Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Simplicity 1462 - Turquoise floral fitted cotton top

It seems like I never have enough casual tops. Just when I find one I really like it gets a stain or a hole or a funky smell that just won't come out no matter how much it's laundered. Also I never want to make them. Why is this? Are they without challenge? Do I hate my top half and therefor never want to dress it? I'm going to have to remedy this. (But not in the immediate future. My current queue is all designer dresses and outerwear. Ha!)

This fabric is a beautiful cotton print from designer Anna Maria Horner and was purchased online a year or so ago. I bought it for my daughter but I loved the print so much that I decided to use it for myself instead. How selfish of me. In my defense I knew she would outgrow whatever I made for her in a single season. This way it can live forever in my closet.

I only had 1.5 yards of it and wanted something slightly structured. Simplicity 1462 has been in my stash for a few months now. I adore the cap sleeves in this version and the front ribbon embellishment. This floral is lineal and the pattern pieces needed to be carefully laid out so that the flowers lined up horizontally and no twinning occurred. The flowers aren't perfectly matched from seam to seam because that would be impossible in a princess seamed garment like this one. Rather I was trying to make it so no two flowers of the exact same were right next to each other. I was mostly successful.

In order to make a small bust adjustment without too much fiddling I cut the size 10 in the front through the bust tapering out to a 12 at the waist and below. The shoulders and back were cut in a 12 as well. It was a bit snug so I took only a 3/8" seam allowance at the sides. I cut 2" off the hemline and took a 2" hem. This shirt is drafted to be pretty long.

Those two flowers under my right arm aren't twins of each other but they do bug my eyes a little. Good thing that's under an arm where it's not too noticeable. When I attached the neckbinding and got the inside all slipstitched down, I noticed that the front and back neckline gaped away from my body. This is because the neckbinding that was drafted for this pattern is way too big. I carefully unpicked the whole thing - after a few gusty sighs - and cut 3/8" off the neckline, then reattached my binding. It would have been easier if I'd had more fabric to work with but I was on fabric fumes at this point. Happily this is a sturdy cotton and didn't give me too many problems. If you are contemplating making this pattern, I would go down about 2 sizes for the neck binding.

Dressform pictures:

This print is much more vivid and accurate in these inside shots. You'll definitely see me coming from a long way off!

I made french seams at every inside seam except the zipper side and the center front. For the center front I extended the slit facing down to the hemline to give the ribbon a sturdy place to be stitched to. It looks neater as well. The hem I whip-stitched by hand.

The pattern calls for bias tape to finish off the underarm seams. I couldn't find any to match and didn't have enough fabric to make bias facings, so I used some aqua silk crepe de chine left over from a failed project. I also used it to hong-kong finish the edges of the seam where the zipper in inserted, but it's not really visible from this picture.

That's the last of my warm weather sewing! It's still hot as anything here but I am moving on to fall now. I never get to all the cold weather projects I want to make because I get extremely busy with holiday preparation and then get tired of the cold really quickly and can't wait for summer. Every year my sewing mojo disappears around the new year too. This year I am starting early on long sleeves and outer wear and hope to make up some of those long planned winter garments.

My oldest and my youngest

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Vogue 1440 - White cotton tunic w/ back yoke detail

I'm taking a break from making silk blouses to add some cotton to my wardrobe. It's much easier to wear here in the summer and doesn't stick to sweaty skin as easily. I used Vogue 1440, a separates pattern by Donna Karan. Now this is a great pattern! You get three designer pieces that are very wearable for the price of one. The blouse was what called my name first, but I do plan to make both the jacket and the pants at some point.

What I loved about this design was the armhole bands and interesting back yoke feature. It calls for a solid color to show off those areas, and I picked a crisp white cotton shirting from Mood fabrics. This is a nice medium weight fabric that holds its shape well. Good quality cottons are always fun to sew with as they press well and don't slip around on you.

I really deliberated about what size to cut. Usually I cut a 12 for Vogue patterns but the bust measurements printed on the pattern were really big. My measurements put me at an 6 but I never wear that small of a size so I went for the 10 just to be safe. I'm so glad I did as the bust measurements are just plain wrong. The size 10, for example, is suppose to be 37.5" around, which I would be swimming in. As you can see, it is pretty fitted. If you decide to make this blouse, I advise actually measuring the pattern for yourself to determine which size to cut. I folded 1.5" out of each front pattern piece between the dart and the center front before I cut into the fabric. I wanted an easy-fitting blouse but it is really voluminous as drafted. This pattern could easily be used for maternity wear!

I just adore the back!!! Anyone with a muscular back or shoulders should make this top. I have neither but still think it's flattering. I'm seeing lots of RTW with that back slit detail which is another nice feature.

After I got the blouse to a stage where I could try it on but didn't yet have the collar attached, I noticed that the front neckline was really high. And then I really got to looking at the blouses others have made from this pattern and noticed how those collars folded over past the armbands. I think it's drafted that way on purpose to give it more of a relaxed look, and I can't tell if the original is like that or not. However, I wanted more of a traditional collar look for my blouse. I cut the center fronts down by 1" and used the collar and collar stand from another Vogue pattern. If I make this pattern again I will raise the center back neckline a little as I think it's pulling the collar down in the back. Weird. The front was too high and the back is too low.

Does anyone else get excited about reading pattern directions? I couldn't wait to get my hands on this pattern so I could figure out how that back band was attached. It's so unique. I did change the order of stitching the bands to the fabric in order to avoid lumpy shoulders. Being precise while topstitching is always fun to me so I enjoyed those parts a lot.

More dressform pictures:

The concealed button closure has no interfacing called for. This made me a little nervous but it turned out fine in the end and isn't floppy at all. If using a fabric that is lighter weight you may want to add interfacing to this area.

Something else I love about this pattern are the beautifully finished insides included in the directions. All fabric edges are enclosed in some manner and there's no overlocking needed. There is a bias hem facing pattern piece which I was super excited about. Wow, that made making the hem SO MUCH EASIER then the usual double folded hem that puckers and never will lay completely flat. I am using a bias hem facing for all shaped hems from now on.

This was such a fun project to work on! I think I might use the top part of this blouse again and make more of a fitted/shorter garment just for some variety. It's too lovely of a design not to make a second time.

Note: This fabric was purchased with my Mood Fabrics monthly allowance, as part of my participation in the Mood Sewing Network.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Butterick 6185 - Black whimsical print sleeveless silk blouse w/ double collar

I always enjoy watching Anna Sui’s fashion shows. Her designs are playful and fun but not toddler like and twee. The fabrics she uses are usually prints and are often mixed together in interesting ways. When I saw this “Famous Designer Conversational Satin Faced Silk Chiffon” on Moodfabrics.com, I was pretty sure it was hers even though it wasn’t titled as such. I just adored the cats sitting on chairs, the red apples, the little scrolled frames and the texture, and snapped some up a few months back thinking it would certainly sell out quickly. (There is only a little left as of this writing. If you like it I would purchase some quickly.) When it arrived in the mail, the selvages were printed with her name, so I had been right about it’s origins.

I knew I wanted a blouse of some sort and I knew it had to be a simple design as to not cut up the print too much. Long sleeve printed blouses have a way of looking like something my grandma would wear, so I opted for a sleeveless version. I wanted it to be playful and fun to honor Anna’s aesthetic and chose Butterick 6185. This is kind of a sleeper of a pattern IMO. The envelope has all the garments rendered in fun colors and prints, but they’re just elastic-waisted separates and an unlined jacket, which I am not into. (No offense if you are.) However, the simple V-neck blouse or dress with the double collar I found super cute. I briefly thought about doing the under collar of my blouse in white but dismissed it for possibly looking too young.

The collar was cut from some black wool crepe left over from this dress and is also from Mood but has long since sold out. Ideally I would have used a lighter cotton-type fabric since this is a warm weather top, but I didn’t have enough of any on hand and those collars are fabric hogs. I find silk rather warm anyway and don’t wear it too much in the summer, so will probably wear this in spring or fall or when I plan to be mostly indoors. I pre-washed both the print fabric and the lining to make them better fit into my wash-and-wear lifestyle. As long as I don’t forget to drip dry my blouse and shrink the collars in the dryer, it should be easily laundered.

I cut a size 12 through the shoulders and a size 10 from the bust down and got a really good fit. The envelope picture looked a little strange around the front armholes and for me was drafted with too much fabric in that area. I used another sleeveless shirt pattern to guide me while carving out the front armhole and cutting the shoulders in a good 1 inch. I’ve started really examining pattern envelope pictures for possible issues I may have. It’s a good habit to get into to avoid surprises. That or make a muslin of course.

I like the slightly cropped nature of this top, but after viewing these pictures I don’t think it looks very good proportionally with pants on my body. It’s a little short. Keep that in mind if you have a long torso like I do. If I make this again to wear with pants I will lengthen it 2 inches. This one I will wear with skirts. There is a CB seam down the back and I tried to cut the fabric to look as pleasing as possible at that seam. It’s a good thing I had some extra fabric because the first backs I cut had some awful twinning.

This collar was fun and easy to do and is sandwiched in between the print and the lining. There is a facing included with the pattern that I only used to cut interfacing for the lining with. If a lining is not needed for decency, I would probably use some bias tape or a bias binding to finish off the neckline. I always like to avoid facings if at all possible. I put a dab of Fraycheck right at the center of the V to avoid any threads raveling out.

Dressform pictures:

When you look closely at this fabric you can see some textural leaf elements. Those are the sheer bits of this fabric and are really very cool. Since the collar needed a bit more support then just a thin chiffon to hold it up, I decided to line it. The lining I added is a black stretch silk georgette also from Mood. It has a lovely amount of stretch to it that I bought for another project but opted to use for this instead. It did dull a little when washed but I didn’t mind since I was using it for lining. Instead of making the 5/8″ narrow hem at the armhole (anyone else HATE the look of that?!), I finished them off with some bias bindings cut from the lining fabric.

I sewed all the seams but the neckline with French seams. Whenever I use that type of finish on lined garments, I make sure to press the seams in opposite directions to avoid bulk. The hemline was a simple double fold narrow hem that was actually really trying and took a whole evening to accomplish.

I like most of the stuff I make but I am completely smitten with this blouse. It turned out looking exactly like what I had in my mind’s eye and that’s always so rewarding. Also, I have another silk blouse to add to my collection! There’s no such thing as too many silk blouses in my closet!

Note: All of these fabrics were purchased with my Mood Fabrics monthly allowance, as part of my participation in the Mood Sewing Network.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Vogue 1352 (again!) in blue jersey + a lesson in pre-washing

Here is the knee-length version of Vogue 1352 that I had cut out when I posted the June maxi version. I finished it up about two days after that. It really is a simple dress once you get the hugeness figured out.

The solid color shows the neckline gathers off nicely whereas they were lost somewhat in the print. And while I do love to wear solid colors, I find that I really don't like to sew with them much. Anyone else feel the same? I'm not sure why this is. Maybe my eyes get tired of looking at the same color all the time.

I made the same exact modifications to this dress as the previous one. The only change I made was to fold out a good bit of length to make it shorter.

This fabric is some sort of mystery polyester that I've had in my stash forever and have no idea where it came from. I rarely wash polyester knits because they don't shrink and I'm often too impatient to get on with the cutting out stage. So I didn't wash this fabric and went about stitching it up. It's quite a bit heavier then the ITY knit I'd used before and when completed the dress was really loose on the top and the armholes drooped. Oh brother, here we go again! I pitched it in my laundry basket thinking maybe if I washed it the neckline would tighten up. Imagine my surprise a week later when it came out of the dryer 5" shorter then it had been! The neckline sure didn't gap but the waistline was now really high on me and so was the hemline. I'll wear it as a bathing suit cover up I told myself. And just today when I went to put it on to shoot these pictures I find that it has stretched back to it's original length! In all my years of sewing I've never had this happen.

I guess it's a good thing I didn't wash it first??? Then I would have cut it out in it's shrunken state and it would have grown and grown after I'd finished the garment.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Vogue 1352 - Turquoise floral knit maxi dress

It's been practically two months since my last post and I've made a whole bunch of wadders and this knit dress. (I even made wadder curtains, which I didn't know could even happen.) This pattern is a Vogue designer pattern by Rebecca Taylor. I looked it up on patternreview.com before cutting out the fabric and let's just say it didn't get glowing reviews. Normally I would steer clear of those types of patterns but I thought it would be an easy dress to nurse in and I have really missed wearing dresses lately. All the reviews said this pattern ran really big so I cut the smallest size available. I also added 2 inches to the waist because I am long waisted and it looked too short on the model.

Even with those changes it was absolutely humongous! The dress completely hung off me. The front overlay flapped open with every sway of my body. The armholes were so low my undergarments were exposed if I lifted my arms. Bother. I put it aside to work on another project, thinking I might be able to salvage those big skirt pieces for another garment. My subconscious went to work thinking of a solution and a month later I knew what to do to fix it.

I took off the neck binding, cut another binding 4 inches shorter, regathered the neckline and sewed the smaller binding to it. In the process of attaching the dress to the binding the first time, I trimmed the neckline down by 1/2" while grading the seams. When I sewed the binding on a second time, I took another 5/8" seam allowance, effectively pulling the dress up even more. The result is a comfortable and somewhat loose-fitting but still flattering dress.

The fabric is an ITY knit print that I bought online somewhere and have had in my stash forever. I only had two yards of it and had to turn the skirt pattern pieces in opposite directions to fit them both in. This dress was hemmed to wear with flats.

I may decide to wear a belt with it from time to time. After viewing these pictures I think it needs something to break up the print. Also the overlay get a little lost with the busyness of the fabric. A solid color would show that and the gathers off nicely.

I opted not to topstitch the neck binding per the instructions as I much prefer to sew invisibly by hand.

Dressform pictures:

One other deviation I took was in not lapping the sleeve underarm seam allowances as the instructions say to. This is hard to explain if you haven't attempted this dress or looked at the instructions. Most of the reviews fault Vogue for having terrible drafting but I wonder if the designer dress the pattern was made from had sleeves constructed in that wonky manner. Anyway, I lined up the squares and sewed the sleeves right sides together as is the usual method. Then I hemmed and attached to the dress. I sewed a line of stitches down the side seam about 1/4", catching the underarm seam to prevent it from flipping out and being visible from the outside.

Having small children forces me to give up wearing tighter styles for casual wear, but I still like to look put together. This dress is perfect for that. Plus I can nurse my baby without having to undress - win win. I've already cut this pattern out again for a knee length version, so look out for that in a few days.