Rust and Navy Knit Tunic

Front Long View 618WIMG_4356[1]In the spirit of early fall and pumpkin season, I whipped up this Butterick 5925, a Katherine Tilton tunic.  Have I mentioned how I love it when the end of October rolls around and brings a little chill to the air?   This is the consistent time of year in Tucson when sweaters and coats are realistic to wear.  I happen to love it (I probably should be living in a cooler climate).   I also love this top because it is easy to make, uses up some small knit remnants for the accents and is very comfortable.

FrontMid ShotIMG_4348[1]
The long necklace is thrifted from a local bookstore – a little unexpected find from an unusual place.  It is jasper and hand knotted.  I think I paid $12.
As you can see from the line drawing, there are many ways to combine fabrics.  I chose View B but left off the pocket.  I didn’t want to add any bulk at the hip and have the stripe fabric be more visible.  The contrast I chose was simpler than Katherine had designed for View B, where you can incorporate 3 fabrics.  I shortened the sleeves to a 3/4 length which is a year round length for me AND allows for a little visible arm candy.

Back view of pattern

This style shirt and the use of different knit fabrics allow for so many options. I had no fitting issues, except for the neck band which is always tricky so that it lays flat. You know, a neck band that is not too tight, not too loose = SAGGY. Yuck.  In the words of Michael Kors, “Becky Home-Ecky”.    No preventable saggy necks.  So what to do?   I haven’t figured out the perfect formula for the knit neck bands.  Online classes and various teachers have suggested three-quarters of the neck circumference should be the neck band length, but that doesn’t always work due to the amount of stretch the fabric may have.  If it is a low stretch, like Ponte knit or matte jersey, the neck strip will need to be longer in order to stretch around the neckline and still lay flat.  Super stretchy fabric will be shorter in length for the neckband.  I find pinning it and distributing it as evenly as possible around the neckline works best.   Basically, I have to experiment every time.  I like to jot down the length on my instruction sheet to a have reference info for the future.

Up Close Agate NecklaceIMG_4380[1]

Here is another jewelry option.  Earrings are from Payless Shoe Source!! Can you believe it? Never underestimate the gems that can be found in unlikely places.  The necklace is self made with agate tubes and spacer beads.

Necklace VerticalIMG_4407[1]Below, the side view shows how a triangle piece adds great interest (often called a gore).

Here is the Google definition pertaining to fabric:
noun: gore; plural noun: gores
1. a triangular or tapering piece of material used in making a garment, sail, or umbrella.
verb: gore; 3rd person present: gores; past tense: gored; past participle: gored; gerund or present participle: goring
1. make with a gore-shaped piece of material.
“a gored skirt”

Side ViewIMG_4364[1]



This is the cover stitch hem I did using 4 different threads with my Janome CoverPro machine. As you can see, the three threads show on top.  The fourth thread color is on the underneath side.

I even had enough fabric left over to make a tank and infinity scarf.  I have a post about infinity scarves here.

Cowl InfinityIMG_4402[1]
Long Infinity ScarfIMG_4403[1]

The tank is from the Ann’s Cardigan post. I lengthened it a bit from the waist down so that it can be worn as a vest over a button down shirt or under a cardigan or jacket. The scarf can be worn with the rust boots, and a completely different outfit.
Here is the 8 inch slit on the side of the tank.

Side SlitIMG_4404[1]

So there you have it. Another completed sewing project and some jewelry to match.   I hope you will grab this pattern while it is still in the Butterick book and make one up.

On to the next project!

Vogue 8951 Top Turned Into A Dress

IMG_3652I must confess that a guilty pleasure of mine is to watch the home shopping networks.   Instead of resorting to trying clothes on at the local stores, I get a glimpse into what fashion is selling to people who choose to shop from home. It intrigues me to see how women buy pants online or TV.   I like to see what styles, colors, and trends are making their way into homes all across the country.   As a apparel sewer, I am inspired by some of the designs and feel fortunate to be able to replicate these items while incorporating my own twists.

This particular dress came from a QVC designer, Susan Graver. She sold thousands of this style dress..and for good reasons. If this dress is anything like the two I just made, it very comfortable. I was lucky to find this green cotton French Terry at my local mill end store. It has the sweatshirt-like feel we all know and love, as well as the heft needed to wear this without show-through. Susan’s version is out of her own manufactured cotton French Terry and offers shorter sleeves, rounded side slits, and patch pockets. It looks like this.  To find out more about this dress click here:
SG french terry dressMy version comes from Vogue 8951, which offers woven tops, but had a similar neckline and it could be extended into a dress length.

Woven Tops Turned into Knit Dresses

Woven Tops Turned into Knit Dresses

I chose not to include the hood, although that would have been a cute option if I used hoods more often. The sleeves were lengthened to 3/4 length, and I also chose not to add rounded side slits. Basically, my dress is View A with longer sleeves and more than 34″ added to the length from the side seams. I added more to the length so that I could try the dress on and have plenty of material for the hem.   I settled on the hem being just a bit above the knee.

Green French Terry Vogue Dress

Green French Terry Vogue Dress

The kangaroo pocket is very comfortable, hold a cell phone and/or keys, and disguises my tummy pooch. It also adds to the very casual look of the dress.
IMG_3643Second version out of a stable knit and longer in length. I prefer this dress at this time of year because the knit is lighter weight for our hot desert summer weather.

Turquoise/White Knit Knee Length

Turquoise/White Knit Knee Length

One thing to note: This pattern calls for wovens, not knits. I added about 1/4″ around the shoulders, bust area, sleeves and armhole just to be sure it would have some ease. I also added quite a bit to the side seams so that it wouldn’t be too tight around my rear. I tapered it at the waist and flared out at the hips. It took trying on and off multiple times, trips to the mirror, trips to and from the sewing machine, but I got the fit just the way I wanted.

After making the first dress, I knew I would be cranking out a few more. I have one more cut out out of another stable knit.

Why make duplicates of the same pattern, you ask?
1.)   The second item takes less time to complete.
2.)   The kinks, alterations, and design changes are worked out.
3.)   Different fabrics provide variety and change the look of the original pattern.
4.)   Success is addictive! If one is good, more is better.

Once a pattern has been a success, it becomes a Tried and True (TNT) pattern.    Do you have some TNT’s in your wardrobe?


McCalls 6398 Cream and Gray Knit Tunic

Handkerchief hem knit tunic

Handkerchief hem knit tunic

I read an article some time ago that addressed how to stay looking stylish without succumbing to every new fad. It was addressing the contentment that comes with accepting the styles that work for your body proportions and lifestyle. Having just crossed the 50-year old threshold, I want to dress my age, be appropriate, and all of those things you hear being said. But I also want some fun items in my wardrobe that are unexpected as I am still defining my style and trying things out.

The tunic style is being worn by young to old(er) and that tells me it has a timeless and ageless look. For a while I thought, ‘Why would I want excess fabric at my hips?’ but then I made one and found the opposite to be true. The bottom of the tunic falls just below the hip line and helps to disguise a common problem area.

I would not say my style is edgy by any means, but I do like these handkerchief hem tunics. You can dress them up or wear them with leggings, heels or flats, and they always receive compliments. When I saw this gray and cream abstract print at my local mill end store SAS Fabrics, I envisioned making a top like this.

I chose McCalls 6398 view B because it had an interesting yoke where I could use a different fabric. It must be a good seller as it has made the cut in the pattern books for over 2 years. I chose an oatmeal colored knit from my stash because it was easier to match and more flattering against my face than the gray color.

Okay, so the fabric isn’t really flowing here. It’s hung up on my high bum area, but i’ll just keep walkin’. The sides swish around when I walk, so I’ll just hope people focus on that and think happy thoughts.

This necklace is a mix of all gray toned, silver and black chain. I bought from Stein Mart last year and I wear it more that I would have guessed. I have also paired this with a long strand of pearls.

I recommend this top for anyone looking for a quick and satisfying knit top. I made no changes the the pattern. I stitched up the size 14 to make sure there was enough fabric to drape nicely. It lends itself well to color blocking and using up the smaller scraps of knit in the stash. The yoke inset only takes 1/2 yard.

Do you have a timeless garment in your wardrobe that works for most occasions?

How To Sew An Infinity Scarf

This may be one of my easiest tutorials on this site… about addictive! These can be made in 30 minutes once you get the hang of it. The fabric can be a knit or woven, which means the width can vary from 45″-60″. I prefer knits because they are soft on the neck, don’t wrinkle, and can be stretched to get over your head. They can even wrap three times making a collar, if desired. The slideshow shows some of the recent remnants-turned-neck-jewelry I’ve made and their finished widths so you can see how they drape. (the navy/white knit and multi stripe knit are wrapped three times because they are narrow).

What you will need to get started:
1.) Sewing machine
2.) Fabric of your choice-remnants of 1 yard or less
3.) Matching thread
4.) Hand sewing needle
5.) Scissors
6.) Ruler
7.) Iron (optional, but provides better results)

I will list the steps here and then show pictures to help clarify.
Step 1.) Fold fabric in half lengthwise, bringing selvages together. This will be a seam allowance width away from your finished width that sits around your neck. For example: 1/2 yard of fabric (18″) will make a 9″ scarf.

Step 2.) Square up fabric so it is the same measurement in width from the selvages to the fold.

Selvages together, RST, pin

Selvages together, RST, pin

Step 3.) Pin lengthwise raw edges, leaving 2-4″ near the selvage open. This will be the opening for turning right side out.
Step 4.) Sew lengthwise edge except for the 2-4″ opening.
Step 5.) Press seam allowance flat.
Step 6.) Turn right side out.
Step 7.) With RST(Right Sides Together), align selvages and pin together. This makes the loop.
Step 8.) Sew just past the selvage with a 3/4″ seam allowance or enough to clear any markings of the selvage.
Step 9.) Trim off any selvage.
Step 10.) Press seam allowance either open or to one side, whichever is easier.
Step 11.) Turn right sides out.
Step 12.) With needle and thread, fold edges to inside and slip stitch opening closed.
That’s It!!

Three piece ensemble, navy knit

Three piece ensemble, navy knit

Here is another option. I made a tank, shrug and infinity scarf out of the same material. The infinity scarf makes the tank look like a cowl neck and provides more warmth for chilly weather.
Remove and put in your bag when it gets warm.

Have fun making these for yourself or as gifts.