Tag Archives: finished projects

Class Samples: Ogden Cami

Verdict: Surprisingly delightful

So the Ogden Cami, by True Bias, has to be about as well known as the Grainline Archer, as an indie pattern archetype. It’s simple, elegant, and seems to always look amazing. On the other hand, it’s SO simple, I always figured I had something (probably several somethings) with very similar lines. And I probably do, but I highly doubt they have the subtle bust shaping in the side seams it turns out this pattern has. And the gentle V neckline really is basically perfect.

Apparently I should’ve pressed a little better, but it’s rayon. It’s going to wrinkle.

Can you see my French seam at the side? No? Oh well. They turned out very nice indeed. In fact, the only thing I used the serger for on this make was the bottom of the half-lining.

I made a straight size 8, which accommodates both my current bust and my current belly surprisingly well. I didn’t even have to shorten the shoulder straps.

I did experiment with cutting out the pattern with my rotary cutter, basically my first attempt at such a feat. I am not particularly adept at it, so I don’t think I was really any better off than cutting with scissors, but it’s definitely something I’m willing to play around more with, at least for things that are small enough to fit on my cutting mat. I used a ruler to help me cut out the rectangles for the shoulder straps, and that was definitely a win.

You can barely even see my sixteen-week-pregnant belly!

I can actually see making this again, and even again and again. It’s small and simple enough to make as a gift, and it’s a great way to use a tiny amount of an exquisite fabric. Also simple enough that the annoyance of working with a slippery or shifty fabric doesn’t become totally overwhelming. And while I know some people find the half-lining odd, I like it as a compromise between a full lining, which could be hot and bulky in a summery top, and no lining, which can have show-through issues in some light-weight fabrics.

Because it’s virtually impossible to tell the front from the back of this pattern (either in construction or once it’s finished), I hunted along the printed selvedge of this Art Gallery Fabrics rayon for a good chunk, and cut out the bit that said “Legendary” to make a tag. My pinking shears are terrible and kind of made a mess of the edges, but I’m sure after a wash it’ll all be much the same anyway.

Anyway, I’m definitely charmed by this pattern, and excited to be teaching a class on it this summer. It’s simple enough for a beginner, but also a great opportunity to level up your skills working with fine finishes or a trickier fabric. I’m very tempted to go digging through my seldom-touched “fine fabrics” for the next version….

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Does this dress make me look pregnant?

I gotta tell ya, there’s a level at which I REALLY enjoy the few moments of life when that isn’t a relevant question. Because quite a few of my favourite styles of clothing, um, make me look pregnant. Even when I’m not. I love empire-waisted dresses, including ones with gathered skirts. So, while pregnant seemed like the perfect chance to indulge that love.

This pattern was a recent donation(among many, many others) from a friend of my mother’s. Thank you, Bernie! We all know I’m a sucker for 70s dresses, and I have a bad case of sundress-on-the-brain, so this was an easy thing to gravitate towards. I have had NO energy for the last several months, but finally just in the last week or so I’ve had a tiny bit of extra jam in the evenings, enough to very, very slowly piece this dress together over the course of the last couple of weeks.

The pattern is in a size 12, which WAS my size, but is now a good three or four inches small. At its core it’s a simple princess seam empire bodice with a lightly gathered tiered skirt; there are some cute ties across the bust, though I almost skipped them. I made quite a few mods on this first version to be more maternity friendly—I prepped a shirred panel to cut the back piece from, and after some measuring made a small FBA on the front.

For this particular dress I just used a simple gathered rectangle for the skirt, to take advantage of the border embroidery of my fabric. And it’s probably more full than it needs to be, or would need to be if it weren’t going to be going over twins.

I feel like this is about how big I’ll be by August.

The front hem will certainly go on lifting as the belly expands, but I’m cool with that. It’s a bit long as it is.

I thought that the front tie provided an opportunity to try out some kind of a nursing access point for the sundress. I never had any nursing-specific clothing with my first two pregnancies, and I did plenty of nursing, so I’m a bit sceptical about the value of such mods, but I thought I’d give it a try, at least.

I basically just sewed the CF panel separately from the side front panels + ties, and then lapped the pieces and tacked them at top and bottom. If the ties are tied everything stays securely in place, and if you untie, you can fold it back and access the slit. In theory the other side will stay closed, though if it becomes an issue I can see adding some kind of a belt-loop in the middle to keep the non-nursing side in place. As I said, we’ll see. That particular feature isn’t likely to be tested until next summer, anyway.

So between the FBA and the little bit I added at the side seam and then the stretchy back, I actually had to take in the side seams, an inch at the under-arm tapering to more like 1 cm at the bottom of the bodice (tricky to do because I made the whole thing very clean-finished inside, pretty to look at but not exactly easy to alter, especially when one of your layers is on the bias. It’s not super pretty up close. I’m very curious to make this without the stretchy back at some point just to see how it would compare. The (2 cm) FBA gave a LOT of projection in the boob area, rather more than I currently need, but it’s somewhat adjustable by tightening the ties, so it seems to work. I’m not sure if I’d do it again, though. And my boobs are likely to get bigger before they get smaller again.

I used my favourite gathering-with-dental-floss method, using a cording foot from a set I bought last summer to keep the dental floss snug in the middle while I zig-zagged over it. This definitely makes it a more foolproof method. I finished the bottom of the bodice and the top of the skirt separately so I can take the skirt off and re-adjust if I want fewer gathers later, though attaching the gathered skirt to the shirred back was kinda hell so I’m not sure I’ll wanna try that again.

All in all I think it’s a pretty cute experiment. I feel like the proportions might be better if the bodice was slightly longer, but on the other hand since my belly starts right below my boobs, I don’t think that would really work very well right now. So it is what it is; i may try styling with an elastic belt below the bust to see how that looks. But for maternity wear, I think I’m pretty happy with it.

Now if only it would get warm enough to wear it!

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Class samples: Jalie Tee

I wanted to teach a basic tee shirt class this summer, and Jalie seemed the obvious choice. Their basic fitted tee pattern, 2805, has a few different cute necklines (even if none is the scoop neck I prefer), and I felt pretty confident that the sizing and drafting would be good. I’m not sure if this sweet floral is really “me,” but it makes for a beautiful sample.

Everything is taking me a really long time to make right now, but this was still a pretty simple, quick sew, aside from how spread out over days the process was. I often just wing my neckband pieces, but I used the Jalie pattern piece here and of course it’s perfect. Neckbands on V-necks need to be a bit more precise, IMO, so a good pattern piece is worth it here.

Speaking of V necks, I’m pretty happy with how it turned out.

The one thing I would change on the pattern is that the sleeve pattern piece is cut on the fold. I prefer a full sleeve piece, even if it’s symmetrical, so I can cut out the pair all at once (I feel the same way about collar and yoke pieces for shirts). But it’s easy to make that change at the tracing stage.

I did not raise the underarm on this version, as I often don’t need to in Jalie patterns, but I think I would lift it just slightly in the future. There’s a balance in underarm fitting between mobility and wrinkles, but I tend to lean to the mobility side, wrinkles be damned.

I did the twin needling on the Rocketeer, where I had to relearn the “always test!” lesson again… for only the millionth time. Ah well. After some unpicking and careful testing of stitch length (longer), presser foot pressure (light but not too light or the fabric doesn’t advance well), and tension, I finally got good results. And yes, I used Steam-a-Seam in the hems.

Now does the shirt fit me? Well, I made my current size, which is U grading to V at the waist and hips. And it’s good, or would be good if the bump weren’t bursting forth at a rate that makes me think of those supernatural movie pregnancies where the woman gives birth within the space of days.

But I can definitely do a maternity bump hack on the next one.

Happy sewing!

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Class Samples: Dress Shirt

A very eager student asked about a class using this pattern. Curious, I was happy enough to oblige.

The Dress Shirt is a simple, pared-down take on a shirtdress, and I actually really enjoyed the sewing process, particularly the front bib and how the neckline was finished. Things went a bit awry at the sleeves—my first inclination was to set them in flat, shirt-style, but there’s way too much ease in the sleeve cap for this method—lots of gathers that are difficult to control. So I did the second sleeve in the round, but still didn’t do a great job on the easing. Next time I would pare down the sleeve cap a wee bit.

On the other hand, the pockets I added worked out fine.

The back view is surprisingly attractive in this picture, at least (these are terrible photos but I had about three minutes to take them in, so it is what it is.)

However, my biggest issue, far and away, is the fit in the shoulders. I did the same size (10) as for the Trapeze Dress last fall, which is technically a size down from my current measurements but a) there’s plenty of ease and b) I don’t think my shoulders have actually changed very much. Plus looking at the model, the pattern seemed to have slightly dropped shoulders, not really what I wanted. But, as it turns out, the shoulder fit has the same restricted movement and tightness across the back as I had in the Trapeze—plus a WAY low armscye.

I did only two of my usual adjustments–when sewing up these class samples I try to stay fairly close to the pattern. I squared the shoulders slightly, and I raised the underarm about 1cm. I did the same on the Trapeze Dress, and I don’t think the underarm height there was a problem. But obviously a bit of a broad-back adjustment is probably in order.

Dress lifts up at least 2-3” when I raise my arms. However, I do like the shorter hen length.

But on this dress, the armscye appears to be dropped by over an inch. I could easily lift it up an inch to an inch and a half before I’m happy with where it falls. For that matter, if I can get the sleeves sewn in a way that’s comfy for me, I’ll probably take 2-3″ off the hem, too. But that’s more personal preference.

There’s not much more to say as it’s a simple make. I really did enjoy the physical sewing of it. I don’t know if it’s the most flattering thing I’ve ever made (better photos might change my mind there), but it was a fun process!

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Class Samples: Alder shirtdress

It’s a bit sweet. And a bit snug right through the bust—I really need to come to terms with my new measurements. But I knew from scouring Instagram that I preferred the “fitted” versions of this dress, so I was at least somewhat intentional in sizing down.

I considered adding back-ties, but with the down-sizing I didn’t really need them.

Anyway. I love the short, sassy skirt. I love the fabric, which is a yummy double gauze. It might, however, be just a little too twee. I’m thinking I would like it paired with black leggings and tall boots. We’ll see.

I went with a mandarin version of the collar. Partly I like them better, partly I’m hoping if I lead some students in that direction it will save some class time. This is only scheduled as a 6 hour class and I’m a little scared. Once it’s don’t being a class sample, I might even cut the neck down to a bound scoop. I’ve seen some hacks like that that I really like. I’m just not really a shirt-collar person, I guess.

The front patch pockets are teeny weeny. I was a good sample maker and resisted the urge to skip them, but I did add some side-seam pockets, suspended from the gathered skirt seam at the top. This holds them in place a little more nicely than just side pockets.

The construction went pretty smoothly, without any major and unfixable snafus. Unlike my last class sample. Still kind of reeling in horror from that one, honestly. For the arm facing, I used a bias tape I had made previously, and while I cut my pieces the same length as the pattern indicated, I think because I had already stretched the tape out going through the bias tape maker, they didn’t have as much give as if they’d been freshly cut that length. So it took some finessing to get them in properly, and it’s still not my best job ever. A half inch longer would’ve been perfect.

What I completely failed to take was progress and detail shots, except for the one lone pic of the pockets underway. It’s too bad, because I like how the side pockets went together, and I actually managed some very nice inset corners, if I do say so myself. And the hem turned out really nice, too, if I do say so myself. I guess you’ll have to take my word for it…

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Planned obsolescence

I have a complicated relationship with distressed denim. Like most teens in the 90s, one of my main goals in life was to shred my jeans—or at least bust through the knees. However, the romance of the tattered denim faded pretty abruptly when I had to start buying my own jeans—I wanted those to last as long as possible! So I avoided the pre-tattered distressed looks as much as I could. I’ll put my own holes in them, thanks.

I don’t generally try to distress my homemade jeans for the same reason, and I’ve complained loud and long about being unable to find hole-free jeans for my children. But the one thing I do miss about storebought jeans is the complicated wash and fading, even though I also think it’s environmentally questionable.

I went with unfinished, frayed hems.

So I was both fascinated and repulsed by this pre-shredded denim fabric when it came into my Fabricland three or four years ago, part of one of the random groups of jobber fabric they would get in. I couldn’t decide if I loved or hated it… anyway, in the end I settled on the side of love. But it’s still ridiculous. Someone went to the trouble of weaving this perfectly good denim, and then scraped, bleached, and shredded holes in little lines all the way along, until the sturdy, serviceable cloth is almost a kind of lace.

Everyone else seemed to think the fabric was a bit too weird. It sat, and sat, and sat. And then one day I got to work and the entire group had been shunted into the bargain centre. So I bought the whole bolt, and the idea of making the weird, impractical stuff into an equally dramatic McCall’s M6800, began to tickle the back of my brain shortly thereafter.

Fast forward to about a month ago, just after making the Kilt Jacket, when I had a weird little lull before I could start working on class samples. And for some reason the tickle to make something completely irrelevant, impractical, and unnecessary overwhelmed me. I guess I was a little late to #sewfrosting?

Anyway, having made this jacket twice before, the fitting was largely sorted out. Which left the matter of which options I was going to use, as this pattern has many. I decided to try mashing the wide-lapel view with the hood. I love it when a hood runs right into a fold-back lapel. I wasn’t actually sure this was the right way to achieve the look, but it seems to work. I added about two inches to the front of the already-voluminous hood to extend it onto the lapels, reshaped the lapel neckline into a smooth curve rather than the angle for the notch collar, and I did wind up trimming about 1/2″ off each lapel to get them to line up with the hood.

For construction, I used the same method as my first version, a combination of bound seams and topstitching. With all the little frayed holes, this fabric is fairly delicate, and I wanted lots of reinforcement on the seams. I used some grey-blue gauzy cotton, left over from this dress. Maybe not the sturdiest choice I could’ve made, but I think it worked out. I skipped the facings, too, opting for a binding folded to the inside for this part too.

However, Hong Kong binding plus double topstitching does not make for a quick project. I also didn’t go full bore, and had to occasionally interrupt… anyway. It developed slowly.

But, it’s finally finished. Or, maybe finished isn’t quite the right word. In temporary equilibrium? Because this piece calls out for distressing. I’m almost tempted to go at it theatre-style, get some patina going. Failing that, the shredded fabric is more-or-less guaranteed to begin failing sooner rather than later.

I’m already planning visible mending, layering, patching. I don’t really think this jacket is done.

I think maybe it’s ready to start becoming. Obsolescence is a part of the plan.

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The jacket that nearly killed me

Or should I say kilt me? (Feel free to groan away)

If you read any of my posts from January, you probably noticed me whining about this jacket in the background. Well, it’s done! And you can read the full whinge over on The Sewcialists website, as part of their February “Sew Menswear for Everyone” theme month!

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