small pleats at the side, just to give a little extra ease over the seat.

Next up is a pair of pants in a black and white cross-woven cotton to go with the white shirt. When I hung this in the closet, I realized that I have a couple of white tee shirts, but did not have a white woven shirt. This will probably get a lot of wear, as white shirts are a good thing to have.

I realize I’ve been slow with the blog postings lately, and feel guilty because in the meantime I’ve been enjoying everyone else’s blogs. Partly it’s because I have had computer problems, and partly because I don’t need to sew as much now that office wear is not required. The computer has been replaced, and I am slowly learning to use the new platform since the replacement is a mac. The differences between it an my old windows machine are just enough to be a little aggravating, but a little time (and a few time outs!) will get me over that.

Happy sewing, everyone!

Burda to the rescue

Folkwear Croatian Shirt

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.

Burda 2011_07_121
Burda 2011_07_121

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.

finished at last
finished at last

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)

pintuck detail
pintuck detail

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.

Burda2011_07_121 DETAIL2

Happy sewing, all!

Top A Month #4 – Burdastyle + Sewing Workshop

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”.

Burda Mag 2011_05_131
Burda Mag 2011_05_131

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.

voila --voile!
voila –voile!

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.

4. Finished!

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.

some patterns

Firstly, thank you to everyone who has taken the time to make a comment on my little old blog. I am really grateful for anyone that stops by to read, and especially those who comment. I try to reply to comments, but sometimes stuff gets in the way and my would-be replies aren’t timely when I finally am able to make them.  I will answer any specific questions, even if I am a little late with my answers. I do appreciate all of you!

This year has brought some lifestyle changes for me. I’m now retired and working on establishing myself as an illustrator – which is the career I always, always wanted. Woo-hoo, I’m going to have it now! The change also means rethinking my sewing, because in the past most of my sewing was to clothe myself for the office. Now I’m at home, and almost all of my activities (I do still do some house-keeping) are creative ones. This has me rethinking what I want to wear and sew, and what activities I need to have outfits for.

You are probably familiar with the exercise to help focus on real wardrobe needs, the one where you identify what you do in the course of a year to get an idea of where you should concentrate your wardrobing. This is my little breakdown.

Of course I sewed for the fantasy category, the evening events, first. (The two silk jackets in recent posts.) Who among us has not been guilty of similar misplaced priorities? But really, this is for me the easiest category to visualize how I want to dress. The “events” category includes such things as symphony, theater, and gallery openings.  My category evening “social” means date night with spouse, dinner parties and the like. There can be quite a bit of crossover between clothes for the two evening categories. I still need to alter my silk pants and sew one other pair, plus maybe a nice tunic and that would cover the evening categories.

20% is for such things as professional societies (gotta network, you know), church, and any activity in that in-between area where you want to look put-together but not eveningish. This would be that “business casual” look that has been so hard for many people to nail. Now I want to incorporate a bit of creativity into this category, too. I’m thinking in terms of a simple interior column, like pants and matching tank, with a statement jacket for this category.

That leaves the big 60% everyday category. There are two thoughts about this.

One thing I did is go back through my last two years of Burda magazines and make note of the patterns I thought would work for my 60%, and compile them into a graphic for easy reference. Since I have many more years in the archive, I might mine them for additional patterns, too. My Burda subscription has lapsed, so I have no 2012 issues to pick from, but here are my picks from 2011 and 2010.

My tastes really run to the classic shirt/tunic & pants combo, and would shorten any dress patterns above to make tunics. Yes, I am currently liking shirts more than knit tops. They’re cooler, don’t cling, and I like sewing them more. When the urge to make a knit strikes, I turn to Ottobre.

There is another idea coloring my thoughts for the 60%, and that is Lagenlook. There have been a couple of threads on Stitcher’s Guild regarding this style.  I’ll include them with some other links at the end of this post. This is a look that is really growing on me, and I can see using many patterns that I already own to make up the look: Marcy Tilton Vogues, Cutting Line Designs, and Sewing Workshop. I also lucked into these old McCall’s patterns recently. They’re from the mid-90s, but are lagen-adaptable.

This first one is my favorite. I would make the pinafore dress as a top, and make the jacket more of a duster length. I would even make the pants from this pattern with the side drawstrings, but would probably pair them with a closer-fitting top. Big all over is big in lagenlook, but doesn’t do me any favors.

The second one has another top/jacket with a scoop neck. The pants from this pattern don’t look overly wide, but I have a nice Burda TNT for drawstring pants.

Lastly, this one. I’m unlikely to use the pinafore, but might adapt the square neck dress with the flange-y sleeves into a top. Might try the woven t-type top, too.

I think one of the thing about lagenlook that I like is that many of the shapes and styles are like big shirts, and I am really liking the shirts these days. There is also a very romantic, ruffled boho style that is on the lagen spectrum, but it’s not for me. I’m drawn to the simpler, more folkloric-looking styles. I’m not sure what will come off the sewing machine for the big 60%, but I’m in for some experimenting. It will be fun to explore some new things!

Yes, I am still making the Chanel jacket. It will fit into the meetings and evening social categories.

And now for some linky links related to lagenlook, mostly gleaned from the Stitcher’s Guild threads.

Stitcher’s Guild Lagenlook thread – Lots more links here, including bunches to the frilly boho looks.

Stitcher’s Guild Lagenpac thread

Eileen Fisher – lagenesque


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