Sunday, September 14, 2014

More Drawers


Hello! I'm enjoying the dregs of what had been a really lovely, relaxing weekend. We are in Indian Summer, so while most people in the northern hemisphere are thinking about fall sweaters, I'm enjoying warm lazy Sundays when the fog finally lifts in my hood. I'm in various stages of planning/execution for a few fall wardrobe additions: a jacket, several versions of my new favorite tee-shirt pattern - the Bronte by Jennifer Lauren- which I will blog about very soon, and...pants! After making the Grainline Maritime shorts, I feel ready. Ready as I'll ever be anyway. ;)

But for now, I'll just show you my underwear.

Yes, more underwear. A big part of me feels really silly taking photographs of my homemade underpants, much less blogging about it, but I'm finding it really helpful to keep notes. My green ones blogged here did not last very long at all. I don't know if it had to do with the wooly thread or the fabric. I'm thinking, though, that the fabric had a lot to do with it because I noticed that my beach cover up (in the same post) also ripped and snagged and developed holes quite easily. Ultimately, I want to ensure that I improve and make more durable things, which is one reason for keeping track of my makes.

  • These days I'm using three threads (right needle) on everything I make and have not noticed the strength of the seam being compromised. My tension dials: 5 | 6.25 | 6.25 As an added bonus, I'm saving money on machine needles and thread.
  • The white ones are a four way stretch. I used this for undies before, and it's definitely worked the best...for obvious reasons. (ETA: Only use four way stretch for this particular size and pattern. I could hear threads popping when I tried to pull the stripey pairs on this morning. I need to find a different pattern or grade to a larger size for two way knits. It's so weird because my RTW pairs are so much smaller, but I guess that's down to the fabric. Oh well, live and learn. )
  • Still don't quite have the hang of the elastic. The waist is pretty easy, but I still have trouble with the leg holes. I'm cutting 18" for the leg holes and trying not to pull too much when I sew. No point in stretching them taut during the sewing - that's my ass's job.
  • Seems like the printed foldover  elastic (bottom photo) doesn't stretch quite as much. I actually had to redo the legs on both white pairs because of this. Just looking at them all turned and twisted because I pulled too hard was painful. I certainly don't want that twisting to happen when they're on me.  For printed elastic I cut 20" of elastic for the legs instead of 18". 
  • I would like to start adding the elastic in a loop for a neater finish. I didn't this time...obviously
  • Still referring to A Very Purple Person's excellent tutorial. I love it when bloggers use fabric that has an easily distinguishable right and wrong side.



I have so much super-cute foldover elastic from Peak Bloom to practice with, and I always have scraps of knit fabric to use up, so I'm going to keep practicing and keep track of what does and doesn't work. While I don't think they're all that well made or, I guess, blog worthy, I'm glad that I make an effort to use as much leftover fabric as possible. Does anyone have any tips for making use of knitwear scraps?
Thanks very much for reading. I hope you have a lovely week. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014



This is the Clover by Papercut Patterns. I was so charmed by the details, and hopeful because of Papercut's generous amount of ease, that this pattern jumped my sewing queue and got made as soon as I could possibly put it together. Sewing it up was super simple and fun. I definitely learned a bit, which I will outline a little later, but first let's address a few issues here:


These are bees, not flies swarming around my torso. Even if they were flies they would be cute, though, right? Am I the only person who thinks illustrated flies might be cute? Probably. Okay, moving on.


I was excited by the opportunity to try switching around the solids and patterned pieces ( I want to say color blocking, but does that term only apply to solid pieces?), but I made a fatal error in planning out the solid black and the bees: In keeping the raglan sleeves, bust insert, and top of shirt black, I made a giant, white, dual-mountain-peak shape that only served to MAXIMIZE the width of the one section of my body that I would like not to maximize - i.e. my sizable bosom.


As a result, this is really only wearable with a cardigan. So I guess it's a fail, but since I wear cardigans with most of my tops I should still get a lot of wear out of it. And on the bright side, it was very easy to sew and fit, so it'll be easy for me to quickly make another one.

My notes/details:
  • The black fabric was repurposed from a previous sewing attempt (when I tried learning a few years ago). Yay! It's a shirting fabric and has a subtle stripe that looks nice with the directional bust insert pieces. I used some plain white cotton for underlining the bee fabric. I think it was part of a duvet cover. The bees are a cotton voile I purchased at Fabric Outlet in the Mission. They were having a 50% off sale, so I scored a few yards with the intention of using it to line a jacket. That's still the plan. I have lots.
  • No FBA. There are no darts/shaping whatsoever, so I wasn't sure how to go about that. I'm interested in learning more about adding darts and thought about trying that for the underlining. But there's no underarm or neck gaping, so I think it's alright.
  • Next time I will try adding piping. Seems like a perfect detail for this type of look. I've never added piping before, but, you know, there's this magic box filled with tutorials and info. I noticed a nicely piped version the other day by the very talented and prolific Jolies Bobines. (Update - just found this awesome piping tutorial on the BHL Blog.)
  • I used store-bought bias tape for the neck. Black isn't difficult to match, and I wanted to focus my energy on the hem instead.
  • I'm quite proud of the hem. I practiced with the rolled hem foot with the voile. Occasionally the fabric would get sucked under, so I used tissue paper to prevent that. I picked up some new info on rolled hems such as: 
    1. Sew on the WRONG side of the garment.
    2. To prevent the bulk of seams getting stuck in the roll, press side seams and cut in at a 45 degree angle. Or follow this excellent rolled hem tutorial by Lladybird on the Papercut blog. I wish I had read her tutorial first, actually. Her method has you bypass using the foot at the seams.
  • The side and center seams are french for the voile layer. They are serged for the underlining fabric and the sleeves.

Note to self: Don't ask Beej to take pictures of me in the morning before leaving for work. WTF?
Until next time. Thanks for reading!
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Saturday, September 6, 2014



How do you like my creative title? I almost always do what I say I'm going to do but sometimes it just takes me a while to get around to it. Too many ideas floating around my head makes it hard to focus sometimes. But fortunately, this is not one of those times. I knew I wanted to sew more of that pretty rayon challis from my birthday blouse and I knew it was going to be a pajama set. I'm glad I didn't procrastinate on this one.  I was envisioning something along the lines of Grainline's Lakeside pjs, but, honestly, I didn't want to purchase a pattern just for sleepwear. (Trust me, I will be supporting Grainline and other great patternmakers for future makes. I'm already dreaming about making an Archer.)

The camisole is a freebie from Sewloft - the Diana Cami. Lovely, drapey, nice and simple. I took the easy route with the straps by using store bought bias tape. If it turns out to be too scratchy I can always make some fabric straps. I did, however, make matching bias tape to bind the top part of the camisole.

Speaking of Grainline, the bottom is the Maritime Shorts without the waistband, pockets, and front zip. When I sewed them up as shorts they were super big on me, so I had a hunch that I could add a simple elastic channel to turn them into boxers. My hunch was right. :)


It's pretty hard to distinguish between the front and the back of the shorts, so I made a little tag.  I was feeling reckless and stamped the piece of twill tape with fabric paint after my tag was sewn into the back seam allowance. It serves me right that it's not a clean print. I really should have practiced and stamped a number of pieces and then sewn a nice clean print into my garment. Shoulda Woulda Coulda. Still looks cute, though.


While poking around my sewing supplies I discovered that I had a rolled hem foot, so I used it to make a baby hem with some degree of success. It's not quite right, but I like how this foot makes it easy to sew right up to the very edge. I'll definitely give it another go.

Just a few quick notes/reminders:
  •   I had a terrible time attaching the bias binding to the top of the cami, especially going around the front and back curves, because my thread kept jamming up. I did two things: Raised my tension a little and fashioned a little felt-like circle and placed it underneath my thread spool to keep my spool from jumping and over-spinning. 
  • In retrospect, I wish I had taken more care with the elastic channel. I need a timer or something that forces me to stop working on a project when I start getting sloppy or think about taking shortcuts. Also, I hate that I didn't change out my serger thread and the dark color shows. 
  •  Side seams for cami and shorts are french. Seemed like the obvious choice. The only eyesore is the serged on channel.
So that's about it. I'm pleased to have used up all of this fabric and look forward to moving on to my next project. If you've made it this far, thanks so much for reading and checking out my new makes. I still have so much to learn, but I love that I'm starting to see improvement. Patterns are getting easier to understand (for the most part), my textile knowledge has definitely improved (no more stiff quilty cottons for me!), and I'm developing a deep appreciation for finishing techniques. Seriously, I'm fascinated. Often I catch myself analyzing peoples' clothes on the bus, which can be awkward since, of course, they don't know what I'm looking at! Does anybody else do that?

Monday, September 1, 2014

Post Vacation Indian Summer


I knew I wanted to make something this weekend before getting back into the daily grind, but I just couldn't decide what to make. I had five days in Kauai to think about it and I STILL couldn't decide. I really do get paralyzed sometimes, even after thinking about what to make all day. So many decisions.


Anyhoo, so I opted for the wonderful, practically instant gratification that is the Julia cardigan. When I made it the last time, I knew there would be another. For one, you can do the whole thing on a serger, so you can whip one up in no time. In this case, I started it around noon and wore it to a get-together just hours later. This is such a practical make for me. While I may only wear a Hawaiian print top once in a while, I know I'll wear this a lot.

A few quick notes:
  • This is a stretch rib - a remnant from Britex. It is so unbelievably soft. 
  • I strayed a bit from the pattern because I didn't have enough fabric. I had 2 & 1/8 yards at 42" width and the double folded hem really does require a lot of fabric. So I wound up folding the neck and back part in half like a tee shirt hem. It's actually nice because the shawl collar isn't quite so bulky. Usually these kinds of rash decisions end up ruining my projects, but this one actually worked out. 
  • I think that's it. I love the color and versatility.
Here's a non-sewing share....

I painted this on our lanai with a combo of gouache and colored pencils. I'm so happy I thought to bring a watercolor block and paints on my trip. Obviously, I was inspired by the Kauai's verdant beauty, and, probably obviously, I'm not very experienced at painting with gouache. I learned many years ago in a very different way. This time I treated them a bit like an easier form of watercolors.


Now I have a meaningful souvenir, and I hope that every time I look at it I will be reminded of the peace that can be found when I stop for a moment, breathe, and take in the beauty of my surroundings.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Birthday Blouse


Aloha! I'm back from one of the most relaxing vacations and the best birthday/anniversary present ever. Kauai is truly stunning. We opted for a condo in order to do our own cooking, but we did go out to dinner on my birthday and I wore this blouse made especially for the occasion. I'm not really sure I'll get a lot of wear out of this because of the print, but I loved wearing something so pretty and flowy and feminine. I also liked making something special for my birthday, and it's made me think about incorporating more special sewing into my life instead of just tee shirts.  The fabric is  a rayon challis purchased at Wanderlust. Can I just say how much I love love love rayon challis! It feels wonderful against your skin and it's a pleasure to sew. I really love the weight of it, too, for blouses and skirts. Since I have about a yard left, I think I'd like to make some pajamas or lounge pants with it. I don't think I need two blouses with pineapples and hibiscuses.... or maybe I do.


So let's talk about the pattern and what the shape does and doesn't do for me. Before I modified it beyond recognition it was the Saiph by Papercut Patterns. Despite the fact that I hadn't seen a lot of happy Saiphs online, I still purchased it because I've really been wanting to try Papercut patterns and this looked like an easy one to start. Plus, I love wearing tunics and leggings. I know they're probably not the best thing for my top-heavy shape, but I love to be comfortable. As I get better at sewing and, especially, fitting my body I can see myself moving towards more subtle shape-defining silhouettes; however, I don't think I'll ever wear super fitted shapes. It's just not me, and at the end of the day you've gotta go with how you feel the most comfortable.



My favorite part is the keyhole in the back. This blouse easily slips over my head, so I really don't need it, but it's a pretty detail all the same.
Here are my notes:
  • I would like to try this again but I would have to make some serious modifications. I went for the largest size to accommodate my bust, which made for a terrible oversized shape. If you ever saw Big Love - think Juniper Creek sister wives. This is the problem for me and my challenge going forward in fitting. The larger the size, the larger the size is overall - i.e. wider shoulders, longer arms, legs, torso, wider hips, etc. I need to bite the bullet and do FBAs, which also means muslins, with all my patterns. 
  • For the next Saiph I would go for a smaller size, include an FBA, and bring the torso up several inches. What I did instead this time was to keep trimming the bottom skirt part, which changed the silhouette entirely and wasted way too much fabric. 
  • Glad I opted for short sleeves since long sleeves with a Hawaiian print in Hawaii seemed silly. I added some slits on the sleeves per Barry's recommendation. He mentioned that it was looking a bit like hospital scrubs, which is fair.
  • I made my own bias tape (for the sleeve slits) for the first time. Easy and fun, but hard to stop and work on something like that when you're in the fitting process. In the future. I should make it after cutting but before sewing up. In fact, it would be a nice thing to make and have between projects and a great way to keep scraps out of the landfill. 

Here's me taking selfies on the lanai while waiting for Barry to finish getting dressed.  I'm trying to get better at taking pictures as I think it's an important aspect of body image/acceptance. Obviously, I'm still grimacing slightly. Will work on that.
So that's all for now. I hope to share some more creative endeavors very soon. Have a very lovely week.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

New Makes


Well hello there. I'm leaving for Hawaii on Monday, and I'm so freaking excited. I'm also sewing sorta kinda frantically so I'll have some things to wear. I wrote about planning a vacation wardrobe here, and with the exception of one item, I didn't end up with anything similar to the polyvore I made. Ah well, I find those polyvore moodboards too aspirational, too luxe, for me.

So above are the Grainline maritime shorts from last weekend. This was the second attempt. I hate how messy the front waistband part looks, but I just needed to be done with this project. There were a lot of new steps and skills for me to practice like clipping curves for the pockets and the front zip.  I must say I really loved that about the experience. Especially on the second try when I could already see  improvement. 

Here's a picture of me wearing my new makes - white legs and all. Remember, this before Hawaii. :)  Ugh, this is hard... here we go.


Now I'll distract you with my pretty pocket bag - a pink Hawaiian print.

Very much what I envisioned, so I'm pleased even though I made some mistakes. See the patched waistband on my new Renfrew? I didn't have enough to cut one piece on a continuous fold, so I decided to patch some shorter pieces together. While most sewists are obsessed with stripe matching...hell, I don't even match the bottom. And strangely enough even though it's not ideal, I'm kind of okay with it. (ETA: I decided I should have higher standards and removed the bottom band. Just gave it a regular hem. Guess I wasn't okay with it. :)) But here's something I'm actually proud of...


I followed this tutorial for a mitred v-neck from Cake's blog.  I love it. It's not as sharp as it will be the next time, but I think this is how I want to finish my v-necks from now on. The Renfrew is turning into a TNT for me. I already want to make another one.
Here are my notes:
  • The button is sewn on to cover the mangled area where I could not seem to make a buttonhole foot. I think the interfacing was too thick and so the feed dogs weren't moving. It was like picking at a zit the way I kept making it worse. 
  • The shorts seem to run really big. I will definitely go down at least one if not two sizes. I wound up pinching out 5 inches from the back seam, although I think I did something wrong for it to be so much. That or it could be because I'm only 5'2" and the waist sits higher on me than on a person of average height.
  • Also...1/2" seam allowance...must remember that.
  • Love the contrasting pockets and will do that with the inner waistband as well. These shorts were a lot of work because of all the basting, clipping, and grading, but they're super fast to cut and easy to handle - i.e. no big. floppy/slippery pieces to work with. The second time I made them I was more organized, clearing my workspace, laying all the pieces out. and interfacing in advance ...of course it made a huge difference. Nothing revolutionary, just a nice reminder.
Finally, here's a scrunchy faced one of me since I decapitated myself in the full body shot.

So not a complete vacation wardrobe, but I will be sharing a few more makes very soon. In the meantime, Aloha!