Thursday, November 20, 2014

Got The Blues Work Shirt - Built By Wendy (Sew U)

Pattern: Built By Wendy button-down shirt from the Sew U book (2006)

Pattern Description: Slightly-fitted, button-front shirt with separate collar stand, sleeve placket, and buttoned cuffs. Pattern options include yoke, collar, front facing, and pocket customizations.

Pattern Sizing: XS-Large. According to the book's size chart I should make a Large (size 10-12 ). I ended up cutting a Medium from the shoulders to the waist and then tapering out to the Large for my hips.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing it? Surprisingly, yes, since I refashioned the shirt from an existing RTW man's shirt.

Approximately what my shirt originally looked like
Were the instructions easy to follow? As I was working from a completed shirt, I can't say that I used many of the book's instructions on this version. However, the instructions read clear to me.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? It was a more simplified version of the button-down, this version eliminated the back yoke detail. The pattern also included shaping for a feminine shape. However, the best thing about this shirt pattern and instructions were the many ways the shirt could be customized.

This is the true color*.
Fabric Used: A thrifted man's shirt in a wrinkle-resistant! cotton poplin ($5), thread, and Pellon Easy-Knit (AK130) fusible knit interfacing.

The "After"
Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made?: First thing first, I had to cut the shirt down to my proportions using the Sew U pattern. That involved my trusty seam ripper and I took apart the side seams, removed the cuffs and took apart the flat-felled sleeve seams. I then cut out the shirt fronts aligning the pattern hem with the existing finished shirt hem. The original shirt came complete with a self-lined yoke and back pleat. The shirt was so much larger that these were not touched in the pattern cutting and were both removed.

In fact, I cut the new band from the discarded yoke and cut the new collar from the original shirt's collar. I reused the original collar's interfacing and retained the finished top edge.

I cut the new sleeves from the originals lining up the pattern edge with the original sleeve hem edge; therefore, retaining the finished sleeve plackets .

I adjusted the new sleeve width by adding a tuck so that the sleeve could slip inside the original sleeve cuffs. I then added a new line of topstitching to secure them there.

When attaching my band collar I realized the length was a bit off so I created a small tuck on the back neck. This kind of tuck is usually used beneath a yoke but was my only option since the band matched the length needed for the collar.

Update: After trying this on I didn't like the way the area puffed up under the collar. I removed the stitching from that collar section and instead created a faux center back seam by taking 1/2" out of the back width tapering down to 1/4" at the hem.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Yes, after I adapt the center back pattern piece for less width and extend the side darts a bit more for shaping. I was pleasantly surprised that no easing was needed when inserting the sleeves, very impressive drafting.

Conclusion: I love that I was able to refashion this shirt and retain all of the detail of the button plackets and topstitching detail. The shirt was quick and easy to make because of this but the fit is due to the Sew U pattern and I will make more of these, even from scratch!

* Unfortunately, most of my pictures were over exposed and none captured the true color.

Monday, November 03, 2014

Chasing Summer, Sensible Shoes, And Cuddly Warm Plaids...

  • Marry Me starring Casey Wilson from Happy Endings (RIP) whose husband created both shows and the adorable Ken Marino (Crew Chief Ron from Party Down*!).

    Sidenote: A Thakoon Addition dress worn by Casey Wilson in the second episode of Marry Me was a perfect blend of this Grainline Scout and my new Simplicity 5191 dress. I actually gasped when she put her hand in the hidden diagonal pocket.
  • Manhattan Love Story with Analeigh Tipton and Jake McDorman. I don't know or care if the reviews are great for this but I like it a lot. It's like a mini Nora Ephron comedy every week. Of course, the fact that Ms. Tipton's voice overs and new blond wispy hairdo could also double for Meg Ryan secures that impression. It's premise is cute, but I like how they don't always go for the obvious TV tropes. For example, the couple plans their first "night together" and instead both come down with food poisoning. I loved how the resulting scenes played out.

  • The time came and I stepped up to the plate. My feet were killing me in my 11 year-old Merrells so I needed a new pair of hard-working shoes for the retail job...enter Dansko XP Professionals. They make my feet look like Mickey Mouse' from above but they are doing the job and I got them for 45% off at I also bought them in this great chocolate brown/rust color. I've since been searching the web looking for style inspiration for when I wear them with my "not uniform" clothes.
  • As for my summer sewing plan, I did very well, even though I am short that one shift dress and three pairs of pants. Luckily, two of the pants and the dress will still work so they remain in the queue joined by a plaid shirtdress (new!), a refashioned button-down shirt (for work), and my mad mod ponte dress. That last one is of course carried over from last year's fall plan.

  • After regretting not getting those plaid fabrics last year, I just scooped up this red, hunter, navy, and brown plaid brushed cotton on sale from the JoAnn Fabrics Platitiude collection, along with green stitching thread and matching red topstitching thread. This will become view D from McCall's 6885. I so want to start on this right now, but I have a button-down shirt for work next.

*If you are not already on the Party Down fun train, click on the name to watch it free on Hulu.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Chasing Summer Dress - Simplicity 2591

Pattern: Simplicity 2591 (2009) OOP

Pattern Description: Dress with princess seaming, front pockets hidden in a gathered skirt panel, back zipper, and neckline and sleeve variations.

Pattern Sizing: Size K5 (8-10-12-14-16) View B I cut a size 12.

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

Were the instructions easy to follow? Amazingly so. I thought the side seams combined with hidden pockets bit would be tricky but it worked out perfectly.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? When I think of casual wear I think of smock-like dresses with lots of useful pockets. This dress gives me large pockets for practicality and a defined waist for feminine prettiness, which is considered a complete win in my book.

Fabric Used: A 44/45" juvenile cotton print from Joann Fabrics, 22" Robin zipper in Bone, thread, Pellon Easy-Knit (AK130) fusible knit interfacing, and a hook and eye closure.

Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made?: I started by marking the darts first with tracing paper and then thread basting. I like the precision of this step and thought some of the instructions for the pocket and bodice construction would be confusing so having accurate match points was important for success. I found the construction to be very straight forward and I zipped through it, putting together the front and back quickly before reaching the zipper insertion.

Thread tracing at pocket opening.
I chose to use a centered zipper instead of doing a lapped one as instructed. I'm quite proud of my centered invisible ones for me either, thank you very much.

Basting the shoulder and side seams, I eagerly tried on the dress and found that it fit...perfectly in the part I was most worried about, the waist portion. I may not be able to "pig out" in this dress but it definitely has the hour-glass thing going for it. The only problem was the neckline was gaping in front and in back so that had to be addressed. I not only had to alter the shoulder seams by stitching a larger seam allowance towards the neck but also by creating some back shoulder darts (which
I should incorporate in all my woven makes from now on). I was NOT going to take out that gorgeous centered zipper just to alter the back bodice seam.

Made alterations to the paper pattern for the future.
So in order to fix the front neckline, I consulted my vintage sewing books (all of them!) and ended up
trying two small darts towards both shoulders which did not work. I ended up making two pleats on the front shoulders and gathering the back shoulder to fit. This took out about a one inch width from the shoulders, just emphasizing how I  really need to use Patternmaking to create a bodice sloper sooner than later.
Dress front with gathers and pockets.
The dress is cleverly constructed with the side seam panel combining with the pocket construction.  When made in a less obvious print or in a solid fabric, the pockets could be completely hidden and just thought to be part of the princess seams.

Side seam and pocket pivot point.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Yes, I would and will make it again. The pattern has a few different variations and I definitely can see it made with sleeves and in thicker fabrics for the colder months. I highly recommend it for its playfulness factor too.

Similar novelty print dress from Mod Cloth.
Conclusion: I first saw this dress in seersucker on All Buttoned Up's blog and loved the simple utilitarian feel of her version. Eventually, I found out that many sewists had also discovered this pattern. Unfortunately, it is now out of print; which is strange for such a popular pattern but I'm sure you could still find it online.

Now, this may be the only item in my closet that I might be "too old" for, but that's only because of the fabric print. I found it in the children's section of Jo-Anns and could not resist the bright colors and the floral cuteness or "kawaii" spirit. I mean, come on...colorful flowers, ladybugs, butterflies, and bumble bees! This will be my off-hours outfit for the weekend, not a work dress, I assure you. Well, maybe on Fridays...

*The working title of this dress was originally Toujour jeune d'esprit = still young at heart because of the print. However, my procrastination made the new title more appropriate.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Electric Denim Mini Skirt - Grainline Moss #32001

Some background: I start writing my reviews even before I cut the fabric, recording the description, sizing, notion info, and such. This particular one was started over a year ago and I added to it as I worked on the skirt. Great stuff was collected. However, a few days ago, I accidentally deleted the entire post!!!!! I cannot tell you how frustrated this makes me. So loads of details are now gone forever gone*. So, below, is everything that I remembered. Also, forgive the horrible finished skirt photos (taken on my cell phone).

Pattern: Grainline Studio Moss skirt #32001 (2012)

Pattern Description: Semi-fitted skirt in two lengths sits slightly below the natural waist and features a fly front, button closure, and back yoke. View B offers an optional hem band for length.

Pattern Sizing: Sizes 0-18 and I cut a size 10.

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

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes, however when it came to the fly zipper I chose to follow alternative instructions.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I love the modern styling and the contoured yoke and waistband.
Fabric Used: Sew Classic Bull Denim in Moroccan Blue from Joann Fabrics at $12.99 a yd., a remnant of this cotton floral, Coats & Clark 9" zipper in Dark Teal #279, Gutermann 100% Polyester thread in Deep Turquoise #630, 100% cotton thread in Dark Turquoise #7540, Pellon Easy-Knit (AK130) fusible knit interfacing, hook and eye closure, and a gifted 3/4" wood button from Tibet.

Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made?:  My waist and hip measurements are inches apart and I have an impressive booty, so my first muslin made it clear that some alterations would be needed for the skirt to fit me correctly. Luckily, I was able to contact Jen Beeman, the pattern’s designer and ask for her help. She was able to help me (using hand drawn illustrations!) draft a change to the yoke and back skirt that accommodated my figure without having to add darts to the pattern. See here for that solution.

To eliminate bulkiness in certain areas of the skirt, I cut the pocket and waistband facings from a coordinating cotton print.
I topstitched the skirt using regular stitching thread; however, with future skirts I will use either a complementary or contrasting color in a thicker thread meant for topstitching.

Having solved the fitting problem, I moved onto installing the zipper. I found the Grainline instructions clear but also realized that in my fabric the area could end up bulky.

Instead I used the instructions from my Vogue 9745 pants pattern. In this easy Vogue Elements method, the fly extensions are cut in one with the pant front pattern piece.

Therefore, I used the separate Grainline pattern piece to add the appropriate fabric to the fronts. Please note the wide size as I ended up cutting quite a bit of the width off later.

Because I do not own a serger I stitched my fly facing right sides together and turned it out. That 5/8 seam allowance resulted in a tiny, wee shield. Please note this if you construct yours without a serger to claim a much smaller seam allowance.

To finish the waistband, I again turned to Lisa G’s awesome Perfect Corners on Waistbands tutorial.

At the last minute, I decided that the skirt was too long, at my knee and decided to cut it. I ended up cutting off about three inches in 1/2”-1” inch increments which resulted in a   long skirt.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Yes, now that I have a great fitting pattern, I can see making many more of these, in corduroy and in wild cotton prints. This skirt is a gem for prints especially if you are willing to match the print at center front.



Conclusion: I now have a cool and versatile skirt that can transition throughout the season by just adding tights. It also adds some vibrant color to my wardrobe.

Great thanks to Jen Beeman for the great customer service and help! Without her help, I would not have this awesome fit.

Messing With My Moss Muslin Part 1
More On My Moss Muslin, Part 2
Making New Muslin For My Moss, Part 3
Quick Grainline Moss Update, Part 3.5

*However, strange as it is, I did hang on to the zipper package, still have the thread, and I keep all of my fabric purchase receipts from JoAnn and Hancocks. Why? I have no idea but it definitely worked out this time so no reason to stop anytime soon.