Category Archives: It’s done!

Overconfidence will get you every time

This sewing project went together so quickly that I didn’t have time to post on it before I finished it!

Here’s the before:

The envelop says New Look 0134, but the pattern pieces say 6104. The instruction sheet lists both numbers.

The envelope says New Look 0134, but the pattern pieces say 6104. The instruction sheet lists both numbers.

After the success I had with my last project, I dove right into this one, confident that I knew all the adjustments I needed to make:

  • Lower the bust point 2 inches
  • Full bust adjustment
  • Add a half-inch in length to the bodice

I was so confident that I didn’t bother with a muslin.


Turns out, lowering the bust point 2 inches was 1 inch too much. I don’t know if this is because it’s a New Look pattern (which I’ve never used before) or because each individual pattern differs. I don’t think it would be as noticeable if the dart were horizontal instead of pointing up so sharply. Regardless, after I discovered the problem, I decided that it could have been avoided if only I had pinned my traced pattern pieces together before I cut the fabric. But I tested that hypothesis that after my garment was done, only to find that it was really difficult to tell exactly where to place the shoulder seam with only half a garment. So, I would not have known that I goofed up the bust point unless I had made a muslin.

Oh well, it really doesn’t affect how much I love the garment. Not at all. Outside of the bust point gone awry, the fit on this top is great, and it’s so easy to make.

I was dealing with an uneven plaid (asymmetrical both horizontally and vertically) and just wasn’t up for all that pattern matching. I only wanted to deal with matching the horizontal lines at the center front and at the sides below the dart.

Lining up the horizontal stripes.

Lining up the horizontal stripes.

So, I cheated and cut everything else on the bias. Only the band around the neckline was supposed to be cut on the bias. I knew the front band wouldn’t have bias stretch issues because it would be stabilized by the woven fusible interfacing I would be using, but I wasn’t sure about the set-in sleeves. I thought the insertion might be a little tricky. Turns out, the sleeves went in just fine. And I really like how the bias front band looks.

The after:

It's tight in the bust area on Gene the dressform because her girls are in the wrong place!

The plaid across the bodice looks like it is matching the sleeve. I assure you, that is entirely accidental.

One thing I really like about not being a newbie seamstress is that I know how to improve upon the sewing instructions. For both the neck band and front band, the instructions called for folding the band to the back and sewing it down from the front. Um, no. I’ve been down that messy road before. I hand sewed both those bands down on the inside, which made it very tidy, indeed. Also making the inside tidy are the rayon seam binding seam finishes. Now that I’ve done two garments with that technique, I don’t know that I can stop. It eats up thread like crazy but is so very pretty. I blame Laura Mae.

It's almost as nice on the inside as the outside. I LOVE that!

It’s almost as nice on the inside as the outside. I LOVE that!

Two other challenges:

That center band: My automatic buttonholer did NOT like it. First, I had to make the buttonholes upside down (sewn from bottom to top) so the little wheel on the left of the presser foot that measures out the length of the buttonhole would have fabric to grab. Then, the bulk of the seam allowances inside the band (even though I trimmed them in anticipation) threw the buttonholer off a bit. So they aren’t as perfectly uniform as they usually are, but they do work just fine. I’ll trim the seam allowances more next time. It’s either that or work the buttonholes by hand, and that ain’t happening for a little summer blouse.

Staystitching the neck edge: The instructions called for staystitching, but didn’t mention that it should be done at 1/4 inch instead of the usual 1/2 inch. It needs to be done at 1/4 inch because the neck band is sewn on with a 3/8 seam allowance. So my staystitching ended up OUTSIDE the seam allowance. Yikes! Seam ripper and steam iron to the rescue. The little holes are barely noticeable.

And here it is on me!

 If the plaid across the bodice looks like it is matching the sleeve, I assure you, that is entirely accidental. Photo by Maddie.

Photo by Maddie.

I love having a woven blouse that fits! I know I need one in white, and I found that I already had a perfect plain white cotton in my stash. I also have plenty of the buttons from the plaid version left over. This time around, I’ll put in the bodice tucks from View C and try the sleeves from View A. And NO pattern matching.

But first, I’ll be making a matching plaid skirt, which is in progress, no thanks to Sewing Assistant Teacup.

Hey, can't you see I'm trying to match a plaid here?

Teacup! Can’t you see I’m trying to match a plaid here?

Teal and navy lawn: It’s done, and I LOVE it!

The teal and navy lawn version of Butterick 5846 is complete! It was a long road to get here — partial muslin, pattern adjustments, full wearable muslin, more pattern adjustments — but it was well worth the effort. I now have the best-fitting dress I have had since, well, I had two children.

Here’s the “before,” you might say:

The mood board for this project.

The mood board for this project.

And here’s the “after”:

This was my first time working with cotton lawn. It's wonderful to sew.

It’s a basic shirtdress, so I can do approximately 1 zillion variations.

And the back.

I think it’s on “Gene” the dressform a little off-center.

Gene’s wearing a belt, but the dress doesn’t actually need one because the fit at the waist is so nice. (I did place the buttons with a belt in mind.) The second set of pattern adjustments I made, after the wearable muslin, were right on the money. These adjustments will be very handy for other projects going forward. After making the wearable muslin and discovering that it only comes to my knee, I opted for the longer length, trimmed only to make the hemline even.

On the inside, I decided to go all “Laura Mae” with rayon seam binding tape. I had practiced on the wearable muslin and LOVED how tidy it made the inside. Check it out:

Every exposed seam is finished with navy Hug Snug rayon seam binding.

Every exposed seam is finished with navy Hug Snug rayon seam binding. (Is it just me, or does the inside view look like a Gunne Sax dress from the 1980s?)

 Here’s a closeup of the waist seam and side seam intersection:
How pretty is the inside?

How pretty is the inside?

The ONLY thing I don’t love about this project is the little pattern-matching problem. Did you notice? Close up, this fabric looks like it has a random all-over pattern. Once I pinned the first piece to my dress form, however, I noticed that the pattern actually has strong horizontal lines. This is not so great to discover AFTER all the pieces have been cut out. Note to self: Look at the fabric from near AND far before cutting.

And here it is on me!

With pearls and bangles. Photo by Maddie, the teenage daughter who thinks this outfit "looks funny."

With pearls and bangles for a vintage vibe. Photo by Maddie, the teenage daughter who thinks this outfit “looks funny.”

I plan to wear THE HECK out of this dress. If you see me in it way too many times, please be a Dear. Don’t say anything.


Next up, some casual summer skirts and tops with the cottons and linens I’ve been stashing for the past few months.

We’re sitting in the mid-90s in Northern California this week. Which makes it very difficult to look at the woolens JoAnn’s just put in the stores. Please! Not yet!

The Paris muslin is finished

It turns out that the Crazy Paris Dress made as a wearable muslin for Butterick 5846 is not the worst dress ever made. I even plan to wear it in public.

I don't think this looks all that bad, but maybe I've been looking at it too long.

I don’t think this looks all that bad, but maybe I’ve been looking at it too long. And would you look at that? I forgot to button two of the buttons when I put it on my dressform. 

The back.

The belt was made with a vintage slide buckle and some waistband interfacing. It stays closed with a snap I sewed on.

Although a contrast collar is one of the views on the pattern, this white one was done out of necessity. I didn’t have enough fabric because I cut out all the bodice pieces first rather than follow the pattern cutting layout, so I used some poly-cotton batiste I had in the stash. I really like the white collar, which inspired the white buttons and belt. I think all the white tones down the “novelty print” fabric.

You can get a better look at the red topstitching below. This is the best convertible collar I have ever done. The pattern calls for a hook and eye at the top of the bodice just below the collar itself, but I don’t intend to wear it that way so I didn’t bother. I also didn’t bother to interface anything because the quilting fabric seemed substantial enough and because this is a wearable muslin.

An up-close look at the topstitching. I used regular thread, not topstitching thread.

A closeup look at the topstitching. I used regular thread, not topstitching thread, which is thicker.

Here it is on yours truly:

As promised to Melissa, here I am in the dress. Photo by Maddie.

As promised to Melissa, here I am in the dress. Photo by Maddie.

By making the whole dress, I found out a few things that will come in handy when I make it out of the lovely teal and navy lawn I’ve got waiting.

  • I added too much length and width during my pattern alteration. I can take out half of the 4 inches I added across the front and half of the inch I added to the overall length of the bodice.
  • When you add length to the bodice, you must add length to the front facing. I remembered that little rule one scissor cut too late. Oops. There may be a little seam in the facing near the hem. Shhh.
  • I can’t imagine ever using the pockets on this dress. They just don’t seem like a very secure place to put anything more than a handkerchief. Since the pockets just complicate finishing the side seams, out they go for the real dress.
  • The length is too short by at least 3 inches. I’ll cut out the longer version next time around and figure out the best length when it’s time to hem. Thank goodness they still had the fabric at JoAnn’s. I bought an additional 2 yards to be safe.

All in all, I really like this pattern. Since it’s a basic shirtdress, it has many possibilities for variation. I could even make it into a shirt by extending the bodice and the tucks.

Now that I’ve got the fitting really dialed, I’m excited to see how it looks in a nice soft cotton lawn as compared with a quilting cotton. I hope to be re-altering the pattern tomorrow.

WARNING: Butterick 5846 has a mistake. The collar is marked to be clipped at the wrong spot. It should be clipped where the front facing ends. It’s an easy enough fix. KimP explains the problem and the solution well on her blog, which I found when I encountered the error and Googled the pattern to see which of us was crazy, me or the Butterick 5846. Turns out it’s the pattern. This time.


Separates project: A-line skirt, inside and out

The first item in my Separates project is complete, and this wearable muslin turned out to be the flattering basic I had hoped. Here’s the finished project:

This incorporates everything I wanted in a skirt, but now I’m wondering why I picked such a dreary fabric for my wearable muslin.

I like to line all my skirts. Isn’t it pretty on the inside?

Here’s what I wanted out of a classic skirt pattern:

  • A contour waistband, the better to flatter my not-so-hourglass shape.
  • Pockets. These days, a girl needs to take her cell phone everywhere.
  • A flattering sweep and length. A full circle would be way too much on me, and the 1940s skirt I made wasn’t quite long or wide enough to be well proportioned on me. This skirt is 30 inches long and has a width of 108 inches. (I don’t know why the patterns refer to it width. It’s actually the circumference at the hem.)

With a little redrafting, McCall’s 6438 fits the bill. I’m really happy with the fit and length. Now that I’ve found the perfect basic skirt pattern, I have lots of variations in mind:

  • I have a navy poly-wool crepe ready to be made into a skirt to go with the Sencha silk top.
  • I’d like to sew it up 2 inches shorter at some point.
  • I’d like to construct it with an inverted center pleat. The four gores are cut on the bias, so I’m not quite sure how I’ll work that out.
  • Speaking of bias, it cries out to be done in a stripe.
  • I also want to make a version in navy with red or white buttons on the pockets and matching topstitching.

Here are closeups of the details:

Here’s the invisible zipper and waistband from the inside.

This is my new favorite finish for a lining hem. The hem is overcast and turned back, then sewn down with a decorative stitch. I lucked out. This stitch matches the main fabric motif pretty well. (Please ignore the fact that I forgot to do a final pressing of the hem before I took the photos!)

Detail on the inside of the contour skirt. I hand sewed the facing with a variation of a fell stitch. I pulled the waistband facing to the inside a little bit along the top seam, so it ended up too long at the bottom. I think next time, I’ll trim the facing a little all the way around.

Pockets, so handy for a cell phone and whatnot.

Confession time: I always like to share what went wrong on projects. There wasn’t that much on this straightforward skirt, but here they are nonetheless:

  • I got so excited about trying out my drafted-by-hand pockets that I completely forgot my plan to edge them in a self-fabric piping. Lame!
  • I followed the zipper instructions exactly with regard to placement of the zipper stop and thus ended up with the dreaded hole between the zipper and the waistband. Gaaah! I HATE that. I’ll know better next time. At least the invisible zipper is invisible this time. That’s progress.
  • Pins and needles are sharp! I ended up with a couple smudges of blood on the waistband facing as I hand sewed it closed. Oops!
  • The pockets fit a cell phone, but I need to make them a little more generous in width so my hand fits comfortably.
  • The lining is a smidge too short. The stitching on the skirt hem shows under the lining hem in some places. I’m still not sure how that happened. Once the skirt and lining were basted together at the top, I trimmed the lining 5/8 inch and used the same hem allowance on both. Next time I’ll finish the hem on the skirt before doing anything with the lining.

Minor annoyances, really.

Now that the redrafted skirt pattern has passed the test, I suppose I should make it in the navy crepe so my Sencha navy silk top will have a friend to go out with, but I have enough of this fabric to make a wearable muslin of a matching top, and I’m excited about Simplicity 2151 view B, so I’m moving on to that next.

Views A and B would both make great vintage looks, and a well-fitting princess-seamed top would lend itself to lots of variations.

Is anything more motivating than a successful project?

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