Take Two for 2022: The crisscross tunic

Pattern: Butterick B5954

Over the last few years, I’ve not been great at keeping up with this blog. At the start of each year, I have all these intentions for how I am going to start writing again through all my projects, but it always seems tp fall off very quickly. In fact there are dozens of projects I completed in 2020 and 2021 that I have not written about at all.

All that aside, I had a good idea for my blog this year and I really want to stick to it. As we head into another seemingly challenging year, it feels like many of us are in need of a do-over. As my wardrobe expands, I myself have been looking at my past projects and noticing how I could have done better if I had the experience I have now. Therefore for this year, I’d like to focus my sewing around the remake. A take two for 2022.

My goal is to post at least 2 times a month – hopefully more. It definitely helps to reflect after a project is done before diving headfirst in the next project. Maybe this year I can focus just on the writing and not about trying to have that perfect picture or narrative.

My first project of the year had me re-visiting a pattern from one of my earliest days of sewing. I made this top from Butterick (shown below), which I actually still love, back in 2014. This was before I owned a serger, which means it still has all raw edges on the inside that I didn’t bother to finish. I know no one can see the inside, but I know it’s there and it’s not up to my current standards for garment making. The shirt has held up pretty well despite it’s age, but it was made before I understood the basic concepts about working with knits, such as using a zig-zag stitch or how to hem stretchy material.

I got the idea to try this one again when I recently saw someone wearing a similar style shirt. I wondered if this style was back in fashion or at least showing up at some clothing store. This seemed like the right time to try out this pattern again, with hopefully a more professional look.

You can sort of see the burnout pattern in the fabric here. I’m glad I found a great project for this fabric, because I really like it and was stumped as to what I would make with it.

For this new top, I used this black knit with a sort of burnout leafy design that I already had in my stash. It was definitely more stable than the sweater knit I had used before so I was able to cut and press it a lot easier. This time I used my serger for most of the seams, which not only gave it a more finished and professional look on the inside, but sewed up a lot faster than before. The front panels are hemmed and I didn’t bother serging the edges, just pressed and hemmed like normal. I did machine-baste the collar and the sleeves before I used the serger on them, to make sure everything fit and lined up right. I also did some adjusting on length – I wanted it just a little shorter so it wasn’t so much like a tunic. I like this length better. Unfortunately, I also shortened the sleeve length, which was not actually necessary. They are maybe a tad short, but it still looks good.

Attaching the collar…and it lines up with the hole!

I like this shirt a lot. Because it’s all black, I can see it getting a lot of use in my wardrobe. It’s definitely more professional looking than my first attempt and I was very pleased at how fast this was to make. The collar is not quite as drape-y as the first one, because the fabric is so much thicker with less stretch. However, the hems and the lines look really great. And it’s always a great day when you can use something from your stash. I’m liking this whole improving on a classic thing – here’s to 2022!

Pattern Alteration: Daring to do Diagonals

Pattern: Cake Patterns Cabarita Knit Top

I’m not sure why it was so hard to find a simple pattern to make a chevron-type shirt. I basically just wanted a simple v-neck shirt with this simple diagonal pattern. It probably exists, but I had trouble finding it, until I saw this top from Cake patterns. I actually thought the pictures were showing 2 different views, one with the stripes vertical and another with them on the bias. But after I purchased it, I realized there was only one pattern – one picture was the front and the other, the back. I considered making the shirt as is, since it looked kind of interesting, but I really wanted my chevron shirt. Hoping for the best, I made the decision to cut out the back of the shirt twice, so the back and front were the same.

It actually worked out pretty well. I cut out all four sides of my striped fabric on the diagonal and made sure the stripes matched up. The collar and sleeves are finished with bands, also cut on the diagonal, which made things easy. However, I knew the hem would need twin needle stitching, therefore I used some fusible webbing to keep the fabric stable enough to avoid puckering. The bottom hem is still pretty stiff after a few washes, but at least the stitching looks decent.

I’ve been able to wear this shirt many times, and I really love the look. I made sure to adjust the sleeves, as they seemed a little on the long side. The whole thing sewed up really fast and looks pretty polished with the diagonal design. I think the fabric I chose was perfect as well, as it’s a pretty sturdy knit.

I ended up wearing this on my latest vacation to Santa Fe back in October. Here I am at the interactive Meow Wolf art exhibit “The House of Eternal Return.”

It works best as a mild weather fall or spring top, because of the thicker fabric and the sleeves being on the longer side. All in all, I can tell this top will get a lot of use as it’s comfortable and flattering.

Going Retro: Summer Bra Top

I really love retro clothes, but I never really have time to experiment with them. And when you have limited time for sewing, it pushes me to make more practical outfits instead of something that is more of a novelty. However, during the height of COVID, I did actually get a chance to try out this pattern I had bought for a retro looking bra top. I had this great fabric that I bought years ago – and I was only able to get just under a yard of it. It’s a soft rayon (I think) and I figured I could make a small summer top with it. I had just enough fabric to make View C, which has detachable straps that button on and a flap at the top that hides the buttonholes. The top is also fully lined as well, which helped as this material was a bit on the thin side.

I may need to invest in some high waisted shorts to complete the look with this new top. It was very easy to fit with the two buttons in the back.

I don’t wear a lot of tops this short any more, but I really love how this came out. I feel like I need to find someplace fun to wear it next summer, since I never got around to it this summer.

The Eyelet of the Beholder: It’s a 90’s kind of summer

Pattern: McCall’s #6582

When I was young and growing up in the 1990s, I had this white summer top that I absolutely loved, made from eyelet fabric. I wore it for many years until the armpits got discolored and gross. I can’t remember when I exactly retired the top, but I remember trying to find one that looked similar, with no luck. Fast forward to just a few years ago when I found some very soft cotton eyelet material and even though it wasn’t exactly the same texture as my beloved top, it still gave me an idea to try to make a summer top with it.

It was hard to remember exactly what the top looked like, but I remember it buttoned up the front and was cropped very short to show off my midriff. Replicating this would not be possible, especially since I am now in my 40’s and there is no way I would be able to pull off something like that. But I did want to make something cute, so the search was on for a pattern that could make use of this airy fabric.

I found this great pattern on Etsy, a real 1990s style top with that off the shoulder look that used to be pretty popular. I liked the fitted bottom and buttons up the front. If nothing else, I figured this could be a great experiment for the summer.

The V-shape on the bottom section is really what reminded me of my old beloved top. It wasn’t an off-the-shoulder style like this one is, but I do love how soft the fabric is with this new version. In the end I would say this one was a success, even though I probably won’t wear this one as much as my old shirt back in the day. I also need to figure out the right camisole to wear underneath, as this one is definitely pretty revealing up top.

Continue reading “The Eyelet of the Beholder: It’s a 90’s kind of summer”

Top Dog Top: The Vienna Tank Waits for You

Pattern: Itch to Stitch Vienna Tank

It’s fall in New England, but currently it still feels like summer. Since I didn’t have much time for my blog this summer, I thought I would take the opportunity on this hot sunny day in September to write about some of the summer projects I worked on.

I’m extremely proud of this tank top, which uses the Vienna Tank pattern from Itch to Stitch. This pattern was intriguing to me because it uses both knit fabric and woven fabric and I had just the knit that I wanted to use. I found this great wiener dog fabric at Fabric Place Basement in Natick, MA and I thought it would make a cute animal-themed top. I found some soft black cotton for the yoke and ruffle to complete the garment.

This pattern required knit interfacing to stabilize the arm holes, as well as some stay tape for the pleat down the middle. I knew the interfacing would work well since I had successfully used this technique when sewing up another tank I had made.

Fusible knit interface helps stabilize the arm holes

No crazy twin needles this time, and that was okay by me. I just used a zig zag stitching on the hems. The knit was pretty stable and not too stretchy, so it worked really well with the woven back.

Continue reading “Top Dog Top: The Vienna Tank Waits for You”

Sail Sleeves & Matching Diagonals: Blouses that work for work!

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Pattern: Butterick 6663

I have been working from home since March 2020. Even though my company has assured me we will be going back into the office at some point, its been so long that I can’t even imagine it. I miss going to the office, however being at home has its perks. The absence of commuting gives me more time in the morning, and if I don’t have any meetings, I can usually just wear whatever I had on the day before. It is sad seeing all the clothes in my closet , hanging there unworn. When I was anticipating a return to the office last summer, I stitched up a few blouses with a pattern my mom had given me as a gift.

The first one I made with this yellow seersucker (I think) fabric I had laying around. I think I had intended on making a dress with it, but I’m not sure I actually had enough to do so. The blouse ended up a bit on the big side and I’m still not sure about the sleeves. They are a lot wider than the picture led on, but maybe it all comes down to me making it a size too big. Part of the problem was the miscalculation in size, but I think also the fabric choice also contributed as well. It’s just a looser fabric and it almost has some stretch, so cutting it with the pattern probably required a little more skill and attention.

Looks like I should be singing in a choir…but I do still like the angled hem on this.

There is an invisible zipper in the back, but I don’t even need it to get it on and off. I liked the way the hem looked on this and even though I’m not usually a fan of facing on the collar, it worked okay as there were a number of seams where you could tack it down.

When I first saw this pattern, I was a big fan of the cover view that had the flattering diagonal lines, so I went out to seek some shirting with stripes in order to replicate this look. I knew it was going to take me awhile to line everything up to match all the stripes, but it was worth it. I really liked how this top came out. I made it a size smaller, but with this shirting, it felt about 4 times smaller than the other blouse. It’s funny how much fabric really makes a difference in sizing. Maybe someday I will learn. I used french seams with both tops and it worked really well for this pattern.

Maybe I should have chosen something with less lines?

I really like this top and I think it is definitely a unique style to add to my work wardrobe. I didn’t get to wear it too much last summer, but I’m hoping to get more use out of it, as I prepare myself to wear real clothes again. Better now than later right?

Continue reading “Sail Sleeves & Matching Diagonals: Blouses that work for work!”

Fleur de Fleece Pants: Making the most of 2020 cancellations

Pattern: Butterick B3314

These days, comfort is everything. As the days turn colder now, I find myself reaching often for my electric blanket. I usually need it after going for a run in this brisk weather and since running is the only way I get out of the house, I need this quite a bit. On the weekends, I love nothing more than to warm myself in these fleece pants I made – something that is obviously very simple to make, but more useful than I realized. When I cut these out, I thought these would be a fun addition on my planned road trip through Quebec. I was supposed to go on a big road trip last fall. Obviously that was cancelled, which was a bummer because I was really looking forward to traveling with my parents again and getting in touch with my roots a bit. I haven’t gone anywhere with my parents in many years and I know they were itching to get back to Montreal after their last trip got cut short due to an illness. I always love a good road trip, so I was extremely sad the borders never opened. And even though September isn’t usually too cold, I still think my pants could have come in handy on the trip.

I bought this fleece a while ago, not knowing what I was going to make with it. Fleece is not something I sew with often and there are only so many vests you can have. I had the idea to make the pants after starting the plans for my Quebec road trip. For this I used a typical pajama pants pattern, with no real surprises or challenges. I used my serger for most of the stitching and put in a run-of-the-mill elastic waist.

Continue reading “Fleur de Fleece Pants: Making the most of 2020 cancellations”

Against the Tide: Life’s no beach in 2020

IMG_9136This is probably my 4th attempt at going back to my blog this year. It’s obviously been awhile.

The last thing I wrote about was how much I love to travel and I was going to match up my sewing projects with the travel plans. As you may have guessed, the Covid-19 pandemic ended up putting an end to any of my travel plans and also caused some issues in my mental health. But things are not all bad. Through all the difficulties and adjustments of 2020, I still had my trusty sewing machine. And loads and loads of fabric.

Despite my silence, I have been pretty busy this year. My social life has become obliterated, but I did really get into my sewing again. I’m not sure why I had such a hard time going to back to this blog, it’s almost like I couldn’t find the right words in a world that has just seemed to get progressively more difficult. Maybe I thought what I had to say was so trivial – who care about some dress I constructed when people are suffering? Who wants to hear me moan about not going to Florida when people have lost jobs, livelihoods and loved ones.

Even though my idea for what I wanted to write about in 2020 didn’t work out, I still want to write about my projects. Continue reading “Against the Tide: Life’s no beach in 2020”

Austin 2020: Tanks for the Memories

Pattern: Aurora Tank by Seamwork

I love to travel. Over the last few years, I’ve really made it priority and planning trips has become almost a major hobby. My latest trip was a girl’s trip in Austin, TX with a couple of my closest friends. We planned the trip under the guise of running a race down there, but in reality we were more interested in exploring a new place rather than being competitive. I wanted to have a new piece for my trip so despite it being cold and wintery outside, I decided to sew up a knit tank top inside.

I knew I wanted to make another Aurora Tank, since it’s such a simple pattern and I enjoyed the one I made before. However, I knew my previous tank was not perfect so I decided to do a little reading about twin needle stitching on knits before I attempted another one. I saw some familiar issues with “tunneling” between the stitches and also tension Continue reading “Austin 2020: Tanks for the Memories”

Flowy top front

Going with the Flow: Starting up 2020

Pattern: Vogue V9005Pattern V9005

Despite all my big plans for 2019, I basically accomplished almost nothing I wanted to for the year. I also kind of just forgot about my blog. I didn’t actually forget, I just never seemed able to get to it, even while I was still sewing. But I’m not wanting to dwell on the past…

Last year was a pretty important year since I turned 40 and my significant other also turned 40. We had some big travel plans and life got pretty busy. It’s interesting how an age milestone can make you feel like you have to try to accomplish everything. Maybe it’s time to slow some things down, I’m not sure. I do have some travel plans for this year, although they are quite different from last year. My SO and I thought it would be a good idea to take some trips with our families this year since we felt it was important at this stage in our lives. It’s great to do these things when you can because you never know what life will throw at you. None of us is getting any younger.

But first up, I do have a girl’s trip planned to Austin, TX in a few weeks. I’ve been trying to decide whether Continue reading “Going with the Flow: Starting up 2020”