Wednesday, March 4, 2015

What could be better than a red knit pencil skirt?

So, it seems most sewists on the interwebs are very stoked about the Mabel pattern. Something about it just doesn't look like it would work very well on me. It appears to be designed more for folks who are rather straight through the lower body. I'm really not. I also dislike the lack of elastic or fasteners, and I've seen a couple reviews noting that this can lead to an overly baggy or overly tight skirt, depending on which direction things go. Neither is really ideal.
The Wiggle Skirt pattern, however, looked much more promising, despite no reviews on patternreview. I also figured that if I was going to pay that much for a pencil skirt pattern, it should be something special.
I had hoped that those slash lines along the side panels were for slash pockets, but alas, they're not. I've gone ahead and made this up without trying to finagle pockets into there, but I imagine if when I make this pattern again, I will. (And it should be easy right? Draft a facing and a pocket bag, and there you go, right? Except, where does a pocket go in relation to the lining?)
And I just saw this image. I had not even considered color-blocking prospects, but there are some excellent ideas here.  

I went ahead and left the back pocket flaps off, since they're not covering actual pockets.
The fabric is a red ponte from Girl Charlee (yes, I get a lot of my knits there). The lining is just a cheap nylon lining fabric. (This reminds me - whatever happened to tricot? The chain fabric stores don't seem to carry it anymore, and online searches for tricot fabric find me something quite sheer that doesn't match up to my recollection of tricot.) The pattern calls for .92 yards of 60" wide fabric. I suspect that's about right, but who knows, since I don't know of a world in which one could buy such an amount. I made the size 8, and while I had leftover fabric from the yard I started with, I'm a little suspicious that the pattern calls for the same amount no matter the size. All of the long panels fit across one width of the fabric, with a little bit of fabric left. At a bigger size, I'm not sure you could get them all across like that, and 1 yard isn't long enough to stack them.

The pattern is well drafted with different pieces for the lining. There are quite a few waistband pieces, giving a nicely curved waistband with a number of places one could tweak it. (Next time I will take some darts out of the back pieces before cutting so it will be more curved for a better fit.)

It seems like this took no time at all to cut, which doesn't really make sense given how many pieces there are.

Things got substantially slower when I got to the step to attach the lining. The procedure is similar to that used for the Cambie (i.e., no hand sewing). Somehow it seemed less confusing for the Cambie though. I was silly enough to do the understitching with a straight stitch, which did not work out well. I unpicked it and topstitched it instead with a triple stretch stitch. (It seems like understitching with a lightning sttch would be oddly bulky, wouldn't it?)

And I finished this months and months ago, but haven't gotten around to photographing it. It is very comfortable, looks great, and gets quite a bit of wear (for a skirt in my wardrobe anyway). More will be made! In the end I very much feel that I got my money's worth from this pattern. The directoons and drafting are both excellent. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Butterick 5857: Or I should have made a muslin

In my quest to sew some new things for an upcoming vacation, I pulled both a pattern and fabric that were in my stash. 
The fabric is a black and burgundy stripe, probably about 8 ounces, from Girl Charlee. I really like this fabric, and am having a bit of buyer's remorse for using it for this top. I really hope I get a lot of wear out of it!  This is a case where a lighter fabric (say 6 oz.) might have been perfectly fine. Especially for the ruching. It's not too heavy, but the weight does add up here. 
I cut a medium, which was kind of a stab in the dark since there were no finished garment measurements anywhere. But hey! It's a knit, so surely it's designed with negative ease! They must have thought finished measurements would be unhelpful/misleading! These are the things I told myself as I cut. I liked the idea of the lower crossover back, but being a person who is always cold (and travelling to Paris before it's even really spring), I knew that would be a poor choice. So I lined the center back marking up on the fold, and used another knit back piece (tonic tee) I had handy to cut the neckline. 

This alteration actually worked out nicely. 
Then I started sewing. Those ruched panels are super long. It's okay, they'll be ruched, right?
Well, I got them onto the top pieces, tried it on, and it was closer to dress length than top length. Long even for a tunic! (Which is not what it is supposed to be.) I know I'm short, but not really in the waist. Again, finished measurements would have helped. The shirt was also really wide. Really wide. So I pinched some out of the side seams, basted, and then sewed and cut new side seams. In the end, my new seams were more than two inches wide! In the final line of stitching, I angled them off into the sleeves, about an inch higher than the original sleeve separation point. Oh, and I resewed the high waist about an inch higher. 

And then I cut about 4" off the bottom, and made a generous hem. For the record, I highly doubt the hem meets my normsl standards for evenness. But hemming something this seriously ruched? I don't really know how that's supposed to work. But you put the thing on, and arrange the ruching/hem in the process, and voila!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Travel Wardrobe

I'm preparing for a trip to Paris. It will be early enough in the spring that the weather will be a bit of a crap-shoot. It could be 60 and sunny, or 30 and a snowy, drizzly mess. I always get a little frazzled about packing for trips, but I've been trying to funnel that into careful planning. Part of that stems from a trip to England when I was in 5th grade, in April of that year. My dad told me I only needed a light jacket, and, like an idiot, I believed him. One of the big things I remember about that trip is freezing my butt off. I am determined to prevent a repeat of that experience.

So, to that end, I've been doing a bunch of planning. I bought a new light-weight down coat that should be relatively warm, but also easy to pack in a bag if it gets too warm for it. I've also thought about bringing along an additional coat or jacket (a nice wool one? too bulky? a nice wind-breaker that's a light jacket? I haven't tried it but it seems it would look odd over the other coat. Should I make a coat? I've thought about the Lady Grey, but I don't honestly think I'd get it done in time.) I've started a big wool cowl. I've hardly worked on it but am about half done anyway.
I had hoped to be farther along on this  project by now, but had some sewing to do for the DH.

I'm also knitting a grey cabled wool & alpaca cardigan -- of my knitting, this is the key thing I want need to get done for the trip. It will be a nice piece that should go with everything else I plan to take, and it'll be nice and warm (DK weight). The back seemed like it took forever, but the fronts are going faster (hooray for cabling without a cable needle!).

I had been eying some merino knit fabrics for some additional layering pieces (camisoles and long sleeved tees), but gosh that stuff is expensive in the US. And apparently getting some via ebay from New Zealand would take too long. I have some Uniqlo Heattech tops I'll be using as layers, but another (merino!) layer sounded like a good idea. So I compromised and bought some ColdGear fabric and we'll see what comes of that. It should at least arrive quickly. (Priority Mail from Colorado for the win!)

This top is way beyond my budget, but I really like the idea of doing some necklines in stretch lace instead of a regular band. Still thinking on this.

I'm going to make a pair of flannel-lined trousers, possibly Thurlows, although I will need to work out some fitting/sizing issues first. I'm not sure if I'm actually going to line them, or if I'm just going to underline them. Either way = warm pants.

And then I'd like to make some tops. I've kicked around a number of ideas, including a Bronte Top, a Comino Cap top (still tweaking some fitting issues there, but there is so much potential!), Jalie 2794, etc.

I will be going swing dancing at least once, so I also will be bring some shoes for dancing (possibly wedges, unless I get a new pair of boaters sueded before then), and something I like wearing dancing. I've thought about taking my sailor pants -- they could double as regular attire, with the added benefit that they're wool and thus pretty warm. 

I have a couple of pairs of wool socks, but need to buy some more. While I've now knitted 1 2/3 pairs of socks, I'm not totally enamored with sock knitting.  I don't see that it adds much value over just regular wool socks, and the cost is almost the same. Need to buy more soon.

And before I could start all of this I needed to finish a pair of pants for the husband (need to take the waistband off, take them in, then redo the waistband), sew another pair for him, finish one shirt, and sew another shirt. And I needed to acquire buttons for both shirts. I swear buttons are the bane of my existence. I never seem to have the required number in the right size or color. And despite my failure to post finished projects to the blog, I have sewn things in the past few months. Things I've loved, including the Iconic Patterns Wiggle Skirt.

And this plan happens to coincide nicely with the PatternReview Travel Wardrobe Contest. Can I get enough done? Can we pretend I didn't totally waste the afternoon I had off today cooking (delicious, wonderful soup, but still)?

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Teal jacket - no, shrug

I've been thinking about the Cake Patterns Carmine jacket since it was first announced. Why it has taken me this long to get to it I cannot say.
I found this lovely teal, ever so slightly sparkly ponte knit at Joann's and thought it would be perfect. I duly bought a yard and a half per the pattern's note that that was what I would need for a size 30. I opted to cut the 30D even though I probably should have followed the instructions to add extra to the bust. But then I realized that the next size up needed almost another full yard of a fabric, and there was no way that would work (plus, knits stretch! It would probably be fine.). In the end, the fabric was the winner.

And then I discovered that while a 30A would fit on of a yard and a half of fabric, a 30D certainly wouldn't. There are notes that you can cut this piece up, add seams, not cut on a fold, etc, but I couldn't see how that was actually going to help me. So I'm making the shrug instead. That does leave me me with about 20" of this 60" wide fabric left - I wonder what I could get out of that?

With only 4 pieces the shrug is really fast to cut. I'm trying it with "long" sleeves though.
The directions for the sleeve bands made it sound like this (above) is what was needed. People with better spatial reasoning skills would have realized that that was crazy, and avoided this spate of seam ripping. I'm not totally sure what benefit is actually gleaned from folding (and pressing) the bands first, then unfolding them and stitching them into the round, and then folding them back how they go.

Roll collar. Didn't bother to serge the edges.

My first try at gussets!
Hem around the edge of the gussett
The gussets seem way bigger than they need to be. (Maybe the jacket version needs them this big, but the shrug doesn't.) The pattern directs you to match the roll collar to the marks. With the exception of some notches for the center back, there are no other marks relevant to the collar. The images available are so vague that I have no idea if it's right. (I'm trying to figure out if pulling that piece substantially tighter so it ends at the end of the gussets, instead of the beginning, would improve the scenario.

The fit through the front, and back, for that matter, are large. I think the amount of fabric there may make sense for the jacket, but it is awkward on the shrug.
I did like the way the one side of the sleeve is longer than the other. The designer has a little description in the instructions about how this is supposed to mimic the curve that happens when you bend the arm, and I feel like that is accurate. I do like how the sleeves fit, although I would hesitate to label them as "long." 3/4 seems a more accurate description, and that's on me with my short arms.

Meh. It is fast to cut and sew. It IS comfortable. It's not very cute on though. I will probably wear it around the house, but doubt I'll wear it out.

So I did a bit of searching, to see what other sewists have made of this. There are a few instances of the jacket, but only one other example of the shrug (at least that I found). Birdandbicycle seems to have had similar issues. (She also seems to have positioned the roll collar the same way I did.)

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Comic Book Shirt

Fabric: Green Lantern comic book covers, from Spoonflower. This is the basic combed cotton. Out of the package, it felt decidedly . . . crunchy. I was a little worried. I washed it first on cold (dried on regular), then ran it through the whole cycle again on hot. After having been through the wash twice, it did soften up substantially. I didn't measure to see what the shrinkage was. It seems to have shrunk some, but not drastically. How's that for scientific? When it came time time cut, despite having almost 1/2 yard more than called for in the pattern, I didn't like my pattern matching options. (The pattern repeat is about 10" wide and 20" tall.) So I lined things up to match the center fronts, and the pocket, and cut everything else however it fit (keeping the grain in mind), with the exception of the piece for the back (cut on fold), which was no-way no-how going to fit. I did some measuring and realized that if I were careful, I could get it out of one more yard, so went off to order one more yard (since they won't let you order portions of yards -- some of the seam allowances are actually in the white border around the print (but not the selvedge)). When I got the additional yard, I just washed it on hot, and it seems to have faded some compared to the other 3 yards. It's not incredibly noticeable, but if you look closely it's a little different.

Pattern: McCall's 2149. I've used this pattern before to make some Hawaiian-ish shirts for the husband. It's an older pattern, but still apparently in print. Obviously this is a style that doesn't change much, so that doesn't really matter. It's a fairly good pattern, although there is one quirk where the pattern instructions tell you to clip to the interfacing, where it really wants you to clip to the stitching line.

 The pocket is pretty well-matched, isn't it? I fixed that stitching along the left edge after this picture was taken. Doing so left some holes, but they're not something anyone not giving the pocket a close examination would notice.

I French seamed the side seams, and used bright green rayon seam binding around the armholes.

I was so focused on matching up the fronts correctly that I didn't even think about which side the buttons are supposed to go on on a man's shirt. (I sew mostly for myself - I'm selfish like that.) As I was cutting open the last buttonhole, I had this thought that I might have done them on the wrong side. I couldn't even bear to go check, however, since there was no changing it at that point. (But yeah. They're on the wrong side.) The pattern called for 4 buttons, which seemed like an insanely small number, so I used 6 instead, using the same spacing, but not leaving a big area without buttons at the bottom, per the pattern.

When looking at the prospect of hand-sewing 6 buttons, I realized that my sewing machine can sew on buttons. So I got out the manual and tweaked the settings, and voila! Amazing. I don't think my old machine had that capability.

I didn't take many pictures, but here it is all finished (a little blurry, as it was being held - and moved - at the time of the photo):

Monday, September 1, 2014

Sewing Plans

I've been very busy working on a big non-sewing project (almost done!), so I haven't done much sewing lately.  Which is not to say I haven't done any thinking about what I could be sewing.

Things on my sewing to do list (with thanks to Heather B for the reminder that the Fall Essentials Sew-Along is going on!):
  1. A Carmine jacket from a pretty turquoise knit. This was going to be my entry for the August The Monthly Stitch. (The theme was cake, in honor of TMS's anniversary.) I never even got the pattern sheets taped together.
  2. A Comino Cap top partially in a wild black and white knit fabric I picked up on a whim. This may be my September TMS project, since the theme is revisiting old themes. This would be Monosewn, which I just missed in July. (Where did July go?) This one IS at least cut.
  3. An Alma top. I've been working on this forever, and want to get it checked off. I did several rounds of muslins. Then I sewed what I had planned to be a wearable muslin. It's not, but I think I know what's wrong now. 
  4. S3750, an older pattern, out of some blue andcherry fabric that I am recycling from a dress I made years ago. I kept hoping to salvage the dress (this item was the point where I learned about FBAs - it was a great project, but I couldn't comfortably wear it), but finally had to give up. 
  5. Pants out of some grey RPL in my stash. What will the pants be? I don't know. Maybe a Thurlow/Juniper frankenpattern. Fashionable Foundations for Frosty Weather
  6. Projects for other people. There's a mostly done pair of pants for my DH that need the waistband taken off, taken in an inch or so, and then the waistband redone. Why I didn't make him try them on before I put the waistband on I cannot say. I also have a top-secret project for the outgoing past president for a board I'm on. The deadline here is approaching quickly... It will not take long, but I hate rushed sewing.
  7. A Sencha, but with a different neckline. The high neckline here is why I haven't bothered to make this up yet. It's time to muslin it out with a different neckline. 
  8. B5857 - fabric undecided, something from the stash. 
  9. A Hawthorne top, in a cute green linen. 
  10. S1590, which I've got a cute red striped fabric put aside. 
I also intend to replace the skirt on my Red Velvet dress, probably with the Lady Skater skirt. I have red ponte set aside for the new Wiggle Skirt. And I should make a new pair of black pants - the pair I made last year really don't fit well, especially as I'm losing weight - we're nearing a point where they won't stay up. 

A bunch of my projects above fit into the Chic Chemises for Cool Climates category.

Tender Tootsies - I am knitting a pair of worsted weight socks. Well, about 10 minutes a month. Fall arriving might mean I actually work on them.

Baby It's Cold Outside - I am also knitting a light scarf, and I've been thinking about sewing a red wool coat (the Abbey Coat). Whether or not that will realistically happen this year is up for debate.

Look at that! A plan for items of clothing I need, and should wear! Without a ton of dresses! (Although if I was going to have more free time in the next couple of weeks I probably would sew another dress for a conference I'll be going to. Work travel always ignites a fear that I don't have enough to wear. . . )

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Sundress Sewalong

Last year I made a sundress. In October.

This year, with some prompting from Heather's sewalong and excitement about the Maria Denmark Signe pattern, I made one in July. So much better!
This is an ity knit from. . . somewhere online. The red is a little more orange than I had imagined, but I think it still works for me. I lined the bodice with some nylon knit lining in my stash. Then I realized that there was a reason this pattern has you line the bodice in the fashion fabric, so I re-cut the strap portion and stitched them onto the main portion of the bodice.
I did a FBA, which means I've got some darts not in the original pattern. I'm kind of resigned to the need for darts, although I did first try an alternate FBA method that wouldn't add darts. It was not good, so I went back to the Y adjustment. In addition to the FBA, I graded from an XS for the bodice to a medium for the waist. I probably could have gone with a smaller size through the back, and/or a shorter piece of elastic pulled tighter ( the piece I used wouldn't have stretched farther though).
Otherwise, I didn't make any changes, and I love this dress!
In a more opaque fabric and/or with a partially lined skirt, this could be worn without a slip, and, for the less busty, without a bra. I think for many people that may be the ideal maxi dress. 

Oh, and the neckline doesn't gape. Yay, summer!
I don't have much to say here. This is a great, simple, fast pattern. Perhaps next time, pockets?