Thursday, March 31, 2016

Spring 2016 Sewing Inspiration

Even though it feels like I just posted about Early Summer sewing patterns, spring sewing is still on my mind.  Here are some inspiration pieces that I've run across, mostly in catalogs, that have my creative wheels spinning:

Boden Alice A-Line Dress.  Is this not the perfect inspiration to get me going with McCalls 7391?

I am really into a structured top with skinny pants.  I want to make some skinnies in white and gray this spring, probably using Vogue 1439, the same pattern as my favorite red pants.  This little top would be great with them!   New Look 6808 would be a great start for the top.  Luckily, I already have the pattern.  I would have to draft the roll neck, but it's basically the same as this one I made.  It's just a rectangle cut on the bias.  

Next up is a challenge:  JCrew's Scalloped shirt.  All this needs is a nice basic shirt pattern and some time with drafting paper.  So pretty, and I like that the scallops aren't on the edge of the shirt, so I think it looks less little-girly.

Ok.  Here are some ideas for my embroidery machine.  Both basic tops with some strategically placed stitching.  We'll see if anything comes of these...
Embroidered Circles Sleeveless Top and Chambray Scalloped Top with Grommets.

Of course, the essential shirtdress this season.  There are patterns everywhere!  This one is from Boden, and I love the sunny yellow print.  The Sophia Shirdress.

A pretty print blouse?  Yes, please!  Dolly Top from Boden.

And finally, because a good portion of my wardrobe inspiration comes from little girl designs, my beach coverup dream:  Boden's Towelling Beach Dress, and look here:  some striped terry fabric!

I am so excited for spring sewing, I don't know what to start first.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Lesley Pullover from Home and Away by Hannah Fettig

This is definitely a record for me.  I knit this sweater in less than two weeks!  The pattern is the Lesley Pullover from Hannah Fettig's book, Home and Away.  Hannah's design company is called Knitbot.  The sweaters in this book are all pretty basic, but Hannah has a reputation for great fit and details, and sometimes, we all just need a simple sweater!  The design recommends a 100% wool yarn by Quince and Co, but I wanted a cotton version for spring.  I also obviously shortened the sleeves to 3/4.  

The yarn is Berroco Maya in a pretty icy blue color called cielo.  The yarn is 85% cotton/15% alpaca and has a chainette construction.  It is lightweight but quick to knit at a worsted weight, and the alpaca content made it more pleasant to knit than some cottons.

Since my yarn is worsted-weight and knit on size 8 needles, as opposed to the pattern yarn's aran weight on size 10 needles, I did some calculating to figure my stitch counts.  The fit turned out perfectly, and I can pop my sweater in the washing machine and dryer!

Yep, sometimes a basic is the way to go.  My blouse is this one, and my pants are here.  :-)

Saturday, March 26, 2016

McCalls 7351 shortened to a Shirt in Liberty of London Lawn Bamboo Garden

It didn't take me long to break into the new stash of Liberty fabrics.  I think I said I was planning a dress or skirt with this cotton lawn in the print Bamboo Garden Eggshell.  When I started draping it around me, though, I knew it had to be a classic collared shirt.  
I used the recently-released McCalls 7351, which is actually a shirtdress pattern, but I had it on hand so I used the pattern exactly out of the envelope to just below the bust darts, and then I used my waist and hip measurements plus a few inches ease to cut the rest of the shirt.  I made sure to cut it on the big side and fine-tuned the side seam fit at the end.  It worked out great!
I am wearing the blouse with my black Simplicity 1696 pants.  I had previously taking in the outseams on these pants when the textured fabric stretched.  I am considering removing the waistband and making it smaller and lower due to the same fabric issues.  I have to say, though, that since adjusting the outseam, these fit much better and don't bag out through the day.  I just have to make sure to wear a belt to keep them up.

For the back yoke facing, I used a plain white cotton to avoid any potential show-through of the pattern on the lightweight lawn.  The back pleat makes this very comfortable to wear.

 To interface the collar, collar stand, and buttonbands, I used white silk organza, a trick I really like for lightweight collared shirts (used before here).  The organza makes the collar behave.

 Do you know the trick for buttonholes on collared shirts?  Make all the buttonholes vertical except the top and the bottom.  Those are horizontal and keep the fronts from shifting up and down .

I have some pretty big scraps of this fabric.  Maybe enough for a little girl garment.  I am seeing niece sewing in my future with all my favorite scraps.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Pattern Picks: McCalls Early Summer 2016

First off, congratulations, McCalls Pattern Co on your nice new websites, but to bring it back to ME, all my links and pics are broken.  :-(  I'm fixing things as I come across them.

So on to the Early Summer patterns.  Again, McCalls has me excited to buy some new ones, but it seems like just last week that I was picking spring patterns, and I still haven't been able to find a couple at my local JoAnn's.  Anyway, here are my favorites:

McCalls 7380 is another shirtdress, but of course there are small differences like the elasticized back waist.

McCalls 7381 is a cute dress without the tied bodice option.  This would be nice in a rayon.

McCalls 7388 has potential, but I'm not sure how I feel about the zipper in a casual top, and of course I like the most boring version - view C.
McCalls 7391 is the one I am running out to buy!  These lace-up details are everywhere now, and there are a few nice options in the pattern.

McCalls 7392 is another must-buy for me.  I like a button-front skirt, and the casual pockets on this are great.  
There were really cute kids options this time, too.  

McCalls 7379 is a nice basic pattern for boys.  The shorts look nice for my 6-year-old who hates buttons.  

McCalls 7377 is a cute basic girls' pattern bundle for woven fabrics.  I could have a lot of fun with these and my embroidery machine.  I wonder if any of my nieces need clothes for spring...
McCalls 7378 is too big for any of my nieces, but I think the top is really cute!

So that's it for me this time around.  How about you?

Monday, March 21, 2016

McCalls 6886 in Art Gallery cotton/spandex Knit

 Well, it didn't take me long at all to break into my recent fabric order.  I knew this top would be quick, so into the wash for pre-shrinking went the fabric and after about one and a half hours of cutting and sewing the next day, I had my spring top.
The pattern is McCalls 6886, which is actually a dress pattern, but it fits me so perfectly that I've made it my go-to tee.  I also used this pattern for my recent striped tee.  I went for a gentle shirt-tail hem again.  I think this is so modern and flattering.  It doesn't cut me right in half at the hip.

The fabric is an Art Gallery print that I purchased from  It is a cotton/spandex jersey, and it is just heavenly.  So smooth and soft.  Excellent quality.  I've been checking out the other prints.  This one is calling to me, but luckily for the wallet, it's out of stock right now.
The pattern calls for turned under hems at the neckline and armholes, but I made bindings for a nice, casual finish.  I know this will be in constant rotation this spring and summer.

This isn't the only fabric I cut in to... I actually sewed up the Liberty of London knit into a wrap dress for Easter, so expect to see that soon.  Here is a sneak peak, via Instagram.  :-)

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Knowing when to give up on a project

I have been working with this yarn for a while.  I bought it last summer, and it is a fingering weight wool/cotton blend.  The knitting pattern is the Tucker Sweater from Interweave Knits Fall 2015.  It is a beautiful pattern. I modified the pattern substantially for my thinner yarn and to use a top-down construction.  It still looks perfectly fine my way.

But, I do not love it.  You can tell by the creased wrinkles that it has been sitting in a knitting basket, unloved, for a while.

Here it was even earlier, back before I re-knit the body smaller, so I have definitely knit enough on this project to have it finished by now if I hadn't re-knit the body.  It doesn't matter, though, because I don't love it.  Sometimes, I'm just not excited about how something is turning out, and I've gotten better at just cutting the project off at that point, be it knitting or sewing.  If I'm not happy with something halfway through, even if I can't pinpoint why, I'm not going to be happy with it when it is finished.
So, I ripped out the whole thing and started something new.  I still love this design, and I hope to try it again in a bulky-weight yarn, in a color I think suits the design better.  For now, I'm using my blue yarn to make Intersect, by Norah Gaughan for Brooklyn Tweed.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

McCalls 7162 Laura Ashley Peplum Top

Well, this is not the success of my last cotton top, and I think it's my fault.

The pattern is McCalls 7162, a Laura Ashley design.  This peplum-style top was very "in" a couple of years ago, which explains why I am just jumping on board now.  The fabric is a beautiful cotton shirting from Pennie Fabrics in Sarasota, which I snapped up with no pattern in mind.  I think I should have just went with a button-down shirt!  (or another Vogue 1440.  That would have been beautiful!)

I was afraid this pattern would be really unflattering on my fairly rectangular body, but it's not as bad as I feared.  I think the reason I am not loving it is all the wrinkling due to the lightweight fabric, and maybe it is a little too long-waisted for me.  It looks like if the peplum started a half inch higher, that might take care of the wrinkling below the bust, but I think that would be an even less-flattering proportion.
 And the back is a sea of wrinkles.  I think I should have interfaced the back at the zipper with something very lightweight.  That would have taken care of most of it.  Again, though, I think this fabric is just too lightweight for this fairly structured top.  Ugh, again with the sunburned arms.

 And here is where we see that yes, this style is not my best.  It just doesn't feel very flattering to wear.  I tried it with slim-leg pants and wide-leg pants, and I think I like it with this skirt the best (I took photos of the other options, but I realized later that I didn't have a memory card in my camera - ugh! and I wasn't retaking all of them at that point).
So what say you?  Is it as bad as I fear?  Am I over-reacting to a couple wrinkles?  I think I'll wear this outfit to church tomorrow and see.  Wearing the cardigan covers all the back wrinkles, so that's something.  :-)

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Kwik Sew 4159 in Moda Regent Street cotton lawn

This top is an unexpected gem.  I had sort of low expectations for both the fabric and the pattern, which I will explain, but I am quite pleased with the end result!

I purchased the fabric at a little local quilting shop during a visit to my parents this past January.  The ladies were just unpacking bolts of the Moda Regent Street lawn fabrics and all the pretty florals caught my eye.  There was much hemming and hawing on my part before I settled on a bit of this for some type of summer top or blouse.  After purchasing it, though, I still couldn't visualize the top in my head.  I really didn't want it to be too juvenile looking, and I only had one and a half yards of this narrow fabric.

The pattern is Kwik Sew 4159, which doesn't look like much based on the pattern photo, in my opinion, but I was on the lookout for something to make with my fabric, and I thought the flowy back might be a nice compliment to the soft lawn.  The sleeveless version with notched neckline looked nice, and I decided to give it a go, despite fears of it turning into a shapeless blob.

Here is the result.
 As a simple, cool summer top, I think this fits the bill.  The fabric is opaque enough to wear over a nude-colored bra with no problems, and it is oh so lightweight and cool to wear.
 It is fun and casual with my lavender shorts, but with some white cropped pants or jeans, it will look a bit more sophisticated.
 The swingy back is surprisingly flattering. I did take in the side seams about 1" each, tapering to the regular seam line at the bust dart.  This is basically a muumuu in top-form, so you do want to be sure the shoulders fit well and it isn't tooooo voluminous in the front.

  The notch at the neckline was easy to sew, and it stays put just fine.  I did not interface at all, but I used a slightly heavier-weight cotton for the neckline facing.  I machine-tacked the facing to the top in a few places and don't have any trouble with it flipping out.
 She armholes are finished nicely with purchased bias tape.  Don't mind the sunburned arms.  Too much gardening!
Again, I think this is surprisingly flattering.  It is not too voluminous in the waist area, and the soft lawn fabric is perfect.  So all in all, a serendipitous creation!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Liberty Purchases!... now I have to wait.

There are some fabrics coming to my house.  I haven't ordered anything from in quite some time, but I had to have some Liberty.

I think I'm going to call this one the start of my Easter dress (because that's the only way I am justifying buying two yards of it).  I am thinking a classic wrap dress with my TNT Vogue 8379.

One Liberty print wasn't enough, though.  I got a bit of this cotton lawn.  I'm not sure exactly what it will be come, though - either a simple dress or a full skirt.

Did you see Waffle Patterns' new coat pattern?  So nice.  I keep saying I need a rain coat, so I ordered some nylon fabric with that on mind.  I love a white jacket!

This cotton knit jumped into my cart, too.  How cute will this be made up as a tank top with some white shorts this summer?

And my last purchase.  This cotton batik just spoke to me.  I love a graphic batik and a border print to boot, and these colors are so "me."  This will definitely be a sundress in my near future.