Thursday, October 12, 2017

Summer Sleepwear

Summer pajamas

This pajama set was sewn for August's Wardrobe Builder sleepwear challenge (from Laura at The Petite Passions). I was inspired by Closet Case Patterns Carolyn Pajamas, but rather than buying another pattern to add to my already too big collection, I decided to use 2 patterns already in my stash: BurdaStyle 12/2014 #133 (free on the BurdaStyle website) and McCall's 2101 (OOP but a copy is available on Amazon).

BurdaStyle 12/2014 #133 Pajama Top

McCall's 2101 Drawstring Pants

BurdaStyle 12/2014 #133 is a drop shoulder button up pajama shirt with a deep back pleat. I cut a size 38, but narrowed the front and back by 1 inch (I was concerned there would be too much wearing ease for my taste). I drafted separate front facings, a pocket facing, and separate cuffs for piping insertion and also added piping to the collar. I left out the bottom pockets and changed the straight hem to a shirttail hem. Based on fit in the shoulders, I will add back the ease I removed for my next version! I think I also need to lengthen the top.

McCall's 2101 is a pattern for drawstring pants. I sewed view E (the shorts), size medium with about 1.5 inches of ease taken out of the hips (I will add a bit back for the next version). I adjusted the crotch to fit my pants sloper a bit more closely while still maintaining a relaxed fit. I drafted separate cuffs to allow piping insertion and added seamed pockets and a faux fly.

The fabric came from a set of old sheets. I didn't realize the fabric was directional with a different shade depending on which way is up until my husband pointed out that the top and bottom of the set are different colors! Oops. Good thing they're just pajamas!

Piping detail. Buttons from my stash. 

I used a soft cotton fabric from my stash to make the bias binding for the piping. There was enough of this fabric left to make a camisole as well! 

I have  been wanting to find a TNT cami pattern, so I made the Diana cami from Spit Up and Stilettos/Sew Loft (free pattern hosted at Hoopes Parks Studio), size S at the bust graded to M at the waist in the soft pink cotton. I compared this to the Ogden cami from True Bias (size 2) in a pink and purple quilting cotton (also from my stash). The Odgen is one of my #2017makenine, so it feels good to check that off! Neither pattern has any darts to worry about. The Diana is finished at the top with bias binding and has an interesting back strap style; the Ogden is finished with a facing and is definitely a faster sew!

Here's the Diana:

Back detail without hair in the way!
And the Ogden:

(Right strap is sewn in properly -- just twisted in the photo!)

I prefer the way the Ogden fits me, though I will probably use the Diana back detail again at some point. I love that the Ogden takes less than 1 yard of fabric and that it's such a quick sew! Unlike the Diana, it's not free, but it's very well drafted and is a nice basis for hacks (see True BiasThreadbear Garmentstrine.schroeder, lindsayinstitches, and Sew Busy Lizzy). There's a reason it's so popular in the sewing blogosphere! I will be sewing up several more for winter layering in a drapier fabric than quilting cotton. 😉 I also plan on making the pajama set again for winter in a pink and purple striped cotton flannel. I will make the pants long, but keep the top short sleeved.

This last summer I also made a robe, so my summer loungewear is complete! I used the free kimono Robe pattern from Connecting Threads. The dark purple fabric was a sheet rescued from the thrift store and the lining fabric is more of the lavender sheets the pajamas are made from. I used the patterned portions of the sheet for the back, cuffs, and collar and added ribbon belt loops for the tie. At the moment it's the perfect weight, though I may want to make a heavier robe for the dead of winter!

Do you have a TNT camisole pattern that you prefer? November is TNT month at the Sewcialists--the perfect chance to find one and make a few camisoles!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

American Kilt

I am way behind on posting my summer makes! During my time off, I spent a lot of time sewing and not a lot of time blogging. Then I started my new job, and everything else took a back seat. Now I'm on maternity leave, and will try to document some of my favorite makes from the last few months. I also have big plans for the Refashioners 2017 #suitsyou challenge!

My husband A requested this kilt, and since he's never asked me to make anything else for him, I couldn't really say no! It was also fun to have him encourage me to spend more time in the craft room. 😉 I drafted the pattern using his measurements and adjusting the tutorial for a traditional Scottish kilt in Ann Stewart's article in Threads, Vol 33, Feb/Mar 1991, pages 54-60, entitled "Making a Kilt: Sew a man's traditional kilt or a woman's kilt skirt" to fit this inspiration kilt:

Sport Utility Kilt by Damn Near Kilt 'Em
The Stewart article is really excellent; I highly recommend reading it before making a kilt! I found it on my Threads Magazine Archive DVD (not an affiliate link; totally worth the cost!). Here's what my pattern diagram looked like when I was done drafting it:

I used a dark khaki-colored stretch wool twill that A and I picked out at A Fabric Place in Baltimore when we were there for a friend's wedding. I wasn't sure how much I needed, so got 8 yards. Turns out this was more than enough, since the fabric was 55" wide and the finished kilt length was only 24". I ended up using about 5 yards of fabric, leaving plenty for a future pair of dress pants for me! The facing was made from a natural linen rayon mix from the remnant bin at Joann Fabrics. I prewashed and dried the wool twill to prevent any shrinkage of the finished product. Hardware was sourced from Joann Fabrics (brass snaps), BagMakingBees on Etsy (brass buckles), and TrimmingShop on Etsy (bronze eyelets). 

I kept extensive notes in case I ever want to make another version. Unlike a traditional kilt where the pleats all point one direction, the pleats on the "American Kilt" switch directions in the back. They are topstitched down from the waist to the hipline, then hang free. Copious amounts of steam were used to press the pleats below the hipline, and they have kept their shape well with wear.

The overapron wraps over the underapron and is attached with 8 heavy duty snaps. Straps on the right side of the overapron buckle to the right hip and keep the front lying smooth over the hip. The two pockets hang free from the top and are large enough for a smart phone, keys, a wallet, and a flask, should you desire! 


The inside edge of the waistband was finished with bias tape, then topstitched into place from the outside. There were lots of opportunities to practice perfecting edgestitching and topstitching!

Aaron is pleased with how the kilt turned out. Next he wants me to make him a pair of jeans! 

Next up, some sleepwear from old bedsheets!

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Classy Camo Dress

This is the second “non-maternity” maternity dress that I made to wear in June. I wore my teal Acton dress to my friend’s wedding and the dress in today’s post to my (very last ever!) graduation. I found this lovely fabric at a visit to SR Harris this spring—it just screamed summer dress to me:

Interlock knit from SR Harris

I chose a knit dress pattern from my stash that was closest to an empire waist: McCall’s 7350 view A. I shortened the bodice by 1 ½ inches and the midriff by 1 inch to give my tummy some room, which worked out well.

McCall's 7350
I should have known something wasn’t right when sizing the pattern. I always compare finished pattern measurements to the body sizing, and this dress had 2 ½ inches of ease in the bust. This seemed a bit much, so I sized down for only 1 inch of ease at the bust. I decided not to toile the bodice, which was a mistake! I did baste each seam by machine and check the fit before serging with a 4-thread overlock stitch. However, when the outer shell of the bodice fit well, I assumed that when the inner and outer layers were joined the fit would also be good. This was not the case. I think the neck got stretched out when I understitched the inner shell. This was per the instructions, and I did use a stretch stitch, but should I have understitched a knit? It felt wrong. 

Neck pleats -- impossible to see in this fabric!
I wadded the bodice up and threw it in the trash. Then 15 minutes later I pulled in out and started fitting on my dressform (which still makes me gloriously happy—it actually is my size!). I took 1½ inches out at the back waist tapering to 1¼ inches at the back neck. I added 6 pleats, each ¾ inch deep, to the front bodice neck. I was finally pleased with the fit—actually I like the pleats on the bodice quite a bit.

From there, things went smoothly. I narrowed the midriff pieces to fit the bodice. I omitted the waist elastic without any issues. I made the skirt a bit longer in front than recommended given my tummy! There is a nice overlap on the skirt, so even though there is no fastening below the midriff I haven’t had any wardrobe malfunctions. For the hem, I folded over twice and handstitched.

With my boys at graduation
I like the final fit very much. I will probably make the pattern again in one of the other views, but I will be sure to use negative ease in the bodice! I've included a couple of dressform pics below, in case I'm too "camouflaged" in the pictures above. 😉 You can appreciate the nice hi-lo hem, even without the baby bump. 


Monday, July 17, 2017

Teal Acton Dress

I had two events in June that I wanted to wear handmade outfits for: my graduation and a friend’s wedding. However, none of the dresses that I’ve made before will fit over my pregnant belly, and I didn’t want to spend my precious sewing time on a nice maternity dress that I will wear only twice. I looked through my patterns and chose two dresses that would fit with minimal alteration during pregnancy and still be usable in the future!

The first was one of my #2017make9, the Acton dress from In the Folds. I made a combination of the two views: the bodice from view A and the skirt from view B.

I cut a straight size C and made a toile of the bodice (actually I toiled the bodice from view B, but the adjustments transferred easily). The princess seams made fitting easy. I narrowed the back waist at the princess seam by ½ inch on each piece, flattened the bust curve at the front princess seam (a common adjustment for my A-cup-on-a-good-day), and took in the front princess seams above the bust by 3/8 inch on each piece.  I narrowed the back skirt piece to reflect the back waist of the bodice. 

For the final dress, I used a fairly heavy but loosely woven teal cotton blend from my stash (thrifted at some point in time). It raveled quite significantly! I used French seams except for Hong Kong binding along the back seam as suggested in the pattern, but the next time I sew with such a heavy fabric I will use Hong Kong seams throughout. There were a couple of points in the corners of the skirt that I had to do some creative resewing and actually use small pieces of fusible inferfacing to ensure stability.

I didn’t interface the zip seam as I normally would, given the thickness of the fabric. I was also unable to sew the straps and ties inside out and turn them, again due to fabric weight. I ran the fabric through my bias binder maker* and topstitched. The bodice was lined with the remnants of a quilting fat quarter (some creating piecing was required to line the whole bodice)!

Inside dress bodice
Because I had so much fabric left over (I still do!), I decided to make a jacket as well. I used a pattern that I have sewn before, McCall’s 5935.

My prior version fits well in the bodice (it was lengthed by 1 inch), but is a bit short in the sleeves (so I always wear them folded up!). This time I lengthened the sleeves by 2 inches. I also used a contrasting cotton lining for the bodice and cuffs and left the sleeves unlined (I used a thrifted pillowcase and didn’t have enough to line the sleeves). I learned my lesson with the dress and serged every piece before sewing together. The lining covers all the seams nicely on the inside.

Inside back jacket

Let me tell you, this fabric was not interested in becoming a semi-tailored jacket. It stretched itself all out of shape, except for the pieces that were interfacing, so of course nothing lined up. This was especially an issue in the shoulders, upper collar, and sleeves. There were some creative adjustments made, requiring a lot of pinning, trying on, re-pinning, basting, un-basting, and cursing. I ended up shortening the sleeves by 1 3/8 inches. I know at least some of that is the fabric, but I will change my sleeve lengthening adjustment to only 1 inch for the next time I make the pattern! I didn’t put in any buttons, because it won’t button up at this time. I will in the future when I can put it in the right place.

Despite these struggle (or perhaps because of them), I am very proud of the way the jacket turned out. It looks good with the dress, and is a color that I will wear with lots of other items. I think next time either underlining or using a lightweight fusible interfacing on each piece for stabilization would be the only way to avoid the issues I had. As I mentioned, I still have lots of this fabric left—perhaps I will make a matching skirt, now that I know all the its tricks!

My next post will review the other “non-maternity” maternity dress I made! I still have to take some pics (and by “I” I mean my husband).

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Maternity sewing plans

Despite Lincoln's advice to not "swap horses in the middle of the stream," pregnancy has effectively halted my progress on #2017makenine. I will share my maternity sewing plans in this post, but first I wanted to note that I have completed several #2017makenine projects, which I will blog at some point:

Simplicity 2446 Amazing Fit jacket in black summer-weight wool suiting
Simplicity 2154 vintage suit shirt in black summer-weight wool suiting
- McCalls 3128 high-waisted pants in black summer-weight wool suiting
Sewaholic Hollyburn skirt in winter-weight gray/red woolen plaid 

4 out of 9 seems a pretty good start, but (except for the Acton dress) I won't be able to sew any more of my #2017makenine until the end of September. We will see how much time I find on maternity leave for sewing! I always have less time than I think I will.

I have some maternity clothes left from prior pregnancies, but I only saved those things that fit very well, which unfortunately included limited bottoms (only 1 pair of jeans, 1 pair of pants, and no skirts). So my plan had to include plenty of pants/skirts. I also needed more summer-weight tops, since my previous pregnancies were predominately in the winter. Finally, with limited time to sew, everything on the list either had to be a quick make or something that I could use when no longer pregnant! Here's what I came up with. 


My waistband pattern (drafted from RTW maternity jeans)
I have several old dress pants and jeans in my closet that are a little too big for me but still have plenty of wear left. I created a pattern for a maternity band, cut on the fold at the front and top, so the only visible seam is at the back and there is plenty of support. I bought several lengths of rayon jersey from via Amazon (heather gray, black (now only available in polyester jersey), and wheat), as well as some Lycra blends from S.R. Harris to use for my maternity bands. After cutting off the old waistband and shaping the top of the pants, the maternity waistbands are easy to sew into place. I am please with the fit, comfort, and simplicity of this solution! Here are the bottoms I've completed so far:

Black trousers

Gray trousers

Red jeans

Cropped khakis

I still have to modify some denim capris and a pair of shorts, which should be plenty. (I will be wearing a lot of yoga pants and gym shorts at home as well!)


For most of my pregnancy, I can wear skirts with elastic waistbands, some of which (the maxi length) can be pulled up over my tummy as time goes on, but I wanted some other options as well. I have a gray dress skirt that received the same treatment as the pants: 

Gray skirt

I also bought Simplicity 1359, a nice mix of 4 maternity patterns (OOP, but available on Amazon). I have a blue and white floral interlock knit from Jo-Ann Fabrics that I have made into a maternity maxi skirt. If I have enough of the navy Lycra blend, I will make a maternity mini skirt as well!

Maternity knit patterns

ITY knit fabric

S1359 maxi shirt (modified to a simple A line without gores)

Navy Lycra blend -- not this blue in real life!


I have several nice blouses, but wanted more summer options! Using view A from S1359 and more of the rayon jersey, I made a black and a gray tee. Rather than making fiddly ties for the sides, I just used elastic to add permanent ruching:

Black tee

Gray tee

Elastic ruching

I made two woven tops (to be worn both while pregnant and in the future), which I shared in this post: a modified Colette Sorbetto and McCall's 9542. I also refashioned one of my husband's old dress shirts to a maternity top:

I also made a maternity camisole in the wheat jersey, and will make another in the blue lycra if there is enough. I used Zoe's Cordelia camisole, available here, which fit beautifully. It's perfect for wearing under non-maternity jackets and cardigans for my air-conditioned workplace!



With a self-drafted jacket


Non-maternity cardigans will do nicely! I did have two maternity sweaters that I refashioned. I shortened the sleeves on a black and white stripe sweater with fold-over elastic:

Sorry, you can't actually see the sleeves here!

I dyed a khaki drape-neck sweater to a color I find more flattering and shortened the sleeves by shortening them into cuffs, folding over the cuffs, and serging:


In the Folds Acton dress

I have a nice maternity dress, but was able to make the In the Folds Acton dress (view B will fit a good way into pregnancy) in a teal cotton blend from my stash and McCall's 7530 in a interlock jersey knit from S.R. Harris.
Used view A

Overall, a pretty ambitious maternity sewing schedule! I think I've already made good progress, and I do have July off as I transition between jobs, so hope to finish up maternity sewing that month.