Denim Shirtdress | New Look 6487

I don’t browse the New Look selection very often, partially because I don’t like the website (though it is improved from the original re-design) and partially because they never go on sale like the Simplicity/McCalls $1-ish sales at JoAnn’s. In all fairness, the standard $5 price tag is super reasonable, so I should really peruse their selection more frequently. As a bonus—I never need to wait for a sale.

img_3183

The “tween” pattern New Look 6487 stopped me dead in my tracks, so I made sure to pick it up. It’s so cute! I love all the style options included. I’m sure it’ll be on repeat all year round—currently all three of my girls are asking for one version or another. Being the youngest girl, Isabella always gets the ratty hand-me-downs (poor thing!) so I try to make her something special every now and again. She happened to be with me when I bought the pattern and she loved this lightweight denim at JoAnn’s—perfect match. And seriously, this fabric is so nice and soft! I’m sure I’ll be going back for more.

img_3198

The smallest size is an 8, and she is very tiny as is (just shy of 9 yrs old), so I knew it would be big on her. I did not make any size alterations to the pattern because I figured it would be fine to be oversized now, and hopefully fit her better next year. I did eliminate the back pleat because I felt it was odd to have the pleat combined with the gathered skirt. Idk, maybe I’m just being weird, but I didn’t like it. Since there is plenty of volume as is, I simply shifted the back piece off the edge of the fabric, and did the same with the back skirt piece.

img_3196

The only other change I made was to cut different chest pockets. The pattern has a funky pocket shape and I wasn’t digging it. I keep pocket templates sitting around in my sewing room, so I just grabbed a kid sized pocket and used that.

img_3184

I just want to note how pleased I was with this pattern! The yoke, collar, and collar stand all have full size pieces, with the grain line correctly indicated. Frequently these pieces are cut on the fold and laid perpendicular to the grain, where they should be turned and cut with the grain. At least this is how it’s done in RTW, and also how David Coffin illustrates it to be done in his Shirtmaking book. Additionally, the neckline and collar pieces have 3/8″ SA’s, making it infinitely easier to assemble. I always cut down the SA’s if they are any wider than this, so it was nice that I didn’t have to fuss with changing it myself.

img_3187

Oversized or not, she is completely in love with this dress and has snuck in several wears before throwing it in the wash. It’s denim, so who am I to judge. She plans to layer it with leggings or tights and a long sleeve tee underneath so she can continue to wear it through the winter since you can’t easily stuff the sleeves into a sweater. All in all I am super pleased with how this dress came out, as is Isabella. I’ll definitely be sewing this one again, and *ahem* maybe making a knockoff for myself…

—lisa g.


TL;DR

PATTERN: New Look 6487
FABRIC: lightweight denim | JoAnn’s
SIZE: 8 (measurements for reference: 4’2″/22.5″/21.5″/24″)
MODS: eliminated back pleat, used different chest pocket
ALTERATIONS: none
NEXT TIME: no changes planned

Style Arc | Abby Cardi

We had a serious end of summer heat wave that made me think summer would last forever, but we’ve begun having decidedly chilly mornings (like low 50’s F) so I guess we’re moving on to fall. I stitched up the Abby Cardi from StyleArc because I can never have too many cardigans for layering up. I used a cotton/poly blend interlock from a local store. I usually try to avoid poly blends, but this felt so very soft, and was in the absolute perfect color.

img_3121

The thing I like about this cardigan is that it has a nice drape for the front, but doesn’t overwhelm you with fabric. I also really like how minimal the fabric is in the shawl collar. Sometimes having too much fabric weighing on the back of my neck gives me headaches, and I don’t think I’ll have to worry about that here.

img_3118

The construction is fairly simple, but mitered corners at the shoulder/neck join are always a pain. The instructions don’t mention it, but definitely stay stitch around the corners before snipping into them. With the instructions as vague as they are, it took me a bit of head scratching to figure out where everything was supposed to align. Once I chucked the directions and started working it out on my own, it all came together super fast. I went for a nice clean finish on the collar/facing, and did a nifty burrito roll to encase the neckline seam.

img_3128

The drape front is left with a raw edge, as is the entire hem. I prefer to avoid raw hems when possible, so I added a hem allowance to the back piece so I could hem that part, while leaving the front as is. I think this worked nicely, and I would definitely do it the same way in the future.

Here’s a few detail shots…

img_3135

fold over facing from the inside, raw edge encased

img_3137

added hem allowance to the back piece, front edge left raw

img_3138

hem from the inside

As far as fit is concerned, I added some width from waist to hem on the side seams to accommodate my hips. The shoulder seam is falling off my shoulder a bit (I think I have somewhat narrow shoulders) and I wouldn’t mind an extra inch in sleeve length (I hemmed them at 1/2″ instead of the drafted 1″ to preserve a tiny bit of length). The sleeves were also a touch wide, so I trimmed them down.

img_3109

Overall I’m very pleased with this pattern. The fact that it isn’t a fabric hog is a huge bonus. It was one of StyleArc’s free patterns of the month, and I’m glad I had it on hand when I had the itch for a new cardigan!

lisa g.


TL;DR

PATTERN: StyleArc Abby Cardi
FABRIC: cotton/poly interlock knit from Fabric Basement (local)
SIZE: 8 (measurements for reference: 5’8″/34″/27.5″/39″)
MODS: Added hem allowance to the back piece
ALTERATIONS: added width at the hip, narrowed sleeve
NEXT TIME: bring in shoulder seam, lengthen sleeve

Chi Town Chinos

When the Chi Town Chinos popped up a recently, I was interested in giving them a try. I’ve been a dedicated lover of the Sewaholic Thurlow, but this pattern has a feature that sold me—a faced waistband!  I hate sewing on waistbands. HATE. It always takes me fooorreeeverrr to do!  Alina Sewing + Design Co. is new to the indie pattern scene, and tbh, I usually shy away from first time pattern releases. But, I’m happy to report that I was genuinely impressed by this pattern. It really looks like she aspires to the same type of RTW details I’m always drawn to. Oh, and there’s also a skirt variation. Love a two-in-one pattern.

IMG_2964

As expected, I don’t fall into one straight size. I’m definitely pear-shaped, but most of my hip circumference is in the back. For this reason I opted to make a FSA (full seat adjustment) instead of trying to grade between sizes. I used a tutorial on the Colette blog, and it felt like a lot of guesswork—from where to draw the lines, to how much space to add… if you have super nice fabric, definitely play around with muslin first. I ended up adding about 1/2″ in width (1″ total) and 3/8″ to the back rise. I also scooped out the back crotch a tad and lowered the front rise by 1/4″. After these adjustments, which are very typical for me, the fit is basically spot-on, so that was a relief! Next time I may reduce the dart from the FSA and instead take some width out of the side seam at the waist. I feel like they’re not quite hugging my waist the way my Thurlows do, but hopefully minimal tweaks will get me there. I hemmed my shorts to have a 3 1/2″ inseam (instead of 4 1/2″) as is my preference.

IMG_2953

The one detail I did change was to make a separate fly facing instead of using the cut-on facing. I feel that a sewn on facing is more sturdy in the long run. Really the only little nit-picky thing I have to say about the pattern is having to search through the directions to track down the SA’s used for various pieces. I’m in favor of varied SA’s, but since some pieces are 1/2″ (back pockets, zipper facing) and some are 5/8″ (general construction), it’s easy to forget. It would be most helpful to have a single diagram to look at, or at least have them indicated on the individual pattern pieces. The instructions themselves are very hand-holdy, fine if you need it, but I would really like to see them a little more streamlined. I found myself having to jump around in the directions for things like belt loops and how to finish the SA of the facing.

PicMonkey Collage

The fabric I used is a Kaufman Kobe twill in grey from fabric.com and it’s really nice stuff! Getting twill the right weight for shorts can be a bit hit or miss (this is 5.7 oz/sq yd), but this one is perfect. It’s lightweight enough that seams don’t get overly bulky, but sturdy enough that it doesn’t feel flimsy at all. Plus it’s available in a wide variety of colors—I want them all!! The only downside is that they do stretch out a little with wear. While that’s pretty normal for cotton twill, I feel I can only get about two wears out of them before I want to chuck them in the wash to shrink them back down. Overall, I am very pleased with these shorts, and I can see myself making many more pairs in the future.

IMG_2961One last thing… the blouse I’m wearing is Simplicity 1106, previously made here. As before, I omitted the back cutout, and this time I added 2″ width at CB, which I gathered onto the yoke for a small amount of visual interest. Because I added width at CB I took 1/2″ off the side seam on the back piece from waist to hip. While I love that it has a neckline facing, I opted for a bias facing, mostly because I’m out of my good interfacing… Love this pattern for a quick top!

lisa g.


TL;DR

PATTERN: Chi Town Chinos by Alina Sewing + Design Co
FABRIC: Kaufman Kobe Twill from fabric.com
SIZE: 8 (measurements for reference: 5’8″/34″/27.5″/39″)
MODS: used separate fly facing, shortened inseam to 3 1/2″
ALTERATIONS: full seat adjustment, lowered front rise
NEXT TIME: bring them in at the waist, distribute some of the dart intake to the side seams

Rumi Tank Dress

Okay, it’s rare that I jump on a new pattern the minute it’s released, let alone print it, trace it, cut it out, sew it, and wear it all within 24 hours. Oh, and then blog it. RARE. But the stars aligned for me yesterday… I had ordered some rayon jersey from Craftsy (weird… all their solid rayon knits are gone now) and it just wasn’t the kind of rayon knit I was expecting. It is quite firm, has minimal stretch, and doesn’t drape in the way I expect a rayon knit to drape. To be honest, I’m not overly impressed with this fabric, and it just wasn’t going to work with my original plan.

IMG_2913

So I literally had this fabric out trying to figure out what to make with it, when I saw the Rumi Tank pop up on IG. It was a perfect match. I paused for a minute, I mean even on sale, it’s still almost $10 for a simple tank. But… I just went through all my paper patterns and got rid of a huge stack of them because the tissue was cut and therefore useless to me or anyone else, and was reminded of why .pdf patterns are so appealing. If I screw it up, I can always print off a new copy.

IMG_2892This is the first pattern from Christine Haynes that I’ve purchased, and I was very happy with the .pdf formatting. It printed in a very economical number of pages and everything matched up nicely. I traced off a size 6 at the bust and graded out to an 8 at the waist and hip. Given the flare of the skirt, grading between sizes wasn’t strictly necessary, but I did anyway. I raised the neckline by 1/2″ as a precaution (I am forever needing to raise necklines) but in this case it would have been fine as drafted. I skipped the color blocking at the hemline, and simply extended the length of the dress.

IMG_2924

The sizing feels spot on, and other than a little bit of pooling in the back, I’m perfectly happy with the fit. I’m so in love with the swingy flare of the hem. After all the swing dress posts I’ve been seeing lately, I’ve had them on my mind!

IMG_2896

I love how my dress came out, and I think this will be a very useful pattern. Also included is a regular tank top (less flare than the dress) and I’m sure I’ll be using it in the future as well. Really, this is an ideal summer dress for me since it’s casual enough that I don’t feel overdressed for the day to day mom stuff (side note: my 8 yr old said “Wow, you look fancy!” quickly followed by, “Well I guess it’s no different than pajamas…”), plus it’s breezy for the crazy heat we’ve been having. I’m ready to move on to Fall sewing, but oy! the heat and humidity is not going away! So not used to it out here in the Northeast.

IMG_2883

Here’s to the last days of summer…

IMG_2933

—lisa g.


TL;DR

PATTERN: Rumi Tank by Christine Haynes
FABRIC: rayon jersey from Craftsy (no longer available, and not really recommended)
SIZE: 6 bust, graded to 8 at waist and hip (measurements for reference: 5’8″/34″/27.5″/39″)
MODS: raised neckline by 1/2″ and extended hem to eliminate hem color blocking
ALTERATIONS: none
NEXT TIME: if I’m being fussy… I’ll remove length from CB to minimize pooling

Skater Dress | McCalls 7079

I recently picked up McCalls 7079 to make my oldest daughter (12 yrs) a casual dress. I love that this pattern has several different style options, from plain to a little more girly. This will be a very versatile pattern to have around!

IMG_2504

I let her pick out the combination she wanted, and she opted for short sleeves and a flared skirt. I was going to do the triangle back cutout, but decided to go with the plain back to check the fit first. Without the cutout she can easily pair this with leggings and cardigans for Fall.

The fabric I used is from Cali Fabrics. It’s a cotton/lycra and is perfect for this style. This was the first time I ordered from them, and I was pleased with the quick shipping and overall quality of the fabrics; I’ll definitely order from them in the future since they have such a large selection of knits. My only quibble with this fabric is that the black ink bled in places onto the white. I usually use a color catcher when washing fabrics like this, but I totally spaced. Overall, it’s not really noticeable, but something to note if you have this one in your stash.

IMG_2509

She generally wears a 12/14 in girls sizes, but her measurements put her all over the place for this pattern. I decided to sew a straight size 12 since I didn’t need to be overly fussed about fitting. This seems to have worked out just fine—it fits well through the shoulders, and still has some ease through the waist. Now, she’s not really into letting me closely examine her to check the more fine points of fitting (and this print is really busy, obscuring any fit issues from the casual observer) but I think she could use a little extra length in the bodice front.

IMG_2505

The sleeves have quite a bit of extra ease in the sleeve cap—more so than a knit tee requires—so I lowered the cap by about 3/8″ to remove some of it. Also, the sleeves have a 1″ hem allowance, which seems unusually deep, so I cut off 1/2″ and did my preferred 1/2″ hem.

The only other change I made was to the neckline. The instructions suggest that you double turn the neckline and top stitch in place (a 5/8″ hem allowance). I just really, really hate that type of finish, and looking at the few examples I found online, the neckline looks too wide to me. Changing nothing to the pattern, I simply added a 1/2″ neckband, sewn with a 1/4″ SA. With the neckband it looks more like a regular t-shirt neckline, and that’s really what we wanted anyway.

IMG_2503

Sleeve cap and neckline preferences aside, this is a great pattern, and I’m sure I’ll be using it frequently. My girls love this style of dress, and it’s so fast to sew up. Most importantly, she immediately declared it her “favorite dress ever!” so. That’s a win.

—lisa g.


TL;DR

PATTERN: McCalls 7079
FABRIC: cotton/lycra from califabrics.com (available here)
SIZE: 12 (measurements for reference: 5’0″/32″/24.5″/31.5″)
MODS: added neckband
ALTERATIONS: lowered sleeve cap
NEXT TIME: add length to front bodice

Woven Tank Love | McCalls 7411

Before I get into the pattern, on my last post I made vague references to having a really sucky year… I don’t like to bother about personal issues here (sewing is my refuge from life and stress!), but it was very heartwarming to read all your well-wishes. Without going into all the nitty gritty (gawd… I could write a book on it) my husband had been laid off from his job (single income family… yay *sarcasm*) and it took a bit longer than anticipated to get back on our feet. We’re on the up and up now and he landed a fantastic job. It feels like the stars aligned for us in the best possible way, and this, after feeling like every single thing had gone wrong over the past… well, decade, has just felt amazing. There’s still a mountain to climb before we’re back to good, but we’re feeling optimistic for the first time in a very, very long time.

IMG_2084

But on to the important stuff! I’ve made Grainline Studio’s Tiny Pocket Tank at least six times by now, and despite my best efforts it just never fit right. They’re still perfectly wearable—and I wear them constantly during the summer—but I’ve tired of tinkering with that pattern and decided to start from scratch with a new pattern. I picked up McCalls 7411 and decided to sew up a muslin in some cotton lawn to check the fit. Even though I’ll probably always use a rayon challis or some other drape-y fabric, I find it easier to diagnose fit issues in something more stable.

Side note: I’m going to start adding a TL;DR section at the bottom of my posts if you just want to scroll through pics and get the basic deets in the fewest words possible.

I traced off view A in a size S, then slashed and spread it at the side seam and added about 3/4″ (3″ in total) at the hip. After my muslin, I pinched out a tiny bit at the shoulder seam/neckline to do a square shoulder adjustment, did a SBA, then pinched out some width under the arms, blending to nothing at the waist. For once the bust dart was in the right spot (warning to those who often lower bust darts! I usually hike it up a good 1/2″!). I also eliminated the CB seam and cut it out on the fold.

IMG_2098

I sewed up my adjusted pattern in a rayon challis from JoAnn’s and I love how it came out! The only thing I’ll change next time will be raising the armholes. I checked the armholes on my muslin, but they seemed okay. It’s possible the fabric stretched out a bit during construction, though it’s pretty common for me to raise armholes.

IMG_2073

As a nod to the TPT, I added a tiny pocket to this pattern. I keep a few pocket templates around my sewing room, so I just used one I had on hand. I’m very happy with how this tank came out, and it will be my go-to woven tank pattern from now on. There was always something off about the Grainline version and, since Jen retired that pattern and came out with the Willow as a replacement, I kinda felt like it was time for me to move on as well.

lisa g.


TL;DR

PATTERN: McCalls 7411, view A
FABRIC: rayon challis from JoAnn, discontinued
SIZE: S, with alterations (measurements for reference: 5’8″/34″/27.5″/39″)
MODS: eliminated CB seam
ALTERATIONS: square shoulder, SBA, narrowed underarm, added width to hip
NEXT TIME: reduce armhole depth

Salme Buttonless Shirtdress

Oh hey there! I’ve been pretty low on blogging motivation as of late, but maybe Spring will put me back in the mood for taking pictures and whatnot. Life took a (somewhat) unexpectedly crappy turn this year, but hopefully we’ll be back in the swing of things shortly. Fingers crossed!

FullSizeRender_2

Anyway, I’ve been in the mood for a new spring/summer dress. I really want to make a proper shirtdress, but time and motivation lacking, I decided to try the Salme Buttonless Shirtdress; a  pattern I bought ages ago but never got around to sewing. It’s a pullover shift dress with a loose fit and collar band. It’s a nod to the shirtdress without quite going all the way. I think it was the gathers at the neckline that sent this pattern into MUST HAVE territory for me, because I adore that small detail.

IMG_1666

This is the first time I’ve made a Salme pattern, and tbh, I haven’t seen many people sewing them up. I don’t know why though, the designs are all really classic and they come in at a very reasonable price ($6-8). Based on my measurements, I cut a 6 at the bust, 8 at the waist, and 10 at the hip. If you’re in between sizes it would be pretty safe to size down. This dress has plenty of ease, but not overwhelmingly so.

I feel like maybe the patterns are drafted for someone a bit taller than average. The bust dart and arm holes are a solid 1″ too low. It’s fairly common for me to remove length above the bust, so this isn’t a huge surprise. Also, I typically add length to hemlines, but here I shortened it by 1″ and it still hits just above my knees (I am very long from waist to knee, fyi).

FullSizeRender_3

Since the bust dart was so low, I decided to unpick the side seam and dart and re-sew the dart angled up by 3/4″. This worked alright for a quick and dirty fix—at least the dart is headed in vaguely the right direction now. I wasn’t super fussed about getting a perfect fit, so while I couldn’t do anything about the low armhole at least the bust dart is passable. The only criticism I have of this pattern is that there isn’t a marking for where to start the neckline gathers. I just guessed and tried to make sure it was even on both sides. Oh, and you do have to add seam allowances. That’s not a negative in my opinion, but I know it’s a deal breaker for some.

FullSizeRender

The fabric I used is a linen, rayon, poly blend from Joanns. Isn’t the color divine? I hesitated for a moment because it’s so bright, but I’m glad I went with it. I’m typically not attracted to solid colored fabrics (must buy all the pretty prints!) but when I get dressed in the morning I always wish I had more solids to choose from.

FullSizeRender_4

Bottom line on this one… LOVE. This is such a versatile dress that would be equally suited to a summer BBQ as it would a date night. It isn’t fussy, and it feels very chic. With shirtdresses all the rage these days, I would think this would be a very popular pattern. Anyone else been sewing up Salme Patterns? I’ll definitely be paying more attention to their offerings in the future.

lisa g.