Thursday, May 24, 2018

Burda 6599 Overalls

If we've been living in the year of the romper (for what, three years? ha!) then I think we're finally entering into its newest incarnation: the year of the overall. Pour a cup of coffee because this post is a long one!


Back in March, I became totally obsessed with finding the "right" overall pattern for me (Pinterest board here). I had some specific details I wanted: button-up side opening, pockets on the back, bib not too high, available in a printed pattern, and more than one view in the envelope. I read every review I could find and was just about to pull the trigger on the Ronja Dungarees from Named, but I was quite hung up on the price tag. At $25, it would have been the most expensive pattern I've ever bought, and it only had one view. I couldn't imagine making it more than once, putting my cost per use pretty high. Perhaps that's too analytical, but when your resources are limited, it's better to be selective. I ended up with Burda 6599, which I bought at Jo-Ann's for $2.50. Win! Even better, I had a small cut of denim in my stash (from Mood, a million years ago) that was just barely enough (okay, not quite enough). Win win!


The notions list was quite long, so I placed an order with Wawak. I planned this short version and also the long view in black, so it made sense to order everything at once. I also got a buttonhole/circular punch cutting set. It was tricky, because everything labeled as Antique Brass did not actually match. There were also various sizes of overall buckles, but no notes on the pattern about what size I needed. As drafted, the pattern has straps that are 1 1/2" wide. My buckles are for straps that are 1 1/4" wide. There was no way to know that until I got the package. And no way to know the strap width unless I got out the pattern piece and measured. Just be aware!


The size chart and cutting diagram are on the tissue, which I found to be rather annoying. My bust put me at a 10, my waist a 16, and my hips between 12 and 14. Kind of all over the place. My denim did have some stretch, and my waist is only a 16 because of my mama pooch. I settled on a straight size 10. Don't ask me why. I'm probably extremely lucky this fits so well. I did check the finished measurements for the hips (I wrote it down, 37 3/4" but I'm fairly positive I had to measure the pattern piece to arrive at that number, which was also annoying).


Besides changing the strap width, the only other alteration I made was to the front bib pocket. I looked at a ton of photos on Pinterest and decided I wanted something more traditional than the boring rectangle included in the pattern. I played around a bit with the shape and size as I was sewing.


I added rivets on the back pockets, and chose a topstitching design based off one I found on Pinterest. All topstitching was done with my vintage Singer 15-91. It's quite a lot to handle, three machines all set up at once (regular machine for seaming, serger for finishing, vintage machine for topstitching). I'm lucky I have the space (just barely!) to keep them all on my tabletop. I can't wait until we move to our new house, I should be able to have all my machines spread out in permanent arrangements.


I did have some trouble with the buttonholes. My vintage machine makes beautiful ones, typically, but they cannot be custom-sized. You have to use a buttonhole attachment which comes with interchangeable cams/templates. I didn't have any that were exact to the size of my jean tacks. Additionally, the waistband portion of the overalls is incredibly thick, and the seam allowances prevented easy movement. I ended up putting some buttonholes in with my regular machine and zig-zag stitches. They aren't super pretty and it was quite a fight. I recommend Fray Check and lots of patience! The buttonholer also seemed to mess up my thread tension so all the topstitching after that looks bad on the reverse side (most noticeable on the straps).


Another thing I would recommend is the buttonhole cutter I mentioned. How have I gone so long without one!? WAY better than the old hold-your-breath-and-use-the-seam-ripper method. I was surprised to find myself using the hole punch as well, it worked fifty times better than an awl when I was installing the jean tacks. As always, I used my anvil and rivet setter that I purchased when I made my Kelly Anorak (it's no longer available on Amazon, sorry!). If you're going to take on a project like this, the right tools really do make all the difference.

A few notes about the instructions:
1. You must interface the top of piece 1 and piece 2. Instructions omit piece 1.
2. Pockets are sewn on the back and THEN darts are sewn beneath. This method leads to gaping pockets. It looks dumb and seems to serve no purpose.
3. There is no under stitching on the hip pockets, but there should be.
4. On the diagram of the fly stitching there are lines denoting the fly, but it's easy to confuse them as stitching lines.
5. Directions to finish seam allowances are random and there is little direction on when seam allowance grading would be helpful.

In short, the instructions aren't great at hand-holding. They are sufficient for someone who knows what she's doing but I found them aggravating at times. These overalls took a LOT of work (two rows of topstitching and SO MUCH topstitching) and I was very nervous about making an irreparable mistake. As I mentioned, I didn't have enough fabric, and I cut the button facings from scrap denim. If I had made any errors, I wouldn't have had fabric to recut. Lucky for me, I didn't! So how about a giant photo dump?

Thread tension was off on the underside of straps





Here you can see the dart and pocket gape




And just a quick note about my tank top, it's a Love Notions Laundry Day Tee (tank). The fabric is leftover from my striped Union St. Tee, I didn't have enough so I color-blocked the back with solid black rayon. I also made a mistake and started to cut the back in two (instead of the fold). To cover it up, I sewed lace hem tape vertically up the back (you can't see it in these photos, sorry!). Design element for the win!

I've tried these overalls with lots of tops and I think they look best with a tank top, or a fitted tee (of which I have none lol). It does get pretty hot, this is a medium weight denim. I also like the look of cuffed short overalls, but the way the pattern is drafted they'd be way too short if I cuffed them. Oh, and bathroom breaks...I figured out I only have to undo three buttons to get them off, but that can take longer than you'd think.

Like I said before, I have another version planned, in full length, in black. I've made some alterations to my flat pattern already (I did that as soon as I was done with this version, because I knew I'd forget!). Primarily I want to shorten the height of the bib, and probably do something different with the bib pocket. The long pant version does have a slightly different cut to the leg that I think will keep it narrow and flattering (the shorts could be narrowed at the hem for a more youthful look, I think). I just got the fabric in that I'm using (dreamy stretch denim from The Fabric Store) but now that we're in the midst of summer (and moving in a month) it will probably be stuck on the back burner as a fall project.

Are you into the overall trend? There are lots of patterns out there to choose from right now! I keep waiting for Style Arc to launch one, because I have a feeling it would be awesome. Which one would you choose?

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Vintage-Inspired Swimsuit

Disclaimer: I've gotten REALLY good at sucking in my gut for photos. Please remember that pictures on the internet are not reality!!

Somehow I've gone almost a year without blogging last summer's swimsuit! Remember this beauty?



I had both the pattern and the fabric for quite a long time before I finally took the plunge, just before Baby M's first birthday last July. We took her to a pool, so of course I needed a new suit (don't worry, she got a new one too, except it was store bought #momoftheyear). I wore it that one time, and then we didn't swim any more that summer! But this past weekend, it hit 90 degrees and we pulled out the sprinkler and our bag of swimwear.


Obviously, the suit didn't end up as planned. I cut and sewed the lining and tried it on my body to make sure the torso length would work, but I neglected to notice how...cheeky...it looked. There was a lot of swearing and hair-pulling before I ended up cutting the bodice and making a two-piece. I also recut the bottom to be more boy-shorts than bikini. Just a personal preference post-kids.


This AMAZING swim fabric is from The Fabric Fairy. If you aren't buying swim fabric from her, you are doing something wrong. She always has the best and most unique prints. I'm super excited that our new house will have a hot tub, because it means I have an excuse for more swimsuits!


This suit was a real make-it-work moment, but I think it turned out alright in the end. I still get to see that vibrant print, and it would have broken my heart to toss it in the trash after waiting so long to use it.

As for this summer, I do have a neon green Soma on my plate. What about you, are you planning any swimwear?

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Foam Jasmine Bras

Oh my gosh, it’s been almost a month since my last post! Things have been crazy around here, we somewhat unexpectedly decided to put our house on the market, and move to a new place! We’re staying in the same city but moving to a larger lot with acreage, woods, and a creek. Bonus: one bedroom will be set aside for a sewing room! We’re thrilled, but it was sudden and there was a lot of work to be done to sell our current home. The majority of my sewing room was packed up and taken to storage. I did hang on to a few things and all my machines, so that I don’t lose my mind without sewing! So let’s see what I’ve been up to in the last month.


BRAS! While I was frantically packing, I realized that it would be a perfect time to make all those Jasmine Bras I’d planned a while back. Small pieces of fabric, elastic, and notions that I already had on hand. I can make them entirely on a regular machine, the pattern was small, and it was actually a need in my wardrobe. Perfect!


I made these two Jasmine Bras last year, in size small. I realized recently that they were fitting a little loose in the cups. I’m no longer nursing, and yeah, I’m not a D cup anymore. I decided to try the XS and the fit was much better. I’ve also been wanting to try sewing foam bras, both for lift and coverage. I have plenty of fancy lace bras, but reality has shown me that I’m WAY more likely to reach for a knit T-shirt bra.

In the last couple months I have made FOUR Jasmine Bras that meet the above requirements. They’re just so fun! I can easily churn one out in a single day. Planning is everything here though. I made myself a chart of all the designs I wanted, the notions I needed in which color, and how much. I placed an order with Sew Sassy Fabrics and got everything at once. Having the notions on hand and the pattern copied to cardboard means the sewing happens quickly.


First up is a black modal jersey bra with pre-formed cups sewn to the wrong side of the lining. I think these cups are from Wawak. This one is super soft and stretchy but the cups were difficult to sew evenly. I attached them to the lining before assembling the rest of the bra. The upper edges are finished with 1/4"  FOE from The Fabric Fairy, the bottom band is 3/4" plush-backed elastic and the straps are 1/2" pre-made from Sew Sassy Fabrics. Closure also from SSF.


Next, I used the precious scraps of my favorite jersey print, these electric colored feathers on grey, from Girl Charlee. The lining is a hot pink bamboo knit from Fabric.com. I've had both of these large scraps of fabric for probably four or five years! The upper edge is finished with 3/8" turquoise picot elastic from a flash deal website. The bottom band is the same elastic mentioned above and the straps are 1/2" strapping (no rings/sliders) from Sew Sassy Fabrics. Closure also from SSF. This is my first bra with cut and sew foam (from SSF). I ordered a 1/2 yard which ended up being maybe 50" wide? I didn't measure and it doesn't say on the website. I used Sarah's great tutorial here for assembly.


Sarah mentions that cut and sew foam tends to limit the vertical stretch of the fabric. I found this to be true. Additionally, by using picot elastic instead of FOE, I lost vertical length because I turned under the fabric to topstitch. Cotton jersey is also less stretchy than modal/spandex knit. All this to say, I find the feather bra to be slightly smaller than the black one. The pattern is exactly the same, but you can see how slight changes to fabric, finishings, and cups can make a big difference.

After the feather bra, I got the hair brained idea to try a different sewing order to recover some of that vertical stretch. Sarah's tutorial sews all the pieces together through the vertical seams. I opted to assemble each layer alone, then try to attach the elastic along the edges without catching the foam. I thought, if the foam is only anchored at the side seams, perhaps the fabric itself can stretch vertically and the foam will be more "free floating".


Spoiler alert: Sarah's way is better. Trying to stretch the lining and outer away from the foam and sew elastic to them was pretty challenging, even after I trimmed the foam. It worked out fine, but I prefer the other way.

This "test" bra is the one I REALLY needed in my underwear drawer. I only have one nude bra and it doesn't fit quite right anymore. The outer and lining are nylon/spandex milliskin from Girl Charlee (previously used in swimsuits). The upper edges are finished with 3/8" nude picot elastic. The bottom band is 1/2" nude plush-backed elastic. The straps are 1/2" pre-made. Closure and all notions from SSF.


The fit on this bra was not that great. The fabric is super stretchy, and even though I shortened the band slightly before sewing it up, it wasn't enough. I ended up taking the closure off, removing maybe 3/4" and then sewing it back on. I'm also not crazy about the 1/2" band elastic vs. 3/4". The 3/4" on the other bras feels way more secure. This bra will get worn, but only in the situation where I need a nude bra.


LASTLY (for now!) I found a generous scrap of this bird jersey hiding in my bag of lingerie stuff, and couldn't resist just one more. Especially since it matches this pair of boxer wear!


I really hit my groove with this sixth iteration of the pattern. The lining is the same hot pink bamboo knit from above. The upper edge is finished with 1/4" black picot elastic from SSF. The rest of the notions are the same as the feather bra. The band is a touch shorter than the pattern and I also have the shortest piece of band elastic yet (about 25 1/2"). This bra feels PERFECT. I did go back to Sarah's method for assembly, except I trimmed the upper and lower edges of the foam to make elastic application easier. I managed to add a bit more vertical height to the cups by sewing the band elastic slightly off from the edge, instead of lining it up exactly. You can't see a difference because you then turn the band elastic back and topstitch.


PHEW! There's more than you ever wanted to know about non-wired foam bras. But I think that seeing how different fabrics and notions play together can be very helpful. Here they all are with the bottom bands aligned, you can see the sizing is slightly different on each.


The biggest take-away here is that it took me SIX times sewing this bra before I thought I ended up with a perfect product. So just keep plugging away at it and you'll find what works for you!