Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Butterick 5678 Topper

I've known from the moment I started working on the original B5678 tunic that I would be lengthening the pattern and making it a dress.  It has that easy wear, cool look that I'm trying to achieve in this new phase of my life. That's what I started out doing...but I ended up with this topper instead.

Materials ~
Striped Silk Suiting from fabric.com
Rayon Bemberg Lining from the collection
Faux Leather from EOS

Notions ~
Tortoise shell buttons from the collection
Covered black snaps from Pacific Trimmings
Black faux leather trim from Simplicity.com

Construction ~
The most important thing about this topper is how I used the stripes...which meant some creative cutting to get the fabric to work the way I saw it in my minds' eye.  Thank goodness I had four yards of fabric and no qualms about using it in special cutting layouts. This resulted in some big and unusual scraps leftover.

The fabric was laid on the crossgrain so that the stripes would be vertical instead of horizontal. Then the pattern pieces were cut out using a single layout to take best advantage of the stripes since they have an irregular pattern.

I also cut fashion fabric on the bias as the underside to the collar stand, the lap for the sleeve openings and the cuffs mainly because I didn't want the faux leather next to my skin. As much as I love sewing and wearing faux leather, I've found it's kinda clammy next to my skin.

I decided to add a lining to the topper but I couldn't decide whether to underline it or to let the lining hang free. Ultimately I went with a free hanging lining that I attached to the topper at the neckline and in the button band.

I also used plastic tortoise shell buttons with a gold center down the front of the garment.

13 buttons and buttonholes for the topper front and covered snaps were invisibly added to the topper's cuffs.

Instead of hemming the topper I added a faux leather bias binding to the hemline from the collection. It seemed like the stripes needed to be contained and the bias binding was the perfect ending to the stripes.

However, after finishing it, I wasn't sure I liked it. Partially because I just couldn't see myself wearing it. If I can't see that, the garment will just sit in the closet. Gradually over the week, I began to "see" outfits in my head...only thing none of those outfits was a dress...I saw it more as a topper.  So that's how I will wear it.

I'm letting the dress idea go for now using this pattern. I really like this as a topper, so a few more pics...

The wind so graciously provided an interior shot of the lining!

Worn with a RTW sleeveless turtleneck & ponte legging jeans

I enjoyed making this topper. It had some interesting components to it and it required me to think outside the box...perfect to remind me that I actually can sew! *LOL* Hey there's been some days/weeks lately when I haven't felt like I could...I know you can agree that you've been there, done that too! 

Oh, one more thing - almost everything for this garment came from the collection. The only thing I purchased were the covered snaps (35 cents each for 5) from Pacific Trimmings last week. My new job is located in the heart of the garment district, no I don't work for a fashion house or design firm, and I now have easy access to all of the stores.   

There's a "Throwback Thursday" up next on the blog! So thrilled to have found it when I was cleaning out the closet cause I can sure use it now.

...as always more later!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

McCalls 7095 - A Tunic

I'm going to be honest...I've broken down and bought some ready-to-wear pieces over the last few weeks.  As much as I'd like to have a totally me-made wardrobe, I'm starting all over again and I need clothing to wear to work. I haven't purchased a lot of pieces, just a couple of things from The Avenue that have given me a little "breathing room." 

Now that I have a couple of pairs of pants and a great shirt pattern, I'm concentrating on a few more tops so enter McCalls 7095.

When I did a google search for McCalls 7095, I came upon Liza Jane's versions made earlier this summer. There are a couple of versions on PatternReview but they are all made from white lace & linen/cotton combinations...not exactly what I need headed into fall.

Instead I used this rayon challis and lacy print combo for my version...

...to wear with a pair of brown RTW ponte jeans.  I decided not to add the collar after seeing Liza Jane's versions, which I LOVE, btw! I started with a size XL because I wanted a loose fit but I didn't want it to look like I'm wearing a maternity top.

Materials ~
  • Brown/Green/Purple Paisley rayon challis from fabric.com purchased at least 10 years ago. It had marinated in the collection long enough.
  • A brown lacy knit for the yoke purchased from a now defunct online fabric store called Lucy's...about 8 years ago. This is leftover yardage which I originally used to make this dress.
  • Brown rayon bemberg lining for the yoke lining pieces.
  • Brown pleated lace with a brown satin border for the sleeve hems.

Construction ~
This is an easy sew only made complicated by the way I did things.

I left the collar off because I like how the facing clean finished the top of the yoke. Then after I went to turn mine I realized I must not have followed a direction because my front yoke didn't look like the instructions.  So I punted by turning and topstitching. I actually like this so no harm, no foul.

The bemberg rayon lining was used for the inside yoke pieces. This was done because I thought it would give it a nicer look to my top's inside and play well with my lace yoke pieces.

Even though I cut the XL, I should have cut the Large. Okay typing that is mind-blowing but there is A-L-O-T of ease in this top. If you're looking for a good maternity top this one would work well and that is not a put down, just an observation. I ended up cutting another 1.5" from each side to get a top that is still a little on the loose side.  

Next time I make this I will start with the Large.  I also cut 3" off the bottom of the top.  This is an extremely long top and if I had added a few inches it would have made a great boho dress!

I didn't add the elastic to the sleeves even though I planned to.  As I was working with the top, the sleeves reminded me of the bell sleeves that were on the tops I wore in the '70s. If I was going for the true '70s boho chic look, I decided the sleeves were best without the elastic.  

Then as I was inserting the sleeves I remembered that I had a brown lace trim in the stash. Once I added the lace trim to the sleeves, I was really thrilled with the look it gave the sleeves - different from the pattern envelope - but very boho chic!

A few more photos of the top ~

I'm wearing ponte legging jeans from the Avenue with the top. I bought them in black, brown and gray. The fit is not bad and they will allow me to work on my slim leg pants pattern yet have something to wear to work!

Conclusion ~
I cut this top out late last night. Got up this morning and made a new top in three hours...that's even with the alterations. I love this top! I love the way it makes me feel, comfortable yet well put together, and most especially this top/outfit will work well in my job environment! The other thing is that it will work into the winter months because I can add a sleeveless turtleneck under it for additional warmth.

Now to go diving in the fabric collection to find more fabric to make up another version before I go back to work on Tuesday! 

My daughter and I took pictures of several pieces this weekend so there will be more versions of Butterick 5678 up on the blog soon.

...as always more later!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Butterick 6142 - The Pants

I need new pants. It's getting colder here on the East Coast and the pants I presently own are too big. I also want a skinnier leg pant than I've presently been wearing.  The worse thing a "fat girl" can do is wear too big clothing and 80% of my wardrobe is too big now.

So during my hiatus from the blog, I decided to try and alter a new pants pattern. I chose Butterick 6142 as the pants pattern for two reasons. One for the elastic waist and the slimmer legs of the pants and two because it will work in a ponte.

Extensive alterations to the pants pattern to make it fit my new measurements means I did a lot of pattern work. However, the pattern did have an interesting alteration line on the pants pattern front ~ a crotch alteration line.  Is this a new thing?  I haven't used a new pants pattern in quite some time and was pleasantly thrilled at finding the line on the pattern piece.  Even though it was there I didn't use it to make my changes, though I may in the future.

Instead I used the lengthen/shorten line in the abdomen area of the pants front and back to adjust the crotch line to match the one on my TNT pants.  I figured that and the actual pants length of each leg are the only things that still work for me.

Here are my alterations ~
My daughter and I took new measurements at the beginnning of the year since along with the weight loss there have been some inches lost too. I used those as the basis for the flat pattern measurements.

Because I didn't know where to actually start, I did make the alterations so that they would fit the waistline and butt measurement of my current pants pattern. Hey I needed to start somewhere and I did end up with a wearable muslin pair of pants. I know don't say it...

So the alterations first ~

1. The first and easiest was to add length to the front and back pattern pieces. I added it at the shorten/lengthen line that appears farther down the pants leg.

2. The second alteration was to use the crotch curve from my TNT pants pattern front & back pieces.

3.  Then I had to determine how wide to make the back and front pieces. Honestly I got a little confused here. See I know what my new measurements are - I wrote them down and posted them to my bulletin board.  But something in my brain would just not let me make a pattern piece that small. In my twisted mind, I kept thinking at least I could cut/serge away whatever fabric was too big...IF it was too big! You know I had to serge some additional fabric off the front and back, right! *LOL*

4.  The front and back pattern pieces were altered to reflect that change. I also took a wedge out of the pants front curve. Ummm, yeah if you don't have extra fat there, the crotch curve droops.  See all that extra fabric there...fine for a wearable muslin pair but not for my "real" pants.

5.  Final alteration was to add an inch to the center back merging into nothing into the side seam. The pants dipped a little low in the center back when I stood and sat.

I'm glad I made a wearable muslin because after wearing them I've determined that I have a few more changes to make to my pattern.
  • When I made the original pants pattern alterations, I didn't take into consideration that the waistband had a large foldover for the elastic insertion or that I used up a good 2" with my pulled elastic application. So the pants fit best when I turned the waistband down once and wore them that way. I've since made that change to my pattern piece.
  • I also had an extra amount of fabric in the front equal to the wedge that I removed from the pattern - so my next pair should work & fit better.
  • I was going to cut off some of the length that I added to the pattern legs but the length is perfect. They work well with my sneakers which I wear to walk to work and my wedges or a heeled shoe.

Sewing Observations ~
It's been awhile (at least a decade) since I used anything other than my TNT pants pattern to make a pair of pants.  So I have my own construction order that I use, as well as, my own elastic application.  Hey what ain't broke didn't need fixing especially since my goal was to get clothes to wear - not try out a lot of techniques.

So the way this pattern has you attach the elastic was totally new to me. First there's a pattern piece to tell you how much elastic to cut. As an aside after I made the pants, I've decided that guide is gold! It's so awesome! 

I cut my 1" elastic using the guide and followed the pattern instructions to sew it into a circle.

Then I pinned it to the edge of the pants waistline at the four points.  You had to stretch the elastic to sew it to the edge.  

Finally, you fold it over and use the same stretch technique to encase the elastic.  Here's a pic of the finished waistline.

I'm sure that this is not a new technique. However, I was thrilled with the outcome because you know that I was bugging since Dritz discontinued the elastic I'd used for the last decade in my pants. This technique is just so friggin' cool!

The seams were primarily sewn using my serger ONLY after I stitched the pants together using my sewing machine and checked the fit on my body.

Some more pictures ~ 

This is how I wore the pants last January...

Pants with turtleneck and the artsy vest.

Back view

My next version of these pants were made in a woven here.  There will be more of these pants sewn especially since I pulled the wearable muslin pants out and wore them today. The look of them fit really well in my new reality. Now to go through the fabric collection and pick some more ponte out to make a well-fitted pair of pants. They will go so well with my new Butterick 5678 tunic!

...as always more later!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Butterick 5678 in Blue Chambray

Even though I've purchased a bunch of top patterns recently, I started making tops, specifically button down shirts using Butterick 5678.

I'm starting this post with a photo of the unbuttoned shirt on Lulu because I am finally smaller than Lulu and it won't button on her!  See I really wanted to do a review of the pattern now since I've already cut out another one. Also it will be next weekend, before I get pics of the shirt on me.

Some details ~
The Pattern - Butterick 5678 - now discontinued

Fabric is a blue cotton chambray recently purchased from Fabric Mart. The buttons are from the stash and I used a lightweight fusible interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply.

I chose this pattern because it comes in cup sizes and has princess seams that start from the shoulders. I prefer princess seams from the shoulder line rather than the ones that start in the armhole. This one also has several lengths, different sleeve & collar views and pockets.  Even though I won't use the pockets, again just a personal preference.

Pattern Alterations ~
  • I started with the C cup pattern pieces. 
  • Then I added space from under the bust curve down. 
  • Starting with 1/8" increase out to 5/8" at the waist to the hemline. 
  • I made this adjustment on both sides of ALL of the pattern pieces except the front piece. 
  • There I only made the addition to the side of the piece and not the facing on the front.
  • The sleeve alterations were discussed in this post.
Construction Details ~
This was an easy sew. Even with the alterations I made to the pattern pieces everything fit together perfectly. So I sewed it together using 5/8" seam allowances. However, the waistline was still a little tight. So I unpicked the side seams and stitched them at 3/8" from above the waist to just below it then top worked perfectly. The collar and collar stand went on painlessly, so painlessly that I highly recommend this pattern to anyone who has it in their collection.

A few pictures of the shirt details ~

Front of the shirt

The cuff with the additional pleat and the continuous lap
and lousy topstitching...*sigh*

When I sewed the cuffs to the sleeves, my cuffs came up a little short. To compensate I added another pleat to each sleeve. This worked really well. So well that I will be using the second pleat going forward. See I have thin wrists and normally the cuff is too big/floppy.  These are perfect now.

Topstitched collar and front facing ~ better topstitching!

A few more construction details - my buttons are stitched on by doubling the thread and running it through Thread Heaven. I do this to strengthen the thread and so that I don't have to run the needle through the buttons so many times.  Three passes with the doubled thread is usually enough and since I had to sew on 13 buttons I needed this to be quick. 

My interior is serge finished although the pattern recommends french seams. I also turned the hemline up just once instead of the two times that the pattern suggests. This is my wearable muslin but it turned out so well with just a few corrections needed, which I've listed below, so that I'm moving ahead with the next version.

These are alterations I made to the pattern ~  
  1. The shoulders are hanging off my shoulder blades by a half inch, so I corrected that on my pattern piece. 
  2. I also shaved off 1/2" on my cuffs because they are a little too long for my liking.
  3. I added a smidge more to the front pattern pieces so that all the seams will be sewn at 5/8" per the pattern instructions.
Like I said I have a few more ideas for this pattern. I want to use it to make a dress, several button downs in a variety of fabrics - not just shirting, and also as a topper. It will be a great layering piece for fall and winter so it will probably show up quite a few more times here this fall/winter. 

The only downside is that the pattern has been discontinued but here are a few suggestions on current patterns that can be used.

...as always more later!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

My Sewing Journey - Fall Edition

I'm finishing up the Butterick 5678 button down shirt and I was thinking about what I want to sew going into the fall season. Lots more of this shirt pattern for sure but most of my thoughts were focused on how my sewing is different this year.  Not only because of my life changes but also because I'm no longer sewing so many TNTs.

That's not to say that I haven't worked the heck out of McCalls 6559 this summer, but I think that's more because it worked and I needed clothing for my changing body. I had another maxidress pattern on the cutting table to work on, I just ran out of time since the temps are definitely starting to fall. But sewing has become challenging again...yes I'm missing a little of the creative aspect that TNTs gave me but I finally believe that's gonna come back, too.

I've said this before but last year I really was sewing on auto-pilot, totally lazy sewing. I was in a rut. I had a uniform and I made variations of it. My sewing totally reflected how unhappy I was...unhappy with my job and some of my life situations.  Sitting here finishing up the button down shirt, it really hit me, how much has changed and how much happier I am now.

Then I sewed because I needed to...I needed the release but there was no real joy in it. Now that the joy is back, I'm going to guard it and hold onto it tightly, because it's precious.  I've also issued myself a little challenge.  I've stocked the cave to the rafters and beyond...we are just not going to talk about the 25 lb Rubbermaid bin in the storage area or the 4/5 (can't remember) 25 lb Rubbermaid bins in the garage...and it's time to sew from the wealth of goodies on hand.

This is not to say that I'm not going to buy another piece, because you always need black ponte, but you will probably be subjected to more "Fabric Find" posts so that I don't buy them! *LOL* On the honest tip though, I need to save more. I've looked up and realized that I have about a dozen more years to work and I need to prepare for the day when I'm no longer working full time.  That is the freakiest thing for me to type...anyway I can sew out of the cave for years.

Also, I'm not saying that I won't be going down the TNT hole again because I LOVE a good TNT pattern.  However, I am going to branch out and sew a lot of different garments because the restrictions have vanished. I'm not living in that world anymore and I'm finally casting them off to determine what I want to wear and sew now.

Just needed to say that in six long assed paragraphs! *LOL*  And because this can't be a totally pictureless post...here is a pic of Miss Sammy at 20 months wearing a couple of the dresses I made last spring. She's grown a little so her mother paired them with tops, leggings and chucks...seriously how cute is she in this pic?!!!

Please forgive the quality of the pic, it was taken on my daughter's cellphone and enlarged. Here is a pic of her from the original photo shoot proving that nothing remains the same in life! Children are definitely the yardstick to show that!

Next up is my review of Butterick 5678 (those numbers are chronological!) which can I state again that I loved sewing! If you have it in your pattern stash I highly recommend that you get it out and sew it up!

...as always more later!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Anatomy of a Sleeve - Butterick 5678

One of the challenges for me as a plus size sewist is sleeves.  I have very large biceps and upper arms. 

So choosing a blouse pattern is not just based upon bust, abdomen and hip measurements but also the sleeves. BTW, I nevah post pictures like this of my arms because in all honesty I'm not that thrilled with them. But hey we all don't like certain parts of our body - this just happens to be mine.

(Sorry but the pattern has been discontinued)

I really want to make Butterick 5678 a princess seam blouse with cup sizes. Those cup size pattern pieces will make getting a good fit through the bustline much easier to achieve.  The princess seams will also make alterations through the abdomen and hipline easier too.

The challenge is of course the sleeve.  I really want a sleeve with a placket because I see this pattern as a jump-off for a lot ideas for fall/winter sewing. But the sleeve...*sigh* My bicep measurement is 16" which means that I need a finished measurement of at least 17" to fit my arm comfortably. I like a looser fit in a woven. The finished measurement on this one is 16.5"- so I need to alter it.

Since I want this to be a TNT pattern, I want to make the correct pattern alterations instead of the cheater methods I've used in the past. So I pulled my book, "Fit for Real People" by Pati Palmer & Marta Alto off the bookshelf to use the "proper" method to increase my bicep measurement.

Following the diagrams in the book...

1. I marked the center of the sleeve with horizontal and vertical lines as outlined in the first step.

2. Then I pinned the original to cutting my board. Cut the pattern piece and spread the vertical line a full inch at the bicep line.  Next I taped the sides of the pattern and pinned it to my cutting mat.

3.  Placed a piece of pattern paper over the altered sleeve pattern and traced a new sleeve making sure not to alter the sleeve cap. This gave me an additional inch in the bicep area of the sleeve which should work fine for me now.

This was just the first of the pattern alterations for the shirt. Unless I come up with some really challenging ones, the rest will be detailed in the finished shirt blog post. It's really important that I get all the fitting and alterations right for this first one.

Version one will be made from a blue cotton chambray which has been prewashed and is laying on the cutting table now. I will be working on this shirt this weekend.

...as always more later!


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