Refashion with McCalls 7131

It’s hot and I need fashion relief.

I bought this long rayon skirt at the thrift store.  I love the print, and it was even pretty worn as is (or as was).

Long Skirt Before Pic

The skirt had 3 panels on each side, and a wide, shirred elastic waist.

Long Skirt showing seaming

inside out with seams showing

I wanted to make a fun, weekend look, but instead of hemming the skirt to knee length I decided to try something different.

Enter McCalls 7131.  Yes, I have finally become a culottes convert.  A cool and loose item of clothing halfway between shorts and a skirt (with pockets) suddenly seemed just what I needed this summer.

McCalls7131

By putting the pattern at the bottom of the skirt, and making the short version, I had just enough fabric to cut out my pieces.  I used the top third of the skirt to make the pockets.

Culottes pattern with pleating lines marked

dotted lines showing pleat markings

This pattern isn’t based on a circle skirt like some culottes patterns.  Instead it has box pleats in the front, and an elastic waist only in the back.  The center inverted box pleat is stitched down partway, and forms the “camouflage” pleat hiding the center front seam so that the culottes look more like a skirt.

Center Inverted Pleat I bypassed the waistband instructions as I had unpicked the original elastic waist to sew back onto my culottes.  I wanted the back to look like a skirt, too, so I also added pleats to the back, including the center “camouflage” pleat.  I think it’s odd that the pattern only had that center box pleat in the front.  I didn’t make a mock-up of this pattern or compare the crotch curve to a previous pattern, but luckily it worked out well.  I assumed that culottes would have a lowered crotch to look more like a skirt, and would be easy to fit.

Waistband of Culottes

I made a size 14, and the waist would have been way too big if the front wasn’t also elasticized.  I had to stretch the original waistband mightily to make it fit!

These are being worn! Not just on weekends, but to the office, too.

Culottes Refashion

Culottes Back

These culottes catch every breeze, and I don’t have to worry about wearing a slip or chafing.

Every make I’ve seen of culottes on sewing blogs has a reveal shot showing that it’s not a skirt.

Should I do it?

I couldn’t resist.

Culottes Reveal Shot

 

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Plain Grey Tee

What to do when I want to make some tees and don’t have any knit fabric in my stash?  Find a tee shirt in a thrift store, the bigger the better, and use the fabric.  A men’s 3X size certainly fit the bill.  It was massive!

I partly used the pattern and instructions for the  Kirsten Kimono tee, (free when you subscribe to the newsletter), but I also used an existing tee to get the right fit and I cut the same neckline as that tee.  I was going to make the size M but it turns out I’m more of a size L.  I added a 1/2 inch inch seam allowance to the pattern.

cutting out from 3X tee

I used the original bottom hem of the tee, and double needle hemmed the kimono sleeves.  I unpicked the ribbed neck from the original tee, shortened it, and sewed it to my new tee.

Grey tee on hanger

This might become my new favorite tee.

Close up of Grey Tee

I didn’t have any twill tape or knit tape to reinforce the neckline or shoulders, so I might have a problem with these areas getting stretched out of shape.

Grey Tee with shorts

 

I also experimented with a thrifted big white tee.  I made the fit relaxed but not oversized.  Again, I unpicked the original ribbed neck, resized it, and stitched it to my new neckline.  The join is a bit awkward at the back of the neck.  Maybe I should try to reposition it next time.

white tee on hanger

This time I also unpicked and reused the long reinforcing strip made from the same knit fabric as the shirt by sewing it to the neck and shoulders.

reinforced neck and shoulder

I tried out a different technique and made a wavy lettuce hem.  I sewed a very close, wide zigzag on a double thickness of fabric while stretching the fabric, and then trimmed close to the stitching on the inside.  I used this tutorial on lettuce hems published on Craftsy.

wavy lettuce hem

White Lettuce Tee

If you’d like more information and ideas on sewing knits take a look at my “learn to sew knits” board on Pinterest.

More experimenting with thrifted tees to follow!

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Crazy Quilt Coverlet

It’s not a quilt, and it’s not exactly crazy, but I did find a use for this beautiful fabric, thrifted for $1, from my stash.  The fabric is textured with surface stitching like a quilt, but is not pieced.

Crazy Quilt Fabric (800x600)

I paired it with every last bit of a pale green fabric I had, and a cotton eyelet trim that had been given to me.  I used french seams throughout so all of the raw edges are enclosed.

Spring Coverlet on Line

Folded Coverlet

Coverlet on bed

coverlet on bed2

It’s so feminine and fresh for spring and summer.  I love it!

I also finished the flower basket embroidery on my muslin cloth.  This was also an item from the thrift store.  Instead of matching colors from my existing floss, I bought DMC #8 perle cotton after I looked closely and realized it was used in the one stitched corner. Perle cotton is a lustrous, twisted non-divisible thread. It was worth the extra expense because it’s so beautiful, and a joy to work with.

DMC perle cotton #8

I put tissue paper over the fabric, snapped on the top hoop, and then tore back the tissue paper to protect the fabric from the hoop.

tissue paper with hoop

I used a running stitch, satin stitch, and many lazy daisy stitches. So many petals and yet the flowers didn’t come alive until the french knots were added.

flowers with french knots

french knot detail

Unlike the rest of the stitches, I need to sit at a table to form the french knots.  I made 3 twists around the needle.  I brushed up on tips on this stitch because they can be tricky.  In the past, I’ve had french knots go through the fabric or be loose and sloppy.  These look good!

working on french knots

I embroidered the three unstitched corners.  My work is on the left and the original completed flower basket is on the right.  I did a good job matching threads, although the brown and light lavender are a shade different.

2 stitchers comparison

I’ll put it away for now, with plans to add to it later.  I want to get back to my summer clothes sewing.

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Blue Gingham Part II – Shorts from McCalls 6901

To me, summertime means wearing shorts.  For my first time making a pair, I used McCalls 6901, a Palmer/Pletsch pattern, and some of the blue gingham fabric left over from my pants.

Short Legs

This pattern has two sewing techniques that were new to me: inset pockets and a type of front zipper insertion called a mock fly zipper.

McCalls 6901

This pattern has a lot more information than an average pattern.  The instructions include a helpful pants fitting guide and the pattern has lines for adjustment of crotch length.  They’re the vertical lines in the pants back pattern piece below that can be folded to take out bagginess.  It also has a horizontal lengthen or shorten line to adjust the rise of the pants, or crotch depth. I compared this pattern piece with the one I used to make the Simplicity 1967 pants  and the rise was much longer.  I used the same measurements from the revised pants pattern to make these shorts.

Fitting Pointers McCalls Pattern

Crotch length vertical lines

One thing to keep in mind when making this pattern is that a 1 inch seam allowance has been added instead of the standard 5/8 inch.  The Palmer and Pletsch method advocates tissue fitting, but I opted to sew a mock-up using a sheet not only for fit, but to practice that mysterious mock fly.

I found the pattern instructions for the zipper confusing; I wasn’t sure which side was left front and which side was right front.  It was hard to find directions for a mock fly.  This 18 step photo and words tutorial on Flickr provided the help I needed.  I interfaced the area as shown in the tutorial.  The pattern instructions didn’t include this step.

My first attempt was hideous!

Mock fly mock up

Since I’ve never sewn a true fly, I’m not sure what the difference is from the mock fly.  One thing I noticed from looking at the pants I was wearing was that there is an additional piece of fabric that covers the back side of the zipper on a true fly.  The back of the zipper is fully exposed on a mock fly as in the photo below.

mock fly zipper - wrong side

The slash pockets are cut from the front and there is a separate side front piece.  ” How to sew pocket inserts” is a good tutorial to add this type of pocket to any pattern.

My second fly is better but I think I had too deep of a fold.  There’s some extra fabric below the stitching of the fly.

Shorts Front

Changes I made to the pattern:

added a button to the waistband (instead of a hook and eye), added elastic to the back waistband, eliminated the darts, and added patch pockets to the back.

Short Waistband

Pack Patch Pockets

One thing I love about making shorts is that they don’t use much fabric.  I also love wearing them.

Blue Gingham Shorts2

Gingham Shorts

Ah, summer!  Time to make lemonade, and shorts.

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Learning to Sew Knits: Tailoring a Tee

Yellow Flag Tee Shirt

Although I wear knits, I haven’t sewn with them.  One problem is that I haven’t had a clear idea of which stitch to use to sew seams.  I also had some bad experiences when the machine ate my fabric, when I attempted to shorten and re-hem some tees.

Double Hem Knit Tee Fail

I was completely puzzled why this happened; I was using a twin needle which is commonly used to hem knits.  I knew that ballpoint needles are used for sewing knits, but I didn’t realize I needed not just a twin needle but a stretch twin needle.  This is the second one I bought.  I broke the first one when I forgot to change my stitch back to straight after sewing zigzag.

Stretch Twin Needle

I like the 4.0 mm distance between the two needles, which looks the same as ready to wear, instead of the closer together 2.5 mm twin needles.   OK, that part is worked out.

For seaming, I have read to use a narrow zigzag which is too vague for me.  I followed the advice of the tutorial “knits without a serger”  and used a stitch length of 1.5 and a width of 5.  This is a dense zigzag.

I eased into sewing with knits by altering a flag tee shirt I bought at a thrift store awhile back to be ready in time for Memorial Day weekend.  First I resewed the side seams, then I cut and re-hemmed the sleeves and the bottom of the tee.

Can you tell which is the original hem stitching and which one I sewed?

Hem Comparison

Look at the close-up.  Can you tell now?  It’s a close match and I’m happy with my results.  I know you sewists are looking for telltale signs such as tunneling and skipped stitches.

Hem Comparison Close-up

No rips this time!

And for those of us in the USA who are fans of The Great British Sewing Bee, the fourth season is being put up on You Tube.  Episode 1 had the contestants sewing chevrons.  Watch it while you can, because the episodes tend to disappear after awhile.

All About the Flounce – Simplicity 2554

Flounce of Simplicity 2554 tease

After being inspired by the lush florals of spring, I paired a two yard cut of a  nicely draping floral cotton lawn fabric with a pattern I won, Simplicity 2554. I didn’t realize until I looked it up that it’s been two years already!  I set out to make view F, the pink top with the flounce, except that I was substituting the flounce from view E (the one on the top left of the pattern envelope) which  is shorter in the front.

Cotton Lawn Floral and Simplicity 2554

First I did a mock-up to see how the pattern fit.  I made a size 14 which fit well except for being tight and pulling across the bust.  The old fabric I used for the mock-up was only 36 inches, so I didn’t have enough fabric to try out the flounce.   This was just as well because the fabric is stiffer than the lawn so would lack the drape for the flounce.

The arm and neck facings are cut on the bias, but are a little different than bias strips.  The armhole facing is folded in half, and turned to the inside.  The neck strip has one edge folded in, then it’s turned to the inside and stitched on the outside catching the other side at the same time.  Unlike other bias strips I’ve put on, the pattern states to cut these to a particular size, seam, and fit to the openings.  I struggled to get them to match, first making the neckline too loose, and then so tight that it pulled the armholes in.  I decided to scrap that method for the second version to save myself the aggravation.

For the blue floral lawn version I added 1/2 inch to each front side piece just in the bust area between the two notches, and a little more length.

There are 3 panels on both back and front with the seam lines forming a slight A shape, and gathering of the front center panel.  This is a type of princess seam, but doesn’t go directly over the bust. The flounce doesn’t go all the way around; it’s sewn into the princess seams.

Simplicity 2554 View E flounce

How is this going to turn out?  The flounce pieces are like having a  little circle skirt on each shoulder!  To magnify the romantic look even more, I added a narrow lace to accentuate the flounce.  I had the lace, and it seemed a perfect use for it.  I hand sewed the lace, covering the hem stitching.

I sewed the front two seams with a narrow seam allowance and the back center seams with a wide 5/8 inch allowance as I have a small back.

I basted the seams and then waited a few days to consider if I wanted to try to take out some of the flounciness of the flounce.  I was afraid it might be clown-like or just “too much”.  However, I decided that with the floral, the flounce, and the lace this was a dramatic,  romantic look, and to not water it down, and to just go all in.

Simplicity 2554 Lace edged flounce

Simplicity 2554 modified view F

Back to my mock-up: I almost called this post “a tale of two florals”.  Pictured below is the old fabric from TG&Y that my mother bought either in the 1960’s or early 1970’s.

TG&Y tulip fabric 36 in wide

Yes, I made a first blouse, and this version is growing on me.  I’ll wear it with shorts this summer.

Simplicity 2554 view F mock-up

 

Two floral blouses: one from very old, inherited fabric in a warm color, the other in a cool color from one of the newest fabrics in my stash. One basic, one embellished. Both adding some prettiness to my spring and summer wardrobe.

A Walk in Springtime

Springtime is my favorite time of year to take my daily walks in the neighborhood.  I always have my phone in my pocket and often take photos.  Come along with me.

The florals are in bloom.   The hardy bougainvillea and California poppies grace many yards.

The jacaranda trees are especially beautiful while in bloom in May.

jacaranda sun (800x544)

jacaranda 16(800x480)

While one jacaranda in bloom is beautiful, a row of them lining a street is spectacular.  They leave a colorful carpet on the sidewalk and street.  Some say these trees are too messy, but I think they’re glorious.  In all fairness I must admit I don’t have one to clean up after.

jacaranda carpet (800x480)

With all this springtime floral inspiration, I have also turned to my stash to do some sewing with florals.

We’ve all seen lost cat signs, but I was very surprised when I saw a lost drone sign for the first time.  I hope the “skiddish” cat was found.

Some signs I don’t enjoy seeing are election signs.  California has its primary in June, and suddenly signs for mayor and city counsel appeared. There are no competing signs in my neighborhood; they are all for the same two candidates.

My dog has his own encounters when we walk.  I noticed soon after I got him that he is a “cat magnet”.  Cats will walk right up to him and go nose to nose.  The first time I was worried but now I’m used to it.  I wonder how the cats know which dog to approach.

Sparky BlkCat(800x480)

These incredibly tall palm trees were probably planted around the time the neighborhood began in the 1950’s, and I was used to seeing them on the corner. I’m glad I captured this picture, because they disappeared shortly after.  The sky and I miss them.

3palms(800x478)

I love the long days. When the day starts to wind down, it’s time to look at the colors in the sky.

sunset(800x480)

 

sunsetscene2 (800x480)

What do you see when you walk in your part of the world?