Christmas 2016 – Part 2

And now part 2! Things I made for adults in my life.

So 2016 was the year I learned to knit socks. It’s silly. I don’t wear socks during the day. However I do enjoy wearing the hand knit socks I’ve received as gifts! So I started off knitting a couple pairs for myself and realized if I was going to feed my sock knitting obsession I needed to branch out to gift knitting.

It started with this pair I made for my mom. I didn’t quite have the right colors for her so I wandered down to my local yarn shop and picked up a skein of Malabrigo Sock in Anniversario. It is quite lovely with reds and purples all intermixed. It looks a little nutty in the photos, but in person the colors blend nicely. We have fairly similar feet so they it was easy to gauge the size and I hear she enjoys wearing them.

 

Next up are socks for my sister. My mom and sister are pretty forgiving gift receivers should things turn wonky. Thankfully this pair also turned out just beautifully. This time I used Dark Harbour Yarns in Bluebottle, but the color really reminded me of Elsa from Frozen and the color is a gradual fade from white with speckles to a dark blue-green. Totally stunning. Nikki creates gorgeous colors!

And then there is the cross stitching! I bought the kit from The Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery. It was a mystery stitch along and their patterns are so darling. Not sure what I’m going to do with the long narrow piece, but the bonus ornament pattern was super adorable! So I made two, one for our tree and one for their cousins’ tree!

Then there were was cooking, baking ,and tea towel calendar hemming and all those little projects that fly under the radar! A busy season to be sure, but it was fun to dive into my stash of supplies and come up with some fun customized gifts for some of my family this year.

And now back to my ever growing queue of projects! On top of sewing my usual favorites we have two weddings to attend this spring and of course Easter dresses to plan. I so looking forward to making some fun things!

Christmas 2016 – Part 1

Before moving on to new projects in 2017, I thought I’d take a moment to post the things I made for the Christmas holiday this year. In order to keep our holiday spending in check, I turned to my stash to find some fun materials for gifts.

First up is the adorable Little Red Riding Hood doll set.

I bought the panel at our (now closed) local quilt shop. In fact I bought the very last one in stock. They sold out super quickly and I can see why. Isn’t it sweet? I ended up making a few alterations to the panel directions. 1) I bound the quilt with some fabric from my stash  and 2) I made the doll’s skirt completely reversible with the left over binding fabric and an elastic waist.

Of course our 2 year old spend much of Christmas day sitting in the doll bed instead of her dolly, but that’s toddlers! And the Lil’ Red set has been dragged all over our house and the clothing tried on many different babies.

Next up was a sweater, also for the toddler. I’d purchased the yarn at Vogue Knitting Live here in town last spring. I’ve heard great things about Sincere Sheep, but I’ve come to realize it is best to buy new-to-me yarns in small quantities to test before diving in for enough to make myself a sweater. I quick peek at my phone showed I needed only 2 skeins to make Ysolda Teague’s Wee Envelope pattern in a size 2, so I snatch up Equity Sport in Aegean.

I think you’ll agree the color look just gorgeous on Charlie and kept her nice and toasty on our trip to the beach. The yarn was also a joy to knit! So bouncy, just the way I like it. Ysolda’s pattern was fabulous as always. I’ve knit 3 patterns from her Wee Ones collection and all have turned out wonderfully.

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And lastly here is a snapshot of the girls on Christmas morning. It is hard to tell because Lu immediately donned her Doc McStuffins costume (gift from Santa), but the girls also got matching pajamas on Christmas Eve. I just love this particular tradition. Usually I buy their jammies, but this year I quickly made up a matching set.

It was a bit of a happy accident. The first shipment of fabric got lost in the mail and Sahara Fabrics nicely sent me a replacement. Both shipments ended up arriving leaving me with 3 whole yards of the space print. In the end I was able to get 2 long sleeved long night gowns and two sets of leggings from the yardage. Hooray! I still haven’t quite gotten the hang of using fold over elastic, so don’t look too closely at the neck line. I need a bit more practice.

And so this is part one of the gift sewing! It is really fun to have kids who appreciate hand made items and I plan to keep on indulging them as long as they let me!

Goodbye 2016!

2016 has come and gone. Last night we had storms passing through, but today has arrived cool, clear, and with a beautiful bright blue sky. Like many others 2016 was not my favorite year. Beyond the political landscape, it was just an okay year for our little family. We got by fine, the kids grew and thrived, but it wasn’t an easy year. By the end of it I felt quite worn down by the routine but also by the instability.

There was a lot of good stuff coming out of our house as well. I spent a lot of time on my sewing skills. I now have a much loved skater-style dress I make and wear frequently. I also discovered I do better when I work off the Gertie block then the Cashmerette block (for wovens). I’m sure in the coming year I will buy more patterns, but I also hope to make my own block again. I have a lot of ideas of dresses I’d like to make, but I think making my own block would really help me spend less time fitting and more time designing.

I made some misses too. A few poor fabric choices and a few patterns that just didn’t work for my shape. And sometimes things turn out okay, but they fail to make it to the regular rotation. I think you’d be hard pressed to find a sewer who doesn’t have a few flops every year.

And then there are my sweet girls! Not as much sewing for them as with previous years. Mostly because Charlie can wear so many things I made for her sister and she’s stayed quite tiny. Partly because Lu finally grew enough that she can wear commercially produced school uniforms! I ordered a select number of skirts and dresses in August and Lu’s been set for school since. I am incredibly proud of their swimsuits and plan to make them new suits for next summer. So much fun and really simple.

What’s next? I still have some quilts to finish. One for my bed and the girls matching quilts for their room. We moved all the baby stuff out over the winter break and we’re contemplating bunk beds this summer, so I’d like to get those quilts done. Otherwise I’ll just keep looking for new inspiration. I organized my fabric stash a bit this week and remembered I have fabric to make the Sewaholic Pacific Leggings, my SIL bought me the Decades of Style Lara Dress pattern, and I have more wool jersey to make a skater style dress. Maybe I’ll get to those things, but if I don’t it is okay. I can’t wait to see where 2017 takes me!

Happy Birthday to Me!

I squeaked out one more dress for 2016! I really didn’t think I had the time, but the fabric was washed, the pattern was something I’d made before, and I had a couple free evenings! Plus my birthday was falling in a pocket of cooler than typical weather.

This is Cashermette’s Appleton pattern in some gorgeous green merino wool jersey from The Fabric Store. I’d purchased the yardage last December on my first visit to the Los Angeles location, but then I started to doubt my ability to sew with it!

I’m glad I waited. This past year I have learned a lot about sewing knits on my Janome. It doesn’t have the lightening bolt stitch so I’ve had to repair many of my dresses as the various test stitches have popped with wear. This jersey is so fragile that I don’t think the seams would hold up to the wrong stitch. As I’ve mentioned before I now use something like baseball stitch and it work really really well. Then I use a faux coverstitch for the hems. I own a serger, but I enjoy sewing on my regular machine. I also don’t have a dedicated sewing space, so it is frankly easier to have one machine out all the time than swap them out with every project.

The finished dress is a breeze to wear. Since my birthday is so close to Christmas this dress will do double duty for both events and keeps me nice and warm as well. The only negative thing about it is the fabric is sheer in photos taken with flash. So I’ll be sure to wear some good undergarments!

Groovy Girl

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Cultural Heritage Foundation. Are you interested in saving Victorian architecture?

Hope everyone in the USA had a lovely Thanksgiving with their family and friends. We took our first family road trip to visit my sister. Two kids, two adults, and one dog all jammed into a car for 6 hours. Really it was a lot of fun, but so hard to get back and head right into Lamplight at Heritage Square!

This is the biggest event the museum holds each year and and this year I was assigned to be one of the tour guides. I was super happy with my role as getting to weekday rehearsals is really tough with two small children. As a guide I only had to attend the 3 main rehearsals. But there was a catch, the tour guides were actually characters this year! We played the museum founders and spend the evening talking with guests about the importance of Los Angeles’ Victorian architecture and why it was important to save. It also meant we all dressed for roughly 1970. Groovy!

Every year I spend waaaaaaay too much time and energy trying to get my clothes as accurate as possible. This year was no exception. As soon as I knew I was aiming for 1970 I started scouring my pattern stash and looking for inspiration. It was a little harder than I expected because searching for 1970 brought up a lot of clothing for the 1970s that was too late for my particular needs.

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I settled on Simplicity 1059, one of their Jiffy patterns that was originally published in 1969. The big selling point was this pattern had sleeves! As a tour guide I needed to spend a portion of the evening outdoors at night in cold (for LA) weather. Sleeves!

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It was also a very simple shape. Here it is without the sash so you can see there are no darts, no waist seam. Really it was just a front, back, sleeves, and facings. All the bust shaping is provided by one pleat at each shoulder. I simply graded from one size at the bust to another size at the waist and hips to ensure enough wearing ease.

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The pattern was not without it’s issues though. If you look really closely at the pattern art you’ll see the neckline was supposed to be a deep V. What I didn’t realize is the V would go really low, like you could see a significant portion of my bra. I’d cut the front on the fold instead of putting in a front seam so I could avoid pattern matching down the front. I’d even raised the neckline a tad to account for the lost seam, but apparently it wasn’t enough!

I did play around with the idea of buttoning the front closed, but that pulled the shoulder pleats out of alignment, so the finished dress has a triangular piece sewn in for modesty. I tried to sort of line up the print to make it less noticeable.

Also I spend a lot of brainpower and timing putting in the invisible zipper and matching the pattern down the back only to find I could pull the dress over my head without ever unzipping the back. Sob!  If I make the pattern again I will cut both he back and front on the fold! Can you spot the center back seam?

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For the fabric I knew I wanted to use rayon. I wanted long sleeves, but it had to be thin fabric because my jacket sleeves are quite tight and thick fabric wouldn’t fit. So I started looking for some 60s/70s prints online. I sent the choices to my mom who helped me pick the best of my options. We settled on this print from Free Spirit Fabrics. It cost a tad bit more than I anticipated, but I can wear this dress to work.  A++ would buy again.

Was I cold? You bet! But I was only outside for 5-10 minutes at a time so I’m satisfied with my choice of fabric. Even though the dress isn’t a shape I usually wear, I really love the way it turned out. Especially such a dramatic sleeve!

And now with Lamplight behind me I’ve moved onto Christmas gifts. Anyone else doing some holiday sewing?

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Wrap Top Fitting

Today I’m here to talk about the process of getting a pattern to fit how I prefer. On Monday I’ll have a full review of this pattern 1942 Two-Piece Dress  from Eva Dress Patterns posted on The Curvy Sewing Collective, but over here I’m writing about making muslins!

This pattern comes with sizes grouped together. So you can either get bust sizes 32-38 or 40-46. I purchased 40-46. For my first muslin I cut a size 40 for the shoulders graded into a 42 at the waist.

I thought this looked pretty promising over all. The shoulder cut in a bit closer than I wanted, but otherwise the big issue is the center front lines are no where close to meeting! I’d expected that over the bust was a bit surprised by the waist. I figured, no worries. I knew I was going to do a full bust adjustment, this just confirmed that was the right next step.

Ack! Okay, I did a 1.5 inch full bust adjustment to each side and now the center front lines aligned and the waist looked nice, but the blouse had too much length! Way too much! This is also how I saw the sleeve caps had tons of extra height.

I also saw how the back was much too long as well. Though this is a common issue I have with patterns.

At this point I was frustrated. I’d done what you should do to add room for the bust, but it didn’t work out like I’d planned. I almost quit. Then I went to an online sewing forum through Ravelry and asked for feedback on how I should proceed.

The consensus seemed to be that I should go back to version 1 and rethink how to add width. I studied the shoulder pleats and figured out where the bust apex was on the original pattern. Then made the decision to gasp! just add the width at the side seams.

I think it worked out pretty darn well.

Instead of grading the pattern from size 40-42 between the bust and waist, I went ahead and traced off a size 42 for the entire front piece along the side seam. Then for the side with the tie I traced the neckline starting with a size 20 at the shoulder and a size 46 at the tie. This still didn’t add enough width, so I also slash and spread the pattern by 1 inch. To accommodate the slash and spread as well as the too wide shoulders I added 2 pleats to the shoulders.

As you can see now the tie actually reaches fully to the side seam as in the original pattern envelope art!

Lastly I tossed my sleeve pattern piece with the large bicep adjustment and traced the size 40 sleeve cap with size 42 bicep.

Is the finished blouse perfect? Nope. But it fits a lot better than either of my muslins.

The sleeves are a bit long. So next time I’ll take some length out above the elbow pleats. But that is such a minor alteration to make compared to the other fit issues! To be fair I did not muslin the longer sleeves, so totally my own fault!

The fashion fabric is some lovely Swiss dot voile I picked up at Michael Levine’s during the same visit when I bought the pink/purple plaid used to make my Dahlia dress. It is so soft and light and lovely to wear. Just enough to provide nice coverage on a warm day.

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This project felt like a lot of work, but I am overall happy with how it turned out! I’m not making a lot of pieces right now, so it feels good to slow down and embrace the process.

Out of Time Out

Let’s talk about Colette. Their pattern block is somewhat less than desirable for a large portion of the sewing crowd, but several years ago there weren’t as many competitors on the indie scene. Like many others I purchased a few Colette patterns. I loved their vintage inspired esthetic.

Then I made these patterns and they were pretty much flops. I blamed myself. As a largely self-taught sewer I figured I just didn’t have the skill. Now I know that I am not alone!  Colette patterns are notorious for their wide shoulders, odd sleeves, and flat butts. Ahhhhhhhh. It all makes sense now.

I am by no means an expert, but I think I do okay at getting things to fit. I like to experiment, but last year I got really fed up. You see, I attempted to make Colette’s Dahlia. Gosh I love the way the pattern looks on the original model. I’m linking the sew-a-long because Colette has changed the pictures on their site.

But making the pattern proved to be very frustrating. I’d searched pattern reviews and only found nice versions! But when I put on my finished dress the shoulders were so big they stood up and touched my ears. I was dismayed. I was upset. I knew someone who had made the dress and her’s turned out great, but mine was unwearable.

So I gathered the neckline, turned the binding under, and then stitched it all smaller. I still hated the dress. Pissed off and disappointed I threw Dahlia in a corner and forgot about it…until today.

I pulled it back out because I was going to use the skirt fabric along with my leftover yardage to makes a blouse! But I thought I should try on the dress one more time and photograph it. I put the dress on and well, it looks pretty good!

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I mean sure, it’s not perfect. The neckline looks pretty crappy, but a cardigan is going to hide all those sins. Still a little wrinkled in these photos, but not bad over all. I remembered I really liked the skirt and waistband!

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I have zero memory about what size I made or what alterations I made to the pattern. None. Oh well. I’m unlikely to try this pattern again anyways.

I do remember this fabric.

I’d bought it at Michael Levine’s for maybe $5/yard. It was labeled 100% cotton, but it probably a cotton/poly blend. I really need to throw a slip on underneath so the fabric glides more freely! But another reason this fabric stands out in my mind is because as I was watching Modern Family I saw Cam wearing a shirt from the same fabric!

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Hilarious, right?

For now I’m just happy to come to peace with my version of Dahlia. It’s not what I originally wanted, but far from the wreck I saw in the mirror last year.

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