Sunday, March 31, 2013

A Tale of Two T-Shirts

Hello again! Yesterday I finished my first Renfrew, just in time for spring.

I know a million other bloggers have already covered how completely awesome this pattern is, but let me show you why am so in love with it personally. I present Exhibit A, since we are all friends here:

This was my first attempt at a t-shirt last fall, and quite possibly the worst t-shirt ever made. Completely, utterly, hilariously bad. I used one of my 25¢ remnants from Fabric World and the pattern from my Sew U Home Stretch book. While that book contains lots of great information and tips for sewing with knits, the patterns are pretty boxy and not as idiot-proof as the Renfrew. I mean, look at this collar band!

This is actually an improvement over the original. It was twice as wide and looked like a weird mock cowl, and I tried to save it by folding it over and stitching it down. Um, no. It was doomed.

The sleeves are probably the best/worst part because the hem won't stay down: 

One good thing to come out of this project is I learned I have a bad habit of holding the fabric taut as I feed it into the machine. Not such a big deal with wovens, but a terrible habit for knits. I definitely stretched out the sleeves as I was hemming them.

Fast forward six months, a better machine, and a fabulous pattern:

I got this tissue knit (how else?) on clearance at Joann's, completely forgetting that the pattern calls for a stable knit. However, in the Sewaholic blog entry on choosing fabric, one of the commenters helpfully recommended doubling up thin knits to make them work better for this pattern. It worked like a dream. It's a little too heavy for summer, but it'll be a nice transition piece for spring and fall.

I did have some trouble with the collar band, but I think that was just inexperience. In my first attempt I tried to use a single layer, but the fabric was so stretchy it grew four inches as I sewed it in. The third time was a charm, and the twin needle was totally worth the wait.

I cut a straight size six and am pretty happy with the fit. Next time I might go up a size in the shoulders, but it was really nice to work with a size chart specifically geared towards my pear-shaped figure. I also loved that the pattern had 5/8" seam allowances. The first shirt had 3/8" and every time I went to finish a seam, I felt like I was walking along a narrow cliff and I worried I would accidentally serge over the seam. I will definitely be making up several more Renfrews!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Sewing, Interrupted

Hello again! I finally crawled out from under my rock a couple of weeks ago and bought the Sewaholic Renfrew top. With all the rave reviews, I figure I can't go too far wrong even if I am a newb when it comes to knits. I cut everything out last Saturday, and was planning to sew it up this weekend after I picked up a ballpoint twin needle. I know Tasia recommends securing the collar band with a zigzag stitch, but I've seen such fabulous, professional results around the blogosphere with a twin needle, I'd like to try it out.

Two fabric stores later, I couldn't find one and ended up ordering it on Ebay. It's frustrating because I live in a major city - Atlanta can host the Olympics but doesn't have a store with a decent selection of notions?!

So, instead of sewing this weekend like I planned, I've been working on other crafty projects. First up, Brian and I are going to attempt to make a headboard. I like this one from West Elm a lot, but I also like saving money and tackling a challenge (in this case, power tools). So I'm adapting this tutorial by Little Green Notebook, and one of the steps is making fabric covered buttons:

It turns out making buttons is a lot more physically demanding than you would think. I made about two dozen last weekend and by the time I finished I had tired arms and blistered fingers! I'm getting much better at it as I go along, so when this is all over I think I'll experiment with making earrings out of my stash of fabric scraps.

The other project I've been working on is my Ms. Barbie Goes to Washington outfit, and it has been an uphill battle. And, as usual, it's my own doing! :) I fell in love with this ridiculous sparkly yarn, but it is sport weight and the pattern calls for fingering. I figured I could make it work. Well, what I've ended up with is a oversized jacked and a very tight skirt:

I'm not sure how I'm going to fix this one yet. The sad part is that these two pieces aren't even my first attempt. This suit is going into hibernation for at least a couple of days because I'm starting to get frustrated. Who knew fitting Barbie would be as hard as a real woman?

This weekend I also took the sewing delay and the warmer weather (it hit 65 today!) as I sign I should get some spring cleaning over and done with. But not without rewards! I just whipped up these no flour, no butter, peanut butter oatmeal chocolate chip cookies by Ambtious Kitchen. Delicious and healthy-ish.