This was a good lesson in how fabric affects fit. My first version was done in 4-way stretch jersey (stretches horizontally & vertically). All my adjustments were based on using 4-way stretch fabric, This version is in 2-way stretch (stretches horizontally). Because the red fabric does not stretch vertically, the back does not lie as smoothly.
Speaking of the fabric, it is polyester with a touch of linen. While I usually try to buy fabrics mostly made of natural fibers, I was just too curious about using a jersey containing linen. It is surprisingly nice- not quite so wiggly & difficult to cut out as some thin jerseys can be. Most importantly it feels good on- i.e. not like I'm wearing a bunch of plastic.
I finished this dress the other week so I could wear it to an ice cream social & get cute pictures. Alas, the lighting & Q’s camera phone did not get along. But now I have much less noisy images to show you. Let’s just pretend I’m posing all cute with a scoop of ice cream in one hand.
Shortly after I found out I’d be getting to test sew the Tiramisu pattern I ran across this ice cream jersey & knew I HAD to use it for this dress. I even thought I might use it for the entire dress. But then I remembered the name of the company, Cake Patterns. Wearable, everyday basics. I might be tempted to wear a really loud dress with ice cream cones shooting off in all directions (like how the striped version of the dress forms big chevrons), but knew I’d get more use out of it if I kept things somewhat conservative. A band of ice cream cones around your torso is more office friendly than an explosion of ice cream cones.
If you’re interested in the ice cream fabric, it looks like Girl Charlee only has a half yard left. Months ago I saw it on other online fabric sites, but they were more expensive. Besides, if you’re only going to use it as an accent fabric a half yard should be enough. But note that it is very thin. I had to underline the midriff with white jersey.
As for my main fabric, it’s a lovely, thin to medium weight double knit modal. Because it’s modal it’s drapey, but being double knit it wasn’t as finicky to work with. A very nice compromise. I got this lovely fabric from FabricMart, a site I adore. But for the first time ever they disappointed me. I had ordered a yard, but for long stretches the fabric was less than a yard long. It had been cut unevenly & was as short as 32″ in some places. There was even a run on one side! But because the fabric was 78″ wide, I was just able to squeeze in the rest of my dress pieces- and the pattern called for 2-1/2 yds! My cutting layout was tweaked even further so I could fit a pair of Rosy Ladyshorts on the fabric. Getting the cutting layout just right took a long time, but I’m glad I squeezed every last inch out of that fabric. It’s so soft.
I won’t go into many fit or construction details since I already covered most of those in my previous post about my Tiramisu muslin turned t-shirt. The only difference between making the shirt & the dress was that I needed to take more ease out of the midriff. I suspect this has to do with the weight of the skirt pulling the midriff down- you know like when you pull saran wrap taut so it doesn’t sag down. I think extra weight pulling the midriff meant the fabric was not loose enough to conform to my figure.
One final fit note. I didn’t correctly diagnose the problem of extra fabric under my breasts on my t-shirt because the chevron print was too distracting. And of course I didn’t realize what was going on until after I serged the seams on this dress- the gathers start too far to the sides if you’re a younger lady who hasn’t breast fed. So bear your breasts in mind while sewing.
Thanks Steph for letting me try out your pattern! It’s very nice having such a comfortable surplice dress that doesn’t gape open & expose me for all the world to see. And who doesn’t like pockets? These are just the right depth.
Cake Patterns is a new independent sewing pattern company run by Steph of 3hourspast. I was chosen as a test sewer for the line's first pattern, Tiramisu. However, a little hiccup meant I didn't receive my pattern until it was released, I'm sharing my version of it with you now.
The pattern is based upon a different system of sizing. You choose your bodice according to your upper bust measurement, which is then broken down into cup sizes, although you're supposed to choose your cup size based upon your measurements, not necessarily what size bra you wear.
This part tripped me up a bit. My upper bust is 33″ & my bust is 35-1/2″. Based upon this I was directed to choose the size 30 front & back bodice pieces. However, on the front bodice pattern piece it gave the full bust measurements for the different cup sizes. The 30D was listed as making a 33-1/2″ bodice, which had me worried it would be too tight. The 30C came in at 32-1/2″. I generally wear a C cup, although the odd D will fit.
I tried the 30D & surprisingly found it to be too large. The under bust seam hung down a little far below my breasts & the shoulder seams fell towards my back. Still, the fit wasn't bad & I could still lean over without having the top gape open & expose everything for all to see. So I decided to chop off the midriff band & turn the muslin into a top.
From the midriff band I based the pattern for the body of my top. I took in the side seams on the midriff for a more fitted look, shortened the band according to the measurements of my short waist, then extended the side seams out & down with a curved line. My hip curve ruler came in handy for this. Very luckily, I got all the curve angles correct on the first go & didn't have to make any further adjustments aside from letting out the sides a bit (I had forgotten to add seam allowances, doh!).
I also attached the body a little higher on the bodice to help take care of the 'too large' problem. However, while my bodice now seemed to fit properly just at the base of my bust, it now rode up a little as I moved. Disappointing. Until I washed the top on cold & air dried it. Magically, it fit perfectly after that! It no longer really rides up & I finally, finally, finally have a surplice top that sits where it's supposed to! Major win in my books.
Let's talk stripes. Instead of the usual grainline, Steph has stretch/stripe lines on the pattern. They look like regular grainlines, except they're longer & don't have arrows at the ends. Just having a written reminder on the pattern pieces about the direction of the stripes helped save me from a grievous placement mistake.
I've worn the top a few times now & I can say that it's very comfy, not restricting, & I think it makes my boobs look a little larger. But best of all there's no gaping neckline when you bend over! Huzzah!
Now for the fabric. It's not my usual style, but it was so cheap. Plus, I was eager to try a crepe style knit. Crepe style knits stretch just like regular knits, but they have a slightly bumpy or pebbled surface- & I'm not talking purl bumps here. It's good to toss in the novel every now & then. Still, I'm adjusting to the print. I'll say it again, it's just not my usual style. It's funny how I don't think a neon green top is too loud, but black & white chevrons are. Maybe i just need the chevrons to be ridiculously large in order to feel at home in them. The smaller size seems a bit busy. Yet the top fits so well that I've enjoyed wearing it regardless. I need to make some more in a solid fabric to suit my normal tastes. What do you think dear readers? Do the bold chevrons suit me?
I am just tickled. These panties are incredibly easy & fun to whip up. The maker behind Cloth Habit just released her first pattern, the Rosy Ladyshorts. And they’re free!
Short projects are so satisfying. In well under an hour had I finished my first pair. Then I had to run to the fabric store & buy more stretch lace so I could make an entire army of Rosy Ladyshorts. I’ve paused at two though because I’m waiting on using up more of my knits stash so I can make my boyshorts from the remnants.
The pattern itself is easy to follow & there’s a tutorial on her blog. The only problem came at the back seam, where the two edges curved up as they met. This was easy to remedy with a quick swish of the rotary.
The two I’ve made are very different from each other. The first pair, my gray gals, were made with a cotton/Lycra blend. It’s about a medium weight knit & was wonderfully easy to sew. But they also don’t (un)stretch back as much as the second pair, so they look bigger. While they are comfortable, these puppies aren’t quite as comfy as my second pair.
Speaking of that second pair, they were made with Robert Kaufmann’s Panda Jersey, a (funnily enough non-bamboo) rayon that’s lightweight, feels amazing & is oh so soft. Really. I love this fabric. If you see some, get it. These panties bounce back a bit more so look smaller than the gray ones, but I assure you I cut the same size. And the pettably soft fabric makes them wonderful to wear.
When worn under tights &/or jeans, the brown pair were equally confortable. I barely felt them & didn’t have to make awkward adjustments like I had to do for the gray ones when worn under jeans. But, when worn under tights the gray ones didn’t give me that same constant wedgie.
You’ll also note that the fit is better with the brown ones. Those little horizontal lines on the front were there when I tried on the panties before attaching the lace, but they disappeared once I attached the elastic to the legs. They just won’t go away on the gray ones, but I’m fine with it. Only my sewing friends will notice anyway.
The gray pair is also a bit taller because I placed the lace on the edge of the fabric, whereas on the brown pair much of the lace was backed by the fabric. It’s more stable & better for wearing to place the elastic lower. Without the extra backing the edges of the gray elastic tend to flip under a little. Plus the higher lace is just a little too high for my low rise jeans. But, both pairs are blissfully crack-free (unlike most RTW boyshorts).
I only wish the different sizes were marked in different dashed lines instead of all solid lines. While it wasn’t a big deal, assembling & cutting out the fabric would have gone more quickly. Having the elastic chart on the instruction sheet instead of on the pattern pages would be more convenient too so you don’t have to refer to a loose scrap of paper to figure out how much elastic you need.
On that note, I didn’t use as much elastic as the pattern called for. I had only purchased two yards of elastic for each pair & so was a few inches short. For the legs I used the amount of elastic called for, but was a few inches short in the waist. As you can see they fit just fine (no digging in) & don’t feel in the least uncomfortable. So if you’re a little short, don’t fret.
Now go whip yourself up some Ladyshorts! It’s kind of an instant gratification pattern & I think you’ll really enjoy them. The only problem is that you might develop a Ladyshort addiction & soon have an overflowing underwear drawer.
I want to share with you all a tale, a tale of tragedy. A tale of stain removal gone wrong. A tale of a ruined skirt.
It all started some weeks ago when I wore a newly made skirt. I was proud of this skirt. I was wearing it for the second or third time in just a week. What skirt, say you, can be worn so many times in a week? A reversible skirt, my friends, a reversible skirt.
This was of course my brown & white swirl skirt. On the day in question I wore it white side out. A fatal mistake as I was riding public transit. Oh Chicago Transit Authority! Your seats are so questionable.
Always before sitting I look at the seat in question & smell the air. This has saved me from many a tragedy. Alas! Human senses sometimes fail us. On that fateful day in question no external sign warned me of the impending danger.
It was not until I returned home & took off my skirt that I saw what had befallen me. A stain. Nay, not just one. A few stains! What the substance was I knew not. It most closely resembled a grease stain. Although fraught with concern, I thanked the stars above that the stain was not something worse.
I set to work. Just the week prior I had managed to remove a berbere sauce stain from a favorite white dress. I laughed in the small faces of these pitiful little stains! I had removed dark red grease. Surely I could conquer such faint stains.
Oh hubris! Oh woe! The battle was not yet won, but in my mind I had already conquered the stain. I poured straight liquid laundry detergent onto the offending areas. I soon forgot about my once beloved skirt.
Days later I washed my skirt. The horror! Bleach marks! But I had not used a detergent with bleach! What was once a white skirt was now a white skirt with patches so intensely white they were almost shiny. And they had the faintest hint of blue. Ruination.
My friends, repeat not my mistake. It have you a stain, apply detergent, but for no longer than overnight. Boast not of your deeds so loudly that you forget to finish the task. Follow through. Rinse! And if necessary, repeat, but never soak for more than a night’s time.
My one salvation in all of this is that the brown side of the skirt emerged from the wash unscathed. Surely the gods above must have taken pity on me to not fully punish such hubris & neglect.
For awhile I’ve been frustrated with my tops. Until this year, they were entirely store bought. I also hadn’t bought a new top in so long that most were aging & they made my closet feel like a snooze fest.
In pattern catalogs I’d be drawn to the designs that had more going on than your basic t-shirt. But those were invariably in wovens, not knits. And they were fitted. They called for dreaded zippers!
I have a great aversion to sewing zippers in tops- I still have yet to do one despite (let’s be honest) probably hours spent looking at zippered top patterns. And this makes absolutely no sense as I think of my zippered dresses as being super speedy to put on.
My recent closet inventory revealed that almost all of my tops are knits. They’re just so easy to take on & off. Pull, stretch, on! And they snap right back into shape. I’ve gotten so used to this easy on, easy off that having to sew & use a zipper seemed like some horrible task. Unzipping, wriggling into the top & zipping myself back up at an awkward angle would add so much time to my mornings that I would always miss my train to work & because I’d be always late my boss would fire me & I’d end up destitute, forced to live on the streets as I tried to peddle my immense fabric stash for a few pennies so I could eat a single meal a day at McDonald’s. I’d take up residence downtown by the greasy fried fish fast food place that’s next to an alley & sitting atop a milk crate I’d shout: pure silk $2 a yard! Button a penny, 15 for 10 cents! If you knew how averse I am to McDonald’s & fried fish stink you’d know what kind of a hell I’d be living in.
So what I’ve been meaning to ask you for awhile is what’s your stance on zippered tops? Would you be so kind as to fill out my little poll? Also let me know if you have a favorite zippered top pattern. I need one for my Foundation Garment Challenge.
It also made me realize that the few RTW wovens I do own are button down work shirts. Most of my knits are pretty casual & plainly constructed. Some knits can be fancy pants attire though. And funnily enough, those are the shirts in my wardrobe I’m consistently drawn to. I’ve even been entertaining ideas of remaking them.
The thing they have in common is that a tiny bit of extra time went into their construction. Here, you can see a nice contrast piping.
While I wouldn’t go to a grand ball in a t-shirt, these are the shirts I pair with my nicer skirts for a more dressed up & adult look. It seems the key to making knits look more dressy is taking the time to add minimalistic details, i.e. not a bunch of colorful DIY flowers. But, my assessment of this is limited to my own wardrobe. Do you think other elements can make knits look dressy?
Months ago when I made my wearable muslin for the corset cover I also toyed around with the idea of making the top in a knit fabric. I even made that knit fabric mock up back then. But I didn’t get around to actually making the real top up until the other week.
As you can see from the comparison of the original & altered patterns, I changed a lot of the lines in the pattern while preserving the basic shape. Note that the wax paper pattern I drafted has seam allowances included (sewing lines in blue) & on the original pattern I cut off the seam allowances. I had made arbitrary seam allowances when I cut out my muslin, yet drafted my new pattern directly from that muslin I made months ago. I’m guessing that’s why the armscye on the front pattern piece is so different. Also, it would probably explain why my sleeves don’t hang as perfectly as I’d like. It’s a shame I didn’t compare the patterns before I cut into my fabric.
Speaking of the sleeves, I stole them from a modern knit pattern (McCall’s 5890) since I’ve never drafted my own before. According to my measurements, I should have used a size 14. While the picture on the envelope showed a sleeve with some ease, it didn’t look ginormous. I ended up needing to cut a size 6 to get the tighter look I wanted. And it still has plenty of ease even at the smaller size!
Aside from lengthening both pattern pieces, I widened the shoulders & slightly raised the neckline. The front bodice piece was extended past the center front in a slightly curving swoop not just for looks. On the version I did in woven fabric, my center front was actually a diagonal pointing towards the armscye. Otherwise, I would have had much too much loose fabric at the bust. For this knit top I just moved my center front over, maintaining the diagonal, & shaped it a little.
As is evident in the picture above, the darts changed a fair amount. I completely got rid of the right one that was on the original pattern. Instead, I added a double pointed (not sure of the technical term) dart where you would normally find a side seam. The other dart I kept the same, except it no longer ended with the end of the fabric. It now ends in the middle of the fabric to form a soft & sort of blown out box pleat. I really like how the folded fabric looks & sort of bumps out on the sides.
Overall I’m pretty happy with my top. The only thing is that it’s not the easiest wrap to put on. Instead of having the strap come out through a side seam which I don’t have, it comes out through the princess-like seam on the back of the bodice. It’s not a big deal, but it means extra reaching around on the sides to thread the strap through the top. The strap I used is actually carpet binding. My dad used to be a carpenter, which surprisingly can involve hand binding a carpet’s edge. The old binding he gave me is like an overly wide, soft, cotton twill tape.
I took another stab at Simplicity 2185, what I refer to as the swirl skirt. A previous attempt came out too big, so I made it a little smaller, but didn’t realize it was too tight until months later when I saw the photos from Me Made May. This time I still cut out the too large size 14, but made it a reversible skirt with two different fabrics & hoped that the extra layer would help- I also figured it was better to start too big so as to avoid to too tight look. It did help marginally. I’m still thinking of tightening up the waistline a little.
One side is a lovely to touch hemp rayon jersey in white. The only problem is it’s so thin you can see the impression from the seams on the other side of the skirt. That other side is also visibly poking down at the bottom.
The other side of the skirt is made from a equally lovely but regular rayon jersey. It’s a nice hazelnut shade of brown. I also used this fabric in the t-shirt I made for last week’s Make It Monday. While I was finishing up the skirt I realized I had another brown skirt trimmed in white. Ah well! At least that one is a woven A-line. That makes it different, right? Oh my gosh! I just realized I’ve got another brown skirt with white at the bottom- although this one has white lace at the bottom. I’ve got a problem.
Have you taken a look at the t-shirt I’m wearing? Yes, two weeks in a row with finished t-shirts! This one is from McCall’s 6288. It’s the first t-shirt, actually it’s the first top of any kind, that I’ve muslined first. I’m so glad I did! The pattern is a part of their “Next Generation” series, aka made for skinny teeny bopper bodies. I had to grade out from a 16 bust to a 12 waist & a 14 hipline to get the tight fitting look on the pattern envelope. It’s the most grading I’ve ever done. The front actually came out pretty perfectly on the first try. The back was a mess. If you’ve got t-shirt fitting problems on your backside I HIGHLY recommend this tutorial from Threads. It saved me. There was a mound of fabric wrinkled up around my waist. And now I’ve got the perfect fitting t-shirt. Sure, it took a few muslins, but it was soooo rewarding getting the fit just right. I now have a go-to pattern. Yes! I also had to take a little bit out of the sleeves- the early muslined versions was a mass of wrinkles. After doing about four different sleeve fittings I took a look at the pattern envelope & realized those sleeves were wrinkled too & I wasn’t going to get rid of them all. I don’t normally wear raglan t-shirts; I didn’t realize some of them are just supposed to look wrinkled. It’s weird I’ve made two different raglans these past two weeks.
P.S. Some brief half nudity in the alley was required to take these pictures of the reversible skirt . I really don’t think anyone saw me! OK, it’s a city, people live closely together. Someone probably saw me. Ah well!
This week I did some serious gardening, but alas I have no pictures. That’s because I gardened in a friend’s backyard. It was a small backyard, but whew! Ripped out a bunch of old things & planted a bunch of new things. I’m sunburned.
On the sewing front, I made a t-shirt! It’s my first fully finished t-shirt. I’m very proud. A previous attempt used cheap fabric & involved some very ripply hems. No good.
This one came out great. Plus, I got my pin cushion in the mail from the pin cushion swap. It’s a cute little rooster my swap mate named Cheeky Chuck. Chuck helped me make this shirt. I think the two of us did a good job!
On the cooking front, I tackled another thing I’ve been wanting to do for awhile. Ice cream. Some time ago I inherited my sister’s old ice cream maker. There was a reason she stopped using it. Disaster, every time. This time, I used a recipe that didn’t need an ice cream maker. It’s a pretty easy recipe & I’d recommend it to those of you who, like me, can’t or don’t eat dairy. The only thing is that the banana was a little stronger than I would have liked & the ice cream did have a slightly slimy texture, like bananas do. But, if conventional ice cream isn’t an option & it’s a sweltering 90F out (like it’s been this entire weekend), it’s well worth it.
Slice & freeze two bananas & 1/2c berries (I used a little bit more than that). Then, blend them in a food processor. Place in the freezer for another 30 min & enjoy. Easy peasy. Just don’t over stuff your food processor like I did. Next time I’m going to try & replace the banana with melon, maybe a nice honeydew. Mmmmm.
And check out the original recipe. This woman is seriously enthusiastic.
Two months on & I’m feeling pretty good about this project. It’s helped me maintain momentum with making things while making me feel better about the things I’ve created. Also, it’s really helped me improve my sewing skills & has gotten me back to doing some of the things I used to love (like making yogurt).
This week it helped me get back to making a dish I used to love: Thai Style Fried Rice (Quinoa). I was sick sometime ago & couldn’t eat anything too sweet, such as pineapple, which is one of the main ingredients. While I’ve been able to eat sugar for awhile now I just haven’t tried my hand at this dish again.
I am glad I made it. I even did it twice this week: once with rice & once with quinoa. Tasties! And I especially feel more accomplished considering I didn’t use a recipe but got it spot on.
That was the theme for this week: direction loose & pattern free.
Coupling is an old show from the BBC that’s kind of like Friends, but funnier. My favorite character is Jeff, a sex-starved & obsessed man who has an unfortunate habit of saying whatever he’s thinking. In one episode he lists the words that make him think of sex. His list includes ‘gussets’. Like Jeff, gussets get me excited, except about sewing & not sex.
Why all the excitement about gussets? I sewed my first one ever & didn’t use a pattern or tutorial. Yeah, I’m feeling pretty hubristic.
I’ve been wanting to make some bike pants for a few months, but have been too busy with other sewing projects. I used the leggings block from PatternSchool.com. I’m not sure if I measured wrong, but the leggings were just too tight around the hips & too loose in the legs. So I looked at a pair of old yoga pants to see how the gusset was used, made a pattern freehand, inserted it & the pants fit like magic (alright, I did have to make some alterations after that).
It’s been a long time since I’ve improvised a sewing pattern & this one went very well. Hopefully, it will help give me the boost I need to start making my own patterns again- unless I get too distracted by the many commercial patterns I’ve been wanting to try out.
There were a few more projects did not require commercial patterns either.
My boyfriend used to have bleach blonde dreadlocks. They went scarily well with a old Bob Marley t-shirt of his- sometimes it was hard to tell the difference between the shirt & his hair. But then I cut off his dreads & this tattered old shirt just looked silly. So I made it into a bag. I didn’t expect it to be so large, but it does work well for groceries.
Finally, & very excitingly, tyvek planters. Oh yes, tyvek.
Tyvek is supposed to be free of bpa & phthalates as well as safe for food & medical equipment. It holds liquids, but is breathable.
I’ve been trying to figure out a way to make an easy & safe potato pot. As potato plants grow you’re supposed to mound dirt up around the plant. A custom-made wooden box would be too complicated. Old tires would be hard to get ahold of & I don’t know if they’re non-toxic. A tyvek bag seems perfect.
I filled the bag about a 1/3 full of dirt & sowed my farmers’ market blue potato. I folded the sides of the bag down & will unfold them up as my plant grows & I shovel in more dirt.
I got my tyvek from a case of tyvek lab coats. Last fall I needed a lab coat for one of my classes & found that a case of tyveks was cheaper than a cloth lab coat. The coats came with pockets, which I kept on the outside of the potato bag. Once I get enough soil in to unfold the bag, I’ll be able to plant small plants in the pockets.
This is my first time growing potatoes & I’m anxious to have them come out well. Any tips from you seasoned gardeners?
Oops, almost forgot. I finished another dress. I guess I did do something from a pattern this week: McCall’s 5094.
I started it weeks ago but was waiting for zippers to go on sale. I think I’ve got a minor obsession with polka dots this year. This is the third thing I’ve made from a polka dotted fabric since this spring.
Huzzah! I think this has been my most productive week so far. It’s amazing what you can do when your stress levels drop!