McCall’s 7251 in Black + White Knit


As I tossed on my new top, set up the tripod to take these photos and wrestled my out-of-control hair into a braid, I had a major realization: I am at ease in my body. I don’t say this lightly because…well, until now I’ve NEVER been at ease in my body.


I won’t belabor the point, but when I finally got over all the excuses I built up and sewed my first pair of Ginger Jeans earlier this year (I’m wearing them in these pix — they’re my favorite pair of jeans ever), something shifted. I’m even going to say it was seismic in scale. It’s not like I’ve lost weight or have become super fit, though I do exercise regularly and that’s part of it. Sewing is another part of it, for sure. I’m convinced that the jeans-making was a significant turning point, but this burgeoning ease has been going on for a while in a nearly imperceptible way. I have many thoughts on this but I haven’t yet consolidated them into anything coherent, so I’ll have to mull over this a bit. Or not. It’s nice to feel comfy in my bod (and sort of weird since it’s not a familiar feeling) and maybe I don’t have to analyze it to death like I do with everything.


Today, though, I’m featuring a knit top I made using McCall’s 7251, view A in a size 12.


It’s so incredibly comfortable, I may just head straight to bed in it. Don’t I look sleepy up there? The fabric is a rayon jersey from here, and it handled easily without curling or slipping all over the place.


Now, I know that this demure shirt isn’t going to turn heads, but it was deceptively time-consuming. What with all the pintucks and hand-stitching of the neckband facing and placket, I was pretty wiped out by the time I finished hemming it.


I like the hi-lo hem. There were supposed to be slits, but I’ve decided slits just aren’t my jam. To accommodate for the change, I curved the edges of the back piece where it meets the front piece.

Other changes:

  • This pattern is meant for a woven, but I knew I wanted it in a knit.
  • Instead of snaps, I added faux buttons (I couldn’t find enough black ones in a small enough size so I settled for dark blue, which I think is a fashion no-no? Who knows)

I messed up the neckband a little where it meets the top of the placket pieces, causing the neckband to curl inward, but it’s not too bad.

One of the hilarious parts of keeping my camera on continuous shooting is that it captures candid moments. Like when I spotted an errant mosquito in my house and started to chase after it:


OK! I have other sewing in the pipeline and I’m scheming up marketing plans with the publicity team at Sasquatch Books in a couple of days, so I hope to have some cool and noteworthy updates for you next week! I will try to post this Friday, but it might be iffy…

M7251-blackknit9At any rate, I love my new top!!!

More Mods to The French Sailor Top


Good morning! I’ve been experimenting with the French Sailor Top pattern from a couple of weeks ago and hallelujah, I now have two tops that will be a staple in my wardrobe. This is my original French Sailor Top (size medium with no modifications other than an extra cm in sleeve length):


This first attempt was too tight across the chest and the bust darts were a joke.

To rectify the situation, I started by modifying the medium. I liked Angela’s suggestion of doing a broad back adjustment from that last post, so I widened the back piece by 1/2″ using step 8 of this method. I also added 1/4″ to the base of the armscye for the front pattern piece to allow for more movement and made corresponding changes to the sleeve pattern. Then I lowered the bust dart by a couple of inches, but decided a full bust adjustment probably wouldn’t be necessary. I also remembered to add an inch to the hem. Because I used an uncooperative cheap double-gauze that I cut off-grain, it looks pretty wonky. This was just a test, though, so that was ok. The fit is WAY better. I can lift my arms in this version! See image on left:


Then, I went up a size and sewed the large for comparison. It’s weirdest thing…the shoulders were even tighter for the large, though the rest of the bodice was much looser. See how the top seems to rise above my shoulders in the image on the right? Very odd. I lowered the bust dart and added an extra inch to the hem for the large as well, and did away with the side slits. Aside from those two things, I didn’t make any changes to the larger pattern pieces.

So the winner was the medium with modifications.


I wanted to sew it up in a polka dot fabric, but I was all out of the white-dots-on-black piece that I had in mind. Instead, I defaulted to my usual indigo. This very thin cotton has pinstripes and just the right drape. Love. Ignore the big ole burn near my wrist and word to the wise: never reach over a boiling electric kettle.

modified-frenchsailortop7 modified-frenchsailortop8

I’ve been hoarding this Kokka gingham for many years, and I’m glad I finally cut into it but I’m on the fence about the result. The texture is reminiscent of brushed cotton and it’s a teensy weensy weightier than the pinstripe indigo cotton.


The fit is awesome. Look how the dart is in the right place — that’s my expert eyeballing skills for ya.


It feels…a little too country for my taste, I guess. I usually adore gingham so I don’t know why this one isn’t totally floating my boat. Despite its quintessential Japanese-ness, I also can’t shake the sense that I ought to incorporate a butter churn as a prop. Or maybe it’s because I get the urge to squat down and start milking a cow when wearing this shirt.


I’m sure the top will grow on me; sometimes it takes wearing the garment a few times for me to fall in love.


Ah, that’s better. Anyway, this was great practice for alterations. Because of its straightforward shape, I was able to make minor tweaks and see how they would change the fit without having to spend a lot of time (or fabric! I was able to squeeze out a top with less than 1.5 yards). I could probably add just a hair to the shoulder width and it wouldn’t hurt if the neckline lay flatter, but I’m going to call this one good.

I’m looking forward to trying the other patterns from this book!

Linen Chambray French Sailor Top


Whenever I sew for myself, I feel like Goldilocks.

Too big. Too small.

Too long. Too short.

Too dowdy. Too racy.

Too something, always in search of just right.


Don’t let these photos fool you, because this unassuming chambray linen top is too, too tight. Look at how loose it is on the model:


I used this book, and thank goodness this was a simple top to sew up because it has all sorts of issues, but they’re completely fixable. First of all, I can’t stretch much in this top. Even this motion was challenging:


And then, there’s the problem with the bust darts that are so off the mark, I can only call them armpit pleats. Lesson learned: check the dart position before cutting out fabric. Since I’ve been sewing mostly with knits lately, I didn’t even think about the darts and automatically traced-cut-sewed.


I cut size M since I seem to be overshooting on the too large side these days, but nope nope nope. Although there should have been enough ease according to the printed finished measurements, my chest is flattened, and had I followed the instructions, this would have been a scandalously cropped top (scandalous for me, at any rate). Instead, I folded the hem a mere 1/2″ total just to give myself minimal belly coverage.

chambray-linentop8 chambray-linentop3

The fabric, as far as I can tell, is a linen chambray. There might be a little cotton in there since it doesn’t wrinkle as much as 100% linen. The side slits add a nice detail, don’t you think? I’m also loving the 3/4 sleeves, though I did add 1cm extra because the pattern piece looked a smidgen too short to me. Why I didn’t think to add to the hem is beyond me.


It’s too bad, because this is such a lovely, easy-to-coordinate top. But now I know that for the patterns in this book, I need to cut out a large. I’ll try round two of this top with adjusted bust darts in a bigger size and add more length! I could sew it up in a similar fabric, but it’s always fun to try something different. I can’t decide between polka dots and buffalo check (inspired by this version). Of course, there’s always stripes too…

What’s your vote?


McCall 7199 – Asymmetrical Zip Outerwear


I think my body might be shrinking. Or not. Maybe I’m not understanding what “moderate stretch knits” are, since I didn’t think the fabric I used was crazy stretchy.

This is what the envelope image of McCall 7199 view A looks like:


This is how it looks on me:


I cut the size 12 and made no mods other than making the hem slightly longer to account for my generous torso length (I folded up 3/8″ instead of 1″). I actually like the loose fit, but it might have been a good idea to go down one more size. I feel like I’m writing this sentence a lot lately. I’m having a bear of a time figuring out the right sizing for myself with so many different pattern companies and very little standardization. Throw in the quirks of each fabric, and I’m constantly scratching my head.

There’s a lot to love here. The double knit is super luxe and soft. I think it’s a sweater knit? I’m just going to put it out there that from here on out, chances are good that I won’t remember where any of the fabric I’m using is from nor am I adept at identifying types of substrate. I’m sorting through stash from years ago at this point and my memory isn’t great on the best of days. That’s why I have to write about my projects right away; otherwise I won’t even be able to remember that I actually made the thing.


Anyway. I’m drawn to asymmetrical designs, and that zipper! I never thought I’d be able to make something that looks this difficult. Spoiler: it’s not difficult at all.


I did make things difficult by installing the left zipper incorrectly at first, forgetting that the front was supposed to overlap. I installed it like I would a normal jacket or hoodie, which made it extremely maternity-friendly —  I must have unwittingly wanted it to look like all my other tops. Luckily, unpicking the seam wasn’t a total nightmare, and it was an easy enough fix.


There’s quite a bit of piecing involved as well as hand-stitching of the facing (I used the thinnest cotton knit I could find in my stash), so it’s not the fastest project on the block but I’m thoroughly digging the end results. I love all the panels and shaping that happens as a byproduct and the overall effect is sporty yet stylish. And sort of futuristic, no?


Trying to figure out how to get the collar to lay in a pleasing way is a fun challenge. And I need to shift the snap position inside because it’s hitting at a weird spot in my armpit. A couple of other nit-picky things: I noticed that because this pattern is meant for knits, there are no instructions for finishing the seam allowances. However, I like to serge the raw edges of my knits, so I did that where it made sense. And my pocket linings keep peeking out, so I’ll need to sew them down and next time, I plan on skipping pockets altogether because it adds bulk to the midsection that I can do without.


Other than a few minor, minor issues, this is a top/sweater/jacket thingie that’s going to get a lot of wear! M was very impressed when he saw me zipping it up and declared it “cool”. Now that’s high praise because he rarely notices my clothes — I could be rocking out in a grain sack (which, sadly, many of my dresses resemble), and he would be unperturbed.



I’m having a blast sewing for myself and can’t stop! Oh, side note: I was perusing my Pinterest board after I finished making this and noticed that I had pinned an image that obviously propelled me to purchase the pattern without me even realizing it. I’d forgotten all about that pin! The power of the subconscious…


P.S. Furoku members, part 1 is going out tonight!!


Gingers in Indigo and a Shakespearean Valley Top


So my right calf is slightly bigger than my left calf. These are the things you learn when you make your own clothes. I’m on a sewing roll, and I pumped out not only my second pair of Ginger skinnies, but also the Cali Faye Valley Blouse. It was a good week.

Look at me, trying to mix things up with some props:


Yes. A little cornball. You can’t help but imagine muzak accompanying this.


Shall we start with what I’m calling my Shakespearean Valley top? It looks pretty awesome on the hanger, and though the top has grown on me now that I’ve worn it for an entire day and now that the cashier at Jo-Ann’s complimented me on it — she called it my “over-shirt”– I have to admit I feel like I’m billowing all over the place in this blouse. I could probably be airborne if I jumped off of a roof.


I saw the top featured on the Sewing Rabbit via Pinterest, and loved the way it looked so I immediately purchased the pattern. It’s pretty easy to construct, but I noticed that it was labeled “intermediate”. Had I read that first, I probably wouldn’t have attempted the top because I wanted a quick and easy project of the flow-y variety. I’m guessing it’s the fabric recommendation of very light wovens that makes this garment slightly trickier to sew up since I’d made similar types of tunics that were considered beginner-friendly. I used a double-gauze (I can’t remember from where, sorry), which made it even fiddlier. I like the keyhole feature, and I opted to go the non-functional button route. I lined it with a cream voile, and this is what the inside looks like:



The sleeves are what make this top especially Shakespearean, or of that era if you know what I mean. If I’d sewn it in white linen, I would be spouting sonnets. Such full, gathered sleeves! And more gathers at the front and back yokes…all of this makes for a very cute design, but I think the issue is that I should have gone down one size. According to the sizing chart, I should have been an XL, but when I looked at the pattern pieces, I was certain a large would fit me. Sizing is always such a conundrum. At least too big is better than too small!

gingersandvalley6 gingersandvalley7

As for my indigo Gingers — I’m a proud, proud jeans-making mama. I made these out of Selvage denim, which wasn’t quite as stretchy as the black denim I used for my first pair, but with a little tweak here and there (letting out the seam 1/4 inch along the sides and 1/2 inch around my calves), the fit of these indigos are almost better than the black ones. I also made these a smidgen longer.

gingersandvalley8Excuse my exposed belly there and hey, you can see a little of the zipper. Also, I know it’s pure vanity that makes me even mention this, but the fly guard is sticking out in the middle image, making me look like I’ve got a bit of a pouchy stomach. Not that it matters since my Valley blouse leaves everyone wondering when I’m popping out the triplets (what else is new, right? I say this about virtually all my tops). It was significantly easier and faster to sew my second pair of jeans, though I ran into a major problemo:


Ugh. That there is a hole inelegantly patched near the crotch. The lesson here is not to multi-task when serging the fly seam allowance. K was chattering about this cool restaurant she went to with a friend where robots serve sushi, and my hand slipped in astonishment. “Are you okay, Mama? Are you going to cry?” K asked me when she saw my expression as I put my eye to the hole.

Luckily, it is just where no one can/should see unless the person happens to be pervy. Moving along, I used this beautiful striped cotton for the pocket lining. Ditto for the black Gingers.


The only other issue I ran into was my inability to hammer in the rivets to the back pockets. In a display of foresight I’m not usually known for, I had purchased several Thread Theory jeans notions packets. After destroying 12 rivets, I conceded defeat. I’m all out of rivets now, so I’ll have to order some more. I tried to steam close the pocket corner holes, but no go.


I tried this outfit with different shoes, and I can’t decide which I like best. That’s the great thing about skinny jeans – so so versatile. I love that I can slip on boots without all the bunching that happens with my bootcut jeans.


It’s official: my sewing energy is back!
gingersandvalley13P.S. The winner of the giveaway is Jeannie, congrats!