Out and About Shirts

That’s what I am calling this new bunch of shirts – my “Out and About Shirts”.  I can’t remember the order in which I sewed them, but here’s one of the earlier ones.


8082 three quarter sleeveOne trip to the craft thrift store provided me with a large haul of seersucker fabrics for $1/pound.  There were several colors – blue, yellow, pink, red, and purple.  So far I have sewn the blue and pink versions.  This is the basic 3/4 sleeve shirt with the 8082 collar and one pocket.  The only drawback to this shirt is that it is a little see-through, so it requires a camisole to be worn with it.  That’s not too bad considering that seersucker comes out of the wash with very few wrinkles and little need for ironing.

The first try at a popover top resulted in this red and white shirt:

Popover top variations_0003 (3)

This fabric is light and slightly textured but was easy to sew and washes well.  I was worried that a popover top would bind around the middle when the wearer sat down, so I measured carefully and used my best guess on width also adding side vents.  This was successful on the first try.

Today a new shirt is in the works using up an 8-yard cut of fabric also purchased at the craft thrift store.  That will make the 3rd shirt cut from this fabric.  The first shirt is done but the collar style didn’t look very good on me so will go to my sister.  This shirt has the collar from McCalls 6076 altered to fit the neckline, or maybe I altered the neckline to fit the collar.

All I have left to do on this one are sewing the sleeves, hemming, and buttons.


Pattern Evolution

It’s a shirt factory around here.  I decided that there was a need for more shirts/blouses that I could use for different occasions but mostly for running errands, grocery shopping, etc.  The shirt would have to be comfortable with good ease across the back for reaching, carrying parcels, and driving.  I tried on some of my older shirts and decided that the one that I liked the best was McCalls 8082:

The original garment was simple with no darts, boxy cut, simple collar and short or long sleeves.  Here’s a sketch of the original which I used when I worked in an office and had to look OK but still lift boxes and whatnot.

The basic shape was good but 3/4 sleeves would be better, and I wanted to try different collars.  The shirt evolved into this:

This version had a collar and stand, and the front facing has been changed to a double-fold placket.  The side seams were changed a little to have more shaping and not be so boxy.  I made this version in several colors of seersucker and some linen and several prints.

Then I saw some pictures of popover blouses and decided to try that.  To make sure the bottom width wouldn’t be too tight without the front opening, vents were added to the sides.  I had to get out some of my pattern drafting and sewing books to figure out how to sew a front partial placket.  My first popover was a big success and so comfortable:

After I made a few of these, I got tired of sewing that placket and thought of a different way to get the same effect by using a seam across the front which created a shortened button band:

The above version also has a different collar style which worked out really well.

Next up will be the same thing but with a collar and stand, shown above, and then I’ll try the original 8082 collar, then a no-collar version with embroidery:

So far this has been very fun, is whittling down my stash, and I like always having a shirt available for my errands, car trips, and other more formal events depending on the fabric used.

These jackets started with the basic pattern I made with Sure-Fit Designs.  First came the hooded vest and then I decided to put long sleeves on it.  Once or twice a year the local fabric store has an excellent sale on fleece, so I usually just buy any color or print that I like.  This means I have tons of fleece in the fabric stash, but this year and last I used up some of it making vests and these jackets.

The facings are cut from the same fleece and are interfaced with an iron-on knit interfacing.  I don’t recall having much trouble with the buttonholes.  The cuffs do not have plackets or buttons but are just circular and topstitched and are just big enough to slide my hand through.  The sleeve is gathered to the cuff and I first wondered if that would look strange, but I really like it.

After a solid color jacket, I decided to try a print just for fun.

I’m not sure how you would style a print like this, but since it will probably make its debut when I’m doing yard work, the only thing that matters is that the colors make me happy.

There are more vests and jackets planned but right now I’m sewing the first summer shirt to see how the pattern tweaks I made work out.

There are about a half dozen hooded vests in my wardrobe now, but the stash is still full of fleece so it wouldn’t hurt to make some more.  It’s great to have a standard winter wardrobe that doesn’t require much thought but is comfortable and practical.  Now the summer future wardrobe needs some work.  My life is mostly at home, but there are errands to run even when it is 100+ degrees out there.  For running errands, the summer wardrobe needs to have pants (got tons of those) and cool, modest tops that allow lots of movement.  I’ve been paying attention to what I reach for the most, and I seem to really like the shirts I made from McCall’s 8082 adapted for 3/4-length sleeves.  This pattern is not closely fitted so stays cool to wear, has dropped shoulders, a yoke, and a pleat in the back which gives it lots of “reach”.  I make it in almost a tunic length.  My copy of the pattern is so old that it needed to be traced, and I thought it would be better to draft out a new 3/4-length sleeve.

I’ve made lots of camp shirts from this pattern, but the 3/4-length sleeves look a little more feminine and pulled together.  This is a casual working shirt for errands and driving the car, so the looser fit and wider back work well for that.  This black blouse in a fabric with nice drape is a favorite of mine and looks much better on than it does on a hanger.  It looks nice and you can still carry two bags of groceries.  For more formal wear I’ll use the Sure-Fit Designs shirts because they are more fitted.

The old worn pattern was traced onto butcher paper and all the pieces were cut out.  Now I am ready to cut out a few blouses and get sewing.

New Tablecloth

Quickly changed the color on the machine and hemmed up another tablecloth.  I got this fabric by the pound at the craft thrift store, and I think it makes a very attractive tablecloth.

The decorator fabric is usually 54 inches or more wide, and for my table I cut a 72″ length.  With the hemming finished, it should be about 70″ long.  I hem them with a double turn under and stitch the corners down with a square or triangle.

Now to go through all the UFOs and pick out something to sew next.


Red Shirt

For some reason, probably the slippery easy-to-fray fabric, this project just took forever.  I couldn’t start any other projects until I finished this one or it would never get done, so it just lingered around for a long long time.  However, this week I decided to clear my path for other, more-fun sewing, so I tried to work on it every day.  Finally I remembered that I would be seeing my daughter on Saturday when we would go to a family event (my nephew’s wife graduated from nursing school!) so I made the effort and finished sewing on the last button Friday night.

Since we were down in Monterey when I gave A the shirt, she said she would send me a picture of her wearing it.  We have a rule:  if I sew something for you, there is an obligatory try on of the garment.  Here is her selfie:

It doesn’t look too bad after being squished in a ziplock bag all day.  Her mirror is one of a set of curvy, wavy mirrors.

Now I am free to start another project.  I usually hem a tablecloth for a palate cleanser, so that’s what I’ll do.  I have some nice blue and white decorator fabric I got at the craft thrift store that will do nicely.



Sewing is finally getting started again around here but for the last month or so there has been cupboard organizing and some decluttering happening instead.

My first big project was the bookshelf in the entry hall that was a big mess.  A few new containers later and it was neat and surprisingly has stayed that way.It’s really handy to have the baskets for sunglasses and keys and the bin on the left top for the grocery bags that have to go back into the car (this crazy state charges you for grocery bags so I made my own).  I also bought a little white trash can for the umbrellas and walking sticks that used to fall down every time someone walked by.  Much better now.

Then I tackled the pantry cupboards in the dining area.  I got some storage containers and shelf dividers and everything changed from chaos to order:


Sometimes I just like to stand there and gaze at the neatness of it all.  Plus, the plastic containers for food storage in another cupboard no longer fall out on my head.

Now it is time to start sewing again.  I am working on another shirt for A in a pretty cranberry color.  Also have to take photos of the two fleece jackets I made for myself, but tomorrow is another day.

Delayed Sewing

The new year got off to a good start but then both the spouse and I and both daughters caught the current awful cold that was going around.  It takes weeks to get over but we are finally getting our energy back, and I have been back at the sewing machine.  The knit vest I made last year has been a success so it seemed like a good idea to make more.  Then the idea of putting sleeves on it  led to lots of pattern drafting and one of my most successful recent makes.  This was so great that I made another one.  Both are in the wash right now so I’ll take pictures of them when they are ready.  While we are waiting for that, here’s the Waverly fabric (a craft thrift store find) apron that I showed cut out in the last post.


It just pulls on on over the head.  Those side tabs are strips that connect the back to the front.  I changed the bottom from curved to square and added a little to the sides so that they could just be hemmed with a double turn instead of bias tape.

I liked this fabric so much and didn’t have enough to make anything big, and white backgrounds on a bag don’t work for me, so making an apron was a good choice.  The fabric is a nice decorator weight, too.

Now I have another shirt cut out for A, so better go change the thread on the machine.

Almost Christmas

It is stressful around here to shop for Christmas because, though it is soooo much easier to order things online without having to go to the crowded mall, we have had several packages stolen off the porch in the past year.  Crooks even follow the delivery trucks around and nab the package right after it lands on the porch.  I have to manage the deliveries and be home when they are due to arrive which isn’t easy.  For example, the last package, a book, was supposed to be delivered on Thursday, then they said there was a delay and it was due on Friday, then another snafu and the following Tuesday was the day, then another delay and Monday was the due date, then it was delivered on Sunday as a total surprise when I opened the front door and found it on the mat.  Anyhow, all have now safely arrived so there is just Christmas baking left to do.

With all that out of the way, it is time to get sewing again.  I am going to be making some shirts for A, and decided to change the collar.  I don’t think she really cares for a collar and stand so I changed the collar to one I see a lot on Japanese patterns.  I also saw an interesting and easier way to sew the cuffs on a lady’s shirt at church, so I may try that next. Here’s the first version nearly finished:

dsc02399All that is left to do is make the buttonholes and sew on the buttons.  I had to wait for A to come home for a visit to see how high the top button should be.

There are several projects all cut out and ready to go:  dsc02401This will be a shirt for the husband for Christmas.  


Above is an aqua knit for another vest.  I have no idea why the camera decided it should have a pink background since it was white in real life.


This will be an apron cut from a nice length of Waverly fabric I got at the craft thrift shop. ↑

dsc02405Another apron

There have been some changes made to my regular apron pattern to do away with all the bias tape and make it faster to sew.  The first one I changed was a great success so I am making a few more and using up some decorator fabric remnants.





Lingerie Month

I have spent the last month and a half sewing lingerie for my daughter.  But since I am never going to put pictures of my daughter’s underwear online, I don’t have much to show in the sewing department.  The last time I had a lingerie marathon like this was about two years ago, and I have found that I forgot most of the techniques I had learned about bra making, etc.  I had to relearn a lot of things, but now I am on a roll and working on the sixth and seventh bras.  This time I am trying lots of new fabrics, most of which I found at the craft thrift store in the ‘lycra’ bin.

One thing I learned that has been a tremendous help is how to cut and coat underwires.  I have a big stash of underwires that I bought on sale, but most are too long.  These articles caused me to go buy some heat-shrink tubing, hardcore wire pliers, and a heat gun:



I am using the Bolyston Bra pattern and we love it.  I made several with the regular fabric straps, and then several with the strap attachment point moved over a bit and some premade elastic straps I had in the stash.

After I finish this project, I think I will make a few more fleece vests and some more shirts.  It will be nice to sew on something that is less finicky and has no elastic.