Friday, July 24, 2015

Bees and Dragonflies Linen Dress: New Look 6643

I'm so excited... this is the first dress that I have made for myself since little Lion was born! 

I had a bridal shower to attend where I knew I was going to see family that I haven't seen in years, so I wanted to have a dress that fit properly even though I'm not quite back to my usual size. I didn't have a lot of time, so I pulled out a pattern I've made many times before and I know I love... New Look 6643. You can see previous versions here (Dogwood Linen Sheath), and here (Chris Palu shredded chiffon)

Since I'm significantly curvier than I was the last time I made this, I did a few toiles... 4 to be exact! I've never had to do a full bust adjustment, so I made a quick study of it and did about a one inch addition to the bust dart. I also took in the back neck a bit more to reduce gaping there, and did my usual sway back adjustment. Oh, and from previous versions, I knew I wanted to bring in the shoulders a bit and make them wider, all the better to hide my cross-back bra with!

I also added a full zip! Since it was going to be prominently featured, I splurged on a really lovely Riri zipper from Pacific Trimming. The zip is not only a fashion feature... it also allows me to nurse little Lion, which I have to do all the time right now!

The fabric is a digital linen print from Emmaonesock. It is even more lovely in real life than in the pictures. I just love the bees and dragonflies among the flowers.

And look, there are even praying manti among the flowers... you have to love a fabric featuring predatory insects!

The dress is unlined since I love the feel of linen against my skin. To avoid flipped out facings, I drafted an all-in-one facing for the neck and armholes.

All of the seams are flat felled except the center front, where I used the selvages to prevent raveling.

Having a new dress is so much fun! I'm sort of hoping that I will still enjoy the dress if I lose more weight, or perhaps I'll be able to just take in the side seams a bit or wear a belt. 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Polka Dot Bombshell Swimsuit

As you may have noticed, I have not been sewing much for myself this summer. My body has been changing so rapidly that it hasn't seemed worthwhile. But for our vacation this summer, I decided I needed a one-piece suit. I definitely am not feeling like showing off my belly skin quite yet, so even a modest tankini suit wasn't going to cut it this year.

I have long admired the Bombshell Swimsuit by Closet Case Files, and this seemed like the perfect suit to make for my postpartum body!

I made it up in a HUGE rush, right before we left for vacation. For the most part, it went beautifully... I had no trouble at all with the gathering at the sides, and the fit was perfect without a toile. I've made swimsuits before, so I'm familiar with the placement of elastic, and the seam around the legs went in without a hitch. Actually, it is sooooo much easier with my new machine since I can now sew an even zigzag (my old Singer was challenged in this area.)

I made the version with the non-ruched rear, since I figure that I don't need any extra material in that area!

For bust support, I opted to sew in a bra as described by many other bloggers who have made the bombshell. I used a bra that had a band that was too small for me, but was a pretty good fit otherwise. The bra I used happened to be a soft-structured bra rather than an underwire. I sewed it into the sideseams, and along the top of the suit. 

The only problem I encountered was with the top seam along the bust. It took me about 5 tries to get it right, ripping and resewing with ample silent cussing along the way. The directions suggest just a little bit of stretching of the elastic across the top of the bust, but I found it took maximum stretching of the elastic to eliminate gaping. 

It was a really cheap make... I had all of the materials left over from last summer, so I didn't have to purchase anything at all! Rather smart of me to purchase an extra yard of fabric, and extra lining and elastic. If you were wondering, you CAN make the Bombshell out of only one yard of fabric, if you don't ruche the rear.

More photos, some with Bug and Lion!

First Ever MYOG: Double Size Down Quilt

I'm straying even further from my usual wardrobe items... my latest "make" is a down quilt!

How did I end up with such a strange project? Well, we were gearing up for our annual camping summer vacation, and revisiting the problem of bed-sharing while camping. At home, we have a king size bed that we currently share with Little Lion and Little Bug. Last year we bought a Big Agnes double sleeping bag (I can't recall which one) but it ended up being far too small for us, and it was huge and heavy (it was some kind of poly-fill). It ended up going right back where it came from. Last fall we just took the comforter from our bed, which actually worked pretty well, but it is huge and heavy and if its cotton cover gets even the slightest bit wet, it will be useless. This year I was lusting after the Accomplice double sleeping bag/quilt from Enlightened Equipment. At $350 it is actually a pretty good deal, but it takes 6 weeks to ship-- I didn't have 6 weeks!

Then I came across several "make your own gear (MYOG)" blogs where people had made their own down quilts. Naturally, I was intrigued!

After considerable research, I ended up making my own version of a down quilt. My quilt is 78 inches high and 86 inches wide, and filled with 18 ounces 850 fill power down, which should give it a comfort rating of about 30 degrees. 

The shell is 1.1 oz DWR ripstop from Quest Outfitters (teal on the outside and purple on the inside).

Edges were finished by simply turning both sides inwards and topstitching them together. Both the top and the bottom edges have channels to insert a drawstring, which I haven't done yet. In the middle of the summer, we definitely don't need to cinch it down at all!

Instead of a sewn-in footbox, I added velcro at the bottom of the quilt so that a kind of footbox could be created, but it can also be used just as a flat quilt.

The velcro that I used is a "hook and loop snag free fastener" from Quest Outfitters. It is sort of cool stuff... instead of a hook side and a loop side, the hooks and loops are sewn together. This made it possible to sew one strip on the inside of the quilt that can be folded in at the sides. There is also a channel for a drawstring, but I haven't added it yet.

I created 18 baffles by sewing no-see-um mesh in between the two layers. Below, you can see me in the process of laying out the baffles on the top layer. I used plain old masking tape as a marker, it stuck pretty well to the nylon.

To make a strong seam, I folded over 1/4 of an inch of the mesh, then sewed it at 1/8 of an inch.

Here you can see the mesh sewn to the top layer.

When I sewed it to the bottom layer, I tried to create a "c" baffle. Actually, I did it the wrong way first... creating an "s" baffle. I figured it wouldn't matter. But then I noticed that the "s" baffles weren't really holding their shape very well. I was halfway done sewing the second side when I decided to tear it all out and try again! I'm glad I did, because the "c" baffles definitely hold their shape much better, and I think it will help the down attain maximum loft.

 The baffles are 2.25 inches high. I calculated the height

 This is a picture of the HUGE pile of tape beside my machine. I tore off the tape as I went along, since any tape that got sewn in would be stuck there forever!

 The down I ended up using came packaged in 1 oz packages (from Wilderness Logistics). I stuffed the baffles using the method described in this youtube video.

First, I cut the packet in half. Unlike the fellow in the video, I had planned on 1 oz per baffle, rather than 1/2 an ounce, so theoretically I didn't need to cut it in half. But when I tried the first baffle, I found that trying to stuff the whole package at once was difficult... it was too large to fit in the baffle and maneuver the down out of the package. So I cut them in half, and stuffed two halves into each baffle.
After I cut the packet in half, I down the side of the plastic bag. Then I stuffed the half packet into the baffle as far as I could reach, and pushed the down out of the packet with my fingers. Then I pulled out the empty (or nearly empty) plastic bag. 
I did the stuffing on our porch, to minimize cleanup. There were a few escapees... like this fluffball. Down is amazing stuff!
 After stuffing, I clipped the baffles shut with binder clips. When all the baffles were full, I sewed them closed.

I did the stuffing out on the porch... it wasn't a huge mess, but there was a bit of down that went off with the wind.

I also made a "sleeve" to stuff our two extra-long sleeping pads in. We have two of the largest self-inflating pads that REI sells, and I LOVE them. It isn't as comfy as our mattress at home, but it is as good as I've had sleeping on the ground. The biggest problem is that the two pads tend to shift around at night, which means someone always ends up on the ground. To solve this problem, I sewed a "sleeve" that holds the two pads in place next to each other. The top is fleece and the bottom is cordura.

The design needs a little re-thinking... it was a huge pain to stuff the pads into the sleeve. Getting them out again was also rather annoying. Sort of like putting nylon stockings on, only with two HUGE pads. Perhaps some zippers on the sides would help....

I finished just a few days before our trip! Overall the sleep system worked beautifully. The sleeve held the pads together brilliantly, and the quilt was super light and plenty warm for summer camping. I'm not sure if it will be warm enough for the fall though. It might work, with the drawcord on top and the velcro footbox sealed up... but we will have to try it out.