The ultimate pattern for the classic t-shirt dress – M6886

McCall's 6886 T-shirt dressI concur that McCall’s 6886 is a perennial favorite for a very good reason. Boy, it does fit nicely! I’m glad I finally gave it a try.

McCall's 6886 dress This amazing medium weight knit is from Mood Fabrics LA. That was a fun shopping trip, let me tell you! And the people there were so helpful and totally nice when I asked them about Project Runway, even though I’m sure they get asked about it all the time. They told me the Real Housewives of Orange County apparently shoot there, too. And lots of famous designers and people come in all the time. I didn’t see any, but I did get to meet their resident dog, Oscar.

M6886 dress fitFor some reason I only got a yard, so the finished length of this dress was dictated by fabric shortage, but I’m pleased I got a whole dress out of it. I didn’t plan on making a dress when I bought only one yard of fabric. The print is so interesting, isn’t it? And the quality feels amazing. I wanted the fabric up against my skin since it feels so nice, but in the end, I just had to line it. With such a snug shape I felt like I needed another layer to help smooth things. I’ve felt compelled to line all my dresses lately, but this pattern is so simple that it is no big deal to add a lining really quickly.

M6886 pattern dressThere are no construction notes to share – this pattern is easy! I attached my lining to the neckline to finish that edge, but other than that, there is nothing to say. I made no adjustments and I love the fit! What a great pattern, especially for showing off this special fabric, but I can think of a hundred variations and modifications and it has really sparked my creativity to have such a well fitting, basic pattern to play with. Very nice job, McCall’s! I included this in my list of 10 patterns I’m going to sew this year, too. I’ll be posting more versions soon!

These photos were taken hastily in front of one of our favorite restaurants, but I just wanted to get this blogged. We were in a hurry to see this view at dinner!

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A great way to join our sewing podcast! Just record your answers.

cropped-ClothesMakingMavens_Logo_SquareLori and I have been working hard to bring you more Clothes Making Mavens podcast content for you to listen to while you sew! Our newest idea hopes to bring more diverse voices to the podcast by allowing you to record your own answers and send them along to us to share with the sewing world. We have asked some of our favorite bloggers to answer these questions, but we know there are other stories our there that we would love to hear, too!

We thought an easy and low pressure way for you to do this is to record your answers to the following questions using a free recording app on your phone such as Voice Recorder, and then send the audio file to us. My blog email is GrayDayPatterns (at) gmail (dot) com or the podcast email is ClothesMakingMavens (at) gmail (dot) com.

We always have our message system set up for you to call and record us a message at 401-64MAVEN, and we adore those. But you might be anxious at the thought of getting one shot at recording your message and leaving it there. I know I get nervous recording the podcast still!

Rest assured that you can send us a recording and Lori and I will edit it —  if you make any mistakes, we will make sure you sound terrific! And if you prefer, we can set up a time for me to ask you these questions over Skype if that would make it easier for you to answer the questions in a conversational way. We love meeting new people and we’d love to talk to you.

Here are the questions we are looking for answers for. You can answer any or all of them, but be sure and answer number 1 with at least your name so that we know who you are! I’d especially love to know why you sew and what are your future sewing plans? I love planning almost as much as I love sewing. What about you?

1. What is your name and where can people find you online (name of your blog and/or company and/or instagram account, etc.)
2. What are you doing when you’re not sewing?
3. Why do you sew?
4. What’s on your sewing table right now?
5. What are you planning to sew in future that you’re excited about?

We hope to hear from you and do comment below if anything is unclear.

And have you listened to our latest episode with Sharadha from Lori got to go to her house in person and dig through her beautiful handmades to get all the details about her inspiration.  She does such an amazing job of styling and wearing the clothes, it is very fun to see, so I recommend pulling up Sharadha’s Instagram feed while you are listening so it can feel like you are in her closet, too!

Top 10 Patterns I’m building my wardrobe with this year

I’m sure we all keep a running list of patterns to sew, at least in our head. I feel like I’m constantly adding to the list if I take a look at Instagram for only a second! Such beautiful things! But I am taking control of my list right now in an effort to tame my stash and give direction to my wardrobe. Most precious stash fabrics will work for one of these patterns, depending on weight, stretch and print. I’m planning a big sewing studio reorganization with the goal of painting my ugly beige walls and mounting my large TV, and stash categorization will also be part of that process.

In January I laid out plans for this year in this post Top 10 patterns I’m looking forward to sewing in 2016. Alas, much of this year I’ve been in a sewing rut. The only 2 I completed were the Inari T dress, twice, and a bralette that I have not blogged. The year before I enumerated the patterns I was excited about in my post Top 10 patterns I’m looking forward to sewing this year, and of those 10 I completed 1, jeans, which I am very proud of.

I am a fickle beast. But I am writing this list with a very different goal in mind than just listing interesting patterns. I think all of these can become TNTs, true favorites to make and wear lots of times. They fit into my style and are comfortable to wear. They will fill holes that I’ve been hesitating about. Most importantly, I resolve to make each of them at least twice. I don’t usually repeat patterns, but when I don’t, I feel like I don’t realize the full potential of the fit and construction. Basically, the second one is always better. And lately I am all about making my sewing better, not just getting it done.

Berlin skirt sewing pattern

  1. Berlin skirt by Oraguese patterns. I am wild about this skirt. I want every version I’ve seen and those pockets give it such a great shape. Stylish and comfy (which is the theme of this list!)
  2. Kielo wrap dress and McCall’s 6886. They go together in one fabric category – heavier knits. I suspect I’ll be comfortable in the Kielo because of the wrap, and the 6886 will be for wearing with a long cardigan or kimono.
  3. Cocoon cardigan or Carrie cardigan. Speaking of cardigans, I like how this one is shaped a little differently. Looks cozy!
  4. Bias tanks from Simplicity 1366. I have made this before in a floral challis and I love it. The bias cut makes the fit great, though it does limit some of the prints you can use, like no stripes. I need every color, obviously. I also like the Tessuti Kate tank for less cleavage, too. I have been neglecting this pattern, despite the fact that my love for my muslin has not faded. I just wore it last week, in fact.
  5. Full skirt Simplicity 1369. My sister made this skirt and I loved how it came together. For some reason, full skirts appeal to me right now. Honestly, I think I don’t want tight fabric pulling across my bum in the heat and with my lifestyle. I’ve been wearing a silver lame skirt I purchased from a rare trip to H&M so much. I also like Simplicity 1166 for the buttons.
  6. Mimi G Simplicity 8084 dress. Another dress I’m wild about. I love the fit, I love the neckline. I love all of Manju’s versons. I want some short ones and I want some maxi length. All my lightweight wovens will be made up into the dress!
  7. Grainline Hemlock, maybe with added ruffles or sleeve variations? A couple years ago I bought some XL T-shirts from the Loft, with the intention of cutting them down to fit me. But I never cut them down because it turns out I love them as is! I also wear my pink Hemlock a lot. I need more and want to play around with the pattern a bit. I know I will wear them.
  8. Casual not tight pants – Chi town chinos or Morgan boyfriend jeans are both good contenders for this category of pants that I am now craving. But I might even want pleats and tapered legs? Comment below with suggestions. I know Burdastyle always has great pants patterns so I should comb the magazine collection. Good excuse to spend an hour flipping through my favorite magazine!
  9. Hvar jacket by Itch to Stitch – This pattern came out after I made this list, so I had to bump out the ever-present french jacket that I keep resolving to make and then never do. Look at it! It is so cute, fun and practical! And it is on sale right now.
  10. Sew House Seven Toaster or Seamwork Astoria. Will it ever get cold enough to wear these snuggly tops? I have to assume it will, despite the 100 degree temperatures we’ve been “enjoying” this past week. I also am interested in finding some tops that have a tighter fit on top to balance my new interest in full skirts and relaxed pants. This is a big departure for me, but I’m looking forward to it.

I’ll be mixing these patterns into some wardrobe plans I’ve been kicking around in my head for months. This seems especially important as I introduce new shapes into my wardrobe. For example, the silver skirt I picked up at H and M to try a new style has been so fun to wear, but very difficult to style! I don’t have tops to go with it, not to mention silver lame is a little loud and I feel obligated to tone it way down with all the other elements of my outfit. All those elements, in addition to a close and careful inventory of my stash, will be part of my wardrobe planning with the above 10 (really 16) patterns. I will post about that process, too. Creating a blog post usually forces me to clarify things and I will especially welcome feedback.

I’d like to hear your thoughts on any and all of these patterns. Are any of these your favorites already, or are there any that I have missed and you know I would love? And what should I wear with a full skirt to keep it looking modern and feel like me?

The real fun of Halloween; hanging around in my Marie Antoinette costume

IMG_4745 (2) (Custom)

No one that knows my love of Halloween would be surprised to know that I got dressed up in full hair and makeup, petticoat and corset bra, and my beautiful Marie Antoinette costume on my birthday to take these pictures!

Marie Antoinette costume 1I had a lovely birthday morning acting like a french princess, making my family wait on me and getting as pretty as possible so I could swish over to the park to take photos. It was a little warm, and a little ridiculous to be out in public like this, but it was my birthday and it was fun!

Marie Antoinette costume 2I had the honor of sharing my costume over on the BERNINA blog at I explain how I made all that trim, which was so much less expensive than having to buy yards and yards of something I didn’t even know would match perfectly. This turned out just how I envisioned it.

I also entered it into the Pattern Review Costume contest. I’ll post the text of my review below, but if you’d like to go see my entry and vote on the amazing costumes, voting is open until tonight. Go check them all out!

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Simplicity 4092

Pattern Description: Misses’ 18th century costumes by Andrea Schewe. It doesn’t say anywhere on the envelope that you will need boning, but then the instructions call for it. I was not planning on it, so I just added stiff interfacing to the stomacher piece for stability. That worked great!

Pattern Sizing: I made a size smaller than my measurements, like I always do in Simplicity. I also slimmed down the sleeves. Of course I pin fit it before I put in the zipper, so I don’t know how perfectly accurate the sizing is in that way.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes it did, except for my twist on the trims. I made the ruffle trim and winged it on the bows in front. I like them smaller. I also needed to add in some pink for contrast. It is subtle but classic Marie Antoinette.

Were the instructions easy to follow? As usual, I didn’t follow the directions. When it mentioned the boning, I was like ‘What?’ So I just went my own way from there.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I love the shape of the bodice, neckline and especially the sleeves. I made mine tighter, but the shape of the 2 pieces make it a great sleeve with a bent elbow.

Fabric Used: I went with a upholstery weight satin (I used the matte side) and crinkled taffeta for the stomacher and trim. The underskirt was a very perfect lucky find of pre-gathered/pinched fabric. The blue and cream color scheme was perfectly off-set by the pink ribbon I added to the side trim. Of course then I had to add a pink ribbon choker and a pink butterfly and flowers in my hair.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? If either of my daughters wanted a dress like this, I would use this pattern again. It is fun and goes together well. It is not historical, just easy with the right details to evoke the historic feeling. I lined the bodice, but mostly pinked my seams and wasn’t too particular with the insides since it is a costume. I spent more time on the trims, because that was the fun part!

Conclusion: As long as I can remember, I’ve wanted a dress like this! When I played with my Barbies, I made them fluffy gowns out of my mom’s scraps. I don’t know why it has taken me so long to fulfill this dream. I loved wearing it and pretending I was Marie Antoinette! I am looking forward to Halloween this year even more than usual (which is a lot normally anyway!) I think this is what sewing is all about! Having fun and dressing up, especially like this.

Sleeves are the star of this M7564 blouse

M7564 top modified

The 2nd round of the Pattern Review Sewing Bee called for fabulous sleeves, so I had to answer! It was a great challenge that saw me starting 3 different projects, but I’m glad I finished this one and entered it and I will get back to the other projects once I’ve rested a bit.

I used this beautiful silk-cotton I have been saving for years! I have loved it and vacillated about which project to use it for it seems like dozens of times. I purchased it my first trip to the LA fashion district, and it now occurs to me that I can go get more if I feel I need to.  If not this exact print, this same texture is available at my favorite store up there. But I think it all turned out beautifully and I really will be wearing this top a lot and enjoying this fabric on my actual self! BTW, it is the same type of fabric as my Kanerva blouse of a previous .. Sewing Bee.

Silk cotton blouse with leather

I wrote a very detailed review for the contest, so I’ll copy and paste it here if you didn’t see it over there:

Pattern Description: McCall’s 7564 Very loose fitting, pullover dresses have sleeve, length and hem variations.

Pattern Sizing: XS – XL. I made a medium.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
I made many changes, including chopping it off to a top and adding quite a bit of pizzazz to the sleeves. It is a basic raglan sleeve peasant dress pattern with a neckband.

Were the instructions easy to follow?  This was definitely my own creation, and I did not use the instructions.

M7564 blouse sleeve modifiedWhat did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? It has a very small neck opening. I had to discard the neckband piece.

Fabric Used: Light but crisp cotton silk. I love this kind of fabric! And I added just a bit of leather!

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
I first added pintucks to the front and sleeves. As I cut I had to be sure and add width to account for the fabric taken up by the pintucks, but the pattern fit is forgiving, so I did not have to be too exact.

The flouncy sleeve was easily embroidered and pintucked. It moves the eye down to the leather detail and the huge ruffle. I used the leather as a bit of a fluffing tool. The top of the leather strip is attached to the sleeve then topstiched down, but when I attached the doubled over ruffle, I loved how the leather seam allowance assisted the ruffle to keep from collapsing, I wanted more body in the ruffle, so the two layers were the first step, but then the method of attaching to the leather was even more helpful in that regard. It feels so dramatic and full now! Yay!

I planned on a front placket as the pattern shows for the front piece, but my diagonal tucks made that impossible, I needed to keep the front open to show off the tucks, but ended up with a front center seam to straighten things out. Design feature opportunity! I added embroidery to the front to keep my seam allowance down. I ended up loving it so much and was glad to have a tie in with the sleeve detail. I also added a button because I didn’t like it open after all that. But I’m glad I got my pintucks in at least.

M6475 silk cotton topI used almost all french seams, since the fabric is so light and transparent. I did have to serge the ruffle attached to the sleeve, but it does not show through since it joins to the leather there. I used a facing to make my casing for the neckline elastic because I think that lays much nicer and and it gained some stability.

My wash off stabilizer used for the embroidery gave the fabric a rumpled appearance that emphasized the embroidery and pintucks and I’m pleased. Let’s be honest, this blouse is not going to stay wrinkle free, and it shouldn’t have to! I wanted an easy-to-wear blouse that stood out as unique! I think I achieved that and the drama of the sleeves is showstopping!

Conclusion: I feel like I can take flight in my sleeves, and yet this top can go with jeans, shorts, or a dressed up skirt and is not actually fussy. I slipped my signature leather detail in there, but I think it maintains the boho vibe of the top.

McCall's 7564 outfit

Fooling the eye with my Simplicity 1283 skirt

IMG_4531 (2)It is Pattern Review Sewing Bee time once again and I love how this sewing contest always pushes me! This project particularly turned out just as I imagined and I couldn’t be happier. And it was made with a care and level of craftsmanship I don’t always take with a sewing project.

Simplicity 1283 backThe Round 1 challenge was a pencil skirt and immediately I was thrilled. I love pencil skirts and especially with the looser tops I’ve been amassing for my sunny and casual lifestyle, the slim skirt is a perfect pairing. I wore this simple button up blouse to keep the emphasis on the skirt for these pictures, but the subtle pattern and denim back mean this skirt can easily go with a colorful top, too. I can’t wait to try it!

The pattern is Mimi G for Simplicity 1283 and so it features the adorable and curvy Mimi on the cover. I am built nothing like her, so I tried to fool the eye into imagining more curves with my added style line at the high hip. I think it worked pretty well. My waist looks pretty small and there is some definition to my hips that I don’t usually have. It turned out so flattering!

Here are my construction notes from my PR review :

Simplicity 1283 detailThe main alteration for this pattern is I added an angled piece of the stretch denim to the front. It almost looks as though the back is wrapping around the front. This visually brought my waist in to look slimmer and the longer length should make me look taller. That’s the theory anyway!

But the fun comes from the play of stripes on the front and side panels. I emphasized the change in stripe direction with navy blue trim. I was sad to cover my perfect stripe sewing on the seams, but the trim really added to the style!

Simplicity 1283 innardsI used a couple tips from Sandra Betzina’s (old) book More Power Sewing. It warned me to ensure that the garment waist be 1 – 2 inches larger than the cut waistband and to ease that extra fabric in as you sew to create a smooth transition from snug waistband to high hip. I think this worked great and avoided the folding and bunching that can sometimes happen right under the waistband when actually moving around.

The lining is handstitched to the invisible zipper and the tweed hem is also hand stitched with no thread visible. The denim portion of the hem is a nice deep 1 inch machine sewn hem to secure the kick pleat.

Simplicity 1283 sideA very fun project for a very fun contest! I just completed my Round 2 entry, but the blog lags behind when I am sewing this much, so I’ll share that one a little later.

Soft and swingy summer tank M6359

IMG_4408 (2)Hi all! I’ve been neglecting the blog quite a bit. I just don’t know what to talk about here. I feel like I can just say – “here, I made this, look at it” for every post. What is it you readers want to hear? How can I shake this blog up and make it fun again?

McCalls 6359 frontThis time I have a cute tank top (McCall’s 6359) that made out of very soft rayon. Rayon wrinkles like a bitch, as these pictures show, but it is so lovely to wear against the skin during summer. I will usually line a garment made from rayon to keep the wrinkling down a bit, but this soft easy tank wouldn’t have been as fun to wear. I did extend the facing so it covers my bust for a little modesty, quite an easy modification.

mcCalls 6359 bodiceWhat I especially like about the shape of it is the high point where the bodice meets the straps. The top still dips very low in front, but I love the angle that takes it up before it becomes a strap, all the way to my collarbone.

M6359 tankAnd of course I love the cut of the back. I even have a bra that is cut with nearly the same lines! The racer back is gathered and connected to the facing inside, then the straps are slipped in between. It is a clean finish. I am horrible at making strap attachments look tidy.

McCalls 6359 hemI did a tiny baby hem to finish it off. It looks sharp in this photo, but I have since washed this top and the thing raveled out and now looks a mess. Not a durable finish. I’ll go back and serge the edge, then hem it tightly so that the serging stitch doesn’t show. That will be more durable. Add it to the mending pile!

M6359 tunic


Named Lourdes Jacket for the Hack It! Challenge

Named Lourdes jacket hackHere is a fun little (by little, I mean very involved) project I put together for The Monthly Stitch’s Indie Pattern month. I just have to participate every year, it is so fun! I especially appreciated how they moved it to July this time around. June is packed, but in July we have the lazy days of summer upon us and I had time to sew this fun and versatile jacket for the Hack It! contest.

Named Lourdes Jacket with ruffleI love love love Named Patterns. They fit so well, they have wonderful instructions, and the styles are amazing. I actually won the Named Lourdes Jacket from a previous Monthly Stitch IPM contest, so this is such a perfect use! But just because I hacked this pattern does not mean that I do not adore the original design, oh no! I’ll be making a straight version of this jacket, I’m sure.

navy nordstrom jacketBut for this fun version, I was inspired by the Nordstrom sale…I know you all see those posts and flit over to their website, click around and think “Hey, I could make that!” I saw this cute jacket, but if there is one thing I know, it is that I DO NOT NEED another navy jacket. But white would be terrific. I happen to have some beautiful white tweed with silver threads through it waiting for me.

What I did was utilized the cut made for front darts to insert my ruffle just on the side and back. Then I simply chopped off the sleeves to add a matching ruffle there. The modification became tricky when it got to the lining. I ended up leaving the lining free at the bottom and hemming my tweed normally. It would have been so cool to bag my lining, but I couldn’t do it this time. I also left off the buttons, as my inspiration jacket didn’t have any.

This pattern is beautiful and goes together very well. It does have a ton of steps and it took quite a while to even get to the sewing! There is a lot of interfacing (especially important with my ravelly tweed!) and they want you to finish many of your seams before you start. It is like they knew I was making it out of this difficult fabric, because those important steps were so necessary for my project and turned it into a really nicely finished product.

IMG_4467 (2)Some notes about the pattern – it is short! Very cropped. I even added length and you can see how cropped it still is with me wearing high waist jeans. The shoulders are also a little narrow. There is a very cool sleeve detail I had to leave off because of my ruffle but can’t wait to try on my next version. I do highly recommend this pattern and I love the finished product. It will be so handy to have a stylish white jacket, as soon as the temperature drops just a little!

M7577 Heathered Wrap Jumpsuit

M7577 jumpsuit bodiceI really like this pattern, McCall’s 7577. My version is pretty plain at first glance, but then, party in the back! I like the unexpected twist on a basic, comfy jumpsuit.

M7577 back yokeThis fabric is a lightweight but substantial knit with a lovely brushed hand and good recovery. So many of the fabrics I find are mysteries, and this one said nothing on the bolt but was obviously better quality than the other fabrics in this tiny shop I discovered. It drapes nicely but doesn’t cling.

McCall's 7577 jumpsuitUsually when I make a garment in a knit out of a pattern drafted for wovens, I do go down a size. I already went down a size because this is a McCall’s pattern anyway. I chose not to go down another because I didn’t want this knit clinging to my backside and I am treating this as a comepletely wearable muslin. I would like to make one of the more flirtyy romper views in a rayon. I just about died over Thimberlina’s version. It has birds!

McCall's jumpsuit 7577 frontI pretty quickly veered off the pattern directions after I assembled the back yoke and front pieces. The front edge is a bias cut, and as such is very vulnerable. On my knit I knew I needed to deal with that or the front would gape open and basically, the whole thing would be a disater and not wearable. Since you must shimmy in and out of that top by opening and putting pressure on that front edge, I decided to reinforce it with fold-over elastic.

McCalls jumpuit patternWith the fold over elastic, I was able to draw up the front a little bit by stretching my elastic as I sewed it. So my front edges actually tuck in towards my chest and it keeps everything much more secure. The elastic also helps with recovery after I stretch the front open to go to the bathroom multiple times a day.

M7577 back viewThe rest of the construction is not noteworthy. I used a double needle to finish my armholes, and there was a bit of tunneling. Sad, but I needed the armholes to retain some stretch. The hem I just used a straight sstitch. The waistband is constructed by using the seam allowance of the waist seam folded up as a casing. I was not looking at the instructions anymore by that point, please note.

McCall's 7577I did add to the length of the bodice to ensure it would blouse nicely over the waistband. The hem length was totally invented, too. I wanted a shorter jumpsuit so it would be nice and casual. I may cut it off further…I can’t decide. Hem lengths have been all over the place in fashion right now and I know that affords me a lot of freedom to choose what looks best on me, but what DOES look best on me? I have the hardest time determining that. I just can’t look at my own image objectively. Suggestions welcome on this subject!

Episode10MichelleWe do have another exciting Clothes Making Mavens podcast episode up! I am so jealous that Lori got to interview Michelle of, but since she recorded it we all get to enjoy it. I really love how Michelle explains her outlook on fashion as art. I am always torn when faced with that question. I want to push the envelope, but am I comfortable wearing the more artsy ideas I come up with? Lately I’ve been buying much more subdued fabrics and it makes them a bit less inspiring, actually. And if you want to be inspired, listen to Michelle and check out her beautiful creations! She’s amazing, no lie.


Warm and Snuggly in my COPPÉLIA Cardi

Coppelia cardiganRecently I purchased a pair of high-waisted jeans. Oh how I love that they suck my tummy in and I don’t have to continuously hike them up! I have been loving them so much I thought it would be great to have more tops to wear with them. The Papercut Coppelia Cardigan has been on my to-sew list for quite a while, and I decided now is the time. This silhouette is so flattering! Continue reading