Author Archives: Sara in Stitches

Simplicity 1019: Better Than Basic Tee

I promise you -- the camera is crooked, not the art. Because I can't live in that kind of madness.

I promise you — the camera is crooked, not the art. Because I can’t live in that kind of madness.

How many times do you buy a pattern for one specific piece, only to find yourself making something completely different? It happens to me all the time. I bought this pattern for the leggings, which I haven’t made, and ended up stitching up this cute little tee, which I hardly glanced at when I bought the pattern.

This is a Mimi G pattern from Simplicity. Due to the limited amount of fabric I had (I had a scrap piece of knit and was determined to make something with it!), I shortened the length and the sleeves and took this from a potential statement garment to a simple tee. I’m so pleased with this not-so-basic basic!

s1019envelope

Here’s why:

  • There are bust darts drafted in for a non-boxy fit
  • The side slits let you easily make this into a longer tunic
  • The button panels along the shoulders are actually functional

I seriously thought they were faux panels or epaulettes. Turns out, this is a working button and buttonhole. (And, if you have a large head, you might need it — the neck is rather tight.

I fought the process. I wanted a quick and easy make, and I didn’t care about whether the buttons were functional. The instructions have you make a facing to finish the neckline, and I didn’t want to fuss with a facing on a t-shirt. After trying to find a shortcut and eventually just following the instructions anyway, I think that’s the way to go. The functional buttonholes are a nice detail, and the facing isn’t an issue (unless you’re working with a tissue knit or sheer knit). I was trying to be a fabric cheapskate, but I had just enough to create the facings.

Close up on the functional not-actually-epaulettes!

Close up on the functional not-actually-epaulettes!

I will note that if you don’t like a high neckline, this might not be the pattern for you. I don’t mind it, but I can imagine some people would be driven crazy.

Another note — this pattern is great for fabric leftovers. I was able to squeeze this out in tunic length with short sleeves in less than a full yard! Making wearable pieces from scraps is SO satisfying!

s1019back

I think the hardest part of making this was picking out the buttons. There are a lot of cheesy, tacky, dorky buttons lying in wait in your average Joann Fabrics. I don’t think these would be my first pick if I had more to choose from, but my husband talked me out of the fake crest-ish buttons I was leaning towards. (And I thank him for it.) If you’re got some cool 1/2″ buttons laying around, that’s just another reason to try this tee.

While I’m clearly not super-inspired by this project, it’s another solid basic that I’ve already gotten some good weekend-wear out of. Score, I guess?

Slightly out of focus, but you can see the slit and bust darts.

Slightly out of focus, but you can see the slit and bust darts.

Welcome to the closet, my Scrap Busting Slightly Fancy Tee!

FBBD — Favorite Boring Black Dress: McCall’s 6886

Did I just sew up the most boring dress ever? Quite possibly…

m6886front

Black? Not for me.

No details? Not for me.

This black dress with no details? LET ME WEAR IT EVERY DAY.

I was going for easygoing Silicon Valley chic, and ended up wearing it as a Halloween costume. (Yes, I am that coworker who puts on a witch hat and thinks she’s winning Halloween.) It is that versatile!

The fabric is ponte, and the pattern is McCall’s 6886.

McCall's 6886 pattern envelope

I know: McCall’s 6886 has been reviewed dozens of times. Everybody loves it, blah blah blah. I understand the buzz, though — once you make it, you feel like you could whip out a million more in a snap, like some kind of all-powerful sewing genie. I am drunk with power right now.

It’s easy to fit, it looks good, and it’s super comfortable. I am seriously rethinking changing my wardrobe to be 100% 6886s and only buying shoes and jackets from now on. Okay, not super serious, but you get the vibe, right?

I did make a few edits:

*I cut my usual size 10, and ended up taking the dress in quite a bit. The final version is a size 6 in the bust, graded to a 10 in the hips, and then pegged to all hell at the bottom. (I cut the 2nd longest hemline.)

*The sleeves are narrowed to a size 6 at the armhole and even smaller at the bottom — over an inch beyond the original stitching line.

*I skipped the instructions and set the sleeve in the flat, which I highly recommend. It makes an easy project even faster when burning through those side seams on a serger!

Also important, and something I always fail to do: I marked all changes on the pattern after making alterations. I know. Groundbreaking.

I somehow managed to completely ghost myself. #photographyskills

I somehow managed to completely ghost myself. #photographyskills

I have reiterate what everyone has already said about this pattern: it’s amazing. It feels like I could use this pattern as a perfect knit dress block and create some really exciting iterations.

(If you’d like to see some non-boring versions of this dress, check out Vatsla’s sweater dress version — Vatsla basically *owns* this pattern, she has made so many cool versions. Also check out Shari’s bishop sleeve version with tutorial, and the Frougie Fashionista’s cute ruffle hem hack.)

Of course, I do have one nit to pick. (Always, right?) The directions for the much-less-popular-in-the-SBC v-neck version (View E) are pretty crappy. Specifically, it’s the instructions for attaching the ribbing to the neckline that are super confusing. I was using this pattern to help a wonderful friend dip her toes in garment sewing, and it stopped us in our tracks.

We had to put it aside, find some tutorials on YouTube, and finish it another day. (Pretty much the exact opposite of convincing someone that sewing is easy and fun…) Again, the dress isn’t hard, but if you opt for the v-neck view and you’re not familiar with how to construct it, go straight to YouTube and save yourself the confusion.

Another shining example of my crazy-good photography

Another shining example of my crazy-good photography

That said, if you need chic, wearable clothes fast, this is the pattern for you. I’m not a fast stitcher by any means, but this is bordering on dress-a-day territory, even for me. I reiterate: DRUNK WITH POWER.

Welcome to the (now located on the Peninsula) closet, my magically unboring dress!

Best Flying Squirrel Dress Ever: Vogue 1482

v1482front

This is not a look I usually go for. I just have to put that out there.

Those Marcy Tilton patterns that have wacky angles, questionable fit, and “interesting” design details that some sewers go nuts over? Sooo not my bag.

But this Vogue Rachel Comey pattern just wouldn’t stop calling my name — despite my best efforts to talk myself out of it. (I blame the fabric and the gorgeous model on the cover photo.)

v1482

It’s an interestingly structured bag dress, and I love the hell out of it.

Okay, let’s talk about constructing this dress:

*I struggled with the directions in a few areas, particularly that seam across the front with the inseam pocket. The way I ended up doing it is not the “right” way, but I worked it out.

(The rest of the construction is pretty straightforward.)

*The keyhole in the back dips lower than expected. There’s no bra strap reveal, but if you’re looking to wear this dress in a traditional or conservative environment, consider making the keyhole 1-2″ shorter. (Alternatively, you could just cut the back on the fold, or stitch it all the way up. Unless your melon is exceptionally large, you’ll still be able to get your head through it.)

Decidedly *not* this dress's most flattering angle...

Decidedly *not* this dress’s most flattering angle…

*I did not understand the back button loop construction. At all. Using the included pattern piece resulted in a loop that came out weirdly huge, and I can’t quite figure out where I went wrong. Fortunately, internet. I followed a tutorial (that I can’t find now — similar thread loop tutorial here), and learned how to make quick and easy button loops out of thread with a zig-zag stitch! Highly recommended, and now I can stop shying away from button loop closures.

(Edited to add: Problem solved, thanks to Pattern Review peeps! There’s a box printed around the piece, and you have to cut out what’s in the box. Which makes so much sense. Total facepalm. Fellow sewers are the best, seriously!)

*The directions call for French seams. I ended serging my seams, but wanted to note this as a point of interest. The language used in the directions is very user-friendly. If you’ve ever been intimidated by French seams, consider trying this pattern out and going for it.

Seriously... am I pregnant? (no) Did I just eat a pint of ice cream? (maybe) In this dress, no one will ever have to know!

Seriously… am I pregnant? (no) Did I just eat a pint of ice cream? (maybe) In this dress, no one will ever have to know!

Confession: I topstitched everywhere as directed (neck, sleeves) in the evening. In daylight the next day, I realized my thread wasn’t black at all. I had been tricked by sneaky dark navy thread! You know what I do in these situations — rip it out and do it correctly.

HAHAHAHAHA KIDDING!!

I call it a “design choice” and move on.

v1482sleeve

Okay, on to the actual finished garment. It’s pretty damn amazing.

Seriously, I haven’t received so many compliments on something I’ve sewn in years! Beyond being secret pajamas, this dress is a crowd-pleaser. The funnel shape and batwing sleeves convey the intentionality of the fit — even from a glance, you can tell by the way it hangs that it’s so much more than a sack dress.

I’m in love, peeps. I wore this to work, I wore it on vacation, and then I wore it back to work. It’s such an easy, elegant piece, and I think I’ll make another in short order. (Meaning, five years from now…)

This dress absolutely requires a lean.

This dress absolutely requires a lean.

I highly recommend this pattern if you’re at all inclined to try this silhouette. For inspiration, check out Up Sew Late’s oh-such-perfect-fabric version, Thornberry’s easy and elegant version, and Maggie Elaine’s sexy lowered neckline version.

Meanwhile, don’t mind me. I’ll just be over here perfecting my flying squirrel pose…

v1482batwing