Embroidered Top

I’m going to need a new spreadsheet category, I think. Right now I separate items into keep/giveaway/gift, and ‘giveaway’, let’s be real, is polite for ‘flop’. However, this year I’ve occasionally sewed stuff not so much as gifts (unless I’m grandiosely making gifts FOR THE UNIVERSE (I am not)) or even as muslins, but just ’cause. Usually it’s scrapbusting or to make something unwearable into something wearable, but not by me. And this top fits into that new trial category.

I got this shift from a clothing swap.

It had made the rounds and been owned by a bunch of different swap participants, and was bought secondhand by the originator in the first place. It had clearly been used enough to wear out this underarm, but it was also fairly casually sewn in the first place.

The seams were sewn once and left unfinished (not even pinked). At some point what I assume was an attached belt was snipped off.

It was still darn cute, but the fabric was stained in a couple places and wearing out in others, and nobody wanted it in its current iteration, so I brought it home to remake.

I haven’t done of a lot of refashioning, but I wanted to try the elasticized square-neck raglan thing again, this time with a woven instead of a knit. It seemed like a good fit because there wasn’t actually a ton of fabric in this garment, and using that neckline meant I could shorten all the pattern pieces by a good 4 or 5 inches from the top. I began by unpicking the whole shift (it didn’t take long) and pressing the seam allowances flat.

I chose the True Bias Roscoe pattern as my base; it fit almost perfectly on the resulting narrow panels. I sew a size 0, by the way, which I continue to find staggering.

I knew I couldn’t make the new top full length, but that was okay. I folded over the top of my Roscoe pattern pieces at the height of the front sleeve notch, perpendicular to the grainline, and played around with placement until I found one that allowed me to save two of the embroidery motifs without sacrificing too much finished shirt length or smacking the flowers directly over my committee members. The finished side seams are 12” long. I saved the scraps with leftover embroidery for some murky and mysterious future.

I definitely didn’t have enough fabric for Roscoe’s usual sleeves, so I copied the sleeve hem curve of the original garment. I traced the armscye curve, again stopping at the height of the front notch, then marked straight across, and finally added 1.5” to the top for a double-fold elastic casing over the shoulder. I didn’t have space to add any fullness to this piece, but the Roscoe sleeve is pretty full already. Partly because of fabric limitations and partly to copy the original garment, my finished sleeve seam is only 1.25” long.

I cut the elastic casings for the front and back of the shirt separately. This was a bit silly. I could have cut them continuously, but I was operating on auto. It requires a smidge more math to make the height of an added casing match that of a sewn-on casing, but nothing too complicated.

Sewing the shirt was a snap. I used French seams on the shoulders and sides. The casings are 5/8” wide, for ½” elastic. I treated this fabric like a cotton and it probably is!

I wasn’t sure how long my finished elastic would be, so I basted together the underarms, stopping just short of the casings, and then inserted elastic cut a little long. I attached one end of each piece firmly and then stood in front of a mirror and pulled on the loose end of all 4 elastic pieces until I was happy with the fit. I was able to reach the front chest piece effortlessly, and I made sure to leave the front end of the shoulder elastics loose for adjustment, but I needed Professor Boyfriend’s help with the back. Ultimately, though, it turned out I liked it at the same length as the front. The final body pieces are 11” long, and the sleeve casing pieces are 12” long.

I had planned to sew the underarm seams with French seams as well, but the layers of elastic at the neck made that too bulky. The seam is pretty dimensional even with the finishing I eventually landed on, which is just bias binding with a scrap of cotton.

You can kinda see it from the outside so it’s nice that it looks nice!

I really enjoyed myself with this project. The final shirt is pretty cute. The inside is tidy. I know that doesn’t impact the function, but dang it, I like it. The sleeves want to slide off my shoulders sometimes, but it fundamentally works, and if I ever wanted to make another I could correct that by cutting an inch or so above the front notch instead of at it (which would bring the top edges of the sleeves closer to the center of the wearer’s body).

I popped this right back in the swap box, but gladly. I don’t have a new passion for refashioning, but I liked getting this back into circulation! Hopefully someone will enjoy wearing this new version of an old garment.

Happy about-to-be summer!

Pattern: True Bias Roscoe (kinda)

Pattern cost: NA

Size: 0 (kinda)

Supplies: embroidered shift; thread, elastic from stash

Total time: 1.5 hours

Total cost: $0.00

Vest-iges

So I made this pair of disasterpants (they feel worse than they look), immediately rued wasting the fabric, but then got some great suggestions to reuse it and keep it out of a landfill. The one that really grabbed me was KK’s idea – a vest! I had a biggish scrap left of uncut yardage and a strong desire to chop up some jodhpurs, and thus this vest was born.

I’m really a bit tickled by it. I knew from the get that I was unlikely to keep it (my middle is usually warm enough, it’s my ends that need help), but may I introduce Han Solo – After Dark?

I know the camera adds 10°, but it’s not overemphasizing the triangular profile of this vest. It’s like wearing a velveteen pyramid. That’s because I quilted not 1, but 2 layers of batting to each outer layer.

This fabric swallows light, but you can maybe kinda-sorta see I used wavy vertical lines. It was a really relaxing experience; I made a paper guide to keep the lines relatively consistent, but the organic nature meant I didn’t have to be precious about spacing or even notice if I strayed 1/8” from the planned curve. Also, I quilted each piece separately (just the 3 – back and two fronts), and they were all wee and easy to handle. And now, really quite plushy!

Can you tell the back is cut from two pieces, and one is on the cross-grain? It seemed so obvious on the table, but it shows up less in photographs than I expected. I didn’t have enough fabric to fuss about fuzz worry about nap.

I Googled around a bit and decided that rather than buying a pattern to use up scraps, then buying fabric to use that pattern, in a circle, forever, I would try a free pattern. I landed on this Purl Soho design as a base. I started with a size L, but shortened about 4 or 5 inches – a few from the bottom, and a couple more removed horizontally through the armscye. I considered extending the front to overlap or cutting a separate button placket, but a) I was pretty sure I didn’t have enough fabric to pull that off and b) I wanted to make this a no-spend project, and I didn’t have any coordinating buttons to hand. As it turns out, the shape of the neckline as drafted is too high to overlap nicely anyway.

I did pop in some pockets. I didn’t have enough fabric (that’s my vest leitmotif) for patch pockets, so welts it was.

I worried the velveteen + two layers of batting might be too bulky for nice welts, but actually they went in neatly and smoothly. I’ve learned you can play pretty rough with cotton velveteen and it doesn’t mind, so I pressed with lots of steam heat. Also the fabric ate up all my topstitching.

I used and appreciated this single welt tutorial from poppykettle! Unlike hers, however, my pocket interior isn’t self-fabric, but a long rectangle of scrap cotton with a bare facing of velveteen, and my measurements were based on availability rather than any overwhelming design plan or logic.

My lining is composed of a thousand scraps, mostly velveteen but also some leftover corduroy from old mangled overall legs. Unfortunately I didn’t have enough navy to go around the armscyes or face the hem.

Lining the vest, especially contrasted with bias-binding, was delightfully quick. I used a convenient Sarah Kirsten tutorial – special shout-out to her tip to sew the edges of the turning hole down to the edge of the fabric! Wrassling this right-side-out was a bit athletic, and I can’t be certain but I think she saved me from shredding the lining like cabbage.  

My last step was to sew directly over the quilting lines nearest to each front edge, now through all the layers, to de-puff the front somewhat. At this point I wasn’t even using navy thread in my bobbin – it’s purple – and yet it just nestled down into the pile and disappeared. And the vest was done!

And actually, so was this bonus skirt! After ripping out the inseams, I cut off most of the lower legs. Then I sewed the back center seam in a straight line down from the waistband, the front center in a straight line down from the base of the fly, trimmed the excess, serged the edges, turned the hem to my desired length, and ta-da. A new mini. The finished length at center front is 16.25″; the finished length at center back is 18″.

Neither the vest nor the skirt are staying in my closet, but I don’t consider either of them a failure. I made them both to get something out of nothing, and hopefully once they’re swapped or donated, someone will enjoy each piece. Maybe even together, but they’d have to be bolder than me!

Happy February! : )

Pattern: Purl Soho vest

Pattern cost: $0.00

Size: L; shortened from the bottom and through the armscye (about 4 – 5”)

Supplies: scrap velveteen and corduroy

Total time: 6.75

Total cost: $0.00

Pattern: refashioned pleated mini

Pattern cost:  N/A

Size: 44 waist (from SisterMag jodhpurs)

Supplies: refashioned jodhpurs

Total time: 1.75

Total cost: $0.00

Summer of Love, Part Three

This dress was pants! Briefly! Well, culottes. This is the tale of its transformation. Welcome to episode 3 of the Summer of Love!

This was very, very temporarily a pair of midi-length Tania culottes, size L in old money. I’d been wild to make them for a while, but I rarely buy 3+ yards of fabric at a go. Happily Gather Here had a summer sale at the beginning of wedding season, and the Tanias seemed just right for an upcoming casual-nice engagement party!

I finished the culottes with about 18 hours to spare (maybe you’ve sung this song yourself) and popped them on for a triumphant fashion show. Twist!! I must have fudged the grainlines because instead of falling from the widest part of my hip, they hugged my leg to about mid-thigh and then abruptly belled out. NOT triumphant. Not even close. Triumph sent its sincerest regrets but would not be attending my legs.

Without a back-up plan, I unpicked the ol’ leg-bags and freestyled a dress. The culottes became its skirt. This was simple to engineer – I cut off the crotch extension of each piece and smoothed the waist, like so.

Then I pieced the skirt front and skirt back at the center seams. Since the Tanias are so full, that left a respectable amount of swing and flare, even sans crotch.

Unfortunately, I ended up with four little holes, from what used to be the ends of the big box pleats (the red dot on my diagram above).

Using about a square centimeter of scrap fabric and fusible hem tape, I ironed a jiffy patch to the wrong side of each hole. So far they’re holding!

For the bodice, I used the Workroom Social Tate Top (free to newsletter subscribers) in the cropped length. I had previously made this pattern as a scrap-buster. As a crop top, you can really squeeze it onto random odds and ends, especially if you add seaming. I got this from the culottes off-cuts with nothing to spare!

Rather than using a zip, as the pattern recommends, I divided the back bodice horizontally about 5” down. Then I cut the two upper pieces and hemmed the vertical edges separately for a simple opening. It closes with a thread chain and mother-of-pearl button, but I can get in and out without unbuttoning. I’ve definitely made versions of this with no opening at all, but you know your own coconut best!

Then I just gathered the skirt top to fit (it didn’t take much gathering), stitched them together, pressed that seam up, and topstitched. Crossed my fingers for another first try-on and hey presto! A dress!

With a handy belt leftover from a Halloween costume (I was an Egyptologist, Professor BF was a curséd mummy, it was adorable, we’re very proud), I was party-ready.

Oddly I find the Tate cropped length borderline too short for a shirt but definitely too long for a dress bodice! But by then I was sleepy. So I wore the finished dress to the engagement do, and then forgot to adjust it, and then wore it to other Summer of Love events – a bridal shower, another engagement party. It’s not quite fancy enough for a fancy wedding, but it worked great for these Bacchanals/Burning Mans/just kidding we ate finger food in a backyard.   

I wore my Halloween belt with this each time, but I might prefer it casually unbelted!

You know what – seeing this steadily and seeing it whole, I’m gonna tweak it again. I love the color and the weight of this fabric, but the bodice never sat quite right, especially in the back, and it’s a smidge tight at the underarms.

Once more for the chop, dear dress!  

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

Pattern: MN Tania culottes

Pattern cost: $9.50

Size: L, in the old MN system

Supplies: 3 1/4 yards Kaufman Essex linen/cotton in Seafoam, Gather Here, $28.60; zipper and thread, $4.60, Gather Here; button from stash

Total time: 5.25 hours

Total cost: $42.70

Pattern: Workroom Social Tate Top, as dress

Pattern cost: $0.00

Size: 8

Supplies: disassembled Tania culottes + leftover fabric

Total time: 5 hours

Total cost: $0.00