Thursday, February 23, 2017

Vogue watercolor dress

I know I'm not the only one with a queue a mile long, but how often do we actually get to some of those oldies on our lists? Today I'm sharing a dress that I've had planned for almost exactly four years. I kind of don't even want to share because it's taken me so danged long to make the thing!

The first birthday I had after I learned to sew (incidentally, Saturday is my birthday, hooray?) my husband surprised me with a gift card to Mood. It was the first time I had ordered from them. I spent a solid week breaking it down bit by bit, rearranging my cart, changing yardage. The virtual shopping was as much fun as receiving the fabric. This lightweight poly/cotton jersey is from that purchase. It's super pretty and soft, and it has always been destined for Vogue 1224. I made a size 8, the smallest in the envelope.

This pattern is out of print, but it's been a long time fave over at Pattern Review. It appealed to me because of the elasticized neckline (easy for nursing) and simple design. Now that my four-years-in-the-making project is finished, however, I'm just kind of meh about it.

Here's the back and OMG IS THAT WHAT MY HAIR LOOKS LIKE?? Immediately after taking these photos I went in my house and cut my hair. Badly. And it still looks better than this two-toned disaster. I had no idea it looked THIS bad from the back. Yeesh.

Back to the dress. Reviews indicate a few issues, first that it is WAY short (true) and that the waistline doesn't seem to hit anyone in the right place. I accounted for the length problem (I added 4") but not the waistline. Whoops. I'm long-waisted, and this ended up somewhere between my natural waist and almost an empire waist. At first, this bothered me a great deal, but every time I put it on I feel better about it. Empire waistlines tend to say "maternity" to me (Lord knows I'm way over that look) and hitting at my natural waist isn't the best at the moment, since I'm still hanging on to some post-baby pooch.

I did make some other modifications. This fabric is pretty sheer. I intend for this to be a summer dress and didn't want the hassle of adding layers underneath when dressing. The pattern already provides pieces for lining the skirt. I used a nylon milliskin fabric (adding length to it as well). For the bodice, I used two layers of the main fabric. I didn't have quite enough fabric (the pattern pieces with the sleeves are huge) so on the back, it's just a partial "lining". It's not a true lining since I opted to treat the two pieces as one when sewing. I had to piece it on the back as well, you can see the CB seam (on the inside only).

I think doubling up the bodice fabric, even though it's lightweight, made the bodice drape not quite as pretty. It's kind of thick around the neckline. Maybe I'm just imagining it? I did omit the drawstring and only used elastic, since my kids inevitably mess with anything dangling off of me.

Reviewers also mentioned that the armholes were huge. To be honest, I don't know if that's true, because the directions for sewing them made NO sense to me. I did it my own way and then I did end up sewing the armhole closed farther as well.

That third line of stitching is where I sewed it closed after hemming.

So that's my 4-year dress! I think this is one of those garments that will get worn more than I think, because it will be so easy to throw on and go. I probably won't make it again because it will take too many alterations to get the pattern fixed. But at least I can cross this off my to-do list!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Quilted Halifax Hoodie

Edited to add: I forgot to mention that I altered the neckline on this version. It was cut along the line for a size small instead of medium. The funnel neck was shortened slightly to match.

This was supposed to be a post with two amazing Halifax Hoodies, but the first one ended up buried in the trunk of my van with all my other good intentions. So enjoy this one all alone! It's worth its own post anyway, I think.

The Halifax Hoodie pattern from Hey June is probably the only hoodie pattern you ever need. Tons of options for a wardrobe staple. What makes simple patterns special is often the fabric, and that's why this one is so awesome.

Ignore my "makeup" and "hairstyle" as I'm going on day two of baby M coughing all night long and puking on me from coughing too hard. And then she decides she should be awake for an hour or two. Fun times. What was I talking about? More coffee?

This is View E of the Halifax, a slanted side seam version with a funnel neck. I made a medium, but I should have made a small (I was between sizes with my bust measurement). The pattern is drafted to be outerwear, I should have just made a small and been done with it. I did end up taking in the "side seams" a little to snug it up a bit. Any future versions will definitely be a small.

The bodice is made from a quilted knit that is so soft and squishy! It's from Mood, and it's been in my stash for maybe two years? To. Die. For.

The slanted side seam looks a little wonky with the quilted lines, but it doesn't bother me enough to regret making this view. I already had the pattern cut out, so...there ya go.

The rest of the hoodie is made from navy French terry, I believe it's from Raspberry Creek Fabrics on Etsy. I used the "wrong" side or loop side as the outer fabric. Since the bodice has textured I wanted the rest of it to have texture as well. I don't think I have to say it, but this thing is so freaking cozy! Since it's technically outerwear and not a shirt, I can wear it every day, right? And it's so much more put-together than a sloppy, traditional sweatshirt.

I do have one major issue with this pattern, however. The instructions are bad. Possibly the worst I've ever seen. Frankly, I was shocked. I've sewn other Hey June patterns, it's a popular company, I couldn't believe how messy these were. I read a few blog posts and nobody said a word about it (although I found one person on Pattern Review who agreed with me, and I think we all know that PR speaks the truth). As I said, there are a lot of different views in the pattern, so the instructions attempt to skip around and lead you to the correct instructions for your view. But there are a ton of errors, steps missing, numbers incorrect, etc. Is all the info there? Maybe. I read enough to figure out it was messed up and then assembled the garment without the directions. Since my view is straightforward, this was fine, but I'm not sure about the views with the zipper or the placket. If you're not as familiar with knits as I am, you'll probably be lost. I expect you'll someday see an update to this pattern. But if you're confident with your abilities then you'll be fine, and the drafting is excellent even if the directions are not.

I don't know how many more chilly days we're going to have, since it's going to hit almost 70 this weekend (!!) but until then, I will be rotating back and forth between this Halifax and my wool one (to be blogged...whenever it gets clean!).

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Throwback Thursday Birthday Post

Five years ago today, I became a mom. Roughly four years ago, I started my blog, and AB frequently modeled the simply terrible beginner garments I sewed for her. It's a funny thing, how she grew right along with my own sewing skills. I don't often look through my blog archives, but I took a wander down memory lane in honor of AB's birthday. Cue tears (just kidding...I like having a big kid who can talk to me and say funny things and bring me my water bottle and help with the little kids...oh, and that tiny detail where older kids SLEEP).
The red coat and fur hat (top left) are now being worn by Baby M, and those two are my favorite garments from my early days. Over time, I've made fewer items for AB, but usually of higher quality and longevity. If I had to choose one all-time favorite, it's probably the Belle dress. A year and a half later and it's still a frequent dress up item.
Happy Birthday AB, I hope five is the best year yet!

For more kid's clothes, click on the "projects for kids" and "projects for baby" tags in the sidebar.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Ohhh Lulu Lacy Jasmine Bra Set

Ages and ages ago (two years, in fact, by the date on my notes) I got a bit obsessed with the idea to sew a bunch of lingerie. I say "a bunch" because it's difficult to order small quantities of notions and fabric online, and you'll get far more bang for your buck if you plan well and order a lot at once. I got halfway through my plans (the Anna Crossover Bra and a nursing tank) and lost steam. Last month, when Sarah over at Ohhh Lulu announced she was having a Valentine's Day sewalong, I used that as motivation to return to my previous plans. I'm so glad I did!

Ta-da! The prettiest thing I've ever made. Part of my 2015 plans had included making a Jasmine Bra, but I never got around to even buying the pattern. I'm super happy I have it now, because I think it's one I'll come back to over and over. It's not complicated to sew, even with stretch lace. The directions are great and Sarah's videos on her YouTube channel are even better.

I made my life infinitely easier by purchasing a bra and underwear making kit from Tailor Made Shop. They sent extra yardage of a lot of items, which was awesome. They shipped quickly and the materials are high quality. I'll definitely be using them again.

When I made the Anna Crossover Bra, I assumed I'd need a FBA because I was nursing. I learned that I didn't really, even though I'm a D cup. So this time I made a small without adjustments and it fits great! I made a muslin to confirm ahead of time, since I am nursing and my cup size varies. Sorry, no modeled photo as even in black and white and with my head cut off, it wouldn't be appropriate! The lace and mesh together are still pretty sheer.

Just listen to all the bra people out there who say you need to basically make a whole bra to get your fit down. This was my first time dealing with rings, sliders, bra back closures, etc. That's what I love about sewing, no matter how long you've been doing it there's always something new to try or learn.

Even though I had the kit, I still ended up using a few notions I'd bought at Sew Sassy Fabrics. The kit came with a hook and eye set that wasn't long enough, but luckily I had hook and eye tape so I could cut it to fit. I also didn't have a G-hook, so I used additional bra strapping on the back T-strap. The bra doesn't unhook here, I just have to pull it over my head.

The underwear looks similar to the Ohhh Lulu Claudia Hipsters pattern, but it's actually "self" drafted. I started with the free pattern from So, Zo... since I've made it a lot and know for sure that it fits. From there, I extended and straightened the sides of the back piece, and shortened and angled the front piece until it looked right.

I did make a muslin and ended up shortening the back rise to better fit the width of the stretch lace (which I believe was 6"). Plus added a center-back seam. The lace was still a little bit narrow but I improvised, and there's a back peek-a-boo triangle where I didn't have enough width.

I also, like an idiot, cut off the scallop along the leg. I was able to piece it back together but c'mon dumb! Don't sew or cut on no sleep. I think these are so cute and if more stretch lace comes my way it will be an easy sew.

I love this cute little set, even if it's mostly impractical. Now all I need are some backless tops in my summer wardrobe so I can show off the bra! Not kidding, I pinned a bunch...

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Nantucket Swimsuit

My favorite four year old is two weeks away from becoming my favorite five year old, and to celebrate she's having a pool party! Don't worry, it's indoors. But the only swimsuit she had was a cheapo one she's worn twice and the color bled all over it after the first wash. Not exactly birthday party worthy. We (I) decided on an Under the Sea theme, so it felt appropriate to conjure up some sort of Ariel-inspired bathing suit for her.

I've owned the Nantucket Swimsuit pattern for a while but haven't made it before. Now that I'm the mother of three girls, I expect it will get a lot of use. It was pretty easy to hack it into the look that I wanted. I simply colorblocked the top portion, then sewed a basting stitch and gathered the center-front. In retrospect I should have sewed a piece of elastic there, it would have been more stable, but this should do for now. If she pops the stitches I'll go back and add elastic.

The green and purple swim fabric is from Jo-Ann's. The lining is pink milliskin from Girl Charlee, which I bought ages ago. It was damaged by glue during shipping and has retained some wonky stains, so it was perfect for a swimsuit lining where nobody will see it.

I started out using my serger for construction, but I quickly remembered the issue with that. On a swimsuit, the fabric is stretched to the max and my stitches always show through. If someone has a solution, please let me know, but I ended up doing most of the construction and topstitching on my sewing machine. A three-step zig-zag worked way better for topstitching than a regular zig-zag. I would have preferred to use my coverstitch to topstitch but I didn't have matching cone thread. The back binding is suuuuuper wonky, it got stretched and wavy. I started to rip it out, but zig-zag+three layers of swim fabric=a whole lotta nope. It looks worse laying flat than it does when it's on and moving around. I also think it's kind of just the way this pattern is drafted, that low scoop back doesn't look perfectly flat on many tester photos either. Next time I may raise the scoop.


3 step zig-zag

I ended up making a 4T chest size with a 5T length, but did take it in a little bit at the side seams. I also sewed the lining and outer separately and and then basted them WS together so that the seams would be hidden, this was different than the directions and I'm not really sure why. It wouldn't have been much harder. It also gives you a chance to fit it before sewing, you can fit the lining and then work on the outer shell. Other than that, the directions were great, per usual. I promise, anyone with patience can make a swimsuit. This is my fourth or fifth one, I finally tried on my old Bombshell swimsuit the other day, in anticipation of the party. It stills fits great, two babies later and it hides all the lumps without making me feel like a frumpy mom.

Grab your own Nantucket or one of many swim patterns from Peek-a-Boo Pattern Shop. I am an affiliate but my opinion on this pattern is my own, and I purchased it myself.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Jamie Jeans version 2

If you follow me on Instagram then you already got a sneak peek (or ten) of these jeans! I've been working on them on and off eternity. I had some fit issues and then know how it is. So I'm thrilled that they are finally done and, gasp, wearable!

Side note...Indiana weather is drunk right now. Earlier this week the temps were in the single digits, today it's going to be 64. So I apologize for the sloppy half-frozen backyard! And also my neighbor's unfinished-for-six-months shed roof.

After M was born I realized it had been two years since I'd worn regular jeans. I thrifted some and was more than a little aggravated at how poorly they fit. Because obviously, me-made is a million times better than store bought. I almost chose to make Jalie 2908 but decided not to reinvent the wheel and went with Jamie Jeans, from Named, since I've made that pattern before.

This time, however, my fabric was quite different. My previous pair were made from a super-stretchy denim that almost felt like a knit. This time I went with a more traditional stretch denim (from Mood, almost 4 years old!). Using the handy chart in my Sewist's Swatch Book, I determined that the stretch percentage was only about 10%. The pattern calls for 15-20%.

I went ahead and made the same size as before, 6, believing that I'd probably be able to make it work since I had removed a ton of fabric from the legs with my stretchy fabric. Thankfully it did work, but I had some fit challenges first.

Length: These are drafted with long legs. I'm 5'4" with short legs, an inseam of 28 1/2". Last time I cut off 6" at the bottom hem. This time, I removed 3" from the paper pattern at the knee, assuming I could remove the rest from the hem later. But a friend pointed out that having extra length at the bottom was distorting the leg during fitting, so I cut most of it off.

Calf: A shoutout to my husband for helping me diagnose the main problem I had. There was bunching throughout the leg, and I finally figured out the calf was too tight, pushing the fabric up around my knee. Once I let out the calf (from the 3/8" seam allowance to 1/8"), the wrinkles went away. I also consulted this jeans fit guide at Closet Case Files, so now I know how to correct the paper pattern the right way. Who knew a mother of three who never works out could have thick calves?

A few horizontal lines, perhaps a shallower crotch curve is needed. 

Waistband: I removed a wedge from center back for a better fit. I was still able to ease the waistband to the pants without changing them as well.

Not wrinkle-free, but better than it was. Possible low butt adjustment needed.

I did not use the pattern directions at all. I followed the sewalong at Indie Sew, which I highly recommend! You'll see below that I followed one of their tips, to NOT topstitch the fly, which I think was good advice.

Even though I was scared to do it, I opted for contrast topstitching everywhere else. I used my vintage Singer 15-91, which is a beautiful, efficient machine. I still don't have great control over the speed, it's hard for me to regulate with the pedal for some reason and it can go pretty quickly. There were times I had to rip out my topstitching and do it again. I think I sewed the waistband three times to get it just right. The results were worth it, though.

I also used my Singer buttonhole attachment for the first time! I watched some YouTube videos and it was surprisingly easy. I think I'll write a separate post about it later.

When I finished these up, I had a panic attack realizing that they were too short. Nothing like cutting off 3" and then ending up with short jeans to make you bang your head against the wall. But a quick Google search schooled me to the proper length for skinny jeans, which is apparently at the top of the ankle. A happy accident on my part! Now I just feel old and out of the loop about fashion.

I'm pretty happy with my first "real" pair of jeans. I have enough fabric left for another pair of pants, I'm considering some Thurlow Trousers since the low stretch percentage would probably work better with a wider leg pant.

And just for funsies, I used some leftover poplin from this dress for my pocket bags. Fun pocket bags, a customized fit, I mean really, why doesn't everyone sew for themselves?

Need your own Sewist's Swatch Book? Save 20% with the code RESOLVE20. Valid through Jan. 20th and applicable for all versions of A Sewist's Notebook!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Kids Can Sew! A New Sewing Machine

As Christmas approached, my husband and I realized we didn't have a "big" gift for our oldest daughter. We debated a bike, but opted to save that for her birthday next month. One night while falling asleep (when all my best ideas happen) it came to me--a sewing machine! So obvious, right?

I remembered reading a review from Amy at Peek-a-Boo Pattern Shop, after she had bought her daughter a machine. We ended up going with the same one, this Janome. This is a half-sized machine and is basically the cutest thing ever. It comes in a variety of colors, you don't have to pick pink ;)

One thing I read was to avoid toy machines, which are usually chainstitch machines and won't really sew real seams. This Janome could be a kid's machine, or a good compact travel machine for simple projects. It has 10 stitches, reverse, and a unique pressed foot that prevents anyone from sticking their fingers under the needle. AB is turning five next month, but she can be a bit absentminded, and I feel better knowing the presser foot is guarded.

The biggest con you'll see about this machine is the lack of a light. For the price, especially not knowing how much she'll sew, I can live without a light. I just put a lamp next to her. One other thing to note is that it only works with a certain size needle (it's escaping me at the moment but it was a size 14 I think). Obviously, it's not going to sew 10 layers of denim or anything, but I have other machines for that purpose.

I did thread the machine and bobbin for her, those things might be too tricky for a 5 year old. But once we were set up (which didn't take long) AB sat down and sewed her first item without much trouble. I sat with her and helped her guide the fabric properly and place her hands in the right place. We made a simple flannel blanket for H's new baby doll.

Normally AB gets easily frustrated or bored with new things. I was pleasantly surprised that we were able to sew this blanket together without either of us devolving into tears. I can't quite explain the feeling of sharing something I love so much with my own offspring. It was kind of surreal and amazing and I hope it's something she continues to like as she gets older. If not, that's okay too, I do have two other daughters behind her ;)