Chi Town Chinos

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

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

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

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

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

lisa g.


TL;DR

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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.