Commercial Pattern Review

Drape Drape3- no. 12 the Three-piece Gather Drape Wrap Dress

  It’s finally done!  Took me a month since I pushed it aside to work on Halloween costumes, but since that’s finished it was time to close out this project.

  Ok, now before anybody gives me a hard time about it, yes, I do wear pleather pants to play with my kids.  Can you name another fabric that wipes entirely clean with a wet paper towel?  Yeah, I didn’t think so.
  I love how this turned out.  I still say that whoever named this a “dress” is on crack, and that between the hip-high gather at the bottom and the open, none-too-high neckline, if you attempt to wear it without a top and some kind of leggings/shorts/pants underneath it, you’d best be trying to flash somebody.  That being said, the fit is really flattering and comfortable.
  As long as it took me, this wasn’t a hard piece to make (except for tracing the pattern of course).  I actually didn’t use my serger at all on this one, as there were only two or three seams I even could have used it for.  I almost exclusively used my sewing machine with a double needle.  I’m really pleased with how the edge finishing turned out.  It seems that a seam allowance of 1 cm, sewn with the double needle works absolutely perfectly to trap the unfinished edge underneath and make everything look exceptionally clean.
  You know the drill, if you have any questions about how I did any of this, let me know!  I’m always happy to help.
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McCall’s M6408, Tie-less version Completed

  The wrap for my mom is done…if not fully pressed.  Bad sewing blogger, no cookie…iron your work.
  As usual, this pattern has made me happy.  The boys have been keeping me on my toes…R started crawling last week and as such G is melting down every 15 minutes or so because his toys are no longer safe just because they’re out of arm’s reach.  That means far more time refereeing and less time sewing than usual.  Thankfully this is a quick piece to throw together.
  I mentioned last week that I’ve found the sleeves on the pattern to be a bit short.  I extended these when cutting and then checked my mom’s arm length before finishing them.  I’ve found that hand stitching the sleeve cuffs gives a much more elegant look to this, and especially with this being such a lightweight fabric, I didn’t want a big honkin line of machine stitching around the wrist.
  I did worry a little bit about how this was going to fall since it’s such a light fabric, but a nice, deep, 1″ hem weights it down enough to work.
  I still kind of want to try this pattern in a woven, just to see how it’d work.  I think it could make a darling robe if it were lengthened a bit and I think it has enough ease that it’d work just fine.  We’ll see if I ever get around to it…
  I’m guessing that after 3 incarnations you guys probably don’t have any questions about this, but if you do, let me know!

McCall’s M6408, Tie-less version in progress

  Guess what I’m making another one of…. oh yes, it’s another wrap.
  I don’t actually need another one (and ohholylord is that not MY color), but my mom went shopping recently and came home with a sweater.  A sweater that was exorbitantly expensive and rather familiar looking.  She liked it, but wasn’t sure she would wear it quite enough to justify the outlandish price tag, so she’d brought it over for my opinion.
  My opinion was: “Take it back.  Take it back NOW.  I already have the pattern AND the fabric to make you almost the exact same thing.”
  I’ve mentioned before that this pattern is a super fast sew.  I would have this piece done by now, but I had noticed that the piece my ma had bought was a bit shorter than this, and I’ve noticed that the pattern for the sleeves on this tends to be a touch short on some people, so I wanted her to try it on before I hemmed anything on it.  I need to bring the hem up the recommended 1″ and will hem the sleeves 1.25″ (I lengthened them when cutting) and will attach the shawl collar and it’ll be ready to go.
  This actually works out perfectly.  I bought this fabric years ago, knowing I’d use it for my mom (that pink is fabulous for her) and haven’t ever had a project that seemed quite right.  This will be a nice, versatile piece for her and I love that I’m able to make her something that otherwise she’d have had to spend stupid amounts of money on.  
  I’ll show you the finished product next week!

Yoked Top- McCall’s pattern M6288 Finally Finished!

  Hoo boy, I almost missed the deadline on this top AGAIN.  The neckline and armholes are all finished with binding and…well, I sorta am the suck with binding.  A lot of hand stitching wound up happening to fix portions where I didn’t quite catch the back portion of the binding strip.
  Then, once the top was finished, the weather gods decided to not play nice with me and rolled in some big, dark storm clouds that meant my usual spot for doing photos was dark as night.  So, behold!  New, busy backdrop…since my porch was the only place I could simultaneously get enough light that I actually showed up in the pictures and not get utterly drenched.
  So if you remember my photo from last week, you’ll know that this started out looking like a tent.  I used the same size 10 that I did for the raglan sleeved shirt, so in theory, this should have fit.  Mucking about with the fabric type is a part of the issue, but to get the fit I wound up with I had to take 3″ off each seam…for a total of 12″ circumference off of the waist.  The shoulders fit beautifully and I didn’t have to alter them at all, but ooph…
  Now for the back:
  I mentioned that I wound up having to make the back a different color because I didn’t have enough of the yellow…and originally I was a little disappointed about it, but honestly, I rather love how it turned out.
  To make sure it didn’t look utterly disjointed, I used bits of the yellow for details on the cream.  Instead of splitting the binding into matching colors I finished the entire way around the neck and arms using the mustard color.  I also flipped the facing for the keyhole around so it would show on the outside, instead of having it just finish the edge and be tucked inside.  I’m rather a lazy ne’er do well, so I omitted the button and loop at the top of the keyhole and just stitched them together using the binding.  The neck hole is plenty wide enough that a fastener isn’t actually necessary and I didn’t have any buttons that I particularly liked with the fabrics anyhow.
  So I sort of feel like it’s not particularly fair for me to review this portion of the pattern since I changed, well, pretty much everything.  Sure, I had to make massive alterations to make it fit, but I suspect that wouldn’t have been the case if I’d have been using fabric that were even remotely appropriate.  The directions that I chose to follow were clear enough and, even if some of the steps (*cough*French seams*cough*) seemed rather time consuming for an “easy” pattern, they weren’t difficult to follow.
  I love how this turned out…I’m just not entirely sure what I’m going to wear it for!  The silk I made it from was all scrap fabric, so it’s not like it’s “wasted” if I don’t wear it a ton, but with 2 small boys “dry clean only” isn’t high on the practicality list.  Ah well…maybe our next date night.

Raglan Sleeve Top- McCall’s pattern M6288

  Oh commercial patterns with the word “Easy” the envelope, how I love you.  Quick, simple projects that let me focus on detail technique and wardrobe building without the frustration of not having a completed piece for months thanks to my adorable little interruptions.  And, much like my adored wrap sweater, this one is liable to get made a million times.
  I actually put off buying this pattern for a really long time.  I liked it every time I flipped through the pattern books, but I was pretty sure that I mostly just liked it because the model is utterly gorgeous and the color they picked is especially flattering on her.
  Too bad I’m not a 6′ tall, leggy, Indian ballerina, huh?
  The usual $1 pattern sale rolled around again not too long ago though, and I finally decided I’d just give in and buy it.  There are worse things than spending $1 on a pattern that might not work out.
  Except it totally did work out.
  I love this top.  I made it out of leftover knit from my modified Adriadne top.  I will admit that it’s not super practical from a “get on the floor and play with the toddler while holding a baby” standpoint, cuz it is really low cut and stretchy (so R tends to yank it even further down) but oooh cute staple if you don’t mind flashing a bit of cleavage.  Besides, I can always throw a tank top underneath if I’m feeling especially modest.
  Since my bust measurement is all jacked up right now anyhow, I based my size off my waist and went with a 10.  It fits perfectly…hooray for finally picking the right size!
  I followed the pattern and instructions for this exactly.  That says to me, that for a normal length torso-ed person, this top would be crazy long.  It probably also means it would be too low cut.  I would highly recommend checking the neckline on yourself and considering modifying it before cutting into your fabric.  Aside from that, go wild.  This is a quick, easy top and it doesn’t take a whole lot of fabric.
  Expect to see more of these in the future…and probably other pieces from this pattern as well!

DrapeDrape2- no.2 one-piece side drape top

  I finished the top I started last week, and upon completing it I composed a letter to myself in my head.  It went like this:
Dear Erin,
You had a baby.  You are nursing said baby.  Your body isn’t the shape it normally is.  Please stop expecting clothing intended for gamine Japanese women to fit you correctly.
  Thank you,
Your Unusually Womanly Figure
  I don’t think it turned out badly, just not how I expected.  As I mentioned, I rather figured that the length would be a little awkward for a dress on me.  I was right about that, but I didn’t really notice just how flat chested the model in the picture was until I put mine on and couldn’t get it to drape anything like that.
Her:
Me:
  Hey look Ma!  I figured out how to look like a busty Victoria’s Secret model!  Stand next to that lady!
  The fabric I used isn’t ideal.  It’s a clearance knit I had in my stash, but it was one of the few 60″ widths I have left, and this piece needs one.  A softer, tshirt material in cotton would give much nicer, softer folds, but, eh.  I worked with what I had.
  There’s a little bit of gaping in the armholes, but I haven’t decided yet if it’s an issue I can fix by taking it in at the side seam, or, again, because I’m currently too busty for this design.
  If you decide you want to try this top out, piecing together the pattern is by far the hardest part.  Pay attention to the guide at the top of the pattern sheet that tells you which pieces you’re looking for.  This “one piece” pattern is broken into 3 pieces on the sheet and you need to line them up to create your pattern while tracing.  I found 2 originally and was confused as to why the grainline seemed so wrong…it was supposed to be on the third, middle piece that I’d ignored.  Way to go me.
  Once your pattern is cut out, you’re pretty much home free.  The construction for this was very straightforward, and unlike the folded shrug and two-way stole from ShapeShape, I would have no qualms about a beginner trying it out.  The most difficult portion is finishing the neck and armholes, for which I used the same binding process as I did for the Ariadne top.
  I’m not sure I’ll be getting a whole lot of wear out of this for a while.  It photographs nicely, but I sort of feel like a tank under a tablecloth wearing it right now.  We’ll see.
  I don’t know if I’ll get the chance to try out another piece in this book before it’s due back to the library, but I expect I’ll be checking it out again!

Simplicity Pattern 2246 (lisette), Traveler Dress, completed!

  Woo was it a close one on getting this dress done in time to post for this week.  Pretty sad since all I had left to do when I posted last Friday was attach the sleeves and do the buttonholes/buttons…but sheesh…two small children= no sewing time.  Who’d have thought, huh?

  Somehow I managed though and the dress is done!
  Please don’t mind the wrinkles…this picture was taken in a stolen few seconds when both boys were in bed (if not asleep) after an intense morning of pretending to ride and work on an imaginary train.  If they’d actually been sleeping I might have risked taking the time to iron it…but as it was, I didn’t even take the time to straighten out my skirt.  Hey, I don’t have any spit up in my hair, consider this “polished”.
  So it turned out really well…exceeeeept, it’s too small.  I mentioned last week that I’d picked my size by measuring a dress I already owned and then measuring the pattern pieces and that I was afraid it was going to be too snug across the bust.  I was right.  Luckily a tank top underneath and one more button undone solves that problem.  What I wasn’t expecting was how tight across the shoulders it was going to be.  I think perhaps the dress I measured may have had a yoke/pleat for the shoulders and, in my pregnancy induced fog, I didn’t think about the extra ease that would give me.  Ah well.  I’m bad at picking the right size pattern for myself.
  I really liked the look and styling of the dress in the original picture on the envelope, so, as you can see, I picked similar fabric to work with and more or less held to doing things the way I was “supposed to”.  But, as I got to putting the buttons on, things were starting to feel a little…staid to me.  A shirt dress is pretty classic…and a blue chambray shirt dress is even more so…so I was feeling a touch like I was making something that I could go to the store and buy off the rack.  Not what I wanted.  So I added this little touch to make it more “me”:
  I’m so glad I did…the neon green thread holding the buttons on has turned out to be my favorite part!
  So a few notes:
  All in all, this is a great pattern.  The directions are clear and they yield a very professional looking end result.  If you’re like me, like your clothes tight and so reflexively pick a size that’s 2 smaller than what the envelope tells you to, you may want to think twice about it.  I think I’ll probably make another version of this, but I’ll be making it larger.
  A few minor complaints:
  I really wish this had a pleat across the shoulders in the back.  This is something I find with a lot of women’s button down pieces.  I get it that we, the fairer sex, aren’t “supposed” to have linebacker shoulders, but some of us *points at self* do.  Part of the problem is that I chose to make a size that was too small for me…but I can’t lift my arms over my head in this without worrying I’m going to rip something.
  Another “Erin has a funny body” complaint: the lower pockets are a smidge too high on me.  Because I have such a long torso, when I belt this at my natural waist, unless I do a bit of tugging and fussing, the pockets wind up tucked under my belt.  When I make the next version I’ll probably move them down an inch or so.
  My only not-related-to-my-personal-fitting-issues complaint is the pockets themselves.  The directions have you sew them on with a “small triangle in the upper corners” to reinforce them.  The end result looks great, but renders the pockets more or less unusable.  The upper pockets are left with an opening 1 3/4″ wide and the bottom pockets offer only a meager 3 1/4″.  I have pretty small hands, but I certainly won’t be putting anything that doesn’t stick out of the tops of these pockets into them.
  The pattern includes a piece for a matching fabric belt, which I did cut out, but didn’t bother making once I realized what I’d cut.  In my experience, a rope or leather accent belt is more flattering than a matching, floppy fabric belt 9 times out of 10.  The stylist for their envelope picture clearly agrees with me.
  I’m really bummed that this turned out too snug.  I really am happy with it…so I’m probably going to keep wearing it anyhow.  It’s not impossibly small…just not as comfortable as it could be.  Hopefully that will get better as I keep shrinking back to my pre-pregnancy size.
  Now the question is, what should I sew next?

Two-Way Stole- ShapeShape (Japanese Sewing)

  Despite how challenging my first project from Natsuno Hiraiwa’s ShapeShape was, it didn’t take me long to dive back in and try another one!
  As I mentioned last week, I’m not going to attempt the projects in this book in “good” fabrics til I’ve done them once in a “practice” material from my stash, so this is my trial run, but I’m rather digging the nubby texture and rough-spun feel.  This fabric used to be a curtain!
  This is project number 10 from the book, the two-way stole.  There are actually two patterns for this, one for 45″ fabric and another for 60″.  This is the 45″ version.  I plan to do the 60″ with my pricey fabric, but the steps for construction are the same, so I figured any complications I’d have would arise in both versions.
  I commented on it with the Folded Shrug, but I’m really loving all the finishing techniques I’m being semi-forced to learn to complete these pieces.
  
  I already knew how to do flat-felled seams, but I tend to forget about them.  This was a great refresher and I’m feeling inspired to try and integrate them into some of my basic pieces (like pj pants for G and the like) to change up the look.
  I hadn’t done mitered corners before, and am really glad I know how now.  Look how gorgeous  they turned out!  I may have to do a tutorial in the future (when I’m a little more rested and capable of putting together sensical sentences) to show you guys how to do it.
  Again, like with the folded shrug, the fabric I chose to work with is not what is suggested by the book and lead to its own set of complications.  The finished edges on this piece are supposed to be much finer…much narrower, but because this is that wonderful, nubby, loosely woven fabric, I just wasn’t capable of turning an edge as narrow as I was supposed to…the fabric just shredded if I attempted it.  A thinner, crisp, easily ironed and creased material would be light years simpler to work with for this pattern.
  Comparatively, this project is a lot simpler to figure out than the folded shrug.  There isn’t any strange right-side to wrong-side matching up or anything, so the only challenges are completing the finishing techniques cleanly.
  As always, if you have questions, let me know!  I’ll do my best to help walk you through what I’ve done.

Finally! Completed Maternity Top with Sleeve Details

  Well, it took me almost a month, but the Megan Nielsen top I started way back in August is finally done:
  Took my freakin time about it, I know, but I actually used a lot of new techniques and figured out a few design elements that took forever.  All for a pretty simple top.  Silly me.
  This is the first finished garment I’ve actually used a double needle on.  I also had to figure out the logistics of adding the straps to draw the sleeves up…how long they needed to be, which side to add the D-rings to and how to add the “leather” details to them…
  I wound up using brown vinyl…because apparently I had blocked out the bad memory that was the summer I worked at a pontoon boat factory making seats.  Vinyl is evil, unforgiving material and if you can at all avoid working with it, I’d suggest you do.  Because it’s not made out of fibers and is just basically a plastic sheet, anywhere your needles goes in, you leave a hole.  That means there are no second chances.  Once you sew, you’re done.  Evil.  I wound up sewing on all the details by hand, something that the hat I’ve been working on has been good practice for, but is still not my favorite way to spend an afternoon.
  I have a couple of modifications I think I’ll be making to this yet…the sleeves are rather baggy, which I think I’ll be changing (my belly is going to be huge, my arms are not, might as well show off the parts of me that are still slim), but this is finally wearable.
  All in all I’m happy with how it has turned out and I think it’ll probably get a lot of wear once my belly actually fills it out.  As you can see, I’m not there yet, but if my pregnancy with G is any indication, give me another month, month and a half and I’m going to go from “mild college student beer gut” to “how many kids are in there anyhow?!?”
  The straps took me forever, like I said, but they weren’t hard once I figured them out, and I really like the detail they add.  Would anybody be interested in a tutorial of how I did them?
  New here?  Take a look around.  You can find my most recent projects here.  Only interested in sewing?  Those projects are here.