In Progress . . .

I have two sewing projects in advanced states of progress. My linen skirt (Simplicity 5941) is complete save for hemming and inserting a hook and eye. I am pleased with it, and have put some notes on a post-it in the envelope so that it is even better next time (when I hope to learn how to make a waistband for it).

My second muslin of my Sorbetto top is much, much better in terms of fit. I just finished applying the bias-tape around the neck (in order to practice what is to me a new technique. It feels great . . . though it doesn’t look nearly as good. I’ll need to practice making more consistent tape, get better at sewing around the tape in a smooth fashion (no squiggling!), and definitely use a thread that matches my real Sorbetto top’s fabric very closely. Now, I just have to make enough tape to bind the armholes so I can see whether the size is fine the way it is, or if I need to scoop them out a bit more.

I have to say, after my first muslin I did not expect the Sorbetto to even approach “flattering.” It’s just a really shapeless garment. However, adjusting the darts and going down by one size has helped a lot. The back still has a lot of extra fabric, but I don’t think I want to mess with that since the top still has to go over my head.

Plus, there is a such thing as overfitting. In my case, that would mean that I do muslins until I’m sick of a project, and thus never end up with anything wearable.

That’s why I threw together the linen skirt. I was starting to get frustrated by my “failures” and wanted a sure-fire success that was for me (so hubby’s pjs were out of the running).

I need to push forward and get a couple more things done, then I’ll do a photo-shoot and share the fruits of my very busy week of daily sewing.

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.


Muslin: Simplicity 3750

I was inspired to try sewing for 20 minutes today, and that quickly turned into several hours. Funny how that happens.

Anyway, I decided that I had nothing to lose (except a few pieces of muslin), so I dove into Simplicity 3750. What began as simply pressing the tissue turned into laying the pattern out, cutting, and then stitching up a few pieces. Before long, I had this:

Simplicity 3750: Muslin Front

Not bad.

This was my first time gathering, and it shows a bit (I need to make sure that when I make the actual garment I space out the gathers more evenly). I haven’t done the back yet, so I can only estimate how it will fit. It looks to me like the front yoke (the shoulder pieces) are going to be a mite too short for me. When I hold the front up to my body, I feel like the tie will ride too high unless I lengthen the yoke. However, the rest of the front seems to be dead on in terms of size. This surprised me, because I was certain it would be much too large.

We’ll see what happens when I piece the rest of this top together. Will it continue to fit, more or less?

I’m quite curious now.

Still Stuck on Simplicity 3750

Way back in July, when it was still summer, I said that my next project would be Simplicity 3750. Well, I’m still trying to get started on it. I’ve now got all my pieces traced onto tracing paper. Since I had such a bad time with my last top (probably springing from having cut too small a size/the fact that the largest hip on the pattern was still an inch too small), I’ve been having a hard time making myself invest in this top.

It’s complicated by the fact that Simplicity 3750 is made up of three pieces in front, so I’m concerned about fitting it. I’d do a different top, but this is the only top I currently have fabric for (everything else is suiting for skirts, vests, boleros, etc). I don’t want to buy more fabric until I am certain I will use what I have.

So, I’m left staring at my various pattern pieces, needing to trim around them and tissue fit and feeling convinced that I’ve traced the wrong sizes, but that the other options would be more wrong.

Maybe I should just make another skirt. Or maybe I should push through.

Time Machine Tuesday: Denim Pencil Skirt (Simplicity 9825)

My second sewing effort after my decade-and-a-half break was a pencil skirt, seen here:

Simplicity 9825 – A Pencil Skirt in Denim with Topstitching

It took only one muslin to get the fit, and I was satisfied with the outcome. Although I wouldn’t yet label this pattern “TNT,” I think that, with patience and a bit of tweaking, it could be.

Certainly, the line of the skirt is good, and, although I had to do some tweaking to make it fit better, it was minor. I can see myself coming back to this pattern multiple times, and I think it would look good in various kinds of fabric.

Proud of . . .

  • The burnt-orange embroidery thread that I used for the topstitching.
  • The top-stitching itself, which I kept an even length by lining the edge of the presser foot with the seam alongside which I was stitching. It worked!
  • The fabric choice: Although the photos don’t show off the color, this fabric is a lovely, dark indigo with a hint of lycra. When I brought a sample in to The Sewing Outlet to practice getting the proper setting on my new serger (ie, a lesson), the clerk admired the swatch.
  • The finishing: I serged everything on this skirt, so it looks just as nice on the inside as the outside.
  • The fact that I figured out how to fix the poor fit in the stomach area by pulling the extra fabric into the waistband (shortening the front).

Want to work on . . .

  • Actually writing down the alteration I made so I don’t have to figure it out the hard way again. Ooops.

Here’s my review of Simplicity 9825, as posted on Pattern Review.

This is my second sewing effort, made after Simplicity 5914.

Pattern Description: 
Misses’s Slim and A-Line Skirts Each in Three Lengths (six total views). The skirt is made of four panels with a back zipper, and the skirts include a broad waistband. I made “View C,” a knee length pencil skirt with stitching details down the front and around the waistband.

Detail: Topstitching

Pattern Sizing:
I sewed a size 14, and the basic fit was good. However, I did have to raise the front of the skirt into the waistband to eliminate bagginess in the tummy area. Also, the diagonal stretch lines so cruelly visible in this photograph suggest that either I have put on a little weight since I made this or I needed to make the hip area slightly wider.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
Yes. The pattern is what it says it is! 

Were the instructions easy to follow?
The instructions were easy to follow, definitely. I am glad I made a muslin, since that’s how I discovered the need to pull the front of the skirt into the waistband to eliminate stomach bagginess.

I can’t remember if I followed the directions for inserting the zipper for this pattern; I think I again referred to the Readers Digest Complete Guide to Sewing. Nevertheless, Simplicity 9825 seemed much more amenable to having a zipper put in, and the waistband helped the process.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
The wide waistband hits right at my natural waist, rather than sitting on my hips. This cut definitely creates the illusion that my waist is smaller than it is. The skirt has a nice silhouette.

As for dislikes . . . well, it isn’t the pattern’s fault, but getting the perfect fit around the hips, especially since this garment doesn’t have much ease, wasn’t easy for a new sewer.

Fabric Used:
I used a lovely, high quality dark indigo denim (the color doesn’t show up well in the photos, perhaps because my living room is painted blue!). It has a bit of stretch to it. I accented the denim with top-stitching in burnt-orange embroidery thread (picture above). The top-stitching gives a nice, subtle, professionally-made look to the skirt.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
As mentioned above, I had to raise the front of the skirt into the waistband to eliminate front bagginess. I chose to hem the skirt to knee-length instead of mid-thigh as pictured on the package.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
I would and I will. I already have some fantastic tweedy wool in my stash which is intended to be a work/professional version of this skirt. It only awaits me getting a bit more confident that I won’t ruin my expensive fabric with novice-errors!

I am triangle shaped (though I do have a waist about 10″ smaller than my hips). Though I think this skirt is flattering, I suspect it would not suit someone who is even more bottom heavy than I am, or who is more rectangle-shaped. As it is, I think this skirt looks best on me when I wear a top that gives my shoulders the illusion of being a bit wider.

Simplicity 9825 (View C) is what it promises to be. It matches the envelope and it’s easy to make. It’s also versatile–you could make anything from a jeans skirt to a suit skirt with it. The wide waistband is flattering and accentuates one’s waist.

For a beginner like me, S9825 offers some minor challenges (applying the waistband and facing, having had to fix the tummy). It’s also–unless I made it wrong–quite fitted, so it’s good that my denim had a bit of lycra in it. The fact that my wool tweed is NOT stretchy and I will have to be more precise in fitting it over my curves is part of why I haven’t lept to make this skirt again. However, I know that I will. This is an excellent basic pattern to own.

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.

By Jove! Saga of Simplicity 8523 (Part III)

Muslin #2.5: Swayback Alteration Accomplished!

I was going to give up. I really was going to.

I could not find a set of swayback alteration instructions that did not warp my pattern in unacceptable ways.

Then, luckysweetheart at Pattern Review sent me a link to a different method of doing swayback adjustments on a shirt or bodice.

This is the first explanation I found (even after searching online and flipping through all my sewing books) that  dealt with how to do the swayback adjustment on a top without distorting the rest of the pattern (skewing the center back line and pulling in the hip).

So, I did my first “slash and slide” style pattern adjustment. Since disaster did not strike, I cut out a new back, applied my seam ripper to the old muslin, pressed to my hearts content, and attached the new back.

Et voila!

That is a big change from this. And it still fits over my head!

As my friends on Pattern Review are pointing out, there is good in knowing when to stop fitting, too, and I think that this is that point. Maybe, maybe, I will try to add in that extra inch of length below the waistline so I can hem  to this height. But maybe that isn’t worth it. Perhaps, instead, I should experiment with doing a very narrow hem.

The bottom line is, thanks to the swayback tutorial and everyone’s advice and help, I have finally reached the point where–assuming the facings work–I could live with this shirt as it is currently fitted. I suspect there are better patterns for me out there (and believe you me, I’ll be looking for them: patterns that have center-back seams, patterns that have more curve and shaping).

I am sure that anyone who is reading this is getting sick of this pattern and this shirt. Never fear–the end is near. Just a little more muslin-ing, and I can move on to the real deal:

This drapey, soft cotton fabric is what I’ve been working towards.

Pretty, isn’t it? Cross your fingers . . .