Sewing Classes and Lessons

Monday, May 22, 2017

Burda Style 3-2017-124 Maxi Skirts


I love maxi-skirts!  They let you really show off a beautiful fabric.  Although there are lots of patterns available for maxi-skirts, you'll notice that many do not have pockets.  I don't know why that is, as pockets are so essential!  When I got my March issue of Burda Style magazine, I couldn't help but notice this skirt in the plus section:


The line drawing showed that it was a simple design but with a few features that I find desirable: pockets, a combination drawstring and elastic waist, and long side slits.  I find that a combining a drawstring with elastic helps you to cinch the waist to just the right snugness.  And side slits help you to move freely and provide extra ventilation on warm days.  So, even though these are small details, they can really make the difference between whether you end up wearing an item or not!


I made this pattern three times out of different fabrics from Fabric Mart for their Summer Skirt Challenge- one ITY knit, one rayon gauze, and one french terry knit.  My first one was this ITY knit in a tropical leaf pattern that I got in one of the pre-cut fabric selections.  My first piece from this fabric is here.  I think that large prints are great for maxi-skirts.  This skirt version is the dressiest one of the three that I made, and I can definitely wear it to work.  


When making it, I discovered that the slit was really high!  I moved it down about 4", so the slit would only go to my knee level, not thigh level.



My next version was out of this Kaleidoscope Blocks French Terry.
French terry is much thicker and more like a sweatshirt fabric, so I wasn't sure if it would have the appropriate drape for a long skirt like this, but I decided to try it anyway.


I centered the blocks and matched the dark stripes at the sides.  It's really comfortable, and great for a cool summer night, as the french terry is much warmer than the ITY knit.


My last version of this skirt, and probably my favorite of the three is made from a striped rayon crinkled gauze (sorry it is sold out!).

This one was also the most challenging as the crinkled gauze tended to stretch out of shape very easily.  That made matching the stripes at the side seams particularly challenging!



To stabilize the pockets so that they wouldn't stretch and grow,  I stitched 1/4" wide twill tape into the pocket seams by feeding it along the seamline when serging.


So, the pocket ends up looking like this picture below.  Now, even if I put my phone in my pocket, it won't stretch out of shape.


The waistband is a separate piece, which at first I thought was not necessary, but then I realized, that is how to create the opening for the drawstring.  Sew the short ends together, leaving an opening at the front, like this:

Then, after attaching it to the skirt, feed both the elastic and drawstring through this hole, eliminating any need for a buttonhole or eyelet opening.


Do you know what they call the little ends of shoelaces that keep the cord from fraying?  They are called "aglets".  You can purchase these on Ebay or Etsy, but a quick little way to make your own is to just wrap a short piece of scotch tape around the ends. After wrapping it a few times, just cut the homemade aglet to whatever length you would like!


I'm pretty sure that this won't be the last skirt that I make from this pattern- it goes together so quickly, and can be made out of woven or knit fabrics.  It does take quite a bit of fabric though- I would allow 2-1/2 to 3 yards per skirt.


These photos are all taken in my garden- which is my other obsession, especially this time of year!  I love flowers, flower arranging, and just getting some fresh air after a long winter. 

Happy Sewing!
Ann

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Mini-Wardrobe for the Windy City

My daughter lives in Chicago, about 3 hours away from me, and sewing for her long distance has been a challenge because I've really needed her to be present for fitting.  Of course, everyone dreams of finding a pattern that will fit perfectly right out of the envelope, but that becomes even more important when you are making something for someone when that person can't be there in person!


In my quest to find such a pattern, I decided to try out Cashmerette patterns.  These patterns are designed for sizes 12-28 and have three cup size options for C/D, E/F, and G/H- one of the only companies that caters to larger sizes and includes variations for cup sizes!  I was very excited to see if this could be the "one" that I've been searching for!


I started out with The Upton Dress- a fit and flare dress with neckline and skirt variations.  We decided to go with a black and white color scheme, and I had this fantastic graphic cotton print with big black and white circles and a single flower per panel.  I've probably had this fabric for 10 years, and could never figure out what to do with it, but it's time had come!  I could envision it in this dress!  I decided on the pleated skirt version,  and I only had enough fabric for the skirt portion. But I did have a black and white floral stretch twill that I thought could be a nice pairing. Because I was using a stretch fabric for the bodice, I cut the dress size one size smaller than indicated, and it fit perfectly!  Here's the back- you can see that it fits so nicely!


I was able to eliminate the back zipper.  Otherwise, I made no changes. The directions are very thorough, but since I wasn't using a zipper, I used these instructions for lining a sleeveless dress with no zipper .  They are very clever, and make adding a lining quick and easy.

So, the next pattern to try was the Concord T-Shirt.  This is a real workhorse of a pattern with sleeve, neckline and length variations.  This really could be the one and only t-shirt pattern that she would ever need!  However, this one tends to be very close fitting, so I chose the size larger than recommended for her full bust/cup measurement, and I'm glad that I did.  Here is the longest length of the shirt with the 3/4 sleeves.  The bottom is finished with separate hem facing pieces which make it easier to get the curved hem to lay smoothly.


This fabric was one of Fabric Mart's pre-cut specials, so you might recognize it!  You can see that the fit on the bust is good, but the sleeves are a little snug.  This is the scoop neck version.   How great is the fit in the bust, neck and shoulders?!?  If you are full busted and have used commercial patterns, you have probably found that if you make the size that corresponds with your bust measurement, the shoulders and neck tend to be way too big.  Therefore, you either need to adjust the bust, or adjust the neck/shoulders, and getting that right can be tricky.  This is not so with the Cashmerette patterns!  They have done the work for you.


I tried it again with a larger size on the sleeves, and that was a much more comfortable fit. This version was made with the high neck, middle length and short sleeves, using an ITY knit from Fabric Mart.  The background is at Ipsento 606 in Chicago.  In fact all of the photos are around the 606- a public park made from a reclaimed rail line above the city streets that offers Chicagoans a place to stroll, jog, walk the dogs, and enjoy art! 



Lastly, I thought she could use a nice basic tank top, so I tried the Springfield Top.  This is designed for woven fabrics, and the finished garment measurements only included 1-1/4" of ease, which sounded a little dubious to me.  But, I made a muslin first, using the size recommended based on her full bust/cup size measurements, and it was too small.  But oddly enough, it was only too small in the back.  The front fit beautifully.  So, I did a broad upper back adjustment using this tutorial.  I've never done one of these before, but it was definitely the right fix.  It added about 2", but only in the back.



Here's a view of the 606 from the ground below.  The access points from the street level are all beautifully landscaped as well.  This tank top is made from a polyester peachskin that was also in the pre-cut selections.  The original pattern includes a band across the bottom and separate pieces in the back, so that you could do pattern mixing or color blocking.  But I just joined those pieces together to have a one piece front and back. 




So, she now has a mini wardrobe for summer life in Chicago in black and white!  She also likes to sew, so I'm going to give her these patterns pre-tested, so that she can confidently sew them up without fitting worries!  Of course, fabrics all have differing properties, so she'll still have to make decisions based on the stretch of each fabric she chooses, but having a baseline for each pattern style will make life a lot simpler.

If you have a full bust, I highly recommend trying the Cashmerette pattern line!  You may still have to do some tweaking, like I did, but not much.  And if you are in Chicago, look for my daughter on the 606 and say "Hi!"

Happy Sewing!
Ann

Saturday, April 1, 2017

My Sewing Staycation


I had 10 days off of work in March, and instead of taking a fabulous vacation, I took a sewing staycation, and I got a  Spring mini-wardrobe done!  Here's probably my favorite of the bunch:


There are so many new trends that I was itching to try, and I'd been collecting some patterns for them.  Flounces, cropped pants, and asymmetrical hemlines are all trends that I wanted to try out this Spring. I had two woven prints in four yard cuts- one in white and grey, and one in blue and black- all from FabricMart Fabrics precut fabric selections.  So, these formed the basis for my tops and then I added in some solids for the bottoms to go with them


I thought of the white and grey print as my "test" fabric, as I liked the blue and black print more.  So, I started out testing Vogue 9067 which is a very loose fitting top with hem and sleeve flounces. The sleeve flounces are doubled, so you don't have to hem them.  I made a size smaller than my measurements would have indicated, and it is still quite voluminous.  This was really easy to sew, and if you like this look, rest assured that it doesn't take nearly as much fabric as the recommendations tell you!

I do like it, but wasn't sure that I liked it enough to make it out of the blue and black print.  So, on to test top #2 from Butterick 6456, a top with multiple sleeve options and a front pleat.  I chose the mid length sleeves with the flounces- they have just enough flare to be fashionable, but they are not long enough to get in the way.


This style I liked a lot better than the first top pattern.  The only downside is narrow-hemming that small circular flounce for the sleeve was a bear! I also made these pants from a white ponte knit, using the pattern from Pamela's Patterns- Pants Perfected.  This is an interesting pattern because it includes a DVD that you can watch on how to do things like fly zippers and mock welt pockets.  Pamela does a great job of explaining things, and her sizing is very generous, which is great for larger ladies.  I really liked the crotch curve on this pattern, and applied the curve to my next pairs of pants as well.

So, here is Butterick 6456 in the blue and black print.   Sometimes I can get away without doing a full bust adjustment, but in making the test version, I could see that I needed one, as well as a couple of other adjustments- shortening the v-neck and a forward shoulder adjustment.  Here you can see the difference that making these adjustments made:


See how the lower front curves upward in the grey and white print?  And see how it's pulling a little bit at the armholes?  Doing the full bust adjustment fixed both of those problems.  The white and grey one is definitely still wearable, and probably no one but me would notice, but I feel better having done it.  I have however changed my mind, and now prefer the grey and white print, so I wish I had reversed the order in sewing them!

For the cropped, slightly flared pants, I used a light blue stretch suiting fabric and Simplicity 8264.  I'm not sure if these pants really work with the top- they are both pretty bold.  I'd be interested to hear your opinions on this. For fitting, I laid the pattern for the back pants piece crotch curve over the Pamela's patterns version, and blended Pamela's curve into this pattern. It worked great, and I think that this will be the way that I can get a better fit with other pants patterns, but still incorporate the details like leg circumference and flare from the other patterns.  I like the gentle flare on the legs and the pockets on this one, but I don't care for the center back zipper.  I would move that to the side if I make these again.  Also, be warned- I think that these need a stretch fabric, even though the pattern doesn't indicate that. 

I still had plenty of the blue and black fabric left, so I chose one more pattern- McCalls 7579.


 This is a pattern for both a top and close fitting pants from Nicole Miller.  In the pattern, the top is actually cut into many different sections,but I didn't think that the seamlines would be noticeable with my printed fabric.  So, I loosely pieced the pattern pieces together on my cutting table, as well as I could, and then traced a one piece front and a one piece back. It worked, and was a whole lot easier than sewing all of those sections together!  I also simplified the pants by extending the upper edges 1-1/2 inches, and then making an elastic waist instead of a separate waistband and zipper.  I used ponte knit for these too.   You can see the interesting pant seam lines a little in the photo.  I do see that they are bunching up around the knees in the photo, so I think that means I need to tighten it up in that section so there isn't excess fabric.


I have just taken out the excess fabric on one leg, and that was definitely the fix for the bunching problem.  Here is a comparison- you can see the looser leg is shorter after sitting, and the tighter leg stays the correct length.  I will fix both eventually, but wanted to show the difference!😉

So, here is everything all together.   I already wore three of the outfits this week, so I'm pretty sure I'll get a lot of use out of all of these. 


I really enjoyed my sewing staycation and feel refreshed and energized.  Better than a spa!  Have you ever tried a sewing staycation?


Happy Sewing!
Ann 
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