Thursday, April 28, 2016

Black Microsuede Pants for Almost Any Occasion-McCalls 4574

One of my favorite patterns is McCalls 4574. This is a pattern for the skirts and pants, not the blouses. I've made each skirt years ago, but my "go to" pattern for pants for myself and my daughter is always this pattern! I love how they are not baggy with gobs of fitting ease  like so many of today's patterns. I love the slimness of the line as the pants taper near the ankle. I like the elastic waistband because my waistline is always changing, a size up and then a size down. When my daughter outgrew little girl patterns we went crazy finding any decent pants in the store. I decided to whip up a pair of these for good. For each of us I used a dark microsuede in a neutral color to allow for versatility. The microsuede seams do not need to be finished off because the fabric doesn't ravel. Microsuede looks quite luxurious so these pants have worked for every major winter event to keep our legs warm in the cold weather, whether we were attending church, numerous Christmas parties, and even the Nutcracker Ballet. I often wear my glitzy blouse with these during the holidays. Simply mix things up with a different blouse, blazer or sweater and we have a simple versatile wardrobe. These pants last for years! The look is classic so it's always in style! Of course other fabrics would work too for a more dressed down look. The variations are limitless. I have a problem of trying various looks because I tend to get stuck on my favorite look. So that will be one of my personal challenges...to try other fabrics for other looks and see how it goes!

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I wear this combination to church on chilly days. I even wore this combination to a Constitutional Law conference I attended that happened to be at my son's college. How I wish I had thought of having a photo taken with my son as I joined him for lunch that day, because he was looking sharp in coordinating colors with his red, white and blue tie, white (or was it light blue) shirt, khaki pants (or was it dark blue) and dark blue blazer. Then that afternoon I picked my daughter up at college and she was wearing her version of these pants, also in black, along with a white dress blouse and her own red blazer (cotton eyelet from Dress Barn that I got on sale a few years ago). I'm going to ask my kids to repeat their patriotic attire for Memorial Day weekend so we can have some sharp photos taken! Meanwhile I'll have to hunt through my old snapshots for other versions of wearing these pants, especially with my Christmas sweater. Anyway, these are indeed versatile and quick to sew, taking only a few hours.
 

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Here are some variations of how my daughter wears her microsuede pants to field placements in college:

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While hunting through all the digital photos that I have copies of, I found this fun series of photos that my son took of us a few years ago. I suggested a fun set of photos instead of our usual "properly pose for the camera" versions. My son took f-o-r-e-v-e-r setting up the camera for these shots so we allowed our boredom to make the most of the moments for funny memories! Anyway...even though I wore blue jeans (I think I was tired from a busy day of baking) my daughter wore her black microsuede pants! You can see more of the cut of the tapered pants in the various ways she held her legs and feet! I really love it! The pants and her shoes are so classic! By the way she is also wearing her all time favorite winter sweater, red with a bit of glitter which she's had for years and refuses to give up!


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I thought it would be fun to share some funny photos while showcasing the cut of these pants, which I love! My daughter seems happy with them too!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

A Vintage Jumper in Brown Embroidered Floral Microsuede for my Daughter-Simplicity 3673

A few years ago my daughter needed business casual clothes for college field placements. I don't remember which came first, the pattern or the fabric. Yet in the end we chose pattern, Simplicity 3673 paired with a contemporary brown microsuede with a touch of whimsy...a contemporary embroidered floral. What a cool way for a collegiate gal to blend retro with today. 

Simplicity 3673

It whipped up quickly! It's quite easy to sew! I actually sewed this a couple of years ago, so I don't remember too many details of the sewing process, so I've been working on collecting photos to fill this post. I did not make a muslin/toile for this. I do not remember how much fitting, if any, I did with her. She is so busy with college and work that often times I have a bad habit of sewing a garment and hoping it fits. Thankfully this fits.
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Here is the front view...

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For a bit of "thrifting on the homefront" I used some cotton from the fabric stash for the bodice lining. I *think* this is the only piece I used to fit her.

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Here is the back view. I handpicked the zipper, which is  my favorite way to sew the zipper. I finished off the inside seams. However the fabric doesn't ravel so I could have skipped this step. The hem was machine sewn.

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Edited: The following photos were added May 1, 2016 since she wore the jumper to church that day. I had never gotten great photos of her wearing this cute outfit before.

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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

A Serviceable Black Wool Skirt for Winter Warmth-Butterick 4136

Winters are a difficult time for me because I get cold so easily. Since moving to Northern Virginia from Texas I have found the longer and colder winters nearly unbearable. However during an 18th century sewing class that I took at Colonial Williamsburg, I learned the benefits of wearing natural fiber fabrics. Natural fiber breathes, which allows one to be cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. My contemporary self decided to take this 18th century advice. Even all of the stores are full of synthetic fibers on the rack, I know how to sew! I am free to peruse the 100% wool section, small as it is, at Jo-Ann Fabrics. I settled on a thin 100% wool with a lovely drape. I decided to use Butterick 4136 for my pattern.   

Butterick 4136

Because it is wool it doesn't ravel. Therefore I did not finish off any inside seams. I didn't even finish off the hem. The hem is simply the edge of the wool fabric. I might change my mind on this. However I don't know the best way to hem the wool since that would create quite a bit of bulk, even with the thin wool. The side zipper is handpicked. The waistband facing is tacked down by hand with a variation on the catchstitch. I didn't take any close up photos since nothing would have been seen with all the black.  

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I enjoy pairing my wool skirt with a 100% wool sweater that I purchased at an alpaca store. It is sooooo soft. Shortly after I purchased this sweater, I found a similar one at a famous clothing store where it was much cheaper. Feeling cheated on the price, I reached out to touch it. It felt horribly stiff and uncomfortable. I love my alpaca sweater!

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And yes, this outfit keeps me warm! I usually pair this with boots in the winter but I just took a quick photo today to complete this work-in-progress post, even though I sewed this a few years ago.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Black Rayon Shorts for Me-Butterick 5358

Years ago I needed new shorts so last May I finally determined to figure out a shorts pattern that I actually like and sew some shorts to wear from one of the many fabrics that had been sitting in the stash. I used to have a shorts pattern I liked a lot from the 80's. It merely opened at the side where the pocket is, and secured with hooks or a button in the waistband. They were the best fit that I have ever worn. However silly me tossed them in the garbage because in the 90's I was thinking they were old fashioned and I had to use a new style pattern. So the 80's pattern was tossed. None of the 90's patterns that I bought worked well for me. Since them I have decided to ignore "the rules" and sew fro my heart.

A few years I bought some old patterns at an antique store in Vermont. McCalls 7005 is one of them, and I *think* that the pattern works like my old 80's pattern. After all, the style of McCalls 7005 is quite similar to the 80's. However this photo is not about McCalls 7005. It was actually my "look at all my fabric for shorts that have been sitting in the stash and might possibly work with these 2 shorts patterns that I want to try" photo. However I will be able to feature that one soon because I've already used the pattern and it does indeed work the way my old favorites did once upon a time.

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Butterick 5358 was purchased when I dug around a pattern bin. I wondered what was in the "empty" bins and I found discontinued patterns...many of which I purchased! I love this pattern. However it is too large for me. Actually the McCalls pattern is a size too small for me and the Butterick pattern is a size too large. Two patterns I love but what a challenge either way I go. Of course silly me did not make a muslin first. Instead I dug into the black rayon fabric, which has gorgeous softness and drape, and cut Butterick 5358 in the smallest size that I could. My resulting shorts were HUGE! (Now that I know I've gained a bit of weight this year, this pattern might now be perfect. I tend to creep up and then creep down in weight, so options are good.) These patterns are  keepers!

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I loved the fabric so much, that I agonizingly and oh so carefully ripped out all the seams...then I oh so carefully cut them down to a smaller size. I left them attached at the crotch. These shorts have an elastic waistband. (By the way, this fabric was also used for the bow in my black and white polka dot 1940's dress.)


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This was the result! My blouse that I had purchased on clearance from Dress Barn a few years ago had been hanging in my closet unworn, but finally it had a  mate so that I could wear it last summer. 

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Saturday, April 23, 2016

Black Linen Skirt with Turquoise Embroidery for my Daughter-Butterick 4136

As mentioned in my previous post, my daughter fell in love with my black linen with turquoise embroidery fabric so she asked for a skirt too. Of course! I had purchased plenty. We decided on this pattern for her, Butterick 4136. We chose View C.

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The front...

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The back...

I used the same techniques I used for my skirt, even though this was a different pattern.

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Another view...

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And off to internship!

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Mother/daughter photo (my daughter's idea) on Mother's Day 2015 at this link.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Black Linen Skirt with Turquoise Embroidery for Me-McCalls 6879

A few years ago I found a gorgeous black linen fabric with turquoise embroidered flowers at Hancock. I bought a few yards not knowing what to sew with the fabric. Finally two years ago I pulled out this pattern, McCalls 6879, to make skirt view A.

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I finally took pictures after having worn it and mending a rip in the back (how embarrassing but I don't think anyone noticed. Thankful for black slips!) Front view...

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While mending the rip, I reinforced the back seam with my triple stitch on my Pfaff.

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Inside details:

This linen ravels prodigiously so I definitely used a zigzag stitch to overcast the exposed edges.


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I made tiny handstitches to secure the waistband. Also shown are darts in the waistband from the inside.

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It doesn't look like it but I think I handpicked this zipper. I'll have to double check that and report back. Update...those are indeed basting stitches. I never noticed that before I saw this picture. I have picked them out and made tiny pick stitches instead. However I recently read an article from Threads magazine by the famous Claire Shaeffer who teaches and writes about couture sewing. It's about the myths of sewing and one of them is about a handpicked zipper. She says it should actually be done with a running stitch. Hmm...not sure I understand that. The handpicked zippers have worked well for me so far and I've been doing them for 27 years.

I also made a thread loop for the hook.
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Last Mother's Day my daughter and I had our photo taken for Me Made May with us wearing our matching skirts (her idea!).

May 10 Mother's Day

While I was cutting out my skirt my daughter walked by and started drooling over my fabric. I laughed and told her I had enough for a skirt for her...so that's how I solved the excess fabric dilemma! I used a different pattern for hers. More on that tomorrow.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Gold and Beige Microsuede Skirt-Butterick 4136

A couple of years ago I made a skirt for myself with Butterick 4136 with some microsuede fabric with gold embossing that I found at Jo-Ann that I really liked. However once I sewed it, I wasn't sure that I liked it. It's been worn a few times, tossed in the donation pile most times, then this year I made a firm commitment to go with it since someone special did compliment me on it the first day I ever wore it. 

Butterick 4136

Here it is.

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I did use a few couture techniques as reviewed in the book at this link.

I hand picked the zipper.

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I used a catch stitch for the waist facing. I did not finish off the edges since the fabric doesn't ravel.

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I got a bit lazy with the hemline and simply machine stitched it because by then I wasn't too keen on all the embossing.

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Anyway, it's wearable. It fits. And I've decided my favorite blouse to wear with it is this creamy lace blouse by Cynthia Rowley that I bought on sale at TJ Maxx. In the winter I wear a black sweater with it if I want to wear a casual skirt during the week. I wore this today which was good for our wintery morning/spring afternoon weather.


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The pattern hangs well and  is a keeper.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

A Tropical Flower Dress-Simplicity 5496

I used to live in Hawaii when I was a toddler. I have a few memories...playing at the beach near the azure blue water...the sugar cane burning...the crowds at Waikiki...the hula dancers...and my mother's floral Hawaiian dress. It was burgundy, almost a sheath dress, and she wore a creamy colored lei. It was for a special anniversary date with my dad. He had a matching shirt. Those fancy dates didn't happen often because we were quite poor and Hawaii is quite expensive. I wanted a dress like that. I did get a shorter version, a simpler one for a little girl, from the same fabric. Mine had a floral trim between the bodice and skirt. I remember I used to wear cream colored costume jewelry with it a lot when I played. I think I was trying to look like my mom did on that date with the lei. I have always wanted a lei. Mom's was full and lush. I lived in Hawaii. Well we were poor. But this gal who loves flowers...maybe someday! =)   
I have  another memory of an emerald green sheath-like dress my mom wore. Again I remember her with flowers. Leis? My mom might laugh. My memory isn't always accurate. But both dresses I'm remembering were long and fitted instead of big and loose. Well, even if they have only existed in my imagination, wouldn't they be lovely? How I wanted a dress exactly like them.
Thus when I grew up my sewing list included a Hawaiian floral dress of some sort. When I lived in San Antonio I found this pattern at JoAnn Fabrics (copyright 2003). This definitely made it easy to  imagine a Hawaiian styled dress!

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I also found a floral fabric at JoAnn that I loved! It has a lovely hand and drape. I think it's rayon.

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It was so easy to put together.

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There were no fitting issues, which was rare for me at this point in my life, after having 2 children and becoming pear shaped. I was about to give up sewing until I sewed this dress. No adjustments necessary. My kind of sewing!

It's hard to tell with the busy pattern, but this is the bow tie back and zipper enclosure. Even though I already knew how to hand pick a zipper (my preferred method which I had learned when I graduated from college) I machine sewed this zipper. I wish I had hand picked it even though my machine work did come out evenly for once and that definitely makes me happy! However I've come to enjoy not seeing all that thread.     

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Inside work. (So, only 1 couture sewing journey points on this dress since I did not handpick the zipper. My one point is for finishing off my seams.)

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Although I wore this quite often, I never had photos taken of me wearing it until I started blogging about my sewing. I wanted the perfect spot...which had to be near water. Hmmm, where to find water in Northern Virginia? Our anniversary was coming, we decided to try a new venue to celebrate. I suggested the National Harbor. We used to drive by all the time when we were house hunting and I determined to have a date there. Finally this was the moment! Photos at this link.

Then last year I participated in Me Made May so I had these shots taken when my daughter graduated from junior college. This was next to the Carrabbas where we celebrated.

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My son took close-ups for me.

May 17 Graduation

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I'm thinking about participating in Me Made May again this year, so I decided to catch up on all my sewing posts. I've never really developed the posts and I think it will make the participating more fun this year. Today I dug deeply into my closet (and my daughter's) to pull out everything I've ever sewn for daily wear. Wow! I was surprised at everything I found. I've already updated a few old posts.