Sunday, October 19, 2014
Hello! Hope you're having a lovely weekend. As you can see from the above pic I'm still working on my Colette Anise jacket. I'm actually really enjoying the slower process of building something a bit more substantial. And I love that I'm learning welt pockets and bound buttonholes. When I got to the part shown above - still in the ugly stage but finally starting to look like a jacket - I decided that I'd really should have gone for a single breasted look. So I started another jacket...
Now I have two jackets in the ugly stage.
But it's good because the second one will get more wear since it's a charcoal/grayish color. It looks a bit like navy in this picture, but it's actually an odd shade of dark gray with a slightly purplish tinge. It kind of reminds me of a faded black marker - a bit dull but maybe a good neutral for daily wear, and the lining (not shown) is a lovely shade of pink, so that will be fun. It's an inexpensive, bottom-weight, cotton with some lycra, that I had originally bought to practice making pants.
I'm still going to finish the corduroy jacket. There's no reason not to since I already cut the fabric. I just think I'll get more wear out of the second version. I thought it would be helpful to work on the second jacket at the same time while the construction is still fresh in my mind. I added the sleeves tonight and am happy to report that it went well and only a few curse words were uttered. (You know how some people name their sewing machines? Well, apparently mine is called "You Little Bitch.") I freakin' hate sleeves. I'm beginning to understand the logic behind the easing/sleeve cap part, but the whole process is just so messy with all the basting threads and then trying to sew the seam without getting any unwanted folds caught in the seamline. One thing that I will always do from now on is change the thread color for basting. It only takes a couple of seconds, and it just makes everything so much easier later. I even switched out the bobbin for the middle baste, when easing the sleeve, and that really helped.
As mentioned in my previous jacket post, I decided to play around a bit with the collar shape to get something a bit more angular. I like it better than the oversized, rounded peter pan of the original design. The collar for the corduroy version is much larger, which seems appropriate with the double breasted bodice, but I think I prefer the smaller version. This is going to sound crazy, but I kind of want to start another one. I'd love to make one with a more luxe fabric (maybe a boucle or gabardine) and a contrasting collar (maybe velvet) for special occasions.
So many things to make but not nearly enough time.
Just a quick post to log my current progress. Thanks for checking in! Have a lovely week.
Sunday, October 12, 2014
Hello! Hope you're having a great weekend. The weather's been really lovely here. Yesterday, I worked on some projects while Beej made chili and watched the Giants play. Super relaxing.
So on to my negative post title and the make I'm writing about today. It's not as tragic as I make it out, but it definitely is not a good look for me and I will take it for what it is - an experiment and an opportunity to learn. I considered not even blogging this because I hate the idea of seeing my pictures in some google image search down the road, but whatever. I like blogging even if it's not a successful make because I see this blog as a making journal. I don't think everything I make is great, but I make notes and share and hope to get better. And along the way I hope to connect with fellow creatives. While my family and friends are great and always encourage my creative pursuits, they do not want to listen to me go on and on about the virtues of fusible bias tape. I can just see their eyes glazing over now...
Okay, enough blather, here's what happened: Have you ever been hit with an idea that you're so excited about you want to attempt it immediately? I was at work, updating yet another endless spreadsheet when I started wondering about scrapbusting and how one would go about making the Vogue 1247 in a knit fabric. I have no idea how to grade a woven pattern for knit, but then I remembered the free Cake tee-shirt pattern, which has a kimono sleeve style not unlike the V1247 bodice. I grabbed what I could find in my desk (i.e. highlighters and a sharpie) to make a quick sketch:
So here's what it looks like and I'm sure you'll see right away why it is a fail:
No, I am not pregnant, but the color blocking certainly gives the optical illusion of a round, protruding belly, doesn't it? Yikes! I managed to cut myself in thirds and completely eliminated any hint of a waist. What's hilarious is that I was so excited about my idea and my feeling of accomplishment in its execution, I actually wore it to work the next day and thought I looked great! BAHAHAHA!!
But, you know, maybe if I had raised (or lowered) the geometric panels so the horizontal line didn't hit me at such an odd place? Or maybe if the black top part and colored bottom weren't so starkly different in value? Colorblocking is fun but definitely harder than it looks. You really have to pay attention to proportions. I dunno... I actually think on a long and lean body type this might look adorable. And I still think it's a cool idea and might try it again. Maybe try it as a V-neck and choose colors similar in value or all one hue with different values. I don't ever want to be afraid to experiment.
And it wasn't a complete waste. I used the rest of the blue, thriftstore-bound top I'd cut up to make a new pair of underwear. Score!
So do you ever post your failed projects? Have you ever tried color blocking? If you ever try this, please let me know as I would love to see other versions.
Thanks for reading! Have a lovely week.
Tuesday, October 7, 2014
Hello! Hope you're having a good week so far. I so wish there was enough time after work to do all the things that I want to do, but, you know, that's life....so I'm shutting the whining down right now. I want to share a new make - actually made on Saturday - and express my deep and (destined to be) abiding love for the Deer and Doe plantain. Yep, that's me - always tardy to the party. I've had the free pattern printed out for months but hadn't gotten to it - plus I was worried that it would be too small for me. I pictured only lovely, slender, French ladies wearing Deer and Doe, but I'm seeing lots of lovely, curvy ladies rockin' them as well. Yay!
I know I'm always gushing over tee shirt patterns, but, seriously, this one is extra special. Tee shirts make up a huge part of my wardrobe AND being able to make my own that fit me the way I want to (i.e. skim the chest but without linebacker shoulders and orangutan arms) is a game changer for me. It's actually pretty damn empowering. And all this taking pictures of myself is making me really look and analyze fit. I suspect that I need to learn how to do a narrow shoulder adjustment based on what I'm seeing. I don't really think I have narrow shoulders, but opting for larger sizes because of my bust measurement means that the shoulders are wider too. That's my guess, anyway.
We went out to brunch with Beej's parents on Sunday, so I got to wear my new top along with my (boring) Colette Ginger skirt. I even made the necklace. Everything but the shoes, baby! :) (Except the bra, of course. That's a feat of engineering that I don't plan on attempting....yet.)
So back to the plantain. I was definitely encouraged by just about everything I read on the internet. So, yeah, everyone on the internet was right. It's awesome and so flattering and just feels really good to wear. It skims without being tent-like. It's magic. I loved reading Laurence's post on grading Deer and Doe patterns to fit her shape over at the Curvy Sewing Collective. Why should we limit ourselves when all it takes is a little thinking and a bit of math? But, ugh, math...Kidding! As a challenge to myself, I've ordered the Bruyere and will use that as an opportunity to learn how to grade a pattern. What's the worst that can happen?
A few notes for future plantains before I forget:
- The fabric is a very lightweight sweater knit. I bought it at Fabric Outlet in the Mission (they're having a 40% off sale, btw, until Oct 14th). Fabric Outlet is awesome for selection and super friendly staff, but the bolts don't have ANY information on content. You just have to make an educated guess. My guess is rayon, poly, and spandex. Used 1 yard @ 7.99 per yard X 40% off. So this is one of the few times that sewing is actually cheaper!
- This is a really great pattern for a slinky, luxe-feeling, fabric to make a great layering tee. That's definitely my plan.
- No FBA. I went by my high bust measurement based on a blog post by Sewnhenge.
- I used fusible bias tape for hemming the bottom and sleeves. Not only did it do a good job stabilizing the fabric, but it acted as a built-in measuring guide for turning up the hem evenly.
- I'd like to start using the fusible to reinforce my shoulder seams when working with these drapey knits. I wish I had for this one because I can tell it's going to get a lot of wear.
Saturday, October 4, 2014
Hello! Hope you're having a great week. I didn't have much time to sew this week, but I did go to circus school Wednesday night, which was a first for me and a lot of fun. I balanced on a giant ball, walked a tightrope two feet off the ground, and practiced juggling.
I don't have any makes to share because I am deep in decision mode for a fall jacket or coat. It seems that everyone who takes up sewing has coat aspirations at some point. With good reason - coats are expensive and fun to personalize and you get a lot more chances to show off your make. Here's my first, sad, little attempt, accompanied by a sketch, from waaayyy back in 2011. I was probably even proud of it, although I think I only wore it a few times....so DIY goggles.
Those pockets are pretty terrible, aren't they? The coolest part, though, was that I used a silk scarf to line the hood. The scarf was part of a swag bag from when I worked part-time at a museum and was based on a painting by M.C. Escher. Cute idea, just executed really badly. But now that I've had lots of practice and actually understand and utilize techniques like grading and understitching and am working to overcome my fear of sleeves, I'm hoping this next coat/jacket attempt will be much, much better.
So I've had my fabric for ages - the amber corduroy pictured at the top of this post, with the bee voile (used to make a Papercut Clover and blogged here) as a lining. I purchased a pattern - the adorable and comfy looking Malu by Schnittchen. I even spent an evening taping the pdf and EVEN made a partial/quickie muslin. It looks like a pretty easy pattern to sew up and "Schnittchen" is just so fun to say, but I kept having this nagging feeling that the fabric I had was really wrong for the pattern.
The fabric used for the Malu on the Schnittchen website looks really soft and snuggly. Whereas corduroy seems like it would be too stiff, making the shape stand away from my body in an unflattering way.
And then this happend.
Sigh. Swoon. Have you seen Masters of Sex? It's pretty good, and the costumes are freaking amazing. I don't really wear retro styles, but this is just such a classic shape. I am completely and utterly smitten. Now there are a few problems since this actress and I have polar opposite body types. Seriously. She is as tall, slender, and small busted as I am...well, not going to reinforce unhealthy body image language, but you get the idea.
But now I'm starting to think that maybe, as long as I have realistic expectations and spend the necessary time achieving a really good fit, I could make something like this work for me. I live in San Francisco, so I never really need a long coat with a hood. But I can always use jackets. And a jacket like this would really come in handy and be nice to have for dressier occasions, as well as with jeans.
So then another thing happened. Colette Patterns had a 30% sale on ALL their patterns if you subscribed to their free hem guide - and why wouldn't you? In fact, here's a link to their hem guide. And I think that the sale is still going on. I still struggle with remembering which type of hem is appropriate for a garment, and I enjoy experimenting with trying to achieve a professional looking hem, so I, for one, am really excited to have all that info in one handy-dandy guide.
Now, I had been eyeing the Anise jacket for a while but had dismissed it as too difficult and too boxy. Plus, I wasn't sure about the peter pan collar.
But me being the impulsive sort, and it was late, and...so, yeah, I bought it, and now I have another ginormous pattern to tape together. Now my only question is whether I can change the collar from the rounded peter pan to something a bit more angular as shown in the photo below.
Sunday, September 28, 2014
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.
- 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. ETA: The extra 1.5 to the width of the front and back pattern pieces made for a perfect fit!
- 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.
Sunday, September 21, 2014
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.
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 stock...so 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
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.