Winter sewing pt 2

I’m pretty proud of myself for making through most of the projects I cut this fall.  I have two more that I haven’t gotten to yet, but hopefully I should get to them before the thaw (usually March around these parts!)  I think that having the projects cut really saved my productivity with how busy I’ve been.  This semester will be even busier – I’m still singing in two ensembles, teaching a full load, freelancing at churches, and taking a class/graduating!  I also have to make time for my workouts every day (I have started getting up earlier to do them then.)  I should probably state that I actually enjoy being really busy, as long as the stress is all of my own making. Moving on… since I was so successful in the fall I’ve decided to go ahead and precut some winter/early spring projects (speaking of spring, shouldn’t we be getting some new Vogue patterns soon?)  I’m trying not to buy fabric while I’m paying for school, so I went through my bins and came up with these five projects (no storyboards, as Photoshop is being buggy:)

Butterick 5247 in Sweater Knit:  This pattern is discontinued now, but I’ve always liked it.  I’m planning to make this what I call “legging length” – in between the tunic and dress lengths, so I can wear it as a dress (over leggings/opaque tights) or a tunic.  This fabric came from, and is much nicer than I thought it was going to be!

New Look 6071 in ITY jersey: I am planning to make this with sleeves.  Dress length on this one I think.  The color didn’t photograph well, but it’s a deep yet intense magenta.

Simplicity 2406 in ITY print: This fabric is from the last batch of knits I got from  They were really varying in weight and quality, but this was the nicest.  It’s thick with a lovely drape.  I’m making the long sleeved version, and I’m sewing up that back slit (I cannot understand that… don’t people wear bras anymore?)  The pattern doesn’t all for knits, but I think this style (sack with a belt) is suited to knits.

McCalls 5752 in ITY print:   I got the fabric from fabric mart.  I think it was a Maggy London print.  I love it – circles and green, how could I not?  I’m actually planning to make the cap sleeve version of this dress, so that I can wear it more than one season.  I’m thinking of leaving off the ties (as in the black one) but I’m not sure yet.

Vogue 8530 in rayon jersey: I ordered this fabric from ebay, and I ended up being a little disappointed in the colors.  They are more on the faded/southwestern side than I usually go for.  The print is also rather large, so I wasn’t sure what to use it for.  I think I’m decided on this dress, in the short sleeved version.  I have a similar rtw dress that I adore, so I would like to make another.  I think the colors will be good for spring when it gets here!

There you go – I’m trying not to overburden myself, so I think this is a good number of projects for the next few months.  Of course, as always, I may get tired of something, or get a new pattern and have to make it first, but I will try to stick to the plan!

Spring 2012 McCalls and Simplicity

Yes, it’s very early for spring (although never too early for me!)  I’m not making a lot of progress on my winter plans due to being incredibly busy this season, but I never mind dreaming of new things!  I have finished one project that will be reviewed this week.  I wasn’t thrilled with the product so I’ve been avoiding, but I think it’s important to give both good and bad reviews!

Anyway, Simplicity has some decent patterns, but I’m really excited about the new McCalls – they have some new designers, giving the collection a different feel from the last few.   The last few sets of their patterns have done nothing for me, and seemed aimed at teenagers.  There is still plenty of that, but most of the dresses can go either way.  Let’s start with Simplicity:

Simplicity 1913:  Ok, so I sort of feel like they’ve released this pattern before (it’s very similar to several of the project runway patterns… 2473 for example in the 3rd, non modeled view) but it’s cute if you don’t have anything similar!I don’t think either of the modeled versions are very well fitted (they look big on the model) but the drawing to the far left is very cute.  I actually have that other pattern, so I don’t know if I would buy this one.


Simplicity 1915 and 1916 – I’ve been wearing the heck out of my handmade tops this winter, and I need cute ones for warmer weather. I’m not totally sold on the wisdom of the funky hemline in 1915, but I could possibly be convinced!

McCalls 6507 and 6506

I am pretty excited to see McCalls with some new designers – this is from Plenty by Tracy Reese, which I believe is her less expensive line (Vogue gets her fancier designs.)  Both of these dresses are cute, especially 6507.  I will be making both for spring!

McCalls 6518 and 6505 are both designs from Phoebe Couture.  I believe this is also the first time we’ve seen this designer in McCall’s, but I’m not positive.  I love the ruffled dress, which you all knew.  The lace dress is really pretty, though I will not be making it on account of having no call for such a dress!

McCalls 6503  and 6504– I like both sleeveless versions of 6503.   The ruffled version is similar to a vintage pattern that I own, but as that pattern isn’t my size I will make this instead!  I find myself oddly attracted to the weird hemline in 6504 – I like that it’s longer in the back rather than at the sides.  I haven’t seen that sort of hemline before, but I think it might be flattering!   I can’t quite figure out what’s going on with the seaming on these dresses – but I wouldn’t plan to make it in a print that needs matching, that’s for sure!

Finally, I really like the Kay Whitt purses in McCalls 6532

Will I make one?  Based on past experience, possibly not… but I do like the looks of them quite a bit!

I’ll be back tomorrow (hopefully) with a s0-so pattern review!

The last planning post: Dresses

Finally, we come to my favorite part of my wardrobe – the dresses!  I have done a good job filling my wardrobe with dresses, after years of hardly wearing any.  When I sat down with my friend to weed my cl0set, I knew some hard choices were about to be made.  Not all of my handmade dresses are keepers, but I have a terrible attachment to them!  But common sense prevailed, and we must say a sad farewell to these dresses:

Vogue 8631: Alas, my love for the fabric could not compensate for the lack of adequate closures.  I spent the whole time I was wearing the dress worried about flashing someone (I do not like wrap dresses!)  Then my husband ran it through the drier, and that was that.

Simplicity 2848:  I suspect that I might actually be a bit past the age where jumpers are cute.  I always felt silly when wearing it, so I have given it away.

Vintage Vogue 1219:  Suffered from overfitting (a common affliction for me when I started out!)  Twas also a bit stiff from the underlining.  I gave it away, but I want to make this pattern again!

Vogue 7617:  Didn’t fit well in the chest, and once again I used a stiff underlining.  I have learned my lesson now, and consider carefully if underlining is appropriate.  I want to make this again too!

Sadness!  But also happiness, because it all helps to make room for new projects, especially after a large clean-out of my thrifted dresses (I have no attachment at all to something for which I paid under 5 dollars.)

I tried very hard to evaluate my dresses, with an eye on what I actually like to wear.  I came up with a few categories:

1. Short dresses, which can also be worn over leggings as a tunic.

2. Ponte dresses.  It’s my favorite fabric right now, and I can’t get enough!

3. Updated Vintage. I love, love, love vintage, but I also don’t want to be uncomfortable or feel like I’m wearing a costume.  Vogue pattern magazine did a spread earlier this fall with updated versions of their patterns.  I was inspired to update some of my patterns for fall and winter.

4. Sleeves.  I love sleeves, why don’t more dresses have them in the winter?  It gets cold here!  Having said that, no sleeves at all are better than a short sleeve.

What don’t I wear?

1. Anything that wrinkles excessively. I like to use the damp dry setting on my drier, which I find takes care of most wrinkles.  If something is going to always be wrinkled, the end result will be me never wearing it.

2. Dry clean only.  I only dryclean coats if I can help it.  My husband doesn’t wear dress clothes for work, so I have no reason to go there.  Anything that needs drycleaning will sit in a bag for 6 months before I get around to it.  I can use the wool or handwash settings on my frontloader for many items.  I avoid lining items because I don’t want to wash something with a lining.

3. Overfitted dresses.  I have recently discovered pencil skirts, so I don’t mean that – I mean anything I can’t take a deep breath and/or move my arms freely.  I have started using stretch wovens, and I’m in love with them!

With that list of rules in mind, here is some project inspiration!

Simplicity 2308: I purchased this fabric to copy the Milly dress here.  Milly is currently my favorite brand.  I love the fun fabrics they use, so I was thrilled to find a similar print.  Mine is not metallic, and is an ITY knit rather than a silk chiffon, and the scale is slightly larger.  I think this pattern has a great deal of potential, but it all depends on the fabric choice.  I’m hoping mine is good!

Simplicity 2054:  I plan to make the version with detatchable cowl using this lace print ponte (available at Joann’s this season.)  This is such a plain style htat I think it will benefit from the print.  I’m not sure about the sleeves – articulated elbow or not?  I think the dress is pretty plain without it, but I’m not sure it fits  my style.

New Look 6067:  I adore this dress – look at those fun pleats!  My fabric is a heavier cotton sateen (Jones NY via Fabricmart.)  It’s navy with red dots.  I had considered using this fabric for a trench coat, but to be honest I don’t wear the two that I have.  This dress has a bit of a retro feel to me, without venturing into costume, which I feel is a danger with this sort of fabric.

Simplicity 2145:  Yes, this is the knock-off of Kate Middleton’s Issa engagement dress.   I plan to make mine in red, so that it’s not so completely a copy.  I loved that dress when I saw it, so I must make this!  The red is a beautiful color, can’t you see this for the holidays?

Simplicity 2282: I have really been longing for a peplum this year.  Last year I made Vogue 1209, which has a back peplum.  I wore it Tuesday, and remembered how I love it! I’m planning to use a RPL woven suiting.  It’s navy with a really subtle black pinstripe.  Simplicity 2282 is a good match for the Stella McCartney dress I fell in love with (minus the front bit of peplum.)  I do plan to open up that neckline to a scoop.  Crewnecks are not for me.  Lastly, I plan to use a contrasting piping around the peplum, and possibly the princess seams (the Sew Convert made this dress and used piping to great effect!)

Vogue 8745:  The inspiration dress is from Modcloth (where it is available in gray – I changed the picture to match my fabric.)  I plan to lengthen this top (and cut longer ruffles.)  I’m also planning to make a black leather obi belt (via my trusty Kwik Sew pattern) to define the waist.  I need one badly, as I keep wishing I had one when wearing other dresses!

Vintage patterns: Vogue 9660(1950s,) Vogue 5782 (1960s) and McCall 5336 (1970s)

I’m considering fabric options for these three projects, but I may yet change my mind.  I’m currently feeling very inspired by the 1970s, so McCall 5336 is up first.  I’m looking for a lightweight woolen with drape to make the short hemline/long sleeved version.  My inspiration for this dress is from Diane Von Furstenberg’s Pre Fall 2011 collection (here... there are no exact matches, but the feel of the collection shows what I am aiming for.)  I am thinking of a warm brown or orange-red for fall.

I  am not sure where I am going to start.  Right now I have the McCall’s 6167 on the cutting table (I was convinced by your positive feedback on that one!) and after that I want to make Simplicity 2256 (the ponte jacket.)  After that I will work on a dress.

I am possibly sort of OCD about planning!  It’s curious though… without a plan like this I will go a month without sewing, but with the plan I feel inspired!  I know I won’t get to everything, but that’s not important to me – what’s important is that I have projects ready to go when I get the sewing urge.   It does not often coincide with the planning urge, so I often end up stymied by what to make.   I plan to cut several projects at a time too – it keeps me from using cutting as an excuse not to sew (I hate to cut, even with the rotary!)

Planning a cold weather pt 2: coats, jackets, and pants

Or: everything else that isn’t dresses.  I love wearing dresses more than anything, but I really want to avoid getting stuck in a rut, so I’ve worked hard to find some other styles that work for me!


My bedroom has 2 closets, the large walking closet I’ve shown before, and a smaller normal closet.  I don’t know why, nor can I explain a walk-in closet in a 110 year old house (it was likely not a closet, but I’m not sure what it was… I only know that it’s original to the house.)  I use the second closet for my coats (my husband uses the guest room closet for his clothes.)  It could be said that I have a coat problem, especially now that I work from home, and don’t even need a coat every day!  I’ve never made a real coat, as I just have so many.  I am, however, giving some consideration to the idea of making my own coat this year.   I even have a pattern!

McCall’s 6442:  I just adore this coat!  I love the wide skirt and fitted waist.  The best part is that it has a hood, making it totally unlike my other coats!  I have started looking for fabric, but thus far I have been stumped.  My issue is that I don’t want to spend as much for fabric as I would for an actual coat, and everything I like seems to be $30 a yard, which is simply not on.  I like the plaid in the photo, so I’m considering either a plaid or a bright solid – there is one made up in red on patternreview which I love.  Very little red riding hood.  If I find the right fabric I plan to snatch it up.  The style reminds me of Colette patterns’ Lady Gray coat, with the addition of a hood and slightly less dramatic lapels.  I love Colette patterns, but they require a lot of fitting for me, particularly around the upper body and shoulders,  so I don’t think I would choose that for my first coat.


I do not wear many jackets.  I have somewhat broad shoulders, which are not getting any smaller with the amount of pushups I’ve been doing lately, so it’s hard to get a good fit.  Most jackets, if they fit in the waist, feel like a straightjacket through the shoulders and back.  I have made a few jackets with success, but I find lining them tedious, so I tend to stick to more casual styles.  One of the trends I’ve noticed recently is the ponte jacket – taking a traditionally tailored jacket and making it in either a ponte or even a sweatshirt knit.  I love the look, which juxtaposes formal and casual (much like my own style!)  I also love that this allows more room for my shoulders to actually move.  I’m planning to take at least one jacket pattern (unlined) and make it from a heavy knit.  Here is my choice:

I bought a pretty rigid gray ponte awhile back.  It won’t work for a dress, but it’s perfect for this jacket!  I’m leaning towards the brown version.  I actually like the ruffle neck on the other, but it doesn’t have the tailored look that I would like.  If this works out, I can think of a few other patterns that could get this treatment.


I have a lot of cardigans, and wear one nearly every day.  In particular, I get a lot of use out of the current long, oversized cardigans I bought and made last year (including the Jalie Pleated Cardigan.)  I wore them so often, in fact, that I’m now down to just one, and it has seen better days!  In addition to my knitting, I plan to make these two cardigans as replacements:

McCall’s 6247 and McCall’s 6408

These patterns are both by Nancy Zieman for McCall’s.  I’ve never seen her show, but these cardigans appeal to me greatly!  Both are long enough to wear with leggings, and have full skirts (I hate a cardigan that doesn’t actually meet in the front!)  I have actually changed my mind a bit, and am using black rayon jersey for 6408, and a charcoal wool jersey for 6247 (which is the replacement for a gray cardigan that took an ill advised trip through the drier this month.)


I have made pants before, but it’s not something I have pursued with any degree of seriousness.  But this year I’m ready to try!

Simplicity 0499 – this is the Joann’s version of Simplicity 2315, which suffers from excessive airbrushing – the pants on the envelope don’t look real!  They do, however, look really cute here.  I like that they have a back zip.  My other black skinny pants have a front zip, and I am not fond of how you can see it through tunics sometimes.

McCall’s 6173 –  I resisted leggings when they came back, but I’ve given up.  They’re comfortable, and pretty warm in the winter.  I can always use more, and this pattern looks decent.

McCall’s 6404 –  This is the most risky pattern for me, but I love the unusual seaming on the legs.  I would certainly not wear them with a shirt tucked into them though – they are only one step removed from leggings, which aren’t really pants to me.  I would make them in black or dark gray.

I’m headed to Joann’s for the sale tonight (there is a 25% off your total order printable coupon this week) and I hope to pick up some ponte for the pants, and possibly something else fun.  I like the April Johnston for Project Runway line of fabrics they have right now – I loved her on the show, and some of the prints are cute.  I’m also needing some steam a seam.  I sewed up one of my knit tunics last night, and while I love it very much I could use some stabilizer for the hemline!

Planning a cold weather wardrobe pt 1: tops

I try to purge my closet twice a year, before the volume of clothing I own gets to a critical point.  I have two main sources of clothing – either it’s handmade or thrifted.  This leads to a bit of closet stuffing sometimes!  I call over a friend, put on some fun music, break out the wine, and try on every single item in my closet.   I find that last part to be essential.  I can lie to myself about a garment when it’s on the hanger, but trying it on makes it obvious what I should do.  If I still can’t decide, it goes to my friend, who knows to be brutally honest.  This year I donated three large garbage bags full of clothing to Goodwill, including most of my older pairs of pants.  I’m planning to do a post every day this week talking about different parts of my wardrobe, giving some insight into how I plan things.

Today’s topic: Tops

Shirts are definitely the most neglected part of my wardrobe right now.  I spent the past year wearing dresses most of the time, but I’m looking to shake things up a bit.  I recently purchased some slim fitting ponte pants (Michael Kors) and skinny jeans that actually fit (from The Limited) and I want tunics and longer blouses that work with that silhouette.

The sad rack above is the extent of my top collection after my clean out.  Half of those shirts I don’t even love – I just kept them so I could have something to wear!  I do have more cardigans and sweaters of course, but I need both.  So for the next few weeks I plan to focus on tops, with the hope of increasing my collection a bit!  Here are my current plans:

Vogue 8634: Cowl necks work really well for my body type, but I’m picky about them.  I love either a separate cowl, or at least a separate piece used as the cowl (I find cowl necks where the cowl is part of the bodice front to be unflattering on me.)  It seems like everyone but me has made this top!  I plan to make the extra long length from gray/black striped jersey, purchased at Fabric Mart in their last big sale.

McCall’s 6203: I initially overlooked this pattern due to a bad envelope photo.  I changed my mind recently when I ran across Lisa’s version!  I totally stole her idea of using gray.  I haven’t seen anyone make this version, with the neck drape.  Round necklines aren’t as good on me, so I will likely make this one.  My fabric is from

Vogue 8731: I love this top – it’s simple, but the pleats are really interesting.  I’m using a crimson tencel jersey, which I have ordered from but not yet received.  When I decided to make some tops I realized I would have to buy fabric (a hardship, I know) because most of my knits are ITY.  I love ITY for dresses, but find it too heavy for most tops.  In this case, I’m pretty sure the weight of the fabric would pull the center pleats out of shape. said this was a lightweight jersey, and in my experience when they say that they mean it!

Vogue 8771: I love dolman sleeves.  I don’t like the other view of this pattern, which has  long tight cuffs below the sleeves (doesn’t work on me) but I like this one!  I have a metallic black jersey (poly/rayon/lurex blend) and plan to use that to make this top.


These tops are all knits, because I wear knit tops more often (ironing is not my friend,) but I did storyboard a few blouse patterns as well.  I have the idea that I could use up some fabrics which I love, but which are a bit much made into a dress.

Simplicity 2307: The fabric is a cotton shirting, purchased from Sawyer Brook, and originally from J. Crew.  I have had this for a year, and have been stumped as to how to use it.  I think an entire dress of this pattern would be too much, but perhaps a shirt?  This pattern has a stand up collar and little pinticks.  I chose it because it does not have princess seams, which would be impossible in this fabric.

McCall 6167: in stretch shirting.  The pattern is a smaller scale buffalo plaid.  I meant to make this last year, but ran out of winter!

Simplicity 2365: Ok, so… I know this print is insane.  I love it though.  The rayon itself is very slightly crinkled, so it doesn’ t need a lot of ironing – bonus!


So that’s it for my shirt sewing plans.  The knit tops are easy – I can easily make one in an evening.  The blouses are a little more complex, as I haven’t made a shirt before (I have made several shirtdresses, which I suppose are the same idea.)  I plan to cut these patterns tonight, and hopefully get one or two of them sewn on the weekend!  I will be back later with more sewing ideas.  My storyboards, as always, are in my flickr album, if you want to see all of them.





Vogue patterns, Winter 2011

I was just thinking it was time for some new Vogues – and they went up on the website!  I quite like this batch, and found some patterns that will most definitely be on my list.  I can’t wait to pick these up when they go on sale!  Here are my picks:


1271 and 1270 are both Kay Unger designs.  Both would make great day dresses that would transition well into evening.  I’m imagining navy blue or black for 1271.  I have some wools that would work.  The other dress would also make a great LBD, or perhaps something a little more fun.  The bow detail reminds me of the Michael Kors design I made last year, which looked complicated but really was not bad.  One of these will definitely be made in black – I have a number of knit black dresses, but nothing really structured.



I am intrigued by these two Very Easy, Very Vogue patterns (8763 and 8764.)  I’ve seen a number of these draped dresses recently.  I will have to see it made up, but I think the color blocked version has potential.  The other dress seems rather 1960s inspired – I like it!

8766 is an Easy Options pattern.  I really like most of the versions shown, especially the lace overlay.

I also like some of the separates (shocking!)



8780 is a nice version of a waterfall jacket.  I still love this style, so this is a must for me. 8777 has a selection of vests.  I like the unusual seaming on this one, though I must confess I am unlikely to wear one – vests just aren’t for me!



8769 is a fun tunic – I love those sleeves! 8771 is a knit tunic with dolman sleeves.  I like the brown version – the long cuffs and rounded hem on the other version just seems odd to me, but I love the looks of the other!  I might lengthen it to wear with slim pants, but I would not use the rounded hem.

There are also two new vintage Vogue patterns.  They aren’t for me, but I think they are great!  I have a bunch of vintage patterns to make up already, and these both have details that don’t work for me (the sleeves on that 1950s dress wouldn’t work – they have that sort of faux bolero thing going on, and I really prefer set in sleeves.)

I am off to go through my fabric – I hope I have some that will work for these designs!

Fall sewing 2011

Is it too early?  Probably, but I am over summer!  Here are the patterns I plan to make this fall… the fabrics are mostly tbd, though I will use up at least a few of the knits I got from  I also have a fab damask doubleknit from Joann’s (it was hidden on an endcap) and two (count them!) leopard print doubleknits.  My love for animal prints is still there, so I’d better use them up before they go out of style again!



Top row: Simplicity 2054, Vogue 1258, vogue 1253, simplicity 2219

Middle row: Butterick 5676, Vogue 1159, Vogue 1252, Vogue 1191

Bottom row: Butterick 5674, Vogue 1257, Butterick 5672, Butterick 5675

Yes, these are all knit or doubleknit patterns.  I want to focus on knits this fall, as I probably wear my knit garments 4x as often as the wovens.  They just suit my lifestyle better – I like to be dressy, but I need to be able to breathe freely.  I’ve been keeping track of what I wear, and it’s pretty much all knit dresses all the time (with cardigans – so at least that love is justified!) Luckily the fall offerings from the big 4 pattern companies were really heavy on knits this year.  Of course, I’m sure some woven dresses will sneak in there – I do need formalwear, and knits don’t cut it for that (other than the occasional matte jersey.)  I would also like to make a vintage pattern or two, but I haven’t gone through the pile.  What am I not making?  Jackets.  I just don’t wear them, as I prefer sweaters.  And goodness knows I don’t need any suits!

I’m thinking about going ahead and starting the Vena Cava dress.  My recent success with slim silhouettes has made me less afraid of the proportions of that one!  I pulled out the instructions for the sleeveless Tracy Reese design, and it is way complicated, with stays and a lining.  I am just not up for that right now – the end of summer has me a bit frazzled!  I have an abstract sort of animal print that I’m thinking might be nice for the pattern.