Sutton Blouse

Pattern: True Bias's Sutton Blouse (pattern tester)
Fabric: 1.5 yds rayon challis
Cost: $15

This is True Bias's new pattern, the Sutton Blouse! You know I love me a kimono top, so it's no surprise I'm sporting another one here. Kelli drafted this out of a desire for more v-neck patterns, which I think can be more dressed-up and sexy than your every-day crew-neck. It also features an inverted back pleat, high-low slit hem, and a one-piece yoke detail. 

I made mine up in white with a red yoke, which is really quite sporty. However, after seeing Kelli's gorgeous single-color green version, I am totally envious and have plans to make one just like that next. The yoke gives you an opportunity to play around with color or just interesting seam details, which takes this top a notch above basic.

As a pattern tester, I sewed mine up in size 0, the smallest size. Because it's a loose-fitting top, I went with my bust measurements, where I often fall into a smaller size. The fit was not too snug at all, and in fact fit me a bit big in the shoulders (no surprise there, as that is another common adjustment for me). Since I made it up, Kelli took about an inch total from the ease and 1/4" at the neckline, which I think should make the fit even better on me. She also raised the neckline by a 1/4", and I might raise it even a bit more to suit my tastes. 

As for the other design details, I love the seaming and think it would add a lot of interest to even a black or dark-colored shirt. I am not a fan of high-low hems, but I know they are very popular right now, so that is another interesting design feature. And the back pleat ensures I will be able to ride my bike to work without ripping any seams - always a bonus for me!

Finally, I have to say how much I love Kelli's instructions. I think she does an excellent job of explaining every step of the way, right down to the stay stitching and seam finishes. While she rates the pattern "intermediate" because it is made for slippery drapey fabrics, I think her instructions would be perfect for a beginner looking to tackle a new pattern. 

The one thing I am struggling with for this top and a few others I've made recently is the fabric. After hearing a lot about rayon challis from other bloggers, I have made up a few shirts in it. Unfortunately, I have now also discovered it wrinkles like crazy. I originally thought rayon didn't wrinkle, but I am either mistaken or it depends on the blend and the weave. I've bought two different ones from different sources and had the same problem. Wear it while sitting for a few minutes and I get up looking like, as one Pattern Review member put it, a "wilted flower."

In thinking about the clothes I reach for most often in my closet, I have also realized that the ones that do not require ironing are easiest to wear. There's a Scout tee I have made out of some synthetic blend that I reach for almost every time, despite the fact that it doesn't breathe very well. So I have been on the hunt for some new fabric ideas. I did see a fabric labeled as "travel linen" at my local store that is sadly no longer there, and I am not opposed to buying fabrics with a hint of synthetics in them to prevent the wrinkles. Does anyone out there have any advice on nice drapey or shirting fabrics that are not as prone to wrinkles?? Thx in advance!!

Beatrix Kiddo (The Costume)

Pattern: Self-drafted doggy tee
Fabric: 1/3 yd vinyl
Cost: $15

Happy Halloween everybody! 

For her first Halloween, B decided to go as her namesake, Beatrix Kiddo from Kill Bill. (I couldn't help myself.) If you haven't seen the film, Uma Thurman plays a former assassin whose team attempts to murder her and her family on her wedding day. Armed with a Hattori Hanz┼Ź sword and dressed in a yellow jumpsuit, Beatrix Kiddo aka Black Mamba exacts her revenge, one by one. 

Being the evil killer that she is, B had no problem putting on her vinyl jacket, picking up her sword, and getting ready to slay some treats. She doesn't seem to mind wearing little outfits (I tested it out with a t-shirt a few days before), but man is she hard to photograph!

The sewing itself was a new experience for me. I had never made anything for a dog before, and fitting is a completely different story - especially with a very sleepy model! I started with a Big 4 pattern for a dog jacket, but it did NOT work for her. French bulldogs are much more stocky than the average dog, and for the pattern to work I would have needed to rotate the sleeves a full 90 degrees forward. I took a deep breath, went to the fabric store for a yard of muslin, printed out a different pattern, and went to town. After about 7 tries, I had a t-shirt that worked pretty well for her. (Might post that later with some thoughts on sewing for doge.)

Next was sourcing the fabric (I wanted stretchy vinyl but ended up with something more akin to upholstery), borrowing my mom's embroidery machine to make patches, and sketching out my final design with the help of Mr. Made. We also watched Kill Bill Vol 1 for good measure, which came with this great little sword.  

Below is the final result. I still need to add the snaps on to the top and bottom, but other than that it's complete. I gave it the motorcycle jacket look by adding yellow patches down the side, and also stitched on "Kill Bill" and "B. Kiddo" patches to make things a bit more obvious. My mom's Bernina does letter embroidery, so the patches were pretty easy to do. The whole thing closes with a separating zipper, which makes it easy to get it on and off. For a bit of added stretch, the black stripe down each side is a stretch pleather remnant.

Of course, now I have nothing to wear for myself, but I'm hoping I can pull something out of the archives. We're taking B to a friend's Halloween party tomorrow, and I need to figure out if I should go as a theme with her or not - perhaps another Kill Bill character, a Quentin Tarantino character, or maybe just go with the whole kick ass super hero theme and recycle my Batman costume... It doesn't matter though because B always steals the show!

Happy Halloween everyone! I leave you with this adorable outtake of B trying to eat a treat...

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!