Mock Knit Fabric Blouse

This isn’t just a flat print of a knit. This material actually has a raised profile; it has the illusion of knitted ribbon!

shirt collar

Here is the Butterick B5218 blouse. I used solid black broadcloth on the collar to accent the main, mock-knit fabric.

Interesting, but a real challenge to send through my sewing machine. Consequently, I ended up hand-sewing some bits, such as pockets and sleeve hems. I just didn’t like the deep impression the machine stitches left on the material’s delightful terrain.

Once satisfied that the fabric would not fray, I left the seams unfinished (no worries). Unfortunately, the needle jammed and skipped, so I placed stiff, tearaway tissue on both top (against presser foot) and bottom (against feed dogs) and that sent it through smoothly.

pattern marks in coloured tape

It was impossible to chalk in pattern marks on such bumpy fabric. I ended up cutting shapes from painter’s tape instead.

In places where I did choose to hand-sew, for instance the sleeve hems, I marked a very straight path with pins, 5/8″ from edge, and followed that with close, even stitches. The pockets were also hand sewn in place. That was a longer path than the shoulders, but required less precision and the stitch length was longer. (Unless you plan to keep sand in your pockets, the seams need not be finished to micro-perfection.)

alter pattern shoulder

I narrowed the drop shoulders by cutting both front and back pieces diagonally from shoulder notch down to the armhole notch. Then I lapped the slice at shoulder.

In the end, I like the drape of my final blouse. All-season suitable, it combines a wintry, knitted look, minus the bulk.

Amount of fabric required for short-sleeve Butterick B5218: one and a half yards main colour, and 1/3 yard of contrasting black broadcloth for collar.

Amount of fabric required for short-sleeve Butterick B5218: one and a half yards main colour, and 1/3 yard of contrasting black broadcloth for collar.

Easy Sleeveless Blouse with Facings

A great way to welcome spring is to make something in a floral print. Hello colour, so long snow! I found a red, green & blue cotton/linen blend for this sweet sleeveless blouse that sews up in four, easy pieces. Front, back and facings for both.blouse outdoor_w_hoseFacings are usually just a couple of inches wide and sit inside the garment along the neckline and armholes to make the edges neat and sturdy.
Normally they are a mirror image of the pattern contours they line, as in the photo below.blouse_with_facingsOne thing I like about good old burda patterns is they fit without too much pattern tweaking. Here’s how burda 8109 sews up in 6 simple steps.

  1. Sew darts in front.
  2. Join front and back together at left side.
  3. Install a separating zipper up the right side.
  4. Sew the front facing to the back facing at side.
    Install the facing by sewing along neck edge and along both armholes. Even if you have to adjust the seam allowance width here, be sure to keep all four un stitched shoulder edges (2 fronts and two backs) a consistent width because you must mate these up to make smooth armholes and neckline.
  5. Flip the facing to the inside.
  6. Sew up bottom hem.
f you modify the shape of your front or back in a pattern, remember to make the same changes to their facing pattern pieces.

If you modify the shape of your pattern front, remember to make the same changes to their facing pattern pieces.

Back in January, I determined to make a dent in my (big) stash of unopened patterns. To date, I have tackled three including this last one. Hurrah for me! So when my local fabric shop e-mailed me a 3-for-1 coupon for Butterick and Vogue, I figured I earned it and added a new trio to the still-high heap.

Ah, bliss! Sew much to sew.

Amount fabric required: 
one and a half yard off a 45″ wide bolt.

Jacob’s Ladder Wall Quilt

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I sprinkled in a few green squares for interest and flipped the light/dark order at bottom as a nod to imperfection.

Jacob’s Ladder packs a graphic punch in monotone, the light and dark squares advance and recede in a classic, crooked zig-zag.

The simple pattern is a great choice for a novice like me. All I had to do was arrange my two-inch squares and four-inch triangles in the correct sequence to create the ladder.

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I got my instructions for this 20″ x 20″ quilt sample from Marilyn Walker’s book Ontario Heritage Quilts, which I enjoyed for her tribute to talented early quilters and for the imaginative photographs. Good tips on piecing are included at the back.

I chose to hand quilt, which requires patience and commitment.

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For future generations, include a patch on the back with the name of the quilter, the year it was completed and the pattern used.

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Before your first quilt is finished, you will be planning the colours for the next.

Hand stitches create a delicate broken line of thread, much softer in appearance than the precision of a machine stitch (see upper right diamond in photo).

I plan to hang my finished square on the staircase wall. All who ascend and descend can imagine moving between the up-down-up steps of Jacob’s ladder.

Amount fabric required:  

  • One half yard burgundy
  • One half yard white.
  • Batting  to fit 20″ x 20″
  • One yard broadcloth for backing, which is wrapped around the edges to form mock binding.

McCalls M6613 Shirt with Yoke

Pattern from the heap

McCall’s M6613 sat in my heap of unopened patterns for too long. I’m glad I finally made this as it is really comfortable and easy to make.

I'll wear the short sleeves rolled up, otherwise it looks like I'm wearing a man's shirt.

I’ll wear the short sleeves rolled up, otherwise it looks like I’m wearing a man’s shirt.

Because this is really a fitted man’s shirt design, you may want to customize it a bit so it suits a woman’s wardrobe. For my shape I added front bust darts, and I probably could have narrowed the back, now that I look at it on.

Wear it alone in a crisp broadcloth, or wear it open in front over a tank top in a lightweight cotton or sheer. Definitely intended for comfort, it’s a terrific wardrobe addition for physical folks who work in shops, factories, studios, gardens etc.

Mix and match the elements you like most. I chose the curved bottom hem, which I feel is more feminine, and took time to top-stitch detail on the pockets. You get a centre pleat on the back.

Mix and match the elements you like most. I chose the curved bottom hem, which I feel is more feminine, and took time to top-stitch detail on the pockets. You get a pleat on the centre back.

I also sewed my buttons closer together up the front to prevent any gaping gaps. Not likely, however, as the shirt is roomy.

This pattern includes excellent instructions on how to achieve a neat, curved hem.

This pattern includes excellent instructions on how to achieve a neat, curved hem.

Sewing Pattern Challenge 2014

Over the past fifteen years or so, I’ve bought dozens of patterns. Here they are, piled on my work table, and the hard fact is, half are untouched. Never been cut, never made it to outfits. A stash of unfinished business I vow to tend to in 2014.

32 fine patterns, 50% unmade

32 fine patterns, 50% unmade

Sew Two Different Versions 

Of the patterns I have sewn, most have only been made into a single garment. A select few were made more than that, but I imagine now the untapped potential of each retired pattern.

Finding time to finish an outfit is the biggest hurdle for me. So, I’m taking some steps to improve efficiency. When I start a new pattern, I’ll make bristol card templates of the tissue patterns. Tracing these with pen or chalk will save pinning time and I can skip the re-folding hassle. If I can make a couple of items at the same time, I’ll be further ahead, faster…We’ll see how this goes.

Many of my pals have enormous wardrobes. Frankly, I am awestruck at the abundance in their closets. My own fits easily on a two-foot rack, in a few drawers, and in a suitcase under my bed. A healthy portion are “me-mades”, but I have room for more.

Shirt front, back and yoke templates in cardboard should save me pinning time and spare me the hassle of refolding tissue patterns.

Shirt front, back and yoke templates in cardboard should save me pinning time and spare me the hassle of refolding tissue patterns.

Branching out into the unfamiliar

The other thing I want to do in 2014 is push my sewing comfort zone. I have favourite things I like to make, but it’s time to venture into new territory and tackle things I normally don’t. Reading sewing blogs has totally inspired me. So in 2014, I hope to explore the appeal of quilting, home decor, and maybe even take stab at carpet-making and embroidery.

So there it is. I’m not the only sewing blogist with new year’s resolutions. Better sewers than I have gone on record to dig into great stockpiles of fabric, or stretch their skill levels. As an excited sewista, I probably plan more projects than are reasonable. But my track record is to finish half, so I better dream BIG!…. :)

P.S. This totally does NOT mean I won’t buy any new patterns in 2014! 

 

 

 

Sewing with faux fur

Lots of Possibilities with Fake Fur

It seems everyone is spicing up their wardrobe this season with fun fur. It’s not a difficult textile to work with, so go ahead and experiment. Maybe choose an imitation shearling to trim your leg-warmers, or put a long-hair accent pom-pom on your scarf, or make fuzzy ear muffs. Continue reading