Sunday, February 26, 2017

Green Laure

I think I've mentioned that I am not usually quick to jump on a new pattern.  When I saw the Laure dress, though, I was instantly smitten with both the qipao and the pussy bow views.  I haven't historically loved a dropped waist dress, but I think it looks so nice with the bow.


I showed the pattern to N, and she also loved the bow view.  We agreed that I'd sew it out of some shot cotton shirting I had in the stash (previously used here and here; I'm down to my last half-yard, which I am saving for pocket linings on future jeans).

N is seven years old, super-skinny and tallish for her age.  I sewed a size 5 with the length of an 8.  Even going down to a 5 width, the bodice was much too wide.  I ended up taking in the bodice side seams under the arm a full inch on each side (4" total removed in circumference!), tapering to nothing at the skirt seam.  The size 8 was just a bit short for my taste, so I ended up cutting out a hem facing to preserve length.  I'm quite pleased with the fit now.


I sewed the cap sleeve, which I found a little fiddly to set in as there is no easing at all.  A tiny bit of easing would have made it go in more easily, I think, and I'd like just a little poof at the sleeve cap.  This is a really minor detail, though, and I still love the dress.

I ended up adding some velvet/crochet lace trim from the stash to the front of the bodice.  I bought this trim in three colors, ages ago, probably from Fabric.com, and it was perfect.  I recently gave away more than half my stash in a decluttering frenzy, but finding this trim post-purge reminds me that it's not a terrible thing to stash a really unusual bit of trim or fabric when I see it.  I just need to be a bit more selective in what I choose.


My invisible zipper went in pretty well ... because, as it turns out, my regular zipper foot ... is actually an invisible zipper foot.  It came with my machine (an eBay purchase) six years ago.  I didn't really know what invisible zips were at the time, nor that they had their own special foot, so all this time I've been using that foot as a regular zipper foot (i.e. not stitching through the hole down the middle), and then killing myself when I do try to set in an invisible zip ... because I'm not using the foot the right way.


The construction of the dress was straightforward yet elegant.  The bodice is fully lined for a clean finish and the lining is attached at the zip by machine, not by hand.  I could have French seamed the skirt for a clean finish there, but the seam allowances are only 3/8" and I didn't think ahead at the cutting stage. The sewing did take some time, and so it was one of only two makes I eked out for Kids Clothes Week this year.  I think it was well worth the time, and N loves it.  And really, that's the most important thing.


Sunday, February 19, 2017

Mismatched stripe Appleton top

So right after I sewed my second Appleton dress, I decided to try making a top.  After the increased wrinkles that resulted from my original pattern mods, I decided to go back to the size 14 E/F bodice, but I kept the sliver that I added to the back pattern piece, and the size 16 sleeve.  I have similar wrinkly issues with this top so I think I really need to do a proper full-bicep modification on the size 14 sleeve.



To make the top, I cut the bodice 6.5" inches below the hip notch and hemmed it up 3/4".  The Cashmerette tutorial has you cut it at the hip notch, but I knew I'd prefer it much longer. I also cut both front pieces the same width, and used the tie pattern from the dress pattern rather than from the top tutorial.


The fabric I used was an unknown knit (rayon/lycra, I think) purchased several years ago from the $2.96 table at the now-defunct G Street Fabrics.  It is lovely to wear and has fabulous recovery. I only had two yards of it and it has these crazy wide stripes, though, so I had to think hard about where to put them.  I had made a t-shirt last summer out of a similarly wide-striped fabric, and I never wore it because the stripes were placed very unflatteringly relative to my bust.  I decided to eliminate the potential for that problem by using the widest dark teal stripe at the top.


What I didn't count on was that, by doing so, I would end up with a top that looks like I am wearing an apron!  It's especially noticeable when I am wearing my Soviet-cafeteria-lady face (they were the originators of the RBF, you know).


Though you can't tell by looking at it, I actually worked hard to match the stripes for this top.  I laid out my pieces on a single layer, checked and rechecked them.  But what I didn't take into account was that the Appleton has a built-in forward shoulder adjustment.  So my strategy of aligning the stripes starting at the shoulder was a big fail.  I should have aligned them at the bottom of the armscye and again at the hem.  Womp womp.


The result is hugely irritating, but not irritating enough to keep me from wearing the top.  I'm more concerned with the tightness of the top at the back, which illuminates the flab in that area.  It's better with the extra room I added to the back pattern piece after my first Appleton, but it still feels really noticeable.  I wonder if going up to a size 16 in the back bodice would help.  I'm not sure I will test it out any time soon, though - I'm itching to get to a couple other projects for myself.


Anyway, I wear this regularly, and get lots of compliments when I do.  I do have to pin the bodice to keep it modest, as you can see above, but as I mentioned in a previous Appleton post, I don't think that can be helped given the topography of the area.  I really love the wide neckband on this pattern, and might sew it in a contrasting color the next time I make one of these dresses.


Until next time!

Monday, February 6, 2017

Ginger jeans


I FINALLY MADE JEANS!


I know, I've been talking about it forever.  I bet some of you thought I was never actually going to do it.  I wasn't sure myself, so I don't blame you.  But I finally did it, and it was one of my first makes of 2017 to boot.


These are, of course, the ubiquitous Ginger Jeans.  I sewed them in a very stretchy denim purchased a few months ago from Fabric Mart.  I started with View A (the mid-rise stovepipe leg) but ended up closer to View B by the time I was finished with my modifications.


I cut the size 16 and basted it together.  Immediately I knew that I was going to need more coverage in the behind - the seat dropped when I walked up stairs or sat down, and it gaped.  I did two things to remedy this. First, I scooped out the back crotch curve about 1".  Much better.  Then, I raised the yoke height by 1" at center back (tapering to nothing at the side seams), and slashed the yoke pattern in two places to overlap it at the top, creating a much more curved yoke piece than I started with.  Here's a crummy iPhone photo of my yoke (top) compared to the original.


I also omitted the traditional waistband in favor of a stretchy self-fabric band, to create pull-on jeans. I bought a pair of pull-on jeans at the thrift store last year and they changed my world.  Up until that point, I had no idea that non-maternity pull-on jeans existed. At least not ones that didn't have a gnarly gathered elastic waistband and front pleats.  This was seriously a life-changing discovery.  I've always been a big fan of jeans, but lately I just can't stand a firm waistband when my middle section is so prone to changing sizes throughout the month week day.  As I never wear shirts tucked into jeans, this is a no-brainer.


My waistband, which finished at 3", is contoured at the sides, so at the bottom it is 35" around and at the top it is 32".  It is stretched to fit 39" of waist at the top of the jeans yoke.  I think I need a more curved waistband, though, so I will slash my waistband pattern piece in a couple of places and overlap at the top before sewing these again.


When I first sewed these jeans I had some crazy wrinkling at the back knee.  I suspected after sewing my Chi-Town Chinos that I might need a knock-knee adjustment.  I found a very informative post at Stitches and Seams discussing how a full inner thigh (which I definitely have) results in the same fit issues as a knock knee.  The basic idea of the method I used is to shift the entire pant leg towards the inseam.  Having already cut out my pieces, I couldn't do the full adjustment, but I resewed my seams with a 1/4" allowance at the inseam and a 1" allowance at the outseam, effectively moving my legs over 3/8" towards the center.  This actually did help the back wrinkling a bit and I'm curious to see what would happen if I did the adjustment the right way.


So, then I finished sewing them, topstitched them up and wore them.  They bagged out like crazy.  So I took them off and took the side seams in 3/8" inch from waist to calf, tapering to nothing at the hem. That was much better, and lessened the back wrinkles a bit more.  Then I wore them for another day and ended up taking them off and tapering a further 1/2" starting at the bottom of the pocket and ending at the fullest part of my calf.  I actually took the side seam in even more around the knee, curving the seam in and back out again.  That seemed like the wrong way to go about fixing the extra fabric there but it seems to have worked without issue.  I think by the time I was done doing this, I had effectively skinnified the jeans all the way down to View B, with the exception of the ankle, which I prefer to be a little straighter, so maybe I should have started there to begin with!


After yet another day's wear, I wondered whether the pants' migration south had anything to do with the fact that my front crotch was too long.  I ripped open the inseam and sliced 1/2" off the top of it, tapering to nothing about four inches down the inseam. That took care of some of the extra fabric there, but I think I actually need to do a different type of alteration to shorten the crotch - the method I tried also reduces the inseam, which I don't need.  If I slash the pants pattern above the crotch and overlap it, I'll get the shorter rise but keep the inseam intact.  Still doesn't solve the slippage problem, but maybe there's no way around that with these pull-on jeans.

And I'm having one other issue with these jeans, one that I haven't seen in any other reviews.  Can you tell what it is?


My pockets keep moving up out of themselves.  I would assume that this was a result of the jeans being too tight but they're really not too tight.  I'm going to widen the pocket facing pattern for next time, to ensure that the edge doesn't peek out, but I'm not sure why I'm having this issue when no one else seems to.  In any case, my shirt is almost always covering my pockets, so it doesn't affect the wearability of this pair.


I am 5'8", and I didn't add any length, but I did only hem them up 5/8" after serging the raw edge  I'll need to add some length to hem them the way Heather calls for.  No matter - I've been wearing these non-stop since I made them, and they are now my favorite jeans, so I'm calling them a rousing success.

I friggin' made jeans!