Friday, May 31, 2013

Me Made May: Week 5

If I had more underwear I could go a month without doing laundry. That was the point of Me Made May, right? To discover a factoid like that?

1. Thurlows! 2. Simplicity 2594 3. Thurlows again! plus unblogged lace back tank

I wore my Thurlows twice because the first time (Saturday) it turned cold, and I had to change into long pants halfway through the day. Love love love those Thurlows. This week was pretty slow for us, I didn't leave the house much, so these clothes definitely skew casual. Notice day 3 (Monday) I wore TWO me-mades. I think this was the first time I've worn a complete outfit that I made (not counting dresses). It was a cool feeling and I'll definitely be working on more separates moving forward.

Photo 1: polo from...somewhere I don't remember
Photo 2: jeans from The Limited
Photo 5: tank from Charlotte Russe
Photo 6: tank from Target
Photo 7: jeans from The Gap

Since this is the last week for MMM, and we have no Project Runway, I'm toying with a few different ideas for what I post about on Fridays. Help me decide! In place of my MMM badge in my sidebar, you'll find a poll with the possibilities. Enter your vote and I promise I will abide by the will of the masses! Here's a brief explanation of the choices:

Pinterest tutorials: I'll take a tutorial found on Pinterest, try it out, and post my success or failure.
Product reviews: I'll review a sewing notion or tool.
Closet evaluation: An overhaul of my closet, what I have, what I need, etc.
Sewing contests: A roundup of any current sewing contests and/or giveaways I can find!

Speaking of the end of MMM, how'd you do with your goal? Let's look back at mine:

I, Beth Byrge of 110 Creations, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '13. I endeavor to wear at least one handmade or repurposed item each day for the duration of May 2013.

Aaaaaand I did it! Is that braggy? Sorry. But I'm proud of myself for making it a month in me-made clothing. Although, I can't say I'm sad to go back to some of my RTW stuff. I am sad to not have to take pictures of my outfits every day...not. Remember when saying "not" was cool? It's only a matter of time. It'll come back around, now that my generation is approaching 30 and will soon be desperate for youth again. Er. Today is exactly 10 years since my high school graduation...I think the sheer weight of that thought is crushing my brain.

I know that next year I can set a goal of no repeats and probably make it. Unless it snows for the whole month, which is possible in Indiana. And now for a complete round-up, in case you missed any weeks! (Click the photo to go to that week's post.)

What was Me Made May like for you? Fun? Trouble? Did you make it or have to give it up?

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Sewing Project: Thurlow Shorts part 2--troubles

Is it blasphemous of me to say I don't like Sewaholic Patterns? Probably. It's especially unfair since this is the only one I've ever tried! I don't know how long it should take someone to make a pair of shorts (see my week of muslin fitting and flat pattern alterations here) but it took me two weeks to get these finished. I made approximately 1,354 mistakes along the way, but I hope that by sharing them, I can help someone else avoid the same swearing screaming hair pulling frustration!


First of all, if you haven't bookmarked Lauren at Lladybird's Thurlow tutorials, do it. Now. I'll wait. That leads me to my first issue, the pattern instructions will NOT teach you how to make a pair of pants. Okay, I guess that's not really the job of a pattern company. You'll probably need a book to help you with fit (I reviewed what I used here), or prior experience with pants will help, but don't expect the pattern instructions to do much for you. Lauren's tutorials are worlds better. The skimpy instructions put me off from wanting another Sewaholic anytime soon. If I buy another (and YES I love them all, okay?!) I'll do it knowing that I may need outside assistance if I need help.

Welt Pockets

In particular, the welt pockets were a challenge. I've never made them before, but I have read about them and watched videos online. None of that knowledge helped me make the Thurlow welt pockets, which are constructed differently than I've seen before. Here's a photo of the pattern piece:

In simple terms, the instructions tell you to sew the top welt piece on, between the red line and the dart. What?? Then you cut on the red line and flip the top and bottom welts to the inside.

What's supposed to happen here is that the ends of these two welt pieces are supposed to neatly butt up against one another. Did. Not. Happen. They totally overlapped. Honestly, I thought it was supposed to be that way until I studied Lauren's photos more closely. To me, it seems like the only way these will work properly is to sew on top of the dart. I've never heard of any such thing. Am I missing something??

Anyway, I ripped them all back out and had to sew them again (yes, both sides, I was working on them in tandem). It was difficult, since I had already cut my opening. Here's the finished result:

Notice anything wrong? left-hand welt ended up slanted. That was the first one I redid, so then I was faced with the dilemma of whether or not to purposefully slant the second one! Haha. As you can see, I didn't.

If you still have your muslin sitting around, I recommend doing a practice run with the welt pockets on your muslin. In the future, I'm almost positive that I won't do the pockets this way again. IF I do a welt pocket at all, I'll use a different method.


Ohhhhh the waistband. It's a good thing that this was towards the end of the project, or I might have bundled up the whole thing and buried it in my closet behind my prom dress and my bag of old purses. I mentioned in my muslin fitting post that one waistband piece was too short.

This is my finished pair of pants (by the way, I sewed this incorrectly, so this part looks different than it's "supposed" to). I don't know how it ended up too short. Thank goodness I didn't need the full length of the waistband, otherwise...okay, fine, otherwise I would have had to cut another piece. But seriously, I can't be troubled to cut extra pieces! Oh wait...I did! The other awful bit is that this is my second waistband! I managed to cut my pieces, apply my interfacing, sew my waistband to my lining, understitch, and THEN notice that the pieces were backwards (but NOT notice that one was too short). I followed the cutting diagram! Ugh. I still haven't figured out how it happened. Thank goodness I had extra fabric and interfacing!

One last bit about the waistband. I think I used too small of a seam allowance when I attached it to my pants (to be honest, by that point I was SO over this project and just flying through it to get it DONE). For some reason, I didn't try on the pants until my waistband was all the way done, and then I noticed that the rise was sort of high. Higher than most other pants I own. If I had used the proper seam allowance, the rise would probably be fine. It's fine now, really, it's just higher than I'm used to.

I don't want to sound like this pattern totally bombed for me. It was just HARD. I've been sewing for a year now and had gotten a tad...smug? These shorts brought me back down to Earth. They're not perfect, they challenged me in more ways than one, but dang if I'm not happy with them! I'm wearing them now as I write this post, and they are comfortable, flattering, and fit well. I think they look as close to RTW as anything I've ever made. I KNOW that during round two, if/when that happens, the next pair will be improved greatly.

Next week: a short and sweet (maybe??) post of the completed shorts!

Ready for Thrift Thursday at Peek-A-Boo Pattern Shop? Today only, the Lazy Days Romper is on sale for only $4! I may have to snatch that one up, I've had my eye on it for a while. Rompers are so cute and practical!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

What I'm Reading: pants fitting resources

As soon as I finished the muslin for my Thurlows I realized I'd need some help making pattern alterations. I browsed Amazon for the most popular fitting books, then sped off to the library to see what I could find. I ended up with the following:

All three of these books offered something unique. Why is it that there's never ONE book that covers everything haha? I also used this post at A Fashionable Stitch to assist me. And while I didn't personally use the information, The Colette Patterns blog has an awesome pants fitting guide as well.

The first book shown above, The Complete Photo Guide to Perfect Fitting, by Sarah Veblen, is an excellent resource. I only read the portion about pants, but there are sections on all other types of garments as well. It's one of those books that I could buy and study for ages. When explaining alterations, the directions are precise and helpful. Where this book excels is with all the photos. If you're a visual learner, you'll appreciate all the steps shown clearly in photos of the alterations. The only part I found a tad impractical (at least in the pants section) was the use of two or more muslin fittings. For my own home sewing, I'm unlikely to make that many muslins. Sorry world! But I could see where it makes sense for a sewing business. Who knows, maybe someday...!

Easy Guide to Sewing Pants, by Lynn MacIntyre, also had lots of pictures and clear instructions, but of course this book was aimed towards pants sewing only. The difference here is that this book also contained information on constructing pants, including zippers, waistbands, and fly fronts. Unfortunately, there wasn't any help on welt pockets, which I desperately needed while making my Thurlows! This was a handy little book and I'm kind of sad to have to take it back to the library.

The last book, by Lee Hollahan, didn't help me at all with pants. The only alteration it covered was lengthening or shortening pants. It's just not that kind of book. Now that I'm writing about it, though, I think I may keep it a bit longer and read it more in-depth, because it has some cool ideas for altering patterns I already have. More to come on this title, I'm sure!

Any other great pants fitting resources out there? I know Pants for Real People is a popular one. What do you use?

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Sewing Project: Thurlow Shorts part 1--muslin

If you've read even one previous review of mine, then you know that I'm not a fan of muslins (practice garments). I prefer using a cheaper fabric and practicing by making something I can wear. But it only took sewing one pair of sweatpants for me to know that muslins are pretty much required if you want your pants to fit right (and you do, right?).

I've had the Thurlow Trouser pattern for a few months, and two different versions planned since February. First up is a pair of shorts in this lovely coral stretch denim (from Hart's Fabrics, but I can't find it anymore so they must have sold out!):

And for the lining, I planned to use a crazy looking cotton batiste from Mood:

I promise it didn't look that bright and tropical on my computer screen! Also, I can't find it anymore so I guess they sold out as well.

But before my scissors got anywhere near that fabric, I made a simpler pair of shorts, Simplicity 1879. Thankfully, those shorts fit right out of the box, which helped me choose a size for my Thurlows. Not surprisingly to me, size 0 fit my measurements the closest. I have no curves.

But not so fast! I compared the finished garment measurements of the Thurlows to the Simplicity pattern, and I noticed that in the hip, there was a difference of 1 1/2". Sad face. I know from experience that nothing makes my skinny bow legs look worse than a baggy pair of shorts. Not to mention that my fabric choice, the coral denim, has Lycra for stretch, so I can get away with even less ease if I want (which I do). So as much as it pained me, I forged ahead with a muslin. I don't know why I was being such a baby about it, it only took me about a day to cut out and assemble. Oh, and for my muslin, I used some cotton fabric that my mom gave me. She said she wasn't sure what she originally bought it for...I have 5 yards of it, so there's plenty more if I find a use for it!

For a muslin of the shorts, I used pattern pieces 4, 5, 6, and 9. I did not cut out the waistband pieces. I was confused by Lauren at Lladybird's post about her muslin (and if you're going to make Thurlows, you NEED the tutorials from her Sew-Along). She said to cut out the waistband, but then in the photos I didn't see one. Having finished my shorts...yeah, I wish I would have cut out waistband pieces! Check back Thursday for more details...

Right off the bat, my most obvious issue with the muslin was my pockets. Gape city. The instructions say it's okay for your pocket bag to not lie flat...but this was too much. Note to self #1: make sure pocket bags lie flat.

Second, the shorts were obviously too big, as I feared. I knew I'd be okay in the waist area due to the center back extension built into the pattern, which allows for a precise waist fit. The problem was in the hips and thigh. The crotch fit great (there's a phrase you don't use everyday), which was a relief since I didn't want to attempt corrections there.

An earlier version of me would have simply pinned out excess from the side seams and been done with it, but somehow I knew this wasn't the "right" way to fix this problem. I sped off to the library and picked up some books on fitting and on pants specifically, but I ended up finding the most help from the blog A Fashionable Stitch (with images from the book Pants for Real People).

The muslin went on again, inside out, and I pinned out from the sides as shown in the link above. I always pin with safety pins when I'm wearing a garment, and then once I take it off I can even things out with regular pins.

Yes, I was basting with chartreuse thread.

I measured the extra fabric and it actually varied from 1/4" at the hip to 1/2" around the leg opening. I decided to split the difference and remove 3/8". But rather than shaving off the extra on the side seam of the pattern piece, I marked through the inside of it as suggested. If these photos are hard to see, clicking should help you enlarge them. Here are the two front pattern pieces:

The red marks show where I removed excess. I simply cut along the lines and then taped the pattern pieces back together.

For the back, I did take the extra from the side. I didn't want to interfere with the center back extension or the welt pocket. I kept it easy on myself and removed 3/8" from the side seam.

You'll notice that I also changed the placement of the welt pocket ever so slightly. I moved it about an 1/8" down and 1/2" towards the side seam. There was no rhyme or reason to that decision, except that I tried on my muslin, with the welt placement marked, and visually decided I'd like them moved. I also double-checked the darts to make sure they looked okay. I decided to leave them as-is.

How flattering!

Anytime you alter one pattern piece, it's sort of a domino effect for all the others. I also needed to change the waistband pieces. The book Easy Guide to Sewing Pants had a graphic showing how to alter waistbands at the side seams, so that's what I did. I wasn't sure exactly where the side seam was in these pants (the waistband itself does not contain a side seam, only the center back seam) so I laid the waistband pattern pieces on top of the pant leg pieces to see where the side seam would be, roughly. Here are my alterations to these pieces, again marked in red:

Instead of removing 3/8" four times (two front pieces, two back pieces), I removed 3/4" twice (two waistband pieces). The total removed stays the same. Skip ahead two weeks and somehow the right waistband was too short (the left was perfect). How?? IDK man. It didn't even up mattering because of the back extension, but still...mysteries. Again, check back Thursday for a complete post of all my woes with this project. For now, I'm trying to concentrate on pattern alterations only!

I likely could have altered the pocket bag piece as well, but I opted to try it as-is. When I mimicked the effect in the paper pattern, it didn't look too bad:

So there you have it, my muslin fitting and my beginning steps for my Thurlows. I was a little nervous about starting on my REAL fabric, since it is a heavier weight and has more body than my muslin fabric, but (spoiler alert!) most of these adjustments worked out well in terms of fit. Stay tuned for more Thurlow posts as I recap this three-week project!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Sewing Inspiration: Linen

Have you been following along with Fabric Friday over at the Oliver+S blog? A few weeks ago they did a post about linen, complete with videos. I highly recommend both of them, the first one is short and shows the crazy amount of work that went into harvesting flax (the plant from which linen is made) in ye olden days. The second video is longer, but I promise it's worth it. It's in French and Italian for crying out loud! It shows all the steps of modern flax growing, harvesting, the production of linen fabric and its use in Paris couture. Anyone who loves natural fibers won't be able to resist the inspiration. Oh, and there are subtitles, so you could even watch it at work. On your break, OF COURSE ;)

One quote from the video: "It's always better to work with noble materials." I agree! (Sorry polyester, you have your place, but i doubt anyone will call it a "noble" place.) When I saw that Pattern Review was hosting a natural fibers contest this month, I was excited about it, and decided to enter my CKC Ruffle Dress from last week. It also got my mind going about pretty linen skirts and dresses. I'd love to use Simplicity 2209 and adapt the bottom into a skirt pattern, preferably in a lovely red!

I *heart* my Fashionary sketchbook

In the meantime, I have a pile of a navy linen/rayon blend waiting to be made into a Negroni shirt for my husband. I used the same fabric (from Jo-Ann's) to make these shorts for AB last summer. I enjoyed working with that linen, and the colors are so pretty! The only part I didn't like was how easily it unraveled. I'm hoping that my new serger will come in handy for finishing the seams. And I know everyone hates on Jo-Ann's, but I love their printed linens almost as much as I love not paying shipping for fabric! This one, in particular, always catches my eye. It would make such a pretty dress!

Okay, one more quote (sorry, those beautiful French fields really inspired me!):

"Today's mistakes lead to tomorrow's marvels."

What are your thoughts on natural fibers?

This Memorial Day weekend, join Craftsy in honoring the brave men and women who have served in the US Armed Forces. For every class sold this weekend, Craftsy will donate a portion of the proceeds to benefit a veterans' organization. Select classes will be on sale up to 60% off! Have all the classes you want? Consider gifting a class to your favorite service member! (affiliate links)

Friday, May 24, 2013

Me Made May: Week 4

This day marks the last time you will see any NEW items in my me-made roundup. Starting today, I'm wearing my first repeat outfit. I thought about staying up all night last night and making enough t-shirts to get me to the end of the month...but there's always next year to try for no repeats! Remember, my goal this year, for my first Me Made May, was simply to participate and not wear the same pair of shorts over and over. Without further ado, here's what I wore this week:

1. Nautical blouse 2. Simplicity 2209 3. New Look 6108 (unblogged) 4. T-shirt refashion (unblogged)
5. Upcycled underwear 6. McCall's 6359 (unblogged) 7. Kimono t-shirt

Do you like my cheat day with the underwear? I've been brainstorming ideas for knit dresses and wanted to wear one to get in the spirit, so I wore a RTW dress that day. There are a bunch of unblogged projects here because...frankly...I don't like these items! They fall into the "barely wearable" category for me. But I guess the point of MMM is to push you into wearing all the things you've made, good or bad (sewing karma?). It has definitely worked for me!

I hope everyone has a fantastic three day weekend! 

Photo 1: capris from somewhere I don't remember
Photo 3: Shorts from Old Navy
Photo 4: capris from Old Navy
Photo 5: not pictured: knit dress from Old Navy
Photo 6: jeans from The Gap
Photo 7: jeans from The Limited

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Sewing Project: CKC Ruffled Dress

Ugh. I think that bad dream I had about failing on Project Runway has cursed my Thurlows. I was making good strides and I thought it was all downhill, but yesterday I realized that somehow I'd cut my waistband pieces backwards. Ugh. Thank goodness I have enough extra fabric to recut. I almost chucked the whole thing into a corner and started something else. Y'know, a revenge project. That makes sense, right?

ANYWAY! If you subscribe to the Sew Can She daily newsletter, then you might have seen the free pattern from Create Kids Couture to make this ruffled dress:

In anticipation of summer, I had been looking for a quick, painless pattern to make a bunch of summer dresses for AB. Preferably with raglan sleeves or sleeveless, and no closures (did I mention I wanted something FAST??). And of course, something I could make with knits. I'm pretty sure CKC intends for this pattern to be made with wovens, but I made it in a knit and it worked.

Future heartbreaker.

Everything I love about a girl's dress is in this pattern. Easy to sew, easy on and off (there's an elastic neckline) and it's the same front to back (no figuring out which side is which, a problem my husband frequently has with the clothes I make for AB). What makes this pattern even more amazing is that there's only ONE pattern piece (for the sleeve). All the other pieces are rectangles, the dimensions of which are provided in the pattern. The instructions were easy to follow, and you can whip a bunch of these up in no time.

I also liked that the length for the elastic was provided in the instructions. A lot of patterns tell you to put the half-finished garment on your child and measure elastic to fit. YEAH RIGHT! Not possible on a 15-month old. AB had a routine check-up yesterday, and her pediatrician said that between 15 months and 2 years, toddlers get this weird "don't come into my bubble" attitude with their personal space. Kinda made me laugh, since AB has no concept of MY personal space and treats me like a jungle gym.

These are her outside shoes...please ignore!

I made this dress before I got my serger, so I finished the seams with a zig-zag on my regular machine. I've been lazy with seam finishing, but it's one of my goals for this year to do higher quality work. I used a video from Jalie (mentioned here at Made by Trisha) for instructions on how to finish seams with knits. It worked great, is much more durable, and didn't add too much extra time to the project.

This dress is a size 18 months, which is the smallest size for the pattern. As you can see, it's still big on AB, AND I used a larger seam allowance than what is noted in the instructions. The instructions say to use a 3/8" seam allowance, but I used 5/8" because I figured it would be too big, and I just like 5/8" better! I did make one other change, which was to hem the sleeves without making an elastic casing. Sometimes I think little girls' dresses go overboard with ruffles, so I decided to keep it simple.

The fabric is a fantastic lightweight cotton jersey, perfect for summer. You may recognize it from the Madison Dress I made previously. It's so pretty!

I hope you give this pattern a try and let me know how you like it. There's also a matching purse! Oddly enough, AB already has a few purses, so I'm not in a hurry to make her another. What summertime sewing is on your agenda?

Pssst...It's Thrifty Thursday time again at Peek-A-Boo Pattern Shop! Today you can snag the Susie Sun Dress for only $4! Be sure to check out the complete summer line of patterns, there are some adorable new designs.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

What I'm Reading: Fashion: Concept to Catwalk

Fair warning, this post gets a wee bit philosophical. For the last few weeks, I've been reading/browsing/skimming the book Fashion: Concept to Catwalk by Olivier Gerval. 

It was originally written in French and translated to English (but it retains some of its sweet French pictures). The topics covered include researching a fashion concept, development of ideas for a clothing line, execution within a design studio, and running a fashion show. Basically everything you see on the last episode of a season of Project Runway, only expanded into real life!

The book is a bit dry, and reads oddly, probably due to the translation. Some fashion books lean more towards "textbook" and this seems to be one of those. Technical information isn't all bad; there were some great sidebars about printing techniques, flat drawing, and a cool fabric glossary. I love reading the names that other countries have for fabrics, don't you? Given the textbook nature, this book made me start thinking about design school. Since I live in a university town, learning and higher education are at the forefront of our city culture. Like anyone who holds a degree in English, I used to wish I would have studied something more practical. Now, I wish I would have studied fashion design!

I value the self-taught seamstress, no doubt, but I have to wonder what skills one could pick up in design school that you just can't get anywhere else. But are those skills even necessary? Do I ever want to work in fashion? When you're a stay-at-home mom who isn't working, you have the time to wonder about what you'll do when you go back to work (I do eventually have to go back to work, right?). I doubt that another degree is in my future, but since discovering such a passion for sewing, I would love to work in this field in some capacity. It's almost as if nothing else could measure up, now that I know this is what I love!

What about you? Have you ever had a desire to turn your home sewing into a career of some kind? Are you dreaming of your looks walking a catwalk like this book describes? What's your dream?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Sewing Project: Butterick 5606

I had a dream last night that I was on Project Runway. And I was the first one eliminated. Right before I woke up, my last impression is that I was sitting in the workroom, alone, sewing the Thurlows that I'm working on right now. I didn't make it down to the runway and had no garment to show, for the first time in Project Runway history. Duuuuuuude. Somebody has issues!! And my Thurlows aren't even going that badly!

I hope I can put that out of my mind later today when I work on those shorts some more, but for now, how about an EASY, fun tunic?

This is Butterick 5606. I bought it during a 5/$5 sale at Jo-Ann's, so give me a break on how unimpressive it looks. It's a tank dress with ties on the sides to give you a multi-wear dress. If you want to know the truth, I bought it only for the tank dress pattern pieces. I already have an infinity dress (unblogged but seen here in my week 1 Me Made May roundup) and that's not the type of thing that you need multiples of in your wardrobe. Also, the ties on my infinity dress drive me nuts. So, with my two pattern pieces in hand, I whipped out a mini-tank dress in about two days, which is pretty good time for me. Uninterrupted, you could finish this in 2 hours.

It's a little short.

The pattern called for about 3-4 more inches than the 36 that I had, so that's why I'm calling it a mini-dress. I can wear it with tights or capris and it works great.

Day 1 of Me Made May.

I LOVE this fabric. It's got feathers and neon and it's just wonderful. As usual, I only had a yard and wanted to make a top from it (and I certainly could have done so by cutting it off and hemming it shorter) but I decided to go all-out with it. It's such a fun print, I figured I might as well own it.

It's kind of an A-line shape from top to bottom, so it benefits from a belt to give more definition. It can be worn forwards or backwards, giving me two options for the neckline (one is more of a V, and the other a scoop neck).

The neckline(s) and armholes are finished with a narrow hem. I tried to use some chartreuse binding (leftover fabric from my Kimono Dress) on the neckline, instead of the narrow hem, and it was a total disaster. I ended up making it more like a facing. It's only one one side (the "back") so it's helpful, because now at a glance I can tell which way is "front".

I've been looking for a reliable knit tank top pattern and this one is exactly what I wanted. No frills, nothing fancy, just great for those wardrobe staples. And if I ever decide to make a multi-wear dress with it, you know I'll share!


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