Thursday, July 11, 2024

Leftover Cherries

This is an older project, but it is always nice to be able to make a second garment out of fabric leftovers.

I made a lovely dress out of this rayon challis years ago, and had small scraps that were too large to throw away, but there wasn't much left.  I held on to the remnants anyway, hoping that they would come in handy at a later date - enter Butterick 4985.  Because the design is made up of a bunch of smaller pieces, instead of one or two larger bodice front and back sections, it's the perfect design for remnant fabric.

I have used this pattern a couple of times before, and I continually reach for them during the summer as easy-to-wear separates.

Rayon challis presents a fun challenge to wrangle a rather thin and quite drapey fabric, but it's always worth the extra effort.

I do wish that I could find some slightly heavier rayon prints, but for now, the challis will do.

It does take a french seam quite nicely, and it's a pleasure to hand stitch.

And although I had to get a bit creative with fabric piecing to get my ties cut out of the leftover bits of yardage, it all turned out for the best.

In fact, this is a reminder that I should pull out some of my rayon prints to make another summer weight blouse, or perhaps even a dress.

Saturday, June 22, 2024

Cherry Blossoms

This quilting cotton has been in my stash for close to twenty years.  I love the print, but I only purchased about two yards, which left me with very few choices when it came to a pattern.

And then I spotted this one in the McCalls catalog.  Unfortunately, when I went to purchase it, there were no copies available.  But the design stuck in my mind, and when I realized that View B required a very small amount of yardage, it was the only suitable dress for this fabric (because I am extremely stubborn and that's just the way my mind works).

Obviously, I finally got my hands on the pattern.  The next issue was deciding how to work around the motif placement.  The white bits are somewhat linear, but not in a perfect grid, so I wanted it to look intentional.

And I think I accomplished that, for the most part.

The bodice is lined, but I did get to finish the skirt with my favorite rayon seam binding.

And I ended up lining the bodice pieces with self-fabric.  I did this for a couple of reasons.

First, I didn't have a great match in any solid colored cotton in my stash, and I didn't want any show-through.

And second, there were really only scraps of fabric left, so I figured that I might as well use them on the garment and not have a few tiny bits to save.

This project went together fairly easily.

And I do love a squared neckline!

I also love a puffed sleeve . . . although I am not a fan of gathering.  It's never been my favorite part of the process, but it's a necessary evil for this type of sleeve.  I do love the 1940s styled sleeve that controls the excess fabric puff with a bunch of darts, so I am making a mental note to look for more patterns with that detail.

One of my main concerns with this fabric design was not wanting to slice and dice up more of those little framed vignettes than absolutely necessary.  This skirt was quite helpful in that regard.

For the bodice, that was a little more complicated.

But I took my time with the fabric layout, and that extra care served me well.

Looking at these photos, I rather like the extra wide band at the bottom of the sleeves . . .  which still need to be folded in half and stitched in place.  Maybe next time I will cut those pieces in duplicate to maintain that width in the finished look.

The zipper was lapped at center back.

That went together without incident.  And no, the skirt pattern doesn't match.  There was just no way around it with the fabric that I had.

And here is where the width on those sleeve bands ended up.  Still cute, and probably more in proportion with the rest of the dress.  If I ever make the maxi length version, it might be fun to use a wider band . . . 

And now I'm going to have to take a moment.  This dress was constructed last summer, and my beloved Tino was still around to help out with the hand sewing.  I miss him every day.

I know that some people avoid hand sewing, but it's one of my favorite parts of the process.  And I know that it was the same for Mr. Valentino.  Any excuse for more lap time was okay with him!

So will I be returning to a high waisted silhouette for my go-to silhouette?  Probably not.  But it was fun to try this dress style.

I am very pleased with how this turned out considering the limitations that I had to work around with my limited yardage.  

And it always feels good to find the perfect pattern for a fabric that has been languishing in the stash for far too long!

Monday, April 29, 2024

Out of Character

Every once in a while it's fun to try something completely different.

While it doesn't happen often, I do get an urge to make a pair of pants from time to time.  But I just don't love the way I look in a pair of pants, and I haven't had a huge amount of success with the limited amount of experience that I have sewing my own trousers.

This time around I used a vintage pattern instead of a reproduction.

And overall, I think that the pattern was fairly successful for me.  Sure, the legs are slightly more wide than I expected, and my choice of a mid-weight fabric with some mechanical stretch was probably not the most ideal choice . . .

But they are definitely wearable.

Will I be rejecting skirts and dresses from now on?  Of course not!

I do think it might be fun to play with the fit of these now that I know the waist, hip, and rise work fairly well for me.  I would like to narrow the lower part of the legs and see how I like that silhouette.

Will I get around to doing that anytime soon?  Probably not.

I have a penchant for making Summer appropriate dresses, and now that we have had some nice weather, I am raring to go with a few cotton sundresses.

But I could see making another pair of these in a wool suiting when Winter rolls around again.  

I am not going to hold myself to that, but I do have a nice black pinstripe wool that would make a classic trouser.

Sweater:  Made by me, "Vanilla Bean Turtleneck"
Trousers:  Made by me, Butterick 6592
Earrings:  Liz Palacios
Shoes:  Sam Edelman

Sunday, April 21, 2024


Well, now I've gone and done it!  I made a pair of pants in December.  The idea popped into my head last Fall, and I finally got around to it a few months later.

To be fair, I have made myself two other pairs of pants over the last 20 years, and while they were vintage reproduction patterns, they just didn't turn out as well as I had hoped, and they really don't see any wear.

This time around, I decided that I would give an actual vintage pattern a try to see if I had more luck.

One of the main issues I have with pants is that I have a long torso, and this affects the fit.  I have heard people complain that the rise of vintage pattern is way too long, so I figured that would be perfect for me.  I also suspected that the fit through the hip might be more generous, which would also be helpful for the extra fluff that I store in that area.  Of course, the only real way to see if this pattern would work is to make up a muslin, which I did.

In the end, I added 1" of extra length between the waist and legs.  The only other modification was to remove a small wedge from the waistline at the center back for a slight swayback adjustment since I notice a bit of folded fabric there on the muslin mock-up.

I decided to stabilize the pocket opening on the front pieces since they are cut along the bias.  The cotton sateen with spandex has fairly good recovery, but I figured that this wouldn't hurt anything, so I went ahead and added it.

I found it interesting that the pattern suggested opening the seam allowances.  I am so used to seeing pants with a serged edge, and I thought that I had seen instructions suggesting reinforcement of the crotch seamline with an extra line of stitching.  Of course, these are more of an easy fitting pant, so that's probably not necessary.

I did finish my raw edges with seam binding.  These cotton spandex mid-weights always surprise me when the edges start to fray.

As for the hem, I had just under two yards of this fabric, which was not quite enough.  I decided to move forward with the project anyway, and had to cut the hem along the foldline instead of the cutting line.

Well, the pants turned out to be plenty long.  It probably had something to do with the extra inch that I added to the length up at the top of the pattern pieces.  But anyway, I got lucky that my minimal yardage worked out fine in the end.

The waistband went together easily.  And while side zippers are not usually my favorite option, I decided to go with it, and this particular side zip isn't bothering me as much as I anticipated.

After a bit of hand finishing, the only thing left was the buttonhole.

The directions suggest hand working the buttonhole, but I went with my vintage attachment.

If I use this pattern again, I think I will try out a hand stitched buttonhole.  I haven't done one of those in a while, and it would be good practice.

Has this pattern convinced me to start wearing pants on a daily basis?  Not quite.  But I am glad that I stretched myself a bit and tried something completely different.  I do think that I will try this pattern again using a wool suiting to see if I like the silhouette a bit more in a drapey fabric.