Saturday, February 26, 2011

Finland vs. Germany

I got home from a weeklong meeting in Nashville to find the Spring/Summer women's edition of Ottobre, as well as the March issue of Burda Style. I loved them both!

On the Burda front, once again, I loved the designs but can't see myself making anything from this issue.

Ottobre, on the other hand, has at least three designs I could see making up right away.

I'm taking my sons to Florida in April and at the very end of the magazine is a perfect tankini pattern! Ruching on the sides, halter top and bikini bottom. I have lots of swimwear fabric down in a Rubbermaid container, just waiting to be made up. I see this in a splashy orange and white polka dot! If I was bold, which I am not, I might even making the bottoms out of white lycra. Eek.

I also absolutely LOVE this cardi pattern. I plan to immediately make it up for myself, and one for my mom who is hosting us in April (lucky ducks are snowbirds). Even though Florida is warm, she and I are always cold in restaurants, and so my mom is smart and keeps a cardigan in her car at all times. I think this would be a lovely car cardi, probably shortened to hip level.

Last but not least, this cropped pants pattern caught my eye for some reason. Both the illustration and the photos make it appear to have a very current fit, which is sometimes hard to find in pants patterns. I'll give it a go and report back.

If I can get two or three things made up by the first week of April I'll be thrilled. My work schedule for March is already scaring me!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

apropos of nothing top

The other day I was cruising the Anthropologie website when I came across this super cute top. It was a boatneck top - navy collar bands, hip band and sleeve bands, and a white and green striped bodice. "I can make that!" I thought.

I've been playing around with boatneck style options since I made the muttonchops top, and this looked like a fun variation. Fun seventies-inspired tops are all over the place right now, and I really like it. They're loose in all the right places, you know what I'm saying? If you don't, then you didn't carry two ten-pound baby boys in your belly for more than 40 weeks.

It's springy and fun, and made using stash fabric so even better. The only thing I would modify if I made it again is to drop the front neckline an inch more, and lengthen the back bodice fabric an inch. Maybe if I ever learned how to stand up straight it would hang better, but the odds of that are slim.

Now, on to an even more exciting Anthro knockoff - the Lunar Cycles top! I actually bought this one because I love it so much, but I'm also really excited about making a knockoff and sharing all the various ways to create a completely different look with one pattern. Stay tuned....

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Kwik-Sew sale

If you live near a Hancock's, mark your calendar. If you don't, reach out to someone who does! Kwik-sew patterns will be 20% off February 24-March 16. They very rarely go on sale and 20% is the most I've ever seen, so I guess this is as good a time as any to snatch one up?

Monday, February 14, 2011

the butterfly blouse

Last fall, I stopped in to a local indie fabric store to see what she had stocked. I don't go in there very often for a couple of reasons. There's the part where her fabrics are fairly expensive and I know for a fact they're sold elsewhere in the country for much less. I don't like that part.

Then there's the part where the shop owner is ummm, how you say? not very nice. That bothers me too. Shouldn't small business owners be friendly? This lady, she is not. I digress.

Anyway, I fell in love with one of her silks. It's white charmeuse with giant black butterflies all over it, and I knew I had to have it. So of course, I waited until she almost had none left before I bucked up the $30 a yard for it. I got exactly 42".
So. What to do with 42" of silk charmeuse? First, throw it in the washer and dryer.

Yeah, you read that right. I said something to Princess Charming about being careful with it, and she scoffed at me (which she does every time I'm in there, so I'm used to this). She said "I wash and dry everything in this store."

Hrmph. I figured if Princess Charming could do it, so could I and that would also cure the problem I have of wearing silks, which is I have small children and how can I keep dirty handprints and Cheetos crumbs off of silk????

I needed a quick and easy top pattern to use this beautiful silk, so inspired by a vintage t-shirt from the seventies and a vintage pattern I have in my stash, I created something that's either totally cute and modern or way hideous and unwearable. I'm hoping it's the first one.

This is the easiest top to make. A poly jersey yoke, a silk body and a poly jersey band at the bottom. Voila! Spring and summer top. The vintage pattern I used for inspiration had me double the knit yoke to form a self-facing, but I didn't want all that extra fabric at the top. I tried it when I made my prototype and it was a little too bulky.
Originally I had arm bands around the sleeves and a ribbed neckline and didn't like the way it looked at all, so I cut them off and narrowly hemmed the sleeves and neck. This is why the neck gapes a lot more than I'd like it to.

I plan to make another version with longer sleeves in rayon knit that will be a lot less....voluminous? The word ease doesn't even begin to describe the air conditioning factor of this top. Anyhoodle, when I get that one made up I'll share the pattern in case anyone else is interested in making this.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Fail, possibly fail, and TBD

Ok, you know how most sewing bloggers don't post their failures? Well, I'm going to take a detour from that route and show you some colossal (well, one colossal and one minor and one yet-to-be-determined) fails that came out of my sweatshop this month.

It's a tale of three dresses, two patterns, two fabrics, and one sew-ist. Sew-er. Whatever. I still am not happy with the words for "people who sew."

The story starts with a piece of black and ivory floral ITY jersey knit from my stash. I bought it at JoAnn's many months ago and pulled it out a few weeks ago to make the dress version of Vogue 1020. I had seen Victoria's stretch lace dress and LOVED it. I also bought the lace print, which we will get to later, but for now let's just focus on the print that wasn't to be.

I had just enough fabric to make the dress, and I wanted to branch out of my comfort zone and underline the entire thing with power mesh to keep my bits from jiggling. Also, I didn't want to have to wear Spanx.

I cut it out, and tediously tacked the lining to the main fabric, then started in on sewing. I had assembled the shoulders and sleeves and was set to put the sides together (because of the ruching, that's how the assembly went this time), when I had my MOMENT. The moment in most of my sewing projects where I say OH CRAP.

I had failed to flip one of the pieces right side up when cutting it! The front and back sections on this dress, and others like it, aren't straight up and down. They take a huge curve to get extra fabric for you to ruche. So instead of two matching Cs, I had two opposing Cs! I crumpled it up and threw it in the UFO basket. A month later, I've pulled it out, ruched both sides instead of just the one, and put it together. Maybe it'll be ok? I'm going to let it hang and simmer while I think on it a bit. The jury is still out on it.

I loved that print, I have no idea why. So I went back to Joann's for more, only this time I was going to be super smart and do an entirely different pattern.

I chose McCall's 6163. Most of the reviewers loved it, and I liked some of the different style points - the sleeves, the ruching, the back shaped seam. So in I started again, tediously lining the front and back sections and putting it all together.

I had checked my measurements and cut my standard 14 again. Only, instead of adding a few inches to the length as I almost always have to do, I had this vague recollection of a tall pattern reviewer noting this pattern ran long. So I didn't do that.

Whoo-eee! This is the tightest, shortest dress I think I've ever made for myself! I wear an 8 or 10 in RTW and this easily would fit someone who wears a 6 or even smaller. Also? The length unhemmed is above my knee. Now, to be fair, the pattern does call it an above-mid-knee dress, and in going back over the reviews I can't find anyone who says it runs long, so I'm sure I imagined that in my own mind.

Pfft. Crumpled it up, set it aside. There is no way I am going to assemble and attach the collar and stand for a dress that wouldn't have fit me in the seventh grade. This one is the colossal fail.

Sigh. On to the third dress of 2011. Like I mentioned earlier, I bought the lace print ITY jersey at Joann's after seeing Victoria's version of Vogue 1020. I hadn't intended to make the exact same dress, but after screwing up the first version I was determined to get it right.

This time, all went well! I got the curves cut right, the fit was good, I didn't line the sleeves (found out after doing that that it added too much bulk to the sleeve seam and was unnecessary as I don't typically wear Spanx on my arms).

I hemmed it up and promptly stuck it in my suitcase to take to a work meeting out of town. The day came for me to wear it, and my heart sunk. Not only is it a wee bit short (?), but I failed to let it hang and in hemming, the fashion fabric hangs over the hem of the underlining power mesh. Poop.

That one, I think I can fix. I just have to take out the double-needle hem (drat) and let it breathe, and then hem it up again, this time a little longer.

So there you have it. Possible fail, colossal fail, and a goof-up. All in the month of January, and all with two jerseys from Joann's.

I really had higher hopes for February, but so far.... I've decided the Sherlock Batman Holmes coat-cape will never be. The fabric just isn't right. It is too heavy and doesn't drape well enough to let those sleeves be themselves. Plus, I interfaced the sleeve seams as directed and I shouldn't have.

The lesson to all new sew-ist-ers out there? Just keep plugging away. I've been sewing for 26 years and I regularly make mistakes and screw things up. You'd think I'd learn, but with my slash and burn ways, doesn't look hopeful.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Dinos like tees too

In my quest to sew down my stash, I decided to try to replicate the cutest top I saw recently. Right before Christmas, I stopped in to Lululemon, a pretentious little yoga/pilates boutique that sells their own clothing line for men and women and also holds spontaneous yoga classes (???).

By the way, it's pronounced Lulu Lemon, like the fruit, not Lulu Lemahn like the French race (with an S).

Anyhoodle, there was a girl working there with an adorable long-sleeved top on. Regular tee in front, ruffled strip down the center back. She was snooty about it when I asked, and explained it was "long gone" and there was no way I could ever own one. Pffft.

A month or so later, and I finally got it hemmed and pressed so I can wear my version of it. My version looks a little bit like a spine or a stegosaurus instead of a dainty ruffle, but that's ok. I can live with that. The fabric I used was one of my Hancock's value knits instead of a performance stretch jersey, so that accounts for that.

The most fun part was using a vintage pattern from the 70s - Simplicity 7980. I made the size 10, bust 32. Now, I am at least a 36 bust, probably more like 38, so you can see how different knits were thirty years ago. I didn't use the full 5/8" seam allowance, so that probably added another 1" around, but still. I do think the armscye is too far forward in the back, it extends too much into my arm so if I make the pattern again I'll fix that. Otherwise, not too shabby for a $3 t-shirt.

Please disregard tank top peaking out from underneath the hem. In the winter I wear a tank or camisole every. single. day. Partly because I'm cold, and partly because I've developed a nasty reaction to wool. Even my nice Vince cashmere sweaters give me hives by the end of the day.

I had originally planned to add the ruffle to princess seams in front a la a Zella top I have from Nordstrom's, but once I laid it out all that ruffling was a little obnoxious, so I stopped with the stego spine.

Now on to a babycord project that's been jumping around in my noggin for a bit too long. Very springy, perfect for the winter blahs.

NOTE TO SELF: Wait to take pics until hubby comes home. Self-timer = crappy photos.