Winter 6Pac 2013: Completed

I’ve had all of these garments sewn for about a month and a half now, but just got around to taking photos of them yesterday. So…here is my winter 6pac.

 Winter 2013 6Pac - WithNeedleAndThread

You’re looking at:

Grey M6844 Peplum Cardigan – view C – worn with a belt to keep it closed

I did manage to get this one photographed and blogged. See the details on this cardigan here.

Grey Boucle Knit M6844 cardigan – view A – with buttons added to the collar band  

winter 2013 6pac - WithNeedleAndThread

I picked up this great boucle knit from fabricmart a few months ago, as a birthday gift from some relatives. I had intended to make a simple pullover long-sleeve sweater and only ordered one yard of the grey. But, from the moment I opened the box, it screamed shawl collar cardigan/sweater jacket, and I was determined to make it happen.

I used the straight version of McCall 6844. I knew from the fit of the peplum version that the collar piece almost overlapped, so I used smaller seam allowances (3/8 rather than 5/8, I think) to give myself a bit more room. Then it was just a matter of figuring out how to put the buttons on. I liked the look of the folded-back collar, but was a bit unsure whether I would be able to get the machine to make pretty buttonholes through four layers of textured, lumpy knit. I even went out and bought some sew-in snaps, thinking the snaps would be functional and I could just sew decorative buttons over the top.

Before I began sewing the snaps in, I did what I probably should have done in the beginning, stopped being a wuss, and ran 4 layers of the knit (scrap, of course), through the buttonhole attachment on my Singer 15-91. Of course, it had no problems with the fabric and made me feel like an idiot for fretting about it at all. So, I quickly made my three buttonholes before it had a chance to decide that it didn’t like the fabric after all.

I love the way this jacket turned out. I think I’m going to try to tweak the collar pattern piece to create the illusion of an angled collar while still keeping the wide band. If it works, stay tuned for a similar jacket.
M6796 in teal rib knit

winter 6pac 2013 - WithNeedleAndThread

This is my tnt knit top pattern (see details below) merged with McCalls 6796. I learned from the first time I made this top (blogged here) that as much as I love this top, the bones of the patten didn’t fit quite the way I want. To Fix this, I traced a copy of my tnt tee pattern, then merged in the neckline and collar of the size 6 pattern so that I could get the details I wanted with the fit I was looking for.

My tnt Knit Top in a variegated, textured knit

winter 6pac 2013 - WithNeedleAndThread

One of my sewing goals, both in general and for my winter 2013 6pac was to develop a TNT (tried and tested or tried and true, depending on who you ask) knit top pattern. I’ve tried several knit top patterns from different companies and wasn’t thrilled with any, though New Look 6735 came close. I wound up combining (or “frankenpatterning”) New Look 6735 with M6796, then making some adjustments on that pattern, narrowing the shoulder by about an inch, raising the armscye by about the same, and removing some of the ease from the waist through hip area. I also added several neckline options, a v-neck, low scoop, and high scoop.

I don’t have photos of all of the muslins that I made, but I think it took me about 6 attempts to get to a pattern I am consistently happy with. Not to worry, those of you who dislike waste, I did finish all of the muslins and have since donated them to a local nonprofit.
2 pairs of black jeans from my tnt jeans pattern -  one with jeans pockets/stitching and one without.

These are probably my most commonly worn pants yet. And the most versatile. And my most commonly worn. And quite possibly the most boring to make. There’s really nothing exciting about black jeans, but they sure are useful.

As you may expect by now, I used my regular jeans pattern, with the waistband from the Jalie dress pants (that I still haven’t gotten around to making up). The first paire is a very lightweight denim and seemed to have a lot of stretch. So, I ended up sewing nearly the entire pair of pants twice. First, I basted the main pieces together (including the zipper fly) to check fit and determine how much extra I’d need to incorporate into my seam allowances for each various piece. Then sewed, serged, and topstitched everything for real. Though this process does make the jeans take longer, it also gives me more control over the fit, since each stretch denim has a different stretch to it.

These jeans look good with a casual knit top and ugg type boots, but I can also dress them up with a sweater and/or blazer for a perfect outfit to wear to the office. I could easily wear these jeans every day of the week and think nothing of it.

The second pair is a heavy scuba knit that I got from fabricmartfabrics. There wasn’t much stretch to the fabric, but just enough for my pattern to work well. After basting the pieces together, I realized that leaving off the traditional ‘jeans’ details would result in a much nicer-looking pant, so I left off the back pockets and most of the topstitching. I also used a sew-on button rather than a traditional metal jeans tack button. My only complaint about this pair is that the fabric picks up every little bit of fuzz that blows by.

I love all 6 of these pieces, and they have all quickly become “go-to” staples in my closet. So, a very successful 6pac. I’m now looking forward to adding to them with some pieces that will transition from winter to spring. Though with our super mild winter, there’s really not going to be much of a change.

Jumping on the Peplum Trend with McCall’s 6844

I, along with a lot of others based on the number of recent reviews on patternreview.com, loved the line drawing/envelope photo for McCall’s 6844, an open-front knit cardigan with a collar that extends into a front band, with two hem shapes and lengths. I liked the line drawings for both of the shorter views, but decided to first make view C, the shorter version with an asymmetric peplum hem.

M6844 Cardigan - withneedleandthread

Several of the reviews suggested that the pattern runs large. I measure for a size 10-12 in Big4 patterns, but have found that that includes way too much wearing ease, especially in knit patterns. This pattern comes in XS (6-8), S (10-12), M (14-16), and I decided to make an XS and followed the suggestions on the pattern for petite adjustments (shortening the bodice and sleeves). Even with the petite adjustments, the waist seam still hit a bit lower than I wanted it, so I just used a slightly larger seam allowance to sew the peplum to the bodice, which served not only to raise the waist seam, but also to shorten the peplum. I also took the same increased seam from the center back of the collar to maintain proportion between the pieces.

Even with the larger seam, the back of the peplum hit far too low to be flattering on me. I ended up chopping off 3 inches from the center back of the peplum, tapering to nothing at the side seam (which would then meet with the front) and love the length that it ended up, just long enough in the back to make it clear that it was supposed to be longer. Also, if I were making it again, I would narrow the shoulders just a bit.

This is an easy piece to make and a very versatile addition to my wardrobe. I originally thought I didn’t need two peplum cardigans, but I love this one and now see another in my future, maybe in a color (rather than a neutral, I mean. I do know that grey is a color, thanks Dad). I’ll definitely be trying view A come spring.

Winter 2013 6PAC Plan: Boring Basics

If you couldn’t tell from the title, I’m calling my upcoming winter 6PAC boring basics (see a description of the 6PAC sew-along andthe current thread here on Artisan’s Square). As the weather has been cooling down and I’ve been reaching for long sleeved shirts and sweaters, I realized basically all of my ‘nice’ (ie good to wear to work) shirts are more appropriate for summer rather than winter.

For winter, the basic formula is:

1 – warm topper! coat, thick jacket, heavy sweater, something for cool temperatures – ideally a dark neutral
2 – lighter topper – cardigan, shirt – a colour
3 – a top to wear under the toppers – in a light or dark neutral
4 – another top to wear under the toppers – in shade of the colour
5 – a bottom, dark neutral
6 – another bottom, dark neutral

My bottoms will be two pairs of ‘dressy jeans’ – one black with black top-stitching, and either black with a little more visual interest (black with white/grey/silver stitching and light decorative stitching on the pockets) or charcoal grey with matching stitching. Two long sleeved shirts – one cowl or turtleneck sweater in teal and one in a teal/navy/green version of the same fabric that I used for my split collar sweater blogged here. As for the outer layers/toppers, I have more of a need for casual office-wear rather than a warm coat, so I’m thinking of making both views of M6844 cardigan, one grey and one black. Or else returning to my favorite jacket pattern, Simplicity 1919 and making a lined version, interlined with fleece for warmth.Or maybe some other jacket pattern.

My current storyboard looks something like this, though is subject to change:

A Sweater and New to Me Thread

I picked up this orange/red variegated sweater knit more than a year ago, with the intent to make a cardigan that could be work with a ton of different colored tops, but never got around to actually making the cardigan. Possibly because this fabric screams Autumn to me, and by the time Autumn does roll around, I want something warmer than a light knit cardigan even though I live in California, where the seasons barely change.

As I was thinking about my corduroy jeans, this fabric popped into my head and I knew I had to make something with it this season. I fell in love with this split cowl sweater pattern as soon as I saw the pictures when the McCall autumn patterns first came out. I put it on my list and picked it up the next time patterns were on sale at JoAnn. Initially, I wasn’t sure how the pattern and fabric would pair, but I figured if I didn’t like the cowl collar, I could always just make a band and hem it as a t-shirt.

I don’t know if it was the pattern or the fabric, but I had to remove a lot of fabric from the pieces. I think I ended up taking about an inch off of each side seam. Once I had the top fitting, I basted the collar on, and absolutely loved it. The angled/split cowl with the buttons gives the top just enough of a pop to make it more than just a t-shirt without being too edgy/extreme.

With Needle and Thread - M6796 Split Cowl Sweater

While I love the look of this fabric, it is certainly not the easiest knit to work with. Even my serger didn’t like it. After some googling, I found Wooly Nylon thread (also called textured nylon, stretch nylon or bulky nylon, depending on the brand of thread). I ordered some online, and it was in my machine 4 days later.

I set up the machine with the nylon thread in both loopers as well as both needles, using bobbins filled with the wooly nylon thread for two of the spools. I forgot to take before and after pictures, but the difference was pretty amazing. The fabric fed through the serger a lot easier, and looked much happier once I was done.

Since the construction/serging had gone so well, I decided not to mess with success and try hemming the top with the serger rather than setting up the coverhem machine. Of course, when I tried to do a rolled hem, the machine tried to eat the fabric. So, instead I did a 3-thread serged edge and got a much cleaner finish.

The cowl seems to shift a lot, especially in the back (and therefore bunches and doesn’t lay flat). I’m considering tacking the cowl to the shirt body in a few places to try to prevent bunching, but haven’t done it yet. Overall, I really like this pattern. Though it is fairly distinctive, I do plan to make one or two more, as I have a feeling it will look significantly different in different colors/textures.

Chocolate Corduroy Jeans

As soon as I started thinking about sewing for Autumn/Fall (way back in July), I started thinking about chocolate brown corduroy jeans. Three months later, they’re finally done. I used my TNT (tried and true) jeans pattern, but since this fabric doesn’t have as much stretch as the denims I’d used in my past few pairs, I added an extra 1/4 inch to the outseam on the front pieces. Turns out I only needed it through the hip, as I ended up taking about the same amount back out after putting the waistband on, but I’m glad I had added it.
 Corduroy Jeans - With Needle and Thread
The only other change I made was to the waistband. I ‘borrowed’ the waistband from Jalie 2561, which I plan to test in the next few weeks. Since I don’t know how the pattern will fit, I basted the waistband pieces together, then took out equal amounts from each seam until it was the right length for my jeans. I really like the way this waistband fits – it doesn’t feel like it will stretch as much as the waistbands in some of my other jeans have.
Now, I just need the weather to cool down enough for me to wear them without looking silly. Actually, on second thought, I think I’d rather have the weather stay nice and wait to wear my jeans.

My New Go-Tos – Jeans and a Top

As soon as I finished my white jeans (blogged here) in July, I realized that neutral jeans other than the typical light and dark blue denim were sorely missing from my closet. Since then, I’ve been on a mission to add more options to my wardrobe, starting with tan jeans. Much to my surprise, it was very difficult to find tan/beige stretch denim. I even contemplated buying a pair of RTW jeans in a large size and cutting them up to make mine. I ended up finding one shade of tan stretch denim at fabric.com a few weeks ago. It isn’t quite as dark a tan as I’d hoped for, and the finished jeans look a bit more spring/summer-y than autumn-y, but I’m glad they’re done and in my closet now. I must have just been looking in the wrong season, because now that I’m done, I’m seeing tan stretch denim frequently.

This is my TNT (tried and true) jeans pattern, with a contoured waistband that I borrowed from a random pattern in my stash – though I don’t remember which it was now. I think with the next pair, I’ll probably use the 3 piece, stitched waistband from Jalie 2561. Even though that puts seams in that aren’t in most jeans waistbands, it seems to give a snugger fit and to stay put without a belt. It’s rare that I wear a tucked-in shirt with jeans, and when I do, I wear a belt anyway, so no one will see the extra seams, or so I hope.

As I was making the back pockets, I had a not-so-fleeting worry that especially in my petite size, these jeans may wind up looking like school uniform pants, particularly if I ever wear them with some sort of collared shirt. So, I decided to add a bit of embroidery/ decorative stitching to the back pockets. Though with the thread I used, you can barely see it, I used one of the decorative stitches on my Babylock machine combined with a few rows of straight stitching. Regardless of whether or not anyone else notices it, I like knowing that it’s there. And just may use this same design detail on another pair when I make something with contrasting topstitching.

Also shown here is my now-several-months-old-and-never-blogged favorite short sleeve top, based on the Hot Patterns Fringe Festival Scarf Top. I omitted both center front and center back seams, as well as the scarf. To hem, I just folded up the knit fabric and ran the sleeves, hem, and neck edges through my coverstitch machine. I think I need a bit of work coverstitching in corners/vs, but that’s just an excuse to make more tops.

These are the first two items in my Autumn 6Pac collection based on the 2013 6-Piece Autumn Collection (6PAC) Sew-Along (August-October) thread on Stitcher’s Guild dedicated to 6-piece collections of basic wardrobe items, complete with seasonal guidelines. Items 3 and 4 are almost done, so stay tuned for more on them shortly.

Summer 2013 6PAC – Completed

I finally got pictures of my 6PAC. I’d been using my brother’s tripod, but he loaned it to a friend…so I enlisted him as a photographer instead. Which, of course, means that I was a bit rushed and didn’t style/accessorize at all.

I ended up with a nearly entirely different 6pac than I set out to create. I really wanted a white drapey cardigan, but tried 3 patterns that did nothing for me. Then, I decided that I really would never wear a navy jacket, so I nixed that one. Also ended up with three different tops than were in my original plan. But…I really like what I ended up with and have been wearing every piece a lot.

I ended up with:

1. White jeans – my own self-drafted pattern

2. Blue jeans with embroidered back pockets and grey topstitching – my own self-drafted pattern

3. Green-grey jacket – Simplicity 1919

4. Striped sleeved tank – Simplicity 1613

5. Blue-green wavy knit top – Hot Patterns Fringe Festival Scarf Top (without the scarf)

6. White drapey top with faux shrug – Simplicity 2364

Some comments on the patterns:

Simplicity 1919 runs a bit big. The first one I made was a size 12 in a knit fabric. When making knit tops, I usually use size 10. In a woven like the green jacket above, I went up to a 14, which fits great. I love the subtle peplum and princess seams in this pattern. I would love to make this jacket again, but wonder if it is too unique – and if the peplum detail will make it go out of style faster. Regardless, I am very happy with this jacket.

This is the third time that I’ve made Simplicity 2364. You can see my first attempt here, from several months ago. Between the two versions, I went down from a 12 to a 10, and the pattern fits much better. I really like the combination of the shrug and draped neckline. This pattern comes together very easily – and I love that the neckline is finished during the sewing process – so there is no extra hemming to be done at the end.

I initially bought Simplicity 1613 for the twisted neckline t-shirt, which was included in my original 6pac plan. However, once I made up the shirt, I didn’t like the busy neckline. I think there was just too much going on in too small an area on me. Since I had the pattern, I decided to try the other view included. I didn’t make a muslin – just cut into my ‘real’ fabric and hoped it worked – and it did. I used a striped stretch lace, intending to wear this top over a tank top. I don’t know that this is really my style, and it will likely get the least amount of wear of anything in this 6pac. But, the pattern was very easy to sew, and if I do find myself wearing the shirt a lot, would not hesitate to make it again in another color.

Hot Patterns Fringe Festival Scarf Top is a free pattern that can be found on Fabric.com. I’ve made this top several times, and love all of them. In this version (and most that I’ve made), I eliminated both the center front and center back seams, left off the scarf detail, and shortened the top by several inches. I really like the fit of this pattern, and it has become my go-to cut-on sleeve pattern.

The Jeans – I love having a tnt jeans pattern. It’s great fun to make a pattern that I know will fit right, where I can focus on the details and creative design rather than on fit. Note to self when making white jeans in the future: use a thin, white fabric for the pocket bags and test before sewing to make sure they don’t show through too much. After sewing much of the white jeans together, I realized that the pocket bags showed through majorly. I ended up cutting off the pocket bags at the end of the facing. About all that will fit in the pockets now is some change or a stick of gum, but I don’t use my pockets much anyway.