Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Arm Candy and the Expo

I went to my first sewing Expo last week.  I realized at the last minute that I could attend the Original Sewing & Quilt Expo in Fredericksburg last Thursday.  When you know you're going to meet up with sewing enthusiasts, deciding what to wear becomes very thought out.  I decided that I wanted to make a new purse for the event.  It would need a shoulder strap, look nice, and be large enough to hold a bottle of water.  The time had come to make Vogue 8661:
Vogue 8661
I made View D and used a brown vinyl with black flowers for the front and back and black denim for the sides and straps.  Ta Da!
This bag was very quick to put together and the instructions were good.  One strange thing: the drawings show 1 zippered pocket on one (black) side.  The cutting layouts and notions list agree with that.  However, the drawings accompanying the instructions show 2 pockets one on each side.  Not a big deal, it seems more like a proofreading error.  I only put 1 side pocket in, and it's not likely that I will ever use it. I made the strap longer so I could wear it as a cross-body bag.  I modified the interior pockets to suit my needs:  2 open pockets on one side and a zippered pocket and pen holder pocket on the other. 
Instead of using cardboard to stiffen the base, I used the plastic cover from a good quality spiral notebook:
I am thrilled with my new bag, and it's inaugural use was at the Expo! There was only one class I was interested in attending that day:  Essential Tips for Fitting Yourself by Sarah Veblen.  I didn't realize when I signed up that she was the author of this fantastic fitting book that I use regularly:
The class was really interesting and it really drove home the importance of horizontal balance lines being horizontal to the ground, and drag lines pointing to fitting issues.  After the class, I jumped at the opportunity to ask Sarah about something that has been bothering me for ages: armpit wrinkles in tee shirts.  I was wearing my Vogue 8390 (now OOP) which wasn't the best example of armpit wrinkles, but she gave me some advice anyway:

Sarah noticed right away that the shoulders were too wide (which I knew,) but she also said that the armhole was too high and should be lowered.  Wrinkles in the armpit area, she said, meant that I needed a dart.  "A dart in a tee shirt?"  "Yes".  "Really?"  "Yes."  Woah!

After my quick consult with Sarah, I headed over to meet someone in the class who I recognized:  Audrey from Sew Tawdry.  If you don't already read her blog, you may recognize her from FabricMart Fabricista's Challenge 2013.  The first 2 things I noticed about Audrey were that her skin is gorgeous: glowing and flawless, and she is really tall!  I felt even shorter than normal!  It's always nice to meet sewing bloggers IRL.  They really are so nice and welcoming.  :)

Most of my time at the Expo was spent trying out new sewing machines.  I have been thinking about upgrading mine I was happy to have the opportunity to try out several different brands.  I had a feeling that the Expo would be primarily geared toward quilters and I was right.  All of the machines I tried had quilting capabilities which honestly, I do not need.  I tried out the Viking 960Q, Bernina B 560, and the Janome Horizon Memory Craft 8900QCP.  Of the 3, I liked the Janome the best.  Janome also had the best and most knowledgeable saleslady.  She was honestly a riot and I had a great time test driving the machine and chatting with her.  In the end, I decided not to buy any of them.  I'm going to focus on finding a machine without any quilting features, since they will only drive up the price, and I have no desire to pay for features I will never use. Next up:  Bras!  

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Tania Culottes: A Perfect Match

While browsing through my stash I discovered an unexpected surprise.  One of the block printed cottons I bought in India was a perfect match to the leaf green knit I used to make my Jalie 2566 cardigan.  Look!

The fabric must have been really inexpensive because I bought 4 meters of it.  Since I had so much, I could make a fabric hog like the Megan Nielsen Tania Culottes.

I made this pattern once before and loved the result:
Original Post

I made an XL an added 3" to the hem length just like last time.  It was a quick sew, I hung it up for 2 days before hemming and it was done!

Since it is essentially a circle skirt, it's very swishy!


Monday, September 29, 2014

Jalie 2566 Cardigan shirt

I have used Jalie 2566 many many times, but this is the first time I made the cardigan rather than the tee shirt. 
Jalie 2566

Let me start by saying this is more of a cardigan shirt than a cardigan that can be worn over something else.  The sizing is for a shirt worn next to the skin.  I should have realized that from the envelope photo. 


I cut a size W, graded up at the hip and did a narrow back adjustment.  I also added width to the bicep.  The bicep is still too snug, and I need more room through the bust.  Check out those drag lines!!


I used some stash fabric: a leaf green active wear knit from Fabric Mart, purchased in May 2013.  To make the buttonholes, I used a cut away stabilizer, which worked really well and made a big difference in the quality of the buttonholes. 


When I first completed this top the placket was not laying flat above the top button.  As it turns out, I didn't like up my buttons correctly and they were all sewn on almost 1" too high!  So I snipped them all off, and sewed them back on in the right spot. 


The button band lies much better, but I still wish I had more room in the front.


Sunday, September 28, 2014

I have learned something important regarding sleeves! A Denim shirt: Kwik Sew 3555

Another September make and another entry in the Fabric Stash contest.  This bit of denim has been sitting around since November waiting for me to get inspired.  I said in the title of this post that I have learned something important about sleeves.  First, I must give some background:

Almost 2 weeks ago, Mrs. Mole wrote a post about poorly fitting sleeves.  I was immediately reminded of the very nice email she sent to me in November after seeing my denim dress where my bodice adjustments forced me to take out a lot of extra sleeve cap ease.  Summarizing her email:  "Meigan, I think that you have removed too much in the sleeve cap as you have drag lines pointing to a need for more height."  She also suggested making a sleeve in gingham so I could see both the horizontal and vertical grain lines.  I was so relieved I got something wearable from the dog's dinner I made out of that dress that I wasn't too stressed.  Then the whole topic dropped out of my mind.

Fast forward to September...I made 2 woven tops (NL 6808 & NL 6407) where I unknowingly adjusted the sleeve incorrectly (again) and had sleeve caps that were not high enough. Then the topic of sleeve caps came up on her blog, and it all came rushing back.

Time to listen to the expert.  I bought gingham at Joann's and made a sleeve with lots of extra cap height for my KS 3555 per Mrs. Mole's suggestions.

You know what? Mrs. Mole was absolutely right.  I drew horizontal and vertical lines on the sleeves in marker.  Here is the sleeve cut in gingham and pinned in place as drafted.  Check it out:

Holy Cow!  Look how that horizontal line is pulled upward!!

So I unpinned the sleeve and let it drop so that the horizontal line becomes horizontal:

Horizontal line is horizontal!
Close up of Sleeve Cap
Each gingham square is 1/4" wide, so we can see that the new seam line should be 1.25" HIGHER at the top of the sleeve cap!   I did not expect it to be that much!!  Shouldn't these sleeves be drafted better???
I redrew my pattern piece adding the extra height needed at the sleeve cap.

Revised pattern piece

So I cut out my denim for my shirt using this revised sleeve.  You know what?  It fits so much better.  I have a full range of motion, and there is no pulling across my shoulder or upper arm.  Woo Hoo!!

Ok, so back to Kwik Sew 3555.  I bought this shirt to make with Craftsy's "The Classic Tailored Shirt" class.  I haven't finished watching the class, but I made this shirt anyway, because I like to (wait for it) "sew on the edge!"  (ha ha ha)  I made the long sleeve version, added a bust dart per "Fit for Real People", and added a sleeve placket from this Thread's magazine article.

On me:

 and on the dressform:

I added the bust dart for shaping and I may add darts in the back as well to remove some of the fullness.  One thing I have noticed is that the shirt is slightly snug where it hits my high hip.  I think that if I were to add a side slit, that slight pulling at the bust would go away.

So here is the important lesson I learned:  Not all sleeves are drafted well!!  When trying a new pattern, make a muslin of the sleeve in gingham.  Cut it out with lots of extra sleeve cap height, mark the grain lines, pin or baste it in, and see what happens!

For the record: I never doubted Mrs. Mole's diagnosis, I just wanted to prove it for myself.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

I love making jeans! Jalie 2908 #6!

Of all of the things I sew, I love jeans the most!  I know that every time I reach for a pair of me-made jeans, they will fit, they won't be too long, they won't stretch out over the course of the day and (I'll say it again) they fit!!!

Here is my 5th pair of Jalie 2908:

I bought the fabric last August from Harts Fabric.  It was the first and only time I saw a fabric on someone else's blog and absolutely HAD to buy some.  Katie over at The Creative Counselor, made a pair of Jedidiah Pants for her husband using this fabric.  It is a recycled hemp and organic cotton blend (found here) and I fell for it hard! 

There is no horizontal stretch in the fabric so I knew I needed to give myself more room through the hip and thigh.  I added 1/2" to the sides of the front and back pattern pieces.  Other than that, no changes other than the ones I have done in the past. 

Here are my previous pairs:

And the links:

1st version: dark denim 3% lycra
2nd: brown denim 0% lycra
3rd: medium denim 2% lycra (I strangely have no photos of these)
4th: beige denim 2% lycra (my favorites!!)
5th: Red stretch twill shorts

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

I entered...

Yes, I have been sewing up at storm this month.  So I have joined Pattern Review's Stash Contest.  I hadn't realized it was going on, nor did I plan on joining, but I might as well.  :)

Fabric Stash

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The New Classics

The last top I made was New Look 6808, and there were 65+ reviews on Pattern Review.  I have now completed New Look 6407, and there are 75+ reviews!!  These classic type of patterns with lots of positive reviews seem to be...the New Classics.  I have been thinking about the concept of 'New Classic' patterns and for me, they are my go-to patterns, the ones in which I have made several versions.

Here are my "New Classics":

Pants:  Jalie 2908 jeans (here, here, here, & here)
Plain Tee shirt: a toss up between the Renfrew and Jalie 2566 (sadly and boringly unblogged)
Fancier Tee: Butterick 5354 (here and another TBA)
Button down shirt: New Look 6407 (here)
Woven top: New Look 6808 (here)
Skirt: McCalls 3830 (versions 1-3 here)
Swimsuit:  Jalie 3023 tankini.  (made here, here Day 31 of MMM'13, and here)

So tell me, what are your 'New Classic' patterns?


At long last: the HP Marrakesh Drawstring Pants

This pattern is quite possibly the oldest unmade one in my stash.  Seriously, I ordered it on March 6th, 2011.  That is 3.5 years spent unmade.  Sigh.  It was also my first indie pattern purchase.  

While still living in India, I purchased some gorgeous white linen in order to make these pants.  I ultimately decided against making them because the water (undrinkable and non-chlorinated) would turn your whites gray.  Our white bath towels became very dingy and I didn't want the same thing to happen to my white linen.  And so the pattern lingered and lingered...until now.


I used a gray stretch suede-like mystery fabric.  It does not press well so I imagine there is a high polyester content.  In any case they are smooth on the inside and fuzzy on the outside.  

I made a size 16 and then took in the waist over an inch at the center back seam.  They are also drafted to be very long...~34" inseam.  I hemmed mine at 28"!

I added 1" to the CB seam to accommodate my pear shape.  I think the crotch curve should be lowered a little bit, it is a little too high for trousers.

The construction was not without drama.  I made 2 goofs on the waistband.

#1: I cut the front waistband too short:
#2: I put the buttonhole on the right front waistband vertically thinking it was for the drawstring...nope, it's for a button.  And I didn't make the vertical buttonhole for the drawstring at all.

A little cutting and piecing later, it was fixed:

I did the same thing to the right front waistband: cut off the vertical buttonhole, added a new piece (I lined the seam up with the fly topstitching), added the vertical drawstring buttonhole where it needed to be and made a horizontal buttonhole at the center front.

The drawstring is a elastic/fabric combination.  The elastic is hidden in the waistband, and the fabric ties come out the front.  The fabric ends are too wide and too short, which makes them both bulky and difficult to tie.  I plan on sewing the elastic in permanently and chopping off the fabric ties.  I don't need a big lump on my stomach from bulky drawstrings. 

Other changes I made were to topstitch the side seams from waist to hem to help the seams lay flatter.  My fabric was rather springy and didn't press well.  I also skipped top-stitching the pockets down.  I thought this would look too casual and wanted to keep my elastic waist pants as classy as possible ;)

The legs were very wide which made me look very wide and like I was swimming in fabric.  I tapered the legs in 1" on both the out-seam and inseam from the knee down.  The legs are still plenty wide but much more flattering this way.

This has turned out to be a comfortable and nice looking pair of pants.  I approve. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Fall Essentials Sew Along: FESA

Sarah over at Rhinestones and Telephones is hosting the Fall Essentials Sew Along (FESA).  I am joining in!

The categories are:

1.  Fashionable Foundations for Frosty Weather : bottoms, trousers, skirts, jeans, etc
2.  Chic Chemises for Cool Climates: blouses, tops, cardigans, sweaters
3.  Fabulous Frocks: any type of dress
4.  Underneath It All: underwear, bra
5.  Tender Tootsies (no plans to make socks)
6.  Those Cozy Nights: pajamas
7.  Baby It's Cold Outside:  Outerwear, hats, mittens

Here are my plans so far:

  • The green Jalie 2566 cardigan didn't come out wonderfully so I have been procrastinating writing about it. 
  • The white Butterick 5354, is complete, and I got a coffee stain on it the first time I wore it...arrgh! 
  • The Kwik Sew 3555 is compete with the exception of sewing buttons on. 
  • I may also make a long sleeve tee shirt or two using the top portion of the Lady Skater Dress. 

  • The Marrakesh pants are finished and just awaiting their blog post.
  • I have some caramel colored twill that may become the Thurlows,
  • I have some gray denim that will become a new pair of Jalie 2908 jeans.
  • Skirt fabric is undecided
Ah coats...I love coats!  There are too many coats and too little time.  I may begin with the McCall's 6800 in a beige & gray coating fabric.  I have ordered some navy wool suiting for the Vogue 8333.  That one will be a labor of love for sure. 
Remaining Categories:

  • I will make some pajama bottoms with some bright green jersey knit that has been sitting in my stash for a while. 
  • I probably won't make any dresses. 
  • I won't make socks.
  • Bras or underwear....maybe.  I have been wanting to learn to make bras for a while now.  I may get around to it.
So there it is!  My big FESA plans :)
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