I finally decided to alter the Pucci top that didn’t work from a few weeks back. First, I put buttons down the back (simple purple shirt buttons). Second I took in the sides: I added a “curve” to the straight box cut by taking it in 1/4 inch (1/2 inch total each side) on the side, tapering to the hem and up to the bust dart. Third, I added fish eye darts to the back (total of 2 inches removed at narrowest part of back) and front (one inch total). Yes, I removed 4 inches from the waist to provide a semi-fitted silhouette as opposed to a straight one.
I like it much better, but the second problem is not fixable. I really think the print overwhelms my frame. No matter, I will wear this running errands.
The pants are Vogue 1550. No changes from the black pair I made some months back. IN fact, I started these the week of my dad’s funeral back in April and they were the first things I completed when I started sewing again.
The fabric is a cross-dyed linen from Marcy Tilton that I bought last year. The threads are black and hot pink, which combine to give a purplish appearance. It’s quite lovely. This linen is more wiry than the black, so it’s not as appropriate for this pattern in terms of drape, but it’s manageable. It was a bit shifty though, and the grain is slightly off.
Grumbling about photo quality, yet I’ll not do anything about it…
It’s hot and humid in Florida in the summer. But I’m headed to NYC for a few days, where the canyons can be just as miserable. What do I need? – a simple, pack-able dress. I bought the fabric with a long maxi in mind (before the trip was planned), but decided the pattern wasn’t right. I asked the fasters on the RTW fast FB page about a few options, but in the end, decided against a maxi. Enter Very Easy Vogue 8645 (c 2010).
This is a loose-fitting pullover dress, and without the sash and shoulder ties, strongly resembles some of the dresses on the Zulilly ads I see on my FB feed. The dress is comfy (has pockets), and I expect to make another, but with some modifications. I was too lazy to try to do selfies, so the pictures don’t really show how cute the dress is. The v-neck is relatively modest, compared to some v-necks from Vogue. The ties hold the fabric tighter against the skin, so the likelihood of a wardrobe malfunction is reduced.
The fabric: a sold out viscose challis from Marcy Tilton. I love the colors in it, but I’ve never worked with this type of fabric. It’s very soft, and very drapey. I will consider buying another viscose challis (especially for this pattern) now that I have a better feel for the fabric. I decided that a maxi in this floral could over whelm me, so I went with the shorter version of the dress.
I lined it with a cotton/poly batiste I bought from Susan Khalje. It’s softer and drapier than cotton batiste, but in the end, I still think it’s a bit too heavy and crisp for the viscose. I will go with a silk CDC or forgo lining it next time. If I skip the lining, I will use narrow facings for the neck and armholes.
By the way, the pattern recommends some crisper fabrics – batiste and handkerchief linen – but you’ll get a far different look.
Changes I made: I didn’t make many changes. Of the three that I did, two I will keep, the other go back to the original plan. I like that I did a narrow machine hem for both the lining and the dress – it’s a cleaner finish in the viscose. Second, I did not top-stitch the neck and armholes – I didn’t think it would work with the viscose. I decided to hand apply the lining to the dress, because I don’t always get a good result in the approach recommended in the directions (sew at arm holes and neck, pull through shoulders, then finish shoulders). I used the couture method from Susan Khalje which I have used successfully before. I don’t like the result as much this time (and doesn’t seem to be worth the effort, given the shoulders are hidden by the tie on straps).
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.
Sometimes I have a grand vision of an outfit and how I will look once I’m finished putting it together. Then reality hits. I’ve wanted to make the Pucci pant and top (Vogue 1394) for some time, delayed only by looking for the perfect fabric. I made it last week, but my conclusions on seeing it on me: it does nothing for my figure (which peri-menopause keeps changing).
But it’s not a complete loss, for I did enjoy making it and learned a few new lessons. You would have thought that making a muslin would be enough, but not in this case. I didn’t get the real sense of it until I finished. This outfit works for those who are slender and tall, which I used to be. My waistline/weight has been a problem in recent months (despite diet and exercise) and this top didn’t help.
The top/over blouse: nothing complicated here. However, despite the slightly curved line drawing, the side seams are perfectly straight and there is no shaping in the top. Add in that I needed to grade out from a 14 (old sizing, it would be a 12 today) to at least a size larger to accommodate the hips, and you’ve got a triangle shape.
The fabric is a linen/cotton blend remnant I picked up from Emma One Sock. Though Linda doesn’t identify the Italian designer, Marcy Tilton had the exact same design, but on a cotton, from Ratti. It’s a loose weave, and frays, but quite lovely otherwise and easy to work with.
The directions are quite good, though a bit different in terms of order from current instructions. This plays out in the facing, and constructing the “shoulder” seam. There is no shoulder seam, rather the back piece (cut in one) comes over and is stitched to the front to form the square neckline. I took my time with it to ensure a professional and perfect match. It’s the first time I’ve been able to do this type of join cleanly.
Four things done differently: I under stitched the facings, by hand (not requested). Since I could not get a perfect blind-hem with this fabric, I top-stitched the lower hem. I also used french seams for the side seams. And, despite repeated attempts, I could not get my machine to produce a decent button hole. Every time I’d do step 3 (go in reverse to stitch the right hand side of the button hole), the machine seamed to protest going in reverse and stitch a big knot. Since the button holes would show on this fabric, I sewed snaps instead. After the first wearing, I’ve decided to sew buttons for a decorative element, but also to keep the facings from pulling away as I move.
The “slim pants”: I needed to grade up a size, so I did. I traced off the pattern, cut, spread, and added the equivalent of a size, using some books I had about maintaining the proportion. The first muslin revealed a crotch smile and a side seams curving at the waist line pointing to the belly button. Oh, and they were still too tight. I was sad that night, as I began to get realistic about my changing body.
The next day, I made the fitting adjustments suggested by Pants for Real People. I added a quarter inch to the sides, straightened out the center front (from notch up), and added a smidgen to the inner leg seams, tapering to the notches. Felt good to go, so I cut them out.
These pants aren’t difficult, of course: faced waistline and hems, side lapped zip. The novelty here is the tab (and I managed a decent button hole). In no time I had the pants sewn together, all but facings, tab and zip. I pulled them on and they looked and felt fantastic (side zip not in, but opening pinned shut).
I completed the pant and … the waist is still a smidge tight, and I have too much fabric everywhere else, especially between my protruding belly and the crotch line. They aren’t comfortable to wear for long periods of time. I’m trying to decide if I can make adjustments on the final pant, but not sure where to start.
The black cotton sateen is medium weight with a bit of stretch. I purchased it from Gorgeous Fabrics in 2016. I have one yard left – a skirt or shorts?
If I can figure out the fit and/or slenderize me, the pants do have potential. However, next time I will consider facing the hems and waist with a lighter weight fabric to reduce bulk. I would also consider a different way to apply the zipper, facing and tab. I prefer my zipper tops to be sandwiched between the fabric and the facing, but here, the zipper is applied after the facing is completed. Because of the bulk, I finished the lapped zipper by hand using a pick stitch. It didn’t look great top stitched on, especially since I could not keep the line nice and straight (again, bulk). The only other thing I did differently was under stitch the waist band seam.
I live in a warm, often sticky, climate. Clingy clothes aren’t very comfortable. When I decided to make something for date night, I wanted a flowing, wide-legged, linen pant. The blouses are currently UFOs, but I went ahead and made the trousers. I didn’t start until after date night, and wore them to work yesterday (temps 85 degrees, a bit muggy). Oh, my, I was in heaven – loose, casual and dressy at the same time. They made me feel as if I could fly. I will be making them again.
The pattern is Paco Peralta’s view D of Vogue 1550. It’s tough to see the pants, hidden under that very long tunic, but I had a good feeling about the pants. I made a muslin, and confirmed the following. I needed a size 14, with 1/2 inch side seams and inseams above the notches. I also wanted them for heeled/platform sandals, so I added 2 inches at the leg lengthen shorten line. I fit is almost perfect. At the last minute, I decided the crotch seam should also be 1/2 inch – I don’t need this, the pants are slightly too big. I may go back and fix this. As I have plenty of fabric to re-cut a waistband if need be.
About the fabric: a very fine weave black linen from Gorgeous Fabrics, purchased in 2015. I had purchased some to make a color block dress, and loved it so much I ordered another 6 yards. It’s perfect! The black and white batiste for the contrast binding is the same that I used for my niece’s doll dresses.
The pattern: super easy – no big issues.
I will make these again. I also plan to make the culottes and tunic version as well, but not just yet.
Bathroom selfies. I can’t find my selfie stick. On top of that, I can no longer connect my iPhone 5 (new one please) to my PC, so I cropped and uploaded directly from the mobile. And, thought I did a rear view, but didn’t. Trust me, these pants are beautiful, but not meant for the camera. They are a great basic that expands my wardrobe.
And, gratuitous shots of the orange blossoms. The tree isn’t yet in full blossom, but in another day or so, the scent will be intoxicating.
I really wanted to make a soft, feminine blouse to wear with linen trousers on a date with my husband this week. I usually default to tailored tops, or tees, so something more romantic was in order. Of course, romantic also can also be an appeal to the idealized, heroic, or adventurous. And, I had some idealized or imaginary ideas about my skill level – sewing soft silks was/is an adventure.
My first attempt was the Oscar de la Renta off the shoulder ruffled blouse (Vogue 2712, published 2002), in Milly silk chiffon. The chiffon is very light-weight. I had no trouble stitching the french seams on the body of the blouse or the lining. I practiced the baby hem – which I’ve done many, many times on silk CDC, cotton and linen – several times on scraps of the chiffon. No success – too heavy, stiff, wonky. I did gets loads of advice from the Goodbye Valentino RTW FB group, but I decided to set it aside to work on a simpler project and get more practice. (The best advice, I think, was the fusible thread in the bobbin, but I haven’t tried it yet).
So I jumped straight in to Vogue 1245, view B, from Alice and Olivia (published 2011). Should be easy right? Four pieces… I calculated two nights. And I decided on a lightweight teal silk georgette. The first thing? The shoulder/top of the sleeve is cut on the bias, with french seams. I jumped in got those French seams done, and moved to the second, the baby hem on the sleeves.
Slow down. First mistake – not stabilizing that shoulder seam first. It grew by 2 inches while making the french seams. I didn’t notice until I went to do the baby hem – which I probably should have let hang first. And then, I decided to use the instructions for the baby hem – which are different from how I learned… and wow, that didn’t work. Should have used Schaeffer’s method. A mess.
So, while the pattern is theoretically easy, it can’t be rushed. And I really did only have two nights to make it. I have enough fabric to recut the sleeves, so I will do it later. In fact, neither is a complete failure, since no fabric was completely ruined. I can finish them, when I’m not rushing. But I need more practice before I attempt either of these again.
Spring is here. How do I know? The itchy scratchy throat and eyes. Yes, the pollen. Enough of that…
The azaleas are BLOOMING!
Friday afternoon, I decided that I wanted something bright and cheerful to wear on Monday (today). I hunted down the hot pink floral fabric that I purchased from Emma One Sock in 2015, that was always destined to be this vintage pencil skirt. I just finally got around to making it and wore it to work today. When I started working with the fabric, I realized the color matched the azaleas in my yard, and the flowers were very similar.
The pattern… I remember buying this pattern in 1991! I even bought the fabric for the skirt, body suit, and jacket. Talk about UFOs… I never made the jacket or the bodysuit, and I’m not sure what became of the fabric. I did make the skirt in a rust wool with a royal blue rayon lining.
Here’s the funny part. In my relative newness to sewing in 1991, I started the skirt. The directions are for an underlining… not a lined skirt. I didn’t know the difference then, but was really disappointed that, after constructing the seams, I had raw edges to deal with – not RTW at all! I remember thinking – “the instructions are wrong”. I was disappointed and set it aside. Life flew by and I found it and the pattern after a move a couple of years ago. I could no longer fit in that version, but I have made the skirt twice since, well three times now. I also know the difference between underlining and lining, and generally prefer the underlining now.
I still have the other two skirts – one is a straight size 12 in a black wool broadcloth, underlined in black silk CDC. It’s a little short, and is too small now, but I really love it! The other is a vintage floral bouquet, size 14, lined in cream silk CDC, blogged here.
This one was quick and easy. I knew I didn’t want it lower than the knee in this fabric, but the designed version was too short. Because this skirt is tapered to the knee (or thigh), I lengthened the skirt at the lengthen/shorten lines by two inches. It’s just above the knee. I also graded it out at a size 14.
The fabric is a slotted weave in cotton from Emma One Sock. It has a fair amount of body, and a quilted feel to it. BUT, you can see through the slots. So, I underlined the entire skirt (as per the instructions) with white cotton batiste. I considered a matching pink. I had some leftover from a previous project, but not quite enough and didn’t want to be bothered with dye.
In terms of construction – I serged my raw edges instead of using Hong Kong finishes (which I had done in my previous versions.) I added a bar tack above the back slit, inside, to help prevent mishaps. And, I inserted the invisible zipper. On this skirt, and the 8 gore skirt though, my zippers aren’t invisible. I don’t know what I’m doing different, but the top hardware is not hidden. Suggestions anyone? I don’t think I’m doing anything different, but I must be.
My son took the picture this morning. He’s six! And it was grey and raining, so none in front of the azaleas. The blouse is Kate Spade, purchased last fall. It would be an easy make – and is trimmed with rick-rack.
Let’s finish the year with something easy and festive. I cut this top out before Christmas, but I’ve been so busy (like everyone) that I spent only 5-10 minutes a day on it. I’m not fond of the skirt (I have wide hips), but the top looked simple (and I thought it would be done to wear Christmas day).
Vogue 1567 is a close-fitting top with dolman sleeves (wow – haven’t seen them in a while). With only two pattern pieces, the emphasis is on the fabric and construction. I chose a poly stretch velvet in green (Sage Shimmer Velvet) from Marcy Tilton. It’s sold out of course. It’s knit, with no rolling and easy to sew.
The pattern itself is fairly simple and the instructions are fine. I made several construction choices to make it my own.
Instead of double stitched hems, I stitched the seams on my straight stitch machine (pulling lightly as I stitched). I finished all seams on the serger. I’m not confident in sewing a straight line with a 5/8ths seam on the serger – though I am with the 3/8ths – has to do with the cutting knife position on the one I bought.
In the directions, the back facing, sleeves and hem are all turned under 1/4 inch and then top-stitched with two rows of stitching. I didn’t turn under any of these edges; rather, I finished the edges with the serger for a less bulky finish with the velvet. I only top stitched the back v to give it more stability and reduce stretching. I wanted a softer hem on the sleeves and waist, sew I hand-sewed these hems.
I will likely take in the neckline a bit (1/2 inch each side), the neck is very wide, and I don’t think I did it quite right (see below). I will also add lingerie straps.
I added my customary 1.5 inches in the torso for being long waisted.
So, I have never quite gotten the technique right for the fold-over facing on these type tops. Something is always out of whack for me. I followed the instructions carefully, and lined up my notches, but the shoulder seams seem slightly off (see the picture). Hard to describe, but the front facing is turned tot he outside, along the fold line, over back, basted, then stitched. Then you turn the front facing to inside along the fold line, and press lightly. Anyway, they are always a bit wonky.
This was my inspiration top: a Vince Camuto velvet boxy top in green I found on Nordstrom. I like mine better!
I’m pleased with the top. I’ll post a picture of me in it with the skirt I’m making to go with it. I might make another one, but the sewing agenda for the new year is quite ambitious. Right off the top: a coat for DH, two dresses for my niece, two skirts, another top, and two dresses….
What a journey with this dress! I bought the pattern in 2011 when it came out. I found the fabric in 2012. The envelop back said edge-to-edge lining, china silk, 60″. I searched forever for a matching blue silk habotai in a wide width. Finally, I took the pattern out and studied it: not edge-to-edge, but facings, and 45″ would do fine. Started enthusiastically. Started sewing the lining and remembered: I absolutely hate working with and wearing silk habotai. Ordered silk CDC, cut it out, and… stopped. I needed to make Halloween costumes. It stared me in the face for months into three years, and finally, I got back to it last week (enthusiastically, too).
I was ambivalent last night when I tried it on, but wore it to work anyway. It’s the first thing I’ve made (that could be worn to work) that ever received open compliments, from the cleaning woman to colleagues to students. They loved it. By the time I had gotten to work, I felt good in it, and decided that my ambivalence had to do with two things: I know there are many small errors and that I’m not used to being so covered up (warm climate). So, as the day wore on, I felt more at ease with the look, though it really is pretty fancy for work, and maybe is best for an evening of culture.
As for the look: some have described it as sci-fi, or lab coat. That’s what I was expecting, an ultra-modern look. But it felt more like the 1950s. My husband said it looked nice, and had a 1950s vibe (before I even asked). He also said it reminded him of June Cleaver. I was not annoyed – it’s exactly what I thought too! So, I donned my grandmother’s pearls and headed off to work.
I’ve blogged this before here,here,here, and here. But now the details, plus pictures (including me):
The pattern: Vogue 1239, Vogue American Designer CHADO ralph rucci. Close-fitting, lined to edge dress has shoulder darts, side front pockets, inside ties, hook and eye closure.
The fabric: The pattern calls for a crisp fabric (poplin, taffeta, shantung), which is necessary to get the look pictured. I chose a silk poplin (Isaac Mizrahi) in deep blue from Mood Fabrics. I lined it with a very dark navy silk crepe de chine from Gorgeous Fabrics.
The directions: were mostly good. I didn’t have any issues except with steps 49 and 59. In 49, you are directed to cut one upper front band lining section along line indicated in pattern tissue. I apparently cut both when I cut the lining. I basted to see what would happen, and it was perfect. So, I’m pretty sure you are supposed to cut both (and the pattern tissue seems to indicate this too).
Step 59 was a real problem. This was finishing those beautiful sleeves. Well, I got mine done, but they aren’t as lovely as the photograph. For the life of me I couldn’t figure out what the directions wanted me to do there. So, I pressed under my edges, basted them wrong sides together, very carefully fell-stitched (or slip) them together by hand, then did my edge stitching.
Other things I did: I made a size 12, adding one inch to lengthen the torso. I made a muslin, so this is what I concluded I needed. I think now another half inch in length would have been optimal. I made no other adjustments on sizing. After wearing it all day, I think I would decrease the circumference of the sleeve openings a bit. They are on the long size, and make my skinny wrist even skinnier looking.
My initial tests with thread suggested a longer stitch for the edge stitching. After several tests, I decided I got the cleanest look with edge, but no top stitching, silk thread and a length of 2.5.
The dress has no interfacing, and since I was not top stitching (which helps give the dress its structure), I interfaced all the facings with silk organza. In addition, to help keep the neckline from stretching, I basted organza selvedges along the neckline.
I reinforced my corners using the couture method from Claire Schaeffer’s book.
Finally, the dress may channel June Cleaver, but it’s a risky dress. With only ties, the belt and one hook and eye to hold it in place… well. Before I left for work, I added a snap at the bust line. I also moved the eye over toward the side by nearly an inch. The hook and eye is a little high and wanted to come undone, so I found myself tying the belt a little above my natural waistline. I will move it down slightly, and add a second hook and eye.
Though it took me over night to warm to the dress, I like it. I would consider making it again, if I found a more casual fabric that suited the lines of the dress. Oh, and I LOVE the pockets on this dress!
I’m not so great with photographs. I use an iPhone to get selfies. On top of that, my vision is such that I can’t see what’s on the screen without the reading glasses. My contacts only correct for long vision. Sigh, I need bifocals. Pictures of the odyssey:
I have some things I want to finish, and a few new, more complex projects on the way. But first, a quick comfortable, yet stylish top. Vogue 9187 is a re-release of a 1960 close-fitting top. I think I have a version of the original pattern from my grandmother (it has buttons up the back).
I first did the muslin on this sometime last year, with handkerchief linen in mind. This top is too close-fitting for linen. I had some of the rayon/spandex double knit left over from making my niece a dress, so I thought I would adapt the pattern for a stable knit.
I made view D, in a size 12. There is very little ease here (great for a knit). I eliminated the back zipper (placing the seam line on the fold). I lengthened the torso 2 inches; this one barely came to my belly button, so that was necessary. It’s still a bit short, but since it’s designed to be worn untucked, it’s okay. For a bit more wearing ease, I sewed 3/8 inch side seams. This led to some gaping under the arms. To fix this, I tapered to 5/8th seams under the arm, starting about two inches down.
If I had given it any thought, I would have changed how to do the facings for the neck and arm holes. With no back zipper, you can’t simply pull through, as instructed. So, I stitched the neckline, under-stitched, and pressed. Then I use the techniques from inserting a lining from Susan Khalje’s Couture Dress class to hand sew the facings in for the arm holes. Took longer, worked just fine.
I love this top. I will probably try the true vintage one I have first though before doing this pattern soon (I have a duppioni in mind and the buttons down the back would be pretty).
And, yes, I know, I have to get some pictures of these things with me in them. Just haven’t wanted to photograph myself lately.