Saturday, July 7, 2018

Sabor, Tutton....Tabor-ish

Hello, hope you're well! I'm having one of those days where I'm so tired I don't know where to start or what to do. This week's been hectic despite (or maybe due to) having a holiday smack in the middle of the week. Thursday and Friday were 12-hour days for me, and I will need to go into the office tomorrow—on a Sunday. No bueno. On the bright side, this is not a permanent situation. I've got two events in the Pacific Northwest this week to finish preparing for. Things will normalize a bit by next week when those events are behind me.

I was instantly smitten when I saw the Tabor v-neck by the intriguing Sew House Seven. It's SO my wheelhouse: loose and boxy, knit, v-neck, kimono sleeve or drop sleeve, a million variations. Now before I go any further, I need to make the disclaimer that this isn't really a helpful review of the pattern because I had to vary the construction method, but I still wanted to write about it because I think it was a good save.

You can probably spot the main reason why this is not really a good review of the Tabor in the above pic: Check out that center seam. I was following along with the instructions for the cropped sweater version with the wide lapped neckband, which was the standout variation to me. As you can see, that's not what I ended up with. Turns out, constructing the neck was trickier than I anticipated. After a few unsuccessful attempts and some overly aggressive seam ripping, I discovered that I'd torn a pea-sized hole in the front. There was no way to cover it up. I wanted to save this knit because...time, fabric, labor—but also because I think this knit, while inexpensive and therefore not the best quality, is interesting. It's meant to look like denim—even on the reverse side—but it's a stretchy knit. I guess it's intended for jeggings, but I thought it would make a cute top.

I didn't have enough fabric to recut another front piece on the fold, but then I remembered the construction of one of my favorite woven patterns—the True Bias Sutton top.

I didn't use any of the Sutton pattern pieces, but I borrowed from its construction. Basically, I cut a Tabor tee shirt front piece (NOT the cropped sweater version) on the cross grain as two pieces. Sewed the two front seams at the shoulder seam to the back of the original sweater piece (it was a little mismatched at the neck, but I was able to trim a little to get them to fit), and attached a neckband BEFORE joining the two center fronts. For the neckband, I used the tee version but made it extra long for wiggle room. I used my cover stitch to tack down the neck before sewing the center and I pulled gently for just a little tension so that the neckline would lay flat. I also added sleeve cuffs, using my Hey June Santa Fe pattern, and a split hem for kicks.

Here's a pic of how it looks on. I swear, at this point I think I should rename this blog, "Toilet Selfie."

So it's not how I intended it to go, but I like the top I ended up with. I do plan to learn the proper construction method. In fact, I've got the perfect piece of burgundy merino wool to make the lapped v-neck sweater, which would be perfect for fall. But I had so much fun with this easy, stress-free method, that I couldn't resist making a couple more Tabor-ish Suttons or Sutton-ish Tabors (Sabors?) in different types of knits. Once you remove the tricky neckline of the Tabor, construction is laughably easy. And I really don't mind the center seam.

A shibori knit for an easy summer tee...

And this terracotta tee (I'm OBSESSED with this color) for wearing with shorts and jeans. 

Here are the sizing deets and additional musings:
  • Size: 20. A little too large. Also, fabric type/stretch affects the sizing as well. I ended up making all kinds of crazy mods:
    • For my faux denim knit: Sewed the crop sweater back, with cropped tea front sewn as two pieces. In my haste, I did not remember to add a seam allowance but with so much ease it wasn't a problem. 
    • Lengthened cropped sweater by 1.5" in the front and 3" in the back. 
    • Eyeballed the side split and used Hey June piece for the cuff.
    • All three tops were primarily constructed on the serger with some basting on my regular sewing machine. 
  • For the Shibori print: 
    • Used both front and back tee pieces at the cropped length. 
    • Raised v-neckline by 3/4" and sewed the shoulder with a 5/8" seam allowance. 
    • The beauty of this construction is that you don't have to worry about the neckband being off because you end up trimming the excess anyway. 
    • Also forgot seam allowance. 
    • The front tips up a teensy bit due to my bust. 
    • Again, I added cuffs since it's a summer top that won't likely be worn with a cardigan, but the knit is pretty flimsy so the cuffs ended up being a little floppy. I may cut them off altogether and fold under for a simple hem.
    • Cover stitched the hem only because the coverstitching on the neckline wasn't looking too good. I ended up unpicking. There was quite a bit of tunneling, so I adjusted all my machine tension dials to 2 (they're usually at 4).
  • For the terracotta knit
    • First, the fabric is a fabulous hemp and organic cotton jersey that I purchased from Blackbird in April 2017. It was $10.50 per half meter. I love this fabric so much. It's perfect for a casual tee. Think, beach bonfires. Also, the color is surprisingly flattering to, I think, every skin tone—even mine that tends to go blotchy. 
      • Cut both front and back tee shirt pieces as a straight size 20. This resulted in a neckline that's far too low, which is why I make sure to wear a pretty bra with it. It's too casual (and low cut) for work, but I love to wear it with jeans or sweats. 
      • No cuffs for this one. 
      • Did not cover stitch the neckline. 
    For future "Sabors," I don't think I'll bother going down a size, but I will raise the neckline to 3/4" like I did for the shibori version. It hits at the sweet spot of not too low, not too mumsy.  The arm holes fit well—roomy, but no bra peeking out. 

    So, moral of the story:  if you find yourself messing up the Tabor v-neck, consider turning it into a Sabor.  

    Thanks for reading and have a great week!

    Sunday, July 1, 2018

    A Healing Sew

    Hello. Hope you're having a great weekend. I've just returned to San Francisco after two weeks in Tennessee, which felt like two years because of all the intense feelings associated with this particular trip. My amazing dad chose to receive hospice care at home and left the world within a week. I was so very lucky to spend time with him before he died.

    I try to keep things light and cheerful here on the blog and mainly focused on sewing and other creative endeavors, but since this is also my life I didn't think I could not mention such an important event. I also want to muse a bit about the healing benefits of creative acts. I'm not going to talk about the pattern or fabric for the above pic in this post. I will in my next post, though, because I think it might be of interest to sewists. 

    When I got the call from my mom that my dad wanted to stop treatment and would die within a week, I was utterly overwhelmed. My generous and kind boss used some of her air miles to put me on a plane (first class, no less) the very next morning. While packing and waiting for my laundry to dry, I finished the tee-shirt pictured here and found it so soothing to have something to do with my hands. I guess I'm a doer, so having something methodical to work on was comforting. While in Tennessee, I couldn't sew (this was one of those times that I wished I was a knitter since it's portable) and found myself wishing I could work on something during some of the long evenings while my father slept—not for the fun of making something new but so that I could be comforted by following simple steps. 

    I channeled a lot of my excess energy into trying to help my mom with housework and funeral arrangements. Towards the end of my trip, I used the long, quiet evenings to put together some pdf patterns while I thought about my dad. Since not everyone gets the chance to say goodbye, I feel eternally grateful that I was able to tell my dad how much I love him. I'll miss him like crazy, but I'm just so proud and happy to have had him as my father for the time I did.  He had such a joyful spirit, and his illness had robbed him of so much of that. I'm grateful that he's at peace. The funeral (my first) was beautiful and heartfelt with some wonderfully weird moments that I think my dad, with his playful sense of humor, would appreciate. 

    Rest in peace, Dad. You loved and were loved and made the world a better place in so many ways. 

    Saturday, June 9, 2018

    Sewing Knits: Coverstitching and Some Undies

    Hey there! Hope all is well with you and you're enjoying your weekend wherever you are. Last weekend Beej and I did some heavy duty (and much needed) spring cleaning, and Thursday I worked from home, which meant I was able to get my laundry done while working. So with so many chores completed, I'm really excited to have a guilt-free weekend of doing whatever-the-hell-I-feel-like. I've been sewing a lot lately, and when I'm not sewing I've been thinking about sewing. I feel like I've got a pretty good balance going right now of TNTs and challenging projects on my table. I've been muslining pants the past couple of weeks, playing with my new coverstitch machine, and replenishing my undie drawer while simultaneously scrapbusting. It's been a good flow.

    I guess I'll start with my new toy: the Janome 900 CPX coverstitch machine. I think the three needle Janome 1000 and 2000 models are more popular because of the additional option to sew three lines of stitching for not that much more money. Makes sense to have options, but since I don't sew high-performance athletic knits, a two needle version is just fine for me. I will probably only use it for hemming knits. I must confess, though, that after seeing so many cool binding tutorials on YouTube I was ready to order the binding attachment. But once I saw the price—upwards of $200 for a metal attachment—I decided to slow my roll and wait and see if it's really something I want.

    A coverstitch machine is definitely not a sewing must-have. I just happened to have a bunch of Amazon gift cards and decided to go for it since I sew with knits so much, and hemming is really my least favorite part. I gave up on twin needles a while ago and was using a combination of fusible bias and zig-zag or straight stitch (for loose-fitting knits) to make a satisfactory hem. For the most part, this method worked out well for me, although I felt it looked a little janky on the underside. Also, my knit hems almost always required a light pressing after laundering to smooth out the ripples. Who wants to spend time ironing knits, amiright?

    I practiced on a cheap t-shirt knit before breaking out this gorgeous striped bamboo rayon from Blackbird fabrics. I went for my favorite striped knit T-shirt pattern: the free Mandy Boatneck Tee from Tessuti. Here's what the coverstitched neck and hem look like, respectively. 

    Overall, not bad! I used my hot hemmer and masking tape to make the hem length more precise, although it does overlap here and there. Better to overlap a little than not catch the edge of the hem, though. Coverstitching feels more like sewing than serging. I'm used to whizzing things through my serger at breakneck speed but found I needed to slow down a bit for sewing on the coverstitch. Also, removing your fabric from the machine after stitching takes some getting used to as it's not very intuitive. 

    Aaaand here's one of my super classy toilet pics. I love how this top looks with my new red clogs. 

    I ended up downloading a new copy of the Mandy Tee, so I'm adding a few notes here:
    • I lowered the neckline 1.5 inches so it doesn't hit my throat uncomfortably. My guess is this is a large bust issue. The adjustment is perfect and my bra straps don't show. Bonus!
    • I've learned the hard way to only use nice stretchy knits for the Mandy that contain some spandex/lycra. This bamboo rayon from Blackbird is perfect, and the quality is excellent—soft, stretchy, and luxurious with excellent color saturation. 
    • I did not lengthen or shorten at all, and I really like where it hits me.
    Since I like this fabric so much, I wanted to be sure to use up the scraps. These are the Acacia undies by Megan Nielsen. Bamboo rayon is really great for underwear since it's so soft and stetchy.

    The Acacia undies were released around the holidays as a free pattern. (Yay for free Aussie patterns in this blog post!) Since I seem to be compelled to try every single free undie pattern out there, I, of course, had to make a bunch. They are a little trickier to sew due to the extra curve in the bum (see photo of pattern piece below), but said curved bum is what makes them so incredibly comfortable to wear. They just seem to hold on better if you know what I mean. 

    The pattern is not halved to cut on the fold, so I just folded mine. I don't see how it makes much of a difference and I'm more likely to cut it symmetrically on the fold. Size goes up to XL. I made size L and like the fit. I used my favorite Ohhh Lulu techniques for assembling and enclosed the crotch seams.

    So this post was a lot longer than I had planned. I've got more makes to share—hopefully soon. Maybe I'll even finally complete some trousers. In the meantime, have yourself an absolutely lovely weekend!

    Sunday, May 20, 2018

    Scrapbusting: Ida Clutch

    Hey there! Hope you're having a great weekend. It's been a perfect spring weekend for Beej and I. We went to the Giants game yesterday, and they won so yay! I got to sew last night, and then I spent most of today learning how to use my new coverstitch machine. So much fun stuff. With the coverstitch, there's definitely a learning curve, but fortunately, we live in the age of YouTube. I'm muddling through. Now I'm just relaxing while Beej makes dinner—in other words, I'm living the life.

    So I want to talk today about the Ida Clutch, an awesome free pattern by Kylie and the Machine. I was inspired by Shauni of The Magnificent Thread's post (and her whole #sewingleftovers hashtag) and straight up copied her idea to use the pattern to make a cross body bag. Beej and I are going to Europe this summer, and I think it would be great to have a small bag to carry the essentials while sightseeing. 

    With the exception of the zipper, everything I used for this is a scrap or taken from an unsuccessful project. The strap and D-rings are from an old purse I found in the back of my closet.

    I had so much material that I ended up making an additional bag without the strap, which I'm giving to my boss for her birthday next week. She travels for work all the time, so I think it might make a handy travel bag. I will resist the urge to point out the various mistakes I made—like the wonky zipper— when I give it to her. :)

    Sorry if the above pic is giving you vertigo.  I had trouble getting a decent shot of the lining, which is an April Rhodes rayon that I absolutely love. Before I forget, here are the deets:

    • Much like the idea that it's just as easy to make two lasagnas as one, I constructed these simultaneously, which is something I've never done before. It worked out fairly well, though it also meant that when I did make mistakes I had to rip out twice as many stitches. 
    • The instructions are incredibly clear, accompanied by many, many photographs. The ripping of stitches, mentioned in the previous bullet, was entirely down to me trying to watch SNL last night and quickly construct and sew during the commercials. 
    • I interfaced both the lining and the outer material. For the lining I used featherweight; for my crossbody bag I used a very heavy interfacing that one would use for craft projects; the travel pouch is made with midweight. Mainly I was focused on using up old supplies in my stash. 
    • I purchased my zippers from Zipit Zippers. The package arrived super quick, and the price was much better than what's usually available in brick and mortar stores—5 zippers for $7.50.

    In other news, I made another Chalk and Notch Fringe blouse. If you're interested in making this top, I recorded my notes in this post. Here are few more quick notes.
    • I added 1" waist darts for just a teensy bit of shaping. Overall, though, I like the fit to be relaxed. 
    • Fabric is the last of my Blackbird Fabrics tencel. I just need to remember to keep it out of the dryer. My kalle has a slightly sandwashed quality from the dryer. 
    • I'm not finished with this pattern yet. I still want to make a dress AND try the other sleeve and collar options.

    Well, that's all I've got today. Hopefully, I'll have some slick new coverstitched hems/knit projects to share next time I blog. Have an absolutely lovely week and thank you very much for reading. 

    (P.S. The tee shirt in the first pic is the Plantain reboot by Deer and Doe. I need to practice a bit more with my coverstitch before hemming.)

    Monday, April 30, 2018

    Something Different (But Also Kinda Related to Sewing)

    Hello! I don't have a new make to share, but I also don't think I should only blog when I've created a new garment. I finished this painting, which I personally think is quite lovely, a couple of weeks ago.  It's based on a memory from when I traveled around Mongolia. I've actually painted on this canvas for years, almost a decade. I could never get it quite right, so I would paint a bit, feel dissatisfied, and hide it away under the bed. It finally feels resolved to me, which is a wonderful feeling.

    Yup, that's me. I had so many camera issues on that trip and lost whole rolls of film.  I traveled around  Mongolia with a super cool Swedish woman, whom I met randomly, and she sent me this picture, otherwise, I wouldn't have been able to memorialize the experience. It's amazing the kind of connections you make while traveling.

    So what does this have to do with sewing? After I completed this painting, I started to think about having it digitally printed on fabric. I got to the point of uploading it onto Contrado. I changed my mind at the last minute. It was really expensive (like $50+ per yard), so I decided to wait and  take more pictures and put more thought into my overall design. I wanted to print on silk to make a scarf for my mom and for a dear friend who's going through a tough time. I also wanted to print some cotton lawn and use it to make a kimono-robe for myself. So, hopefully, I'll update this blog soon with my own custom fabric. 
    In other sewing-related news, I finally pulled the trigger and bought a cover stitch machine. I spend almost every weekend actively decluttering my home, so I resisted bringing another object into my sewing space. However, I had amassed a bunch of gift cards from my very generous bosses and decided to go for it. 

    So that's all I've got. Thank you for indulging me in a non-sewing/but-somewhat-sewing-related blog post. Peace and love and have a great week!

    Saturday, April 7, 2018

    Hot Patterns Milano Dolman Top

    Hello, Hello! Hope you're having a great weekend. The last few work weeks have seemed endless to me, and all I can think of during tedious, uncomfortable commutes and hurried or nonexistent lunch breaks is the precious weekend ahead when I can devote my time to creative pursuits. But then something funny happens: I get to the weekend and become paralyzed by indecision. What should I spend my time on? I have a painting I've been repainting over and over in my mind, a Chalk and Notch Fringe top to cut, some True Bias Emerson pants, underwear ready to sew up, a half pieced quilt...and on and on.

    So, since I can't decide what project to work on, I thought I'd talk a bit about this knit top instead. Hot Patterns is an interesting pattern company. If you can get past their cheesy tagline,"So hot they're smokin," without inwardly cringing too much, you will find that they do fill a void in the indie pattern world: knit tops with interesting seaming and construction—more akin to RTW, actually. I can never have enough comfy knit tops that look a bit more dressy than a tee shirt for work. Also, since I was in the midst of sleeve hell with my anorak, I decided to take a vacation from sleeves entirely with an easy dolman.

    Even though I like the version pictured here, with the hip band, I went for the second, shirt-tailed hem version, which is a good thing because the hip band uses a lot of fabric, and I barely eked this out with 1.5 meters of a fantastic bamboo rayon from Blackbird and had to use black ribbing for the cuffs and neckband. The blue is no longer available, but I've linked here to another pretty color. (I'm still sewing through my Blackbird purchases from last year.)

    The thing to remember about Hot Patterns is that they're kind of like Big Four in that there's a ton of ease. I sewed up a size 20 based on my bust size, but I'll definitely size down to an 18 for the next version. The pattern has no overlap in the armscye, or anywhere else for that matter, so cutting the next size down will be easy and drama free. 

    My first version ended up being way too long, more like mini dress or tunic length. While I don't pay a lot of attention to the "rules" about what plus size ladies should wear, I knew instinctively that the dolman sleeves, combined with the length, would overwhelm my short frame. As a result, I ended up cutting the shirt tale bottom off and shortening a whopping 4 inches to make it a top rather than a tunic. FYI: I'm 5'2" and usually wear a 2-3 inch heel. The version on the left shows how it looked before I shortened it. I also shortened the arms by 1 inch. I wonder if the length is necessary for the hip band version so that the top can blouse over but, maybe, not necessary for the shirt tail version.

    So here's a super classy and off kilter ladies room pic. Please excuse the hair; I'm way overdue for a cut. Also, it was casual Friday, hence the jeans.

    Overall, the neckband is a bit too wide, and the arms could be shortened another half inch. I have to say, though, even though this is kind of a meh review,  I've been reaching for this top every week. It's so soft and comfy with the high quality knit. I actually wore this on Monday and Friday last week, hoping to use my superpower of being an invisible middle-aged woman so that no one would notice. If you're interested in making this top, Thornberry wrote a much more comprehensive review here.

    Well, folks, that's all I've got. I hope you're able to find some time to do something creative this weekend. Have a fantastic week and thank you very much for reading. All the best!

    Monday, March 26, 2018

    Viva Gigantes! Viva Thread Theory!

    Hello! Happy spring! Of course, around these parts spring means baseball season--one of the few sports I can actually get behind. Since Beej liked the Thread Theory Finlayson I made for him for Christmas, I eagerly promised to make another one, telling him I would have it for him before opening day. (I definitely work better with a deadline.) I needn't have worried about making my deadline; everything comes together so much faster the second time around. In fact, I wasn't going to blog this since it's a repeat, but I do have a few notes to record. Also, look at that cute furry face. I had to share.

    Like my last version, which you can see here, I made a size large, grading out to an extra large in the tummy area. This time, though, I shortened the arms by 1.5 inches and used the regular sized cuffs instead of the alternate cuff, which is designed for fabrics with very, very little stretch. 

    I had it cut and about one third assembled on Saturday, attaching the hood, sleeves, and cuffs on Sunday morning. It was so little effort on my part compared to how happy it makes him! He has barely taken it off since I snipped the last thread. I lined the hood in a fabulous orange sweatshirt material from Britex that is wonderfully soft. It's as close as I could find to a true San Francisco Giants orange. The black is the softest, loveliest merino/polyester sweatshirting from the Fabric Store. It's like a french terry in that it has loops on the wrong side--around $19 per meter. I started out on the Los Angeles store's website, so I was a bit surprised when my fabric arrived from New Zealand. I guess that's where they fulfill orders. I probably will limit my future Fabric Store merino purchases to in-store whenever Beej and I do a weekend in L.A., though, just to try to be a bit more eco-conscious. No regrets, though, because the quality is amazing. Seriously, it's SO much more special than a regular cotton sweatshirt material. (And, of course, I also included some beautiful Marsala premium merino for myself, which served as a  little travel buddy.) 

    I finally got around to ordering some labels from Dutch Label Shop. Had a very positive experience with them. When I updated my order, the system automatically defaulted to a larger quantity right as I was sending the order. I contacted them right away and they responded quickly and adjusted my order. No drama.

    Last note, there are instructions to finish the back hood seem with twill tape. This picture serves as a reminder that it's always a good idea to keep a couple of yards of twill tape on hand for such occasions, as well as for reinforcing shoulder seams. It would look SO much better than that serged seam. Ah, well, next time...

    Thanks so much for reading about my dude sewing. Admittedly, I don't do a lot of unselfish sewing, but maybe I should...I love to see Beej proudly wearing something I made for him!

    Hope you're enjoying the changing of the seasons wherever you are! Have a fantastic week. (It's only Monday, pace yourself.)