Monday, April 22, 2019

Pink and Flowery All-Day Shirt

For J's birthday this year, I did some secret sewing and made him two new shirts.  This one was made from the Liesl & Co. All-Day Shirt pattern.

My husband didn't know I was sewing this shirt, so I couldn't measure him.  I decided to just sew a straight medium, which is also his shoulder size in the Fairfield pattern.  I had faith that Liesl's pattern would be a bit more consistent in sizing, so I felt ok about trying the medium as drafted.  As it turns out, it fits him quite well.  The neck is spot-on.  I do think the shoulders are just a touch wide; I probably could have narrowed them 1/2".

The All-Day Shirt has two views - View A with cut-on plackets, one pocket and pockets for collar stays on the underside of the collar; and View B, with separate plackets, two work-style pockets and a button-down collar.  I went and examined his store-bought dress shirts, and noticed that he never puts the collar stays in them.  I was thus tempted to sew the View B collar, but ultimately decided to pull out all the stops on the pattern.  I'm glad I did, because the collar stay version really doesn't add too much time to construction, and it feels really fancy on the shirt.  I didn't make collar stays because he has a whole bunch from his RTW shirts that he doesn't use because the shirt collars stay straight on their own.

The Fairfield is the only other pattern I've ever sewn with a two-piece collar, so I didn't have much to compare this pattern to.  But I really like Liesl's collar sewing method.  It made it much easier to get a clean finish when topstitching the collar stand, as compared to the construction method in the Fairfield pattern.  Every time I've made the Fairfield, I've had trouble getting the ends of the collar stand (and the bottom of the cuffs, actually) to tuck all the way under cleanly.  I didn't have this problem with the All-Day Shirt.

I also liked the way that the shoulders are finished - it's not the burrito method, but everything is still neatly enclosed.  I did not read through the pattern instructions before starting to sew, so I was surprised to see that the armscyes, side seams and sleeve seams were all just finished together and pressed to the side with optional topstitching (which I did).  I really like the flat-felled seams of the Fairfield, so I think the next time I make the All-Day shirt I will add 1/8" to the seam allowances so that I can flat-fell.

The sleeve placket on this pattern is cut into two pieces before being attached, which allows you to make a contrast under-placket if you so desire.  I found the instructions a bit confusing, though, because they say to stitch the plackets to the sleeves at a 1/4" seam, as marked on the pattern.  But the pattern markings have the stitching line drawn at a 3/8" seam allowance. I went with the 3/8", but my under placket is teeny and I couldn't fit a button on it, so I think it is actually supposed to be 1/4".

The cuff instructions. Oh man. I did have some difficulty figuring this out. It's the same method as the collar, but for some reason, the collar seemed much more intuitive to me.  I found the cuff method super-fiddly, but it did solve one big problem I always have on the Fairfield, which is getting the bottom corners of the cuffs folded over and stitched with no raw edges poking out.  Hopefully Liesl's method will get easier for me after I've done it a few times.

I sewed the pattern completely as instructed, with no adjustments. The only thing I did differently was to use one layer of interfacing for the collar and collar stand (I believe you are instructed to interface both pattern pieces for each element, though I don't have the pattern instructions in front of me right now).  In any case, I find that the interfacing I use for shirts is plenty stiff with just the one layer.

Oh, you want to know about the fabric? It's nice, isn't it?  I used 2.5 yards of this Telio cotton poplin.  I have been greatly influenced over the years by the stunning floral shirts Nicole makes for the men in her family (this and this are just two examples). J doesn't own any floral shirts and I could tell when I presented this to him that he was a little unsure. But I think he totally pulls it off (and it doesn't hurt that pink is a great color for him). What he needs now is a nice gray tie to go with it.

I'll be back soon with the other shirt I made him.  Until then, thanks for reading, and see you next time!

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Yasmin Yoke Skirt

Back in January, I decided to try the keto diet. Although I hadn't been happy with my inability to take off the baby weight since Niko was born in 2015, I had begun to accept my shape, and had sewn enough clothes to wear 100% me-made every day.  Sewing really helped me accept the shape I was then, and I had put thoughts of weight loss on the back burner.

I wasn't super gung-ho about this diet, but a friend had convinced me to try it with her.  I'm really glad I did - I lost 25 pounds in three months and have been able to pull out some the clothes I made in 2013 and 2014.  I'm hoping to lose another 10 or 15 pounds.  I also learned that the chronic back pain I have been dealing with for years was greatly exacerbated by my sugar habit.  Cutting out sugar and most carbs (as is required by keto) also eliminated about 80 percent of my back pain.  This is huge, and may have cured me of my sweet tooth for good.  That piece of cake isn't so tempting when I know I'm going to wake up stiff and sore after eating it.

So, recently my weight loss got to the place where everything in my closet was just too big to wear.  I tried my hand at altering a few pieces, and learned that not everything can be altered.  Since I'd lost the weight, none of my TNT patterns fit anymore, so I couldn't even whip out an already drafted pattern and sew something up.

I wanted to make myself some new skirts and had a few hours on my hands. The Liesl and Co. Extra Sharp Pencil Skirt is on my Make Nine and I do plan to sew it, but I only have the digital version and hadn't printed it out yet. My kids had made off with the clear tape dispenser and forgotten where they had left it.  Just as I was about to give up hope on sewing a skirt that evening, I remembered that I had bought and assembled the Maria Denmark Yasmin Yoke Skirt pattern years ago (but never sewn it).  It was still with the rest of my PDF printouts.  Sold.

Sewing this skirt felt like getting back to my style and sewing roots.  This pattern is exactly the style of skirt I was always drawn to in RTW back in the day.  I love the wide waistband and slight a-line shape.

The fabric is a stretch twill leftover from my green Ginger jeans.  Since the fabric is pretty stretchy and since I know from making my Ginger Jeans that it will bag out, I decided to go down a size to the 42 (30.5-40 waist/hip), even though my measurements (31.5-41.5) put me in the 44.  It worked fine.  The pattern is drafted to sit at the belly button; mine sits just slightly above it.

I remembered to add seam allowances (necessary with this pattern), and added a 1.5" hem allowance.  It turned out that wasn't quite long enough, so I finished the hem with a 3" facing sewn on at 3/8" to preserve length.  The front skirt panel is meant to be one piece, but I cut it out in two pieces so that I could seam the middle and add some extra topstitching detail.

I didn't have an invisible zipper on hand, but I did have a khaki one that matched my topstitching thread, so I decided to sew it in as an exposed zipper.  I faced the pockets with the last scraps of a beloved gingham linen that I used here, here and here.

The skirt turned out just as I'd hoped (though I think I would rather have a metal zipper in the back).  I'm considering making another one in denim with an exposed metal zipper. I also have a couple more cuts of printed stretch bottom weight in the stash that are destined to become skirts, though I do want to try that pencil skirt pattern as well.  I think this pattern has potential to become the sort of wardrobe builder for 2019 Masha, that Simplicity 1887 was for 2016 Masha.

(Note: I'm wearing the skirt here with my favorite Traveler shirt, sewn back in 2014 and which only now just fits again.  Though I had to take out the back darts to get it to button, and the sleeves are still a bit tight.  A few more pounds and it should fit just right.  I'm so glad I didn't donate this shirt!)  

This is a fast and cute skirt pattern that doesn't take much time or fabric - the official fabric requirements are 110 cm (43"), though I think I used less fabric even after adding hem facings. 

And that's all I've got to say about that. Thanks for reading, and see you next time!

Sunday, April 7, 2019

March 2019

I made some good progress on my Make Nine goals this month.  I don't know that I'll make it all the way through my Make Nine, as my priorities are already starting to shift, but I'm happy with the things I've made so far.

I'm not sure I will get to that Yuzu Coat after all, and I'm less interested in the Cynthia Rowley dress than I was when I made this list.  I do still definitely want to make the Extra-Sharp Pencil Skirt and the Classic Shirt, as well as a new Traveler shirt dress.


My first item from my 2019 Make Nine list: The Calyer Pant in sandwashed cupro-nylon twill from Halston by way of Fabric Mart - I bought the fabric in February for the purpose of making these pants.  I actually only ordered 2.5 yards, but I got the end of the bolt and ended up with 3 yards - I used all but a large scrap.

My second item from my 2019 Make Nine list: The Lonetree Jacket in red organic cotton twill from Mood fabrics. I bought the twill fabric in February for the purpose of making this jacket and used up all 3 yards. I used a yard of plaid flannel voile from the stash for the seam binding.  Total yardage used: 4 yards.

A birthday Fairfield for my husband. I used up 2.5 yards of a shirting I bought last month from FabricMart for the purpose of making this shirt.

Sweatshirt fleece hats for my oldest girl and oldest boy (using scraps).


I have lost 25 pounds since early January, and have just reached the stage where many of my clothes, especially all my Ginger Jeans, are too big.  So I altered a few pieces:
  • My purple corduroy pinafore - it was a bit big when I made it but recently I was swimming in it, so I took in the side seams about 1" on each side for a total of 4" decreased, tapering to nothing at the hem.
  • My denim Alberta Street Skirt. This is the second time I've altered the skirt. I took about 3/4" off each side and tapered to nothing a few inches down. As I was working on it I noted that the fabric has seen better days. I sewed it more than two years ago and it has been worn and worn and worn some more. Probably time to make a new one!
  • My houndstooth Alberta Street Skirt.  This is also the second alteration for this piece - I took it in 1/2" at the waistline tapering out to 3/4" at the hem. I'm so pleased with the fit now!
  • My green pull-on Ginger Jeans. I took a wedge out of the back center seam, about an inch at the top, tapering to nothing towards the curve at the bottom.  I also took in the outseam pretty significantly at the hips and thighs by putting the jeans on inside-out and pinning them to fit.  Finally I removed the stretchy waistband and took it in an inch.

4 yards of black Cone Mills stretch denim from Fabric Mart (on sale - about $8.50 per yard including shipping!).
A yard of Ponte from a local fabric store.
2/3 yard of twill from a local fabric store.
2.5 yards of floral cotton poplin from to make another shirt for J for his birthday.
1.5 yards of cotton/lycra jersey from a local fabric store.


March Fabric In: 9.67 yards.
March Fabric Out: 9.1 yards.
YTD Fabric In: 21.67 yards
YTD Fabric Out: 17.88 yards

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Lonetree Jacket and a new fitting issue

I sewed myself a jacket.  I sewed a jacket because I needed a jacket.  I sewed a jacket instead of buying one because I generally find RTW jackets to be tight in the arms and too big in the shoulders, and, just for once, I wanted a jacket that actually fit me well.  I think I succeeded, and I need to tell you all about it.  So settle in, because this is going to be a long post.

I made the Lonetree Jacket from Indiesew using this organic cotton twill from Mood. It is the second completed item from my Make Nine and I am SO happy with it.

I spent a lot of time planning this jacket, some more time procrastinating on starting it, and then about 20 hours actually assembling it over a period of two weeks.  It is definitely the most involved project I've made to date. There are so many pattern pieces, and so many of those pieces need to be interfaced and/or edge-finished before you can even start putting them together.

But before that, I had to do some fitting work. I recently acquired The Complete Guide to Fitting, and so I decided to skip the muslin in favor of the book's tissue-fitting method.

Originally, I traced off a size M graded to an XL waist/hip for my 36.5 (high bust)-41-32-42 self.  I did a 5/8" high round back adjustment and a 1" FBA, and then pinned and tried on my pattern.  Whomp whomp. It was too small.  I went back and looked at the finished measurement chart, to which I guess I hadn't paid enough attention before. It was clear that I had chosen the wrong size - and not done a large enough FBA to boot.  Sigh.  I gritted my teeth and retraced the approximately 18,000 pattern pieces.

On the second-go-round, I traced the size L with a 1.5" FBA to give me a total 4" of ease in the bust. I graded the back piece to the XL from the waist down, and kept the additional width that my FBA gave me in the front (Note: I neglected to consider that this would alter the length of my drawstring casing too, and ended up having to recut those pieces during construction).

The tissue fitting indicated that the jacket fit, and the back neck seam appeared to be in the right place, so I skipped the high round back adjustment this time.  That was a mistake. You can see in the photo above that the hemline dips in the back - which I think indicates that I actually did need that adjustment. I don't know why it seemed in the tissue fitting that I did not need it.  Guess I should have made an actual muslin.

After my tissue fitting and measuring my arms, I decided to do a 1.5" full bicep adjustment on the size L sleeve.  I also used the largest size for the upper pockets and the lower pocket flaps, and I added an inch in length to the largest size of the lower pockets, to be sure my cell phone would fit.

I didn't follow the pattern markings for the pockets or the drawstring casing, but just decided where I wanted them after I sewed the bodice and sleeves together.

I decided to Hong-Kong-seam the inside of the jacket. I made bias binding out of the leftovers of the flannel voile that I used to make this shirt.  Unfortunately, when I went to attach my beautifully bound front facings, I realized that I had accidentally cut them in the size M that I had originally traced off, instead of the L that I was actually going to sew. I had just enough fabric left to cut new facings but no more bias tape. At this point I was a good 18 hours into the 20 hours that I would spend on this project, and had zero motivation to make more bias tape.  So I serged the edges instead. It would be nicer if they were Hong Kong seamed as well, but I don't wear the jacket any less because the edges are overlocked.

Right after I attached my serged-edge facings, I noticed the folds in the sleeves.  I am sure that this issue presented itself in the (multiple) tissue fittings that I did of this jacket before sewing it.  But my eye just wasn't trained to look for/see it as a problem. It was only when I was nearly done with the jacket and tried it on, that suddenly all I could see was the fold twisting down from my mid-bicep around to my wrist. What the heck was that? Below you can see the photo I shared on IG mid-construction, with a pronounced fold on the sleeve.

The Complete Guide to Fitting suggested that I rotate the sleeve in the armscye until the wrinkles smoothed out. I tried that. It didn't really help. Then I thought maybe the sleeve was just too big (it was; I'm not sure why I did that bicep adjustment), so I took each sleeve in 1.25".  The sleeve fit better but the folds were still there. So then I took out some of the sleeve cap ease, thereby almost entirely undoing my full bicep adjustment. I pinned it back in.  It looked a bit better.  So I basted both sleeves in.  Argh, still folds!  I didn't know what else to do with it, so I went online and re-looked at the 200+ pictures of the Lonetree Jacket on IG and then decided to just let well enough alone.

Thanks to some input from Teri, I now think the folds are caused by an outwardly rotated elbow.  I've gone back and had a look at pretty much every garment I've ever sewn myself, only to find that I have this problem A LOT.  I've just never noticed it before.

Interestingly, most of the garments in which I did not have this problem are garments designed by Liesl Gibson (though the issue is present in the black Portfolio Dress above, which is from Liesl's old Simplicity range).  See below from left to right, the Late Lunch Tunic, the Gallery Tunic and the Traveler tunic - all fold-free, though they are also all closer-fitting sleeves than the above.  I will need to take a look at those sleeve pattern pieces as compared to the ones above.

But what I've also found is that these sleeve folds are very common in RTW - which makes sense because, if they are caused by an outwardly rotated elbow, they'll present whenever someone with that anatomical issue wears the garment. I browsed some online clothing retailers to see how their sleeves fit, and found that there are many, many photos of models with the exact same clothing folds. I would never have noticed any of these folds before making my Lonetree.

So, is it a fit issue that I am going to try to conquer in the future?  Absolutely.  Am I going to buy more fabric to make new sleeves for this jacket?  Probably not.  First of all, the fabric has relaxed a bit as I've been wearing it, and while the folds are still there, they are much less severe than when I first noticed them (I can barely even see them in these photos!).  And secondly, I am trying to adopt the attitude that "good enough is good enough," and not belabor minor fit issues in what are otherwise perfectly wearable garments.

And this is a perfectly wearable garment, as I've demonstrated by wearing it almost every single day since I finished it.

There are a couple of things I would do differently if I ever make this again (and I hope this jacket will last me years and years so that I won't have to):

1) The hood is a bit skimpy.  I did not tissue-fit it (and I'm not sure I would have noticed the issue if I had).  But I do have a large-ish head, and I find that the hood could use another inch or so in height as well as in depth.  As I don't usually wear it up, this is ok.  I self-lined the hood because I didn't want any visible contrast, but I think I would have preferred it to be slightly lighter.  As it is, the double thickness of cotton twill has a little too much body, but maybe it will loosen up with age.

2) I had trouble visualizing how the jacket was going to come together in the front. The pattern has you finish the center front bodice seam allowance before construction, and, as I thought those seam allowances would be visible, I finished them with bias tape.   In fact, this is the seam allowance that is directly underneath the zipper, so it was not an appropriate finish, and it adds a bit of bulk.

3) I really need a tailor's ham, a clapper and Wonder Clips.  I don't own any of these things and have never suffered for lack of them before, but I really could have used them during this project (and will be adding them all to my birthday wish list).  The clips in particular would have saved me about 20 bent pins.

Finally, I'm not sold on the black drawstring and cord stops, but I have a matching cord and antique gold cord stops on the way with the intention of switching them out.

And I think that's all I have to say about that. If you made it this far, you're a trooper! As always, thanks for reading, and see you next time.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Cupro Cropped Calyers

You guys, I'm really pretty excited about these pants.  They turned out almost exactly the way I planned/envisioned.  They go with a good chunk of my tops.  They represent an evolution in my style (I don't think there's any way I would have been caught dead in baggy, elastic-hem pants a few years ago).  And, they are the first finished item from my first-ever Make Nine.

These are the Calyer Pants from French Navy Now.  I tested the patter before its release about a year ago, and I wore my first version quite a lot during the spring and summer 2018.  But they were made of rayon challis, which I've learned isn't a sturdy enough fabric to withstand these thighs, and a few months ago, the fabric just gave out.  I've been plotting a new pair ever since.

Geeky fitting information: I am 5'8" and my current measurements are W33 H 43. These are an XXL with the front rise shortened 1.75" (it's quite long).  The pants initially came out far too big in the bum.  It was sag city back there.  So I took them apart and scooped out the back rise about 3/4".  I also took a wedge off the back inseam.  I'm not sure exactly how much I took out, but I think it was about 1-1.25" at the top of the inseam, tapering to nothing about 6" down.  I then took some of the length off the back inseam to deal with wrinkles I was having back there - maybe 3/4" - which made the front inseam longer than the back.  I eased the top 8" or so of the front inseam into the back inseam.  This helped quite a lot, but it wasn't the best fix.  What I really need is one of those horizontal fish-eye dart adjustments under the bum - but, sadly, these don't work so well after you've cut into your fashion fabric (trust me, I tried it, thinking maybe the seam wouldn't be so noticeable ... it was).

Sigh.  So they're not perfect.  But, happily, the back view of these pants looks much better in these photos than when I'm looking at my butt in the mirror. (And this never happens - I always think things look great until I see photos!)

After deciding that there were no further alterations I could try to de-sag the bottom of the pants, I pranced around in front of the mirror with the hems pinned up at different heights.  As drafted, the Calyers are full-length pants with no elastic.  I ended up shortening the pants about 3", and elasticized the hems to give them a bit more of a harem-pant feel.

This is a very nicely designed pattern.  I particularly love the pockets (and I'm not usually a pocket freak), and the topstitched inseams.  I just need to work out the fitting over my bum, and then I could see making another pair or two of these - maybe in a more colorful linen/viscose for the beach.

The fabric is 3 yards of Halston cupro/nylon/spandex twill (at least, that is what Fabric Mart said) - but I don't think there was actually any spandex in there).   I actually ordered 2.5 yards but got the end of the bolt.  Good thing, too, as I used the entire length of the yardage and only have a large scrap left.

I'm digging the casual, sandwashed fade of the fabric. It's very spongy, and drapey, and needed to be pressed quite firmly with high heat and steam through a press cloth before it would behave.

I don't think these pants will get that much wear in Bogota, sadly.  Although I was comfortable taking these photos on our terrace yesterday, 30 minutes later the temperature dropped and I had to get changed before taking the kids to story time and swim lessons. I changed from this outfit into jeans, boots, a knit top and a wool cardigan ... if that gives you any indication of the crazy daily temperature swings up here in the Andes.

But, as taking these photos has made me feel much better about the back view of these pants, I can't wait to take them on our next trip to warmer climes.  And that's about all I've got to say about this project.  As always, thanks for reading, and see you next time!

Friday, March 1, 2019

February 2019

This month we hit the half-year mark of our stay in Bogota.  We're a quarter of the way through and it still feels like we just got here.  And although I was thrilled at the thought of no winter when we moved, I'm finding the constant temperatures to be a little bit monotonous. Don't get me wrong; I prefer this to what's going on in much of the United States at the moment, weather-wise, but there's something weird about trying to teach my kindergartener about seasons through pictures instead of through experience!

I only completed two projects this month, but they were both pretty involved.


Thursday, February 21, 2019

Denim Gallery Tunic

Before we packed up in Virginia, I paired three cuts of fabric with patterns and put them into clear zippered bags (the kind sheets come in) along with notions and thread. The idea was that they would be the first projects I would work on when I arrived in Colombia.