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.


Simplicity 5914: First Skirt

So far I’ve only posted talky-posts and one brief discussion of my very first failure of a knitted scarf. Today I post proof that I have, in fact, sewn something wearable–and am proud of! I give you Simplicity 5914, View F:

I have actually sewn something. And lined it, too. (Early 2011)

This is one of my basic, tried-and-true (TNT), “can make this over and over in a dozen different ways” patterns. I have put my review from below the divide, but I will write what I am proud of and wish to work on here:

Proud of . . .

  • The choice of fabric: a very inexpensive brown polyester suiting that looks much better than it is.
  • The hemming, which I stitched straight around without any really obvious wobbles.
  • The zipper placket, which is surprisingly decent!
  • The lining. The Simplicity pattern does not give any directions on making a lining for this skirt, so I looked up the instructions (either online or in one of my reference books or both) and figured out how to make one, insert it, and the facing correctly. Yay for improving on the pattern!

Want to work on . . .

  • Stitching the skirt panels together straighter.
  • Doing the facing more neatly. On the outside it looks good, on the inside, it doesn’t look as good.
  • Making the inside of the garment elegant and attractive. I made this whole skirt on my lemon and it shows. The edges are finished with pinking shears on the skirt and with zigzag stitches on the lining. The hem of the lining is also done with a zig-zag stitch. It is fully functional, but when I look inside I see “home-made” not “hand-made.” It’s the disconnect between how this skirt looks on the outside and how it looks on the inside that made me decide to get a serger, which I have used for my other projects.

This is a TNT pattern if ever I saw one.

I would label this not only “Easy & Great for Beginners” but also “Great Wardrobe Builder.”

Pattern Description:
A-Line skirts in two lengths, three versions flaring from the hip and three versions flaring from the waist. I sewed “View F” — the most basic paneled A-Line in the package.

Pattern Sizing:
I sewed size 14, which fit me without adjustment.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
Yes, very much so. This pleased me, since I purchased the pattern hoping to mimic my favorite store-bought A-line (which has, however, eight panels instead of six).

Were the instructions easy to follow?
For the most part, the instructions were easy to follow. This was my first sewing project since my teens, though, and even then I did only one dress. Therefore, I found the instructions for inserting a zipper to be confusing and the results unattractive. I followed the instructions in my copy of the Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing.

Next time I sew this, I think I will try to do an invisible zipper, because the zipper placket on the side, though painstakingly sewn, is a distraction from the line of the skirt.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
I think this is a fantastic basic skirt pattern. With two silhouettes and two lengths, it should be a go-to pattern in my stash.

As mentioned above, the instructions for inserting the zipper were unclear (thank goodness I made a muslin) and I think the garment would be better served by an invisible zipper.

Fabric Used: Brown polyester suiting. The fabric is machine-washable, wrinkle-resistant, and looks high-quality even though it was quite inexpensive. I think this pattern will work well with many types of woven fabric.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
I added a lining (following instructions from the internet) because I was trying to mimic my favorite black store-bought skirt. I thought that without a lining the skirt would cling/be limper than the model. However, since this pattern has six panels instead of eight, the resulting skirt-with-lining stands out from my body a bit more than the ready-made one.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
Yes to both. Simplicity 5914 is an excellent choice for a new sewer or someone returning to sewing after a long hiatus. Nice, straight lines, nothing too complex. Just make sure to have a good reference for inserting zippers and practice if you are new to sewing as I was.

Misc.: I think that–for a “professional” look–the added lining was essential. It makes this skirt feel extra-snazzy.

This pattern is fantastic: easy, flattering, versatile. I have plans to use it both to make staple skirts and to make “outfits” and “suits” once I get to the point where I am ready to sew vests and/or jackets.