Thursday, November 13, 2014

A Jacket for the Surprise Sewing Bee




Last week I entered my plaid A Line skirt in the Pattern Review Surprise Sewing Bee contest merely for the fun of it.  I was thrilled to be one of 56 entrants to move on to the next round of the bee.  This contest is inspired by the British show "The Great British Sewing Bee" and if you have never seen this show and you like to sew you really should watch it on youtube.  I loved it and would love to see the second season as well.  So I was pretty excited when I realized I could participate in an online sewing bee of sorts!  

Our second challenge was to make a garment from men's shirts.  My mind instantly went to Simplicity 1688 which is part of my Big List 'O Cool Weather Sewing Plans.   I love this little jacket and even though I think it was designed for warmer weather I was determined to make it cool weather appropriate.  In order to do this I thought of the kinds of shirts I would need and I thought of the shirts my Pa Pa used to wear in the woods, they were quilted on the inside and flannel on the outside.  I hit several thrift stores (with 2 year old in tow of course) and found the shirts pictured below (didn't end up using the X out one).   


The Fabric: 

The two I ended up using are the pale striped denim and the flannel quilt lined plaid shirt.  I could just picture the jacket in my head and traced off the sketch from the pattern and added my own coloring to it to get an idea of what it might look like.  
I wanted the sleeves from view A of the pattern and the bodice from view B.  The quilted fabric and the denim would be alternated on the bodice.  I also did something to the denim that I've never done to a garment before- I quilted it so it would match the weight of the navy quilted fabric.  To do this I just put a layer of quilting batting behind each cut out denim piece and sewed a longer stitch of lines about 1 1/3 inches apart.  So its totally quilted on the inside- which ended up giving it the structure I wanted.  Since this jacket was designed for lighter fabrics I graded the heck out of the seam allowances to reduce as much bulk as possible.  For the inside of the jacket I used bemberg rayon- slippery as all get out but wonderful next to your skin- and at the bottom of the lining I added part of the flannel shirt.  I also used the flannel shirt for the decorative piping around the jacket and the pocket on the front.  

The Pattern: 

I have one thing to say about this pattern and that is "Holy pattern pieces Batman!"  To make the coat the way I did took 14 pattern pieces (and if you decide to make the sleeves striped you can add 5 pattern pieces to that number).  But this is also why this was a good pattern for piecing together two shirts.  As far as the fit goes I love the way it fits.  My bust is a 34 and I sewed the size 10.  I sewed the side seams up with 1/2 inch seam allowances for a little more wiggle room.  I also lengthened the bottom of the jacket by 1 1/2 inches.  Aside from those changes I did not alter the fit in any other way.  Its a pretty boxy jacket but I love that.  As far as the construction methods in the directions, I only used them to keep track of my pieces and the order in which to assemble them.  I used this Grainline Studio Tutorial for bagging the lining.  I really can't give a fair judgement of the directions since I diverged from them so greatly.  

Styling: 

I searched Pinterest for inspiration on styling and found these jackets: here, here,  and here.  I didn't realize they were such a thing but all these versions are beautiful.  Mine is a little less patterny than the examples I showed but that same quilted, boxy, cropped style that I really liked.  You can see I'm pretty safe with my styling- standard jeans, tee, belt.  I'm also thinking a fitted white button down with cuffs rolled up would be cute too.  Or better yet over a simple sheath dress!

In conclusion I'm already wearing this jacket around and lllooovvving the snuggly feeling the quilt batting lends.  One jacket down....a bunch on my sewing list to go!!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Rescuing Plaid

If you're familiar with our blog you will know that I like to rescue fabrics from thrift stores.  This is one such fabric.    
The Fabric:
I found this length of wool plaid and just couldn't pass it up because of the beautiful saturated colors.  There's always a risk with wool that it will most certainly have some moth holes and this one really did.  You can't see it in this picture but I held the fabric up to a window and put a blue chalk X on each moth hole.  As if plaid matching isn't hard enough I had to plaid match around all the moth holes as best as possible.  I think I did pretty well with only one pattern piece having some moth hole damage that I repaired with tricot fusible interfacing applied to the wrong side of the fabric.  I don't know if that's the "right" way to fix a moth hole but it worked for me. 

I have to say if you are going to match plaids that my tried and true method is to cut each piece separately unless you have a piece that must be cut on the fold.  Then I match up the lines using pins to hold the fabric together before I pin my pattern piece down.  I also always examine the notches of the pattern to see if the placement matches.  There are a lot of sewing blogs with more detail than I'll offer here on how to match plaids, if you do a search you're sure to find one.  A few of my favorites: here,  here,  and here.  I also like to read my Vogue sewing book for things like this.     

I used bemberg rayon for the lining.  That stuff is a slippery little booger but it makes the inside of your skirt feel so wonderful.  I picked mine up at Hancock fabrics, occasionally they carry it there so when I found this gray bemberg on sale I grabbed several yards. 
The Pattern:
The pattern is from the Sew U Built by Wendy book released some time back.  I'm noticing that there is a copy for dirt cheap on Amazon right now and if I were a beginning sewist I'd snap it up.  I have had this book since it first came out and this is the first pattern I've used from it.  I like the book for the sheer inspiration but I now like the book because this skirt turned out well!  Now I'm kind of itching to make the other two included patterns in the book. 

I made a size Medium from the skirt pattern and my waist is 29 inches and hips 39 inches.  I did however sew the side seams of this skirt with a 3/8 inch seam.  I was worried it might be too tight and have pulling.  I probably could've used a 1/2 inch seam on the sides since the skirt is a smidge loose.  I added a waistband to the skirt as per this tutorial from Colette.  It worked great.  However next time I might widen the waistband about half an inch and then add belt loops.   
She's back there saying "where's my play shoes?"  She's obviously ready for us to go outside. 
Styling: 
I can't decide how I like this skirt best.  I tried it with my tall black boots and with my bootie boots (is that what you call them?).  I think I'm leaning toward the booties but I would like to get more wear out of the tall boots.  I am no styling expert but I think either pair of boots will work.  I also think that this skirt could be styled with a nicer t-shirt or a white button down.  The top in these pictures is a thrifted Ralph Lauren sweater.  I also think that it works well with the top tucked or out.      

Yes that is a baby-doll behind me.  There was playing going on back there.


I'm entering this skirt in the Pattern Review Surprise Sewing Bee Contest going on right now so I had a few parameters that they require you to follow.  My personality is kinda "meh" about parameters- blame it on the "P" in me from the Myers Briggs.  But I am glad that I made this wool up into this skirt because I am going to love wearing it.  The contest had several specifications for your project: A-Line Skirt, Zipper, Closure, Hem, Lining.  So one good thing about all of these specifications is that this is probably the nicest skirt I've ever made.  
See the plaid matching across the side seam!

I've never lined a skirt (a dress but not a skirt) and I did that here.  Makes it muuccchhh nicer.  I used this tutorial to figure out the lining.  I did vary with the zipper since I didn't have an invisible zipper.  I just hand sewed the lining to the zip at the end of the assembly.  I also made sure the hemline was finished well, I serged the edge of the hem and then sewed lace tape to it and hand stitched the hem lace in place.  One other detail is that I used a vintage metal zipper.  It is bright red and sooo cute.  I always love a good excuse to use a vintage notion. 

Over all I am really glad for making this skirt with the right attention this fabric deserved I know I will wear it a lot this winter and it makes me so happy to rescue some sad moth bitten fabric and turn it into something classic.  Its also nice to pull out all the stops and pay attention to detail with a project- a quick make is sometimes what you need but a make with a little extra TLC makes you feel special when you wear it. 

Here's a few final insides pictures for those who might be curious.  
Vintage zipper here. 
Hemline here. 
These are the moth holes that couldn't be avoided.  I just fused them with tricot interfacing.  You can't detect them from the outside of the garment.  
Well if you made it down to the bottom of this post thanks for reading to the end and happy fall sewing!!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

A Spooky Stash Bust.

I love Halloween and I have loved listening to the NPR show Snap Judgment Spooked V this week.  If you need some spooky ghost stories to get you into the Halloween spirit, you should listen to this program, or if your a big scaredy cat at night like me, then, maybe not!  Anyway today I wasn't sure what was scarier in my real life, a two year old that won't nap or working with a super nice wool fabric I've been hoarding for years?  

My first make here is the Oliver and S Family Reunion Dress made in a size two.  The size two is quite roomy on my 28  month old and the neckline borderlines way too big.  The pattern is a bit fussy but came together just fine.  I am always a little puzzled by the hemline technique of Oliver and S patterns but they always look great if you hand stitch them.  Even though you can't see it I added the five rows of stitching at the hemline because I thought the stiffness might make the dress stand out a bit.  I did this as the pattern suggested and the plus is that I didn't have to hand stitch the hem!  

I used quilting cotton from my stash that I bought two fall's back at Hancock Fabrics.  I also used pearly shell buttons from my stash for the back of the dress and cotton lace around the neck facing.  


It was quite difficult to get clear pictures with all the two year old movement and me just plain not understanding my camera so this is the clearest shot of the back of the dress.  The lace blends in but I still think its pretty sweet. 

The second make is the Oliver and S Forest Path Cape.  I made a size two in this pattern as well.  There are techniques in the pattern to help coax the lining into submission and not peak out from under the top layer and even though I used all suggested techniques the lining still peaks out, so word to the wise, choose a lining that you don't mind seeing peak out of the cape.  The pattern came together easily and I used a tailors ham to iron the shoulder seams and a damp cloth to steam my wool into place while trying not to melt the metallic fibers in this fabric.  

The fabric is a wool blend I've saved literally for years and funny enough had totally forgotten about until I reorganized my fabric recently.  It was a one yard remnant from a nice shop in Kansas City and although I loved it I was scared of using it with the crazy plaid and the loving it so much.  But I saw the Fear Fabric Challenge  over at 110 Creations and decided it was time to cut into that beloved wool.  With just one yard I knew that the best thing would be to use it on the tidbit since she only needs a tidbit of fabric.    

The lining is some poly lining that funny enough I was about to donate when I realized it matched this fabric exactly.  Another stash bust!  The buttons are leather covered and from Hancock Fabrics- I dug them out of their clearance buttons and that paid off since they were originally 3.00 for two and on clearance were .60 for two! 

When I told little bit that I made her a cape (without her seeing it) she said "me not like it."  And that about sums up why it is spooky to sew nice things for a toddler!  But she wore it for these pics and had no complaints so I think it will fly after all.  

I wasn't able to line up the plaid on the shoulder seams but got it lined up in the front where it matters most. This cranberry color is one of my very favorite for fall and I'm really pleased that I got the sewed up finally.  I have to thank Stitch 56 for this pattern.  It was one of two patterns I bought with my winnings from their Alder Shirtdress competition.  Helene provides excellent customer service and is so very nice.  I have nothing but wonderful things to say about her and her online shop.  If I lived in Australia I'd be all over this print.  

Well Happy Halloween tomorrow and may your plastic pumpkin overfloweth with treats!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Another Pintuck Dress

In what has become a longer-than-anticipated project (who knew that things like kids would take up so much time, huh?), I have been working on drafting a girl's dress.  About a year ago I sketched out some ideas for a patten, and then set out to figure out how to make it a reality.  I knew how to sew, but had no experience in drafting, grading, digitizing, etc.  So after many hours/days/weeks/months of reading, learning, experimenting, failing, and re-doing, I finally have not only a dress that looks like my original drawing, but a digital pattern as well.  There are still a number of steps before it will be available for retail, but it's getting closer!  One of those steps will be finding people who are willing to try the pattern and provide feedback, so if you might be interested in helping with that, please let me know in the comments below.  

And here is the latest version of the dress!



 The earlier versions of the dress (here and here) had a band at the bottom that could be used for color blocking.  The bottom band is still included in the pattern, but an option has also been added for a solid skirt piece, like the one shown above. 

Like the previous versions, this dress has pintucks, piping, and a Peter Pan collar.  I haven't tried it yet without the collar, but I think that could look sweet as well.   The back has a button closure (although, as you can see, there are no buttons on this dress yet.  I either didn't buy enough or lost the ones I did buy, so it's pins for today!)


  
My daughter has grown since the floral version I made her earlier this summer, so this dress was a size up, and it seems to fit her really well. Honestly, I don't think it's quite frilly enough for her taste (she's into "princess" dresses these days), but I really love the shape and design.


As I mentioned earlier, there are still some things that need to be done before the pattern is ready for sale, but it's getting much closer!  It's been so much fun (at at times, so frustrating!) to work on, but very satisfying as well. 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Big List 'O Cool Weather Sewing Plans

Every change in seasons results in new sewing plans.  And since our in between seasons here aren't extremely dramatic in temperature change I'm able to ease into sewing new things for me and my children.  I always seem to dream up way more than I'm usually able to accomplish and I'm ok with that, that's part of the sewing fun- dreaming.
   
I thought this year I might make a list of the things I'd love to sew for cooler weather (and that I may or may not actually complete).  It helps me to know what I have in my stash so that I can better utilize fabric and patterns.  I also thought I'd jot down some of the reasoning behind some of my choices, for example, a dress may not be something I need but I may need to stash bust some fabric that is perfect for a dress. I know this list is forever long, but here it is anyway!

Sewing for Me:
Pants/bottoms:

  •  Thurlow Trousers- I've had this pattern for a while and I am going to conquer it, especially since there is this fantastic sewalong to hold my hand.  I am inspired to make them into skinny pants based on this adorable pair.  It seems like its only truly practical to get a great fitting pant I can make since that is what I wear most on a day to day basis.
  • Simplicity 2061 Knit pant- I recently made these and am now obsessed.  I want to change up the pleats to tucks for fun and I love the idea of pseudo pants that feel like pajamas!  I'm really inspired by this pair.   More of these are a must. 
  • I loved wearing my Moss Skirt  last winter with tights and leggings.  I want to make another one with a little more length on it.  I've got some great ikat looking fabric from Fabric Mart I want to use up or maybe some neutral fabric.  
  • I really need new winter pajamas and ugh, I kinda dread making them.  However those quilting cottons absolutely must be busted this year and nothing uses them up like pj pants.  Since I've had success with the knit Simplicity 2061 I think I'll use the included pj pant from it as well.   

Dresses: 
  • Liesl and Co. Bistro Dress.  I recently won some prize money from Stitch 56 for their Alder dress competition and I snapped up this pattern along with one for my 2 year old and I am eager to make it since I've been eyeing sheath dress patterns for a year.  I'm undecided on the fabric to use but might just use some red fabric I thrifted recently.
  • I think I need a winter ready Emery Dress.  After all I made all my fitting changes this summer so it should be just right!  This awesome plaid one is my favorite of all I've perused on the interwebs. 
  • Oh my goodness, have you all seen the gorgeous DVF wrap dresses popping up on sewing blogs lately?  I really should make one.  After all I bought my first wrap dress this summer and have LOVED wearing it, sooooo comfy and soooo well fitting.  So I have this Simplicity wrap dress pattern, now I have to figure out what kind of fabric works well with it and how to make it look good!  Realistically I'll probably make this for the spring.
  • This dress has been in my head a while, especially the one with piping and a contrasting panel.  Might just have to move this up the list.
  • I also really wanted to mash up my Alder and Archer and make a long sleeve Alder like the one on the one on Grainline blog.  I know I'd wear that a ton.
Tops: 
  • Realistically I mostly wear pants and tops, so it only makes sense to make more tops!  I am trying to figure out a good winter casual top pattern and find it a challenge.  I'm really considering this one, it looks promising.  I love the idea of raglan sleeves and the comfort of knits.  
  • I have worn my two Archers to death this summer and spring and they are true work horses in my wardrobe.  It seems like they should be at the very top of my sewing list.  I believe a flannel one is in order and maybe some gorgeous voile I've been saving. 

Jackets/Coats: 
  • Simplicity 1325 I am super obsessed with wool jackets right now and I think its because I've got some beautiful wools in my stash that are ready to be worn.  Also I find outerwear kind of a challenge to make.  I love this one for the cut.  
  • Simplicity 1688 Although I think this jacket is supposed to be more of a spring design I have a lovely cobalt blue cut of linen that I'd love to see turn into this jacket.  I love the simplicity of this jacket and it would be awesome to try to make the striped version.
  • I found this awesome pattern at my Mom's when visiting this summer and she had always planned on making it.  I found tear outs from her women's magazines showing her inspiration for it.  She never made it and the bust measurements are the same as mine- I am totally making this!  It seems like some kind of legacy I should fulfill for her!  I think I'll make the longer version first.  The instructions don't include a lining, only facings so I'll need to figure out how to add a lining to facings.  Anyone, please share your resources for doing that!  
Also can you believe that she bought 6 patterns for 1.00???? I definitely want to do a Chanel inspired version but like I said, I'm gonna have to read a few more good resources for that!  When I lived in Kansas City I went to an estate sale for a man who was a tailor and got some amazing plaid wool that I think would make the perfect long version of this coat.  

Sewing for my children: 

Tops: 
  • I want to make the Ayashe blouse for both my 2 year old and 6 year old.  I have the pattern traced and cut out now to cut the fabric and sew them!  I'm always on the look out for cute long sleeve tops for my girls for winter and find it a bit of a challenge to find ones I like.  I really love this woven Boden top and the 6 year old gave a thumbs up to the one with birds.  
  • The Flashback Skinny Tee has been a tried and true for me but I've found that as my eldest has grown that the fit just isn't quite right.  I think that its a bit too skin tight on her and her measurements aren't out of the norm for a child of her age.  So rethinking this one for her- will need to make some adjustments.  It fits the 2 year old just fine. 
Bottoms/Skirts:
  • If I make the Ayashe blouse, I have to make the Ayashe Skirt since I bought the two together at Pink Chalk Fabrics.  
  • Pants for my children is an area where I've always been at a quandary, they don't want anything they have to button or zip, they need to be durable and a dark color that absorbs/masks stains.  I don't really want to make a bunch of leggings for them (booorrriinnngg) but I also don't want to spend a ton of time making pants with a fly and button that no one will appreciate but me.  I've used the Parsley Pants in the past with great success.  But like the flashback tee I find the more my child grows the less I like the fit.  The fit is ok, but I really would rather they be closer to perfect so as not to appear too "my Mom made these and now I have to wear them."   
Dresses: 
  • I love McCall 6781 for both my girls.  It reminds me of this Oliver and S dress and I love the way you can use a contrasting fabric for the hem and neckline inset.  
  • I also like McCall's 6786 for my eldest.   I usually like things that look more on the side of young child but think this one may be worth checking out.
  • Of course the ever popular Geranium dress will make a few appearances, especially since I am still on my mission to stash bust my quilting cottons.
  • McCall's 6982 is cut out for my eldest and she's given it the thumbs up.
  • I love Simplicity 2157 for my 2 year old.  I have the pattern already cut out.  I have a goal of making taffeta dresses for my girls this Christmas and I'll probably use this pattern for the 2 year old's taffeta dress.  
Coats/Jackets:
  • The Oliver and S Forest Path Cape was the other pattern I picked up from Stitch 56 and I plan on making it for my 2 year old.  It uses so little fabric and I have a yard of beautiful wool I've been holding on to for a few years now for just such a pattern as this!  Its a gorgeous burgundy and pink plaid wool from a quilt shop in Kansas City and was never enough for a pattern for me but is perfect for the 2 year old. 
  • I made this Simplicity Coat for my then 5 year old last year and it was adorable.  here's the link.  I might have to make it for her again this year since she loved it too.  Again I have to whine about the big pattern companies putting patterns out of print far too soon for me!
  • I have a goal to draft a coat for my 2 year old but I am doubtful of completing it any time soon. I tried a couple of times already and it-was-huge...back to the drawing board. 
I know this list is impossibly long....and unrealistic, I'll probably only get to a quarter of it but I like to put all this down to be able to go back to as I work through my stash.  

So how do you organize your sewing plans?  Or do you organize your sewing plans?  I'd be interested to know!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Revisiting Simplicity

One of my sewing goals for this year is to revisit pant making with the thought that I'd finally figure out how to fit them properly to my body.  Here enters Simplicity 2061- a pattern that requires very little fitting!  I made the view without cuffs and used a knit from my stash purchased at Hancock fabrics.  The pattern was super easy having only three pattern pieces and sewing with knits is always so forgiving since there are no seams to finish.  A truly fast make if there ever was one! 

     The top is Simplicity 1366 and I searched sewing blogs (in particular this one  and this one) and Pattern Review for versions of this top and any hints on the fit.  I decided on a size 10 which I think I just guessed at for my size since my bust measures 34.  The fit is great for a boxy relaxed top.  I almost made the size 8 but thought it might alter the boxy look of the blouse too much.  One thing I love about this top is where it hits on the hipline.  Its a little higher than some of my other loose tops which I think makes it more flattering. Its an incredibly easy and simple pattern and I am already planning another one.     
     This fabric was the DEVIL to sew, I tell ya, crazy uncooperative.  Its kind of a wonder that it looks as good as it does here because it was all kinds of wonky to cut and sew.  Its a salvaged/failed maxi skirt that I made last winter and just couldn't part with.  I love the feel and look of this fabric and just didn't want to waste it on a failed skirt.  Its thrifted so I really have no idea about the content and type of fabric it is but its not synthetic and incredibly soft and I loved the texture.  

I made this outfit with a few things in mind.  Number 1, I will be heading off to visit Hanni soon and really wanted knit pants to wear while flying.  Number 2, Fabric Mart is having a sew-along contest where you are to make something inspired by art. and Number 3, I am still trying to bust my stash. So as far as these makes go there are a lot of win-wins here.  In case you're interested the Fabric Mart contest asks that you be inspired by art for your make and my inspiration came from a Mary Cassatt painting called Autumn.  I love Cassatt and drew inspiration from the colors in her painting otherwise I probably would have gone with a boring black top for this ensemble.

 One final thing, my Mom came to visit for my eldest's birthday and helped me line up all the stripes for these pants which I REALLY appreciate.  She has always been so sweet to go along with my making obsessions when she visits and for that I will always be grateful to her.  So good to have a Mom who jumps right in on whatever interests you, such a good friend and Mom.
 I think she and I were both incredibly surprised at how well the pants turned out.  I haven't worn knit pants since junior high when stirrup pants were a thing...anyone remember those?  In case you have no idea what stirrup pants are here's a link to remind you how to style them.
So here's to the new, modern stirrup pants that feel like a pajama but I hope look like a step up from them!  And a top pattern that helped rescue my fabric from ugly maxi skirt status.


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Bubble, Bubble

Toil and Trouble.  Some days, that's exactly what staying at home with a three year old feels like. 

 
This is the first year that my daughter is old enough to be excited about Halloween and wearing a costume.  About a month ago we started asking her what she wanted to be for Halloween, and each time it was a different answer:  Cinderella.  A cat.  Queen Elsa.  The only rule was that once I bought the fabric, she could not change her mind.  So when she finally gave the same answer for an entire week, "a witch", we finally went ahead with the costume.

I have to say, I am really, REALLY proud that I completed this project a full three weeks before Halloween, and not at 1 a.m. the night before (or, more realistically, at 3 in the afternoon before Trick or Treating).


 For the pattern I used the Chole Dress pattern from Violette Field Threads.  I used the same pattern in August to make a flower girl dress, and decided that I was going to be brave (crazy?) enough to try it again for a witch's outfit.  And fortunately for my sanity, it was sooo much easier this time around.  The pattern calls for three layers in the skirt:  a layer of chiffon, a layer of netting, and a layer of tulle.  After struggling with the chiffon in the flower girl dress, I decided not to use it for this dress.  I didn't think the chiffon added much to the shape or the look of the skirt (at least for the tea length version), and so it didn't seem worth it to mess with it this time.  So for the three layers I used netting, tulle, and then a Halloween mesh fabric from Joann's for the top layer. 



Two quick notes about this pattern:  First, the picture on the patten cover shows a much, much fuller skirt on the tea length version.   After making it twice, I have never been able to achieve that look.  So I don't know if I'm missing something, or if there were extra layers beyond what the instructions call for that were added to those dresses.  Secondly, the pattern says that a lining is "optional", but both dresses required lining so as not to be really see-through.  So if anybody else has had any experience making this dress, I'd love to hear about it. 

Here's the back of the dress:


And voila, a perfect witch's dress for a three year old who likes to be fancy!