A Polka ‘Cheyenne Tunic’ by Hey June Handmade … and a little bit about French Seams

Hello again!

I seem to be on something of a blogging roll!! I finally got around to cutting out this Cheyenne Tunic by Hey June Handmade; I’d been meaning to sew it for weeks only I succumbed to ‘the fever’ that was sewing my Luzerne Trench Coat instead. But now I’ve sewn one Cheyenne, let me just cut to the chase and say I want half a dozen more of them!

This is the third pattern I’ve sewn from the Hey June catalogue (see their Halifax Hoodie and the Kensington dress I made for my daughter) and again I’m really pleased with the attention to detail in their drafting and instructions. This is such a wearable top! In fact Read More

Harem pants

Viscose Harem Style Trousers : Simplicity 1887

Hi all!

This make is still very much in the theme of ‘Summer Sewing’ as I made them to take on our family holiday. Even in the heat, I don’t want to wear dresses or shorts every day. I wanted lightweight breathable casual trousers with pockets and preferably cuffed ankles, along the lines of the SOI Carrie Trousers but without needing to buy  their online trouser course just to get that pattern. After some searching, I found Simplicity 1887.

Harem pants

These trousers have some nice features – whilst the waistband is elasticated, they have a flat central panel which is way more flattering. Plus there are several variations in terms of length – including the option to make shorts – a pretty waist tie and a very simple skirt pattern all in the same envelope.

Harem pants sewing patternBe warned : there is a spectacular amount of ease in this pattern! When I’m reunited with my sewing machine I may yet alter these again but for now they’re still getting plenty of wear. I made View A, with the elasticated cuffs in a lovely soft and reasonably opaque  viscose.

You can read my full review,  and see further pics, including me being totally photobombed, whilst wearing them on holiday over on the Minerva Craft Blogger Network (see HERE). 

 

Oh, and whilst on holiday I’ve redesigned the Ol’ Blog a bit…what do you think so far?!

Until next time, if it’s summer where you are I hope the sun is shining!

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McCalls sewing patterns dress

My Favourite Ever Summer Dress: McCall’s M7119

McCalls M7119 Sew Sarah Smith

Well the title kind of gives it away doesn’t it – I love this dress! McCall’s 7119 (see HERE) was the last item I sewed before packing for the Stateside summer jaunt to join family. It’s everything I wanted in a dress; floaty and  breathable with an interesting neckline; exposed shoulders, a high-low hem and can be dressed up or down. It also takes up hardly any suitcase space and we all know what that means! (More space for bringing back new fabrics ;-))

I made mine in this awesome viscose print (see HERE) and it was a joy to work with. It comes in three colourways and although still relatively inexpensive, was a little more pricey than some. Granted, I’m getting more confident working with drapey lightweight and shifty fabrics having used them a lot recently but I also think this particular viscose seemed more stable and cooperative than some I’ve used, but with no compromise to its fluidity – a fantastic fabric! And again it’s a statement floral. Who am I and what have I done with my former self?! That said, I feel surprisingly myself in it. I’m sure I’ll sober down again as Autumn draws near but for now I’m really enjoying this change!

McCalls 7119

M7119 is part of McCalls ‘Misses’ range, which I like since I’m only 5.3”. I cut View B and decided to make only minimal changes to the pattern before cutting out; sizing down, lowering the bust darts and raising the armscye by 0.5” – which tends to be the basic standard alterations I do with McCalls patterns. There are lengthen/shorten lines on the skirt pieces but I decided if I needed to take off any length I’d do it later and simply remove it from the hem. Here’s the line drawings and envelope:

 

 

 

I cut out on the single fold, carefully, so as not to warp the fabric and immediately staystitched all the pieces. It’s an easy sew and comes together really quickly – the only I time I had to concentrate was with the construction of the faced front band and shoulder pieces – which are sewn together. They’re not difficult to do; it’s just a case of following the instructions to the letter, even if you’re not quite sure where they’re taking you. That was my experience anyway!

McCalls 7119 Floral Print

Actually, no, don’t follow the instructions quite to the letter, as there is a slight mistake with the front bands at Step 13. It says “Stitch outer edge. Understitch facing”. It should say “Stitch inner edge…” it’s clear enough from the illustrations but thought it worth mentioning. You will part stitch the outer edge at Step 14 (turning through the entire band and ties through the gaps later). Here’s the notes I scribbled on the instructions when I first read them through before starting – something I always do (i.e. attempting to stitch the garment together in my head before I start). However certain parts of this process only made total sense to me in the actual doing! Also make sure your circle and square markings are clearly, err, marked –  your stitching needs to be pretty accurate here.

McCalls 7119

Once I tried the dress on, I felt that the skirt crossed over at the perfect point at the front to avoid accidentally flashing underwear (which was good because I’d already narrow hemmed the pieces!) but … that it was far too long at the back. I do think it’s designed to be worn with heels but quite frankly I needed the option of wearing it with flip-flops. I ended up taking out 3” from the centre back (by folding the back skirt in half, marking the 3” point at the centre fold and then tapering to nothing at the side seam so that the curve of the back skirt met the front skirt exactly at the side seams. It worked out great. I then turned up a narrow folded hem and it was done!

One of my favourite parts of the dress is actually the back neckline – it looks like it’s going to be a straightforward halterneck affair from the front but it’s not – look! It’s a high neck with pretty gathers. For someone like me, who is narrower in the shoulder, this gives a lovely strength and balance to the dress.

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In retrospect I half wish I’d added side seam pockets because *awkward flapping hands* I’ve not had an issue with accidentally revealing more cleavage than intended; the ties are good and long and it all feels pretty secure for a wrap dress. I guess you could widen the front bands if you wanted more coverage there.

McCalls sewing patterns dress

This dress got the total seal of approval from my husband and a few “no way!”responses when I confirmed I’d made the dress, which has been really nice. I’m absolutely going to make it again – I’m considering a satin backed crepe to make a Black Tie version for the Christmas period. Always thinking ahead! So far I’ve worn this dress three times – twice out to dinner and once … just because. I’m also planning to wear it to the Rodeo next week and you bet I’m going to try it on with cowboy boots!

What do you think?

Until next time,

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Sundress sewing pattern

McCall’s M7116 Sundress : So good I had to make it twice!

 

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Hi again!

I’m currently in the midst of a sewing frenzy; with less than two weeks to go before we head off on our summer holidays, I’m frantically trying to sew enough things to pack! Given the lack of time, I was looking for patterns that met certain criteria;

  • they need to be relatively quick to sew;
  • a flattering shape but not restrictive in any way;
  • can preferably be made up in lightweight breathable fabrics and
  • are easy care once made – i.e. can be washed, dried and put back on again in next to no time – ideally without having to meet an iron.

I was able to choose two McCalls patterns as a prize from the lovely Kate at The Foldline for my M6696 Shirtdress a little while back and thinking of my summer wardrobe, I snatched up M7116 and M7119 – both looked relatively simple and needed lightweight wovens.

I decided to sew View A of M7116 first – the spaghetti strap version – it’s essentially a semi-fitted pullover dress with a side seam zip.  I chose a lovely floral viscose print. Let me say that again in case you weren’t paying attention… a floral print! A print that is floral! Flowers on fabric. As unradical a choice that may sound to you, let me make it clear that it was something of a departure for me. Purging my wardrobe earlier in the year has allowed me to rethink and I find myself choosing things I’d previously been wary of; whether this is a sign of increased confidence or simply Middle Aged Madnesss I’m not sure. I’m pretty sure I don’t care either way!

So back to the fabric…it’s a gorgeously soft viscose; the first with purple flowers on a dark navy background and the second with bright pink ones (see here). Both are opaque enough to not need lining. The flowers themselves are just the right size, not big enough to be screaming in your face nor small enough to fall into the chintz category. I set about tracing out the pattern. I wasn’t going to bother making a toile – time’s short and quite frankly I’m all toiled out – I’d rather stick pins in my eyeballs at the moment. I cut out based on the finished measurements (i.e sized down) and took in the underarm seams by a further 0.25″ each as well as raising the armscye by 0.5″, which I’ve found I had to do on previous McCalls patterns. It worked out great. I then graded down at the hip (a standard alteration for me).

M7116 mccalls
Armhole facing

The bodice of this dress is essentially a gathered bra-let type affair with the remaining dress being cut on the bias and semi-fitted. As a precaution, I cut out on the single fold and edgestitched all my pieces straight away to stop seams stretching out during construction and handling. Apart from that, it’s a super quick sew.

The armholes are finished with a bias cut strip of fabric which, since it’s simply pressed in half and sewn with raw edges aligned, makes for a quick, clean finish.

McCalls sewing patterns
Elastic casing at the neckline

The neckline is finished with a simple fold-over elastic casing. The instructions ask you to cut out two specific lengths of elastic and insert those. Don’t do that. Mark the required length on a longer piece and feed that through, pinning at the marked end points. Then adjust to fit. I ended up taking out about 1.5″ from the back piece to get it to fit flush with my back. Since I knew I’d be wearing these dresses with a regular bra, I used the width of the straps of that as my guide.

The instructions then say to adjust your strap lengths, which are already sewn in at the back, and sew them in to meet the front neckline. I waited until I’d sewn the skirt on as this gave me a much better idea of how it sat.

7116 mccalls
Easy regular zip insertion

The way McCalls have you insert the side zip is also fantastically easy. You could, of course, insert an invisible zip here but I wanted to try this method out. Simply place your zip face down on a basted together seam and sew in.  Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy. It produces a much neater enclosed finish than I was expecting. Bonus.

Sundress sewing pattern

I was so pleased with the finished dress, which I pretty much put together in one sitting. The bias skirt is gorgeous, it adds a lovely touch to such a simple dress; the fabric skims the body beautifully without being clingy.  In fact, I liked it so much I immediately sewed another, its pink twin.

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Looking up to the left again – what’s there I wonder?! Cobwebs, probably!

I want to sew another in yellow. Yes, yellow. I’ve never worn yellow in my life – unless it was something knitted by my Mum was I was young enough not to object. But yellow I want!! I also want to do View D when I get back from holiday…I can see that transitioning nicely into Autumn.

Hope you’ve all got a great summer planned! Me? I’m cutting out M7119!

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NL6217 sewing pattern review

New Look 6217 – Top (View B); Pattern Review & Redrafting

New Look 6217

This pattern (View B) was brought to my attention, like many others lately I suspect, by Jane Marland of Handmade Jane who blogged recently on her makes with it. Having read Jane’s post I immediately thought two things; first, a quick easy make that looks like a true wardrobe staple? Yeah, I’m having me some of that and so duly ordered the pattern. (On reflection, I’ve got a sneaky suspicion I already had it in my pattern stash, I now daren’t check!) Secondly, and this what really piqued my interest, was the simple fit alterations Jane made to this, in itself a simple top, to make it a great one.  The effect of some simple pattern redrafting is transformative and makes this pattern, in my view, a classic.

Jane mentioned from the outset that she graded this pattern down i) one size at the bust and ii) two sizes down generally everywhere else and iii) added two inches to its length. Whilst bearing this in mind, I decided to make the top straight out of the envelope to show you what you’re starting with. So I cut out my size based on accurate measurements. It does state quite clearly on the pattern pieces that this top is designed with 4″ of ease. I winced as I cut it out as it was clearly a behemoth from the outset! And, tra la la, I put the whole thing together in a couple of hours or sew (seewhatididthere!?)

A few things were immediately apparent with this first ‘straight out of the envelope’ make; although it’s only two pattern pieces, with no darts, it had a shape; there’s some sort of fit there. It fit nicely over the ‘boobage’.  I liked that it hung longer at the back, the curved hem, boat neck and its kimono-esque ‘grown on’ sleeves etc. However, and this is my personal bugbear, whilst it fitted across my chest, it also hung down from that point (see pics below) making me look like a 30lb heavier walking chest freezer or something! The fact that it was made up in a non-stretch, not overly drapy fabric only served to emphasise this.

New Look 6217

So let’s think about Jane’s alterations. On the comparison second make I also added two inches to the length to stop it looking ‘boxy’. I know I’ve got slightly rounded shoulders and my ‘rack’ is somewhat oversized for my frame, so I graded down two sizes everywhere, as Jane did, but kept to the original sizing in the chest area as I was using a non-stretch woven. What this means, in practice, is that I traced out two sizes smaller generally and then, from the end of the sleeve down through the underarm seam I traced from my actual size, grading back down two sizes smaller again, by increments, upon reaching the shortening/lengthening lines on the pattern pieces.

So the revamped version is better, no?  But still, I wanted more from it!

What this top really screams for then is a fabric with drape and perhaps some stretch. I used this stretch Viscose  (from Minerva Crafts). Given its drape and stretch quality, importantly, this time I graded down a single size in the bust area too, a la Jane.

And let’s just take a moment to admire my self-covered button and thread loop on the keyhole opening at the back can we? Mastering the thread loop almost took as long, if not more, than it did to sew the top itself. That’s only a slight exaggeration by the way. I love that I can do thread loops now – I feel like some sort of Sewing Ninja – aren’t they just a perfect closure on light and/or delicate fabrics!

New Look 6217

Now it’s love. LOVE I tell ya! This top actually feels better than the sum of its parts; it just feels effortlessly classic and supremely comfortable on. I expect to make many more of these; all the silks, crepes and, help, would a lightweight jersey work?! This pattern goes straight into the ‘capsule’ wardrobe classics pile. (It’s such a quick fix make too. I can see myself reaching for this pattern after finishing a more complex one, as a ‘comfort sew’ if you know what I mean!)

Until next time…

Sew Sarah Smith

Sarah x 

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