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.

6-pack completed

I like the 6-pack idea that ejvc has been hosting on Stitcher’s Guild for several years now. Six pieces a season that work together is doable and over time builds a nice wardrobe. It’s also something you can accomplish without sticking closely to a plan. All that planning is enjoyable, but carrying out a pre-planned sewing scheme feels a little like coloring within the lines. It gets to be rote and not as fun as it could be. But with the 6-pack, you can just say, “I’m going to work with a neutral and whatever other colors I feel like, and make a couple of pairs of pants and tops that go with them, and then I’ll make a jacket” and make it up as you go along from there. Like a very short endless combinations chain.

HOWEVER, I’m not sure if I ever actually completed all six pieces, until now.

Ta-da! This much-needed jean jacket tops off the other things sewn for the 2012 summer grouping.  The pattern is an old Burda World of Fashion (as it was called then) – from the 2/2006 issue, #133. It’s a plus-size pattern, sized 44 – 52. The cotton-lycra twill came from Michaels, and so it is nice stuff.

First about the fabric. I think I’m done with lycra. Even with a walking foot, it just wants to ripple along horizontal seams. You can see that even on RTW, where they can calibrate every little aspect of a stitch for the best performance. For this jacket, the idea of buttons had to be abandoned when I couldn’t make a decent buttonhole in the fabric. Lucky there were some leftover snaps in the button drawer!

This is the 4th time I’ve made this pattern and it was refined a little further from the last iteration, mostly by narrowing the shoulders even further. The Burda babes have w-i-i-de shoulders. The good thing about this jacket: it has lots of curves built in. I took out a lot of the waist shaping because I thought curves+lycra would mean wonky flat-felled seams.

Next time a jean jacket is required though, I think it will be time to pick another pattern to work with. 2006 isn’t ancient, but it’s probably time for an update and a fresh start. Like, next time, I’ll start with the right shoulder size instead of trimming down and trimming down.

Do you ever mentally rewrite your old reviews? First time I made the pattern, with very few alterations, I was thrilled with it and made it twice. I wore those jackets to death and even dyed one of them so I could keep wearing it after an accident with cranberry juice. They really were a step forward for me at the time and I believe there was much gushing in my review. That’s often the case – pleasure in completing a project clouds the critical judgement.  Maybe it would be worth it to edit and add a note about how projects wore after a couple of years, or if I fell out of love. Maybe it would be a good idea to wait a few months before reviewing.

A white jean jacket is something I should not be without. It has been worn quite a bit since it was finished, and fills a major wardrobe gap!

The rest of the 6-pack can be seen in these posts. There were two pairs of pants, a woven tank, a classic long-sleeve shirt that can double as an overlayer, and a sleeveless shirt.

first top & pants

second top & pants


new season, new 6-pak

The group that is participating in the 6-Pak sewalong at Stitcher’s Guild is so much fun that I had to join up for the summer season, too. But this will be an unplanned 6-Pak, since I also want the thrills, chills, and hair-raising excitement of making it up as I go along.

The first two items are complete, and looky looky, it’s a column.

The pants are from Marcy Tilton’s V8397 in a drapey linen/lycra blend. I’ve discovered that I like these semi-funky pants a lot as long as they are in drapey fabrics. I’m still not ready for the full-on funk of some of the arty pants styles. The top is from an old Burda envelope pattern, 3473. It’s a basic scoop-neck, darted tank top. The fabric is some sort of linen or cotton…maybe originally intended for a tablecloth? Whatever, I liked the texture and cut it on the bias for this tank.

For both of these items, I was dealing with short yardage. I must have gotten both of these pieces at Pursley’s when they were going out of business, so there was no opportunity to buy extra.

For the top, I had just enough to cut the front and the back. To finish the neck and armholes, I made  a bias binding from some off-white batiste. The binding was applied just like you

would for a knit top: folded the bias in half, matched up all the raw edges and stitched. Serged the seam allowances and pressed them to the inside, leaving just a little of the bias showing at the edge so it gives the same effect as piping. Topstitched along the edges.

The pants needed a little invention, too. This pattern has a front, back, and side panel, and each needs to be the full length of the pants. I was just inches short of being able to cut all three pieces full length. These pants have a very short inseam, so as drafted they would have been very short crops on me. I wanted them just above the ankle and lengthened the leg 2″ in order to get them that length – so shortening was not an option.

I love the phrase “make a virtue of a necessity” and that’s what had to be done here. A  poket was added, inspired by the CLD Easy, Ageless, Cool pants (which are very similar to this Vogue Pattern). The pocket enabled me to cut the side panel as two pieces, and it is such an easy pocket to do, too. Here’s what I did:

The side panel is a rectangle. For the lower part, I cut the rectangle as long as my fabric would allow. For the upper part, I cut a shape like this, because I was so short on fabric I didn’t even have enough to square off all four corners. Serged the lower edge (the top and sides will be finished when the seam are completed in the normal pattern steps).

The lower panel needed to be prepped for the pocket opening. I serged and interfaced the top edge, then pressed under an inch and a half for a self-facing. Edgestitched the fold and topstitched along the serging.

Now to line it all up. Took the pattern piece, and aligned the top of the upper side panel with the top of the pattern. Then lay the lower side panel on top, aligning the bottom to the bottom of the pattern piece. I had about an 8 inch overlap. All that remained was to topstitch the bottom edge of the upper side panel through both layers, which makes the pocket bag. The rest of the pocket seams are stitched when the side panel is joined to the front
and back.

more matchy-matchy

This is the second inside column for my 6-pak, which means I’m 2/3 done! The inside column idea has found a foothold in the spring 6-pak sewalong at Stitcher’s Guild. Janis made a great one for travel from microfiber, and it seems like other people are planning others, so I hope there are more inspirational pictures to come on that thread.

Here are the deets on this little combo…

The fabric is once again a mystery blend and I expect it is rayon and polyester. It’s a lightweight twill weave. It doesn’t appear to be of very good quality, and already looks a bit worn just from being laundered once. Too bad, but these combos are experimental so no hearts have been broken.

The pants are CLD One-Seams again, the tapered leg version. I still haven’t made these with pockets. The pocketless versions go together ultra-fast once you’ve done the fitting. And when you’re making two garments from the same fabric, speed can help you outrun boredom. I wish I could claim that I keep my mind on achieving my goals, and that I do whatever it takes to get there. Alas, I get bored sewing the same fabric twice….however, it beats winding the bobbin with a new thread color. So there you have it: the girl is flakey and lazy.

The top involved a little drafting. The starting point was the Ottobre “Carmen” top (issue May of 09) that I took the time to fit last year. As drafted, the top has a one-piece front and a back zipper. It also had the neckline & armscye facings combined in one piece. Changes for this version:

  1. Added a cut-on facing for a center front buttoned opening, incorporating a little notch to make the neckline more interesting. It reminds me a little of a sweetheart neckline.
  2. Drafted a back neckline facing.
  3. Used bias binding for the armscyes.
  4. Eliminated the vertical darts front & back for looser fit.
  5. Edgestitched and topstitched all the openings. Facings were also stitched down at their edges.

Next time I use this pattern again I think I’ll change the neckline to a more basic scoop or V-neck. That wide scoop is pretty distinctive. It has shoulder darts in the back that could be converted to ease, too.

Two garments left to go on the 6-pak! One is the knit top (I think I’ve found the right pattern for that prized knit) and the other is a Sewing Workshop Liberty shirt.


This is a top & bottom combo made for a spring 6-pak. My plan calls for 2-count ’em-2 matchy-matchy tops and bottoms. Bottom for both are from the new CLD one-seam pants. They are quick to make, fit nicely, and are well-suited for casual combinations.  The top for this combo is also a CLD pattern – it’s the shell from Plain & Simple.

Making the matching pieces seemed like a good idea for several reasons: 1. A friend wore just this sort of pants & shell combo a few years ago with a nice necklace, and I’m still thinking about the outfit. That’s staying power. 2. Thinking in terms of Nancy Rix Rice’s inside/outside columns, those inside columns are my best look, and they work well with contrasting jackets. Lasty, 3. It’s thrifty. If the fabric is wide enough, you can squeeze a little shell out of the scraps from a pair of pants.

However, the two plain pieces were too plain, even for me, and a little embellishment was in order. Years ago, Threads magazine ran an article on using decorative threads and ribbons, hand-wound on the bobbin, for an easy embellishment technique. Here’s the article.  I didn’t get too adventurous. My thread was perle cotton

from JoAnn’s, in a color that toned in with the fabric. I loosened the tension on the top thread a little, lengthened the stitch, and made some free-form stripes across the shoulder/sleeve area of the top.
My thinking is that if you can’t be accurate enough to make your work look perfect, it’s better to make it look like you intended it to be free-form and random all along.

After the stripes were stitched, the embellishment seemed kind of half-hearted. It needed just a little more work to make enough of a statement. So, I wove additional thread between some of the rows of stitches in a zig-zag pattern, being careful not to draw the thread too tight. That seemed about right to me, and the top was ready to sew up. Because this fabric was a little heavier than usual for a top, I used silk scraps to make bias tape to finish the neckline and armholes.

The 6-pak will be finished out with another top & bottom combo in taupe (the pants are already made & awaiting hemming), a knit top in the Type-O confetti knit for which I am still auditioning patterns, and a Sewing Workshop Liberty shirt in a grey/taupe double sided linen.

I’ve been on a little bit of a spending spree, driven by some sale pricing and by sewing board chatter. Haven’t spent huge sums, but all the spending is coming at once instead of being spread out over time. It’s much nicer IMO to have a little treat show up in the mailbox once a month or so, instead of all at once with long spells inbetween. Oh, well. This is my little sewing bender:

  1. Bought samples and a piece of indigo knit from Christine Jonson. Then right after I got my samples, she announced a sale. Seems like a good time to make my choices & order.
  2. Sale on interfacing at Fashion Sewing Supply. I’ve been wanting to try the new Shirt-Crisp interfacing for some of the Shirt-A-Month tops, so now was the time to order.
  3. There has been much talk about Style Arc patterns on the boards, and I decided I wanted to give them a try. The very poplar Linda pant and the Jasmine pant are on the way. One of the exciting things about the internet is that it’s made pattern lines from all over the world available to us. I love it that I’ve sewed patterns from Germany, Finland, the Netherlands, Spain, and soon Australia.
  4. Cutting Line Design’s latest issue, The Blouse Perfected, is now available, and new issues are offered at a reduced price. I knew I’d be buying it eventually…so…..