Sunday, January 31, 2016

One More For the Road

One last #lastrada tee before I move on #curiousfabric #sewingclothes #hotpatterns

Hey all! Okay, my blog post title was a terrible pun. Sorry about that. I made another Hot Patterns La Strada tee, and when I think of La Strada I think of the Fellini film and... you get the idea. Anyway, since my last one was a bit too big I decided to go down one size to an 18. In fact, I think I'm going to start at 18 from now on and make adjustments from there for all future HP patterns.

I'm having one of those no makeup/sweats (i.e. awesome) days , so no modeling happened. Trust me, though, the fit's much better. Not much to add since the only thing I changed was the size. Oh, except I used a scrap leftover from my blue Waver jacket for the yoke so that I didn't have birds flying in a bunch of different directions. Since this pattern sews up like a woven that's easy enough to do and doesn't present any issues.

I'm actually more interested in talking about the fabric, which is an organic interlock knit made by Birch fabrics. While I love the color and design and the fact that it's organic, I was a bit surprised when it arrived. The blue only shows up on one side. Here's a photo to show what I mean.


I suppose this has something to do with the process of using low-impact dyes and not wasting so much water. It's not a huge deal (in fact it's super soft on the side that touches your skin), but I probably wouldn't have bought it if I had known that because I don't think it's ideal for knit garments. Here's what it looks like when stretched.


Like I said, no big deal for my top, but I thought I would mention it in case anyone out there plans to purchase this fabric for a specific garment - like a dress with negative ease.

In other news, last week I found a RTW bra that fits me really really well. What an exciting day that was! I'm sure that all the reading and focusing on bra fitting I've been doing lately helped me know what to look for and get a better idea of my size.


I still want to make my own bras, though. Especially, now that I know it's possible to find one that fits me well. But now instead of trying the Maya pattern, I think I want to clone this bra or look for a similar bandless bra pattern. Maybe the Pin-up Girls Shelley? Any thoughts on a bra pattern like this RTW one?

As always, thanks so much for reading and have a fantastic week!

Monday, January 25, 2016

HP Fast and Fab La Strada plus another Oslo


Hello Hello! Hope you had a great weekend. Beej and I celebrated his birthday (no, I didn't make him shirt), so that meant lots of delicious food, relaxing, and a visit to the Legion of Honor. I also finished the Hot Patterns Fast and Fabulous La Strada Tee. (Whew! HP pattern names are so long aren't they?) Anyway, it's been cut out and interfaced since mid December, but I only got around to sewing it up this weekend. I even made a test version. See below:


I also made another Oslo cardigan this week. They're practically instant gratification.


For the HP La Strada I made a size 20. I now wish I'd made it smaller - especially when I see these pics. Oh well, at least it will be comfortable. I probably will only wear it with a cardigan anyway.  I didn't find very many La Strada tees out and about; however, I did find this super helpful review on Denver Sews.



Here are the details for the La Strada Tee:
  • As I mentioned, I made a size 20 but there is an awful lot of ease. I'll size down next time. (Funny, I didn't notice the ease so much with my test version.)
  • I eliminated the high-low hem altogether. If you decide to keep it, be warned that the back hem falls very low. I didn't like how my test version hung below my jackets/cardigans. Of course, I'm only 5'2",  so that's something to consider.
  • Side seam markings (for where the side seam ends and the sleeve begins) are quite low. Initially, I assumed I had mismarked the front and back pieces, but then I read a couple of other reviews that said the same thing. I moved the marks up 2" so that my bra wouldn't show. Next time, I'll go up 2.5". 
  • Construction: You can sew this up just like a woven because of all the positive ease. There is an interfaced neckline facing. If you follow the techniques, it makes for a really nice turned neckline. Next time I would go lower on the v-neck as this is about an inch too high. As a result, the bottom of the facing hits my bra and bubbles a little. I watched this very helpful video for the neckline construction.
  • I tacked the bottom of the facing to the center front seam allowance to help keep it in place. The facing stays put pretty well because it is sewn into the front of the yoke seam. 
  • Fabric is a really nice ponte from Britex that I purchased ages ago. Unfortunately, I don't remember the details. It feels fantastic, though. 
  • I didn't even use a double needle for the hem/sleeves. Just serged the edge and used some wonder tape to stabilize it. I stitched it down at 3.0. 
Just a few details for the Oslo cardigan since I've made it before:
  • Size: XL
  • Fabric: Sweater knit from Joann (same impulse purchase as the linen for my Roscoe dress). Sweater knits are so fun because they yield such impressive results from very simple patterns. 
  • Hem is hand stitched again. It doesn't take long, and I think it looks so nice because the stitches don't show in a textured knit fabric. 
  • I added 5.5" length to the shawl collar because it came up short last time. I tossed out the assembled pattern and will start fresh next time so that I don't have anymore weirdness with shawl. 
  • I didn't have enough fabric for a full sleeve, so I cut it short and wide and then added an extra wide cuff. I like the way this turned out.
Finally, here's an IG pic to prove that I do go outside sometimes. Have a great week and thanks so much for reading!

#sflegionofhonormuseum #lazysunday #fineart

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Bra making: The Journey Continues


Okay, so bra-making's hard. The photo above is my second bra, and while there is an improvement in both the sewing and fitting I'm still not there. I'm not giving up, though, because I find the process interesting, and I believe that I will eventually get a good fit. Or at least I will have a better understanding of what I need when I shop RTW.

Also, photographing bras with large cup sizes is kinda hard, too. For the top photo I stuffed sweater tights inside the cups to give an idea of shape. Below is another photo in all its deflated glory.


I have a confession to make: I'm in my forties and I have never had a well-fitting bra. In my teens I was too embarrassed - since I was often teased and described by friends and strangers alike (in a multitude of ways) as overdeveloped and generally made to feel freakish. BTW, what is it with people making body comments? How do people not know that it's rude? I find it so gratifying now when I see young women shutting down body snark and only wish that I had spoken up in such a way when I was their age instead of pretending to laugh while being quietly mortified.

So I guess this attitude towards my perceived body flaws carried over into my adult life. I would shop quickly to find something that somewhat fit, or order a bunch of different sizes online. But one of the nice things about getting older is that you eventually stop caring so much about what other people think. Now I want a bra that fits me really well - that's comfortable and supportive, but also pretty. And I want one in every color. It's time.

My second bra is another Pin-Up Girls Classic bra. The first one was too large in the upper cup and too tight in the band. So I went up to the next band size and down a cup size. The band feels better and I can fit two fingers, but it's still a little tight. (ETA: I forgot to add an important detail! I doubled up on the power net, so maybe that's why the band feels so tight!) The cup encases my entire breast, but there is no extra room whatsoever. I know that the fit isn't right, but I'm not quite sure what to do next...


I've been reading Demystifying Bra Fitting & Construction, by Norma Loehr, and one of the things she mentions is that multi-piece cups are better for round breasts. So now I'm thinking I should focus on a different pattern. Initially, I thought of the Pin-Up girls Shelley pattern (and I may still try it), but I just learned via Sew Pretty in Pink about the free Maya bra pattern from AFI. It's in the beta testing stage, but I think it might be worth a try because the other challenge with bra-making is that it can get pretty expensive. I've already spent $$ on a pattern, two kits, a book, and a Craftsy class, and I'm still struggling with getting the fit right.

Speaking of kits, I'm not super crazy about the feel of the duoplex fabric in the Bra-makers supply kits, so I'm looking at other fabrics now. I'm worried that changing the fabric will mean starting over with the whole fitting process, but maybe since I'm trying a new pattern it would be a good time to try a different fabric. At any rate, I've ordered a hand-dyed kit from BravoBella that includes tricot (she recommends two layers for stability). I like the paired down look of the kits, and they're $10 cheaper. Also, she offers a variety of different nude shades, which is pretty awesome. Of course, if I really wanted to save money I could've sourced the supplies separately....Ah well, live and learn... and I am indeed learning!
Thanks so much for reading. Would love to know your thoughts on bra making, the best fabric types, etc. There really is a lot to learn.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Mystery Fabric

Saturday morning TNT. #greenstylecreations #greenstylelaurel #isew #sewingclothes #sewingblog #sewingpatterns

Hello there! Hope you had a fab weekend. It's been a bit gloomy here, but it is mid-January so whatcha gonna do. I'm sitting here listening to David Bowie, after hearing of his passing late last night. So sad, but what a life. What a major creative force.

So while I'm listening, I thought I'd share what I made this weekend and some thoughts on fiber content. This is the Greenstyle Laurel Tunic. I've made it twice before, and you can read about it here and here. It's a very quick make, but now that I have the sizing customized for me (xl on the side seams, l for the rest) it's even faster. One thing about the instructions that I forgot to mention in earlier posts is that the instructions say to sew sleeves in the round, but there's no reason (that I can tell) to do that, so if you're more comfortable sewing sleeves in flat, I would say go for it. That's what I did and haven't encountered any issues. Here's me enthusiastically modeling my new tunic.



But enough about my exuberant self, I want to talk about fabric - particularly this knit, resist dye, mystery fabric that I'm kind of obsessed with. I love shopping at Fabric Outlet, but the only downside is that you don't always get a lot of information about fiber content. The upside is that there is no scary sticker shock when I'm pawing through the knits, which reminds me of a story: The last time I was in Britex, I overheard one of the cashiers informing her customer that his total was over a thousand dollars. He was incredulous and sure that there was some sort of mistake, as he was only purchasing two yards of fabric. Turns out that the fabric he thought was $49.95 was $495.00 per yard! Yikes! Okay back to MY not-so-expensive fabric...


This fabric has a really nice drape, and there is definitely spandex in it, but I was curious about whether it was rayon or polyester (or maybe both) so for fun and my own edification I decided to do a burn test. Have you ever done one? I used the Threads chart and instructions. I can't say that I reached any definite conclusions, so I suspect it's a blend of rayon and polyester - that and the price point (8.99 per yard). Based on the following, though,  I think it may contain a larger percentage of rayon:
  • Cool to the touch
  • Looks the same on both sides (not sure if that means rayon, but it is a quality of this fabric)
  • Smells like burning paper when lit
  • Ignites quickly
  • Continues to burn rapidly; has no afterglow
  • Light and feathery gray ash - also soft and sticky (that's the spandex part)
Do you know of any other ways to identify fiber content? Are there any other visual clues? By the way, Fabric Outlet will do a burn test for customers; I just didn't think to ask when I was there.

Scraps #imakemyunderwear #sewingclothes #sewinglingerie #secretsofsewinglingerie

I used my scraps to make a pair of undies, using the Secrets of Sewing Lingerie pattern. Sometimes it's nice to be able to use up my scraps right away. Having too many bits of fabric laying around can feel burdensome. Plus, machines are already set up with the appropriate needles and why not?

That's all I've got. Thanks for reading and have a fantastic week. Cheers!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Personalizing Handmade Gifts


Hello and happy humpday! Today I'm writing a post about one on Beej's Christmas gifts. It's another Colette Negroni - my third one now - so while the construction is straightforward at this point, I've been thinking about handmade vs RTW gifts lately and how to make the handmades special. If you're interested in construction notes, you may want to refer to the last Negroni I made him.

Sometimes, when I'm shopping RTW and compare these items to my handmade clothes I can feel a bit discouraged. Something like a store bought men's shirt can look so crisp and precisely finished compared to what I make. And it can cost so much less! I know there are other aspects beyond cost to consider - the special meaning behind handmade, environmental considerations, a statement made against mass consumption, etc.  - but when you've spent hours trying to get a crisp fold on a placket or a perfectly curved flat felled seam and see something comparable for less than twenty dollars it can be a little frustrating.


Fortunately, Beej likes his new shirt (even if he does look rather stoic in the above pic). One reason he may like my gifts (besides the fact that I'm his wife and I've put in time and effort) is that I try to think of ways to personalize his gift - to add something he wouldn't be able to find at H&M.


For example, Beej loves patches. Seriously, he collects them. For his Christmas shirt I sewed on a patch of his favorite libation. I also look for fabrics that he likes. All three Negroni shirts have been made with linen. It's a fabric that he really likes to wear, and while there are a cajillion cotton button-ups available at most of the chain stores, you don't see quite as many linen shirts, perhaps due to the wrinkle factor. As an added bonus, I LOVE sewing with linen. Love the rustic texture, the ironing, the steamy lineny smell....everything.


Here he is showing off his patch and looking a tad bit happier.


Finally, I think it's nice to add a handmade label or special note. This one's a bit mushy to share, but I think it makes his gift that much more special. (It's a little hard to read, but it says, "I (heart) my bb.") What are your thoughts about handmade gifts for your significant others? Does your partner like for you to make him or her things? Do you embrace unselfish sewing?  I'm curious.

Thanks so much for reading and have a fantastic rest of the week!

Saturday, January 2, 2016

2015 Hits and Misses

#sewingtop5 - The Top 5 of 2015!

Hey All! Hope you're having a great first weekend of the year. I really love this quiet time when so many people have time off to spend with their loved ones. It's been great being home with Beej and having two three-day-weekends in a row to relax together. I'm also really enjoying reading all the blog recaps.

2015 was a turbulent year for me both personally and professionally. In fact, I would never in a million years have guessed it would have played out like it did. But you know what? It wasn't boring. I took on a lot of new challenges, was overwhelmed, learned a lot, and also managed to surprise myself. Unfortunately, for a while there I lost my confidence and things got rough. Looking back now, though, I can see how much I learned - not just new skills, etc. - but what I learned about myself and how much emotional growth I experienced. I always knew I was a hard worker, but this year I learned what I'm really made of. I'm made of steel, actually, and I'm going to remind myself of this the next time my confidence wanes. (Sorry this part's a bit vague. I never know quite how much of my personal life to share.) On to the sewing...

I'm encouraged by the fact that it was difficult to decide which five were my hits. Here they are in no particular order:


1.) True Bias Sutton:  This got the most wear - especially the first part of the year. Love how simple and easy to throw on it is, but the finishing makes it looks so polished.


2.) True Bias Roscoe Dress: I've worn this all through the holidays, and if I had three yards of appropriate fabric I would be making another one right now. It's so simple, but if you follow her instructions carefully, you will end up with an impeccable finish. 


3.) Closet Case Clare Coat: This felt like such an achievement - especially after attempting three coats last year - but it's actually very simple to make. The raglan sleeves take some of the pressure off, as do the sew-on snaps. I LOVE how well this fits me.

Frilly underpants make me happy #imakemyunderwear #sewinglingerie #sewingblog

4.) Secrets of Lingerie Cotton Mini: It's well documented now that I love making underwear, but this style surprised me and challenged my practical mind. I always imagined that cotton woven knickers would be uncomfortable and unflattering, but they so aren't. They're charming and frilly and fun and totally bring out the Laura Ashley in me.


5.) Greenstyle Laurel Tunic: This is another of my most-worn makes. I'm happy I was able to modify it and get the fit they way I like it. Also, the neckline lays nice and flat.

Now on to the misses. Most of this was me trying to learn too many things at once. Jeans AND bramaking? Such hubris.

Culotte fantasy #sewingblog #culottes

1.) Burda Plus Culottes - UFO: I don't really regret this because my impulse was to just go for it from the beginning, but by the time I got to the waistband I could see how insane the crotch was going to be. I had forgotten that I had read somewhere that Burda patterns are pretty tall. One thing I would like to work on for future sewing is to use my math skills to help with fitting - e.g. measure the distance between my waist and crotch and how that compares, etc.

2.) Closet Case Patterns Ginger Jeans - no photo/no link. I got to the waistband on my muslin and kept having to unpick and resew. It kept twisting, which makes me think it was because of how I cut it. But, again, I saw issues with the length of the back yoke being too long for my frame.


3.) Pin Up Girls Bra: I did the fun part of putting it together, but I've been putting off the tedious part of working out fitting issues. The upper cups are too large.


4.) Seamwork Aberdeen  - Yuck, blech, gross. Hate everything about it.

Not sure why it's longer on one side #firsttimesewingsilk #lasttimesewingsilk #acqualina

5.) Hot Patterns Acqualina Riviera in Silk: This is on the miss list because of my struggle with the fabric and how that shows in my execution, but also I think I like the idea of wearing silk more than the reality. I mean, it's natural and feels luxurious and all, but something about it makes me feel frumpy. Also, I hate that it's so delicate that even water can leave a stain.

So there it is. A tough year of highs and lows, but a good year for learning and growth. Here's my post from last year. I'm happy to see that I've already improved quite a bit.  My resolutions(for sewing) involve sharpening my focus a bit and working on fitting. I'm also going to continue to explore lingerie sewing and bra making. It's low-stakes sewing, but there are a lot of techniques involved that are great to practice.  Mostly, though, I will continue to experiment, practice, and have fun.

I wish you all a wonderful 2016 full of love and peace and all good things.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Two In One: CCP Clare Coat and True Bias Roscoe Dress


An alternate title for this post could be, "Dude, I Finally Made a Coat!"  Seriously, this is so satisfying for me. While I'm proud of my slouchy Papercut Waver jacket, this here is a real, bonafide coat.

So here is my headless self modeling my new coat. I wish I could have gotten some better shots. We were in Japantown yesterday to have lunch and see The Force Awakens, and I tried to get some cool, out-and-about, loving-my-life photos but in all of them I have this miserable expression as if to say, "Just take the damn picture; I'm freezing my butt off here." Which is not to say my new coat isn't warm, but it doesn't get below 50 degrees often here so I'm kind of a wimp.  Okay, here are the details:
  • Pattern: Closet Case Patterns Clare Coat, View B, Size 16 with a 2.5" FBA. I knew I'd be wearing my coat open a lot, so View B made sense.
  • I chose not to underline my fabric because I want to wear it year round, rather than the few weeks when a really warm coat is needed.
  • Fabric: This was my first time sewing with wool, and it did indeed live up to Heather's claims. It really is lovely to sew. It gives off a bit of a pungent odor, though. The black wool is from Fabric Outlet, purchased during their 40% off sale.  It has a little stretch to it. I fell in love with the colorful, patterned polyester lining when I was impulse shopping on Clement St. I think it was around 2 or 3$ per yard. Overall, I spent around $50 total on fabric and notions. The extra large snaps from Pacific Trimming were $20 alone and well worth it, in my opinion. They're easier to manage with cold fingers than buttons. Plus, I really like the look. I scavenged the chain (for hanging the coat on a hook) from an old Banana Republic coat. 
  • Adjustments: Besides the 2.5" FBA, I also shortened all main pieces by 1.5". This worked out well for the sleeves; however, it wasn't enough for the hem. When it came time to bag the lining, I found that the hem really needed an additional 2" turn to be at the right length for me. For this reason, and because I somehow ended up with a lot of extra fabric in the front corners, I ended up hand sewing the lining hem. If I ever make this again, I should shorten 3.5" for the main body and keep the sleeves at 1.5. 
  • I used this technique for sewing the bust dart.
  • My favorite aspect: It fits me really well! With RTW coats I always have to turn up the cuffs. I love that the bottom of the coat hits me right at the bottom of my hips, the sleeves aren't too long, and it easily closes over my chest. This makes such a difference in how I feel about my appearance when I head out into the world. My hair stylist actually gave me the ultimate compliment when I showed it to him: "It looks expensive." Yay!


Now I want to make some notes about the True Bias Roscoe dress. I know this loose style isn't for everyone, but I love it. Big surprise, I made the tunic/mini version and wore it on Christmas day as a babydoll dress with tights and boots. Talk about extra room for stuffing and pie!


  • Fabric: The recommended fabrics are silks and rayon. I could see this style going Holly Hobby/sister wife very easily with the wrong fabric. I think that's why you see a lot of these in pretty and modern/geometric patterned silks rather than floral cottons. Since I wasn't sure how this would look on me, I opted for a linen blend in a safe (but very pretty) solid purchased at Joann Fabric. I don't buy a lot of fabric there for reasons I don't really feel like going into, but the rich color called to me and distracted me from my mission of buying replacement rotary blades. The fabric doesn't cling, which means I can wear it with tights, but I can also see myself wearing it in warm weather. (My favorite vision is as a cover up on a lovely beach holiday in Mexico. Thinking warm thoughts in this chilly apartment.)
  • Construction: I love True Bias instructions. I always feel like I'm getting a really excellent sewing lesson. The technique for the neck ties is so neat and tidy. 
  • I opted to serge instead of french the seams since the fabric is thicker than a silk or rayon. Fortunately, though, I had serger cones in a close matching color, so the insides look quite nice. 
  • Adjustments: I shortened the sleeves by 1" and the body of the dress by 2". I love the length. It covers my butt, so I can wear it with tights (maybe not on a windy day, though), but it would also look cute with leggings. Size is 16. Even though there is tons of ease I opted to do a 1" FBA because I wanted it to hang as intended instead of fitting closer in the bust. Not sure if that makes sense, but that was my thinking.
  • Overall: a fun sew - especially on the heels of a more labor-intensive project. I absolutely love wearing it. 
If you've made it this far, thanks so much for reading. I wanted to get these last projects in for 2015 and am looking forward to blogging my top/bottom fives later this week. Hope you are staying warm and enjoying this last week of 2015. Cheers.