Silk Tops from Connie Crawford Butterick 6187

It's official.  I'm a Connie Crawford convert!  Have you tried sewing with any of Connie Crawford's patterns from Butterick? They are advertised as modern, ready to wear sizing.  I had tried one many, many years ago, and it was not a success for me, so I didn't buy any more until I saw this one, Butterick 6187.  I'm so happy that I gave it another try, as this one fit so well!

If you are new to sewing, you may be very surprised by the sizing of patterns by the major pattern companies.  They don't usually correspond to ready to wear sizing.  So, if you usually buy a size 12, you would most likely need to make two or even thee sizes larger in a pattern. As someone who has taught sewing to beginners, I can tell you that this is really a huge hurdle for people to get over.   I tell people to not worry about it, that it is just a number, but I know that for so many people, this is not easy.

Even though I've personally come to terms with this issue long ago, I often struggle with patterns for woven fabrics because I need so many adjustments from the standard draft - a full bust adjustment, full bicep adjustment, round back adjustment, forward shoulder adjustment, plus length.  So many adjustments!  That's probably why I choose knit patterns more often, as a stretchy fabric will let you get away with not making these adjustments for the most part.

And I think that I'm really pretty much your average shape, so I'm guessing that I'm hardly alone in needing these things. So, when a pattern says that it uses ready to wear sizing, I'm giddy at the thought of being able to cut and sew something that fits right from the envelope!

 You can see from the sleeve pattern that this really is a different draft.  I am comparing it to a standard sleeve piece from a different pattern for woven fabric. Connie's draft is on top, and the standard draft is on the bottom.  If I put the shoulder markings together, you can see quite a difference between the two.

I do fall right in between the medium and large in the size chart, but I much prefer a looser fit, so I went with the large.  In fact, I'm sure that some people reading this will think that this top is too large on me, but if you look at the critical area of the neck, shoulders, and bust, you can see what I'm happy about.  The ease around the midsection is more of a personal preference.  I'm blessed with an ample tummy, but I prefer to not advertise that fact.  Here is is from the back:

The pattern is really pretty straight forward.  Here is a view from the inside so that you can see how the facing is constructed.  It is sewn into the sleeve seam which helps to keep it from flopping out. 

Fabric Mart had some beautiful silk crepe de chine that I was salivating to try.  Since we are going into fall, I wanted something in a deep rich shade, and couldn’t decide between a deep periwinkle and a deep teal, so I ordered two yards of each. 

The teal was sandwashed, whereas the periwinkle wasn’t, so I was curious as to what the difference would be.  While I was waiting for it, I went to the J.Crew outlet that is nearby because I knew that Fabric Mart also carried some polyester crepe de chine from J. Crew, and I wanted to compare it to see if there was enough difference in quality to warrant the price difference.  The polyester version sells for $6-$7 per yard, whereas the silk version sells for $20-$25 per yard.  

When I got my order, I could definitely tell the difference from sandwashed and non-sandwashed, and the polyester type.  The sandwashed silk crepe de chine had much more texture- a little pebbly and seemed heavier.  The non-sandwashed was smoother, but both of the silk fabrics still had an interesting way of absorbing and reflecting light.  Compared to the polyester crepe de chine, they were softer and richer feeling.  It's hard to capture this quality in photos, but here is one that kind of shows the light reflection:

Working with the crepe de chine was easy- it didn’t roll, took pressing well, and didn’t stretch out of shape.  However, it does have some downsides- wherever you touch it, it will wrinkle, and you cannot hide any mistakes that you make with it- little tucks or waves show up prominently.  I’m generally not a very precise sewer, but with this, I had to take my time, and be super careful.  

It also does show water spots.  I started out using steam in my iron, but then saw a couple of places where the water had dripped from the iron, that were still visible even after it had dried, so I turned off the steam for the rest of the way.  Working with a print would have been way easier.  I am a little concerned about perspiration stains with these, so I found this interesting article on line about how to get perspiration stains out of silk which uses cream of tartar and aspirins of all things!

To transition these to cool weather, I tried them on with a few cardigans. This cardigan is using a Fabric Mart knit from last year that had a Missoni type weave. 

I didn't make the grey cardigan below, but you might recognize the fabric that I used from my pants in this picture from this post about the convertible skirt.

I'm excited that I learned about a new fabric, and got some great new tops in the process.  I will probably be hand washing these in cold water with a drop of baby shampoo for future care. 

If you are thinking about trying silk crepe de chine, I would recommend starting with a simple design, and go slowly.  Definitely fit your pattern by making a muslin out of a cheaper fabric before you start sewing with the real stuff.  When you are sewing with it, make sure your sewing area is clean and dry so that no spots show up inadvertently.

The Sandra Betzina Today's Fit patterns from Vogue also have a different draft, and I have been very happy with them as well.  I think that Marcy Tilton does as well, but I'm not quite certain.  Do you know of any other designers with the major pattern companies that are using different sizing?  Such as Mimi G or Lisette?  I haven't tried those yet.

Have you sewn any of the Connie Crawford sewing patterns?  What was your experience?  I've bought several more now, so I hope that they are all as good as this one!

Happy Sewing!


First projects from Ottobre Woman Fall 2015

 I've had my fall issue of Ottobre Woman in hand for a little over a week, and have just gotten my feet wet with the first two designs, so I had to share them with you!  The first is design 1, the Twig Jersey Dress.  

I had this very interesting fabric that I bought last year- it is a knit with an ombre tie dye design that goes from selvage to selvage.  It has the most beautiful texture, like a crinkled gauze but not thin at all- in fact it is a double knit.

 I shortened the sleeves, and added 4 inches to the hem, as their original version would be 33-1/2" long, and I knew that would be obscenely short on me.  The fit in the neck and shoulders was perfect, as usual, but I did find the sleeves to be a little snug.  On my next version, I'll add a little extra there.  Here's a close-up of the neckline:

I left out the pockets on this one, because the fabric really is pretty thick, and I didn't really want to break up the design.  But, I do plan on making another with the pockets next time.

For my next project, I decided to go to design #2, the Classic or Modern Short Sleeve Sweater.

 I chose to do the modern version which leaves a raw edge on the neck and sleeve bands.  The instructions tell you to do some decorative stitching around the neckline, but I opted out of that.  Here is my first version:

and here is version #2.  Both fabrics are very lightweight sweater knits in 1 yard cuts that I found at Hancock's flat fold apparel fabric table.  I think that I paid around $3.50/yd for each of them, so this is a quick and cheap project!  I plan on wearing them either with black or charcoal grey bottoms for work.

Here's a closeup of the raw edge on the striped knit:

 and also on the sleeves:

I'm predicting that these edges will curl a little more after they've been washed the first time.

I'm working on putting together a plum/grey/pink wardrobe for fall, so I've got lots more planned to go with these pieces.

Have any of you made anything yet from this issue?  If you would like a copy, we still have a few left at SewBaby here. It is a fun one!  I can't wait to get some more designs sewn up.

Happy Sewing!


Ottobre Woman Fall Winter 2015 Issue

It's mid-August and that means it's time for a new issue of Ottobre Woman pattern magazine!  I can hardly wait.  Our SewBaby shipment has been shipped from Finland, and it is due in on 8/17, so it won't be long!  As usual the photos from the issue have me salivating like a cat awaiting a dish of cream.  

Here's a peek of what is inside this issue.  This is probably my favorite.  I love the curved piecing and the pocket openings are darling.  I'm thinking about what fabrics I could use for this one:

This one is adorable too.  I already know what colors I'm going to do mine in - a deep teal, a light aqua and a cream.   Doesn't that sound delicious?

 These two look like the same dress with different sleeves and neckline options.  Just a very nice basic dress that can show off some pretty fabric easily.

These are some nice active wear/ leisure wear patterns:

And for those who like more fitted options, these look like some great building blocks for a work wardrobe.

And there are more!  Here are the line drawings from this issue:
I made about 10 items from the Spring issue and hope that I can do so with this issue as well.   What I did to motivate myself was I printed out these line drawings, and then cut snips of fabric from my stash and taped it next to the illustration that I thought would work best with it.  Then I just went one by one until I had all 10 items sewn.  

If you'd like to order this copy, you can do so here.  We will mail them to customers as soon as our shipment arrives!

Also, I wanted to encourage anyone that is looking for a sewing challenge to enter the Fabric Mart Fashionista Challenge 3.  I participated last year, and it was lots of fun and definitely challenging.  It's starting soon, so check out the link and see if you'd like to be a contestant.

What do you think of this issue?  Any else as excited as I am?
Happy Sewing!