Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Sleeves!

I wore this to work the other day for the first time.  Um, let's just say that these sleeves are not made for art teacherin'.  I just about dipped them in to paint/glue/glaze on several occasions.  Then I almost cut them in the paper cutter.  I finally had to tie them up over my elbow with a rubber band to teach the rest of the day.  However, these sleeves are made for swanning around and looking groovy!  I love them.  I just maybe need to think about what I'm going to teach that day before I wear this to work again.  Anyway, to the review...



Pattern Description:  McCalls 7545.  Misses split neck top with flared sleeves.  There are three different views; a short sleeve version without the flared sleeve, a version with a long flared sleeve with sleeve bands, and a version made for border prints with a gathering.  It's a very groovy looking pattern.  I made view B with the sleeve bands because I was drawn to the view with the two contrasting fabrics.




Pattern Sizing:  6-22.  I made a 14.  I waffled between making a 12 or 14 but ultimately went with the larger size because I was worried about the shoulders being too tight.


Fabric Used:  I used two different rayon challis prints I found at Joann's.  I really didn't want the two fabrics to match at all.  I wanted them to sort of clash, but not in a bad way.  I spent FOREVER cutting this out.  Single layer, painstakingly making sure each side matched up.  I think the time spent paid off although there are few places that aren't perfect.  I couldn't decide how to use the crazy border print so I cut two different center fronts and back yokes to help me decide.  The one I decided not to use on the outside, I used inside for the facings.


Likes/Dislikes:  I love the sleeves, obviously.  And I love the two fabrics together.  However, there are some fit quirks that I don't love (see below).  I also did not love how deep the split neck was.  I ended up tacking it up higher.  I had a fit issue with the width of the neck line as well.  Tacking the split closed higher made that issue much less noticeable.  My cording is just ok.  I couldn't find exactly what I wanted so I braided some thinner crochet yarn I had to make a thicker cord.  We'll see how that washes.  I ended up cutting the ties much shorter since I'm not tying the split neck closed anyway.  They are purely decorative.  The insides are just as pretty as the outside, although I didn't do all the slip stitching by hand.  Ain't nobody got time for that.  I just serged the edge of the facings and top stitched from the outside.



Alterations/Deviations:  I did not make a single alteration to this particular top.  Not a one.  I spent so much time cutting out the fabric that I didn't want to mess with any alterations from the beginning.  I figured the drape-y fabric and the relaxed fit would be forgiving.  And it is for the most part.  I definitely need to square up the shoulders.  There is this weird fit issue through the shoulders and front where the top part if much too wide.  The ends of the shoulders sort of pull off the ends of my shoulder, if that makes sense.  If I pick up the inner corners of the shoulders and pinch off the excess, that goes away.  The armhole is also very high.  If I make this again, I will definitely do a substantial square shoulder adjustment without raising the armhole to match.  I also will take out some width from the center front (and maybe even center back).  I bet my neck split wouldn't be too deep with those fit changes either.  So, once again, I have shoulder fit issues.  I am about ready to maybe try and draft my own block to see if I can solve my shoulder fit issues once and for all.


Conclusion:  I really love the finished top, shoulder fit issues and all.  I am interested in making this again, but it is a little lower on my list.  I'm actually kind of interested in the short sleeve version. 

Saturday, February 4, 2017

A Bunch of Knits



I didn't realize at the time that all the things I made in the last month and a half coordinate so well.  I can't say I planned that, though.  I guess I know what I like when it comes to choosing fabric!  I've made a bunch of easy knit things since Christmas.  I seem to go through phases in my sewing where I just want to beef up my wardrobe fast.  And that's what I did.  Easy, knit tops are almost like instant gratification when it comes to sewing projects.  Anyway, I decided just to put all these quick sews in one blog post and write a brief pattern review of each.  Hopefully it's not too massive of a blog post to read.

 First up is this funky tunic.  I used a Nicole Miller knit I bought from Joann's last winter.  I got a gift card for Christmas last year to Joann's so I ordered online instead of buying in store.  I had no idea the feather print on this fabric was so big when I ordered it.  It wasn't going to work for what I originally planned, so it sat in my stash.  I didn't really love the color scheme either when I saw it in real life.  There is a lot of green and yellow.  But now that I've made this top, I'm really liking it.  This is just another iteration of Simplicity 1071, which I have made too many times to count now.  It's a super easy, boxy top with a great neckline.  I highly, highly recommend the pattern if you are looking for a top like this.  On this version, I added a cowl (from another pattern I can't remember right now) and lengthened it about ten inches.  I also did extra deep side slits.  I've worn it over jeans like this and over leggings.  The back is slightly longer than the front.


Next are two StyleArc Sunny tops.  I love this pattern.  The top has a cocoon shape, wider through the middle, and nice slim sleeves.  I made the grey version first from a sweater knit I found at Joann's.  Wish I had more of this fabric.  It's nice snuggly stuff.  I went back for more but it was all gone.   


I've only sewn two StyleArc patterns so far, but I've liked them both.  The instructions are minimal but that's okay for a top like this.  I screwed up the neck band on the grey version.  I really should have pulled it tighter.  There was no way to unpick with the plush sweater knit, though.  So I left it as is.   It bothers me in these photos but doesn't bother me at all when I wear it. 


On the second printed version, I did a better job on the neck band.  I also cut the neckline about 3/8" deeper.  I like the way the neckline sits on the second version better.   Version number two is another Nicole Miller knit from Joann's.  Man, I've bought a lot of fabric from Joann's lately.  It's all I've got where I live. Both are great tops and I have worn them both constantly since I made them.  On both versions, I switched the print direction on the bottom half of the top- just because.


Next I made this long swingy vest thingy from a drape-y cardigan pattern, McCalls 6844.  I used a drab green bamboo knit from fabric.com.  I love those bamboo knits- so soft and such great drape.  I know this particular McCalls pattern has been a very popular.  I picked this pattern up at a recent pattern sale strictly with the intention of making a vest like this.  I wanted something long and swishy I could wear over long sleeve tops and dresses.  I had something specific in mind when I made this but I'm not sure I hit the mark just right.  I added about ten (?) inches or so to view A, split between two of lenthen/shorten lines on the pattern.  The pattern variations all include sleeves but I figured it would be an easy alteration to just bind the armholes and make it a vest.  


Well, it didn't exactly work out that way.  My armholes are much deeper than the original pattern.  I did a binding first and hated the way it drooped and stuck out.  Instead of unpicking, I just cut off the binding and sewed bands instead.  I figured a deep armhole wouldn't matter on a vest anyway.  All in all, it's just ok.  I like it but I haven't worn it out in public yet. I'm actually thinking I might wear this more when it's warmer over sleeveless things.  We'll see.  


And last but not least, a swingy trapeze dress.  I used New Look 6469.  The pattern has a raglan sleeve, a high neckline and tons of tent-y swish.  I wasn't sure I was going to like a dress like this but figured I'd try it on a whim.  I bought the pattern and the fabric at the same time (Joann's again, ha!).


  Why I chose a stripe, I have no idea.  I really tried to match up those stripes at the raglan seams.  If you notice, the stripe right at the bottom of the armhole matches (where the notch was), but that's it.  I should have matched a stripe higher up.  Both sides look similarly mismatched, so I left it.  And I didn't have any more fabric anyway.  I actually had to piece the neck band.  My side seams match beautifully, however.  I sewed a size S, which was crazy.  I was feeling adventurous with my weight loss.  It fits because it's so swing-y, but it's definitely tight through the shoulder.  The knit I used is pretty tough and beefy, though, so it works.  


There are darts at the top of shoulder.  I know those darts don't fit my shoulders but you can't tell because of the way the knit stretches.  Are those darts supposed to go to the end of your shoulders?  Just curious.  I cut the neckline just a tiny bit deeper so I didn't have to do a button and loop closure at the back of the neck- per the pattern.  That also eliminated the need for a center back seam so I cut the back on the fold.  I made the sleeves as long as I could with the fabric I had.


I'm very pleased with how this dress turned out.  I've worn it tons already.  I had no idea I'd like this silhouette so much.  I've already made another dress from this pattern.

Alright, you made it to the end!  That was quite a bit of stuff in one post.  I think I'm burning out on blogging a little bit.  I've been sewing a lot lately but I haven't been able to bring myself to blog like I used to.  I'm hoping it's just a phase.  I really enjoy sewing blogs and the community that goes along with it.  Plus I think it's so useful to see your work in pictures and write about it.  I feel like it makes me a better sewist.  Time to reflect and critique.  Anyway, I'm blathering.  Until next time!


Sunday, January 15, 2017

Two Shirt Dresses


Both of these shirt dresses were made a long time ago. Approximately six months or so ago in the summer.  These were the last two big projects I was working on before I got really sick with all my gall bladder nonsense in August.  I finished the multi-colored one back in July and hung it up in the closet.  It's never been worn.  The black and white shirt dress was finally finished a couple of weeks ago after sewing on and ripping off three different sets of sleeves/sleeve bindings.  I would have given up on it except I really loved the fabric.  And I did a pretty darn good job on that collar, if I do say so myself ;)  I also had already sewn a really nice, deep 3 inch hem.


The black and white shirt dress is McCalls 7314.  It is a pretty standard shirtwaist dress except it has a curved, raised waist seam.  The pattern calls for elastic in the back of the waist seam.  I did initially add the elastic but it made the dress look extremely maternity like.  In fact, this dress would be a really awesome maternity dress pattern.  I tried adding the elastic around the whole waist seam as well, but didn't like that either.  So I left the elastic off and was kind of digging the loose, Japanese sort of vibe I was getting.



I originally made this dress sleeveless.  But after finishing it, I couldn't get the idea of a long sleeved shirt dress to wear with tights and boots out of my head.  So I ripped out the sleeve bindings and added the long sleeves from the pattern.  I did not like them.  If I remember correctly, I then shortened the sleeves to be 3/4 length but didn't widen the cuff.  So I ended up with a really tight and uncomfortable shorter sleeve.  Then it sat on my dress form for a few months.  A few weeks ago, I ripped out the second set of sleeves and added the big, blouse-y sleeves from McCalls 7242. I had just worn my maxi shirt dress (which I am loving now, by the way) and thought the sleeves would be perfect.  I didn't do any measuring or anything to make sure it would work.  It was just a last ditch effort to try and save the dress.  So the armscye fit on this dress is pretty crappy.  Not only is the armscye all stretched out from ripping things out, but that sleeve head was not made to fit in to that armscye.  I made it work (hopefully?), but just barely.  Luckily the dress has so much ease that I didn't need a close fitting armscye anyway.  I also have lost a little under twenty pounds from when I originally made this dress.  It was already loose to begin with but is maybe even a little more so now. 



I don't love the end result, but I do like it.  I feel like it's a good teacher dress.  The fabric is fantastic.  It's a rayon poplin I bought from fabric.com.  It has the drape of rayon challis but has a tighter weave, so it seems more durable and is less see-through.  The crazy multi-colored fabric in my second shirt dress is also rayon poplin.  I bought several yards of some different prints at the same time.


The second shirt dress I made back in July is McCalls 7387.  I really liked this dress when I first made it but after putting it on for pictures now, I'm not so sure.  It's a funky pattern, which I like.  It is a very boxy shirt dress with a big pleat in the back and no waist shaping at all.  It has a covered button placket as well.  I spent an extremely long time cutting this out to match up stripes.  I also print mixed with some of the black and white spots from the other shirt dress on the placket and sleeve cuffs.  I'm pretty chuffed with my pattern placement.  The fit is off, though.


I did square the shoulder ahead of time.  And I'm not quite sure I did it right on a shoulder/sleeve like this.  I need to read up on it, I guess.  I still have some pulling from shoulder to the first button, which is what I'm trying to show in this awkward photo below.  Also, the covered button placket-- ugh.  I'm glad I did it because it was a good learning experience.  But it was a pain.  I've never done one before.  Not only that, but I couldn't make a button hole high enough on the placket because of where the covered part of the placket begins.  I had to scoot the first button hole down and it's too low.  I actually have it safety pinned in these photos and I'm planning to add a snap there.  I wouldn't do the covered button placket again.  I don't care enough about the look of it and my skills are lacking.


I like the overall shape of the dress and I love the unusual back pleat.  But, the back pleat is heavy and pulls on the back of the yoke.  The hem line is also dipped lower in the back, I'm guessing because of the pleat.  I don't mind it, but it's probably not how it's supposed to look.  I'm seriously thinking about chopping off four or five inches from the hem and turning this in to tunic to wear over leggings or skinny jeans.  I think it has too many fit issues for me to ever wear it comfortably as a dress. We'll see, though.  Maybe I'll let it sit in the magic closet for a little while.


Phew! Glad I blogged these two dresses.  Now onwards and upwards...

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

A Ninja Turtle And A Bum Gallbladder

Well hello there!  Long time no see, er... you know what I mean.  I'm alive.  For the most part.  I didn't mean to disappear for so long because I very much enjoy interacting in this space.  But life has been interesting lately.  I actually have been sick.  My gallbladder!  Having a bum gallbladder has been pretty life altering.  I got really sick at the end of July and then missed the entire first month of school while being sick and having all sorts of inconclusive tests done.  Don't you love it when doctors tell you there is nothing wrong with you when there very obviously is? Twenty-two pound weight loss later,  I made an appointment with a surgeon and had my gallbladder out.  I have been recovering ever since (doing much better now).  It was no fun.  I also have completely changed my diet.  I'm eating very carefully and avoiding all sorts of things at the moment.  Which means I have learned to cook.  And I am cooking all the time.  All the time.  It doesn't leave much time for sewing, this making-dinner-from-scratch thing.  I miss it.  Anyway, I'm figuring out how to balance it all.  I recently sat down at my sewing machine after a three month long hiatus and I made this:


Who is this girl?  This is Jane.  She's definitely not Baby Jane anymore.  She has somehow morphed in to this tall, long-legged little girl who love ninja turtles.  She is such a nut.  She wanted to be a ninja turtle for Halloween.  The orange ninja turtle, to be specific.  I could have bought a costume this year but I'm so glad I didn't.  This is my Halloween tradition.  I wish I could explain how I made this little vest/hoodie thing but I made it up as I went along.  I used fleece again.  I think I've used fleece for all of her Halloween costumes so far.  Its so easy to sew a costume with.  Hides mistakes well.  I used the same McCalls hoodie pattern that I used last year for her dinosaur costume.  I had already cut the pattern but had another pattern piece where I could see the size differences.  I cut the longest length (a size 5, I think) and added a little bit of width to the body (which previously was a size 2).  I didn't change the shoulders at all since her dinosaur hoodie still seems to fit her.  I could have used a bit more width in the body but I think that's because of the shell on the back.


The order of construction is what I made up as I went along.  The shell mainly.  I cut two oval-ish shapes for the shell, stitching hexagon-ish shapes on the top piece.  I sewed darts at each 'corner' of the top shell piece to give it more shape.  I sewed the bottom oval to the back hoodie piece first.  I stitched it on as a big oval in the middle.  Then, I sewed the front pieces of the hoodie to the back.  Then I sewed the top of the turtle shell to the bottom shell, pinning the hoodie inside. I left a hole and flipped the whole thing inside out through the hole.  I probably didn't explain that very well but like I said, I was making it up as I went along.  There was a belt in there somewhere, too.  I was pumped it all worked, especially since I was so rusty on the sewing machine.  There is some seriously shoddy sewing on this costume, so don't look too closely.  I lined the whole thing with some thin knit in my stash and added the drawstring to the hoodie.


The shell is stuffed with polyfill.  It  kind reminds me of a backpack.  I should have made it a backpack! Ah well.  Jane was insistent on having me make the orange mask, but then refused to wear it on Halloween.  She wore the hoodie and carried the pizza slice.  The pizza was a last minute idea/addition.  


She has some great girly ninja poses, doesn't she?  She is so funny.  I can't tell you how entertaining it is to have a three year old.  I'm pretty sure she loved her costume and we had a blast trick or treating the the other night.
  

Hope everyone is doing well!  Life seems to be returning to normal but I'm probably going to be absent from this space for a while longer.  At least until I get the hang of this cooking thing.  Ugh, meal planning...  

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Faux Jumpsuit


Jumpsuit!  Who would have thought I would make a jumpsuit?  Not me. I have to admit that I wasn't sold on the trend last summer.  But I've seen so many awesome jumpsuits out there in sewing blog land now that I've been convinced.  However, the bathroom issue was a big hurdle for me.  I think I would be ok with the whole having to undress to use the restroom every once in a while.  But that would definitely stop me from wearing it on a regular basis.  I wanted something wearable for the summer.  Enter the faux jumpsuit!  This jumpsuit is actually two pieces- a top and wide leg pants. 



I've had Simplicity 1112 in my stash for a while.  I liked the wide leg pants as part of a jumpsuit.  They are basically like big pajama pants.  And I like the tie belt.  I think the belt makes it look more jumpsuit like.  I made the pants first.  I planned on making the top from the pattern as well but when I looked at it again, I changed my mind.  Strapless bra.  Nothing will stop me from wearing something faster than having to put on a strapless bra.  I wanted a simple v-neck tank I could tuck in with some bra coverage.  I searched through all my billions of patterns and came up with nada.  I wasn't interested in purchasing anything new so I traced a favorite rtw top for a pattern.  I was really uncertain if it would work but it was simple enough for me to try.  There is a front seam and the neckline and armholes are finished with a knit facing.  Nothing special but I was very pleased with how it works as a jumpsuit.  The original top I traced was a woven top so there are some issues because of that.  


Here is a quick pattern review of the pants.
Pattern Description: Sportswear pattern that includes pull on pants, shorts, high-low skirt all with elastic waist.  Also includes a strappy top.

Pattern Sizing: Sizes 4-20.  I made the pants in a size 16.

Fabric Used:  I think the success of this faux jumpsuit really lies in the fabric.  I used a really fabulous rayon jersey.  I love the blue and black print and the weight was just perfect.  It has great drape but it's not too thin.  Nice stuff.  It was an impulse buy from fabric.com.  I did my best to keep the pattern placement balanced.  Not necessarily matched but just balanced.  I think I did a pretty good job on the pants but I screwed it up on the front seam of my top.  It's not that noticeable, though.

Likes/Dislikes:  The pants are fine.  They are your basic wide leg pants with an elastic waist.  Wide leg pants are pretty forgiving to sew.  They are nice and long, too.  I did add some length when I cut them them out but I didn't need to.  I took it back off when I hemmed them.  But beware of the rise!  See below.

Alterations/Deviations:   I held up the pattern tissue to check the length before I cut out my fabric and  noticed the crazy high rise.  I took a two inch tuck from the rise to shorten them.  And I am long waisted!  I am sure the rise is long because they are wide legs pants and the crotch seam is supposed to sit lower.  But I didn't need all that length.  I do think I could use just a touch more room in the seat, but that may have something to do with shortening the rise. 

Conclusion:  Easy little pants pattern.  I made a shorts version for my faux romper (below) and I've made another shorts version for lounging around that I'm not blogging about.

I'm very happy with the faux jumpsuit. And the best part is that I can also wear the top and pants separately.


After the success of my faux jumpsuit, I decided to make a faux romper (shorts) for our upcoming beach trip.  I made the same Simplicity 1112 pants pattern and v-neck top rub off.  But blergh.  I did not like the look of the v-neck top tucked in to the shorts.  I think it would look better if the shorts were shorter but I'm not going any shorter than this.  This is the shorts hem line per the pattern minus about one inch.  I know it's longer for shorts but it's a length I'm comfortable with.  I do like the look of the two pieces untucked.  It's perfect for going to the beach and the pool.  And honestly, it's great for presentable pajamas, too.  


After I made the faux romper, I had enough fabric left for another top.  So I decided to try the Hey June Patterns Santa Fe top that I've seen so many awesome versions of.  This is just the first of many, I am sure.  I must really like it because I actually bought and put together a pdf pattern.  I hate pdf's with a passion, but I will put one together if it's something I really want to make.


Pattern Description:  The Santa Fe top is a loose, flowy tank or dolman sleeve top.  There are some interesting seam lines on some of the variations that resemble raglan sleeves.  I was drawn to the relaxed shape of the dolman sleeve top and the sleeve cuffs.  There are lots of options with the pattern that makes it worth the price (this comes from someone who pretty much just buys Big 4 patterns on sale).

Pattern Sizing:  XS-2XL.  Lot of sizes, too.  I made a medium.

Fabric Used:  This fabric is pretty fabulous, too.  It's a shibori dyed bamboo jersey.  It's so soft and drape-y.  Perfect for lounge wear.

Likes/Dislikes:  No dislikes on this version.  I made the pattern as is except for the neckband.

Alterations/Deviations:  I did a neckband instead of binding per the instructions.  Mainly because I am terrible at top stitching my binding.  Making a band is much faster and I don't have to stress over wobbly top stitching.

Conclusion:  Nice little tee pattern.  I've already made another dolman tee (with the insets) that I love. I've also made the tank but am not loving the silhouette as much as the tee with sleeves.  I plan on making another, though!




Sunday, June 12, 2016

Rompin' Around



I'm going to apologize in advance for the picture overload.  This might be the cutest thing I've ever made.  Except, of course, for the cute thing I made that's wearing it!  There was a little bit of bribery involved in taking these photos, but for the most part she cooperated.  She's got personality, this girl, that's for sure.



Pattern Description: McCalls 7376.  Girls' blouson romper and jumpsuit pattern.  There are strap and length variations and some cutesy little trim details.  I made view C with the single ruffle and elasticized, below-the-knee legs.  Is this not the sweetest little pattern?  I was buying other McCalls patterns at the latest pattern sale and saw this one from their early summer release.  It moved to the top of the queue and I made it right away.  It's just so adorable.


Pattern Sizing: Children's sizes 2-8.  I made a size 4.  Jane is three years old but she wears a 4T in rtw.  She's tall for her age, too.


Fabric Used: Rayon poplin. When I made my recent maxi dress, I also bought a yard and half of this same Cotton and Steel rayon poplin in this color way.  When I ordered it, I though the navy would be the same and I could use this one with the teal diamonds for contrast.  The navy is not the same, however.  This particular blue is much more of a denim blue.  I also figured I would have some of the original rayon left over and I could always make another garment with the two.  Well, I used every scrap to make that maxi dress and then stuck this small piece in stash.  It was perfect for this romper.  So Jane's romper is made of some pretty swanky fabric.


I do wish the camera had focused on her instead of the background.  I was lazy and took all these on an automatic setting. But this photo.  I love it.

Alterations/Deviations:  While being a super cute pattern, it was very fiddly to sew.  There was lots of trying on to measure elastic and placing straps.  The elastic guide for the casing at the chest was way, way too long.  I pulled that piece of elastic pretty tight to hold up the romper.  The waist casing didn't have an elastic guide.  I left that piece of elastic pretty loose for comfort.  The elastic in the leg casings are loose, too, which is why you see them riding up above her knee in photos.  It's cute either way.  I also had to give her some more room in the crotch after the fact.  It fit when I was done, but when she moved around it definitely rode up and looked a little uncomfortable. I unpicked the waist seam and sewed the crotch seam about 3/8" lower.  And I then I sewed the waist seam back on with a smaller seam allowance (using a smaller width of elastic) to give even more room- probably another 3/8" inch.  So I gave her more room in the crotch by lowering everything almost 3/4" inch.  Just something to pay attention to if you are sewing this pattern.  But she is tall.


Likes/Dislikes:  I mean, again- how stinkin' cute is finished product.  I can't help but love it.  But I do have to complain a little about the instructions.  They were confusing.  All the instructions for the different views are written together.  I had to use a highlighter to mark which parts were for my view.  I did follow the instructions closely since I wasn't sure about the order of construction.  And it all worked out. Except in the end, there was never a proper explanation of how to attach the front straps for view C.  The instructions and illustrations didn't take in to account the ruffle.  I worked it out but I can see that this would be frustrating for someone who was new to sewing, since this is a "Learn to Sew" pattern.  I flipped the ruffle up and sewed along the top of casing to attach the front of the straps  in case you are wondering.  I also need to tighten up that one strap a little.  It keeps slipping off her shoulder.  If I made this again, I'd just use the straps that tie.  They would be much easier to sew in and would also be adjustable after the fact.

This is when I told her to "strike a pose."  Lol.

Conclusion: I love the end result.  Jane loves it, too.  She wore it straight off the sewing machine.  She says it's comfy.  I know we'll get lots of use from it this summer.