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Sewing is therapy for me. I hoard fabric, patterns, notions, and spend more time shopping for fabric than I care to admit...

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Kitschy Coo Lady Skater Dress X 2!

Every time I say the name of this pattern I feel like I should be tickling my little grandson's toes.  Weird right? What an awesome name for a dress as you certainly will remember it and what an even better pattern!  What the crap took me so long?  I love this pattern so much I made two, back to back....and if I had the right fabric for a long sleeve winter version I would immediately sew up a third.

Image of The Lady Skater sewing pattern (for teens and women)

In all honesty, the drawings don't excite me that much.  How about you?  

Here is a description of the pattern from the web: This funky yet functional knit dress has a fitted bodice, scooped banded neckline, a curved flared knee-length skirt, and options for trimmed cap sleeves, or banded ¾ length sleeves or long sleeves. It's designed to flatter the figure with a waistline that hits at the natural waist and a skirt that gently skims over the lower waist and hips. In plainer fabrics the skater dress lends itself to a casual wardrobe staple that's cute with sneakers, or snag yourself a fancy fabric for a knock-out evening dress. There are eight sizes included in the pattern, ranging from a 30” to 44” high bust, and a 24” to 38” high waist. It's a perfect garment to make if you are new to sewing knits and very quick to sew up. The pattern itself prints over only 22 pages, and the tutorial takes two streams: a full photo tutorial with hints and tips for visual learners and a shorter crib sheet for more experienced garment sewers.

Yep, I totally agree with this description.  It is a functional knit dress with a fitted bodice that has negative ease.  Typically when I hear negative ease, I cut at least a size larger but this time I didn't.  Although I do have to explain myself as I am between sizes--which seems to be happening to be more and more!  You measure your high bust, not your full bust, and your high waist or true waist line to discover which pattern size you need.  Since I was between sizes, I went with the larger size in the bust and graded to the smaller size in the waist and hips.  I love this sizing, it is comfortable without being tight yet fits but isn't loose.  How awesome is that for a knit dress?  

My first make of this was the red dress with fabric that was basically a nightmare to sew.  Think I am exaggerating?  Well, I'm not.  While it is what I consider to be the perfect shade of red, it has a generous four-way stretch that is exacerbated or hindered by the raised 'rails' of pattern on it.  After trying just about everything I could think of to tame it, I finally pulled out my walking foot and hallelujah(!) it worked better.....what was I thinking when I purchased it?  

If any of you were misled as I was to purchase this fabric for the bargain basement price of about $4 a yard, be aware you may be in for a nightmare if you have a lot of seams and are going to attempt to topstitch.  The walking foot helped tremendously and had I not had one, I would have thrown in the towel and burned it.  With this fabric, I tried a technique for finishing the neckband from the book, The Dressmaker's Handbook of Couture Sewing Techniques: Essential Step-By-Step Techniques for Professional Results by Lynda Maynard.  She had a fabulous technique for finishing the neckline on a knit garment that I intend to use multiple times and make it a mainstay of garment construction. 

I used this technique on both my red and floral dress and loved it both times.  I think it gives my dresses a couture finish.  What do you think?  

Here is what I did.  
1.  Sew one shoulder seam but be sure you have clear elastic sewn on both shoulder seams!  

2.  Cut lightweight fusible interfacing the shape of the neckline or alternatively use lightweight stay tape to 'stay' the neckline.  If you use fusible interfacing, staystitch the neckline as well.  If you use the staytape, you will have to apply it along the staystitching line anyway.  
If you stitch carefully you won't have to trim the seam evenly as this will be your guide for turning the neckband to the inside.  

3.  Next, press the neckband in half lengthwise

4.  Apply the neckband to the neckline, lining up the raw edges.  Keep in mind that if the garment has 5/8" seams, unlike this pattern, the edges of the neckline may line up differently.  If this is confusing, align the seams and look at it for a minute and perhaps it will make more sense.  

5.  Using the pressed edge as a guide, fold over the inside of the band to the wrong side of the bodice and pin in place. However, you still have a job to do!  Make sure you leave about two inches on each side of the unsewn shoulder unpinned as you still need to sew that.  I use pins parallel and perpendicular to the seam so I can get everything to line up perfectly--or as perfect as possible.  After sewing the shoulder seam, you need to finish pinning so you can sew the neckband in place.  

6.   As you can see from my photo, I pinned in the ditch so my seam would be less noticeable.  If you stitched everything straight, this will be a super easy application.  
7.  Stitch in the ditch or wherever you prefer.  And done!  Check our your neckline, it should be beautiful!  
What I love about this pattern is the versatility.  I can see this being equally cute in a sweatshirt, plain t-shirt of lovely lace type knit.  You could apply lace along seam lines or pretty piping.

I also have to say that I have never applied elastic to the waistline prior to attaching the skirt.  You have to be very careful not to stretch it as it will ruin the total effect.   

Another thing I love even more is the FIT!!!  It ROCKS!!!  What the heck took me so long to make this dress?  Well, I know the answer and that is that I had to tape the PDF together but had I know how easy and painless this process was, I wouldn't have hesitated.  

Other than my alteration to the neckline and drawing the pattern a smaller size from the waist down, it was a straight sew.  I thoroughly enjoyed making both versions of this dress.  My second dress was made from fabric I purchased from Mood.  OMG!  I so love this fabric!  It sewed like a dream, didn't roll at the cut edge at all and washed and dried beautifully.  I will be ordering more from Mood!   

Thanks so much for reading!  I do appreciate your comments!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Butterick 6057 from a stash bustin' Saturday

I think that once a week I am going to try and plan for a Saturday/Sunday stash buster where I use either a piece of fabric I've had for an embarrassing amount of time or a pattern that keeps getting pushed to the side. So this past Saturday I started with this piece of fabric that I've had for at least a year.

I purchased it from Marcy Tilton and it is a digital print in a very light weight cotton that has the weight and feel of a lawn.  I am not sure why I hung onto it for so long as I thought it was so pretty when I purchased it.  I promptly washed and ironed it and stored it in my stash closet.  I rediscovered it a few days ago and wondered what I had in mind when I decided I must have it.  Do you ever have purchases like that?  I am sure I had a plan in mind but for the life of me I couldn't remember what it was.

So, now onto the every growing pattern stash.  I choose Butterick 6057 simply for the sleeve detail and I thought I could use the border and graphic print to showcase the fabric.  I have to say while I think this top if fine, it is just fine in my book: nothing to get overly excited about and I am almost disappointed in how it turned out.  What do you think?  I mean, it's just okay in my book. Sort of meh.

I spent some time auditioning the pattern pieces onto the fabric to figure out how I wanted the final fabric placement to be.

I finally decided to cut it out on the crossgrain and use the lighter portion at the bottom and the dark black at the top.

This was a super simple pattern to cut out and sew.  The pattern description says it is fast and easy, and while it is easy, I don't think it was all that fast based on all the self-fabric bias cut bindings and the narrowing hemming.

before pressing into shape

The right half is pressed.  See how nicely it has molded to the shape of the fabric?  

Of course I serged the raw edges.  

After pressing and prior to edgestitching to keep it from rolling

Edge stitching to keep it from rolling.  I use my edgestitch foot specifically made for my Bernina.  Love this!  

I am a HUGE fan of self-fabric bias bindings.  I know they are more work, but look at how lovely the fabrics mold together.  Had I used purchased bias trim for this top, they would have been so much heavier and not as conforming to the curves and such as the weights were different and at times I do think the content of the fabrics fibers make a difference as well.  This is the perfect solution in my book!

As you can see, the final finished width of the bindings are a scant 3/8".

Looks like I need to wear a black bra or install lingerie guards!  
This top is described as loose fitting and it is, especially through the bust, waist, and hips.  It was also very loose fitting through the sleeve bands.  I made view D's sleeve bands with the front tie of B.  Sometimes the multi-view patterns let you have all sorts of mix and match decisions that give you a change to produce a one of a kind garment.

I made my usual 1/2" swayback adjustment and wow could I have gone with more!  The loose fit though is the way the pattern has been designed to look so some of this bagginess you just have to put up with.  After I had everything sewn together, I knew the sleeve bands needed taken in so I took them off and decreased the top width of those by 1/2" on each side for a total of 1 inch.  I could have gone more but I wasn't sure I liked this top well enough to take it apart again.  Maybe it needs to hang out on my dress form Grace and I can stew about it for a while.  My only other changes were to add interfacing to the sleeve tabs.  I didn't want them to get all droopy looking.

So, not sure what I think of this top.  It's okay.  I know my unconventional fabric choice probably didn't help matters, but when you are working with your stash, that's what happens.

Thanks for reading!  I do appreciate your comments!


Saturday, July 26, 2014

Grainline Archer--What took me so long?

Holy cow, am I the last person on the planet to stitch this up?  I feel like it after reading so many reviews and seeing so many adorable versions!  

Here is my review of the uber popular Archer from Grainline Studios.  

From Grainline's site here is a description of the pattern.  Doesn't is sound sort of yummy?  
"The Archer Button Up is a loosely fitting button up shirt with long sleeves. View A has angled cuffs and a back pleat at yoke. View B has straight cuffs and a gathered lower back detail.  Techniques involved include sewing a straight seam, setting sleeves, continuous button plackets, adding a shirt collar and buttons & buttonholes. Pattern is nested to facilitate cutting between sizes if needed."  

So I obviously made the view with the cute little peplum out of a linen blend which was quite nice to stitch up and sew.  The only drawback to using anything with linen in the name is how much it ravels and how careful you have to be cutting, sewing and finishing as any little mistake can wreck havoc on your sewing.  Ripping out is disastrous but you do what you need to right?  

So I had about three yards of fabric from Hancock I think since I have a moratorium on purchasing from JoAnn's.   Yep, burned too many times and I am just sick. of. it.  And, I've had pretty good luck with this linen blend from Hancock.  

Cutting out was really straight forward and so was stitching this up.  Although there were a few steps I think needed included in this top just to make sure you don't have any mishaps.  For example, I didn't read anything about staystitching the neckline.  I did this step because it is so ingrained in me and if you've ever skipped this step and ruined your garment or made one with a weirdly stretched out neck, you'll know never to ever skip it again, ever.  Ask me how I know....

The remainder of the instructions are super easy to read and follow and if you are a beginner or have made at least one or two shirts you shouldn't have any issues.  

With that said, I didn't however follow the construction process as I think that woven fabrics should have set in sleeves not sleeves sew in flat and followed by the side and underarm seam.  I just don't think it looks quite as nice.  

My other beef with this pattern is that you only sew on one button band, not two.  Maybe I am just being picky?  The end result is quite nice but still, I know that there is only one button band sewn on, not two.  I am wondering if I am way to particular or a sewing snob. 

I do LOVE the collar with the undercollar cut in two pieces on the bias.  Super cute, super results, and very upscale if you ask me!  Yes, this top is boxy and loose fitting.  I knew that going in a DD1 advised me to cut a size smaller but I didn't simply because I am between sizes.  What I did do though is to take 3.5 inches off the side seams at the waist level and taper above that and below.  It is just the perfect amount of loose fit for me and I don't feel like I am swimming.  Another suggestion of DD1's was to make a larger than normal swayback adjustment.  I followed her advice and made closer to one inch rather than 1/2 inch.  I am glad I did, although I think I could have even gone a little more....I'll have to think about that for next time.  

I used my KAM snap pliers and yellow snaps simply because I could--the snaps matched great and  I couldn't resist the ease and cuteness factor of the yellow. 

Also, you'll notice the trim I used at the inside collar stand.  As I was stitching everything together I thought about the detail of adding this so I grabbed some bias tape from my stash and added an embroidery stitch from my machine down the middle.  
I like the detail of it and plan to include that on many more garments in the future.  

I hand sewed this on at the end but ideally you'd sew this on prior to putting the collar stand together.  It's a fun detail, at least I think so anyway.  I do thank you for reading and I really like my new top.  I think it looks very fall like and I almost made it into short sleeves but decided against it.  I am so relieved to be part of the Archer club and can see why so many people make so many versions.  In fact, I ordered some Kaufman Chambray for my next go and can't wait for it to arrive! 

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Lekala 5669 Blouse

Hi again!  I just made a very funky blouse from Lekala patterns.  I am not sure if it is 'me' or not but it sure is interesting!  Based on the lines of the top, I simply had to make it.  I mean, can you blame me?  I had to find out simply based on my curiosity how the heck this was put together. 

Here is my review of Lekala 5669. 

So, if you haven't heard of Lekala before, listen up.  These patterns are based on YOUR personal measurements.  When you order the pattern, you list your measurements and a very short while later you receive your personalized pattern PDF.  How awesome and cool is that? 

The designers recommend using a medium or highly stretchable jersey fabric for the body.  Also you need jersey braid or piping for the trim.  I've never heard of jersey braid or piping so I experimented until I figured out what worked.  More on that later.

After putting the PDF together, the top was fairly easy to stitch.  All the notches matched up and even though the instructions were translated from Russian, they did make sense.  One thing you really need to do with Indy pattern companies is to read the seam allowance width.  For the two Lekala patterns I have used the have 1 cm or 3/8" seam allowance.  Had I used a regular 5/8" like the big 4, I would have been in trouble! 

So with this pattern, the front is two pieces and so is the back as you can see in the technical drawings above.  After putting those seams together the next job is to secure the two cross over straps and the right side is simple with just one seam.  Just read and follow the directions as written and if necessary, look at the drawing, it comes together easily.

The next step is to apply your piping, braid, trim or whatever you want to call it.  I laid the top flat and started at one of the left shoulder seams to apply the braid.  By the way that is where the notches are that fits the left sleeve front and back.  After that step, you attach the side seams and then set in the sleeves.  And yes, the left sleeve needs hemmed before attaching it.  Sounds simple right?  Well if you knew what type of edging to use it would be a breeze but I had no idea so I experimented and struggled a bit before breaking down and trying fold-over elastic.  First I tried a contrasting knit that I made into bias tape--that took forever and it was too wide, didn't lay right, and was heavy.  My next step was to cut the bias taps in half and try applying a narrower trim.  That was a little better but still left ripples in the trim and didn't lay very well.  I was just about to wad it up and leave it for a while and I thought about fold over elastic.  I even searched the blogosphere to hope someone had documented their trials with the top but I couldn't find any other reviews.  Long story short, I stopped at my local JoAnn's and purchased two packages of the purple fold over elastic that was 5/8" wide.  I forgot to bring a scrap of the fabric to see if the purple would match but forgot so thankfully it worked perfectly!  It applied easily, lays almost flat all the way around and gives a nice contrast. 

Hemming was completed on my coverstitch machine.  I am still struggling with that thing.  Does anyone have any good tips or know of any tutorials on using it?  I mean I bought that thing so my hems would look perfect and damn it I'm not there yet.  --Insert heavy sigh here!--

So, I do like this top.  It is comfortable but I do have a few tips.  Buy the dang fold over elastic straight away and use that for the piping.  Other stuff just doesn't seem to work very well.  Trust me, I know this from lots of trial and error. 

You might want to check the length of the top.  The length is fine but had I measured prior to cutting, I would have lengthened it about 2 more inches.  This is merely a personal preference and nothing to do with the pattern. 

If you do make this, will you let me know?  I'd love to see your version and what you thought of the pattern.
Also, if you can get all these curves to lie flat, I'd love to see that as well and hear your tips on how you were able to accomplish that!

Thanks so much for reading! 
I so appreciate your comments!
Sue :)