Saturday, 22 March 2014

More than a t-shirt

Hello again friends!

I made a t-shirt! Sort of - check it out!

I am so pleased with how this turned out - I got the idea from a couple of RTW tops I've seen around the shops, and just went for it.

The pattern is from the Built by Wendy Dresses book. This is only the second time I've used a pattern from this book, which has been languishing on the shelf for a while. It includes three basic patterns - the shift dress, which I used here, a sheath dress with raglan sleeves, and a dirndl dress. These patterns don't have a ton of ease, so I sized up to the large and shortened the shoulder seam about 1/2". This left me with the boxy shape I was looking for.

The fabric was a gift from a de-stashing friend, and it was love at first sight. I think it's some kind of blend, it's definitely not 100% wool. It's got a lot going on, and it took a while to decide how I wanted the pattern to work. I kept the dominant stripe horizontal, and managed to match the pattern pretty well.

For the binding, I chose some lovely plummy silk charmeuse, and used the wrong side. I loved the colour, but the shine was just not right, so the matte side was the way to go. I used the continuous method (or little pants, as we called it at school) to make my bias strips, and ended up with 4 strips 55" long from an 11" length of fabric.

As for the pattern adjustments and construction, the BBW dress book patterns do not include seam allowance (which I like, since that's how I draft, on the rare occasion I get around to it). I traced my pattern pieces onto the fabric, and made sure to mark a 1/2" seam allowance at the side seams. I did not add any hem allowance; since the hem is bound, that would have been a waste of fabric. For the other seams, I just eyeballed my seam allowances. Since the fabric frayed like crazy, I serged all the edges, including those that would be bound. I then used the serging as a guide when sewing the binding.

After binding the sides and hems of the front and back, I continued as normal (shoulders, neck etc.), and when it was time to sew up the side seams, I just laid the front over the back, pinned first to make sure I wouldn't have any surprises, and stitched from the right side. Presto, design feature! Then I set the sleeves in, and toyed with the idea of binding the hems as well, but decided to leave them with a plain hem. In a lighter fabric, I might be tempted to bind the sleeve hem as well.

If I were to do this again, I might move the side seams forward by adding to the back and reducing the front a bit. But that is a mere quibble, I am in love with this top, and seeing the pics again has inspired me to wear it again!

Pattern matching delight - but you can see how springy the fabric is - that seam did not want to lay flat!

In a side note, I have been reading along with the Colette Wardrobe Architect series, and this is definitely one of my preferred silhouettes. I could use a few more boxy tops in my life, and this was an excellent start.

And now to move on to some spring projects!

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Denim On Top

Hello all, and thanks for the love in my last post! I feel all warm and fuzzy. At least on the inside, outside it is still a very chilly winter!

But, the cold weather just means more sewing time, right? Here's the latest from my factory of one.

This is Butterick 5926, a jacket pattern designed for stretch fabrics. This fabric is a denim look knit, really lovely, from Fabricland. The pattern has two lengths, just above the hip and just below, and two sleeve lengths, full length and bracelet length. I prefer shorter jackets, so that was a no brainer. I usually like to push my sleeves up, so the sleeve length was a bit of a debate. In the end I went with full length.

Sorry about the lighting - I was so impatient to get some photos after weeks of cold & snow.

It was tricky to choose a size, I usually go with a 14 from the Big 4, but I sized down to a 12 and I'm glad I did. It's snug, but without much structure or lining, I was trying to avoid getting too baggy. The one piece sleeves do have a dart, and there are back neck darts as well as a bust dart in the front.

I made a couple of small pattern alterations, the usual shortening of the body (3/4") and the addition of a back neck facing. One of the other reviewers on Pattern Review suggested it, and in the end it gave a less bulky finish to the back neck. The most time consuming part of sewing this jacket was my decision to use a hong kong finish on EVERY SINGLE EXPOSED SEAM ALLOWANCE. Brutal. I'm happy, but that decision easily tripled my sewing time!

I made a couple of small pattern alterations, the usual shortening of the body (3/4") and the addition of a back neck facing. One of the other reviewers on PR suggested it, and in the end it gave a less bulky finish to the back neck. The most time consuming part of sewing this jacket was my decision to use a hong kong finish on EVERY SINGLE EXPOSED SEAM ALLOWANCE. Brutal. I'm happy, but that decision easily tripled my sewing time.

I have some indigo print Japanese handkerchiefs in my stash, and used three of them to make the bias tape for the seam finishing. I had two with the smaller floral, and used the larger floral for the hems and armholes.

Also for this project, I used my new (old) Janome 657. Instead of double stitching the body seams, as instructed, I used the triple stitch and gave my new friend quite a work out. I ended up returning to my not new but less old Kenmore to attach the pockets and stitch the hems, since the Janome presser foot has only one pressure setting.

There's something about this jacket that really says "spring" to me, and I'm looking forward to wearing it more as things warm up around here.

Til next time...

Friday, 31 January 2014

Chloe Redux

I may have mentioned before that Victory Patterns' Chloe dress is one of my favourites. This is my third one, and I think it's my favourite.

Photos are a bit dark, sorry, it's still winter.

I was very inspired by this skirt from Anthro. But since I find skirts very difficult to wear, I opted to make a dress version. New ideas for the Chloe pattern had been swirling around in my head, and this seemed like the perfect combination. And, I had a large piece of olive linen in my stash, just begging to be cut into.

Alright, now for the nitty gritty. I didn't get around to posting about my first sleeveless Chloe, so I'll share with you now. This pattern fit me really well out of the envelope (or fresh off the printer, I should say - side note - I'm very happy that Victory Patterns are available in paper form now!) I shortened the bodice by 3/4" as usual, as well as sticking with my lengthening of the skirt by 4". Other bloggers have noticed that the sleeveless version leaves a quite low armhole, and I would agree. Some have taken the excess out at the shoulder, but the darts were in a good spot for me and I didn't want them getting too high. I was happy with where the sleeve sat at the underarm in my first attempt, so I raised the armhole using the sleeve as a guide. I added width to the back shoulder at the armhole as well, to make sure bra straps would be covered at all times.

It's really tricky to see in this photo, but because I liked the way the princess seams sat on my back, I just made a small angled seam towards the armhole to accommodate the additional width at the upper back.

And yes, I even remembered to take some construction photos, if you are interested in seeing how I handled the lace panel.

Lovely lace close up.

After measuring the front panel, I was relieved to find that I would only need a piece 18"wide by 36" long. A good thing, since this lace was exactly 36" wide! I shopped around, but lace is always expensive, so $30 for half a yard it was. 

First, I soaked the lace in Eucalan and laid it flat to dry. I'm not sure how I'll be washing this dress in future, but a pre-wash seemed like a good idea. And you don't need to rinse with Eucalan, so there was minimal wear and tear on my precious lace.

I marked the hem fold line on the the right side of my front panel linen, then positioned the lace on top, lining up the border with the chalk line. I basted horizontally, and along the edges. Then I trimmed off the bottom selvedge of the lace and serged the two fabrics together.

Upside down! Oops.

I proceeded to put the dress together as normal,  and when I got to the hem, (machined), I was able to lift the lace out of the way and start and stop my stitching right at the edge of the front panel

Hem close-up!

If you look very closely, you can see the machine hem stitches.

So there you have it, one more Chloe for Chloe. As I've said before, it was a match just meant to be.

Let's hear it for the tried and true patterns!

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

The Second Chances Dress

Say hello to V8805, round two. Last spring, I made up this pattern in fabric that I just love, but wasn't happy with the final dress. (See here, worn once, now a top.) However, I really felt the pattern had some potential, given a different fabric, and here we are!

This is the pattern straight out of the envelope, with only one minor change - I added piping between the middle and bottom panels to differentiate them. I didn't want to use a third fabric, but I did want a bit of visual interest. I was even thinking of adding pockets in the seam, (a la Sallie) but it's a bit low, and I didn't feel like moving it up. And unlike many dress patterns, this one is as long as it seems on the envelope. I usually find myself adding a few inches to the length, but not this time.

I threw caution to the wind and decided to make this dress in a knit. I had the black fabric left over from an earlier project, it's a medium weight double knit. The grey I bought for this dress, and though you can't see it in the photos, it has a very narrow black  horizontal stripe. It's very subtle, but it does give the grey fabric a bit more life. I didn't size down, so it's a bit roomy under the arms, but it doesn't bother me. 

As for the back neck closure, mine is fake! There is a button, but it's purely decorative. I bound the neckline instead of turning the strip to the inside. It looks neater, and gives the neckline stability. I finished the sleeves and hem with a straight stretch stitch, which I don't think I've ever used before. 

My winter wardrobe is fairly heavy on the neutrals, so I've been trying to wear some brighter accessories - I've had these beads for a while now, and they go together really well - bonus! I think I've got a real wardrobe workhorse here - I finished it on Boxing Day, and I think it's been worn three times already.

Til next time...

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Happy New Year - with PJs!

Hello 2014! I've been meaning to be a bit more active on the blogging front, so what better way to start the new year than with a new post? And for the record, these were 99.9% finished until this morning. All I had left to do was add a couple of inches to the waistband elastic to make them more comfy, and therefor actually wearable.

Current temperature: -11C, windchill -18C. I blame any awkward posing on the weather.

I did have a pajama pattern in my stash (M5592. Unblogged, sorry. They have very odd proportions), but I decided to spring for McCalls M6659. It's a great pattern, with loads of options. It includes a robe, two distinct styles of tops and pants, and decent instructions for inserting cuff piping. It's a keeper.

Now for the saga of the fabric. I bought what I had thought was a twin sheet set, swept away by the fun eyeglass print, but when I finally got around to opening the package fully, I discovered that there was only a fitted sheet and pillowcase!!! If I'd planned to use them as sheets, they would have been sent right back to the store, but I decided to see how far I could make this one sheet stretch. 

I unpicked the sheet, elastic and all, to preserve as much fabric as possible (two episodes of Downton Abbey). Then I decided to save space by not making the separate piped cuff for the pants, so I simply pinned the cuff pattern piece to the hem of the pant piece, overlapping to eliminate the seam allowances. When it came to the shirt sleeves, I didn't have enough length anywhere to use the same trick, which is why the sleeves have the piped cuff. Design features on the fly! Of course, that was before I realized how long this pattern is - I'm 5'7, and the sleeves and pant legs are both on the long side. The sleeves could almost be finished at the piping line!

Other than my fabric saving, I made the straight size 16, one size up than usual, because I prefer roomy pjs. And I left out the darts in the back of the shirt - again, roomy, and also better with this big print.

Pink accents! I used pink thread for the buttonholes, too, you can see it if you look very closely...

The piping is from my stash, I don't quite remember what it was to be for originally, but it came in handy here.
Sadly there is one more issue with this fabric. Even though I carefully tested a couple of different iron on interfacings, the collar is already bubbling underneath the black glasses. The white fabric shrank a bit (yes, I did pre-wash), but the black did not. But if it has to happen, I suppose it's best if it's something one doesn't intend to wear out in the world.

I hope everyone is having a relaxing New Years Day, perhaps even in their own pajamas!

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Wrapping Up 2013

Here we are, the end of 2013, and time for the Hits and Misses of the year. I was hoping to squeeze a few more posts in before now, but it was not meant to be. You'll just have to trust me when I say that November was very productive. However, this lack of blogging means I've cut down to three hits and misses.

Looking back on the past 12 months, here are the hits:

Rising from the Ashes Blouse

This blouse just ticks all my boxes - comfortable, pretty without being too sweet, goes with just about everything, and can be worn year round. No regrets here!

McCalls 6512

This blouse has a lot in common with the Ashes one, easy to wear and goes with most of my wardrobe.  All that topstitching was well worth it.

Unblogged Ikat Chloe!

Considering how much I love this dress, it's a real shame it didn't get a post of it's own. Victory Patterns' Chloe is one of my favourite patterns, I've made a third version recently, and have a fourth percolating in the back of my mind. 

And the misses:

Winter Wool Trousers

These were a classic case of a pretty decent pattern (self drafted) in the wrong fabric. They just didn't fit in well in my closet, and were only worn once or twice before being donated. Hopefully they have found a new home.

Vogue 8805

I really like this pattern, and this fabric, but they just didn't work well together. I think the fabric was just a bit too crisp. The dress is now a top, and I managed to salvage the rest of the fabric and turn it into a pair of Maritime shorts. It's a pretty cute outfit now, but naturally the shorts are a bit on the small side. Sigh. 

White Jeans

White jeans. The name says it all, really. I haven't had a chance to wear these yet, since it started raining right after I finished them. So they are on the maybe list. 

The other stuff:

This year, I had the chance to meet up with a fair number of local sewing bloggers in real life, which was a real treat. I'm fortunate in that almost everyone I know sews, most of them do not sew for fun, so it's refreshing to meet others who do it for the love of sewing.

I also joined Pattern Review, and I'm finding it pretty handy when I'm tempted by a new pattern. Getting the pros and cons from such a wide variety of sewers is so helpful. In the new year, I hope to add a few more reviews of my own.

As for goals, more consistent photo documentation! I feel like many of us are in the same boat - it can be tricky to find a good time/place/hair day to take photos. Particularly in the winter - the tree-icicles are pretty, but it is a bit chilly to be running around the yard without a parka.

So here we have it, the year in review! Thanks for stopping by, and for all your comments -

Happy sewing to all, and to all a good night!

Merry Christmas

Monday, 18 November 2013

The Multi-blouse

Here's a fun little number I finished a couple of weeks ago, combining lots of my favourite things.

Collarless - check. Rolled sleeves and tabs- check. Different fabrics front and back - check and check!
This photo will not stay centred!

This is Butterick 5826, with a heavy influence of this blouse from Anthro. Ignore the terrible cover images, and you have a pretty useful pattern. Basically, it's view A with the yoke line on the back taken from View B, without using the whole yoke over the shoulder. The front is a poly print that could basically serve as my current colour palette, the back and sleeves are an off white t-shirt knit, the neck bands are microfibre, and the tabs and yoke are a poly/cotton shirting. Phew!

Now that I've worn this top a couple of times, I would try and use a balance the weights of the fabric a bit more if I do this again - which could happen, I love the look. But it does shift around a bit. And a note about this pattern - the sleeves are pretty shapeless tubes, and I may taper them to be more fitted.

Sleeve tabs - I probably spent just as long searching for the perfect D rings as sewing it up! I settled for  alright D rings in the end. I wanted them to be just an eighth of an inch smaller, and more brassy.

A better idea of the true colours.
The only other thing I would watch out for in this pattern is the uninspired finish to the neck bands at the centre front. I'd rather have a nice triangle point on the outside, but I followed the instructions and tucked everything to the inside. Then I needed to cover the exposed seam allowance, which was easy enough with a little scrap of the same fabric as a binding. But I would put more effort into the placket if I do this again.

So there you have it, another happily finished make!