Channeling Roman Holiday: M7906 & NL6407

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.

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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.

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Bathroom selfie, with a RTW blouse.
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Back view, with RTW blouse.

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.

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Ugly buttonhole.

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.

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The skirt needs pressing.  I wore it to Tampa last week, and it got crushed in the car.  I only gave it a cursory pressing for pictures.

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.

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4 years & the Matthew Williamson Kaftan

Probably closer to 4.5 years.

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.

Make your Own Mathew Williamson Kaftan
From the Guardian.

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:

  1. Made the triangles (with the hypotenuse in French seams) for the insets and set them aside.
  2. Gathered as instructed for the front (under the inset) and in the back. I did this by hand, but not well.
  3. 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).
  4. Attached the yoke to the front in a 3/8 inch seam.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Carefully pressed under the yoke back, front, and side edge seam allowances, then slip-stitched in place.
  8. 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.
  9. Sewed the arm and side seams in one, again French seam.
  10. 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.

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Ooh.  Wrinkly.  And missing something.

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:

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Summer melon/cheese/prosciutto board from the party.

Grandma

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.

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Grandma, with her future husband.  He died when I was two.

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.

 

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Grandma, with my mom, and their dog Debbie.  My mom is fairly advanced with Alzheimer’s.

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.

Ed and Margaret Guy in Knoxville TN
Grandma, with grandad just before he set out for WWII.

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.

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Grandma with her second husband, the man I would know as Grandpa.

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.

Margaret Finch
Grandma, in the dress that won her the dress revue competition for the state of SC in 1940.

 

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Copycat: Modified Butterick 4684

As a rule, I don’t like to copy ready-to-wear.  I work in a field where ideas are protected, as is what you produce.  Plagiarism may be the sincerest form of flattery, but it’s still plagiarism.  Still, I did it this time.   I found this blouse at Nordstrom:

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Nic & Zoe (at Nordstrom)

It retails for $148 – all linen, raglan top, with tied up sleeves and shirt-tail hem.  I really liked it.  But before buying it, I saw a similar fabric at Marcy Tilton:  darker, more intense, but similar.  I decided to give it a go.

I went through my patterns and decided on using Butterick 4684 as my base.  I’d made the tunic before, long ago, so thought it would work:

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No, it doesn’t have raglan sleeves, but I find that raglan sleeves are hard to fit on me.  I chose view D, with the sleeves of view A.  Here are the changes I made:

  1. I eliminated the front slit.
  2. I used a top I had whose neckline shape and size was similar to the photograph (though a bit smaller as it turns out) to reshape the neckline.
  3. I used a narrow facing to finish the neckline, top-stitching 3/4″ from the edge.
  4. I used french seams throughout.
  5. I set the sleeves in flat before basting the side seam in a continuous seam all the way to the lower edge.
  6. At this point, I knew it was time to try it on for shaping, as this is a pretty boxy top.  I tapered into the waist about 1.5 inches on both sides.  I also shorted the top by 1.5 inches.
  7. After sewing the side seams, I used a favorite shirt to decide the shirt-tail hem, and traced/trimmed the fabric to the right shape front/back before machine-hemming a shirt-tail hem.
  8. I used half-inch black grommets I had on hand.   I would have placed them higher on the sleeve, as in the photo, but my sleeves were a little too narrow.  So, I placed them 4.5 inches above the hem, centered, as in the photo.
  9. I keep going back and forth on the ties.  The white cotton twill tape didn’t look right with the darker fabric and black grommet.  Unfortunately, the only black twill tape I had on had was synthetic and doesn’t drape.  I cut 20″ inch strips for both.  Next time I’m buying supplies, I will buy the cotton twill.

Photos.  I bought a tripod/remote for my phone, but the blue-tooth wouldn’t pair with my phone.  So, the usual not great bathroom selfies.  The pants are a white linen/viscose mix (also Marcy Tilton).  And, yes, they are Paco Peralto 1550, again.  I forgot to put on my shoes, hence the dragging hem!

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After seeing the stiff black ties, they are coming out!  The white looks better, even as a temporary expedient!