Monday, August 31, 2015

Project Runway recap

Hi all! My recap is late this week, but I think you'll forgive me. My baby sister got married this weekend! Hopefully later this week I'll have some pictures showing off the bridesmaids' dresses, which I made, in action. My sister's best friend also made the wedding dress, and her own matron of honor dress. The mother of the groom made her outfit. It was awesome being surrounded by so many me-mades! Oh, and celebrating love and all that jazz :P

Spoilers ahead...

Best moments: The guy fishing in the middle of the show. Heh. I also liked this challenge. They're doing well with challenges this year.

Worst moments: Amanda's meltdown(s), blech. I can't stand it when people say they don't know what the judges want. The judges do NOT want you to pander to them and try making them happy, they want good design. So design good.

Gabrielle's scissors don't work? What? She can't thread a serger? I'm so confused.

Does Blake know how to use a sewing machine?

Best garments: The piping on Candice's jacket top thingy was gorgeous, but I think her dress was kind of bondagey. Edmond's was cool, but I wish he would have made a jumpsuit. I can't say that there's anything else I loved, which seems to be a common theme this season.

Worst garments: Amanda's mall maternity gown, just bad. And Blake's looked like a fish, though I guess that doesn't mean it wasn't innovative? 

Best quote: (Should I just change this to "best Swapnil quote"?)

"I have been waiting for this moment for a very long time...that sounded like a musical." --Swapnil

Honorable mention: "Ohhhh the big hand is the minutes." --Blake

Gabrielle probably deserved to be out for that truly awful "dress" she "made" but I was surprised it wasn't Amanda. Typically someone who has been in the bottom three times in a row doesn't keep getting second chances. Yet somehow she finds a way to keep complaining about how other people are worse than her. And Blake's win was a complete head-scratcher to me. I mean, I was a little distracted watching the episode, so maybe there is a way it made sense that I missed? Like, the challenge was secretly "who can make the most volume" or something?

Next week: More teams and a way to inflict pain on each other with paintball...what a good idea.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Pink Lace Swimsuit: In-Depth Review

I started to write one long post about my Seamwork swimsuit, but it was way too detailed and bogged down the beauty of the finished product. If you're interested in how I modified it, and how difficult it was to fit, read on! If you just want to look at pretty pictures, check out last week's post.

In general, I had two different kinds of adaptations to the pattern; changes for fit, and changes due to the see-through nature of the lace. Dealing with the lace was easier than working with fit, partly because of my experience last year with a similar fabric and this cardigan.

Let's start with the bottoms, which were very easy. I cut a small, based on my hip measurement, and removed 4 1/2 inches from the rise. I'm not in to high-rise anything, sorrynotsorry. The fit of these is pretty spot-on, though I think I need a slightly tighter elastic in the waist. Otherwise, no fit changes.

As I mentioned last week, I wanted to use the seam lines on the swim bottoms to "color block" with the lace. Basically I wanted the side panels to be unlined. I ended up "lining" the side panels with lace, so they are two layers of lace instead of lace+lining. It's a subtle peek-a-boo of skin, hopefully not too much. A lot of my seams are double-sewn due to the somewhat delicate nature of the lace. Sometimes I used a zig-zag stitch on my sewing machine, sometimes a straight stitch. All of the elastic is topstitched with my coverstitch (which is amazing on swimwear, in case you were wondering).

In order to make the side panel see-through, I disregarded the front lining pattern piece and simply constructed two fronts. One was all lace, and one had a lining center panel. Clear as mud? I haven't slept in two weeks (yay newborn growth spurts), so please ask questions if you have them! I did have to use a neon Sharpie and color in the white elastic, which could be seen through the lace. In hindsight I wish I would have figured out a way to cover the elastic.

The Reno top...well that was a pickle and a half (is that a phrase? again, no sleep...). Like all Seamwork patterns, it's meant to be a 3 hour project. I easily had twice that many hours into it, mostly because of my choice to use lace. However, 3 hours still seems unrealistic unless you're positive it will fit and already know how to make a bra/swimsuit. In case you couldn't tell, it is basically a bra with tie straps. Thank goodness I've read a lot of blog posts about bras, although I've never made anything other than a soft bra. I have a small band size but large cup size (thanks breastfeeding!) and I wasn't sure how to make that work. I couldn't just cut a large cup size because then it wouldn't fit into the size small band. I decided to do a full-bust adjustment to the cup pieces, similar to what I did here on an Ohhh Lulu bra. That method would enlarge the cup size without changing the bottom seam of the cup where it sews to the band. 

Problem: there is a lining piece to the cups, and it's one pattern piece instead of two. No center seam where I can make an adjustment. Solution: ignore the lining pattern piece and cut the lining from the two cup pieces. Additional problem: using lace, I could then see a seam in the cups. Additional solution: double up the lining and face the seams inward.

After all that planning and problem-solving, this method completely failed. I don't know why, I'm not skilled in bra-fitting, but the best way I can explain it is that the volume I added to the cups was in the wrong place. I added it to the fullest part of the cup pattern piece, but that was NOT the fullest part of my actual bust (thanks gravity). 

And as you've heard, you don't know whether these sort of fitting issues are happening until you finish the damn thing. This is where the tears happened. This lace fabric is AMAZING and I had a TON of hours into the project. I felt myself starting to slide into some serious post-baby body hate. But have you ever gotten teary with a toddler around? It's kind of impossible. My three year old daughter just patted my leg and told me it would be okay. Who can cry when something like that happens?

I had to do a few things to make this work. First, I pinched the top of the band in center-front, narrowing the distance in between my breasts, basically sewing a dart there. This is a known fit issue for me with bras so I wasn't surprised. Second, I added an underwire. I have zero sewing experience with underwires. I know I'm not "supposed" to wear them as a nursing mother (they can compress the breasts and cause clogged ducts, supposedly) and I don't wear them right now, but I do prefer them. Anyway, I ripped apart an old bra and took out the underwire, and sewed it into the seam allowance of the cups. I have no idea if that's right. It wasn't a perfect solution, but it made a HUGE difference in fit. And the textured lace hid all wonky/extra stitching.

Next, I pinched and tucked the excess fabric in the cups until it was laying flat, then sewed it down. Yup. Totally ridiculous, and if the fabric were anything other than a textured lace, you would be able to see it. Basically, all the volume I added with my FBA, I took back out. And in case you're wondering, I made two rough muslins of the cups, but they obviously didn't help. You'd have to muslin the whole thing.

Other changes...the neck straps are underlined, to hide the seams. I didn't have pink serger thread (what??) so the thread was showing. Underlining solved that issue and created stronger straps anyway. 


I created a casing for the boning because you could see it through the lace (obviously). Now the casing pokes through and threatens to jump out of the suit. In hindsight, I could have sewn the casing directly to the lining and inserted the boning. This was my first time working with boning, so, live and learn. BTW, Jo-Ann's sells boning by the yard, so it only cost me a buck.

Fabric bleed

After all of that, here's the bad news. Even though I pre-washed this fabric (with the lace in a lingerie bag) the colors bled the first time I wore it. And the second. And the third. I didn't have time to test it in water because I was literally tying up loose ends in the car on the way to a pool party. I got out of the pool to attend to baby H, who was wrapped in a swaddle blanket, and after ten minutes I realized the blanket was pink. Waaaaaaaaaah. The swimsuit came off for the rest of the day. I've since hand washed it and the color keeps bleeding. It's awful, and so sad that I can't think about it. I'm fairly positive it's the lining and not the lace. Thank goodness a cool snap of weather has moved through, or I would be epically depressed about not getting to wear it until I figure out a solution. I'll probably contact Fabric Mart, because swimsuit fabric that can't get wet is sort of...evil.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Mood Board of the Month: Almost Fall

August for me this year means early morning runs to drop my oldest girl at preschool, and a big family wedding at the end of the month. This month's mood board shows how to dress for these final hot summer days, with cool autumn nights.

// Patterns //
Just in case you have a fun summer wedding, try this twirly McCall's skirt (6994) paired with an interesting top like Megan Nielsen's Crescent Blouse. Take the day look to night (or to the office) by throwing on a Morris Blazer, from Grainline Studio. For running errands you'll want to keep it simple, so wear an easy knit dress like the Hooded Cowl Neck Dress from Burda. Just pull up the hood if your hot day turns into a breezy evening.

// Fabric //
Why not use a one-of-a-kind floral printed ponte, from Mood, for your skirt? Keep the top simple but beautiful with a lux Egyptian cotton in a pretty teal, from Emma One Sock. Your Morris Blazer will be extra versatile made in an Italian pinstripe wool suiting from Michael Levine Fabrics. And you'll never want to take off your cowl neck dress if it's made from deliciously soft bamboo French terry, from The Fabric Fairy.

This post is not sponsored by any pattern designer or fabric seller. I wish. I just have too much time on my hands and love planning wardrobes! Check out my Mood Board of the Month Pinterest board for all the links to my inspiration. 

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Project Runway recap

So what is a celebrity cruise? A cruise full of celebrities, or a cruise where they treat you like a celebrity?

Spoilers ahead...

Best moment: It was refreshing that Joseph confronted Merline about the challenge started. Usually people just bottle that up. But it did kind of turn tyrannical rather than cooperative. Then downright nasty. Perhaps he doesn't realize that many people thrive on their own nervous energy for creative purposes?

Gaaaaah Laurie and her daughter in the outtakes. All the feels.

I actually really liked this challenge. Lots of structure to the rules but still open to however the designers wanted to do things. 

Worst moment: How did Merline, a designer who has shown nothing but structured garments, get stuck draping a cape? And Hanmiao was making a swimsuit from non-stretch cotton? 

Best garment: Swapnil and Laurie's design was so pretty, and it looked like something a rich tourist would wear, while still being fun. Their's was the only one I liked, although I give honorable mention to the back of Blake and Kelly's Elvis jumpsuit.

Worst garment: There was a lot of bad. All the bottom looks plus Lindsey and Jake. I have to say, I take Jake's side. If Lindsey had a problem with him calling her "sweetie" then she should have told HIM, not the judges. I think his explanation on the runway made sense. He took a back seat and they ended up in the top. Edmond and Hanmiao fought and ended up in the bottom. Who made the best decision?

Best quote: "I need a cigarette!" --Edmond
"I need a cigarette too!" --Hanmiao 

Candice and Ashely's win...meh. Whatever, it was fine. One of those "I don't like it but somebody else will". Hanmiao being out, predictable. 

Next week: I'm not really sure!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Pink Lace Swimsuit

This suit. Is everything. Every now and then, one of those projects comes along, one that keeps you awake at night. One that makes you ignore all your responsibilities (sorry family, pizza delivery for dinner again). For me, this swimsuit is the first intensive project I've had in a year and it totally owned me a for week.

I just noticed my skin is the same color as this wall haha!

I've had this neon pink nylon lace (from Mood, sold out in pink but available in other colors) for months. It's textured, and decently strong, and did I mention amazing? I knew it was meant to be a swimsuit, especially when I received hot pink swimsuit fabric from Fabric Mart that matched perfectly. I've been agonizing over what pattern to use. I wanted something with color-blocking or seaming, because I was intrigued by the idea of using the lace without a lining in certain areas. 

When August's Seamwork landed in my inbox, I was immediately drawn to the swim bottoms (the Dakota pattern). It had seaming on the sides so I could incorporate that peek-a-boo factor, and the back was cut with a decent amount of coverage. I was a bit daunted by the swim top (the Reno pattern) but I thought I could make it work. And of course, I gave myself a deadline, which was an annual family cookout/pool party. Hence the sewing mania.

I did finish the suit in time for the party (literally tying up loose ends in the car on the way) but then the fabric ended up bleeding pink dye, even though I prewashed. Hence why these photos are in my house and not at the pool.

I did use a double-layer of lace on the side panels of the swim bottoms, without lining, although it's hard to see the effect.

I'll talk more about fitting and modifications next week (underlining, underwires, shortening the rise, failed FBAs...on and on!). For now, I just want to bask in my own accomplishment. I made this, a hey-look-at-me hot pink swimsuit. I wore this, a lacey bikini (12 weeks postpartum). I posted pictures of myself on the internet, on purpose. Clothes are empowering. Sewing is empowering. If you're reading this blog and you don't sew, you can learn. I did. If you're reading this blog and you do sew, use those skills. Make your own clothes and feel amazing in them. I will forget the hair-pulling and under-the-breath cursing that happened while I worked on this suit, and how angry I was at my body for not fitting the suit (rather than being angry at the suit for not fitting my body). But I will never forget the way the finished, fitted product makes me feel. The way my own abilities, and the work of my hands, makes me feel.

You got this mamas.

Free shipping this week on A Sewist's Notebook! Use code FGA815 at checkout. Can you believe mine is almost full??

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The rule of three

Did you catch Tasia's (from Sewaholic, duh) post last week about her fall planning? She mentioned a "rule of three" when it comes to purchasing fabric. Specifically, she discussed a recent purchase of fabric for a skirt, a blouse, and a jacket. Those will be her next three projects, and at the end she'll have a complete outfit.

I'd never heard of this "rule" but it instantly appealed to me. Last year I worked hard on the Wardrobe Architect project, and by choosing a color palette (navy, pink and grey) I've cut down tremendously on random fabric purchases. Y'know, the "oooo pretty" ones that never turn in to anything? 

After solidifying a color scheme, I think the next step in a sensible closet is to eliminate orphans. Those sad, lonely pieces without a mate, that are fine alone but don't make an outfit. I have lots of orphans and it makes me sad. This rule of three would certainly take care of that problem.

I love this cardigan, but it doesn't go with anything.

Do you plan entire outfits in one go, or are you like me, typically only thinking ahead one garment at a time?

Friday, August 14, 2015

Project Runway recap

Did you miss me this week? I still haven't solved the mystery of the bleeding neon swimsuit, in fact it's only getting worse. It's so comical that I can't even be mad. The first time in three years I've had a problem with dye bleed, and it's with a swimsuit. OF COURSE.

Spoilers ahead...

Best moment: So did Merline stop talking? 

I kind of love how Edmond is ignoring everyone. It's one thing to say you're not there to make friends, and then set out to make enemies. Finally, someone is just there to work. And did he pack a tuxedo shirt because he knew he'd be making a wedding dress?

Heidi somehow looks more beautiful every year. I'm beginning to think she made some unholy pact in exchange for everlasting good looks.

Worst moment: Blake, you're not adorable. Youth is no excuse for being immature and awful. The amount of fake bravado coming out of his mouth makes me nauseated.

Best garment: Swapnil made polka dots out of polka dots. Heh. But really, can anything top a paper wedding dress? No.

Worst garment: I hate Blake's dress less since he did use fabric from the cards, but blech. I didn't understand all the love. Also, his model scared the crap out of me. But definitely the worst was David. He knew what he was doing wouldn't fly but he did it anyway. I'm glad to see that he wasn't rewarded for not following the rules, which sometimes happens on this show.

And, umm...once you see Gabrielle's dress as a tampon, you can't un-see it. How was this not in the bottom??

Best quote: "Blake's design makes me feel like I'm in Vegas, and I've never been to Vegas."--Swapnil

The intro week and unconventional week are over. Now we can get to the real show. 

Next week: Teams. "You know, teamwork" to quote from my daughter's favorite Spongebob book. From the previews, it looks like maybe these designers need to learn a lesson from Spongebob.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

The best laid plans of mice and men

I have two problems today, dear readers.

First, how is one supposed to do a photoshoot of a swimsuit if all the pools are closed in early August?? Anyone opposed to seeing a swimsuit photographed in the woods?

Second, and more importantly, how do you set neon colors in fabrics that keep bleeding?? 

Both the lace and the lining are nylon/spandex blends. I prewashed on cold and hung to dry. The finished suit bled onto a bamboo swaddle blanket after being in a pool. The pink washed out of the blanket. I washed the suit again on cold with a little vinegar and hung to dry. It bled again onto some cotton shorts after being rinsed in a sink with plain water. Please tell me I didn't sew an unwearable swimsuit! Haaaaaaalp!

Friday, August 7, 2015

Project Runway recap

Woohoo! Project Runway! We're honestly struggling in this house with TV that we can watch when our kids are around. Thank goodness PR is back! Okay, it's not exactly geared towards families, but at least there are no gunfights or dead bodies (I'm looking at you, all the random Law and Order shows that are playing every time I turn on the TV).

Spoilers ahead...

Best moment: Tim and Heidi "playing basketball". Admittedly, this was sort of an outtake and not technically part of the show, but it was still awesome. More on-topic, I love how Ashley recovered from her freak out moment and put together a great look.

Worst moment: Blake. Just Blake. I enjoyed the judges' critiquing of him waaaaay too much. He was bragging so hard on his hand-sewing in the workroom, and it looked like garbage. Dmitry hand-sewed most of his garments and I never saw a stitch in two seasons. Blake, you suck.

Best garment: Ashley's winning look was the only one I actively liked, although David's and Swapnil's safe looks were also interesting to me. I was happy with the challenge, I prefer it when the first one is fairly open-ended.

Worst garment: The amount of lame, safe designs was sad. Also, a lot of these textiles were vibrating on my screen...anyone else?

hated Duncan's pink blanket. And I love pink. I hate to say it, but I think Tim let him down on that one. And the other designers loved it too? All I can say is, I told you so.

Yes, I did just quote myself on my own blog.

Best quote: "Everyone's just running around like they're getting free food." --Swapnil and his beautiful blue eyes.

I hope that the designs improve as the weeks go on, because these were underwhelming. I understand that the first week is hard, though, so we'll see. I really like Ashley, and if Marline stops talking and lets her designs speak for her, she'll be better off. Do you have any favorites yet?

Next week: unconventional challenge...blah

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Project Runway preview

Tonight at 9pm EST on Lifetime, season 14 of Project Runway debuts! As always, I've done the grunt work for you and perused the Q&As of the new designers. Let's see what we're working with this year!

Amanda--Remember that season when they picked a bunch of people and told them they were on the show, then cut a few before it even started? She was one of them. Her clothes are fun.

Ashley--She's a baby, 23! Most of her clothing is for plus-size women, so I'm interested to see if she can design for the stick figure models that PR provides.

Blake--Is it a requirement that this show have a contestant named Blake every single year? This guy's answers were super cocky and annoying. He's 24's an act? To cover up his insecurities?

Candice--She seems suuuuuper deep and thoughtful, which is great in a friend but maybe not in a time-crunch situation. Her entire closet (her own clothes) was black. Lots of leather.

David--Actually wishes the menswear challenge will happen. I respect that. Men who don't sew menswear weird me out.

Duncan--It's never a good sign when someone says "I hope I can win!" However, he's from New Zealand, so I forgive him everything as long as he keeps talking.

Edmond--He's been auditioning since season 1, so he's...tenacious?

Gabrielle--This girl reminded me a lot of Leanne. Softspoken, but talented and focused on her client. Watch out for her!

Hanmiao--She hasn't thought about winning...see Duncan, above.

Jake--The answer to his first question on the web was longer than about 10 other designer's entire Q&A. He has no traditional schooling, which I think can be an advantage on this show as long as you know how to sew.

Joseph--His answers were so blah and didn't stand out at all, but on screen he was so. mean.

Kelly--Another self-taught designer, she's willing to take risks, but her clothes might go too far into artsy-crafty.

Laurie--Anyone who lists time management as a weakness is going to have trouble on this show, but her clothes are classy and cool.

Lindsey--Explicitly said she's here for exposure. Not sure how I feel about that.

Merline--Finally, someone who isn't afraid of team challenges! If she can get a handle on her own time management issues she could do well.

Swapnil--Pretty tight-lipped and can't handle working with others. He might be one to run off and leave the show during a team challenge like what's his name before him. His work is pretty intricate so he might have time issues.

This seems like a good group of designers. A bunch of them were from San Francisco, I'm wondering if any of them know one another. You can actually watch Road to the Runway online now, if you just can't wait until tonight!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

August Happenings

August generally means back to school and sweltering weather, but for me it means sewing eye candy on Instagram, and the return of Project Runway!

If you haven't been following along, Rachel at House of Pinheiro is hosting #sewphotohop all month long. Each day has a different theme, like "colorful" (yesterday's theme).

Trust me, you'll want to stick around and see what that beautiful fabric is becoming! Hint: it just happens to coincide with what's going on at Indie Sew this week.

Back to #sewphotohop, you'll recall that the sewing community did something similar back in November, and it was super fun. Follow me on IG or just check the hashtag to play along. I believe there are even some giveaways planned!

This Thursday, Project Runway returns! It feels like it's been foreeeeeever since it's been on TV, so I'm very excited. I mean, I can't generally stay awake past 10pm, but I'll be catching it on my DVR (or maybe my computer screen, we're probably turning our cable off!!) the next day. Zac Posen has been teasing the show on IG and it's making me crazy! I'll definitely be recapping it here for everyone to enjoy, but for now check out the contestants on the Lifetime website.

Are you finding time to sew in this busy month?

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