Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Simple Sofa Pillows - Singer Sewing for the Home

No, not more garment sewing but some necessary and long overdue home sewing.

In 2016, I created two custom slipcovers for a 62" wide octagonal ottoman we use for a coffee table, one in a wipeable vinyl and another in upholstery fabric. Before 2021 arrives, I have now finished the matching sofa pillows in that same subtle green, brown, teal, and orange Ikat print upholstery fabric. (Let's just say I have a little problem with procrastination, ok?)

Sewing for the Home (1988)

It wasn't difficult because I had the help of my first Singer Sewing Reference Library book, Sewing for the Home. My favorite method for covering pillows is their version that has an overlap closure. 

So easy, so elegant, so quick! If you don't have this book, there is a very similar tutorial from So Much Better With Age. I also found one by The Crafting Nook that uses one piece of fabric, simplifying the process.

I could have used a ruler and measured the 17" x 17" front and 17" x 22-1/2" back pieces right on the fabric. Instead, I created one paper pattern measuring 17" x 22-1/2," which at full size I could cut the pillow back. By folding it under at the 17" line, I could also cut the pillow front. Therefore, one pattern could be used for both parts.

During construction, I reinforced all the stress points by double stitching at each corner and the overlap area, knowing that these pillows would need to be hardworking. I then steamed every seam and pressed them with a clapper to create flat crisp edges.

This is a great way to change your decor quickly and cheaply; it takes less than two yards per typical couch accent pillow. An added bonus is that if you chose only machine-washable fabrics, spills are no longer a problem if you move quickly.

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Blouse Obsession Made Real - Friday Pattern Company Adrienne Blouse

Pattern: Friday Pattern Co. Adrienne blouse (2018)

Pattern Description: Slightly cropped knit top with statement sleeves gathered at shoulders and hems with elastic.

Pattern Sizing: XS-4X, I cut out an XXL, even though my measurements call for size XL. 

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

Were the instructions easy to follow? This is such a simple top. The only thing that might cause difficulty is if you are not familiar with sewing knits. Otherwise, this is a very quick sew once you figure out your preferred amount of wearing ease.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I fell in love with the neckline, the gathered shoulders, and the drama of those full sleeves.

Fabric Used: 54" Dark Navy/White Rayon/Lycra rib knit from FabricMart, leftover plush back bra strap elastic from the stash, Dritz 1/2" braided elastic for sleeve cuffs, Gutermann 100% polyester thread in Silver #100.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: With this first one, I choose to sew it with no alterations, not even a full bust adjustment. I have another knit ready for my final version, so this is also a muslin.

I cut this in the XXL size (bust=44" to 46") even though the pattern measurements suggested I make the XL to fit bust measurements of 40" to 43". I chose to work on the side of caution and go larger because the pattern calls for 6-1/2" in negative ease! I wanted a fit that I would feel comfortable wearing and was scared of it looking too small and like a sausage casing, to be truthful.

Of course, it turned out too large, and I ended up opening the side seams and taking them in along with the armscye. I believe it ended up equivalent to the XL. I didn't reopen the elastic at the shoulders, so the neckline didn't get reduced and is too loose. I now believe a size XL with a full bust adjustment might have been fine.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Yes, I will definitely make this again after I figure out the right size to cut.

Conclusion: I have been seeking out versions of this top for months, knowing I wanted to make not one but several of these. I love the finished ones I've seen, especially all the print versions and the dress hacks out there.

After a while, I realized why I was immediately drawn to this pattern. It strongly resembles the gently squared necklines of two of my favorite dresses, both worn for royal weddings: 1) Mette-Marit, Crown Princess of Norway's dress designed by Ove Harder Finseth, and 2) Lady Sarah Chatto's dress by Jasper Conran. The Adrienne blouse only ups that wow factor by adding a much fuller and gathered sleeve. I already have a lush ivory knit in mind for a winter-white knit version.

Ove Harder Finseth design

Design by Jasper Conran

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Attempted Make-under - Assembly Line Cuff Top

Well, I did attempt to recreate The Assembly Line Cuff Top on my own using images from the internet and a self-drafted pattern (see below.) I created my pattern by using their measured diagram of the top and my actual measurements. I used some of my stashed white eyelet fabric since I have so much of it. 

However, not being sure that I got the amount of ease right and not knowing exactly how they applied the elastic to the sleeves kept me from completing it. I really didn't want to be disappointed in another sad quarantine make. 

So, that led me to treat myself in the end. I had received $30 as a "tip" for watching a friend's dog for the weekend (It was my pleasure, really!) Even though I couldn't believe I was paying that much for such a simple pattern, I went ahead and clicked Purchase. I am so glad I did!

As you can see, I did pretty well. My attempt at the pattern ended up very close to the real thing except that the size corresponded to size XS-S in the Cuff Top while TAL had my measurements match up with their Large size.

Pattern: The Assembly Line Cuff Top (2018)

Pattern Description: Loose-fit top with boatneck, center seam detail, and cut-on sleeves with gathered cuffs.

Pattern Sizing: Available in two size ranges: XS-L and XL-4XL. I cut a Large that matched my bust measurement resulting in finished garment ease of 8."

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

Were the instructions easy to follow? Extremely easy! As simple as can be.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I loved the instruction booklet! Great detailed instructions in a clever and simple design.

Fabric Used: Premium quilt cotton yarn dye chambray (100% cotton) from Joann Fabrics, Dritz 2" Soft Waistband Elastic, Gutermann 100% polyester thread in Iris #900.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: This was the first time I've ever used a 1 cm seam allowance. As an American, it always sounded too small to me, but it's essentially 3/8." 

The instructions suggest finishing all seams with an overlocker or a zig-zag stitch.  The shoulder, center front, and center back seams were flat-felled, which added style and detail.

When it came to the sleeves, the elastic insertion instructions in the booklet were lacking. I found it much easier following instructions for an elastic waistband like this Craftsy tutorial. You have control over the gathers this way.

That same detail in my eyelet version.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Yes, I will definitely make even more of these. It's a simple pattern, but it has style. It is very versatile, looking completely different in all types of fabrics, from flat quilting cottons to drapey silks.

Conclusion: After wearing both versions I have decided that I want something slightly smaller than my official TAL version (with 8" of wearing ease) but larger than my faux version. I think I will make all others in size M for less wearing ease and a narrower neck opening.

Affixed with my label.

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Asymmetrically Draped Tartan Skirt - Vogue 7607

Pattern: Vogue 7607 (2002) OOP

Pattern Description: Skirt with contour waist, lined yoke, side zipper, and shaped hemline. A, B: A-line, bias, below mid-knee with mock wrapped front. C: bias and slightly flared.

Pattern Sizing: Sizes 18, 20, 22. I used size 20 for the skirt and cut the yoke between sizes 20 and 22.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes and no. It does match the illustrations. However, it looks much different on the body, where the asymmetry seems more exaggerated and awkward.

Were the instructions easy to follow? Very easy; the only thing that may give some trouble is installing the zipper after the skirt is assembled. I chose to do it another way.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I have a love for drape, movement, and asymmetric design. After seeing this pattern on the internet, I searched for over a year before finding the larger size group on eBay.

Fabric Used: 2 yards 60" sportswear plaid in red, orange, and black tartan (100% acrylic) from Joann Fabrics, black mystery polyester lining and vintage seam binding from the stash, Pellon EK130 Easy-Knit fusible interfacing, Gutermann 100% polyester thread in Chili Red #420, and a vintage 7" Robin zipper in Olive Green.

Rear view

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: Disregarding the finished garment measurements, I cut the yoke out between sizes 20 and 22. I applied fusible knit interfacing to those pieces for stability because this fabric behaved like a light flannel.

Unfortunately, the skirt section, without interfacing, stretched out of shape. I had to recut the upper back section using the pattern piece to match the waistband. I tapered out the sides of the skirt to still keep that section wider to fit my hips.

The hem for this skirt is enormous, and hemming is the second thing you are supposed to do after sewing the three skirt pieces together. It can be a bit time consuming, especially if you press it in place and baste it in the way that I do before stitching.

The next step is to attach the yoke and add reinforcement to the skirt's top edge with seam binding along the seamline as a waist stay. I lucked out on having this coordinating vintage coral binding in my stash.

The next step is to insert the zipper, and the instructions call for a lapped zipper, but I'm not a fan. I find them fussy and awkward, especially for insertion in a side seam. I decided to use a centered zipper application because I could baste the side opening together and stitch the zipper down.

Once done, the lining for the facing was attached to the skirt, understitched, and hand-sewn in place.

This is the skirt riding low on my hips.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I'm not sure. The shape of this didn't end up looking the way I expected it to on a body. I'm not sure if it was the wrong fabric choice or something else. I hope I change my mind because I own the Vogue 9355, the Meghan Markle/Roland Mouret lookalike dress that also has a very similar front-draped skirt. So, I may try View C at some point, in a more stable fabric.

Inspiration images for what I thought I was making:

Lafayette 148 NY Rosabell tartan skirt ($400)

Monse patchwork plaid wrap skirt

Alexander McQueen plaid midiskirt

Conclusion: Despite not being in love with the final skirt shape, I'm still glad I tracked this pattern down and made it up. It is a high impact look.


The end of the dart fades out nicely.

UPDATE: Having stable fabric and making the right size is crucial! Months later, wearing it while taking these pictures, I found it was too large. I had to wear it down near my hips, and it spun around as I walked. I ended up pinning a large dart (2" total!) through the back yoke and skirt. The added benefit of this change is that by having the waist up where is should be, the skirt looks closer to the A-line shape of my inspiration pictures, though not as full.