Sunday, September 28, 2014

V1247 In Apple Green


Hello! Another week has flown by and while most of it was a bit tedious, I did get to spend some evenings working on my very own Vogue 1247, which was lots of fun. (Being a sewing-blogging newbie, I've only just discovered the famed V1247, so I guess this post is so very 2012.)

So far I haven't really loved any of my woven garments (mostly due to the fact that I don't spend enough time fitting and cutting properly). This, however, I love! There are some issues I will detail for my own learning purposes, but, yes, I really really love how this turned out.


And this is the part where I get to feel a little virtuous because I made this top from a thrifted maxi dress. Yes!  See below:


I picked up this sad, little, most-likely-purchased-from-Forever 21 number at my local Goodwill for 6 bucks because I loved the color and it's a garment with so much fabric to practice with. Now that we're heading/or into fall (depending on where you live) this is a good time to pick up second hand maxis (or upcycle your own). The fabric is a thin cotton with a pretty rough texture that I didn't necessarily love sewing, but for me the color makes up for the low-grade fabric. I also didn't have to worry about wasting a more luxurious (and expensive) fabric while trying out a new pattern. So I guess this is a wearable muslin. I ran into some trouble at the shoulder seams, which you can see for yourself here:


My shoulder pleats don't meet exactly and there is too much fabric at the back. Part of the problem is that, despite numerous bloggers commenting on the hugely oversized aspect of this design, I was still afraid that it would be too small for me at the bust. So when I cut the back piece, I cut it folded rather than two pieces and didn't deduct the seam allowance. I thought it would give me more room...and I guess it did. The problem is that everything else sort of shifted. The neck got wider and the front got lower. So low, in fact, that I ended up adding a little modesty panel at the V neck to avoid exposing way too much. There was a bit of a gauzy underskirt on the dress, so I used that for the panel, which I think adds a nice bit of texture. Cutting on the fold did, however, allow me to take advantage of the slit in original garment. I think this top benefits from having the back slit since it's so oversized and flowy. The CB is the only non-frenched seam since it's part of the original. I wonder how one would attempt a slit in a french seam? Hmmm?


I wound up guessing on grainline and bias. I figured that since the original dress looked to be pretty cheaply mass-produced, it was a fair assumption that the skirt panels were not cut on the bias to save on fabric.

And here's an undie pic and some notes on my ongoing quest to perfect my underwear making. In keeping with my upcycling theme this week, the fabric is from an old Banana Republic tee that was ready to be retired.

My notes:
  • I'd like to try another V1247 (and the cute skirt that's included) in a more luxurious fabric next time. I bet double gauze would be lovely. Also, wouldn't this make a fun dyeing project? I could see the segmented panels dyed in different values of the same hue.
  • Next time I would cut AS is except maybe raise the CF about an inch. Also, I would pay more attention to this part of the fit before adding the neck facing. (I'm already pretty lazy about ripping out stitching but even more reluctant to make adjustments with the french seams.) This pattern is really about getting it right in the preliminary stages.
  • I was seriously confused about the shoulder pleats. I was never sure if I was supposed to top stitch them or what. I've seen other versions where sewists have removed them altogether, but I like the extra shaping they add to an otherwise boxy little top. I think they would look better, though, if they were a little closer together.
  • I didn't do the sleeve roll, but I did add the sleeve facing. Found this most excellent sleeve roll tutorial from Salme patterns.
  • Undies - This is a bigger version of what I've been making since this fabric is not a four way stretch. I cut the front and back pieces about 1.5 inches wider. 
  • I think I'm improving with the elastic sewing part. The trick, I think, is not to pull too much. I can  tell when they look all twisty that I've pulled way too hard on the elastic.
So that's all I can think to note about my most recent make. I may add some notes later when I've worn them a bit. Thanks so much for reading (if you've made it this far), and I hope you have a lovely week.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

New Favorite Tee Shirt


Hello Hello! I hope you've had a lovely week. Mine was busy but mostly pleasant. I absolutely love this time of year as we step into fall.  It's not yet dark when I get home from work, and the light has this lovely golden quality that fills me with such a sense of peace.  And since I've become obsessed with sewing my own clothes lately, it's been fun planning a fall wardrobe.

One staple for my fall wardrobe is plenty of long sleeve tees and these two versions of the Bronte, by Jennifer Lauren Vintage, are perfect for knocking around in on the weekends. I love that the construction looks a bit more fancy with the lapped neckline, but it's really just a simple tee. In fact, I found the neckline a bit easier because you didn't have to worry so much about the neck binding not going all the way around. Plus, the buttons give it a flirty, vintage feel.

Please excuse the obviously shopped photo. I wanted to show the two Brontes side by side and had a long pic and a wide pic. In fitting them in same image, I went the vertical route which was, of course, in my favor. Just so you know that I don't think I'm fooling anyone - least of all, myself! :)

In terms of fit, I feel great wearing them, but now that I'm looking at pictures I can see where both tops are a little too big in the shoulders. This has nothing to do with the pattern; it's just me trying to figure out how to fit my own particular body. For the black version I just made the largest size without any adjustments, which is why it's way too long in the arms and, overall, fits a bit looser. For the raspberry colored version I did this simple knit FBA, and shortened the torso and arms. I also brought the back part of the lapped collar down about an inch farther than recommended so that my bra straps wouldn't peak out and spoil the pretty collar. (Actually, that might explain the pull lines at the corners.) It can be frustrating to work on something and feel good about it only to look at pictures later and be disappointed, but I guess that's only natural as I start to pay more attention to fit. I'm currently reading Fit for Real People and just signed up for Fast Track Fitting at Craftsy, so I do hope to get better.

I usually avoid closer fitting tees because of my large bust, but I have to say that I really like the Bronte. I would probably feel too self conscious wear the raspberry tee out and about, though, which is a shame because I really love the color. (Honestly, it's still difficult to post these photos, but I value what the process is teaching me so I'll keep at it.)

These were so easy and fun to put together that I would love to make a couple more dark-colored versions but with FBA and the other adjustments I mentioned. I'll also give the sewalong a look over and see how others have resolved similar fitting issues.


Here's what's becoming the obligatory undies shot. And here are my notes:
  • This is some leftover drapey rayon jersey from Wanderlust.  I think they're out of this crazy floral AND animal print, but it looks like they've got some new things in Yay.
  • Even though this doesn't have four way stretch, I think it will fit better than the striped versions from last week. I think they had too much cotton in them for the kind of stretch needed for undies. I tried these on on before adding the elastic, so I think they'll be good. 
  • The raspberry fabric is a modal poly jersey. It's pretty cheap, but I really loved the color and was itching to make another Bronte with adjustments. 
  • The black fabric is a cotton jersey from Wanderlust. It's super soft but not slinky or drapey in the least, which I thought would be good since I think the Bronte needs a knit with some structure and body.


And here's me doing my best Joan Holloway. Yes, there will definitely be more Brontes in my future.

Until next time. Have a fabulous week!

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.