Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Simplicity 8170

Myra hit a crazy growth spurt last month, and suddenly many of her dresses and PJs are too short. Since she still has some dresses that are wearable, the greatest need was for jammies.
This is "vintage" (1977) Simplicity 8170, which I made for her last winter. Since they were a little big on her then, they are fitting her well now, and we both really like the style.
Here is the back view. I'm quite pleased with how well I lined up the yoke across the button placket. The fabric is a cotton flannel from Hobby Lobby, which was a gift from Myra's grandma, given the same time as the flannel for these PJs for Logan. Myra chose the rainbow rick rack trim. I thought it would be horribly tacky, but it actually works and it definitely fits Myra's colorful personality.
Myra also selected these sweet vintage buttons from my stash. I had a hard time snipping them from this adorable little card they came on. Isn't that cute?! It was probably cuter before the Lil' Lambee lost his head, but still...
For the button loops, I took the easy way out and stitched some clear elastic hair loops into the back opening. There isn't a seam here, so I just had to topstitch them down, and I don't really love how that looks, but it is functional.
I'll be pretty sad when Myra outgrows this pattern. We've gotten some really sweet jammies out of it!

ETA: I was so sad thinking about how much I liked this pattern that I just bought the next size up, and in the meantime found a new place to buy vintage patterns.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Wedding Dress Progress

No peeking, Steven!!
This picture has nothing to do with the dress. I just wanted to be sure the thumbnail didn't show up on Facebook and reveal any tidbits to the groom.

I have been working steadily on Breanna's wedding dress for the last month or so, and I wanted to show you all where we are now. I've never sewn for Bre before, so I started with some measurements, and made a very rough muslin with a small (1/2) petite adjustment right off the bat, as well as lengthening the skirt 2 inches to have it fall below the knee. I also added some fullness to the skirt at the hem.
Here is the first muslin, all pinned up. I took an additional 3/4 inch out of the bodice length above the bust, as well as 1/2 inch tucks in the neckline to eliminate some gaping there. I did a small (1/2 inch) FBA and took out another 3/4 inch below the bust, as well as raising the neckline another 1/2 inch. This baby is drafted like a Burda! The skirt was great though. I did a second muslin of the bodice only (no pictures) and took another small pinch out of the princess seam below the bust, but otherwise the fit was great.
Here is where we stand now. This will be sort of a wearable muslin that Breanna can use for trashing, rather than destroying her actual wedding dress. If you are unsure of what I am talking about, you aren't alone. Apparently there is a new(ish) phenomenon in the photography world whereby brides wear their wedding dresses in situations in which they are destroyed or dirtied. I definitely was not a fan of this happening to the real gown, so this muslin will serve as a dress she can trash, without me going into shock. It doesn't have the fullness in the skirt that the final gown will have, and rather than a lace overlay, I have just used tulle. Otherwise, the bodice details are as they will be in the final gown.
Here is the front neckline. Isn't it lovely? The final version will also have lace trim around the neckline.
In back, there is a small keyhole, which will also be trimmed in lace in the final version. The keyhole closes with small snaps. The back is closed with a hand picked zipper, which will be covered with a button and loop overlay.
Here's a little construction tidbit for you. When I first started garment sewing again, and was whining about how much I hated setting in sleeves, my Mother commented on a past post that in the atelier Chanel, they didn't ease stitch sleeves, rather they pinned in the cap ease with lots of teeny pins. At the time, I thought that sounded insane, but I'm coming around to Mlle's method. I feel like I have much more control over how the sleeve eases this way. The fullness is precisely where I want it for a perfect fit.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Simplicity 1955

I let Myra flip through the pattern catalogs with me the other day, and she came across Simplicity 1955, and immediately wanted the Kate Middleton wedding dress for her Barbie. I haven't made Barbie clothes since I was a kid, so I thought it would be a good idea to start with something simpler.
This is view C, an empire waist sundress with a circular skirt. It was pretty simple to put together, although Myra's non-Mattel branded Barbie is apparently wider than your standard 11 1/2 inch doll. I had to add a placket down the back so that it would close. I also added about 3/4 inch to the length of the dress, but boy, Barbie likes to show some leg!! I think some leggings are going to be the next project.
On the inside, I used a velcro closure per the pattern, although I thought it would be easier for Myra to take it on and off herself if the closure ran the full length of the dress, rather than having a seam for the lower half of the skirt. All the seam allowances are 1/4 inch and there really isn't any room for seam finishing, so I just left them all raw.
Even though it isn't a Princess Bride dress (as Myra calls the Kate Middleton gown), Myra was still pretty happy with her new Barbie dress, especially since it matches one of her favorite dresses. And thanks to the full circular skirt, Barbie can still do the splits! Yep, definitely needs some leggings...

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Vogue 8330 in red

I just finished up my third pair of Vogue 8330 jeans, which is sort of amazing for me, since I generally am done with a pattern after one make. But these jeans have been a real workhorse.
This time, I went for a bit less of a basic by sewing them in a bright red stretch twill (from Fashion Fabrics Club). Since the fabric has so much impact, I went very minimal with the stitching and embellishment. I just did a single line of topstitching, rather than a double, and used a matching topstitching thread.
I do think that hardware is one of the elements that can keep your home sewn jeans from having that "happy hands at home" look. Rivets are easy to apply and definitely give you a more professional appearance. These are the basic rivets produced by Dritz that are available at all of the big box craft stores, but you can get more fun rivets here and here. I am also a serious convert to the heavy duty snap, although a jeans tack button is also a great look. What I love about the snap is that I don't have to fight to sew a buttonhole through all of those layers in the waistband.
Since my heavy duty snap was black, I decided to paint it with nail polish so that it would match my jeans. Needle nose pliers held my snap in place while I painted it. You can also use model paints from the craft store, but nail enamel works great if you have the color you need. Don't forget to lightly sand your snap before you paint it. I just used an emery board. It helps the paint to adhere well so that it won't chip.
Elizabeth shared her amazing tip for staying organized while sewing jeans, so I thought I'd share mine with you as well. For me, keeping all my hardware and application tools in one place is critical, so I am not searching for the rivet applicator tool in one drawer and the actual rivets in another. I keep a large ziploc, into which goes all of the tools and hardware. Each type of hardware is stored in a smaller ziploc with the tool used to apply it. Tools that I use for multiple pieces of hardware are separate, but still stored in the larger ziploc. This way, when I'm ready to sew a pair of jeans, I just grab my "jeans" bag and all of the tools and hardware I need are right there when I need them.
Another thing that has helped me is having my own set of "man" tools, so I don't have to go hunting in the garage when I need a hammer or pliers. I have my own small tool box with a basic set of tools that I keep in the sewing room. I use it all the time and not just for sewing jeans!
Inside, I used a polka dot cotton for my waistband facing and pockets. I am a total convert to the pocket extension into the fly. It is no harder to sew, but it adds some support in the belly area and keeps the front pockets from gaping. I'm never sewing another pair of pants without adding this feature.
I wore my jeans to the grocery store and a random guy told me I looked like Betty Boop. I think it was the dark hair and red pants with sky high heels more than an actual resemblance, but if you want to tell me I look like a vintage pinup, that's OK with me! Even if she is a cartoon.
I'm wearing my new jeans with a top I copied from my favorite RTW layering tee. This is another "pattern" that I have used to death. I think I have actually made about 6 versions of this tee. It's so versatile. I think I'll make a red one now that I have red thread on the serger...  Hmm, then I should probably get going on that wedding dress. 30 yards of ivory shantung/organza/lace/tulle is staring me in the face!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Stretch & Sew 200

Apparently Pinterest is finally coming through for me. This is the second project in a row that I copied from a pin (or two). I've been sort of obsessed with striped tees with contrast yokes lately. I like the pink on this one. This one has a comfy, casual vibe. But this one is my favorite. I love the wider stripes and the way the black yoke blends seamlessly into the striped body.
Not bad, eh? I used Stretch & Sew 200 as the basis for this top, and it couldn't be more perfect. Thank you, Debbie for sending it my way!
I chose the view with the interesting square neckline. The great part about this was that the pattern pieces were drafted in parts that you taped together for the different necklines. The division line was the perfect place for the yoke, so all I had to do was add seam allowances. Sweet! The neckline is finished with a fold over facing, which I really think is great for a knit top when done well. I love that there is no circumferential seaming at the neckline to restrict the stretch. The facing is stitched down to the raglan seams, so it doesn't flip out.
I was a little slapdash with my stripes during the layout, so I'm pleased with how well they matched up, particularly across the raglan seams. There is a little mismatch at the side seam where I eased in my cheater FBA, but otherwise, I was able to convince the stripes to match up nicely. The only other mods I made to the pattern were to shorten both the sleeve and the total length. As drafted, it is quite a long top, which I generally like, but I wanted this to be hip length.
I wore it with my New Look 6082 cropped pants. I really like these pants, but they look a little off balance with the longer tops I generally wear, so this length is perfect for them. This is such a comfortable outfit - I feel like I'm wearing PJs - but I think still pretty chic.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Mother's Day Maxi

I've been seriously lusting after a bright pink Maxi skirt like this one and this one. And I really dig the high slit on this one.
So I took elements that I loved from all of them and made my own. The fabric is a poly crepe from Vogue Fabrics. It isn't my favorite fiber to sew, but this design was simple enough that it wasn't too bad. Fusible thread tamed the beast.
I started by drafting a floor length column skirt (OK, a big rectangle with the width as my hip measurement and the length as the distance from my waist to the floor). I wanted some flow in the hem, so I slashed and spread at the hem to use the full width of my fabric at the hem only. I added an allowance for a 1/2 inch elastic casing at the top -  more on that in a sec - then cut two full width panels.
I seamed the two panels together on one side only. I used a french seam, since this is the only seam in the entire skirt, I thought it ought to be nice. Now I have a giant semicircular panel that goes around me twice. I made a baby hem around the two side edges and the bottom hem.
Then I wrapped the skirt around itself, with the two hemmed edges up against the seam - one on the inside and one on the outside of the skirt.
This way, I had the look of a long side slit, but with a full layer of skirt underneath for modesty. The unseamed side also allows for a lot of flow at the hemline.
For the waistband, I wanted a bit of width to encourage it to lie flat and to look a bit more like pleats (but without having to pleat 80 inches of polyester crepe - no thank you!). I used this method, with 1/2 inch elastic in a casing at the top and shirring for 4 rows every 1/4 inch. When I finished, it looked strange with the 1/2 inch elastic next to the 1/4 inch shirring, so I added a row of topstitching through the center of the elastic casing. This gives the added benefit of preventing the elastic from rolling in the casing.
I wore my new maxi with a RTW tee shirt and my Vogue 1099 jacket. I've had a hard time styling this jacket, but I really like it with a long skirt. I think the volume at the hem of the skirt helps balance the volume at the hem of the jacket.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Vogue 1050

I've been planning to make these pants for literally years, but you know how it goes - Oooh, shiny! Mom and I bought our patterns together but she was more on the ball, and made her pair quite some time ago.
The pattern is Vogue 1050, and it is my first ever Sandra Betzina/Today's Fit pattern. For those who have not sewn a Today's Fit pattern, the sizing system is different. Theoretically, it represents an attempt to represent a more modern (ie, uncorseted) figure. The waist is relatively larger and the crotch curves are more L shaped. The other major difference is the Ms. Betzina writes the pattern instructions, so they don't suck. Actually, they were pretty amazing.
For me, I actually have a 10 inch difference between my waist and hip, so traditional pattern sizing works well for me there. I had to grade down a size at the waist for these to work. But the crotch curve is kind of awesome. From the back, you can see how well that area fits. The front wrinkles are showing you that I need a smidge more room in the hips. I suspect this is because I sewed together the upper part of the pleat through the hips, rather than using closures. I didn't want the hip area of the pleat to gape open and reveal the underlay. My hips are wide enough without a flash of turquoise reminding everyone of the fact. Because the hips a snug, the pants are riding a little high, and bunch up a bit below the waistband. 
The other big star of this pattern is the waistband and zipper. The pattern calls for an invisible zipper inserted to the top of the waistband at center back. I don't have many pants with a CB zip, and now I know why. You have to be a contortionist to get into them. Particularly when the bulk of the waistband seam causes the zipper to hang up an inch from the top. The jumping and yanking that ensues is quite comical. Next time it goes to center front. Now, the waistband is awesome. It is constructed in fives sections, with only the front and back sections interfaced. The side sections are stabilized and shaped with short pieces of elastic that are secured in the seams. I think this is one of the most comfortable waistbands I have ever worn, but still flattering and shapely. Even if you don't like this style of pant, this pattern is worth having for the waistband alone.
The fabric I used is a polyester peachskin from Joann. This is the only thing I dislike about these pants. This stuff was painful to sew and press. I almost gave up on it, actually. In the end, between the slightly too snug hips and the crappy polyester, I don't think these will live in my wardrobe long, but they will be replaced. All the while I was sewing this pair, I was imagining a pair in a gorgeous soft linen. Wouldn't that be fabulous?!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Frankenpattern and Simplicity 2290 PJs

When I showed Logan the Mater interlock that I made his and Duncan's tee shirts out of, he was really excited about it. He's been a little lukewarm about Cars lately, so I was glad he was so pleased. He told me that he wanted a short sleeve shirt (check!) and jammies (uh oh.). I only had a yard of the interlock, and he actually prefers flannel PJs, so I put "Mater flannel" in the back of my mind and went on my merry way. Last week, I hit Joann for the yellow ribbing for Duncan's tee, and Logan found his flannel.
Yeah, I'm a sucker for that kid. He asks me for so little. Anyway, the patterns are the same ones I used to make his Thomas the Train PJs, which are his favorite.
I used some bright yellow buttons from the stash and stitched the buttonholes in yellow thread, just for fun. All of the other topstitching was done in dark blue.
When I showed them to him, he declared them "cool". Erg, when did my baby start saying, "cool"?? At least he still loves Mater jammies!

Monday, May 7, 2012


Lately, I've been trying to keep better track of my fabric Ins and Outs. I created a spreadsheet to record fabric purchased and fabric sewn up, and it really has been helping me keep my fabric buying in better control. Like Carolyn, I don't feel particularly guilty about my fabric buying habits - it's cheaper than therapy, right? But, I do have limited space, and I do want to make sure that my collection is full of fabrics that I love, not just purchases I made because they were a "great deal".
The wall 'o fabric
This morning I started tracing Vogue 1050, which I have been planning to make for some time. When I bought the pattern (at least 3 years ago), I also bought some navy and teal peachskin to make it up. I often purchase fabric for one project and then end up using it for something else, but this time I actually am using the fabric purchased for these pants to make them. As I started to put them into my spreadsheet, my cursor hovered over the "stash" box. Is this stash fabric? I've had it at least three years. But I bought it specifically to make these pants, and here I am, actually using them for the purpose intended. I usually define stash fabric as something I bought without a specific pattern or use in mind, ie just for the stash, but this fabric has been with me a while. When does it cease to be dedicated and become stash? What do you think? Is it stash or not?

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Ottobre 03/2011-6, again

It seems like I often say I'm going to make a pattern again, and then get distracted by something else, but this time, I actually did make something twice!
I just love the first version of this sleeveless tee I made for Duncan, and he needed a top to match his new shorts.
This time I made the top out of a Chez Ami rib knit. The ribbing for the binding is from Joann, and my coverstitch machine did NOT want to play nice with it. In the end, it is on. That's about all I can say about it. I put a little patch at center back to coordinate with the monkey patch on his shorts. These little patches are so fun! I found them with the cloth diaper notions at Joann. They came in a pack of nine patches, so you'll see them again.

ETA: (5/7): I finally got some pictures of the outfit on the baby.
I couldn't be more thrilled with how well the colors matched! Mitch keeps calling these his storebought shorts. :) As if!

In other news, I sewed up the first muslin for the wedding dress this week, so hopefully we'll get to do our first fitting today. Woo-hoo!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Ottobre 03/2008-7

Up until now, I haven't needed to do much Duncan sewing. Logan left a ton of hand me downs, and Duncan has been pretty well dressed. But, since their birthdays are offset by a season, we have no warm weather clothes in his current size. Even all of his pants are lined or fleece. The kid needs shorts.
So I made him Ottobre 03/2008-7, the "Aqua" shorts. I made them a size too large, since I wanted them to last him a while.
The pattern is an elastic waist short with front and back patch pockets, and a yoke both front and back. Fun times with topstitching!
I added a little patch to one of the back pockets. Duncan is definitely a little monkey!
Here is a side detail shot so you can see the pockets, yokes and topstitching. I didn't have any yellow heavyweight thread on hand, so I used the triple stitch to give it some density and make it pop. I didn't use my twin needle this time - just sewed it freehand. Sometimes I'm crazy like that.
From the back, I actually really like the way they fit, despite being a size too big. There is plenty of diaper room. You have to love that cloth diaper friendly European drafting. The fabric is a printed canvas from Mom's stash. The selvage says that it comes from Joann, but I haven't seen anything this cute and boy friendly there lately!
One more cute baby picture, just for good measure. It's so nice to have such a cooperative model for a change!