Gemma Tank, Helen's Closet Patterns, Made By Rae Patterns, Sewing

Helen’s Closet York Pinafore in Linen X 2

When I first spied a tester version of the Helen’s Closet York Pinafore during Me Made May before its official release, I knew it was going to be hugely popular. I guessed that this was Helen’s new pattern because I am a Patreon Supporter of the fantastic Love to Sew podcast hosted by Helen and Caroline and in one of the subscriber-only extra LTS podcasts, Helen mentioned that her to-be-launched new pattern was a modern take on a pinafore. Since I am from Connecticut, I didn’t know what she meant by pinafore-here in the US, we call this particular garment a jumper- but when the tester posted a picture during Me Made May and referred to the garment she was wearing as a pinafore, I knew it must be the pattern.

Since the pattern release, it has been popping up all over the place and for good reason. It is a cute modern design, a relatively easy sew and it is fun to customize. I was thrilled because now I have  a pattern to use to sew all the slightly heavier fabrics in my stash (I have a number of linen blends and heavier cottons I purchased for various reasons and have not yet used). And it only takes 2 yards of fabric. So the day it was launched, I purchased the pdf and printed it out.

I had some issues with my printer-it cut off parts of the pattern- but I connected the lines and it looked ok and I cut out the front and back from this linen and started playing with the fit. I cut my first version by cutting between the medium and large cutting lines which usually works for me. I basted the shoulder and side seams and then started trying on the jumper and playing around, taking it in a bit in here and there, sewing more rows of basting stitches, and pretty soon my seam allowances were all over the place but I liked the shape. I was actually afraid that if unpicked the basting seams to sew French seams or add pockets, I wouldn’t be able to replicate the shape, especially since the fabric I used was a lightweight, rumpled linen blend.  So, I sewed a line of stitching along the innermost line of basting stitches, trimmed off the rest of the wonky seam allowances and called it done.

Here are some pictures of the finished garment:

and as worn with my much loved Gemma Tank in white double gauze. It is a little wonky and sack-like but I love it.

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img_2143I had altered this Floral Voile Ruby Dress to make it into a blouse during Me Made May since I hadn’t worn it much in the year since I sewed it. I happened to have it in my sewing room and tried on the York over the blouse and realized it was a perfect match for the linen so I used the extra fabric to make bias binding and a hem binding since the length was a bit short  and I finished it in time to wear to my stepdaughters’ graduation.

Since I raced to finish this wearable muslin before going on vacation, I didn’t actually read the meticulous fitting instructions that Helen included in this pattern.

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After vacation, I printed out another set of pattern pieces and decided that this time I would read and follow the instructions. I was also excited for pockets!

Based on the instructions, my measurements put me in a size Large and given my 5’9” height, Helen’s directions suggest adding 1.5 inches to the pattern by adding 1/2 an inch in three separate places. But when I lined up the version I had already made, it was much smaller than the new pattern that I had printed out and pieced together and in particular, the straps were shorter in my first version and I was pretty happy with where the upper part of the skirt hit my torso on version one. I actually think with my long torso it is sometimes more flattering to have the waist of the garment hit a little higher than my natural waist. So despite the really wonderful, logical instructions, I did not add any length to the straps of the pattern and just cut the pattern out between the M and L lines except for the straps which I cut on the M line at the top and the L lines along the armholes to add a bit of width to the straps. Since the new printed pattern was so much longer than the version I had already sewn, I just cut along the L hem line and decided to sew it up and see what happened. As I did with version 1, I drew a new curve for the neckline about half-way between the two versions of the pattern.

I decided to go for broke and sew French seams even though they always take more than 5/8 inch when I sew them (I have a hard time enclosing all the fraying edges with the 1/4 and 3/8 seams used to create French seams as Helen instructs in the pattern. I ended up sewing a 3/8 seam with wrong sides together and then a 1/2 inch seam with right sides together since it seemed as though I would have lot of extra width. The finished version was longer than version one as planned but even with my 7/8 inch French seams, it was also more roomy. It did not completely make sense but I figured I must have made more adjustments than I realized with my first version- it was such a blur. I tried on version 2 and took pictures. I liked it but did not love it because the linen-cotton blend I used for version 2 was more stiff than the linen I used for version 1 and I felt that overall, the finished garment was less flattering. Here it is with another favorite Gemma tank. I used quilting cotton for the top-stitching to accent the design features and this version had pockets but I didn’t like it as much because it was bigger and didn’t drape as nicely and felt a bit more dowdy.

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I had even lined the pockets using beautiful fabric given to me by a friend (leftover from a Gemma tank that I sewed during Me Made May.)

img_2239I was a bit disappointed but I chalked it up to a learning experience and figured I would try washing it and see if the fabric would soften up a bit.

And YAY! it not only softened up but it shrunk as well and now I love it! Go figure! Here are more pictures with more Gemmas. It is just a bit shorter, just a bit more fitted and much drapier. It is like a whole new garment.

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img_2244So maybe the fabric I cut out hadn’t been pre-washed (although I am almost positive I had washed it before I put it away last year) or maybe this linen-cotton blend really shrinks a lot? Either way, I am thrilled because after taking the time to line the pockets

and sew French seams and do all the things,

I am really happy with it. Now the only challenge is to figure out what to do about version 3. I am thinking that I will need to make more adjustments to my paper pattern. Such is the life a sewist.

In any event, I plan to wear this all summer. It goes with everything in my closet, especially my huge collection of Gemma Tanks.

Several years back I made many versions of the Made By Rae Gemma tank and I plan to wear my York every week this summer with a different Gemma. I think I have enough that I can wear a different combination every week. Want to join me? I will post every Tuesday with the hashtag #wearyouryorkday I actually have a couple of Gemmas cut out that I have been wanting to finish and this is just the incentive I need.

Congratulations to Helen on such a wonderful new pattern. I made four versions of the her Blackwood Cardigan this May and have more planned. She is on a roll!

 

 

 

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Bias Binding, Gemma Tank, Liberty Fabric, Made By Rae Patterns, Sewing

Linen and Liberty Josephine Blouse

I had already started making a version of the Josephine Blouse by Made By Rae in this Loominous fabric when I saw a version of the Roscoe blouse on instagram with contrasting neck and sleeve binding and that was it. I had a vision of a boho blouse in linen with a Liberty floral trim. I had already purchased this lightweight Telio linen checked fabric and I realized that this Liberty lawn would be perfect. Both fabrics from fabric.com. (I plan to also make the Roscoe at a later date but will be making it in rayon.)The Josephine is usually made with pleats but Rae posted a version with gathers that is the perfect Boho Blouse. It is loose and cute but shaped with bust darts. Many of the other styles such as the Roscoe have raglan sleeves and need a really flow-ey fabric such as rayon but the Josephine’s slimmer profile works well in cotton and in linen. It is less full cut and the gathers are more controlled. Rae suggests using elastic thread but I find that I have more control with my two rows of gather stitches. The linen is so crinkly that the gathers don’t have to be perfect and it still looks good.The actually cutting and sewing of the pattern is very straightforward. The front is sewn together and the back is one piece cut on the fold. You gather the fabric in the center back and the center of the two front pieces. You cut the two mirror halves of the front, one back piece and two sleeves. I then made the bias binding and two rectangles to make cuffs. I usually stitch just on the edge of the cuff, not in the ditch. I like the look of the visible stitching.I have to say I was thrilled with how this turned out. I used bias strips of Liberty as hem facings, as one does.Finished blouse below. It is finally warm enough for front door pictures.My sewing room has one window that faces west. Such beautiful light.I had enough of these two fabrics to also make a version of the Gemma tank cropped with a gathered linen skirt. This dress is going to be perfect for spring. More late afternoon light. I can’t get enough of it after a long, dark winter.

And many pictures of the blouse as worn. This is going to be in frequent rotation. I love the neckline. Rae is a genius with necklines.img_9738I used the curved hem from the Gemma tank as my guide for this hem. I love how you can mix and match Rae’s patterns. Back view.The other side view.I look as though I am summoning the backyard spirits but I think my husband caught me on the way to fix my hair and put it behind my ears.As you can see in the next picture. He takes a zillion pictures and then I whittle them down to a few. What can I say? Perfect combination of pattern and fabrics. The Loominous version is going to be great too. Almost finished! Spring sewing is officially underway.

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Sewing

A Linen Pearl Shift for Spring

imageIt’s all about the zipper.imageI originally bought this cotton-linen blend fabric because I was inspired by the beautiful version of Anna Maria Horner’s Painted Portrait Dress posted by Miss Make during Me Made May 2015. If you click on her blog post, it is the short sleeved version in the 3rd row on the left. Perfect dress. But then last winter, I found that I was wearing my plaid Pearl shifts so frequently that I thought the fabric would be perfect for a spring version of the pattern. Since then, I also saw a great version of the Inari Tee dress on Instagram using this same fabric so I may need to get more. In any event, this is a great simple pattern that sews up fast. Here is the finished shift hanging on my new place to photograph my projects: my front door.  I came to appreciate the importance of natural light taking all those selfies for Me Made May and it already has a hook which is not currently occupied by a holiday wreath.imageHere are some tricks/shortcuts I use when making this pattern. First, I size up for french seams:  I cut on the next size up cutting line for the sleeves and side seams to allow room for french seams. I don’t seem to be able to capture the fraying threads with just one seam and always end up with two, no matter how well I think I have trimmed the threads. Since this happens every time I sew french seams, I am trying to just roll with it and know that my seams are very strong (ha!) and I need to plan for it. I cut on the Large seam line although I am generally more of a medium. This gives me enough space for my double seam and have the dress still fit. By the way, I only use french seams for the long seam from the wrist to the hem. I am not confident enough to attempt them at the shoulder seam. Those I sew using a regular seam and then zigzag to finish. image I don’t gather the sleeves:  It may sound funny but I don’t gather the sleeves. I have only made the Pearl with heavier fabric with some stretch/give. I line up the center of the sleeve with the shoulder seam, pin it, and then I sew from the top down in one direction and then from the top down on the other side without using pins, just holding the fabric in place as I go. I get a nice clean shoulder seam with no puckers. Then I sew the sleeve and side seams in one long seam. I generally end up trimming a bit of the sleeve before sewing the long seam in order to make everything line up but I end up with a nice looking sleeve that fits the way I want it too. I am happy with the somewhat close fit I get doing it this way and it is quick and easy. I wouldn’t try this at home using your nice fabric. I would try it first with a muslin to see if you like the way it fits,  but I did it this way the first time and it has worked for me ever since (this is my 4th Pearl shift.) Picture of finished sleeve seam below. imageI use a contrasting lighter-weight fabric to finish the neck, hem and sleeves:  I finish the neckline, hem and sleeves with facings similar to my technique with my Washi’s and Beatrix blouses. In this case, I used two different fabrics since I only had a quarter yard of each. I like how they harmonize. I got these at The Cloth Pocket and the Stitch Lab during trips to Austin. Both are great sources for fabric and inspiration. Choosing facing fabrics is a fun challenge each time I sew. I try to use something I have in my stash. This is less of a challenge these days because my stash is growing. I sew the neckline binding by topstitching about an inch down which I think is a nice look for this simple shift in the heavier fabric.

Word to the wise: measure at least twice and make sure you are looking at the right numbers on your ruler:  I used the Brumby Skirt zipper technique as extensively described in my prior post about a Beatrix tunic. I generally make two similar garments at a time. It is often quicker to cut out and sew two similar things. However, a downside to this approach is that when you make a mistake, you sometimes make it twice as I did in this case where I sewed a zipper opening that was not the same size as either of the zippers I had purchased  (I realized later that I had lined up the wrong end of the ruler so I was off by an inch without realizing it) and had to delay finishing my projects while I waited for a new order of the right sized zippers to arrive.

Make a muslin and check the fit, even for this simple pattern. I have narrowed the shape of this shift just slightly to make it a bit less triangular which I think is more flattering for my shape and I grade the hemline slightly so that the back is a bit longer than the front, as I do when I make the Beatrix tunic.

That is really all to say that is new. Here are some pictures of the process.  A sad zipper that is too small for its opening as seen below.image I blame the ruler that has different numbers on the two sides. Of course, I was looking at the wrong side when I measured. I took this picture May 19th and then the project sat as Me Made May sped by and then it was June. More pictures of the Brumby zipper opening technique.imageHem facings in process: step 1imageStep 2imageStep 3imageSleeve facings

Many views of the neckline. I like the tiny bit of color peeking out.imageNeckline with zipper. A little wonky but the nubby fabric hides all.imageNeckline selfie. It’s a little higher than the Beatrix, a little 60’s looking. I like it with the linen. That’s my dad at a young age in the background. My sewing room walls are covered with my favorite pictures.imageFront of finished dress once againimageBack of  finished dressimageInside of dress frontimageand backimage

 

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