Sunday, 24 May 2015

Sewn: Named Alexandria trousers

Well, here at Button and Needle, we've skipped right over spring into summer. But this latest addition to my spring (and most likely fall and winter) wardrobe really came in handy.

Way back at the end of March, my appendix and I parted company. It was a surprise, as I'm sure it is most of the time, and when it came time to go back to work, my skinny jeans just weren't going to cut it. At all. I turned into a big puffball, and in a possibly pain med induced fit of desperation, I decided that making my own sweatpants was preferable to dragging myself to the mall to buy some. Also, pyjamas at the mall - not a line I want to cross.

So, meet my secret pyjamas - Named Alexandria trousers in charcoal grey loop back fleece. So so very comfortable, and also work appropriate! I purchased this fabric at Fabricana out west, without having a plan, but knowing it would come in handy. And I had been searching for a casual pleated front trouser pattern for a while when the Ticket collection was released. I had the pattern taped together and cut out before the appendix incident, so it was ready to go.

I cut the size 42, based on my hip measurement. My waist is hovering in the 44-46 size range, and there is still plenty of ease at the waist to create the gathered look without any alterations to the pattern. I didn't size down for working with a knit, but I am very happy with the easy fit.

The back pockets.

I cut the front "corner" piece and inner pocket bag in one, by simply pinning the two pattern pieces together along the seam line. And I didn't add the drawstring at the waist, as I really don't like them, unless they are on real pyjamas. The back pockets are on the low side, which was fine for this pair, as I won't be tucking shirts in to them, but might be too low otherwise.

A peek inside the pocket/pleat.

These came together so easily, I just plunked myself down at the serger and whipped them up on Sunday afternoon for work on Monday morning. In order for the pocket to hide under the second pleat, you do need to pay attention to the notches, but if you follow them, you'll be just fine.

All in all, these are a welcome addition to my closet. And I love the pattern, I think it's really versatile, and I can imagine a few different pairs fitting into my life very easily!

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, 8 March 2015

On the Watson Wagon

Welcome to March! And welcome to my newfound love, lingerie making!

There must be something in the air these days, it seems like bra making posts are popping up all over the place. And eventually, my interest was piqued. The combination of the Watson pattern from Cloth Habit and the fabric kits from Blackbird Fabrics was too powerful to resist.

Hello ladies!

First let's talk about the Watson in general. I'm an underwire girl all the way, but in all my sewing adventures I had yet to make a bra (well, with the exception of the Pneuma), so this looked like a good project to get my feet wet. I struggled with the sizing at first, measuring my rib cage at 31", upper bust at 36" and full bust at 39". This led me to choose the 34C. (For reference, I generally wear a 34D). I merrily cut everything out, and followed the excellent sew along start to finish over the course of an afternoon.

At the end, I had made a very pretty bra for a someone who is much smaller than I.

I could just barely get the band fastened, but it was far too tight and I was squeezed out everywhere. One issue that I had overlooked is that the pattern comes in from the top of the band to the bottom, and I am pretty much straight down through my torso. Also, it was just too small.

As for the cups, lets just say they runneth over. There was just nowhere for me to go!

The side view really shows the difference in size. 36E is on the left.

But I was undeterred, and jumped right back into things with version 2. This time I opted for the shorter band, and after comparing pattern pieces to some of my existing bras, cut the 36E. And it fits! This is definitely a lounging around the house eating bon bons bralette, but it is totally wearable.

The winner! Not sure what's going on with the lighting here though.

I found the kit from Blackbird had everything that I needed, although the fabric is shinier than I had thought - gives me a bit more of an American Apparel feeling than I was looking for. The elastics are great, and the back closure is a real winner. It feels nice and soft, and was easy to attach. And they are now available for purchase individually! I had enough elastic for both bras, but I did need to get more strapping for #2, along with rings, sliders & closure of course. The lycra from Blackbird is a bit on the lightweight side for me, if I'd had more of the power mesh left, I would have experimented with lining the cups with it. But there's always next time.

There's one other thing I noticed during this journey - I used a different machine for #2, and the feed dogs are a bit wider set. This made for some frustrating moments when the fabric just would not feed evenly, or the seam allowances got stuck in the plate. Changing the presser foot pressure didn't really help, but by that time, I just wanted to see how I was doing size-wise. It's given me something to look for if I ever do replace my current machine, which gave me no trouble for #1. Here's a peek inside so you can see what I mean:

See, not so nice. Lots of dragging and catching.

Even though it took a second try to get a wearable result, I'm hooked. I haven't had this much fun sewing something in ages. I mean, it's usually enjoyable, but this was truly fun!

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Sweater Weather: Brooklyn Tweed Coda

Hello out there, greetings from the winter wonderland that is Ontario! I know we're not alone, and that most of eastern Canada and our southern neighbour states are under a big blanket of snow. What better way to while away the cold days than knitting?

This started out as a Brooklyn Tweed Coda, which is a lovely pattern. The front has a cable along the raglan seam, and the back has an arched cable across the upper back. However, the more experienced knitters of Ravelry who had posted photos gave me pause. I really didn't like how the back arch looked, and I knew I would not want to wear it with the arch on the front (the pattern is designed to be reversible). So, I boldly changed course partway through - a bit of a leap for my second ever sleeved sweater, admittedly!

Well hello - come check out my cables.

According to my Ravelry notes,  I started this sweater in September, though it does seem like it's been longer. Some projects just like to linger with us, don't they? Not helped in the least by my decision to alter the pattern, and discovering that one ball of yarn (Textile Museum sale haul!!) was just a ball of really short strands.  So, here's what I finished up with, and a quickie recap of what I changed, for the record.

Yup, no arch here.

Once the front was finished, I went ahead and knit the back the same way, but I added another 8 rows of the pattern to bring it up higher at the back neck. Then I did some fun math, starting the sleeves from the bottom up, and decreasing using the original pattern as a I guide. I finished off with some short rows to shape the sleeves at the top, and used the original neck ribbing from the pattern. I made loads of mysterious notes, but I'm not 100% sure I could recreate this again.

The itch factor is medium, there may be some collared shirt sewing in my future...

Oh, and size wise, this is the 41, on most days that should be 3" of positive ease, which is one of the mysteries of knitting for me. It definitely looks more roomy on the model, but I'm pretty happy with how this turned out. And I love the colour - it matches my favourite mustard jeans, which would make a pretty snazzy outfit, I'm sure. I'll leave that to your imagination for now, that's a whole lot of mustard!

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Rigel o Rama

This is my second foray into Papercut Patterns. I actually purchased this pattern with last year's Christmas money, but didn't get around to making it up until last month. And now, with Rigel Bomber Jacket January, I'm right on time.

I had a chunk of grey quilted fabric left over from my last dress, but not enough to make a whole garment. So off to the fabric store I went, and returned with some black quilted fabric, that is unfortunately a slightly lighter weight. I was really hoping for something more similar to the grey, in both weight and style, but I was impatient. Naturally, I found some remnants of other amazing quilted knits a few weeks later, but what's done is done. I really thought this fabric would be a good match for the style of garment, but now I am not so sure. See, Gillian, we are in a similar predicament!

I cut a size Small, as that's the closest to my measurements, but there is something about this jacket that feels big. It seems like the shoulders and upper chest are large, but the body is ok.  Also, the neck seems kind of large and low. I did raise the front opening 1", because it seemed to hit me in a weird spot, but that didn't seem to work. I'm also not in love with the low quality ribbing, which is not a true black, and is too floppy.

The instructions were nice and clear, the only thing I did not do was interface my welts or pocket opening. The wrong side of this fabric is nice and sturdy, and the risk of fraying pretty much nil. I did enjoy making the welts, and aside from them, I whipped up this whole garment on my serger, which is always fun.

Friends, this project is a fail for me. I like boxy, but I feel like a lump when I put this on, which so far has only been for these photos. So many people have made really great Rigel jackets, but I am just not one of them. I'm not 100% sure, but I think the raglan sleeves have a lot to do with it. Particularly with this colour blocking, I don't think they are doing me any favours.

Sad. And out of focus to boot.

A bit of a bummer to start the year off with, but I'm just going to post this, and move on!

Here's to happier sewing ahead!

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Fourteen and a half!

Hello there! Yes, I'm still sewing away in my little corner of the universe, but the time sure has been flying by. To get me back into the swing of things, I thought I'd share one of my favourite recent makes, McCall's 3074, a "Pounds Thinner" pattern.

Vintage patterns hadn't held much appeal for me until recently. I'm not 100% sure where I picked up this little tidbit, but somewhere along the line, I learned about the half size patterns of the 1960's and 70's - patterns drafted not only to be petite, lengthwise, but a bit more generous through the middle, and with a lower bust. Basically, these patterns were drafted with my figure in mind. At 5'7, I'm not petite, but I'm certainly short waisted, and after shortening bodices, I usually need to expand the waistline of patterns by a size or two. I get around this a lot of the time by choosing straighter cuts, which I love, but I couldn't resist the siren call of the half size sewing pattern!

And judging from this post from Dress a Day, I'm not alone. Okay, on to the dress.

This is View A, without the collar. There is are seams centre front and back, and seaming diagonally to shape the bust. The back also has a seam at the waist, as well as darts, and opens with a zip centre back.

 The fabric is an amazing quilted knit that I first spotted over on Sewaholic last year. Check out Tasia's post for loads of tips on how to deal with these fun quilted knits, it's excellent. At any rate, when visiting out west last summer, I found the last couple of metres on the bolt at Fabricana, and I was over the moon. This was the fabric the pattern had been waiting for, and it all came together beautifully.

The fabric is very thick, and doesn't really press at all, so the centre front neck is a bit bulky. I trimmed the seams as close as I dared, and really gave it a good whack with the iron, and it's not bad. I also put in an invisible zip, because I prefer them. I find I get a reliably neater finish, and I enjoy putting them in.

Top stitching!

I top stitched all the seams, except the centre back - I didn't want to draw attention to the zip, just have it blend right in. The hems and facings are cross stitched in place, since the fabric has a fused backing, perfect for invisible tacking.

This was a really fun and satisfying project, and I love this dress! I've even snatched up a few more half-size dress patterns to try the next time the vintage bug bites. 

Thanks for stopping by - and Merry Christmas!

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Work Out! Pneuma Tank

So, this summer I switched up my exercise routine a bit. And by switch up, I mean restart - this past winter was one of the least active seasons of my adult life! What better way to boost my chances of hitting the gym (or in this case, barre - very fun) than a new outfit?

I have always liked to have a put together outfit for the gym/yoga studio/step class or whatever my current routine may be. Not necessarily a fancy outfit, but something that makes me feel like I'm dressed for the occasion. Some of my older pieces were starting to actually wear out, so it really was perfect timing that Papercut Patterns stepped into the work out wear arena.

This is the Pneuma Tank, from Papercut's TRI collection. And, exciting for those of us who live far from New Zealand, it is available as a downloadable pattern. Instant gratification time! And this little number stitches up quickly, too. It really didn't want to be photographed, so there aren't too many pics, but it was a fun project.

The tank hems were finished using the rolled hem stitch on the serger - quick and tidy.

I made a size small, with the tank portion in a medium, and I'm so glad I did. The bra portion fits quite well, although at a fairly full C cup, I could use just another 1/2" in length in the front so that the band fits more comfortably under my bust. After checking over the measurements, I went with the medium tank, to make sure that the fabric would skim over, not cling to, my stomach. I also decided to fully line the bra portion with the same fabric for additional coverage and support. And speaking of support, for the no impact classes I've been doing (barre/pilates/yoga), it is definitely adequate. I was pleasantly surprised! I'd want more support for anything else, but this is very comfy for what I'm up to.

The only other alteration I made was to shorten the back tank from the top - I lifted it by about 3/4" in a quick and easy sway back adjustment.

Oh, and as an additional treat for myself, I decided to make fabric straps using the three thread coverstitch feature on my serger. Want to see the test runs? Of course you do…

Left: folded in thirds and fed through normally
Centre: folded in thirds with extra on the right hand side
Right: folded in thirds with extra on the left had side - result!

Since the feed dogs of the serger are on left side, the best way to stitch the straps was to fold them in thirds with some extra fabric on the left edge for the feed dogs to grip, and trim it off later. I don't have a belt loop attachment for my serger, but I sure would have liked one while wrestling with these guys - making them probably took as long as all the other steps put together.

And now for some fabric notes. Both the purple and grey came from Peak Fabrics in Calgary. If you're looking for performance fabrics in Canada (or elsewhere, I think they will ship internationally), I would recommend giving them a try. I ordered 5 sample cards and now have swatches for a huge variety of yoga-type knits. After much debate, I chose three fabrics, and I'm pleased with them all. The purple is really sturdy (it's called Extreme Stretch!), good for tops or bottoms, and the grey is a lighter weight (LLL Yoga Wear Dryflex), perfect for my tank, and I have more to make into a tee to wear with existing sports bras, or heck, a whole wardrobe of Pneuma tanks! The fabrics I bought ranged from $16-$18 per metre, but for athletic wear that takes a beating, totally worth it.

It's been in regular rotation for a few weeks now, and is holding up really well.  I've even had a couple of unsolicited compliments from my fellow gym goers, a nice boost to the sewing ego!

Although it's a lovely day here today, this just about marks the end of my summer sewing. But I'll be back next week to let you know how my One Week, One Pattern went!

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Seasonally Appropriate: Simplicity 1652

While it is pretty common knowledge that I am all about the separates, there is still room in my life for dresses, on occasion. Take summer, for instance. There really is something to be said for the sun dress, easy, cool, one piece dressing that doesn't necessarily have to coordinate with the rest of ones' closet. Fun!

Hmm. My head is a bit fuzzy, but the dress looks pretty good...

Enter Simplicity 1652. I know, many of you out there knock out princess seamed full skirted beauties on a regular basis, but for me, this was somewhat of a departure. I bought the pattern with something else entirely in mind (check out this lovely!) However, I had this fabric kicking around, and I thought I would just take a chance on something a bit different.

This is an Amazing Fit pattern, and the instructions have you choose your cup size, baste the dress together, and fit from there. Well, I made a muslin of the bodice, and I am so glad I did. I originally cut the size 14 C cup, which fits my bust to waist section pretty well, but is far too large above the apex., including across front width. If I do come back to this pattern, I'm going to try the B cup, and let it out below the apex instead. So here is what I did, in case you are curious…

Made a 3/4" narrow shoulder adjustment (this tutorial is nice and clear) to the centre front bodice piece.
Made a corresponding adjustment to the upper back piece, also taking out a large wedge from the middle of the piece that I pinned out of my muslin.
Lowered the armholes by 1/2", as they were far too high and tight.
The pattern has the armholes finished with a folded bias strip, but it just wouldn't sit well, particularly at the side front armhole, so I doubled back and drafted a facing instead. It makes for a lot of busy-ness inside, but it sits much better than the binding.
Took in 1/2" either side of the centre back zip, grading to nothing at the waist.
Overlapped the button at the back neck, instead of having the closure right on the edge.
For me, this is a long list! Fitting a princess seam is very different from fitting my usual boxy pieces.

This pattern included very generous 1" seam allowances at the side seam, which was helpful, as I am a bit wider through the torso than the 14, which is the largest size in this grouping. I ended up using a regular 5/8" seam allowance at the bodice sides, but on the back at the underarm I took it in to use the full 1".

In other news, I did not shorten the bodice, as I usually have to do, since the waist seam sits "above the natural waist". In my case, right on the natural waist. Bonus! And, the skirt was long enough without having to add length. However, I have worn this dress twice out in the real world, and I think I need to lengthen the front somewhere above the apex, as I keep tugging it down to get the seam to sit properly. Oh, and I also shifted the gathering of the skirt front so that my stripes would line up. I didn't really take that into consideration when cutting, so it was a bit of a lucky thing there.

Want to see the insides? Of course you do.

And yes, I lined the bodice, and in hindsight I suppose I could have done some sort of clean finish armhole. However, the facing is already looking a bit, oh, how to say this, sweaty. For a summer dress, a facing can be a bit of a life saver. Or at least a dress saver.

My final words of wisdom for this pattern - definitely make a muslin first - that narrow shoulder adjustment was extreme!

Thanks for stopping by!