Friday, August 28, 2015

Itch to Stitch Angelia Shorts

The timing of the call for testers for this pattern in May (!!) was serendipitous -- I had spent a couple hours the weekend before looking for some new shorts with no luck and these were just the style I had been looking for.  I also happened to have a block of time that I could devote to making them before the deadline.  I made the testing shorts in denim (pictures at the end of the post), another pair in linen (no pictures, sorry!) and a third pair in twill, which I took pictures of today. I've been meaning to write about these shorts for ages but the hold up has been the pictures.  I find it really hard to take pictures of myself!

The testing process was great.  Kennis set up a facebook page so that we could communicate with her and with the other testers about any issues we were having.  She was very receptive to feedback about fit and the clarity of the instructions (which by the way are great -- very thorough and with plenty of accurate illustrations).

View B is definitely not the quickest to sew but I love all the details that make them look like a pair of ready-to-wear shorts. These totally filled a gap in my wardrobe.

Changes made:
~ In order to accommodate my derriere -- I added a wedge to the back piece to lengthen the back crotch by 1/2" and also extended the back inseam by 1/4".  (I think I could still use a bit more space maybe because the twill pair sit higher than my first pair.  I messed up the zipper install on the denim pair so the waist is about an inch bigger.  That means they tend to slide down under my paunch but also give me a bit more butt room.)
~ I  took a 3/8" wedge out of the front in the twill pair
~ sewed the buttons right through tab on the side without doing a buttonhole
~ I left off the pocket tabs on the twill pair.  They look good but I use my pockets too much to want to fuss with a button.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

l'oiseau creative

This month I got the opportunity to blog over at l'oiseau creative.  J. picked out some fun fabric, check it out here.

They have some fantastic knits (and other fabrics) that you can find here.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Lilith and Eve Drapey Blouse

I've come to the realization that I need a deadline; a realistic deadline but a deadline nonetheless.   When I'm sewing for the kids, I tend to finish projects relatively quickly because I know if I leave it for too long, whatever it is wont fit or wont be in season.  Theoretically I shouldn't grow out of clothes while they're waiting to be sewn up (haha!) so, despite my best intentions, I often get excited about something else (usually making something one of the kids "needs") and I put my own projects aside partially finished for weeks or even months.  So I've putting my hand up to test a patterns for women's clothes that I would like to make anyway.

This is the first pattern from Lilith and Eve, LE101 the Drapey Blouse.  I was given a choice of paper or PDF, and I chose paper.  The cost of the pattern and shipping was covered by the company.  It arrived in a large envelope and was printed on quite thick, good quality paper.

With the dollar being so low and shipping costs so high, I went shopping for supplies locally.  My fabric shopping choices are fairly limited and all I found was this rayon which just happens to be covered in a granny-print floral.  The weight and drape were right though (Why, oh why can't fabricland get a decent print with this fabric??  It's really quite nice, flowy and soft, but all the prints look like they should be made into Hawaiian shirts!)

The pattern pieces were well drafted and, despite the very, very brief instructions, it came together quite easily.   My feedback was that more illustrations were needed, as well as more detail given in the written instructions.  I think their intention is to do video tutorials for some of the more difficult parts.  That doesn't really excite me since I don't have the patience to stop and watch a video when I'm working on something.  Plus I don't have a tablet or laptop and my PC is two floors away from my sewing space; I'd rather just have what I need right beside me.

I also didn't like that the instructions came on a huge piece of paper.  I keep my instructions next to my machine when I'm sewing and these were really unwieldy.

Design-wise I think it's a interesting blouse.  It takes quite a bit of fabric to make the curved yokes and the drapey back.  I'm not really sure about the buttoned-all-the-way-up look the models are sporting on the website (likely I'm just not cool enough for that) and I wasn't really keen on the baggy, long sleeves (really long! I have monkey arms and the sleeves are long on me!).  The sleeves are only finished with a band, not a cuff which strikes me as a little too casual for the rest of the blouse but there is a sleeveless version as well.

I finished this in April and I have to confess I haven't worn it.  It's comfortable but the fabric is too, ummm, bold for me.  I thought about making another one and was under the impression that I would be receiving an updated version of the pattern post-testing but I haven't.  I emailed the company (twice!) to ask if there were any significant changes made as a result of testing and they didn't respond.  The first time was over a month ago and then again two weeks ago.  Not sure what's going on there!  I did receive a thank-you package in the mail last week -- a fabric glue stick, some ban roll, a swatch card and a necklace charm -- which was very nice but I'm a little taken aback that they don't respond to emails.  All that being said, I may make this again in better fabric and if they come out with any new designs, I'd be happy to test again.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Girly Secret Agent Trench

The Secret Agent Trench is such a satisfying sew.  I've made it twice before -- once in a ponte knit and once in some sort of stretch suiting.  The ponte was very popular with my girls but the suiting was not and I think it was because it felt quite cool to the touch.

Since K. would be wearing this one on cool days, likely over a dress or short sleeves, I wanted it to be cozy so I underlined it in flannel.  I was going to do a hong kong finish if the seams were too bulky but they were manageable so I just followed the normal directions and bound the seams together.

I did skip lining the sleeves because I was worried about bulk but in hindsight it would have been fine.  The flannel gives the twill a bit more body and warmth but didn't add too much thickness.

I am always thrilled when I find the right buttons in my button jars.  This time I only had 7 of the same button but had two others for the sleeves that are the same colour. Good enough!

It's size 8 and a bit big right now but this kid is growing like a weed.  I think this is the only time it will be worn with the belt as she said it dug into her belly button (?).

And one last picture: I have a hard time getting natural shots of this little ham so I usually ask her do something funny so I can get a real smile out of her.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it backfires.  In this case, I asked her to jump and I got some really great expressions but this one was the only one in focus and she looks like she's levitating.  Or as though she was sitting in a chair and I photoshopped her in here  :)

- Secret Agent Trench, used before (cost per use $6.44)

- stretch twill from JoAnns $25. It was on sale and I had an extra 20% off coupon.  The exchange rate cancelled that out and then some so it worked out to about $12CDN/yd.  I used just over 2 yds.
- flannel lining: ~ $7
- binding: I'm going to say stash since it's been in my sewing cupboard for at least 4 years :)

- Stash!

Total: ~$32

Monday, February 23, 2015

Black and White Hide and Seek

Missy chose this fabric herself more than a year ago when Form and Fabric (no longer in business, sigh) was having a free shipping sale.  Free shipping to Canada is pretty rare so we went a little crazy :).  I didn't think the her excitement over black and white would last but apparently I was wrong.  As I am so often when it comes to making things for my little people!!  She loved her black and white Croquet Dress and, when she was "helping" me tidy up my sewing cupboard last week, requested a Hide and Seek dress made out of these two fabrics.  I try to steer away from quilting cottons for clothes these days but I also try not to turn down a request.

K. specified the "lacy" fabric (as she called it) be used on the yoke and the sleeves.  She also requested a band on the bottom but I talked her out of it (mean mom!).

The buttons were sent to me by one of my mom's friends and although one is bigger than the others, K. thought they were the perfect choice.  I love having a huge button stash to go to when I'm finishing something!

You can't really tell from far away but I did include the welt pockets.  (I didn't give K. the choice of having the welts in the contrasting fabric. bad me!).

I think I'm going to pretend I haven't finished this yet and give it to K. on her birthday weekend.  She loves new clothes for special occasions and, although the party is only a couple of weeks away, it's surprising how quickly something becomes "old" to her.  I probably don't help matters by making her new thing all the time but I enjoy it so I'm not going to apologize :p

Pattern: Hide and Seek $0, used once before
Fabric: Moda, Shades of Black, ~$10
Buttons: Stash

Total: ~$10

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Late to the Peplum Party

More than a year and a half ago, I won a $50 gift card and a Colette pattern from Harts Fabric. Excited, I ordered 5 (!) yards of fabric and the Hawthorn pattern, fully intending to make myself a dress.  When it arrived, I chickened out and decided to try the blouse version first using some soft cotton plaid I'd bought on sale at fabricland.  

I jumped right in and things were going well; I'd finished the hard parts - the collar, the sleeve plackets, etc. but then the cuffs didn't fit properly so I abandoned it.  For 18 months.   I don't know if peplums are still in fashion nor do I really care I'm just glad to not have this still haunting me from my sewing cupboard!

I can't remember what size I made or if I made any changes other than grading to a larger size from the bust (maybe?) down.  I do remember that even with the larger size, I had to let out the seams a bit were the top joins the peplum.  That makes me think either peplums are not for me or this one hits me too low?  And now I'm thinking that the area under the bust is too loose.  

Cue awkard photos of me staring out the window because I don't know what to do with my face  . . .

And here's the only picture that I managed to take of the back.  I'm an even more difficult subject than my kids!

I like the neckline and the collar and am proud of my cuffs (although they're far from perfect!) but I'm on the fence about the top as a whole.  I think I'll reserve judgement until I try wearing it for a day or two.

(I can't see myself ever making the dress since I've come to the realization that I'm really not a dress person so I still have that 5 yards of fabric for something else.  Does the dress version really call for 5 yards??  )

Pattern: Colette Hawthorn - Free!
Fabric: Cotton Plaid - approx. $7.00
Buttons: Stash

Total: $7.00

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Chambray Hide and Seek Tunic

I've felt pretty lethargic the last couple of months so I haven't done much sewing.  But the days are getting longer and I'm starting to feel a bit better.  I also broke down and bought a SAD light -- this one -- that I've been using when I first get up in the morning so maybe that's helping?  Even if it's a placebo, it's worth it :)  I had a burst of energy yesterday and sewed something from start to finish.  I rarely do that even at the best of times but what a feeling of accomplishment!  It's the little things, right?

I bought the pattern -- the Hide and Seek Dress/Tunic -- during the last O+S pattern sale. I had given away a bunch of my handmades that the girls had outgrown. One the people I mailed a dress to sent me a gift card to on the day of the day of the sale so I didn't hesitate to spend it.   I think this might be my new favourite pattern :).  It came together so nicely and looks fantastic. 

The purple fabric is a really soft cotton chambray I bought at fabricland (I used it before for this costume and this dress but just had a little bit left).  The lace yoke is bit of drapery fabric that I basted to the top front panel before sewing up the tunic.  

I used the view B but then added a couple of extra inches in length so it ended up being slightly long for a tunic.  Dresses don't work with snowpants and, according to K., neither do jeans so tunics and leggings are perfect for the next couple of months :)

She's pleased with it and wanted to put it on right away.  As usual she's a moving target so this was the only in-focus picture I was able to get of her wearing it.  It is so cute and suits her so well :)

Pattern: O+S Hide and Seek, bought with a gift card
Fabric: Purple Chambray approx. $3, drapery fabric approx. $.50
Buttons: Stash
Total: $3.50  

Thursday, October 23, 2014

"Hi, I'm Olaf and I like warm hugs"

This is, of course, Olaf from Frozen.  I'm sure we'll see lots of Olafs, Elsas, Annas and Kristoffs for Halloween this year!  I was surprised but not altogether unhappy when K. told me (in July!) what she wanted to be.  It tends to be quite cool in this part of the world at the end of October but there's no danger that she'll be cold in this!  In fact, I debated about making a second "indoor" costume for school and Sparks and parties but came up with an even better (quicker) solution which you'll see if you make it to the end!

I started with the Roller Skate Dress from Oliver and S and, other than the elastic at the bottom, actually didn't make any changes to it. To accommodate all the extra padding, I made it in size 10 although K. would normally wear a 7 or 8.

I used fleece for both the lining and the outside of the dress, mostly because I was initially going to rely on the dress and the elastic to make it "pouf".  That wasn't enough though so I also stuffed it with batting.  I added strips of tulle in the bottom, too, because I had them and I ran out of batting. I really should have just bought another bag of batting, though.  She loves it but I feel it could have been rounder.

I asked her to let me take a picture of the back and this what I got, complete with a booty shake.  This kid makes me laugh :).  I didn't change anything except that the button is on the inside and that wasn't on purpose -- hey, when the lining and the dress are both the same fabric, it's easy to get them mixed up.

The hat is, of course, the cozy winter hood from Little Things to Sew.  I've lost count of how many time I've made that pattern!  (I think I say that everytime, lol!).  I made it twice for this costume, though.  This is the medium but I made a large, too.  I thought it would look more olaf-y but K.  wouldn't even consider putting it on. She has a thing about hats (and shoes) being small almost to the point of being uncomfortable.   But if she's happy in this one, I'm happy, too.  And I have a hat to send to my nephew for his birthday!

The hood is fleece lined with flannel and the "twigs" are pipe cleaners covered in velour.  I sliced to top pattern piece into two pieces so that I could sew them in.  I don't think they'll make it through the wash but they only have to last through three events.

And the shirt underneath is also Oliver and S -- the Field Trip Tee.  K. just got lucky on this one because I was just going to buy a shirt but I accidentally bought brown velour instead of black for another project (I have no idea how, I could swear it looked black on the cutting table but it most definitely is not!) so I had enough to make her a tee.  I initially made the whole thing brown but it showed at the neckline so I decided to rip it apart and make it white.  Which turned out to be a good decision and it solved my problem a slightly less warm costume for indoors.  Some black circles, and voilĂ  -- an Olaf "inspired" outfit (which will be worn with white leggings when the time comes of course!).

The best part of this costume is how thrilled K. is about it.  It reminds me why I started to sew in the first place -- to be creative and make something unique (or not so unique in this case!!) for the people that I love.  I still haven't gotten over the Kristoff incident (nor have I heard from the person who commissioned me to make that costume!) but I'm happy I can do this for my lovely sweet adorable appreciative daughter :).

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Kristoff Tunic

A few weeks ago, my daughter's teacher approached me after school and asked if I would do her a favour. She used to work with a boy named Tommy.  He has Autism and is an athlete and a runner. He also has a huge love for all things Disney, so much so that his parents take him to Disney World every year.  This year they timed their trip to coincide with Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween party and he wants to go as Kristoff from Frozen.

Sewing for other people makes me nervous but I figured a tunic couldn't be too hard.  Plus I was already making one for my husband so I said yes. I'm happy it's done and I'm hoping Tommy and his mom are happy with it but oh my goodness I was cursing this thing while I was making it!  I redid the collar about a million times (well, six (!!) times but it felt like a million).

And the fur!!  The bound fur trim was $26/metre and the yardage was $19/metre so guess which one I bought, lol?  So not only did I have to try to cut through this stuff, I had to give each piece a hair cut along the seam allowance after I cut it out.  There was fur everywhere!  It took me a good couple of hours to vacuum my sewing room when I finished.  And I'm still finding clumps that I missed (and clumps that I carried through the house on my clothes. Some even ended up in our dinner. oops!).  I will never willingly make anything with fake fur again.  Or I will be smart and track down some that's on a ribbon like this stuff.  Jeez, I wish I'd done a bit of research first!

The main fabric is from my stash - Brussels Washer Linen blend in charcoal.  Good thing I had it because I couldn't find anything locally that would be suitable for Florida weather!

Anyway, I started with Thread Theory's Finlayson sweater then extended the shoulders, made the neckline more a v-shape, lengthened it and added the shaping.  Then drafted (and re-drafted and re-drafted) a new collar.  So really, it's not much of a Finlayson anymore!

edited to add:  Wow.  I'm completely floored and devastated.  The woman who asked me to make this for her son feels it's not close enough to the original for his needs.  According to her it would okay for a casual party or trick or treating but not for someone who would be making YouTube videos at the "actual Disney World".  She offered to pay for it if I needed her to but said she'd sell it on kijiji!!

I'm not a professional but agreed to do this as favour.  She didn't give me any criteria and even asked me to source all the fabric and materials without her input.  I agonized over every detail and it didn't turn out exactly as I pictured it but I thought it was pretty good.  I am honestly hurt.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Vogue 1387 View A . . . and my first attempt at dyeing fabric

I've had this fabric for oh about a year.  It's a cotton-silk blend from Dharma Trading Co. but although it's not overly lightweight, it was fairly sheer.  Since I dislike wearing layers, every time I would pull it out to make something I would end up putting it away.

Late last Saturday night, I was itching to make something for myself -- we had been away from home for over three weeks and the weeks leading up to our trip were taken up with sewing flower girl dresses -- so I pulled this fabric out once again.  I couldn't find anything that would work for a lining, so I decided spur of the moment to dye it. My husband offered to at least do the dishes before I started but I just pushed everything to the side and pulled out my stock pot and dye.  I wasn't really sure what I was doing and I definitely used way too much dye (1 1/2 tsps for 2 yards of fabric) but the only casualty of the whole experience was the wooden spoon I used to stir, now permanently blue.  Not bad considering that I'm a horribly messy cook and was not at all organized.  (I once mangled the blade to my mom's stand mixer -- I put the spatula down on the mess on the counter.  When I picked it up again I didn't notice that a pencil stuck to it so it ended up in the mix.  Oops!)

This is Vogue 1387.  I bought this pattern for view B and actually started that one months ago.  I like it but it's waiting for snaps. Sometimes -- especially late at night -- it's more fun to start a new project than sew on snaps!

Here are the changes I made:
I cut the front on the fold along the centre front to eliminate the wrap.  There are a few nice versions online but the fact that even the pattern cover has the blouse tacked in place turned me off.  I added a button hole to the front before I sewed up the casing so that I could still include the tie.

I had some trouble with the underarm insets (a quick look at showed me that I wasn't the only one!).  The instructions would have you sew up the side seam and then the armbands and then you're supposed to somehow fit the gusset neatly in place.  Doesn't work.  I tried three times!  Didn't help that the notches for the gusset are not correct and the armbands are too long.  So instead of sewing the side seams all the way, sew only to the circle so that when you add the armbands they're enclosed in the seam. Trim off the excess armbands and ignore the notches on the insert.  Once I did that it was easy.

Overall, I like it.  I'd like to make it again but with some changes:
- lower the neckline slightly
- add an inch or so to the bodice so the ties hit me lower on the body
- use a fabric with even more drape