Becoming a Cynthia Rowley fangirl with S1366

Simplicity 1366 outfitI was just in your face a week ago telling you how I loved my last dress, a Cynthia Rowley for Simplicity pattern, and here I am again with the same boring story! This time it is Simplicity 1366, which everyone else in the universe has tried and loved, so now it is my turn, damn it!

Simplicity 1366 camiThe pattern consists of a crazy skirt (would be fun to wear for an event, but not IRL so much), a spaghetti strapped bias camisole, and a perfectly cut boatneck boxy top. I dove in full throttle and made both the cami and the top, so this post is a two-fer.

Simplicity 1366 crepeFirst, the camisole is a really great basic pattern that could and should be made in every luxurious fabric you can get your hands on. My mystery fabric is some kind of crepe that flows and hugs in the most delightful way!  The bias cut just makes the fit suburb.

Simplicity 1366 rolled hemI made skinny straps that I left round like spaghetti, and finished the top edge with self binding instead of the enclosed facing pieces. The facing would probably be quicker and easier, but I only had like 3/4 yard of this lovely fabric and bias garments eat fabric like crazy. My binding was very pieced together, but I made it work. For the bottom I just used the rolled hem on my serger. A word of warning – hang the top up on your dressform over night before hemming because it did distort, even just that tiny bit of fabric!

Simplicity 1366 top with shortsThen I moved onto the top. Another mysterious piece of crepey chiffon (sorry, I thrift shop and shop the LA fashion district and nothing is marked) but this one is much sheerer. It was also quite a bit harder to sew, but I still managed to do french seams on this sides. I had to just serge the armholes, though, because after going over the side seams twice while doing those french seams and feeling the shifty dance under my sewing foot, I knew I could not set a smooth sleeve if I tried to use french seams.

Simplicity 1366 backThen, when I tried it on, I saw that the fabric had shifted quite badly in one spot while I cut it and I had to even the hem out by nearly an inch. That almost made the top too short for long torsoed me, so I preserved length by serging and flipping the bottom hem. The neckline I finished with vintage pre-made bias binding. The leftovers from my last dress, actually.

Simplicity 1366 topNot much of a story to tell, except I love this pattern and Cynthia and I must rush out and get ever one she’s ever made and sew them up immediately! There is a reason this pattern is so popular, I can assure you!

Simplicity 1366 1Quick points:

  • Bias cut camisole results in a such a beautiful fit that hugs and skims.
  • The top is deceptively simple but so well cut. I didn’t bother reading the instructions, I just finished it the way I felt was best for the fabric.
  • Here are some of my favorite iterations of this great pattern: Pippi, Elizabeth, and Lara’s sweater version.

Cynthia Rowley has my heart with Simplicity 1939

Simplicity 1939 dress chiffonYou never know what you are going to get when thrift shopping, especially for patterns. Actually, mostly you do know what you are going to get…80’s big shouldered dresses, or some shapeless “Easy” frocks. But 1 lucky day I unearthed this OOP Simplicity 1939 dress for 69 cents. Yes!

Navy chiffon border print dressWhen I paired it with this beautiful border print heavy chiffon, I knew I was making things difficult for myself. I only had 2 yards because I had bought it like 3 or 4 years ago at the Sew Expo in WA at the Vogue fabrics booth. I couldn’t have known at that time that this pattern was going to fall into my lap!

S1939 dress with tiesI cut my pattern pieces out and played tetris on the fabric. If I eliminated the armhole bands, took width out of the skirt, and cut the ties down the left overs, I had just enough. And I mean just.

Simplicity 1939 sew in chiffonWhat I did was redrafted the front and back pattern pieces to add the width of the finished armhole bands onto those pieces. It only made those pattern pieces a little wider, but eliminated some big fabric hogs that were those bands. It simplified the sewing process a bit, too. I ended up finishing my armholes with navy vintage bias tape I also found thrifting!

S1939 chiffon dress sewFor the ties around the neck, I just used the scrap I had left. I was glad I got a bit of the border at one end to make it more interesting up near my face. I could only cut 1 tie that I doubled over and used to finish the neckline.

S1939 dress in navy chiffonI had to line up the hem of the skirt with the border, and I didn’t want to cut any of the lovely moss green color off, so I just made a very narrow hem by folding over my selvedge and stitching it. I also wanted to preserve the length, because I’m kind of a tall girl and nothing is worse than a too short maxi dress!

Cynthia Rowley pattern 1939 For the innards, I interfaced the waist yoke and inserted an invisible zipper. I have no idea if that was in the instructions or not, but it seemed necessary, so it probably was. When I tried it on, the yoke seemed a little large, so I added elastic into the top seam to keep it from slipping down.

Cynthia Rowley Simplicity pattern dress 1939This is my favorite dress ever. I will wear this dress every week this summer and feel like a million dollars in it. Look at the drape of those shoulders! The cute tie! And in my favorite colors ever! Cynthia Rowley, you design a mean dress.

I entered this dress, and 5 other garments, in to the Endless Combinations contest at Pattern Review. You should go check out all the lovely things the ladies made and go vote for your favorite,

Quick bullets:

  • Interior engineering of interfacing, invisible zipper and elastic in the yoke.
  • Had to change the pattern quite a bit to fit on 2 yards of fabric, but I succeeded!
  • Surprisingly lovely pattern! I might try the raglan sleeve version. Cynthia Rowley does good work.



Dressy Nantucket Shorts

Summer Sewing blog tourMy new climate pretty much demands shorts during the summer. I’m not much of a shorts girl, though. So I’m trying some new styles and trying to figure out a way to incorporate them into my wardrobe. I want my shorts to look a little more put together, but still be comfortable in the heat. They must go with my fancy shoes!

Seamwork Nantucket ShortsFor the shorts and capris blog tour I tried out the Nantucket shorts from Seamwork Magazine. Without the grommets and drawstring, it is a very simple and quick pattern with nice lines.

Seamwork Nantucket shorts grayTo make them dressier I picked out this smooth gray mystery fabric from my stash. It has nice drape but is still substantial enough to cover my bum. I think this pattern looks best in a less structured fabric, so they hang nicely.

Colette Seamwork patterns nantucketI made the size recommended by my hip measurement, and I find the fit to be roomy around my hips – I will go down a size next time. My serious concern about the sizing is the very low rise and the very short back curve. I don’t have much back there, but if you do, these shorts won’t cover all of it. My suggested alterations are to raise the front rise an inch or so and the back rise an inch and a half to 2 inches. I might scoop the back curve out a tiny bit more, also.

seamwork nantucket sorts dressyThe tulip shape in the front is a cute detail, but again, fabric choice matters so much. If this was made in a more casual fabric, that tulip shape can make it look pretty sporty. In fact, you could wrap your front hem and back hem in bias tape and they would look very sporty indeed. It would be a totally different look!

seamwork patterns nantucket shortsI made a simple elastic casing for this pair, but there are lots of options for different ways to finish the waistband that could elevate the look. I knew this was just a first draft so I didn’t get too fancy.

I made these for this fun blog tour, hoping to get you all in the mood to start some summer sewing! I hope my thoughts have been helpful, and I know my friends on the tour also have some informative reviews to share (and maybe a giveaway, too), so go check them out! Thanks!

Sewing By Ti

Creative Counselor

Gray All Day

MSL Creations

Sew Sophie Lynn

The Socially Awkward Seamstress

Becoming a jeans-making machine

Liana stretch jeans aquaThis is just a quick post about these Liana Stretch jeans I made last week. I was not going to take pictures or post about them because as soon as I got this cheap stretch “denim” under my machine foot, I knew these were not going to be my forever jeans. This fabric is thin and wrinkles like crazy, neither is optimum for jeans.

Itch to Stitch jeansI proceeded on to practice my jeans making skills. I do want to make a stable full of handmade jeans, since I can think of no other article of clothing I wear more. So practical for me. So I pressed on, despite the obvious issues. Some might notice that my yoke seams don’t line up at center back. Normally this would be totally unacceptable, but I knew that these babies were going to be “jeggings” in the sense that I would be wearing a longer top over them, due to the thin fabric, so I left it. Ha!

liana jeans patternI practiced my fly insertion, and it went very well again. The wrinkling there is due to my buttonhole being too close to the center. It is a bummer mistake, but I learned from it, so I’m further down the road to total jeans domination.

Liana jeans from Itch to StitchIt is always a good idea to just baste the pant legs to check fit, since all fabric behaves differently. While I was doing that, I was horrified to see some camel toe action. Ewwww! I almost abandoned them. But since I was practicing, I put on the waistband. I also wanted to see if I should perhaps make fit adjustments to the crotch curve of this pattern before I make 20 more pairs (though my last pair were great!). My idea was to perhaps not pull the waistband as tight as usual, so maybe the jeans would sit down a little lower on my hips and relax in the you-know-where area. That ended up totally working! Just a little extra ease in the waistband was enough.

Handmade stretch jeans 2So now I’m quite pleased with them. Yes, the fabric is not ideal, but I could certainly wear them half tucked with a longer top so my bottom doesn’t feel totally exposed. And man, they are comfy!  Just like leggings, but a tiny bit nicer.

Eagle jacket twice, for luck

Cream Eagle jacketThe centerpiece “topper” of my boho wardrobe was going to be a faux suede swingy jacket, made with Vanessa Pouzet’s Eagle jacket pattern. I especially adored the fitted shoulders and little inset but with an easy shape. I could see it paired with dresses, tunics, and tops.

too tight first draftMy first mistake was the suede-like fabric I picked up from JoAnn’s. It doesn’t stretch, hangs stiffly and it doesn’t press, but I loved the texture! So I forged ahead. The jacket is fully lined and put together in a very interesting way, making it rather impossible to try on during construction to test the fit. And I don’t make muslins. Well…

It was quite a bit too big when I finally got it put together, and since the fabric has very little drape, it exacerbated the fit problems. It looked terrible on. So I ripped it apart and made adjustments. But then I was overzealous in my adjustments, and still didn’t like how the fabric hung. The pic in the mirror is after my alterations — the shoulder is too tight and it is pulling at my bust. It did not feel comfortable at all.

Vanessa Pouzet eagle jacketSo I just made a whole new one, this time out of cream velour. Ha ha ha, velour! I found this piece thrift shopping and thought I would make something for one of my girls with the soft, stretchy fabric, because I think we all agree that velour is past its prime as a real apparel fabric. But no! This fabric turned out to be the exact fabric I should have started this journey with. I love how comfortable this is, how snug I could get the sleeves and how I can push them up, and how the back swings. It all worked out beautifully. I lined it in some nude tricot, which isn’t the cutest, sexiest lining, but it is invisible and retained the stretch of the velour.

Pouzet eagle jacket sleeveI especially like how the sleeve embroidery stands out on the textured nap. The thread is gold to match the gold leather insets, but reads pretty subtle. I guess that the subtlety is fine, since in this outfit I do have gold on my T-shirt, boots, earrings and fingernails. Too much? Perhaps I should move to Vegas.

velour eagle jacketI refuse to believe that the universe is telling me to make muslins. Since it all worked out in the end, I choose to believe that I could not have avoided all that pain, I just had to work through it while ruining $40 worth of fabric and lining so I could get to the result that in total cost me about $7.

eagle jacket outfitI love my new jacket and will take pictures of the outfits I pull together. This success motivates me to finish those other pieces I’ve planned to go with it, so stay tuned!

Side of vanessa eagle jacketMost important points:

  • The suede cloth at Joann’s is perhaps not the best apparel fabric, and certainly not for this pattern. But velour is where it is at! No wonder I wore velour tracksuits so much 10 years ago.
  • Got to have some fun with those embroidery stitches on my Brother embroidery machine. I don’t use that machine often, so it was fun.
  • A cream jacket is just the thing to pull my (to be sewn) summer wardrobe together, and the Eagle jacket shape is really fun!

eagle jacket shoulder detail

Simply a tank dress with McCall’s 6559

M6559 dress top frontThis is the kind of project that I usually dismiss from my project list. It was simple, it was fast, I learned no skills, I paired no fabrics. But I have been drowning in a sea of huge goals lately. My wardrobe plan for the Pattern Review Wardrobe contest was very involved. Of course I love to push myself for contests, but the fact that I only finished 3 items (one turned out to be a wadder) and started one more reveals the unrealistic hopes I had. Continue reading

Room for pockets in a tulip skirt!

Simplicity 2451 skirtThis is not a ground breaking post or anything but I’m just posting a quick project that I made in January. Pictures and this review were postponed because as soon as I finished it for the Pattern Review pattern stash contest, in which you were supposed to sew up a pattern you’ve been holding onto for at least 6 months, I decided that I hated my zipper application. I thought it was fine, I thought I could live with it, but no. It had to come completely out and be totally redone. In the end, the zipper looks great, so I don’t think I was just being a crazy perfectionist – it was a worthwhile thing to do. No one wants to be worrying about how their zipper looks down the center of their bum! Continue reading

Sew it Chic Monthly – March

Sew it Chic first saturdaysWhat an amazing month of link-ups in February! You guys are really stepping up your game! My list of pattern “needs” keeps growing and growing and growing…

masha1This month I am featuring Masha from Itinerant Seamstress. Last month she made 2 Mabel skirts and shared her struggles with getting everything just right, and we all know that the biggest challenge of working with knits is the differences in stretch and recovery between cuts of fabric. I thought they both looked great, and you guys must have too, since it was the most clicked link this month.

Here are Masha’s answers to the usual questions. I found her answer to the last question very reassuring, as lately I’ve had so little time to sew, and I find that even if I have a few minutes here or there, I won’t sit down and do it because I know I’ll be interrupted soon. But this month I will just sit down and get a thing or two going, even with the threat of interruption looming. It will still be some sewing, and that is what I love to do!

Masha said:

My favorite thing about sewing:

These days, when my girls see a dress in a store or a catalog, they ask “Can you sew that for me, Mama?” Not, “Can you buy me that?” but “Can you sew it for me?” I love that. I also love deciding that I need a new skirt and having it in my hot little hands two hours later. (This is also my favorite thing about having a fabric stash).

My least favorite thing about sewing:

Tracing patterns and cutting fabric. I have made my peace with pressing fabric and seams – I even enjoy it now. But I still have no patience for pattern tracing and only slightly more patience for cutting fabric. I routinely rush through cutting, which results in wasted time later when my notches don’t line up. You’d think I’d have learned my lesson by now.

masha2The most recent thing I’ve learned about sewing:

That it’s possible to finish a garment sewing only in 10-minute increments. My husband had a stroke last summer and sewing time was scarce in my house for quite some time. When I did begin finding time, it was only in little snippets – literally 10-20 minutes at a time. I would often get called away mid-seam, and it was really frustrating to have to step away. But ultimately, I found myself taking more care with my seam finishes and my pressing because I knew I wasn’t going to finish anything during that particular sewing session anyway. And garments still got made. Now, my husband is easing back into work, and life is returning to normal. Though homeschooling and taking care of four little people does cut into my sewing time considerably, I don’t think I will ever again complain about having “no time to sew.”

And now the link up and just a few rules:

  • Women’s garments only
  • Made or blogged in the past month only – to avoid reposts.
  • The party is open about a month, until the last day of that month.
  • You don’t have to blog to join in! Link up your Pattern Review, your Kollabora project or even an Instagram pic. I know there are so many lovely things made that we never see because not everyone is crazy enough to blog. I also have one person who emails me the pictures so I can get them up here.

Optional additional ideas:

  • If you are on a blogging platform that supports links, please link back to by using the Sew it Chic button in the sidebar, or just a simple mention in the text of your post. That way more people will find the party!
  • Look around and share a comment or 2 with a neighbor. I don’t mind admitting that I savor blog comments as much as new lights in my sewing room. They are encouraging and build community.
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