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.

floral neoprene dress | M6754

I snagged this digital print neoprene from a local fabric shop for a few dollars a yard. I had no idea what I was going to do with it at the time—impulse buy if there ever was one. Not long after I was digging through my pattern stash and pulled out McCalls 6754. A quick consult on IG as to whether or not it was too loud (haha nobody ever says “no!”) and I was off and running.

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This pattern was fairly popular a while back, so I had a handful of reviews to check out. Most people gave it the usual “too big” review, and many complained of the straps being too wide set. Usually McCalls has finished measurements on the tissue, but not this one. I didn’t want the bodice to end up too tight (neoprene is stretchy, but not crazy stretchy) so I aimed for about zero ease. My measurements put me in a Medium in the bust, and a Large at the waist/hip.

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After measuring the pattern pieces, I went with a Small , but added about a half inch to each side seam, and cut a Medium in the skirt. The bodice has a fairly large waist dart, so I reduced the dart, then removed the same amount from the side seam. I should have just done a standard SBA, but I guess I was feeling lazy. To fix the wide strap issue I simply nudged the strap in by a 1/4″, blending into the original neckline and armhole. I also raised the back neckline by 1″, and the front by 1.5″. One inch in the front probably would have been sufficient, but I wanted to keep it at a comfortable height. The back bodice is drafted with a CB seam, but since there was no back shaping I cut it on the fold (same with the skirt). Lastly, I raised the armhole by 3/8″ and blended into the original seam line.

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I’m not big on the “turn and stitch” method for knit necklines, so I trimmed the seam allowances down to 1/4″, and used strips of knit fabric to do a bias facing type finish. Then, I topstitched all the bindings on my coverstitch.

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I constructed the bodice on my sewing machine and serged the seams after. Since there is only width-wise stretch, there was no point in using the serger for vertical seams. Plus, I wanted to be able to adjust the side seams if necessary. I did use the serger to attach the skirt; there is no zipper in this dress, so I needed to keep the waistline stretchy.

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I did a simple rolled hem on the serger to finish the hemline. I didn’t see any point in fighting with the fabric and trying to press and top stitch a hem—this stuff can’t hold a crease. (Okay, I say it can’t hold a crease, but after cutting I noticed there were some wrinkles in the fabric I couldn’t press out. Probably why I found it in my discount fabric shop to begin with!) While cutting, I added an extra inch to the length just to be on the safe side. Coupled with my lack of hem, the skirt is basically lengthened by 1 5/8″.

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I am completely in love with how the dress came out. It’s so bright, and spring-like, and fun! Initially I was worried that the skirt would end up too sticky-outtie in the neoprene, but it ended up with just the perfect amount of body. This pattern is definitely made for heavier knits like ponte, doubleknit, and neoprene. I wouldn’t bother with any fabric lighter than those.

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obligatory.

As far as the sizing, my alterations did the trick and I’m happy with the fit. I still have maybe 1″ of ease at the waist, but I’m okay with that. One thing that would have saved me some trouble would have been doing a petite adjustment above the bust. I haven’t quite figured out how much I need to remove (somewhere around 3/8-1/2″) but I think it’s time to add that to my standard list of adjustments. That will save me some of the neckline, bust dart, and armhole raising I’m always doing. And I’ll probably go back and do a real SBA instead of my cheater one. I can definitely see myself coming back to this pattern—it’s super quick to make and I like using the heavier fabrics since it’s less clingy over the lumpy bits. :)

—lisa g.

McCalls 6948

Making tiny dresses for my girls has a way of becoming very addictive. Not many fit issues to worry about, small yardage, and quick to make. I bought this blue rose fabric last fall-ish, rescued from the clearance table at Joanns. It’s one of those rare sightings of rayon challis—wish they’d stock more of this instead of all the nasty poly prints they have in so much abundance. I really planned to use this fabric for myself, but the scale of the print seemed either too big or too small… just right for a pint size dress though. :)

I took these photos just over a week ago… that white stuff was our last little pile of snow!

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McCalls 6948 was just the ticket. Seriously cute pattern if you have girls to sew for! It’s kind of like a mini Sewaholic Saltspring, complete with several variations. My girls are all asking me for maxi skirts or dresses, so I decided to make the variation that has a faux-wrap skirt. It’s nice and long in the back, but shorter in the front so it’s runaround friendly. I’m always worried about them tripping in longer skirts otherwise. (True confession… I totally spaced on cutting the front skirt pieces on the correct grain. The CF should be on the straight of grain, but I lined up the side seam on the straight by mistake. Oops!)

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I fully lined the dress instead of doing a bias facing on the neckline and sleeves. The fabric probably would have been okay without a lining, but it was just right on the line for opacity. To line the skirt, I omitted the wrap and simply marked 2″ above where the front panels overlap, and cut it on the fold. I kept the back skirt lining short as well, since there was no need to make the lining as long as the dress.

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For sizing, I cut a 4, then slashed and lengthened to the size 6, and cut a straight size 6 skirt. The neckline is borderline too low for what I’d expect in a kid’s pattern, so that’s something to watch out for. Overall, it came out a little bigger than I was anticipating, but it should fit her for quite a while.

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This pattern gets a huge thumbs up from me, and an even bigger thumbs up from my girl. I think she’s worn it three times already, and is always swan-ing around and letting the skirt flap around dramatically. I’m sure I’ll be using this pattern many more times!

—lisa g.

pencil me in | NL 6107

Hey guys! I thought spring would never make it to my neck of the woods. After the epic and record-breaking winter of snow and cold, it looks like we’re finally thawed and back in business! How better to celebrate than by wearing a loud floral print?

So, I really thought pencil skirts were just never going to work for me, and for the longest time, I didn’t care all that much. Even though I love the look of a pencil skirt, it’s just not something I have all that much use for. However, I’ve had pencil skirts and sheath dresses on my mind lately, and I had this fantastic floral cotton sateen so… I decided to give it a shot.

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my photos are all a bit squinty-eyed… not gonna complain about the sunshine though!

I went through my patterns and found New Look 6107. I slapped together a muslin and while it wasn’t awful, I knew there was something wrong—I just couldn’t put my finger on what it was, or how to go about fixing it. I was going to scrap the idea, but I threw “pencil skirt fitting” into google and out spat a pencil skirt fitting post from the ever-lovely Gail, of Today’s Agenda. How could I have forgotten that amazing post?!

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Reading that was a huge “ah-ha!” moment, so I went back to my pattern and made a few adjustments. For the longest time, I thought that it was my backside giving me fit issues. Turns out that was only a tiny part of the equation. What was really throwing off the fit was my tummy and prominent thigh, leading me to the Full Tummy Adjustment, and the Prominent Thigh Adjustment. Gail describes these perfectly, so if you’re interested in the nitty gritty, just check out her post.

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I adjusted my pattern and went ahead and cut my fabric. I basted everything together first to check the fit. Initially I overdid the prominent thigh adjustment, so I took everything apart and backed down on how much I added. While the fit isn’t yet perfect, I at least know what to do about it now!

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This sateen is a cotton/lycra blend, so it has a decent amount of stretch. Unfortunately, it bags out fairly quickly, so if I do any amount of sitting it gets saggy looking. Also, the waistband came out a bit too big, so I really should go back in and adjust that. During construction, I sewed each waistband piece to the corresponding skirt piece and sewed the side seams all in one (skirt, waistband, facing) so altering it won’t be difficult.

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FYI, there was nothing special about this particular pattern; darted pencil skirt patterns are a dime a dozen. Aside from the aforementioned alterations, I added 1/4″ of width into the back dart, lengthened the skirt by 1″, and pegged it about 3/4″ at each side seam. I did choose my size based on finished measurements, because the pattern stated that there was 3 1/2″ of ease at the hip—hilarious! This thing would have been falling off me, had I gone by the size chart. In the future, I think I would add a little more to the back dart, possibly splitting it into two darts, and lengthen the skirt even further. There were two lengths offered in the pattern, and I went with the shorter. Adding an inch in length is pretty standard for me. I think perhaps another two inches in length would be nice.

So that’s about all I have on that. I’m super happy that I don’t have to avoid slim skirted patterns any more, now that I’ve got a handle on the necessary adjustments. Yay sewing!

lisa g.

Easter dress no. 3 | Simplicity 1510

Finally, here is the last Easter dress for this year. My oldest daughter, Anastasia, the only one who actually required a new dress, turns up her nose at anything too girly. She does like dresses and skirts, she just insists that they not be too poofy. We flipped through patterns together, and Simplicity 1510 really caught her eye.

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Purple has always been her favorite color, so when I saw this linen Ikat leaf print at Joanns, I knew she would approve. Like my other girls, she is narrower than she is tall on the sizing chart. She measured about an 8 in width, and 10 in height. I slashed the bodice horizontally and added 1/2″ in length. I kept the armhole depth at the size 8, as she’s built somewhat like me—more petite in the upper body, but longer from the waist down. For the skirt, I simply extended the length down to the size 10.

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This is a cute little pattern, and I love the pleating at the waistline. The bodice hits close to the natural waist in the back, but curves up to a more empire shape in the front. I know it’s difficult to see the details because of the print, so check out the line drawing so you can see the style better.

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The pattern came together very quickly and easily, however, there is an error in the line drawing. It shows that the princess seams should line up with the pleats, but they do not. It does line up with the pleated edge on the inside of the dress, so just be aware of that if you’re looking to make this pattern. Other than that little glitch, I’m very pleased with the pattern! I find that in the McCalls and Simplicity kids patterns, you have to pay close attention to the body measurements (waist, chest, and height!) and ignore the size number. I feel kind of crazy for making a size 8 for my nearly 11-yr old, average-sized daughter, but there you have it. It fits well and she’s sure to wear it often.

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Whew, all that dress sewing just makes me want to sew more dresses… it’s so addictive! Now it’d be great if we could conjure up some Spring weather. The last few patches of snow are just now melting!

—lisa g.