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patterns

Sometimes, most times, the things I make have been rolling around in my head for months, even years, just waiting their turn patiently to go from idea to garment. But sometimes, out of nowhere, a garment latches on to me suddenly and won’t let go until I make it happen already. That was the case with this blazer.

indie outfit

When I saw the announcement of Sewing Indie Month, I knew I wanted to participate, and I perused all the participating designers’ patterns, but nothing immediately called out to me until I was cruising fabric.com (as though I needed any new fabric), and a striped doubleknit practically jumped out of the screen and shouted “I’m a Victoria Blazer!” And that was that. I ordered the fabric (and a plain black ponte for the collar and cuffs), popped on over to the By Hand London site to buy the pattern, and… it was out of stock. But boy, that blazer had sunk its teeth in me and was not letting go. That ponte was going to be a Victoria, dammit! So I stalked the BHL site for a week or so, becoming more desperate each day, and I was about to put a plea out for someone to loan me their pattern when: poof, back in stock. I ordered it immediately and hoped the transatlantic shipping wouldn’t take too long…

While I was waiting I put together an outfit to go with the blazer, figuring it would be fun to enter the Indie Love Affair category. Surfing through all the indie pattern sites, I was reminded that I’d wanted to make Dixie DIY’s Movies in the Park Shorts since they came out, but back then I was afraid to make anything with a crotch. But not anymore! I knew I had a cool graphic black and white print in the stash that could work with the striped ponte. Then I had to find a nice colorful top to complete the look – enter the Kirsten Kimono Tee, colorblocked of course, because I can’t leave well enough alone. I’d finished the shorts by the time the Victoria pattern landed in my mailbox, and then I put together the top and the blazer in about a week. Outfit complete with time to spare! Deadlines are my best motivators.

indie outfit side


 

I’ll start with the blazer. I knew I would have to make some changes to the way it was put together because I was using a knit. Initially I thought I would line it with a knit lining, but the one I ordered was both too thin and not quite the color I was imagining. So I hit on the idea (thanks to Dixie, actually) of sewing down the lapel/collar seam allowances with bias tape in a bright color. I knew no amount of pressing would tame those seam allowances. Luckily on the cropped version of the blazer the lapels go to the hem, so they would hide the line of stitching holding the bias tape in place.

victoria blazer insides

After some not insignificant amount of consideration, I decided to unfold the bias tape and sew it to the seam allowances along its first fold, raw edges matched. Then I folded the bias tape around the seam allowances and stitched the whole shebang to the shell of the blazer.

victoria bias tape finish

It’s not perfect, but I like the little pop of color on the inside. All the rest of my seams I left unfinished, just trimmed and pressed open. I could have serged them, but somehow I liked the look of pressed open better – like a hong kong finish without all that pesky finishing. I also created a hem facing, because I wanted a deep hem – if I was going to topstitch the hem I wanted to make a statement with it – and I thought a facing I could understitch would make a neater hemline than a turned-under hem. The hem facing is just a strip of fabric as long as the hem and about 2 inches tall. I stitched the rest of my bias tape to the top of the hem facing; as a knit it doesn’t need a finish but I liked the extra line of color. I think the weight of the hem facing helps with the drape of the back too.

victoria blazer back

I narrowed the bottom of my lapels using the quirky peach’s tutorial – I like the more traditional blazery look of the narrowed lapels. I understitched the new seam that created to try to keep the sharp edge of the lapels. The collar is just folded as per instructions, but this ponte pressed fairly well and the collar behaves. However, as expected, in the knit these lapels have a mind of their own. I tacked down the corners closest to the center front (basically making little bar tacks the width of the bias tape on the inside) on the top and bottom of each lapel, but the middle of one lapel still wants to flop open. Ah well, let’s just say it contributes to the casual vibe of the blazer.

victoria blazer

This pattern comes together really fast and easily (with the possible exception of my bias tape interior finish). I do think it works in a doubleknit, even if it’s a bit floppy. It’s probably the comfiest blazer ever. I made a straight size US8/UK12 based on my bust measurement and the knowledge that it’s got a lot of swinginess to it. At first I wasn’t totally sold on the voluminous back, but that’s the style, and the knit drapes fairly well so it’s not too tenty. It’s actually a really cool pattern, and while it’s not obviously my kind of thing, I’m glad my subconscious or whatever made me make it because I like it. I might even make another one, in a woven with a proper lining and lapels that stay put on their own.


Moving on to the shorts: I’d purchased this strange waffly woven fabric right when I started sewing, with the intention of making a pencil skirt (remember, early fear of crotches). I never got around to the skirt, though, which I’m starting to learn is my subconscious’ way of telling me a fabric is actually going to be more perfectly suited to a different pattern or type of garment in the future. As soon as I thought of making the MitP shorts, I thought of this fabric. And oh, I went back and forth for a while about using a crazy bright color bias tape to finish the edges, but in the end the fear of only being able to wear the shorts with one color of top made me opt for safe black trim, with white buttons.

movies in the park shorts

The pattern is pretty fab. No fly means they go together in a snap (with the exception of having to sew on 12 buttons…), and the fitting can be fine tuned at the end when you overlap and sew the sides. This is my first non-Thurlow pant-type item, though, and I was worried they wouldn’t fit over my… generous backside. After comparing the pattern pieces to the Thurlow shorts, this was confirmed. The front looked okay, but the back center seemed way too low. So I made what is basically a big butt adjustment (BBA?) following this diagram from the Colette site. I slashed and spread the back piece as follows (I later filled in the holes with more paper, but I took the picture first to better show how I spread):

shorts BBA

I cut a size large, except I cut the medium back crotch curve, as I have to scoop that curve out even in the Thurlow pattern. I probably could have made a medium all over, and there would have been less side overlap, but I was playing it safe (and I like my shorts on the roomy side). I feel like the back fit is really good – hooray for the BBA! The front crotch is not as perfect, but I’m not sure what I should do about it. Perhaps I need a deeper front curve as well.

movies in the park shorts back

The bias tape finish went on surprisingly easily. Before I bound the edges but after I made the pockets and attached the waistband, I fused a strip of interfacing to the back along the buttonhole lines to reinforce them. I made the buttonholes vertical as called for in the pattern, except for the waistband buttons which I made horizontal for durability and ease of use.

shorts buttonholes

I can get the shorts on and off with just the waistband unbuttoned, actually, but I made the top two buttons on each side functional just in case. I left the bottom four buttonholes on each side closed, then stitched the front and back together with a straight machine stitch through the center of each unopened buttonhole before sewing the buttons on top. I felt like this was safer than having the shorts held on my body simply by my poorly-hand-sewn buttons…


Completing the outfit is another Maria Denmark Kirsten Kimono tee. I had this teal fabric in stash, left over from this dress, but I didn’t quite have enough for a whole shirt – colorblocking to the rescue! The gray is a mystery remnant given me by Ms.McCall last summer (most of which I used to make a top for my mom for Christmas). I color blocked both the front and back pieces this time, again folding the pattern at the first paper seam to create the two pieces. I made the neckband in the teal because that fabric is so much stretchier than the gray, and also because if I have the opportunity to make a contrast anything, I will take it.

IMG_0373

I’m pretty happy with how this outfit turned out. And as much as I like the pieces together, the best thing is that they are all pieces that I can, and will, wear with other things. Plus it was really fun to comb through a ton of indie pattern catalogs and see what all is out there. And I can tell you, it’s all of it more fun and interesting than anything the Big 5 pattern companies are coming out with lately. So even though the “official” Sewing Indie Month is over, I can say that I plan to keep sewing indie all summer – my desktop is currently littered with pdf patterns I’ve downloaded in the last month from all kinds of independent designers, not just the ones participating in this particular contest. Although I despise printing and assembling pdf patterns, there’s just too many good ones out there to justify avoiding it any longer. So thank you to all you designers out there, for taking the time to share your innovative ideas with us! If you’re interested in checking out more indie patterns, there’s a huge list of companies here and another here. Be prepared for a time-suck of massive proportions when you dive into these lists. But you’re sure to find something unexpected that will latch on to you and demand to be made!

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I feel like I’ve crossed some kind of invisible sewing line at last: I have finally made up a Burda magazine pattern. Spurred on by the curious kiwi and modern vintage cupcake‘s Burda mag sewalong, I took the plunge into making something from my first (and only) magazine. I traced it out and added seam allowances and everything! And, wouldn’t you know, it wasn’t nearly the ordeal I thought it would be.

Huge credit for that goes to Ms. McCall of Brown Paper Patterns, for her awesome tracing advice. She even gave me two sheets of the magic carbon tracing paper she uses when we met up in LA! Basically, her method involves putting your blank pattern paper on the bottom (I used brown painter’s paper, which I got in an 18 inch by bajillion foot roll at the hardware store for like 5 bucks), then the carbon paper (colored side down) on top of it, and the Burda pattern mess sheet on top, then tracing the pattern lines with a tracing wheel. She uses a fancy double tracing wheel to add the seam allowances as you trace, which is brilliant, but of course that’s not the type of thing they sell at Jo Ann… so I improvised. I bought two cheapo tracing wheels and taped them together. Hey, it works! I measured the distance between the wheels and that’s my seam allowance (it turned out to be about 3/8, which is fine). It’s a cool setup, and I’m so glad it allows me to trace with the pattern sheet fully visible on top, rather than trying to pick out the right lines through a layer of tracing paper. And frankly, I think the whole tracing operation is still somehow less annoying than printing out 50 pages of a pdf pattern and taping them together, cutting out the pattern, and then still having to add seam allowances! I might be a physical Burda mag convert.

burda tracing tools

As for the pattern itself – it’s number 107 from the March issue (which I bought in LA from a real newsstand!), the gathered front cardigan that was pretty much the reason I bought the issue. I knew the front bands would be fiddly, but I liked the design so much I was willing to deal with the hassle. And I was totally correct – the bands were fiddly, but not impossible. I ran into some trouble at the bottom where the hem encounters the bands, but it worked out okay. Honestly, I have no idea if what I did at the hem was what was instructed or not, since I find Burda instructions so impenetrable that I confess I didn’t even read them. All-text (and translated text at that) instructions just make my eyes cross, and I didn’t want to put in the effort when I understand already basically how to construct a cardigan. I made the bands first, sewing the outer (interfaced) and inner bands together, sewing just the outer band to the body, then topstitching the band to secure the inner band and sandwich the seam allowances into the band. At the bottom I sewed across the bottom of the band right sides facing then turned them out, inserted the edge of the hemmed body into the band, and topstitched in place. It wasn’t the neatest thing ever with this thin knit, but it worked okay.

Burda 107-03-2013

The fabric I chose is yet another yellow striped knit from Girl Charlee that’s too thin to make into a dress (I went through a crazed striped-fabric-ordering phase last year and about half of them turned out to be more lightweight than I anticipated). I like really thin cardigans for our cool summer evenings, and I thought the gathers would be fun with the stripes. And while both of those things are true, I think this cardigan would’ve worked a bit better in a heavier knit. I prefer open cardigans, but this one is really designed to be closed, I think. I haven’t put buttons on this, but I probably should. It would make the shaped neckline make a lot more sense! There’s also a lot of fit-and-flare through the waist and hip, which works for a cardigan that you wear like a shirt but not so much for an open cardigan – there’s like little flaps below my waist on the sides. I will also agree with most reviewers that this pattern runs small; or, rather, it’s designed small. I prefer a cardigan I can wear, you know, over clothes, but this is drafted to be a tight shirt on its own. To be fair, that’s what it looks like in the magazine, so I shouldn’t have been surprised. If I make another one of these, I’d probably size it up a bit, straighten out the side seams a little, and make it in a slighter heavier knit so it wouldn’t be so fiddly to put together. I still like the shape and the idea, and, well, I went to all the trouble of tracing it so I feel kind of obligated to make it again…

At any rate, I’m glad I got over my fear of Burda magazines. Thanks to the Wellington Sewing Bloggers for hosting the sewalong and getting me to actually crack open that crazy pattern sheet! I don’t think I’ll be subscribing to Burda anytime soon, but I’ll keep my eyes peeled for pattern magazines, and hopefully eventually make something else from this issue. Of course, the keyword here is eventually.

Well, I didn’t want to get your hopes up. Yes, once again the time has slipped through my fingers and I have not accomplished all the things I planned/hoped/thought I could in the last few weeks. So while the end of April has arrived and I have no further stash sewing to show for it, I thought I’d better fess up and also at least share something about what I’ve been up to besides sewing.

First awesome news: I was lucky enough to win Amy’s Drape Drape 3 giveaway! I’ve been casually entering these giveaways as they’ve popped up around the sewing blog world because I’m morbidly interested in making at least one of the designs – I’m fascinated by crazy knit draping methods and this would definitely fit the bill! A quick flip through the book (it came so fast – thanks, Laurence King Publishing!) shows that my all my complicated pleating needs have been forever met, and I’m already daydreaming ways to modify the giant crazy pattern pieces to make the garments more, uh, my everyday style. It’ll certainly be an education in draping, if nothing else. And happily, the knot-neck dress seems to be just my thing as-is (though of course it’s one of the non-jersey patterns, so I suppose it’s not totally perfect… but I do so like to make woven patterns from knits), so hopefully I will be attempting at least that one sometime this summer.

dd3cover-e1365984834769

Thank you Amy!

But the arrival of this book (by the way, as the third book in the series I keep feeling like it should be called Drape Drape Drape, right?) is not what has been keeping me from my sewing machine. No, sadly, it’s this: I have discovered another new hobby. And unlike my last new craft adoption, knitting, this one I’m really excited about! (Sorry, knitting, I just don’t think we’re going to work out. It’s not you, it’s me.) So what is it, you ask? (Or maybe you don’t – apologies, sewing will resume shortly, don’t worry.) I am making jewelry! Simple, modern silver jewelry! And it’s (relatively) easy!

I never intended to make jewelry. I’ve made some forays into beading in the past and it’s never caught my fancy, probably because I don’t wear beaded jewelry. I’m pretty picky about my jewelry – I basically only wear necklaces (no pierced ears, watch instead of bracelets), it must be silver, and I gravitate toward simple, modern geometrics. It never occurred to me that I could make that kind of jewelry without taking up silversmithing or something, so I was totally satisfied amassing said jewelry slowly, mostly at museum gift shops and local craft galleries. Then, last month in LA at one of said local craft galleries, I bought a necklace that the clerk informed me was made with “silver clay”. I had never heard of such a thing, so I googled it. It’s totally a thing. It’s actually called precious metal clay, or PMC. There is even – get this – a Craftsy class on using it. (Man, there’s a Craftsy class on everything now, isn’t there?) Basically, tiny particles of silver are suspended in an organic binder material that makes it a clay-like substance that can be rolled out and shaped, then it’s fired with a handheld torch for a couple minutes, burning up the binder and fusing the silver together. You then shine it up (or not) with a series of fine sandpapers. It’s pretty cool. So I took the Craftsy class and went for it. Here are a few of the things I’ve made so far:

first PMC necklaces

On the left is a shiny square with a brushed circle on top of it – they’re two separate pieces on one jump ring. On the right is a string of three circles, the center one is shined up and the outer two are matte, though it’s kind of hard to tell so I just may make them all the same (and I need to get smaller jump rings to connect them, but this was all I had at the moment). In the middle is a piece I textured by stamping the clay with a rubber stamp before cutting out the square shape. After firing I patina-ed the piece using the hard-boiled egg method and then scrubbed the patina off the surface with fine sandpaper for a brushed finish, leaving it in the indentations to make the pattern more obvious.

I must say I’m having fun coming up with all the jewelry designs I’ve always wanted but have never been able to find for sale. With sewing, I’ve never considered myself to be a designer at all – I’ve always been good at seeing something and duplicating it, or modifying something to be what I want, but not ever pulling a design wholesale out of thin air. So it’s been interesting that with the silver clay I do seem to be thinking of a lot of original designs, which is exciting for me. Or maybe it’s just a subconscious backlog of all the jewelry I’ve ever seen and liked but not bought? Who knows? It’s cool either way. But seriously, like I really needed another crafty suck on my time… gah.

I’m hoping anyway that the jewelry making and the sewing can happily co-exist. And after spending the last couple weeks immersed in the world of PMC, I miss sewing. So return I shall to the two items I cut out before the jewelry lark began (one of which is where the scrap of gray doubleknit the necklaces are sitting on came from). But I think I’d better stop making promises about when things are going to be done, since I just seem to break them immediately. May will be a mixed bag, with another Los Angeles work trip dominating the month (meetup, anyone?), but I’ve also signed up to participate in the curious kiwi‘s Burda Sewalong, to attack that magazine I bought last month. So there will be clothes, sometime. That’s as specific as I’m willing to get right now – for your own protection.

And finally, here’s some proof that not everyone in our house is sad about my temporary sewing hiatus:

OT stash bedHow nice of the Orange Terror to help initiate my newest fabric into the stash! Because, obviously, it’s not real stash fabric until it’s been shed on. Thanks, buddy.

Well, now that I’m officially on summer hiatus from my new job, somehow tons of sewing/blogging time has not materialized like I was anticipating. How is it possible that having more time has transmorgified into having even less time? Hmmm, maybe it’s that I keep putting projects off because, hey, I’ll have more time tomorrow, right? Sigh. So rather than a review of a dress I finished over two weeks ago and still have not blogged, or the bags I made for work over a month ago, here is a random post about what I’ve been up to besides, you know, tending to this blog in any way.

Despite the fact that the PR contest this month is the Pattern Stash contest, I have been buying new patterns like it’s going out of style. I took the plunge (and paid the transatlantic shipping costs – erg) and ordered a few StyleArc patterns from Australia a few weeks ago. They arrived amazingly quickly, and look really great. The instructions are definitely not the most descriptive, but they’re just dresses, so I should be okay. All the patterns I got are designs I’ve not seen anywhere else, and I really like them – they’re the Paula, the Milly, and the Lazy Daisy. I also got their free pattern for June (every month there’s a different free pattern you get with your order, apparently, which is awesome), which was the Tori pant, a capri designed for stretch wovens, one of their looks-like-real-pants-but-has-elastic-waist patterns. I’m actually interested in making these up for fall to see if they really pass for pants-with-zipper or not.

     

The fruits of my late night out-of-print pattern buying spree arrived the other day (less one that turned out to be out of stock, oh well). It’s a mix of patterns I’ve wanted for a while after seeing them on a blog/Pattern Review and patterns I just bought cause I liked them in that moment:

Of these, I think only M6109, the tank dress, will go right into the queue – the rest are for fall/winter/whenever I get around to them in several years. Also included in my order was a brochure for new McCall’s patterns, which, as Andrea pointed out the other day, have reached new heights of crazy:

I mean, what?! Okay, I know the one on the right is a just-far-enough-off-to-avoid-lawsuits Snow White costume pattern, but I think the poor little girl on the left is just the victim of the Craziest. Pattern styling. Ever. Really, what is with the gnomes this year? And there’s just so much crazy happening in the center panel that my brain can’t even process it all. Except I know what I’m making all my friends for Christmas this year – fur-lined spats. Oops, now I’ve spoiled the surprise! Don’t worry, family and friends, you’ll finally have something to go with your bi-color tights!

Um, yeah.

Finally, I wanted to share the (also crazy, actually) thing I spent this last weekend doing instead of sewing:

I rode the ominously (and fairly accurately) named Death Ride in the Sierras south of Tahoe. Here I am on top of Monitor pass, elevation 8314 feet. (To be fair, we started at 5700ish feet, so it’s not like I climbed that far from sea level or anything.) I passed this sign twice, once after climbing up the front of the pass, and again after descending the back then climbing back up. Oh, and then I went up another pass that was 8700 feet, down the back, and back up. And I didn’t even finish the whole thing! Like I said, crazy. But you know, it was actually fun! (Though had you asked me in the four or five hours after the ride, I would not have used that word. Ah, hindsight.) And I feel tremendously accomplished. Not accomplished at sewing, mind you, but ideally that will happen soon.

Which brings me to a peek at my current project:

I did say it wasn’t done, right? These are the scraps from the dress that’s on my sewing table now. I also had better get cracking on a dress to wear to my cousin’s wedding on the 27th… wow that’s soon. I’m thinking the Cambie, but I haven’t even muslined it yet. Well, I do love a deadline. Onward!

 

 

 

 

I happened to cruise by the McCall’s site earlier and noticed that all the OOP patterns in the whole BMV family are on sale for $1.99! Yeah, I may have just ordered a slew of old patterns… It only goes through today, so head on over quick if you’ve been dying to pick up any slightly older patterns at Jo Ann style sale prices!

Despite already having nine eight projects in my fall sewing queue, I was enticed as usual by the JoAnn pattern sales this week… it’s not like they don’t put the patterns on sale pretty much constantly, but for some reason I feel like I need to stock up on patterns every time a sale happens, even if I know I’m not going to get around to making it up for eons. I justify it by saying you never know when a pattern’s going to go out of print, but really I just like shiny new patterns and the planning possibilities they entail. Anyway, here’s the most recent haul (click on image for pattern info):

                          

I really would like to get to most of these this fall/winter – particularly B5649, the jean skirt style version (which I need in khaki to replace a RTW skirt that just ripped), and B5672, the cute side pleat double knit dress everyone’s making and making me envious with.  I don’t currently have fabric for either of those, but I do have fabric for M6069 (the double cowl dress) and B5685 (the big-lapel coat). The dress I think I can whip out pretty fast, but the coat will be a more serious undertaking, as I haven’t attempted any coat-like-object thus far. The Simplicity coat is more of a far-off-dream, purchased because I love it and want a green wool coat just like the picture, but it’ll only happen if for some reason I end up being a total whiz at coats (I am not anticipating this being the case). Finally, the knit cardigan is a pattern I’ve been eyeing for a while but our JoAnn persisted in not having my size in the pattern during the last two McCall’s sales.  Can’t have too many cardigans (they’re what we wear in California instead of coats when it gets “cold”, aka in the 50s, in December).

So as usual, my eyes are bigger than my stomach (wait – is that the colloquialism?), but I just can’t resist the promise of more fun stuff to make!