Thursday, August 25, 2016

Color Blocked Dolman

Getting close folks! The hunt for a TNT is almost over. Ages ago I sewed up New Look 6216 and it was a total disaster. Wrong fabric choice resulted in a great...pajama top.

I actually wear it a lot to sleep, it's easy to nurse in and very comfortable. But it's way too big. The shape is what I'm going for, though, so I decided to give it another try in a more suitable fabric.

Again I went with fabrics that I've used before that were sitting in my "large scrap" pile. The print is a poly ITY knit and I luuuurve it. You've seen it before in this wrap dress. It probably looks black but it's a dark navy and white. I have a hard time choosing good prints but this is the kind I love.

I didn't have enough fabric for the back so it's cut in two pieces instead of on the fold, but I doubt you can tell with this busy print. Additionally, I had to use a yoke, and I chose a navy French terry. It was the closest color match, and it worked fine for this yoke even though it didn't have the same liquid drape as the ITY. To figure out the best place to cut for the yoke, I searched for color-blocked dolmans on Pinterest. Most of them had the seam through the center of the "sleeve" so that's what I did.

I like this top a lot! I made one change which was to bind the neckline instead of sewing on a band. Binding always turns out better (for an explanation of what I mean, see this tutorial). I also didn't hem. This is the smallest size in the envelope. From here, I went ahead and traced the pattern and made a few minor adjustments, mostly in the back because, guess what, it's too big!

It's kind of hard to tell with the dark fabric but per usual the back is really wide on me. For my (hopefully) TNT dolman I removed some width. I also lengthened it an inch and lengthened the sleeves a touch. I hate when dolman sleeves are a bit short and then poke out all crazy. I also decreased the seam allowance to 1/2" because 5/8" in a knit is a waste. With all those changes I *think* I have a potential TNT. But for now, I'm enjoying this top and how easy it is to wear. I love ITY for that quality, even if it's kind of hot due to the polyester.

And yes, I know this skirt is super short. It's actually a skort, it's French terry, and I love it so much I will never stop wearing it. So there! The day I took these photos, I was *that person* trying to grocery shop with an infant who would not. stop. screaming. If everyone was going to stare at me, it made me feel just slightly better that I looked nice. The power of clothes y'all.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Clothing, Identity and Memory

When I was in college, I took a class about memory. Oddly enough, I don't remember much about it, except that we learned about the falsity of our own memories. Things we thought happened a certain way that aren't actually true. Ten years later and I still think about that class I can't remember, because that one fact I learned keeps coming true for me. This week I was putting laundry away throwing clothes into a pile and scratching my head about why I have so little closet space. I rifled through some stuff and realized exactly why.

Mama Monkey is back in the hospital.

The just-in-case clothes. The when-I-start-working-again blouses. The need-this-for-a-cocktail-party dresses. The so-and-so-bought-me-that t-shirts. I realized that I'm not hoarding things. I'm hoarding memories, and, by extension, I'm hoarding a former identity. The tops pictured above are all things I wore regularly when I worked full-time. Y'know. Four and half years ago. Unless our situation changes, the plan is for me to stay at home until our youngest is in school. Y'know. Six years from now. Ten years? Was I really planning on keeping these tops for ten years?? And we all know that even if I do, no way will I want to wear them!

So why are they here? They're here for the memories. They're here so that when I look in my closet, I'm reminded that I used to have a job that did not involve diapers, Goldfish, and spit up. But if I'm being honest, what good does that memory do me? I'm never going to be that person again. I'm never going to be 25 and without life's most serious responsibilities. Wouldn't it be better to just...move on?

As it turns out, my memory is not so good. One shirt is frayed. Others are too small. One was never that comfortable anyway. One I will keep, because my husband bought it for me, and because getting to keep one is the deal I made with myself. If I'm going to stuff my closet with questionable items, I'd much rather that they were things I've sewn. Those memories, of learning a new skill and trying different styles, make me happy. Me-mades can stay. Everything else, well, I'll forget I ever had it in the first place!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Giveaway Winner!

Thanks to everyone who entered the giveaway for a sewist pin and A Sewist's Notebook. I LOVED reading everyone's responses about the times they felt like a sewer+artist, so inspiring! And the winner is...

Congratulations Sabrina Joy! I'll be emailing you later so I can send your prize. And if you weren't the winner, you can pick up a sewist pin here and A Sewist's Notebook here.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Style Arc Ginger Top

I seem to be on the hunt for the perfect dolman pattern, which is weird, since it's the easiest possible top to sew. You'd think I'd have one by now! Today I'm showing off the Style Arc Ginger Top, which I actually muslined!

It's been a year since I made a muslin for anything! And that was for bridesmaids' dresses for my sister's wedding, so kind of important. But I wasn't quite sure on sizing for the Ginger Top. The reviews I looked at made it seem like there was a lot of volume (just by looking at photos). I'm also nursing, so my bust size is not indicative of my actual body size. Given all that, I ended up muslining a size 4.

One big change on the muslin--I did not sew the twist in the front. I basted it, but it looked weird. And frankly, I wanted the front to be open for breastfeeding access, that was the whole point of this pattern for me.

I'm sure you see what I see, that it's kind of small. Parts of it fit well, but others do not. Rather than start over with a larger size, I ended up altering this one. The back neckline was too tight and it needed graded out at the hips. I also wanted it longer.

It kind of reminds me of all my favorite clothes that I wore before I started having babies. Sure, they go onto my body, and maybe nobody would notice, but I know (and my husband would tell me) that they're too small. I altered my pattern pieces and added length, in addition to width in the center back. Those two changes effectively graded out the hips for me. Here's the result:

This one might be just a touch too big? I think it borders on personal preference. I get it. I have sizing issues. I hardly ever get the right size. But fit-as-you-go doesn't help me with a final master paper pattern, does it?

Also, the lighter pink is interlock and it stretched a lot while sewing. Using a more stable jersey, like the darker pink, will be better for any future tops.

I promise I pressed it but those wrinkles are persistent.

Again, I did not sew the twist in the front. Now I can wear a nursing cami underneath and this is perfect for breastfeeding. I did sew a small snap to the center front to keep this closed when I'm not nursing. I bend over a lot picking up babies and it was blousing a lot in that circumstance. Obviously, if I had sewn the twist then that wouldn't happen. Here's a crappy photo to show the blousing. I was going to take one straight on but it wasn't family friendly!

The only part about this I'm not sure of is the pleats in the shoulder. They seem kind of fussy and maybe unnecessary? You didn't even know they were there, did you? You can see them in the line drawing.

A quick note about the instructions: Style Arc is infamous for bare bones directions. I've looked at other patterns like this one and the front is usually one giant piece that folds up at the hem. This one is two pieces, a left and a right. It helps save on fabric but it was just a little tricky to sew. I recommend following the diagram rather than the written words. It WILL work if you follow the diagram. Additionally, there was a line about hemming the center front but it's supposed to be turned back twice. It only says to turn it back once? Just thought I'd throw that out there if you happen to follow instructions right to the letter. The one thing I LOVE about Style Arc is that the seam allowance is 1/4" most of the time. If you don't have a serger you'll be frustrated sewing this on a regular machine, but on a serger it's a dream.

Overall, I'm pretty happy with this top. I used up some large scrap pieces and I have a new nursing-friendly garment. I've been nursing on and off for four years so anything I can do to make it a little more fun is appreciated. This is the perfect throw-and-go top on those hectic days when I head out to preschool drop-off.

Don't forget to enter the giveaway for a Sewist pin and notebook! Check out Tuesday's post for the details.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

A Sewist's Notebook+Sewist pin giveaway!

You might have noticed a few awesome products in the sewing world lately, and one of them certainly caught my eye. This new enamel pin from Abby Glassenberg of While She Naps proudly displays one of my favorite words: sewist!

How perfect is this? I love talking about sewing to anyone who will listen, but I usually wait for it to come up organically. What a great way to share the love without being too in-your-face about it. I particularly like that it's not exclusive of any kind of sewing. Garments, quilts, whatever you like to sew fits in with this charming pin.

I contacted Abby and she kindly agreed to provide a pin for a giveaway. And of course I will be supplying a copy of the ultimate garment sewists' tool, A Sewist's Notebook. To enter, leave a comment and tell me about a time when you felt like a sewist (sewer+artist). If perhaps you're a beginner and haven't felt that way yet, tell me what you would create if you could. For me, I love this Grainline Scout Tee that I hacked/modified/altered into something truly lovely.

This giveaway is open to US residents only. Please make sure you sign in or leave your email address in your comment so I can reach you if you win! Giveaway closes Friday at midnight eastern. Can't wait to win? Snag a notebook here for 25% off with code AUG2016.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

A Dolman Shouldn't Take So Long

A few weeks ago I discussed the different dolman top patterns I was considering for my fall sewing. Feeling super smart and smug, I forged ahead with Simplicity 1463, which is a pattern that I have made once before. I did the right thing and tried on my old version (it was made two years ago) to check for any changes.

This is view B, which has an open cross-over back. I wanted to make the same view but with a regular back. In other words, view A without sleeve cuffs.

I was happy with the fit of my previous top except that it needed to be longer, as I said in my review. I added two inches to the length at the waistline and got to work. Ta da! 

I'll spare you the boring details, but apparently two years ago when I cut out my tissue pattern I did so rather haphazardly. And my poor brain, lacking anything remotely close to sleep, did not notice that the sizing was off between the front piece and the back piece. There was some grading at the waist and hips and it didn't work and blah. What I ended up with, halfway through sewing, was a top that was WAY too big in the back. I should have realized that would happen since it did happen with my previous version, even if it was a different view.

So I improvised. Apparently I never learn. This is not the first time I've made a garment with a too-blousey back. First I sewed smaller side seams. Then I decided to fix it the way I fixed McCall's 6612 and add some gathering in the back. I sewed down a casing and inserted elastic. That didn't gather it enough and I had to add two vertical tucks as well. Despite how destined for failure this started out, I like how it developed. It's not a boring dolman anymore, even if all the party is in the back.

The fabric I used is leftover cotton knit from Nature's Fabrics (previously used for a bridesmaid's dress last year). It's super comfortable and soft. My only complaint is that the neckband is doing something weird, but I think I just needed to shorten the neckband a little. I did lower the neckline 1/2".

I used my coverstitch for topstitching and hemming and since it was threaded with white, there ya go. The curved hem was making me twitchy just thinking about it, but I took a shortcut and sewed a basting stitch at the hemline. This gathered the fabric a little and allowed me to turn up the fabric along the basting and hem. Then I removed the basting stitch. If you're going to use this method, make sure your hem isn't too deep or you'll end up with tucks from the gathering. I was just glad to skip the Wonder Tape this time.

Post-baby pooch. Sad face.

I loved this so much I even pressed it and washed it before modeling for you. The dedication! Unfortunately, since I made so many on-the-fly changes, I don't think I can make this pattern again. It will literally be easier to pick a different dolman and try again. On my table now is a muslin of the Style Arc Ginger Top. Spoiler alert: it's awesome.

In the meantime I'll be wearing the heck out of this green top. I can't wait to pair it with skinny jeans and boots or Chucks in the fall (are skinny jeans still in? I've been wearing maternity jeans for the last two years...). Sometimes it's the simplest makes that get the most love.

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