Tuesday, November 6, 2018

The Princess and the Pilot-- Girl Inspired Princess Dress Pattern, Self-drafted wings pattern

So we finally had a sunny afternoon to get some good pics of this year's Halloween costumes!

It is probably no surprise that my little princess wanted to be a princess. Actually, she wanted to be a queen... probably inspired by the Olivia book about how everyone wants to be a princess, and Olivia wants to be herself and not like all the rest of the princesses, so in the end she decides she'll just be a queen.

Apparently, queens need to be dressed in pink, glittery gowns that go down to your toes. Those were my instructions. 

I was feeling a bit pressed and wanted a pattern that would just tell me what to do without any fuss. The Big 4 pattern companies are full of princess-y dresses, but my experience with their sizing for children's patterns has been dismal and the thought of toile-ing and altering them made my head hurt. 

I decided to take a risk on an independent designer, and I bought the Girl Inspired Princess Dress pattern. I couldn't find a single review, so I was just praying that the pattern was a good one. The photos were lovely, and the style of the dress is the perfect fairy-tale princess dress with just enough decoration to be sweet and classy.  The lifted overskirt that shows the tulle underneath is just adorable!

I had a moment of panic when I downloaded the pattern and the grading looked a bit-- let's just say-- unconventional. However... when I sewed up the lining in my daughter's size by measurements (8), the fit was perfect. I did change the shape of the bodice so that the waist didn't curve inward... my daughter has a nice little round body that does better with a more barrel shaped bodice. And I did increase the side seam allowances (the pattern has 3/8 inch seam allowances, which seemed skimpy to me). 

The directions were also excellent, and they lead you through the process of making a fully lined dress with all seams enclosed and no hand sewing. Yay! 

For the skirt, the pattern just gives the dimensions of the rectangles, in many cases using the entire width of the fabric and gathering to fit. Unfortunately my ruffle attachment would not work with the tulle! But it turned out to be not so bad just gathering the traditional way with two rows of basting. 

The back is closed with buttons, which is a lovely detail. 

I purchased the crown and the earrings on Amazon. I almost bought another of those plastic birthday crowns, but at the last minute I thought perhaps I would see if I could find something a bit nicer. The crown is actually quite sturdy, it feels like it is made of metal and the fake gems are very glittery. 

The queen was head over heels over the earrings. They are a bit flimsy, and the white rubber pads are always falling out, but with a bit of care they seem to work very well for her, and she is able to wear them for hours without pain (or so she claims). 

The queen declared that she needed special shoes and a wand. The shoes were purchased at Target, and we made the wand together from fabric scraps and ribbon and a piece of a dowel.

Leo is very into planes right now, so I had the idea of making a plane or some wings. Cardboard would of course be classic, but seemed like it would be cumbersome, so I thought that perhaps I'd make some in fabric. 

I put the idea into google and lo and behold, these wings by Hanna Anderson popped up. They were almost exactly what I had in mind, and I almost bought them on the spot, until I took a closer look and realized they were actually sort of plastic-y and not nearly as cool as the idea in my head. For instance, what little wimpy jets those wings have!

So I sat down and came up with my own pattern. I used a super-shiny knit fabric from Joannes, and a bit of stretchy orange knit for detailing and the straps. Inside of the wings I used 1/2 inch foam. The jets are two sizes of seltzer bottles (since we don't drink soda!) stuffed with colored cellophane and held on with stretchy straps.

The wings strap on with backpack style straps with quick release buckles, and there are elastic straps for his hands or wrists to go in. 

It is a great costume for a 3-year old with lots of energy-- he was just flying from house to house when we were trick-or-treating. 

The hat and goggles were from Amazon, cheap but effective.

Another successful Halloween! The kids love their costumes, so I expect they'll be favorites for dress-up for the rest of the year. 

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Where's the Hoedown: Closet Case Jenny Overalls in Black Linen

When Closet Case Patterns release the Jenny Overalls, I bought it immediately-- for the trousers, not the overalls. I figured that I had been wanted to try the high waisted pant trend, and Closet Case's version was likely to be a good fit for my body.

I had absolutely no intention of ever making the overalls. I have never owned a pair of overalls. I have never even considered owning overalls. Overalls are for painters and kids.

Then Heather posted her overalls, and all of her lovely testers started showing off theirs, and suddenly overalls are IT. I was especially moved by A Colorful Canvas's musings-- she had similar concerns about the juvenile nature of overalls.

I thought a bit about making a removable bib, but actually, I think I'd fit the pants differently as pants than as overalls. Without the bib, there is a need for the pants to fit tighter to stay up on their own (at least on my body shape), but with the bib and straps, the fit can be a touch more relaxed.

I made a straight size 16. Or I think I did... it's possible I graded down for the hips. Looking back at the size chart, should have graded down for the bib, perhaps two sizes, but alas that didn't occur to me. It's fine, but in retrospect I think it is probably higher and wider on me than it should be. 

I did make a muslin before cutting my fabric. The fit was super! I was expecting to have to fix gaping in the back and the crotch curve, like I do on most pants, but there was nothing that needed changing that I could see. However, seeing the overalls on my body in thrift store not-quite-white mystery poly fabric made me second guess the entire project, and I spent a couple days talking myself back into cutting my real fabric. 

My fabric is my favorite 7.1 oz linen from Fabrics-store.com. I love this weight for pants, it holds up reasonably well and is soft to wear.

I used Heather's tutorial for the button sides. I tried to extend the sides to accommodate the buttonholes as suggested, but it turns out you'd really have to extend not only the sides, but also all of the pocket pieces, and I didn't properly anticipate that. So the buttonholes extend past the facings, but as Heather says in her tutorial, that isn't really a big deal since the pocket fabric provides plenty of support for the buttonholes.

I used cheap jeans buttons that I bought on Amazon. I generally try to avoid cheap hardware, but I had a hard time finding the shiny silver finish in a set of buttons that hit the price/quality mark for me. I was super careful installing the buttons since the soft metal deformed easily and I only had the exact number I needed! I was worried they'd just come off, but so far so good.

I also added belt loops. Since my weight fluctuates and I was making these a bit on the loose side, I thought it might be a good idea to have the option to wear a belt. Also, on this kind of garment I think the belt loops are a nice detail.

And the verdict is... I LOVE these. I want to live in them. The fit is surprisingly flattering and comfortable. I also love playing with pairing them with the more fitted and feminine tops that I haven't worn for years, as well as my favorite collared shirts. I really want to try them with an off the shoulder tee and a peasant blouse-- of course I own neither of these items, so I'd have to sew them!

I haven't taken them off since I finished them! I probably need another pair. I haven't been much into patterns lately, but something about these makes me want them in a large floral print. Alternatively, stripes, or perhaps indigo linen.

Further renditions will have to wait though... halloween sewing is about to invade my sewing space!

So, what do you think about the appropriateness of overalls at work? My husband's response when I wore these for the first time was, "Where's the hoedown?" I was hoping linen with shiny hardware would elevate them from weekend wear. Of course, a nice blazer would solve the issue, but also sort of hides them. What do you think, are those of us that want to wear overalls to work delusional?

Monday, September 24, 2018

Wiksten Kimono in doublecloth linen

I am in love with the Wiksten Kimono pattern. I can't stop dreaming them up. 

This one is in an incredible doublecloth linen from Fabrics-store.com. I've never even heard of a double cloth linen, but when I saw this one I knew it would be perfect for another kimono jacket. 

In this one, I sewed the Medium instead of the Small, thinking that it would be more of a layer to be worn over shirts, possibly even a light sweater. 

I was loving the feel of the collar on my last one, so I stuck with a weft interfacing rather than the medium weight interfacing that would be the rational choice. Since the layers were puffing out a bit, I decided to "quilt" them together with lines of parallel stitching. One of the Wiksten samples looks like it was done this way. 

ON this version I drafted yet another pocket. I decided I wanted a curved pocket that went from the collar to the sideseam. The top of the curve is finished with a facing, the bottom is serged, turned under, and stitched down. 

For the sleeve and bottom hems, I separated the layers of the doublecloth, turned each side in one inch, then topstitched the edge, creating a hem that looks the same on both sides. I could have used a similar technique for other seams, but I decided just to faux flat fell them, since this also looks lovely on both sides. 

And thus, it is reversible.

Wearing it here, I have the sleeve cuffs turned up for contrast. Both sides of the collar are the darker side of the fabric.

Now that the mornings are cooler, I reach for this all the time. It is just so soft and cozy. 

I have more kimonos planned. I think I need one in an Italian wool that I've been hoarding. Can one have too many kimono jackets? Am I going to tire of this silhouette and wonder how I ended up with so many kimono jackets?

In other concerns, does the untucked shirt tail look silly? My husband criticized me for the front tuck, but then said he had noticed that other women were wearing their shirts that way too. Traditional dressing would say your jacket should cover your shirt, but I break this rule all the time, do you?

Striped Linen Dress: Liesl and Co + Closet Case Kalle Mashup

This is one of those projects which took far longer than I expected. It took the first taste of the fall chill to compel me to finish it, and I'm so glad I did. 

Actually, in the photos, I feel like it doesn't look like much. I suppose I could have freshened up the ironing, but this level of rumple is probably much more representative of the look. This linen doesn't hold a press like most linens I have worked with, it reverts to its textural state almost immediately. However, it feels wonderful on, the fabric is substantial and the fit is very easy. Perhaps most importantly, the details subtle details in the striping make me happy. 

For this particular make, I had a very specific idea in mind. While browsing for inspiration I came across this dress by Poetry Fashion. I just loved the use of stripes with the faux princess seams and yoke, in a loose fitting shirt dress. 

It is the most lovely shade of blue, but sadly I could not find any striped linen in just this shade. I did however find a lovely black-brown mini-stripe linen at Fabrics-store, so I went with that. Black is really my color anyway!

For a pattern, I merged my two favorite shirt patterns-- the Liesl and Co. classic shirt and the Closet Case Kalle. If you want to see previous versions, the Liesl is here, and the Kalle is here, here and here. While the Kalle does have a sleeve option, I have not yet been able to get the sleeved version to work as well for me as the sleeves on the Liesl, and I wanted a classic set in sleeve anyway. But the Liesl has no real options beyond the basic shirt, so I used the Kalle to determine the shaping of the dress.  I added a faux yoke and princess seams by drawing and cutting those lines on the resulting pattern and adding seam allowances. 

I used the hidden button placket from the Kalle. This was so fun to sew, I've never done a hidden placket before. The Kalle directions were impeccable as usual. Why doesn't the Liesl have this option?

I usually go with a tower placket on my shirt sleeves, but I decided to go a bit more informal on this one and do a bias bound sleeve placket. Neither of my patterns had this option so I relied on tutorials from several blogs. I also narrowed the cuff on the Liesl to make it a bit more elegant, and went with bracelet-length sleeves.

For the hem, I drafted a facing, and I went with a slightly curved shape with sharp points, longer in the back than the front. Lately I've been feeling the Kalle's exaggerated shirt tail is a bit too informal. The cropped Kalle was the first shirt pattern I ever saw with a faced hem, and while I didn't use that pattern piece, I love the idea of it. 

All seams are frenched, including the in-seam pockets.

The finished dress has two minor disappointments... first, the pockets are a little too low. Doh! I always have such a hard time figuring out where pockets should go. I pinned and basted and pinned again, but in the end they were still to low. By the time I figured this out, they were already french seamed into place, and I was not going back. They are not tragically too low, just a touch lower than I would like. At least they are in matching fabric... the white pocket bags are one of the main complaints about the inspiration dress. 

The second minor point of irritation is the finish on the slit. I still feel there must be a better way to transition between french seams and side slits. I clipped and tucked in all the raw ends, but I still feel it doesn't have the finish the rest of the garment has. Probably a facing for the slit would be the next step towards a cleaner finish. 

This is how I wore it today... with a Lisbon Cardigan and the cuffs turned up over the sleeves. It will be lovely with tights when it gets chillier!

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Wiksten Kimono + Amy Jumpsuit in Black Linen

The Amy Jumpsuit is such a quick, fun sew that I had to make another, ASAP. I loved wearing my first one dancing, and I'm not totally opposed to wearing it to work, but such a distinctive pattern is more of an occasional wear item in my wardrobe.

This one is in black linen. I just love black linen... I want to make EVERYTHING out of black linen. Especially this lovely smooth fine-weave linen. I was also hoping that I'd feel that this jumpsuit was more work appropriate, since it is so comfy that I want to wear it every day!

However, I don't feel quite comfortable with the narrow straps and bare shoulders at work these days. I just want a bit more coverage, for modesty and also for chilly AC. Fortunately, I had just obtained the Wiksten Kimono pattern, so I sewed up a quick sample with some leftover pieces of black linen. 

I wasn't really sure that I needed another kimono pattern, but there is something about the proportions of the Wiksten Kimono that are quite elegant and feel very "now." There is a version of this pattern that you can download from Making Magazine, but I decided to go with the newer version from the Wiksten blog and store. By all accounts, the shape is just a bit more refined, and the sizing is a touch less oversized. My scraps amounted to a little over a yard in pieces, so I sewed a small (I measure a Medium), no lining, with shorter sleeves. 

Since I wasn't lining it, I faux flat felled all of the seams. I only realized after cutting that the seam allowance was only 3/8 inch, so I borrowed an extra 1/8 inch from each seam and made narrow seams. Next time I'll add another 3/8 if I intend to flat fell. 

For the collar, I would have used a medium weight interfacing... but I didn't have enough in my stash. So I used the heavier weft interfacing that I usually use on coats and blazers. I actually rather like the structure it adds to the collar. 

To get a clean finish on the collar, I pressed the seam allowance on the collar and topstitched from the front, catching the pressed edge. The sleeves and hem are just turned up and stitched.

I drafted a new pocket just for fun, adding a curve to the upper edge and finishing it with a facing.

The Amy Jumpsuit is the same black linen. I added 1/2 inch to the back crotch curve, to give a bit more bum room. I also ended up shortening the straps 2 inches... somehow this jumpsuit ended up hanging lower on the bust than the last one, and I also wanted a little tiny bit of extra coverage for work-appropriateness. All seams are frenched, including the side pockets. 

All said and done, this one is a bit of a wiggle to get into, and I fear stretching out the neckline when I do it. Sort of wishing I had gone with the zipper-- but not so much that I will go back and add one. Maybe on the next one? 

I did fuss around a bit with trying to cross the straps... but as I feared, such a modification is not trivial since the design relies on drape. On the plus side, though, the straps as drafted mostly stay on my shoulders, which is actually quite remarkable. 

It's been ages since I wore anything to work other than collared shirts and shirt dresses, so it is very fun to have a new silhouette to play with. 

Friday, September 7, 2018

Closet Case Amy Jumpsuit in Italian Cotton: A Pattern Review

Hello all! I've been a bad blogger lately. We're renovating our bathroom, and it has caused all kinds of chaos around here, not to mention the usual juggling act that is my life. Quite honestly, if I have a few minutes, I'd rather sew than blog right now!

However, something came along that I just had to share. One of my colleagues showed up in the most amazing jumpsuit the other day. I've been ignoring the jumpsuit trend-- no adult onesies for me, thank you very much. But hers was elegantly loose, totally unstructured waist, just a bit strappy... so perfect. All the sudden I was browsing the available jumpsuit patterns, and drawing a complete blank. The closest was the Peppermint Magazine Jumpsuit by In the Folds. It's free! But I'm not sure how I felt about that narrow leg, I thought maybe I'd hack it and widen it.

And then, what jumps into my inbox, but Closet Case Patterns' Amy Jumpsuit announcement. Heather Lou is psychic. Just what I wanted!

That was Wednesday-- bought, printed, assembled. Thursday, late late, it was done. Friday pics.

Having sewn many other Closet Case Patterns, I was pretty sure it would fit. So I made no muslin, and jumped right into a precious piece of fabric.

I was going to go for a nice sedate black linen. But... then I remembered I had a gorgeous and special fabric in my stash from my first trip to Italy, nearly six years ago. It's a light weight cotton, finer than a quilting cotton, but with just a bit of cotton crispness.

I had 2 meters, minus a small chunk that I had used to make a shirt yoke, so it was a bit of a struggle to fit the HUGE pattern pieces onto my fabric. I decided to cut off-grain. I know-- sewing sinfulness. Well, I thought I might just get away with it in this case.

All other pieces (facings, pockets, straps, ties) are cut from black linen.

Everything is french seamed. Sewing inseam pockets with french seams is something I've always avoided, but I used the various online tutorials and it went beautifully. I don't know why I have always avoided this technique.

Construction went beautifully. Having the straps as separate pieces makes sewing the facing a breeze. And I skipped the zipper.

Basically I didn't try this on until I finished it... and it fits beautifully. My only reservation is that the straps feel like they are going to slide off my shoulders. I'd love to find a way to cross them in back on my next version.

I plan to wear it dancing, tonight!

Happy Sewing!