Category Archives: Completed project

New apron with 1930s-style fabric

I have another new apron. This one was made from a reproduction 1930s print fabric I bought at my local quilting fabric store, Country Sewing Center.

Here is the before:

Butterick 6567 was already in my stash. I bought a reproduction 1930s quilt fabric to make it.

The Butterick pattern is out of stock. I made View A, the one in the big photo in the middle of the pattern envelope.

This apron had a bit of a weird construction technique with the straps that go from the front waistband over the shoulder to the back waistband. They are edged in double-fold bias tape and then lapped over the middle bodice piece and back horizontal strap and sewn from the right side. Since I had a little problem using pinking shears on lapped seams after I sewed them with the last apron, I pinked the edges before sewing this time around. Much smarter.

Here’s my new apron on Gene:

How cute is this apron? The pocket, just like on the last apron, is too small to be useful, but it looks good.

How cute is this apron? The pocket can’t hold much besides a cell phone, but it looks good. Gene is in my kitchen, in front of my baking cart.

And from the back:

The horizontal strap keeps the apron from slipping off the shoulders.

I like that the ties are double-layered; the wrong side doesn’t show. (Gene is wearing a cotton blouse and linen skirt I made last year.)

I’ve been using the other apron I made, and it is so cheerful. I like a LOT of color in my kitchen, so both my new aprons make me happy-happy.

Since I always leave my latest completed project on Gene the Dress Form until I need her for the next project, I won’t be using the new apron for a few days.

Up next, a tunic!

A new vintage-style apron

Well, that was quick!

I started off with this:

The colors of the fabrics match my kitchen.

The blue, red, and yellow match my kitchen. The green is just for fun.

Three days later, I had this:

Gene is in a corner of my breakfast nook so you can see the colors I was drawing from when I picked the fabrics for my apron.

Gene is in a corner of my breakfast nook so you can see the colors I was drawing from when I picked the fabrics for my apron. She’s also wearing two other garments I made.

Honestly, it could have been done in one day, but I cut it out one day, did half the sewing the second day, then did the final sewing on the third day. What a nice, leisurely sewing pace.

And now I have a pretty new apron. And since I plan to use it, I’m sure it will be stained in no time.

The pattern has an unusual (for the modern day) construction technique. The seam lines for the scalloped fabric trim on the bottom of the skirt and the side parts of the pocket were stay-stitched. Then they were turned back, pressed, lapped on top of the main fabric, and edge-stitched down.

(Actually, before the pieces were lapped, rick-rack was basted onto the seam line of the main piece, so it ended up sandwiched in the seam.)

It was rather like a giant applique. While I haven’t made a piece of clothing with this technique, I have seen vintage reproduction pattern instructions that call for it along curves.

Pressing the seam allowances back was pretty tricky with an iron blasting full steam. I really need to get some ironing gloves before I burn myself.

The pattern didn’t specifically call for any seam finishes, but after I stitched pieces together, I could envision the ravelly mess that would ensue after washing. So, I pinked the edges. Because of the way the pieces were lapped and sewn, this little mishap occurred:

See the round hole and the little crescent shaped one next to it?

See the round hole and the little crescent shaped one next to it?

Well, crap. I didn’t spend too much time crying over it. It is an apron, after all. I just got out my Fray Check and treated both sides of the holes.

But did you notice the other problem? Look closely:

Stems. At the top!

Stems. At the top!

That’s right. The main floral is UPSIDE-DOWN!

Before cutting out the fabric, I quickly scanned it and noted that the blossoms were facing all directions, so I ASSUMED my floral was nondirectional.

Until I had already cut everything out and was placing the finished pocket on the skirt.

That’s when I was annoyed to discover the little grouping of stem ends facing up. UP? What?! I expect this in a home dec fabric, but why would anyone design a quilting cotton floral that’s (just barely) directional? Grrr. Truth be told, the upside-down bouquets are more annoying to me than the little holes courtesy of my pinking shears.

Deep breath.

OK. Well, regardless, I now have a darling little apron that I will actually use. One last look:

Despite the flaws, so cute!

Despite the flaws, so cute!

I like having a fancy apron so much that I’m intending to make another one from a different vintage-style pattern in my stash. I already purchased a darling reproduction 1930s quilting fabric from Country Sewing Center, the really nice quilt store here in town, but I still need to buy bias tape.

The pattern calls for making 7 yards of 1/4-inch bias tape from scratch, but I don’t want to get that up close and personal with my steam iron. Plus, that seems really narrow. So, I’m taking the lazy route and buying regular double-fold bias tape.

That project will be up next.


Sewaholic’s Belcarra Blouse is a winner

After all the alterations (I needed to do two muslins of the front bodice piece), I cut and sewed Sewaholic’s Belcarra Blouse in a day.

I love it!

Here’s the completed top on Gene:

Simple lines and easy to make. A great basic top.

Simple lines and easy to make. A great basic top.

It’s an easy-to-sew top that has nice details and is very comfortable. I was hoping I could substitute tops made from Belcarra for the cheap knit Target tops I buy every year, and I think I can.

But the sewing wasn’t smooth sailing all the way through.

The neckline is finished with a bias band that is folded wrong sides together the long way, then sewn to the right side of the neckline, flipped to the wrong side and sewed down. Somehow, I REALLY goofed this up. The band piece ends up 1-inch wide when folded, and you’re supposed to use a 5/8-inch seam allowance. That would leave a 3/8-inch flap to turn to the wrong side all the way around. I used my 5/8-seam allowance pressure foot and still ended up with an uneven flap. It varied from 3/8 of an inch to 1/8 of an inch. Rather than rip it out and start again, I trimmed the seam allowance close, folded the flap to the wrong side, and used a decorative topstitch on the right side that would be sure to anchor the flap down no matter what the width.

It looked OK.

Until I attached the sleeve bands. Here’s how one looks:

These look nice and clean.

The pattern refers to this as a cuff, but I’d call it a band. The fabric is more interesting up close. You can really see the detail of the fluffy pindots here.

The bands looked so clean and nice that I decided I hated the topstitching. HATED IT.

So I ripped out all the topstitching and attempted to rip out the neck band seam. Well, I had trimmed the seam allowance so close that I was just ripping the edge of the neckline.

So I cut it all off as close as I could. Ugh.

I had some single-fold bias tape in my stash, and I’ve always liked the clean look that makes when used on a casual neckline, so I sewed right sides together, flipped it to the wrong side and sewed it down. Here it is, inside and out:

This looks SO much better than the topstitch I had before.

This looks SO much better than the topstitch I had before.

Nice and tidy inside.

Nice and tidy inside.

Clean and pretty. And still done in a day.

Eliminating the neck band would reduce the fabric needed by a decent amount, so I may skip it in the future and just use bias tape. Or, I might see if I can actually execute the neck band properly. I think I’d take a smaller seam allowance next time.

Here’s the completed top on me:


It’s very comfortable, and I’m happy the fluffy dots are straight across the fabric. The dart looks a little droopy. I think that’s because it’s a smidge too low. Perhaps I should press my darts up instead of down. (Photo by teenage daughter Maddie.)

As well as this fits, I will make a few adjustments next time around:

  • I’ll raise the darts another 1/2 inch.
  • I’ll lengthen the top 1 inch so I can do a more substantial 1 1/4-inch hem instead of a 5/8-inch double fold hem.
  • I’ll straighten the side seams. I don’t need hip room. At all.

With these adjustments, I’ll have a perfect top that sews up quick. I’ll keep it in mind for any nice cottons I see at Jo-Ann’s. I’ll be looking to the great Belcarra Blouses I saw on Sewaholic’s site (I particularly like the ones in eyelet) for inspiration on other ways to use this pattern.

It’s so satisfying to sew up a quick project here and there. Now I want to make a full denim or chambray skirt to wear with this top.


Sew Liberated’s Clara shirtdress

The Clara shirtdress, pattern No. 118 from Sew Liberated, is complete, with a bonus belt!

Here’s the dress on Gene:

Sew Liberated's Clara shirtdress on Gene.

Gene looks good in everything. (The little white patch near the shoulder is the sun coming through the shrubbery.)

Sew Liberated's Clara shirtdress from the back.

From the back, it looks like the dress is cut on the bias. It’s not; that’s just the way the print is. By the way, using a busy print meant not worrying about pattern placement on the fabric. Lovely.

As a reminder of where it all started, here’s the mood board.

Mood board for Sew Liberated Clara dress.

I ended up using only the navy thread, and I abandoned these buttons in favor of vintage ones from my stash. I also decided at the last minute to make a matching belt.

The Clara is a shirtdress with an elasticized waist. It has a collar, front plackets and short sleeves with an interesting keyhole detail. (My 10-year-old son did not appreciate this detail at all. As he was being a good sport and “admiring” my newly finished dress, he pointed to the keyhole and asked, “What is this hideous thing?”) Oh well. I like it.

Alterations I made

To fit and flatter my figure, I made the following alterations to the pattern:

  • Adjusted for a full bust
  • Lowered the bust point
  • Added 8 inches to the length
  • Increased the overall bodice length (too much, as it turns out)

I find bodice length impossible to determine until the skirt is attached. On a hunch, I added 1 inch to the bodice length instead of the 1/2 inch I usually add to the Big Four patterns. When I tried on the completed bodice, I was absolutely sure it was still too short, but when I tried it on with the skirt attached, it was a 1/2 inch too long! This is not the first time this has happened to me. I cannot explain why the bodice seems longer when the skirt is attached.

Changes I made

Since putting my own stamp on a pattern is part of the fun of sewing, I made the following changes:

  • I added a white braid trim to accentuate the collar and plackets.
  • I sewed the bias trim fold to the wrong side by hand.
  • I sewed the double fold hem by hand.
  • I changed the elastic technique at the waist.
  • Bonus: I added a matching belt.

Because of the blouson bodice and waist elastic, Clara reminded me a bit of shirtdress patterns from the 1980s (minus the ubiquitous shoulder pads I was always altering out of patterns). Yes, I was sewing back then. Here’s the proof:

This was taken during Christmas break 1985, my freshman year of college. I'm on the right, in a shirtdress I made. Not bad plaid matching, I must say. On the left is my friend Melissa.

This was taken during Christmas break 1985, my freshman year of college. I’m on the right, in a shirtdress I made. Not bad plaid matching, I must say. On the left is my friend Melissa. This must have been during the brief misguided period when I wore contact lenses.

Because of the waist’s similarity to shirtdress patterns from my youth, I decided to use the waist elastic technique I remember from back in the day. The Clara pattern instructions called for sandwiching elastic between the waist seam allowances and sewing it in place with a zig-zag stitch while stretching it, but I didn’t like the idea of that seam allowance flopping around inside. Instead, I opted to trim the waist seam and sew single-fold bias tape over it. I opened one fold of the bias, and sewed it over the seam on the bodice side. Then I pressed the tape down over the trimmed seam allowance (which was then hidden underneath the bias tape) and sewed the other fold down onto the skirt. I inserted 3/8-inch elastic into the channel created by the bias tape.

As I was inserting that elastic, I remember what a bother that technique is. It’s pretty difficult to get that elastic all the way around, even with a bodkin. (Click here to see the kind of bodkin I used.) But once it was done, it looked nice and tidy inside.

Here you can see the casing I made for the elastic out of single-fold bias tape.

Here you can see the casing I made for the elastic out of single-fold bias tape.

As for the belt, I had no intention of making one. I have a navy leather belt that I was originally planning to wear with the dress, but I HATED the way it looked.

So, I decided to make one using a vintage buckle in my stash that was a pretty good match for the buttons.

Alas, I had no belt backing in my stash, and my Jo-Ann’s doesn’t seem to stock it. Instead, I used ribbed nonroll waistband elastic. It was no picnic to pull elastic through the tight tube of fabric I made to cover it. There are still a few spots where the fabric is gathered a little on the elastic.

The vintage buttons and buckle are a pretty decent match. Can you see a little gathering on the right part of the belt?

The vintage buttons and buckle are a pretty decent match.

It was the best I could come up with on short notice, and it did the trick; but I’m planning to order some belt backing and buckles to cover for my stash.

And here’s the dress on me:

Caption here. Photo by Robert the Husband.

This is the length I prefer on dresses and skirts, about 30 inches long from the waist. Photo by Robert the Husband.

This is a really comfortable and pretty dress. Nothing is too tight anywhere. It only really sits on the shoulders and at the elasticized waist. As a bonus, the keyhole detail makes the sleeves adjustable in width. Adding the extra length really worked for me. (My girlfriend and I were lamenting on Facebook this week the lack of calf-length dresses. Everything is at the knee, mid-thigh, maxi, or hi-lo. Not flattering for us suburban moms in our 40s!)

Gathers at the waist — even slight ones — are not my best look, but boy the comfort sure offsets that. All in all, I’d call this dress a winner. I’ll wear it later this month when I have dinner with another girlfriend.

Although I am WAY past the completion date for the Sew News sew-along, they let me add photos of my completed dress to their Flickr group. You can see them here.

Happy Fourth of July to my fellow Americans!

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