Thursday, June 26, 2014

archer shirt variation: v-neck placket

Wutsup Internet pals. After my last post, I received some requests for a demonstration on how I modified the plackets of the Grainline Archer shirt to a V-neck. And I oblige! I like this look because the shirt lays flat against your chest while still framing your neck and face in that nice button-up shirt kinda way. It's slightly more feminine, too, so there's that.

This doesn't involve anything too difficult, despite the long post that follows here. The modification involves three steps: 1) modify the shape of your shirt pattern piece, 2) draft separate plackets to match, and 3) shorten your collar stand. I'll also show you how to actually sew on the new plackets. You can, of course, do all this with any button-up shirt pattern, but I'm showing it on the Archer because it seems likely that more of you guys already have this pattern (or are thinking about getting it) than some rando Butterick pattern or something, right? We're all indie fangirls and we know it.

So if you want to get this look, follow along!

1. Assemble the front pattern piece of the Archer shirt. If you need to print a new one for this modification, you only need to print pages 2-4, 8-10, and 14-16 from the PDF. Cut or trace your size.

2. Cut along the vertical line that says "Trim Along Dotted Line for Right Front." The original Archer pattern has you fold under and stitch the placket on the wearer's left side, and attach a separate placket piece for the right side. On this modification, both sides will have two separate plackets so throw away that chunk and pretend it never existed.

3. Cut off the desired amount to create your V-shape in the front. Make sure it doesn't cut way below your bust apex (unless u naughty), but remember that there will be added plackets that will provide more coverage. For reference, I made a point 1" inward at the neck and another point 7-1/2" down, and connected those points with a straight line which I then cut off. Feel free to make the neckline more or less open, higher or lower.

Because I was making a sleeveless version, I went ahead and modified the shoulder and armhole, too. As Jen writes in her sleeveless Archer mod post, you don't want a sleeveless shirt that hangs off your shoulders, so shorten that shoulder seam and blend to nothing at the original underarm. I shortened my shoulder seam by 1-1/2". You'll need to similarly alter your yoke and back pieces, too.

4. Before drafting the plackets, go ahead and draw the seam line on the front edge of the shirt pattern piece. The seam allowance on Grainline patterns is 1/2". This steps just helps with the drafting process for accurate measuring of the new plackets.

5. To draft the plackets, place a sheet of tracing paper over the top of your pattern piece (I use Swedish Tracing Paper). Weigh it down then trace that seam line you just drew. Now draw a parallel line 3/4" to the left of that seam line. 3/4" is the final desired placket width I chose, so if you want a wider or narrower placket, adjust as you please. Connect the top of the two lines by tracing the curved outline of the shirt neckline. Connect the bottoms with a straight perpendicular line that matches the hem of your shirt piece.

So, the blue outline on the tracing paper is now the placket piece without seam allowances on the sides:

6. Add seam allowances to the sides of the placket only, since SAs are already included in the top and hem (traced from the original pattern). My SAs are in green in the photo. Stick with 1/2" if you're using the Archer so it remains consistent with the rest of the shirt construction. When drawing your SAs at the top of the placket, the top bit should continue to follow the curve of the shirt neckline. It will look crazy pointy, but that is all trimmed down later after you sew it on. Cut out your new final pattern piece.

While you have all your pattern pieces and fabric out, let's do this mod now before sewing anything. Remember that you removed fabric from the front of your shirt pieces, which makes the garment neckline shorter around. If you're adding a collar, collar stand, or both, you will need to adjust the pattern piece(s) accordingly. I decided I wanted a "mandarin collar," or just a collar stand with no collar piece, so I'm only showing that modification here. The same theory applies if you're adjusting a collar, too: remove length at the center so the shape and pitch of the ends remain unaltered.

First, calculate how much of the neckline you removed from the shirt on each side. Instead of measuring all the pattern pieces and adding stuff together, just think about the original pattern pieces versus your new ones and do some subtraction. On the original Archer, there is the full neckline plus a 1" placket. For my version, I removed 1 inch from that neckline, then added plackets that are only 3/4". So my shirt neckline now has 1-1/4" less on EACH SIDE, or 2-1/2" less total. I hope that makes sense. I tried to create some diagrams but it just made it seem more confusing.

The Archer collar stand is cut on the fold, so changes made to this pattern piece reflect only one side, though the changes will be doubled once the fabric is cut. Since I removed 1-1/4" from each side of the shirt neckline, I similarly removed 1-1/4" from each half of the collar stand at the center back. I marked a line at 1-1/4" and cut there. This is your new "Cut on Fold" line when you cut your fabric.

1. Cut FOUR placket pieces from your fabric. Two of them will be your outer plackets and the remaining two will be the placket facings. Cut two interfacing pieces as well. 

2. Fuse the interfacing to two placket pieces.

3. Right sides together, pin and sew the the facings to their placket counterparts. You will be sewing the outer edge, or the outer curve of the plackets. Trim this seam allowance.

Open the pieces and press the seam to the placket facing (uninterfaced side). Understitch this seam in place.

4. Fold together and press, wrong sides together. The understitching will help the placket facing stay put in the back. Double check the width of your plackets now and trim the raw edges to make everything even if you need to. 

5. You'll now be attaching the plackets as one piece to the front shirt edges. That means you'll sew both layers of the placket and placket facing to the shirt, and the seam will be visible on the inside. I decided not to do a "clean finish" (where the placket facing edge is folded over and stitched to cover the separately-sewn placket seam) in the interest of time and in the interest of me not being interested in a clean finish. Do whatchu do.

Pin the right side of the placket side to the shirt edge. The pointy seam allowance at the top of the placket sticks out awkwardly as it's supposed to, but remember it will be trimmed and pressed back in place later. 

Stitch these seams at 1/2" then trim and finish this seam by serging or zig zagging. Press the seam away from the placket. Topstitch down if ya want.

Your plackets are done! I know you can hardly see them in this fabric, but check out how the neckline now looks when the plackets are overlapped. It will open up more once you put it on a 3D body.

Continue constructing the shirt per the pattern instructions, using your modified collar stand. Some other things to note:
  • If you need help sewing on the collar/stand, I have a tutorial on that here
  • If you made your shirt sleeveless and need help finishing those edges, the Colette blog has a nice post on finishing armholes with bias binding, which is how I sewed mine here (except, duh, I sewed mine in the flat, not the round).
  • The buttonhole/button situation will be a little different than your standard Archer (there's fewer of them, yay!), but just make sure you place a button at the fullest point of your bust to avoid placket gaping/bra peekaboo.

Any questions? Holler!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

chardon (m. thistle)

PATTERN THROWBACK. To ye olden days of 2013, when it seemed like we were in the midst of an indie pattern boom but were in fact only on the cusp.

Last week I was feeling nostalgic for simpler times, so I bypassed my PDF pattern collection and turned to my paper pattern stash. Remember thems? They arrive in your mailbox like a pretty little present amongst the health insurance invoices and jury duty summons. Then you unfold a large sheet of paper and all the pattern pieces are just laying there looking up at you, and you actually hold the physical instruction pages and flip them left to right like you're some kinda scholar. The last paper pattern I bought was Deer & Doe's Jupe Chardon, or Chardon Skirt, or Thistle Skirt, or however this French-to-English sewing pattern language thing works. It seemed like a fun basic garment to sew so I cracked her open.

Yuck photos.

Chardon is a simple unlined A-line skirt with in-seam pockets and stitched box pleats for shaping at the waist. I liked the no-waistband look and forgiving fit. You can add belt loops or a tie or a contrasting band but I skipped that noise this time. The skirt is finished with a waist facing and a regular zipper in the center back. 

It's a quick sew as long as you choose your waist size properly. I dunno what was wrong with me but I had the completely WRONG waist measurement in my head when I picked the size to cut, so the skirt was basically two sizes too small when I went to try it on after stitching down all those pleats. Luckily with this style, you can adjust all the pleats to size the waist up or down. Just make sure you do your math correctly when altering each pleat so you don't over- or under-compensate. And remember to cut a new facing to fit your fattened skirt. Yeah, this skirt took me far longer than it should have because I have a pea brain.

I made this in a gray striped home decor linen because I apparently enjoy dressing up like a sofa. It was easy fabric to work with and it holds the shape of the pleats nicely. It is pretty poofy, so I tapered the skirt slightly from its original A shape so I wouldn't be mistaken by Philly tourists as the Liberty Bell. Wow, stellar joke, right? If you want to see TRUE POOF, check out what swallowed me whole at work yesterday.

I serged all seams before pressing them open. The bottom of the waist facing is also serged. I'd recommend understitching the facing and tacking it down at the side seams as well so it stays put.

The navy top I'm wearing is a new Archer Shirt, another homage to 2013. Though let's be real; I'm still addicted to this pattern. I modified it by making it sleeveless, curving the front placket into a V-shape at the neck so it lays flat, and omitting the collar but leaving the stand. You can see another version of this variation on my Instagram here. I may blog about that one day because I wear it like twice a week and the fabric was a gift from Internet pen pal and fellow Grainline addict, Ash M. Higgs

I like my new outfit but this photoshoot just made me realize the dire situation of my bangs. In half my photos, my bangs are either in my eyes all Grudge girl style, or I'm in the middle of swinging them out of my eyes, which does not at all look sexy beach bombshell like I imagine in my head:

So, are any of you still trying to catch up with 2013's (or earlier) patterns or are you always ready for the next great thing?


P.S. Reminder! I'm leading a three-week workshop on Sewing Knits at Butcher's Sew Shop in south Philly on Monday nights starting June 30th. If you wanna join up, you can use coupon code 4SQUAREWALLS at checkout to get 20% off the registration fee ! ! ! ! There are a few spots left, so sign up here. Scroll down to Special Workshops.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

red ava jacket

Hi, little cuties. This is my third post since last Thursday, which surprises no one more than me. But I gotta show you this red-as-red-gets jacket. It's red enough that I could probably wear this as part of a Sarah Palin costume for Halloween, but that topical humor ship has long since sailed. Still glad I took off my glasses for these photos anyway.

This is the Ava Jacket, a new release by Bluegingerdoll Patterns, my first garment made from this independent company. FULL-UP DISCLOSURE: I was a pattern tester for the Ava jacket. I did not get paid, though I did receive a rough draft of the pattern for free. I then pored over the instructions and worked hard to determine whether the pattern came together well and if everything was clearly laid out. I made a muslin first, based directly on the original pattern and instructions, then made this red-red version based on the FINAL edited instructions she sent us, while implementing some design modifications of my own.

I'm blogging about it by choice, because 1) I have a new handmade garment to show you guys, and this blog is primarily about show-and-tell, 2) I want to help spread the word of the pattern release on behalf of a hard-working and relatively new designer I admire, and 3) I want to provide a helpful review of a new pattern on my blog so when others are deciding whether or not to buy it, I can be a reliable resource. I just want to be transparent about the pattern testing process, in case there are any doubts about my motives! (See here for more discussion.) This should be one of my last pattern test/blog tour garments for awhile, so if it annoys you at all (and I understand why it would), just know that the interbloggy promotion should be calming down for awhile.

The Ava Jacket is a fully-lined kimono-sleeved swing jacket. It features a full lining, a wide shawl collar, loose 3/4-length sleeves and turned-backed cuffs. The cuffs and collar can be made in the same or contrasting fabric.

Images via

Bluegingerdoll is known for her vintage-inspired aesthetic, which I admit isn't really my normal style. So for this wearable version, I omitted the lining, significantly reduced the width of the shawl collar, and narrowed the sleeves and cuffs (probably too much). I made it in a lightweight, drapey, poly crepey fabric so the flared back would drape gently and swish around. I was hoping for a more blazer-esque modern look with these changes.

Some things to note about this pattern. 

FIT: The jacket is easy to fit because it's built with generous ease and has kimono sleeves. I made a size 8 based on my bust and waist measurements, which seemed to work out fine. It was my fault that I narrowed these sleeves a bit too much which makes it hard to roll up the cuffs. I do find that as I'm wearing it, the shoulder seams slip backwards, so I'm often chucking the jacket forward to realign it.

CONSTRUCTION: There aren't many pieces to put together as far as jackets go, but there is a lotttttt of hand-stitching. The collar shell is hand-stitched to the facing, the cuffs are catch-stitched to the inside of the jacket, the hem is catch-stitched, and then the entire lining is hand-stitched to the jacket shell. Lordy lord lord. Believe me, I tried to get around some of it because that's not normally my thang. It may be yours, though! I machine-edgestitched the collar shell down for a clean finish, like you would normally do on a collar stand or waistband facing, for instance. You can kinda see that at the top of the photo of the jacket innards here:

I also left off the lining entirely, which was actually difficult to figure out how to do properly, since a lot of raw edges that you catch-stitched down, like on the cuffs and hem, are supposed to be covered up by a lining. I French-seamed everything and used lace tape to cover the raw edge of the hems, which I then turned up and blindstitched down by hand. I only had lace seam binding/hem tape, and it's white, and it looks terrible, so I almost plan to replace it with something red once I go notion shopping. With the dip of the swingy hem, the white hem tape is often flashed to the outside world. Ick.

With the test version, I struggled with the instructions for sewing the bottom of the front lapels; it gets confusing with all those corners of the collar shell, facing and eventually the lining. Abby did a good job working on that part and including more guidance for the final version. Still, it's a bit hard for me to wrap my head around how it's really supposed to come together. I made it work and it looks fine, but I'm not entirely sure I did it as instructed so I would like to see this demonstrated more in-depth with photos of a real garment versus the illustrations.

I like my red Ava jacket because it's unlike anything else I own. I'm a pear-shape so I often avoid jackets and tops with flared hems, but I think I like the silhouette of this one. It's a nice summer-weight garment to throw on for extra coverage or to add a knock-out punch of color to an outfit. I have a dreamy idea of an Ava in a silky floral, to keep up with the kimono jacket trend going on (right? Wut r fashun?).

The Ava was released along with the curve-hugging Betsy pencil skirt, which you'll find on many other testers' blogs. It's incredibly flattering on everyone I've seen so far and the little details -- like the button tabs on Version A -- are cute, so I'm actually tempted to splurge for the pattern even though I rarely wear pencil skirts these days! Abby of BGD carefully picked testers with different body types and with varying degrees of blog popularity, which I'm sure we can all appreciate. Check them out:

29th May – Tanya at MrsHughes (Betsy skirt)
2nd June – T at uandmii (Betsy skirt)
4th June – Mary at Idle Fancy
6th June– Tanya at MrsHughes (Ava jacket)
8th June - T at uandmii (Ava jacket)

Have you sewn a Bluegingerdoll pattern yet? What do you think of the new ones?

Monday, June 2, 2014

craftsy + butcher's + a plaid dress

There is a finished object sighting in this post, but I gotta yap about some other things before we get to that. First, a sincere thanks to all those who commented on my last post about my recent career change. Your support means everything, and I appreciate your willingness to discuss your own career goals and express your desires and/or hesitations about following a similar path. A lot of you said that you aren't "good enough" at sewing to even consider earning money from it. Believe me, you're better than you think, and you're probably better than me. It's amazing what you can do when you set the bar higher for yourself.

Craftsy Blog: Okay, time for some self-promotion. I've joined the ranks of sewing superstars Marie, Rochelle, AlidaMaris and others and am now a regular contributor to the Craftsy blog. I will be posting for the sewing category of their blog about twice a month. My first post is about knit fabrics (surprise), and tips for hemming them. Apparently I'm really into hemming stuff lately. Check it out and let me know if you have a technique to add.

Knits Workshop: omg. A friend of a friend of a friend (alright, we're all friends now) just opened a beautiful sewing studio in Queen Village of south Philly. It's called Butcher's Sew Shop, named in honor of the family-owned butcher shop that occupied the space for almost 80 years. Starting mid-June, they will be hosting intensive sewing classes, like flat patternmaking, draping, and various levels of garment construction from beginner to advanced. There are also shorter workshops and BYO stitch nights, and lil' ole me will be teaching a workshop called Sewing Knits (surprise). There will be three installments of the course on Monday evenings from 6-9pm starting June 30th. If you live in or near Philadelphia and would like to learn how to make the Deer & Doe Plantain T-Shirt, come hang out with us! To sign up, visit here and scroll down to the Special Workshops section to find "Sewing Knits". 

Alright, onward.

To round out this theme in threes, here's a dress made from a knit (surprise). Coincidence? Maybeh. I finished it surprisingly quickly so I am glad to throw it in this post with the rest of these knitty announcements.

I was afraid that sewing a dress in this colorway of plaid would be too autumnal or Christmasy or something else that would make people on the street be like "SHE CRAZY." Turns out, people on the street don't notice things like the colorway of my plaid, if you can believe it. They may think I'm a Catholic school girl, however, which is slightly more of a problem.

The pattern is McCalls 6599, the same pattern I used for a striped knit dress in 2012. I loved that dress to the point of spilling coffee all down the front of the skirt. I miss it. Playing with the direction of stripes and plaids is always fun, so this princess seam bodice and flared skirt are good foundations for that sort of thing. I cut the side pieces on the bias, though the pattern doesn't call for it. It's a pattern meant for a woven fabric, so as with the striped dress, I sized down and cut the back on the fold. All seams are serged and hems are coverstitched.

The fabric feels like a double knit and has nice body, which makes it a breeze to sew except at major seam intersections. I bought it from Jomar, a Philly discount fabric store where almost everything is $3.99/yd or less. I went on a major shopping spree there this weekend... I know, after confessing to you all how broke I am. But I set a limit of $100 and got 14 pieces of fabric, or a total of 25 yards, which I hope will keep me busy for awhile. I've already sewn three garments! See? I do still obsessively sew for myself when I have inspiration.

Anyone else sewing plaids for summer?