Tag: sewing: tops

Full disclosure: This fabric was gifted to me by Minerva.com in exchange for a blog post on their site. It can be found right here.

Had to take a mini-break from sewing due to a fractured coccyx that made it difficult to sit for long periods of time, but I’ve figured out a sewing setup that works – involving pillows, donut cushions, and a different chair – so I’m back at the machines!

And I’m loving it. Especially this new make. The Be Adventurous pattern is by Ellie and Mac; I’ve made several of theirs and have always been satisfied with the results. I usually have to grade between sizes, but my measurements fall into a straight XXL with E&M. I cut the tunic length knowing it would be near dress length because of my height, and it worked out fine.

It’s a straightforward pattern, so for me, fabric choice was everything. This medium-weight scuba crepe worked fantastically well – I love big prints, plus the texture is lovely and the fabric has a heavy drape that’s just beautiful. It swishes fantastically! I tried to take a video but gave up after several failed attempts.

This is another fabric that gathers with ease, and stays in place while you sew it – I had no trouble placing the gathers and even on the serger I had no issues keeping said gathers where I wanted them while sewing the seam.

I debated for a while on whether or not to hem – the fabric cut very clean and there, of course, was zero fraying, but in the end I went for a single-fold twin-needled hem so the sleeves and the ruffle would match.

All-in-all, I love this. I’ll wear it all winter with leggings and all summer with… well, leggings. I’m not all about the bare knees, even when the weather is warm.

Hmm… now what do I make next?

Catch-All Finished! Handmade Sewing

Well, I’m spending today and tomorrow in self-isolation. My symptoms were enough to send me for testing but not enough to keep me bedridden, so I sewed make #6 for 2021 out of a couple of yards of quilting cotton I’ve had in the stash for a while.

I have a ton of cotton, really. It’s 90% of what’s available locally plus it’s just so easy to sew. Since I tossed and reorganised my stash I’ve confirmed that I have a lot of nice prints hiding away in bins, and I think those prints should be hauled out and used. I have a lot of patterns that are suitable for woven cotton so I won’t have trouble figuring out what to do with it all.

So! This is Bianca by Made by Rae. It comes in both a dress and top length and now that I’ve made one I know I need to make the other. I like that there’s a choice between an elastic casing and shirring – even if I absolutely cheated and used neither, instead sewing the elastic directly to the wrong side of the bodice, stretching as I went. I do have elastic thread; one of these days I should get around to trying it out.

I mostly ignored the instructions, but I mean… what else is new. I generally put things together in the order they’re supposed to be put together but I don’t tend to follow instructions down to the letter. As long as things come out well it’s all good, right? Right.

Catch-All Finished! Handmade Sewing

Full disclosure: This fabric was gifted to me by Minerva.com in exchange for a blog post on their site. It can be found right here.

Flamingos in the middle of winter? Sure, why not. They keep me from forgetting that snow-town doesn’t last all year, and that warmer weather will come around again eventually.

And this is definitely a warm-weather fabric, at least without layering. It’s a softer-than-expected viscose challis with a wonderful crinkly texture and tons of drape. It likes to shift more than the stable wovens I’m used to working with, but I found that careful pressing and a few extra pins took care of that. I sewed just a little more slowly than my usual million-miles-an-hour, and both my sewing machine and serger had no problems with the fabric at all.

I feel like this fabric would make an excellent summer maxi skirt or long dress. It has the kind of flow that’d be lovely on something of that length, though it’s just a bit sheer so a lining would probably be ideal. I’ll absolutely take this top to the beach in a few months, but for now, adding leggings, boots, and a cardigan will be the way to go. Maybe even a long-sleeved top underneath, as well, for those particularly frosty Canadian mornings.

I’ve made this pattern – Made By Rae Trillium top – before, but always out of stiffer fabric, and this is a pleasantly soft interpretation. The few little pleats are less defined and the peplum drapes closer to the body than in other versions. The pattern includes both a top and dress version, with cap sleeves or without, and has recently been expanded to include plus sizing from 1-5, up to a 59″ bust and hip. Pattern sizing put me in an XL graded to a 1, but ease in the peplum meant I could sew a straight XL and have it work out.

My new flamingo top is headed straight into my wardrobe rotation, and tonight I’ll be dreaming of sunshine and my bare feet in the sand.

Catch-All Finished! Handmade Sewing

Somehow I keep getting behind on posting my makes here. Not sure why I don’t do it at the same time as Instagram – probably because Insta is so easy, and tends to get more engagement. But! Of course I’ve been sewing.

I’m not much for New Year’s resolutions, but I did decide that I’d like to work on sewing the patterns that I already own but have yet to make. There’ll be plenty of time for TNTs and even new patterns, but I have quite a backlog of patterns that I keep meaning to sew.

So right now I’m on a five-day vacation, and I’m making it a sewcation. I’ve sewn two tops and a skirt in two days, and now on day three I’m working on a dress.

Both tops are Ashton by Helen’s Closet, and I’ve found a new favourite woven shell pattern. It fits my smaller top half coupled with larger bottom half quite well, and I like that the fabric at the shoulders isn’t a thinner strap. I prefer something that aligns closer with ‘sleeveless’ rather than ‘tank top’. Either way, I’m sure there’ll be more of these, and I’m anxious to try out the sleeve expansion as well. Those tulip sleeves!

My first try was in quilting cotton, and the second, this blue one, is in a mystery fabric from an unlabelled bolt in an out-of-town fabric shop. It’s light, semi-sheer, and has a bit of texture with a lovely fluid drape. The colour is amazing and I love the print, too. I anticipate this one getting a lot of wear.

Next up is a Megan Nielsen Veronika Curve skirt. I love circle skirts, but for the longest time I thought I couldn’t wear them. Turns out all I needed was to make them a bit longer, as knee-length doesn’t quite work for me. I’ve made a few in the past, but this is the first one without an elastic waist – and therefore, also the first one with an invisible zipper. I may actually have invented new curse words while inserting it, but it’s done. Not quite invisible, but I’ll chalk that up to a learning experience and do better on the next one.

Really like the shape of this, though, now that I’ve gotten the length right, and how it falls. There’s a version with beautiful scalloped pockets, and that’s going right on the to-sew list as well. I feel like it needs a solid or semi-solid colour, though, and that’s not something I have a lot of in my stash.

Oh no, I might have to go fabric shopping. What a shame.

Catch-All Finished! Handmade Sewing

Do not adjust your monitor – my newest Page hoodie really is that bright. It’s a cold, dark month, so I’ll do whatever I can to brighten my life. If that means making my own sunshine, that’s what I’ll do.

I’ve made a bunch of Page hoodies at this point, but this is the first time I left the length as drafted rather than lengthening it, and I kinda love it. I thought it had a good chance of looking terrible on me, but it’s cute, instead. It helps, in this case, that I’m so short, because it comes down a few inches past my waist.

I’m tempted to go back and shorten some of the Pages I’ve already made.

I used the same yellow jersey for all parts of the hoodie, including the cuffs and hem bands and the inside of the hood. Sometimes I wish I had a local source for coordinating rib knit, but even having solid-coloured jersey available at the shop in town is something new.

Also, I screwed up the grommets. I placed the first one too far up the hood, and then had to make the second to match. Oh well. It won’t be noticeable except if I point it out. And I do love the braided rainbow cord that I used for the hood drawstrings.

Catch-All Finished! Handmade Sewing

I just shared my first post at Minerva.com – I’m delighted to be a new member of their Maker team! Full disclosure: the Liberty of London Tana Cotton Lawn was gifted to me by Minerva in exchange for a blog post on their site, most of which I’m also sharing here now.

I may possibly have made an embarrassingly high-pitched sound when the parcel came, and I may possibly have made a lot of ‘ooo’ noises when I opened it. It’s light, smooth, and even silky. It’s just a touch crisp but with a lovely, almost fluid drape; I love cotton and cotton blends and sew with them all the time, but the quality of this fabric is miles above what I’m used to. Featherweight fabrics can sometimes be a challenge but this was a dream to sew.

Even the gathering, which is something I don’t tend to enjoy, wasn’t a problem because the fabric was so easy to manipulate and to evenly spread out the fullness.

I knew, for this, that I didn’t want to take a chance on a new pattern. I wanted to sew something that I’ve sewn before, something that I knew I’d wear over and over. I chose Chalk and Notch’s Fringe dress – I’ve made it several times and, amazingly, it fits my under-five-foot self without a ton of adjustments. All I need to do is shorten the bodice by two inches and I’m ready to go.

I’m a fan of Chalk and Notch patterns in general. There are only a few left I haven’t made, and I tend to sew them repeatedly because I’m always pleased with the results. The Fringe has two views to choose from, and either can be made as a blouse or a dress. There’s quite a bit of built-in ease – and if you’re like me, too much ease isn’t always preferable – so do check the finished measurements along with the body measurements to choose a size.

My body measurements fall into the size 20 but I sewed a 16. I usually do view A, but this time, for something just a little different, I went with view B.

And I love it. It’s light and airy and beautiful, and the fabric feels wonderful against my skin. It’ll be nicely cool when summer comes around again, but I’m not about to wait for that – leggings and a cardigan, or long-sleeved tee underneath, will make it a year-round dress. It’s definitely my favourite Fringe so far.

Fringe wasn’t the only Chalk and Notch pattern I sewed this week: I also made a new (slightly hacked) Page hoodie. I’ve wanted to make a sweatshirt with a lace overlay for months but couldn’t decide on a colour. I found this soft dusty green at the local fabric shop – 95% of their stock is quilting cotton but they’re starting to bring in small amounts of basic apparel fabric as well – and thought it would be perfect.

I used the length from the drawstring hem but the band from the other view, and I also cut the sleeves to elbow length and gathered them in to the cuff meant for long sleeves. The hood was going to be the same as the front but I thought I could get away with two layers of lace, instead, and I do really love how it looks. I love the whole hoodie, really, and – of course – I’m thinking about making another one. In a darker or brighter colour, this time, for a different kind of contrast.

And now I need to sit down at the machines again and finish a hot pink cat-print (yes) dress so I can take photos before the sun goes down.

Catch-All Finished! Handmade Sewing

We’re expecting 20 to 30 cm of snow late tonight and into tomorrow, but this morning was not quite chilly enough to keep me from taking photos of recent makes.

First up is a Love Notions Melody Dolman. Look, I sewed a collar! Camp-style, so on the lower end of complicated, but still – a collar. And my one-step automatic buttonhole thing on my sewing machine decided to behave, too.

I started off with a size XL for the shoulders and bust, blended to an XXL for the waist and hips. I also – of course – cut a couple inches off the hem. No other modifications… oh, wait, actually, I didn’t follow the button guide. It was laid out in such a way that there would have been a gap between buttons right over my bust, so I added a sixth button and recalculated the distance between each so I’d have a button in the right place.

The fabric is quilting cotton. I sew with it quite frequently – it’s all I can get locally, aside from a few solid-coloured cotton/lycra knits, but besides that, there are tons of great prints that don’t come in other fabrics. I’ll never quite understand the “quilting cotton is unsuitable for garments” mindset, because I’ve had a ton of fun sewing all kinds of printed cottons into all kinds of different items of clothing.

Next up! An Ellie and Mac Everday Tee. I sewed a straight XXL, shortened by almost five inches. Really like the fit of this tee – the scoop neckline, the dolman sleeves, the high-low curved hem.

The fabric was kind of a bitch to sew, though. It’s a very thin rayon/spandex knit that my sewing machine and serger both really wanted to eat. The twin-needle hems I sewed tunneled like crazy, and it’s definitely noticeable in the photo.

Next time I should probably use a stabiliser under the fabric – I’ve never done that before, but then again, I’ve never sewn with something quite so thin, insanely stretchy, and shifty. I found it in a fabric shop about an hour from here, in a bin of mixed knits that were rolled into balls and sold by the pound. (I also found some fantastic cuts of spandex and stretch lace that I’ve been sewing into dance leotards and leggings, but that’s another post…)

Third make is a Chalk and Notch Fringe Blouse with puffins! Quilting cotton, again. I sewed a size 16 with zero mods – I love how well Chalk and Notch patterns fit me right off the printer. A 16 is a couple sizes smaller than my body measurements say I should make, but there’s a bit more ease in the pattern than I prefer for my own clothing so I sized down, as I usually do.

I really should make the other view of the Fringe one of these days. I made one ages ago but I’ve stuck to the button-front since then. Fake button-front, I should say, because if I can get the garment on over my head without undoing the buttons you’d better believe that’s going to be a non-functional placket.

No, I’m not a lazy sewist – why do you ask?

One more make to go, and then I’ll throw myself back into my studio.

Last one for the post is a Made by Rae Trillium top. I love this pattern, and I love this whale-print fabric, and I think they look great together. I pondered sizing a lot and ended up going with an XL – it’s a bit snug, but my weight has been trending downward lately so maybe it’ll be okay. It’s still pretty and wearable.

Trillium really is one of my favourite patterns. It’s a good shape for me, and fits without adjustments. I can’t wait until the expansion pack – with different sleeves and necklines and pussy bows – is released for the updated pattern size range.

Speaking of favourites, I think the Art Gallery cotton I used for this might become one. I’m used to standard-quality stuff, I guess, so when I get my hands on the good stuff I tend to make all kinds of ‘ooo’ noises while pressing, cutting, and sewing. It’s cool and smooth and feels almost silky, in a way.

And that’s that.

On a final note, I’m super-excited to mention that I got an invitation to join Minerva.com’s Maker team! My first fabric arrived last week and it’s on this weekend’s list of projects. It’s a special fabric, too, so I’m doubly excited.

Back to the sewing machines.

Catch-All Finished! Handmade Sewing

Still coming right along with Me Made May. Today’s choice is a brand new Springfield top that I sewed just this morning. Cupcake fabric, just because. Nobody will ever accuse me of being mature for my age, and I’m just fine with that.

This time I went down a size in the bust, to a 20 E/F, but graded out to the same size as last time in waist and hips and I’m pleased with the fit. It doesn’t gap under the arms anymore and covers my bra better.

It’s such a fast project – took me about two hours start to finish, with a break in the middle to drive my latest foster cat to her new forever home.

I don’t talk it about it often on here, but I’m involved with animal shelters & rescue and have been for around a decade. I’ve fostered dozens and dozens of cats, from bottle babies right up to senior kitties. I haven’t been able to do it recently because of the pandemic situation, but I’ve spent years taking photos of adoptable cats – and sometimes dogs, too. It’s difficult at times but so, so rewarding.

I wonder if I should start posting some rescue photos here. Hmm. I also wonder what I should sew next – another Webster (looks like I forgot to post the first one here) or the Holyoke I’ve been planning for months.

Catch-All Finished! Fur for Brains Handmade Sewing

So Me Made May is in full swing and I’m pleased to be participating this year. I’ve actually managed, thus far, to keep up with photographing my daily outfits and putting them on Instagram, and I’ve really enjoyed seeing everyone else’s makes, too.

Most of the things I’m wearing this month have been made over the past year, but of course I’ve got to sneak in a few new ones as well. Like this Springfield that I made a few days ago. Please excuse my “selfie in the rain” face and focus on the top, which turned out cute as hell (in my opinion, of course).

As far as alterations, I had to raise the bust dart by an inch (standard for me with Cashmerette), and I graded from a 22 E/F to a 24 at the waist/hip. I’m contemplating going down to a 20 E/F for the bust – and still grading the same for waist/hip – next time, because I find it sags some under the arms. I like tops to be rather fitted in the bust. Thankfully Cashmerette has great finished measurements charts to make choosing a size easier.

And that brings me to a bit of a gripe, even though I’m pretty sure I’ve said it before. It drives me absolutely bonkers when I cannot access finished measurements for any given pattern. It’s likely because I’m so short and round, but I find clothing with too much ease, while looking great on taller people, makes me look just… sloppy, I guess. I don’t like the way I look or feel when there’s a ton of ease. Finished measurements charts are therefore gold to me, because going by my measurements alone is often not enough.

A good example is Springfield – my measurements technically put me in a 26 waist/hip, but I find that the 24 waist/hip fits with the amount of ease that I like when I’m working with wovens that don’t have a lot of drape. I was exactly in-between the bust measurement for the 22 E/F and 20 E/F – I rounded up, but it turns out I probably should have rounded down.

And I just realised I grouched about this in my very last post. Oops.

Next time, in addition to sizing, I’m likely going to narrow the neckline a bit. I find the straps a little thin when it comes to hiding a bra, and wider straps will also make it a little more work appropriate – less of a tank top vibe.

Back to the sewing machine I go.

Catch-All Finished! Handmade Sewing

The sewing streak continues with a 5 out of 4 Josephine sweatshirt in a really nice french terry with jersey cuffs/collar. It only took a couple of hours – I’m always so amazed at how quickly knits come together as compared to wovens.

No issues with the pattern – it was a 2x bust graded to a 3x waist and hip, though the resulting sweatshirt fits slimmer than I would have expected for something labelled ‘relaxed fit’.

And now, a mini-gripe. Why do some designers not put finished measurements anywhere in their patterns? It drives me around the bend. I get that designers put a specific amount of ease into their patterns, but I’d like to know finished measurements to help me choose a size. When you’re super-short and curvy, it’s not always as simple as ‘my measurements say x size’, and it’s a pain in the arse to have to measure the pattern pieces and attempt to figure out final dimensions.

But enough of that. I’m pleased with the sweatshirt. Not sure what’s next in the sewing queue – I finished an airplane-print Estuary skirt yesterday but have yet to take a photo. Or rather, have yet to take a photo that I like. I took a few outside in the shade but they ended up too washed out to see the skirt much at all. Will have to try again this afternoon once there’s a bit of shade. Right now it’s all bright sun, and as much as that’s lovely to lie around in it’s not great for photos.

Note to self: change lenses before you take more photos. Your 85mm f/1.8 is a better portrait lens than your 50mm f/1.8.

Catch-All Finished! Handmade Sewing