Skirt-a-palooza: New Look 6106

Sunday January 27, 2019

As fall approached in my first full year of garment sewing, I began to feel as if the things I was making weren’t working well together, and a bit more planning was called for. Then I read Sew Altered Style‘s blog post about her Seasonal Sew 3 challenge. The challenge: “Each season, choose 3 patterns that you want to make that season and then commit to making them over a 3-month period.” The example she gives is a small capsule set — pants, shirt, topper. I had just finished making a pajama set — top, pants, kimono/robe — and was really jazzed about how they coordinated, so I decided to try another set. This time it would be a skirt, cardigan and collared blouse.

I started with New Look 6106, a simple a-line skirt with a curved waist-band, that I bought when I first started sewing, but hadn’t made yet. I started with View A, without the ribbon at the waist.

New Look 6106

I made a trial version from Eco Twill in Sweet Potato from the Confident Stitch. Eco Twill is “a midweight (7 oz.) fabric made from 65% recycled polyester and 35% organic cotton. The polyester comes from Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) bottles used for drinking and soda packaging.”

It fit pretty much out of the package, with the following changes

  • Cut a 12 at the waist, grading to a 14 at the hips
  • Used an invisible zipper instead of a lapped zipper, using this tutorial by Kenneth King
  • After sewing it up, the ease in the hips and width at the bottom was way too much, so I took 6 inches off the circumference at the bottom, tapering to nothing at the bottom of the pocket opening.

And I was pleasantly surprised that it went with several things I already had in my closet. And with 52″ fabric, it only uses a yard if you make the facing and pocket lining out of scraps.

On the left, with a ready-to-wear shirt. On the right, with 2 me-mades: blackwood cardigan and sleeveless button up s2215

Next up I made the skirt for my seasonal sew 3 — from a wool blend from Style Maker Fabric. This time I drafted a lining, so it wouldn’t, like the sweet potato version, stick to my tights. The lining is a static-free one I got at Joann. Below on the right is my seasonal sew 3 outfit — skirt, blackwood cardigan in a sweater knit from Marcy Tilton and another s2215 made from mora slub linen from Stone Mountain Fabric.

Fall 2018 Seasonal Sew 3Left: with my favorite ready-to-wear silk shirt, Right: seasonal sew 3 capsule

I was really happy with the rust color match between the blouse and sweater for my seasonal sew 3. Unfortunately, the sweater knit catches on everything and has gotten quite pilly. I’ve de-pilled it a few times since I made it in November, and I’m not sure it will last very long.

good match but pilly sweater knit

But I wasn’t done with the skirt pattern quite yet. I had just-large-enough piece of cone mills denim to make a 3rd version. This time I made it a little extra by

  • cuting the pocket opening straight across rather than curved
  • adding piping, made from a piece of leatherette from my stash, to the bottom of the waist band and top of the pockets
  • installing my first ever exposed zipper
  • making a welt buttonhole on the back waist band using the leatherette.

New Look 6106 in cone mills denimLeft: dressed like a crayon, Middle: back with exposed zipper and welt button hole, Right: the top is a hacked Carolyn Pajamas top made from the nicest behaving rayon challis from Workroom Social.

And last, the one I’ve worn the most, a couple of times a week. I saw this patchwork denim at Joann and couldn’t resist (plus I had a coupon). I see Style Maker Fabric has it too. This one doesn’t have pockets.

Left, dressed like a crayon again, Middle: I had fun planning the pattern-matching on the stripes created by the patchwork, Right: the top is a Maya top made from a dress that fell apart, and with a ready-to-wear cardi.

My #SewingTop5 for 2018

Sunday January 20, 2019

2018 was my first full year of garment sewing (I started in the fall of 2017). Like many beginners, I started with quilting cotton and patterns for boxy woven tops. With encouragement from Craftsy classes and reading lots of blogs, I progressed to knits, bought a serger, made a coat. So I thought it would be fun to join in the #SewingTop5 blog series hosted by Gillian from Crafting a Rainbow where she encourages sewing bloggers to post about their highlights (and lowlights) for 2018. Here’s my top 5.

1) Pattern Hacking

I like to cook. I like finding new recipes and new techniques. But I don’t alter them — even ones I’ve made for years. If I want to recreate a dish I’ve eaten at a restaurant, I look for a recipe that’s close, and if nothing turns up, I go on to the next thing. So when I started sewing and immediately started pattern hacking, I was pretty surprised to see this new side of myself. For instance Marilla Walker’s Maya top — I’ve color blocked it, made it in different fabrics, altered the neckline, altered the front into a tulip shape… I’ve done the same thing with a skirt pattern.

Maya top pattern hacking
My mayas: (left to right) original in rayon (no alterations), made from a cotton dress that fell apart, color-blocked with silk noil, tulip hem in a double gauze, “madewell” neckline in linen (from a Grainline Studio pattern hack).

2) A Halloween surprise

One of my first makes in 2017 was a Shirt No 1 for my Mom. It was October, and she loved cats and holidays, so I choose a fall/Halloween themed quilting cotton. I made another one for Christmas. When my Mom passed away last February, my sister was tasked with sorting through all her clothes. Imagine my surprise and pleasure this past October when my sis sent me a photo of her in the Halloween shirt — she’d saved both my makes to wear for herself.

3) Me-Made-May

I was also surprised that within 6 months of starting to sew I had enough tops (and a few other things) to wear a me-made garment every day of May without too many repeats. And even more proud of myself for getting a photo every day (although I should thank my husband, who took the photos and reminded me on the days I forgot!) You can see the recap here.

4) Where’s the black?

My husband has teased me for years that I wear only solids in black, navy and dark brown. Sewing has changed that. I never would have predicted in January that I’d make these pants and wear them outside the house (and more than once at that)!

S8134 wrap pants

5) And the lowlights?

I’ve had wadders and patterns I couldn’t figure out how to fit, I made a lovely blouse only to spill cooking oil down the front the first time I wore it, I tried unsuccessfully to make slim fitted flat front pants (3 times, actually), but I had to think hard to remember the failures. Mostly I’m left with the pleasure of dreaming up a garment, finding the pattern, sewing it up and wearing it.

Adventures in coat making: M7481

Sunday January 13, 2019

Front of the coat

One of my friends selects a word at the beginning of every year, rather than a resolution. The idea is to apply that word to the things she does throughout the year — words like “play” or “ease.” At the beginning of 2018 I hadn’t been sewing very long, and picked “coat” as my word, hoping that in the coming months I would pick sewing projects that gave me the skills and confidence to make a winter coat.

I knew from the start I wanted to make a plaid wool coat. And something like this Lisette Pattern
Butterick 6385

And I found the fabric (a wool coating) this fall, from Stone Mountain and Daughter.

The Lisette coat has princess seams, and while there are lots of examples and blog posts about making the coat, I only found one sewist that made it in other than a solid color. That made me nervous — plaid matching princess seams was maybe beyond my current skills. So I looked for another pattern. I found a couple of candidates, and bought the most promising. But I didn’t like the look after I made a muslin (the sleeves fit very oddly and I had no idea how to fix them). Same went for the second coat pattern (raglan sleeves, not what I wanted). But whoa did I learn a lot from making those muslins and what I was in for. They left me with a lot of questions too. Should I bag the lining? How wide should the hem be? When exactly during the coat construction do I make bound button holes — maybe before attaching the facing? So to boost my confidence a bit, I also watched several Craftsy classes about linings and tailoring.

The third pattern I bought was McCalls 7481, to make view C. It’s described as “Lined vest and coat have front snap closing with sleeve and/or pocket variations. C: Collar and patch pockets.” My plan was to use buttons instead of snaps.
M7481 Misses' Hooded, Collared or Collarless Coats and Vest

I made up a muslin out of a sheet, and liked the way it looked. Then I made these changes

  • Made a size 12, grading to 14 at the hips. I widened the bottom even more, as it didn’t seem to close properly
  • Raised the arm hole using this Threads video
  • 1″ full bicep adjustment using this tutorial from Helen’s Closet
  • Added length to make a 3″ hem, rather than a 5/8″ hem.
  • Drafted a separate lining after watching Linda Lee’s Craftsy class Underneath it All
  • It looked like the lining would show at the top when the coat was open, so I also drafted a back facing.
  • And finally I merged the front facing with the coat front, so it was cut-on and a fold line rather than seam, to eliminate the bulk (Abby Mats shows how to do that on Instagram here)
  • The pattern had you just interface the collar and front facing. But after reading Lucinda Hamilton’s post here, I also used weft fusible for the bottom and sleeve hems, upper back and front, as well as the place where the pockets were to be placed. I got the interfacing from Vogue Fabrics.

Okay, at this point I knew the pattern did me no favors, and I probably should have kept looking for something else. But it was mid-December by this point, and I blundered along, reasoning that this is my first me-made coat, and I had procrastinated enough.

After I’d sewn the shell and tried it on, I realized I needed something at the shoulder. First I added a sleeve head using this Threads tutorial, but that didn’t make it look much better. Threads has a pattern for shoulder pads here and I had some quilt batting at home, so I tried making a set. I got to use the 3 step zigzag on my sewing machine — something I hadn’t used before! — but the resulting pads were pretty wimpy, so I ended up getting a pair at Joann.

About my lining. I decided on Sunback lining (satin on one side, flannel on the other) because the wool I’d bought wasn’t really that thick. I got it at B&J Fabric. I’m glad I got a thicker lining, because the finished coat isn’t as warm as I’d hoped.

One of the coat patterns I’d considered, but hadn’t muslined, was Vogue 1479, an Isaac Mizrahi design with something like 9 pockets (patch, welt, inside, outside…). It seemed more complicated than I was up for as a first coat-making project. But I read all the directions, and was intrigued by the patch pockets — they have 2 separate openings, from the top and from the side. They also had a facing for the top, which the patch pockets on my pattern didn’t. The construction seemed straight-forward, and the top facing seemed like a good idea, so I swapped in the Vogue pockets.

After a lot of head-scratching, I made the welt button holes before folding the facing and attaching the lining. I made 3 practice button holes before attacking the actual coat. Sadly the practice ones are very nice and the ones on the coat are pretty iffy. But they work, and I like the buttons I found.

Bagging the lining. I read several blog posts about bagging (here and here), and in Linda Lee’s Craftsy class Underneath it All she shows how to bag a coat, with the opening at the hem. I decided to use Lee’s method — rather than the bagging opening in the sleeve. I found hand sewing the hem once the coat was right-side-out to be very awkward (Lee’s lining drafting directions has the lining fold over the hem for extra ease), so next time I make a coat I’ll try the opening in the sleeve method.

Here’s the final coat. As I said, it’s not as warm as I hoped, but I’m really pleased with how it turned out. I’ve worn it every day since finishing it at on January 4th. The sleeves are too short — maybe because I added shoulder pads? There’s something wonky happening at the hem where the coat closes… but YEAH, I finished!

Front of the coat Front of the coat

Sunback lining in very bright fuchsia Sunback lining in very bright fuchsia

Back of the coat Back of the coat

Pocket detail -- opens from either the top or side Pocket detail — opens from either the top or side