Monday, August 21, 2017

Sewing wardrobe staples... the Tessuti Kate Top x 3... Summer of Basics

It is interesting how my sewing has changed over time. Only a few years ago, most of my sewing was pieces for special occasions and fancy showstopper wardrobe pieces. I still have and love most of these pieces. For example, my Missoni Sweater Coat, Striped Lisbon Cardigan and Asymmetric Wool Blazer get pulled out a few times each season. However, one can't wear these items too often, they're just too distinctive.

I haven't always thought it was worth my time to spend a lot of effort on basics, but the act of making beautiful basics has grown on me lately. There is a certain pleasure to making and wearing a simple, beautiful pieces that fit well and are made with quality materials with thoughtful details.

I find it harder to blog these quiet makes that I wear everyday. It seems much more exciting to post something eye-catching, made with a complex pattern and and exotic print. But I enjoy reading other people's posts on basics, so I should really be better about it. I've enjoyed reading the Summer of Basics posts by Fringe Association and their partners, and all of the other bloggers and instagrammers who have joined in to #summerofbasics . I think it is a much needed acknowledgement that simple, lovely basics are just as worthy of notice as the other creative projects we engage in. Perhaps more important!

On that note, my next few posts will be devoted to showing some of the wardrobe basics I've been sewing up this summer.

There are lots of woven tank patterns to choose from, but the one I've latched onto is the Tessuti Kate. I have a definite soft spot for Tessuti patterns. I love how they almost assume you are going to sew them up in linen or something similar, and in this day and age, I feel like a hand-drawn pattern is gutsy and cool. I've talked about the pattern quite a bit in this post, so I'll leave out the gritty details.



I made these three Kates in June, and they have been in heavy rotation ever since. The are all in linen from Emmaonesock, and the floral and denim were discounted roll-ends. The floral one doesn't get worn as much, it is almost too pretty for daily wear in my current rather minimal aesthetic, but the striped linen and the denim-y linen are what I've been living in.


I've modified the Kate slightly. I always make the view with the higher neckline, I just prefer this look right now. I skip the back closure-- while it is lovely, I don't need it, and if I have a button there, it just gets tangled up in my hair. I always add about an inch of length. The striped and the floral tops have been made more "swing-y" by grading out a size from under the arm to the hem, while the denim-y linen one keeps the original boxy shape. I really like the look of this silhouette but on certain days this just feels a bit too close on my belly.

The mitered side vent is a lovely detail on the Kate, and I love having this as an option, but I frequently improvise other hems. On the floral one, I cut the hem totally straight and did a narrow hem (to conserve fabric!). The striped one keeps the vent and mitered corners.


The denim-y one has a hi-lo hem, which was sort of an accident. I lengthened the top by two inches instead of one, which for some reason I thought would be a good idea, but after wearing it I realized that it was hitting my body at an awkward place. So I belatedly hemmed the front up higher than the back. 


The roll end that I made the floral linen top out of was not quite a yard. I probably should have passed on this, since I knew the pieces wouldn't fit, but it was such a lovely print that I wouldn't have bought if it wasn't on sale. To make it work, I ended up cutting a strip off-grain and adding it to the center back. 

I'm wearing the striped linen Kate right now! Dear readers, what are your favorite tops for summer? Do you have a TNT pattern or a favorite store-bought option?

Monday, August 7, 2017

Jumping on the shirt dress bandwagon! Kalle Shirt Dress by Closet Case Patterns, a Pattern Review

Heather from Closet Case Files has done it again. She manages to look effortless and put together, then produce patterns so that the rest of us can aspire to such easy coolness. And somehow it works, at least for me. 


This is, of course the Kalle Shirt Dress from Closet Case Patterns.

It all started with those pics of Heather in her self-drafted white shirt dress in Barcelona. I don't know if it was the early morning light or just Heather herself, but she just looked stunning.

Then, Closet Case Patterns released the Kalle shirt dress pattern. Initially, I was skeptical... there isn't a single shapeless dress in my closet, I tend toward body-skimming sheaths and dresses that are fitted over the bust. That is, if I wear dresses at all... with my post-baby body I've tended to prefer pants and top combos that provide support and definition. I also worried that the curvy hem would show a bit too much leg for my taste.



However, summer got hot and the thought of a breezy relaxed fit linen dress got really tempting. Also, I've had a bit more time to workout this summer so my belly isn't as annoyingly prominent. All of this added up to the Kalle jumping to the front of the sewing queue right before our annual summer vacation.

I used my favorite mid-weight linen from Fabrics-store.com in Vineyard Green. I am totally crushing on this color right now. This could also be partially Heather's fault... this color is quite close to one of Heather's samples, although I swear I started loving this color before the Kalle even came out. I've never really been a fan of green before, but now I can't get enough of earthy greens-- a touch spring-y or olive-y or army-y. There are several more items in my sewing queue that are these colors, I think it is my new neutral.

I sewed it almost exactly as written. The only alteration I made was to shorten by 2 inches because I'm 5'4" and the pattern is drafted for a 5'6" woman.

The directions were, as usual, spot on, and the sew-along posts for the placket and the yoke were brilliant. I have actually sewed yokes and plackets before so I'm not a total newbie, but I enjoyed being led through the process and I think even a beginner could figure it out with the help of the sew-along.



The three methods of making collar points were totally interesting to read about. I tried the thread-pull method of making collar points and it worked a charm.

I tested a few different interfacings on scraps of my fabric, and decided to go with my usual favorite, Fashion Sewing Supply's Pro-sheer Elegance Medium. I have some genuine shirt interfacing that I was itching to use, but this was too stiff for a relaxed linen shirt.


To add a bit of fun, I did the under collar and inner yoke in an Alexander Henry quilting cotton that I had in my stash. Oddly enough, it is the same fabric I used on my Ginger Jeans. The label one of my new self-made inkjet printed labels (heat set pigment ink) on cotton twill.

My Janome gave its usual lackluster performance on the buttonholes. That is to say, they went perfectly except when they did not. For no conceivable reason, the Janome 8077 sometimes decides to stop after sewing 2/8 of an inch of the buttonhole. If it is going to stop, it always stops at this point. It will not restart, and trying to sew over the existing stitches has only resulted in a bigger mess. I have to stop, unpick the stitches, and start over, and it usually does just fine the second time around. The only time I don't have a problem is if the fabric is a totally smooth weave like a twill or a quilting cotton. Apparently a nicely ironed linen did not trick the machine into buttonhole perfection. This time I had to unpick three false starts-- annoying. I really don't understand why my machine is so darn fussy.



The top buttonhole was a bit of a trick... I ended up using a scrap of heavy interfacing just laid under the offending area, then just tearing it out of the seam when I was done. I really need to get some of the dissolving stabilizer, it would be easier to remove.

I used buttons harnessed from a repurposed men's shirt, plastic but nice quality.

The pocket went wonky the first time around, so I cut another and interfaced just the top of it. It went in much neater this way, and hopefully won't get saggy.

I added side seam pockets. The dress definitely had cleaner lines without pockets, but I really like having somewhere to put my hands (and my phone). I just borrowed the pocket from another pattern that was handy-- it just happens to be the Suki Kimono by Helen's Closet.



Love the curved hem. I slightly stretched the bias tape as I applied it, a trick I learned from sewing Tessuti patterns, which often use bias finish.

This was the perfect dress for a beach vacation. I wore it on outings to town, as well as on the beach. I'm planning on wearing it well into the fall, with leggings and a cardigan. The linen does wrinkle quite a bit, but for beach wear it just added to the casual vibe, and we'll just have to see how I feel about it at work.

I love it so much that I have more versions planned... I'm planning another Kalle dress in black bamboo twill, which I think will give it a lovely drape, and possibly the tunic version in white linen.









The bathing suit is new also, Jalie 3350, I might blog it in a future post. Styled with Born shoes (old), Missoni sunglasses, and Mac Half and Half lipstick.