Saturday, August 1, 2015

Summer Saltspring

I've been working through my summer bucket list: s'mores, fireworks, (tofu) hot dogs, a drive-in movie, popsicles, food trucks, a picnic, and of course, a new sundress. I decided to join the fun for Handmade by Heather B's Sundress Sewalong 2015. I love the rayon challis Sewaholic Saltspring I made last spring so much that I had to make a second.


This time I made a straight size 6 and did braided straps like Caroline. I was hoping to get away with making only three straps, braiding them together and then cutting the braid in half, but it was about an inch too short. I had to go back and repeat the whole process over again (womp, womp), but I love how the straps came out! I used the length of the tied straps on my first Saltspring as a guide.

I also went back and added a skirt lining towards the end. I was pretty lazy and tried this on over my clothes throughout, but I did a proper try-on at the end to decide on the hem length and discovered that it was much more sheer than I originally thought. Oooops. At least I discovered this in my bathroom and not looking at blog pictures later. I used this method from the sewalong and cut off about 2 inches from the bottom.

Other than that, there's not a whole lot else different about the construction. I did do a machine invisible hem this time because the handstitched hem on my first one is, to be completely honest, not great. I just don't have the patience for handsewing, and hemming is by far my least favorite part of dressmaking already. I'll take a slightly-more-visible hem over hours of trying (and mostly failing) to keep tiny hand stitches even.

The fabric is a bit outside of my usual color pallet, but I actual love how obnoxiously bright this is. I found about five yards of this drapey poly blend at a thrift store for 3 dollars and snatched it right up. It's a breezy, effortless dress that screams "summer".

Until next time, I'll be soaking up every minute of summer, reading in the shade by the pool and making infinity batches of fruit bars with my new popsicle molds. Happy summer!

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Timey-Wimey Skirt

Back in the spring, JoAnn's put out a line of Doctor Who fabrics, and apparently they sold like hotcakes because I found myself impulsively driving waaaaaay OTP (Outside The Perimeter, aka the 'burbs) to go to the only JoAnn's in greater metropolitan Atlanta with any left in stock. I literally stole the bolt off a pallet of new merchandise tucked in the corner, removed the wrapping and nonchalantly presented it to the lady at the cutting counter, who asked me what the blue boxes were among all the pretty swirls. I tried to explain, but sometimes Muggles just don't understand the need to make skirt celebrating a British sci-fi show.

I'd say the trip was worth it! This is my third iteration of Simplicity 2226 (Version 1 and Version 2). It's the perfect pattern for stiffer quilting cottons and prints that might be a bit much as a full dress, so I returned to it again. I love a good pattern repeat.

This time I got smart about the excessive ease in this pattern and sized down to a 10 in the waist.  Halfway through I became nervous that it would be too tight if I had a big lunch and let it back out a bit on the side seams and center back. It's a little big now but my measurements have fluctuated over the past year and better safe than sorry. Other than that, I made all the same changes as my previous comic book version, so not much to say about construction. The print is really the star of the show anyway.

I must have re-done the gathers three times over a couple of days. Gathers, it seems, will always be my Achilles heel. Invisible zip? No problem. Smooth dart points? I'm on it. Gathers? Well, settle in, because it's going to be a looooong afternoon.

As always, the pockets are my favorite part. The construction is cleverly done, so you have roomy pockets without bulk. Exactly what you need to go on timey-wimey adventures.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Summer Plaid Belcarra

Hello again! I'm so happy to be back. Things got preeetttyyy intense at work this spring, and after putting in long hours I didn't have any brain cells left over to figure out fitting problems and tricky instructions. After three wadders in a row I decided sewing just wasn't in the cards for a while and instead I read a lot of books and comics (Ms. Marvel is my JAM).

But now I'm back! And I made a plaid Sewaholic Belcarra top that I plan to wear 8574 times this summer. 

This is the perfect shirt to make in plaid, because you only really have to worry about plaid matching the side seams. I did a pretty bang up job too, if you'll allow me to brag for a moment:

I'm usually an 8 in the shoulders in Sewaholic, but the muslin came out big so I did an 6 in the shoulders and bust and then blended to a 4 in the hips. I took 2" off the length because I knew I'd never tuck it in. It's a little bit of a wriggle to get it on, but I wouldn't want it any looser. I think it strikes a nice balance of being breezy but not boxy.

My bra straps do have a tendency to peek out, and if I make it again I'll probably bring the neckline in just a tad. I do think the portrait neckline is very flattering though. I also took in the underarms by about an inch because the sleeves were a bit too billowy on me.

The fabric is some kind of linen voile that I found at a thrift store. Two yards for only $2! And I had to include the little pocket because they look so great on plaid shirts cut on the bias.

Construction was super straightforward. I had a little trouble understanding the pocket instructions, but a quick visit to the sewalong cleared that right up. This was the perfect quick project to get my sewjo back.

Well I'm off to make broccoli slaw for a potluck tonight. We're going to have a water balloon fight and make s'mores around a fire pit like overgrown children. But there will definitely be more sewing. I have plans for an exploding TARDIS skirt for DragonCon and a second Sewaholic Saltspring. Happy Summer!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Pattern repeats are awesome

Recently I made up new versions of two patterns I've used in the past, the Sewaholic Renfrew and Colette Beignet. It was a good reminder of just how much I like returning to old patterns. You're really free to enjoy the experience when you take the sizing guesswork out!

First up, I made this Renfrew out of an impulse addition to my Girl Charlee cart. It's completely ridiculous and makes me laugh every time I wear it. Best $6.50 ever spent.

I think I've got the Renfrew fit alllllmost perfect. This time I did a size 8 in the shoulders, a 6 in the bust and then blended to a 4 in the hips. I also did a 1/2" broad back adjustment using Sunny's method like I have in the past, but somehow it still felt really tight in the shoulders/armpits and I had to let it out. I saw a different method in the most recent issue of Threads magazine that I'm going to try next time around.

I also tried interfacing the hem with lightweight Stitch Witchery before I used my twin needle, and it came out so much better than the hem on my Lady Skater did with Wonder Tape. I'll be sticking with interfacing in the future, especially for lighter weight knits. 

I was inordinately proud that I was able to squeeze this out of a single yard of fabric without sacrificing pattern matching. I did a Breakfast Club-style air fist when I was left with my teeny tiny pile of scraps. I felt like such a cutting wizard! Or, maybe more appropriately, like a Boss Witch.

Secondly, I finished my Colette Beignet do-over! I was gutted last fall when my special birthday outfit turned out to be such a bust. Luckily I had enough corduroy left over to give it another go, and this time it came out much, much better!

The first version came out too big, and in attempt to make it fit better I cinched the waist and ended up with crooked buttons. This time I sewed up a straight size 4, and the fit is much improved. I worked really hard to get the buttons straight and even, but they're still not perfect and my eye starts to twitch if I look too closely. My machine has a 4 step buttonhole, and it's hard to be 100% consistent every time no matter how carefully you make your markings. Still, it's at least not in-your-face wonky like the first version, so I'm calling it a win.

I'm still not convinced that this is the most flattering silhoutte for my figure, but it's nice to know that I am capable of sewing this intermediate pattern. Sometimes I just need to prove to myself I CAN do a thing, so that I know in the future I'm choosing not to do it because I really don't want to, not because I'm afraid to fail.

It's funny looking back at how difficult I found this pattern to be a year ago. I really struggled with the lining and the waistband, and this time I didn't find it that challenging, just time consuming. It was a really gratifying, tangible example of how much my skills have grown in the past year, and it makes me even more excited to take on new projects and new challenges. Next up, Ginger Jeans in stretch corduroy!