Saturday, September 5, 2015

McCall's 6696 in Liberty Poplin

Are you tired of 6696 yet?

Cause I'm not!

I first heard about Liberty poplin on Roisin's blog and I immediately knew I had to have some. I bought this on eBay (along with a single yard of Liberty poplin with smaller flowers -- it became a sleeveless button-down blouse). This is the same as the fabric Roisin used, I believe, but the flowers are on a different scale. I am fairly certain I've seen a few versions of this pattern in the same fabric, though. (If you're one of them, please let me know, so I can credit you!)

Liberty poplin is a dream to work with. It sews up so and presses very crisply. You can really tell that it's high quality fabric!

Mood recently has started selling Liberty poplins, by the way, and they really have some lovely ones. I bought a pretty blue and grey one in my last order.

The buttons I used were from a lot of vintage buttons I bought on Etsy. I had exactly the right amount and then I cracked one, so there actually isn't a button at the very top of the button placket. I never button that last button and the way the collar folds hides it anyway, so hopefully no one will notice!

I matched the button-sewing thread to the buttons, which I think looks really nice.

I have recently discovered glue sticks for fabric and they are really wonderful for shirtmaking -- I feel that my shirts look much more professional and cleanly stitched when I use glue.

I glue the collar stand facing down before I sew it and it works so much better than pinning. I also used it for the waistband and button placket.

The glue helps keep everything in place much better than pins, but it does tend to gum up the sewing needles a bit. I've noticed that when I use glue I need to change my needle before I make the buttonholes.

I love my Pfaff -- the topstitching is beautiful -- but it really does not like to make buttonholes unless I've very recently treated it to a new needle. I'm batch-making button-down shirts this weekend, and I can just imagine how many needles I'll go through!

The botton of the collar stand could be stitched a bit straighter, but I'm really pleased with this collar and collar stand!

And a dress-guts pic! I serged all the seams with white thread.

I think this is my last 6696 for a while, and I feel like it's my best effort yet. I love how making the same pattern several times garners better and better results with each sewing.

Now I'm off to work on those button-downs. I've got four on the go at once, trying to make some more work clothing!

What are you sewing this weekend?

Thursday, August 20, 2015

New Look 6262 in Seersucker

Happy Seersucker Thursday!

I first learned about Seersucker Thursday when I worked for Roll Call and the paper covered a Seersucker Thursday event in Congress. Entire staffs of certain representatives dressed up in seersucker on the same day. It was hilarious. Of course, this summer, even though I no longer work for Roll Call, I knew I needed my own Seersucker Thursday outfit. Because D.C.

I bought this particular seersucker from It's beautifully light for summer and, shockingly, doesn't need ironing. Seriously. I pull this out of the dryer, hang it up and wear it without ironing. That is RARE, ya'll. And it's wonderful. I think I've worn this dress at least once a week all summer.

The pattern I used is New Look 6262. I know I've said this before, but I love New Look for basic dresses. You don't even have to wait for sales -- they're just $4.29 all the time.

This dress is unlined, so the arms are finished with pre-bought bias tape and the neckline is finished with a facing, which I topstitched down about half an inch from the edge.

The skirt is slightly gathered -- enough to provide a small amount of fullness and comfort without adding too much poof.

In terms of sizing, I cut an 8 at the bust and a 10-12ish at the waist. I normally cut to a 10 at the waist, but I wanted this dress to be a bit loose in the waist.

I am appreciating ease more and more (although I still don't need the 4 inches most Big Four patterns include, thanks!) as I spend more time sitting in an office, frequently slouched over. It's just more comfortable this way! I think going partially to 12 at the waist gives me about three-quarters of an inch ease. Maybe an inch, depending on the day.

I finished the seams with the serger. I always finish all potential seams BEFORE I sew the garment up. The one time I tried to serge everything post-sewing, I sucked the blouse I was working on into the serger and almost cried. Back to pre-serging my fabric!

Hilariously, my invisible zipper ended up between two white stripes, so when viewed from the back, it looks like my zipper is partially visible, but I promise it's hidden! 

Overall, I really enjoy this dress and I will definitely make this pattern again. This is the only v-neck dress I own and it's a fun change from my usual boat and scoop necks -- it provides a nice background for necklaces!

What are you all wearing to work this summer? I'm all dresses all the time! I have a few other new ones to post soon, too, before fall starts making its presence known. 

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Casual McCall's 6696 With No Collar

McCall's 6696 strikes again!

Readers, I, like so many before me, have fallen in love with this pattern.

This is version three for me (you can see the other two versions here and here).

For this one, I omitted the collar. Originally I intended to do a collared version, but I had a small issue with the pattern: I lost the back yoke pattern piece.

No problem, I thought -- I could trace off the piece from one of my finished dresses! 

So I did. 

It looked fine. The dress came together fine. 

Until I tried to add the collar stand, which was comically and ridiculously too small for the dress. 


Bias tape, as usual, saved the day. I bound off the neckline the same way I bound off the sleeves and decided to call this dress "casual."

The missing/redrawn yoke piece seems to have caused some fitting issues in the back of the dress, You can definitely see some drag lines heading toward my armpits. But I don't think you'll be surprised to learn that this does not bother me.

For the first time, I added the belt loops to the waistband and I'm very pleased with the way they turned out. 

I also decided to topstitch the entire dress with white thread.

The fabric is a lovely shirting from Blackbird Fabrics, but I had a very difficult time finding a thread match, so I decided to do contrast topstitching and buttons to match the topstitching. The bias binding I used inside also is white.

(The buttons are shirt buttons from Fashion Sewing Supply -- their site might look a bit sketchy, but their quality is great!) 

Overall, I'm pleased with this dress. I find it appropriate for work on casual Fridays and very comfortable.

I've also worn it swing dancing a few times!

I think the moral of this dress is that one need not be dismayed when disaster strikes: An ill-fitting collar stand might turn out to be a blessing in disguise.

And don't worry -- I've since bought another copy of this pattern!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Sewing Fail: Sewaholic Yaletown

I've been debating whether to share this finished dress or not, because I have a love-hate relationship with sewing fail posts. 

On the one hand, I love to see that everyone -- even the sewists I respect most -- have sewing fails, too. 

On the other hand, I mainly look to sewing blogs for inspiration and encouragement. They're a slice of happy in my day. 

I don't think I'll be doing fail posts often, but I do think I learned some good lessons with this dress.

First off, I am the first to admit that I'm a bit of a Sewaholic patterns fangirl. Their patterns usually fit me nicely and flatter my shape. So perhaps I was not super judicious in choosing this pattern. I figured if Tasia said it would be a good look for the Sewaholic girl, then it would look good on me.

That was my first mistake.

The top is super blousey and the v-neck is very wide. In addition to this, as you can see in some of these pictures, there is a big lump on the side where the top layer of the faux wrap is gapping really badly. No idea why this is!

The one thing I like about this pattern is the hidden button at the bottom of the v-neck, where the layers cross.

But my normal go-to look is fitted top, full bottom -- and there's a good reason for that. It looks good on me and it's true to my personal style.

I mean, let's be real here. Look at that first picture. I look like a lineman.

My second mistake was this fabric. It's a polyester from Blackbird Fabrics. And there's nothing wrong with it per se. I don't hate polyester as a rule or anything like that. Polyester definitely has its place. But this was not my favorite fabric to work with and the skirt has some major static cling. Which is sad, because Blackbird's stuff is not cheap. I've bought some awesome shirtings from Blackbird, but both of the poly prints I bought just did not turn out. (I bought some of the flamingo print and it got sucked into my serger. It wasn't pretty.)

Overall, I don't think I'll be saving this dress. The look, to my eyes, is very '80s, which is one fashion era that does not suit me.

And I don't think I'll be using this pattern again either.

My plan at the moment is to hack the skirt off, make a waistband and get a little wear out of it that way -- but we'll see when I get to that.

How do you feel about sewing fail posts? Have you made anything recently that just wasn't wearable for you? 

Saturday, April 4, 2015

McCall's 6696 With Vintage Fabric

Happy Easter! 

I am so glad that it is finally starting to feel like spring here. Dress sewing has kicked into high gear!

This dress is my second version of McCall's 6696, which is unquestionably one of my favorite patterns lately.

[I'm still struggling with a variety of blog issues, so in the meantime, I've decided to continue on with my backlog of completed and photographed outfits. The show must go on!]

I made this version with some 1940s rayon fabric I purchased on Etsy.

The fabric is very soft and has a fantastic drape.

I originally bought it thinking that I could wear it with tights and a sweater for the end of winter, but as soon as the dress was complete, I realized that this dress is unequivocally a warm-weather dress. It's just too floaty and drapey for cold weather. And the fabric is quite thin, which will be nice when it starts to get hot. (And for swing dance!)

Overall, this fabric was fairly easy to work with. It is rayon, but it's not very shiny or shifty, so it was fine to work with.

The only trouble I had was picking a thread color!

I finally settled on dark grey as somewhat of a contrast.

The blue has so much white in it that none of my blue threads really looked "right" to me. Dark grey seemed a good compromise.

The top-stitching on this dress is not quite perfect (I'm not used to working with rayon) and the dark thread does help disguise that, which is a side benefit.

This dress is a little big in the waist -- more so that my other version, which is just comfortably loose. The interfacing in the waistband and placket is what I normally use for shirts, but, in retrospect, I should have used something lighter. The waistband sags a bit sometimes. Honestly, though, it's kind of a "look." It looks a bit more casual/drapey like that.

I also had trouble picking buttons. I went with white, but I might change them out at some point. They are a bit more of a contrast than I expected.

Overall, though, I like this dress! It's the first time I've worked with real vintage fabric, so that was really fun.

Have you all tried working with vintage fabrics? Where do you buy them?

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Brown Circle Skirt and a Blog Update

First, the nitty gritty: I have been delaying putting up a post for TWO WEEKS now because I have been locked in a battle with Disqus. I was so happy when I initially switched to Disqus comments, because Blogger has a nasty habit of eating comments (several readers complained of this before I switched -- and by "several," I mean three).

Well, Disqus has now eaten all but one comment!

I switched URLs a couple of weeks ago, finally purchasing, and Disqus ATE all my comments in the switchover.

I have one more trick to try, since Disqus support has been so much less than helpful (it's been a bit rage-inducing, to be quite honest) and then I'm giving up and just saying goodbye to the 130-some comments I'd racked up over the past few years. Le sigh.

Anyway, enough turmoil.

I present a small sewing project to tide you over until my next real post.

I've made many circle skirts before. It's a silhouette I love and I find them both comfortable and flattering.

This one is made from brown twill I ordered from Mood.

[Note: This is not an affiliate link or anything fancy, but I am going to try to link to specific fabrics when I can from now on, because I frequently find myself wishing for such links while I am reading.]

That Pfaff top-stitching, though...

The "pattern" for this skirt is a stolen circle skirt pattern piece from Butterick 5748 and a big rectangle for a waistband. (Basically I made the waistband 3 inches wide and my waist measurement + 2 inches so I could use it to enclose the zipper.)

I serged the insides with black thread. I am trying to get better about buying a greater variety of serger thread in the interest of pretty guts (because pretty guts make me happy!) but I don't have any brown yet. 

I serged the hem and just turned it under and top-stitched for a narrow hem.

Voila! An easy-peasy work look. And it's almost warm enough here to wear it like this, without tights. Almost...

I'll keep ya'll posted on the comment situation. Let me know if you have any helpful hints!

Monday, March 2, 2015

McCall's 6696 Shirtdress in Scissor-Print Fabric

Hey there, hepcats! 

I made this dress with swing dancing in mind. I've mentioned before that Greg and I have been taking ballroom lessons. Well, we liked the swing unit of our ballroom class so much that we decided to try out lindy hop classes as well.

The swing scene where we live is very active -- we take class once a week and go social dancing at least once a week as well. It's really fun! (We take classes from this group, in case you're local and interested.)

By the way, the saddle shoes I'm wearing are swing shoes from G.H. Bass & Co. makes similar shoes that are street legal. (Swing shoes have suede soles and are meant to be worn inside only. They will be very very quickly ruined if you wear them outside.)

The pattern for this dress is McCall's 6696. Finally! A shirtdress of my very own!

This pattern has definitely made the rounds in the blog world -- and with good reason. It is everything I could ever want in a shirtdress pattern. 

It features a nice, full skirt with pleats, a waistband, an option for belt loops and several sleeve options. There's also a straight skirt option, but we all know that I won't be making that one. :-P

The shirt styling is very traditional -- it includes a collar with a collar stand, and a button placket made from its own pattern piece (as opposed to the fold-over type). 

In the upper back, which is where most shirts have some pleating detail, there is a lovely gather, which is repeated above the waistband in the back. I think this is a very feminine detail. You could easily swap it out for a more traditional pleat, though, if that's more your style.

I think I might not have eased the sleeve caps correctly. In some pictures, including the one above, it looks like the sleeve heads are poofing strangely. I'll have to be careful with that if I make another version with sleeves!

In terms of sizing, this is a pattern with bra-cup sizing. I made a C cup bodice and graded from an 8 at the bust to a 10 at the waist. 

I could probably cut a straight 8 in this pattern -- the waist has a bit more ease than I normally use, but I find that comfortable for dancing. 

The button placement suggestion from the pattern does not have a button at the waistband so that there's room for a belt. But since I left off the belt loops here, and do not intend to wear a belt with this one, I rearranged the buttons so I'd have one at the waist. 

Speaking of buttons, these are vintage buttons from Etsy. Originally, I was going to use plain white shirt buttons, but I decided they didn't look quite right. I posted some different options on Instagram and Facebook and black was the clear winner in my informal poll.

These are plastic buttons from 1930. I chose them because I thought they nicely echoed the dots between on the fabric.

Speaking of the fabric, it's from Emma One Sock. Another blogger (I've forgotten who -- oops!) posted a picture of this fabric on Instagram and I asked where it came from and ordered it immediately. Sometimes you just know what you want!

The fabric is cotton blend that's a bit sheer and slightly stretchy.

I don't particularly mind the sheerness. I have on a very simple white cotton skirt slip under this and that, along with a nude-colored bra, is good enough for me.

I was unable to match the pattern perfectly, but the print is on a small enough scale that I think that's OK. 

This dress is definitely a favorite and I've already made another using this pattern and am about to cut a third. It's a winner in my book! Have you made up 6696 yet? Or are you abstaining from this particular blog trend? ;)

Reminder: I'd still love to hear your thoughts on my new series on sewing fiction! I'd so appreciate it if you'd stop by and leave a comment and let me know what you think of this idea. If you've already sent me some feedback, thanks! :)