I was on a crowded BART train and saw this bomber jacket on a woman standing next to me and immediately thought, “I want to make that!”
I love the look of the venise lace sleeves. I have a large scrap of venise lace that I got in New York a couple of years ago for just about $2. It would be perfect for the sleeves. Here’s the lace.
I have no idea how I would deal with the raw edges. I could leave them unfinished but I would rather have a cuff of ribbing. I don’t know how that would look. Or maybe I could line the sleeves with a mesh and then sandwich that in between the ribbing. If you have any suggestions, let me know in the comments below.
I began looking at bomber jacket patterns. Because I have a limited amount of lace, I think I need to avoid raglan sleeves, which would use too much fabric. I’m going to include some of the raglan sleeve patterns at the end of this post for future reference. I think raglan sleeves are the classic bomber jacket design.
This pattern is designed for medium-weight woven fabrics. The PDF is for letter-size and A4 paper. Note: no copy shop version.
Jalie’s Charlie Bomber Jacket, $12.99 (Canadian), paper, $11.99 PDF, $17.98 for paper and PDF, 27 sizes (girls, women, plus sizes)
This pattern is for knits or stretch wovens. I’ve always heard great things about Jalie patterns, which focus on knit fabrics. I have one cardigan pattern by them but I still haven’t made it. I love that their patterns come in so many sizes. My lace isn’t a stretch lace so I can’t use this pattern but I will keep it in mind for a knit fabric bomber jacket.
The description says it has “panelled raglan sleeves.” From the photo, it appears that the sleeves have three panels, instead of being one pattern piece.
Obviously, I found more raglan-sleeve patterns than inset sleeves. I think I need to measure my lace scrap and see exactly how much I have. Maybe I should see if I could squeeze two raglan sleeves on it. What’s your favorite bomber jacket pattern? Which one would you pick?
Hi, have you ever had a fabric just hanging out in your stash for years and then you forgot about it? Well, I’ve had this Ikea linen fabric in my closet for a long time. I’m guessing more than six years.
I remember using it as a backdrop for this photo I took for my blog when it first launched in November 2011. You can sort of see the dots in the background.
It’s a heavyweight linen that’s a bit stiff – even after I washed it in the washing machine and put it in the dryer. As you can see the dots vary in size and they are equidistant from each other. Choosing a sewing pattern for this fabric was a bit of a challenge because the dots are large and their placement is symmetrical. I’ve got about 3 meters or 3 1/3 yards of this 35″/88 cm wide fabric.
Here’s a shot of the fabric against my body (please excuse the dirty bathroom mirror and bad lighting!).
I posted an image on my @csews Instagram account and asked what should I make with it – a jacket, pants – and asked for pattern suggestions. I received many responses, including that I made a jacket, circle skirt, dress, tote bag or a shower curtain. Here were the pattern suggestions:
The Oversized Kimono Jacket from Issue 4 of Making Magazine also designed by Jenny Gordon, which Heather Lou of Closet Case patterns blogged about here.
I hadn’t heard of Ann Normandy before so I was happy to learn that her patterns were aimed at heavier weight linen fabric. I like the clean lines of her designs. The suggestions also spurred me to consider other patterns – the Sapporo Coat by Papercut Patterns, (which I’ve made in wool melton and with a cotton sheet) and The Strand, an unlined coat by Merchant & Mills.
I was really taken by the Oversized Kimono Jacket so I went ahead and ordered a copy. I decided I really wanted to make a jacket because it would get a lot of wear. I don’t wear dresses that often and I couldn’t really see this fabric as a skirt. But I still wasn’t sure about the Oversized Kimono pattern for this fabric so I also searched the jacket patterns in my stash for possible candidates.
Here are the finalists
Anne Klein Vogue, V1098, which is in my stash and out-of-print (OOP) – the lines in this jacket could make for an interesting design with the dots, breaking up the symmetry.
New Look 6532, which I mentioned last year in my blog post about new fall patterns. I bought this pattern but haven’t made it yet. The seam lines here would also let me play with dot placement. My idea would be to deliberately misalign the dots across the pattern pieces.
Marcy Tilton Vogue pattern (V8620, OOP) – I think the heavyweight linen would work well with this pattern and the seam lines would also be fun to experiment with.
The Oversized Kimono Jacket by Jenny Gordy, which could be color blocked. Here’s my photo taken from Making Magazine of this pattern.
I used MyBodyModel custom croquis (fashion sketch template) to play around with how the fabric would look in the different designs. I’ll be doing a guest blog post for the MyBodyModel blog later this month so you can see all of my sketches. 🙂 Here’s a sneak preview of one of my sketches for the Oversized Kimono Jacket.
Sketching out how the fabric will look with different designs was really helpful! I don’t usually sketch out my fabric choices. I can usually visualize in my head how I think something will work with a particular pattern. But I was having trouble seeing how these big dots would look in a jacket. I was afraid the big dots would give the garment a clown-like appearance.
I thought the color blocking would look better. So I’m glad I sketched this combination. I’ve sketched a couple of other variations, which you can see on the MyBodyModel blog later this month. I’ll have picked my final choice by then. I’m hoping I’ll have enough scraps leftover to make a tote bag!
Hi, I made these collages on my phone last month and I’ve even sewn a couple of things already, which has to be a record for me. It can take me a while to just get started. But this year, I decided I would start with patterns and sewing books in my collection as well as the fabric I already have. So here is my Make Nine 2018 list:
Top with Epaulettes from She Wears the Pants, a Japanese sewing book by Yuko Takada. I made my own striped version in 2015, which you can read about in this post. I still wear it. I have an odd synthetic knit in a pretty purple that I’m going to use. I’ve already cut the pattern pieces.
A midi-skirt from Alabama Studio Sewing + Design, which I reviewed here. I’ve made a skirt and tunic from this book. I had this maroon red knit fabric that was originally going to be yoga pants. I decided to make a skirt, which I hand sewed last month. I still need to photograph it.
I finished the Pilvi Coat a little over two weeks ago and blogged about it here.
Decades of Style Chore Skirt, which I started last year but still haven’t finished. This beautiful rose print will be the contrasting part of this pleated skirt.
Twist-and-Drape top from Shape Shape, a Japanese sewing book by Natsuno Hiraiwa, released in 2012, it is the first Japanese sewing book I ever bought. I want to make this interesting top in this interesting cotton lawn print. I’ve been making a muslin using a polka-dotted cotton-silk blend I have in my stash. It’s slow going because the fabric is a bit delicate and the raw edges are finished with bias tape. As I was making it, I discovered that there was an Instagram #sewjapaneseinjanuary sewing challenge going on – the idea was to make something from a Japanese sewing pattern in January. I got started but I haven’t finished it but it gave me the inspiration to get going. Thanks to @bloglessanna and @craftyjane_makes for hosting!
Megan Longline Cardigan has been in my stash for more than a year. I’ve had this striped knit fabric in my collection for more than three years. I got it for $1 or $2/yard at the FIDM scholarship store in Los Angeles.
I want to copy this top I saw in the window at Max Mara in the fall of 2016. I even bought fabric to make a black-and-white silk (as opposed to leather and wool) version of it. I got a black plaid print, a solid black and then a print at Britex Fabrics back then. I just need to pick a tunic pattern to make a color-blocked version. if you have any suggestions for a square-necked pattern, please let me know!
Last but not least is this Spiral Scarf from Shape Shape. I have this bright magenta wool silk organza that I got at the Britex yard sale, which would be perfect for it. I just need to decide if I want to get a contrasting color or just make it all one color.
My Make Nine 2018 goal this year is to make some inroads on my fabric stash and to make more garments that I would wear everyday. I’m holding off on making pants because I’m working on losing a few of the extra pounds I’ve gained over the past two years. Skirts are a little more forgiving.
Oh, and I almost forgot! I’ll be attempting to start and finish a bias cut skirt and vintage top in time for the Bay Area Sewists Frocktails in February event this Saturday! I only have a few days to sew up version D of the Vogue vintage reissue and this midi skirt.
Instead of sewing a dress I decided to make separates so I will get more use out of the ensemble. I tend to wear separates, not dresses. I’m hoping that I’ll have enough leftover fabric to make version D of the Vogue pattern. We’ll see. Wish me luck!
I buy sewing patterns in spurts. They tend to be impulse buys or maybe it’s a pattern I’ve been eyeing for a while but haven’t decided if I really want to get it. And then I see an email about a sale so I buy it. Or it’s a pattern I’ve seen on someone’s Instagram feed. If it’s sold out or out of print (OOP), I go to eBay or Etsy to hunt it down.
Here are some of the sewing patterns I’ve either purchased or have been generously gifted to me since the summer. I’ve listed them roughly in reverse chronological order – the most recent additions to my pattern collection appearing first. (Please excuse the bad photos. They are rather blurry and dark.)
I got this Kwik Sew patttern to make a cardigan for my husband – a birthday present for him. You can read more about why I picked this pattern here. I haven’t sewn any Kwik Sew patterns yet. I like that the paper is white and printed in color. It’s nice to have the sizes in different colors. I bought this pattern on eBay for $10.25 because it’s OOP. It’s uncut and like new. Apparently newer Kwik Sew patterns are on tissue paper. Darn. So if you have look for OOP patterns to get the white paper.
Last week, the McCall’s pattern company had a sewing patterns sale on nearly all of its patterns. Kwik Sew, Butterick and get any simpler than pants with an elastic waist! I like the wide legs on these pants. And then I saw this vintage reissue, which I had noticed several weeks ago when I was looking at vintage patterns. I just love how it wraps around the waist. So I got these three Butterick patterns.
In September, during #bpSewvember – Bimble and Pimble‘s Instagram photo challenge, @sownbrooklyn posted this image of two vintage hat patterns that she got as part of a Craiglist haul. (She blogs at Sown Brooklyn.) And I commented that I loved the pattern on the right. And guess what? She offered to send it to me! I was thrilled to accept and got the pattern a few days later. The hats look like something Audrey Hepburn would have worn. Thank you, Wanett!
Just a few months earlier a lovely Bay Area Sewists member gave me the vintage 1959 McCalls sewing pattern below. I love both versions of this dress – a full skirt and the sleek sheath. Here are both patterns.
I’ve become a little obsessed with pants (trouser) sewing patterns. I really need some new pants because most of mine are a little too tight because I’ve gained weight over the past year. Plus my favorite pair of trouser jeans are too worn out to wear in public any longer. I may try to copy those but in the meantime, I bought some medium-weight denim when I was in New York in August and a couple of months later I got this Butterick pattern B5682. I want to make the trouser version.
And last, but certainly not least, are the indie patterns I’ve purchased over the past several months I first saw Deer and Doe’s Fumeterre skirt on Libby, an Aussie sewist who I first “met” on Instagram. When she came to San Francisco in May for a work conference, we went to Britex Fabrics and she wore this skirt. I loved her version. I got the pattern at Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics in Berkeley, which carries more than 40 indie pattern lines in their brick-and-mortar and online store. Here’s a link to the online pattern store.
I also got the Sew House Seven Toaster Sweater pattern at Stonemountain. I got some wool double-knit fabric to make Version One of the Toaster Sweater. I saw a few versions on Instagram and had to buy it.
I’m a longtime fan of Christine Haynes. I bought her first book Chic & Simple Sewing and made quite a few garments from it. I even interviewed her on my blog back in 2012, back when she only had a couple of sewing patterns out. You can read the interview here.
So that about sums up most of the patterns I’ve bought over the past six months. I think this will keep me busy for 2017! I’ve got a rather long sewing queue now, not to mention other sewing projects that are underway. I’m not a speedy sewist because I only have time to work on things a little bit at a time. But my main priorities are trousers and tops, which I why I’m really enamored with the Toaster Sweater. However, I may make the Butterick dress for the Bay Area Sewists Frocktails event in February.
Hi, in August I experimented with some indigo dyeing, which you can read about here. Then I wanted to try dyeing several pieces of cotton muslin to make a 16-panel Shibori skirt. (I wrote about how I made each design in this post.)
Now my challenge is finalizing the order of the panels. I dyed eight pieces of fabric, each with a different design but I tried to keep them about the same intensity of blue so the skirt will have a cohesive look. Even so, I’m not so sure they all work together. The skirt has eight panels for the front and eight for the back. It’s an A-line skirt from a Japanese sewing book Basic Black – so just imagine the panels in a trapezoid shape.
I dyed four smaller pieces of fabric for the top row of panels and four larger pieces for the bottom row, which is taller than the top row. This meant that I was limited to four specific designs for the top and four for the bottom. After fooling around with different variations, here’s the order I like for the top four panels of my Shibori skirt.
I posted another variation of this on Instagram and Twitter, which you can see here. On IG, Shana Levy McCracken (@lanachevy) suggested flipping the striped panel so the darker stripes were on the bottom, Ka Yun Cheng (@kayun.cheng) agreed – and so did I. On Twitter, Josefina Segura (@joevacom), a blogger (Coser a Color) from Uraguay, suggested this reorder of the panels, which is how I eventually got to this arrangement. I really appreciate getting comments and replies from social media!
Here’s one option for the bottom row…
… and here’s another option for the bottom row with the order of the last two panels flipped.
Now I need to decide which bottom row to use. Here’s option 1:
And here’s option 2:
Which one do you like best for my Shibori skirt? Option 1 or 2? I’m leaning towards Option 2. The darker bottom right panel seems to go better with the panel above it.
Hi, now that we’re nearly two months into 2015, have you given any thought to what you want to accomplish this year, not necessarily resolutions, but maybe goals or themes? I’m not really into resolutions but I like the idea of a word or theme for 2015. This has been in the back of my mind for a while, particularly since I got a mailing at the end of December from Flight Design Co., a branding and strategy company. I follow their art director Katrina McHugh on Instagram (@katrinamchugh), which I think is why they sent me the card. (I got an email in Dec., asking for my mailing address, telling me they would be sending me something fun. It was addressed to “CSews,” which is my IG handle.)
The mailer was a New Year’s greeting and thank you – a long rectangular piece of cardstock folded in three. When I unfolded it, it said “2015 is all about” and then there was a blank area to fill in, followed by an exclamation point. To the right of the exclamation point were the following instructions:
Think about what you want
Find a common theme
Choose a word or phrase
Write it down
Hang it on your wall
Take a picture
Make it happen
I didn’t want to make any New Year’s resolutions but I kept this card and let ideas percolate. And when I read a January post by the effervescent Leila of Three Dresses Project, about her word of the year (freedom), I thought, I need a word! But what word?
Well, it all came together this past weekend when I realized I forgot to bring the power cord for my sewing machine to a Sew Together meetup, an event I organized for the Bay Area Sewists meetup group. (The idea was to have a meetup at Lacis in Berkeley (great upstairs classroom space!) and people could bring their sewing machines, patterns, etc. and sew, trace, cut, in the same space.) Luckily I live around the corner from Lacis. I needed to get some measurement forms for the group anyway, so I thought I could quickly pop home and get the two things and be back in a few minutes.
Well, I couldn’t find the power cord. I had brought my secondary machine – my lighter, plastic Kenmore to the meetup. I don’t use it much these days,which is partly why I couldn’t find the darn power cord. But the real reason, which I finally had to face, was that my sewing area, essentially our dining table, was waaaay overdue for a cleanup – as my husband had been complaining about to me for weeks. (My main machine is now a used Bernina I got last year, which I haven’t blogged about. It’s a mechanical one, no fancy electronics.)
I knew the machine’s power cord was somewhere around the table but I couldn’t figure out where it was. We’ve got boxes stored under it, my various sewing carts are on one side of the table, and my husband’s book cases line the walls around the room. So things are rather crowded. You can see my carts in this post on sewing organization. (Yeah, my drawers are organized but that didn’t help me when my work space was a mess!)
After about 10 minutes of searching, I realized it was taking too long and I wanted to get going on that muslin! Lucky for me, I also knew one member, Hillary, brought a machine she was willing to let others use – as were other generous members. So I returned to the meetup – sans power cord – and took Hillary up on her offer. Thanks to Hillary, I was able to put together most of the pieces of my muslin – a 16-section (8 panels each for the front and back) A-line skirt from Basic Black, which I’m working on for the Japan Sew Along, organized by Tanoshii (hashtag #2015JSA).
Here are a few photos of the meetup.
When I got home, I started going through the disorganized mess on and around the dining table (in case you’re wondering, we usually eat on a table in the living room – such is cozy apartment living). I’m too embarrassed to show a photo of the mess so I just took a photo of a few of the random things I discovered during my cleanup – that’s the photo above, clockwise from the left:
a receipt from Stonemountain and Daughter Fabrics from December 2014,
the pocket pattern piece for my Chardon (gee, how did I not put that away with all the other pattern pieces?),
an “O” I embroidered for a drawstring bag I’m making for one of my nieces,
leftover bias tape from my Trench, a summer stashbust project,
a pink erasable highlighter (I was wondering where that went, rolled under the table),
clothes pin, and
small polka dot drawstring bag I made.
Whew! And I found the power cord!! It was in a bag sitting on a tall chair near the kitchen island, which is right next to our dining table. Sheesh. I decided to put my Kenmore machine AND power cord away in our small storage area. More table space!
So I decided I needed two words for 2015 – because one without the other wasn’t going to work.
Yes, creativity and discipline! Because if you don’t have discipline you may not finish anything, not matter how creative you are or how many ideas are in the hopper. My husband Kofi is always saying how important discipline is and he’s right. I know if I’m not more disciplined about carving out time to sew/trace/cut, even if it’s only 30 minutes, a day, it will take me a really long time to complete anything. And if I’m not disciplined about putting things away, I’ll waste time hunting for things – not to mention drive my husband crazy – when I could be sewing or doing something else. I can only sew after I get home from work or on weekends, which means I don’t have a lot of free time.
Meanwhile, I’m going to stick this on the wall. Now all that’s left of the instructions are: build community, make it happen, and CELEBRATE!
What’s your sewing space like? Do you have a dedicated area or is it shared space – as in someone else uses the space, so you need to clean up all the time? Do you put things away or can you just leave everything out? If you have any tips, please share! Do you have a theme or word for 2015?
I took off the entire week after Christmas for a sewcation. I had a pile of patterns and fabric that had been sitting around for months and months. It’s hard to believe that 2014 is over! But I didn’t get much sewing done last year so I thought if I finally had some time I could really get going on some things.
I’ve always associated pleats with plaids (not my thing) and my high school uniform (green plaid) and I also avoided them because they just don’t work with my curvy figure. They won’t lay flat. (I usually have to grade up a size in the hips.) But when I saw the inverted pleats, I thought Eureka! Pleats that even I can wear!
If you follow me on Instagram (@csews), you may have seen some of my WIP photos. Here one I posted before it was hemmed.
Inverted box pleats are great for people with hips! I didn’t have to grade the pattern up in the hips! I just traced a straight size 44. I’ll be posting about it as soon as I take photos of it. I also cut out two more Chardon skirts (one with the contrast band and one maxi) and drafted/cut a lining for the maxi.
I finally traced and cut out my muslin for a Sewaholic Renfrew top. I’ve had this pattern for ages but somehow haven’t gotten around to making it yet. I have yards of black knit fabric that I got for $3 yard at the East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse.
The top middle pattern with the lady in the red jacket is a 1950 Vogue vintage reissue V2934, which I got a few years ago. The suggested fabrics are satin, velvet tweed, Ottoman (I don’t know what that is), and lightweight woolen. I have some black sweatshirt material that would be great for this jacket and then I wouldn’t have to bother with hair canvas interfacing. Plus it seems a bit subversive to use lowly sweatshirt fabric for this jacket.
I got as far as cutting the pattern – yes, I cut the pattern! I didn’t trace because size large is 16-18 – plenty of ease for me and there are no bust darts. And I prewashed my sweatshirt fabric.
I’m sure many of you recognize Colette Patterns Moneta. I got as far as finishing up cutting out my tracing of this pattern. I’ve been wanting to make it using a striped knit fabric but the thought of stripe matching has kinda put a damper on that. Plus I have yet to make a muslin of it. I want to make a version with inverted pleats, rather than gathering at the waist, which I’ve never done with a knit.
I haven’t done anything with the Esme top yet – it’s a Sew Liberated pattern that I bought at Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics, which is also where I bought the Deer & Doe pattern. I’m soooo lucky that my local fabric store carries indie patterns!
Oh, and I nearly forgot – I made a muslin of this vintage Vogue pattern – 8343 from the 1970s as far as I can tell. It has princess seams – with four panels in front and in the back.
I used this brown jersey fabric I had in my stash. It’s rather thin though and my fashion fabric is a wool double-knit. Clearly, I will need to do an SBA, which I’m excited about because I’ve never done one with princess seams. I’ve read that it’s pretty easy because you just take it in along the seam allowances. How easy is that?
I haven’t attached the sleeves yet. I think I’ll make another muslin with an SBA and then attach the sleeves. My wool jersey was really expensive so I want to make sure the fit is perfect before I cut into it.
My other goal was to make a tote bag using this fabulous oil cloth – at least that’s how it was identified at Britex Fabrics. I bought it 30 percent off at the store’s rare Black Friday sale. It normally retails for $30/ yard. I got 3/4 yard to make my bag. I love the print!
But I was worried about whether it would rip along the seams after some wear and tear. I got some great tips from folks on IG, including one from Brooke of Custom Style (@sewbrooke) who suggested sewing with duck cloth canvas underneath the stress points. Angela of Sewn by Angela (@sewnbyangela) suggested using a long stitch length to avoid tearing.
Then I took it with me to Stonemountain & Daughter and one helpful lady behind the counter suggested lining it with canvas or ticking fabric. So I checked out the ticking (they had several colors) and found this great red ticking that goes perfectly with my print! Oh, and I was told that my print wasn’t oil cloth but fabric that’s been coated. So maybe it will wear better than I think. She also suggested that the straps run the length of the bag so it wouldn’t have so much stress at the very top. I’m pondering that but I don’t want the straps on the outside, covering up the print so maybe I’ll sandwich the straps in between the fabrics.
I do want it to be sturdy. Maybe I need to make a test bag before I sew this up. 😉
Meanwhile, I prewashed my ticking and looked at all my sewing books that have bag patterns or ideas. I went through a spate of book buying a couple of years ago – some of them I picked up at Half Price Books for less than $10 each and the rest I ordered via Amazon. But I’ve only made one or two projects from all of these books.
None of them quite had anything that I really wanted to make using this combination of fabrics but I did get some good ideas from Sew the Perfect Bag, a 2010 book with bag projects from Sew News magazine. I’ll be figuring out my own dimensions and construction later this month.
Oh, and I told the hubster I would make him a Newcastle Cardigan in black fleece. Last year I made a ton of adjustments to the pattern to get it to fit better and made him one in blue fleece (uh, I should mention that the first one I made in a double-faced black fleece was way too small). I told him I would make him one in black fleec. I had him try on the blue one again and he asked if I could make it a little lower in the back – it needed a butt adjustment. So I adjusted the pattern one more time, prewashed the black fleece and cut it out. After I attached the sleeves and had him try it on, he asked if it could be a little longer – what? Luckily, he didn’t want it to be too much longer so I just added a band along the bottom.
By day I traced/prewashed/cut/sewed and then at night my hubby and I listened to music and read aloud various books. For the past several weeks, I’ve been reading The Universal Tone, Carlos Santana’s fascinating autobiography. It’s full of great stories of his encounters with various musicians over the decades as well as a very personal look at his childhood, family, and spiritual and musical development. He has an encyclopedic knowledge of music, particularly of the blues and jazz. It was truly inspiring to read and one of the best autobiographies I’ve ever read. Last Friday, I read the final page. I was sorry to put it down – and it was more than 500 pages!
Here’s what I ended up doing during my sewcation:
Traced Deer & Doe Chardon skirt and Sewaholic Renfrew patterns
Traced/drafted Chardon skirt to a maxi length
Drafted a lining for a Chardon maxi
Went to Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics four times – to look at fabric for another Chardon skirt, buy lining/thread for a maxi skirt, seam tape for first Chardon, fabric for contrast band of my next Chardon skirt, get buttons for the Newcastle Cardigan (I thought I had buttons!). I live within walking distance of this great fabric store, which is open seven days a week.
Cut fabric three Chardon skirts: floral print, black-and-white print on hemp/cotton blend with solid black contrast band, Dutch wax print maxi
Cut black knit fabric for a Sewaholic Renfrew, View A
Sewed 1 Chardon skirt (finished!)
Sewed muslin of vintage Vogue dress (fabric was already cut)
Sewed Thread Theory Newcastle Cardigan for hubby (finished!)
I thought I would have completed more garments but at least I’ve got a good start on a few things! How long does it take you to finish something?
BTW – I’m giving away a 2015 Fashion calendar. For details, please read my post Happy Sewing – Fashion Calendar Giveaway! and comment by 11:59 pm Pacific tonight (limited to U.S. residents, sorry but international shipping costs are too high)!
So far I’ve finished three Sewing Cake Hummingbird tops, green version! My first two were knit jersey fabrics with 5 percent lycra in solid colors, which I got at Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics in Berkeley: a blue lightweight cotton knit and a red heavyweight cotton knit; and my third a striped black-and-white cotton knit with lycra (percentage unknown because I got it from San Francisco’s Discount Fabrics, which doesn’t list much fabric info on the bolts).
This pattern is so flattering (love the peplum!) and it’s easy to fit to your figure because you customize the pattern based on your own measurements. All you need are three numbers: your full bust, front waist (measurement from your shoulder to your waist), and waist. I stood in front of a mirror to make sure I got the correct front waist measurement – in my case 17 inches. Then you pick the size closest to your bust measurement. My bust is 37.5 inches but I went with size 35 for a closer fit. I figured that the knit would stretch enough so it would still be comfortable. For a looser fit, I could have picked size 40.
The pattern paper has a nice weight to it. It’s not the tissue-thin paper that some patterns are printed on. The patterns lines are easy to trace, which is great. I drew a line from the “dot” for size 35 to my waist measurement marking (triangle).
Once you’ve traced and cut out the pattern, it doesn’t take very long to put it together. There are only six pattern pieces (front, back, peplum, neck and arm binding. But you do need to do some pressing in between certain steps.
In case you’re wondering, the peplum is one piece (cut on the fold), which looks really cool when you use a striped fabric. (As you can see from the photo above, I cut my sleeve and neck binding for my striped top on the bias.) You can also opt to cut a four-seamed peplum on the bias, which would look quite striking.
I used bias fusible stay tape on the hem. I wasn’t sure how it would fare in the washing maching but the blue and red versions have been through one wash and look fine.
1 3/8 yards of jersey fabric for each top
All-purpose polyester thread (Gutterman 430 for the red top, Coats and Clark blue thread for the blue top, and Coats and Clark white thread for the striped top)
Fusible stay tape (I used 3/8 inch Design Plus bias fusible stay tape for knit shoulders)
Schmetz 70/10 jersey needle
Fabric cost: The red and blue knits were between $9 and $10/yard. I can’t remember what I paid for the striped knit. It’s been sitting in my stash for a while. My guess is less than $10/yard. It has a nice weight to it. So I’d say it’s about $15 a top.
The Hummingbird top is versatile.
It looks good with pants and can be dressed up, like with this silk polka dot skirt.
It’s a very nice staple to add to your wardrobe and very comfy to wear. I’m sure I’ll be making more!
Yesterday I wrote a post about adjusting the neckline and lining the dress I was making from the book BurdaStyle Sewing Vintage Modern. I also mentioned that I would be writing more about the dress details. So here’s the nitty gritty.
After I sewed the lining and the fashion fabric together, I turned the pieces inside out (wrong sides together). See this tutorial on Blithe Stitches for step-by-step directions on how to line a sleeveless dress.
I sewed a couple inches down the left side seam below the armhole to leave room to insert the side invisible zipper. My next step was to prepare the skirt so I could attach it to the bodice. I sewed the right side of the back and front skirt pieces together so I had one long rectangular piece of fabric.
Then I sewed yards of seam tape to the bottom edge. The book instructs you to finish the hem edge by serging or using a zig-zag stitch. I don’t have a serger and I don’t really like the look of a zigzag stitch so I used seam tape.
[Side note: Britex Fabrics is only a couple blocks from my office so I went there on my lunch break to get seam tape but they didn’t have any in the off-white color I needed! Next I called Discount Fabrics and asked them if they had any in the color I needed – nope. My last hope was Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics in Berkeley, which is about a 15-minute walk from where I live. I called and they checked to see if they had off-white seam tape and they did! Yay – but that meant I needed to leave work early enough to get there before it closed at 6:30 pm. I got there about 10 minutes before closing. Thank you Stonemountain & Daughter!]
After that was done, I machine basted two rows of stitches at the top of the skirt, which would then be pulled to gather the fabric at the waistline. The book had a great tip — break up the gathering into four sections, which makes it easier to manage. You just take the front and back pieces, divide them in half, and baste each section separately.
After I pinned and sewed the gathered skirt piece to the bodice, I sewed up the left side of the skirt, leaving open several inches for the side invisible zipper. I pinned and sewed the invisible zipper to the bodice and skirt sections, carefully keeping the lining of the bodice out of the way. I found the tutorial “Installing an Invisible Zipper” on Coletterie to be very helpful.
Once the zipper was in place, I realized the bodice lining might be a tad short to fold over the waist seam so I attached seam tape to the hem of the bodice lining. Then I ironed a crease in the lining so it lined up with the waist seamline and hand sewed the lining to the waist just over the seam and around the invisible zipper. When I hand sewed the lining to the zipper tape, I made sure that it wouldn’t get caught on the zipper teeth when the zipper was going up or down.
Next I hand sewed the hem in place — by this time I was getting really tired of hand sewing. And then I had two final details I wanted to add — bra strap holders and a waist stay. My mom first showed me how to make a bra strap holder many years ago. She grew up in Thailand, which has hot and humid weather so sleeveless outfits are the norm. Thus she was an old hand at adding bra strap holders to her clothes. She made them by crocheting a thread carrier and attaching a snap at the end. (See this post on Design & Style for how to make a thread carrier.)
But I didn’t have a crochet hook, it was after midnight and the photo shoot for the dress was on the following morning. I was out of time so I improvised. I looked through my stash of ribbons, bias tape and twill tape and found some off white twill tape that I could use in place of thread carriers. I sewed one end to the shoulder and sewed a snap to the other side.
I got the idea of adding a waist stay from a reissued 1957 Vogue dress pattern I bought a few years ago. I made the dress (it used four yards of fabric!), which got me really interested in construction details that I don’t usually see in modern patterns. A waist stay helps the dress keep its shape and also take away some stress from the zipper. You hook the waist stay before you zip up. The waist stay (I used Petersham ribbon for mine) has little ease in it so it brings the fabric edges of the zipper opening close together.
I attached the waist stay in seven places – near the front and back of t he zipper, at the two front and back darts and at the right side seam. I hand sewed it in place with small stitches at the top of the ribbon at the waistline. And then I was done with the dress.
On Friday, I’ll write about the photo shoot for the dress, how I found a photographer, and what it was like to be a model for an hour.
If you want to see more photos on the dress, see my BurdaStyle project page. My dress is a finalist in the BurdaStyle Sewing Vintage Modern Sewing Contest! To see the 20 finalists, go to this page. My dress is on slide 13. You have until Sun., Feb. 24, 5 pm ET to vote.
In December I bought the book BurdaStyle Sewing Vintage Modern at a sewing event at Britex Fabrics and I had also interviewed the author, Jamie Lau. Naturally, I had to make something from the book! And when BurdaStyle announced a sewing contest using a pattern from the book, I had some incentive to get going. But first I had to think about what to make and wrote here about my initial criteria and what I was considering. After I looked over the fabric in my stash, I knew that making a dress from the book would be my best option.
At first I thought I would use the pattern for the Jamie Shift Dress because I had some great wool crepe that I could color block. But it would have taken me a lot more time (and muslins!) to adjust the pattern so it would be more flattering to my curvy figure.
So I finally decided to use the master pattern for the Elizabeth Gathered-Waist Dress. It’s from the chapter that features fashions from the 1950s, an era when dresses had full skirts and women wore crinolines.
This pattern has a square neckline but I decided to give it more of a boat neck, which is a style I really like. That neckline always makes me think of Audrey Hepburn and the dress she wore in the 1957 film Funny Face, which also stars Fred Astaire who plays a fashion photographer.
To change the neckline of the Elizabeth Gathered-Waist Dress, I traced the neckline of the Jamie Shift Dress but made it wider at the shoulders.
I made one muslin of the bodice but once I tried it on I realized I made it too wide. It didn’t look right and my bra straps showed. So I traced out another pattern but only made it about an inch wider than the Jamie neckline — much better!
My other adjustment to the bodice was that I decided to line it. The pattern uses facings. So using my muslin, I cut out the bodice twice – once from my fashion fabric, which I got from Discount Fabrics in San Francisco, and a second time from my lining fabric (a lovely Bemberg rayon lining from Britex).
I pinned and sewed the front and back darts on all the pieces and then I pinned the neck and armhole facings to my lining front and back. My fashion fabric has a soft hand and I wanted it to give it a little more stiffness around the sleeves. I used a very lightweight interfacing on the facings.
Next I attached front and back at the shoulders of the lining version and the fashion fabric. To put the two pieces together, I followed the clear instructions in the tutorial “How to Line a Sleeveless Dress,” which I found on the blog Blithe Stitches. Though my dress wasn’t exactly sleeveless and it also had a side zipper, the directions still worked for me.
Tomorrow I’ll be writing more about how I finished lining the bodice, dealing with the side invisible zipper, and additional construction details.
In the meantime, you can see more photos of the dress on my BurdaStyle project pageand you can vote for my dress here. My dress is one of 20 finalists in the contest! So please check out the contest entries and if you’re a member you can cast your vote. It’s free to join!
This year I resolve to sew more clothes instead of buying them and sew down my fabric stash. I’m not sure how successful I’ll be at this endeavor but I think it’ll give me more incentive to make time to sew. This is also the first time I’ve made any sewing resolutions.
When you have a full-time job, it can be a challenge to find enough time to complete something (and my husband wants to spend time with me so I can’t spend all my free time sewing!).
So far I’ve made a handsewn skirt from red knit jersey and I just finished a tunic in the same fabric. I got the patterns from Alabama Studio Sewing + Design by Natalie Chanin of Alabama Chanin (reviewed here). I learned a couple stretch stitches from this book – a herringbone stitch and the cretan stitch. Until I read this book, I had no idea you could hand sew stretch stitches! Pretty cool.
Then to complete the outfit, I’ll use black jersey to make a short bolero jacket. I just cut out the pieces last weekend. I’ll start sewing it this week.
I flipped through the book looking at the recommended fabrics listed to see if I had any fabric in my stash that would work, which also makes it easier to decide what to make. I immediately see three things from my stash that could work, whether I have the skills to make all of them is another story.
In addition, I recently got a copy of Shape Shape: Sewing Clothing Patterns to Wear Multiple Ways by Natsuno Hiraiwa, which has patterns for some unique and versatile clothes. The author was a graphic designer, which no doubt has influenced the cool clothes she designs. There’s an interesting vest that I think I’ll make. I bought some red gingham over the summer and haven’t done anything with it so now I can use it!
After I made my sewing machine pocket organizer, I got to work on a chair organizer – a very handy item that drapes over the seat of the chair so you have pockets on both sides of the chair (from McCalls’s pattern M4274, now discontinued). But it’s made for a traditional chair with four legs. There are two ties that hold it in place to the chair back. If you have a different chair I suppose you could leave the ties off and it could still work if you use safety pins to attach it to the seat cushion. Or if you have enough things in the pockets to weight it down, it could just stay in place by itself.
As you can see, I stuck a variety of things in it – pinking scissors (a birthday present from my older sister), extra pair of fabric-cutting scissors, boxes of pins, bobbins, and so on. It’s quite handy.
Simplicity also makes a pattern (3776) for fat quarter sewing accessories that’s still in print (at least as of this writing). It doesn’t have a chair organizer but it has a project organizer and other things you can make to hold your sewing items.