Wednesday, July 22, 2015

An Engineering Feat

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Hello Lovelies! Happy Hump Day and all. As you might have guessed, I've made a bra and underpants. I can't believe how much of a lemming I am. Of all the sewing trends, bra-making is probably the most expensive and challenging. I dunno... RTW bras (especially in the larger sizes) are quite expensive and hard to fit so worthwhile to learn how to custom make, but then again maybe some things should be left to the professionals? Hmmm.

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.... So, first things first, the fit is off in the upper cups, which means I have to start over. Bummer. But not completely unexpected.... I had been warned. I'll start with the details: I took the Craftsy course with Fairy Bra-Mother, Beverly Johnson. I really, really enjoyed her class. Her teaching style is mostly earnest and the lessons are straightforward, but she also reveals her charming, droll sense of humor every so often. I loved it and found her easy and enjoyable to listen to, which made it easier when I had to go back and rewatch some steps. 

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For next time: increase band by 1/2 inch. zig zag followed by three step zigzag.

My plan is to salvage most of my scraps and begin again with another bra. On the bright side, I did learn a bit for the next one. It's a shame I can't practice with an old sheet, though, as that would be more economical.

And speaking of salvaging scraps...

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So the undies pattern is the Seamwork pattern from Feb. It's just a really good, basic, comfortable brief that I like to wear. I was using a free undie pattern from a blogger (Thank you, Indigo Orchid, for your generous spirit and for making it easy for me to get started and explore this DIY.), but the Seamwork pattern is closer to my size. I actually felt nostalgic about sewing underwear the other day and was able to trace back my last RTW undies purchase to April 2014. I know, weird that I would know that. The only reason is because I had to jump on an emergency flight cross-country to my parents' house and hadn't had a chance to do laundry. (BTW, everyone's okay at home) I love making my own underpants now. Mostly, I use scraps, but I also raid the Good Will bag for old tee shirts. The purple and back pants are from an old GAP tee and the red stripeys are from a, mostly unsalvageable, wadder.

So that's it for me. Have a great week and thanks so much for reading! Cheers!




Wednesday, July 15, 2015

My First Burda

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Hello There! Look at what I've got - a dog-eared Spring/Summer issue of Burda Plus. An impulse purchase, for sure. Yes, I've heard all the horror stories - the tracing nightmares, plus adding seam allowances, plus very limited instructions...but a whole magazine full of patterns that I don't have to grade to fit me. Not that I want to make them all. Some are pretty fugly, made fuglier with hilarious styling, props, and textile choices, but I think I can see some possibilities. The question, though, is what patterns will be worth the tracing, marking effort, cutting, frustration, etc. Hmmmm

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THIS, I love....at least on the model. It would be lovely in a drapey rayon. I would have to make sure the sleeves didn't turn out too puffy. Puffy sleeves are not a large busted lady's friend.

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Speaking of large busted, I think I would feel self conscious wearing this in white, but with a little bit more ease in a dark colored swiss dot, I think it would be super cute. I do love wearing tunics.

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This is what I was talking about when I mentioned questionable textile choices. Ew. There are a couple of variations of this basic top without the feather thing around the neck that look okay, and as an added bonus, they include pockets.

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Just going to get up on my soapbox for a moment to say how cool it is to see a plus-sized dress modeled in a joyful, non self-effacing kind of way. Curvy ladies like to rock the party, too.

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A nice basic shape. I like it, but I think I could do the same thing with a Deer and Doe Plantain so maybe not worth the tracing effort.

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Basic, maybe a meh, but I do like the fluttery, asymmetrical overlay of fabric as a design detail. Maybe a good first Burda.

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The model looks great, but look at the line drawing. It looks rather complicated for a basic top. Also, dolman sleeves are not my friend.

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Very pretty. Makes me wish I had a wedding to go to.

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This is another variation of the boa-trimmed one above. I like it much better. Reminds me of a plus-sized Grainline Scout Tee so it might make a good basic.

So what do you think? Do you see any WTTE (worth the tracing effort) patterns here?

Thanks so much for reading. I've got some new projects I'm looking forward to sharing very soon. Also, tomorrow night I will be at How-To-Nighlife presenting some basic hand sewing/embroidery techniques at the California Academy of Sciences, so if you're in the Bay Area I hope to see you there. Have a great week. Cheers!


Sunday, July 5, 2015

Happy Fourth!

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Hello! If you're in the U.S., hope you're able to enjoy the holiday and  have some fun. We didn't really get it together to get out of town, so we're hanging out in the fog. So far it's been nice, but now I'm up in the middle of the night  - probably due to random, illegal fireworks action happening not too far away by the sound of it. I'll take this opportunity to catch you up on my sewing learning, obsessing, etc. But first... how about some unselfish sewing in honor of America's b-day.

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This handsome fella - AKA Beej - is modeling his recently completed Christmas present. On Christmas morning I presented  him with the World Series SF patch (for the SF Giants baseball team), along with a note that it would go on a shirt that I would make for him. Only 6 months later...Beej has a new shirt.

The details:
  • Pattern: Colette Negroni, I made my first men's shirt last year. You can see it here
  • Fabric: A robust, heavy linen - like burlap in its loose weave and tendency to fray -  purchased from Discount Fabric - probably around $10 per yard. Random thought: whenever I sew with linen I daydream about Medieval Times because it's an old textile. I also love ironing it. That said, now that the shirt is assembled, it will be the owner's responsibility to press it.  
  • Flat felled seams - booyah! I understand the concept now - much easier after completing a few projects involving French seams such as the True Bias Sutton blouse.  I'm satisfied with the shoulders and am pleased that everything is encased - especially considering how much this linen loves to fray.
  • I had the patch professionally sewn on at my local drycleaner. Is that weird? They've done such a nice job on Beej's jackets in the past, and even though I'm all about learning, I thought I should leave this part to the professionals. I actually learned a bit when I got the pocket back. The tailor had applied a ribbon-like fusible around the entire pocket for added strength. She also re-pressed and re-folded my pocket, mitering the corner in the proper manner. I tried to emulate her technique with the other pocket, but, of course, hers is much better. So I learned a bit from her.
  • I may eliminate the curved hem next time. It was difficult with this heavy, coarse linen.
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More details:
  • I love these buttons I purchased at Britex. They're encased in brass rings. I wanted something to pick up the gold/metallic accents in the patch but not be too blingy. I also learned how to use my button sewing foot. It was pretty easy because my machine defaults to a standard size, which I think these are, so there was no adjusting. Best tip so far: from What Katie Sews (Have you seen her sewing room? So cute and beautifully organized.) She recommends taping buttons in place and sewing directly on top of the tape. Tape peels right off. Awesome.
  • Although sewing and opening the buttonholes was drama-free, I'm always disappointed at how they turn out. This heavy linen was a bear and probably didn't help matters. Also, reminder to myself because I can never remember if I'm starting at the top or bottom of a buttonhole - it's the bottom, Donna, remember that!
So that's my unselfish sewing done for the year. ;) I'm thinking about making Beej this shirt each year to track my progress. Currently, I'm fantasizing about sewing with luxurious knits and making a bra AND making jeans - i.e.  way overbooked with sewing plans. Hope you're having a great weekend and thanks so much for reading!


Sunday, June 21, 2015

Highs and Lows


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Hello! Hope you've had a terrific weekend. I've been sewing lots but skipped blogging last weekend due to both time constraints and a general lack of enthusiasm. A number of disappointing projects in a row combined with looking at a slew of super crappy pictures of myself was a deterrent to blogging despite the fact that I have loads to say and share. No worries, though, because I plan to continue plugging away.... only way to get better, right?

The project I'm sharing today is HP1189  - Hot Patterns Fast and Fabulous Shirt-Tail T -  a new-to-me pattern company. This is the first project in a while, since my black Mabel,  that I'm pleased with. I'm sure this has to do with the fact that I took more care with the process - mainly the hem and neckband.

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I had just finished watching a Craftsy class called Sewing Fashion Knits: Beyond the Basics and I think it helped. There were quite a few good specific tips that I think will help me overall, as well as the reminder to slow down and aspire for a more finished result. My three big takeaways were:
  • Utilize your walking foot. It's really not that hard to attach and can really give you a more polished finish.
  • Adjust your serger's  differential differential feed when knits start getting wavy. I always start messing with the tension, but I'm going to consider the differential next time. 
  • Utilize different kinds of tape - e.g. wonder tape, stitch witch, fusible binding tape, etc. My hems are almost always better when I use some kind of temporary or permanent stabilizer. It really is worth it to take that extra step. 
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Here's an example of when I don't take the extra steps and rush through a project. I've got a neckband that won't lay down and a craptastic hem. Curved hems + knits = confusion and sadness for me.

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I just want to mention that after these pictures were taken I took an inch out of the center back seam, and the neck band sits much flatter and, while still oversized, the top fits a bit better. This was a really fun pattern that begs to be sewn up with striped fabric. You could also have fun with color blocking/ scrap busting here. I've never tried Hot Patterns before. The pattern is printed on thick paper, which is my preference. The instructions were not overly detailed but did provide enough information. This isn't a complicated project, after all. The hardest part - and maybe this is where the Advanced Beginner ranking comes from - is the curved hem. The instructions say to hem both sides before sewing up the side seams, and that does indeed make it  easier.

So that's all I have to share this week. I just checked out a bunch of sewing books from the library, so I've got all kinds of inspiration and new ideas swimming in my head - craft A.D.D., basically.

Thanks so much for reading and have yourself a fantastic week. 

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Color Style


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Hello! Hope you've had a lovely weekend. Except for the extended gloom and cold, my weekend was pretty great. I've been all about quick little projects to get back into sewing, plus I had some nice knits that I wanted to work with.

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This week I made a Colette Mabel mini, an oversized SBCC Tonic Tee, and an infinity scarf. I made the Mabel on a weeknight, which almost never happens, but it's such a quick and easy project. It was a bit of a trip down memory lane for me as the Mabel was my first knit project. I remember being so intimidated the first time. It was such a nice feeling to barely have to look at the directions this time. If you're thinking about making it, I would say that the mini is quite mini - even for me at 5'2" I just turned up the hem half an inch so it wouldn't be too short. I know a black tube skirt is a bit of a boring project, but I needed it to fill a hole in my wardrobe. It will get lots of wear. I used black ponte and made a size Large. I like the way it's not tight but the skirt stays put and never twists around.

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For the Tonic Tee I was envisioning an oversized top with extra long cuffs I could pull over my hands to make it extra cozy and soft, so I made the 3X. Now that I've worn it a bit and looked at pictures, I can see that it really is WAY too big and will trim it down and shorten the sleeves/cuffs. That's an easy fix. The fabric, from Wanderlust but no longer available, is a two way stretch (or is it called four way?) and the stripes are unusual in that they are diagonal.

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I really love this fabric and how it's an off white instead of a bright white. At one point, I excitedly told my husband that it reminded me of an old mattress, which made him look at me kind of funny. Usually I know what I like, but lately I keep finding myself vacillating between bright colors and more sedate tones. I love and have always loved rich, jewel toned colors, but I also love all the examples of tasteful garments in neutrals that I see on some of my favorite sewing blogs. I can't seem to make up my mind which camp I'm in.

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And that's where the infinity scarf comes in. I don't have to choose. I can have a neutral, but still get a kick of color to cheer away the gloomy and foggy weather. The fabric, while not exactly a double gauze, is actually two layers of the softest knit sewn together in a similar manner. I bought it at Britex with one of my gift certificates and at 29.95 per yard it was more than I usually spend. Then when I got it home I realized that it wouldn't make a great top because the knit is super clingy. It was meant to be a scarf, I guess. Seriously, it's so soft it feels like cashmere against my face even though it's not. And the color makes me very happy.

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So that's me with some new cozies. What about you? Do you ever have trouble deciding what your style is? Are you ever influenced by other bloggers only to find that their style may not work for you?
Thanks so much for reading and have a lovely week!


Monday, May 25, 2015

Big Bad Ladybug

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Hello! Hope you're doing great! I finally got around to trying another Colette Aberdeen tunic and am here to share my thoughts.

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In my last post, I was unhappy with how my Aberdeen turned out - mostly down to the drab color of my fabric and to the large fit in the neck and shoulders. So to remedy this I sized down from an extra large to a large and chose...um, a super bright (perhaps one might even say loud or garish?) color/pattern. I purchased this super soft cotton/rayon blend jersey from Wanderlust a while back. I think it was around $6 per yard. It's soft and has a nice drape and was called Ladybug. I thought it looked cute, but now that I've made something and worn it I'm thinking the fabric pattern might be a bit much for my short frame. I think I prefer smaller polka dots. However, I do like this version much better than my first one. Since it's a tunic it has a lot of ease built in, so sizing down was good. 

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My favorite part, which isn't rendered in my sketch, are the 3/4, fitted cuffs. My least favorite part is the v-neck neckband. Even though I did a better job this time than my awful gray one, it's still not great. There's a weird dimple at the point followed by a little puffing out. Next time I want to try a mitered V-neck following this great Cake tutorial

For the hem, I used fusible bias tape and my twin needle. I didn't bother with serging the edge, but now I think it would look a little better if I had.

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Overall, I think this is a nice, basic pattern and will continue to tweak it. But now I'm ready to move on to other projects. I'd like to replenish my Plantain collection - my most reached for tee-shirts of all time. I also promised to make my husband another linen Negroni, and I want to make a black Mabel to have as a basic, and... so much more! There are just so many fun things to make. Thanks so much for reading and have a fantastic week!



Sunday, April 12, 2015

Aberdeen, Thread, and Feeling Like Myself Again

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Hello! Oh Man did I miss blogging! For the last two months I've been focusing ALL my energy on work, putting in extra hours on the weekends, working late, and generally feeling like a zombie. For the most part, it was a joyless, anxiety-ridden time, but I learned a lot- both about the job and about myself. Of course, now that I'm through the hard part, I can look back with appreciation. I had an opportunity to get paid to learn AND experienced revelations every day. How awesome is that?

I missed making things so much, though. It doesn't matter whether it's sewing, or ceramics. or painting, or making jewelry, I've come to realize that this an important part of my life that helps me maintain a sense of well being and is therefore just as important as the other parts of my life.

Alas, after that somewhat grandiose statement, I have a bit of a whimper of a make to show you. Behold the Colette/Seamwork Aberden:

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First off, the color. Why I purchased a slubby knit the precise color of wet newspapers is a mystery.  I  think I was originally thinking about making a bottom with this fabric - some sweats or leggings - so wanted something low key.  When I saw the Aberdeen, a front and back V-tunic, I knew I wanted to make it, and since I'd abandoned whatever sweatpant plans I had for this fabric a long time ago, I thought I'd make a test version. I haven't had the best of luck with Colette patterns, so I'm glad I used this bland fabric up for my test version. The fit is not good.

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I made an extra large. Clearly, it's way too big in the shoulders. I would be showing my bra straps all day. I could try a large to see how that fits. However,  I like the extra room everywhere else, so I'm wondering how one would go about doing an FBA on a knit batwing sleeve top.

I will definitely play around and try this pattern again. I think it just needs some tweaking. On the bright side, in an effort to perk up this drab fabric I explored the embroidery options on my sewing machine and played around with an embroidered hem. Check it out.

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I didn't stabilize the fabric or anything. Because it's slubby, it's not super stretchy, so it was fine. Now, normally I would make some undies with the scraps, but because I didn't want to make a sad, gray pair of undies, I made an extra fancy little tea towel/wash cloth instead. I took it as an opportunity to explore my various stitches and use up some pretty bobs and bits of thread I've had sitting around.

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So there you go. You win some and you lose some. The best part, though, is that I got back to making stuff, to experimenting, to making myself happy.

Thanks so much for reading and have a fabulous and creatively fulfilled week!