Statement Sleeves M7630 (& another V1550)

I’ve finally made something with the statement sleeve that seems so popular (but completely absent from the most recent copy of Harper’s Bazaar).  I have several patterns, but finally settled on McCall 7630 as a quick make.  It’s cute, okay, but not really me.  It is very easy.

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Pattern:  McCall 7630, View E, size 12.

Fabric:  a crisp cotton voile I purchased as a roll-end several years ago. I’ve never known what to do with it, and this pattern called for chambray, poplin, denim or crepe.  The sleeve on view E would work better with a softer drape, even though the model appears to be wearing a crisp fabric.

Construction/changes:  I added length in the torso (standard adjustment, but otherwise followed the directions.  One thing of note, the bust apex is mis-marked on the tissue.  It’s almost under the arm.  In fact, there’s about 12.5 inches between the bust points.

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This is relatively simple to construct.  I liked the sleeve drape on the photo, which is more “curved” in reality.  The challenge with the sleeve is the narrow hem with that sharp corner.  I’ve never really done the sharp corner before, and wasn’t sure how to proceed.  I nailed one, the other is a little messy. I’m going to have google the technique for the silk blouse I’m currently working on, which has several of these corners.

Here I am – I like the blouse, it’s cute, but not really my thing.  It’s also a little sheer, necessitating a camisole. I’m wearing it with, wait…

Another pair of the Paco Peralto wide legged pants (V1550).  I love these pants so much I now have four pair – 3 in linen and this pair in super 120s wool.  I’ve worn out the black and purple linen pairs.

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Nothing new on the construction here.  This is a very drapey and somewhat shiny merino wool, with a tone on tone stripe.  I bought the fabric years ago from G Street Fabrics (DC) for pants for my husband.  He declared them too shiny.  I remember paying way too much.  Now I have a very lovely pair of pants. I wore them Monday with the Paco Peralto big white shirt and received many compliments.

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Halloween Photos

I’m so tired!  You know what happens when a seven year old goes to bed more than an hour late, still wound up?  He wakes up an hour early (at 5 am).  I feel bad for the teachers this morning.

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This year we went as vampires, though, because we were running late getting over to my son’s friend’s neighborhood, we didn’t finish the makeup.  And, that big giant wig I was wearing covered most of my costume.

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Patterns:  Simplicity 1045 view A (dress); McCalls 4139, views B & C (adult capes); McCalls 7494, view D (child cape and vest); McCalls 2447 (men’s vest).  Note: the cape run long on me, but the dress was soooo short.  I added two inches at the waist, as I normally do for my long waist.  I still didn’t have enough length for a 1.5 inch (much less proper) hem, so I turned and stitched a 3/8th inch one.  I also dropped the sleeves from the dress and changed how the back drape was done.  Other than that, no issues with the patterns.  DH and DS wore their own pants and t-shirts (it was 80F/27C degrees out, but no humidity).

Fabric:  Lots of polyester here.  I means yards and yards!  All the satin and chiffon was from Mood Fabrics.  The satin was nicer quality than I would expect, medium heavy with drape.  The weight on the dress meant I didn’t have to worry about cling.  The braid for the dress was also Mood.  The bemberg rayon lining was from Emma One Sock, in my stash.

The two vests are layered.  I used the black satin as the base in the front, and layered it with the spiderweb mesh/tulle from JoAnns (they seem to carry it every year – Witching Hour brand).

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After I made the buttonholes and attached the buttons, the boys decided they wanted skull buttons.  Given I’d already made the holes, I was limited in what I could buy size wise.  After many searches, I settled on what turned out to be very small, but very high quality buttons from Joyce’s Trimming on Etsy.

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I know it’s a lot of work and more money than purchasing costumes.  But the year we bought costumes they were so cheap it wasn’t worth the money or time saved.  We carefully box away the costumes for another year.  Some day soon, the boy won’t want to match us and we can recycle.

 

Black & White (McCall 7600 & Vogue 1247)

Leftover fabric, a new pattern, an old pattern, and keeping it simple:  I love the outcome.

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The top:

The pattern for the top is Nancy Zieman’s  color block top (M 7600).  It’s really super easy and the directions have little tips for sewing knits. When I first bought the pattern, I didn’t realize it was for knits, but I think you could easily adapt this pattern for woven fabric too.

I made view A.  I originally cut a size 14, given how everything else was fitting lately, but when I basted the top portion together for a test run, it was way too big, so I cut the entire top back down to a 12.

I used the same black rayon doubleknit from Gorgeous Fabrics as the dress I just made, plus some of the off-white she had in rayon doubleknit.  The remainder of the black and white are reserved for a color block dress for the fall.  This fabric is luscious: it has body and drape and feels good on the skin.  I’m not fond of working with knits – the stretchiness and rolling are annoying.  Double knits are more stable though, so I tend to choose them over jersey (and if I buy jersey, it tends to sit in the closet).

There isn’t much to the construction of the top – though I made some changes.  First, I left off the embellishments.  Second, as described, the armholes and neckline are bound.  I didn’t do that.  The rayon is heavy and I felt the binding would distract/detract.  So, I interfaced the edges, serged them (trimming 1/4 inch), folded over 3/8 inch, pressed carefully and slowly topstitched. I did the same with the hems.

The final change I made was to pick out the top stitching under the arms (it’s actually forward on the top, toward the center seam by about 3 inches, as you can see in the picture. I had my doubts when I was doing this finally step.  Sure enough, when I put it on, the drape was compromised.  I was worried about wardrobe malfunction, but it doesn’t seem to be a problem (though it might be on a larger-breasted individual).

In the end, I find the top cool, sophisticated, and flattering (despite the lack of shape). I’ve worn it a few times already.

The skirt:

The skirt is one I’ve made four times now – the ever popular Rachel Comey (Vogue 1247). Funny, I never blogged the other three skirts.  I used the last of the black cotton sateen (with stretch) from the old Gorgeous Fabrics that I used for the not-great Pucci pant.  Of course, sateen reflects light, whereas the black rayon absorbs it, so the two blacks really don’t go together… but I’m okay with it … for now.  And this makes black skirt number 6 in my wardrobe.   A staple!  – different styles, fabrics… and two are near retirement.

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I did this quickly – it’s an easy skirt – making a few changes from the original.  First, I used the serger to finish my seam/hem edges, rather than binding them.  I’ve done both, and I’m indifferent on this skirt, with this fabric, so I went simpler.  Second, I’ve eliminated the pockets.  For some reason, they poof out weirdly on my, so only one version of this skirt ever had pockets.  And finally, I added six inches to the length.  This skirt is only 15 inches in length in its original form, and I wanted to be able to wear this to work, too.

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Impossible to photograph black.

One other note: I cut this out starting at a 12, adding 1/4 inch to each side (total one inch to the circumference).  Since the difference between a 12 and 14 is about 3/8″, I originally sewed 1/2 inch seam allowances (total 1.5 inch circumference).  The skirt was too loose, so I went back to the regular seam allowances.  I think the difference (and what I failed to take into account with the Pucci pant) is that the fabric has some stretch.

Yes, more wardrobe staples, and black/white can get boring, but I’m working on things I can wear for a trip to NYC later this summer.  I don’t want to pack a lot, but I want to look chic.  I can add bits of color here and there to change things up.

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Basic, but oh so wardrobe friendly (McCall 7121)

Today, I would have arrived in Ukraine for a few days.  I’m a child of the cold war, coming of age in “West Germany,” graduating from an American military high school in West Germany the same year Chernobyl melted down.  I grew up with Realpolitik and understanding NATO and the Warsaw Pact far better than the US governmental system.  In college, I studied all things Soviet and Russian (and Ukrainian) – politics, language, culture, literature, history, geography.  Even though that world fell shortly after my college graduation, East of the Iron Curtain still fascinates me.  I was excited about Kyiv.  Unfortunately, we had to cancel at the last minute.

This is one of the dresses I made for the trip.  Simple – easy to accessorize with jewelry, hats, jackets/sweaters, scarves.   Modest, because visiting Ukrainian churches requires women to cover knees, shoulders and heads (men have restrictions too).  I like it, and it makes me feel better about my figure (yes, I still have a waistline).  I have some adjustments to do on the fit, but this will be a versatile piece in my wardrobe.

Sometimes, we focus on the fun and funky to blog and forget the everyday.  Well, here’s to the everyday.

From McCall’s website, M7121, view C.

The pattern:  McCall 7121.  This is a basic a-line dress, in three lengths, with options for color blocking or placing stripes on the bias.  Most of the reviews I saw were of the maxi-length, with the bias stripes.  That’s why I originally bought the pattern, but never made it.  I made view C, the just below the knee length, but changed the back. I made a 14, adding two inches to the length at the waist.  After wearing it, I think the shoulders through bust point should be a 12, and I should only have added 1.5 inches (I didn’t account for the slight blousing from the elastic).

The fabric:  a black rayon blend doubleknit from the new Gorgeous Fabrics.  Ann’s out of the black, but she does have it in other colorways.

What I did differently:

  1. I didn’t add the elastic, since I intend to wear this with a belt.  But the rayon is heavy enough that it needs the support of the elastic if you don’t belt it.
  2. The neckline, armholes and hem are the typical narrow hem: fold and press 5/8, open, then fold to the pressed line, top stitch.  This would be bulky in the doubleknit.  I used the lightest interfacing I had (Fashion Sewing Supply, Couture weight) to add 5/8″ strips to all of these edges.  I then serged these edges, trimming off 1/4 inch.  Then, I pressed under 3/8″, and top-stitched.  Cleaner, smoother, less bulk.
  3. I changed the back.  I didn’t want racer back, and I didn’t want a v-back either.  So I meshed together the pattern pieces for view A and view C to fill in the v-neck.

Final thoughts: I like this, but need to continue working to get the best fit.  When I sat in the car, the dress slumped in the front.  I didn’t do it so much at the restaurant (my posture is far better at a table than in a car, obviously).  But I still need to take the shoulders up a bit.  It’s also slightly big in the armhole above the bustline (in front and back).  I’ll make this again, perhaps in a fun print and shorter length, if I find the right fabric.  (Oh, and those front and back center seams – they aren’t straight or on the grainline, so cheating by using the fold line won’t save you time.  They add shape.)

 

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Fitting via Text (3 more McCalls 7079)

Last fall my niece asked kindly for some new skirts and a dress for her bunny.  She lives several states away, so I asked my sister for some new measurements.  I also asked her what my niece wore in RTW for her favorite dress.  Comparing the measurements, I determined that a size 14 (girls) would be the right size, so started on McCalls 7079.

Well, the dress hangs on her and the bunny dress would not button shut.  Fortunately, the dress fit her American Girl doll.  We’re doing this fitting via text message.

I cut out another dress for each and made some adjustments.  A size 12, plus raising the neckline another 1/2 inch (it’s far larger than the envelop shows).  And I added 4 inches to the bunny dress.  I got them there in time for Christmas, and voila!  Perfect.  I immediately cut out two more dresses, thinking I could send them in time for Christmas, but only made them this weekend.

The black and pink floral is a poly ponte from Gorgeous Fabrics.  The brown floral is poly ITY from Gorgeous Fabrics.   The green velvet (Marcy Tilton) is the same velvet I used for my shirt. I didn’t get a new picture of the bunny dress.

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Hope she likes them. I’m partial to the brown floral.

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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.

 

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.

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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.

Hot weather comfort: Style Arc Anna Pant + McCall’s 7411

I’ve been away for a while, at 8000 feet, with no humidity.  I’m back in Florida, and not only is my sewing mojo in full swing, it says: comfort clothes, please; nothing too tight!  So, flowing  linen pants paired with a loose cotton voile top was my choice.  I’ve had the Style Arc Anna pant on the docket for a while, and decided to pair it with View C of McCall’s 7411 tank.  The navy stretch linen and the printed cotton voile are both from Gorgeous Fabrics.  I love the fabrics absolutely and both were very easy to work with.  The Style Arc Anna pants are fantastic, the top doesn’t pass the wearability test.

As always, photography is not my strong suit, the pictures are barely adequate.

Style Arc Anna: This is a straight leg pant, with a drawstring.  This pattern is super easy to make and goes together well.  If I make it again, however, I will purchase the pattern, rather than use the PDF.  I had a lot of trouble with lining everything up, and I’m pretty sure the pants are slightly off grain as a result.  I’ve used many other PDFs before, but this is my first Style Arc attempt – it may be my printer.

From the Style Arc website:Anna Pant - Straight leg drawstring pant, casual & sporty

I really love my Lily Pulitzer beach pants, but not the $180 price tag that comes with them. I wear the medium in Lily; here I sewed the 10 with only one modification.  The crotch curve (more of an L than a J) and rise match the Lily pant perfectly.  However, I wanted to make sure that the leg had enough ease to swish – and my thighs measure 23″ at their fullest point (hey, I run). So, I added 1/4 inch to the outside front and back seams, for a total 1/2 inch each leg.  Perfect – not tight when I sit, and the right amount of flowy beach swish when I sit.

The lily pant has three inches of ribbing for a lower rise pant, and the drawstring is merely decorative.  I didn’t have ribbing, so I constructed the fold-over waistband as directed.  I did switch out the fabric drawstring for navy 1/2 inch twill tape (much more comfortable, less bulky) and used 1/4 inch eyelets instead of button holes.

Last, an important improvement over the white Lily pants; – the 31.5 inch inseam is perfect to wear with flats/flip-flops.  The Lily pants are longer, requiring 3 inch heels, hemming, or rolling up.

This was my first Style Arc pattern, and I like it enough to try another, especially in pants.  I also love these pants and can see myself wearing these regularly.

McCall’s 7411 Layered Tank:

From McCall’s webpage, view C

I chose this pattern, but wasn’t thrilled with it.  The line drawings showed potential, even though I didn’t like the way it fit the model. I thought it was simply a lack of effort from the manufacturer, especially since the pressing job was less than adequate.  I also thought the neckline was boring.  I thought I could improve on this one, but I was wrong.

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There is a lot of ease here.  I mean a lot.  I wear a 12, but sized down to the small (8-10).  The finished measurements for the medium are 41″ (bust), 44″ (waist) and 37.5″ (bust) and 40.5″ for the small.

I decided that I wanted to add piping to the neckline and armholes, though I considered other options.  I made my own piping using the facings from view A as a guideline (cut on the bias) with 1/4″ piping.  This decision led me to abandon the order of construction.

I had never made my own piping before, nor added it to a neckline.  I referenced a few sources, but none that I found quickly suggested how to do it sandwiched this way.  I found, after doing the neckline, that the piping foot did not give me a tight “pipe” or abutment to the fabric edge.  I used a traditional zipper foot and was far more successful in getting the look I wanted. You can see the piping in the pictures below, and the rearview problems as well.

For the neck, I made the piping, stay-stitched the edges, then basted it to the overlay.  I then added the base layer and stitched.  I closed the back opening as directed at this point in the directions.  I did the same thing with piping the armsyce, except this time I stitched the piping to the overlay, pressed and then hand stitched the base layer in place (I couldn’t figure out how to turn things otherwise).

I was surprised at how comfortable the fabric is, but how terribly this wears.  I took great pains with the pressing, yet I still end up with the wrinkles and pulls in the chest and “sleeves” as in the model.  I also get gaping at the back opening, and it’s not just from the pose.  The darts are all wrong – two short, wrong angle.  I thought, okay, fine for grocery shopping.  But all the fit/pressing issues only got worse in real life.  So, this shirt is for the charitable pile.  I love the fabric, though and will be re-ordering it, but I doubt I’ll make the top again.

 

 

 

Quick Tee: McCall 7127

A short post, from my mobile, as I’m packing for an extended trip.  Still, I found time to make a t-shirt with an interesting back. (Terrible shadows in the photos!)

Front
Back

This tee is very easy-it took no time at all.  I used my straight stitch machine and serged seams.  Instead of narrow hems, I serged the edges without trimming, folded over the hem allowances and top stitched 3/8 inch from ghe edge (7/8 on the sleeves).

My only quibble with the construction is that you hem the bottom of the front and back before sewing the side seams.  I don’t really care for the way that finishes the side seams.  I had to tack them down by hand. 

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I sewed a 12, view B, no alterations. This is closer fitting than I expected even in the arms (I have skinny arms).  It has no shaping at the bust or waist, so consider a muslin first.   It’s cute, but a little fussy.  Those back panels don’t like to stay just so.  

The fabric is an organic cotton jersey from Marcy Tilton purchased last summer.  Mid-weight and no rolling, it’s long sold out.  I love that she is thorough in her descriptions of the knits, including the rolling.

I am not sure how often I will wear this, and I won’t make this version again, but I am considering the version with the keyhole back.

No time for live shots, and you can see my final pressing still needs to be done.