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 🙂




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

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!


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!

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.

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