Tuesday, February 28, 2012

My Image magazine Winter 2010/11 M1003

Have you ever gotten to the end of a project and felt like there had to be more to do? I've been doing so many relatively complex things lately, that when I hemmed this cardigan, it was almost a let down. Really, that was all? But I want to sew more!
The pattern for the cardi is from My Image magazine, the Winter 2010/11 issue, which was their first issue. I'm also wearing my Simplicity 3536 top, New Look 6816 silk pants, and my recently completed Escargot cloche.
This is the wearable muslin of my tie waist topper for the Wardrobe Basics SAL. I have some leopard print sweater knit for the final version, but since this is my first time sewing a My Image pattern, I wanted to make sure that the draft was good before I cut my precious leopard sweater knit.
This is the M1003 cardigan from the aformentioned magazine. It is pretty basic, but has some nice touches. My favorite thing about this is the shaped front band. Instead of just a straight cut front, the band forms a V neck, which I find flattering. The sleeves are banded rather than hemmed, and I particularly like the length, which comes to the top of my knees. The drafting of the pattern is very good, and the sizing seems to be typical for the European patterns in that there isn't a ridiculous amount of ease. By my high bust, I am between a 36 and a 38, but my waist and hip both fall into the 38, so I cut the 38, blending out to a 40 in front at the bustline. This worked well for this relatively unfitted garment.
Here is a closer shot of the neckline. You can see the way that the band curves to fit the V neck. In this slippery ITY it was a bit of a bear to sew, but it shouldn't be any trouble in a firmer knit, which is what this pattern is designed for. My major complaint with this pattern was the instructions. I've become accustomed to Burda's weird and wacky instructions, so my expectations aren't high, but these were incomprehensible. I'm hoping that they have hired a better translator since this was published. It was abysmal. This is a simple garment, so I was able to puzzle out what they were talking about, but mostly I just winged it and used the pictures in the magazine to figure it out. I'm pretty sure I did the front bands my own way. Fortunately, the magazine has several images of each garment made up in different fabrics, so you can see how they are constructed.
I am reasonably pleased with how it came out. I think the floral print skews Asian, and gives it an almost kimono-like look, although I also think it is a little bathrobe like. For the leopard print, I think I will need to shorten it to a hip length. Knee length leopard may be a bit much - even for me.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Simplicity 2149, mostly

My next component of the Wardrobe Basics SAL was the faux fur vest. While I recognize that this is a popular trend, it just doesn't work for me. Instead, I decided to go all out and make a faux fur jacket. I really appreciated all of the feedback from everyone about my muslin choices. The general consensus was definitely in favor of the Simplicity overall (although I wonder how much those crazy Burda sleeves had to do with that!). I really liked the general shape of the Simplicity, too, but something about it just wasn't feeling right. As I stared at the pictures, I realized that what I loved about the Burda was the neckline and curved hem, so I transferred them to the Simplicity pattern and I love the result.
I'm wearing the jacket with my Vogue 8330 skinny jeans (the first pair!) and the ubiquitous burdastyle turtle neck from the 09/2010 issue.
You can see the seams and shape a little better in this view. I actually really like the lines of this jacket and probably will make it again. It has two piece raglan sleeves with princess seams. The princess seaming acts like a shoulder princess, since it inserts high into the raglan armsyce. That made it really easy to ease the princes curves together, even in the D cup pattern piece.
The jacket is lined to the edge with a polyester jacquard from Fabric Mart. I bagged the lining rather than a couture insertion. With the pile of the fur covering my seamlines, I didn't think the extra effort was worth it.
I did do a bit of hand understitching at the neckline. Since you can't press the fur, this was the only way I could control the seam, which really wanted to roll out here. The lining is trimmed about 1/8 inch smaller than the fur to encourage it to roll to the inside, which worked out well pretty much everywhere except the back neckline. The understitching did the trick though.
For a closure I used a single fur hook just under the bust. I considered a second hook, but I kind of like the "babydoll" effect the single hook has. I'll wear it a bit and see what I think. I can always add another later.
I'm really happy with my jacket, and my first foray into sewing faux fur. The fur wasn't too hard to tame, and the jacket is nice and cozy. I really only have one D'oh to report, and I could seriously kick myself for this one. There are no pockets. I planned to put inseam pockets in the front princess seams. I drafted the pattern pieces and placed them, cut them out and then got so excited about sewing this up that I forgot to put them in. *headdesk* I guess you can't win them all...

Monday, February 20, 2012

Vogue 8330

My skinny jeans for the Wardrobe Basics SAL are ready to rock!
I was feeling a little rock star today, so we had some fun with the photo shoot. And I braved six inches of snow in a cap sleeve silk top. All for you, beloved readers.
The pattern is OOP Vogue 8330, originally a low rise skinny pant a la 1995. I raised the rise significantly (as you can see) the last time I made these. The front rise was great, but the back was actually a little too high and sagged with wear, so I shaved about an inch off of the top of the yoke at center back, tapering to nothing at the side seams.
Better. This denim has a bit less stretch than what I used the last time, so these are a bit more snug, but I think it is in a good way, although my mother might call them hysterectomy pants. The fabric is a dark black lightweight denim from Hancock's. It's pretty thin, and I don't think it will wear well, but it has this great sheen that doesn't come across in the pictures.
As I mentioned in my last post, I used this amazing variegated pink thread for my topstitching. It was the devil to photograph, but with some judicious editing, you can get an idea of how it turned out here. For the closure, I used a black heavy duty snap - love those, no buttonholes! And instead of rivets, I used the top half of small pink pearl snaps. I tried to find some pink rhinestone rivets, but I could only get them by the gross, and really, how many pink rhinestone rivets does one girl need?
In back, I wanted the thread to shine, so I went with a simple line as the pocket design. I considered leaving the pockets bare, which is a trend I've seen a lot in RTW lately. In the end (hah) I decided that they needed *something* and the line won out.
For a little extra flash, I decided to make a belt loop "X" at center back. I saw another sewist do this once upon a time, but can't remember who. So sorry! Let me know if it was you I'm copying! It's a fun detail.
Overall, I'm kinda stoked. Although this is definitely a little bit outside my usual mommy style, I really like it. I think I'll break out the black leather jacket from high school and some knee high patent boots and really rock these. They'll be fun while they last.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Topstitch Inspired.

If you're a PR member, you've probably been aware of the jeans contest this last month. There are some amazing entries. Since my current project for the Wardrobe Basics SAL is my skinny jeans, I've been enjoying the inspiration. And the jeans are coming along.
In fact, they are in the home stretch! All I have left is the waistband, button/rivets and hems. But I just had to give a couple of shout-outs to my topstitching inspiration. Did you see Elizabeth's fab jeans?? I had already cut these out as skinnies, but my next pair of flared jeans is so going to have the buttoned vents. Fabulous!! For these jeans, I copied her pink topstitching, but with a twist inspired by kbenco's bellbottoms.
Isn't that pretty thread?? It is Aurifil, which is marketed as a quilting and embroidery thread, but it is nice and thick and lustrous. I love how it looks as topstitching thread, and isn't the variegation pretty? Not being a quilter, I didn't even know it existed, but I got a sample pack in my Sewing Summit swag, and it included this lovely pink. So perfect. The only down side I have found so far is that it is quite linty. Janome is doing all the topstitching for these jeans and she is definitely going to need a cleaning after this. So will the table she sits on and the floor underneath. Linty. So, anyone else used this thread for topstitching? Do you like it? What is your favorite topstitching thread for jeans? Dish, y'all.

And PR members, you have until the 23rd to vote in the Jeans contest. There are some amazing jeans to choose from. You can probably guess who I voted for, eh?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Vogue 8747

Woven blouses are hard! I feel as though I am reasonably good at this sewing thing, and I have successfully fitted knit tops, jeans, jackets, pants, skirts and coats, but I have yet to make a woven blouse that fit *perfectly*. I have come close, and I've made some very wearable pieces, but that holy grail of the top that skims my bumps while still being closely fitted and in which I can raise my arms and move without restriction - well, it hasn't happened. This one is close though.
The pattern is Vogue 8747, which is your basic princess seamed blouse but with gathers into the button band at the level of the bust and a shaped neckline.
You can see the details a little better in this shot on Sandra Dee. The pattern includes cup sizes, which meant I didn't have to do an FBA - bonus. For fit, I basically just blended between sizes to get what I wanted. The front shoulder and neckline area are a size 10, which I blended out to a 12 in front to accommodate my hips. In back, where I am more broad shouldered, I cut the neckline at a size 10, then extended the shoulder line out to a 12 and blended up to a 14 below the waist to cover the booty. I am reasonably happy with the resulting shape and the fit is pretty good. I can move my arms forward, which is always an issue for me in fitted tops, but I can't raise them up fully. I wonder if I need to cut the armscye higher to give me more freedom of movement there?
The fabric I used was a very lightweight voile from Fabric Mart. It was lovely to sew, but it is a bit sheer and has a very soft hand. I didn't want my interfacing to show through or to alter the lovely hand of the garment, so instead I used an additional layer of the fashion fabric as my interfacing for the collar, cuffs and front button bands. I love it. The color isn't effected and the fabric is so soft and pliable. I wouldn't do this with a blouse I wanted to be crisp, but I love it here.
The color isn't quite right in this shot - the collar image above is closer to real life. It is a very saturated blue based teal. Just gorgeous. The pattern called for a lot of topstitching to enclose the collar, bands and cuff. Normally this is how I do my shirts, but I didn't want to topstitch this. I just loved how polished it looked without the topstitching. I know you'll be shocked, but I actually hand sewed them all down. It turned out beautifully and I am so happy I spent the extra time to do it.
The bust gathers and shaped neckline were what drew me to this pattern in the first place. I love the shaping the gathers provide and the neckbands are very graceful and feminine. Love it.
This is a closer representation of the color. I really love it. You can also see how softly the collar falls in this shot. It has a very gentle curve, which I think fits in well with the femininity of this blouse without being overtly girlie.
I finished it Valentine's Day, so I got to wear it to Mazza on a date with my honey. I wore it with my BWOF 04/2009-118 pants, leopard print calfskin pumps, and brown coated rayon jacket. I love this jacket so much and really wish I could find some coated rayon to copy it. It has a very leather like appearance, but breathes much better than pleather. I love how the blouse provides a flash of color in an otherwise neutral outfit. I think it will be a major player in the wardrobe. I actually made it as a wearable muslin for my white blouse, and it is definitely going to get worn!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The reason I learned...

to crochet was because I wanted to put crochet edgings on my knits. Flowers are just a bonus.
I thought a nice place to start would be a dishcloth, since they are small and have nice straight edges. I found a book in the library called Knitting Loves Crochet that was very helpful. The first project in the book is a simple garter stitch dishcloth (of the type that I learned to knit on), to which you can add your choice of edging.
I chose a shell border. Shell stitch always seems to me to be the quintessential crochet stitch. Anyway, the resulting washcloth isn't perfect, but it is cute, and matched Myra's princess kitchen. She likes it very much.

This week has been kind of a crazy one, so I haven't spent a ton of time in my sewing room. My fur coat muslins are hanging out, awaiting a decision. I really appreciate everyone's input and you've all given me a lot to think about. I'm going to let the ideas simmer for a bit before a make a final pattern choice. In the meantime, I traced and cut a wearable muslin of Vogue 8747, which will be my white blouse, if it works out as a muslin.
I haven't gotten very far, but here is the front gathered section into the front band. The fabric is a very pretty teal voile from Fabric Mart. I'm not sure the color is really true to life. I took several pictures and they were all not quite right, but this is the closest. It is an intense blue teal with a very nice sheen. Hopefully I can show it to you all in a few days.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Faux Fur Jacket - Your Opinions Please!

I'm getting ready to sew up my faux fur jacket for the Wardrobe Basics SAL, but I'm on the fence about style and pattern. For reference, this is my fabric.
It is a faux mink from Fabric Mart in a chocolate brown color. I am planning to sew a jacket rather than a vest, and other than that, I'm really not sure what I want in terms of style. I've sewn up a couple of muslins. They are very different, and I was hoping that you would all weight in about what you like and dislike about each one.

The first is Simplicity 2149. It is a hip length jacket with front princess seaming and raglan sleeves.
The fabric kept wanting to curl back, and I need more room in the back, which is why it is flying open at the hips. Still, the shape is there.
The 3/4 shot gives you a better look at the shaping, I think.

The second is Burda Magazine 12/2010, number 117.
The sleeves are a little less extreme in fur, although Mitch got a good laugh at their expense.
This one would need an FBA, so I would have to figure out if I want to add another dart. It obviously wants one.

So, cards on the table, what do you think? Simplicity? Burda? Frankenpattern? Something else entirely?

Sunday, February 5, 2012


In the last couple of years since I learned to knit (Thank you, Beth!!!), I've really enjoyed the process of creating fabric from "scratch". I'm working on some mittens for Mitch at the moment and I was just marveling at the thumb gusset increases. I love the process of shaping fabric to fit a three dimensional form. So fun. Anyway, I have been collecting fun knitting patterns (because I need more stash...), and many of my favorites have crochet details, like lovely lace edging or attached floral elements. So, I decided I need to learn to crochet.
I picked up a book at the library and found a hook I generally use for picking up dropped stitches. And I made a chain!
And a swatch! I started with several rows of single crochet, then some half double crochet, and went from there. I think my stitches improved a little as I went along, although I still have far to go.
Anyway, swatching was fun and all, but I ain't gonna lie y'all. I got bored and looked up a YouTube tutorial for a flower.
And I made one!!! My first crocheted FO!! I put a little ladybug button in the middle. There is a hole there that I wasn't a fan of. I am really a visual learner, so it was much more helpful watching someone else form the stitches. I still have lots to learn, but I think it was a fun start.
I stitched on a clip with the thread tails so that Myra can wear it as a hair clip or on her clothes, as she likes. This crochet thing is fun!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Sewing For Boys: Two-Faced Pants & Kickin' Back Sweats

For this month the Sewing For Boys Sew Along over at Boy, Oh Boy, Oh Boy is making pants. The patterns are the Two-Faced pants (size 3M-18M) and the Kickin' Back Sweats (size 2/3-6/7). Lucky me to have boys in both sizes! I got to make both!!
For Duncan, who is 13 months old, I made the 12-18M size in the Two-Faced Pants. For Logan, who is 5 years old, but has short legs for his age, I made the 6/7 in the Kickin' Back Sweats, but had to shorten it about 4 inches. Easily done since they aren't hemmed. I just lopped the extra length off and dotted some fray check on the end of the seam so it wouldn't unravel.
The patterns are quite similar - one seam type pants with cased elastic waistbands. Both have pockets - more on that in a moment - and have hems left raw. They are both fairly loose fitting and are suitable for both woven and knit fabrics. I used a snuggly sweatshirt fleece for these. The Two-Faced Pants are intended to be made in two different fabrics, one for each leg. It's a cute look, but since I wanted to boys to match, I didn't do it. Next time...
Each pant had it's own pocket. This little rounded one is from the Two-Faced Pant pattern. I decided to use both pockets for both pants. I used the fuzzy side of the sweatshirting for one face of the pocket and a cotton print for the other face. For the baby pants, I used the cotton print as the main fabric and folded down the fleece for the "flap".
For the big pants, I used the fleecy side as the main fabric. This is the pocket from the Kickin' Back Sweats pattern. I turned down one corner to echo the flap in the other pocket.
Here is the side with the square pockets on both boys.
Overall, I think this is a great basic pant pattern for boys. I'm sure I'll be using it again for both of them.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Wardrobe Challenge SAL Plans

I think many of us have the problem of many clothes but nothing to wear. I know that I tend to sew very haphazardly - making whatever strikes my fancy at the moment without much thought to whether or not I have anything to wear it with. While I do occasionally sew wardrobe basics, I am much more likely to get distracted by something shiny. So, I decided to join the Wardrobe Basics SAL over at Girls in the Garden.
The basic premise is that we will sew a series of basics that coordinate and can be mixed and matched for different looks - much like sewing a SWAP. Now, I don't have a very good track record where this sort of thing is concerned, so I am hoping that all of you will help keep me on track.
For the SAL, we are making 9 basics. They are:
1. Black slim pants
2. Dark skinny jeans
3. White button down shirt
4. Black turtleneck
5. Camel/Khaki skirt
6. Tie Waist Sweater
7. Puffy Vest
8. Faux Fur vest
9. LBD

One of the other participants, Jayme over at Straight Stitched is also incorporating Tim Gunn's 10 Essential Wardrobe Elements. There is a lot of overlap, naturally. One component of the Tim Gunn list that I would like to add to mine is the trench coat, so that will be my #10.

I've already made #1 and #4. So, for the rest, here are my plans.
Dark skinny jeans: 
I'm planning to make these with Vogue 8330, which I made in a lighter denim here. I'm already pretty happy with the way these fit, so I'll just be able to sew them up.
White button down shirt:
Can you believe I don't already have one?? White isn't shiny. Anyway, I do have some nice white stretch cotton shirting and I am planning to make Vogue 8747, which is a cup sized pattern, so it should only require minimal tweaking.
Camel/Khaki skirt:
I'd love to knock off this Alexander McQueen. I'll have to look through my pattern stash. There are a couple of burdastyle magazine skirts that come to mind. They always have fun details. I have some stretch bengaline in that color.
Tie Waist Sweater:
I like this long sweater/jacket from last Winter's MyImage magazine. I have a great leopard print sweater knit that I've been planning to make this into for some time. I like the idea of a self fabric tie belt for it, and I may make some thread loops to hold it in place, but we'll have to see how it evolves.
Puffy Vest:
I know, it isn't puffy. I don't like to add bulk to my upper body. Nature gave me enough there. Still, I like the idea of adding a vest as a layering piece in my wardrobe. New Look 6008 caught my eye. I love the interesting straps and the peplum is on trend.  I have some fun brown suede with gold painted areas, but I also think this would be nice in tweed or wool suiting. I'll have to comb the stash and see what I come up with.
Faux Fur vest:
Right, not a vest. I'm not a fan of fur vests, but I do have a couple of yards of faux mink from Fabric Mart that I have squirreled away to make a jacket. I'm not sure I love the collar on this one, and I may want a bit more shaping, but this is the basic idea.
LBD: I'm thrilled that this is on the list, since it is one thing that I have wanted in my wardrobe for some time, but haven't yet sewn. I think part of my problem is that there are so many dress patterns that I like for this, I can't make up my mind.
Trench Coat:
I'm planning to knock off this Burberry trench seen on Kate Middleton. I find single breasted styles more flattering on me, so I may do mine that way. This burda magazine pattern from August '09 is a dead ringer for this.

So, this is a start! I'm sure I won't just power through and sew these all up, as there are other projects that I want and need to do. Obviously, pattern and fabric choices are subject to change as well. I'm excited about sewing up some basics!