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)?