My Newly Re-sewn and Newly Sewn Top

Vogue 2074 is a close fitting, wrap or mock wrap top (in three lengths) that includes above elbow or long sleeves with stitched hems. The pattern also includes straight or A-line skirts in three lengths (mid-knee, below mid-knee, above ankle) with a contoured waistline and a back zipper.

I sewed two versions of the top.

IMG_20160321_160648018 IMG_20160321_160914851

Vogue 2074
Vogue 2074
  Cream Top Teal Top
Fabric Used Polyester Double Knit Rayon (70%) / Poly (28%) / Spandex (2%) blend
Version Sewed Version E (wrap top) Version I
(mock wrap top)

IMG_20160321_160648018Cream top: I originally sewed version E in a cream polyester double knit about 15 years ago. The wrap top includes ties that are sewn at each side seam. The ties are tied together at the left side. The longest tie is sewn at the left side seam and is threaded through a hole on the right seam and then wrapped around the back on the outside of the top to meet up with the right tie at the left side.

When I originally sewed this top, I included shoulder pads with it. I didn’t sew the pads onto the top, instead I added snaps on the pads and along the shoulder seam lines so I could easily remove the pads when I laundered the top.

The top I originally cut and sewed was too large, so I needed to take it in before I could wear it again. I never liked the way the wrap ties worked or looked, and I didn’t like the way I had to feed the tie through the small hole on the right side seam. I also didn’t like how the tie looked when it was wrapped around my back. The top was way too fiddly to suit me. I only remember wearing it two or three times. The top had been hanging in the back of my closet for years.

Alterations
I ripped out the side seams, removed the ties and sewed the side seams back up to form a mock wrap top. When I sewed the seams, I took the seams in by about an inch on each side. I also permanently retired the shoulder pads – I have broad shoulders and never needed them in the first place.

After I made these alterations, I was much happier with the top

Sewn 15 years ago After My Alterations
wrap blouse IMG_20160321_160648018

I was so happy with my new old top that I decided to make another one in teal.

IMG_20160321_160914851Teal top: This time I sewed the mock wrap version (version I). This version is a few inches shorter than the wrap version. Since I preferred the wrap version length, I cut out Version E, but modified the side seams to match the seams in the mock wrap version pattern pieces (the side seams flare out a bit more). I also didn’t include a collar and cut out the smaller size.

Wrap tops are stylish and classic – they don’t go out of style – and I think they flatter small busted women like me. I especially like well designed mock wraps because they look like wrap tops without all the fussiness.

A New Black Suit

Butterick 5235cI recently sewed this lovely ensemble which consists of a jacket and a matching top and skirt.  This was my most ambitious sewing project todate.  I have always flirted with the idea of sewing a lined suit, had even bought a pattern and fabric long ago to sew one, but kept getting intimidated at the thought of it.

Patterns used:
Butterick  5235 (Jacket & Top)
McCalls 3341 (skirt)

Fabric: 
100% Polyester Crepe Suiting & Bemberg lining fabric

The Jacket

I really liked the way the jacket looked the first time I saw the pattern. It is a professional yet feminine jacket and I liked the retro look of it.

Since this was the first time I had lined a jacket I followed all the pattern instructions meticulously. The sewing instructions were very clear and, even though there was quite a lot of hand sewing, the jacket was easy to sew. Some of the hand sewing I’m referring to is due to my own caution, choosing to hand baste many of the seams before sewing the permanent seam. But the instructions also had me hand sewing the sleeve linings into the garment. I genuinely enjoyed all of the hand sewing that was required.

Butterick 5235 Butterick 5235b Butterick 5235g

The Skirt

McCalls 5235 is a simple a-line skirt. I lined and added a vent in the back center seam. When I tried it on, the skirt was too much of a bell shape so I tapered the side seams, starting about 9 inches up from the hem, down to the hem by about an inch on each side.

Black Interview skirt1

Black Interview skirt2

The Top

I didn’t originally plan to sew the matching top, but after I finished cutting out the jacket and skirt, I had about a yard of fabric left over which was just enough fabric to sew a matching top.  When I wear the skirt and top together, it gives the illusion of wearing a dress, and I can wear them with some of the other jackets I already own.

Butterick 5235 topButterick 5235f

I like the flexibility of having two separate pieces that I can mix and match to clothes I already own.

Breathing New Life into an Old Suit

Jones New York1I’ve had a Jones New York 100% worsted wool navy suit (jacket & skirt) hanging in my closet for at least 15 years. The last time I wore the suit was 8-1/2 years ago to my Mother-in-Law’s funeral. I liked the jacket, but never liked the skirt…..the skirt was a too long ankle length a-line skirt that had scooped pockets that popped open every time I moved, and it wasn’t lined so I found it to be quite itchy and uncomfortable to wear. The long a-line style was matronly and made me feel like a Christmas tree whenever I wore it.

I recently started a job search and needed a couple of professional looking interview suits. The suit jacket doesn’t have huge shoulder pads and has a fairly classic style so I think it will be fine to wear to interviews, but I needed to do something with that awful skirt. I thought about removing 8 or 10 inches from the bottom of it and hemming it to a shorter, more modern and attractive knee length, but that alone wouldn’t fix those annoying pockets or the itchiness. The skirt had been hanging in my sewing room for months and the more I looked at it, the more I knew I needed to do something a bit more radical than just shorten the hem……so I carefully removed the zipper and the hem, cut out all the seams and had enough fabric to cut out and sew an entirely new skirt. Recycling the fabric into a new skirt ensured a perfect match between my new skirt and the existing jacket.

M3341, Misses' A-Line Skirts In Five LengthsFor this project I used McCall’s 3341, which is a pattern for a-line skirts in five lengths with front and back darts, a back zipper closure, faced waistline, and a back slit (in the longer Versions A & B). I sewed the knee length version of the skirt (Version C). I chose McCall’s 3341 because it’s a classic skirt pattern that will never go out of style. I don’t care for elastic waistbands and prefer faced waistlines over waistbands because I think they are more comfortable to wear, are easier to sew and alter, and provide a better fit.

Continue reading Breathing New Life into an Old Suit

A Warm Hat for the Winter

I sewed a roll brim hat out of a colorful anti pill fleece.

IMG_20160104_201405538
Pattern Green Pepper F873
Fabric Anti-Pill Fleece
Difficulty Easy & Fast Sew

I have a larger than average head (23″ circumference) and I usually have to wear men’s hats (which are rather plain) or settle for hats that are tight and give me headaches when I force them on my head or that roll up and eventually fall off my head.

I sewed the Large and it fits great! This is the first hat I’ve ever sewn and it’s great to finally have a hat that fits!

This is also the first time I’ve ever sewn a Green Pepper pattern and the pattern instructions are just great! Sewing the hat was really fast and easy. I sewed it during commercial breaks of The Big Bang Theory reruns (love that show)…I imagine in total, it took less than an hour to get the hat completed.

I am most definitely going to sew more of these hats. I think I’ll make a reversible hat next (this will make the hat a lot warmer since I will almost be sewing two hats out of fleece and then sewing them together.

I also sewed a reversible neck warmer (also known as a neck gaiter) out of the same fleece as my hat and an army green fleece.

    IMG_20160104_210808006
    Since the gaiter was just a rectangle of fabric, I didn’t use any pattern to construct it.
  • I cut out two pieces of fleece that measured 10″ x 24″ (again, my head is bigger than the average woman’s head).
  • Then I placed each piece together (right sides facing each other), and sewed the long sides together, leaving the shorter edges open to turn.
  • Finally I sewed the shorter side together, using the common”bagging” technique that is used in a several of the more complicated patterns I’ve sewn, leaving about 1-1/2″ open to turn and then slipstitching this opening closed after I turned the material to conceal the seam and reveal the right sides of the material.

Sewing a Lined Vest

I sewed a lined vest out of a wool boucle that I bought about 30 years ago. The pattern doesn’t include a lining, but since I was sewing the vest in a wool boucle, I also lined it with a colorful silky polyester. The pattern directions use bias fold tape to finish the armholes and includes pockets in the front seams, but the pockets were too small to be useful and they added too much bulk to the front of the vest so I omitted them.

Pattern:  Simplicity 1499 (view C)
Fabric: Wool Boucle (garment) & silky polyester (lining)
Needle/Foot
Machine used: Kenmore

Vest1I’ve never added a lining to a garment before when the pattern did not include pattern pieces and instructions for doing so. I searched around the internet a bit to find some useful instructions about how to do it and read over some of my patterns that include lining directions. I took my time on this project because I wasn’t entirely sure about what I was doing and I wanted to have a nice outcome in the end.
To make the lining, I cut out the pattern pieces for the front, front side, and back of the vest, and sewed the lining up just as I had sewn the fabric for the body of the garment. Most of the instructions I found for adding a lining to a vest (or sleeveless dress) did not include any information about collars, so I wasn’t quite sure what the proper order should be to attach the lining to the garment. I figured out the proper order by trial and error. When I sewed a seam in the wool boucle, the seam threads disappeared into the fabric, which made it very tedious to pick out a seam if I sewed it in the wrong order, so I hand basted most of the seams, then checked to see if the order worked properly BEFORE I sewed the permanent seam. This took several iterations to figure out the best order.

Vest3

The order that worked was:

  1. Sew garment side and shoulder seams and collar into garment – I left the side seams unsewn. The pattern instructions directs the sewer to fold the collar piece in half and sew almost the entire collar together, leaving about 2 inches open to turn the collar and to sew it to the back of the garment. Since I was lining the garment, I only sewed the sides and back edge of the collar together and left the side of the collar that is sewed to the garment open. Then I turned the collar and sewed the collar to the back of the garment, matching the notches and center of the garment with those of the garment. I also sewed the tab and buttons on the back of the garment. 
  2. Sew garment facing to matching lining pieces
  3. Sew the lining side and shoulder seams together (treating facing and lining as one piece of fabric) – since the garment facing was cut from the same front pattern piece, it was not necessary for me to also cut this front pattern piece in the lining fabric. If I make this vest again, I will only cut the lining fabric out of the side front and back pattern pieces and sew the lining side front fabric directly to the facing front fabric.
  4. Sew the lining and the garment together at the neck and front.
  5. Sew the lining and the garment together at the armholes
  6. Sew the lining and the garment together at the bottom
  7. Top stitch front, neck, collar edges and along the bottom.

Vest hemI trimmed about an inch off the length of the lining and pressed the vest so the fabric was folded up about 1/2 inch to the inside.

Pressing the seams as I sewed them was a bit tricky. The boucle was very thick so I couldn’t get a nice crisp press and I also didn’t want to flatten the boucle loft so I used a light hand when ironing. I also dampened a washcloth and placed that on top of my ironing board where I placed the fabric to press and I used an ironing cloth when I pressed any seam on the vest.

Understitching the armholes and the facing was also difficult to do given the bulk of boucle and the lining material. Since I knew I was going to top stitch most of the seams, I didn’t understitch the front facing or the armholes. Instead I pressed the seams carefully so that none of the lining fabric was showing on the outside of the garment and then I top stitched the most of the seams very slowly to make sure the lining was not showing.

I’m pleased with how well the vest turned out and am looking forward to wearing it this winter. I don’t have a need for many vests so I think this will be the only vest I make for myself this year, but I might make another one next year.

Linen Summer Dress

I sewed a cool, breezy trapeze dress for summer.

Pattern: New Look 6340 (view A)
Fabric: Linen/Rayon blend

The Linen/Rayon blend fabric I chose was perfect for this dress and was a pleasure to sew. I sewed View A of the pattern, but since I’ve never cared for back ties, I left them off.

P1000888I included the pleated pockets since I think they add an interesting detail to the dress. I cut out the longer view of the dress, but shortened the dress by 4 inches to the View B version when I hemmed it.

 

P1000887I like a clean inside as well as a nice looking outside of my garments and Linen frays easily, so I finished all the seams by turning under 1/8″ of the seam allowances and stitching along the edge of the fold. The inside of the dress is neat and looks almost as good as the outside, with no frayed edges on display anywhere on the dress.

Front of dress

P1000889

Back of dress

P1000890

Sewing summer skirts

I used Simplicity pattern 2609 to sew some cool skirts for the summer.

WP_000443jld skirt

I really like this pattern because it is very easy and quick to sew. The skirt fits great and worked well for me when I was losing weight. I also like it because even though it has an elastic yoked waistline, it doesn’t add any bulk to my figure, so I don’t feel like I look fat when I wear it.

When I first sewed the pattern, I was quite a bit heavier than I am now. At the time I  was losing weight, so I changed the order in which I sewed the seams on the pattern so I could make quick alterations to its size as I lost weight. As I lost weight, I only had to cut off the side seams so I could sew up a new smaller seamline, then take in the elastic waistline a bit and repair the hem where I cut the fabric. I’ve taken the skirt up 3 times and it’s probably time to take it up again, although it’s easy to just shorten the elastic in the waistline. (See Original & Now)

I can cut out the pattern and sew the skirt in about 4 hours. Because it is so easy to make, I have sewn the skirt 3 times already.

P1000641P1000642

P1000643P1000644

I purchased a khaki linen blend fabric and plan to make a 4th skirt in the near future.

You can view some of my other sewing projects in my “I made it!” Flickr album.