Jun 15

A Gauzy Summer Top: Butterick 6172

I love it when new patterns are released. Some are hits right away, some look great in the envelope photos but the finished garments are notoriously bad, some look silly in the envelope photo but turn out to be nice.

I have to admit I bought Butterick 6172 as a challenge to myself. I’m usually a fan of uneven hems and layers, but this one looked like it went too far. What’s with the tail? But the pattern had some nice lines and I thought I could do something with it so into my JoAnn’s shopping cart it went.

Butterick 6172

I bought some lovely red linen gauze from FabricMart that was too sheer to wear on its own, making it perfect for a layered top. I love love love the fabric! The day after it arrived I found an Eileen Fisher scarf at Macy’s that was made from nearly identical fabric, making me love it all the more.

I wanted to make view D with the layers. But I only wanted 2 layers to avoid a bulky look and to stay cooler. I decided to use the bottom layer and the middle layer. The tail had to go so I used the back hem shape from views A & B, and I wanted short sleeves like view B.

Working with the gauze was easy on the straight seams and edges, but because of the very sheer stripes the rounded areas were a beast. I got the sleeves on but they looked horrible. I could not get them right so I chopped them off and went with a sleeveless look. That left me with BIG underarm gaps….eeew. So the top went to the time-out corner for about a week. Then I thought I’d ask for some help so I wore it to my local ASG meeting where they suggested I piece in some fabric under the arms to bring that area up for better coverage. I traced the lower armscye to make a double layer moon-shaped piece. I topstitched the edge just like the top and stitched over the original armscye topstitching to attach it.  It worked and gosh if it doesn’t look like it’s supposed to be like that. Many thanks to the ASG ladies!

Butterick 6172 Gauze Top (2 of 5)


I left the side seams open for a few inches on the left side only (it’s the lower side) for some nice movement when I walk.

Butterick 6172 Gauze Top (4 of 5)

The back is a nice length for butt-hiding, no need for a tail!

Butterick 6172 Gauze Top (1 of 5)

Butterick 6172 Gauze Top (5 of 5)

Yup – I love it and want to try the other views!

Jun 15

McCalls 7093 Raglan Top

Ahhhhh, here I am trying to catch up on posting…we’ll see how it goes. I get into moods where I just don’t want to sit and type anything. I’d rather be sewing, so that’s what I’ve been doing.

A couple days ago I finished McCalls 7093. I like the shape of the pattern and how it lends itself to color-blocking. It has variations for pockets and slits and is long enough to wear over leggings (or leggins…which always makes me giggle).

I cut the front and back from a multicolor rayon challis from FabricMart. The fabric is wonderful – drapey and substantial enough to make sewing and cutting very easy. It also hides pretty much anything you spill on it. I took these photos after eating BBQ chicken that landed on my chest, and cooking up a batch of strawberry rhubarb jam (splatter city). The sleeves are a woven poly/rayon crinkle.

McCalls 7093

No, I didn’t get all creative with color-blocking. I really wanted to make the back all black but in the summer I hate wearing black backed tops – way too hot in the sun. The black sleeves will be bad enough. I made view A with the side front slits. I love the slits and the way the top moves in the breeze – it feels wonderful.

I really dislike the sleeves. There are shoulder darts that are just awkward. Doing the shoulder darts in the crinkle fabric was a disaster. See my right shoulder point in the photo above? The left one has a point too, it’s just harder to see. I sewed them a few times, even cut new pieces but nope, they are just awkward. I normally sew a fine (non-pointy or dimpled) dart.

M7093 back


I made a size 14 but took it in above the waist a couple inches. There is a bit of an underarm gap but I’ve had worse. It probably would have been better to make a 12 and just flare it out to a 14 over the hip.

It’s a great top for casual stay at home wear (playing in the yard with the dog wearing garden clogs and very old faded capris? Yes!), I doubt I’ll wear it out anywhere. Will I make it again? Maybe…I’d love to see it in a linen, but only if the awkward sleeve dart has been resolved.

Mar 15

Jacket Express Craftsy Class

Over on Pattern Review there was a sew-along for people enrolled in the Sew Better, Sew Faster, Garment Industry Secrets Craftsy Class by Janet Pray. In the class Janet takes you through the construction of her Jacket Express pattern, while teaching you industry techniques to improve and speed up your sewing skills. We learned things like pinless sewing, burrito technique for yokes and cuffs, topstitching and cutting tips. The class was well worth my time and money because I’m finding that I’m automatically using these techniques in my sewing without thinking about it, and yes, I’m sewing faster!

I used a grey linen for my jacket. I only had 2 yards so I made a collarless version, still keeping the same linen for the facings, yoke and pockets. I could have switched things up with another fabric but I wanted a clean, simple look. To make it collarless I just copied the shape of the neckline to make a facing (a technique I learned in another Craftsy class: Underneath It All with Linda Lee). Then I attached that facing piece to the front facing and I was good to go with the rest of the instructions. You do have to be exact with the measurements around that curve for a nice, clean look.

Jacket Express linen

I really loved doing the topstitching! I used two threads through one needle of a light grey poly thread. I admit a good part of my success was from using a topstitch needle from Superior Threads – what a nice needle – and my old Bernina 1230, which makes such a beautiful stitch.

Jacket Express linen back1

I adjusted the fit by taking in the waist a small amount, and I expanded the hip area as much as the side seam allowances would allow, then adjusted the facing the same amount. The upper back looks a bit baggy, but that room is nice when I put the jacket on over something thicker or when I need some extra movement room.

Jacket Express linen side


Recently Craftsy put up another Janet Pray jacket construction class, The Motor City Express in Sew Better, Sew Smarter, Smart Construction. I nabbed that one when it was on sale for $19.99, and I’m looking forward to making it soon.

Mar 15

I really wanted to like it – the Archie Shirt

Sometimes no matter how much you want something to work out for you, it just doesn’t. I had the highest hopes for this Archie Shirt by Sew Tina Givens. Tina Givens designs flowing, Lagenlook fashions, and while I’m not really a Lagenlook wearer myself, I do appreciate the style and I’m not afraid to incorporate the styles into my own personal style.

I chose the Archie Shirt because it is shown in what looks like heavier fabric vs the mostly linen or lightweight cotton styles of the other patterns. It’s almost a jacket look and similar to something you may see from the Tilton sisters.

Archie Shirt

The first thing I did with the pattern was grade it down a bit. The finished measurements I took of the original were…huge. This wasn’t surprising, as the overall silhouette of these styles is quite big. But I need a good shoulder fit or I get lost in the fabric and look like I’m wearing my Dad’s clothes. So, grading done, I cut it out and sewed it up in a soft flannel. And here I am…

TG Archie


It just does nothing for me. It would be better in a lighter weight/color, but that wouldn’t solve the problems of a very weird armscye shape (major fabric bunching there) and that collar…. oh my that collar is huge and just not right. I went over the pattern a few times making sure I cut it correctly and sewed it on properly. It’s just awkward. The darts could have been sewn lower, that is my fault for not adjusting that, and the pattern calls for mostly raw edges (including the collar), but flannel raw edges just don’t appeal to me so I used regular, boring finished edges for the most part. Would the raw edge finish help the collar? Perhaps, a little, but the shape would still be, well, awkward.

There are some things I like about the pattern – like the zig-zag sewn darts.

TG Archie-3

And pockets…

TG Archie-5

My contribution to the design was to use the fabric selvedge as trim on the back yoke seam (and here you can see how huge the back of the collar is):

TG Archie-4

The pattern also calls for patches of trim fabric sewn in a few places. I skipped most but added this one at the back collar. I used the same fabric for the pockets.

I could go back and try to re-work the pattern by re-drawing the shoulder/sleeve and the collar. But I doubt I will. It’s just not for me. I do think this pattern could work for someone with different proportions – larger upper body with more substantial shoulders perhaps?

Feb 15

What Happened?

Yes, it’s been a while! I got so busy doing the PR Sewing Bee, then the holidays, and then ….. Ok, here is what happened with the Sewing Bee.

Round 3’s challenge was to make the Winter Street Dress in two knit fabrics. Here is my entry, done in a puckered poly knit and a stretch faux leather.

Winter Street Dress

I added the keyhole neckline (it’s bound with the stretch faux leather), changed the front skirt pleats, added a waist yoke and changed the rear pleats to gathers. I like it and it fits perfectly.

It was good enough to bring me forward to Round 4: pants, made with a non-stretch fabric. OMG!!!! I had only made stretch leggings, yoga pants, and non-stretch pj pants before this.

I knew fit would be scrutinized so I started by trying on all the pants in my closet. I had a pair of Calvin Klein wool trousers that fit very nicely. I was going to trace them off for a pattern but noticed a small hole on one butt cheek area. Not a good area for a repair! I took the pants apart to use as a pattern for my challenge pants.

I decided to build on my very successful A-line skirt idea, this time with the idea of Pantalons (French for pants) (pants is another word for underwear in the UK so I wasn’t going to use the word on mine). I went with a street fashion style in a blue hemp canvas-type fabric from my stash. I used a Clorox bleach pen to bleach them, and a Sharpie marker to mark on them. They’re fun!

Pantalon pants

How did it all shake out? I pretty much came in 2nd. Not bad…we started with 140 entries and went down to um, 11 or 12 in the final round…that was waaay further than I thought I’d go. I won an awesome scissors set from Pattern Review, too!

Dec 14

Butterick 5891 using men’s shirts

For round #2 of Pattern Review’s Surprise Sewing Bee we were to make an adult garment using up to 5 men’s button down shirts. I chose to make Katherine Tilton’s Butterick 5891, the vest option, but with sleeves.

PR mens shirts before

These are the shirts I used. The rayon/linen blend on the right made up the majority of the garment, with pieces of the other two used as facings and embellishment. We were allowed a small amount of other fabric for embellishment also, so I used a hand dyed wool gauze to make reverse applique circles, and red silk dupioni for bias trims and a small pleated portion on the hip area.

PR mens shirt (7 of 12)


It was a blast using the mens shirts! I didn’t win this round, but the competition was fierce and I was quite pleased to be chosen to move ahead with 24 others.

You can see my contest entry here.

PR mens shirt composite

Dec 14

I won, I won, I won, I won!!!!!!!

I won

Yes! My A-line skirt won the first round of the Pattern Review Surprise Sewing Bee!!!!! There were 140 awesome entries and I am quite humbled. But I’m also quite thrilled as the prize was a box full of gift wrapped books from Roost Books, including Love at First Stitch written by this round’s guest judge Tilly Walnes. The books I received are all sewing related and are just lovely! Roost also included a big tote bag with their cute birdie logo on it. Love, love, love! Thank you Pattern Review and Roost Books!


PR books prize

Nov 14

An A-Line Skirt

Aline front

Over at PatternReview they’re running a contest called the “Surprise Sewing Bee”. Each week there is an assignment that the contestants sew up, photograph and write about. Then they are judged….and some are eliminated. This is week one, the assignment is to sew an A-line skirt, and of course I had to join in. I love entering things like this because it gets me to think outside my cozy little box.

I started off thinking of just making an A-line with something different. How about a front zip? I cut it out and went to bed. Woke up at 4:30 am thinking duh, am I thinking? It’s an A-LINE… sounds like a train route…or a subway route… remember to mind the gap.

So I cut out a denim skirt using the Maria Denmark Yasmine Yoke Skirt pattern. I like this one because it sits lower on the hips with a curved waist band. I’m very short between my waist and ribs, so normal waistbands end up binding my rib cage – ouch. Plus, this pattern has pockets – yay!

I was going to applique some train tracks on the lower hem edge but the time involved with that was just too much. Instead I found a quilting fabric from my stash that looks like tracks – black and off-white slightly squiggly uneven stripes. I made a double-sided interfaced band to extend the hem but didn’t attach it like a normal band. I hemmed the denim as normal with my coverstitch machine. Then I sewed the band inside as a second, lower layer hem. It almost looks as if it’s an extended lining (this fabric would make terrible lining fabric). With the two layers to the hem there is a “gap” as in “mind the gap”. Then to both accent this and to add further reinforcement to keep the band from turning back I used yellow 6-strand embroidery floss to make a warning line like you see at the edge of a subway platform. I used the same floss to make dashes at the pockets, too. Aline closeup

A train needs a route, so I made some bias tape with some red chambray (same fabric used for the pocket linings and waist facings). I wrote out the word A-line with the bias tape, fused it down and stitched each looong edge. It circles the bottom of the skirt – makes a complete route. The “i” is dotted with a doubled up red and white button.Aline inside

The contest requires a lining, but this pattern doesn’t include one, so I fashioned my own out of some steel grey poly lining. The lining has a rolled edge hem and is made to be the length of the denim portion of the skirt (I didn’t want the tracks part lined).Aline back

Now I know that most people looking at this won’t know what in the world it says (Aline? her name maybe?), but who cares? This was so much more fun to make than a normal skirt, and it’s one of a kind. It’s a win!Aline dog

Oct 14

How fun is this? Butterick 5891

Butterick 5891 Katherine Tilton Pattern

I made myself a little jacket! This is a Katherine Tilton pattern, Butterick 5891.

It started with the fabric – it’s a home dec fabric from IKEA in 100% cotton. It has a woodcut style koi print. I wanted to make a project inspired by Japanese Ukiyo-e style, which was a popular genre of woodblock prints and paintings from the 17th through 19th centuries. You can now find it interpreted in modern works. My son is a Japanese major so I’m constantly learning interesting tidbits about Japan and the Japanese culture.

I thought the Katherine Tilton jacket would be fabulous for this print, but I didn’t want the whole thing to be THE PRINT. I found a few coordinating fabrics from my stash and narrowed it down to a grey cotton (I bought it long ago, it was a drapery fabric!) and a red linen for some contrast.

The jacket was very easy to put together and sew. I made a size 12, wanting it to be a bit over-sized. The only alteration I made was to lengthen the sleeves. The pattern shows just longer than 3/4 length but not quite full length….hmmm, I wanted full length that I could roll up. I think I added about 2.5″.

I used Pro-Sheer Elegance Medium interfacing on the front facings (oh my, such nice stuff) that ended up being just perfect. The collar of the jacket is meant to be kind of floppy and just hangs as it wants to, it’s part of the eclectic style of the jacket. With my linen, it likes to fold open. With a stiffer fabric it would probably stick up. Either way, I like it! Both sides of the collar fabric will show, so keep that in mind of you make this one. Also, both sides of the “points” at the lower sides by the hem show as you walk, too.

Koi inside

Inside the back: bias trim added to collar seam, selvedge edge finish of back seam, hand stitching.

I didn’t want a regular seam finish to show at the collar seam, so I made some bias tape from the koi fabric to cover it up. I cut the back pattern piece of the grey fabric along the selvedge edge for an interesting seam look with a mock flat felled seam.

Once it was all together, it looked good…but still needed something to make it POP. I added hand stitching using cotton embroidery floss. The designs mirror the water ripples in the print. I used both an off-white and a red.

Koi circle close

koi front

It looks crooked here, but only because of my poor hanging skills. The jacket hangs very straight in real life!

Koi side



Oct 14

Simplicity 1318 Kimono Jacket

Kimono jackets are everywhere right now! I snatched this pattern up as soon as it came out a couple months ago. Right away I knew what fabric I wanted to use – a poly/lycra crepe from my stash. The fabric has a bit of stretch but that’s not required for this pattern that calls for silky lightweight wovens. I had my eye on view C (longer style), but when I laid out my fabric I could see that was just a dream. I had just enough fabric to make the main body of view D but needed a contrast fabric for the contrast bands. I also didn’t care for the sleeves of view D  –  slightly curved with no contrast trim – so I trimmed off the curve and cut a piece of trim to fit the sleeves. The trim fabric I used was a plain poly lining that matched the beige in the floral print.

kimono side


The pattern was very easy to make, but it took me weeks to make – why? The trim is stitched to the jacket, folded over and hand sewn down on the inside. I’m not against hand sewing – I actually enjoy it if I’m in the mood. But I guess I wasn’t really in the mood for it. The jacket sat waiting for me to finish it…

kimono front

Finally I did! I really love this jacket. It’s soft, light and “floaty”. I’d still like to make the longer version, some day.

kimono pocket