Thursday, January 30, 2014

The best laid plans - aka Plantain #3

So I was going to sew the Plantain dress based on the tutorial on the Deer&Doe blog.  I was going to make a color-blocked version with a red top and a navy skirt. Only it turned out I didn't have enough of the red knit.  So I made navy sleeves. And I thought red elbow patches would be a little cartoonish, so I used the striped knit left over from my last Plantain.

And then I sewed the dress and it looked ... a little matronly on me.  Probably because my bodice was a little long (my natural waist is a tad higher than the notch at the side seam of the Plantain pattern where you are supposed to slash it).  Or because the weight of the skirt was pulling it down a bit.  

So I decided to chop it.  And then I was going to take all these great pictures of myself on the balcony, but seriously I looked so dumb in 90 percent of them.  And the exposure was all wrong.  


So I resorted to the bathroom-mirror pictures.


 Note the potty sticker chart on the wall.


I don't have any hope of winning the Plantain challenge as there are some seriously beautiful ones out there already, but I wanted to give it a go - and today is the deadline.

So I thought, ok, I'll have my husband take some quick outdoor pictures Friday morning before work. I always like how I look in the ones he takes - somehow his vantage point from 6'1" always makes me look thinner.

I got up at 7 a.m., got dressed and then the baby woke up.  I went in to feed him ... and then he projectile vomited all over me and my new Plantain.

So these are all the pictures I have.

Here's a very blurry close up of my best knit neckline to date.  For this one, I cut the neck binding as patterned, but I sewed them together with a 3/8" seam instead of a 5/8" seam.


Also on this version, I cut a 40 shoulder and then extended out to size 42 at the end of the armhole for more room across the bust.  It's a better fit and I will do it from now on.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Lisette Traveler, #1 and #2

I bought this pattern at least a year ago.  I had my eye on the mandarin-collared tunic, View B.  Last month I finally sewed it.  I used a plaid cotton shirting from Fabric.com.  My measurements put me at a size 18, but I knew I wouldn't be happy with as much ease as was built into the pattern.  I measured the flat pieces across the bust and waist and decided to take a chance on the size 16 without alterations.


 It was actually a pretty good fit! It is just a bit too big in the shoulders, which at first I didn't think was a big deal.




Even so, I decided to try a size 14 + FBA for my second one, and also to try the View A collar.  After doing the FBA and reading a little about bust darts online, I decided to try lowering and pivoting the dart, so that it points up a bit more.  I don't really like the look of horizontal bust darts, but until now, I didn't realize there were other options.  

World. Changed.

Check it!


I will be doing all of my darts like this from now on.  Love it!

As I was cutting, I decided on a whim to shorten the tunic into a shirt.  I took 6" off the hem, leaving it long enough to cover my bum in low-rise jeans.  The fit was good already.  But, as I like my button-downs a little more close-fitting, I added two fish-eye darts in the back.


Check out that shoulder fit.  Isn't it much more flattering than the wider shoulder of the size 16?  I love it!

I only have one issue with the pattern, and that is the fact that the View A collar is all one piece.  I have never sewn a two-piece collar but I imagine it would lie better.  I'm thinking I'll make another shirt using the mandarin collar though.


Love.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Plantain, not so plain

I learned about Plantain, Deer&Doe's free downloadable tshirt pattern, about a week or so ago - so just a week or two after it had been released.  And there were already eleventh billion Plantains on the internet.  That's to be expected - it's a free and easy women's pattern.  But as it turns out - it is a free, easy and totally awesome women's pattern.   I predict eleventy billion more Plantains on the internet in the coming months - several more, for sure, on this blog!

Cotton knits are not easy to find in Tbilisi, but I had luckily stocked up this summer with a Girl Charlee order, with the idea of making a few Sewaholic Renfrews.  I have the pattern but haven't drafted it yet.  I am one of those odd souls who actually prefers Internet downloads - no futzing around tracing thin pattern tissue to preserve other sizes - with downloads you can just print it out again!

I didn't want to waste one of my precious Girl Charlee cuts on an ill-fitting shirt, though, so on Friday, I found a synthetic (I think) knit in the stash with enough yardage, and cut the size 42.  My measurements put me at a 44 but everyone has been saying to size down.  And on Saturday, after about an hour of sewing (most of that time spent wrestling with my twin needle, before my machine just gave up) I ended up with this:


The fit was good through the bust but too big everywhere else.


And this knit has no recovery at all, so by the end of the day the top was slipping right off my shoulders.

So last night, I cut another one, this time in a straight 40.  I probably should have cut a 40 shoulder, 42 bust and then graded between the two for the rest ... but I couldn't be bothered.  I used a Girl Charlee navy and white striped cotton/lycra leftover after sewing an Oliver+S Field Trip Raglan for my oldest.  Isn't it pretty?


I managed to get a 3/4-length-sleeved top out of the remaining 1 1/3 yards of 60" wide fabric.  I also tried elbow patches this time, using scraps of a purple interlock leftover from a Maria Denmark Kimono tee I made over the summer.


My machine was happy to sew the elbow patches using a stretch stitch, but it simply would not do a twin needle at all.   I used a ballpoint needle and a walking foot and everything.


I don't think it's visible, but I had to topstitch the neckline with a stretch stitch.  I don't know what's up - my machine used to twin needle like a champ.  It won't zigzag knits anymore either - though it will do both on wovens.  I'll have to take it in when we go back to the States.

Anyway, back to the top.

Given my twin-needle-handicapped status, I decided to just do a rolled edge on my serger for the hem and the sleeves and call it good.  It's a little lettucey, so I may try it again, since I have length to play with.


Or, and this is much more likely, I'll just wear it whenever it's clean and never bother to do anything to it.

Yep.  Much more likely.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Liesl&Co. Late Lunch Tunic

I've been toying with the idea of starting my own sewing blog for awhile.  Lately I've been sewing for myself more and reading the blogs of other women who sew for themselves and getting inspired.  So here we go ...

Like the rest of the Oliver+S virtual fan club, I was thrilled to hear that Liesl Gibson had come out with a new line of patterns for women.  When the Liesl&Co. patterns dropped, though, I was on the fence about them at first.  They looked very cute on lithe models, but my curvier shape needs things to be fitted somewhere.  Otherwise I may as well just wear a paper bag.

That said, I decided to order the Late Lunch tunic pattern.  It had a front yoke like the Wiksten Tova, my other favorite tunic pattern, which I haven't bought because it seems only to look cute on those whose cups overrunneth not.  And I knew the instructions would be good.

On the latter, I was not disappointed.  The instructions are great, plus Liesl included FBA instructions in the pattern itself.  Though my measurements would put me at a 12, I cut an 8 and did an F-cup-sized FBA.  I had some denim-look linen I had found in the $2.97 pile at G Street Fabrics while in the States for little man's birth.

When I finished the top, it looked quite maternity.  The front yoke did not clear my bustline, even with the FBA, and that amount of gathering in the substantial fabric was positively bunchy.  I didn't take photos, just ripped and made a couple of adjustments.  I took the bodice in on each side by 2". Instead of gathering, I made huge inverted box pleats on the front and the back skirt panels.  It looked better, but there's nothing I can do to make the top fit better.



So, a couple months later, I decided it was time for another try.  I've lost nearly 30 pounds since May and I was desperately in need of clothes that fit.

This time I used a lovely plaid double gauze that I picked up on sale at Fabric Mart. 

Isn't it pretty?  I love these colors.
I lengthened the bodice 2" and cut 3/4" off each side of both bodice pieces, for a total of 1.5" off each side, before sewing together.  I also reduced the width of each skirt panel by 2". The bodice length ended up exactly right, but somehow the bodice was just slightly too tight.  I can't work out why, since I took more off each side seam when I altered my already-sewn linen tunic.

The double gauze was a little wonky to work with, and I think it would have been a good idea to sew some stabilizer or elastic into the horizontal seam joining the bodice and skirt, because it stretched a bit while I was sewing it.  But the fabric is lovely and floaty - and I ordered three more yards in each of the other two colorways (for only $2.40 a yard - steal!).  Not sure what I will use them for - maybe a floaty summer dress for the green.  The pink and purple is ... very ... pink and purple.  So maybe that will be for the girls.


But I wear this a lot.


It's comfy, but still looks more pulled together than a tatty old tshirt.


I want to make more!