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Monthly Archives: June 2014

  • No-Side-Seam Pants

    No-side-seam pants are great for summer. They work best in lightweight fabrics, and are fabulous for pulling on over a swim suit when it's time for drinks on the lanai. I am wearing my no-side-seam rayon pants and dreaming of drinks on the lanai. We are still drinking hot toddies here in Montana, but we are dreaming of hot days. Today's high was 44 degrees. Yes, today is June 17. Yes, I choose to live in Montana.

    The lack of seams makes these particular pants super quick to sew, but a little tricky to fit. You can't tweak much with only a crotch seam and an inseam. I had Pati Palmer fit McCall's 6571 to me during one of the two pants workshops I have taken in Portland. I started with a very large size (22 is just a number, right?). The crotch seam fit me well, so Pati had me make a vertical fold in the tissue where the side seam would be -- narrowing the hip and leg without affecting the crotch seam. I had a length of elastic around my waist, and Pati pulled and tugged the waistline of the tissue until it laid smoothly. She then marked where my waistline should be.

    Here is the front in a gorgeous blue and black rayon batik. Photo by Andrea Jones Here is the front in a gorgeous blue and black rayon batik. Photo by Andrea Jones

    This is my second pair of no-side-seam pants. I made them both in a rayon batik. I made the first pair without pre-washing the batik. They are now capris. Rayon batik really shrinks! I pre washed and dried the fabric for this pair, and the first couple of times I washed them, I remembered to not put them in the dryer. I accidentally put them in the dryer the last time, and now they are too short! These photos were taken before any washings. I don't think I'll make any more pants in rayon batik. It does not stop shrinking! This lovely fabric is from SewBatik.  I bought it while I was at the American Sewing Expo in Detroit. I also purchased some border print batik, which I plan to use for a skirt or dress.

    The side. I may fold out a little more width in tissue next time. Photo by Andrea Jones. The side. I may fold out a little more width in tissue next time. Photo by Andrea Jones.

    The back. Photo by Andrea Jones. The back. Photo by Andrea Jones.

  • Wrap Top 2 Ways

    What did we do before "What Not to Wear"? When the original What Not to Wear book by Trinny and Susannah first came out 10 years ago, I gobbled it up. I loved learning why things looked good (or bad) on me. If you also gobbled up the book, you know what kind of top minimizes a big bust: something that either "wraps" or "vees." I immediately gave away all of my high-necked tops to smaller-busted friends and began my quest for V-Neck and wrap tops that work for me.

    My shopping quest has morphed into a sewing quest. My most recent attempt is McCall's 6513, a Palmer/Pletsch design with alteration lines included. The pattern pieces are strange looking, so the lines are particularly helpful. 

    Wrap top version 1 in an ITY knit from Mill End in Portland, Oregon. Photo by Andrea Jones. Wrap top version 1 in an ITY knit from Mill End in Portland, Oregon. Photo by Andrea Jones.

    I did a 1.5" full-bust adjustment, and added darts, which I think made the shirt too roomy. I'm tempted to try sewing up a straight size 16 and see what it looks like. I have some great white modal knit from Dharma Trading Company. I think I'll sew up the top in the modal and dye it if it fits. Stay tuned.

    The top in stretch linen from The Fabric Depot in Portland, Oregon. Photo by Andrea Jones. The top in stretch linen from The Fabric Depot in Portland, Oregon. Photo by Andrea Jones.

    My rather large full-bust adjustment on the rather strange front pattern piece. My rather large full-bust adjustment on the rather strange front pattern piece.

    McCall's 6513 is a well-drafted pattern with great instructions written by Pati Palmer. There are some tricky bits, so I don't recommend it as a first knit top. It's a wonderful second or third knit project, though. What do you think, should I try it without an FBA?

  • Mother-Of-The-Graduate Dress

    As all parents know, the holy grail of big family events is to make or wear something that is not "too embarrassing" to one's offspring. This simple sheath in a slightly stretchy, slightly shiny cotton fit the bill for my daughter's college graduation. SunnyGal Beth helped me fit Butterick 5602 during my day with her in April. 

    I learned two important things while making this dress: (1) I don't always need a full-bust adjustment -- sometimes I just need to lower the bust darts.  (2) Beth has a trick for altering vertical darts to accommodate a tummy.

    During my day at her studio, Beth shared her method of altering fish-eye vertical darts: she marks the vertical quarters of the dart, and moves the fullest part of the dart from the half-way mark to the upper quarter mark. This simple shape shift creates more room for the waist and what I call the "under waist." My belly is fullest at the "under waist" mark. I have yet to learn how to demonstrate things on the computer, so here are my hand-drawn instructions:

    Super clear illustration of how to alter vertical darts to accommodate a tummy -- just move the widest part of the dart to the under bust area. Super clear illustration of how to alter vertical darts to accommodate a tummy -- just move the widest part of the dart to the under bust area.

    Close-up of the front. Tummy, what tummy? Photo by Andrea Jones. Close-up of the front. Tummy, what tummy? Photo by Andrea Jones.

    The front from farther back. The vertical dart technique makes for room for great post-graduation dinners! Photo by Andrea Jones. The front from farther back. The vertical dart technique makes for room for great post-graduation dinners! Photo by Andrea Jones.

    Back view. Please do admire the stripe matching! The green zipper adds a little whimsy. Photo by Andrea Jones. Back view. Please do admire the stripe matching! The green zipper adds a little whimsy. Photo by Andrea Jones.

  • A Stripy Santa Fe Dress

    I always want to feel confident in the clothes I'm wearing (hence this blog). Most of my hand made garments help me feel confident -- they skim my body, the sleeves and pant legs are long enough, they don't ride up or pull down, you get the picture. I have a few items that REALLY help me feel confident. One of those items is the Nancy Zieman Santa Fe Dress. The folds of the bodice minimize my bust, and the rest of the dress falls beautifully. My first version was in a black slinky knit purchased from Nancy's Notions. It is great for traveling, but the fabric is slippery and thick. I made this second version with a bamboo knit from Fabric Depot in Portland, Oregon. It is also available from The Sewing Workshop online. The fabric is a lightweight jersey, which made the front folds much easier. For both versions, I slashed and spread the bust pattern piece horizontally so the under bust seam would hit at the right spot. 

    Close-Up of the Front. I like this pattern in a stripe. Photo by Andrea Jones. Close-Up of the Front. I like this pattern in a stripe. Photo by Andrea Jones.

    The entire front. Photo by Andrea Jones. The entire front. Photo by Andrea Jones.

    Another good use of stripes in the back. Photo by Andrea Jones. Another good use of stripes in the back. Photo by Andrea Jones.

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