Brumby skirt

Brumby skirt

A few days ago it was a winter wonderland after a late afternoon snowfall so it seemed the perfect time to take some photos of my Brumby skirt from Megan Nielsen Patterns.

There is a lot to love about this skirt: the deep pockets, the drape of this gorgeous tencel twill from Blackbird Fabrics, and this butterscotch-y colour that I’ve never worn before. There were also a few frustrations, as it turns out I really dislike gathers (not sure I’ve ever made a gathered garment that didn’t need at least some of gathers unpicked and re-sewn) and invisible zippers with waistband facings are always a bit tricky. I also made adjustments to the waistband fit after it was completed, so a lot of unpicking had to be done but I’m happy with the outcome so the hour of unpicking and re-sewing was absolutely worthwhile.

I had just enough of this fabric leftover from my Reeta dress to do the waistband facing and pocket linings.

I’m excited with how well this turned out and how closely it matches the inspiration photo. While I made the skirt for warmer weather I actually really like it with the turtleneck and tights I threw on so I wouldn’t freeze. A surprise four-season garment is always welcome. 😊

Adjustments & details:

  • Cut size 12
  • Removed centre front seam by cutting front piece on fold
  • Added 1″ to length (I’m 5’9″)
  • Reduced seam allowance to 3/8″ on waistband sides, but after trying it on made seam allowance 1″ at top of waistband and graded to 3/8″ at bottom since I did this after the waistband and its facing was attached to skirt (SIGH)
  • Invisible zipper
  • Hem: turned up 1/2″ then 1″

Advertisements
Shortened Kalle tunic

Shortened Kalle tunic

The Closet Case Patterns Kalle shirtdress had been on my to-do list for a while. I’d made a wearable muslin of the tunic (view B) in size 10 a few months ago and while I liked the fit of the top half, the bottom half didn’t work as well with my pear shape (e.g. the back kept settling/getting “stuck” on my butt). I wanted a shirt that didn’t get caught on my rear end, would work well both untucked with jeans and tucked into a skirt, and where the side hem hit right at my hip bone.

The wearable muslin was a huge help with this since I just put it on, stood in front of a mirror, and pinned it where I wanted things to fall. I’m long waisted with a shoulder-to-hip-bone measurement of 23″ and I ended up taking 3″ out of the front piece and 6.75″ out of the back (3″ around the lengthen/shorten line and 3-3/4″ from the high-low hem). I folded the pattern pieces up to reduce by those amounts and adjusted the hem curve on the back piece to match the front piece. This adjustment also meant that I only needed two hem bias pieces instead of the usual three for a tunic.

Pattern piece adjustments
Results!

This fabric was leftover from a Helmi dress I made last year and I barely managed to fit all the pattern pieces. I paid about $6/metre for this cotton-rayon blend (I think that’s what it is) and I love it! It’s so light and flowy and a dream to wear in the heat of the summer. I wish I’d bought a few metres in every colour.

That hem bias piece takes up a lot of real estate. I also had to cut the collar pieces individually instead of on the fold – happily this fabric is so busy that it’s difficult to tell on the finished garment.
This was the largest single piece of fabric that was left. 💪

I’m delighted with how this shirt has turned out! I have some crisp cotton shirting that I may use to try this length with a full placket instead of the popover as I’m curious how fabric with more structure will work out. Another addition to the already long to-do list. 😅

Elliot sweater

Elliot sweater

Making clothing appropriate for cold weather has not been my strong suit. However, all the cozy versions of Helen’s Closet’s Elliot Sweater – especially the giant turtleneck of version A – were looking ideal when the snow started to fly, let alone when it started to pile up!

Woman standing in front of snowdrift, smiling and wearing white and grey turtleneck sweater

I cut a size L and made some modifications: added 2″ to the length of both front and back and lengthened the sleeves by 5″ since I knew I wanted them to be full length instead of 3/4. Unfortunately 5″ still wasn’t enough so I drafted two cuffs (basically just small versions of the turtleneck piece) to make up the difference, which worked perfectly.

Printed sleeve pattern piece with tracing paper taped to it and new lines drawn to lengthen the sleeve.
Lengthened the sleeve by 5″, grading down to an XS by the forearm to make it fairly snug.
Holding arms outstretched to show length of sleeves, which were designed to be below the elbow but for this make are full length.
Long sleeves!

This came together so quickly – only 6 pattern pieces including the cuffs! – and I used my serger for all the seams except the bottom hem. This white and charcoal sweatshirt fleece from Fabrications has barely any stretch (maybe 10% in both directions) but is incredibly warm, and I LOVE the giant turtleneck! It is suitable for being a complete dork:

Turtleneck pulled up over woman's face to hairline, with glasses on over the fabric, looking completely ridiculous.
I laughed waaaaay too hard at this.

Overall, this was a very satisfying make and I’ve worn it a lot.

Reeta

Reeta

Reeta_cropI’m a complete sucker for gold these days. When I saw this viscose poplin from Fabrications I knew I had to make it into a dress and after my success with Named’s Helmi, their Reeta shirt dress was the top contender. I love a midi length skirt and a cinched waist, so away I went.

Construction was, well, not the easiest but it came out okay. I stay-stitched the neckline and armholes of the yoke pieces and, unlike others, didn’t have any issues with the collar (maybe the fact that the viscose can stretch a bit?) although I had to unpick a couple of spots. I also managed to completely miss the instructions to sew a box pleat on the front pockets so I hand-sewed them shut.

The part that absolutely flummoxed me was the front facing and hem: my front facings were 1-1/4″ shorter than the dress front pieces, so pressing to the right side by 3/4″ didn’t do me much good. Even after reading the hemming instructions a couple of times I couldn’t sort out how that would remedy itself, so I just gave up and winged it. I ended up hemming 1-1/2″ on the front and 2″ on the back so they’d line up at the side slits.

20181013_171938
It’s out of focus but the hemline on the right is where I just gave up and made the length equal, neatness be damned!

The way the waist tie works – sewing a ribbon around the inside of the waistline – is brilliant and an easy mod I could add to other patterns. I also added side pockets, with the tops 2″ below the side notch. I was excited about this but the pockets actually create more bulk at the widest part of my hips so I’m not entirely convinced I’ll keep them. I’ve pressed them flat as best I can but it’s still not completely ideal. They’re great (pockets!) but they puff the dress out an inch or so on each side at the *exact* wrong spot.

Others have noted that this dress is quite long: I’m 5’9″ and I’d take an inch off the length next time. It is also a bit snug across my back where the yoke attaches and to the bottom of the armhole but it’s manageable – and encourages good posture – but I’ll adjust it if I make another. I’ll also pay more attention when I’m cutting out the yokes, as I inadvertently have the same 4″ portion of the fabric’s floral design directly above itself.

Reeta_yoke_duplicate
Oops! 🤷

Despite some construction frustrations, I really like this dress and have even received a few compliments on it from strangers (!).

Alterations

  • Graded from a 10 at bust to 14 at hip
  • Added pockets (used pocket pattern piece from Charlie Caftan)

Next time:

  • Follow the instructions for the box pleat on the front pockets, ha
  • If I add side pockets, move up to 1″ below side notch
  • Add 1/4″ on both sides of the yoke at the arm hole, grading to nothing at the shoulder
  • Also add 1/4″ on both sides of the dress (front and back pieces) at the arm hole, grading to nothing an inch or two below the arm hole
  • Shorten by an inch
Charlie Caftan #2

Charlie Caftan #2

20180808_191006_crop
In hindsight, posing in a floral dress in front of flowers may not have been ideal.

Summers in Ottawa are hot and humid (this summer especially so) and the last couple of years I’ve really gravitated toward long, work-appropriate dresses. However, I have found my wardrobe lacking in that area so a long swishy dress was in order and the Charlie Caftan from Closet Case Patterns was a perfect fit.

The fabric is a navy floral polyester crepe from Blackbird Fabrics and while it was a bit slippery to work with, it is lovely to wear. It’s also so dark that it reads as black – in fact, I used black thread and I need to look really closely to even notice that it’s not a perfect match.

20180808_191101_crop

I made view C with the higher arms (seen in views A & B) to reduce workplace bra exposure. I also made the inset panel using the instructions and this helpful sewalong from Closet Case Patterns, and thank goodness I used a patterned fabric because the corners are far from perfect but nobody will ever notice!

I finished this dress almost two months ago, have worn it regularly, and have received a surprising number of compliments from friends and strangers. It’s so light, swishy, and cool, and the pockets are wonderfully deep. It washes easily (delicate cycle), air dries quickly, and never needs an iron. In other words, it’s a perfect hot weather dress.

20180808_191010_crop

Alterations:

  • Raised neckline 1/2″
  • Higher arm variation
  • Graded from 8 to 14 between waist and hip

What I might do differently next time:

  • Raise the inset panel/shorten the bodice about 1.5″
  • Add 2″ to the total length as it hits above my ankle (I’m 5’9″ and the pattern is made for someone 5’6″, so that makes sense)
  • I could do with a little more fabric in the back so may grade out to a 16 instead of 14 on the back piece
Helmi tunic

Helmi tunic

Helmi_crop1_resize
Summer is almost here and this Helmi is perfect for it.

Have you ever had the experience of making or purchasing an item of clothing that you’re not entirely sure about and then, to your surprise, it becomes your favourite thing in your closet? That’s how it’s been with this Named Helmi tunic dress: I had some frustrations making it and when I first tried it on, but after wearing it twice I am loving it immensely.

What I love:

  • OH MAN the cotton (blend?) rayon fabric is perfect for a summer dress. So swishy and light without being sheer
  • I specifically chose fabric with a pattern because it would hide the waist seam which is a touch too low for my taste, and it worked brilliantly
  • I really dig the covered button band and collar stand
  • …and the sleeves, which are beautifully loose and I’m a huge fan of the 3/4 length
  • It looks great with a belt – pink and navy is one of my all-time favourite colour combos

Helmi_crop2_resize
No idea what I’m doing here but I really like how long my legs look in this photo.

What I didn’t love:

  • The 3/8″ seam allowance meant the seams were hell to finish without a serger. Flat felling the seams was no joke and I bailed on the sleeve seams because I’m not a masochist (just zigzagged the edges and sewed them flat after pressing toward the bodice). I French seamed the skirt halves together.
  • It looks like a man’s nightshirt without a belt, which is fine in and of itself but isn’t particularly flattering on me

Helmi_unbelted
Belt wrinkles!

Let it be noted that the frustrations I had while making the dress were soon forgotten upon wearing it. It is SO COMFY, and this random rayon from Fabricland that I got for $10/metre is perfection with this pattern. It’s floaty and weightless and I’ll see how it stands up to lots of wear this summer.

Helmi_front

Adjustments:

  • Graded skirt from US size 10 to 14 from waist to just above hip line
  • Lengthened skirt by 3″
  • If I make it again, I might raise the waistline by an inch or two and do the bodice in US size 8 and grade to a 12 from waist to hip
  • I may add belt loops but so far I’ve managed without them

Overall, I am ecstatic about this make and am looking forward to tackling the Named Reeta soon.

Granville shirt

Granville shirt

Granville_FrontI made a shirt. A SHIRT. With a collar and cuffs and buttonholes. And it actually fits!!

Let’s back up for a moment: I have a flannel shirt problem. I love flannel shirts so much that I live in them every weekend in the cooler months and wear them like cardigans in the summertime. Thing is, none of them fit quite right regardless of size: either the sleeves are a bit too short and the bust is a bit too tight, or the shoulders are a bit wide and the fit is more relaxed than I’d prefer, and as an individual with a long torso they’re all a bit short in the body. I’ve wanted to make – and perfect – my own flannel shirt pattern for a couple of years and finally got down to it this winter.

When I say “finally got down to it this winter” I mean “I’ve had Sewaholic’s Granville shirt pattern for at least two, maybe three, years so I should just tackle the darn thing.”

Granville_back
You can see where the fabric is loose near my tailbone, which I’m hoping to solve next time.

Was I intimidated? Yes. Have I ever made a garment with buttonholes, sleeves, a collar, or cuffs? Nope, none of those, but you have to start somewhere right?

The fabric is some squishy, robust Robert Kaufman mammoth flannel from Fabrications that was pretty easy to pattern match, although I kept getting mixed up about which side of the fabric was the right side since they look identical except the plaid pattern is obviously reversed. That made for a few interesting moments during assembly when I had to triple-check that all the major pieces had the pattern facing the same way – I kept muttering “turquoise top right” under my breath. In the end, it turned out well except my buttons are on the “wrong” side for a woman’s shirt. Minor issue, although I will admit to being confused during cutting about whether the “left side” of the front piece meant when a person is wearing it or when a person is looking at someone wearing it. #overthinker

One particularly interesting moment was when I was uncharacteristically forward-thinking and laid the front pieces down and lined them up, only to discover that the pattern matching was off. It was mercifully easily solved by snipping about 1/2″ off the top of one piece and the bottom of the other.

Granville_askew
OH NOOOOOOOOO

Granville_fixable
Phew!

Pattern details/adjustments:

  • cut a size 12 based on measurements and it was pretty bang-on
  • didn’t lengthen it as there was a healthy hem allowance although I didn’t need to minimize it in the end
  • pinched out about 4″ in the centre back and ended up taking it out of the side pieces in the back, ultimately grading from a 12 to an 8 at the hip on the outside edge. I left the centre back piece as-is for this version but will take out about 1.5″ (0.75″ on each side) in future iterations. These two adjustments were directly informed by this blog post by Hilary Rose
  • like Hilary Rose, I noticed that the flare at the bottom was too much so I took each front piece in an inch on the outside edge, grading to nothing about 3.5″ from the bottom
  • the next time I make this pattern, I’ll bring the shoulders in 3/4″ on each side, shorten the sleeves 1″, and raise the front pockets about an inch

Granville_patternadjustments
The orange line on the centre back piece is from when I was going to make all the adjustments there, but I transferred most of it to the side pieces.

The construction came together easily, even the collar and cuffs. The instructions were very clear and I consulted sewalongs when I had any doubts. I got discernibly better at edgestitching since I flat felled all the inside seams, although finishing the inside armhole seams was super tricky so thank goodness it was one of the final steps!

Granville_edgestitching
Edgestitching

I will admit that the scariest part was at the very end when I made the buttonholes. I don’t know why they terrified me so much but I was sweating bullets despite sewing a handful of practice ones on scrap fabric. Eep.

This is, without a doubt, the make I’m most proud of. It’s the first time I’ve approached such a challenging project with so many elements I’ve never tried before, but I made a point of going slow and steady and it turned out wonderfully. I have a tendency to give myself arbitrary deadlines – I’ll make this in a weekend! It’ll be done by May! – but I didn’t do that this time and very much enjoyed the process. Lesson learned, especially as it made me excited to get back to sewing more frequently again.