Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Papercut Patterns Palooza Part 3: Soma Swimsuit

Here we are, the last entry in my Papercut Patterns Palooza! You be the judge of whether or not I saved the best for last, because I love my Pinnacle Tops and Pneuma Tanks just as much as my Soma Swimsuits.


Like the other Papercut patterns, the Soma is packed with options. First up is View 2, a "bustier style" with pieces that form cups, and no back closure. I have a 33" bust and made a size XS. I think the fit is okay, but it would be better with an underwire, if I could figure out how to do that. Following Lauren at Lladybird's idea, I used two layers of swim lining for more padding/coverage. I'm not entirely happy with that decision, and if this wasn't a print you would be seeing a lot of wavy seams. It got super bulky.


Speaking of the print, it's amazing! The Fabric Fairy (my FAVE place for swim knits) stocked this Banana Leaves swim knit months ago and I tried to resist it. I told myself I didn't need another swimsuit this season (I already had the neon green swim knit that you'll see in a minute). But when I saw that fateful "Almost Gone!" on the website, I decided I had to have it. But alas, I waited too long, and it had sold out by the time I went to buy it. I frantically emailed Megan, the owner, and begged for any yardage she had left. They don't call her the Fabric Fairy for nothing! Megan let me know she had a 21" piece left and it was mine if I wanted it. I paired it with her suggested solid colored green, called Banana Leaf Green, and used that for the lining.


The instructions for the suit were excellent, although I recommend paying careful attention to your notches in order to properly construct the cups. I did not topstitch the seams because I was afraid of making them even more wavy, and I did follow Lladybird's other piece of advice, to burrito the triangle piece so that all seams would be fully enclosed. I'm not sure why that wasn't part of the directions, except that it was pretty tricky (not impossible).


The other change I made was to use extra straps to make the back look like a Pneuma Tank. I am posting the above photo despite my own hang-ups about how my post-three-kids body looks, because I do want to mention how cheeky the bottoms are. I have a size 38" hip which is between an XS and S so maybe they wouldn't be so skimpy if I had sized up instead of down.


I also wanted to make View 1, and had this neon green swim knit (from Mood) in my stash for a while. Full TMI disclosure: those are *not* my nipples showing through, even though it definitely looks like it. This view has a dart and I just did not get as smooth of a dart as I could have. It looks pointy and not really flattering. I also doubled up with this fabric and I think I should have used a proper swim lining instead, to make it more opaque in general (which is what I did on the bottoms).


I did insert cups into this suit, but once it was finished and I tested it out in our hot tub, it was stupidly obvious that there were cups. The fabric was even more sheer when wet. I ended up unpicking the underbust elastic and pulling out the cups.


Instead of using FOE under the bust, I used a thicker picot elastic. For visual balance, I used the same elastic on the waist of the bottoms, which did essentially raise the rise a touch (because I wasn't folding over and encasing elastic). The cut of the leg is the same, so they're still cheeky, but they are a bit taller. I did end up shortening the strap elastic to perfect the fit, but that will depend on your elastic. There is a sewalong and I believe it was there that I read how you should not over-tighten the straps, because that will cause the top of the triangle piece to collapse and not lay flat. So, it's a tricky part to balance.


I think the style lines on this view are super cool, especially the back, but this particular fabric is kind of a miss. I've generally had better results with swim prints than with solids, unless the solid is black. I think from now on I'll stick to prints, they just hide stuff better.

The fun part is, I still have one more view I could make with this pattern! I wish I needed 100 swimsuits but alas, just hanging out in my hot tub after the kids are in bed doesn't necessitate it. I enjoy making swimsuits and the majority of both of these were made on my regular machine with a zig-zag or three step zig-zag stitch. There is certainly a learning curve, but View 1 of this pattern would be a great intro suit.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Papercut Patterns Palooza Part 2: Pneuma Tank

Welcome back to Papercut Palooza, my attempt to catch up on all my Papercut projects that haven't yet made their way to the blog. Today, it's the Pneuma Tank!


The Pneuma is pretty unique and easily recognizable in the sewing world. This tank top has a built-in bra, a drapey overlay with open sides, and has elastic straps in a cool crisscross back. I've made two of these and cannot wait for the hot summer weather to be here for these!


I know I'm not the only one with super thin, lightweight knits in my stash. I always fall in love with them, and then never know what to make that can be so see-through. Until now! The Pneuma is absolutely perfect, because the bra is a feature of the tank and is meant to be seen. Doing tree pose on a tree (please tell me you've watched Free Solo and get that reference...), hiking through the woods, or just getting ice cream, this top is awesome.


I made a size XXS, which is typical for me in Papercut. However, I have wide hips and was concerned about keeping the proper drape, so I slashed and spread both the front and back pieces. I added a total of 2" of sweep at the hem. I did not hem the underarms or the bottom because lazy, but also because it would've been a nightmare on this lightweight rayon knit. The bra band was modified for 3/4" picot elastic, instead of 1" enclosed elastic, because that's what I had on hand. The straps are black bra strapping from Sew Sassy Fabrics.


The bra fabric is double brushed poly that I've had for years, and couldn't figure out what to do with it. I know it's become all the rage, but I honestly hate polyester. I can handle it in this small amount though!


The second version I made, I wanted to experiment with the hem, but I'm still not sure exactly how I want to finish it.


I straightened the side seams a bit compared to my previous version, so that the hem would be straight at the bottom instead of curved up. My idea was to add a band to the bottom, to prevent the top from floating down during exercise. But my rayon knit doesn't have good recovery, and I abandoned that idea.


The bra portion of this top is leftover banana leaves swim knit from The Fabric Fairy. I also made a swimsuit, which will be on the blog next week. The fabric is sold out, which is too bad, because it's amazing!


I again modified the bra elastic finishing to use what I had on hand that matched. I used picot elastic on the front and underarms. The straps are again from Sew Sassy Fabrics. The rayon portion is unhemmed like before. This top is a SUPER quick sew without the hemming.

What are you waiting for? Go buy this pattern!

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Papercut Patterns Palooza Part 1: Pinnacle Top

Ever look at your pile of unblogged items and realize half of them are from one pattern company? Just me? I’m declaring April the month of Papercut Patterns. I have two Soma Swimsuits, two Pneuma Tanks, and two Pinnacle Tops to blog! So let’s get to it.


Somehow, I overlooked the Pinnacle Top when the pattern first launched. I don’t know how, because it’s 100% up my alley. I love dolman sleeves and geometric details. I also love versatile patterns, and this one can be made in a woven or a knit. A sweatshirt or a woven top from one pattern? Count me in!

Yes, I'm standing inside a tree. Apparently, there used to be a 
fence here (the barbed wire is in the bottom left 
corner of the photo!) and the tree grew around it.

First up is the woven top, which is View 1. This is a cropped shirt with short dolman sleeves and it has no closures. View 2 is the same top, but with a higher neckline and a tie opening in the back so it can go over your head.


I had saved an image on Pinterest that I fell in love with, and after lots of searching I realized this pattern was pretty darn close to it.


The shorts are coming too eventually, but we're not quite into shorts weather yet. The top came out so amazing and looks just like my Pinspiration. The fabric I used is Avery Slub Linen from La Mercerie and I have it in FOUR colors. It is THAT amazing. This rust-red colorway is super pretty, and a lot different from anything else in my wardrobe.


View 1 was actually my second version. First, I made the sweatshirt, View 3. I had some pink French terry in my stash that I had originally bought for a Brunswick muslin, but I was so excited about that pattern that I didn't muslin. This French terry is a cotton/poly blend from Jo-Ann's, and normally I would turn my snooty nose up at something like that. But, it has a decent amount of stretch and recovery, is lightweight, and has held up so far through LOTS of wear and washing.


I used the reverse side of the fabric, the loopy side, for the triangles, the neckband, and the sleeve cuffs, just for some visual interest. It would be super fun to use a contrast fabric for those pieces.


View 3 is the same as View 1, except it has a bottom band, longer sleeve, and sleeve cuffs. Both of my tops are size XXS, which still includes plenty of ease and seems to be my normal Papercut size.


The way the Pinnacle is constructed is pretty clever. There is no shoulder seam. The bodice/sleeve piece is one giant piece that folds over your shoulder. There is a simple center back seam, then you join the fronts using the triangle pieces. I found the directions to be great in explaining it all, but you should definitely baste to make sure your triangles match up correctly. Do keep in mind, because the bodice is one long flipped piece, you can't use a directional fabric for those pieces (which is probably why you don't see many prints if you search for images of this pattern).


View 1, the woven top, is finished with a facing and topstitching. I did not interface my facing because I was worried about affecting the drape of the top. That might have been a mistake as I do have some waves along the neckline, but they're minor. I think next time, I might use a walking foot to attach my triangle pieces. I didn't think about it until I was sewing, but those seam lines are on the bias and it can be easy to stretch them accidentally. The point of my V didn't come out super sharp but I'm not sure how noticeable it is.


Elephant in the room: View 1 is low-cut AND cropped. That's a lotta skin. I'm wearing a cami in my photos but that was more for warmth than modesty. All the bras I tried were visible without a cami. Naturally, that means I'm working on a bra to purposefully wear with this top. The fabric is SO dreamy that I want it near my skin, I don't really want a cami underneath, especially once the weather warms up. So stayed tuned to my IG for however that works out.


I love, love, love, love this pattern. I've been reaching for both of these tops in different situations, and I can't wait to make more!

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Sewing Room Tour

When it came time for our family of five to upgrade homes, a sewing space was a high priority. We knew we needed either a four bedroom home, or three bedrooms with a basement. I am incredibly lucky that my husband supports my love of sewing, and that he agreed I needed a good space to work. This house is perfect for a lot of reasons, a big one being my new sewing room!


The layout of our house is a bit unusual. We have a lofted area accessible by a spiral staircase (really). The loft contains one bedroom, an attic storage space, and a small landing. We have a baby gate across the bottom of the stairs to keep the kids out, which means the sewing area is off limits without a grown up.

I carried every stick of furniture up those stairs

Painting this room was my first priority when we moved. In fact, it’s the only room we painted.

Listing photo

After painting (temporary
sewing station!)

Given free creative reign, I chose pink! It’s bright, cheery, and makes me happy. The color is Rosy Outlook from Sherwin-Williams. I can’t say I recommend the paint, but the color is beautiful. There are actually pink flecks in the predominately blue carpet, which perfectly match the walls.


After settling on pink walls, I chose a specific color scheme for the room and have stuck to it almost religiously. The colors are pink, gold, black, and white. If there was a piece I had to have that didn't fit these colors, I spray painted it either gold or white (the cork boards below were spray painted on the edges).



The furniture is almost exclusively from Ikea. The one exception is the black and white chair, which was bought second-hand and reupholstered by myself. (Full source list at the end of the post.) The only piece I had before we moved in was the Expedit cube shelf/desk. It was a Craigslist find many years ago and we nabbed it for the super low price of $80 or something crazy like that. If you followed me before our move then you might be wondering about the Espresso colored Expedit I used to have...this is it! This particular style is no longer sold by Ikea, and I knew I couldn't wait forever to find another good deal on Craigslist just for a white version. I made the absolutely ludicrous decision to paint it white. Since we had to disassemble the shelf to move it, it made sense to paint it after the move and before putting it back together.



It. Took. Forever. It was such a terrible project. I followed this tutorial on Pinterest for painting laminate Ikea furniture. The primer from the tutorial was recommended over and over for laminate but it was such a pain. It was very runny and when it dried, it flaked into a million tiny pieces. I am incredibly lucky that I had basically an empty room to use for painting. My supplies were all over the place and I could work in small increments as I had time. And it took a lot of time. I'm going to skip to the end of this painful memory and tell you that I'm happy it's done, but I will never do it again and I can't really recommend it as the results aren't stellar.



ANYWAY. With the now-white Expedit as the anchor piece, I was able to plan the rest of the layout. There was a lot of measuring and browsing Ikea and remeasuring. I knew I wanted three machines out at once, a pressing station, and pattern storage. I tried to be very conscious of how I could most efficiently use my space.


One spot I had to work around was an exterior door that leads to a balcony. I don't spend much time out there since I'm rarely without children, but I didn't want to block the door. I've been told that two owners back, a painter lived here, and she's the one who painted faux woodgrain and hinges on it (our garage door has the same).


I also had to plan around a very large closet with double mirrored sliding doors. The mirrored doors are AMAZING to have in a sewing room, I'm not sure I ever would have thought of it and I'm so glad they were already here. The closet holds all the random ugly stuff that I want easily accessible, but out of sight. The ironing board is stored here, along with printed patterns that I don't think I'll ever use again. The pressing station has a small pad that I made myself, which I use most often instead of the big ironing board. Bonus: it matches the chair I upholstered!


Ikea allows you to buy table tops separately from legs or drawers so you can get just what you want. I ended up putting a drawer set and one leg under the Expedit desk instead of the piece that came with it. That's the beauty of buying everything from Ikea, it all works together. I absolutely love having the drawer set under the cutting board, there's plenty of storage here.


After putting in all the furniture, it was a slow build to finish the space with everything you see on the walls. There was a lot of trial and error, experiments, and daydreaming, but each piece was carefully chosen and sparks joy for me.



If you had asked me a few years ago, I never would've thought I'd end up with such a beautiful, amazing space. We've been in this home ten months and I'm still pinching myself. I wish everyone could have what I have!


I've tried to list everything I could in this source list, but please comment if there's something I forgot! Please note, Amazon links are affiliate links.


four drawer sets: Ikea Alex
gold/white lamp: Lowe's
gold jar with lid: Michael's
black/gold tape dispenser: Target (similar)
corner desk: Ikea Linnmon with Godvin legs (there are two legs that fit into the pre-drilled holes of the Linnmon tabletops, these are the heavier duty ones and I prefer these)
black and white chair: thrifted, reupholstered with fabric from Jo-Ann's
small white vase: Hobby Lobby
macrame hanging: made by me, supplies from Jo-Ann's
pegboard: Ikea Skadis+accessories
picture ledge: Ikea Mosslanda
succulents: Hobby Lobby (one on shelf in white pot), Amazon (loose ones)
succulent vases: Micheals, spray-painted white
succulent with face: TJ Maxx
wall succulents: Amazon
letterboard: Amazon
hanging succulent holder: Target
clock: Ikea Stomma
desk: Ikea Linnmon with Godvin legs
white desk chair: Ikea Snille
trash can: old, possibly Target
photo holder: super old, possibly Target
Moonrise Kingdom artwork: Arthur's Plaid Pants
The Office artwork: gift
hanging pattern holding bar: Ikea Fintorp (this exact style seems to be discontinued)
rolled pattern holder: Amazon
cube shelf/desk: Ikea Expedit (discontinued), painted white; now called a Kallax
storage boxes: Ikea Tjena
magazine storage box: Ikea Tjena
pressing table desk: Ikea Linnmon with Godvin legs
pink lamp: gift
pegboard: Ikea Skadis+accessories
white wall shelf: from previous owner
painting: done by me
cork boards: Ikea Vaggis spray painted gold
sewing caddy: vintage, gift

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.