Knits and Necklines (View C, top, Vogue 1389)…

Last night I cut out the muslin for Wrapapalooza, but realized the machine was still set to go with a knit top I’d been working on.  In this case, I was making the top from Vogue 1389.  It’s the second time I’ve made it.  Last time was in a linen knit, and it came out fine.  This time, a heavier, but far stretchier, black cotton jersey knit.

First, this top is snug.  If you like a close fit, that’s what you’re going to get (I think I did 3/8 inch seams with the linen because of the stretch, but definitely went 5/8 here).  Second, I followed Vogue’s instructions for attaching the neck band (in the round)… cutting carefully, marking carefully and stretching, stretching, stretching to fit.  No go.  Doesn’t lie flat.  Looks terrible.

Anyone want to point me to some good tutorials?  Leave a comment, please!

Wrapapalooza (Vogue 1239, Ralph Rucci)


Update 9/29:  Muslin done.  Construction is straightforward, a few errors in the directions.  This requires precision stitching, so I will be doing a fair amount of basting.  I’m also NOT going to follow the instructions for reinforcing all the reverse corners, using Schaeffer’s Couture technique instead.  If your fabric isn’t stiff, then you’ll want to underline the collar with silk organza. Last thing, a size 12 was the way to go or I’ll be ripping out the back/side seam when I raise my arm!  I also need to add some length (1 inch) to the torso.

Is it a wrap dress?  Or a coat dress?  No matter, when Ann of Gorgeous Fabrics suggested a wrap dress sew-along for National Sewing Month, I thought, of course!  I’ve had Vogue 1239 (Ralph Rucci) on my list since it came out in 2011, and even bought the fashion fabric at the time … but haven’t gotten to it yet.  And here it is the end of September and I’m just getting started (September was crazy at home and work and I barely touched the machine).

I really like the simple clean lines on this dress.  The sleeves are interesting, and the standing collar will elongate the body. It just looks classy.  It’s got some interesting construction points to it, and it will challenge me with respect to perfect top and edge stitching.  Simple-looking dresses can be difficult to look professional, so I’ll have to take my time.   On the other hand, no zipper, no set in sleeves.

The fabric?  A beautiful blue silk poplin, from Isaac Mizrahi, that I picked up at Mood Fabrics.  The silk habotai lining is French Bleu from Gorgeous Fabrics, and was still available three weeks ago when  I bought it.

I’ve read reviews on the dress, and many complain about the directions. They seem straight forward to me, but I’ve only looked at them for the conceptual plan, not the details.  Others suggest issues with sizing.

Because this style may not work for me, the construction may be challenging, and sizing, I’m making a muslin first.  I usually would do a 12 (or even 14 for the hips), I looked at the flat pattern measurements, and there is a whole lot of ease here, especially for something described at “close-fitting” (almost 8 inches at the waist and bust). I’m taking a chance, because I cut the muslin at a 10 as a result.  My shoulders usually fit 10 best in any case.  Of course, we’ll see how low cut this really is as well.

I’ll make the muslin, then the lining, then put the dress together.  Because this dress is more involved, I’ll probably take time to finish a project and make a skirt for my niece and a Halloween costume for the wee one.

Something for the little guy (McCalls 9665 OOP)


I started this project about a year ago.  I stopped for a couple of reasons:  company coming and had to clean the sewing/guest room, no piping foot, hated the fabric.  Last month I whipped it up and finally got the little guy to pose with it.


I really do hate the cheap quality fabric – not much fun to sew.  I thought piping would be difficult, but that turned out to be pretty easy.  I’m glad I did finish it, because the little guy absolutely loves it.


One thing I did not do was make the pillow forms (the outer fabric is supposed to be a slip cover).  From my perspective, it makes the chair a semi-formed bean bag – not much of a proper shape.  From the little guy’s point of view – it’s perfect and roly-poly.

 IMG_0953 IMG_0954

Flat-lining and fitting… (Vogue 2811)

9/10/2014:  I find the fit vastly improved if I slide the skirt down on my hips. It’s supposed to sit one inch below the waist, but it looks better 2-3 inches lower (note the models also do this). I’m also long-waisted so this definitely helps. It also makes the skirt mid-knee now, but the unfortunate bulkiness at the front, right at the prize, still remains.

Still working on basics to fill out some gaps in my wardrobe.  This time, I made an a-line skirt in an off-black linen, which I obtained from Marcy Tilton (still available).  I feel very confident making skirts, so this was about three things:  I’d never done a fly-front, more practice edge-stitching, and the chance to do a fun flat line.

Alice and Olivia
Alice and Olivia

I chose a new (to me) pattern:  Alice and Olivia’s Vogue 2811 (out of print) mid-knee, below waist, a-line skirt.  First, I knew without a doubt that this was not mid-knee!  I added four inches to the hemline, and it’s still two inches above my knee.  Second, I’ve gained weight with the move (stress-eating anyone?), so I cut out a 14 instead of my usual 12.  My measurements suggested I should cut a 16, but I’m glad I didn’t, because the 14 was perfect in some ways, but roomy in others.  More on that later.  I did decide to eliminate the back pockets, and only do minimal edge stitching – this pattern is edge and top stitched.

So, why flat-line*, underline, line at all, a summer linen skirt?   Well, this linen was a little coarse, and you could see light through it.  I still remember pictures of Princess Diana during her engagement of when she stood in the light in a skirt without a slip – oh the scandal.  I’m not a prude, but transparency around my hips and thighs doesn’t work for me.

Still, flat lining (and underlining) has its benefits.  It helps keep linen from wrinkling as much, gives more body to the fabric, and can help prevent seating. Oh, and flat lining allows for a very neat, clean interior:

Center back seam at waist, showing flat-lining.
Center back seam at waist, showing flat-lining.

Here, I used a black and white floral batiste I picked up from Gorgeous Fabrics years ago.  I had made something from  it then, and set aside the rest.  I like it here!

Construction was pretty easy – the only thing I was worried about was the zipper fly – and the instructions were super-easy to follow.  No problem.  Feel like I can tackle it again.

Fitting.  Where I made my big mistake was failing to fit as I sewed.  I know better.  I saw the printed pattern measurement (including ease) for the hip and felt pretty confident the 14 was the way to go.  I was less confident about the waist.  The skirt sits about 1 inch below the waist, so no final girth measurement on the pattern – and I neglected to measure.  Shame on me!  (I was concerned it would be too tight) First the pix:

Back gap!
Back gap! And my mid-section in front looks bulky.
Gap with shirt tucked.
A different view of the back gap, with shirt tucked.

A few things: first the back gap. As you can see in both pictures, The contour waistband does not lie flat, but in fact gaps.  I thought tucking it in would hide it, but the fit is off.  Second, I don’t like the way the front lies on the body (the right side of the first of these two photos).  It looks bulky and a little to big.  If I pull the skirt down to let the back fit lower and better on the hip, the front looks worse (the zipper seems too long).  The skirt sits a bit large on me, but otherwise the fit is okay on me – I didn’t realize how big a difference going to the 14 from 12 would be.

If I hadn’t been in such a zone, I would have stopped to fit as I went, which would have alerted me to these issues.  Too confident in my sewing abilities (and this was fun and easy to make) to stop and work on my weak fitting abilities.  Any suggestions on fixing the fit (particularly the front, which you can see a bit of in the first photo)?  I will make this skirt again though not for a while.

One thing I lost with the move – my brilliant and sweet neighbor.  She would offer such wonderful advice, especially on fitting.  Oh, and she often took pictures, so I can’t always get a finished view on me anymore.

Ambitious sewing agenda ahead, another basic, attempt to finish the white linen top to go with this skirt, and then Wrapapalooza!

* flatlining is a great technique with skirts, because generally the seam lines are mostly straight.  You sew the lining fabric to the fashion fabric, right sides together with a 1/4 inch seam, turn inside out and stitch in the ditch. You do this for vertical seams only, and you must allow for the turn of the cloth and covering the raw edges.  Here, I added 1/2 an inch to each vertical seam.

From my grandmother…

Madalynne has a series of blog posts about “the way sewing used to be”, so when my mother visited last week and brought me a few things, I was inspired to post as well.

My grandmother passed away fifteen years ago, and much of her home is still exactly they way it has always looked (except the new flat screen tv).  My mom was visiting last weekend, and picked up these goodies for me.  They haven’t been touched in at least all that time: