Thursday, June 9, 2016

Pattern Report: Kwik Sew 3187, Men's Fleece Jacket

The DH wanted a new fleece jacket. The DH is hard to fit and fussy about jackets in general. DH also does not love fittings. Hmmmm.

My daughter picked out some really nice fleece from Hancock Fabrics for DH and DH selected Kwik Sew 3187 as the style jacket he wanted me to make.

In general, I like Kwik Sew patterns. I like that they are printed on paper rather than tissue. Kwik Sew directions are usually easy to understand. I've made several fleece projects before, including a very similar style jacket for my daughter using Kwik Sew 3085.... but this project proved difficult.

I know, I know. I should have made a muslin, but the fleece was not much more than the cost of muslin and so I plowed ahead. The directions for the pockets puzzled me. I am not sure why, but I read them and read them and something just did not make sense. I cut the pieces and pinned the pockets according to the instructions but the pockets seemed to hang terrible long and looked like hemming would be problematic with the pocket placement.

 I proposed a jacket without pockets but DH was incredulous and told me not to make the jacket if all if it did not have pockets.

After adjusting the pieces and sewing the garment DH decided the jacket was long. Could I cut it shorter? Hmmm. We'd fitted and I'd sewn in the zipper and the dash gone pockets. Shorter? Really?

So the project sits. I know his request is not completely unreasonable. I know I will be able to figure out a way to do it...but right now I need to let it sit...and the man still has no jacket.

The selfish seamstress has a point. It really is easier to sew for yourself.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

One Pattern, Many Dresses: Kwik Sew 3394

Kwik Sew 3394: Dress #2
In the summer, I live in t-shirt dresses. I often prefer a dress to shorts on the weekends. I love Fresh Produce and Lulu-B designs, but neither sell in stores near me. :(

Kwik Sew 3394 was one of the first patterns I used when I began my ready to waer fast. The pattern has the look and feel of the Fresh Produce and Lulu-B dresses I love.  In my first versions, I found some nice cotton interlock on sale at my local Hancock Fabrics before it closed. The first dress was so comfy, I made a second in another fabric. When the two dresses became summer favorites, I bought more fabric to make fall versions with long sleeves. In further versions, I varied the length and I varied the neckline.

Snippets (from Collette Patterns) arrived in my in box and recommended making patterns multiple times. Yup. My third was by far my best. Nicest fabric and best fit. Although I made the dress now years ago and I still love both the pattern and the original versions of the dress. OK, my first attempts look a tad faded and some of the stitching could be improved... but with each wash it gets softer and my stitching stood the test of time. Still a favorite!

Kwik Sew 3394: dress #1
The pattern was easy and I made minimal modifications to the pattern design. I used a rolled edge on the sleeves and a lettuce edge at the hem. I also used scrap fabric to add a belt to each dress. IMHO this pattern is a winner.

 Kwik Sew 3394

Related Tutorials
Use Your Serger to Make a Belt from Scrap Fabric
Embroider a Belt Made from Scrap Fabric

Make a Ruana from an Old Blanket

Blankets and table cloths contain a lot of material. Old blankets with holes or stains can be cut up and repurposed into all sorts of items.

This season, capes, ponchos and ruanas are the rage on the runways, red carpets and as RTW is stores. We decided to cut up an old blanket and use it as the fabric sources for a runway worthy ruana.

We think it looks chic. Not just eco-chic. No need to tell it was repurposed.

3 to 3 1/2 yds 54" or 60" knit or woven fabric reclaimed from an old blanket, table cloth or other item with a large amount of fabric

Step 1
Determine the size ruana you want to make and take measurements to determine fabric needs. For example, to make an almost ankle length, measure over your shoulder from back hem length to front hem length.  Cut  less fabric if you want the ruana knee length.

Tip: Polar fleece does not ravel and requires no hem. Polar fleece is a great fabric source for a quick easy blanket to ruana project. For all other fabrics, add hem allowances to length as you will need to hem the edges.  Use the full 60" or 54" width of the fabric, minus selvages.

Step 2
Fold the fabric lengthwise so it lies entirely flat. Smooth the fabric with your hands. Measure and clean-cut your length. 

Step 3
Cut off the selvages one at a time.

Step 4
Find and mark the center. Fold the fabric lengthwise, then width. Use a pin to mark center.

Step 5
Cut the neckline. Unfold the fabric to full length, half width. Using the pin as a guide, cut a half circle with 1-inch to the back of center. The remaining of the half circle should be to the front of center. Use a 6" diameter for full figured folks, for smaller folk cut a 5" diameter circle.

Step 6
Finish the ruana. Polar fleece will not fray and can be left as cut. To add a decorative touch to fleece, stitch around the edges of the ruana with yarn and a buttonhole stitch or thread and a machine decorative stitch to finish.

For all fabrics other than fleece, finish with a serger or make a quarter-inch stitched hem.

Make a Handbag from Scrap Fabric

The "messenger" style handbag is a classic design that can be found in all cultures throughout the ages. In its simplest form, the messenger style bag is made from one piece of fabric, folded and sewed.  Since the bag can be made in many sizes and, depending on size,  requires little fabric it is a great project for scrap fabric of all sorts.

It is a good idea to add embroidery or decorations, if any, to the piece of fabric that you intend to be the exterior of the bag prior to assembling the bag.


Fabric scissors
Rotary cutter
24 x 36 self healing mat
6 x24 quilting ruler
Embroidery scissors
Sewing Machine or Serger (optional)

8x31 piece heavy, scrap fabric
8x31 piece lighter lining fabric
8x31 piece fusible interfacing
1 yard cord
Serger thread or sewing thread

Step 1
Place the material on a cutting mat. Measure and mark the fabric with a quilting ruler. Cut two pieces of fabric and a piece of fusible interfacing approximately 8-inches wide x 31-inches long each with scissors or a rotary cutter.   
Hint: You can omit the second piece of fabric if you do not want the bag lined.

Step 2
Fuse the interfacing to the wrong side of the fabric that will be the exterior of the bag.

Step 3
Stack the fabric so the wrong side of the lining fabric faces the interfacing side of the exterior fabric.

Step 4
Measure 10-inches from the bottom of the fabric. With right side together, fold the fabric up to create a pocket.

Step 5
Sew the pocket closed using a serger, sewing machine or by hand. Using a serger, continue serging beyond the fold to the end of the fabric to stitch together the exterior and lining and add a finished, decorative edge. Repeat for the second side of the bag. Finish by serging the top portion of the bag.

Step 6
Turn the bag right side out.

Further Reading:
"Hip Handbags"; Valerie Van Arsdale Shrader; 2005.
"Handbag Designer 101"; Emily Blumenthal; 2011.

Related Tutorials 
Turn Your Kid's Old Blue Jeans into a Purse
Make a Grocery Bag from Scrap Fabric
Make a Grocery Tote Bag from a T-Shirt
Make a Purse from Blue Jeans Shorts
Make a Throw Blanket from Old Sweaters

Butterick 5211

 The amazing one hour dress. Below is my review from patternreview:

Butterick 5211 Pattern Description:
Misses' Pullover Dresses and Belt

Pattern Sizing:
I cut an 8. My measurements on the day I sewed the project were 34-27-37.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?

Were the instructions easy to follow?
I did not use them. This is a very simple pattern.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
I used only 1 yard of fabric

Fabric Used:
Rayon jersey.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
I omitted facings and used a simple narrow hem on neck, arms & hem. I serge the hem line, arms and neck prior to assembling as a "stay stitch" to control curling and to avoid stretching. I them use the serge stitching to create narrow hem.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
Yes. This was a wearable muslin for more expensive silk.

Nice, fast pattern. After cutting an adjusting for fit, I was able to sew in under an hour.

KwikSew 3766 & Simplicity 2314

It is summer and I really, really wanted a new top and skirt to wear around town
KS3766and S2314 fit the bill. The skirt was made with less than a yard of fabric and the top took under an hour to sew.  Both were made from scraps in my fabric stash. In short, I had a low cost outfit that I made in less time than it would take to go to the mall and shop.

Below are the reviews from PatternReview:
Simplicity 2314 Pattern Description:
Learn to Sew

Pattern Sizing:
I cut a 14 but removed 1 inch from the sides; the next time I will cut an 8. For reference, my measurements today are 34-28-37

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?

Were the instructions easy to follow?
I did not use them

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
I used only 1 yard of fabric!

Fabric Used:
Quilting Cotton from my stash. Yes, I know the controversy about quilting cotton for cloths... but it is less expensive than muslin and a nice bottom weight.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
I added top stitching to all seams.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
Yes. This is a cute basic pattern. Different fabrics will give different looks.

Great pattern to use when you have limited fabric.

KwikSew3766 Pattern Description:
Close fitting pull-over tops

Pattern Sizing:
I cut a size small, but adjusted the shoulders to an XS.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?

Were the instructions easy to follow?

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
I love the old KS patterns that use heavy paper, not tissue paper.

Fabric Used:
Cotton interlock

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
I shortened the hem for a more modern look.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
Yes. This is one of my TNT patterns.

Great pattern for T shirt. Easy Kwik Sew instructions.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

2013 Score Card

Well my blog has been neglected but I have been sewing... just no time to write about it.

With the passing of a year, I thought I'd take a moment to report on my success with patterns. I still prefer to drape and sew but I've enjoyed learning new techniques through the discipline of sticking to patterns.

And I've learned why I find adjusting patterns so difficult. After examining the clothes I love in my wardrobe, I discovered that there was a reason I purchased certain style of clothes. I am very petite. I have narrow shoulders and I am short-waisted. I am also pear shaped. I gravitate toward dresses and tops that are self belted because fitted clothes rarely hit my waist. I also favor clothes with raglan, kimono and dolman sleeves -- these clothes compensate for my narrow shoulders.

The advantage of making my own clothes is that I can create fitted clothes that compensate for the particular challenges my body presents -- but I find the math a tad tricky. In a fitted dress, I can adjust the dress to fit my petite frame if I alter EITHER the shoulders OR the waist. But not both. For commercial patterns, that means I have been successful adjusting a fitted waist if the sleeves are raglan, dolman or kimono. And I am able to create patterns with set in sleeves if the waist of the pattern has a self belt. But set in sleeves and a fitted waist are difficult for me to create in a manner that meets my perfectionist demands. With that in mind selecting patterns that work for me has been a lot easier....and it translated into a great many more successful projects than failures.

Here is my report of success and failures for summer style clothes:

Success       Pattern OK, But Works Better for My Daughter         Failures
NL6120*                      B5892+                                                              None
V8645                          V8408
M6460                         V8898
V8807*                        V8870+

In fairness, the items in my "did not work for me" list are patterns I should never have sewed for myself. I love the hi-lo look on other folks, but I think I must be to old or to set in my ways for that fashion. Although I got complements on both the skirt (B5892) and the dress (V8870) I made, I felt silly wearing them. I wound up cutting up the material and making other items. And I wound up using the hi-lo patterns to make a darling dress (V8870) and a smart looking skirt (B5892) for my teen age daughter. (I've marked those patterns with an +).

V8898 was a bum steer from a blogger who I otherwise adore. V8898 looks darling on MimiG. I selected it because I thought it would be a more stylish version of B5211, which I made in 5 or 6 versions. But rather than looking chic, as it does on MimiG, it looked just plain strange in my boring DC world.

The hall of fame winners for my summer wardrobe are without question B5211and K3956 The simple lines of these two patterns complemented my love of patterned summer fabric. I made both in a variety of woven and knit fabrics ranging from jersey to silk charmeuse with great success. For both patterns, I added a matching fabric self belt or sash to create dresses I loved wearing in only an hour or two (after initially cutting and altering the pattern).

Here is my report of success and failures for fall style clothes:

Success        Pattern OK, But Does Not Work for Me         Failures
V8919*                                    None                                         M6654
V8408 (OOP)

If I had to pick one pattern to use for a fall/winter dress for the rest of my life, it would be 
  V8919. The pattern is that good! I used the pattern in both the straight and A line versions in multiple fabrics. The pattern looked lovely in silk jersey for fall and sewed up like a dream in both a cotton ponte and a wool double knit. The corvette red cotton ponte was a dynamite choice for the office Xmas party. And the wool double knit version keeps my toasty warm on even the coldest days. I get complements of the dress everywhere I go when I wear V8919, but the greatest complement came from one of my childhood girlfriends mother (a seamstress) who said "Wow, look at your fit on that dress." I felt like I had graduated from my challenge to conquer sewing with patterns. Yay.

K2771 is a two piece dress. While I love, love, love the skirt, I'd have to put the top in the "pattern OK, but does not work for me" pile. The top looked boxy and boring on me. But the skirt I've made multiple times in different fabrics for a great, comfortable look.

In addition, I reused the B5211 and the Simplicity New Look Project Runway 6120 patterns I so enjoyed during the summer in fall fabrics. Again the patterns did not disappoint.

That's it for my 2013 sewing report. Sorry about the lack of pictures.

Happy sewing in the new year!