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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

plaid wool coat

A couple years ago my husband’s aunt sent me a box of fabric, which included several cuts of Pendleton wool in various weights. No idea where it all came from originally, but there were receipts mixed in with the fabric dated from 1992. (So does 20+ years make it vintage? Egads!) Most of the fabrics coordinate in a pink and teal color scheme—not so much my style, but it occurred to me that this plaid fabric would look great on my 10 year old daughter, Sylvia.

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Since the fabric is crazy bold, I wanted to pair it with a classic tailored style. I used Burda 8/2013 #143, which I’ve had on my favorites list for ages. It is quite a bit of work prepping a Burda coat pattern, but the lack of included seam allowances allows me to add SA widths of my choosing, which I actually love. I followed the RTW Tailoring Sew-A-Long over on Pattern-Scissors-Cloth (instead of the Burda directions), which makes the whole process go so smoothly. Gawd if she released an eBook with all that great information, I would be first in line to buy it!

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I used Pro-Weft Supreme, Medium fusible from Fashion Sewing Supply for the interior structure. This interfacing was an absolute pleasure to work with. It’s very soft and easy to fuse; perfect for a coat. I also used fusible hair canvas for the collar stand and lapels. I lined the coat with a thin poly satin (leftover from another coat project) and then underlined the main body pieces in flannel for some additional warmth.

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Cutting out plaid coating is no joke people. It took me several hours, even though there were relatively few pieces. Each piece was cut individually in a single layer, and painstakingly matched. Despite being suuuuper careful, I managed to cut the back pieces about 1/4″ off from the front. Thankfully, I was able to shift and trim things ever so slightly to fix it. Sheesh, that was a close one!

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I really waffled about whether to cut the welts on the bias or to match them across the front. I cut some scraps of fabric for comparison, and ended up nixing the bias cut. The plaid is so large that it was hard to find a spot where the bias cut looked good. Before diving into the welt pocket construction, I took a practice run on scraps. The coating fabric isn’t super thick, but thick enough to create a challenge getting everything to lay flat. Basting the welts shut and giving it a good press with steam followed by a clapper did the trick.

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Since this is a proper tailored coat, I made sure to add shoulder pads (teeny tiny ones that I made!) and sleeve heads. The shoulder pad is just one layer of thick fleece covered in muslin, and the sleeve head is cut from a scrap of flannel. You can kind of see all the inner structure in this photo where I’m attaching the lining to the facing.

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I decided to make fabric covered buttons for the coat because there was nothing in a store that was going to be just right. Remember how I said I had coordinating wool fabrics? That came in handy here! The pink wool that I used to cover the buttons is lighter weight (I made a blazer out of it a while back) and was just the thing for covered buttons. For the buttonholes, I used top stitching thread to give them a little more substance. My machine does’t have a keyhole feature, unfortunately, so these are just plain jane. I thought of doing them by hand, but these ended up looking good enough.

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For once I didn’t want to rely on top stitching to keep the lapels nice and crisp, so I made sure to under stitch the collar, lapel, and front edge. Then I basted the edges and gave it all a good solid pressing and steaming, and let it set over night. This step makes all the difference in the world on the finished product.

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I couldn’t be more pleased with the outcome on this coat! The pattern is great, the fabric is perfect, and my daughter loves it. Initially, I was worried that the fit was a little too perfect, but It looks like she has a good 1.5″ in sleeve length for growing room. In other words, she should be able to wear it next fall/winter as well.

lisa g.

out with 2015… in with 2016

I’ve been trying to figure out what my sewing hits and misses were for 2015. It’s been difficult to even choose because I really love and wear pretty much everything I made. I seldom make frivolous things, or really experiment at all—I have neither the time nor the budget for that!  I think there is only one thing I made this year that could classify as a miss.

First up, my favorites (in chronological order)

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Camas Blouse: I absolutely love this shirt. It’s the shirt I reach for when I want to feel put together while maintaing absolute comfort. The colors are great, the fit is great—wait. Why haven’t I made this several more times??? [blog post]

Linden: I made the Linden twice this year and they are probably two of my most worn garments, neither of which actually made it to the blog—the horror! The first I made to be oversized with a lighter weight french terry, the second was from a thicker sweatshirt fleece. After making the sweatshirt fleece one it felt a bit blah and boring, so I jazzed it up with some fabric paints. I love how it came out! [grey Linden | heart Linden]

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Liberty Granville: I muslined the daylights out of this pattern and cut into one of my precious fabrics, a Liberty Lawn. This is another shirt I can turn to when I want to look and feel put together. [blog post]

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Thurlow drawstring shorts: These were the hit of the summer! I converted my beloved Thurlow pattern to be a pull on short with drawstring waist. [striped | brown]

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McCalls 7242: I love this dress to bits! I wish my daily life included the need to wear dresses more often, because I LOVE this dress. [blog post]

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Butterick 6169: Despite finishing this very late into the fall, I was able to wear it several times. It just made me feel cool, and that’s always a good thing. I’ll be eager to pull it out again when light jackets are needed. [blog post]

The only “miss” would have to be my Morris Blazer. This makes me really sad, but the fabric bagging out at the front annoys me to no end. Also I have a hard time figuring out what to wear with it. I’ve thought of trying to sneak in some interfacing to stabilize the front better but I fear that would just be a mess. I’ll probably try to top stitch the facing in place, and if that doesn’t work, give it away, as much as it hurts. I’ll be revisiting that pattern in a cotton sateen or stretch twill in the spring, that’s for sure!

The takeaway from this is that I should stick to outfitting my daily life; comfortable, but still a little special. I also sewed several solid colored t-shirts that deserve honorable mention. They’re in constant wardrobe rotation, but not all that exciting to write about.:) The only near failure was due to poor fabric choice, and hopefully I can right that wrong.

ON TO 2016…

Jeans/pants/trousers: I really need to tackle the lack of pants situation in my wardrobe. My old handmade jeans are now too big in places (waist/butt/thighs), still to small in others (knees/calves), so it’s time I buckle down and make some new ones. I still have RTW skinnies that fit me, so I may try flares this go around. The pattern I use is up in the air at this point, but I have a few ideas. I also want to make at least one or two more Lily Ski Pants. I haven’t blogged about my first pair yet, but you can see them on IG. They’re great pants but I need to adjust the fit in a few places before making more. I’d also like a pair of Thurlows in stretch twill for casual-ish wear.

Coat: I really, really wanted to tackle the Cascade Duffle, but I fear time and budget will prevent me again this winter. I want to do it right with quality materials, and given that I have perfectly acceptable winter coats (including THIS ONE that I still wear) I can’t justify the cost. So to scratch that coat making itch, I’m currently working on a tailored coat for one of my daughters. I have all the bits and pieces for this in the stash, so at least I get some coat making practice, even if it’s not for me.

Husband’s wardrobe: The man needs some business shirts and dress pants. I’ve made them before, it’s just time to crack down and make them again. And really, it’s only fair that I sew for him more since RTW is hard to find for his small-ish frame. I have a hard time picking out fabrics for him though, so I’ll need to do some serious swatching. In the meantime, I have one good shirting fabric, and one good wool pants fabric, so I’ll start there sooner rather than later… I think. No promises though.😉

What about you? Any exciting 2016 sewing plans?

lisa g.

Christmas dresses

I didn’t have any grand plans to make a new dress for Christmas this year, but the stars (and a couple stashed and scrap fabrics) aligned and boom—New Dress. It’s been so long since I made a simple fitted bodice/full skirt dress that I forgot how much fun it is! To be honest, I could use a few new dresses like this. It’s been years since I was in the “always sew dresses” phase of sewing, and it would be nice to have my wardrobe better reflect my current tastes.

All these photos were taken on Christmas Eve… I thought about retaking proper blog pics but I figured that wasn’t likely to ever happen!

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Anyway, I cut the bodice from the skirt of a failed dress from a long time ago. It’s a cotton sateen I picked up for $4/yd at a local shop eons ago. Despite the bargain price, it happens to be really nice fabric. The skirt is also a cotton sateen that I bought a year and a half ago from the same shop. It was one of those cool fabrics I stumbled upon and just had to take home with me. I always had this particular dress in mind, but never took the time to sew it up until now.

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I didn’t use a single pattern, but rather a combination of two. The bodice is highly tweaked and modified from it’s origins as the Colette Patterns Hawthorn. I spent so much time fitting that pattern perfectly that I traced it off and altered the design details (eliminated the button front, made a scoop neckline, added CB seam for a zipper) to work as a kind of bodice sloper. So glad I did, because it was there right when I needed it. For the skirt I used McCalls 6833 (previously used HERE) because I love the deep pleats, and the hemline is straight—perfect for this sort of print.

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This is the only side view photo I have… no idea what’s going on here!

I drafted an all-in-one facing for the bodice, which I cut from a plain cotton since I didn’t have enough of the sateen. I could have fully lined the bodice, but I just really like facings, especially with a thicker fabric like this sateen. I didn’t line the skirt, but I plan to add a lining in the future to keep it from sticking to my tights.

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I also made a quick dress for my oldest daughter, Anastasia. I used the Flashback Skinny Tee as a base, chopped off at the waistline. This tee is cut straight down at the sides, so I brought the side seams in at the waist, and curved the front waistline down a tad so it wouldn’t ride up in the front. I did a narrow binding at the neckline, and drafted a half circle skirt. The dress is still a little big, but she’s 11 and bound to grow.😉 The fabric was purchased from Joann’s. It’s a thick stable knit, but thinner than a ponte. It has a hint of shimmer, which makes it a little special.

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As it turns out, everyone was wearing a garment I had made at some point! The grey wrap sweaters were from two years ago (and finally fit like they’re supposed to!), the white dress is a first communion dress I shortened to a more casual length, the green dress I made five or six years ago, my son’s button down was made over a year ago, and even my husband’s shirt was made by me.

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Happy 2016, everyone!

lisa g.

Butterick 6169

Man, life has been busy! I made this jacket, took photos, and drafted a post that has been sitting here for exactly a month. So yeah, this jacket was a last minute fall project, but the weather here has been cray cray warm, so I’ve managed to wear it so much more than I anticipated! I figured it would have been closeted until spring, but even this week—Christmas week—we’re looking at 60F degree weather. Unheard of out here in the Northeast. So anyway… I’ve been wanting a lightweight jacket as an alternative to my RTW denim jacket for a really long time. I love a denim jacket, but every once in a while it just doesn’t work with an outfit. So I decided to make Butterick 6169, which had been on my mind ever since it came out this past spring.

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I used a lightweight canvas from Joann’s for the shell and bemberg rayon for the lining. The canvas was pretty inexpensive, and I don’t think I’d really recommend this particular fabric. It’s thin, which is fine, but it’s a little bit “crispy” feeling. It has softened up a with wear, thankfully. Even though the fabric quality is a bit meh, its redeeming quality is the color—it’s the perfect neutral olive green and will go with so many different things in my wardrobe. I used a solid black bemberg for the lining. As much as I like bold colors or patterns for linings, I decided to keep it simple this time around. Ugh bemberg I hate working with you SO MUCH. But, it’s soft as buttah once all is said and done… worth the headache for sure.

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This pattern has been really popular, and for good reason. It’s fairly quick to make, as far as lined jackets go, and the exposed zip is a great feature. I did feel that the zipper was a little awkward to put in, though. The center of the zipper teeth are supposed to sit right on the seam line of the pattern piece, which means that you have to sew the zipper with a smaller seam allowance. So when sewing above and below the zipper, you have to kind of scoot your stitching line back to 5/8″. It looks totally fine in the end, so maybe I’m just being weird?

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I decided to top stitch many of the seams, using my 1/4″ foot as a guide. I wanted to use actual top stitching thread, but I couldn’t find a good color match and had to stick with regular thread. At least that saved me the trouble of switching out my thread constantly.

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I’m happy with the fit of the jacket, and I really didn’t fuss around with making many adjustments. I made an 8 through the shoulder and bust, grading out to the 10 at the side seams around the waist (my measurements here are approx 34″-28″-39″ and I’m fairly petite through my upper body). If I were using a heavier fabric I would have to go up a size, but for the most part this jacket will be worn with sleeveless tops and dresses, so I wanted it more fitted. I can easily wear a fitted long sleeve tee, but anything bulkier would be uncomfortable. I do like that the armhole is nice and high and the sleeves are narrow. I usually have to make alterations for that, but not this time.

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If I were to make this pattern again, I would do a forward shoulder adjustment and lengthen the sleeves. I usually add 1″ to sleeves but just forgot! Also, since I used a stiffer fabric, I had trouble with the seams that that required easing. If I were using a wool, or other more tailorable fabric, it would be totally fine. Overall, this is a really solid jacket pattern, and I wouldn’t mind making it again. It’s both streamlined and detailed and the style works with many different types of fabrics. Since our fall has lingered a bit I’m so glad I didn’t wait until the spring to sew it up!

lisa g.