Sewing

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Seamwork Gabrielle princess line skater dress with tie back
Seamwork Gabrielle, I feel pretty!

My sewing has been so inconsistent lately. My sewing energy was nonexistent for a while and I'm only lately having the energy and focus to even try sewing. When I saw the Gabrielle dress, I knew I had to have one! I searched for purple ponte and found a lovely rose print from Fabric.com.  I sometimes still feel like I'm only so-so on buying fabric online and loving it, but this one was a win! It's a great weight-heavy like ponte should be-and not too pricey.

After cutting it out, it sat for a while because my serger was down and out. Actually, it's been down and out for a while, but I didn't want to face the music and deal with it. This month, in addition to finally wanting to sew again, we had the extra money, so I took it in to the shop. It would have cost almost what I originally bought it for to have it fixed, so, instead, I traded it in for a new one! It's a Husqvarna Viking machine and I love it. It was quite a bit more pricey than my first one, but hopefully that means this one will have a longer life. (My old one was only 3 years old.)

Getting my new machine set up and running didn't take very long (I even re-threaded it, with no problems!). The dress was an easy sew. I'm not sure how long I actually spend on it, because I sewed a little bit at a time on this.  Sometimes I'd only sewing a couple seams before calling it a night. Even with my slow pace, it came together fairly quickly. Since I didn't force it, I felt good the entire time, no burn out. Feels good!!

201706Gabriella-3

On a side note, I thought I'd be smart and buy less fabric than it called for, but then I ran out. Fortunately, I was able to squeeze it out by only lining the tie portion of the back tie piece instead of the whole thing. And I thought I was so smart.... oh well, live and learn and buy the right amount of fabric!

I cut out a XL (my measurements are 47.5"/41.5"/47") with approximately a 1" FBA. That makes it sound fancier than it was; I gave myself extra seam allowance at the bust and free-handed more width at the princess line bust point. Overall, it turned out a little large. I took out nearly an inch out of both sides seams and I still had to stitch down the top back tie piece to keep my bra from showing. I would definitely go down a size if I made it again, but keep the free-handed FBA.

Those familiar with the pattern may notice that this is a sleeveless version. I would like to pretend that was a thought-out and brilliant plan, but actually, I was tired and forgot them. Yep, I forgot to put in the sleeves. Instead, I hemmed the armholes. When I realized what I'd done, I figured I could go back and put them in if I want, but just wanted to be done. For now, I'm kind of liking it sleeveless.

Seamwork Gabrielle, side view

The tie detailing on the back is fun!
The tie detailing on the back is fun!

 

Pink Linen Nantucket

These shorts make me so happy! If you'd asked me if I wanted a pair of pink shorts before I laid eyes on this fabric, I would have said no. But little did I know that I needed them. Truly, needed.

The fabric claimed it was linen (bought from the late Hancock Fabrics), but it wrinkles so little, I suspect it's a linen/poly blend. It's also lightweight and slightly see-through, so I will have to be conscious of undergarment choice. Other than that, it's perfect for summer shorts!

Pink Linen Nantucket - Back

The pattern is Seamwork's (referral link) Nantucket. It was a really quick sew and only a couple minor alterations. I raised the front and back crotch slightly as well as adding overall length, starting from a 16.

I also have a personal distaste of drawstrings. So, I altered the waistband to be flat in the front and gathered in the back. This worked beautifully with one exception.

When I sewed in the elastic on the back, I wanted the sewing to look like ready-to-wear. I zigzagged over the elastic to try to get it closer to that look. However, it stretched out the elastic really bad when I did, so now the waist band is slightly too large.

In addition, I should have taken some waist width out to account for the flat front, so it's all a little too loose. I'll have to take it in soon, as it tends to fall down to underwear showing levels.

Pink Linen Nantucket - Front waistband

Pink Linen Nantucket - Back waistband

Now, I have a fun pair of cool short to wear and they please my inner child. Fun in the sun!

Pink Linen Nantucket

 

PS: I finished these shorts just in time for the last heat wave to break. Isn't that just the way? By break, of course I mean that it's now mid- to upper-80's. Still summer and all of August left to go.

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I was digging through my stash and when I came across this fabric from who knows how long ago. I thought, there's enough here to muslin the Adelaide! I liked the blue roses and it seemed like a summery dress, what could go wrong....?

Blue Rose Seamwork Adelaide - Fabric

After looking at it a bit, I realized it would be too sheer to wear as is, so I decided to line it. No big deal. Since it's sleeveless, I would need to find a way to line it that would clean finish. No big deal.

Well, you know how it goes. First, the clean finish method I found worked like a charm, but because of the narrow straps took me nearly an hour to get the pieces turned through. An hour. This was after several hours of adjustments and muslining (probably not a word, but you know what I mean). *sigh*

So after fiddling with fit and fabric and finally getting it all sewing, then it sat for awhile as I couldn't find all the parts to my snap installer thingy. Finally, after way to long, I got this wrapped up.

Blue Rose Seamwork Adelaide - Front View

Overall, the fit of this dress is pretty good. I give it B- in fit. For quality of construction I give it A-. But for fabric selection I give it C or maybe D. I feel like I'm clothed in drapery. This didn't occur to me until the first time I tried it on, so I don't know what I would have done differently.

This pattern was the first pattern I'd done an FBA on that didn't have a waist seam. I followed the Curvy Sewing Collective instructions here and got the front piece done, no problem. Then, when i tried to true it up to the back, it was all kinds of wonky. I knew it would pull really bad from the apex to the waist and it did. I split the difference between the pieces in half and added it to the back piece to get it lined up better. There's still some pulling, but it masquerades as needing more FBA room, which I don't think is true. (You can kind of see it in the above picture.) I'll keep practicing with this and see if I can figure out more of what I did wrong.

Blue Rose Seamwork Adelaide - Back view

This doesn't wear all that comfortably. The snaps need to be closer together on me, so it gapes funny. It's nice for around the house or quick errands, but it's not good for any place I'll be sitting.

Blue Rose Seamwork Adelaide - Side view

 

I'm not actually sure I'll make this again. I don't love how it fits on me and and I don't feel particularly awesome in it. It's OK and it's good to have a quick make (now that I got through this round) summer dress in my arsenal, but it won't be a go-to pattern.

Construction and Fit Notes

  • Cut size 16
  • 1.5" FBA
  • Graded out at waist a smidge (technical term)
  • Shortened 3/4" at back shoulder
  • Shortened by 2"
  • Added pockets
  • Sewed side seams above pocket at 1/2"
  • Sewed the bottom seam of the waist tie at 3/8"
  • Sewed the armhole seams (for clean finish) at 3/8" to make more room for turning (I might always do this as it's just wide enough to cover my bra straps as it is.)

Things I'll Do Different

  • Add more snaps. Due to all my fit fiddling, the snap marks weren't right anymore. I evened them out, but in the future, I'll add more. I might even go as close together as 4" and then add as many as I need to get down to the bottom. It gapes weird now.
  • Raise the darts up 1.5" or so
  • Remember to sew the side seam at 1/2" BEFORE putting the pockets in.
  • I'm on the fence about the length. I shorten things by 2" by default as that's a good start. I like the length when looking at the front, but the back seems kind of short to me. Next time I may add some length back in.
  • Sew the tie all at 3/8" seam. It seemed awfully narrow compared to the pictures at 5/8". I only didn't sew the whole thing that way because I was too lazy to pick all the stitches back out. 😀
  • There's weird bunching where the bottom of the pocket meets the seam. Not sure why or if my pocket piece

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Happy Blog Birthday to me! One year ago I posted about a top that I love and wear often. I only posted a small percentage of all the things I made in the last year, but I love all the things that I posted and the things that I didn't. Here's to another year of beautiful makes!

Tropical Pink Hayden

This is an awesome finish that's way high up my favorites list. I love the fabric (rayon) and the print. As much as I like it, it's not on my all time favorite makes because the fit isn't quite right. I made quite a few adjustments, so even though it isn't perfect, it's pretty good.

  • Shortened the bodice by 3"
  • Took 3/4" out of back shoulder line, adjusted neckline and sleeve head to account for that
  • 1/5" FBA and adjusted front band to account for that
  • 1/2" swayback (I probably won't do this in the future)

Tropical Pink Hayden

I need to make a couple of changes to the front still. I did a 1.5" FBA on the side princess line piece and only took out .75" back out at the waist. I think I need to take a little more out of the princess line seams. The neckline is still a little weird. One recommendation from another sewing friend (thanks, Sarah!) is to take a 1/4-1/2" from the front shoulder line. Since I will probably be making this again, I might play around with that.

Tropical Pink Hayden - Back

The back isn't my favorite as it's not as flattering, but I think I could make it better with a few fitting tweaks.

Tropical Pink Hayden - Back Closure

I didn't have a button that I liked for the closure, so I tried using a hook and eye. Bad idea. Technically, it works. However, the neckline doesn't sit correctly as it needs a little bit of the gap the button closure provides. In addition, if the tension gets off the hook and eye pops open. One of these days, I'll fix it and add the button. You know, as soon as I have time. Ha!

Overall, a comfortable shirt that will be getting a lot of wear and a great pattern that I will be glad to make again.

This Christmas I did a lot of sewing, mostly bags. Due to working on these At. The. Last. Minute, I don't have pictures of most of them. Bad blogger, I know.

I used two patterns and made them twice and then I hacked one of those for a third bag. The patterns I used were both by Noodlehead, the 241 Tote and the Sidekick tote. I modified the Sidekick for the third bag. I gave the modified bag to my mom, so I'll see if she'll let me take pictures of it. :)

This is the 241 Tote using jewel tone brocade and brown suede. Quite classy, if you ask me.

241 Tote
241 Tote

Construction was straight forward, but those curved pockets were kind of a trick. I like to interline my bags with duck and interface my outside fabric, which makes for a little bit of a thick bag. Took some manhandling to get it all lined up, but the finished product was worth it!

241 Tote - Pocket Details
I added bias strips to the edge of the pockets to help give cleaner lines to my busy brocade fabric.
241 Tote - Inside Details
241 Tote closes with a snap and has a patch pocket inside.

This is the Sidekick Tote in the same fabrics.

Sidekick Tote
Sidekick Tote

This bag is a breeze to make up. No tricky seams or anything like that. I didn't bias bind the pocket which I kind of wish I had. It wouldn't have looked much different, but I think it would have been cleaner.

Sidekick Tote - Outside Pocket Detail
Sidekick Tote, pleated front pocket detail.
Sidekick Tote - Inside Details
Sidekick Tote closes with a zip and has a patch pocket on the inside.

For the other two, I made them in solid colors, red, yellow and blue and gave them to my two sister-in-laws, both of whom are big KU fans.

So there you go. One short post that doesn't even begin to feel like it covers the work and the love that went into these bags. I guess that's just a part of the crafting process, right? :)

Alos, here's an outtake moment from my photo shoot as my little helper was constantly trying to be in the pictures too. Wouldn't have it any other way, though!

My Little Helper
My Little Helper

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Button Down Shirt
Completed and actually fitting button down shirt!

This pattern is from the Craftsy class One Pattern, Many Looks: Blouses. It's a Craftsy only pattern, M6649, but it's a basic button down shirt. I started with view C, left off the sleeves and pockets (I've never understood boob pockets, we're not guys, c'mon).  I am doing the first step which is to get the base pattern to fit nicely. It's a only mentioned briefly in the class, but it's taken me forever to get it right. The first half of that forever was just talking myself into it once I saw how bad the fit of the pattern was. The second half felt like forever but was actually just 5 muslins later. Could have been better, could have been worse.

I started with the D cup base, but ended up increasing the dart by about .5" and then splitting it into two. Even with that it was kind of pointy, so I've sewed them as very curvy darts. I shorted the back by over an 1.5" as well. Seems like that shouldn't have taken so many tries to get it right, but I just kept shortening and shortening.... guess I could have measured better or something. Also, the darts where super finicky and didn't want to stop being so pointy.

Button Down Shirt Darts
See the double darts (for DD! teehee!)

The sleeves felt like clown sleeves. Since I had enough fiddly work with trying to get the main bodice to fit, I decided to go sleeveless with it and work out the sleeves later. This fabric (free from my mom-in-law!) was super light weight, so I thought it would make sense for a lightweight summer shirt. I finished the armholes with bias tape.

Sounds good, so far, right? Well, let me add to this one drama moment (really, it was more of a d'oh! why????? moment, but drama sounds less .... stupid).

In order to get the bias tape binding on the arm holes to lie nicely, I was trimming the seam allowance down. I bet you can now see where this is going. Yep, I chopped right into the shirt itself. Ugh.

Sleeve Snip
Oops! Too much snipping

I'd been clawing out time to work on this shirt and it was the first version that fit, so I was not ready to just chuck it out. I saw Mary over at Idle Fancy do a patch with a skirt she made (looking for the link....) and she made it look very nice. Inspired by her, I tried using Wonder Under and a scrap of fabric to make a small patch. Fingers crossed it stays put...

Sleeve Snip Patch
Patched as seen from the back. Wonder Under to the rescue.
Sleeve Snip Patch Front
Trying to match the stripes in the snip wasn't too tricky. Wasn't perfect, either...
Finished Patch
Here it is with the binding on it. Not too noticeable. Besides, who's looking that close at the sleeve of my shirt?!

Overall, I'm ok with the fit of this shirt. I grade my work on the collar at a C or lower, so I need to practice there. Other than that, I really like it. Because I'm so busty, I've never really had button down shirts that were even close to the right size, so this is great! More to come of these and hopefully with even better fit and construction.

Back of Button Down Shirt
Back, with bias cut yoke

(PS, what's up with these pics?? Getting not horrible pictures is far more challenging than it seems like it should be. Still on the learning curve for it. I thought there was enough light, but my camera was glad to prove me wrong. Next time, better, I promise.)

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One thing that I've felt I struggle with is deciding what shapes will look good on me. I am essentially a column with extra out front, so I don't feel like most models get anywhere close to helping me visualize what it looks like on me. I finally realized this feeling of not knowing what it would look like was hampering my ability to start sewing because I didn't want to waste fabric on a shape that would end up making me look dumpy.

In order to solve this, I decided to make a croquis of myself to be able to try to sketch shapes or ideas to see if it will help me to get a better visualization of a shape and then be more willing to sew it.

I took several pictures of myself in "standard" croquis poses so I could turn them into line drawings. I use Photoshop and I followed a YouTube tutorial for it. If you don't do photo editing like this, you can always buy sketch books. Two popular ones are: Fashionary and the Curvy Sketchbook by Cashmerette. I've not tried either one personally (also not affiliate links, just ones I've seen around), so if you do go with one of those, I'd love to hear how it works for you.

Here's what I ended up with for me. (I took more poses than this, but I haven't taken the time to turn the other ones into outlines yet.)

Croquis - Front View
Croquis - Front View
Croquis - Side View
Croquis - Side View

It's been kind of interesting to see that when I sketch a shape on me, so far it's matched my preferences that I already know. For example, I don't like sleeveless that comes in too far or is super narrow strapped. When I drew that shape on this outline, I didn't like it there either. That makes me feel better about knowing that if I like it on the croquis, I'll have a good chance of liking it on me for real.

Another way it's helping me so far is that it is narrowing my focus on what I want to sew/draft next. I need some solid staples in my wardrobe and it's easy to find the shape I like for those staples.

Here's my favorite basic shirt and skirt combo so far. I'm going to start with these for my next attempt at pattern drafting.

V-Neck Shirt and Straight Skirt
V-Neck Shirt and Straight Skirt
Skirt and Shirt Base - Side View
Skirt and Shirt Base - Side View

Do you have a favorite way of trying ideas or do you just jump in and sew?

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I'm making great strides in my OAL 2015! Well, the sweater anyway. The dress... yeah, I'm struggling with that.

So to start with the good news, here's my progress on the sweater. I'm currently working on the Waist Decreasing section.

Vianne Sweater - Front
Vianne Sweater - Front
Vianne Sweater - Front Detail
Vianne Sweater - Detail of the front

I've made a few mistakes, most of which I didn't notice till several rounds later. Some of which, I fixed. The others? Well, this is my first sweater after all, and completion is my goal. Perfection is my enemy. Or at least that's what I'm going to tell myself every time I look at the mistakes...

Vianne Sweater - Back
Vianne Sweater - Back
Vianne Sweater - Back Detail
Vianne Sweater - Detail of the Back

As for the pattern, I *thought* I was going to do this Vogue pattern, V8648, view F. I got this pattern as a part of a Craftsy class, The Couture Dress with Susan Khalje. I've been wanting to make it and this seemed like the perfect opportunity.

Dress Pattern - Option 1
Dress Pattern - Option 1, but have to find something else

Then this happened. I needed to do a 1.75" FBA on the bodice piece. But when I did, the armhole distorted to bad I didn't think I'd be able to set a sleeve in there. I thought about doing research and trying to figure out what I'm doing wrong, but with all the pretty dress patterns I have in my stash and the limited time I have to sew, I'm just giving the win to the Vogue pattern and coming back to it when I'm more experienced. It may have won this battle, but I will win the war!! 😛

Bodice Piece - Original
Bodice Piece - Original
Bodice Piece - After FBA Attempt
Bodice Piece - After FBA Attempt

Bye Bye Love Bag - Front View
Bye Bye Love Bag - Front View

This bag is the Bye Bye Love bag from Sew Sweetness. I modified the pattern a bit in order to have the two-tone color on the bag. I also switched the inset zipper to the inside of the bag instead of the outside. I'd like to say that's because of some brilliant inspiration on my part, but it's actually because I didn't read the pattern very well and I got the wrong color zipper. I probably could have gotten away with a pink zipper on the outside, but I wasn't feeling it. I just switched it to the lining instead.

I used the Soft and Stable that Sara (of Sew Sweetness) recommends in the pattern. This was my first time sewing with it and it was interesting. For those who haven't sewed with it before, it's a stiff foam that is about 1/8" thick. It gives great body and support to the bag without overwhelming it. I'll definitely use it again with a bag like this that benefits from the structure. Due to the price (it's not too bad, but can add up if you're using this for many bags), I may experiment with interfacing and headliner foam from Joann's. I'll update if I do that and do a comparison.

Bye Bye Love Bag - Inside View
Bye Bye Love Bag - Inside View

This bag was more challenging than I thought it would be. In addition to using the Soft and Stable for the first time, I used the vinyl for the accents and upholstery fabric for the green and the lining. The pink lining fabric frayed horribly and I had to use my serger and a zigzag and it was still disinigrating around the edges. Beautiful, though and worth the hassle.

Because of all these challenges, I make more mistakes on this bag than I had on some of my other more recent bags. I chalked it up to a learning experience and am pretty pleased with the results overall.

I gave this to my sister-in-law for her birthday as I thought the colors would be perfect for her. Also, she's nice enough to look past some of the construction mistakes. :)

Have you gifted things to loved ones even though they weren't perfect? Or do you keep all the mistakes for yourself?

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Knit Dress - Full Outfit
Knit Dress - Full Outfit

My first finished to post to the blog! I'm so excited that I have a successful project to post about. :) This knit dress is McCall's M6073. It has a V neckline in both the front and the back and has three lengths: knee, midi, and maxi length. I wanted to use this fabric from my stash (it's a poly blend from... Fabric.com, maybe?) I only had 1.5 yd. and it was 45" width, so I eeked out as much length as I could, but couldn't even quite make it to the knee length. When I'm standing and there's no wind, it's not too short. :) Also, the fabric is sheer, so I have to have something under it. Therefore, there will be leggins worn with this every time.

I wasn't sure about this pattern at first because it seemed very loose and I wasn't sure if I'd would like it. However, it actually did flatter very nicely. I think that's mostly due to the drape of the very lightweight knit and the help of the elastic in both the shoulders and waist.

I did have to do a few alterations for this. Although my fabric was knit, it didn't have a great amount of stretch. I did a size 22 in the bust, grading to 24 for the waist and hips, then I did a 2" FBA. The fit was great overall. The FBA did give me a lot of gathers; in the future I may do a smaller FBA or none at all and let the deep V of the wrap take in some of the difference.

Knit Dress - Front View
Knit Dress - Front View

The photographer (aka: Mom) decided this was my "I'm a little teapot" pose. No one has ever asked me to model, can you believe that?! 😛

I struggled with the binding of the V neck because the pattern instructions made. no. sense. I was procrastinating utilizing last minute energy to finish this dress so I didn't want to take time to Google the "correct" way to do it. I found a way that worked and looks nice from the outside, but really kind of bad on the inside. I'm adding binding a V neck to my list of skills-to-learn.

Knit Dress - Back
Knit Dress - Back

To update my skill building for this post, I thought I show how I did the bust gathers for this piece. Gathering is basic skill, but when done unevenly, it can definitely add to the "home made" vs. "hand made" look.

I used a technique that I like to think of as "window curtain gathering" (yes, I totally made that up, if you couldn't tell) that helps me get more exact start/end when gathering between two points. Basically, I use two threads, knotted at the end to baste the gathers. One thread starts at the left and the other starts from the right. That way, I can pull on the unknotted ends, now on opposite sides of the gathered section. By doing it this way, there's no ungathered sections near the edge of the gathered sections.

Bust Gathers
Making Bust Gathers