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You may recall, I made Mr. AFS a plaid flannel shirt a little over a year ago from Simplicity 1544. Since then I’ve gone on to make more versions of the shirt, perfecting fitting problems each time and so this iteration is pretty much near perfect for his body and build. Additionally, he wears that first flannel shirt a lot when it starts getting cold. In fact, it’s surprising just how much he wears it considering he doesn’t like plaid – it’s the flannel. He just loves the warmth. So I thought it was time that he received another. I hauled him on over to a Joann and had him pick out his own flannel this time. They have a surprising collection of flannels – called “plaiditudes” – that are quite thick and fluffy and soft. They wash up OK (just OK, not great) too and since I can’t get my hands on any of that Robert Kaufman Mammoth Flannel locally, this works.

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Fitting changes for Simplicity 1544 since the first iteration: I’ve had to widen the collar – or make it 2 sizes larger because the original was too small in the neck. I narrowed the shoulder seam so that the point where the sleeve connects rests at the point where his shoulder point actually is and doesn’t droop over the side (which is not necessarily a bad thing, just not the look I was going for). Had to give him a little extra room in the upper back and then nipped in the waist section a touch. The sleeves were considerably shortened (very long in the sleeve on this pattern) and the cuff tightened.

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Since this flannel is so wonderfully thick, I thought I should try my hand at a convertible collar version for this shirt as it seemed like it could cut down on the bulk in the neck area. I took a vintage pj top pattern (which I made for Mr. AFS a few years ago!) and stole the collar and the facing piece from it and converted my Simplicity 1544 to have a convertible collar option. From there, I made a few more drafting decisions based on eliminating bulk. I decided to create an all-in-one convertible collar and I did a fold over facing instead of one that is stitched on. The all-in-one convertible collar is pretty slick. It’s an idea that I saw Louise Cutting do (Threads article here) and I’ve long wanted to try it because I love basically everything that woman does. You basically take the collar piece, eliminate the seam at the collar’s edge and attach an under collar that has a seam down the center back of the collar. It has all the bells and whistles of a jacket collar, but all in one – the under collar section is on a slight bias (not a true 45• angle, but still) and has a seam down the center and that creates a nice turn of the cloth for the upper collar. Seriously, slick.

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I stole a new pocket pattern from the Negroni free download – great pocket patterns by the way! – and from there it was all easy as pie. This is also one of my best ever plaid matching jobs. I opted to use Tasia’s way of cutting plaids this time – well sort of. I prep my pattern pieces a little differently for a plaid, but I used her pinning technique for the fabric. I’ve normally done the pieces one by one. I’ll lay a just cut piece on top of another that’s not cut to make sure I get an exact match and pretty much 100% of the time, the cut piece gets distorted just by moving it and/or the cutting is never as precise as doing them in double layer. It sounds a little crazy, but it happens. Cutting two layers at once eliminates that small distortion and can produce a more happy plaid matching experience. Just some food for thought.

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Mr. AFS is loving his new shirt. Fits quite a bit better than the first version and I’m liking the convertible collar here. Itching to make my own! Previously, I’ve not been much of a convertible collar fan, but they have a place. Yay for plaid flannel shirt weather!

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Fitting Thoughts on McCall’s 6649

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Since I got you all excited about creating your own patterns – from a pattern that already fits you – in my last post, I thought I would give you some fitting thoughts of what I went through with my versions of McCall’s 6649. I posted an update about the Craftsy class with Sarah Holden in my last post, but I thought I would state it again. This particular class does not offer any help whatsoever for fitting. It focuses on pattern drafting from a pattern that fits you. The fitting process is a whole class unto itself, so that was not covered in a class like this (but see below for more info on my fitting references). Often times fitting, for me, is a really rotten and time consuming process (isn’t it for everyone?). One thing I really really don’t enjoy is that I tend to start second guessing myself at the end of it all. Do I really like the fit of this? Maybe I should make a few more tweaks? Shouldn’t it be more fitted? Hmmm, the sleeve might be an 1/8″ too long? An 1/8″? Isn’t that a little nuts? Are we actually trying to split hairs here? AHHHHH! This process is called overfitting and it happens, I think, to all of us (well I hope it does or I am a bona fide nut job). I usually have to step back from something like this and then come back to it a few days or weeks later.

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With McCall’s 6649, I made an initial muslin. From there I created this flannel shirt that I blogged back in August of last year. That was my first rendition. The sleeves were too short, the collar was too tall and flopped about too much (for my taste). The shoulders needed a forward shoulder adjustment, the sleeve cuff was too big. I also like to sew the button placket in a different way (this is just too lumpy for my taste). These were things that needed fixing even after I had done a muslin and made extensive fitting adjustments before I made up this version! In case you were worried, I didn’t pick this pattern back up and finish the fitting process until December 2014. It did not take me since last August to fit this pattern! Ha ha! Now that would be bad!

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My second round proved better. I measured a sleeve and cuff from a button-up shirt I had and liked the fit of and then adjusted my pattern accordingly. Also compared the collars and made more adjustments to my pattern. The sleeve cuff on this one still ended up being too big for my taste preferences. And yes, I totally added lace to this one! This is a Liberty of London print, just in case you were wondering.

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I adjusted the sleeve cuff for this favorite version (read more about this one here)! The cuff is a  little more fitted and that’s exactly the way I like them. This shirt, I daresay is perfect. Again on this shirt, I opted not to sew in the vertical darts on the front bodice, just to mix it up a little. I like things boxy sometimes and I was curious to see if it still “fit” if I didn’t sew in the darts. It fits just fine, it’s just a different sort of fit which is good because then the wheels start turning and I start seeing possibilities for future hacks!

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And then just to be safe, I made one more version in a most beloved Liberty of London that I had been stashing for some time for just this very purpose. I decided to go whole hog and do all of the things, including front vertical darts and pockets with flaps.

I decided to show you all of these because I feel that sometimes people might think that fitting can be solved after one muslin iteration. While a lot of it can and the garment you make next is usually just fine or at least wearable, you’ll end up wanting to tweak things for an even better fit in the next go around. Why? Because you CAN! Hello fitting ninja! The kinks come out of it pretty well when you’re into your third make from the same pattern – at least this has been my experience. Granted, there are a lot of patterns out there that I don’t make multiples of. Sometimes those patterns are just one hit wonders, but base patterns like these I take a good long time with and really get the fit right on par for what I want.

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I took this class on Craftsy quite some time ago, which I found to be incredibly useful pre-muslin – Fast Track Fitting with Joi Mahon. Her follow-up class is really good too, Fast Track Fitting, in the Details. She’s also got a great book out – Create the Perfect Fit – and all of these resources stick to the same method that she really tries to drill into your brain – measure your body, measure and adjust the pattern. I like her method a lot because you use measurements from your body and then you adjust the pattern before you do your initial muslin. It clears up a lot of the big problems. After the muslin phase, I tweak the fit utilizing the first edition of Fitting & Pattern Alteration. Really, really awesome fitting book.

OK, well I think that’s enough about fitting for one day. Hopefully there’s some good information here for those of you who might be stuck or thinking about overfitting every sewing pattern you’ve ever made! Do you make multiples of patterns to get the fit just right? Do you over fit? I know, it’s totally a thing, right?

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A number of things have started happening around here. We are getting ready to break some sad news. Ugh, so not looking forward to that, but sometimes this is the way things go. I’ll be talking more about this in my next post. I’ve been sewing like a crazy person and just making, making, making. Feels good. So while I have bad news to break, I’ve also been productive and feeling positive.

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This is another McCall’s 6649 pattern hack. Don’t believe me? Let’s start from the neck down and I’ll give you the play by play here.

  • got rid of the collar and changed the neckline
  • made a forward shoulder yoke
  • got rid of the bust dart in the front and didn’t sew in the waist dart
  • turned the back darts into princess seams
  • retained the hemline in the back and straightened the hemline in the front
  • the sleeve was shortened and cut on the bias and then I added tabs for visual interest

If you’re wondering what you can do with a basic pattern – like McCall’s 6649 – well, I’ll be here showing you what I do. If you’re interested, I took this class on Craftsy – One Pattern, Many Looks with Sarah Holden. Highly, highly recommend. It’s about pattern drafting, and getting the most from a TNT (tried and true sewing pattern). It’s a class that I would definitely recommend for anyone. It’s just really good and it helps you think outside the box instead of thinking that a shiny new sewing pattern is the answer. Not saying that it wouldn’t be the answer, I’m just saying that before you go fit-fighting with yet another sewing pattern, you might be able to create something similar by using a pattern that already fits you! Soapbox officially ended.

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So, some more things you should know. I have a ton of lace leftover from my brick and mortar shop and I thought to myself, just cuz it’s ivory and white does not mean that you can’t use it for something that is not a wedding. And I made this top especially to go with jeans. No joke. The hemline length and style were meant to be worn with my jeans. I didn’t want it too over the top, but I’m into bling if I can get away with it and this is one of those times where I’m pretty sure I did. What do you think?

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That said, while I’m loving the style and beauty of this blouse, I don’t know that I feel this color does me any favors. Looks very much like my skin tone – but I’m still going to wear it! With pride!

If you’re curious, this is the art deco lace from the shop. I paired it with a silk charmeuse that I had, and then also made the sleeve from the double georgette that is in the shop. Fancy, huh? To be honest, this is one of those types of blouses that I tell everyone else to make all the time and then never do it myself. I’ve seen this sort of trend a lot – having the blouse front be a different fabric (or lace overlay) from the back – and since I have a bit of lace myself, I thought it would be great to try.

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I made my jeans too. They are a rub-off from the jeans you’ve seen me in in a few of my lasts posts. I pilfered the back pocket from Closet Case Files awesome Ginger jeans and then I followed several of Heather’s tutorials and insights into jeans via her Ginger sewalong. She did such an amazing job with that which is no surprise. I have plans to try the Gingers in the not too distant future. They look pretty awesome on everyone I’ve seen make them so far.

Well, that’s it for today. Have you ever worked with lace?

C&S Bespoke, Meet McCall’s 6649

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This is one of my first pattern hacks for my beloved McCall’s 6649 (sadly out of print now, boo hoo, but you could achieve the same look with the Sewaholic Granville!). Nothing really major here. I extended the back yoke into a front yoke and then took the bust dart and turned them into shoulder gathers. If you’re interested, I’m posting these pattern hacks and several other mini tutorials on my Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest. I love tips and so I thought you might like some of my tips here and there for various things that I’m working on at the moment.

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Anyway, this shirt. For the next round, I’m thinking that I would increase the shoulder gathers a bit. There’s just not enough gathering for my taste, but outside of that, I love this shirt. It’s made from that new Cotton & Steel Bespoke double gauze. Sheesh, these guys are doing some really really really fun and exciting things.

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This fabric is fairly interesting. If you love linen for its soft wrinkles then you’ll love cotton double gauze for the very same reason. I happen to adore this feature in linen and so double gauze is a natural for me. When Cotton & Steel announced that they were going to do double gauze (and then later announced that they were going to do rayon challis!!!!) I was all sorts of excited. Quickly bought up a stitch and decided that this couldn’t sit in the stash for an age. Feels good to be using fabric – and wearing it! Ha ha!

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Long ago, I brought up this fun topic. What do you think of sewing clothing from quilting cotton? While this double gauze is technically not a typical quilting cotton, it is manufactured by a quilting cotton company. I have to admit that I feel that if you confine yourself to only using quilting cottons for garments you are seriously missing out on a whole world of fabric that’s available to you – even for quilting! Like seriously. Wools, silks, rayons, linens, different types of cotton – besides quilting – and then there’s a whole world of knits, not to mention all the different weaves and such from all of the different fabrics.

I’m really, really glad to see many of the quilting cotton manufacturers venturing beyond the plain weave quilting cotton, getting into voiles, lawns and even rayon challis. Very exciting. I’m hoping we see more exciting things come from them in the future. Wouldn’t you agree?

Well, if you’re already sick of seeing my McCall’s 6649, well, that’s just too bad. I’ve already made 2 more that I haven’t blogged and then I’m planning on more and more and more! Ha ha! I’ll try to keep it interesting by showing you all my future pattern hacks. I’ve got SOOOOOOOOO many for this pattern. Now, off to cut more button-ups. Hurrah for the button-up TNT (tried and true pattern).

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This is an old skirt. You’ve seen it here and here if you’ve been reading me for a long time. And then if you took my Craftsy class, you probably wondered about this top. I received several questions about it – I still do – and so I thought I should probably let you know all about it. I don’t know why I didn’t blog about it when I made it except to say that my life has been nutty for the past couple of years. Time is something that I don’t have enough of in any given day. Who does? Making the time now, that’s for sure!

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So this blouse was made to go with this skirt because I’ve had a devil of a time finding anything that I liked this skirt with. I’ve made a couple of things now for it and I’ve also purchased a couple of things too and so, I wear this skirt a lot more often than I did, which is good because I love it. Back to the blouse: this is a vintage pattern. I know, I know. This couldn’t be worse news for everyone because every time I wear this top with this skirt, I’m always asked what pattern it is. It’s McCall’s 6020, View A. Really, really cute no?

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In point of fact, I made this so long ago I don’t recall anything really excitingly crazy about the pattern. I opted to line the thing using this method for the bodice and then I self lined the peplum in this same fabric. No lining in the sleeve.

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Additionally, I’ve had loads of folks ask me about this fabric. It’s a Liberty of London lawn. Not sure if you can still get it, but if you’re looking for something that’s fairly similar, there’s this lovely Art Gallery Cotton Voile in the shop. And if I didn’t know better, I would say these Art Gallery Voiles are almost identical to Liberty lawn in quality, but at a lower price point. If you follow me on Instagram (and you totally should!) then you’ll know I’m making another McCall’s 6649 out of it.

Funny thing: I purchased the Liberty of London fabric online specifically to go with this skirt, not knowing if it really would match or not. I rarely do that, if ever because of course, computer screens do weird things to color the world over. But it worked. A client once told me the best thing I’ve ever heard. “It doesn’t have to be matchy matchy, it just has to go together.” Very wise words of wisdom, don’t you think?

Now, off to have a cheeseburger, a Dr. Pepper and give myself a pat on the back for finally blogging about this cute little blouse.

That Touch of….. Fleece!

First things first. I have an update for you about the September Soiree from last Thursday’s post. It was FABULOUS! We had a wonderful turnout, the shop was packed and we cut fabric like fiends. It was so much fun. Thank you everyone who came and all of the good vibes that I know were out and about that night. We felt them! Yay! Oh, and here’s that cookie recipe and I’ll work on getting some panoramic photos posted of my shop for my next shopkeeper’s journal report.

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Now onto the pressing item of business that is this sweater that I whipped out over the weekend. OK, actually to say whipped out is a pretty strong word since I’ve been down flat with the flu ilk. When you’re in business for yourself, I have to say that getting sick is not really optional. Ha ha! And you think I kid! I’ve been pumping some serious vitamins and telling myself over and over that I’m going to be OK enough to work, but alas, this week that rotten little bug got the better of me. So I finally had to give in and let myself have a few days rest. Doing much better now, thank you very much – though I sound worse!

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Anyway, now that we’ve taken that field trip, let’s discuss my top. Oh my goodness! This is a Skippy. Toni from Make it Perfect emailed me a little over a month ago and asked if I would be willing to participate in a blog tour for her new pattern. As she was so complimentary about being a fan of my blog, how could I refuse? An introduction that begins with a compliment is sure to develop into a real friendship, or something to that effect. Oscar Wilde anyone? So Toni sent me Skippy and made me promise to post a creation by the end of September. Ah, procrastination + sick ilk, I love you so! As you see its now October. I may always be late, but I’m worth the wait (wink, wink). And yes, my dry wit has gone up a notch with the comin and goin of this here flu bug.

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I had splurged on this piece of organic cotton fleece from Fabric Worm. They carry this Birch Organic cotton fleece and I’ve been contemplating some for my store. This stuff is fairly expensive being a whopping $26/yard (though its on sale now!) and I’m not sure I’m ready to invest in it quite yet. There’s so many factors to consider when thinking about purchasing fabric for my store! Sigh. But I’ll have you know that this fleece is lovely. Really really. Now, if you’re thinking fleece, I have to say I always think about the mountains that they seem to have at Hancock Fabrics these days. Wow. That’s a lot of fleece. Polyester fleece. This is not that. This is the fleece that your 30 year old (favorite) sweatshirt used to be made out of minus the organic part, of course. It’s extra plush and I’m a personal fan of the earthy colors they’ve got going on. Lovely textile.

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I had a hard time thinking about what to do for Skippy. I contemplated the dress for a bit, but then my heart really wanted a nice cozy top. Then I spotted this fleece taking up way too much room in the stash and knew it had to be done. I was distraught about what to do to spice up this mushroom brown color though. I mean, talk about boring. The color is lovely, but come on! We need some pop here. Then I remembered scheming with my sewing cohort Juliette about a Garnet Hill sweater that she was bent on recreating. She made her version here and I knew that I had to make one too! This is the same lace that Juliette used and its from my store. It’s a nice, washable cotton lace. Makes a great textural statement on this sweater, dontcha think? And it adds a little sophistication to something that could have turned out particularly drab, sad and overly prone to be overlooked and never worn. To say that I’m a little more than pleased with this lovely make would put it mildly (I’ve worn it for the past three days to prove it too!). Loving the end result! Yay!

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I made some alterations for Skippy to make it workable with this fleece. Thing with fleece is that while it has some stretch, it doesn’t have the same as a jersey knit. So I made a size larger than what my measurements said and then I made it a little boxier too. I used a different sleeve pattern (from my favorite tee pattern) so that I didn’t have to de-puff the cap. With the fleece, I think this was a good option as I look rather ridiculous in puff sleeves, but with thick puffy sleeves that could have gone bad real fast. Other than that, nothing else was altered. Next time around I’m considering deepening the armhole just because it was a little snug in the fleece. Would work just fine in a jersey though, so that’s something to think about if you make one.

Well! That wraps up my straggling September. So excited for October I’m pinching myself just to make sure that its really here. Yay! Are you ready for sweater weather? Give Skippy a try! One has the almost insatiable desire to “skip” whilst wearing it.

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His & Hers Camp Shirts

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Mr. AFS and myself had this grand idea of going camping this summer. This is not to say that we’ve never been camping, but going and leaving the shop is/was a big deal. I thought it would be all the more grand if I made camp shirts for the occasion. And only give myself a week to do this. Keep in mind we had muslins, fitting, alterations and plaid matching to do here, to say nothing of sewing the shirt and all that that entails. But If there was ever a call for flannel, its camping. If there was ever a call for plaid, camping is just the ticket. The awesome thing in all of this is that the mister here abhores plaid. Can you believe this? Can you believe that this man is married to a woman with a slight fetish for plaid and he hates it? I told Mr. AFS that it was possible that I could get some houndstooth flannel instead and he nearly had a heart attack. Would not stand for “houndstooth.” Heavens no! Now it was plaid or go home. So we went with plaid. Sheesh!

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Well after all that emotional turmoil, I picked out some plaid cotton flannel, a sewing pattern for me and for him and went about sewing these things up. His is Simplicity 1544 and this pattern is a winner. Not too many troubles really. I made a muslin and found that the armpit was little high for Mr. AFS and he needed a bit more room in the upper back. Shortened the sleeve by a few inches too and then we hit gold. For myself, I used McCall’s 6649. This pattern actually came with a Craftsy class that I am working my way through and loving! I thought that in the process of fitting this pattern and getting all the kinks out, I would go ahead and make it up a few times. This is the first make and I still have a few kinks to go. Interestingly enough, I don’t usually get all the kinks out until about the 3rd time. That’s really just the way it goes. I mean, I don’t know if that is the way for everyone, but I tinker until I’m perfectly happy and then I make a permanent copy and blah blah blah. Someday I’ll bore you with that process. For now, you should know about this Craftsy class though. The idea is that you take this pattern, fit it and then reverse engineer it so that it is put back in sloper form! From there you create all these different tops/blouses. So much fun! Definitely recommend. To anyone.

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OK, so enough of that. I had the same beefs with my pattern as my mister did with his. I increased the upper back width, though I’m going to do a little more as I don’t think I did enough and then goodness gracious, I had to take like 3 inches off the sleeve length. I feel I may have overdone this part a bit, but when my arm is at rest the sleeve hangs precisely where it’s supposed to. There are more kinks to work out here, but I’ll save those for next round’s roundup.

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Being on a timetable for these shirts and as any good procrastinator would, I put these off until the last minute. The night before we left on the camping trip I was still doing buttonholes and attaching buttons. So these felt a bit rushed. Barring that, I’m surprised they turned out as well as they did. The plaids are matched pretty well and I feel I did a pretty good job with navigating the bias pieces too. Overall these were pretty successful. Mr. AFS wore his and loved it! He’s never worn or owned a plaid shirt in his life, so this is serious people. Mine turned out pretty good too. I did manage to cut a hole in mine. Don’t ask me how that worked or even how I did it because I have no idea. But I patched/mended it and now my shirt has character if nothing else. Sigh….

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The idea was to get pictures of us actually camping in the shirts. But wouldn’t you know, it rained. And it rained. And it rained. We cut the trip short because of all this rain. I know. All the work of making these shirts and we weren’t able to get j.crew perfect pics of the event. Such is my luck! Ha!

At least there’s flannel for the next camping trip, or possibly some romantic getaway in the near possible future. I almost went matching plaid shirts. We might still have to do that. With some line dancing and cowboy boots for fall. Plaid flannel = true love!