Sewing Vloggers

Thursday, October 12, 2023

The "Imby Flowy Top"


I absolutely  L O V E my Imby Flowy top. Can you tell?

This was such fun to make, so easy and quick. It is also so very comfortable to wear as well. Add in the fact that it was a free pattern made from upcycled fabric and how can it get any better?


This is the Imby Flowy top from Karmme Apparel. It is a free download and the designer does sell a few other patterns as well. Unfortunately, within the past day, the pattern has been taken down with a note that it will be back up. Perhaps with a sale price? I will keep you posted. I can tell you the designer is self admittedly not a pattern designer and asks for your understanding (?).  She does design apparel fabrics and clothing and is based out of Australia. She says the pattern is "one size" and fits size 8 to 14 Australian. I've researched and found that in the US we run about two sizes smaller than Oz. There is a conversion chart in this article that shows you the difference between Australian sizing and many other countries. Since I often wear a 4 in tops this worked out. 

ETA: It appears to available again. Here is a link: The Imby Flowy Top

This PDF pattern can easily be adjusted to accommodate larger sizes as well as smaller ones. There is no fit other than the yoke and any concerns about the length of hem and sleeves. It is VERY full and that is what feels so nice.  All the measurements provided are in meters. The directions provide a sheet showing them all quite clearly. I put the imperial measurements in by hand to help myself.  All seams are 5/8ths.  Two closure options are available. One is a back slit and tie. The other is a deeper front slit and tie. 


In my resources is a big, plastic tote full of fabrics for muslins. It is 95% solid colored sheets and such. All I needed was a small piece to test out the front and back yoke. As I dug I noticed an odd piece of fabric with color and print. Surely it didn't belong there. I yanked it from the tote, out of curiosity and recognized a shower curtain I had purchased fairly recently. It was far too bright and vivid for our bathroom tastes and I took it down from it's life as an outer shower curtain and evidently threw it in the muslin tote. Dang, this could make the whole top, never mind my muslin yoke. I pulled it out. It was still a shower curtain and 100% cotton. It was slubbed, very soft and light and draped beautifully. This would work. I did a test lay and discovered I could get all my piece out of the curtain and still play with it's border effect.  But a shower curtain for a blouse? 


Everything about it was perfect, the fiber, the drape, the border print. I went for it. Will I tell anyone but dear sewists like all of you where it came from? Only upcyclers, friends, only upcyclers. 


As mentioned,  the only fit concerns with this garment are the fit of the yoke and the lengths of the sleeves and hems. I kept the sleeves as given. I reduced the length of the hem by 2 3/4 inches and took a 1 1/2 inch hem from that.  This gave me the higher hip effect I wanted. I took a scrap of cotton batik and cut out the yoke. There is extreme fullness here as you will see in an upcoming back shot so no concerns for FBAs or large darts. There really is no underarm fit. The skirt is 70 something inches around.  My personal concerns, beside the width of the shoulders, were also the depth of the V neck slit in the front. If you look at the pic above there are three arrows.  The bottom arrow is where the pattern wants to end the slit. The middle arrow is where I ended the slit. The top arrow is where I  thought  I should end the slit.  I cut back the armscye seam, the side of the yoke, 3/4 s of  an inch. I highly suggest you make a yoke muslin first before cutting out this top. It takes minutes of only sewing up the shoulder seams and no more. Another question, which shown from the tops on IG was where the horizontal empire waist seam would land. It was in all sorts of places depending on the body. Mine landed right where I hoped so no changes there, across and a little above the apex. 


This was so easy to put together and the instructions given, while conversational, get you there well enough. The designer has a youtube video of the entire construction which I highly recommend. I was originally lost a bit with the installation of the ties but when I saw the video, it was brilliant. I had never seen ties attached in that manner and now it will be my go to.  Imby Video

A pic is worth a thousand words so check out  the back of this shirt. 

The large sleeves are gathered only half way across their caps. The front of the sleeve caps get the gathers. The back of the sleeves are smooth which you can see by looking at the back yoke here. The sleeves then have an angle that meets at the sleeve under seam. It is flat also and matched the skirt which has the same angle on its ends. All of the skirt gathers are directly below the front and back yokes. You can see why this top is so very comfortable and why only the yoke requires fitting care. 

The cuffs are gathered but you could easily do a binding if desired. About gathering: Here is a shot I did according to directions, two rows of gathering within the SA. 

Pleats are uneven and that did not sit well with me. On this next pic you will see better pleats on the front yoke. I did one row of basting within the SA and one beyond, in the garment. 

Tiny pleats, falling where they may.'s the smocker in me. 

Mark your garment well. The dots are critical. You will be meeting these three angles at this corner. You do NOT stitch to the edge here. Just stitch to the dots. I chose to topstitch my yoke. It looked nice on the slub cotton. 

Finally, the cuffs, just turned and stitched.  All seams were machine stitched and then serged, nothing fancier. The hem was machine topstitched an inch and a half up in a double row. 

In the end, I think it is a rather elegant little top, clearly designed by a real designer with a great eye for balance, style and detail. I highly recommend this pattern.  I have seen a couple similar among indie designers but none have the  more elegant lines of this one. I have fabrics for a second one on my table waiting for cutting!!!......Happy Sewing,,,,,,,,,,,Bunny

Saturday, October 7, 2023

McCalls 8406, the Bias Sequin Dress


Chalk up another one! A bias cut dress out of sequined fabric.  I have a lot to say about this project. First, it was perfect for the wedding. I had anxiety over whether I would be over/under dressed for the event.  It was j u s t right!  Second, it is hard to photograph this fabric. I took tons of pics and these two were the best. It just caught the light so weirdly in the photos and every time I moved in the slightest, the bias fabric had other ideas and movements. But in the end, it was perfect for the venue. Speaking of venue, the day was pouring buckets, foggy, just awful weather so the pics I planned on taking there just did not materialize. So let's get going on the sewing here!


This is McCalls 8406.  Here is their description, "
It is McCalls 8406. They describe it as "Empire waist dress with sleeve and hemline variations has shawl collar neckline, narrow hem, bias skirt and invisible side zipper." 

First, this dress needs a muslin created first.  There are fit challenges here despite looking quite simple. For me, I needed to discover if I could even pull off a bias skirt with my hips and I could. But previous experiences at a heavier weight were otherwise so I was not going into this with confidence. I found the bias cut flattering and my husband really liked the fit, too. Next, there is a lovely empire curved rise to the bodice that under the arm dips down on the back bodice, very pretty. However, I needed  a bit of Full Bust Adjustment and it is not easy on this pattern. The dolman sleeves are very deep but the bust fullness comes from those gathers below. I did a cheater FBA by adding a 3/8th inch ellipse curve in the gathered area below the bust.  You can see what I mean with the red lines below. 

This pattern is fairly simple and should be a breeze, but my fabric choices and vision definitely complicated things. I also wanted to do the fabric justice so used techniques to achieve a more couture finish. It took time and three muslins. More on the muslin  process is two posts back  here. 


This was made with Ambiance lining and a sequin net fabric from Fabric Place Basement in Natick, Mass., the burbs of Boston. The sequins are tiny and trailing and on a net that is stronger than tulle and that does not stretch, unlike the mesh nets so prevalent right now. I learned a lot about sewing with sequins and you can read it in my last post here.


The dress consisted of two parts. The bodice was dolman sleeves and a bias folded collar band. Under the arm would be the start of an invisible zipper installation that would continue down from the waistline another 10 inches into the skirt The bodice was underlined with the Ambiance and all bodice seams were Hong Kong bound finished.  Each pattern section was block cut, thread traced, stay stitched next to the thread tracing and then finally cut out. This was to make sure there was no shifting while cutting  and no bubbles between the fabric layers. Lots of handwork and fussing! Using silk  thread for the basting made things easier.

I made a change in the collar construction. I have discovered, in more than one project, that a large BIAS band collar changes direction of grain in relation to the body as it wraps around. In the three muslins, I always had a large wrinkle on one side. I decided to split the neckline band in half at the back neckline and put a seam there and then reverse the grain of the band. This way the grains would mirror match as the came around the neck. Big wrinkle eliminated! The collar went in beautifully and all match points were spot on with this pattern.  I made no petite adjustments to this pattern other than length. 

On to part two, the skirt.  On the pattern you see an exaggerated shirt tail hem. I liked that. My lace had beautiful lace bordered selvedge edges. I carefully cut them off to attach to the hem of the skirt. But, first the lining. It was easy to sew but I made the skirt too large. The top was a size six and the skirt was a twelve and way too big. It had only two seams , each side. I went back and took it in to a size ten and it was just right. You can see the original stitching in the seam above. You can also see that with these seams being cut on true bias, there is absolutely no ravelling. I made the decision to do no further finish on them. It would only add bulk and time. I'd been at this for a while now and wanted to get it finished. I have seen numerous vintage cocktail dresses finished exactly this way, of similar fabric,  and was comfortable with my decision.  I was using a size ten microtex needle but it still left holes. I think a finer thread would have helped as well but none to be found in this color.

Back to the hem. When I originally made the muslin I knew I did not want a full length dress. Below knee was fine but the shirt tail was deep. I moved the hem up before cutting by five inches. I wanted to maintain the shape of the hem and slit look. You can see how I did that here in this post.   I then went on  to deal with the edge of the net hem. I spent an afternoon attaching the border lace, about an inch plus wide, by hand, in a very weak gather, just enough to make the curve of the hem. It was hand basted on then machine stitched.  Looked pretty enough, but, alas, I had to deal with it again later. 

Next was dealing with the zipper, my most challenging situation. I had to transition at the waistline seam from a traditional installation in the bodice to one in the lining that was only in the lining and hidden by the netting so  it would still be invisible. Now, I have seen and worked on these often in formal gowns, but there has always been a heavy fluff of gathered tulle or organza to hide the zip in the lining below the waist, easy peasy. I had no fluffy gathers. I wanted to maintain a smooth line from the waist to hem, all the while having access and hiding the zipper in just the lining layer. What's a sewist to do? 

Very tiny snaps and Fabric Fusion adhesive to the rescue! I installed the invisible zip above the waist as per usual. I then folded the netting out of the way and continued to install the zip in the lining. I just placed my needle back in the zip area on the other side of the netting. Zip installed! Now to hide it.................I searched my notions and found some very tiny black snaps. I tested and found they totally hid in the netting. But they were so small I could not get them to cooperate with my fingers while sewing. Frustration! I used my forceps to hold them and a bit of fabric fusion to place them. I walked away for an hour. I came back and the snaps were stuck just enough for me to easily sew them on. 

First, I had cut my seam allowance on the net skirt extra wide to accomodate the zip. I then sewed it shut traditionally with regular stitch length in the seam and long basting stitches in the zipper area. The seam part was pressed open. The zipper part was pressed to the side to make sort of a placket. That is on the right in the picture. I cut a slit between the two. This netting does not ravel.That folded to the side seam will now become the placket and home to 5 teensy snaps.  

You will need to blow the above pic up to see what's going on. Red arrows point to the glue drying snaps. The rocks hold fabric out of the way. Once dry they were easy to stitch on. I then did this again on the other side with their matching snaps and then we were good to go. You can see it all transitioned smoothly, although it requires some serious bending to reach the little buggers and get them shut. 

I tried the dress on now that the zip was in. It flowed smoothly in that seam and I was pleased. I was not pleased with my dress. The length of the hem I had put all the lace on looked frumpy and the slightly ruffled lace edge made it look like lingerie.  Hubs totally agreed.  I shortened the skirt another 4 inches,  no lace ruffle edge and it looked much better. He agreed on that as well. I trust his judgement after all these years. But talk about adding more work. I had to shorten the lining too. 

I also discovered, as well suspected, that I needed shoulder pads, just some little skinny ones.  My shoulders seem to be drooping with age, a new development in that onward journey. The dolman sleeves really accentuated it. So I got to work. 

While I had 1/4 inch pads in my resources, I did not like how they shown thru the dress. I made my own. 

I measured the dress while wearing it to see how large to make these. I then laid out a layer of Fusi Knit tricot fusible interfacing. I cut a large shape and graduating smaller ones out of batting. I put a straight strip of batting, about an inch wide, across the pad. It did not extend all the way, just built up the middle. The Fusi Knit was then folded over and pressed to the batting sandwich. I then stitched very close to the pinked edge. I took a small tuck in the center of each pad to force the curve. I pinned them to my ham, gave them a good steaming and left them overnight. they made a definite positive difference on how this dress draped on my sloping shoulders. Don't be afraid of thin should pads!

In Conclusion:

This dress was a lot of work. All of that is of my own making and choice. As far as the pattern, here I will share something that I have deliberately held until the end. I found this dress EXTREMELY difficult to get in and out of. I have very narrow shoulders. I used the size zipper recommended. I installed exactly where the dot was for that purpose. It barely got over my shoulders. I have a very narrow torso,  you all know that. I can't imagine how anyone else could get in and out of it. If I made another here are my suggestions: 
* Run that underarm zipper a good four inches into the lower sleeve seam.  I can't see any other way to make it work otherwise. 

* Consider making this dress out of a knit. Then you will get the stretch for getting it off and on. 

* Last of all,  add a center back seam to the neckline as I did, and run the invisible zip to the top as you do have a center back bodice seam to work with. I think this is the best option. 

I love the style of this dress and would consider making it again, possibly in a knit. I like the bias cut of the skirt. If I made it again I would had a triangular godet to the upper sleeve seam, begining at the outer shoulder edge, to make a fuller sleeve. I felt they could use more volume.  I definitely recommend the pattern but with these mentioned caveats. 

 I am on to my next project, the Imby Flowy top.  I am starting with a muslin. While digging in my muslin fabric tote, I found this and decided to play with it for my Imby. More to come...........Happy Sewing..............Bunny

Thursday, September 28, 2023

#$!S#%$# It's me.


I cannot tell you how much I detest doing this. The true word is one my mother told me not to ever use, "hate". I hate doing this. It is such a total time waster and there is nothing, nothing pleasureable about, for me.  This is not the first PDF I've used. I've used a whole bunch with bags and children's patterns but my adult pattern PDFs are few and far between. It's a like childbirth. It's awful but you do it again, once enough time has lapsed to trick your brain into a redo. Again, for me. 

I no longer have a printer. We don't use them often enough and have burnt through two in the last couple of years due to that fact. We are not far from the local library so its easy to run and get things printed there. For whatever reason. when I wanted to print this from my thumb drive, they were not accomodating. I was so itching for the much valued instant gratification PDF lovers enjoy. The next day, I ran into town and Staples. "Can you print this AO size, please?"  "What's AO?" was the help I recieved. No one knew what AO paper was. I took my credit card and went over to the copy machine and printed it all out on A4 paper, all while pondering how many trees sacrificed their bark for my long gone instant gratification. Ugh....

This is not a diss on Indies. I order paper patterns from them  but this particular pattern only came PDF and I was truly smitten by it. It was FREE, too. This justified my A4 copying but I was not going to  waste gas, time and attitude driving around (I was already in town and knew where other print shops were)  plus searching online looking for someone to do my copies AO. I went A4.  Then, when I actually started to cut and tape, all semblance of kindness and patience left my body. 

What I am smitten by is the Imby Flowy Top from Karmme Apparel. It is described by the designer as being not designed by a professional pattern maker and she asks for your  kindness and patience.  It is not graded and she thinks it will fit sizes 8-14 Australian. I have no clue what that is. No measurements, other than finished are offered. Based on the measurements given, and the fact that I don't take a size 8 AUS, I will just hack at it and remove volume here and there. This little top take 2.75 yards of 45 inch.  So once this monster pattern from planet PDF is complete, I will trace to tissue and make it a little more petite friendly. It has MASSIVE amounts of fabric in the design, which is part of the charm, but I do think I need to bring that down before I turn into a parachute. It is a really darling pattern and one that I hope to make this winter in anticipation of our vacation overseas, next summer. I am planning that wardrobe now! 


Bit by bit I keep picking at my workshop. I redid all my fabrics and cleaned up my shelving. There is nothing on top of them anymore which I like. My wools and bottomweights are on one of two big Rubbermaid 72x24 inch units. I realized too late that my wools were all on the side very close to  a lot of bright lighting. I have seen fabric ruined by lighting in retail stores and have a definite fear of it. I refold my fabrics twice a year to prevent it. To prevent it here, I placed two Command hooks at the top of the unit. Then I Put a buttonhole on each end of  a width of shirting that I could still use if I really wanted to. Nothing is cut from what it was. It is just hemmed top and bottom. I gathered the top onto a wooden dowel hanging around and slipped the hooks thru the buttonholes. No fading for my dear wools! 
The Wedding Guest dress is complete and I will wear it in two days. I hope to get some good pictures from the wedding. It was quite a project. Take care and Happy Sewing.................Bunny

Saturday, September 2, 2023

Sewing with Sequins

While working on my current project, McCalls 8406,  it occurred to  me that the fabric used and the techniques required really deserved its own blogpost. I am making this dress from a sequin fabric. The first thing I have learned is that all sequin fabrics are not equal. I am lucky in that the sequined fabric I fell in love with is definitely, in my opinion, one of the easier types to sew. My fabric is a random trail of VERY tiny sequins, also very thin, that are sewn by machine all over a base of netting. It's a bit stronger than tulle but not that heavy net business. Also, and important for ease here, it DOES NOT stretch.  Equally important, the design has a fair amount of negative space that is just netting. This is not the fabric of larger sequins that  solidly cover a substrate and you find used for mermaid outfits and  lovely formal garments. My fabric has a lighter, more ethereal feel but like all sequin fabrics, also has a weighty drape, but not the heaviness of the big sequins. I highly recommend sewing this sort of sequin fabric as you will see ahead. It is simply less problematic. So rule number one is that if you are searching for a sparkly fabric, consider a sequined fabric utilizing smaller  sequins in the design and maybe an amount of  half negative space with the base fabric. Also being non stretch helps but not mandatory. That just eliminates another factor to deal with. You will need certain supplies to ease your journey. 

to indicate scale 

Supplies needed:

* Old junk scissors.  Do NOT use your good scissors for cutting this fabric or a rotary cutter. It will be fine. I am using my junk scissors that I bought in a bin for a dollar 30 years ago. They cut the fabric just fine. 

* Wood clapper. You CANNOT press your sequined fabric.  It will tarnish, lose it's color and/or melt. But, you can "faux" press it and I will show you how with a clapper and a few other tricks. 

* Seam roll. I used a length of wooden pole. Worked great to lay the sewn seams on and not crush while "faux" pressing. 

* Brayer. Same as the clapper but with the addition that it will crush the little gems together at the seam line effortlessly and they will lie beautifully flat. I did not remove any sequins in the seams for the project other than the zipper area. 

* Straight stitch foot, one hole. This was best for making  the 1/4 inch width for the Hong Kong seams . 

* See thru foot. Used for general stitching- s l o w l y .

* Silk thread for basting. It slides in and out of the the sequins and stitches so easily. Very easily removable. I used it to block baste the sequin fabric to the lining, working flat on a table to prevent bubbles.  

* Regular thread for sewing. You can use lighter weight thread if you get the right color. You need a good match here . 

* Glasses for eye protection when sewing and cutting. Sequins go everywhere and I have read of them flying into people's eyes when cutting and sewing. Don't risk it. 

* Paintbrush, soft and at least two inches wide.  Great for brushing up all the sequin drops into a pile and putting in the trash. They will fall off your fabric and reproduce as you sleep. Clean up after every session. The less sequins hanging around the less opportunity for accidents. 

* Sticky lint roller. Use for a quick cleanup. You will be finding sequins everywhere but they are not bad like glitter. 

* Oak tag or manila folders.  You will need two.  They will be used to make your pressing jigs. 

* Hand needles for basting. 

*Microtex needle, 12, for sewing. Halfway thru the garment and no broken needles yet and still sharp. 

\Sequin Myths that did not apply here:

* You will break tons of needles. Did not happen to me. I am still on the same happy needle halfway thru my garment. 

* You must remove all the sequins from all the seam allowances before sewing. Nope, I haven't removed a one. I only plan to remove where the invisible zipper will be placed. These tiny sequins are so thin and small  that they don't get in the way and they don't scratch you either, at least not me. I do have sensitive, thin skin  too! I also got validation on this from a couple youtubes. 

* You can't iron the fabric. Well, you can't, but you can get around that.  Make sure your lining is nicely pressed before starting. Keep your pieces in a flat position to eliminate further wrinkling. Treat them kindly. I keep mine in a half sheet pan. Do hand work flat on a table.  I will show you how to get a flat seam with the ironing jigs. 

Sequin Must Dos

* You must make samples of  pressing before starting, with and without lining. 

* You must make samples of stitching. Using a zigzag of .5 wide and 2.5 long gave a much better result than a straight stitch for seams.  I actually forgot to take off my 1/4 inch foot from doing my HK seams and found out that this single hole foot will do a .5 zig zag so I left it on to do all of my HK seams. Worked great. I used the wider see thru foot for all of the rest of the stitching. 

* You must interface linings as needed, definitely not the netting. 

* You must use the right tools and rules to get a decent, flat pressed looking seam. 

* You MUST sew s l o w l y,  every step of the way. 

* You must, unless you remove all those sequins, treat your seam allowances to a finish. I did Hong Kong seams on mine out of the same Ambiance lining. Don't ditch stitch the HK seams. Topstitch instead.  HK seams will cover any edges of the sequins that could irritate and they finish any loose threads. This way you won't have sequins falling off on the dance floor. 

"Faux Pressing" Sequins

Jig #1

Take your first manila folder, just as it is being held in your hands and putting down and measure down from the fold about 5 inches. Cut on that line. You can see my cut is uneven. That's OK. You want the fold, not the cut line. Here you can see where I have sewn a bias strip to the fabric for a Hong Kong seam. I need to press that strip away from the fashion fabric. BUTT the folded edge of the manila folder right up to the stitched line of the fabric strip. Hover your iron, set up for steam, over the folder area ONLY, for about 3 seconds and move away fast.  Quickly slide away your jig and hand press down the fabric strip. Take your clapper and press down and away and hold it for a few seconds. When you remove the clapper you will see the lining pressed away and nice and flat. The double thick folder paper helps prevent the steam/heat from damaging your sequins. Slide the folder up the seam and continue pressing the strip away from your garment until done. 

Next for your HK seams you will need to wrap the strip around the the edge and pin in the ditch securely. I used silk pins as they handled the sequins really well. Go to the machine. and EDGE STITCH the strip fold on your seam allowance as opposed to the usual ditch stitching done on HK seams. When done remove the excess seam allowance on the back. 

Anytime you need to press an area, butt the manila folder, doubled like here, up to the edge to not let any heat/steam heat anywhere else on the garment. At no time touch the garment. Just hover with 2 or 3 seconds of steam and get away fast. 

Here are some seams in the bodice all put together, shoulder and back, below. 

Jig #2

Above, on the left you can see the seam before being treated with Jig #2 method and on the right after #2 method. We will use the brayer, the seam roll , the clapper and the jig and iron again. 

To make Jig #2, take your second folder and fold it as it's meant to be and get out your rotary cutter and ruler or scissors. Doesn't matter which. Accuracy not too important here. About 4 inches from either edge cut a fat eighth inch away from the fold to make a long slit. Do a little short cut on the ends. Now, if you open your folder up you have a long slit roughly a 1/4 inch plus wide. As you use your folder, use it folding down to make things easier. Place your garment. seams open, wrong side up first on your pressing stick/seam roll. The picture above is for when I turned over and did the same process to the right side of the garment. You will do both sides.  Get your brayer or clapper handy. Place your Jig Slot over your seam line, centering it in the slit. Holding the jig securely, once again, HOVER your iron about an inch above for about 3 seconds of steam/heat and get away. Immediately grab the brayer and roll over the slit with pressure or use the clapper. I prefer the brayer here. Take your time. Gently remove the jig. Admire your seam, give it a little contented pat and move your way up the seam with the same process. Again. Press your seam open first on the wrong side, then flip it over and do the right side as you see above. The brayer forces the sequins to mesh together and really hold the seam flat. Don't be afraid to press hard. 

Here we go, above, all nice and smooth! Whew! 

When I went shopping for my fabric for this dress there was soooo much to choose from that would have fit the description of small sequins with a good amount of negative space, really lovely fabrics. I have even seen some beautiful ones at Joanns that would fit the description nicely as well. So, these fabrics are not hard to find and you cetainly get the wow factor. Many are more subdued than this one, lots of options, colors, etc. If you pick a pattern with few pieces, details, etc, and that is easy these days, you can make a garment that I think will be amazing.  I hope my jigs and suggestions will help you along. I welcome comments. May your sewing sparkle!....Bunny

Thursday, August 24, 2023

Lots of Sequins and Fit! McCalls 8406


This is turning into a true couture adventure, thanks to the lovely fabric I've chosen. There is just no simple way around sewing with these tiny sequins. I did a lot of research and will make lots more samples. I will be sampling seam treatments, pressing possibilities (likely none), hem finishes and more, all before the real sewing hits the fabric. 

I finished my muslin journey after three toiles. The second toile showed my over reaction and was too small and pulling everywhere. For the third toile, I took a simple approach but I did learn something with my second effort. Adding the skirt made a huge difference. I discovered I actually could wear a bias skirt. The weight of the skirt pulled the bodice down and the bust actually looked quite good. I realized what the designer was trying to achieve here. There is a deliberate effort to skim the bust, not fit it snugly as one would expect, but as the fabric skims over the bust and flows into the bias movement of the skirt it really all works together. It is a fresh look and I love it. It has a minimizing effect on the bust, a flattering one. If that is a goal for you, try this pattern.

The pics here are from the third toile. The fabric is from two very thin, well worn sheets with NO body to them at all.  My lining, Ambiance, is probably just as loosey goosey but the sequined netting definitely has structure and that should make a difference. It will be a mystery to see how it turns out. The neckline here is not interefaced and will be in the finished garment.  I cut the skirt and lining on the bias as the pattern indicates. The lace netting has very little grain of any sort so it will  interesting to see if I get any lovely bias effect. I also was careful of the nap, as it seems sequins have a nap, like velvets.  This is the first time in my life I have referred to a personal bias cut garment as lovely. I still have memories of some frightful failures when I was heavier and curvier.  It this comes out well, I think I may be on to something my aging body can really enjoy and play with.

On the above pic you will see an arrow pointing at a red line. This is the hemline I will use. It is an exaggerated shirtail hemline and will be five inches higher. In the top picture you see an issue with the collar. It is made from one wide, long strip of bias fabric that wraps around the neck. I believe that it wrinkles because the direction of the bias changes as it goes around the neck. I actually had this same issue on a different pattern so it made me think twice. I added a center back seam to the final neckband in the opposite bias grain. It will be interfaced and hopefully that will take care of that wrinkle that would not go away on any of the three toiles. Also on the top pic  you will see an arrow pointing at the underarm area. It is droopy here. A petite tuck across the chest takes care of that. 

How did I petite/shorten my curvy bias skirt hem?

The first thing I did was trace off the bottom of the skirts, View B, front and back. I then cut the tracing out.

On the tracing it was important to have the bias grain marked as well as the center back line and the horizontal line. Once this was established I  slid this up five inches from the original pattern hemline. I pinned down the pattern along the center line while I worked. I then went to the upper corners and lined them up five inches higher than the original at the side seams and pinned my way across using the original lines in the pattern for help. This left excess fabric at the center which I gently moved toward the center and hand pressed into a tuck.

That tuck was evenly folded along the center back/front line. At the top of this picture you will see the two darts I have drawn in. I may do gathers there instead based on my research, better for the sequins. 

As far as couture,  this is how I am cutting things out: First, I set up my net on a padded roll in the direction of the nap I would use, smooth feel down, like velvet. I could cut my pieces in the proper direction directly off the roll. But, first,   I cut out all of the Ambiance lining fabric. It will be used as a classic underlining, treating it and the fashion fabric as one unit for the bodice. 
 In the skirt it will float freely. Then I block cut the first pattern piece of sequin net, which from now on I will just refer to as the net, in block form, leaving about an inch plus margin all around and pinning my grainline. I laid this on top of the cut out bodice underlining piece, right sides up, matching and pinning grain lines. I could easily see the outline of the underlining fabric, heretofore called the Ambiance, under the net. With grainlines matched, I used fine, long, glass head silk pins to pin closely all around the borders of the two fabric pieces. I pinned them together about 5/8ths inch away from the edge of the Ambiance, lots of pins. These two bias pieces were now officially laying very flat and happy. I then took silk thread and basted the two pieces together just this side of the stitching lines. I used 1/4 inch stitches, smaller than my usual basting. The silk slid in and out so easily so no problem with future removal.  I will block baste all of the pieces in this manner. After that I will machine stay stitch just inside the stitching line, all around each pattern piece. This is absolutely necessary to control the sequins from becoming undone and falling off the dress, leaving threads behind as a memory.  Yikes! The net will be trimmed back to the cut edge of the Ambiance and the sequins cut back and picked off.

Thank you to Claire Shaeffer, for teaching me to cross my corners when basting, instead of attempting to turn corners or just miss them. 

This process will be done to each piece of the garment before starting to sew together the garment.  Before sewing together the dress, I need to think about seam finishes. There is an underarm invisible zipper involved! This is all going to take some time!  Bear with me as I take you along for the ride. I figure a couple of days for all of this prep. Till then................Happy Sewing, Bunny

Two shopping bags of cotton and linen scraps for our local Freecycle. May they find a happy home ;)

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Vogue 1873, just a NO.


I do not like these pants. I do not like this pattern. This is why:

The Pattern:

This is Vogue 1873. I did View B, the straight legged version. Both have paperbag waists, pleats to make that happen, sashes, belt loops, side seam pockets and  faced fly zippers. I've made several wide legged pants with pronounced waistbands over the past year and they all worked out rather well.  I thought this version would join that group. Uh, no, but, first the pattern. This looks like a pretty straightforward design. Vogue could not have made it any more complicated. 

As a veteran sewist who has learned many things the hard way, I read ALL the pattern instructions twice before even cutting out the fabric. Once I did cut everything out, taking extra care with grain as I always do, I immediately went to marking. There is a lot of marking on this pattern as anyone who has worked with pleats can tell you. I did it all on the wrong side of the fabric, my usual habit unless told otherwise. 

I assumed that the waist would involve a small hem all around but not so. It is a 2 inch or so fold of fabric that you make  while flat that covers up all the markings that the instructions told you to do at the beginning. All the pleating and darting is done with the two layers of fabric together, basically on the right side upside down if you are sewing on the inside of the pants. Whatever, I had to remark it all and it made for a bulky waist as well . The fly installation is also confusing. Just good luck with that. I am still not clear on how the flaps of the fold work in there but I did get a nice clean finish in the end. 

When all done I made the sash and tried it on with the sash which I thought I would like. It made for  too much volume around the middle on top of my hips. It looked awful with the sash. If you make this pattern, do a mock sash before you waste your time making one. A trim leather belt improved the look a lot. You have to fuss a bit to get it all to lay and stay right, another negative for the pattern design. Do you really want to fuss with that every time you need to hit the Ladie's Room?


The fabric I used is one of my absolute favorites. It's the only fabric I hoard and keep a steady supply of. It is Kaufmann's Essex Linen/Cotton cross dyed blend. I just could never sew enough of this. I now feel I have wasted it here but alas, I will wear these for more functional, hard working times around the house and feel good that they are in my favorite fabric. No complaints on that at all. I made the pockets from a panel of quilting cotton, nice and thin.  Why am I standing like this? To show you how deep the pockets are on me.  They end way down my thigh, too low. They also tend to make the front pleats on the pants puff out, not a great look. I should have used my five foot tall brain before installing them. To me, one who does not like pockets, they seem like huge pockets. I am going to sew them shut and cut them off. 


Direct quote from pattern: "Transfer all markings and lines of construction before removing pattern tissue." I did and then they did not completely show when the waist hem was folded over them before stitching said darts and pleats in. The pleated waist band and darts are not stitched in until the pockets and faced fly zipper are completely done. 

ETA: If I made these again, I would eliminate that big foldover of fabric and just do a 1/4 inch hem at the very top of the pleats at the area of the fold. It would make these pants simpler to make and far less bulky. I believe it would also be more in line with a lightweight summer pant as shown. 

On to the fly - This is a fly with fly facings, plural. I don't think my husband has any pants with double fly facings on each side of the zipper. But, hold on, it gets even thicker! The facings are completely interfaced. The right facing is two layers of fabric, one of which is interfaced, sewn WS together and turned. The left facing is one big layer, folded and totally interfaced so two layers of interfacing, all sewn, WS  together  and turned. All of this backs the zipper installation. Just way too bulky for what is really a casual pair of summer pants, overkill, IMO. It makes for some difficulty at the very bottom of the fly with all that bulk. I sewed my waist hem in by hand around these facings as I couldn't  quite get what was wanted in the pattern. The pattern did recommend "slipstitching"  the upper edge of the right fly to the pants, but the picture was quite confusing.  I moved on. 

The crotch seam and the fly zip were all complete no pleats, darts, waistline yet. Next is the pockets. I did my own thing and the whole time thought they would be too long for my short legs. They were. There was no recommendation to tape the pockets. I did. 

I like to add a strip of the garment fabric to the side of the pocket that will show when the hands go in as you can see here. Then I securely stitch it to the pocket bag. The more public side of the pocket, where your hand goes, will show the strip and the panel print. It's white on the back. You can see I used selvedge from the garment fabric to stay the pocket opening, my own effort, not the pattern's idea.  What you see above will be flipped over and become the inside of the pocket once it is stitched to the pocket and front leg. This is the back leg. 

One thing this pattern does is suggest a lot of is hand basting and I did like that. They have you hand baste down the waist hem fold and then you start making the darts and pleats. 

Last but not least, you make and apply the belt loops. Ignore the pattern placement for this. Try on your pants and decide for yourself the best place to install them. The placement, if you follow the directions, will give you a totally flat belt loop. I realized the foolishness of that when I tried to get  the two layered five inch wide sash thru them. I unstitched one end of my loops, pushed them up to make a bit of space in the loop and redid them. So, don't follow the markings on the loops unless you want flat belt loops.  

The pattern simply suggests you stitch through the belt loops. I did a fine zigzag thru them, top and bottom. I also did that on the top and bottom of the pockets and the zipper, sort of a hefty bar tack. 

In Conclusion:

That picture above of the back says it all. Of all the wide legged pants I have made, not a single one had this gross wrinkle issue in the back inseam area. It was far wider and worse and with a broad U shape at CB before I did the Cheater Gusset. I guess I didn't cheat enough but at this point I have had it.  It is far better than it was and I have to fault the pattern.  I have not had this problem with any other pants pattern. I refuse to put any more effort into these pants. They may just hit the donate pile, that, or the gardening pile. 

This design could have been so much simpler and with a much better fit. Every step of the process  seemed to be overcomplicated and never a regard for bulk in what is marketed as a light summer pant. It was a cluster of aggravations.  I would not recommend this pattern and regret the time I spent on it and the loss of my Essex Linen yardage.  The good news is my current project is making me happy again with my sewing. 

Sidebar: If you look at the picture of me with my hands stuck out in the pockets take a gander at my sloping shoulders. This is a new development. Many women of a certain age, particularly with osteoporosis as I have, will start getting a rounded upper back and the need to adjust for that. While that hasn't happened to me, yet anyway, over the past year I have really noticed my shoulders sloping and it became really evident with the lovely dress I am muslin-ing for the wedding I will attend soon.  You will see more on that soon and the solution.  I hope you enjoyed sharing in my trials and tribulations. There are better days a comin'........................Happy Sewing,,,,,,,,,,Bunny

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