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!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Linen pants

This year I started making seasonal sewing plans, trying to both use up some fabric from my stash, and create coordinates that I could mix-and-match.  Most recently, I sewed what I guess could be trendily termed a "micro-capsule," which involved the two Pony tanks I posted about here, and this new pair of linen pants.

They are McCall's 7364, sewn out of this always-reliable slub linen from Joann's.  I had in mind a particular idea for the pants I wanted, and this basic pattern seemed something that was pretty close and that I could tinker with until I got them where I wanted them.  I liked the shape of the pant on the pattern envelope, as well as the front pocket on the shorts view.  I knew I didn't want a drawstring waist (I never find that they stay up), but I planned to put a knit yoga waistband on the pants anyway.

So I made view E, the long pants, but with the pockets of view A, and I ended up cropping them a few inches.  I cut a size XL according to my measurements (which correspond with a 20 - the XL is 20/22) and they were way too big.  I should have taken a photo because my muslin looked like legit clown pants.  I ended up cutting down the side seams to about the size L and then continued trying on the pants, pinning, and resewing the seams.  From the size L, I made the following adjustments, some in the muslin phase, and others to the final pants while in progress:
  • Took in the side seams evenly at about mid-hip down to my knee by 3/8". 
  • Took in just the back piece side seam about 1" starting at mid-hip and ending a few inches above the hem.
  • Raised the back by 1" at center and shortened the front rise by 1".  
  • Scooped out the back crotch curve by about 3/8".
  • Took in both the front and back center seams by about 1" at the top, tapering to nothing halfway down. 
  • Took in just the back inseam by 1" at the crotch curve, tapering to nothing about 8" or so down.

I realized after washing and putting on these pants again, though, that I had done a lot of my alterations after the pants had already bagged out quite a bit - being linen, there is no recovery.  So the just-out-of-the-wash pants (photographed with an olive green tank top) are a touch tight in the thighs. They do relax into the shape I want relatively quickly (see all the other photos).

My finished yoga band, made of cotton/lycra rib, is about 2" wide, and threaded through with 2" wide elastic.  It's very comfortable and stays put.  I originally tried to make a knit-fabric-only band that was wider (you can see it in the photo below, of the pants after I've worn them a bit), but they didn't stay up.  So I had to cut the band down to fit the elastic I had.

I loved the shape, the length, and the breezy linen.  The bum is a little baggy as seen below, but I always wear a longer top with them, so no one is looking at this view.

The back pockets are a bit too small; if I make these again I should enlarge them.  But I really like the shape of the front pockets.

Since finishing these pants about four weeks ago, I've worn them at least twice a week.  They are very comfy for our hot and sticky weather, and if I had time (I don't), I'd make another pair.  I'm halfway through three men's shirts I need to make before we got to the beach in 2.5 weeks, so it's unlikely I'll be doing any more selfish sewing this summer.  Luckily, I've already kitted my vacation wardrobe out pretty well this summer (see here, here, here, and here).

Thanks for reading, and see you next time.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Gingham Josephine

Immediately after finishing my replacement Kaffe Fassett Josephine, I sewed up another one.  I had a yard of this rayon challis in my stash (what else does a girl like me - or you - do with an Amazon gift card, anyway?) and it was just enough to squeak out the pattern (this was helped by the fact that I had previously modified the back to have a center seam). piece.  I think I had to cut the front bodice piece slightly narrower at the hem to squeak the top out of a yard.

The modifications are the same as the floral version, but this time I sewed the release tucks a couple inches longer.  The rest of it is exactly the same.  And just like the last version, I used some cotton shirting to make bias tape to finish the armholes and neckline.

Rayon challis is a great fabric to use for this pattern.  It keeps all the volume of the fabric below the tucks in check, so you get a breezy top that doesn't look like a muumuu.  I am also an eternal fan of plaid in general and gingham in particular (as evidenced by several recent makes), so this has been getting a lot of wear in the past month.

My pattern matching on the back isn't perfect, but I'm digging the slight wonkiness.  And I'm so glad I took the time to get this pattern to where I wanted it.

Thanks for reading, and see you next time!

Monday, July 10, 2017

Negroni Bula

My former neighbor in Georgia, who now lives in Fiji, passed through town a couple of months ago.  She very thoughtfully brought me some fabric and a pile of coconut shell buttons.  Orange happens to be my husband's favorite color, so it was clear that this cut had to become a Fijian bula shirt.

This is the Colette Negroni, which I've had in my stash for a couple of years, but which I'd never sewn before.  I sewed a size M according to J's measurements.  I actually added two inches of length for my 6'1" husband, but it turned out he didn't need them.  The size M fits his shoulders and chest well but it was a little snug in the belly area, so I ended up sewing the side seams up with a 1/4" allowance, blending to the prescribed 5/8" allowance when I got to the sleeves.

I'm quite proud of my pattern matching across the front.  I also really like the way the print looks on him.  The pattern is busy, but it's perfect for a breezy vacation shirt, and we both love the flame red and orange shades.

As far as construction, the sewing was fairly easy.  I did find the burrito-method yoke attachment and the attachment of the front facing at the shoulders to be a little fussy.  I haven't done that before, though, so that's probably why.   I do know that I really dislike having a floppy front facing in place of a regular button placket.  It feels bulky and messy to me, and is even more of a deal breaker because the darn facing curls in on itself after being laundered.  SO I'm going to have to press the darn thing every time I wash it.  Here is how it looks out of the wash:

No bueno.

I've never seen a shirt with a facing like this in RTW, but when I went looking for other patterns, I found that a lot of the Big Four options also had facings instead of plackets.   Is this a common finish for a home-sewn shirt?

In any case, now that I've got more crazy shirt sewing in my future (my brother has requested one for his birthday, and we ordered more fabric to make J one, as well), I'm shopping around for another pattern.  One with a regular button placket.  I think I'm going to try the Fairfield from Thread Theory, with the downloadable wider collar option.  I will also be using more of these awesome coconut shell buttons.

I'd write more, but I have to go iron this shirt ...

J is looking a bit perturbed at the additional housework his shirt will require.  But not perturbed enough to stop wearing it.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The One Where I Outsmarted Myself

I recently made a couple of tops using the new Pony Tank pattern from Chalk and Notch.  It's a simple tank, but it took me two muslins and a not-quite-right "wearable muslin" before I finally figured out ... that I didn't need so many adjustments after all.

After sewing a variety of different knit top patterns, I am at the point where I automatically cut a smaller size in the shoulder and then grade out to my full bust measurement under the armscye.  I did the same on this tank, but I shouldn't have.

I made two muslins using a rayon jersey that turned out to have really crummy recovery.  The size 8 (which matches my high bust) shoulder didn't cover my bra straps.  I was worried that the size 16 (which matches my full bust, and to which I graded at the bottom of the armscye) would gape in the neckline, so I just widened the size 8 strap a little and added some fabric in the armpit for this version. I kept the depth of the size 8 armscye, since i found on my muslins that the size 16 definitely let my bra band hang out.  I also botched a forward shoulder adjustment on this version, causing the front of the top to ride up.  I actually still like it quite a bit.  The fabric is an ITY knit from Joann's, and I love the print.

After that, I took a deep breath and retraced a straight size 16.  I did a 3/8" forward shoulder adjustment and raised the armscye to the depth of the size 8 again.  And what do you know, it was perfect!  I was shocked - I am never a straight size in the shoulders and bust, even in knit tops!  It's perfect.  I love the length, the fitted top and the swingy bottom.  I find that a lot of swingy top patterns start their swing too far up the bust, causing a tent effect, but this pattern is nicely shaped all the way through the bust which makes it both comfortable and flattering.

I spent quite a bit of time thinking about pattern placement and cutting the fabric (a rayon/lycra jersey from Joann's).  Unfortunately, I didn't take into account how the rayon would stretch vertically from the weight of the fabric, and I ended up with bust medallions despite my best efforts.  Worse than that, they are crooked bust medallions.  I know this would bother a lot of people, but I've been wearing the top anyway and no one else seems to have noticed.

I only have one quibble with the pattern.  It is flared from the waist through the hem, but the hem allowance flares away from the shirt even more.  This means that there is too much ease in the hem allowance, causing the hem to flutter if you stretch it to fit.  I think the hem allowance should angle inward so that when you fold it up, it is the same width as the top.  This is an easy enough fix for future sews, though.

I also made the linen pants I am wearing in the photo; I'll be blogging those later on.  I made all three items to wear together, so I guess this is a microcapsule.  And I'm hoping to make a couple more of these tanks before we head to the beach in August.  Thanks for reading and see you next time!

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!