Wednesday, March 21, 2018

70's Inspired Tie Front Romper

Isn't it fun how all the sewing bloggers are pretending it's spring weather right now? (Indiana has snow on the ground.) If we all pretend hard enough, it will happen! Sooner rather than later, I hope, so I can start wearing this amazing romper ASAP.

Tencel Twill Romper Overalls

Lately I've found myself in a Pinterest rabbit hole at least once a day. It comes in cycles for me, usually with the changing seasons so I can see what's new and get excited about switching over my wardrobe. I was immediately drawn to this photo and this romper:

I searched like crazy to find the source/maker/original and could not. That makes me ragey, I hate not being able to give credit where it's due! But being a sewist, I became obsessed with creating my own, and remembered that I had a similar pattern in my stash.

This is vintage Simplicity 7329, and it was sent to me by a good sewing friend. The date on it is 1976 (my parents were in high school, should I ask my mom if she owned something similar?) and it only had one size (12, or bust size 34, I'm about a 33). I made a super quick muslin of the bodice (only a front and back!) and then drafted my own straps. The fit was spot on, like, I was in shock how perfect it was. I generally have a long torso but since I'm simply knotting straps, there's a bit of wiggle room in the length. I did also shorten the front at the top just to make it less...covering? IDK really.

Speaking of wiggle room, the pattern was drafted to include a CB zipper, which I omitted. If I hold my breath and struggle I can get this on without one. If I make another (with long wide leg pants, drool!) I will probably put a zipper in as instructed.

With fit figured out, next I moved on to fabric. I absolutely adored the color in my inspiration photo, as well as the drape. I thought perhaps it was linen, but after consulting with a friend (the same one who sent the pattern!) she suggested Tencel. I already had an order at Mood started, and she linked me to this one of their's. It. Is. Perfect!

The color is so unbelievably rich. Sometimes it looks blue, sometimes green, sometimes both. It's luminous without being too shiny. It's a WOOL/Tencel blend twill, which makes me geek out even more because I LOVE wool. It's super soft like most rayon (Tencel is a brand name of a type of rayon) but the wool makes it nice and strong. The drape is excellent. Did I say that it's perfect?

I also made my shirt, details here.

I pre-washed the fabric by hand and air dried until damp, then ironed out the wrinkles before cutting. The long strap and short strap were drafted by me, as well as the facings that finish the top edges (due to my shortening the bodice and reshaping the back a bit, I could not use the provided facings). I also drafted the pockets and made it just big enough for my phone. To hold down the facings I stitched in the ditch (side seams) and hand-sewed (center front and center back).

Construction was done on my sewing machine and seams were all finished with my serger. This fabric frayed like crazy and the hem was finished with seam tape.

To say that this is comfortable would be a ridiculous understatement. The color pairs well with many shirts already in my closet, although I do think it looks better with a scoop neck rather than a V-neck. It works with tank tops. It would also be fun over a swimsuit. With sandals it looked a little dressier but it paired just as well with tennis shoes. This will be a great piece for Me Made May!

And just because I can, here's a side by side of my Pinspiration and my final product.

I stand like this all the time

Although, my husband said I looked like Luigi so obviously now I will never wear it with a green shirt. My six year old told me she liked it, but that I "still look like a farmer." Farmer Luigi? Maybe so. I don't really care. I've spent most of my life wearing clothes for others (my parents, to attract a mate, to dress an in utero child) and it's high time I wear what I want with little regard to outside opinions. Is that what getting older is? No longer giving any you know whats? If so, I think I like it.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Gala Party Dress

Every now and then, I get a ridiculous idea and have to follow through with it. When my Kindergartener told me she wanted to go to her school Father/Daughter dance, naturally I wanted to sew her something special. Nevermind that it was Monday, and the dance was Friday night! Let's be real: I could have run over to the local resale shop and found her an acceptable dress for probably $10. It would have taken minimal effort, money, and time. But it wouldn't have been special! Isn't that enough of an argument for sewing clothes?

I had a few patterns dancing (har har) around in my head, but decided to pick fabric first. My daughter requested pink. I went to Jo-Ann's and spent an inordinate amount of time browsing. After a lot of debate with myself, and input from my two year old, I ended up with an embroidered netting and stretch satin. I used my rewards points at Peek-a-Boo Pattern Shop and bought the Gala Party Dress for a steal (her patterns are SO inexpensive anyway!). I ended up spending about $65 on fabric and supplies, even with three hundred coupons. That's definitely more than I ever would have spent on a RTW dress for her. That's possibly the most I've ever spent on a garment for her. Hopefully, her two sisters can wear it, and maybe all my grandkids!

By the end of the day Monday, I had pre-washed my satin (polyester, but better safe than sorry) and printed my pattern. That was it! I had a lot of work ahead of me. I made a straight size 6 and to save time I *gasp* cut the pattern and didn't trace it. The first day I had a minor setback when I realized an extremely stupid error: a square is not a circle.

The dress called for a circle skirt, but I had bought a netting with a scalloped selvedge, intending for it to be the hem. Face palm. It worked out fine eventually...I ended up cutting the yardage right up the middle, sewing the short ends, and creating a square skirt. Then I gathered the top to fit the opening for the circle skirt. This would not have been so easy with a thick fabric, but netting is not that thick. I didn't actually measure my pieces but it was probably a bit over a yard. I just used what was left after I cut the bodice.

I spent Tuesday through Thursday frantically sewing this dress. Thursday evening found me hand-sewing the bodice lining to complete the dress.

And because I can't have my life be that simple, I had also planned on making a bolero, and a matching tie for my husband. Why not right? I found a free bolero pattern on Pinterest, and a free tie pattern from Purl Soho. I BARELY squeaked out the tie pieces, and in fact cut corners (literally). The lining was muslin from my stash. The majority of the tie was sewn by hand and it also required careful (read: time-consuming) pressing.

The bolero was super simple even though it's fully lined and reversible. Magically, I had a perfectly sized piece of netting left to put on the back of the bolero, and this perfectly matching pink knit ribbing in my stash. The inside is a cream bamboo knit from The Fabric Fairy that sacrificed itself to the cause (I was saving it for a tshirt for me). I also appliqu├ęd a few flowers to the front (didn't have enough fabric to fully overlay the front).

Friday morning I cut and sewed the entire bolero, AND shopped at the aforementioned resale shop for tights and shoes and hair accessories. Friday afternoon I finished hand-sewing the tie and the bolero (just the opening for turning). The moment I tied the tie and hung everything up on hangers, my brain completely shut down. All the adrenaline disappeared from my system and I felt totally wiped. Everything I had made was gorgeous, perhaps my favorite ensemble ever, but MAN was it draining to work on such a deadline!

When it was all said and done, they spent an hour and a half at the dance before my daughter got tired and wanted to come home. All that time, effort, and money for an hour and a half. This is not an indictment of her, OF COURSE it was only that long, but perhaps I should have thought harder about my return on investment. She loves it, obviously. I hope she felt special and wonderful, but who ever really knows with a six year old. I wish we had another occasion for her to wear it, but I think it might be too fancy for Easter? I'm rambling, a bit.

I know there will be a time in my life when I look back at these photos and get the sniffles, and I forget all the work that went into the outfit. A little bit like bringing a child into this world in the first place, right?

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Perfect Hudson Joggers

It’s rare that I wait years between patterns, and probably even more rare that I reorder a favorite fabric. Both of those things happened with this project!

If you haven’t tried a jogger pattern by now you’re missing out! So comfy, and lucky for moms everywhere athleisure is a real thing. I made some Hudson Joggers a few years ago and they’ve gotten a lot of wear. The fit was a little bit off, so I’ve been looking forward to trying it again with a few adjustments.

The fabric is cotton/modal French terry from The Fabric Store. I used it before for this Hey June Lane/Halifax hack. It is AMAZING. I couldn’t resist ordering more, all the way from New Zealand. Worth it.

The fabric isn't really pulling,
the problem is my hands in my pockets.

I used the loop side for the pocket accents, the waistband, and the ankle cuffs. I like the bit of contrast. For the drawstring, I used some cord left over from my Allegro Shorts. I just tied a knot in the end. My new sewing machine has a cool eyelet function, so I was able to sew a circle for the drawstring instead of a buttonhole.

I previously made a size 8 based on my hip measurement (38"). The hips fit great, but the pants were a little long, and the rise was a bit high for my personal tastes. For this version, I removed 1” from the leg at the lengthen/shorten line (for reference I’m 5’4”), and 1/2” from the rise, front and back. I forgot to adjust the pockets and it turned out fine. I did make sure to use a lightweight fabric for the pocket facing (leftover from this shirt), to cut down on bulk.

Now the fit is perfect, the fabric is perfect, and I somehow have to stop myself from wearing these every single day. I love when a vision comes together! And in case you were wondering, yes, that is my black Merino Union St. tee, and yes, I wear it about every other day.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Style Arc Eden Dress

I'm a big fan of Style Arc, I love their trendy styles and their monthly releases. And everyone can appreciate their freebies with purchase! This month, one of their free pattern options is the Eden Knit Dress. I instantly was drawn to the simplicity of the dress, and, of course, POCKETS!

The pattern is a freebie or available for purchase separately. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that promotion applied even with pdfs. I quickly checked through the SA website and found the Laura Knit Leggings pattern was inexpensive (and I could probably use a new leggings pattern anyway). I added that to my cart, then added the Eden, and the Eden was then discounted down to free! In retrospect, the leggings would actually work well with the Eden.

The Eden clocked in at around 30 some pages, which is about my limit on pdfs. Cutting was also a pain as I opted to do it single layer. The pattern suggested 2.2 yards for my size (6) and I ended up using almost 2 1/2. There was no cutting diagram in the pattern, here's how I did it:

Flip each piece over and then cut a second sleeve
beneath the first one.

The fit is excellent and spot on for my bust (~33"). The sleeves are narrow and long, which prevents the look from becoming overwhelming. I did remove 5" from the hem. I am 5'4" and I think SA drafts for 5'6". I probably went a teensy bit too short but it just depends on what you like, and what shoes you have for styling purposes. Next time I might make it a little longer and possibly go lower with the neckline (more like a V-neck Union St. tee).

Black blob photo

Speaking of the V-neck, the only time I deviated from the instructions was with the neckband. Since there is a center-front seam, I opted to leave that seam unsewn, sew on the neckband, and then sew up the center-front. I then tacked down the seam allowance. I ended up with a nice, neat V-neck without much effort.

The fabric I used is a rayon/spandex knit from Jo-Ann's. I recently had some time to kill there after picking up some elastic and browsed the fabric for the first time in ages. I was pleasantly surprised to find lots of gorgeous rayon knits, cotton sweater knits, and even quilted apparel fabrics. It wasn't all polyester and fleece (although there is still plenty of it!). There was more than one fabric that begged to come home with me, but I ended up with just this one. It's a touch sheer but probably only noticeable to me. I swear there is some polyester in it but it was not listed on the bolt, so who knows.

I wore this dress on Valentine's Day. It was the first time I've worn a dress in forever and I loved it more and more as the day went on. This pattern would be super fun to color-block but it also looks good in a print. I could see lots of these in my closet, especially as we transition into spring.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Merino Halifane Tunic

After the success of my Lane Raglan tunic hack, I decided to tackle a project that I've had in mind for a few months. I'm not sure how I got on the mailing list for Prana, but basically I want all their clothes and to do yoga on a mountain every day. In particular, I loved this raglan dress with a funnel neck:

The style lines aren't too complicated, and I decided I would try mashing up the Lane Raglan and the funnel neck from the Halifax Hoodie, then lengthen it into a tunic. I'm calling it a Halifane because obviously it has to have a name. After asking for some feedback in the Hey June Facebook group, it was suggested to me to use my regular size Lane (small) and a size up for the Halifax funnel neck (medium). This is exactly what I did and the results were amazing!

I considered adding a drawstring, but as I've mentioned before, they don't mix well with handsy kids. Mine is also more of a tunic than a dress, like my inspiration. To add the length, I again moved my pattern piece down 4" and out an inch or two (as detailed in this post).

One other change I made to standard sewing procedure is that I sewed everything with a 3/8" seam allowance. The Lane is drafted with a 1/4" and the Halifax with a 3/8". I was sewing most of this in the evening and I basically just forgot to pay attention to what I was doing (which is why I hardly ever sew after dinner).

I swear I pressed the hem

Now about this fabric! It's a wool knit from Mood, and I purchased it FIVE years ago. For shame. It's the first cut of wool fabric I ever bought. At the time, I thought it was a bit too itchy to use against the skin, and I had plans to make a fully lined wrap dress with it. Fast forward to now, I've become way more comfortable using, wearing, and hand washing wool. I hand washed this yardage and conditioned it the same way I do my other wool garments. After conditioning (yes, just like you would condition your own hair after shampooing) the fabric became soft and not at all scratchy. It's a medium weight and soooooo snuggly with this funnel neck.

And yes, I am aware that my entire wardrobe is black and grey. I'm working on it. Forgive me? I mean, I went outside in a 22 degree wind chill just to take these photos for you.

My cold weather face

I have enough fabric left to make a tank top or maybe even a tshirt. I'm thrilled I finally used one of the oldest pieces of fabric in my stash, and that it was worth the wait!

If you're looking for a hawwwt deal in this cold weather, check out the current sale on A Sewist's Notebook! Save 20% AND get FREE shipping! Use code SHIPSAVE20 at checkout. Hurry, ends Thursday, the 25th at midnight! Read all about these great planners here.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Reversible Lane Raglan Tunic

My first #2018makenine project is complete! And I'm only a few weeks into the year haha! This tunic was love immediately, then I tweaked it and it became even harder love. I've worn it about ten times already and it's only been done for a week, so...figure that one out.

There is nothing better than a warm, snuggly sweatshirt in the dead of winter, except of course a warm, snuggly ~stylish~ sweatshirt. After a friend's suggestion, I decided to try the Lane Raglan with a French terry, and hack it a bit for tunic length. I used an amazing cotton/modal "salt and pepper" French terry that I got from The Fabric Store. The modal gives it wonderful drape and softness, and the cotton keeps it warm. Seriously, RUN to their website and buy a million yards of it.

The "right" side of the fabric is a plain grey, but the "wrong" or looped side is a super cool black and white. When I started this tunic I decided to make the looped side the right side because I liked the colors better. When I finished the garment, I realized that it wasn't as warm as it could be since my loops were facing out (the loops are what trap warm air and keep it close to your skin). So, I grabbed my fancy new Brother PC-420PRW, flipped the tunic inside out, and topstitched down all my serged seams. Yes, even the length of the side seams all the way up to the sleeve cuff (not easy, but not impossible!).

Smooth side out

I used black thread in the bobbin and grey on top. The grey blended into my grey serger thread, and the black basically disappeared in the salt and pepper loops. The hem was done with black thread in my coverstitch, but I think it works fine both ways for a casual sweatshirt.

Loop side out

One accidental modification I made was to the sleeve length. The pattern includes directions for a thumbhole cuff, and in that case you need the sleeve to be extra long. I accidentally cut the extra long sleeve length and added a regular cuff. I could have gone back and fixed it, but after a day of wear I didn't mind the length.

After all the topstitching, the tunic is now reversible! On a cold day, I can wear it "loops in" and for a warmer one, "loops out". Either way, it pairs perfectly with my Sloomb wool leggings, which hardly ever leave my body.

To make the Lane Raglan pattern a tunic, I added 4" of length starting at the waist. I traced my pattern up until that point, then moved my pattern piece down 4", while also moving it OUT to grade out the side seams. In other words, it's 4" longer and also a few inches wider from the waist down. I made a size small. Generally, I stay away from raglans because I think they have to be tight-fitting to avoid silly looking fabric folds around the shoulders and bust. It's fine for a sweatshirt, but I can't see myself with a closet full of Lane Raglan t-shirts like a lot of sewists. I'll stick to my Union St. tees for that!

Despite my dislike of the way they fit, raglans are SO fast to sew, they're hard to resist. I could see more of these in my future if the right fabric comes along. 

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Hat and Scarf Set

Happy New Year to all my readers! Are we all setting our sights on new projects for the year? I felt pretty good on New Year's Eve when I finished my latest knit item, a hat for my daughter to match a cowl I previously knit. There was something so satisfying about making that last stitch as I watched 2017 wind down.

The hat probably looks familiar, it's the Tin Can Knits Barley pattern that I showed previously, made for myself. I'm happy to report that the sizing on this one is much better. This time I used an inexpensive cotton yarn from Jo-Ann's. I wanted to try knitting with something other than wool, and I wanted navy to go with my daughter's coat (made by me and blogged here). This yarn was okay, it didn't glide as smoothly off my bamboo needles as the wools I've used before. No idea if that's a function of the yarn or its fiber content. I'm still learning!

The cowl I made a few months ago, on a road trip to North Carolina. It was a great car project because it didn't require any new skills, or double-pointed needles for decreases like with the hat. My daughter has been wearing it to school almost every day, so I'd say she likes it! The cowl pattern is also from Tin Can Knits, it's the Oats Cowl in child size.

Believe it or not, I actually made a third Barley hat, although this one is not in a matching set. This one was for my middle daughter. It's a touch too small for my liking but per usual I didn't knit a test swatch, so don't listen to me when it comes to sizing. She should be able to last the winter in it. This version was knit with a wool/acrylic blend that I bought ages ago for practicing. I didn't love how splitty it was, but I do like the color and feel. Both my daughters get so excited when I hand them things that I knit just for them, which is an awesome feeling!

That catches me up on knitting projects! Nothing is on the needles right now as I transition back to sewing for a while. I'm dying to knit a sweater but it's not in the budget at the moment. Meanwhile I have 1000 yards of fabric stashed away, waiting to be sewn, and I received not one but TWO new sewing machines for Christmas. I should have plenty to keep me busy for a while!