raglan Knitwit top

Raglan sleeves are so easy to sew.  Those simple diagonal seams (well, simple as long as your fabric is stable or you have stabilised the bias cut) are so straightforward to join; no sewing in the round or easing sleeve caps!  They lend themselves to casual styles, in my view.  I avoided raglan sleeves for a while because I didn’t think that they did my narrow shoulders any favours.  They probably still don’t, but that hasn’t stopped me from being drawn to raglan sleeved patterns recently.  I pulled an old Knitwit pattern out of stash to have a bit of a play.

Knitwit basic tee pattern (c) 1988

Yes, that IS an ’80s pattern. Copyrighted 1988, in fact. I did a Knitwit course back in 1990, and it was very useful in getting me comfortable with sewing knits.  You really don’t have to have an overlocker to sew knits – it was possibly another fifteen years before I bought an overlocker.  This course was a great introduction – it’s sad that the courses are no longer available.

I decided to give the raglan sleeved top a try, combining some fabrics that I had in stash. I cut size 14 (since that was already traced!) and whizzed it through the overlocker.

Knitwit raglan tee pattern (c) 1988

Yes, that is oversized, and yes, those are very low armholes! It’s pretty much a batwing look, and pretty much expected of a pattern from its era. The print fabric is a viscose jersey remnant bought from The Fabric Store a year or two ago, combined with a solid knit from Darn Cheap Fabrics for the sleeves.

Knitwit raglan tee pattern (c) 1988

The sleeves needed to be shortened about an inch. I added a simple neckband from the scraps of the jersey print, and twin-needled it to secure it.

Knitwit raglan tee pattern (c) 1988

This was very quick and easy to make, and I quite like the finished garment as a casual layering piece, but won’t use this pattern again in this form.   However, I’ll definitely be giving raglan sleeves another try.

I actually wore this top over a long-sleeved tee, with a scarf and jacket over the top, and was happy with the finished outfit – not that you can see much of the top in the photo below!  I am trying to remember to share how I actually wore my finished garments, as it gives a better idea of how things fit into my wardrobe and overall style.

Knitwit raglan tee pattern (c) 1988

Elle and Barb and Linda

Wow, that was some URTI!  I am still coughing and sneezing, but am definitely much improved thank goodness.  A few weeks ago I sewed up three pairs of StyleArc pants, and thought that you might like to see the similarities and differences.  Anne of Clothing Engineer has an excellent blog post about sewing StyleArc stretch woven pants here that is well worth reading.

These are all patterns that I have sewn up before.  All three are very simple pull-on styles with elasticised waistbands, designed for stretch wovens like stretch bengaline. They are all size 10, shortened both above and below the knee to accommodate my lack of height. I measure more like a size 14 or 16 around the waist, but the size 10 works better for my hips and because they are designed for stretch fabrics and have an elasticised waist they still fit me around the middle. I cut the waist elastic to the same size as the waistband (both smaller than my actual waist measurement) and that appears to work for me.

Firstly, the Elle pant. I made this in grass green ponte from Darn Cheap Fabrics.

StyleARC Elle pants in ponte

StyleARC Elle pants in ponte

Whoa, all those wrinkles along the back thigh! These are great from the front, but aren’t quite right at the back there. The ponte has the least stretch of all the fabrics I have made these in, which makes them firmer. However, I do need to be able to move in them.

Next up, the Barb pant, which has a wider leg than the Elle and I slightly higher rise. I made these in stretch bengaline from Style Arc.

StyleARC Barb pants in stretch bengaline

StyleARC Barb pants in stretch bengaline

It’s interesting to see the differences that varying the fabric type and leg width can make. Lastly, the Linda pant, which is a wider leg once again. These are made in a stretch woven from Darn Cheap Fabrics that is thicker and heftier than stretch bengaline, but stretches almost as much (which is quite a lot).

StyleARC Linda pants in heavy poly/lycra knit

StyleARC Linda pants in heavy poly/lycra knit

This is wonderful fabric to wear. It stretches in both directions and feels really comfortable, yet supportive around my middle. The paprika stretch bengaline is much lighter weight, and makes a bit of a noise as the legs pass one another. Both the Barb and Linda patterns are more for work, whereas the Elle are for casual. Well, that’s how they are for me anyway! Fabric choice really makes a difference to fit. I have made all three of these patterns in different fabrics now, and notice how some are far more flattering and comfortable and just fit better than others. And they are all the same size. I don’t suppose that others would notice, but for me it’s an interesting observation. And because I prefer photos of whole people rather than just bits of them, here are all three pairs of pants with the rest of me as well.  The top is the Maria Denmark Olivia Oversize Tee (blogged here).

StyleARC Elle pants in ponte

StyleARC Barb pants in stretch bengaline

StyleARC Linda pants in heavy poly/lycra knit

Oh look, same pose!  I am so predictable.  Looking at these photos again I realise how much weight I have gained – I possibly should have gone up a size.  Ah well, the benefits of hindsight!  It just makes that bit of difference to how well things hang.  Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while will be aware that my weight fluctuates quite a bit, which can be challenging in terms of what size to sew at any given time.  If my weight stabilises at its current level I will possibly grade these three patterns up a bit.  They’re such staples in my wardrobe!

 

yet another StyleARC Laura dress

It seems that the StyleARC Laura dress may become my go-to pattern when I have small amounts of fabric that need to be used.  I still haven’t got the fit quite perfect, but it’s getting better every time.

StyleARC Laura dress

This recent incarnation is a combination of black/white knit jacquard from the Darn Cheap Fabrics remnant bin, combined with Rathdowne Fabrics orange merino jersey scraps.  And yes, that dress is SHORT!  The length was entirely determined by the size of the remnant.  And as you can see, there wasn’t much of it!

StyleARC Laura dress

There is not a great deal more to report about this pattern.  It is very straightforward but always has pleasing results.  This is size 12, but with the back pieces enlarged considerably by cutting the back piece down the centre and spreading it as much as possible.  This keeps the dress fitting snugly around the shoulders and upper chest while allowance enough room to fit around my girth.  It could still do with a short back adjustment – I forget to do this every time!

StyleARC Laura dress

I did seek some instagram input on the type of neckband to use.  There was the option of plain orange, the black/white print, or the two together.  As you can see I eventually decided to keep things simple.

StyleARC Laura dress

When I asked Clare if this dress was too short, she said that it was fine as long as I wore stockings with it.  So I am following her advice!  I certainly wouldn’t be comfortable in anything any shorter.  It is surprisingly warm to wear due to the merino yoke and sleeves.  This pattern will definitely get another outing.

StyleARC Laura dress

My previous Laura dresses can be found here.

 

winterised Colette Myrtle

I have a confession.  I am not a huge fan of Colette’s women’s patterns.  Not because I don’t think that the styles are gorgeous and the instructions are excellent – because they are both of those things – but because they generally just aren’t MY style.  But it seems that I have to make a massive exception for the patterns designed for knits.  I have made a number of Mabel skirts now, really like my Moneta dress, and now I have to add the Myrtle dress to the list of Colette patterns that I really, really like!

Colette Myrtle dress

As with both the Mabel and Moneta, I wasn’t all that excited by the Myrtle when I first spotted the pattern, but it grew on me. A sleeper pattern, maybe! And there wasn’t much to be lost by giving it a try with some boldly printed knit from the Darn Cheap Fabrics $2 table. So I gave it a go. I decided to cut size Large, based on my measurements and on prior experience with Colette patterns. I didn’t make any alterations. This style is designed with positive ease, mainly being brought closer to the body by the elastic around the waistline.

Colette Myrtle dress

Hang on a minute, I did make one alteration – when I cut the back bodice piece I moved it in about 3/4″ at the upper edge, effectively removing an inch and a half from the centre of the back neckline. This was a good move – it sits nicely against my body around the back. I left out the inseam pockets too – I don’t tend to use them in knit dresses, as I find that they just weigh things down. This left just four pattern pieces – front skirt, back skirt (which is meant to be cut as two pieces with a centre back seam, but I forgot to do that and cut it on the fold instead), back bodice and self-lined front bodice.

Colette Myrtle dress

The bodice is very nicely constructed. The back bodice neckline and armholes are turned to the inside and finished with the twin needle, then the shoulder seams and side seams are sewn with the back sandwiched between the front and front self-lining. Then you stitch the front armholes together, turn it all the right way out and voila! The front neckline drapes beautifully with no chance ever to flip out, the armholes are smoothly finished, and you have an extra layer smoothing over any lumps and bumps at the front. And all the bodice seams are completely enclosed inside between the front and front lining. Fantastic! The casing around the waistline for the elastic is also nicely done, with the elastic being fully enclosed. I could have made the elastic a little tighter, and might go back and adjust it. But I might not.

Colette Myrtle dress

This is the longer version of the dress, and the waistline is lower on me than on the model and the pattern illustration. This is possibly a combination of me being short-waisted and the elastic being a little on the loose side, so be aware of that if you want to make this dress. I quite like it in this location, but may petite the bodice a little the next time that I make it. Now, as you know it is winter here, and this is actually a sleeveless summer dress. But with the addition of stockings, boots and a long-sleeved tee underneath, it winterises very well! I actually wore it with another layer over the top. I’m rather impressed at how well this bold, extremely large-scale print fits in with the rest of my wardrobe (and yes, I have more….)

Colette Myrtle dress

Next time that I make this  I might give the size Medium a try.  However, that would require reprinting and retaping the pattern.  Actually, my biggest gripe with the Colette pdf patterns that I have made has been that the pattern pieces could be SO much better arranged for printing.  The page margins are huge, so they take massive numbers of pages, and the larger sizes are grouped alongside the smaller ones on what ends up to be a massive pattern sheet.  It’s hard to work out which pages you do need to print for your size and which you don’t.  I think that I had to discard about half the pages I’d printed!  Pdf patterns don’t just have to be a tiled version of one huge pattern sheet – there are a number of pattern designers who have realised this and arrange pattern pieces so that they fit efficiently on to a smaller number of pages, where you only need to print the pages of the pattern pieces that you need for the size and variation that you want to make.  In my opinion, Colette patterns needs to improve in this area (but they’re not the only ones)!  Okay, rant over.

 

McCalls 6844

McCalls 6844 was released a couple of years ago, and was one of Pattern Review’s Best Patterns of 2013.  When I last checked there were over 70 reviews of this pattern on Pattern Review, so I assume that there are countless versions that have been made!  I was a little slower on the uptake than most.  There are a few variations of the pattern in terms of length, whether to include a peplum, and whether to have a straight or high-low hemline.

I threw caution to the wind and decided on view C, with both a peplum and a high-low hemline.  I was dubious about whether I would like this style on me, but I don’t really want to restrict myself to one silhouette in my wardrobe either.  So, the finished jacket!

2014-08-11 17.21.38

This was actually really easy to make. I petite-ed the pattern, shortening it through the body above the waist. I used size Medium throughout. The fabric is from Darn Cheap Fabrics, and is a fairly thick knit jacquard. It was most definitely NOT on the $2 table.  How do they make these knit jacquards?  I’d love a trip to a factory to find out.

2014-08-11 17.16.28

Despite being designed for a knit, the pattern pieces include 5/8″ seam allowances. This actually worked well for this spongy knit, as I sewed it on the machine then pressed seam allowances open. I did use the overlocker to construct and finish some seams, but mainly this was sewn on the machine. I used my twin needle for hems, including the peplum hem after just turning the edges once to the inside and securing them with Vliesofix tape.

2014-08-10 17.03.32

The collar is the same pattern piece, cut twice. With a fabric of this thickness, turn of cloth became a problem. You can see it in the above photo, along the seamline where the collar pieces are joined. If I made this jacket again (and I might well do that) I would shave quarter of an inch or so off the under collar piece. As a fix for this jacket I topstitched along the collar edge, rolling the seamline to the correct place as I went.

2014-08-11 17.21.44

The shoulders could be a little narrower, and I may yet to some sneaky catch-stitching under the collar where it meets the peplum and down to the bottom hem to keep it sitting nicely. But these photos were taken after a full day at work, and I think that it’s looking pretty good! I received some unsolicited compliments on it from random people at work, which was nice, and it met my essential criteria of being comfortable. I can see why this pattern is so popular!

2014-08-11 17.22.03

I was rather impressed that it coordinated with one of my Mabel skirts so beautifully.  The top is a Renfrew that needs to be retired due to pilling.  Black is such a harsh colour on me, but I will still need to replace this top.  Maybe with a long-sleeved Tessuti Lola – the scoop neck will keep that black away from my face.  What other coloured tops would work under the jacket?

 

 

Maria Denmark Pernille Pencil dress

The Maria Denmark Pernille Pencil dress was the first thing that I made when we returned from Thailand.  It was in my “cut out and ready to sew” box, and I hoped that because of its simplicity it would get the sewjo flowing again.  And it did!
Maria Denmark Pernille Pencil Dress

The Maria Denmark website description is as follows: The Pernille Pencil Dress is a perfect blank canvas for an everyday dress.
Winter-friendly with the long sleeves and the relatively high boat neck – and very comfortable made in a knit fabric such as sweatshirt fabric or ponte knits.
Maria Denmark Pernille Pencil Dress

This dress is all of those things. I made mine in a textured knit from Super Cheap Fabrics in Sydney Road, Brunswick. It’s got a rather high synthetic content, and is an interesting construction with two thin layers of knit joined together in a way that creates the texture. At $3 per metre it was a great option for a hopefully wearable muslin.

Maria Denmark Pernille Pencil Dress

I made size Large, with the C cup option and without the back darts. I don’t need shaping added to my non-existent waist. However, I forgot that Maria Denmark patterns need seam allowances added, so the resulting dress is a little smaller than the size Large but seems to fit me quite well. Construction was very straightforward.  I used the overlocker for most of it, but secured the neckline facing with a twin needle on the machine and hemmed the sleeves and skirt with the twin needle as well. I took a fairly deep hem at the bottom, which adds weight and improves the way it hangs.

Maria Denmark Pernille Pencil Dress

Unfortunately I forgot to stabilise the neckline before sewing the dress, and it stretched out a little in the process. This has made it wider and deeper than the pattern.  I added strap keepers to the shoulder seams on the inside which proved to be effective at keeping it on my shoulders and stopping straps from showing. There’s really not much more to say about this dress – it’s a wonderful basic. I’ll tweak the pattern a little and take more care in cutting and construction the next time that I make it. And this is how I wore it:

Maria Denmark Pernille Pencil Dress

City Girl tunic

I have made plenty of cowl neck tops.  Ergo, I have plenty of cowl neck patterns in my stash. But I still find it hard to resist a new one.  Call the the appeal of the “new and shiny”.  So earlier in the year I sewed up the City Girl top.

City Girl Tunic by See Kate Sew

I used a dark grey marle mid weight viscose knit that may have come from Darn Cheap Fabrics, I can’t actually remember! It was a terrific weight for this top. I’m guessing that I sewed the Medium, although it could have been the Large. Too lazy this morning to trek up the stairs and find where I’ve put the pattern away to check it. I did the 3/4 sleeve version, in the tunic length. There is a lot that I really like about this top except for one thing – have you spotted it already?

City Girl Tunic by See Kate Sew

See those folds just above the bust? This top has a curved yoke with a centre pleat, and I think that there could be an issue with the interaction of the yoke curve, the armhole draft, and getting it all to fit smoothly over the bust. At first I just thought it might have needed a FBA, but that is quite unusual for me in a knit top. Then I looked at photos of City Girl tops that others had made, and almost all of them have exactly the same issue. They disappear if I pull the top down hard:

City Girl Tunic by See Kate Sew

But as soon as I move, those folds appear again. I like the fit elsewhere however. The sleeves are slim, which I prefer in a looser bodied top, and the shoulder seams are pretty much on my shoulders.

City Girl Tunic by See Kate Sew

I constructed this on the overlocker, with the machine used to secure the centre tuck in place and to topstitch the hems. I used bright green for the twin needling for a contrast. No, in reality I used it because it was already threaded up in the machine. But I really do like the contrast! So, would I make this again? Actually I wouldn’t. Those folds above the boobs really annoy me. I do wear the top, as it layers nicely, but the drafting clearly does not work for me (or for lots of other people, judging from the photos).

City Girl Tunic by See Kate Sew