Sunday, September 29, 2013

My First Avocado Hoodie

 My first Avocado Hoodie:

I'm calling this my "first" because there's definitely going to be more!

Seriously, I love this!

Pattern: Avocado Hoodie by the amazingly talented Mari of Disparate Disciplines.  I choose Option B, non-overlapping hood with back pockets.

Fabric: Double-sided sweatshirt fleece from Vogue Fabrics in Evanston. It's chocolate brown on the outside and a lighter tan on the inside. I used green jersey left over from my Burda gathered top for the pocket lining.

Size and Modifications: I cut out a 6 at the top and graded to an 8. The only other intentional modification was that instead of using clear elastic to stabilize the bottom pocket edge, I used a strip of the fleece selvage. Time will tell how well this holds up.

By "intentional" modifications, I kind of made a few mistakes along the way with construction. The instructions are great, but I just spaced out from time to time and forgot to follow them in a few places. It's all on me. Most of the time, it just meant me spending some quality time with my seam ripper (we've been very close the past few weeks), but I will need to go back in an either redo the topstitching along the neck or tack down the facing. I was in the home stretch and didn't see that I was supposed to sew 3/4" from the neckline. I think mine is about 1/4".  It just means the facing sticks up a bit, but I'll probably go in and correct this soon.

Check out the back pockets!

I do have just a bit of bunching around my hips and lower back. The instructions do suggest using a fabric with 4-way stretch if you have a swayback or a proportionally larger bottom (Check and Check). They also suggest making sure you have positive ease. I haven't measured, but with jeans on I should be right at the finished garment hip measurements. None of this bugs me in the slightest because I think it still rocks and is super comfy, but I will probably grade my next one a bit larger at the hips, or pick a lighter weight fabric.

And can we talk about the thumb holes!

I'm thinking of stealing this pattern piece and adding it to other tops because I really do love this.

The best news, my husband wants his own hoodie! There are a few (hundred) projects ahead in line, and I'd have to figure a way to grade the men's pattern up for him because he has crazy huge shoulders, but it should be fun!

I'm just sad that the weather is so nice out, because I really want to wear this more (or at least for longer than this photo shoot)! This is some seriously warm fleece, and I'm pretty sure I'd die if I wore it outside this coming week.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Meetup and Fabric Fun

This Sunday, I had the pleasure of meeting up with a group of amazingly talented Chicago-area sewing bloggers.  It's always inspiring to meet with such talented ladies, and extra fun because you know that every single one of them was wearing something that they created themselves! I didn't take any photos, but you should definitely hop on over to see the ones Michelle posted on her blog.

Our meetup began at the Textile Discount Outlet.  If you haven't been there and are in the Chicago area, you must go. It's a huge, chaotic, insane amount of awesomeness that will leave you feeling overwhelmed, but you'll also end up with some great deals. Afterwards, we headed out for lunch and pattern swap. Again, check out the pictures on Michelle's blog. It was a swap of epic proportions! I picked up two patterns, a Tiramisu (a pattern I've been eying up) and a basic elastic waist skirt that I'll probably make ten of to wear around the house. 

Amazingly, I managed to keep my purchases reasonable.  (And by reasonable, I mean under $60) I was very good keeping my wardrobe goals in mind for the most part and have patterns or at least ideas for all of the fabric!

My haul:

Floral Fabrics. The bottom left light blue is so soft! I'm sure it's rayon. The darker purple at the top left still feel great, but not quite as soft. I'm guessing that it's either cotton or a cotton-rayon blend  At least one, if not both, will become a Saltspring dress. 

Snake Print is a heavier, stretchy cotton blend (maybe?). The guy at the cutting table called it a printed denim. It doesn't feel heavy enough for that, but I'm definitely not the expert when it comes to these things. I couldn't find a suitable leopard print for my dream pencil skirt that wasn't velvety or chiffon, and this was my consolation fabric.  But, I really like this because it also has a sort of lacy vibe from farther away.

Maroon Fleece on the top right. This was so amazingly soft. I couldn't stop petting it! This is destined to become a Burda top similar to ones I've previously made, an Avocado hoodie, or maybe I could branch out and try the Lola dress pattern.  I hope to be able to squeeze a few things from this, so we'll see what happens.

Mystery Purple Fabric on the bottom right. Thurlows. I'm not sure if I'll go with the shorts or pants yet. I'm giving this pattern another shot and am not going to mess with alterations like before. I like to live and sew dangerously.

And, last but not least, SEQUINS!!!!!!!!

Here's a closeup of the awesomeness! They're so dainty and delicate and I love the color. I actually have been eying up sequins for some time now and while it's the most impractical item in my haul and technically not on my to do list, it's sequins!!! So shiny! How can I resist?  This will either become a sheath dress or a top and I don't care if I only wear this out to the movies or the Golden Nugget Pancake House, it's going to be worn!

I was also really good when I got home and went on a cutting spree! I usually hate to cut, but since I wanted another day to think about the silk Saltspring fix looming over me, I cut out the fleece for my first Avocado hoodie, a maroon knit for a Burda kimono top, some plaid fleece for lounge pants for my mom, and I'll even include a Renfrew even though I didn't cut it out. I found the pieces and added them to my pile so I'm counting it.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Wardrobe Planning

This week I've been thinking a lot about wardrobe planning and how to fill the holes in my wardrobe. Actually, I've seen similar posts around the blogosphere lately so I know I'm in good company. I'd like to be able to have an outfit appropriate for any occasion. It doesn't have to be perfect, but I feel like there are areas that I can definitely improve upon. Along with this, I've been trying to define my personal style. Doing so will help me down the road avoid wasted time and money making and buying garments that just don't suit me.

If I had to choose three words to describe what I like, they would be "Fitted", "Textured" and "Unique". To elaborate, I prefer fitted clothes, layers, bulky tops over fitted tanks and pants, mixing textures, unique patterns and color combos, high boots, and scarfs. Lots of scarfs! I also think I'm drawn to 80s-90s inspired fashions, as much as I am almost embarrassed to include the 80s. (Suffering through that neon-infused, hairspray saturated horror once was bad enough.) I can't help myself, I'm constantly drawn to some of those silhouettes. I would also like to branch out and incorporate some 50s-60s styles, but that might Phase II of this project.

I put together a tentative sewing and knitting plan for the next few months to address holes in my wardrobe and try to stay true to what I like to wear instead of the latest trendy pattern to come along. (It's very hard because there is so much awesomeness out there!) My plan isn't necessarily season-specific, and I'm sure I won't go sequentially through the list, but here it is:

Cardigan image from Phildar Tendances Printemps 05.

1. #27/Le Gilet 1 Bouton from Phildar Tendances Printemps 05. Sometimes I have to remind myself that I still knit. This has been a WIP since May '12 falls more in the "just finish the damn thing" category than trying to create something specifically with my personal style in mind. I think it will be a great basic wardrobe staple.  I'm using a nice cotton wool blend, beautifully modeled above by Ms Floozy.

Image badly photographed by me from Rowan 34.

2. "Reveal" from Rowan 34. This is so "ME".  It kind of hits that Matrixy/80s-ish/bulky top to wear over something skin tight style that I love! I became obsessed with obtaining this pattern a number of years ago, and then it sat on my shelf. This is the year! Choosing the correct yarn is going to be key in successful execution, and the suggested one (Rowan Cork) is discontinued.

Skirt images from Burda Style

3. Leopard or cheetah print pencil skirt.  It has been my goal for over a year now to make a leopard-print (or suitable big cat print) pencil skirt. I just can't the fabric! I've found tons of gauzy chiffon, but I need something heavy duty where it counts!

I just wanted an excuse to include another picture of Flooz. Just look at those pretty eyes!

4. Avocado Hoodie from Disparate Disciplines. This pattern is so amazing and I love all of the details! I probably mentioned this before, but I work from home. While I can get away with wearing t-shirts and sweats everyday, I feel better if I put some effort into dressing. I think this hoodie is just right for this: comfy, not fussy, and flattering. I have some double sided sweatshirt fleece from Vogue Fabrics in Evanston, IL just waiting to be cut out.

Fabric image from Britex Fabrics. Left: image from Burda Style. Right: image from Colette Patterns.

5. Skinny pants. This totally is my aesthetic - skinny pants as a base, a long tank top, and then baggier/shorter/textured top over. Add a scarf and boots and I'm a happy gal! Now, will they be modified Thurlows? Clovers? Something from Burda? I have some chocolate stretch cotton fabric in my stash that might work for these.

Image Source

6. Burda 7866. I absolutely love this top and have made two already (unblogged). These are two of my most frequently worn tops, and it only makes sense that I make a few more. I also think I can modify this into a dress.

Image from Sewaholic Patterns

7. Work Appropriate Top. I need a top for the infrequent times I need to professionally interact with the outside world. I'd like it also to be something other than a Renfrew, since that's what I always reach for first. I'm thinking maybe a Pendrell? I don't think I'm that crazy about this pattern, but so far I have a great track record with Sewaholic patterns. I have a feeling that if I give this one a chance, it could be magical. Or, I've also been wanting a peplum top after seeing all of the cute ones around the interwebs.

Image from Sewaholic Patterns

8. Cordova Jacket. I also need a work-appropriate jacket. I have high hopes for Cordova. I see this as a great piece to play with textured fabrics, or even incorporating some leather!

Awesome wool from my stash. Coat Images from Colette Patterns,

9. Lady Grey from Colette. I think my current silk Saltspring projecct has cured me of being afraid to cut into good fabric. It's not the end of the world if I screw up. I have some amazing wool stashed away for this coat. The only think holding me back now is being to lazy to muslin the pattern.This could be the ultimate statement coat.

(I don't have images for the last two items on my list.)

10. Maxi Dresses.  I'd like to sew at least two of them. I'm not sure of the pattern, or the fabric, but I guess it's good to have some mystery in life.  I'll probably use the Saltspring Dress pattern for at least one, but that's not set in stone.

11. Renfrews. Lots of them.  These are my go-to tops. There are so many possible variations for every season. I don't have specific fabric or version in mind, but I would like to add a few to my to-do list. Maybe a few sweaters? Or, I could try a crop top version? Or go to the other extreme and try to turn this into a sweater dress?

Lastly, here's a silk Saltspring update: I haven't given up! This is a labor of love and I'm determined to redo this! I'm slowly unpicking the seams and trying to determine the best way to re-cut the skirt to avoid any unfortunate pattern placement issues. My supplemental fabric just arrived, so I'll try to figure out next steps in the next few days.Wish me luck!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Pattern Placement Fail

I've been plugging away on my Thakoon silk Saltspring. Construction has been going very slow, but it's been so rewarding. I've been enjoying the process so much (except for a few swearing episodes hear and there). The fabrics were easier to sew than I anticipated and pressed great.

Well, last night was the first time I've been able to try on the almost finished dress. I only have a hem left. And... Epic. Pattern. Placement. Failure. 

So, I love the front:

And the back?  Guess where this design falls? Use your imagination because there's no way I'm going to model this. :-)

You might say "this is unfortunate". Or, the phrase baboon ass might come to mind. Either or, they're both accurate.

Even with this unfortunate turn of events, I will say that I'm so happy with my pattern matching. Really, one must laugh and look at the positives when one is presented with the reality of a design flaw of this magnitude. I don't know how I could have overlooked this.

I've been back and forth trying to convince myself that everything is okay, and asking my family to weigh in. Despite them saying it looks fine, I know it doesn't. I'm trying to convince myself otherwise, but in my heart I know what must be done. I'm going to redo the back of the skirt. It's going to be a major pain in the ass (no pun intended), but I need to not feel self conscious in something that I've invested so much time and energy in. This is supposed to be an epically awesome dress, damn it! 

I'm not sure if I'll have to completely unpick the entire back, waist and zipper (probably) or find a shortcut and only partially unpick, but I know it will be worth it. I just need to wait for the fabric to come in, and will probably console myself with some quick, easy projects in the meantime.

Has anyone else encountered "inappropriate" pattern placement on a finished or partially finished garment and if so, what did you do?

Sunday, September 8, 2013

I Need A Drink

Or seven.

That can only mean one thing - I started cutting out my Thakoon silk for my next Saltspring dress. Was I smart and got a stable, easy to handle silk?  Oh no. Did I mention that this is crepe de chine?

I absolutely love the fabric and nothing was going to keep me from buying it, but I did not think this thing through! I have no rotary cutter, no pattern weights, and I'm too damn lazy to trace out a full pattern piece to avoid cutting on a fold. It's just me, a relatively sharp pair of scissors and some brand new silk pins.  I was just lucky that the cats stayed away.

That's right, I like to live dangerously (or stupidly, you be the judge).

The slightly sheer nature of the fabric helped me out. I tried to align the pattern motifs to the gridlines on my cutting board. I was also good and only cut through single layers of fabric.  I would cut half of the pattern and then flip it and sometimes the fabric itself over to help align the pattern.  I don't think it turned out half bad.

But seriously, the only thing that kept me from hitting the bottle was the knowledge that there was a 100% certainty that I would mess this up under the influence. Even one sip, and there would be no hope. Sober, I had a 50-50 chance :)

Here's the front:

And the back:

My strategy was to to focus on choosing and centering design motifs and not worry about matching the pattern at the side seams. The pattern is so busy that I don't think it's going to stand out. I've also been looking at dresses online that use this fabric, and side seam pattern matching is not even attempted in a few styles.

Since I'm a sadist, I chose a nice slippery rayon as lining. Funny thing is that I'm really not all that worried about the actual sewing. I trust that my machine can handle it.  Cutting out the pattern pieces has always been my least favorite part, so it's no wonder that agonized over this bit.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Finished Floral Saltspring

Here it is, my completed first Saltspring dress. I love everything about this!

Floral Saltspring Dress

Technically this is my "wearable muslin", so that I can perfect the fit before cutting into my Thakoon silk

Floral Saltspring Dress

Pattern: Saltspring Dress from Sewaholic.

Fabric: The fabric is from an extra large rayon dress that I picked up for a couple of bucks at my local Village Discount Thrift store.  It's 100% rayon, and so soft! I was in a "I want Hawaiian inspired fabric" mood when scoping the place out that day, and this fit the bill perfectly.

I also used a light pink cotton batiste (not pictured) left over from other projects for the pockets and bodice lining.

Before and After

Size and Modifications:  I cut a 4 for the top and graded to an 8 at the hips. I normally also do a swayback adjustment, but chose not this time. I figured that blousing effect would negate the need to make this adjustment. Looking at the pictures, I'm not sure. I think the dress still looks great, and am not sure if the lack of adjustment is noticeable to anyone but me, but I still might make the swayback for my silk version.

Floral Saltspring Dress

I did not have enough fabric to cut the flared skirt and had to adjust it to a dirndl skirt. It's not absolutely ideal, but also probably not that noticeable and I have to work with what I have. Also, for the purposes of this "muslin", was more important for me to test out the fit on top.

I did not have enough dress fabric to cut the lining pieces, and used some leftover pink cotton batiste from my stash.

For the ties, the original dress had waist ties, which I repurposed as is for the back ties. I did cut and sew new front ones. For my next version, I might shorten them a bit, or go with one of the many strap variations I've seen floating around the blogosphere.

Final Verdict: Love, Love, LOVE this! Still going back and forth over potential adjustments, but nothing that makes me like my first version any less.

The location for these photos was Gallery Park in Glenview, IL.  I call it Cormorant Park.  Here's why:

Double-crested Cormorants. Love them! (I'm kind of a bird nerd.)

Okay, deep breaths.. it's time to cut into my silk now.  Wish me luck!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Saltspring vs. McCalls M6744

I came across the Saltspring pattern from Sewaholic right after starting my McCalls M6744, and it was love at first sight! The pattern was similar to the McCalls pattern I had already fallen in love with, but so much more. I'd call it the fancier, big sister to 6744 (view A). I love top of Saltspring - the outer fabric is longer and sewn over a shorter lining, causing magical blousing without having to fuss with a belt. The skirt is also flared, instead of the more dirndl skirt style of 6744.

Both View A's are similar, but designed for different fabrics. McCalls calls for a stretch knit while Saltspring is for lightweight, wovens.

I also found the PERFECT fabric for my Saltspring. Or more accurately, I found the perfect pattern for the beautiful Thakoon silk paisley print that I have been lusting over for months online at Mood! There are not enough exclamation marks in the world to describe how much I loved and wanted this fabric. This new sewing pattern combined with me needing a serious dose of retail therapy after my move from hell sealed the deal.

The color is a bit off and I didn't take time to straighten out the pattern, but you still get the idea of how awesome this is!

But, there was no way I was going to use up my $50 silk on an untried pattern.  I recently purchased a very large rayon dress from my local thrift store that will serve as the basis for my wearable muslin. I was in a "must have a Hawaiian print fabric" phase, and I got lucky!

My first time sewing 100% Rayon.  It's so soft! I'm in love.

I'll have to make some modifications because I won't have enough fabric to make the flared skirt, but my main concern is testing out the fit of the top. Let's see how this goes! 

Monday, September 2, 2013

Woo Hoo...I'm Back!

I'm back!  Wow, it's been a while. So much craziness has happened since my last post!  I've endured the move from hell, had a virus knock me out of commission for a few weeks and dealt with pet drama.  I also haven't been able to reach my sewing machine since the move until recently! So many boxes.

Someone's getting settled in at our new diggs. It's temporary, but don't tell her that.

While I haven't been sewing for over a month, I've been lurking on everyone's blog and living vicariously through the sewing projects of others. Thank you all! If I can't sew, at least I can admire those who can.

I've also been acquiring fabric. My hording abilities haven't been hurt by any of the above! It's quite therapeutic really, and I've picked up some awesome stuff that I can't wait to show everyone!

Last week I finally felt well enough, and was finally able to clear up enough space to sew again! It felt so "right"!

My project was McCalls M6744.  Full disclosure: I was heavily inspired/blatantly stole this idea from Gail's blog.  I love her version, and came across it when I was looking for a perfect summer dress.  I wanted something simple, lightweight and fuss free.  Something that I could make 10 of and just throw on in the summer.

McCalls M6744

Pattern: McCalls M6744, View A.

Size and Modifications: I cut a Small at the top and graded to a Medium at the waist.  The only other mod was to shorten the strap. I didn't realize it needed to be shorter until I had finished the neck and armholes. No matter, I folded the strap older and top stitched. It's not perfect, but I'm the only one who will notice. I'll need to shorten it further for my next version.

Fabric: Jersey from my favorite jersey source - the Vogue Fabrics remnant pile!

McCalls M6744 Dress

Final Verdict: I really like this. The elastic waist is actually my favorite detail. So simple, but I just think the casing looks great!  I made a minor error on the casing. When I finally figure out the instructions, I was half way through my own method. It's not bad, just a bit different.

Funny thing, shortly after I started this (I actually started before the move), I discovered Sewaholic's Saltspring dress.  Both have the shape I wanted (blousy top and flowing, loose skirt). Saltspring is next up in my queue, so we'll see what happens.