Monday, March 28, 2011

Vogue 8323

I cut out this top while dreaming of winter sewing.  Since I hadn't finished fitting and cutting my dress, I decided to stitch it up, even though it has been in the 90s here this week.
I'm so glad I did! It's perfect with my Vogue 8603 skirt and I'm loving the wide belt trend. Totally makes me feel like my waist is back!
Mitch declared this outfit "a keeper". I agree, but it does make me wonder what he thinks of some of my other clothes...
Still pretty cute without the belt.  The pattern is Vogue 8323, which I made in black a year and a half ago. I wear it all the time, so I knew that pattern was a winner. The wrap front is particularly friendly for the nursing mom. It accommodates the changing sizes though the day and allows for easy nursing access. The fabric is very interesting.
Here is a closeup that I altered a little so you can see the detail. It is a pointelle knit, but made in a double layer which is bonded together at the lace points. I have many pieces of pointelle in my stash as I love how it looks, but I frequently find it too sheer to wear without a second layer. The double layer of fabric here makes for a more opaque, but still soft and comfortable knit. I love it and I'm so glad I have more!
The tee is princess seamed (love that) so even in a firmer knit like this one, the shape is lovely. I also love the almost peplum effect that you get from the hip flare. Yep, gonna make this one again.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

New Look 6793

While I trace and fit my Easter dress, I got to take a little detour for a sweet little girlie dress!
One of my buddies from sewing group is having her first girl, and after 3 boys, she's really excited! I wanted to make the little princess something uber-girlie. The pattern is New Look 6793, which I've used a couple of times for Myra. The bloomers are from a random Butterick pattern.  I've used the fabric before, too, in  my first ever project from Ottobre, the ruffle bum shorts. The dress is cute and goes together quickly. This is the first time I've used the bottom band, and I really like it! I wonder if Myra can still squeeze into the biggest size...
I used the polka dot fabric for the facings. I love the two sided ties! I also added a little ribbon tag in back. Mitch always had a hard time telling the front from the back, so this should make dressing easier. I also tucked a little ribbon tab into the back of the bloomers. I always do with elastic waist pants and shorts. It's so often difficult to tell which side is which.
I hope she likes it!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Simplicity 2996, fitting

I always find it helpful to see the process that others go through to get to the perfect fit, so I thought I'd share a bit of my process. Of course, the disclaimer need be said - this is the way I do it, not the only or even the best way, so I'd love any input about your personal fit journey and what works for you.
I am a big fan of FFRP, and I HATE making muslins, so I do most of my fitting on the pattern tissue.  I'm also an inveterate tracer, so all of my patterns are traced onto soil separator fabric before I start.  The great thing about that is that I can just baste together my main pattern pieces and go from there.  The above image is the front of my dress, without sleeves, collar, pocket, cuffs and facings. This pattern is cup sized, so I didn't have to do an FBA. I cut a size 10 with the D cup front and blended out to a 12 at the waist  and down to the hem. As you can see, the fit is pretty good!
The back. Perfect! I pinned it to my dressform for you to see, but I actually fit it on myself and use a full length mirror, with a hand mirror to check out the back. While fitting it on myself, I pin the pattern to my bra strap at center back to keep it in place. Since I'm essentially trying on my dress, I can check things like hem length and such at this point as well.
For some reason I tend to have too much length at CF, so that little tuck you see is a typical alteration for me.  I'll take that little wedge out of the pattern piece and straighten out the CF lines if needed. Poof, no neckline gaposis!
I think I'm ready to cut fabric!

ETA: Karin asked about the soil separator fabric that I use for tracing. I meant to talk a little about it because I LOVE IT! It is a plumbing product that is used in septic systems. In the states, you can get it at some hardware stores, although my local shops don't carry it, so I order it online. The kind I am using right now is made by Hancor. I order it from, where it is called "geotextile fabric". I love this stuff for many reasons - it is sheer enough to easily see your pattern through, but sturdy enough to go through multiple uses. It drapes and can be sewn like fabric. And at 25 dollars for a 100 yard roll, it is about the cheapest tracing medium you can find. I have also used it as stabilizer for embroidery/applique and it works as a lightweight sew in interfacing. Brilliant!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Ottobre 06/2010-10 - the "Eleonor" dress

After some therapeutic snap pounding, Myra's dress is done.
I brought it out of the garage and Myra insisted on wearing it immediately.  I think it's pretty darn adorable on her.  It's perfect to coordinate with the boys.
The pattern is Ottobre 06/2010-10.  They call it the Eleonor dress.  Otto made their version with the bib in a solid and the body of the dress in a print.  I reversed it to better mesh with the boys' outfits. I made a size 98, which is just a touch too big, but I'd rather she have room to grow then have it be too small for Easter.
I cut the bib on the bias, which looks cute, but was very tricky to sew.  The pintucks came out straight only with the help of a large quantity of starch. The snaps made the front placket ripple just a tiny bit. The interfacing is on grain and that helped stabilize that area. I did get the attachment for pearl snaps for my snap setter, and it is great! No more cracked snaps!
Another detail shot. These are my first pintucks and I'm pretty darn proud of them! You can see in this picture that the inside neckline is finished with a strip of bias rather than enclosed in the collar or faced.  It's a very neat finish and looks RTW, IMHO. The only thing I disliked about the pattern was the finish for the sleeve slit.  Otto called for a narrow hem, but I did a continuous lap instead. I was already cutting a strip of bias for the neckline, so I just cut two and used the extra for the sleeve.  Much nicer! I'm also happy with my collar! I always forget to trim my undercollar piece and the seam tends to roll to the right side. Well, this time I made a separate pattern piece for the undercollar. It worked beautifully and all the seams roll to the inside.  I'm very happy with how this dress turned out. Next I'll be working on mine, but first I have a surprise to make.  I'll reveal all once it has been gifted!

Friday, March 18, 2011

A pair of pants

Actually two pair...
Both my boys have Easter pants!  I've used these patterns before for them, so I won't gab on about them.  Logan's are from the basic pant from the 01/2009 issue of Ottobre.  There are three different designs that use this base pattern, so you really could mix and match all the pockets, tabs and patches to get a unique look every time.  I went with very simple cargo pockets this time.  The shirt is the star of this ensemble.  For Duncan's pants, I used the Simplicity 3765 pattern that I use for all my baby pants, with cargo pockets placed like Logan's.
Here is a closeup of the wee pair, lightened so you can see the pockets.
I'm so excited to have all of my boy Easter sewing done!  Next up will be Myra's dress, then I think I'll do mine.  I'm in need of some selfish sewing!  After that I should be ready to tackle a real man shirt for Mitch.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Ottobre 03/2008-8 - the "Peasant" shirt

I'm not sure why Otto calls this one the "Peasant" shirt.  I think it's pretty classy!
Cute, eh?  I hope it still fits him at Easter!  It's a little big right now, so I think I got the size right.  I guess we'll see how fast he grows.
The pattern is #8 from the 03/2008 issue of Ottobre.  It isn't an exact match for Logan's shirt, and I thought about altering it to make them identical, but I decided that would be a little too matchy-matchy.  I'd rather they just coordinated.  There are a few things that I wish I had transferred though.  This shirt was much simplified, which made it easy to sew, but I think it lacks a bit.  There is no back yoke or button bands and the hem is straight rather than a more traditional shirt tail hem.
The details I did like were the cuff plackets and the bias cut pockets with flaps.  I kinda wish I had cut the flaps on the bias, but they are still cute on grain.  The cuff plackets were done a little differently in the pattern, and I have to say, I wasn't a fan.  The pattern called for the underlap to just be narrow hemmed.
As you can see, I bound it in a more traditional way.  In fact, I just used the directions from Logan's shirt.  Overall, I am happy with the shirt, since it was quite easy, but if I make it again, I think I'll draft a yoke and front bands.  I just prefer the look that way.
I got a lot of comments about the snap setter I used on the last shirt, so I thought I'd tell you about it.
Here it is!  Crazy simple - just 3 pieces of plastic.  For such a useful tool, I thought it was really inexpensive.  At SewBaby, where I got mine, they are only 9 dollars, and adapters for other sizes are 3.50.
Here is how it works.  You start by putting the prong side of the snap into a depression on the base of the tool.  Put your fabric in place on the snap.  I found it helped to push the prongs into the fabric a little, especially if there were multiple layers. Then you place the second piece of the tool which holds your fabric in place and aligns the snap to the base.  You drop the appropriate snap into the hole, then put on the cover, and hammer the snap together.  The cover has a circle that shows you where to hit.  The instructions that came with the snap setter were great.  The only thing that I found was that with my little girlie hammer (and girlie arms) I had to hit between 6-8 times to get the snap to really hold together.  The instructions only say 2.
I do have a few words of caution.
The first is to be sure that you protect the surface that you are pounding your snaps on.  This is my hubby's workbench, so I didn't bother, and you can see the little circles created by the press.  Just putting a magazine or the yellow pages underneath is sufficient.
Second, if you are using pearl snaps, be sure to get the correct adapter.  For the first shirt, it wasn't a problem, but after a while, I started cracking snaps.  I'll be ordering the adapter before I put the snaps on Myra's dress.
Overall, I think this is an awesome too, and I know I'll be using it a ton!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Ottobre 06/2010-28 - the "Abbey Lane" shirt

The first (of seven!!) piece of my Easter sewing is ready!
This is Logan's man shirt.  The pattern is Ottobre 06/2010-28, which Ottobre calls the Abbey Lane shirt.  It is a basic menswear styled shirt, but without the full collar, giving it a mandarin style neckline. It was designed for a checked fabric, so all of the accent pieces, pockets, band, cuffs and yoke, are cut on the bias.  I love that this style included real sleeve plackets as opposed to a continuous lap style cuff.  The fabric is a yarn dyed gingham from
I LOVE a real menswear placket on a wee man shirt!  It just makes me happy.  Ottobre's instructions for putting in the placket are excellent.  I'm looking forward to seeing how the Kwik Sew instructions compare when I sew Mitch's shirt.  You may also notice that I used pearl snaps as the closure rather than buttons.  I had several motives for this.  The first was that this is our last few months in Texas, and I wanted my boys to have cowboy shirts!  Don't be too surprised if a more western style shirt with a front yoke appears soon...  I also recently got a new snap press from Sew Baby, and wanted to try it out.  It was great!  I usually end up taking out half of the snaps I put in.  They get misaligned or bent.  The only snap I had to pull out this time was  the one I installed backwards.  I love snaps on kids clothes, so I'm really excited to have a snap installing tool that really works!
The only other change I made from the pattern was to line the yoke.  I much prefer this finish, and I think it gives the shoulders of the shirt a firmer, more tailored look.  Next up will be Duncan's shirt.  I'm starting to feel pretty comfortable in the realm of man style shirts.  All the details that I used to think were fussy and difficult are starting to be fun.  I particularly love flipping the yoke and having all the seams just disappear inside.  It's like magic!

Monday, March 7, 2011

New Look 6816 & Butterick 5330 PJs

I know I'm supposed to be Easter sewing, and I have started, but my PJs were in such a sad state that I took a quick break to sew up a new set.
The top was New Look 6816, which is a pattern I've used many times.  I used a very light single jersey from FFC.  The pants are Butterick 5330, which isn't a PJ pattern.  I wanted a slightly slimmer leg, and PJ pants are always too voluminous.  The fabric for the pants is a rib knit that I think also came from FFC.
I didn't want to spend a whole lot of time on these, but I still wanted them to be nice.  I constructed both pieces on the serger.
Instead of a neckband, I used FOE on the neckline.
I lettuce edged all the hems, which turned out really cute and was a huge time saver.  I thought this was a good opportunity to practice this technique.  I used the serger, set for a narrow rolled hem, with the differential feed on 0.7 and stretched the fabric as I sewed.  You could also do it with a narrow zigzag, but I never felt I got as good a result that way.  My serger does it beautifully and quickly.
All told, it took about 20 minutes to cut these out, then just under an hour to sew up.  So, I don't feel to guilty about setting aside the Easter gear. I have gotten started!
Here are both boys' shirts and the contrast bib and collar for Myra's dress.  All those little pieces!  I was surprised at how little waste I had, considering how much was cut on the bias.  Now that they are all cut out, it's time to get sewing!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Simplicity 2709

Another pink princess dress done!
I know, it's a little OTT, but she loves it.
The pattern is Simplicity 2709, view E, which features a ruffled skirt, puffed, elasticated sleeves and a square neckline.  I made Myra a size 2, since she's sort of between sizes right now.  The only alteration I made was to narrow the SA on the neckline to tighten it up a little, as she has somewhat narrow shoulders.  The shell fabric is a cotton jacquard from FFC and the lining is acetate from FabricMart.  The princess applique is by Dritz and was purchased at Joann.
In back, I used an invisible zipper.
And fully lined the dress.  These two changes made it necessary to completely change the order of construction from the directions.  I started by assembling the lining.  I used the bodice pieces and the underskirt piece to construct the lining, but left it open at CB.  Then I assembled the bodice (without sleeves), upper tier and underskirt, still leaving CB open for my zipper insertion.  I then inserted the zip, added the second tier, which is topstitched to the under skirt, and inserted the lining.
I had to get a little creative with the ruffles and how I attached them at the zipper.  Since the zipper passes completely through the upper ruffle, I enclosed the edges of that ruffle in the zipper seam.  The zip ends halfway through the middle ruffle, so I seamed the lower half of the ruffle and narrow hemmed the upper edges to go around the zipper.
Here are the three ruffles.  As you can see, the top and bottom ruffles are seamed in, but the middle ruffle is topstitched on.  The pattern instructions called for a double fold hem at the top of the middle ruffle, but I serged it.
After the lining was inserted, I constructed and set in the sleeves, which I finished with the serger since the sleeves aren't sheer, then finished by attaching the bottom ruffle as the last step.
It worked out well and Myra loves her dress.  It was perfect for an ice cream date with Daddy.
I think this was the most I've changed up a pattern.  I really just ended up ignoring the instructions completely and doing it my own way.  This is definitely the most complex garment that I've constructed without instructions.  It made me realize how far I've come.  Ready for Marfy?  Maybe not, but I am definitely gaining confidence!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Another sling, boy style

My sewing group suggested that we sew baby slings as our current project, which I thought was a great idea!  I love my slings, and they are a super simple project.  Tuesday we got started...
and finished!!  In our two hour class period all six of us made a sling, start to finish!  That includes the time it took me to explain the process, although these ladies were sharp. They didn't need much help from me.
Since most of my slings were made with Myra in mind, they run on the girlie side, and I wanted something a little more gender neutral for my wee man.  Mitch suggested camo, but I have to wear it too and camo does not mesh well with my wardrobe.  I went with chocolate brown, bound in forest green.  It's a nod to camo.
If you'd like more info on slingmaking, I wrote about it here.  Both Duncan and I are very happy with this one!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Monthly Roundup - February 2011

Wow, was this an unproductive month for me!  To be fair, I didn't have a sewing space for 2 weeks of it, but still!!

I completed only 4 projects, and one of them was only alterations and two were UFOs that just had to be completed, so I really only finished one item in its entirety.  Yikes!

What I managed:
1) New Look 6895 skirt for me
2) Alterations to a bridesmaid dress
3) Simplicity 5695 dress for Myra
4) Simplicity 2658 bolero for Danye

I did get to exercise some creativity and drafting skills for both bridal pieces.  The bridesmaid dress was an interesting challenge, particularly in figuring out how to cover the back.  The bolero was fun, and I made enough alterations that I had to draft the upper collar and facings from scratch, as well as the lining pattern.  I've drafted my own linings enough now that I am feeling really comfortable with the process.  I really think a lined garment is so much nicer, so I'm glad I've learned to do it well.

Upcoming will be an entire family of Easter clothes, but first I have to finish a dress I've promised Myra.
The pattern is Simplicity 2709, and I'm shamelessly copying the cute pink version in the pattern picture.  I'm using a hot pink cotton jacquard that I got from FFC, and lining with hot pink acetate from FabricMart.  As you can see, I added a Disney princess appliqué to the bodice. I think it's a wee tacky, but Myra will LOVE it. Although the pattern calls for a pseudo lining of the bodice only, I'm fully lining it and using an invisible zipper, so I'm rearranging the order of construction completely.  Fun times!  It's about half done, so hopefully I'll be able to show it to you in a few days.

I'm also working on Ring Slings with my sewing group.  I'm pretty excited to be teaching them about this, since I've gotten so much out of making and using my slings.  I'm planning to make mine out of brown poly/rayon "Linen Look", with olive green bindings and gold rings.

I have already mentioned my Easter plans for the kids, but I got ambitious and decided I'd try to dress the whole family!  For Mitch, I want to try my hand at a dress shirt again.  He has a very hard time finding RTW shirts that really fit, so this isn't going to be a quick project, but I think it'll be worth it.  We're going to start with Kwik Sew 2777,
and some poly/rayon "Linen Look" in a slightly lighter blue than the kids (in the background of the picture).  I picked up enough fabric to also make myself Simplicity 2996.  I'm planning to make view A, in the upper left corner.  I know, in blue like the model - I'm really not very creative this month!

All of that is pretty ambitious, even for me!  It's a good thing that Easter is late this year!  I do still have my next SISC project lined up - Simplicity 2614 in a green and cream lawn.  I haven't even traced it yet - in fact the fabric and pattern are in the garage right now.  It'll just have to wait until after I get the Easter sewing done.