Sweet + Edgy

A little bit of sweetness is okay, but in general, I don’t like my clothing to look too sweet. Details like puffed sleeves, which can do a lot of good for the dimensions of a small skeleton like mine, can easily tip over into juvenile or outdated unless they’re mixed with non-sweet elements.


So when I saw Butterick 5890 with the waist tucks and Peter Pan collar, I knew right away I wanted to offset the sweetness of the design details with something a little edgier. My first thought was to make the collar out of leather — and I still have a hankering to do that someday, and the skin to do it tucked away in my stash, so that could happen. I would want to make the collar removable for laundering, and I would probably use some kind of snap tape or hook and eye tape to do that — I’m telling you guys, this could happen someday. I really love the idea of a Peter Pan collar in leather.

But for this version, I had some black and silver abstract knit that I thought would work perfectly.


I didn’t bother with an FBA because I figured the room created by the tucks would be sufficient. (Figured in the literal sense, with my tape measure and numbers and some little mathy type work.) The only adjustment I made to the pattern was to shorten it, which was to accommodate the fabric’s yardage. I didn’t have enough to make it any longer, but I think it works okay at this length. Oh, and I used a shorter zipper in the back. The pattern called for something like a 20″ center back zipper, but I used a 9″ and it worked just fine. In a woven fabric with zero stretch, a longer zipper would be necessary.

The fabric was something I bought online from one of the discounters. Many people are huge fans of this particular place and rave online about it, but I’ve had mixed luck with their fabrics. This particular fabric was billed as ponte de roma, but that’s not what it is. A true ponte looks the same on the front side and back side because of the double-knitting technique used to create the fabric. This stuff is knit with two strands (as a ponte would have been), but it’s a regular stranded knit. There’s a definite wrong side to the fabric. The black thread is the main color, and the silver thread is carried along the back and woven in at intervals in much the same method used by Elsa Schiaparelli’s Armenian knitters, just on a machine with thread instead of by hand with yarn. So, not a ponte, and not even a double knit, just a stranded knit. Silly me, expecting people in the business of selling fabric to correctly identify the type of fabric they’re selling.

I like this top a lot. It turned out just as I’d hoped, a sweetly feminine shape made modern with an edgier fabric. It was a quick and easy project, and I’m already keeping my eyes open for a fabric that will work with that leather collar I have in mind. Highly recommend the pattern.

Sweet + Edgy is one of my style favorite combinations. What’s yours?



Goodbye, Summer. We Hardly Knew You!

I’m a writing fellow at a state university, and that means I’m tied to an academic calendar. Summer always feels a bit off-pace in academia. We work, but the rhythm is different — fewer classes, more special projects. Every summer, I set goals for myself that I wouldn’t dare to set for the regular school year — things like the massive pile of sewing I completed in June and the storage unit clean-out I’m tackling this month. This rhythm works well for me because it allows me to process my yearly goals in chunks based on the semester. Summer is always a slow semester, and summer always means loads of progress on other fronts. It also means three months when I’m ripped from my normal routine and dealing with a lot of one-off tasks, and things like blogging tend to get pushed to one side.

That has certainly happened this summer. I’ve had a hard time even remembering to blog, and that has been complicated by learning I need to have surgery next week. I had a couple weeks’ warning, so I’ve spent these past weeks trying to get everything set up for the recovery period. I’m not worried at all about the surgery, which is a simple procedure with an extraordinarily high success rate. But I’m a bit worried about the aftermath, when I might not be able to do most of the things I normally do. Like, you know, be awake.

So even though we’re shifting into the fall semester now, I think it might be a couple of weeks before I’m back to my regular routine.

I have mountains of half-finished projects in my sewing room right now. Really, mountains. I can’t see the top of my large sewing table or the two dressers I use as storage and work spaces. I’ve started putting things on chairs because I’ve run out of other surface area. It’s a symptom of the way things are going right now — I have a few minutes, just a few, at irregular intervals to try to cram in a bit of sewing. Knitting seems a little easier to get into right now because I can drop a project in the middle of a row if need be. Harder to drop a sewing project in the middle of the seam.

One of the projects currently littering my table top in many pieces is this formerly finished dress.


McCall’s 7120

This is McCall’s 7120, a fairly new dress pattern that caught my eye because of the loose shape and asymmetrical hem. I thought it would make a cool, comfortable summer dress good for backyard parties, and in fact, its first wearing happened at my niece’s 8th-grade graduation barbecue. The fabric has been in stash for so long that I can’t even tell you where it came from. It’s in a very lightweight gray cotton, about as light in hand as a batiste but completely opaque. Perfect for a hot sunny afternoon, right?


Yeah. The issue with this dress is a little more apparent in this photo. It’s really broad through the shoulders. REALLY broad. I used a smaller size above the bust line (McCall’s patterns tend to run wide in that area), and it’s still so broad there that it can slide off my shoulders when I move. You can see, along the armscye in the arm holding the camera, how the extra fabric sort of pools and bags there.

So, despite having worn it a few times already, I decided to rip the darned thing apart and narrow the shoulders so I don’t have to keep tugging at it when I wear it. I’m taking it in along the center back and center front above the bust line (using darts), and I might try shaving a tiny bit off the shoulder seams, too. This will result in a higher, narrower neckline, but I’ve decided I’m okay with that. If I make this dress again — and I might, just because this is one of those versatile patterns with a clean shape and good hem and sleeve variations — I will redraft the shoulders to preserve the original neckline while achieving a better fit overall.

This was one of the stash sewing contest entries from June that I just haven’t had a chance to blog yet. I’m going to try to load my queue with a couple others before I go in for surgery, but please forgive me if I can’t respond to comments as quickly as normal. I don’t know how the recovery from surgery will go — I might find myself on the computer a lot, or never at all. We’ll see!

Do you ever rip apart a finished garment after a few wearings to tinker with the fit?