The Top: Part One

This is McCall’s 7127 – a pattern that I almost didn’t purchase. I had been doing some online pattern shopping one evening, as one is apt to do, and I came across this super cute, dropped shoulder, crossed back top designed for a somewhat stable knit. You see, about two years ago I stumbled across Girl Charlee Fabrics (most likely through links from other bloggers) and was completely overwhelmed by the sheer amount of knit fabric! In the town I live in, thankfully there is a fabric store, but there’s only one, and this one doesn’t stock much besides polyester sweatshirt fleece. Which is fine, sometimes, but my preference for sweatshirt fleece really does run towards bamboo. I digress; so I got really caught up in purchasing all-the-knits in lengths of about 4-5 yards per fabric/pattern. The massive thing I didn’t consider, was that knits come in all sorts of weights, and textures, and opacity. Of course I didn’t order any swatches either. One of the challenges of living in Canada, is that ordering a swatch means you may or may not be able to order the fabric once the swatch shows up and you decide you like it.

So, being the sane person I am, I just went for it and ordered – a lot. This bird fabric, while I very much like the pattern, ended up being much too lightweight and sheer, to be used for its intended purpose of a dress. Instead, it’s more of a t-shirt weight, so I have made up 5 different tops now in this fabric. I still have this one, and I think the other 4 have found homes with my friends. I am a big believer of “just put a bird on it”, but “just put a bird on 5 of them” seemed a bit much, even for me.

When just standing and not trying to pose for a photo I am assured that the back hangs much nicer than what it’s doing above here. That being said, it is my backside, so I can’t confirm this statement. I made this up in a straight size 10 with no alterations. This, in and of itself, is a miracle. I thought for sure that this would take some folding and manipulating to get it to sit the way I wanted. I really like the top and have, as I’m sure you guessed, made multiples.

The really interesting thing I found with this top (aside from the fact that it took only a few hours from cutting to being completely finished) is that when I did a quick look on Pattern Review there were (at the time) only 3 reviews and they weren’t terribly positive. Please know that I am not saying the reviewers did or said anything they shouldn’t have, I’m simply mentioning that this pattern was a perfect fit for me and my body, and it’s interesting how different we are all shaped. Also interesting to note is that this top doesn’t look very good on my friends.

Please excuse the wrinkle on the bust;  I had my photographer for only a set amount of time and I wanted to get as many things photographed as I could. Clearly I didn’t realize the hangup that had occurred.

This second top I made with a very light weight cotton jersey (another Girl Charlee purchase) and used a woven rayon for the back; I was interested to see if I could mix and match fabrics. It works, but I’m not sure that I love the way that it drapes. Again, you can’t really tell as I have my hands up (I have no idea what I was trying to accomplish by this pose…) but when my arms are down, it doesn’t drape quite like I had hoped it would. That being said, it does still get worn with a pair of white linen pants and I quite like the “Hamptons” look that it conjures.

Has anyone else tried and liked, or disliked, this pattern? Do tell…!

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Back with something… New? The sorta camas blouse.

Well, it is a new make. Actually, two new makes, but it’s based off a pattern that I have already made once (okay, okay, I’ve made it twice) and now modified, have made it twice more.

This is actually the second of the two tops that I made. But before I get to the top(s) I want to tell you about work. Well, not really work per say, but I happened to have been at work when I was inspired to make this top. I end up at a lot of networking events for work, which means I get to see a lot of different styles on a lot of different people. For someone like me, it’s certainly one of the perks of the job. So, I was at an event and there was a woman who was wearing a long sleeve top that had a very cool twisted front. This of course sent me down the rabbit hole of trying to mentally take it apart and figure out how it was made. To be honest, I might have missed a bit of the conversation that was happening as I was trying to figure out the construction order… But I covered my tracks well enough (in the conversation) and managed to work out a pattern hack I thought would work.

Enter the Thread Theory Camas Blouse. I made this top a few months ago so I can’t quite remember what I did to modify it, but I think I I just extended the front pieces and removed the neckline trim.

This was a meter of silk that I purchased for a dress but never ended up using, so I stuck this in the washer and dryer (tough love) and cut into it. This is actually the wrong side of the fabric, I wasn’t a big fan of the shine of the right side. As I mentioned, this is top two. The first one (seen below) was made of a polyester in a really great print. I loved it so much I decided I needed it in silk. Well, this silk was a beast to work with and it left me a bit jaded with the top itself. I have worn it a few times, but ended up having to hand sewing the front crossover closed. Ask me how I found out the front cross in a silk was too floaty to stay closed; work function.

This was the first one I sewed – I love it! The weight is just perfect; it’s not clingy or staticy, and the drape sits well with just a small stitch to keep the top closed where I want it to sit. I wear this for work, so I kept the neckline modest, but someone could have a lot of fun with this if wearing a bra wasn’t on your list of “things I need to do”.

Got any good pattern hacks? Spaced out in the middle of a conversation because you were trying just a little bit too hard to determine how to make something? Please tell me I’m not the only one…

Sweatshirts: how many is too many?

The Lane Raglan Sweatshirt – I love it.

I have made it a total of 7 times in a multitude of fabrics; from poly sweatshirt fleece in a questionable leopard print to a 100% silk knit in an amazing shade of greyish navy blue, now residing with my dear sister-in-law. It was a Christmas gift that I had a hell of a hard time gifting – I really did want to keep it for myself.

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Let’s back up.

I walked into a department store one day and saw a great deal on a light grey, crew neck, raglan sleeve sweatshirt. I tried it on over my tank top and bought it. Easy. As the weather got cooler I found I kept reaching for this one sweatshirt. I work from home, so my daily work wardrobe is simple; jeans with a top that isn’t a mess, but is still comfy, and looks put together enough that I can throw on shoes/boots and pop out to run a few errands. I found I was wearing said top much more than I should have and so thought about making a few of my own. I have a few knits kicking around in my stash and I thought it might be a good chance to thin the herd so to speak.

My first thought was to pull the pattern from the top itself, but the more I looked at the top, the more I realized there would be a few things that I would ideally like to change; sleeve and body length, just a smidge longer. I also realized that I just wanted to sew. I didn’t want to pull a pattern and tweak it and then test it and then tweak it some more.

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So after a bit of browsing I came across the Lane Raglan Sweatshirt pattern. The images looked spot on and the measurements were ideally close to mine – excellent – very little to modify – YES! So I bought the pattern – and then remembered that I hate taping pdf’s together. But, the thought of owning more tops in all the pretty colours kicked me into gear and away I went. I traced off a straight size small and followed the instructions, and in less than 2 hours from laying out the pattern to a final press I had a lovely new top.

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I ended up removing an inch of length from the sleeves and the body length but left the rest as is. I ended up making this top up in the standard knit fabrics, and then decided that I wanted to try it in a drapey rayon. Again, this was a stash fabric. I loved the look of this top without the bands so I simply turned under and twin needle stitched the hem, sleeves and neckline. The only thing I wish I had done was to add knit interfacing to the neckline – i find it stretches a bit more than I like after I wear it for a while.

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All in all a lovely pattern that I know will pop up a few more times before I’m done with it! Do you have a go-to top pattern? Is it the Lane Raglan as well?

Camas Blouse: a Thread Theory Winner

When I was making jeans for my husband, and then myself, I looked at a few different companies to source the different notions I would need/want. One of these companies was Thread Theory, a wonderful company run from Vancouver Island, by an outdoorsy couple (who have an extremely cute pooch). As I was browsing and filling my online shopping cart with jeans kits, I was also adding to it the Jedediah Pants (for him) and the Camas Blouse (for her!). The Camas Blouse is, from what I can tell, the first women’s pattern put out by this company. I really liked the design details and I was interested to see how their patterns fit into my lifestyle.

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I love it.  The pattern, the design, the final product. It’s all very me.

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I actually started off using the most lux of fabrics; a cut of amazingly drapey, yet not see through, bamboo jersey (a lovely gift of a cut of fabric) and some black raw silk (for the yolk), and inky blue light weight silk (for the yolk lining).

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The pattern is a PDF, but I think well worth the hassle of printing, taping, and in my case, tracing. I actually traced the pattern out when I was in the middle of my jeans sewing bender and it was a refreshing change of pace from denim.

Based on shoulder measurements, I cut a straight size 8 and made no alterations (cue fanfare). I followed the directions right up until i got to the front placket. I’m sure the directions as written are great for this section, but I decided that I wanted to assemble the placket first, including trimming, notching and serging the edge of the band before I attached it to the shirt. That way there was a lot less bulk to deal with.

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I sewed the hem of the sleeves and the shirt with just a standard straight stitch. This worked well for me as the bottom is drapey, and the sleeves are loose enough to pull on without needing any stretch. If you like a more fitted sleeve I would recommend either a double needle, zigzag stitch or coverstitch machine as a finish.

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For the second version I used more of my Deer Head Dotty fabric (100% organic cotton) and a 100% Rayon Slub remnant that I think was from Girl Charlee Fabrics. There is a very subtle stripe in the slub that I loosely tried to match up.

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I did also have some fun with converting the gathers into pleats in the front and a box pleat in the back. I think Morgan mentioned doing a blog post about this so keep an eye on their blog.

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I really like the shirt with either the gathers or the pleats and see making this again. I would like to try it in a full woven and will likely play around with this in the next little while. Also something to note, I sewed the buttons right through the placket and didn’t bother to create button holes, so the buttons are completely for show. I find the neckline is more than generous to get this over my head comfortably. The buttons on my first top are from my local chain store, and beige buttons are from my Grandma’s stash that I inherited a few years ago.

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How do you like your tops? With a little deer here and there or straight up classy silks?

Silk: worth the wait

I am lucky enough to have good friends that know me well. They know my personality, my disposition, and my complete and total fabric snobbery.

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I have been sewing for as long as I can remember. I use to sit at my Grandma’s machine and sew up all the scraps she had pulled from old garments. It was a machine that had the “pedal” to the right of the knee, not on the floor, thank goodness or I would have had to wait until I was 12 to start sewing!

For many, many years I use to find the least expensive fabrics possible to whip up into clothing. I just wanted to churn out clothes. The fabric I used, the fit or even the type of garment I made really wasn’t important.

A few years back I stumbled into the world of sewing blogs – I was fascinated by them. One of my favourite finds was the blog Sallieoh. I did the normal stalker thing and read through everything I could find on her blog and I came across this post. It completely spoke to me. And it completely changed how I looked at my hobby, my art.

All this to say, I am now firmly rooted in the fabric snob category and I want to love wearing the fabric that I wear.

So, back to my girlfriend; she was on a trip to LA and visited the garment district. She also has a love of fine fabrics (this would be the friend that came for a visit) and spoiled me with 2 cuts of silk and a generous cut of bamboo jersey.

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I have a RTW top that I love to wear and thought would be a fantastic shape to showcase the fabric. Since it was precious fabric, I didn’t want to jump straight to cutting into it. I decided that instead of spending the time pulling a pattern from my perfect fitting top, I would go the easier route and buy a pattern. I hunted around and finally landed on McCall’s 6927. So I grabbed some silk blend stash fabric (purchased at a great price) and got to work. It was a disaster. The head of the shoulder would.not.fit. I ended up taking most of it apart (french seams and all) and re-cutting the sleeve head down.

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Back together it went but it wasn’t quite perfect. Enter fabric number 2. Stash fabric, but again the fit was just off.

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Finally I decided that the best course of action was to pull a pattern from the RTW shirt I loved. Now by this point I was determined to get the fit exactly the way I wanted and was not going to cut into my silk until it was spot on. This time I went to my scrap bin and found some floral poly silky fabric and set to work. The fit was spot on.

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And then it was time, time to cut into the precious yardage and voila.

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Let me tell you, I have nothing but bitty pieces of scraps left of this fabric.

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Have you ever had a vision of a garment in your head that you didn’t give up on? Did it turn out or did you end up with a wadder?