Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Replacement Josephine

The Josephine tank I made last year fell apart in the wash. Thankfully, I had just enough of this gorgeous Kaffe Fassett rayon challis fabric left to redo it.

I've sewn the pattern twice before, and each time I've had to make a number of adjustments to get it to fit my body.  Some of those adjustments were alterations done on the fly, and I still didn't have it quite right.  So this time, I reprinted my pattern and made another muslin.

Thanks to the second muslin, I think I finally cracked the magic combination of pattern alterations to get it to fit me the way I want.  Firstly, I realized that the shoulder is just too wide for me, even though I have been using my high bust measurement and doing an FBA.  So this time, as usual, I started with the size large C/D cup with an FBA (using a French dart that angles up from the waist rather than a horizontal dart).  I also narrowed the straps, mostly from the armscye, which I also lowered and scooped out a bit at the armpit to deal with excess fabric.

Wait, I'm not done yet.  I also did a forward shoulder adjustment, shortened the straps by 1/2" (so maybe I lowered the armscye too much), lowered the neckline and made a hi-lo split hem.  My muslin also had some back neckline gaping.  I am sure my original Josphines had this problem too, but I guess I have been so used to back neckline gaping that I didn't really notice it.  All my fitting practice has got me looking at my clothing more critically now.  To fix the gaping, I turned my single back piece into two pieces with a back seam.  I sliced an inch off the pattern piece at the top center back, tapering to nothing around my waistline, and now the back neckline sits beautifully.

On my last top, I had a bear of a time putting on the (rayon) bias binding.  Part of it was the fabric and part of it was my machine's tension going haywire halfway through the sewing.  I had to unpick and resew it a few times, and I guess the rayon just couldn't take any more, and ended up shredding in the wash.  So this time, I made my bias binding out of cotton shirting. But even having done that, I'm not sure I will let this one near the washing machine.  I had to clip the neckline more than every 1/4" to get it to lay flat.  Knowing how close I clipped to the seamline makes me nervous!

I recently had a look at Rae's original sleeveless version for this pattern and I realize that there isn't much of a resemblance anymore.  But really, most of the work I did was to the upper bodice.  The shape of the top through the waist down is the original draft, as are, of course, those gorgeous pleats.

The pleats (and also frugality and laziness when it comes to tracing/printing/cutting a new pattern) are the reason that I stuck with this pattern despite the fact that it just doesn't fit me at all, out of the envelope.  I probably could have modified a different pattern to add the pleats, but I didn't want to.  And all's well that ends well, except now I have a hankering to refit the sleeved pattern too, for fall, which will involve more armscye tinkering and a totally new sleeve.

For now, though, I'll enjoy my breezy new top.  Thanks for reading, and see you next time!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Gallery Tunic, finally

I've had this pattern in my stash for awhile, but I knew I'd need to do some work to make it large-bust friendly.  So it sat.  I spent most of the winter and spring sewing knits.  I don't know about you, but sometimes I find it hard to switch between sewing woven and knits.  I was definitely in knit mode for awhile.  But after sewing a couple of Bonn shirts, I felt up to the task.

I did not muslin.  I did do a bit of tissue fitting and a number of flat pattern adjustment before cutting my fabric.  The result is pretty good but could use a little more work.

The first order of business was an FBA.  I started with the size 8 (which corresponds with my 36" high bust) and did a large FBA to accommodate my 41.5" full bust. As the FBA widens the whole piece, I just made sure that I cut the side seams along the lines for the size 16 (including at the bottom of the armscye, which I had to widen anyway so that my adjusted sleeve would fit into it).  I graded the back to a 16 under the arms as well, keeping the size 8 shoulder.  Although I am used to choosing sizes based on high bust, I always pause while altering my pattern pieces, thinking "is that tiny size really going to fit my shoulders and upper chest?"  But it always does.  And in this case, once again, I am very pleased with the collar and shoulder fit.

I always require a forward shoulder adjustment, so I just pinned the pattern pieces at the shoulder and draped them over myself to figure out how far to adjust.  I settled on a 3/4" adjustment.  While I was adjusting the sleeve cap forward, I also did a 1.5" full bicep adjustment on the size 8 sleeve.   I pinned the sleeve seams together after I'd assembled the rest of the garment save for side seams, and based on that quick fitting, I sewed the whole sleeve with a 1/4" seam allowance instead of 1/2".  I still need a smidge of extra room - next time I will do a 2" full bicep adjustment.  I have to remember that I am adjusting a much smaller sleeve than would actually be my size - if I were using the size 16 sleeve I would only need a small adjustment.

Finally, after looking at many, many photos of completed tunics, I lengthened the placket by 1.5". I figured (correctly, as it turns out), that the placket as written would look comically short on my bust.  Even with the extra length, the pleat still starts too far up my bust and I am aware that this totally looks like a maternity top.  I can only imagine how much worse it would be, had I not lengthened the placket, but I clearly need to lengthen it at least another 1.5" - maybe 2" or 2.5".  I could get through two trimesters in it, no question.

That being said, I actually still really love the top. The fabric choice was key here - anything more substantial than this floaty voile would have been a disaster.  The voile works with the volume of the top.  I love the resulting shape and I will be wearing it a lot.

In an effort to remove a little volume at the back, I sewed the back pleat about an inch longer than called for in the pattern, though I didn't get any photos of it.  I think I'd prefer this pattern with a back yoke, though I don't have any plans to make that hack.

The sewing went smoothly, save for the serging accident suffered by my right sleeve.  I could have bought more fabric for a second sleeve but I decided just to patch it.  It's totally visible but it honestly does not bother me.  The sleeves also ended up wonky at the hem; I must have messed up while cutting them.  I had to shorten them a bit to straighten them before hemming.

I love the shape of the hem on this top.  Mine ended up a bit hi-lo, which I also really like.  I didn't find the hemming too difficult, but I can see that the hem is already getting flippy.  After three narrow curved hems on my Bonn shirts, I've tried a few different techniques, but my hems always end up flippy.  I've chosen to deal with it rather than get really frustrated and stop sewing woven tops.

The fabric is a poly voile I got for a steal - poly isn't usually my thing but it felt really nice, I loved the colors of the gingham, and it was $1.50/yard.  Problem is, it's totally see-through.  I do have a white cami to wear under it, so that's how it's going to have to be.

And here's one more photo of the top in its full smock-y maternity glory.

I'm not sure whether I will make this one again.  I'm tempted to try it again with a longer placket, in a heavier shirting for fall, but I also need to make a few woven tanks for summer and once I put the pattern away, it may take awhile for me to get it back out.  I am very momentum-driven.  Plus there are too many things to sew.  I've got my eye on that new Cashmerette Patterns Webster Top and am currently working on another tank Josephine to replace one that fell apart in the wash.

So thanks for reading, and see you next time!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

V-neck Renfrews

V-necks used to be my t-shirt of choice.  In college I had a heather gray one with the most perfectly-shaped neckline.  I wore it twice a week for several years before it got lost in the laundry room.  After that, I searched to no avail to find another v-neck that fit me as well.  Once I began sewing, it had been so long since I'd worn a v-neck, that it never occurred to me to try to sew one.  But recently I was inspired by a great striped v-neck tee sewn by Inder.  I remembered that my Sewaholic Renfrew pattern had a v-neck view, so I got to tracing.

As for my most recent long-sleeved Renfrews, I cut a size 10 shoulder graded to a 16 and did a 1/2" forward shoulder adjustment.  I shaved 1/2" off the outer shoulder and 1/2" off the side seam at the top to deal with some excess fabric I always seem to have in the armpit, and I lengthened the top and the sleeve because I didn't want to use bands.

I couldn't be more thrilled with the results.  While it took me a little while to puzzle out how to sew the neckband, once I figured it out, it was pretty easy.  I normally construct knits entirely on my serger, but I found that in order to get a nice, sharp mitered point to my v, I needed to stitch about 1.5" on either side of the v's point using my sewing machine.  After that, I serged starting at the point, going around the neckline and ending by serging over the point again.  Then I wove in my serger tail and, voila, perfect v-neck!

I think the shape and depth of the v on this pattern is perfect.  I decided that I wanted a wider band on the white tee, more like my husband's undershirts, so I sewed the band on with a smaller seam allowance.

Since the long sleeve on the Renfrew has too much ease for me, I didn't bother with a full bicep adjustment.  Turns out I should have, though, as the sleeve on my first iteration were way too tight.  I tried a 1/2" adjustment on the small stripe Renfrew, but it wasn't enough (and the whole shirt turned out too tight for some reason). So for the white one, I did a 1" adjustment and then sewed it and the sides together with a 3/8" seam allowance, and it was perfect.

All the fabrics are stash from Fabric Mart.  The navy and white fabrics were listed as cotton/lycra jersey, but the navy one feels like it also has some poly in it, and the white definitely has some rayon.  The small stripe is a rayon/lycra.  I'm pretty psyched about the stripe placement on the neckline of that one.

It's nice to have some v-neck tees back in my closet.  I only completed them a few weeks ago but they've all already been worn multiple times.  Thanks for reading and see you next time!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Me-Made-May Week 4+

May is over!  I had such a good time with it this year.  I felt a little sheepish by about the mid-point, asking my kids to take photos of me every day and saturating my IG feed with my clumsy poses.  But seeing my outfits in photo really helped clarify what I like about my wardrobe (and what I don't, which, happily, isn't much at the moment).  It also helped me out of the rut of t-shirt-and-skirt or t-shirt-and-jeans, and inspired me to start sewing woven tops again.  So here's what I wore the last week+ of May:

Day 22: I was bleary-eyed and cranky because I had been up the previous night cleaning toddler vomit out of a crib.  I wore one of my Fjara tanks and a pair of Ginger jeans to meet a cruddy day.  Incidentally, this was also said toddler's second birthday; we didn't manage to celebrate until a full week later.

Day 23: Rainy and cool, so I wore the same Gingers as the day before with one of my new v-neck Renfrew tees with a Lisbon cardigan.

Day 24: I wore my pull-on super-stretchy Gingers with a new, unblogged, somewhat disappointing, Kirsten Kimono Tee and my linen Bonn shirt worn open over the top like a cardigan.

Day 25: Same Bonn shirt, don't care because I loooooooooove it so, with my yellow linen/rayon Simplicity 1887 and rtw leggings.

Day 26: I wore my anchor-print denim pencil skirt and a voile Simplicity 1377 blouse.  I was reminded how much I love the fit of this skirt, and that I should really make more instead of cooking up new versions of the Alberta Street Skirt, which I don't like as much.  This top is just meh, though, - it was an early version of my hacked 1377 pattern and the neckline is too wide while the hips are too narrow.  I should really retire it but for some reason I hung it back up in my closet.

Day 27: We went to the Strawberry Festival.  I was too busy mom-ing to obtain any photos of myself while we were in the mountains with beautiful scenery, so instead I had to pose in front of my front door when we got home.  I wore my yellow Simplicity 1887 skirt again, with another, more successful version of the Simplicity 1377 hack, and a Blackwood Cardigan.

Day 28: Church.  I wore one an Appleton dress.  This one doesn't get much wear anymore for what is probably a silly reason.  One of my sisters told me she did not think it was flattering because it makes me look top-heavy.  That by itself wouldn't have made me stop wearing it, but I was already a little self-conscious about how tight the back is - I feel like it really illuminates the back flab.  Although I was wearing it to church relatively frequently, I did already feel a bit uncomfortable in it.  And after my sister's comment, and it hung rather sadly in the closet, unloved, for a few months.  My husband was happy to see me in it on this day, though, and I think I'd like to revisit the pattern this fall, perhaps cutting a larger size for the back.

Day 29: Memorial Day, and the day we actually celebrated Niko's birthday, poor thing.  I don't even have a single photo of him from the day he actually turned two.  I wore my denim Alberta Street Skirt (which I still haven't shortened as I resolved to), a new, unblogged v-neck Renfrew tee and a Blackwood Cardigan.  This right here is a classic default outfit for me.

Day 30: It was dreary and spitting rain, and I would have been upset but it was actually the perfect weather for my brand-new Bonn shirt (blog post coming soon), which I paired with my zip-fly Gingers.

Day 31: Finally a warm, sunny day! I took the kids to the park and ran errands in my linen Simplicity 1887 shorts and my favorite hacked Simplicity 1377 top.  I love this top so much, and wearing it today made me realize that I need a white button-down shirt in my wardrobe.  No shocker which pattern I'll be using to make that one ... I just need to find the right fabric.

And, that's it.  Moving forward, I will try to vary my outfits as much as I did this month, instead of wearing the same 10 things over and over again.  I have enough clothes to do it, so there's really no excuse.  I had gotten so used to not thinking about what I was wearing that I don't think I realized how much variety I actually have in my wardrobe.  (Though I don't apologize for wearing the yellow skirt and the linen Bonn so much - I imagine those will continue to be on heavy rotation.  They're definitely winners!)

On to summer!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Seersucker Bonn Shirt

I made another Bonn Shirt! This one is in cotton seersucker from Fabric Mart, purchased about a year ago.  Like my last Bonn, this one is a 10DD graded to a 12 waist and a 14 hip.  I also shortened the darts by 1" and moved them down 1", and fixed the botched forward shoulder adjustment I had made on my first Bonn.  I left the cuffs off the short sleeves because that is an area on my body that needs no extra bulk.

When I finished the shirt, the expanse of hot-pink gingham seemed to cry out for some breaking up.  So I cut out a patch pocket on the bias.  I considered cutting two pockets but thought it would make the shirt look campier than I wanted.  I'm still pondering adding the second pocket, though.  I did a 1.5" full bicep adjustment on the short sleeve piece (since I had had to do on the long-sleeve piece), and the sleeves ended up way too big at the opening.  I didn't feel like ripping and recutting a sleeve, so for this casual shirt, I made a 1" pleat on each sleeve hem, topstitched the pleat down and called it good.  It looks fine, but it actually restricts my movement - when I raise my arms the whole shirt comes up.  I should have taken out the excess under the arm, and actually, I can still do that pretty easily since I pleated the sleeves after I had already hemmed them.

I can get this shirt on just fine with the front done up, so I skipped buttonholes and sewed my buttons right on.  I also didn't sew a button at the top.  This allows the top to open up a slight bit but still keeps me covered up.  I think I'm going to try deepening the v just a little bit on my next version.

There is no shaping on the back of this shirt - no yoke or darts.  I could see putting fisheye darts into the back in a more refined fabric, but in this seersucker, the loose fit back there will make for a very cool top for our sweaty summers.

When I finished this top, I tried it on with all my skirts and shorts and was disappointed because it just didn't seem to work with any of them.  It's a bit long and voluminous for all but my most fitted pencil skirts, and the color just doesn't quite work with most of my shorts.  But I do like it a lot with skinny jeans, and now that I've seen these photos, I like it even more.  I think it would be really cute with pedal pushers for a vintage vibe, though that's not usually my thing.

I'll definitely be packing it on vacation!  Do you have any favorite vacation me-mades?

 Thanks for reading, and see you next time!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Me-Made May Week 3

Only 10 days left of Me-Made May! I've had such fun with this challenge this year.  I did not make any pledge to avoid repeating items; only to avoid repeating outfits.  Even so, I've tried not to repeat items too often.  This forced me to reach for less-worn things in my closet and is helping me evaluate my wardrobe.  Happily, there isn't much that I'm planning to part with!

Day 15: I wore my red linen/rayon Simplicity 1887 skirt again.  I really love this skirt (and its yellow sister), and am considering making a third one out of some teal linen I bought last year with this pattern in mind.  How many is too many?  I paired it with my new linen Bonn shirt, which I also really love.  And I wore the shirt tucked in the whole day.  I'm usually not a tucker, because I always feel like I am having to adjust the tuck and it feels too high-maintenance.  But this shirt is long enough for a fuss-free tuck and I very much like how it looks with the skirt.

Day 16: I wore a new v-neck Renfrew tee (blog post coming soon) with my green bamboo Lisbon cardigan and my denim Alberta Street skirt.  I usually wear this skirt a lot (like two or three times a week) even though it's not the most flattering one I own.   It's relatively high-waisted so it sucks me in and I feel secure in it, if that makes any sense.  I am still meaning to raise the hem a touch and maybe peg the side seams a bit.  The cardigan is getting pilly, but I have enough of this fabric left to remake it, so I might do that at some point too.

Day 17: I wore one of my Kirsten Kimono tees and my McCalls 3341 skirt.  Sadly, I think I am going to have to retire both of these.  Both items are kind of stretched out and I felt really frumpy wearing this to our homeschool enrichment program.  The fabric on the top was listed as a cotton/lycra jersey but it seems to have no lycra in it at all and is starting to bag out beyond repair.  The skirt has also stretched out considerably around the waist.  I washed and dried it in the dryer after wearing it to see if it would shrink up a bit, but it doesn't seem to have helped much.  I do have another cut of animal-print stretch twill in my stash that will make a good replacement skirt.  But I'll need to buy fabric for a new black t-shirt.

Day 18: I wore my rayon/lycra Kirsten Kimono dress.  I actually don't wear this all that often because I had got it into my head that the elastic around the middle was uncomfortable.  I wore it the whole day, though, and it really wasn't.  I feel like I should make another one of these. 

Day 19: It got really hot!  I pulled out one of my pairs of linen/rayon Simplicity 1887 shorts and a brand new v-neck Renfrew.  I felt quite a bit more casual than I normally dress, though that isn't necessarily a bad thing.  These shorts, and the others I made last summer, are very comfortable but the pleats aren't the most flattering thing around.  I think I might want to try to make a pair of elastic-waist flat-front shorts; maybe the Parkside Shorts?  I am not sure.  

Day 20: It cooled off.  We had brunch at a friend's house and I wore my new seersucker Bonn shirt (blog post coming soon) and my pull-on Gingers, rolled up.  Then Niko got sick in the afternoon and threw up all over me.  I changed into a new me-made outfit - a skirt, new t-shirt and cardigan - and proceeded to splatter chicken grease on the brand-new tee.  I should have worn an apron.

Day 21:  Niko was still sick so I took the other three kids to church by myself.  It was only in the 60s today.  I wore my new Alberta Street Pencil Skirt, my white v-neck Renfrew tee, and my green Lisbon cardigan again.

I think the most valuable part of Me-Made May so far has been the pressure to not repeat an outfit.  I definitely am guilty of wearing the same easy things over and over again, and I don't really need to do that anymore, because I have a pretty sizeable and varied wardrobe now, almost all of which is me-made.  Aside from that one long-sleeved tee from two weeks ago, I haven't even considered reaching for any of the remaining RTW items in my closet.  I like the stuff I have made better, mostly because it fits properly.  And that is really satisfying.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Bonn Shirt

I made a shirt.  I've been eyeing the Bonn Shirt pattern since it came out, and I finally bought the PDF a couple of weeks ago.  I love everything about this pattern - the shape of the open neckline, the mandarin collar, and the shirt-tail hem.

Based on my current 41-35-44 measurements and knowing that my shoulder size is always a bit smaller than my bust size, I chose a size 10DD graded to a 12 waist and a 14 hip.

I didn't muslin this one.  I pinned the dart closed on the pattern piece, pinned the shoulder seams together, and laid it over my body.  It seemed as though the dart would be in the right place (or at least close enough), and that I was definitely going to need a forward shoulder adjustment.  I eye-balled it the forward shoulder adjustment at 5/8", but when I was done sewing I realized that I only drew the line on my front pattern piece, and forgot to actually remove the resulting triangle.  As a result, the front shoulder is too long and it still migrates backwards a bit.

Obviously, I should have made a muslin.

I also knew that I was going to have to do a full bicep adjustment on the sleeve (something I've never successfully done before), so I measured my arm and the pattern piece and used this tutorial to figure out the rest.  I ended up doing a 1.5" adjustment to the size 10 sleeve.

I am 5'8", so I lengthened the top 1.5".  I did end up shortening the shirt in front before I hemmed it (but this was probably also because of the way I messed up the shoulder adjustment).  I'm really quite happy with the fit, aside from the shoulder issue, though you can see in this photo that the dart isn't quite in the right place - the dart point is right on top of my bust apex, and the dart needs to be moved down about an inch.  I've made adjustments on my pattern piece to fix this for next time.

The fabric is a gorgeous linen I bought from Fabric Mart three years ago.  Those of you who know Fabric Mart know that, if you wait a few days, whatever you have your eye on will go on sale.  This is a rare fabric that I bought at full price because I was afraid it was going to sell out before the next sale.  I used some of it to make a dress for Z last year, and this shirt took out the rest of the cut.  And I feel completely satisfied with that - it's like the fabric met its perfect destiny in this pattern.

I think this shirt will get a workout with my skinny jeans, but I also wore it yesterday with a skirt, and I like it with shorts as well.  I don't know why I waited so long to buy this pattern, but I know I'll be using it again and again.  As with the other Itch to Stitch patterns I have tried, the drafting and instructions are very good.

See you next time!