Saturday, December 31, 2016

Sew 60's! The flower power shift.

 Recently, I bought some fabric from EmSewCrazy that made me squeal the moment that I saw it. I had the perfect pattern for this bold, busy print and I have just enough crazy in me to feel like I could rock the retro look.
 I am in love with patterns from the 60's and 70's. I may have mentioned it before, but it seems like the dress patterns from those eras were made for women with my figure. I rarely have to do any adjustments besides length, which makes the construction of these garments a lot more fun for me.
 It took me awhile to carve out some time to sew now that I am working regular hours, but once I got to it, this dress came together quickly. The process was sped up considerably by using bias tape for the neck and armhole facings. The pattern included a template for a belt, but we all know how I feel about those.

The only real changes that I made to the basic style were altering the pocket shapes and taking several inches off the hem. This garment will be a winter layering piece, so I wanted to keep it simple.
 I couldn't help but add an over-sized button to the hook and loop closure, though. It was too perfect an opportunity to pass up.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Wrapper's Delight

 As summer winds down, I finally have some time to get back in to the sewing room!

This fall, there are quite a few garment projects on my list, and I started with this McCall's wrap top pattern.
 The suggested fabrics do not include knit jersey, but I am nothing if not a rule-breaker. In addition to changing the fabric for this pattern, I also decided that I didn't want the ties. This is meant as an everyday wear top, and ain't nobody got time for ties when I'm getting my dailies done.

As I hacked this pattern, I surprised myself by having the presence of mind to size down in order to accommodate the use of a stretch fabric. That sort of advance troubleshooting doesn't happen too often around here, so allow me to pat myself on the back for that one.  *pats self on back*
 Of course, I just wouldn't be me if I didn't screw up the construction somehow on a new pattern attempt, and, as you can see above, the top of the front panels didn't quite hit their marks. Pretty sure that the fabric isn't supposed to cut right across my chest like that. Whoops.
 But, can we take a moment to glory in the fit on this? Yeah, yeah, wrinkles and poor photography...ignore those. Look, instead, at how my curves are represented! This is no potato sack, friends. I'm pretty happy about it.
 The flash made this print a little seizure-inducing, and it was too cloudy outside for photos.
Thus, I made a second one with the proper panel placement, and I changed to a bell sleeve instead of the ones with elastic in the wrist. How seriously sweet is this top?? I also lengthened the pattern by a few inches, but the hem got a little jacked up, so I'm going to have to redo that when I get some woolly nylon thread. That's small potatoes, though. I'm loving the comfort and trendiness of this style.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Fuschia is the New Red.

 A few things that I learned during this garment construction:
- Dyeing fabric outside is the pits
- I have been measuring myself incorrectly
- I still measure myself incorrectly
 I purchased this heavy-ish weight cotton fabric as part of a bag full of remnants at a thrift store some time ago, and it has been sitting on my shelf being ugly since then.  It wasn't until my mother-in-law came to visit that the idea to dye it occurred to me. I mean, the pattern isn't too terrible, but those colors are just so....dated.
 So, I ran off to the store hoping to buy a red dye, but they were out of red. Oh well. Fuschia it is! After that, I decided to cut my pattern pieces before hand, and process the fabric in a bucket outside. Ummm... dumb. Lugging hot water to my backyard and sitting in the sun while stirring for 10-30 minutes was the opposite of fun. But, I persevered! Well, for 15 minutes. It's fuschia enough.

After the dyeing debacle, I looked forward to the ease of constructing a skirt. This is a pattern that I have used several times, but recently discovered that I was cutting a larger size than I needed. So, I scaled down to a small, fitted it with pins before stitching the sides, and sewed it together confidently. STILL TOO BIG!! I then took out the zipper, brought the side seam in another inch, and reattached the zipper.  STILL TOO BIG!!

What the actual heck?
Now it lays weird because it sits low on my hips. Don't care. You also can't see the pleating details because I have to wear a long shirt with it. Don't care. And, my pictures are wonky because I wore this to work all day and had my son snap some shots when I got home. Don't care.

This is a functional piece that was made from a throw-away remnant that could have sat in my stash for eternity. That's a win for me.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Back in the Saddle..

 As spring break is now upon us, I will be escaping my winter den and hitting the road toward warmer climates. This means many, many hours spent in the car over the course of the next week.

Being an old hand at these road-tripping adventures means that I was looking for a solution to the lower lumbar ache that starts to pain me about 6 hours into driving. As per usual, I waited until a few days before scheduled departure to finally tackle this item on my "To Do" list. ;)
 Fortunately, I didn't have to search for a pattern since I remembered a post that Sue at Fadanista put up a month or so ago. She had made some triangular neck pillows for her family to use while camping, and I thought they looked perfect for my back needs.
 The original pattern is offered for free at the Sew4Home website, and it only requires 4 pieces. This is a great scrap-busting project, and the fabric type is very flexible. I used quilting cotton on mine because I have LOADS of it.
 These things are SOOOO fast and easy. I actually made 5 of them in an afternoon (most of the time was spent choosing fabrics), and I have already given 2 of them away to other back-problem-sufferers.
After the first pillow, I chose to omit the ribbon handles. I couldn't really figure out their purpose, and the gals in one of my Facebook groups assured my that they weren't necessary. I also played with the amount of stuffing and found that the plump, over-stuffed amount of fill is perfect for my back. My favorite projects are the ones that are easy to customize and only take a few hours.

Time to hit the road!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Bohemian Rhapsody

 Last week, while I was wasting my life away on Pinterest, this super-sweet video tutorial done by Rin from Sew In Love popped up in my feed. As soon as I saw the "Boho Kimono" title, I was hooked. I own exactly ZERO peasant-style tops, and the pattern looked too easy for me to pass up. I mean, I only had to cut out 4 rectangles and 2 trapezoids!

Rin's version is a dress, but I really just wanted a sheer top for layering in the summer. According to the video, any "drapey" fabric will do for this, so I pulled from my stash and got to work.
I am convinced that sheer fabric is manufactured using THE SCREAMS OF FRIGHTENED CHILDREN, because this stuff is NIGHTMARE FUEL! As soon as I had cut the first 2 rectangles, I knew that I was in trouble. I used a straight edge and a rotary cutter, yet my rectangles looked more like drunktangles. What was happening???

Sheer fabric may be "drapey," but I quickly learned that it does not have the stability, or the stretch, for this project. I powered through it, but I have to admit that it almost got wadded at least a dozen times. The final result is not at all what I had hoped for in fit, and instead of taking it apart, I grabbed some ITY knit and tried again.
 I also made a few changes to the original tutorial instructions. I appreciate that Rin was laying it out so that beginners could put this together, but there were a few things that made me cringe as an intermediate.
#1 - I got rid of the casing for the elastic, and just sewed it directly to the underbust seam.
#2 - The seam allowances were all constructed at 3/8"
#3 - I hemmed the sleeves and neck opening LAST so that the edges looked more finished.
 The original pattern also calls for a waist tie that I excluded from both garments. I just didn't see the point of it when there is already elastic in there.

The ITY performed like a champ on this project, and it would have been a total home run except for that fact that I ignored my machine manual and used crap thread in my twin needle during hemming. So, I have some awkward stitchery happening that I am too lazy to pull out. Regardless of that, this is a very comfortable and wearable knit top. I wish that the sheer had worked out better, but I learned a valuable lesson about working with that fabric, so it was not a complete loss.  

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

What Dreams Are Made Of....

I recently came across a photo in a catalog of THE COOLEST TOP EVER, and I knew I needed it immediately. But, when I went to the website and saw the price for this SHIRT OF MY FANTASIES, I balked a little. $64!? Come on, now. I mean, it's cute, but it's not THAT cute.

 Yes it is that cute.  Thankfully, I found a pattern in my bottomless pit of patterns that I thought would work for a "similar" design. I mean, I'm not really copying the style...just, you know, using it as inspiration.
 I was fortunate to unearth some kinda, sorta coordinating fabric in my knit stash and I whipped out this beauty in a fairly short amount of time.
 The only obstacles that I ran into were with the pattern measurements. The sleeve was about 8" too long even before I added the cuff length, so that got sized down right quick. And, the pattern piece for the collar ribbing was made for doll heads. Like, Barbie doll heads. I actually had to make sure that I didn't accidentally cut out the cuff pattern. Nope, sure didn't. I decided to wing it on the neckline. :)
 Also, I may have accidentally cut the one sleeve backwards...which definitely matters in a raglan top. Whoops. Cut a new one, and now I have an orphan sleeve hanging out in my fabric stash. :(
Ultimately, I LOVE LOVE LOVE this top. It is lightweight and perfect for spring hiking or bike riding. And, it cost me $0!! Is it as cute as the "inspiration piece"? No, but I have the muslin made for future tops using more exciting fabric. So, ha!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Susie Homemaker

Aprons, man.
Living in a major city near dozens of thrift stores for most of my life, I had no appreciation for the utility of a kitchen apron. Why put on another article of clothing before I cook, when I could just replace my tomato-sauce-stained t-shirts at the local thrift for less than $1? It didn't make sense. But, now that I live out in the boonies where thrift stores are scarce and clothes are expensive, I get it. So, when I finally stumbled upon this "tutorial" for a "Flirty Apron," I dove into it with gusto!

 The red apron was my first experience following the measurements and instructions provided to me. The belt straps were insanely long, the pocket doesn't really make sense on the front (and it is way too big to be practical), and that bottom ruffle is just not my style.

So, I made the sunflower apron with my own adjustments - rick rack instead of ruffle, side pocket (with a quickie applique), and shorter straps at the waist. I accidentally made the neck strap a little long on this one, but it's not a huge issue.
 One of the things that I most appreciate about this particular design is that it is so basic and infinitely embellishable (is that a word? It is now.). Also, this project is a great way to use up my ever-accumulating scraps!
Now I just have to find a place to keep them in my crowded kitchen. :P

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Soopah Star!

 I have been looking for a good "palazzo"-style pants pattern for awhile now.  Most of the styles that I have come across are elastic waist versions, and I am NOT into elastic waist. I know that a lot of people enjoy the comfort and versatility of elastic in their pants, but I hate it. It's so bulky and scrunchy and gross. So, when I came across this Simplicity pattern I was geeked about the fitted waist, wide-leg pant style.
 I had a lovely lightweight cotton blend fabric that would be perfect for this project, but I have serious fitting issues when I sew. It seemed like making a muslin would be the smart thing to do, and I had this TRULY HEINOUS polyester-type, red, granny fabric that entered my home mysteriously. I honestly do not remember where on Earth I would have gotten it from.
 Anyway, once I had sewn up the muslin, the fit was so AMAZING that I couldn't justify tossing this garment away. I mean, yeah the fabric is not my favorite, but it's not like people don't wear polyester pants (they still do, right?). The red was slightly off-putting, but I figured I could jazz it up a little to suit my tastes.
 And, so I did. I thought of dip-dying the hems, but...polyester. Instead, I grabbed my fabric markers and made a star stencil, and away we went....
Obviously, this fabric doesn't drape that well, but I'm cool with it. I also made a black pair for work from that lovely cotton, but after embellishing the muslin my intended pair seem so BORING! The red "practice" pair are my fave right now. The crotch could come up a smidge on this pattern, but they are still incredibly comfortable and SO FUN to wear!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

The Top That Shall Not Be Named..

 I had grand plans and high hopes for this super cute summer top pattern that I picked up at Goodwill several months ago.  This style caught my eye because I love the idea of the fitted bodice with flowing skirt portion. Plus, since the bust area is separately constructed from the bottom section I figured that I could scale the fit better to my 30" rib cage and 36" bust.
I found the perfect lightweight synthetic fabric in my stash, and I actually spent some time fussy-cutting to get the painted design showcased in key areas.  But, once I got the bodice put together, I tried it on and realized that it was WAAAAAAY too low cut. I mean, this goes beyond tasteful cleavage and into the might-as-well-be-wearing-pasties realm.
 The rest of the pieces had already been cut out, and I was conflicted about whether or not to bother finishing this. I knew that there was no way in hell I would ever wear this top, but I hated that I was wasting all that time and effort that I spent cutting and planning.  So, I finished it....sorta.
 As you can see, I didn't install the zipper. But, I did spend SO MUCH TIME doing stupid rolled hems along all 4 stupid sides of all 4 stupid panels on stupid, gauzy, synthetic fabric.  And, when I tried it on again (because I'm terrific at convincing myself that things aren't THAT bad), it turns out that the lack of boob coverage wasn't even the worst of this style on me. Those gathered panels gave me a ridiculous potato shape. Ugh!
I'm not even sure what to do with this thing now. I'm not wasting a zipper on it, but I hate to toss it. I'll probably just throw it in my scrap pile and salvage the fabric down the road for something else.

As for the pattern - I could probably fix the pattern to have better coverage, but I really have no business wearing this style. Any tops that don't cut in at the waist just make me look frumpy. I knew that before going in to this, but we've discussed my poor decision-making and delusional optimism previously. I'm sure this wont be the last time that I make something so terribly inadequate for my shape.