The thoughts, sewing projects, and fabric oglings of a dedicated sewist.

Nothing Fancy: McCall's 6408 in Black


I made this ponte cardigan for myself a couple of weeks ago now.  I had just decided to abandon the Elisalex dress until spring (I couldn't make myself do the work of picking things apart and redesigning the skirt when I wouldn't be able to actually wear the dress for another 6 months), and I wanted a quickie palate cleansing project.  I've made this pattern up twice before for clients.  Since the weather has turned cold, I've found myself looking in my closet for a black cardigan and the only one I had was a mangy cotton one I bought from Target when I was pregnant.

The pattern is McCall's 6408.

The fabric is a yummy ponte knit from  I started out making View D but decided I didn't like the asymmetrical hemline so chopped it off to make View B.  View B turned out to be way too long for my body shape, so I chopped another 5 inches off the length and gave it a 1.5" hem, and this was perfect for what I wanted. Chopping the length meant that the ties were now disproportionately long, so I chopped 5" off each of them.  I didn't make any alterations to the fit - this garment is not fitted and looked fine as is (apart from the length that is - before I took it to the chopping block it looked like I was wearing a bathrobe).

I had to lighten these photos so that the cardigan details would be visible.
This left me so washed out I decided B&W was better.

The only other modification I made was to add a bit of elastic to the back since the ties come from the side seam and don't really shape the back on their own.  This is a simple technique I've used in the past to give shape to t-shirts or other loose-fitting garments.  I simply cut a 3" piece of 3/8" elastic, drew a horizontal line 4.5" long in the center back, and used a zig-zag stitch to sew the elastic to the line, stretching as I went.

When I make this again, I might add length to the ties so that I can wrap them around to the back and then to the front again, or I might use a wider elastic to gather the back a bit more.

While this seemed like a super boring project at the time, I've probably worn this cardigan 2-3 times a week. Boring, but useful!  At this rate, I'll wear the cardigan 60 times this winter (pretty good price per wear rate).   I'm thinking I might need another one in gray just to mix things up a bit.

I also made the scarf I'm wearing from leftover ponte knit (the taupe pieces are from the McCall's 6408 I made for a client and the purple pieces are from the Cake Tiramisu I made for a client).  I find I almost always have a strip of fabric about 6-8 inches wide left at the end of my yardage when I make up a knit/jersey project.  I've been turning these into fashion scarves (not to be confused with the kind of scarves you wear outside during a Midwest winter).  I'm pretty sure this is what Cora's teachers will receive as their Polderman present this year.

What's the best boring garment you own?

Multiplication by Duplication

One of my favorite requests from clients is to replicate an existing garment.  I enjoy doing this because I know the new garment will be a favorite because the client has already road-tested the style and fit, AND because there usually aren't any tricky fitting issues that come up in the process.  I use the method described in Steffani Lincecum's book Patternmaking for a Perfect Fit (I was pleased to note that Sunni of A Fashionable Stitch also recommends this book).  I'm also in the process of taking Kenneth King's Jean-ius Craftsy Course, so I'll have another method in my arsenal soon.

And can I just say how excited I am to copy my favorite jeans????!!  I bought my favs for $10 from Burlington Coat Factory.  The quality of the denim isn't great, so they only made it about a year, but I LOVE them.  Can't wait to have another pair in good quality denim (or 3 . . . and maybe one in stretch wool instead of denim . . .).

You can check out some of the other garments I've replicated here and here.  My latest request was to copy two favorite knit tops.  The first was a simple peplum top from Old Navy:

The only real change my client Susan wanted to make was to have the sleeves swapped to elbow-length.  

The biggest challenge in copying an existing garment is accuracy, which is fun for me because I get to unleash that meticulous, picky side of my personality (instead of inflicting it on my family, friends, or home).

Pinning side seam and waist seams

Pinning through onto paper (I iron the filler paper from shipped packages),
and I find it helps to wiggle the pin a bit to make the hole in the paper a bit bigger.

Connecting dots and adding seam allowance

Susan chose a jersey fabric that we found on for the peplum top, from Michael Miller's Heaven and Helsinki stretch jersey line.

I have the top paired with a jersey skirt I made for another client.

The second top was a black swing top with asymmetrical side seam inserts.  The original top suffered a bleach accident.  Susan wanted the sides changed so that they became symmetrical.  She chose a black bamboo/rayon jersey from Vogue Fabrics and a funky print jersey from Mood.  I didn't get a picture of the original, but here are the copies:

I have to say that this process still feels like making magic to me.  I'm always anxious that it won't work or won't fit well and (so far) it always does.  One of these days I'm going to get around to replicating my own fabric top, a poplin blouse I bought from Anthropologie about 10 years ago . . .