Saturday, July 18, 2020

Pattern Review: Megan Nielsen Opal Top and Olive Shorts

I'm back at it again after almost a year hiatus. I will try to regularly blog about my makes. My sewing mojo was pretty much MIA since my last post. After spending the whole summer abroad, we sent our oldest off to college with a heavy heart. Sewing has taken the back seat while we were trying to adjust to our new normal and spending quality time with our girls.

Fast forward to Covid-19 and quarantine when the sewjo decided to pay me another visit. Only this time, it came with an opportunity for me to use my sewing skills to help volunteer sewists make hospital gowns for healthcare professionals for a non profit my neighbor started. I recorded several how-to youTube videos to help the 200+ volunteer sewists who joined our collective.

The sewjo decided to linger for a bit and Me Made May gave me some incentive to add some cool stuff to my wardrobe. One of my pledges for MMM was to make more separates and less dresses. I'm happy to report that I made 9 tops, 5 shorts, 1 skirt, 2 dresses and repurposed 3 things. I think the only time I've been this productive was when I used to batch cut and sew. I might need to try it again.

Now let's talk about the new patterns that Megan Nielsen released this month. I was thrilled when she asked me for an honest review and even allowed me to put my own spin on them. The first one is the Olive dress and top pattern with a lovely v-insert. I love the dress or top option, the drop shoulder and multiple sleeve finishes this pattern offers. 

The fabric options for the pattern are endless. Anything light or medium weight will work but I think heavier more fall appropriate fabrics can also be used for transitional looks. Think corduroy, flannel, lightweight wool, or even heavier knits. This summery gingham is a light weight linen and I cut a size 12 although I could have gotten away with a 10.

My hacked blouse version is paired with the Opal shorts which is the second pattern that was also released. 

I've been on a gingham kick lately so a quick run through my stash turned up 2 thrifted embroidered gingham dresses that I decided to repurpose into the Olive blouse. 

The eyelet embroidered border was begging to be the center of attraction and pretty much dictated this hack. That v-neck insert needed to be adorned with ruffles.

Both dresses were chopped up and though the pattern calls for the front and back bodices to be cut on the fold, I had to do some piecing together to have enough to cut them. Tons of pins were used in the process to get the stripes on this very shifty linen to match.

With even more pins, patience, determination and a little bit of screaming, I also got the v-neck insert to line up perfectly.

Next was making bias binding out of the leftover scraps. I don't why but I find it oddly satisfying to make bias tape. The bias binding instructions are well done and the result is very pretty. Check the #mnolive hashtag to see how some testers used the bias binding as a fun contrast on the right side of their blouse.

In my eagerness to account for every single scrap of fabric of these two dresses, I ended up with plenty of bias tape leftover for upcoming projects.

 I even used it to face the hem.

During this whole repurposing process, I kept on thinking that any mistake will mean having to start all over again with a different fabric so I'm happy this top came out as I envisioned it. Along the way I experienced with different layouts of the ruffle before finalizing and stitching it in place.

The resulted eyelet trim I got from both dresses provided enough length for the ruffle to go from front to back.

I debated adding sleeves and would probably have gone sleeveless but ultimately the zero waste approach won so I used the original neck flounces to eek out the puffed sleeves.

Puffed sleeves or flounced sleeves? I tried both and gathered sleeves and ruffles give a more cohesive look altogether than the opposite. I used the widest part of the flounce for the sleeve top, added a ruffle at the bottom and inserted elastic through a white bias tape casing. 

For the Opal shorts I chose the paperbag waist version and used a smaller scale blue gingham fabric from my stash. I cut a size 12.

You can get the most bang for buck with the many variations the Opal pattern offers. The shorts version sewed up really fast. It only took me a couple hours from start to finish to complete them not including taping the pattern. I did leave out the belt and the belt loops which made it even faster to make. 

For someone who owns almost all of Megan Nielsen's patterns I've only made a few of them to date. The most recent one is my hacked Dove dress which I can't wait to make again and again. It made me realize what I've been missing. Her patterns are well drafted and the instructions are really great.

The verdict: These are two well drafted and easy to make patterns. I love how comfy the blouse and the shorts are. I love my full-on gingham outfit and am already thinking of another hack version of the Olive top and the pants version of the Opal. You can find more inspiration and ideas  in a recent blog post on the MN website and most importantly the endless combinations will help you sew up a whole new wardrobe.

Until next time.