Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Instant Sewing Gratification: The Simplicity 8529 "Toaster" Sweater

About a year ago I noticed a plethora of reviews for a "toaster sweater" popping up on sewing blogs. I was intrigued. Every version looked great on the wearer, and it did indeed look like a top I'd love to snuggle into during our cold weather months. (About nine months out of the year, LOL!)

I did a quick Google search and discovered it was an indie pattern by Sew House Seven. I made a mental note to return to the site and purchase the pattern, but promptly forgot.

Until I saw this offering in the Simplicity catalog.  It's Simplicity 8529, a pullover top from Sew House Seven. It's very similar to the popular Toaster Sweater, but if you look closely you'll spot some differences.
Eager to stitch myself one of these cozy sweaters, I made a trip to SR Harris where I found this lightweight plaid.  It was the perfect piece of fabric to test the pattern.  Note that I didn't cut this on the bias, the plaid is printed diagonally. 
I sewed view A, the one shown in pink on the front cover of the envelope. There are only four pattern pieces for this view, so stitching this up was pretty quick.

The instructions are clearly written, and I found all of the pattern pieces fit together nicely. I liked the directions given for the neck facing as it creates a nice clean finish at the funnel neckline. I added a size tag to the back. Not because it was needed to determine front from back, but because I like to include size tags in items I may end up donating.
The sweater is quite loose fitting. I figured it would be but still cut my normal combo of Small/Medium, but it feels like there is a lot of extra ease.  That could very well be because I used a lightweight sweater knit. I think I'll keep the sizing the same on the next one, which will be a much heavier sweater knit, before I decide if I need to adjust the size.

I really the hi lo hem and was delighted when I discovered I had matched the plaid!  Quite by accident though. I will say that this is one thing I don't like about the pattern: the opening on the side is high!  I don't wish to expose that area of my body, not just because of my extra fluff but because it's cold here! When I was outside taking these pics it was a bit chilly when the cold air swept through that opening onto my bare skin! If you don't plan to wear this with a high-waisted garment, keep that in mind.
The sleeves have a band which is a feature I like.
The top has a drop shoulder, which I think you can see better in the back view.
This top I was able to whip up in about two hours start to finish. Remember though, that I did zero pattern alterations, which is where I generally spent a fair amount of time when I sew a project.

This design reminds me of a tunic I saw on one of my favorite local boutique's Facebook page. And they are selling theirs for $52.  Which isn't a bad price, but I love knowing that I can get a similar look for less all while enjoying the process of creating it myself ! 

I'm quite pleased with my first sweater from this pattern. It's cute and comfy and exactly what I want when I need to toss on something casual.

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Saturday, November 25, 2017

Bell Sleeves, Ombre Fabric and Lace Trim Equals Easy Elegance: Vogue 9270 Review

With slightly belled sleeves, textured lace trim, and an ombre floral knit fabric, this tunic was destined to be a winner. 
Have you ever looked at through your clothing and come to realization that the look you want for an upcoming event is no where to be found in your closet?  Yea, me too. That's how this tunic came to be. 

We had plans to see Little River Band and the day before the event I had one of those "I want to wear something cute, trendy, casual and comfy and I don't own anything like that!"moments. (Side note: that's actually not true, I really just wanted something new!)

So, I made a quick stop to the local JoAnn Fabrics store and picked up Vogue 9270 and almost two yards of this lightweight, ombre floral print knit fabric (which was all that was left on the bolt).  The fabric was not on sale, but I was able to use a 40% off coupon, which made it reasonably priced.
I choose the pattern because it was rated easy (remember, I only gave myself less than a day to sew this),  and it had princess seams, making it easy for me to do a small full bust adjustment (FBA). I also did a slight forward shoulder adjustment, a sway back adjustment, and removed 1" from the length.  Next time I'll remove length from the sleeves as I don't like how long they are.
The pattern is a Very Easy Vogue and I would agree with the rating.  I was able to eliminate the back zipper since I used a knit.  The fit is very loose. I ended up taking in the side front, side back and side seams.  I also found the sleeve pulls across my upper arm if I raise my arms. Which isn't a problem in  knit, but would be if I had use one of the recommended fabrics (silk crepe, challis, velvet, lace, etc.) 
After I finished the top and put it on, I found if I pulled the entire top up and pinned out 1" at along the entire shoulder seam that made the sleeves fit better. So you fit gurus - what's my solution?  Do I need to do a petite adjustment across my upper chest? Or just raise the armhole higher?

The upper and lower portions of the sleeve are cut separately.  That worked in my favor as I barely had enough fabric to cut this out.  The pattern calls for 3" wide lace, but I used a beautiful textured flat black lace that was only 2" wide since I already had it in my stash.  The lace is added while the sleeve is flat. It is sewn over the seam attaching the upper sleeve to the lower sleeve. The instructions have you add the lace to the bottom of the sleeve before stitching the sleeve seam, but I added the sleeve hem lace at the end instead.
The instructions call for the neck edge to be finished with purchased bias tape. That is not my preferred method. Instead I cut a 2" wide strip of fabric the length of the neck opening, folded it in half lengthwise (wrong sides together), pressed lightly, stitched it to the neck edge with a 3/8" seam allowance, pressed it up and stitched it in place.
The top was finished in about two hours, and was perfect for the venue!  I sewed it two weeks ago and have already worn it multiple times. I guess I better plan on another one!

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Sunday, November 12, 2017

The Hot Patterns Urban Gypsy Top in an Embroidered Border Denim

"It's too cold to wear that outside!" My hubby's words of wisdom as I donned this off-the-shoulder tunic for an outdoor photo shoot. With temps hovering around 30 degrees F,  I figured I could brave it for five minutes. Which I did - barely.
Hot Patterns Metropolitan Urban Gypsy Blouse Embroidered Denim

It's not sunny out, but I had Lasik surgery a few days ago and am not allowed to wear eye makeup yet, thus the sunglasses!  Yea, I know, I'm vain, LOL. 
Hot Patterns Metropolitan Urban Gypsy Blouse Embroidered Denim
That's it for pics of the top on me! It was too cold for more, so you'll get to enjoy the pics I took on GiGi, my dress form,  a few weeks ago.
The fabric is a gorgeous denim with an embroidered border that I purchased this past June from Emma One Sock.
Photo from
I knew the fabric needed a simple design to let the beauty of the embroidery shine, so I sewed the Hot Patterns Urban Gypsy Blouse.  This was the second time I had sewn this top and I was able to sew it in just a few hours.  I blogged about my first one here.

This one I sewed slightly smaller, and made the elastic in the back tighter. 
The tiny hem on the sleeve ties were easy to sew on this lightweight denim.  I probably should have cut the blouse hem straight across and then match the scallop at the side seams, but I didn't think of that until I had already followed the pattern piece and cut the curves.  Sigh.
I like how the front is flat, and the sides and back have elastic.  I debated about adding straps so I could wear a regular bra but ultimately decided against doing so. However, I did save some fabric scraps if I change my mind.
I sewed the top with the intent of wearing it to the outdoor Santana concert held in July.  After all, an evening in July in Minnesota should be warm enough for an off-the-shoulder look, right?  Ha!  Nope. It was unseasonably cold the day of the concert and I ended up wearing long sleeves and a jean jacket.
 I only had a chance to wear it once this past summer, but I'm sure it will see plenty of wear next year!  Whether I sew myself another remains to be seen.

The pattern is HP 1196, and can be purchased online. (No affiliation with Hot Patterns, just want to make it easy for you to find the pattern.)

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Monday, October 30, 2017

The Floral Appliqued Bomber Jacket That Only Took A Year to Complete: McCall's 7100

What?!?  A year to sew a bomber jacket?  Okay, true confession.  It didn't really take a year to sew this bomber jacket. I only worked on it for seven months. But it did take me a year to blog about it!

Let me back up and start at the beginning.

When McCall's announced a bomber jacket sew-a-long on their blog in August 2016, I decided to join.  Right away I was behind schedule as I wanted to wait for a sale to purchase the pattern (McCall's 7100).

Next, I couldn't make up my mind what fabric to use to sew my bomber. I purchased a couple different pieces locally from SR Harris: a pretty brocade, a border print suiting, and a faux leather. But after bringing them home they just didn't say "make me into a bomber jacket".  (Your fabric speaks to you too, right?)

Then it hit me!  I remembered this gorgeous piece of fabric I had purchased from Emma One Sock in 2010.   It was described as "Milly faux leather applique border taffeta in a honey mustard with a scallop edge, sequins, and faux leather leaves and flowers".
Photo from Emma One Sock 

Like I said, gorgeous!  The problem is I can't wear this color as it's quite unflattering to my skin tone.  I realized that as soon as the fabric arrived. Rather than return it (because it is so gorgeous!) I tucked it away in my fabric stash until it let me know what it wanted to become.  Last year it let me know it wanted to became my McCall's 7100 bomber jacket.
I knew I would have to find  a knit for the bands that 1) coordinated with the fabric and 2) would flatter my skin tone.  Back to SR Harris where I was able to find a ponte knit that matched the leaves pretty darn close!

By now I had given up trying to do the sew-along as they were on week seven and preparing to do their reveals, while I still needed to alter and cut out my pattern pieces.

I choose to do an FBA, adding a small dart and more width all the way down (which I needed). If you look closely you'll see the outline of flowers on the pattern piece. I drew them on the pattern piece to make sure I wouldn't have an appliqued flower or leave right at the apex of my bust!
I carefully laid out the pattern pieces making sure to showcase as much of the appliques and embroidery as possible.  I was limited on fabric and only had scraps left by the time I was done!
 While construction of the jacket is pretty straightforward, every seam required a few extra steps because of the appliques.  At times I had to remove some of the appliques completely, stitch the seam, and re-attach the applique.
 At other times I could move the applique out of the way as I stitched the seams.
 I like how the leaf floats over the pocket of the jacket. 
After I had the jacket partially constructed I hit another road block.  I couldn't find a zipper that matched or coordinated!  If you follow me on Facebook (Sharon Sews) or on Instagram (@sharonmads) I posted a pic in search of opinions on one of three zipper options.
Honestly, I didn't really like any of the three, but I was so eager to finish the jacket that if there had been a clear winner (from all the opinions I solicited) I would have used that zipper!  Fortunately the vote was split and I kept searching for a zipper.

I finally ordered one from  Did you know they'll match a zipper for you? I didn't!  I placed an order for six different zippers, all close in color, hoping one would match my jacket.  When they received my order, they contacted me to ask if I was trying to match something specific.  Why, yes I was, I replied. And that's how I discovered they'd match a zipper.  This one is much nicer that what I was trying to make work! 
By now it was January and this jacket had been underway for five months.  I was getting so close to being done! Just needed to add a lining.

But first a vacation!  In February we went to Bonita Springs, FL and I switched gears from sewing this jacket to sewing some fun vacation clothes.  After enjoying a week break from the cold and snow, I returned home and began working on the jacket again.

I lined it using a polyester print purchased as a pre-cut from Fabric Mart Fabrics.  I love the bold, colorful print, which coordinates quite nicely!
At this point I returned to the McCall's Bomber Jacket sew-a-long blog post and followed the instructions for bagging the lining.  It looked messy, but it worked.

Here's the back of the jacket.

Whew, I was done!  It was now spring 2017 and I realized I had nothing I could wear with my new jacket!  So the jacket went into my closet and waited.  I would bring it with me on shopping trips to boutiques, department stores, and fabric stores, but I couldn't find a top that worked.

Then I remembered I still had some of the ponte knit I had used for the bands on the jacket and quickly stitched myself a sleeveless pullover dress. I'd prefer to wear this bomber with a tee and jeans, but at least I have something that coordinates.

As I mentioned the pattern is McCall's 7100.
After all the work I put into this jacket, I'm not sure I like how it looks on me.  Which is why you're only seeing it photographed on GiGi, my dress form.
Even so, it was a fun project and a nice break from all of the easy pieces I whipped up in between.

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Monday, October 23, 2017

The Cape-Like Sleeve Top: Hot Patterns Deco Vibe Artemis Knit Top

This top technically doesn't have an attached cape (like my recent ones: the "Wonder Woman"cape top, and the Black Silk Cape top), but when I wear it, the sleeves feel like I have on a mini-cape!

The pattern is HP 1165, Hot Patterns Deco Vibe Artemis Knit Dress & Top, c. 2014.  I don't believe it's available for purchase from Hot Patterns any longer. I'm a member of their Facebook group and when the pattern was offered for sale earlier this year, I jumped on it.
I planned on sewing the dress from a panel knit purchased from Emma One Sock, but wanted to test the fit first since I haven't sewn many of the Hot Patterns designs.

The fabric is a sparkly medium-weight knit purchased locally at SR Harris Fabric Warehouse.  It was the perfect weight for this design. Any heavier and I think the sleeves wouldn't sit properly and the neck and hem band would be difficult to sew. The sleeves hang nicely with just enough drape and movement.  Something to keep in mind when choosing your fabric is that the wrong side of the fabric will show on the inside of the sleeves
The front neckband is top-stitched very close to the seamline. I had a little trouble keeping it straight where there is excess bulk (where the sleeve bands are attached to the neck).  Even though I used a very narrow zig-zag, a few of my stitches popped.  Next time I think I'll try the new Eloflex stretch thread from Coats and Clark.
I had one heck of a time trying to understand how to attach the sleeves!  I finally ditched the instructions, pinned how I thought the sleeves should be assembled, and stitched. 
The bottom is finished with a wide hem band. I'll eliminate that next time, as I'd rather have a regular hem.  The back is cut on the fold of the fabric.
There is a center front seam, which is difficult to see in my fabric. I believe the seam is there to make adding the "forward tulip wrapped"sleeve easier, as the front seam is sewn after the sleeves are added.  I think the front could be cut on the fold if you wanted to eliminate that seam, just be aware adding the sleeves will be trickier.

The only alteration I did on this one was a small FBA (full bust adjustment). Next time I'll increase the FBA slightly and do a small forward shoulder adjustment.

Conclusion?  It's a fairly easy pattern to sew, and a fun and stylish top to wear. 

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