Saturday, February 28, 2009

Butterick 5248 - Floral mock wrap top with puff sleeve bottoms

This pattern claims to be "Fast&Easy". Hahahahahahaha! I was planning to wear it to a baby shower I attended. Last Saturday. It ended up with lots of tweaks here and there and took me a full week to complete. But I love the end result:

I thought this design was SO CUTE when it came out last fall. Surprisingly I've not seen anyone else make it. I love the bottom puffs on the sleeves and mock wrap front with tie. The original pattern is of a really long tunic. I cut about 5 inches off the length. I think this top would look really cute in a solid color as well - would show off the design features better.

The neckline gave me the most trouble. I really can't tell you what I did because I sewed, ripped out, and resewed the overlap and gathers so many times! The facing isn't cut at the correct angle so in dented out. When I got that corrected the fabric along the gathers wasn't tight enough and needed to be taken in. With the overlap, there are 4 layers of fabric to manipulate in that area, not to mention the bottom bodice that the front has to be sewn onto. Not easy!

So, onto the sleeves. I got one all sewn up and onto the bodice. Tried it on. Not cute. The top of the sleeve was too long so the gathered portion hit right at my elbow, which put the bottom of the sleeve right above my wrist. Not to mention the inside upper sleeve (at the inner seam) was shorter then the outside upper sleeve, which made the puff hang a little wonky. I took it apart and trimmed 1.5" off the upper sleeve at the seam, grading up to 1.75" on the outer side. (Yes, I know I'm picky. That's why I make my own clothes.) It's a good thing I only made one sleeve and only had one to redo. The other one was a piece of cake.

I didn't notice this when I bought the pattern, but the bottom of the tunic is a mock-wrap as well. So you never have to worry about the wind blowing your top open, and it simplified the construction too. Pretty cool.

This might be a baby doll design but it is definitely fitted. My only issue is that the tie belt does not stay in place along the back. I made little thread loops for the sides and front to keep it in place, but can't very well do that in the back. I think I might have to tack it to the seam.

The inside was constructed with my typical french seams/bias tape finishes. I had to leave the center bodice seam alone. It has to stretch over my head to be worn so bias tape wouldn't work. This does bug me, but I don't know what else to do with it. This is when not having a serger is a disability.

I made view A. Isn't that apple green pretty in their drawing? I think I was as drawn to that color as I was to the design. Silly, I know.

Here's my boys during our inside photo shoot, trying to look cute so they can get their picture taken as well:

Okay, so yesterday our temperature high was 90 degrees. Yes, you read that right, 90. I was all prepared to make this BWOF dress next. It's 124A from the 2-2009 issue. I have the perfect fabric, and was going to run out today to get a zipper. Except that now the temperature has dipped down into the 60's again and my mood to make summer clothes vanished immediately.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Um, blah!!!

I just got an email from McCall's, alerting me to the fact that they have new spring patterns. Well, alright! It's not often I get the email that I don't already know about the new line. I have been known to stalk the pattern websites for new stuff. Anyway, my excitement was short-lived. I apologize in advance if you like this new stuff, but I found it so dull. Some downright ugly. Saggy-crotched M.C. Hammer pants, are you kidding me?!!! Am I living under a rock and these are now in style again? Okay, so some of the patterns are fine, but nothing I haven't already got in the stash or seen a bunch of times before. What do you think? Are there any here you are excited about? (And please, if you like the saggy-crotch pants, don't send me hate mail.) :)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Brown "Fad-Classic" knitted vest

Here's my new sweater!

This is the "Fad-Classic" from Knit and Tonic. This yard is O~Wool Balance, which is 50% organic merino and 50% organic cotton. You may remember the yarn from this post, October 2008. I was trying then to make a sweater vest in a different pattern, but it turned out really big. I'll be the first to admit I don't know that much about yarn. Fabric, yes, yarn, no. I was thinking I wanted something a little warm but not stifling for my temperate Texas winters. And I wanted to match the brown stripes in this shirt. I think I paid a little too much for organic fibers when I really don't care that much about organic. (I think organic is great, I just don't like paying more for it.) And then the fabric the yarn creates has zero drape! So after the first failure with this yarn, I made the vest in the smallest size (32 inch bust) with size 7 needles (the pattern called for size 6). And worried and worried until I could finally try it on.

Perfect fit! And the perfect amount of warmth for what I consider a cold day (in the 50's). Hey, I'm a southern gal, born and raised. :)

The front:

The back:

This is a very simple pattern, but the textured stitches really slowed me down. I started this December 7, 2008, frogged it a week later because of wonky stitches, abandoned it over Christmas, picked it up after New Year's, and finally finished it February 8th. Not too bad in my book. I'm trying to complete something knitted every 2 months.

Here's a close-up of the trim picked-up-and-knitted around the neck. I'm super proud of myself for learning how to do this so cleanly. Now I won't be afraid of this technique ever again!

Up next is the Bell-Sleeved scoop-neck top from GlamKnits by Stefanie Japel. I love Stefanie Japel's designs, I just feel like her patterns often have lots of errors and the sweaters are altered for the pictures, so you never know what you'll end up with. I can state this because I'm working on my 3rd sweater of hers. Here are a few pictures from the book:

This model is standing up, but you can't see the top of the shoulder, which I think is probably cinched up. This sweater is super low, and I modified it to be higher for me.


Here the model is actually laying down. She looks gorgeous, but I can't tell at all how the sweater hangs.

Here's my current progress:

I'm through with the yoke, raglan set up, and darts. Look at this dart close-up:

This was also called for on the center back. Um, I don't remember having a third boob on my back! So I had to frog the darts out and redo the back with more rows between the decreases. Sorry for so much complaining. It's just that I'm a newbie at this knitting thing and having to redesign a pattern isn't that easy for me. I'm hoping this turns out well. It's my own fault for choosing a pattern that's so new not many people have made it or posted it at Ravelry.com.

A few new Smiplicity patterns

Simplicity has new patterns up. I actually saw these at Jo-Ann's last week while they were having a 5 for $5.00 sale. I picked up two.

This first one is 2665, a jr. pattern. I just love that vest with inset buttons combo. There's even some fabric in my stash calling its name, so plan to see that soon.

And I picked up this fun little skirt. I've got no plans for it, just thought it was cute for something casual.

Okay, I must upload my knitted vest pictures from last week later today. Sheesh, what is taking me so long to get around to that?!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Well, pooh!

I have no idea what happened! I have made this dress once before with super results. The fabric of that dress was a bit thicker, but I've made bias skirts before with thin fabrics.

In this first picture I'm showing how floppy the inside wrap is. That is suppose to hug the body. Instead it is flopping forward and not at all fitted.

Here we have an unfortunate floppy neckline.

And here at the back the bias pieces of the skirt have completely stretched out and sagged down to my calves.

Not looking too bad to you? Trust me, this is beyond the point of fixable. There are several bummers here. First, I've had this fabric in my stash for 3 years. Now that I see it on it's not a huge favorite, but there's 3 yards of fabric there. That's at least $15 wasted. Second, I had to sew almost all the seams before I could try it on. Did I mention I added a full lining? So I've spent 4 days of sewing time on this junky thing. Arg!!!

Monday, February 16, 2009

And the mystery pattern is...

I've gotten several questions about the pattern of this skirt from the floral wrap top post:

It belongs to this now out of print Vogue 8129:

I've had this pattern for years. I attempted it about 4 years ago in a denim with white lace for the inverted pleats, like the green skirt pictured above. But my denim was too thick and the wrong fabric choice for the project. The problem with this design is the yoke is cut too big for the skirt. The instructions want you to ease the yoke into the skirt body. Huh? The result isn't pretty. So I went back and sewed the yoke smaller, but not small enough. I have to redo the yoke once again, and that is why it became the first garment in my unfinished objects pile. But now I've decided I don't love my floral wrap blouse with just those gray jeans and want the entire outfit including the skirt to wear together. As soon as I finish my current project, Vogue 7693, I'm planning to complete the skirt.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Bias seam tutorial

I think bias-cut garments are so flattering. They hug the body through the hips, then flair out at the hemline. They are comfortable to wear as well, bending with your elbow when used for sleeves or with your knees when used for a long skirt. Awhile back, after several failed bias-cut garments, I figured out an easy way to get perfect seams, and I thought I would share it with you. I don't know if there are easier ways of achieving this technique or not; I've never really researched it. This is just my way, and it's pretty simple.

1. Start with approximately 1" strips of tissue paper. I write approximately because I just eyeball it.

2. Now measure against your pattern. In this example, I am sewing the back seam of a dress with a bias skirt. I'm starting at the marked spot for the zipper and measuring down to the bottom. If one strip of tissue paper isn't long enough, you can tape two strips together with scotch tape.

3. Now put yourself a mark on the bottom. STOP! Do not cut yet. For some reason, bias garments hang better if you allow a little bit of stretch to the seams. In a sleeve I'd allow about 1/2" extra of tissue paper, in this skirt it was around 3/4", for a long skirt maybe 1 1/4". Now you can cut off the excess.

4. Pin your garment together. Line up any markings and make sure the sides are neat.

5. Now give yourself some room to stretch out. Pin your tissue paper strip to the top and bottom. I'm starting at the clip I made for the zipper and finishing at the bottom hem. It may look a little stretched out right now. That is okay.

6. Now, starting in the middle, pin the tissue paper to the fabric, trying to smooth out any bumps or fabric excess. Don't be afraid to use lots of pins! Take your time, and make sure the sides are neat and straight.

7. Now stitch. You are stitching on the tissue paper, so it won't stretch out. You do have to be a little careful using this method. Tissue paper does tear easily.

8. Okay, you want to carefully tear the strip away from the stitches on one side. If you go slow this should be pretty easy and neat. If you've used scotch tape to join two strips, cut the tape with scissors as close to the stitches as possible.

9. Now the other side should come off with little effort.

10. Give it a good pressing. And... Voila! Now wasn't that easy?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

BWOF 10-2008-119 - Floral wrap top

Oops! I know I wrote about all the completed projects from last week I had to post here. This week has been super busy for some reason. We were suddenly out of everything, including pants for my 4 year old that didn't have holes in the knees. So I've been running here and there purchasing things... But here's my new blouse!

It's a simple wrap top made of stretch satin from Jo-Anne's. I really love the fabric and was excited to see this blouse in the October issue of BWOF (Burda World of Fashion), also made from stretch satin. The front is cut on the bias giving it some lovely drape. Here you can see the invisible side zip:

And the other side with the gathers:

I so enjoyed making this blouse. I had zero fit issues, the fabric was a dream to work with, and everything went together smoothly. Plus, since it has some stretch to it, it's very comfortable.

Okay, here's a few detail shots. As you probably know by now, I like the bias tape. I couldn't find a light gray to match the background, but I thought this fuchsia/red matched pretty well. This is the inside neckline and facings.

This is the shoulder seam. I did french seams here and more bias tape around the armhole seam:

At the bottom hem I also used bias tape. I usually don't do this, but since in the front there were two layers of bias cut fabric, it would have been too bulky to do my usual turned under invisible hem. Plus the bias tape kept the fabric from stretching out while I stitched the hem. I used gray thread for the top and fuchsia/red for the bobbin. That way the gray showed through (barely) on the front hemline but the bias tape didn't have gray stitching showing on the inside. Here you can also see the side french hem.

Here's the sleeve hem. This is what I usually do, turning under the edge so there's no exposed raw fabric that needs to be finished.

Here's the line drawing:

You might notice my blouse wraps in the other direction. This is because after I'd cut it out, I noticed some marks on the right front of the fabric. That problem was easily solved by sewing the left side on top instead of the right.

I intended to wear this blouse with a matching gray skirt. I started this skirt last week with the intention of having it completed last weekend. I'm having fit issue upon fit issue with this dumb thing. I want to wave the white flag of defeat, but I just purchased this fabric so the cost is fresh on my mind. And I think the style is cute with that side ruffle and inverted pleat at the bottom. So I might just set it aside and come back to it in the fall. Which is something I never do. Once I start a project, I follow through until it's either completed or in the wadder pile.

Anyhow, I have a sweater completed that I need to have photographed. I guess I'll get around to that on Saturday. Have a great weekend!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Simplicity 2758 - Gray skirt w/ white topstitching

This is one of several garments made while my boys were off in west Texas with their grandparents. It is a simple design and I had zero fit issues, but all that precise white running-stitch really slowed me down. Completely worth it, though, IMO. This skirt has a front pleat and little pleated patch pockets, which totally sold me on the pattern.

I made this skirt to match this blouse, but while wearing the outfit to church this morning, I dribbled coffee all down the front. *Sigh.* This is what I call having an "Amanda moment". So you're seeing it paired with a super plain white blouse and my not-so-plain new pink pumps.

This design also features the running-stitch around the hem. Twice. That might look really cute, but I was D-O-N-E after the waistband and pockets. The waistband closes at the side and has an invisible zipper.

In this close-up you can see the white stitching and pockets better. The pattern directions have you topstitch the pockets to the skirt. I did that but it was distracting with all that other white stitching. So I sewed them invisibly by hand to the skirt instead. I love how the front pleat starts lower on the body and doesn't begin right under the waistband.

Here's a few close-up. This is the invisible zipper:

I added a full lining. When I cut the lining fabric, I decided to omit the pleat since it's purely decorative. I also attached the white running-stitch to the front side of the waistband only, so that it wouldn't show on the inside of the skirt. You know how I prefer neat insides and such. :)

I made view E, pictured on the bottom right side. I also love the white blouse they've paired it with, so might be making that one of these days.