Thursday, December 29, 2016

Project Runway recap

Hello friends! I've been on a bit of a break with Christmas and my husband's vacation, so just popping in to rehash the finale episodes of Project Runway.

Spoilers ahead...

I enjoyed the first part of the finale with the home visits, and it was nice that once they were back in NY there wasn't any funny business. No last-minute looks or challenges, just put together a small show with what you've already made. Oh, and here's more money to blow at Mood just for funsies!

I could have clapped and done a happy dance when I heard Laurence say she didn't have any black in her collection, especially since she said her inspiration was going from darkness to light! I was impressed with her pieces she showed Tim and thought they looked expensive. Rik and Roberi both had issues with cohesion and that was obvious before the judges brought it up. To be honest, I'm not sure what those two were thinking. And Erin did Erin per usual, except she got a friend to make whackado prints for her. Blah.

It's no secret that I like Laurence the best, both her personality and her clothes. Sadly, I begrudgingly must agree with the judges that she didn't do enough with her collection. The garments were beautifully made, looked expensive, and her concept was solid, but they weren't exciting. It's fine if that's not her, but against the other collections understated is never going to win. Sigh.

Rik's collection was cray cray. I tried to understand the denim embroidery with the leather and just couldn't. Plus it was like, acid wash denim, with paisley, and it all just screamed ugly 90s to me.

Roberi. I just don't know. There were things I liked, but the fluorescent fabric cheapened the collection for me. The dress with the feathers that Heidi liked was the most memorable of the entire finale, I didn't even realize it was feathers. I think he was probably deserving of second place.

Erin...sigh. Correct me if I'm wrong, but has Erin made anything wearable this entire season? Perhaps the jumpsuit from a few challenges back, but that was an afterthought. I hated her collection. It was all crafty and embellished and ugly. Those weren't clothes, they were more like art that a person was wearing. Don't get me wrong, art has its place, but I didn't think its place was on a fashion tv show.

I'm sad with this season. I feel let down that Erin was proclaimed the winner from the beginning. There hasn't been any suspense leading up to her win, which makes for crummy tv on top of the fact that I don't like her clothes. So thanks a lot PR, you made me regret watching this whole season!

How do you feel about Erin's win? Was it deserved?

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Project Runway recap

Time is getting away from me friends. Less than two weeks until Christmas, I'm not done shopping, Project Runway is almost over, I haven't started sewing the stockings I want to make...the pressure is on. Just like with the designers in this last episode. Yes, Christmas stockings=fashion week.

Spoilers ahead...

Best moments: Am I right in remembering that nobody complained about having another unconventional challenge? I guess these guys are ready for anything!

Worst moments: THEY might not have complained, but I will. Tired of it. Over it. Thinking it's a setup for crafty Erin to make embellishments out of garbage.

Best garments: I liked both jumpsuits, but those had more to do with fabric than design. For the unconventional looks, Laurence's dress was super interesting and beautiful, I just wish I hadn't seen a bird seed dress before on this show (although her's was much more effortless).

Worst garments: I didn't like Erin's unconventional look, but it was creative, I'll give her that. I was amazed that Roberi finished his garment but it didn't do much for me, it felt unfinished. Rik's looks both looked old to me. Like most weeks, there were some details to like, but nothing that blew me away.

So there we have it, the (final?) four moving on to fashion week. It wouldn't surprise me if next week is the real final challenge though. Cornelius going home wasn't much of a shock. This week felt a bit like an episode we just had to trudge through to get to the real business.

Next week: home visits!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Jamie Jeans fit help

Since I've worn my first pair of Jamie Jeans nearly to death, I figured it was time to make another. My first pair is made from a super-stretchy cotton/spandex denim, and I removed a lot of width to make them fit tightly, as intended. This pair is from a more traditional stretch denim, and I need a little help with the fit.

These *feel* okay on, when standing, but looking at the photos I see a lot of wrinkles. My biggest issue is that when I bend my legs, the fabric doesn't seem to stretch much. The pants become tight and uncomfortable. I'm wondering if I should let them out a bit? Finish them as-is and let time stretch them out and break them in? I've pulled out my two fit books but I'm looking for some additional feedback. I haven't made many pants, especially tight ones, so I'll take all the help I can get!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Project Runway recap

Only a few more episodes to go this season! This has been a good group of designers, although I hope they kick it up a notch going into the last few weeks. Maybe more dramatic designers inspire more creativity?

Spoilers ahead...

Best moments: Tim crawling around on the floor and getting tricked by Swatch. Heh. I can relate. Sometimes I think my kids do that sort of stuff to me on purpose.

Worst moments: Another unconventional challenge? Barf. It was only slightly more redeemable because they were asked to combine with fabric.

Best garments: I don't know if I liked any of them. I don't typically like avante garde, though. If I had to pick one, it would be Rik's, since it was still wearable enough.

Worst garments: Did Erin deserve her win? Probably, she did the best combining materials and innovating. But I'm so tired of her and bored with her designs. Oh look, a yellow something or other with oversized pockets and embellishments. Every. Time. She doesn't have any range. Similarly, I was very disappointed with Laurence. That dress could have fit in last week's challenge, which says that it wasn't very avante garde. The only risk she took was length, and that's a risk she's taken before.

Best quote: "You speak Spanish?!" --Roberi

I was honestly shocked by Mah-Jing's elimination. Heidi seemed to like his design so I thought that was a sure sign he'd be staying. I guess they decided that Cornelius' dress was more avante garde (in other words, scarier!). So now we're left wondering, who is going to show at Fashion Week? Surely Laurence and probably Erin, who else?

Next week: unconventional again...but Georgina!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Cozy Winter Gear

It's been years since I've done regular shopping for myself. I sew almost all of my own clothing, and what I need to buy, I buy second-hand. But one piece of clothing has always eluded me: socks. A few years ago my husband got me a book about knitting, and I learned the basic stitches, but I haven't been able to devote enough time to it. I desperately wanted to learn how to knit my own socks. Well, while time was passing me by, an easier solution came along.

cozy toes socks

These are the Cozy Toes Socks by Peek-a-Boo Pattern Shop (affiliate link). Now if I don't learn how to knit until I'm old and grey, I can still sew my own socks! And obviously, they require such little fabric that it's basically a freebie sew! Can you tell I'm excited! More exclamation marks!

These are stretched pretty tightly around my foot
so my stitching is showing.

This pattern has a lot of options. There is ankle cut, crew cut, and knee-high. There are multiple foot sizes as well as multiple leg sizes (slim, regular, plus). There are templates for making animal faces, if you're so inclined. Following the pattern directions and measuring my foot and calf, I was able to correctly pick my size the first time. I did make a single sock as a muslin before proceeding any further, but it fit without adjustments. This is the ankle cut, with slim width.

 Now for the bad news. I have been sewing Amy's patterns for four years and this was the most difficult to assemble that I have ever experienced. All of the options I noted above are great, but I got very confused trying to put the paper pattern together. The sock is three pieces and not intuitive. Normally Amy provides a diagram of how each piece of paper fits together but for some reason there was not a diagram in this pattern. Maybe I just have mommy brain, but it was very frustrating.  I also could not print pattern without color ink. No matter which options I tried, it refused to print grayscale  or black-and-white. If you do not have access to a color printer you cannot use this pattern.

Once the pattern was assembled, the directions do a great job helping you put the sock together. I think a sewing machine was recommended over a serger, but mine was eating my fabric. It worked fine with a serger if you're comfortable on one. And once you've done a single sock, it's super simple to make more. I will definitely be using this pattern over and over. The fabric I used here is modal/cotton/spandex French terry left over from my Irena. Soft and cozy!

woman's beanie hat

The second me-made that's keeping me warm this winter is my Delia Beanie from Named. A month or so ago I suddenly felt the need for a hat like this, and scoured Pinterest for a free pattern. I found a kid's pattern, made my daughter one, made one for a friend's son, then enlarged the pattern to make myself one. And forgot all about it. Only to discover that I already bought the Delia ages ago. This is why it's a good idea to browse your Dropbox regularly!

There aren't a lot of Delias floating around the internet, but I love Named and their other patterns I've tried. This one didn't let me down. The hat is one-sized, self-lined, and finished with a small amount of hand-stitching. There is an option for an applique, which I left off this time but would be easy to do as it's clearly marked on the pattern.

There was some head-scratching going on here to make sure I did it all correctly, but if you make your fabric match the illustrations you can figure it out. It was a fast sew on my serger and I finished the hand-stitching in front of the TV.

This is my impression of a too-cool sk8tr grl.

I did not sew down the "flap" in case I wanted to make my hat taller and slouchier, or in case my 4 year old wants to wear it. She stole it right out of my hands when it was finished. The fabric I used is a cotton/wool/spandex knit leftover from these leggings. It's incredibly warm and I love those leggings, I knew it would be perfect for this hat. I had just enough left for it, and all the rest I can use for socks!

Side note: in these photos I'm wearing Named Jamie Jeans, my Hey June Lane Raglan hoodie, and my New Look 6216 dolman top. Plus a me-made hat and socks! Killin' it y'all.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Cyber Monday sale!

A quick post today to remind you of my Instagram giveaway ending tonight, and to give you the sale code for 40% off any of my books! Grab the large Sewist's Notebook, the go-anywhere 6x9, the kid's version, or the newly-released swatch book, all with a huge sale! See them all here, and use code CYBER40 at checkout!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Introducing A Sewist's Swatch Book!

Giveaway and sale alert! I'm so excited to share my new book with you today, and one lucky reader will be able to win a copy of it! What exactly is A Sewist's Swatch Book? It's the perfect companion to your Sewist's Notebooks. When I first started sewing and buying fabric, I had an encyclopedic knowledge of each of my purchases. But as time went by and my stash grew, I started forgetting things. Where did this interlock come from? Was I saving it for something? What's the composition of this knit? I had done extensive photo cataloging, but without a physical swatch I lost track of what was what. I started wishing for a physical way to record my lovely fabrics, so I could see and touch all of my fabrics at once (even the ones packed away!).

The book contains over 100 pages for cataloging fabric, featuring the same options for quick-circling that I love from the original Sewist's Notebook.

There is a key for universal care symbols, as well as a guide for determining the stretch percentage of your fabric.

I've started filling up my own book and I'm so glad that I can use it to be more efficient with my projects. I'm always forgetting what has been pre-washed and how much yardage I have. Now I can quickly see if a fabric is ready to go.

110 Creations: A Sewist's Swatch Book has been almost two years in the making. It took a backseat to having two babies, but now it's ready to be brought into the world as well! Pick up a copy HERE (use code BFRIDAY33 for 33% off!), or win your own through my Instagram contest HERE. Sale ends 11/27 at midnight eastern, and giveaway closes 11/28.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Project Runway recap

Wow, this week's episode was very interesting! A healthy dose of karma, some poor decisions at Mood, and some scary heights. What's not to love?

Spoilers ahead...

Best moments: I liked this challenge. They're doing a great job of challenging the designers with just enough wiggle room for creativity. I especially liked Mah-Jing this week, he's getting bolder and seems to be having fun with the competition, which is only going to help him out.

Worst moments: I do just fine with heights, but the idea of the helicopter ride freaked me out for some reason!

Best garments: I've come to accept that Laurence is the only one left whose aesthetic I like. Her dress was adorable (didn't like that she apparently left uncut threads on it?) but also strong. I think maybe the skyline appliqué was hard to see on the runway so perhaps that's why she was just safe, or maybe it's a motif that's just been done before. Cornelius' dress was interesting, editorial enough, but didn't look comfortable, so I'm kind of on the fence about it.

Worst garments: It's pretty unacceptable that Dexter's model wore her own undergarments with his design. He was all talk about using appliqués or doubling up the fabric but he just didn't. Basically, he cheated. And sorry Dex, the jacket shoulders were ugly the first time. I was vastly disappointed with Rik, and Roberi for that matter. Neither design said "strong" to me, and Rik's looked like his model got caught in a windstorm with dirty toilet paper. I didn't understand it at all. I also thought the ruffle on Erin's dress made it look like a nightgown and didn't know why the judges liked it.

Best quote: "What woman wants to look like Patrick from SpongeBob SquarePants?" --Rik

I think Dexter got what he deserved in the double elimination, and Nathalia, unfortunately, did as well. I agree with Nina that he can do more and he did something safe for himself. Nathalia was running on borrowed time after her unfinished jacket last week. But this should have been a triple elimination because I'm so tired of Erin. Send her home already!

Stay tuned this week for a big announcement and something new! Or get a sneak peek right now on Instagram.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Jacquard Knit Cardigan

I really should stay off of Pinterest. Sometimes I get these ideas in my head, and no matter how hard I try, they don't pan out. That's what happened with today's creation, a kimono-sleeve cardigan from McCall's 6802.

First, fabric. I got this medium-weight jacquard knit from the Etsy shop Urban Rag Trader and it is awesome. And it was $4/yard!! It's thick, warm, and behaved like a ponte. This was one of those times where I had a great fabric and didn't want to screw it up with the wrong pattern, but I think I kind of did. Here are my inspiration photos from Pinterest to show you where my train of thought was going:

I chose McCall's 6802 because it had the fewest seam lines of any of my cardigan patterns. I liked the draped front that could turn and show the reverse, which in this case is a nice speckled black. I've made the pattern once before, so it was already cut, which might have influenced me a bit too much. I had the same problem this time around that I did the last time (slow learner?). There was way too much volume. I made a size 8, the smallest in the envelope. I did not add pockets.

Sewn as-drafted it looked way too much like a bathrobe. After I took the above photo, I went back and removed 1" under the arm, starting at the sleeve hem and then tapering to nothing at the hip. It gave me a slightly more fitted look like my inspiration photos. But the more I looked at it, the more I realized I should have made a cardigan pattern with set-in sleeves. I had been trying to avoid crazy directional issues with lots of seams but it just didn't work.

It's possible I just have a styling issue. I tried my best here, but perhaps I should have thought of potential pairings before sewing, huh? After finishing, I realized that what I should have made was a Morris Blazer. I still could have gotten the cool reverse black lapel, but it would be more structured. I'm half-tempted to order more of this fabric just to overcome my regret!

An additional note about this pattern: the waterfall portion is not hemmed or finished in any way. There is a center-back seam behind the neck that shows when you turn down the drape.

I covered my seam by hand with black rayon seam tape. If I were more fired up about this cardi I would do the same for the rest of the seams, since they occasionally peak out. And because the drape isn't finished, there is a part inside where the hem meets an un-hemmed part and just looks sloppy:

I could not double-turn this fabric to hem, it was too thick for my coverstitch, so I only have a single turn here. But you get the point.

I will not make this pattern again, I've learned my lesson. I'd still like to decide on outfit options though so I can wear this one, since the fabric is cozy and warm. Am I being too hard on myself or is everyone else seeing what I'm seeing here?

Monday, November 14, 2016

Project Runway recap

We're at that point in the season where I'm not going to like the eliminations. Everyone left is a good designer, so the "bottom" will be kind of murky. On the flip side, I don't think there is a clear front-runner. I'm really not sure who will make it to the end!

Spoilers ahead...

Best moments: For the most part, everyone seemed energized about seeing their loved ones. Usually somebody loses it and gets thrown off their game, but I don't think that happened here. I like that Mah-Jing had a chance to connect with his mom, despite his confession that they didn't have the best relationship. It seemed like he felt redemption in making a great design for her. And who wasn't happy to hear about a $50,000 prize?!

Worst moments: It felt pretty transparent that Jenni would be eliminated. From the consultation on, she was having a hard time with her mom. Additionally, I hated that we didn't see much of Laurence and her daughter, given what we heard of their story earlier in the season.

Best garments: Roberi's graphic dress for his graphic designer friend was adorable. Rik's age-appropriate-but-not-frumpy design was great too, though maybe a little too simple for a win. I think Mah-Jing should have won, but I guess "cute mom" prevailed over "bad ass mom"'.

Worst garments: I am completely confused as to why Erin is still here. At this point, the judges should have been questioning her taste, and her ability to do anything other than a coat. The floral lace was beyond hideous. I didn't hate Jenni's design, but I hated it for her mom. If the preschool director at my daughter's school dressed like that, I would question the entire place. It's kind of like Jenni gave up and just made an outfit for herself. Nathalia's was much worse, in my opinion, and it wasn't even finished. There's no reason why that coat should have ended up so big, and the unpressed facing was making me crazy.

I do not want to see a collection from Erin.  Please tell me that isn't going to happen!

Next week: helicopter rides!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Jeans Zipper Repair

It's the time of the year for sharing...germs, that is. A yucky cold has been making its way around my house, and combined with daylight savings time (the nemesis of parents everywhere) I haven't had much energy for sewing this week. Instead, I tackled an item from my mending pile and learned something new--how to fix a broken jeans zipper.

I have one pair of me-made jeans, using the Jamie Jeans pattern from Named. Thanks to the super-stretchy fabric, I was able to fit back into these almost immediately post-partum. I love them hard. Imagine my devastation when, one busy Monday morning (isn't it always a Monday?) I yanked the zipper pull right off. At first I was worried that they were ruined forever, that I'd have to find a way to convert it into a button fly. But I found this tutorial about fixing broken zippers and rejoiced.

The reason my zipper pull came off in the first place is because I (apparently) didn't secure the tape inside of my waistband. Or I did, but over time it worked its way loose. From now on, I will add zipper stops at the top of my cut zippers. Perhaps I should have been doing that all along, but one of the problems with being self-taught is missing out on the little things. That is, until you learn the lesson the hard way!

After shopping around locally, I was unable to find a zipper repair kit as mentioned in the tutorial, and I ended up ordering the pieces I needed from Wawak. It was less expensive anyway, considering I purchased a quantity of 100 zipper stops for a few dollars. I did, however, order the wrong color. I checked an old invoice from Wawak and thought I was correctly matching some zippers I bought there, but I guess I'm older and more forgetful than I thought. I also ordered some pliers from Wawak since I didn't have any dedicated to sewing.

Following the tutorial wasn't as easy as I'd hoped. I couldn't remove the existing bottom stop, no matter how hard I yanked with the pliers. I took a risk and cut it off. Luckily, it worked. I was able to put the zipper pull back on from the bottom, and then add a new bottom stop.

I also could not clamp the new top stops over existing teeth. I had to remove the top teeth, which was kind of destroying the zipper tape, thus making it pointless because I'd have nowhere to clamp the top stop. I ended up wiggling the teeth higher but not completely off, leaving enough space to clamp the top stop.

It's good enough. I'll certainly be more careful from now on when zipping these up. Unless the top stops fall off, I shouldn't have any more problems. I'll gladly spend 30 minutes with a pair of pliers versus hours assembling a new pair of jeans!

Have you ever repaired a pants zipper?

Monday, November 7, 2016

Project Runway recap

I have to say, this season has been pretty entertaining. The challenges are fresh and interesting and the people aren't being too dramatic. Props to Heidi and the other producers for not just phoning it in and making a paycheck every week.

Spoilers ahead...

Best moments: I liked the idea of the pop-up shop with the public voting. Any time the clothes are doing something other than walking a runway (in this case, standing still) we get a new dimension to it. More often than not, clothes are on a rack or not moving, so seeing them on standing models makes more sense from a marketing perspective. I also think it was a good reality check for certain designers to hear blunt comments from "normal" people about some questionable choices in the clothes.

The Tim Gunn save was well deserved. More on that below.

Worst moments: Correct me if I'm wrong, but Cornelius voluntarily gave Erin his skirt, and she did not once offer to then make him a replacement? Not that we saw, right? And Erin and Dexter both had the audacity to say that Cornelius deserved to go home even though he said all the things the judges said. And the judges still eliminated him. I'm equal parts enraged over this and apathetic. Apathy, because I have a hard time believing the elimination wasn't staged. It was wrong, on so many levels, to send Cornelius home. Like, so wrong that it makes more sense that the judges knew Tim would save him. They didn't want to eliminate anyone so they picked the person who would get to stay. Am I crazy to think that?

Best collection: The blue team and the neutral team were both wonderful. Team Neutral pulled themselves out of a giant hole, they should be very happy. Team Blue. I was in love as much as the judges. I want Laurence's look. It's not practical at all for my life but I still want it. I want to be that woman! I can make the tshirt work, at least.

Worst collection: Um. Red. Why was there so much red?? I'm with Cornelius, it hurt my eyes after a while. I didn't really like Erin's jacket, the pockets were ridiculous. I thought Dexter's look was interesting, I didn't hate it as much as Zac did. Although I'm curious about the giant armholes and the level of side boob. I think Dexter is a bit too much in love with his own work and lacks a critical eye. Probably that applies to Erin as well.

Best quote: "Why do we always have to do sexy?" --Roberi

If I hear one word from Erin or Dexter about how unfair it is for Cornelius to still be there, I may climb through my TV and punch them. The way they handled this challenge was pathetic. Erin made a terrible garment last week and because she was on a team this week she coasted through with just a coat. I'm over her coats. I'm kind of over Laurence's jackets too, even though I love them. Show me something new.

Next week: Relatives (moms?) show up and you know somebody is going to be thrown completely off his or her game.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Foxy Layette: Organic Cotton Plus review

Babies wearing foxes: is there anything cuter than that? During my last pregnancy, I bought the Oliver+S Lullaby Layette pattern with the heartfelt intentions of making a top in double gauze for my summer baby. My good intentions fell by the wayside when I realized how difficult that would be to sew, and, frankly, when I ran out of mojo after a lot of other baby projects. But when it came time for another review for Organic Cotton Plus, I knew now was a much better time to tackle the pattern.

OCP has a great selection of cotton prints and solids. I know from past experience that the quality will be amazing (and their shipping is SO fast!). They sell a lot of knits, which is what I primarily sew, but when I order from them I often choose wovens because I know I don't have to worry about quality. I chose a poplin called "Fox in the Foxgloves" and this is the navy colorway. I think the colors are great, kind of boyish but the print is kind of girlish without being TOO girly. It's a good balance. I have a few small scraps left and you better believe I'm saving them for pocket bags!

The shirt is a size 3-6 month with 1" of length added to the bodice. Baby M is not quite 4 months old but she's...big...for her age at 18lbs! For reference, H is almost a year and a half old and she's a fairly average 23lbs. On an average sized 4 month old I think the baby would be swimming a bit, which has been my past experience with O+S, that it runs a little large. Or maybe I'm just not used to woven fabrics that need more ease.

The top is very cute and the instructions were up to the normal high standard of O+S. The placket was intimidating but if you follow the directions it's fine. I do recommend making a quick practice one, though, if you've never done a placket. It won't take much fabric and will teach you something new. I did mine backwards because I accidentally cut the placket backwards.

My husband frequently complains about buttons on children's clothing (I can't blame him) so I chose to do snaps. The KAM snaps I usually use are size 20 and were too big for the placket, which was disappointing. I opted for sew-on snaps, but sewing them on at the end meant that I could see my stitches. Whomp. I do have smaller set-in snaps from Snap Source, but you may recall how badly that went the last time. The placket is NOT interfaced so I knew those weren't going to work. I ended up hand-sewing a single snap on the placket and taking careful stitches inside the placket so you can't see them from the outside. I may sew another snap on in the same fashion but it was fairly tricky. I should have sewn them on before assembling the placket and that would have hidden all the stitching.

The Lullaby Layette pattern also includes a view for a reversible raglan jacket. I've seen these types of jackets before but never sewn one. It was easy enough, just a bit time-consuming since I made my own bias tape from the fox fabric. The brown "outer" layer is from Organic Cotton Plus also and is called "blanket fabric". I know what you're thinking...a coat from a blanket? But yes, I went there! And the fabric is exactly what you'd expect, it's like the world's coziest blanket (and there are other awesome colors like this Very Berry). The weave is loose but not TOO loose to sew. And yes, all my kids wanted it for a blanket the second it came out of the wash. It's very wide, 96", so with my leftovers I do think I'll make a small blanket for the car.

The selvedge of the blanket fabric has a portion that is a plain weave, rather than the textured weave, so I played with that edge and made it the edge of the jacket. It was then easier to set in snaps (this portion IS interfaced). I used my KAM snaps here.

The "inner" fabric for the jacket is a super awesome heavy flannel. I know what you're thinking...boring! It's definitely not. It's the thickest flannel I've ever felt and the brushed side is very soft. I can think of about 20 uses for my remnants ("Swiffer" cloth, cloth wipes, makeup remover, interfacing, cloth diaper inserts, nursing pads just to name a few). Flannel is one of those fabrics I keep around because I never know what it's going to be good for next. For example, I'm using it as a backdrop behind M for this photo shoot!

I'm incredibly pleased with how the jacket turned out because it will be plenty warm enough for winter, and perfect for the car because it's fairly trim. We've been experiencing some unusually warm November weather so even a poplin top is going to see some action right now. And with this quality, it's easily a piece I can pass on to family or friends. And you can see that the hard-to-please baby loves it, she's giving the outfit a thumbs up!

Organic Cotton Plus sent me the fabric in this post for free in exchange for my review, but my opinions are my own. I purchased the pattern. This post contains affiliate links.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Project Runway recap

Florida looks so warm. I do like living in Indiana (especially in the fall!) but it's been six years since I've seen the ocean. Man I need a vacation!

Spoilers ahead...

Best moments: It was nice that the designers got a bit of a break between challenges, although it wouldn't surprise me if they flew to FL and back in one day. I'm sure it was tiring, but mentally, taking a break from the workroom must have helped.

Cornelius is being less awful.

Worst moments: Tasha got eliminated right before the streetwear challenge? Can you see my face?

See all the looks here.

Best garments: I liked Rik's quite a bit, although we barely saw it. I thought Nathalia's coat was going to turn out super ugly, but she listened to feedback and didn't add fur and it turned out really nicely. Laurence did a good job but I wish the jacket would have been a different color and therefore less referential to Michael Jackson.

Worst garments: I didn't hate Brik's (at least he tried something). I didn't hate Cornelius' pants, although his top was unacceptable. To me, Erin's was clearly the worst, from the conception all the way to the execution. Anything interesting that happened with the top was a happy accident resulting from her lack of time. They saved her because she's her. I don't know why she phoned it in so hard this challenge but she seems to be burned out.

Best quote: "Just make sure it doesn't go from street to the Broadway version of street." --Tim

So Brik is gone, which isn't surprising. This was possibly the only chance to oust Erin and it didn't happen, so surely she's destined for final 3, along with Laurence and...?

Next week: Teams again.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Itch to Stitch Irena Top

A while ago (sorry I can't be more specific, time has no meaning for me) Shannon blogged her Irena Top from Itch to Stitch, and I knew I had to have it. I waited for cool weather and a sale and now I have my own Irena!

This top appealed to me because the cowl neck is low enough for nursing access. It's difficult to nurse in the winter when you're all bundled up in layers, so I take advantage whenever I find a pattern that will work and keep me warm. I used a cotton/modal/Lycra French terry for this one, I believe it was from Girl Charlee but I can't recall exactly.

I've been trying to be more thoughtful about fit lately. I make a lot of knit tops, they're fun and my favorite to wear. As easy as they are, they can still fit pretty wonky if you're not careful, and because there are so few seams it can be hard to figure out why the fit might be wrong. I've spent more time upfront looking at photos of patterns and paying attention to fit through the shoulders, the bust, and to length. Does something strike me as "off"? Can I pinpoint what and why? How can I fix it? What is it that is drawing me to the pattern in the first place?

For the Irena, I liked the neckline, as I said. But something was hitting me about the proportions, and I finally figured it out after I saw a top made without the bottom band. Having the horizontal line of the cowl under the bust, and then another horizontal line at the hem band, makes the body look a little chopped. I also felt like the sleeve cuff was too big/long and made the arms looked chopped as well. Based on these observations, I left off the bottom band, lengthening the bodice 3" at the L/S line to make up for it. I also left off the arm bands.

Looking at photos in the Facebook group, it looked like a top that errored on the larger size was worse than going smaller. The vertical cowl seam is so close to the armscythe that if it's too big, your sleeve will start way down off your shoulder. If in doubt, size down. I have a 36" bust and made a size 4. Looking over the photos, it might still be too wide. I typically do have narrow shoulders and have to adjust knit tops. You can see a lot of wrinkling in the above photo where it looks like the top is trying NOT to fall off me.

At this point, the bottom is unhemmed as are the sleeves, although I tacked down all the seam allowances with my sewing machine. I can't decide about the sleeves, I think I might still want a (smaller) band to finish them. For the hem, I simply don't have dark green cone thread! The closest I have is black. So until my next Wawak order this will probably stay unhemmed.

One great feature of this design isn't noted online and is hard to see, but the cowl is two pieces. On the back of the neck is a more fitted section which greatly improves how the cowl lays. I have a kid's pattern that has a cowl neck like this and it's just one large piece that flops a bit behind the head.

If you've never sewn a cowl like this, I advise you to go super slowly and use a lot of basting. The directions in the pattern are great but it can still be tricky. My first pass was pretty good, so I didn't fiddle with it any further. It's still pulling a tiny bit but I can live with that over ripping a hole in my fabric.

At the end of this project I feel the same way I felt before I started. I wish I could adapt the cowl onto my copy of the Renfrew. The two-piece cowl was a nice surprise, so I'm glad I bought the pattern anyway, but the fit of the Renfrew is so much better for me. I spent an afternoon trying to pattern-mash these two together but couldn't quite make it work, so I stashed it into a bag and will come back to it another time. I wore this top all day yesterday and kept plenty warm, but the fact that it was unfinished bothered me more than I thought it would. It will probably hang out in the closet for a while until I'm motivated to work on it again.

Do you have any tried-and-true tips on fitting knits? Or books I can read? Or should I just treat my well-fitting Renfrew as a block and adapt/draft my own patterns from there?

Side note: with my leftover FT I'm about to make 30,000 pairs of socks using the brand new Cozy Toes pattern from Peek-a-Boo Pattern Shop. Finally I can #makeallthethings!! (affiliate link)

Monday, October 24, 2016

Project Runway recap

I've been reading the Mood Guide to Fabric this week, and it's making me want to go there SO BADLY. Even more than usual. I'm trying to convince my husband that we need to take a trip to New York for our 10 year wedding 3 years. We can make that happen, right?

Spoilers ahead...

Best moments: This was a total setup, but I did chuckle when Dexter and Erin were in the bottom after all their crooning about themselves. You better believe the other designers noticed and will call them out on it, too!

The Elyx whatever-it-was-bar-thingy-place-lounge was pretty cool. I also loved seeing the designers interact with the judges, although I can't say it's particularly fair. Not that we put a lot of stock into fair judging anyway!

Worst moments: I did not think Tim's critiques were helpful this week. Erin and Dexter were pushed into continuing what they were doing, and they were on the bottom. Tasha was diverted from her dress and ended up being eliminated. Most of the time, Tim is spot-on, but there have been other times when he's off the mark and it hurts a designer.

See the final looks here.

Best garments: I'm going to do something crazy and say that I kind of liked Brik's look. It seemed to be well-made and was interesting. But Laurence was robbed when it comes to the win. Her dress was incredible, I cannot believe she made it in a day and with $300. Her concept was strong from the beginning. Just because she made another strong shoulder she wasn't the winner? SHE QUILTED LEATHER!

Worst garments: Dexter and Erin bombed, obviously, although I was surprised the judges didn't like Erin's. That's the kind of silly costume garbage they like. Maybe the feathers looked much worse in person. I also did not like Jenni's winning look. The dress part looked tortured from all the hand-sewing, and the appliqués were not only a copy but ugly as well. And Natalia...what a hot mess that was.

Best quote: "Everything's a challenge. You never know, you could walk into the bathroom and like...surprise!" --Brik

I'm annoyed Tasha went home on a look that was Tim's idea and not her's. If she had stuck with her dress I'm certain she would have been safe. Wouldn't it make more sense, after those critiques, to finish something well rather than joining the chaos and starting from scratch? Then you're just lowering yourself down to the level of make-it-work. I suppose it didn't matter much, since Tasha has struggled through a few challenges and I couldn't see her making it to the end anyway.

Next week: roller coasters

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Love Notions Laundry Day Tee

Free pattern alert! Anyone who joins the Love Notions Pattern Support Group on Facebook can access a code for a free copy of the Laundry Day Tee. I've had the pattern for a while but hadn't sewn it up, figuring it was too close to my lengthened Plantain tee. But this week the Love Notions Spectactular is happening over in the group, and everyone who makes a pattern and uploads a photo is entered into a daily drawing for a 10 pack of Wonder Clips. And since my Wonder Clips have a way of disappearing, I figured now would be a good time to give the LDT a try!

Yes, I'm wearing a black bra under a sheer shirt #rebel

The name of this pattern refers to the fact that it's faster to sew one up than it is to do laundry. I'd say that's probably true, especially since this is a layered, trimless pdf. It's a straightforward t-shirt with two neckline options (scoop or V-neck), three sleeve lengths (short, 3/4, long) and two lengths (shirt and tunic). I made the V-neck, long-sleeved tunic. The Plantain does not have a V-neck option and I'd say my lengthened one was more of a shirt, so I went as different from that as I could.

I'm very happy with how this turned out. I made a small, I probably could size down if I felt like it but I don't think I need to do so. The fabric I used is a tissue knit from my new favorite Etsy shop, UrbanRagTrader. It was a typical squirrelly tissue knit, but hey, I managed a V-neck with it, so go me! The instructions were the same as the V-neck on the Renfrew, so if you're familiar with those you'll be fine (and this is the best method, in my opinion). Remember I have a round-up of V-neck tutorials here.

I did not hem, there is a natural curl on the ends that suffices for me. I can just see my coverstitch devouring this fabric anyway.

The only wonky bit was a few inches on the neckline where I didn't properly stretch the neckband, so it's a little loose. It's kind of driving me insane but the fabric curled so much while I was sewing that it was hard to evenly distribute it.

A nice little pattern, especially for a freebie. I probably won't make any more tunic lengths, I think the proportions kind of dwarf me, but I could see more of these in the top version if I want a V-neck. Otherwise I'll probably go back to my Plantain, which has slightly less volume.

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