Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Piped Cuffs

The piped cuffs on the button downs in the last post were not included in either pattern and came about because I didn't have enough buttons when I was making the first version. 

I really liked the green glass buttons that I used for the cotton version and didn't want to look for a substitute so I had to come up with a solution for the cuffs. Closing up the side seam and gathering the sleeves into the cuff seemed like a great solution and was easy to do.

However, I kinda upped the ante for the blue & white version because I decided to add piping to the cuffs. 

Here's how I made the piped cuffs ~

First I cut four of the cuff pattern and interfaced just one side of each pair.

Then I basted piping 5/8" from the edge to both sides of one of the cuffs.

The second cuff was sewn to one edge of the piped cuffs.

The cuff is then pressed flat and open - I use an organza pressing cloth and my sleeve board for precision.

The cuff once it's pressed flat.

Then the cuff is opened up and the side seam is sewn closed and then pressed open.

I hand basted the cuff to the sleeve. Then machine stitched it onto the sleeve. I did this so that I wouldn't have pins sticking me as I sewed the two pieces. I used my zipper foot to get as close to the piping as possible when sewing the two pieces together.

The finished sleeve waiting to be inserted into the shirt.

Making the cuffs was the easy part, sewing them to the sleeve was the hard part. Halfway through I wanted to kick myself for picking such a complicated and unnecessary design detail. Between hammering the seams to make them less bulky (yes, I did clip the seams first) and putting the first cuff on wrong then having to take it off...to hand stitching the cuff to the sleeve...those cuffs were a challenge. Let me say that again, A CHALLENGE! 

After finishing the first one, I had to take a minute before starting the next one. However, I'm glad I took the time to add the piping to the cuff because the finished button down looks great because of this detail.

Then I completely lost my mind and decided that I needed to add piping to the button placket too on the next version.

So begins the adventure for the next button down...coming soon to the blog!

...as always more later!

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Fabric Makes All of the Difference

I have a lot of button down shirt patterns in the pattern stash. Each one purchased for a different reason, idea and/or dream. Lately I've wanted to make a couple of them. I found an out-of-print (OOP) Vogue 7700 in the stash recently...and I loved it...until I looked at the line drawings closely and realized it had dropped shoulders. I don't really like dropped shoulders on anything but I loved the yoke and gathered back on the pattern.

Butterick 5678

So I decided that I would mash up my tried 'n true (TNT) blouse pattern - Butterick 5678 and Vogue 7700. This gives me the fitted princess seam look on the front and the flowy artist type smock look on the back that I wanted. I'm always looking for comfortable, flowy types of button up shirts and/or tunics to wear alone or with a cardigan.

OOP Vogue 7700

At first I really wanted a couple of white blouses but I decided that I have so many colored and patterned shirtings in my fabric collection, that I would go with one of them. I chose these two shirtings from Fabric Mart (really did you have to ask where they came from? LOL!)

One is a cotton shirting I bought from Fabric Mart years ago when they were running a sale on shirtings.  The sticker says I bought 3 yards for $4 a yard. My second choice is a Cotton & Steel cotton I bought during my Christmas vacay, directly from Fabric Mart's brick 'n mortar store. It's one of the pre-cuts, 4 yards for $1 a yard.

Pattern Alterations ~
The biggest change was to the back of the shirt because I love the full gathered back of Vogue 7700. It was what I wanted to incorporate into Butterick 5678. The princess seams on the front will give it a tailored look and the swingy back will give the button down a more casual look.

So I made a pattern sandwich (original back, yoke back from V7700 and a new piece of tracing paper) and I made a yoke back that would match the neckline and shoulders of B5678. 

Then I altered the gathered back piece. The original had a dip which I filled in because I wanted a seam straight across my back. I also changed the armhole so it would match the B5678 one. Especially since I'm still using the B5678 sleeve.

Construction Deets ~
Seeing that I was mashing the patterns I used the Butterick directions for the front. This was my sewing process:

Button down Body:
1. Serge finish the cut out pieces.
2. Sew the back yoke to the back piece and set aside.
3. Sew the princess seams of the front.
4. Stitch the front pieces to the back pieces at the shoulder seams.

Collar and Collar Stand:
For the Cotton & Steel one, I made the collar and collar stand as the pattern suggests, just topstitching everything before adding it to the body of the shirt.

Sleeves and Finishing the Button down:
a. When I cut the sleeves out I added a little extra to the side seams (without messing with the sleeve cap) to give the sleeve a little more room.

b. Then I changed the cuffs from regular cuffs with a button to a solid cuff that you slip your hand through. I took pictures of the process they will be in the next blog post.

c. The cotton button down has a double hem and buttons & button holes.

A few pictures of the Cotton & Steel Mashup ~

After making the first version, I realized the shirt would work better in a flowy type fabric. The cotton version is okay but it lacks the drape that I wanted. So I chose another one of my pre-cuts to make a second version.

I used a polyester crepe pre-cut from Fabric Mart for this one because I'm in love with the pre-cuts from Fabric Mart. I may have bought a few more when they were on sale for 60% off! LOL!

Things I changed for the second one ~

1. I lengthened the back yoke piece by 1". It seemed short on the original version. 
2. I added 5/8" to the cuff because I added piping to the cuff.
3. I added piping to the collar of this version to break up some of the pattern.
4. In the first version the back was longer than the front piece. So I cut 3" off the back to make it work.
5. For this one, I lengthened the front pieces by 3" so the finished top would be tunic length and match the unaltered back piece.
6. I also took in 1/2" on each front princess seam from the waistline down to make the bottom front a little more fitted. While the loose fit worked with the sturdier fabric, it was a little too much drape with the drapier fabric.
7. The sleeves were widened to give them a little more flare before gathering them into the cuff.

8. Piping was added to both ends of the cuff and then gathered into the sleeve.
9. The shirt was hemmed by turning it up 1/2" and topstitching. Then buttonholes and white buttons from the collection were added.

The button down in action ~

A picture of the two shirts side by side ~ 

Conclusion ~
I know that I used out of print patterns for these makes.  However, both of these patterns are readily available on the internet for purchase. I don't know if there are any patterns with these features currently in the pattern books, though. 

I have to admit that I love the blue and white one more. It has the length and drape that I want. Also the piping takes the design up a notch. I loved it so much that I immediately pulled out more fabric to make a couple more button downs.  

Another like is how the mash-up looks on me. Tailored in the front with some flare in the back which really works for my body type. And since I've been sewing multiples lately, why not three or four instead of just two!

...as always more later!

Friday, February 17, 2017

What's Your Process?

I'm in the midst of sewing button down shirts. Creatively they are really speaking to me.  I'm working with a mash-up of Butterick 5678 and Vogue 7700. I've posted pictures of the cotton & steel version to Instagram here and here.

The first one is done and I'm working on the second one now. Why?  Because fabric plays a huge part in how a garment fits, wears and looks. But that's not the reason for this post. In making the second one, I'm not using the pattern instructions, I'm sewing organically...and I realize I no longer speed sew.

What do I mean by that? Previously, I would do all like tasks together. Serge finishing all of the pieces prior to sewing, interfacing all of the pieces at once, and cutting all pieces out at one time. I don't sew this way anymore. I'm not trying to be first across the finish line now. I'm just trying to enjoy the process.

I do still think the project out ahead of time, planning out embellishment/trims, picking buttons and insuring that I have the right threads on hand. That's done more because I like having a plan when I sew and I hate to run out of anything halfway through the project. Also, because I like the idea of planning out the order of construction before I sew.

This is my process, so tell me yours. I know that a lot of the conversation this year has been about the political atmosphere in the US right now. This post is all about sewing, so talk back to me. Tell me, do you plan out your sews?  Your construction steps? Whether or not you will add trim to your garments? Or do you just wing it?

Let me know...and thanks for talking back to me!

...as always more later!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Simplicity 8059 - A Blue Velvet Vest

When I was making the cardigans, the blue velvet was my favorite. I loved the look of it, the fabric and the ties, but the sleeves were just too tight. I tried to take some of the seam allowance out of the sleeves, knowing that the velvet holds the memory of stitches. Betting though that since the stitching was on the underarm I could get away with it. However, I didn't have enough space for comfort. So I removed the sleeves and made it a vest.

Otherwise this one was sewn just like the other cardigans...and I really like it as a vest. Also, because I used velvet as the base fabric, I used a navy ponte for the facings because velvet on velvet would be too much. To me the tassels are the detail that I love the most. 

I wanted to share a few details about how I made the tassels. From Joyce Trimmings, I bought a couple of velvet ribbons in shades of blue and the tassels to use as the ties for this version. 

How I put the ties together ~

3 yards of turquoise 1/2" velvet ribbon
3 yards of navy 1/2" velvet ribbon
2 shades of blue beaded tassles
Steam a Seam 2

Cut the velvet strips out - 21" long
Added the Steam A Seam 2 to the back of the ribbon

Placed the tassel between the two strips 

Placed the second ribbon on top encasing the tassel
Finger pressed the two ribbons together

Pressed the ribbons using my needle board for the velvet ribbon
...and a silk organza pressing cloth on the top

To insure the ties wouldn't pull apart I added a line of 
stitching down the center of the ties

Finished ties before inserting them between the facing and vest fronts

Some construction details ~
All of the seams were pinned every 1/2" so that the two pieces of fabric wouldn't shift when sewn together.

I used a stitch length of 3 on my Janome 8900QCP and a #70 Schmetz Universal needle.

Each seam was started with the foot fully on the fabric and then I backstitched and sewed forward for each seam to prevent the bunching that can occur when sewing with velvet.
While this is a simple pattern to construct, I gave it a degree of difficulty by using a stretch velvet. It meant a lot of slow sewing, using my needleboard for pressing, a lot of steam and finally all hems were hand stitched down. However, the extra effort was worth it because it's such a luxurious piece. Truly this is why I sew!

A few more pictures of the vest in action ~

I've worn all of the cardigans and this vest to work and I love the ease of wear. They also feel like me. I wear them with jeans and leggings and a sweater or turtleneck. These pieces make me glad I sew!

Again, these photos were taken by me...the music was blasting and I was definitely getting silly but hey this is me! A silly sewist sometimes...*LOL*

...as always more later!

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Butterick 6389 - A Vest

I love these loose floaty vests and when I saw Butterick 6389, I knew I needed to add a version of this to my wardrobe.

I bought several of these boiled wools from Fabric Mart years ago. At the time I wanted to use them to make short cardigan jackets to go over dresses for the very professional job. So I was thrilled to find new life for them now.

This is a simple sew because it's a loose fitting garment. Choose your size, I used an XXL, cut it out and sewed it up. That's what I did but there was something missing. It was kinda plain.

I let it hang overnight and when I looked at it in the morning the armholes that were kinda long had grown. I'm sure it's because I didn't use the facings that are in the pattern. The facings that I saw no need for definitely had a purpose. Also, the next morning the vest seemed unnecessarily large in some areas. 

To fix this, I took the side seams in some. Then I added a fusible interfacing to the armhole seams that I turned in and stitched down. Instead of hemming the vest, I serged around the edge twice to finish. Oh one more thing, even though I cut the pocket pieces out, I sewed the vest up without them. I realized that I didn't really care if I had them or not so left them off and I never missed them when I wore this to work on Monday.

I also left the collar seam unfinished. The pattern tells you to do a french seam on the collar seam but my fabric was really thick and I just didn't feel like wrestling with it. Since I was going with an unfinished hemline, showing the unfinished collar seam just seems part of the theme.

Here is the finished vest ~

In the above picture I wore the vest with a belt to emulate the pattern envelope. I may or may not wear the belt but it does work for me. Lately I'm more casual and like the loose and flowing look better!  

This was a quick and stylish addition to my wardrobe.  Worn with a thick turtleneck or one of my cashmere sweaters, it will be warm enough for the cold days ahead. I may make a version of the turtleneck that's included in the pattern because I love turtlenecks. However, right now I have button down shirts on the mind so that's what's on my cutting table.

...as always more later!

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Cashmerette Turner Tunic

I really like this pattern cause y'all know I love a dress but dresses only figure predominantly in my wardrobe from late May to September. Somehow a dress in the spring/summer works in my very casual office but not so much in the fall/winter. So I don't wanna wait until spring to make a version of the Turner Dress, that's why I decided to work on a tunic version first.

I went with a border print ponte recently purchased from Chic Fabrics to give it a little oomph. I'm slowly bringing myself around to the "I can wear any color, print, etc. I want camp" even though this is still a print on a black background! *LOL*

How I posted the fabric and pattern to Instagram

Pattern Alterations ~
Now there aren't many of those because Jenny has thought of most things that a plus size sewist needs to do to make a pattern fit and they are incorporated into the pattern.

But it is winter and the neckline was quite low on me, so starting with the bodice front for a C/D cup, I added 2" to raise the neckline per Jenny's instructions in this blog post

Construction Deets ~
I cut it out originally in a size 22 front and a 24 back and size 22 sleeves, put it on and thought ummmmm no. It was way too tight. Some of the tightness could be attributed to using a ponte with minimum stretch and some may be attributed to the fact that the pattern pieces are cut on the cross grain which could be affecting the little stretch the ponte possessed.

Since I bought three yards of the fabric, I recut the front using the 26 E/F cup and the 24 back. I needed all of my extra in the front. I'd already cut the skirt using the border for the bottom of the skirt. There wasn't enough fabric leftover to recut the skirt so I "made the bodice" fit the skirt. A good press helped make it work too.

The original sleeves that I cut from the border print ponte were too tight and I despise tight sleeves. When I went to recut them there wasn't enough fabric for them even when I tried to piece them together. So I pulled out my trusty black ponte fabric (which has a little more stretch) and cut new sleeves from it. If I look closely, I can see the slight difference in the fabric but since the print is so vibrant, that is what your eye is drawn too.

Designer Deets ~
I wish I was capable of just sewing a pattern out of the envelope as the pattern designer made it but I'm not.

Here are the changes I made to the pattern:
1. Made it tunic length
2. Gave the side hems shark tooth hemlines to emphasize the border print.
3. Used Jenny's instructions to raise the neckline
4. Instead of lining the top with self fabric, I used black foldover elastic to finish off the neckline. 

Some pictures of the tunic in action ~

Conclusion ~
I like the ease of this pattern. How easy it is to sew. How easy it is to interpret and change up using fabric and details...and how easy it is to wear. I don't know if I will make another tunic but it will definitely be on my spring/summer to-sew list. I'd like one with a very full skirt and calf length in a lightweight knit. It will be a perfect spring/summer dress and will have more fabric to cover the abundance of behind that I have.

Also, I took these pictures myself. My daughter and the grand kids are all under the weather. I've forgotten how hard it is to take my own photos and I applaud all of you who do!

One more thing, most of these pictures are taken with me wearing sneakers because honestly this is my footwear choice most days. I'm slowly but surely buying interesting pairs of sneakers cause they're fun and since I can wear them to work, I might as well.

...as always more later!


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