Thursday, January 26, 2017

Nantucket Swimsuit

My favorite four year old is two weeks away from becoming my favorite five year old, and to celebrate she's having a pool party! Don't worry, it's indoors. But the only swimsuit she had was a cheapo one she's worn twice and the color bled all over it after the first wash. Not exactly birthday party worthy. We (I) decided on an Under the Sea theme, so it felt appropriate to conjure up some sort of Ariel-inspired bathing suit for her.

I've owned the Nantucket Swimsuit pattern for a while but haven't made it before. Now that I'm the mother of three girls, I expect it will get a lot of use. It was pretty easy to hack it into the look that I wanted. I simply colorblocked the top portion, then sewed a basting stitch and gathered the center-front. In retrospect I should have sewed a piece of elastic there, it would have been more stable, but this should do for now. If she pops the stitches I'll go back and add elastic.

The green and purple swim fabric is from Jo-Ann's. The lining is pink milliskin from Girl Charlee, which I bought ages ago. It was damaged by glue during shipping and has retained some wonky stains, so it was perfect for a swimsuit lining where nobody will see it.

I started out using my serger for construction, but I quickly remembered the issue with that. On a swimsuit, the fabric is stretched to the max and my stitches always show through. If someone has a solution, please let me know, but I ended up doing most of the construction and topstitching on my sewing machine. A three-step zig-zag worked way better for topstitching than a regular zig-zag. I would have preferred to use my coverstitch to topstitch but I didn't have matching cone thread. The back binding is suuuuuper wonky, it got stretched and wavy. I started to rip it out, but zig-zag+three layers of swim fabric=a whole lotta nope. It looks worse laying flat than it does when it's on and moving around. I also think it's kind of just the way this pattern is drafted, that low scoop back doesn't look perfectly flat on many tester photos either. Next time I may raise the scoop.


3 step zig-zag

I ended up making a 4T chest size with a 5T length, but did take it in a little bit at the side seams. I also sewed the lining and outer separately and and then basted them WS together so that the seams would be hidden, this was different than the directions and I'm not really sure why. It wouldn't have been much harder. It also gives you a chance to fit it before sewing, you can fit the lining and then work on the outer shell. Other than that, the directions were great, per usual. I promise, anyone with patience can make a swimsuit. This is my fourth or fifth one, I finally tried on my old Bombshell swimsuit the other day, in anticipation of the party. It stills fits great, two babies later and it hides all the lumps without making me feel like a frumpy mom.

Grab your own Nantucket or one of many swim patterns from Peek-a-Boo Pattern Shop. I am an affiliate but my opinion on this pattern is my own, and I purchased it myself.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Jamie Jeans version 2

If you follow me on Instagram then you already got a sneak peek (or ten) of these jeans! I've been working on them on and off eternity. I had some fit issues and then know how it is. So I'm thrilled that they are finally done and, gasp, wearable!

Side note...Indiana weather is drunk right now. Earlier this week the temps were in the single digits, today it's going to be 64. So I apologize for the sloppy half-frozen backyard! And also my neighbor's unfinished-for-six-months shed roof.

After M was born I realized it had been two years since I'd worn regular jeans. I thrifted some and was more than a little aggravated at how poorly they fit. Because obviously, me-made is a million times better than store bought. I almost chose to make Jalie 2908 but decided not to reinvent the wheel and went with Jamie Jeans, from Named, since I've made that pattern before.

This time, however, my fabric was quite different. My previous pair were made from a super-stretchy denim that almost felt like a knit. This time I went with a more traditional stretch denim (from Mood, almost 4 years old!). Using the handy chart in my Sewist's Swatch Book, I determined that the stretch percentage was only about 10%. The pattern calls for 15-20%.

I went ahead and made the same size as before, 6, believing that I'd probably be able to make it work since I had removed a ton of fabric from the legs with my stretchy fabric. Thankfully it did work, but I had some fit challenges first.

Length: These are drafted with long legs. I'm 5'4" with short legs, an inseam of 28 1/2". Last time I cut off 6" at the bottom hem. This time, I removed 3" from the paper pattern at the knee, assuming I could remove the rest from the hem later. But a friend pointed out that having extra length at the bottom was distorting the leg during fitting, so I cut most of it off.

Calf: A shoutout to my husband for helping me diagnose the main problem I had. There was bunching throughout the leg, and I finally figured out the calf was too tight, pushing the fabric up around my knee. Once I let out the calf (from the 3/8" seam allowance to 1/8"), the wrinkles went away. I also consulted this jeans fit guide at Closet Case Files, so now I know how to correct the paper pattern the right way. Who knew a mother of three who never works out could have thick calves?

A few horizontal lines, perhaps a shallower crotch curve is needed. 

Waistband: I removed a wedge from center back for a better fit. I was still able to ease the waistband to the pants without changing them as well.

Not wrinkle-free, but better than it was. Possible low butt adjustment needed.

I did not use the pattern directions at all. I followed the sewalong at Indie Sew, which I highly recommend! You'll see below that I followed one of their tips, to NOT topstitch the fly, which I think was good advice.

Even though I was scared to do it, I opted for contrast topstitching everywhere else. I used my vintage Singer 15-91, which is a beautiful, efficient machine. I still don't have great control over the speed, it's hard for me to regulate with the pedal for some reason and it can go pretty quickly. There were times I had to rip out my topstitching and do it again. I think I sewed the waistband three times to get it just right. The results were worth it, though.

I also used my Singer buttonhole attachment for the first time! I watched some YouTube videos and it was surprisingly easy. I think I'll write a separate post about it later.

When I finished these up, I had a panic attack realizing that they were too short. Nothing like cutting off 3" and then ending up with short jeans to make you bang your head against the wall. But a quick Google search schooled me to the proper length for skinny jeans, which is apparently at the top of the ankle. A happy accident on my part! Now I just feel old and out of the loop about fashion.

I'm pretty happy with my first "real" pair of jeans. I have enough fabric left for another pair of pants, I'm considering some Thurlow Trousers since the low stretch percentage would probably work better with a wider leg pant.

And just for funsies, I used some leftover poplin from this dress for my pocket bags. Fun pocket bags, a customized fit, I mean really, why doesn't everyone sew for themselves?

Need your own Sewist's Swatch Book? Save 20% with the code RESOLVE20. Valid through Jan. 20th and applicable for all versions of A Sewist's Notebook!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Kids Can Sew! A New Sewing Machine

As Christmas approached, my husband and I realized we didn't have a "big" gift for our oldest daughter. We debated a bike, but opted to save that for her birthday next month. One night while falling asleep (when all my best ideas happen) it came to me--a sewing machine! So obvious, right?

I remembered reading a review from Amy at Peek-a-Boo Pattern Shop, after she had bought her daughter a machine. We ended up going with the same one, this Janome. This is a half-sized machine and is basically the cutest thing ever. It comes in a variety of colors, you don't have to pick pink ;)

One thing I read was to avoid toy machines, which are usually chainstitch machines and won't really sew real seams. This Janome could be a kid's machine, or a good compact travel machine for simple projects. It has 10 stitches, reverse, and a unique pressed foot that prevents anyone from sticking their fingers under the needle. AB is turning five next month, but she can be a bit absentminded, and I feel better knowing the presser foot is guarded.

The biggest con you'll see about this machine is the lack of a light. For the price, especially not knowing how much she'll sew, I can live without a light. I just put a lamp next to her. One other thing to note is that it only works with a certain size needle (it's escaping me at the moment but it was a size 14 I think). Obviously, it's not going to sew 10 layers of denim or anything, but I have other machines for that purpose.

I did thread the machine and bobbin for her, those things might be too tricky for a 5 year old. But once we were set up (which didn't take long) AB sat down and sewed her first item without much trouble. I sat with her and helped her guide the fabric properly and place her hands in the right place. We made a simple flannel blanket for H's new baby doll.

Normally AB gets easily frustrated or bored with new things. I was pleasantly surprised that we were able to sew this blanket together without either of us devolving into tears. I can't quite explain the feeling of sharing something I love so much with my own offspring. It was kind of surreal and amazing and I hope it's something she continues to like as she gets older. If not, that's okay too, I do have two other daughters behind her ;)

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