2017 Top 5 Hits and Plans

2017 had a lot of successes. Now that I look back at blogged and unblogged garments, I did pretty good.

My biggest undertaking was my daughter’s cosplay outfit. From her original art drawing, to drafting, to sewing, to the fact she is still now wearing the top as a jacket, it’s a 100% win.

Next up has to be my wearable muslin Ginger Jeans. They are worn all the time. I’m hoping to get my velvet pair done before Christmas, however unlikely that may be.

Also worn a lot, in tandem, is my Papercut Aomori in Britex wool blend knit with my latest voile Seamwork Savannah. The rayon version of the Aomori made the Fails List, but the wool version is adored. I need some tight, long sleeve t-shirts to wear under it for layering more in winter.

Of course, my latest B5526 is on the list. It’s not even old enough to be worn a ton, I just know.  I wear the first version, pre-edits, all the time, so one that fits so much better is going to get worn to death. 

Last but not least is my Sew House 7 Burnside Bibs. After over-dying the fabric to make it less HELLO I’M PURPLE, it got worn a ton. It’s a super quality linen from Britex, so was worn farther into fall than I expected, but now it’s just too cold. I can’t wait for linen-weather to return.

Honorable mention goes to the Friday Pattern Company for the Garamond top. I made it in September, and it’s a short-sleeved number with a Kimono-sleeve design (READ: doesn’t layer well), so it just hasn’t been worn much. I’m pretty sure I’ll wear it more come spring/summer, but I just can’t right now. Brrr.

2018 Goals

  • Sewing Community Participation. I’d like to participate in our sewing community more. I started actually using my Pattern Review profile, I’ve volunteered to help out Sewcialists and do what I can there, I signed up for the RTW Fast 2018, and originally had signed up for the #SewMyStyle 2018, but after seeing the issues with inclusivity, I’m going to bow back out. I’m a member of the PMQG, and I’d like to continue even though I don’t quilt as much as I have in the past.
  • The Sewing Basket. I’ve started cutting out a stack of projects and putting them in a project basket to help with the project paralysis that happens between projects. There are some pros and cons so far….like it either needs to be a muslin or a TNT, there’s no real major changes once it’s cut…but on the other hand, I have everything ready to go and no question of what to do next. I’ll see how it works over the next year.
  • More Data. I like the idea of tracking what I make, what patterns used, and how much it is worn as I’ve seen in some 2017 round-ups. I think I’m going to give that a go as well. Any thoughts/advice there is welcome!

I love the year end round-ups. I’ve been going through all the round-ups posted at Crafting a Rainbow. It’s such a good way to get fresh ideas and see other people enjoy sewing.

Las Señoritas from Alexander Henry Fabrics Butterick: B5526

I’m beyond happy with this shirt. I know I’ve had a lot of angst regarding Big 4 patterns, but this Butterick B5526 has been an exception. I first saw it on Lauren’s blog, and ran out and bought it, then re-purchased it…only to find out now I probably could have just used the original purchase…whatevs.

This time I edited the pattern with my Lazy FBA ™ edits: Right now I have a size 16 cut, although I’m confident in Big 4 Ease that I can cut a 14 or even a 12 if I must. Anyway, cut a 16, added an inch in length above the natural waist line to adjust for my height, graded in to a <14 at the waist across all pieces, all of which is no small fete as it’s princess seamed front and back, plus has button plackets, collar stand, and collar. The only piece I haven’t changed yet is the sleeves, and I’m still thinking I need to take those down to at least 14, and decrease the armscye at the armpit. So, keeping the bust at a 16 more than accommodates my bust, and leaving the hips at 16 allows the length to easily glide over my mom-hips.

This is an older Alexander Henry quilting cotton called Las Señoritas in the “antique” colorway. Are you pro team apparel with quilting cottons or against it? I’m all for it – quality quilting cotton is tough and who can deny the Alexander Henry novelty prints?

However, I was only gifted 2 yards by a much more petite friend, and at only 45 inches wide before washing…some tough choices had to be made. I had to split the collar pattern piece, I made sure I got some good top-back placement, but pretty much all other placement had to come out how it came out. There wasn’t going to be any pattern matching with a huge print across princess seams with only 2 yards.

The gingham, which I love, was also out of necessity.

I placed buttons only 2 1/2″ apart, which allows for a lower neckline if I choose, and no way of any boob flashing while gardening, which I fully intend to do in this shirt come spring.

3/4 sleeves also due to necessity, but also because they go with the vintage feel of the print.

I used to be TOWER PLACKET on the cuff or GTFO, but I’m digging the bias placket lately, and I made tiny cuffs, both out of necessity and because they’re so darn cute. I was going to originally make this a rolled-up sleeve-only, but I’m glad I put in the extra effort on the sleeves. I really like them, and I love them with my vintage bakelite.

I’m so happy with this shirt, I have two more cut out.

oh, I forgot to take photos with the good camera – here’s some iPhone shots. The insides! On this shirt, I sort of fake flat-felled seamed it. I overlock all the seams, then stop-stitch at a distance that looks flat-felled.

Sturdy & neat. I pinked & top-stitched my first wearable muslin version, but now that I’ve made my adjustments, I put a bit more effort into it.

Velvet Agnes Hack, and More Velvet

Oh, velvet, how I love thee….let me count the ways. Le sigh. In 1991 or 1992…there was this store called the Big Bang…I bought the most luscious velvet patchwork skirt. My first love was embroidery….on silk, on velvet, on linen… Damn I’m old. When did that happen?

I picked up a remnant of black stretch velvet – the tag said something like 0.8 yards, and of course I know I can squeeze something out of it. I still had the Agnes pattern floating around, so did a quick and dirty re-draw of the neckline, and with utter disregard for nap, cut out and serged a quick shirt. You can’t tell unless you rub me that the nap isn’t going all the same direction, so don’t rub me.

I grabbed this RTW circle skirt out of my teen daughter’s closet to see how it looked dressed up. I dig it. Now, as I type this, I’m wearing it with jeans. Works equally as well.

I think I’m going to need a half dozen more.

I like it paired with my wool and velvet flocked Papercut Patterns Rigel Bomber. I wear this jacket a lot – but it’s really more of a transition-season piece. It’s only lined in silk, and I like it that way- any more bulk and I think I’d look like a wool-covered marshmallow.

I was thinking maybe I need to make a velvet scarf… maybe something not quite this plain – although this red is hardly plain.

Red works ok too with the bomber, but….what about after Christmas? I’m not sure I still want to be sporting RED SCARF.

This wine-brown doesn’t look as nice as I thought it might… Maybe something sort of patchworky? Like Kambriel’s scarves? Or like…I’ve been working on some Victorian crazy quilt – meets – modern quilt blocks ideas:

Ok, maybe I should stick a pin in that for a bit?

I’ve got this lovely striped velveteen, but being there’s about 2 yards of it, I want to make something more substantial out of it…like a vest or…a jacket or…a skirt…but I rarely wear skirts, so, maybe pants?

open to suggestions there…

I really like this fabric too…I’ve been wearing it as a make-shift skirt for Halloween, but I think it’s sad that it only comes out once a year…

Or maybe it’s a little too….Beetlejuice? I feel like I’m getting on the other side of old, though, where I don’t give AF and can comfortably start moving into mildly eccentric….

2017 Fails

I was doing my blog roll reading last night as I do before bed, and I was inspired by Gillian’s Top 5 Misses of 2017.  It’s a good idea to go over the last year to see what worked, what didn’t, and try to improve for the coming year.

My top, #1 miss of 2017 is the Lisette B6168. You guys. I don’t know if it’s the fit/flare I don’t like….the preggo look…or just that I’m rarely a “dress” kinda gal, but I never, NEVER wear this dress. I don’t like the chest, I’ve already been pregnant for reals FOUR TIMES (don’t worry, I’m fixed now), the sleeves are not me….the whole thing is a bust. No pun intended. It is made from yummy Robert Kaufman yarn dyed linen-cotton, so I’m going to cannibalize the fabric, but it’s just a dust collector for now. As an hourglass figure, I’d think I’d like fit/flare, so maybe that’s not it? I really don’t like the neck-strap thing, I really don’t like the faux wrap part, I don’t like the hip-accentuation, I don’t like the cap sleeves making my mom-arms look like BINGO arms – it’s just not for me.

#2 is another dress… again, fit/flare, and some peakaboo action going on that just makes me feel like I’m screaming “I NEED ATTENTION.” It was a pattern test, and while it’s a pretty good pattern, I didn’t drop the bust darts… The pattern designer, after we discussed my size-based muslin, suggested I grade between sizes on a cup-based dress, and while that usually works for me, in fact I call it my Lazy FBA ™, it still assumes I am as short as the base block…and I’m not. So, lesson for me is when using a cup-based pattern, be aware of height distribution and the pattern maker’s base height. The fabric was a gift, the pattern was free, so I’m not calling a total loss, and I still have delusions I’ll pull it out of the closet for layering or something, but honestly, I have not.

This is a good time to point out that Chuleenan of CSews has been keeping a chart of pattern makers and their base height usage. Spoiler: most are 5’6″ – as was this dress.

#3 – I love, love, LOVE these Burnside Bibs overalls by Sew House 7. I wear them all the time in warmer weather. My fail wasn’t the pattern. My fail, and I knew this was a possibility going in, was the color of the linen. This was a tutorial post for Britex, so being I thought I would probably over-dye them when they were done, I went ahead and used a white cotton thread, which worked out great for the tutorial, AND would take dye later if I felt too clownish in the bright purple. I didn’t wait more than a week to over-dye them with some black, and now they’re a nice, dark, drab purple and I love them.

Really love them. Way more my color.

#4 is a fabric issue again. I wear the mustard Britex wool knit version on the left ALL THE TIME. I love it. I accidentally thew it in the dryer once, and it was still fine! Such a quality fabric, feels soft, but substantial, warm but not sweaty…it’s just a great piece. That Britex wool was made for the Aomori. I wear it over the April Rhodes Savannah – which BTW totally shaped up after a wash – the plain cotton voile I used as bias pulled in more after another wash/dry, and it fits like a dream. But I digress. The brown rayon knit on the right? No. It’s a frumptastic disaster. It’s a loss. Another right pattern/wrong fabric victim. Just to prove it to you that I’m not imagining it: in the photo above, the same size pattern was used, and the dress form on the right is a size 12, the one on the left is a size 10. Such a bad fabric.

My final #5 was a tough call. While I’m disappointed in the quality of the Agnes pattern, I haven’t actually thrown it out. Yet. I’ve only worn the green-striped version since, my teen daughter wears the Hawaiian acid trip as loungewear, and the other two will probably collect dust. I have another one cut out, but it has been shoved to the end of a project basket and will likely never get made.

The winner of the #5 slot goes to yet another Big 4 pattern fail, and also happens to be a Vogue pattern. Again.

Menswear patterns are few and far between, and more formal menswear? Well, it’s pretty much only Big 4 that really puts out anything. So when the husband-unit requested a suit jacket, I got a few Vogue patterns thinking, how bad could it be? He wanted a peaked lapel, so I figured I could make Vogue V4988 work.

So. Much. Bad. I’ve already thrown it out and I’m not even done with the coat. I mean, I altered the suit to fit his boxer-shoulders, made lining patterns, absorbed Craftsy classes on tailoring, INTERVIEWED AN ACTUAL SAVILE ROW TAILOR, and still hate it so much I threw the pattern out before I have even finished.

Needless to say, I’m putting myself on a Big 4 moratorium. The exception will be an already-owned Butterick B5526. In fact, I’ve finally added an inch in length to the Butterick pattern across all pieces, graded the waist in a full size across all pieces (more of my Lazy FBA ™), have one 60% done (below) and two more cut out in the project basket (the project basket is new, and I’ll have to address that another time.)  However, as much as I love to peruse the Big 4 patterns, especially the Vogue designer patterns, I just can’t justify the failure rate. Sure, I’ve had a few successes, but not enough to justify the expense. In the long run and in MY experience, a more expensive Indie pattern is more likely to become a TNT (tried and true) pattern than a Big 4. While I haven’t blogged as much as I’ve sewn, my successes are most often Indie patterns.

I hope more people put out Fails and Successes posts – I just love round up posts in general – it’s like everything I love about magazines, and nothing I hate about Pinterest.

Edited to add this is in, uh, solidarity? LOL. This is the brainchild of Crafting A Rainbow. Gillian came up with this, not me. 😀 I just think it’s a great idea.



We need to talk about Agnes. HAHAHA. I have such extreme RBF! I can’t help it!

Seriously, though, Tilly & The Buttons Agnes is a SUPER cute top, right? And if you’re the tiny size with an A-cup, I’m sure it will come out super cute just like on the pattern cover, even if you’re a beginner sewist.

Let’s talk about everyone else though… I bought the pattern during the 20% off Black Friday sale, but it’s been out for a few years. If you’re about to sew this pattern, or you have and you don’t look like the cute girl on the cover, let’s go over it. It has some grading errors, it’s missing some information, and I’m 5’9″-ish, 150 lbs-ish, and in the realm of a 36D – I’m not tiny. So, I’ve made a list of some things I’ve worked out.

1. Elastic markings: The pattern elastic placement on both the bust and the arm is not graded out to larger sizes. If you place the elastic where it says, then your ruching will not go to the seam allowance, and your ruching will start too low.

You need to move the placement in correlation to the size you are cutting.

2. Starting the elastic and the top and stretching down, as per the instructions, will leave you with a flat 1/3″-1/2″ anchor point at the top. Reverse the anchor point FROM the bottom and stretch UP.

Serious grandma boobs happening. The fabric isn’t the best, but also that flat part up top where I anchored the elastic isn’t helping anyone’s boobs, let alone my wide-set D-cups.

3. See that wrinkle on top of my boobs? Normally that indicates I need a full bust adjustment (FBA), however, in the case of the Agnes, the armscye is too long, and the armpits are too low, which also causes that wrinkle. I should take a wedge out of the armscye, but I got lazy/irritated towards the end and just shaved some out some of the pit with my serger. Besides – stretchy fabric should accommodate my bust with my size – so really, on my body, it’s the armscye that is primarily the issue. Looking through Instagram and seeing others’ Agnes tops, I’m not alone. There’s a lot of bust wrinkles across a lot of sizes, and when you see a photo with an arm out stretched, you can see the gap in the armpit. Looking at the last of these green shirt versions, you can see I’ve still got some gap.

4. The direction of stretch on the neckband. This is something I almost didn’t catch because I’ve done so many knit garments, I do a lot of it on autopilot. But going through Instagram and seeing a ton of bagged-out necklines and comments about how they had to remove length in the neckband, I realized a beginner wouldn’t know that you need to reverse the direction of stretch on a neckband.

The neckband is actually graded perfectly IF you know to switch it so the greatest amount of stretch goes the short way, as in image above.

I’ve done my fair share of pattern testing, and I’m mostly disappointed none of the testers caught these issues. This pattern has been out for awhile, but Tilly’s customer base is mostly beginners, and I don’t expect they’d catch these issues, but testers should be experienced enough to go through the steps and pattern pieces with beginners in mind and catch these issues, especially the grading marks.

I also mitered the neckband to make a V at the point of ruching, and did the neckband last, instead of before the ruching as the instructions indicate, but that is a personal preference, so I’m not including that as a fix-it item.

A note about fabrics. I made this top in everything. The top is a cotton/poly sweater knit from Joann’s, the grandma boobs is a poly-something from Mill End, the green/white is a very yummy cotton double-sided knit from Britex, and this monstrosity below is a rayon blend from Girl Charlee – I like getting their weird off-print clearance fabrics for testing:

The pattern works well with various percentages of stretch…the Hawaiian acid trip has the most stretch, then the sweater stripe, then the Grinch green stripe, and last, the grandma metallic gold has the least amount of stretch.

I’m still WAY more in support of indie patterns overall, but this will probably be my last Tilly pattern. I’ve sewn the Miette skirt up a few years ago and wasn’t in love with that one either – so let’s just say they’re not for me. It’s an ok pattern, but for me, it’s no Renfrew. I still wear my stack of Renfrews, including in my last Ginger Jeans post. I’d rather hack the Renfrew to accommodate ruching before I wrestle with the Agnes anymore.

Or maybe there are some other go-to knit shirts out there I need to play with? I understand the Grainline Linden is popular. I might go that route next.