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 appliqu├ęs 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.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Project Runway recap

This episode was something else! It felt like some bizarro world, where people could work together like adults. Is this the first time in PR history that a team challenge had NO drama and also both teams did reasonably well?

Spoilers ahead...

Best moments: Can you believe the lack of ego in this episode? I was shocked by how well the teams worked together. Both of them! I don't recall a single moment where someone tried to force their idea onto someone else. I have a theory: since there were four designs but six designers, there wasn't an option to work alone. Nobody could hold onto "their" look and go renegade. In the past they've always made their own looks, right? This was a great way to force them all to work together.

I started liking Dexter more this episode. He did a good job in the pitch and even though he was freaking out most of the challenge, he didn't seem to take it out on anyone. And even Cornelius kept his mouth shut for the most part.

Worst moments: Uggh I hated this elimination. Only in a team challenge can a designer like Alex get eliminated while Brik stays. And the moment when Alex told Tim he changed his life? Wow. I was a little surprised Tim didn't use his save, but I'm sure he's been told to keep it until the end of the series for more dramatic impact. He probably couldn't use it after a little speech like that, also, for fear that it would look like sucking up works to save you.

See all the garments here.

Best garments: I feel like a broken record...very few of these items appealed to me. Laurence's leather jacket was incredible, I would wear it and I think anyone would. The suit that Dexter made was also nice but I hated the embellishments that Heidi loved so much.

Worst garments: Team Unity was just a whole bunch of fail. I didn't even like Mah-Jing's vest that much (I'm not a fan of weird dangling pieces). The metallic fabric they picked looked SO stiff. It did not come across as luxe over the TV screen, I felt it tottered on the edge of cheap. And certainly not daytime office wear as Nina pointed out. Alex's dress was just terrible.

House of Bouton wasn't that great either, the mauve dress was a throwaway and the coat...hasn't Erin already done that?

Best quote: "We're House of Bouton. Oh my gosh, I'm sorry about my French. Sorry France." --Dexter

Can we just agree that the guest judges are awful? I don't know if it's how it's edited or what, but they never say anything relevant. And I'm pretty sure the guy from last week was high (who was that??). And being a child of the 90s, I LOVE Boy Meets World, and therefore Girl Meets World, so I was disappointed with Sabrina Carpenter.

I'm sad to see Alex go, but he did carry himself with dignity and that won't be forgotten. I'm sure he impressed with his business ability (even if he was pitching a boring black collection) and unlike other designers, I do believe he'll have a great future after the show.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

A Trio of Triforce Undies

I know that a lot of people think sewing underwear is boring and a waste of time, but I am not one of those people! My me-made undies are the ones I reach for first, the ones that fit the best, and the ones that hold up the longest. I recently placed an order with Raspberry Creek Fabrics and decided to throw in a half yard of some sale cotton/Lycra with the express purpose of making undies. And I love how they turned out!

From a (generous) half yard I was able to get two pairs of underwear and one pair of boxerwear. All the patterns I used were from Stitch Upon a Time (Scrundlewear and Ladies' Boxerwear). I've made them before but I was pregnant when I made the boyshort scrundies and they turned out too big, even then. That was a medium, so I sized down to a small for these two. My hip is 36" which is the low end of the small. Final verdict? I think maybe still too big in places.

Briefs on the left, boyshorts on the right.

If you look at the two pairs of underwear compared to the boxerwear, the waistband is a lot bigger. The boxerwear fit perfectly, so for my next pair of scrundies I'll at the very least shorten the waistband. Whether or not I size down completely will depend on how these feel after washing. It's possible they got a bit stretched during sewing, even though I pressed well. I also feel like the rise, in the back only, is too high. That's a personal preference. I like low-rise jeans so I need my underwear to be the same. Believe it or not, this is the low-rise option on the pattern! I also may take a deeper seam allowance through the crotch (is there a better word for crotch?) because it's kind of wide. But in general, I like the wide bands on this pattern. I'm finishing up some underwear for my oldest and the bands are SO tiny, it makes it very difficult to sew.

This medium weight cotton/lycra (the navy is from Mood) is SO comfortable to wear. Gone are the days of cheap, slinky, "silky" underwear. I'm phasing those out. Am I showing my age? Probably. I did just celebrate my 7th wedding anniversary this week. We've been together for 10 years, I think it's safe to choose comfort at this point ;)

If you stumble across a great cut of cotton/lycra that you think you'd never wear, consider making undies! They're fun, fast and simple, and you can't beat the comfort!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Project Runway recap

The day after I watched this episode, my four year old was playing dress up and appeared in front of me with her very own "swimsuit" design. Somehow, a scrap of actual swim fabric had made its way to their dress up box and she had fashioned it into a bathing suit. Perhaps someday she'll be relating this anecdote during her own PR interview?

Spoilers ahead...

Best moments: Tim looking cute and beach-ready, of course. I also liked seeing the prints being designed. Custom fabric is such a big thing right now and probably the future of design and even home sewing. I liked the brief moment when Erin said she didn't want to win every week, I actually believed her. I think she's being targeted by the other designers and that's probably not a great feeling.

Worst moments: Well. This was a swimwear challenge and as such, terrible garments were being put down the runway. Everyone knows that Heidi has a lingerie line (or should know). An athletic wear line. I wasn't aware she was doing swim but c'mon. At some point there is going to be a challenge with these "specialty" fabrics. Why doesn't anyone practice and learn how to sew them??

It would have been helpful to see Heidi's dossier so we knew what her line was like. I also felt like she was unusually nice during critiques.

See all the looks here.

Best garments: I struggled liking any of these, but Rik's and Roberi's were in a different category than everyone else. They took the challenge seriously and obviously understood it. I liked both the suits and their coverups, which were beautiful. See the $180 suit here. (Sewing your own swimwear saves SO MUCH MONEY.)

Worst garments: All the rest! Clearly Tasha's was the worst (apparently not clearly, since she wasn't eliminated) but the prints were mostly cheesy, juvenile, and ugly. The suits were unimaginative and poorly made. If I were Heidi, I would have been genuinely insulted.

Best quote: "I am Brik. I love bricks, I always have, ever since I was a little kid." --Brik

I understand why Sarah was eliminated but it should have been Tasha. As we all know, however, this week alone is NOT what decides eliminations, no matter how much the producers say otherwise. Sarah has made ridiculously boring clothes up to this point. She took a creative risk for once and went home on it. That probably doesn't feel very good, but I can't say I was all jazzed up to see anything else from her. So Tasha dodged a bullet, I hope she is energized by it.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Pink Stripe Willow Wrap Top

A year ago I joined Lauren Dahl's Momiform Makeover tour and had the pleasure of sewing up a Willow Wrap Dress, a pattern from Love Notions. When the top version went on sale a few weeks ago, I quickly snatched it up. I had hacked my own version of the top from the dress, but wasn't super happy with it and decided to go for the real thing.

It's hard to see, but I'm wearing a cami underneath. This is the low-cut/nursing option. There is an option for a higher cut and also a pattern piece for a modesty panel. I opted for this configuration so I could wear a nursing tank underneath. 

The best thing about this pattern was that I already knew what size to make (small) based on the dress. Also, Love Notions patterns are layered, and trimless. It takes very little time to assemble. So while I had this printed, assembled, and taped in no time, it took me a week to sew it. My three kids are not helpful.

It's been a long time since I've worn any close-fitting tops. Or real jeans for that matter. I've been kickin it with maternity wear for the last two years. I just got some new jeans from ThredUp (affiliate link, if you're so inclined to check them out you get $10 free for signing up) and they honestly feel bizarre. Where is my elastic waistband?! Where are my flowing tops?! It's going to take some getting used to, so I hope you can hang in there with me as I figure this out!

Since it's not clear from the pattern description, you need to know that the front of this shirt is two layers. It's not some sort of short piece underneath, it's basically two (mirrored) full fronts if that makes sense. While that's great for keeping the wrap in place, it's not so great for fabric consumption, especially since a good chunk is hidden. I only had 1 yard of this cotton/lycra knit (from the Fabric Fairy, a LONG time ago) so I had to be creative. I pieced together the under layer. You can see the striped part at the top, but the hidden portion underneath is a different fabric.

I sewed the two pieces together with no seam allowance and used a flatlock stitch. That strategy minimized the ridge from the seam, so it doesn't show through outside of the garment. Flatlocking is easier than you think, it's just a tension adjustment on your serger and my manual tells me what settings to use. I always do a test run first, because I find the manual suggests a tension that's too tight for the lower looper (my thread breaks, that's how I know it's too much tension!).

Instructions and assembly for this pattern are straightforward. I used my coverstitch for all the hems (including the neckline) and my serger for the rest. It goes quickly when you don't have children hanging off of you.

I do have a weird fit issue, and I'm not sure how to describe it for Google so I hope you can help! There is some excess fabric below the shoulders and above the bust. I didn't notice this in my Willow Wrap Dress, but that was made from a poly ITY knit that had more drape than this cotton/lycra. Thoughts? How do I correct this?

While you're helping me with that, check out that awesome stripe matching across center-front!

I think I'm just about out of suitable cotton/lycra knits for this pattern, but I may try it with a rayon knit instead if I can figure out the fit issue. The pattern comes with three sleeve options, so I can easily take this into the rest of fall/winter. By the way, Love Notions is having a big celebration/sale starting October 17th, so hop over to their Facebook page for all the fun! I wasn't paid or perked to say that, I just thought you might like to know ;)

Monday, October 3, 2016

Project Runway recap

I'm not sure if a black light challenge is as exciting as a rainway, but I give PR credit for trying something new. This is the kind of challenge where I would totally fall on my face. I seriously had no good ideas, the concept was too overwhelming for me. But I think the designers did well, don't you?

Spoilers ahead...

Best moments: For some reason, the little blacklight flashlights made me laugh. When the designers were running around Mood with them, it made me think of a giant game of flashlight tag. With the lights on hahaha.

Worst moments: I took a class in college that talked about the kind of art that doesn't look like art. Y'know, like thirty plastic bottles stacked on top of each other or a trash can full of cats. And how people say "I could do that". Apparently, the appropriate response is: "Yeah, but you didn't." I wish Cornelius had been in that class. If he can box pleat a skirt and glue some crap on it, then he should do that next time. We'll see how it turns out.

See all the looks here.

Best garments: I guess Erin's was the best. You can't knock her for simplicity, she did all that beading on the skirt with tiny little neon pieces. And her dress was the only one that was actively pretty, unlike Jenni's which was butt ugly. Actually, Roberi's was beautiful as well, although maybe it just wasn't "enough". I wish this had been some kind of evening wear challenge so he could have done a full-length dress.

Worst garments: I guess neon=trashy? What was with all the butt cheek this episode? The lack of taste in some of these outfits was sad. I also thought they leaned too heavily on the color white (Brik, Dexter, I'm looking at you). And Rik's hooker outfit was by far the worst. I don't think it was fair to oust Kimber just because she had previously been in the bottom. Rik genuinely thought his was good. I was glad they saved Mah-Jing, it kind of sucked that the pink dye acted so differently than the rest (although I'm not sure it would have mattered). I think he did the right thing by admitting it was off-base and explaining, humbly, that he was just trying to make it work.

I'm sad to see Kimber go because I didn't hate her dress, but I think the judges were over her for some reason. She handled it with grace, which is even further indication that she probably should have stayed. At this point, I'm not rooting for anyone in particular but I'm certainly rooting AGAINST Cornelius. Ugh.

Next week: Swimwear!

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