Friday, November 21, 2014

I love you, Burda 7031

I am so happy. I have been admiring this lace bonded sweater knit fabric at Joann's all fall but it was $39.99 a yard and you all know with my track record for ruining projects I really can't be trusted with pricey fabric. I finally got a coupon texted to me for 25% off my total purchase, and the fabric went on 50% off sale.
Burda 7031 View C
Woot! I bought it, not even knowing what I would make with it.

Francis jacket pattern by C'est Dimanche, also in my pattern stash
At first, I had planned to sew up this jacket by C'est Dimanche. But then I spent way too much time going through my pattern boxes the other night (holy cow, I need to thin that herd) looking for the perfect coat pattern for an embroidered wool I've owned for four years, when I came across this pattern.

I made view C

I bought Burda 7031 late last winter, after seeing a soloist at church wearing an adorable lined lace top. The shape was similar to this one, so I optimistically added it to my pattern stash.

I pulled the pattern out and studied the navy blue fabric in View C. It reminded me of the weight of this bonded sweater lace.

Closeup of the fabric, you can see the white fluffy parts are where the lace is bonded to the sweater knit.
I started cutting this out at 3:00 yesterday afternoon, took a break from 4:00-4:30, sewed til 5:15, and then finished it at 9:15. Honestly, cutting and sewing took all of 2 hours, maybe even less.

And even though it's a touch big I love it! Seriously, I love it. I have no idea why.

I went upstairs to take pictures with my taupe trousers and they're missing. So for these photos I've paired it with my wash and wear pleather skirt from QVC, another favorite purchase of mine this fall.

I never style my photos! The GOMI people scare me. But I think this time it will be ok.
I even put on high heels! Another QVC purchase. I share the links because I'm always frustrated when I see footwear that isn't documented.

Back to the pattern. Let's talk about the wonky "collar." Yes, they do call this a collar. Do you know those crazy kids at Burda actually suggest that you can add batting to the collar piece if you want it to have more body?? BATTING. I chose not to do that, it stands up plenty on its own.

I sewed most of the seams on my machine and pressed them open. At first I was treating this fabric delicately, but by the end I was pressing the hell out it with full steam and I couldn't tell a difference at all. That's nice, I don't have a "delicate" lifestyle.

I wanted you to see how the sleeves bell out just a little bit at the end. So. Much. Fun.
Then I goofed amd sewed the collar, the hem band, and the center back seam with my serger. That much bulk under one seam made for some ripples and difficulty pressing the seam to one direction, which was super important when tacking down the collar and hem band. In hindsight, I should have used the machine for all the seams and my serger for finishing edges.

All in all, I'm super happy with this top! I will wear this quite a bit for work, especially if I can track down those taupe trousers. I have to call the dry cleaners, I have a feeling they never made it home.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

On making pants

I was away from home last week for work, so I had a lot of time on my hands to research sewing techniques. Namely, making pants.

Making great pants is one of my sewing goals. That, and slowing down. Honestly, I probably stand a better chance of making kick-ass pants than I do slowing down.

I guess I can understand why drafting pants patterns is so difficult. All human bodies are shaped differently, and with pants you're trying to engineer something to cover the most moving-est part of your body. And cover it well, so that you can move freely and look kick-ass at the same time. That's a lot of pressure.

For this past trip, I packed three of my favorite professional pants, plus some fun leggings.
  • Theory ankle-length slim-leg stretch wool trousers
  • J Crew grey wool straight leg trousers 
  • Anthropologie seamed cropped stretch wool trousers 
  • Vince stretch suede cropped pants, cut much like a legging 
I had some time in my hotel room to take them all, turn them inside out, and look at what was similar or different about them all. Lucky for me I carry a tiny tape measure in my purse at all times. You never know when you'll find yourself in Home Goods and need to measure the height of a super cute chair!

One thing I noticed right off the bat is the crotch curve is very different in my ready to wear pants than in some of my sewing patterns. I'm used to seeing a full back curve but also a fairly deep front curve, similar to two Js.

In my ready-to-wear pants, however, the front curve is almost nonexistent, and the back crotch curve is very deep. I need to repeat that, it is very deep. Instead of a J, it more resembles a fishhook that sticks out at the end in a point.

I'm now obsessed with perfecting the perfect pants pattern based on my ready-to-wear pants. I came home and made what I had hoped to be a wearable muslin from Simplicity 1696.

I made a classic mistake of choosing the wrong fabric, a stretch cotton that behaved and wore a lot like velveteen. It was just too heavy and bulky for this pattern, but it would make a lovely blazer or skinny jeans. When I finally tried them on, they were quite unwieldy like they fought back a little? Weird.

I do believe with some adjustments this pattern could be a keeper for me. The rise was good, I love the 1" seam allowances, and the legs weren't super voluminous. I even blindly followed their ridiculous instructions for a fly zipper and it turned out ok. I kind of forgot while I was cutting out the fabric to change the pattern piece to reflect a cut-on fly, so I stayed the course and followed the instructions as closely as I could.
The only thing I really didn't love was the fake welt pockets. I know a lot of people don't like extra fabric volume on their backside, but I do appreciate a real pocket. I always try to stick my hands in fake pockets, I don't know why. Like a pocket bag will magically appear somehow.

While I was gone my new Peter and the Wolf pants pattern from Papercut Patterns arrived in the mail {I do support indie pattern designers, I just like to spend my money on original designs I haven't seen before}! I did a little happy dance.  For all of you in the US considering Papercut, keep in mind the dollars they reference on their website are New Zealand dollars. For me, the price including shipping from New Zealand to the States was $25, so not as bad as it could have been.

I spent my last hour of the night last night cutting the instruction booklet  out and putting it together, then tracing off the pattern pieces. If you haven't purchased a Papercut pattern before, they come in this adorable cardboard box and they're printed on large natural paper sheets. You know I must be motivated to find great pants patterns when I'm tracing patterns. It is NOT my favorite thing to do in the sewing room.
This pattern calls for stretch wovens, but I hope to be able to make a pair in a non-stretch wool for work. It also only includes 1 cm seam allowances, so I'm definitely going to have to increase that just a tad to account for my crazy behavior behind the machine!

Honestly, I know I need to slow down with my sewing. I will never enjoy the process or the finished products if I slam through them and fail to make wearable garments. A couple days ago, in order to find an 'early make' for #bpSewvember, I went all the way back to my first sewing posts from my personal blog. You know what? Not much has changed. I made easy mistakes back then and I still make them now. While the walk down memory lane was fun, it was also painful.

Why do I do that? 
Why does my brain malfunction and let me cut through a piece of fabric that needs to stay intact? 

I don't know. I really don't. I just know I don't want to do it anymore. So from here on out, I hope to report that I'm taking my time. That I'm creating quality over quantity. That I'm drafting responsibly and sewing methodically.

Oh, and that I'm making kick-ass pants.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Anna Maria Horner knit top

I should probably never go on the internet and look at things. Because then I get ideas and those ideas make me spend money and buy fabric.

Like these beautiful Anna Maria Horner interlock knits. I bought them from a few months ago after seeing something stunning AMH had made {no need to pick just one, it's like endless eye candy with her designs}. Her fabrics are so vibrant and unique, I seriously love them all. I've even bought some of her home dec fabrics so that I can frame them and hang them on the wall in the sewing room.

Which I will totally do, one of these days.

In the meantime, I stole a few hours these last few days and tried to make a shirt using my sweatshirt shoulder pieces but a t-shirt body.

I will totally wear this shirt all the time, but it's a little big around the shoulders and bust. Also, the fabric is a true interlock, so not necessarily the drapiest of fabrics. Warm and cozy and lovely, yes. Drapey, no.
I didn't have enough fabric for long sleeves, so I added a band at the bottom.
I'm really enjoying hemming with my coverstitch  machine.
It scared the crap out of me for a long time but now I think I have the hang of it.
I cut the neckband three inches shorter than the neck opening, but even that wasn't enough to avoid a little gaping. I've put some temporary tucks in place to keep it down, but I'll take it off and shorten it tonight after the kids go to bed. Speaking of kids, my son thought I should have "action" shots of me in my regular life. Enjoy.

Doing laundry.
I had to run up to my kids' school after this, and one of the moms complemented me on this shirt! I was stunned.
More laundry.
What are the odds that the grey and pink Tangle print would perfectly match my pink Frye cowboy boots? Love it. Another reason to wear these boots more often is a good thing. I've had them for at least five or six years and I never get tired of them.

Seriously, can we stop with the pictures of laundry?
Now, I must clean up the sewing room and take a work-induced break. My dog will be bummed.

I like it when my mom sews.