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Pattern Drafting: How to draft a leg of mutton sleeve

I noticed some time ago that drawing – even if it’s a 5 minute sketch – really helps me understand the construction details of a garment or a pattern. It also helps me remember more. In a way, for pattern drafting, sketching is like note-taking. Today, I wanted to share this interesting type of sleeve: the leg of mutton sleeve. That name!

The idea for this sleeve, comes from my go to pattern drafting bible, Helen Armstrong’s Patternmaking for Fashion Design.  I talked about this book before in these posts on the how to use flat pattern making to draft a bodice front and a bodice back.

Her drafting technique, based on creating shape and volume from your own measurements is really the best way to create made-to-fit garments, but I know many sewers don’t have the patience and the time to create their own bodice blocks. The techniques Armstrong details in her book can be applied on any basic pattern piece, in this case, a sleeve.

It would look really posh on an evening gown and fun on a structured jersey knit top. It can turn a simple top into a fancy garment, no matter the fabric, with just a little bit of cut and slash magic. The more you open the slashes, the more volume you are going to create.

The leg of mutton sleeve, also known as gigot sleeve, appears in fashion during the 19th century and gets its name from the voluminous gathers of fabric from the shoulder line to the elbow, and, of course, it’s resemblance to the elegant leg of a mutton 🙂

If you’re not convinced yet,  I wrote an inspiration post a while ago, focused on exactly this kind of leg of mutton /puff sleeve.

 

Tie Dye Flared Knit Top

This is actually a short sleeve top I made almost two years ago (!), I just drafted the pattern using a t-shirt I already owned and, instead of cutting the body of the top at the sleeve point, I continued the shoulder line, perpendicular to the neck line. I explained how to create the flare, in the How to make a flared waist tank top blogpost.

self_drafted_short_sleeve_knit_top_back

The construction is very simple: I first sewed the shoulders seams together, then the side seams. I then finished the flutter sleeves, the neckline and the bottom hem. Very simple and very practical.

Garment notes:

Sewing pattern: self-made. Similar to this one I described here.

Things I wish I’d done differently: Maybe use a more drapey knit?

Fabric: 1.1 meters tie-dye knit I bought in Barcelona for maybe a couple of euros.

No notions, thread from my stash.

Final cost = a couple of euros 🙂

How to make a flared waist tank top (pattern drafting basics)

I wanted to show you a very easy pattern drafting for a top that flares from the bust down. To draft this, I first traced around a tank top I already owned and fit me well. The best top to trace from is a top in a similar fabric than the one you are going to sew you new top. If you’re using a woven fabric for your new top, use a woven fabric old top. If you’re using a stretchy knit, the more similar the stretchiness in your RTW (ready to wear) to your new fabric, the closest the fit will be for your new garment.

So, as I said, I just traced the tank top (you can use a t-shirt as well) for parts 1 and 2 in the pattern below and then for the pattern piece number 3, I added a curved wedge to the side.

You can move where the flare starts by marking your bust point on the pattern or have the flare start from the waist for a peplum effect. You can make it just a little bit flared, or design a very dramatic flare.

If you extend the top you can create a very simple trapeze shaped dress.

how to make a flowy tank top

That’s it for today. Happy sewing and pattern drafting 🙂

Later edit: I see that Caroline Amanda also published a hack of the Sewaholic Renfrew top, but in her wonderfully explained tutorial, the volume starts at the shoulders, and not under the bust like my top. Fun stuff!

Upcycled: blue wool Oslo cardigan to tiny vest

As happy as I was when I first made this wool Oslo cardigan, and as much as I tried to wear it outside the house, the cardigan just didn’t work! It was just so itchy! It was itchy even on top of two layers, so lining it would have not worked.

So I washed it cold and dried it hot in the drier to see if the felted wool would be a bit less itchy. The cardigan was oversized so it worked, but alas, it was still itchy. I washed it with conditioner in an attempt to make it even less itchy, but that didn’t really make it wearable either, so again into the washing machine it went, to felt even more.

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Miraculously, this time the fabric was nice and soft. So I cut it up and made this tiny vest. I used the felted wool sleeves for making guest slippers.

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I sewed some metallic snaps to keep the vest in place.

I’m still not completely sure I love it, but it’s really warm and I’ve already worn it outside twice. It doesn’t look very bag with a dress either. And it all else fails, it’s a great little layer under my coat too.

Green textured knit dress (a modified Mesa sewing pattern)

Happy 2016! May this be the year in which you create a masterpiece. This could be sewn, knitted, crocheted, embroidered and even just imagined in your head 🙂

The post today is about another Mesa dress version. After making my first version and realising I wasn’t very comfortable with that neckline (it’s beautiful, I just think a raised neckline is easier to layer + you don’t need to worry about lingerie straps showing). So I raised it a bit. A bit too much, I think, but this is a cold weather dress, so that’s good.

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I used a beautiful textured dark green/petrol jersey I found at Fabricland in the discount box.  Thick and warm (a little bit too plastic for wearing on bare skin, but perfect for layering.

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Since I had already sewn this, I could quickly make modifications to the pattern, cut it and sew it. In spring, I’ll use this to make a fun and vibrant version. Maybe flowers. Maybe cats. Maybe both (just kidding :)).

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Garment notes:

Sewing pattern: Mesa with the subscription 4 CAD (since I’ve already used it for another dress, I will calculate as 2 CAD)

Pattern notes: after making the pink ponte knit mesa I realised the boat neckline wasn’t the easiest to layer so I’ve redrafted it. I was a bit anxious that I will ruin this fabric as I didn’t make a muslin, but it worked out !

Next time I can lower the neckline a bit.

Fabric: 1.2 meters speciality textured knit 7 CAD

No notions, thread from my stash.

Final cost = 9 CAD

Not too shabby!

10 interesting leg of mutton (puffy) sleeve garments

I the holidays are here this calls for some serious funky dress. We want to look stunning. yet be comfy enough to play with the toddlers and (while) helping ourselves with a second serving of cake.

What a better way to draw attention to your beautiful face and away from your happy belly than some truly radical leg of mutton sleeves. Mm…leg of mutton .. anyway!

The first one is also the most striking. “This is not a winter dress! What is this?” you’ll say. But think about it. You can layer it on top of leggings. Wear a coat. I wonder what Oona would have to say about this 🙂

The second and third puffy sleeves are just as big as they can get without causing too much distress to aunts and uncles.

But this one is just genius! I also love the knitted vest on top and the colour (even though I do not and will not own anything in that colour!)

I kind of want to make this see-through one right away. I will probably never wear it like you’re supposed to be wearing it, but I still like it for some reason!

This sleeve is barely leg of muttony  but that extra volume and the sheer fabric? Amazing!

I love everything about this blouse, the fabric, her outfit!

Last but not least, what about a leg of mutton sleeve jacket? It might end up looking like my funny-not-so-funny knitted sweater, but it might also end up looking really good.

Another dress that I love. I always try to do things with velvet and always (but always) fail miserably. But it looks so good.

And last but not least, what about a leg of mutton sleeve lounge top? So cute!

Thanks for reading my puffy sleeve rant :> Would you wear a leg of mutton sleeve top/dress?

Magenta ponte knit Mesa

I had this thick knit in my stash for a very long time, maybe more than 3 years. It was one of the fabrics that I brought with me when we moved to Canada, because it was beautiful and I wanted to make something I would wear for a long time. When Seamwork magazine introduced Mesa I finally decided to cut into this fabric.

It wasn’t all fun and games though. I spend an entire day stitching and unstitching. Neither my serger and my sewing machine wanted to sew this with the matching thread I had bought for this. My twin needle snapped too.

In the end I had to let it marinate for a week and get back to it with a calmer mood and ready to be ok with sewing it with white thread. I bought a new twin needle. This snapped as well. I might have not been completely zen in the end.

I finished the whole dress in tiny zig zag stitch.

ponte knit mesa dress back

Looking at the photos I notice there’s a lot of extra fabric at the back, any ideas how I can fix this? Would darts work?

This fabric is very interesting, yet so difficult to work with. When you look at it, it seems like a really nice sweater knit with a soft inside and a crisp outside of the fabric. But the elastic fibres in the knit are quite strong (it reminds me a big of scuba fabric) so even though it’s elastic it doesn’t drape too much and it’s quite rigid for a knit. It doesn’t feel like plastic at all though and I am hoping that after a few washes and drying cycles the fabric will loosen up a bit. We’ll see.

Note to self: never again wear this dress with these leggings, the stitching seams are not flattering at all 🙂

Pattern: Mesa with the subscription 4 CAD (since I’ve already used it for another dress, I will calculate as 2 CAD)

Pattern notes: I removed the slits at the hemlines and make 3/4 sleeves. I cut an M because I didn’t remember if I pre-washed the fabric (oops 🙂 and ended up grading the to an S around the waistline.

Next time I want to alter the neckline as I am not completely happy with the boat neckline. It looks great as it is but when you layer, problems happen 🙂 Plus I don’t like my lingerie straps to be showing. Also, I should make a long sleeve version as well.

Fabric: 1.3 meters thick, rich, elastic knit that broke two double needles (aargh!) and was a pain to sew! I bought this from a trip a few years ago and I don’t remember how much I paid for it. Let’s say a 10.

Notions: Doble needle 15 (never buy your double needles at the fabric store!), thread from my stash.

Final cost = 27 CAD

I’ve already worn it twice so cost per use is already 13.5 😉

My light chambray Adelaide dress

There are several reasons why I loved sewing the Adelaide dress from Seamwork. First, because the magazine really inspires me, from the patterns created to the thoughtfulness of the articles. And it’s that thoughtfulness that is contagious.

This dress is supposed to take three hours to sew, but I made it across several weekends, cutting it slowly, then sewing it slowly and finishing it, you’ve guessed it, equally slowly. Which is something I’m trying to learn how to do.

I really like the pattern and how it’s cut. It’s like Sarai knows women have curves and where those curves are located 🙂

I didn’t make any adjustments to the pattern, except raising the waistline and shortening the bottom hem. I’ve initially made the bottom a size larger and graded it, because I’ve seen other versions of the Adelaide where the bottom part was wrinkling at the hips and I wanted to avoid it, but that wasn’t necessary so in the end I had to remove that extra fabric.

I like how the neckline is shaped as well. One little trouble I have is a gap between the first and second snaps. Do you have any suggestions for that? What did I do wrong?

Otherwise, I think it looks quite nice from the back and I can see myself layering this with tights and a shirt. I most definitely want to make another one. Maybe one with sleeves? 🙂

I’d like making this in a light denim and try my hand at buttons and buttonholes. I enjoyed Seamwork’s challenge to use snaps. I really like snaps, just don’t like when they snap out of your fabric!

Harem style house pants

I’ve actually made these pants two summers ago and forgot to post them. I wanted to link to them the other day in the How to shop your closet with Pinterest post and realised they were nowhere to be found.

floral harem style pants

These pants were fun to make and fun to wear: a light batiste with pink roses (a type of fabric that I love looking at but never end wearing) and a little bit of elastic thread and they were ready in a couple of hours. I used another pair of pants I had as a pattern and got too lazy to make pockets, which is a pity because I love pockets in everything.

floral harem style pants with an elastic (shirred) waist

I had initially intended to make these to wear outside, but they looked too loungey for me. (As a note, I keep referring to them in the past, as they’ve been donated and hopefully found a new home.)

floral harem style pants back detail

I liked how the waistband turned out, even if I made the waist too high. As they reminded me a bit of yoga pants I folded the waistband down and I thought that looked even better than my original plan.

Mistakes I’ve made with these pants:

  • They would have been better lounge pants if the fabric I chose was a bit elastic
  • The crotch was too low, even for lounge pants
  • I should have elasticized a larger area of the waistband (or maybe the sides? Hmm…) –> like these they were just 2% too tight when pulling them up

Good things I’ve made with these pants:

  • They are unintentional cool pajamas
  • I’ve serged everything first, them sewn very neatly
  • I tried to face my fear of wearing tiny floral prints (and failed!)

That’s about it with the easy to sew harem style pants, I just wanted to document and share 🙂

What about you? Do you wear tiny floral prints outside the house? Around the house?

 

3 new pages from my sketchbook

Do you sketch? I’ve recently started documenting some of the things I like and would try to make and I’ve noticed that sketching not only allows me to better imagine the final garment, but it also helps with the need to make a million things, because sketching somehow counts as a creative process, so I can change my mind about a garment before I sew something that will never be worn outside the house. Like these pj pants, for example : (

sketchbook two blouses, trumpet sleeves and embroidered blouse

Some of these are garment sketches start from something I found on Pinterest, but drawing them gives me the space to add my own ideas and to futher make something mine.

It also serves as a work in progress tool for garments I would love to make but I’m not quite sure how yet, like the cutout embroidery top above. My grandma used to make this with her old Singer machine, so I could try to make this with a dense zigzag. But I might also embroider this by hand.

sketchbook two more tops, pleats and embroidery

For other items, like the tiny pleats and embroidery top or the sleeveles turtleneck top above it helps me visualise the final piece and the fit. For the first one I really have to make sure I find a lightweight batiste, or something that both embroiders and pleats well. The second could turn out too boxy and unflattering for my figure if I choose a fabric that’s too stiff.

sewing sketchbook two blouses

I think with the multitude of inspiration sources we have nowadays and the many “I want!” we have to deal with, sketching pleasantly slows down the process of creating new garments, making it more rewarding and more meaningul at the same time.

So, do you sketch too? I’d love to see your notebook, or saved, preciously sketched napkins 🙂