Thursday, September 7, 2017

Simplicity 8416 In Review - The Shirt Project

I hope everyone had a great holiday weekend.  Happily I spent sometime in my sewing room where I made two shirts, Simplicity 8416 views B and D.

 I can't believe it!  Fall is almost here!

A twist on a classic shirt design.  The shirt design is loose fitting like a camp shirt, but it has long sleeves, cuffs, and a collar band.   There is no center front band. Back options include vent with ties or lace, pleated back with or without tab. It can be worn like a camp shirt with jeans unbuttoned with a tank top or T-shirt underneath.  Of course, you can button it, tuck or tie the shirt tails.

These two shirts wrap up my shirt making project for the summer.  Initially, I planned to only make a few during the summer; then later make more.  But when Sue and Rhonda asked me to do a presentation, I needed a few more shirts to show and talk about.  My goal was to practice and learn, hone  my skills.  I chose this pattern to test sizing, fit, and drape trying to determine if it was loose enough to eliminate my normal fit adjustments.  At first sight, I was interested in trying some of the back variations.  So this one quickly fell into my shopping basket with several other Simplicity patterns during a JoAnn's pattern sale.

I made my usual size and determined that a slight FBA is still needed.  The sides seams are not perfectly perpendicular to the floor.

I also noticed that the cuff is longer and the spacing of the button is wider, beige shirt on the pattern envelope. The armhole seam starts below the ball of the shoulder. These observations are not a big deal, just things I noticed.

Of course I changed a few things.
  • I squared the collar band at the end
  • Plaid - I turned the edge to the right side of the center back hem then pressed.  Next the lace was stitched along the folded edge, then I sewed another row just before the scalloped edge of the lace to secure it.  This created a clean finish.
  • Plaid - I added 1" to the length of the shirt.

  • Plaid - I made the loops for the back closure instead of using elastic.  I simply cut a bias strip, sewed, turned, cut desired length, and apply to edge of instructed.  To make the loops narrower, I sewed a few stitching to hold the ends together.
Adding a little something, something -

  • White - I copied the contracting design element from a article in "Threads" magazine.  The contracting fabric adds some color to what would be a plain white over sized shirt.
I literally made almost no fit adjustments.  The neck is a little too big for me (hardly noticeable).  When I tried the shirt on, I noticed the shoulder seam was not completely vertical from neck to shoulder.  At the ball of my arm, it is off centered.  So for the plaid version, I added 3/4" to the height at the end of the yoke and the subtracted that same amount from the front.  That resolved the issue.  You may not need the same adjustment.  Check it before you cut into your fashion fabric.

Fabric -

White - I used a tissue weight cotton from Mood Fabrics and a cotton blend print gifted to me by Andrea Birkan (Haute Couture Club member).

Plaid - A lightweight silk that I was gifted over 25 years ago.  The lace came from JoAnn's.
My dislikes -

  • The construction process for creating the finished opening above the cuff.
  • The lack of a front band. It's a little more work but worth it. 
 Finally, a few tips for making your own shirts.

  • Press, press, and press throughout the construction process.  It makes the sewing easier.
  • Trim (3/8") seam allowances of the collar and collar band.  It eliminates bulk, making the top stitching easier.
  • Basing - I prefer basing over pinning before top stitching and finishing bands and cuffs.  Another option is to use glue sticks.
  • One collar piece.  I like Sandra Betzina one piece collar method.  It can be found in her "Tool Kit" book.  My tutorial is here.
  • Don't be afraid to change it up a bit.  Surf the internet and magazine for ideas.
Note: I'm no expert.  This is only my explanation on how I made Simplicity 8416.  Sorry no pictures yet. later..,

Parting Shot:  Last book read:  "The Alchemist" by Paulo Coelho .  This is a powerful little book.  Check it out.

Happy Sewing!


Thursday, August 24, 2017

Notes on a Pattern - Simplicity Knit Top S8386 View A

View A is why I bought this pattern.  Why?  I love the collar band, "V" and the mock wrap style.  Cute..,  The other two views I've been in other sewing patterns.  It's a nice grouping of styles to sew.

View A

Notes on Fitting and Sewing:

  • How well will the collar band fit?  Will it gap or lie smoothly against the neck? 
  • Will a FBA affect the slight drape across the front of the top?
  • Will the FBA make the front look frumpy? 
  • Can I skip the swayback adjustment since it has a waist/hip band?
  • What about the armhole band?  Is it visible or is it sewn to the inside of the armhole?
These are the questions I asked myself  before and/or during the sewing process.  Before I attempt to answer  them, let me provide some information about this pattern.

As always, Simplicity's pattern descriptions are vague.  But sometimes the pictures, if on a live model  along with the line drawing can express a 1000 words.  For view A; it is a sleeveless mock wrap knit top with a waist/hip band.  The collar band is attached to the "V" neckline that forms a tie at the back.  The armhole are finished with a thin band.  This pattern comes in  sizes 4 to 20.  I used size 16 with modifications.


I started the with making a FBA.  The bottom of the front top has three small pleats.  The resulting FBA created more width at the waist.  I decided to gather the access to fit the lower band. I also added an extra inch to the length of the top.  It is a little hard to see, but right below the word Simplicity and the pattern number, I made a small tuck to reduce gapping at the chest area.  Still I hoped that the gathering or  easing would not make the top look frumpy.  See photo below for the FBA.  

Back Adjustment-

For the back, I chose not to make a swayback adjustment because of the lower band.  I added 3/4" width for my prominent shoulder blades and I added an inch to the length.  The 3/4" was eased in because I did not want to sew a dart.  The additional inch makes the side seams front and back the same length. Also notice, the center back has a "V" too.


Typically, I read the instructions before I make the garment.  But I forgot about how to finish the armhole bands.  So instead of attaching them to the armhole, I did an extra step of turning and stitching the bands to the inside of the top.  After completing the step, I looked over the instructions again and noticed the difference.  It's all right, though.  Next time I'll make the top with the band exposed.

The Collar Band -

I had to tweak it just a little bit to get rid of a small gap of the side of my neck.  I just made the length between the notches about 1/2" shorter.

Lower Band -

You may need to adjust the lower band.  Measure it and determine whether or not you need more or less width.  Also, take into consideration the length of the top and where you want the lower band to rest.

Fabric -

The fabric recommended are knits with at least 25% stretch.  I used a lovely bamboo knit from Mood Fabrics.  It's so silky and smooth.  Definitely a premium knit that was great to work with.

Happy Sewing!

Oops, I've Been Too Quiet Again!

Sorry, I know it seems like I've taken a hiatus from sewing. Really, I haven't. Actually, I've sewn several garments over the past two months; but it's been difficult finding the time to take pictures or the photos shoot ends up not so good. What is becoming more and more difficult to do is to blog on a regular basis. I took a part-time job in a dental office. It's nothing like my former career in IT at the University, where I could key out a post with no problems. There is almost zero time during my off days to actually sit down at my laptop or desktop to type out a blog.

More and more I'm viewing Instagram and Facebook instead. Both are quick ways to stay connected. I still feel, though, that blogging is a better way to journal my sewing journal, share my experiences, and learn from others. So, it's an effort that I hope to continue.

Currently, I have multiple projects going at the same time. One is the "Shirt Project". Early this summer, I decided to practice making button-down or button-up shirts. My goal is to learn to fit and sew them well. Currently, I've made five shirts. My quest got the attention of the HCC President and the Program Director; they asked if I would do a presentation on my shirts. Of course, I said yes. But it meant that I would need to make more shirts to show different design and style elements. The process also gives me a chance to identify some tips and techniques that may be helpful to others. In the coming weeks, I hope to post a few more shirts.

Secondly, I'm working with one client, Pastor Jenetta Ross, who I've made several clergy robes for. This time the commission is for two robes: white and gold (already finished and delivered) and a red and black robe. Both made using Simplicity 5386. The white and gold was basically made the same as the blue one pictured here

Thirdly, there are several things on the sewing table for my DD. Starting with a few dresses, a swimsuit (I know summer is almost over, but there is always vacation.), a coat and a few shirts. 

Finally, other things for myself I will make several knit tops that include sleeve designs created by Rhonda Buss. Sleeves are so very big these days. I've selected a few designs that are trendy as well as classic, if that makes sense. Part of my goal is to continue to try different things to enhance my sewing skills and to jazz up my classic style. Also, I hope to share my thoughts on some fall/winter mini wardrobes. In all of this will emerge my entries for the HCC Fashion Show 2018. That's may sewing "catch up" post. Next up I'll share some "Notes on a Pattern".

Thanks and Happy Sewing!


Thursday, August 3, 2017

Sunny Blue Sky Striped Cotton Chambray - Simplicity 1371 and Simplicity 8389

July is the peak of summer. I love that the days are long and the sun shines so bright.  What I hate is the humidity and the extreme temperatures, and everyone has the AC set to "North Pole".  So it can be a struggle trying to figure out what to wear.

But if you plan to be outdoors, light and airy clothing is the way to go! I purchased this lovely Blue Sky Striped Cotton Chambray a few months with the thought of making a shirt.  When I pulled it from the packaging, I quickly changed my mind and decided to make some baggy wide leg pants.  Perfect vacation pants for a stroll on the beach or a day of shopping on some tropical island.

Chambray is a classic and is typically used to make shirts, shirt dresses, and tunics.  This particular fabrication is lightweight but durable if that makes sense.  And because the pants are very roomy, there is little to no stress on the seams.  I love the way it feels and moves when I'm wearing them.

The pattern (S8389) I used is relatively new.  Style like pj pants with a faux drawstring in the front.  Nothing fancy at all.  These sewed up very quickly.  If you can sew a straight seam and make an elastic casing, you can make these.  I actually, bought the pattern for second view on the pattern envelope.

After cutting out the pants, I had enough leftover to make a little top (S1371) to wear with them.  This is the second time I've made it.  My first top was also made with Mood African print fabric several months ago.  The details on making the adjustments and sewing it are on my blog.

That's it!  This was a very easy sewing project.  My new outfit is perfect for the summer heat and a great look for a stroll along the beach.

Happy Summer and Happy Sewing!

Friday, July 7, 2017

Bold Floral Are Always In Order - New Look 6184

There is nothing like a bold floral print.  Perfect complement to a fit and flare silhouette.  Summer time is a great time to show off a pretty floral dress.  In summer I want to look my best and be as comfortable as possible.   I really appreciate a cotton dress during this time of year.  Chicago and the surrounding areas are hot and steamy.

This is the first dress I finished this month.  I started on it about two weeks ago.  But did not hem it until Saturday night.    

I couldn't make up my mind on how long to make it.  So I cut the skirt tea length so I would have the options of keeping it long or making it shorter.  The skirt is self drafted if you want to call it that.  With the fabric being 60 inches wide, I just cut two rectangles the desired length.  Then cut one in half ( 2 back skirts) and used the other piece for the front skirt.  The skirt was gathered to fit the waist of the bodice.

Last year, I had planned to make a few dresses using New Look 6184, but I never got around to it.  So this year, it became a high priority to at least get one dress made using this pattern.  The C view of the bodice was already fitted.  So I was able to go right to cutting out the dress.

My fit changes:
  • FBA, with the new bust dart rotated into the neckline pleats.
  • Lengthen by 1" (front and back)
  • Sway back Adjustment
  • Prominent shoulder adjustment with a dart added to the neckline. 
I would described this dress as a fitted bodice with pleats at the neckline.  There are two skirt variations: one A-line and the other straight with two belt variations.

It comes in sizes 8 to 18.  I used size 14 with the list modifications above. Nothing difficult about the instructions or the sewing construction. 

Instead of using the neck facings, I lined the entire dress with a yellow broadcloth from JoAnn's.  To reduce bulk along the waistline, I used the A-line skirt for the lining.  With the lining, the dress has more body causing the skirt to fall a little further away from the body.  It also makes it opaque.   So no slip needed. The stretch floral cotton is from Vogue Fabrics. It is lightweight and has a smooth hand.  The only other change made was that  I used an invisible zipper instead of a regular one. 

I like the fit and flare style of this dress.  I love this silhouette in the summer especially.  The square neckline of view C is also appealing.  So, I think I may use this pattern one more time this summer with the slim skirt. 

This pattern offers nice options for spring/summer dresses and I recommend it to others.  The construction is easy.  The dress comes together quickly with any problems.

Happy Sewing!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Blast from the Past - Paisley Sateen Shirting - McCall 7575

Sometimes, the "ole school" in me comes shining through.  Even in my fabric picking.  Remember, way back in January when I came to New York to visit with my sewing friends.  Our first stop on our fabric shopping spree was at Mood.    I bought two yards of this gorgeous paisley print sateen, and I knew exactly what I was going to make.

I was seriously, hoping that it was available at the online store and it is.  Appropriately named:  Pacific Green Paisley Printed on Corded Cotton Sateen.  It has a little stretch to it with a soft hand.  This colorful print is recommended for spring and summer garments, but I think it's also perfect for fall and early winter.  It can be layered with jackets and cardigans.

If you've been following on my blog, this shirt is part of a series of shirts that I am making.  The goal is to perfect my shirt making skills and to jazz it up a bit along the way.  You might find these posts of interests as well.

Lowering the Dart and FBA - McCall 7575

McCall 7575 - The First Edison

Mood Gold Stripes - Vogue 8747

For this shirt, I used McCall's 7575 again.  I will probably used this pattern a few more times over the course of the next few months.

This time around, I made view D with a collar, no tabs.  The only differences in this shirt is that it is longer, I didn't add an inch to the sleeve length, and I used a contrasting black sateen from my stash for the neckband, yoke, cuffs, and pockets.   The constructions process is virtually the same as detailed in my post "McCall 7575 - The First Edison".    

As I learn to make better shirts, my desire to use better fabrics as increased.   I've found that Mood has vast selection of shirting fabrics available online here.   And I kid you not, every fabric that I've purchased has be absolutely beautiful and great to work with.

So, if making your own shirts is on your list on sewing projects, take a look at the selection available at Mood.  The selection is huge and you are sure to find some great textiles for your projects.

Happy Sewing!


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