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Monthly Archives: January 2012

Just a quick post to share the other deep stash item I finished the other day – this one’s a super easy knit skirt. This fabric and pattern are from my very early days of garment sewing, when I just bought random fabric I kind of liked at full price at the local fabric store, imagining I could just sort of wing something without a pattern. When I dug this fabric up from the bottom of my oldest fabric box, I abandoned my idealistic “I’ll just figure it out” approach and pulled out this out of print pattern I got on clearance at a local store when they liquidated their Simplicitys a couple years ago (Simplicity 3881). It’s a pattern for wovens, but I thought it would work out well for a knit, converting the waistband/zipper to elastic, and so it proved:

This is a pretty simple skirt, made even simpler in a knit. The flounce is basically two semi-circles joined to make a full circle and attached to the skirt body. For the waistband, I just folded down the top  1 3/4 inches to make a channel for elastic (1 1/2 inch, since that’s what I had – and I like the more RTW look of wider elastic). I left the darts when I cut out the skirt, but didn’t sew them; they just got eased into the elastic waist. I also left the bottom unhemmed, since I thought the clean cut would look better than any hem I could attempt in this lightish poly-lycra jersey. All in all, I completed the whole thing in one sitting (and got it all squeezed in to one yard of fabric)! And it’s got great movement to it, thanks to the lightness and drape of the jersey – I think this pattern is actually more well suited to knits than wovens.  And, I mean, any excuse for a spin shot, right?

My review of the skirt is here. Next I’m going to get cracking on my Minoru (um, sew-a-late, I know), and see if I can get (mostly) caught up. I may be destined to never actually sew-along with anybody…

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After being distracted from my stated goal of sewing stashed fabrics by my desire for wool jersey dresses, I was finally able to knock out a couple things from the very long ago (as in, things I planned to make right when I started sewing but never got to). The first is a wrap dress in a brown ITY-y border print I bought on my first trip to Mood (LA, not NY, unfortunately). I intended it from the start to be a wrap dress, but I didn’t have a pattern in mind. Later I picked up Butterick 5454 for it, but another year or two went by before I pulled them both out and just did it!

I was dubious at times as the dress was coming together, but I really like it. This is a pretty great wrap dress pattern. Granted, I have never tried any others, but now I don’t think I’ll need to! I made my usual SBA by folding about an inch out of the neckline, and I converted the shoulder pleat to gathers (at the suggestion of the brilliant Slapdash Sewist, though unlike her I found the front skirt overlap to be sufficient), but otherwise I made no changes. I only had 2 yards of fabric, but I managed to squeeze it all in by adding a seam to one of the ties (it falls under the knot and is basically rendered invisible by the print anyway). I was undecided on whether to keep the border on the sleeves or to hem it off, but I left it as a tryout and I think I like it. The one thing I will warn about this pattern is that it’s shorter than I thought it would be. I guess I was assuming a mid-knee length (clearly not looking at the pattern illustration or reading the description, which clearly states the above knee length) plus the border makes it seem shorter. But after wearing it all day, I decided the length was perfectly fine.

I was also a little wary of the fabric – it’s kind of like a spongy ITY, very stretchy but thick (almost foamy) while still being pretty slippery. I was worried it would be a huge hassle to sew, but although it was totally impervious to being pressed, it behaved itself nicely when simply folded over and twin-needled (which was how I finished all the edges). It was actually kind of a dream to sew! Who knows what it is, though… It was also so staticky that when I laid out the pattern pieces on it they just stuck there (made it really easy to cut out), so I wore a slip with it yesterday and it was sticking to the slip too! But then when I got home from work I took off the slip, and wouldn’t you know, not a spark of static. So apparently it just sticks to tissue and other fabric, but not legs – which, I suppose, is the way I’d like all fabric to be!

My full pattern review is here.

I’m currently away on a trip for work – not very far away, but still stay-in-hotel far away. So I haven’t exactly been doing any sewing (though my knitting project has progressed to the point where the stitch changes, so I’m stuck until I can get back to the yarn shop for help), but before I left I was able to finish two dresses to bring on the trip, both from the wool jersey haul I picked up at the FFC sale a while ago. The first, completed in enough time to enable me to get a picture of it at home, is another Vogue 1224.  I’ve been loving all the mustard colored garments that have been popping up everywhere since fall, so I got some mustard wool jersey with the intention of making a cowl neck shirt from Vogue 8634. But when one of the students at my work wore a beautiful mustard colored, elastic waist dress with those butterfly wing sleeves the other day, I thought: “I want that.” So I pulled out Vogue 1224, (of which my previous version, after all, is my most worn dress so far) and committed my lovely mustard wool jersey to it instead.

This pattern is so, so easy. It’s almost absurd. This time I omitted the tie (so no buttonhole), made the neck elastic a bit shorter to make the neckline higher, and lengthened the front bodice (since me and like 50 other reviewers noticed it’s substantially shorter than the back bodice). I could have lengthened the bodice front and back a bit more, as it’s a smidge high waisted in the less-stretchy wool jersey, but it’s okay as is. It’s sort of a cami-and-leggings-under dress, since the jersey’s a little sheer. But I don’t mind, since it’s wool it’s more of a fall/winter item anyway. I do really like this pattern, and I think this version, as a solid, is fairly distinct from my other one.

The second dress I completed the night before I left on the trip. I literally finished the hem and immediately folded it and put it in the suitcase. I wore it today, and made one of my coworkers snap a quick picture with my (new!) iPhone (that camera is really nice – it has the same number of megapixels as my SLR! …but not as nice a lens, of course). The pattern is an older, OOP one I picked up in the sale basket at my local fancy fabric store (I’m thinking it’s from 2007 or thereabouts, based on an ad for a magazine printed on the back of the instructions), McCall’s 5468:

This pattern gave me its share of trouble. I got it because I liked the style, and it was very similar to an Old Navy dress I love. But crossover styles are always a pain for some reason. I made a few modifications, most obvious being that I finished the neckline by adding a band instead of the collar (to match the sleeve band, and because the ON dress has one). That, though, threw off the balance of where the crossover hit, and made the neckline too high. So I gathered a bit more at the bust and spread the bodice halves apart a little to make it lower (though maybe now it’s a little too low). Also, this pattern runs big. I cut a 12 on top and a 12 and a half on bottom, with a 14 waist (I’m being more conservative with sizes lately because the last couple things have turned out a little snug, stupid holiday food!), but it was huge. Huge. I took it in about 3/4 of an inch on both sides, sleeve to hip, for a total of 3 inches at the waist. Speaking of the waist, it hits in a kind of odd place. The bodice was much too long when I got the dress all together, so I attempted an after-the-fact shortening at the shoulder to get the bodice to make more sense. I wanted to go even shorter with the bodice, making it more of an empire waist, but I couldn’t get the shoulder seams to come in more with the sleeves attached, so it’ll have to do. With the low v neck and the sort of dropped empire waist, it’s got a kind of 30s vibe that I actually really like. I made the sleeves less puffy, too, by folding out about an inch and a half when I cut. The pattern illustration had me worried a little… I’m really glad I did it, the sleeves are perfect for me. It ended up being a great dress for this work trip, and I’m so glad I got it done in the nick of time! My full review is here.

I’ve got a couple more things cut out that I’ll try to get to when I get home tomorrow night (not to mention the Minarou sewalong, which has been proceeding in my absence!), but no more wool jersey for a while. Now I just hope I don’t ruin these dresses when I wash them!

After my failure in the fall to include any garments in my planning that would actually be practical for me (i.e., knits), I resolved to basically only make knit garments for winter. I’ve been liking tunics and short dresses to wear with leggings this year – comfortable and bike appropriate – and I’ve been trying to increase my stock of them. Here’s my latest addition:

This is the Vogue 1197 tunic, a Sandra Betzina pattern (I’m clearly supposed to know who she is, but I have no idea). I liked the idea of the ruched sleeves, and I’m a sucker for cowls, of course. Something I’m realising, though, is that I need to not make any more straight up and down tunics – I clearly need waist definition, since I basically have no waist and need to create the illusion of one. This tunic as drafted has almost no shape to it at all. I took in at least an inch on each side at the waist, and I probably should take in another inch. So it’s not the most flattering thing in the world. Also, I’m not totally sold on the sleeve design. The pattern pieces are big “J” shapes, and you stretch elastic along the outside (longer) curved edge to create the ruching and turn the sleeves into the right shape for arms. It does funny things to the stripes, but that’s kind of cool. The weird thing is that because of the shape and ruching, it’s pretty impossible to push the sleeves up, which is how I wear basically all of my long sleeve shirts. I only wear sleeves all the way to my wrist if I’m freezing, and sometimes not even then. It’s no fault of the pattern, I suppose, just something I’ve learned about myself – I much prefer to make my own ruching, I guess.

My full pattern review is here.

So the best word I can think of to describe this tunic is “cozy”. The long sleeves and all the extra fabric for the ruching and the giant cowl make it very warm, even in this decidedly midweight jersey (from Girl Charlee – what a great source for cute knit prints! Check it out). It’s been relatively chilly here the past couple days (after the 70+ degree weather we had Friday, when I took the picture, sweating), so the tunic was perfect for riding my bike downtown this morning for this:

Yes, I have succumbed to the sewing-bloggers-who-knit epidemic. As though I needed more things to do in my no-time. A local yarn shop offers a “Knit 101” class every Sunday morning, and today was my first opportunity to attend since I noticed the sign out front advertising the class, oh, say, three months ago. Unfortunately, this will be my last available Sunday for several more months, so I’ll have to go it alone I suppose… The pattern is all purl stitches until the thumb hole, and then I may have to drop by the shop some other time to get help! It’s a lovely place, and so cool to get to learn from an actual person instead of a diagram. I crochet, but I’ve always prefered the look of knitted items (stitch variation, and patterns, and man, cables are so cool!) over the look of crochet so I’ve not made anything with yarn in a couple years. But I’m excited to give yarn another chance in this new form and see what happens! We shall see if my total impatience and slapdash sewing tendencies make this a no-go for me as a hobby…

So I’m back to work this week (after a two week break for the holidays), and my sewing mojo has returned now that I’m back to my usual no-time schedule. I thought I’d get a ton of sewing done over my break, but I just wasn’t feeling it for some reason. I think I am most motivated to sew when I don’t have time to do it! As such, I sort of chose this project at random – it wasn’t something I was super excited to make, but it just felt like something I could do to jump back in. It’s McCall’s 6203 (which for some reason is on “clearance” on the site – is it out of print already?):

I’m about as excited about the top now that it’s done as I was before I started – eh. The fabric is from deep in the stash (actually from the first online fabric order I ever made, from FFC over a year ago), and I love the color and the subtle stripe, but it’s not particularly soft or stretchy, it has basically no drape or recovery, plus it’s a bit thin, so I have to wear a cami under it. I also didn’t have enough fabric to make it the tunic length of the pattern. I added a band at the hem to make it a little longer, and because sometimes I like that style, but it works better in a drapey fabric for sure! Also, I’ve never been a big fan of the batwing sleeve style, but is sure is easy to sew – I will say for this pattern that it’s one of the fastest things I’ve ever made. Not the most flattering, but… easy! That is, except the neck band. I really like the double layer unfinished neck band, and the way the cheap knit rolls for kind of a neat look, but for some reason the neckband wasn’t at all long enough, so the neckline is unintentionally gathered. Could I have ripped it out, cut a new neckband, and redone it? Of course. But I didn’t care enough about the shirt to take the time.

The positive aspect of this top is that it made me want to sew more! I’ve just about finished another tunic, and I’m off now to cut out a couple dresses that ideally I’d like to finish before I leave for a work trip in a week. Ambitious, I know, but I do love a deadline!

My full pattern review of the top is here (and oh, that’s the other positive of this project – I can enter it in the PatternReview stash contest!)

Happy New Year! …a bit late, I know. I’ve never been that into New Years as a big, important holiday (as evidenced by the lateness of this post), and I’ve never really made resolutions or done a big look back or anything, but (maybe because I’ve been reading everyone’s great year-end posts) it feels right to do a bit of reflection this year.

2011 was a pretty good year for me, I suppose. (11 is my favorite number, after all!) I posted 29 reviews on PatternReview, made several more things that I didn’t review, and wrote up the tutorial for my messenger bag that I’d been thinking about for eons. I also participated in Self-Stitched September, which was a big step for me. It definitely made me want to wear things I’d made all the time! I started the year mostly making big-event type dresses, and ended wanting to spend my sewing time on practical, comfy things I could wear every day (more on that later). Let’s see, the item I’m probably proudest of is the orange polka-dot silk halter dress I made in May for a friend’s wedding (success with silk!), followed closely by my voile maxi birthday dress. The item I’ve probably worn most is my V1224, which I thought when I started it that I wouldn’t like it or wear it at all! And I found a great TNT jersey dress pattern in McCall’s 5893, which I’m excited to make more of this summer. And overall, I’ve basically gone from being somewhat of a shopaholic to not being interested in clothes shopping at all. Of course, it’s been replaced with fabric shopping… but I am glad to be not buying so many RTW clothes. And, not to forget, I started this blog!

In non-sewing matters, my biggest achievement in 2011 was probably cycling. A year ago this week I bought my fancy road bike, and since then I’ve ridden over 3,000 miles! I’ve gotten so much more fit than I’ve ever been in my life, and discovered the exhilaration of coasting at top speed down a mountain that I’ve just ridden up. In July I rode my first half-century (50 miles), and just a few weeks ago I rode the most difficult route in our area (with 4,700 feet of elevation gain), and now I feel like I can do anything! I’m hoping to do more organized rides this year, and maybe even a full century (100 miles)… and also to sew a bike jersey or two. Hobby merging!

And now for my future sewing plans. The other day I sat down on the floor surrounded by my stash and put together a bunch of patterns and fabrics, then laid them all out on the table:

Yeah, so that’s probably not going to happen. I won’t go through all the patterns in detail, but I will say there are a lot of knits and everyday sorts of things, something I learned from my fall sewing that I needed. I also would like to participate in Tasia’s Minoru Sewalong (I’ll be attempting it in buffalo check nylon, I think). Also, a lot of these fabrics are from pretty deep in the stash, so I’ll be entering some things in the PatternReview stash contest (though I have no chance of winning – some people are going to sew up like 25 yards, I think! Crazy). But it’ll be good to get to some of these fabrics at last.

So here we go with 2012… I’ve already completed a couple things I’ll post about soon, and now I’m going to start cutting frantically and see what I can get done next!