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!

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Shirtdress to the Rescue

Hello, my name is Chloe and I have eighteen pairs of tights. 

And have not worn a dress or skirt in the fall or winter more than a handful of times in the past, oh, four or five years. Cue my latest creation, Simplicity 1755. This is a shirtdress with a few nice details: raglan sleeves, an in-seam opening at the centre front neck, and a nicely pleated skirt. And suitable for wearing with tights.

As my above tights admission may tell you, this shirtdress is a bit of a stretch for me, stylewise, but I loved the raglan sleeves and the collar, and decided to mix it up a bit. 

I also loved the small midriff band, which, as it turns out, was in my imagination. The pattern description "dress in two lengths and TIE BELT" was not enough for me. I think the technical drawing is a bit misleading as well, since it appears that underneath the belt is a waistband. Not so. However, I didn't let that stop me, and added the missing piece in myself. And I am so glad I did, as the waist/midriff band supports the skirt pleats really well. After shortening the bodice along the lengthen/shorten line, I used the bottom of that line as my seam line, and made the pattern piece into two separate pieces, the bodice and the midriff.

Don't be fooled. It's a belt!

The fabric is a lightweight cotton sateen, and handled really well. It also holds wrinkles well, which is a bit unfortunate. The bodice is lined with black bemberg I had on hand, and the dress closes at the centre back with an invisible zipper. Sidebar: I have never experienced such a tricky time putting one of these in! But the zipper tape seemed to be warped, and kept pushing my needle off course. I will definitely check the tapes more carefully next time.

The collar closes with tiny hooks and loops that keep it rolled over into place.

The sleeves have buttons and loops at the cuff.

Aside from adding the missing waistband, I followed the advice of someone on Pattern Review, and pleated the front bodice and lining together. Other than that, I found the instructions nice and clear. Oh, and I did not make the belt. No bows here.

One last pic - I feel a bit like a waitress from the forties, where is my apron?

Til next time...

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Simpler Sweater

Hello again internets! Here's a quick little project I finished up last week. It's a sweater, but of an entirely different kind than my last post.

Yes, it's a simple raglan sweater, made up of some really great knit I picked up at this year's Textile Museum sale. And I consider it a stash bust, since a trip to the sale is basically a stash build up exercise. You just have to get in there and pick things quickly, hoping that inspiration strikes later - this is pretty much the opposite of my usual fabric aquisition method. But, I digress.  Here's another photo.

I used a pattern from a friend's stash, Simplicity 8618, printed in 1978. I loved the raglan sleeves, but not the V-neck, so I swapped it out for a simple round neck instead. I added a contrasting band to the sleeve cuffs using the wrong side of the fabric, and left off the bottom band, since I didn't want to go full on sweatshirt with this project. It's almost entirely serger-sewn, with the exception of the hem. I used the trusty twin needle - I find the coverstitch on my serger more trouble than it's worth most of the time.

The pattern was printed with a whole sheet of sewing with knit tips - very cute.

The back is pretty much just like the front - told you it was simple!

Cuff close up. And a shot of my totally unintentional stripe matching at the raglan seam.

This fabric is so warm and cozy, perfect now that we are fully into fall. But it sheds like crazy - I looked like I'd been rolling around with a few cats by the time it was finished! I just hope the shedding slows down over time.

I've made myself a little list of fall/winter sewing plans, but I'm not sure I'll post it - this way only I will know how productive (or not!) I've been! And every post will be a surprise.

Til next time...

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Hoot Hoot!

I have something new to share today...

my first sweater!!!

I think that deserves three exclamation points. Yes folks, here you have it, a finished sweater. I took up knitting last November, and during class, I came across a photo of this beauty, Owls by Kate Davies. Seeing it inspired me to learn to cable (easy peasy, thanks to Glenna C. and Ewe Knit), and make my first sweater!

I started this project at the end of March, and ended up taking May and June off from knitting, only to finish off a fairly heavy sweater in July. I couldn't bear to put it on, even for photos! But now, fall is well and truly upon us, so sweater snaps were taken.

Here's my ravelry link, in case you are into knitting. One thing I will say about this sweater, I wish I had made it a size up. Basically, wearing it will be very good for my posture, but it's a bit snug! And a bit tight under the arms. I'm sure as I gain more experience, I'll be able to head these things off before they are un-doable, but I have a wearable sweater, so I'm happy!

More photos? I thought you'd never ask...

I used a yarn called Berroco Peruvia Quick, and I really liked working with it, and it's certainly warm, and not terribly itchy, though it is 100% wool. The colour is called Plateau, it's a medium brown with a light blue/grey heather quality. I wanted something that looked natural and "owly", and I'm happy with my choice.

How about a close up of those adorable owls?

The buttons are a wood-look plastic. I chose plastic buttons for two reasons - they are smooth, and cost effective. All those eyes - 36 in total!

 I'm enjoying knitting, it's nice to do something that is all new, it's a kind of adventure! And of course, there are so many lovely yarns out there, it would be a shame not to be able to use them!

Monday, 2 September 2013

White Jeans on Labour Day!

 I've squeaked in just under the wire, with my white jeans finally completed for Labour Day! Believe me, they've been a long time coming.

I was zipping along, and ready to attach the waistband, when I tried these babies on, and had the oh no moment. The rise was far too high, and I like a high rise! But these just looked weird, especially with the more relaxed leg I was trying out. So, out came the nicely installed fly, off came the back yokes (already serged and topsitched, oh yes), and then came the procrastination. I'm a one project at a time kind of sewer, pretty much, so they just sat there waiting for a couple of weeks, abandoned at the machine, holding other potential sewing hostage.

But they are done now, here are the photos to prove it:
I'm only tucking my shirt in for blogging purposes.
Probably more like this in real life.

Yes, there they are. And not too many leg wrinkles! 
The back - looks pretty normal.
 I used my self-drafted pattern, and made a few improvements along the way. Time consuming improvements, but worth it in the end, I think.

Rise - lowered to a mid-rise.
Fly - used the Grainline Maritime shorts method, since it was fresh in my mind. Worked out fine, both times!
Topstitching - I chose a very light grey topstitching thread from the Guterman brand. They have quite a few colours to choose from. I could have gotten away with one spool, but for the unpicking.
Leg - not my usual skinny. I took off about 1" from the back inseam and outseam from the original block. They are comfortable, but I prefer the skinny jean, so any future pairs will probably be narrower again.
Pockets - it is very tricky to position back pockets on ones' self. But I think they are pretty good, if a bit closer to the yokes than I had planned. And the front pocket bags continue to the the centre front and are enclosed by the fly shield and facing. I love this method, and will definitely handle front pockets this way in future.

Metal zipper and button.

Fun pocket stitching!
So, all in all a success in the end. Will I wear these? Possibly not too often, but I wanted something to wear with blue and navy tops, to avoid the all blue effect.

This wraps up my summer of sewing, but I have some great projects lined up for fall that I'm really excited about. Now it's just a question of finding the time...

Until next time!

Friday, 2 August 2013

The return of M6512

I love white shirts. I love to wear them year round, love how they look with jeans, and under cardigans, or on their own. But my white shirt wardrobe is in need of a few replacements, because as we all know, white does not last forever. Especially with the amount of wear a much loved garment can get.

So I've started replenishing the white shirt stock, starting with McCall's 6512, the "Chic Soft Blouse". This is my second time around with this pattern, the tie neck version was one of my most worn blouses of this past winter.

I made the same size as my earlier version, but this fabric has more body, and the pockets really reduce the drape of the fabric as well, so I feel like I could have sized down. This is a Palmer/Pletsch pattern, so there are lots of helpful alteration lines included, but I did not use any. It's a pretty easy fit, at any rate.

The back - there are two small tucks at the back yoke.

The front again.

If you look carefully, you can see topstitching!

It even looks nice just laying there.

The fabric itself is quite possibly viscose, and handles really nicely. It's got a very subtle texture, which adds a bit of interest to the "plain white shirt" vibe. There are a couple of tricky seam intersections in this pattern, so instead of a french seam, I serged the seam allowances and topstitched them down for the sleeve and yoke, and added topstitching to the neck band and button placket as well. I didn't want the pocket flaps to get any more perky than necessary, so I left them plain. One thing I will say about the pocket flaps, I wish I had not used interfacing. They don't lay down quite a nicely as I would like, and in a semi-sheer fabric, they stand out a bit.

I'm really happy with this blouse, but not happy that I got caught biking home in the rain while wearing it! Hopefully all the road dirt comes out!

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Maritime in the Maritimes

Greetings from the Maritimes! And the Maritime shorts! Last week I was visiting Nova Scotia, and of course had to bring my new shorts along for the trip - 

Yes, these are the Maritime shorts from Grainline, and they are great. This pattern is a real winner - no significant alterations, very good results.

Fabric: Midnight blue twill with a bit of stretch.

Pattern adjustments: Cut the size 10 and graded down to an 8 along the side seams from the bottom of the pocket to the hem - much easier than grading up from the hip. The standard advice for trouser (and shorts) sizing is to use your hip measurement, and adjust the waist as needed, but I found this route to be MUCH easier - and far fewer pieces to alter. I added two inches to the hem, but then used a larger hem allowance, so these guys are about 1 1/2" longer than the pattern. I also added 1" to the top, since I have muffin top paranoia, but I think I could have gone with the original. 

Sewing epiphany: As you can see, the left pocket meets the side seam in a smooth, practically invisible join - if I weren't pointing to it, you would not know it was there.

However, on the left side, there is a tiny wrinkle in the pocket facing, and the pocket lining (yes, I did use white, I ran out of fabric) pops out. The pocket facing/lining is wider than the top layer of fabric! This is purely a construction mishap (see amazing pocket results, above). I've noticed this a couple of times before, but finally put two and two together, and from now on when I baste my pocket to the side seams, I will check for this preventable mistake and take action! I guess I just needed to see both the good and the bad in one place to figure this one out.

Basically, these shorts are just what I needed. Casual, but nice enough to wear on adventures in the real world. And if, like me, you are not very curvy in the waist/hip area, this pattern is just a dream come true. I'm cool with drafting my own pants/trousers/jeans, but it is so nice to find a pattern that works with just a few minor tweaks. 

Happy Sunday!

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Stashbusting: June

The Stashbusting Challenge has reached the half-way mark, and I have managed to bust every month! Woot woot! 

June's theme was containment, which I was very happy about. I had visions of whipping up a big pile of tote bags and zip-up pouches for everything and everyone. By the end of the month, I had made one thing. For myself. I still have the fabric for the imaginary bags, they may still happen. So, here's what I did make:

A knitting needle roll, following a tutorial from Stitch Parade. Thanks Andrea! I just took up knitting last winter, and am currently stalled at the half-way mark on my first sweater (not much incentive for a sweater in July). I've finished 3 other small projects, and have about 10 sets of needles already. Needles that I was "storing" on top of my dresser. Not even in a shoe box, that just didn't occur to me! 

Ta-da! Finished needle roll.
The outer fabric is an Echino heavy cotton fat quarter. What I originally though I would do with it, I can't imagine. It's gorgeous, but a fat quarter? Tough to find a good use for it.
For the inside, I used a heavy linen remnant, and had to piece the deepest pocket. No scrap left behind!
The only thing I didn't have on hand was a nice ribbon for the closure, so I  treated myself at Mokuba.

Ribbon close up - turquoise moire with bright pink weft!
This project went together really smoothly. The fabrics are very complimentary, and it looks like a pricey knitting store item! I didn't use a batting or felt layer since my fabrics were a heavier weight, and I don't have a walking foot. I'm keeping my double pointed needles in their packages for now, until I come across a handy needle gauge card, which will fit nicely in one of the pockets.

Thanks again, Andrea, for this great tutorial!