Sunday, November 9, 2014

Burda 6990 As A Top & As a Dress: Polartec Merino Wool PowerDry Fabric is Awesome!

There's a road trip in my future and I really wanted some easy to wear travel clothes.  I used pulled out my handy dandy Burda 6990 pattern (previously sewn & blogged here and here) and cut out View D, the raglan turtleneck top.  I then whipped out another favorite of mine, Vogue 8663 (sewn & blogged here, here and here) and spliced the skirt from it to the Burda top. The real star of this show is the Merino Wool PowerDry knit fabric! More on that below.

I traced the lower edge of the Vogue dress to the bodice of the raglan shirt-- it's a bit more fitted that the top.  I wish I went a little lower with the bodice length, the waistline hits a tad higher then I normally like but not really an issue.  I kept the back center seam on the skirt in the name of being thrifty with using my fabric. And I LOVE this fabric!!  It went through my machine and serger like buttah! No puckering, stretching or those common issues with knits.  I did use my walking foot on my regular machine along with a ball point needle.

I picked up this Polartec Merino wool blend PowerDry knit fabric a few months ago from an insane sale online at Mill Yardage.  I paid a glorious $3 a yard for this stuff!  They had a clearance sale getting rid of seconds or damaged yardage-- the issue with this fabric... there is an occasional hole on the layer of wicking material on the reverse side, this has no effect on the technical properties or overall quality what so ever. What's so great about this fabric? Their website describes it this way : Adding Merino Wool to this style means an odor fighting benefit! This soft, stretchy fabric isn't just the best technical underwear of the outdoor market, it is ideal for shirts and aerobic wear. It outperforms all next-to-skin fabrics on the market because its patented construction has two unique surfaces: the soft inner layer rapidly wicks perspiration away from the body, while the durable outer layer spreads moisture for maximum evaporation. 

I doubt I will be sweating like a pig in the dress or shirt and using all that lovely wicking potential it has, but it's a lovely warm layer I can build on with a cardigan, heavier tights, a coat, etc.  I've worn both the dress and the shirt already this week and am loving it.  I get so freakishly cold in the winter and a turtleneck dress with extra warming properties is #1 in my book.  Mill Yardage has a couple more colors of this fabric, be it $10/yard, I'm considering buying some.  The fabric has a sweater-y feel, is thin but opaque.  The right side does have a slight wooly feel, but is soft and may feel a tad scratchy if you're sensitive to wool. The reverse side is very soft and seems to have no wool content.

And here's another one of those sewing blogger "I'm looking at the floor and appear to be very contemplative" shots.  I never have that feeling ever when I am taking photos for my blog.  It's more like, "hurry up before the neighbors start gawking" or "hurry up before my 3 year old runs into the street while I take this photo."

I like my shirt.  I like my dress.  I will make more for I am the practical seamstress.  Now that I've whipped out so many easy peasy projects, I'm going to cut out my materials for my winter coat FINALLY.  I will try to share progress as I go.  I've completed a muslin (two actually, one was a failure but that's what they are for.)  I've pulled all the components together-- lining, various interfacings, interlining, buttons, so on and so forth.  Onward!!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Sewing For Boys 2-In-1 Jacket: A Coat Made From My Cape's Scraps

Last week I finished my Simplicity 1775 cape.  All the while I was working on it, my three year old son kept touching and smelling the wool coating telling me how he loved it. When I was done with my cape I looked at the odd shaped bits I had leftover, about a 1/2 yard and some smaller scraps... I could manage to make him a really simple autumn coat. Totally unplanned awesomeness!!!  I used the 2-in-1 Jacket pattern from the book Sewing For Boys, one of the few pattern resources for making boys clothes.

This jacket is meant to be reversible but I'd think that the wool would be itchy against the skin, so I made it with that in mind.  I used the leftover bits of my black Polartec fleece I used for my McCall's 7026 muslin jacket,

My little guy usually wears a 4T, so I cut size 4T/5T.  This works nicely since the fleece takes up a little more of the wearing ease then a woven. It's still roomy, he wore it over a long sleeves t-shirt and sweatshirt today.

This pattern is sooo easy to sew up.  The inside is just a duplicate of the outside, then they are sewn together with the right sides facing, flipped out and topstitched on the edges.  I opted to make some super easy patch pockets in the name of speed rather then making welt pockets... he needed  a medium-weight coat the next morning for school and I didn't want to stay up any later then I needed.  It took all of three hours to sew.

I wanted this to be an easy to wear garment... it's for a three year old to run and jump and play in after all. The only interfacing I used was on the collar.  I'm not concerned with drape and all that for this coat, the fleece gives the wool coating a nice full body and weight.  I didn't have 5 buttons that matched but I had a pile of buttons to cover!  Adorable!!  I just did machine worked butting holes, another time saver and they still look great.  The one complaint I have about the pattern's directions-- it tells you to put the buttons on the WRONG side of the coat! Ugh!! I had already started sewing the button holes before I caught that.  The book specifically says to sew them this way.. traditionally boys buttons are on the reverse side. Oh, well, not a deal breaker once it's all said and done now.  Hurray for making tiny things from that odd amount of otherwise useless material!!!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

My Inaugural Blog Post As A Fabric Mart Fabricista Blogger: The Simplicity 1775 Cape

So today is the official kickoff for me as a Fabric Mart Fabricista!
You can find my complete blog post about my cape with lots of pics and a review of the pattern I used right here.

 Some folks may recall I was a participant in their first annual Fabricista Fashion Challenge in 2013.  I have been a devout Fabric Mart shopper for a handful of years now-- I'd estimate that 2/3 of the fashion fabrics I sew with are from them.  I've had an unofficial annual trip from Baltimore to shop in their brick and mortar store for the past couple years.  I've had the fortune of meeting a bunch of the ladies there... and what a great group of folks they are, all so personable and quite knowledgeable!  So it feels natural for me to be a contributor to their blog.

What is a Fabric Mart Fabricista??  Well, right now there are about four of us starting off who will be sewing and then blogging for FM on a regular basis as Fabricistas.  Each month I will sew up a new project with fabrics from FM, photograph and blog about it all-- exactly what I do already for my bloggity blog here.  I want to disclose that yes, I am provided with a monthly budget for each project.  I propose a project (this month it's my freakin' awesome new cape) and select fabrics from their website.  The world famous Julie at FM will approve the proposal and send off the materials to me at no no charge.  You may be familiar with the wildly popular Mood Sewing Network-- I feel like this is similar to their sewing circle.  My blog has not been about making crazy cash or selling you random products or slapping all sorts of ads on my sidebar--supporting a small independent business that I frequent is absolutely worth my while and is, like I said, a natural step for me.  I am going to sew this stuff  plus blog about it anyhow if I wasn't blogging for FM, you know!

Alright then.  So if you wanna see my fly new cape I made for autumn, go on over to the Fabric Mart blog.  And later this week on my own blog, I am going to post what I did with the weird shaped scrap I had leftover.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Burda 6990: Cool Weather Raglan Top

Line Drawing

I've made Burda 6990 two times in the past, you can see them here.  One is a running top and the other a sweater.  This is View A.  I used this beefier then average navy and red striped cotton jersey I picked up on my Fabric Mart trip a few weeks back, from the Julie's Picks Club.  The red is a really nice ponte I got from Mood Fabrics, it's leftover from a really terrific dress I made for a friend and never blogged about.

I made my standard Burda size of 42 and graded out to a 46 hip.  I've found that the seam on the raglan shoulder, front and back, have this really weird bulge to them and had to take that in... I did that for my past versions as well.  I also took in the sleeve width about a 1/2" (1.25 cm) because they were baggy.  With that, it ends up all being no too tight or too loose.  A center back seam would have taken care of the fabric pooling in back, but since I'm working with stripes it would have been weird looking.  I opted for the mild pooling of material. Whatevz.

I want to make more of these basic tops! The pattern is a blank slate for sure.  I added a binding on the neckline and wide cuffs to the improvised 3/4 length sleeve. I would made long sleeves but my scrap of red ponte was too short.  I did NOT lengthen this top as I usually do for Burda.  I am 5'8" (1.73 m) and found this to be a nicer long length shirt right from the envelope.

I was in the mood for some zig zag top stitching so I decided to forgo the twin needle.  I kinda like the detail of it.  Here's a grumpy face.  I can't take myself that seriously when I'm in my backyard getting photos taken of me, I'm sure half my neighbors think I'm a weirdo.

It's a perfect top for fall. I often don't get quick reaction from my husband on things I make but I walked downstairs in this shirt this morning and he commented on how he liked it.  I get man points for this one.  I'm not sure what man points are.

Oh, my garden is now a cat's litter box and a random container of various other crap.  But I do have decorative corn stalks, as sad as they look.  I've been working on a winter coat.  I've had one failed muslin and have another one in the works.  Plus I got a really interesting long term sewing proposition last week.  More to come on that...

Monday, October 13, 2014

How I Dye My Bra Stuff + A Very Green Orange Lingerie Marlborough Bra

Dyeing bra fabrics, laces, elastics and notions is ridiculously easy and quite economical since I want to make multiple different bras with my limited stash.  I purchased many yards of this very nice quality nylon/spandex white galloon lace at FIFTY CENTS a yard over  a year ago at a clothing & lingerie manufacturer's warehouse sale.  I need only so many plain white bras.  I used plain white everything else for dyeing purposes.  Note that polyester materials will not dye well, or at all.  All of my stuff here is a nylon based, the rings and sliders are nylon coated.  I used a medium/heavyweight powermesh and a nylon/spandex fabric that might technically be a swimsuit fabric.  My wide elastic for the bottom of the bra was a surprising polyester/spandex and took on only a hint of my dye.  It somehow didn't get photographed above but it's evident in the finished bra pics.

I dye all my materials before sewing because there may be variations in the dye job on the fabric, I can cut around them if it happens, but I've not had that issue anyhow.  For this green bra I used liquid RIT dye in Apple Green (I know, the photo has brown).  I often will mix colors for custom shades but I kept it straight up green today.  I use a large pot usually meant for canning and a plastic spork thingy, both I've allotted for dye jobs only... no cooking ever with these.  I cut the recommended amounts of fabrics and elastics.  I fill the pot about 1/2 full with hot water, place it on my stove to heat it while I dye... but flip the heat off after 5 minutes so.  I used about 1/3 of the bottle of RIT dye and about a 1/2 cup plain white vinegar.  The vinegar helps the dye to do it's job on nylon materials.

I pre-wet my materials with plain tap water-- this allows the dye to absorb evenly when you dip it in, helping it to not soak up in some weirdo way causing a messed up, uneven dye job (this has happened to me before).  I throw EVERYTHING in.  I toss in the itty bitty bits first (the sliders & rings, the hooks and elastics) so they don't get wrapped up, lost and wonky mixed in with the larger bits-- the fabrics.  I use my mega spork to constantly stir (*gently* for a maximum non-splashing experience).  Constant agitation makes sure I have an even dye job-- letting it sit quietly in the pot un-stirred=icky, uneven color (been there, done that). I keep it moving.  I usually leave it all in about 10 minutes or so until I see a color result I like.  So no one is breaking their arm stirring a pot of bra stuff.  

I fish it all out with my spork or go right in the pot with gloved hands-- the reason why I don't REALLY heat up my dye water to boiling or something.  I toss it all in a plastic bag, run to my basement to pour the pot of dye into a slop sink that has years of dye and paint splatters already on it... no worries there with dye.  I rinse my bra materials then hand wash them with detergent.  Then everything air dries on plastic hangers above the same sink in case I haven't washed the dye perfectly out and residual dye drips down.

I used my very favorite bra pattern here: The Orange Lingerie Marlborough Bra.  You can see previous ones I've sewn and my alterations right here on past blog posts.  The basics: I make a 38B, altering the upper cup and bridge for my figure.

Yes, I forgot to dye any lining fabric and that support elastic across the lacey upper cup.  But I did use a non-stretch beige nylon tricot for the cups-- the green nylon/spandex fabric on the outside is pretty stretchy and needed to be stabilized.  The beige elastic on the lace upper cup is a 1/4" (.635 cm) wide.  You can see how the wide elastic on the bottom of the bra is a faint green-ish color... this ended up being a polyester based material that doesn't dye well with the dye I used.  There is RIT dye for polyester but that stuff is wicked nasty toxic smelling and gross to breath in--- I used some of that stuff to dye my wedding dress a crazy pink to make a new dress from it last year.

I had a little fun improvising with my laces.  I added a bit next to the hook and eye bits on back.  I also extended the lace of the side seam.  To hold it in place, I just use a small zig zag stitch around the lace edges.

I made my own little bow from a roll of skinny ribbon.  It was already green, no need to dye!  I love these shades of green.  As soon as I saw the dried materials after dyeing I realized that it's the exact same color as the green shag rug I had in my bedroom growing up.

And here is how it all fits.  I've forgotten back shots before... so here's one.  It's all so green.  It's Kermit the Frog green. 1970s Shag Rug green.  But not puke Brady Bunch avocado green... there's a fine line and this is not that.  Green!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Orange Lingerie Marlborough Bra: A Red & Black Lacey One

I'm on a roll here with my Orange Lingerie Marlborough Bras!  I need to replace some old ones and I also am just obsessed with bra making at the moment.  I made no alterations as compared to my last very success version of this pattern.   This red and black bra is a size 38B with my upper cup alterations for my shallow bust. You can see Version One here, Two & Three here along with the alterations I made and the sizing I worked with.

I used a non-stretch black lace for the cups and bridge.  I used a temporary fabric spray adhesive (it can be purchased at most big box stores) to secure the lace to the red nylon/spandex material-- this made is so easy to sew without the usual shifting that can occur with a million pins holding it all together.  What's nice it that the spray adhesive cleans up with plain old soap and water plus it's acid free.

The red nylon/spandex fabric is a little beefier then I'd normally use for the cup.  I actually used the fabric for a pair of running tights last year.  My fabrics are both from a clothing manufacturer's warehouse sale I went to last year, so I can't replace this stuff.  I ran out of materials to make a pair of matching undies!

My dark red elastics and straps are from a Merckwaerdigh kit.  I *WISH* I had gold rings and slider  to replace the clear plastic ones that came included on the straps... but these are a wider strap then I usually use and don't have any in my stash.  I normally use 1/2" wide strapping.  The elastic along the top of the upper cup is actually the same as the underarm elastic... I just carefully trimmed off the picot edge.  The black hook & eyes on back along with the underwire casing is from Sew Sassy.  I have a number of different underwires in my stash but the ones from Porcelynne in size 38 have been exactly what I need for my wide, shallow bust.  I made my own little black bow from a spool of ribbon and then added a vintage button.

I don't have my dress form set up to be my perfect duplicate to model the bras I sew, so here is another modest snapshot of this super adorable bra on a body!  It's a really nice, comfy fit.  I wish I pulled the elastic tight for the underarm area, it's a wee bit loose, but not a huge issue at all.  I didn't line the upper cup.  This bra will be really great for less hot weather because it's a bit more substantial then some I wear now.  But that red fabric is a technical fabric and feels GREAT against the skin. So much of my technical/running/activewear fabrics are perfect for using in lingerie making.  I use all the scraps and bits after sewing crazy running tops and tights.  

I should really make a combined list of all the lingerie suppliers I like and/or use.  There are several already out there but none list all the places I frequent.  The one that I find to be the most comprehensive is from Amy over at Cloth Habit.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Orange Lingerie Marlborough Bra: Third Times The Charm!

I think I got it!  I think I got the fit spot on!! It's my latest Marlborough Bra from Orange Lingerie.  I sewed my first version (the cream colored one) a couple weeks ago, thought it was too big in the cup, went on to sew Version 2 (photos immediately below)  which ended up a disgustingly small fit in the cup ), went back to Version 1 (that cream one), then sent photos and asked Norma (designer of the pattern) via Twitter for advice on how to adjust the cup.  Of course she was right, check out Version 3, the pink one above!  But first, I must mourn the loss of a the gorgeous, too small bra.  I took photos for posterity, then ripped it apart to keep the findings.  I hand dyed all the fabric and lace that lovely shade of purple and lined it with silk organza.  It was about 95% done.  No way I was tossing out those elastics from a pricey Merckwaerdigh kit.

Update, Sept 30, 2014: Version 4 can be found here!

  I used size 38B for this pink Marlborough Bra.  I found that my original one version (the cream one) was much too large in the upper area of the cup.  This is a very common occurrence in nearly every RTW bra I try on since I have a shallow bust as well as a wide root.  This means most of the bust tissue is lower on the bust and each bewb takes up a pretty wide area.  So I need a wide cup... but the top half of the cup has a hollow, open space creating wrinkling and a "hammock" effect.  Funny fact, a 38B cup is equivalent to a cup in a 32DD.

I could pinch out a decent amount on the upper cup (LEFT).  After removing a
sliver from the pattern pieces, the pink bra is the result (RIGHT).
Yes, I took some generic, vague pics of the cups while it was being worn.  It was the best way to demonstrate the problem.  I asked Norma, the designer of the bra, what would be the best way to remove that excess material.  I used her advice.  I pinched out the extra fabric along the vertical seam, I wanted to only remove material from the upper and lower cup and NOT the power bar. I pinned it.  I then transferred the markings to my pattern.  You can see this below in the photos.

First I lined up and taped the upper and lower cup where their seams meet on their right.  I marked and drew in a new seam line and cutting line.  You can see it's a wedge.  I cut the extra pattern edge off. I then re-drew my seam lines as dotted line to match  the rest of the pattern pieces.  For my ease of reference, I wrote on all the seam lines to let me know which seam line it will be sewn to... i.e. "attach to lower cup", etc.

I laid my first bra against my latest bra for comparison's sake.  All's the same except for the height of the top of the cup, plus there is a little space removed in the volume on top.

Crazy how the fabric pieces and lacey bits are all just a tiny mess of a pile that turns into something so pretty and quite supportive.  This bra pattern is great for everyday support.  I am not jogging in it or hiking in it.  But I'm doing normal stuff in it.

I used the same laces and elastics in this pink bra as I did in my first bra (the cream one) just so I could compare apples to apples.  A different material can drastically change the fit of a bra.  I hand dyed this lace a while back.  I wish I thought to toss some findings, underwire tubing and the bra clasp for the back.  And that bridge... it's making me so happy.  I altered it to fit using Norma's book Demystifying Bra Fitting & Construction.  Check out my review of the book here.

If you look real close, I did use a different lace for the bridge... it has the same qualities, hand and stretch as the other so there would be no noticeable difference in fitting.

I always want to see what a finished garment looks like on the body.  And when it's a bra I like to understand the shape the cups produce.  So I took a few photos and tweaked them for modesty's sake.

And to get a better idea of how it works under just a regular top, I took a shot while I wore it under a plain tank top here.  Bewbies!!!!

Here's a fun little trick I've seen in a variety of places (I can't recall the original source, possibly Sigrid?)  To get the lace to line up ever so perfectly, line up the seam line with a low dip in the lace's scalloped edge.  Perfection!

ANYONE sew up this pattern yet besides me?!  I want to hear what you've experienced and see what you think, too.  Do share!