Retro & Floral with Vogue 2778; Wearability of the Donna Karan Shirt (Vogue 1440)

IMG_1194Every once in a while, I see a fabric I have to have, and snatch it up. Wait, that’s all the time.  But sometimes, I see something and know exactly what I want to make and even make it up fairly soon after it arrives.  This is true of this floral pique cotton I recently purchased from Marcy Tilton.  When it arrived, I almost changed my mind – it would make a great bath robe too! But I saw a pencil skirt, and it leaped into the front of the project queue.

IMG_0684I’ve made Vogue 2778 before – it’s a 1991 Ann Klein pencil skirt.  I didn’t blog the first time(s) I made it (I made one in the 90s too), but liked the overall fit and feel of this skirt, so I reached for it again.  From my previous experience, I knew I wanted to lengthen it, so I added three inches.  I considered going for midi-length, but didn’t.

IMG_1226There isn’t much to say about construction – it’s a pretty basic skirt.  I switched to the invisible zipper, which I feel I have mastered.  I cut a size 12, but sewed half inch seams to give a bit more ease (I’m not quite a 12, especially in the waist, but definitely not a 14).  The fabric has a fair amount of stretch and is fairly substantial, so I probably didn’t need the ease.  Still, the pattern called for underlining (and this needed underlining, because I wasn’t confident about the recovery on the fabric – didn’t want saggy butt after a wearing or two). I didn’t have anything on hand with stretch, but I did have an amazing, easy to sew silk CDC from Gorgeous fabrics (more ivory than white).IMG_1234

If I make the skirt again, I’m going to change how the facings are done.  Here, it’s about a two inch facing, but needs to be slightly longer to hold the high waist comfortably in place.  It’s also underlined, not interfaced.  I didn’t do that though – I was concerned about bulk, so I used the CDC interfaced with the pro weft medium interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply.  No bulk, but the waist crumpled a bit after a full day at the office (and four of my nine hours today was standing).

IMG_1229I paired it with the Donna Karan top I finished last week – Vogue 1440.  Not the best choice, but I was running out the door this morning and the other tops needed pressing.

As for wearability, Vogue 1440 is SOOO comfortable.  It was 88 degrees

Whoops, the shirt might suffer a wardrobe malfunction if you don't stand still!
Whoops, the shirt might suffer a wardrobe malfunction if you don’t stand still!

today and I was super comfy all day, indoors and outdoors. It doesn’t really look great tucked in with the high waist skirt, though.  And, it has a slight modesty issue with the button placement – at least if you are like me, doing presentations all day and don’t want to worry about flashing folks.  I’m a small b cup, and the top button hits right at the bra band.  I’m going to need to adjust this on the next version and add a modesty snap to this version.

Early morning photos, with no help on pictures with the phone – well, my little boy tried to help as you can see in the last one.

Hey, my photographer is only 3.5!
Hey, my photographer is only 3.5!

Test Driving the New Donna Karan Shirt (Vogue 1440)

The pattern and the future fabric.
The pattern and the future fabric.

I bought this pattern for the jacket.  While I was sourcing supplies for the jacket, I read the directions… for the shirt.  I liked what I saw – this was an interesting top, with interesting lines, and some sewing techniques that I wanted to perfect.  Eventually I’d like to make the shirt with the rust linen/silk from Urban Zen fabric in the picture, that I obtained from Emma One Sock in 2012.  In the meantime, I thought I would test drive it in a white shirting (with a little lycra), also from Emma One Sock just languishing in my stash.

I haven’t completed a button down, collared shirt in years.  I want it to look perfect, from the collar points, to the topstitching, to the button holes.  Well, this one isn’t perfect, but I’m pretty proud of the result.  All I can say is that with this pattern, precision/accuracy really, really matter, so measure well and baste, baste, baste!

Close up of the back left shoulder.  I love these details.
Close up of the back left shoulder. I love these details.

I took the pictures on the dress form after laundering and re-pressing.  I had to launder because I made the mistake of using yellow chalk for marking.  Even though I preshrank this fabric, many of the wrinkles you see could not be eliminated.  I will wear this in a day or two, and hope to post a picture of it on me.

So, onto the review:

Pattern Description: From Vogue’s website:  Top has collar, collar, back and armhole bands, yoke back, mock front band, bias hem facing and conceal button closing. A and B: semi-fitted.

Sizing: 6-8-10-12-14 (Really – five sizes on one pattern?  This makes cutting a challenge, when it’s difficult to distinguish between the sizes on the curves;  accuracy is critical on this pattern). Because this is not really semi-fitted – loads of ease below the bust – I made a 10, instead of a 12.  Recently I’ve been thinking of making 10’s for the bodice to better fit the back and shoulders.  This worked – the fit was much better, and the armholes didn’t gap.  I did not add the usual 1.5  inches in length, because this has no defined waist.

Fabric Used: White stretch shirting purchased as a roll-end from Emma One Sock two years ago

Machines and Tools Used: Janome Threadbanger 12, edge-stitching foot, 1/4 inch foot and all the other minor tools in your arsenal.

Using the edge stitching foot to understitch.
Using the edge stitching foot to understitch.

Tips Used during Construction: The Vogue Sewing book.

Did it look like the photo or drawing when you got through? Yes

How were the instructions? I followed them to the letter.  Not what I normally do, but this helped me be more careful.  The instructions were pretty good.


Construction Notes: Precision, precision, precision.  And baste, baste, baste.  I used a small stitch (1.5) and went very slow.

I had trouble lining up the side seams, but when I folded the pattern to put it away, I notice I cut the front hems at a 12, and the back a 10 (darn multisize patterns).

The french seams in this top are the narrowest I’ve ever made (first sew a 1/2 inch seam wrong sides together, trim and continue, whereas I’ve always done a 3/8 inch wrong sides together, trim and continue).  I hope they hold up – the narrow stitch should add some strength.

I also had trouble getting everything to line up perfectly on the shoulder seams – I don’t know why, but I pulled out one shoulder five times.  It’s still not perfect, but it’s far less noticeable.

Couldn't quite iron that curved seam perfectly... next time...
Couldn’t quite iron that curved seam under perfectly… next time…

Last, the bands add to the distinctiveness of this shirt.  For each, you fold and press the seam allowance, then pin to the bodice, baste and edge-stitch onto the shirt.  There must be an easier way to get accuracy, but this was time consuming to get perfect (plus a few steamed fingers).  I think I should have thread-traced the seam lines to make this easier to fold over.  BTW, I found the edge stitching easier to do consistently with the edge-stitching foot (also worked well for understitching as in the photo).

Dozens of button holes in practice and I still get puckering!  HELP!
Dozens of button holes in practice and I still get puckering! HELP!

One last thing.  I’m a novice with the button holes.  My machine is pretty basic, with the 4 step button hole process. This requires careful marking.  But even though I practiced a dozen or so time, I got pulling every time as in the photo.  The only thing I can think of is that the plackets are not interfaced, as per the instructions.  I’d recommend some light interfacing here- unless someone has a better idea?

Likes/Dislikes: I really like it and I love that the top is fully finished on the interior.

Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? Yes and yes. But, make sure you focus on accuracy!

Oh my wrinkled back!
Oh my wrinkled back!

Another McCall’s 6844


When I first saw the pattern release for McCalls 6844, I had in mind making something for work.  The first version I made, for Thanksgiving, is fine, but not exactly what I was thinking.  Still, I’m glad I made it first.  While I like it, it’s too warm for most days (hey, I’m in Florida).  In addition, while the peplum is okay, I don’t think it’s as flattering on me as I thought it would be.  This meant the next version would be Version A.

Please excuse the suitcase wrinkles!
Please excuse the suitcase wrinkles!

When I saw this chevron metellasse at EmmaOneSock, I snatched it up.  When I received it, I loved it (still do), and seriously considered using it for something else.  It’s an interesting fabric.  I’ve never seen, much less used metellasse before.  It’s very stable, with good stretch, but almost feels and wears like a woven.  It feels like three layers – it’s definitely two.  The top layer feels like a thin burnout jersey, a middle layer of soft, fluffy, threads/fill, and then a black tricot backing.  I pulled it apart and tried to photograph it (but not well!).

???????????????????????????????In any case, while the peplum version was a bit snug, this knit fit differently.   I cut the medium (I’m a 12 in Vogue), but it hung on me, especially in the back, sides and shoulders.  Looking more closely, I saw that the shoulders were definitely too wide for me.  I had already sewn the sleeves in flat, and rather than take out the stitching, I sewed a new seam 1/8″ inch (slightly more) in from the old.  This narrowed the shoulders just enough.  If I hadn’t bee lazy, I would have ripped the sleeve out and trimmed the shoulder seams and back armcyse seam 1/4 inch.  When I sewed the side/sleeve seam, I took the side seam in 1/2 inch (one inch total each seam).

???????????????????????????????These adjustments made the jacket far less boxy on me, though my MIL thought I should add darts  for shaping in the back.  If I make this again (and I may/may not), I will make a narrow back adjustment.

Other than sewing in the sleeves flat, I didn’t make any changes.  I wish I had taken the time to hand sew the hem.  It would have looked better.  I can’t seem to avoid the wavy hem when I machine stitch on knits.

The collar not lay flat all the way to the bottom (nor on the peplum), but looking at the line drawings, they aren’t supposed to.  I ended up lightly pressing the shawl collar so it’s styled a bit differently.

All in all I like it and it is a great wardrobe builder. I’ve worn it with jeans and a t-shirt, as well as with a black skirt and top.  A bit conservative, but not too much.

Lola met (St.) John: New Year’s dress


Recently, several sewists I follow have made variations on the Lola sweatshirt dress from Victory Patterns.  Both Lauren and Teri’s recent posts inspired me to purchase the pdf pattern.  I had a fabric in mind for Lola – a winter white wool/rayon doubleknit from St. John’s knits, that I purchased from Marcy Tilton (sold out).

About the fabric:  I really LOVE this knit.  It’s beautiful, soft, warm and a joy to sew!  I don’t really enjoy sewing knits, but this was an exception.  I want MORE!  I’m not sure what to make with it – and I’m not 100% confident it was right for Lola.  I purchased it to make a different dress, but changed my mind once it arrived.  This fabric was super easy to work with, very stable, a bit spongy.  Other than not knowing what I would make with more, I’m not sure when I could wear it, unless it was something sleeveless.  Last night I got lucky – it was cold (to me), but today it is warm again (70).  Recommendations anyone, in case I find some more?

About the dress:  So, Lola is a casual sweatshirt dress with feminine styling.

I really liked what Lauren did with her versions – so I borrowed her ideas. I lengthened the sleeves, left off the pockets, and left off the hem and sleeve bands.  I intended to shape it more as she did, but didn’t – more on that in a minute.

And I liked the edge-stitching Teri did on her version, so I copied it.  I intended to do the edge-stitching in a contrasting coppery silk thread, but changed my mind as my edge stitching is still not perfect (especially over some pretty thick seam layers with the double knit).  I should have graded/differentially trimmed my seams, but it didn’t dawn on me until I was almost finished (I graded all after that point, which was the waist). The seams are a bit bulky. (The edge stitching helps hold the seams flat).

Like others, I would say that this dress is well-drafted, with good written instructions.  I never would have chosen this dress pattern on my own.  I’m still not 100% sure it’s me, but my family thought it was fantastic.  It’s easy to make, and the pattern is well-drafted.  It has loads of match points.

As for fitting… sigh.  I last measured myself about three weeks ago – and I was feeling pretty svelte! I was watching the snacking and walking briskly 30 minutes a day for several months, and had reduced myself.  Those measurements were out-of-date.  Shortly after taking them, I got sick with a terrible cold (still trying to shake it) and I eat when I have a cold (chocolate anyone) and was too exhausted to walk across a room, let alone around the neighborhood.

Anyway, those measurements put me in a size 6 for the Lola pattern, when I think I should have cut an 8.  I had planned to pinch out for a more shapely dress like Lauren, but not snug.  This version isn’t tight, but it is more snug than I would like for work (though still comfy).  I would have shaped the lower back a bit more, but had no room to do so.  The photos reveal fitting issues (not withstanding my poses) – please help with comments!

Two more fitting notes:  I usually have to add length in the torso with Vogue patterns. Not here.  Second – I couldn’t get the shoulders to fit right – I had a gap (see the photo).  I tightened up the seams where the sleeves met the bodice. That got rid of some of it, but not all.

Left shoulder at neck, before pinning out excess.
Right shoulder, excess pinned. Note the beauty of the fabric!

Other construction notes:  Since I didn’t do the hem band, I added five inches to the length (long legs), and sewed a 2.5 inch seam with a double needle (narrow, and it worked!).  I made the sleeves longer by adding 11 inches to the existing sleeve – just extending the lines out.  I did a one inch hem with the double needle there as well.  I couldn’t get the neck band to lay flat.  I think I should have shortened the neck band some (remember, I tightened up the neck).  Last, since my Lola was a bit more on the dressy side, I left off the triangle trim at the neckline.

So what happened to the Patou?  When I tried it on three weeks ago, it was too tight in the rib cage.  I was going to need to take the dress completely apart.  I wasn’t going to be able to start until after Christmas, and the thought was too stressful.  It would have been appropriate for the restaurant last night, but not the super-casual party we went to after dinner.

And, sorry about the lighting. I’m going to have to get a camera, not an iPhone camera.

And the backside.  I just noticed how ripply my hem is.  I'll have to seem if I can press that out. Suggestion to prevent that?
And the backside. I just noticed how ripply my hem is. I’ll have to seem if I can press that out. Suggestion to prevent that?

Thanks for reading, and please feel free to comment!

Sewing Goals 2015 (Resolutions?)

I’m seeing so many fun retrospectives…  but since I only started blogging this year, I thought I’d write about what I want to accomplish in the New Year.

  1. Sew down my stash!  Seriously, My closet is overflowing with about 200 yards of fabric. That’s way too much.
  2. Sew down my unfinished list.  Right now there are ten items, not including the Rucci.  Top of the must finish list:  pants for my husband, the raincoat, and the Patou dress.
  3. Finish every project with the same energy and enthusiasm with which I start.  Often times, I am so eager to move on to the next thing, that I’m not careful and end up making errors that compromise the finished quality.
  4. Make more garments that fit my lifestyle and my new climate.  That means linen, cotton, silk and short sleeves.  I need clothes for work, and clothes for play. I also need professional garments that have an edge to them (not frumpy, not boring).  I’m in front of an audience of young adults all the time, and impressions do matter (if I want to get them to listen to me).
  5. Mix more modern and vintage looks.
  6. Get over my fear of pants and shirts (button front).
  7. Work more on my Achilles heal – fitting.  I don’t have a fitting partner anymore, so I purchased a Craftsy class on dress forms.  Hopefully that will help.

I’m sure there are more things I can do.  I’m hoping to get more feedback from others out there over time, as well, but I do learn from their blogs.

Time just flies… upcoming projects

Wow!  I can’t believe it’s been 11 days and I’ve made no progress on the Rucci dress.  Work has been crazy, and I expect it to continue for a couple weeks.  The weather is so lovely, that when I have a moment, I want to go outside.  And my dear little boy gave up naps, so that time is also gone (for work or personal time).  Anyway, hoping to get back on track soon.

So, I’m publicly committing my next few projects:

  1. Finish the little guy’s halloween costume (McCalls 4951, the bat).
  2. Finish the Rucci dress.
  3. Finish the grey rain coat (we’re in the dry season, but it will get cool soon).  Progress shot here.
  4. A pair of pants.  I’ve lost half the weight I gained in the move, and neither my “new” nor my “old” pants fit.  I’ve got some beautiful wool from Gorgeous Fabrics, and I think I will start with Very Easy Vogue 8717.  I made the jacket last year in a turquoise silk tweed, and I love it. I made the high waist pencil skirt from the Ann Klein II pattern here in the wool to go with the jacket, and it gets rave reviews when I wear it. When I finish the pants, I’ll post pictures of the jacket with the skirt and the pants.
  5. Another skirt for my niece.  She loved the pink flounce denim, but it was just too big.  So she will hold on to it for later (reviewers at PatternReview suggested it ran big).  Her mom suggested switching to an elastic waist, so I’m looking at some knits.  Would love suggestions.

After that, who knows. Probably another skirt, maybe finish the white linen blouse and make some tops.  Or tackle a suit.  Or even a winter coat.

Lesson learned from a major move…

Whew, I’m almost unpacked – even have the sewing room all ready to go. I’m loving my new sub-tropical climate, and it has be thinking about my closet. In my old house, my clothes were scattered across multiple rooms and closets. It was an old home, with small closets. Now, all my clothes are in a single walk-in closet (that I do not share) and I really can see what I have.

What have I learned? I have a lot of clothes, including many I’ve made. But my wardrobe is full of things, pieces, not a coherent wardrobe that speaks to who I am. I need to pare down, re-develop a style, and acquire/make items that work better together.

I learned that I have several suits, but few blouses to go with them. Lots of cute skirts, of varying fits, mostly me-made. Not many good dresses (in terms of fit, style, casual, work or cocktail). And pants! I love a good pair of pants, but I only had one pair (of five) that really work for me anymore.

So, it’s time to clean out (yeah, shoulda done it before the move). And it’s time to reconsider how I want to use my stash, what I should be sewing next. (And then there’s all those unfinished items). I need a coordinated wardrobe.

Anyway, I’m still exhausted from the move. I have blog posts on gardening (old and new homes) and one on a cocktail party we had before we left in the works…