Alice + Olivia Vogue 1214 Top and Leggings pattern

I bought this Vogue designer Alice + Olivia pattern for a top and leggings when it first came out- I think in August.  I thought it was cute, and made it up, but never really felt comfortable with the back godets or with wearing the top/vest as a top without another top underneath it.   I've been struggling with this one for a couple of months now!  About the time that I made it, there was a thread on about "Tights are not Pants", with a plethora of venting about people wearing this type of legging without a top long enough to cover up the rear end area.  This pattern combination was definitely in the grey area.  If I was 20 years younger, I would have worn it, no problem, but to be on the safe side, I decided to remove the flaps in the back, and to not wear the leggings with the vest.
This is the version of this pattern that I ended up with after a few modifications:

What I really liked about the pattern was the curved lines in the back and the in-seam pockets in the front. I could remove the godets without effecting these features, so that's what I did!

So, to show you the changes- here is the original back with the leggings.  I actually don't think that the leggings show too much. They aren't super tight, and they are really very comfy.  The bottom of the leggings are ruched for a nice change from the ordinary.  I made them from a nylon lycra jersey knit and they are great.  I have been wearing them with all kinds of tunic length tops- just not the top/vest in this pattern!

Before removing godets.  With leggings from pattern

After removing godets and stitching down center back belt

After I removed the top snap
Before I removed the top snap.
I used a wool herringbone for the vest. At first, the armhole area was too large, and was showing my bra, so I took up the shoulder seams by about 1/2", angling to nothing at the neck.  The pattern calls for 3 hidden snaps for the front closure.

You can see in the picture on the left with the black skirt what the original version looked like from the front.

After I decided that I wouldn't wear it as a top without a shirt underneath, I took off the top snap, and it lays much nicer and will show a little more of whatever top goes underneath.

This version is pictured with blouse to the right.

In the end, I do recommend this pattern.  Maybe not as the designer intended, depending on your own comfort zone, but the pieces are great separates and will work with lots of things.  I think that is how you have to look at designer patterns- as a starting off point and modify to your own world.

So, what do you think?  Godets versus no godets? Better as a vest or stand alone top?

Vogue 1197 Sandra Betzina Tunic

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  While my daughters and husband braved the Black Friday shopping crowds, I opted to stay in and sew!  I'm not much of a clothes shopper these days- just prefer to the challenge of making my own. 

It has turned cold here in Illinois, down to 21 degrees this morning, so I wanted something warm.  I had 2-1/2 yards of this brushed microfiber knit in a pretty cranberry, that I thought would be fun for the upcoming holiday season.  I liked Vogue 1197 from Sandra Betzina for the long large cowled tunic version.

Vogue 1197 cover
I also like the short sleeve top in this pattern, but will have to save that for next summer.  The leggings are just one pattern piece, and I definitely will be giving them a try too.

I like the huge drapey cowl collar.  But, I would be careful with the fabric choice.  My fabric is very thin, and I think that is good for this style.  This pattern is perfect for thin rayon jerseys.  I think that if you were using a beefier cotton interlock or even a poly jersey, the cowl and the sleeves would get too thick.  The short sleeve version of this shirt shows a modified collar that isn't as big, so if I were to make this pattern with something thicker, I would probably use that collar instead.

Extra Large and Drapey Cowl
Ruched Sleeves
I also liked the extra long ruched sleeves.   Here's the inside where you can see the clear elastic that I zigzagged to the seam allowance to create the ruching.  Take a look at the tissue for these sleeve pieces- they are shaped like a big hook.  Very neat- I never would have imagined the pieces like that, but it sure works!
Sleeve from the inside with clear elastic for the ruching.
Sleeve pattern pieces

I didn't add any length this time, and it seems plenty long enough.  I think I'll probably wear it with a belt to give it a little more shape at the waist, but I LOVE this pattern.  Another winner from Sandra Betzina.

A New Pattern Magazine! My Image

One of the Patternreview members, GlobalMom, picked up a new pattern magazine when she was in Germany, and got several copies to share.  I was lucky enough to get one of her copies.  I fell in love with it as soon as I got it.

The magazine name is My Image, and it is from the Netherlands, but includes instructions in German, English, Dutch and French.  The format is similar to Burda, where you need to trace your design from a pattern map, but this map is much less dense, as there are fewer designs.  This issue has 16 designs- 11 of them are for women and 5 for girls. 

What is really neat about this magazine though, is that they show each of the designs made up several times in lots of different fabric choices, so you can really get a good feel for what is possible for the design.  Their fabrics are gorgeous! 

I can see making up every one of the 11 women's designs,and that is a whole lot more than I would ever make up from a Burda.  Usually, I can see myself making 2-3 things from a Burda issue, (and then actually making 0-1!).  There are a lot of designs for knits, which is great, because I'm much more likely to sew something from a knit than anything else.   There are 2 pants, 2 skirts, 3 tunics which could be dresses, 1 cardigan, 1 coat and 2 jackets- a nice mix of separates.  Here are a couple pictures from the issue:
Wrap dress and jacket pattern
I contacted Martijn at My Image to see if we could get some issues for SewBaby, and they are sending us 20 copies.  So, if you'd like to try it out, you can preorder this issue from this page
Coat pattern
I can't wait to try some of these patterns out!  I'm going to try to sew up some of the designs this weekend, so I'll let you know how the sizing is compared to Burda.  The instructions are very brief, but the designs look pretty straightforward, so I don't think I'll have any trouble.  I'll keep you posted!

Hogwarts School Uniform Skirt

Ready for a day at Hogwarts.
The Real Ginny Weasley
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1, premieres tonight!

My youngest daughter is completely crazy for Harry Potter, and has gotten so crazy that she wants to be a Weasley- Ginny Weasley, to be specific, and go to Hogwarts School.  She's got the whole ginger haired, freckled look going on, and could be a dead ringer for the actress in the movie- if she only had the Hogwart's Uniform!!

So, she ordered a sweater and tie in the Gryffindor House colors from an online site for an outrageous amount of money.  At first they sent her the Slytherin House colors, which just was a horrendous affront to her sensibilities, but they exchanged it at no charge, next day air.  They know you don't want to tick off Ginny Weasley!

The price of this get-up was so high that they should have included a skirt and blouse, but they didn't.  We checked every major store for a pleated grey skirt, and just couldn't find anything close to what she needed to complete the look.

So, to my pattern stash we went to find the perfect pleated skirt pattern.
Line Drawing for Burda 8-07-116

Burda's Plaid Version
We liked this one from the August 2007 issue, style 116.  Their picture is in a red plaid which shows off the bias cut panels better.

Close-up of Front
It's got a faced waist instead of a waistband, and pleats both in the front and back.  It's got really nice lines to it, and sewed up beautifully. 
Close up of Back
We made the size 38, and it fit her like a glove.  I used a really primo cut of stretch wool for this skirt, so she better wear it more than just for dressing up as Ginny Weasley!  She's hosting a Harry Potter Christmas party, so the whole outfit will get worn again in a few weeks.

After a long day of witchcraft.
When she tried on the whole ensemble, she was jumping up and down with delight, "I feel like I'm at Hogwarts!  I feel like I'm at Hogwarts!".  How old is she?  Seventeen.  But Harry Potter will do that to you. :)

Vogue 8522 Cropped Jacket- A Near Wadder

I wanted to make a unstructured jacket out of this gorgeous boucle to go with my Plum Tencel dress.  The problem I've had with boucle in the past though is that it that the more seams the garment has, the more likely the boucle will unravel, so I wanted a pattern that had a minimum of seams.  I found Vogue 8522 in my pattern stash, that I thought looked like it could fit the bill.  I decided to make View B which is cropped with a shawl collar.

The jacket was super easy to make.  The button in the front is just for show.  It really closes with a snap.  It is lined edge to edge, so you there is no fussing with hemming both the lining and the outer layers.

It's really comfy, but alas, it doesn't do ANYTHING for my figure type.  I think you need a waspy waist to show off this short jacket.  It just looks kind of big and baggy and makes my shoulders just slope.    But lesson learned. 

If I had ONLY made View C- the longer one with the pointed collar, I think I would have liked it a ton better. 

You can see in the full length view that the proportions just are off on me.  I'm not sure why, but I've tried it with a top and pants combination too, and it wasn't any better. 

So, I'm calling it a near-wadder.  (A wadder is a failed sewing project that ends up in the trash can).  I will keep it to wear around the house when I'm chilly, because I really do love the boucle.

I've had plenty of wadders- mostly due to wrong fabric choice for the pattern or wrong pattern choice for my body, but I still like to try new things and take the risk, because you just never know!

Cynthia Rowley Dress Simplicity 2305

Pattern Description:
Simplicity 2305 includes Misses Dresses and Skirts in two lengths and purse by Cynthia Rowley. I made the dress which includes a waistband and a side zipper that you can't really see in the picture.

Pattern Sizing: Misses sizes 4-20.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? I made view A with the higher neckline, and it does look like the illustration. The one on the model has a much more open neckline, and I wish that I had made that view instead.

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes, this is a really easy pattern to make. The neckline is bound with a self bias binding.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I was intrigued by the quilted sleeves. The sleeve band has a layer of flannel in the middle that you machine quilt to give it more dimension. This sleeve hits me right where the elbow bends. I thought that it might be uncomfortable, but it isn't. I cut this part larger just because I knew it would drive me crazy if it was too tight.  

I'm still not sure that I'm crazy about the look of it. I mean, who wants their arms to look fatter? But I do like the texture that the quilting gives it, and it is nice and warm. If you didn't want to add any bulk, you could use just a layer of thin interfacing instead.   You just wouldn't get as much of the dimensional effect.

Fabric Used: Plum Tencel. This is a wonderful fabric with a beautiful drape. It feels like a heavy weight silk.  In fact, I do have some 4 ply silk, and I would say that I like this better!  

I did some research on it, and it is apparently a type of rayon, but the manufacturing process is more environmentally friendly. Here's some more info on it.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: I lengthened the dress a couple of inches. I didn't do a Full Bust Adjustment because the flat pattern measurements seemed to include enough ease for me. From looking at the photo though, I do think I needed it. It would have looked better with more gathers.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I do like the dress, and have gotten a number of compliments on it. It fits that need for a casual comfy dress that you can wear to places where you don't want to be too dressed up or dressed down.  

The belt is from Fossil.  I just discovered that they made belts- some really neat ones too.  I bought this one at a store, and within a couple of weeks, I got the Fossil catalog in the mail (I didn't ask for it!).  Is that a coincidence, or are stores possibly selling our information to particular manufacturers?????  I don't mind, as I really like their catalog, but I'm just wondering......Anyway, this dress needs a simple dress to frame it well, so I'm happy to have this dress to work with it.

Double Duty Bag pattern

One of our most popular patterns at SewBaby is our Double Duty Bag.  When designing this pattern, we wanted a pattern that could function as a diaper bag, but still be usable later on for any reason.  It is completely reversible, has pockets, and is very easy to sew. 

One of our customers, Cathy from Washington State, shared these photos of her Double Duty bags and said this:

I have also attached some photos of the Double Duty Bags that I made. I love that they squish into just about anywhere, unlike the hard-sided kind. Everybody I have given one to just loves them. I have made them for all kinds of gifts, not just as diaper bags. Thanks for such great patterns. Keep them coming!
 The bags with the school/alphabet theme went to the staff at my daughter's auditory therapy unit as a "ThankYou" for all of their hard work. These also work great as a tote for groceries. Grandma uses hers for her laptop and my sister fills it up with all of her knitting.
 21 completed bags! I think I have 2 left.
 This one is ALL MINE!
 Thanks, Cathy for sharing these photos- what fun!  They are inspirational! 


Ottobre Softshell Hoodie Pattern

I started running last May using the Couch Potato to 5K plan.  If you have any desire at all to run, try this plan- it works!  I really look forward to running, and I never, EVER thought I would say that!

But going into my first winter running has me a bit scared about staying warm. I live on the edge of town, and the winds can get pretty strong.  Ready to wear running jackets for winter are really pricey if you get high tech fabrics.  So, when I saw this hooded jacket (named Ginger) in the latest Ottobre Pattern magazine I thought that with the right fabric choice, this could be a great running jacket for winter.

Then, with luck, I found some high tech wind block fleece for $2/yard.  This fabric was light blue on one side and plum on the other.  Kind of a weird color combo, but I was only planning on using one side on the outside, so it didn't matter.  You also need 4 zippers, and a lightweight poplin fabric for the inside pocket.

The jacket has a kangaroo pocket on the inside, perfect for holding my keys and cell phone.  The pockets are zipped, so I don't need to worry about things falling out of my pockets while I'm running.
There are also 2 zippers in the raglan sleeve seams by the neck.  This is great for unzipping when you want to cool down after your run.  Normally, zippers are one of my least favorite things to do in sewing, and this was no exception.  But I have to admit, that they were worth the effort in terms of functionality of the garment.

The original hood turned out to be too small for me.  Luckily, I had enough fabric left to cut a new hood and facing.  I added 2 inches to the height and that was probably a little much, but now I can pull it down over my face if it is snowing.  I think that the original pattern would have worked if my fabric had been stretchier, but my fleece just has a tad bit of stretch to it.

The temperature dropped into the 30's last week with winds, so I got a chance to try it out, and it worked great!  I was warm and not bothered by the winds at all.   I will definitely make this again if I can find some more windblock fleece at a good price. 

Here I am ready to go for a run.  The leggings are made from Dry-Flex- another great sport fabric.  I do recommend this pattern, but try on the hood before you sew it to your jacket, just in case:)

Double Layer Knit Tops McCalls 6244

Wow, it's been almost a month since my last blog post!  I have been sewing, just not posting, so I'll have lots of posts coming up.  I've had a couple of sheer knits in my stash for a few years, and never knew what to do with them, so when I saw this double layer top pattern from McCalls, I couldn't wait to sew it up with my sheer knits!  This is McCalls 6244, and it includes 4 different tops and two vests that you can mix and match to wear however you want.  I really want to make the vest too, but I haven't decided on a fabric for it.

My first try was a dark brown matte jersey for the underlayer long sleeve top, with a snakeskin sheer layer tank over it.  I made the medium straight from the envelope and only lengthened the sleeves by about an inch.  Otherwise, no changes to the pattern, and it fits great. 

The tops are finished by narrow hemming all of the raw edges.  This sounds simple, but you really do need a couple of things to make it look good.  The first is a stretch needle.  I used a 75/11 stretch needle from Schmetz.  Otherwise, you will likely have skipped stitches if you use a regular sewing machine needle. 

The second thing is that I used my walking foot.  This evens out the pressure on the top and bottom, so that you don't end up with wavy hems. I can see in the plum tank that I do have a little bit of a wave to the hem, but I can guarantee you it would have been much wavier without the walking foot.   I resisted getting a walking foot for years, as they are pricey- but it was worth every penny, because without it, narrow hemming knits like this would be an exercise in frustration.

My second try was a lavender matte jersey for the underlayer with a plum sheer layer tank over it.  I absolutely love this combination.  The neck is open, so if you live in a cool climate like I do, a scarf can keep you warm.  I combined it with organic jersey cotton leggings that I made, and it is really comfy! 

I highly recommend this pattern, as it is super easy, super stylish and super comfy.  The tank just takes 1 yard, and the long sleeve top takes 1-5/8 yards of fabric.  I think it should look good on just about any figure type, so there is nothing to dislike.  Thanks McCalls!  You made my day.