Sunday, May 15, 2016

Endless Combinations!!

Hello! I have been sewing like mad!  When I discovered that Hancock Fabrics was going out of business, I went a little nuts buying fabric.  By "a little nuts", I mean a little more than a little.  ;)

I started sewing up my new-found stash and then discovered the Endless Combinations Contest going on at Pattern Review.  It was fate I tell you!!

Let me describe my entries in the following ways:
1.  Using cool fabric
2.  Replicating a cool pattern envelope photo
3.  Replicating a long gone and memories-attached jacket

First up. A skirt made from a blue/white/navy/green swirly ITY knit.  I used the trusty McCall's 6654:

Cool fabric isn't it??  Since the going out of business sale at Hancocks had 2 yard minimum cuts, I had plenty left over for a top to match.  Enter Vogue 8390:

My previous version of this pattern was in a brown knit and I still love it (but it did need some tweaks):

When the 2 pieces are worn together, it looks like a dress:

On a side note, I have started running...and apparently my waist has returned!!

Part 2 of my thoughts for this contest was replicating the Jalie Eleonore pattern cover.  In particular, the light blue capris and the striped top:

Jalie Eleonore Jeans

The model seemed so springy, cool and comfortable.  It is very unlike me to copy a pattern photo, but it happened this time.  I even bought similar shoes!!  

My attempt at the cover pose

I did a split hem on these, using this excellent tutorial from pattern~scissors~cloth.

The top was a new pattern: New Look 6384.   Let me tell you that the top runs big.  I cut a large and should have done a medium.  The neckline was both low and wide.  I took in the shoulder seams and also the center front.  The fabric was a white striped interlock knit which I used on this dress:
McCall's 6886 blogged here

I am not a big fan of interlock knit mostly because it has poor recovery.  My neckline was a wavy mess when I finished it:

I was industrious and used some stretch thread which I ran through the channeling made by the neck binding.  I did not follow the pattern instructions, but used Jalie's method of using a skinny binding. Here is a great tutorial to show how it's done.  Once the elastic thread was inside the casing, it was almost gathered.  After ironing, however, it came out perfect!  Quite the save!!

So my pattern envelope re-enactment was finished and last up was replicating a long gone and memories-attached jacket.  Back when I was 18, I was an exchange student in France (Western Brittany).  At some point during my year long stay, I purchased a white Gap jean jacket from the Kilo Shop, where everything is sold by the kilo.  I remember the jacket being a bit too big, and I remember adding velcro to the inner pockets to prevent pick-pocketing during my travels (I was really paranoid about theives).  I have fond memories of that jacket including learning that the French word for velcro was "velcro".  So when I needed something to create Endless Combinations, a white jean jacket would be perfect.

I used Butterick 5616 from my stash:
Butterick 5616

Most reviewers mentioned the pattern being boxy, which is something I meant to minimize, if not eliminate.  I wisely made a muslin and did the following changes:

1.       I tapered the center back piece to narrow at the waist.  As drafted there was about a 2” difference between the finished bust and finished waist measurement…boxy indeed!
2.       I did a swayback adjustment, taking a ~1” fisheye dart across the back & side back pieces, tapering to nothing at the side seam.
3.       I did a slight FBA adding 3/8” to the bust at the side front.
4.       Below the bust I shaved off ~ ¼ ”on the seam to fit closer to the stomach.
5.       From my muslin, I discovered that the shoulders were very wide.  I narrowed them about 5/8”.
6.       I lengthened the sleeves from ¾ length to full length.
7.       I made the sleeve cuff narrower to match the lower band and used 1 button instead of 3
8.       I added ¼” twill tape along the collar to stabilize it. 
9.       I added interior pockets to the front pieces (you must have interior pockets to thwart pickpockets!!)
10.   I added a coat hanging loop.

I had JUST enough fabric for this jacket.  This is all that was left:
"Big" Scraps

"little" scraps

I am very happy with how it turned out.  I did made a bit of a goof-up however.  The sleeves & cuffs were designed to be 3/4 length and ending at the forearm.  I made the sleeves full length, but I forgot to taper them both down to be wrist size.  I realized my error after the cuffs were attached and topstitched.  Sigh...   So I put the button on ~2" from the edge of the cuff to make them a more sensible size.  

My Endless Combinations were complete.  Here is my collage:

It is a great assortment of outfits, and I am very pleased with how they turned out.  

Mid-April I was able to tag along when my husband had to go to Miami for work.  Here is a photo of me on South Beach, all cool and windblown:

Friday, February 19, 2016

Eleonore, je t'adore!

Lets start by stating the obvious: I love Jalie patterns!  27 sizes in each pattern, great directions, clever construction, and modern wearable designs.  My latest Jalie creation is the Eleonore pull on jeans (#3461)

Jalie 3461

I started by tracing a size Z and then compared the pattern pieces of the Eleonore jeans to my beloved Jalie 2908 which I have made several times.  I needed to add quite a bit to the hip area of the Eleonore since the widest part of my hip is lower than the pattern's.  I also shortened the leg at the knee since I am 5'-2" tall.  I then added length back to the bottom of leg to be sure they would be plenty long.

I made a muslin out of some low stretch cheap knit and one thing was clear right away...I needed to raise the back up quite a bit, the yoke was barely covering my butt!  (I skipped the waistband on the muslin).  I lengthened the back crotch length up 1.5" at the center back tapering to nothing at the side seams.  I then made the yoke more curved so that it would come in where I curve in. 

My fabric was a thin stretch denim with 3% lycra.  I used it previously on this dress, and had plenty leftover.


Front view (complete with odd facial expressions):

I have only done a temporary hem at this point so that I can decide exactly how long I want them and allow for any future shrinkage before committing to a length.

Side view:  You can see that is a good place for the back waistband to sit.  (Everything is covered!!)

I do need a little more room across the front of the thigh.  You can see diagonal wrinkles pointing to the front of my (athletic) thigh.  

Based on the excellent review by Manju of the Eleonore jeans, I compared the pocket size of the Eleonore pattern to my Jalie 2908 jeans...and the pockets of the 2908 were larger so I used those.  Since I made adjustments to the back, I needed to check the location of the back pockets.  For the first time ever, I entirely basted the jeans together so that I could try them on before determining the best location for the pockets.  Smart move:

Based on Manju's advice, I also tightened up the elastic on the back waistband.  The instructions tell you to cut the elastic the exact length of the waistband.  I cut it 1" shorter and stretched it to fit.  That was another wise move, although I could have made the elastic even shorter.


I am very please with how these turned out, and I anticipate making more in the future.

I would like to thank everyone for the kind words, comments, & messages of sympathy about the loss of my dad.  I truly appreciate it.  

Sunday, January 17, 2016

2016: Not the best start

Friends, 2016 has not been off to a good start.  We had some sadness in our family as my dad died on January 6th.  He had been in the hospital for the last 2 weeks of 2015 and was showing some improvement and was moved to a rehab facility.  Last Wednesday night, he stopped breathing. 

My blogging had been pretty poor last year and right now, I don't feel up to it.  Let me sign off with a photo of my Dad & I when I was about 8 that we took in one of those Old Time Photo Booths:

Friday, November 20, 2015

McCall's 6886: 2 Versions of the popular knit dress

There are over 75 reviews on Pattern Review for McCall's 6886: a close fitting knit dress with neckline variations. I wasn't sure how this would work on me and my pear shape, but I thought I'd give it a try anyway.  My first version was done in black ponte.  I cut a 14 in the shoulders and did a 1.25"  FBA adding a bust dart.  I also did a 1" swayback adjustment. My result wasn't bad.  I had graded up to a 16/18 at the waist and a 20 at the hip.  It was very big.  I took about 3/4" off each side from the waist down to the hip.  (That was very surprising for me).  There was still a lot of pooling in my lower back, so I wound up making 2 back darts to take up the excess fabric.
Here is the front view:  I don't look like a giant pear!

Side view: not bad

Side view of bust dart.  Looks like I need a slightly larger FBA

Back view:  (I really need to work on standing up straight and not dropping my right shoulder).  You cans see the back darts I made to eliminate the excess fabric at the back.

The black dress came out pretty well, but I thought I should try again right away.  Version 2 was made with a very stretchy striped knit (it must be interlock or double knit because it is exactly the same on both sides) purchased at my local Hancock Fabrics in the clearance section.   For this version I made an even bigger swayback adjustment and skipped the bust dart and did a cheater FBA by grading out at the bust.  I lined the front and back with an ivory nylon tricot.  I love the feeling that the lining gives, it's very sleek and smooth on the skin.  It also adds stability to the stretchy knit.

My hem looks a little funny in these photos.  I hemmed the lining together with the knit.  The problem that I discovered is that the knit stretches vertically but the lining does not.  I may cut the lining loose and leave it unhemmed.

The back view is pretty good, no darts, and no real pooling. :)

I had trouble following the instructions included in the pattern but I found this great video from Jalie:

Closeup of the V neck.  

 There was one flaw in the fabric...look where it wound up: on my right side, a few stripes up from the bottom of the V.  Sigh.

In the interest of full disclosure, I had to do some finagling around the bust.  I had initially thought to do some slight gathers along the bust at the side seams, (like Vogue 8536) but it was ridiculous with this fabric, and I needed to remove the sleeves and re-do the underarm and lower front armhole area.  After some trimming and basting it turned out ok.

I wore it out with a red scarf and a denim jacket.  My daughter said all I needed was a beret to look really French!  :)

In summary, I really like this pattern.  It does work on pear shapes.  It was drafted roomier than I expected through the waist and hip and it was a nice ego boost to have to take it in in those areas!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Jalie 2682: V neck top...another winner!

My love for Jalie patterns continues.  This time I made Jalie 2682, the V neck top.  

Jalie 2682

This pattern was voted a "Best Pattern of 2007" and for 2008 on Pattern Review.  I agree, the pattern is very good.  The best part about is the clever construction of the front bodice.  I made the version without the zipper.  2 front bodices are cut on the fold.  They are then sewn right sides together from a pattern mark to the bottom of the bodice.  The 2 pieces are folded in half with the seam at the center forming the seam below the V.  One piece becomes the left side of the bodice, and the other is the right.  Here is the link for the instructions.  This method creates a fully lined front bodice and the neckline edge is the folded edge of the bodice piece so no finishing is needed!!  

Here is my version.  I used a springy textured knit purchased from the Vogue Fabric booth at the Original Sewing & Quilt Expo in Fredericksburg, VA.  I searched for the same fabric on their website, but didn't find anything close to it.  

After seeing this photo, I describe the expression on my face as my "Erica Bunker" face.  She always seems to wear the same expression in her photos.  This is a good example.  What do you think?

Here is a Meigan face:

I adjusted the pattern to make the shoulders and upper back narrower, which is a normal adjustment for me.  I should have made it even narrower as you can see from the back view.  The sleeves are very long on Jalie patterns which is nice for a long sleeve winter top.

Here is a closeup of the fabulous neckline:

Side view: the seaming on this top made a swayback adjustment very easy!

As a side note, the gray pants I am wearing are my non-stretch organic cotton/hemp Jalie 2908 jeans, blogged here.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

I will do what Queens do, I will Rule! My Daenerys Targaryen Halloween Costume

This summer my husband and I binge-watched Game of Thrones.  It is a great show with amazing costumes.  Out of all of the seemingly zillions of characters on the show, Daenerys Targaryen has the best outfits.  When I saw her blue dress I actually said aloud to my husband "Wow, she has amazing costumes."  I rarely am so moved by costuming.

The color is gorgeous, and the wrap skirt and contrast details on the bodice are all amazing.  

Simplicity has come out with some impressive costume patterns lately and having a pattern for this dress made me jump at the chance to make it.  It was #1246, and then was re-issued as #1008 (so weird!) What's even weirder is that the color of the dress changed; on my pattern (#1246) the dress was blue, on #1008, the dress has changed to green!

Simplicity 1008/1246
I had some adventures in purchasing fabric for this costume.  I was in New York City at the end of August, and had a little bit of time to myself, and I headed to Mood Fabrics!  It was my first visit, and wow, it was huge!  and awesome!  I quickly found some beautiful blue textured fabric that I thought would work well.  I pulled out the roll and had 2 yards cut.  (At the time, I had only planned on making the dress, not the cape).  After cutting, I said "how much is that?"  (I couldn't pull the price tag out from the center of the roll...can you guess where this is heading?)  It is $25/yard.  GULP!!   Oh Crap!  I am going to spend $50 on fabric for a costume!!  That is the most expensive fabric I have ever purchased!  (Facepalm) Had I known beforehand, I would have kept looking for something else to use.

Because of its cost, that beautiful blue fabric became much to valuable to use for a Halloween costume; I simply couldn't degrade it by making it into a costume (even a cool costume like this one).  It has been regaled to the "save it for something special" pile, and I began my search for another option.  Fast forward to the Original Sewing & Quilt Expo I attended in Fredericksburg, VA.  I found some blue suede-like fabric at the Vogue Fabric booth and bought 2 yards for my costume. I was happy for a while, but then I thought...I should really make the cape too; it will be chilly on Halloween and I won't be happy outdoors in short sleeves.  Besides, Daenerys has a cape, so I need a cape too.  Of course, I didn't buy enough fabric at the Expo to make the cape, only enough for the dress.  So...I went to Jo-Anns looking for fabric for the cape, or at worst case, the dress & cape.  Sure enough, I found the perfect color blue fabric in a mysterious cotton/poly blend called "Sportswear."  It was about $4/yard, and I bought 6 yards.  I spent a small fortune on fabric only to have most of it still sitting in my stash...Sigh...

Enough about the issues, let's check out the final outfit!

I made the bodice in a size 14 with a 1.25" FBA.  This added a side bust dart, but I was fine with that; I'd much rather have it fit well than be precisely like the original.

The original dress had handsewn dragonscale to add texture.  (Check out this site for this and some other amazing costume work on GoT) That was simply not an option for me to do.  I did want to add some sort of subtle embellishment.  The bodice bands and sleeves got some texture by using a fancy stitch on my new Pfaff.  Here is a closeup of the sleeves:

I did row after row after row of the design on both the sleeves and the front bodice bands (#65 on my Pfaff Expression 3.5 if you are curious) using navy blue thread to provide contrast.  I love how it came out.   

The bodice bands gave me some headaches. I knew that by doing an FBA the front bands would lay differently on the bodice.  I cut them extra long to make sure they could reach the side seams.  Unfortunately, they needed more curvature as well.  I had a heck of a time trying to get the bands to follow the curved bottom edge of the bodice.  I initially attached the bands in the location where they wanted to naturally fall.  DON'T DO THIS! It looks stupid.  Seriously, seriously stupid.  I won't hurt your eyes by showing you the photos.  

Here are some more details: 
The bands continue around the back of the dress and are tied together using either grommets or eyelets.  I didn't have any grommets so I used the cool eyelet feature on my machine.  I used thin leather jewelry making cord for the ties.  

Back view:
Another front view:

Here is the cape:

The lining of the cape was a textured off white "value" suiting fabric from Hancock Fabrics.  It was under $5/yard.  Making the cape was very straightforward and simple.  I made a size 14.

I love how this costume came out.  The gray pants were RTW running tights and I made boot covers/gaiters using this tutorial and finishing them with invisible zippers and some elastic under the arch of my shoe.  For the necklace, I bought a coat toggle in the button section of Joanns, drilled a small hole near the thick end, and threaded my thin leather jewelry cord through it.

I had such a great Halloween, I felt fabulously glamorous and Queen-like!

Happy Halloween!
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