Thursday, October 30, 2014

Fear Fabric Challenge reveal!


Thank goodness for the Fear Fabric Challenge this month! I'm not sure I would have sewn anything if I didn't have this goal in mind. Dealing with my husband's hospital stay, and now with a bad cold, sewing has been on the back burner this month. I'm glad I had an excuse to push myself and try something new. And here it is!


My Fear Fabric is a lovely black crochet knit from Girl Charlee (they're sold out of black, but here are some other colors). Because I was pretty scared of it, I paired it with a simple pattern, the Fiona Cardigan from Style Arc. The Fiona was the freebie in June, so I received it with my Jennifer City Shorts that I ordered back then.


I decided to cut the bands for the edges (and the sleeve cuffs) out of a plain black knit. These sections are all two layers, which would have looked kind of strange in the lace knit. I also thought it would give me some more stability to include a regular knit. I also just like how it looks!


You can't tell from the photos, but the outside band and the facing are two different knits, and therefore two different shades of black. I didn't really think about how the facing would fold back and show the underneath side, but I didn't have a choice due to fabric limitations. Both black knits are also from Girl Charlee. One is plain cotton jersey and one is a cotton/spandex knit.

Before I started sewing, I did a couple of tests on scraps so I could adjust my serger settings. I found that it helped to turn up my differential feed, and to widen the stitch width. Thankfully, the lace is a cotton/nylon blend, so I was able to press any waviness into submission. If it had been 100% synthetic I don't know if it would have worked as well. I did need to use my Clover clips to hold the fabric together, pins just weren't cutting it.


One note about this particular pattern: the line drawing doesn't show it, but there is a center-back seam. Normally I would be excited about that, since it allows for a better fit, but since my lace essentially has vertical stripes, I cut my back piece on the fold instead. I didn't want to break up the lines. In the future I'll definitely insert a seam there.

When I feel like garbage, you have to deal
with far-away faceless photos.

The entire cardigan was sewn on my serger in one day, which is FAST for me. It would have been faster if I hadn't screwed up which part was the center back of the band and which part was the side seam. Black is also kind of hard for me to SEE which made the work slower. The instructions did recommend topstitching the band (although the SA directions called it "flat stitching") but I skipped that. My bands were staying put without topstitching, and unless I can use my coverstitch I generally don't topstitch knits.


The fabric turned out to be just as difficult as I expected. It got caught on everything and I found myself filing my nails halfway through so it wouldn't snag. Using a serger helped, of course, but even then it had a tendency to be spongy and move a bit. In retrospect, it probably would have helped to add clear elastic to the shoulder seams, but I was concerned about it showing through the lace. I did also use a wider seam allowance (1/2" instead of the pattern's 1/4") when sewing the band to the lace bodice. That part had three layers and it was easier to make sure I caught them all with a larger seam allowance.

Another year, another fear fabric conquered! I have a bunch of the lace left over, so I might make a few scarves out of it. If you're related to me, you might find one under the Christmas tree with your name on it :)


Remember, you have until Friday at midnight to upload a photo of your Fear Fabric item to the Flickr group, for a chance to win a $35 gift card to Girl Charlee! Check out all the details in my announcement post, here. I hope you were inspired to try something new this month and conquer your fears!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Project Runway finale!

Can I repeat how happy I am that there was no final challenge right before Fashion Week? I mean, three of the designers made new pieces anyway, without being forced to do so. It just made the episode much more enjoyable to watch without worrying whose life-long dream would be crushed last-second for the sake of drama.

Spoilers ahead...

Highlight: I was pleasantly surprised by all the collections. Normally one designer totally misses the mark for me, but that didn't happen this time. It was a nice show.

Lowlight: That said, there weren't quite as many "wow" moments as I would have liked. The majority fell into the category of what Sean called "normal clothes". No one said this specifically, but it felt pretty commercial (Amanda and Char). When you think about past winners like Seth Aaron or even Michelle, there was a bit of fantasy missing.

Best collection: I liked Amanda's collection more than I thought I would, and I think it's due to Zac's suggestion to pile on all the jewelry she had. It did temper her hippy-dippy vibe a bit. In solid colors or single prints, a lot of her dresses would work in my life. 

However, Sean's collection was my favorite, and I agree with his win. He did have the most ideas, the most "wow" and the best show.

Worst collection: Char's and Kini's were just sort of meh for me. Kini did some interesting things but nothing seemed particularly wearable OR show-stopping. Really hated Char's Kleenex box dress that Nina singled out as well.

Best line of the night: "Sean, congratulations, you are the winner of Project Runway!" --Heidi

That's that for this season! Kind of forgettable, really, perhaps with the exception of Amanda returning and doing so well. Did anyone watch the kid designer show, Threads? I've got it on my DVR and can't decide how much attention to pay to it.


Next week: Drama at the reunion show (as always!). The question is, how much is manufactured through not-so-subtle editing? Also, All Stars!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Crazy Print Leggings

"You know you look like you belong in the 80's?"

Apparently my husband meant this as an insult, but I guess he doesn't know that the 80's are totally, like, so in right now. 


I'm not sure I can get into the whole pants-with-prints trend that's happening now, but I can deal with wild leggings. Especially if they only take an hour to make! 



The pattern is McCall's 6137, in XS, which I've made three? other times before (here, here, here). I've even transferred my tissue paper pattern to sturdy cardstock, so consider this a TNT! As a reminder, I've shortened the original in a few places (I'm 5'4"), lowered the rise, and removed a small wedge from CB. Every time I make these I think that I need to lower the rise even more...but I like a low rise. Just keep that in mind.


The fabric is a nylon/spandex knit from Girl Charlee (only 5 yards left at the time I'm writing this!). I ordered it specifically for this pattern, and it worked out perfectly. This type of fabric could be used for a swimsuit (with a lining) so it's not particularly warm as leggings. Okay, it's not warm at all. Normally I prefer more practicality, but every now and then I choose form over function.


The only tricky part of sewing this up was trying to arrange the motifs in a non-bullseye kind of way around the center front. But after staring at it for a while...I kind of just went for it. I'm not the type of person to wear leggings as pants (and you shouldn't be either!) so I'll likely always have a tunic or dress covering the top portion (you can read about the sweater I'm wearing here).


I sewed the seams with my serger and the hems with my coverstitch. I also sewed the waistband elastic to the top edge with my serger (knife disabled!) and then turned it down to the inside and coverstitched over the raw edge. Sooooooo much faster than making a casing!


Finally, make sure you always sew a tag into leggings, it can be tricky to tell the front from the back!


If you haven't tried this pattern yet, what are you waiting for?! Or do you have another leggings pattern that you prefer?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Prewashing my Fear Fabric

A Fear Fabric can be scary for lots of reasons. Maybe it's expensive, hard to sew, or the care of it will be too difficult. Last week I posted a photo of my Fear Fabric on Instagram and admitted a huge roadblock--prewashing!


This is a terrible overexposed photo of my fabric, to show you the open spaces in the knit. I don't know nothing about no knitting, but in my ignorant terms I'd call this a sort of crocheted lace? I've only had one run-in with this type of fabric before, and when I casually threw it in the washer/dryer it tore. Whomp whomp. I definitely did not want that to happen again!


After my plea for help on Instagram, Girl Charlee responded that I should try using a wash bag. My plan had been to hand wash, but I liked the wash bag idea much better (I'm lazy). I found the above bag at Wal-Mart for about $4. It was kind of tricky, because most of the bags they had were small lingerie bags, not ideal for 2 yards of knit fabric. This bag is big enough, but it's divided into 4 compartments. Luckily, the "walls" were mesh as well and I was able to smash them down and fit in the fabric. Yay! If I couldn't do that, I probably would have just cut out the walls.


Hopefully this will do the trick! The bag is in the wash as I type. The fabric is a cotton/nylon blend and I definitely want to take care of any possible shrinkage from the cotton. Even if you plan to hand wash a garment, if you don't preshrink natural fibers, they can shrink with steam/pressing. Bad news bears! 

A big thank you to Girl Charlee for coming to my rescue and for sponsoring the Fear Fabric Challenge. Read all the details about the challenge and giveaway here. And check out the first entry, a fantastic Halloween costume, in the Flickr group!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Project Runway rehash!

Tim Gunn was on Sesame Street this week. It was awesome. He played a character named Bill Ding (although Elmo kept calling him Mr. Gunn, which was hilarious) and he was some sort of architecture critic. He was judging houses that the Three Little Pigs were building, which of course kept getting blown down by the Big Bad Wolf. Every time the Wolf blew down a house, Tim ended up completely disheveled. Yes, friends, Tim Gunn had his hair askew on national television.


I couldn't find a photo online so you'll have to accept a picture of my TV. And yes, I DVR Sesame Street. Don't judge.

Spoilers ahead...

Highlight: Rome! Beautiful, in such a strange way. So many of the places they visited had a dark and deadly past, despite being feats of  architecture for that time period.

No challenges! No eliminations! Wow, that was refreshing.

Lowlight: I HATE how little time they have to get ready for Fashion Week. Five weeks? Didn't contestants on older seasons get something like 12 weeks? It also didn't seem fair that Kini got his visit from Tim weeks before Sean did.

Best mini-collection: I was crazy about Kini's when I saw it in progress, but then Sean's ended up being so much cooler. I like the fringe, and his silhouettes are interesting and innovative. Kini has a chance if he changes up his styling. My husband and I both were appalled by the amount of eye shadow they were applying during Kini's makeup consultation.

Worst mini-collection: I was meh on both Amanda and Char. I don't think either of them can/will win. There were pieces I liked (this tunic jacket ugggghh WANT), but the collections weren't wow-ing me. I think Char's final show will be totally haphazard.

Best line of the night: "Nina's not the dictator of fashion, she can't tell me what to do." --Sean


I'm excited to see the collections, but sad for Kini that he's in such a bad place right before Fashion Week. I know they're being hard on him because the judges are rooting for him to win. But I almost died when they flippantly told him to lose the coat. My heart! I can't even imagine how many hours went into that thing.

For once, I don't hate any of the designers in the finale. I think it's clearly a race between Kini and Sean. Simplicity versus tailoring. Either could win, based on whatever whims the judges feel like indulging that day. Your thoughts? Are you rooting for someone in particular?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Grey and White Stripe Renfrew

How is it possible that I've only made two Renfrews? You can see my first one here. I made today's version a few weeks (months?!) ago, and I've been wearing my two constantly. Like, never-make-it-to-the-hanger-straight-out-of-the-wash-onto-my-body kind of stuff.


For some reason I thought it would be a good idea to take photos after running errands in the rain. Sorry I look like a wet dog. Also, growing out bangs sucks.

Anyway! The fabric I used is a cotton/spandex knit from Girl Charlee. I can't find it online anymore--sorry! It's a good weight, though I realized when I was finished that it's not completely opaque. As long as I leave the neon blue nude bra, we're cool.

Stripe-matching!

This is a size 4, with short sleeves and a V-neck. On my first version, I removed quite a wedge from center-back using this tutorial. I got it in my brain that I could stand to remove a bit more (I have pretty narrow shoulders) so I took another wedge out. I think that was overdoing it, and it's a little tight across the back. It looks fine in these photos, but the first shirt is much more comfortable in terms of movement.


I'm always impressed by what a quick sew the Renfrew manages to be. It usually takes me 2 days (one to cut, one to sew) but that is fast by my standards. The only fiddly bit with this view is the V-neck, but I think it's worth it for that extra touch of femininity. One tip for the V-neck: use a scrap piece of knit interfacing (I got mine at Jo-Ann's) on the point of the V (on the shirt bodice) and it will keep your fabric from stretching all crazy. I also recommend basting the neck binding around the point before serging.


This wasn't on purpose, but I did manage to match the stripes on the bodice and sleeve.


...y'know, on one side only. Le sigh. Oh wait, I don't care! Sometimes it's nice not being terribly picky.

What else is there to say? I love this pattern and I've traced off the 3/4-length sleeve and scoop-neck bodice to make a few for fall/winter.


We're halfway through October, have you picked out a Fear Fabric yet? You could win a $35 gift card to Girl Charlee!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Vintage Pressing Tools

Proper sewing seems to require a lot of tools. One that I've managed to live without is a clapper. Most of the clothing I make is loose in silhouette, or a knit. Tailoring isn't something I do on a regular basis. But conquering jeans has been on my to-do list for quite some time, and I know from my experience with hemming jeans that it was about time I got a clapper.

My five year wedding anniversary was last week. My husband and I usually stick to the traditional gifts (paper, cotton, leather and flowers so far). Five years is wood. So guess what I casually suggested he get me? Along with a clapper, I also mentioned a wood tailor's board (like this one from Jo-Ann's). Being the amazing gift-giver that he is, my husband totally floored me with what he ended up buying.


Not just pressing tools, VINTAGE pressing tools! Yeah, I was drooling. 







He found both of these items on eBay. Even though they're used, both look almost new, especially the pressing board. I love love love the box and instruction booklet that it came in, they're so cool!






Armed with these tools, I might be inspired enough to make another wool coat, even though I kind of swore them off after my last experience. Maybe an Albion for me?

Do you have any vintage tools? Honestly, I never even thought of checking eBay for this kind of thing, random finds at garage sales are more my speed.