Sunday, March 26, 2017

A Border Print and The Easy Fit and Sew Twin Tee Set by J Stern Designs

I didn't know I needed a great Twin Tee Set in my life until I was a pattern tester for the newly released "Easy Fit and Sew Twin Tee Set" by Jennifer Stern.This is one of the best fitting (right out of the envelope) items I've sewn in a long time!

When Jennifer put a call out on her blog for pattern testers, I filled out the application, and didn't give it much more thought. Until she sent a note thanking me for volunteering to test and inviting me to join a group of about 15 other sewers on a private Facebook group as we tested the pattern.

Eeek!  Now I had to actually carve out some sewing time AND go to the fabric store for some knit fabric. 

Okay, going to the fabric store wasn't really a hardship.  I'm always up for a trip to SR Harris Fabric Outlet.

Oops! Looks like a few other bolts of fabric jumped into my cart as I was shopping for fabric for the Easy Fit and Sew Twin Tee Set! 
For the Twin Tee Set I settled on a lightweight sweater knit that is grey on both ends and taupe in the middle. It was on the remnant shelf at $4/yard.  I was able to find two remnants giving me almost enough fabric. 
The pattern I tested was a PDF.  Sigh. I really don't have the patience for PDF patterns.  Printing, trimming, lining up, taping, ripping off the tape because I taped it together wrong, re-taping.  Then after all that tracing the pattern. Personally I'd rather pay a bit more and have a printed pattern arrive in my mailbox.   And if you're like me, you're in luck as this one is also available in a print version.
The PDF pattern has layers so you can turn off the sizes you don't need (yay!) and only have lines for the sizes you want.

You're instructed to choose the pattern size by your full bust measurement.  I questioned whether I should really do that or choose using my high bust measurement and do a FBA (like I do for everything else).  Jennifer assured me she drafts with enough room in the bust that no FBA (full bust adjustment) would be needed. 

I'm going to be honest...I was VERY skeptical about no need to do a full bust adjustment. Even after Jennifer assured me it would not be needed.  I admitted my skepticism to Jennifer and went ahead and cut and sewed without any alterations.

Guess what? I should not have questioned the designer, LOL. It fits with no FBA.  I now have a new TNT Tee pattern!

The Tee can be sewn sleeveless, with short sleeves or with long sleeves. The cardi also has a shaped back hem option (the hemline curves up from the side seams to the center back, something I've seen recently in RTW). 

Because I had a limited amount of fabric, I had to add a center seam to the back of my Tee. The pattern is  not designed that way.  
 Fortunately the pattern in the fabric is busy enough that it's not too noticeable that it's not matched exactly.
Clear elastic was used to stabilize the shoulder seams.  The instructions suggest stay tape.
The neckline is finished with a narrow band, which is cut 2" shorter than the length of the neckline.  I used the gray from the border of the fabric for the neck band. 
I placed the taupe along the front edge of the cardi and the grey border along the side fronts.
The grey border was also used on the cardi sleeves. I placed the center of the sleeve along the edge where the grey and taupe met. 
The tee and cardi set was simple to sew, although I did have a bit of a challenge with the faux mitered corner on the front of the cardi.

The front edges of the cardi are finished with a 1-1/2"  strip of fabric. I used the grey portion of my fabric for the facings. Here's the view of the corner edge from the right side.

Here's the view of the same corner from the wrong side.  I had to add tiny hand stitches along the bottom to keep the faux mitered corner in place.  I'm not sure if it was my error or instructions error.  To be fair, I learn easier with video and photos than I do text and illustrations, so I'll try it again and see if it goes more smoothly next time around.
If you're not familiar with J Stern Designs, I encourage you to check out this Twin Tee pattern  on her website where she also includes many of the photos from the pattern testers so you'll be able to see a wide variety of fabric samples and body types.

I'm really pleased with the fit of the tee and cardi, and thrilled that Jennifer let me be a pattern tester. I'm now sold on her patterns and plan on trying the Easy Fit and Sew Raglan Sleeve Top next. 

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Saturday, March 04, 2017

Vogue 8670: A Basic Black Top with a Touch of Faux Leather

Basic black. Mock turtleneck. Raglan sleeves.  Sounds a bit bland doesn't it? Perhaps. But it's just what was lacking in my winter wardrobe. 
However, the added design detail of a right-side button closure and contrast faux leather cuffs kicks it up a notch. 
The textured knit was in a Fabric Mart Fabrics bundle I had received free with purchase during one of their fabric sales.

The pattern is Vogue 8670 (c. 2010).  I've sewn it a few times, and have it altered to fit thus the handwritten "Keep | FBA" note to myself.  Otherwise I'd likely toss the pattern during one of my "I have too much sewing stuff" phases!  The darts are the reason I originally choose this pattern as I find it  quicker to do an FBA when there is an existing dart on the pattern.
That button closure along the right-side?  It's functional.  But it could simply be decorative if you only wanted to sew on buttons versus creating the placket.   The top can be slipped on without undoing the buttons.
While I would have preferred long sleeves (hello? Minnesota winters!) there was only enough fabric for the 3/4 version, even with the addition of the faux leather cuffs. I discovered I didn't wear this nearly as much as I thought I would because the sleeves weren't full length.  Whenever I wore the top I ended up turning those cuffs up making them even narrower. I may remove the cuffs and just make the bottom portion of the sleeves faux leather. 
This was the third time I've used the pattern, so I guess I would consider it one of my TNT patterns.  I certainly plan on sewing more! 

P.S. the ground is not currently covered in snow. These pics were taken in November 2016, right after I sewed the top. Pin It

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Butterick 5927: The Red Reptile Jacket aka the Late Jungle January Entry

I had every intention of stitching this as part of Pretty Grievances' annual Jungle January, but you know the saying about best laid plans...  Besides, if I had finished it in January the pictures would have been taken before I had a mid-winter tan from spending a week on the beach in Florida!

I started the jacket on Jan. 13 (per my Instagram pic) and finished it Feb. 19 (also per my Instagram).  Not because this jacket  is difficult to sew, but because life got busy.  

Let's talk about this FABULOUS fabric!  I purchased the fabric online from Emma One Sock in January 2014.  Described as "This smart and stylish brocade from Nicole Miller is fabulous (much more so in real life)! It's a medium-to-heavier suiting-weight, a tightly woven jacquard weave with a reflective sheen, and a reptile design in an iridescent weave of red and purple." She wasn't kidding - the fabric looks amazing in real life (and is very hard to photograph). 
The jacket is view C from Butterick 5927.  I made a few alterations to the jacket pattern:  a 3/4" FBA (Full Bust Adjustment), lowered the bust point 1/2", a small forward should adjustment, and a small sway back adjustment.

The front facing is interfaced, per the pattern instructions, and I also added interfacing along the front edge (where the zipper is inserted) as well as the upper back. In retrospect, I also should have interfaced the jacket and sleeve hem edges. I used Pro-Weft Supreme Light interfacing (from Fashion Sewing Supply). 

The pattern calls for an 18" separating zipper. I had a 20" on hand, and since I hate to shorten zippers I added 2" to the length of the jacket.   Except I forgot to do that to the pattern and I had everything cut out before I remembered. Oops!  

So I cut strips on the cross grain (so I would haven't match the pattern) to get the length I needed. 

The jacket pattern is rated "easy" and I agree with the rating - if you don't follow the pattern instructions.  I thought some of the instructions were odd, like adding the lining and then inserting the zipper into the turned under front opening and facing edges. I stitched my zipper (see blue line below) to the jacket before adding the lining, tapering the top of the zipper tape so it would be hidden inside the seam.

The instructions for the lining included a lot of handsewing so I pulled a book from my sewing library "Easy Guide to Sewing Linings" by Connie Long to help me remember how to bag the lining. It always looks so funny when you stitch the jacket and lining sleeve hems together!
I also drafted a center back neck facing as I didn't want the lining to go all the way to the neck edge.

I knew the shape of this jacket would be boxy, but as I tried it on during the construction process I was pretty disappointed with how it was looking.

I changed a few things as I sewed the jacket to help with the fit. The sleeves!  Ugh. They were so wide and unflattering.  I had to shorten them (which is not an unusual alteration for me, but these seemed really long) and narrow them from the elbow to the wrist.

To help give more shape in the shoulder area, I added a sleeve head by cutting batting 1-1/2" wide. I measured from the armhole front notch to back notch for the length. Then I hand stitched it in place in the seam allowance.  I also added the 1/4" shoulder pad (which the pattern lists as optional).
I took the jacket in about an inch on the side seams starting right below the bust dart. It's still boxy, but not so boxy that it looks sloppy.
You can't really see it in this FABULOUS fabric, but there are pockets in the center front princess seams.
I did eliminate the topstitching along the neck edge, front zipper edge and hem. 

I'm very pleased with the final jacket. You know it's a winner when the first time you wear it you receive multiple compliments!
Would I sew another? Nope!  Well, maybe. After all, I now have the fit issues resolved. You'll just have to stay tuned and find out.

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Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Statement Sleeves: Style Arc's Harlow Top

Statement Sleeves.  They're back! I fell in love with bell sleeves many, many years ago, and I was thrilled to see this trend return.
That's why I immediately ordered Style Arc's Harlow Top as soon as it was released (Oct 1), waiting oh so impatiently for my pattern to arrive from Australia.

The recommended fabrics are linen, cotton, crepe and silk.  And I used a ponte knit.

I didn't intend to sew this from a ponte knit, but I had purchased a half yard of this laser cut fabric about a year ago intending to use it on a pencil skirt.  That never happened and when my pattern arrived I thought the laser cut fabric would work beautifully for the split bell sleeve on the top. 
Off to SR Harris I went to look for navy fabric and I liked the color and feel of this ponte knit.  The cold weather may have had something to do with my decision as I wanted something that felt warm!   As an added bonus, I found it on the $4/yard remnant table.
When I sewed the two fabrics together, I had a brief moment of wondering if the laser cut fabric was actually black instead of navy.   In my Instagram photo it does appear darker.  But then I remembered this fabric had a small tag on it that stated "navy".
Construction of the top is simple and the instructions include a diagram to help you visualize the construction order.  The neckline is finished with a facing. There is a keyhole opening in the back with a button and loop closure. I added a thread loop instead of fabric loop. 
If I sewed this again using a knit, I would eliminate the facing and add a binding. The neckline is wide enough to fit over my head without using the button and loop.  I also had to topstitch the facing around the neckline to get it to stay in place.

The body of the top has a slight A-shape and the back is a little longer than the front.
The only alteration I did was an FBA (full bust adjustment). 

Unfortunately, the top is just a wee-bit too large for me in the shoulder/neck area.  That's why you're only seeing it on my dress form. I probably should have started with smaller size and did the FBA.  That's the one draw back about ordering directly from Style Arc.  You order and receive only one size.  (The patterns available on Amazon are nested so you can trace the size you need.)  I could wear it, but my daughter has broader shoulders than I do and I think this would look great on her! 
Harlow Top image from

When I was at SR Harris I also purchased some silk charmeuse with plans for another Harlow Top. So stay tuned!

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Sunday, October 23, 2016

Snake Print Demin With a Touch of Gold: Burda 12-2014-116 Skirt

"I like that skirt. It looks like leather," said hubby when I asked if he'd mind taking a few photos for me.

What?!?  Who are you and what did you do with my hubby?  He only likes it when I sew "normal" clothes, meaning nothing too flashy or attention getting.  

There is nothing spectacular about the design lines of this skirt.  It's simply a straight skirt, with two back darts, a side zip, and a side front seam with a slit. The fun snake print denim fabric is what adds a bit of spunk to the skirt.

Yea, it's a snake print denim. And it has metallic accents. And from a distance I think it does kind of looks like leather.  It's from the dearly departed Hancock Fabrics. (I'm still sad...)

I've paired it here with my Style Arc Cold Shoulder black tee.

The skirt is from the Burda Style December 2014 magazine.  
Supposedly that slit is thigh-high, but it only hits slightly above my knee. And my skirt is quite a bit longer than the one the model is wearing. Obviously I'll need to make an adjustment and shorten this if I sew another.  And stand with my weight shifted and my hip out so everyone can tell there actually is a side slit.
I sewed the skirt last February, tried it on, pinned the hem and tucked it away to hem another day.  I guess after eight months it was time.  The good news is that the skirt is now complete. The bad (well, good actually!) is that I've dropped a few pounds and the skirt needs to be taken in as its designed for a closer fit.

If you follow me on Instagram (sharonmads) you may remember when I posted a pic of the fabric and exposed zipper pinned in place.
It was a just little detail to spice up a plain skirt.  The color match is so good you can barely see the exposed zipper.  Oh, look! There's that side front slit I told you was there!
The skirt is fully lined since the version in the magazine is designed for lace.  I ended up chopping the lining off above the slit because the fabric really didn't need to be lined. It does finish off the waistline though (which I stabilized since there is no waistband.)
I tried to get my hubby to do more of a fashion picture with me and this was the best out of the dozens we tried.  I look even more awkward that I feel, ha! ha!  Good thing I never considered modeling as a career.
When we take pics for the blog, many of them up like the one below.  Mainly because he takes pictures of me in the process of trying to pose, and I'm usually making some ridiculously funny face while standing in an incredibly unflattering pose. (I know, I know, I'm shallow. I want to look decent when I post pics for the world to see.)  Secretly I think it's his way of saying "go buy a remote control for the camera and let me watch football."
Anyway, back to the skirt.  Burda 12-2014, #116, pencil skirt with slit.  Easy to sew, fun to wear, hubby approved.

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