Saturday, June 28, 2014

A Top By Any Other Name

This month, for the Make A Garment a Month challenge, I decided to make a new knit tunic. I chose a pattern that I discovered on Craftsy, by a company called Modkid -- I didn't know about this company before because it is almost entirely cute kids' patterns, which I don't need and generally don't pay any attention to!

But there was an appealing adult pattern, called the Melanie Misses Top and Dress. How could I possibly resist a pattern with my name on it, literally? I didn't. I bought it and downloaded it, knowing exactly the piece of knit in the stash that I'd love to use for it.

It all went together like a dream once I got started, finally. The fabric I wanted to use was perfect, and I had just enough -- it was a knit panel print, and I just squeezed on the main body of the pattern -- so close that the inside of the hem hides the edges of the print where I was a tiny bit over the line ;) Finally a use for that odd panel! The sides are in my current favourite colour, mustardy yellow, and a very soft knit. The gathered  pocket on the side panels really sold this one to me -- I love pockets, and was willing to give this one a try despite the fact that those slouchy pockets would sit right on my widest parts. I think it turned out fine, though, it doesn't draw any undue attention to the area, and they are really cute.

The pdf is really well made; you can just tape together the pages for the pieces you need, which aren't numerous anyway. The instructions are clear, with lots of diagrams for visual assistance, too. I had to take out a few inches for length, or even the tunic would have been a dress...but I am only 5'2-ish so that is nothing new. Just FYI if you are also short! The hem swings out but not too much -- allowing it to skim the lower half but not swamp it.

The construction is pretty straightforward, too; the only element I might change if I make it again is to bind the neck rather than turning it under and stitching down as per the instructions. On this make it worked well, and unless I made a contrast binding from the yellow I didn't have a choice as I had no more of the main fabric left at all. I like the plain edge on the neck with this print, and it makes for a quick finish at the end.

The only minor change I made was to do a double row of hem stitching on the pocket panels, since the two layers are folded up together and I wanted to be sure they would be sturdy enough to hold when I tossed things into them.

Front view, simple lines.

Back view. Is this lattice print useful
for  garden camouflage?

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Butterick 5716: Wrapped Up in the 1990s

I found this blouse pattern at a church sale a few months ago, when I scored a whole bag of 15 vintage-y patterns -- in my size -- for $1.00. There are about 6 dresses in there that are on my to-make-someday list, although I hadn't planned on making this blouse so quickly after finding this pattern.

But I was tidying up the stash and came across a length of floral polyester that I like to call my "Ukrainian grandmother" print, which I bought just because I liked it, ages ago. There was just enough for a blouse, and I immediately thought of this one -- the combination of print and style seemed right. Fortunately for me, this really is "fast & easy". The part of construction that took me the longest was deciding how to finish the sleeve facings.

I made View A in size 14 (my envelope is size 12-14-16). I was worried that the crossover might need a snap after I was done, but if anything, it is a far higher neckline than I expected. There's room in the pattern for shoulder pads (not surprising in a pattern with copyright 1990), but I didn't make too much of an adjustment because I thought that the depth of the sleeve would be fine as it was, without shoulder pads of course.

I cut it and created the very interesting pleated neckline, then stitched the side pieces on, and attached the whole front complete with finished neckline/collar to the also-pieced back. Hemmed it, and then simply hemmed and hawed over the sleeve finish. I left it for a day or two to consider some options.

The problem was that the sleeve facing is quite deep, and I didn't want a line of topstitching 2 inches into the sleeve. But I also didn't want the facings to flop around. I didn't want to trim them because with the loose fit of the sleeve I wanted the glimpse of sleeve interior to match the exterior. So I finally decided to fuse them down with some Steam-A-Seam. I tested it first and it didn't affect the feel of the fabric so I finished them off, finally, last night. And then wore it today!

It is great. It fits so nicely and nothing gapes or pulls. It is very comfortable and yet has some nice design features. I'd love to make it again in a different kind of fabric -- not a polyester that is inclined to static, although I do love the look of this one. I can imagine it with colour/print blocking or in a heavier fabric for fall.

Here's what I looked like in today's new blouse.

All in clover

Full view: the fit is loose yet not sloppy. I might take in a little
right under the arms on the next try though. Maybe I did need to
adjust just a wee bit more for not including giant shoulder pads...

See how the pleats come around the neck from centre back.
A crisper fabric would hold the pleats more cleanly but I like
 how this one is soft and drapy as it is.

I enjoyed making this and enjoyed wearing it too. I'll have to try more from that grab-bag of old patterns! 

Friday, June 20, 2014

Little Black Dress: the Zsalya by Kate & Rose

I had the chance to go to the opening of Hay Fever at the Stratford Festival this week, and it was perfect timing for me, giving me an opportunity to wear my new little black dress, the Zsalya (we all know events are mainly about what we can wear, right?) I picked up this pattern during Sew Indie month, from Kate & Rose, a pattern company totally new to me. I'm definitely a fan now. I like her sensibility, and the touches of folk-inspired design that she incorporates. It almost makes me wish I could embroider as well as sew :)

I cut the pattern during Sew Indie month, but didn't finish it until last week. That was entirely because of my schedule, not any problems with understanding the pattern. The Zsalya is an easy pattern; with no closures, but a clever yoke that allows you to slip it over your head but also have it fitted across the shoulders and bust. It's loose and drapey in the body, which I was unsure would suit me, but I liked it in the end. Here's the full finished view.

Taking a quick photo before heading out. The funny way
I'm standing means that the gathers aren't spread out properly.
Also, you can't see that I added pockets -- of course!
This is the way the dress falls freely. I'm carrying
 a shawl because I find that theatres can be cold places.
The construction of this dress is pretty easy, but the yoke is an area you have to be careful with. Kate & Rose's pattern gives you two options for the yoke: the clean finish or the quick & dirty version. I decided that I'd go with the clean finish, which means that you sew the body pieces to one side of the yoke then enclose that seam beneath the other yoke piece and topstitch. It wasn't as "clean" as it was supposed to be, I'm sure -- I was using a black polyester from my stash, which, while pretty, was very slippery and slidey and was heavy enough that it pulled out of place a lot. I had massive pinning going on ;) Even so, I really like this finish, it's smooth and looks nice inside and out. I might use the quick & dirty version if I make a more casual tunic, but for this dress I wanted it all finished nicely. And I wanted to follow the pattern closely to get a true feel for it. The only change I made was adding side-seam pockets, which I often do when the design lines will allow for it. 

Back: I need to stop pulling my arms up every time I get a back picture
taken. The yoke doesn't pull, it sits quite evenly and comfortably.

Front: You can really see the nature of the fabric in these close-ups. It has a
soft & flowy drape, with the faint floral that I liked when I saw it. But it's also
 kind of strangely heavy, and the feel of it kept making me think of an oil slick!

The sleeve finish is lovely, such a nice touch. And it has
a gathered sleeve cap too.
Did I mention that I wore this dress for its first outing to the theatre? Here was the curtain before the show -- pretty stunning, like everything that Stratford does. The costumes in this show were amazing, and it was a light and enjoyable play. I was perfectly comfortable in my new Zsalya!

Waiting for Hay Fever to start

Here I am in the theatre lobby, sorry for the blur,
it was taken with my phone in poor light ;)
This was a great pattern, that I can see using again in a different fabric for a more casual dress, and also making up in the tunic view. It's easy to follow, with clear instructions, and the pdf tiles went together easily when I was taping it up. Kate & Rose now have paper patterns available and it is tempting...I'm also looking at the Giselle dress, with the various lovely makes up around the web lately...

Monday, June 16, 2014

Sewalongs, contests, and themes, Oh My!

I've had some fun joining in on projects and contests lately, but have been feeling like I just wanted to sew what I wanted whenever I wanted. I have a long backlist of things I want to try.

But. Pattern Review has just posted the rules & regs for their next contest, the Pattern Stash. Essentially, you can sew from any pattern that you've had in your stash pre-2014 which you've never used before. I have a basket that I keep my "I want to sew next" patterns in and it's beginning to overflow.

So I have jumped in and signed up for this July contest. It doesn't start until July 1, and there are no pre-contest preparations allowed in this one, except for choosing your patterns and pre-washing your fabric. No muslins, no pattern fitting or prep ahead of time. Just wait for July 1, then GO!

I've made a couple of skirts in May, and really want this to be my summer of skirts. So I'll be sorting through all of my older patterns to make a wishlist for July... and of course, I'll keep sewing in June! I'm working on a couple of projects I have cut out, and still want to finish tracing off the SBCC Tonic Tee and make it before the end of the month. I now have even more incentive to finish it up!

What about you? Do you ever feel contested, challenged, sewalongingly overwhelmed? Or do you just join in for fun? This is something I've always been aware of in the book blogging world; there are always numerous "reading challenges" and readalongs going on at all times. I've had no problem picking and choosing with those, but I'm newer to the sewing blogosphere and so everything looks bright and shiny to me! Hopefully I'll get to the same level of equilibrium as I have as a book blogger, someday :)

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Sew Indie Month: the Repercussions

I really enjoyed Sew Indie Month. When I first noticed the announcement, I thought it was an interesting idea, but intended to sew along by maybe making one thing. But then I started poring over the websites of the 21 participating companies, and seeing so many intriguing and tempting designs.

I ended up downloading a number of free patterns, and even buying a few, too! Plus, I've added even more possibilities to my wish list. Here's what I discovered this month.


My favourite photo from MeMadeMay / Sew Indie Month
Me in my Kristen Kimono tee along with a very weird shadow!

Partially Made:

Bought & Not Made (Yet):

Free Downloads Not Made (Yet):

Tutorials I Want to Try:

New Patterns I Now Covet:

I think it's clear that I love dresses :)

What about you? Did you Sew Indie in May? Have you tried any of these patterns or tutorials? Any recommendations?

Friday, June 6, 2014

Seamster's Rose Hip Tights

This is a new pattern I purchased from Seamster (previously known as Disparate Disciplines) since a) I love tights and b) you can make your own tights?!?
photo from Seamster Patterns

I love this pattern. L.O.V.E. It is so well explained, so well drafted, quick to make, and so much fun. The PDF is designed so that you only need to use the pieces for the view you want to make, and the instructions are clear, with good illustrations. This is important because attaching the foot to the leg can be a bit confusing at first go. I adore the fact that there's a gusset in this design, it makes the tights really comfortable to wear all day long. There is also an extremely helpful chart to help you measure stretch (I printed out just this page to take to the fabric store with me) so that you get the right kind of stretchiness to ensure success.

I made my first pair from a swath of leftover knit in my stash, just trying it out to get the construction process down. This fabric was from a dress I made last year, and the crossgrain stretch was right but the lengthwise stretch wasn't as much as it should have been according to the pattern. Fortunately for me, I have very short legs so that wasn't a dealbreaker, they still fit -- but Mari suggests lengthening the legs (there are two marked lengthen/shorten lines to choose from)  if your amount of stretch isn't high enough, so that they will go all the way up, and I would suggest you definitely do so if you make some -- mine were just long enough with the low level of stretch in them.

Here's the trial go, in a crazy fabric that makes me feel like Dorothy is about to drop a house on me:

But look how nicely the pattern lines up!
Can you see the seam that is on TOP of the foot
so that you aren't walking on a seam all day?
These are so much fun
 And then here is the second pair I made, in a much more realistic choice of fabric that I will actually wear often. I found this fabric serendipitously, and it is simply perfect. Just the right weight and stretch -- these actually feel like RTW tights, but better.

You can't even see where the foot joins with this fabric

I have another pair cut out, in a lace fabric, and am eyeing a mustard yellow print for the next pair (my favourite colour right now). I'd like to make some leggings, too. Mari gives some ideas on make the shift to leggings with a nice edging, and one of the options is also a 'thigh high', but I'm not sure about that...

Anyway, I highly recommend this pattern if you love tights like I do. It will add endless scope for the imagination to your wardrobe!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Sewing Up some Indie Love

Along with Me Made May, I also enjoyed Sewing Indie Month all through May. Organized by Mari at Seamster Patterns, it highlighted a handful of indie companies, some of whom were new to me (including Mari herself).

I had a lot of fun scrolling through all their websites and enjoying all the inspiration. I bought Seamster's Rose Hip Tights pattern and love it. I've already made 2 pairs and have cut out another -- and will review it properly soon. I downloaded By Hand London's free Polly Top (fully reviewed earlier), and realized that I could enter the Sewing Indie Month's "Indie Love Affair" contest by putting these together with a skirt. I pondered a few different patterns, but ended up going with Sew Caroline's tutorial on making a paper bag skirt. I wasn't sure how this would look on me, but I thought it was cute, and just right for the navy linen which I had left from making the Polly Top.

I must say, I really enjoyed the great instructions for all three of these garments, and how much fun it was to put them together into one outfit. Without further ado, here is my complete outfit made from three different Indie companies.

Polly Top tucked into Paper Bag skirt with
Rose Hip Tights. I like to call this my Linen Blend.

Back view. I really like that ruffle!
What's that over there?
Closeup of the wonderful fabric I found for my
Rose Hip Tights. A perfect stretch.

Pondering the next Indie project...

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Me Made May, final wrap up

Here I am, finishing off my MeMadeMay in June! I was so busy this weekend -- working, going to baby showers, and so forth -- that I didn't have time to tie it all up. The good news is that I did wear all Me Mades for the rest of May and these first two days of June, too, for good measure :)

Monday: Grey New Look linen dress
Tuesday: Mustard yellow skirt, blouse & obi
Wednesday: Mild animal print dress
Thursday: Bright blue Vogue tee
Friday: Maria Denmark tee + the best shadow ever ;)
Saturday: Vogue pink woven tee, very old and unblogged!

I've really loved participating in my first MeMadeMay this year -- although I found taking pictures to be a bit of a chore, it was fun looking at my wardrobe and putting it together differently. Even people who are not sewists were interested to see what I would show up in each day. 

I also "met" a lot of new online sewing enthusiasts through twitter and flickr during the month, which was fun. Seeing everyone else's photos really builds the enthusiasm for making new things in new ways. Combined as May was with Sewing Indie Month, I feel like I've had a sewing overdose this month (in a good way of course) and it has been pretty much all I've thought about! 

I've learned that I'm missing some elements of a wardrobe -- mostly pants -- which I don't/haven't made. And I've learned that some styles look better on me than others -- a benefit of all that photography! It was certainly interesting to spend the whole month thinking of one's own sewing output.

Thanks go out to Zoe at So Zo, What Do You Know? for hosting such a great project and making May very entertaining indeed.