Saturday, November 26, 2011

A Perfect Pair of Pants!

My first advice is not to make a pair of pants the weekend after Thanksgiving! What was I thinking? That last piece of pie shows clearly in the side view...

You are looking at cornbread dressing and pecan pie...

I discovered McCall's 5239 which is a Palmer/Pletsch Classic Fit pattern chocked full of great instructions for achieving a good fit. If you've never tried their fitting method I believe it is the best. For these pants I sewed View A with a few changes. I am not a fan of waistbands and all the views on this pattern have one. In fact, patterns seem to go from waistbands to elastic with not much in between. Depending on the fabric I would line them but the wrong side of this moleskin was really nice and soft so I cut facings for the waist. I did this by first pinning the darts in place:

And then using the shape of the waist to cut pieces about 2-1/2" deep and longer on each end:

I make notes on the facings so I have whatever option I want to when placing my zipper. On this pair I wanted a side zip so I cut both back and front facings on the fold. Here is the finished facing:

I had some questions from PR friends about how the pants would sit at the waist once the waistband is eliminated. I guess everyone has their preference about where their actual waist is; and how they like clothes to look and feel at the waist, for me the scenario below is perfect. I don't want anything around what appears to be my "real" waist...that feels too high to me:

And along these same lines, another thing I hate is the hook & eye process. As far as I'm concerned they are just annoying little stabbers waiting for you to lean against them and wince in pain! I've eliminated them completely at the top of my zips by sewing my facings or linings flush with the top of the zipper like so:

I think the true test of a pair of pants is how they look from the back and I think these look pretty darn good compared with other RTW in my closet.

This is rather brave of me, I think...

I will definitely use this pattern as my sloper now and a TNT for a great fitting pair of pants. So, not only am I'm hitting the grocery store tomorrow for a healthy basket I will be on the elliptical tomorrow afternoon!

Friday, November 25, 2011

New sewing tool...the Texas Curve

Well, I'm at it one more time with Vogue 1261. I wanted to make View A with the scoop neck out of a really great knit embellished with a glittery gold ornament looking design on it...not your typical Christmas colors but great holiday colors for an autumn toned complexion like mine...and the gift? It was a half price remnant at High Fashion so I had to make it mine.  

So...I've made this top twice before and knew I needed to further perfect the fit at the waist. Being rather full busted, tops that are cut straight down without some contour in the waist tend to make me look rather dumpy...which translates to frumpy!

Somehow, in my move from Atlanta back to Houston, I have yet to uncover my French curve so I put my thinking cap on. Brainstorm: I made 2 ovals in Microsoft Publisher in the general size and shape I wanted to nip at the waist. I cut them out and placed them according to previous measurements and basically went from the Medium at the bust and hips down to the Extra-small only at the waist:

I drew the curve onto the pattern with a red Sharpie and then taped all along the outside of the curve. Then I cut several slices into the curve so I could easily fold the pieces back to cut my fabric:

It worked great and gave me just the bit of definition that I needed to slim out the look of this tunic. I've decided to call my new invention the Texas Curve. Try it! It worked great!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Vogue 1261: Alice + Olivia Tunic = Awesome

I zipped up two of these tops in no time. Adorable pattern. Buy it. Then save yourself...throw away the instructions before you do anything else! Forget all the paper and tape and ribbon for making seams. Who has time for that nonsense making some artsy seam? Cut both the front and back on the fold and get on down the road!

Another change I made was the on the neckline and the cowl. I cut the shirt out in a medium except for the neckline which I cut along the extra small size which enlarged the neckline about 1". The pattern has it a single layer cowl where the wrong side will show when laying at the neckline. Why? I widened the cowl about an inch to accommodate the larger neckline and then I lengthened the cowl about 2-1/2" and folded it in half before serging to the neckline. That way there is no wrong side of my fabric showing. I made both of these in a Medium and did not need my usual FBA. I also nipped a little bit in at the waist so it didn't look so sacky on me.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanksgiving Day Tunic

Inasmuch as we are putting the dressing together the day before I won't worry about getting the multitudinous ruching of these sleeves in with the cornbread dressing! This is a great Sandra Betzina Vogue (V1197) that was purchased solely with this awesome knit in mind that I bought from Vogue Fabric's booth at the International Quilt Festival earlier this month. It is the heaviest, most wonderfully drapey knit (I don't even know or care what the content is!) with a crosswise stripe that only concerned me for a moment; once I saw this great tunic pattern I knew it was made for my fabric!

This pattern had a really goofy J-shaped sleeve that only made sense once the elastic was sewed on it to create the ruching. I still don't know the reason for the J shape but it works when you wear it so... inquiring minds may not need to know this answer. But...take a look at this weird sleeve pattern:

One change I made, simply because I did not have enough fabric, was to only cut one cowl as opposed to two like the pattern suggests. Since the weight of my fabric was so heavy anyway, it worked out for the best. I simply folded the 1 cowl in half and serged to the neckline. I think a double layer of fabric on the cowl, with this fabric, would have been too heavy:

Love, love, LOVE it...will I make it again? ...probably. I'm a big believer of sticking with what I know and love.

To all of my PR, blogging and sewing friends: May you all have a blessed Thanksgiving filled with peace, love, good food, good times and gratitude for the community that brings all of us together...much love....dorcas

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Great Sleeve Experiment

I love McCall's 5752 which is one of Palmer/Pletsch's "Perfect Knit Dress" patterns. I think it is being phased out, if not actually out of print, since I couldn't find it in the stores and had to order it from McCall's. Or you might check the PP website at They are great about answering promptly.

So on this pattern views A&B have a shawl collar, wrapped bodice and capped sleeves. Views C&D have a deeper V necked wrapped bodice with long, set-in sleeves. I wanted version B with long sleeves. What to do? Change the wrapped bodice on version C to the shawl collar or add sleeves to version B? I choose to add sleeves to view B then and shorten it to tunic length and had pretty good results. Here is the pattern envelope:

I wanted the view on the left but with long sleeves!

To make the sleeve I simply placed the front and back pattern pieces together at the shoulder seam and drafted that shape for the top of the sleeve then used the sleeve from my sloper for the right length. I ended up with:

You can see a faint line down the sleeve indicating the
shoulder and notice the front "half" is narrower than the back.
I then decided the sleeves needed a little oomph so I marked 8" on each side of the sleeve at the wrist and sewed clear elastic, stretching as I sewed, to create some gathering. Here is a close up of that:

This is also a great pattern where the ruching in back view tends to fool the eye a bit! What woman wouldn't count that as a bonus!

I did my usual FBA and then the only other change I made to this pattern was to leave out the second waist stay in both front and back. When the gathered waist pieces were basted to the stays there was already more thickness in those areas than I wanted. I simply sewed wrong sides together of the gathered pieces and stays so that the right side of the stay shows inside my garment. I was happy with the changes that I made to this pattern and the end result. As usual, another winner for Pati Palmer!