I could not get the Flintstones theme song out of my head when sewing these pants. I’m sorry if this song gets stuck in your head, too, because we all know earworms spread like the common cold. I could talk earworms all day—good ones (thanks Queen), bad ones (eff you Styx)—but we’re here to talk pants.
Have I mentioned that I like making shirts? 😜 This is my fourth Grainline Archer Button Up. I should branch out with another women’s shirt pattern, but I honestly don’t know if I will. This workhorse of a pattern puts me in my comfort zone, in a good way.
Are you familiar? I mainly use ’em to clean up marks on the walls, but I recently learned of another amazing use: CLEANING THE IRON.
A stubborn mystery fabric had gunked up my iron pretty badly, and in a fit of desperation, I took to the rabbit hole of internet forums for help. Bless your heart, commenter DLM2000. Not only does the Magic Eraser work like a charm, but it’s also waaaay cheaper than toxic-smelling iron cleaner that runs $20 bucks a tube. Try it out next time your iron’s due for a cleaning!
Now for the main attraction. I bought this lightweight striped knit with the intention of copying a swingy, tent-like RTW shirt I wear frequently. But tracing a knit top with wonky design lines turned out to be a little more complicated than I’d anticipated, so I decided to go with a tried-and-true shape that I know works for me: the Plantain Tee. (See versions 1 and 2.)
This time around, I added fullness to the back of the shirt using this Grainline tutorial. I then cut the back into four separate pattern pieces and added seam allowances. I sewed the whole shirt up on my serger and used a twin needle for the hems.
As you can see, I love me some stripe interplay. For the sleeves, I went with this above-the-elbow length, which is great for this “transitional” weather we’ve been having in Chicago. #optimistic
I don’t have too much else to say that I haven’t already covered in previous posts. As far as free sewing patterns go, this one’s a winner.
Are you good at sewing basics? With Me Made May coming up, I could use a boost in the basics department. Speaking of Me Made May—who’s in?! I still need to pledge…
Purely. Gratuitous. Sewing. That’s what I did when I had the apartment to myself for a couple days over holiday break, and it felt amazing. Did I need to make this By Hand London Anna dress? Not quite.
Sure, I’m considering using this pattern to sew a bridesmaid dress for a wedding in the fall, but that’s more than 10 months away. I did, however, really want a break from sewing Christmas gifts and practical clothes, and Anna turned out to be just what I needed to get my sewjo back. (Sorry not sorry for using that frankenword.)
Construction was simple but time-consuming, since I opted to hand sew a lot of the finishes. Here’s how I finished the guts:
Blind slipstitched the armholes and leg slit
Catch stitched the hem
Pinked the facing and waist seam
French seamed the skirt panels and shoulder seams
Frenching the seams and hand-sewing the hems took quite a bit of patience, but I’m really pleased with the outcome. Plus it was nice to have something to do with my hands while binge-watching Making a Murderer.
As for fit, the bodice is pretty snug. I’m not sure if I lost some inches with lackadaisical french seaming, or if I could stand to go up a size. I cut a straight size 10 (I’m a 36 bust with broad shoulders), and I’ll probably go with that size when I sew this up for a for-real bridesmaid dress. Edit: I should note that this material has a bit of stretch, which definitely helps. I think it’s a poly charmeuse?… I honestly can’t remember, I picked it up for $5/yard from Vogue fabrics in Evanston.
I’ll generously call this a wearable muslin, although I’m not sure where I’ll wear it. I finished Anna in time to bring her to the Wisconsin Dells for New Year’s Eve, but my rational side won out and I left her at home. She might have been JUST SLIGHTLY out-of-place at the steak house we went to for NYE dinner.
It pains me to say it, since the floor length makes this dress pretty glam, but I might shorten her to wear in the spring and summer. I’m sure I’ll make up for the drama with the bridesmaid dress in the fall.
Have any of you made a bridesmaid or wedding dress? Tell me your secrets!
Some sewing projects are a labor of love. Maybe you take extra care cutting a slippery fabric (rayon spandex: I’m lookin’ at you), or maybe you take the time to hand sew an invisible hem. For me, button-up shirts and silly, time-consuming Halloweencostumes fall into the Labor of Love category. If you’re Morgan from Crab & Bee, your sister’s insanely gorgeous wedding dress falls into that category. If there’s an award for Sewing Goddess of the Year, Morgan deserves it. I don’t even want to know how many hours she put into conceptualizing, pattern hacking, and sewing that two-piece gown. All I know is that It. Paid. Off.
But, life is full of ebbs and flows. Sometimes literally: This week, my apartment flooded during a flash flood, but then I got a haircut I really like. See?! For every action there’s a reaction. Yin and Yang. Fire and Water. Easy and Hard. For every painstaking sewing project we put ourselves through, there is another satisfying, easy-peasy one waiting in the wings.
And that’s where the Inari Tee Dress dress comes in. I spotted this loose-fitting dress over on Heather’s blog and immediately fell in love. I’d been meaning to try a Named Patterns garment for awhile now, and their take on the tee dress is just so chic. It’s got a cocoon silhouette that just skims the body, a split hem (cue googly eyes) that’s slightly longer in back, and sleeves with a permanently rolled up effect. Basically, this thing is crying out for Madewell-style knockoffs from the sewing world. (It’s our DUTY, people.)
The Inari Tee Dress, which is a 2-for-1 pattern that also includes a crop tee option, calls for woven fabric or knit fabric with “slight stretch.” Since I wanted to do a test version before I cut into my precious tencel denim, I decided to do some serious stash-busting. The gray fabric is leftover from my Sallie romper, and the blue knit is leftover from a tank top I made for Marc and a knit Scout. It definitely has more than some “slight” stretch. To accommodate for this, I sewed the US size 8 with 1″ side seam allowances (grading to 1/2″ at the armhole) instead of the prescribed 3/8″. Anything more fitted might be venturing into bodycon, which would not be in keeping with the pattern’s slouchy, effortless style.
Even now, the material clings a LOT, especially when you’re in the midst of a wind gust. Despite its clinginess, I love this dress and have already worn it a few times. The drafting of the knit neckband is pretty spot on (no gaping to speak of!) and construction was a breeze. I used my walking foot, a lightning bolt stitch, and ballpoint needle to sew everything together. To hem the bottom, I just used a simple zigzag stitch, flipping to a longer straight stitch at the side vents. Next time, I’ll understitch the rolled-up accent on the sleeve to keep the seam on the inside, and I’ll probably use a facing instead of a knit neckband when I sew this up in a woven.
The Morris Blazer was an impulse buy. It went something like this: 1). Jen announced the Morris Blazer on the Grainline Studio blog on April 21. 2). By 10:30 a.m. that day, I’d already purchased and printed out the PDF. Don’t get me wrong: I would’ve eventually bought the pattern anyway. But in the instant-gratification world of PDF sewing patterns, I generally try to read other folks’ reviews and determine how much I’d wear it before clicking purchase. It’s for my bank account. (And my social life. And my sanity.)
That tactic fell by the wayside this time, though, since I was a total goner when I set eyes on Morris. I own two blazers, back from the time when my 9–5 occasionally required it. Those Banana Republic jackets do the trick when I need to look professional, but they scream STUFFY. Morris, on the other hand, has a modern, cropped cut, and it’s designed for stretch wovens—cha-ching! I ordered some natural-colored stretch twill at $3.50/yard from Fabric.com with every intention of making a muslin as soon as I got the fabric.
Fast-forward four months later, and I finally got to work on it. Apparently the dog days of summer are when I decide it’s appropriate to sew a blazer. The humidity must be slowly killing what’s left of my rational brain cells. Anywho, here’s the nitty gritty:
Modifications: added 2″ to the body and 1.5″ to the sleeves at the lengthen/shorten lines
Fabric: medium-heavyweight stretch cotton twill with 10% stretch across the grain and great recovery (I think it’s got about 2% Lycra, though it’s not available on Fabric.com anymore so I’m not certain)
Interfacing: Omitted (GASPGASPGASP). Since this was supposed to be a quick muslin, I didn’t bother running out to buy the necessary tricot fusible interfacing. Luckily, the fabric is weighty enough that it doesn’t look too droopy or stretched out along the hems—yet. I’m hoping it won’t bag out, but only time will tell.
Construction: I followed the pattern directions and referred to Jen’s sew along. That was especially helpful when attaching the facing, since that step was a little confusing to me in the pattern directions.
Finishing: I used a zig-zag stitch to finish all the inner seams, but then I decided that Hong Kong seams would look baller on the back and side seams. I luuuuurve them. The bias strips are self-made using some leftover floral cotton.
I wore this blazer (in air conditioning) all night and it was supremely comfortable. I’m kicking myself for waiting so long to make it, since summer is “almost over” and only now did I decide to sew an off-white blazer. Instead of wallowing in poor-timing sorrow, I’ll leave you with two questions (and a dumb photo shoot outtake):
Have you ever tried the Hong Kong seam finish?
Is the whole No White After Labor Day thing an evil, evil lie?
The intro of this post was going to be different. It was going to be about how this is dress is not a timely make. It’s midsummer where I live and floral dresses—especially ones with sleeves—belong in early spring. It’d go on to talk about how I’ve struggled with managing my sewing queue and keeping up a good pace the past few months—why, I’m not sure yet. An active summer social life? Watching more movies and cooking more dinners and doing more YouTube yoga? Maybe.
But instead of delving into possibly existential topics, I’m going to talk about how I only just realized that Fabric.com shipped me the wrongfabric for this Colette Laurel dress. And I made the thing without even realizing it. I’ve never been the most observant person, but I don’t think I’m completely oblivious. (I hope.) Here, you be the judge:
Months ago, after going back and forth about which Kaffe Fasset floral to buy, I finally settled on this one. What I got was this one. I mean, a floral’s a floral, right? They all look alike?! She says with a crazed look in her eye. Luckily, I really love the mistake fabric. Just like my parents love my little brother. (Just kidding, mom. We know you wanted three kids all along. Wink wink.)
Fabric-confusion aside, this dress was really fun to sew.
The size 8 muslin I sewed was pretty roomy, so I sewed a straight 6 this time around. I could get the muslin on and off easily without unzipping it, so I decided to omit the zipper on this dress. I also ended up interlining the fashion fabric with cotton batiste to eliminate any transparency. This was my first time interlining, and it went relatively smoothly save for a little bit of fabric pooling in the front.
Here’s the laundry list of changes I made to the pattern and during construction:
Slashed the pattern at the neck to fix a slightly gaping neckline using a Fashion Sewing Blog tutorial (Colleen G. Lea you are a goddess)
Lowered the bust darts by 1/2″
Lowered the back darts by 1″
Added 2″ at the lengthen/shorten lines
Widened the seam allowance a bit at the natural waist for more definition
Sewed a 1.5″ hem instead of 2″
Eliminated the back zipper
Sewed a keyhole back using a tutorial from the free Laurel extras PDF download
The pattern calls for more hand sewing than I’m used to, with slipstitches to secure the bias tape at the sleeves and a catch-stitched hem. I’m slowly but surely coming around to appreciate hand stitching. It’ll be a slow burn, I’m sure. My favorite detail on the whole shebang is the keyhole back, which serves the dual purpose of looking cute and making it slightly easier to get in and out of the dress since I made it sans zipper. Form and function wins out!
I love my little mistake dress, but I know I should’ve gotten around to making it earlier. Has anyone else been sewing seasonally inappropriate stuff? Tell me all your dirty sewing secrets.
P.S. I’m still going to wear the hell out of this dress on summer days below 80º F. B-)
This shirt makes me happy for so many reasons. No other piece of clothing has given me the chance to say the word octopi or the phrase yes, its a very octopussy shirt so many times. I’m also ecstatic to get this out of my queue, since I’d been staring at 3 beautiful yards of cotton lawn octopi for far too long.
Ever since I successfully made an Archer for myself, Marc’s been asking for a short-sleeve shirt of his own. I settled on Negroni by Colette Patterns after seeing Lladybird’s version, so next came the fun/tricky part: finding the ideal fabric. I’ve had decent luck with Fabric.com, whose selection led both Marc and me to the octopi fabric, surprising since—while I loved it—I thought it might be a little too loud for his taste. I guess you don’t really know someone until you go virtual fabric shopping with them.
When it came to sewing, I added 2″ to the lengthen/shorten lines, and then made a muslin to test the fit. Marc’s 6’2″ and slim, and the medium fit him great in the body. It turns out I didn’t need to add the length after all, so technically the medium fit him right out of the package. Oh, men. Your lack of hip curves and boobs makes fitting so much easier.
Here are the few changes I made to the final product:
Used self fabric for the facing, since the “lightweight” fusible interfacing I used on the muslin seemed miiiighty bulky. The Negroni has a pretty wide facing, but this cotton lawn is lightweight enough to feel comfortable while still providing some stability for the buttonholes and buttons. I fused the collar per the instructions, since a little extra stiffness there is fine.
Omitted one pocket and sewed it without the flap.
Omitted the collar loop. I think it would’ve made the Octopi look smug, or something.
The sleeves came out pretty long when hemmed per the instructions, but Marc rolls most of his sleeves so the extra length isn’t a big deal. I cannot stress enough how much I love this Cotton and Steel Tokyo Train Ride fabric (also available in a few other colorways). It sewed like a dream, and the shirt is super soft yet crisp enough to hold its shape. Plus OCTOPI FOR DAYS! They’re so cute that I don’t even care that the yoke is horribly pattern matched. (I was running out of fabric, so certain octopi look like mutants with a bajillion tentacles.) I’ve already seen this material popping up all over Instagram, and I can’t wait to see what other folks are making with it!
And now, back to sewing myself a few things. My half-finished floral Laurel is currently crying out for attention on my ironing board, so that’ll be next. How about you? Sewn anything for a friend or S.O. lately?