Tag Archives: Nettie

The fire is so delightful

So WAAAY back in January, I wanted to do a long cozy sweater for a work project for Valentine’s Day. McCall’s M7476, in specific. 

“Sounds great!” said my boss. “Are you going to make it red or pink?”


“Put a heart on it?” 

Er, no…

Grum. So I floundered for a couple of days. You could wear the sweater over your sexy lingerie. I didn’t really feel like doing full-on lingerie. Over a crop top and leggings out of something red? Doable but a little boring. 

How about over a slinky velvet dress for an at-home date night involving champagne, a roaring fire, and possibly a bearskin rug? Ooo yes! (Hey, if I’m imagining the champagne and fireplace, why not the bearskin too?)

This was SUPPOSED to be a super quick and simple project I could throw together in a day or two around all the other commitments I have going on right now. Cry. It wound up being less simple. 

First, I spread out my chosen fabric and realized that the subtle marled cotton sweaterknit I’d fallen for was in fact a subtle stripe. (Also, that gorgeously matched pocket up above? That’s the one I sewed on upside down. )

The I spent a lot of time stabilizing things I probably didn’t need to (like the dropped shoulders) and the upper collar, and not stabilizing things I should’ve, like the undercollar. Not quite sure what I was thinking. 

The Nettie dress underneath was supposed to be simple and quick as well, just blinged up with the shiny chain, but then I had the idea to make a deep scoop in back. 

And then that was sort of loose and flaccid, so I wound up adding little jump rings to hold the lacing. Which works and looks cool but kinda distracts from what I was going for. 

Anyway, there’s not a lot more to say. Both of these were simple projects (relatively) with minimal fitting. All I did to the sweater was add sleeve length; for the Nettie I find I have to take about 1/4″ off the height of the shoulders. If I did the sweater again I would blend out a size larger in the hips, but it actually looks better in the photos than I had thought. 



Filed under Sewing



Inspiration in the middle.

Long ago I bought  (as I often did in those days*) a 70s pattern, Simplicity 8272. It was a pattern for a bunnyhug** with skirt and pants option, and the cover featured a gorgeous, muted blue velour version, styled with boots—effortless and chic and totally comfy. Yes, I did just use “chic” and “velour” in the same sentence… that probably means that there is something wrong with me.

Anyway, when this extra-stretchy luxe velour showed up at my Fabricland this past fall, I commenced petting it immediately. It has a thick, dense pile, lots of stretch, and gorgeous weight, and is super-duper soft. And came in the perfect shade of muted blue. It would be perfect for Simplicity 8272.
1) It’s freakin’ expensive,
2) it’s super stretchy, and the 70s pattern is designed for “wovens and stable knits.” No lycra required.
Both problems seemed to be solved by deciding to make it a store project using contemporary patterns to get something with the same feel.
For the skirt, I picked Burda 7143, figuring I would use one of the McCall’s in-print patterns that I had (McCall’s XXXX and XXXX were the main contenders, though neither was quite right.)
DSC08413OK, so I’m gonna say right off, this is a weird pattern. It’s simple, or at least it should be. It’s designed for wovens with a stretchy knit waistband—using the stretchy velour for the skirt part didn’t seem to be a problem. It’s not a full circle skirt, though it’s close. Here’s where the weirdness kicks in: the pattern piece is meant to be cut on the fold (or rather, mirrored) twice—but the fold/mirror line is not the grain line (nor is it a simple 45 degrees to it or anything else that would make sense).
2015-11-29 08.48.09

Weird layout.

This broke my sewing brain into eighty million little pieces, and I spent way more time staring at the pattern layout (which in Burda envelope patterns is printed right on a corner of the tissue) than I should have to for a pattern clearly labeled “easy.” My GUESS is that this has something to do with a) the size of the pattern piece, and b) how they want the print to fall if you’re using something like a plaid, as in the envelope  picture.

I ignored it and cut four pieces, on grain, not on fold. I think I ran the nap of the velour up, for that “extra rich” look.
Once I had decided what I was doing, it was ridiculously quick to whip up. The “waistband” piece, as drafted, is REALLY tall—I shortened it a bit since my fabric was super thick and I didn’t want to fold it over. I also added elastic to the inside of the sides to keep it nicely scrunched up. I like a bunchy, scrunchy waistband on a knit skirt, to sit right in the hollow at my hips.
But, having completed the skirt and being quite, quite happy with it, I realized that the bunnyhug** I had been envisioning wasn’t quite right. It would end right where the skirt waistband bunched, and I just wasn’t digging it. Although I think a matching, very cropped version would be adorbs at some point.
Anyway, I jumped ship and made a Nettie for the top.
DSC08412OK, so despite several attempts and quite a few successful crop-top versions, I haven’t actually had a Nettie that I was willing to wear out of the house yet. Mainly due to fabric that was either not stretchy enough or not thick enough—finding the two in combination seems to be tricky. And this fabric is both in spades—win! I also made sure to take the time to do the snap crotch; I always want to skip that step and just have it done!!!! but really I won’t actually wear the result if it doesn’t have the snaps. Note to self. Anyway, I made the one alteration that I ACTUALLY need with this pattern (shortening the armscye a teeny bit), and the result is basically perfect (although because I insist on both low back and low front it does tend to spread a bit and expose my bra straps. Meh.
I am really, really happy with how this turned out. It’s warm and comfy and PJ-like and still stylish and I actually like wearing the matching pieces together for a “dress” effect.
I definitely need a black Nettie…
*A habit I am trying to curtail lately purely for space reasons, plus I don’t find myself at the thrift store on a weekly basis anymore…


Filed under Sewing

Sew All The Red Things

That way you don’t lose time changing thread.

You may have noticed I’ve been making a lot of things in red. There’s at least one more in the works, too. It’s convenient, I guess.



I’ve been petting this dense, glowing, glorious stretch velvet at my local Fabricland since, oh, last fall sometime. But even marked down to half price, it was still $11.00/m, which while not expensive, is still a little richer than my impulse-buy limit.

But then I saw another lady carrying it around the store, matching it up with drapery trims and talking curtains. There was plenty left on the bolt, but CURTAINS? That can eat a lot of fabric.

She put the bolt down and said she would come back later. I pounced, and made off with about three metres.

At least I had a project in mind already.

Pattern hack.

In regular life, I really don’t have any use for red stretch-velvet (especially in July), but one of my dance teachers had made a request that we attempt to acquire under-bust velvet dresses, for dance performances where tummy-cover is appropriate but you still want to wear a snazzy belly dance bedlah (highly decorated bra & belt) set. Most people are doing this via the thrift store and a bit of hacking, which is almost certainly cheaper, but, well, I was in love with this velvet already. And I like sewing more than I like altering.

I realized going through my pattern-stash this morning that I didn’t have a good, basic knit maxi-dress pattern of the kind that’s basically a tank-top extended into a skirt with a nice sweep. Lots of fancier ones, but not this basic style.  And I have about three other pieces in-stash, beyond this red velvet, that are begging to become maxi-dresses this summer. I promptly ordered Jalie 3246, because impulse, but that wasn’t going to help me this morning.

Bring on, once again, my long-suffering Nettie pattern. Please note (or maybe don’t) that I still haven’t actually made a bodysuit version of this pattern. >_< But it sure is useful as the basis for about a billion other things…

I basically traced off the top of my Nettie, measured the length I wanted the dress to go down from my shoulder, and guesstimated a width that looked good. For this particular dress, I wanted a fairly narrow skirt to the knees, with a bit of a mermaid-flare below that. Rocket science, this was not. I also pulled out my copy of Kwik Sew 1288, which has a super-cute cap-sleeved leotard pattern, and morphed the cap-sleeve on, because while I didn’t want full sleeves on this one, I wanted something to pull the Nettie shoulder-straps out, because the Nettie shoulders are WAY narrower than my shoulders (this is why there is that fold toward the armpit in these makes, by the way. It’s probably something I should actually alter for, but the miracle of spandex makes it not a huge deal.

Over bust.

Over bust.

You may be thinking, now, that I had mentioned “underbust” dress before, and this dress is definitely over-bust. You would be right. I wanted to have a wee bit more versatility in the dress (because, y’know, there might be some possible universe where I would need a slinky red velvet dress for a non-dance-related purpose), so I traced front and back the exact same pattern (not that there is much difference between the upper body of the Nettie, front vs. back, except for the neckline); I made one side the standard Nettie scoop-neck, and lowered the mid-back-scoop-depth a further 4″ cm on the other side. (That is, 4 cm lower than the back in this version, but not as deep as the backless Nettie version.) So, if I want to wear the dress over (or under) a dance bra, I can wear the low scoop in the front, and if I want it for something a little more mundane, I can put the regular scoop in the front.



I’m quite happy with how the cap-sleeves turned out, really—it’s probably my favourite length.

Side view

Side view

I have precious little to say about the construction of this dress, because there is precious little to actually construct. Two pattern pieces; not even bands for neckline or sleeves. I am a little in love with that differential feed thingy on my serger—a bit of twiddling the settings on some scraps and I went from having a bit of a wavy seam to one that was totally, perfectly, professionally smooth. WIN! Why can’t regular machines have that?



I used clear elastic to stabilize the shoulder seams; however, I put a wee bit too much tension on it so there’s a bit of a gathered effect. I kinda liked it, though, so I wasn’t going to be bothered to pick out serging plus elastic. (Also, my camera hates red, these were the best closeup shots I could manage. Terrible. Not that there’s much to see. For the neckline finish I serged clear elastic onto the edge (carefully using less tension this time—with the feed dogs set, no added tension was needed), then folded it under and topstitched with a triple zig-zag on my regular machine. For the armhole, I did the same thing except without the clear elastic, as I didn’t think I’d need the added stability.

Back view

Back view 

For dance purposes I wanted it slim through the hips, but for a real dress more ease around the derriere would definitely be a bonus, so I’ll be tweaking that for the next version.



I am also pleasantly surprised that the length turned out more-or-less bang on. I haven’t hemmed the bottom yet—torn between trying a rolled hem and just leaving it.

Most practical make of the season? Probably not. But it was fun, and fudging up the pattern took more time than the actual sewing did. And now I have the pattern I can use for some more, mmm, every-day versions.



Filed under Sewing

The Crop-Top Conundrum

Value Village Haul

So this morning we went for breakfast with some old friends, and afterwards the female half of said friends (who is also sewy, although she’s been at it hardcore far longer than I) and I abandoned both spouses and all children and made for the wilds of the East Side Value Village. It was a fun trip, and got a trunkful of excess stuff out of my house, and I came home with a small but pleasant haul: a few patterns, some really cute and surprisingly comfy shoes that are totally not my usual colour scheme (my mom will be jealous, though, or rather she won’t because it would take far more than one pair of shoes to compete with her fabulous Collection.) The fabric section was mostly disappointing, but there was one, tantalizingly tiny piece of gorgeous black and white striped spandex—barely half a metre, for a $0.99.

For a dollar, how can you lose?

We bounced around ideas for swimsuits and booty shorts, but, by the time I was home with my prizes, I knew what I was going to do. The scrap of spandex was going to become a Nettie crop-top.

So, can we talk about crop tops? It seems like they’re all over the place* this year. Certainly they were all over the costumes at the kids’  dance competitions. Oona’s been wearing them, so they must be stylish. Usually with a high-waisted skirt this time, which I gotta admit throws me a bit.

Now, crop tops are a style that’s easy to hate, not least because they’re so unforgiving to the vast majority of us (although with the high-waisted bottom they’re arguably more forgiving). And I won’t blame anyone who does—I feel kind of ambivalent about their revival, if in fact they are experiencing a revival.

Bathroom selfie crop top love

Bathroom selfie crop top love

But back in the day, oh, damn, crop tops were ME. From the age of fourteen until I was pregnant with Tyo, I was an early adopter and a long-term fanatic. From May until October, it was highly unlikely on any given day that my tummy would be covered. (Yes, I wore them while pregnant, usually with the giant Mickey-Mouse overalls…) I was so pissed off when, shortly after Tyo was born (and I recovered about 95% of the pre-baby tummy, yes I got off easy), fashion moved on and it was pretty much obligatory for a top to come at least to your waist or a little below. Just a sliver of flesh around the hip, not that wide canvas of tummy I had been so fond of.

Yeah, I know, y’all are full of sympathy, aren’t you?

Front view

Front view, with mudgie.**

Which brings us to the next conundrum, the part about if you wore it the first time around, you’re too old the second time. You see, my mostly-flat-if-not-actually-washboard tummy, after surviving two pregnancies, finally deserted me about five or six years ago, part of a combination of a more sedentary lifestyle (we moved to the Big City and I could no longer walk everywhere, plus I had my driver’s licence) and the transition from mid twenties to late twenties to early thirties. While I still wear a two-piece bathing suit, and I don’t have an issue with dance costumes (bellydance tends to bare a lot of belly), it’s not something I’m really comfortable with in my everyday wardrobe anymore. And I gotta tell ya, I’m not at all convinced I will wear this one for everyday life anyway—but I have been needing some cute and inspiring things to wear to dance class, and this will definitely fit that bill.

But I also wonder. Maybe a crop-top doesn’t have to be about flaunting that perfect beach-body. Maybe it can be about loving the tummy that you have already, jiggly bits and all?*** And why are those jiggly bits just fine with a bit of fabric over, but unacceptable without?

So, as soon as I got home, I tried on my new shoes (Yep! Comfy!) and set to cutting out a Nettie crop top. Yes, this may be the fastest turnaround from fabric purchase to finished object ever. I used the same size eight Nettie I’ve been playing with all week, cutting it off at the bottom “lengthen or shorten here” line on both front and back. This is actually below the waist of the pattern, but without a bottom half pulling it down, I was pretty sure the height would be about right for what I wanted—and it is.



So, I’ve been futzing with a lot of wriggly, thin, and otherwise annoying knits lately, and I have to say, sitting down with a really nice spandex to play with is so awesome. It’s beefy but not overly thick, it’s smooth yet stable, and it handles gorgeously. I sewed the entire thing by regular machine (my old Pfaff, actually); I wanted lots of control when sewing those stripes, which I wouldn’t have on the serger.



I cut the neck binding lengthwise. Actually, I made sure I cut out the binding strips first, from the longest part of my scrap. I still had to piece the neckline band, too. And I may have to take a sharpie to the stitches where they show on the black stripes, though.


With high-waisted skirt. Not the right skirt, I know. I actually don’t hate this look as much as I thought I might, although this photo is probably as good as it gets.

I tried to match my seams as best I could without wasting more than an inch or two of fabric. I succeeded fairly well on the side-seams, not so much on the sleeves. Actually, we’ll call that a complete fail on the sleeves.



Not too bad for just pin-basting. Definitely need a sharpie. You can also just barely see the teeny zig-zag hem. I’m not sure how well that’ll hold up over time as the thread definitely has less give than the fabric there.

With jubbly tummy

With jubbly tummy

So, out of my comfort zone? YES! Pushing things? YES! And yet, I feel totally cute, jubbly tummy bits and all.

Full view, with shoes

Full view, with shoes

Also, I think I may have just fallen back in love with these jeans, which are my very first pair. I am loving how they look cuffed up with heels, even with the raggedy knees. Maybe especially with the raggedy knees.

So, I don’t know if I’ll be baring it all, or even a high-waisted sliver, this summer. My latent teenage self is screaming YES YES YES! while my more sedate thirty-something side is saying hmm, maybe leave that to the kids, Tanit. We’ll see who wins. And I have a new dance top in the meantime. So we’ll call that a win.

And, I just might have enough spandex left for some booty shorts…

*This link is not an endorsement, I have no particular familiarity with this site or its content, it was just the first hit that looked relevant on my google search, and it talked about the “current crop top trend.” Although, it’s talking about a trend from two years ago. Which might explain why it’s only now making it to my little backwater corner of the world, but anyway.

**mudgie is like pudge, but on a mommy, and is also, according to my husband, adorable.

***And, yes, I do know, in the grand scheme of things my jiggly bits are pretty minor. That doesn’t really change how I feel about them, though.


Filed under Sewing

Spring Demands Lace

Sewaholic Gabriola skirt.

I’ll subtitle this post, Sew Canadian.

It’s long past being interesting complaining about how busy I am. But, as if I didn’t have enough on my plate (like, oh, Avengers grad dress, long-delayed onesie for Syo, and about a half dozen other things I ought to be doing), two more projects threw themselves at me begging to be made. (And yes, I realize talking about them before they’re made is probably a Very Bad Idea.) Tasia’s Gabriola Skirt absolutely struck me dead the second I saw the line-drawing. Full, swishy maxi skirt with contrast bits? UM YES. The only thing that surprises me is that I haven’t made it yet. The part where I’m making myself trace it off is slowing me down. And the bit where it takes 3.5m fabric or more, and I didn’t have enough of anything both swishy and summery, so I had to actually get new fabric. You can imagine the quaking dread that fills my home when I say such things; the children groan and my husband hides his head under a cushion. But Gabriola WILL HAPPEN. I swear it.

Nettie body-suit, by Closet Case Files

I tried a little harder to resist  Nettie. I mean, I haven’t worn leotards since high school. And I don’t tuck stuff in, like, ever. But. But. But.

Somehow the vision of a lacey Nettie to go with my Gabriola just took hold. Or maybe it was the real Nettie’s five million awesome versions. I couldn’t tell you, except there I was, printing and gluing happily a couple of days ago.

And here we are: big dreams, a new serger (which I’ll manage to talk about at some point) and not a lot of time. But May Long’s coming up—I have three whole days off and I plan to use them to the fullest. If I can just get through this week…

Avengers Grad Dress (almost done!!!!)

And finish the Avengers dress.


Filed under Sewing