Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Floral McCalls 7351, a Fabricville Special

It's the end of MeMadeMay, and it's been a month I've enjoyed. Even if I didn't take many daily photos at all, I was wearing me-mades and enjoying others' participation. I realized that I wore most things only once, with only a couple of tops making a repeat appearance -- and I still have things that I haven't worn yet. So I don't really need this month to get me wearing more of my own makes, but it has helped a lot in pinpointing what I reach for most.

And that's usually a dress, and usually colourful.

All photos taken in the lovely Shakepearean Gardens in Stratford

What can I say? If I have a style at all, it would have to be described as fairly eclectic. I like one-off outfits that don't really match with each other ;)

Please visit the Fabricville Blog to see more about this pattern & fabric!

My latest dress is a shining example of this. It's my latest project for the Fabricville Bloggers Network, and it has been delayed somewhat - ironically - by my trip to Chicago and the Pattern Review Weekend! But I powered down when I got home and learned a lot of new things with my first ever shirtdress, McCalls 7351. It helped that McCall's is hosting a Shirtdress Sewalong - lots of tips and support on their blog and the FB group associated with it.

I am really pleased with this dress! It fits well - I used size 14 at neck and shoulders and graded out to 16 by bust & waist. I do feel like it's a teeny bit big at the waist but it is super comfortable so I can live with that! :) Next time I might make it just halfway between 14 & 16 -- a modified size 15, if you will, haha.

I love the way the neck fits and the flowiness of the skirt. It's a really lovely thing to wear. It's drafted well and it includes pockets, always a plus in my books. I had the perfect buttons in my stash, I was so delighted to finally use them!

I decided that this would be my year of shirtdresses, and chose this pattern to start with as it came recommended for beginning shirtdress sewists on PatternReview. I received it from Fabricville along with the beautiful cotton - an exclusive print made for Fabricville in three colourways, and quite irresistible!

The dress was straightforward, although I did make a few changes to the construction process as I went:

  • Instead of attaching the yoke as in the instructions, I used the 'burrito technique', or as it is called in my trusty Readers Digest Complete Guide to Sewing, the 'couture technique'. It worked great and the yoke looks lovely all enclosed. 

  • I watched a Professor Pincushion video to help me understand how to attach the front bands. I really mean it when I say I've never made a shirt dress (or any kind of button down shirt) before.

There's not that much more to say about this pattern, as it went together logically and step by step. It's a solid one! It took me quite a while - a few afternoons and nights working on it, going slowly - it seemed like a lengthy, drawn out process while doing it, but I love the result. I am sure the next time I make a similar dress it will feel much easier!

As to my summer of shirtdresses...I've already cut and been sewing away at my next one, the Sally Shirtdress by Serendipity Studio, a pattern I picked up at the pattern swap on PR Weekend - thanks to whoever let it go!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Pattern Review Weekend 2016: Chicago!

It's been a week since my first Pattern Review Weekend - which won't be the last! PatternReview is a long-standing sewing community, and one that I joined early on when I started sewing again. I enjoy the relaxed vibe and all the learning opportunities it provides. So when the 15th anniversary celebration in Chicago was announced I knew I had to go.

Deepika's iPhone snap of us all at PR Weekend

It was so much fun. Lots of fantastic people, good food and of course fabric shopping! It's the first time I've ever been to Chicago, so I really enjoyed the visit and the chance to get a good look at the city. We were staying downtown, so I got to walk along the river and see the Bean, and I took a short busman's holiday to the Harold Washington Library as well (in company with one of the other lovely ladies at PR Weekend). I'm glad I got to take a look; there is more about that visit on my book blog if you are also interested in libraries.

Many attendees made red jeans (that's what sparked my own Eleonores) and we were quite eye-catching as a flock of fabric shoppers :)  It was easy to pick one another out in a crowd.

The first morning we had a fascinating panel of Indie pattern designers -- Janet Pray, Emilie Fournier from Jalie, Jen Beeman from Grainline, and Angela Wolf -- talking to us about their work, and dispensing advice to those thinking of designing, which essentially seemed to be: know how to draft & design really well, and be prepared for lots and lots of hard work. I was really intrigued by all of their stories and the patterns they were selling as well. I feel like I know a little more about what my favourite indie designers are doing as they put out more patterns for us to try!

We also had a pattern swap that day, which I enjoyed...obviously....

I did buy about 10 of these...
 And we held an accessories contest. I made my first pair of gloves ever, using Butterick 6264. One of the challenges in the contest was to incorporate the number 15 in celebration of the anniversary. I immediately had an idea for a decorative motif using the roman numerals for 15, XV. And I used scraps of a deep red ponte from this Vogue 9022, along with a contrast leopard print from this Butterick 5923. This was the result: I  call these my Roman Gloves.

And luckily enough, I won one of the prizes for my gloves! I now own a Curve Runner, a cool measuring device that I'm sure will come in handy in future.

Deepika's picture of the 5 accessories contest winners
And then of course we had the shopping. I restrained myself somewhat, as the US exchange is pretty terrible for us Canadians right now, but couldn't help buying a few things! Most of my Chicago fabrics came from Vogue Fabrics - a huge and fabulous store. I also picked up the latest Threads and BurdaStyle there so that we had some reading material on the way home. I got one piece at the tiny, crowded Chicago Yarn & Button near our hotel as well.

And I picked up many bits of embroidery project materials as I went...oh, the possibilities.

The best part of the weekend was meeting all these fabulous women who I have only known online up til now. So great to talk sewing with people who are actually interested ;) Can't wait til next year's PR Weekend.

I'll leave you with a photo that isn't exactly sewing related but was one of my favourite street view snaps I took on the walk over to Chicago Yarn & Button. I feel like it says everything.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Me Made May, Part 2 (with moving pictures)

My second update for #MeMadeMay2016! I have been terrible at taking photos of my outfits this month, and apparently I've also been terrible at updating here or on flickr or social media at all, really.

The only thing I have been good at is wearing Me Mades every day this month.

Over the last 10 days, I've once again worn some old favourites, mostly dresses, but also some new ones, like my True Bias Sutton Blouse and my red Jalie Eleonore pull-on jeans -- both of these went to Chicago with me for the recent Pattern Review weekend (more on that soon). I also wore the Colette Moneta, the Maria Denmark Kristen Kimono tee (again - it is a staple) and 2 Kwik Sews - the rose tunic and my reliable fave black tee, KS3559.

In my normal non-travelling life, I've worn the Fabricville Agatha Christie dress, my red floral McCalls knit dress, an old make - a New Look shift dress, and last but most certainly not least, last spring's New Look floral frock. This is a favourite because it is so extremely bright and cheery, it fits well, and I love the distinctive collar.

I also love it because when I am wearing it, I don't exactly blend in. This was especially in evidence one day this week when, in one of those frequent weird #twinnings, a large number of coworkers showed up to work in black and white, prompting a photo session. See if you can pick me out...

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Jalie's Eleonore Jeans

Pattern Review weekend is nearly here! Eeeek! As it is my first time going, I'm feeling pretty excited about spending a weekend with other people who are as obsessed by sewing as I am... and I'm sure my non-sewing friends will be glad for a break :)

As part of #PRW2016 the communal pattern chosen was the Jalie Eleonore pull-on jean. Since it was easily available in pdf form, I quickly bought it and went shopping. The other element of this group project was to make these jeans in red. So when I found a cotton/linen/spandex mix on the sale table (for $3/m!) I bought it.

Then I washed it, and found out why it was on the sale bled and bled. 8 washes later, I said good enough, and will just wash these alone by hand every time I need to in future! Other than that, the fabric is great - nice stretch and a nice linen-y feel.

this is such a weird angle! I don't know how my leg seems to have folded like a paper doll...

This pattern is really straightforward. Easy to trace out - I used size X for the body, and then curved into a smaller W at the waist -- my inseam is so short it ended up at size P! But it was easy to adjust. You might note that these pants relaxed a little since I sewed them, and now I think I might have to hem them up by another 3/4" or so...maybe I will.

The pockets were interesting - I tried out a few of my Janome's decorative stitches for the first time. I went with the starburst stitch, even if it doesn't stand out much due to the matching thread. That's okay because no-one's going to get a look look at them anyhow...except for you and the internet. I had to topstitch a double line as I was too far from the edge the first go- in this case it is great that the thread blends in.

These were really comfy to wear, and they are really fun, too. Eye-searing red for the win! I would never have tried a pair of pants if not for the impetus of PR Weekend to influence my pattern purchase. And I certainly wouldn't have chosen tomato red for my first try :)

But I love them and I see how I will get a lot of wear out of these. I am going to make others in other colours -- I can't wear RTW capris in the summer as the length of them makes them look more like flood pants on me, so now I have the power to make some of my own! Not too bad for my first try at wearable-in-public pants. I'll wear them in public -- with long shirts but still. A change for me!

random shoe shot

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Me Made May thus far

I've been consciously wearing Me Mades every day this month so far...but haven't really been taking pictures of my daily outfits, except for the newest item of course! 

I'm enjoying going through my closet but just can't rustle up the energy to take new photos every day. Added to that, I've just had a terrible haircut which I am hoping grows out quickly, so that kind of adds to my photo resistance!

In any case, Me Made May this year has been a chance to view my own makes and decide what I feel like wearing, what I don't, and get a sense of what I usually reach for first. It's been really helpful that way. One definite lack in my wardrobe is me-made bottoms - I have a few skirts, and I now have 2 pairs of pants - one that is only for house wear (my SBCC Pinot pants) which are stalwart weekend wardrobe picks, and now my new Jalie Eleonore pull-on stretch jeans...soon to be debuted here.

Other than that, this is what I've been wearing so far, all with links to previously snapped photos:

Pinot Pants

Zsalya top

Kwik Sew rose tunic + Jalie Jeans

Maria Denmark's Kristen Kimono Tee (a definite go-to)

Sewaholic Cambie

No pattern elastic waist skirt - made from a thrifted remnant & never blogged

Butterick retro flowered blouse

Purple soft cardi

And my newest Sutton Blouse!

How has everyone's Me Made May been going? I have been enjoying other posts and pictures, and hope that it's been fun so far for all particpating.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Truly Biased about this Sutton Blouse!

I spent some time sewing this weekend, getting a few projects's looking at you, PR Weekend red Eleonore pull-on jeans! But that's a discussion for later...

Today I want to talk about this True Bias Sutton blouse that I started and finished in the last couple of days, and immediately wore today after hemming it late last night.

I've had the Sutton Blouse pattern for a little while now -- I first began to covet it after the Sew Mama Sew Super Online Sewing Match revealed a whole bunch of inspirational versions. I traced my pdf pattern a few weeks back now, without noting the size I was tracing -- I didn't feel like getting the pdf pages out again tonight, so I'll just tell you that I think it was a size 12 or 14 that I chose, and I did grade out at the hips about an inch. This fits me very well.

The Sutton Blouse requires a drapey, fluid fabric, and it uses French seams for nearly all the finishing. It looks gorgeous inside and out. But for these reasons, it is noted as an intermediate level sewing project.

I was using a polyester faille (I think it's faille; I know it is poly) which I found at the thrift store a few weeks ago. When I saw it I immediately thought of this pattern and knew it was time to try it. And finally I got around to it this weekend. The fabric is perfect because it is very fluid indeed - it doesn't take to pinning and pressing all that well, and was a bit of a bear to sew, being so slidey-aroundy. But slow and sure always works, and I was lucky with it, as I said on twitter earlier:

Anyhow, the pattern is fairly simple, with a front, a back and a yoke, along with a bias strip to finish the neckline. I did not have a large enough piece of fabric to fit the bias strip as shown in the pattern layout, so just cut 1" bias strips from the shorter bit left over after the main pieces were cut, stitched them together and finished the neckline with that strip. As the neckline is finished before sewing the front together, and trimmed after attaching, that process worked just fine.

After I'd cut all these, I had a long strip left over from the edge of the fabric, so just stitched the two layers together to make a scarf that I can wear with this blouse or separately. The little bit of fabric that was left over was also made into bias tape, so every bit of this fabric was used!

sutton blouse worn with scarf

As everyone who has made this has mentioned, the finishing details are marvellous. French seams  - which I used for the first time making this project, and now love; very clear instructions with illustrated steps, with a nice finishing step for the uneven front and back & side slit. It went together logically and really effectively. The only real changes I made were to lengthen the front by 1/2" and to shorten the back by 1/2" plus deepen the back hem slightly -- it was too long for my frame at first and made me look a bit oddly proportioned, but just taking up that inch at the back made all the difference.

Love that back yoke pleat

I also added in some black trim from my stash into the front yoke seams. I thought it would break up the pattern a bit, both to give the eye a focus point, and to mitigate any wobbly pattern match across that seam.

Here's the full shape of it on me, with black trim effect

And I wore it today, and loved it. It is comfortable to wear, but also feels dressier than a tunic or tee. It was perfect for work, as not only did I feel dressed up enough but the neckline (which I didn't change at all) does not gape and is plenty low enough for my tastes. Many others have lowered the neckline, but I usually end up shortening between shoulder and bust on many patterns, so it works just fine for me.

This is a wonderful pattern - I can see making a handful more to have in every colour! I really like the fit and the relaxed yet dressy style. I like it with the scarf added and I like it by itself. I'm now biased in favour of a wardrobe of True Bias Suttons.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Me Made May 2016 Pledge

And it's time for Me Made May once again! I almost didn't sign up this year, but at the last minute I decided that I would -- as long as I don't have to take a daily picture I am in :) I like to photograph some of the things I wear and then post a round-up weekly so will attempt to do that again this year. If I can.

One of the things that I am aiming for this year is to examine my me-mades, now that I have so many more than I used to, and figure out which ones I actually end up wearing most. I have so many patterns and so much fabric in my stash, I'd like to figure out what my most-likely-to-be-worn projects might be and make those things next.

So here is my #MMMay16 pledge... are you taking part too?

'I, Melwyk of MagpieMakery and @sewmelwyk at twitter, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '16. I endeavour to wear at least one me-made item each day for the duration of May 2016, and to use MMM to identify the me-made pieces that I gravitate to this month, to help me make better sewing choices ahead!'