Monday, January 25, 2016

Learning about machine embroidery

Nightgowns are an awesome project for practicing my machine embroidery. So, when my SIL mentioned that my niece Emma was growing out of her PJs, I quick made her up a nightgown. Emma has an obsession with Batman, but most Batman clothing is made for boys. There is definitely a lack of dresses and nightgowns with a Batman theme.
We'll just take care of that, shall we? Girlie batman nightgown? Check. I used an applique design from Etsy. You can find it here. I was pleased with the design itself. I scaled it up 130%, and it performed well and was easy to stitch out. I added Emma's name to the design, just for fun.
The nightgown itself is straightforward. It's from the 06/2009 issue of Ottobre and I've made it for both Myra and Emma before, so I know it's a winner. Mostly, this post is to talk about the machine embroidery/applique. I did some dumb things that I don't want to forget...
Here is a close up of the final stitch out. The design is very simple - just a two layer applique, surrounded with heavy satin stitching. The name stitches out last, so it's only one thread change. Easy peasy. I even did a test stitch for some practice and discovered that you want to get REALLY close to the basting stitches when you trim the applique. Here was my big oopsie though - see the lower point assymetry? It's not obvious unless I point it out, so I'm not stressing it, but here is how it happened. For this, I used a medium weight tear away stabilizer in the hoop, with the fabric glue basted to the stabilizer but not hooped. This worked great for the practice stitch out, and I love how easy it is to get the knit fabric smooth and flat without bubbling. The problem here was that all the stitching (two rounds of basting plus the satin stitching) caused the tearaway stabilizer to separate, which made the fabric shift since it wasn't hooped. Fortunately, I caught it quickly and was able to spray baste the fabric back onto the stabilizer, so no harm done. But I think for the future I'll either stick with cut-away, or make sure that sucker is really glued down.
Tearaway stabilizer does give a very neat look on the reverse though. And I like that the finished item retains the flexibility of the knit.
It's not perfect, but I do think it turned out ridiculously cute and I know Emma will love it. I learned a ton making it, so overall - win! So, all you veteran embroiderers out there - any advice? What do you wish someone had told you when you first started out?

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Mermaids and Whales! And the latest Ottobre

Whenever I get a new issue of Ottobre, Myra is the first to peruse it and make requests. Usually, I make a mental note of which styles she likes and either promptly forget, or get to it much later, when she actually has a wardrobe need.
This time, my happy, twirly girl got the dress she asked for. And bonus leggings! Because snow.
The dress is #18 from the 01/2016 issue of Ottobre. It's a fairly basic style. It features has a slightly raised waistline, long raglan sleeves and a gathered skirt. Not super full, so it's economical of fabric. The neckline is bound, which I did with my coverstitch machine.
Despite being fairly sparing of fabric, the skirt is slightly flared, so it twirls nicely. The leggings pattern is from the same issue of Ottobre (view #15), and is a simple one-piece leggings pattern. No bells or whistles, but a useful basic. Myra declares that the outfit is so comfy that she could wear it as PJs. But she won't because it's too cute.
The fabric is by Lillestoff, and I bought it at Kitschy Coo. It's very soft, but also sturdy and warm, so it's perfect for a winter outfit.
Lately I've been feeling the need to embellish everything I make for Myra. She likes bling. So the mermaid at the center front of her bodice got some sparkle on her shells and at her waistline. Those 2mm rhinestuds are made for doll clothing, so they're tiny but I think they're the perfect little adornment for Myra. She loves the sparkly mermaid.
My sassy little girl is growing up way too fast, but I'm glad she still loves a twirly dress with mermaids.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Burda 10/2005-115: Still in the Jungle

This great snow leopard ITY was just crying out to be sewn for Jungle January, but none of my usual knit top patterns were singing to me. I was randomly flipping through some old issues of Burda, when I ran across this great top with draped collar in the 10/2005 issue that I had mentally earmarked to make, then forgot.
10 years later... Ok, not really. It's an issue my mom gave me, but it has still been several years. I'm always impressed at the longevity of some Burda patterns. When you weed through the uber-trendy, there are always a few high quality classics that will stand the fashion test of time. I think this design is one of those.
In essense, this is a simple design; a basic fitted tee with long, banded sleeves. The interest comes in with the semicircular, not-quite-a-cowl collar.
In an atypical move for Burda, there is not cleavage baring plunge here. The neckline is fairly high and the collar wraps around to drape over the shoulders.
In back, the shape of the collar is more evident. In matching the dominant black stripe of the print across the collar in front, the circularity of the collar makes matching in the back impossible. You can see how the collar is shaped by following the rotation of the leopard print. You can also see that I should have done a full butt adjustment. Next time.
I made no alterations to the pattern, other than the construction of the collar. Burda had the collar a single layer, with a plain hem around the edge, but this fabric is fairly slinky and I knew there was a much greater than zero chance of the wrong side showing as I moved, so I did a double layer collar, seamed at the outer edge rather than hemmed. It has very nice weight and drapes beautifully without exposing the wrong side, but it did eat up a lot of yardage, particularly as I matched the dominant black stripe.
All in all, I'm pretty thrilled with this top! I'll definitely  be using this pattern again. I'll probably lengthen it a bit to give it a more modern feel (and to balance out my short-waisted, long torso), and adjust for my prominent backside, but this is well on its way to becoming a favorite pattern. Now to breeze through those old Burdas again! Who knows what other gems they are hiding?

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Ottobre 01/2015-25 Jungle January sweater

Since it's a bit of a Jungle January tradition for Myra to join in the party, I asked her to choose an animal print fabric from my stash and tell me what she wanted me to make. She's gotten very picky about her wardrobe and surprises don't always go over well.
She chose the small scale cheetah print that I had used to make my Deer and Doe Plantain. It's a lightweight sweater knit with some embossed silver foil in the print. Animal print and bling are a combination Myra can't resist. I used hot pink for the neckband and topstitching to tie into the rest of Myra's wardrobe. Hot pink is a neutral.
The pattern she chose was from the 01/2015 issue of Ottobre, pattern #25. It's a loose fit, boat neck tee with gathered 3/4 sleeves and a curved hemline. It's a great basic style that will suit a lot of fabric types and embellishments.
Since silver foil animal print with pink accents wasn't enough going on, I also added a butterfly crystal embellishment. Myra loves it, but I have my doubts about how well it will weather her rough and tumble play.
The length is great on Myra - just grazes the hip. Myra is 118 cm tall, so if your little lady is taller, you may want to add some length.
Overall, it is definitely a win! Myra loves the fabric and the bling. She'll wear it a lot since it pretty much matches everything she owns. Myra pretty much lives Jungle January all year long. This little apple definitely didn't fall far from the tree...

Monday, January 11, 2016

Ottobre 06/2015-31 nightgown

The most exciting new feature (among many exciting features!!) of my new machine is that she embroiders. I've been wishing for an embroidery machine for years, and I am so excited to finally have one. It's going to be so fun to encorporate embroidery into my sewing. I decided to start small.
Well, child sized anyway. Myra needed a new nightgown anyway, so I decided to add a teeny bit of embellishment. Can you see the butterfly resting on a rainbow?
Here is a better view. I chose a more open, sketch-like design in hopes that it would play nice with the knit. I probably should have gone with a more stable fabric for my first project, but knits are what I sew. I want to be comfortable embroidering them. I'm still working on that...
The pattern is from the most recent issue of Ottobre, 06/2015, design #31. I sewed Myra a straight size 122 and it is a perfect fit. I am trying to wrap my brain around the fact that she is a size 122. When did that happen??? It's a very simple style - back and front are the same except for the neckline and the sleeves are short, gathered and puffed. I did all the binding with the coverstitch binder, so this was a super quick project.
The fabric is a very soft printed jersey by Hilco. I got it from the Kitschy Coo shop. The binding is an interlock I had in the stash, I suspect it is Chez Ami. It's a perfect match for the hot pink elements in the print.
To be honest, I was a little loath to use this fabric for a nightgown. It's a bit pricey (although worth it for the quality), so I lean toward using it in garments that will be seen, but it's so soft and snuggly it really is perfect for nightwear too.
Sleepy girl is sleepy and comfy in her new nightgown.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Back in the Saddle

So, December kinda sucked sewing-wise. Then there was Christmas. And I had a new Bernina 880 under the tree!! She does everything!
Isn't she pretty? I've named her Vera. So, between getting a new machine and Jungle January, my mojo went through the roof. In fact, I have two new garments to show you today! Yay!
Let's start out in the Jungle. I had two pieces of silver foil snakeprint stretch bottom weight fabric. Because it's my stash and I can do what I want. So, I went with this stretch corduroy with abstract splashes of silver throughout the snake print. I wanted to start off with a pattern I was comfortable with, since I am still getting used to Vera.
The pants are the Jalie Eleonore, which I have made before here and here. This corduroy has slightly less stretch than is ideal for the pattern, so I kind of have to wiggle into them, but they feel awesome on. I did the full jeans style topstitching, but between the busy print and the nap of the corduroy, the stitches disappear. Still, it was great practice and I'm very comfortable with Vera now.
For the top, I decided I wanted to try out something new. My wardrobe is a bit light on tunic type tops, which I think go well with skinny pants. So, I went with the relatively recently released Butterick 6248
My problem with most tunic styles is that they lack bust shaping, so they end up looking like maternity tops on my full bust. This top has princess seaming, so it curves nicely over the bust and nips in slightly at the waist. Size-wise, I sewed my typical combo of Big 4 sizes, and you can see that it still has a significant amount of design ease. 
Also, POCKETS!! Just a little kangaroo pocket, but it's the perfect size for a set of keys or my iPhone. My fabric is a very stretchy ITY, so I stabilized the pocket openings with some fusi-knit interfacing. It keeps them from gaping open.
My favorite feature is the back, and wouldn't you know it, I got no pictures of it!! I have forgotten how to blog... You can sort of see in this side view that the back dips low and is very full. All that fullness is courtesy of a big triangular godet at center back. 
Here is the fashion drawing from the Butterick website. Surprisingly, it really does look like that! I love the fullness and swingy-ness it gives the top, without adding volume in front.
I'm very pleased with my first outfit of 2016. Here's to an awesome, sew-full year!!