Saturday, February 27, 2021

Vogue 1768 - Tilton Top

 Vogue 1768 pattern, by designer Marcy Tilton, is described as a Misses semi-fitted, pullover peplum top with asymmetrical seaming, and raised notch collar.  

You must be "on your game" when making this top.  There are asymmetrical pieces to  cut and sew together, mitered corners and a lot of topstitching.     I loved the front, but when I  looked at the back line drawing, I thought I was looking at the line drawing for a different pattern. For example, like McCalls 7513.

McCalls 7513

While the front had asymmetrical seaming, and irregular shaped flared peplum pieces attached to the bottom with curved seaming, the back had shoulder seam princess seams and a straight seamed lower section with pleats.   I have always liked the Tilton sisters' designs for their unique style lines.  To the best of my recollections, their garments always included repeats or references to the garment front design lines in the garment back.  I confirmed this by going out to Etsy, doing a search on Tilton patterns, and comparing the front and black line drawing of many of their patterns. I am not sure what happened on this design. 

 I may be a bit sensitive to the consistent princess seam thing, associating it with  "inexperienced designer" because of a personal experience.  Long ago I took a pattern design class at G Street Fabrics  where I  drafted the pattern for an Armani jacket.  I had a picture of the jacket front which had armhole princess seams. But no picture of the back. So I blithely put shoulder princess seams in the back.  The instructor suggested  I use armhole princess seams in the back to repeat those in the front.  

So I  redesigned the back for this top.  I made the original back of a muslin fabric and basted it to the front to make sure I liked the fit. Then I took the back muslin and drew my new style lines on it.  I cut along those style lines and added seam allowances.  I added the armhole princess seams. I added  two overlapping peplum pieces attached with a curved seam. I added a bit of flare to the  peplum pieces to replicate the function of the pleats in the original design.  The fabric used was a light weight ponte knit of  an unknown blend from the stash.

Front with original back muslin

New Back 

 I like my back so much better. It satisfies my need for repetition and consistency.

Restyled Back

Vogue 1768

Friday, February 5, 2021

 Another  sweat suit  make using two more  Grasser Patterns  combined with some luscious organic tencel cotton stretch fleece (.76 tencel lyocell, .28 organic cotton .06 spandex)  from Ewe Fine Fiber Goods , a small/yarn fabric store in Charlottesville, VA.

The top is  Grasser No. 528. I liked the raised neck line, so cozy,  and the asymmetrical vertical pleats.  In reality the pleats don't stay neat and vertical. 

The pants are  Grasser No. 725. They are meant to be made out of a firmer knit like ponte or wool double knit. The drape and softness of my fabric affected the look of my pants. I took in all seams significantly to get a neater appearance and closer fit. The  instruction included two  construction techniques I had never seen before, 1. Using grosgrain ribbon in the hem allowance of knit pant to maintain the shape of the leg hems. 2. And for the waistband, using two layers of elastic to provide a firm but stretchy waistband and a crisp turned edge to the pant top.

The set is very soft and comfortable.  However it reminds me of pajamas and I don't ever wear pajamas during the day unless I am sick,  recovering from surgery, etc. This sewing project confirmed what I have always suspected, which is that I feel more attractive  and therefore more comfortable, in garments with a bit more shape and structure.    I love the neckline of the top  and hope to use it in another garment.

Grasser top 528 and pant 725

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Snow and Sweat

Ah how things change.  I have never been a fan of either sweatshirt/sweatsuit  styles or  independent patterns. But here I am sewing sweats, well leisurewear type clothing,  using PDF patterns.  Why? well .. Covid quarantining, retired but can't travel,  and between contracting jobs.  I get up early and go to my boot camp workout (yes, future DIL talked me into it).  Wait until my birthday when all workout attendees have to do the same number of pushups as my age. I will not be popular. I am home and showered by 7:30 AM. Which leaves me a lot of time to watch Youtube video's, go down Google gopher holes, and spend money. One day both Peggy Sagers and Linda Lee had YouTube videos about sweat shirting material and leisure wear patterns.  I perused LL's sweat shirting fabric and while they were very nice, they were expensive and would cost an arm and a leg to ship from Calif.  I found many options from closer sources.  It is amazing the fiber blends, weights, and colors that sweat shirting fabric comes in.  According to my Fabric Purchase spreadsheet, this is what I added to my stash.

And wouldn't you know it,  after making the purchases I found some sweat shirting deep in the stash. Big remnants from sewing little boy clothes, circa 2000.

Another time wasting activity I have is going on Etsy, typing  "PDF pattern top" in Search and scrolling through the huge number of  pages of PDF patterns. I look for  previously "not known to me" pattern drafters, in far away countries, in hopes of finding something unique and different.  One I found recently was Grasser patterns. They had some interesting sweatshirt patterns.    The sizes are Russian (so check your measurements) and include different heights. This is a plus for me when buying patterns drafted in locations where the average woman is not as tall as me. Prices are very reasonable. Instructions were good. Though there were some odd terms used (translations) but they were understandable. They only have A4 and plotter print options.  I deal with this by buying a couple of  reams of A4 (international size 8.3x11.7") paper from Staples, and put it in one of the  paper cassette trays of my printer.

I chose #513 to sew out of the heavyweight cotton  sweatshirt fabric.  The fabric  had the same type of body as one of the pattern's recommended fabrics - neoprene. It was fun sewing the undulating seams in the front and back that give the sweatshirt some shape.  The sleeves end in tapered shapes that tie. My fabric had absolutely no stretch. So instead of using the fabric as a neck binding as per the instructions, I made a shaped band in the width the binding would have been. 

What to wear with this sweatshirt?  Warning, I am taking the opportunity to be more creative with my wardrobe pairing.  Expected choice - an old pair of Vince wool joggers.

and for a fun skirt like alternative, the harem pants from the Issey Miyake Vogue Pattern 1328. 

 It snowed today. All very pretty. Just  enough so that the restaurant, where we had reservations for a family birthday dinner celebration,  decided to close.  DH is currently grilling steaks on the deck. Yes, in the snow.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Hoodie Challenge - Garment Designer

Anyone else lose their sewing motivation during this Covid-19 quarantining, self isolation, social distancing, etc.?

An email with this message revived my sewing interest.

Design Challenge: Hoodies Anyone?

“Our first challenge is to invite our users to make a garment using the Hood as found in Garment Designer.”

 I have owned Garment Designer (GD) pattern drafting software for about 6 years.  I attended a fabulous GD workshop in New Mexico a couple years, but have not used it much since. I had to search for the software CD and security hasp to load it on my current laptop. 

Software Website: Cochenille


 Hoods have never been on my radar.  I am not a fan because when worn up, they block my peripheral vision.  Give me a hat anytime.  But that said, it was interesting to learn about hoods. How they are considered to be a "collar".  And how to  measure yourself and draft a hood based on your head width and height,  as explained very clearly in these YouTube videos from Diane Denzel

Pattern a Basic Hood

 Hood Pattern with Modifications

I was actually surprised at the wide variety of hood shapes. From basic (looks like a monk's hood) to the close fitting, multi seamed shapes of performance outerwear, and the unique but bazaar hoods of designer Issey Miyake.   Part of my reason for reviewing hood drafting methods was to compare them to the hood options in GD so I understood the drafting rules, ease etc.  used by the software. 

Though I found some fabulous, hooded garment as inspirations, I had to choose one that was draftable based on my GD skills, and sewable by the Challenge due date.  Here is the photo of the inspiration garment.

Hoodie inspiration photo

 It is a slightly flared, long cardigan, with a wide center band that starts at the hem and extends up the front and becomes the front section of the hood.  When the hood is down, the band is like a big lapel that goes over the shoulder.   The back, front and sleeves were easy to draft in GD, but I did have to manipulate the default hood pattern shape to factor in the band, and add the band piece itself using the Shape feature.  I have included a picture of the GD pattern which includes information that other users can use to draft their own version.  I know I really appreciate finding GD tips and patterns on the internet. 

Garment Designer Hoodie Pattern

The wide front band of this cardigan is a wonderful place for embellishment or color blocking. 


I chose to embellish it with appliques made from the same fabric, but with the wrong side (fuzzy) up to create tonal, textural contrast. I cut circles and donut shapes and applied fusible web to the back/ smooth side of the shapes.  These were ironed to the front band.

The fabric I used is “Sage Mock-Bamboo 10 Ounce Sweatshirt Fleece Knit” of .95 rayon .5 spandex from  Nick of Time Fabric This fabric was wonderfully thick, soft and drapey.  I like to sew knit garments, made from “new to me” patterns, on the sewing machine to test the fit before serging.  This fabric was not fun to sew on the sewing machine.  It did not feed well because of the thickness and stretchiness. It was a dream to sew on the serger. 

 Yesterday it was so dark and rainy, the light sensor on the outside Christmas lights turned them on at 2 PM,  thinking it was dusk.  Depressing.  But today it is crisp and clear  and perfect for a few outdoor pictures. 

Hoodie - drafted in Garment Designer software


Thursday, December 3, 2020

Sewing for Others - Scrubs

As I sew more for others, my respect for custom clothiers increases. My clients are family members who are naively confident in my skills. Another reason to love them!  But to work with  paying clients, each with  a different body shape, fashion taste, and fit preference would be so stressful.

N, one of the future DILs (daughter-in-law), asked me to make her some scrubs for her birthday.  When she is working at the hospital, she must wear the scrubs in the specified color of her department.  But when working in the offsite locations affiliated with the hospital, she can wear her own. I said yes and was quite proud of myself for having snagged a bunch of scrub patterns off the ASG giveaway table last year.  “Aha, I thought, a chance to sew simple styles in cute cotton prints.”  Wrong!

Scrub Patterns

 She showed me pictures on the internet of the type of scrubs she wanted.  Um, not even close in style to the patterns and the fabrics were all poly spandex  blends.

Inspo Pics

I was taking my mom to medical appointments at the time and  while waiting for the Dr.,  Mom and I  took the opportunity to look at and discuss the scrubs the nurses were wearing.  We also asked the nurses what they liked and disliked about their scrubs. They were happy to chat. Comfort and pockets were the most important features.  

Like all of us, N has her own unique body shape.  She is young and fit (daily boot camp style fitness workouts every morning at 6 AM), with a proportionally small waist, a flat tummy, and curvy derriere. The opposite, in all areas, of the body I normally sew for. I have a large waist, curved tummy, and a flat butt.

To avert the fitting confidence paralysis I was starting to feel,  I asked her to loan me her favorite, best fitting scrubs.   I decided to copy the RTW scrub  top and bottom.  The top was a V neck tunic with princess seams extending into pockets. It had bands at the neckline and pocket openings that were  sewn and turned to the outside to provided a neat, clean finish.

Scrub Top 1

 The top was easy to copy by laying it out flat on paper and using a spiked tracing wheel to transfer the seam lines to the paper.  The pants had an elastic back waistband, a flat front waistband and a drawstring. The elastic waistband and stretch fabric made the pants difficult to lay flat  and copy.  I gave up on that  and used a similar pant pattern, modifying the back for a curvy backside as per a great article  in Threads Magazine, Issue 143-July 2009 "Improve the Bottom Line" (adjust your pants pattern to fit a shapely derriere) by Adrena Johnson. Unfortunately, this article is not available online.  There is an article in the most recent issue of Threads Magazine, Issue 212- January 2021  "Fit the Seat of Your Pants" by Vanessa Nirode with similar information.

I took N to Jo-Ann's Fabrics to pick out fabrics.  She had never been in a fabric store. It was an interesting to experience a total newbie's  visit to a fabric store. Her observations about seeing only fabric, no finished garments on display. How hard is was to choose the appropriate fabric. The long line to the cutting table,  of appropriately distanced customers, each with carts of different fabric.  And the conversation with the cutter, all numbers and units of measure. 

For Scrubs #1 she picked out a poly spandex  print for the top and a black poly spandex double knit for the bottom .  

Scrub Top#1

 The fabrics for Scrubs #2 were three colors of poly spandex double knit. The top was color blocked with banded trim on the sleeve’s neckline and yokes.  When worn, the the sleeves looked like they were raglan sleeves, but on closer inspection they were not. I will remember this trick as inset sleeves fit me better than raglan sleeves, but I like the look of raglan sleeves for casual tops.   I used the  pattern for Scrub top 1, but eliminated the  princess seams, and  made  patterns for the yokes, the shaped trim pieces, and the pockets.

Scrub Top #2

N was delighted by both pairs of scrubs and received many nice comments when she wore them.  And  I got an opportunity to practice my fitting skills.


Thursday, November 5, 2020

Sewing for Others - Costume

 The last few months I have been busy sewing for others.  I volunteered for both projects, inspired by  the requested garment and my affection for the requesters.  It was only after making the commitment that my inner voice said, “What have you gotten yourself into?” Both clients have a significantly different body shapes than I do, and I am not experienced with fitting others.   But how am I going to get better at fitting if I don't practice.  Better family members that paying customers, for practice

The most  recent request was for a replica of the dress worn by the character Marion Ravenwood in the movie Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. To be worn to a Halloween party.

The dress  has a fitted top with an empire seam under the bust and floor length skirt. It is also backless with a huge rosette and train on the back.   My client was a very curvy, petite. I showed her pattern options that would look very similar to the actual dress, but had features that would facilitate  fitting.  We chose McCalls 7974.  

I felt  gathers, would be more forgiving than bust darts, for bust  fitting.   The under bust band could be fitted to emphasize her curves .  The skirt gathers start  2 inches above the actual waist. My thinking was that this would make the transition from teeny waist to full hips easier and lengthen her bottom half, making  her look taller.

 I made a muslin of the dress bodice.  A lot of slashing and inserting of fabric in the resulting gaps went on in the first fitting.  Then the apprehension of transferring the muslin changes to the pattern, and wondering if I did it correctly, especially when the resulting bodice shape that was um… unfamiliar.

 I had a fitting instructor that told us to imagine the body as  made up of different shapes; spheres, polyhedrons (pyramid),  cylinders and think about how you would shape fabric over those shapes.  I told myself based on the body shapes I was putting fabric over, the  extra fabric was where it needed to be; low, and near the center. And it ended up fitting beautifully. 

The dress is underlined in a cotton fabric (high grade twin flat sheet from Target).  The  outer fabric is a  lightweight fabric with raised fuzzy dots  that I have always called “dotted swiss”. It was labeled "clipped dot" on where it was purchased. We opted to forgo  the bum rosette and the logistics of finding an undergarment to support a large bust in a backless dress.

"Marion" is very pleased with her dress. She talks about wearing it on other occasions and her favorite feature is the pockets. At least her cell phone won't show like Indiana's does.  

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Bedazzling with Buttons

I was looking for  a creative project to get my mind off the fact I don't need any new clothes for my Covid Isolation/work from home lifestyle, but I have a huge fabric stash of garment fabric. Sigh!  So I was excited to hear of the  Marfy Remnant challenge #Marfyremnantchallenge2020  created by Ann of Youtique Bridal and sewing blogger/youtuber Andrea at SewtoFit.  It was a challenge to use remnants of fabric, which we all have, to make and embellish a garment. The suggested pattern was Marfy 116,  a extended shoulder tunic with yoke, vertical princess seams and hi low hem.  The pattern was selected because both Ann and Andrea had won it in an ASG event. It was also a free pattern in the Marfy Evergreen pattern magazine.

Marfy 0116

 The remnants I used were men’s shirting pieces purchased in a 15 lb. bag from the Robert Talbott menswear manufacturing facility in Calif. Below is the original advertisement from Threads Magazine. Yes, these remnants have been in my stash for a while.

Advertisement for Scraps

I received a huge bag packed tightly with striped checked  and solid, very finely woven, cotton  fabrics.  The remnants were generally abut 16” by 20”. Wonderful fabric to work with.  I sewed my adolescent sons button-down shirts out of this fabric. Also quilts, masks and now this top.  I still have a huge amount remaining.


Because of the remnant sizes, I color blocked the top. But I still had to do a fair amount of piecing to get pieces large enough for the color blocking.  The back and back yoke have a center back seam.  The extended bottom in the back are separate pieces with the stripes going horizontally.  Fortunately the stripes are so fine, they look like a  solid color from a normal viewing distance.

When my mother moved in with me, she brought her button stash. One drawer in her button box was full of mismatched shirt buttons. Shirt buttons to go with the shirting fabrics! I sewed them to the yoke area of the top. Bedazzling with buttons! 

 I had recently made fabric cord  for the button loop on a silk blouse and decided to see if I could make really fine cord with these shirting fabric. I call it fabric cord, but all my sewing books refer to it as "tubing" or "self filled tubing" and the technique for making it is under button closures - loops. My first strand was less than 1/8 inch,  but it was difficult to sew and turn.  So the sake of time and my sanity, the others were a more doable 1/8”. 


 Now that I had all these cords. What should I do with them? I shaped and hand tacked the cording into flower shapes with a hole in the center so they could be fastened over the buttons. They are removable. I like the look of the airy flowers on the yoke of the top,

Back yoke

It was a fun challenge.