August 18, 2020

Allegro Skirt, Allegro Shorts and Harmony Blouse

 It has been a garment sewing few days around here and I've had some wins and one, well, not-win. Not really a loss, just not quite what I was hoping for. But it's all part of the process of learning something new, right?

I used cotton poplin from Riley Black Designs for everything in this post. I had never heard of poplin before I started making clothes, but I quickly learned that it's a beautiful woven fabric that acts just like quilting cotton for cutting and sewing - no slipping around or stretching! - but it has a nicer drape, so it hangs better than quilting cotton, which tends to look boxy when made into clothes. It's the perfect fabric for quilters who are interested in learning garment sewing. In fact, one of my first ever garments was made with poplin. And yes, you can learn to sew clothes, too 😊

I used two new-to-me Love Notions patterns for these garments. I've mentioned before that I love their patterns and these two are no exceptions. Their patterns don't assume you know what you're doing, so every step is spelled out very clearly and there are links to videos that help with trickier parts, which is a great feature.

I started out by making the Allegro knee length skirt. I bought a cheap sheet at a discount store to use for making test versions of these garments so I could check the fit before I cut into the poplin. I almost didn't bother for the skirt, since there's not a lot of areas for fit to go awry in a skirt, but it was still nice to be sure the waistband was going to fit before I cut my good fabric.

The Allegro pattern, which includes two skirt lengths, two shorts lengths and full length pants, uses 1 ½" elastic inside the waistband, and then you stitch right through the elastic, while stretching the elastic out. I had serious visions of snapping all that thread the first time I actually tried to put the skirt on, but it works perfectly. 

Allegro skirt | DevotedQuilter.com

I love the skirt! It's so comfortable and light feeling. And the charcoal grey poplin will go with just about everything, so I know it's going to get a lot of wear. I wore it the day after I finished it, actually.

And did I mention that it has pockets???? Oh, how I love a skirt with pockets! These ones are deep enough to hold my phone.

Allegro skirt | DevotedQuilter.com

Feeling rather pleased with myself, I moved on to the Allegro 5" shorts. I have had the Allegro pattern for a couple of months and the poplin since mid-July, but I procrastinated because I've heard that fitting pants is a lot more complicated than shirts or skirts. There are so many different factors in play with pants. I'd read in the Love Notions FB group about people 'scooping' the crotch curves, lengthening the rise or shortening the rise. It all seemed a little overwhelming. But I really want to make most of my own clothes and I wear pants a lot, so...

I started out by making a test version. Having made the skirt in a size 12, I knew I'd be good with a 12 for the shorts, at least for the waist and hips, but there were probably going to be other issues. The test version was really tight in the legs, like uncomfortable to walk tight, and looking at the back they were twisting weirdly from the outside of my leg towards the inside. I also had a bit of a wedgie. There are no pictures (you're welcome, lol), but there were definitely some fitting issues!

I posted in the Love Notions FB group, asking for help and one person recommended a video series that covers a lot of common pants fitting issues. It's a great resource! Right away I learned why I'd often try on pants in stores and find they were really baggy in the front crotch area (it's caused by the front crotch curve being too shallow for me). Then I put my test shorts on again to check and, sure enough, they had the same problem, I just hadn't noticed because I had been so focused on the tight legs and weirdness in the back. So, I scooped the front crotch curve on my pattern, in preparation for my second test version. And now I know what it means to scoop a crotch curve 😊

I watched the videos a couple of times, trying to figure out what I needed to do about the other issues. I needed to add width to the leg, which it seemed would also fix the wedgie problem. So I made that change to the pattern and sewed up test version number two. It was better. The front looked perfect and there was no wedgie, but the legs still weren't hanging straight in the back. I added more width to the legs and made test version number three. When Paul told me the backs were hanging straight on that version, I felt like dancing!

I cut the poplin and sewed the good pair. When you make a test garment, you don't do all the finishing details, like cuffs and even pockets, so I was so happy to see this pair of shorts come together. I love how the cuffs finish them off so nicely.

Allegro shorts | DevotedQuilter.com

But I can't wear them 😞

When I walk, the legs still feel a little bit too tight and they give me a wedgie when I move. I'm thinking that means I need to do some adjustments to the back crotch curve, but I can't really do that on this pair now that they're finished. I guess I didn't walk around enough in the test version to realize that I hadn't adjusted everything I needed to. Darn! I'm not giving up, though. This pattern is just too cute to abandon and now that I've made the shorts I'm even more interested in making the full length pants at some point. There will be more test versions eventually and I will wear them for an extended period of time to be sure they're comfortable when I move and not only when I'm standing perfectly still. I don't know about you, but I don't stand perfectly still very often, so I need pants that are comfy when I move, too!

These fit issues aren't a problem with the pattern, by the way. It's just a reflection of how every person is shaped differently and patterns can only be drafted to suit one particular shape. If you don't match that shape perfectly, then you will need to make adjustments. This is why trying on clothes in the store can be such an ordeal, since ready-to-wear clothes are also drafted for one particular shape. It also explains why we can sometimes find a brand that fits better than any other brand - it has been drafted for a shape that is closer to how we are actually shaped.

After that disappointment, I moved on to the Melody Dolman blouse. Another thing I've learned since starting to make clothes is that a dolman is a type of shirt where the sleeves are not a separate piece, rather they are part of the front and back pieces. That makes for super simple construction of the shirt. I was a little intimidated by the collar on this one, but I watched the video that was linked in the pattern and I was pleasantly surprised by how easily it came together. I love how professional it makes the shirt look!

Melody Dolman blouse | DevotedQuilter.com

I was seriously intimidated by the buttonholes, too. And the worst part about needing to do buttonholes on a blouse is that they are the very last step...so if you mess them up, you've messed up an almost finished project. The automatic buttonhole maker with my Janome (and many other machines, I think) makes creating them a breeze, though I was concerned about getting the position right. I had removed 1 ½" from the length of the blouse (because I'm shorter than the 5'5" the pattern was drafted for), so I couldn't just use the placement guide included with the pattern. No one wants their blouse gaping open, after all! I wouldn't mind adding a 6th button next time, just for a little extra insurance, but it's good with 5.

I do find the shirt hangs pretty much straight down from the bust, so from the side it looks too big. I think that's a fit issue, too, but I'm not sure yet how to fix it. I've mentioned it in the FB group, so hopefully I get some suggestions. I would love to get this pattern to fit just right because I definitely need more shirts that are dressier than a tshirt and this fits the bill.

In the meantime, this one looks cute tied at the front!

Melody Dolman blouse | DevotedQuilter.com

Thank you to Riley Blake for sending me this poplin fabric to work with. I had a lot of fun making these garments, even with the fit issues. Learning how to adjust patterns to fit me is a process and I'm having fun learning 😊 

9 comments:

  1. Well done!! They look great on you.

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  2. Great job! I particularly like the Melody. You make it all sounds very approachable but I'm still intimidated by all the adjustments needed.

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  3. You are really developing some great sewing skills! Garments are a fun challenge to make, and once you get your fit nailed, you'll enjoy being able to make a variety of new outfits!

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  4. A secret for blouses-- hand sew a snap to the placket above and below that button over the chest. A clear one if you have it.

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  5. You did a great job. Sorry the shorts are hard...I bet you will figure it out!

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  6. I'm so impressed with your dedication to a good fit! As a garment-sewer since the 1970s, I know I've made every fitting mistake possible. Admittedly, I never made the extra effort to sew a test muslin, so I've had some pretty terrible experiences. Back then there was no one to consult or YouTube with. You're doing extremely well at trying and learning. That's fabulous! And I very much appreciate that you mentioned LoveNotions on Instagram. I've now visited their site and gotten the Laundry Day Tee. That will be my next garment project once I've purchased fabric online. Shopping for clothing fabric from a website is very difficult, I think. I miss the days of being able to buy fabric from JC Penneys, or visit a Northwest Fabrics, Cloth World, or Hancock Fabrics. Those were the good 'ole days.

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  7. That Melody looks really good on you - well done! I also made the Allegro shorts/pants and ended up with the exact same issue as you (the legs are just too tight and the pants are not wearable). I posted to the Love Notions FB group and someone suggested getting the fit right around the bum area and then simply add to the side seams all the way down to give your thighs some room. I have yet to try that adjustment, but I'm planning to in the very near future. The other adjustment I'll make I think is to use 1 1/4" elastic instead of the 1 1/2" - that channel was just way too tight and my elastic kept wanting to collapse on itself.

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  8. Looks like you've made some great wardrobe staples - well done! (And yes, skirts, shorts and pants all need good pockets!)
    I really love the colour of your shirt! One suggestion for the fulness of the blouse "body" is to sew some "fish eye" darts into the front sections and both sides of the back. They start off really narrow at the top, then widen out before tapering off again at the bottom. Some patterns have them taper off right into the hemline - on other patterns they peter out about 3"-4" above the hemline. You'll have to google them for more specific instructions... Hope that helps!

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