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!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Me Made May & Old Clothes

So how was Me Made May for you? I enjoyed myself, and realized that Me Made May is no longer a project that is a challenge, in the sense that a high enough percentage of my wardrobe has been handmade that I wear some of it nearly every day anyhow.

It did point out that I'm lacking self-made trousers, shorts, etc. But then I'm not really all that interested in making them, due to both the fact that I rarely wear pants and that I don't want to spend time fitting them even if I did make them!

So sartorially, May was quite interesting :)

One of the  things I found when sorting through my closet was that I could remember making each item -- when, and how, and what else was going on while I was making it. Clothing as a mnemonic device bringing the past to life...

I've already talked before about the pattern that I've owned the longest, and my regret that I don't still own the dress I made from it (yes, the first pattern I ever bought was for a dress. Pretty much still in the same habit!) But this month I looked at which garment I have actually owned the longest.

It turns out that my sunflower sundress (Simplicity 7177), made in 1990, is the item that has the longest pedigree. Would that be considered 'vintage' yet? ;)

It's very 90's -- flowy, long, shapeless, and covered in sunflowers. But the polyester faille is a hardy fabric, and this dress is so cool and comfortable that I still wear it, though these days only around the house in summer. It was the first "real" dress I made and wore regularly. It was the summer of my first year of university and my mother was teaching me how to sew properly.

This dress has pockets, a gathered skirt, and buttons on the bodice, all totally new to me. We sewed it in the evenings after my dreary day job, and so it took a while, but it was enjoyable and it's a great memory of spending time together. When I wear it I think of those hours learning from my mom.

What about you? What is the oldest piece of Me-Made clothing that you still own? Do you still wear it, or just keep it for sentiment's sake?

Sunday, May 31, 2015

May Flowers with New Look 6299

One more dress finished and worn this May! I also cut this one out a month ago, but just got it sewn up last week. I love this bright and crazy fabric...I stalked it at the fabric store for at least a year until it was finally on sale and I decided to go for it :) It is a cotton sateen with a nice stretch; quite heavy and very amenable to taking the shape I wanted it to.

I knew I wanted to make New Look 6299 when I first saw it. I like the shape of a dress that has no waist seam breaking up the line of the dress. Also I wanted to make something that was dependent on princess seams so that I could improve in my ability to sew them properly. I chose View A, with sleeves and collar. I hadn't even noticed until I got the pattern pieces out that View B & C have gored skirts. Hmmm, more ideas for later!

New Look Misses' Dress with Neckline & Sleeve Variations  6299
I adjusted the paper pattern pre-cutting with my regular above-waist shortening alterations, and also graded from a 14 at the neckline and upper shoulder to 16 across the bust and waist, to an 18 at the hips. I ended up taking in 1/2" along the bodice front princess seams, between shoulders and waist, and in the back I took the bodice princess seams in by 1" on each side. I'm not sure if it was the stretch of the fabric that necessitated so much taking in, or the weight, as the back sort of stuck out and sagged at the same time when there was too much fabric there. In any case, the princess seams do make for really easy adjustments. Once I'd taken them in I loved the way the bodice fit. The only thing I didn't do that I may do next time is to take a little bit of the length from the upper back (like 1/4 or 1/2 inch across the shoulderblades) as it puffs out a wee bit when I am standing normally, ie: with not perfect posture. But really, those are minor adjustments, as I love the way this dress fits now.

I decided on View A with the collar just to give this dress a little more interest. I like how high and large the collar is -- feels quite 60s. It has a button tab at the back that buttons over the top of the zip. I used a deep red button that matches the fabric well, but realized that it sits right above my yellow zipper pull, so might change it to a yellow button at some point. This is the first button hole I've made using my easy peasy new Janome buttonhole foot and wow, it really was easy. I was a bit nervous and made a few samples first, as I didn't want to ruin my collar -- not only was it a lot of work to get it made and attached, I also had no more fabric. I had squeezed the pieces for this pattern on to every inch of my long coveted fabric. So thankfully, no problems there.

I also love how the white flower ended up perfectly
centred at the neckline -- accidental serendipity

I also added side seam pockets, and ended up giving it just a small turned up hem as I liked the length as it was -- I had added a bit of length when cutting it out, I think an inch. It's very short on the model in the pattern picture, but I'm only 5"1' so simply by not shortening any skirt length it was already a lot longer than the original design ;)

I seem to be following quite a floral theme with my sewing this year. There's another in the queue that I hope to finish in the next couple of weeks that is also floral, so it looks like I'll have quite a bouquet of new dresses by the end of the summer.

What do you think of the floral trend? Is it for you? Or do you prefer other prints? Or maybe even... solids?