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.