Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Two Days, Two Finishes

This summer is turning out to be very hectic, particularly July. Two family reunions and a wedding have combined to eat up every weekend of the month. In between, I've been spending countless hours outside working on various gardening chores. Gardening is one of those things that always starts well in the spring, but I quickly lose motivation to keep up with it when the temperature starts to rise. Seriously, it's about a million degrees outside now, and I really have to force myself to get out there. Afterward, I'm hot, miserable, and sore all over... not exactly prime time to be sewing.

I figured that an easy knit top would be a good thing to work on. I decided to try a different view of M6326. Not too many pieces, and nearly instant gratification, right? That's how it was last time, when I made view D, but not this time. No... this time, I promptly sewed the upper back to the *bottom* of the upper front. Naturally, I was using the tiny zig-zag stitch for knits on my machine, which is extremely difficult to rip out.

Lesson: Do NOT try to sew anything when you are tired and everything hurts from gardening.

After some serious un-sewing, things got back on track pretty quickly. I was making View C, the one with the twist top. The only problem with the pattern as designed is the keyhole opening below the twist-- it's WAY too low as designed. I sewed it up a bit, but went too far and now you can't really see the opening when it's worn. The fabric probably looks familiar. That is because it's left over from the dress that I recently finished.

I finished this yesterday, and promptly wore it out to run some errands. It's a cute top, but it doesn't wear nearly as well as view D. The twist top isn't very comfortable in really hot weather, and the back rides down just a bit, which is a problem if you're wearing a strapless bra with it (I was). I had already taken the top in quite a bit before wearing it, but it still slides a bit.

Today's finish was McCall's 5391, the shorts that I started a week or so ago. I wasn't able to finish them because I ran out of thread for the topstitching. I finally remembered to pick some up, and it didn't take long to finish these. They were supposed to be View B, the cuffed version with the tabs, but I cut them off too short before hemming and decided not to cuff them.

This is a lousy picture, but I can't get the stupid remote to work on my camera, and I was too lazy to try to put shorts on Wilma. So, there they are... flat on the cutting table. At any rate, I really like the shorts. I'm not crazy about the fabric (left over from last year's pants), but these were really intended as a wearable muslin. I wasn't too eager to buy fabric for shorts until I was sure I had a pattern that worked for me.

I liked this pattern much better than the previous one I used (McCall's 5857). The waist band sits lower, but not too low. The fit of this pair is much closer to my favorite RTW shorts-- a pair from Lord & Taylor that I bought out of desperation because I couldn't find any shorts to fit me and I hadn't yet found a shorts pattern that worked for me. Now that I've tried this pattern, I'll definitely be making more of these.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Finally Finished

I don't know what it is about hemming/finishing that I dislike so badly, but it seems like I'll do nearly anything to avoid it. Take New Look 6429, for example. I'm not going to tell you exactly how long it hung in my sewing room waiting for the finishing touches. Let's just say it has been there for a while. The worst part is that it's sleeveless and required a narrow hem around the armscye. I probably should have just put sleeves on this dress. I would have been able to wear it sooner. Oh, well. It's done now.

The pattern is New Look 6429. I selected it for the princess seams and interesting back detailing. I didn't take a photo, but the back bodice goes down into a little "v" shape where it joins the skirt. The princess seaming provides wonderful shaping and the pattern is very well drafted, making it exceptionally easy to put together.

The only trouble I had with this dress (other than my own procrastination), was the facings. They don't want to lay properly. I'm sure the problem is with the fabric & interfacing that I used, and not the pattern. I doubt anyone other than me will notice, but the neckline wants to roll outward just a bit.

My latest pair of shorts are nearly finished, but I've run out of thread for topstitching. They're meant as a wearable muslin. So far, they seem to be turning out pretty well. The fit is nice and, most importantly, the waistline isn't too high. I'll probably pick up some more suitable fabric for another pair soon.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

New Projects, Old Projects

Nearly two years ago, I took a sock knitting class at a local yarn shop. I loved it, and a new addiction was born. I learned to knit as a kid but was never really "into" it... until I found socks. That first pair was pretty plain, knitted using a very forgiving sport weight sock yarn and size 4 or 5 needles.

The ultra-boring 2 x 2 rib pattern and larger size needles kept things simple so that we could learn the basic principles of sock knitting. And learn them I did! :) The moment that first pair was finished, I immediately purchased more yarn, plus a couple of basic sock-knitting books. More yarn came home, and soon my laptop had multiple folders devoted to sock patterns that I had collected online. When I'm not sewing, or stitching, or gardening, or weaving baskets, or any of the other thousand things that I love to do, I'm knitting socks. But like so many things, I usually forget to take pictures. So, here are just a few that I've made in the last year...

A few days ago, I visited the local yarn shop to look for some of my favorite sock yarn (Bamboobaa, if you're wondering). I picked up these lovelies and, of course, promptly started knitting yet another pair of socks.

On the sewing front, I'm working on a new pair of shorts from McCall's 5391. I picked up the pattern during one of the recent pattern sales at Joann. It's similar to the last pair I made (McCall's 5857), but the waist isn't so high and I was able to purchase the pattern in the correct size. So far, these seem to be working better than the other pattern. The fabric is left over from a pair of pants that I made last year. It's not the fabric I would choose, but it was good for a first run of this pattern.

Some good news about that last pair of shorts I made-- they're not as bad as I first thought. They aren't good... the waist is way too high and gives a definite "mom jeans" vibe... but they work well with some of my summer tops that aren't worn tucked in. The great news is that they are really comfortable to wear. So, I guess they weren't a tragic fail after all. I still won't be making that pattern again, though.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Catching up...

Once again, I've been remiss in updating my blog. I have good intentions. Really, I do... but alas, I suffer from really poor follow-through. Again, my excuse is pictures and the fact that I can't seem to get the remote for my camera to work. Because I'm too lazy to figure out what's wrong, or just take the pictures using the timer, I've decided to renew Wilma's modelling contract. These clothes... the ones that turned out, anyway... look much better on a real person than they do on Wilma, but it's the best I can do at the moment.

First up, Butterick 4789, the Maggie London twist top dress that so many have sewn. When I brought home this fabric (from the "red tag" section at Joann's), BF informed me that it looked like the seat cover for a 1975 Chevy Nova. But even he grudgingly admits that he likes this dress. The fit is just perfect, particularly at the neckline, and it has fisheye darts in the back for shaping. All in all, very flattering!

Next we have McCall's 6326. I can't tell you how much I love this top. It's sooooo comfortable and easy to wear, and so much nicer than a t-shirt. If it wasn't such a distinctive style, I'd probably make a bunch of these. As it is, I plan to try one of the other views. I even have the fabric picked out. Unfortunately, what I *don't* have is the pattern. Somehow, I have misplaced it. I'm sure it will turn up again... these things always do. I just hope it's still summer when it happens. I'd hate to have to wear one of these with a winter coat. LOL

Last, and most certainly LEAST, is Vogue 8032. I love the design. Unfortunately, the finished top leaves much to be desired. The armscye on this is drafted so low that it was practically at my knees. Okay, that may be a slight exaggeration, but you get the idea. I tried a couple of different fixes, none of which fixed it enough to make it wearable. Someone on PatternReview had an excellent idea about adding contrast fabric to raise the armscye and treat it as a design feature. I just might try that... but probably not soon. Another member suggessted wearing it under a jacket, also a good idea and will probably save this from the trash bin in the end. I love the fabric, so finding some way to wear this would be nice.

And in case you're wondering how bad the armscye still looks after my attempts to fix it...

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Better than expected

There has been more sewing than blog posting lately. Mostly, that is because I'm soooo lazy about taking pictures, and the remote for my camera isn't working as it should, meaning that if I'm going to get any photos, I need to find someone else to take them. I hate to bother BF with it, so until the cats learn to use a camera, we'll just have to settle for Wilma as model.

One as yet unposted finish is Simplicity 2936, a button-front top with raglan sleeves. This pattern has languished in my stash for AGES because, well... the photos are decidedly unappealing. So bad, in fact, that every time I pulled this pattern out I couldn't begin to figure out why I had purchased it. The photo gives it a decidedly "home made" look that made me think more of a craft project than a custom-created garment. Really not my style at all, and something that I'm afraid of accidentally creating. Those of you who sew can probably relate to this. LOL

After giving the technical drawings a closer look, I decided to give the pattern a chance. It had nice shaping, courtesy of tucks in the front and back, and the raglan sleeves are great. I went with the non-collared view and decided against adding trim (though I did purchase some and may add it later).

Everything went together perfectly, and the tucks provided an opportunity to get a perfect fit through the waist. I loved the results and will probably make this again soon, in white. My ONLY complaint is the fabric that I chose. I used a cotton sateen. It would have been great for a different top, just not this one. It wrinkles badly in the wash, and the sleeves of this top are very difficult to iron properly. I've also had a hard time getting the neckline ironed just right. It was great when I first completed the top, but since washing.... well... just take a look at the photo, and you'll see what I mean.

Other than the issues with ironing, I was pleasantly surprised by this top. The full review is here.

Friday, May 06, 2011

M5857... and a lack of clothes

I've mostly been quiet about it, but... I've lost weight. Quite a bit of it, in fact. I felt like I was too heavy FOR ME and finally decided to do something about it at the end of July 2010. I'll admit, I was skeptical, not expecting much results. I have no will power and LOVE to eat, after all. Much to my surprise, it worked. Great news, but now, the warm weather is upon us again and I have no clothes. Literally. Until two days ago, I didn't even own a t-shirt in my current size. I'm at a point with my sewing where I'd prefer to make clothes rather than buy them, but there are only so many hours in a day for sewing, and I'm kind of slow. I purchased a couple pairs of capri pants and a few tops as a start, but I'm trying to fill in the rest of my wardrobe with my own creations as much as possible.

This brings me to M5857, Misses' Shorts in 4 Lengths. I really need shorts for summer, and had great hopes of this pattern turning into a TNT. Sadly, that was not the case. For starters, I have the wrong size pattern (purchased when I needed a larger size). I took it in quite a bit all over, which helped, but I think it created some problems with the pockets. The pattern is now OOP, so re-purchasing in the correct size wasn't an option.

Even if I had the right size pattern to start with, I don't think it would have helped all that much. The waistband of these shorts is just too high for me, sitting just above my natural waist. This gives a decidedly unflattering look to the shorts, giving an odd "3 months pregnant" sort of look, which is only acceptable if one is indeed pregnant. I'm not. I also felt like it would have been much better with a 2-piece, curved waistband. It would have made fit adjustments in the waist a lot easier, and I think the fit would have been more flattering.

The pockets don't lay perfectly flat. I think this is due to my down-sizing of the pattern. I didn't really do much adjustment for the pockets, and I think I should have. In all honestly, I could have taken the shorts apart and fixed it, but it's fairly minor, and I just don't like these well enough to spend any more time on them.

I will wear these, partly because they are my ONLY pair of shorts at the moment. I'll never love them, but they'll be okay if I don't tuck my shirt into them.

The full pattern review is here.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

NL6807 Revisited

This time, I have a really good excuse for my lapse in blog updates. I was on vacation! There were all the usual vacation preps (including some sewing mishaps), followed by the actual trip, and ending with the multi-day "vacation hangover" that is always waiting at home after being away. You know what I mean-- all the stuff that needs to be unpacked, laundered, etc., plus a pack of animals demanding attention.

I should have more sewing to share, but at the moment, all I can report on is New Look 6807. It's a top that I've made before, with good results, so I decided to try it again. There were a few bumps in the road this time, mostly caused by the fabric (I think). The fabric in question is a knit that I picked up on the sale table at Wal-Mart a couple of years ago. It's very thin, and very stretchy, but it was surprisingly easy to work with. And yet, there were issues...

Having made this top before, I knew that it runs large. Very large. I also knew that the neck band was just narrow enough to make it a bit of a pain to sew on, so I decided to widen it a little. The trouble started after gathering the front and back, and sewing on the band. All was well; it fit together perfectly... and then I pressed the band before sewing it down. It seemed normal until I tried it on. The neck was HUGE, and I had lost all of my gathers. All I can think is that the steam on the iron caused the whole thing (neckband and all) to stretch out horribly.

I fixed the front by adding an inverted pleat in the center, turning it into a "design feature". I very carefully sewed it in place by hand, making sure that everything aligned perfectly, in order to avoid removing the neckband. This fabric is so thin that I was able to get away with this without adding a lot of bulk. Next, I took a wedge out of the center back seam. (Note: this top is supposed to have a tie back, which I've eliminated on both versions that I made.) After these adjustments, the back neck was still a bit saggy. Not a lot, but it was enough to really bother me. I couldn't really afford to take it in any further at the CB seam without encountering bust fitting issues, so I simply inserted a piece of 1/4" elastic inside the back neck binding. Worked like a charm. :)

I have another not-yet-reviewed top that made the trip, but I never got a chance to wear it, so I'm waiting until I have photos. I also hoped to take a new dress and another top, but that was not to be. I messed up the hem on the dress (Lesson: do not try to sew at the 11th hour the night before leaving on vacation, when you are most certainly tired), and the top had buttonhole issues. I'm getting a real backlog of projects that need to be photographed and reviewed. I hope to get to them soon, but life keeps getting in the way. *sigh*

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Bad Blogger

Every time I sign-in to update my blog, I'm surprised by how long it has been since my last post. It never feels like it has been so long, but the dates don't lie. Why is it that the weeks and months are passing by so fast? Maybe it's because there are too many things happening at once. The arrival of spring only makes it worse. Now I'm trying to balance my time between planting and yardwork, all of the sewing/stitching/knitting/etc. that I want to do, plus all of the regular stuff around the house. And now, on top of all of that, I'm trying to ready my condo for sale, while living nearly 100 miles away. I guess it's no wonder that the days are going by in a blur, while I'm not spending much time online.

At any rate, I have been sewing. I finished two tops yesterday. I don't have photos of either one yet, so those will come in a later post. I've also finished this skirt. Sorry there's no pic of me wearing this one. Believe it or not, I didn't have a single top to go with it. Well, none that fit, anyway. I fixed that with a quick shopping trip yesterday, but no updated photos... yet.

The pattern is B4461, a simple a-line skirt with facings and back zipper. The pattern shows six variations-- all the same skirt, but with different trim options. I decided against any trim or embellishment since the fabric is so busy. I tend not to add trim to most things. I see lots of other sewists who have a real flair for choosing embellishments, but I don't trust my own judgement enough to do it myself. I'm always afraid that I'll end up with something that looks like "Crafters Gone Wild" rather than a stylish garment. That is probably due to the memory of some of the clothes that my mother sewed for me as a child. Her sewing skills were wonderful, but too often, the results were just too different from the clothes other children were wearing... and I just wanted to fit in.

At any rate, I love the results I got from this pattern. I wanted something very simple, so that I could really show off the fabric, and this pattern was exactly the right thing. (I really need to take another photo-- the fabric is a much brighter blue than shown here. It really "pops" in real life.) As an added bonus, it is really fast to make, since it is so ridiculously simple. The only issue I had was the length. As drafted, the hem was going to hit right at the middle of my knee, which is not what I wanted. I opted to go just a bit longer by adding wide hem lace to the bottom edge. The resulting hem ended up exactly where I wanted it. :)

The full review is here.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

TNTs & Cardi Wrap

I had a couple of sewing finishes this week, both from patterns that I've sewn before. After the great collar debacle, my sewing mojo was suffering badly, and I really needed something quick & fun. First up, S2603, the popular cardi-wrap that everyone under the sun (except me) seems to have made already. I made B4737, a sleeveless top, to go under it. As I was sewing the cardigan, I wasn't sure how much I'd like it, but I was happy with it when I wore it recently. Excuse the frightening "bad hair, no make-up" look... I'm so behind in documenting any of my sewing that I got lazy about the picture. Sorry. :(

The cardigan went together quite easily, though hemming it was a pain. It has a LOT of edges to hem!! And I've never particularly enjoyed hemming knit fabrics. Amazingly, this fabric actually behaved with the iron, so the hemming wasn't too horrible, just tedious. The top underneath is ridiculously easy, not much to it at all... exactly what I needed to help get my sewing mojo back.

It's hard to tell with this completely unstyled picture, but it actually works well with jeans. It would be great with dress pants, but at the moment, I don't have any that fit. :( Rather inexcusable, since I could just sew some, but I'm still losing weight and hate altering things after they're sewn. So, more pants are just going to have to wait.
Meanwhile, I am making plenty of pajama pants. I made one pair for BF recently (no photos yet) in some absolutely ridiculous juvenile fabric. This is what I made for me...

Isn't the fabric great? The pattern is M5248, the same one I used for the pink butterly pajamas a few months ago. I liked those, but the fabric didn't hold up well at all in the wash. I guess that's what I get for using Wal-Mart flannel. LOL I made a second pair at Christmas using candy cane printed flannel from Joann's. Those did *MUCH* better in the wash, so I bought more during their last flannel sale.

Last, but not least, is NL6735, another pattern that I've made before. I picked up this fabric at Wal-Mart. I was on the fence about the print... wasn't sure if it was awful or not. But I figured the gored skirt would help break up the pattern a bit, and the black top tones it all down a little.

Naturally, I couldn't finish all these projects without starting something new. ;) My latest WIP is M5523. I'm doing View A and LOVING working on this one!! It would be finished by now, but yesterday I realized that the dark color is NOT black. It's dark chocolate brown, and I don't have a zipper for it.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

M5522... The Mojo Killer

It might seem like I haven't done any sewing since Thanksgiving, but that isn't true. Some time ago, as in BEFORE CHRISTMAS, I started working on M5522 (I had some other things in the works, too). The pattern had been in my stash for a while, and I purchased some pretty red fabric for it. That's where the trouble began. First, the fabric was aggravating to work with. It fought me every step of the way. It was a nightmare to cut, and only slightly less troublesome to sew. Things were going pretty well, until I got to the collar and stand. The collar & stand weren't the problem-- they went together perfectly. The trouble happened when I pressed the collar. I'm not sure exactly what happened, but my iron ruined the collar. It wasn't a very good iron, and I should have replaced it long ago, but I had gotten by with it for so long that I hadn't bothered. (Okay, there was one ugly incident with a pair of pants prior to this... and I didn't get the hint.)

After completely ruining the collar, I immediately ran out and replaced the iron. I picked up a Rowenta professional something-or-other, which I absolutely LOVE. After getting my spiffy new iron, I set to work on doing another collar & stand. That's when the final incident happened... I managed to follow the instructions for the wrong view of the shirt, and ended up with the band collar. You'd think I would have noticed that there was no collar attached to the stand, but nooooo.... of course not! At this point, I was so sick of the collar drama that I decided to just go with the band collar. That worked, until I tried to attach it, and nothing lined up correctly. I have no idea why, because it was at that point that I couldn't take any more, and I simply stopped working on it.

I love the idea of the shirt so much (and it really is a great pattern!) that I haven't quite had the heart to doom it to wadder-dom, but I also haven't had the stomach to undertake making the collar for a THIRD time. So it sits in limbo.

Meanwhile, I have been sewing. I just haven't been very good about posting, or taking pictures. I tried to play catch-up today, but it didn't go so well. I started with S4135, a pair of pants that I loved when I made them. That was over a month ago. I've lost weight since then, and they no longer fit. I need to take them in all over, but haven't gotten around to it yet. I need to do a review of them, so I took a picture anyway. Ten pounds ago, they were *perfect*... not so much now. LOL

I've also finished S2603, the cardi-wrap that everyone (except me) seems to have made in the last year. I made a sleeveless top to go under it, but not the one shown on the pattern. More on the pants and cardi later.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

New Year, New Project

Since 2000, I've been starting a new project every January 1. Even though I didn't stitch a lot in 2010, I kept with this tradition for another year. For 2011, I decided to start Shell Collection, a Dimensions kit that I picked up last year on a trip to NC. As a rule, I don't normally stitch from kits, but this one really spoke to me. I'm a sucker for seashells, so I decided that I simply HAD to have this. I can't stand stitching on aida, so I swapped the fabric for some 30 ct. cream (or was it ivory?) murano from my stash. Here's what I have stitched so far...

Last year's January 1 start was Garden Verses, which isn't finished, but I have made some progress on it. I've enjoyed working on this one and need to get back to it again.

I'll soon have more sewing to share. I got a bit sidetracked from it over the holidays, but will be getting back to it very soon. In fact, I have a pair of pants that are nearly finished-- just need to hem them. And of course, there are a bunch of other things in the works. Stay tuned...