Connie blouse and Tilil skirt

Hello all and happy new year! I hope 2017 is treating you all well so far. Mine is ok, although the last few days have been stinking hot – yesterday it got to 40C, which means we’re stuck in the living room as it’s the only room in the house with air con. I took it as a prompt to edit photos for a couple of FOs. We did make it to the beach yesterday, and the water was delightful to swim in. We saw two dolphins right up near us (after a moment’s panic after seeing the fin that it might be a shark) and a large jellyfish, the latter of which prompted us to get out of the water right quick, but was still beautiful. We don’t get deadly ones down here but they still hurt very much if you get stung by them!

Anyhow, on to the actual sewing content! First up is the skirt, which I finished last year. It’s another Simplicity 1166

I made this one back in October so I don’t remember all of the details but it was made pretty much exactly as the last one, which means that it’s the largest size with an extra 2″ added to the waistband at the back, and the length shortened 3″. I didn’t change the pleats at all – I was even more careful marking them this time because I wanted to see if my problems with the last one was user error, however they fit into my enlarged waistband perfectly!  I feel like there is a pleat missing or a drafting error for the larger sizes, maybe. Anyway it worked in my favour I guess.

The fabric is some Ikat that I bought at Spotlight a while ago. It was on their clearance table for months and I kept coming back to it so in the end I bought it, despite it being just a little bright for my usual comfort zone. I made this in the leadup to our October Bali holiday because I thought I might wear it there and I figured the colours would fit in there better than here! In the end it was too warm to wear this skirt there, it’s too much fabric, although the denim version was the perfect plane outfit.

I really like how the stripes in the Ikat show off the different angles in the skirt. The fabric is a bit heavier than the last make, and hangs really nicely. It took me ages to take photos because when I bought the buttons I ended up with one too few and couldn’t sew the last one on until I went back and bought another, which I was very lazy about doing. I did wear the skirt in the meantime though! Initially it felt really bright and garish which seems so strange to me now – it’s become a real favourite and I get a lot of compliments on it.

I elasticised the back again and I was thinking I might need to go back and make it tighter, or take back out some of the extra I added, because the skirt is a bit loose. However last time I wore it I noticed that it pulls at the front where the waistband meets the skirt. You’re supposed to add a large snap there and I never bothered, but because the placket sits on one of the stripes of the Ikat I can see the skirt is pulling right where the snap should be. That pulls the buttonholes on the waist right to the edge and distorts the waistband, which makes the skirt sit loose. So I’ll add the snap and I think that will fix the issue, or at least minimise it.

I really love this pattern. It’s so comfortable and easy to wear, and it feels elegantly casual. I probably don’t need another at this stage but I can definitely see myself making it again as the others wear out. The Turnstone version needs to be re-hemmed, because the back stretched out on the bias and is now quite ridiculous. I’m being very slack about my mending and fixing pile, so it’s been there a while and I really notice its absence in my wardrobe. Must get on it and get it back in rotation!

Now for the blouse! This is the bodice of Butterick 6055, which I have made three times now, lengthened into a blouse. I was pretty ad hoc about it, and I’m not sure I’m happy with how it turned out.

To make the bodice into a blouse, I added 4″ and followed the curve of the sideseams out. I experimented with the darts and ended up sewing the top part of the dart as marked on the pattern, and then tapering very quickly to nothing below.  I also ended up sewing the centre front seam below the facing with a smaller seam allowance, because my stomach needed extra room there.

The back is a bit too tight and I noticed on wearing it that the fabric has pulled around the back darts, so I think I might take them out altogether. You can see in the above photo that it’s bunching up.

I sewed this is an attempt to get out of my sewing slump, and because I really could use some shirts in my wardrobe. However, I just wasn’t feeling it I was not very careful with it. the hems are terrible (I should go back and fix them), and I think I need to reshape the curve of the top armseam to be smoother because they are sitting funny. I think this is an issue with my traced-off pattern, so I’ll go back and fix that too.

I did add a gusset to this one as well, as per my Christmas dress, but I had a lot of trouble with it this time!

The fabric for this blouse is cotton linen from Spotlight and, frankly, it’s awful. The weave is incredibly loose, and you can see the threads pulling away from each other even when it’s not being worn and the seams aren’t under pressure at all. It also pulls off grain if you so much as look at it, which made doing the gussets really hard. They are not neat at ALL but at least I eventually managed to get them in with minimal puckering at the points.

I made my first to B6055’s in the same linen, but the white is the worst of the bunch. The other dresses haven’t worn very well either – they’re ok, but I will probably need to retire the navy one at the end of this summer, as it’s looking a bit sad. I wouldn’t buy this linen again. You get what you pay for, I guess!

It also, of course, wrinkles like nobody’s business! The above photo is after ironing it and then wearing it only for photos. That’s linen for you! I put an invisible zipper in the side, upside down so that the opening is at the bottom, but I forgot to take a photo of it. You can sort of see it in the above photo where I’m lifting my arm up to show the gussets. To be honest, it’s annoying to zip and unzip and mostly I just struggle into this shirt without using the zip, which I can just do.

As wonky as the gussets are, they worked in that I can comfortably do this:

And even this!

Not bad for cut on sleeves. However, there’s some weirdness going on with how the sleeves are sitting, and some odd pulling and folding above the bust, which you can see below and in the first picture. I think in the photos it looks about the same as any cut-on sleeve issue but it does move a bit strangely and look odd in real life.  I’m not sure if this is due to the too-tight back, or the gussets being incorrectly placed, or maybe I pulled things off grain while putting in the gussets, or maybe it’s just that the fabric is light enough that the heavier gussets are pulling it strangely. It’s not a massive problem but I do notice it while wearing it and it makes me feel a bit less put together.

I used mid-weight sew in interfacing for the collar facing. I like how it sits – it’s been washed once more since these photos and those points have calmed down a little, but I do like a collar with a bit of weight to it. However another problem of the linen is it’s a bit sheer, and the facing at the front shows through. You can only just see it in these photos because they’re a bit overexposed (honestly I feel like I have totally forgotten how to take blog photos! I hope I’ll get back into the swing of it soon!) but it’s quite obvious in real life, and I’m not sure I’m ok with it. It looks… odd.

I tried it with my Malmaison skirt which is the other skirt I can see it going with and I’m nor sure I like it. The issues with it makes me feel like it’s more casual, because it’s not as neat, so I like it better with a skirt I feel is more casual. Also, without the skirt of a dress to hold it down it rides up. I think I might like this shirt better in a heavier fabric, with the side seams tapered out further at my hips, and maybe and extra inch added. As it is, I see it getting some wear because it does fill a gap in my wardrobe, but honestly I’m hoping to replace it with something better before long. At least the linen is out of my stash?

Turnstone skirt

Hello lovelies! Here is my new favourite make (my favourite is always whatever I most recently finished, ofc), the skirt from Simplicity 1166.

I’d already made the top, but the skirt was what originally made me purchase the pattern. I don’t buy many skirt patterns because how many variations on ‘cut a rectangle, maybe shape it a little, attach it to a waistband’ does one person need? About three, according to my stash… but I do keep an eye out for skirts with a bit more shaping or some drafting details, and I thought the pleats and shaped waistband of this one would be interesting.

The fabric is a very lightweight cotton denim from DK fabrics. I stopped in to get some silk organza for a presscloth and interfacing, and ended up also getting 3 metres of this at $5 a metre. Couldn’t resist. It’s quite light with a thin stripe through it, and a denim weave, and it’s got a lovely slubby natural quality while also being gorgeous and soft. It’s a dream to wear and I suspect it will wear well. I’ve been thinking about going and getting more to make a shirt, but I think it would make me look washed out if it were close to my face.

I didn’t buy it with this specific pattern in mind, but just because I need some more casual, nuetralish skirts that I can wear with tshirts on the weekend or on casual Friday. I settled on this pattern and then discovered I didn’t have quite enough fabric. This fabric is about 120cm wide, which meant the pattern didn’t quite fit. Which was annoying, since I’d already cut out one front panel. Holding that panel up to my waist I realised the skirt is also LONG, and hit me at a place which made it looks very dowdy, so I folded 3″ of length out of the pattern and managed to fit it on the fabric, just. I had to cut the waistband with the stripes running horizonatally, but I was considering doing that anyways.

Here it is with its intended shirt:

My waist measurement is just over the largest size for this skirt so I held the waistband up to my waist and decided it would be a bit tight, so I added and extra 2″ total to the back waistband. I had meant to add some extra to the side seams when cutting but forgot – and it wouldn’t have fitted on the fabric anyway – so I just sewed the side seams smaller. I also put some elastic in the back – I zigzagged the ends of the elastic to the waistband facing, pulling it tight so it gathers in. I do need it – I suspect the waistband would have fit me perfectly as drafted but then it would have been too tight when I sat down. I don’t at all mind the gathers on such a casual skirt and anyway, a gathered elastic band is better than a falling-off or cutting-in-half skirt.

I do want to move that top button in because it sits where my stomach starts to go in again so right now it sticks out a bit. There’s supposed to be a snap on the inside between the third and fourth button but it sits fine without it so I didn’t add it.

It needs to come in maybe 0.5cm

I also had trouble putting it together. This was about 50% user error and 50% poor pattern writing. I was still a bit sick while sewing this and also did not read the pattern very carefully because it’s a skirt, right? How complicated can it be? Well. I got all the skirt bits together but then they didn’t fit the waistband! I checked and it hadn’t stretched out – I’d stay stitched – although I did find a pleat marking I’d ignored, because I hadn’t been able to work out what the pleat paired with. Always a good sign. Like finding one leftover screw.

I was feeling CROSS with this skirt by this point, so I ended up just sewing it up the back until the skirt fit the waist, and then chopping the extra off. I basted it to the waist and tried it on and it looked… fine, but a bit awkward. I decided I’d go buy some buttons and put them in and see how it hung when properly buttoned.

Before doing this though, after a day of cooling down, I googled to see what other people had made. Seamstress Erin has made one, and mentioned no  issues, and La Sewista has made one – she DID have problems and, like me, couldn’t work out where that pleat was meant to line up. But I could see from both of theirs that their pleats were closer to each other and to the front than mine, and the side seam was not at the sides! You can just see this in the line drawing but it’s not clear, and it’s not explicitly mentioned anywhere in the instructions. The instructions also don’t point out where the pleats line up – they just say ‘sew the pleats by matching up the markings’ or something similar. But there was enough information to tell me that I had done a bad. So I unpicked everything and serged the bits I’d cut off back on. Luckily, in the stripe, you can barely see this at all! Here is the back side of it, so you can see (and also see the evidence of the denim weave:

And here it is on, the join is just barely visible, if you look.

So I re-examined the pattern to figure out where I’d gone wrong. The back panel is actually marked ‘back and side front’ panel, because it is meant to wrap around the front. And there was a pleat line I’d missed – one of the larger size pleat lines is mislabelled ’14’ rather than ’24’ so I’d not seen it. The trick is that there are the two front pleats and then the third pleat goes around the pocket – so there’s a pleat line about two inches from the side seam of the front piece, and another two inches from the side seam of the back piece. The pocket therefore sits in a deep pleat, and it and the side seam are hidden. I found this very hard to photograph, but here are my attempts:

you can just see the pleat seam to the left of the pocket
I’m holding that third pleat open
Pulling the pocket bag out – no dollars but no moths either, thankfully

I still think the sizing is off on the larger size, though. Even after working out my error, the skirt was too big for the waistband – and this is the waistband that I’d added 2″ to! I ended up sewing the side seams at the regular seam allowance, and also taking a bigger pleat. I suspect that the two front pleats should be bigger, and perhaps a bit closer to the placket. From the diagrams, it looks like the front is supposed to be small enough that the pocket bag sits under the facing, which is not the case for me, but perhaps that’s to be expected for the bigger size.

I am still struggling with taking good photos of the insides, sorry.

Anyhow, after a bit of fiddling I got everything together, and the pockets sit exactly where they should, and it looks GREAT. The first time I tried it on after I had sorted out my error I was just thrilled. Luckily this fabric is very forgiving and shows no sign at all of all the times I had to unpick things.

I did consider lining it but decided to keep it breezy and light. It’s long enough that it weighs itself down and I don’t miss the lining. I just top stitched the hem, although I note it drags at the back, just enough that I notice. I thought this might be because I didn’t account for my swayback but I noticed the back hem shows even on the hanger, so I suspect a cutting error when I took the length off. I’ll go back and fix it eventually but I might leave it a while in case the hem drops on the bias. I hung it for two days before hemming, with no dropping, but sometimes it takes a while.

Cat-meo. Cameow?

I also initially put in some square buttons, because they were the only ones I could find that I liked. I knew before I sewed them on that they would always look wonky, and they did. So I took myself off to the Button Bar and Veronica sorted me out, as always, with these round wooden look ones. They’re actually plastic and sewn on backwards because they have an engraved star on the front that I didn’t like. I should have known better than to go anywhere else (the square ones were from Lincraft) but Veronica only works later in the week these days and I bought my buttons on Monday. Didn’t want to wait! Should know better.

I don’t think it really shows in the photos but the placket is a bit wonky at the top. Another time I would top stitch it – the pattern doesn’t say to and I complied, but the wonky is from it rolling a bit unevenly so I would topstitch or at least understitch. I also initially pressed the darts to the side because I find that more flattering, but it looked odd because the side pleat was going the other way, so I went back and pressed them to the front as the pattern directs.

The pockets are pretty small and shallow – they perfectly fit my work pass card, and my phone and wallet fit but feel a bit precarious. Anything too heavy drags the skirt down a bit though so I don’t think I’d bother to change them if I made this a second time. I find the length perfect and would have been overwhelmed if it were any longer. The waistband does fold over the day but I don’t think it looks bad. It just is.

Here’s a TL;DR of the changes I made and problems I had:

Changes

  • I made the largest size – size 24 – for my 110cm-ish waist
  • I shortened the skirt 3″
  • I added 2″ to the back waistband and then added elastic to it.
  • I used sew in interfacing because that was the heaviest interfacing I had.

Problems:

  • The pattern is very unclear about where the pleats go
  • The first two pleats pleat on the front piece
  • The second two pleat around the pocket and side seam – one side of the pleat is on the front, and one is on the back.
  • I found that the skirt was still too big for the waistband, despite having added length to the waistband, so something is very off there.
  • I suspect that the larger size pleats haven’t been sized up enough. If you are making this, I suggest lining everything up to check before you sew the pleats, to see if it will all fit together.

I’m a bit unimpressed with those drafting and instruction oversights, to be honest. I’ve not come across any discrepancies this large before in a Big 4 pattern. However, the original vintage drafting is so clever and neat, and I feel like it gives a perfect amount of volume without compromising on comfort or ease of movement at all. I think this will be the perfect casual skirt – I don’t intend on doing much housework in it but if yoga pants didn’t exist I think this would be the next best thing, and very practical, although I think this fabric might be a bit warm in full summer. I will definitely put this on the list to make again.

 

Piper shirt

Do you ever have a moment where you have a useful and practical list of garments you need in your wardrobe, and then one day you’re just like ‘nah I’ll sew this other thing instead’? Probably. I think most of us do.

You ever make something practical like a white shirt, but you make a version that is in every essential neither season or particularly practical? Yeah, that.

I bought Simplicity 1166 originally for the skirt, which is a very practical and useful looking garment. Here’s your schematics

But I couldn’t stop looking at that shirt. Those weird square armholes! What would the sleeve pattern piece be like? Would it look terrible on me? Probably, right? Those huge baggy sleeves! The model is holding it down but they’re still giant. But… maybe they’d be cool? They’d definitely be interesting!

Well??
I like this photo because it looks like my cat is rolling his eyes at me.

One evening I couldn’t take the curiosity any more, so I pulled it out of the packet and whipped up a muslin. I figured it looked like an ease-y, loose shirt and I could probably get away without and FBA. I traced off a size 20 shoulder with a size 22 from the armhole down. Technically that’s below my full bust measurement by the sizing guide but the actual garment measurements indicate there’s many inches of ease in this one so I figured I could swing it. Here’s my first muslin:

IMG_8551.JPG

That sleeve situation was out of control. The downwards diagonal was sitting right over my breast and making it super duper pouffy. It looked interesting, alright, but not in an elegant, cool way! The sleeves were also really really long. The model clearly has hers folded up about four turns in the photos.

I went back to the pattern and I raised the under arm up 2″, tapering to 1″ at the corner and down to nothing at the shoulder. I duplicated this on the sleeve and walked the seam lines until they matched up – I had a bit of trouble doing this because of the weird shape of the sleeve so what I found worked was to fold out a pleat at the top, flat part of the sleeve until it was the right length when I walked that seam. Then I shortened the side lines of the sleeve cap to the appropriate measurements. This helped with keeping the sleeve width the same, because I still liked that.

I also shortened the sleeve by seven inches. Seven. Inches! Oh and I tapered the front side seam out by 1″, because the sides were pulling and I still couldn’t be bothered doing and FBA, and anyway I didn’t need the width at the centre I needed it at the side. Here’s muslin two, it’s the white side:

IMG_8567.JPG

Much more maneagable. You can see from the pulling that I really ought to have done and FBA but I still couldn’t be bothered and I had plenty of movement room so I figured I could live with some pulling. I was figuring that this shirt would be a nice casual topper for the weekends, a good throw over beach shirt or when I wanted something a bit dressier than a tshirt. I wasn’t aiming for a perfectly fitted dress shirt, so comfy and easy was more important. Instead I sort of cheated and I slashed and spread the front piece by 1″ (my notes aren’t clear if this was as well as or instead of the 1″ at the side seam), and I took a 1/2″ tuck out of the front and back shoulders to make the sleeve sit higher up on my actual shoulder. I also lowered the dart by 1″ – this was the first time I have lowered the dart wholesale instead of changing the angle or mucking around with it in some other way, and I am SO pleased by how it turned out. Spoiler alert: perfect placement:

Look at that perfect darrrt!

I was pretty over muslining especially for a shirt that I didn’t see much everyday use for, so I went ahead and cut into my fabric. The shirt itself went together pretty quickly. I had a BLAST sewing those pointy sleeves but also they were very tricky, and I didn’t do a super great job on the left front, it’s a bit puckery. Bringing the sleeves up and making them less dramatic plus my less than precise sewing because once again, I’d decided that near enough + a fun time sewing = good enough made them not quite as crisp as they could have been, and more rounded) means I’ve lost some of the drama and obviousness of that design feature. I figure it’s a fair tradeoff for a shirt that’s actually wearable.

Puckery sleeve corner

So yes, the shirt came together fairly quickly but I had a connundrum. I initially only cut out one sleeve because I wasn’t sure I had nailed the length. When I put in my shortened sleeve I was worried I’d made it too short. I’ve been thinking about the rolled/unrolled length and I wondered if I’d gone too far, so I cut out another sleeve that was a bit longer, and sewed that in. This took a bit of wrangling with re-drafting the cuff. The original shorter sleeve basically stopped where the sleeve had started to narrow, and for the longer sleeve I had to find a suitable spot to put the cuff. Here’s the shirt with both sleeves in:

Both sleeves are cuffed once. I couldn’t cuff the longer sleeve any more because the cuff was now too narrow. I’m not sure how the model managed to get it cuffed so high – presumably she has thinner arms than I and also probably knows that fancy way of cuffing where you end up with the cuff on the outside, which I saw one time on pinterest and totally failed to learn. Actually looking at these I can also see that the fronts are scooping up – I’ve noticed that in my finished piece and figured it was because I didn’t do that FBA and should have added length but I’m wondering if it’s not a cutting error on my part because the muslins aren’t doing that. The front IS shaped but not that dramatically.

Scoopy front and weird wibbly arms. You can see how much less dramatic the batwing sleeve effect is compared to as drafted

As you can see, I ended up going with the short sleeve. I threw it out on instagram and was initially leaning towards the longer sleeve because it seemed like a more familiar silhouette. I was also suggesting having the shorter sleeve but a smaller cuff to bring it in. In the end the instagram opinions were pretty evenly divided, so I had to think for myself! Terrible. The deciding factor was how off grain the sleeves looked. I checked and double checked and they’re definitely cut on grain although it’s possible I introduced a grain error when redrafting things and the grainline isn’t where it should be on the pattern itself. The sleeve is a totally unconventional shape so it was hard to double check or intuit it. In the final product, though, I think the weight of the cuffs is pulling it straight.

I’m really glad I went with the shorter sleeve. I think it suits the silhouette better and it’s going to make it more wearable as a casual shirt, which is what I wanted. I’m trying to up my weekend-wear game. I did use some cheap fusible interfacing and it’s made the cuffs a bit bubbly, so i won’t be using that again but I don’t notice much in real life.

I wish I’d thought about the front length. Even without the dip, it’s short, because I think it’s meant to be worn tied up. But for me it’s a bit too short to do that without flashing some belly, which I am not against exactly but it’s also not generally the look I’m after.

Tied up – you can see my white undershirt because it’s cold and I’m wearing layers.

I feel like everything about this is hitting me in exactly the wrong places. Perhaps if I lengthened it a few inches so the tie was wear my waistband is? I’m not sure. The buttons are in slightly award places too, I think – I found my high bust point and put one there and then used the button distance gauge that simplicity provided. Because the buttons are so big and therefore so far apart it’s a bit tricky – really I want all the buttons about 1″ lower because then I’d get extra coverage at the stomach and the top button would be in the way when I open it – as it it prevents the button band from folding out to sit neatly. But then I’d have gaping over my bust!

The back when tied and the pulling back sleeve – this is why most sleeves are curved I guess!

However in the end I think I like this shirt best of all tucked in:

Which makes the shorter length just perfect. Even if I do kind of look like a nurse

Perhaps the nurse effect would be less dramatic with one of my bigger skirts. But you know, I’m kind of into it! I can actually see myself making this again, although I might reign in the collar which turned out to be kind of gigantic and also weirdly swoopy and pointy. Which I would have known if I had paid attention because it’s like that in the line drawings. I don’t notice it as much in these photos but irl it seems so dramatic – maybe because it’s right near my face so I can see it all!

Seriously look at that, those points are hanging over my shoulders!

I sewed the sleeve cuffs with flat felled seams, so that whatever way they are there’s a neat finish. It took a bit of braining because I initially put them in the wrong way so they are a bit overworked and frayed a few places and I had to satin stitch them down, oops. I did take some closeup photos but they all turned out a bit crap so I won’t show you. I need to work on getting better detail photos. Anyone have any tips?

I also finished the facings with overlocking and I tacked down the back neck facing because it kept flipping up.

I could stand to shave a bit off of that collar at the back, too…

Anyway, I’ve rambled long enough that I’m going to synthesise the important detailed here:

Pattern: Simplicity 1166 “head back to the 1950’s with this great vintage simplicity pattern. pattern includes button up blouse, bra top with crossed back, and full skirt with buttons. simplicity sewing pattern.”

Fabric and notions: White broadcloth from Spotlight, 4 3/4″ white buttons from Lincraft

Size made: Size 20 shoulder, size 22 armhole and down

Adjustments:

  • Brought armhole up 2″, tapering to 1″ at turn, and 0″ at shoulder. Duplicated on sleeve, keeping original sleeve width.
  • Took a 1″ tuck out of the shoulder width
  • Spread front by 1″
  • Lowered the dart by 1″ using this method http://curvysewingcollective.com/tutorial-lowering-or-raising-a-bust-dart/
  • Shortened sleeve by 7″, redrafted cuff to match it

Changes I would make next time: Straighten out front so it doesn’t dip in the middle; take more care about the sleeve corners; reduce width of the collar points.

Things I like:

  • I love the shape of the collar before it gets too drastic at the ends
  • The ease-y fit is a bit outside of my usual shape but I am really digging it
  • I am just in love with Spotlight broadcloth, it’s such a nice hefty fabric and it behaves so well
  • it’s a casual shirt but it makes me feel fancy!