Archive for ‘Garments’

April 25, 2012

5. Fail


I finished my Banksia Blouse this week! It fits well and the sewing is darn near perfect. But…

It’s not going to get worn. In fact, I’m not even going to take pictures in it.

I knew this fabric was all wrong and I should of listened myself. It hangs like a burlap sack on and is terribly uncomfortable. Strangely, I’m not bothered by this. I had so much fun making it up and learning how to sew the button placket that wearing it would have been a mere bonus. So onward and upward!

April 18, 2012

4. Bougainvillea

Pattern: Iris from Colette Patterns

Fabric: Red wool twill from the remnants bin at Stone Mountain Daughter Fabrics

Notions: Interfacing, invisible zipper, some scrap rayon for the pockets

Time to Complete:4 – 5 hours


I was pretty excited when I heard that Colette Patterns was releasing a shorts pattern for spring. I had it downloaded, printed, and assembled within hours of their announcement! Alright, so it doesn’t have a fly zipper but the shorts looked so cute on the model that I didn’t care. I’ll admit, when I first finished these I was a little underwhelmed. I don’t know what it was but they just didn’t thrill me. However, after wearing them for a day, I’m in love! They are so comfy but still flattering that I wouldn’t hesitate to make them again.

Once I had the pattern assembled, I went about choosing the size I would cut. In Colette world, I am a perfect size 10 below the waist (30 1/2″ waist and 40 1/2″ hip), however, the finished garment measurements were more important to me. The Iris shorts come with 1/2″ ease at the waist. I went to my closet and measured some of my favorite shorts with a higher rise and found that none of them cut it this close. Most had 1 1/2″ to 2″ of ease so I cut a size 12 (finished waist measurement was 32 1/2″). I was a little concerned that this would leave me with too much room in the hips but I figured that I could shave off some from this pair and then grade the pattern for later makes. In the end, this wasn’t necessary as the shorts fit almost perfectly!

Construction went so quickly! Over the course of a few days, I assembled these in small spurts. I figure it took me no more than 5 hours to cut and sew these shorts. I’m really happy with my sewing overall. I’ve struggled in the past to get a smooth waistband and this is probably the closest I’ve come. Everything will be perfect until I go to topstitch the facing down. When I finish the waistband warps and shifts and looks so terrible. There’s a little bit of wrinkling but nothing more than many of my RTW shorts. I think I may be finally gaining some finesse with fabric rather than torturing it!

I didn’t stray from the instructions too much on this project. However, I did try something new on the crotch seam. The instructions have you clip the curves before finishing the seam but, frankly, I’ve never seen a pair of RTW shorts with clipped seam allowances there. Once again, I went to my closet and pulled a pair of shorts out that have really lovely construction. I studied the way these were made and did the following:

  • I trimmed the seam allowance to 3/8″
  • Serged
  • Understitched to one side of the pants.

This worked perfectly! Sure, you can see a small row of stitching on the right side if you’re looking closely but it’s actually rather nice looking. The best thing is, the seam is perfect and there are no wrinkles around the curve. Now the seam is beautiful and stronger!

I also tried out a coverstitch for my hem. You heard me right – coverstitch. No, my little Singer serger doesn’t have the capability but my brand new serger does! I’ve been in the market for a new serger for a while now and I finally took the plunge this week. I’ll tell you more about it in a separate post but it’s been a game changer. I have seams on these shorts finished with my old one as well as the new and it is night and day. I’m left to wonder how it took me so long (alright, so not that long) to upgrade.

I know several of you are making these shorts right now. How’s your progress going?

March 30, 2012

Sew Weekly: Pantone

I don’t know about you but March has been one doozy of a month. Nothing bad – just a really busy month.  I’ve finally (on the last two days!) given in and accepted that I can’t keep up with it! This past week I was lucky enough to have my darling mom in town and we had such a great time hanging out together. I just put her on the shuttle to the airport and now I’m sitting in my quiet apartment looking out at the rain. It’s hard not to feel lonely after such a great visit!

If you didn’t catch it, the minty peplum blouse pictured above was featured on Sew Weekly yesterday! I’m so flattered! This is the charmeuse I mentioned last week and it’s the third (technically fourth) garment in my spring wardrobe challenge. I had originally picked up the fabric for another swingy tank top but at the last minute I thought it would work better as this peplum blouse. Jump on over to the post for more details on the construction.

I hope you all had a great week! Any fun plans for the weekend?

March 9, 2012

2. Magnolia

Pattern: Self drafted

Fabric: Wool blend gabardine and bemberg rayon from

Notions: 1 zipper and fusible interfacing

Time: An afternoon


I’ve been trying to decide what to call this color. Is it teal? Is it turquoise? I don’t know but I love it! I actually think it’s a seasonless color and I expect to be able wear this skirt long after spring has passed. The fabric’s color changes depending on the light – it’s more green in the shade and more blue in the sun – which made it rather difficult to find matching thread and zipper.

Speaking of fabric – this is probably the worst quality yardage I have ever worked with. It’s labeled as a wool/poly blend but at times it felt more like rattan. While working with it, it splintered, split, and shredded. It would stretch out of shape despite staystitching and it was so weak that I couldn’t even consider ripping out stitches.  I had my doubts as to whether it would look okay on but somehow it pulled itself together at the last-minute and made a great looking skirt. I have a feeling the bemberg lining had something to do with it. 

The skirt is self drafted. From my sloper, I dropped the waist and drafted a 2″ contoured waistband. I shortened the hem to the same height as my grey mini skirt (JCrew) and then drafted a lining with a jump pleat (also known as a bagged lining). All darts were removed making it a very straightforward sewing job. Once I had everything cut and interfaced, it came to together in less than an hour. If you’re looking for a similar pattern, try In House Pattern’s A New York Mini. The pattern as written is unlined but you could always add one if desired. 

Have you ever wondered what would happen if you installed a normal zipper as you would an invisible one? Seriously stupid maneuver. I had it in my head that I’d purchased an invisible zipper and couldn’t for the life of me figure out why I couldn’t stitch closer to the teeth. It wasn’t until I tried the thing on that I realized the head was facing the wrong way. That’s right, the pull is facing towards my body. Unfortunately the fabric was so frail there was no turning back and I’m just grateful that I can still zip it up this way. You can see the zipper tape just a hair but from far away it’s really not bad.

I couldn’t help but include a close up of my new shoes. Since my spring palette is so bold, I figured a pair of cream colored shoes would keep bright outfits from overwhelming me. I had my eyes on a different pair and went to Nordstrom’s to try them on but when I saw these Born’s I knew they were the ones.

Overall, I’m very happy with the outcome and I know I’ll be wearing this skirt all spring. I can’t wait to start pairing it with my spring blouses and tops!

March 7, 2012

1.5 Cherry Blossom

Pattern: Self drafted

Fabric: Tencel Jersey

Notions:  Fusi-knit tricot interfacing and some silk organza selvedge to stabilize the shoulders

Time: This went together so quickly that I don’t even remember making it.


If you recall, part of my wardrobe plan was a flared tank top made from a woven silk. I drafted a pattern and made a muslin a few weeks ago. The shoulders and upper bust were good but without a drapey fabric it was hard to get an idea of how the flare would fall. While working on another garment on Saturday I happened to spy the leftover yardage from my first top. Although, the pattern is intended for a woven fabric, I figured it would give me a good enough idea of how much flare I drafted in. And it did!

It’s a nice top and I’m happy with the amount of drape in the front. I used many of the same techniques as my last top although I substituted silk organza selvedge to stabilize the shoulder seams. I also forgot to remove the seam allowance from the neck and armholes for the binding method I used but it worked out just fine. What I’m most proud of though is my drafting for the back. When I’m standing straight, the back falls perfectly over my curves! When I make it from a woven fabric, I hope it looks just as beautiful.

March 1, 2012

1. Peach Blossom

Pattern: Self drafted

Fabric: Tencel jersey from

Notions: fusi-knit tricot interfacing, elastic tape to stabilize the shoulders

Sewing Time: 2 hours


I’ve never been a lover of spring, but this year I’m a convert. In the past two weeks every tree and bush has erupted in blossoms. Each day I find a new favorite – sometimes it’s the magnolia, sometimes it’s the cherry. Today, it’s the peach. All over my neighborhood there are branches of these blush red flowers. Up until this week we were having some phenomenal weather. Saturday was 78, if you can believe that. Unfortunately, I had to go and ruin it by cutting my first piece for my Spring Wardrobe Challenge. I kid you not, the very day that I cut this fabric it started to rain and the temperatures dipped to the more seasonal appropriate 50’s.

This pattern was my first attempt at drafting for knits so I referred to my school text on how to treat the darts and waist shaping on my sloper. My sloper has four darts in the front (shoulder, armhole, bust and waist) and two in the back (shoulder and waist) all of which needed to be taken out. After I had taken care of the darts and waist shaping, I altered the neckline and drafted the yoke and front gathering. All that was left was truing and adding seam allowances. I was surprised at how quickly it came together and was just sure that I had missed some critical step but in the end it all came together!

Since I had ordered much more fabric than I needed for a simple blouse, I decided not to make a muslin. If I had, I think the final garment would have come out much more professional but it’s still a good casual top. One thing I wish I could change is the gathering at the front yoke. I had never used gathering on a knit fabric but figured I could just treat it as I would a woven. I ran a few rows a basting through the fabric, gathered, and then serged it to the yoke. Unfortunately, the serger flattened the gathering and it’s more like random tucks than gathering. Can you recommend a better way to do this? I was thinking of sewing a straight stitch to secure  the basted and gathered piece before serging it.

I tried out two other techniques on this blouse. The first was to use clear elastic tape to stabilize the shoulders. At first I had trouble feeding the elastic in my serger but I learned that if you leave a tail coming out the back before you start it’s easier to handle. The second technique I tried was using fusible tricot interfacing to stabilize the neck and armholes for the binding. Wow! Did this ever make a difference. You may recall this dress from last fall – while I realize it could have been worse, I was really disappointed that the neck was so wavy after I had carefully followed the instructions for applying the binding. The interfacing solved this problem in a snap and was so easy to stitch into that I even used a single (rather than twin) sewing machine needle to stitch in the ditch. I’m curious to see if interfacing would do similar wonders on a hemline.

And can I just say that tencel jersey is amazing! Have you ever worked with it? When I first felt it, it reminded me a lot of modal. Both are types of rayon and I’ve been trying to understand the difference. Regardless, it’s incredibly soft, lightweight, drapes beautifully and has a lovely sheen to the fibers. I’m trying so hard not to drop all of my sewing plans and buy up the rest of this for pajamas. I would love a few pairs of straight legged drawstring pants and matching tank tops! Gahh – stupid self control. All the better reason to get cracking on my spring garments.


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