Tuesday, March 24, 2015

McCall's 6654 & 7121, Burda 6990, Vogue 1411: A Pile of Stuff I Sewed

I've had it in my mind that I'd hold off taking pics and blogging about stuff until it was warm enough to stand outside in Spring-y clothes for photos... that hasn't really been happening on my schedule... it's way too chilly.  So here is a list of things I've sewn up, then tried my best taking pics inside with my very un-fancy camera.

Line Art
McCall's 6654
Here's a fun little polka dot skirt I made from McCall's 6654.  I used View B but gave it a slightly more a-line style to fit my figure better.  I cut a 16 waist and graded to a 20-ish hip for that.  I've held onto this itty bitty bit of fabric since I sewed up a cute summer dress with it last year (I've worn that thing so much, it's faded a lot). This is a no-brainer, basic skirt to sew up, I'd use it again because it's blank palette of a design.  Oh, I love all this color!

Now this is a shirt I cut and sewed up last night and wore today.  I used my TNT Burda 6990 raglan top pattern (check out other versions here, here, here and here.)  This is a medium weight white cotton/spandex jersey.  I was browsing the sewing internets yesterday and got inspired, I then proceeded to straight up steat Nakisha's idea to use a mesh overlay on the front.  The mesh is a nylon/spandex.

I made a 42 then graded to a 46 hip.  I made bindings for my sleeves and neckline with the mesh, it has a good widthwise stretch, so it was no problem.  I need like 47 more versions of this everyday t-shirt, it's so functional and wearable.

Line ArtAnd now for a look at a sort-of-wearable-muslin for Vogue 1411-- a Sandra Betzina pattern.  I am not terribly happy with the results and need to tweak the fit more, plus I need to wear a longer, fuller shirt over them for a look I feel will be better for my figure.  I made View B, the narrow leg and cut a size D waist and and F hip/leg.  I added 2" (5 cm) to the length after hearing the pattern is really super short.  There's a lot of wrinkling in the knee area, both front and back... I took back photos but they were so dark that it's pointless to post them.

Line Art

And finally I made a dark turquoise ponte dress with McCall's 7121.  I made View C but re-drew that back from a raceback to cover my whole back.  I made a 16 bust/waist then graded the a-line skirt out to an 18.  I also added 1" (2.5 c) to the bodice length.  I made bindings for the sleeve openings, but for some reason just folded over the neckline and sewed it-- I'll do a binding there next time. I feel like this may now be a TNT basic knit dress.

It fits freakishly well-- it can be a real pain in the butt to take photos with directional lighting from my window and a un-fancy camera-- so many wrinkles show up with every twist and turn! Grrr!!!  I had to add darts to the upper back, next time I will cut a smaller size there to get rid of those.  The waist is meant to be a fuller, blouse-y sort of thing, but I removed the extra material (basically by doing a swayback adjustment on the upper bodice pattern pieces before cutting).  I also had to go in on the waist some after serging it all, this was to give it a closer fit.  I did not use any elastic in the waist.

So that's a few things I've had sitting about waiting to blog about.  I wanted to do it all in one post since none of them are complicated or highly complicated.  Loads of functional, everyday stuff.  

Monday, March 16, 2015

Three Pairs of Fehr Trade Steeplechase Leggings

Three pairs, not counting the muslin I made.  And I'm about to make a fourth in the shorts.  So Melissa of Fehr Trade just released her newest pattern... the Steeplechase Leggings.  I'm going to have to say I'm in love with 'em.  Yep, I was a pattern tester for these. And yep, I'd buy these in a heartbeat if I had to (I did buy her women's Surf to Summit, that gray top I'm wearing in the pics... I wasn't a tester for that one... worth double the price for me).  So the thing with these leggings/capris/shorts pattern is there is magically no inseam.  Calling all ladies with thighs that aren't sticks!!  The lack of seaming on the inner thigh creates less chance for chaffing/discomfort!!  There are only two pattern pieces for these (excluding the pocket hiding on the inner back waistband).  The pieces are wack-a-doodle looking but fit together so easily with the clear illustrations in the directions and notches on the pattern.  Each pair took under 3 hours to sew from cutting the fabric to hemming.

I used some of the hoarded stash of my New Balance fabric I bought a couple months back (no longer in stock from the website I got it from-- other projects with this fabric are here and here).  I'd say it's comparable to knit Supplex.  It's a ridiculously soft 4-way stretch wicking fabric.  These are hands down my favorite tights I've ever worn AND made between the fit and fabric choice.  Check out the pic way up of the tippty top of this post and see the wild nylon/spandex animal print I used for the yoke-- I've used that stuff before here and here.

Having fuller thighs and rear end I needed to make some alterations.  I made a medium waist and graded to a large hip and below.  So how in the world did I make my full thigh/rear adjustment?  I did exactly what the pics say above here.  Now that I've done that, I realize I could have, rather then pivot, just push my slashed piece over slightly (keeping all things squared off), then filled in the space. Just a thought.

Also note, I overestimated my sizing and actually went back in on all of my tights after making them and reduced the width of the thighs some.  This was a quickie fix with my serger.  I've dropped about a tad under 10lbs over the past couple months so possibly this is why I needed to reduce the width a tad.

Since I got a nice fit on my Fehr Trade Duatholon capris last year, I went ahead and used my altered pattern from that to copy my crotch curve.  I compare those in the pictures right above here.  Hope they make sense!

My capris are also made from the New Balance fabric.  On top on the yoke I used another nylon/spandex 4 way stretch scrap from my stash, it was labeled as swimwear when I got it a couple years ago.  I made this running top and sports bra along with embellishing these capris with it that navy blue and white striped material.  Never do I toss my nylon/spandex, activewear scraps because I use them all the time for this sort of thing.

After I made a muslin and was sure I loved this pattern, I ran as fast as I could to FINALLY place an order at Spandex World for this crazy smokey-rainbow-sorta print nylon/spandex.  I ordered only one yard but was able to get a full length pair of tights from it because of the generous cut I got of the fabric.  Also, I had to do some creative cutting.  This is a non-directional print and a generous 4-way stretch in all directions.  I had to cut one pattern piece vertically as recommended by the sewing pattern--- then I had to place the 2nd leg perpendicularly to it, following the grain in the other direction.  I forgot to take a photo... if it's confusing you can just ask what the heck I mean and I might make a quickie sketch of my method for you.  But I was *very* careful to follow the grain.  I would imagine going off-grain for this sewing pattern would make the final product twist and turn in weird ways when you move.

The grass green yoke is actually a hand dyed nylon/spandex scrap I had leftover from a bra I made recently.  So much of my activewear sewing/fabrics overlap with my my lingerie fabrics/sewing.  I use 1"/2.5cm wide elastic instead of the 3/4"/2cm wide recommended.  I simply added on 1/4"/.64cm to the top edge of the pattern's waist edge AND the top edge of the pocket edge.  Don't mind the sweat marks on my back in some of these photos... I just ran some mega hills.

The colors on the smokey fabric are so bold and brilliant!  Being such a busy print, it helps masks lumps and bumps my less-then-model-perfect body might have.  The pics where I'm wearing the (RTW) black half zip, I was fresh off my longest run EVER!  I trusted these leggings so much I wore them fresh of the serger for that run.  (It was 8.13 miles/13.09km... I'm a superstar!)  

Hello, secret pocket in the back waist!  I shove my car keys or an energy bar in there, but it's sized for a fancy schmancy phone (which I opt not to own) or an MP3 player thingy.  I carry none such business on a run, my personal rule of thumb is keep my ears open and never have valuables on me.  I'm very cautious and go in safe and lovely parks but still people, I live in Baltimore, I'm not stupid.  (I do not get the folks-- particularly women-- who drown out their surroundings with headphones in a busy, urban environment!)   Anyhow... a funny thing... the striped pocket... I mistakenly put that on the FRONT of my leggings... it sits on my belly and not in back. Oh, well.  That's late night sewing for me.

So there you have it, three new pairs of tights.  And look close on my smokey ones here, you can clearly see I did not baste my pieces together before serging as the pattern recommends.  Now my pieces don't line up ever so perfectly.  They are hand sewn and they feel like a million bucks on and do the job of being excellent running garments. So I don't care all too much about the slight mismatch.  But I'll won't skip that basting step next go round.  I NEED the shorts version like crazy for hotter days coming... I always wear biker style/length shorts for running then for the whole my-thighs-rub-all-the-time-when-running issue. (Find a set of four year old boy toes in the above photo and win a prize.) (Not really.  They are just tiny and cute.)  

And how perfect is the illustration for the Steeplechase Leggings?!  They kinda look like they have my full lady figure!?  Sizing goes from a 35 1/2"/90cm hip to a 48"/122cm hip.  Plus I see Melissa has a coupon code now-- use code SADDLE10 for 10% off all purchases from shop.fehrtrade.com until 25 March, 2015.  

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Sew House Seven's Mississippi Ave Dress

Has anyone sewn up a Sew House Seven pattern before?!? I haven't before this.  So this month I got their Mississippi Avenue Dress for my monthly Fabric Mart Fabricista post (you can click here to read it).  I feel like this little indie pattern company may fly under most sewing bloggers' radars since I basically found nothing when I searched for reviews.  I had no idea what to expect with this pattern.  I didn't know if they are designed with the "standard" 5' 6" (1.65 m) or under crowd or if they ae well drafted or what not.

The Mississippi Avenue Dress & Top Sewing Pattern       PDF $14 or Paper $18The actual packet it all comes in is pretty nice.  There is an envelope much like you expect from a commercial pattern, with all the info and sizing, etc on back.  The instruction booklet is in black and white.  It's  US letter sized, 20# paper folded in half with staples in the center (Too specific?  I worked at a copy shop for some time after college.  It's like regular weight printer paper).  The directions are really thorough and I was pleased with all the quality illustrations.  The dress is quite easy to sew, rated at a "Beginner" level.  I'd call this an near instant-gratification garment for me.  I spent most of my time with the finishing of the neck line and arm openings.  The printed pattern itself is on 3 large sheets of heavy paper, the same weight/quality as the directions are printed on.  Each pattern piece is separate from the others... by that I mean they don't overlap and you don't *have* to trace them off like a BurdaStyle magazine pattern.

I sewed up View C, the longer version of the dress in a super hot pink rayon challis twill.  I needed a size 10/12 for my top half but for the sake of my sanity I cut a straight 12 upper bodice.  I had to grade out to a 14/16 hip.  I did have to take in the sides of the bodice down to about a 10.  I feel like the underarms dip down a tad low giving a sneak peek at my underthings-- I would likely draft them up higher if I were to sew this again.  FYI, sizing is similar to U.S. ready-to-wear sizing.  It ranges from 0-20-- or a 32-46" bust and a 35-50" hip.

Being uncertain of what height these pattern are drafted for I just went ahead and added 1" (2.5 cm) of length to the bodice.  There are no markings on the pattern pages for this.  I went just below the side notches to cut and slash then add the inch on all my pieces.  I'm 5'8", two inches taller than what most commercial patterns draft for, so this is a typical alteration for me.

The price tag of this paper pattern is a whopping $18 US.  Honestly, would I have paid this much for this pattern if the cash was coming directly from my pocket? Likely not since that is a bit steep for me.  I see why it costs more with the better quality paper being used, but it's hard to dig that deep in my purse for a simple dress pattern that is this simple.  If you are a beginner, I would say give them a try (if you can spend the $$) because the directions are detailed and do hold your hand through it all.  But all in all, I really like this casual dress and know I will wear it a lot... when it warms up one day.  Update: Megan mentioned in my comments how the PDF version is $14... which I am a fan of PDF patterns being I am terribly impatient and want all the things the second I buy them.

*Yep, I did receive this fabric and pattern from Fabric Mart to sew it all up and write them a blog post that appears on their blog-- I am a monthly contributor for them, I am a "Fabricista".  Absolutely none of the links I've provide from my blog to theirs (or anyone's website) is an "affiliate link"-- which means if you click them, I don't get paid or anything.  All I write for FM is solely my own opinion-- as is what I write and share on my own blog.  I am just obsessed with sewing and yammering on about sewing.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

You Can Vote Now In PatternReview.com's Activewear Contest

PatternReview.com is always holding a sewing contest at any given moment.  I enjoy shuffling through and reading all the reviews and entries, right?!  I think it would have been a tragedy for me not to enter this one.  I had serious plans to complete more then I did.

What did I sew up for the Activewear Contest?  Being the queen of functional sewing, I made three thing I actually needed for long distance running-- a raincoat here plus a couple tops here for warmer days to come.  There's some solid entries in the contest!  Go peruse the gallery and vote for who ever you want or geek out on some activewear sewing like I did. (You have to have been a member of PatternReview.com for at least 3 months to vote... so you can't vote for me 4349328 times, Mom!) Voting runs Feb 18-24, 2015.  --VOTE HERE--

Sunday, February 15, 2015

A Couple of Fehr Trade XYT Running Tops

I whipped up a couple of my very favorite running tops this week.  It's much too cold for these shirts at the moment (hello, sub-zero wind chills!)  I've made the XYT Tops from Fehr Trade a number of times already.  My first versions are here, more here and a hack here.  I stuck with the same sizing.  I made a small bust, graded to a medium waist and large hip.  I also added 3" (7.6 cm) to the length since I really like a longer top for running.

For both tops, the solid colors are a New Balance wicking polyester spandex  material with a 4-way stretch.  I kept the bodice hem unfisnished... this stuff does not unravel ever.  For the citron green one I used a fun magenta fold-over elastic for some of the edges.  The neckline is a binding fro the self fabric I made, serged and top-stitched on.  The back panel on the upper back is a nylon/spandex mesh.  So fun... it's a crazy paisley, organic looking sheer print.

I love this earth-tone reddish brown tone.  The mesh in back is a nylon/spandex.  If you have an eagle eye you will recognize it from a bra and undies set I made recently.  These meshes have nice 4-way stretch as well.

Here is a zoomed in shot of the mesh, fold-over elastic and bindings I made.  I really like the look of the zig zag stitching.  The mesh will be so nice on the crazy hot days this summer.

Here are the two tops without my sports bra straps distracting the eye.  The front of thee tops are all business-- simple and clean-- but party in the back!  I'm going to enter these guys in the Pattern Review Activewear Contest, too.  Why not?!  I have other projects for the contest half done, but the cut off date for entering is today.  I'll get those done pretty soon though.

*The black and gray tights are Papercut's Ooh La Leggings and are blogged here.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Green Pepper Rainier Wind & Rain Coat: Clima-Fit & Reflective Houndstooth Lighweight Running Jacket

I'm on a roll here with sewing outwear.  My last two finished projects were a wool coat and a fur coat, now this fantastic lightweight raincoat I made for running!  Some folks may know I'm training for my first half-marathon this Spring.  I wanted a raincoat to help prevent any excuses on rainy/snowy/windy days.  Plus PatternReview.com is running an Activewear Contest, this was further motivating me to get this jacket done ASAP!  I chose the Women's Rainier Raincoat from Green Pepper, it's pattern #133. It's a pullover with princess side seams on front, drawstring hood  and raglan sleeves.  The sizing on this jacket runs a little smaller then RTW but is comparable to the Big Four pattern companies.  I cut a 16 and graded to about a 20 hip-- their sizes only go up to 18  (I sized down after my muslin, I explain further down).  I normally cut a 16 bodice & 20 hip with Vogues generally, too.  Tracing out the pattern is really easy, it's not a maze of lines like magazine patterns.  There's multiple heavy newsprint pages with the patterns pieces.  You can see in the picture right above on the left.  I've sewn one other Green Pepper pattern but it was for a pair of men's cargo shorts last year.  I had great success with that pattern, too.

I made a muslin to check the fit.  I realized after cutting the muslin fabric that it was some fancy silk taffeta (the beige stuff... the blue polka dots is some cotton blend.)  But let me say, that silk was the ugliest shade of beige with really weird  and ugly pinstripes and beading that I did not get.  It was perfect for a muslin.  The bodice from the waist up was very large plus the sleeves were quite oversized.  I removed a total of 2.5" (6.35 cm) from the upper bodice and 1.25" (3.2 cm) from the circumference of the sleeves.  It's down to maybe their size 12.  I simply went back in after the original stitching and went up along the sleeve and bodice seam to remove this extra width-- I marked in red above demonstrating how I did that.  I also drafted a rain flap thingy on back which I explain more about further down.

Now let's talk about my fabrics!  I got some juicy stuff here. The black is a Clima-Fit polyester ripstop.  The website where I bought it from says it "Features special construction and finishes that keep wind and rain out, yet offer excellent breathability. Tight weaves paired with a durable water repellent (DWR) finish helps keep water out, yet allow heat generated moisture vapor to breathe out through the fabric."  I am pretty sure this is a material produced for Nike.  It is a pain in the butt to photograph black ripstop fabric, oh my gosh!!  Wrinkles magically appear with every small twist and turn you make!  A busy printed fabric would hide that but I wanted a neutral color to go better go with my super loud and colorful running clothes.

The houdstooth is sooo cool looking!  It's a DWR reflective 100% nylon material.  I fell in love with it the second I saw it online and the swatch I got confirmed my love.  I will be highly visible with this stuff.  I did pour water over it to check just how water repellent it is... it really is water repellent, but I still lined the hood and rain flap in back with the Clima-fit ripstop just in case.

I wanted a storm/rain flap on back to allow for optimal comfort and breathability.  I used the back pattern piece, cut it in half at the armpit line then added seam allowances-- the lower part is ripstop, the upper is a red nylon mesh.  I also used that upper piece to create the houndstooth flap-- but for this I added an extra 1.5" (4 cm) to overlap that mesh preventing rain from getting in.  I was originally unsure of the velcro neckline but I ended up appreciating it.  It's lighter weight then a zipper.

I took some pics in the dark with my camera flash on, the ones right above here.  The reflective fabric turns into a really bright white and grey pattern that glows beautifully in the dark.

Some details I really like on this raincoat.  The giant zippered pocket on front under that flap!  I used my red nylon mesh here.  I can stuff all sortsa junk in here.  The raglan sleeves allow for easy movement.  And the elastic cuffs will help prevent rain from seeping on my arms.  I used a blue zipper just for fun.  In some pics you'll see my hands stuffed in the giant pocket in the lower bodice on the princess seaming.  That pocket is also lined with the red mesh.

There is a drawstring around the lower hem.  That middle pic right above is the the eyelet and cord toggle that helps keep it the cord in there nicely.  I am not sure if I will ever tighten that, but I kept that feature in case I did need it.  There is a drawstring in the hood with a couple more metal eyelets.  You can see the channel it runs through around the hood.  That will be useful on windier days.

I was wearing a heavyweight, thick Polartec fleece under the jacket when I was taking these pictures... it was freezing outside.  It's roomy even after my downsizing this jacket.  I am surprised I didn't need to add any length on the bodice or sleeves as I normally do with (almost) every commercial pattern since I'm a little taller then average at 5'8" (1.73 m).  If you're wondering, I made those crazy red tights last year.

UPDATE, Feb 16, 2015: I wore the jacket today as an extra layer and windbreaker in subzero wind chills.  It was dirty, nasty cold.  Overall, the jacket was awesome.  I loved the fabric, there is minimal "swooshing" noise as I move and I felt like I could move very freely... even with three layers underneath it along with an extra wide Polartec headband I had to make especially for today for warmth. It helped prevent that nasty cold from blowing through my layers of clothes.

However, there is one issue I had.  This will not be a problem in less severely cold temps.  There are little metal eyelets on the inside of the front that hold the drawstring around the hood.  These little eyelets kept bumping against my skin as I ran... those actually tapping occasionally my face was a bit of a shock each time.  The severe cold winds made those metal bits ICE cold.  Each tap on my face was not my favorite feeling.  I'd have never noticed them on a warmer day.  I will likely take a small square of fabric and hand sew it over the eyelet to protect it from touching my skin.  If I were wearing this ONLY for weather that wasn't so cruelly cold, this would have not been a problem.  If I were to make this jacket again, I would seriously consider making machine-sewn button holes for the drawstring to come through.  Or perhaps a welted opening for them.