Ube Adrienne

Because I like to sew repeat, practical garments in workaday fabrics, I don’t take too many chances to stretch my sewing skills. I’ve lately been craving some skill building though so I think this will appear in two ways: first, more finicky fabrics; and second, using the little grey cells instead of a pattern. Basically, when I see a garment that I probably could work out on my own or cobble together from already-owned patterns, I want to at least give that the ol’ college try instead of defaulting to buying. This is a fancy way to say: I’ve started copying stuff.

My not-a-Field bag was the gateway to the slippery slope of the domino effect (actual purchasable pattern found here). Next and now, my not-an-Adrienne blouse (real deal found here)! A.k.a. an Adrian top???

I scrolled by this pattern any number of times without feeling particularly tempted until I saw it on Crafty Clyde. She dresses with a quirky, sassy edge and I thought if she was feeling good in it maybe it didn’t have to be straightforwardly romantic.

I also thought this was a good candidate to copy because everyone mentions it has just the two pattern pieces – the identical front/back and the sleeve. And since it’s an untailored stretchy sleeve I could probably make the sleeve and the body symmetrical, so that’s two *half* pieces! Surely I could come up with two half pieces! I didn’t know if I would like it, but I really wanted to see if I could do it.

I studied the finished top and it suddenly clicked that the Adrienne is a raglan tee with extra pizzazz. Oddly, I don’t own a fitted raglan top pattern, just a loose one. But I preferred a fitted body to balance the big sleeves, so I went poking around the internet and found a couple free ones – Life Sew Savory and It’s Always Autumn both look pretty good. Actually though I followed the It’s Always Autumn DIY raglan directions to modify my CC Nettie pattern. I don’t know what size this ended up being, but it has 2” of negative ease at the bust and 1” of negative ease at the hip, which I find fitted but comfortable.

I gave the sleeve vertical side seams and a horizontal bottom edge because it wouldn’t need to fit anywhere but the shoulder. Basically the sleeve piece is a box with a sleeve cap on top.

There was a hot second about a year ago where I thought I might want to wear more off-the-shoulder stuff. I never saw that through, but I remembered this tutorial, also for the Nettie. I followed that to trim the top of my pieces off. I love that it left my sleeve with a flat top edge to make an elastic casing easy to fold and sew, while I added a barely-scooped curve to the body neckline to mimic what I saw on the real pattern.

Because the sleeve was now basically a rectangle with bites taken out of two corners, it was simple to split it vertically and add a bunch of width. The final sleeve piece I made is about 20” wide by 18” long at its most extreme dimensions. Unfortunately this places the finished sleeve bottom edge annoyingly right in the crook of my elbow. I thought it was going to land a few inches above my wrist; the only reason I can think of for my confusion is that the flat top edge tricked me into judging its length as though it were a dropped sleeve, which it really isn’t!

Next time I would increase the length by a good 5” or 6”, and the width by maybe 2”. It’s as easy as extending straight lines.

Both top and bottom of the sleeve are simply folded over once at ¾” and sewn with a straight stitch at 5/8” to make casings. I used ½” elastic. I cut each shoulder elastic to 8”, but pulled out some on either side to make it easier to tack in place; the finished length is probably more like 7”, which feels pretty good to me. I cut my sleeve elastic at 11”, based on the measurement of my forearm, where the sleeve…isn’t. Looser would have been better at the elbow, but it’s not too tight to be comfortable. Just a little annoying!

I considered cutting a single casing to go across the shoulders, front, and back, à la the linked Nettie tutorial, but I thought the shoulders might end up at a right angle to the front and back necks and I didn’t want bunching (plus I was copy-catting), so I banded the front and back separately.

I think my bands are a little too skinny. I should have aimed for a finished width of 5/8” so the neck and shoulder stitching would feel more continuous. The back band (or what I decided would forever be the back band) wanted to flip, so I popped a little topstitching right in the center to discourage it.

The fabric is a simple no-name cotton jersey from Sewfisticated – I thought it was grey in the store but it’s definitely chromatic. Since I don’t really like purple (which some folks might say this is. Who’s saying that?!) I’m calling it ube peel! It was easy and cooperative to sew; they stock it in a couple colors, and I would happily buy it again, especially at $5.00/yard. I bought 1.5 yards and have 1/3 yard remaining. Kind of an awkward scrap. I might have to start sewing underwear. Phooey.

My finished top doesn’t have all the glamour and personality of the original, but I like it! I might make another one with more sleeve! This is probably one of those cases where a positive sewing experience is influencing my feelings about the final garment, too – it just felt good to stretch my figuring-out muscles, and I want to do more of that. I’m never giving up my pattern collection though. You can bury me with it. I mean, if it’s good enough for Pharaohs…

See you soon!

Pattern: copycatted Adrienne blouse

Pattern cost: NA

Size: 34” bust, 43” hip

Supplies: 1 1/2 yards of 95% cotton/5% Lycra, Sewfiscated, $7.49; packet of ½” elastic, Sewfisticated, $2.49

Total time: 2.75 hours

Total cost: $9.98

Ivory Patina

As per my plan, I’ve made the short-sleeve view of the Friday Pattern Company Patina blouse.

But this isn’t the slubby rich recycled mahogany silk I had my eye on at all! It’s old rayon!

Ah, old rayon. As shifty as new rayon, but with that classic I-lived-in-your-scrap-box-for-four-years flavor. We’re still without a washer; I was fine casually pre-washing my first Patina blouse’s poplin in the bathroom but my respect for silk might cross the line into fear of silk, and I just couldn’t see myself throwing it into the tub and hoping for the best. So I raided my scraps for something! Anything! pre-washed to sew, which is how I ended up using such an unfavorite fabric here (the unfavorite-ness is also why the scraps have lasted this long).  

This was made from two different rayons – one length was leftover from a blouse I made from fabric purchased at Walthamstow in 2017, and the other length *may* have come from a fabric swap around the same time. They’re not a perfect match, but they’re not bad. The yoke and the undercollar are a slightly brighter shade of ivory, but I can live with that, especially for the price tag (my favorite, the bubble).  

I’d mentioned wanting to take pictures of an alternate facing/yoke construction, but in white fabric without an obvious wrong side, that seemed like a fool’s quest. Luckily it turns out Peter of Male Pattern Boldness has already done it! The neckline of the Negroni shown there is a different shape, but it’s the exact same technique. Here’s the first part, assembling the shirt body and inner yoke/facing unit; and the second part, putting it all together with some very fun and satisfying burrito sewing. I left the small part that I couldn’t sew by machine unsewn, so you can see how small it really is.

See that fingertip-sized gap next to the facing/yoke seam? That’s it.

And using this technique means no visible topstitching on the yoke, though it’s ordinarily covered by the collar anyway.

I absolutely prefer this method. It’s easy to reshape the facing pattern piece, too; just overlay with the shirt front and trim as shown, below.

That little leftover can go right into the recycle bin. Huzzah.

This is the ‘lowered neckline’ variation, 1” lower than the standard draft. I find this depth a little more becoming than the standard. The pattern also has instructions for lowering another inch, or raising the ‘v’ neck higher, but this is about right for me. The collar is wobbly though! Oh woe! It’s not the draft, it’s the rayon. I interlined it with white linen, but that was shifty and grow-y too, and even though I moved the collar pieces carefully and sewed them first, the long outer curved edge stretched out pretty badly.

There was a ruffly clown-collar vibe to the finished shirt. Based on hope, not science, I plugged in my iron and chuffed steam at the collar in hopes of shrinking the edge. I don’t use the chuffer often though so I actually just sprayed the whole thing with surprise brown spots. WHAT FUN. Since a new washing machine didn’t magically appear as soon as I flavor-blasted a white shirt, I stuck it under a cold shower with some dish soap then threw it in the dryer. And, um, something along the line there worked, because the collar is definitely improved. I feel like a very lucky bunny.

The dart is a little low. Also, I realize now, the tip needs pressing. Next time my ironing board is out I’ll gather my courage, roll up a towel, and go for it.

I forgot to take pictures of my first version untucked, but here’s some of this one. Wrinkly, because my go-to is tucking in, and also because I’m tireless in my quest for gritty realism or something. The untucked silhouette is actually not too godawful!

I’m feeling good; I got to sew, and I got some aged fabric into use, even though it was kind of a pain in my neck. The rayon really can’t support the weight of the collar that well, even with my interfaced v-neckline, but it does gather nicely. And you can’t go too far wrong with a white blouse! After all that monkey business with the steam, I like it. It’s a bit everyday-pirate, but that’s not necessarily a problem.

If I kind of blur my eyes and blend the collar into the shirt, the Patina looks like a decent plain v-neck woven blouse base. I bought it for its slight costume-y elements, but I might keep making it for relentlessly sensible reasons. Two steps forward, one step back!

We took these pictures on an unseasonably warm day in November, by the way – it feels like another universe now. I don’t do much Christmas-specific sewing, but Christmas BAKING is very much on. Cinnamon & chocolate! See you soon!

Pattern: Friday Pattern Company Patina blouse

Pattern cost: NA

Size: M, lower neckline

Supplies: scraps of rayon, from stash; thread, Michael’s, $2.39

Total time: 5.5 hours

Total cost: $2.39

Common Quail

Heyyy, I actually sewed a new pattern while it was still new! I really enjoyed dressing as a vaguely interwar pseudo-intellectual for Halloween, to the point where I’ve decided to start layering some more vintage-inspired pieces into my wardrobe. When I saw the Friday Pattern Company Patina blouse I pretty much went “that’ll work!” and mashed the buy button.

This was my first time sewing a Friday Pattern Company pattern. You’d have to force me kicking and screaming into their breakout hit gown but I’ve only heard good things in general. I was surprised, though, that this pattern used 3/8” seam allowances throughout, since this is a blouse that calls for fine lightweight fabrics. I added ¼” to the side seams and shoulder seams, so I could French seam those later, but otherwise cut a straight size M.

Right off the bat I was impressed by the accuracy of the fabric requirements! I like that it didn’t overspend my money or generate much waste. I needed every inch, as in I had about a fingernail-clipping’s worth of excess length after laying out all my pieces. The layout would have been a little more flexible if I hadn’t increased the seam allowance, but no regrets. My only scraps are funny shapes and sizes. I spent more than I intended to on fabric, by the way; I went looking for quilting cotton to make a wearable muslin before investing in cotton lawn, and came home with this gorgeous organic poplin. Oops not oops.

Ch-ch-changes: I staystitched the front neck as directed, but also applied this tricot interfacing along the edge. I wanted to make sure it would support the weight of the collar. I’m in love with that 1” roll; it makes it so much easier to do the right thing.    

However, instead of using interfacing in the collar, I cut another layer of fabric from my scraps. I pinned it to the wrong side of the top collar and treated them as one piece until it was attached to the bottom collar. Then I trimmed the extra layer of fabric ‘interfacing’ to right beside the stitching line. When turning right-side-out, that teeny-tiny overhang of fabric helps push the seam to roll to the underside. That’s my theory, anyway. 

By the way, I placed the cost of my free-floating button purchase on this make, because I ended up really liking them together. These are the same buttons that saved my bacon when mending my Halloween skirt. I’m learning all the wrong lessons about buying notions without a plan!

I also removed about 5/8” of fullness from the sleeve at the front shoulder.

Doesn’t that sound wonderfully deliberate and official? Actually what happened is that I traced the sleeve piece the same way twice, but luckily caught my mistake before cutting. I retraced one of them flipped over and was still congratulating myself on my perspicacity when I cut on my new line to the shoulder point and on my old line away from the shoulder point. Yeeks. I noticed before I got to the single front notch, so I was able to compensate slightly, and my mess-up would (hopefully) be hidden in the gathers. I cut the second sleeve the same wrong way because I thought it was important that they match.

It’s a full sleeve, so it’s still perfectly comfortable to wear, but if it looks off at all that’s why. I can’t really tell. There’s one strange function of this shirt which is that my sufficiently long, loose sleeves ride up to my elbows at the slightest movement; possibly because of my front shoulder ‘adjustment’?

Also, the universe decided I should eat my words on the subject of continuously bound plackets, since this pattern calls for them. Plus I don’t mind not doing a thing, but I don’t like feeling like I can’t do a thing.

I was a little confused by the official directions, which tell you to press under both edges of the bias piece, but then only show one edge pressed, so I turned to the internet. I followed this Sewaholic tutorial and uhhh…I think I made this kind of placket into a boogeyman. At least in crisp, stable cotton, they’re actually fine.

I think I even have them opening the right way (50/50 chance)! I’m calling that a win!

In general the way the directions are expressed and the accompanying illustrations are good and clear and easy to follow. (The encouraging clip-art on the pattern pieces gave me a jolt though. “WHAT IS THAT PATTERN PIECE FOR?! Oh it’s a cartoon sewing machine.”) However, I sometimes disagree with what the directions actually say to do. Most notably, I hate the facing finish on the back neck. It’s hard to sew well and I firmly believe there’s a better way. If/when I sew another Patina blouse I want to try using the Negroni directions, which join the front facings to the inner back yoke. I’ll try to take pictures if I do.

The drafting, however, seems spot-on. My collar is sitting a little higher than the sample because I thought I was sooo smart and I understitched the curved part of the neckline seam, instead of just the straight vertical parts as directed, so it’s being tugged up a little. But the collar still curves really nicely. And most impressively to my mind, this shirt stays put! I can raise my arm parallel to the floor before the hem even starts to rise. And the neckline doesn’t budge. It doesn’t gape at the back, it doesn’t pull to the front. It parks! I’m impressed. 

I’m not really sure what era this top hails from, style-wise – the 70s do the 30s? But I dig it. I wouldn’t mind giving that deeper neckline a whirl. There’s some $$$ recycled silk I’ve had my eye on for a while, and though I don’t think I’m owed a new holiday outfit every year, it would be pretty ideal.

I’ve been making fewer items this year, so while my cost-per-item is definitely up (gosh this blouse cost a bit), my overall spending is down. Which sounds like a possible excuse for silk to me…

Pattern: Friday Pattern Company Patina blouse

Pattern cost: $11.20

Size: M

Supplies: 2.25 yards of Charley Harper organic poplin in Sierra Range, California Quail, Gather Here, $37.15; buttons, Etsy; thread, Michael’s, $11.86

Total time: 8.75 hours

Total cost: $60.21

Pink Ice Cream

After years of min-maxing my sewing stats, it’s not totally surprising that I like most of the pants I sew, while shirts are hit and miss. This one is a wearable miss. It checks off the essentials; it is a shirt, I think it’s reasonably well-made, I like the fabric, it fits my body. But if my list of its qualities starts with ‘it is a shirt’ you can probably tell it’s not a love match.  

This is a Seamwork Natalie blouse which in retrospect I shouldn’t have sized up. Alternatively, I should have sized up way, way more. This is a 12, one size up from my recommended 10, and instead of feeling breezy and effortless it’s just a bit big. Camp collars, y’all. I was aiming for safari style; I landed in the service sector. I’m basically dressed as the top 50% of the waitress in this Bleachers video (the irony being that I’d rather dress like Jack Antonoff and I have nobody to blame but myself!!).    

I only made tiny changes to the pattern, by adding a pocket and straightening the sleeve hems. I also used cream quilting cotton instead of interfacing. I’m not convinced I’ve been attaching interfacing well enough, as I’ve had some bubbling in the wash lately, and since most of the facing is freely moving within the shirt, I didn’t want to risk it. It made the facing a bit thick and independent-minded – hopefully it’ll get washed and worn into submission. I invisibly tacked down each side underneath the centermost corner of the pockets, but they still have occasional fits of exuberance and try to roll free. No. Stop it. Conform.

 I almost ditched the chest pockets halfway through. They kept squashing out of shape regardless of staystitching, pressing, etc., so the only iron-on interfacing is on the back of the pockets, with the seam allowances removed, to keep them on the rectangular-and-symmetrical path. It was that or throw them in the scrap box. Even though I’m not convinced they add much, I grudgingly allow that they are not too bulky, despite the double-folded box pleat at the top hem. Originally I planned to place the pleat intake on the inside but I was worried that any deep breaths would make it look like my boobs were talking and/or blinking. Nightmare averted?

I borrowed the pocket placement from my Sewaholic Granville pattern. I was surprised to see it didn’t cover the Natalie dart end – the Granville dart extends further – but for once my bust darts seem to be pointing in the right direction, and I wasn’t going to rock the boat.

I edgestitched the facings but found my stitching line upsettingly wobbly (this fabric was happy to meet an iron and it eased nicely, but it was squishier than most cotton/linens, not to mention it frayed like a sonofagun – actually, it was kind of a hot jerk) so I unpicked that sewing and replaced it with short horizontal lines.

In a partially-successful attempt to keep the facing at the back neck in place, I added a little stitched box where the collar would hide it.

You can see the fabric pretty well there; it’s a new-to-me version of Kaufman’s cotton/linen, Essex Speckled Yarn Dyed. It’s a pretty icy pink and I love speckles, but I mostly bought it because I pointed it out to Professor Boyfriend at the store and said “Look! Pink ice cream!” before realizing the actual name was “Gelato”. It was destiny. “Pink ice cream” is a reference to a monumental temper tantrum I had at age three. I screamed for ice cream for hours, one for each year of my life (I got it, too – I tell my students this story with the moral “if you scream long enough…”). As near as I can guess pink ice cream was strawberry, which continues to be one of my favorite-ever flavors, so there yah go.

I had a heck of a time choosing buttons for it; dark buttons looked objectively nice but the high contrast kind of summoned a Pink Lady energy, mother-of-pearl was too feminine for me, the wood option was too big, etc.. I bought these buttons, unsure if I would use them but convinced I just needed to get something, to add a little chocolate and vanilla to the strawberry ice cream – Neapolitan buttons.

This is a reasonably breezy blend but eh. I did not achieve the summer safari sensation I wanted. I’ve mostly been wearing this blouse open over a tank for sun protection, but I’m just unenthusiastic! I know some people lose interest in dressing for fun in winter, but that’s me in summer. I don’t have a ‘character’ for summer, just a repeatedly thwarted urge to pass myself off as an extra in The Mummy. If you’ve got a go-to pattern for breezy summer button-ups, I’d love to see it.

Stay hydrated, Northern Hemisphere! Southern Hemisphere – you have my envy.

Pattern: Seamwork Natalie

Pattern cost: NA

Size: 12

Supplies: 2 yards of Essex Speckled Yarn Dyed Gelato cotton/linen, $26.96, Gather Here; buttons, Gather Here, $4.20; thread, Michael’s, $2.39

Total time: 7.5 hours

Total cost: $32.55

Roscoe Rescue

A while back I made a True Bias Roscoe blouse from some lovely hemp/tencel shirting. I added sleeve slits in the style of the neck slit, but eventually the “V” corners of all three burst into frayed, thread-y chaos. I unpicked the shirt and saved the fabric, and it sat in my scrap box, untouched, until recently. Then I had an epiphany. What’s the most efficient use of the fabric salvaged from a Roscoe blouse? Ta-da: another, trivially smaller Roscoe blouse!   

This is truly a beginner-friendly pattern. Straightforward to fit, cut, and sew, and I can pretty much guarantee it won’t warp out of shape, or if it does it doesn’t matter (these pieces got HANDLED). My original was sewn with French seams, which I had trimmed. I lost about ¼” per seam – 1/8” each from the raglan sleeve and front bodice on the right side, same on the left, and so on – but I wasn’t concerned about reducing the circumference by an inch or so.

It’s still not small! I’m pretty sure I started at the smallest available size, too. I should have sewn something between a 6 and an 8, based on my chest measurement, but this is probably a -1, and it’s fine.

Because of the simple shape and the loose cut, my remake differs from its parent blouse in only one obvious way – the sleeve length.

I cut above my frayed sleeve slits, following the curve at the end of the sleeve pattern. I then had 4 pieces of useable scrap fabric, each half as wide as one sleeve and about 6” tall, to cut everything I needed. The original cuffs and bindings sadly hadn’t survived unpicking. So, from scraps, that’s:

  1. Sleeve cuffs. Mine are pieced (once on the left, twice on the right), and about 3” longer than drafted. My new sleeve hem hit right about at my elbow and I needed room to bend, so the sleeves are also less gathered.
  2. A neck binding – for best results, cut on, ahem, the true bias. Mine is more like 60°.
  3. A neck facing, which I made longer and wider than the pattern called for. Longer was a necessity – I had to sew past where my first slit had frayed. Wider was a choice – I found it easier to press and sew.

I had some cotton lawn in an almost identical color on standby but I just squeaked out everything I needed!

The only sewing challenge was facing the neck with the slit already slit…ted. Slitted. Slite? I whip-stitched it shut and added a small square of interfacing over my new “cut to here” point, something I had failed to do the first time. I should have interfaced the facing piece, too, but I forgot! I sewed with the shirt side up, pivoting 1” past the original cut point, and then treated it exactly as usual.

It’s deeper and wider than the original draft but I’ve got the space! As per Shakira, you’re not going to confuse dem thangs with mountains.

The neck binding doesn’t curve as smoothly as should if it were cut at 45°, but I worked with what I had. I hand-sewed the second edge of it and of the sleeve cuffs; the gathering conceals my stitches that strayed through the outer fabric. Thanks, gathers, you’re a pal. I don’t like sewing you (I JUST DON’T) but I like wearing you just fine!

I miss the full pirate glamour of the longer sleeves but a wearable blouse is better than none. And fun fact: the sleeve cuffs are a little bulky, because the sleeves are hemmed inside. They’re actually baby-hemmed because I thought I would skip the gathering for a different silhouette, but I later changed my mind, and just gathered the hemmed ends and shoved them into cuffs. It’s a completely reversible decision. Secret baby hems! I never actually unpicked the shirt’s original baby hem either, so I got to salvage that from my first version, whoop whoop!

I recently read an old detective novel where a dame is described as cool and sweet and remote. That may be my color palette here, but I am actively sweating in all of these pictures, more than a little. The Roscoe is a great summer blouse because a) it doesn’t cling to my human Gatorade and b) it reduces my need for sunscreen, especially on hard-to-reach wing meat.

I’m so glad I was able to reuse this fabric! It’s cooperative, opaque, drapey, and soft as buttah. And I love moving fabric from my scrap pile to the closet. I *am*, however, running out of scraps to shop. I’m going to need an infusion of fresh fabric soon…

And some nice juicy planning. Although hopefully, I will be less juicy at the time.

Pattern: True Bias Roscoe blouse

Pattern cost: NA

Size: -1?

Supplies: Scraps of hemp/tencel shirting, thread from stash

Total time: 4.75

Total cost: $0.00

M7360 Sleeveless

I took a break from enthusiastically sewing pants to squeak out a little something to wear on my top half. I say little because it required very little fabric – I used the last odds and ends of a piece of chambray I’ve had for at least 5 years. Until now I hadn’t tried a pattern that would fit on the scraps, but this one did!

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The pattern is M7360, and it’s also been sitting in my house for years. I think the spirits were in a good mood when I rediscovered it. I had just decided that I shouldn’t buy any more patterns before either trying or donating my unused ones, so I recycled a stack of assembled PDFs that were no longer my size or style, and moved paper packets into my sewing drawer for later sorting. Separately, I looked over my clothing Pinterest board for general inspiration. I saw a shirt I liked, wondered which of my existing patterns would be easiest to adapt to match, opened the drawer, and found this on top!

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A great place to start, right? I traced a size 12 with a few changes. I combined views, using the cropped length (view A), but without side vents. Instead of cutting a single front with a separate popover placket, I cut two mirrored fronts with grown-on plackets (I measured the finished width of the placket, doubled it and added 1 seam allowance). I also drafted 3” deep hem facings and omitted the pocket.

I did a quick and dirty layout on my chambray and decided with some grainline hanky-panky the pattern pieces would all fit! I put the traced pattern and the fabric into a Ziplock bag and left it there for weeks. You know, to marinate. And judge me.

Anyway, then my city locked down!

My crisis management skills were apparently all learned from Molly the American Girl Doll, so the immediate effect of what I’ve heard described as reasonable panic is that I stopped wasting things. I wasn’t particularly profligate before (absolutely I will reuse tin foil), but I went into, like, a scrap fugue, and spent a week dawn-to-dusk stashbusting with “USE IT UP WEAR IT OUT MAKE IT DO OR DO WITHOUT” echoing in my brain. (Also, I planted a container garden (Jade Cross Brussels sprouts and raspberries so far – this spring is cold, but tomatoes are next!)). The result: masks on masks on masks, my Perse-phonies, and thou this top.   

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The shirt mostly came together smoothly. It’s a coupla bust darts, some short seams, and a lot of straight lines. I think the bust dart is just about right; fabric catches above my bust when I raise my arms, but when I tug it down, it sits correctly. Maybe I could use more space, or maybe it’s a fabric/friction thing?

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I big-time flubbed the collar, though. The collar pattern piece is essentially the letter “C”; the resulting collar has a much shorter top edge than bottom edge, so it lies flat and close to the garment wearer’s neck.

I couldn’t sew the dang thing. I tried my now-usual technique, which attaches the collar stand to itself before the shirt neck, and it was bulky and weird and bad. I couldn’t get the opposing curves to meet, despite clipping aggressively. And I didn’t have nearly enough fabric to try again. The only ‘spare’ fabric I had, in fact, was my hem facings.

Hence the double-fold hem!

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The hem facing pieces were JUST long enough to recut the collar, but not as a “C” – instead I used the collar stand piece from the Thread Theory Fairfield, lengthened slightly. This I can sew. I skipped the interfacing (I blame fugue!), so my collar is floppy and fancy-free, and it flippy-floppies in or out according to the breeze.  

I added topstitching to the long edges, so it doesn’t collapse completely, but I’d like to learn to sew the collar as drafted. Any tips? It stumped me completely. (Also, today I’m not so much accessorized as I am garnished.)

By the way, if you were wondering, my city does have a mask recommendation. Luckily taking blogging pictures is great practice in finding and remembering unpopulated nooks, but I wear it to and from locations (and I kept it tucked in my fanny pack for quick retrieval if needed).  

I’m hoping to give up this particular accessory someday, but happy to wear it in the meantime!

Anyway, this is a nice little pattern – simple (collar excepted), adaptable, a bit of subtle shaping, and it works with small amounts of friendly fabrics. I hope you find some pattern gems buried in your stashes, too!

Pattern: M7360

Pattern cost: $5.00 (best guess)

Size: 12

Supplies: chambray from stash; thread, Michael’s, $1.79

Total time: 5.5 hours

Total cost: $6.79

Lilac in Spring

One of the few patterns I bought instantly and sewed instanter was the Sew House Seven Burnside Bibs. They haven’t appeared on the blog despite being one of my favorite things, because I made them exactly as written; I even used the Jungle green Essex cotton/linen that’s shown in the sample. They might still show up someday because they’re terrific and make me feel like a small-town florist in a musical about a small-town florist, but it took me years to make a second pair! And as soon as I had, mere moments to wear them!

It’s spring, and I’ve decided to start dressing like it. I’ve been dressing defensively lately – as Northern hemisphere winter was replaced by global and personal uncertainty – and that’s meant dark colors, heavy fabrics, lots of wrapping up and absolutely no chance of seeing of my own toes (it reminds me of Liz Lemon flipping through her closet in that one episode of 30 Rock – “Grey, maroon, navy – am I depressed?! Later!”). But I can keep what makes me feel secure in those choices (sturdy fabrics! Pants so wide that they socially distance for you!) and add some breeziness and color.  

I’ve historically avoided purple but I had a yen for a spring pair of Bibs and this just-right shade of purple (called “Lilac”) edged out mint green and sunshine yellow. Dang, now I want those too – I could dress like a package of Peeps! I arranged my paper pattern pieces in my secret weapon, a.k.a. my front hall. My hallway has one area that’s about 45” wide, which then widens to about 54”, so it’s ideal for laying out pattern pieces and calculating yardage on different fabric widths. I knew I wanted to use Essex cotton/linen again, for the structure, and gambled that I could get away with 3 yards instead of the 3 5/8ths called for.

These are the cropped view, no darts! I just made it!

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I had to cut both front bibs on the crossgrain, as well as the waistbands, but I’m pretty jazzed at how little fabric was left over AND that I could save some spondoolies. Obviously I wouldn’t recommend this for directional fabric. I made one minor change to this version; instead of sewing the front pockets as patch pockets (I wasn’t happy with the neatness of the curved edge on my first pair), I sewed them as single-layer slash pockets. I’m not convinced this was the right choice, as it diminishes their visual impact. However, they are neat! And it’s easy to use the existing pieces to make this change (patch pocket above, single-layer pocket below). The pocket facing stays the same.

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I topstitched the pocket bag edge twice to anchor it. Everything else got one line. And liked it!

I did the fold-and-topstitch technique for the long straps because you’re going to have to lock down my region a whooole lot longer before I think it sounds fun to turn a long skinny tube right-side-out. For some reason my brain went pbbt when it was time to make the belt loops, though, and I folded them in thirds instead of quarters (the fabric selvage is the outside third, but still). It would be nice if they were stronger, especially the outermost loops, as those see the most stress.

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I’m saving my scraps, though, and if I need to replace them, I will!

Sewing this went very smoothly. It’s not just straight lines, but really nothing challenging; it’s a lovely relaxing sew that zips right along, and I think a beginner who was enthusiastic about topstitching could make a beautiful pair. I only had one little wrinkle, when I needed to ease the inner bib’s bottom edge to match the outer bib. I hand-basted the layers together, and used those stitches to gather the inner bib edge slightly, too. Topstitching holds everything in place and any literal little wrinkles are hidden on the inside.  

Fit is sort of beside the point with the wide legs and the cinched waist. I sewed a 14, no zipper. I could lose 4” in width without dire consequences but I like the extra extra fabric, it makes the gathering more dramatic!

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These Burnsides are worn over a Roscoe blouse, by the way, which I sewed in April 2018. Still not blogged, but someday! For now it’s enough to say: I sewed the smallest size (!!!), and it was the star of my latest late-night closet fashion show, so I’ve been wearing it a lot lately.    

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I like its neckline, I like the curved bib neckline, I like ‘em together.

I’m really pleased to have added a second pair of Burnside Bibs to my wardrobe – the only thing slowing me down was choosing a color, and I’m in the mood for all sorts of colors right now. The witch hazel is blooming, so is the forsythia, and I’m pretending to know which is which. It’s a weird spring, but it’s spring, baby.

I hope you’re keeping well, and if you feel like sewing, I hope you’re sewing something that makes you happy! Zum Wohl!

Pattern: Sew House Seven Burnside Bibs

Pattern cost: N/A

Size: 14, dartless view, curved bib, cropped

Supplies: 3 yards Essex linen/cotton in Lilac, $34.46, fabric.com; thread, Tags, $3.28

Total time: 6.25 hours

Total cost: $37.78

Pattern: True Bias Roscoe blouse

Pattern cost: N/A

Size: XS

Supplies: 2 yards Treasured Kermes rayon in Crimson, $23.73, Red Beauty Textiles; thread from stash

Total time: 4.25 hours

Total cost: $23.73

Syd and Ruth

Once again I picked a sewing project by seeing a shirt on my TV and thinking “COME LIVE IN MY HOUSE”. In this case my jumping off point was the orange blouse worn by the character Syd in the season 2 pilot of Legion, a show that – it’s real weird. I like it, though! Syd in particular is a refreshing take on the trope ‘the girl who can’t be touched’. It’s the job of everyone else in the story not to touch her, and she doesn’t apologize for it. What’s not to like? : )

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The show’s costumes are often wonderful and inspiring (Oliver! Tracksuits! Lenny!) but I’m a classic sucker for a camp collar. Ruth isn’t a complete ringer but it was close enough to get the ball rolling.

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First things first: my shirt’s not orange. It’s not easy to find the perfect tangerine, especially as oranges in fabric stores lately seem to be skewing red (just me?). Also, this pattern has cut-on sleeves, not set-in sleeves, but I feel like that change (as well as pockets) is pretty easily added to another draft. You can’t see the bottom of Syd’s shirt, and I couldn’t find a still that showed it clearly, but hers fastens with a big bow over her left hip – totally achievable to add and sew, but I liked the skinny little tie and kept it! Bad copycat!

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The only visible change I made to the pattern was hemming the top with what’s essentially a waistband, a long rectangle folded over itself. The official Seamwork blouse variation calls for a peplum but I scorned their pepluminations. My band features a single button. It’s doing most of the work of keeping the layers aligned.

But the real MVP is the safety pin tucked under the collar lapel at the center front!

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Do you see that deep cavernous shadow where the shirt fronts overlap? You can tell it’s buckling like crazy. It’s at least 1.5” too long, probably more like 2.5”. I’ve avoided true wraps because of this ongoing problem, but reading bra blogs helped me pinpoint the issue. I have an extremely wide-set bust (I can lay four fingers flat on my chest before touching the nearby topography), so any shirt that has added length for travelling across a bumpier landscape is taking an unnecessary detour, let’s say. I don’t need any extra length to cover what’s essentially a flat surface. (Fun fact: it took us two tries to get these photos, because the first time we tried the ambient light was bouncing off the cloud cover and my sternum like a couple of professional-quality reflectors and blowing out all the photos.) Actually, and I shudder to admit this, the front length might need to be shorter than the back length because of my poor posture and habit of hunching my shoulders.

Did you just throw your shoulders back while reading that? I know I did while writing it!

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The back is blousy even though it’s darted, which I like! Short ‘n’ wide is the name of my shirt game. It tends to ride up on the sides though. This is definitely a shirt I futz with while wearing, but it’s possible a set-in sleeve would mitigate its tendency to creep up when I talk with my arms.

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I added a back facing because I guess duh, but also because I experienced full yawning incomprehension when reading the collar directions. I still don’t know what they were asking me to do, but surely a facing is easier?

Fun fact number 2: one of the first garments I sewed was a dress, and I was scared of sewing my first zipper. Surprisingly the zipper went in easily while instead the facing completely kicked my butt. It was years later when I realized I had traced the facing for a different neckline view than the one I used for the dress.

If you ignore the baffling mirepoix that was the collar installation section of the directions, it’s also really straightforward to French seam everything. So I did, yay!

I’m not usually a dress person, but I would consider sewing the Ruth dress as written. It went together nicely and despite my fit woes I like the shape. Even better, I’d sew this again as my tangerine dream, pop on some black gloves and call myself Syd.

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Arriverderci!

 

Pattern: Seamwork Ruth

Pattern cost: $0.50

Size: 8

Supplies: 3 meters of block print cotton, Etsy, $28.47; thread from stash

Total time: 6.25 hours

Total cost: $28.97

S1166

I won’t defend the 1999 B-movie The Mummy (it’s bad), but I will watch it, and enjoy it, and decide I need a shirt inspired by explorer gear of the early-twenty-first-century, and then I will watch The Mummy Returns and probably also The Scorpion King, if I’m honest.

I love archeological adventures and pastiches – Christie’s Come, Tell Me How You Live, many works by Elizabeth Peters (especially Vicky Bliss), even Romancing the Stone. And what is every explorer issued alongside their tall boots, leather satchel, and hunky travelling companion? An open-necked white linen shirt, of course, preferably filthy!

Mine isn’t filthy (yet?)! These photos were taken after a picnic and I dropped no chicken or plum juice on myself, hooray hooray!

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I used S1166, currently OOP. I found my copy on Etsy; after reading the many helpful posts on Pattern Review, I decided to order the larger size range. And thank goodness, too! The reviews were unanimous: the paper pattern does not reflect the sample on the packet. The pattern sleeves are far more conventional and narrow, and the body of the shirt is too short and difficult to tie. The collar is appropriately gigantic, though. I sewed a muslin with a size 16 body width and collar, 24 sleeve, and 24 body length, and found all of this to be true.

Initially, I traced the 24 line for the armscye, but it was too short overall for the 24 sleeve because of the narrower width of the size 16 body (this is obvious typing it out, but it surprised me at the time). I ended up having to lop a couple inches of width off of the sleeve to match, and so lost the benefit of the larger size.

I wanted big batwing-y sleeves, though, so I put my head down and came up with this solution – if I integrated the bust dart into the armscye, I could have a wider sleeve and theoretically still get the benefit of the dart. It meant changing the angle of the seam, but I thought it cut in too deeply, anyway.

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After making the changes, above, I adjusted the back of the shirt to match at the side seam. Then I walked the sleeve piece along the new armscye to check and voila, the 24 sleeve fit!

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Now That’s What I Call Sleeves!

I don’t know if merging the dart into a seam accomplished anything else, but I don’t need any more space or fabric in the bust. I consulted the Olya Shirt sewalong to sew that corner seam and it worked like a charm. Bodes well for all Paper Theory Patterns, I think!

I made possibly my single favorite adjustment when sewing any shirt, changing the collar to a one-piece collar, which altered the angle of the collar point slightly but didn’t affect its big ol’ bigness.

I didn’t need the 4 asked-for buttons on the shirt. I narrowed the facings – because I prefer to topstitch mine, there’s no flapping or flipping – and centered 3 buttons on the right front facing. The collar wants to fold over at the button, not the edge, so I probably should have sewn them closer to the edge.

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Instead of using the back facing piece, I sewed a yoke. It’s clean, I find it easier, and it’s as simple as a straight line.

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That extra 4th button is back here, keeping the collar sli-ii-ightly supported!

Overall I’m happy with this shirt! A couple inches longer would probably be a couple inches better, and if I was sewing it again I would have ironed a scrap of interfacing on the corners of the armscyes, but I worked this pattern around to pretty much where I wanted it. It’s comfortable, it’s highly unlikely to accumulate summer pit stains, and the cartoonishness of the sleeves and collar is pretty fun. In terms of specific aesthetics, well…

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My goal: Crocodile on the Sandbank. My actual destination: Muppet Treasure Island. Well, now I have something to wear to (in my best Tim Curry voice) a festival of conviviality!

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What’s the opposite of ahoy? Um…bye!

 

Pattern: S1166

Pattern cost: $9.75

Size: 16, with 24 length/sleeve and further adjustments listed above

Supplies: 2 yards of Kaufman Brussels Washer linen in white, $15.66, Fabric.com; buttons, $1.53, Gather Here

Total time: 5.5 hours

Total cost: $27.24

Sparkle shorts

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This is the third and final of my vacation outfits. I feel really happy in it, probably because both these pieces are third iterations of their patterns, and I’m well on my way to working the kinks out. It’s a sleeveless Anderson blouse tucked into some sparkle princess pony Flint shorts! Everybody gonna shine, okay?

I adjusted both of these patterns, but the Flints less so, so I’ll start there! This was my third time sewing the Flints; shorts, culottes, then shorts again. My main change was eliminating the lovely deep hem ‘cause I like them SHORT. I tried a few different hems – a ½ turned hem that looked too stiff, separate cuff pieces à la the Deer & Doe Chataignes that just didn’t wow me, and finally landed on this teensy baby hem. Baby hems combine some of my favorite sewing techniques, like precise edgestitching and fabric miserliness!

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The inseam ends just below the pocket bags. They’re not called longs, right?

I also curved the back waistband. I divided the waistband piece at the side notches and added seam allowances, otherwise leaving what became the front pieces alone. I then curved and cut the back as two separate pieces (an outer and a facing), which enabled me to remove about 1” of gape from the top of the waistband.

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The fit on these is still not perfect – cat whiskers for daaaayysss – but shoot, they’re comfy, they have generous pockets, and since the #1 cause of my shorts perishing is critical invisible zipper failure, I can handle a little pooch around my pooch.

I edited the Sew Over It Anderson blouse a wee bit more aggressively. The first time I made it sleeves and all. I bite my thumb at those sleeve directions. They suck. I kind of loved the look (more Gillian Anderson in X-Files than The Fall, but still pretty glam) but the sloppy insides made me sad and angry. Plus the sleeves were skinny but I was swimming in the body, so for my next draft I went sleeveless AND sized down to the smallest size (!!!). I found the shoulder seam oddly binding on that version, and decided it was because the bottom of the armscye was too high and my arm chub was pulling down the shoulder seam. I changed the pattern like this:

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Only, it wasn’t the armscye depth, it was the shoulder slope. I realized that halfway through the sewing process, too late for take-backs. I should have done this (and next time I will):

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Here’s how those two different pattern alterations compare:

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There’s too much underarm gape for my tastes, but otherwise I’m pretty delighted with this version. It was a cinch to sew, partly because I ignored the Sew Over It cutting layout. They direct you to place the front shirt neckline on the bias but I placed it on the selvage instead. Oh hai finished edge.

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I also swapped out the measly piece of binding on the back neckline for a 2” wide facing.

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I’m not totally sure how and why it happened, but on either side of the neckline there are these funny jutting corners. It has something to do with how I French seamed the shoulder – the seam allowance ended up pressed forward – but it’s both symmetrical and inoffensive (and how many of us can say that about ourselves?!).

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The pattern calls for a drawstring cinching the hem, but I knew I would always wear it tucked in, so this shirt has a baby hem, too. I overlapped the layers and shimmied deeply into my mirror until I found the lowest possible V that always covered my bra, and then tacked them together at the hem.

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The best part about a tropical island vacation? The humidity steamed all the suitcase wrinkles from this linen top without any help! (PSA, THAT WAS NOT ACTUALLY THE BEST PART.)

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My head is *firmly* in summer sewing now. Stay tuned for more premature proactive planning! 🙂

 

Pattern: Anderson blouse

Pattern cost: N/A (previously used)

Size: 8 – the smallest size!!!

Supplies: 1.25 yards of Antwerp linen in white, $18.88, Gather Here; thread from stash

Total time: 2.75

Total cost: $18.88

 

Pattern: Flint shorts

Pattern cost: N/A (previously used)

Size: 14

Supplies: 2 yards of Kaufman metallic linen in Emerald, Gather Here, $22; thread from stash

Total time: 6 hours

Total cost: $22.00