Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Kalle Shirt + Dress // View B // Closet Case Patterns

Kalle Shirt + Dress by Closet Case Patterns.

View A, tunic length, with button placket and collar.

Cotton sateen from Fabricana, purchased in the spring of 2018.  I had 2.2 meters, approx 47-48 inch wide fabric.

18, with no changes to the width. I realized on my previous versions I'd been using a 1/2" seam allowance instead of a 5/8" seam allowance, and used the proper SA for this shirt. I prefer the fit of the shirts with the smaller SA.


  • 2 inches removed from length at lengthen shorten line  
  • Additional 2 inches removed from the back at the hem to make a less dramatic high/low hem

This is my fourth time making this pattern. I have previously made 2 of View A and 1 of View C. This is my first View B.  I'm considering it a TNT pattern for me.

I think I prefer it in a drapey fabric, like the linen/rayon blend I used to make the dress version (View C) earlier this summer. It has a much breezier and relaxed fit in a drapey fabric.  The cotton sateen I used this time gives it quite a bit of structure, and it looks quite sharp and put together.  There is definitely a place for both drapey and structured versions of the Kalle in my wardrobe.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Hemlock Tee // Grainline Studio // Grey Bird Print Bamboo

Hemlock Tee by Grainline Studio

95% Bamboo / 5% Spandex Grey Bird print knit from Fabricana, Spring 2017
230 gsm
60 inches wide

Same 16 inches of width added to body of shirt. Read more about my first version here.

New changes for this version -
1/2 inch width removed from whole sleeve
3/8 inch width removed at wrist (tapered in), for a total of 3/4 inch removed from lower wrist
1/2 inch length added to sleeve along lengthen/shorten line
1/2 inch added to neck band length

After wearing, I've realized this shirt could use a little more length in the front so it doesn't pull up at all, but it is definitely wearable as is.

Side note from the future (May 2019) - these shirts make awesome postpartum nursing shirts! Easy to pull on (and up!), and comfy. The bamboo and or bamboo/cotton blends make them so they aren't sweaty to wear.  In hindsight I wish I had made a few more for that first month postpartum.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Hemlock Tee // Grainline Studio // Made Bigger

This wasn't supposed to be my next project, but I just couldn't get it out of my head!  Funny, considering it's a top pattern that doesn't even come in my size.  I had lots of success sizing the Hemlock up to fit me though, and wanted to share.

Hemlock Tee by Grainline Studio, free if you sign up for the Grainline newsletter.

66% Rayon from Bamboo / 28% Cotton / 6% Spandex with 3/8 inch stripes in natural/black. 1.5 meters.  I bought it from Water Tower Textiles - here.  It was 60 inches wide, 200 gsm weight, and has 4 way stretch.  It feels like a nice high quality knit once sewn up. Definitely substantial.

This pattern comes in only one size with a finished bust measurement of 44.5 inches.  The pattern photo has the shirt shown on a 32 inch bust.  I really liked the over-sized fit of the tee, so I figured out that the top was 1.39 times larger than the wearer's bust and went from there.

I took my own bust measurement of 44 inches x 1.39 =  61.16

I decided to round to 61 inches since there is so much wearing ease in the top and it was an easier number to work with.

The difference between the 61 inches I wanted in the top and the 44.5 inches the top was drafted to is 16.5 inches, which I decided to round to 16 inches total. 

I would add half the width to the front (8 inches) and half the width to the back (8 inches).  The thing that almost tripped me up is that since the front and back pieces are cut on the fold, you only actually need to add a quarter of the total width you plan to add to the actual pattern pieces. In this case, 4 inches.

I printed and assembled my pattern, and then drew a line about mid way between the shoulder tip and the neck, straight down to the bottom of the shirt (the yellow line in my 'illustration').  I sliced that line top to bottom and moved the two pieces 4 inches apart from each other (the blue line).  I just made sure to keep the lengthen/shorten lines at the same level to keep things aligned properly.

I taped the two pieces to my cutting mat and grabbed some medical exam paper I use for tracing patterns, placed it on top of my spread apart pattern and traced out the sides and bottom of the piece in it's new position.

You'll see that the shoulder isn't a straight line anymore, so I just laid my ruler across and connected from the neck edge to the tip of the shoulder in a straight line (the red line on my picture).  I could have just put a strip of paper and taped it in the middle area where you can see my cutting mat, but I like to re-trace whenever possible to give myself a clean pattern that's easy to put away and easy to take out again.

I repeated this same process with the back piece, and got cutting!

Since this process didn't alter the sleeve attachment or the neckline, I left the sleeves and the neckband alone and used them as originally drafted.

Based on my fabric, and in hindsight, I wish I had added 3/8 inch or 1/2 inch to the neckband length. It's just barely causing some little puckers/gathering below the neckband. A good pressing didn't help, but I'm hoping as I wear it it'll relax a little bit.

The sleeves are quite roomy as drafted, and this silhouette looks really good with the super loose body and more fitted sleeves, so I decided not to fiddle with them. To improve fit for myself, I might narrow down the forearm and wrist of the sleeve and I am also considering adding another 3/4 inch to the sleeve length so I can put on a slightly less narrow hem next time.

I think I'll likely draft a short and a 3/4 inch sleeve piece before I put the pattern away, so it's all ready to go when fancy strikes. 

When I used the serger to join the shoulder seams, I serged on 1/4 clear elastic on those seams too. This will keep the shoulders from sagging, and ending up further down my arm than intended.  I ended up fighting a bit with my serger at the beginning of this project (the first fight we've ever had!), and stretched the elastic a little as I sewed.

Normally, I would have pulled out the stitches and re-applied new elastic, but this was the last length of 1/4 inch clear elastic I had, so I kept going.  I've since ordered a 150 yard spool of clear 1/4 inch elastic from Cleaner's Supply, since it feels like I'm constantly running out, and the closest local source is 30 minutes away.  I think I've gone through about 15 yards in the last year, so the 150 yards will last me about 10 years if I keep going like I have.

I got my Janome 1000CPX cover stitch machine last Christmas, and have really struggled with it. Tons of skipped stitches no matter what and just not a smooth ride.  Every sleeve or neckband or hem took 3, 4, 5 tries, and even still sometimes I could never get it right.  It just didn't seem to be running smoothly.

I've had it in the cupboard for a few months, and I pulled it out yesterday and decided to open it up and check the grease and oil. Even thought it was a new machine, I felt like I would feel like a bit of an idiot if I didn't at least check that out before swearing it off again. 

I pulled it out, opened the cover, oiled the oil-able parts, greased the grease-able parts, and set out for some test cover stitching. It was like a completely different machine!  So glad I did this.  If you have a Janome 1000CPX that's giving you problems, even if it's brand new, you might want to take it in for service.  I wish I had in January!

Anyway, I was able to hem the sleeves and the bottom hem of my shirt. ON. THE. FIRST. TRY. 

I used the settings from this thread on Pattern Review, which works fine for t-shirts. 

Do you have a favorite free tee sewing pattern? Have you needed to make similar changes to a one size pattern?

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Charlie Caftan // View A // Closet Case Patterns

Charlie Caftan by Closet Case Patterns

View A



Cotton Double Gauze, 100% Cotton from Blackbird Fabrics

I really enjoyed having this dress to wear through August, and it will definitely be a summer dress I pull out of my closet again and again. The double gauze is so light and airy. It was tricky to work with (stretched out if you looked at it funny), but worth it in the end.

I would do another dress in the same fabric, but would likely choose something without too much detail to avoid over handling the fabric. The detail on the center front of this dress was extra challenging because of my fabric choice.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Make Nine 2018 // Mid-Year Update

Back in December 2017 I put together a 2018 Make Nine list of patterns I planned to complete over the course of 2018.

I thought it would be useful to revisit that list and make some changes now that we're more than half way through 2018.

Here's my original #2018makenine:

Top (left to right): Halifax by Hey June Handmade, Sweet Tee by Patterns for Pirates, Kelly Anorak by Closet Case Patterns

Middle (left to right): Sweet Tee (long sleeved version) by Patterns for Pirates, Brassie Joggers by Greenstyle Creations, Mama Nina Dress by Made for Mermaids

Bottom (left to right): Ames Jeans by Cashmerette, Appleton Dress by Cashmerette, Concord Tee by Cashmerette.

I did make a couple of Halifax sweatshirts, and wore them to the point that I probably need to make myself a couple more for this upcoming fall/winter season.  I think I made 7 in total...

I sewed almost the entire Kelly Anorak, before chucking the whole project. It wasn't coming together nicely (I found the directions confusing), there were approximately a billion pattern pieces, and my fabric choice was poor. I found a very similar jacket at the GAP outlet for $35, and would probably buy that instead of trying the Kelly Anorak again in the near future.

...and that's it (from this list anyway). I haven't even touched the rest of the list! I did make a Concord Tee last year, and would make it again, but it's not a super high priority for me.

I would still like to make the Ames Jeans and the Sweet Tee, but the Appleton dress is basically off my list for now - maybe to be re-added next year, since I do have the perfect fabric for it, as is the Mama Nina Dress.

I should have put a few different patterns on my list! My main wardrobe builders that I've sewn this year have been the Sabrina Slims by Love Notions - I've made 4 pairs and actually wear them out of the house (black ponte x 2, navy ponte, and floral stretch velvet - I LOVE the floral stretch velvet version, and went back for 6 (SIX!!!!) more meters of this fabric once I sewed the pants - don't judge, it was super on sale!), the Webster Top by Cashmerette (I've made 2 of these), a Lane Raglan by Hey June, the Southport Dress pattern by True Bias (2 short versions, 1 maxi dress, and a tank top hack), and a Kalle Dress by Closet Case Patterns.

Lane Raglan with cotton lycra body and velvet flocked double brushed poly sleeves

One of the things I've really become aware of this year is planning a coordinated wardrobe that I'll actually wear. This means shapes I'm comfortable in and fabrics and colours that feel 'me'.  It may be boring, but I'm wearing my 'me mades'.  Blues, grey, black, white, single pops of colour, large print florals, stripes, polka dots, natural fabrics (read: no/extremely limited polyester) since I run hot and polyester just doesn't feel good.

I actually donated a polyester crepe Springfield top to the thrift store, because it just didn't feel good - and was static-y as all get out.

I've learned that for the most part, I'm not a big fan of sewing t-shirts when I can buy decent fitting 100% cotton tee's at the GAP outlet for $10 on sale. I'm hard on my t-shirts, and even the handmade ones don't last me an exceptionally long time. Life with kids is messy. And I'm still fighting with my coverstitch machine.

I've also learned that making my own leggings is worth every penny and every second not to have to be pulling them up all day. It's nice to feel like there's enough fabric at the back of my pants.

Through last fall and winter, my handmade wardrobe was at about 90%. The only things I wore that I didn't make were undergarments and occasionally my ready to wear puffy vest (I used up all my 'vest patience' sewing one for my preschooler (which fit well, he liked, but refused to wear) -

Trailblazer Vest by Twig and Tale

I lived in my Patterns for Pirates Peg Legs leggings, Hey June Handmade Halifax Hoodies, and various Union St. Tee's, also by Hey June (I never did get a good fit on tee's though).  Occasionally I'd dress things up with a Patterns for Pirates Cocoon Cardi in a sweater knit.

I've made more garments in the last year than I can even count (or remember), and I think that the Make Nine challenge has really helped me keep going and thinking about useful wardrobe items throughout the year, even if I didn't stick to the list.

With that being said, I have tried out way more than 9 patterns already, but would like to make a new Make Nine for the second half of 2018. I'm counting the Southport dress, since I made it in the second half of the year. Anything from July forward.

Top (left to right): Sweet Tee by Patterns for Pirates, Southport Dress by True Bias, Ogden Cami by True Bias

Middle (left to right): Sasha Trousers by Closet Case Patterns, Sointu Kimono Tee by Named Patterns, Lander Shorts by True Bias

Bottom (left to right):  Charlie Caftan View A by Closet Case Patterns, Carolyn Pyjamas by Closet Case Patterns, Arenite Pants by Sew Liberated

The Sweet Tee is on my list because I've had some black and white striped cotton bamboo pre-washed and sitting on top of my dryer since January and I want to make something with it!

The Charlie Caftan is up next - I have the fabric waiting to be pre-washed, followed by the Lander Shorts (I am just waiting on the fabric in the mail).  These two are top priority because I'd really like to be able to wear them through August this year.  Everything else (oh except the Carolyn PJ's which I might make with long pants if I don't get to them before September) is a fall/winter wardrobe builder.

Not on the list is another Patterns for Pirates Cocoon Cardi in black and/or dark grey. This is something that is definitely missing from my fall/winter wardrobe, but I didn't want to add it to my list yet, because I don't have fabric for it, and would like to sew up the patterns I have fabric for before I purchase any more.

I will post my finished projects as I go, and I look forward to a full re-cap at the end of  2018.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Southport Dress // View A // The Maxi

Having made two previous Southport dresses here and here (both the shorter View A), and a Southport Top hack, I made a few more tweaks, and jumped in to my first maxi dress!

I probably should have stopped at my last Southport, as I was really not into sewing this one. Not because it's not a great pattern, but because it's basically the fourth one I've sewn in 2 weeks.  I am certain I will make more in the future, but for now I'm going to take a little break and try out some other patterns for a while. 

I definitely wouldn't hesitate to purchase more patterns from True Bias. The designs are cute and the instructions clear and well written. I have the Ogden Cami and Lander Pants on my upcoming "to sew" list. I'm actually planning a shorts version of the Lander pants with some stonewashed blue tencel twill I ordered in the Blackbird Fabrics sale. I'm hoping to get started as soon as the fabric arrives, so hopefully I can wear them for the rest of the summer, but that's a blog post for another day...let's get on with my Southport Maxi Dress experience...

Southport Dress by True Bias.

View B.

Maxi length dress with center front slit.

16 at shoulders and bust, graded to 18 at waist/hips.

3/4 of an inch removed from bodice length
1 inch full bust adjustment
1 inch swayback adjustment
Front bodice cut on fold to omit buttons and button band
No pockets

I left the skirt at full length, because I wasn't totally sure where it was going to hit me on my waist, and I didn't want to reduce the length too much and end up with a too-short maxi dress.

Once I was finished with everything but the hemming, I pinned the bottom of the dress up to where I wanted it to be, and then pressed that edge. I then trimmed and pressed under the raw edge and top stitched it down, so I actually have a bit of a wider hem. It's fine for this time, but I'll do it 'properly' next time by reducing length at the lengthen/shorten line.

Mystery fabric. It is either cotton or rayon, but inconclusive as to which one, even after the burn test.  The softness, drape, and a bit of sheen make me lean towards rayon.  As does the way in handles.  This fabric was purchased from the thrift store, and was about 4.5 meters long, 44 inches wide.  I do know it is from Cranston Print Works in Texas.  It was a fantastic thrift store find!

I'm going to shave a quarter inch off the width of each of the side of the bodice (at the bottom only). I had trouble attaching the bodice to the skirt, because it seemed like there was just too much fabric at the bottom of the bodice. I think I might have messed with it when I re-added an inch to the length of the bodice pieces, but I didn't intentionally add width, so I'm not totally sure what happened there.

Speaking of the length of the bodice, it is juuuuuuuust right! I think what had happened was that I determined the length of the bodice with the bodice piece only, and with no cinching of the waistband, but when skirt is on and the waistband is cinched, it seemed to reduce the length of the bodice by a bit. 

Even with this version, un-cinched, it seems like the bodice is a little long, but as soon as I cinch it, it's just the right length. Interesting, huh? 

On my last version of the Southport, even cinched, the back seemed to be the right length, so I did the 1 inch swayback adjustment to keep the back the previous length while adding length in the front. This worked like magic!

For the swayback adjustment, I started off by pinching out the length at the center back, but it left everything a bit wavy, so I went off in search of other techniques for swayback adjustments, and came across a ton of info.

I ended up using Glenda's technique where you just basically take the length off the bottom and grade out so you don't lose length off the sides. More info here.

I also stumbled upon a REALLY helpful YouTube channel for fitting by Alexandra Morgan of In House Patterns.  She walks you through 3 different ways to do the swayback adjustment, including one that's technique is reminiscent of a full bust adjustment, or other similar fitting technique where you slice along lines and leave hinges.

Next time, for the skirt of the maxi dress I will just shave off 2 inches from the skirt length at the lengthen shorten line.  The dress is just the right length now, and I chopped off two inches from the bottom before hemming and it just grazes the ground when I'm wearing flip flops. I'd say it's my ideal maxi dress length.

I had mentioned before that I was having problems with the front of the neckline leaning forwards (away from my body) when I wore it, but it was just at the very edge. I think I had been doing my stay stitching too close to the edge of the fabric and it wasn't doing its job when it came to applying the bias binding. This time, I took care to keep the stay stitching closer to where the stitching line would be and I think it helped.

I actually cut the pocket pieces and at the last minute decided to leave them off. I really didn't want the added bulk at the hips, but even just taking the pictures of the finished dress had me regretting that decision.  I missed having a quick temporary spot for my phone (aka my camera remote) while I wrangled my camera and my super heavy tripod.  Will I put them on next time? I don't know, maybe? Darn that extra volume the the hips from pockets!

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Closet Case Kalle Shirt Dress // Rayon + Linen Stripe

Last summer, I made the cropped version - View A -  of the Closet Case Kalle Shirt + Dress twice, and this summer I've decided to give View C - the dress - a try.

This was one of the last patterns I printed at home and taped together, and since it's been sitting rolled up for the better part of the last year, it was not fun to trace off of at all. The tape was starting to come undone, the paper was wrinkled and crinkled. Ugh. If I decided to ever trace this pattern again for any reason, I'm going to get the large format version printed and recycle the current paper mess I'm working with. Update: later in the day I was at the print shop to have a few other patterns printed, and decided to have them print Kalle for me too, just in case.

I cut the size 18 and because it has quite a bit of wearing ease, I've also opted not to do a full bust adjustment.  I did the FBA on the cropped version, and it was a gigantic pain in the butt to do without darts.

The fabric I'm using is a 60% rayon / 40% linen I bought from Fabricana in Richmond, BC in the spring. I thought I had 2 meters - needed 2.75 meters for the dress - but thought I might be able to overcome the lack of fabric with some creative cutting and shortening the length a bit, since I'm only 5'4".  I didn't end up doing this because it turned out I only had 1.5 meters of fabric, and I was able to find more at Blackbird Fabrics.  I was able to cut all the pieces out from the original 1.5 meters of fabric, minus the back piece. The back piece is just over a meter long, which meant I had to order another 1.5 meters of this fabric, since Blackbird Fabrics sells in .5 meter increments.

While I waited for the new batch of fabric to arrive, I was able to interface the pieces that needed interfacing, attach the button placket, and sew together part of the collar. I used the Kalle Sew Along that Closet Case did for this pattern.

Once the button placket is attached to the right side of the dress it gets pressed and then the raw edge is pressed over by a little bit to conceal the original seam from sewing on the placket.  I wish I had pressed the button placket in the final fold over amount before I sewed it on.  I seem to remember pressing before attaching on the last one I made. It was just a bit tricky to get it folded over that small amount after having it attached to the rest of the right front.  I think I could have gotten it more even if I had pressed before. That being said, it's hardly noticeable and on the inside.

This fabric was really tricky to cut and and keep from pulling off the straight of grain because it is so fluid.  I'm having to do lots of pinning to keep the stripes lining up. I'm glad to have the stripes though, because they help me keep everything straight and make it really clear when something is pulled out of shape a little bit.

Unfortunately, my collar pieces look a little wonky from not being completely perfectly cut, due to the fabric pulling off the straight of grain. They're not too far off, but in hindsight I probably should not have cut them on the fold with this fabric.

Once the new fabric arrived, I got busy cutting out the back piece and attaching the yoke. The fabric really doesn't have a right side and wrong side, which led to a bit of a comedy of errors. I sewed the yoke on the wrong way 3 times before I got it right!  Especially embarrassing since I've done this part on my two previous Kalle's.

It was a combination of not having a right and wrong side and also that previously I'd done a box pleat, and this time I did an inverted box pleat, so to me, the wrong side really looked like the right side!

Despite having done them twice before, I also struggled with the sleeve bands...I just couldn't get them to be a mirror image...even cut another set of front and back pieces...on my second time of ripping out the stitches, I realized I just needed to flip it around after it'd been sewn.  Face palm.  Apparently I have reaped no benefit from having made this in shirt form before. lol.

When I attached the sleeves, I pressed the inside edge down before sewing the sleeve bands on.  After I sewed on the bands, I used wash away wonder tape to make sure the folded inside edge was just on the seam line. It held brilliantly!

The bias binding on the hem worked like a charm. It was easy to apply and gives such a nice polished finish. 

The collar was easy to put on, using the Kalle Sewalong from Closet Case. It was one of the easiest things about the whole dress.  The effort to results ratio is very good with this collar. Low effort, extremely high results.

The buttonholes seemed to take forever, even after I figured out how I wanted to mark them without permanently staining my fabric - previous blog post here.

NINE BUTTONHOLES. NINE.  I don't breathe when I make buttonholes, so they seemed to take extra long. I had good results though.  I used 12mm buttons (that's half an inch) and 15 mm buttonholes (that's an extra 1/8" total). I would not have wanted the buttonholes any longer.

For the buttonhole placement, I used the buttonhole guide from the pattern, and marked the top of each buttonhole according to that, then marked the bottom of the buttonhole 15 mm down, to make it the length I wanted the buttonhole to be.

I used my sewing machine to sew on the buttons, but I was at a bit of a loss to figure out how to keep the button in place in the right spot.  I closed the button band, placed a pin in the middle, opened the button band, then put a teeny tiny square of wash away wonder tape right in the middle of where the pinpoint had been.  I put the button on the wonder tape, and it held well.  I had no problems sewing the buttons on in the exact spot I had intended.

After sewing on all the buttons, I used a hand sewing needle to bring any threads that remained at the front of the button through the holes and to the back.  Once each button had all the threads at the back, I tied a couple of knots at the back of the button to secure the threads a little better, and gave it a dab of Fray Check. 

Overall Impressions
First, I think the fabric choice really made this project. It's drapey and floaty, and the stripes are fun. The neutral grey/cream combo adds a bit more of a 'grown up' feeling to it.  The linen and rayon make it cool and a pleasure to wear. 

No matter how nice it is to wear, subjectively it really is not very flattering.  It's wide, boxy, shapeless, and the shapelessness can't be overcome by conforming to my own curves, because it is so wide.  It doesn't really touch me at all!

That being said, I think due to the fabric content, I do feel really good in this. Hopefully some of my confidence of feeling good outshines some of the boxyness.

Looking at versions of the Kalle that other people have made, I think that shortening it so the front comes above the knee would help with it being a little more flattering - so a couple of inches. This makes sense, since I am 5'4" and the pattern is drafted for those who are 5'6". 

I would also like to make a blouse length Kalle with a straight, or at lease straighter, hem. 

Even with all those buttons, I'd like to make it again.