Friday, July 6, 2018

Butterick 5454, a knit wrap dress and upcoming classes

It's a wrap! I find it difficult to write a post about sewing a wrap dress without using that phrase. So getting that cliche out of the way early, I can say that this pattern is a winner and wonder why I had it in my stash for so long without ever trying it. Because this pattern is adorable! and quite easy to sew.

knit wrap dressB5454 front

Of course it helps to use an interesting fabric. I had doubts about it when it arrived, too weird? too wild? strange color combo? I get emails from FabricMartFabrics but I had never ordered, I just signed up for the mail list because I like to see what's out there, however I have so many good options at my local fabric store (Stone Mountain in Berkeley) or online with Mood Fabrics that I had never ordered from Fabric Mart. But one email mentioned Hawaiian designer fabrics at a big discount and I had to see that. They were from my favorite resort wear company (ToriRichard) so I ordered 3 different fabrics. One I have already sewn up, which was McCalls 6069.

My only regret is that I didn't really make it in my size!!! I decided to sew up a knit wrap dress because we wanted to put a dress on a form in the window at Hello Stitch Studio in Berkeley where I teach the garment sewing classes. I have SO many dresses, I don't need any more, so I just cut and sewed the size 12 with no adjustments. So while it looks like it fits ok, it is definitely on the small side. Due the the magic of knits I can make it work for a photo but in real life I would add some at the side seams. The pattern has some interesting release darts in the skirt front and back, and at the front shoulder in place of bust darts so if those small darts don't lie flat but are pulling a bit it takes away from the design.
knit wrap dress

Butterick 5454 pattern envelope SaveSave

Here's the pattern envelope. I like to take a look and see the copyright date on these patterns that I've had for a few years, this one is dated 2010. So 8 years old but the dress looks completely current to me. I even like the little ruffle sleeves and might steal that look for a t-shirt.

B5454 knit dress sleeve


So a friend of mine will probably get this one when the season changes and we put something else in the window at Hello Stitch. The red dress is a woven cotton, and I sewed up McCalls 7745 which is cute on the pattern envelope, and has raglan sleeves. However it is a weird shape - not comfortable in the shoulders, kind of all wrong for me. So don't choose that one for the class! But there are plenty of other nice wrap dresses. I just also made the Sew Over It: Eve wrap dress, and that turned out very well, here's a look and I will do a blog post soon on this dress.

What classes are coming up next at Hello Stitch? I'm glad you asked :) It's already been a full year that I have been teaching there, and I have met so many interesting people. It's really fun to see people meet in classes and become friends there. Part of the fun of a sewing class is getting the opportunity to meet other people who share your interest in sewing but you might otherwise never encounter. You get to spend a day doing something you love, with help to conquer techniques that might have frustrated you in the past. I really like to show shortcuts or tips that result in sewing success and make it easier to achieve the result you want.  Here's whats coming up in the next two months.

Pants Clinic: Diagnose your Fit Issues   Sat. July 14, 10-4. We'll take measurements, choose a starting size, pin-fit the paper pattern, stitch up a muslin and adjust the pattern.

Pattern Fitting: Adjust the Bust   Sun. July 15.  This class is 2 sections, with 10am-1pm section spent learning all about how to measure, choose starting pattern size, doing the various bust adjustments, FBA, SBA, darted or princess garments, doing hands-on pattern adjustments using paper templates to practice, learn, take notes on and take home as reference. Then 2-4pm section is the optional fit lab (limited to 4 students) where I will help you adjust your specific pattern. You can sign up for just the classroom part only or take both. This will be my fourth session of this class and I have been gratified by the response - pattern adjustment can be so tedious but hands-on practice with no pressure of fixing your specific pattern can really help you get familiar with the adjustments.


Sew a Button Front Shirt: an evening class on two Tuesdays, July 17 and 24, from 6-9pm. You can use any pattern and I will demo all kinds of shirt details like how to attach the collar and band (two ways) sleeve plackets, buttonhole placement, and my top tips for shirt success.

pink placket top close up on form

Copy your Favorite Garment: Sun. July 22 10am-3pm. Oh I love to make a pattern from an existing garment. I think doing that is quite eye-opening whether you have been sewing a while or are just beginning. It's interesting to see shapes in ready-to-wear and you can learn a lot about what you like in terms of fit and design. I will demo a few different techniques and different types of garments and then you will have time to work on making your own pattern. I suggest a simple top, skirt or shirt for your first project.

Pattern Hacks: Add new elements to your existing patterns. Sat. July 28 10am-3pm. You may or may not use that term, pattern hacking, but it does describe what we will do in this class. I will show how to change up the patterns that you already have to make a new design, add or change details and take advantage of the patterns you already sew to create a new look. I will show you how to easily copy your original pattern, then how to change necklines, how to add plackets or make a popover top, move darts and change darts to gathers, how to add pockets, how to create color block details and how to combine parts of two patterns into one. I'm really looking forward to this one, as when do I sew a pattern as is - almost never!

color block example

Sew a Wrap Dress: Sat. Aug. 4 from 10am-4pm. Choose any wrap dress pattern and we will review all the common issues with sewing wrap dresses such as how to choose your size, how to adjust the bust and make sure it wraps properly, how to stabilize and do bias binding, and how to hem full skirts. You can use a pattern for a knit or woven.

Sew the Bondi Dress: Sun. Aug. 12, 10am-4pm. You can make this cute dress in a day! We're offering this class again as it looks so good on everyone and is a perfect dress for summer. Plus you can make it again when the weather cools down in a different fabric to wear over a t-shirt for a different look. We have all the sizes sewn up in the studio so you can try on to determine you correct size, then trace your size so you have the pattern to take home with you. If you are interested in changing up the neckline style I can help you with that too. 3 main pattern pieces and includes pockets. Told you it was the perfect summer dress :) Here's the link to my blog post of my own Bondi dress.

Bondi dress 1

So that's the schedule for the next month or so. Whew! I will be busy but I really enjoy teaching and meeting people. There are so many reasons to sew your own clothes, from wanting a custom fit, to choosing the exact color and style, or the satisfaction of the handmade process. I've spent a lot of hours throughout my life with just me and my sewing machine so it is really fun to expand on the social aspect of sewing.

I get a lot of comments here on the blog and on my Instagram that you would like to join a class if only you were in the same city, or even the same hemisphere. I would love to do some teaching in other places so if you want to get in touch and help organize I am open to the possibilities. I am reorganizing my jacket/coat class to be different this fall, more demos and examples along with helping everyone to construct their own garments so that would be great to take on the road. As for travel, NY, sure. UK or beyond - that would be fun. Sewing tools don't take up much space in the suitcase and leave plenty of room for some fabric shopping!

Classes in the fall at Hello Stitch - some of these mentioned above we will offer again, and then I have a hint about one that's not on the schedule yet - CAPES.  So many cute cape patterns out there and a perfect outerwear piece for any level of sewing.

Up next - no idea. I have a LOT of stuff in process, for myself and for a few people that I sew for. I might even finish a couple of Burda things that I've traced from recent magazines - they are so cute and I want to get to them before summer is gone. This weekend is the Bay Area Sewists Meetup where we do the Pattern Swap - a chance to see some good friends and trade patterns. Like I need any more patterns, ha.

Happy Summer Sewing,

today's garden photo, a hydrangea I planted last year, and it is finally putting out these pretty blooms.


Friday, June 22, 2018

Burda 6456 top in silk chiffon

Is it ruffle? A flounce? Whatever you call that detail it worked out really well for this silk chiffon fabric that had a bit of a shaky start. I've been wanting to make something with this type of flounce for quite a while and I had always liked a particular Burda magazine pattern 05-2017-109. But maybe not enough to buy the PDF and print/tape etc. So one day when Burda envelope patterns were on sale and I was scouring the pattern catalog for hidden treasures I came across this one, which is Burda 6456. Slight difference as it has a set in sleeve and the magazine pattern has raglan seaming but the same general idea. So thank you Burda for a printed pattern :) which makes things so much easier.

This pattern is ideal for silk chiffon, and as it happened I had ordered this silk on a whim from Fashion Fabrics Club on a whim, I think it was quite inexpensive but when it arrived I loved the color and the feel of it.

pink silk top3

Pattern love on this one. Quite easy to sew and silk presses so well that the edge on the flounce was not too difficult. I (briefly) thought about trying the narrow hem foot but really that is just about impossible to use on most fabrics and even more tricky on curves. Or maybe you can get it to work but I admit that foot is my sewing achilles heel. (ha ha bad joke intended).  No matter - didn't need it.

Slightly wacky print. Is it just an abstract? or some variation on leopard print rendered in deep pink and blue? Anyway that pink is one of my favorite colors.

silk ruffle top close up

Here's the pattern envelope. I could see making the flounce version but with long sleeves for the winter. It has just enough of a collar to satisfy my "I need something on the back of my neck or I will be cold" requirement.


But this top had a bit of a circuitous route to get here. I started making a shirt from a winter Burda magazine, I forget which one, maybe Feb. The shirt that had the diagonal darts along the center front button band, but after about 2 hours of construction realized the details were disappearing in this fabric and it wanted to be something way more flowy and not structured. SO recut! I used the sleeves to cut the flounces, used the remaining uncut yardage for the front, fortunately there was some so I could have this do-over. The back was cobbled together with the back pieces from the first-try pattern and all in all it came out OK.

Here's the first version, partially done. And just why did I start with this fabric? It needs something way more crisp, a nice cotton shirting will be better and I will revisit in the fall.


And the back, you can see the seam across the center, the original blouse had that waist seam front and back, but I think in this busy print it is fine.

silk ruffle top back view

Side view. This pattern does have a bust dart which give some shaping. I cut a size 38 which is my usual top size in Burda and added a bit in the hips, which I always do. I wanted it to be loose and flowy.

silk ruffle top side view

And I did cut the armholes in a bit, and then did a bias binding with the same fabric. Do you love doing bias binding with silk fabric? - it's one of those things that give me sewing pleasure.

pink silk top2

These pictures were taken weeks ago, the weather was lovely - then we had a return of "not spring" for a while, and tomorrow will be full on summer with temps in the 100's ℉. Yeah, summer is here now! And my expression is saying - hurry up with the picture taking because happy hour with vino and pizza is happening behind me.

But I can hang around for just another minute with the giant red pots. Wow those would be fun to have in my garden although once they were put in place I expect they stay there forever.

pink silk top with planters

Tomorrow is a Skirt class at Hello Stitch and then June is almost over. They are closed the week of July 4 but when they return from that vacation break we have all kinds of fun classes. Garment Copying (July 22) is really popular so we are offering that again. Same with Pattern Fitting: Adjust the Bust, that will be offered again (July 15).
A couple of dress classes coming up as well, our Bondi dress class (Aug 12) and a Sew a Wrap dress class (Aug 4, where you can use any wrap dress pattern you like).
And a new class I have created, Pattern Hacks: Add New Elements to your Patterns (July 28). I know some people object to the pattern hack terminology and others embrace it fully - I'm kind of in the middle but it does perfectly describe what I will cover - how to change up your existing patterns and get more mileage and looks with your existing patterns. Totally do-able! and very efficient when you think about doing that instead of starting with a new pattern. Hope to see you there.

Social sewing news: Last Friday I had the opportunity to meet an east coast sewing blogger in person. Renee, whose blog is was on vacation and covering California from LA to SF and many stops in between. A group of us met at Britex and ogled the luxury fabrics and then marched down to the Palm Court at the Sheraton Palace (led by @naughtybobbinpatterns, our pied piper of champagne) for bubbly and conversation.

Meetup in SF

L to R: Shams (communing with fabric blog), me, Renee the vacation girl, and Pauline, also knows as Queen of Stripes (@sewuthinkyoucan on Instagram)

Have a great weekend and happy summer sewing,

today's garden photo - a bright pink dahlia. This one is about 4 feet high and still growing.


Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Random Threads # 32: after the fact fixes, pocket placement and the old Singer Buttonhole attachment

Time for another Random Threads as my notebook page has quite a few topics jotted down, and for once I can read all my scribblings. Actually after the last few times when I looked at my notebook and realized I had absolutely no idea what I wrote down I've tried to be more careful. After all, a brilliant revelation or hilarious sewing observation could have been lost due to my less than perfect penmanship. Why is my writing so bad? Not sure as I am so fussy in many other things. But it has been this way since I first picked up a crayon and probably not going to change now. (And all of you with lovely handwriting have my admiration:)

First up, Do you do after-the-fact fixes? By that I mean adjust or alter a garment that you have sewn, and likely worn, after it is completed. I do this all the time. Well, not all the time but often. Here are some things I have done: changed sleeve length, changed hem length (those are probably common). Adjusted the center back zipper - even to taking it out and altering fit there and then sewing it back in. Changed a facing to bias binding. Changing armhole shape. Narrowing shoulders. Adjusting sleeve width. Changing the buttons (rarely - as I hate sewing on buttons). Changing the neckline. Adding a drawstring or changing the elastic. Even adding more interfacing if it was possible and I thought the item needed it. All in all, I figure if I liked it enough to finish it and wear it, then a small issue that bugs me can be fixed, and I will like it even more.
My most recent fix is this knit dress. It had an elastic waist and then a tie sash, which didn't seem to add anything. Also I made the elastic too short so it was fine when standing but when I sat down it wanted to roll upwards.

drawstring on knit dress I I took out the elastic, added two buttonholes at the center front, made the elastic about 3/4 of my waist measurement and then made a couple of 1/2" ties which I attached to the ends of the elastic. So now it is a drawstring, with elastic, which is a really nice way to do a drawstring, super comfortable and you never need to adjust it as you wear it. So a tiny refashion and now this dress is 100% satisfactory.

Pocket placement: Do you have an ideal pocket placement idea? I mean the patch pockets on the backside of jeans. When I look at pattern details I feel like Goldilocks - pockets too high, pockets too low, and then just right. Of course just right is in the eye of the beholder. And this beholder likes them right in the middle of the bum, above the crease formed where your cheek meets the top of the thigh. This is for women's jeans, men's are a whole different category. Just personal preference, to me the pockets look out of proportion or misplaced when they are partly on the back thigh. Where they end up has a lot to do with a person's body shape, and length of rise, and if the jeans are high waisted or low rise. You see this more often on guys, I think because on most men their jeans are not held up by the hips as women's usually are, so they tend to migrate downwards, even if they are not intending that look. Sometimes I see a guy with his jeans pockets somewhere south of what looks comfortable (or safe) and you can see the outline of phone and wallet. That's when I think isn't that uncomfortable and or possibly hazardous to your phone screen to sit on it all the time? As a relatively short person 5'3" with a long rise I have been making pants and jeans and thus scrutinizing my backside pockets. Not the most fun in the sewing room but worthwhile to get a fit I like.

News stories about the business of fashion: I love to read business stories that cover fashion and the apparel industry. Inside scoop on a Paris fashion house or behind the scenes peeks at a major magazine or line, yes please! I recently read this one on Bloomberg Business News about LuLaRoe Leggings and the problems with that firm including the speculation that it is a multi-level-marketing scam in addition to a clothing company. Also inter-family drama. Also my opinion - they look like toddler clothes for grown women - which should be the real scandal.

Custom fabric to the extreme: did I show this link before? let's turn to something that made me laugh out loud. And actually show it to a family friend who I thought might want one of these pillows. Result: she did not.

Vintage Singer Buttonhole Attachment: I love my older Singer sewing machines and think that they make the best buttonholes. Plus they do the Keyhole buttonhole which looks so professional on a jacket.  Recently Morgan (@crabandbee) posted a pic of a recently inherited sewing machine which is the same model as one I have. She asked about some of the accessories so I figured I would sift through my photo file and find the slightly blurry video I made a while ago of the buttonholer in action.

buttonhole attachmt SaveSave

Here's a link to a post I did in 2011 (!) with lots of info, photos of the various parts that are needed for the buttonhole attachment and how they work on the sewing machine. And the video. I just tried to upload it here and it is taking forever, but if you click over to the 2011 post you can see it there.

Topstitching - what is it about this that people love? I like the look of it but I can take it or leave it. Some things look nice with it and I do it but it's far from my favorite component of a project. Some stitchers go into raptures over topstitching...maybe people who love order and tidiness and get a thrill out of those perfectly uniform stitches marching across fabric.

Pattern Review website - do you use? I think a lot of people would agree that it would be great to have a website that incorporates the fun and friendliness of Instagram with the usefulness of Pattern Review. And had a better visual appeal (with no brown  - websites with brown graphics are sort of sad looking). I use PR for pattern evaluation, it's really useful to see the combo of photos of a pattern sewn up, the fabric choice, how it looks on different body types and then read a few paragraphs on the pluses and minus of the design, construction and what the individual person might have done to change up the pattern or make it easier to sew. I also look on Instagram but the specific search result on PR is quite handy. I post reviews because I figure if I am going to use it (for free) I should contribute in the same way. Instagram is a more fun interaction but I am always wanting more info and details than the snippets people post. Picky picky, right?

What makes a well drafted pattern? I see this phrase used often and sometimes I wonder what the person meant by it. It can mean that it sewed up correctly? That the pattern pieces fit together easily? It could mean that it fit well for the size that they chose. It could mean that the designer took into consideration the drape of the fabric and thus it resulted in a nice garment. Maybe just that it was really on trend and so gave the stitcher the item they wanted for right now. Sometimes I see this phrase used and I think the pattern they are referencing might have sewing together with no problems but the torturing of that fabric has turned out an awful result. Interestingly I don't think you can apply this designation to any particular pattern company, each one has some things that go together well and others that look like they were trouble from the get-go. I just sewed up two different wrap dress patterns from the same pattern company, one was great and one was a problem child so I might have more to say on this topic soon.

What is with the terrible darts on the red carpet? I think the most famous offender is Prada and this dress might be from the same design house. I saw this during the coverage of the Cannes film festival and that satin fabric is not helping the matter. But eek, that is not the way I would want a dress to look when being photographed a zillion times. Although the jewels are quite something.

darts not sewn well

My diagnosis from afar - doesn't it look like there is a structured corset on the inside of the dress and the outer bodice fabric is too long, it should be more taut above the dart ends to avoid that ripple. Who knows and I'm sure these dresses get shipped around the world to wear for just a few hours without the proper fitting they would do if you were a customer. Not that I would buy that dress - the worst color! (although I know some of you love the neutrals!)

Up next, some blog posts on sewing that's not blue - I've been on a blue streak lately but it's time for a different color.  Sneak peek here for an upcoming Wrap Dress Class (Sat. Aug. 4 - choose any wrap dress pattern, or wrap top and we will cover some of the tricks to a good wrap dress fit)

red wrap dress bodice

At Hello Stitch Studio: still some spots in my Pattern Reading class this Thursday night 6/14, and then my Skirt class on Saturday 6/16. The studio is closed during the week of July 4. In July we have a Pants Fitting class (limited to 4 people) and also a Button front Shirt class (Tues. 7/17 in the evening) plus another Bondi dress on Aug 12. Everyone is making such cute Bondi dresses - it is the ideal summer dress.

Pattern fitting and adjustment classes include the Pants class mentioned above, as well as another Adjust the Bust pattern fitting (7/15) another Garment Copy (7/22) and a Pattern Hacks class (7/28).  All garment classes are here. 

So plenty to do this summer, and the weather is heating up, which means I can wear my summer dresses, yay! And a sewing meet up with friends later this week that I am really looking forward to.

Happy Summer Sewing,

today's garden photo, there are so many foxgloves blooming, in shades of white, pink and purple. They even seem to self sow, which I hope means more blooms from the smaller volunteer plants later this summer.



Thursday, June 7, 2018

Burda 08/2014 #116, a dress for a spring breeze

Do you ever finish a project and think, yes! This was the perfect fabric choice for that pattern. I recently had the opportunity to choose a fabric from The Confident Stitch, which is a gem of an independent fabric store in Missoula, Montana. I met the owner Kate a few years ago when she came for a fitting lesson. She has bay area roots but has lived in Montana for many years. Kate decided to open a fabric store which sounds like a dream but I imagine is a lot of hard work along with the fun of thinking about fabric all the time. On their blog they have great versions of indie patterns sewn up with their fabrics. I like to see how things look on real people, instead of illustrations, don't you? In particular they have sewn up versions of the Sew House 7 patterns which make me want to stitch up those immediately!
Looking at the website, I had a really hard time choosing as they have a lot of lovely knits, cottons and double gauzes however I will always gravitate towards the tropical and the turquoise blue, so I chose this woven rayon Island Batik. I chose the fabric first, with no plan. And then had to think about how to use it to take best advantage of the weight and drape. In the end I chose a pattern which fit into my vague plan to try new silhouettes and shapes this year.

blue rayon dress back view 2

How's that for something different? This is the first time I've ever sewn something with a hi-lo hem. Admittedly not a drastic one, but it does have that lovely swishy feeling as you walk around. And not to overlook the other feature of this pattern, the opening at the center back. This pattern is super easy to sew, and has an elastic channel in the front, then the opening has a drawstring all around the opening which you can make more gathered or less, depending on how much of your backside you want to show.

Seriously, so easy! Just 4 main pattern pieces, a facing for the back opening to make the casing, a bias binding on the neck and then turn and stitch hem for the sleeves and hem.

Blue rayon front on form

Here's a look at the pattern from the BurdaStyle website. Now I notice that they are also leaning into the "looks good with the wind blowing" aspect.

Burda 08-2014 116B

So Burda...from August 2014. Yes, I saw this dress ages ago and always wanted to make it. When in doubt of what to do with a fabric, I look at the various pattern websites, especially BurdaStyle because they have a lot of dresses with interesting features. It might be that I'm not interested in actually using their pattern, often I have a similar pattern in my stash already but the inspiration is helpful and I do like their tech drawings.

Changes - I think I shortened the whole thing about 3 inches - but note I am 5'3" so typically shorten everything. I lowered the front neckline about 2 inches at the center front. The drawing looks like a scoop neckline but it was too high on me and I like the way the back looked. Otherwise no changes. I cut a size 38 and graded to a 40 at the hip, but I probably could have made a 38 all over, it has plenty of ease.

Blue rayon close up back on form

The only other small nitpick is that I followed the pattern when placing the buttonholes at the center back which the tie threads through to the outside, and they are a bit too far apart (about 2.5 inches) As it is, when the bow is tied there is about 2 inches of fabric that isn't gathered up. However it doesn't show so it's not a problem. I also thought about making it a sleeveless look, as I usually don't like cap sleeves but I am SO glad I didn't. The shape looks perfect and cap sleeve balances out the rest of the details.

The color of this fabric is so pretty - it's like the perfect blue sky on a summer day. They have a number of these Island Batiks at The Confident Stitch. It would be a good choice for a similar easy fit dress, a tunic top or a maxi skirt.

Blue dress3

blue rayon side view close up

There is a bust dart which gives nice shaping to the front, and all but disappears in this fabric.

blue rayon dress back view6

blue rayon dress front4

It was really windy when I took these pictures - which worked out for the best.

So that's the latest on my new dress with fabric from The Confident Stitch. I can't wait for a warm evening to wear it out to dinner.

Next up, a Random Threads posts is in the works, and then my other recent sewing projects. Which are Not Blue! I just looked back through my blog posts for the last 5 months and the majority are blue. Not intentional and time to change color course.

Last weekend I had two days of great classes at Hello Stitch Studio.  On Saturday we sewed the Bondi dress, and all the version were so nice! This Bondi dress class is on the calendar again, Aug 12.  On Sunday I taught a pattern fitting class and I really enjoyed meeting everyone, sharing fitting dilemmas and finding solutions to make clothes that you want to wear (and sew again and again)

Speaking of Patterns - I am really excited about a new class we have put on the schedule: Sat. July 28, which is Pattern Hacks: add new elements to your existing patterns. You know I can't leave a pattern alone - so this class will cover how to make changes and hacks like redesigning the neckline, combining 2 patterns together, adding pockets, or plackets and just getting more mileage out of the patterns that you currently sew. Like some of my the other pattern fitting classes this will be a workshop style class where we slice and dice sample pattern templates in order to learn how to make these changes.

class at Hello Stitch Upcoming classes at Hello Stitch:
Sat. June 16 and 23: 2 morning sessions Skirt class, pencil or a-line skirt style, you choose your pattern.
Sat June 16: 2pm  Knit t-shirt. I think this class is close to sold out - so if you are interested hop over and register.
Thurs. June 14: 6-9 pm How to Read a Pattern, I really like this class, even if you have sewn a few patterns already it is a great overview and discussion of what makes a good pattern, how to get the most info from the pattern envelope and pieces plus choosing the right fabrics for success.

In July we have a Pants fitting class (Sat. July 14) and another session of  How to Copy a Garment class (Sun. July 22).
In August we will have a wrap dress something for everyone I hope.

Link here to the Hello Stitch Studio class listing page. 

People who sew are SO interesting! I have met such fantastic people in every class and as one person said on Sunday, it's just great to spend a day with others who want to talk about sewing. I agree with that!

Not able to resist using this photo to say gotta run and good-bye! Places to go and fabrics to sew. With the back opening a bit lower in this one - showing off my lingering Hawaii tan....

blue rayon dress with breeze1

Happy spring sewing, 

I was going to skip my garden photo - as you get a glimpse of all the foxgloves in the background there plus the hydrangeas just starting to have blooms, but I did get a new camera. And this is the time of year when there an abundance of things to photograph. 

Hanging basket with petunias and a calibrachoa which has survived through the winter. Plus experimenting with focus.


Wednesday, May 30, 2018

McCalls 7549 color blocked cropped jacket in double sided fabric

When it comes to planning what to sew, to summarize, I don't. Meaning I don't really plan, I just go where my mood takes me. Sure I have a vague idea that I might need some new knit tops, or want a certain color of denim skirt. But mostly I just go with what fabric I find or a pattern that catches my eye. I suppose I do have the luxury of sewing for a good long time, so I have plenty of coats and jackets to wear as well as all the summer dresses a person could need. But desire for an item, that is a different story. There is always something fun to discover around the next sewing corner, an inspiration from the web or another stitcher. So while I sew according to my whimsy, I am very strict with myself when it comes to two things. 1) finishing projects and 2) blogging things I have sewn in the order I sew them.

Kind of goofy, huh? If I have sewn something, and then completed something else, I have to blog items in the order they were sewn. Even if I have been wearing both all the time. A strange self-imposed order to my typical sewing abandon. So today I am doing a blog post on an item that I am really happy with but was as yet un-blogged. Despite finishing it ages ago - before other stuff that I have recently blogged. To the point that it was like a pebble in my shoe! Silly but there it is. Perhaps because I actually took quite a while to finish this. I started it around Thanksgiving and finally completed it in March. Only because so many other obligations pushed it aside. And now a wool jacket that will be put away until fall!

blue wool jacket side view

Stay tuned if you like sewing details, pattern matching and design changes because this project had it all. It started with this wool which I bought at Mood Fabrics in NY back in Oct 2016. I really love the color and the fact that it is actually two sided, so it is one fabric which appears as dots on one side and then lines on the other. But I wanted to sew a jacket that could use a lot of both sides of the fabric, not just a small amount like edging of one side and the rest as the other. I saw this pattern from McCalls and strangely I have seen very few versions sewn up. If you look in Instagram there are a few (very cute) versions and a couple of people made it more than once. It's a really easy pattern and a great choice for a first jacket - not hard to sew but a lot of interesting options.

Back to the beginning, when I saw this pattern I figured it would work for the wool, and started playing around with the fabric placement. Here's the pattern envelope.

M7549 pattern envelope jacket

In order to decide how to place the fabric, the dots and lines which give a different shade of blue, I copied the technical drawing from the McCalls website, and then painted in the colors in Photoshop to see how it would look. I've also done this by printing out the page and just drawing with colored pencils or sharpie pens. You would be amazed at how much of an idea you can get on a tech drawing once you add some color and pattern.
I will show some more examples of this next time I do a Random Threads post.

coat color test 2

Here's a nice look at the jacket so you can see how it compares to my color sketch. Not bad for getting the idea.

Front angle view blue 2side jacket

But before I got to that point there were a few hurdles. Like making a test version just to see if I liked the shape. To tell the truth this jacket has two features I am not really a fan of, those being no collar and cropped length. But I am trying to sew new shapes and silhouettes so I figured I would give it a try. With my precious precious fabric!

Warning! Do not laugh at my hideous test garment which used up scraps and quilting cotton. Hey at least it gave me the idea of how the various elements would look, and the fit was spot on.

test muslin for wool jacket

Onward to cutting out where it turned into quite the sewing puzzle, in that it was a bit confusing to keep straight which side I wanted as the right side for each section. So I put the image in my photos and referred often as I was stitching it up.


This fabric quality is Gorgeous with a capital G. The type of wool that sews like a dream. You can see the dots on one side (they are really little squares are made by the intersection of the lines on the other side.

Pattern changes: I knew I wanted the overall jacket to be longer than designed. The pattern version is very short, at least for me, probably landing about 1 to 2 inches below my waist. I added about 1" to the center sections, and then added also at the hemline. I lengthen the bottom section of the sleeve to be a regular long sleeve instead of a mid-wrist length.


This photo I took to show how much shaping there is in the jacket, what looks like a boxy front has a noticeable curve which becomes sort of a bust dart, or at least bust shaping. In the last Garment Copy class I taught one of the students had a top with this feature, and it was striped which helpfully showed us how much shaping was incorporated in what looked like rectangular pieces.

Next obsession on this journey - pattern matching.

IMG_3547 I set aside the remaining fabric as I decided to cut out the front bands later, once I sewed up the front and then I could match the lines precisely.


Sewing satisfaction! Actually the dots lined up as well because the other side is the lines which aligns with the bands when I pinned it together to sew.

Interfacing info.


I never look at the pattern instructions when it comes to interfacing but do my own thing. Which usually means more interfacing. On this one I put weft fusible around the neckline, and the top of the sleeves. the front bands have the medium weight Sheer Elegance interfacing on the outer  band and then more on the inner side which you can see in the next picture.


I put interfacing on the top of the band as well as on the lining fabric which is sewn to the neckline, as I think it needs some oomph to make a structured neckline and sharp corners at the top.
I attached the lining by machine stitching at the neckline and down the front edges, but then did the sleeve hem and bottom hem by hand. Because I'm not a fan of bagging the lining - even though in this jacket it would have been fine. Prefer the control of hand stitching the lining and it seems just as quick to me.

More sewing satisfaction :)  so happy with how the sleeve pattern lined up with the jacket body.

blue wool 2side sleeve plaid

And yes, I did add a vertical dart in the back. It might take away a bit from the style, but I thought it looked terrible on me without any shaping. Stuck out in a weird and boxy way so I just added vertical darts.

Back blue wool 2side jacket

It looks a little loose in the back but that is the dress form (who has very upright posture!) when worn it conforms better to the shape of my back.

blue silk blouse with jacket lining

blue wool 2side with blouse

I showed those pictures previously - here or in Instagram but I am repeating as the outfit is complete! Here's the link to the silk blouse post. And I think next winter I will wear the jacket with blouse and bow. It's such a beautiful color.

front blue 2-side on form

I have enough fabric remaining to make a skirt but that might just be too much! although I held up the dot side to the jacket and it looked quite good. Maybe a mini skirt worn with boots and a turtleneck? A project for the fall when wool wearing weather returns.

blue wool jacket front view

Now I'm striding onward to the next project 😀.

Which this weekend is two days of classes at Hello Stitch Studio, on Sat. we have the Bondi dress, and on Sunday our Pattern Fitting and Adjustment class (I think the Fit Lab portion might be full - but there is space in the classroom session, and we repeat this class regularly so check back).

I recently indulged in the ruffle trend so I have a summer silk top to share, and a dress with a strategically placed opening which is far cuter than I expected. Plus a Random Threads soon.

Happy almost summer sewing,

Today's garden photo, a pink snapdragon with some purple-blue pansies in the background.


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