Wednesday, September 17, 2014

True Bias Hudson Pants...

My first fall pants...I came close to some of the Pantone Fall 2014 palette!

I never thought I would sew a chevron print - chevrons just haven't appealed to me. And I made it through a full year of chevron-mania without buying any. But this ITY knit from is so outrageous, I fell for it. Drippy chevrons on a reptile print background.

These are the Hudson Pants from Kelli at True Bias Patterns - her first pattern. And it's wonderful! I've seen the pants described as track pants and as workout pants. They look kind of like sweatpants. Hanes, Champion, Nike, Land's End...

Source: BTW...aren't the buttons on the faux fly and cuffs of these a cute idea?

But I like to think of them as glam sweatpants :-)

Back to the pattern: Slash pockets, a drawstring waist with elastic, and cuffed legs. However, the legs on the Hudson pants are a bit different - full in the abdomen and hip, and then fitted through the leg.

I really like the fit on these pants - I cannot believe I'm wearing knit pants without a tunic top. Thank you, Kelli!

A few sewing notes:
  • I made the size 16, because my hip is exactly the width of the size 14, and I wanted a little ease.
  • The fitted leg is a bit scary to me. I've spent most of my life trying to camouflage the fact that my love handles are at the top of my thighs - so I'm not likely to sew something that highlights the fact! My fix was to redraft the inside seams. I marked a point 1" out from the bottom edge and cured down from the top edge. This added the softness you can see in my pants legs. 
  • I also narrowed the cuff and lengthened it a bit to accommodate the additional width at the bottom of the leg.
  • Being practical, I knew I wouldn't use a drawstring (they bump out in shirts and drive me nuts), so I ditched it, narrowed the waistband by half, and used 1" elastic in the casing. The resulting back rise fit me perfectly, and I only needed to add 1/2" to the front rise.
I think a 4-way stretch like this ITY is perfect for these pants! no baggy anything. The ITY feels heavenly. 

A couple more pics with McCalls 6928 tunic top...

A definite win. I happen to have some more outrageous ITY knits in my stash, so now I have a pattern to go with :-)

Ciao! Coco

Thursday, September 11, 2014

McCalls 6928 Skirted Tunic in Royal Blue!

First, credit to Mary, of Biblioblog...several weeks ago, she updated her Pattern Review of the tank version of this pattern with her skirted version, and I fell in love with it. It is so pretty!

Bonus - the pattern comes with a bunch of versions, all for woven fabric (although I plan to use it for knits as well, since it has no bust darts).

Really liking this with jeans, the way Mary styled it.

This fabric is a beautifully embroidered eyelet from It's a thick cotton and feels very rich. I'm not a big fan of blue, but one morning Robin Roberts, co-host on Good Morning America, was wearing a stunning royal blue dress. After that, I was on the lookout for something in royal blue.

The unexpected challenge with this fabric was matching the parallel eyelets vertically and horizontally when I laid out the pattern pieces! The color is soooo pretty with white. 

Sewing notes - I did struggle a bit with the bodice of this pattern. The straps are very narrow, and I don't like peek-a-boo lingerie straps :-) And there are no bust darts, always a challenge for me with a woven top.
  • I sewed View D in Medium. This is the skirted version that does not drop in the back.
  • The bodice was lengthened by 1", front and back.
  • The front bodice was cut on the fold, rather than seamed.
  • I widened the straps, but had to rework the armholes and shoulder seams quite a bit to get a nice fit. 
  • And I added about an inch to the skirt. Just for good measure because I'm 5'7" and generally add a couple inches to a pattern.

After finishing this top, I knew I wanted to make a couple more in light-weight woven fabrics. It's such an easy piece to wear over pants, and it's a little dressier than a T-shirt. But I wasn't happy with the bodice. So - yes, I redrafted it for wovens. I've redone the shoulders and armholes, and added a bust dart for my full B-cup. I'm much happier and will share a new version soon.

But meanwhile, one more look, with Virginia leggings...

September is National Sewing Month! And I'm on board - it's all I have planned...

Ciao! Coco

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

BurdaStyle A-Line Tank Dress 06/2011 107B

A little something different - when have you seen me use a belt! But this dress looks so nice with one. And before I go any further, yes, Burda calls this a tank dress, even though it has dropped shoulders and a v-neck.

Overlooking the name, I really like the clean lines, bust darts, and wide shoulders. And I think this little dress is a perfect blend of style and ease for hot summer months. Hot, hot, hot - we've had temps in the 90's for weeks now - that's really unusual for my area of Florida. On the up-side, we've had rain every day, so the foliage and plants are incredibly beautiful and lush. And the Everglades are so full and healthy.

Notice, though, that I'm still avoiding photo sessions outside :-)

A few pics on Emile:

A nice, high back that's cut on the fold, so no center back seam.

The shoulders are only slightly dropped - IMO, very pretty.

The neckline has back and front facings, which make it very easy to get a clean finish on the point of the v-neck.

My sewing notes - for once, I did not make a lot of changes!
  • My fabric is Poppy Red cotton from Kanvas Studio's Tempo Collection. I'm in love with this print and had the fabric for several months while I looked for a pattern that would showcase it. It's retailed as a quilting cotton, but has the hand and weight of a premium calico. Sews very nicely and does not wrinkle easily. It also held it's very bright color in the pre-wash without running!
  • I dropped the bust dart 1.5" and lowered the endpoint of the dart by 7/8".  The darts were really perky!
  • Sizing: I drafted size 38 from the bust dart up, and size 40 below the dart, curing out to size 42 at the hips and carrying the A-line through to the hemline. 
  • While I'm happy with the size 38 choice for the upper bodice and back, I did find that the shoulder seams angled down a bit too much for comfort. They made the arm openings just a little tight when I raised my arms or reached forward. Since I used 1/2" seam allowances, I was able to loosen the angle, and I'll adjust my tissue for future versions.  
  • The hemline - I added 3", which is just about right with the 1 1/4" hem. 
  • I added 2-piece in-seam pockets, rather than attach the pocket lining to the dress front.

When I went looking for a belt, I was shocked. The only skinny belt left in my wardrobe is a snakeskin pattern. I've gotten slack in my retirement. I can only say that two new leather belts, one black and one tan, are already on their way from Overstock. Wow.

 Here's a pic without the belt - maybe it would work better in a solid. It just feels stuffy to me!

I spent the last two weeks in Ft. Myers and have been home for just a couple days. Ashley and D. had a wonderful time at DragonCon in Atlanta (Ashley was a pirate in the DragonCon parade). Once home, she went in hospital for a scheduled surgery - she's home and doing great. They stay so busy!

My sweet sewing helpers and constant companions, Callisto and Nikita (they are sisters):

It does feel good to be home. I've been cutting fabric and taping together some new patterns I downloaded from BurdaStyle. Just my speed. 

Bye for now - Coco

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Grainline Studio - the Alder Shirtdress!

Alert, Grainline Studio fans - a dress! And it comes in two beautiful sleeveless versions - one with unadorned shirt styling, and one (which caught my eye) with a partially gathered skirt.

Both have classic shirtdress styling: a button-band front, yoked upper back with a dropped front shoulder, front bodice pockets, and shirt-tail hemlines. And yes, bust darts.

I love the gathered skirt. It just adds so much comfort and ease to the dress. 

And it's so good-looking!

You might notice that my dress does not have a collar...I just don't do collars :-) So here are the changes and adjustments I made to the pattern:

  • I drafted from a size 14.
  • Once the shoulder seams were sewn, I reshaped the front to a V-Neck and dropped the center back neckline about 1/2".  And drafted a facing for the neckline.
Fabric: Cotton calico from Holly Lobby

  • The right bodice front has an attached button band, while the left front is has a cut-on facing. I used the left front pattern for both sides, eliminating the attached band. Topstitching gives the appearance of a banded edge.
  • I used broadcloth interlining in both front facings, instead of fusible interfacing. Often I find that fusible interfacing locks and stiffens a facing too much - I wanted to be sure that the front bands were fluid given their length.
  • I added side seam pockets 3.5" below the waistline.
  • I also redrafted the front skirt to be same length and shape as the back skirt. And flattened and lengthened the curve at the side seam so it would be a bit more forgiving to hem! My reasoning for changing the front length - well, I'm 66 and just don't wear mini's anymore! 

  • The pattern calls for faced armholes. I trimmed the armholes instead and used self-fabric bias binding to finish them. This is a comfort thing for me.
  • The bust dart is placed as expected with a Big 5 pattern - I moved it down 1.5".
  • Another adjustment I typically make, I narrowed the side seam at the armhole by 5/8" and cured it down to the waist.
  • The bodice length was spot on! And I'm 5'7". 
  • I added 5/8" to the hem allowance, just so I could be more generous in my hem turn. 
Seems like a lot! But it really wasn't. I generally spend a lot of time with a pattern before I draft my tissue, it's part of what I enjoy most about sewing.

A few more views on Emile...

About the pattern: Beautifully drafted and includes 1/2" seam allowances, my favorite since I like to cut/serge my seam allowances. The instruction booklet is so well done, it should make this dress approachable for many levels of sewists. I've seen a couple versions of this dress on Kollabora and in the blogosphere. I'm smitten.

Ciao! Coco

Friday, August 8, 2014

DixieDIY Patterns - Ballet Dress

Well, I have to admit that I've taken note of all the Lady Skater and Moneta knit dresses running around out there. With elbow or 3/4 length sleeves, natural waists, gathered skirts - it's a great look. But the pattern that really caught my eye is the Ballet Dress by DixieDIY.  

It's not a new pattern by any means. Dixie first released it in 2011. And she revised it in 2013, to address suggestions from fellow sewists: she lengthened the bodice and skirt, and narrowed the sleeves.

I think the reason I like the look of this pattern best is the neckline. It's a little higher and rounder than the others, and it balances the longer sleeves and bodice really nicely.

Ok, it also balances my longer skirt nicely...

I'm not planning to wear a short circle skirt any time soon :-) but doing a change-up on the skirt was easy. The skirt is simply two 27" x 44" rectangles! 

The hard part was matching these crazy thin stripes. I found that the only sensible - if kind of tedious - way to do it was by basting my fabric selvages together before laying out the pattern. I was working with 3 yards of fabric! so I did cut out lengths approximate to the bodice and skirt requirements first.

Not bad!

My fabric is a lightweight cotton/lycra jersey from With 50% stretch across the width, it was a little tricky to sew. Some sewing notes:

  • I drafted my tissue from the size Medium, but took the curve out of the bodice side seam - I simply dropped the side straight down from armhole edge to the bottom of the bodice. This increased the waist width to 34" and added just a little ease to the bust.
  • I also added 2 1/2" to the length of the bodice, front and back.
  • And lowered the back neckline by 1/2".
  • At 14", the sleeves are by no means 3/4 length on me, but I decided not to lengthen them. If you want a true 3/4 sleeve, you might want to check this measurement.
  • To keep those stripes lined up, I hand-basted all my seams before sewing them on the machine. Then I used an elastic (lightning) stitch for the seams, followed by a serged finish for the seam allowances.

  • I used the same approach on the waist seam, gathering the skirt and basting it to the bodice before going to the machine. The result is very elastic, but sturdy enough to support the skirt without additional stabilization. I know that some patterns suggest using elastane tape on the waist seam, but I'm allergic to it. I'm glad this worked without it.

  • Also glad I remembered to cut the sleeve hem allowance on an angle to mirror the sleeve. It always amazes me when a pattern doesn't incorporate this simple detail.

  • Speaking of hems...for this fabric, I serged the edge, turned up a 1 1/4" hem, and topstitched just inside the serging with a straight stitch. 
  • Instead of using an attached band 'collar', I applied binding to the neckline. This is just a piece of cotton/rayon jersey from the stash, cut across the stretch of the fabric.


I love this dress. It fits really well and feels wonderful!

Suddenly it's Friday - wishing everyone a safe and enjoyable weekend. Ciao! Coco