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Category: pattern reviews

pretty and pink: mccall’s 7573

A couple weeks ago, I talked a little bit about trends: following them, wearing them, and making them work for your lifestyle. For me, 2017 feels like the year of detailed trends. There isn’t necessarily one single item everyone is lusting after (except maybe an off-the-shoulder top); instead, it’s specific details and fabrics like interesting sleeves and gingham and embroidery. The gingham trend makes me especially happy, because it happens to be one of my favorite prints. It’s so classic and fresh and perfect for spring and summer. Ruffles are also all over the place, on sleeves and tops and skirts and jackets and everything in between. It’s another trend I really like, but it’s easy to get carried away and go overboard with it. That’s why I was immediately smitten with this new pattern, McCall’s 7573. The ruffle is so delicate and ladylike, and I’m particularly fond of the option with the yoke, view D, which is what I made. We all can’t rock off-the-shoulder tops, so this is a fantastic option if you’re less inclined to show a lot of skin like I am. Plus, you might even be able to get away with it on casual Friday at the office with a denim pencil skirt and flats.

Linen isn’t listed on the pattern envelope as a suggested fabric, but I knew it would work. There’s more body in linen than a crepe de chine or gauze, which is one of the reasons I picked it for this pattern. I wanted something that would show off the ruffle a little better, and it happens to be one of my favorite fabrics to wear in spring and summer (and this one isn’t a blend, it’s 100% linen). I also loved the idea of this bigger scale gingham because it pairs nicely with the big shape of the pattern pieces. This fabric was a wholesale purchase I made back when I was in business. I bought every yard they had, so it’s sold out. It came from Fashion Fabrics Club.

This is a very easy project to sew, and I made it in a day. I didn’t change a thing about the pattern, but I did cut one size smaller than I normally do which was the right call. The only tricky part about this top is making big motions with your arms. Raise them too far over your head and the whole blouse goes with you. The seam around the body and shoulders where the ruffle is sewn is why this happens. My advice? Don’t do jumping jacks in this one.

Otherwise, this sweet little top could not be more comfortable. The day I took these photos, I also photographed a fitted dress, and I was so much more comfortable after I changed into this outfit. The top is nice and billowy without being a tent, and it’s easy to put on and take off.

Eventually, it will be too hot to wear jeans here in Texas and when it is, I think this top will be lovely with shorts or a short denim skirt. Right now, it makes for the perfect transition piece with skinny or boyfriend jeans. I’d like to make this top again and, when I do, I think I’ll lengthen it into a dress. Wouldn’t that be darling?!

I made my own bias tape using my fabric and I sewed it down on my machine, instead of slip stitching it by hand. it was easier and I think it looks a little more polished.

Very happy with this little top, and I look forward to making it again. Now, I’m off to sew some dresses. Have a great week!

one pattern, three ways: mccall’s 7163 (and a tutorial)

This may come as a surprise, but I love trends. I love following them, I love watching the industry evolve and grow, and I enjoy watching the somewhat predictable cycles of styles go in and out of fashion (flared jeans are coming back, you guys!). The trick with “trends” is making the ones you really like work for you. Some trends are worth figuring out for yourself because they’re that fun or cute, and some are here and gone so fast–usually because they’re terrible–that all we really need to do is watch them crash and burn. (Anyone remember the ridiculous exaggerated shoulders and epaulettes on jackets a few years ago? Or the huge monograms on handbags that were around for a second one season? Yeah, either you have no idea or you do remember because they were so absurd.)

In college, I took a fashion forecasting course (one of my favorites), and that class had an immersive component to it where we studied in Paris and London one summer. (It happened to be the summer that Yves Saint Laurent died. We were in Paris the day of his funeral, and a couple of us braved the crowds to get as close as we could to the cathedral for the service. We watched Valentino and Armani walk right by us. I will never forget that day, but that’s a post for another time.) Being in Paris and London and studying in real time and up close what was happening in street wear and in the shop windows there was incredibly interesting. The next big thing in trends usually hits the European market before it finds us in the US, and there’s usually some clues about what’s going to happen next if you watch closely enough.

This year, we’re seeing a few different things as far as trends go, but sleeves are a big, big trend (the more interesting and detailed, the better), and off-the-shoulder, ruffled blouses are everywhere. Everywhere. I happen to like this trend, because it’s a nice alternative to silly tank tops and it’s a fun option for warm weather. The more billowy the top, the more air is able to flow around you. Plus, they’re cute and anyone can wear them. I thought I’d give this trend a spin, and in my search for a pattern came across a pattern from the McCall’s catalog that is a few seasons old, but no less adorable or on trend.

I first made this pattern in a floral cotton sateen I had in my stash. I made a dress using the same fabric last summer, so this was a great use of what I had left over, plus it’s always nice to see a fabric more than once in a collection, and you know that’s what I’m all about when I sew. Instead of making changes to the pattern right away, I cut it as is, view D. Talk about an easy project!

the stash collection: vogue 9197

I’ve had so much fun this week. It’s always rewarding to have a group of projects finished and ready to show you. Sewing clothes can be quite a process, so it’s nice when it comes full circle. Today, I’m going to chat about this striped dress, a Vogue 9197 pattern, which is the last item I’m going to spotlight from the stash collection. The other two items, the denim skirt and white popover blouse (Vogue 1486 an Butterick 5997, respectively) will have their day in the sun in the coming weeks. I’m working on another version of those items, so we’ll dedicate a blog post to each one when everything is ready.

Next week is a big week. I’m making a huge, blog-related announcement (it’s all I can do to not spill the beans right here and now!), and I’ve also got a tutorial to share and a fun “ideas” post for an upcoming collection. So, come back next week. Big things are happening!

Now, let’s talk about this dress. It’s another pattern repeat–you saw the first version back in December. Funny enough, that wasn’t even the first time I made this pattern. Last fall, when the pattern came out, I made it in a summery floral sateen with a self-drafted full circle skirt, and it remains one of my favorite pieces. The thing about this pattern is that it’s simple, versatile, and super, super flattering. The bodice is fitted with a French dart and a nice sleeve, and I appreciate the high neckline because it covers that pesky scar of mine on my lower neck. I love finding a pattern that fits well that can be translated into so many different dresses, and I went with this pattern again for this dress because I knew it would showcase the stripes in an interesting way.

I’ve had this striped sateen for something like a year and half, always having it in the back of my mind waiting for the project to fall into place. I decided to cut the bodice and sleeves with the stripes going horizontally with vertical stripes on the skirt. After playing with the fabric on the dress form, I thought it would be utterly fantastic to make this dress a maxi. You’ll notice that none of the dress is actually sewn yet. I like to pin pieces on the form to get an idea for print placement, and that’s what I was doing here. I loved the longer length, but once I actually cut the skirt pieces and attached them to the bodice, the idea didn’t translate. I tried it on and knew something was off, so I ended up ignoring it for a few days while I put my finger on what it was that bothered me so much.

I felt like the maxi length was dowdy and a little sad, so I took off about 18″ to make it midi length. To me, it feels much more youthful and fresh at that length. I’m still dreaming about a striped maxi dress though, so we’ll see what I can come up with this summer. For now, I’m pretty pleased with this cute little dress.

Before cutting the dress, I spent some time thinking about the stripe placement on the bodice. By having the navy stripe concentrated slightly above the bust, the eye goes there, which creates a nice visual–the stripes around the shoulders balance out the fullness of the skirt, and the waist is nicely cinched in. I think I could have brought the stripe down just a hair on the bodice. The white space across the bust gives the illusion of a fuller bust.

I did not use the skirt pattern from the envelope; instead, I cut three rectangles and sewed them together to make the skirt. That’s one thing that’s always, always bothered me about working with stripes: if you use a shaped skirt pattern, the print gets kind of wonky. I didn’t want that. I wanted the print on the skirt to remain vertical. I had about 2 1/4 yards of fabric left to use for the skirt, so I divided it evenly, cut it, and then sewed it just like I would a regular skirt piece. It’s a dirndl skirt, which is essentially a rectangular piece.

I used an invisible zipper and matched the stripe as closely as possible. Because it’s an uneven stripe with a painted effect, it’s next to impossible to get it to match perfectly but you can still get pretty close. To help insert my zipper in the right spot so the stripe matched, I used a double sided basting tape to hold the zipper in place. Basting works well too, but the tape is a little easier to work with. It doesn’t gum up your needle or sewing machine, and it washes out in the washing machine. Easy! (More on this tape and installing zippers later. If you’re interested in the tape, it’s called Wash Away Wonder Tape, by Dritz. Lifesaver!)

I’m happy with how well this dress turned out, but I’m even happier with the collection as a whole. The challenge of using stash fabrics to make this group of garments was a great way to start a new year. Now I’m looking forward to spring! See y’all next week!