floral blouse | Simplicity 1106

I wanted a quick top out of a rayon challis I picked up on clearance at JoAnn’s recently (seriously, I’ve found some great fabrics there lately!). I was originally going to make something a little more detailed, but the heat and humidity has zapped all the energy outta me. Instead, I decided to sew up a simple kimono sleeve top using Simplicity 1106. There’s nothing groundbreaking or earth shattering about this pattern, it’s just a nice, simple top.

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I made view D, which has a front pocket and cute cutout detail in the back. However, I omitted the cutout because I was afraid it would dip below my bra. I meant to measure the cutout so I could see for future reference but I’ve already folded all the tissue up and put it away… oops.

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I always seem to have a problem with tops being too big on top, so I gambled and traced off an XS at the neckline and bust (I measured at the top of the S range), then graded out to the M for the hem. My shoulders may border on the narrow side (I think? Not sure what the standard is for shoulder width though), and the XS turned out to be perfect. The fit through the hip was a little more fitted than I had anticipated, but that’s partially due to the length of the top, which I cut down. I took 2″ off the hem, and 2.5″ off at the side seams to give it a little more of a shirttail. I think this shortened length is good for either tucking in or leaving out.

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The top isn’t actually tight around my hips, I just have the front tucked in this picture.

I know most people (it seems) have a real hate for facings, but I was pleased to find that that is the method used by this pattern. Of course you could always sub a bias facing if that’s your jam, or if your fabric is on the sheer side. I top stitched the facing at 1/2″ to give it a subtle “design feature” element.

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Overall I’m pleased with this top, though I wish I would have paid more attention when cutting! I managed to get the only dead space of the print front and center, with the brightest flowers cutting into the neckline. Meh. The pattern placement on the back looks great, so I’m really bummed that I didn’t get similar placement on the front. Live and learn!

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I should mention that my shorts are another modified Thurlow made in linen. I loved my first pair so much, that I quickly cut out a second pair, and both have been in constant rotation!

—lisa g.

a campy blouse | McCalls 6512

I wanted to make a breezy summer top with a cotton voile I picked up at Joann’s. I went pattern diving in my stash and pulled out one I’ve had for years, but never sewed up—McCalls 6512. I love all the details on this pattern and the unique style lines, I don’t know why I waited so long to sew it! I was hesitant to use a voile because I thought it might end up too boxy and shapeless, but I think it worked out great.

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In fact, the cotton made all the fiddly details a breeze to construct. This top has pleated pockets, pocket flaps, an inset front panel, sleeve tabs, collar band, button band… the works. It’s hard to see all the details in this print, so here’s the line drawing.

Based on the finished measurements, I sewed a size 10 grading out to a 12 for the waist/hip. That comes out to be one size down in the bust, and two sizes down at the hip. The fit is a little roomy on top, but nothing terrible. I could probably have done an 8 on top, but I’m happy with the fit from the waist down. I’m beginning to think that I have square-ish shoulders, which is leading to some front and back neckline gaping (not just here, but patterns in general), so that’s another thing I’ll start to watch out for. I did lengthen the back hem by 1″ because I like a longer back hemline, just not as extreme as view B shows.

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As far as construction goes, I pretty much followed the directions (GASP). I did add extra top stitching at the button band and collar. The pockets called for two rows of stitching, so I figured top stitching the button band and collar wasn’t totally out of line. Also, the pattern suggested some pretty extensive interfacing, which I felt would be too much for this fabric. I opted to use my lightest fusible for the pocket flaps, sleeve tabs, and button placket, and only interfaced one side to keep it flexible. I went with a slightly heavier fusible for the collar so it would retain its shape.

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This shirt in voile definitely has a campy/safari vibe, so I decided to embrace it and pair it with the khaki Moss Skirt I made a couple years back. I would like to eventually make this blouse in rayon, which I think would give it a completely different look. This was such a fun pattern to make, but I think it may be out of print. Snatch it up if you ever find it, it’s a real gem!

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—lisa g.

a very loud alder shirtdress

Hey guys! June was a major whirlwind around these parts, with school finishing up and the accompanying busyness that ensues. Then we took off for our family vacation as soon as school was out and were gone for almost two weeks. We drove cross country, from (west of) Boston all the way to my home town in the middle of Kansas. It’s about a 24 hour drive, but with kids who have bladders the size of a walnut, it ends up being much, much longer. Oy. Not my favorite trek, but flights to KS (for a family of six) are just crazy expensive. We managed to visit some friends and family both coming and going in order to convince ourselves that it was worth the effort!

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Anyway, we’re back now, so here is a Grainline Studio Alder Shirtdress I furiously sewed up before our trip. I jumped on this pattern the second it came out, but have only sewed it up once. THE SHAME! But I’ve had a hard time finding the right fabric since I needed it to be opaque, but not so stiff that it would be difficult to gather or not hang nicely. My dive of a fabric shop, Sewfisticated, stepped up to the plate and delivered this super awesome fabric. It’s a cotton sateen, but light weight enough to be a shirting fabric. It has the right drape and it’s perfectly opaque and the pattern is a large scale paisley. I could hardly believe my luck! Man I love that shop. Hardly anything is priced above $4/yd, unless it’s silk or wool.

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As I cut the dress out, I began to doubt my choice of admittedly very loud fabric. However, giant paisley=awesome so I kept at it. I’m very glad I did, because I think it’s a super fun dress. It wasn’t super fun finding buttons though. Purple is a pretty difficult color to match, and JoAnn’s yielded nothing. Shocking. Eventually I found something passable at Fabric Basement. Is it too picky to say that I prefer a four hole button when it comes to button ups? I suppose it can be forgiven since it’s a women’s dress and not a men’s shirt, but whatever. Random note: The pattern and website says you need 9 buttons, but you actually need 10. I had to leave off the last buttonhole because my buttons came in a pack of 3, and thus I only bought 9 buttons!

Fitting tweaks:

I’ve made view A before, so I had a good idea of the fitting tweaks I would need. I cut a 6 in the bodice with a teeny tiny SBA. To be honest, I probably wouldn’t even need to bother because the dart is fairly small to begin with. On the front, I graded the side seam out to the 8 (per my measurements) but left the back at a 6. My lower back is narrow and I would have been tempted to add darts for shaping, so I figured keeping the smaller size would have similar effect. Last time I raised the bust darts and armholes, but really what I needed was a petite adjustment, which is easier anyway. I shortened the bodice above the bust by 1/2″ and now everything is in place. I think I still added 1/4″ or so the the armholes, because I detest low armholes. Also, I feel as though I should raise the pockets by another 1/2″ or so, because the current placement kinda flattens my chest a bit, visually.

For the skirt portion, I cut a 10 (per my hip measurement). Then I sliced and lengthened the skirt by 1″ at the L/S line. I do wish I had another 1/2″ to 1″ in length, because I feel a bit exposed as is. The side curves up and feels really short, but I love the swoop of the back hemline. I carry my width in my thighs, so I feel mildly porky with my small upper body, skinny ankles, but thick thighs. Oh well… I will continue to wear this dress and hopefully make a few more in time!

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So that’s that. Great pattern, fit, style… everything. I’ll be sewing this up every time I find Alder-appropriate fabric!

—lisa g.

Southport Dress | True Bias

The Southport Dress by True Bias was a pattern I snatched up right away. It’s just so perfect for summer throw it on and look like I tried wear. Everyone seems to be making this dress in rayon, but I’ve been dying for a linen dress, so I went that route. Plus, I think it’s more helpful to fit a pattern using fabric with less drape. My fabric is another one of those nice linen/rayon blends from Joanns (this one, while it’s still available).

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I modified the bodice slightly to skip the button front and to eliminate the dart. This pattern is drafted for C cup (in sewing terms) and my measurements put me in an A. My upper bust is 33″, and full is 34″. Normally, I would take my upper bust measurement and add 3″ to select which size to make (for a C cup draft), then remove 2″ in a SBA. However, I went with a size 6 bodice (for a 35″ bust) and took out 1/2″ (1″ total), then went ahead and closed out the dart completely. I was left with a teeny tiny 1/2″ dart, so really what was the point? As it happens, closing out the dart added exactly the length I needed back into the waist seam.

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After trying the dress on, the bodice was just huge on me. I went back in and pinched out 1/2″ on the side seam under the arm, tapering to nothing, thus removing an extra 2″. Despite my adjustments, the bodice is still very roomy. Next time I’ll make a size 4 bodice with the same SBA and dart removal. Additionally, I’ll do a petite adjustment to hike the neckline (that I already raised by 1″) and armholes up where I prefer them.

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My hip measurement put me in a size 12, while my waist measurement was at a 6, so, I cut the waistband casing as a size 6 but the skirt a size 12. I simply made a few small tucks in the skirt when attaching the casing—since the waist is gathered the tucks blend in. I added 1″ in length (usual addition for my height) and 2″ on the back skirt panel. I wanted to make a side split hem, and thought it would look better if the back were slightly longer. Also, it’s just more comfortable when I sit down to have a little extra length back there. The skirt sizing is fine, though I could probably go down a size for stiffer fabrics like linen or chambray but keep the fuller skirt for fabrics with more drape.

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Overall I’m happy with the dress. I wore it as soon as I stitched up the hem, and again a few days later. Any of the oversized bodice issues haven’t bothered me too much, but I will alter the pattern for next time. I keep wishing I had another like it, so I’m sure I’ll be making another soon!

—lisa g.

modified thurlows in linen

I love the elasticized, drawstring-waist shorts I’ve seen in stores lately, so I thought I’d try to replicate the look from my beloved Thurlow pattern from Sewaholic. I’ve used this pattern so many times since it came out; well worth the investment if you happen to be pear-shaped. There wasn’t much I did to modify the existing pattern, but since it generated so much interest over on IG I figured I’d give you a rundown.

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I started off by changing the angle of the front pockets and re-drafting the pocket bits to suit my preference. It’s pretty easy to make this alteration, but I’m not going over it here; I just wanted to point it out so you knew why my pockets look different than the pattern shows.

I added 1/2″ on both the front and back side seams, grading back to nothing around the hipline. I also adjusted the pocket pieces to match. Then at center back, I added 1/2″ from the original stitch line, grading back to nothing at the notches, or where the crotch curve begins to straighten out. Don’t forget that this pattern has a CB extension, so I simply folded my pattern piece to accommodate the extra 1/2″, plus standard seam allowance. Since the waistband is going to be elasticized, I skipped sewing the back dart.

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I skipped the welt pockets and added patch pockets instead.

I measured all around the top edge of my pattern pieces to make sure it would be wide enough to be able to pull over my hips, and to determine the waistband length.

Lastly, to create a faux fly, I added a fold back fly facing by lining up the facing pattern piece at the seamline. When it came time to sew the fly, I edge stitched the CF seam line and topstitched following the facing, as per usual.

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To make the waistband, I took the measurement I got earlier (plus SA) and cut a straight piece 5″ wide. I pressed it in half, then pressed up the inner SA. I wanted a drawstring, so I made a couple buttonholes (which I reinforced with fusible before making). I sewed the waistband to the outside of the shorts, graded the seam, then pinned the turned up edge to the inside and topstitched from the outside, leaving a gap for elastic insertion.

You can use wider elastic if you want, but I liked a similar pair of RTW shorts that had a small channel of elastic, so I went with 1/4″ elastic. I topstitched 1/2″ from the folded edge, then again 5/8″ below that, again leaving a gap in the lower stitching for elastic insertion. Once my elastic was in, I closed up the gaps and inserted the drawstring through the buttonholes.

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So this is a bit long-winded for what it really is. I spent an hour tops deciding what pattern alterations to make. I was using fabric leftover from a previous project, so I wasn’t going to be devastated if this turned out to just be a muslin. However, I’m feeling pretty good about this pair, so I made sure to finish everything properly. These shorts are super comfy and will be perfect for the summer. In fact, I already bought more linen for a second pair.

—lisa g.

MORRIS BLAZER| Grainline Studio

Full disclosure: I am a Grainline Studio fangurl.

I ordered the Morris Blazer pattern the second it was released.  Jen had been teasing us about releasing it for what… years? Ha! It seemed like the perfect casual blazer—I knew there would be no hesitation. Fortunately, it was totally worth the wait, as I’m completely in love with it! No weird fit issues or tweaks, just pure love.

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Side note: I also made this t-shirt. Appropriately, it’s a Grainline Studio sleeveless Hemlock Tee with a slightly curved hemline and narrow bound neckline. I love this tee, and wear it all the time!

I made a size 4 and graded out to a 6 at the side seams (for reference, my measurements are 34-29-40). I usually make a forward shoulder adjustment, but I skipped it here since the shoulder seam sits a little bit forward anyways. And… that’s it for fit. Nice!

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I feel like I ran into problems with my fabric choice though. I used a really nice ponte from fabric.com and while I adore the fabric itself, I feel like it has too much drape for this blazer. You can see that the front of the blazer wants to bag out and not hang quite right. I made sure to block fuse my facings, since I find that knit fusible tends to shrink slightly under the heat and steam. However, if I make this blazer in ponte fabric again, I’ll throw in some fusible on the outer piece where it would be hidden by the facing. I don’t think you’ll run into this problem if you go with a stretch woven, but I’d be tempted to play it safe and use a lightweight fusible anyway.

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So that’s my only quibble with the pattern, and really the issue is specific to knit fabrics. Otherwise, the construction and directions are fantastic! Despite the fact that this blazer is unlined, the interior finish is very neat and tidy. Plus, holy cow, is this a quick project. I’m pretty sure the cutting and fusing took longer than the actual construction. I cut and finished it over a very-busy-with-other-things two days.

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I so badly want to sew up another right away, but I’m trying to move on to my summer wardrobe. I’m in need of new shorts, tanks, and t-shirts. We’re heading back to our hometown for our summer vacation right after school is out, and I’m pretty sure the Kansas summer will be in full force upon our arrival. Until then… mad sewing to make all the stuff I want and need for me and the family!

—lisa g.

Sewaholic | Granville Shirt

Back when Tasia released the Granville Shirt, I snatched it up immediately. It is so rare to find a women’s shirt pattern with all the proper shirt details that I had to put my money where my mouth is, and buy it. It has a proper two piece collar, back yoke, and tower placket for the cuff. Basically everything you’d expect from a RTW shirt. I really loved the version Tasia did in Liberty lawn (I need that print in my life!!), so it inspired me to finally dig out my own Liberty fabric I bought a year ago.

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I picked up this fabric last year when fabric.com had a sale on their Liberty fabrics. That brought it down to under $30/yd… still pretty rich for my budget, but I needed to see what the fuss was about. Thankfully I was not disappointed—this fabric is definitely worth the splurge. It presses perfectly, sews easily, heck it even cut easily. Once I had it in my hands, I just couldn’t figure out what to do with it. It’s far more sheer that I had anticipated, which meant it would have to be underlined for a dress. Buuuut I didn’t want to make anything fancy; I wanted something I could wear just whenever. I didn’t spend $60 on fabric for it to hang out in my closet, ya know? So when the Granville came along, I knew it was a perfect match. I love button ups, and the fabric weight and crispness is ideal.

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Since I was using expensive fabric, I made up a muslin to check the fit. Thank goodness I did, because it took quite a bit of work to get it right. Now, almost all the shaping for the pear figure is at the side seams. Even though I would classify myself as a pear shape, I’m more “junk in the trunk” than full hipped, and my “nipped waist” is long gone. To accommodate all that, I graded out at the side seam, but nipped in at the back princess seams. Then I brought the hip in at the side seam, and let out the same amount on the back seams. Basically I needed to transfer much of the side seam shaping to the back. I was still getting a little pooling in the lower back, so I straightened out the curve at the top of the back piece where it meets the yoke. That reduced the CB length slightly and helped everything to lay nicer. I also did a petite adjustment above the bust to hike up the bust dart and shorten the armhole depth.

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Things were starting to shape up once I got my personal fit adjustments taken care of. However, I ran into a lot of trouble with the sleeve and shoulder. I don’t really think I have narrow shoulders, but the shoulder seam was completely falling off, so I brought it in by 1/2″.

Now the sleeve. I have to say, I was not pleased with the shape of the sleeve. The sleeve cap is nearly symmetrical, which leads to a very restrictive fit (unless you have super erect posture, perhaps), and the sleeves are very narrow. I did a quick comparison to the Grainline Archer sleeve to see where I needed to go with it. I ended up bringing the curve of the sleeve cap out by about 3/8″ on the back side, and blended it into the bottom of the armhole, and up at the top of the sleeve cap (basically like Sunni did here, except that I didn’t add anything to the back armhole). Then I widened the sleeves by 1″ (1/2″ on each side) and pleated out the excess at the cuff.

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A couple other notes… The sleeves are very long on this pattern! The only sleeve length I removed was 3/8″ when I did the petite adjustment, but keep in mind I’m always adding at least 1″ to most patterns, and RTW is ALWAYS too short in the sleeves. I made my tower placket 1/2″ longer in case I had to shorten the sleeves, but I was happy with the length. Then on the collar, I’ve seen a few people comment that the collar stand didn’t fit the neck opening. I had no issues here, though I would say that having a 5/8″ SA at the neckline does no one favors.

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Overall, I am super pleased with the pattern. It’s clear that Tasia put a lot of thought into having excellent shirtmaking instructions—you won’t find directions better than these in any pattern out there. However, I feel like I have to put a disclaimer to watch out for the sleeves. I know a lot of people go weak in the knees when it comes to making armhole/sleeve cap adjustments—it certainly isn’t intuitive how to adjust this area. I actually put my original muslin aside for a solid month or more before going back in to figure it out. Admittedly, the petite adjustment I did (to shorten the armhole depth and raise the bust dart) went a long way in improving the fit, but that was only part of the issue. Having so little ease in the sleeves, and having a near-symmetrical sleeve cap is just problematic in my opinion.

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Okay, last thing… I’ve been asked a few times on IG about how the Granville compares to the Grainline Archer, but really we’re talking apples and oranges here. The Granville is fitted and shaped, whereas the Archer is loose and oversized. Personally, I have use for both patterns in my life; no need to choose one over the other. But, if the Archer just doesn’t have the shaping you want, the Granville is an excellent choice. I love that it is shaped without being tight or uncomfortable, so it will still work as an every day shirt. Anyways, I’ll be using both patterns for sure!

Whew! Guess I had a lot to say about this one. Hope you’re all having an excellent spring! We seem to have gone straight from the deep freeze of winter to the hot days of summer… 80F+ degree days this week… whut?! Not gonna complain though. :)

—lisa g.