Thursday, June 26, 2014

SBCC Tonic Tee

I first heard about SBCC Patterns back when Pattern Review featured them a zillion years ago. If you didn't know, SBCC stands for "Skinny Bitch Curvy Chick" which elicited quite a few amusing remarks from the people commenting on Pattern Review. Personally, I think it's kind of funny, although I wouldn't name my business that way! As you can gather, the patterns are drafted with the ends of the spectrum in mind, though they're all petite sizes for us short people. The Tonic T-Shirt is a FREE pattern (via pdf download) and a great way to dip your toes into these patterns to figure out if you fit their drafting.

As you can see from this photo from their website, the t-shirt is fairly short and has narrow shoulders. There is a scoop neckline and nothing else fancy. Now don't get confused when you see my version:

I know, I know, it's exactly the same! Way to be original, right? This is a size XS with no modifications. The fabric is a heathered grey cotton knit from Girl Charlee. I think they've sold out of it, but it's the perfect t-shirt jersey and I've been hoarding it for something just like this.

The fit is excellent, which leads me to believe I must be a "skinny bitch". I don't know about that, but I do have narrow shoulders that I usually have to account for in other patterns. None of that here!

No back neck gape! Can you hear the trumpets blaring?

For what it's worth, I'm wearing a non-padded non-lifting bra in this photo. With a regular bra the shirt fits more tightly across the chest.

The neckline is nice and modest without being too high. I finished mine with my coverstitch machine as topstitching. One of these days I'll figure out my binding attachment and start using that on necklines.

The hems were also done on my coverstitch. YOU NEED A COVERSTITCH!

This is the perfect little t-shirt for lounging or wearing out, you're only limited to your imagination and fabric choices. When I make this again I will lengthen it by 1". It's fine the way it is, I just have a personal preference for shirts going past my pants waistband.

And if the short-sleeved Tonic 1 isn't enough, SBCC also released a long-sleeved version! This one has a crew neck and it is longer. The perfect layering piece, as they say on their site, and it is also FREE to download. Get the Tonic 2 here. I loved the SBCC instructions for this pattern, there were illustrations and very brief text. Great for someone who sews a lot of t-shirts and just needs to make sure she doesn't go so fast she forgets something (me).

Have you tried this pattern or another one of SBCC's patterns?

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

What I'm Reading: T-shirt Quilts Made Easy

For a looooooong time I've wondered about making a t-shirt quilt. Every summer, I played softball, from the age of 7 until I was 18. Before you start thinking of me as an athlete, I confess that it was slow-pitch and I never played for a school. At any rate, I received a t-shirt every year, all of which I still own. I'd love to make them into a quilt someday.

I came across this book on just such a topic and since it's short, I gave it a try. Having done zero quilting in my life, I mostly wanted to see if this kind of project was beyond my skill level.

The first 20 pages or so briefly discuss the methods you should use for a t-shirt quilt. This book specifically states that its goal is not to teach quilting, but merely to illustrate methods for using t-shirts. Whomp whomp. But really, that's okay, because I'm not in the mood for a quilting project right now anyway and I'd forget anything specific.

The book did cover interfacing, which was something I wondered about. It also contained tips on piecing and color theory.

The remainder of the book gave examples of t-shirt quilts. Patterns, I guess? You can tell I don't know anything about quilts!

One thing this book emphasized is the addition of regular quilting cottons into the designs. I'm not sure if that's something I'd like to do. There is literally a line "you can never have too much fabric!" which I would disagree with, as an apparel sewist and in apparel you definitely can have too many fabrics in one design!

Have you ever made a t-shirt quilt? Or found a better resource than this one? I'm all ears!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Measurement Charts Aren't So Bad

If I have one bad sewing habit, it's that I never look at measurement charts (please tell me there are more of us...?). When I learned to sew, I was coming off a pregnancy and had lost all kinds of weight, so I got into the habit of always cutting the smallest size. The Big 4 patterns have SO much ease and that was what I was primarily sewing.

Fast forward two years. I'm at a healthier weight and I've been sewing more indie patterns than ever. I realized it was time to start paying more attention to size charts. Last week, I posted my Nautical Thurlows and mentioned I had some issues with fit. After the shorts were done, I finally got around to looking at the Sewaholic size chart (why I didn't do it before, I don't know! I said it was a bad habit, okay...).

Since I made pants, let's take a look at the hip measurement. My hips are 36 1/2 inches, which puts me at a size 0. Okay fine, that's essentially the size I made. Now let's look at the waist. My waist is 27 inches, which puts me at a size...6! No wonder I had fit issues! My proportions just don't match up with the Sewaholic size charts. These patterns are designed for pear-shaped women (which I am not) but I thought I could make it work anyway. With cold hard numbers in front of me, I've realized that this brand might not be for me (in terms of pants or skirts, anyway).

Now let's take a gander at another example, the Style Arc size chart:

I'm really drawn to Style Arc's recently released Jennifer City Short pattern. I ordered it last week and can't wait to get started (it's coming via post from Australia, so it will be a while before it's here). If you're not familiar with Style Arc, you tell them what size you want and I believe they send you one additional size adjacent to it. Obviously, that means you have to look at the size chart before buying.

With the measurements I gave above, I fit neatly into the size 8. No crazy grading between 3 sizes like with Sewaholic. Whether or not I have fit issues remains to be seen until I make the pattern, but I'm already feeling more confident knowing my body more closely resembles their chart.

There are two quick examples of why reviewing size charts does matter, particularly with pants. Have you ever found yourself completely incompatible with a specific company's size chart? All I can say is that I'm so thankful for all the different pattern companies, if one doesn't work out there are plenty more to choose!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Nautical Thurlows

"Nautical" is one of those words that gets tossed around so much, it's almost meaningless, and I kind of hate myself for even using it. In the sewing world, anything navy and white with gold accents seems to fit the bill. So "Nautical Thurlows" it is, even though I doubt they'll be on a boat any time soon.

These shorts are part of my Wardrobe Architect plans, as they fit my color scheme and my silhouettes. They fulfill my loose pledge to make more pants. And they almost didn't make it out of the UFO pile hidden behind lots of respectable sewing books.

I don't think you can see anything amiss with the two above photos, which is good. The detail shots will reveal plenty of flaws, but the reason these ended up angrily wadded in a ball was originally due to fit. I made my first pair of Thurlows this time last year, and since they still fit I decided to make the same size again. I glibly disregarded the fact that the first pair was made with a lightweight stretch denim instead of a heavy twill, and ignored the 15 lbs. I've put on since last year. I went back to the less-than-a-size-0 pattern pieces and cut away, figuring that if I needed any wiggle room I could take it from center-back as the pattern intends (more on my pattern changes from last year here).

Starting to look a bit questionable...

If you're familiar with this pattern, then you know that Sewaholic provides what's called a "center back extension" which allows for a customizable fit.

Center-back extension

When I got to the point where I could try these on and determine where to sew the center-back seam, it was quite ugly. They were WAY too tight around the waist and in the thighs. Much cursing and angry accusations followed. I asked my husband what to do and he wisely told me to put them aside and come back later.

The pockets aren't level with the ground.

A few weeks went by and these babies came back out. I'd had time to mentally process the extra weight that a life without breastfeeding has afforded me (seriously, I lost a lot of weight after giving birth solely due to nursing) and was no longer so emotional about fitting them. Miraculously, they fit much better. I have a sneaky suspicion that the first fitting was thwarted by a certain weight-inflating time of the month. Could this paragraph be any more TMI?

Anyway, I got the shorts finished and wore them out and about, and they're great! Very comfy, not too tight, and with a long shirt I'm able to ignore the flaws that abound in the fly and front closures. I never wear a tucked-in shirt, so I can easily hide the waistband issues. I love the cuffs, the piping I added to the pockets, and the gold topstitching. It helps to focus on those positives instead of the negatives.

Piping, topstitching


I even matched the stripes so well at the sides that you can't see the seams.

Inseam. Can you find the seam?

One negative that I can easily ignore, because it's behind me, is the patch pockets. I added them so that the stripes would match up, however that's not exactly level with the ground. Consequently, they look tilted. I was VERY frustrated when I realized what I'd done, but the only solution to correct the tilt was to misalign the stripes. A rock and a hard place, I tell ya what. However, now I know what to avoid if I ever make another pair of striped shorts. I should have cut them on the bias or just stuck with welt pockets as the pattern directs. I wanted these to be more casual which is why I went with patch pockets.

The outside row of topstitching is done with a triple stitch.

And since I have too many photos and too much to say, how about a photo dump with captions?

Center-back seam. Chevrons on my butt!

I added a jeans button instead of a bar hook and eye.
Here you can also see the waistband is two
different sizes where it overlaps.

This only required a hammer to install. Tutorial video here.
Jean tack from Wawak.

I had to hand-sew the buttonhole for the jeans button.
It looks terrible. This is WITH Fray Check.

Back of the terrible buttonhole.

This is a heavy-duty zipper and the pull tab is way too big
for how these pants are designed. Use a regular zipper!

Belt loops are easy with a coverstitch machine!

Inside view, front

Inside view, back

Please note, the inside of the shorts is not supposed to look like my photos. The waistband facing should fold down all the way around. I have no idea why, but I could NOT get these to fit right unless I sewed them "incorrectly". Check Lauren's sewalong if you want to see what I'm talking about.

Speaking of Lauren's sewalong, I could not have sewn these shorts without it. Not last year, OR this year. Time to be blunt. I hate the Sewaholic directions with this pattern. Last year, I thought it was just me, my inexperience with pants, and that if I knew what I was doing the instructions would be sufficient. At this point, I have to say that it can't JUST be me. I've already made these once, yet I was still often confused unless I consulted the sewalong. Is the pattern nicely drafted, does it produce a great result? Yes. But you're going to need to know what you're doing, or consult some other resources.

I broke about 3 needles sewing these shorts, so I seriously need to re-evaluate my machine's ability to sew jeans/denim/twills. I had to hand-crank almost all of the topstitching. I've only had my machine for 2 years, and I like it a lot, so it bums me out to think about getting another one just for heavier fabrics. And because I haven't mentioned it yet, this fabric is a cotton twill from Mood, and the lining fabric is a quilting cotton from Blue Hill featuring elephants playing croquet (available in multiple colorways, here). It's left over from this dress for AB and it's so stinking adorable. The twill felt like cardboard when it arrived, but with a wash it softened considerably.

Despite their flaws, I like these shorts better than my coral ones from last year, and it feels awesome to have made pants that fit into my capsule wardrobe. I thought I was DONE with this pattern, but today I found myself daydreaming about making it again. Better the devil you know than the one you don't, especially with pants. Although I wouldn't mind getting my mitts on the new Jennifer City Shorts pattern by Style Arc...

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Garage sales are awesome

I'll admit, I don't always have much luck at antique stores/thrift shops/garage sales. So when I do happen to find "the honey hole" as they say on American Pickers, I can't help but show off. Indulge me please?

This big pile of goodies cost me a cool $13.50. Every year, the historical society in my county has a HUGE fundraising garage sale. It's held in a warehouse as big as a football field (American football hehe). This was my second time going and I've been looking forward to it since last year. It did not disappoint!

Guess I won't be making my own bias tape anytime soon. And most of it is cotton, not polyester!

20+ zippers for $1? Yes please!

Even though it's vintage, this dressmaker's paper can't possibly be any worse than the Dritz kind, and it quite possibly will be better. I bought the dress shields because it's cool to see something in person that you've only read about in books.

How cute is this?? For $1, a yard of a cotton/poly knit and matching ribbing. I'm WAY excited about this find and I love the colors of the stripes.

This pattern looks so chic and fancy, and once you read the instructions it becomes even fancier. The wrapped portions are fastened with two sets of four hook and eyes! And imagine my surprise when I got home, and instead of tissue paper I found this:

Does anyone know what this is?! I peeked in the envelope before I bought it and I thought the pattern pieces must have been wrapped in paper towels or something. This is some kind of foam-like paper? Seriously, someone help me out!

A bit over 2 yards of gauze for $1.

A bag of random "silks" (will have to do a burn test). Nothing big enough for more than scarves, sadly.

My dog thought this might be a toy.

And look! A pressing mitt/ham thingy! Believe it or not, I don't have one of these. This one was $1 and looks handmade. 

There were also some random odds and ends, like 2 packs of jean rivets and lots of trims. Best. Day. Ever.

The day after the historical society sale, I found a garage sale on Craigslist advertising fabric and sewing stuff. I got some random fabric (small pieces to make things for AB) and a Stretch and Sew swimsuit pattern (uncut). 

And a new Neiman Marcus tote bag, in my favorite hot pink, for $3!

In closing, do you get excited for garage sale season? Have you ever hit the jackpot like Sally from The Quriky Peach? I think I need to be visiting more estate sales!

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