Zsalya Top

Pattern: KateNRose's Zsalya Top and Dress from Perfect Pattern Parcel #6 
Fabric: 2 1/2 yds swiss dot
Cost: $10

Meet my new Zsalya Top, part of this month's Perfect Pattern Parcel! 

Ok, I know month-long blog hops can be annoying, especially when your turn ends up near the end of one. But the Perfect Pattern Parcel is so cool I think it deserves the extra attention. 

Why, you ask? The parcel contains three of my absolute favorite things: sewing, indie designers, and a way to contribute to a non-profit! The first two are pretty self-explanatory on a sewing blog, but that last one was the clincher for me. As many of you know, I work in the nonprofit world doing research and evaluation, and before that I worked in education. So I KNOW the difference that even just a few bucks can make towards a good program. To date, the Perfect Pattern Parcel has raised $12,000 for Donors Choose, a site that allows teachers to solicit donations for their classroom projects. The nonprofit itself has also been rated 4 out of 4 stars on Charity Navigator, with over 97% of donations going straight to the programs you fund (the data nerd side of me wanted to know...).

How it works: At checkout, you pick your price for the parcel, and how much you want to contribute to Donors Choose. Opt to spend more than $35 ($5/pattern) and you get the Odette Dress pattern as a bonus! So, if you were thinking of buying some of these patterns anyway, or want to give these new designers a go, this is definitely a good way to do it! Your last day to buy the PPP is Oct 31. 

That said, the parcel also contains a lot of great patterns. You've already seen my Odette Dress and Hudson Pants featured here (there's a good chance I'm curled up in my Hudson pants as I write this). The Zsalya Top and Dress was actually another pattern I had had my eye on for a while, so I was quite pleased to find it included here as well. The Parcel also includes the Syrah SkirtBronte Top and Julia Cardigan

Pattern Parcel #6: Choose your own price and support DonorsChoose. Win/win

The Zsalya Top appealed to me because it is a great woven top with a bit of added visual interest. The neckline is especially cool, expanding to get on and off your head without closures but lying close to your neck when worn. The gathers and design lines make for a really great, feminine blouse I can wear to work or out in the park. 

I originally made up the top with full sleeves, but the amount of fabric turned out to be a bit overwhelming for my frame. (Mr. Made said I looked like a wench. Brutal!) I hacked the sleeves off into little cap sleeves and took it in under the arms a bit, and I like the result much better now!

The hardest part for me really was choosing the fabric. Even though I had seen it made up and studied the design lines, the different shape made it hard for me to visualize what it would look like in certain fabrics.  I originally had my heart set on a floral like the pattern envelope, but couldn't find one that suited my tastes (maybe because we're headed into Fall and stores are no longer stocking Spring florals?). After what was probably way too much deliberation, I ended up buying an expensive lacy floral, changing my mind, and picking up some cheap swiss dot. The result is a very airy summer top, which I like very much!

Now that it is made up, I can also picture several more fabric combos. I think my next one will have a printed yoke and plain body. I love Melizza's bohemian color-blocked dress (so much so that I have mentioned it twice now), and could also see myself making up a lacy version.

The one fit change I will make for next time will be to adjust the curve on the yoke. As is, it is made for someone with a fuller chest than I, so right now it tends to gape a bit, which you can see in the pictures. In this case, the curve of the yoke functions to provide shaping much as darts would. I had a hard time envisioning how to change it before making up my first version, but now that I have I know I need to straighten the curve to reduce some of the extra space.

As with most indie designers, I also enjoyed the detailed instructions. A few of the steps even include two ways of doing things: the "clean and fancy method" or the "quick and dirty method." I, of course, chose the quick and dirty route because, let's be real, it was a miracle that I had even bothered to look at the instructions at all. That said, the garment is still rather nicely finished inside, with serged edges and even some french seams. I cut my seam allowances at a wider 5/8" to give me some room to play around with finishes.

If you are interested in giving this parcel a try, you can find it here by Oct 31:

Pattern Parcel #6: Choose your own price and support DonorsChoose. Win/win

TBT: Jade Skirt

Pattern: Paprkia Pattern's Jade Skirt
Fabric: 1 yd knit jersey for shell, 1 yd knit jersey for lining
Cost: $10

Today I have a #ThrowBackThursday for you! Last summer I had the opportunity to test out Lisa's very first pattern, the Jade Skirt. It has made the rounds over the last few years as the folded mini (see Dixie DIY's version from last year). Lisa has been developing it off and on as she's traveled the countryside in her camper van (how bohemian!), and after all this time it is finally a fully-graded pattern available for sale! (At a name-your-price rate, too.)

Because I made up the pattern last year, for today's post I dug deep into my drafts and found these year-old pics from the archives. They were taken on my patio, before Mr. Made convinced me he should be my photographer, and before I got my new camera. While it is grainy, that curly 'do is making me re-think growing out my bangs!

Here's the (unpublished) post about the pattern that I wrote up last year: 

I have previously written about how much I love Lisa's innovative style, and watched as she took on Pattern Magic books, fabric printing, and her own designs. That is why it's exciting to get in her mind with her first pattern, the Jade SkirtPaprika Patterns are marketed as 'clean and clever' sewing patterns, and I've also heard Lisa describe them as "patterns for edgier designs." All these elements are nicely incorporated into this skirt, which has a lot of visual interest and construction, yet overall is very sleek and clean.

Putting the pattern together was definitely a bit like doing origami or a Japanese drape drape book. I liked having a project where you take your time with the construction, and it reaally pays off! I recommend doing it in a medium-weight jersey, as my tissue weight ended being hard to fold and keep in place. After all the folding though, you pretty much just sew up the side seams and you're good to go! 

While the solid colored versions look amazing, I made mine up in stripes. The print obscures the folds a little, but I think it makes for a really interesting effect. This is the midi length version, which is perfect for me.

Overall, the pattern was a joy to construct, with amazingly detailed and helpful instructions that lead you through a variety of different construction options. Hop on over to her site to name your price and pick up your own copy!

A Shirt for My Father

Pattern: BurdaSyle's Men's Shirt 7045
Fabric: cotton
Cost: $30

I have childhood memories of my dad wearing shirts that my mother had made him. I don't think she's sewn much for him in recent years, but when they were dating she made him some wonderful shirts and pullover sweaters. Some of them he still wears to this day, nearly thirty years later.

For his birthday, I was inspired by the longevity of my mom's creations to make my dad something, too. He often has trouble finding shirts with the right fit through his shoulders, so I stole one of his garments that fit him well and used BurdaSyle 7045 to make one of my own.

The print was one I had long admired in the fabric store, and reminded me of the kind of things my mom made. It's beautifully thick yet soft, with a few natural imperfections in the cotton. At first Mr. Made wondered if the print was too crazy, but once the shirt came together it all seemed to work. I think the one change I would make would be to add more buttons down the front, and possibly make it a bit bigger at the side seams.

My dad has been wonderfully gracious, and wore it when he came up to visit the other day (I stole a pic of him as he met our newest family member.) He says the fit is great, and that my mom definitely noticed the pattern matching ;) I took my time with this project, but it all came together rather quickly, and I would certainly consider making him one again!

Blue and Gold

His pattern: BurdaSyle's Men's Shirt 7045
Her pattern: Grainline's Archer
Fabric: 4 yds collegiate cotton broadcloth
Cost: $36 for two shirts

Sometimes you get an idea in your head that is a bit too wacky to be real. The danger when you sew, however, is that you have the ability to make those wacky ideas a reality. Such was the case when I decided that Mr. Made and I needed some new collegiate gear from our alma mater. And that the gear in question should be matching Hawaiian-style shirts plastered in our school's logo.

You can actually buy this fabric for a lot of schools online, and when I saw our logo I knew there was nothing stopping me. Well, except that it sold out and I had to wait a few more months for it to be back in stock. Apparently I am not the only one with this wacky idea?!

The shirts themselves sewed up rather quickly, and were excellent practice for doing a collar stand and button band. The two patterns are ones I actually plan to use a lot: Grainline Archer and BurdaSyle Men's 7045 (printed pattern sold through Simplicity). I'd made each up once before, and it was nice to have the chance to fine-tune some of the construction.

I actually really like the BurdaStyle pattern: the fit is good, the directions are clear (unlike their online patterns), and the construction is simple and straightforward. The only thing I had issues with was that the back of the shirt doesn't match up very well with the yoke: both times I have made it the back piece has been a bit too wide, yet the pattern does not instruct you to ease it in. On the whole though, it's a great classic pattern to have.

I hardly need to tell you about Grainline's Archer as it seems just about everyone has sewn it up. One change I did make, however, was to extend the center front on both sides to create a fold-over placket. Sewing on a separate placket seemed like unnecessary extra work to me, and since the men's pattern did it this way I figured I wouldn't be breaking too many rules.

Print matching with this one was a bit ridiculous. I made sure that the print was lined up vertically and pretty much left it at that. I wish I had made the fronts match a bit better, but it was difficult to work out after they had been folded under twice. That, and I didn't have too much extra fabric. On the whole though, not bad for a novelty item!

Once made, I have to say that they look ridiculously bright in my living room. All that blue and gold together combined with the squares and logos had even me questioning this wacky idea. Once in the stadium, however, they hardly stick out, providing just enough uniqueness to be noteworthy.

I wish I could say our shirts served as a good luck charm, but the Bears did not do too well. I'm not sure even the wackiest outfit could save them at this point... At least the shirts were a crowd-pleaser! 

Bonnie Top

Pattern: Bluegingerdoll's Bonnie Knit Top
Fabric: panel-printed knit
Cost: $30

Indie designers must have been working overtime this summer because I have had so many new patterns to share with you lately! The latest is Bluegingerdoll's Bonnie, a vintage-inspired sweater top made from knit fabric. I was a pattern tester for this one, and sewed it up in one evening!

Unlike some of the other knit tops on the market right now, what I really love about this pattern is all the options. The collar can be cut as crew-neck, scooped, or boat-neck. The sleeves have options for full, three-quarter, or flutter sleeves. And the length can be made cropped with a waistband or hip-length. Abby has really outdone herself this time!

The other thing I got super excited about was that I found the perfect fabric! I have seen these striped tops all over lately where the stripe pattern ends above the bust, and I actually found a panel-printed knit that allowed me to do the same thing! Each panel had stripes running down the center, but big white spaces at either end, allowing me to cut this top with white framing my face. I absolutely love it! Hoping to squeeze one more kimono sleeved tee out of this fabric as well.

As you can see, I made mine up with a boat neck, 3/4 sleeves, and hip-length. I have been wearing it once a week since I made it up a few weeks ago, so I know this one is going to be a hit! It's that perfect transitional piece for cooler weather. In the spring I think I may make up a flutter-sleeve one, too!

Use code BONNIE at checkout to get 10% off through this weekend in the Bluegingerdoll store ;)