Thursday, April 4, 2019

Pucci Dress turned Classic Shirt

I've always admired Emilio Pucci patterns, so when I found this one I bought it up right away!

I made it up into a hybrid Liesl Classic Shirt/Kalle Dress. This was made as part of my entry for the Pattern Review Sewing Bee Finale, you can read the details here. The challenge was to design a "superhero" outfit, so this dress was for a supermom, and is embedded with sayings about patience-- something moms can never have too much of!

I added a few details to make this dress extra special, in honor of the contest and the lovely Pucci print. I added volume to the sleeves by slashing and spreading, then gathering the excess at the cuffs. I made a hidden button placket and piped with a solid fusia sateen. And I added a deep border trim with mitered side slits. 

The border fabric (which is also used as the cuff facing and, collar stand, and inside yoke) is linen with hand painted script on it, done in colors to match the print, with sayings about "Patience."

The pockets have a little something extra... one has "Patience" embroidered inside, as a tactile reminder, and the other has an embroidered daisy, a reminder to "stop and smell the flowers."

In practical wearing, the dress ended up having a few major flaws. The first is that the cotton shirting sticks like velcro to all of my tights! In the pictures above, I'm wearing knee-highs to alleviate that problem.

Second, which is related to the first-- the short length was chosen to work with leggings! I love the proportions of a long sleeve dress that falls mid thigh, but for modesty, I would almost always wear leggings of some sort with a dress of this length, but due to the velcro problem stated above, this is not practical.

What about a slip you say? I've always found slips to be incredibly fussy, and if I sew something that I think I'll need a slip for, I tend to just line it instead. I've since thrown away all of my old polyester slips, and making a few natural fiber slips is on my long list, but I haven't gotten around to it yet.

There is also the problem of drape. I generally don't mind a slightly crisp drape in a shirt dress-- it is a shirt dress afterall. Somehow, though, the drape on this dress just didn't feel right to me.

Soooooo... after it sat around in my closet unworn for a month or so, I CHOPPED IT! Made it into a shirt. And I love it.

I left a long, dramatic tail, and finished the hem with bias tape that matches the piping.

There is something about this bold print that just works for me in a shirt. Sedate lower half, dramatic upper. And the crispness is perfect for a shirt.

I'm wearing it here with linen True Bias pants, showing all of the wrinkles of having sat at my desk for too many hours this afternoon. I've worn it twice in two weeks since making it into a shirt, the colors fit the spring-y weather!

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Coral and Stripes Fulton Sweater Blazer

It finally feels like spring here in the Finger Lakes! When I was thinking about the predicted 60 degree weather today, the coral pink of my Fulton Sweater Blazer was irresistible. 

I made this weeks ago, as the first challenge of the Patternreview Sewing Bee. The challenge was to sew an open front cardigan that used Pantone's "Living Coral" color either literally or figuratively. This color was so jarringly outside of my usual dark-neutrals winter color scheme that I decided to go for it!

I knew right away that I wanted to sew the Alina and Co. Fulton Sweater Blazer. I've made dozens of cardigans, but the crisp collar of the Fulton is just so chic, and I thought it would elevate a simple knit cardigan.

I bought this fabric on Amazon! I've never in my life bought fabric on amazon before, but who else in the fabric world will guarantee 2-day shipping on a cut of fabric? It was just the right color, and a stable knit ponte was perfect for the pattern. It does have higher poly content than I usually would prefer, but it was a lovely weight and very soft when it arrived. FYI, I made a sweater for my daughter with the extras and it has pilled quite a bit, but kids clothes do take a beating.

Speaking of leftover fabric... I think the fabric requirements of this pattern must be generous, because I had A LOT of leftover fabric. It calls for 2.75, and of course that means you have to buy 3 at most online fabric stores. I'm pretty sure I used less than 2.

Anyhow, I did a quick muslin, and it fit beautifully, so I jumped right into cutting and sewing.

The pattern is totally straightforward if you have sewn a cardigan before... except for the collar. However, the instructions really walked you through it step-by-step, including helpful tips like marking and which side of the fabric to sew on. The illustrations were spot-on and did not involve any head scratching to figure out.

I also love the cuff detail, and I chose to highlight the roll up cuff option with a contrasting stripe knit that I had in stash. I used the stripes to do a hong-kong seam finish for a beautiful interior. I also love all of the other little details of this pattern like the neck facing, deep hem and generous pockets.

I love this cardigan! I might, however, add just 1/4-1/2 to the shoulder seams and upper arms next time to give a bit more room to layer over the slightly oversize shirts that I tend to prefer. You can see it pulling a bit in the pics. Actually when I put it on today it seemed to fit better, even over a long sleeve shirt. So go figure.

Quite honestly I have only worn this once since I made it... but today it was just the thing to highlight one of the first spring-y days of spring!

Happy Spring!

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Thaw Jumpsuit-- Patternreview Lillian Dress and Closet Case Amy Mashup

It has been a crazy winter here in the Finger Lakes. Freezing cold days and whiteout snowfall mixed with periods of 50+ degree weather. All of that has led to a lot of freeze thaw cycles. On the edges of the lakes and the canals and inlets, the ice forms then breaks into intricate patterns. 

This jumpsuit was made for Round 3 of the Patternreview Sewing Bee. The challenge was to make a specific pattern, the Lillian dress, your own. 

If you've been reading the blog for awhile, you might have noticed that I haven't made any knit dresses lately, and I pretty much never make anything with a bib, other than overalls. 

So how to make this particular pattern my own? Well, I decided to convert it to a woven, and to make it into a jumpsuit. I stayed true to the pattern by using the style lines of the bib to make a sort of princess seam down the front, and I turned the neckline into a high cross front style. For the ease and shape of the leg, I used the Amy Jumpsuit pattern from Closet Case Patterns. 

Converting to a woven was relatively easy-- I sewed a size two sizes higher than my measurements. I also ended up having to cut and slash some more ease into the sleeves, since they were too restrictive when sewn in a woven. 

The wrap front worked out very well for getting in and out of the jumpsuit... no other closure is necessary. 

The fabric is hand painted, in a pattern that is inspired by the patterns ice makes when it thaws. 

My fabric was a white linen, and I painted it with very watered down speedball printmaking ink. I had this color sitting on a shelf, staring at me-- I had mixed it for a previous project, but ended up using a different color set. The color was mostly dark blue, with a little turquoise mixed in. 

The lines in the pattern are created using clear gutta resist... I had a tube in my stash that I had bought to try out several years ago. It worked beautifully! 

The speedball ink is very pigmented, so even the darker areas maintain a suppleness. I have not yet washed it, but I have high hopes that it won't fade, since getting speedball ink out of clothes where it has landed by accident is nearly impossible. 

I painted the cut pattern pieces before I sewed them, so that I could control exactly how the pattern fell on the jumpsuit, but the style lines created by the panels would still be visible. There was of course the risk of the pattern pieces stretching out of shape while they dried, but I handled them very carefully and this seemed not to be a problem. 

The front of the jumpsuit closes with a hidden zip. This was the part that took the most time... I had to figure out exactly where the facings needed to be so that my non-matching black zip wouldn't peek out. A couple of hook and eyes with thread loops keep the facings in place. 

The inside of the wrap is secured with a button, a trick I learned from the Highland Wrap Dress.

The armholes are finished with matching bias binding. 

The legs are hemmed with a machine blind hem. The insides, including pockets, are french seamed for a clean finish.

And, the finished jumpsuit! It is such a statement piece that I haven't found the right place to wear it yet. But I think soon, as we come to the big spring thaw, this jumpsuit will make its debut. 

You can read my contest entry here, and see the other entries here

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Convertible Pant to Skirt with Zipper Panels-- Anna Allen Persephone Pants

I'm still sort of surprised this crazy idea worked out. But yes, I have succeeded in making a pair of pants that converts into a skirt using zipper panels.

When he saw it, my three year old sons said... "that's so cool!"

The idea is actually pretty simple. There are four full length zips, two in the front and two in the back. When you unzip them all you can remove the crotch panel of the pants and insert skirt panels. 

Why would this even occur to me? Well, in my brain, it was the confluence of two things: the #sewfancypants challenge, that has me thinking about and looking at the cool pants that everyone has been sewing this month. And two, the Patternreview Sewing Bee, whose challenge this week was "zippers!" 

As I was thinking about zippers, my first thought was that this could go so terribly wrong! Think-- the infamous zipper dress! Sort of cool, actually, but who really wants to wear that, unless you are seeking attention... of all sorts. No offense if you have one, or want one... really, I'm sure you could make a very cool zipper dress that isn't sleezy at all. Okay, maybe I'm just digging myself into a hole here, I'm going to stop now. 

There are, of course millions of very cool things that one can do with zippers. In fact, the possibilities are sort of staggering. But I could find no examples of zipper pants that convert to a dress... therefore, I decided that was what I should make. 

Since I knew I'd be adding vertical seams, it occurred to me that the Persephone pants would be perfect for this design, since they have no side seam. Besides, I really wanted an excuse to get the pattern anyway, since so many people of all shapes seem to have success with them. 

So I bought and assembled the Persephone pant pattern from Anna Allen. I graded between a 14 hip and an 18 waist, based on my size in her chart (note: there's an error in my Patternreview review, where I say I made the 12-- thinking back, I'm pretty sure it was the 14). I made a muslin and the fit was pretty good. The backside was a bit overly form fitting, so I added 1/2 inch to the crotch curve and made more of a deeper J shaped curve for the back crotch curve. It is still pretty form fitting, but I think in a good way!

I probably did not need to grade up to the 18, because I actually ended up pinching out a good inch, perhaps more, when making final adjustments... but that also depends on the the give of your fabric. Linen is pretty stretchy for a woven. Speaking of adjustments, one of my hesitations with the pattern was how does one adjust pants without a side seam? But actually, since my adjustments weren't too drastic, pinching out at the back dart and center front worked pretty well for me. 

To add the zippers, I drew additional seam lines on my muslin where I wanted the zippers. In the back, I used the location of the darts as my guide, extending the dart into a straight line and taking its width into the seam allowance. In the front, I just eyeballed it. When I cut my fabric, I was careful to add seam allowances to my new style lines. 

The front zippers are two way zippers, so that they can be used instead of a front fly, but also function as a leg vent. The back zippers are separating one-way zippers, installed upside down (closed end at the top. This is so that there would be no wardrobe malfunctions in the back (zippers should stay closed at the top) and so that I wouldn't be leaning back against zipper pulls. 

To make the skirt panels, I extended the straight line of the crotch curve to the hem length that I wanted. The best tutorial I found is by Blueprints for Sewing, where she is converting the Ginger jeans into a skirt. 

I used a 7 oz (heavy weight) linen. This is a bit lighter than the 10 oz fabrics suggested by the designer. To compensate, I added a front stay across the belly/front crotch and underlined the upper portion of the side panels with a lightweight cotton. I added the zipper welt pockets (my addition, this is not in the Persephone pattern) before I added the underlining... so the underling also serves to cover up the inside of the welts and pocket bags.

When fitting my pants mid-way through, I was feeling that the rise was too high for me. They're supposed to be high-waisted, but on me they were nearly up to my bra band and I'm not comfortable with that, at least right now. The pants without the waistband were hitting at just the right point for me... so I ended up turning the waistband into a waistband facing. I actually sort of love the clean look of this, and it worked well to enclose the top portion of the zippers. When I make the persephone again I might make it this way again... or if I want the waistband, I'll lower the rise 1 inch.

I also used a facing for the hem. I did this in part because I didn't have enough fabric to make a nice deep hem, so the facing allowed me to use a scant 3/8 inch in some places. In fact, I was so short on fabric that I had to piece together scraps to add length to some of the panels. The hem facing also allowed a clean finish to the bottom of the zippers, and it serves as a cool peek of dot pattern when the skirt swishes around.

It was quite the project, especially on a timeline, crammed into a busy week. There might have been an all-nighter involved...! But I do love the end result. I'm wearing this as a skirt today. If you can believe it, I haven't worn a skirt in YEARS, it just hasn't been part of my wardrobe, but I think there may have to be more skirts in my future, they are actually rather practical for winter with tights underneath and a big sweater on top.

You can read my Sewing Bee entry at Patternreview here.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Lander pants in Stretch Twill- True Bias Patterns

I finally made the Lander Pants. Why did I wait so long?

Actually, I can tell you exactly why I waited so long... it wasn't until recently that I started seeing these on people whose bodies who I perceive as having similar shaped bodies as mine. When some of my favorite bloggers started talking about these and making them in them in the higher end of the pattern range and they still looked great, I thought maybe it was time to give them a chance. I also got the pattern as part of a prize on Patternreview, so I no longer had any excuses!

I have to say, they fit me pretty well! I graded up one size in waist. The crotch curve is nearly perfect... I think I might have added just 1/4 inch to the length of the crotch in the back, and taken 1/4 inch out of each of the back darts.

I made these in a stretch woven, despite the fact that the pattern calls for non-stretch. The fabric is from Imagine Gnats, their J Crew Stretch Twill. To compensate, I sewed 5/8 seams (rather than the 1/2 it is designed for) and took in a bit more from the sides. In fact, I made a mistake with the final fitting and took out too much... then I ended up ripping seams to add it back in later.

To further help control the stretch, I added stays to the front of the pant, made out of a non-stretch cotton woven. I also interfaced all parts of the front crotch, and interfaced the waistband with my favorite weft interfacing that has a bit of stretch, but not too much. I also added an extra button to the button fly-- I'm not sure it is necessary, but some curvy-er women mentioned that there was a bit of gaping for them and I thought I'd play it safe.

I love these pants, they've been in heavy rotation since I made them earlier in the month. The stretch is perfect and comfortable, and mid-high rise feels very "now." And I love the giant pockets!

Friday, January 11, 2019

Waterproof Ski and Alpine Pants: Controlled Exposure Mountain Pants in 3-Layer Goretex

I dug my custom ski bibs out of storage this weekend and took my 6-year old and 3-year old for their first ski of the year. For the 3-year old-- his first ski ever! The smile on his face as he bombed down the micro-bunny hill was priceless.

As a mom, gear matters more than ever... hanging out on the bunny hill is hard, cold work! Lots of time on my knees adjusting bindings, fixing gloves, hauling little layered bodies up to their feet... ;) Through it all I was super glad I put in the time making these bomber snow bibs, mom is a lot less grumpy when cozy and dry. 

Then I realized I never posted this! So here it is, better late than never, in case you were thinking of making your own!

January 2016

Out of the blue, my husband asked if maybe he should ask a friend to take our 5-year old skiing. 

Wait a minute, I thought. I want to take my daughter skiing! 

There was a time when skiing was a winter obsession for me, but since being pregnant and having babies, it hasn't been practical. Now that she's five... well, why not? It could be a really fun thing to do with my kids. 

Of course, gearing up to go skiing is no small task. My feet are now nearly 2 sizes larger than they were before pregnancy, so there was no way my old ski boots were going to fit.  I ski telemark, which is a small market, so renting is out of the question. I solved this problem by finding a pair of my old fave Garmont boots, used, on Ebay, 2 sizes larger than the ones I used to wear. They were about $70. I did have to eat the cost of $20 shipping from the UK. New models of comparable boots cost about $600. Crazy. 

I snuck away for a morning of skiing shortly after the boots arrived. Apparently I still remember how to ski (although I was REALLY sore the next day). 

The other revelation-- skiing in sweat pants is pretty darn miserable. 

So I was searching again for a decent pair of waterproof pants. I bought a pair of old gore-tex pants on Ebay, supposedly in my size... big mistake, they didn't even sort of fit. It became clear to me it was going to take a lot of tries to find a pair that would fit my mama physique. It also reminded me how much I HATE shopping for pants. 

When I came across the Controlled Exposure Mountain Pants pattern, I knew I would have to make my dream pants!

My skiing days have left me with very specific ideas on what makes a good ski pant. Telemark skiiers are also notoriously hard on their gear-- we spend a lot of time in a deep crouch. That means knees and insteps are always in close proximity to the edges of the skis. Telemark is also amazing in powder snow, but that light, fluffy stuff tends to work its way into every crevice, so having a high-waisted bib-style pant is a huge plus. 

My ideal pant is the Arcteryx Theta SV bib. I used to have a pair-- they were an old model when I got them, and they were always on the tight side. No way they are going to fit this mama body! I also sort of regretted the fact that they didn't have full size zips... that was probably why I got them on clearance back in the day. There is also no way I was going to buy these... they cost $549! Not to mention the fact that I'd be a M inseam, and L hip, and a XXL waist (which they don't make). 

So I dug in and committed to making my own dream pants. I purchased my fabric, the pattern, and most of the hardware and notions from Rockywoods. They sell genuine 3-layer Goretex (I used Navy) and Melco seam sealing tape. I ordered some samples of other brands of waterproof breathable laminates, but I know for a fact that 3-layer Goretex will last decades, and I'm just not sure about the durability of other brands. At $25 a yard it isn't cheap, but I will spend more on a quality coating fabric, so it isn't outrageous. The Melco seam tape is $2 a yard, which really adds up... I bought 12 yards, which was barely enough, I used every last bit. I also bought waterproof zipper tape and zipper pulls from Rockywoods for making pockets, as well as sturdy elastic (polyester webbing elastic) and low-profile adjustable buckles for the suspenders. 

I found waterproof 2-way zippers at Zpacks. A 32 inch 2-way separating waterproof zip for $9.95. I ordered two. They came promptly.

When the pattern arrived, I immediately made a muslin. I started with the Large based on my measurements, but it is a unisex pattern and I'm a comparatively short, curvy woman. I added width to the hip and narrowed and shortened the legs considerably. I reshaped the front "bib" panel to guide the straps wide around my chest. 

I didn't see why the back panel had that unsupported rise in the middle, so I just flattened it out. 

After I was satisfied with the muslin, I cut my real fabric. As this was a waterproof fabric and I didn't want to add holes, I didn't use pins. In some cases I used binder clips to hold things in place, but mostly I ended up just lining things up as I sewed. 

I sealed seams with the seam tape as I went. After sewing a seam, I trimmed the seam allowances and stitched them down, then applied tape on the inside to cover then seam allowances (Heather from Closet Case patterns demonstrates this in her tute for sewing a waterproof Kelly Anorak). I set my iron at the lowest setting that would melt the tape (which was pretty hot, it was the bottom of the steam settings), with no steam. I used the edge or tip of the iron, so that the iron wouldn't be resting on the fabric I wasn't sealing. I'd typically seal one edge of the tape first, then go back and flatten it over the seam. Around curves the tape seemed to stretch, so I didn't end up clipping curves. The 3-layer melco tape that I was using didn't appear to stick to the iron, so it was not nearly as messy as I thought it was going to be, and I didn't use any kind of press cloth or silicone sleeve-- the iron was in direct contact with the tape. Adhesion was not always perfect, I often had to go back and give it more heat, and there are places where I'm not sure that I obtained an entirely watertight seal...if they become problematic, I'll have to go back later and try to reheat the adhesive or add new pieces of tape. 
My fabric didn't show signs of distress when heat was applied, but I still tried to minimize contact with the iron in case the heat did damage the membrane in ways that were not immediately. Mostly I finger pressed seams until sealing them, and if I did have to press, I used a press-cloth. 

I added LOTS of pockets. One can never have too many pockets when skiing. Having a place for all of your small items is useful, it prevents rummaging through big pockets with bulky gloves, which leads to dropped things. The pockets are basic exposed zipper welt pockets, using watertight zippers. For some zippers I got fancy and made little zipper-sheds with a piece of folded waterproof fabric sewed into the zipper-pull end of the closed zipper. On the inside, I seam sealed the pocket opening with tape. The pocket bags are made from lightweight rip-cord nylon that I had from another project. 

I love the articulated and reinforced knees on this pattern, and the reinforced patches on the inside of the calves (to protect from ski edges). I used a gray-green waterproof breathable Cordora fabric (no longer available).

I added an internal snow gaiter... I'm pretty sure this was not part of the pattern, but it was pretty easy to improvise based on other ski pants I've owned. The side of the gaiter closes with velcro, and there is elastic and snaps at the bottom to form a tight seal around my boots. I used a non-breathable coated ripstop nylon to make the gaiters... the camo print was on super sale at Rockywoods!

The antique brass snaps came from Ebay... I just bought a big bag of them so that I could go to town. 

The best feature of these pants is the drop seat... it is so awesome not to have to take off all layers to 

Having taken these out skiing numerous times, I can report they are warm and dry. There was one ski day when I was raining and I did get a bit of leakage through one seam in particular that I thought might be problematic, so I have to reseal that one. But overall I'm really happy with them, by far the best ski pants I have ever owned.