Tag Archives: sewing

McCalls 3830 and Cation Designs Dolman Tee

Hello there! I’ve been sewing rather slowly. My old Brother sewing machine decided that it likes to eat knits, even when I’m using the walking foot. I now have a Pfaff (with the IDT!) that my husband kindly got me for my birthday. It handles ITY knits like a champ! I’m excited about it.

I started both of these items about 25 lbs. ago, and it shows–they’re both rather too big for me know. I know I’ll still wear them on the weekend, though, as long as I can without them falling off.

I’ve made the Cation Designs Dolman Tee before. I love it for work because it comes off as elegant and it also has sleeves, which are necessary in a chilly office environment. This one is made of an ITY I got while shopping with my mother-in-law at the Fabric Warehouse in Rahway, NJ. It is a size XL; next time I sew it, I will use a L or M.

Cation Designs Dolman Tee and McCalls 3830 Skirt
Awkward timed selfie.

The McCalls 3830 skirt is made of a rayon/linen blend. I think I got that at Joann’s, as I couldn’t find plain linen in dark colors online at the time I was shopping for it, for some reason. I like the hand of the fabric. The skirt is the shortest view with no back vent and I believe I used a size 18 or 20. I should use a 16 next time, I think, and also take a little off the side seam curve, as my hips are not as curvy as the pattern is. I am closer to success with this pattern!

Cation Designs Dolman Tee and McCalls 3830 Skirt 2
This one is much better and shows the drape of the knit.

I love the idea of #sewmystashseptember. My stash has gotten uncomfortably large from all these shopping trips while traveling and little gifts to myself when I am feeling blah and uninspired. Now it is time for me to make these lengths of cloth into clothes I love.

I am interested in going at it from a capsule + purpose perspective: travel capsule (quick-drying, anti-wrinkling, stretch, chic for tourist photographs); casual Fridays/weekends capsule (structured, but not TOO structured, colorful), and work capsule (basic, dark colors, opaque, full coverage). I wonder how I can fit my stash in there.

My grandmother used to buy me complete outfits whenever we did back to school or vacation shopping. I remember getting coordinated shorts and tops sets with matching socks and a coordinating cardigan (and maybe matching hair bows and barrettes too) when we prepared for our first vacation together to Seattle. So much pink! I would like to approach my sewing this way too: for every top, there must be a bottom, and every bottom must have a top. That doesn’t mean a 1:1 ratio, as many tops can match a bottom. However, the styles and shapes must go together. That’s something for me to think about as I approach the stash.

How do you approach building a wardrobe and managing your resources?

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Sew My Stash September; Hurricane Worries

I decided to join in on #sewmystashseptember, an initiative started by Jo of Stuff Jo Has Made. I have rather a lot of fabric–about eight standard cubes’ worth of fabric–and I put myself on a fabric-buying ban after I came back from my last visit to my in-laws, where I bought a lot of fabric. I have a few things on my agenda. To finish:

  • See & Sew apron started in August
  • Deer & Doe Plantain in white jersey, a refashion from a terrible New Look dress I made
  • Simplicity Sew Simple A1636 rayon challis dress started a couple of weeks ago; here is a version I made previously:

sew simple 1636

On my list of things to make:

  • McCalls 6654 flared skirt for my friend from stash ponte
  • Halloween costume (this is ambitious, but I bought the materials earlier this year)–generic Sailor Scout (Simplicity 2072) (I am inspired by my friends who are in Krewe du Moon)
  • A skirt out of one of the many suitings and twills I bought when I first learned to sew and thought I would make a bevy of work skirts
  • A top to go with that skirt of out of one of the many knits I have bought on my adventures to Fabric Warehouse in Rahway, NJ

I’ve been thinking about how my grandmother used to shop for me when I was a kid and teenager. She would buy my clothes in outfits–an equal number of bottoms and tops, and they had to go together in style. As an adult, thrifting and sales guided my shopping habits, so none of my clothes matched. I need to work on this. I’m now in the mid-level part of my career and I just can’t look disheveled at work. I want to be taken seriously and I know image is a part of that.

I mentioned before I have been working on losing weight. I’ve dropped about two clothing sizes so far–it’s hard to tell due to variation in clothing sizes–and I will drop one to two more before I hit the weight that counts as technically not overweight for my height. This has been a nightmare in terms of getting dressed every day for work. I feel so flappy and Golden-Girls-ish in my big clothes. I have been buying stopgap clothes because there is no way I can sew fast enough to keep up with my needs. To circle back to what I was talking about earlier, I am trying to buy classic, base-uniform basics that are the sort of shapes that can carry me through a few pounds loss. I can jazz these up with accessories or toppers later. So far, I have for work:

  • A black faux-wrap cotton dress, knit
  • A black pleated sleeveless dress, stretch woven
  • A black and white polka dot wrap dress with circle skirt, knit
  • A navy blue pencil skirt, woven and lined
  • A black pencil skirt, stretch woven
  • Black cropped pants, stretch woven
  • The same tops and cardigans as I was wearing before (so flappy!)

I continue to wear my too-big clothes for casual wear, since I really don’t go out. I think that I don’t fit either of the suits I have (one brown tweed and one black, both skirt suits), but I’d rather wait to make that investment until I am at a stable weight. Suits are so expensive!

Topic Change…

I’m really concerned that Irma will take a turn and come to Charleston. Tonight, my husband and I will make a plan for us and the cats. I feel so bad for those who suffered from Hurricane Harvey. I am scared for those in the Caribbean and in Florida who are enduring Irma. The hurricane looks monstrous on the map.

I experienced the Katrina aftermath in New Orleans and I understand how horrible it can be. My family evacuated ahead of time with very little, thinking we would be going home in a few days, but we didn’t. We lost everything. Those in Houston will be dealing with the emotional and physical fallout from this for YEARS. I also feel bad for the New Orleanians who evacuated to Houston for Katrina, settled there, and then had to weather the storm in place there. I know old high school classmates who went through some harrowing days there, with their kids with them this time, twelve years later. How terrible. Please consider donating to help those in need. Charity Navigator is a good place to start with choosing where to donate. A hot meal or fresh, clean clothes to wear really makes a difference in helping to make people feel normal again. I know I was (and am) thankful to the places of worship, charities, and communities in Little Rock, Arkansas that helped me and my family to get right after the storm.

It is raining hard as I finish this post.

 

Not a Lot of Sewing Round These Parts Lately

But I’ve been thinking about sewing a lot. It is comforting during this time of unrest in the US. I like to mentally plan all of the stages of a project, from matching fabric to a pattern to how the project fits together.

I haven’t actually had the energy to actually sew lately, though. The last few items that I’ve made have been duds; some of them I didn’t even have the energy to complete after realizing that they wouldn’t fit at all (I’m looking at you, Simplicity shorts). All these misfires have been discouraging. Normally, I would forge ahead and try again, but I’ve been rather down, so I’ve been dragging.

As I mentioned before, I’ve been working on losing weight for the past couple of months. This is for health reasons; all of my doctors have noted my weight and told me to lose it over the past four years. Unfortunately, all I’ve done is gain weight over the past four years. After suffering increasing joint pain, I decided to seek assistance, so I’ve been following a plan set by a doctor and have succeeded in losing some weight. I will continue to work on losing weight over the next few months, until I am no longer overweight. I know this has to be a permanent lifestyle change, so I am adjusting my outlook accordingly.

I’ve been changing sizes with every passing month. That also makes sewing a challenge for me right now. Plus, since I have gotten older, my body has become overall shaped differently. I still have a big derriere and thighs, as well as narrow sloping forward shoulders, but I now have a thicker waist too. I have to learn how to adjust for these things so that I feel less awkward in my clothes.

I’ve been wishing that more people would post in their blogs, as I love reading about others’ project details, but it occurred to me that I am not giving what I am getting. I feel badly about this. I want to share; I want to be as productive as others are; however, I am tired and uncertain. I’ve been reading books more as a way to escape.

How have you dealt with a changing body? Does stress make you turn to your handmade hobbies more, or do you deal with it in other ways?

Simplicity 2258, View C: An Easy Skirt

Originally, I’d started out trying to make the shorts pattern (View E) included in Simplicity 2258. However, when it came to the basting and trying on stage, I realized there was not enough room in the seat to actually cover my whole bottom. There was, however, a lot of room around my upper thighs. 😦

So, I decided to try the shorter skirt pattern (View C) included in the packet, with a wedge added at the top back to accommodate the length I need to cover my bottom. I think it’s cute!

Simplicity 2258 in Denim

I particularly like the way the pockets are formed. They are one-piece pockets, where you fold over the fabric to make the pocket bag. Topstitching them keeps things neat. (My topstitching is not particularly neat here.) I like the curvature of the pocket opening as well.

Simplicity 2258 Pocket

I used a chambray from Joann’s, with Gutermann thread. I think I chose the size 20. This pattern uses very little fabric, even in the larger size range–1 5/8 yards of wide fabric. I would say, by that measure, that it is an economical sew.

By the time I was finished making it, I’d lost some weight, so now I need to adjust the elastic so that it stays up. The pattern has a good amount of ease as well.

What have you been making lately?

Sewaholic Cambie Muslin: I Got a Lotta Work to Do!

I’m typing this from my phone, so please forgive any typos. This is my first draft of the Cambie, sewn in the largest size out of the packet. I need help! I welcome feedback. I think I need to schedule a lesson with a local teacher–the type who’s been teaching since the 60s–I need an expert who’s gonna tell it like it is! The look on my face expresses how i feel. Things I can see right off the bat:

  • The bodice is too long on me (waistband is near my belly button) (big poof of fabric in back)
  • Waistband dips in the front (potbelly issue?)
  • Stomach area is snug
  • Skirt feels okay, is a little overlong
  • Sleeves are giant (shoulders are narrow?)
  • Bodice is too loose around the bust (I am wearing a brand new supportive bra bought specifically for this event, so the bra isn’t the issue)
  • High left hip/longer left leg seems to be causing bodice wrinkles on that side
  • Is there anything I am not seeing? What type of adjustments should I make??? (I have FFRP and the Sarah Veblen book about fitting, but I am not sure how to translate those changes to myself.) Here are the photos:

Cambie front

Side
Side
Back, where you can see my high left hip/extra long left leg
Back, where you can see my high left hip/extra long left leg
The other side
The other side

Vogue 1247: An A-Line Skirt in Black Twill

I got all excited about Vogue 1247 after seeing so many versions of the skirt portion online. As soon as I could, I went to Hancock’s when the Vogue sale was on and bought it, along with a length of black twill (total of around $5) and the notions that are needed for the skirt.

Skirt Front:

Vogue skirt
Vogue 1247 skirt front (see how high the waist is? it’s the ridge under my shirt)

I was perplexed by how to position the front yoke for sewing the horizontal seam that connects the pockets, the skirt front, and the front yoke. I realized that I had to flip the pockets up, so they were above the skirt front, after understitching the pockets and then match the yoke front to the rest so that both sides of the pockets lined up and so that the middle seam lined up as well. Because the front yoke and the skirt front have curved side seams, the fabric doesn’t quite lay flat as you sew the seam.

I serged most of the seams in this skirt because I am impatient and I also sew very slowly, in short bursts of activity.

Because my waist and hip measurements are 1″ larger than the measurements listed for the largest size on the envelope (18), I reduced the front darts by 0.5″ each, and I sewed the side seam starting under the point of the dart at 3/8″. I thought about doing a full butt adjustment, since that’s where most of my “hip circumference” lies, but I didn’t for this version.

Skirt Back:

Vogue 1247 skirt
Vogue 1247 skirt back. See how my shirt pulls up in the back. I need more room for the rear (and for, well, everything) in all my clothes.

I lengthened the skirt by 6 inches, going from 15″ in length to 21″. I’m 5’4″. I also plan on wearing this skirt to work and need more coverage. It all still fit on the 1 1/8 yards required by the pattern! Magical!

The cotton twill from Hancock’s is soft and fairly substantial. I bought the same type of twill for my man’s shorts, due to the softness and weight. It shows chalk marks really well and behaves on the machine.

I love the hidden pockets on the front. This will be perfect for going out dancing, when I don’t want to carry a purse.

Edit: I wrote this post three months ago! I saved it as a draft because I didn’t have any photos. Cut to the zaniness that happens after a job change (for my man), a proposal, a move, and a job change (for me). I now live in South Carolina, and let me tell you, there is a big difference between here and New Orleans, Louisiana! I’ve been adjusting to the new environment and haven’t had much time for sewing during this whole move. I did, however, purchase a tiny tripod and a remote to use with my phone, and I tried that setup for the first time yesterday to photograph this skirt. The photos aren’t the best, but they’re my first!

McCall’s 6972: Men’s Shorts with Oodles of Ease

My boyfriend requested a pair of comfortable shorts for lounging around on the weekends.What’s more comfortable than an elastic waist (says the woman who wears 90% elastic-waisted clothes)? I went looking for a suitable shorts pattern for him and only found one elastic-waisted non-swimsuit men’s shorts pattern: McCall’s 6972.

I bought 2 yards of dark blue 100% cotton twill from Hancock Fabrics for the shorts. (He picked out the fabric, actually. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t making him something he would find uncomfortable or ugly.) The fabric is quite soft and has a medium weight. Twill was not one of the recommended fabrics, but he doesn’t like seersucker, broadcloth, linen, or chambray (the recommended fabrics).

I was undecided about what size to cut, but I decided to go with the larger size, since I know he doesn’t like close-fitting clothes. That was a mistake! There’s about 10 inches of ease in the pattern. I didn’t realize how that would swamp him until I basted the sides together and had him step into the shorts. He then laid a pair of his regular, non-elastic shorts on top of the in-progress shorts. The size difference was dramatic. I should have chosen the smallest size, actually.

So, I sewed the side seams at 1″, rather than 5/8″. I couldn’t bring myself to unpick the inseam, so I told him this version will just hang low. I think, for a future version, I might trace off a pair of his regular shorts and add a little extra width for an elastic waist. That might make for a better fit.

The directions are pretty clear to me, although I’ve been sewing for a couple of years now. The pattern is billed as a “learn to sew” pattern, and it includes tips in the directions.

A pattern-maker really needs to come up with a modern cut for elastic-waisted shorts for men. Simplicity has several elastic shorts and pants for women; do a little something for the guys who also don’t want to have a waistband cutting them in half!

I will post pictures when I wrangle the model. 🙂

McCalls 6654: My Favorite Straight Skirt Pattern

I love McCalls 6654. I’ve made it several times: in mustard, grey, black, brown, and now floral fabrics. Here is the floral version.

McCalls 6654 elastic waisted straight knit skirt
My old tried and true!

The elastic waist offers comfort, while the cut of the skirt is conservative, which I like. The instructions are also clear for this pattern, which is fast to sew up, even for a slowpoke like me! Usually, I use the lightning-bolt stretch stitch to sew this kind of skirt, but this time, I used the serger to sew the side seams and to finish the edge of the hem before I turned it up. I used the lightning bolt stitch to sew the waistband and to secure the hem. It has a lot of stretch.

I feel stylish in this skirt…probably because this type of floral was in when I was a preteen. 😀 It looks like something I would have worn in the form of a slip dress (with a cropped t-shirt underneath, of course…even though I asked my mother to let me wear it with bare shoulders).

I definitely recommend this pattern to others!

Working on Stuff; Swing Dancing Outfits?

Hello, readers! I’ve been working on three things for the past few weeks: shorts for my boyfriend, a skirt for me (that only needs the elastic now), and the V1247 skirt. I have days where I don’t do any sewing, or where I do one small thing, which is why it’s all coming along so slowly. However, I have–as of this week–decided to dedicate 30 minutes to sewing every weekday, so I think I will be making more progress. Also, I think I will be happier, having spent 30 minutes daily doing something I enjoy. 🙂

Speaking of activities I enjoy, I have gotten back into swing dancing, now that I can physically do it again. I don’t have many going-out outfits anymore. I did several closet purges after gaining a lot of weight.

What are some good patterns for dresses I can wear for a little lindy hopping? I prefer to wear sleeveless dresses that allow me to move. If you have any vintage or modern pattern suggestions, I would love to hear them!

Simplicity 8523: A Loose Top

Backtracking a bit: I finished the Vogue dress, except for the hem. The fabric around the zipper puckered, as it did on every seam, and the bodice fit loosely in a weird way, while the skirt was snug on my curves. I probably should have done a 16 in the shoulders and 18 in waist and hip.

On to the Simplicity 8523 top! I chose to make view D, the scoop neck with sleeves. I read others’ reviews of this top and I knew that it would be a loose-fitting top, which I wanted. I used fabric that I found at a thrift shop, something light…maybe a rayon challis? I already had the thread and interfacing in the stash.

front top
Whoops, facing on the loose!

I found this top to be easy to put together. This was my second time doing sleeves and I have some gathers that I know shouldn’t be there, but I’m choosing to think of them as slightly puffed sleeves. I might be able to avoid this by sewing them in the flat, rather than in the round, as the pattern instructs. You can see this in the back view here (such an awkward view!).

back view
Back view, always so awkward.

The bust darts point to about an inch and a half above my bust apex, so that is something that I will adjust on the pattern for the next time I make this top.

There's a big difference here!
There’s a big difference here!

I believe I will make this again with the different variations. I wore it out for milkshakes and a stroll with my fella on a hot, humid night, and I found the blouse to me comfortable and breezy–the perfect thing for summer. The copious amounts of ease–I think it’s 6 inches or so–allow for airflow under the shirt.

I can move!!!
I can move!!!
The side vents allow room for hips.
The side vents allow room for hips.

After I work on inserting sleeves better and lowering the bust dart, I feel that this will become my go-to woven tee pattern. What are some basic woven tee or shell top patterns that you like?