Monday, October 2, 2017

Corduroy Tillery Skirt

The skirt I'm showing off today has already become a wardrobe staple.  This is the new Tillery Skirt from Blank Slate Patterns, which I tested earlier this fall.  I've worn it at least once a week since completing it, with flats and a t-shirt or a button-down.  And although I'm not dying for the weather to cool off, I am looking forward to wearing it with boots once the temperature drops.  

The fabric calls for a non-stretch woven, but I really wanted to use this corduroy that has been hanging out in the stash since we lived in Tbilisi.  It's a stretch cotton corduroy, but is fairly stiff and stable, so I figured it would work ok (and it did).  I sewed a size 14 according to my measurements, and ended up taking a wedge out of the waistband (1/2" at the top, 1/4" at the bottom), doing a sway-back adjustment and adding 1.5" of length to the knee-length view of the pattern (I am 5'8").

The skirt has three views - mini, knee-length and midi.  It features a snap-front, seven flat-felled seams, pockets and five belt loops.  The skirt is a pretty quick sew despite all the flat-felled seams.  I was also pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to install the heavy duty snaps (I used these).  I changed up the suggested snap placement a little bit to provide more snap coverage at the fullest part of my belly, where the placket wants to gape open.

The pattern is designed to sit at the natural waist, which I was a bit skeptical about, as my natural waist is super-high and I never wear anything there.  But I actually really like wearing the skirt with a tucked-in button-down.  After completing the corduroy one, I made a denim one, which must have gotten stretched out during sewing because it sits considerably lower than the first skirt.  And I find I don't wear it nearly as often.

I also messed up the snap placement on the denim skirt, and it gapes a bit towards the top of the placket.  I keep meaning to sew a snap on the inside, but honestly I will probably end up donating this skirt.

The purple one, though, is a winner.  Here are a few more photos of it.

 Thanks for reading, and see you next time!

Monday, September 25, 2017

Bonn #4

Another week, another Bonn.  (Don't worry, I've decided that after this one, I should probably crack open a different button-down shirt pattern as I round out my fall and winter wardrobe.)  The newest horse in my stable is made out of what appears to be a cotton/linen blend shirting I recently ordered from FabricMart.

This one is a size 10DD with a 1 1/8" forward shoulder adjustmen. Both the body and the sleeves are lengthened 1.5" and point of the V neckline is an inch lower.  Now, maybe because of the lower-v and the forward shoulder, the neckline isn't as open as I'd like and I notice that the back neckline is just a bit too wide.  I am thinking of reducing the length of the neckline and collar (ok, maybe I will make another one sooner than I had thought).

Like on my last two Bonns, the bust darts are an inch shorter and an inch lower, and the sleeves are a size 10 with a 1.5" full bicep adjustment.  I find on this one that the sleeves are a little too voluminous below the elbow.  I think they look great rolled up, though (and the extra volume makes a neat roll a little bit easier).

I ended up hemming the shirt with self-fabric bias binding.  I did have to redo it once, as I had forgotten to clip the seam allowance before turning it up, but once I did that, the hem fell flatter than the hems on any of my previous Bonns (though still not completely flat, grrr).  I just can't seem to figure out how to hem a curved shirt tail satisfactorily.

Also, I want to note for future Masha that this shirt used up 64 inches of a 57" wide fabric.

Like my other Bonns, this one is sure to be a regular in my fall and winter rotation.  It's not actually warm enough to wear it yet (and I'm totally ok with that), but I imagine I'll be reaching for it in a few weeks.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Last bit of vacation sewing

I know it's September 17, and evidently Target thinks time is nigh to throw the ol' Christmas lights up on the shelves.  (It's not.)  Because, guys, summer isn't quite over.

Here in my part of the world, we've had a few lovely 80-degree days recently.  Today I realized that I hadn't blogged the Pony tank I am wearing with my newly shortened Alberta Street skirt, so I decided to get a few photos and put them up here for future reference.

The tank was one of those it's-almost-vacation-and-I-need-to-make-something-new impulse sews.  Like my previous Pony Tank (the blue and white one, as I ended up giving the other one to my mother-in-law in July), this one is a straight size 16 with the exception of the armscye depth, which I cut on the size 8 line.

I once read a review of a dramatic hi-lo top on a blog (I can't remember which), where the writer described the back part of the top as a "butt cape."  Wearing my first Pony makes me feel a bit like I have on a butt cape, so I decided to shorten the back a bit.  I think I actually shortened the whole thing, but the drapey rayon sprang up higher than I had expected, so I ended up leaving the edges raw. I like these proportions better than the ones on my other Pony.

I also recently shortened my denim Alberta Street skirt.  I love this skirt and wear it all the time, through all seasons.  This summer, however, the length suddenly seemed a little frumpy.  I was really surprised; I've always been a knee-length-or-longer kind of girl when it comes to skirts, usually feeling uncomfortable in a skirt any shorter.  But I think my style is changing a bit, influenced no doubt by the legions of sewing blogs I read.

I'm digging a shorter skirt these days, so I took off about 2.5 inches and I'm really pleased with the results.  I almost can't wait to try it with tights and boots.  Except, I can.  Summer, don't leave me yet!

Thanks for reading, and see you next time!

Monday, September 4, 2017

2017 Outer Banks Collection

This summer I ended up making four full swim suits (each consisting of a rash guard + bottoms), two unpaired pairs of swim trunks, and one unpaired rash guard - 11 pieces in all.  Fair warning - this is a long read, as I've decided to cram them all into one post.

I sewed rash guards for the girls as well as the boys this year, because I've had trouble with the neck ties stretching out on the Cosi swimsuits I've sewn in the past (1, 2 and 3, 4 and 5, 6). Also, rash guards = less sunscreen, which is a plus in my book.

Natasha was in the most dire need of suits, so I started with her.  We decided color block it, using these daffodil and melon shades from The Fabric Fairy. I made her rash guards (and all the others) using the Oliver+S Field Trip Raglan pattern.  The girls' swim bottoms were made using the high-waisted bikini bottom from the Cosi Swimsuit pattern with a somewhat shortened rise.

Her bottoms are a size 6 with 1/2" taken off each side seam.  I cut her leg elastic at 14.25" (should have made it shorter, it turns out), and her waist elastic at 20".  The top is a 3T that I narrowed by moving the front and back patter pieces 1/2" off the fold.  My girl is nearly 8 but very skinny and the straight 3T would have been too baggy for a rash guard.  I also added 2.5" extra length.  I cut the neckband for this and all other suits about 3.5" wide, to finish at 1.5" or so.  I also lengthened the neckband a little bit to make sure they'd go over the kids' heads, though it turns out I only really needed to lengthen the girls' neckbands because I had sized down their rash guards so much.

I also underlined the front and back panels with swimsuit lining.

I'm not super pleased with either of the solid fabrics I used for Natasha's suit - the daffodil yellow fabric, in addition to being very sheer, ran pink-colored streaks both on this suit (visible in the above photo near her right armpit), and on the rash guard I made for G using some of the yellow scraps.  And the melon fabric faded to a light peach during our two weeks at the beach.  You can see some of the fading in the color below, which was taken towards the end of our trip; the melon is actually even lighter in person now.

I have found that the swimsuit fabric I have purchased from The Fabric Fairy has been very hit-or-miss - as in, either it's fabulous quality, or incredibly pilly and prone to fading after just a few wears.  While the wins have been true wins, I need a bit more consistency in my life and I'm hunting around for another swimsuit fabric source.  Please leave any suggestions you have in the comments!

I made a second suit for Natasha as well, using fabric scraps from suits I'd sewn her the last two years.  I'm expecting the bee print to fade quite a bit based on the condition of the last suit I made her.  The stripe (which isn't yarn-dyed) is the only print I've purchased from The Fabric Fairy that has held up well.

For this one, I added an extra inch of length to the rash guard, and I removed the 1/2" from the side seams instead of the center of both front and back pieces, which I think works better.  I also lengthened the sleeves and I LOVE them in the longer length.  I thought she might resist wearing a "long-sleeved" swimsuit, but she didn't mind it at all, so I will be sewing these longer sleeves on future rash guards, as well.

Z also got a rash guard suit.  I didn't think she needed a new suit at the time, so I didn't include any fabric for her in my Fabric Fairy order.  But then one of her old Cosis bit the dust, and I ended up getting these fabrics from Joann's. I can't recommend them - the seat of the bottoms are already pilling, and the fabric is a bit shiny for my taste - but at least the fabric hasn't faded.

Z's rash guard is a straight 3T with 2.5" extra length.  Her Cosi bottoms are a straight size 6 with a shorter rise and with the same waist and leg elastic as Natasha's.

Niko's set is probably my favorite of the bunch.  The fabrics (from The Fabric Fairy) have held up spectacularly well, and I just love the way the suit looks on him.   This is the navy fabric, which is very thick and substantial and seems to be very high quality.  The floral has also held up nicely so far.

His rash guard is a size 18-24 month with extra length.  His trunks are size 2 of the Euro Swim Trunks pattern, with about 1/2" taken off each side seam.  I also lengthened the bottoms a couple of inches, as I'm digging a longer trunk for my boys these days.

I also made Niko two pairs of board shorts, though I only managed to get photos of one.  They were both made using the Oliver+S Sunny Day Shorts pattern (it's free!) in a straight size 2T.  I added a patch pocket to the back of the gingham pair.  The unpictured pair is just a bright yellow.

G didn't need much.  He is still rocking the gingham trunks I made him two years ago, which match Niko's gingham trunks, though they are now quite faded and likely won't be passed down.  Plus he has a bunch of thrifted and gifted trunks.  He did need a new rash guard, so I sewed up a quick one a couple days before we left for the beach, using scraps from Niko and Natasha's swim suits.  I used the size 3 with a ton of extra length for my tall four-year-old, and made elbow-length sleeves.

And that wraps up Beach Collection 2017!  

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Four Fairfields on vacation

I was very busy the first two weeks in August, sewing up vacation button-downs for my brother, my father and my husband.  After my brother saw the bula shirt I sewed for J in June, he requested one.  His birthday was coming up, so we picked out two cuts of rayon fabric from Hawaii Fabric Mart. I did not want to make the Negroni pattern again because of the front facings, and I suspected that my brother would not be inclined to iron (spoiler alert, I have already been proven right).  I decided to try the Fairfield Button-Up from Thread Theory.

Now here is where I mention that I could have saved myself a lot of annoyance if I had a) muslined and b) taken the time to really work out where the pattern was going wrong, fit-wise, before sewing three more of the shirts.  Because, although I like the pattern, and although I will definitely sew it again, I have come to the conclusion that this pattern is not just "slim-fit," but actually runs small.  Obviously a Hawaiian-type shirt calls for a more relaxed fit than a dressier shirt, but I think the sizing of the Fairfield is too tight even for a modern-cut dressy shirt.

I cut a size L for my brother's first shirt.  The size chart says an L fits a 42 1/8" chest, 37.75" waist, 45" hip.  My brother has a 42" chest and a 37" waist.  It should have fit well, but I had to forego flat-felled seams and sew the side seams - all the way up through the sleeve - with a 1/4" seam allowance to avoid it being super-tight.  I admittedly forgot to measure my brother's hip, but I had planned to do a split hem anyway, and his hips are not disproportionate to his chest and waist.  And as it turned out, the side slits were not optional, due to tightness.

We didn't try to button the shirt up all the way (in fact, I didn't even put a button at the top because I knew it would always be worn open), but you can see in the above photo from the way the fabric is pulling at the top button, that the shirt is too small across the upper chest despite the fact that my brother fits into the size range exactly.  That shoulder fit, though, is spot-on.  And he loves the shirt, and received several compliments on it from waitstaff at restaurants while on vacation.

Next, I went to work on a shirt for my dad.  He is not a fan of anything even remotely flamboyant, and actually poked a little fun at my brother's fabric choices.  But after seeing the first shirt, he did mention that he might like a linen shirt for his birthday.  We chose a beautiful blue from Fabric Mart's designer-quality line.  (Fabric Mart is not to be confused with Hawaii Fabric Mart - two different sites/stores).  The fabric lived up to its name.  It is gorgeous - with a satisfying heft and beautiful drape - and lovely to sew.  I will definitely buy it again in the future.

Now here's where I'm stupid a second time - I didn't make a muslin for my dad's shirt.  I also really should have chosen a different pattern - my dad likes his shirts relaxed and I now knew this pattern was skin tight a slimmer cut.  I measured him, and he is 42-39-41 1/2.  The XL is supposed to fit a man of proportions 44 1/8-40-46 5/8. I cut the XL with an extra 2" of length (because my dad likes his shirts long as well as roomy), and added an extra 1/2" to the side seams on both fronts and back for good measure.

In any case, again, the fit was no bueno.  I couldn't even put the button placket together at the bottom, and my dad's hips are supposedly 5 inches under the XL hip measurement.  My dad said "I think I need about eight more inches across the shirt." I said "I can give you 1"."  And then I felt really badly because I hadn't given enough thought to sizing.  An inch extra of ease wasn't going to result in a shirt that he would feel comfortable in.  That night, I lay awake thinking what to do.  I ended up cutting 3" panels and inserting them at the side seams, all the way from the shirt hem to the sleeve hem.  I flat-felled all the seams.  This added about 4" of ease and made the shirt fit much better.  I was all ready to discuss the concept of a "design element" with my classic-style-loving dad, but his eyesight isn't great and I don't think he has even noticed the panels!

After I was done with that shirt, a little ragged but determined to finish the job, I went back to the second cut of rayon for my brother.  I forgot to jot down sizing notes while I was sewing it, and I'm typing up this post after two weeks of beachy bliss, so I don't remember exactly what I did.  I think I sized up to the XL everywhere except the shoulder, which I cut to a size L, because it was a perfect fit on the first shirt.  

Sizing up did the trick, and allowed me to flat-fell the seams.  You can see in the below photo that the upper chest/neck fits much better despite the fact that I kept the L shoulder.  And, yes, he proved me right on the ironing.  Although I presented him the shirt on a hanger, he decided it was better stored in a ball on the floor until he wore it to dinner ...

I used coconut-shell buttons on all the shirts in this post; after I exhausted my Fiji-sourced supply, I started looking for more on eBay.  I was surprised when I found them at Walmart while buying thread, but they look pretty much exactly like the ones from Fiji.  

I didn't think about how I was going to make a split hem whilst utilizing flat-felled seams until after the pattern pieces were cut, so I ended up fudging it with a bit of seam binding.  For a casual shirt, it worked fine.

On to the last shirt.

I hadn't planned to make J another shirt, but it seemed silly barbaric to order fabric from Hawaii and not even let him pick out a cut of fabric.  And then I had a week left before our trip, so, naturally, he had to get another shirt, too.  Having (finally) learned from my previous errors, I had him try on the shirts I had made for my brother and my father, and we decided to make him a straight size L despite the fact that his measurements place him squarely in the M size.  This worked well for him, and I was even able to flat-fell all the seams.  And after sewing three shirts in two weeks, I had his made, cutting to buttons, in four hours, even with having to recut one of the front pieces.

His is also in rayon, with coconut shell buttons.  I washed his shirt while we were on vacation, though, and sadly, the collar is now fraying at one of the points.  I actually tried not to trim that point too closely, and now I'm not sure what to do.  Probably Fray-Check and some zigzagging.

Gripes about the sizing aside, I enjoyed sewing these shirts.  The pieces come together well and the instructions are quite good.  I do think there is an error in the way the collar is sewn.  The instructions instruct you to clip the shirt neckline, and not the collar stand.  If you do this, though, the neckline becomes much too wide for the collar stand.  I actually needed to clip the collar stand where it attaches to the neckline, in order to make it fit, so that's how I sewed these shirts.

I will definitely be sewing more of these in the future, just making sure to size up.  For now, though, I'm glad that my shirt-making marathon has ended!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Bonn Fever

I've been sewing a ton the last couple of weeks in preparation for our upcoming annual beach vacation.  I've made four men's short-sleeve button-down shirts,  two girls' dresses andthree swim suits with another in progress.  But I haven't had time to get any decent pictures.  I'm hoping to remedy that with the ocean and the sand dunes as my backdrop. For now, I leave you with an overdue post about my latest Bonn shirt, sewn back in May.

So it's official, I have Bonn fever.  I haven't had any good button-down shirts in my wardrobe since I got pregnant with Niko and outgrew the Lisette Travelers I made in 2014.  I'm rapidly filling those holes, and now I present Bonn #3!

I should note here that I tried to photograph this shirt a number of times during an overcast spring.  I still haven't found a good spot for photos in or around the new house, so here's a bunch of blurry images featuring a wrinkled shirt that I refuse to iron it single time I try to photograph it.  And also I wore it a lot before it got too hot.

I made this one in the long-sleeved view.  I think I will probably make them all long-sleeved from now on.  I like a full-length sleeve in chilly weather, and when it's not so cold, I just roll them up, so this will make them more versatile.  The sleeves did end up a bit short so I will need to lengthen it about 1.5" on my pattern piece.

Again I sewed a 10DD graded to a 12 at the waist and a 14 at the hip.  It fits well, though I think if I ever make this as a dress or a tunic (which I am planning to do), I should probably grade out to the 16 hip if not the 18, as I think the 14 will be too tight if I continue it all the way down.

Like on my second Bonn, my bust darts are an inch lower and an inch shorter, the shirt is lengthened 1.5" and there is a 5/8" forward shoulder adjustment.  This time I also deepened the V in front by 1".  I forgot to do this on the pattern, so it was an afterthought alteration after my pattern pieces had already been cut.  I need to redraft my pattern to include this change.  I am forever lowering necklines as I usually find a lower neckline to be more flattering on my large bust - it seems to have a minimizing effect.

The sleeves are pleated to fit them into the cuff.  I didn't read the instructions carefully enough, and I stitched my pleats closed rather than basting them.  It doesn't really matter, though, given my predilection for rolled up sleeves.

I am scratching my head a little on the forward shoulder adjustment.  I've read a number of different tutorials on the forward shoulder, and I see two different methods - the first calls for shortening the front shoulder all the way across, and adding back to the entirety of the back shoulder.  The second method, which is the one I use, calls for subtracting from the front outer shoulder edge only, leaving the neck edge as is, and drawing a diagonal line between the two.  I use this method because it makes sense to me that only my outer shoulders are forward - the part attached to my neck can't really migrate forward because it is attached to my neck.  But maybe I need to do it the other way, because the adjustment I made hasn't totally worked on this shirt - it still migrates backwards.

I didn't mention hemming in my other two Bonn posts, but I had quite a difficult time making the small hem on the curved shirttail.  I ended up with a flippy hem on the linen one even after I redid it.  This time I used a triple-stitch method that now I can't locate to link for you, and it was better, although I still find that the hem flips up after I wash it.  It's really annoying, but I have had RTW shirts do that too.  Does anyone have any tips there?

As it's summer now, I haven't worn the shirt much lately.  But I'll be pulling it back out for heavy rotation later this fall, and I even have this fabric stashed away in the black/gray/white color (100% cotton shirting, from Walmart of all places!) to make another one.  It's definitely a winner.

Thanks for reading, and see you next time!

Monday, July 31, 2017

Gifts for little people

I recently acquired a brand-new nephew, and my youngest niece just turned two.  It was time to make some wee little things.

For the little guy, I wanted to sew a collared romper, but did not have such a pattern in my stash.   I did a little Googling, and found the Button-Up Baby Romper pattern, here from Peekaboo Patterns.  The free pattern comes in a 0-6 month size.

I used a length of mustard yellow cotton I found at the thrift store a few months back, trimmed with scraps of the gingham linen I used herehere and here.

I didn't initially intend to add an appliqué, but when I had finished, the romper, perhaps because of the color, was looking a little prison-jumpsuit to me.  I thought about using a whale appliqué (my favorite for little boys), or an elephant, but ultimately decided the colors of the romper were more giraffe-esque.  I found an outline on Google and used my computer screen as a lightbox to trace it onto my fusible web, then created the appliqué from there.

The pattern went together easily and all the seams match up, however, it only includes 1/4" seam allowances which mean it's hard to get a clean finish without thinking ahead (or seam binding).  That's my only quibble with this otherwise very nice (and FREE) pattern.

For my niece, I pulled out my Oliver+S Library Dress pattern, which I've used once before, and not in the way it was intended.  I had in my head that the dress would take awhile to sew, but it wasn't bad.  The cutting was a little less tedious than usual, because I block-interfaced my facings for the first time.  I cut out the pattern pieces in interfacing first, then turned them sticky-side up on my ironing board and laid my fabric wrong-side down on top of them.  Then I pressed.  It seemed to save a good amount of time and I'll use the technique again.

The actual sewing took me two evenings.  Not bad at all.

I made a 6-12 month size with the skirt lengthened to the 12-18 month.  My niece is a little peanut of a thing and I have always found O+S dress patterns to run quite large.  I think the resulting dress will be a good fit for this fall.

I used some quilting cotton from Spotlight, which was sent to me by a thoughtful Australian friend.  I love the print, and I don't at all mind using quilting cotton for little girls' dresses.  The waistband and sleeve facing was cut from gray shot cotton scraps from my stash.  Instead of bias trim on the waistband, I used black pre-made piping, also from the stash.  Looking at the photos, I wish it had occurred to me to trim the sleeves with the piping as well!  Maybe next time.

I hadn't appreciated how pretty the details are on this pattern before now.  That notched sleeve is really nice (though maybe it would have been tough to trim it in piping after all), and I love the little pleats on the front and back skirt.  I might have to buy the next size up to make this for my own girls!

Thanks for reading, and see you next time!