Fabric Mart Mystery Bundle

With my most recent Fabric Mart purchase, I decided to do something I don’t often do and buy a mystery bundle. I chose the 6 yard bundle, then anxiously awaited my package, obsessively checking the tracking every day. When it finally arrived, I’m not sure whether I was more excited to see the fabric that I chose myself (several textured double knits for lightweight blazers and cardigans and a few ITY knits for summer tops and dresses) or the fabric that was in the mystery bundle.

My mystery bundle contained:

navy cotton jersey knit (bottom right)
heathered light greyish-tan poly jersey knit (bottom left)
a black and white floral print with a bright green border ITY knit (top)

 

 

 

For as much as I love wearing navy, I had a grand total of 0 solid navy long sleeved shirts. So, I decided to use the navy cotton knit jersey from my Fabric Mart mystery bundle to make a basic navy long sleeve shirt using my tnt knit top pattern (a heavily modified New Look 6735).

Since I wear jackets/blazers/cardigans over my tops a good 90+% of the time, I love having an interesting neckline that will “pop” under an overlayer. As I was cutting out the pieces, I noticed the edges had a tendency to curl in a kind of pretty way. I decided to make use of this, and cut and curled narrow strips to use as trim around the neckline.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My first thought when I pulled this jersey out of the box was “oh, comfy top.” The knit is a bit sheer, so I wanted to make a top that I could easily layer a tank under, if it turned out to be too sheer to wear on its own. I used Simplicty 2364 (view A), a 3/4 sleeve top with a sewn-on faux shrug detail, and supposedly a cowl neckline. Though I’ve used the pattern before and gotten a super deep cowl, somehow this time, with this fabric, I ended up with a fairly straight neckline.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have to admit that I was a bit befuddled as to what to make when I realized that the stretch in this black, white, and green floral border print meant that the border ran vertical rather than horizontal. And while I loved the floral, the green border threw me for a bit of a loop. I wanted to feature it, but didn’t want an entire green line down the length of a top or dress. First I thought about cutting the border off and reattaching it running horizontally. Then I thought about making a pair of leggings that used the green border along the side seam, but wasn’t sure I’d actually wear them enough to make them worth making. I started thinking about other patterns that I have that have interesting seams that could highlight the border print, and came up with Lekala 5883, a “sleeveless dress with bias dart.” I cut the pattern in half along the center front, so that I could place it so the border would fall on the center front and disappear as the dart and lower center front seam are sewn. I’m not a fan of sleeveless dresses, so I added small cap sleeves using the sleeve from my tnt knit top pattern.

 

 

 

Beaded Blouse – Lekala 5767

WithNeedleAndThread - Beaded Blouse

 

Several years ago, when I was first getting into sewing clothing and before I knew anything about what I was doing, I picked up two 2 yard pieces of a mystery poly blend woven fabric. It’s been sitting in my closet ever since, keeping quiet about what it really wanted to be since I rarely sew with lightweight wovens.

As soon as the first round of the Pattern Review sewing bee was announced (see the rules here – we were challenged to make a fitted blouse in about a week), this fabric started screaming at me. It wanted to be a fitted blouse with ruffles and beadwork.

I used Lekala 5767, a fitted blouse with shaping through front and back princess seams as well as darts, 3/4 length set-in sleeves, button front closure, and a collar with collar stand.

Outside of the fit of the blouse, many of the details of the blouse were inspired by a RTW Alberto Makali blouse (see inspiration and original pattern in photo below).

The pattern had a collar and collar stand, which I used as drafted in the pattern. The collar is a bit oversized, which I liked for this particular blouse as it allows the collar to stand out amongst the ruffles. However, if I were making the blouse as originally drafted, I would probably reduce the collar a bit.

I added a 1 inch ruffle (made with a straight strip of fabric with one edge finished with a serged rolled hem, then gathered to about ¾ its original length). The ruffle runs from below the collar, down the right front, around the back, and only partway up the left front, then picking up again where the left front again becomes visible (thereby reducing bulk under the overlap between the two front pieces).

I also rounded the center fronts at the lower hem level so that the ruffles would settle smoothly into place.

As a trim/finishing detail, I added 22 individually stitched beads along the inner border of the ruffle running along the right front from the lowest snap up to the collar, and again on the left front where visible along the neckline and two at the corners of the collar.

The pattern called for buttons and buttonholes, but after adding my ruffle, I opted to instead use four sew-in snaps, which I carefully stitched into the reinforced hem/ruffle seam.

I lengthened the sleeves by 1 inch, and removed the slit, and left off the tie, instead finishing my sleeve with a simple turned hem so that the focus would remain on the above-mentioned details.

All internal seams were finished with serging in the same thread as the hem of the ruffle.

 

The pattern fit well as drafted – I’ve used Lekala patterns enough to have a fairly good idea of which measurements and adjustments will give me the closest to accurate fit for different types of garments (usually not my exact measurements). I did raise the armscye for a closer fit and slightly increased range of movement.

Lekala patterns aren’t known for their instructions. However, I’ve found that since I’m not relying on the instructions for each step (and the patterns have great bones), the patterns are often great jumping-off points for making projects your own.

I basically gave the instructions a quick read-through, sewed the bodice, then ignored the instructions for the remainder of the blouse, instead relying on several online tutorials and videos for instruction on how to sew the collar/collar stand, and reminders on things such as the supposedly proper way to press a dart.

Going into this project, I thought that my biggest challenge was going to be the collar as I’d never made a collar with a stand and collar piece before – I’d made each before, but not in combination with one another.

However, it turns out that my biggest challenge was actually the ruffle that I added – first I couldn’t gather it evenly, then when I was basting it to the blouse, I caught the ruffle up in the seam in at least 5 places and had to carefully remove the stitches and re-stitch. It was more a case of my thinking it should be easy and not giving it my full attention than anything else, so lesson learned – don’t get distracted and think about what to write in your review while still sewing the blouse.

I didn’t realize it until taking pictures, but my biggest issue with the finished blouse is that the fabric shows every wrinkle every time I so much as flinch. And the fabric doesn’t breathe. At all. But that should make it a great blouse for me for fall when everyone else is still wearing t-shirts and shorts and I’m freezing.

Summer Sewing Roundup: Part 1

It seems that this summer, I was more into the sewing than the writing-about-the-sewing. Before I knew it, summer was essentially over, and I had a pile of new clothes, but no new blog posts. At least I was being productive with one of the two, and will aim for a better balance this season. Though it was fun to write this post and look back at how well everything I’ve made in the last few months works with each other to form a cohesive and easy-to-wear wardrobe. I also seem to have ended up with a bunch of tops that look great with white jeans, which wasn’t my intent when I chose my fabrics, but is nice for summer.

WithNeedleAndThread - Lekala 4119

WithNeedleAndThread - Lekala 4119

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lekala 4119, a kimono sleeve, drapey cowl-neck top was the first pattern that I took on for the summer season. A very simple pattern, with just three pieces, this is a great pattern for those who aren’t sure about digital download patterns (though, I, myself, am sold on the idea and have no problems taping printer paper together).

I loved the first one (pink floral) that I quickly whipped up a second version of this top. Both tops are made with ITY knit, which I think is one of the best fabrics for this style top as it has a lot of drape and doesn’t form permanent wrinkles within the cowl.

I did find that the pattern had a bit more ease than I was expecting, and the sleeves were far longer and baggier than I was expecting. I ended up taking about an inch+ from the bottom of the sleeve, tapering a similar wedge down to very little at the side. I also added a bit to the top curve of the front cowl to get more fabric to drape and fill the neckline. The top wound up being long enough without the hem band that I was able to leave off the band for a slightly dressier look. Once I decided that I was going to leave off the band, I realized that this would be a great project for me to play with the rolled hem stitch on my serger, and finished all edges with a lettuce/ruffle rolled hem.

WithNeedleAndThread - Lekala 4284

I followed this pattern with another Lekala pattern, Lekala 4284, a knit top with a bow-style back, and a subtle (or not, depending on your fabric choices) yoke in the front. There are darts drafted into the front of the pattern, but I chose to leave them off and to ease the excess material into the seam as I sewed the side seams. Much to my excitement, this was the only alteration that I made to the pattern. Well, that and hemming the sleeves with a deeper hem to get more of a cap sleeve.

Although it looks like it would be a stand-out type of piece that you would only have room in your closet for one of, I quickly made this top in three different fabrics (a print, a textured solid, and a solid with lace and lace overlays on the bow/yoke),  and get different reactions to all three versions. I love that the front is modest/subtle, yet when you turn around there is a pop of style from the dipped bow.

After making these five shirts, I decided it was time to get away from knit tops and add another type of garment to my wardrobe. Stay tuned for Summer Sewing Roundup: Part 2 shortly.

Burberry Brit- Inspired Outfit

Since I’ve started making my own clothes, I’ve found that I enjoy browsing catalogs/websites searching for inspiration. Back in the beginning of March, we got a thick Bloomingdales catalog in the mail (they were advertising some upcoming sale, if I recall correctly). Out of the entire catalog (which was close to an inch thick), I tore out about 6 pages of things I liked – either in color, silhouette, or style. Apparently I liked one complete outfit much more than I realized I did because it kept popping back into my head off and on for the next few weeks. Even through I’ve never been a huge fan of stripes or polka dots, these fabrics started catching my eye – in other garments, in store windows, and in fabric shops (the most dangerous place known to woman). When I saw the Barganista Fashionista challenge on Pattern Review, I knew that I had to make this outfit that had so constantly wiggled its way into my subconscious.

At the time I began this project, I couldn’t find photos of any of the three pieces online. About midway through the month, they did appear on Bloomingdales’ website. However, the blazer has the stripes going in the opposite direction (vertical rather than horizontal) and the pockets are a bit different. I like the horizontal stripes much better, so I decided to stick with the original magazine photo rather than the photos from the website.

These pieces are:
Burberry Brit White and Navy Striped Blazer: $465
White and Navy Polka Dot Sweater: $350
Navy Highcross Skinny Trousers: $325
The total cost for this outfit is $1,140

With Needle And Thread - Burberry Inspired Outfit

For my outfit, I started with the blazer, which seemed like the most time-consuming piece. Since I’ve never worked with stripes, it seemed like darts rather than princess seams would be the better choice. So, I started looking for a pattern that would suit these needs. I ended up using Lekala 5018, a classic darted blazer and making a few tweaks to make it look more like the inspiration blazer, The fabric is, I believe a cotton canvas type home decor fabric that my mom picked up at a flea market several years ago. She got a bolt that had about 7 yards for $5 ($.072 per yard). While the inspiration jacket claims to be navy stripes, the first time I saw the photo, I was sure they were teal stripes, and a perfect match for my fabric. I still like the teal stripes.

As far as the pattern goes, it fit well “out of the envelope” and I only had to make a few fitting tweaks: removing some ease from the sleeve head and narrowing the sleeve by about an inch. I also lowered the break of the lapel and curved the front hem rather than using the straight lines of the pattern. I decided not to line this jacket, and instead drafted a back facing to attach to the front facings/lapels. Even after washing, this fabric is rather stiff and bulky, so I decided to simply serge all of the raw edges around the hems/sleeves/facings. I opted against shoulder pads, going for more a dressy jean jacket type feel, and used random white buttons from my stash. This was my first time working with striped fabric, and I am fairly happy with how the stripes lined up throughout the jacket.

I had planned on making patch pockets with flaps, as in the inspiration photo, and even cut them out, but didn’t like the way they fit on my jacket, so I decided to leave off the pockets. Yay for making clothes yourself and being able to do whatever you want with the finished look.

Cost: $1.94
Fabric: $0.72 x 2 yards = $1.44
Notions: 2 3/4″ buttons from my stash, $0.55

It was harder than I thought it would be to find a white with dark dots polka dot fabric. I finally found a white polka dot cotton jersey at lowpricefabric.com. I ordered the fabric (1 yard at $4.00) on a Saturday and had the top finished the following Friday. I did deviate from the original inspiration a bit in this piece. The Burberry top was a long sleeve sweater, and since Summer is quickly coming (and it’s a relatively warm Spring), I went for 3/4 length sleeves. I used my tnt knit top pattern, NL 6735, in which I have made the armscye smaller, changed the angle of the shoulder, removed ease from the sleeve head and sleeve, raised the neckline, and removed some ease from the sideseams through the waist area. I gave my top a banded neckline, and used my coverstitch machine to hem the sleeves and bottom hem.

Cost:$4.00
Fabric: $4.00 x 1 yard = $4.00
Notions: none

In the inspiration photo, it looked like the model was wearing dark skinny jeans, so that is what I decided to make (coincidentally, dark skinny jeans have been on my ‘to make’ list for several months, so that is one thing to cross off). When the pants finally appeared online, I realized that they actually aren’t jeans, but decided to stick with my jeans anyway. The jeans were easily the most expensive undertaking for this outfit, though that’s not saying much. I used a dark denim that I bought last year from Fabric.com. The pattern is my tnt jeans pattern that I made using Kenneth King’s Jeanious class on Craftsy, and have used many times before. My pattern is a cross between straight and bootcut legs, and I wanted tapered legs. Since all stretch denims seem to stretch differently, I baste the legs on every pair before stitching the inseam/sideseam, which provides me with the perfect opportunity to tweak the seam allowances all along the leg for a custom tapered fit. I’ve found that I like a skirt/slacks zipper better than the traditional jeans zipper because the pulls are typically less bulky and are less likely to create ridges along the fly.

Cost: $11.86
Fabric: 6.98 x 1.5 yards = 10.47
notions: basic 7″ zipper and jeans button from my stash, both of which I bought in bulk several months ago, $.039

Total cost for all 3 items: 17.85
Total percent savings: 98.4%

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.

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.

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.