Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Simplicity 8094 - A Fall Tunic

I've loved this pattern since it was issued. However, I'm such a dress girl when the weather gets warm that I knew I would never make it as a summer topper. But in a nice ponte or sweater knit for fall, yes, I can do that!

So even though the temps are up and down here lately, I decided to make my first version to wear now. I really want this in a merino wool for later in the winter cause I can always add a sleeveless turtleneck under it for warmth and wear it over my skinny jeans.

Fabric choice for version one ~
It's made from a rayon/lycra knit that I won from Elliott Berman last Thanksgiving with black ponte sleeves from Metro Textiles. When I first pulled the fabric out of the pile, I was worried that I didn't have enough to make the body of the tunic but it worked out.

Supplies ~
Stay tape
Fusible stay tape

Pattern Alterations for Version One ~
I know that this appears loose fitting on the pattern envelope, but the pattern only goes up to a size 20. So I was a little leary about how it would fit me. I added 1/2 inch to each side seam from the underarm down to the hem. I wanted to make sure that it skimmed my bodacious body. 

The biggest change was to the sleeve since the pattern only has short sleeves. I used the long sleeve pattern from my TNT dress pattern and made a pattern sandwich. TNT pattern, Simplicity pattern sliced and spread and tracing pattern on the top then I altered the pattern to insure it fit my biceps.

Those were the only changes made to the pattern pieces for version one.

Construction Info. ~
Honestly, I just glanced at the pattern instructions especially after they suggested that you sew the knit sleeves in the round. I NEVAH sew knit sleeves in the round. I always sew them in flat and that's what I did with this top.

Also, the pattern suggests that you use bias tape to finish the neckline. I mean I understand why they suggest it but my knit is a little thin and I thought this would make the neckline bulky. So I applied some fusible bias stay tape to the neckline, pressed it flat and stitched it down using a twin needle.

The other change that I made to the tunic besides lengthening the sleeve was to add a piece of the body fabric to the sleeve hem to tie the look together. I just eyeballed this but I did make sure that I added a 5/8" seam allowance to the top of the insert. 

Here's a pic of the sleeve with fabric choices ~

I also sewed the side slits lower than the pattern suggests. I didn't want the sides of my abdomen showing and scaring people so I sewed my openings to mid-hip.

A few pictures of the first tunic in action ~

I made that first version as a Sunday Sew. I wore it to work on Monday because the temps were back into the 70s-80s and it was really warm. Though after wearing it with black leggings, I kept thinking that I wanted to make it again without the side splits. I hated that the sides fell open and exposed the sides of my legs. Also the fabric is an ITY ~ thin and clingy ~ not my friend. So while I love the fabric's pattern, I was uncomfortable in how the tunic fit.

Fast forward to picture taking day and it was only in the 40s outside, so I wore a cotton tank top under it which then solved all the clinging issues. I even wore my black skinny jeans and while my side view leaves much to be desired (hahahahaha!) I liked the top much better.

Version Two ~ 

However based on wearing version one, I made a second one closing up the side seams adding godets to them. 

I made the godet pattern piece by pinning the front and back pieces together from the underarm seam down to the notch where the side seams were left open. Then I traced the opening and added 5/8" seam allowances.

To add a little more width to the front and back pattern pieces, I did a pivot and slide on the fabric adding an inch at the waistline to both pieces and two inches to the hemline. 

I also two toned the sleeves of this version using the fashion fabric that I bought from JoMars during my trip in June. The black ponte is from Metro Textiles.  The godets were made in the black ponte to tie everything together. 

Another change was the neckline. When I tried the top on to make sure that everything fit the way I wanted, I realized that I liked the neckline just as it was. So I rambled around in the notions collection and found some black foldover elastic and added it to the neckline so that it wouldn't change.

The last change was the length. This version is considerably shorter than the first one. I just didn't like this fabric in the longer length so I cut 6" off the hemline and hemmed it using a 1" hem.

A few pictures of Version Two ~

Conclusion ~
This is a simple to sew tunic. There are no big surprises and would be easy for anyone from beginner to advanced sewist to construct. What makes mine different are the design details I've added.  Long sleeves vs. short sleeves, color blocking the sleeves and adding solid color godets to the second version. I think these details give it that Chicos Chic look that I've been trying to sew lately.

I like both of these versions ~ the second just a little more than the first ~ however, I'm putting the pattern away and moving on to other patterns. Maybe I will get back to it when the weather gets colder making a merino wool version...maybe. 

The next top up is a heavier weight summer linen that I'm wearing into fall... always more later!

Monday, October 24, 2016

Vogue 8772 - A Bow Tied Blouse

This is a garment that was inspired by the fabric first. Fabric Mart had these pre-cut fabric bundles that they are now offering with a 20% off discount. I bought and sewed mine before the sale, so of course I've bought two more pieces. The fabric I purchased has sold out in the 3 yard bundles but is still available in 2 yard pieces.

When the fabric arrived I knew that my idea for it would be perfect. I wanted a bow-tied, button down, loose fitting shirt/tunic to wear over leggings or skinny jeans. Perfect for the weather now and add a cardigan in the winter which will make it perfect then too.

So I went looking for a pattern for the blouse...cause I knew I had one in my collection. Ummmm yeah right. I searched EVERYWHERE in ALL of the pattern hiding spots and what I was seeing in my head was NOT in my pattern collection! The only thing I had that might work was Vogue 8772 which is a close-fitting, bow tie blouse with darts.

I was hoping to avoid extensive pattern alterations. I looked through the patterns again to see if there was something else that I could use but the vision I had was to strong.  So I resigned myself to using this pattern and making the alterations.

Supplies ~
2.75 yards of rayon/cotton crepe from Fabric Mart
(I originally purchased 3 yards and it shrunk that much in length during the prewash!)
1/2" covered buttons
lightweight fusible interfacing for cuffs

Pattern Alterations ~
1. First I determined that I wanted 10" of ease around my bottom area...remember I wanted loose fitting tunic/blouse. 

2. To achieve that I removed the side curve on both the front and back pieces by adding an inch from the dart down in the front pattern piece and from the underarm down on the back piece.

3. On the front piece, I did a slice and spread in the front gaining 3" at the hip line and almost 4" at the hemline.

4. The back was also cut using a pivot and slide of 1.5" on the actual fabric. That helped me achieve the desired 10" of ease around the bottom of the blouse.

5. I wanted fuller sleeves than the pattern has and I needed to add space to the biceps area. So I just sliced the sleeve pattern up the center and spread ~ adding an inch to the bicep area and 2" at the hemline. The excess fabric in the sleeve was gathered into the cuff ignoring the pleat application the pattern suggests.

Cutting and Construction ~
I have a rule when cutting out a print, all of the pattern pieces must go in the same direction.  All pattern pieces either face up or down ~ not any which way, to insure that the print runs the same direction throughout the garment.

As I was laying the pattern pieces onto the fabric, I realized that I hadn't checked the shoulder seams. So I made some quick changes to the shoulder seams on the pattern to make sure they "fit" my shoulders.

Of course I did a cursory glance at the instructions and missed the part on how the top of the button band was finished. So I had to go back and fix that. If you're making the blouse, make sure you look for that part in the instructions.

As I was cutting the blouse out and thinking about the buttons, I realized I didn't want them to stand out. I wanted them to fade to the back so I decided to use covered buttons for the top. However, making 14 1/2" covered buttons was a little challenging because the pieces are small.

The one thing I will change when making this again would be to shorten the cuffs by a 1/2". They are a tad too long but I can live with them. It's the only thing making this an imperfect sew.

A few pictures of the finished blouse ~

Conclusion ~
The rayon crepe fabric was perfect for this tunic. It has a softness and a drape that really works for a loose fitting tunic. I know that this reads one big print especially since I used covered buttons from the same fabric but it's actually the look I was going for. It's crazy but I wanted it to all blend together! I think I accomplished that. 

Now that the temperatures are dropping my fall sewing list is calling my name and I've got more tops to share with you! always more later!


Saturday, October 22, 2016

Autumn Sewing Miscellany

I've been sewing...I have four tops to photograph and share with you...just haven't gotten there since my photographer has a pretty full life with four little ones, a full time job, house and mate. Next photo shoot is tomorrow so more posts next week.

Fall/Winter Wardrobe Thoughts/Ideas ~
However, as the temps have risen and fallen this week, I've started to think again about what I want to look like in my new world. Also, I'm becoming a YouTube junkie watching many of the vlogs that sewists are making because it's interesting to see their fabric & pattern choices, what styles they think are important going forward, etc.

Though all of this makes me realize that my view of what's stylish and wearable is different than that of a 20, 30 or 40 year old...even some of the more fit and stylish 50 year-olds. My fashion view truly is more JJill, Chicos and Talbots, because of my work situation and my age. I want to be fashionable, comfortable (as in clothing that doesn't fit tightly), and age appropriate. I love the 70s boho chic look, but seriously I did it best in my teenage years!

As I've been exploring more of where I want to take my sewing this fall/winter, I've decided to pass on sewing bottoms and live with RTW. Of course this has meant making some adjustments to the pieces I've purchased. I can live with that for now since these are easy alterations that put jeans into my wardrobe quickly. Sewing wise I've decided to explore the world of tops, blouses, shirts, tunics and toppers/jackets.

Here are a few shirt patterns that I've purchased recently or had in the pattern stash and want to sew this season ~

BTW, I bought a couple of Style Arc Patterns from Amazon because they have several sizes in one pattern and are shipped in 2 days if you're a Prime member. I've always liked the designs from Style Arc patterns just couldn't handle that whole shipping from Australia thing. Love that they've partnered with Amazon to get patterns to the Northern Hemisphere faster!

I will make more of Butterick 5678 since I made a couple of pieces that were winners last fall.  I wore this one to #wineandcheesewithkashi that received a lot of compliments, so I will definitely use this TNT pattern again.

This is going to be my jacket/topper of choice this season ~

I've already thought up some interesting combos which means that I'm retiring my Rachel Comey hacked pattern that I used as a topper last winter. Three versions are enough right?! *LOL*

I have some quilted fabric that I want to use to make another Tamarack Jacket. Have all the supplies on hand - just have to get on that!

There will be a lot more denim in my wardrobe since I've been purchasing some interesting pieces ~

I would like to use some of the suiting fabrics in the collection in different ways that will work in my new lifestyle.  This was a goal last fall/winter and I only used one piece of fabric from the collection for this garment. I have to admit I only wore this topper to go out with friends and never to work. It just always seemed to "fancy" for work.

Finally, I miss pumps. I've added a couple of pairs of cool sneakers to my foot gear cause boy have sneakers changed. Also a few more pairs of shoe booties...but I miss pumps! *sigh*

So more posts are coming and this is an overview of where my sewing is going for fall/winter.

Social Events ~
Even though I've done some sewing and have a few items to share, I've been way more social lately. I've been to lunch or dinner with quite a few sewing bloggers that have journeyed to NYC, sadly I have few pictures of these events. I don't know why I can't remember to take a picture! Maybe because I'm so busy enjoying their company that I don't feel a need to document it for social media.

Though we did have dinner to celebrate my girl Nettie's (Sown Brooklyn) birthday. I love this woman! These are one of those friendships that I came to through sewing that I treasure.  

The women pictured at this table are true friends not internet friends, there for me in times of trouble (thanks for holding my hand during that whole job situation) times of joy, sorrow (some of the first to see me when I got back to NYC from Houston) and for encouragement...even though Aspen has some concerns about my relationship with Jesus...hahahaha!

I need to apologize if you've been in NYC and sent me a note to meet and I was unavailable to do so because most of my meetings/social events are planned weeks in advance. I'm not in NYC every day since my job allows me to work from home some days. Also, honestly I've been burnt by meeting some sewists in person who've posted some hurtful things to internet boards about meeting me. This has made me ALOT more cautious about who I meet. So please know it's me not you! I'm sure that just put me back in the cross hairs again but to me honesty is better than deception so there it is.

It's a dreary day here so I'm in the sewing cave sewing. Hope you're having a wonderful sewing weekend too! always more later!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

#wineandcheesewithkashi 2016

About 30 women gathered at Metro Textiles last Thursday evening for some wine, some cheese and ALOT of fabric shopping! I want to thank everyone who came through and made the evening a success.  

A few photos ~
Some of the women who came out to shop

Peggy who came in to go to CampWorkroomSocial

Andrea (KnitKnac) and Arlette (arlycorr)

Clio Phineas and Rachel from House of Pinheiro

Rachel and I meeting for the first time!

Beth (SunnygalStudio), Rachel,  Claire (domesticcoquinette), Carol (makeitanywear), 
Jinxandgunner, Sonja (GingerMakes), Andrea (KnitKnac)

Kashi was thrilled with the turnout especially since he was closed for two days this week for Yom Kippur. 

One of the reasons I do this every year ~ besides the gathering together and fabric shopping ~ is to make sure that this fabric merchant endures. There have been several businesses in the garment district that have disappeared lately for various reasons. I know that we sewists can't buy more fabric than we can afford or store but these fabric stores do depend on our patronage.

So I may make this a spring and fall event next year.  If so, I hope you'll come out, shop, socialize and help insure that the garment district continues to thrive! always more later!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

What I Forgot...

About a decade ago, I spent an entire day at The Worcester Sew Expo in sewing classes with my sewing hero, Cynthia Guffey. In one of the classes, she challenged me to "enjoy the process." Not to sew like the wind but to revel in the particulars of making a garment.

See, deep down in my heart, I'm a producer. What do I mean by that? I mean there are some sewists who sew using totally couture techniques. Who take their time and make sure that each part of the process is done correctly no matter how much time it takes.  Some sewists are tailors. Taking their time to go through all of the steps necessary to perfectly tailor a garment.  Some sewists like to follow the rules, make a muslin, check for perfect fit and sew a perfect garment.

That's not me. I like to produce. I like the idea of coming up with, designing, and/or copying a garment, spec'ing the fabric whether from a source or the collection and then getting it sewn up so I can wear it. In pre-internet days, it meant I allotted specific time periods for garments ~ 1 hour for an unlined skirt, 2 hours for a lined skirt, 3 hours for a pair of unlined pants, 3-4 hours for a dress...and I never lined a jacket.  It took too long! Unlined worked for me because it could be produced in a short period of time and placed in my closet.

I did slow down some after the Guffey class...and then again after I became involved with sewing boards on the Internet. I realized I could get a better result if I took more time, used better techniques, better fabrics and slowed down. Once that lesson was learned, I made some amazing garments ~ dresses mostly because I'd found my niche ~ but I was happy to take my time to get those results.

Now things have changed again and I no longer need a professional wardrobe and casual is king...I find I'm challenged to slow down again. Spending the last month sewing little girls clothing just played into that old habit ~ cause really how involved is sewing little girls everyday clothing. I was knocking out large amounts of garments in a weekend - 5/6 pieces.

I'm back to sewing for myself and I realize that I do need to take my time even if I am making tees and blouses or toppers. So my "Question of the Day" is ~ Are you a Producer, a Couture Sewist, a Tailor or just a regular Sewist who takes their time? And what makes you so? Is enjoying the process important to you? Or are you just trying to build a wardrobe?

Talk back to me because this is the Question of the Day! always more later!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Update on Simplicity Code

If you've recently tried to use the discount code at Simplicity Patterns and it wasn't working, there was a web update and it's working again. Remember it's in effect until October 31st.  The 20% off discount code is "FANATIC16". If there was anything you wanted from the Simplicity website, you have time to surf on over and pick it up!

Sorry for the inconvenience!

Sunday, October 09, 2016

A Girls Cardigan from

I found this free little girls cardigan somewhere on my internet travels and I decided I'd give it a try. I'm building a wardrobe for the granddaughters and wanted to add several different types of garments to it. Believe it or not, it's hard to find a basic cardigan in the Big 4 pattern catalogs...probably why I went looking for one.

This one works well for late summer/early fall but will need some updating to go into winter because I believe in long sleeves for winter. Also, I chose to make this version from ponte fabric. I wanted something to go over t-shirts and long sleeve t-shirt tops but will be current and a little funky!

One of the goals of sewing for my granddaughters is to give them not only a new wardrobe but to make it a little fashion forward. So I'm making fabric choices for them like I'd make for myself. That's why this cardigan was made with a solid navy ponte and a coordinating navy/white print. It's a little funky and fun and will work with most of the leggings and jeans that I made.

This pattern was easy to use and even though it's a pdf pattern, taping it together was quick. Little people mean little pieces meaning a small amount of paper needed to tape it together. I traced the pattern pieces off in a size 3 for Miss Lena, however, after trying it on her, I'm going up 2 sizes. This one will go to Sammy.

Originally I was going to only use this pattern for Lena because I thought it was a little too much for a 2.5 year old who is still rolling around the floor in temper tantrums. But Sammy tried it on during the fashion shoot and loved it. So this one and the other version I've cut out in chocolate ponte but haven't sewn yet will become Sammy's. I've also figured out how to lengthen the sleeves on the pattern so Lena's ponte versions will have long sleeves.  Now while Sammy loved it, I only photographed it on Lena.

Here are the pics ~

Lena is wearing the cardi with a white t-shirt and blue jeans   
made from a Kwik Sew pattern that's up next on the blog.

If you have a little girl that you sew for, I would recommend downloading the pattern and giving it a try. I really like this pattern and it's versatility! always more later!

Friday, October 07, 2016

Boden Kids Inspired Top

The top was totally inspired by this dress from Boden Kids ~

I'd already made a pair of black 'n white checked leggings. So I pulled some black ponte knit scraps and Vogue 8086 which I've used for Miss Sammy before, to make a top to go with the black 'n white gingham Burda leggings. 

After gathering all of my supplies, I kinda went my own way.  There is stitching down the front because I had to make a front seam due to my use of scraps. The topstitching appeared to highlight the seam. Then I added it to the center back seam to tie it all together. The pockets are the only thing that are similar and there are no sleeves. I went back and forth over adding sleeves and then decided not to. Sammy is wearing a top from Old Navy under the top.

Here are a few pictures of Miss Sammy wearing her top and leggings ~

This ended up being Samantha's favorite outfit.  She even jumped up on the piano bench and asked me to take her picture there. Sammy was the one I worried about the most when taking pictures and you will see that she was the easiest one to shoot. Way easier than her sister!

There are a few more back to school sewing posts. I've condensed them and highlighted the pieces that I'm going to do specific pattern reviews for. So, one more time if kids clothing isn't for you...check back in about two weeks. I will have some pics of me wearing me-made garments then.

Also isn't my Sammy the cutest! always more later!

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

BurdaStyle Little Girl Leggings

I was intrigued by the kids clothing in the August 2016 Burda Style magazine. I really wanted to make those jean leggings (Burda 8/16 #138) for my granddaughters. Seriously, I really had to want to make them because I put up with trying to find those very small pattern pieces on that pattern sheet! Truly I have gained a new respect for those of you who sew from those Burda pattern sheets. It's a jigsaw puzzle to find the pattern pieces you need and I HATE jigsaw puzzles!

photo credit: doctortdesigns

After rising above that hurdle, next came the scanty instructions. Now I know this has been discussed time and again but I'm grateful I have a little sewing knowledge. Since I NEVAH found instructions on how to make the waistband. I read those instructions a couple of times and nuthin! Seriously, nuthin! So I added 2" to the top of the front and back pattern pieces for a foldover waistline casing.
The girls wearing the trial/first pairs of the leggings

Pattern Alterations ~
Next I didn't add seam allowances. I couldn't decide if I needed them or not. After an initial fitting on Miss Lena and Miss Sammy, I learned several things:

1. This pattern is great as is for leggings but NOT jeans for Miss Lena.
2. However, it works as both for Miss Sammy who is a couple inches shorter than Lena.
3. I needed to make a bunch of adjustments for Lena once the elastic was added.
4. The pattern was lengthened another 2" at the top because the leggings hit under her belly button and she asked for them to be raised to cover it.

The length was an easy adjustment. Although I will need to add a little width for jeans - even if they are skinny jeans. Lena wouldn't be able to get them on without a little more width. So I added a 1/2" on the outer seam, making new patterns for the leggings. 

Construction Tidbits ~
To add the elastic to the leggings, I used the technique where I stitch the elastic to the waistband - stretching it to fit.  Then I folded it over and stitched it flat on top of the original stitching line. My first efforts were a little sloppy but make 10 pairs of leggings (5 for each girl) and you start to get very efficient with this technique.

For my first pair I constructed them totally on the serger but these are small pieces, especially for Sammy's, and I found I had more control if I stitched them first on the sewing machine. I used a 3/8" seam to stitch them. Then I serged the seam over the stitching line. Again repetition makes you more accurate and faster. Construction ended up being only an hour for the majority of the leggings after I figured out a construction order, and pre-cut the leggings and elastic.

Fabric Choices ~
I chose fabrics from the collection for the leggings - pontes (both solid and printed), a cotton knit and a ITY lycra. Since they are more legs than body, both pairs of leggings were able to be cut from 1 yard of fabric.

Here are a few pics of the girls wearing some of the leggings ~

These were made from a ponte fabric from Fabric Mart
The top is from Old Navy

Lena's black leggings are ponte from Metro Textiles
I made the tops both girls are wearing and they will be in upcoming posts.

The denim like ponte for both pairs of leggings is from Metro Textiles
Both Sammy and Lena are wearing Old Navy tops in these pics.

As I stated above I ended up making 5 pairs of leggings for each girl. Part of it was that once I started pulling fabrics, I couldn't believe how much of the collection would work for them. So I went for it because a lot of the clothing you see for little kids in RTW, doesn't necessarily use little kid's fabric anymore.

Speaking of that, I spent quality time on the following RTW sites to determine the types of outfits I wanted to make for the girls: Old Navy, Gap and Boden Kids. I was even inspired by some of the styles there and incorporated those looks into what I made for the girls. Of course there are quite a few patterns for leggings in the Big 4 children's pattern catalog so if you don't have access to Burda magazines, you can make your own from them. 

This is the first of the Back-to-School posts, there are a few more to come. I'm doing them as pattern reviews since I used several patterns to achieve the girl's wardrobe. However, if little kids clothing is not your thing, come back in a week or two when I will be showcasing my own me-made garments! always more later!


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