Summer sewing? But it’s fall! Yes, it is even fall here in Florida, but summer warmth is still part of our days. This dress started as McCall 7745, and ended up as skirt. Last May I determined that I really liked view D of McCall 7745, and purchased the yellow viscose/linen that became a hi-lo skirt. When the fabric arrived, I changed my mind and ordered a lovely blue print Hawaiian rayon challis (Tori Richards) to make the dress (fabric from Fabric Mart).
The reviews for McCall 7745, view D, were overwhelmingly negative, so I made a muslin for the bodice. For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out how to adjust the muslin. It was too big through the bust, but with no wiggle room at all to lift the arms! I gave up and switched to view B, but wasn’t thrilled about the design. It had too much flounce for me.
Butterick 6554, view B has a very similar feminine silhouette but a little less frilly, so I thought I would try again. I spent some time tweaking a muslin, and then it was time to leave on vacation for summer – and I hadn’t even cut anything out. Three weeks ago, I thought I would pick up were I left off, and cut it out for the Luau we were throwing. I didn’t finish in time for the Luau, but I did finish it for my kid’s school carnival today. And I hated it!
I must have misread the markings I had transferred from the muslin to the pattern tissue. And I’m convinced that wrap dresses with raglan sleeves are not a flattering look for me.
Without any hesitation, I cut the bodice off and stitched on a grosgrain waistband with hooks and eyes. Much better, very comfortable, and still feminine without being too girly.
We’re thinking about a vacation in Portugal next summer – so even though it’s cool enough for a sweatshirt here (in the morning), I’ve got something to take with me!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I was determined to complete a project in February. I started with the Guy LaRoche suit, but find myself frozen on the double welt pockets. In an attempt to pull myself out, I decided to make this spring dress. Easy, peasy, except…
Stripes. Irregular stripes, with lycra. And a bold fabric with a flaw every 40 inches. And, all of this with a 40″ wide fabric. I knew the last two facts before purchasing. I didn’t really read the stripes correctly until after I started cutting. Doesn’t matter, I wouldn’t have had enough fabric to perfectly match the stripes everywhere anyway. (And would have wasted a lot of fabric, too). I feel pretty good about what I did manage to match, however.
Since this is a relatively new pattern release, I’ll do a “formal” review.
Pattern: McCall 7889 (c) 2019. Very loose fitting top and dresses, with button front closures. Sleeve, contrast, bias cut and neckline variations. I chose view C, the featured view, with contrast bands and long sleeves. PS: It’s really just a shirt-dress.
Fabric: A really lovely stripe from Emma One Sock. I purchased it last December, and I’m certain I bought the last of it. It has black, raspberry, white and strong pink stripes. The pink and black are the consistent stripes – the raspberry and white narrow stripes are very irregular. The fabric is from the designer Diane von Furstenberg. A cotton poplin, it also contains some lycra from crosswise stretch. The pattern recommends poplin, gingham and cotton blends
Sizing: I purchased A5, which contains 6-14. I cut a straight 12, thought it feels quite big in the shoulders (very loose-fitting means lots of ease…). The sleeves feel too long for the length of the dress – the model’s sleeves appear shorter. I added 1.5 inches at the waist to accommodate my long torso. I wish I had added some to the skirt for a slightly longer dress (though not much).
Instructions/changes: the instructions were just fine. This is a simple garment, complicated only by the fabric choice. Because of the cross wise stretch, one layer of fabric would stretch as I sewed on the cross-grain with the other layer on the lengthwise grain. I basted a lot to help eliminate it, and it also helped to keep my stripes mostly matched up. I didn’t press my pleats much beyond two inches (one inch either side); the directions say press, but not how much. I didn’t have enough fabric for the tie, so I used a leather belt in my closet. Last, because of the stripe and width of the fabric, I did a single layer layout.
Does it look like the pattern? Mostly. The sleeves seem longer, and I have long arms.
Recommend/Make again? Yes, I recommend this, but take care if your fabric has stretch. I don’t think I’ll make it again, unless I make the shirt version. I just really liked the version on the model, and fell in love with the pink stripe. I had to have it. It’s not really something I would normally choose, so we’ll see how much comfort I have with it. I think it will make a good vacation/going out dress, but not so much going to work dress.
And the final photos… the selfie stick would stay locked in position, and I was too lazy to do make up and hair!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
Leftover fabric, a new pattern, an old pattern, and keeping it simple: I love the outcome.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.)