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!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Halloween 2015: Part 2 Cleopatra

Next up in my 3 part Halloween set is Cleopatra, made from McCall's 7122.  (McCalls was having a sale when I was looking for patterns).  This is a woman's pattern which I made for my almost 11 year old (who will likely be taller than me in the next year to 18 months.)  I made an XS, and made 3/4 length sleeves.

Cleopatra's outfit is all about embellishment.  I used a sparkly turquoise & gold woven that I purchased in India to make the neck...dickey? gaiter? collar.  I fused some stiff interfacing to the wrong side, cut my circle based on my daughter's shoulder width, and neck circumference.  I did a rolled hem on my serger to finish the edges.  There are 2 snaps on the back to hold it into place.

Queens are all about gold too, so I used some gold lame one-way stretch knit for the belt, and arm bands.  They were all so simple, I'm not going to waste time explaining what I did to make them. Cut, stitch, adjust size, and sew on velcro.  Pretty easy to figure out.

The dress is a simple raglan sleeve dress with a neck band.  It is a "Learn to Sew for Fun" pattern geared for the beginner.  It was simple and quick to sew up and could easily be made into a raglan tee shirt.  I used a white cotton jersey fabric.

McCalls 7122

Line Drawings

Quite Possibly the Cutest Thing I Have Ever Made

Yes, you read that correctly.  This is it:

Yes, I made an R2-D2 Bag.  My Princess Leia needed some more accessories for her Halloween costume, and perusing Pinterest, I saw some cute ideas.  This was my result.  What's better than Leia carrying around her loyal droid and having him hold her candy?  Nothing!  I used black flannel from my stash for the bag itself, felt for the white, shiny silver/gray vinyl for the rounded part and metallic bits on the body.  The blue was from my own costume, and the red was a tiny bit of felt.  Glue did not work, so everything was stitched on :)

Here is the Princess in her Ceremonial Dress (End of Episode IV: A New Hope)

I used a simple pattern, McCall's 6098 for the dress and improvised the sheer cape by draping and pinning.  The belt was shiny silver/gray vinyl and so was the necklace.  

McCall's 6098
This is a "1 Hour Dress" pattern, and that was pretty accurate.  I lengthened the sleeves since it is October, and a little chilly here in Virginia, and lengthened the dress too.  Easy peasy.  There is a neck facing and a keyhole opening in the back.  Very simple for beginners.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Halloween is Coming!

Halloween is on its way and I have been busy sewing three, yes 3 costumes.  One for each of my daughters, and one for ME!!  Here is a little tease of what is to come:



Plus This
Equals: My Costume!  It should be finished in the next few days!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

I am going to Fredericksburg tomorrow!

I will be attending the Original Sewing & Quilt Expo in Fredericksburg, VA tomorrow.  I delayed signing up for classes because my in-laws were supposed to be visiting this weekend, and I didn't think I'd be able to attend.  Their plans changed, and by the time I did sign up, the classes I really wanted were sold out, but I was able to sign up for 2 others:  Follow the Lines to Great Fitting Pants, and Perfect Fitting Tee...and Sew Much More.  

So if anyone is going to be there tomorrow, look for me!  
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