Wednesday, April 16, 2014

McCall's 6884: Tie-Dyed Knit Wrap Dress


I almost tossed this fabric in my donate/scrap box of stuff but pulled it out to give it new life.  It was a plain, bright white... I'm on a fabric dyeing kick so I did some fun experimenting with this super stretchy, soft bamboo rayon spandex knit.  Why did I want to toss this material?!  I used it once for this cowl top... but after washing it, the material took on a hazier dull white.  So of course a bright pink tie dye job was in order. I used liquid Rit Dye in Cherry Red in very hot water.  I followed Rit's recommended dyeing directions for rayon fabric.  It spent maybe 20 minutes in the dye bath.



I used McCall's 6884 for this mock wrap dress.  I really, really love the look and feel of a classic wrap dress on me... it can be super fancy or quite casual like this one.  I cut a size 14 and graded to an 18 for the hip-- I made the skirt slightly more a-line to work better with my figure, the pattern is a straight skirt.  It's essentially View A but with View B's skirt.  I added 1.5" (3.8 cm) to the bodice length.  I also lowered the ties about 2" (5 cm)... they were really high up, like right under the bustline... I read a few reviews of this pattern on PatternReview.com that said the same thing.


This dress is stupid easy to sew.  They should label it that... "Stupid Easy".  I didn't follow their recommended directions.  They want me to SET in the sleeves? Uh... no way.  It's much easier to attach the sleeves to their spots rights before I sew up the side seams... that way I have one quick zip up the side with the serger and the dress is done.


This house I took photos in is at one of our favorite parks here, Cylburn Arboretum.  It was built in the 1910's and has these sprawling, amazing gardens... I feel like I should have been wearing something Downton Abbey-esque to fit in better. Now that's a juicy staircase and wood floor!!


My rayon knit fabric is so stretchy (about 80%!)  and needs to be stabilized on the shoulders and neckline.  I used my favorite iron on bias tape, Pellon Easy Knit Tape.  I ironed it along the entire neckline as well as the shoulder seams prior to sewing them together.  I usually cut the bias tape in half (I did for the back neckline still before I decided otherwise) but wanted to try using the whole width of the tape for the neckline/bodice edge.  I only needed half the width for the shoulders.  I then serged the edges to help keep the tape in place wash after wash.


I then folded and ironed the seam over.  I top stitched it with a single, long stitch.  I usually use a twin needle to top stitch knits.  What?? No twin needle?! The function of a twin needle is to create a stretchy and flexible lines of stitches-- here my seam is NOT meant to be stretched, the bias tape makes it un-stretchy and perfectly stabilized. I could have used a twin needle for the look of it, but who wants to set up another spool of thread if you don't really have to?!


Now my seams are happy and stable.  I don't think the pattern even recommends anything for the seams like this.  On the other hand, the pattern is meant for a "stable knit", i.e. a ponte or double knit with little stretch... mine is VERY stretchy.  You still would need something to stabilize your seams on even stable knits, not sure why McCall's skips this.  You could even use that clear plastic elastic if you're in a pinch, but I HATE that stuff personally. It sews up well and looks decent on the outside of a garment but it's soooooo uncomfortable against the skin.


I left my sleeve and skirt hems raw.  From my experience, this fabric never frays or unravels at all.  And I think I permanently broke my camera just seconds after taking this last photo.  It crashed down on the pavement... for the fourth time in two months.  Poor camera.


Sunday, April 13, 2014

Kwik Sew 3300: Black Lacey Bra with Secret Polka Dots Inside


Once I started making bras again last week I now can't stop... and I have more in the works!  I made another Kwik Sew 3300 bra here.   I should count how many I've sewn up since I started lingerie sewing a couple years ago.  I did need a solid black, not foam-lined bra in my wardrobe, I've nearly worn out the last black bra I sewed up with this pattern.  


Seriously... it's impossible for me to make a plain ole black bra.  I had to use a pretty non-stretch lace overlay on the cups and bridge then line it with polka dotted fabric.  I save all my  itty bitty scraps of activewear and knit fabrics from previous projects just so I can make cute bras and undies like this.


You may recognize the polka dot nylon/spandex knit from the freakishly adorable top I made for my niece last year, the nylon lace from the bodice of the reversible LBD I made for the Fabricista Fashion Challenge and the black nylon/spandex fabric from both my Papercut Ooh La Leggings AND the contrast on the rainbow zebra Fehr Trade Duatholon Capris.  I'm a thrifty girl.  I even saved the scraps of the scraps.


I made the lil' red bow on front.  I have a handful of colors of narrow ribbons I picked up from a big box craft store... yards and yards on one spool and they were 3/$1 on sale.


I made the same size as my last set of these bras, a 36A but just lengthened the band to a 38... making it a 38AA really.  I'm pretty broad around the back and chest but I have a pretty small bust.  My blue mannequin is a flat chested lady and can't quite fill out the shallow bra cups, so they look rippled and wrinkly-- I've been meaning to size her up correctly to match me but I'm too lazy right now.


I might have to make a bra with the polka dots on the outside.  They are so sweet that I'd almost wear this inside out.  But I held back and made sure I made a solid black one so I can wear it under dark clothes.


Right now Amy of Cloth Habit is doing a fantastic series for making foam cup bras... I'm dying to make one of those up (she even has a really nice list of places to buy bra/lingerie making supplies, too.)  I also need a racerback bra for a number of summer tops and dresses, so you may see one pop up on my blog soon.

My supplies for this bra came from:
A local warehouse sale from a clothing manufacturer: Non-Stretch black lace
Fabric Fairy: Polka dot fabric (technically it's swimwear material)
Sew Sassy: rings, sliders, elastics, back closures, underwire chanelling
Porcelynne: Underwires

One more lining shot here... polka dots are too much fun to keep secret.


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Two Kwik Sew 3300 Bras & A Pair of Merckwaerdigh MIX30 Undies


I've been in a bit of a sewing rut recently and had a cold that wouldn't quit last week.  So to cure my sewing block and bring some sunshine to my life I whipped out all my pretty lingerie making supplies.  I haven't made bras and undies in a year and almost forgot how easy they are to make!  This bra pattern has been my best fitting yet, Kwik Sew 3300. The undies are Merckwaerdigh MIX30.  I've made these a few times already, too.  You can see my last set of both of these here.  I've well over a dozen bras in the past few years.


All of the lace was from a mega warehouse sale from a local lingerie/activewear clothing manufacturer-- I paid maybe fifty cents a yard (or less? I can't recall exactly...) for this gorgeous stretch lace!  I dyed the lace from white and cream to this pretty blue during my dye job for those great fitting shorts I made recently.  It took 10 minutes on the stovetop in a RIT Dye (Denim Blue- the liquid version) mixed with vinegar to get this color-- I followed the recommendations RIT gives here for dyeing nylon fabric.  I forgot to dye a bit of cotton for the crotch bit on the undies, that's still a plain white.  The solid  stretch fabric is a nylon/spandex blend.  



You have to look closely but the cup lace on the blue bra is different then the lace on the band.  I ran out of the one lace but had the other I also dyed... it's actually a really pretty and subtle contrast.  Yikes... check out the crazy crotch and bum fit on my mannequin!  


I used size large for the undies, like I have previously... but I may have gained a handful of pounds this winter so they are a little more snug then I'd like.  The bra cup a 36A, but with a 38 band... yes, that makes me a 38AA in this particular bra.  I often buy 36B or 38B (it's basically impossible to find 38A) in RTW bras.  


I have a hard time just making a plain white bra, but I really needed one.  I used a slightly peach elastic on the inside to shake things up.  The solid fabric is the same material as the blue, just in it's original color... it's a soft cream. 


I love the edges of the lace so I need to show that off along the bottom of the bra band.  You can see all of my stitching and how well my dye job was on the blue fabrics and underwire casing!  I'm loving it!  I use bra hooks that are only two deep-- it's a custom fitted garment and don't think I need the three like I usually find on RTW ones. 


I made the blue one first and totally forgot to enclose my seams on my cups on the inside, it looks neater on the white bra. On the top part of the cup I use only lace, on the lower cup I use a layer of lace and a layer of the solid  nylon/spandex fabric.  


You will never, ever catch me fashioning my bras, undies and other unmentionables on my blog... unless it's over jeans and three shirts.  Dang, they look good on me, eh?


Update April 9, 2014:  Where did I get all my bits and bobs for these bras? I have a stash of lingerie supplies I've been collecting over the past several years, and sometimes use scraps from my activewear fabrics, but can recall where each thing comes from:
Lace: A random wearhouse sale from a local clothing manufacturer
Solid nylon/spandex fabric: JoAnn's red tag clearance section 
Underwires, blue picot edged elastic (already was this color when I bought it)Porcelynne 
Underwire channels, rings/slides, hook & eye back closure, elastics (I dyed blue)Sew Sassy
Elastic (pale peach on the white bra), bra strapping: Leftover from a bra kit from Summerset

White 100% organic cotton jersey crotch lining: Fabric.com

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Burda 3/2014 #105-- Cropped Blouse


Check it out, I made a mullet blouse... a CROPPED one at that.  I couldn't stop thinking about this pattern since it was released in the March issue of Burda (it's also downloadable here, too.)  This is Burda 3/2014 # 105.  There's an A and B version, but they are identical, only different fabric was used in the magazine.  This is not my usual cup of tea but that's the fun of sewing, making some fun stuff out of my comfort zone.   
I made a straight size 42.  I usually will grade out to a 46 below the waist, but it barely goes below the waist and it's quite voluminous. The material is a rayon challis zig zag print from Fabric Mart.  


It's a fairly straight forward pattern to sew up.  I tried to follow along with the directions, but they just felt bamboozled.  I went it on my own pretty much the whole way.  The back (the lower piece) is slightly curved on the seam that meets the back yoke... I thought that this made my zig zag look a little off, but in the photos I barely notice it.  Only you seamstress people would ever notice anyhow.  


I'm having a hard time deciding if I like the collar.  It just sort of flips around and flops down.  Then I looked at the two models in the magazine (here they are on Burda's website here and here) and realized they had the same issue.


I was super careful about the matching up the print on all the seams, you'd never know there is one right down the center.  But I obviously sleepwalked right through cutting the sleeves to match the zig zags, they don't match! Ugh!!! Oh well, that's life.


I found that the shoulder seams extend past my shoulder points.  I'm thinking it's something to do with the wide open neckline paired with a very drape-y material.


You can really see how much ease the bodice has.  If you're one to grade up on the lower bodice of tops for a pear shape like I normally do, it's not necessary at all.  It's still too chilly to wear this top here in my neck of the woods, I wonder if this one will be worn on a regular basis, I'm not exactly sure yet.


It may be difficult to spot in any of the photos but I do have itty bitty vintage lavender buttons on the cuffs and collar.  My seams are all encased, french seams all the way here.  I did not feel like fussing with faux french seams on the sleeves so I sucked it up and just used my serger.  My hem is a narrow machine rolled hem.  


I didn't lengthen anything here, I wanted the design as is to wear over a tank top.  You won't catch me ever with this top worn alone, this I'm sure of, people!


Overall, I think it's pretty cute.  I good option for the (eventual) arrival of spring.  Has anyone else made this top yet??  I'd love to see your version.  Did the collar bother you some, too?  Show me!!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Fehr Trade Duatholon Shorts... in a Capri length (Plus a discount code!)


Another winning activewear pattern from Melissa of  Fehr Trade, the new Duatholon Shorts.  I've never been one for capris and don't own but one pair (for yoga/pajamas) so it was high time I had some for the transitional spring season.  And how lucky am I to be a Fehr Trade pattern tester, again! You can see previous exercise patterns I've tested from her herehere and here.  I have been really, really impressed what this lady has been designing... the thoroughness of the directions and the multitude of high-quality, detailed illustrations is quite terrific.

These capris are pretty cool because they are designed for not only running, yoga, walking, hiking, etc., but they also have a cool design element for the bicyclist-- a padded crotch.  Now, I have this really nice bike for commuting I barely have used since I got it in 2008 or so (I was laid off soon after, so there was no job to commute to after that!)  Sewing this pattern got me to dust it off, tune it up and ride it around my neighborhood to get my bicycling legs back.


I cut a size medium in the waist and graded to a large for the rest of these sassy blue capris. For reference, my best fitting RTW pair of jeans right now are a U.S. size 14 Levi skinny curvy fit pair.  The side panels are a navy blue and white with navy stripes.  There is even a deep little pocket on the side hip for my keys or what nots I need easy access to.

Having made the Fehr Trade PB Jam Leggings before I knew my alterations for this pattern.  I added about an inch (2.5 cm) to the back crotch length for the full butt and thighs I do have.  I had to alter the crotch pad length the match my alteration as well.  I have to note that in the end I did not use the padding bit because I realized I had nothing on hand to use for my padding! Aaaagh!  But I want to show you how to alter this pattern piece if you need to as well.  

First I altered the back crotch depth.  I laid a piece of paper under the back leg piece, drew an extension of about 1" (2.5 cm), then cut away the excess paper.  I also removed a wedge from right below the waistline-- the upper butt area-- it puckered and bulged out in this area on my PB Jam leggings' muslin (which I am sure I forgot to mention in that blog post...geeez.)  Hooray... a new and improved back leg piece for me!! 



Since the crotch is now longer, that padding bit needs to be longer to match the addition I made.  I slashed the piece in the narrow center, opened the space up the identical length to my crotch depth addition above (about and inch/2.5 cm), taped a scrap of paper under that space and re-drew and cut the lines.  Perfection!


These crazy rainbow zebra print capris were awesome on a pretty hilly 5k I did.  Here I'm at one of my favorite trails in Baltimore city, the Jones Falls Trail-- it's part of the East Coast Greenway.  I love urban woods running-- I'm dead in the middle of the city but you'd never know.


My main fabric for both pairs were from a KILLER warehouse sale I went to last year where a local clothing maker was selling off yardage they didn't need.  I paid less the $1 a yard for this material.  I am crossing my fingers they will have another sale this year soon!  All of it is a nylon/spandex blend.  Recently I was over at Renee's (she gave me a boatload of international sewing pattern magazines while she has been installing and cleaning up her juicy new sewing room that puts my sewing space to utter shame) and I got to pet some of her authentic Under Armour fabric.  I am like 90% positive that some of my material may be Under Armour stuff... or an amazing knockoff of it.  This zebra print is just some random really good quality swimsuit fabric.  It's super slippery making making it nice for the inner thigh area while moving.  


I made a really fantastic mistake on this pair.  I sewed the side pocket facing the wrong way.  My right side pocket is on the INSIDE of my capris... I slipped my house keys in there and they were extra secure and tightly held in while I ran.  I will probably have one outside pocket and one inside pocket again for any of these I sew up I the future.  I love it!  I also took in the width of the knee area, I found them to be a bit loose and baggy in that area.  That was an easy alteration after I sewn them all up but before hemming them.


I might hem the length up a smidge next time, I have fuller calves and noticed after taking photos that they settled up in the back of my knee.  It was not at all weird feeling, I didn't even realize it.


Oh, boy these are some nifty capris.  They are SOOOOOOOO easy to sew up.  I would say if you were on the fence with sewing the PB Jam Leggings because of the swirly bits, you should try these.  The pocket is simple to sew up, it's one long length of fabric that you just fold up to make the pocket. And a bonus, it took me under one yard/meter of main fabric and some odd scrappy bits for the side panels.  The pattern recommends 1 meter (1.1 yards), I got it out of about .8 yards (3/4 meter) even with my alterations.

Right now, Melissa is offering a discount code for this pattern:  you can use code “VMLM14” to get 10% off until April 13, 2014.  You'll find the pattern here in her Etsy shop.


I've registered for a race for late April! It's a 6k to raise money for a worthy organization, here's the race website.  It looks like a really cool looking course running through Fort McHenry  (the place where the poem that inspired the U.S. national anthem, The Star Spangled Banner, was penned during the War of 1812 from a boat out in the water by Francis Scott Key... I really the enjoy local history :) with a sweet view of all that waterfront and harbor goodness with giant ships and what nots.  I think this will be a great chance to get a snapshot or two for the Spring Race Challenge Melissa is hosting, too!