ready for fall

photo has been enhanced, but it's still black and hard to see
photo has been enhanced, but it’s still black and hard to see

Ready for cooler weather with 3 jackets!

First up, yet another By Popular Demand jeanish-type jacket. This one was lengthened a lot, and a little shaping was added to the sides. I’m coming to realize that my back-to-waist length must be at least 2 inches longer than this pattern line is designed for.

This is a TNT pattern, so no other refinements were needed. I did change the construction a bit in order to include an underlining that also hides the seam allowances, a variation on the stitch & flip technique.

Fabric – cotton pique. I really thought it would be nice and stable to work with. Surprise! Wrong! This stuff grew on every edge. I’ve never used pique before, so I’m not sure if that is characteristic of the weave or if I just ended up with a very “special” piece.CLD BPD black 2

Underlining – printed silk charmeuse that I bought long ago for another project that never made it to the cutting table. It works great for this little jacket, though. I’m glad to finally have it out of the stash. Stash is like compost – it fertilizes your mojo, but it’s better if you turn it over once in awhile.

I used gunmetal grey snaps from Snap Source for this jacket. These were the last of a large-ish order I placed many years back. Time to get some more as they are nice to have on hand.

CLD OTMThis one is another Cutting Line design called Of the Moment. I had muslined this jacket before and thought it looked sloppy on me, so I put it away. I really wanted to make the style work, though, so made it the first experiment in developing blocks with different shoulder fits. The original OTM design has a sleeve seam, but without any shaping. It’s essentially a straight kimono/dolman shoulder and sleeve.

I overlaid the Paco Peralta asian jacket that fits me well and altered the OTM shoulder & sleeve to match it. I’m MUCH happier with the fit of my altered version – this one now can move into the win column! Again, the pattern was lengthened at least 2 inches. For this version, I used two left fronts (as designed, the pattern has more drape to the right front, less on the left). Topstitching was done with the machine’s triple stitch using rusty orange thread, like on jeans. It only shows when you view the jacket close up, but does add a nice little detail.

The material came from Fabricker and had the nice quality of being the weight of a denim, but soft and drapey – right in the Goldilocks zone for this style. This pattern would really show off double-sided fabric, and I hope to find some to make it again.

An unusual thing about the OTM pattern is that the neck facing is the most important piece! How often does that happen? If it becomes distorted or is not sewn accurately, the mitered effect of the turnback lapel is ruined. The rest of the jacket is straight and very easy sewing.

V7975_finishedThen there is this one, the snakebit project. Finally finished after more than a year. It started life as V8804, but ended up V7975. From pattern errors to notions sourcing difficulties to design indecision to seamstress mistakes to inevitable compromise, this one dragged me through it all. Here it is – quilted lining, chain at hem, not perfect but complete at long last.

I cursed this thing so much that the negativity permeates the fabric like cigarette smoke. How do you exorcise evil spirits from a garment so that it is safe to wear? Seriously, what do you do when you are sick of something by the time you finish it?


the leopard, she cannot change her spots

needs sleeves, hems, and pockets
needs sleeves, hems, and pockets

Last year around this time I was all fired up about the new Claire Shaeffer V8804, another one of her Chanel-type jackets, complete with the quilted lining and many fussy construction details that I wanted to learn. I was also fired up to emulate the great Ann Rowley, and purposefully gather all my materials and make all my design decisions before starting on the jacket, thread tracing and copying all the other fine techniques Ann uses all the time. This is contrary to my usual way of working in which I kind of make it up as I go along.

I do give myself a pat on the back for having tried to do things another way, but it just didn’t work for me.

For one thing, I had trouble assembling all materials and trim, because I had specific things in mind that I just could not find. (This is a big reason that I don’t like shopping. I can never find what I want.) I spent weeks just trying to source things, with my mojo fading before I even threaded up the machine. Then the compromises began, and that killed off my remaining motivation. I’ll fess up to the compromises when I show the finished jacket.

I usually don’t have UFOs because I am strict with myself about finishing project A before moving on to project B. Finishing is the most tedious process, and it is much more fun to start something new. So I have to make myself finish. In this case, I was so frustrated that I cut myself some slack and put it all in a box where it sat reproaching me all through the spring and summer.

Now that cooler weather is only a couple of months off, I decided to do whatever it takes to get this thing finished. The trim has been applied and the sleeves are all ready to insert. I have chain to apply to the hem. A couple more sessions and it should be done.

And then I’ll go back to my usual comfortable way of working. Not that I’ll never attempt a labor-intensive project again, but I will have to gain some perspective on this one first.

embrace your spots and relax


a knit top and some pants fitting

V8536This post is mainly to get some photos on the web so I can post them in some forums, so it may be a little short on text.

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 V8536 detailtwo 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.CLD MSS 2

change of plans

Sorry, 6-Pac, maybe next time.

Spouse and I had a long drive into town a couple of weeks ago and were discussing what we’d be doing this fall. And then I had the moment that I had been waiting for….the realization that I actually needed some dressier clothes. This NEVER happens to me.

Do you ever need real formalwear?

What I need is not the real thing – no gowns, nothing like that. Just a few outfits that read “special occasion” and are still comfortable. I have a predictable pair of black silk pants. Predictability only bothers me a teeny-tiny bit.  So I thought I’d sew some tops to go with them…and maybe jazz things up with a second pair of pants in charcoal. How wild and crazy can I get?

These are the toppers that are forthcoming….

This one is actually almost finished, except for hemming.

It’s been a long time since I’ve traced and made something from a Burda magazine. Maybe absence makes the heart grow fonder, or maybe I was just so unhappy with Vogue (more on that below) that the reliability of Burda was like a refreshing breeze.

The fabric is a berry-colored raw silk that I purchased from Cynthia Guffey at a workshop. The texture doesn’t show up very well, but there is a lot of it. This has been nice stuff to work with. The line drawings look like a jacket, but I’ll always be wearing this all fastened up, as a top.  With 3/4 length sleeves, it rose to the top of the list because it will look a little autumnal but still be cool to wear. That’s a must around here until December or January roll around. More on this when it’s all finished, which will be soon I hope.
Then, I am also very anxious to sew the new Cutting Line pattern. I’ll be making view A first, in a black & white dupioni. This one can be worn buttoned up as a shirt or open as a jacket. Either way, it will be loose fitting and comfortable.

View A has the double collar band. My plan is to cut one with the grain of the fabric running perpendicular to the body of the shirt. Will probably require a seam at CB. And at first I was going to leave off the pocket, but have changed my mind about that.

Some ideas are percolating for view B, but that has to be put off until later.


Now we come to Vogue. Skip over this paragraph if you want to avoid negativity. I had been collecting the materials to make the new Claire Shaeffer V8804 and got as far as making a muslin. I ordered this pattern as soon as it came out, because I was that excited to make it. In my pattern there were two pattern pieces that were not graded – the under sleeve and the side panel – but I thought maybe I could reverse engineer them. Well, that question will never be answered because there were just too many problems with the muslin and they were not problems that I’ve had before, so I wasn’t sure how to fix. The sleeve did not look good at all. I could have pestered Vogue for a replacement pattern (my first e-mail to them went unanswered), but in the end decided that I would not be able to make this pattern work. That was a real let-down, but I am done complaining about it now. 🙂

Vogue 7975, however, I have made before and was very happy with. I’ll apply Claire’s techniques and Ann Rowley’s excellent tutorial to this pattern instead.

Mood Fabrics has chain that’s appropriate for weighting the hem, and my buttons came from Mood, too. They are nothing fancy. Still need to make the trim before I get started cutting and assembling this jacket, but since it will be a warm one, it is the last on the list.

What do you need for autumn?

Sam #8 and Vogue 8810

The shirt for August is one for the spouse – hence the hanger shot instead of one on the dressform. This is Kwik Sew 2935, a short-sleeved sport shirt with convertible collar and back pleats.  Also included is a pattern for an “On Golden Pond bucket hat. This is the second shirt I’ve made from this pattern. The first one was an experiment…I made something I was pretty sure he never would have picked out (I used fabric with -gasp- a stripe in it!), but he actually wore it. Maybe he is just sucking up? But since the first one has actually appeared in public more than once, I made a second, in a fabric that is much more like what he would choose from a rack in a store. It has a stripe, too, but it is just a self-colored woven textured stripe, and I made a few other changes at Spouse’s request. The original design has a little button loop sewn at the top of the center front, to use if buttoning the very top button. Spouse found that fussy. He also did not liked the buttons on the chest pockets.

So for this iteration, there is a single pocket with no button, and no little loop. I actually liked the little loop, so I will use it on some shirts for myself. This new one has also been worn a few times, which has emboldened me to make more. Annie-Oh on PatternReview mentioned that she had been happy with the cottons she has ordered from Before you could say “aloha”, there were a few pieces on the way to my place. One piece earmarked for another one of these KS2935 shirts is a lovely barkcloth with an oriental print. It looks kind of purplish in the photo but is actually navy & eggshell. 

I also ordered another print for him, and one for myself, too…just to amortize the shipping costs. Yeah, that’s the ticket…

I have tried a few KS patterns for myself and they haven’t really worked for me, but this one is a winner.

Another recent project was from Vogue 8810.When this pattern came out, I thought it would adapt to make a nice top (no dresses for me) from a stashed lightweight cotton with a depression-era type print. The pattern bodice has a vintage vibe to me and just seemed right.

There were lots of changes made to make it work for that soft voile. Both bodice and back were enlarged below the bust so that it would not cling on the hip. The pattern has the skirt cut separately, so the bodice ends at the waist and had to be lengthened to be a top. I was not going to use the casing/drawstring, but decided to tame the fullness I had added with some pintucks at the waist. There are a total of 16 1/8 inch tucks, 4 on each side of both the front and back.

You get a nice bathroom mirror shot to show that it has a little shape – not too much. I’ve learned that I really need a forward shoulder & neck adjustment on just about every pattern, no matter who it comes from. The result is that now nothing ever sits right on the dressform, because old Red Sonja has better posture than I. What a difference that adjustment makes in the wearing of the clothes!

Now for a gripe on the Vogue pattern. YOU CANNOT MAKE A SLEEVELESS GARMENT JUST BY LEAVING OFF THE SLEEVES! I raised the bottom of the armhole 5/8 of an inch and it was not enough.  All the big 4 issue patterns where they show a sleeveless view, but there’s only one bodice. It just doesn’t work like that. I can still wear my cool little blouse, because I always wear a jacket when I’m in public, but this time I think the lesson is learned. In future I will always copy from a TNT sleeveless when they haven’t provided a bodice specifically for the sleeveless view.

Lastly, an update on the Vogue 8804 epic project. I have bought charmeuse lining in a tealy-steely blue and some yarns to crochet the trim. However. Turns out there is an error on one of the pieces of the three-piece sleeve. Vogue only included one size. I seem to recall that the last time Vogue issued a CS pattern with a 3-piece sleeve, they got that one wrong the first time, too. Word is that the pattern has been re-issued. I’ve e-mailed Vogue for a replacement, and got a response that something was wrong with their mailbox. I’m hoping that they can send me a replacement soon…if not, I’m deciding between forging ahead and trusting in my muslin, or switching to another similar pattern that I’ve made before and drawing on CS’s directions and the wonderful picture tutorial Ann Rowley has done on this jacket for construction details.

Anyone interested in this jacket, there’s a thread over on Stitcher’s Guild devoted to it. Links to Ann’s tutorial are sprinkled throughout the thread.

Happy sewing to you!

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.

wardrobe planning, vintage vogue style

Back to the 1960 Vogue Pattern Book….it was very fun to see that they had a wardrobe planing article in this issue! Some things don’t change. The magazine published bi-monthly, and each issue featured two patterns with recommended fabrics and accessories. Unfortunately, my issue is only the second installment, so we don’t know what the completed wardrobe looked like.

The wardrobe is built around three neutral colors – white, beige, and black. The first two patterns were a suit and a more casual full skirt and blouse combo. The suit’s camisole was white silk linen. The blouse (on the right) was made in a brown silk check.

This month, they added another full skirt (the fullness is from unpressed pleats) in brown linen (so it can also be worn with the blouse from the last issue). The white dolman-sleeve top, with vertical darts for fitting, was also made in linen. This is the ensemble on the left in the illustration.

The outfit on the right was made for evening. The dress is sleeveless with a v-neckline, and the skirt has less volume. The back of the dress is not shown, but they describe it as having a very deep v, too. It was made in beige shantung. The bolero was made in paprika red, with a toggle-like closure.

They also combined the cami from the first month with the brown linen skirt and the paprika bolero.

Here are the combinations:

1. Suit: skirt, jacket, cami

2. Co-ordinating blouse and skirt

3. Dolman top with skirt #2

4. Evening dress

5. Evening dress with bolero

6. Skirt #2 with blouse

7. Skirt #2 with cami and bolero

They show seven combinations from 9 pieces. I think when we design our SWAPS and 6-PAKs, we ask our pieces to work a little harder! I would love to know what the next 10 patterns were, but alas…..

They do accord lots of attention to the accessories, though….and this is where most of the color is coming in. Accessories are all in brights or in the red/orange family.

They are: bright paisley belt, Orange polka-dot sash, Orange shantung clutch, tangerine sandals, paprika t-straps.

Speaking of 6-PAKs, I think I’m going to attempt a fall/winter one. Discussion at Stitcher’s Guild can be found here.  I’ve gotten as far as discarding one color scheme and pulling fabrics for a second one. Here’s what’s looking promising….

from left to right….japanese cotton (jacket), teeny-check silk noil (jacket), steel blue silk (top), dark gray ponte knit (tank), textured gray poly (pants), indigo denim shot with tan threads (pants, already made).  This gives a pretty good mix of fun fabrics with basics. These wardrobes are fantastic ways to get yourself a bunch of basics that all work together and really work hard for you, but basics alone get pretty boring to sew.

I haven’t picked all my patterns yet…there’s lots of time before fall arrives, and there’s no difference in my closet between fall and winter, so I can take my time.