Necessary Sewing

Sara Jalie On Frontjalie pull on pant 2Jalie Pull on pant cropped

My DSD is a tall skinny kid. So was her Mom & Dad (and I was too, but I can’t take credit for her gene pool)  She wears a school uniform and has outgrown all her pants, so I was tasked to make her a few pair.  Thank goodness for Jalie!

The pants above are Jalie 3243, pull on pants and shorts.  I also made her a pair of Eleonore pull on jeans with some leftover 4 way stretch twill, but my fabric store only had non-stretch navy fabric.  The problem with most pull-on pants for kids is they are cut very generously with too much ease & often a high rise, so they look Becky-homecky.  Jalie to the rescue!  I find most of the Jalie patterns I’ve tried fit slim.  They also give a very RTW look.  These pants were no exception!  They are a slim fitting pull on pant (or short) with a medium rise & straight leg.  For a picky 11 year old they are great!  Not too wide (or floppy) and the waistline is not too gathered.  I made a size K (6) waist with a size Q (13) length.

The pants have some variations included, the pockets have a facing which can be sewn inside or outside the pocket (and used in contrast, too).  Above you can see the pocket with the facing sewn on the outside.  As well, the waistband can be sewn outside or inside, mine had the waistband applied as a facing & sewn to the inside.  I used 1″ elastic sewn through the centre as per the instructions.

As with all Jalie patterns, the drafting and instructions are excellent.  The only thing I would check is the pocket size; its on the smallish side; and as you can see on the top the facing is topstitched through the top of the pocket.  If you have larger hands it might make the pocket opening a bit small.  It fits DSD fine, though!

Here is a sneek peak of another recent project on my cute sister:

McCalls Tunic on Glynis


A litte fabric shopping in Quebec


Each year in February, DH and I go skiing in Quebec, at Mt. Saint Anne, which is about 45 minutes east of Quebec City.  We rent a townhome at the bottom of the mountain (which is about 2000 ft. of elevation) with some friends – mostly these are friends we play volleyball with in a league; so often, as was this year, it’s all guys and me!  We go from Sunday – Friday and ski 4 days…in between we relax, cook, play cards and watch movies.  This year the mountain was closed one day due to inclement weather – which is very unusual!  So DH asked if I wanted to go fabric shopping in Quebec City.  A few years ago we went to a small, family run Tissus Claudiany; this year after visiting Club Tissus in Montreal last summer with Connie, Kay and Anne Marie, I decided to check out the Quebec City store.

On the way home we dropped in, as it’s just off the highway.  The store in Montreal was about twice the size, however this store still had a very nice selection of fabrics and more.  I especially like fabrics from Telio Fabrics – a Montreal distributor.  Once in a while Fabricland in Toronto will have some (my Burda T with the exposed back zipper is one of their fabrics) but Club Tissus has an amazing selection!

As well, they stock sewing machines, sergers, gravity feed irons, books, patterns, magazines and lots of specialty fabric and trims.  They always have Jalie patterns, too!!  They have a club card which gives you a discount, and each bolt has a regular price & club price, which is usually a few dollars less per metre.  Staff speak mainly French.

Above is my ‘haul’ – from top left; clockwise:

  • 2m rayon digital print in a silky lawn weight with a gorgeous hand and drape $12.99/m
  • 3/4″ knit elastic in black and white (this is great because unlike other elastics it does not get narrower when it’s stretched – for some reason Fabricland here doesn’t stock it much) .39/m
  • 1m printed mesh; for sleeves for a mixed-media t perhaps… $4/m on sale
  • 1m geometric design laser-cut pleather; it’s pretty wide…maybe for a skirt or insert/border….not sure but it was just so freakin cool I had to get it.  $24.99/m

I also have done some sewing in February, unfortunately my latest project was packed up and sent to my sister for a birthday present before I could remember to take some pics.  It was a tunic top (McCalls 7248, view D) in a purple patchwork poly georgette print with satin cuffs and neckline:



For anyone sewing this, I found the high-low hem was not as pronounced as the illustration indicates.  I liked the pattern, it was pretty easy to sew.  I always find this type of neckline fiddly; in this one they have you insert the collar bands into the pleat at the bottom front.  Placket necklines get me too, I always find it difficult to get the plackets to overlap exactly and line up perfectly with the clipped corners at the bottom of the garment.   Maybe I should cut the slit after I have the neckline sewn?   Not sure how to fix that issue….I will make it again with an easier to sew fabric next time which should help with that problem.







McCalls 6796 Split-Collar Top

Purple McCalls.jpg

This was an interesting experience! I use a lot of PDF patterns, especially because shipping to Toronto can be expensive.  But, until now most of the PDF patterns I have used have been from independent or smaller pattern companies.  This is the first one I’ve bought from the big 4, which was a bit of a method than the usual.  I only purchased it this way because while it seemed to be in the catalogue on-line it was not available in my local fabric store so it must have just gone out of pint.

But I noticed a ‘Buy downloadable pattern’ button next to the pattern illustration!  So I ordered the pattern & then instead of the usual link to a PDF, I had to download some software called “Print Sew” which gave me a link to the PDF, which was easy to print.  The pattern instructions are tiled, so you need to print about 6 pages and tape them together.  I didn’t need to print out the cutting directions as I rarely use them.

Anyway the top is a very straightforward sew, it’s a basic t but I liked the look of the split collar neckline with the button trim & I thought it would make a cosy winter top.

The only thing I did differently, because my sweater knit was kind of floppy, was to use some lightweight knit interfacing on the ends of the collar so it would support the buttons.  I was afraid to interface the entire collar as I thought it might make it too stiff/thick, but in retrospect it probably would have been OK.

Here’s a close-up of the pretty buttons, and you can see the lovely marled clear purple colour of the fabric:

Purple Buttons

As with the big 4, it was a bit oversized, so after it was put together I took in the waist about 1/2″ for a more fitted look.  Other than my standard lengthening of 2″ for the arms and 1″ in the body, this was sewn as a standard size 16.

The hems were sewn with a double needle…because the fabric had a tendency to run I folded the raw edge in 1/4″ before turning it up to hem.


New Year, New Post

As with all things, life and job really took a lot of my time in 2015; I devoted all of my spare time to sewing, but certainly didn’t post a lot!

This year hopefully will be a bit better, with some very loose sewing goals to post more, post on instagram and sew more from my extensive collection of Burda Style; which has been a birthday present from my husband for many years now!

This first project of the New Year is from January 2016; a blouse in the plus section, 132A.  Here is the photo from the magazine; I really loved the fabric and the way it was used as a border print.  Unfortunately I couldn’t find the fabric on line, but surprisingly I did find a close match at Fabricland!

Burda 132A magazine

Description from Burda: “This hip-length blouse features 3/4 sleeves with slits and a fun printed fabric. Pair with slim trousers for your morning commute to work!”

My version, in a similar print (an interlock jersey; not a woven) with decorative exposed zipper:

The fabric does not have as much ombre effect as the original, but if I find a nice border print I may try and sew it again for spring.  The fabric is printed with a very muted pearlized metallic finish.  If you look closely, the back has a semi-circular inset on the top.  I interfaced it with Pro-Weft Supreme medium weight fusible interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply.  Pam has absolutely the best interfacing around, I highly recommend it!  The zipper is topstitched down and doesn’t open, it’s merely decorative.

I sewed this top like a blouse (the pattern is for wovens) instead of a knit.  So I included the darts and set the sleeves in by hand; the only thing omitted was the neckline facings.  I hemmed the sleeves, neck and hemline with a twin needle; I took my time pressing the curved hems before sewing them; this fabric held a crease really well.   It went together well, but I really didn’t look at the instructions so I can’t tell you whether they are in the usual crazy Burda style.

All in all, happy with the result!

My next plans are a mini-capsule with:

  • grey culottes (Butterick B6178) – what’s up with Butterick lately?  I have bought more Butterick patterns lately than in the last few years!
  • purple sweater knit split-neck top (McCalls M6796)
  • cocoon jacket in black/white/silver marled sweater knit (Style Arc Violet Knit Jacket)
  • black pull on pants  (Style Arc Barb or Flatbottom Flo)

Happy 2016 & here’s hoping you achieve all your sewing goals!

McCalls 6996 Missoni-Inspired Cardigan

McCalls Sweater front

This is a quick sew project made from a lovely, cushy, stretchy missoni-inspired knit from Fabricland. It was a decision between McCalls 6996 & McCalls 6884; both had lovely reviews on the web.

I love the back, but honestly this fabric could have benefitted from the front bands, it feels a bit unfinished & I think 6884 has a more flattering fit. I chose the pattern I did so it would be more ‘cardigan’ and less ‘jacket’ The back is what makes it in this fabric!  – at the very least it goes with a lot of things and I’m proud of the stripe matching…..sorry for bad phone pics, but easier on a rushed day to get some pics than none!

McCalls Sweater Back

New Look 6230 Skirt

I made this pencil skirt before the Holidays; it’s New Look 6230 view D.  Pretty straightforward pencil skirt.  New Look Crop

What makes this special is the fabric. It’s a boiled wool blend with a lace bonded to it, which you can see in the close up here:


Because it was thick & it’s texture caught on tights, I did a couple of special things:

  • I lined it (the pattern does not come with a lining pattern, I drafted my own from the skirt)
  • I eliminated the waist facing & lined it up to the waist seam
  • I added a waist stay made from the lining selvedge
  • I catch-stitched all of the seam allowances (see above photo)

The fabric does have some mechanical stretch, so I had to take it in a bit at the waist, otherwise other than lengthening it 2″ I made no further modifications.  Here’s a photo of the waist stay:

waist stay

I have worn this many times, it’s great to dress up or down! The fabric is really unique; it’s from Fabricland from last fall’s collection; it comes in hot pink/black and peacock blue/black; but to me the black/winter white combo was the most elegant!

Worn above with black sweater, H&M necklace, tights & black suede pumps

Style Crush: Kerry Washingon from SCANDAL

The blog absence has been due to work and life, but rest assured I have been sewing & stashing, and I will post pictures soon!

I have been binge watching Scandal, and was excited to learn the show is produced by Shonda Rhimes, the producer behind shows like Grey’s Anatomy & How to get away with Murder.  A common theme to these shows is the stylish production values, strong women characters & incredible wardrobes (ok maybe not in Grey’s Anatomy, which is 90% in scrubs, but you can see it in the episodes where the characters dress for black tie events!)

With the exception of the character Olivia Pope’s penchant for dressing in pastels & white (so NOT my lifestyle!) the clothes are gorgeous:

Kerry Washington in Scandal

Kerry Washington in Scandal

The backbone of her wardrobe is statement coats and handbags, soft tailoring and pants. Although it seems to be shot exclusively in a perpetual fall state of mind; it snows in Washington doesn’t it?? Season 2 – which I’m viewing now featured a lot of short sleeve capey-jackets worn with elbow length gloves.

The clothes are impeccably tailored and are all drool-worthy designer stuff: Armani, Gucci, Valentino, Prada. The Limited produced a Scandal collection earlier; it was upscale for them and some of the items (produced collaboratively with the show’s costume designer, the Limited’s creative team and Kerry herself) were worn on the show.

The Limited's Scandal Collection

The Limited’s Scandal Collection

Of course, as a sewist, it’s my obligation to find patterns suitable for reproducing this elegant wardrobe. So far here are my picks. I loved the coat on the left so much I’m now sewing this:

Vogue 9037

Vogue 9037

Of course mine is not pastel Olivia Pope style, that’s just not me. Mine is longer, with full lenth sleeves and a straight, above the knee hem. I’m using a gorgeous heavy black knit that’s embellished with wool roving in abstract designs in grey, ivory & brown. The sleeves have a deep, real leather contrast hemline in black and the belt is in faux black leather. The pattern is unlined, so I’ve created a lining in kasha (the heavier brushed-back rayon lining) I just have to set in the lining sleeves & sew in the lining, so I’m about 70% done. This will replace my old winter coat that’s showing some wear.

Other Olivia inspired patterns, first the cowl neck top (I think #2 & #3 are closest):

Vogue 9006 cowl-neck blouses

Vogue 9006 cowl-neck blouses

Vogue 8816

Vogue 8816

Vogue 9771

Vogue 9771

A cowl neck dress:

Burda 10/2012/188A

Burda 10/2012/188A

Peplum Jackets:

McCalls 6844

McCalls 6844

Style Arc Monique Jacket

Style Arc Monique Jacket

B6109 Wardrobe

B6109 Wardrobe

Sewaholic Cordova Jacket

Sewaholic Cordova Jacket

Other Statement Coats:

Butterick 5685

Butterick 5685

Vogue 8465 (an Armani design)

Vogue 8465 (an Armani design)


Pretty much any tailored, wide or straight legged pattern will do!

Vogue 1387 Rebecca Taylor Blouse & Style Arc Barb Pants


White blouse front

Definitely the most gorgeous and time consuming blouse I have made in a long while!
This is Vogue 1387 by Rebecca Taylor in a heavy, slubby polester fabric. Just look at the details!

Back Yoke with Gathers

Back Yoke with Gathers

Front Yoke with pleats and bias trim, applied collar that lies flat

Front Yoke with pleats and bias trim, applied collar that lies flat

Hand sewn snaps at front with embroidered "X" over each snap

Hand sewn snaps at front with embroidered “X” over each snap

As well there are cuffs with plackets and a rounded back hemline – phew!  I took my time with this one; it was a two week sewing project.  I also did French seams throughout.  I love the modern yet retro feel of the style, I will get a lot of wear from this one!

The only adjustments I made was to lengthen the sleeves 2″ and the body 1 1/2″; I cut a 16.

Style Arc Barb Pants

A few months back, Style Arc generously released a few freebies; including a slim-leg pull on pant, “Barb”.  I was fortunate to find some stretch woven on our annual shop till you drop gals day on Queen St. E. which had similar stretch to the recommended fabric, Bengaline – as staple in Australia, but impossible to find here. I found it at King Textiles in the stretch woven section, I think they had navy and black.  According to swatches, my fabric is a bit heavier, which is fine for our climate.

Back view:

Barb Pant back

These pants are a 14, with my crotch curve adjustment and about 4″ added to the length.  Jeez I have a square butt!! I also added a grosgrain ribbon stripe down each leg:

Barb Pant stripe

New Look 6303 & Style Arc Linda Pants

New Look 6303 Front

It’s funny how I’ve seen this style of blouses all over the stores for a couple of years, and yet until this past year there has only been one sewing pattern!  Now, there are several to choose from, what I liked best about this New Look pattern is that the front is cut double, so you don’t have to look for a fabric that shows on the wrong side.  Oh, also the little neck band holds the whole thing together without much gaping!

This was a fast sew, (warning, takes about 3 meters of fabric, the front panel is cut double on the bias!) cut one night and sewn the next, including French seams throughout!

Here is the back, with a centre pleat and narrow bias binding at the neckline:

New Look 6303 Back


Here is the pattern envelope, with some cute variations that New Look patterns are so great at:

Mine is a 16 with the sleeves lengthened 2″ and the body lengthened 1 1/2″.  The fabric is a poly crinkle from Fabricland, I really liked the print.  I intentionally kept the sleeves 7/8 – or are they 3/4 on me?? to show off some cuffs.  However, once they were hemmed, they hit my arms at the same point as the hem…that’s probably to be avoided?  Anyway they have elastic in the cuffs so they can be pushed up.

Worn with the famous-in-the-blogosphere Style Arc Linda Pants.  Made up here in a beefy mystery knit from Fabricland that feels like a nice activewear knit.  Yoga pants or dress pants?  You decide!!

From the front & back:

Linda Pants Front croppedLinda Pants back

The only alterations I made were to lengthen and adjust the crotch curve to my usual adjustment.

Did you see that Style Arc has a new pattern specifically for flat bottoms? I may just get it next time one of the free patterns appeals to me!

StyleARC Fiona Cardigan

Fiona Cardigan Front

For a big change I made a black and white garment.  Who am I kidding!  I like black and white!!  This is the freebie pattern from Style ARC (I can’t remember which month, maybe May or June?) I have seen lots of similar RTW cardigans, and I thought this was cute.  I was a little worried seeing some other finished garments that it was more oversized than I wanted; but I’m happy the way this turned out!

I did two things to prevent an oversized garment (this is a size 14 in Style ARC, I take a 14 on the top and a 16 on the bottom, generally).  First, I used iron on tricot interfacing on the bands to prevent stretching; second I omitted my usual 1 1/2″ lengthening in the body.

I did lengthen the sleeves 1″, they are a little tight, so I’ve altered the pattern to increase the sleeve width from about the elbow to hem about 1/8″ on all pattern pieces.

For reference, here is the pattern illustration:

As you can see I used two co-ordinating lightweight knits – the band is a very light burnout with mechanical stretch from Fabricland; the spotted knit is a small remnant with a slight stretch from Fabricland.  The spotted knit has each of the circles separately knitted in – it’s quite elaborate!!  Here is the back, I think the length is spot on to what I was aiming for (as you can see I made absolutely no attempt at pattern matching):

Fiona Cardigan Back

This was a wearable muslin to check the fit; I’ve adjusted it and will probably make another – after looking at the pictures I will probably lengthen the sleeves another inch, maybe by making the cuff deeper. Oh, and a super quick sew! It is a bit of a fabric hog – the bands take up a fair bit of yardage. The dolman sleeve is narrow and high enough to fit under a coat; or wear as ‘dressy casual’ for work! Another cute pattern that’s a winner from Style ARC!

I have also made the Barb and Linda pull-on stretch pants recently; I will review them soon!


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