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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Learning to (sew a) fly. Guy LaRoche pants (V2578).

Wow.  Where did January go?  I was so busy at work this month, I was too exhausted to do much more than read a book before bed.  I started these pants at the beginning of the month, but only just finished them.  Meantime, the passage of time included me taking up running again, which is making sewing (fitting) a little more challenging as my body starts re-shaping itself.

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The pattern is from 2001: a lovely Guy LaRoche pant and jacket.  I had considered making the skirt in stead of trousers, but decided to push my self to learn new skills and work on fitting.  I’m planning on making the suit with a lovely dark brown tropical wool and the jacket multi-toned tan wool.  Description for the trouser:  “Semi-fitted, straight-legged pants have contour waistband and fly zipper closing.”

But since I have limited experience with a fly closure, practice was in order first.  And, as I’ll write below, I’m not sure if it’s my limited experience or the directions, but I did a fair amount of ripping out.

I first practiced the fly with the muslin (though not the waistband, which would have highlighted an error in the instructions).  The muslin revealed (to me at least) horizontal wrinkles, so I graded out to I think a 16 (or between 14 and 16).  The pant is narrow, but my thighs are wide.  I was also going to need length, so I added an inch.  I did not encounter issues with the fly.

Three weeks later, I found time to do the fly again.  And again.  I was proud of my first attempt:

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I’ve pinned out the pleat.

Until I realized that I put in the right fly backward.  I also couldn’t figure out how I got a pleat at the bottom part of the zipper.  I followed the directions, but I think it has something to do with the second step in the middle of the photo – you’re to fold over and press, tapering to nothing.  I can’t see that in the picture, and I clearly didn’t do it right.

 

Rip out, redo.  Looks great.  I proceeded with adding the waistband to realize that the left fly is mis-marked for zipper placement.  I painstakingly marked the fabric, and it’s about 1/2 inch too close to the fold. You can see in the directions below that the fold should line up with the top stitching on the right.  And, when I attached the waistband, I had an extra half inch.  I trimmed it, at this point, because it was too late to do anything else.  However, it did make it difficult to put the button hole in neatly, because there wasn’t enough space…

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My left fly doesn’t line up with the right fly top-stitching as it does in the sketch below, and I ended up with extra waistband and a funky button hole.

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Does anyone know how to prevent the funky turn at the corners you see in the picture below?  I was super careful cutting, stitching and turning, and yet the corners are distorted.  Enough that I will likely wear these trousers only with tops un-tucked.  It’s like I pulled too much and stretched the fabric out of shape.

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Oh, speaking of the fabric:  a tropical wool with stretch, cross-woven black and white to produce a lovely blue grey (from Rag & Bone).  I purchased it as roll end from Emma One Sock last fall.

Other random thoughts:  I intend to wear these with a kitten heel, as they are too short otherwise (even after adding an inch).  I’ll add length to the next pair, to help elongate the legs.  These were lined, btw, but I left out the lining.   I will start the jacket for the suit before the brown pants.  I want to re-muslin giving all the running I’d doing.

And, with that, it’s time for a run.

B6134: the Ponte Version

Well, the ponte version of Butterick 6134 (last week’s shirt) revealed new fitting issues.  I’ll continue to play around with this “muslin” though I hadn’t intended it to be a muslin.  The rayon ponte is from Marcy Tilton – she does carry great knits!

Early morning bathroom selfies:

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What I didn’t notice on the version from last week was the placement of the princess seams. Note that they are way to the outside of the bust apex.  This pattern piece is essentially the same for all sizes in the envelop (size 6-14).  And if it’s too wide on me, running between a size 12/14, imagine the fit on a narrower gal. I’m also a B cup, which is who the big 4 design for.  This has the affect of making me look flat chested.

You can also see other issue areas.  I have pulling now in the sleeve that I didn’t have before… I should mention that I folded out 1/2 inch in front and back on that middle piece, right above the point where the princess seam meets the sleeve to deal with the hollow chest.  I also have some pulling toward the stomach (more planks, less wine?).  And though you can’t see it well, the neck collapses/has too much fabric. What you see in the photo isn’t simply because my arm is raised.  Better picture here:

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I cant rescue this version. I hadn’t noticed the princess seams on last weeks version, so when I did them here, I serged – I have no fabric to play with.  I can still play around with the sleeve and neck.

In any case I’m entertaining suggestions. Right now it’s really not working for me, but I love the lines on this enough I’d like to get to right!

And, if you’re wondering about my long string of failures… I have plenty of clothes (well enough) that I’m moving outside of my comfort zone. I’m trying new styles and new fabrics (too me).  But I’m also finally tackling my most difficult area to fit – tops/shirts. I’ve been avoiding shirts, especially semi-fitted/fitted for a long time.  I need to figure this out – as I have noticed that I have the same problem with dresses.

 

 

A UFO no more: Butterick 6134

A cute combination of raglan sleeves and princess seams, I chose Butterick 6134 early this summer as a great wardrobe basic.  It’s an easy pattern, but I fell into trouble with it – fabric choice and fitting!

IMG_3604I’ve been cleaning out things around home (including donating 7 amazing RTW designer suits from my suit days to charity and 20 yards of fabric to the art program at my son’s school).  I came across this project I abandoned over the summer and decided to finish it for the lessons learned.  And, voila it works.  While this version is just okay, I have high hopes for the next version!

The pattern:  Butterick 6134, released 2014.  Fitted top with raised neckline.  I chose view B, but with view C’s short sleeves.

The fabric:  The pattern calls for faille, challis, or crepe.  Crisp and architectural or soft and drapey?  I chose a soft white tiny pique cotton woven I bought from Sawyer Brook at least 5 or 6 years ago.  Spoiler:  the fabric doesn’t really work.

Construction: Nothing complicated here.  Except the fit. I cut and stitched a 14 through to adding the sleeves (a 14 – how’d that happen?).  I basted in the raglan sleeves and tried it on.  I thought I was being generous cutting a 14 … but … my midsection …  too tight.  In a fit, I took it off and threw it in the sewing closet where it stayed until I found it last week.

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I tried it on again, now that I soberly realize that I need to fit the body I have, not the body I once had, or think I’ll get with exercise.  It wasn’t so bad.  I let out all the seams in the front and sides (where I needed room), and re-stitched with 1/2 inch seams up until the first darts, where I eased back to 5/8ths.  It fits. I added about 1 inch doing so.

I also noticed when I finished the top that I need to think about one more fitting measure (at least).  I had marked the bust point with tailors tacks, and I noted that the bust point was low.  I pinched out the fabric above the bust between the sleeve seams (but not in the back), and the fit was much better.  I’ve noticed “saggy extra fabric”  in this area before, which leads me to believe that I need to muslin all my tops to check for the hollow chest adjustment.

Would I make it again and what would I change?  Yes, but I would change the fabric (and fit adjustments).  This fabric wrinkles too much, and it’s not “firm” enough.  It doesn’t have the body it needs to look just right. It’s very fitted, so I’d recommend a stable knit (like a ponte).  My next version will be in a grey rayon ponte remnant I picked up from Marcy Tilton.  This version is fine as a layering piece, but I’m not thrilled with it as a stand alone.

In the details (Rebecca Taylor V 1199)

I realized I have a few items I’ve made recently that I haven’t blogged. It’s because somehow, I messed up the fit on these items (or didn’t like the style).  So, a few more mistakes, but for all three, I’m definitely going to do them again!!

IMG_3578A skirt!  Should be simple, right?  That’s what I thought when I decided to make this Rebecca Taylor skirt (V1199) last August.  Done in a day? Sure!  I didn’t pay attention the details at that moment.  The details make this skirt special.  Most I like (but not the fitting detail).

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This skirt has tiny little single welt pockets, a wrap around the waist tab, raised waist with notch detail at the back waist, and is vented.  One detail I missed is the grosgrain edging on the tabs (and ended up not doing, as I didn’t like the match with the grosgrain I bought).

 

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The fabric?  All cotton windowpane plaid from Philip Lim, that I purchased at Emma One Sock as a remnant. I love the fabric, but it does fray.  Next time I tackle welts with this type fabric, I must remember fray check.  I lined the skirt in black silk crepe de chine.

This wasn’t hard, and I managed decent looking welt pockets.  The directions were solid.

The final detail I missed?  This skirt narrows from the hips.  I did my typical fitting adjustments for a skirt, not taking into account that narrowing.  I need more girth through the buttocks and thighs.  So, as much as I love the skirt, I’m going to be donating it.

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I will make it again, but I will need to make those adjustments!

Oh, and did I tell you that I despise working with chiffon?  The vampire dress will be sleeveless.  It’s still in the 80s here anyway.

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The big, crisp, white shirt (V1526)

I love a crisp white shirt.  I reach for one regularly, so I knew it was time to make one.  When I was in NYC this summer, I deemed my wardrobe was in for an upgrade – it needed more style, a little edge.  Enter the Paco Peralto big white shirt (Vogue 1526).

Vogue 1526, Paco Peralta, from Vogue’s website.

The shirt has an interesting rolled collar, fun placement for the pocket, and opportunities to learn/practice tailoring skills.  I need more work on collars, flat-felled seams, and button holes.  I really enjoyed making this shirt.  (Note on pictures:  I re-pressed after these pictures.)

The silhouette? I’m really not sure. In looking at a few of my recent shirt makes, it’s all been about fit and ease.  This shirt is not described as “very loose”,  “loose”, or any of the other clues that Vogue gives about the silhouette.  Judging from the model and the line drawing, I judged it loose fitting – or having a lot of ease.  Even though I think a fitted style is more flattering on me, I once again chose a loose shirt.  This has everything to do with living in a hot, humid, location.

But this shirt is BIG.  I cut a size 12, and didn’t add anything for length.  The sleeves on the model appear 3/4 length, but are closer to 7/8ths or even-full length (no clarification on the pattern description).   Once again, I did not make a muslin, but this was more about learning the techniques than worrying about the fit.  I’m not sure about it, it may grow on me.  I still LOVE the collar, and did enjoy making it.  But I think I’m going to go for a more fitted/semi-fitted shape next.

 

The pattern:  Vogue 1526, by Paco Peralta c 2016.  I made view B, the shirt.  “Shirt has dropped shoulder and long sleeves with cuff.”  End description.  I do plan to make the jacket and pants, but I never had any plans to pair it with the shirt.

The fabric:  an all cotton poplin from Marcy Tilton I bought last year. It’s crisp, and a little difficult to iron – I washed, damp-dried, and pressed with starch the final version of the shirt. I used less fabric than the pattern called for, even with the rolled collar on the bias.  The only interfacing is in the collar – I used the crisp shirt interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply, but I’m not sure I thoroughly fused it to the poplin.

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The instructions: are fine.  Definitely baste every time suggested, and more.  You definitely want to baste the placement and seam lines for the shoulder and sleeve seams. I ended up pulling out my first attempt on the shoulders and redoing for not doing so.  Step 22 (slip-stitching the cuff) shows the incorrect drawing:  You should have a right-sided (folded over) cuff slip-stitched to the wrong side of the sleeve seam.  The drawing shows only right-sides.

Will I make it again?  I don’t know.  I think I will scale it back.  Looking at these pictures, it’s almost 80s oversized on me. Perhaps if I wear it untucked, belted. (The angles below de-emphasize the looseness!)

 

Vintage Ralph Lauren tank in silk (V1724)

For most, summer is almost over.  Here, in North Florida, our version of fall will come soon too: its crowning distinction isn’t cooler temperatures, but drier air and no thunderstorms!  (77 days this summer with severe thunderstorms).  That means I can still sew summer-like items.  Unfortunately, this tank failed for me.  Of course, if I had toiled it, I could have made adjustments to prevent the problem.

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Vogue 1724:  I should have taken note of the under arm gap in the photo.

But first, the details:

The pattern:  Vogue American Designer pattern 1724, Ralph Lauren tops c1986. I made view A, the tank, buttoning at the top shoulder.  Absolutely nothing complicated about this one.

The fabric:  a devine 3 ply silk crepe from Gorgeous Fabrics.

Construction notes: nothing of note, really, as this is a simple top.  I did change the button top (I couldn’t find two teeny 1/4in buttons) to snaps, and added a button for decoration.  I used french seams on the side seams, and finished the facing edges with the serger.

The problem? The armsyce is shaped funny and gaps. In the pattern, at the point of the gapping, there are instructions to ease fashion fabric to the facing – but they fit together without the need to ease.  I blithely sewed til completion and was met with disappointment.  I don’t know how to save this at this point, as the armsyce is already rather revealing. The seam has been sewn, understitched, and clipped. I have no scraps left either (though I do have some in off white).  I attempted to snug it up with some narrow clear elastic, but you can see from the photos that it only introduced more problems.

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Here’s what happened when I tried to add narrow clear elastic to tighten it up.

 

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The other side, sans elastic.

What to do?  For the moment, Ralph hangs on the dress form.  I’ve begun a serious weight loss/exercise program, and usually lose in the bust first.  I’d like to see how it hangs after that (at a size 12, it was just a bit too close and pulls some, and the gapping tends to occur above the bust point).

Yes, I’m disappointed.  I had hoped to wear this to work yesterday with a new pair of those fantastic Paco Peralto pants I keep making – this time in a pale pink linen.