Friday, July 24, 2015

The Forest for the Trees... with New Look 6262

I finished one more item from my summer dress queue before I headed off for a week's holiday at my parents' place -- I was really pushing it as I wanted to wear this tree covered print when I was in the mountains, surrounded by trees! Well, sort of, anyhow...I'm lucky enough to have parents who live in the beautiful Alberta foothills, so was able to wear this new dress on a day trip to Canmore and Banff. My sister kindly took some photos while we were in Canmore.

It's a super fun place to visit; many of these photos were taken in the front yard of O Canada Soap Works, where there is apparently a resident ghost. I don't think Frank was up for photos that day though, as he never made himself known. Fortunately there was a lot of soap, so we did leave with something interesting after all ;)

As to the dress itself. I used New Look 6262, a dress I have been intending to try for at least a year now. When I saw this wonderful print, in sheet form at the Goodwill, I knew exactly what it would become. Usually I'll only buy sheets or thrifted fabric made of primarily natural fabrics -- but even though this is mostly polyester I couldn't resist the print. I knew I'd love it in dress form, and I had the perfect earrings for it too.

Earrings made from caribou antler - they are many years old
I hesitated a little before starting to sew, as I'd made a few extra bodice adjustments, trying to get the fit down. I knew I'd have to take it in at the neckline, but didn't want to just take a wedge out at the centre front fold in case it unbalanced the even print. I found a tutorial to adjust the neckline gaping from an Anna dress, using an angled dart in the flat pattern. So I tried that, back and front, and it worked perfectly. The neckline sits so nicely, no gaping and yet it is not at all restrictive (I wasn't too worried about it not working, as there was so much extra fabric left to try again with -- the good thing about even a twin sheet -- lots of room for error!)

Nice flat front neckline

Back - top of zip a bit wonky but otherwise fits!

I also shortened the bodice slightly, but aside from those two things I really didn't make any other alterations. It was an easy sew. I like the fit a lot, and the way that the gathered skirt isn't TOO gathered; it looks pretty but doesn't add on 10 extra pounds around the hips and butt. Luckily for me, I found that even with the polyester content it doesn't get very static-y, so it is very wearable.

I even wore it again the first day back after my holiday and got some pictures here around home, on a sunny evening. I was visiting an outdoor labyrinth that I love and got some nice photos in that peaceful place (it's open to the public if you are ever nearby -- just drop in and explore it).

One small thing though, I do find that it pulls a bit to the back after a while and I have to readjust the shoulders. Can anyone tell me what might be causing that? Is it a forward shoulder issue? Bodice length? I am not sure what to adjust the next time I make it. And I do want to make it again because it's quick and straightforward and so comfy to wear. Plus, pockets! Yes, even though the pattern is pocketless I added side seam pockets. In a full skirt like this there's no reason not to -- I used the pocket piece from Simplicity 1419 which I made quite recently and it was perfect. I'll trace it and add it to this pattern envelope so that I have it when I make this again :)

I bought my copy of this pattern fairly recently -- about a year ago, or two -- whenever Simplicity/New Look decided to leave off selling in Canada and I bought out my local store... so any of the pattern misprint issues that were mentioned by some reviewers at PatternReview were not an issue with mine.You might want to look at yours and premeasure the bodice pieces just to be sure, though, if you do try it.

I'm pleased with this casual summer dress - now to get busy on the next few makes in the summer dress lineup - before summer ends!

Friday, July 17, 2015

The Mystery of the Singer Sewing Machine...Solved!

Last summer I shared a story about my mother's inherited Singer sewing machine, and how she's had it for years but had never been able to get all the drawers open.

This summer I visited my parents. And those questions a year ago had made my mother curious. Seeing as how she is pretty handy, she examined the locked drawers and had an epiphany. The keyholes looked to be about the same size and shape as a square-head screwdriver.

Lo and behold.....

To our chagrin (and perhaps a faint relief?) there were no dark family secrets hidden inside, but no excess of ephemera either. There was, however, the original manual, and the original oilcan.

We seem to have estimated correctly -- the model was indeed from the 1910's but as the latest copyright of the manual was in the 30's we are probably correct that Granny Emma bought it around then. 

The 1913 model -- booklet's latest copyright date was 1934 though, so it was still going strong!

My mother also had the set of attachments that her stepmother Emma had clearly bought later on, as they are marked as made for a later model. But there were many more feet than I have for my modern machine -- all stored in their own special vintage box!

I covet her ruffler, and bias binding foot. And so many more...I could barely identify them all! 
You can see the little bag she sewed to store them's pretty holey now

Just look at how complicated that ruffler foot is!
We had fun looking through the guide to all the feet.

The manual found with the feet...for a later model, with knee control (which we didn't have)

We were also greatly entertained by the illustrated instructions for the non-present knee lever (is that what inspired my new haircut?)

Finally...a mystery solved, and a lot of fascinating sewing history uncovered. Granny Emma's deep dark secrets, however, are still her own...

The machine tucked back up into its original factory paper wrapping

Thursday, July 2, 2015

KwikSew Paisley Tunic

I recently thrifted a lovely piece of fine cotton-like fabric from my local Salvation Army store -- I couldn't resist the fun print! It is very lightweight but full of colour in its blue and yellow and coral paisleys. I considered for a while, trying to decide which pattern it would suit. I really wanted a tunic in this print.
In our lovely Confederation Park

I chose KwikSew 3601 because I thought the fabric would work well with its straight lines.

 Kwik Sew Misses Pull-Over Tops 3601

 (I also have McCalls 7128 but I wasn't sure this fabric, though lightweight, would gather nicely -- it doesn't have a lot of drape) I was inspired by Mhoutz' PatternReview make, all in one fabric with piping delineating the different parts of the top.

Looking peaceful --
 just before my husband swatted a mosquito on my forehead!

I cut it and then dithered for a while because I couldn't find the right shade of blue piping to match -- I was fixated on blue. But then one evening I picked up my shoebox of vintage trims (one I picked up at a church sale for $1 for the whole box) and found an unopened package of yellow percale bias tape in the exact tone of yellow in this print. This bias tape is completely different from any of the modern cotton ones I've ever bought -- it's a fine, light weave, the perfect match for my fabric.

pale yellow and finely textured

texture of fabric & binding
I used it as flat piping, attaching it to the edges of the neck and sleeve facings first, and then stitching them as directed, leaving the folded edge of the binding free. I thought that would give it a little more dimension, rather than stitching down the outer edge of the yellow strip. I'm a little annoyed that it isn't quite even around the bottom of the neck facing, but only I would probably notice that -- well, either me or other sewing friends ;) One interesting thing I found with this vintage bias binding is that it was unevenly folded in parts, and I had to cut off a few inches because it just wasn't re-ironable to sufficient evenness. Good thing there was so much of it!

As to the pattern itself -- as per KwikSew generally, it was very clear indeed, with great illustrations and a very simple design. It was very easy to cut this one out, even with my care to cut the neck facing to echo the placement of the front bodice so that instead of the neck having other shapes shadowing through, it would lie on top of the same part of the print and make it more intense, as much as possible. I think it worked quite well, except that I completely forgot to do the same with the back neckline. But that doesn't stand out so much -- at least, I can't see it!

The only alteration I made was to shorten it by about an inch and 1/2 in length, and to shorten the sleeves to 3/4 length. I did so because I prefer a shorter sleeve, and also because I thought with this busy print and the long line of the top, the proportions on my short self might look better with shorter sleeves.Oh yes, and I cut the bodice in medium but graded the hips out to large.

I wore it today, and it is very cool and comfortable. Plus it didn't wrinkle too much -- the photos were taken after a full day of work, as we took a walk in the park on a gorgeous evening (except for the plague of mosquitoes!) So it's some kind of mix of fibres -- enough synthetic to keep from totally wrinkling but enough cotton to make it non-stifling to wear.

I am so glad I found the yellow trim. I think it really brightens it up; a good lesson to be open to inspiration even if you were thinking of something entirely else at first. I'm happy with my cheerful summer tunic!
My favourite location: the Bridge to Nowhere

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Floral Summer Zsalya

I just made my third version of the Zsalya pattern from Kate and Rose. I think this is a repeat record for me -- making 3 versions of any pattern -- and each of them is quite different.

I started with a little black dress, then made a long-sleeved flannel winter version, and now have come up with a light cotton summer version.

Looking a little washed out... and anxious to escape mosquitoes!

I'm really pleased with how this one turned out. One of the best things about remaking a pattern is that you already have all the fitting adjustments made -- it's just lay it out and cut. Nice for a change :) I had a very subdued floral print sheet that I thought would work nicely for this pattern, and I also had some piping that matched the red tones in the print perfectly. Thus was born my summer version.

I used the short sleeve option this time, and chose to use the "clean" finish for the yoke rather than the "quick and dirty" option -- both are detailed clearly in the pattern instructions and both work just fine, but on this one I thought that any extra bulk at the seams might show through the lightweight fabric, so chose the clean finish.

 Left: the yoke from the inside: clean finish on this version, the Q&D on the purple version
Right: yoke from the outside: you'll notice the clean finish has topstitching, the Q&D does not

I added piping to the neckline, easy since the yoke (front and back) is fully faced. Then as I was about to add piping to the sleeves I had an idea. Instead of adding it at the sleeve edge, I added it to the facing strip, which I sewed to the inside and turned out to the outside, stitching it down along the line of piping. I really like the banded effect it's given this blouse.

This sleeve edging is so cute

It's a comfortable top, and quite easy to put together (especially on the third go-round!) I really love this pattern. The Monthly Stitch has just posted a great interview with the pattern designer, Kati of Kate&Rose, in which I was pleased to find out that the Zsalya is one of her own favourites too :)

I like how the gathers are echoed front and back
This is one of the three tops I made this month in an effort to use up some of my stash. I was moderately successful, considering that I still bought more fabric this month than I used. How does that happen??

In any case, I love my new Zsalya, and I'm sure it's not the last one I'll make. Easy to make and to wear, and with a pretty, folksy feel. Love it.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Green & Dotted Simplicity 1280

I took a step away from some dressmaking this week to sew up a nice, easy summer top. I thought I needed something casual and cool and non-knit.

Green as the garden!

I wanted to use a set of charming IKEA pillowcases that I picked up while thrifting -- I loved the spotty green print! These pillowcase were sewn together with the fold at the end, not the side, though, so when I deconstructed them, I was left with two long strips of narrow fabric. Hmmm, what to do?

Simplicity 1280

I searched through my pattern stash, and decided on Simplicity 1280 .

I bought this pattern originally for the crossover blousy view, but when I looked closely, View E had a centre front and centre back seam, with easy cut-on sleeves. Perfect! I laid out all 2 pieces on the fabric and saw that it would fit with some tiny adjustments to the sleeve length. Which was perfect since I had to both shorten the sleeve to make it more proportional to my short arms anyhow, and take a half-inch out of both centre front and back (on the pattern piece -- grading from the neckline down to nothing at the bust line. I needed to take in an inch in total) I cut a Medium, but after all my alterations I did wonder if I just should have cut a small to begin with and just grade out to medium at the hip!

excuse the creasing, it was at the end of the day!
The only other catch was that I didn't have enough fabric to cut a bias strip to bind the neckline. I really did want to use the same fabric for the binding, especially to cross the v-neck opening, as I thought it would look better than a contrast fabric. So I carefully cut some bias binding out of the narrow 4" strip remaining at the bottom of the fabric after I cut the front piece out. I should have taken a picture of the wild twistiness of the fabric tube when it was all pinned together -- warning, try not to use long and narrow pieces of fabric to make bias binding, it gets a bit crazy! But it did work out and from just one piece of the four strips left over, I had plenty of binding to finish off the neck.

That was the only other "oops", actually. I forgot that I'd taken out an inch in the front and back and merrily sewed away, not realizing that the V opening at the front allowed me to expand and find room to stitch it all on...but when I tried it on and the V was sitting at its natural width, I had a big "U" of binding poking out in the opening. Ah ha, there's the missing 2 inches! For a second I despaired, thinking I'd have to pick off all the binding and redo much for my easy sew. But then I decided to just fold down the excess to one side and hold it by stitching a button through all layers. I think it looks like the binding is supposed to button on one side of the neck opening now.

Button at the neck. See the line of the top with the cut-on sleeve;
 it's very nice to wear

The only other thing I had to fix was just to take it in 1/2 " on each underarm & side seam. When I first wore it, it felt like I was wearing scrubs because it was so boxy; my own fault as I made it from cotton instead of the drapier fabric suggested in the pattern. So I took it in slightly to give it more shaping, and then folded up my finished sleeve hems and stitched them down again to shorten the sleeves a little more. I think that removed the feeling of scrubs. 

It is an extremely light and airy top, that fits nicely and is really cool on a warm day. I am very pleased with it. I wore it today to do some farmer's marketing and stop in at a thrift store as well, and while it creased a little from sitting, it was otherwise a perfect wear.  And just look what I discovered at the thrift store!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Lovin' some Bloglovin

Well, thanks to Oona Baloona and her reminder that Bloglovin has a new sewing category (yay!) I've finally signed up. One more way to keep track of all you sewing lovelies out there :)

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Graffiti Kimono Dress

Time to counteract some of the sweetness of my last few dresses!

Hanging out in alleyways...
I saw this fun knit print a while ago, and couldn't resist buying some. Then I had to decide which pattern I had that would highlight this print effectively.

I finally decided on KwikSew 3533. I was rather inspired by this dress that I pinned a while back, even to the piles of books all around her...something I am quite familiar with ;)

love this >> #librarianstyle

In the inspiration piece, there were no sleeve bands -- I decided I liked that look so made View A, but left the sleeve bands off and just hemmed the sleeve edges with a narrow hem. I used Steam-A-Seam in the skirt hem before stitching and it kept the edge from getting all wavy as I sewed with my regular machine. Someday I'll have a serger or maybe even a coverstitch machine, but until then... this works.

Kwik Sew Tunic and Dress 3533
Kwik Sew 3533
Also, I added pockets. I know there are problems with knit pockets sagging and ruining the line of a skirt, but I used the pocket piece from my old Simplicity 7177, which are stitched into the waistband at the top, to keep them from flopping around. I had to alter the construction process a little, as the KS called for front and back sewn together at the side seams as the last step, but it all worked out.

I also made the waist ties twice as long as called for, so that I could wrap them around to the back and then back around to the front; I far prefer a front tie, as I feel it looks both more flattering and less dated. The waistband piece on this pattern is only in the front; if it was front and back I would just have tied the regular-length ties in the front, but I did want some black at the back waist as well.

What, there is no graffiti here? I'll bring my own.

Heading into Allen's Alley, for official graffiti -- it even has
a nice sign explaining who all the people on the walls are...

The wind picked up...or was she blowing my hair around?

Front closeup, still windy!
Back view
This is a super fun, easy wear. I did wear a camisole when I wore it to work, but it's not too low to wear without one in regular everyday life. The black centre yoke piece was the only fiddly bit, especially in the very slippery knit I was using. The instructions were a bit confusing; I had to pin and flip one side of the yoke to make sure I was connecting the bodice & the yoke correctly. Once I got that sorted everything else went very quickly and satisfyingly. I know I'm going to have fun wearing this one!