Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Another shirt to pack

I finished this shirt this afternoon. It is from the pattern McCalls 7351 with the sides straightened and cut to shirt length. The fabric is a fine cotton plaid that I bought in Texas in February and the gingham is a piece I bought to go with something else but then changed my mind. 

One change I did make was to trim off 3/8 inch from the top of the collar band and I also trimmed off 1/4 inch from the outer edge of the collar. I wanted the collar to be somewhat smaller so that it wouldn't come up too high on my neck. The shirt is meant for those hot summer days in Ontario which we will be getting next week.

I made the buttonholes with green thread and used seven half inch green buttons for the front closure. I bought a bag of buttons at Michael's the other day, and already I have used them for two garments. A real bargain, about 100 buttons for less than $4.

I matched the side seams at the hem until I got close to the bust dart. I cut all pieces out single layer to match the plaid. And cut the outer yoke on the bias, the inside yoke is cut from the pink gingham.

The armholes fit really well without any gaping and they are finished with bias binding cut from the pink gingham. And with that, I have closed up my sewing room as we will be away for a month. It will be knitting needles for the next four weeks. 

Unfortunately the wool I ordered will not get here in time, so I will have to find something in the stash to knit while we are away.

Lots of fun, we are having a family reunion in Ontario. At some point, there will be 20 adults and 15 children. People are coming and going at different points, but some will be around for a week and there will be a lot of chatting, a lot of wine drunk, and a lot of laughter I am sure.

I was rushing to get this shirt made before going, and then I decided to count my summer shirts. I have 10 that I have made in the past year, so I think I am ready for this vacation. 

Fabric purchased:  0 metres
Fabric sewn:  2 metres green cotton plaid and pink gingham

Running total for the year: 36.6 metres purchased and 37.6 metres sewn up

Summer Sewing

A dress for daughter Elena. Butterick 6208. One version was made for her daughter Hannah and mom hinted that she would like one in the same colour as the pattern photo. I found a pretty shade of orange at our local Fabricville store; it may be too light to be a dress, and I will wait until she tries it on before we make a decision whether or not to cut it off as a tunic. 

Personally, I wouldn't want to have to wear a slip under a summer dress, it kind of defeats the purpose of being cool. And this dress is too see-through to wear alone. It is 100% cotton lawn, beautiful fabric but perhaps better suited to a blouse or tunic.

I did buy some white rayon fabric and made her a slip, but I don't see this being worn under the above dress. However, one can always use a slip. This is from McCalls 6696, a pattern for a classic shirt-dress. It also includes a pattern for a bias slip with spaghetti straps and it is really pretty. The rayon has a silky feel and drapes beautifully and even more so when cut on the bias.

This will have to wait until a try-on before I can hem it. I enjoyed the tiny edge finishes on this; it reminded me of a sheer shirt that I made some years ago and used the edge finish methods of Tom and Linda Platt that were written up in an old Threads magazine. It really is much better than serging and turning under; you sew on the seam line, then press that under, trim the seam allowance to a scant 1/4 inch, then turn that under again and stitch again. So every edge has two lines of stitching, it takes time but gives a wonderful finish that won't pull out or fray as a serged finish might do over time. For the side seams, I made French seams, they seemed in keeping with the pattern and the fabric.

I added some elastic lace trim to the front and back necklines just to make it a little prettier.

The slip is a nice bonus to get in a pattern that is already great.

Fabric purchased:  1.5 metres white rayon for slip
Fabric sewn:  2.5 metres coral cotton lawn
                    1.5 metres white rayon

Running total for 2016:  36.6 metres purchased and 35.6 metres sewn
Closing the gap!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Shirt-dress success - McCalls 6885


This shirt-dress was posted on the Britex website.  And I thought I have a fabric very similar to this, a dotted denim shirting that I bought last summer at Fabricville. I had intended to make a shirt-dress with it, but didn't get around to it. Kind of glad that I didn't cut it then because I think it will be perfect for McCalls 6885 that I just made up in seersucker above.

The seersucker is very light fabric and I think that might be why it works better as a tunic than as a dress. But this denim-y fabric is a little heavier and should have just the right weight for the pattern.

I will make it with short sleeves and will cut the hem straight with side slits.

I was spurred on to make this version after seeing the pattern on this site.

I will also eliminate the little pleat at the front at the bottom of the placket, I don't see any reason for this pleat and I will simply fold it out all the way down to the hem before cutting out, then cut straight down the sides for a straight hem and will sew the sides leaving slits at the bottom.

I have often thought that making the same pattern two or three times is a good idea. After all, ready-to-wear is made after numerous samples are sewn to work out the kinks, to work out what fabric works best, etc. And yet we sew-ists hope to achieve success on our very first try. Often we do, but many times there is that little something that bothers us about the finished garment. Rather than just remain frustrated about it, why not make the pattern again and fix those problems?  The second version will sew up much quicker, it will probably fit better, and you may just hit that sweet spot. Success depends so much upon hitting that sweet spot where the finished garment meets or exceeds our expectations.

June 21, progress made and dress is finished.

Front of dress with placket opening; these get better each time I make them.

Side view, hem has been straightened and short slits left in the side seams.

Back yoke with added pleat at centre back. The pattern didn't have a yoke piece, so I just cut one from another pattern and shifted the back over from the fold to allow for a pleat. I think it adds some interest to the back of a garment and the self-lined yoke sits better on the shoulders than a single layer of fabric.

The back of the dress. 

My favourite part of this pattern - the collar and collar band. This pattern comes together so well that I may just use this collar and band pattern piece for other shirts.
I used the method that Louise Cutting uses for collars, sew the bands on the neckline, then sew the rounded front edges, leaving the top of the bands open to insert the collar.

Then sew the finished collar onto the inside collar band, and tuck in the raw edges of the outer band over the encased collar and top-stitch all around the band. This produces such a nice edge on the band. I used to use the technique of Margaret Islander, which is slightly different than this method. I have found that I have more control with this method and get good results every time.
Not one hand stitch on the collar, everything done with the machine for a professional finish.

I am so pleased with this dress and with this pattern. I have plans to make another version, perhaps the colour-blocked one. I saw a woman at church with a beige dress and a black border, and immediately thought it would work in this pattern!  She wore it with a black cardigan, black shoes, and a black chunky necklace and did it ever look sharp.

Next up: a dress for my daughter Elena.

Fabric Purchased:  0
Fabric Sewn:  2.5 metres cotton print

Friday, June 10, 2016

Can't stop sewing


I am really on a roll here. I just can't stop sewing. In the past month, I have made three muslins for myself for shirt-dresses, a blouse that I haven't taken photos of yet, three dresses for my grand-daughter Hannah (no photos of those either)  and this dress which will be finished either today or tomorrow.

This is McCalls 6885, a simple shirt-dress. I sliced the back so that it would have a yoke, added some to the lower back to make a center pleat, altered the pattern with an full bust alteration (using the directions from The dress doesn't have too much shape to it, but it is meant for those hot summer days when we will be in Ontario in July. We don't get heat here in Nova Scotia but in Ontario, they do and summer clothes are quite different for that location. 


I wanted to play with some pattern mixing here. And so I cut the collar, collar band and front placket from a black and white print that I had stashed to make up a poet shirt about 10 years ago. Never going to make that now, so better to put the fabric to use now. When I put on the placket, I thought the contrast was a bit stark and realised that the seersucker may look grey and white, but in reality it has a subtle blue shade to it. My contrast fabric would have been better had I chosen a blue print, but I wasn't going to take off that placket after fastidiously stitching it in place. Once I added the collar, I liked the contrast better (I guess there was more balance with more of the contrast fabric in there) and will finish off the armhole bindings and hem later today.

The collar and band went together really well and I think this pattern, while looking very simple, actually has good bones. I often find that collars are too tall for me and I trim them down. I left this one as is and am really pleased with it. The undercollar is the seersucker and I only interfaced one collar piece and one band piece. I usually interface both but this single application is the perfect weight for this fabric. I am super pleased with how this collar turned out.

Update: just tried on the finished dress before hemming and thought 'this looks too bag-like'. I am too short to carry this off as a dress. So I pinned it up to tunic length and it works. Took the scissors and lopped off 6 inches at CF and CB, cutting a gradual shirt-tail hem at the sides. Much better in my opinion. 

A dress of this style on me would have to have some waist definition, I think. But I love love love the collar on this pattern.


I sewed up Butterick 6208 for grand-daughter Hannah in a purple and white dotted quilting cotton and mailed it to her, so no pictures yet. I raised the opening as I knew it would hit too low for her. She is right on the cusp between girls' patterns and women's and none of the girls' patterns appeal to her. She chose this one and fortunately it came in a range of sizes from size 6 to 14. I cut the size 6 for her and took in 1 inch through the bust as she is a very slender 13-year-old. She told me she loves it.

Her mother hinted broadly that she would love one in the same colour as the pattern illustration, so I just returned from Fabricville where I bought 2.5 metres of cotton lawn in that very shade. This will be a surprise for her, she is such a wonderful daughter that I want to make something for her that she really wants. She is a bit of a fashion plate, despite having 7 kids to look after, and she is dark haired with olive skin so this coral will work on her.

Hopefully there will be some pictures of these garments on real people soon. Getting pictures is a real problem, mainly because I hate taking photos of myself. Yup, self image problems for sure.

Keeping track of the fabric inventory:

Purchased  2.5 metres coral cotton lawn
                  1.7 metres pink cotton gingham

Sewed up  2.5 metres cotton seersucker

Running total for the year - purchased  35.1 metres
                                       - sewn up   29.1 metres

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Keeping Track

Keeping track of fabric purchases and how much gets sewn up.

Since I last kept record, I have bought 9 yards (=8.2 metres) of fabric in Joanne's, Bangor Maine, 2.5 metres of cotton shirting at Fabricville, 2 metres of quilting cotton at Fabricville, Halifax and 3.5 metres of shirting cotton from Blackbird Fabrics in Vancouver.

Total purchased =  16.2 metres

Sewn up:

-  Silhouette Classic shirt in rayon from Black Bird Fabrics  -  1.8 metres
-  muslin of McCalls 6696 in pink chambray from the stash -  3 metres
-  3 dresses for grand-daughter Hannah using up 7.5 metres
-  shirt in previous post  - 2 metres

for a total of  14.3 metres

Uh, still accumulating more than I am making up.

Running total for 2016:   30.9  metres of fabric purchased
                                     26.6 metres sewn up