Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Majestic Moose

Hello, after months of slight problems with technology and being busy with school, finally I have something to share!  And as a bonus it’s a twofer of sewing and knitting.

First of all I just want to say that I would never call myself a fast knitter but Andi Satterlund’s Majestic Moose vest knit up very quick!  Like I had grand delusional plans on December 14th that I had to have one for THIS Christmas.  I know we’re talking serious crazy here considering I had plans to make a few presents and still had fabric to choose.  Actually I had bought all the various yarn colors for the moose head during Knit Picks Thanksgiving sale which many people must have taken advantage of because it took much longer than usual to ship.  Still, considering some of the great yarn deals that were offered it’s not much of a surprise.
Malls have great backgrounds this time of year!
Never having done intarsia before I decided to knit the vest in the round and then add the moose by duplicate stitch.  This ended up being a very good idea and avoided me having to curse a blue streak later on.  Plus I figured my embroidery knowledge would help make this a much speedier project and I basically had no room for delays.
In a couple days I had the body done and was starting in on the duplicate stitching.  I had the face done and was starting in on the left antler(?) when I realized I was getting dangerous close to the end of my knitting and still had a fair amount of duplicate stitching to do.  After a quick count and then several slower recounts I realized that a fair bit of the design was going to be cut off.  I went through all the other projects on Ravelry and nobody else had this problem but I also couldn’t find another XS.  Wanting to do it right I took all the stitching out restarted 4 rows lower.  All the while I thanked my lucky stars I didn’t decide to try my hand with intarsia on this project.
This is when I discovered my problem
The second time around the duplicate stitching went much better – I think in the very beginning on version one I was stitching a bit too tight.  I still didn’t get all the stitches on the left hand side on, I think I’m missing 3-4 but I didn’t want the moose to be too low on my chest.  And I like to think it’s only visible if you stare at the pattern and then look very closely at the vest – something you shouldn’t be doing while I’m wearing it!
Overall I’m very excited with how the vest turned out!  Even better, I finished within my slightly unreasonable timeline.  It’s warm and cozy without being too bulky and the moose head makes me smile when I see it.  I like that it’s festive and cold weather fun without being totally Christmassy.   This way I can wear it throughout winter without being the fashion equivalent of that house still decorated for Christmas in February.  And I’m really looking forward to wearing it a lot during the next couple months!
I’m also wearing my second pair of Megan Nielsen's Tania culottes, this time a more all season version.  I used my same graded down pattern as last time but this time used the XL length.  I used a navy silk noil which I thought would make it a bit more casual but the nubby texture would make it a bit interesting.  I slipstitched the waistband facing and totally forgot until they were hemmed about interfacing the fabric before inserting the zipper.  Not that it gave me any problems.  In fact, this fabric was extremely low maintenance.  I hung them up to allow the hem to drop but the next day when I went to even it out I realized I didn’t have to. 
The hem that didn't drop
Surprisingly the hem didn’t distort at all and was just as even as they had been while lying out on my cutting/sewing table.  Talk about a very pleasant surprise!  The fabric was too thick to use my narrow hem foot so I serged the edge and used that to help evenly press the hem.  The actual hemming went quickly and afterwards looked just as even.  To be honest over the past few weeks I’ve kinda expected the hem to go all wonky on me but it hasn’t.  So sometimes you get lucky with circular hems.
In a perfect world I would’ve worn this with a shirt I’ve made as well, but that hasn’t quite made it to the top of my To Do list yet.  I’m very happy with both of these makes separately and love how well they go together.  The vest is probably the first piece of winter clothing that I’ve actually gotten very excited about as I greatly favor my summer clothes.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Dos Plantains

My computer and camera seem to be having an on and off friendship lately and this was written when they definitely weren't speaking.  And we all know that a sewing blog + no pictures = no bueno.  The good news is that they've recently kissed and made up so yea photos!
I seem to be on a knits kick right now – with the exception of my most recent make, it’s been all knits all the time.  This time I’ve made Deer & Doe’s Plantain which is another free pattern.  Considering I seem to be a bit obsessed with this pattern line, there was no way I could skip this one.  Deer & Doe’s first PDF pattern, it includes options for short, ¾ or long sleeves plus super cute elbow patches.  Lucky you, this is a twofer post so you get to see how it looks in different fabrics.

I made my first version was way back from April or May and used a super drapey rayon jersey.  Not gonna lie, this was a pain to cut as the pattern is printed slightly off grain.  I debated which was more important, staying on grain or keeping the pattern lined up and figured it was a draw.  So I did a little bit of both and hoped for the best.  I.e. minimum twisting. I’m really glad my plan from the beginning was for short sleeves to avoid any awkward arm twisting.  Not 100% satisfied with my neck binding, but not enough to have another go at it.
The good news is that so far I haven’t noticed any twisting!  Even after going through the laundry several times!  At some point I do want to make another and not have to compromise on the grain situation.  If nothing else it’ll be more enjoyable to cut and make.
Version #2 is my more recent sporty version.  This time I went with a navy and white striped cotton/poly blend.  I know, poly… but I loved the stripe and chose to overlook its synthetic sins.  FYI, most of the poly seems s to be located in the white stripes.  I used more of my hoarded saved interlock scraps for the elbow patches on the ¾ length sleeves. 
A quick word on those elbow patches, the pattern is genius and shows the perfect placement.  Don’t be thrown off on the off-center pattern placement and pretend you know better.  As drafted they will fall smack dab over your elbows, although depending on arm length they may need to be adjusted up or down a bit.  I used a straight stitch to attach them and then ended up going back with a narrow zigzag right along the edge.

Initially I cut my band on the crossgrain but this jersey doesn’t have much stretch and it didn’t look that great.  Plus it didn’t look like I used a consistent stitching line.  So I ripped out the serging and debated if I could get a better result with a second try.  After deciding that was doubtful based on the fabric’s lack of stretch I remembered by previously mentioned interlock scraps that I used for the elbow patches would work perfectly.  After all, what is interlock other than baby ribbing?  So I recut the binding out of the interlock and attached it.  So if you ever have need ribbing and can’t find it in the right color, check out the interlocks.  As a bonus they tend to be softer than a lot of the interlocks I’ve come across.
Check out that smooth curve!
The result is sooooooo much better!  Even before any pressing it behaved and stayed nice and flat.  To keep up some consistency I trimmed some length off the sleeves and cut some bands out of the interlock.  I used the same measurement as the pattern piece but should’ve reduced the band length a bit.
I top stitched both neck and sleeves using navy thread with a wide stitch length and added this to my pile of shirts that needed the double needle treatment.  Which meant I got on a roll using white thread on two other shirts and forgot to switch to navy when hemming this one.  *sigh*

All in all I like both versions despite them coming out differently. This has a fair amount to do with the pattern as fleece is given as an option to use although it’s suggested you size up. While I don’t see myself succumbing to the siren song of the fleece half of most chain fabric stores I can totally see this in a cozy sweater knit come winter.  If you’re new to knits or want to see what all the hype about Deer & Doe is about, the Plantain is a great introduction.  Plus I’m a fan of plantains and am now craving some plantain tostones.

P.S. Those are navy Grainline Maritime shorts I'm wearing with the stripes and will be covered in the next post!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Striped Kirsten Kimono Tee

Totally late to the Maria Denmark party is still better than never, right?  This is the Kirsten Kimono Tee, Maria Denmark’s first pattern and it’s a freebie to boot!  Easy to make and easy to wear it makes a great wardrobe staple.

Sometimes being a lazy seamstress pays off.  I had downloaded this pattern seemingly forever ago, printed & taped it together.  But I never traced it.  Fast forward to a version 7(!) being released that made me much happier.  (Downloaded not as quite forever ago!)  Now there are 8 sizes and they’re laid out with each size being a different color.  Oh yeah, I printed it out on legal sized paper as I worried last time little bits were cut off when using letter sized.  This time around I immediately traced and added seam allowances.

Now let’s talk fabric!  I had originally ordered this to make my mom a nightgown for Christmas.  Only it didn’t fit right so I debated adding side panels before realizing I had enough to recut.  Which was great as I realized that it would drive me batty trying to match the stripes across the solid inset.  Yeah, I think about those kinds of things.  Good thing stripes don’t have a top or bottom as I was able to flip the old nightgown upside down and squeeze out this tee.  So yea for not wasting fabric!  To give it some interest I cut the neckband so the stripes went in the opposite direction.
Since it’s just two pieces and a neckband the construction goes super quick and was mostly done on my serger.  I used clear elastic on the shoulder seams just in case and out of habit, although it isn’t mentioned in the directions.  I did baste the side seams together using my walking foot to be extra sure all my stripes lined up.  Then it was just a couple more trips through the serger and the double needle treatment and bam!  I had a brand new shirt.

I guess I really want you to check out my stripes
This was actually a test version as I have some parrot burnout jersey this would be perfect in.  A kimono top can be the ideal pattern for fabric with a design you don’t want to break up with things like extra seams.  I’ve worn this tee several times since making it and really like the fit.  Next time around I won’t change a thing. Although at some point I might attempt a long sleeved version.   To sum things up, if you haven’t tried the goodness that is a Maria Denmark pattern, this is a great introduction.  Now to try out the other patterns of hers I have waiting...

Monday, June 30, 2014

Mission Not a Maxi

Ok, right off the bat I must come clean and say there’s no maxi in this post.  If that’s cool with you than keep reading, otherwise I suggest you check out one of the hundreds of true maxis out there in the internet.
Moving on!  This is Jamie Christina’s Mission Maxi dress that is much beloved out there in home sewing land. Gillian of Crafting a Rainbow even dedicated an entire week of Me Made May 2014 to it.   I’ve had this in my pattern stash for a while and now that the temperatures are heating up I figured it was a good time to try it out.
I started off with the tank version to check out how it fits.  I used some leftover turquoise wicking mesh thinking it would make a nice running tank.  I made this mostly on my serger except for topstitching the bands on my regular sewing machine with a longer stitch length.  Not my best topstitching, but close enough for a wearable muslin most likely to be regulated to workout gear.  And I couldn’t be bothered to break out my double needle to properly hem it.
Always important to crop booty shorts when Seattle pale!
As is I think it fits pretty well, no obvious pulls, bagginess or tightness.  I wore it around the house to make sure it was comfortable and traced out the maxi length on the pattern.  Someday hopefully soon I’ll actually get around to the maxi length.
I had a yard of this orange printed interlock I got last winter when I bought some jersey online for my Mom’s Christmas gift.  It was one of those times when you love a fabric online but are a bit disappointed when you see it in person.  I knew it didn’t have much stretch (15%) but the printed design was super stiff and cheap feeling – even after prewashing it didn’t feel much different.  I knew it wouldn’t work for the top I intended it for and so it sat in limbo in my stash.  This was a real shame because I really loved the print.  On a whim I pulled it out and decided I’d try it out knowing I wouldn’t be heartbroken if it didn’t work.
Ignore the bra strap - I forgot my convertible
I laid out my pattern pieces and cut them out, preserving as much length as possible.  I moved the pattern piece up and used the curved bottom edge to cut the hem.  The stiffness of the fabric made me doubt it would fold nicely for the binding when I remembered my royal blue Renfrew.  I held the Renfrew next to the orange print and discovered that it matched the blue leaves exactly.  I dug through my knits scrap bag and pulled out what little royal blue interlock I had left.  I just used my rotatory cutter and clear ruler and cut strips as long as I possibly could, counting on the stretch to make up the difference.
Finally!  A good reason to hoard hold onto those little knit scraps that I couldn’t even cut a pair of underwear out of.  Although now that I think of it I could probably cut some Plantain elbow patches out of them too…
This time around I used my sewing machine to sew the shoulder seams instead of my serger.  Last time when topstitching the binding, it got a little fiddly going over that serged seam. By sewing it I was able to press the seam open and that made everything much flatter to sew over.  I also sewed the shoulder and side seams before attaching the binding in the round.  I even went so far as to switch from white to blue serger thread before working on the binding.  I realized I was out of matching blue thread until I pulled out the spools that came with my serger.  Maybe not the strongest thread, but it worked pretty well for topstitching the binding.  Then it was over to the ironing board to blast the binding with steam to tighten everything up.
I did a lot of thinking before deciding on what thread color to hem the dress with.  I tried the blue I used for topstitching and white on a scrap but wasn’t really thrilled with either one.  That’s when I remembered I had a spool of orange thread originally used for topstitching a bag I made years ago.  I recently used it to attach binding to a baby blanket so I had a bobbin filled up and everything.  I used a twin needle for the hem and the thread blended in perfectly with all of the oranges.
I bet you can’t tell which side I redid!
I immediately tried my new finished dress on and discovered that somehow it had magically softened up some more and didn’t seem so stiff anymore.  Maybe it was the steam…  I did notice that it stuck out a bit by the arms which I didn’t notice with my tank.  At first I thought I hadn’t stretched the arm binding enough so took the time and effort to rip out the topstitching and serging.  I took two inches out off, reattached and topstitched it.  After trying it on again, I really didn’t notice much difference so I haven’t bothered to do the other side yet.  I’m blaming the lack of stretch in the knit.
In the end I’m really pleased how this dress turned out, especially since I had low expectations.  I got a lot of comments on it when I wore it on the last day of Me Made May.  As a bonus I have the option of wearing it with the matching Renfrew for a separates look.  Plus the thicker interlock does wonders for avoiding VPL.  I can see making more of these to wear this summer as the go together so quickly and don’t take much fabric at all.  In fact, I’m even planning on conquering my irrational suspicion of maxi dresses and making the pattern as originally intended. I just need to figure out what shoes to wear with it.  My initial thought is platform sandals but maybe flats/sandals would be more practical?  What type of shoes are you supposed to wear with maxis?

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Me Made May Week 5 & Wrap Up

Whew!  Another Me-Made-May is over and done with.  I hope everyone had as enjoyable a month as I have.  Seattle had some great weather which allowed me to wear more of my summer clothes which I definitely prefer in both my me-mades and RTW.  First up is my final week of outfits.

 Day 26
It’s Memorial Day and I was feeling patriotic so my seersucker Crescent seemed appropriate.  It was a little too warm for my red ¾ sleeved Renfrew so I went with an old red tee I’ve had forever.  As a bonus it was a lot easier to tuck in and show off the shaped waist of the skirt.

Day 27
Sewaholic Alma
Last summer on the Anthropologie website I saw a yellow top paired with jean shorts & a floral statement necklace.  It immediately reminded me of my yellow eyelet Alma and this similar necklace I really liked but didn’t wear too often.  This is also the top that started me wearing yellow again.  (I was so glad I took this picture in front of this rhododendron bush because just a few days later about half the flowers had fallen off)

Day 28
Today was another cool day that caused me to dip into my cold weather wardrobe.  Despite really liking this top I hope this will be the last time I wear it until fall.  This is one of those fabrics that made me ignore fiber content – I loved the navy & green wide stripes with silver threads separating them so much that I ignored that it’s 98% poly.

Day 29
Deer & Doe Chardon
I normally don’t wear a lot of black and sew even less but I really like this skirt.  I think it’s because despite being a black chambray, the white cross-threads makes it appear grey.  I have a couple of Andi Satterlund’s cropped sweaters planned that will be perfect to pair with this skirt come fall.  Assuming of course, that they’re done in time!

Day 30
This was one of those makes that after wearing it I immediately wanted to wear it again.  Always a good sign for my closet, but not so great for my pledge this year.  I managed to restrain myself until today and see this getting a lot of wear this summer.

Day 31
Sewaholic Renfrew & Jamie Christina Mission Maxi
Finally the weather warmed up enough to wear my latest dress!  In my mind a bright orange print requires lots of sunshine and high temperatures, or at least Seattle high, to be worn.  But when headed off to class in the morning I wasn’t sure how the day would turn out so I threw a Renfrew over it.  Briefly during the afternoon the dress was perfect on its own but I was glad to have the tee for most of the day.

Overall I’d call Me-Made-May 2014 a success.  In fact during the first few days of June I automatically went for me mades while getting dressed.  Sure, I had to check photos a couple times to check I didn’t wear the exact same thing twice but there were also some past favorites that didn’t get to come out and play.  Sometimes it just comes down to what’s newest and shiniest.  As for my hope to finish a couple pairs of jeans… that’s what Jeans June & July is for.  I did get work done on my Jamie’s but got ahead of myself and topstitched when I should have basted to check for fit. I debated including a photo but I fear there’s too much excess fabric in the crotch for the internet.

Separates & Jeans
Last year I felt I needed more non-Renfrew tops and I think over the last year I improved that.  I would like to continue in this direction.  That said when wearing separates they were usually paired with RTW.  Despite being pretty satisfied with my RTW jeans, I want to make finish some of my own.  Some of the pairs I have are pretty old and those styles stopped being made years ago. During my last duplication class at school I copied a pair but I’m not sure if I’ll get around to making/finishing three pairs in June and July!
Deer & Doe & Indies
Last year I wore lots of Sewaholic so it made sense that those were the patterns I wore most this year - 13 times.  The #2 pattern company did surprise me as I only tried a Deer & Doe pattern last fall and yet wore one 10 times this month.  Clearly I’ve found another favorite!  In general I seem to wear more indie patterns than the Big 4, partially because I find those are the patterns I tend to make (or plan to make) multiples of.  I guess it’s my way of justifying the higher cost compared to the 99¢ sales at the big box stores. 
In general I’m happy to see that I wear a high percentage of what I make which when it all boils down spells out success.  I didn’t include any me-made PJs this year because they’d be my most worn garments and would totally skew any results.  It’s been a long time since I’ve bought any RTW and haven’t felt like I’m missing out.  (The only exception was my much loved Seattle Seahawks Super Bowl Championship locker room tee.  Not exactly something I could make on my own or as a proud member of the 12th Man miss out on!)  That’s not to say I don’t wear RTW anymore, I just have really high standards and often run in to problems with things fitting correctly.  All reasons why I started sewing my own clothes in the first place!  I hope everyone achieved their goals for the month and got tons of inspiration for future makes, I know I did!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Daisy Chain Sureau

This is my second version of Deer & Doe’s Sureau dress and I’m completely smitten.  In fact I’ve got version three planned out already!  The only dilemma is if I’ll let it jump ahead on my sewing list…
Since its spring I thought short sleeves and a fuller skirt would be more seasonally appropriate. To increase the skirt fullness all I did lay the skirt pattern piece on my massive roll of butcher paper, trace off the side edge and use the width of the paper.
My biggest adjustments were to the bodice.  I finally wised up and raised the armsyce ¼ inch.  On both my Bleuets they’ve felt a bit low and despite not noticing it as much on Sureau #1 I think that was more a matter of flannel having some give.  I went with ¼ inch to avoid over correcting and after wearing it feels pretty good.  I also adjusted the sleeves the same amount in addition to shortening them.  Oh, and I took a ½ inch out of the bodice center back.  Sometimes tiny adjustments like these make all the difference.

Originally I intended to line the dress due to the sheerness of the cotton lawn and actually cut the pieces out before deciding not to.  I used a white cotton but the more I handled it the more I became it was too thick compared to the lightness of the lawn.  It was in the evening and all the fabric stores where closed and I wasn’t sure I’d be able to find the correct weight so I decided to skip it.  I really, really didn’t want to wait until the next morning and after standing in front of the mirror holding up the fabric I felt it was just opaque enough.
 Funnily enough Oona posted about her unlined voile pants around the same time I was making this dress.  So there must be something in the water that’s causing sewers to throw caution to the wind from coast to coast.  #nolinings

I did add a few extra steps which I felt added up to a better dress.  I stay stitched the neckline and fused very, lightweight interfacing to the facing. The neckline on my flannel version didn’t sit completely flat until I went back and sandwiched some fusible tape between the dress and facing.  I also under stitched the neckline out of habit.  I felt the placket needed the extra stabilization so I interfaced it in addition to topstitching it.  The only downside to this is that the fabric is sheer enough that you can tell what was interfaced while the dress is on my dress form.  But I think it’s less noticeable when I’m wearing the dress.
Like usual I set my sleeves in flat and tried it on before sewing up the side seams to determine what I wanted my final sleeve length to be.  With a few quick slices of my rotary cutter (after carefully lining up my clear plastic ruler) and I was good.  Oh yeah, I also added two thin strips of interfacing along the side where the zipper would be inserted.  This helped the invisible zipper go in almost perfectly.  I wasn’t convinced it was worth going back and trying to fix something off less than 1/16”.
 Since the placket and neckline were topstitched I simply machine hemmed the skirt.  This was quick and easy and let me finish up quicker so I could get down to the business of wearing it the next morning!  I actually found the perfect lime green flower buttons but ended up not including them.  The dress already had a lot going on and I didn’t want the buttons to be overkill.

I started off this post saying how much I love this dress and I really do.  Like it’s the type of garment I want to mentally think of who I’m going to see in a day so I can keep wearing it without it being too obvious.  Sadly this scheme is ruined by Me Made May and daily outfit photos.  But once June rolls along all bets are off!  Actually, by the end of writing this post I’ve decided that as soon as I find appropriate lining (#3 will be lined) I will let it skip ahead to the top of my “to sew” list.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Me Made May Week 4

Wow!  I can't believe the month is almost over and we’re heading into the home stretch!  I have yet to feel the stress of figuring out what to wear that’s new and somewhat exciting.  In fact I’ve still got a few new makes I’m hoping to bust out for the first time this month.  Here’s what I’ve been wearing this week.

Day 19
My two favorite things about this dress are all the topstitching and being able to rip it off thanks to the pearl snaps.  This is also the make that introduced me to the awesomeness that is Deer & Doe.  A denim dress is a great basic and because it’s lightweight denim it can be worn year round.

Day 20
Simplicity 2863 (Built by Wendy)
Looking back this is the exact same outfit I wore last year on MMM13 Day 19!  And being completely honest I’m not sure how many (or how few) times I wore this dress in between but it was most likely exactly like this.  I firmly believe that when you can wear polka dot shoes, then you find an outfit that goes with polka dot shoes.

Day 21
Sewaholic Pendrell
Looks like Friday’s polka dot parade has started early between yesterday’s shoes and today’s Pendrell.  If only this top wasn’t polyester but at the time I made it my area seemed to be going through a natural fibers polka dot drought.  Luckily that has since ended.  Every time I wear this I wonder why I don’t war it more and then remember about the poly.  I really should get around to making another in a fabric I actually like wearing.

Day 22
Jamie Christina Mission Maxi Tank
I made this tank to test out the fit of Jamie Christina’s Mission Maxi pattern.  Feeling lazy, I didn’t hem it although I did serge the bottom edge.  Sometimes taking out that twin needle seems like so much effort.  It’s wicking fabric so I can see wearing this on runs.  Everything seemed good so during the evening I whipped up a dress version.  And yes, I did properly hem the dress.

Day 23
Megan Nielsen Tania culottes
It’s polka dot parade day!  Naturally my Tania culottes were the obvious choice although I went back and forth on what to wear with them.  The weather was iffy on temperature so I tried them with tights and discovered that I’ll be able to rock these babies into the fall!  But I decided to be optimistic and went with lilac & hot pink cowboy boots.  Like you do.  And I figured this slightly cropped t-shirt would be the perfect length for the Tanias.

Day 24
Sewaholic Renfrew
The easy way to make jeans and a t-shirt into a proper “outfit” is to add matching shoes.  This was the perfect outfit to wear while running a few errands and wondering if it was going to rain.

Day 25
Clearly this is the weekend of purple.  While very similar to how I styled this Datura earlier in the month, my jeans and flats are different

As for the hope of working on pants this month… they’ve been put on the back burner.  As the days get longer I tend to wear dresses more so they’ve been at the front of my mind.  That and polka dots.  Add the fact that I feel the RTW jeans I have fit pretty well, even if some of them are getting kinda old.  I actually spent Sunday working on Named Jamie jeans but they need more work to get rid of some majorly unsightly excess fabric.  And more topstitching thread.