Friday, June 2, 2017

The Arenal Top: 3 Tops, 3 Summer Fabrics

I had been searching for a new short sleeved t-shirt pattern after realizing that my old ones are just not working for me anymore.  I wanted a top with a relaxed fit, sort of like those Boyfriend Tees I see at Target.  It needed to work for moderate stretch knits, particularly knits with a little less stretch lengthwise.  

And then I realized...I already had a pattern that fit my requirements: The Arenal Top by Itch to Stitch Patterns (aff link).  This pattern, which I tested for last fall, calls for knit fabric with 100% stretch widthwise and 30% lengthwise.  Kennis states that drapey knits work best for this top.  If you use something with more or less drape you may need to size up or down.  I chose the fitted top option.  

Fit Adjustments:
My bust measurement puts me at a size 6.  However, when I was testing, I found the shirt to be a bit baggy on me, so I sized down to a 4.  I did a narrow shoulder adjustment.  Sometimes it can be difficult for me to gauge how much of a shoulder adjustment I need.  I find that comparing the pattern with another top in my closet made out of similar fabric helps me get it right. 

Pattern Modifications:
I made a couple of modifications to make the Arenal Top the perfect summer tee.  The pattern does not come with a short sleeve option, but that is easy to fix.  I decided where I wanted the sleeve edge to hit my arm, added some length for my seam allowance, and cut off the bottom part of the sleeve.

I chose not to color block the bodice fronts.  The pattern piece is easy to alter.  All you have to do is draw where the seam line would be on the bottom of the yoke and on the top of the bodice front.  Then, you place the two pattern pieces together, lining them up at the seam line. Tape them together, and you've made the yoke and the bodice front essentially one pattern piece!

3 Summer Tops
I made the Arenal Top in three fabrics to compare the staple fabrics of my knit summer wardrobe: bamboo, modal and cotton.  These breathable fabrics are perfect for braving a hot, humid summer. I live in the Southern USA, so I don't take my fabric choices lightly!

Modal Jersey Top

I love this modal fabric from So Sew English.  This fabric has 50% stretch widthwise and 40% stretch lengthwise.  In a nutshell, modal is a second-generation rayon fabric that has more wet strength than rayon, is softer,  and holds more water than cotton.

As you can see, the top is very drapey in modal.  I cut the hemline to be curved.  (This was also an easy pattern mod.)  I love the way the hem turned out, and I'm so pleased with the fit!

This fabric is absolutely perfect for this top.  I need more of these modal solids, STAT!

Bamboo Jersey Top

This Kelly Bamboo Jersey from Allielane in Abbyville has 100% stretch widthwise and 30% stretch lengthwise.  It has a wonderful, soft hand and has a beautiful, soft sheen. It is the most luxurious-feeling and the most expensive fabric I used.  In previous years, I've only been able to find bamboo in the $16-20 price point.  I was really happy to find this bamboo for just a bit more than my CLUB jersey prints.   The widthwise stretch of the fabric affected the fit of the sleeves.  The top of the armscye sits a bit farther off the shoulder.

I'll admit, this fabric was a bit frustrating to sew with.  It slipped under my presser foot A LOT, despite me using a walking foot.  But, the finished product looks just as good as the modal tee, so I won't be giving up sewing with bamboo any time soon.  If you're a newer sewist, you might want to choose a more stable fabric to learn on.

Cotton Jersey Top 

My third top is in cotton/lycra made from some fun CLUB mint stripes from Raspberry Creek Fabrics paired with Icy Mint Knit from Art Gallery.  Both fabrics have 50% stretch widthwise and lengthwise.  Cotton has more body than rayon, bamboo and modal.  It doesn't drape well, but it works just fine for this view of the top.  I love tops made out of cotton jersey because they breathe well and they don't tend to snag.  

I was concerned that the increased thickness of the fabric would affect the fit around the arm, making it tight and uncomfortable.  I didn't want to size up, so I chose to use a 1/4" seam allowance at the armscye and side seams.  It feels a bit roomy and is so comfortable!  

Final Thoughts
As you can see, the fabric you use can change the entire look of your garment.  The bamboo and modal tops are very drapey.  I think they are dressier and give the wearer a more feminine silhouette.  I love how thin these are, without being see through.  They are the most comfortable tops I own!  The big differences I noticed between these two types of fabrics is that the bamboo is softer and has more of a sheen to it, and the modal is slightly more stable and was easier to sew with.

The cotton jersey top has a more structured look.  This fabric is the most stable of the knits I sewed with.  The CLUB fabric, especially, is almost spongy and is a great fabric for a beginner.

I hope you've enjoyed this comparison post! If you've made your own version of the Arenal Top for summer, post your blog link below.  I'd love to see them!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Pirate Pencil Skirt ~ Patterns for Pirates

When I took pictures of the Camilla Top I was also wearing my new Pirate Pencil Skirt by Patterns for Pirates.  I've had this on my to do list since last fall.  I have a few tops/blouses with navy colors so I really needed a plain navy skirt to wear with them.  This is a really easy sew, and great for a first knit project.  It's even easier than making Peg Legs!

I used a Telio Ponte Leggero Knit from in Navy...and let me tell you, this stuff is like BUTTAH! It's really lightweight and would work well for a top or even a dress.  It has 40% stretch widthwise and 25% vertical stretch.  This fabric is so lightweight it will be an all-season neutral skirt.

I used an XS, mid rise option.  The pencil skirt pattern is for a skirt that is quite form-fitting in the legs.  I graded out the pattern past the hips so that it is pretty straight up and down to give me more room to move.

The pattern doesn't call for an elastic waistband, but it's something I wanted, so I chose to turn the waistband into a casing for my elastic.  Since I only had 1 1/4" elastic I made my waistband 1" shorter (4" tall, folded in half) than the pattern called for.  I finished off my project by coverstitching the skirt hem.

I can't stress how wonderful it is to be able to hem a skirt just where you want it!

I absolutely love this pattern and definitely plan to make more this summer!

5 out of 4 Patterns Camilla Top

Today I'm reviewing the Camilla Cowl Neck Top and Dress by 5 out of 4 Patterns, which I pattern tested last week.  The Camilla Top has a draped cowl neckline, which is super flattering! I am small busted and have narrow shoulders, so I'm always looking for details at the bust area to bring the attention near my face.  

This pattern works great as a nursing shirt - no mods needed.  Don't let the fancy neckline deceive you - this is a really easy pattern to whip up!  The way the tutorial has you finish off the neck and shoulders means that the front neck will not flip up - it's going to stay right in place.

I'm really happy to have an easy pattern for flowy, drapey fabrics.  Some of the fabric I used for this test had been in my fabric stash for 4 years!

My measurements put me in an XS for the bust, but the XXS ended up fitting me better.  This may have to do with my petite figure and small bust.  I took 1/2" out of center front and 2" for length at the waist. (This is an adjustment I have to make to all of my patterns.) 

This shirt length tee is made from Telio bamboo jersey from  I've really been enjoying ordering from smaller shops, but they don't always have what I want.  I was very pleased with the quality of this bamboo jersey and it was only $11/yd!  Bamboo jersey, like rayon jersey, drapes well but is more comfortable in hot weather, so it's a must for hot summers.  This jersey doesn't have as much stretch as the pattern calls for, however, so be aware of that.  The shoulders were a tad bit snug so I'll need to bring the armscye out next time I make this top.

The Camilla Top is on sale for $7.95 through Sunday!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Apricot Dolman ~ Sew Like My Mom

Today Sew Like My Mom released the Apricot Dolman pattern!  We tested the 24m/2 size in a short sleeved top.

My husband loves the way this color brings out her eyes!

For my first version, I used a lightweight cotton/spandex (and maybe rayon?) polka dot knit from Purpleseamstress and AG knit for the bands.

I had a little puckering at the neckline but that was most likely due to the different fabrics I chose.  About half of the testers, though, were having neck issues during testing.  This was a little frustrating and took some time to solve, but Melissa persevered and came up with a great solution! The result is a great pattern!

My second make was a med-weight cotton/lycra with the same fabric for the bands.  Such an easy top!  I've been making a lot of clothing for Cici this month (because I have sooo many scraps).  

The shorts are Bonny Leggings by M4M.  The fabric is from my first attempt at leggings about 5 years ago that was an utter fail.  So glad I could put the fabric to good use! I changed the pattern so it has an elastic waist.

I added some embroidery to the neckline because this shirt needed an extra something.

The Apricot Dolman is on sale through Saturday, no code needed!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Heart Breaker Cami ~ Patterns for Pirates

Last week I got to pattern test for Patterns for Pirates' cute new pattern, the Heart Breaker Cami.  Sizing ranges from 3 months to girls' 14.  It has optional front ruffle, flutters on the straps, plain or with a 'X' in the back.

I was really excited to test this cami because Serenity needed a new swimsuit for spring.  (Yes, we go to the beach in spring around here!)  

This cami is a straight 12 month size with the flutters in a blue nylon/lycra milliskin matte from I don't remember...Spandex House? Spandex World?... one of those and a print I probably got at old Denver Fabrics before I moved from Denver.  I decided I wasn't in love with the print so this is the second suit I've cut it into swimwear for my daughter.

Sizing: The other testers and I found this pattern to be sized well.  Choose one of the recommended fabrics and use the size chart!

Friendly flutter tip: The construction on this part may seem totally counterintuitive.  Take deep breaths!  Read the instructions.  Read them again!  Then proceed step by step *carefully* and check the tutorial photos as you go.  I kept thinking 'my flutters are on backwards!' but they were not.  The tutorial really will guide you through it!

Topstitching: I did this on my coverstitch and Judy recommends the WIDE coverstitch because it secures each side of the strap evenly.  You totally don't need a coverstitch, though, a simple zig zag on your sewing machine will do just fine.

I used the Maillot Skirt swim pattern from Call Ajaire Patterns for my daughter's bottoms.  I obviously omitted the skirt part and just made the briefs.  They were suuuper easy.

We had a blast at the beach last Friday! It was 80 degrees and mostly sunny.  It was the FIRST time in over a year that we, as parents, got to lay in the sand while our child happily played in ONE spot and didn't try to kill herself by running head first into the waves.  Seriously, that child wants to swim to China!

I mean, she definitely had moments where she wanted to run into the water, but it was a little cold.  She's a little wiser this time.

I like the way this top can be worn with the curve neckline in the front or the back can be turned around and she can wear the v-neck in front.

Snag your copy now while they are on sale! There is also a bundle discount with the womens' version of the pattern.  

Daddies are simply the best! Can you see why she's a Daddy's girl?

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Tonic Tee in Cotton/Lycra Knit

Here is my second Tonic Tee by SBCC Patterns! I love this peachy Art Gallery cotton/lycra solid.  It's been sitting in my stash for about a year so I was glad to finally cut this t-shirt out.  I cut out a straight size small with a little length added to the bottom hem and some length taken off the sleeves.

I wanted to make a faux button placket by the shoulder.  I'm not sure that's even what you call it...but this was my inspiration photo:

It took some math and some drafting (I took a look at my drafting book) but eventually I got it to look like this:

The placket replaces the shoulder seam, just for the left side of the shirt.  I used some buttons from Hobby Lobby and I decided to topstitch with white thread instead of trying to match this specific color of peach.  I added a larger seam allowance to the neckline so I could fold it over and stitch it.  I used some fusible tape to keep it in place while I coverstitched it.  Hopefully the neckline washes up nicely!

My only complaint with the fit is that the armscye is to high and is cutting me under the arm.  And now that I can see it in the photos, it's really bugging me!  I did not have this problem when I made my first Tonic Tee.  Maybe I did a slightly smaller seam allowance? I can't remember...or maybe the DBP just behaved a lot differently than this cotton/lycra.

Can anyone tell me how to fix it? I'm wondering if I just need to size up in the sleeves.  This would make the armscye lower so it would not be digging under my arms.

Kind of a shame this happened with such a nice top! Do you think I could cut out bigger sleeves, lower the armscye and salvage this one?

Monday, February 20, 2017

Ficus Cardigan ~ Sew Like My Mom

Today I want to show you the peplum cardigan I tested for Sew Like My Mom, the Ficus Cardigan.  This is the womens' version of the Fern Cardigan that I tested a few weeks ago.  This pattern has a wide range of sizes, from XXS to 3XL.  You can purchase the Fern and the Ficus bundle here.

I used a poly/rayon/lycra (mostly polyester) french terry from LA Finch Fabrics.  This was my first time purchasing from Josephine.  She had fast, friendly shipping!  She even rushed to get my order done because she knew I needed it to test this cardigan!  Thank you!

This fabric has 40% stretch widthwise, and 10% stretch lengthwise.  It is very soft and is nice and thin.  That's important to me in Charleston, where winter lasts like 8 seconds.  

I first made a muslin and tested for the small size (according to my bust), but I didn't like how baggy it was, so Melissa let me size down.  This final black cardi is an XS with adjustments made for my narrow shoulders and my short height.  I think if I were to make this cardigan again, I would size the waist down to an XXS.  I just prefer my garments to be form fitting and to give me a waist!  (Of course, if I used the tie that comes with the pattern, that would give me a waist, too.)

I found this to be an easy sew, especially because I had just made one in Serenity's size.  I made this completely on my serger/coverstitch machine because my sewing machine was in the shop.

Thank you, Melissa, for letting me test!  These are our first ever Mommy and Me outfits!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Tonic Tee ~ SBCC Patterns

I finally made my very own Tonic Tee by SBCC Patterns!    I got my hands on one of Betsy's patterns nearly 4 years ago, the Cosmo Maxi Skirt.  I love that Betsy designs specifically for petites.  (She explains how to lengthen her patterns if you are of average or above average height.)  

I decided to use this pattern because I decided my TNT t-shirt pattern wasn't really working for me and I was ready to try something new, and hopefully get a better fit.

The Tonic Tee is a free PDF pattern available on the SBCC website.  The only change I made to the pattern was to bring the neckline up slightly in the front.  I used a double brushed poly knit from Allielane in Abbyville.  (I recently made my mom a blouse with the same fabric...but I have even more red roses in my stash!)

I rarely find a pattern I don't have to alter extensively.  I am really happy with the fit of this garment.  Other than the bottom hem being slightly too short (like only 1/2") for my liking, this top fits wonderfully!  I did cut the neckband too long so it gapes a bit.  However, I'm the only one who will notice this, so I probably won't change it.

This is Dede the bulldog, my gordita!  We've had her for 2 years and she is my buddy!

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Lane Raglan with a Cowl

This Lane Raglan is not for me, it's for my mom.  I had to put it on before I shipped it off to her this week.  I absolutely love this print!  

It's a double brushed poly that I have seen from a number of shops this winter, but I purchased it from Allielane in Abbyville.  I think DBP is popular with sewists because of its low price and it's also super soft and warm for the winter.  I don't wear it as a rule because South Carolina is a sweaty swamp, but I make an exception for winter.  And winter here lasts like 2 months, tops.  My coworker found pollen on her car this morning, so I know spring is coming STAT!

When I made this cowl I had no idea what I was doing.  I made the collar out of two trapezoids, the angled sides sewn together into a tube and the shorter sizes attached to the collar.  I found out afterwards that I could have just sewn a rectangle into a tube the width of the neckband.  Oh well, maybe my mom will never notice the extra seam.  It turned out really cute, anyhow.  I made it 12" tall (folded).  I think a cowl any taller would overwhelm her petite figure.  She is, after all, 4" shorter than me!

I also love how the cowl looks with my red bomber jacket.  Isn't that slick?  The lighting's kind of sucky in the last photo.  What idiot decided to cut back my neighbor's pine tree branches?! Don't they know I need those there to soften the late afternoon light? Like, that's way more important than keeping them out of power lines.

Have I mentioned how versatile the Lane Raglan pattern is? Like, you seriously need this in your life.  And I'm probably going to keep posting about them and you are going to keep being sad that you don't have it, so you should just order it now, lol!

Fern Cardigan ~ Sew Like My Mom

This past week I pattern tested for this adorable sweater, the Fern Cardigan, by Sew Like My Mom.  Melissa's pattern ranges from 12 months to girls' size 16.  She also sells the pattern for a lower price for a fewer range of sizes.  This pattern has different sleeve options and can be worn with or without the tie.

This pattern is seriously a breeze to whip up! I just got my coverstitch/serger back from the shop and had to take my sewing machine in. Waaaaa!!! Such torture...I want them back together again!  So I constructed this entirely on my coverstitch/serger machine.  

The pattern calls for any knit with 30% stretch.  A ponte or double knit would work well with this pattern, but jerseys with more stretch work great, too!  I used a cotton/lycra from Raspberry Creek Fabrics with about 50% stretch.  (The fabric is no longer available - RCF is actually changing their CLUB fabrics from screen printed to being digitally printed in house.  I'm excited to see their first round of new fabrics!) I'm really glad I chose a stretchier fabric because Serenity is at the top of the chest measurement for the 18 month size.  She will have a few months, at least, of wear in this cardigan before it is too small.

As you can see in the photos, we found out in testing that the sleeves were a little too tapered from the elbow to the wrist.  That has been fixed for the final pattern.  I made my ties 2" longer than the pattern called for, just personal preference.  The length was perfect on her.

I previously made a dress for Serenity out of this fabric, but it remains un-blogged because the designer I was testing for never released the pattern and has since closed her shop.  I love the way the cardigan looks in this fabric even better than the dress, however.  

Can you see the Ravenell Bridge in the corner? We took these pictures at Mount Pleasant Waterfront Park.  Please note: pansies were harmed in this photoshoot.  Ripping their flowers off is just par for the course.  They'll be fine. Anyway, it will just encourage them to grow their leaves a little bigger before they bloom again.

These are Cici's first pictures in big girl jeans.  I think I might cry, she looks so big!  I love this crazy little chatterbox!