Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Style Arc Ariana Woven Dress

One of my Make 9 items for this year was the Style Arc Ariana Woven Dress. When this pattern dropped last year, I was immediately drawn to it, which surprised me. I don't wear many wovens, especially dresses. But it was one of those patterns that stuck in my mind, so I decided to add it to my Make 9. I have two near and dear fabrics that I plan to use, but before diving in with those I wanted to make a muslin. So here it is!

The bodice of this dress is fully lined, with a back panel that it shirred with elastic thread. The straps are narrow and the skirt is gathered into the bodice. There are roomy patch pockets on the skirt. The dress is fastened with buttons up the entire front. You can make a crop top instead of a dress by simply hemming the top.

I rifled through my stash looking for a linen-weight woven to muslin at least the bodice, and ran across this yardage of leopard print linen. I had 2-3 yards (tbh didn't measure) and I can't for the life of me remember what I thought I might do with it. I vaguely recall buying it at Jo-Ann's many years ago, but I almost never buy so much yardage on a whim. Whatever my original plans were, I'm so glad it hung around because it was perfect for my wearable muslin!

My bust measurement is 33", which put me between a 6 and an 8. My waist was between an 8 and 10 and my hips were a 10. I made an 8. I cut just one layer of the bodice pieces, and the straps, for fitting purposes. You do need to create the entire shirred panel piece to properly fit the bodice. It is cut twice as tall as you need it, and then it is folded down in half, and further secured with 1/4" elastic in a casing at the top of the panel. Note: shirring is annoying and takes a metric crap top of elastic thread. I ran out of my small Gutermann spool right away and had to order a giant roll on Amazon.

I basted the bodice and pinned the center front closed. I was pretty happy with the fit everywhere but over the bust along the princess seam, and ended up decreasing the cup size in the top portion of the dress. I would say the dress is drafted for someone who is perkier than I am ;) I'm wearing a strapless bra in these photos, but I will say that I think I could get away with nothing at all. The bodice is nicely fit (now) and the ribcage is tight enough to avoid sagging.

Once I had my princess seam changes noted on my pattern pieces, I went ahead and cut out the second layer/lining. I thought that I might just make a crop top, but since I had so much yardage I went ahead and made the skirt as well. I made no changes to this skirt, but for the next one I will remove 2". I am 5'4" and even though I can't find it noted anywhere, I'm making a giant assumption that the pattern is drafted for 5'6". I might do something differently with the buttons...I like the placement on the top but they feel too close together on the skirt and end kind of high.

Now for the directions...I don't think it's a secret that Style Arc instructions are brief. Per usual, there was one page of written text and one page of diagrams. Seam finishes are rarely mentioned although you need them here. With linens that fray a lot, you'd be best off serging all the edges of your pattern pieces from the outset. There were a few instances when the directions didn't seem to make sense, or when a different method would be better/neater. I ended up following Sewing Like Mad's method, which is clear as mud for someone who doesn't have the pattern and a half-constructed bodice in front of them. But I am here to say that it works, and you will end up with a fully-lined bodice with no exposed seams. The only thing I didn't see in her post was about attaching the skirt neatly. I ended up sewing it to the outer layer of the bodice, then turning the inner layer under and sewing it down by hand. You could stitch in the ditch at the waistline, but I'm not super skilled at that and got a better result by hand.

I also ignored the directions for the straps, which seemed to be saying to fold the raw edges under once and topstitch them down. Instead I sewed them into a tube and turned them. I also ended up shortening them by 2".

The pattern is drafted excellently and all notches matched. Style Arc includes seam allowance markings on their pieces, so you never have to go searching for that information. I always feel a sense of relief when I sew their patterns, they've never let me down and it's clear they know what they're doing. The only "mistake" I'd say they make is by not telling you to interface the front portion of the skirt where the buttons are. There is a pattern piece for the front bodice interfacing, but you also need to interface the skirt. It's just a rectangle so maybe I missed that somewhere, but I'll interface that part next time.

I LOVE this dress so much. It's so different from anything else in my closet and I can see myself with the two additional ones I've planned. The shirring is a total pain in the balls (so is 12 buttons/buttonholes), but the results are worth it.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Winslow Culottes and Ogden Cami

Every now and then (okay, most of the time) I get a little obsessed with an idea. Sometimes one pattern, sometimes a hack, sometimes recreating something I saw in RTW. Most recently, it's been the combination of Winslow Culottes and Ogden Camis. This combo is all over IG, and although it's not my normal silhouette, I've been desperate to try it. And now I have!

I'm usually a tank top and shorts kind of gal. I'm going to be honest though, I'm super bored with that look. My kids are still little, but they aren't projecting-fluids-every-second little any more. I have the mental space for clothes that are just a bit nicer, as long as I can still move and be comfortable. Opposite of that idea though, I am wearing a strapless bra in these photos (this one, from Amazon, which is easily the weirdest-looking garment I own).

Let's start with the top, because it's easy. This is my second Ogden Cami. The only change I made from the first one is to grade the hips out to a 6 instead of an 8. Next time, I'll probably take that in again to a 4 (the bust is a 2 and I did lengthen 1" from the pattern). I feel like this one is a smidge too blouse-y, especially for tucking into pants. The fabric is a rayon challis from Style Maker Fabrics and it is so good. They have a ton of amazing choices for Ogdens. I struggle with prints, so when I find one that works for me I fall pretty hard for it. I used French seams for the sides but finished the bottom edge of the facings with my serger.

Now on to the pants! I've been a culottes lover for a long time, even drafting my own knit versions many years ago. I liked the amount of options in this pattern. There are four lengths and also quite a few hacks on the Helen's Closet blog for other mods. One of those hacks is for back elastic in the waistband, which is what I've done here.

I attempted to make the pattern as-written, with an invisible zipper in the back. But I could not get the waistband eased into the top of the pants, no matter what I tried. It is not a shaped waistband and it is interfaced. None of my normal tricks works. I even tried gathering the entire top of the pant to fit it into the waistband and that looked terrible. I can't see any universe where I will attempt it again, even though I would make the pattern again. Either the waistband will be shaped, or I won't interface it, or I'll cut it longer (or the pants smaller).

To make a version with elastic in the back, you need a longer waistband. I had used almost every last scrap just cutting the culottes, and was super lucky to find one long-ish piece left. I still had to piece it together, and then piece it again to the front waistband, cut down from my original. So these pants definitely earned their label.

I measured a size 8 in the hips and a size 6 in the waist. The directions stated to go with your waist measurement, and I find that to be good advice. I made a straight size 6 and still feel like there is perhaps a bit of extra volume in the hips. Maybe if I cut a 4 in the pant it would fit into a 6 waistband??

I did remove 2" from the length. This was 100% to save fabric but it ended up being correct for my height anyway. I'm 5'4" and the pattern is drafted for 5'6". I made view C. Length is very easy to modify as the side seams are straight down under the pockets.

NOW THIS FABRIC! It is an olive rayon/linen blend from La Mercerie. They call it Avery Slub Linen and it is in my top five favorite pieces of fabric I've ever put my hands on. Possibly top three. It is incredibly soft, with amazing drape, but not too shifty. Fraying was at a minimum and it is mostly opaque. I have always been a knits girl, but after finishing these pants I've been dreaming of an entire wardrobe made from this fabric. AND it comes in a ton of colors! I have the Charcoal on deck for a dress, and I'm just looking for an excuse to order more colors. GO. BUY. IT. Do note, though, it is only 51" wide, which is kind of a weird number. I actually emailed Helen's Closet to ask if I could fit Winslow's on that width. I used 2 yards for mine but if I were taller or wanted a longer view, I would've needed more fabric. I also had to do some weird fussy cutting to be able to have pockets.

All my dreams have come true with my Ogden+Winslow combo, but I want to wear these pants all spring, so I've been trying other tops too. I looooove it with this tshirt (from Target, free from a friend!) tied into a knot. It's a super simple tee, just like the half a dozen Unions in my closet, and I tied a basic knot. Somehow it pulls the look together and is so much better than a sloppy tshirt and shorts.

I wore this outfit outside for hours, chasing kiddos and dogs on our first 70 degree day. It was comfortable, breezy, and great for a warm spring. I expect it to be on high rotation!

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Kendrick Overalls

It seems like these days, all my blog posts are 1000 words long, detailing intricate projects. I wish I could say I was sprinkling in those easy knit tshirts, but it seems I've already filled my closet with those! Today, let's take a look at my newest overalls.

You may recognize these as the Kendrick Overalls from Hey June. These have been in my queue since the pattern released, but the weather was the wrong season back then. I do have them on my 2019 Make Nine, so check one more of those off!

Shirt is New Look 6216

The fabric for this pattern has also been hanging around waiting. It's a silvery/grey stretch denim from Style Maker Fabrics. I enjoyed working with it, and somehow managed to squeak out the whole pattern from two yards (it calls for three). More on how later.

I chose my pattern sized based on my hip measurement, which is 38", putting me at an 8. I feel like this was at least one size too big as I took a LOT out of the side seams over the hips and grading up to the waist. I also sewed a deeper dart on the back of the pants. The outseams have a seam allowance of 1" which would have given me plenty of wiggle room in a 6 or possibly even a 4. I'm somewhat disappointed, because the more you cut off the side seams, the smaller the pockets become.

I'm not entirely sure where my sizing ended up with the waistband. I fit the measurements for an 8 but I took a wedge from CB as well as removing an equal amount from the side seams to match up with the hip portion. The CB wedge was an adjustment I needed with my Ginger Jeans and I'm noticing that I have a deep curve above my butt and into my back, most easily described as a swayback. At the same time, I have a protruding stomach (thanks kids!) that interferes with fit. I can take a waist measurement on myself, but the bulk of that number falls in the front of my body rather than the back. All that to say, the more pants I make, the more I learn about my individual shape and the common adjustments I'm going to need to make. I was quite pleased with how well I had fit these until I took these photos. I believe the wrinkles in the back are partly due to my tucked-in shirt. I swear they weren't there while I was sewing the pants in my underwear.

I was concerned about making a size 8 for the straps/top portion, because my bust measurement is 33". My bust is typically a size small in Hey June patterns. However, there is no bust measurement given in the size chart, or instructions for choosing a strap size. I find this to be a bit of a flaw in the pattern. I sent Adrianna a message on IG and she was very quick to respond that the straps weren't graded much, so it was completely acceptable to choose a different size. I ended up cutting a 4 and probably could have gone down one more size even. It actually really DOES matter what size straps you use, in particular in relation to the waist. The base of the straps must fit into the waistband, and I found that the back straps were too big to fit my back waistband. I ended up sewing a tuck into the CB of each back strap.

Fit adjustments out of the way, the other changes I made were to leave off any patch pockets. I kind of think the large, square ones on the back do nothing for anyone's butt. I had thought I might use the smaller, curved patch pockets (meant to go on the front if desired) on the back, but I ended up running out of fabric (and, if I'm being honest, energy).

I also used a quilting cotton from my stash for the waistband facings instead of more denim. I learned from my first pair of Burda overalls that doubling up on denim is stiff, hot, and heavy. The pocket stays for the Kendricks are also able to be made from lining fabric instead of denim, so that helped cut down on yardage as well. I could have possibly shortened them, but trying them on with different shoes I ended up with the original hem. I'm 5'4".

On to the instructions. This pattern is LONG. There are 100+ steps (granted, that is with both views mixed together). I mean, overalls are basically jeans for your boobs. It was not a fast sew and the directions made sure to walk you through it as much as possible.

I flat out did not like the instructions for the fly. They were different from any other flys I've sewn before. There was hand-basting. The zipper pull did not end up completely covered. Somehow my fly shield was too narrow. My waistband did not overlap as much as it should have (possibly my fault but I can't be completely sure) and I did not end up with enough space to install a jean button (that's why you see a hook and eye instead). There were a couple minor things about the fly instructions I did appreciate (basting around the fly shield from the front) but overall, I just plain didn't like them.

I accidentally knicked the pants and put a hole beneath the zipper

OKAY SO THEY'RE DONE NOW. I was so excited about these. But guys, the straps...they will not stay put. It breaks my heart to even type this out, but if fiddly straps are not your jam then you need to stay away from this pattern. Seems obvious I'm sure, but now you know for realz. I tried sewing them down and they ripped out as soon as I bent over to put on my shoes. I saw one tester who had tied her's so that's why mine are like that. I need to fiddle with the sliders because they may be the problem, I just don't know.

I know this review sounds like a total downer. I absolutely adore Hey June patterns and Adrianna. If you look in my closet you will find an embarrassing amount of Unions, Halifaxes, and Lanes. So believe me, nobody hates this review more than me.

Like all of my handmades, I will work hard to fit them into my closet. Perhaps when spring is here, and if I find a solution for the straps, I will find a place for these. Fingers crossed!

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Date Night Ogden Cami and Blazer

Today's post brings you two handmade items for the price of one! A few weeks ago, I finally succumbed to the Ogden Cami craze in anticipation of spring/summer sewing. I'm obsessed with the way Ogdens pair with culottes like the Winslows. But until warm weather gets here, this first Ogden of mine is going to be matched up with a blazer.

The blazer is Butterick 5926 and this is my second visit to this pattern. Sadly, the first version was a wadder and was never finished. I couldn't get over it and always wanted to try again. This blue and white striped ponte (I want to say it was from Fabric Mart) was just right for the pattern, and with the failure/practice of the first try I was finally able to be successful with it.

I can't go into much more detail than that, because I finished it nearly a year ago! It made a brief appearance on Instagram and then never got to the blog, because I couldn't figure out what to wear with it. It's also a polyester blend and I can only wear it for so long before it makes me stabby. This cami, however, is perfect and it's breathed new life into the blazer.

The simplicity of the Ogden Cami forced me to carefully consider my fabric choice as well as sizing. I rifled through my stash and found a polyester charmeuse (I had bought it for a coat lining but never made the coat) to use as a muslin. My bust measures 33" which was a 2, but my hips are 38" which was an 8. That's a LOT of grading out from bust to hip. I did my best to make a natural-looking curve and I think it came out as best as it could. I also added 1" to the length. I have a long torso and also a personal preference for longer shirts.

The facings I left at a size 2, so all the grading was beneath that area. Due to lack of fabric I did have to piece the back.

Speaking of fabric...I've been hoarding these precious scraps for years. This is stretch silk charmeuse, and it's from Mood. It was originally used for a lining on my first Victoria Blazer. Yes, the fabric is terrifying. I don't spend a lot of time with silk...I have three kids and three pets and it's just not practical. That said, I am now daydreaming of a set of silk pajamas. Can't lie, I definitely slept in this top and it was SO luxurious! Construction wasn't too bad, I used French seams and turned down the presser foot pressure on my machine.

I do have some bra-strap peekage (yes, that's totally a word) with my Ogden. Since I've only worn it with the blazer thus far, that hasn't been a big deal. But I did a small hack to leave holes in the straps. Now, I should be able to thread a convertible bra through the straps. If that's as clear as mud, don't despair, I'm working on a tutorial for it.

Inappropriate label from Kylie and the Machine

I have fabric on the way for another Ogden, now that I'm pretty certain on fit. This is one of those patterns that looks great on everyone and I can definitely recommend it!

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Excessively Wordy Kelly Anorak Review

Why not keep up my momentum with really long posts about Closet Case Patterns patterns? (Say that three times fast.) And did I mention it's olive AGAIN?

Kelly Anorak. Whoompf. Where to start (here, actually). I made this once before. The fabric was free as a guest blogger for Organic Cotton Plus, so I *had* to finish it. It definitely would have become a bonfire, otherwise. There were so many issues with the instructions and the pattern pieces, which I wrote about extensively in my previous review. I did. not. want. to. make. another. But then this fabric appeared. This beautiful, squishy, unique, special fabric. Soft shell nylon coating with a fleece backing, in MANY colorways. SWOON. It demanded to become an unlined jacket.

I hemmed and hawed about whether or not to return to a pattern that, quite frankly, I hated. Anorak patterns are few and far between, and indies are $$, and isn't it stupid to buy another pattern when I had one that was suitable? Especially when I knew the fit was perfect? Fine universe. I will make another Kelly.

I went with the same size as before, a 6 in the bust graded to a 10 in the hips. No matter how much hate I dump on CCP, their size chart fits me better than most. I'm 5'4" and did not make any length adjustments (it's drafted for 5'6").

This time, I was determined to personalize the pattern more. I hate patterns that can't be tweaked to be unique. I modified the back to be longer/rounded. I also drafted patch pockets with flaps instead of using the provided bellows pockets. Does it still look like a Kelly? Nah. But that only matters on Instagram, which isn't real life, so it's cool.

For help sewing this fabric, I am greatly indebted to Michelle at Style Maker Fabrics, who made the same pattern with the same fabric (so did @angela_butler7 on IG). I used a topstitching needle for everything, mostly because it was already on my machine and the test stitches I did looked great. I used a combination of flat-felled seams, faux flat-felled seams, and seams that were pressed open and topstitched on both sides. The thicker areas of topstitching were made using a triple stitch, some areas were done with a regular stitch. I kind of just went with the flow and my gut. I also used bias tape finishing on raw edges, which I loved in my first version. I omitted the drawstring. My machine (Brother PC-420) handled the bulk well, but I bet my beginner machine would not have.

Can you spy the snap that popped off? Sigh.

This fabric was not fond of being pressed. I kept my heat on low and used a press cloth with lots of water, and a clapper. It was good enough in most places but my flat-felled seams would have looked better if the fabric wasn't so spongy.

The only downside to this fabric was that it left visible holes any time I ripped out stitches. Particularly triple stitches (duh). So there are some areas with ~decorative~ other words, it got wonky, and rather than rip it out, I tried to make it look purposeful (the hood in particular). So, y'know, no pressure, but if you want to use this fabric you can't make any mistakes.

Happily, making this pattern a second time was much easier. I wouldn't say I skimmed the instructions, but this time they actually made sense. I did refer to my finished jacket several times to refresh my memory. The sewalong on the website is 100% necessary for the placket. You should also read it for the sleeve cuffs, because it basically admits that they f*ed around with the seam allowances because reasons.

Now that I've sewn two of these, I do have some tips for successfully dealing with this pattern:

1. Cut extra length on the placket pieces (J, K, L, M) they are drafted short
2. Use a walking foot for all the vertical seams on the placket
3. Baste the zipper with a walking foot
4. You need more interfacing than the pattern states (I used none for this jacket however)
5. The zipper pull in the directions is on the opposite side of every zipper made ever
6. Buy extra snaps
7. Buy LOTS of thread
8. The wrong side of the fabric will show when you make the cuff placket

My snaps were purchased from Stecks Store via Amazon. They are spring snaps, the same as the ones on my first Kelly. I like them, but I do have a hard time getting them set properly so that they close well. I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong. One male side came off while I was taking photos and I'm out of pieces, so I'll either need to order more or use silver pieces left over from my other coat. The zipper, which is miraculously the perfect exact shade of olive, is from ZipperStop via Amazon (also where I got my previous zipper).

Once I decided on the changes to the pockets and the hem, and realized I didn't need interfacing, I was excited about this project. My first Kelly was kind of ruined by Otter Wax and I rarely wear it, unless I'm just stomping around my own yard. I desperately needed a rain coat and this one turned out just so gorgeous.

The fleece is super comfortable, although it's not necessarily any warmer than any other unlined jacket (it did not keep me warm during these photos, when it was in the 30s). Going into spring, I'm excited to have this jacket in my wardrobe.

Summary: if you haven't bought this pattern yet, don't. Especially since you have to pay extra for lining pattern pieces. If you have unfortunately already bought it, you CAN make a great jacket, but it will take a bit of effort. Do your research, your blog reading, and be prepared to flex your patience muscles.