M7092 – Palmer/Pletsch Knit Dress

I was supposed to be doing buttons and hemming for my husband, so instead I made a dress for myself. Yes, that’s as selfish as it sounded. Anyway, I made McCall 7092, another Palmer/Pletsch knit pattern. This one has options from tunic to maxi dress length, and varying sleeve lengths making it pretty versatile.

I bought two yards of this rayon jersey print back in March. I probably won’t remember this lesson, but 1) I dislike using rayon jersey for dresses and 2) prints are pretty on the bolt, but not really my preference for clothing. When I am window shopping for clothes, I am not drawn to prints, so why buy something that is suboptimal, preference-wise? Also, I should have known better, but this fabric is ill-suited to use as a dress.

To start with, I made View C, which calls for 2 yards of fabric plus another yard for the two contrast panels. I chose to make the contrast panels from the same fabric as the rest of the dress, but it added a layer of cutting difficulty as I was already tight on material. Then I realized I needed to have the pattern vaguely matching going down my body and the right and left bodice pieces mirroring each other. I didn’t even try to make the sleeves match the body of the dress, just each other, and I just barely managed to make it work. This is why I hate non-random prints.

Once everything was cut out, I had to play guessing games on how the pattern would look once on a person. I don’t really put tons of effort into avoiding a bullseye effect on bodices, but I did with this one because once I got to assembly stage I was so suspicious of pitfalls that I even took pictures to double-check the print placement, and I’m glad I did as one of the layouts was really bad.  It’s probably lost in the busyness of the print, but the front top is a vee that goes to an underbust seam with overlapping panels behind it for modesty.

That leads to seven layers of fabric sewn together through the pleats as both the bodice and panel pieces are folded in half eliminating the need for neck edge finishing in the front. Not so the back, which I disliked as I thought it was messy though the shoulder seam.

The above picture is that same bodice seam once neatly serged together. Makes quite the difference. With the pleats and the panels, I basted everything first for the bodice, which ruined the whole speed through a knit project to get a wearable garment in three hours feel. However, it truly helped speed everything along once I got the serger because I was not worried about pieces slipping out of alignment when wrangling that many layers. I think I got most of the basting thread out but there was a lot by the end.

Let’s talk about fitting. I mean, that’s the selling point to the Palmer/Pletsch patterns, right? For me, the book Fit for Real People was life changing in my sewing. I knew that I didn’t exactly match the drafted body for patterns, but it was the book that started me down the path to personalizing patterns so they fit me. I’ve given a copy to my mom, and recommended it to friends. I even like that the fitting lines are printed right on the pattern sheets, and the extra page of instructions is really well done. But I do not get the knit patterns to work out as well as I would like and I don’t know why. I mean, I have made plenty of knits and yet, these just don’t end up as successful as I would like.

I don’t know if it’s my expectations or what.  Honestly, tissue fitting and knits just don’t really go together.  So much is going to depend on the fabric used and wearing preferences. For example, I like no ease through the bodice and one to two inches of ease below my ribcage. I did the size 10 with no full bust adjustment swinging out to a 14 through the waist and hips. The finished measurements should have given me no ease in the bust. I ended up taking in half an inch on each side and there is still wearing ease to be found here.

The back is too wide for my frame and the armscye seam is past the tip of my shoulder, but I failed in doing the narrow shoulder adjustment, so it’s to be expected. I took half an inch in length out of the upper bodice and sleeves, did the indicated swayback tuck. I don’t always alter for a swayback, but I do generally have the problem of too much back length in patterns in the back waist, and I should remember to do it more often.  The diagonal wrinkle coming from the right hip is new to me, and I’m a bit perplexed as there is plenty of room in that part of the dress for my body.

Is this truly close-fitting? I look like a cylinder.

The bodice seam I think is meant to be a straight line and it is not on me. But I don’t really need more length through there, if anything less, as the center of the seam is where it is supposed to be, but it just droops off to the side. At the same time, the hemline is more or less even with the floor, so maybe that’s how it’s supposed to look but I don’t love it. I did finally try to accommodate my forward shoulders and pivoted the seam forward by 3/8″. I didn’t change where the top of the sleeve was against the advice of the instructions, but I don’t have issues with sleeves, just seam placement. I can’t see a difference in this dress, but it wasn’t hard to do, so I’ll mess with it again in the future and see if it’s worthwhile to add to my repertoire of usual alterations.

Too much ease in those sleeves for my taste

All that said, I’m not in love with the finished product. It’s well constructed and it fits alright, but the skirt is too thin for a long sleeve dress, and a more robust fabric would be too thick though the bust with all of the layers. Rayon jersey gets really heavy in a dress application, and I wonder if I wouldn’t like this more chopped to a tunic length. I’m going to see if it gets any wear with the weather getting colder and decide then.


Happy Thanksgiving!

Home dec sewing and I do not get along, but I decided to try anyway. The tablecloth is newly made today with three yards of some heavy cotton from the $5/yard section at Fabric Basement. I know absolutely nothing about picking the right fabric for décor applications, and I suspect this one is a bit too thick for what I was envisioning. However, its hand was improved greatly by a trip through the dryer’s steam cycle, and I think(hope) it will launder well. The one part I failed to account for prior to starting this project is the sheer tedium of hemming three yards of fabric. 28 feet of hemming is more than I’m used to doing. It makes a circle skirt hem feel small!

M7009 Child’s Knit Top

Wow, two posts in two days.  So this is what having sewing enthusiasm again feels like! Knit tops are helpful like that.  Also, I never dislike quick and easy projects, which McCall 7009 definitely qualifies as.

My daughter has decided to keep growing and all of last year’s long sleeve tops are now three quarter sleeves.  Alas, the selection of long sleeve tops in colors or prints that she likes are slim pickings at least at the price point I shop at.  I asked her if she would like me to make tops for her, and after looking through my pattern library she agreed on a test run.  I got this striped interlock of mystery fabric off the cheap table at G Street Fabrics when they closed their location at Seven Corners and well, if it didn’t work out, I wasn’t going to be upset.

After much consideration with the recipient of the top, I decided to cut a straight size 10 and see how it would work out.  As expected it’s too big in the torso, and the sleeves are way long.  On her request, I added an extra inch of length in the torso as she likes her tops on the longer side, and looking at it, I’m glad.  I feel like Big4 kid’s top run a smidge short compared to their width causing a bit of a boxy look.

I forgot how much not fun it can be matching stripes, but the end result is worth it.  The sleeves and body are matched at the notches.  To make sure that the serger would not pull the stripes out of alignment, all seams except the collar center back seam were basted first on the sewing machine before a final pass through the serger.  The sleeves were sewn in flat and then the arm and body were sewn in one pass.  The sleeve cap ease was not out of control on this one, though the give of the interlock may have accounted for the ease in sewing.  I did not stabilize the shoulder seams, which in retrospect, I should have.  In fairness, I don’t expect this shirt to still be in my house this time next year, so I don’t think it will matter much.  The hems are coverstitched with in brown.  I found a tip online somewhere to iron the hems first to make it easier to stitch down, and I wish I could remember where I found that because it made such a difference and I want to credit the site.

This shirt does suffer from one flaw consisting of two parts.  The collar as drafted is too close to the size of the neck opening.  In pinning, it seemed to match exactly and I prefer a 90-95% of the opening circumference to keep it from gaping later.  With this collar, it’s less of a concern, but worth mentioning.  Also, sewing the collar to the neck opening has a lettuce effect going on and that’s unacceptable.  I don’t know if it was the presser foot pressure on the serger or what (though messing with the differential feed helped some, but not completely), but I hate when fabrics do this.  Every interlock I have ever sewn wants to do this at some point, and I hate it.  I like the idea of the heavier double knit for winter tops, but as much heartache as jersey can be, it does not do this to me.  However, it’s not obvious from the right side when worn, so all’s well that ends well.

M6841 Palmer/Pletsch Knit Top

Long time, no blogging.  Yeah, that blue dress ended up destroying my mojo all summer long.  I just wish I had thrown in the towel sooner so I could have moved on to projects that I enjoy.  The quickest way I could think of for that is to whip up a knit top.

Indoor pictures are going to be a nightmare in this house…

I had 2.5 yards of this poly/lycra jersey acquired from my closest Joann last spring.  I love the colors in this but couldn’t see me wearing a dress in it.  The idea of the drapey, fluid front appealed though and I found the pattern stashed in a moving box that I had not yet opened (after only 11.5 months, pfft).  The sizing is XS-S-M for the envelope I had, so I went with small in the shoulder and sleeves and tapering out to a medium below the sleeve.  As big as it ended up being, I did not need to do that, but it doesn’t bother me.  I should have done the forward shoulder adjustment as the seam line falls way back on me, but I did not.  Note the laziness that went into the project.  The pattern warns the sleeve is narrow and that is no joke.  I lengthened by 1.5 inches trying to get the long sleeve and then I still end up pushing it up.  The front seam stopped very low on me, so I sewed it closed by another 2.5 inches, but that’s kind of an individual judgment call.  I got what I envisioned, but oh how I am not a fan of the dolman sleeve.  It looks just like the pattern photo and design lines, but it feels weird to me wearing it, so no I won’t be making another one of these, but I’m glad I made this one.

And some minor Halloween sewing may have happened this year.  The halberd and cape were made by me super fast on October 30, and the longest part was appliqueing the cross motif on the halberd.  I did not use a stabilizer as I don’t own any, but it would have been a good choice so if I ever do something like this again, I hope I remember to use some.

B5333 Dress – A conundrum

I got the bright idea to cut a dress earlier this week based on the fact that the fabric is seven years aged in stash as is the pattern, and I wanted a new dress for summer. However, I didn’t really think through my plan, and so I have this unfinished project.
Mistake number one, not checking what alterations were needed for success.  I always have to shorten the bodice, but the bust point matched mine, so I just went ahead with the size 10 through the shoulders out to a 12 under the bust.  That’s it.  Umm, I know better, I swear, but look at this wreck.  The bust dart comes up and over my bust point.  How on Earth is that supposed to work for anyone?

Oh, in case it isn’t obvious, this is just basted together for all of the vertical seams to check the fit.  I knew that the bodice was wonky, so I figured if I assembled enough I could decide if this is worth salvaging.  I have enough fabric to recut a front bodice, but nothing else.

The marked waistline is at my waist here and you can see the extra length present in both the front and back bodice pieces.  The front is slightly less terrible as I did not do a full bust adjustment, though a slight one would have helped if nothing else than dropping that bust point as right now there is too much fabric above the waist but instead of the mass of horizontal wrinkles, the fabric has enough body to just lift away from my shoulders.

Ignoring the not great zipper basting job here, look at all of the wrinkles in the small of my back.  The back bodice ended up being huge and I really do need a narrow shoulder adjustment going forward.  If this were finished properly, my bra straps would definitely be visible.  The back neckline gapes by a ton, and the back dart is going too far into my shoulder blade.  This would be a total wadder if not for the fact that the color looks fantastic in the pictures.  I just don’t know how motivated I am to fix this, though on the plus side, it is another 2.5 yards of material out of stash.

Look what I found in the bottom of a moving box

Found these pants today as I was emptying another box.  I don’t know when I started them, but based on the size I think about 3 years ago.

These are supposed to be sitting at my waistline. That’s definitely not my waist.

These are from one of the Simplicity Amazing Fit patterns, and they are straight legged trousers.  I made them up in some mystery polyester that may have come from my grandma’s stash, finished everything but the hem, and abandoned them.  Why?  I don’t know.  Maybe it was the fact that the fabric feels gross, but I think I remember them being too tight through the hips.  I don’t have that problem today.

I could hide a small child in here

In the photo I’m bringing the pants up to where they are supposed to sit and wow, they’re big.  At least I can chuck these in the trash guilt free.  I’ve been reworking through Marie Kondo’s book, especially as I’m finding items like this where the guilt of needing but not wanting to finish them weighs me down.  I just wonder how many other surprises are lurking in the remaining craft room boxes.

Vogue 1020 Knit Top

Fresh from the UFO pile, I bring you Vogue 1020, a knit wardrobe pattern where I made the top.  It is gathered on the left side, has three quarter length sleeves, and in the pattern also has an option for a dress length.

Apologies for the crummy pictures but thunderstorms stole all of my daylight, of which there has been precious little this week

I cut out this top five years ago, I think.  I remember messing with it, getting upset with the gathering, chucking it in a closet, and finding it only when I was unpacking a moving box.  It’s a front, back, and two sleeves, and all of the pieces were together, but the one side was still open and I had no idea how I was going to finish this up as I still hadn’t unpacked my coverstitch machine.  The fabric choice for this was unfortunate.  I think it’s from Jo-Ann’s, but I don’t remember if I bought it or my mom.  It’s pretty beefy for a jersey, and it sewed up fine.  However, the print obscures the lines of the design, and honestly, I’m just not loving it.  It’s fun, but I feel like the print is wearing me rather than the other way around.  Also, I’m not really drawn to yellow or bronze tones these days, so I can already tell that its days in my closet are numbered.

The back piece is also gathered into the left side seam, not that you can tell in this print. The hem does sort of fall on that side too, alas

That’s a bit tragic because I like the lines of this and think that it would be really nice in a solid color. The only drawback to the pattern is the gathering is controlled by some sort of stay for the left side as both front and back are gathered, and finding something I liked for that was harder than I would have liked. I used clear elastic this time, and it’s a bit too bulky and it is a total pain to sew with.  That’s an understatement.  I hate clear elastic all the time, but gathering with clear elastic was a nightmare.  Still I think I want to make this again in a hefty knit for winter.  I need to take out more length just above the waist, but all in all, not a terrible fit.

All of the edges including the neckline are turned under and hem stitched.  Getting my coverstitch to behave for the first time in months was an interesting challenge as the looper thread tension was a mess, but once I fixed that via the third rethreading, hemming was a breeze.  So all of the sewing machines have made it back onto the sewing table, and I need to get cracking on some new projects.