Friday, June 18, 2021

McCalls 4591, Redux

In my recent post on the McCalls 4591 blouse, I mentioned a few issues I had with it. The primary problem was that the front bow was too heavy in this cotton fabric -- even though it's a lawn, it's just too heavy and stiff. Something with drape will probably work better with this pattern. As I often say when watching the Great British Sewing Bee, success often comes down to fabric choice. And this wasn't quite the right choice here! 

The other issue I have with this pattern is that the V neckline is far too low for my tastes. But if I shortened it between bust and shoulder like I often do, the seamline between top and bottom would sit right across the bust. So I had to come up with another solution.

Fortunately, there was a solution that seemed to fix both problems in one go! I untied the bow and crossed the extensions over one another, tucked inside the blouse. I pinned them down so that they formed a nice V line inside the existing neckline. Then I stitched the crossover seam down, and also across the line where the extensions crossed behind the seamline that runs across the blouse. Had to be careful to pin there so that no interior fabric was folded or bunched up at the seamline! 

After that I simply trimmed the extensions off from the inside using my pinking shears as a quick snip and finish.

It works pretty well, gathering at the front with a bit of a starburst effect, and definitely fills in the low neckline sufficiently.  I still don't think it's my favourite effort ever, but I do like this very pretty, lightweight summer fabric and think I'll probably get some wear out of it. Probably not with this skirt though, I don't think the silhouettes really go together, despite both being in my Summer Capsule plans. Oh well, learning opportunity! I still have another blouse to finish off before my Summer Capsule is done -- instead of making another pair of linen pants for the 6th piece, I've decided to go with a RTW capri that I already own and wear a lot. 

It's been an interesting exercise to try to put together a wardrobe of sorts, but I think I've confirmed to myself that I prefer dresses -- lots of one offs, and a complete outfit in one go! And that I like my sewing to be mostly mood driven. But I also always like a new learning challenge. And I have taken on another one...more on that later.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

My Peppermint Pocket Skirt

Another skirt for my summer capsule -- this is one I've been wanting to make for a while now. It's the free Peppermint Pocket skirt that so many others have already made! 

I love the oversize pockets & the relaxed vibe of it. But I don't entirely love it on me. I'm not sure if it's slightly too long or the waist sits too high, but it's not a homerun on me.

But, it certainly is comfy. I love the flow of it, and this linen that I have had in the stash for YEARS is super soft and swishy to wear. 

I tried it on and found that the feature pockets were just too much for my shorter frame -- they kind of looked like saddle bags. So I looked around on Instagram a bit at other versions by short sewists & found a look I liked. Someone else had just tacked down the centre of the pocket with a button. No buttonholes needed, as half the pocket is still big enough to get your hand into! 😄

So I searched in my button stash & found the perfect lightweight neutral toned buttons & added them, and that made all the difference. I love the pockets this way.

I took the first batch of photos paired with my recent bow blouse with bow detached (more on that later) I think a shorter & more streamlined top may work better for this one. I will test it with my next capsule project, the Edith Blouse. 

Anyhow, this is a nice pattern with fun details, really quick and easy to sew. It feels lovely on even if I am not sure about the silhouette.  Will have to figure out a good pairing. I'll be finished this planned capsule soon and then on to my favourite thing -- more dresses!

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Weekend Review: Joyful Mending


Joyful Mending / Noriko Misumi
Tokyo: Tuttle, 2020.
88 p.

This is another mending book, but one with a very Japanese aesthetic. It's charming, quirky, and has a definite slant toward the visible mending end of the spectrum.

It's a short book but quite cleverly put together, with lots of ideas to inspire. The author started out running a "mending consultation booth" in real life and this book is structured around that concept, which is adorable and fun. Each technique features an "advice seeker" at the top of the page, a customer who has a valued item of clothing and needs mending help. The relevant technique is then demonstrated on that item. I think this adds a lot of personality and charm to the book, and shows how these mending interventions really matter to real people. 

The techniques covered include basic darning of square, circular or larger rectangular holes/stains, as well as the use of needle felting to mend woolens. This last technique can be nearly invisible for those who prefer subtlety, or in one case, a variety of colours to add a polka dot flair to a wool scarf. 

There are examples of embroidery to cover stains and embellish further, or basic edge stitching for heavier items like rugs or bags. I found some unique ideas in her use of crocheted mini-pockets or patches to add to the look of an item by covering a stain and adding a useful pocket too! The basic crochet techniques are included in the last part of the book which covers all the necessary embroidery and darning techniques as well. 

She also uses patchwork for coverage, and one neat way is folding a circle or square in half around the edge of a collar, cuff, or hem in the spots that are most likely to wear out, and then covering the patch with some running stitch. It's cute and reinforces those frayed edges. Adding more where they are not strictly necessary can add a more aesthetic effect as well. She even mentions rug hooking techniques as a potential addition to hats or bags if you want a textured look. Lots of ideas, and many, many cute illustrations as well as extensive and clear process photos. 

This book is quite charming but also practical in its inclusion of some more unexpected ways of mending and making do. The inclusion of the stories of both the author and her "advice seekers" adds a lot of personality. Really enjoyable book on this topic. 

Friday, June 11, 2021

Baby, You're a Firework

My next Summer Capsule piece is this top from an 80s pattern, McCalls 4591. 

I've had this pattern for a while -- another thrift store find. I also had this lovely lightweight cotton, just enough to fit one view of this top on to. The print reminds me of wildflowers or bursts of fireworks. I wanted to make the blue neck tie view A (with added cap sleeves) but didn't have enough fabric so went with the red centre front bow version, D. 

I don't think it's entirely successful. The fabric is lovely, the overall fit is nice, but the bow just doesn't work for me. It's very heavy, even in this lightweight cotton, and pulls on the front opening (which is also far too low for me). Sewing even a few stitches in centre front to try to raise it makes the front pull even more. I may just cut off the extensions and try to add a little triangle of fabric at centre front to fill in the V, then it may sit a little better. Or not!

For now, I gave it a go as is and trialled it for a bit. The pattern itself isn't bad and is surprisingly quick to stitch up. I may just give my original view choice a try and see if the neckline tie works out more effectively. I hope I can rescue this one, though, as I really do love this pretty fabric!

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Pirate Pencil Skirt, in Black but No Skull or Crossbones

As part of my "Summer Capsule" plans, I included a black knit pencil skirt as a basic bottom. I chose the Pirate Pencil Skirt by Patterns for Pirates, both because it's a closely fitted knit skirt, and because it's a free pattern! 

This one really is a quick and easy as everyone says it is. There is a front piece and back piece, both cut on the fold, and a waistband that is just a folded piece of knit, no elastic involved. I made the high waist option, my fave style. There's also a walking slit for the below the knee options but I left it out. My knit is stretchy enough not to worry about it. Also my legs are short ;)

I cut this out and sewed it up in one night. The hardest part was my fabric choice. I have a bunch of this textured knit that I thrifted a while ago, and my needle just didn't like it. I switched it out a couple of times, but it was never perfect. So there is a tiny bit of puckering on the side seams, but not enough to notice so I finally just left it. 

The only thing I don't like about it is that there are no pockets, of course, in such a fitted skirt. And that waistband is a little high on me, so that the top of it rolls out a bit. I think I will reduce the height by about 1/2" if I make it again so it fits my body a little better. One other small fix is the little bulge of fabric at centre back just below the waistband -- I will need to pinch out a wedge there next time, like a swayback adjustment, so it will lie flat against my spine. 

But it could also be that my knit is too lightweight -- it's not a ponte or a scuba -- so I could have used some knit interfacing on the whole waistband piece before stitching it down. Oh well, it's good enough, which is all I am going for here. It's proof of concept, really -- this pattern fits me, cut at an XL at the hip, and L at waist and hem. I think I may make it again in a better quality fabric. 

Worn with shirt untucked, a bit more
Comfortable to breathe in 😉

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Weekend Review: Mend It, Wear It, Love It!


Mend It, Wear It, Love It! / Zoe Edwards
New York: DK, c2021.
143 p.

Coming on the heels of Me Made May, I was able to get my hands on this new book written by its founder Zoe Edwards, of SoZo What Do You Know? 

It's another entry into the very hot topic of mending. But this one is a little different, as the first section is on mending, the second on alterations and simple additions to make your clothes more wearable, and the third is on laundry, storage, dyeing and embroidery. So there's a lot to this one. 

It is a fairly small size, and doesn't have a lot of photographs, just a couple here and there. Most the many illustrations are drawings showing the different techniques. But I think it's a nice compact size with lots of good info, and would be especially good for a beginner who doesn't have a ton of sewing knowledge (as well as being interesting for those of us who do). 

The mending section covers both invisible and visible mending, sewing on buttons and fixing buttonholes, patches, zipper fixes, and basic sewing info to begin. It also points out that taking your clothes to someone who does alterations as a business is a viable option, especially for more challenging fixes like some zipper issues. I think that's something that people new to mending might not realize -- you don't have to do it all yourself. 

I really like the addition of a section on alterations you can use to make a little worn piece more 'you'. It includes instructions on waist darts, shaping seams, adding patch pockets (good for hiding stains, too), adding a ruffle to lengthen something or hemming it to shorten it, removing sleeves or adding elastic to hems and cuffs to change the look. Lots of quick ideas for ways to customize and better fit your RTW clothes, for sure. I think this would encourage people to look at their garments more creatively before just getting rid of them. Sewists, of course, do this constantly!

And the final section on loving your clothes has some good tips on general care -- washing, drying, storing -- as well as ideas for more advanced mending ideas like overdyeing or embroidering over stains and weak spots. The last two can also just be used to perk up something old rather than tossing it. There are just a couple pages each on these topics though, so it's more like an introduction to the concept, and then if a reader is interested, they can easily find a whole book on these subjects to further explore the potential. 

This is a small book, so it's not image heavy, and not comprehensive. But that means it's also not overwhelming for beginners, and has solid info laid out nicely. It's small enough to keep in a sewing kit if someone is just beginning to gather their supplies, and has a laid back and encouraging tone throughout. I enjoyed exploring it. 

Friday, June 4, 2021

Literary Sewing Circle: Amatka project roundup


This round of the Literary Sewing Circle has been a fascinating one, with lots of conversation about this thought-provoking book. Today I'm sharing the projects that were finished and shared by deadline. (If you are working on something and finish later, please share a link in the comments on this or the link up post!

There was a wide variety of inspiration going on for the various projects this time. They also range in technique. Here are the projects shared so far. 

A fun project - the Seamwork Graham tie! - inspired by the author's own personal style, by Alissa

A Zadie Jumpsuit by Lori, who says " I got the impression that utilitarian clothes were the mainstay of Amatka. The minimalist aesthetic of the Zadie strikes me as being appropriate inspiration."

A pair of Clyde Work Pants, made by Sarah who was also "Inspired by the minimalist and work- oriented nature of the commune called Amatka". Pants are complete with tag reading "pants" just to reinforce their nature ;)

A blouse made by Sara, inspired by Vanja's loss of language near the end of the book. She says "for me it is the fabric - the tangled web of speech, the thoughts are there but not the speech. The red buttons are my pop of colour for hope in a brighter future."

A project that used hand embroidery, rather than making a garment, complete with a deep discussion of the themes of language in Amatka, and how we shape our own worlds by how we speak about them, by Andrea. 

gorgeous photo ©Andrea McDowell

And finally my own projects. I was inspired to make two, both using green and mushrooms as themes. The first was the Factory Dress by Merchant & Mills, made into a top, using some quilting fabric from my stash. Little tiny mushrooms in that print! 

Last was the Metamorphic Dress by Sew Liberated. I thought that the idea of a dress that transforms represents this book perfectly, especially with one side of it a green mushroom print. Mushrooms are the source of form in Amatka, and this dress had better stay a dress!

I've really enjoyed hosting this round of the Literary Sewing Circle and seeing all of people's creativity and engagement with this book. Our next round will start up in the fall, keep your eye on this space!