I celebrated every success with this top! My “sewcation” is over and I have two things left to blog – this blouse being one of them. Both items are redos of earlier failures.
Back in early 2018, I wrote about my attempt with two soft silks. In late June, I decided I wanted to finish a UFO- this time the teal silk georgette off the shoulder blouse from Alice & Olivia. The version I had started was wonky and stretched out. I thought I had enough fabric leftover, but I was a bit short. After a couple of hours, the teal was in the trash.
But some how, I got it in my head that I really wanted this blouse. I didn’t want to order new fabric; after a search through my stash, I found this stunning silk georgette in royal blue from Gorgeous Fabrics. I think I purchased it in 2016, but it wasn’t in my spreadsheet. A single layer layout later I was ready to start.
I noticed a difference immediately between this fabric and the teal (from a discount retailer). It felt more luxurious. It didn’t shed when I cut into it.
Still, I didn’t want to ruin the fabric so I researched the options for stabilizing the fabric. I finally settled on spray starch (I did each edge right before sewing). I tested before to see what would happen- staining while working with it, but not permanent as it washed out in cold water.
I still got a little rippling and distortion, it mostly pressed out. I did have some issues with very thick french seams under the arms and keeping the edge stitching even at the top. But in general, stabilization meant this was an easy and fast make.
I love it! And it has received compliments. I have paired it here with the pattern runway white shorts.
Whew, long title. I almost didn’t blog these four interchangeable items, but I love how the Marfy top and white shorts came out. I had to share. These two outfits make use of old fabrics (the tops) and new (the shorts). And I now own three pairs of non-running shorts (all Pattern Runway). (Everything was worn and washed a few times before picture time, my pressing needs some work!)
Top: New Look 6483 View C
I need more tops in my wardrobe, so one day while browsing at JoAnns, I picked up this New Look pattern. It’s pretty basic, and pretty easy. I meant to make view E, but cut out C by mistake. The fabric is a leftover linen print (Marcy Tilton) from when I made this summer dress a couple of years ago. When I was cleaning out my fabric closet, I found I had one more yard. The fabric has a bit of body, but works with this loose-fitting top.
I had no problems with the instructions, and I will repeat this basic, but with modifications. First, the neckline is higher than I expected, but you don’t need the button/loop closure (or hook/eye) in the back, at least for views C, D, and E. Second, I don’t really find the straight hemline with split side seams a flattering look for me, so I may convert the hem to a curved shirt-tail hem next time. Third, I suspect the boxy look will be more body conscious with a drapey fabric (recommended on the envelop).
Top: Marfy 1913 Repeat
I loved the Marfy top the first time I made it – but I didn’t wear it often because it felt small. I must have washed it and shrunk it. When I compared it to the pattern pieces to make this one, it was much smaller than the pieces!
This time, though, I did add some width. Unconventionally, I added width at the center front and center back at the fold line (shifted the pattern off the fold by 1/4 inch). I also added two inches to the length. Once again, I didn’t gather the hemline with elastic, but left it to tuck in to shorts/pants/skirt.
The fabric is a silk cotton voile from Milly that I purchased in 2014 from Gorgeous Fabrics. It was softer and more sheer than I wanted for the original project, so was stashed. It was still sheer and soft, of course, so I decided to line the top with an off white silk crepe de chine. This made finishing the keyhole/slit opening in the back as well as the armholes far simpler. I LOVE THIS TOP! It’s pretty on, cheerful in the very, very, hot sun. It even held up to a complete drenching when I was caught in a downpour at my son’s outdoor swim practice last week.
It looks way better on me than in these photos (but too lazy to do even a bathroom selfie):
I loved the first version of these (and still wear them). I’ve been meaning to make another pair for some time. I made two pair. I really love the very clear instructions, and I like the use of differing seam allowances (1/4 inch and 3/8ths inch) to eliminate trimming (which I rarely do evenly). I made a size medium (I wear 14 in big four, often larger). I also love the flattering lines and good fit.
I didn’t do the welt pockets. I started with the navy shorts, intending to do the welt pockets, but the fabric had too much stretch and all my stitching lines for the welts were warped and wavy (even with interfacing). I wanted to get these done, so I carefully picked out the work and moved on.
The navy shorts are a cotton twill from Fabric Mart fabrics. The fabric was super inexpensive, with more lycra than I would like. I struggled at times to manage the stretch. The fabric is what it is, and makes a fine pair of shorts. And yes, it looks like I need to press them again (ditto for the white).
The white shorts are amazing! This “pique texture” white cotton from Gorgeous Fabrics was perfect for this pattern. (I bought it early June, so I think there is still some left). I love the Milly/Marfy top with the white shorts! So summer!
I joined two trends that I’ve seen over past year in this skirt/top combination. First, I chose a mustard color for the skirt. Second, I made the skirt in a hi-lo style. Since I jumped onto both trends, you can rest assured both will be out of fashion soon, if they aren’t already.
Originally, I purchased the “turmeric” linen/rayon blend from Marcy Tilton to make McCall’s 7745, view A:
But multiple attempts to fit the bodice in a muslin failed. From what I’ve read on the web, this view (but not the others), has some real problems. For me, the sleeves were too small, with no ease and no room for natural movement (among other things). I abandoned the project. (I do think this view would work in a stretchy knit, and those that looked best were, in fact, sewn with knits.)
I got it in my head that I wanted the high/low skirt, and just needed to pair it with a top. Thus, Vogue 8882 (view E, c2013) and Vogue 1620 view B, c2019).
I think this top was an afterthought for Vogue to include in the Tom and Linda Platt coordinates (Vogue 1620). The description: “Loose fitting top has front slit and back neck opening with hook and eye, neck and armhole binding and top-stitching detail.” The fabrics are not broken down between the suit and the blouse, with the following suggested for both: “crepe, jersey, satin back crepe.” Hmmm.
I chose a cotton silk blend woven I purchased way back in 2013 from Gorgeous Fabrics. It has a satin weave, so mimics a charmeuse, but with more body and easier handling. The blouse it self it very simple, but consider your fabric choice. I think I made a good choice, but having made this, I would do the following differently.
Skip the top stitching. It’s done to finish the seams on the inside and along the front and back slits. But with this fabric, and probably any other drapey fabric, it doesn’t work. In fact, I should have loosened my tension even more, since I got puckers! I did the edge stitching on the front and back first, then the top stitched the back. I didn’t like it, but couldn’t remove it without damage. I only did the top stitching around the opening in the front as a result.
Consider narrow facing around the arm holes for a cleaner look. And the way they ask you to do the binding doesn’t really work. You wrap the binding around the 3/8 inch seam allowance remaining, but the strips for the binding aren’t wide enough (I trimmed to 1/4 inch seam allowances to compensate.)
Interface or reinforce the strip of binding in the front that attaches the left and right bodice. It’s cut on the bias, which means it will continue to stretch…
Otherwise, I like the blouse. I may make another one in the future, with these thoughts in mind.
There is absolutely nothing complicated about this skirt (view E, V8882). However, if Vogue is going to give me fabric allowances and layouts that are single layer, then please give me both pieces/ halves, especially when they are really large.
The only recommendation I would make about this skirt is that perhaps an inside button is needed at the waist closure:
A note about the fabric: it’s a viscose/linen blend (65% viscose). Marcy Tilton bills it as having the drapey-ness of viscose, with the structure of linen, and less wrinkling. I bought it for the drape, color, and tightness of weave (very nice piece of fabric). But it wrinkles like it’s 100% linen.
My fifth summer in Florida, with the beach close by and a pool in the yard, but I’m only just now getting around to making a beach cover-up. This is in part due to my indecision on what I wanted. Finally, I have something, and I’m quite pleased with the result.
I chose New Look 6575 and modified it. This 2018 Simplicity group release has no description, but the lines looked workable for me. I originally bought it to make a tunic, but was worried about the low neckline. I made the medium since I definitely wanted a loose look.
It recommended challis, chambray, cotton lawn, double georgette, gauze, soft linen and silk types. I chose a very inexpensive rayon challis I purchased from Fabric Mart. It’s very shifty, and printed off grain, so I didn’t use it for the project originally intended. I figured it wouldn’t matter as much here, though I wasn’t able to match the pattern very well.
I added trim: a beautiful embroidered cotton lace from Joyce Trimming. I ordered two widths and hand-stitched them together to create the width I needed. I ordered 4 yards and used all but a couple of inches!!! (And the cut was generous.) I replaced the front band on view B, and added the lace to the completed sleeve and shirt hems. Adding the lace effectively lengthened the cover-up to just above the knee. It adds a bit of modesty, without making it too boring.
The directions for this were fine, though I deviated at several points. To add the lace to the front, I sewed a 5/8ths narrow hem to the front (stay stitch first!). I then stitched the lace to the front pieces. I added the fabric band to the back neck, then stitched the shoulder/upper sleeve seams. Then I applied the facing for the back band.
The other change was to the casing. I stitched the “waist” with the 3/4 seam as requested, but rather than the convoluted method they suggested, I serged the seam together, pressed down. Finally, I top stitched 1/2 inch away from the waist seam to create the casing.
I was right! This is very low cut – below the point of the bra. Perfect for a swim cover-up, less so for everyday wear. I was surprised at how flattering something that low cut could be on me though. And I love the finished product.
I’ve been sewing – a lot. I have multiple projects nearly done, and several more on the horizon. I’ve been making up for lost time. And I’m not very interested in stopping to blog about it. But, none-the-less, here we are. This was the outfit that got me to spontaneously buy a new (but still basic) sewing machine. It also strongly reminds of me of ingenue Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday.
Having thin, attractive models sells patterns! And this is true of the very popular McCalls 7906. I made the view the model is wearing, but I’m heavier – and so was my fabric choice, a stretch cotton sateen. I knew I needed some new white shirts/blouses, so I paired it with New Look 6407, view E, in white silk faille. Both fabrics are from Gorgeous Fabrics.
McCall’s 7906: midi button front skirt: There’s not much to say about this pattern – it’s very simple to construct. The instructions are good and the style is very popular right now. It is roomy, comfortable, with pockets. I’d say there are really only three challenges to this pattern, easily surmountable.
First: make sure you measure and mark your pleats carefully. This will just make it look nicer. They are stitched flat for the top 3.25 inches. It’s a very sharp look. Second: the carriers. I’ve never done them before, so this was new to me. I’d say I was only semi-successful in doing them well. More practice. Third: buttonholes. Okay, this isn’t really a challenge, but my machine is a 4-step buttonhole, and it doesn’t like to go backwards. They always turn out hideous. No exception here. What’s the point of perfect, precision stitching only to be marred by ugly buttonholes? After this, I bought a new machine, one that does automatic buttonholes in several styles.
The fabric is a stretch cotton sateen, so it’s actually a little loose on me, but super comfortable to wear (I cut a size 14). I like the skirt, but I see it as more of a running errands skirt than a work skirt, at least in this configuration. Or, wear to work on casual days.
New Look 6407: view E, short sleeve fitted shirt with banded collar: I love this shirt. I don’t like the fit. I’m making it again, in the same fabric, if I can get it. This was made on the new machine, and wow, wow, wow. It has speed control, which means I made fewer mistakes, and was far more precise in my stitching!
I’d never worked with silk faille before, and it’s difficult to press. Think of it like a good wool suiting and use a clapper. I didn’t here.
Again, I’m really happy with the construction – I like my own work (if not my pressing). How did I miss the fit so badly? I tissue fit – and it suggested that I should make a 12, grading out to a 14. No issues with torso length, which I usually have. Tissue fitting also didn’t indicate an issue with the bust darts. But this is a fitted style, and I should have done a 14, easing to 16 (sigh), especially with silk faille, which doesn’t like stress on the seams.
The bust darts are way too low. I’d say this was an issue for me, but you can see it on the dress form too. I like this pattern and style enough to play with it in the muslin a bit before remaking it. So, as much as I love the shirt, it’s not flattering to have pulling at the waist, and excess fabric under the bust. I’ll donate this version.
And the button holes? OMG, they were so much easier. The right size, perfectly shaped, rounded button holes. Evenly dense throughout.
I bought a Janome again, this time the JW8100. It’s a beginner’s computerized machine. It has definite flaws, but I’m going to sew on it for a month before giving you the pros and cons of this machine.
After moving here to Florida, I needed lighter weight clothes – more of them at least! Pattern Vault had a link to the free pattern for the Matthew Williamson Kaftan, I loved the styling so started. And stopped, and started, and stopped. Part of it was fabric choice, part of it was the instructions.
I had this really cool double silk georgette in my stash that was perfect for it. I can’t remember where I bought it. I am almost certain it was Gorgeous Fabrics – it would have been one of my first on-line purchases. But it could well have been Emma One Sock. Doesn’t matter now, as it was purchased in 2010. In the beginning, I was a little afraid of this fabric – silk? georgette? But it turned out to be an easy fabric, for the silk family.
Word of warning! If you choose this pattern, it’s pdf, which I can’t stand. But to make matters worse, each tile is its own pdf! I think I spent the first summer just doing that (kidding).
I found the directions from The Guardian to be less than helpful. The writer suggests French Seams throughout, and has a general order of completion, but I think that’s pretty intuitive if you’ve sewn many things before. However, the yoke is self-lined (on the pdf and you can see it in the photos of the mockup) but no mention of attaching it. I looked at some other patterns with self-lined yokes, and determined what I was going to do (which evolved).
Trouble is, I can’t remember what I did! Looking at it, I did use French Seams in most places, but not all. Here’s what I think I did:
Made the triangles (with the hypotenuse in French seams) for the insets and set them aside.
Gathered as instructed for the front (under the inset) and in the back. I did this by hand, but not well.
Attached the yoke to the back, using a 3/8 inch seam (at this point, I wanted it a bit larger – and there is no size on the pattern).
Attached the yoke to the front in a 3/8 inch seam.
Attached my triangles, but again, I did them differently as pictured, doing only a slight overlap in front. I also did not use a french seam here, but serged the raw edges.
Attached the yoke facing to the top at the neckline, stitching only from where the insets join the yoke, around the back to the other side. Understitched by hand.
Carefully pressed under the yoke back, front, and side edge seam allowances, then slip-stitched in place.
I then attached the sleeves, using a French seam (not so great an idea, I got puckers). Because I changed the seams in steps 4/5, I had extra fabric, so I created an inverted box pleat at the shoulder.
Sewed the arm and side seams in one, again French seam.
Narrow machine hemmed the sleeves and shirt.
At this point I was done. Last summer. But it didn’t really look finished to me. Something was missing.
I looked at the original picture from the Guardian and decided that I liked the black trim (which may have been panels). So I ordered some silk satin 3/8 inch ribbon from Britex, last summer. Last week, I finally attached it by hand, using a running stitch.
I like it, despite the flaws. I wore it last Saturday to the pool party we had. Lots of pictures:
My grandmother died 20 years ago this past weekend. It’s hard to believe it’s been that many years. I remember packing my car to drive from the North Shore of Long Island to Upstate South Carolina for the funeral like it was yesterday. It was packed with books, as I was to take my comps the next week. So much has happened since then – in the blink of an eye.
Before she died, she spent about 10 years (or more) struggling with Alzheimer’s. Back then, we didn’t really know what Alzheimer’s was, and just thought she was a little kooky. As grand-kids, I don’t think we were especially kind, though by the mid-90s, and my mid-20s, we knew she wasn’t odd, but that something was really wrong. I found my compassion then, but it was too late to get to know her.
My relationship with my grandmother was complicated. My grandmother didn’t like that I was in politics… she wanted me to find a husband, have children, settle down. I did that eventually, and even became the teacher she thought I should be. Along the way, she taught me to garden, preserve food, and to sew.
I’m going through all the family files and photos, and I’m seeing a different woman than the grandmother I knew. She laughed a lot. That’s what striking
My grandmother was a remarkable in ways that I can finally respect. She married young, into what became career military. At that time, it meant raising her daughter while her husband was at war (three wars!!). Later, she returned to her homestead in South Carolina with a new husband (the man I would know as my grandfather, as her first husband died when I was 2). There she forged a career of sorts for herself at Converse College.
My grandmother was a really great seamstress, helping me to learn the finer points of sewing. She was also into millinery.
One of the things I’ve learned about her in recent days is just how good a seamstress she always was – even if I didn’t appreciate it much as a middle school kid. In this picture, she is wearing an outfit she curated, sewing the dress herself. It’s 1940, she’s not quite 17, and she had just won the dress revue for the State of South Carolina 4-H club. She was headed for a free trip to Chicago to the national 4-H meetings. Her budget: $10.