Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Blue striped linen swing-y shirt dress

I just can't get enough of shirt dresses this fall. They are all variations based on the Kalle Shirt Dress pattern. 

The inspiration for this one was the Ace and Jig.

I would LOOOVE to get some gorgeous hand-loomed textiles like the ones Ace and Jig are famous for... but the best I could come up with was this lovely stripe from Fabrics-store.com. It is a soft, smooth yarn-dye linen, and the stripes are actually blue and black but the overall effect is a wide stripe. 

One of the things I love about the inspiration dress is how full and swing-y it is. I started with the Kalle shirt dress pattern, but I made quite a few changes. 

I added about 3 inches to each of the fronts to create pleats, and added an extra inch or so to the pleats in the back. I also added an inch or two to the back band, and extra to the side panels. I extended the back yoke 1.5 inches so that it would wrap around to the front, and removed a corresponding 1.5 inches from the front panels. 

I decided to stick with the inspiration and use a non-kimono sleeve, so I pulled out my Liesl Classic Shirt and borrowed the armhole and sleeve. I took out all of the taper to the sleeve and made it 3/4 length, cut on the cross grain so that the stripe would be horizontal. I finished it with a wide hem. 

To made the side panels made the front 3 inches narrower, and did the same to the back. I used those 6 inches to make the side panels, adding seam allowances and cutting on the cross grain. I made side seam pockets in the seam between the front panel and the side panel. 

I made the Kalle hidden button placket. The inspiration has a popover placket, but I like the versatility of the full placket... maybe I'll wear it as a duster jacket sometimes. 

The length of the dress was determined by the amount of fabric I had... with my 3 yards, this is the maximum length that I could manage. I went with a totally straight hem, finished with bias tape. The inspiration dress is longer, but I think this length will get more wear in my wardrobe.  

The inside is completely finished with french seams. 

The "proper" way to make all of these changes to the pattern would be to trace them out and make new pattern pieces. However, lately I've taken to making changes right on the fabric while cutting, folding the pattern pieces or measuring and marking on the fabric with tailors' chalk. It is quicker and allows me to be spontaneous. 

Of course sometimes I make mistakes, but most mistakes can be fixed with an extra seam or two. For example, I totally forgot I wanted to add a pleat to the front of the dress when I was cutting the front panels. So I cut the front panels vertically where I wanted the pleat to be, and added in a 3 inch strip of fabric. I french seamed both sides of the added strips. You can hardly tell the pleats are seamed in, stripes are so forgiving. 

With all this ease, I definitely needed a belt. I cut 3 inch wide bias strips from my scraps and seamed them together until I had enough for a belt. I folded the long bias strip the long way, wrong sides together, sewed a narrow seam, then turned the tube. I finished the ends by tucking them in and sewing, then tied a little knot just for fun. 

It is swishy and fun to wear! I think it will end up in high rotation for as long as my shirt-dress obsession continues. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

What Workout Dreams are Made Of, or the Jalie Anne-Marie 3463

I decided this summer that the workout top situation was becoming sort of desperate. My stash of pre-sewing workout wear had been quite large, but it's been over 10 years since I stopped buying clothes, and even the best of workout wear wears out.

I primarily run and bike, so the natural choice seemed to be the Fehr Trade XYT which is marketed as a running and biking style top. I gave this a try about three years ago. I blogged it, and it's funny that I labeled that Fehr Trade XYT top a success... because making it was such a traumatic experience that I did not attempt any workout tops for another 3 years.

The fit was all wrong, and trying to get a binding that looked like my favorite RTW self-fabric bound tops was unpleasantly challenging with only a standard sewing machine. I think fold-over elastic is suggested, but I don't like the look or feel of FOE. I did end up making it work with a ton of unpicking and fussing, but the resulting top has turned out to be rather annoying to wear... the built in bra is soooo tight, even after adjusting to add additional room, that it is a struggle to get in and out of, so it sits sadly in the back of my drawer.

When I went looking for a new workout top to try, I ended up considering the Jalie Anne-Marie. It wasn't immediately apparent that this would be a good style for me, as it appears at first glance to be primarily a tennis top/skirt. But that third view, without the cutesy skirt elements, looked like it had possibilities. There were also some very promising reviews, so I decided to give it a try.

I rashly jumped in with no muslin, grading between sizes as indicated by my measurements. Whatever the pattern, I pretty much always need to go up a size or two for my hips, and take out any waist shaping, and I did that here. I also added a few inches in length, since I truly detest workout tops that don't have plentiful coverage in the midriff area. I think I also joined the two side panel pieces... I didn't need that extra bit of color blocking, and one less seam to sew.

The fit is PERFECT. Just the right amount of ease without being baggy. The neckline is modest but still attractive. The built in sports bra is also just right. Just the right amount of support for cycling and gym workouts, without being a struggle to get off afterward. For the first couple of times I ran in these tops, I wore a sports bra underneath, but then one time I forgot and I didn't miss it at all. So for me, it's also fine support for running.

The best part is the clever finishing techniques. Rather than binding, this top uses elastic sewn to the inside seam allowance. The length of the elastic is indicated by a chart, like Jalie bathing suit patterns. Brilliant! Just the right amount of support, and no fussing with messy bindings. Also, it's super smooth, so no worry about chafing. In typical Jalie style, the instructions are terse but complete and well thought out.

The built in bra is finished by wrapping the fabric around regular elastic, so no special notions needed. Although I did have plush backed 1-inch elastic, so I used that in the botanical bra top.

The blue color-blocked top uses the supposed Lululemon fabric that Peak Fabric sells. It is lovely stuff, I'm still working through a huge order I placed years ago. The botanical print is from Zenith and Quasar. The bra top in the blue one is made with self-fabric, and the bra top and lining on the botanical top is white mesh. The one lined with mesh is noticeably lighter, I tend to wear that on super hot days.

And I can't tell you how much I love that pocket. Simple to sew, and fits the design beautifully. Huge enough to stuff your windbreaker into! I might devise a second pocket though... I typically take my phone and my keys, and it is nice to have two pockets so they don't jingle against each other.

The leggings are the Helen's Closet Avery Leggings. They aren't the sportiest, but the fit is so good on my body. Someday soon I might hack them to have sporty style lines or pockets. The fabric is Pinecrest Supplex either from Zenith and Quasar (listed there as "heavyweight supplex") or Fabric.com.

These two tops are in constant rotation ever since I made them this summer. I really need to make a couple more!

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Kaufman Brooklyn Plaid Flannel Kalle Shirt Dress

As soon as the weather turned chilly here, all I could think about was the cozy piece of Kaufman flannel that I knew was nestled in my stash pile. The project I had already cut out got pushed back onto the wait pile as that flannel performed a leap to the front of my sewing queue.

Out came the Kalle Dress from Closet Case Patterns and away we went!

This is an almost true to pattern Kalle. Well.. just a few mods! A small rounded back/forward shoulder adjustment, extra ease on the side seams, extra 1 inch added to the pleat in the back, long sleeve expansion pack. Removed the exaggerated shirt shaping from the hem in favor of an even front hem and a very slight shirt-tail in the back. Side seam pockets. French seams throughout. 

Can you believe I've never sewn a plaid for myself? I made a pair of plaid pj pants for my husband, but that's the extent of my plaid sewing. I don't really see myself as a plaid-type of person... but that may be changing, because I love the way this plaid looks on me.

I did not manage to take many detail shots, but I did play a bit with plaid on the bias. The front facing of the button side is on the bias, as well as the back yoke, and that little piece on the inside of the tower placket.

I spent a ton of time getting the front properly lined up while cutting, but totally forgot to match the horizontal lines of the side seams. Fortunately I was able to finagle this into submission by shifting the side seams up .25 inches and just trimming a bit off at the sleeve. Disaster diverted!

I had four yards of Kaufman Brooklyn Plaid Flannel that I had bought at the end of year sale at Imagine Gnats last year. It's only 43 inches wide, so it was very tight, but I made it work. I ended up piecing together the back yoke and the bias front facing, and I made a pocket facing so that I could use some other flannel scraps for the majority of the pocket. The flannel scraps I used for the pockets are an incredibly soft rayon flannel, so the pockets are extra cozy! The inner yoke is also scrap flannel, and the bias tape for the hem was sewn together from about 8 different pieces.

When I was sewing this, my husband referred to it as "that thing you are making with pajama fabric." Which points out one of the hesitations I had about sewing up a Kalle in this fabric... would it just look like I was going out in my nightshirt? 

I decided a leather belt would help dress it up. This is not the first time the idea of a belt has occurred to me, so I just happened to have the perfect piece of 3/4 inch belt-length leather in my stash, purchased a couple years ago from Etsy. (OMG, they still have a listing for it...) I sewed one end into a loop. I probably could have managed this on my usual sewing machine by hand cranking a leather needle, but it just so happens that I have access to an industrial machine at work that sewed through this leather like butter. Well that was after I spent 30 minutes threading it... I obviously need some practice at that.

Hmmm... the photo above is less than perfect, it seems I've twisted the belt. But you get the idea. The sueded back actually is rather nice for helping the belt stay in place.

And.... do you see that missing button? I realized that I had forgotten it when I was getting dressed in the morning, and had to do a quick safety pin closure! There are 18 buttons on this dress, that was a bit of a chore. I put the buttons on by machine, but I hand tie the ends of the threads to make a little shank on each one. I've gotten pretty quick at that, it took me 20 minutes to do all 17 buttons (not including the missing one!)

I think this is going to be a favorite on chilly mornings! I wore it in 60 degree weather today and I was sweating, so I know it will be cozy. 

I am a little worried that it will stick like glue to my leggings. Only time will tell I suppose. I have yet to buy or make a slip that actually worked for me-- I almost always line dresses if modesty or drape requires. So if one is needed that will be a new challenge, any suggestions? 

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Striped Jumpsuit Inspired by Ace and Jig

So this make I am totally in love with. 

Lately I've been admiring the designer team Ace and Jig, and their gorgeous textiles and easy styles. In particular, this jumpsuit got stuck in my head:

Then, Emmaonesock got in a lovely yarn dye, linen blend stripe. The yarns it is woven from vary slightly in weight, giving it a subtle texture. 

The pattern I used was a mash-up of the Kalle shirt (top) and the Amy Jumpsuit, both by Closet Case Patterns. I made a wide partial placket, cut on the cross-grain to the shoulder, then hugging the neck in the back. I added sleeves from the Kalle shirt long sleeve pattern. 

It was very tight fitting my pattern on my 3 yards. Then I had a total screw up-- I had cut the big pieces on the table at work, then took the scraps home to cut the small pieces on the weekend, and I cut up one of my front pieces thinking that it was a scrap! 

When I realized what I had done, I had to take a long step away to vent my frustration, then I got down to the business of piecing together a new front piece from my VERY meagre scraps. There are about 4 horizontal seams in one of the front pieces. Let's just call this a quirky design element. Interestingly, the stripes (which I very deliberately matched!) actually do a good job of camouflaging the mistake. 

The belt is also pieced from about 8 scraps, and the back of the belt and the facings are done with leftover burgundy linen. I also hemmed both the legs and arms with facings, also due to a lack of fabric, but actually I sort of love the smooth finish and slight structure of a hem done with a facing. 

Without a belt, it looks sort of pajama-y, so it is likely I'll mostly wear it with the belt. I sort of love how the long, wide belt lands just at the hemline, which was a total accident. 

I thought I wanted it longer, but this length is perfect with boots! 

I have a very strong desire to buy more lovely, striped yarn dye fabrics that might or might not be hand-woven. Where oh where should I look?

No More Fussing: Zadie Jumpsuit in Burgundy Linen

I really, really want to love the Zadie by Paper Theory as much as the rest of the sewing blogosphere. 

I spent far more time on this than you can probably even believe. I made a muslin, and shortened the bodice by an inch or two. I drafted a facing, since I'm pretty sure bias tape on this wrinkle prone linen would be begging for a pressing every time I washed it, and that is a route to the very back of my closet. 

Then I made it up, wore it a couple of times, but the linen relaxed after a few hours of wear and the crotch was hanging halfway down my thighs and the backside was voluminously baggy. So I chopped off another 3 inches at the waist seam, which involved rather a lot of fussiness putting the facing and ties back together again. I think the back view is significantly improved, and it is still plenty loose in the crotch.

Sadly, I still don't really love it. I'm not sure exactly why. I chose burgundy because it I was hoping it would NOT look like a pair of scrubs, but I still sort of feel like it looks like a pair of scrubs. I find the waist seam has a tendency to wiggle out of alignment with the skinny ties, with really bugs me, and I spend the whole day fussing realigning the ties. I guess belt loops would help, but I feel like I'd need about 10 of them all the way around to make a proper guide for the belt. I also end up fussing quite a bit with the belt, since if it get too loose there is the danger of exposure, and it always seems to be either too tight or too loose.

There is nothing really wrong with it. It is plenty comfortable. Coverage is actually quite acceptable for a wrap. It doesn't even look half bad in these pics.

I keep trying to think of ways to alter it that would make me love it more, but I'm not sure it's worthwhile in this case. What do you do when you make something you just don't love?

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Magenta Cielo Dress: A Pattern Review

I made it in magenta-colored linen. I'm sort of obsessed with this fabric right now! I also made a shirt in this same magenta linen, and a dress for Lily, and I'm not done yet I think...

Random fact: "cielo" is sky in rome, which is the opposite on the color wheel from magenta.

Okay, back to sewing. The pattern was so FUN to make. Very quick and clever construction. The pockets are part of this weird folded pattern piece that makes up the lower front of the dress, and the back has a yoke-like feature on the shoulders. I've seen some cool color-blocked versions, it definitely is calling out for that kind of treatment. I also love it in solids, obviously.

Closet Case Patterns definitely nailed chic Italian style in this dress, I could totally see an elegant Italian woman in Rome wearing this for a stroll down cobblestone streets, probably with a gorgeous tailored coat thrown over her shoulder...

However, I was skeptical that it would look good on me. I'm not a straight and narrow body type in my post-baby days, so I would usually avoid a style like this. However, it just looks so elegant on the Closet Case models and the instagram feed, so I decided I would give it a try. I sewed it up to measurements... I'm a little foggy on what I chose, but most likely a 16 bust graded to an 18 waist/hip. No muslin. Didn't even try it on until I had it all done and needed to nail down a hem length.

And... I HATED it.

It fit... just fine. I could sit (some people have mentioned they didn't have enough ease in the hips, and I didn't have this problem). However, I felt that my bum was pulling the dress back and my belly was pushing it forward. If this was a knit, it would have just been curve-accentuating, but in a woven, it was just weird to wear and unflattering.

I felt like a clunky uncultured American trying to fit into an elegant Italian woman's clothes. Actually that's a pretty accurate description of how I feel when I'm in Rome. I love Rome dearly, but I'm clearly not a native!

However, I don't want my sewing to be quite that truthful. No I was not brave enough to take any pictures, I just threw it in a heap on the floor and went to bed.

The next day I woke up with a crazy plan. I had lots of fabric, so I cut out an ENORMOUS pleat-- 18 inches wide, not including the seam allowances, long enough to go from shoulder blades to hem. I did an inverted pleat, which ended up being 6 inches wide. I then inset that baby into the center back of the dress, sort of the way the inset is done on the Charlie Caftan. I interfaced the top of the opening to help support the weight of the pleat.

Now, I love my dress! 

The linen has weight and moves in a languidly swishy way, and it feels very me.

It's also super cute with my Jasika Blazer!

I'm not sure if I would make it again quite in this way, the giant pleat is too much of a statement to have more than one in my wardrobe. Next time I might just add some additional ease into the side seams, and/or build a smaller pleat into the back of the dress. The simple design would be great for showcasing a lovely fabric. It is a quick sew, so I could see just making one up on a whim on an afternoon.

While I think the pockets are super cute in this fabric, I might also choose not to make them if I was sewing this in a less structured fabric. Fortunately, there's a view for that (view D). 

I think the Pietra pants may have to be up next in my sewing queue...!

Jasika Blazer by Closet Case Patterns in Herringbone Linen: A Pattern Review

I'm so happy to share my finished...

... Jasika Blazer!

When Closet Case Patterns released their blazer this winter, I'm couldn't get my copy fast enough! I had the pattern and all the notions in tidily in hand before the sew along started... and then I realized there was no way I was going to be able to immerse myself in a jacket sewing experience at that time of the year. Far too many things going on between family and my artistic/academic career. All good, but... I was sort of disappointed to fall off and then have to sit aside and watch longingly.

However, at the end of this summer, I decided that it was time to finally realize my blazer dreams of glory! The anxiety of the new academic year always has me wanting just a few fantastic new wardrobe items.

I've been wanting a linen blazer for years now. Well, at least since I became aware that linen and blazers were a thing. I have never found one in the store even worth considering purchasing within my meagre wardrobe budget. Even if I found one, it would have been very unlikely to fit since blazers almost never fit comfortably around my quite significant armpits and biceps, and in order to get a comfortable fit in the arms I have to size up until the shoulders look ridiculous. I got into blazer sewing early in my sewing career largely because my arms are such a fitting problem in RTW.

Over the 8 years or so that I've been sewing intensively I've made a number of blazers and coats using both traditional and "fast" tailoring methods. I'm entirely self-taught, from books and online resources. Almost all of these makes have been patterns from Simplicity, Burda and Vogue. In every one, fitting has been a total nightmare-- I've done multiple muslins and re-drafted parts of the patterns to get them to fit the way I want them to. Worse, the directions in these patterns are, as I've said before, worse than useless. There's always a number of points where the sewist is left in the dark, problem-solving some sewing quandary with a mix of ingenuity and internet searching. I always appreciate a good challenge!

It is probably no surprise that sewing the Jasika blazer was nothing like these past experiences. 

First of all, the pattern itself is drafted to fit the dimensions of a real female body. At least, one like mine! My first muslin, based on my dimensions, was a 16 bust graded to an 18 waist/hip. The overall fit was quite close to being correct. However... it wasn't quite perfect...!

The biggest problem was that I was quite far from being able to button it (3 inches) which is pretty much entirely due to the fact that I now carry extra weight in front. Thank you babies! Everything else was pretty close... the darts were angled correctly and ended in the right place and produced an acceptable amount of volume for my chest. I didn't want to just add to the side seams, since this would have meant messing with the bust and pockets. I ended up doing a "full tummy" adjustment. My one tiny disappointment was that this issue was not addressed in the "fitting ebook." Certainly I'm not the only woman out there with a tummy? Anyhow, the internet provided a solution. For some reason I only found it in reference to men's suits and shirts, for example, in Seamwork's guide of "common pattern adjustments for men." The illustrations below show what I ended up doing. I don't know if this was the right or wrong thing to do, but it seemed to work because I could now button my jacket, and the bust darts still looked right. 

I also was concerned with the tightness of the armhole. I tried a full-bicep adjustment which is often necessary for me, but this in this pattern it added volume that didn't seem to be necessary. I also tried scooping out the bottom of the armhole by .5 inches, and this didn't seem to help and it made mobility worse. I ended up adding .25 inches to the back side seam, starting below the armpit and ending near the hip, to take a bit of tightness out of the back, and this also seemed to help shoulder mobility. So I decided that maybe it would be okay? Spoiler alert-- it was not okay, and I ended up altering late in the process, which sucked!

The fabric I decided to use was a herringbone linen that I've had in my stash for about 6 years from Marcy Tilton's online store, just waiting for the right blazer to come along! It is a gorgeous weave with sky blue threads in one direction and beige in the other, giving the surface an almost silver-y look. Back when I had been considering starting a Jasika with the sew-along in the winter I had selected a tweedy wool that was less "precious" to me than this linen, but in the moment I decided to just go for it. This linen is *mostly* opaque, but perhaps just a bit of light comes through if you hold it up to the sun... so I was left scrambling to switch out my dark interfacings and notions for lighter ones, both color and weight. Fortunately I had the perfect light-weight, light colored weft interfacing in my stash. I could not find my light colored knit interfacing, so I decided to just skip it! I hate not doing anything Heather suggests, but I thought I might get away with this.

I love to immerse myself in projects... so I sewed this mostly over the course of a single week, with cutting done on the big tables at work and most of the sewing crammed into a single weekend. I might have ignored such mundane tasks as cleaning my house and laundry!

Mostly, things went very smoothly. The thought put into the pattern, direction booklet, and online course was incredible, and all of this was clearly visible in how cleanly and smoothly things came together. I loved how I could watch a video, then just follow the steps in the instruction book and the two would match up, step for step. I did totally screw up the first double welt pocket... in the future I'll measure rather than rely on the pattern pieces since the welts have to be exactly .5 inches, so that when you sew them down the middle, you end up with two .25 inch welts taking up the opening. I think mine were a touch too wide, throwing off the entire pocket. I unpicked and the second try came out acceptably.

The collar and collar stand came together so incredibly beautifully. The shape of the collar stand is genius. The very precise sewing instructions made all the seam allowances press perfectly. This all added up to the most gorgeous collar I've ever sewn, with almost zero frustration. 

I also had another "duh" moment as I was attaching my front facing to the jacket front. I couldn't figure out why things weren't matching up... then I realized I had forgotten to make the full-tummy adjustment that I had made on the front jacket piece on the front facing (palm slap to forehead!). Rather than unpick my whole collar, I ended up adding a wedge of fabric to my front facing. Let's just call this an impromptu design line! 

Another area where this pattern really stands out from the rest is in its very precise and thoughtful instructions on interfacing and support. This is such a vague area on other blazer and jacket patterns I've sewn, with decisions on this very important area left up to a sewist who was probably hoping for a bit of guidance. I loved that there was a very clear interfacing guide in the instructions and significant time devoted to the subject in the online course. 

I also really appreciated having Heather demonstrate proper pressing techniques. Can you believe that I've never really known the correct usage of the seam roll that I've owned for years? 

The back vent was another area that was just so thoughtfully worked out, and it came together beautifully. In every other jacket I've made, the back vent has been a stumbling point for me, I always struggle to get it to lie correctly, and connecting the lining is generally problematic. This vent was so well thought out and explained that it went as smooth as butter. 

I LOVE that patterns were included for shaped sleeve heads and shoulder pads. I made my shoulder pads out of flannel and lambswool, and I made the sleeve heads out of a double layer of flannel. The shaped sleeve head is such an elegant solution, I can't believe I've never seen one before. 

I added the lining and tried it on... and the armholes were even tighter than they were on my muslin. It was just a touch too tight through the armhole, sleeve, and back. It occurred to me that I'd never be able to get it on comfortably over a long sleeve shirt. So I went back in and took out the back side seam and the back arm seam 3/8inch. Unfortunately, doing this after the armhole was already graded meant I had to add little wedges of fabric to the seam allowances. Totally time consuming and annoying. But in the end, it did the trick. When I put it all back together again the fit was perfect, with room to layer a long sleeve shirt. 

I also changed up my sleeve lining. My lining fabric is a gorgeous rust-orange linen, but this clearly wasn't working in the sleeves-- it was causing too much bulk and the friction between the two linens was causing the sleeve to rumple in an unflattering way. I solved this by re-cutting the sleeve lining in rayon bemberg, and making a cuff-facing out of the rust linen so that the linen would show when I rolled the sleeves. 

After these changes, the finishing touches came together quickly. I made a corded buttonhole for the first time, and the final press did wonders for wrinkle-prone linen. 

In looking back over the experience, I really enjoyed making this blazer... the incredible attention to detail in the creation of the pattern, instructions and course made it a very rewarding process to sew. It was also gratifying to see that many of the self-taught techniques that I use are right on track, and I learned things that helped to fill in gaps in my knowledge. I wish this pattern and course had been available years ago, it would have saved me so much frustration and trial and error. 

Having a new blazer has me waiting impatiently for fall to set in! 

My new Jasika is worn in these photos with my white Ginger Jeans, a short sleeved Liesl and Co Classic Shirt, and my Hasbeen sandals.