Friday, September 19, 2014

McCall's 6992 - Black + white fashion sweatshirt in quilted cotton knit

These fashion sweatshirts have been popular for the last few years, and I have finally gotten around to stitching one up. I enjoy making garments that are interesting and different from what I find in department stores, and none of the thicker knits I was seeing really caught my eye. That is until I saw this awesome quilted cotton knit at Mood fabrics. (It has just recently sold out but they have other interesting quilted fabric, though currently none with stretch.) I loved the subtle city buildings at night print and the texture, and only needed to order a yard.

 For the sleeves I used black ponte from my stash and some fun black rib knit for the neck and sleeve bands. Rib knits are hard to find locally around here, y'all. I kind of thought those types of fabrics were store staples.

 I used McCall’s 6992 for the pattern, which I chose because the sleeves and bodice looked somewhat fitted. This design has a slight high-low hem to it. The darts on the top of the sleeves enable a close and flattering fit. I cut one size down from my normal big 4 pattern size, a typical choice when sewing knits, and the fit is spot on. This pattern has great variety to it, and I can see myself making at least one more, maybe with some fancier sequin fabric.

Taking pictures of black garments is always so difficult! Here are some close ups so you can see some of the details better. I really adore the mix of textures that make up this top.

Although the quilted fabric is a knit, it was very prone to unraveling. I finished the side seams using the overlocking stitch on my machine, but the edges really stretched out and I had to aggressively press them into submission. The rest of the garment was finished with hand whip-stitching. I actually really like how neat the inside turned out, as most of the time when I'm working with knit fabrics it doesn't look so nice.

This was a fun project for me because the knits I worked with were somewhat thick and stable. I have the hardest time with the thinner variety! In fact, I have given myself permission to buy any good quality knit garment that I like and not try to tell myself I can just go make it instead.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Burda 1-2009-123 - Green w/ aqua military style parka

According to Burda, parka jackets were all the rage 5 years ago. I'm not sure if that's still the case, but I think this style of jacket is rather timeless. I was drawn to this design for its patch pockets, stand collar, cuffs, topstitching, snaps, and belted middle, and bought this lightweight poly taffeta from Gorgeous Fabrics especially for it. I'm trying to make things that I don't have to worry about fitting perfectly when baby boy is born, so after 5 years, this jacket finally made it to the front of my queue.

I really liked the belt and belt casing of the original design, but sever fabric shortage forced me to amend the pattern. Instead I made an elastic casing by sewing the outer fabric and the lining together, threaded the 1.5" elastic through, and stitched the ends closed. I always love garments with waist definition, even though I currently look like a brick from behind.

Dressform pictures:

Wow, was this jacket a lot of work. The fabric was a complete bear to work with. It stretched, its edges wobbled, it shrank in when it was pressed. The patch pockets took FOREVER to complete because it was so hard to get a crisp and straight edge. Plus there's three lines of topstitching. I really love the look of topstitching and actually enjoy doing it too, but 3 times around was a bit much. Oh, and 16 snaps. Sixteen snaps y'all, with top and bottom pieces to each one. My house rang with the sounds of hammering for days.

I had a little bit of this aquamarine silk crepe left over from this dress I made in August of last year, and knew it was the perfect shade to match the blue bits in my fabric. I ordered another 2 yards of it from Mood for the lining. That front facing is suppose to extend down to the hemline, but I had to improvise, again due to fabric shortage.

Here are the pictures from the magazine:

I love my new jacket, but I am really relieved to be finished making it. August was not a great month for sewing. I started 4 projects that either ended in wadders or the need to purchase more fabric. Sitting on the floor cutting out fabric is really tough on my poor body with this huge bulging belly, and to have the project end in an unwearable garment 3 times in a row was frustrating and depressing. I still have a strong desire to sew, though, and am hoping to be super productive in September. Baby boy is due mid October.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Vogue 1367 - Blue silk crepe de chine blouse

I'm usually the last person to switch over to fall sewing every year. August is so hot around here and I'm never ready to start thinking about making cool weather garments. However, what little enthusiasm I had for making maternity clothing has completely evaporated and I'm wanting to make some things I can wear after this baby is born in October. I always nurse my kiddos for the first year so will need my clothing somewhat unfitted on the top. A silk blouse was of course my first thought because I seriously love them and all the other ones I've made will be too snug.

The fabric is a silk crepe de chine by Thakoon from Mood Fabrics that is unfortunately now sold out. He's listed as "famous designer" on their website, and here are a few other of his crepe de chines. I love to use this type of fabric for blouses. It's the perfect weight, not too thin, and flows nicely about the body. It's also not a slippery fabric to work with, you just have to go slow and take your time. I washed and dried it prior to cutting like I usually do and didn't notice any fading. The pattern I used is Vogue 1367, a Rebecca Taylor pattern that I loved the construction lines of. It is not maternity but fits over my baby bump because it's meant to be loose-fitting. I do NOT plan to wear this until after the baby is born, though. The side view isn't too flattering.

See what I mean? The hemline turned out looking a bit different then the pattern line drawing. The front is 3 to 4 inches shorter then the back and the hems do not have the rounded-off square sides as drawn. I don't mind the differences, though. It looks just like the example photo. I wouldn't rate this pattern as particularly easy. There are plenty of fiddly bits to it - lots of gathering, a bias neckband, topstitching, sleeves with continuous lap sewn into thin cuffs, and a 5/8" double folded finish to the curved hems.

Dressform pictures:

I was nervous that the bias edges of the yokes would stretch out while I was stitching them, particularly because I wanted to use french seams. To combat this I used a trick I haven't utilized in a long time - I starched them. This made the fabric stiff and retain the shape of the pattern piece while I worked with it. After the blouse was complete I washed it to remove the starch. It worked perfectly and there's no puckering or rippling along those seams. I left off the topstitching along the tops of the sleeves since I always iron the armhole seams toward the sleeves.

Here at the inside you can see the french seams I used throughout the blouse, including the armhole seams. With this thin fabric and bias edges I didn't want to use an overlocking stitch to finish off the fraying edges. I had to be careful while topstitching from the outside so that it caught just the top edge of the french seam.

I couldn't use french seams for the sides because of the double curved hemline. After stitching the seams I pressed the edges open, folded the raw edges in again and topstitched. It's not visible because of the business of the fabric. I put a little dot of fray-check at the bottom of the sides to hopefully prevent the fabric from any strain when it's being put on or taken off.

Here's the example picture:

I like the pants a lot too and may get around to them later this fall. I'm thrilled to add this silk blouse to my collection, of which there will definitely be more. Anyone else thinking toward fall already?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

NewLook 6974 - Red, white & navy stars and polkadots dress

I made this dress for Rachel to wear for July 4th. Why I always pick this holiday to make her a new dress and not her birthday or Easter I don't know. I'll have to remedy that from now on.

I purchased these two fabrics from earlier this spring. They are both the good quality cottons I like to use for childrens' clothing. The red star fabric is by Michael Miller and the navy w/ white dots is a Riley Blake fabric.

Originally I was planning to use the navy for the straps, bow, and peeking out of the bottom as seen on the example dress on the pattern envelope. However, I quickly realized all the work of those godets would be lost in the business of the fabric, and so used most of the navy for flat bias piping sewn into the godet seams. I could have ordered more navy for the second layer under the dress, but by then was tossing around the idea of not even lining it because the star fabric is pretty thick.

I cut a size 1/2 for the width and a size 3 for the length. This tiny girl continues to slowly grow upwards but hasn't put on much girth, and I'm always so happy Simplicity and NewLook offer patterns in the 1/2 size.

Hanger pictures:

I used bias strips of star fabric to finish off the armholes because I didn't have the lining to do that job. (No picture of them, though - I completely forgot.) Since the star fabric is somewhat thick and the piping added some bulk, I couldn't put in a 5/8" double folded hem per the instructions. Instead I cut a curved hem facing and invisibly machine stitched it to the inside. All seams were finished with the overlocking stitch from my regular sewing machine.

I always enjoy working with cotton fabrics and had fun making this cute little dress. I don't know if I'll make it again since I actually cut into the pattern pieces instead of tracing them like I usually do for girls patterns. There were too many pieces and I just didn't have the will to do it.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Yellow + white ponte maternity skirt

All the maternity skirts currently available for sale fall into three categories: black/navy/gray, denim or striped maxi. If you want any type of bright color or pattern, you are out of luck. Or, if you know how to sew, you make your own!

It was pretty much love at first site when I spotted this Theory yellow striped ponte at Mood Fabrics. It's yellow, is a ponte knit which is the perfect weight fabric for a skirt, and it's visually interesting with the stripes. I paired it with Burda 7023, labeled "super easy", and that was no lie. It only has two pieces, a little gathering, some elastic in the back, and a hem. This fabric stitched together beautifully and I had no problems matching the stripes along the side back seams.

This is another great Burda pattern with plenty of room for a growing bump. I can see this skirt fitting until the very end.

At the back I used 1.5" elastic and stitched it down along the the top on the inside and the bottom on the outside of the skirt fabric.

And that's pretty much it! If I can find more cute ponte knits I'll whip this skirt up again. I also may have purchased a few more yards of this yellow stripe for a dress for my more permanent non-maternity wardrobe, but don't hold your breath to see it anytime soon. ;)

Friday, June 27, 2014

Black + magenta ikat print jersey faux-wrap dress

Hello! And surprise! I have been missing for a few months because pregnancy fatigue really got to me. Being pregnant at 36 and caring for 3 other kiddos at the same time is tiring. Thank goodness we are having a pretty mild summer so far with lots of rain. It won't last, I'm sure, but I'm enjoying the cooler temps while I can. I haven't been doing a whole heck of a lot of sewing - just haven't had any mojo to work with. In the evenings all I want to do is vegetate in front of the television or go to bed. I'm way better at squeezing in some time in front of my sewing machine in the afternoons. Also, making maternity clothes has never been a favorite thing for me, mostly because the pattern choices are so limited. This time around, though, I've actually found a few cute patterns that I like and want to make up.

I picked out this fun jersey border print from Mood Fabrics without anything specific in mind. It has a different border on each selvage and my plan was to utilize both into one dress. The larger border is the abstract squares I used for the sleeves and belt, and the small border is a black and white concentration of the main fabric that I planned to have showing at the hemline. Unfortunately this dress turned out to be matronly long, so I had to chop off the smaller border to get a length I was happy with.

The pattern I used is #132 from Burda Magazine's June 2010 issue. I cut my usual size 38 and the fit is just right, if a little tight in the sleeve area. Theirs has a skinny little tie belt, but I have a distaste for those types of belts being used on a garment with a horizontal bodice/skirt seam. They never stay where they're suppose to and always need adjusting. Instead I cut a thicker belt and sewed it in between the front wrapping bodice side and the skirt. It wraps around the back freely from the dress and ties in the front and never needs any fiddling.

This pattern has lots of room for a growing belly. It actually droops a little in the front right now, and I expect to wear it straight through to my third trimester. You can see at the side seams that I lined up the horizontal pattern starting at the hemline. With the side front gathers attaching to the ungathered back the pattern no longer lines up, but that can't be helped. The fronts I lined up with the back starting at the underarms. There is a vertical seam down the center back which I did not give much effort to matching up other then at the hemline. I was incredibly surprised when the pattern lined up so perfectly at the neckline and under the belt.

There's a 3/4 sleeve top version of this pattern included in the magazine that I may make as well. I'm due the first part of October, though, and it's usually just beginning to cool off around here at that time.

Oh, and it's a boy. We were really surprised by that news - had gotten it into our minds that it was sure to be a girl so Rachel could have a sister. Poor thing, now she'll have three brothers. ;)

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Oliver + S Class Picnic Blouse & Shorts in yellow and blue

This is one of my very favorite Oliver + S patterns. I made the top last fall and lengthened it to a dress. Rachel never wore it, though, because I didn't like the fabrics I chose and it looked like a nightgown. The fit was perfect on her then, so I made the same size in blouse form.  These coordinating fabrics are part of the Oliver + S for Moda line (now sold out) and were purchased from several years ago. I only purchased 1 yard of each but as clothing for little girls barely takes any yardage, I have lots left over to use in later years.

For the blouse I cut the 6-12 month for width and 2T for length. The sleeves were cut at the shortest size to be cool for summer. The shorts I knew needed to be cut at the 6-12 month for width but was uncertain what to cut for length. I ended up measuring the crotch length on Rachel, comparing that with the pattern, then cutting the 18-24 month for length.

I just love the design of this pattern! What other pattern company is making peasant-style tops or shorts with such cute details? Also, the construction techniques are different and really thoughtful (except in one particular head-scratching instruction noted below.)

Here you can see the top of the shorts and all the fun topstitching. I love the mock-fly front! The way the legs are finished with the edging is really interesting and leaves the edges neat and crisp. I'm planning to make a pair in denim with orange topstitching and the reverse side for the edging. Won't that be adorable?

I used the checked fabric for the inside yokes of the blouse and the bias strips at the sleeve tops for a bit of fun. You can see it peeking out when she moves around. The shorts are finished at the back with topstitching top and bottom to keep the elastic in place.

The pattern calls for the contrast fabric at the inside waistband which matches what I did on the blouse. All the raw edges were finished with my machine's over-locking foot. I deviated from the instructions by folding the seam allowance of the waistband up and slip-stitching it in place. Their way is fine, too, but I like the neat finish of this technique better. In a thicker fabric it would be too bulky but with these thinner cottons it works perfectly.

I chose not to topstitch the yokes along the gathered fronts but slip-stitched them down instead.

Okay, so my one complaint about this pattern is the width of the shorts edging around the curves and up to the waistband. It should be the same around the entire leg opening but in those locations it was 1/4" wider. I didn't notice this issue until I folded the edging to the front and was about to topstitch it down. I had to go back to cut away the excess, then refolded it to topstitch. The picture below is what it looked like before I trimmed away the extra width.

Here you can see where I corrected my pattern tracing for the next time I make these. The edges of the paper are curving up so it doesn't look congruent but it is.

As for the head-scratching instruction that I mentioned above, it came as a hint of what to do to obtain a nice curve at the outside of the edging. It tells you to first trim away the seam allowance to 1/8", then sew a gathering stitch around the curve to cinch up the seam allowance, then flip the facing to the outside and topstitch. I've never tried this method, so maybe I'm mistaken, but that seems like a sure fire way of ending up with bulky curves right at the front of the garment - especially if using some sort of heavier weight material like a denim. I always want to reduce bulk and make things lie smoothly, so instead I graded my seam allowances and cut little notches all along the curves. One thing my mom taught me to do is always grade my seams, and I am a Nazi about it. Nothing looks more happy-hands-at-home then lumpy edges.

I do think this is a fantastic pattern but for those two minor quibbles, and I love Rachel's new outfit. It's a little strange to see her in clothing that actually fits as I've gotten so use to seeing her in things that are too big and baggy.

Up next is a dress for me, in case you're tired of all these little girl garments and think I've abandoned sewing for myself. :)