Sunday, January 4, 2015

Stretching myself

Hello! I'm back, to finally post about the dress I finished just before Christmas. Fair warning, the photos in this post are terrrrrible. Sorry.

Here it is - my first attempt at sewing with knit fabrics. Short story: I like the result, but the process was annoying. Long story, well, that's the post.

This is some of the fabric I bought in London, on Goldhawk Road. It's great, but I suspect possibly not the highest quality, because I think it's already starting to stretch. I found cutting it out to me a massive pain - it kept shifting and stretching, and it was hard to feel like I was really getting the actual lines of the pattern. I'm sure it would be easier with a rotary cutter and mat, but that's just more things to find somewhere to put.

The sewing part was okay - there's a stretch zig-zag stitch on my machine which I used (and a few other stretch stitches, so I'll have to experiment). I even figured out how to set up and thread a twin needle, which wasn't expressly in my machine's manual - I used that to hem the neckline and arms and hem. The actual stitching felt weirdly slow, until I realized that's because it was - the stretch stitch just takes longer to stitch the same length than a regular stitch.

[ETA: the pattern is Colette Moneta. Forgot to mention that!] I didn't bother doing an FBA (the blessing of stretchy fabrics and a pattern that's drafted for a C cup instead of the normal B), but I did add a little length to the front bodice, and did my regular sway back adjustment on the back. It's still a little low in the back waist, so I took another 1/2 " off the pattern for next time. (Looking at the side photo, I might want to add that 1/2" back on to the skirt at the back, hmm.) And there probably will be a next time - despite not loving sewing with stretch fabric, I did like the end result (dresses with sleeves and pockets, hooray!), and I'm sure I'll make it again. And once I figure out the world of knit fabrics, I have a few other patterns lying around to try.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Summer shirt, owl skirt, and a seasonally inappropriate cowl

I made 3 things! And they go hideously together, heh.

After my fitting issues with the dress I was trying to make, I wanted to do something that didn't require adjustment. The first thing that came to mind, of course, was a skirt, and I had this Sewaholic Hollyburn pattern hanging around, just waiting to be used with this fabulous fabric.
Owls! In orange and lime green!

I had to cut the fabric in a single layer in order to have all the owls upright, so cutting took a long time, but it's a quick make otherwise. And a great skirt in a style I really like currently.
(It's not as long as it looks there - it's really right below the knee. I actually took a bunch of photos before hemming it with the intention of getting opinions on length, but when I looked at them, this length was the clear winner.)
I'm definitely looking forward to wearing this, and I'm sure I'll make more.

I also made a Colette Sorbetto, a free PDF pattern they offer on their website.
I didn't bother fitting this at all, just cut my bust size. Due to Colette patterns being cut for a larger bust, it worked - not perfect, but okay. The biggest issue was with my sway back, but all RTW clothing has that too, so I'm used to it.
I got to do two new things with this pattern - work from a PDF pattern (okay, but annoying to paste all the pieces together) and make my own bias tape (time consuming, but looks really good to use the same fabric). I would definitely make this again! And maybe try fitting it better? This is almost like a wearable muslin, given that the random mint green paisley from a yard sale goes with nothing in my wardrobe, so probably won't get worn much.

Finally, I knit a cowl. Yes, even though it's summer. In my defense, it was winter when I started - I just put it aside for a few other things.
Stephen West Purl Ridge. It's a little more teal than it looks there. I need to learn to do a looser bind off. But I'm pretty happy with it.

Now what? Maybe I'll tackle the dress with all the fitting problems again.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

And the stash grows...

I recently had a chance to go fabric shopping in London (England). I know, right? I went over to visit a good friend, and had only three plans for my vacation: see friends, eat amazing vegetarian food, and buy fabric. It was a good vacation!

Top left: A funky chartreuse paisley soft cotton from one of the great cramped shops on Goldhawk Road. I can't totally remember, but I think I bought enough for a dress.

Top middle: Michael Miller from a cute quilting shop in Bury St. Edmunds. I'm thinking a-line skirt.

Top right: Yes, that's right, I splurged on some Liberty Tana Lawn. It was NOT CHEAP. But I'd budgeted for it. I'm thinking a blouse of some sort, maybe with something contrasting as trim.

Bottom right: A fairly heavyweight jersey that will be a dress, and my first attempt at sewing stretch fabrics. Like I promised I would do this year!

Bottom middle: Also bought at Liberty, but I believe it's another designer. I'm in love with this. I've really started falling for navy recently, especially with orange.

Bottom left: This is a 1.5 metre remnant from a great store on Berwick St. in London - mostly too pricey, but they have a wonderful sale basement. Kitty cats! And wonderfully drapey. I should be able to get a basic top out of this.

I can't wait! I've been fondling these for days.

In less exciting news, I think I'm going to abandon the dress I was fitting. I'm still not thrilled with the fit, plus now, after packing things up for the housesitter, I'm not sure which altered tissue was the last one. Argh. So I'm going to put it aside, and then start again in a bit. For now, I'm thinking skirt. I need something that doesn't require an FBA!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Pants in the wild

I finished my pants! And I wore them to work, and they (mostly) held up.

It's surprisingly hard to hem pants on yourself - skirts are somehow easier. But pants, pants have two legs that both have to be the same length. Not to mention that I had to decide what length to make them in the first place. But it's done, and I'm quite pleased with myself.

The one small problem is with the zipper - I had to shorten it, since I shortened the crotch length. But I think that stitching came out. It still works, it just comes completely apart if I zip it fully open. I'm pretty sure I can fix that without having to take anything apart.

Yes, I will probably make these again. I really do need more trousers. Sadly, although I made all the adjustments to the leg pieces, I forgot to adjust any of the other pattern pieces (fly, pocket, waistband) so I made all those adjustments as I was going. So they won't be quite as quick as I would have hoped a second time.

In the mean time, as I was procrastinating hand hemming the legs, I started fitting another pattern - the next thing in the Colette Sewing Handbook, a shift dress of sorts. I'm having a very hard time with this one! I did the same adjustments I did for the Cambie dress (shortened the bodice, swayback, FBA). Colette patterns are built for a C cup instead of the standard B, so I did a smaller FBA. But wow, the muslin did not fit.

I think it's just too big in the bust. I cut a 12 top to a 16 at the waist, and all that seemed okay, but perhaps I overdid the FBA. Just a touch. :) It's also too short in the middle. And I couldn't get a good picture of the back, but it was TERRIBLE - still too long, I think, and weirdly blousy.

Looking at the back pieces again, I think the problem is that the darts were shortened when I shortened the pattern, and I should have redrawn then back to the original length. And for the front, I've gone down to a 1 1/2" FBA. Once I can get the bodice part fitted properly, I can look at the length again. And this time I'm going to remember to make adjustments to the facing pattern pieces as well.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

A Long Day's Journey into Pants

Remember me?

You'd think that a long (very long), cold (very cold) winter would be perfect for lots of sewing. But sewing requires taking your hands out from under the blankets. So, you know. But I finally struggled out from under the cats and pulled out the trousers.

Look, they actually look like pants! I had a moment of panic when I put them on and they felt tight (you can actually see it in the photo. You can also see that my fly is kind of janky, but it does what it needs to do). I muslined these! They should be perfect! And then I realized that I'd sewn the outside seams of the muslin at 5/8", but the real pants at 1" (what the pattern actually called for). So I re-basted the top part at 5/8" and they're pretty good now. I just need to pull the waistband in at the top of the sides a bit so the front doesn't stick out so much.

So there you have it. I have to properly sew the seams, finish the waistband, and hem them. See you soon with real live PANTS.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

...and so it goes: 2014

Look, it's 2014! ALREADY. And it's a good thing I don't pretend to be a real blogger, because I've totally failed on that point. Of course, it's hard to write about sewing when I'm not doing any! But the holiday season is over and I'm determined to finally finish those pants. Then move on to more!

So. My objective for 2013 was to become a faster sewer. Did this happen? Sort of, I guess. I think my actual sewing has gotten faster - I'm faster at reading patterns and doing the stitching. But the process has gotten slower, since I started tracing my patterns and working with muslins. Is this a bad thing? No. I'd like to speed up the whole process, but I think everything I'm doing is only going to mean better clothes in the end.

I didn't, sadly, complete my goal of one outfit each month. I was doing so well right up to May! And then it slowed down and slowed down, and stopped entirely. Part of that is that I hate cutting out fabric (it's so uncomfortable to do on the floor), so I put off starting new projects. Oh well!

For 2014, my objective is to broaden my horizons - specifically, try things I haven't done before. Use the Craftsy classes I've bought. Learn how to sew with knits! Try sewing with different materials. But mostly, just keep sewing. Happy 2014, everyone!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Muslin take 2

I have a new sewing machine! After many struggles attempting to sew anything more than a couple of layers of fabric, I realized that I needed something better if I were to improve.

It's nothing super fancy, just better. So much smoother! The fabric doesn't bunch up when I cross a seam, which was a continual problem before.

I tested it out on a second muslin of my pants. I forgot to take any photos, sorry! But I think I worked out most of the problems. The only thing is that I'm not convinced of the width of the legs. I did narrow them, but I might narrow them more. These are meant to be wide legged pants, but they are dramatically wider than the pattern pictures.

In other news, a sewing school is opening at the end of my block. I'm hoping they'll offer some advanced classes so I can take one and then have access to studio time with giant tables for cutting patterns. I'm so tired of cutting on the floor.