Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Pamela's Patterns #114 the Pretty Peplum Top

Pamela's Patterns are the brainchild of sewing instructor and author, Pamela Leggett.  She has been teaching fitting for many years, and had the vision to develop a line of patterns that already included the most commonly needed alterations.  How many more people would be sewing if they could get a great fit right out of the envelope?  My guess- a lot!

I've been wanting to try one of Pamela's patterns for a long time, and decided to start with this one:  the Pretty Peplum Top.

The pretty peplum top has both long and cap sleeve options, and keyhole or scoop neckline versions.  I chose the scoop neckline with the long sleeves for this top.  The pattern calls for 2-1/4 yards of knit fabric, but I think if you are making one of the smaller sizes, and lay your pattern out efficiently, you can make it with quite a bit less. I used a double knit with a sculpted design from FabricMart fabrics.  They don't have it in stock anymore, but I've been seeing quite a few similar fabrics lately with these raised patterns. 

One of the unique features of Pamela's top patterns is that she includes two different versions of the front- one with a dart, and one without a dart.  If you have 3 or more inches difference between your high bust and full bust measurements, she recommends that you use the darted front.  I have exactly three inches difference, and used the darted front, and it fit through the bust beautifully.

I'm getting a little fold right above the bust which Pamela suggested might be because my armhole is too long.  She does include shorten/lengthen lines on the front, back and sleeve for this alteration, so I will try that with my next version. I didn't even notice it until we took these pictures, as it disappears once my arm is not hanging straight at my side. 

The back of the Pretty Peplum Top truly is pretty!  The peplum is not too full- just enough fullness to give you some shape.

I liked the way Pamela has you finish the neckline.  You press the seam allowance towards the band, and then fold it over the seam allowance and stitch in place.  This gives it a little filler so that it stands out a little more.  You then trim off the excess binding close to your stitching on the wrong side.

Pamela also has fitting videos on You Tube to guide you in making any adjustments to fit your own shape.  I liked where the waist hit me on this top, so I didn't change it, but she recommends basting in these seams until you can try them on and look in the mirror to check the fit. 

The skirt is a delightfully easy pattern  #10 from the Fall 2014 Ottobre Women's issue.  It's just a simple one pattern piece gored skirt pattern.  I added 3 inches to the length and would have added a little more, but I was working with a remnant leftover from another project on this one.  I've made it twice, and really love wearing it with tights and boots.

I think that we still have one more of this issue left in stock at, but if you'd like it, and we're sold out, just let me know, and I'll see if I can get some more in stock.  I really think this is my absolutely favorite Ottobre issue ever.  (Of course, the next one comes out in February, and I'll probably think that's my new favorite, haha!)

I'm definitely going to be making the Peplum Top again. FabricMart is going to be having a Sew Along using this pattern starting in February.  Pamela will be giving her expert advice, and there will be a random drawing for a $100 gift certificate to Fabric Mart AND a $30 gift certificate for Pamela’s Patterns! So, if you like this style, head on over to Fabric Mart and sign up soon!

Happy Sewing!


Saturday, January 24, 2015

Plaid Toggle Coat- Burda 6861

I love, love, love making coats.  There is something about the smell of the wool when you press it, how messy it all looks before it's lined, and then how, magically, it turns into something completely polished once the lining is turned right side out, that just makes me so happy.

I wanted to make my daughter, Serena, a long winter coat to cover her legs as much as possible while she waits for the train for her commute to work everyday.  She lives in Chicago, and the winter winds can be downright brutal there.   She picked out the fabric from my stash- a houndstooth plaid wool blend that I got for $4.99/yd from FabricMart years ago.

I only had 3 yards of this fabric, and searched for a pattern that would allow me to both match the plaid, and make a full length coat out of that amount of fabric.  That meant that it had to be cut pretty straight, with a very small overlap at the center front.  This eliminated a lot of patterns- anything double breasted with a even moderately flared skirt would not fit on this amount of fabric.  I found Burda 6861 which fit the bill.
I used the body length of View B with the sleeve and collar from view A.  The pattern shows it with zippers, buttons or snaps, so my version looks a little different because of the toggles, but it is the same pattern.

I was really impressed with the details of this pattern.   It had two piece sleeves, which give it a better fit.

The undercollar piece is cut smaller than the upper collar, enabling it to lay nicely, and the lining pieces are given separately. 

The only problem that I had with the pattern was that the sleeve cap was much too full for the armhole.   When I first put it in, it looked like a puff sleeve.  This was so weird, considering that everything else was so perfectly done with the pattern.  So, I reduced the sleeve cap height by about an inch, and then reduced the shoulder width another inch.  With both of these changes, I was able to ease in the sleeves without any obvious gathers.

I wanted to make it extra warm, so I underlined it with a flannel that was from my late Mom's stash.

To underline it, I cut all of the body pieces from the flannel, and then used a spray adhesive on the wrong side of the flannel pieces, and just finger pressed them to the wrong side of the wool pieces. So much easier than stitching all around each piece!  The adhesive I used was Mettler Web Bond TA 101.  I've been finding lots of uses for this stuff lately! I found it at our local Hancock fabrics store.

For the lining, I chose a polyester satin with a red floral print.  It picked up the colors of the wool perfectly.

She wanted toggle closures, which turned out to be the most expensive part of the coat.  I ordered them from Pacific Trimming in NYC.  They were $4 each, plus $9 shipping, for a total of $25.  That equaled the cost of the wool, lining and pattern!  But, I think that she was right.  The toggles really finish it off nicely.

I used a leather needle to sew them on, and even then, used the hand wheel to go around them because I was going through so many layers of thick wool, interfacing and leather.

The scarf is a 1/2 yard of microfleece in cranberry red made into an infinity scarf loop.  I love how it frames her face.

I hadn't sewn anything plaid in a while, and was pretty nervous about matching plaids with a princess seamed design.  But, amazingly, it all came together perfectly in the end. Woohoo!

Even with all of the wool, underlining, and lining, it's pretty lightweight, which is good. Nobody wants to lug around 10 pounds of coat!  Whether it's warm enough for a Chicago winter or not remains to be seen.   She's pretty happy with it, which makes me happy!

If you've never made a coat before, give it a try!  It's not nearly as hard as it looks, and you will love it!


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Idyllwild T-shirt and Dress pattern

Last month, I participated as a pattern tester for Itch to Stitch Designs newest pattern- the Idyllwild Top and Dress.  This is a fitted T-shirt and dress PDF pattern with multiple sleeve, neckline and length options.   Today is the first day that you can buy the pattern, and get this- the price is $1.   Wow! Here's one of my dresses from the testing stage:

I had made Itch to Stitch Designs Marbella dress in November and was pleased as punch at how well it fit me with no alterations.   So, I was excited when Kennis Wong, the designer, said that she wanted to do a basic knit pattern.  I've searched for such a pattern to teach my beginning sewing students, but I had never found one that didn't take a ton of alterations to fit most people nicely.  So, I was happy to help out with the testing of one that would fit that niche.

I generally shy away from PDF patterns, but Kennis' patterns have a nice feature that makes using them a little easier.  You can select just the size or sizes that you want to print from a layering feature. On multi-sized patterns, being able to eliminate lines that are unnecessary makes it much easier to work with.  You can also get a version for your copy shop to print to avoid the taping all together!

I also like that you choose your size based on your full bust measurement.  That just makes so much sense doesn't it?  I'm pretty sure that I've scared away a few beginning seamstresses by trying to explain the whole high bust/full bust adjustment thing.  And if you are full busted, and skeptical that this will work for you, I am a DD cup size, chose the size on my full bust measurement, and the fit was spot on.    I don't wear too many t-shirts, but I do wear lots of dresses, and this will be a great pattern to showcase fun knit prints, like this print in the dress below.

Kennis is donating all of the proceeds from pattern sales of this design to Salvando Corazones, who provides education, rehabilitative services, and unconditional love and support to child survivors of commercial exploitation.  So, check out the Itch to Stitch website for tons more information.  I think that you will love this pattern.  Try it out, and spread the word if you like it!

Happy Sewing!


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