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.

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”

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”

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”

March 2019 & April 2019: Getting the hang of pants, part 2

Pattern: Sewaholic Thurlow Trousers

Yes, I know it’s almost May.  But I swear this a project started in March and finished in April. In part 1, I made shorts to get out some kinks while I figure out how to make actual pants.

Anyways, I finished my pants using the same pattern as the shorts from the previous post. I was so amped up after my shorts that I couldn’t wait to start on the real deal. I had been imagining these pants since I bought the fabric over 3 years ago. The fabric is a really nice (but thick) plaid flannel. I think it may be double layered since the plaid is only on one side. The pattern said not to use fabric that is too thick, so I think this choice was pretty borderline. It was definitely too thick to make a shirt with. I’m sure things were not as streamlined as they could be using such a bulky fabric, but I am still happy with the result. As you’ll find out the project was a success, however it started in tragedy!

As I was laying out my pattern pieces to cut my fabric, I noticed one was missing. This has never happened to me before, surprisingly. I tore the house apart looking for it, but I couldn’t find the back pocket facing pattern piece. It’s basically just a square, so I decided to take apart my failed gray test shorts, so that I had something to work with and could get the right size and shape. I wouldn’t have the pattern markings, but maybe it would still be okay. However, I hate losing things Continue reading “March 2019 & April 2019: Getting the hang of pants, part 2”

February & March 2019: Getting the hang of pants, part 1

Pattern: Sewaholic Thurlow Trousers

Despite my lack of energy with writing blog posts, I did have a very productive February & March. I was able to finish up my two button-down shirts (well one is mostly done) and get my pants project underway. In order to figure out how to sew a decent pair of pants, I started out small – meaning shorts! What better way to figure something out by taking the whole leg out of the situation. Not only that but you waste less fabric this way.

The thing about pants is that it tends to get complicated with the fly. I always feel like I’m following the pattern, but somehow I miss some important detail and I end up with mutant pants. The first time, the fly was not centered. One time I couldn’t get it to lay flat. And the main thing I always forget to do is enclose the fly facing within the pants waistband so it sticks out unfinished and looks completely unprofessional.

The first pair of Thurlow shorts I attempted actually seemed to be going along as planned. One of the main thing I learned was in order to make sure the fly ends up in the right spot, you need to pull the left side over to the notches on the other side. This will help you avoid pulling it too far over (which I’ve done) or not over enough (which I’ve also done). I actually perfected the whole fly & fly facing thing on these shorts and I was extremely excited that these could be the shorts where it all came together. However, when I sewed the wasitband on, somehow the left side did not match the right side and I couldn’t figure out a good way to fix them. That and due to a careless error, I ended up having to cut the sides down more than I wanted, resulting in bad fit problems. This was not my day.

 

When I went back to attempt the 2nd pair of shorts, I was much more meticulous about going through each step. I think those mistakes also helped, as I breezed through the back welts and pockets (another confusing step from my first attempt) and fly construction. This time, the waist lined up pretty well and I was ecstatic.

I wish I could take all the credit for figuring this all out, but actually my main cause for success was discovering this sewalong blog post. I had a very frustrating time trying to Continue reading “February & March 2019: Getting the hang of pants, part 1”

The droid I was looking for: My BB8 hoodie

Pattern: Halifax Hoodie by Hey June Handmade

Skills Acquired:

  • Separating zipper

My year of learning is off to a bit of a slow start. However, the shorts that I am making are actually making great progress it’s starting to look like they will be a success. It is looking like I may extend my pants practice into March as well, as I didn’t really get a good start until the middle of February.

In the meantime, here is a project that I completed back in December. I’m quite proud of it, since it was one of my most successful pieces. I didn’t even have to make a test garment for this one either. I bought this BB8 fleece when Star Wars: The Force Awakens came out. I fell in love with that little droid and even though I had no idea what I was going to make with the fabric, I ended up getting a few yards. The inspiration to make a fleece hoodie actually came to me at work – my office is pretty cold in the winter months and I’m always longing for more layers no matter what I wear. I did an extensive search for just the right pattern and settled on this one by Hey June Handmade. I’m really glad I did since it was really easy to follow.

There are two versions in this pattern, and I actually sewed up the the one that is not featured on the cover. This required a separating zipper to be installed down the middle. The zipper itself wasn’t hard to install, however it did require a bit of hardware as I was supposed to remove some of the teeth at the top. I needed some clippers, so I used some of my pliers to get the teeth out. It was tough getting them to not fly across the room, but I think I found them all…sure.

Everything came together pretty easily. I used some black ribbed knit for the cuffs and the bottom waistband which I think worked pretty well for the look. Using the fleece for these cuffs Continue reading “The droid I was looking for: My BB8 hoodie”

2019: Never stop learning

Although I have been away from this blog for awhile, I have been sewing. It’s been infrequent and the projects are slow-going, but I have been trying to fit in as much as I can with the small amount of free time I have. In these busy times, I feel like I need to be strategic about my sewing since time has become less of a luxury.

When I first started making my own clothes, it was all about learning. I was learning about different fabrics, learning new techniques – I loved trying new things. The last half of 2018, sewing felt like a bit of a chore. I was still enjoying the process of trying to complete my uncompleted projects, but because I had so many other things going on, it was all very tiring. I have since given a few things up and I am getting into more of a routine with my new-ish job. I want to get back into problem solving mode with my sewing and I think this year I can make it happen.

I’ve always been the type of person who loves to learn. Part of the reason I love my new job is that I am learning so much more than the last few jobs I’ve had. I’ve been taken out of my comfort zone and every day I’m trying to perfect skills that I’m not naturally good at. It’s rewarding, but at times it can be mentally exhausting. Sewing could be a welcome distraction at times, but this year as I settle into more comfort with my routine, I want to really focus on the learning. This is why I’m changing things up a bit in my sewing project management. Before I would keep tabs on all my uncompleted projects, trying hard to get garments finished within the season I would be wearing them. I always seem to fail at this. Even though it felt like I was focusing on things, I really lacked a lot of focus and any little change in routine or life happening would really throw my plans out of wack. I need to keep things a little simpler in order to fix my focus and feel like I’m improving my skill. I’ve decided that each month I will pick something to focus on and hopefully I can diversify this enough so that I can still keep learning new skills and perfecting new garments.

For the first month (January obviously), Continue reading “2019: Never stop learning”

A little pleated: The Southwest inspired skirt

Pattern: Simplicity 1109, view E

When I first bought this fabric, years ago on my trip to New Mexico, I knew that I wanted to make a short-ish skirt with it. It took me awhile to get around to it, but it’s finally finished. I thought having a nice pleated skirt would work with the fabric and I just happen to have this nice Simplicity pattern. I liked the look of the skirt with multiple pleats, but when I asked around, the vote went to the skirt with one pleat down the middle. Well, I thought, at least it would be easier to make and would require a lot less pressing.

There is not much else to say as this was a pretty simple pattern. The fabric I used has embroidery on it, not a print, and I believe it gives it that southwestern look. The skirt does require a decorative zipper, since the zipper is on the outside of the garment. The instructions on the pattern was actually very easy to follow, which was good since I’ve never installed a zipper this way. I always feel the big 4 patterns don’t know how to explain regular zippers correctly.

The front pleat was also very simple. I basted the sides so that the pleat would be more crisp, and then removed the stitching after the waistband was installed. It came out pretty good, although one side seems more pressed than the other.


All in all, the skirt came out really nice. Something I will definitely wear more of when the weather is nicer.