Feather Prints & Fancy Tees: Vogue 1503

I made a fancy tee shirt!

I’m really happy about this project, but not for the best reasons. I bought this pattern to make a different feather print top, but chickened out (I’m in love with the fabric, and am still waiting for the right pattern). But hey, I had a different feather print knit sitting around, so why not try it?

This is Vogue 1503, a Rachel Comey design. The babydoll-ish ruffle is so not my style, but I kind of dig this whole look anyway. The overlapping shoulders (or as I think of them, onesie shoulders) are a cute detail, as well as the cuffed sleeve.

This is a pretty easy garment to sew, and I can see beginners being comfortable dipping their toes into the “OMG Vogue designer” pool successfully with this one (view A, at least). Of course, I used a knit fabric which makes things easier, but I don’t think a woven fabric would’ve been any harder. The fit is so generous and boxy that there’s room for error on fitting. In fact, I sized down from my usual 10 to an 8, and I wish I could’ve gone down another size or two. (Eight is the smallest size offered.)

You can get a feel for the roominess from the side. Hi Baby!

I didn’t make any changes to the pattern pieces, but I did edit out a few steps along the way. I serged all the seams instead of using French seams as directed. (For the record, I like Vogue’s French seam directions and recommend trying them out if you’ve been nervous about adding this skill to your repetoire). I also skipped a few steps on the cuffs; instead of slipstitching, stitching again, and then topstitching, I went straight to topstitching to hold it all together. Since I was going for “fancy tee shirt” instead of designer quality, this approach functioned well and saved me some needless work. If you’re hoping to make a special garment, perhaps stick with the directions.

If I were to make this again (and oddly, I might — it was fun to make!), I would cut the back on the fold and consider removing the back darts. I’m not sure why the back isn’t on a fold anyway. Unless you’re trying to save on yardage, skip the back seam (and I’m not even sure you save any yardage to be honest). As far as the darts, the shape is so boxy that they’re kind of useless. They’re not bad, but they’re so small that they don’t really accomplish much, and give you an extra opportunity to chew up your fabric.

I couldn’t get a shot where the back wasn’t blowing around a bit so… you get the idea

I’d also consider removing some width in the front. The shoulders on this top are very wide — like, I’m-going-to-be-fussing-with-my-bra-straps-all-day kind of wide. If I removed an inch or two from the center front when cutting, this whole top might work better. (But seriously, I have no idea what I’m doing, so that might be a TERRIBLE idea.)

Here’s a good shot of the shoulder width

All in all, this is a happy meh. It’s not the cutest thing I’ve ever worn, but it was fun and frustration-free to make. It certainly accomplishes what I set out to do: make a slightly fancy tee-shirt for my casual wardrobe. I actually think I’ll wear this a lot because it doesn’t seem too “special” or “perfect” to just thrown on any old day, but still feels like I have an outfit on instead of just a boring tee and jeans.

Welcome to the closet, my Feathered Tee of Happy Mediocrity!

Palazzo Fever and #Catpants: New Look 6271

If it wasn’t for sewing, I might actually be cool. You know — follow the trends, browse style magazines to see what’s new and exciting for each season, and shop around to find the best versions of those looks. But I sew. So I do what I want. And what I want right now, is a pair of massive wide-legged cat pants (or #catpants, as I prefer).

I can’t explain it. I know it starts with McCall’s 7726 (which looks like a great pattern, but I haven’t tried it), featuring some pleated, paperbag waisted palazzo pants. SO MUCH WANT. I had instant palazzo fever. But I’m not about that pleated-front pants life. Nope! I wanted the palazzo pants from the early/mid-nineties. The kind with an elastic waist. The kind that came in rayon ditzy prints and you’d wear with super-clunky shoes and a baby tee. The kind that made me feel SO SOPHISTICATED in seventh grade. Plus, I wanted to use this cat rayon that I had a ton of, and I wasn’t sure they would hold up well to a zipper and fitted waist. So it was time to search for a new pattern.

Really hoping this “don’t know what I’m doing bun” comes off as a “totally intentional messy bun”

I was surprised at how many patterns are out there for basic-as-hell drawstring palazzo pants. It’s kind of disturbing, folks. Are there really that many people searching for mostly unflattering and largely outmoded pants? (Yes? Okay, makes sense then.) I settled on New Look 6271, because they looked like they’d be the easiest to add a paperbag waist to.

I used the Super Easy Paper Bag Waist Skirt Tutorial from create/enjoy, and it worked like a charm. It makes me want to add a paperbag waist to All The Things. Instead of cutting the casing pattern piece as-is, I cut it 7.25″ high, allowing for chunky 1.5″ elastic and 1.25″ of paper baggage at the top. I also added a sash to the look, echoing the McCall’s version that first caught my eye.

Close-up of that edited waistband

As you would imagine, these are ridiculously fast and easy to construct. I did make sure to get out my serger for the first time in months in order to make sure the rayon wouldn’t get destroyed after a few washes. Even with that added step, these were a breeze from cutting to finishing. The longest part was getting the hem length right. Much to my mom’s chagrin, I prefer my pants to rest approximately a centimeter above “dragging along the ground like a filthy heathen.” It took a number of try-ons and treks to the mirror squeezed in during naptimes to nail the tricky barely-off-the-ground-but-not-actually-going-to-trip-on-them length.

Um, on further review, maybe my mom is right about hems…

Dudes, I’m super happy with these. They recall the palazzo pants of my middle school years beautifully, with added dorkiness thanks to the Urkel-esqe high waist and novelty print skeptical-looking cats. (Seriously, these cats do not look friendly. Do not engage. Do not make eye contact.) And they’re so comfy! You know you’re living that casual life when the last four garments you’ve sewn could also work as pajamas.

Possibly feral cat sash completes the look

That said, I think they’re pretty chic, and I love being able to wear silhouettes that aren’t easy to track down in the store. I imagine other people eyeing my pants, thinking, “Where on earth did she get those amazing skeptical cat palazzos? What is her secret?!” Which I’m sure does not actually happen, but makes the whole scenario no less enjoyable.

You too could be this smug about your pants!

All in all, I highly recommend embracing your inner dork and making whatever you dream of. Welcome to the closet, my already beloved #catpants!

Twisted in the Best Way: Simplicity 1849

Wow! I know it’s bad form to be self-congratulatory, but I am doing AWESOME! I made three things so far in January, and I like them all!

This top was created from Simplicity 1849. I picked it up years ago, thinking I’d make a top for work, but never found the right fabric for it, or more importantly, the time for it. I liked the twist-front detail, and wanted to see what went into making it. Turns out, it’s a two-piece overlay. You make the twist by creating a loop with one piece, then twisting the other piece through that hole. Those pieces are stitched down to the bodice, and the back and front necklines are finished with facings.

With that many layers, you should probably stick to thin knits. Unlike what I did. My fabric is a surprisingly thick cotton interlock, thrifted years ago for a buck or two. (Hooray for being cheap!) The odd size of the piece is what compelled me to finally use this pattern — the pattern I actually wanted to make wouldn’t fit the fabric size. Fortunately, it’s winter and I’m super stoked to have an extra warm top to lounge around in. (A white top as we start solids was probably not the best idea but, eh, that’s what bleach is for, right?)

As with the red cutout top I sewed, I kind of went through the motions during construction, fully expecting this would be a wadder. The thickness of the fabric was just not a great choice for the style. Surprise, surprise! Once I tried this on, I fell in love!

The twist from the right side…

It’s chic and interesting but subtle. I think the winter white knit ended up being perfect — it’s a “better basics” kind of piece, which is just what I need. The fabric is really key to this look. In a cheap ITY print, this top could easily look like a leftover from the clearance rack at Ross. (Cold burn, I know…) In ivory, blush, slate, or charcoal, though, it can look sophisticated and tasteful. So much of sewing success is walking that line between “amazing and one-of-a-kind” and “so tacky it has to be homemade,” and I think I get better at navigating that each year.

…and from the left side

I didn’t make any significant changes to the pattern, aside from narrowing the sleeves by over an inch. The whole thing came together pretty smoothly — not surprising, considering it was sold under the “It’s So Easy” line of patterns. That said, the neckline was a bit fussy, since you have to line everything up exactly right to get it to work. It’s not hard, per se, but I wouldn’t recommend this as a first or second project. Not much more to say, other than that I’m surprised at how much I like this, and how heartily I would recommend the pattern to anyone who likes the look. Plus, it doesn’t take much yardage, even with the two-piece overlay and self facings. (Side note: if an unfinished knit edge will make you stabby, look away: the overlay loop and the front facing both call for unfinished edges.)

A bit of pooling in the back, but eh.

Again, a simple and unambitious pattern/fabric choice is proving to be my saving grace, letting me relax and enjoy every step of a low-stakes project. This is just one of the reasons why I love sewing. Creating something tangible for myself, using and growing a functional skillset, and having an outlet for creative expression are all SO GOOD for me right now. I read somewhere that a significant percentage of first-time moms suffer a severe hit to their confidence as they transition to being mothers — a role that offers so many challenges and so very little feedback. I am completely in that group. I run that group.

But making time to sew has been such a joy. It’s a space where the output of my energy and effort is completely visible — much more so than the energy and effort I put into my baby girl. Like, I understand that loving and nourishing a tiny human is much more of an accomplishment than making a t-shirt, but damn if that t-shirt doesn’t make me feel like a boss. For this stage in my life, sewing is therapy, and I’m grateful.

Much pose, very shades

Welcome to the closet, my Totally Twisted Thrifted Tee!