an Ottobre palate cleanser

Thanks so much to those who left comments on the previous post, and also to those who sent encouraging vibes out into the ether. The sleeves are in on the jacket – hems, chain, and general finish/press are all that are left. Since my goal is to wear the jacket to Christmas concerts this year, I think I’m in good shape.

A long time ago, Leslie in Austin prescribed a knit top as the answer for mojo fatigue. The latest Ottobre Woman has just arrived, and they do such a good job with knits, so it was a quick trace and sew to make #4 from this issue. It’s a raglan-sleeved T with a wide neckline. I used a gray heather-effect ITY from Marcy Tilton specifically to be a light-weight layer under this vest. The vest is one I like, but it hasn’t been worn much because a navy or white layer underneath just seems too matchy.

made specifically to wear with the vest on the right
made specifically to wear with the vest on the right

Here are the findings: I was concerned that the neckline might be too wide since my shoulders are slightly narrow. Good news, bra straps are covered and the top does not slip around from side to side. The sleeves are a bit narrow for me on this style. I widened them a little, but they are still quite snug. I swung the hem out quite a bit  – maybe too much – so that it wouldn’t get hung up in back. That’s really fine since this piece will probably always be worn as an underlayer.

There are some weird little folds just like darts running from the side seam to above the breast on both sides. Those will have to be addressed if I make this again to wear without overlayers. I’m not at all familiar with altering raglan styles, but it seems like shortening everything about 3/8 of an inch somewhere above the bustline will help.

I used the neckline facing for view B (a dress) to get the length for the neck binding. It was way too short. Cut a much longer strip using the same width – since the binding is sewn on in the flat before stitching up the last shoulder seam, it’s easy just to cut a long strip and cut off the excess.

The side seams really have quite a bit of shaping to them that doesn’t show up in the photos. If you make your tops more fitted than I do, the shaping should show. The neckline is a pretty shape.

One last note – Ottobre tops, whether shirts or knits, always seem to be a little on the long side to me. Not this one! The stated finished length is correct, and it is shorter than their usual. I lengthened an inch.

Tracing to finish was maybe 3 hours? Not long. How refreshing!

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SAM #7 and other things

Shirt #7, with no sleeves or associated cuffs and plackets, was a much quicker sew and also just right for hot summer weather. This is that Ottobre shirt from the 02-06 issue, this time in the #4 incarnation, which is sleeveless.

The fabric is a Liberty lawn. This pattern is called “Pepper”, and is probably the ittiest, bittiest  print they make. Since the fabric was so nice, I wanted to be sure to make something classic. I also took care to sew the narrowest french seams I could, and the bias binding for the armholes was also the very skinniest I could manage. I also wanted to use my old-time Singer buttonholer to make the best possible buttonholes, but could not get it to work with this lightweight fabric. When I slipped something stouter under the foot, it worked fine. I did mess with the foot pressure and tension, but to no avail. Does anyone have any suggestions for the future? So the buttonholes were done on the Janome, which makes pretty darn nice ones, just not with as many variations as the  cams in the Singer attachment allow.

Made a few more tweaks with dart placement and think the tweaking of this pattern is finally finished. One thing I’ve noted with Ottobre patterns is that the bust point is much closer to the side than mine. So the vertical darts were moved toward the center; the horizontal dart was adjusted just a bit, too.

If I ever buy another dressform, I’ll get one with a cotton cover. This one has some kind of grabby velour on it that makes it so hard to take a nice photo. Everything clings everywhere.

The shirt is part of my summer 6-pack, and there are pants to go with it. These are the pants in the same Ottobre issue as the shirt, 02-06. Photographing pants is always a problem for me. Here’s a fuzzy mirror shot that at least shows the two pieces together. I modified the pants by replacing the slash pockets (don’t like the gaping) with pockets with a horizontal opening. Which doesn’t show, because I don’t tuck my tops.

When the last Ottobre Woman issue came, I really wanted to make style #10, the cute crossover top. Ordered the perfect striped knit to make it from, and got the thing nearly completed. Unfortunately, my usual Ottobre size was too small! Not only that, but it was too short! I was really put out, because the back waist length on Ottobre has always been just right in my usual size. I may still try the crossover top again.

That effort left me with some good-size scraps. The navy and chartreuse stripe was all peppy and energizing, so I really wanted to use it. There was just barely enough to squeeze out the Linnea top, from Ottobre 02-10, style #1. This is such a simple pattern, and I’ve wanted to try it for quite awhile, but didn’t have appropriate material. That lightweight rayon knit was just perfect. It went together in about 2 hours (probably faster for you if you have more facility with knits) and gave me no headaches! Changes from the pattern: bound the armholes instead of the turn and stitch finish in the instructions. For the hem, I decided to cut a band and serge it to the bottom. I wasn’t sure I could sew a twin-needle hem very well on such a light-weight knit. I love wearing this simple top with its easy neckline, and want to find some other knits that work for it.

Whether you’re sewing or not, I hope you’re having the summer you want!

More Paco Peralta and SAM #5

So this is the knit that all the fuss is about. See how useful it is? It’s got a great geometric print that I think is kinda sophisticated. It has all the neutrals – gray, black, taupe and can go with just about anything. I got this in Austin on PR day and we bought every inch in the store, so I don’t want to waste it on an unproven pattern, or one beyond my skill.

I believe the pattern has been found, and it is Paco Peralta’s drape front top. Here’s my trial version, made up without any changes or alterations except cutting the hip a little wider. The pattern is sized S-M-L, and based on the sizing measurements, I debated about grading up to an XL. The pattern can be made either with knits or wovens, with the only change being that the drape piece is cut on the bias for wovens. Since I was thinking knits, I decided to go ahead and try the large. That turned out just fine. In fact, if I try this pattern in a woven, I think I will still use the L and add some extra to the side seam allowances for fitting.

The pattern went together beautifully and quickly. I haven’t sewn any of the other cowl/drape tops that are very popular right now, but the difference with this one is that the V inset for the cowl piece is very deep, almost at waist level, and the legs of the V extend into the armscyes, not the shoulder seam. I love the little cap sleeves and think they do a lot to make this a flattering style for me. That said, when I use the special fabric, I plan to add sleeves.

There are no directions with the pattern, but this one is pretty easy to figure out. I serged the portion of the cowl that acts as the facing, but you could leave it unfinished as long as your fabric doesn’t run. For the back neck and armscye edges, I used a very narrow binding in self fabric.

The finished top doesn’t slip around on my shoulders, or splay open to show bra straps like some knit tops do, so I’m very pleased. I’ll be making it in the special fabric, but right now I’m a little frustrated with knits and am having a bit of a time out.  The very cute “Martina” crossover top in the last Ottobre Woman just barely missed the wearable mark. I want to make it again, with alterations, but knowing myself it is a good time to walk away from the knits for a little bit.

So I made up a CLD pattern that has been waiting patiently – The Blouse Perfected – and even though it says it’s a blouse, for my purposes it is Shirt #5. There are several views in the envelope – the one here, with no cuff and cute little side vents at the hem, a full-on shirt with cuff and sleeve plackets and shirt tails, optional vertical darts (with special instructions on placing your darts), and an artsy draped-front style for you adventuresome types. I started with the quickest version just to get an idea of the fit. The shirts are loose-fitting. If you want more shape, add the darts. But if you’re looking for a very fitted shirt, this is not your pattern. Other features: cut on facings. Separate R and L fronts allow for a clever and very neat front band treatment. Collar and stand.

Alterations – as drafted, this shirt actually tapers at the hem – the hip is smaller than the bust. Yes, I was glad I read the finished garment measurements before cutting!! No way can I handle that kind of shape. I altered so that the sides fall straight down, and made the 1/2 inch forward shoulder adjustment I now do on all of the CLD patterns. Did not alter the length and I like where it happened to fall. The result is very nice casual shirt. No surprise there, that’s exactly what I expect and always get from Cutting Line Designs.

Fabric: all cotton shirting in a fine black & white stripe – so it looks gray in the photo.

For those of you who can wear fitted capri pants, this version with the straight hem would be a cute pairing. Another thing I noticed, when trying this one on before the sleeves were added, is that it looks great sleeveless with that somewhat extended shoulder. There is definately one of those coming up in the future. And I will be trying the vertical darts, too.

BTW, this shirt is the first one that I used Pam Erny’s Shirt-Crisp interfacing on. Yes, it is juuuuust right for shirts! Thank you, Pam!

McCall’s 6513

During the PatternReview birthday celebration in Austin, lots of us bought a fantastically versatile knit at Uncommon Thread, I think it was. A geometric confetti-like print that included the colors black, taupe, gray, and off-white. It’s like the type O of fabrics – goes with everything! I want to use this fabric as part of my spring 6-pak, but because it is so special, prospective patterns are being auditioned. I had high hopes for McCall’s 6513, but it came up a little short.M6513

You can see the fabric, and what Bonnie did with her piece, here. See how lovely her top is? I want mine to be nice, too.

Here’s a lovely bathroom mirror shot of my muslin. The fabric I used here came from Fashionista Fabrics, and I liked it because it’s rather sophisticated for a pink. You can’t see too well in this photo, but the raspberry-sherbet pink is speckled with burgundy. Pink does great things for my complexion, but since it usually looks sweet, it sends mixed messages when I wear it. While I am flattered by pink, I am not sweet.

The pattern came close, it really did, and I will wear my pink top, but I don’t think it makes the cut for the confetti knit.  I wanted something with a lot of drape to it. This pattern has that. But even though I did a forward shoulder adjustment, it wants to slide to the back. The hem wants to ride up. And when I wore it yesterday, I had to keep adjusting the folds in the front to keep my bra covered. I hope I can tack it it place without destroying the drape.

There is an Ottobre pattern in a similar wrap style that I may try. OR, I might add sleeves to Paco Peralta’s drape-front top.

I may end up with a little collection of knit tops from the muslins to find the perfect pattern. Eh, there are worse things!

Knits and Refashioning

I’m still a relative newbie when it comes to sewing knits. I’ve had successes, but they still seem like a lot of trouble. However, one really needs knit pieces in the wardrobe, especially for those tank and T underlayers. A week or so ago, I was scanning the online fabric stores for knits for these indespensible pieces…and coming up with an empty shopping cart. Everything was too bright, too splashy, too polyester.

Now, sometimes when the most basic of Ts is needed, Kohl’s or Target comes in handy. But when the fashion is for a really tight fit, or when the season’s hot colors aren’t your cuppa, or when you just want something a little more interesting, it’s time to make it yourself. But I wasn’t finding knits that I liked online, either.

My solution: I visited Dillard’s closeout store, where things are marked way, way down, and visited the big & tall men’s section. I usually prefer the colors, patterns, and textures of menswear to what’s available in the ladies departments. This little trip netted me three pieces to remake into something for myself. The first was a plum-colored v-neck pullover in a silk/cotton jersey. Here it is in its original state.

Lots of nice fabric there, but not enough to make my first choice of knit tops, which was a sleeveless scrunchneck. I am a tall girl, and even though this pullover was a man’s XXL, it wasn’t long enough for a cut-on neck. It this had been a crew or a turtle…..maybe it could have been done.

Plan B was for a tank that I could wear with another piece I picked up at the close-out shop (actually from the ladies’ section!), a drape-front cardi in a burnout fabric. I knew that I wanted to preserve the original ribbing at the hem, which was a little different than ordinary ribbing. Another factor in that decision is that the hems on my homemade knits are usually my least favorite part – both in execution and in their final appearance.

Out came the Marcy Tilton tank pattern. There is something about the proportions of this tank that are just right for me. I didn’t complicate this experiment with trying to shape the sides. I cut it straight up, using the pattern for only the armholes and shoulder. I modified the scoop neck to a V.

The sleeves furnished the material to bind the neckline and the armholes. With refashioning like this, it seems like you have two choices. You can pick whether to preserve the manufacturer’s neck or hem treatment. If the neck is the part you’re re-cutting, binding has to come from somewhere. If you choose to leave the neckline as is, then you can just chop of the length, allowing for a hem.

Here’s the finished tank, and another shot showing it with the burnout cardi that I’ll be pairing it with.

The other part of the ensemble is four-ply silk one-seam pants, which are yet to be made. I did do a trial pair from Louise Cutting’s re-issue of her one-seam pattern, which includes the patterns for both straight and tapered pants plus some extra refinements (like pockets and darts). Working through the instructions from the beginning (over half the instructions are for choosing size and altering the pattern to your measurements), my trial pair of straight-leg pants are just dandy. I’ll be cutting into the silk and making those up soon.

That will be my basic symphony outfit this season. There is also a black silk matka jacket planned, but it might be awhile before I get to that. The tank and cardi will keep me going until the jacket has its day, or at least until these drapey cardis are totally over.

A project like this, where you cut up something perfectly wearable (by someone) to make something else is not, alas, “green”. Not unless you snatch your source fabric out of the incinerator. But I did end up something that I like and that I will wear for a long time, and in the end there was not too much waste of material.