December 10, 2016

Tutorial: How to match plaids on a pleated peplum top or jacket

Hello, everybody! Soon, I'll be sharing a full write-up on my version of Burda 9404, a girl's jacket with notched lapels and a lovely pleated peplum. I made this jacket in a very soft large-scale plaid flannel that has a black, white and turquoise color scheme. It's going to a girl who's turning 6 this weekend. I can't wait to show it to you!
Matching vertical plaids across the bodice and peplum: that's what we're gonna do in today's tutorial.

But before reviewing the pattern, I wanted to offer this tutorial for matching plaids on this type of jacket. It's not a standard plaid-matching tutorial, because the jacket has a peplum with pleats. Plaid-matching-wise, that kinda gums things up.

May 28, 2016

Lekala 4456 Blouse Sew-Along #4: Plackets, collar, and sleeves

Previously: Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3

Before we begin today's session, give yourself a round of applause: you've made it past the halfway mark! And, to be completely honest, the 6th installment is just pics of the finished garment -- so you're even closer to your goal.

But don't get too cocky. We've got our work cut out for us today: plackets, collar, sleeves. At the end, you will have a true BLO! (Blouse-Looking Object).

Today's Agenda:

  • Attach plackets (10 minutes)
  • Sew the side seams (10 minutes)
  • Attach the collar (10 minutes)
  • Hand-stitch collar lining (20 minutes)
  • Assemble the sleeves (10 minutes)
  • Insert the sleeves (15 minutes)
Yep, you read that right: we're doing all this in about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Think you can beat the world land-speed record for Lekala 4456? Let's find out.

May 23, 2016

Lekala 4456 Blouse Sew-Along #3: Darts and yokes

Previously: Part 1 - Part 2

You're still hangin' in there. I like your style, babe. Ready to tackle the third installment of our six-part series? We'll be assembling the front and back pieces.

Today's Agenda:

  • Sew darts on front and back (5 minutes)
  • Sew center back seam (10 minutes)
  • Attach back yoke with lining (10 minutes)
  • Attach front yoke with lining (15 minutes)
  • Add welts (15 minutes)
  • Sew the shoulder seams (10 minutes)

Altogether, today's session will take about 1 hour and 5 minutes to complete.

May 18, 2016

Lekala 4456 Blouse Sew-Along #2: Cut and mark fabric, apply interfacing, assemble collar

Previously: Part 1

Hi! You came back! I'm delighted.

In the last installment, we ordered our custom pattern, assembled the printed pages, estimated yardage, and gathered our tools and supplies.

Now, we're ready to start construction. Woo hoo, finally some visible progress!

Today's agenda:

  • Cut out the fabric (20 minutes)
  • Mark darts (5 minutes)
  • Apply fusible interfacing (10 minutes)
  • Sew the collar (10 minutes)
  • Attach collar to stand (10 minutes)

With rest and interstitial dawdling, all of this will take about 1 hour to complete.

May 14, 2016

Lekala 4456 Blouse Sew-Along #1: Welcome, preparing the PDF, and assembling supplies

Welcome, all! I'm so excited to be starting our new sew-along for Lekala 4456. This cap sleeve blouse has front and back yokes, welts over faux pockets, and shaping darts at the bust and back.

In this first session, we'll be doing the un-glamorous (but necessary) prep work for the print-at-home pattern. But don't despair! By the end of the session, you'll have a custom-fit paper pattern, including seam allowances, that will serve you for years to come. This is such a versatile pattern, you could make a blouse from every kind of fabric, in every color of the rainbow!

Today's agenda

  • Get your Lekala 4456 pattern (5 minutes)
  • Print the PDF and tape the pattern together (30-60 minutes)
  • Estimate yardage needed (15 minutes)
  • Gather tools and supplies (5 minutes)
All told, these activities will take about 60 to 90 minutes to complete.

May 7, 2016

Next up: Lekala 4456, Cap Sleeve Blouse Sew-Along

Hi guys! Just a quick reminder: our sew-along for Lekala 4456 will be starting soon. This cap-sleeve blouse is perfect for summer. Last time, we made the pattern as a mechanic-style shirt in a lightweight wool-look poly. This time, the tutorial uses a slinky poly peachskin print. Less garage, more office. But you can use any fabric you want, of course. Assemble your supplies, and get excited!

April 18, 2016

Tutorial: PDF patterns (Part 1 - printing, calibrating, taping)

Welcome! This is a two-part tutorial for preparing print-at-home patterns. By the time we're done, you'll have a full set of pattern pieces -- including seam allowances -- ready to lay out on your fashion fabric.

If you're an experienced sewist, you've probably dealt with PDF patterns before. If so, I hope you come across a couple of tips here that make you go, "Ooh ... I didn't know that!"

And if you're a beginner, we have lots of pics to help you navigate your first PDF pattern experience.

April 11, 2016

Finished project: Lisette for Simplicity 1419, aka "Skull-tastic Chambray Dress"

The skulls made me do it. I mean, wouldn't you? Wouldn't you snatch up a 2-yard remnant of this tiny skull-printed chambray? 
Skulls. And stars and lightning bolts for some reason. Do not question this chambray, or it will zap you.
With the help of Simplicity 1419, I transformed it into a perfectly cromulent pickle-flavored angel food cake of a dress that combines the weird with the conventional.

April 7, 2016

Announcement: Lekala 4456, Cap Sleeve Blouse Sew-Along

Hello, friends! I'm working on something new: an illustrated sew-along for Lekala 4456. This pattern is a cap-sleeve blouse that features a lined yoke in front and back, as well as welts over faux pockets in front.

April 2, 2016

Finished project: Butterick 5880, aka "Slippery Boatneck Flower Explosion"

Hello! Here, have yourself a martini. We're going into retro cocktail dress mode!

Butterick 5880, originally released in 1951, reflects a style that's much earlier than Mad Men, but I would still classify it as a "Joan" dress. Just look at the wiggle silhouette, the luscious diagonal side darts, the cut-in sleeves!
Have you finished your martini? Come on, down the hatch.  Because here's a bombshell: my version does not include the draped flounce at the hips. I know. It's a main feature of the dress. But what respectable pear silhouette needs all that fabric pooling there? By eliminating the flounce, I allowed this dress to become a (sort-of) office-wear garment. Which I need. Because I work in an office five days a week. Rarely do I attend fancy flounce-appropriate cocktail parties.

Wanna see more pics? Read on. I'll make you another martini while the images load.

March 16, 2016

Finished Project: Lekala 4456, aka "The Russian Mechanic's Top"

"Здравствуйте"! Google Translate tells me that means "Hello" in Russian. (Da?) Today we venture to Moscow, where Russian pattern company Lekala is headquartered. I made model 4456, a cap-sleeved blouse with a curved yoke and welts over faux pockets.

Lekala offers print-at-home patterns that take full advantage of digital media. Instead of coming in pre-set sizes, Lekala's software customizes each pattern to your individual body! It uses 8 basic measurements, plus 11 tweaks to increase/decrease specific body parts, such as neck and arm lengths.

Because of this, I took a leap of faith and eschewed both muslin and the usual adjustments (FBA, hip width increase, etc.). Was that a mistake, or did Lekala's digital customization come through for me? Let's find out.

March 7, 2016

Finished Project: Simplicity 1779, aka "Pointy Peter Pan Collared, Flutter Sleeved, Blue Watercolor Floaty Object"

Biceps. I got 'em. Chunky ones. Great agrarian sheafs-of-wheat-hauling ones. (Disclaimer: I have never hauled a sheaf of wheat in my life, but ancestral vestiges linger)

Flutter sleeves? No thank you, ma'am.

So why did I make a top with flutter sleeves? Because I had a remnant, and there was exactly enough fabric to make a top with flutter sleeves. Not an inch more. And you know what? In this floaty, drapey polyester crepe de chine from the Hancock remnant bin, I think I can actually live with how they look on me.

February 18, 2016

Special technique: Making an FBA for McCall's 7053

Last time (Finished project: McCall's 7053, "An Homage To Two Eras -- Now With Salmon"), I promised to show you the Full Bust Adjustment (FBA) for this pattern. Here 'tis.

To recap: McCall's 7053, View B, is a loose-fitting blouse that includes a scarf-like drapey cowl neckline.
Photo Source: McCall's 7053
Will that gorgrous scarf detail cause complications when it comes to FBA? Yes and no. Yes, because it seems like the FBA would need to be incorporated into that cowl somehow. Can you even imagine the eighteen-dimensional thinking required to add the right amount of fabric, in the right places, for an FBA on that thing? Only a Guild Navigator could do it. Luckily, we don't need one, so before you start overdosing on Spice, listen up: the cowl is immaterial, as it turns out. We can make a perfectly adequate FBA without it.

February 16, 2016

Finished project: McCall's 7053, "An Homage To Two Eras -- Now With Salmon"

Oh, look! McCall's resurrected this loose-fitting retro blouse pattern from their archives.

And it's amazing how the line drawings are nearly timeless. In different fabrics, one or both of these blouses could fit into nearly any modern decade, no?

January 28, 2016

Finished Project: New Look 6184, "Silky Camo Sophisticate"

New Look 6184 has been a stalwart standby in Simplicity's stable for, oh, about eleventythousand years. Why? Because it's versatile and interesting, yet easy to make. If you are of average bust (I'll get into that later), I predict you'll get a lot of mileage out of this gal.

January 18, 2016

Troubleshooting an FBA gone horribly wrong


It was another ordinary afternoon in what she called called her "studio" -- a tiny corner in a dingy shared room, overstuffed with fabric scraps and strands of thread littered across the stained carpet like spider's legs after a cat's been playing. Outside, a greasy drizzle dripped from the sky, mixing with the street grit of the city in a way that made puddles crunch when you dragged your two-bit shoes through them. 

She was smiling. Smiling like a dirty politician who knows where the missing ballot boxes went. Because today, she had decided something. Today was the day she was going to murder a neckline. [CUE STABBY MUSIC]

Yep. Killed me a neckline, I did. But I had a good reason: self defense. The thing was literally causing me to go crazy*.

Photo source: BAMF Style, Bogart in The Big Sleep, Birdseye Wool Suit. By the way, have you ever visited BAMF Style? Go, look! Now! It is a series of detailed reveries on the tailored suits and other garb of Bad Ass MoFo characters in film and TV, described exquisitely by a writer who clearly knows his man-clothes. How have I not stumbled across this site before? Not to self: add to blogroll tout suite! 
* (not literally)

Let's explore the crime scene, shall we?

January 5, 2016

Finished Project: Cynthia Rowley for Simplicity 2215, aka "Hayley Mills High On Creamsicles"

Confession: I've always had a thing for a look I'm calling Mid-Century Gamine Picnic-Wear.

Casual and comfortable, but also polished, these outfits usually involve some kind of rolled-up jeans, ballet flats or saddle shoes, and a crisp gingham slightly-cowboy-influenced "camp shirt."

Love the gingham. So wholesome. So not in sync with my dark, ironic soul.