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?

Outfit Along

I decided to participate in the outfit along put together by Lauren and Andi. The concept of planning projects to work together is a good one, even if I didn't plan this project as well as I could have.
Who knits a worsted weight, wool cardigan in the summer? Me, apparently. I'm kind of scared of cotton for knitting. I've heard it can stretch out of shape easily (and won't spring back), and so so far I've stuck pretty much with just wool. Am I needlessly chicken?

This is the Marion Cardigan made from Cascade 220 Paints in Cherry Berry. I didn't realize how dark the blues in this yarn were until I had knitted a bit. I like it for the sweater, but it seems like a lot of color to go with the turquoise dress that I had also started.  I started with a small, and graded out to a medium to acquire more bust space. That worked out well, though I haven't yet resolved how the numbers make sense based on how many stitches I calculated I would need to add. I continued with the medium to the waist, so as to have some positive ease there, per Amy Herzog's suggestions in Knit to Flatter. It is too much, though. I don't know if that's an issue of personal preference, or that it's a cropped length.
I also opted to make the sleeves full length. Even before I got to that length, however, it became clear I wasn't going to have enough yarn, even for the length as written. Luckily I was able to get another skein in the same dye lot. I stabilized the button band with grosgrain ribbon per lladybird's tutorial. (Although getting the buttonholes to match up was . . . difficult.)

The dress I originally planned is the Sewaholic Cambie in a turquoise rayon/linen blend I bought a couple years ago. Being more hourglassy than pear, I had avoided this pattern for awhile, even though I really liked it on others. Gathered skirts aren't usually a good look on me, so I went with the A line. Even though linen is one of the recommended fabrics for this version, it strikes me as a little overly sturdy for this design. I may yet make the other view in a lighter fabric before really deciding how I feel about this pattern. I really like the designs of Sewaholic patterns, and the instructions, and techniques used, but on me, they leave something to be desired. (Also, I think the bodice here is a bit long - which is bizarre, because I don't often have that problem. Although I did with the Renfrew.)

So, I decided to make a second dress to go with this sweater. I settled on another Georgia dress, made from a navy blue ponte. It's a rayon, poly, lycra blend double knit. It's only 1% lycra, so it has very minimal stretch (more like a stretch woven than a knit). The color is very similar to the darker blues and purplish shades in the yarn. The bodice lining is a cheap nylon knit. I made the straps wider, and cut the piece down the middle to take about an inch out of the length. Then I took the straps up another inch in the process of attaching them. Otherwise I did not make any changes from my last version. I had planned to do a twin needle hem, but don't have one for knits right now, and couldn't get a nice stitch without skipped stitches. So I opted for a single line of stitching, with a longer stitch length, and wooly nylon in the bobbin. Since the dress has so little stretch, I think it will be okay. As before, I love this dress.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Red princess seams

I printed the Penny Pinafore pattern the other night, and taped and then cut away.
I like the concept of pdf patterns with the lines in different colors, but for those of us with plain black and white printers, that doesn't always work out so well. Instead of cutting in the daylight, as I should have, I did it when it was getting pretty dark. And while the dining room light is one of the brightest in the house, it doesn't do great for very slightly different types of lines. The plan was to cut such that I could grade between the 3 and the 5. I discovered the next morning that on some sides of these, the 3 is outside of the 5, and I therefore chopped it off. Oops.
Anyway, I pressed ahead with a FBA and a muslin (tracing a line a bit outside where I cut the line I needed). While the fit was overall quite good with just the FBA and some grading out towards the hips, it was a bit big, and the positioning of the princess seam line is kind of weird. I thought I must have screwed something up in the course of the FBA, but I think that's more of an issue with my weird adjustment after having cut off the line I needed.

So, the next day I reprinted the pages to reconstruct the sides where I'd cut the needed lines off, and went back to work. I did scale down to the 2 grading out to a 4 through the waist and hips.

Things I like:
  • The level of the neckline, and the height from shoulder to bust. I am short through there, so it's easy for necklines to end up super low, but not here!
  • The princess seaming. It looks great, and the FBA is so easy!

Thing I'm on the fence about:
  • The neckband is super short! For the muslin, I put it on last (er, halfway), since I wasn't sure if I was going to bother with it anyway. It did not work out well, and I'm too lazy to unpick it on a muslin. Anyway, lesson learned. Put it on before sewing the 2nd shoulder seam, and pull that puppy tight (or it won't reach nearly far enough!). I also cut the neckband based on the 3 for the actual top, instead of a 2 to match the top of the bodice.

Changes I made:
  • FBA (2" added each side) (The pattern instructions say you probably don't need a FBA with this pattern. While that may be true for folks with a C or D cup, I really don't think that's true for me.)
  • Graded from a  2 to a 4 (muslin was from a 3 to a 5 - could still use a smidgeon more space through the waist, and less through the hip)
  • Lengthened the cap sleeve a little, didn't use the sleeve band (I don't really like a banded sleeve that short)
  • Shortened the tunic length to a regular top length (cut off about 3 inches total)

And here's a lesson from the world of knitting that seems to apply - in knits, negative ease through the bust and hips can be good, but positive ease works much better in the waist. (Thank you Knit to Flatter.) This top is okay, but if I had another inch through the waist I think this would be more comfortable and more flattering.

The fabric is one yard of a cotton lycra blend from Girl Charlee. The pattern claims 1.75 yards are needed for the tunic length. I wasn't sure how big this piece was when I started, but I started laying the pieces out and they fit.
I realized toward the end of stitching this up that I cut the pieces sideways (I wonder if that's why they fit?). With small lengths of fabric I tend fo be careless about figuring out which way is which, especially with knits (where the selvage may not be so obvious). Of course, if I was thinking more carefully I could have just looked at the direction of the stitches and seen that it was sideways, but I didn't. Luckily it still fits, and there's enough vertical stretch that it's okay.

I've been watching the Sew Better, Sew Faster class on Craftsy which I bought awhile ago on a sale. While I doubt I'll ever make the jacket that's part of the class (it is not my style), it is a great class! Some of the techniques I've learned made this project much easier (especially handling the curves of the princess seams -- I'm not brave enough to ditch the pins yet though).

And finally, I seem to be demented at sewing elastic on the shoulder seams. How does one do this? Most attempts tend to end with the elastic and fabric getting sucked down into a mess in the feeddogs. I managed to get it on here by pushing it through the serger. What am I missing?

Despite my screwups, I love this pattern, and this top. More are definitely in my (near) future. I also just bought the Comino Cap top, and that will be coming up soon, once I figure out which version to start with, and what fabric from my stash to uses. 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Georgia to the Nines

A year ago I never would have even considered the By Hand London Georgia dress pattern, but I really do love the Anna pattern. Also, I tried something similar on in a retro clothing store last summer. I hated the fabric, which was a weird orange and red print, but it really did look great on me. I was tempted to buy it, but knew because of the fabric I wouldn't wear it enough to make it a good decision. So, here we have a pattern for a similar dress - that I could make in fabric that I might actually wear.  (The rtw dress had some other issues too, like being too low in the neckline for it to get much wear.)
It started an idea though.

The fabric is a stretch cotton sateen from Mood. I really like big floral prints on sateen, but this is about as wild as I get.

I think, when dealing with By Hand London patterns, I need to put more thought into the FBA process. While I like that their sewalongs cover how to do a FBA for that pattern, they don't always work out so well for those of us who need a bigger FBA. For instance here I needed 5" total. Following their method, I wound up with something pointier than I'd like. Ultimately I graded down the curve some with a French curve, and got a better effect. I also added about an inch to the top of the bodice pieces all the way around. I stabilized the neckline with some staytape early on, and I think that was a smart move.

I cut the top based on a size 4 and the skirt graded out to a size 10. I probably could have gone down a size in the skirt (at least when using a stretch woven), but this works. I was planning to pink the seams, but haven't done it yet as I'm still debating taking the seams in some. I've tried pinching some out, but none of those attempts have really improved the way the skirt lays. I also had to shorten the straps, and may yet shorten them more.

I like the pointed join at center front, but the smaller point in the back was more trouble than it's worth. If/when I make this pattern again, I'll probably flatten that one out. I'm also considering hacking this skirt onto the Anna bodice. 

I do really like this dress. I'm not sure how much wear I'll get out of it, as it's not quite right for fancy work functions, but I'll just have to start inventing places to wear it. 

You know what I really like about this dress? It makes me look thin(er). Sorry for being shallow, but it does nice things for my figure. 

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Jalie 2794 - no exciting title!

Yeah, I'm not good with titles.
Anyway, I have just finished Jalie 2794.
The fabric is a grey and black floral modal cotton knit, with 2% spandex, from Girl Charlee. It is the 9 oz weight, which I consider just about ideal.

I did a FBA, adding one inch to each side, which is about 1/2" less than I would usually add, but so many reviews of this claim no FBA is needed.

Well, I muslined that up in a cheap, very stretchy knit, and it seemed about right. I'm calling this a wearable muslin, even though because of the issue with the front gathering I might not wear it out of the house. (very stretchy = front gathering didn't work as intended) Sorry it's so wrinkled - I wore it for the day before I took this.

In my stiffer, yet adequately stretchy (according to the pattern) fashion fabric, I realized I probably should have gone with a larger FBA. It fits without much in the way of drag lines, but it is snug through there.

I made a size S, based on my high bust measurement and wanting a little more room for seam allowances. Jalie's 1/4" seam allowances scare me a little. Based on the muslin, I took a little bit out of the back neck by rotating the back pattern piece just slightly - which also gave me more room in the hip, which I certainly could use at that size.

I remain somewhat unhappy with steam a seam lite. I used it in the sleeve hems and the hem, and while I like how easy it makes hemming knits, I still don't like the feel of the result. It's just too stiff for my liking, and removes too much of the stretch.

In other news, I considered doing Me Made May, but don't think I really have enough every day sort of self-made clothing to make that very practical (read = not stressful). Instead, I'm trying to think through what I do wear on a regular basis, and am giving some more thought to how I ought to tweak my sewing habits to coincide with that. (Let's be honest - my knitting habits actually coincide quite nicely with the concept of everyday wear. Most of what I've made so far is not weather appropriate for May, however.)

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Slow Start

So, 2014 has been off to a slow start sewing wise. I made the husband another pair of pants. I've done quite a bit of knitting. I made a Tonic Tee, and a skirt.  That covers January through April!

Tonic Tee

The Tonic Tee is a really nice pattern - I know this may mark me as crazy, but I like it better than the Renfrew. With a bit of a FBA, it fit me great right out  of the gate. Except I should have added some length. While I am often considered "petite," what height I do have is in my waist. I took out about 3/4 of an inch between bust and shoulder, as I'm short through there, but did add a bit of length back in the process of the FBA. I could use another inch, maybe two to get this to a length that is really best for me.

More Tonic Tees are in my future. 
Oh, and this pattern goes together really fast. 

This puppy doesn't get a lot of wear, however, because it stinks - literally. I didn't notice it in the fabric shop, but there is a pretty horrible chemical smell to this fabric. When I've worn it people assure me, when asked, that they can't smell it, but I can. I think it is something to do with  a specific black dye, but don't quote me on that. I have a pair of rtw black pants that have the same smell, only worse. So bad that they made other items in the wash their first time through also smell. So bad that I washed them in vinegar, and then baking soda, and then again, and then left them in the garage to air for a month before wearing them. And I can still smell them. Since this project, I've started sniffing at any black fabric or clothing I'm considering, right there in the store. People in stores may think I'm nuts. (While the scent in the pants in question is stronger than this shirt, since they're farther from my nose they are somewhat less offensive to wear.)

Gored Skirt

The skirt is Simplicity 1560, view b.   This pattern is a recent release, although it was out previously, around 2001 or thereabouts. I loved it then, and I love it now. The view I usually make is a gored skirt with a lovely swish in the right fabric. I found this beautiful wool on a cold day in January, and this seemed the perfect option. While it is a cute skirt that I'll wear plenty when we return to winter, this wool really is too heavy for this design. It would have been better for the a line version. 

(Speaking of which, does anyone find the images on pattern envelopes misleading with regard to fabric suggestions? I mean, here we get a photo of view b, in what looks like a wool. A pair of pants I'm working on has a photo of the pants in what looks like wool, when that's definitely not one of the suggested fabrics.)

I fully lined this is Bemberg rayon, hemming the rayon to the wool. Probably should have let the lining hang free, as it does affect the hang of the skirt a bit.  And I should have made the waist facing out of something other than wool, as that is a smidge itchy. 

Even fully lined, this was a quick and easy sew. In a shocking variation from my normal trend, I didn't bother to muslin this at all. I chose my size based on the finished garment measurements, and just forged ahead. (I didn't even trace the pattern!) And it fits great, but I think there's less to be worried about fit-wise in a skirt. I did have to chop a couple inches off the bottom to hem it to an appropriate length. When I make it again (and I will), I should probably find a lengthen/shorten line further up to remove the excess length. 
Previously, I made it a couple times in stretch cotton sateen. That was better, but it would really sing in something lighter still. Swing dancers, if you're looking for a great trumpet skirt pattern, this is it! It has just the right amount of swish when swiveling, yet doesn't fly up in the course of spinning. 


I started knitting right at the end of December, and I love it! It seems much easier than sewing to do in small bits and pieces, which may be why I feel like I've gotten more done there than sewing. So far, I've knitted two scarves, a cowl, a pair of hand warmers, a pair of socks, and a sweater. I've just started the Georgina Cardigan.  
If you're interested, you can see my projects on Ravelry. 

Sunday, January 5, 2014

7 Sewing(ish) Goals for 2014

1.  Knit a sweater. I've just begun learning to knit, because I'd like to make some sweaters, scarves, and hats. (I know I've seen a number of sewing bloggers declare that they're the last sewist to jump on the knitting bandwagon, but nope! I get that award for the moment.) I'm always cold, so it makes sense to invest some time in learning a skill that should enable me to make nice extra layers.
2. Get better at fitting.
3. Sew more blouses. It's so hard to resist the allure of cute new dress patterns, but I don't wear them all that often. Blouses are what I need right now. (Although I am scheming to make another Anna dress, if I can find the fabric I have in mind at the right price. Knit, inspired by and (Also, wear the dresses I have more often - then I can justify sewing others. . . )
4. Sort/use up some of my stash. I have a lot of pieces of . . . stuff. . . left over from other projects that are sort of big enough for a top. I either need to make use of them, or get rid of them.
5. Learn to make my own hats. I've recently come around to the idea that I can wear hats. I used to think they looked weird on me, but that was just the wrong hats and/or poorly fitting hats. Apparently I have a small head, because even the size Small hat I recently bought from an excellent hat maker (on a great sale!) was still a bit on the big size. They occasionally - but rarely - have size XS (but the XS are rarely still around when they get to being on sale). Looking at the hat, it seems like something I could do, and not have to pay $140+ for a hat that fits properly. Challenge accepted!
6. Be better about blogging about completed projects in a timely manner.
7. Participate in another sewalong. I love the camaraderie and the help that comes with participating. Suggestions on places to find out about more are always welcome.

I'm also thinking I'll participate in some sewing contests on PatternReview. I just got some Jalie patterns, so will probably try one out in February for the New to Me Pattern Co. contest, and may participated in the pants, pattern stash, and TNT tee contests too.