mccalls 6833 | pattern review

our little excursion to NYC has come and gone already… what a whirlwind! capped by a long drive home, stuck in friday must get out of the city!!! east coast traffic. i had planned to give a mid-construction update on mccalls 6833, but the end of the school year busyness totally got in the way. anyways, here’s the deets!

(p.s. navy is really hard to photograph)

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after my initial muslin i took all the lady curves out of the bodice so it better resembled a rectangle, and ended up with a decent fit. my waist measurement puts me in a size 14-16 (whut??) while my bust is more like an 8. so i traced off a 10 bodice, but added 4″ all around to the waist. this pattern doesn’t seem to have as much ease as i’m used to in big 4 (could it be that they’ve heard our complaints?) so i paid close attention to the finished garment measurements. after a second muslin, i ended up going back and tracing off the upper bodice in a size 8 and doing another SBA, plus a forward shoulder adjustment and some lower armhole fiddling. i was reasonably confident that would work out so i was off to cut my fabric.

i did have to scrap some of my initial plans of making the bustier underneath the fuller coverage bodice. that was me high on ALL THE IDEAS!!! and low on the thinking it through part. no worries, i’m perfectly happy with what i ended up with. the only thing i changed from the pattern was to create a V shape in the back. the pattern has the back piece coming all the way up to the base of the neck, and that was feeling a little too covered up. plus, i’m all about the lower back necklines these days.

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i decided that even though this is a limited use dress, i would take the time to do some hand stitching. on the bodice, i hand-basted my underlining, catch stitched the bodice SA’s, etc. it was time well spent as i could work on the dress while thinking through how i wanted to construct certain things. i did leave my side and shoulder SA’s free in case i needed to make any adjustments once i was farther along. i ended up bringing up the shoulders a bit and taking in the waist by an inch, so thank goodness for that! nothing is worse than needing to rip out your hand stitching.

for the skirt, i cut the size 12 and adjusted the pleats to fit the bodice. i changed up the construction order by sewing the skirt front and back to the bodice separately so i could easier adjust the side seam. it’s pretty difficult to predict exactly how the bodice will sit before the weight of the skirt is there to pull it down.

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i fully lined the dress with rayon bemberg. that stuff is such a pain in the ass to cut and nearly impossible to keep on grain! it does tear from selvedge to selvedge, so i did that to true up the edges and then i taped it down to my table to give me the best chance of getting a good cut. unfortunately… i failed to triple check that my selvedges were completely lined up and had a little mishap with one of the skirt lining pieces. at that point there was no point in getting upset over it, so in a very zen fashion (a-typical of me, don’t be fooled) i cut a strip of lining, patched it on, and called it a day. the skirt lining now has a huge “scar” running down the back, but eh… that’s the charm of handmade, right?

i hand stitched the hem in place (did i mention i lengthened the skirt by 1″? cuz i did), and hemmed the lining with horsehair braid—a technique gertie had just posted about. i should mention that the lining is actually a separate pattern piece. it’s cut as a circle skirt, so if you aren’t keen on the pleats, you could use the lining for a different look. anyways, the pattern has you sew a wide length of gathered tulle part way up the lining to give the dress some oomph. i was short on time at this point and didn’t feel like messing with tulle, which is why i opted for the horsehair. i’m just so/so on the result. the horsehair is really too stiff for the bemberg and it flops awkwardly. if i have occasion to pull this dress out again, i may re-do this per the pattern directions.

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overall, i think this pattern is pretty great! there are a whole range of options for mixing and matching. however, getting a good fit for a small-busted gal like myself was more challenging that i had anticipated. the dart intake at the bust is in the ballpark of 2 1/2″, whereas i need closer to 1 1/2″. you almost have to drape it on yourself to figure out the shape for that piece… however that’s pretty hard to do on your body! i’ve since gone back and fiddled with the bust dart and upper bodice length because i’ve started working on the strap-y version with a gathered skirt for heather b’s #sewsundress sew-a-long! more on that later, since i have a few dresses planned…

as you can see above, i made a last minute clutch following a tutorial by skirt as top… who happened to post about it the day before the event i needed it for. it was super easy, and even though i’ve never made a zippered bag before, it only took about 45 minutes. win!

last thing, this pattern is rated EASY on the front. i whole-heartedly disagree. getting the front bodice pieces sewn accurately so everything lines up as it should was definitely challenging, and i can only imagine a newbie trying to work that out! and fitting… unless you tend to fit straight out of the envelope, it’s not for the faint of heart (or short on time).

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i have to say, it was fun to set aside the t-shirts and basics sewing to make this dress. and it actually does fill a hole in my wardrobe, since i didn’t have a special occasion dress prior to this! now let’s just hope a few more special occasions come up so i can wear it again. ;-)

—lisa g.

calli faye | wednesday dress

here is the calli faye wednesday dress made up as intended. since i was bummed about not having enough fabric to make this dress for my daughter’s birthday, i picked up more fabric right after finishing her blouse version. this is a cotton batik with a fine weave and soft hand. perfect for summer dresses!

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as i mentioned before, i was a little thrown by the sizing chart because it put my 50th percentile 10 yr old in a size 6. i ended up tracing the size 7 width, but extending the side seam all the way out to a size 10 length. then i used the bodice length of the size 8 to mark the waistband casing. i probably could have gone with the 8 in length as well, but i really like the modest hemline. in a sea of super short kid dress and skirt options, it’s kind of nice to have something a little more covered.

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plus it nicely balances the generous cutout on the back. i used the size 7 cutout, but i would probably reshape it a little smaller next time. it’s very open, and i’m not sure i’d send her to school in it. however it’s great for the casual summer dress it is. the only thing i altered other than sizing was to lower the neckline by 1″.

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sneaky appearance of oliver in a pair of unblogged pants…

this pattern has you partially line the dress. there aren’t separate pattern pieces for the skirt portion, so the liner is  just on the bodice and it very neatly finishes all the openings and creates the casing for the drawstring. since i had some metal eyelets on hand in exactly the right color (they came with my snap/eyelet tool) i used those instead of making buttonholes. the drawstring is simply self-bias tape made into spaghetti straps. then i attached the straps to a 10″ piece of 1/4″ elastic, which ends up at the back of the dress. that way the bow can be tied with a pretty drawstring, but the waist still stretches in the back. i hope that makes sense! basically, the middle third of the drawstring is elastic, while the ends are made from the bias tape.

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final thoughts:

i think this is a really nice pattern. i appreciate the simple shape to showcase great fabrics, plus it’s perfectly casual for everyday wear.  it is quick to sew up and, in this size, took less than two yards of a rather narrow fabric. the pdf itself felt a little clunky to put together. there was a lot of paper waste where a pattern piece just crossed over to a new page. part of this is because instead of tiling the entire pattern, certain pages are used for each pattern piece. i see this in a lot of the kid pdf patterns, and sometimes it works out great. it’s just that here (probably because i was using the larger end of the size spectrum) it felt like i wasted a several sheets of paper.

the armholes with the lining were a little tricky to navigate. i had to sew the arm opening, starting and stoping exactly where the side seam starts. then, i folded the armhole opening out of the way to sew the lining and outer side seams. i couldn’t do it in one continuous seam without major puckering under the arm, so i sewed the lining side seam, then stopped, repositioned, and sewed the shell side seam… not a big deal, but this could have been handled better in the directions. lastly, i may have mis-measured, but double check the opening placement for the drawstring before making holes. the spot i had marked would have been too low… again, that could have been my error!

all in all i’m pleased with how this came out. i’m happy i made the sizing choices i did (following the measurements, not RTW size) otherwise there would have been tons of excess fabric in the bodice. and naturally, her sisters are begging for their own. this pattern comes in 12mo-girls size 10 US, so it’s a great buy.

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all my monkeys bid you a happy summer!

—lisa g.

sleeveless archer

a while back i ordered some tencel chambray (this one, while it’s still available… it’s gorgeous stuff). my intent was to use it for a modified CP laurel or the salme buttonless shirtdress, but i felt it was borderline too thin to go sans lining, and i don’t own a slip. it’s on my list of things to make though! since my initial plan wasn’t working out, i decided to make the sleeveless archer i’ve been wanting. must bend to the will of the fabric gods, amiright?

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this top looks less frumpy tucked in (or partially tucked… let’s be real) but i left it out for the sake of photos

i searched teh interwebs for everyone’s tips on how to make the archer sleeveless. i followed jen’s advice and wedged out part of the back shirt piece and moved the shoulder seam in (1-1.5″). i also moved the under arm up and in, by about 1/2″ both directions. i was worried about potentially gape-y armholes, and that seemed to do the trick. i typically have to shorten the depth of armholes, so raising it may just be something i need to do. better to cut away excess than wish you had more!

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i also decided to make it a popover and sew a placket down the front. i debated the length of the placket for a long time, and in the end i wish it were an inch or two longer. it bugs me that the placket and pockets end at about the same place; didn’t even consider that! i also altered the pocket shape to be smaller, left off the collar, and subbed gathers for the back pleat.

my little photo-bomber. at least he's wearing a mommy-made tee ;-)

my little photo-bomber. at least he’s wearing a mommy-made tee ;-)

i’m pretty in love with this shirt! i have another sleeveless archer planned, which i’ll hopefully get to soon. i scored a gorgeous polka dot fabric recently and it’s high time i honored this great pattern with some silk, doncha think?

lisa g.

hey june | union st. tee

today i’m a stop on the blog tour for the union st tee just released by Adrianna of hey june patterns (one half of the crafterhours team). she asked me to be a tester and i was more than happy to oblige since 1.) i really need more basic tees and 2.) i’ve had great experiences with her patterns in the past. (see: here, here, here, and here)

paired with an unblogged megan nielsen kelly skirt

paired with an unblogged megan nielsen kelly skirt

i was eager to try out the v-neck variation since i had never made a v-neck tee before.  i picked up a 100% cotton jersey because it’s nice and stable. i wouldn’t dare try it in one of those thin rayon knits with loads of drape. also, i love the way cotton jersey washes and softens over time. it can definitely take the abuse of everyday life.

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the v-neck binding is a little tricky, but the pattern comes with excellent instructions to make it as painless as possible. i ended up with a teeny tiny pucker that no one but me will ever notice. i could have ripped it out, but frankly i probably would have bungled it worse had i tried to fix it.

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BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE!

that was just my tester version. since i signed up for the blog tour, i thought i’d try out the scoop neck version of the tee as well. i picked up a rayon/cotton jersey from girlcharlee.com (the slinky non-stable type). solid tees are great and necessary, but floral prints are totally my jam. this one is listed as a light to medium weight, but i would put it firmly in the lightweight category. like just a step above the tissue knits. even though it’s lighter weight than i was hoping for, it makes for a great summer tee. plus it goes with my chartreuse shorts. WINNING.

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now, hold onto your hats, cuz i’m about to wax poetic over a t-shirt pattern (i swear, no bribery was involved). so many times i do little more than grumble while making up a knits pattern, be it the giant seam allowances, unpredictable ease, or weird finishing techniques. not so here! and let me tell you why…

  • sizing: you pick your size from the garment’s finished (bust and waist) measurements. this allows you to choose either negative or positive ease, depending on your fabric. since this is a simple tee, you can easily grade between sizes if needed.
  • seam allowance: there is nothing i hate more than giant seam allowances on knit patterns. the SA on this tee is 1/4″, which makes it ideal for serging. BUT it’s also fine for a regular sewing machine, if that’s how you roll. also, it means less fabric waste and a better chance of fitting all the pieces onto less yardage. yeah!
  • neckband: i generally discard neckband pieces since knits have different stretch needs. however, this pattern has two neckband lengths determined by the amount of stretch your fabric has. don’t know how much stretch your fabric has? there’s a handy chart for you to test! for both of the tees i made, the neckband length was perfect.
  • directions: this pattern does not assume that you already know what you’re doing. if you’re a bit unsure or just don’t have a solid grasp on knits sewing, be not afraid.
  • drafting: all the pieces fit together nicely. the sleeve cap has basically no ease, as it should be. it sets in flat quite easily. so easily you barely even need to pin.
  • options: there are sleeve length options, neckline options, neck band width options… no need to guess to make those little customizations.
  • print layout: there’s a chart so you have the option to print off only the pages you need. guys. this i love. once upon a time i made a .pdf pattern where i had to print off over 60 pages, most of which i did not need. and well… i won’t re-hash that saga, but let’s just say that i was not pleased.

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there’s something strangely thrilling about making (and wearing) my own tees. not only are they a quick project, but they get worn all. the. time. if you’re looking for a good tee pattern, or just dipping your toes into the knits game, this one is worth your time!

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there’s lots of great ladies posting on the tour, also up today is Kat at sew chibi. make sure to check it out! need a copy of the pattern? pick it up here.

thanks to Adrianna for inviting me on the tour!

—lisa g.

ten

today is the last day of school for the kiddos. the last month of school is such a crazy time filled with activities and shows and events at school. not to mention the fact that the hubbs and i road-tripped it down to NYC last thurs/friday (more on that later!!). it’s always a relief to be on the other side, but of course that means they will all be home alllll day… it always takes a while to adjust, and no doubt they’ll be at each other’s throats in no time.

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so the “ten” alluded to in the title refers to my oldest daughter who just turned the big one-oh. ack! double digits! i always try to make the kids something for their birthday, so i picked up a rayon challis in a fabric that is totally her. i started with the cali faye collection wednesday dress, but i utterly underestimated the fabric needed. to compensate, i cut the pattern down to a blouse length and narrowed the sides to fit the fabric. there is still plenty of swing, and it worked out perfectly.

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certainly doesn’t look like much on the hangar

i skipped the cutout on the back since the fabric has so much drape, and instead left a long opening closed with a button in the back. then, i shaped the hem with a slight high/low thing happening.

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she wore it to school on her birthday and when i asked what her friends thought, she told me (exasperatedly) the class practically lined up to tell me they loved my shirt. even my teacher! she’s not one who is comfortable with a lot of attention, but it totally made my day. :)

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as far as sizing goes, based on her measurements, she sits at about a size 6 in width, but almost 10 in height. i find this utterly frustrating in kids clothing—RTW or patterns. i decided on a size 7, and would have lengthened to a 10 but… like i said, i didn’t have enough for the dress anyways. i was so bummed about that i went and bought a different fabric, which i successfully cut, and i can’t wait to sew it up so i can give a better review!

lisa g.

burda spring cigarette pants

i know from experience that changing a trouser pant leg to a skinny or cigarette pant leg is rather challenging. if i knew something about pattern drafting (which i don’t) i suppose it would be cakewalk, but the tweaking and re-sewing and trying on is tiring and very not fun! so even though i have a good handle on the fit of my beloved sewaholic thurlows, i decided to try a new pant pattern. enter the burda “spring cigarette pants” a.k.a. 02/2014 #129B.

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the leg shape was exactly what i wanted: clean, slim, and modern. the first thing i did was adjust the rise. these are drafted to hit slightly below the waist. that’s just not a good look for me, so i trimmed 1″ off the back rise and 2″ off the front rise. i usually have to add extra to the back crotch length (the dreaded “big butt adjustment” or worse, “full butt adjustment”), so this was kind of a shortcut. i moved the welt pocket placement and back dart point down by 1″ and re-drew my dart legs.

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my measurements fall in between the 40 and 42, so i played it safe and went with the 42. i didn’t want skin tight pants, however these ended up being slightly too big in the waist. so really that is the biggest difference between the thurlow draft and the burda draft. sewaholic drafts for a pear shape while burda is your standard doesn’t-take-any-specific-body-type into consideration draft. that isn’t a knock against burda, just something to keep in mind when choosing a size.

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other than waistline placement, the only other adjustment i made was to scoop out the back crotch a tad. when i tried them on it felt like i just couldn’t pull them on all the way without giving myself a wedgie. that’s when the scoop thing clicked for me. chances are, your bum hangs lower than er… your lady bits. so by dropping the curve in the bum area, you make space for where your bum actually sits. i’m pretty sure this explains some of the crotch flap issues i’ve had with my jalie pants perviously, and lesser so with my thurlows. the pants were stopping at my bum, but i still needed a good half inch before they made it to my front side. so much crotch talk… sorry!

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i could stand to scoop out the back a tad more (i didn’t want to take out too much because it can affect the width through the thigh), and bring the waist in by a size. overall i am pleased with the drafting. many have praised burda’s pants, and i would definitely recommend this pattern. i particularly love how they shorten the back inseam from crotch to knee, which helps to reduce some of the under bum wrinkles many people complain about when making pants.

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i finished the inside waistband with bias tape to reduce bulk and eliminate the need for perfect top stitching. it just so happens that Morgan at Crab&Bee posted a tutorial on this very finish as i was finishing these pants. i differed slightly in finishing the waistband ends by using this tutorial by thread theory (scroll down a ways to get to that part). it’s the same principal used in finishing the ends of the collar stand in grainline studio’s archer.

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i figured out how to completely encase the welts inside the pocket bags… i fully intend to write up a tutorial!

final verdict:

  • if you’re more of a pear shape, grade down a size in the waist
  • if you tend to have front crotch flap issues, scoop out the back crotch as a starting point. don’t know how much? hold a ruler, or anything skinny and flat between your legs right up to your bum and parallel to the floor and measure the gap. that should give you a good idea of how much to lower the curve. (note: if you don’t have space there and have a pattern that is giving you excess in the front crotch, then that is mostly likely a different issue.)
  • burda instructions, as always, are brief. find other directions if you need hand holding.
  • the waistband is straight, which is probably okay for the higher rise, but i subbed in the thurlow waistband.
  • i did not alter the pant length and they’re perfect for my leggy 5′ 8″ frame

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so will i use this pattern again? partially. i see bright pink pants as a fun thing to have in my wardrobe, so i’m less concerned about fit issues than pants in a basic neutral color that would theoretically get a lot more use. i could stand to lower the rise allover another 1/2″ to closer match the rise on the thurlow, which is perfect on me. i suspect i’ll return to my thurlow and use the leg shape of the burda to get the slim fit i love. in fact, if you want skinny thurlows, it’s worth the price of the burda to not have to figure out the skinny part! (note that the thurlow is drafted for a non-stretch woven, but i’ve determined that going down a size works great for a stretch fabric. skinny pants should always be made in stretch fabric) i’ll finish up by saying that any of my remaining fit tweaks are more about how they feel than about how they look. i think they look great, so i’ll continue to wear them!

a few more gratuitous detail shots…

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i need to add an inside bar closure, i just hate sewing those things on

i need to add an inside bar closure, i just hate sewing those things on

forgot to mention anywhere… my fabric is a cotton/lycra sateen, hence why every wrinkle shows! also these pics were taken post-washing and i suck at ironing. oh, and my top is a tiny pocket tank that i haven’t blogged yet. i think i’ve finally perfected the fit though!

one last thing… i realized that my sewing of these coincides with a current pattern review contest. consider these entered!

—lisa g.

MMMay 14

here’s my me-made-may 2014 roundup! my countless selfies (32 because i had two outfits on one day…) were documented on instagram, and i took the lazy approach of reflection in my bedroom mirror… it doesn’t get any classier than that, folks.

sorry for not linking to individual blog posts, many of these were never blogged, and many are patiently awaiting their turn. i’m particularly pleased that i wore me-mades every day, without wearing something just because of the challenge.  i tried to keep repeats down to a minimum to make sure i utilized more of my wardrobe. the most worn item was, hands down, my jalie jeans. time for another pair! yeah, add it to the list…

what did i learn? clearly i have a thing for grainline studio patterns… worn on 15 days (often two at a time), with only a few items repeated. oh, and i desperately need a haircut.

—lisa g.