A big project, not hard, but big: Vogue 1440, Donna Karan fringe jacket OOP

No really, this jacket isn’t hard, but all the detail requires a great deal of attention and patience.  Much of the work is tedious, such as making all that piping.  Still, I am pretty happy with the result, and the style is more relaxed and fun than my usual work wear (which is highly tailored, traditional).   I encountered various problems throughout the project, these problems are addressed throughout the overview.

To start, from the pattern (Vogue 1440, OOP, though a 2015 release): “Unlined jacket has fringe, shoulder pads, draped front extending into back collar, wrong side shows, seam detail, no side or shoulder seams, two piece sleeves, mock band on upper sleeve, and continuous bias for piping and finishing seams.”  Note, nothing in the description discusses fit. It’s got a fair amount of ease, but most of that is due to the drape; the fit across the shoulders and upper back is semi-fitted to fitted.  And note – there is no provision for adjustments above the waist (such as for a long waist).  This is definitely a more casual jacket – or really – draped open cardigan.

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Vogue 1440, fashion photo from the pattern.

By the way, for this pattern, I had to study the instructions, the line drawings, AND the photograph to figure out some of the details.

About the fabric:  The pattern calls for lightweight tweeds, cotton blends.  I concur.  This jacket could easily overwhelm many frames, so keep the fabric on the lighter side. It’s also going to show on the reverse side, so keep that in mind.  I used a no longer available lightweight cotton blend tweed from Emma One Sock.  I scooped it up right when the pattern was released, not realizing that the reverse was going to show, primarily on those big collar “lapels”.  My reverse is more vanilla and black and far less red than the face side.  No worries, I cut it so the “face” was the reverse.  The collar covers all of the front of the jacket and also functions as the bottom few inches of the jacket.  If you look carefully you can see that the bottom front is a different shade than the rest of the jacket.  My fabric was also loosely woven, which meant that it shed to look at it. To help manage this, I cut the pattern pieces out, but left a wider seam, which I trim down with a rotary cutter right before sewing the pieces.  You don’t want to use fray block, because you do want some of those edges to fringe later. But I couldn’t wait to clean my sewing room.  It also stretched a bit on some of the pieces, leaving the shoulders slightly out of shape, so consider stay stitching some of the edges.

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If you look at the bottom of the jacket, you’ll note the reverse shows, and is a different color. I preferred the big collar part to be more red than vanilla/black, so I attached it in a way that favored it.

You’ll also need a lightweight fabric for all the piping and binding.  All of the piping pretty much is visible – but so is some of the binding.  I was glad in the end that I chose a lightweight silk charmeuse from Gorgeous Fabrics in one color for consistency across the jacket.

Notes on the The Piping and the Binding: it’s tedious.  The end.  No really, you will make 10 yards of piping.  You could purchase ready made, but most of that is low quality and fairly stiff.  For the piping, I found that using a piping foot (instead of the recommended zipper foot) to make the piping resulted in a tighter pipe. I also found that a piping foot worked better to construct the seams – except in those several occasions where you’ll have crossed seams.  With the crossed seams, use the zipper foot.  In addition, you definitely want to baste the piping as instructed, but you’ll also find that basting the seams together help keep the fabric from shifting.   By the way, in a size 12, I used slightly more than 9 yards of the 10 yards I made.

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Ten yards of piping.

I don’t recommend using the pattern piece to make the one long piece of continuous binding.  It’s only one inch wide, and if your fabric is at all thick you won’t have enough width for turn-of-the cloth (and in places you’ll have multiple layers to bind).  Cut your own strips, and slightly larger, which is what I did.

Fitting:  I read all the reviews on PatternReview, and almost everyone spent a great deal of time on their muslin.  In some cases, the changes really worked, but the jacket lost the original soul (though they looked amazing!).  I originally trimmed the pattern pieces to a size 10 (two years ago), but decided the better of it.  I had kept the trimmed edges and taped them back on.  When I made my muslin, I learned two things. One, that construction was pretty easy (excepting attaching the collar), and two, my regular size (12) fit best between the shoulders and across the back.  Wearing it today at work, I’m glad I did the 12, because I didn’t have much wiggle room when lecturing/gesticulating.  I also didn’t feel the need to add my usual length in the torso for my longer waist.  Remember, the muslin fabric is different than the fashion fabric.  I find the shoulders a bit more extended than I’m used too (about 1/4 inch); they fit the model this way as well. The sleeves are very long and narrow/fitted, which I really like.

Making the toile helps you practice matching up all those seams.  If you look at the fashion photo, you’ll note that the front piping all lines up on one side, but not the other.  They should match up according to the line drawing.  I basted seams to make sure mine met.

More on seam binding:  The inside of the jacket is quite beautifully finished.  It really is, except there are times when the seams don’t extend far enough to be caught up in the next set of seams, and you have a raggedy edge (as in the photo).  I used some silk embroidery thread and hand satin stitched over this.

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note how the seams aren’t caught in the binding and are hanging loose

Okay, let’s talk about the fringe, seam binding and grosgrain:  I bought this pattern immediately when it came out, so Vogue may have fixed this later in later editions.  I don’t know because they don’t have an errata on their website. But you will NOT cut enough fringe if you cut using the pattern piece they provide.  It’s simply not long enough, by quite a bit (about 12-15 inches if I remember).  The first three are fine for the top of the collar and the two sides, but the fourth piece for the bottom band is simply too short.  I had to piece the bottom band using leftover fringe from the sides of the collar.  It worked, but I was annoyed.  I also meant that I didn’t have any fringe left for the sleeves.  Since I wasn’t crazy about that, I didn’t care too much.

I studied the instructions and photo for quite some time to understand how the fringe would work and look after construction and fringing.  You apply the quarter inch grosgrain (I used petersham) to the placement line.  It doesn’t say how in the instructions – centered, top of the grosgrain to the bottom of the line or on top of the placement line.  I chose top of the grosgrain to the bottom of the placement line.  This results in a shorter fringe, which I preferred.

Second, you place the grosgrain on the right/face side of the fabric.  This means that all along the front, on that beautiful draping collar, is not grosgrain, but binding.  For me, that was far less attractive (see photo). The bound edge is not stitched down, and due the grosgrain placement, left an opening of about 3/8″ inch.  So, I used my leftover grosgrain and applied it over the binding.  Better, but now I  no longer had any grosgrain for the sleeves.  I was okay with no fringe on the sleeve, but I had planned to keep the grosgrain detail on the sleeves.   If you don’t do what I did (cover the binding), you’ll use far less grosgrain than the 5 yards listed in the notions.

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This is the front of that big lapel.  The seam binding is not tacked down here and can flip up. You could either top-stitch the loose edge (not in instructions) or apply the grosgrain for consistency (also not in the instructions).  I chose grosgrain. (This looked worse IRL than in the photo).

Take a real close look at the photo of the collar in the fashion shot.  The fringe is not fringed all the way to the black trim – that’s because the grosgrain (on the reverse of the collar) is lower than the binding.

And finally, the finishing details.  These were almost completely missing from the instructions.  Oh, sure, fringe the fringe, hem the sleeves and go.  Nope. All the tails of the binding are mingled in with the fringe and they are ugly.  You can’t fringe near the seams (including the mitered corners and CB seam).  The photo on the left below is before, with both the binding and piping hanging down. I painstakingly undid the stitching up to the grosgrain and careful trimmed excess binding and piping out of sight.  No need to finish them any more because they are caught in the two rows of stitching for the grosgrain. The photo on the right is the trimmed and completely fringed edge. Finally, you may find that you’ll have to lightly tack down some of the seams on the inside, if they still don’t behave after pressing and a clapper.

Overall: I like it, I’ll wear it, but it’s not likely I’ll make it again.  Still, it looks great, and made me really think about my own sewing skills and how to improve them. I left for work before it was light enough for pictures, but here it is on the dress form before I finished hemming the sleeves (they are basted in place) or doing a final pressing:

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Front view.
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Back view, before final pressing.

 

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Pre-treating knits. (HELP!)

It seems like every time I pre-treat a knit, the fabric grain (or the equivalent in a knit) becomes distorted or “off”.  They are perfectly fine when they arrive, but after I follow the instructions (always on gentle, no spin), the selvedges are no guide.

Take this knit velvet, with cutout diamonds:

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As you can see from the two photos (black, sorry, hard to photograph), the cutout and grain are at an angle to the selvedges.  I laid the fabric on the floor as best I could with the “straight” grain parallel to the lines in the hardwood floor (but not perfectly).

I really like this fabric.   What do I do with it?

And, I’m no longer pre-washing knits.  I’m obviously doing something wrong. (This happens no matter the vendor.)

Sewing for my niece: McCalls 7079 & 7583, Little Hip Skirt

Everything is crazy here.  And sewing for myself hasn’t been going well… fit, design, motivation.  But, my sweet 4th grade niece recently asked me to make some dresses for her stuffed bunny… “and maybe, while you’re at it another skirt for me?”  Of course!  It’s been two years since I sewed for her, and I got excited choosing fabrics and trims.

Because she’s grown, and wants to pass the “finger-tip” test at school, I made up a sample dress for her (and one for bunny) and a sample skirt for her.  I used the size chart based on her favorite Lands End dress, but I’m pretty sure they’ll be too big.  I also used fabrics I had on hand, saving the pretty prints and cottons for when I have a better sense of her fit.  She’s a two day drive away, so I’ll have to re-estimate her size based on a FaceTime chat in a week or so.

From McCall’s Website, 7079

McCall’s 7079:  This dress almost identical to her favorite dress.   I used an amazing navy Rayon Doubleknit from Gorgeous Fabrics (still available as I type).  I need some for myself.  Yes, the picture shows a plain dress, but for a fitting dress, I think it works.  I made the flared skirt, plain back with sleeves, all to match school dress codes.  The hand-applied pink floral trim is from Farmhouse Fabrics.  This very easy dress comes together quickly.

Little Hip Skirt (OOP):  I have made this skirt before, but she said it’s too short for school now.  This time, I upped the size (for longer wearing) and made a single layer circle skirt (with yoke).  This time I used a woven, instead of a knit.  I chose the Loden Green Cotton Moleskin from Gorgeous Fabrics (still available as I type).  I bought it for another purpose (a lot of it), but it didn’t work for it so I set it aside.  Now I need a skirt made from this yummy fabric – very easy to work with, drapey and soft.  The hand-applied rosette trim is also from Farmhouse Fabrics.

From McCalls Website: 7583

McCalls 7583:  I have no idea how to fit a stuffed bunny.  Best I could guess from photos and measurements her mom sent, the bunny is a little smaller than an American Girl doll.  I used some floral cotton batiste leftover from making a maternity dress for myself 6.5 years ago (also from Gorgeous Fabrics).  The trim her is from Joann’s. I made this one in an hour, and it was pretty easy (except those quarter inch seams).  I’ll do the prettier dresses a little differently than the directions next time for a better finish (especially the neck and armholes).

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Summer Dress #3: McCall 7591

No, I’m not that fast when it comes to sewing.  Generally, the only time I can  work on the machine is after the little one goes to bed.  Amazingly, I can do handwork during daytime (non-work) hours. So I was able to work on the Marfy top and this dress concurrently.

But this dress didn’t work out so well, and I think it will go to the charity pile.  I love the fabric, and in principle, I thought the dress would work for me.  But it looks frumpy on – and adds pounds. In fact, I looked 6 months pregnant rather than just no longer having a flat tummy.  (I have seen this dress on others and it was very flattering – I’m a bit of a pear, so perhaps it doesn’t work well with that figure).

From McCall’s website.

The pattern: A 2017 release from McCall’s (7591).  From the envelope: Misses dresses and sash.  Fitted pullover dresses have lined bodice, front and back bodice variations, elastic waistlines and length variations.  I made view c, adding the sash from view a. I bought the XS-S-M; a medium corresponds with a size 12/14, which is what I made.

The fabric:  A very lovely silk jersey I bought from Emma One Sock in 2015. It reminded me of Pucci, and I was considering it for one of my Pucci patterns, but didn’t buy enough fabric.  I love the fabric, though the print  and colors are out of my comfort zone. Jersey is only one of the options listed, but you definitely want something drapey here.

Construction notes/changes I made:  I cut a size medium (12/14) and added 1.5 inches at the torso lengthen/shorten line – my normal alteration – but I could have gone with 2 inches here. The recommended lining is tricot, which I didn’t have on hand, so I used self lining. I added bra carriers to keep the bra from showing. Otherwise, I went by the instructions.  They were okay, but I’m thinking I could have done better had I not.

What worked/didn’t work:  For me, the overall look didn’t work.  What drew me to it was the neckline opening – and that was easy to do well.   Anyway, what didn’t work- the slit is shorter than it appears on the envelope drawings, and won’t hang properly.  The armholes are topstitched, but that (and the hem treatment) seemed to cheapen the dress.  I can never get elastic distributed evenly – here there is better gathering in the back than the front.  And those shoulders.  I did them three times, finally by hand.  This is something I cannot seem to master.  The approach is to sew the neck and arm seams, fold back the lining on the shoulder seam line, stitch the shoulder seam and then slipstitch lining opening closed.  It always looks homemade to me.  I definitely got better results when I inserted the lining by hand with the previous two summer dresses.  The sash could be wider.

You win some you lose some.  I’ll set this aside for a couple of weeks and then try it on again and decide what to do with it.

 

Finished! Marfy 1913

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My first Marfy pattern – and there really is no excuse for not finishing this a long time ago.  Despite the silk chiffon, this is one easy and well-designed pattern. One UFO done! (And I’m already looking at other chiffon and georgette in my stash for another version of this pattern.)

free sewing patterns

This pattern is a free trial from Marfy – though you have to register to get to the pattern and description.  From the Marfy website:

  • Fabric required: about mt. 0.80 wide 1.40.
  • Free sewing patterns to download available in sizes 42 to 58.
  • This soft top has a blousy hemline with drawstring and inset armholes, the ring collar holds a light gathering. Suggested fabric: Jersey, crêpe de chine, chiffon or satin.
  • It can be combined with the jacket 1756 and the skirt 0757.
  • Style Tips
    The top is a passepartout that is great for day and evening occasions, depending on fabric chosen. In the description we suggested jersey, crêpe de chine, satin or chiffon…this last one would fit perfectly with the tailleur, single color or in fantasy just like the jacket lining.
    The chiffon fabric has the ideal lightness and hand for this top, it falls great without “swelling” at gathering and, due to the fact that the pattern covers neck and decolleté, it’s nice and slightly sexy to have a transparency on them.

Some tips about Marfy:  they don’t have pictures, line drawings or directions with the download.  I recommend printing one or two of the views from the website for reference.  Marfy patterns don’t come with seam allowances, facings, etc, so plan for that.  Marfy basically allows you to use your knowledge of sewing to come up with your own sewing plan.  That having been said, the pattern is well marked, and if you read the pattern well, everything is there to put this together successfully.

So what did I do?  I used a vintage-y looking dusty black floral silk chiffon from Emma One Sock in 2015. I first talked about it here in January 2016.  I cut a size 44 (I wear a 12 usually in Vogue).  And because this was silk chiffon, I was terrified.  After all, silk chiffon has a notorious reputation.  At the time, I felt that I had to stitch this thing BY HAND to control the fabric.  I did the back slit opening, shoulders and collar this way before setting this aside.  When I came back to it this week, I finished with the machine (though not completely).

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Silk Chiffon?  Not so scary.  Three issues:

  1. The grain is shifty. I found this mostly to be a problem with laying out and cutting, and less so during construction.  The grain shifted some in my collar, so I’ll have to do better next time.  Sewing by machine on the straight grain (with the narrow hole presser foot) was a breeze.
  2. It snags easily – a very delicate fabric.  This version won’t last long, and I’ve snagged it in many places.  It’s not easy to see, but I know it’s there.  New pins, new needles (size 8 sharp for the machine needle) and watch those finger nails and scissors.
  3. It frays to look at it.  No really, it does.  I didn’t try fray block or anything else, but would entertain other sewers suggestions here.

Sewing choices I made:

  1. I used french seams for the shoulders (by hand) and side seams (by machine and very narrow).
  2. I decided against the drawstring/elastic casing at the waist, preferring a narrow, machine stitch hem.  A hand-rolled hem probably would look better.  I am considering the casing for a future version, as it is very chic (in the idealized drawing).
  3. I used the bound slit tutorial from Frabjous Couture for the neckline slit, and adapted it to bind the armholes. Both were done by hand. Unfortunately, she did not move her tutorials to her new blog – and she doesn’t seem to be blogging anymore.  I’m considering using silk charmeuse to bind the armholes, slit, and hem on a future version.
  4. I used small black snaps to close the collar, though on a firmer fabric (or more interfacing), a button/button hole combination would be nice.
  5. I interfaced the collar with black silk organza.  With the chiffon, perhaps two layers would be better.
  6. I used three rows of hand-done running stitches for the gathering (using silk thread).  I can never get gathers perfectly even.  These are better than my usual, but I still need more practice.
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I did a double bind with chiffon for the armholes (by hand).  Not perfect, but I’m mostly pleased.

Order of construction:

  1. The bound slit in the back.
  2. Attach front/back at shoulders.
  3. Gathers to the front.
  4. Construct the collar and attach to the neckline (be sure to leave the tabs on either side).
  5. Stitch front to back at side seams.
  6. Narrow hem.
  7. Bind the arm holes.
  8. Snaps on the neckline tabs.

Fit: I did a muslin for this (but can’t find it and it was 18 months ago), but fit issues always come up in the fashion fabric as well.  I had hoped to tuck this in, but it is a little short to do so.  I usually add length to the torso with the Big 4; I’ll do so in the next version.  The  armscye is a bit tight, and it’s a tad too fitted through the upper chest and back – I could go up a 1/2 size.  I have a small neck – anyone with a larger neck will want to take this into account.

Overall:  I like this pattern! The chiffon is very light and comfortable. Yes, it’s sheer, but with the dark fabric it’s not as obvious.  It’s relatively easy – a basic to be sure, dressed up or down by the print or fabric.

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Sheer!  And I  need a new dress form.

 

 

 

Summer Dress #2: Vogue 1089 (OOP)

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This dress took a while – not in terms of actual time sewing, but due to interruptions and distractions.  Even though I used mostly only couture techniques, this dress goes together quickly and well.  That having been said, I’ve incorporated a number of changes.

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The Pattern:  Vogue 1089, which was released 2009 and is now out of print.  It’s a basic fit and flare, with shaped midriff, and princess seams.

The Fabric: The pattern calls for cotton canvas, linen and lightweight denim… but I used a cotton sateen that I purchased from Gorgeous Fabrics in 2014 (for a different project).  I underlined it with silk organza and lined it with blue silk crepe de  chine.  I only interfaced the midriff, using carefully trimmed muslin.  The organza, CDC, and muslin are all from Gorgeous Fabrics as well.

The Instructions:  Well, since I didn’t use them, I can’t really tell you about it.  I used this pattern for Susan Khalje’s Couture Dress class on Craftsy (it’s very similar to the one she uses for the class).  In this case I followed her instructions to the letter.  It was very freeing to think about constructing a garment this way, from muslin to organza underlining to hand inserting the lining.  She’s a wonderful teacher and very easy to follow.  I learned quite a bit (some things are obvious, now that I’ve seen them).  However, if you don’t like hand-stitching, it’s not the class for you.  I like to hand-stitch, and find it very soothing.  I found every step of making this dress very enjoyable.

Changes I made:  I can’t recall every change I made as a result of the Craftsy class, but I’ll highlight the major ones.  I cut a size 12 in the bodice, tapering to a 14 through the midriff and waist.  If I lose weight, this dress will be too big, but oh well.  I also took up the shoulders 1/2 inch.   Finally, I needed to accommodate my longer torso: I added half an inch to the bottom of the bodice and half an inch to the bottom of the midriff.

In construction, I took a cue from Ann of Gorgeous Fabrics, who noted that the midriff doesn’t need to cut in half horizontally (unless you are going to add the jewels).  I also moved the zipper to the left side and hand inserted a lapped zipper (I’m losing flexibility and finding back zips a challenge). The lining is hand inserted, using the technique from the class.  That means I cut the lining from the pattern pieces, not the separate lining pieces.  It also means I eliminated the facings, and included a jump pleat for the hem.

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Showing off the jump pleated hem (and the gorgeous CDC)!
Thoughts:  I really like this dress and plan to make another one in a solid color for fall. It’s flattering, easy and fun.  Most of all, the class taught me to slow down and enjoy the process and the art of constructing a garment. For once, I paid attention to all details, including the finishing.

As always – apologies for the photos.  On top of my usual selfie with an iPhone photos, I sustained a serious knee injury last week (still can’t drive or walk properly).  Though I’m much improved, I really didn’t feel like make-up, hair, and heels to go outside and take pictures with the mosquitoes.

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Bathroom selfie with swollen knee and shaky shot.

My mom used to sew.

Whenever I talk to my mother now about sewing, she says the same thing:  “I used to sew, but I don’t anymore.  It’s easier to buy.”  Every once in awhile she’ll admire something I’ve made, or even offer a bit of advice, but it always ends in the same refrain.

She has dementia, at 76.  She’s too young, but isn’t everyone?  I made my peace with my mother’s condition about a year ago and now I try to call and talk to her and treat her with as much respect and dignity as I can.

But this weekend, when she was returning home from a trip out west with my dad, there was a new development.  During an extended layover at the Atlanta airport, she claimed that the man traveling with her (my dad) was not her husband and she didn’t know him – her husband and life-mate of over fifty years.  For those of you  who have been here, you know what a bitter moment this is.  From what I understand, the Delta personnel, both on the ground and their flight crews, were a god-send to my dad, helping him navigate this new challenge.

My mom and I shared sewing – often making outfits together. She made my high school gowns and many of my sister’s as well.  I wore one of my sister’s gowns to the 1993 Inaugural Ball. She always did the difficult work – I mostly assisted.  But I think sewing was more of a necessity for her, as much as she wanted it to be more.  And I think that’s why she eventually gave it up.

I sifted through old photos and here are some of the outfits she made in no particular order. I wish I had more photos, and probably do somewhere.  Some of the patterns are known, but most I do not know.  My apologies for the poor quality – the photos haven’t been stored well and were meant to capture moments more than anything else.

My mom used to sew.

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Birthday dress.
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Long story behind this dress. I almost didn’t get to go to my senior prom, because I had behaved stupidly (we were stationed overseas and my friends and I went barhopping not long after the Berlin disco bombing). But my mom relented and surprised me with this dress.
Bridesmaid
Bridesmaid at my sister’s first wedding. Vogue 2797.
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Mom as mother-of-the groom. I know it’s Vogue, but can’t remember which one.
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Mom and dad, at some event in the 1980s.

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My niece, modeling one of my sister’s prom gowns. I wore this to the 1993 inaugural ball. It also had a bolero jacket.
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My niece modeling another of my sister’s prom gowns (wrinkled from storage). Vogue 1623.

four generations
At my grandmother’s second wedding, around the same time the photo for this site was taken. I can’t be sure who made these dresses. All three were amazing with needle and thread and gave me my love of sewing. Sadly, all three suffered/suffer from dementia.

My experience with McCalls 7542

Apparently, McCall 7542 is one of the most popular patterns of all time.  A simple boxy shirt with sleeve variations.  It’s the sleeve that draws you in and they are ever so popular right now.

Image result for mccalls 7542

My first try did not please me, however.  I had misgivings from the beginning – mostly about my fabric choice.  I wish I had done a muslin.  Consider this a muslin, but not wearable.

The fabric is a nice crisp red shirting fabric from Gorgeous Fabrics.  I really like it, but it’s better suited to the Donna Karan shirt from Vogue 1440.  I knew this and proceeded anyway, after watching the little vignette on FB from McCalls that structured fabrics work well.  It’s my fault for continuing though.

Since the fabric is super crisp, I went with view C, the pleated sleeves.  I lengthened it the top, as the cropped version would not work for me.  I spent a great deal of time basting to get perfect pleats (and I got them).

Generally speaking this is an easy pattern.  Here is where I encountered problems:

  1.  The neckline.  It doesn’t call for stay-stitching, but I couldn’t get the facing to lie flat without lots of clipping, so stay stitching is a must.  It still doesn’t look great though it’s hard to see in the photo. IMG_2886
  2. The sleeves, part 1.  As I noted above, I took a  great deal of time basting, and executing those pleats perfectly.  I didn’t miss.  But the lower sleeve is smaller in circumference than the upper sleeve by about 3/4 of an inch.  Others have mentioned the need to ease here, and I did need some of that to ease the two, but I did take in the underarm sleeve about 1/4 inch first.
  3. The sleeves, part 2.  Even after taking out 1/4 inch in the armscye by bringing in the underarm sleeve, I couldn’t ease this sleeve cap properly.  Multiple tries yielded terrible results. I don’t think it’s because there is too much ease (I think it’s probably right), but here is where my fabric choice failed me – this fabric is difficult to ease.  Keep that in mind when you choose the fabric.  The photo shows my basting stitches as well.IMG_2887
  4. Fit – You can see on the model that the top doesn’t fit her well in the upper chest.  Mine doesn’t either, even though I’m narrow and shallow there.  I get pulling on the sleeve (not the bust – but above it).  The bust dart ends in the wrong place too (too low for me).  I think these are specific to me – I usually make a 12 (often a 10 in shoulders) without issues. I’m not really sure how to fix these issues – I may experiment with changing the shape of the armscye.  None of my fitting books seem to address this, except that that Vogue Sewing suggests making the changes to the bodice, not the sleeve.  It’s as if I need more width across the upper chest.  Hard to describe, and I could not get a good picture.  In the photo, on my dress form, it looks perfectly fine (though you can see the bust dart is too low).  On me, it pulls at about the point where the ease dot would be.  Note it pulls to the hip – I didn’t add circumference when I added length.  Another thing to fix. IMG_2888

I like the top enough to work on the problems, and to look for a more suitable fabric.  For now, this top is finished, while I turn to finishing another project.

Summer Dress #1: Vogue 8993 in linen

Or, I finally finished something.  Sewing has been taking a backseat to everything else.  On top of that, I’ve decided to incorporate couture techniques from Susan Khalje’s Craftsy courses. It’s taking a while to finish anything.

I LOVE this dress.  Not happy with the fit…. because I gained weight between the time of the muslin and finishing.  You see, it’s not just sewing that’s taken a backseat, so has my diet and exercise program…  I went for a long walk today, and am going to make it a priority again.

pattern description:   Very Easy Vogue 8993 c2014.  I bought this for something else, but never got around to it.  Then I bought the linen, and it was a good match.  From pattern: dress has neck band, cut in armholes, close-fitting lined bodice with side front and back seams, front pleated skirt, side pockets, back zipper and stitched hem.  I made View B, the midi version, which is really closer to just above the ankle (and I’m 5’9″).  I paired it with a slender silver-tone belt.

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Vogue 8993, View B
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sizing:  8 through 16. I made a 12 in shoulders and bust and graded out approximately to a 14 at the waist and hips.  I also made my standard torso length adjustment of about 1.5 inches added.

fabric:  I LOVE the linens from Marcy Tilton.  I don’t buy much else there, but I love it when she has linen.  This one was a digital print, Copeland, which is now sold out.  It’s light to mid-weight, drapey (when washed), soft.  The weave is a little looser than I like – the grain shifted a bit on the collar, I’m afraid.  I underlined the skirt with cotton batiste (from Susan Khalje).  I underlined the top with silk organza (Gorgeous Fabrics) and lined the bodice with the batiste.

tips used during construction:  I was watching Susan Khalje’s couture classes on Craftsy and used the couture techniques for the bodice.  I did the skirt the “traditional” or pattern way (but really didn’t pay that much attention to those instructions).  I used the instructions for the neck band/collar.  I added a waist stay after an exchange with Ann at Gorgeous Fabrics.

instructions?:  I didn’t really use them, except for the neck band.  There has got to be a better way to attach the neckband for a better quality result.  Here you sew the band, right sides together, trim, press and turn right sides out, stitch to bodice, slip stitch to the lining.  Easy enough, but getting things perfect at the front – not easy.  I want a nice clean line from the bodice to the band at the join, and that is a challenge to do well.

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construction notes:  I used a hybrid approach – home sewer techniques for the skirt and neck band, couture for the bodice and attaching the bodice to the skirt.  I did machine stitch the invisible zipper.   I feel like I got better quality results on the bodice all around.  I was more accurate using stitching lines (instead of cutting lines) and I put in the best lining I have ever done putting it in by hand the way Susan shows in her videos.  I always have difficulties with the arm holes – here perfect.

Even though this pattern is suitable for a lightweight denim, think about it before you do that.  This is a light/mid linen, underlined with very light batiste.  All the weight of the skirt is in the front – deep box pleats and pockets.  When I attached the skirt to the bodice, the weight of the skirt pulled the front of the bodice down, causing unattractive drag lines and gapping at the arms.  Ann at Gorgeous Fabrics suggested a petersham waist stay, which did the trick. I later found her blog post on the subject.  The petersham, attached at seams and darts of the waist, takes on the weight of the skirt, relieving the pressure on the bodice and shoulders.

Speaking of stays, I used organza selvedges at the v-neck and shoulders to stabilize and prevent stretching in these areas. I also used a double layer of organza, sewn in, for the neckband interfacing.  I did not top stitch the hem.

comments:  I love this dress.  I feel pretty in it, even if it’s a bit snug at the moment.  Give me a couple of weeks on that.  I will likely make this again, in the shorter version, with some design changes.  One thing I’m going to add – lingerie/bra carriers.   I didn’t realize they were showing in the photos.

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When to set aside a project?

In this case, when I can’t muster the enthusiasm to work on it and keep thinking of the next project.  I’m afraid that I will be sloppy as a result.

I’ve been working on the top to Vogue 1213, in a beautiful, easy to work with 3 ply silk crepe.  I love the blouse and I will finish it – in fact I don’t have far to go and I’m not putting it completely away.

You see, when I started this project, work was calm.  Then it became a storm – a hurricane.  I think I may have found one hour in an entire month to sew.  And now that things have calmed a bit, I’m not interested in working on it.  Part of the problem is that my brain has moved on to the next project.  And part is that the formal part of my job has ended for a few months (I’ll be working from home) and I don’t need a silk blouse right now.  I need summer dresses.

So here it is, and I do plan to finish it:

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Why do you put something aside?