Last Resort

I really like black outfits in the summer even if they effectively make me look glow-in-the-dark, but this one kind of crossed the line from “casual” to “deadly-widow-on-a-cruise”. To be fair once I realized that I leaned into the styling; since I’m only going to wear this outfit this once, I may as well wear it as hard as I can. This is my wearable muslin for M7936.  

Sometimes a muslin gets promoted to the big leagues. This isn’t one of those times. I haven’t really been tempted by short rompers lately; I feel simultaneously overdressed and underdressed, and this summer has been so relatively cold in New England that I’ve gotten to enjoy long pants most days anyway. But I wanted to sew through this pattern once before deciding whether or not I would make myself a full-length version. Honestly, I’m still not sure.  

The drafting was simple but good – everything lined up, there’s generous hem allowances, and the pockets are a good height and size. I had to sew my nemesis, an invisible zipper, but even that went okay thanks to the expert guidance of Kenneth D. King! However, it seems my new nemesis is facing a V-neck with an invisible zipper at the point. My fabric was a slightly grow-y, slightly shifty rayon/linen blend, and I didn’t make it perfectly symmetrical. I hand-stitched the edge of the facing in place to minimize the mismatch.

It’s obviously not an invisible finish, but if a line is going to be slightly wobbly anyway, I think hand-sewing visually justifies it. I wonder if a closed-end dress zipper in the side seam would make a good replacement for the center zipper, possibly if the back neck had a “V” neckline as well for extra hip-in, hip-out room? I’m not fond of placing the thing I’m most likely to mess up front and center, but a back zip can be a hassle too.

Fit-wise there’s not a ton to say – the intended fit is free through the waist and loose in the hips and shoulders. I sewed a straight size M (the pattern alpha-sized, by the way). It’s comfortable but the inseam pockets gape a bit, so grading to an L probably would have been more suitable. It passes my squat test for thick thighs as-is, though.

Unfortunately it’s a little uncomfortable to raise my arms above my head. It’s a cut-on-sleeve issue, not a body-length issue. Lifting my arm moves the whole garment, inevitably, but the sleeve digs into my arm before I run out of crotch space; if it were a set-in sleeve I would have a sense of how to adjust (all due to ikat bag’s generous post, an evergreen from 2014) but I’m not sure what to do about it here. Adjust the shoulder slope, possibly?

I sewed and finished the pattern according to the directions before adding my own twist, the little strappy hardware bits. It’s just four rectangles folded like double-fold bias tape and topstitched shut, plus four D-rings. The strap width was determined by the D-rings I had sitting around, 1 ½”.

These straps each started life much, much longer. I pinned them to the finished garment before trimming. This was easiest, but it wasn’t always easy. I was home alone for this sewing project and pinning straps above my own booty with the help of exactly 1 mirror was a bit fussy. They were unsurprisingly unsymmetrical, so I took measurements on the flat garment and tried to split the difference, only to somehow end up sewing the back straps symmetrical to each other but a good 4” lower than the front straps. Several tries later I ended up with this arrangement.

I was a little worried that the cinching would pull back the fabric around the invisible zipper and reveal the coils, but it’s all good. These look a bit useless when fully loose and a bit tortured cinched to the max; this sort of half-waist seems to be the sweet spot. You can get a similar(ish) effect with something like this elastic waist, with the exception that I have a flat area (panel in that link) between the strap ends on both the front and back.   

I’m not super excited about this romper, alas. Why’d I even bother poisoning the Colonel, y’know? The one thing I unabashedly like is the depth of the V. I really wanted to recreate a particular denim jumpsuit I have pinned, but now I dunno. I was pretty grateful to pop this off in favor of jean shorts and a tank; I just feel more like me in that outfit. On the other hand, denim makes everything better.

It did inspire me to go through my wardrobe and pull out a few other things I don’t feel excited about. My clothing swap pile is growing. Got to get that stuff out before the if/when of another lockdown…

On that cheery note, arrivederci! If Scotland Yard comes sniffing around, tell them it was natural causes.

Pattern: M7936

Pattern cost: $5.49

Size: M

Supplies: 2 yards of black linen/rayon, $11.98, Sewfisticated; 22″ invisible zipper, Gather Here + 1 1/2″ D rings, Winmill Fabrics, $4.79

Total time: 7 hours

Total cost: $22.26

The Sultan of Swat

If you’ve ever noticed a valiant 2-inch curl or a little extra pink on my scalp, it’s because I get occasional bald spots. They always fill back in, and the number one enemy of hair regrowth is worrying about it, so mostly I ignore them. But I’m in a high-risk group for skin cancer and the last thing I need in the summer is exposed skin on the part of my body that’s closest to the sun! The solution? Hats.

I’ve dipped my toes into hats before, but I find them tricky. Whenever I put one on I feel like people are thinking of me the way I thought of this one tween who wore a fedora to school every day (“You’ll learn, kiddo”). But finally I decided: hey, for a hat that says “I’M NOT TRYING, YOU’RE TRYING”, why not wear…a baseball cap?!

I tried one on and actually liked it, except the only one that fit my head also had embroidery that said DOG DAD, which alas ’tis not I. I peeked at the construction and decided I could make one. And then I made one!!

There are free patterns available, but I paid for the Style Arc Baseball Cap because I wanted a little more hand-holding and assurance. I was also wild with curiosity to find out what was in the brim, since that notion wasn’t listed. Answer: it’s ‘heavy canvas’, which is not very specific or helpful. Oh well.

I’m happy with the pattern itself. It makes what I think is described as a ‘dad cap’, a little over-sized and vintage-feeling (though, and this is probably the first time I’ve said this, I think there were too many notches!). But the instructions are frankly a scandal. They don’t quite fill a 3” x 5” square and there are no diagrams, just a drawing of the pattern pieces and then a drawing of the finished object – essentially this, for sewing.

So I did my own thing, mainly based on the RTW cap I tried on. Most significantly, I omitted the lining, and instead sewed bias tape over the interior seams. This was the last of my favorite bias tape – it’s just a perfect weight and color. This pale khaki green coordinates with everything!

I also skipped the interfacing. The pattern recommends an interfaced outer AND lining. So my version is only about 25% as thick as recommended! Obviously, it’s a lot softer and lighter!

Because I didn’t use a lining, I needed a new solution for finishing the edge of the little igloo door in the back (I don’t know what that area is called). I tried a bias facing three times but it wasn’t happening. Eventually I drafted a 2” wide facing, which did the trick! After topstitching it I realized I had forgotten to insert the back ‘straps’ between the facing and the hat, so I put them in the sweatband instead.

I used 3 layers of heavy interfacing in the brim. It’s still not very stiff, but it’s what I had on hand, and it holds its shape pretty well. I added two lines of topstitching. Incidentally, I think I need to get my machine tuned up – my stitch length has been all over the place!

I omitted the covered button because I didn’t have one and because I don’t think the meeting point of the seams looks too shabby.

And finally, I used snaps instead of Velcro for the band because – and I cannot stress this enough – I bought a ton of snaps a year and a half ago.

It’s certainly not perfect – that back asymmetry isn’t just in the photos, and the center front seam isn’t centered on the brim. But if I consider it a wearable muslin it’s pretty cool! I’d like to make more! It’s a snappy, satisfying project with a neat result.

I have a scrap hierarchy – if I have a lightweight piece I make a tank, pocketing, or bias tape, by order of size. If it’s medium/heavyweight, I make shorts. If it’s too small to make shorts, it just sits there. But now I have this as an option. So, this is a broad plug for making a cap! It’s fun AND efficient! If you try this pattern and have any questions (totally justified by the terrible directions), please send me a note. It’s all doable.

The other scrapbuster is this Tessuti Romy top, which I made in my scrap frenzy in March. Obviously it’s the linen leftovers of my shorts! I wasn’t wearing this top at all, because it was a funny betwixt-and-between length, but I cropped the side seam to 6.5” and now I love it as a coordinating set. The hem is actually hand-sewn because I didn’t feel like hauling out my machine and it ended up being a nicely meditative summer morning activity.

I’m also warded against evil in my new Danny Brito pins, which is always handy.

Finally, this is the face I make when I’m quoting The Sandlot at Professor Boyfriend and he quotes The Goonies back at me. They’re both great flicks, but I was TALKING about BENNY THE JET.

FOR-EV-ER.

Pattern: Style Arc Baseball Cap

Pattern cost: $5.88

Size: NA

Supplies: scraps of Kaufman cotton/linen in Forage; thread, interfacing, snaps from stash

Total time: 3.5 hours

Total cost: $5.88

Pattern: Tessuti Romy top

Pattern cost: NA

Size: 95% of M with changes

Supplies: scraps of linen blend; thread from stash

Total time: 2.25 hours

Total cost: $0.00

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

Buzzwords

Hi all! What’s the buzz?

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Oh, is it the base of my Halloween costume? It is!

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One of these days I’d like to cut loose and make a COSTUME, we’re talking something that needs super specific underwear and maybe you have to crouch to get through doorways, but in the meantime (as in, as long as I stay in my beloved but closet-less apartment) I pull together costumes from daywear. You could be forgiven for thinking “This? A costume? No, no, sir” which, like, fair enough. Though there are more posterboard components for the night itself.

Anyway, I’m a Spelling Bee! (Professor Boyfriend, not pictured, is a Spelling Beekeeper. His veil is dotted with yellow and black striped capital letter “B”s.). Whereas I’m, basically, a nerdy bee? The sewn elements are a pair of Afternoon Patterns Fern shorts, which I covered thoroughly here, and a Seamwork Natalie blouse.

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Nothing much to say about the shorts except that they’d match the concept better in black, but I found this grey linen locally for $3/yard, so yeah, SOLD.

One of the best parts of working in an elementary school is that you can have serious in-depth conversations about Halloween costumes. During one of these, a six-grade visionary suggested I add suspenders to my outfit, which: yes! They really cinch the Poindexter vibe! It’s just suspender clips and black ribbon, so only aesthetic, no support. I actually already had these – a couple years ago I got smitten with the idea of suspenders just long enough to order the clips, and I wore them maybe twice before the day I paired them with culottes and a leotard and had to reenact The Great Escape when I wanted to pee.

The ‘bee-siest’ piece is this top. I’ve been thinking about the Natalie blouse for a while and I’m glad I finally made one! In recent months I’ve been glibly converting regular collars to camp collars and then moaning that they don’t sit right, but actually following directions to learn a new skill seems to have worked better, TELL EVERYONE. I think the trick is in the width of the facing. The plackets curl open close to, but not over, the edge of the facing. It mildly stresses me out that it’s just tacked down inside and not topstitched, but maybe that’s an important ingredient too?  

I did add three additional buttons between the four recommended ones. More stitching is better stitching.

This top certainly fits, but I should have picked my size more wisely. I sewed an 8 bust graded to a 10 waist. Thanks to the boxy fit it’s not tight anywhere, but the shoulders are too narrow.

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Ideally, the shoulder seam would sit 1/2” – 1” further out. I think I’ll retrace the pattern in a straight size 12. The good news is I know already that I won’t need to grade for my hips!

Oh, a note on plaid-matching – I remembered to match the side seams below the bust dart, but completely forgot about the sleeves. Oh, well. Though, it’s been a while since I’ve set a sleeve in the round, not to mention I French-seamed it, and it is sitting pretty smoothly! So it might be in the wrong place, it might not match the plaid, but I’m calling it good!

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I probably won’t wear these bits as an outfit together after Halloween (contrary to everything about my personality, I’m not actually putting effort into being a nerd), but separately, yes, for sure. Do you dress up for Halloween? And if you do, do you try to keep the pieces wearable in daily life, or do you go wild?

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Either way – Happy Halloween! 😈

Pattern: Afternoon Patterns Fern shorts

Pattern cost: NA

Size: D at waist, E at lower hip + thigh

Supplies: 2 yards of linen blend, Sewfisticated, $5.98; zipper, Sewfisticated, $1.40; thread, rivet from stash

Total time: 4 hours

Total cost: $7.38

Pattern: Seamwork Natalie

Pattern cost: $3

Size: 8 at bust, 10 at waist

Supplies: 2 yards of Kaufman Sevenberry: Classic Plaid Twill Plaid Yellow, fabric.com, $24.24; thread, buttons from stash

Total time: 5.25 hours

Total cost: $27.24

Fumeterre skirt

I bought the Fumeterre skirt pattern in 2017 and then proceeded to waffle about it for two years, but less than a week before I left on vacation, I decided a skirt like that should come too. It felt touch and go at the time but the finished Fumeterre landed in my suitcase with a couple days to spare!

(It’s so not relevant to the sewing but we took these pictures in the ruins of Godstow Abbey after dinner at The Trout. This walk was on my must-do-in-Oxford list after reading La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman. I loved it. Even though I had read the rest of the series as a romantic child and I read this entry as a brisk and sensible adult, I love it the best!)

Okay, back to sewing. I definitely made some choices based on time constraints. Most importantly, I couldn’t find buttons I liked and didn’t have time to check another shop, so I sewed the skirt with a blind button placket. A blind button placket is a delightful origami sewing technique that I sometimes use just for the fun of capturing all those neat folds with one line of stitching! It isn’t a view for the Fumeterre, but if you want to convert a regular placket to a blind button placket on really any pattern, I’ve made a diagram of how, below.

Hopefully it makes sense! Essentially, if you’re starting with a finished placket width of what I’ll conveniently call ‘1’, you just need to add another band of width ‘1’ plus a seam allowance of ‘1/2’. I prefer to then fudge the width of the folds, as noted in the drawing, so that the bottom layer (the buttonhole layer) ends up completely and easily concealed. If anyone has any questions please let me know. Making diagrams for instructions is trickier than I guessed, and I’d be happy to throw words at the problem, if that would help!

I used the buttons looted off an old shirt of Professor Boyfriend’s. For the visible one, I found a shiny yellow button in my sewing box, which I wouldn’t have noticed at a store but actually quite like.

The finished skirt is fine, but not great. While Dee & Doe theoretically accommodates a pear/hourglass/whatever-you-care-to-call-it shape, the angle of this skirt seems to assume a gentle slope from waist to hip. My ‘hip shelf’ (a term I just made up) is definitely more abrupt than that, plus I’ve got a tum. The waistband pieces for size 42 just about fit with a smaller seam allowance. However, the skirt panels themselves would not wrap around my hips and stomach.

Luckily it’s drafted very long, so I cut 3” from the top of the skirt. I then gathered the excess into the back waistband. The line drawing indicates long smooth gores but the back waistband has some elastic gathering anyway, and my midsection is not particularly long or smooth, so this was a body-friendly solution for me.

The silhouette was still not working, though, so I also shortened 6” from the bottom! I didn’t like the semi-sheer linen as a maxi – the transparency was much more apparent around my ankles where the fabric panels were wider. Luckily, the midi seems to work. I was thisclose to immediately donating or swapping the skirt, before it got the chop.

I can’t tell how apparent it is in these photos, but my hem here is wiggedy wack. I’ve already leveled it by time of writing this post. I had to trim as much as 1 ½” from two places and ¼“ from a couple more. I cut this skirt on the fold, so I suspect I cut two separate pairs of panels off-grain, one worse than the other.

The fabric was shifting all over the place and basically, I was just happy to get it hemmed and done the first time. Unfortunately I didn’t notice the wack-ness, let alone its wiggedy degree, until I fetched it out of my suitcase to wear (I wore it anyway, clearly!).  

I made myself unpick and redo the hem when I got home from travelling – nobody’s favorite sewing, I think. My happy ending, though, is that I ran out of bobbin thread just after finishing the new hem! Not 3” before, as is traditional! ❤ Meant to be ❤

Also, if you get the chance, I highly recommend cheesecaking around a ruined nunnery.

But be careful not to sit in rabbit poo!

I very nearly learned that the hard way…

Bye for now!

Pattern: Deer & Doe Fumeterre skirt

Pattern cost: $13.00

Size: 42, with changes, above

Supplies: 3 yards of jade green 100% linen, Sewfisticated, $21.00; elastic, $0.17, Sewfisticated; thread, buttons from stash

Total time: 7.25 hours

Total cost: $34.17

Summer of Love, Part Four

Why hellllooo, here’s the fourth entry in my self-declared Summer of Love series! This outfit is sort of a round-up of my greatest hits: slouchy linen-ish outerwear, short shorts, and a wrap top that needs a safety pin so my bra doesn’t fall out. And guess what? I LOVE IT!

Yes babies, ignore the stink-face (why do I always have such a stink-face? I promise I’m very smiley in real life), I finally worked out a dressy(ish) outfit I feel comfortable and happy in! First, the creative brief: I needed something to wear to a rehearsal dinner with the equivalent fanciness of an average wedding, but since it was immediately followed by, you know, the actual wedding, my Kielo had to keep. Also, it was in a country club! First and only time I’ve been in a country club. Country club tip: forge an alliance with the man who holds the crab cakes. Yesss. Now you are ready.

Also, I was being romantically haunted (think Phantom of the Opera, Patrick Swayze as Ghost, basically those but with boundaries) by the idea of a Summer Suit. And I figured what the hecko! If not now, when! And because I love ongoing usefulness I decided to sew another Victoria blazer. I made all the changes listed in this blog post, and also I swapped in pockets purloined from the Lupin jacket (mine here).

Here is a picture of a pocket for anyone who is recently born or very forgetful. You’re welcome.

Another Patented Poundcake tip (I’m sure that crab cake thing is already paying dividends): make sure your shorts are at least a little longer than your jacket, so you don’t look like a flasher from behind.

So that’s the outermost layer of my onion! Next is a sleeveless Anderson blouse, and I made the adjustments listed in my post here, except for the armscye because this was my first draft in fact and I hadn’t noticed that issue yet.  Simple pimple.

Finally, the third piece of the ensemble – pants. I imagined cropped, pleated trousers with a tapered leg. “But Lia,” I hear you say, “Surely that’s your knees I see before us?”

PATIENCE.

Exactly at the equator, these are MN Flints. I used its (dare I say iconic?!) waistband and pocket construction.

There’s a hook and bar fastener inside, and the ties outside. Also, for once, my waistband isn’t crumpled horizontally by my mighty middle. I used BanRol! I’d bought some in a hazy panic when a local fabric store was closing, with the vague sense you put it in bag straps, but it’s for waistbands. It really stays flat! I only realized its use because of the magically impressive Shauni (she’s so cool).

So I had my waistband figured, but I wanted tapered pants and the Flints, well, aren’t. So I used the leg (sans pockets) of the Turia dungarees! I darted the back to fit, and pleated the front. It was actually pretty straightforward to get these patterns to mesh.

Then, an eagle-eyed observer might be able to spot, I just went ahead and cut the legs off anyway.

Frankly the pattern mash-up made for a nice pair of dressy slacks, but when paired with the blazer, I was getting major zoot suit vibes! So chop chop, now they’re shorts. The finished inseam is 2.75”.

This isn’t my finest sewing (those pleats are not centered on the front crotch seam, for one) and there’s some practical issues (the shorts wrinkle like crazy where they’re crushed by my butt, the blouse is a little too short to tuck in *really* securely), but for once, I don’t care. Because I feel like myself in this outfit and that makes me happy.

You may also notice, despite my claims, that I have HEELS ON! These were grandfathered in because I bought them for my sister’s wedding in 2012. Even just taking these pictures reminded me why I only wear them once every 20 months. They gave me that lift to spot my crab cakes friend from a distance though. Plus who can resist a classic grey…beige…combo? LISTEN I’m good at wearing normal clothes, okay!

My embroidered pin is from Coral & Tusk, by the way.

And my face, as apparently always, is right out of stink-ville!

See you soon!

Previous Summer of Love found here (part one), here (part two), and here (part three).

Pattern:  BHL Victoria blazer

Pattern cost: NA

Size: 10/14

Supplies: 2 yards of Brussels Washer linen/rayon blend in grey, $20.78, fabric.com; 1.5 yards of Cambridge Solids cotton lawn in Grey, $13.20, Gather Here; thread, $1.79, Michael’s

Total time: 7 hours

Total cost: $35.68

Pattern: SOI Anderson blouse

Pattern cost: NA

Size: XS (!!!)

Supplies: 2 yards of ivory rayon, $15.00, Gather Here; thread from stash

Total time: 3 hours

Total cost: $15.00

Pattern: MN Flints/Turia dungarees

Pattern cost: NA

Size: L (Flints)/44 (Turias)

Supplies: 2 yards of Brussels Washer linen/rayon blend in grey, $20.78, fabric.com; thread, hook and bar from stash

Total time: 6.25 hours

Total cost: $20.78

Summer of Love, Part One

Put your hand up if the following apply to you:

  1. You’d rather get dressed than get dressed up.
  2. A clutch of weddings either has or is about to rain down upon you.

I know the Year of So Many Weddings will seem like a safe harbor when I’m swimming with the sharks of Look at All These Babies, Do I Really Have to Remember Their Birthdays, but literally every weekend but one from June to October 2018, I went either to a wedding or a wedding-related event. And I wore the same few outfits to every last one of them! And so, honored guests, let me welcome you to the next few posts on my blog: what I, an un-fancy person, wore for chronic wedding attendance, a.k.a., The Summer of Love. Part One!

I have THOUGHTS about weddings in general (thoughts on thoughts on thoughts! So many patriarchal rituals! So much free labor, usually performed by women! So much dang money! But also the possibility of spending that money locally, often at female-owned businesses! Thoughtful marry-ees are working hard to erode the gendered baloney! Also I like passed hors d’oeuvres and theme parties!) which is why I look forward to never having one myself, but I do have fun at other people’s. I consider my main duty as a wedding guest to be 100% danciness all night long.

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This familiar friend is V1501 (Rachel Comey mock-tuck dress for Vogue) and you’ve probably seen it everywhere. I saw it first on What Katie Sews and now looking back, did I make the wrong size? Hers is sassier! Oops, I guess your marriage is annulled, friends. ANYWAY, this satisfies dancing requirements: it’s comfortable, the skirt’s swishy, and nothing is going to pop out. That seems like faint praise, but it’s about as high as dress-up clothes are going to get.

I did have fun sewing this though! I used my favorite yarn dyed linen/rayon blend, Kaufman Brussels Washer in Redrock (the same one I used for my very first post on this blog!). The skirt is a size 14, and when I wrapped the waistband pattern piece around my waist I made the instant call to add 2.75” inches to its length. I must have made a bizarre tracing error, because the lengthened waistband fits me comfortably, if a little loosely (I could have added 2.25” and been okay), but when I went to attach it, the skirt top was 2” wider than that (but hooow?).

I added another 1” dart to each skirt back, so now there’s 4 darts in total. I’ll have a close-up later, but it solved the problem, even while leaving me, to this day, baffled and confused.

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The skirt pieces are wider at the top than the hem! I’ve never seen this before! It makes sense, I guess – I’m wider at the hips than the knees. They’re seamed at the center front and center back, and the extra-wide front pieces allow for generous pleating.

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Swiiish! I used the selvage edge for those seams, since they’re straight lines and I’ve never met a millimeter of fabric I didn’t want to scrounge and save.

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I made a whole buncha changes to the top. I shortened the back bodice by 3”, topstitched the front pleats (why?? I don’t remember! Well, too late now), and raised the split at the sides by 4”. I did this little by little after the bulk of the bodice was complete, so I could push it juu-uu-ust to the edge of my bra. But if you have a cute bra you want to share, excelsior!

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Consider them dancing vents! I made this adjustment to the angle from hem to side, to make it more acute. The width at the hem of the bodice is unaffected, but the side seams meet higher up. I think in my fabric choice this dress is right on the edge of frumpy, unless you have the drama or gravitas to carry it off. I don’t! I don’t wear makeup or heels so I was comforted and sustained by the little bit of visible side.

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Naturally when I finally tweaked that angle to my own satisfaction it was also the time I hemmed the back inside-out. Tra la la. You can see the double darts here if you look closely, and the invisible zipper without looking closely at all! I still struggle with invisible zippers! Either you can see them, or I break them. This seemed the lesser of two evils.

I followed this EXCELLENT tutorial from Crafterhours to sew the all-in-one facing. I did skip the gussets and shoulder pads, so I can’t speak to integrating those with the facing! Finally, I took a cue from many bloggers who have sewn V1501 before, and sewed the top and bottom as separate pieces, joined by buttons on the inner waistband.

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My buttonholes are not centered either vertically or horizontally because I was slapdash! That’s between you, me, and the mulberry tree. I can store this puppy on a hanger no problem, though. Flex.

I might use the skirt separately, with a tank or cami, for like…a summer fête? If I ever need to act ladylike on a riverboat? A grift where I pretend to lose the church roof fund and also carry a lace hankie? IS THIS WHY PEOPLE DRESS NICE?

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More wedding guest outfits coming soon, in this the Summer of Love!

Pattern: V1501

Pattern cost: $10.29

Size: 12 top, 14 skirt, with variations, above

Supplies: 3 yards of Kaufman Brussels Washer Linen Blend in Redrock, fabric.com, $33.42; buttons, zipper, Gather Here, $3.60; thread from stash

Total time: 13 hours

Total cost: $47.31

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

Resort Hobbit

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This is the second of my 3 vacation outfits, and the only one I sewed for and reliably wore all summer 2018 (pre-blog, but I don’t mind blogging my wardrobe steadies, anyway). I’m calling the aesthetic of the pants resort hobbit. Shorter & wider please. The pattern is V8499. I’m not sure why I bought it initially (Vogue sale brain/shipping minimum?), but after I did, the first and best inspiration came from Cat in a Wardrobe. I copied her stripe placement but looking back on her post, I’ve got to make these again and copy her exactly! I love them in denim! I’d have to size up or at least lengthen to get the same sort of silhouette she achieves on her petite frame…I want those deep cuffs though.

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I used lightweight linen that I would have described as ‘green and white’ riiight up to when I wore it on a tropical island and stood next to some bright greens. Grey-green and white, maybe. Anyway, it’s rumpled and airy, and changing stripe direction meant that I didn’t have to worry if the cut pieces warped a little bit. I sewed it with the vertically striped-side up, making sure to keep my presser foot parallel to those, and let the horizontals look after themselves.

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I sewed a size 14. I wish split pattern ranges had a little more overlap. My hips are right on the cusp of each range. I probably should have bought 14-up, not 14-down. The front waist is flat and the back waist contains elastic; I really have to wiggle in and out, though it’s totally comfortable once on. I’m worried about how this will affect the overall lifespan of the garment. Every seam is French-seamed and topstitched, but I hate straining the loose-ish weave of the fabric! I might have to buy the larger size range (and trace again, gross).

I am roughly, from top to bottom, small, medium, and large (in retail, anyway). If a garment needs to fit in just one or two areas, like a cocoon dress that’s fitted in the bust, one range is okay, but across my whole body, like a jumpsuit or a swimsuit, a split range isn’t going to work. It’s even more difficult for someone who falls below/above/across the highest or lowest ends of the range – at least I have information available, if I decide to pay for it and buy the pattern twice. If you’re outside the far ends it’s just not there! >(

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Well, the need to wiggle-in and wiggle-out doesn’t stop me wearing the pants in practice. It just makes me stop and think if I *really* need to pee.

The pants had a new-to-me feature – knee darts (knarts, if you will).

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The knarts shape the pant leg to kind of cocoon the knee cap. I’m not sure why they should, but I enjoy a good topstitched dart anywhere.

The top is the Wiksten tank, which I owned for years before stumbling across the Katy and Laney variation, which was the kick in the backseat I needed to make it.

You could probably apply this tie-front variation to most woven tank patterns. (Back when I was first sewing, I asked an experienced friend, “What’s the difference between the Wiksten tank and the Grainline Tiny Pocket tank?” Her answer: “$3.”) I really like the exact proportions of their band here – not too short or too tight, just cropped and comfortable.

There’s a tiny raw edge at either end of the hem between the ties, but it’s survived the Wild West of my laundry so far (everybody in! Wash cold! Dry hot! Just a shirt and its will to survive!). This was a free make, by the way – the fabric was leftover from my Peppermint jumpsuit, and the pattern was a gift. I had to piece the tie band, but I consider it a #sewingleftovers success.

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Enhance your pants – with knarts!

 

Pattern: Vogue 8499, view C

Pattern cost: $5.00

Size: 14

Supplies: 3 yards of Telio Tuscany Pinstripe Chambray Linen in Light Green/Cream, $43.16; thread from stash

Total time: 8 hours

Total cost: $48.16

 

Pattern: Wiksten tank

Pattern cost: $0.00

Size: M, with the Katy and Laney variation

Supplies: scraps of ikat cotton, thread from stash

Total time: 3.25 hours

Total cost: $0.00