McCalls 7020 Cowl Top Turned Dress

Cowl Neck top with Chico's necklace

Cowl Neck top with Chico’s necklace (old)

As I move into 2017 and take inventory of my lengthy list of sewing projects, I am reminded of the bloggers who took great time to review their versions of sewing ‘Hits and Misses’ of 2016. ¬† There seemed to be a plan from the start of the year to execute specific garments for their wardrobe. ¬†This requires organization and planning skills, which I admire. ¬† However, I am more impulsive. ¬†If I need a jacket, I make one. ¬†If I get inspired by a great pattern, I collect the fabric and necessities and get started. ¬†Maybe perusing blogs will inspire me to make something similar because I can! Allowing myself to be drawn into a creative swirl often results in garments that have served a practical purpose, ¬†a creative ‘itch’ that needed to be scratched, or because I needed some time alone to recharge in my happy sewing space.

Have you ever come across a pattern that just draws you in but you don’t know why? ¬†This simple McCalls 7020 pattern did just that. ¬†Maybe it was the fabric, or how it looked on the model or maybe it’s simplicity. ¬† Not sure. ¬†At first, I planned to make a top (View B) out of this to wear with jeans. ¬†But then I realized that I had enough fabric to extend the top into a dress minus pockets. ¬†I love the idea of pockets and I truly love them but only if they can be sewn down either to the waistband or directly to the front of the garment.

Cowl Neck of McCalls 7020

Cowl Neck of McCalls 7020

My favorite part of this pattern is the cowl neck. The pattern piece is weirdly shaped which is probably why it drapes so nicely. ¬†This fabric is a waffle weave Henley-like fabric purchased at my local mill end store. ¬†Since fabric content is a guess at that store, I would say it’s contents would be a rayon, cotton and poly blend.

( Side note about mystery fabric content: ¬†My rule is the Fabric Must Stand The Washer And Dryer Test. ¬†How will it survive? ¬†Sometimes the fabric improves with washing and drying. ¬†You may choose to launder the fabric differently into the future, but that first washing is crucial. ¬† The results of the washing may change the direction of the project. ¬†Is it softer? ¬† Does it have a new texture, drape?…etc. ¬†Remember that you are getting a great deal because there are NO FRILLS, UNKNOWN FABRIC CONTENT OR CARE DESCRIPTION. ¬†You are on your own. ¬†I happen to love this fabric challenge because my success rate is about 95%. ¬†Maybe it comes from years of working with fabric that I am confident that it will turn out. ¬†Like most things, practice makes perfect. )

Back to the dress РIt is a bit thin for a dress, but since I knew I would wear it with tights, it was fine.   I made up a size  M 12/14.

My son’s dog, Outlaw, was a bit bored, but still well behaved while we took some photos.

Are we done yet?

One construction change I might make for next time is to eliminate the center front and back seams and instead place them on the fold.  It would also save some sewing time making this an even quicker project to complete.   The center seams interrupt the pattern if using a print.

It makes sense in View C where stripes are featured.

Man, this is boring?  Fetch, anyone??

Here, you can see the front riding up. ¬†It appears I need a Full Bust Adjustment! ¬†Hummmm. ¬†I don’t usually need to make that alteration, but when I see the front hem line drawing up, it usually means that fabric is being taken up by a larger bust. ¬†I found myself tugging at the dress to keep the front even with the back.

My second change would be to make the bicep/upper arm circumference larger.  My goal was to have this be a looser knit shift dress all around, but the sleeves are a bit tight.

I will probably make this again but choose stripes instead and make a top and widen the sleeves to be more comfortable. ¬† Now that I’m thinking of it, I have some striped fabric in my stash that I could use for all of these changes. ¬†It would also be nice to add a slightly hi-low hemline to the top. ¬† Stay tuned…

These days, a loose style cowl neck is the closest I will be getting to a turtleneck. ¬† I don’t seem to need many layers year round while living in Arizona. ¬†This loose cowl also allows space for a necklace.

Please be a squirrel....

Please be a squirrel….

Using this same pattern, I loved seeing Mimi G Style’s hoodie. ¬†Have you tried this pattern? ¬†Thoughts?

Happy sewing-


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 Рa 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!

Shades of Olive Jacket Kit

Dana's Shades of Olive Jacket with Semi-Precious Stone Lariat Necklace

Dana’s Shades of Olive Jacket with Semi-Precious Stone Lariat Necklace

I was fortunate enough to spend a few days with my mom at the Sewing and Stitchery Expo in Puyallup, Washington last year at about this time (Feb/Mar), and I’m a little sad I didn’t go this year. It was my first sewing expo out of Arizona and I wanted to share one aspect in more detail with you.

One of the big highlights was meeting Linda MacPhee, a patterns designer, teacher, sewing enthusiast, vendor, among other talents. Here is a jacket kit I purchased from her after seeing the kit and the finished product. From the list of presenters for 2014, I don’t think Linda attended this year, but she still offers the pattern in two color choices on her website here. If you have a moment, check out the website for the Expo for 2015. It is fun to look at the sight to get a taste of all that is available. I highly recommend attending if you want to be surrounded by sewing enthusiasts, great instructors and an ‘seamingly’-never-ending supply of vendors and supplies. It’s exhausting!

Linda MacPhee and Dana Belasco in Puyallup, WA 2013

Linda MacPhee and Dana Belasco in Puyallup, WA 2013

The catchy title of ‘Shades of Gray’ was a deliberate attempt to get the attention of customers and cause them to stop by the booth and ask questions about this art-to-wear jacket. Here we are at her booth and advertising her gray jacket kit. She was such a delight to meet in person. I have been a member of the American Sewing Guild, Tucson Chapter in years past and had heard that she had come to our city of offer classes and demos, but for some reason, I never attended. It was my loss. She is so friendly and warm. ¬†My mom and I must have said the right things because we were asked to be models in Linda’s fashion show on the main stage!

After getting to talk to her, Linda conveyed that sewing needs to be to simplified, making it as easy as possible to open up to new and different ways to be creative. Sometimes, we get in our own way and complicate a pattern’s process, or get intimidated before even starting something and as a result, never get it off the ground and finished. So…….this jacket has taken a year to complete! ¬†More about why later in the post.

Linda prepares the kits herself by providing various remnant squares of fabrics from her suppliers.  The kit fabrics have the weight and feel of home decorator and stretch woven fabrics.   The additional fabric needed is the sleeve fabric of your choice.   Linda chose a heavy sweater knit for her sleeves because she lives in Canada and wanted extra warmth. I selected a black cotton/poly knit remnant from my stash.  This kit requires some planning and prep to make this jacket come alive.

Somehow, she knows how much fabric to provide as well as a zipper, pattern, and creative suggestions in the instructions. The idea is to come up with your own configuration. Basically, you are creating the fabric for the jacket like a puzzle. The placement of all fabrics need to look right and balanced and pleasing to the eye. It can also be a great way to use up some laces and trims as well as any other fabric remnants from the stash.

Linda MacPhee Sewing and Stitchery Expo 2013, Puyallup, WA

Linda MacPhee Sewing and Stitchery Expo 2013, Puyallup, WA

As you can see, she added lace, stitching, a rhinestone encrusted zipper, and a creative assortment of related and coordinating fabrics
'Shades of Gray' Back View, Sewing and Stitchery Expo 2013, Puyallup, WA

‘Shades of Gray’ Back View, Sewing and Stitchery Expo 2013, Puyallup, WA

Below is Linda’s sample of the olive jacket to help customers see how the pieces can come together. In the background, you can see all of the MacPhee Workshop patterns stacked and ready for sale. ¬† There is so much to take in! ¬†There are great garment samples from her various patterns made up for the sole purpose to try them on for size and fit. ¬† She offers guidance with pattern selection to suit your lifestyle needs. ¬† Some garments hang on racks for sale made up out of fabrics available at her booth. ¬† She is so generous with her techniques and tips it is hard to not get so excited and grab the next available sewing machine in sight and get started.
'Shades of Olive' Sample Jacket

‘Shades of Olive’ Sample Jacket

Back view of partially finished Shades of Olive sample jacket

Back view of partially finished Shades of Olive sample jacket

Selvage and lace used on back

Selvage and lace used on back

Here, Linda used the selvage and lace to add interest and texture to the back. It can also be a way to hide the butting of a seam or blend two fabrics together.
Textured fabrics paired at sleeve and back

Textured fabrics paired at sleeve and back

These two fabrics were very different and yet coordinated nicely. One is a flocked printed denim and the other is a scrolled design with a reversible side.
Two-pieced sleeve and princess seamed sides

Two-pieced sleeve and princess seamed sides

The pattern Linda chose to include in the kit features the two pieced sleeve and princess seams to not only allow a better fit, but another opportunity to combine more fabrics in small doses to add interest.

So here is my jacket. At a glance, they look alike, but they are very different.  My mom provided a scrap of fabric that I used throughout, like on the right pocket. I also added laces of different widths at seam joints.  I suppose no two jackets could be the same because the fabric in the kits may vary and the arrangement of them will be different for every person.IMG_2651
IMG_2654You can see the back side pieces are from the same scrap fabric from my mom, only reversed. It has a slight gold fleck in it and looked great on both sides so I had to find a way to show both sides. Plus, it blended well with all of the other fabrics.
IMG_2655So why did it take me a whole year to complete? Well, I was moving right along without a hitch with the fabric piecing, but had difficulty getting the sleeves to set properly. ¬†I’m not sure if I didn’t mark the reference points right or what, but I didn’t notice they weren’t in correctly until they had been sewn and serged. ¬†They didn’t hang properly and had to be ripped out. I got discouraged, and frankly, allowed myself to get distracted by other sewing projects. It sat until I forced myself to tackle some of my UFO’s (UnFinished Objects).
I hope this post inspires you to look at your patterns and fabrics in a new way. Maybe there is the possibility of a hidden jacket ‘kit’ in your stash.

Now, for the lariat necklace. If you want to know more about it, click here to get the details.

Vogue 8819 Boucle Sweater

IMG_2629This was an impulse fabric purchase (not unlike many of mine) but this was a little different. I was walking out of my local mill end fabric store and spotted this on the top of a pile. I had not seen it the day before (yes, I am on a first name basis with the staff). It measured just shy of 2 yards and I knew I could squeeze some kind of outer garment piece from it. Because of the subtle stripe in it, I thought of Vogue 8819, which I had not sewn up yet.IMG_2639The black and white striped sweater in the Vogue pattern book really shows off the interesting use of stripes creating chevrons to give this cardigan more punch.V8819IMG_2626The subtle striping in this sweater knit didn’t require alot of time consuming stripe-matching, which made this sew up quickly. I also like how the neck piece conforms to the neck slightly.IMG_2628I made the Meduim 12/14 size and the only complaint I have is that the sleeves were a little too tight. I have a turquoise long sleeve knit tee cut out and ready to make, but I will have to make it a 3/4 sleeve or short sleeves to be able to slide on underneath this sweater. Other than that, I love the design and the length.IMG_2627IMG_2631There are no closures on this jacket, but a hook and eye could be added to the facing if desired.

I will now take a break from my black ensembles and feature some color in the next posts. I could not put you through another black pant offering. For someone who should be wearing browns and navy as my basic neutrals, I have been such a rebel with all of these black projects lately. Stay tuned for more color. Did you find this helpful? Feel free to comment and/or share.

Vogue 8952 Tops

Vogue 8952, View A

Vogue 8952, View A

Well, I’m back posting after the holidays. Hosting family, being sick, shopping, working pooped me out and all I could do to get back on track was to sew! Here are two tops from the same pattern that I made quickly to satisfy my instant gratification craving. The first top is View A from Vogue 8952.

Views A and C

Views A and C

The crazy print and black knit were remnants from my stash and I thought it would be a way to try out this pattern. I like the way the ‘baseball sleeves” tone down the print. It was also a great way for me to get some more practice on the Janome CoverPro 1000CPX machine on the neck band and hems.IMG_2564IMG_2566IMG_2567
The next top is View C made out of a great sweater knit from JoAnn’s. I bought it recently with Christmas money and I couldn’t be happier with the fabric. It has a faint copper animal-like print woven through it and it was a dream to sew on.

Vogue 8952, View C

Vogue 8952, View C

Minimal jewelry so far; tortoise shell earrings and a tortoise shell cuff watch. I may come up with something else to fill in the neck in the future…beaded necklace?IMG_2598The only problem is the boob-shelf issue. It falls straight down providing casual comfort, but without seeing the fabric move, it looks a little big. I made the medium, which is the combo size of 12/14.IMG_2595It also has a bat wing sleeve, which takes a little getting used to. I prefer the tidy look of a set in sleeve, but I loved the picture in the Vogue Pattern Book showing the chevron stripe on the arm. Sooo, that means the next project will have to be a striped knit!V8952 Chevron sleeve
The only change I made to this top was to add a neck band for stability. This sweater knit was heavy and I dreaded a distorted neckline, so I measured the neckline circumference, subtracted 3″, and cut a 2.5″ strip. I used the CoverPro stitch treatment again for further stabilization.

While I’m on the subject of stabilizing knits, I just watched my Craftsy class on Sewing Fashion Knits by Linda Lee. Click here if you want to know more about Linda’s patterns, classes and bio. I have been sewing on knits for a long time, but I’m always interested in learning new techniques. The class is very thorough and Linda’s delivery is professional and smooth. I also admire the way she understands color. Seeing the clothing samples from her pattern line may have been my favorite part. ¬†If you have an interest in learning more about working with knits, I definitely recommend this class.

McCalls 5890 Coordinates

IMG_2349If you are looking for a coordinates pattern that has casual and a bit dressy,this may be it. There will be more about this pattern to come but for now, this post is about the dress because it features princess seams resulting in a great fit. This must be a successful pattern for McCalls because I have seen it in the books for quite a while. (Something I use to determine successful patterns).IMG_2357IMG_2384I’ve added a picture of my doggy-eared pattern for a quick look and a link to check it out from the pattern book. The newest pattern book features this pattern made up in a geometric fabric in addition to the leopard print and it made me take a second look. Talk about great components for a travelling capsule! I have also made the sweater from the pattern (blog post coming soon) but chose to wear a shrug from Old Navy (old) instead to see if I liked it better. I think the proportions are better with flat boots. But back to the dress…
IMG_2351The sleeves are cut outward toward the shoulder which helps with the hour glass shape of the dress. The neckline is scooped just right. I cut the size 14 and took it in a little through the waist. No zipper, just pull it over the head. I serged the hem and did a blind hem to give it some weight.
IMG_2354Okay, so the back view is not too complimentary, but you get the idea of the dress silhouette. I prefer wearing heels with most dresses, but since winter is approaching, my flat black Target boots (also old) are just too comfortable for all-day-on-my-feet activities.
IMG_2378I purchased this fabric at my local mill end store in two remnant pieces. The all over knit print of the dress has pink, aqua, white, fuchsia dots in various sizes. Notice they are not the colors of my palette? Oh well. I was drawn to the simple print because it would not be interrupted by the princess seams. Hemming it at the knee gives me more options for year round wear. Too short would mean only leggings and I wanted to be able to wear this with booties and tights, flat or heeled boots, pumps and a structured blazer, etc.

As you follow my blog, you will notice I gravitate to quick and successful sewing projects that can be worn year round. I live in a hot climate and need separates that are great for layering. Like most women, squeezing in sewing time is a challenge. Sewing projects need to be fun and rewarding. I have a short attention span for each project and I am always tempted to start something new. There is too much fabric and not enough time!

Ethnic Print Maxi Dress


This is McCalls 6700 out of a wild ethnic-looking print I found at my local mill end store SAS Fabrics. It was very easy to sew up although a made a few changes:
1.) In hindsight, I need to add more length to the bodice since most bodices run a little short on me. I didn’t think I would need to because the cross-over surplice tops need to fit snuggly to avoid the cleavage reveal, but I was wrong.
2.) I also attached the front to the back at the shoulder seams with twill tape to stabilize instead of with elastic like the pattern suggested.
3.) I tacked the center front and the center back and stand up straight a lot.

IMG_1500Belt: Michael Kors from Ross, chevron bracelets from Bohme Boutique.IMG_1497The back ties are needed to keep the shoulder straps from falling down. I just tied them in a bow and knotted them so I never have to adjust them again. I didn’t make side slits this time because I could wear this into fall with boots and a jacket or sweater.

Overall, I like the dress and might make it again, but I have other maxi dress patterns I would like to try as well. Even though I’m not as comfortable in sleeveless tops and dresses, this will layer well and has been a good dress for our hot summer weather. Brown will be a color I incorporate more into my wardrobe and you just may see it styled differently this Fall!