Wednesday, January 4, 2017

A New Year Turtle and Back Seam Dream




Happy New Year!!

Have you been perusing all the sewing blog "best of 2016 makes" or "new year sewing plan" posts like I have?  Its been fun scrolling through them and there is just so.much.inspiration to be gleaned from them.  Also there is a "make nine sewing items this year" or something like that on instagram that keeps popping up in my Pinterest board- that's pretty fun too!  All the sewey plans, so exciting!

So raise your glass, here's to a New Year Turtleneck and Knit Dress!  These two projects may not be the most exciting things I make in the new year but they are extremely functional!  And for me lately functional has been a good thing.  


First up, the Turtleneck...

The Pattern:

The turtleneck pattern is McCalls 6796 which is out of print. 

 Last year I made Kwik Sew 4069 and you can see that on this link.  It turned out much looser than I hoped it would (I still wear it all the time) but with the McCalls pattern I came so much closer to what I was hoping for in a turtle neck.  The one thing I will say about McCalls 6796 is that I feel the turtleneck part is a little short or falls somewhere in between where I wish it would.  I actually added about an inch to the neckline above but I can't decide if it was enough.  

The Fabric
This is a very stretchy Rayon Lycra rib knit from Fabric Mart.  Its really, really soft and fluid.  Will go great under sweaters and jackets and dresses etc.  The fabric drapes so well that the turtleneck won't stand up at all, something I didn't consider before making it, anywhoo I will still wear it all the time.    

I think at this point my 8 year old was singing "baby you're a super star!"

A New Year a New Dress!!

The Pattern:
This is McCalls 7122 a pretty popular pattern as evidenced by all the good reviews on Pattern Review.  I have several simple knit dress patterns and its always fun to try out another one with small design differences.  

This pattern has raglan sleeves (which are SO EASY to sew) and my very favorite knit dress feature of all time, a center.back.seam.  

Center back seam, you are a person with a sway back alteration's best friend!  I was able to pinch out some of the excess in that seam for a simple fix but by looking at the back view I can see that a small wedge should be removed horizontally next time.  

I meant to take a picture of the alterations for my sway back but forgot.  But looking at the changes when I transferred them to the pattern I was quite surprised by how pronounced my sway back appeared.  Just an interesting observation!


The Fabric:
This fabric was a Hancock's purchase and I loovvveee this print. 

I have had it in my stash for a while and it started to move into that crazy fabric hoarding category where you pull it out look at it and think "fabric, you are so pretty that I am just too scared to cut you so I will just let you take up precious space in my sewing closet."  

Recently I realized how ridiculous I was being about it and just how much enjoyment I would get out of wearing it so I got to work and of course I do indeed love wearing it. 



I probably should've spent some time pattern matching back there but, meh, I don't look at my back, so there, problem solved!!



This year I am telling myself that I will stop the fabric petting/hoarding of beautiful cuts because "what if I mess it up and hate the result" and just go ahead and make it up into something fun and get it done!

One piece in my fabric stash in particular reminds me the most to carpe diem the fabric.  It is a gorgeous cut of narrow silk charmeuse with a very vintage design.  I thrifted it for a few dollars a few years ago and it is an awesome reminder to me that some lady, somewhere held on to that charmeuse and never made it up and then by some turn of events it ended up in a thrift store.

That lady never made the gorgeous silk blouse she was going to wear to a special anniversary dinner, or she never realized the bias cut dress of her dreams and now it speaks to me telling me in a whispering voice, "CARPEEE..... CARPEEEE DIEEEMMM the fabric Elizabeth, make your outfit extraordinary!!!" The fabric sounds eerily similar to Robin Williams.  

So that's my sewing plan and goal this year- use.the.fabric!!  What about you, have any sewing goals for this next year?

Happy Needles in the New Year!
Elizabeth

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Fall Sewing Continues!



Fall means plaids for me, at least that's one of my very favorite fabrics for fall so it is a must to make at least one plaid item this fall so here it is!  I completed another Deer and Doe Arum dress and I am loving this pattern.  The first one I completed was for my November Fabric Mart make and you can see that post here.  It was made from a rayon/tencel twill suiting and I love it so much, so easy to make, so easy to wear.  


This version is made from a flannel shirting from Joanns bought several years ago on a trip to Kansas City.  Part of the reason I chose this particular fabric was because I'd only bought 3 yards and the fabric was only 40 inches wide!  If you've ever sewn with a crazy plaid like this you know that you need a lot more yardage than that to pattern match.  The great thing about this pattern is that there are so few pieces that pattern matching is very manageable even possible with a small length of plaid! 




I love all things plaid in the fall and I love coral so this fabric and pattern were a match made in heaven.  I might even have to wear this for Thanksgiving as it is sooooo comfy.  


I raved about this pattern over on the FabricMart blog and I will rave again, I made so little adjustments to this pattern, just grading out for sizing and it fits like a glove in the back.  My usual adjustments for patterns include a small sway back adjustment and you can see I didn't need one for this pattern, miraculous! 

As far as construction, I serged all the insides and I topstitched the facings to the dress since I cannot stand facings flipping around.  The other option would've been to finish the neck with bias tape and I wasn't feeling that, so there you go, facings topstitched- I call that a design element. 


I wore this to church and put this cascade cardigan over it but also had to wear another layer since I find our sanctuary very chilly.  I hope to get some thicker tights for this outfit soon, maybe some of those fleece lined tights!

One thing I know for sure, this probably won't be my last Arum dress, its just a completely enjoyable make and so fun to wear.

Now on to the two cuties.  I made McCalls 7273 for the 4 year old out of sweater scraps from my previous projects.  I used size 3 for her since she is slim, and reviews on Pattern review noted that this pattern runs big.  It fits great, I did not hem it and the length is just right, if hemmed it might be a bit on the short side.  This girl is tall and slim.


For my eldest I made McCalls 7425 in size 8 for an 8 year old.  I did alter the back waistband.  The instructions were for a traditional waistband and a zipper on the side and truly, truly, my 8 year old will not be bothered with a zipper and traditional waistband.  So I redrafted that back waistband to accommodate elastic and it worked great.  Redrafting sounds complicate but it wasn't.  I really just retraced the back waistband and sliced it into thirds adding little wedges in three spots, spreading the pattern out like a fan that in the end is regathered by the elastic.  The back waistband is made in a contrasting quilting cotton with polka dots and you can see it in the bottom picture.


The skirt itself is a stretch denim from my stash, I am guessing from Hancocks.  The skirt is so cute and you can't tell from these pictures but I used gold topstiching and used this technique to finish the insides.  


I hope to make her at least one more of these in another "neutral" fabric since they are so great to layer over leggings.  

So there's whats been keeping me busy and happy lately and I hope your fall sewing is doing the same for you!  Until next time, thanks for reading!

Elizabeth





Saturday, November 5, 2016

Split Hem Grainline Linden

Winning the Fabricista Challenge last fall was so much fun and so thrilling for me and one of the best things about that win was being able to pick out fabrics with my winning credits that I might not have otherwise chosen due, mostly, to a tight sewing budget.

I don't know how others of you budget for sewing (and I'd be curious to know- do you budget for your sewing?) but I *think* I try to be frugal, which might  or might not work out each month.  Since I was able to use my FabricMart credits through out this past year to off set my fabric budget I found myself splurging a little more on my pattern purchases.  So instead of spending completely out of pocket for fabric like the sweater knit I used here, I was able to use a FabricMart credit.  I can't remember how much this sweater knit was but I know that it is a nicer one, I think the content is rayon/spandex.  It is extremely soft and stretchier than I thought it would be. 

It is so snuggly that my four year old grabbed the remnant and declared it hers.  She has requested a sweater out of that remnant and I think I will have to oblige.  After all its kind of hard to say no to her cuteness and the idea of matching sweaters!

The ribbing for the hem, neckline and cuffs is from Joanns fabrics bought last winter. Its a nice, thick cotton ribbing with spandex.

I've made the Linden before and wanted it to look a little better than just a sweater so I used the split hem tutorial on Grainline's site and I think it upgrades it a bit.      


The pattern comes together very smoothly and I have a few observations about the fit and fabric.  My last Linden was made from a poly sweatshirt fabric that did not have a lot of stretch and I remember the arms were a little long but they weren't nearly as long as this one turned out to be.  So if your fabric is stretchy with not a lot of recovery consider that the arms may be a little long.  

Also I graded this sweater out from a 4 at the shoulders, 6 at the bust and waist and and 8 at the hips.  I think I could've just used a 4 and 6.  Not much more to say about this except it will be fun to layer with button up shirts and I know I will get great use out of it this winter. 

Thanks for reading!
Elizabeth

Friday, October 7, 2016

Beach Vacation Basics


We realllllyy needed a beach vacation this year, I mean reaaalllyy.  Being in helping professions (my husband and I both fit that category) is a good thing but they MUST be tempered with retreat to keep them going.  This was the year that we decided to start a beach vacation trip tradition.  We chose our spot, held our breath and booked the house, drove the long drive with kids in tow, arrived, after a day began to breathe easier, let our hair down, put on swim suits and then three days later were told we had to evacuate due to hurricane Matthew.  Vacation cut short, but it will not be our last time to go to this beach, it was a perfect location for us.  Neither of us like a commercialized scene and we like a very slow pace when we vacation, we finally found the place, and we will be back!! 

All that aside, you are here for the sewing part of this story so here you go.  Of course I love a deadline and a beach deadline is even sweeter.  So I got to work creating some basics.  I have had a gap in my wardrobe of simple casual basics since beginning work a year and a half ago.  That was when most of my sewing shifted to creating work-wearable items.  This is a small collection of basics that I could live in while on my trip or off time.  

 Tee Shirts:


 This top is McCalls 7286 which is a raglan tee with a split hem.  I ended up making three versions all in different knit fabrics.  On this version I only hemmed the sleeves.  The white tee is a thick cotton spandex blend from Sew Sassy Fabrics in Huntsville Alabama bought almost two years ago.  If you are ever in Huntsville and can make it to Sew Sassy its a fun sewers wonderland.  They have so much elastic and truly every sewing supply you might need for sewing undies.  They were kind enough to let me wander around their shop even though they are predominately a shipping location.  Its a family business and I love that, I hope I can go back one day!



The shirt above was made using left over yardage from a dress made for Fabric Mart.  Its a cotton lycra blend that is thinner than the white one and it has a bad tendency to curl up at the finished edges.  I did not have this problem with the dress I made of this fabric so I think my hems just weren't deep enough.  Its a really good knit and I am glad I could squeeze one more make out of it.


 This tee was made using leftover yardage from a dress made last fall for the Fabric Mart Fabricista challenge.  It has little to no stretch recovery (no spandex content) so the neckline on this version stands a bit off of my neck but no worse than all of my tee's from Target.  I did not hem the sleeves or the hemline on this version, I just let them curl up.  The fabric was found on the bargain yardage table at Hancocks, again, before they went out of business.   




This is such a simple tee to make, when you don't have to set sleeves, the process is so much quicker.  One note on the split hem.  I serged the aztec print tee together and it changed the nature of finishing the split hem so I actually recommend zig zag stitch for this shirt if you plan on hemming it, the serger cuts off the seam allowance you might need to help everything turn up properly for the split hem. 

Kimono:

This kimono is a great show piece to top off plain tees and shorts.  It is Simplicity 1318 which was a Pattern Review Best Pattern of 2015.  I was unsure about how this might come together, would it look like a bath robe or overwhelm my frame?  I think it turned out perfect and had so much fun wearing it out at the beach.  I used two rayon challis fabrics from JoAnn fabrics.  I love contrasting prints like this. 


The pattern is a good one, my favorite thing about the pattern is the neckline area.  It is constructed in such a way that it sits so nicely up around the neck area and doesn't shift or slide off.  Its really subtly contoured to fit well and I so appreciate that detail.  I used a little extra care in constructing the facings, hand sewing them down for a neat finish instead of my usual stitch in the ditch.  I serged all the inside seams. 


After I made this kimono I was so excited to wear it before the beach trip that I threw it over my black maxi t-shirt dress and wore it to work.  Print mixing this kimono really makes me want to try out my hand at print mixing this one by McCall's designer Melissa Watson.   I would love to see this made up in all those pieces of silk I've salvaged from thrift store garments or other projects...


Swimsuits:
 
I also made swimsuits for myself and my girls.  I feel cautious about doing a full post on those here- too many wierdos on the internets these days.  So I posted it on Pattern Review, however I feel ok sharing the rash guard pictures.

My suit and the girl's suits were made using McCalls 7417. 

 A few notes on this pattern:
  • I made my top in a small at the bust grading out to a medium at the waist. I needed a smidge extra room in the bust line so I let that out a little at the princess seams on the suit with the blue inset.
  • I made the bottoms in a medium and let out the back princess seams a bit around the fullest part of my bum. 
  • Fabrics were from Hancocks and were nylon lycra swimwear with the exception of a few panels on the suit with a blue inset.  
  • I fully lined the bottoms and really recommend that you line them.  It adds extra support (tummy control) and feels more substantial. 
  • The top is unlined, I wore a bikini top under mine. 
  • I found the short sleeve more comfortable but the long sleeve definitely gives more protection against sun.
  • I did not hem the sleeves or bottom of the tops, just couldn't be bothered! 
  • The bottoms cover my belly button but don't touch my rib cage, that gives you some idea of how high they are.

I love this suit and had so much fun wearing it.  It stayed put perfectly, the bottoms felt like a huge accomplishment since they fit better than many of my ready to wear suit bottoms.  I was so proud to finally make a suit for myself, I've made them for my girls but this suit gave me a sewing high since fitting myself is a little trickier than fitting them.

That's my beach vacation basics, I was so glad to get so many of them finished for my trip and am especially proud of the swimsuits.  I was pretty scared that the suit would be a fail but gave myself a "have no fear of sewing" talk and it all worked out!  Now I feel like its time to tackle another sewing fear and get on with pant making....shudder.  Or in the near future jean making!!

Thanks for reading and happy sewing!
Elizabeth

Saturday, September 17, 2016

September Shorts


I need more shorts for our upcoming trip to the beach and this is the result!  After seeing a few bloggers and Pattern Reviewers make these shorts up I thought I would give them a try.  


 Everyone's review basically stated that these shorts have too much design ease and you should make one or two sizes down from your normal size.  I would recommend that as well, with the addendum that you need to be sure that the top portion will slide up over the widest part of your hips.  If not then regardless of the fact that they have an elastic back you still won't be able to get them pulled up.  So that being said, I cut a size 10 around the leg opening and a 12 at the waist.  I would normally sew a size 14.  I also had to let out the side seams a bit at the top to make sure I could indeed stretch the top over my widest point.   

 Don't judge this picture, its for sewey people who care about back fit, so the poofing at the center top is probably my fault, I added a wedge up there for a small fuller seat adjustment and will have to shave some off next time.  Heres a picture illustrating what I did to the pattern.  My pointer finger is pointing to the wedge:


 I also lowered the lower crotch curve a bit and cut at the size 14 for the pointy bit of the crotch above the inseam. This was all in an effort to accommodate my tush.  Worked pretty well.  These shorts don't have the most flattering back view but meh, can't win them all and they were a relatively quick make. 

 Fabric used is a thrifted cotton that I think is a cross weave, it really wanted to unravel but is really soft.  Good for casual beach time.  I serged almost all the inner seams.  The top is a Megan Nielsen Briar from a few years ago.  Its a soft drapey rayon knit.  Well that's the long and short of this make, I am hoping to get a few more things sewn before I leave but they may be more for the small ones than for me, and that's ok.


Thanks for reading and happy sewing!
Elizabeth

Sunday, August 7, 2016

A New Dress for Little Girl

My little one turned four this summer, which means I have been combing through my children's pattern stash trying to make up everything that she is about to age out of!! I have quite a few and I will be doing well if a finish say, three....we'll see how it goes!  My days, weeks, months can get away from me in the fall!


This dress is the Oliver and S Badminton Dress.  I love this sweet little dress, its like a really spruced up pillowcase dress.  The pattern, like all Oliver and S patterns, is very thorough and any mistakes I made were usually from inattention.  Whenever I complete an Oliver and S I want to make it right away again because the results are so great, now I'm thinking of a brightly colored one!


The fabric for this was from my stash for children's wear and I have to say I have been very intentional in the last few years to widdle this stash.  These prints are fall inspired prints that I have been holding on to for the right make, only to realize that there is no time like the present!  How much longer will they willingly wear squirrels and foxes?


My thought in the fall theme was that she can wear it with leggings and a long sleeve t-shirt when the weather begins to turn. 


I am going to enter this in the Pattern Review Sewing for Children contest just because I enjoy participating in their contests.  I don't expect to win since there are always amazing entries. 

Little girl seems ok with the dress, she's a little hard to impress these days but meh, that's ok I'm hoping when I make big sister something in this same print that she'll be motivated by the matchy matchy sister factor! Fingers crossed!
Thanks for reading!
Elizabeth


Saturday, August 6, 2016

A Sewing Legacy



This is my August post for Fabric Mart Fabrics.  

I have posted it here for those of you who predominately follow this blog- meaning my family and friends ha ha!  So here it is...
  



While visiting my parents this summer I discovered a little piece of my family sewing history!  My Mom asked me to go through a few boxes of old patterns she was thinking of getting rid of and being the pattern hoarder collector that I am, I dug through them and found some family history that even my Mom had forgotten.



I found this pattern with awesome 70's styling (look at those espadrilles) and when I pulled it out of the envelope I recognized my Mom's handwriting.  The note says "You can send this back in your next letter."




My Mom said that she and her Mother often wrote letters (weekly) and that she was sure she sent the pattern to her Mom to make.  She also said this pattern was a favorite of hers and she made it for friends as well.  Back in the day she added hand painted embellishments around the bottom of the skirt.  She was a wrap skirt fanatic and has passed that love to me! 

After discovering that this pattern had not only been sewn by Mom but also my Grandmother I knew I had to make it up!  While laying out the pattern I even found their alteration notes written on the pattern.  My Mom and Grandmother were a good bit taller than me so they had to add a couple of inches to the bottom of the pattern, not me! I did however included that 1/2 inch they suggested to the waist line!





Around this time of year I also love to sew something on the fancier side since my husband and I try to go out somewhere nice for our wedding anniversary.  So I chose to make this up in a gorgeous, and I mean gorgeous, bronze charmeuse.  It is like liquid chocolate, I love browns and a brown that shimmers, even better! 



I feel I would be doing any new sewist a disservice if I did not put out a disclaimer that silk charmeuse can be a real booger to sew if you don't have a few tricks up your sleeves.  My biggest and best trick is Sullivan's Spray stabilizer.  I seriously wouldn't even look at silk charmeuse without this stuff- it helps that much.  When you apply it, it dries transforming your fabric into a well behaved sewing participant, otherwise phhbtt, it runs amuck.  The texture it gives you is closer to a cotton voile and after you complete your project you simply hand wash it and voila, back to slinky, flowy fabric!



I originally heard of the magic of this stabilizer from Colette patterns blog.  It can be a little pricey but for the money and time you will invest in sewing silk, it's totally worth it.  I have heard/read of other methods that may be a little less expensive but so far this is the method I prefer.

Another tool to incorporate are silk pins.  I really would not use anything but silk pins when working with charmeuse because the silk is very fine and it is actually difficult to get regular craft sewing pins to pierce the fabric. This is the kind I use.

Another thing that I have learned through trial and error in working with silk charmeuse is that choosing patterns that don't require too much fiddly handling of the pattern pieces or too many design details will make your life easier and increase the chances of your project's success.  Now maybe I am speaking as a less skilled sewist, but for me these guidelines have saved me some headaches and some silk!
   
For the top, I used Simplicity 1366, a Cynthia Rowley pattern.  This is a really simple pattern, the front and back are cut from the same pattern piece.  For interest I cut the top out with the matte side of the fabric as the right side.  I omitted the facings and chose to make the tiniest hem, this tutorial by Megan Nielsen details how to make a rolled hem and is essentially the method I used.


I caught a small breeze!
For the wrap skirt I used the shiny side of the charmeuse and converted the gathers at the waist line to inverted box pleats.  I also used french seams throughout and lace hem tape to finish the hem and hand stitched the hem in place.





Sewing charmeuse is not for the faint of heart but it yields such elegant and special results.  And the vintage family pattern just elevated the experience for me. Handling this pattern, smoothing it out on my fabric, pinning it where they pinned it, and folding it back up, I felt a connection to the women before me who have infused me with a love of sewing, and that is an awesome feeling!

Soon I hope to have a post on a new Oliver and S dress that I just completed for my 4 year old!  It was made with the idea of it being transeasonal since we are still pretty hot here, until then, happy sewing
Thanks for reading!
Elizabeth