Wednesday, February 18, 2015

You Can Vote Now In's Activewear Contest 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 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 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.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Ottobre 5/2009 #18 Winter Coat: Completed!

So I finally finished my winter coat last week!  I've worn it a couple times and it feels really nice on.  You can see my progress post on this coat right here-- it gives more detail of what sort of tailoring techniques I used along with my muslining process, sizing, etc. that I don't include in this here blog entry.  A quick review:  This is my very first Ottobre pattern...and I'm sold on them.  I do confess, I barely used the directions, but I did review them to get an idea of how well Ottobre writes them.  The instructions are okay but don't include much tailoring info and what not.  It seems they expect you go it on your own for all those goodies... which is no big deal when there are some excellent coat tailoring books in the world (I use Tailoring: The Classic Guide to Sewing the Perfect Jacket).  One thing I really liked about this pattern-- they actually have a pattern piece for the sleeve heads. 

I doubled up on my sleeve heads here using both hair canvas cut on the bias and some polyester fleece.  My purple fashion fabric is quite hefty and I felt like it needed extra support.  I ended up using bias cut strips of sew-in hair canvas to stabilize my hems(rather then wigan).  You can see in my innards photos I COMPLETELY interfaced my entire coat with iron-on weft insertion interfacing.  That took a lifetime to do but it adds a really nice quality to the drape of the coat.  My purple with white fashion fabric is a wool blend from Marc Jacobs.  I picked it up from a particular store in Sinking Springs, PA in 2013 while on my annual road trip there. 

I made bound button holes.  They look so tidy and neat.  You can see I used my sew-in hair canvas on the front edges of my coat, too.  I kinda had fun cutting holes in it and popping the button hole bits through.

I am so freaking pleased with how the back of this coat lays.  If you look back at my muslin you'll see a weird gaping in the back center seam.  It's all gone.  There is no back kick pleat, which is why the buttons end at a fairly high spot in front.  I am not restricted in walking in any way.  Actually I was on a min-hike in the woods with my son in these pictures.

Here are some more pics on the coat's insides.  I used the upper back pattern piece to make the backstay.  I used a lightweight cotton flannel.  I also interlined the front and back bodice with a really ugly cotton flannel.  My purple wool is quite thick and dense so I opted to have the interlining hang freely inside.  I only sewed it to the shoulder seams and arm openings onto the main fabric.  Those seams ended up being sooo thick my sewing machine almost wouldn't sew it together.

The sleeves lay nicely.  The shoulders and sleeve heads are about right, I do say.  I worked my buns off to get all of those little white dotty things to line up from one piece to the next... and they line up perfectly from bodice to sleeve... love that juicy detail!  And in that picture above, I'm very serious about loving it apparently.

And check out my lining.  I went back and forth on what to use.  I intended to Sunback/Kasha flannel backed satin but couldn't get my hands on a color that worked with the purple stuff here.  I didn't want pure white, I'd somehow pour a bottle of wine or mustard or a stray cat would pee on it and stain it forever.  Long story short I ended up using this gold polyester satin I inherited from a friend here (thanks, Heather!!)  I really like the color contrast.

Now, let's look at the back again.  I'm just so happy with it.  I ALWAYS have weird swayback issues or some bunching or something due to my fuller derriere.  None here after fixing the muslin.   And those buttons are so super cute.  They came from Stadham here in town.  They have a wall-o-buttons that make me happy.

It started raining when we were about done with our walk.  Wet wool. Ugh.  Oh, and I totally forgot.  I didn't sew the pockets on.  I sewed them up and attached one, but I hated it with a passion.  For some reason they looked ugly, sloppy and just weren't right.  I ripped it off.  And then proceeded to forget to add pockets otherwise.  This coat has no pockets.  I think this is the only regret I have outside not getting Kasha lining.  So be it!  I love my purple coat. It loves me. Off into the sunset we go.  And guess what what I am sewing now.  Another jacket.  But it's very different, I am using technical fabrics and making it to get sweaty and to run in.  

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Faux Fur Coat: BurdaStyle 12/2011 #113

Faux fur is so much easier to sew up then I ever imagined.  Seriously, people.  I assumed I needed some secret skills I didn't have or consult and expert furrier's textbook or something.  Not at all.  I picked out a simple raglan 3/4 sleeve jacket pattern, BurdaStyle 12/2011 #113 along with this rabbit-like faux fur.  I wrote up a complete blog post over at Fabric Mart's blog today, so you can hop over to read it if you want.
I've had these vague notions in the past about how I wanted my own fur but am totally freaked out by real fur... to the point I can't even touch one.  I really like the classy lady/rock star/movie star look of them.  Except I am sure I give off less of a ladies-who-lunch or rock out vibe and more of a fun Lucy-and-Ethel-wearing-cowboy-hats-with-their-furs-and-pearls-while-vacuuming the house vibe.  But I don't even own pearls.


The pattern was a breeze to sew up and seemed to be sized a bit larger then I expected.  I made my usual Burda size of 42 but with no grading up towards the hip as I normally need to.  I actually had to take in the sleeve and bodice with about an inch (2.5 cm) since it was so large.

I've been seeing a few other really nice hand sewn faux furs popping up in the past few days after I finished my coat here last week.  It was interesting to hear other folks didn't have a difficult time sewing it either.  The secret's out, making a faux fur is easy.

A weird thing here in Baltimore. there seems to be a bit of a (real) fur culture... I've seen a number of men and women wearing full on, full length ones... I wonder if I can blend in and now become a real local?  This faux stuff is really hefty and super warm.  But my hands were icicles when I took these photos, can you tell?  Someone forgot gloves.  I have lots more details on my Fabric Mart Fabricista post here.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Ottobre 5/2009 #18 Winter Coat: Muslin to Collar Progess

I muslined out this coat back in November!!  Life happens-- holidays, everyone being sick for weeks on end, having my kitty go through weeks of treatment for an illness, etc, etc... I was doing basically only instant gratification projects since this muslin... but the coat is back and I'm trucking along nicely.

I picked up just three yards of this hefty purple with white Marc Jacobs wool blend back in the Fall of 2013.  With three yards only, I was limited to what coat I could sew up with it.  I whipped out my one and only Ottobre Magazine, the 5/2009 edition (Autumn/Winter) for pattern #18 and realized how much I liked the simple, clean lines of it-- nothing over the top, a classic look, and most of all it's takes under three yards of fashion fabric.  This is my very first time using their patterns.

It was pure luck I had this ugly striped cotton/poly fabric in my stash--- it was perfect to line stuff up and see what I needed to alter.  I cut a size 42 and graded out to a 46.  These are my standard Burda sizes and it looked to match up with Ottobre's sizing as well.  The muslin ended up working pretty well in the upper half, but I did NOT need to grade to a 46 as the proportions on me looked weird (see pics above).  I reduced the lower width back to size 42.  It's a pretty full cut a-line style, so I wasn't too surprised.

You can see where reducing the width of the lower half  worked out... but in the different lighting I realized that the back seam was looking like a hot mess.  Well, I went back in and fixed that but was too lazy to take any photos of that muslin change. Boo hoo.  The only other alteration I made was adding 1" (2.5 cm) to the length of the sleeves, but I just did that before I even made a muslin.

In the above pics is some progress.  That nasty back seam ripple is gone and now lies flat.  I need to adjust the front hem some, it's lower then I'd like... it's really not as bad as the angle of the pics make it out to be though.

What's interesting  to note with this coat pattern is that there is no separate facing on the front, it's all one piece joined with the bodice.  All I do is fold it back when it's sewed.  You can see all the pattern pieces lined up above on my fashion fabric.

I've cut out an underlining as well from a cotton flannel for the bodice.  Since my fashion fabric is so beefy I will sew the flannel together separately and then hand sew it in to the shoulder and arm openings of the coat.  Otherwise I bet the seams would be so thick my sewing machine wouldn't sew it properly.

I am essentially not using the directions from the magazine.  I've occasionally looked at them for the sake of making sure I am making a coat that looks like the technical drawing and that's really it.  I'm using the book Tailoring: The Classic Guide to Sewing the Perfect Jacket as my guide for direction.  I used it before for my trench coat last spring.  Not mentioned in the book, I opted to interface the entire coat with weft interfacing.  I will be using sew-in hair canvas in critical areas that need more support including the collar, lapels, pockets, etc.  I may just go ahead and cut the hair canvas on the bias for my hems rather then get my lazy butt to buy some wigan.

I have to tell you (and some may snicker) but I used the machine sewn technique to sew in my hair canvas onto my collar.  I confess I did not want to pad stitch it. It's all perfectly explained in the book and the technique created a lovely, firm collar.  You can see my collar stand, undercollar and collar pieces all delightfully prepped to be assembled, put on ye olde tailor's ham and steamed to perfection.

And here she is below... happy as can be waiting on the ham for her moment to shine.  I've actually marked out my bound button holes tonight.  Those are super easy but just take time and patience.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Three Fehr Trade Surf to Summit Tops & A Pair of Papercut Ooh La Leggings

It is cold, windy and snows on the ground here in my neck of the woods... but when the sidewalks and trails are clear enough for me to go on, I got my three new handmade Surf to Summit Tops and my peacock paisley Ooh La Leggings to run in.  I've already worn everything before I even took these pictures the other day and I give them all two thumbs up. (I didn't test this Fehr Trade pattern as I have with all of her others, I went and bought it after it was released this time.)  I really, really needed some long sleeved shirts made in technical fabrics for this winter to do some training in, I may have registered for my very first half marathon this spring!  I don't have a gym membership and treadmills generally don't agree with me so I opt to be out in the elements.  I'd rather jog (yeah, I don't really *run* per say) in 15F (-10C) weather then 95F (35C) any ole day.  Maybe I'll take advantage of some of those "free trial" days at a couple local gyms if it gets too rough out there. 

I wrote a blog post about sewing these goodies up over on Fabric Mart's blog.  You can read that right here.

If you're curious about my running habits or how I started, read on... 

I'm not a fancy, super fast, record breaking runner.  The longest I've ever run in about 7.3 miles (11.75 km) and that was a couple years ago.  Right now I run about  a little over 3 miles (5K) with plans to work up to a half marathon in May.  I started off running about 3 1/2 years go using the Couch to 5K program.  I was carrying a lot more weight at the time and did what I could.  I ran in circles at a local park around a lovely lake.  Eventually I started running through the park with its fairly sizable hills, and onto other parks and into the streets in town.  Over the past few years I've generally done 3-5 miles (5-8 K) on my runs, some months less others more.  Sometimes I run past folks, most times other folks run past me.  In the summer I run in the woods to take cover from the sun-- I learned that trail running is my favorite now!  I like running and look forward to it.  I don't run with a group, though I've considered it.  The first decades of my life I did not run, although I enjoyed walking, hiking or biking.  I run relatively slow.  I use a GPS watch to track it all, which is pretty cool to see.  I seriously don't compare myself to anyone... really!  Not everyone who runs is trying to beat everyone else.  So that's about my running in a nutshell.  And on the right in the small pic, I'm fresh and sweaty from my New Year's Day run. 

Monday, January 5, 2015

Colette's Seamwork Magazine Manila Leggings #3004: Scuba Knit Craziness

I subscribed yesterday to Colette Pattern's digital sewing magazine Seamwork.  It completely fell off my radar the second it was released but was just reminded that it existed via Twitter.  The magazine itself is actually free but to get the patterns you need to subscribe at $6/month.  I browsed through and was really excited to see the high quality of her new magazine with a sharp looking layout and design that follows their usual aesthetic.  The content is actually really terrific with sewing articles with well thought out and useful info.  I subscribed and printed up the Manila leggings ASAP.

The last time I sewed a Colette Pattern was in 2012.  I really like her designs but they are not practical for me at all... I don't need more of her cute dresses right now.  But these leggings are wildly practical for me.  No, these are NOT running tights!!!  I think I would start a fire with my healthy sized thighs rubbing together with the heavyweight polyester/spandex scuba knit here if I ran in them.  It's a beefy double knit that's pretty warm.  I don't wear leggings as regular pants in public-- these are for around the house or maybe putting my big, warm, long (read: butt covering) winter coat over to go play in the snow.  You can see the rise is nice and high, all the rear side is covered and sits on my natural waist.

These took me a whopping 40 minutes to sew, even with having to pick out a serged leg seam and re-sewing it (I sewed the wrong seams together, no big woop.)  The special thing here in the design are the "petal" cuffs.  Adorable!  You can flip them up for a short pants look.  And P.S. Don't look too close at my petals... I may have overlapped one of them towards the wrong direction. I'm not here to win the blue ribbon at the state fair.

 I cut a size Large waist and graded up a half size for the hip and below.  I also added 1" (2.5 cm) to the length of the leg since I'm a little taller at 5'8" (1.73 m).  My rear end sits lower then most folks so I did one of my usual alterations of scooping out some of the back leg pattern piece-- you can see that below.

I can't speak for the directions, I didn't need them.  The illustrations are stellar.  Her directions are always great if I remember correctly.  I did look at the directions to see how the waist band/elastic attaches since it's a little different then what I usually do-- those were clear and concise. The waist sits nice, flat and smooth.

I can see making up some running tights with these.  I'd put a secret pocket in the back waist for my keys and what not.  I haven't looked anywhere on the internets at all to see if anyone has sewn these up, too.  Has anyone else?  I haven't read any reviews or commentary by other seamstresses on Seamwork.  Do the people like it?  I think it's a smart marketing idea for Colette to bring in a more predictable stream of capital for their company... plus putting out digital patterns all (most, I know some of you aren't into them) of us are loving now along with quality content.