Sunday, March 20, 2016

Spring 2016

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Hello and happy first day of spring for those of you in the northern hemisphere. It's a bit of a soggy Sunday here in San Fran, and even though I have a project list a mile long I really don't feel like sewing right now. And if I'm not feeling it why force it? So instead, I think I'll work out my spring sewing plans - plans that involve new patterns and recent fabric acquisitions.

Mostly I've been thinking about loose linen shifts, light jackets, and button down shirts. I'll probably throw in some tee shirts as well - the Tessuti Mandy and the Maria of Denmark Kirsten Tee.

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First off, is the Lupin by Deer and Doe - a cropped bomber/moto hybrid. The Anthro version in the center is for color inspiration, though I do love the ribbed cuffs. Hmmm. I have earmarked a khaki silk/wool blend that I picked up a couple of years ago from the remnants floor at Britex. The bright green floral is a Japanese lining fabric from Fabric Outlet.

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Next up is the Deer and Doe Melilot in a Cotton and Steel rayon. Even though I fall outside of the Deer and Doe size range, I've had good experiences in the past with adjusting D&D to fit me. I'm especially attracted to the hidden button placket.

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I have a short sleeve Melilot blouse in mind as well with this cheerful cotton lawn. Without the sleeves the dropped shoulder creates a nice kimono sleeve shape, which also means no sleeve setting headaches. 


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New Itch to Stitch and D&D releases came out within days of each other, so I was really torn between the Lupin jacket and the Salamanca jacket. As a result, I did what I usually do when in doubt: I bought both. I'm thinking it would be great in linen, unlined with Hong Kong bound seams. The brown on top is a nice neutral and a nice weight, but I'm not 100% sold on it.

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Speaking of being torn, I really want to make a shift dress for the summer but I can't decide on the pattern. I've narrowed it down to Seamwork's Kenedy or Hot Patterns's Plain and Simple Shift. I like that the HP pattern has a v-neck option and a back yoke, but I'm also intrigued by the trapeze shape of the Kenedy. I'm considering the seersucker-like, textured cotton with a check/stripe pattern for this.

So that's what I have on my mind right now. I wonder how much of this I'll actually complete before I change my mind or become distracted by bra-making or a new pattern release. ;)  What's on the agenda for your spring/summer sewing?





Sunday, February 28, 2016

Roscoe Blouses

One more for flickr. #roscoeblouse #truebiaspatterns

Hey there! Hope you're having a super weekend.

I made two True Bias Roscoe blouses in the last month or so, and while I've made this pattern before and it's a very straightforward pattern, I thought I'd share anyway as it helps me figure out how I want to move forward with crafting my wardrobe.

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Playing with pretty fabric #annamariahorner #fable #pegasus #sewing

I made the pegasus one in a really lovely rayon by Anna Maria Horner. It looks like they're out of the green I used, but they do have other color ways. My favorite thing about wearing this blouse is that I can wear a top with a whimsical print at my corporate job and still be perfectly appropriate. One issue that I didn't notice until I had already cut out the pieces is that the fabric has a distinct right and wrong side, so I can't really wear it with the ties open. Just something to consider if you decide to make a Roscoe blouse. This happened to me before when I bought fabric online. It's frustrating because there are so many aspects of a textile that are difficult to convey online, but how it looks on both sides isn't one of them.

The second top, with the blue leaves, is my absolute favorite! Purchased at Fabric Outlet during their last 40% off sale, I think it's a voile. It's very thin and semi-transparent, but the dark color and a busy patter keep it from being too see-through. I sewed this one up with french seams and used my rolled hem foot to create a tiny hem at the bottom. I always get a little nervous about breaking out my rolled hem foot, but really it's actually easier since you finger roll the hem to get it started. It's a lot more work to measure, press, and pin a hem, or even do the basting technique for a baby hem. And this fabric is very thin, so it's perfect for a rolled hem - even at the french side seams there were no problems.

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 I know this picture doesn't show a lot of the blouse, but this is how I actually wear a printed top - i.e. with a solid cardi so as not to be overwhelmed by a print. Also, it was a quick snap on the way to the bus stop.
  • Adjustments for both tops: I shortened the sleeves by 1". 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. 
  • I must have done something to one side of the front pattern piece because it didn't line up, which meant I had to true up the neckline. As a result, it sits a bit lower than I like. I tossed out my pattern pieces and will start fresh next time. I do appreciate pdf patterns for this very reason.
 I can probably take a break from tops now. I'd like to make a lightweight jacket for spring/summer - something for the morning chill when I head to the bus stop but light enough for when I head home at the end of the day. I just can't decide on a pattern. I'd also like to resume bra-making at some point, but now that I've found a RTW bra that I like I am less inclined to spend my free time on that.

Thanks so much for reading and have a great week!

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Hot Patterns Halycon Sweatshirt: First Wadder of the Year

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Hello! Hope you're having a fab weekend so far. I made this HP Fast and Fab Halycon Sweatshirt last weekend, and, as I'm sure you can surmise from the above pic, it's not really a sweatshirt anymore. This is what it's supposed to look like...

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And here's what it looked like before I turned it into a cardigan....

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I made a size 18 and shortened the sleeve by 3/4 inches. It was HUGE in the back, with an awkward straightjacket-like feel in the front, and the sides coming down to a weird point. I'm not exactly sure what happened. Some possibilities:
  • Wrong type of fabric- This was my test version, so I used an inexpensive knit that wasn't earmarked for anything else. It's quite stretchy  -  probably too stretchy for this pattern since the pattern calls for medium weight sweatshirt, ponte, double knit, etc. It's possible that some distortion happened when I cut it due to the stretch. Maybe that explains the pointy sides. 
  • Wrong type of body - I carry a lot of my extra weight in the bust/abdomen area. Ideally, it would be better to make a size smaller and adjust the front, but with this cross over style it was difficult to know how to do that. The front and back are all one piece - a long rectangle with a U-shape cut out for the neck and crossed front. Also, when choosing a size I focus on the bust and tend to forget that my hips, while by no means narrow, are proportionally narrow compared to the size of my bust - like an inverted triangle. This means that some styles will drop straight past my hips unless I make a pattern adjustment. 
Even though this was a test version, I wanted to try to salvage the fabric. It's super soft and a pretty color after all, so I turned it into a cardigan by unpicking the crossover side seams and and joining the bottom of each front to the side. Wow, there has to be an easier way to explain this. It's actually a lot simpler than I've just made it sound. Anyway, I wanted to turn it into a waterfall cardigan, but after examining a bunch of waterfall styles I noticed that the waterfall effect is dependent on the way it hangs from the shoulder seam. Since this style doesn't have a shoulder seam, I wasn't sure how to create that effect. So I ended up with more of a cocoon shape. A little wonky and loosy-goosey but okay for knocking about the park, or after yoga class (which reminds me, I really should start doing yoga). Here's me wearing it at the botanical gardens last weekend. The magnolias are in bloom

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As you can see the sleeve is an exaggerated dolman. I'd like to figure out a way to fix that, but my craft-A.D.D. is kicking in, and I'm already thinking about other projects. I just want to add that I like Hot Patterns styles a lot. They always have fun construction details.  Just because this pattern didn't work out for me doesn't mean that it won't work for you. I would just recommend that you sew up a practice version in something you're not in love with before cutting into your silk jersey, but you know that already!

Thanks for reading and have a terrific weekend!

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Sunday, February 14, 2016

Business Casual: Itch to Stitch Mila Shirt Pattern Review

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Hello! I'm so happy to be sharing my experience with a new-to-me pattern : the Itch to Stitch Mila shirt. For some reason I'm constantly conflating Blank Slate and Itch to Stitch patterns. They have some similar looks, I guess. Anyway, the partial placket Mila shirt, which apparently is called a "popover" according to Grainline patterns, is a great little wardrobe basic and is just what I was looking for. I recently started a new job (totally love it!) and was informed that the dress code is business casual. I suppose that business casual is a broad term and depends on the industry. In my case, I'm working in a corporate environment and knew that my work wardrobe would be cardigan-dependent and that I definitely needed a few collared shirts. Sadly, no more leggings and tunics for me during weekdays.

I made two Mila popovers - one black and one white. Total wardrobe basics - maybe not the most exciting garments - but super handy when I'm blearily trying to find something appropriate to wear in the morning.

Maybe a boring basic but I think it'll get a lot of wear. #itchtostitch #milablouse #iloveswissdot #sewing #sewingclothes

The black one (in a swiss dot) is my favorite and gets worn every week. The white one is okay, but I wish I had been more discerning when I was shopping for white fabric. It looks and feels like sheet -- and not a resorty/super high thread count sheet either. I only have pictures wearing the white one, but they're both the same size and have zero modifications.

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This is a very well thought out pattern, with incredibly detailed instructions. It would make a great first shirt pattern for a beginner.

Some additional notes:
  • Size 16 - with the DD bodice. Multiple cup size bodice - Yay!
  • PDF patterns aren't my favorite, but Itch to Stitch really highlights all the advantages of using a pdf. There is a layers feature that allows you to hide sizes you don't need, reducing visual clutter and cutting errors. They also list the pages for each bodice size, so you don't print out a bunch of unnecessary pages.
  • The very clearly written instructions are broken down into 71 steps and each step has an accompanying illustration. Wow! It's also nice to zoom in on illustrations if something is confusing. SO much better than trying to look at tiny little printed pictures. 
  • My only departure from the instructions was to sew the sleeves in flat instead of setting them. It turned out great. Anytime I can avoid setting sleeves I'm happy.
  • There is a separate pattern piece for the under collar, which is nicer than having to trim one down. 
  • I need to practice more with cuffs. I'm never satisfied with how they look.
  • The buttons are sewn through both sides of the placket. Yes, it's a little lazy, but it's not like I'm ever going to wear it unbuttoned. Also, I wear my bag cross-body style and that can sometimes cause unbuttoning, usually in the most embarrassing situation possible. I sewed the buttons on with my machine. Works great. Just remember to leave nice long tails so that you bring the thread to the back with a hand sewing needle and tie it off in a knot.
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So now that I have some simple work wardrobe basics, I can get back to making frilly underpants.

Thanks so much for reading and have a fantastic weekend!




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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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:

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

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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.

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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

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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.

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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...

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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.