Faux leather fun for Fall

After a bunch of head scratching, pattern hacking, self-drafted projects- I decided I needed a straightforward- out of the envelope make.  For this project- I went totally auto pilot.  I liked the styling of this Cynthia Rowley Simplicity 1314 pattern view so much, I absolutely (shamelessly) copied it- down to the shoes.


 Armed with my leftover faux leather and this pattern, I made the exact dress; exactly out of the envelope; in exactly one size; in exactly the same suggested fabric.  But there you go- I like it and I’m glad I did.

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I think this dress pattern is super flattering and the fit is perfect. I will definitely re-visit it again- perhaps with a more creative mind!

Because I made absolutely no modifications and the pattern is straightforward - all I really need to talk about is the ease of working with faux leather- if you haven’t before- and also give a shout out the fabulous quality of this particularly beautiful faux leather from Emma One Sock.

Can an imitation be better than the real deal? Faux literally means fake or imitation- not super appealing.  But, after working with this, I am a faux fan.  When I wore this dress last week, a friend asked if it was real leather.  Well-I guess that’s the goal.


The only extra step I took was to change my sewing machine needle to a leather needle.  Other than that- everything was straight forward.  This leather has the tiniest bit of stretch so it works perfectly with the black ponte I paired it with- also from Emma One Sock.

 Similar to ponte- the faux leather does not fray and is very stable. 

I am typically careful pressing ponte- I (almost) always press on the wrong side- and use a press cloth on the right side.  This faux leather is viscose backed- so you can feel safe pressing on the back side.  And I used a press cloth on the front with the faux leather- the manufacturer notes you can use a medium heat iron on this fabric.


My other faux leather project this month is this super simple bomber jacket.


This jacket was meant to be fast and easy.  The jacket is unlined because the viscose back on this fabric is surprisingly comfortable.  And I didn’t need to finish the seams because the simple cut edges on the faux leather are so sharp and clean.


Unlike the easy out-of-the envelope dress- this simple looking bomber is actually a hack of three patterns.  I had a jewel neck raglan jacket pattern– but the sleeves were too full- so I fiddled with those and modified a piece from another pattern.  Last, I used a collar and facing pattern piece from a traditional bomber pattern.  The ribbing gets five stars for really pulling this all together.

The only notable thing I did on this jacket is hand hemming.  I didn’t have enough ribbing to finish the bottom of the jacket- like a typical bomber- so I opted for a straight hem.  I experimented with topstitching on this fabric but I didn’t like how it looked.  So I attached seam binding on the hem for a little extra length- and sewed it up by hand. In the end, I really prefer this straight finish over a ribbed trim finish.


Liberty Blouse Pattern Trifecta

I have been making and wearing cotton shirts for ages.  They tend to fall into one of two camps: 1) the button down -sometimes these lean a bit to the stuffy/workwear side; and 2) the boxy top with sleeve variations -sometimes these lean simple and perhaps a little shapeless.  For this cotton top, I wanted a softer version of the standard button down.  I imagined a blouse with a collar band- but no pointy collar- an easy popover style with soft gathers and a bit of shape.  After scouring blouse patterns until I went a bit bleary eyed- I landed on not one, not two, but three patterns- to mash together for this Liberty project.  The bright side is that I already own all these patterns- which makes sense, because – well — the design elements were calling to me


I like the collar band on McCalls 7360 – see how nice and flat it lays on the neckline!  But I don’t want darts and I want a wee bit fuller blouse, so I like the soft gathers front and back on the McCalls 7324. But- I don’t love the pleat in front on that pattern.  I also decided to pass on the two piece sleeve in both McCall’s patterns and prefer a simple (albeit pretty traditional) sleeve from the Grainline Archer.


My pattern mashing steps are elementary.  I line up the shoulders and waist markings- in this case from McCalls 7324 and 7360. I used McCalls 7360 as the base -including collar and placket- and modified by adding fullness from 7324.  I used the entire back piece from 7324. The sleeve cap from McCalls two-piece sleeve was nearly identical to the Grainline Archer sleeve, so I simply cut the Grainline sleeve and cuff pieces.

It is not the perfect blouse- but it is getting close.


Let’s take a moment to not only admire the great Liberty print, but extol the virtues of this Tana lawn.  Tana lawn is the perfect fabric for blouse making.  This cotton is woven so tightly, you never are in danger of fraying.  The fabric is lightweight but incredibly stable , all seams are simple.  French seams are also a breeze because there is no danger of slip sliding with this fabric.


Parting comments are confessional- I made an ENORMOUS pattern matching mistake.  Kind of a forest for the trees issue.  In fact, I un-picked the placket and re-attached it because I originally put the placket fabric in upside down.  I think I stared at the fabric so intensely to determine what was up and what was down, that I TOTALLY missed the vertical design- see red flowers below. Oh man- I was devastated when I tried it on and noticed it. Sadly, my blouse is completely off.  There is absolutely no way to salvage this- I used up all of the fabric.  Liberty fabric is such an asset- this may get unpicked and transformed into something more perfect. But, I will wear it a few times as is- mostly to analyze this pattern trifecta for comfort and wearability.


Riff on a wrap

My most recent wrap dress was pretty traditional- but my second wrap project has some cool and new elements:  notably the d- ring closure and the super straight silhouette.  This is the Utu skirt from Named pattern’s Breaking the Pattern. I have been steadily working my way through this gem of a book.

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Wrap skirts - maybe even more than the wrap dress- are a crowd-pleasing wardrobe element. I have owned several- and they were also the run-away FAVORITE beginner sewing project when I was a student. When I went to middle school, female students were REQUIRED to take a sewing class and many chose to make a wrap skirt-remember: no zips and no buttons- but none were as cool and stylish as the Utu.


I love the look of this quick and easy to make skirt. Be forewarned- you will need to curb your gymnastic moves as there isn’t a lot of fabric overlap on this wrap.  This skirt looks fabulous when standing at attention- or practicing your mountain pose (Namaste), but pay attention when bending or leaping.

I used Robert Kaufman Jetsetter twill- which has a little stretch and great recovery- from Fabric.com

The skirt is high waisted which is adorable on the pattern model- but I am long waisted- and short on the leg front.  So I modified the waistline by adjusting the darts. 


I had this blue and white stripe in my stash- of unknown origins and unknown – or long forgotten -fiber content. One thing is clear- it is not cotton and it is fairly stiff. The fabric properties didn’t exactly match my idea for the top- but the color was a perfect match for this blue skirt- so I improvised…the sleeves may need modification.

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Wearing the pants: True Bias Lander

Wearing the fabulous Lander pants- finally!  You might be thinking I am rather late to make the infamous, celebrated, honored, and lauded Lander pant by True Bias- and you would be correct.


The thing is, I am a bit biased to making dresses. I absolutely love making and wearing dresses.  And, truth be told, I don’t know if I ever had a pair of pants ready made or otherwise that were truly comfortable, flattering and well-fitting.  But that was before I made the Lander pants.

And here’s a bit of a dress-making back-story.  I grew up in a small town and I wore a uniform –a simple plain blue pinafore- to primary school every day.  Besides a few play outfits, I didn’t have many other clothes.  I dreamed of owning and wearing a closet full of dresses. Because there weren’t many ready-made dress choices in my little town and funding was an issue, I figured the best way to accomplish my dream was to learn to make dresses for myself.  So, I begged my Mom to teach me to sew.  She put me off until -left to my own devices at my grandma’s with a swath of fabric, scissors, and access to her ancient sewing machine one lazy Sunday- I made myself a dress.  When my Mom came to pick me up and I was decked out and proud in my completely self-drafted cobbled together hand-made dress- she finally agreed to teach me to sew.  And my dressmaking odyssey began.

So- back to these Landers. These pants might rival some of my favorite dresses and convert me to a lover of pants.  They are comfortable and the pattern is so flattering.  And they are pretty close to a perfect fit.   I did not make a muslin and I would only add a few fitting tweaks to the next pair.  These are probably my best fitting pants right now.


The pattern is well drafted and the instructions are clear and straightforward.  This pattern is definitely deserving of the praise and legions of followers.

Amazingly- I discovered the Lander sizing is very close to my measurements.  Extra bonus- this pattern is drafted for a 5’5” individual- just an inch taller than me.  And although a muslin is recommended- I felt so encouraged and emboldened by these similarities- I simply cut a size 6 and went for it.

I used the Lander fly zipper expansion- I like the clean look and don’t want to fiddle with buttons on the fly.  The zipper pattern and instructions were clear and easy to follow. I also eliminated the pockets- because I may be one of the few people out there who is ok without garment pockets and I am always looking to reduce midsection bulk- both front and back.

The Jetsetter Twill I purchased from Lakes Makerie turns out to be the pant fabric of my dreams.  This is such an awesome color and a perfect weight and smooth twill face.  The fabric has stretch-love that in pants- with great recovery- no bagging out.


The shirt is a mash-up: self-drafted somewhat including bits and pieces of various patterns.  It is not super successful so it doesn’t deserve a discussion except to note that the fabric is the best, lightest weight, silky cotton lawn- purchased from Mood Fabrics.. 


Feminine, flattering and French- Majestic Aime Comme Marie

Here I am dabbling in French style in the flattering and feminine Majestic from French pattern maker: Aime Comme Marie.  I am always on the lookout for a pretty and versatile top pattern, and I was inspired by the lovely Bee Made’s fabulous creations sewn from predominantly indie French pattern makers.  The only hindrance to ordering French patterns- and cultivating French style- when you live in the middle of the United States is the international shipping cost- ouch.


The Aime Comme Marie website indicates the printed pattern includes English instructions- but when the pattern arrived, I discovered that the English directions were very brief and a wee bit rough.  Thankfully, the line drawings included with the French instructions need no translation. I also found the top to be well drafted and it was straightforward to put together.


One other caution- I was a little disappointed that there was no mention that the pattern did not include seam allowances. The instructions didn’t discuss this- and even though it was somewhat evident from the pattern pieces- I did an internet check to confirm.  I know it isn’t a huge deal, and I get the flexibility - but adding seam allowances makes me a bit grouchy.


These are minor grumbles compared to the pay off for this pattern.  I am more than pleased with this flattering and stylish top.  Note the cute little scallop cut out at the hem. There are similar scallop cut out details at each sleeve hem. The fit of this pattern is fabulous for me.  I cut an extra small and graded to a small at the hip. 

The fabric is a delightful mid-weight Japanese cotton from Lakes Makerie- which perfect for this structured top. This fabric washes beautifully and -even though it’s cotton- it is wrinkle resistant. An excellent match for this stylish pattern.