Thursday, January 18, 2018

What's Up...

I think it's about time for an update:

  • I have a new job! I'm finally back in the museum field after a three-year absence. It's part-time right now and has the potential to become a full-time position as I help my department grow. I volunteered there for a month and was then eagerly asked to apply for the position. I can't tell you how much that confidence boost was needed.
  • I was having a hard time finishing sewing projects. I finished two projects that I expected to be super simple and thought I would be making multiples of both. But no, they were both problematic and nearly became UFOs. They're finally done but unfortunately they were summer items and well...
  • This attitude negatively affected a pattern testing opportunity I really wanted to participate in. There was no motivation, supplies were ordered late, the eventual recipient of the garment couldn't take accurate measurements, and wouldn't be around for fittings. Feedback was due in a particularly generous time period and I am just now really working on it. I will still submit feedback and pictures
  • Pictures are a tiny bit easier because I bought an inexpensive ($30) tripod with a remote from a Lidl grocery store, of all places!


  • I mentioned this on Instagram but I finally ordered my garment labels from Dutch Label Shop. My indecision was the worst of me and delayed that purchase for weeks and I still haven't sewn one in yet!
  • FYI: I found a source for fold-over elastic (FOE) at Elastic By The Yard. It's available in one, five, and one hundred yard lengths, the last two come wound on spools. Very affordable, quick shipping, and comes in multiple colors and patterns.
  • Ok, this one is strange and I would love some feedback on it. Last year, I sought out a gynecologist practice after a recurring problem came back. I had an exam and a ultrasound. Note that these tests were done at another practice in Richmond years ago for the same issue with the same result. Again, nothing abnormal was found but in two subsequent phone calls I received I was told that the doctor recommended two more exploratory procedures, a sonohysterogram and an endometrial biopsy, both of which I declined. There was no additional communication from them on the necessity of my doing them, just those scheduling calls. A few months later, I was sent a letter that effectively "fired" me from their practice and all the other practices associated with them! The reasoning was that I had "failed to participate in my medical care." Well, I feel I definitely participated when I made my choice not to have the tests, right? What do you think?

Well, back to sewing up some warm winter wear, and yes, there is some Jo-Ann-purchased fleece in there!

Sunday, December 24, 2017

The Doppleganger Shell - Butterick 6424

Pattern: Butterick 6424 (2016)

Pattern Description: Close-fitting top with an all-in-one facing.

Pattern Sizing: Size E5 (14-16-18-20-22) I cut a 14 at top moving out to an 18 at waist and hips.

Did it look like you photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes, but it took some extra work to get there.

Were the instructions easy to follow Yes, though I might make changes in the construction order if I make it again. Attaching the shoulder bands without being able to test the strap length is problematic.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? This top was a shape and construction I had not seen before. This was the only item in this multi-garment pattern that I needed or wanted.


Fabric Used: Winter white Ponteroma knit for $3 (orig. $15) from the Hancock Fabrics liquidation sale.


Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: Trying it on as I went along I found I had to shorten the back straps by 1/4", cutting the pattern piece down two sizes. I also had to bring the placement of each strap in towards the centers a total of 1/4" to get them to stay on my shoulders.

This in turn meant the gradual curve from the strap to the armscye was no longer there and I had to change the angle when sewing the self-facing together.


Unfortunately, when sewing the armscye together I think I may have stretched the fabric out. The entire underarm area sticks out from the body, gaping, and showing far more skin than it should. A makeshift awkward dart had to be made for correction (not yet done at time of photos).


Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? When I saw this pattern I assumed I would make it in multiples. However, the construction and fit was enough to make me think twice about attempting it again. Some of the issues were with the pattern and a lot were because of how it fit my particular body; however, I still would recommend it. I will try it again but make the following changes: narrow the shoulder straps and when cutting the front and back on fold I'll move the pieces in 1/8-1/4" to narrow the bodice width.




Conclusion: After choosing this pattern, I found two photos online showing extremely similar tops, one on comedian Nasim Pedrad and another on fashion blogger Tamu McPherson. These solidified my desire to have this in my wardrobe. However, I now see that these tops were made from stretch fabrics unlike the stable knit I used so they resulted in a fit I could not achieve. But, next time...

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Love Symbol #2 Pencil Skirt - New Look 6843

Pattern: New Look 6843 (2011)

Pattern Description: Straight and A-line skirts in two different lengths.

Pattern Sizing: Size A (8-18) I originally cut out a size 18 according to the measurement chart.


Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes.

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes, extremely easy. This is the simplest of skirts. However, for me...

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I like the variety of shapes and sometimes I prefer a straight waistband to a contoured one.


Fabric Used: 1 yard 58" Sew Classic bengaline suiting in Blackberry*/**(81% poly, 15% rayon, 4% spandex) from Jo-Ann for $6.50 (orig. $12.99 at 50% off), 7" Coats & Clark All Purpose zipper in #13 Navy, Wrights 3/4" Flexi-Lace hem tape, Gutermann 100% polyester thread in Eggplant #943.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: According to the finished measurements, the size 18 (my measurements) would have left 4" of wearing ease for the hips, which would have been excessive! I needed to cut between a size 16 and 18, to eliminate around 2" of that ease.

Note: When I chose this pattern I thought it was a former TNT for me but I was actually thinking of a different pattern! I had only made the A-line version of this pattern; therefore, an accurately shaped hip line hadn't been as crucial.


When I altered the skirt, I found that the back skirt was drafted wider than the front. When the pattern pieces were placed atop one another the size 18 front piece matched the size 16 back, according to the cutting lines. I had never encountered that before; however, it makes sense since I surely have more volume back there than in front. I cut the back piece down to size 16 (eliminating 1/2" for a total of 2") to make the skirt fit.


I believe in marking my darts in chalk after fabric tacking. Sometimes if I think there will be some time between cutting a project out and sewing I will also baste along the chalk lines. I then baste the actual darts together before the final stitching for accuracy. It may be overkill but I am rarely unhappy with my finished darts...so better safe than sorry.

Surprisingly, the hip curve was too pronounced and I had to shave almost 1/4" off the high hip, tapering back out to the pattern above and below.


I know the majority of blog sewists use invisible zippers but I've never used one. I am quite happy with my centered zippers. They're neat, clean, and I've always been able to depend on them and have never had a broken zipper. To be honest, I may be a little scared of trying something new too but if it ain't broke...

In this case, I cut the skirt backs out so the fabric selvage would be the zipper seam allowance. I basted directly along my stitching line to ensure it being straight and produced as near a perfect zipper insertion as possible. The key to a neat and precise centered zipper is keeping the seam basted while you sew it in, ensuring that the edges cover all signs of the zipper when closed. In fact, if you also pickstitch your zipper there's really no visual difference from an invisible one.


The narrow waistband was easy to construct and provided a nice session of hand sewing. Strangely, even though I had reduced the pattern side seams, including the waist, by 1", the size 18 waistband notches still matched.

I decided against the skirt side slit once it was basted and I tried it on. The skirt didn't need it for walking and it was extremely awkward when sitting. (Always remember to practice sitting and climbing stairs when making skirts and pants.)

When trying on the skirt I noticed that the skirt was hanging awkwardly below the hipline. I don't know if it was because of the stretch fabric or perhaps the grain was off at the back center seam.

After trying on the skirt with the finished zipper and waistband, the next thing I did was peg the skirt some by tapering a bit by coming in 1/4" from the bottom of each side seam allowance (for a 1 inch decrease in the skirt hem circumference) and blending back out an inch or so below the widest part of my hips. While this improved the overall skirt shape it was still flaring out from the body at the center back.

I eventually decided to take in the back seam 1/4" at the hem blending back to the seam allowance below the zipper and that fixed it.

After the alterations to the constructed skirt were finally completed I had a skirt that hung straight and slim. I used a slightly shorter hem in the back to create more length there to accommodate my extra volume and allow for an even all-around hem.


Truly invisible hem, right?

As it turned out, my job of straightening this hem was such an event that surprisingly I ended up with a tiny 1/4" hem. Because of this I knew I couldn't finish the hem my usual way so I used some leftover pink hem lace and slip-stitched it down. Isn't it pretty?

I like the rear view ; ).

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I would not make again. There were far too many alterations needed to make this skirt fit my body and I didn't transfer them to the pattern. I would rather start all over with a new pattern. I can't say that it's a bad pattern as it's a favorite of many sewists but it just did not work for me.

Coordinated me-made outfit.

Conclusion: A hard won simple straight skirt which nonetheless ended up looking great and will be a staple in my wardrobe and it's in a color, not black! I'm happy.

* Love Symbol #2 is a new purple color that Pantone created for the estate of the late artist Prince. Therefore, this is a Prince Purple Pencil skirt.I

** Since I made this Pantone also declared this shade of purple the 2018 Color of the Year.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Summer Breeze Top - Butterick 6464

Pattern: Butterick 6464 (2017)

Pattern Description: Fitted, pullover halter top has back button loop closure and neckband.

Pattern Sizing: E5 (14-16-18-20-22) I cut a size 14 at the neck but a 16 for everything else.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Exactly!

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes, though there were a few fiddly bits when it came to the halter facing.


What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I had an inspiration pic showing a top like this with a full gathered skirt (see below) and this pattern allowed me to replicate it as a great top for a humid summer.


Fabric Used: 52" Spectrum Lines India Silk (100% polyester) from Jo-Ann Fabrics, Gutermann 100% natural cotton thread in Dark Turquoise #7540, Pellon EK130 Easy-Knit fusible tricot interfacing.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: Though I had read the reviews showing many tops had been lengthened 2-3", I completely forgot that when I cut mine. I also originally cut a 16 but looking back at Liesl's version I choose to trust the finished garment measurements and recut the neckline areas in a size 14.




This fabric was great for constructing the tiny hems that made up the front and back openings and making the binding needed for the arms.


I had some difficulty dealing with the circular neck band and fitting the neckline edges of the top into it while also evenly gathering the two front portions. It took a lot of pins, patience, and basting! I do NOT suggest trying that part late at night.

Lots and lots of pins...

Then there was a round of hand stitching to secure the other side of the neckband. The instructions have you sew a line of edge stitching which I decided against. I did debate about making a buttonhole as designed or using snaps instead. After a few practice ones on some scraps I went with a buttonhole and it was the first I've made in two or three years. Check out that glowing button, it was one of many great choices in my button stash jar.


The only thing left was to hem the top. If I make this again I will make it longer so it can be tucked it into waistbands. Also, this next photo reveals that an additional two inches will need to be added just to the front.


Obviously, the first time using a camera remote!

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Yes, I would. Perhaps I'll make another in a solid fabric and maybe redesign the neckline into a simpler casing with a narrow tie instead.

The inspiration.

Pictured with a new skirt.

Conclusion: This top turned out exactly as I wanted. It was a cool design for summer and because of the fabric choice, it worked with most of my wardrobe. In fact, I made a purple skirt specifically to coordinate. I am extremely happy with this pattern.