Saturday, September 20, 2014

Last week's recap!

So, if you haven't figured it out yet, I am a contestant in the Fabric Mart Fabricista Challenge and I made it to the next round!  Yippee!  Here is a photo of the winner, Ann, from Sew Baby and the BEAUTIFUL dress she created.

This dress is so gorgeous!  Check the fit, perfect!  And the color!  I LOVE purple!  

So, for this week's challenge, we need to take a garment from our closet and recreate it.  This is tough for me as I have been weeding out my closet of RTW and replacing those items with my own creations.  People that know I sew a lot will say to me, I suppose you made that too?  YEP!  Isn't sewing your own clothes just the most fun and enjoyable thing ever?  

Ok, so I'd love to hear from you, what is the one garment in your closet you'd like to recreate--this has to be a purchased item!  I need ideas sewing friends!


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Fitting Challenge!

So, this week's challenge from Fabric Mart was focusing on fitting and using a solid fabric since you can see how a garment actually fits rather than being hidden from florals or other distractions!  Oh fitting!  While sometimes I am perfectly happy with how I look, other times, like when I am fitting pants, I feel like I need to spend the next eight weeks at the gym working with a personal trainer!  It doesn't help that I am a 50+ woman!    So, here is my efforts at fitting pants....

Personally I like making pants.    And, while some people get annoyed reading reviews of the same pattern someone has created ad nauseum, I strongly believe that repeating patterns give you a chance to perfect the fit.  With that said, I created two pairs of pants for this challenge but ended up settling on jeans for my submission.  I LOVE Vogue 8774 and have created them at least four times and while I intensely worked on the fit (again) I still think I might be able to do some additional tweaking.  Know what I mean?

So back to my creation for this week....jeans!  The impetus for choosing pants was the dreadful pair I pulled from my closet last week to wear to work.  They were grey jeans with some bling on the back pockets.  I love the color but HATE the fit!  And, they are super high-waisted when compared to most jeans that sit on the hip bones rather than the true waist.  I felt like an 80's mom!  So, off those went to the charity pile and I set out making pants that fit me and my challenges.

So what fitting issues did I deal with?
1.  Flat derriere.
2.  Wide upper thighs aka saddle bags--which btw are hereditary--thanks mom!
3.  Crotch curve--yes, everyone's is unique and I had to resculpt it to fit me!
4.  Waistline--no matter how carefully I measure and plan, I have to alter the waistline after I create the pants.  Luckily these days I have to take it in rather than out but it is tedious to get it perfect.

So, how did I do all this?
1.  Flatness--I pulled out three sewing books from my library to figure out how to deal with this issue and was surprised that no one really addressed it!  What happens to me is that I get a little pooling of fabric under my buns that looks like a cowl-neck.  I did manage to find an article on line that suggested making an adjustment by taking a fold in the pattern tissue to eliminate the excess, sort of like when you make swayback adjustment.  Now, why didn't I think of that?  I had to work really hard not to over-fit in this area as I stated before my upper thighs are wider than I'd like so too much fitting accentuates my little pools of fat there.  So if you notice just a little extra fabric, that is a preference for me.
Because of the flatness, I had to rotate the back inseam to the front by 3/8" to get the inseams and outter seams to hang right.  I spent a great deal of time bonding with my seamripper for this challenge!

Another thing I did was to make a swayback adjustment.  I completed that by 14" in the yoke and another 1/4" at the waistband.  I like spreading the adjustment out as I think it looks better and feels better when you wear the pants!
2.  Wide upper thighs--pretty self explanatory, right?
3.  Crotch curve issues....ah, the crotch curve!  I get these annoying little lines at the front crotch that I pinched out and took about an inch seamline.  No more lines!
Back crotch curve was a different matter.  With that seamline I made a 'j' seam by taking in an additional 5/8" from the back seamline which you can see below.

Those were my main fitting issues.  Construction wise, I am very proud of how these jeans turned out!  They are very comfortable and I am very happy with the fit!  I like the addition of the white jeans thread I used to dress them up just a bit!

Length is a challenge for me with this pattern.  Being only 5'7", I didn't think I would need to lengthen them but I did by about 1.5".  Just beware of the length if you choose to whip up this pattern!

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Fashionista Challenge, Part 2!

Yes, that's right, I made it to round 2!  Oh my goodness, I am a bundle of excitement and nerves all mashed together!

This time, our challenge is to make a solid colored garment that focuses on fit.  With a solid, you see more of the fitting issues than you do with a print, especially a busy print.  I am super pumped for this round!

You can read more about the contest here: 2nd challenge!

Congrats to Beth from 110 Creations for being this week's winner!

You can totally see why she won.  Her top is beautiful!

Now, off to picking the perfect pattern and fabric!  Stay tuned for more fun!  Thanks also for your support and comments, I do appreciate them!
Sue :)

Victory Lola Dress!

Victory Patterns Lola Dress 1005

This comfortable slip on dress features raglan sleeves, ribbed hem bands, front neckline “V” detail, and oversized wrap around pockets . The curved seams give a relaxed, feminine fit. This project is ideal for a serger and is easy to wear when you want to be cozy in style!

Ever want to feel like you are wearing pajamas all day but don't want to look frumpy or out of style?  Well, this pattern is for YOU!  

THis is a multisized pattern.  I made a medium based on my measurements but found it to run really big so I altered it quite a bit all over by taking it in at every seamline.  Right now, I feel like it fits comfortably roomy, not too large but not too tight.  

I just have to say that I was shivering as DH took pictures outside this evening.  We are having unseasonably cool weather and I should have waited until it was a tad warmer to take the photos.  Oh well!  

I used this ultra fabulous ponte from Emma One Sock.  It is super dark and I can't remember if I ordered dark expresso or black.  All I know is this is the nicest ponte I have ever used and hope they continue to carry this wonderful fabric!  It washed and dried well and sewed like a dream!  After an entire day of wearing isn't all stretched out either!

I just love these oversized pockets!  I didn't have quite enough yardage to make the pockets extend to the hemline nor did I have enough to make the ribbing bands at the neck, sleeve, or hemline.  So, I went to Hancock as JoAnn and I aren't speaking yet, and found this super dark and luscious black spandex knit used for active wear.  The ribbing wasn't anywhere close to the right color but this worked!  

All seams are topstitched and with the pockets I merely turned the bottom edge up and edgestitched and topstitched to hem.  

I really like how the front waistline is higher than the back which dips down a bit and is tough to see with the black fabric.  It gives it some interest and details.  

The instructions are super easy to follow and if you've made a t-shirt or a sweatshirt you won't have any difficulties despite the pattern being rated as intermediate.  I did leave off the little neckline emblem just because of my dressier fabric choice.  Had I used sweatshirt fabric, I sure as heck would have added it as it is cute! 

If I hadn't made this too big, the entire thing from start to finsih  would take only a few hours.  Now that I've made it once, I anticipate it going together even faster!  

What a great dress!  I will make this again and will work on extending the sleeve length, especially if our unseasonably cool fall is any indication of what winter will be like!  

Thanks for reading!  

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

My Scout Woven Tee

Ok, so my first challenge with the Fabric Mart Sewing challenge week 1 which you can read about here.  So at first glance, easy peasy, right?  Well, not for miss over-analyzer Sue.  Yep, that would be me!  And that is how I sew....will this work?  Is this just the right fabric for this pattern?  Is this the right interfacing?  Will it fit right?

Sometimes I drive myself so crazy I actually forget to sit and sew but instead contemplate what I am going to do with each pattern and fabric.  Sometimes I actually have gotten to the point of having everything pinned and am ready to make my first cut and then change my mind!  Good thing I am a female!  Truly though, I am working hard to just cut it out and sew something!  So here is my journey with the Scout Woven Tee.

So for the pattern:
 Scout Tee

Should be no problem, right?  Well, if you read the directions to the contest, you need to make it your own by embellishing and altering the pattern.  Anyone can make a pattern as written, but when you take time to fit it right and to have fun and be creative, it is a process!  Albeit a fun and challenging one at that!

So here is my journey with my very own Scout!

First, the fit....oh the fit!  According to my measurements, I should have made a 14, well, I did that once and although the fit was fine, I wasn't thrilled with it.  You can see that top below.

See what I mean?  It is fine, but definitely not worthy of entering into a contest!  So, I made two muslins, why two?  Well, becuse I wasn't happy with the first alterations and wanted to make sure I loved it, so two I made.

Here is the first, which to me looks frumpy and lumpy.  This is a size based solely on my measurements.  Major modifications are needed!  Agreed?

Look at those drag lines at the bust!  I just think that looser-fitting tops look so cute on a different body type than mine.   I feel frumpy in them!

Ok, so major adjustments needed for swayback, addition of bust darts, smaller hips and waist to start. Wow, so I started pinning this how I wanted it to look and couldn't get the bust to stop pulling at various places so I thought maybe I needed to use my high bust measurement and then adjust for a full-bust.

Sounds reasonable, right?  So my second muslin was a size 10, which is two sizes smaller than what I started with!  I added a bust dart and my swayback adjustment was reduced twice to a total of about 1.5 inches--to  me, that is a startling amount!  Although whatever, it worked!  I struggled with over-fitting the top as I really wanted it more tailored rather than swimming-in looking!  So, enough was enough and here is my second muslin--lesson learned, make more muslins  Why am I such a stinker about this?  I so rarely do it and what a tremendous difference it made in this top!

Here were my other ideas for this top:
1.  Button up back, because I am a sucker for any top that has a button back!
2.  Three-quarter sleeves, because well, fall and winter are approaching rapidly and I'd like to wear this once or twice before putting it away until spring.
3.  Bias-bands on the neckline and hems because I love the look
4.  Color blocking!  I love lots of color!
5.  Silk fabric, so it would be floaty....more on that later.

The process:
Oh the process!  So after making my muslins and transferring the markings to the pattern pieces, I set about to find fabrics.  My first thought was to use silks in three colors.  Let me tell you a bit about the fabric choices where I live, we have a JoAnn's and a Hancock.  There are three quilt shops and a Hobby Lobby.  Do you think I was able to find silk?  Don't spend too much time contemplating, the answer is no!  Hancock's selection was closest with 70% silk but in beige.  Argh.  Next decision was to try and hand dye some fabric to the colors I had envisioned.  But my dye from Dharma Trading Company recommends natural fibers.  What was available to me?  Synthetics.  I don't give up too easily and decided to try and dye 100% poly.  What happened?  Well, it is pretty!  I used twice the amount of dye so I could end up with a deep fuchsia red, but got a baby pink....Grrr!  BTW, the dyed fabric is on the far right.

Next thought was to drive to a local thrift shop and try and find some gently used silk clothing I could dye and use.  Smart, right?  Maybe in theory, but in practicality I found only one top made of silk. My Argh's and Grrr's quickly progressed to unrepeatable four-letter words!  While I was looking for the silks I did find some fabrics I really liked and decided to deconstruct and use in my top.   And, I found two colorways and decided to make not one but two tops so I would have a choice of entries.   I like choices, how about you?

Why don't I rescue more unwanted clothing more often?  I made sure I purchased high-quality fabrics and trims and it gave me another layer of the challenge that I took on!  I really loved the colors in the blues and greens and started with those.

Something I hadn't considered with taking apart previously made garments (most of which were brand-spanking new!) was that the seams and such made it impossible to have big pieces that I could straight cut the pattern pieces.  Creative piecing was in order along with dealing with things such as button bands--check out one of my sleeves!

So with the major portions of the top front and back ready to cut, I had to make a commitment on fabric choices and my only option happened to be the dark blue with the white emblems on it.  Is it bandanna like?  Is it just a random print?  Not sure, but since it was a never-worn dress with a background color I liked, I went for it!  Creative piecing was in order and worked well for my overall design.

Speaking of design, it sort of evolved as I went along.  I found that as I added embellishments, I thought of more things I could do and tried them out.  I mean, how many people use all those decorative stitches on their machines?  I try, but with over 100, I have only scratched the surface and tend to go back to the ones I like the best, and are also the simplest.  Trying to branch out can be difficult, but with the main greenish-yellow band on the front (is this chartreuse?) I knew it needed some sort of dark blue stitching on it.  I like the effect.  Super easy, but very creative, amirite?  

I also found this baby and normal sized rickrack in my stash and in the perfect colors!  It had to be used, it is a match made in heaven!  I also used it down the center back seam which was originally going to be a button back, but I thought that might border on too much, and added just the right amount of touch I wanted and felt was needed.

Other parts of the construction process included bias bands on the neckline that flipped to the right side which I show in process here:

Also, I had to use this button band down the sleeve, you would too if you had the chance, right? 
Baby rickrack highlights the seam as well.  

So enough about all this process nonsense, let's see more of the final result!


So, now I am wondering what your thoughts are?  Have you done anything like this before?  What did you think?

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

The First Challenge! Oh Yikes!

So here we go with the Fabric Mart sewing challenge I was telling you about in the not so distant past!  Fun, exciting, but also down right terrifying!  You can read about the rules and such here.

I love to embellish fabrics and such but it is tough for me to know how much, know what I mean?

We are using the Scout Woven Tee as our base from Grainline studios.  What a blank canvas to start with!!!

It's simplicity is what makes this top so very popular in the sewing community as the fabric is what will make this wardrobe basic shine!
Scout Tee

Watch for my final product on Tuesday when it is due!!!

Happy Sewing!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

McCall's Floral Dress Repeat!

M6886Line Art

Sometimes the simplest designs are simply the best, amirite?  Why do we fuss so much when we have a pretty fabric that just needs to have a simple design paired with it for great results?  No need to over think anything....just pull out a simple, well-designed pattern and have at it!  Don't you agree? 

If this dress looks familiar, well, it is.  I made it with longer sleeves in a slightly longer length in a floral that reminds my husband of his Aunt Della....while I don't want to rehash that weird correlation of my clothing to his dear, long departed great aunt, I knew when I saw this fun floral print it had to be a dress.  And, since I love this pattern and style so much, I knew it would be a match I'd be happy with.  

 I used a Marcy Tilton floral for this that I picked up on her summer clearance sale about a month ago.  Wow is this a quality fabric!  It washes and dries beautifully and the colors are so vibrant--yes, I know they are limited to black, white, and gray, but I still feel like they are vibrant.  Correct me if I am wrong!

I did my own thing with the neckline that I tried to take some pictures of.  I copied this from a RTW garment I have and I just love how flat the neckline lays!  And yes, I do stay-stitch my knit necklines just for extra insurance.  Maybe it is overkill, but it makes me feel better about my sewing and that is what matters.  :)  

I always cut my neckbands on the bias.  While this too may seem like overkill, it helps the binding to lie flat against my body.  I just hate it when I work hard on a knit garment and for some weird reason the top part of the neckband gaps away from my body--super annoying!  Cutting the band on the bias solves that problem for me!

So, here are the steps: 

1.  Sew just one side of the shoulder seam and stabilize the seam.  I use clear, 1/4" elastic to do this.

2.  Stay-stitch the neckline using a longer stitch and stitch just inside the seam line.  For this dress, the seam allowances are 5/8" so my stay-stitching is a few millimeters inside of that line.  

3.  I attach stay-tape to the neckline at this point on the garments right side and then trim away the excess from the seam that could potentially show.  It is much easier to cut it away now rather than after you have the neckband sewn on.  Also, you may wonder why I put it on the garments right side, the reason is that stuff is itchy on my skin!  This keeps it much more comfortable for me.  

4.  Next, stitch the right side of the neckband to the garments wrong side.  At this point you can either trim the seam to a scant 1/4" or serge, which ever you prefer.  As you can see in my photo, I serged.  

5.  Flip the neckband to the garments right side, press and stitch just a few millimeters from the edge of the neckband to keep it in place.  

6.  Stitch the other shoulder seam and I like to trim the seam on a diagional to keep any sort of glimpses of the seam showing as I wear it.  I just dab a little fray check at the point and let dry.

That's it! Construct the rest of the garment as you normally would which for me is sewing the sleeves in flat and then the side seams.  I put narrow bands on the sleeve hems as I didn't feel like doing anything else with them and didn't want to just turn and hem.  

I do like this dress that I wore to work today with leggings, sandals, and a black belt.  So very comfortable!  This is a great pattern!  Try it!  And, in case you are wondering I asked DH if I looked like Aunt Della and he replied no, but said it in a manner that he thought I was weird for asking....he must not remember the comment he made on my other dress from this same pattern!  

Thanks for reading!  Do you have any stories about your sewing?  I'd love to hear about it!  Sue