I can’t believe I’m writing this: I officially love shirtmaking. I love choosing the perfect buttons. I love the careful pressing it takes to make an even button band. I love sewing a symmetrical pocket. I even love the topstitching.
I never thought I’d date a male model.
This dress came together in a very serendipitous way. I didn’t realize that the fabric and pattern would be a perfect match. I had no clue how it would look sans collar and buttons. But daggumit I went for it. And I love it.
I should know better than to sew a dress the day of a party. You could write a mathematical proof showing that impulse sewing directly increases your level of stress. But sometimes (who am I kidding, A LOT of the time) your fabric speaks to you.
You have a serger now it says. I’m a thick, sturdy knit it says. You’ve already sewn this pattern twice it says. And so I listened. I listened and that meant I was sewing on a neckband and finishing sleeves and the hem barely 90 minutes before folks walked through the door for my birthday party.
It wasn’t all so haphazard, though. If I’ve learned anything in three-ish years of sewing, it’s that a little planning goes a long way when it comes to the finished product—and your sanity. Here are some tips for a speedy sew:
Cut out multiple projects at once. I don’t know how I had the patience to cut out several different projects in one evening, but I did and this ponte double-knit floral dress was one of ’em. If only I’d gotten to sewing it before the morning of the party…
Pick a pattern you’ve already used. I knew this dress would fit without much fuss, as I’ve used Marcy Tilton’s Vogue 8904 pattern four times now. A long sleeveless dress with panels, short sleeveless dress with panels, long sleeveless V-neck hack for Cruella, and now the short version with sleeves and no panels. (I’d link to it but the Vogue site gives a 404 error when you click through—it might be out of print…?!?!)
Choose a fast sewing method. Sorry French seams and Hong Kong finishes! We’ll meet again some leisurely day. I used my SUPER FAST WONDERFUL serger for most of the construction of this dress and used the sewing machine to anchor the neckband and sew the hems.
Don’t rush the finishing touches. Listen, I know that my hems look better when I use a walking foot. I know it. But I let my pre-hosting jitters cloud my brain into 1). using a regular foot and 2). not busting out the twin needle. I used a ballpoint needle (I’m not INSANE, y’alls) and a zigzag stitch, and my bottom hem turned out a wee bit wavy for my liking. Note to self: Take the extra 3 minutes to attach the walking foot and thread the twin needle. Le sigh.
Do you have any tips for speedy sewing? I’m all ears. And happy SPRING everybody! I’m embracing it with plenty of pretty florals and rosé wine. Actually, I drank rosé most of the winter, too. The gods of booze snobbery will have to pry my rosé out of my cold, dead hands.
When it ain’t broke, why not color block it?!
When it ain’t broke, why not accidentally make a bowling shirt?!
Yes, I think this kind of resembles a bowling shirt. Or something that Zack would wear to seduce Kelly in Saved by the Bell. I did grow up in the ’90s after all.
Inspired by Grainline Studio’s post about color blocking, I sewed this Archer Button Up with some aptly named light blue and deep blue shirting from Denver Fabrics. It’s my third Archer, and I’m officially declaring this a tried-and-true pattern. I love the boyfriend fit and even the butt ruffle on view B, although this time I opted again for the classic view A, as I was already adding some interest with the kooky color blocking. (Check out that second link for my sizing and modifications.)
The side angles don’t match up perfectly, but I didn’t care enough to re-cut the pieces. I’d originally planned to do the whole sleeve in deep blue but ran out of fabric, hence the sleeves that look like they’ve been dip-dyed in bleach. I like ’em.
I finished all the seams with my new serger, which is like a child—one minute it’s acting like an angel and the next it’s throwing a damn hissy fit. I think we just need some more time to bond. I don’t understand its moods or what it likes to eat—yet. (If you’re wondering, I’m having the same problem as the person in this thread, entitled “I’m going to throw my serger out the window.” There are some good tips in there that I haven’t had the time or patience to try yet. I’ll report back on our relationship soon.)
Anywho, the light blue is much lighter weight than the dark blue, so I pressed those seam allowances toward the darker fabric so they wouldn’t show through (a little tip from Grainline’s tutorial).
The only thing I might go back and amend is the pocket. I like having just one instead of two (made using the alternate Archer pocket tutorial because I lurrrrve it). I texted a grainy picture of this shirt to my mom the night I made it and she suggested adding some sort of patch/crest to the pocket.
UPDATE: I just googled my last name and apparently we are all Gryffindors?!?! Obviously I am going to find a family crest patch and iron/sew that on. Problem solved.
Do you ever sew extras/accoutrements onto your stuff?
It’s not perfect, and I love it.
And that will be the last apology, or ablogogy, of this post. I’m not going to point out all the imperfections on this coat, because GUESS WHAT it’s wearable and it’s warm and it’s wooly and I made it with my two bare hands! Which were sometimes ragged and bloody from hand-sewing those adorable snaps on for the umpteenth time.
Exact snap placement is kind of hard, y’all.
I had mighty ambitions to tackle a Burda military coat when Heather over at Closet Case Files released Clare. Clean, simple, classic Clare with a fun twist in the form of a big ol’ collar. I knew I wanted to sew this up in a solid-color wool, so I ordered charcoal, light gray, and red wool-blend swatches from Fabric.com.
The light gray wool melton blend won out for wearability and lint resistance. It’s not quite as soft as I’d like, but it’s by no means scratchy. Perfectly fine for a first attempt at a wool coat. Plus, the kasha lining is primarily what lies against my skin, and ohhhh is it creamy. Kasha is smooth-as-silk satin with a flannel backing. I picked this black kasha up from Vogue Fabrics in Evanston.
I know: gray coating and black lining is venturing into the boring realm. That’s why I obviously had to go a little CrAzY with the bar tacks, hanging loop, and Pantone-inspired topstitching.
I made a muslin with fleece, which I now realize was probably not the best choice as it’s pretty forgiving. I cut out my coat fabric in a straight size 10, adding length to the body and arms—the usual for me. I followed along with pattern directions and the Clare Coat sew along, which was especially helpful when it came to bagging the lining.
I have a pretty broad back, so I added width to the back sleeve and center back per the suggestions in the fitting post in the sew along. That meant adding width to the collar and neckline. The collar turned out pretty large in circumference because I also let out the raglan sleeve seams when I realized that the sleeves were a little too tight.
The sleeves fit fine now, but I think they’re drafted pretty slim. I personally like the streamlined look, but you might want to add inches if you want to wear a bulky sweater underneath.
Taking out the sleeves meant adding yet more width to the collar. Blah, blah, blah—not perfect, but still cute!
I took my time with Clare. She was quite the journey, from choosing fabric to using a clapper to press wool for the first time to sewing on those daggone snaps. And FYI if you’re a Northerner like me, the combination of wool and warm kasha is suitable for mid 30ºs F and above.
To me, Clare personified is a wizened old Irish woman, darning socks next to a fire as she downs pint after pint of Guinness. I like her.
Do you personify your outerwear, too?
It’s been churn and burn in my sewing world lately. I usually try to write a post fairly quickly after sewing something, but life’s been busy. Plus, lots of output means less time for blogging. But I’m here to remedy that today. Please forgive the garment and photo overload in this post! First up: the costume. Halloween is looming, and for once I’m not procrastinating. This year I’ll be dressing up as the most fabulous harpy to come out of the Disney empire:
Cruella de Vil. No, it’s not the most creative costume, but I’ve been itching to be Cruella for a few years now. I used Very Easy Vogue coat pattern V8930 to make the yellowish-cream “fur” coat. As in, I used banana-colored fleece for the body and faux fur for the facing/collar piece.
And, of course, the coat is lined in vivid red. I made a simple black dress using the base layer of V8904 (also sewn here and here), except I sewed a V-neckline. The shoes are Anne Klein pumps from DSW. I’ve gathered most of the other accessories (red gloves, cigarette holder, green earrings), and now I’ve just got to settle on a wig, maybe make a purse, and find a real or fake dalmatian puppy for my pocket. Are any of you attempting a DIY Halloween costume this year? Spill!
I’ve kept my sewing machine pretty warm with Halloween stuff lately, but I’ve also made some non-costume-related garments. When Grainline Studio launched the Lark Tee sewing pattern, I bought it immediately and planned a trip to Vogue Fabrics to get my hands on some knits. I didn’t hesitate to buy Lark because A). I don’t own a T-shirt pattern, B). Grainline’s drafting is generally spot on, and C). it’s infinitely customizable, with four neckline options (crew, scoop, V, and boat) and four sleeve options (long, 3/4, short, and cap).
For construction, I used a ballpoint needle, walking foot, and the lightning bolt stitch on my sewing machine. Each is a size 8. Here are the rest of the dirty details about my three Larks (and counting):
Long Sleeve with V-Neck
I didn’t have a twin needle handy when I finished the hem and sleeves of this shirt, and I kind of botched the sleeve hems with a regular zigzag stitch. Since I didn’t stabilize them with anything, they turned out wavy enough to be bothersome. Luckily, cutting the hems off and adding cuffs turned out to be a really simple fix. I’m a fan of cuffs on long sleeves, and I think I might treat all of my LS Larks this way!
I looooove the color of this fabric—a sturdy ponte knit from The Needle Shop in Chicago—but unfortunately it’s pilling like crazy after just three washes. I think I might start air-drying this bad boy to avoid any more damage. (It might also help if I stopped wearing jewelry with it :-P). As for the neckline, this was my first attempt at a V-neck. It’s not horrible, but it’s a little more rounded underneath the point than it should be. I fixed that with my second V-neck after reading Jen’s tutorial for the Lark sew along. Speaking of my second V-neck…
3/4 Sleeve with V-Neck
I know it’s kind of hard to see the V-neck detailing on black, but the point of the V is much prettier on this version. I folded the neckband strip carefully to get a thin line of white at the edge, and I like how that turned out. The neckline is anchored down with a twin needle stitch (finally replaced my broken one!). I also used the twin needle to hem the sleeves and bottom.
This fabric is probably the best knit I’ve ever bought. Its a bamboo-lycra blend from Vogue Fabrics in Evanston. At $16/yard it’s pretty pricey, and I hesitated to purchase it at first. But I’m glad I went with my gut, since it’s washed and worn beautifully thus far and remains buttery soft to the touch.
Short Sleeve with Scoop Neck
This particular Lark Tee is a testament to how differently patterns can behave depending on the type of fabric you use. I can’t remember the exact content of this cotton-spandex blend from Vogue Fabrics, but it’s definitely more structured than the bamboo knit. I think I could’ve easily cut a size down for this, and I might go back and take in the sides if the fit starts to bother me. Again, I used a twin needle to anchor the neckline and finish the hems.
This is a great basic T-shirt pattern to build your layering wardrobe. It seems like it runs a bit big, so definitely make a test version and go from there. I have pretty broad shoulders and a 36″ bust, and the 8 fits great around the chest. It falls into a looser shape around the hips, but that’s part of the design. I should also note that this thing is pretty long. I’m 6’0″ with a long torso, and I normally have to lengthen my shirt patterns (including other Grainline Studio patterns) by at least 1″. I didn’t lengthen these shirts at all, and they’re plenty long.
Have you made any Larks yet? What’s your verdict?