Sunday, June 18, 2017

A Fun Dress: McCall's 7562

After seeing how wonderful McCall's 7562 turned out on Dressmaking Debacles, I decided I would give it a try.  It is not a silhouette I would normally choose for myself.  It is a very loose fitting dress with a split kimono type sleeve which means there is a lot of fabric under the arms by the bust area, an area that I do not want to emphasize.

When I made the muslin, it looked like a hospital gown to me.  It was so huge and long!  I picked a Medium based on my measurements but I eventually took in 4 inches total from the sides which put me into a Small.  I also shortened it by 6 inches!  (I am short but I normally shorten by 3 inches.)  Muslins are usually very unattractive garments so I did not let the hospital gown look dissuade me.  I had purchased this beautiful fabric at NY Elegant in NYC (40th Street between 7th and 8th Avenues).  I love the print and colors.  It is a drapey rayon which I felt would be perfect for this dress.

Despite my misgivings about the silhouette for my figure, I do not regret going outside my comfort zone - something I need to do more often.  It is a very comfortable dress, perfect for those hot humid days.  I do love the split sleeves with ties.  I also love that it has inseam pockets - yay!

I think the shirt tail hem adds another element of fun and interest to this dress.  I hemmed it to knee level at the front:

But the higher shaped sides add a little pizzazz to it:

As recommended by others who have made this pattern, I omitted the center front neckline placket.  I also raised the neckline all around by 1 7/8 inches.  

What do you think of my beautiful necklace?  It was lovingly hand made by my very dear sewing friend, Vivian, who gave it to me as a gift some time ago.   She is one talented lady!  Her eye for what beads go with other beads is unbelievable.  It is the perfect necklace for this dress.  

Here you can see the very loose fitting design of this dress:

The pattern includes a neck binding piece that you attach and slipstitch but I decided to use bias tape. It is the prepackaged single fold bias tape you can find at JoAnn's.  I like the clean finish of it.

On my figure, even though the dress was loose fitting, I found I still needed to do a full bust adjustment to make it hang properly.  The full bust adjustment also reduced some of the extra fabric under the sleeve since I had to add a dart.   You can find instructions on how to make this alteration in the book by Palmer Pletsch, Fit for Real People.  The full bust adjustment always has the effect of lowering the dart too much for me so I must either redraw the dart to point to the correct spot or I must raise the whole dart.  In this case, I redrew the dart since there was no room to raise it any further due to the kimono type sleeve.  Since I butchered the pattern so much, I traced the altered pattern onto fresh paper.  

I love this dress and look forward to wearing it often during the hot humid days of summer!

Happy Sewing!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Fun with Sleeves: M7542

McCall's is running an online contest where contestants are challenged to create pattern M7542.  It is a simple basic bodice with several different versions of sleeves.  In some circles, I have read that it is the "Year of the Sleeve."  I thought it would be fun to participate so I made Version D with the flounced sleeve.

I used a striped blue and white cotton shirting fabric.  I decided to add my own little twist by lining the flounce in a solid blue cotton poplin.  I also added piping above the flounce in the same solid blue color.

McCall's M7542, Version D

It's been some time since I have made a woven top (I usually prefer knit tops) and I do need more tops in my wardrobe so this contest was just what I needed to get me working on another top.  The pattern's bodice has a boxy shape which I normally avoid but I do like how this top turned out.  

In case anyone is interested in lining the flounce, following are the steps:

First, for each sleeve I cut the flounce in each fabric of course:

I hand basted them right sides together and machine stitched with a 1/4 inch seam allowance.  I hand basted because I wanted to make sure the pieces did not shift as I handled them.  Using the 1/4 seam allowance meant I did not need to trim the seam allowance and it would make it easier for me to press the seam open.

The trickiest part was pressing the seam open.  I pulled the circles apart at the small center opening and inserted my Dritz seam roll.  I placed the seam over the end of the seam roll and pressed with a steam iron 2 inches at a time.  I did not worry about wrinkling the rest of the flounce.  I could always press out any wrinkles later.  For this important step, what mattered was making sure the seam was pressed open.

Once all of the seam allowance was pressed open, I turned it inside out from the center opening.  I pressed the edge flat making sure that the edge did not favor one or the other side of the fabric.  

I basted the center opening closed and continued with constructing the sleeve treating the flounce as one.  Once the flounce was attached to the sleeve, I pondered how to best finish the inside.  I could serge it but I did not want the serged edge to show when I lifted my arm or should the wind blow.  My solution was to cut a bias strip and bind the raw edge.

For the back closure, the pattern's instructions tells you to use a hook and eye.  However, I thought using a button and thread chain would create a more polished look.  I used a light blue button I found in my stash but I may change that in the future.

The cotton shirting has a very tight weave which made it difficult to ease the sleeves.  There is one sleeve I am not completely happy with so I will unstitch and re-attach that one (the left one).  I did not have time to finesse the sleeve because the deadline to enter the contest was today, May 7, and I needed to finish in enough time to have photos taken before my photographer had to leave.  I may make this pattern again with one of the other sleeves.  Perhaps I will make it in another cotton shirting or a fabric with a looser weave.  I may also add waist darts for more shaping but I will do so only if I use a solid color fabric or a busy all over print.  The options are endless and that's what so great about sewing!

Happy Sewing!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

A Close Call

Faye from Faye's Sewing Adventures is currently having a Tops That Pop sew along.  I decided to participate so I made the below red and navy striped top.  The fabric is a cotton jersey purchased from Mood.  The fabric is medium weight and has stretch but not very much stretch.  I was originally inspired by the top made by Lori from Girls in the Garden.  It is just so cute on her!

Self-drafted knit top with Ginger Skinny Jeans
I originally made a simple fitted T-shirt top but when I put it on, I discovered that I cut the armholes in too deep (think narrow shoulder adjustment gone wild).  This resulted in the sleeve being too tight along the sleep cap and there was pulling across my upper chest since the sleeves were pulling out at that area.  The top was uncomfortable.  (This is a self-drafted pattern.  I made a mistake - oops!)

As I was considering whether to declare it a wadder, I realized that I could save the top by making it a cold shoulder top.  The armhole was just right for that type of top.  So I unstitched the sleeve cap of the sleeves and folded it down.  I basted down the sleeve cap and then topstitched from the front along one of the navy stripes.  I then cut away the excess.    For the sleeve hem, I wanted as much sleeve as possible so I folded it up by only 1/4 inch and topstitched from the right side.  This alteration alleviated the pulling across the sleeve and upper chest and now this top was suddenly a fun on trend top.

Jersey fabric curls to the wrong side and that is what the fabric was doing along the exposed armhole edge.  To prevent this from happening, I fused a strip of fusible tape along the armhole edge.  I did not want to make the armhole go in any deeper by turning it under so instead, I used a decorative stitch along the edge to further stabilize the armhole and also help keep the tape in place should it ever loosen in the wash.

I used a strip of the same fabric for the neck finish and I attached it using the technique described in a previous post.  For my figure, I always need to sew darts even for knits so I used the method described in a previous post, Sewing Darts in Knits.  I used a ball point needle and a stitch length close to 3.0.  I serged the side seams and neck band.

This top was not the look I originally wanted but I am nevertheless happy with how it turned out.  Sometimes mistakes bring about the best results!

Happy Sewing!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Ginger Skinny Jeans: A Wearable Muslin

Well, I am happy to say that I have had a great experience with the Ginger Skinny Jeans pattern by Closet Case Patterns  The muslin discussed in my previous post has resulted in a wearable muslin.

The pattern is well-drafted and the details are true to ready-to-wear.  Heather Lou, the designer and founder of Closet Case Patterns, most definitely did her research.  Despite the fact that I mostly live in jeans, there are details in ready-to-wear jeans that I never even thought of until I started working with this pattern.  Not all ready-to-wear jeans are exactly the same of course but when I pulled out my old Gap jeans, I noticed similarities with the Ginger jeans pattern.

One thing was the stitching at the top of the side seam that runs for about 6 inches or so.  Another was how the back pockets curve on the sides of the pockets closest to the center back seam.  Working with this pattern results in a ready-to-wear style of jeans but better because you make it to your liking and fit.

Below you can see the topstitching details and shaping of the back pockets:

Here are my old Gap jeans:

I knew I would be making adjustments to the pattern so I traced the leg patterns so as not to butcher the original pattern.  For this muslin, I took in the side seams and inseams since I have very thin thighs:

I have also determined there are a few more adjustments I need to make on my next pair:

1.  Take in the waistband just a little bit.  The waistband is a little loose and I like waistbands to hug me just a little.

2.  Make a large calf adjustment.  Once I get up from sitting down, they get "stuck" on my calves and then I have to pull them down.  I have the same problem with ready-to-wear but I won't have this problem with my next pair of jeans.

3.  I have excess fabric below the derriere.   There are a lot of suggestions out there as to how to remedy this.  I will be researching and pondering how best to proceed.

I have a good quality medium weight denim I purchased at Mood a long time ago which I will use to make my next pair of jeans.  But now I am in the mood for working with a different fabric...maybe stretch corduroy.  It is still chilly here in the Northeast so if I get started on them soon, maybe I could wear them a couple of times.  We'll see!

Happy sewing!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Ginger Skinny Jeans: A Muslin

Thanks again everyone for your warmth and heartfelt good wishes!  Well, I am finally sewing again.  It felt so good to sit down and sew.  I have been contemplating sewing a pair of denim jeans for quite some time.  I have seen many positive reviews on Pattern and various blogs of the  Ginger Skinny Jeans pattern by Closet Case patterns so I decided to give it a try.

I started by making a muslin from an inexpensive denim I found in New York City in one of those little fabric stores on 38th Street between 7th and 8th Avenues.  It was only $6 a yard.  Boy is it a sturdy fabric!  It is a little stiff so I pre-washed it 3 times in order to soften it and get all the shrinkage out of the fabric.  This fabric did not fade at all and it is thick and still a little stiff.  Since the bolt did not have the fabric content, I decided to do a burn test to see if I could figure out the fabric content.  The fabric did not melt and left ash which tells me it has cotton but boy this fabric is indestructible!  That's ok, though, especially for a muslin which would be stitched and unstitched and stitched again.

Speaking of unstitching, I have discovered this nifty little seam ripper by Dritz.  I purchased it at JoAnn's.  The rubber tip is amazing!  The package says you use the rubber tip to help you grab the little pieces of threads left behind after you remove a seam but I found it is wonderful in helping you massage the little holes left by the needle and that is what I value most about it.

I used a size 100/16 Singer needle with a 3.0 stitch length and regular all purpose polyester thread for the main seams.  For topstitching, I used the brown color jeans topstitching thread by Coats & Clark with a stitch length of 3.5.  I used the jeans topstitching thread on the top and the regular polyester thread in the bobbin.  I finished the seams with my serger.  I pressed the seams with a steam iron.

For the back patch pockets, I simply freehanded a topstitching design on them.  With muslins, I usually just put together the main pieces to test for fit but since so many have had a positive experience with this pattern, I took my chances and decided to cut and sew all of the pieces in the hope that I would have a wearable muslin in the end.

I decided to make the high waisted version which includes a stay for the tummy.  I made the stay out of woven pre-shrunk non-stretch cotton muslin fabric.  The pattern instructions have you interface the zipper section but I don't think that is necessary for the version with the tummy stay.  The pattern has you attach the stay all the way to the edge of the fly so I believe it can double as interfacing.  I think the stay plus the interfacing plus the fabric folded plus the zipper plus the zipper guard is just too much bulk for my taste.  I will therefore eliminate the interfacing for the next version of this high waisted jean and rely on the stay for stabilizing the zipper area.

For the front of the pant, after I was done inserting the zipper, I traced the topstitching pattern onto cardstock to use as a template.  I simply placed the cardstock on top of the front aligning the straight edge to the center front and traced around the template so I had a guide for topstitching.  I am going to use this handy little template for other pants I make in the future.

Here is the front of the jean:

Here is the back.  I attached the front to the back and discovered, as usual, an excess of fabric below the derriere at the thigh area.  I decided to take in the thigh area at both the side seams and inseams and it helped quite a lot.  I am glad the fabric was so sturdy since I stitched and unstitched the seams several times until I was happy. I used a long machine basting stitch and once I was happy with the fit, I used the regular machine stitch of 3.0.  I still have to attach the belt loops and sew up the hem:

I have large calves so the jeans are a little snug around that area, an issue I encounter with ready-to-wear jeans as well.  I let out the seam at the calf area as much as I could.  They are not tight so I can still wear them but I will definitely be making an adjustment for the next version.

So far, I have discovered this pattern to be well drafted with a good fit.  The pattern instructions are excellent although I had to get used to the illustrations having the white side refer to the right side and the shaded side refer to the wrong side.  (It is the reverse in the big pattern companies which is what I am used to.)  It is important to use stretch denim as suggested by the pattern.  Otherwise, the jeans will turn out too small.

I am pleased with how the muslin turned out.  For my next post, I will model them so you can see the fit.

I encourage anyone contemplating making jeans to try this pattern.  Just dive right in!  If you feel a little unsure, use inexpensive fabric and have a seam ripper handy.

Ginger Skinny Jeans pattern by Closet Case Patterns
Happy sewing!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Thank you!

Thank you everyone for all of your encouragement and support.  I appreciate all of your comments to my last post and all of the good wishes sent my way.  It is much appreciated and helped very much.

I am finally back home!  Yay!  I thought I would share with you the final steps of this long journey and yes, that means this is my last house construction post.  😊

Below is my house as it is now, elevated and newly sided.  On the left is the addition which now houses the utilities that were in the basement like the furnace, hot water heater, and washer/dryer.  The greatest thing (besides being protected from floods of course) is that now the washer/dryer is on the same level as my living space which is a great convenience.  It makes for a cute little laundry room.  No more going up and down the stairs when I do laundry (and pre-wash fabric).  The space below the house I can use for my fabric stash (ahem) storage.

Below is a photo of what the house looked like before.  Quite different!

Of course, the first rooms I needed to get set up were the bedroom, kitchen and bathroom so many boxes ended up in my sewing room - aaak!

However, I am mostly done unpacking so here is my sewing room now.  I still have to get rid of that ladder and a few boxes not visible in the photo but I am almost there:

Here is one of my favorite sides of the sewing room.  Hanging from the clock is a leather heart keychain which Kyle from Vacuuming the Lawn sent to me as a gift.  In case you are wondering, that circular item is the handle to my steam mop which I have since put away:

Besides all of the love, friendship and support from family, friends and all of you, I also had the company of Zoe, my furry friend, whose cuteness, sweetness and silliness always makes me smile:

Before I started packing for my move back home, I started working on making a pair of jeans so I hope to start working on them again soon.

Happy Sewing!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Life is Stranger than Fiction

Some of you have been asking how my house is coming along.  While I wanted my next post to be sewing related, alas, it is not obviously.  I had a little bit of a setback.  A few days after the project was completed and we received the Certificate of Occupancy (a document from the town saying that the house has been inspected and it is safe to live in), a pipe burst.  Of course, we were not yet living in the house when this pipe burst so I believe it was spewing water for a day or two before my husband and I discovered it.

The weekend of December 18 got very very cold so the pipes froze.  You prevent pipes from freezing by making sure the house is heated but what we didn't know is that the newly installed heating unit had a defective part so the heat never came on.  So the pipes froze and upon thawing, a pipe burst.

On the left, pipe burst from second floor.  The water flowed from the second floor through my living space all the way down to the crawlspace beneath the house on the right
This discovery was quite a traumatic experience.  I remember my husband and I opening the front door and hearing what sounded like the Niagara Falls inside the house.  The look of panic on my husband's face!  I started shaking like a leaf.  My husband ran downstairs and turned the water main off.  The amount of damage was extensive.  We had to get many walls torn down, dry the wood, and put new walls back up and paint.

I remember going back to my temporary home that day feeling numb.  I believe I sat in the living room for about 1 1/2 hours just staring into space unable to speak or do anything.  Looking back now, it is almost comical.  We go through all this trouble to raise the house to prevent flooding, but the house floods anyway but from the inside.  Go Figure!

Luckily, our contractor started working on repairs immediately.  Fast forward...the damaged pipe has been repaired.  The defective part in the heating unit has been replaced.  We have heat in the house and the repairs have been completed. The repairs left an enormous amount of drywall dust all over so I have been spending the weekends cleaning.  We have plans to move back to the house the end of January so I will be taking a few days off during the week to pack.

We will be back home soon - yay!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

What an Honor!

Rhonda Buss, author of the blog, Rhonda's Creative Life, has a weekly column called The Wednesday Showcase in which she features fellow sewing bloggers.  I am so happy to say that Rhonda has featured me and my blog in her fabulous column.  You can read it by clicking here.

Rhonda is a true professional.  Check out her blog and you will see the impeccable workmanship of her garments.  She writes for Sew News magazine and is currently pursuing the Master Sewing and Design Certification by the Association of Sewing and Design Professionals.

In addition to beautiful garments, she also shares many delicious recipes and inspirational quotes.  It is a blog full of all sorts of eye candy and valuable information so do check it out!