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!

Friday, October 24, 2014

October's "Fire Opal" Dress

I've fallen behind in my "Make A Garment A Month" projects -- August and September have both disappeared with their respective makes still sitting in pieces on the "to do" pile...

But I jumped back in this month, with Sarah Liz's wonderful October theme, Opal. I love opals, and since they're my birthstone I can wear them without incurring any bad luck :) I have a beautiful sweater knit that I wanted to use for this month, as it's all blue and shiny white and opal-like...but instead, I couldn't resist making this new Vogue pattern from a red ponte knit that I've had in the stash  for a while.

So I'm calling it October's Fire Opal dress!

I used Vogue 9022, a pattern that I ordered pretty quickly after it was released. I like the relaxed feel of it, and the cute pockets. I thought it would be a great work dress.
Vogue Patterns Misses' Dress 9022

Once again, without even consciously realizing it, I've made a copy of the pattern cover. My dress is a similar solid red, although I could definitely see this one in a colour-blocked version. It also states that this can be made knit or woven; since I chose a knit, I left out the walking vent in the back as well as the keyhole opening at the back neck. Just stitched up that centre seam top to bottom -- I left in the seam, however, to assist with some shaping.

Back view -- what was I doing? No idea

The making of it was easy. It's just basic straight seams, no set in sleeves, and some hems & facing. I did add in an extra inch to each side below the waist by grading out, since my pattern was a medium -- and while I'm generally medium on top, I'm large on bottom. 

The only unusual bit is the pocket construction. The side panel is in two lengths, and you stitch together the bottom seam of the pocket and then fold that length over to form the pocket. Despite there being "fold lines" marked, I would strongly suggest that after folding these pieces you carefully measure both side panels to be sure that they are even -- you don't want to have to unpick one side after sewing everything and readjust it. Don't ask me how I know that.

Red dress outside on a beautiful fall day

There is no stitching to hold down the tops of the pockets -- I suppose you could top stitch them before continuing with construction if you wanted that look. As is, it is a loose, soft look that I quite like. 

Overall I am pleased with this dress. The knit has enough weight that it doesn't cling, and the lines of the pocket seam and of the neck facing don't show through. I was going to switch the neck facing to a simple turned under neckline hem, but decided against it as I wanted a clean finish, and was worried about puckering at the neckline if I just stitched it down. You could probably also finish it with a neck binding if you preferred.

Feels good to be getting back into some fall sewing with this bright and comfortable dress.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Hand Stitchery 101

Hello, I'm back! What's the reason for such a gap in my blogging? Well, boring stuff like being really busy at work etc.... but also some new projects.

One of the reasons I haven't been sewing much or posting much here is that I've been bitten by a new crafty bug -- embroidery. This is what I've been up to in my evenings over the past while.

I saw a class on Craftsy -- Design It, Stitch It: Hand Embroidery with Jessica Marquez. (highly recommended -- and on sale now!) This reminded me that I'd always been interested in hand embroidery, and I was in the mood to learn something new. So I signed up and off I went, fitting in my lessons and practice in the odd minutes between work and meetings and so on. I've only got one or two more stitches to practice before I've worked my way through this really excellent class, then I'll have to branch out and try putting them together into a design. Here's a batch of stitches from the first couple of lessons -- very first try so the fabric was pulled a bit, and I realized I needed more practice, but still very enjoyable.

Then the next couple of lessons, with looped stitches and some knotted stitches too

And then the crossed and fill stitches (I love the herringbone most). The two leaf stitches are sitting right above a curvy satin stitch which looks amusingly face-like. I still have to add in my long & short stitches along that curvy shape as well. But I couldn't resist testing out a different thread in the big open space, and freehanded a labyrinth out of pink variegated crochet thread. I quite like it. (if you like labyrinths you can also buy a set of labyrinth embroidery patterns from Sublime Stitching -- I've drawn them so often that I just freehanded this little sample)

So lots of stitching going on over here, and I'm having fun learning something new. Do you like embroidery? Do you have any great sources to share? I recently made the Zsalya dress by Kate and Rose, and their company also sells pretty Hungarian embroidery designs too. Are there any other pattern companies that include embroidery?

But it's just about time for me to finish up a couple of the dresses patiently awaiting my attention on the sewing table, so hopefully the next post or two will have some finished sewing to show you, too!