Kalle Ponte Crop Top

Kalle Ponte Crop Top

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Way back in February, my husband and I went to Las Vegas. Working in a hospital, I wear scrubs five days out of the week, and pajamas the other two. So, despite avidly sewing for myself, I don’t have a very robust closet anymore (thanks weight gain!) and went into panic mode to try and make some things to wear in the southwest. My friend gave me this lovely maxi skirt to wear there, and I had no tops to go with it. So naturally, I dug in my scrap pile and found just enough of this polka-dot ponte to whip together a Kalle crop top. And of course, to make it more complicated, I decided to alter it to be a popover rather than a full button placket!

 

I barely scraped by with enough fabric on this bad boy. I skipped the collar and made it a band collar, though I have to say, I love a good band collar. The hem facings and inner yoke are cut from black quilting cotton, and the sleeves, collar, and front button band are another black ponte I had laying around. My machine had a little trouble chugging through the thick layers of ponte, but a couple needle changes later it worked out.

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I love the overall fit of this top, which I expected since I love the Kalle shirtdress. However, I will definitely lengthen the top in my next make! The front length is nearly indecent on me, the top of this crop comes just above my high waisted jeans. Lengthening it by about 2 inches would be the perfect length, so I’ll be doing that in future makes. It takes so little fabric to whip together, I will probably be making this up frequently to use up my scraps!

It’s a shame it feels so short on me because I really do love the overall look of this shirt. It’s kind of bad ass, and makes me feel simultaneously comfortable and confident. Come summer and spring, I’ll try to pair it with more high waisted skirts and shorts to make it work.

 

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My First Archer, in Denim!

My First Archer, in Denim!

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I’ve had this pattern for a real long time, but I had bought it was a PDF and struggled to find a print shop in Des Moines that would print it off inexpensively for me! After calling about 6 different print shops, I found that Beeline and Blue was my best bet around here. Not sponsored or anything, just an FYI from my own personal struggles and research!

After seeing a million bloggers be over the moon about their Archers, I finally found the time to whip together my own. This one is made of a super lightweight denim from Fabric.com (can’t find the link for this anymore, sorry!) and has only been shorted by 1 in along the bodice and sleeves. I love the burrito method of finishing the yoke, and the easy to follow sew along helped take care of any worries I had if I was doing something wrong. I finished the button band with pearlized snaps, and I absolutely love them. There’s nothing as satisfying as hulking out of a shirt at the end of a day.

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At first, I thought this shirt was way too big on me and felt unflattering. But I was reaching for it more and more in my closet. Turns out, I adore it! The only changes I’ll make in the future are to narrow the sleeves and cuffs. Even with the pleats, they feel quite large. I’ll be grading them to be 2 sizes narrower at the wrists, which is apparently a common alteration because I’ve seen this same problem on many on other blogs. I also don’t know if the chest pocket is necessary for all make ups. It is conveniently sized to hold my phone perfectly, but doesn’t add a whole lot to the look of the shirt!

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Since I’ve been so slow to post this (it’s been months), this shirt has seen the trials of wear. I’ve noticed some fraying at the bottom of the button band, because my stitching didn’t quite hit the right spot. This is entirely my mistake, I trimmed that seam allowance when I really shouldn’t have. In my next make of this, I’m not trimming the button band seam allowance at all and will also be reinforcing it with iron on hem tape to ensure that my top stitching is clean and catches all the allowances my first run through.

All things considered, I’ve had to make some fit alterations. But the overall proportions of the collar size are great. I currently have another Archer cut out and ready to sew on my sewing table, so I can’t wait to see how my other alterations change it up!

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Birb Button Up – Vogue 8772

Birb Button Up – Vogue 8772

 

Don’t worry, my commitment to building my basics in my closet will soon shift away from button up blouses. But look at how nice they’ve been turning out! The more I sew them, the more I learn to enjoy each and every piece. The familiar motions were perfect for getting me through the home stretch of MLS school. Easy to conquer (unlike a lot of my exams), and satisfying at the end.

I’m yet again testing out another pattern for the fit of the bodice, this time it’s Vogue 8772. The pattern has a nice array of options, including a tie neck collar and different sleeve lengths. Due to fabric constraints, I went with a sleeveless collared version altered to have the shorter length of the normal blouse. This is a wearable muslin for me, made up of a discounted cotton fabric from Fabric.com.

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Overall, I’m happy with the out of envelope fit. I needed to add about a half inch to each side around the hips, but that’s an easy fix that I did by grading the width below the waist! Due to the stiffness of the fabric, I noticed some bunching in the sway of my back and may make an adjustment for that in the future if I choose to make this up again.

I finished the armholes and curved hem with bias tape made from the fabric scraps. I love this technique for the curved hem, as there’s no fiddling with easing the curves and it leaves such a clean finish. It’s smooth and effective!

Another detail that I like about this pattern are the little darts on the top of the shoulder blades. They lend a little shape and construction interest to the back of the garment since there’s no yoke.

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I find this pattern will be good for lightweight, draping fabrics and for when I want a flowing blouse. I won’t be again making it up in a more traditional, stiffer shirting cotton as the darts and lack of yoke better lend themselves to lightweight fabrics. This would be a great pattern to make up a rayon blouse with a long, flowing neck tie! Maybe that’s in the future for me now?

Men’s Shirts Conquered – Linen

Men’s Shirts Conquered – Linen

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I had a friend tell me that whenever she asks me what I’m working on, it always seems to be a new shirt for Ian. It’s simple really, my love for shirt making runs deep. And after finding how well this pattern works, I am filled with determination to make him a closet full of things he will love. Vogue 9220 fits Ian like a glove, and all the fine shirt-making details make it relaxing to sew. Combined with my love of this linen, which presses beautifully and allows for precise sewing, this was a lovely shirt to sew up!

 

My alterations have continued, and I’ve found my ideal dimensions for the box pleat in the back. When cutting the back on the fold, I move the top of the pattern piece over 1 inch, but allow the hem to line up at the normal point. I mark the center of the fabric for both the yoke and the back, and when attaching the yoke I add a box pleat with 1/2 inch folds on each side. By expanding only the top of the pattern piece, it adds room for shoulder movement without adding too much to the hips and maintains that RTW look I’ve been after.

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One of the construction details that gives me joy is flat felling. I take the cheaters route to flat fell by serging the seams together, ironing down, and top stitching. It adds stability and the beautiful flat felled appearance, but greatly reduces the amount of time spent with an iron. And lets be honest, I’m happy to take a short cut to reduce my quality time slaving at an ironing board.

I think this is going to be the last of Ian’s shirts for a while. I’ve made about 4 in the past few months, it’s time to move on to new projects! That is, until I find a fantastic fabric that would suit Ian and I can’t resist.

 

Bonus pictures of our helpers that interrupted while we took photos!

Conquering Men’s Shirts – Vogue 9220

Conquering Men’s Shirts – Vogue 9220

I’ve had a mad hankering to sew up some clothes that require detailed work, like sleeve plackets and collars. My husband was willing to let me fiddle with numerous long sleeved shirt patterns and use him as a mannequin, for the greater good of well made men’s shirts.

Luckily, right when I was looking into sewing men’s shirts, Vogue released a new line with Vogue 9220. It includes 3 different button up variations, including a slim fit (version C). I initially made up version C as a working muslin, but didn’t like how it fit on him. So it went into the WIP bucket, and I started on version A in a nice, scarecrow-looking flannel I picked up at S.R. Harris in Minneapolis.

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Don’t mind his squinty eyes or crazy hair, it was a windy day!

This version sewed up with ease, and I was proud of my pattern matching and placket construction. And, it fits him wonderful! He’s on the short side, so I shortened the sleeves and torso by 2 inches and that corrected the length issue I saw from the version A muslin. I also added 1.5 inches to the back of the shirt, so that I could do the center box pleat and make it look more RTW. I enjoy the small details in this shirt, like the triangles that insert between the curved hem, and the two sets of buttons on the cuffs.

I followed the directions and did fully flat-felled seams throughout the garment, but in the future will likely just serge the seams together and sew them down, as a pseudo-flat-felling finish. When flat-felling the whole garment, intersection of seams under the armpit becomes bulky and difficult to evenly stitch through. To manage this, I used a Jean-a-ma-jig to evenly feed the fabric through and it worked like a charm! Definitely an improvement from my jagged, skipped stitches when I previously had tried to force it through the machine.

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I’m very happy with this shirt, and so is Ian. It’s in his regular button up rotation now, has been asking me to make more in various novelty fabrics (he really wants a Cthulhu shirt), which I plan on! There’s something therapeutic about diving into a detailed pattern and having all the hard work pay off in the end, by having a well-made garment that will last longer than most RTW.