Friday, November 16, 2018

Frida-alls: Frida Kahlo Overalls with Removable Bib

Frida Kahlo was never known to wear overalls.


However, I think she'd probably consider it, if she were here today. She was known for mixing cultures and time periods in her dress... traditional huipil blouses with contemporary flowing skirts, colonial earrings and revolutionary rebozos. These overalls combine traditional workwear with contemporary fabric designs, and mixes utilitarian with the trendy in the form of a bare-shoulder top. 


The fabric is a Frida Kahlo tribute print by Alexander Henry called Frida's Garden, in cotton canvas. I was a little worried that it would be stiff for a garment, but it washed up soft and supple. My original idea was to make overalls in a dark floral, which I thought would be help make overalls evening-out appropriate and be an excellent entry for #sewfrosting. However, when I came across this Frida print I flat out fell in love. I came across it on Fabric.com, and the picture and description was for the black Frida's Garden in cotton canvas... but when it arrived, it was the cream background. Since the print was even more lovely in person, I uncharacteristically ignored this blatant breach of fabric ordering etiquette and just went with it. 

Oops, my backstrap is twisted! Didn't notice this until I uploaded my photos!

Do I think Frida would approve of this melange of her painting symbolism? Well, that's hard to say. But having painted herself into much of her oeuvre, we know she isn't shy about her imagery. The designer has filled her garden with the monkeys and parrots she famously painted portraits with, in addition to lush vegetation, ripe fruit, snakes, and eyes and arms on canvases. As well as a few of her most famous quotes:

Pies para qué las quiero, si tengo alas pa' volar.
Feet, what do I have need of you for when I have wings to fly?

Tengo ganas a vivir. Ya comencé a pintar.
I desire to live. I already have begun to paint.


I wasn't quite sure what to do with the pattern on the legs, so I mostly let chance decide. I'm not quite in love with the off-set twinning happening in the front, but oh well. I did carefully choose what would be on the pockets though. Frida with monkey on the front left with the "...fly" quote, and Friday with parrot on the right back pocket. 



The pattern is, of course, the Jenny Overalls by Closet Case Patterns. I seem to have difficulty making a pattern just once- you can see my black linen overalls here. The fit of the size 16 was nearly perfect last time, so I mostly stuck with that. The only change I made was to grade the bib from a size 16 at the waist to a size 14 at the top, since the bib on my linen overalls seems to provide a bit more coverage than the pattern pics call for. 

But the biggest change is... the bib is removable. Ta-da....!


I thought these would look cute as pants. Mia (@sewnorth) has a tutorial on Instagram. I didn't follow this to the letter. She added an extra layer to her waistband for the buttonholes... but my canvas was quite thick, so I just made the buttonholes on the inner waistband without alteration. 


Thinking about it now... wouldn't these buttonholes be better horizontal? I didn't really think about it... Mia made hers vertical, and I just followed along. However, with a horizontal buttonhole there would be less worry about the size of the buttonhole fitting on the waistband, and possibly more security against the vertical stress on the bib. Next time! 


The buttons on the front bib are about 1/2 inch, four of them, mostly because that's what I had on hand in my recycled button stash.

I also totally freak'in forgot to add extra to the bottom of the bib when cutting it out. So I added a button band at the bottom.

I did the button sides again (Closet Case Patterns has a tutorial) and realized that I could use the top button as an anchor for the sides of the bib. It is just a little tight to fit the extra thickness on the button, but very doable since jeans buttons have a good shank (is that the right word?). 


The double buttonhole on the inside of the waistband is from me not realizing I could reuse the waistband button. The horizontal buttonhole is the one that I use. 

These jeans buttons came from Wawak. They are really nice quality, and very reasonably priced, as long as you are ordering enough to get free shipping. 


The straps each have one big button in the back (1 inch?)


The overall hardware is from Amazon. I'm not sure what really nice overall hardware feels like, but this feels a little less than workforce quality, but it does the job.





This version came out a little bit tighter than my linen overalls. This is actually a good thing, since the pants need to be a bit tighter to stay up. This is probably in part because the cotton canvas has much less give than a linen fabric... but I think it is also because I was a bit more precise sewing these, for whatever reason. I'm pretty firmly in the stretch pants camp... so we'll have to see whether I find these comfortable for daily wear. 

The top I'm wearing with the pants is a Liesl Classic Shirt in tencel twill, made about a year ago

The top I'm wearing with the overalls is brand new, made to wear with my growing overall collection- the Closet Case Nettie. The original pattern is for a bodysuit and a dress, but I just cut it off at a hip length and then did Heather's tutorial to make it off the shoulder. The fabric is a rayon jersey from the stash. It was a super quick sew!


So what do you think, should I take these overalls dancing?

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!