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.

some not so boring basics

i love all the bright colored pants i’ve been seeing, and i finally got around to making a pair. i ordered this coral twill a while back under the want of pink twill. pink… coral… same diff? eh. it’s just another fashionfabricsclub.com not-exactly-what-i-thought-i-was-getting acquisition. i really waffled on whether or not to make these pants because of the color not being what i had in mind, but decided to go for it if for no other reason than to experiment with making a skinny cropped thurlow. then, if they didn’t turn out, i wouldn’t be too bothered. and whaddayaknow, i think they came out pretty okay!

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ugh, and can i just say how hard it is to photograph pants? i look at the pics and all i see are HIPS. yeah, bright colors exaggerate that visually, but hello! fun pants! that, and i made about every derp face possible… i took 80 photos, and this is all i have to show for it. sorry, i know you all come here to view my stunning photography skillzzz… aha, aha, aha… KIDDING. moving on…

i decided to give these a dressier edge and scale back on all the topstitching i usually do. also, since i knew i would be stitching and unpicking to get the leg shape right, leaving the topstitching out definitely kept the frustration at bay. i did topstitch the whole crotch seam because, let’s face it, my backside needs all the reinforcement it can get. i used a hook and eye closure, the waistband is stitched in the ditch to catch the facing, and i even sewed up a tube to make the belt loops instead of just topstitching the folds.

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i have to admit—getting the leg shape right was a lot more challenging than i had anticipated. i started out with a straight cut from about the knee down so i could easily taper in as i worked it all out. i’m not totally satisfied with the leg, but i have a much better idea of how to go about it for the future. after rounds of basting, taking in, letting out, taking back in… i finally just had to stop futzing and go with it. since this fabric is a non-stretch, it’s a delicate balance to achieve both wearability and good fit. i’ll certainly wear these pants, especially as the weather cools but before the chill really sets in; they’ll look great with my knit blazer, a denim jacket, my chambray archer, an in-the-works archer, and a few other tops in my wardrobe. they’re definitely a win, and definitely a learning experience!

EDIT: in case anyone is interested, i wanted to add that i began tapering the outer seam about mid-thigh, then both inner and outer seam symmetrically from the knee down. i left about 1 1/2″ ease at mid-thigh, 3″ ease at the knee, and the hem circumference is 13″ or 14″.

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the astute among you will notice my title says some basics; in other words, i also made the white tee i’m wearing. my last RTW white tees are pretty much only worn to bed, or relegated to what i wear for a heavy duty house cleaning, so it was time. a good white tee is the LBD of casual wear, and finding an appropriate white knit can feel a little like tilting at windmills. i got my fabric from girlcharlee.com (HERE) and it comes pretty close to ideal. it’s a cotton/rayon jersey, it’s super soft without being too challenging to work with, and, while far from opaque, is good enough to not require a cami.

i used the renfrew pattern with hem and sleeve bands omitted. i cut the shirt 2″ longer to account for the lost length, and the sleeves… i can’t remember if i made any changes to the pattern piece, i traced that off a long time ago. for reference, they are about 1 1/2″ long under the arm (after taking a 1/2″ hem) and cut straight across. the size 6 gives me a nice fitted tee, but i went with a size 8 since this fabric is thin. i find that thinner fabrics require more ease than thicker fabrics (knit or woven) and i really just wanted a nice comfy tee. mission accomplished!

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can’t really see the details on my shirt, you’ll just have to take my word for it that it turned out really nice!

i thought i’d mention that the renfrew neck band has been the bane of existence for many people, and truthfully, i don’t even bother with that pattern piece. i sew up the right shoulder, attach the neckband, stretching as i feel necessary, then sew up the left shoulder. this is basically a fool-proof method if you ever have difficulty with knit neck bindings. yes, it means the one shoulder seam isn’t completely flawless, but it means that there is no guessing about neckband length and, most importantly, no unpicking and re-doing. if you’re serging, it’s easiest to leave only a 1/4″ SA for the neckline and band so you don’t have to worry about slicing off just the right amount evenly. then i zig zag over the neckband join to keep it in place and call it a day. easy peasy!

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summer (in the school sense) is coming to an end this week. the three oldest will all be at school full time, which leaves just me and my 4-yr oliver at home (aside from a few hrs of preschool 3 days a week). oliver and izzie are so close and spend all day playing together without much attention from me, so having only oliver at home will eat into my daytime sewing for sure! i’ll have to go back to sewing at night most of the time, but it does give me the opportunity to do some activities with only him (izzie hates going out and when she’s bored or uncomfortable EVERYONE gets to hear about it). it will be a bit of an adjustment around here, but fortunately i have a small backlog of projects i need to get to posting about. happy first days of school everyone!

—lisa g.

chartreuse is the new black

here is my latest incarnation of the sewaholic thurlow shorts. can you tell that i love this pattern? this is the fourth time i’ve used it and, if my MMM’13 was any indication, you can see that i wear my thurlows a lot.

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no, i didn’t make the blouse. it’s my favorite RTW top though!

i figured since this was my fourth, it was time to change it up a bit. i made them cuffed as the pattern intended, and i changed the front pocket situation. i have no problem with the pockets as drafted, but i really do prefer the slash pockets even though they are supposedly unflattering on figures such as my own. forget about whether or not they draw attention to my hips, they’re just better for hand stashing. and hand stashing usually trumps figure flattering.

sorry hips.

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the actual color is slightly more muted than this picture suggests.

can we just talk about this color for a minute? when i went fabric shopping i was looking for a bright pink twill i had seen a couple months ago. i keep seeing bright colored pants and shorts every time i turn around and i definitely wanted in on this trend. alas, the pink was nowhere to be seen. determined to have some twill i grabbed this chartreuse/mustard color. the lady at the cutting table asked what i was going to do with it, and the look on her face told me she didn’t know what to make of this color or why i wanted to wear it. it definitely walks the fabulous? or hideous? line, but i think it’s great. crazy enough, it seems that i have several tops already in my closet that go with it, as if it were a neutral color. who knew that chartreuse was the missing link in my wardrobe?!

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well there isn’t much more to say about the thurlow that i haven’t already said (here, here, and here), except that i won’t be retiring this pattern any time soon. on a side note, i am proud to say that i hit a notable milestone regarding pants: i did the fly without consulting any directions. did you catch that? NO DIRECTIONS WERE CONSULTED. a pant fly is now knowledge in my head. and boy does that feel good. auto-pilot sewing is. the. best.

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if you haven’t made this pattern yet… what are you waiting for?!

—lisa g.

a pant-fitting revelation!

alright, more sewaholic love here! i think i can officially call the thurlow my TNT pant pattern. a year ago i made shorts using mccalls 5391 which was a decent pattern, but it lacked all the little profesh details i was craving and had to subsequently draft myself. that pair fit pretty good, but then the thurlow came out, i made it, and it fit so much better that i rarely wore my old mccall’s. so a month back i was digging through my fabric scraps and discovered that in fact i had almost an entire yard of that royal blue twill left. wooo! i wavered between using it for shorts or another moss mini, but decided to go ahead and make shorts and i promptly chucked the old mccall’s into the giveaway pile.

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grrr…. blurry pic… sorry! sorry!

since i’ve made this pattern twice before, i went ahead and chopped off the middle back extension pieces and constructed them without the wide CB SA. but one thing i wanted to adjust was the front rise. i lowered the waist seam about 3/8″ at the CF and that seemed to fix some wonkiness i was having in the fly area.

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i made up the back pockets like i did for my denim thurlows (single welt poppykettle style) with button closure. i also tapered the legs in slightly and shortened them from the cuffed version to a 3 1/2″ inseam.

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so what is my huge pant-fitting revelation you are no doubt wondering? here ya go… i’m not sure if this twill just has less give than the other fabrics i have used for this pattern, but this pair seemed a little tighter than my previous makes. i was getting some pretty pronounced wrinkles pointing toward the front crotch area. i spun around in front of the mirror a few times trying to figure out what exactly is causing the problem and it finally dawned on me that i needed more depth front to back. i’m no pant-fitting guru, but i think it’s a combination of le bootay, the mommy tummy, and a protruding thigh (hey now, i run several times a week… i have “strong thighs”).

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so, my behind was pulling from the er, behind… and since my tummy and thighs were pushing the opposite direction, i ended up with front crotch wrinkles from this little tug-of-war. i don’t even want to know what sort of perv google hits i’m gonna get after this post….

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some day i’ll buy more colors of serger thread…

fortunately i had some seam allowance to work with and a construction method (constructing the entire front, the entire back, then attaching them at the inseam then the outer seam) that allowed me some adjustment room. i unpicked the inseam then re-sewed it at 3/8″ tapering to nothing at the hem. this gave me an extra 1/2″ of depth in the crotch curve and greatly diminished the wrinkles! i still have some wrinkling as you can see, but it’s way better than before. wow, totally felt like i learned something about pants on that one. hopefully i can make another pair shortly (har, har, har…) and tweak this even further.

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and if the fabric for my top here looks familiar, it’s a sorbetto made from the same fabric as my eclair dress. i made this last summer, though it never made it to the blog. i swapped the center pleat for gathers and lengthened it. i wish it were longer, this hem length isn’t totally flattering on me, but it still gets a lot of wear because i just love that print so much. it reminds me of the way out of my budget liberty prints, but this i picked up for $2/yd last year on clearance. can’t beat that!

—lisa g.

thurlow in denim

for months i’ve wanted to make some thurlow pants, and i finally got around to it! i went with a denim because i found some for a great price. basically (not including the pattern) these pants cost me less than $10. that’s a definite win in my book!


i measure a straight size 6, but when i used this pattern before i went with a size 4. there is still plenty of room for these to be comfortable, in fact i’ve already spent two full days wearing them. i love this type of pant because i can look nice without being dressed up.

it does feel weird cropping out my head
so i can properly show you my bum and
then posting it on the internet… but whatevs.


any changes i made are subtle. i changed the order of construction slightly, using the method i learned from the jalie jeans pattern. it allows you to construct the fly without having the back of the pants attached yet. once the fly is constructed, and the back pieces are sewn together, you sew front to back by sewing the entire inseam and then the side seams. i really like this for a few reasons. first, you can topstitch the crotch flat, you can topstitch the inseam, and you can adjust the legs as needed to get the fit you want.


my denim is a little heavy and bulky so i needed my seam allowances to be controlled as much as possible, hence all the topstitching. i was concerned that my topstitching would detract from the look, but you can barely see it because my fabric is so dark. fine by me!

i decided to go with a single inset welt for the back pockets. i felt the double welts were a little oversized and perhaps a touch low. i made the single welt where the top of the double welt would be, if that makes any sense. i used poppykettle’s fab tutorial to make my pockets and they turned out perfect. i also added a button hole just as extra insurance against unsightly back pocket gaping.


as i mentioned in my last post, i adjusted the fly extension piece so that my waistband would line up correctly and everything would be in it’s proper place. i ended up trimming off the extra seam allowance in the back. as i said before, my denim is fairly heavy and it was just creating unnecessary bulk. i fit a straight size 4 so i think in the future i’ll just trim the excess out to begin with.

hammered in a shank button. p.s. the dritz jeans buttons suck
big time. gonna have to find a different brand, these are
nearly impossible to get in!


i added 1″ in length and they are just a touch long for wearing flats, but i figure they’ll shrink up as they get washed. i can always adjust the length later as needed.

as i’ve said before, this is a GREAT pattern. other than tweaking maybe the front crotch depth, i really have a good fit. hopefully i can get around to making another pair (or two or three or ten) because i could really use more pants!


okay, if you don’t hear from me for a while it’s because i’ve been buried in snow. we have 18-30″ (45-76 cm for you metric types) of the stuff coming our way tomorrow through saturday. blizzard! so, i’m off to stock the pantry…

—lisa g.

it’s not just you

guys, i’ve done a lot of un-selfish sewing lately, so it was time to sneak in a piece for myself before starting another dress shirt. i decided to make some denim thurlows. yeah, i blatantly copied not only the online sewing peeps who have made denim trousers, but even my own little sister who made a pair recently, sent me pics and generally rubbed it in my face that she made super awesome pants. really, they were so cute i just couldn’t help myself anymore. i had to have my own. there’s a fabric store nearby called sewfisticated (don’t you just adore the name?) and every time i go there they have loads of bargains. they always have a table full of denim for $2.50/yd, and on my last visit i just couldn’t pass it up. the denim they had was a little heavier than i would have preferred, but i think it still works just fine.

now, i made thurlow shorts way back when and when i did the fly, i noticed the fly extension seemed to not quite be in the right place. but i went along, leaving it as it was. then when it came time to put the waistband on, the waistband came up short. i assumed i just messed up somewhere. i made a quick fix, and all was good.

so this time around, i carefully followed the directions, and lo and behold—same problem. ah-ha! it wasn’t me. it was gasp a flaw in the pattern! this time, i searched reviews because surely i wasn’t the only one who came across this problem. nothing. then i asked my sister and yes! she too had the same thing happen to her. i have seen whisperings of waistbands coming up short, so i’m here to say: it’s not just you! this time around, i decided to rip out all the stitching, take out the zip and start over. p.s. one of those little razor blades makes super fast work of stitch unpicking. a regular seam ripper would have taken me an hour; razor blade, less than two minutes. believe me, re-doing the zip was much less work than it sounds.


i know we all have a proclaimed love affair with sewaholic patterns, but for the sake of anyone making this pattern and having fly/waistband issues, i will stand here and be the one to let you know that there is indeed a teeny tiny mistake in either the fly extention piece or the directions. fortunately, it is a super easy fix.

if you need what you are sewing to look exactly like the directions, trim 5/8″ off the width of the fly extension when you go to finish the long edge (or trim it from the pattern piece to begin with). after, you can continue following the directions and illustrations as they are.

please note that i reversed my fly to the
standard zip up with the right hand layout


if you are confident enough to have yours look slightly different, sew the zip at 5/8″ in from the facing edge instead of lined up with it. then when you sew the zip and fly extension to the pant, line up the edge of the zip tape (instead of the edge of the facing) with the edge of the pant. i kind of like the facing to extend beyond the edge of the zip tape to minimize bulk, so that’s what i did.

all in all, it’s not a big deal. i do wish sewaholic would put a little note amending the pattern either as an insert or on the site somewhere, especially since we’re talking about the fly. many people are using this pattern as their first try at pants and we’re all assuming that we have erred somewhere. i love sewaholic and tasia is an absolute dear who works very hard and delivers an outstanding product, but just a teeny tiny little amendment would be fab.

again, my zip is reversed from how the pattern is written
that’s just how i roll


that’s my PSA for the day. carry on.


—lisa g.