A sewing blog about building a functional, cohesive handmade wardrobe, one garment at a time.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Selfish Sewing Week: Kirsten Kimono Tee

If we're honest, I have been quite busy with the selfish sewing for all of 2014 thus far.  But I have a lot of trouble resisting a new dedicated Flickr group in which to post my FOs, and I also need some tshirts for summer, so here I am.

Yesterday I made a Kirsten Kimono Tee, a free pattern from Maria Denmark.  I made three of these last summer while tinkering with the fit - one was way too big, the second a touch too big, the third too small (but I can now wear it with cardigans on top).  Such is the peril when sewing with different kinds of knits; the same size fits differently when you are dealing with different degrees of stretch and recovery.

Anyway, this time I decided to just cut a straight M and add the seam allowances (since they are not included in the pattern).  I used a lovely drapey cotton/lycra that actually feels like it has some rayon in it, from Girl Charlee.  I had bought this thinking my girls would like leggings out of it, but they have not been that interested so I snatched it for myself.  Selfish sewing, indeed!

I really love the fit of the top 2/3 of the top, especially the neckline (which I lowered a bit) and the kimono sleeves.  The bottom doesn't fit so well, though, around the donut of stubborn post-baby fluff that encircles my middle just below my belly button. It works ok with my higher-waisted skirts, but I won't be able to wear it with jeans without unsightly bulges.

I used an older version of the pattern, that I had downloaded in spring 2013.  There is a new version that promises 'improved fit' but I couldn't be bothered to print it out yesterday.  I am curious now, though, to see whether it would fit better around my hips.

After I made this top, I cut a second one, allowing more room in the hips.  I had such high hopes for it.  It was going to be super-trendy: I used striped fabric to create a chevron in the front, I put in a decorative zipper at the back.  I also completely botched the neck binding when I tried to sew it on with a wider seam allowance - now the neckline is too low and wide (is there even any fix for that?).  Aand my stripes did not match across the zipper.  I don't even think it is salvageable.  I hate wasting fabric like that - ugh.  Teach me to try to be trendy!

Maybe I will have better luck today.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Moss, modified

I did not know that April had been declared Moss Making Month, so it was a happy accident that I sewed my second Moss skirt a couple weeks ago.  Coming off of my first, too-big Moss, I decided to size down.  Since I had taken the other, initially size 12, Moss in a whole inch on each side, I cut an 8 this time.  I had my doubts about that - I haven't been an 8 since, like, junior high school - and it turns out those doubts were well-founded.  The skirt was way too tight - like Mariah Carey tight.

My husband insisted that it looked good (wink wink, of course he did), but there was no way I was going out in public like that.

What to do?  I took off the waistband and added a wedge of fabric in between the front and back skirt pieces on each side.

Being wider at the bottom than the top, the wedge gave the skirt an a-line shape, and I like it.

I used a navy and white pinstriped stretch cotton from Fabric Mart.  While I love the pinstripes, the fabric itself is quite thin and crisp, causing it to crumple like an empty bag of potato chips.  The interfacing at the waistband and fly also completely bubbled up after just two washes.  I guess it's time to find an alternative to Pellon (though sadly, I still have half a bolt of the stuff in my sewing room!).  Any recommendations?

I decided not to face the hem band for no reason other than laziness (since I had to cut out new hem bands after adding my side-wedges).  Instead I used some 1.5" chevron twill ribbon to face the hem.  I think it is adorable, though it causes the hem to not be stretchy when the rest of the skirt is stretchy.  That is kind of a "duh" revelation, but nevertheless one that I had not considered ahead of time.

Rumply fabric, bubbly fly and firm hem notwithstanding, this is exactly the kind of skirt I would buy in a store, and I may keep the side-wedges on future iterations.  Though I will have to think carefully about sizing again on the next one - it seems that the stretchiness of the fabrics I have chosen thus far make a big difference in the size I should cut.  

In any case, I love this pattern.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Dotted Traveler

I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter.  I took breaks from both sewing and blogging during Holy Week - it was hard to unplug at first, but I feel rejuvenated after a week of prayer and reflection and the joy of Sunday!

So this week I'll be blogging a few things I made before KCW but never posted.

I made another Lisette Traveler shirt a couple weeks ago.  I used the same modifications that I made for my second Traveler back in January - size 14+FBA with two fisheye darts in the back and French darts in the front.  I did forget that I had wanted to do a forward shoulder adjustment on this shirt - I need one as I keep shrugging it back to the front. I have to remember to do that next time.

I used a gray Swiss dot from Fabric.com, and used the mandarin collar.  It's a very light and comfortable shirt to throw on.  I do wish I had chosen a color other than gray in the Swiss dot - this would have been nice in a brighter hue.  I have to keep that in mind next time I fabric shop.

I did not choose my topstitching thread well - it shows up more than I would like.  And this fabric is so nice and light, but it wrinkles like crazy.

Not much else to say about this make - I love the pattern and will make it a fourth time, I'm sure.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

KCW Day 5

I managed to sew on Day 4, but I was still feeling queasy at the sight of the fabric I had cut earlier (so weird!).  I decided to make circle skirts for the girls.  I have never been a huge fan of the circle skirt, honestly - it is not a look that is attractive on my shape, and I think a lot of times it looks silly on grown women.  But on girls it can be cute.  I decided on impulse to make the skirts while the girls were at preschool, so I just based the measurements off the corduroy tiered skirts I made them for Christmas.

I consulted a couple different tutorials online to get the basic method for making a circle skirt - it is very easy.  I didn't want to use wide elastic for the waistband because I thought that would irritate my older daughter's sensitive skin.  I didn't want to mess with a casing either, figuring it would be a pain to get the circular seam to lie nicely.  I had some foldover elastic in my stash that I had bought intending to make the baby some diaper covers.  I never made the covers, and now we use pocket diapers, which don't require covers.  So I had four yards of FOE in various colors.  

I folded the FOE over the raw edge of the skirt's waistband, sandwiching the fabric between two layers of elastic. I divided both skirt and FOE into quarters, pinning four times, and then stretched the FOE to fit, making sure to keep the skirt fabric inside the sandwich.  I used a three-step zigzag to attach it.    And it worked!  The FOE is very stretchy, so I actually needed to shorten the waist a bit beyond my usual elastic length after the girls tried the skirts on.

The pink fabric is some really lovely, high-thread-count stretch poplin that I got in the $2.97 section of G Street Fabrics awhile back.  I figured it would come handy sometime because, pink.  But it was TOO pink for most patterns with which I had tried to pair it.  I actually think it might be too pink for this skirt.  I couldn't get a single photo that didn't look like the skirt was glowing neon.  It's not really neon pink - it's just really really really pink.  Little Sister has requested that I put "something" on the skirt - we settled on "bubbles" - and the appliques might make it a little less pink.  Whenever I get to them, anyway.

The floral is a print I picked up from FabricMart.  I love the print and had actually bought enough in quantity for a shirtdress for myself.  When the fabric arrived, though, I was disappointed in how quilty it felt.  It is wide fabric - like 58", I think - so I figured it would be apparel fabric, but it feels more like quilting cotton.  In any case, it worked well for this skirt.

The skirts turned out way longer than I intended them to, mostly because the gils insist on pushing the waistbands down to their hips.  Between the length and the stretchiness of the FOE, these should last a LONG time!

Which is good, since the girls are really digging the twirly factor.  In fact, this morning Big Sister complained that the Ice Cream Dress I had laid out for her to wear church wasn't twirly enough!

Friday, April 11, 2014

KCW Day 4

So, as predicted, I spent all of day 3 in bed feeling utterly queasy and as though someone had run me over with a truck.  There was no thought of sewing.  Yesterday I woke up feeling much better, but the thought of returning to the Izzy Top, which I had blogged about while nauseated, made me feel nauseated again.  Does that happen to you?  The thing that you eat, or watch, or do, while nauseated, nauseates you when you do it again later?  This happened to me with knitting, of all things, during my pregnancy with my second daughter - I was not able to knit again for months after the morning sickness passed.

Anyway, thankfully, I had another project cut out and waiting to be sewn - a cotton interlock sleep sack for my son for the spring and summer.  I used Kwik Sew 3809, which I used last fall to make a couple of fleece sacks.  It's a sleep sack pattern, folks.  There really isn't much to say about it, except I appreciate that Kwik Sew uses a thicker, sturdier paper for their patterns than other companies (*coughcoughSimplicitycoughcough*).  The sleeveless variation, which is the only one I have made, is super-quick to sew up.

I bought the material at Land of Oh while pregnant with my son, intending to sew up some tiny baby sleep-n-plays, but it never happened.  I figured I'd better use it up now, as the print, while totally adorable, is a little on the juvenile side.  Also, I never noticed until now, that the hot-air balloons say "Basic Elle" on them.  Land of Oh is in South Korea so I'm guessing this fabric is of Asian origin.  I have seen other fabrics from Asia (like some Kokka prints) with strange words on them.  That roll of label twill-tape that I got (also from Land of Oh) and used on my recent Class Picnics, has some labels on it that say "Sunbonnet" instead of "Handmade."  ?

What looks like pill on the picture above is actually just graininess - the fabric is lovely and smooth.

Actually, Land of Oh knits seem to be a really nice quality so even though they are quite pricey, I think I will order from them again.  I have been let down by the vast majority of my reasonably-priced purchases from a very popular Stateside knit fabric purveyor (pill city!) so I'm ready to spring for better quality.  I can't stop thinking about this gorgeous floral cotton-lycra jersey.  (Note, I am not affiliated with them in any way; I was just really happy with my fabric purchase last year and plan to buy there again).

I have some of the interlock left so I'll probably use it for tshirts for him this summer.  I used a dark teal cotton-lycra jersey for the neckband, and the zipper is a local purchase.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

KCW Day 2

I sewed another Izzy Top yesterday.  The yoke was cut from more scraps of Little Folks voile and the skirt is a slubby linen of remnant bin origin.  I did not seek her input on fabric choice - the first time in awhile I have gambled so - but she liked it and wanted to wear it immediately.  It is cold here today, though, hence the layering.  I would have chosen different items ... but you win some, you lose some.

This linen looked awful when I gathered it.  I guess it is too set in its ways to gather docilely, so I pleated it instead - four pleats in the front and an inverted box pleat in the back.

I made my button-loop modification again, and finally found a use for this adorable button I bought a couple years ago without a purpose in mind.

I did try to modify the pattern to produce a clean inside finish, but it is going to be a little trickier than I had thought - I have to make modifications while sewing the bodice pieces together.

I do have two more of these cut out but I'm not sure when I will get to them - I am blogging from my bed where I am laying sick, feeling as though someone hit me repeatedly with a baseball bat all night, so KCW Day 3 will definitely be a bust.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

KCW Day 1

I was hard pressed to get my hour's sewing in yesterday afternoon, and I didn't think I would have anything to share today.  But then the husband got distracted by work in the evening and I had a chance to sneak back to the machine and finish off my first KCW project: an Izzy Top using the free pattern from Climbing the Willow.  I had actually cut four of these tops despite never having sewn one before.  It is similar to my beloved Ice Cream pattern, but has a curved yoke that I think is really sweet.

This top is made entirely of cotton voile scraps - the yoke is from Anna Maria Horner's Little Folks line and the lining and skirt are Fabric.com voile (the difference is big, folks).  I had to piece together the front and the back skirts, an act that I decided to embrace with topstitching emphasis.  The back yoke has a surprise (also due to fabric shortage).  I had been hoarding these AMH scraps for two years, since my first KCW, actually, and I'm glad I found a use for them before the girls grew any more!

I changed up the pattern slightly by swapping out the button tab for a button loop (made out of a bias strip of fabric).

This is a very poofy shirt/tunic and I am very glad I used the voile.  Quilting cotton would work fine for the yoke but I think it would be a hot mess in the skirt.  I wouldn't want it any poofier, though I think it looks adorable on my 3-year-old.  I sewed her a size 3T with 5T length PLUS a couple inches.  It will be great with capri-length leggings for summer and hopefully she'll get another year or two out of it.

My only beef with the pattern is the way the inside is finished.  When I see a pattern with a lined yoke, I generally expect a very clean inside finish (yes, I am very spoiled and possibly have unrealistic expectations).  In this pattern, the yoke is sewn to the skirt in one piece, leaving an exposed seam, which I think might irritate my older daughter's sensitive skin.  I don't think it would be that hard to adapt this pattern by using the sewing technique for the Ice Cream top (though, spoiler alert, I sewed a second Izzy for KCW Day 2 and after a little bit of fiddling I gave up and made it according to the pattern instructions).  

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Baby (and mama) gift

My good friend Dasha had a baby this winter - her fourth adorable little girl.  I wanted to send her a special gift but it took me awhile to figure out what to make.  It had to be something that I could do well so that I wouldn't embarrass myself, as she is a fantastic seamstress.

I settled on an Oliver+S Music Box Jumper.  It is a very easy, basic pattern with a clean finish.  I didn't love the pattern until I saw a few versions with a closer fit and a longer bodice/shorter skirt than the pattern calls for.  Then I bought it and have already used it a couple times for gift sewing (though not actually for my own kids yet, I just realized!).  For this version, I chose view A in the 6-12 month size, but decided to gather the skirt rather than pleat it.  I also lengthened the bodice by 1".  I used a pretty green linen-rayon blend that I grabbed from Joann's remnant bin during our last home leave, and lined the bodice with some quilting cotton left over from an Ice Cream Dress I made for N over the summer.  I also did a few rows of topstitching at the hem, a la the Family Reunion pattern.

Since I sewed the dress with the intent that it be worn as a sundress, I decided to make a little shrug to go with it.  My mother-in-law recently sent me New Look 6236, which includes a cute little bolero pattern.  I have been hoarding this Valori Wells Karavan jersey forever - I don't know why I only bought 1/2 a yard of it - and it was just enough to make the 12-month size.  If I had planned ahead, I would have made sure the lining of the dress was a better coordinate for the bolero; but the bolero was a late addition to the ensemble.

The shrug sewed up very quickly -  I used my serger for all but the sleeve hems.  The pattern instructions don't provide for a very clean finish to the inside - it just has you sew both the band's raw edges to the shrug's raw edges and then finish them together.  I think that it would be a pretty easy fix to fold the inside of the band over to cover the seam, rather than stitching the band to the body all in one seam.  It IS nice and quick the other way, though.

Mamas are often forgotten in the mad rush to send gifts for new babies, and I wanted to make sure D knew I was thinking of her, too, so I stitched up this quick infinity scarf.  I was seriously tired when I cut and sewed it, and it is LONG.  A whopping 120" in circumference.  But the material is very lightweight, so it works.  I like the print too; it's from Girl Charlee.

I finished off the gift with a few luggage tags (pictured here) that I sewed earlier in the year - the fabric is also from the Valori Wells Karavan line.  I used this tutorial to make the tags - very fun to sew and a great way to use up small scraps.

I hope she likes it!