May 16

Amber Trousers and… Shorts!

I’ve been a fan of Paprika Patterns for a while now. Recently Lisa posted about a new pants patterns and a call for reviewers. I took one look at the pattern and knew I had to do this – they are very similar to a pair of pants I had back in my 20’s that I probably would have married if I could have. I ended up literally wearing them to death and then I married a guy instead, so all worked out ok except I still missed those pants. Until now!

The Amber Trousers are a casual, beachy type pant with front and back yokes, slash pockets, side zip and front inverted box pleats. Variations are a tapered or wide leg, with ankle length (tapered) and regular long length (wide). I started with a test pair that I made in shorts length, just in case I had to toss them, and also because I desperately need shorts for this crazy hot weather we have all of a sudden. I used a rayon challis but because the print was too bright and irritating for what I envisioned, I turned it around and used the more muted back side. I cut the yokes and pockets on the crossgrain for visual interest.

amber shorts front

When I cut them out I used a size 4, and followed the instructions to construct through attaching the yoke, then fit. They were quite big! I took them apart, cut them down, put them back together and compared the sizing to the pattern pieces. They were then close to a size 3. I made adjustments on my pattern pieces for next time.

amber shorts side

amber shorts back

I also vented the hems on the shorts for extra wearing ease, and it looks good below the contrasting pattern of the pockets (although you can’t see the vent on the side view photo, sorry! I found the invisible zipper insertion to be very easy. Lisa will have a tutorial on her site soon for this part of the pattern.

The shorts are so comfortable!

Now to the trousers version…

I made the tapered leg version. The suggested fabrics for the tapered are rayon, silk, or other finer flowing fabrics. The wide leg fabrics included linen. I was naughty and used linen for the tapered leg. I really, really wanted a yoked pant with this rust colored linen I have, but I feel uncomfortable in wide legs (don’t know why, but I do). I was happy I deviated from the list because they turned out great!

amber pants front leg

amber pants back

I forgot to take a photo, but I altered the back yoke to accommodate my hip-to-waist ratio with two darts. Pant making changed for me once I learned to do this.

amber pants side front

amber pants front

Yay! Love these pants!

I received a free copy of the pattern in order to review it – good or bad. This one is definitely good 🙂




May 16

Little White Denim Jacket

I’ve had a serious hankering for a white denim jacket for a long time. Something to wear with blue jeans that wasn’t blue. Yes I know they say that blue denim with blue denim is hot right now but ugh, I’m not there yet. A couple months ago I ordered some white-ish stretch denim from FabricMart thinking I would make some pants with it, but every time I touched it, it said “jacket”. So I made Butterick 6169, a Lisette pattern. Yes this is me in my socks with Birkinstocks…hey that’s how I live!


I had earlier made a trial version of a size 10 B6169 in a sweatshirt fleece and found it too big, so this time I forged ahead and tried a size 8 with no pattern alterations, and it fits pretty darn good.

B6169 side

The upper back of the sleeves has a few wrinkles, as does that upper back on the right, but this is a casual jacket so it doesn’t bother me at all. I had to skimp on the sleeve hem allowance so if I make this again I’ll lengthen the sleeve, although I wear them rolled up most of the time. Oh – this pattern is known for it’s teeny-tiny pockets so I just enlarged my pocket bags.

B6169 back

The lining is a poly crepe (non-stretch) with stars all over it – it makes me so happy to look at it! Overall I’m so danged pleased with this jacket! It gets a lot of love from other people too, and now I know why 🙂

Oh – if you make this, check out the sew-along here at the Lisette Blog. I lays things out nicely and shows how to bag the lining instead of the fiddly Butterick instructions.

B6169 sleeves rolled

Jan 16

A Feel-Good Shirt: Liesl + Co. Gallery Tunic

I have a Land’s End pull-over tunic that is just so perfect for me – fit, shape, fabric, etc. It’s 100% cotton and has some fancy-ish faux hand stitching around the placket and pockets, it’s just loose enough and long enough to wear with leggings, but not too oversized. I’ve been eyeing tunic patterns looking to make similar to that holy grail tunic. The Liesl + Co. Gallery Tunic/Dress was my first try.

Liesl + Co. Gallery Tunic

I made it up in Robert Kaufman’s Chambray Mini Cannabis Leaf print. Is that a pot leaf on that fabric? Yup – it sure is! It’s all about relieving suffering for people with medical conditions. No, I’m not a pot-head! I’ve just seen too much suffering.

Anyway, the tunic has a few options – band or regular collar, long or cuffed 3/4 sleeves, tunic or dress length. I kept it simple with a band collar but used long sleeves. The pattern is very nice and the instructions are very easy to follow. The sizing and ease is what you would expect from this type of garment. I did my normal pear adjustment and went up a size in the hips.

My only complaint is something that was my fault – it feels a little plain. I should have put the regular collar on it as I don’t think band collar do me any good. It screams at me that it needs patch pockets and yes I can still add those, and I think the sleeves would be better as the cuffed 3/4 length.

Gallery tunic back

Despite the details I should have added, I still love this tunic! It’s so easy to wear and feels great on. I will be making more of these.


Dec 15

Cute Sweatshirt – Papkrika Patterns Jasper

I’m a sweatshirt fan – with hood, without hood, zip or not, short, long…. They’re all good. But they’re not all stylish. This one is – it’s the Jasper Sweater/Dress by Paprika Patterns.

Jasper outside

The pattern offers a few variations – hood w/collar and optional buttons or hoodless w/collar and optional epaulet, hip length or dress length. I made it with no hood, an epaulet and hip length. My fabric was a poly/cotton sweatshirt fleece with a poly cotton jersey buffalo plaid as trim for the epaulet and pocket welts.

My fabric had some “give”, but really no stretch. It wasn’t the cotton jersey the pattern calls for, but I had a long length that I wanted to sew up for something Christmasy, so here we are. The fit is very good, but getting it on and off is a tiny bit tight. I would suggest going up a size if your fabric has no stretch (common sense that I was missing on cutting day, oops). I made a size 4 in the shoulders grading out to a 6 in the hip which is a typical adjustment for my pear shape. Many patterns are too wide for me in the shoulders, but this one seems perfect – Yes!

Paprika Patterns Jasper

I made a couple design changes. First, I cut the collar piece as two pieces instead of one. Then I sewed them together right side to wrong side so I would have the fleecy fuzzy side of the fabric against my neck. OMG – so cozy! I love this! The seam across the top tends to stiffen the upper collar edge a bit more than just folded fabric would be, so keep that in mind if you want to do the same. Then I made the inside of the pocket with the same fuzzy side facing my hands. Love this too! My fabric has the exact same color on both right and wrong side so you can’t see the difference unless you’re very close. The Paprika Patterns site has a fabulous tutorial for making the welt pockets. Seriously – it makes the construction very easy.

Jasper by Paprika Patterns

I really love this sweatshirt! I’ve been wearing it frequently and I get so many nice comments on it. I’m looking forward to making it in a few more fabrics with the other options (hello hood!).


Sep 15

A Japanese Cardi from She Wears the Pants

Japanese pattern books have always attracted my attention. The styles seemed so simple and stylish, but it seemed the books had mostly dress and skirt patterns, so I passed them by. This past spring I ran across She Wears the Pants by Yuko Takada. This book was translated from She Has a Mannish Style (same author of course). Finally, a book with mostly tops meant to be worn with pants.

I noticed the english version of this book (the one I have) has many poor reviews on Amazon. It seems that many thought the book was supposed to be pants patterns…which it’s not. Maybe they could have come up with a better English title? I know I’m quite pleased with the book. It has a style more like the Drape Drape books than the very sweet traditional Japanese pattern books. More edgy and urban, as the extended title says. My only complaint about the book is that the very dark photography makes it difficult to see the style details.

She Wears the Pants Draped Cardigan

My first try from the book was #15, the Draped Cardigan. It consists of 3 main pattern pieces – front/back are one piece (cut 1), the hem section (cut 2), and the sleeve cuffs (cut 2). Because the front and back are one piece, your fabric must be wide enough – at least 63″. My first choice of stash fabric was a few inches short, so I ended up using a pinky/coral cotton interlock, which ended up working very well. I made a large, thinking the styles would run on the small side, but that was wrong. I could have made a medium, no problem. Because of the style, the large looks fine though.

The pattern has pocket bags built into the main front section, then the hem section covers the bags, creating the pockets – very cool! Then the hem section wraps down and around to the back where you are supposed to sew the ends together creating a drape. Except the drape made a big bag-like thing right around my butt…and that was not cool at all. Good thing I basted that part to try it out. I ended up hemming the ends of the hem sections and the rest of the lower back. this created a low front/high back look that I really like.

SWP cardi back flare

SWP cardi back

On the front the buttons and buttonholes go up high and end low, following the curve of the front. I used non-matching buttons to emphasize this, and could see getting very creative there and in other areas of this cardi. It has a lot of potential for color and thread.

SWP cardi front open

I found the instructions pretty adequate. There is no hand-holding like you get from the big 4 pattern companies, but it’s fun having more of a challenge. Tracing the pattern from the big multi-pattern pages takes some time. I picked up some Frixion Highlighters that were awesome to use. First I roughly highlighted the pattern piece and any markings or notes with a highlighter, then did another with another color, and another. Then I traced each piece. The different colors help when tracing overlapping pieces because each piece has its own color. After tracing I ironed the color away so I could do more. I highly recommend this method!


Sep 15

Another redo – Simplicity 1198

I made Simplicity 1198 view E a few months ago. Ugh… Big FAIL! I struggled with the slithery rayon/lycra jersey. Just looking at it the wrong way made it pucker. I made a size XS, but easily could have gone down to the smallest size, a XXS. The thing turned out huge. The neckline was weirdly wide and unflattering. The drape at the right side made a pocket-like thing that hit me at the wrong place making me look 10 lbs heavier. It was just wrong all the way around and into the time-out corner it went.

After my winner redo last week I dug it back out to give it another go. The drape needed to come off so I slit the right side seam from bottom to armpit. That made the drape section fall down at a diagonal. I could have hemmed it and left it that way (with a bit of evening-up) but I wanted something else. Rayon knits tend to hit the tummy area and hang there. Any bit of muffin top ends up with a banner on it. So I thought making a knot with the excess fabric at the side would serve as a bottom band for the top, helping the fabric to flow over the belly instead of sticking there. It worked 🙂

Then I wanted a bit of contrast to break up all the orange so I did a reverse coverstitch around the neckline and sleeve hems, right over the original non-reverse coverstiching I previously did.

I didn’t take up the neckline or take in the sides (other than re-sewing the right side seam with a 1/4″ seam, but the new version fits better everywhere. Must be some kind of magic in that knot!

chango top

Sep 15

Vogue 9112 Cirque dress – redo, and LOVE!

Who said there are no second chances? Not me! Here’s my V9112 Cirque dress redo:

Cirque NEW front

Cirque NEW back

Love, love, love it!!!!

If you’re wondering what the first one looked like here it is…

To do this first I removed the side seam pockets (yes I cried a bit here, I’m a pocket lover). I needed to do this because the next thing was to cut dress horizontally (front and back) about 6″ under the arm hole. I played a bit, holding it up to find the optimal length, finally cutting about 4″ off the bottom part at that cut (the plain blue fabric). Then I took in the side seams on the bottom portion of the dress to match the circumference of the top portion, tapering to nothing at the hem. I sewed the top and bottom together with a 3/4″ seam allowance just in case I wanted more length, but never needed it. Then I took some length off the front hem only – maybe 2″ right in front, tapering to nothing at the sides.

Cirque front detail

Here is the seam I added just under the bust.

Cirque shoulder detail

At the shoulder I tucked under about 1 1/2″ and just sewed it down. I’d like to add some interesting buttons here when I find the right ones. You can see the random tucks and puckers I took with the collar after flipping the edge down. I really love the airiness of the collar this way, rather than standing up more. I see my collar serging is peeking out…it doesn’t do this when I wear it – I promise!

Here’s before and after:

Cirque before & after

Big difference! I can see that the initial lengthening of the dress is not what caused my problem. I’m short waisted and needed some of the fabric taken up and out for it to fit my frame better. That and I like to wear tunics more than dresses!

Don’t give up on your projects that don’t initially work out. It may actually be a jewel in the making!

Sep 15

Sneak Peek at my ASE Push the Envelope Contest Entry

Every fall in Novi Michigan the American Sewing Expo comes to town with vendors, classes, exhibits and contests. Years ago when I owned MeinkeToy I was a vendor. Now I go for fun.

This year I had the bright idea to enter a contest and I chose the Push the Envelope contest sponsored by American & Efird. I have no idea what the prizes are – isn’t that strange? Anyway, I chose that one because when pushed by competition I tend to get “out there” and the idea behind this contest is to “push the envelope”. Also, a requirement is to include tassels, textures and trims in the entry, and since I used to make tassels I thought I was all set.

So I mailed my entry and $10 fee to get a package of items that had to be used at least once in the project. I received:

1. Signature Poly Core Midnight thread
2. Signature Tex 40 Variegated Grey Shades thread
3. Serge-Well Khaki thread
4. 4″ Red YKK Antique Brass Fashion Zipper with ball pull

The threads were easy-peasy to get into pretty much anything. But the zipper! It was adorable, high quality and HEAVY. I swear the zip shouted “BAG”, but I don’t enjoy making bags, so that was out. I wanted a garment, but not a jacket. I wanted something much more out of the ordinary. Here’s a peek at what I made. I’ll post the entire thing, and how I thought this up, after the judging.

4" Antique Red Zipper

This is where my zipper went. And some trim, and some more zips.

Tiny Tassels w/antique button

Here are some tiny tassels on an antique crystal button. And more zips…

It took pretty much FOREVER to make this project. After hand sewing some of the things that could not be machine sewed both my thumbs had tendonitis so bad I had to wear splints for a couple days. I nearly quit! But, I finished and about a week early, too.

Sep 15

Marcy Tilton Vogue 9112 – the Cirque Dress

I finished this creation last month…and haven’t worn it once, despite the hellishly hot weather we’ve been having. I put it on to wear to the DIA (perfect place for a dress like this) but took it off and wore something else, telling Mr. Domestic that I didn’t have a purse to go with it. Maybe I just didn’t feel “right” wearing it. Maybe it’s because I only wear dresses about 3 times a year?

Vogue 9112 Cirque Dress

This is Vogue 9112, also known as the Cirque Dress, by Marcy Tilton. I’ve made several Tilton creations in the past, like here and here, and a few I haven’t posted about (yet?), and love love love them. But this time I’m on the fence.

Vogue 9112

I feel so overwhelmed by so much fabric. Do I look overwhelmed? The plain fabric is a blue linen from FabricMart, the print is also linen from Mood.

Vogue 9112

I made a couple changes when I made this, starting with the collar. The original stands up at attention so much that I felt like I was trying to hide my face, so I flipped it down, showing a bit more skin at the neck area. I also lengthened it at the hem a few inches as I have a fear of billowy dresses blowing up high enough to show my underpants…just don’t want to take that chance. The extra length probably adds to my “too much fabric” feeling.

I’m showing a bit of bra under the arm, so to experiment I’ve pinned the dress up about 1″ at the shoulders (no photo yet) that hides the bra and helps the length too. But I’m thinking of going further… I want to chop this up and shorten it into a tunic length. Thoughts? Stay tuned….

Jun 15

Butterick 6205 Shoulder Tie Dress

Dresses! There are SO many dress patterns, and I’m always seeing so many people sewing dresses. But where are they wearing all these dresses? I have a hard time fitting them into my lifestyle. A typical summer day has me on my knees in the garden, and in the winter, even with tights, a dress is just too cold. But, I’m going to try to wear more…


I picked up Butterick 6205 because looked very easy and very summery with the shoulder ties. It would make a nice tunic to wear with leggings in the fall, or it would even make a nice nightgown. The bodice is lined, which is a nice touch for this simple dress.

According to the size chart I should be in a size medium in this dress. But looking at the finished measurements printed on the pattern this dress has a lot of ease. I cut a size small and had plenty of room. One alteration I did was add some swing to the skirt by slashing the pattern from the bottom hem up and spreading it a bit. I don’t know if I needed to do this or not, but it seemed like a good idea at the time.

I had a floral linen/cotton blend from JoAnn’s that I wanted to use. It’s a bit heavy and a little scratchy (ugh, I know, but I loved the print) so I thought I’d use a light weight white linen/cotton blend for the lining. Because the ties show both sides of the fabric, I pieced the lining fabric with a seam at the top of bodice/beginning of ties so my ties would be floral on both sides.

Butterick 6205 Linen dress (3 of 4)

The dress was a very quick sew. The hardest part was inserting the elastic at the front and back necklines and waist. One omission on the pattern was after sewing the ties it only said to turn them, with no mention of trimming or clipping. I think on these “Fast & Easy” patterns they may want to mention this only because beginners tend to gravitate to fast and easy patterns and may have a bad outcome not knowing they need to trim and clip.

Butterick 6205 Linen dress (2 of 4)

After inserting the waist elastic I tried it on – oops – should have measured the waist depth before cutting. I’m short-waisted, but this dress is even more short waisted than me. Or maybe I tied the ties too high? I tied them where I want them to avoid an ugly underarm gap, so they are staying put. Anyway, I looked ridiculous with my high waisted dress. I pulled out the elastic and took my seam ripper to the casing. The casing is formed by turning the skirt seam allowance up, so I turned it down instead. Then I just omitted the elastic. I would wear a belt anyway so why bother? You can see the seam above my belt if you’re looking for it, but most people wouldn’t notice. Also, I made a mistake cutting and ended up with a seam up the back skirt. No biggie.

Butterick 6205 Linen dress (1 of 4)

I like the dress, and I hope to get some good wear out of it. It’s very comfortable and with the bodice lining and blouson style I could go bra-less and nobody would know 🙂

Butterick 6205 Linen dress (4 of 4)

Yes, I have a photo-bombing dog! He gets silly when I get my camera remote out!