Holiday Party Style: It’s All in the Fabric

It may be a little ironic for a pattern company to tell you not to buy new patterns, but when you’re thinking about what to sew for that upcoming holiday party, go through your pattern stash first. I bet you already have a pattern, probably one you know and love, that will look great for the holidays. All you need to do is sew it up in a bling-y fabric.

Scroll on and see how we took some new and not-so-new Vogue Patterns and made them party-ready. Feel free to borrow our fabric choices! (Images from the latest issue of Vogue Patterns Magazine.)

Vogue Patterns V8358Take one of your sundress patterns and repurpose it for the holidays. V8358 (above) looks fabulous in a sequined knit. Try a similar fabric or even a lightweight velvet with your pattern.

Vogue Patterns V900t top paired with V8584 pantsI bet you already have at least five elastic waist patterns in your stash. Look for one with a wider leg, like we show here with V8584. Make them in sequined chiffon and pair them with a fitted top pattern. Silk shantung works well for fitted garments with crisp details, like the asymmetrical front of V9004.

Vogue Patterns V8977 topFind the cutest tunic/top pattern you own and make it again, this time from a sexy fabric like a soft flocked lamé. Pair it with slim pants or leggings. If your pattern has some back interest, like V8977, so much the better.

Vogue Patterns V8931 suit patternYour jacket and skirt patterns are perfect for holiday parties when you make them out of a luxurious brocade. A fitted jacket (like V8931) paired with a pencil skirt is super sophisticated.

So make it easy on yourself this holiday season and shop from your pattern stash first. Stick with your TNTs when possible. If you do need a new pattern, we’ve pinned lots of holiday glam pattern ideas here. Happy sewing!

Holiday Gift Sewing: Gloves

V7949 gloves Let me assure you, I’ve gifted my share of rectangular scarves and unfitted pajama pants. But I wanted to stretch myself a little bit with this year’s holiday sewing, so I flipped through the pattern stash and came up with V7949. It’s a nice basic glove pattern with lots of style options, so you can make a pair for everyone on your list (or every outfit in your closet.) The first thing you may notice on opening the pattern is that the fingers are the same length and width for all the sizes. The pattern is designed for stretch fabrics, so this may work just fine for you, but it’s also pretty easy to adjust the pattern to fit. First, check the width of the pattern by wrapping a tape measure around the widest part of your palm and comparing it to the width of the main pattern piece. how to add width to the gloves To add width, determine how much you need to add and divide that number by eight. Draw a line through the center of each finger as shown in the image above, and carefully slash and spread the pattern along each line. Avoid the thumb opening so you don’t have to change the thumb piece.  As long as you make your adjustments between the fingertip dots, you shouldn’t need to change the gussets either. This might seem labor-intensive, but it should only be necessary if you need a major adjustment (adding over an inch, or subtracting more than a half inch.) The stretch fabric allows enough leeway that most people won’t need that much, and if the gloves are too big you can take up excess width in the fingers or palm by sewing a wider seam allowance. finger length measurement Next, check for length adjustments. Place your hand flat on the pattern piece, centering your thumb over the thumb hole. If you’re making the gloves for someone else, no problem – just ask them to send you a tracing of their hand and measure against that. Check that the dots sit right in the joint between each pair of fingers, and that the fingertips are about 1/4″ (6mm) beyond yours. Remember that the stretch of the fabric will accommodate minor variations. To alter the finger lengths, first use a sharp pencil to mark the joint between each pair of fingers, which may be higher or lower than the dot on the pattern. Mark the tip of each finger, and add about 1/4″ (6mm) extra for ease and seam allowance. Redraw the curve of each fingertip at the appropriate length and duplicate all the markings. (It’s helpful to make your alterations on a traced copy of the pattern, so you can place it on top of the original to get the markings in the right place.) Duplicate all your alterations for the back of the hand. The back and front finger lengths may be slightly different, but you don’t need to worry about that – just move each fingertip and dot by the amount corresponding to your first set of alterations. Once the main pattern piece has been altered you need to alter the finger gussets to match. Each of these pieces is marked with a letter that corresponds to a pair of fingers on the main piece. You’ll need to alter each side of each finger separately. gusset-measure Line the pinky of your altered pattern up with the pinky of the original piece, and measure between the dots. Cut straight across the short end of gusset F and spread or overlap it by this same distance. Next, align the ring fingers of the pieces and compare the dots on each side. Transfer the measurement for the pinky side to the long end of gusset F, and the other side to the short end of gusset E. The middle finger corresponds to the long sides of gussets E and D, and the pointer finger to the short side of gusset D. Once all your gussets are altered you should be ready to proceed. When choosing fabric for your gloves, remember that you’ll be working with very small (1/8″ or 3mm) seam allowances. You need something with a bit of stretch (check the stretch gauge on the envelope), but you’ll make your life a lot easier if you choose a stable fabric that doesn’t ravel. In addition to the fabrics listed on the envelope, ponte knits, lightweight fleece, and heavyweight jersey are good choices. I made my gloves from a recycled T-shirt for a comfy, rustic look. If you’re adding embellishment, it’s easiest to do while the gloves are still flat. Follow the pattern directions to reinforce the fingers, but don’t slash the fingers apart just yet. I skipped ahead a little and inserted the thumbs, but you can do them in either order. placing the applique embellishments For the decoration, I was inspired by damask patterns and the Alabama Chanin style of hand embellishment. I experimented with few different styles, but quickly settled on this tone-on-tone appliqué with variegated cotton thread for a little extra interest. If you choose a contrast fabric for applique, make sure that it has a similar amount of stretch to the base fabric. I drew my motifs freehand on a piece of paper, then used wax tracing paper to transfer them to the back side of my fabric and cut them out. I chose different designs for the left and right gloves, and continually assessed and revised the arrangement throughout the stitching process to achieve my desired look. Be creative and play with the design; add beads and embroidery if you’re so inclined. Just make sure to keep your embellishments out of the seam allowances. IMG_2702 Once you’re happy with the embellishment, it’s time to cut the fingers apart and sew them up. Here you can just follow the pattern directions to stitch each fingertip between the dots, sew the gusset darts, then insert the gussets. This is pretty straightforward as long as you pay attention to which gusset goes with which finger, and match up the top and bottom edges of the gusset correctly. Baste first if it helps you. The trickiest bit is right around the point of the gusset dart, so you might find it easier to sew the rest of the way around and finish the last half inch or so by hand. finger gusset basted in place Don’t be intimidated by the tiny seam allowances. Shorten your stitch – I had good luck with a 2mm length – and take your time. To prevent your fabric from being dragged down into the bobbin area, make sure you’re using a sharp, new needle of the appropriate size and type for your fabric. If you have a straight stitch plate for your machine this is a great time to use it; otherwise try stitching on top of a piece of tissue if you have problems. You may want to use a clear foot so you can see where you’re going, and a stiletto or tweezers will be useful for precisely manipulating your fabric. Instead of backtacking at the beginning and end, take a few stitches in place or leave long thread tails to tie in a knot. pickstitching on the thumb For an additional decorative touch, I hand topstitched all the seams with a pick stitch in the same variegated thread I used for the applique. This is a nice way to neaten up the insides of these unlined gloves, and it helps to refine the shape of the fingers for a more elegant look. If you find it tricky to get into the fingertips with your stitching, try inserting a chunky marker as a backstop to prevent your needle from catching the layer underneath. Just make sure the cap is secure to avoid tragedy. I followed the pattern directions to make and attach the cuffs. There’s a little piece of elastic at the inner wrist to cinch it in a bit; I didn’t want this stitching to show so I zigzagged the elastic to the seam allowance only. I found it a little tricky to stitch the inside cuff closed around the elastic section, so I stretched it around a seam roll to hold it taut while I hand stitched. And that’s it! I’m already planning my next pair. V7949 gloves V7949 gloves flat Have you ever made gloves? We’d love to see what you’ve done!

Editor’s note: Another glove pattern option is V8311. If making and giving gloves isn’t your thing this year, we’ve pinned a whole bunch of holiday DIY pattern options here. —Meg

Holiday Gift Sewing: Make a Vest

black vest sewing inspiration. The McCall Patten Company

My colleagues and I are in full-on holiday sewing mode. Time to make gifts for friends and loved ones! We’ve pinned here a whole bunch of gift-related patterns to sew, just in case you need some inspiration.

Speaking of inspiration, my first completed gift this season was inspired by some leftover black wool alpaca I had in my stash (by Alexander Wang, no less!) and RTW vests like the ones shown above. I wanted a boxy shape that didn’t require me to do much fitting, if any, on the recipient. So no darts or princess seams. Just a zip front and a satin lining. Fast and easy.

Black alpaca zip-front vest made by Meg Carter of the McCall Pattern Company.

That’s my finished vest, above, as modeled by my coworker Karen. She’s a little taller than the future wearer of this vest is, but you get the general idea of how my vest wears. Boxy and loose.

For a pattern I actually used a ’90s McCall’s quilted vest pattern that I bought on Etsy a few years ago. You can sew the look, however, using K3731, B5927 (omit sleeves), or B5359. As I mentioned, I lined this vest with a medium-weight black satin crepe from my stash. I was able to attach the lining to the vest completely by machine as the stitches are hidden by the furriness of this particular alpaca. Besides alpaca, I recommend making a vest like this from faux fur, pre-quilted fabrics, or wool felt.

What gifts are you sewing this year? I’ve got three aprons, a poncho, a nightgown and two makeup bags on my to-sew list before December 25th. My colleague Gillian is making gloves, and she’ll be blogging about that here soon. (Have you ever made gloves? Me neither, but apparently people do, because our glove patterns sell well.) Keep watching this blog for details about what we’re sewing for the holidays, and remember to check this Pinterest board for easy-sew gift ideas. And have a happy Thanksgiving!