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Summer Tops

  • Grainline Lakeside Pajamas

    1 Grainline Lakeside Pajamas made in Art Gallery Voile in Sunday Clippings. All photos by Bess Bird Photography.

    The very first piece of clothing I made once I started sewing in earnest was a Grainline Scout Tee. It's become an indispensable staple, along with its knit sister, the Lark Tee. I appreciate the simplicity of the designs (everyday wear, hurray!) and the well-written instructions.

    Last month, I decided to make Grainline's Lakeside Pajamas for our hot Montana summers. I. Love. Them. They have enough design to make them interesting, but are simple enough for a novice like me to sew up with no problem. This has been one of the few patterns I've cut and sewn straight from the box - no alterations needed. There is something so satisfying about having a pattern that just fits, right off the bat.

    Overlapping back detail. Overlapping back detail.

    When making a shirt or a dress, I usually I have to make the top one size and then grade out a size or two below the waist. With the Lakeside PJs, I was able to make the top in a size 6 and the bottoms in a size 10. (Try doing that with ready-to-wear!) I double-checked all of my measurements and then followed the sizing guidelines, and ta-da, they fit like a dream. As tempting as it was to make the entire set in a size 6 (oh hi, vanity!), I'm relieved that I actually made the size that was recommended for me; believe me, carefully sized and drafted patterns are not to be taken for granted!

    Miles and miles of binding.. but so worth it! Miles and miles of binding... but so worth it!

    The shorts required a leap of faith. You have to attach most of the bias binding to the edges of each piece before you sew up any major seams, which makes it really difficult to make adjustments once you're underway. (Of course you could baste or pin the shorts together without the binding before you get started for a rough idea of fit, but did I think to do that? Of course not!) The method for sewing on the binding and then assembling the shorts seems confusing at first glance. But I dutifully followed the instructions step by step, and, as promised, it all worked out beautifully.

    I made these PJs with Art Gallery's Sunday Clippings Voile. Because it is so silky and lightweight, the Art Gallery Voile was a little slippery, but I used a new needle and took my time, and I was able to handle the fabric with very few problems. If you haven't sewn with Art Gallery fabrics yet, you are in for a treat. The quilting cottons are finer and softer than most quilting cottons, and the voiles are even finer than Liberty of London (in my opinion).  AND, Art Gallery voiles make great blouses. Our customer, Debrah Fosket wore her lovely Vogue blouse to the shop the other day and graciously agreed to be photographed.

    _B9B1559 A well-made blouse in a pretty fabric. Nice work, Debrah!

    _B9B1564

    I highly recommend these jammies -- and of course I'm partial to the super-soft voile. They're comfortable, cute, and a fairly quick sew (especially if you use pre-made bias binding like this). Plus, either the shorts or the tank top can stand alone in the right fabric. No one needs to know that they're a pajama pattern! I'm already planning a light summer tank top with this pretty rayon and some casual shorts with this sweet tencel.

  • Flashback: Sencha and Beignet

    I have had a difficult 2 months at work, so during this month's photo shoot with Andrea Jones, I pulled out some pre-blog makes. I found myself falling in love all over again with Colette Patterns' Sencha and Beignet

    Sencha in a lightweight voile, Beignet in a slightly stretchy heavy bottom weight. Photo by Andrea Jones. Sencha in a lightweight voile, Beignet in a slightly stretchy heavy bottom weight. Photo by Andrea Jones.

    The Colette Sewing Handbook helped me take up garment sewing again. Sarai's description of simple pattern alterations was a revelation for me. Now, many books and classes later, I still refer to The Colette Sewing Handbook and feel thankful to Sarai for bringing home sewing to the hipster world (because I'm such a cool hipster! Hah!).

    The pocket placement is also wonderful. Photo by Andrea Jones. The pocket placement is also wonderful. Photo by Andrea Jones.

    I also love Colette Patterns' detailed and clear instructions. They made me feel like a pro when I was just re-entering the sewing world. You can't see it, but the Beignet skirt has the most pro-looking lining, and Sarai walks the sewer through easy steps to make it.

    The Sencha top is so simple and so flattering. Photo by Andrea Jones. The Sencha top is so simple and so flattering. Photo by Andrea Jones.

    AND....One more wonderful thing about Colette patterns -- they are drafted almost exactly to my shape. Despite Sarai's wonderful alteration teachings, I don't have to alter her patterns at all.

    Another close-up. Photo by Andrea Jones. Another close-up. Photo by Andrea Jones.

  • Pattern Matching for a Princess

    Princess fabric and princess nails for a princess top! Princess fabric and princess nails for a princess top!

    I recently stitched a McCall's 2818 princess-seamed top in a princess-y pink fabric. It's the top I wanted to teach as a class, but no one signed up. I carefully altered and fitted the tissue:

    Tissue fit is good... Tissue fit is good...

    ....And matched the pattern. I find cutting out in a single layer the best way to match a pattern perfectly.

    I flipped one center back piece and laid it on top of the fabric to match the pattern exactly before cutting the second side back. I flipped one center back piece and laid it on top of the fabric to match the pattern exactly before cutting the second side back.

    I have a beautifully matched pattern, but the top turned out too big. Easy to fix by deepening the side seams, but, whoops! Although I did try the top on repeatedly during the sewing process, I had trouble gauging the fit because the top closed in the back. Next time, I will ask Fred to pin the back closed each time I check the fit. The fabric has some stretch to it.

    Check out the pattern matching in the front....Photo by Andrea Jones. Check out the pattern matching in the front....Photo by Andrea Jones.

    And the matching in the back. Photo by Andrea Jones. And the matching in the back. Photo by Andrea Jones.

    McCall's 2818 is a Palmer/Pletsch pattern, and I could tell Pati Palmer worked hard on the drafting and the instructions. The process felt more like sewing up a Colette Pattern than sewing up a Big 4 pattern. In other words, everything fit together perfectly, and the sewing order and "Pro Tips" made me feel like a star seamstress. I definitely recommend this pattern. You will see more versions if springtime ever comes to the Rockies.

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