Announcing the 2017 Spring Sew-Along

McCall Pattern Company Spring 2017 Sew-Along

It’s sew-along time! Each spring for our sew-alongs we choose a pattern or style that’s a little more beginner-friendly, preferring to tackle the harder stuff in the fall. The past two springs we’ve done dresses—a wrap dress and a shirtdress. It’s about time we thought about sewing pants, right?! Joining us on this sew-along as co-host is the fabulous Amanda of Amanda’s Adventures in Sewing.

M7547_aThe main pattern we chose for this sew-along is McCall’s M7547. We like that it has four view options: overalls, short overalls, flare pants, and slim pants. You can choose to sew any of these. The pants:

  • have a side zipper (the “fly” you see in the illustrations is just decorative stitching)
  • are fitted through the hips and upper thigh
  • have a slim leg in View B
  • have a flare leg in View A
  • are high-waisted with the waistband sitting at the true waist

This is a really great pattern for those of you who are new to sewing, or who want to try pants for the first time or again. High-waisted pants are really on trend right now, and next week we’ll be sharing lots of style inspiration and fabric ideas. Plus, making a side-zip pant is an easy gateway to sewing zip-front pants, and you can apply this same knowledge to future side-zip skirts you might make.

Sew-Along schedule for blog posts:

Week of 3/3:  Announce sew-along

Week of 3/10:  Style inspiration; suitable fabrics

Week of 3/17: Making a muslin to assess fit

Week of 3/24: Pockets (steps 1-13)

Week of 3/31: Seams and zipper (steps 14-24)

Week of 4/7: Waistband and overalls bib (steps 29-61)

Week of 4/14:  Finishing (steps 62-66)

Week of 4/21: Big reveal

Our sew-alongs are always go-at-your-own pace. Some of you will finish way ahead of this schedule, and some of won’t finish for months. No worries! Whatever works for your schedule. We will leave the sew-along blog posts up indefinitely. We’ll also create a sew-along Facebook group where we can share our progress with each other (coming soon).

Personally, I’m really excited about this sew-along. I’m desperate for new pants that aren’t black trousers. Amanda is going to make View D, the overalls, and I’m going to make View A, but more of a cropped flare, kind of like these pants:

Giambattista Valli pants, available at Net-a-Porter
Giambattista Valli pants, available at Net-a-Porter

We really hope you’ll be joining us for this sew-along! You don’t need to sign up anywhere or make any kind of public pledge: just sew along at home and join the Facebook group, if you’d like. It’s a very chill kind of thing!

 

Sewing La La Land: Dreamy Dresses, Sewing Tips

La La Land costume
La La Land sketch by Mary Zophres; photo from Lionsgate. (via Hollywood Reporter)

Have you seen the movie La La Land yet? In the movie Emma Stone wears a series of “retro realistic” dresses that look like you could buy them off the rack at Bloomingdale’s. (A deliberate choice, according to costume designer Mary Zophres.) But at the same time, the dresses are memorable—you find yourself thinking about the colors and the way they float as Emma dances in them.

You won’t be able to find these La La Land dresses in stores, but you can make very similar versions yourself! In today’s blog post we pair Emma’s dresses with possible patterns, and give you some sewing tips from Marcy Tilton for working with lightweight fabrics such as chiffon and georgette. Read on!

Blue dress from La La Land: Sew the look with McCall's M7281

To make your version of this party dress, here made up in a brilliant blue, use McCall’s M7281. For the bodice and skirt lining, where you need a more stable fabric, use crepe or a lightweight satin with a soft drape. For the overbodice and skirt use a floaty chiffon that will accentuate your very best dance moves.

La La Land green dress: Sew the look with Butterick B6380

With its sweetheart neckline this emerald green, date-night dress has a slightly retro feel to it. Butterick’s B6380 by Gertie is a pretty good match, especially if you convert the sleeves to a cap or flutter sleeve. Go for lightweight crepe de chines that puddle into soft folds.

La La Land yellow dress: Sew the look with McCall's M7500

This is the yellow dress you’ve probably seen in images for the movie; it’s when Emma and Ryan first dance together. McCall’s pattern (M7500) has the basic shape of the yellow dress, with the square neckline and full skirt. We’d use the tucked bodice from View D, and we’d alter the sleeves from View C or D so they’re cap sleeves. For fabrics, try a silk crepe or georgette with a delicate floral print.

Ready to sew your own La La Land dress? Here are some tips from Marcy Tilton, Vogue Patterns designer and sewing expert, on working with tricky fabrics like chiffon and georgette:Vogue Patterns designer Marcy Tilton

  • Cut sheer fabrics such as crepe and georgette using a smooth paper:
    • Lay down a layer of paper* on the cutting table, and trim the ends so they are straight (at right angles to the opposite edge). This assures that you can line up the grain of the fabric with the edges of the paper.  
    • Tear or pull a thread on the cross grain of your fabric at either cut edge to assure the grain is straight. This is key.
    • Place the fabric on top of the paper, smoothing so the grain is straight. Align the selvedge and cut edges with the paper. This assures that the grain is straight on the pattern pieces.
    • Pin the pattern through all layers and cut through all layers. The bottom paper layer keeps the soft fabric from shifting as you cut and allows you to move and mark the pieces without distorting. 
  • Buy at least a quarter yard extra to allow for shrinkage and so you have extra to test with. 
  • Test fabric scraps for needle size and stitch length. 
    • Use a small (#10/11) sharp needle, fine polyester or silk thread and short stitch length (2.0-1.5 mm).
  • Pre-treat fabric by dipping in lukewarm water and air drying. Roll in a clean towel to remove excess water. Do not put in the dryer. Steam press after pre-shrinking.
  • After sewing, hand launder and air dry. Crepe weave fabrics are created with highly twisted yarns that will shrink, sometimes just with steam, so pre-treating is essential even if you plan to dry clean. In that case, give the yardage a good steam press before cutting. 
  • Use French seams whenever possible, making them as narrow as possible. 
  • If you are going to use a serger you will have to test stitch width, length and thread weight. You want something that is thin, light and nearly invisible. 
  • Cut with a rotary cutter or scissors (in this case override the ‘rule’ about cutting paper with your special fabric tools.)
  • Mark with tailor tacks, or fine dots using a dressmaker pencil.
  • If the fabric looks the same on both sides, mark the wrong sides with stick-on label dots.
  • Plot the order of construction carefully. Leave the fabric pinned flat on the table until you are ready to sew them. Hanging/moving can sometimes cause stretching or distorting.
  • Stay-stitch front and back neck edges first thing.

* Suitable smooth papers are: surgical exam table paper, brown kraft paper or tracing paper.

Finished: Butterick B6421 Brocade Jacket

Butterick B6421 brocade jacket as made by Meg Carter of McCall Pattern Company
Etro coats. Coats 1,3 and 5 are from NeimanMarcus.com; coats 2 and 4 are from Etro.

One of my favorite designers is the Italian brand Etro, which is known for its coats and jackets in beautiful brocade and jacquard prints. There are some consignment shops on the Upper East Side that I haunt regularly looking for an Etro score. In the meantime, I made an Etro tribute coat!

My sewing journey started with two brocades in my stash that I didn’t realize worked well together until Carlos, Vogue Patterns designer, pointed out the obvious to me. One was a black brocade with gold metallic polka dots; the other was a black mini-floral brocade. They are so perfect together: Butterick B6421 brocade jacket as made by Meg Carter of McCall Pattern Company

Then Carlos came to the rescue again, suggesting Butterick B6421 for this Etro-like coat I had in mind. I had completely overlooked this pattern, but once you look at the line drawing you can see it’s the way to go if you want to combine two different fabrics:
Butterick B6421 brocade jacket as made by Meg Carter of McCall Pattern Company

This jacket went together quickly. The only alterations I made were to narrow the A-line shape a bit at the lower side seams, and to lengthen the bottom panel so I could wear this more as a coat. (I’m also 5’8″ so I tend to have to lengthen patterns.)

Butterick B6421 brocade jacket as made by Meg Carter of McCall Pattern Company

For an Etro-like touch, I stitched some grosgrain ribbon atop the horizontal seams.
Butterick B6421 brocade jacket as made by Meg Carter of McCall Pattern Company

The inside is lined with China silk. I edged the facing with black satin piping I made.
Butterick B6421 brocade jacket as made by Meg Carter of McCall Pattern Company

I’m really pleased with my Etro/Carlos coat. I like the fact that I can wear it fall through spring, and that you can dress it up or down. This is a great pattern for using up small pieces of fabric in your stash. You could even try mixing up to four different fabrics—just make sure they’re all of similar weight.

Next up: Honestly, I don’t know what I want to make next. January and February are months where I’m never sure if I want to stick with sewing for winter, or just give up and move on to spring sewing. What are you working on?