Tops, Bottoms, and More

I’ve been a busy sewer and knitter over the past four days.

Empire-Waisted Top

Simplicity 3750

Over the weekend, I finished my (first) muslin for Simplicity 3750, the empire-waisted top with a tie at the waist. I traced a size 12 at the bust and tapered to a size 14 at the hips. Now that I’ve put the top together, I understand much better how it works and how I can make it more effectively in the future.

For example, somehow before I actually made the thing I didn’t realize that the front panel and the bottom front panel actually join each other, with the tie lying on top of the two joined pieces. Now that I know, I can taper without fear.

And taper I fear I must, because I think I need to go down a size, perhaps all over. It’s difficult to tell for sure, because the top fits reasonably well as it is. However, I had to take 1.5″ seam allowances in the center back and the top still has a lot of extra fabric when I fasten the tie. Also, the side seams, which hang in the proper place when the tie is unfastened, pull back and seam off once the tie is . . . tied.

Additionally, I think that the front top piece is a bit shallow. The band hits me above the underwires of my bra. I’m considering slashing the tissue and adding 1/4″ so that the pocket for my chest is just a bit deeper. Funny, since I’m very small busted, but I do think it’s necessary.

So the question is . . . do I simply adjust what I have? Or do I go back to the tracing-board and trace a size 10 at top, grading to a size 12 or 14 at the bottom? I don’t want to end up with a top that is too small either.

Once I get this pattern fitted and “production-ready,” I have a lovely turquoise and brown-paisley cotton with a speckled brown fabric for the contrast belt ready to cut and sew up.


Colette 0003: Sorbetto Top (Image from Colette’s site).

As I was thinking about how to adjust my empire-waisted top, I printed, taped together, and traced the Colette Sorbetto top. I wasn’t too pleased with my first attempt at making a woven t-shirt (Simplicity 8523). Thus, I thought going back to the drawing board and starting a new, baggage-free pattern was a good idea. I like the fact that the Sorbetto has good reviews, and many of them. I like the fact that it is free. And I like the fact that there are now user-drafted sleeves available for download.

For this top, I traced a size 2 at top grading into a size 6 at the hem. Easy-peasey, if it works. I’ll probably sew this up today, after my shopping excursion.

New Look 6859 (Awesome Hubby’s PJs, Again)

Awesome hubby has asked for two more pairs of PJs, and has underlined the necessity of me making them by putting a hole into the knee of his last pair of store-bought ones. He does insist on sitting cross-legged on his exercise ball while bracing his leg under the lip of his desk. That is really hard on clothes, and since he often works from home his comfy lounging pants see a lot of use.

The other day, I staked out several fabric stores in the garment district, and now I have two different fabrics in mind to make new PJs. I’ll pick them up today.

New Look 6227 (aka Extravagance)

But this is the real reason I have to go to the Garment District. When visiting my mom in Ithaca, I (of course) went to Joann (again) and picked up some (more) new patterns (I’ll post them later). This is one of them:

New Look 6227. Everyone needs a cape, right?

I think I’m still a long way away from being able to make a jacket or coat. Heck, I haven’t even gotten to sleeves yet. But I think I could manage a cape. I want something eye-catching, so I was hoping to find some nice, deep green coating. I browsed, and I found what I wanted at Paron.

Unfortunately, “what I wanted” cost a gut-wrenching $33/yard, and the pattern requires three yards plus a lining fabric!

I came home sad and empty-handed, because there is no way I could justify spending $100+ on fabric for a cape that I could possibly mess up. At the same time, I am certain that this pattern is so simple in design that it is best to let the fabric “sing” for itself. All other options paled next to this coating option.

Fortunately, that’s not the end of the story. I thought to look online for coupons, and it just so happens that Paron is running a Groupon: $100 of fabric for $40. You better believe I bought that up fast. Now, I’m crossing my fingers and hoping that the deep green coating is still there, waiting for me. Three yards of it is all I need.


Oh yes, I knit, too. I’ve been stalled for a while on all three of my projects, though. About three weeks ago, I decided that I wanted to pick them up again–and discovered that (of course) I’d put each of them down for a reason. I was having trouble with them. One of the three, a comfy cardigan with cables in brown washable wool from Smiley’s, was fixable, though. I’ve made tons of progress on it while watching Bones marathons over the last couple weeks. I think it’s going to turn out OK, if a bit larger than I had intended. If not, this yarn is so nice to work with that I don’t think I’ll mind redoing the whole thing!

It feels good to be making progress. Again.


Whoops. Forgot to post Hubby’s PJs.

Look at that. At the beginning of August, before I took a hiatus from sewing, I promised to post pictures of hubby’s new PJs. Here they are:

New Look 6859

New Look 6859

These pjs have gotten a lot of wear over the last two months. The pattern is definitely a hit. Simple, fast, comfortable, and they fit well. The only (minor) problem is that the pockets gape a bit, but I think that that is a flaw that is almost inherent in the design. It doesn’t bother Awesome Hubby at all.

In fact, I think Hubby wants to have more of these. He certainly managed to put a hole in his last pair of store-bought pjs quickly after I finished making these . . .

Awesome Husband’s PJs Rock

New Look 6859

Last night and this morning, I worked away on awesome hubby’s requested PJs. I decided to go ahead and use the plaid cotton that I bought in the Garment District. Even though it’s a bit thin, it isn’t so far off from hubby’s summer store-bought pajamas. I figured–Why not try? The worst that will happen is it will wear out a bit faster than we would wish, and it’s better than leaving the fabric in my stash, unused and without a plan.

This pattern goes together really well. It took me just a few hours (especially with the help of my new t-square, tracing paper, and french curves) to trace all three pieces. I had the perfect amount of fabric to fit the pieces. And the instructions, so far, are crystal-clear.

Matched Plaid Magic!

Somehow, I got the plaid to match without trying–at least on the where the pockets/yoke meet the front pieces, across the front and across the back (we won’t talk about the side seams, though!). I was thrilled when I saw how well the patterns matched.

At this point, I’ve got everything sewn up below the waistband; next up: creating the casing for the elastic waistband and the twill-tape tie.

Hubby tried on the pjs before work, and they look good. Of course, there is one little fit issue: the waistband is going to hit him at least an inch higher than I would like. I will have to make a note to fold out about an inch between the crotch and the waistband before I make these again.

Tomorrow, I’ll head into Manhattan, get the elastic and twill tape, and finish this bad boy off. Although I know that the waist is gonna be riding high, I’m already proud of my work here. These look and feel good, have gone together well, and are going to be used and loved.

Thank you, Awesome Husband, for requesting these.

The Last of My Pattern-Binge

Demoiselle, you have enough patterns now.

I should be more than set, at least until I want to get the Jalie jeans pattern or some of the other interesting, non-Big-Four-plus designs that are out there. Or until I have leveled-up my skills.

Or both, really. That would be a good idea. Because, aside from a nice bolero pattern, I’ve got the basic patterns for pretty much any basic, woven wardrobe item, plus some nifty “special” patterns. Anyway, here are the last additions to my stock:

Jo-Ann Gets Me Again . . . demme. 

Vogue 8697

I’ve been wanting to get Vogue 8697 since I first saw the pattern on Pattern Review. I held off, because I was concerned about how very high the waistband looked on some people, but now that I’ve learned that I am long-waisted, I have decided that this could be a flattering style for me. The V of the waistband looks like it would emphasize my smaller waist.

Of course, it will also show my wider hips. Yet, I think with the right top (something that draws the eye to the neckline and shoulders), this might not be too unbalanced.

New Look 6945

I like the shaping of New Look 6945, which reminds me of a top I wore to pieces in high school. It looks fairly simple to make, though if I pick it as my next project it would be my first attempt at buttonholes.

The front and back darts should make this one easier to fit in a flattering way, and I like the modified scoop neckline and the subtle flare at the hip. I think this top would look great with an A-line skirt–assuming that the skirt’s waistband and the hem of the shirt overlap!

Simplicity 1802

Then we come to the dresses. For example: Simplicity 1802. I like dresses with fitted bodices. I also like skirts with a little swing to them. Although I think that Cynthia Rowley’s pattern is beyond my current skill level, it is something to aspire to. I just won’t be making in polka-dots.

I can easily see myself wearing something like this to one of my husband’s swanky business affairs. It would look very nice with an elegant pair of earrings and a bracelet, while the seams give the front of the dress quite a lot of movement and interest.

Burda 7949

Finally, I got my first Burda pattern, Burda 7949. Although I don’t think that I’m into the keyhole neckline on View B,  I just love how this dress is cut to take a patterned fabric (whether as precise as the pin-stripe or as complex as the floral and uses the grain line to create a kind of visual dynamic.

Made with the right fabric, I can see this being a dress I could make in multiple versions, both casual sundress-style and eye-popping glamour-style.

With these four patterns, I completed my indulgence in the fourth of July sale during my visit with my mother.

Then, I went online.

Kwik Sew 2325

You see, I’ve been trying to get two patterns that appear to be out of print or currently unavailable for sale. I’ve wanted them badly enough that I decided to buy them from a private seller. So, just before returning home, I ordered them. Now, they have arrived in all their glory.

Here is Kwik Sew 2325 (my first Kwik Sew pattern, and my first sleepwear pattern). It may be a while before I make any of this set, but I’m excited by it. I like the lines, I like the silhouette, and I would really like to have several of these to wear around the house. Its been terribly hot, and having something pretty and flowing to dress in when it’s too hot to thrown on a pair of jeans would be ever-so-nice.

McCall’s 5522

Finally, there’s my second button-down blouse basics pattern: McCall’s 5522. I already have McCall’s 5138, which is a basic dress shirt with two front darts (and various sleeve types). Ever since I saw M5522, though, and read the good reviews on Pattern Review, I’ve known I had to have a copy.

What makes this top work for me is the separate waist-panel and the gathers around the bosom. Some of my most flattering tops are constructed this way (though some of them also have pin-tucks ).

When I saw that the pattern was no longer being sold, I had to get a copy before it was too late. I have been painstakingly watching which of my clothes ready-made clothes feel and fit the best, and I wasn’t about to let the closest (well-reviewed) approximation to one of my favorites get away.

Fourth of July Sale at Jo-Ann (2 of 2): Extra Goodies

As mentioned in my previous post, I went to Jo-Ann today with a list. I didn’t find everything on my list. I was sad. But–the sale was wonderful.

Sneaky Jo-Ann’s Fabrics!

Thus, I looked around and found a couple other patterns to add to my pile. New Look was the winner in the “impulse buy” category, mainly thanks to a very good display case and the fact that the Burda patterns I liked are still too advanced and specialized and the Vogue sheath dresses didn’t have the right sizes for me at both bust and hip (gripe, gripe, go swimming more, gripe, gripe, gripe . . .).

With no further ado, here are my”impulse buy” goodies:

New Look 6209:

A dress pattern. Because I, demoiselle, who has been living in jeans for many years, need more dresses.*

I picked this because I wanted a sheath dress (darn it), and I must say I like the construction here. Batteau necklines work well on me, as long as the bodice is fitted, and since this dress features not only princess seams but little darts at the chest (oh, that’ll be fun to sew!), I think it should fit well. Throw in the little cap sleeves and this dress should balance out my figure nicely.

Or so I theorize.

I also like the possibilities with this dress. Apparently it’s popular now to do blocks of color in the middle section and black on the sides, so that’s one option. The blue dress in the “A” view made me think this could make a nice stretch denim dress (perhaps made out of one of the fancy, slightly sparkly denims that I’ve seen in the Garment district).

I appreciate the half-sleeve option, because I have a serious shortage of dresses with any sleeve whatsoever (and am thus flummoxed every winter when I need to dress up).

New Look 6173:

I won’t lie. I picked this pattern out for one view and one view only: The floor length, off-one-shoulder gown. Once upon a time (in college and before), I wore dresses and skirts all the time. Now I rarely do. It’s time to go back, and I think the line on this dress is gorgeous. The other two views, with their fussy gathered busts, don’t do much for me. But oooooh, that floor length gown.

It’ll be a while before I make this dress, too, though. I think it requires an exquisite fabric, and I won’t want to be chopping up exquisite fabrics for a while.

* Actually, I do need dresses, because I have to go to formal events now with my husband. But I need things like tops and pants more. Speaking of which . . .

New Look 6196, my final pattern pick at Jo-Ann:

Tops. Flattering to my body tops. That have an actual waistband, which will really help them be flattering to me tops.

After I get my Simplicity Scrub-Top (ugh?) finished, I’m going to either make that top over and over again until I get really good at it, or make the New Look equivalent to see if it looks better–then make tops over and over again until I’m really good at it. Because if there is anything I am lacking this summer, it is decent tops to wear.

After I get those super-basics down, I will be coming to you, New Look 6196, and you, Simplicity 3750. By the end of this summer, I am going to have tops to wear. I swear it.

(And while I’m at it, I might make my simple A-Line skirt in a few different fabrics, so I can get that invisible zipper perfected and have some nice, light and breezy “demoiselle-designed” bottoms to wear around the house.

You would think that would be all that I bought . . .

And it almost was. I was fortunate. With two gift cards, a 10% off your entire purchase coupon, and the Fourth of July sale, I managed to walk out of Jo-Ann without having spent a cent–and with a balance on my second gift card.

But then mom wanted to go in for a moment. That was my downfall. I found the muslin, remembered how irritating I have been finding making top-muslins out of the patterned cotton from Walmart clearance, and decided that I was going to get a good, healthy supply of good-quality, unbleached muslin (also on sale). I got 15 yards.

So, the second time I walked out of Jo-Ann’s Fabric, I left with a zero balance on my gift card and having spent some money, too. But I have enough muslin for quite a few projects, several patterns that I have had on my wish list for a year or more, and a few surprises that I think will broaden my sewing options.

Fourth of July Sale at Jo-ann (1 of 2): Wish List Purchases

Remember how I said just a few days ago that it was a good idea to buy a few, flexible patterns? Well, today I broke my own rule. I’m in upstate New York, visiting my mom, in an area where there is a Jo-ann. Since there isn’t one near me and I had two gift cards burning holes in my wallet, I decided that it was worth taking advantage of the Fourth of July sale.

And I did.

My first plan was to just go for the McCall’s “Five for $5” deal, but unfortunately some of the patterns on my wish list were not available. I’ll probably have to order them online, which is too bad. However, a number of things that were on my wish list are now in my pattern stash, such as:

McCall’s 5947:

Apparently, this is the “Perfect Knit Dress,” and it was named a “Best Pattern of 2010.” Looking at this dress, I can see that Views A and B (scoop-necked with a waistband and a gathered skirt) are the most likely to suit me. The more popular views, C and D, are less likely to suit, though I’ll have to examine the construction. V-Necks are good for me, but wrap-style dresses rarely suit me (I had one, once, which was divine . . .). Also, the bulky tie + my small bosom + my wider hips are likely to make me look thick.

So, in this envelope I am hoping to find two good knit dress patterns. I might try out the wrap-style and hope for the best, or see if I can find a way to minimize or lighten the waist-tie portion of the outfit.

Anyway, since this one is being discontinued and it is so highly reviewed, I went for it. I hope I make it and it works out for me!

McCall’s 6331:

This pattern is also about to be discontinued, and it was an impulse purchase. I noticed it on the “about to be discontinued” page on Pattern Review, put it on my wish list, and then found it at Jo-Ann.

Into the basket it went. This is a more “daring” purchase for me. I love the romper, but as short as it is cut, I don’t think it would suit me without significantly lengthening the “shorts.” However, the “B” View, which is the yellow sundress, is lovely–and I don’t have a single sundress pattern. The line drawings show a tightly-fitted bodice with darts and a very floaty skirt, which is one of the silhouettes that suits my figure best. I think that McCall’s 6331 will be beyond my skill level for a while, but once I am ready to tackle it, I see promise.

New Look 6356:

After my struggles (as yet undocumented in detail on this blog) with Simplicity 8523, I was pointed towards this very similar pattern. At first I had my doubts about buying it. After all, this basic shirt set is very like the basic shirt set offered by Simplicity.

Then, I placed the line drawings for each side by side (perhaps I’ll do that in another post!) and compared. I was surprised by what I saw: whereas the Simplicity shirts fall almost straight down from the underarm, the New Look shirts are all tapered. Moreover, these woven shirts are all designed to have a zipper in the back, which suggests that they require less ease and will, therefore, not be as baggy as the Simplicity versions.

Add in the more plunging necklines, and I decided to spring for a pattern that is similar to one I already own (but only after opening up the tissue gently and confirming that the sides of these shirts really are far more tapered than Simplicity’s).

Simplicity 1784:

This last pattern is the one that I am most dubious about among those from my Wish List. I am drawn to the blouse’s bow-tie, the jacket (which is not going to be as fitted as I would want, I know), and the skirt (which I could, to be 100% honest, create from a pattern I already own). Nevertheless, every time I see this pattern photo, I feel drawn to it.

I haven’t seen many reviews of this pattern yet, but I’ll be watching. I hope they are positive.

Demoiselle’s Additional Commentary:

  • Boy, they sure get you at these sales! As careful as I try to be with selecting patterns (and I still think that I have picked things that offer additions to my wardrobe and do not fully overlap), the cheap prices make loading up on patterns appealing.
  • I got Dritz Wash-Away Wonder Tape! I have read that using that tape makes putting zippers in easier, and I am all for that.
  • I looked through the Burda catalogue for the first time. Now, I have something to aspire to for finding and making striking signature pieces. They are more beautiful than Vogue . . . and there are a number of Vogue patterns that I like.
  • Speaking of Vogue, I wanted to get two sheath dress patterns from them, but they break their sizes up in the worst possible way (for me). If I wanted to assemble a sheath dress from Vogue, I would have to get one envelope for the top and a second for the hips. Disappointing.

You might think this is it for my Jo-ann shopping spree, but you’d be wrong. I bought three more patterns (not from my wish list) that I will show off momentarily.