Monday, September 28, 2015

Lunar Eclipse 'Blood Moon'

Did anyone else see this? It was pretty spectacular from where we are!


I would have liked the timing of the intervals to be more methodical, but the kiddos kept waking up and wanting me to cuddle them in bed, so I just did the best I could. Shot with a 200mm lens.

Of course in moments when I wasn't cuddling or admiring the view, I was pulling together my next sewing project! I had big ideas for Sew Indie Month, but not sure if anything is going to pan out-- nothing has really gone smoothly and time is short. Do you want to hear my woeful excuses? It might be entertaining to you...

For "Dressed to the Nines," I had planned to make a Snowball dress (Waffle Patterns) with a custom print at Spoonflower, but then I lost my Photoshop file after spending HOURS on the composite I was making. Not to mention the long turnaround time for getting fabric printed and shipped, and I can't justify sending the file until it is just PERFECT since the cost of the fabric is at the high end of the range I would even consider purchasing. So, that one is on the back burner for awhile, certainly not going to make an October 4th deadline. I still want to make it... it is going to be FANTASTIC when I finish it!

For some undetermined category, I was planning on making a body-con dress out of the Fehr Trade Surf to Summit top. It will have open shoulders and a band around the neck. It is sort of a crazy idea, and I think it will be fabulous, but after making a "wearable" test version, I think my adaptation still needs work. Making alterations to the pattern takes a bit of trial and error since it is rather unusual, a raglan sleeve and no side seam. My altered pattern looks crazy, and will look crazier before I'm done! To further add to the pressure, the fabric I would love to make it out of is a Missoni knit from my stash, and I don't want to rush when working with such a special and unique fabric. I could work with a less precious fabric-- I even selected one and have it washed and sitting next to my workstation-- but I'm not enthused about it.

But what I was working on last night was for the 'Pattern Hacking' category, and I don't want to spoil the surprise. It will either be fabulous our a complete fail. It involves the Ginger Jeans pattern, and I cut the pieces last night, can't wait to baste together and see how close or far I am from my goal...

That might take DAYS, btw. Sewing time is ridiculously short, and I do need to sleep sometime...!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Shirt refashion- Baby Vest (Oliver+S Art Museum Vest)

So Leo doesn't need another vest... but looking at the scraps I had left over from the BHL Peplum top made from a men's shirt, I just couldn't resist. I just love a boy who can wear pink and get away with it! The pattern is the Oliver+ S Art Museum vest, you can see the first one I made here.

The scrap situation was pretty dire-- I wasn't really sure I was going to be able to pull it off. Talk about just fitting...

And here, you can see how I had to piece together scraps in two places (there is a vertical join in the red portion).

I decided to do a flap pocket utilizing a bit of the collar. I didn't make the welt underneath, just a faux pocket this time! 

And for the belt on the back, I used the cuffs.  

I wanted a contrasting interior, so I had to break out another shirt... this one had silver and white stripes. 

This is a fantastic pattern... so cleverly designed, and it comes together quickly. Like the first time I made this, I underlined the front with cotton organdy to give it a bit more structure. There isn't much to say about it that I didn't already say when I blogged my first version... so I'll just share the cute pictures! In the pic below, Little lion is wearing the vest with a basic onesie top (gift from grandma) and natural linen Made by Rae big butt pants

And here everyone is dressed up, ready to go to a Milonga! In these pics, Lion is wearing his vest with jeans for a dressed down look ;). Nope, I didn't make the dress Little Bug is wearing, that was a used clothing store find.

I'm sort of on a roll with the shirt refashion thing. My usual places to fabric shop don't carry much in the way of men's shirtings, and I just love all of the subtle variations of stripes. Chambray and shirt-weight denim, too. Not to mention how awesome it is to have all of those readily interfaced pieces (collars, cuffs, button bands) to play with, and lots of buttons (I used every one from the red and pink striped shirt, and had to add a few from my stash). And you can't beat the cost, assuming you're willing to spend the time deconstructing and figuring out how to arrange your pattern pieces to take advantage of the material. I do have some other traditional fabric makes in the works, but expect to see more refashioning in the future!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Bias Peplum Top- Shirt Refashion and BHL Flora Hack

I know, this is a very unusual look for me... as well as an unusual process!

As I was sewing the By Hand London Flora dress this summer, it occurred to me that the pattern would probably make a great peplum top. Not that I know anything about peplum tops, since I don't own one and I am not sure I ever have.

More recently, I was thinking about possible refashion ideas, using a man's shirt. I had been inspired by Portia's blog at The Makery where she was hosting a shirt refashion challenge-- her guest refashionners did some totally amazing things with their shirts. To be honest, I've never refashioned much of anything before. I did go through a sweater felting stage a couple years ago and I considered making things out of sweaters, but the only wearable thing I ended up making was a baby hoodie out of a totally irresistable cashmere sweater. Now Little Lion is wearing it, so I guess that counts for something!

So here is the shirt I decided to use. It is sort of perfect for a refashion... it feels like linen and is 3XL. A total charity shop find! Oddly, the tag said it was 100% cotton, but as I was deconstructing it, I found another tag that said 100% linen. Go figure.

And, because I just KNEW it would be impossible to get the peplum that I wanted out of this one shirt, I bought a coordinating red shirt.

You might notice, the stripes are on grain. In order to get the chevrons I wanted, I cut the bodice on the bias, then reattached the front bodice to the button placket. I was able to cut the back bodice from the back of the shirt, the front bodice from the two sleeves, and some of the peplum from the front and the scraps. The rest of the peplum I had to make from the red shirt.

Since I hadn't made this view of the Flora, I did a quick muslin to check fit. It actually fit quite well, all I had to do was move the bust darts half an inch down and toward the center. I didn't notice it on the muslin, but I did have a bit of gaping at the back of the neck and I ended up pinching out a 1/2 inch wedge from the top of the center back seam. 

Sewing it together was pretty straightforward. I handled the bias pieces very carefully to avoid stretching, and I used a lot of pins. For the back seam, I basted before I sewed to make sure the stripes matched. The don't match exactly, but I was able to at least get the wide and narrow stripes to match.

When I tried it on, there was massive gaping around the buttonholes in the front. I should have guessed... I'm making a fitted top so even in the best of situations it would be hard to avoid gaping around buttonholes, nevermind the wide spacing of a men's shirt. I ended up sewing up the button placket, except for the top two buttons, and adding an invisible side zip. This makes a pretty good compromise... I don't have to worry about how much skin I'm showing, and I still have nursing access.

The inside of the bodice is lined-- the fabric was pretty transparent. I usually manage to "bag" the lining, but I screwed up the order of construction so my only option to get a clean finish was to hand sew the bodice lining at the waist.

Excuse the wrinkles, I took this after a day of wearing the top!

I actually brought a change of clothes to work, just in case I wasn't comfortable wearing this top all day, but actually I liked it much more than I thought I would. It was cool and comfortable, and I felt like the high waist and peplum was flattering on my post-baby body. I thought it looked pretty snazzy with a plain black blazer. My husband said he wasn't a fan though-- he says the colors and flared skirt are too much together. It definitely is far more flamboyant than my usual daily fashion choices, which are pretty much understated shapes and black, gray and white. What do you think?

Oh my-- I'm the Marcy Tilton Jacket Sew Along Winner!

I can't quite believe it... but the Tilton team chose me as the winner for their Fall Jacket Sew Along!

I'm just so incredibly honored. Marcy Tilton is such an inspiration, and I am humbled to have my work recognized by her!

The jacket I made is an interpretation of Katherine Tilton's Butterick 6106, you can read more about it here.

There is an amazing slideshow of all of the entries-- it is just full of gorgeous garments and great sewing ideas. What beautiful work everyone!

My thanks to Marcy, Katherine, and the Art Barn team for all of the creativity that they share with the sewing community.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Curve and Line Asymetric Wool Blazer-- Butterick 6106 (Katherine Tilton)

Fall sewing has officially begun! I decided to dive right into the season, going straight for my stash of wool and dusting off the clapper and ham. 

I was waffling on what my next project would be, and then Marcy Tilton announced a jacket contest on her blog. I've always wanted to sew a Tilton jacket pattern... I own several, but haven't yet had the courage to launch into one. All of my blazers so far have been quite traditional, and I do love a nice trim, tailored jacket. But at the same time, I also love pattern and texture, and the fluid way that Tilton patterns encourage the mixing of fabrics has always intrigued me.

My first thought was Vogue 8430, which I've been meaning to make for years. Not only do I have the pattern, but I already had fabric purchased with this pattern in mind. If you haunt the Marcy Tilton fabric store like I do, you probably remember this fantastic embroidered gray wool. I traced off the pattern and had added a bit of shaping that I was just about to muslin when I came across Butterick 6106. The pattern lines opened up a host of new possibilities and I started sketching out possibilities from various fabrics in my stash.

I did up a muslin and I was pleasantly surprised with the fit right out of the envelope. I sized down based on the experiences Dixie, who had posted a wonderfully detailed review on her blog. Based on my measurements, I should be a Large, but I traced off the Medium. After basting together all those pieces, I felt that on my body, the right side was much more flattering than the left-- I think this was mostly due to the length of the left side and the fact that I'm pretty short. Also, I generally feel that showing more leg helps balance my proportions, and I love how that little V created by the pattern pieces on the right side helps lengthen the leg.

So, I decided to do two right sides. But I also wanted to preserve some of the asymmetry, so I added an extra design line to my mirror of the right side... another strip that was similar in thickness, but set higher up.

I made some other minor fitting changes to streamline the jacket and help it hang a little closer to my body. The big one was adding shaping to the back seam... I generally have to do a bit of a swayback adjustment for dresses, so I did a similar adjustment, taking about 3/4 of an inch from the where the seam hit my lower back, and curving to nothing at the upper back and bottom edge of the jacket. I also curved the side seams, taking the seams in about 1/2 inch on each side at the waist and curving back to the original seam at the armpit and hem. I also belatedly felt like the jacket was hanging rather low, so I took the shoulder seam in 1/2 inch at the deepest part of the curve. The sleeves are narrowed 1/2 inch at the wrist, tapered to nothing at the elbow. I'm sorry not to have pictures of any of this... I generally am sewing late at night after the kids are asleep, making these decisions on the fly, and am too focused on getting sewing done to stop and take coherent photos.

The black wool that I chose to contrast with the gray embroidered wool is also very special to me-- it is a piece of wool suiting that I bought in Rome in 2014. I brought back two gorgeous pieces of wool suiting, and I haven't been able to bring myself to use them yet! But I decided to that this was the time, because the texture and weight was nearly a perfect match to the gray wool.

I've been reading Diane Ericson's blog lately, and while I haven't attempted anything near her level of artistry and creativity, she has got me thinking about the idea of "making" fabrics to suit your ideas. To complement the embroidered gray wool, I decided to sew free-form vertical lines on some of the pattern pieces after cutting them out. I wanted to keep the feel organic in a way that would complement, but not compete, with the circular pattern on the gray fabric. The thread is dark gray Gutterman topstitching thread. I went through 4 spools of the stuff that Joanne's carries (the outrageous cost of which has pushed me over the edge to start ordering my thread in bulk!).

The entire body of the jacket is underlined with light weight black silk organza. I thought the jacket would look cleaner and crisper with a bit of support. I ended up doing my "embroidery" of the black wool on top of the organza, thinking it would help support the stitching. The sleeves are underlined with black china silk, for the sole purpose of making the jacket wearable with sleeveless shirts. Seams are finished with black bias tape or black rayon Hug Snug. I discovered Hug Snug partway through making the jacket and fell in love-- the nearly bulk-less rayon is perfect for a jacket with many intersecting seams. I also used Hug Snug as a seam finish for the bottom hem, machine sewing it to the edge and hand blind-stitching it down. After discovering the Hug Snug, the only seam I finished with bias tape was the armhole because I thought it would benefit from the stretch of the bias.

For the facing, I just couldn't decide on anything from my stash, so I gave in to my desire to have an absolutely gorgeous denim from the Marcy Tilton online store. The black baroque pattern is flocked, so it is dimensional and luxuriously soft. I hope it holds up over time... but I think it would look lovely worn, too. The facing is interfaced with a fusible weft interfacing.

The pattern instructions have you sew the arm to the jacket sort of like a shirt... the sleeves are not set in, and the shoulder seam comes pretty low on the model, almost draping off the edge of her shoulder blade. I decided I wanted to go for a more structured look, so I moved the shoulder in by 1/2 inch on both sides. I set in the sleeve, using a double line of basting on the sleeve head to gather the fullness.

The wool eased in beautifully-- I can totally see why tailors love sewing with wool (my previous jackets have been cotton or rayon and it was much more work to ease in the sleeves without puckers). I pressed the seams out, towards the sleeve, then added a sleeve head--a piece of gathered, felted wool. My only regret is that my wool was navy-- it somewhat spoils the clean interior that I've strived to create. I'm not really sure how one would go about trying to hide a sleeve head on an unlined jacket. I considered adding a shoulder pad, but I don't think I need it.

I almost forgot the side seam pockets-- I had to seam rip the side seam to put them in. They aren't the best pockets, since by nature of the design of the jacket, they have to be sort of high, and it is a bit awkward to put my hands in them. I actually sewed them in lower, but I had to tear them out and move them up so that they didn't hang out the bottom of the jacket!

But I do love pockets on a jacket, and a welt pocket seemed like it would be a bit much on this design and I don't have a lining to do my usual lining pockets. Since the jacket is unlined and everything shows, I made the side seam pockets so that the good side of the fabric faced out, and lined them with china silk. At least they will be somewhere to stash my keys and phone.

The directions call for the sleeves to be hemmed. After all of the effort I put into this jacket, that just seemed to be a bit anticlimactic... so I added a simple cuff to the sleeves. The cuff is basically the bottom 2 inches of the sleeve pattern, traced off twice, once in my facing fabric and once in the fashion fabric. They are sewn right sides together on three sides, clipped and turned out, and attached to the shortened sleeve.

I went for a simple black matte button. I really love the double buttons, but I thought in this jacket the larger buttons worked well with the circular design of the gray wool. It is actually sort of neat how the circles almost line up with the buttons... a happy accident!

The buttonholes were a bit of a learning experience involving many hours with the seam ripper, mostly due to my inexperience with my new machine. Lesson one-- my machine will only go around the button holes two times. I was hoping for three, which worked beautifully on my test and gave a gleaming density, but got hung up when tried on the actual jacket. What a mess to unpick! Lesson two-- don't let the jacket touch the automatic buttonhole foot while in the process of making a buttonhole. Another mess to unpick! And I broke one needle trying to figure out how to sew a button on with a computerized machine. The bright side is that my new machine is at least consistent in how it behaves, at least so far, once I discover its quirks.

The best thing about this jacket is that it fits really well into my personal style. My work wardrobe is full of black and gray, with lots of floral and geometric patterns in neutrals. I love that many of my wardrobe pieces work well with each other, and enjoy dressing to play off different textures and patterns within this palette of mostly neutrals. This jacket plays really well into this scheme, and would work well with many of the other items I wear on a daily basis. I also have a sort of dressed-down office-appropriate style going on in my daily fashion choices, and the structured but playful lines of this jacket are perfect for this.

So that flocked baroque denim that I used for the facing... I still have nearly 1.5 yards. Might have to learn to make jeans, don't you think? I just bought some rivets and jeans buttons! That's a totally new frontier for me thought-- might take me awhile to get around to it.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Purple party dress for Bug- First Day Dress (MADE)

I FINALLY got some great pics of the dress I made for Little Bug to wear to the wedding we attended this summer. She's getting to that age where she isn't always excited to be in front of the camera. In fact, I had to entice her with the promise of letting her use the camera... which actually worked out great, she took some really fantastic pictures of Leo and me.

But, back to the topic of the dress! This is the First Day Dress by MADE. The fabric is quilting cotton from Joanne's-- a floral for the main fabric, and a solid purple for the lining. The dress sewed up super-fast-- I didn't even muslin, I just took a guess from the pattern measurements. The only change I made before cutting was to lower the front neckline a bit, it looked high to me. Overall, it fit pretty well except that it was too long and the waist was also low, so I just sewed the waist seam with an extra inch of seam allowance which served to both raise the waistline and shorten the dress in one fell swoop.

The construction of this pattern is super simple. The full lining acts as a neck and armhole facing, and also gives the inside a clean finish. Instead of fussy closures, the back is closed with a single button with an elastic loop rather than a buttonhole. The big rhinestone button came from Joannes, and the round elastic cord was in my stash.

There are a couple of unusual construction choices in the directions. The back slit is cut after you've sewn the shoulder seams, which is weird, but works just fine. Also, the directions for the armholes have you clip the curves in the seam allowances and press them in place, then topstitch them closed. I can see why it is done this way-- most methods of clean finishing dress linings require that you leave three seams unsewn, and there are only two seams on the bodice. In any case, it worked beautifully.

The lining. It looks less blue and more purple in real life! Also, I didn't bother to iron after the last wash, sorry!
To add a little more poof to the skirt, I added a layer of gathered tulle sewn to the lining. The lining and the tulle are the same length, and they are 1 inch longer than the outer fabric so you get a little pop of purple at the bottom. The lining is hemmed with the hem facing out, like a lining should be... but it belatedly occurred to me that if I was going to make the hem stick out by an inch, it should be hemmed with the hem facing in. At least the tulle makes that little detail less apparent.

I just love the pattern. Sewing a dress was the last item on the agenda for the wedding we attended this summer-- quite honestly, Bug has tons of dresses since Grandma just loves to shop for her, so she didn't really need a dress. Of course I had to make a dress for myself, and Little Lion needed something if he wasn't going to go in his PJs. But I do love sewing something special for my little girl, so I figured if I finished my other agenda items, I would make up something quick for her.

I know from experience that the other little girl patterns in my stash would take me a week to sew-- all that muslin-ing of crazy big-4 pattern sizes and fussiness everywhere. I almost just drew up something myself, which I've certainly done before, but working out all the details of a self-drafted pattern can take some time. When I saw the First Day Dress I knew it was perfect-- a simple, classic shaped dress that someone else has taken the time to think out and test thoroughly. It came together in only a couple hours!

Little Bug loves the dress! These pictures were also difficult to take because it was hard to get the dress on her in a clean state-- every time I wash it, it gets pulled out and worn again almost immediately.