Summer nightgowns

A few years ago, in one of my many attempts to burn through stash, I sewed a summer nightgown from green nylon tricot .  (Why I had nylon tricot in my stash is a puzzle in itself.)  Though I’ve worn it plenty, this nightgown was never my first choice for sleepwear.

In the first place, Kwik Sew patterns (like Marcy Tilton’s Vogue patterns) never fit me properly in the shoulders despite any adoration I may feel for the pattern illustration.  Is it shoulder angle, width or what?  I don’t know and have seldom been able to arrive at any satisfactory result.

Most condemning, this nightgown was made from nylon–nylon–tricot.  Calling it hot and sticky in July is an understatement.

This spring I decided to replace it with a cooler version.  I wanted a thin fabric that draped and chose rayon jersey.  I found a couple of rayon/lycra blends at Fabric dot com and ordered them. Considering my patterns, I bypassed Kwik Sew 3342 in favor of TSW Ann’s Tank.  I love the fit of that and knew I could lengthen it a bit and have a great nightgown.

I added seven inches to the length and redrew the side seam straight down from the hip, eliminating the side drape.  I made the pink one first:

Ann's Tank as nightgown

After a sleep test, I decided that although this fabric does not have good recovery, the nightgown pattern is a winner. The only problem was that the hemline didn’t hang exactly right.  I had cut it straight across after lengthening, and the resulting garment still had a tiny drape at the side seams.

Happy I didn’t sew my favorite fabric first! I curved the pattern’s hemline a bit and commenced sewing version 2:

Another Ann's Tank nightgown

These were almost instant sewing gratification.  I made the second one from cutting to closet in less than an hour and a half.

This last one has not had a sleep test, but the fabric seems to have better recovery. If the washing machine and dryer don’t return the first one to it’s original shape, I’ll be shopping for more rayon/lycra jersey.

You know that won’t offend me at all!

More about my new tank

A couple of you asked just how I added the dart to my Tara’s Tank to make the waistline level.  This is also known as an FBA (full bust adjustment).  I don’t have a full bust, so I just call it adding a dart.  :-)

The dart gives me more length over the bust and allows the waistline to hang level on my body.  I believe this is also the cause of the swayback problem that folks are always trying to get rid of by shortening the back of the pattern. Things have to balance.  If your front isn’t long enough, you’ll see diagonal pulls going from the bust around to the back waist.

Think about it.  Balance.

Anyway, when I pinned the tissue together to test the pattern’s fit, I could see some gaping in the front armhole. On me that usually indicates the need for a dart.  I had already noticed the waistband problem on photos of the dress–not the ones on the pattern’s website, but on others I found modeled here and there.

When I looked at my pattern’s waistline, I could see a distinct shortening in the front below my bust.  I tied a band around my body at the level waist.   The back came down to the band and the front was raised up.  I measured the amount the front was raised above the level waist and made sure my dart added that much length to the front of the garment.

Clear as mud?

Perhaps some illustration will help.  Lesley suggested the (excellent) tutorial at Curvy Sewing Collective, which is exactly how I created my dart.  If you don’t need the extra width of that sort of dart, Shirley Adams illustrates a method which adds only length in step two of the Sewing Connection’s Darts, Darts, Darts page.

Hope that helps.

I have accepted a challenge to make a dress from this pattern by the next ASG neighborhood group meeting.  I’ve bought fabric–quilt shop cottons (can you say $$$)–that ought to be perfect for it.  Now that I’ve told you about it, I’m committed!


Tara’s Tank

I don’t know why I had not paid more attention to Serendipity Studio’s patterns before, but they were completely off my radar.  I vaguely remembered seeing the Sew Serendipity book, but hadn’t done more than notice the front cover.

That has changed!

Several weeks ago I saw a review for Serendipity Studio’s Tara’s Tank dress, and I was smitten! Like lots of women, I love quilter’s cottons.  The prints are so beautiful, but so wrong for most clothing patterns.  Happily these patterns are drafted specifically for the pretty prints!

I could not resist buying a copy Tara’s Tank for myself!  The beautiful photos on the website sucked me right in, and when I got my pattern I was delighted to see all the possible variations from tops to tunics to the maxi dress on the cover of the pattern.

Pattern envelope

I adore wearing this sort of dress in the summer, so a test was in order!  To make my test as simple as possible, I used the plain bodice with no decorative tucks and the plain skirt in the shortest length.

Upon unfolding the pattern, I noticed that the front and back of this dress is exactly the same width.  I’m bigger in the front, so after tissue fitting I chose to sew with the Medium front and the Small back.  I adjusted the side seams at the hem to make the two pieces fit.

Though my bust is relatively small, I also decided to add a bust dart.  If you search for photos of this dress made up, you’ll notice that the drawstring waistline hikes up on dresses made without adding a bust dart. (I hate that!) Mine is level due to the added length that the dart gave me.

Of course I used a cheap cotton from the clearance rack for my test with a scrap from my first pair of Frankie pants for the accents.


I am beyond thrilled with the way the top turned out.  It looks great with the matching Frankie pants, though it will work with several other garments in my closet.

Tara's Tank

The top was a quick sew, once I worked out the fitting.  Adding the tucks will make it take a bit more time, but I sewed this one in two sessions.

The style is a good one for me, giving some waistline definition without being too fitted. You can bet I’ll be sewing this again!


Meet Frankie!

For summer I wanted to sew some cropped pants that would be comfy and modest for anything from pulling weeds to grocery shopping.

I loved the flat front of my Vogue 8929s, the pockets of TSW’s West End pants, the legs and fit of McCall’s 6082, the back yoke of Simplicity 3796, and the back pockets off any old pair o’ jeans! How’s that for a list? Naturally there was no precise pattern for this, so I decided to create a mash-up of some of my favorite patterns’ bits and pieces.  You know, Frankenstein-style.

Frankie Plan

I started by tracing my old McCall’s 6082 cropped pants, then applied the West End pockets to the front.  Next I cut off the back yoke and found a jeans pocket with pressing templates already cut out.  Using some of my Craftsy fabric, I set to work!

Front Frankie #1 Back

The only thing I didn’t work out for this pair was the flat front.  Now that a test has been conducted, I know which way to go from here!  ;-)

A new skirt

Have you ever noticed that the more you nit-pick, the less you get done?  I’ve learned a few things from my muslins–mostly that sewing muslins doesn’t put clothes in the closet.

And right now, I *need* new clothes!  I’m still doing Project 333–I think it has been a full year since I first began.  I’m seeing more and more blog posts and videos about it.  Many are calling it a “minimalist” wardrobe, which I suppose it is. I never thought of it that way because “minimalism” always seemed synonymous with “deprived” to me.

Funny I don’t feel deprived at all with very few items in my closet.

It feels just right.

As usual at the beginning of a 3-month period, I’ve come up short.  I think I counted 20 items in my closet, necessitating a visit to winter’s storage box to get me by for a week or two.

Sewing was at a standstill as I had disposed of most of my fabric, and felt mostly uninspired when I perused the on-line offerings.  We won’t even talk about what’s available locally.

Last week Craftsy came to my rescue!  I usually don’t think fabric when I think Craftsy, but they happened to send me an advertisement for some kits on clearance.  When I was looking through them, I kept thinking “I like that fabric, but that pattern doesn’t suit me.”  Or worse, “I like that, but they are sold out of my size.”

Duh.  You don’t have to *use* their pattern.  Looking through the selection with new eyes, I found 5 nice fabrics in colors and fibers that suit me!

Simplicity 3796The one they were selling as “Gilded Garden Day Dress” found new life as a skirt.  I sewed this one from OOP Simplicity 3796, which I had previously only used for its cargo pockets.

I doubt I’ll sew it again–that little ruffly drawstring might not be me.  But it’s a wearable skirt and it matches three tops in my spring wardrobe!

The other Craftsy fabrics, cottons and linens, will be pants or cropped pants.  I’ll reach back for my old OOP McCall’s 6082 for at least one of those.  Four or five years ago I made two dandy pairs of capris with that pattern, and I only threw out the denim one last year.

If there’s enough fabric for another skirt, it will be Kwik Sew 3287.  I made that one back in 2008 and wore it out!

That’s enough bottoms for spring, I think.  I’m still wearing last year’s batch of  Old Navy tees on top, though I’m kind of tired of them.  Once I get some new bottoms done, I may think about some different tops to round out my capsule.