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.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Burda 6990: Heavyweight Polartec Sweater Knit Top

This Polartec Sweater Knit stuff is really nice.  I picked it up from Mill Yardage a few months ago during a massive clearance they were having (I paid $3/yd for this and loads of other stuff!)  Unfortunately they don't have anymore of this style but this Polartec 300 Sweater Knit/Velour they currently have in stock is likely the same stuff, just in a solid.  My print is called "Rayos Rojos" if you ever come across any elsewhere... likely not since Mill Yardage is the official distributor for Polartec (formerly Malden Mills) if you want yardage (as opposed to bolts of stuff.)  I highly recommend you check them out if you're looking for cold weather activewear materials or fabrics suited for outdoor activities... or if you freeze all winter long and need loads of clothes on even if your indoors like I do.  (This store is the same place I scored that merino powerdry fabric for the same price.)

I used my TNT Burda 6990 pattern, a basic raglan sleeved top-- I chose this pattern as one of my top five patterns of all of 2014, it's that great.  What  can I say about it... it sews up in less then 45 minutes at a very leisurely pace and it's a versatile, very wearable pattern.  I made a size 42 and graded to a 46 hip.

I am so annoyed with my arm/bodice stripe line up.  It's not lined up.  I marked it to line up before cutting.  I have always sucked at getting my lines to line up on raglans so I avoid it.  But the top most striped match on the upper back bodice/sleeve area. So there's that.  The sides of the bodice line up perfectly, so there's that, too.  I'm a winner still!

Now why was this killer knit fabric so economical?!  This one has a slight flaw that I didn't even notice until I compared it to the burgundy version of this from the same order-- the burgundy lacks this flaw.  Right below every other dark red stripe the weaving of the fabric seems to skip a stitch.  You can see it up close in the 'right side' picture.  It makes not difference in sewing or overall quality and actually looks like part of the design of the material.  

I slapped this bad boy together while my husband was putting our little guy to sleep on New Year's Eve, it was that easy and fast.  Then I had a glass of fizzy wine and a load of homemade chex mix.  I love the feel of this sweater, I'm wearing it right now and am all toasty and warm.  Happy New Year everyone! 

Monday, December 29, 2014

My Top Five Sewing Patterns of 2014

I don't really feel like re-posting a long list of my top makes or sewing fails of the year.  You can just browse my gallery and read the posts if you're up for that.  But I really wanted to look at what sewing patterns I REALLY used and really loved for my own purposes.  These are all patterns that yielded some great looking results, I wear a boatload and will make again.  I enjoy sewing functional, normal, everyday stuff, so if folks want fancy frocks and puffy shirts, there ain't any here on this list.  This is all just my humble opinion and nobody asked me to list their stuff on here.  They are in no particular order.

The Marlborough Bra by Orange Lingerie

I've been sewing bras for several years and *thought* Kwik Sew 3300 was THE one for me (it's really a great pattern, though.)  Then Norma Loeher of Orange Lingerie busted out the Marlborough Bra pattern along her book Demystifying Bra Fitting & Construction and I found IT... the perfect everyday bra to sew. After some fitting I was able to get exactly what I was hoping for.  I've made seven Marlboroughs this year and will make hundred and seven more next year, check em all out here is you want and my review of the book here.

Vogue 8884 Coat
Line Art
I love the classic look of the Vogue 8884 coat pattern.  It's not a brand new pattern, it's been around for a few years and was well reviewed time and again.  I used it to sew up a $2200 Burberry inspired black trench coat, it ended up pretty awesome and looks killer on me :)  I've been wanting to sew this pattern up again with a completely different fashion fabric, but that's not happened quite yet.  

The XYT Workout Top by Fehr Trade

I started sewing almost all of my running clothes about three years ago.  A few reasons: Activewear is friggin expensive if I want the good quality stuff; I want a better fit then I can find with RTW; I want to have crazy colors and patterns in my running clothes (why, not?!) I was actually a pattern tester for this one but would have paid every penny for this even if I did not.  I really like the XYT Top.  The directions are are stellar, the fit is actually meant for moving in, not just sitting on my butt watching tv in sheer comfort.  I sewed this top up about five or six times, this one my hands down favorite to wear... I even hacked it and made a dress that I wore innumerable times over the summer.

Burda 6990 Raglan Top

Burda 6990 is officially my 2014 TNT shirt pattern.  It's a simple raglan sleeved shirt pattern that just worked out well for me, not loads to say about it.  There's various neck options.  I want more of them, like NOW!  I am constantly wearing every single version I made.  I even made it into a dress and used it 2013 as a running top.  Here and here are other versions.

Simplicity 2153 Jacket

I've worn my Simplicity 2153 shocking red jacket A LOT.  It too was designer inspired, a Marc Jacobs rain coat I found on the internets.  It's such a rewarding pattern to sew, it's simple to make but yields a great jacket that's functional, flattering and is very RTW looking... I'd bet the farm that no one would ever know it was handmade if they didn't know that I sewed most of my clothes.  This is also a pattern released previous to 2014 but I don't care, I made it in 2014 and have been loving it all year.  I want to make more versions of this one, too. Duh.

So there you go.  Five really solid patterns I sewed up in 2014.  And likely will sew up again and again in 2015.  What are your favorites?!  I want to know for my own selfish reasons.

Okay, okay... here is my biggest sewing fail and my favorite make from this past year--

FAIL: My (Almost) Harem Pants.  They are so ugly and look really bad on me.  They fit properly but... eww, they aren't for me.  But the hilarious thing is this is the 3rd most read post on my blog EVER.  Sort of comical to me.  I think people really liked them or something, but they are a fashion faux pas on me. Giant pants on a pear shaped girl, bad move. I'll never make that pattern as pants again. (But the shorts I made from the same pattern were really great because they didn't overwhelm my figure.)

FAVORITE: My floral Hi-Lo Dress with a funky cutout in back.  It's from Burda Magazine 8/2014 #116.  It's so flouncy and fun to wear.  I made it for my birthday in July but wore it a bunch of times otherwise.  I got so many unexpected compliments from random people when I wore it, which was kinda sweet.  It's not a perfect specimen as far as fit but who cares.

Bring on 2015.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Two Orange Lingerie Marlborough Bras + A Pair of Cloth Habit Watson Undies

Now that I've perfected the fit of my Orange Lingerie Marlborough bra pattern, I am freakishly compelled to make like, a thousand of them.  Here is my history of my sewn Marlboroughs. Plus the laundry blackhole in my house has sucked up my very cute pink Marlborough... I can't find that bra, it's sooo weird.  And I made another pair of Cloth Habit's new Watson Bikini undies. Here's my first pair of those.  Both bras are 38B with my personal alterations (which can be seen on this post.)  The undies are an altered XL.

I used this nylon graphic floral lace.  It has no spandex so I cut the back band on a bias for a tad more stretch.  I hand dyed the lace, elastics, powermesh, tricot lining and hooks in a weak dye bath of brown RIT dye, hot water and vinegar for all of a minute or so.  Although it came out quite pink and less pale brown/beige then I expected, I really like the pale pale pink results.  I took the silver hardware from an old RTW bra for the bra straps.  The button in the center is from my vintage collection, I made a little organza bow to sit under it.

The elastics here are from Lace Heaven (I'm in no way affiliated with them.) The site is a hot mess IMHO and difficult to navigate and find what you want, but with patience I've found loads of plush back elastics that are perfect for lingerie sewing.  Click on the Elastic Trim button on their main page and it will take you to a jumble of elastics in various widths and styles-- but many listed there do not have the plush backing, so note that.  Although the lace I used here was in my stash from elsewhere, there's lots of lace on their site ideal for lingerie sewing.  I have been using a 1/4" stretch lace from them as well to stabilize the top edge of my bra cups, on the inside along the lacey edge.

I used a heavyweight powermesh on the band.  So between the non-spandexy floral lace fashion fabric and this powermesh, the band isn't very stretchy, creating a pretty firm fit.  I lined all the rest of the bra with nylon tricot I had in my stash.  That 1/2" lower band elastic is likely made with polyester so it doesn't take my RIT dye well.  And because there's no spandex in the floral lace, I didn't make a pair of Watson undies to match.  But how cute would that have been?!

Now for Marlborough brassiere numero dos and the matching Watson undies. I used a 4-way stretch nylon/spandex mesh with this crazy fun abstract design.  I lined the cups with two layers of a black tricot.  The tricot has a one way stretch, so I layered it in opposite directions under the mesh to give it a stronger foundation.

I like to spray a temporary fabric adhesive to each layer prior to cutting any patterns pieces so they stick to each other through the whole sewing process.  Machine basting and rumply layers of fabric... no thanks.  I used only on layer of tricot under the mesh for the band allowing it to stretch comfortably while wearing.  This bra is stretchier and has a less firm hold in comparison to the floral one above... but still a comfortable, casual firmness sorta bra I will wear a zillion times.

All the elastics are from Lace Heaven and the purple upper cup lace is from Porcelynne.  It's amazing I can recall where every bit and bob is from.  If there is anything I don't mention ever, just ask and I will tell you exactly where it came from.

Now these undies. The Cloth Habit Watson Bikinis.  They are a breeze to sew.  I made the XL again.  But I reduced the waist down a half size (could go a full size really) and added 5/8" (1.6 cm) height to the rise (could go higher, just for personal taste.)  You can see my muslin here.

I did not line them with anything. Well, I used a scrap of black cotton for the crotch to line. Otherwise... gross!  I put them on display for the neighbors to see just how sheer my fancy new undies are.

I've never used a such a thin, lightweight sort of mesh for lingerie sewing.  I was nervous it was get eaten alive in my sewing machine.  Nope.  Not at all.  I used a ball point needle and my walking foot.  It was fine.

Here's how they fit.  If you wonder how I alter my bra pics to remove the person from them, I just use this very simple web app called Pixlr.  I am way too lazy to get my poorly running Mac out to Photoshop anything ever, so Pixlr Editor is the easy way out.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Cloth Habit Watson Bra + Bikini: Muslin #1-- HUGE Bra & Near Perfect Undies

Watson Bra & Bikini PatternI am a sucker for new lingerie patterns so I had to give Cloth Habit's very first official pattern that's she's selling a try: The Watson Bra & Bikini.  It's a basic bralette and undie set that end up looking really great.  I followed her measurement guidelines since I felt this would produce the most accurate results for my muslins.  Nope, not at all for the bra.  I was suspicious that I'd need to size down before even cutting into the fabric but really wanted to stick with her sizing recommendations at first.  I opted for the longline in View A.  I also whipped up the undies.  I had much more success with the bikinis' sizing as I've had experience with making (and really liking!)  her Rosy LadyShorts (here and here) and assumed she used the same underwear block for these.

For the undies I am in the XL size range.  I made a straight size XL but added on some extra butt coverage.  I had to do this for her Rosy LadyShorts, plus I could tell just by looking at the pattern that I'd need to add some material to cover my full rear end.  You can see in the photo on the right where I added on some extra fabric but maintained the XL sizing.  The red line is the original pattern line.  I found that the rise of these undies are a little short for me and will add maybe an inch (2.5 cm) next go round just for personal preference.  The waist is a tad large so I will have to reduce the it down by half a size as well.

My dark blue fabric is a 4-way stretch nylon spandex. I've used it for a pair or running leggings last year.  The white lace is a firm nylon spandex stretch lace that is a nice stand in for a medium powernet... I've it used numerous times and even dyed for a bunch of bras found here, here, here and here.. and maybe other places, too?  I just traced out the edge of the pattern along the edge of the lace then attached it with a medium zig zag stitch along the lower lace edge.

I only used my regular sewing machine for all the seams, the serger would create unwanted bulk.  I opened the seams on the undies and top-stitched them to make a nice smooth look on the front.   I am not a huge fan of having the exposed seam in the crotch as the pattern directions suggest to do.  I enclosed my seams, and it's way easy. I used the 'burrito method'.  You can find detailed directions on this method with the Fehr Trade Free Lacey Thong Pattern.  That purple elastic is the same elastic on these undies, just dyed in a red RIT dye.

And now for that too big but very cute bra.  I measure 36" (91.5 cm) at my underbust, this dropped me in the size 40 band according to the directions.  I was apprehensive, but I went for it.  I am often a 36 or 38 in RTW depending on the bra.  The Watson pattern guidelines: underbusts between 36-37", use a 40 band.  For comparison, I make a size 38B for the Orange Lingerie Marlborough Bra with an aleration for a shallow bust, a 38A for the Pin Up Girls Classic Full Band Bra and about a 38A for the Kwik Sew 3300 bra pattern.  Yes, the fabric has some good stretch but this is waaaaaaaaaaay to huge. Check out the picture below, the cups are massive and I pulled out the band *very* lightly and got inches extra, this is on the tightest set of hooks.  And those cups are gigantor.

This bra is clearly designed for smaller busted women or for women who need minimal support.  I wasn't expecting loads and loads of support with an non-wired bra, but at least a closer fit in the band.  I may be an A/B cup but I need more support then most A/B gals.  I need my band to be tighter-- like the general rule of thumb: if you need more support, use a tighter band... if you need less support, go up a few inches in the band for a looser fit.

What will I do for my second version of the long line Watson bralette?
-Go down a band size and TWO full cup sizes-- from this 40B to a 38A (a 40B cup is equivalent to a 38C cup)
-Use a firmer cup material OR line with a low stretch fabric
-Use powernet or a firm elastic (like the white stuff I have in front cradle) for the band
-Possibly make a shallow bust adjustment

Also, one thing I noted in the materials list that threw off the sewing of the elastics on my bra-- the need for better clarification on which size plush elastic to use for the underarm and neckline.  In the materials list is states to use 1/4" OR 3/8" plush elastic.  I used 3/8" but only to find out after sewing it on that it should have been 1/4".  It would have been helpful to state that the 3/8" was exclusively for the undies in the steps of the directions during that step.  I see that in the Seam Allowance section prior to step one now, it mentions that the SAs on the neckline/underarm are 1/4"... so be careful with that one!  I shoulda done a little better sleuthing.

Overall, the directions are pretty well written but omit a few items that would be of use (i.e. which elastics to use where, there are no metric measurements and inches are used exclusively, etc.)  The illustrations are fantastic.  I followed all of her suggestions for zig zag stitch sizes just for the sake of using and following a new pattern (she does a nice job of telling you what stitch where and when and the size) but I have personal preferences for certain stitches and sizes of them and will likely use my own ideas next go round.  I was a stickler for switching out my threads CONSTANTLY making sure to use white where white materials were used and dark navy where the blue material is... didn't want the contrast stitching.  I sewed this all up quickly, overall not much of a challenge as far as what sewing skills are needed.  I would like to get the right size/fit because I want a comfy, easy to wear non-wired bra.  I always wear underwires (I LOVE my Marlborough. LOVE!)  I think this is a nice pattern with lots of potential for loads of styles/prints/colors.  Plus, if your a bikini wearing type for you swimsuits... this could be a great pattern to use if you added some of those soft padded cups for nippulur modesty.  Alright then, onward!