Finally, A Seasonally-Appropriate Thing!

Look at me, back here already! ūüėȬ†Thanks to a recent flash of inspiration (don’t you love those?!?), I have something new to share with you all! What inspired me? FABRIC! (Duh.)

There have been so many incredible tropical prints coming out for the new Spring/Summer season (in the Northern Hemisphere, that is), and many of my favorites were on rayon. I decided that a tropical print rayon had to be my next project! After trawling through multiple fabric sites and not 100% connecting with any designs for me (or balking at the price points of the ones I did like), it occurred to me that I had something perfect in my stash already: a palm leaf-print plum and aqua rayon challis I bought on Fabric.com (NAYY) about a year ago.

When I was re-organizing my stash and found this stuff again,¬†I had planned on making pajamas out of it, but where’s the fun in that?!? The colors are good on me, and in the aftermath of this latest¬†inspiration explosion, I¬†decided I didn’t want to “waste” the print on pajamas. Having decided that I NEEDED to sew this fabric right now, I had to figure out what to make. A dress was the obvious choice, since I had 3 yards of fabric. But which dress?!? While searching one fabric site for “rayon,” some sewing patterns came back (since they listed “rayon” as a recommended fabric) and the Reeta Midi Shirtdress from Named was one of them. (I hadn’t bought any patterns from their Spring/Summer 2017 release and only even liked three of them–that’s normal for me and Named, as their S/S stuff doesn’t jump out at me right away like their F/W stuff does. My love is a peculiar love.) I was struck by the beautiful fabric of the Reeta sample, which is viscose/rayon. I was sold! I bought and printed the pattern 2 Fridays ago and had it put together and the fabric cut later that very night! O_O For me, that’s some high-octane¬†action.

Anyway, here are photos!¬†ūüėČ

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Graceful-ish

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Who’s that happy weirdo?

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That’s more like it!

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Earth Day love!

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My feelings about there being no hammock in the hammock stand.

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Strike a pose

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…maybe not *that* pose. O_o

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Poison ivy in the foreground, nice.

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Showing off the collar and neckline!

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Gotta get the pup in there!

Pretty cool, huh? I love it!! I will probably wear this once a week all summer, LOL! I am especially proud of my pleated breast pockets, which I had never made before this; doing them in rayon challis was “fun” but they really turned out great! Well, except for the fact that the loud-ass fabric renders them nearly invisible despite no attempt by me to pattern-match them…

(Also, what is it with me and making Named dress patterns in ridiculous fabrics??)

I used a contrasting dark teal thread for my buttonholes–livin’ dangerously! I asked my Instagram friends if I should go with matching plum or the contrast, and they (you) voted overwhelmingly for matching thread.

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Testing buttonholes and thread colors!

But I can’t explain it, I just felt like the dress needed this pop of darker blue/green against all the purple. So I disobeyed my pals–sorry, guys!!! I do value your opinions (or I wouldn’t ask!) but sometimes, the heart just wants what it wants! After doing a partial test buttonhole, I realized I needed some stabilizer under the fabric or the results would be a hot mess. (You can see that partial buttonhole in the photo above–yikes!) That meant I finally got a chance to use my Tear Away stabilizer that I bought forever ago. It worked wonders and my buttonholes look pretty fabulous, if I may be so bold. ūüėČ (Especially considering that they’re on rayon challis!) I used buttons that I got from Wawak last year (thank you, Past Me, for judiciously buying multiple dozens¬†of buttons in a few neutral colors). I settled on white in the end, because this dress needed¬†something clean and understated about it.

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Buttons and buttonholes in action!

And now for a “Do as I say, not as I do” moment: I didn’t use any interfacing on this dress. *ducks for cover* I brought down my cotton muslin with all the best intentions of using it, but in the end I decided to see how I liked the drapier quality of the challis on its own, especially on the shirtdress features. The collar was my biggest concern, and I had enough scrap fabric left to recut it if necessary, but I decided I liked it without any firming up. I pressed it carefully, as always, and I think the dress looks well-made and very nice as-is. The collar is very light and flimsy, but so is the rest of the dress. I don’t regret my decision, but I will say that I usually¬†NEVER forgo interfacing, and neither should you. ūüėČ I just liked the idea of a totally breezy midi dress this time around! Actually, while challis is a perfectly acceptable fabric for this pattern, a rayon poplin would have been my IDEAL material. Maybe I’ll get my hands on some eventually!

Pattern Alterations

As per usual, I couldn’t get away without making some fitting adjustments. I added my usual-with-Named 1″ at the bust line front and back and adjusted the shoulder slope of the front piece (adding 1″ to the outer edge at the armhole and tapering into about 1/4″ at the neck opening). I got away without needing to move the bust dart, which is always nice! I was not so fortunate when it came to the armholes though, having fucked with the shoulder slope at that edge to the tune of 1″, and therefore adding length to the armholes. Since this is a sleeved garment, that extra length needed to be added to the sleeve cap as well. This tutorial does a good job of showing how to add length to a sleeve cap without also enlarging the bicep of the sleeve. That’s the method I used, and I walked/measured the¬†pieces afterwards to confirm that they would be compatible.

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All the altered pattern pieces!

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Sleeve piece after cap height was added

Finally, I took¬†a bit of length off the hem, because 1.) Named already drafts for a height of 5’8″, and I am at most 1″ taller than that, 2.) I added 1″ at the bust and another 1″ at the outer shoulder (which does add length to the dress overall), and 3.) my legs are short for my height, proportionally. This should be a midi dress, and it was hitting me well below that point. All told, I took about 2-3″ off the original hem length; I also opened the side splits a bit so they were close to the original length, since they had been affected by¬†my hem shortening extravaganza. I trust Named’s proportions on design, and wanted to make sure I didn’t lose that effect; based on the modeled photos on their site, mine are damn close.

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Side splits, doin’ their thing.

All that said, I should have checked the pocket placement after doing so much lengthening: they’re a bit low, but I think only by about 1/2″. And if I’m being picky, the dart point could stand to extend about 1/2″ closer to the apex. But all things considered, I think the dress fits very well.

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My beautiful pockets! Just a touch too low, but NBD.

Construction Notes

The Reeta dress was fairly simple to assemble–if you’ve made a shirtdress before (or a shirt!), you can do this. However, things got a little more complex thanks to the convertible collar with facings (as opposed to a stand + collar + button band combo) and the use of a yoke facing. You can’t just do the burrito yoke method and get a perfectly clean finish everywhere, so don’t get cocky like I did: I sewed my burrito and came back to the directions to find that I should have done it their way. I unpicked back to the part where both the yoke and yoke facing are sewn to the dress back and started again from there. It was complicated at¬†the end, simply because the instructions are fairly short, and the illustrations weren’t clicking for me right away.¬†Just go slow, make sure your mind is fresh, and keep checking your assembly against their instructions. The resulting finish is impeccably clean and fully enclosed, and you won’t regret taking the extra time!¬†(I did manage to sew my collar on upside-down the second time without realizing until after I was done with the whole shebang, so all my careful rolling of the seam was wasted. GRRRRRRRRR.)

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Finished yoke/facing/collar/dress thing–whew!

The instructions would have you use purchased drawstring cord for the waist, but I am of the opinion that this¬†tends to look cheap. #sorrynotsorry I made my own 1/4″ drawstring out of my fabric by cutting a 1″-wide strip, turning the short ends in by 1/2″, pressing the whole strip in half length-wise, opening it back up and pressing both raw edges to the center crease length-wise,¬†and then pressing THAT mess in half length-wise along the center line and sewing down the open edges. Still with me??? O_o I didn’t bother with a bias strip either, just a straight grain one–not only is that unnecessary for this application, I didn’t have the yardage anyway!! I used some rayon seam binding for the casing–it’s only 1/2″ wide but if you sew it right at the edges, it’s no problem to fit a 1/4″ tie through it.

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Waist tie casing, made from Hug Snug seam binding.

OH! And despite that drawstring waist, there is NO waist seam on this dress. So your front and back pieces (and front facings) are LOOOOOOONG. As such, I can’t recommend playing Pattern Tetris with anything but your sleeves, collar, back yoke, and pockets on this one–trust the fabric requirements, folks.

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All that’s left of 3 yards of fabric: daaaaaaaamn.

Conclusions

So there you have it: another wildly successful Named project! I am so glad to have one much-needed Summer/Spring dress added to my wardrobe, especially since I used fabric AND notions that I already had on hand. That’s right: the only thing I bought for this project was the pattern, which I would have eventually bought anyway. Sewing doesn’t get much better than that, does it? ūüėÄ Well, Tom did find a way to make it slightly better, thanks to his epic Photoshop skills. This dress has now “theoretically” crossed time and space, making it The Greatest Ever:

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I dare you to beat THIS on #tbt

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DRESS…….IN…….SPAAAAAAAAAAACE

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“Mads” the Mountaineer!

And speaking of kickass Summer dresses, I think I will do a planning post for a summer wardrobe next. I desperately need more options for that season, and it is coming on fast! My goal will be to use only stashed fabric, and to focus on those patterns I already own.

In closing (FINALLY), I will leave you with one final me-made-related thing! We did band photos a few weeks ago (UGH the week before my hair got touched up–that figures), and I decided to wear one of my Inari dresses for the shoot! I am so pleased that I got to wear something that I like and feels like “me,” that I think looks “cool,” and that I MADE for band photos. SEWING ROCKS!!!

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Sitting in my car with 6 weeks of roots, waiting for the rest of the group to arrive. ūüėČ

See you all soon!

What have you been sewing lately? Do you ever curse yourself for choosing a tricky fabric for garments that require precision? How do you feel about the midi trend: LOVE or HATE? 

 

A Tale of Two Tops

Hi! Wherever in the world you are, I hope your weather has at least been consistent: ours has been somewhat confused about what season it is! One week it was in the teens (F) and then suddenly we had a few days of 40-50 with rain. One day, it was 60F!! And now it’s back to 40s and 50s forecast for this week. Come on, Ohio, pick a lane!!

So here I am, with not one but 2 new tops to share! One was called out in the planning post a while ago, and the other got an honorable mention by way of me whining about Named’s Fall line and how I wanted to sew ALL OF IT* right now. On these grounds, I am calling this a technical victory on both garments as far as sticking to my plan goes. ūüėČ

*Except for literally only one pattern from that collection, which was the only one I did not buy. Yikes.

We did our photos indoors this time, in our attic studio. Which is orange. (2 shades of orange, to be precise.) So we had to hang up a blanket to make it work for these tops! I had the first top on during our test photos so that’s mostly what we got–not as many detail shots on that one. But it’s definitely the less interesting of the two, so…

First up, a Lark tee! I opted for the 3/4 sleeves with the boatneck for this first one.

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Purple-iscious Lark tee!

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My face when we’re testing the lights

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Supposed to show the flawless twin needle hem–oh well.

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Testing lights again…

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Literally the only shot we got of the back of this top, and I’m pretending to twerk in it. Awesome. O_O

I am so sorry about that last pic, you guys–my ass has this super power where it can make itself look bodacious on camera sometimes, much to my constant consternation. Okay, I guess I’m not that¬†sorry because I still posted it, and it is pretty funny.¬†I promise you that Le Azz¬†is rather underwhelming IRL and is about what you’d expect from someone who wears size 00 jeans (i.e., sad). ūüė¶ ANYWAY…

My Lark tee is a riff on the whole “luxurious basics” thing: simple garment, swish fabric. That fabric is a gorgeous Telio bamboo/lycra jersey from Fabric.com. (YES, they have Telio fabrics now you guys.) This particular fabric is great: soft to the touch, plenty stretchy, but with a nice weight. I love the color, too. This fabric shrank like the devil in the washer/dryer cycle; not a shock, since bamboo is a cellulose fiber and that’s a risk you take, but I¬†still managed to be surprised when I went to lay the fabric out to cut! ūüėČ

Unlike¬†every other time I’ve made a Grainline pattern, I did not add any length to Lark. None. It’s clearly drafted to be longer, and I like that about it. There are plenty of neckline and sleeve options on Lark, which is nice. That being said, it’s definitely not a fitted top: this is a size 0 (my usual Grainline size) with¬†a little bit extra removed from the waistline. I like a good relaxed-fit tee now and then, and I know that Grainline’s aesthetic doesn’t really jive with “body-con” anything, but I think I will bring future Larks in a bit more all over to give me some definition. I would feel frumpy in tops that were this loose all the time, if I’m honest. I think it’s something about the fitted sleeves in combination with the loose-but-not-oversized body…I just can’t deal!

With respect to this top specifically, I now remember¬†why I don’t wear boatnecks: bra straps. O_O

Sewing-wise, this was dead simple. I serged everything but the hems and sewed my hems with….DRUM ROLL…a stretch twin needle! Weeeeeeeeeeeeee!¬†¬†I opted for the narrower one of the two that I have because it matched my RTW tees. I tested it on a scrap first and, apart from making sure to use knit interfacing for all my hems (including the neckline), I just went for it. I am pleased to report that the interfacing prevented the dreaded tunneling effect (which was present on my un-interfaced test scrap)!

So that’s this Lark tee. There will be more, that’s for sure!

And now for the star of this post, the Named Talvikki Sweater!!!!!!

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Big orange sweater

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This face reflects how I feel about this top

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Infinity Arms!!!!!!! It’s amazing what a funny photo angle can do…

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Neckline. It does stand up by itself, I just didn’t adjust it before we started taking pics. =(

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Wiggling.

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My flaps are fly as fuck.

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“Ughhh I can’t with this bitch…”

Re: that last photo, I HAD TO. HAD TO. I got the idea immediately when I decided I was going to post these tops together. I died laughing when Tom got the Photoshopping¬†done. HILARIOUS. (And free of twerking…)

So anyway, Talvikki! AKA, the Big Orange Sweater. I fucking love this thing. The collar! The darts! The hem! The fabric! Gahhhhhhh. I apologize for the odd-looking dents and stuff around the front shoulder/neck area; it’s because my collarbones and shoulders are very prominent (read: boney as fuck) and the fabric is kind of catching and pooling on them weirdly.

Speaking of fabric, this is a scuba/neoprene knit from Gorgeous Fabrics. I bought it a while ago but immediately thought of it again when this pattern was released–it seemed like the perfect match, and I think that instinct was right on! It’s hefty enough to support the collar (I opted not to interface my neck facing but YMMV), and has just¬†enough stretch to satisfy the pattern’s very specific requirements (30% minimum). And since I bought 3 yards, I still have enough left to make a skirt! #winning ¬†ūüėÄ And can I just say that my favorite thing about scuba is the way it totally dissolves when you pull on tiny pieces of it?!? I find it bubble wrap-levels of mesmerizing:

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Seriously, how the f*ck does it do that?!?!?

Construction-wise, there wasn’t much to this top once I got past those neck darts. Those were by far the fiddliest part! I did most of the remaining work at my serger, but used my machine to attach the neck facing. Since none of the hems have to stretch, I just single-needled them. I will note, for the record, that I used a stretch needle in a size 90/14 and had no issues whatsoever. When in doubt, always test on a scrap first!!

I did add 1″ of length to this top, which is¬†now a standard adjustment for me on any Named tops and bodices; I added it at the bust line. Normally I would change the shoulder slope on a Named top as well, but this one has a dropped shoulder and funnel neck so I opted just to leave them be.¬†I’ve seen other folks debating whether they want to slim the sleeves down, which I totally understand. As for me, I agree that they’re a lot of sleeve, but I don’t mind them as-is.

So there you have it: two new tops! They’re certainly very different from each other, but I am glad to have both of them added to my wardrobe.

That’ll do it for me today–thanks for checking in!¬†I’ll be back before too long, because I just organized my fabric stash this weekend and can’t wait to show you guys!!

Have you sewed anything new recently?¬†Do you¬†find it easy to pair fabrics with patterns? Do¬†you ever look at a potential blog photo and wonder “How did that happen?!?” or, “OMG do I really look like that?!?”¬†ūüėÄ

(PS: Let me know what you think of the new theme on the site! I didn’t like how narrow my old one made all the text so I decided to tweak it. If you find the site hard to read or navigate, please let me know!)

Kielodoscope Dress (aka The Dress That Taste Forgot)

Hello there!

Somehow, I have made YET ANOTHER Penny raglan:

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Striped Penny, after a full day of wear

I wear that one a lot, too, in case you were wondering.

More miraculously, I have managed to sew a third consecutive pattern from my mega planning post. WHAT?!?!?!?!?!?!? To be fair, had I not started on this dress before our bathroom remodel swung into high gear, it wouldn’t be finished yet–it’s been hectic around here!

One word of warning: this dress is not classic, understated, or tasteful. At all. But I love it!

Behold, the pun-tastic Kielo Wrap Dress which I have dubbed “Kielodoscope”:

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Ta-Dah!!!!

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Wrapping it up!

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Skirt flaps for daysssss

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Wing-a-lings

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Back view of the wing-a-lings

Where do I even start with this one?? I had mentioned in the planning post that I wasn’t really sure if I had a suitable fabric for this pattern: it needs about 2 yards of a light and drapey fabric with at least 20% stretch, and most things I could think of only had about 2 of those qualities. A¬†review of my stash spreadsheet reminded me that I owned this¬†Nicole Miller fabric, and my inner¬†mad scientist¬†began to plot. (Fun Fact: I also totally bought the bright stretch twill version of this fabric, because of course I did. #ALLthepixelatedfabrics) The fabric is described as a chiffon, but it’s not as sheer as I expect a chiffon to be, polyester or not. This polyester/spandex blend has a very “springy” quality to it and the weave is tight, but the fabric drapes pretty¬†well. It IS a woven, and¬†barely has adequate stretch for the pattern’s guidelines. FWIW, I sewed the dress with both my serger and sewing machine. Sewing machine work was done with a straight stitch and a 70/10 Microtex needle.

This project was very much a whim. I got the idea, dug out the fabric and put the PDF together over Labor Day weekend (in between trips to our soon-to-be-remodeled bathroom to work on paint stripping: FML), and cut out the fabric on Labor Day. I worked on it in spurts after that point, but since it’s a pretty quick sew, it came together in no time–I finished it in about 10 days, which for me is pretty quick for a full dress in a woven! All that was left was to make time for pictures, which we did this past Friday!

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Goofing off

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Candid

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Back split

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Portrait pose

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Eeeeew nature!!!

Pattern Alterations

After I got the pattern taped together and cut out, I held the pieces up to my body (which is super scientific, I know) to see how things were looking. It was obvious that the bust point and waist were too high for me (front AND back), so I went ahead and added the necessary 1″ at the bust line on the pattern pieces. This put the bust and waist in the right spots but I needed to re-draw the dart point and legs AND true up the new side seams. Easy enough, but important to consider!

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Revised pattern pieces

However, since Named drafts for a height of 5’8″ and I am at most 1″ taller than that, this added torso length makes the dress almost too long for me. After wearing it for these pictures (in flats), I am happy with the length but definitely wouldn’t want it any longer.

I also changed the slope of the shoulders. Named patterns tend to angle too steeply upward at the inner shoulder/neck for my body, which I notice in my Inaris. (In other words, my shoulders are less sloped than what they are drafting for.) So I made this change to compensate for that quirk.

Finally, I lengthened the tie pieces at the start. They just looked really short to me, even after taking into account that they are cut on the fold. I wrap them around me from the front, around the back, and then tie them once they come back around to the front. As drafted, they measure roughly 33 3/4 inches (not including seam allowances). The final length of my ties is a whopping 49 inches and I love them. ūüôā¬†I actually had to go back and measure those, since I just cut them out on the fly, LOL.

Additional Project Notes

I didn’t really bother with pattern matching with this fabric; I only had the bare minimum 2 yards (Named calls for 2 yards at 60″ wide, and I had 2 yards at 58″ wide)¬†and at first, I was worried I wouldn’t have enough. I did have enough, but only¬†just¬†enough. Plus the cutting person at Joann’s didn’t even out the already-cut end of the yardage before measuring, so one end was less usable for a “cut on the fold” application because of the inward angle on one layer’s raw edge. Needless to say, I laid the two main pieces out on the fabric together BEFORE cutting anything, LOL. That’s what happens when you buy fabric without a plan, folks! ūüėõ I considered myself lucky not to have to piece the ties together, especially after deciding to lengthen them!

The colors move on the diagonal–I cut this dress on-grain with the stretch–which made it that much more of a challenge to line up the bands of color. Combined with the lack of extra yardage, that meant taking a more relaxed approach to “stripe” matching. So I did!¬†This is most evident at CB, where the diagonal color bands are offset by a few inches. :-/

Finally, I increased the height of the back split: I couldn’t walk in it as it was drafted!! (Well, I could walk, but only Geisha-style.) The original split measures 15 3/4 inches, and mine now measures 18 1/2 inches (both measured from the hem once sewn). I also made my own bias out of leftover fabric, and used that to finish the armholes and neckline. To cut down on bulk and because of concerns about pressing a sharp crease in poly/lycra binding strips, I serged one side of the bias binding before attaching it, and then topstitched from the outside to finish off those areas. Not super classy–what about this dress is?!?!?–but effective nonetheless. ūüôā

For the record, all my pattern measurements are taken from the EUR32 size–they may be different on another size.

If I make this again, I¬†want to¬†re-angle the darts toward the side seams¬†about 1/2″ at the apex (the root is in a good spot). Without getting too gorey here, I will say that the apex as-is is over the edge of the “bullseye”¬†rather than the center of it. ūüėČ I also have issues with all my bras and this dress!! I have one bra that fits my breasts well (I call it my “Honest Bra” because there is no padding, LOLOL) but it makes me look droopy and sad in this dress. My other bras really don’t fit–they’re too big and the cups buckle due to lack of, er, “filling”–and in this dress, you can¬†really tell unless I tighten the straps up really tight, as we did for these photos. (Yes, “we”: I needed a bit of help with that!) So that’s a bummer, and I may need to give myself a little more ease (width-wise) from shoulder to bust point in any future versions to skim over that problematic area.

Gripes

I think that, as sewers, many of us find comfort in the presence of directions: they help us get from point A to point B as the designer envisioned. But often, it is best to trust your experience (assuming you have it) and think critically about what the directions are telling you to do before you do it. Case in point: the Kielo instructions tell you to finish the raw edges of the side seams, hem, shoulder, and center back seam allowances before you do any sewing on those seams. And, instead of doing what I would normally do–think about it, and decide whether or not I agreed–I did as I was told. This was a waste of time and serger thread and electricity, y’all. I should have just sewn the side and center back seams on my serger to start with, although I did use my sewing machine for the shoulders after serging the allowances separately so they would lay as flat as possible. Luckily, I realized the wastefulness of those instructions before I got to the hem; I turned that raw edge under 1/4″, and then turned up the remaining 1/2″ and pressed again. Much better!

I also should have been more critical of the order of events, but ultimately found those aspects of the instructions much less annoying than the finishing BS noted above!

For all my complaining there, I am a proper Named fangirl–I love their work, their design and drafting sensibility, and pretty much everything about them (especially now that their PDFs come layered). So if the worst thing I can say about their patterns is that I don’t like some of the instructions, I’m still a very happy bear! ‚̧

And now, for some outtakes!

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Artful (Read: Blurry) backside

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What Tom gets when he says, “Say Cheese!!!”

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Table acrobatics?

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Tangled.

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My favorite pic, tbh…

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The colors!!!!!

So that’s my Kielodoscope dress! Eye-searing, yes, but I like it. And it’s done just in time for cooler weather that isn’t sleeveless-dress friendly, LOL.

What have you been sewing? Do you ever buy fabric without a plan? 

Scout Tee in Ikat

Good news, everyone: I’ve finally finished something new! Behold: the Scout Woven Tee¬†in genuine ikat! Apologies for the poor quality of these photos–I finished the top around 10PM last night and wanted these done before I went to bed! Tom was a little tipsy after having some beers with his friends, which surely didn’t help matters, LOL! (And I HATE being photographed in skinny jeans, but this is definitely a “with jeans” top, so I’m grudgingly allowing for an exception.)

Front view

Front view

Awkward side pose

Awkward side pose

Rear view

Rear view

Scout innards

Scout innards

Obligatory 6AM selfie

Obligatory 6AM selfie

Maybe you can’t tell, but I LOVE this top!! I’m so proud of it, and proud that I was able to get it together so quickly. I made 2 mojo-smashing mistakes (inserted one sleeve inside-out, and got almost all the way around the hem attaching the bias binding only to notice that I was attaching it to the inside, not the outside) on two of my three work nights on the final version, but still got this top done in about 4-5 total hours of work time. For me, that’s basically the speed of light.¬†=D

This top is really easy. Like, so easy I didn’t bother reading the instructions once I finished my muslin on Friday. As with my muslin, I cut a straight size 0. I did bias facings for all the hems and the neckline, and got to use a bright orange vintage binding from my stash for the task. The weave of this ikat is loose, so I did french seams everywhere but the armholes; I only skipped the armholes because the sleeve seam allowance on this pattern is a scant 1/4″. For the moment, those seams are raw-edged, but I think I will trim and bind them for security. This fabric frays¬†horribly¬†so I¬†don’t want to take the chance of those areas falling apart with wear or washing. Apart from that, though, this Scout definitely has the prettiest innards¬†out of all the things¬†I’ve made; it helps that there is no “wrong” side with my fabric, of course!

As I mentioned in my last post, I had to add a lot of length to this top due to the nature¬†of my midsection. The side photo above is deceptive, because I actually eliminated the high-low hem effect; I must have been arching my back or twisting awkwardly when that photo was taken. Fit-wise, I’m really happy with the final product, though I concede that it needed no “fitting.”

Because my fabric is somewhat irregular pattern-wise, I decided not to worry about pattern matching everywhere. I decided I wanted the vertical stripes to line up at the shoulders, and they do! I disobeyed a direct order and cut the sleeves on the cross grain, and I did that for two reasons: I wanted that vertical stripe to circle around¬†the bottom of the sleeve (a smashing success, if I do say so myself) and I wanted to conserve fabric. I had foolishly hoped to be able to squeeze something else out of my 2 yards of 44″ wide ikat, but I don’t see how that’s an option now that this top is done–I’ve got very little usable material left over. Such a miracle was little more than the fever dream of a madwoman, I suppose…But at $17.50/yard, can you blame me for trying?!? Thank goodness I used thread and binding from my stash, because this was an expensive-ass tee!!

What’s the most expensive “basic” in your wardrobe?¬†

Vintage Simplicity 1173 – The Playsuit Has (Basically) Landed!

You guys.

You guys!

YOU GUYS!!!

My playsuit from vintage Simplicity 1173 is basically finished. I need to hem the leg holes, but that’s it! Also, one of my buttons got sewn on off-kilter, so I also need to fix that, but that’s so easy to do that it barely counts. I got a few photos of the playsuit¬†last night, but the pulling on the right side of the bodice due to the button issue is¬†really obvious (and it was like 9 at night and the lighting was awful), so I won’t post many pictures¬†yet. But here is a preview:

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Side view! Note the stripe matching FAIL.

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Back view. That’s the one place I managed to match my bodice stripes…

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Close-up of the strap attachment at the back; do you like my chalk? =)

This pattern is really easy to put together (which I think I mentioned before), which was nice. Unfortunately for me, I hit a lot more snags with the real version than I had with the muslin. For instance:

  • Underlining made everything more difficult; in retrospect, I wish that Past Mads had instead invested in additional pairs of skin-colored underpants and not bothered. Past Mads is an asshole.
  • Stripe matching was attempted, but apparently not successful. The shorts portion isn’t even close, especially in the crotch region, and the bodice only matches up at the back. I didn’t even manage to get the straps to have identical striping patterns. WTF, Mads?!?
  • The shorts and bodice were even further away from fitting together on this version than on the muslin, which made no sense to me. I ended up letting the bodice side seams out about 1/4″ out of desperation, which did help a bit.
  • Bodice fitting was a real bastard this time around. I adjusted to add some width at the very top, and ended up with too much room. So between that and the bodice vs shorts size differential stupidity mentioned previously, I ended up with more room in the bodice than I wanted; I think it fits well, but I wish the fit at the waist was more akin to the muslin version. In addition, I’m beginning to think that cutting two bodice fronts and putting them together–as opposed to the single continuous piece you’re supposed to cut–may be given me a bit of shaping on the muslin that I lost when I did it the right way. Maybe on my next (non-striped, for sure) version I can try that!

I wish I had taken a photo of the fabric I have left after finishing this. I miscut the front bodice (cut two separate pieces, AGAIN) and one of the back bodice pieces, which wasted fabric, but even without those mistakes, I’d still have basically nothing usable left over! I may be able to squeeze out a bra top–and that’s a BIG maybe.

Real talk: for all of the complaining I just did, I LOVE this playsuit. I love that it looks like the picture on the envelope, I love that it seems like something I would wear or buy, I love the comfort, and I love how I feel in it. I need to press the short seams and zipper (and still need to trim back the short seams) to help them lay better, too. Re: the straps, I decided to attach them that way at the back on a whim. My hand sewing is awful, and I just didn’t want to trust the integrity of these straps to that technique. I opted to sew around the bottom of the straps–from the outside–to securely attach them at the base. I¬†went as high as¬†the top of the bodice and as low as about 1/4″ from the bottom of the strap, and I went around the squares¬†twice to make things extra-secure. For machine stitching, I think I did a really good job of keeping my lines straight and getting the second line of stitching right on top of the first; the squares aren’t perfectly centered, but I’m still really happy with how they turned out. And let me tell you, those straps? They aren’t going¬†anywhere.

I’m hoping to be back after the weekend with more photos for you guys, but with better lighting and a finished-for-real playsuit. Is anyone else getting a jump on summery sewing projects?

A (Day After) Christmas Cardigan

After weeks of struggling to find time to work on this project, I finally got the Newcastle cardigan done last night! Tom loves it, and I think I did a pretty good job. Photo dump commencing in 3…2…1…

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Happy husband!

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Collar and back contrast yoke

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Contrast cuff

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Not too bad! (Well, except for being on the hanger crooked…)

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Close-up of the contrast fabric and detail at the shoulder yoke

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Bound buttonholes!

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Enormous buttons!

I’m really pleased with the fabrics I chose for this project. They were easy to work with and, although they did have some stretch, were stable enough that I didn’t need to do anything special to try to control them. For my first time working with knits, that was hugely important! (If you’d like to see them up close, you can find links to both fabrics in this post.)

For the most part, the pattern was pretty straightforward. I would absolutely make this again if Tom wanted another one. I looked online to see what reviews were out there and what issues anybody else may have had before I got started. I didn’t find anything, so when I ran into difficulties, I just gonzo’d my way through them. The first problem I encountered was with the facings, specifically the neck facing. For some reason, the piece I cut (the correct size) did not fit the neckline of the sweater–it wasn’t even close. No amount of stretching or fiddling was going to make it cover the gap left between the placket facings. Even now, I have no clue what I could have done wrong to make it not fit! I almost re-drafted that piece, but was feeling lazy and decided not to do that. I just sewed the placket facings and collar in place per the instructions; I think I will get a pack of seam binding and hand-sew it to the seam allowance of the collar and the top part of the facings, that way things don’t look so unfinished.

The other issue I had was with the cuffs. I must have read the instructions at least a dozen times, and still could not figure out what to do. I also couldn’t decide which way the cuff pieces should be folded. I’ve chalked that up to my lack of experience, but nevertheless, it was frustrating. At that point in the process, you’re damn-near finished, and all I wanted was to get this thing done and onto my husband’s torso before Christmas was over! I ended up cutting new cuff pieces with different dimensions (long and not very tall, which creates a much shorter cuff than the original pieces) and sewing them on in a completely different way. In fact, somewhere in the 10 minutes that passed between me finishing the first cuff and pinning the second one in place, I forgot what I had just done. After trying to remember for the better part of 20 minutes, I just went ahead and did something else. The finished result was the same, so I’m not too bummed about it. The cuffs I drafted made the sleeves a perfect length for Tom, which was a huge relief!

I didn’t sew in the sleeves as instructed either, opting instead to set them. For some reason, that was just easier for me to figure out. I’m very happy with the result, but if I make this again I will try to do the sleeves as instructed, just to see if I can do it!

Overall, I’m really happy with my work on this cardigan. Tom has already said he might like another sweater in a different color scheme, so I may be making another one of these sooner than I expected!

Vintage Simplicity 1281 – Finished!

I can’t believe this, but I really finished this project already! 6 days after deciding to make it, with only 4 or 5 of those days being utilized as “work” days, I have a lovely new piece of clothing. WHOA!

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Doing my happy flailing dance!

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Back view

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Strap and waistband detail–not too shabby!

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Side button; the other waistband tab is sticking up…oops!

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Enjoying the fullness of the skirt

Now for all the details! I obviously shortened the skirt quite a bit; I just didn’t see myself enjoying a below-the-knee skirt with this much volume and structure. I’m really happy with the length, although I wish I had been a little more careful when trimming off the excess and judging how much hem length to leave. I made a real hackjob of removing about 4″ initially, and then sewed on my Flexi Lace. I then pressed the hem to my desired length, which was at least 3″ of extra fabric. I tried to fold the hem under again, which of course was bulky and awful, so I cut most of that off (lace included) and just did about a 1″ single fold blind hem. I also opted to not follow the instructions for sewing the straps. Instead, I followed a tutorial (cannot remember what blog, sorry!) for purse straps. I cut 3 times the width of the pattern piece and pressed in half lengthwise; then I unfolded it and folded each side in to the center crease, and then folded in half one more time. I pressed the hell of out of them and then topstitched up each side. I¬†love the results! They’re sturdy and durable and attractive–the perfect straps, really. Honestly, I didn’t even read the strap instructions included with the pattern. I found that tutorial and knew that was how I wanted to approach the task.

Now for the things that proved to be a challenge or that I wish I had conceived differently. First up: the grainline. For some reason, it never occurred to me that the grainlines wouldn’t be on the bias all the way around just by following the cutting instructions. If I make this again, I’ll try to match them. I don’t think anyone else will even notice this, since it’s a cotton twill and the grain is only visible if you get right up to it.

The waistband is also bothering me a tiny bit, because I can’t decide if I want to topstitch all the way around it. Right now it’s just at the border of the skirt and the bottom of the band. If anyone has an opinion on that one way or the other, please share!

Attaching the straps was a little weird. I’m guessing that it would have been more straightforward if I had pinned them to the waistband before topstitching it (and especially if I had topstitched around the top and bottom of the waistband), but I totally didn’t. Instead, I attached them by hand. My hand stitching isn’t great (except for buttons and hemming) so I’m not sure how that will hold up; it sure isn’t pretty, that’s for sure!

I can’t wait to wear this skirt, you guys. It will be a good transitional piece, pairing well with tights and sweaters in the fall and spring, plus the color will be easy to coordinate. My next project will either be more blouses or a pair of 1960’s skinny pants. For now, though, I’ll take a few days off–this project was a marathon!

Fall for Cotton 2013 – Finished!

I finished my vintage Simplicity 1089 this morning (while watching “How to Marry A Millionaire”) and am really happy with it. My husband helped me take a few photos tonight, and here are a couple of them:

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Yay, blouse!

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From the back; please pardon the wrinkles!

Now that I’ve finished this shirt, I can see a few things I would have done differently. For one thing, I could probably use two darts at the neckline in the back. I could also take in the sides a little bit, but I don’t think the blouse looks too big for me. Plus it was pretty easy to get in and out of with this amount of ease, which is a good thing!

The entire blouse is underlined in white cotton batiste; the cotton voile is really sheer, so that was completely necessary. I did my very best to match the stripes at the sides, and did an okay job. The right side looks best, and the left side (with the zipper) is off by about 1/4″. I inserted the zipper by hand, and doubt I would ever put in a zipper any other way–it’s so easy and doesn’t involve making any changes with my sewing machine. The hem is nice and even, although there is a difference in the amount of white between the stripe and hem from front to back; that’s due to a difference in length of the pieces (I cut them sloppily, I guess) and the slightly uneven stripe matching on the zipper side, I think. It’s also very, very wrinkled, and that’s my fault. It’s tough to press things well without a form (for me, anyway), so I spritzed the blouse with Downy Wrinkle Release and threw it in the dryer. That would have been fine, except that I was watching my movie, and totally forgot about the dryer. By the time I remembered, the cycle had been over long enough for the blouse to not be warm anymore and all the wrinkles were back. Ugh. I’ll do better next time!

I’m putting off wearing this until Tuesday because a friend at work is off tomorrow, and I really want her to see it. It’s hard to leave it on the hanger for an extra day, but Tuesday is just around the corner!