Tiny Pocket Tank in silk

I’ve made several Tiny Pocket Tanks over the years and I wear them all the time in the spring, summer, and fall—definitely a wardrobe staple for me. I’ve always sewed it up in rayon challis, so when I spotted this great designer silk crepe de chine I decided to make a slightly more luxe version. I guess I was a little gun shy about cutting into this fabric since it sat in my stash for a few months. It’s not that I haven’t worked with floaty silks before, but you know how it is—must not ruin the pretty fabric!

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shorts are my favorite thurlows

I had a good think about how I was going to finish the neckline and armholes and in the end, decided to draft an all-in-one facing for a nice clean finish. I made sure to trim about 1/16″ off the facing at the neckline and armholes to ensure that it stays neatly tucked to the inside. It’s amazing what a difference it makes when I remember to do that! Between that and tacking the facing down at the side seams, the facing feels super secure with no risk of it flipping out.

I usually do that little trick where you sew the neckline and armholes completely by machine, but sometimes I feel like pulling the top out through the straps makes for unnecessary manhandling of the fabric. For this reason, I decided to go a different route, which includes hand sewing part of the straps to the facing. Hard to explain, but it felt more appropriate for this delicate fabric. Then I french seamed the side seams, and machine stitched the hem.

Since I’ve made this pattern so many times (though not much blog documentation—sorry!), I’ve been tweaking the fit as I go. I’m pretty close to perfect, however the top still seems to pull to the back. It’s almost as if the front straps are just too long, which may be partially due to some of the alterations I’ve made to the pattern. Grainline junkie though I am, this tank has been a real mind bender to fit properly! I’ve done a SBA, raised the bust dart, raised the neckline, and opened up a wedge into the neckline to adjust the angle of the strap at the shoulder seam. I’m sure I’ll continue to tweak this pattern, but in the meantime, all my iterations are perfectly wearable.

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I’m definitely loving this top in silk. Since it doesn’t require much yardage, I don’t mind splurging on nice fabric!

—lisa g.

Named Clothing | Alexandria Peg Trousers

I’ve long admired many patterns by Named Clothing, and yet it’s taken me until now to make any of their designs. It’s silly, because they draft for a taller woman, and I definitely fit that demographic. Well, aside from my weirdly petite upper body… totally out of proportion to the rest of me. Anyhoodle… I picked up the Alexandria Peg Trousers when they had a sale a few weeks back. I’ve made True Bias’ Hudson Pants and I wear them all the time (oops, never blogged!), so I thought a less sweat pant looking alternative would be really nice for actually leaving the house in. I found a rayon twill at JoAnn’s in a nice olive color and thought they would be a perfect match.

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First a bit about the pattern. I got the .pdf version, which includes two sizes per file (you get all the sizes, they’re just not nested like other patterns) with seam allowances included. I thought it was pretty handy to have the SA line drawn in, as I typically need to grade between different sizes for the waist and hip. I lucked out in that the two sizes I needed happened to be in the same file, so it wasn’t all that difficult to compare the two and make the necessary alterations. Even though it should have been simple I made it as complicated as possible. Way to go, self. For the back piece I took width off at the outer seam from waist to hip, then at the CB seam from the waist to maybe 4″ or so down (just above the bum, since i need plenty of room there). Then the front piece is where I made things difficult; sine there are pockets and pleats it was kind of a mind-bender as to where to grade in or out. But if you need to grade down for the waist, just take the extra width off the side seam (most of which is pocket) from waist to hip and call it a day. The pocket opening is far enough in from the side seam that you won’t mess up the proportions.

My fabric (rayon twill) was a real pain to work with; it’s nearly impossible to cut on grain, it’s shifty, it’s fray-prone, and stretches out of shape easily. It has so much drape that the fabric itself kind of bags out under its own weight. Because of that, the pants seem to have drag lines all up and down the seams. Kind of a bummer really. To be honest, I was super unhappy with the pants when I tried them on mid-construction as I was testing the elastic length. The rise was so high, they looked like clown pants! I tossed them aside for a few days as I contemplated whether or not to even finish them.

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Buuuuut I really, really hate to leave projects unfinished, so I decided to try and save them. I basted the pleats down to keep them in place so I could lower the rise. I cut 1″ off the front, tapering to 1/2″ at the back (I usually need to add extra to the back rise for boo-tay coverage, otherwise I would have done 1″ all around). I cut a new waistband, which I made about 1/2″ longer to compensate for the lower rise. I finished the pants, tried them on and was so much happier with them! Completely turned around how I felt about these pants.

However, even though I’m happy with how they look on me, they’re still oddly restrictive when I sit. I have to kinda pull the legs up to sit down, then they’re a little snug in the thighs, and tight at the knee and calf. It’s possible I should have lengthened them (I’m 5’8″—most of my height being in my legs…) as I don’t think I have particularly large calfs (13.5″). So in the end I have mixed thoughts about these pants, just not for the reasons I anticipated while I was in the throes of construction. Ultimately, I don’t think I’ll return to this silhouette in a woven fabric, but rather stick to knits.

Now to switch gears… The tee I’m wearing is a Grainline Studio Scout Tee, made in a rayon/poly blend knit. The poly is a bit eh but I super love this tee anyway. I think for a slouchy tee, the scout will always be my go-to pattern. The only thing I did differently here was scoop the sleeve hem up slightly at the center (3/8″ or so) so it doesn’t sit as straight across. Then I used my possibly favorite neck binding method of sewing the binding to the right side at a 1/2″ SA, then pressing the binding up and around the raw edge, then top stitching in place. I think this looks better than a banded finish, and involves less guesswork regarding how long to cut, or how tight to stretch the binding strip.

All in all, I’m pleased with my experience with Named patterns, and I look forward to making more of their offerings. I’ve seen the Inari tee/dress made up so many times (and I love every one) that I really want to give it a whirl. And they have new designs coming out very soon… can’t wait to see what they’ll be releasing!

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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.

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.

grainline studio | alder dress

i’m sure it’s no surprise that i pounced on the Alder Shirtdress about the second it was released. i love the ease, the button up style, and the knowledge that i’m getting some top notch drafting. and thank goodness Jen put this one in print, because the pdf would have been pretty cumbersome to assemble! not that that would have stopped me though.

note: if my dress looks a little wrinkly, or seams puckery, it’s because i washed it right after i finished sewing, but didn’t bother pressing 🙂

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i went with the shift version because i really like the swingy hemline and lack of frills. so many times in the past month i’ve stood in my closet deciding what to wear thinking man, an alder dress would be perfect for today… so if that’s not a good omen, i don’t know what is. fabric hunting was a little tricky, and i had a hard time finding something that would be opaque enough to not require a slip. (note to self: make a slip damnit!) i checked out the Robert Kaufman denim for some quality chambray and fell in love with the chambray dot in black.

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since i have that pear shape going on, i muslined the dress first. i went with a 6 on top, grading to an 8 at the waist, then a 10 at the hip. the size 6 was still 1″ bigger than my bust measurement, so i did a 1″ SBA. the dart is pretty small to begin with, so i may have been able to get away without fussing with it. however, i’m always annoyed when i end up with excess fabric in front. i also raised the bust dart by 3/4″, and raised the armhole by the same amount. these fall in my normal list of pattern alterations, so no surprise there.

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as anticipated, i had excess fabric in the back so i added some fisheye darts. each dart only took out 1/2″ (1″ total) because i wanted to stay in keeping with the original design. this isn’t a fitted dress, and i wasn’t about to change that! the darts worked great, but i would also be interested in trying out princess seams in the back. i think it could be a nice design feature and allow for more controlled shaping. plus it’s another seam that could be topstitched. ya know, if you’re into that sort of thing.

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the last thing i did was lengthen the dress by 1/2″. i was pretty happy with the unhemmed length of my muslin, and given that i’m 5’8″ (and especially long from waist to knee) i decided a tiny bit of length would be a good thing. it’s still pretty short, but i think it would start to look frumpy on me if lengthened any more.

this guy decided to join me

this guy decided to join me…

after mostly constructing the dress, it occurred to me that snaps would look really great instead of buttons. i sent out a little plea on IG about whether i should go with the berry color i had on hand or order some white snaps. IG overwhelmingly voted berry… being the contrarian i am, i went with white. i have a hunch that white will be my long-term preference, even if it meant another $10 and waiting three days. ultimately i want to be able to layer this dress with sweaters and tights, and white snaps would give me the most options.

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…and then offered to take my picture. not too bad for a 5-yr old

so yeah. i really, really, really love how this dress came out, and i can imagine several versions of it in my wardrobe. a silk ruffled version is definitely calling my name. wouldn’t that be heavenly to swish around in? hopefully that happens sooner rather than later!

—lisa g.

sleeveless archer in silk

it was only a matter of time before i made the ubiquitous grainline studio archer in a fabulous silk print. i prefer not to waste my precious fabrics on untested patterns, and since i’ve made the archer so. many. times. i felt no hesitation slicing into this beautiful yardage of silk crepe de chine. i love a good polka dot, but i ADORE an irregular polka dot. throw in the squiggly lines around those dots and i was a gonner. oh, and i got it for $10/yd at my local sewfisticated. their selection can be hit or miss, but it’s rare that i walk out of that place without at least one unique gem of a fabric at a stellar price.

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paired with my always in rotation moss skirt

i knew immediately that i wanted a sleeveless archer, having recently made one with good results (sadly, pilling beyond all rationality so it mostly stays home—sob!). since i was dealing with a floaty semi-sheer silk, i made sure to pick up some fine sewing thread (they carry it at joanns, chances are you just haven’t noticed). i recall from David Coffin’s Shirtmaking book that he suggests using a finer thread than your regular all purpose coats & clark.

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i have to say that it made a world of difference. in previous silk makes it was very difficult to sew without the seams puckering up, even if only slightly. the fine thread i used here did well gliding through the fabric without snagging or puckering. see, it’s not only necessary to use the proper needle, but the proper thread as well! it also made my topstitching look excellent, if i do say so myself. and ya’ll know how much i love my topstitching. 😉

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speaking of topstitching, typically you want to increase the stitch length. however, in shirtmaking, especially with dressier shirts, you actually decrease the stitch length (2-2.5 setting on my machine). go pull out one of your hubby/significant other’s business shirts and you’ll see what i mean. a shorter stitch length and a finer sewing thread will give you a most professional finish.

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i messed around with the button position in order to add one extra button down the front. from the original pattern, i’ve lengthened the shirt by about 1″ and that always left a weird space at the bottom. my second button ends up a little higher than i’d really prefer, but eh, no biggie.

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i had to be extra careful about my seam trimming since you can see the seam allowances through the semi-sheer fabric. i took my time and kept them at about 1/4″. the yoke is fully encased, and the side seams are frenched. no exposed seam allowances means it looks nice and tidy on the inside. honestly, this is one of my best finished shirts and i’m quite proud of it.

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despite taking my time i was still able to sew it completely in about 3 sittings. without those pesky sleeves to deal with, it sews up pretty fast. also, silk crepe de chine is a good silk to work with. it has a nice grip which makes sewing pretty painless, really. the bias binding is a different story, but you could always sub a cotton voile for those bits. plus, silk blouses are just heaven to wear! i plan to get loads of use out of this top.

—lisa g.

sleeveless archer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

lisa g.