Monday, May 30, 2011

Blog buddies are the bestest!

You guys are awesome!! I've been out of town this weekend (I wrote the bellbottoms post before I left and set it to post later.), and it was so fun to get home to all of your comments and emails about binding and coverstitching and bell bottoms and fun sewing things in general. Since I didn't get to sew this weekend, it was so great to still feel connected.
want the card? - click here
I got a ton of comments and emails with questions about the coverstitch binder. I wanted those who have emailed me to know that I will email you back personally very soon, but I only really checked in on my iPhone all weekend and it is a PITA to type out an email on that wee little keyboard. Now that I'm home and in front of a real computer, I will get back to you.
But right now, I'm off to catch up on my blog reading! What fun things have y'all been up to this weekend?

Groovy Bellbottoms: BWOF 11/2009-125

Since I was born in the late 70s, I basically missed the whole bellbottoms/disco phenomenon this first time around (although I will admit to wearing some seriously awesome bellbottoms in college). Thanks to Joy and her Groovy Bellbottoms Challenge, I get to channel my inner dancin' queen and make some bellbottoms!
I've loved this pattern since I got this issue of Burda, but I wasn't sure a 30 something mother of 3 really needed a pair of crazy wide flares in her wardrobe. But then kbenco made them for her daughters, and I decided I didn't care how age inappropriate they were, I wanted some!
I think I'm in love. Oh, the wide flares, the cute round pockets and fat rounded belt loops; I adore them!
The pattern is from the last Burda World of Fashion (before the name changed to burdastyle), November 2009. It's one of the Take one, Make four patterns, so there are four different versions of these pants. You can omit the godets to make a basic pair of pants, which makes this a surprisingly versatile pattern. It has a nice mid rise and a contour waistband which makes for a good fit. 
I did use my new pants sloper as well as my last pair of burda pants to alter the crotch curve, then I actually made a muslin - I know, but I really wanted these to be awesome. Based on the muslin, I added some length to the back crotch curve and about 1/4 inch to each side seam at the hip, for a total of an inch all around. I had the same experience kbenco did, in that my muslin was snug, but the final pants are actually a little roomy. They're shapely though, so I'm still pretty happy with them.
I also shortened them 1 1/2 inches at the knee, above where the godet inserts. I didn't want to lose any of the flare. I don't generally have to shorten pants, but these were drafted quite long. As this is only my second pair of Burda pants, I can't generalize, but I've had to shorten both, so I wonder if that is typical for burda drafting.
For my facings and linings, I used a lightweight twill with a fun floral print. I often have used quilting cotton for this, as it is less bulky than the denim, but even with mid weight interfacing, I don't find it supports the waistband to my liking. Although this twill is lighter and less bulky than the denim, I like the structure it gives a bit better.
For the topstitching, I took another page from kbenco's book and instead of topstitching to the side of the seam, I topstitched to either side so that I could then topstitch the godet symmetrically. I definitely prefer my topstitching to be symmetrical. I will say, these were not the easiest pants to topstitch. Since all four vertical seams are topstitched, as well as the godets, whichever seam you sew last has to then be topstitched with the leg as a tube. Not easy, but I think it was worth it for the look. Since I knew it would be a bit dodgy, I saved the inseams for last, since they aren't very visible. I'm not going to show them to you, but they are fine for the casual observer.
Mitch insisted on this disco dancing shot. I think I need a new top though. I like this tee shirt (It's from the 02/2010 burdastyle) but I think I need something I bit more funky. Maybe a peasant top? What would you wear with your bellbottoms?

Friday, May 27, 2011

A Binding Proposition

I'm sure you've noticed that I've been going to town with my coverstitch machine, which is a Brother 2340 CV. I initially purchased it because of my frustration with the twin needle for hemming knits.
I also picked up a binder attachment, but I wasn't sure I'd use it a ton. Holy moly, was I wrong!! I LOVE this thing, and I want a couple more in every size! After only using it for a week or so, I am in no way an expert, but I thought I'd show you all a few things I've discovered.  Of course, the most important thing I've found is Debbie and Belinda's amazing tutorials! If you want to bind with your coverstitch machine, that is the place to start.
So, this is how it looks all set up. This is a generic binder and so it doesn't line up with the attachment point on the face of the machine at all. It is held in place with Sticky Tack, which works great. it doesn't have to interact with your machine, so as long as you have space in front of your presser foot, this binder should work for you.
Here is a view from the top. I don't have the shorter presser foot on, so the binder is pretty far forward. It is easier to position if you do not have a long toe on your presser foot.
Getting the binding strip in place was tricky the first couple of times. Here is the process, once you have the strip fed through the binder. (Debbie's blog has some great tips for getting that fabric strip in there.)
Once the fabric is feed, the binder will fold it. Mine is an A type binder, so it folds under the right side and wraps the raw edge around the wrong side.
The next step is a wee bit tricky. You have to fold the binding strip into the two little toes at the front. You'll have to fold it in half and insert it,
so that it looks like this. Stitch a little along the empty binding to position it just the way you want it. Just move the binder to the left or right to position it in relation to the needles.
Next you'll feed in your fabric. just slide it in between the toes of the binder and let the movement of the binding strip pull it in. I found that if I didn't put any tension on the fabric to be bound, I ended up with some gathering, just like if you sewed over stretched elastic.
See how gathered that little sleeve is? Cute, but totally unintentional. I'm glad I made a girlie item first! With a little experimentation, I discovered how much I needed to pull on the fabric as I fed it to keep it from gathering, so my boy shirt lies nice and flat.
I'm honestly not sure if there was a better way to do this. I'm hoping you'll all share your coverstitch tips and tricks, too!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Kwik Sew 3299

I cheated on my bellbottoms, but only long enough to stitch up a long promised running shirt for my sweetie.
I've had this "Dryflex" wicking polyester knit for quite a while, and poor Mitch has waited very patiently for his shirt.
I mean, what was my deal. It takes very little time to whip up a tee shirt, which is all this is. I used Kwik Sew 3299, which I have made for him before. It's a great basic tee pattern, although I will say that it isn't as broad in the shoulders as Mitch is. Last time I made it, he was a medium, but he has subsequently lost a significant amount of weight. Since this is a running shirt, we wanted a close fit, so I made a small. It fits well through the body, but is quite snug in the shoulders as you can see from the rear view.
I'm wondering if the Jalie men's tee pattern has a more athletic fit. I may get it to try out for next time. I have several other lengths of technical knit fabric.
I did get fancy and flatlock all the seams and coverstitch the hems with the looper on the public side. This is similar to the way his RTW running shirts are constructed, although not exactly the same.
Here is the reverse. You can see that the flatlock makes a "ladder" of stitches on the reverse side. I used the three needle coverstitch because I think it has the coolest looper side. This is the part that is so different from his RTW shirts. On those, both sides look like "looper" sides. I suspect there is a special industrial machine that does that. Anyone know?
Although I did spend an hour or so on this shirt, it was but a brief fling from my bellbottoms.
Here is the right front pants with the godet in and topstitched. The pockets aren't stitched down yet, but how cute are they?!? I'm loving the curved belt loop as well. These are so fun! Thanks to everyone for your input about the topstitching thread. I went with the rust, which was the unanimous favorite. I really like how it looks with this denim.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Ottobre 03/2011-12 - Happy Animals

After making Myra's tunic/dress I decided I wanted to play with my binder a bit more, so I made a couple more lap tees.
One for Myra, refashioned from a shirt of mine, and one for Duncan made of some snuggly interlock from Joann.
And hey, I managed to get the lap going the right way this time! I really like this pattern. It whips up quickly, but looks so cute.
I've noticed that several of Duncan's RTW tees and onesies have chain stitched binding, so I decided to give it try. I like the way it looks, and it feels sturdy. We'll see how it washes and wears. It was a little trickier to get the binder lined up just right. Since it doesn't have the covering threads in the back, you have to make sure that you are catching the back edge of the binding. The binding strips have to be cut pretty precisely. It took me a couple of attempts, and I had to recut binding, but I like the finished effect.
The tee looked slim, and I was worried it would be too small for my round little guy, but it is perfect! Should you be worndering, I sewed a 62. Duncan is 5 months old, 61 cm tall and weighs 15 pounds.
For Myra, I refashioned an old tee of mine and added some red binding to coordinate with the shoes in the screenprint. It's actually a better color match IRL.
I'm a little bit embarrassed that there were only shreds left after cutting up my tee shirt. Did I really wear something as an adult that provided barely enough fabric for a 2 year old? Don't answer that, Mom.
I think my Happy Animals like their new shirts.

In other news, I am currently at work on my Groovy Bellbottoms from BWOF 11/2009-125. I think I've got the fit down - we'll see - and they're all cut out, but I can't decide how I want to topstitch them.
On the right is traditional "Levi gold" jeans topstitching thread. It's the obvious choice, but it is very bright and these bellbottoms already have a lot going on. On the left is a darker rust color thread that is also finer and a little more understated. So, what do you think? Traditional gold for a classic look or slightly more classy and perhaps more wearable rust?

Friday, May 20, 2011

BWOF 07/2009-104

This poor dress has been cut out and half sewn for almost a year! I don't generally create UFOs, but I was pregnant with Duncan when I started this one, and I just couldn't make myself work on something I couldn't wear.
The pattern is BWOF 07/2009-104, which is a basic A-line shirt dress, shaped at the waist with elastic shirring. It features a collar with stand, and the pattern calls for flat felled shoulder seams so that the sleeves can be rolled up artfully. I decided that was too much work (both the seams and keeping them rolled up) so I shortened the sleeve to elbow length and elasticated the hem.
I also underlined the dress portion, since my fabric (an embroidered cotton/lycra shirting from FFC) was semi-sheer.
Burda called for shirring the waist panels by zigzagging over elastic cord, then pulling the cords to a designated measurement. I'm not terribly confident of my ability to zigzag over cord without catching it in the stitching, so I thought about shirring with elastic thread in the bobbin, but you don't have much control over the finished size that way, so I elected to use clear elastic, cut to the finished length per the pattern.
Here is the inside of the back waist panel, with the elastic in place. I like the way it worked. The elastic feels sturdy but still soft and comfortable, and the fit is excellent.
You can see how nicely the elastic shapes the waist. There is just a tiny bit of negative ease - hence the three tightly spaced buttons at the waistline. I also like the way the underlining serves to give the skirt body. I was going for a casual, comfortable dress and didn't want to wear a slip or petticoat with it.
From the back, the bodice blouses over the waistline and the skirt echoes the A line shape. It's surprisingly shapely for a completely shapeless dress. It's amazing what a bit of elastic can do.
What do you think? I'm pretty happy, although maybe I should put on my pearls and clean the house.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Vogue 1250

Hear that sound? Yep, that was me, jumping on the Vogue 1250 bandwagon! This pattern has graced the curves of bloggers and PR members of every shape and size, and looks fabulous every single time. When I showed Mitch Adrienne's version, he sent me to the fabric store immediately.
Here is my  version. The camera just couldn't get the color right for some reason. It is actually a true purple, not blue at all. The fabric is a matte jersey from Hancock, which has a nice drape and skims the body beautifully. Of course, there is also some Spanx under there. I just had a baby, after all! And should you be wondering, this dress is nursing friendly. Between the stretch of the knit and the depth of the cowl, access is no problem.
The pattern is Vogue 1250, a DKNY design from the Spring pattern release. It only has 3 pieces, the front, which wraps to the back to form the skirt, the upper back and s back facing strip. The cowl is self faced. I was a little worried that the facing was going to be skimpy and flip out, but it stays put quite well. This is in part because it is sewn into the shoulder seam, giving a nice finish inside.
From the side, you may be able to see that the skirt is constructed all in one piece, with a dart over the hip. I'm not sure that I am loving that actually. It's not trivial sewing it so that dart stays flat. It would probably be easier to construct if the skirt had side seams. Perhaps not as interesting, though.
From the back, there is a waistline seam and a center back seam on the skirt. This is the only seam in the skirt portion. The back neckline is finished with a facing, which is just a strip of fabric folded in half and folded to the inside of the dress, then topstitched down. I know that several other sewists skipped the facing strip and simply hemmed the back neck, but my knit is a rather stable matte jersey, and it just didn't want to play nice with that treatment. The facing looks very nice and lies smoothly, but it is a bit more bulky than a hem would be.
I played a little fast and loose with the size on this pattern. Since there is only the one main pattern piece, there aren't a ton of opportunities to customize the fit. I used mostly a size 10, but graded out to the 14 at the shoulder seam, both the lengthen the sleeve a little and to allow for more shoulder and bust room. I also cut the center back seam of the skirt at a size 12 for a little more ease back there. I lengthened it 2 inches. I'm very pleased with the dress, and am planning to make it again in black, and perhaps in an interesting print. It is a very comfortable style and an easy sew. Carolyn wears hers with a colorful cardigan, which is so cute and perfect for the changing seasons. I can also see it layered with tights and a turtleneck in winter. Erica B made a self fabric belt for hers and Sigrid is styling hers with a wide purchased belt. How will you wear your Vogue 1250?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Ottobre 03/2011-12 sort of

A few days ago, Myra pulled some fabric out of my stash and insisted I make her a dress. I love that my children see clothes when presented with fabric. It makes me happy.
I did mean for it to be a dress. You know when they say measure twice and cut once. Well, I may have only measured once...
The pattern is from the 03/2011 issue of Ottobre. I used the "Happy Animals" lap tee (#12) and shortened it to her waist, then added a gathered skirt. Which I should have made longer. So it could have been a dress. Oh well, it's a darn cute tunic.  Can you see the other stupid thing I did?
Here is the back. Can you see it now? I bet Sascha knows... So, aside from my stupidity (if you couldn't figure it out, I sewed the lap backwards - it's supposed to lap over in the front), Myra really loves her new tunic, and I really enjoyed sewing it. See all that binding?? My coverstitch machine did it all in about 20 minutes, counting setup and me figuring it out. Seriously amazing and awesome!!! I'm still figuring out the ins and outs of the binder, since it came without any instructions. Thanks goodness for Debbie and Belinda's amazing tutorials!! I'll post a little of what I learned in a couple of days, once I've gotten some good pictures and figured a couple more things out.
'Til then, we'll be avoiding the paparazzi.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Burda 7625

This Burda pattern has been teasing me from my pattern drawers since it came home with me. I just love the fun style lines.
The dolman sleeve is very popular right now, but tops with this sleeve tend to lack waist definition, which is so not a good look for me. This one has the sleeve stop at the empire line and is fitted through the waist. Much more flattering to this busty gal.
The pattern is Burda 7625. It was a pretty easy pattern to sew, despite the interesting details. I also love that Burda actually writes patterns for knits in a way that makes sense. The Big 4 seems to think that knits and wovens can be sewn the same way. Crazy talk. This pattern included instructions for stabilizing the shoulders with fusible tape and the back empire line with elastic. Very nice. The instructions made good sense and the diagrams were helpful. Overall an excellent pattern. The only thing I thought was odd was the front tab attachment. The instructions have you machine stitch one side, then hand sew the other side. I don't know about you, but my hand sewing looks very little like my machine sewing. I sewed on both sides by machine. It required some careful fabric positioning, but it worked.

One of the things I love about this pattern is the back. The lower panel is darted for a very close fit, but without looking too tight. I'm generally not a fan of darts in a knit top, but these are great.
From the side, you can see how it follows the curve of my back, but without revealing any untoward lumps and bumps. I actually didn't make any alterations for my full bust. The front gathers allow for a lot of extra space up there, so it fits well without the FBA, but I don't have as many gathers as the model on the pattern envelope. The fabric is a thinnish ITY from FFC. It's actually a pretty true red, but I couldn't get my camera to capture it well. It's reading as pink, but it really isn't pink at all.
The only alterations that I made were to lengthen the top 3 inches, and to raise the neckline. Oh, Burda and those necklines... Fortunately, this is easily done without any pattern adjustments. Center front of the upper bodice is seamed and self faced. for a higher neckline, you just have to seam it higher! I think this pattern is a winner, and I'm thinking I may make it up again in a grey rayon jersey that I've been hoarding.