New Year, New Tops!

Hi there! I want to start by saying “Thanks!” to all of you who read and commented on my 2017 Top 5 posts: I enjoy sharing a year-end recap, but it’s so heartening that people read them and take the time to leave a comment. And while I’m at it, a massive “THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!” to anyone who read or commented on this blog over the course of the past year! My sewing friends–online, on social media, and in real life–add so much joy and inspiration to my life, and I hope I am able to do even a fraction of the same in return. ❤

And now, on with the show!

It seems that, for the second year running, I will be starting a new year of project posts with multiple knit tops! But unlike last year, all three tops in today’s post have something in common: stripes!! First up: the Molly top by Sew Over It!

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“Are you taking the photo now?”

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Back!

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Side, with poor stripe matching on full display.

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Tilt

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Sass

Sorry about these relatively boring (but still very high-quality, IMO) photos, guys–I vastly prefer outdoor shots, but the weather was far too cold and snowy for me to risk it this time. Tom was also messing with his lighting and flash options, which resulted in some unusually crisp shadows. (We don’t Photoshop around here unless we’re doing something really obvious–this ain’t a magazine shoot.)

This top is actually my final garment for 2017–I cut it (and the other 2 below) out on 12/30, and somehow sewed it up completely before noon on 12/31!! Not at all what I planned or expected, but that’s what happens when you’re up at 5:30AM*, even on days off: you get shit done! 😉

*And you also have a serger

As basic as it is, this pattern was one that I was excited about, for a few reasons. First, because I’d never used a SOI pattern before–I was eager to see what they were like, how they fit, and how I felt about the resulting garment. Second, because I bought this fabric and wanted a different pattern to showcase the stripes. (Is it just me, or are stripes of this scale oddly difficult to match to a pattern choice?) I love my Lark tees–and totally intend to make one with what’s left of this material–but I wanted something that looked a bit more unique in stripes. Finally, I figured if I liked the top version of Molly, I would be able to crack on with a dress version eventually!

So first impressions: the pattern printed a little oddly for me, but not in any way that negatively impacted the scaling or fit. I think it’s more to do with UK vs. US paper formats, because even scaled at 100%, I ended up with a weird section of overlap on the edges of each page. But it was simple enough to just cut that section off, once I realized that it wasn’t supposed to be there! My other first impression was that the pieces looked really wide compared to the not-at-all-oversized finished versions I’d seen people make. But I quickly realized that I didn’t know what the seam allowance was, and sure enough, a trip to Google revealed that it’s 5/8″. Mystery solved! And while we’re discussing first impressions, I should note that I got this pattern for free; I can’t remember where I got it, but it was from a link multiple months ago that I saw online someplace–again, I can’t remember as it’s been a while! Rest assured that 1.) this is not an affiliation thing and 2.) I came by the freebie legitimately, as far as I know. 

I had a heck of a time with this material! (It’s a rayon/lycra jersey, which I’ve used before with not nearly this much fuss!) No matter what I did, the yardage was distorting each time I tried to place and weight my pattern pieces. On top of that, fusing interfacing to my hems was awful! I actually had to stand there, pressing my iron down firmly and holding it there for 20-30 seconds or the fusible would not melt into the fabric. I have used the same knit interfacing many times before (from the same cut) and have never had this happen; as such, I am prepared to blame my fabric for this difficulty rather than my interfacing.

Since I struggled to get the fabric to lay still and stay on-grain easily, I didn’t do a great job matching stripes in the end. My sleeves look pretty good though, and I LOVE how the neckband came out! 😀 I’m not too bothered by the poor matching at the shoulders and side seams, though perhaps I’d have done better if I took a break from the project instead of forging ahead with the cutting. #YOLO

The only alteration I made to this pattern was to add a little bit of extra hem allowance. I think it’s meant to be longer, but I am glad I left it as-is: tunic-esque tops feel awkward on me. My only real complaint about the pattern itself, apart from those seam allowances (have you ever tried to serge rayon/lycra jersey with 5/8″ allowances?!?!?!? It’s soooo annoying!), is the length of the lower sleeves–they come up a bit short on me, and I’m not in possession of particularly long limbs. But going by the sample garment photos at SOI’s website, it actually looks like this is the length they intend for them to be, but having a free pattern-only (no instructions or line art) version, I can’t be sure. But that aside, I love my Molly top! I might make the dress version, although I’m not sure how much I’d love it in a solid fabric–it would be pretty plain. I would really like to buy the Heather dress pattern next, as I love the front panel with integrated pockets; I also think that pattern shines in solids, whereas Molly probably looks better in stripes since the dolman sleeves are the only real design lines. That’s my $0.02, anyway!

Next up is a pattern I have made once before, but not for a few years: the Tamara top from Style Arc!

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Always Be Primping

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Front view

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Back view

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Side!

This one is quite a bit more tasteful than my first version, LOL! I had enough of my striped bamboo jersey left to do something with it, but not quite an entire garment. (THE WORST!!) Luckily I remembered this pattern! I have a few yards of a (slightly darker) plain navy bamboo jersey, so I decided to use that for the angled pieces. Speaking of which, the passage of time really made me forget how annoying those shoulder insets were to sew, haha! They definitely aren’t identical but I’m hoping non-sewers won’t even notice.

Style Arc assumes you’ll use the same material for the front bodice piece and the neckband, but I wanted plain navy for the neckband instead. (There were plenty of stripes already!) And I forgot about the sleeve construction, so my genius intentions to put the sleeves in flat didn’t work out–they had to go in round. Luckily SA understands that you don’t need 2″ of ease in a close-fitting knit sleeve cap–more like 0″–so they went in with no trouble at all, just like last time.

Finally, I made a Hemlock tee!

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Seems legit (Also, damn my bangs are getting long!!)

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So much fabric!

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Side (stripes match decently this time!!)

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Yikes.

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“Chop chop buddy, I don’t have all night!!”

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Always Be Primping, Round 2

This is a freebie pattern from Grainline; I’ve had it for a while but hadn’t made it yet! I used the same fabric for this tee that I used for a different Grainline pattern, the Lark, late last year. I added maybe 1/2″ of length to the body pieces here, but that’s it. The pattern has 1/4″ seam allowances, so it’s perfect for zipping through a serger. It’s a really comfortable and relaxed tee; I actually think it would make a nice pajama top. 😉 Otherwise, there isn’t much to say!

Here are some outtakes for all y’all, as is customary:

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Angry stretchy shirt

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Abb’s Abs

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Dancing?

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Senior Portrait Pose

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Giggles

There you have it: 3 new tops, all in stripes! (Have I mentioned that I love stripes? Because I do.) I have 2 other projects to share with you also, and that post is coming very shortly. (And one of them is also striped…) I’ve been busy and have plenty of plans for more Winter sewing as well; I’m thinking of putting together a planning post to share my ideas with you all, but who knows if I will do that or not. (Perhaps my focus should be on just sewing stuff, rather than navel-gazing about sewing stuff. 😉 )

Have you gotten off to a running start with your sewing projects in 2018? How do you feel about stripes? Do you find that sharing your ideas or plans helps you solidify them? 

 

2015 Reflections and 2016 Goals

Welcome! Consider this my version of a “Top 5” post, if you will. (And thanks to Gillian for masterminding this recap series–it’s been such fun to read everybody’s posts these last few weeks!)

Had I been more productive in 2015, I would have done the whole Top 5 shebang. **Actually, after looking it up, I finished 14 things in 2015–that’s 2.3333333 times as many as I finished in 2014!!!!! I am awed.**

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So in light of this BRAND NEW INFORMATION, here are my Top 5 Sewn Projects of 2015:

  1. Marfy 3093, Version 1.0
  2. True Bias Men’s Hudson Pants
  3. Marfy 3093, Version 2.0
  4. BHL Anna Dress
  5. McCall 7103 (aka Sherk, aka Dunuh)
    Honorable Mention: Style Arc Tamara Top
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Marfy 3093

The first iteration of the Marfy pattern has been worn so many times that I have lost count–nearly once per week since being finished! I think it is my best work to date (sorry, Anna dress) and I am really proud of it. Isn’t it awesome to fill a hole in your wardrobe that you didn’t realize existed??

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Men’s Hudson Pants

I guess this is sort of cheating, since the pants weren’t for me, but seriously: Tom wears a pair of his Hudsons every. single. day. When both pairs went into the washer this past weekend, he ruefully put on a RTW pair of sweats and kept asking if laundry was done yet. He is eager for at least one more pair, so I know they’re a hit!

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Marfy 3093 #2

Marfy 2.0 is also wonderful, but I don’t reach for it quite as often simply because my work wasn’t as excellent as on 1.0. (And I also got pizza on it the last time I wore it–I KNOW–and have washed it, but still have to re-starch and iron the collar before I can wear it again. I am nothing if not lazy.) But it is much-loved and does get worn!

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Anna Dress

Ah, the Anna dress…I love that I got it done and that I was able to wear it. The flaws in it–and trust me, they are flaws–are unnoticeable to most people, and the fabric is BEYOND amazing, so I won’t be dissuaded from wearing it to future formal events.

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SHERK

SHERK! I love this thing more than a 30-year-old ought to love a giant stuffed animal, but I can’t help it. He will be the first of a handful of these, I’m sure; I’ve already agreed to make one for a co-worker’s granddaughter for her 2nd birthday. I am just glad that my friends and their son enjoy the shark so much–that’s such a great feeling!

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Tamara Top

The Tamara top gets a lot of wear when the weather is cool/cold (solid polyester + snug fit = cold seasons only). It was definitely a good addition to my wardrobe this year!

And now, my Top Fails or Misses:

  1. Named Shadi Skirt 1.0
  2. Named Inari/Shadi Scuba Set-acular
  3. BHL Anna Dress
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Shadi Knit Skirt

Obviously this Shadi skirt is my biggest fail of the year–it was literally unwearable in polite society. I did wear it to the first night of my sloper class (Nina said to wear something tight for measuring, and I knew EXACTLY what to put on!), but after that it was unceremoniously cut up, the elastic salvaged, and the scraps of skirt thrown away. Womp womp.

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Shadi Skirt + Inari Top

I dearly wanted to love this set. REALLY wanted to love it. But I never, ever wore it. 😦 The crop top is fine on its own, but I don’t have enough slim-fitting, high-waist bottoms to pair with it for office-appropriate outfit building. “But Mads,” you’re probably thinking, “isn’t that why you made the matching skirt?” Why yes, dear reader, it is. But I just couldn’t get comfortable with the idea of wearing such a tight skirt in public. I’m no prude–I despise “modesty” doctrines, etc.–but I just felt very self-conscious in it. (That’s right: even scrawny people can have body confidence issues!) The skirt is STILL unhemmed. It’s such a shame, because that incredible fabric deserved better. 😦 Maybe 2016 will be the year I get over it and wear at least one part of the set…

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Anna Dress, with accurate facial expression of my feelings

Come on, guys: Anna had to make this list. Even if I wear the dress, love the fabric, and got tons of compliments on it at the party I wore it to, I cannot pretend that the flaws aren’t there. I see them every time I look at the dress. It is what it is.

No Man’s Land

Neither of my 2 Inari Dresses made these lists because they fell into that weird middle ground of being worn sometimes but not constantly; they’re neither hits nor misses, I guess! Vintage Simplicity 1281 didn’t make the lists either, but it got worn pretty regularly. My only complaint about that one is the fabric, whose favorite thing to do is still wrinkle. My Anna skirt got a lot of wear in the summer months, but is definitely a seasonal item when you live in OH!

think that’s everything from 2015!

Goals:

Last year, I did something very similar to what I’m about to do: laid out vague goals–big picture items, if you will–to strive for in the coming year. I do have a project queue, but it gets edited all the time, fabrics get reassigned to other theoretical projects, and stuff definitely “cuts” the line regularly. I prefer to let my inspiration be my spirit guide on this peyote fabric-fueled journey through the creative realm rather than make prescriptions. That being said, here are a few general things I’d like to be able to say I did in 2016:

  1. LIMIT THE BUYING. I don’t mean RTW–I’ve been unofficially RTW fasting for almost 2 years. I mean fabric shopping. I have so much fabric that storing it has literally become a problem. A problem I cannot solve unless: A.) we win the lottery and buy an entire IKEA warehouse and/or a bigger house, or B.) I sew through some yardage. I know which of those is more realistic, so I’m going with that. I LOVE sewing, and now that I have more free time to devote to it, I am hoping to make some real headway here in 2016. This was among my goals for 2015, and I failed very badly.
  2. Fill wardrobe gaps. I still lack tops/blouses in a way that really limits me, and more pants wouldn’t hurt either.
  3. Make some activewear/outerwear things for myself. I need these things, but not in a “SEW THIS FIRST!!!!!!!” sort of way. But it would be fun and different for me, for sure.
  4. Dude sewing. Tom has a long list of things he needs and/or wants, and while he does not expect me to make him a wardrobe, it is something I want to do.
  5. Lingerie. I need bras that fit, and I am trying to go pad-free. (Which, in my approx. 30A size, is damn-near impossible to find in a store.) I have what I need to get started, and I’m hoping this is my year. Underpants would be nice too, but those I can just buy if it comes down to it.
  6. Keep up with the sewing spreadsheet I started late in 2015. I am recording fabric and patterns that I have, fabric I would like to buy for a specific project I have in mind (and where to find it), a project queue (this changes depending on my mood or inspiration, but it does help get my creative juices flowing), and a selfless sewing idea list. The fabric and queue are the most up-to-date tabs so far.

Reflections: 

Non-sewing stuff in 2015 was a definite mixed bag. We nearly lost Tycho, but his amazing vets saved his life. (Talk about emotional whiplash…) I got promoted. I had braces, but they came off in March. I got bad family news. I made new friends. I took a leave of absence from my vintage job. (That one counts as both a high AND a low–I cherish the store and the family I have there, but my body couldn’t cope with my schedule any longer.) Overall, things could have been so much worse, and I feel lucky to have made it through another year.

I did spend a lot more time in my sewing room in 2015 vs. 2014, not least of all because my work schedule is now strictly a 1-job situation. My output doubled (!!!!!!) from 2014 to 2015, but I did accomplish much more than the final tally for 2015 would suggest: my patternmaking classes resulted in an increase in knowledge and understanding of my craft, and I have lots of bits and pieces from those sessions hanging around. Those classes really changed my life, adding new skills and friends that I never knew I needed but now could never do without. I can only hope that 2016 is a continuation of these good things, and hope that this new year brings you all health, happiness, and peace in whatever form it may take. ❤

February* FO Trio Post (aka Shield Your Eyes)

*Okay, so one item here was made in December. Whatever.

Hello again!

Hopefully all of you are enjoying the last gasps of the weekend; we had nicer weather the past few days, which doesn’t hurt!

I have not one, but THREE completed garments to show off today–can you believe it?!? Very exciting stuff.

Up first, the longest-finished of the three: my latest version of vintage Simplicity 1281!

New skirt, featuring Mulder

New skirt, featuring Mulder

Side view

Side view

Obligatory twirl photo, duh

Obligatory twirl photo, duh

I have very little to say about the construction of this one, since it’s my third version. It’s exactly what I wanted and is a great staple for my wardrobe. The fabric remains a PITA, but seeing the way the skirt hangs in photos helps me feel like it might be worth it. 🙂

FO #2 can be (partially) seen above: the Tamara top by Style Arc!

Do not adjust your monitor: this shirt is playing games with your eyes.

Do not adjust your monitor: this shirt is playing games with your eyes.

Side view of those triangular bottom panels

Side view of those triangular bottom panels

It's like someone captured the very essence of my attitude in a single candid photo...

It’s like someone captured the very essence of my attitude in a single candid photo…

Pretty nuts, huh? I bought this fabric a few months ago when FabricMart had a big sale and had no idea what to do with it at first. Then I saw this top pattern while shopping the Style Arc Etsy shop and got the idea you now see before you. I wanted to look like a walking page out of one of those 3D picture books from 20 years ago, and give innocent bystanders headaches. Flawless Victory. Speaking of flawless, I should note that the last photo in the above series was a candid that Tom took at the very end of our session this morning. My red was getting all up in my face and so I tried to move it before he took another photo, and he chose that moment to snap a candid shot. After we saw this one, we ended the “shoot” for the day, because it was obviously not going to get any better. Ever.

Constructing the top was relatively challenging at times, due to the fabric (an ITY jersey) and those damn pointy corners. I thought I had knit interfacing but that turned out to be incorrect; I improvised with Wonder Tape and my tracing material and got what I think are really good results. I had to unpick the right one twice (!!!!!!!) until I was happy with the point. After that part was finished, the rest was pretty smooth sailing. This was my first Style Arc pattern, and I knew what I was getting into with respect to their instructions; that said, I really didn’t need any other resources to make this work, since I’ve done neckbands and have sewn knits on my machine before. I did all my hems with a lightening bolt stitch (no twin needle 😦 ) and the stitching is pretty well hidden by the busyness of the print. I will get a lot of wear out of this top! (Bystanders, you have been warned!)

The third item in this post is actually a big fail. I made a really dumb mistake and that resulted in an unwearable (in public) garment. But I’ll share it, because it’s part of a concept outfit with the Tamara top above. (I know, right? Who fucking does “concept” outfits? Who am I trying to be, the The Who of sewing??) Presented for your viewing agony: the Shadi knit skirt by Named Clothing!

Yep, nice and trippy

Yep, nice and trippy (plus a scowl)

Just in case you ever wanted to know more about my ass...

Just in case you ever wanted to know more about my backside…

I got it in my head that it would be AMAZING (and hilarious) to go head-to-toe “Mod on Drugs” and make a pencil skirt out of the same checkered jersey. I knew I wouldn’t really wear them together, but having them as separates seemed like a great idea. I picked up the Shadi knit skirt pattern from Named Clothing (via Pattern Review) and got to work. Sadly, I did not notice that I was cutting the skirt with the highest % of stretch running up and down instead of horizontally. You can bet that I noticed, though, once I tried putting the goddamn thing on. At first I was baffled: I’d done everything I was supposed to do, including making the elastic smaller than my waist and stretching it to fit the top of the skirt. I even graded out from the smallest size to the one up from it on the PDF at the hips, just to be safe!! Tom laughed hysterically as he watched me struggle, which made me mad, and when I finally got it over my ass I realized I could barely walk! Ugh. And of course, there isn’t enough material to re-cut it and it’s long since sold out. *cue heaving sobs* But if I’m honest, the top is the more versatile piece and would have gotten the most wear, and it turned out pretty great, so I’ll chalk it up to a learning experience.

"Vitruvian Mads," aka my entire range of motion in this skirt

“Vitruvian Mads,” aka my entire range of motion in this skirt

But of course, I had to take photos of the two together. HAD TO, you guys. Brace yourselves, and maybe take an ibuprofen and come back to look at the next photos in 30 minutes:

The trippiest dog training photo everrrr

The trippiest dog training photo everrrr

"Come on, Mulder, dance with mommy!!"

“Come on, Mulder, dance with mommy!!”

Good boy!!

Good boy!!

So there you have it: three things, two of which will make it into regular rotation. The other might be scrapped for parts (i.e., the vintage elastic in the waistband) or just binned; the jury is still out on that one. The Shadi pattern is NOT the issue here, to be clear: my lack of ability to brain while sewing is entirely to blame. I’ll be using the pattern again, for sure. (Yes, I know I could have probably just drafted a knit pencil skirt myself, but Named has an aesthetic unlike most other pattern companies out there now and I’m happy to give them my $9USD for this and support them.) I may not make the Style Arc top again, but only because it’s such a statement top that I don’t know if I’d need another in my wardrobe, even in a saner color combination. I will be making more Style Arcs, though, obviously! Vintage Simplicity 1281 is a TNT for me, so it will undoubtedly be back again. Now that I’ve gotten this inspiration out of my brain and into meatspace, it’s on to pants for this weirdo!

Have you ever gotten a random inspiration that you had to bring to fruition right this second? Did you love the results as much as the original idea?