My top was featured!

25 04 2012

Big excitement in my little world… in the midst of cleaning, cleaning, cleaning, getting out of the house for showings, general depression that all these people who come to see the house don’t seem to want to buy it, etc., I get an email saying

EEEEeeeeeeEEEEE!  Way to make my day, my week, my year, Rae!  Looking through the pool of tops there are so, so, many that are so, so beautiful that I never dreamed that I had a chance (although I certainly hoped it).  Please take a moment to take a look at this week’s Top of the Tops to see the massive talent of this group of garment makers.  (Clicking on the image above should take you to the poll.)  I loved the wavy pintucks shirt from the moment I saw it, the bow top made from the Anna Maria Horner fabric that I love, and so, so many more.  I can’t believe that I am in among these!  As much as I love both linen tops that came out of the past week, it was the Happy dots that was featured, and honestly I think it is my favorite too.  It’s so bright and cheery, and so light and comfortable.  The winner gets a gift certificate for fabric (!!!) so of course it would be awesome to win!  Please check it out and vote for your favorite (only once, mom!)!

Happy Dots – Skirt refashion #2

22 04 2012

Well, I did it!  I finished spring top #3 before the deadline of 8 p.m. tonight. 


Of course, today is gray and rainy, so the pictures are not the best, but what really matters is making a top that I think is super cute, and pulling off some pattern alterations that make this latest Sorbetto completely different from my first two Sorbettos. Like I mentioned last time, I thought this fabric would look cute in a Simplicity pattern that I have, but it’s in storage, so I can’t even tell you the number!  Necessity is the mother of invention, so what I did was cut a yoke off the Sorbetto, remove the pleat from that piece, and add 1/2” seam allowance at my new seam.  Then for the bottom front piece, I gathered the extra fabric across the middle half, choosing endpoints that I thought looked good. 


I ended up omitting the dart because the fabric is really thin and I thought the dart would show through to the right side, plus with the gathers here, it is sort of unnecessary.  I mention this because it meant that my armholes did not line up; if you try this, omit the dart from the pattern before you cut the fabric!

As far as construction, I did it the way my Simplicity top suggests.  Briefly,

  1. Finish the neck seam on the back piece with bias facing.
  2. Cut 2 yoke pieces and sew them together at the neckline, right sides together.
  3. Turn inside out and press.  Optionally, stitch the seam down to the back side; this keeps it in place and makes the neckline lie flat.
  4. Sandwich the shoulder seam of the back piece between the 2 pieces of the yoke, right sides together.  This is spatial reasoning at its finest.  When turned right side, out, the whole seam is enclosed; it’s the awesomest seam finish ever.  It’s really hard to describe it; I wish I’d taken a picture!
  5. Gather the lower front piece to fit the yoke.  Match RST with the front piece of the yoke and sew. 
  6. Press the back side of the yoke under 1/2” so it will sandwich the seam you just made.  Pin in place and topstitch from the front, making sure to catch the back piece also, and making sure the seam is pressed upward so it becomes enclosed. 
  7. Sew side seams and it’s done!

Although you can’t see it in the pictures, the cool thing about this shirt is the way there are no exposed seams anywhere, except the sides.  Well-finished seams make for a really professional-looking garment!  You can’t see it when it’s being worn, but as the wearer, you notice it every time you put it on.  It’s not a fitted style of shirt, but this fabric is so breezy that I think it makes for a nicely draped top. 

2012 04 April9

This fabric is so lightweight it is like wearing nothing at all.  The total opposite of my sackcloth linen shirt!  It will be perfect for those hot summer days we get here in Rochest…wait.  We don’t really get any.  But it’ll be perfect for those steamy Seatt…no.  Not there either.  Good thing it looks nice with a cardigan!


Please excuse the freshly showered look… this is what happens when you wait till the last minute!

Skirt to top, refashion #1

20 04 2012

We’re back at home now, in the land of neat and tidy living.  Here where I have done ridiculous things like line my books up by color.


I saw it online, and it looks pretty, right?  Normally I have a library-esque system where fiction is on one side and non-fiction, grouped by subject, on the other side.  But as they say, the way you show a house is not the way you live in it.  So true!  This is not me at all but I have to admit I kind of like it.

Anyway, back up in NY we have thrift shops on every corner, a luxury (haha!  just saw the irony there) that doesn’t exist down where my parents are.  So, needing shoes for BB and still having the sewing bug (sewing really begets more sewing), I looked around the shop while the boys played with cars.  I didn’t find any good tops to refashion but I did find this skirt that really called out to me; it’s linen, which as I mentioned last time I am very fond of, and it had this funky embroidery.


Now, when cut apart and pressed it was barely, barely big enough to fit the pattern, again the Colette Sorbetto, without the length added (which was OK because it already has a hem), and without the pleat.  I cut it out and put it together and found it surprisingly baggy.  I guess this fabric is quite a bit stiffer than the last one so it didn’t drape at all, just stuck out like a big hoop skirt.  I ended up taking the sides in about 0.5” each and adding a seam in the back, about 0.5” at the top and increasing to about 2” at the bottom, so a pretty substantial modification.  This closed up both the neck and arm openings, so instead of doing a bias facing, which eats up 1/4”, I pressed my tape to be a double fold bias and applied it to the openings that way.  No hope of eking out sleeves this time!  I am really happy with the final product though.


It fits just perfectly!  On the back you can see the seam I added:


It was unfortunate because this is a really noticeable pattern to stick a seam into!  But it had to be done.  Now, the skirt this came from was fully lined, and after wearing this I can see why – it is super, duper, mega scratchy.  I had a linen blend sling awhile back that eventually gave way to softness and I hope it happens for this fabric too, because right now I kind of feel like some medieval peasant wearing a burlap sack (albeit a pretty one).  The skirt was dry clean only but I hand-washed it and I think I will take my chances with the washer and dryer in the hopes that the fibers can be scrubbed and spun into submission.

The #1 in the title is because I found another skirt, which is now cut apart and pressed and ready to be made into a shirt.


I actually have a pattern that I thought would be just perfect, I made this muslin of it last year just after the spring top sewalong…


…but it’s IN STORAGE!  Boo!  So it will probably become yet another Sorbetto, which is fine.  With all the possible variations (sleeves/sleeveless, pleat/no pleat/inverted pleat, etc.) plus the wildly different fabrics, it won’t end up looking like 3 of the same top, which is one of the best features of the pattern.  It’s a blank slate!  So, if I find the time, top #3 here I come!

Don’t forget to check out all the fun stuff going on in the spring top sewalong!

Time for spring tops!

14 04 2012

This year I had resigned myself to abstaining from the spring top sewalong fun, the annual bonanza of selfish spring sewing on Made by Rae.  Those who know me in real life know that we are in the process of trying to sell our house and move cross country, so (*sob*) I packed up my fabric and patterns and put them in storage, sold some off, sent a machine down to my parents’ house, and essentially tidied up my sewing area to be a table with a machine on it and nothing else.  It looks great, but I can’t really do anything with it!  (Like my spotless and empty kitchen, totally unusable!)  So the kids and I are down visiting my parents for a week, because they are on break and it’s impossible to keep things clean with them around.  I was getting a little bored in the evenings, you know, without all that cleaning to do, and I realized it was spring top time, and I had an older machine here… all I needed was some fabric and a pattern!  After poking around online, I decided on the free Colette Sorbetto pattern with the sleeves found here.  I went to Joann and found a linen/cotton blend fabric in a print I adored, just a scant 35” of it left on the bolt, and 2 evenings later, here is the result:


I really like the shirt.  I’ve made several closure-less tops from wovens and it’s a well known fact that these are a little bit on the baggy side.  In order to be a pullover-type top instead of a button/zip style top, they need a good bit of ease.  I made a size 8 (my measurements ranged from size 6 in one part to 12 in another, so I just picked my RTW size and hoped for the best), and the sleeve pattern fit perfectly with it.  The shirt is a little baggy compared to a t-shirt, but it’s not the tent that I was worried it might be.  It is super comfy compared to the other woven shirts I’ve made.  The armholes are not binding and there is plenty of room across the shoulders to move.  I did decide to lengthen it, based on some comments I’d read, and I did this very scientifically by adding a paint chip where the pattern pieces joined, haha!  I did this front and back to ensure they would be the same size.  I hate shirts that are too short and this one is not, with a bit added in.  Oh, I also shortened the bust darts by about an inch, since they seemed long.  No picture of that, but you can be assured it was equally scientific.  That’s just how I roll. 


I wore it all day today and was just in love.  It does get wrinkly, which I consider an endearing characteristic of linen more than a problem.  I was able to chase kids all over and I didn’t feel it was tight, or gaping, for that matter, and I love the softness and breathability of linen. On the neckline, I didn’t like the way the bias tape looked (neither did either of my critics), so I covered it with a cute trim that I picked up at Joann while I was fabric shopping without the kids (oh, the luxury!).  You can see it in the bottom left picture below.  It doesn’t show up in the other pictures but I think it adds a great touch to the shirt. 

2012 04 April7

So in the end, I managed to join in the sewing fun, and try out a new pattern that I will definitely make again with some of the fabric that’s wasting away in a storage locker.  I actually like this better than Simplicity 2599, which I bought last year for this same occasion (but didn’t actually make till the fall).  Plus I got to rummage through my mom’s old sewing box for needles and thread and I found these awesome patterns:

2012 04 April8

Too bad I am not bold enough to try the really retro look!

Spring tops

9 05 2011

So after all that sewing for myself, I got really tired of  garment sewing.  I took a little break, made a potholder, a purse, and a tiny oven mitt for the kids’ play kitchen.  Then I went for an extended visit to my parents’ house and I get back home and BAM!  SPRING TOPS ARE DUE TOMORROW!  AaaaAAAccccKK!  It’s like being in high school again.  Since the deadline really snuck up on me, I didn’t get to finish all the things I was going to do.  I had planned to draft all my patterns but yesterday realized that wasn’t going to happen.  So I finished this muslin:


Very quickly, before church.  I ended up really liking it; I’m wearing it again now, in fact.  Then we went to take pictures in the park.  Ah, boys.  They were not very cooperative.  We got some cute pictures though, and it was a nice way to spend Mother’s day.  Then my mother’s day gift to myself was to not feel guilty as I ignored my family and made 2 more shirts so I could meet my goal of making 3 tops for myself that were good enough to enter into Rae’s Spring Top Week contest.  I did this one during LB’s nap:


I love this one!  It’s a rib knit from Joann that I got on sale and it’s so soft and comfy.  And my dear husband really humored me by taking these pictures since I left my camera at my parents’ house.  (Double aaaack!)  Then in the evening, when I realized I was out of time to make patterns, I printed the two-piece tunic from Burda Style, and put this together while sort-of watching the Amazing Race:


In the end, as I was assembling it, I realized I was making something that looks a little too much like scrubs for my taste.  And I had to take the pictures myself, with my husband’s camera, which was no small feat and almost took longer than making the shirt.  Sadly, they are all out of focus too.  Anyway, the shirt is OK, the fit is not great, but it’s something I might wear.  I like the color a lot; it’s a fabric I found on clearance at Wal-Mart for $1/yard, so I figured even if the pattern wasn’t that great it wasn’t a big loss.  It was my first attempt at making a shirt out of a cotton woven, and while it was so, so, so easy to sew, I think the fit is not as easy as with a knit, so I really need to find a pattern that works before trying again.  Maybe I will finish that pattern I was drafting from the Design it Yourself Clothes book…

Anyway, that’s my last-minute effort, not quite what I’d hoped but I did manage to get the three shirts done.  Now the kids are really needing supervision so I’d better enter these shirts and be done!

Edited to add: I just saw the deadline has been extended, so I’m going to hold off on entering the pictures I took myself and see if my husband will humor me once again and take some nice outdoor pictures of the shirts.  🙂