Summer Tops and Miscellany! (But Mostly A Blair Shirt)

Hello, friends!

First off, I know I kept saying I was going to do a planning post for summer sewing. Clearly I haven’t had the time for that, LOL! So while that may not materialize, I have been sewing a bit. I made a Named Minttu top but haven’t bothered to have Tom photograph it until now. Apart from being annoyed as hell about the length of the facing (it cuts off right at mid-boob, where the top is still quite fitted: WTF?!?!? Not cool.), I think it’s really cute!

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Derp Face

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Side (Can you see the facing stopping suddenly? >=[ )

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Back

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Trying to put some “swing” in my swing top…

I added my usual 1″ of length at the bust, but otherwise there are no changes to this pattern as you see it. (And yes, I added the same 1″ to the facings. #bitter) It’s snug through the shoulders and upper back, but the stretch in my fabric makes up for that.

The fabric I used is a ponte knit, as recommended by the pattern. This particular fabric almost got destashed (it is decidedly NOT my best color/look, but then neither are white skinny jeans), but I actually really like it as a top. Which is good, because I have enough fabric left for another top! 😉 I’m planning on a Named Lexi or Sointu but haven’t decided for sure yet–feel free to weigh in with a comment!

And now for the star of this post: the Blair shirt by Style Arc!

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Blair!

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Side-ish

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Flaps!

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Back view (incl. VPL, ugh)

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One more front shot for good measure

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Shirt in the sunshine

Obviously I really love this shirt, hence the barrage of photos. 😉

I bought this very nice cotton shirting at Fabric Mart (my fabric shopping frenemy) and knew I would make a shirt with it eventually. I know…I’m a fucking visionary.

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Cotton Shirting? For a shirt? Groundbreaking.

After seeing so many inspiring versions of the Blair shirt and dress, I realized this fabric was perfect for it and finally made my pattern choice. 😀 I really couldn’t be much happier with it–it turned out so much like I had hoped!

Construction Notes

This is only my second Style Arc rodeo, but I know enough to read their instructions, chuckle, and figure it out for myself. 😉 I did things my way pretty much from start to finish. Here’s a brief summary:

  1. I assembled the bottom half of the shirt and the underlayer at the side seams before hemming them separately up to a few inches before the center front (to make attaching the button bands easier). That curved hem was a tedious operation, so I wanted it out of the way! Then I basted those pieces together.
  2. Next came the shoulders and upper half side seams, followed by attaching the bottom layers to the top.
  3. I did the button bands and remainder of the hem next, then the collar assembly and buttonholes.
  4. The sleeve cuffs were the last machine step, then I sewed on my buttons. Ta da!!!

I spent a lot of time prepping the stripes so that everything mostly matched. The shoulders don’t line up exactly, but I was more concerned about the fronts so was willing to compromise there.

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I think we can all agree that was time well spent…

Pattern Adjustments

I took a big chance here and didn’t change any proportions on my Blair. O_O I know. But it’s a cropped shirt, and the length looked like it would be fine with high rise jeans so I just went for it. I only made one–ONE–change to the pattern itself, and that was the undercollar.

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Undercollar awesomeness

Surprisingly, Style Arc has you use the same pattern piece for both the upper and under, but I wanted a bias undercollar. #shirtmakingcred That’s it, though. Everything else is exactly per the Size 4 original pattern, even button placement.

Apart from some sewing, here’s what else I’ve been up to lately:

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Readers, meet Nessie! She’s a Fall Fiesta Sugar Maple. ^___^

We planted a new tree out back! We lost our large Norway Maple (it was necessary, trust me–I don’t cut down trees lightly) and replaced it with a stronger, non-invasive species. Bonus: someday, Nessie will provide maple sap for syrup!

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SOCKSSSSS!!!!!!

And I’ve been knitting socks like a fiend! I have 2 more pairs on my needles as I type this. 😉

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And some hot air ballooning for good measure. Here at the “Mads” house, it’s not really summer if we haven’t played with some hot air balloons. 😀

How is your summer (or winter for my Southern Hemisphere friends!) going? Have you gone on any adventures (in the air, on the ground, under the sea)? Are you starting to think about sewing for the next season yet?

It’s Spring, So Here Are Four Winter Things

Well, this post took me long enough, didn’t it? 😀

I don’t talk much about my non-sewing activities on this blog, as I’m fairly sure they’re boring. But back in January, I decided to audition for a 90’s alt-rock cover band and guess what? I GOT IN!!! I’m really excited–that genre has been a long-term love of mine from back when I’d sneak downstairs on Saturdays to watch MTV as a kid–but it’s been a lot of work. I have to learn not just the existing set list, but a whole host of other songs we want to add as well; then there’s the weekly practice, which takes most of an evening after work. I’ve had a really hard time adjusting to my new obligations when it comes to time management, so a top that I started for Jungle January took me until March to pick up again (and it was a FAIL–salt in the wound). Yikes! To be fair, I was also working feverishly on some hand-knitted birthday gifts for my bestie (2 pairs of socks and 1 cowl), so any spare craft time went to those items first. (And yes, they were delivered on time!) Here’s hoping I get used to my new extracurricular activity and make more time for sewing, eh?

So anyway, I had hoped to be sharing a leopard-print blouse–that I started in JANUARY–with you today. Unfortunately, I am still without a leopard print garment. 😦 Since M7436 is a big ol’ shirt, I didn’t bother doing any flat pattern measurements. Yeahhhhhh, my lats and shoulders were too big for the shirt. (Thanks, one year of varsity track and field!) I’m bummed, since I had been looking forward to this top being done after 2 months of not having time for it but badly wanting to wear it. Lesson learned: MEASURE SHIT.

To console myself, I jumped headlong into something else. I had bought some sweater knits–my first ever–on Fabric.com about 3 months ago and have been eager to use them. Here they are! (NAYY.) I have also been wearing the same busted-ass pair of Forever21 sweatpants for 5 winters (and falls…and springs…) now and was due for at least one new pair, so I bought some french terry knits from Urban Rag Trader (NAYY) for those. So while I meant to be showing you all 1 new thing, I have 4 different-than-planned things to share instead!

First up: M7471, View B!

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A good depiction of the drape of the front.

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Closer look at the front collar

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Back wing-a-lings in action

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We made the same face!

I have to admit that I wasn’t sure how this top would work for me–the envelope photo looks a little too oversized, but I loved the idea of it based on the line art. I picked View B because it had all the elements I wanted: straight hem, long sleeves, and no ruching. I am really, really happy with the finished top: it’s a winner! I don’t think it’s too much fabric at all, and the shape of the top is interesting and stylish (but very, very easy to sew). It also used a lot less fabric than I expected: I had 2 yards of my knit, and I still have enough left to use for something else! The key, I think, is to pick a fabric that drapes well; otherwise this top will look like you are wearing a pile of fabric in heavy folds. Just my $0.02, anyway.

Pattern Adjustments

The only adjustments I made to this pattern were vertical: it would have been a belly top on me otherwise! O_o (If you go to the pattern page on the BMV website, look at the model in the red top–that’s the one I made, and that’s about how short it would have been on me…no thanks.) I added 2.5″ at the waistline (which is marked on the pattern) and gave myself an extra 1.5″ at the hem; I only took a 5/8″ hem. I left the sleeves alone after taking some measurements and deciding they were fine as-is.

Construction Notes

Like I said, this top is dead simple to make. Just beware of the instructions: they have you baste the shoulders and necklines together, and then tell you to fold down the front collar at the fold line (after you’ve basted PAST it), baste that down somehow, and then sew the shoulder/neckline seam for real. DO NOT BOTHER WITH THAT. I blindly followed the directions to that point and then realized I’d be sewing the same thing twice, for no good reason. I unpicked my basting from the foldlines on up, folded the collars down FIRST, and then basted everything. So much simpler.

The instructions also have you sew the side seams before setting the lower sleeves…yeah, nuts to that. I put the lower sleeves in flat and whipped up the side seams and sleeves in one pass with the serger.

Next up is M7538, View A:

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Front view! You can see the top overlaps due to my fabric being lightweight…

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Back view, which is basically identical to the front (right wraps over left, etc.)

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Boob crossover in action! Nursing or soon-to-be-nursing folks, this top could probably easily be hacked for access! (I am neither: just an idiot who plays with her clothes.)

Now if M7471 has flown somewhat under the radar, THIS pattern is one that got everyone’s attention when it was released. It BEGS to be color-blocked. So of course, I did the most boring thing possible with this awesome pattern and just used 1 color for the entire thing. Style FAIL. 😉

The only things I would change if I make this one again (and I think I will) are to add a little less length, take a wedge out at each upper back piece near the shoulder blade, change the shoulder seam slope just slightly (those two factors cause the shoulders to fall down during wear), and use a heftier fabric. I think my hatchi knit is a bit too lightweight for this pattern, so the crossovers at the bust show through and look a bit bumpy. But otherwise, I am happy with this one.

Pattern Alterations

This is one of those tricky patterns for long-torso’d people. It clearly says, “No provisions made for above-the-waist adjustments.” So if you need that length, you have to figure out how to add it. My solution? Slice all the pieces except for the top ones along their horizontal centers and add 1″. I also added some amount at the hem, 1.5″ maybe? (Can’t remember, sorry!) It was definitely enough length, and I ended up taking a lot off the hem before hemming the top (it was covering my entire ass). There are a couple of spots on the body that are too long as well, so I’ll make further adjustments if there’s a “next time.”

I also went for half-length sleeves, hitting at my elbows. I thought long sleeves would be too much of this color on me, and with the low necklines front AND back, it wasn’t ever going to be a “keeping warm” shirt anyway. I also prefer shorter sleeved tops under cardigans and other toppers, so it was an easy choice. Since that length isn’t in the pattern, I just measured my arm to where I wanted the sleeve to hit and added 5/8″ hem allowance to that.

Construction Notes

Make sure you transfer your markings carefully–you’ll want them. The top looks like a bunch of twisted, overlapped fabric strips, but really it’s just clever pieced construction. Orienting your pieces is really the only challenge in this pattern, and even that isn’t difficult if you were careful from the beginning. I did opt to baste all of my pieces in place before serging.

I have mentioned this next bug-bear before (when I made my Jungle January dress last year), but I encountered a very bloated sleeve cap on this pattern: it was just way, way excessive for a pattern designed for knits. On top of that, they expect you to set the sleeve rather than sew it in flat. I’ve found McCall instructions for knit patterns to be old-fashioned; they will get you there in the end, but there is almost always a better way than they recommend. Food for thought…

And last but not least, 2 versions of the True Bias Hudson Pants:

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Pair #1! (Photo was lightened somewhat to show the detail–black fabric is hard to photograph!)

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Back view

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Using those pockets!

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Side view

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Puppy time!

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Blue pair!

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Wayyyyyyy stretchier than the first pair!

Having made the men’s version of this pattern before, there isn’t much new to say about the original women’s version. The pattern goes together very easily, though I did deepen the pockets by about 1.5″ and omit the drawstring at the waist. I made the smallest size and cut the elastic to 7″ shorter than my high hip measurement (I made no adjustments to the waistband pattern piece for my size). My only issue is that the black french terry fabric isn’t as stretchy as I need it to be, so the ankle bands make that pair hard to take off!

I didn’t add any length to either pair–both my fabrics stretch on the grain slightly (or in the case of the blue one, about as much as on the cross-grain) and I didn’t really care if they ended up full-length or not because I don’t wear sweatpants except at home. I think I got away with it because of the stretch of my fabrics, because the Hudsons are designed to be dropped in the crotch, and because I have a small butt and short-for-my-height scrawny legs. I also wear these at my high hip, and not at my waist. YMMV, so check the rise and leg length if you aren’t sure!

So there you have it, 4 things! Hopefully I won’t be gone as long before my next post–I have some plans but that’s never a guarantee. 😉 Just in case it takes me a while, here are some cute Mulder photos to hold y’all over!

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THAT FACE.

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Happy model pup!

 

It’s A Jungle (January) Out There

There once was a girl who lived in the city
Who thought that nature and the “great” outdoors were icky

But though a nature master she was not,
she could not resist joining in Jungle January with you lot.

Try as she may and try as she might
She could not shake the feeling that something was not quite right

“Is this wild zebra print really ‘me’?” 
No turning back now: the cutting and sewing had begun in earnest glee.

She pinned, she sweated, she pondered, and she fretted
If this dress turned out, to the gods she would be indebted!

And at last, the moment of truth had come
Scarcely any yardage remained–nary a crumb!

She bravely donned her togs, fit to be worn,
And her inner Jungle Vixen thus was born!

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Some super-effective jungle camouflage.

I hope you people enjoyed that, because a poet I am not! 🙂 I didn’t think I’d be able to come up with anything nearly as clever as what Anne normally writes (and which I am convinced is how she talks and tells stories all the time, in real life, because she’s just that awesome) so I settled for a silly poem instead. (And brace yourselves for a whole set of fashion-bloggeresque “Inappropriate Sunglasses at Sunset” photos, because I could not be bothered with a full face of slap.)

So as you have figured out by now, I am participating in Jungle January this year–my first EVER! I had not really planned on that but for some reason my inspiration whacked me over the head like a Shakespeare anthology one Friday night, and here we are. Anne Jungle January Goddess, get your fainting couch ready, because I must now admit that my stash contains a paltry 2 animal print fabrics. Clearly, I am a #junglenovice. Teach me your ways!!!!!!!

I bought this crazy-ass fabric over a year ago when Fabric Mart the-fabric-retailer-that-shall-not-be-named had one of their many sales. I even described it using the same foul language back then. I had no immediate plans for it, but figured it was one of those random things I’d regret NOT owning if I didn’t buy a bit of it. Let the record show that RETINA-SEARING ELECTRIC BLUE and motherfucking ZEBRA are, even on an individual basis, not really my usual taste; together, they create what is without a doubt the biggest taste anomaly in my fabric stash, all wrapped up into 3 clingy yards of “What the fuck am I going to do with that?” and shoved into an unmarked box until that particular riddle solves itself. 14 months of “seasoning” later,  the riddle finally got off its ass and presented me with the answer: McCall 6886, aka the ubiquitous knit sheath that everybody has already made and seems to love.

I had figured on doing a fitted sheath-type dress in this material when it arrived those many moons ago. My initial idea, I thought, was Brilliant (yes, *with* that capital “B”): focus the blue bits around the waist of the dress, and let the top and bottom sections fade gracefully into zebradom (or at least as gracefully as is possible with an animal print mash-up). Well, Present Mads had to make a slight revision to Past Mads’ plan. Turns out the greatest % of stretch in this ITY jersey runs perpendicular to the blue border, not parallel to it. And if there was one additional Taste Violation that this dress did not need, it was the “Painted-On Sausage Casing” effect.

In order to save the “Illusion Dress” idea, I cut the front and back pieces as pairs rather than on the fold as directed. That allowed me to get the side seam parts on the blue (an endeavor which met with more success on the back pieces than the front), which I felt would create the illusion of a narrower silhouette. (Yeah yeah, I know that’s a damn stupid thing to see someone like me write, but let’s face it: nobody wants to look wider than they are, not even me.) The hardest part of this project was the cutting out! I must have shifted the pieces around a dozen times, but I am happy with how the pattern got distributed in the end. In other words, we came out of this with ZERO unfortunate boob or genital flowers. SUCCESS.

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Front view

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Side

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Back; I can see that a swayback adjustment would be of use next time.

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“Mom, what the f*** are you wearing?!?”

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Just standing among some wood scraps, as one does

Fitting Adjustments and Pattern Changes

I made View C, with the scoop neck and one of the many assorted lengths provided. After consulting the back of the pattern envelope, I made the decision to grade the hips to 2 sizes above my size, and stick with the smallest size everywhere else. I also used a 3/8″ seam allowance from the hem through the hips. In addition to that, I gave myself a seam allowance of 1/2″ at the center front and back seams, but sewed those up at 3/8″ just in case. (Reminder: this pattern is supposed to have front and back pieces cut on the fold–I changed that to accommodate my pattern placement.) My fabric is not the intended weight for this pattern (it says “medium weight knits” and this is a very light ITY jersey) so I wanted some insurance to literally cover my ass. This turned out to be a mistake. I removed what I had added after the fact, and then removed a little more. All removal was done from the side seams; everything I needed to remove was from the underbust through the hips.

At first, I had lengthened the pattern pieces by 2.5″ at the bodice lengthen/shorten line but hadn’t changed the actual waist circumference: I wanted to make sure everything else fit first. (I did a quick tissue fitting before adding that length; the bodice was definitely too short for me as drafted.) I must have removed 2″ from each side seam at my waist by the time I was satisfied (after trying the dress back on 3 or 4 times, each time being SURE that this was going to be the last, because how much more fabric could I possibly need to remove?!?) and, while it isn’t super-fitted at the waist, it shows off my one-and-only curve and remains office appropriate. Um, as office appropriate as this bananas dress can be, that is.

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Office styling for Crazy-Ass Zebra Flower dress (snotty sunglasses optional)

This was a SUPER SIMPLE dress. Very awesome. My only major gripe, and I should have expected this, is about the sleeve cap ease. This is a fitted knit dress. The sleeves do NOT need much cap ease, if any, vs. the armhole. I had decided from the beginning to install the sleeves flat (not what the instructions said to do, but whatevs, this Disobeyer of Instructions cares not), and was not a happy bear when I realized how big the caps were vs. the armhole. In the end, since I had no fabric left (that poem was TRUTH y’all) to recut new sleeves, I did what Andrea at Sew to Fit recommends and just let the extra cap ease get taken up as seam allowance. (That knowledge-bomb is in her verbal explanation at the beginning of the linked video, before the sewing starts. Her video explains it beautifully, by the way, if you ever run into this after you’ve cut and feel stuck.) So the end result was 2 pucker-free sleeves and a mollified Mads. DOUBLE GOOD SUCCESS.

Sorry for these photos, by the way. It was dinner time on a Sunday and quite cold, so going anywhere that was more than 100 feet from my wood burning stove was out of the question. So yard photos were the order of the day, and I only managed 5 minutes of shooting time!

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Zebracicle.

Wrap It Up Already!

So there you have it, people of the internet: my first foray into the jungle! It was a lot of fun, and hopefully I’ll be brave enough to play along next year as well.

But WAIT! There’s More:

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Bam! Future bra.

Coming soon* to a “Mads” House near you: The Ze-Bra! Get it?!? (But seriously–The Ze-Bra is happening. This will be a beta test of the Watson pattern, which I am hoping will become my TNT bra. Exciting!!)

*”Mads” speak for approx. 3 forevers from now

I hope you’ll go check out Pretty Grievances for all the jungle action–people always have so much fun with Jungle January!

 

 

Inari The Third (aka The Quilted Gothic Cocoon of Doom)

Do not be fooled by my secondary title: there was nothing scary or disastrous about this project! I just thought it was funny. 🙂

A little background is in order regarding how this dress came to be, because this dress was never something I had in mind until a minute ago. (Okay, “a minute ago” is totally relative…in actual passage of time terms, it’s more like 2 days.)

I am one of those sewing people who has more fabric than I need. Lots more. Lots, lots more. In fact, I could probably run quite an Etsy sale to get rid of things if I wanted to–my fabric stash takes up 2 Rubbermaid bins, part of a cedar chest, and 2 small cardboard boxes, and has now spilled over onto the top of the guest dresser in a massive pile. Truthfully, I feel a mix of comfort and anxiety because of my stash: comfort, because I know that whatever I could conceivably want to make, I probably have fabric for it; anxiety, because I have so much that it has now become difficult to store/hide/bury in my admittedly large-for-two-people house. Combine that last part with my very slow pace when it comes to making/finishing things and my occasional continuing purchases of yet MORE fabric, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. Things sort of came to a head for me this past weekend, when I drove up to a suburb to check out a Craigslist seller’s personal fabric stash from her days as a custom designer. I only bought about 6 yards of fabric, but when I got home I just felt impotent as to where to put it until I got around to making the things I had in mind for it (which all require muslins).

I sat down and started making a spreadsheet of things I wanted to make. (I included tabs for my fabric and pattern stash as well, but those will be much more difficult to fill out and therefore haven’t been started yet.) Luckily, I was positively brimming with ideas at that moment, and I have a great list started for Fall/Winter 2015 projects. Suddenly, I got an idea for a length of fabric I had bought with a particular pattern in mind and I just had to make it happen NOW. The fabric is a black quilted knit from Michael Levine, and I had bought it intending to make a Mai Zipped Jacket out of it. I even ordered ambiance lining and wide elastic for the bottom and the three required zippers; I just never got motivated to tackle the pattern. But as I sat working on my immediate sewing plans, I remembered that fabric, and it screamed “INARI DRESS!!!!!!!” to me instead. And here in “The ‘Mads’ House,” we listen when inanimate objects tell us to do things. >=D

Picture-heavy area approaching: CAUTION!!! (Seriously, this has to be the picture-heaviest post EVER on this blog.)

It's a dress! (And a Mulder...)

It’s a dress! (And a Mulder…)

Gotta have a side view

Gotta have a side view

And the back

And the back

A close-up of the texture of the fabric--neat, huh?? =)

A close-up of the texture of the fabric–neat, huh?? =)

A dress and a tree

A dress and a tree

How I do

How I do “poise”

This is my poking stick

This is my poking stick

Stretch!!!

Stretch!!!

Model pose

Model pose

He is too cute not to share!

He is too cute not to share!

I’m pretty thrilled with this dress, especially considering that it technically shouldn’t exist! 😉 (And yes, my makeup is definitely a tribute to the “Gothic” title that I definitely thought up before I even had the pictures taken…) And we got so many good photos that I had to share most of them. Sorry not sorry.

While the hand of the fabric feels relatively standard for a double knit, those quilted puffs are no joke–trying to start a seam on top of one was tough! I may have done well to use a standard universal needle rather than the jersey/ballpoint variety I always use for knits, but I got there in the end. Since I am still serger-less, I did all my construction with a lightning bolt stitch, including the hems. The neckline is just turned under (at the 3/8″ seam line provided) and stitched down; I had thought about making a binding out of self-fabric but the thickness wouldn’t have resulted in a very nice finish, IMO. In addition, I did not use clear elastic to stabilize the shoulder seams, which is what the instructions say to do if using a stretch fabric–I opted for a length of the selvedge of my material instead. It works as intended, but this was obviously a decision I made before realizing the full extent of the puffiness of those quilted bubbles. But I *did* stabilize those seams, just so we’re clear! My only actual complaint about this dress is that this fabric is a magnet for fuzzies and pet hair and everything else on Earth that could be unpleasant against black clothing. Oh well, sacrifices must be made for fashion!

Due to the heft of this fabric, it will make a great transitional piece between seasons (which we definitely get here in OH). I’m already planning to wear it with boots and knee socks or tights on cool Fall days and with cute flats when it finally drops below 80 and stays there. (Yeah, sorry–the heels look great with the dress, but I stick to flats most of the time.) Have you gotten a jump on your sewing projects for next season?

Here come some outtakes, per usual. But before we get to that, here is me with my “Unsung Sewing Blog Hero,” my dear husband and photographer, Tom! He actually really enjoys taking my photos for me so it’s not like he makes a sacrifice of his time unwillingly, but I do appreciate that he does this for me. And let’s be real: he makes me look wayyyyy better than I would without his help! 😉

Our best cheesy grins, just for you!

Our best cheesy grins, just for you!

And now, on to the funnier shit (and supplies!):

Trying to make

Trying to make “Arboreal Vogue” happen…

Tom made me laugh during a

Tom made me laugh during a “serious” pose.

Coming in for a

Coming in for a “graceful” landing

Gotta keep these chompers in check!

Gotta keep these chompers in check!

Periscope stick

Periscope stick

Vitruvian Mads, Round 2!

Vitruvian Mads, Round 2!

He *had* to go for the lipstick...

He *had* to go for the lipstick…

If you’re still with me after all that, thanks for reading!!

Inari 3 Supplies:

Inari Tee Dress pattern from Named Clothing
2 yards quilted doubleknit fabric, Michael Levine (used about 1.5 yds)
Black all-purpose polyester thread
80/12 Jersey needle
Handsewing needle

Spankin’ New Springtime Set (aka Jumping On The Scuba Bandwagon)

Hello, one and all!

I am pleased to inform the general internet population that I, Mads, have completed my first-ever item(s) in a scuba/neoprene knit! That alone probably makes this my trendiest sewing project ever. Shall we?

2-piece scuba set!

2-piece scuba set! Part Inari Crop Tee, part Shadi Knit Skirt

Bam, skin-tight skirt!

Bam, skin-tight skirt!

A shockingly good photo

A shockingly good photo

Peekaboo!!

Peekaboo!!

Isn’t it pretty????? This 2-piece set is brought to you by the Inari Crop Tee and Shadi Knit Skirt, both by Named Clothing. Apart from the same shoulder adjustment I made for my Inari dress, I also lengthened this top to account for my long torso. Well, actually, I cheated by using the pattern nesting to my advantage: the shoulders of the larger size (you get 2 sizes per PDF file with Named; I used the US 0/2 pair) are nested up higher, which means that the line for the hem of the smaller size ends up being lower on the page than that of the larger size. I just started at the top of the shoulders for the size 2 and followed the size 0 lines the rest of the way down. Doing that gave me just enough extra length to cover my midriff, provided I wear a bottom piece that comes up to my natural waist. Huzzah for work-appropriate crop tops!! One caveat: I did not take the 2″ hem allowance the pattern calls for–I did 1″ instead. I also cheated by abandoning the band finish recommended for necklines in stretchy fabrics and just turned and stitched it. (Incidentally, this is why my neckline looks a LOT different than the white knit sample on the Named site.)

Can we talk about the fabric for a minute? It’s SOOOOOOO beautiful. I really don’t think the photos can do it justice. If I could wallpaper a room in my house with this print, I would do it! And to me, the color palette is as quintessentially “SPRING” as it gets: bright magenta pink, deep mint green, a splash of cobalt blue, some white, and plenty of gray. And I was thrilled to realize that I had the perfect shade of obnoxious magenta lipstick to wear for my photos, as one does. 🙂

As mentioned previously, this was my first-ever attempt at using a scuba/neoprene knit. This stuff seems to be everywhere right now–RTW, runway, and the sewing world at-large–and I’ve been wanting to try it. Now that I’ve been there, done that, I can say that I understand the appeal. This length of beautiousness is probably on the lighter side of the scuba spectrum, but it’s definitely still heftier than any jersey I’ve ever met. I had tried to mentally prepare myself for the, er, “unique” tactile experience that I’d read reports of online, but I was still surprised by the feel of this material. It almost feels…melty? Sticky? Gooey? Like, if fabric could simultaneously feel like fabric with top-notes of melted taffy, it would be this stuff. Even Tom was mesmerized by its strange properties, and I had to cut off a small scrap to give to him so that he would stop fondling and petting the pieces I needed to work with for my outfit, lest he create a pull or snag on one of the important bits! (Thanks to the lovely Ms. Red at Sew RED-y, I knew snagging was a risk with this material–thanks, girl!) The fabric was SO easy to cut and sew (even without a serger), but pressing was dodgy due to the synthetic nature of the material; I turned my iron to the “Barely On” temperature setting and gave seams a quick press that way, but mostly I stuck to using the iron unplugged for applying pressure only. I need to do the armhole seams with a little warmth though–they’re still not laying quite right! And despite the strange hand-feel of the fabric, it was not unpleasant to wear (though I reserve the right to alter that opinion if I wear any of this outfit in truly hot weather). Even Mulder likes this fabric:

My face says,

My face says, “I love you, but don’t you dare snag my new outfit!”

Truth time: I don’t totally love this outfit, and I have not worn it yet apart from these photos. BUT, I suppose I do know what bothers me about it: I just am not 100% confident in it because of how body-con the skirt is. 😦 And I think the root of that disappointment lies in my previous experience with the Shadi–yes, I’ve made the pattern before and understand the shape of it, but since I badly mis-cut that first iteration, I assumed (LOL) that a correctly-cut version would not be as revealing or blush-inducing. I was clearly wrong. So now I have this skirt that I love in theory (THAT PRINT THO) but not so much in practice. I knew I was in trouble when I got the waistband done, tried it on, and then never hemmed it. In “The ‘Mads’ House,” that’s a bad sign. Maybe I will feel better once I finish it, or find a magical undergarment of some sort. And, you know, figure out how in the hell to wear the skirt so that I don’t look and feel like I’m a big Mads sausage crammed into a very pretty casing. :-/ Tom tried to make me feel better by pointing out that my skinny jeans actually reveal more, uh, “details” about my lower half than this skirt does, but for some reason I feel so weird and vulgar in the skirt. (Not that tight clothes are inherently vulgar–I absolutely do not think that is true. I just *personally* struggle to feel comfortable in something this tight, for some reason.) Do any of you have suggestions or words of wisdom??

So what’s the word out there: have any of you sewn with a scuba/neoprene knit before? On a related note, I have some of this fabric left–what should I make with it?? It’s probably enough for a top or a skirt, but I can’t decide!

I will leave you now with two “action shots” of my new outfit, plus my supply list at the bottom. Thanks for tuning in!

Oh, you know, just jumping off of stuff, NBD...

Oh, you know, just jumping off of stuff, NBD…

Spinning in circles

Spinning in circles

Scuba 2-Piece supplies:

  • 2 yards of scuba knit from Gorgeous Fabrics
  • Inari Tee Dress and Shadi Knit Skirt patterns from Named Clothing
  • Guttermann all-purpose polyester thread in grey
  • 80/12 jersey needle
  • 1″ elastic for skirt waist

Newcastle Cardigan – First Steps

Before I get into this post, I would like to point out that, technically speaking, moving at a snail’s pace is still moving. =)

Many weeks ago, I decided to make my husband a sweater for xmas. I knew going in what a stupid idea that was: I have never sewn with knits before, let alone STRETCH knits, and honestly have almost no spare time right now (a trend which will be continuing for the foreseeable future, since I can’t bear to stop working at the vintage shop on the side). On top of all of this, I also decided to keep this a complete secret from the hubs. That really wouldn’t have been difficult, since when I’m in my sewing area, he’s usually on his computer and doesn’t often venture into my lair to see what I’m up to (although he does ask, bless him).

Do you ever find the PERFECT fabric for something you’re making for someone else, and absolutely trust your instincts until you get it washed and cut? I love/loved the materials I picked for this sweater (both from Fabric.com, main fabric here and contrast fabric here), and although the buttons were so big that they kind of scared me (also from Fabric.com here; seriously, 1 1/2″ sounds like nothing much, but these are ENORMOUS in real life), I liked them as well. But once everything arrived and was ready for action, I lost my confidence. I became terrified that my poor husband–for whom I bought NOTHING ELSE for xmas, btw–was going to hate this sweater. So I asked him a question: if he were to receive a surprise gift, would he rather have known ahead of time what it was, or be completely surprised? He told me to go ahead and tell him, because he was excited. So I told him. Turns out he loves what I picked out, which is awesome, except that I really wanted to shock him this year! (Which reminds me: I must find time to build a time machine, so that I can go back in time and NOT tell him.)

Here are some photos of what I have accomplished so far which, admittedly, isn’t much at all. Seriously: it’s been a month, and I’m still on Page 1 of actual instructions. =/

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Sweater back and contrasting back yoke

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I’m a madwoman for opting for bound buttonholes on stretch knit, I know.

(Sorry, folks: I thought I had gotten a photo of the sweater fronts and shoulder yokes, but I guess not!)

As I mentioned in my original post, I do not own a serger, so I am sewing this entire project with a regular machine using a zig-zag stitch. (If I run into trouble, I might make food offerings to my cats, who may then feel inclined to intercede with their great ancestral deities on my behalf.) After testing a lot (A LOT) on scraps, I felt confident enough to sew on the actual pieces. So far, I haven’t had much trouble. Luckily my fabrics are both relatively stable for stretch knits, but I do not intend to move the speed bar above the first level at any point in this project. So far, I have sewn the shoulder yokes to the cardigan fronts and edgestitched them to secure the seam allowances (mostly because I like the extra detail it gives on the right side of the sweater). The back yoke is pinned to the sweater back piece, but I haven’t stitched it yet. I have been hand-basting all of my pieces together using rayon thread for added stability. I haven’t figured out if my machine can handle a twin needle (the busted Brother CS6000i can, naturally), so all of my topstitching has been done using the same zig-zag as everything else. At first I was disappointed to have to do it that way, but I actually don’t dislike how it looks. (Again, if I had gotten a photo of the front and shoulder yoke pieces, you could see it!) I made bound buttonholes because I am a special combination of out-of-my-mind and stupid, but they actually turned out okay. One is a little too small for the button, but since the hubs rarely buttons his sweaters, I’m hoping it’s not a big issue. Not bad for my first time ever making them, I think, and Tom really likes them a lot. I just LOVE the contrast fabric I’m using for this sweater, and may have to make myself a sweater out of it someday. It’s subtle enough that Tom can wear it for ANYTHING, but still gives a nice bit of extra detail and uniqueness to the cardigan.

I haven’t gotten any farther than this, but I’m still foolishly hoping to have it done in time for xmas. I may have to just stay up late a few nights and knock it out, but he is worth it!

Do any of you have holiday projects that you’re trying to finish (or start–hehe!)? Do you often make gifts for friends and family?