Saturday, March 28, 2015

Floral Frenzy: a Spring McCalls 7080

I felt like tackling an easy dress for my first in a long line of dress patterns that I am dying to get sewn up by summer this year.

I just bought the new McCalls 7080, attracted by the cute waist feature.

McCalls 7080

This dress is a pullover, easy to make and easy to wear, what with the gathered skirt. My only concern was that it might be too girlish for me. But what the heck, I made it anyhow.

I used a large floral print that started its life as a duvet cover. I saw it at the Goodwill and immediately fell in love with the fantastic print and colour. I knew it would never make it to my bed, rather, it went straight to my fabric stash! It's a nice crisp cotton with lots of body to it. I thought it would be a good match to this pattern (perhaps influenced by the cover photo of the yellow floral dress, which was the view that I was interested in -- no tiered skirts for me, thanks)

Full view

And look at that pattern match on the patch pockets
It was a very easy make. No closures to worry about, except for one button & loop at the back neck. Simple patch pockets. I considered switching them out to side seam pockets but decided to leave them. I easily matched the print for the patch pockets since I had a lot of fabric to work with!

Back button -- with snap underneath instead of proper button loop

I cut the bodice at size 14 as I wanted it to fit fairly closely, to compensate for the gathered skirt. Didn't want to look like everything was simply oversized. It worked very well, except that I should have cut the armscye and sleeve at 16, since they are are bit tight. But I still have lots of fabric left so could remake them if I find it unbearable after a wear or two. 

The bodice was a little shorter than I thought it should be, according to the look of the pattern cover; I didn't want an empire effect with full gathers right over the front -- trying to avoid a maternity look. So I added an inch to the bodice, just to give a little more length to play with for the tuck. I'm glad I did as it turned out just right. The tuck was the only slightly tricky part of this make. I had to carefully pin to keep it even all the way around, and even so I had a slight mishap nearing one of the side seams and my seam has a wobble. But because of the print and the fullness I don't think anyone but a sewist would notice. The skirt has a lot of fabric to it and I think the weight/awkwardness of it pulled on the seam a bit while I was stitching. I could unpick it and resew but honestly I probably won't.

I found this a fast and fun project, after all the fiddling I've done with my last couple of tries. I didn't have to unpick and redo much of anything at all. Just a little measuring and remeasuring before getting going and all was well.  I did get lazy when I was finishing the back button at night, wanting to wear it the next morning - instead of doing the button loop I sewed on the button then decided to sew on a snap under it. It works, but if I reach too far (a hazard at work) the snap pops open. I think I'll have to go back and finish it properly after all ;)

I love my spring-like dress and all its floral prettiness. I wore it with black tights & a jacket to work, both to tone down the sweetness a little, and because it was absolutely freezing out! I can see wearing it a little more 'girly' with sandals in the summer too. I'm very pleased with my "March make".

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Red Tunic, not a Redshirt

I made this top in February but didn't post about it because it didn't fit quite right on first try, and I wanted to fiddle with the neckline a bit to fix it up. Plus, then I couldn't seem to take any photos any time that I wore it! I cornered my good-hearted coworker in the back room today for some snaps. And, well, it's all here now, and I'm not sure it was really worth waiting for...

I attempted to make Butterick 6134, a pattern intended for wovens & stable knits, using the remnants of the red ponte knit that I used for my Vogue 9022 dress a few months ago. It mostly worked. I left out the centre back zip as my fabric was plenty stretchy, and cut it with very little ease, going by my upper half (might go up a size if I make it in a woven). As it was, even with leaving some 'extra' ease in the waist/hip, I had to unpick and resew my seams at 1/2" each to add a little more ease around the bottom half. Sigh. When will I learn?

In any case I love how the seams look, and I love the fit overall. I love the sleeves, such a nice raglan design, and I love the look of the neck....but not how it fits me. I need to learn how to fit this kind of raglan/high neck combo, as I love it, and I have a couple of patterns with this look, but it just doesn't work on my wonky neck/shoulder area. I took 1/2" out of the right side raglan seam (the front seam going from neck to armpit area) and then added a double layer of interfacing on the right collar bit. That seems to have made it wearable though the collar flipping out instead of standing up still occurs and drives me nuts.

I think I have to accept that I need more fitting in the shoulder area, as my right shoulder is both shorter and more slopey than the left. You can see how there's just more collar on one side; perhaps I have to take the back centre seam in to reduce the collar circumference. I have to figure this out somehow; I've been looking at a discussion on PatternReview that covers uneven shoulders, but I'm not sure I know exactly what the fix is for this problem. Definitely a learning curve.

Anyhow, I am so glad I could use the rest of my red ponte (so soft and luxurious feeling) and everyone who saw my top today commented on how much they liked's just the knowledge of how much fixing I had to do and how it still isn't right that was driving me bonkers all day!

Oh well, can't win them all. This is wearable but I'm not sure how much I'll really wear it because of these issues. Too bad, as the pattern itself is great, and I really, really like the look of the seaming. Just not sure this is the neckline for me.

Look at all those pretty seams
Haha, no. I am not pregnant. The fit is just off!
And I am slouching. Great posture, I know.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Blue Houndstooth Tunic for "Fix It February"

Well, February has started off very well on the sewing front. In the "Make a Garment A Month" facebook group, our theme is F for February: fashion or frankenpattern a garment. I seem to have gone off in another "F" direction, into "Fix It February" and finally fixed this tunic that I've had to recut and resew 3 times to get it just right (maybe that's another F...Fairytale tasks always come in threes too, don't they?)
In the fun storytime room at work...looking like
I'm about to be eaten by an octopus :)

I started this (c1997) McCalls 9079 -- view C (the red or grey one) -- at the beginning of January, using a piece of thick knit I picked up on sale -- had just enough for this pattern -- and I love, love, love the giant blue houndstooth print. That's probably why I kept at it, trying to make it wearable -- I didn't want to waste this fabric! My first mistake was not cluing in that a late 90s pattern that says "loose fitting" means gigantic, as in throw a blanket over your head and call it a day. Why didn't I measure the flat pattern? No idea. I was just going on faith! But it certainly doesn't look as big in the pattern drawing as it turned out on the first try.

So, it was absolutely enormous in the body. The length was right (though I had to shorten the sleeves at the dropped shoulder by nearly 3 inches) and the neckline was right, but it was super boxy, like a poncho more than a tunic. I unpicked and resewed, getting all sorts of puckering in the new seam. Argh. Unpicked and resewed -- still too big and still not smooth seams. I got frustrated, put it on the table and cut right up both sides, shortened and resewed the sleeves on and then sewed it back up, very slowly, using a straight stitch. With a touch of pressing it is now wearable.

Side view - you can sort of see the side vents here

You may notice that it has a side vent, and that the back is slightly longer than the front. It feels like a very swingy, mod kind of tunic. I really like how it finally turned out...and even after all that remaking I still love the fabric! The sleeves and bottom hem are just turned under and stitched, which is why the back hem is a bit wavy. I probably should have used some steam-a-seam before I turned it under. But honestly, I just wanted it done so I could wear it today, haha. Impatient sewer. This pattern has good bones but if you have a copy and want to make it, measure first. As I keep telling myself.

Perhaps I should continue this theme and finish some of my other mending tasks that will make a few more things wearable.

(PS - I've linked this make up with a new blog round-up, Sew It Chic in a Week. If you'd like to share your weekly makes, feel free to pop on over to Gray All Day and link it up!)

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Rose Kwik Sew aka Givenchy Inspired Tunic

I was inspired by PatternReview's "Bargainista Fashionista" contest running this month -- I love the idea of making something yourself that you've seen featured in a magazine or on! However, I had a really tough time finding the right fabric for the piece that inspired me:

A silk Givenchy blouse that retails for $1331.00 Can.
(why the extra $1?)
But then I realized that it's really the floral on a dark background that I'm crushing on right now, and I love the contrast of the silky black collar, placket and cuffs. I had a pattern that was slightly similar that I've been meaning to make up for a while, Kwik Sew 4016.

It's similar, though easier as there are no closures etc. But. It was theoretically easier.

Once I found a similar-ish fabric (a beautifully soft and drapy rayon challis) in a fantastic black floral print, I decided to go for it. I cut out the slippery rayon and polyester contrast fabric, started sewing, and discovered that the pieces were not the same sizes for the medium that I'd cut. This stalled the sewing process as I got out all the paper pieces and re-measured and rechecked -- yes, I had cut the right pattern pieces, but they didn't match up. When I sewed in the front insert I saw this:

After double checking and sewing facing on anyhow

I can be spatially challenged, so I wondered if there was some reason for this that I was missing at the moment, and left it that way. Good thing, because when I pinned the collar on, it only reached to the edges of the floral front pieces. Instead of recutting a collar to the full length and trying again, I decided to stitch the inset piece and its facing together at the level of the base of the collar and turn it:

Then I sewed the collar to abut that spot. I actually love how it turned out, and it worked so well, I pored over the pattern illustrations and instructions to see if that was what I was supposed to be doing all along. Nope. But I like it.

Stop here

Done! I like it.

The rest of the top went together just fine, as it was supposed to. It was pretty quick, indeed, but I really do think that the pattern pieces should line up. I'm totally second-guessing myself now and wondering what I did wrong to encounter that issue...I feel like I should make a second one right now to check if the pattern is indeed wonky or if was just me...if anyone else has made this please let me know if you've had issues like this. I don't like criticizing a pattern (and hope it isn't misplaced) but I don't think it was me.
Done (and taking pics while freezing outside!)

In any case, I absolutely LOVE the finished product. The rayon is amazing -- soft, silky, flowy -- and I adore the print. The fit is great around the bust area; loose-fitting but not huge -- there is a great shape to it even if it is a casual fit. If I make another, I'll be bringing that neckline notch up a couple of inches, though. I find it very low. And I just might narrow the centre piece since I am a smaller person (I ended up shortening the top by 2.5 inches before cutting, perhaps taking in some width would balance it nicely)
And from the back. Love this fabric!

Whew. My first garment started and finished with my new sewing machine (thanks, Mom!) and a fun entry into the Bargainista Fashionista the way, the cost of my top ($7.50) compared to the original represents a saving of 99.4 % -- home sewing for the win ;)

Collar in action

Side by Side

Monday, January 12, 2015

First Make of the Year: Purple Zsalya!

I found this beautiful floral flannel at the store just before Christmas, and knew exactly what I wanted to make with it. I immediately knew that the Zsalya tunic would be amazingly comfortable in this soft, warm fabric.

I first made the Zsalya pattern (by Kate and Rose) at the beginning of the summer; I bought it because of Indie Pattern Month in May. I love my little black dress, and knew that the tunic version was a must-make, too, especially in a cozy winter fabric.

nice coworker snapping me at work!

While I had this all cut out and prepped during the Christmas holiday, I didn't get a chance to start sewing until this weekend. I took the weekend for myself, and stayed in the whole time, and what a treat that was! I changed the order of sewing somewhat; while I followed the instructions carefully for the yoke, and decided to choose the "quick & dirty" version of finishing it this time around, I then decided to set the sleeves in flat. This worked great, until I'd sewn up the sides and then realized I hadn't attached the cuffs while the sleeve was flat, as the pattern instructs you to. I sewed them on like a band but it was tight going and I had to carefully manipulate the fabric to make it work. So, pay attention to the instructions :)

Crossover yoke, so comfy
This is such a great pattern. I really love all the little details -- the crossover yoke, the gathered sleeve with shaped cuff, the gathers at the yoke front and back. It is super comfy and yet still dressy and pretty, at least I think so. This winter version in flannel is cozy and the bright print made me feel spring-like even in -20C weather!

Gathered sleeve & cuff with little wave

Back view with gathers

The purpley-navy tones in the fabric also got me going on a mending job I've been meaning to get to for months -- a simple cinching of the waist on a navy knit skirt I picked up on super-sale at Target in November. I wore my new Zsalya with this skirt and my navy Rose Hip tights (from Seamster Patterns) to work today, for a great new functional outfit. Hurrah for finishing my first project of 2015!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Year's Sewing Resolutions

Fancy tree made by a coworker -- such fun!

As this year comes to a close, I'm looking back and realizing that I'm a slow and steady kind of sewist. I pushed myself in the middle of the year and then backed off for a my primary resolution for 2015 is:

1. Slow and steady. Be the tortoise, not the hare.
Easier said than done, when I feast my eyes on all the wonderful patterns out there that I just want to make NOW. But when I'm overwhelmed by choice, I end up not making anything at all. So...choose one and make it start to finish.

2. And in a related resolution -- get back on track with my Make a Garment a Month challenge. Having the support of other sewists who are doing the same is really helpful. I must continue!

3. Another related resolution -- finish those UFOs one way or another. Finish sewing them, or decide to let them go.

4. My final resolution: learn new skills.
I have signed up for a number of Craftsy classes and I'm halfway through a couple of them. I want to watch them in full, and then work through them to learn better fitting skills, and some new tricks and tips as well.

5, And another extra one -- keep going with my embroidery and get enough practice in to actually get good at it!

Those are my sewing goals. I have so many patterns and so many lengths of fabric in my sewing corner that I've got to get some projects made just to keep from being buried under a fabri-lanche.

I wish all my fellow sewists a very happy New Year and abundant Sew-Jo in the months ahead!

Fun long-distance gift from my best friend. Does she know me or what!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Pattern Review's Great Sewing Bee, Part I

This month Pattern Review is doing a really fun contest, modelled on the Great British Sewing Bee (a show I really love) It's set up so that's there is an assignment each week, and then you find out if you go on in the competition at the end of each challenge. This first week was an A-Line Skirt; I joined in, but alas, will not be moving on. Probably a good thing; now I can cheer for everyone else while getting busy on all the Christmas sewing I have in the queue! And pushing myself to do this in a week (actually less) really helped me get over that 'sewing block' I've had for the last month or two.

For my attempt, I used a vintage pattern that I have had in the stash for a while, Simplicity 9825. I also used some navy polycotton from my stash, and made a contrasting waistband from a floral sheet with nice blue/purple tones in it. The skirt pattern was only 17 inches long but instead of lengthening it I added a contrasting hem band of the same floral.

Lapped zip at centre back, a tiny hook & eye (gah, I hate those things) and a lining. I used some pretty mauve lining that my husband uncovered when he cleaned up my sewing space ;)

I had fun doing this, even though 3 of the 7 days of the challenge were taken up with my being away from home. I sewed like the wind the rest of the time -- until the late nights, resulting in dark pictures. But one of the results of my weekend away was that I discovered a style of embroidery called Kantha, which comes from the region of Bangladesh/West Bengal. (one of the people at the class I was at also ran a charity selling hand-stitched scarves from that area) Kantha is a style that uses a simple running stitch that adds some really nice texture to cotton fabrics (often old saris) It can get a lot more fancy too -- but I just wanted to try this out with the basic stitch. So I stitched the waistband and hem band as contrast.

It was a lot of fun, and I really, really like how it turned out. It feels pretty and it fits, yay! Here are more pics.

Closeup of my attempt at Kantha

Such pretty lining
**addendum: I've just seen that Round 2's challenge is to make a men's button down....whew, am I glad I am not doing that, LOL!