Built By Wendy Shirt, Simplicity 4112


Hey there people! I’ve been sewing boat loads lately – but, alas, not much blogging. Much of it is experiments in historical sewing. Perhaps one of these days when I make a complete outfit it’ll appear on the blog.

I’ve also been traveling! These surprisingly decent cell phone pics were taken in Ohio while visiting family.

The Goal: When not sewing costumes or doing pattern testing I’ve been trying to stash bust. I have to admit I’ve grown a substantial stash over the past year. Oddly, I seem to have about a dozen kinds of solid white fabric for some reason – cotton, linen, rayon, silk, twill, batiste, satin – you name it, but I don’t even remember why or when I bought some of it. Where did it all come from!? Well, I wanted to use some of my (non-white) stash so that’s where this shirt comes in.

The Pattern: An old Built by Wendy pattern from Simplicity, #4112. Remember those? Back in 2007/2008 designer Wendy Mulin released a handful of patterns (and later a few books) and I was immediately drawn to her cool, hip style. Really, these patterns are what inspired me to sew more garments. I didn’t know about indie designers at the time and Wendy’s offerings were much more fun and “me” than the plain boring patterns that the rest of the Big 4 were producing.


I made this pattern once before, almost four years ago and I still wear it often! (Wow, looking at that old post really brings back some memories…) It’s been one of my most worn shirts and it’s held up well but the fabric is getting a little thin in places. I needed a new one – or at least another one. 😉


The Fabric: This is a butterfly print voile from The Cloth Pocket (right down the street from me!). Not sure of the brand. I love the springtime colors and voile is the perfect fabric for hot summers.


The Changes: I made the sleeves slightly narrower. They’re pretty big. Not Colette Taffy big but still very full. One thing I’ve noticed over the years with my old version of this shirt – the need for more buttons. The six or so buttons on the original are just not enough and if I unbutton the top button the shirt opens pretty wide. So, way more buttons on the new shirt1


Oh, and somehow I used the wrong pattern piece to cut out the belt so it’s, um, shorter than it ought to be but that’s fine, it makes a cute little bow.


The Results: Already in heavy rotation (and I love the colors with my gold mini skirt, makes a perfect pair). The flutter sleeves and light fabric make it perfect for hot summers. I can wear it with a belt like this or tucked in (there are no darts and no real shaping to the design, it’s actually pretty boxy) and I love the curved hem. I tried using my new narrow hem foot but I still haven’t quite gotten the hang of it. If you use one of those feet do you have any tips?

So, are there other Wendy lovers out there?

Simplicity 3850, or, a very wearable muslin


I’m thinking about organizing my posts a little differently from now on. Rather than just writing up all the details however I want I’ll have little sections on the fabric and pattern and alterations and what not. What do you like reading more- a kind of pattern review style or “the facts” on sew weekly, or do you like a more leisurely few paragraphs on whatever points I want to talk about?


Goal: I wanted to make a good fitting pair of pants after my last jeans making fiasco. Someone in my sewing group very kindly let me borrow a Hot Patterns skinny jeans pattern to trace. I also bought the Colette Clovers recently. But looking at both of these patterns reminded me of what I learned last time I tried my hand at pants. My crotch line doesn’t resemble most pants patterns at all and I needed a completely different approach! Then another sewing group person reminded me to try out this pattern I had used previously to make shorts.

Pattern: That previous pattern was Simplicity 3850, a Built by Wendy “slim pants, capris and shorts” pattern that I had made two shorts variations from with relatively no fit problems except for which size I chose to cut. The first shorts I made a year ago. I had cut the pattern and fabric out a couple years before that but I had forgotten about them. When I finally made them up they fit technically, but they were a little too tight over all. Those were a size 14.

The next shorts I made about 6 months ago and I sized the pattern up to about a 16. Those fit but were almost slightly too big. I really took for granted that I didn’t have to make any changes to the fit.


This time I went back to the original size 14 and made the pants version.


Fabric: A medium weight 100% cotton twill from Joann. I purposely bought this green color because I wasn’t that enthralled with it. I thought that if I bought a good fabric in a cool color I’d be really upset if my garment didn’t turn out nicely and I’d feel like I had wasted my fabric.


For the inside of the pockets and the waistband I used leftover orange dyed batiste from my Darling Ranges dress which is finished but I haven’t taken photos of it yet.

(blue jeans zipper, navy buttons and orange lining – nope, nothing matches! oh well!)

Changes: I started out trying to make a bunch of fitting changes along the way but by the end I resorted back to the original pattern and the only changes I made ware making the front center 1/2″ higher and leaving out the belt loops.


Results: They fit! Mostly. The pattern says they are “slim” fit but this design is about 4 years old, slightly older than the popularity of skinny jeans so my idea of “slim” and 2007’s idea of “slim” are probably a little different. They fit well in the front but because of my idea of the “skinny jeans butt” the back is more like a straight leg pant than the curve hugging look I’d be going for. But they’re not gigantically baggy and any bagginess I think comes from the stiff fabric. I’d say that for the style they fit! If there is any problem it’s that, like most pants, they’ve stretched out even in the short time I’ve worn them. Maybe next time I should make a 12 knowing they’ll stretch.


I feel like this whole pants thing is one big face palm. All that work on my other jeans and I just could have adjusted this one pattern! I’m going to make a whole separate post on why these pants fit me better than any other, because really, it blows my mind!


In the mean time I’m going to celebrate having a very wearable pants muslin. Hooray!

***So here is a question – how has popular style changed your idea of how pants should fit?

First Coat of the Season

Simplicity 4109

Well, sort of. This is more like a slightly cropped, three quarter sleeve jacket, but since it never gets too cold in Texas, this counts as a coat!

Can you believe that with all my undying love for Wendy Mullin’s designs that I didn’t own this pattern (Simplicity 4109)? Now it is out of print so I tracked it down on ebay. There is another one of the Built by You coat patterns out there that I simply cannot find for less than $30, whoa!

Simplicity 4109

I used this wool fabric that I bought at a recent estate sale and while I did “pre-steam” it ala Sewaholic’s tips for sewing coats, I should have dry cleaned the fabric because it still smelled musty. Instead I dry cleaned the finished coat at an eco-cleaners in Austin (which I prefer to regular dry cleaning because they don’t use such harsh chemicals and therefore it doesn’t have that terrible nasty chemical smell that I despise).

Simplicity 4109

I loved the pattern. It is a boxy shape (no darts or curves) so I know some might not like it but to me it’s modern and it’s a coat so I don’t expect to look super svelte. I really liked the bell sleeves (cut on the bias) with the front facing seam (as opposed to a regular under arm seam). Some may not like the big sleeves either but it fits my style and I like how it shows off the plaid pattern.

Simplicity 4109 Simplicity 4109

The only change I made was to add a lining which was difficult for me because I rarely make linings. I worked with the facings included in the pattern so I had to cut my new lining pieces to fit. First I finished the raw edges of the facing with black bias tape, serged the edges of the lining, then layered the facings over the lining (wrong side to right side) and stitched through. If the wool hadn’t been so itchy I could have gotten away without the lining.

Simplicity 4109

I think the design is cute and different from a regular jacket or coat. It almost has the look of a cape and I think it would be cute in a heavy knit with an added hood.

I want to make the other version of this pattern maybe in a nice twill, something that I wouldn’t have to line.

I love the Built by Wendy asthetic – sort of casual refined with modern cuts that are youthful and easy to make your own. Maybe I will shell out the $30 for that other BbW coat pattern? I suddenly feel the need to complete my pattern collection!

Simplicity 4109

Have you ever sewn a coat or jacket? What is your favorite coat pattern? I’m looking to make a few different designs for this season.

Plaid Built By Wendy Top – Simplicity 4111

Plaid Built By Wendy Top

This is another version of Simplicity 4111 that I made a long time ago, this time in plaid. I like this one better than the last try but I’m not sure why. I didn’t change the pattern. Maybe it’s because the elastic under the bust line isn’t as tight? Maybe it’s the thicker fabric? Maybe I secretly have a yearning for plaid in my life? Who knows.

Anyway, this shirt was in the mending pile for years because the elastic in one of the sleeves broke. I even remember the party I was at a couple years ago when it happened. Putting something in my mending pile is like burying it deep in an underwater cave in the Bermuda Triangle never to be seen again.

Plaid Built By Wendy Top

I’m glad I could finally break this shirt out from hiding and finish those minor fixes. Now it is happily back in my closet for rotation.

What’s the longest you’ve ever had something sit in the “mending pile”?