September 6, 2016

The quest for the perfect tanktop

In these hot times, I have been sorely missing tanktops from my wardrobe.  The sum of all my sleeveless garments amounts to 3 rib knit tanks from Old Navy, which are strictly for wearing under sweaters.  I decided I wanted to make some breezy tanktops with wide straps for good bra coverage.  I didn't find anything in my pattern stash that immediately fit the bill, but I was able to pick up Simplicity 1113 on sale.

I really liked the volume and ease of the shape, but didn't want a contrast band, so I combined all the pattern pieces to make one giant piece each for the front and the back.  Using a nice light jersey knit, I put together the simple silhouette and was relatively happy with the final product. Until I put it on, at which point it was promptly put in the Goodwill bag and was gone before I even thought about taking pictures. My bust is by far my biggest point, so it should go without saying that this tank hung straight down from there, resulting in a terrible look for me.  At least it wasn't too much time gone.

My next attempt was inspired by Ebi from Making the Flame, who has made several versions of M6078 successfully.  I cut out the L based on the measurements and whipped it up.  It's seriously easy - two pieces, with the pleats at the shoulder taking the majority of the sewing time. The fabric I used here is awful, so I had no intent of actually keeping the final product; I just wanted to test the pattern. (I actually used it to make a Renfrew back in 2012 and wore it a decent amount, but apparently my fabric standards have gone way up since then.)

Why am I staring off rapturously into space?  Who knows?  

Yeah, my timer camera skills are not on point.  Also you can see how badly the back neck stretched, even with Wonder Tape.

Final verdict: Not bad. As always, I could use a little more fabric in the bust, even in a stretchy knit. But not was I was looking for, either.  In my mind, this style of top looks best in a dressy fabric and worn with a nice skirt or a suit.  I also think a fabric with more weight to it would hang more nicely in the drape.  But now I have a pattern to keep in my back pocket for just such an occasion.

So, the quest continues but I keep learning. I know I need something that gives me some waist definition, so it can't be just a sack.  My next attempt will probably be based on Simplicity 9214, which I've only used for the shorts pattern before, and basically try to draft more flare/room into the bottom half of the tank, after it's past my chest.  Whether or not this happens this year is still to be determined.  I cut out two other projects at the Stitch Camp, and got some exciting new fabrics recently, so I should be set for a while.  But really, I know better than to think that I'll sew according to any kind of plan at this point. Hope everyone had a nice holiday weekend if you're in the US!

P.S. This blog post brought to you by sewing on the edge's first podcast - I've read her blog forever, and I'm looking forward to more episodes!  (Not sponsored or something, just wanted to share!)

June 5, 2016

Can't unwire the science brain.

Does anyone else have these moments where you look from outside yourself and think, "Why do I do this random thing that I do?"  I had that after I made this shirt.
Sorry for the squinting - I'm a lab rat and generally fear the evil daystar.
It's Stretch and Sew 313, one of probably 10 from that line I picked up at Goodwill for 10 cents each.  I wanted to make something out of my Lady Skater leftovers to just finish using up that fabric, and I finally exhausted my Renfrew mania, so this was up as the next candidate.  I traced it off (these all come as master patterns, so you have to trace), cut it out, sewed it up.  You'll notice a step missing there.  No pattern alterations, which in my world is mostly just FBAs.
Here you can see the folds of fabric right at my armpits.
Now, I know full well that I need one.  But every time I make a new pattern, especially a relatively quick one, something in my brain always says, "No, just make it as is, then see where you're at and make changes from there."  It's like I'm afraid to ruin it with my pattern alteration or something.  And then I had the moment.  It's not because I'm a bad seamstress; it's because I'm a good scientist.

In science, if you are trying to replicate a known procedure, your first step is ALWAYS to repeat the procedure exactly as reported (or as close as you can get with your equipment, etc.).  You have to make sure you're starting from the same point as the previous authors, THEN you can make your changes and discover something new from there.

Will knowing where it's coming from change my silly compulsion to make patterns exactly as written the first time?  Not sure.  But it is always interesting to think about things like this.

About the actual sewing.  I like this shirt.  It's long enough in both the body and the sleeves without me doing anything.  I hate cap sleeves, and these feel like a real substantial short sleeve.  The pattern also comes with a bodysuit option, so I'm assuming the length is meant to be tucked in, but I'll take it any way I can get it.  The sleeves and neckline are meant to be done with ribbing, but I just used the same fabric cut on the cross grain.  I may make it with ribbing at some point, but I just didn't want contrasting bands for this one.  Obviously, it'd need an FBA, but not as big of one as I might have thought.  All in all, a solid basic pattern.  My next t-shirt is likely to be the Concord pattern (I haven't pulled the trigger yet, but some plus sized people I respect have said great things about it), but this is definitely one that I want to keep in the arsenal.  This is a nice solid fabric too, so this will totally work for casual wear even with the weird folds.

I've logged some solid sewing hours recently and it feels really great. Even though I haven't gotten a ton of wearable pieces out of it yet, I am burning through stash and continuing to learn. Hope everyone's sewing journey is going well too, no matter where along the path you are!

May 14, 2016

Pattern Matchers, Look Away Now...

So I wanted to make another Tiramisu.  I had this happy rainbow polka-dot fabric and was all set.  Until I tried to cut out and realized that the grid pattern of the dots was neither straight nor on grain.  I'm sure a better seamstress would have found a way to make it work.  What I instead did was throw caution to the wind and just cut it on grain and hoped I wouldn't hate it.

And I don't HATE it.
I just don't feel good about how it turned out.  But the quality of the fabric wasn't worth spending the time it would have taken to get these wandering stripes anywhere close to where they should be.  Seeing it all together, the busyness distracts from the crookness somewhat....
But the back shows the real story.  Almost, but just not quite right.  For what it's worth, the bust alteration I did (added 1 inch where suggested by the pattern) worked quite well, and in a lighter fabric the cut-on sleeves are not as big of an issue as they were in the grey version.  So if I wanted to make another Tiramisu, I'm happy with this version patternwise.  

Here, you can see that I really do fill out all that extra hip space that my dressform doesn't have, and that the top is nicely covered without a tanktop underneath.  (Does anyone else hate having to wear an extra tanktop for coverage?  It always shifts and pulls and bugs the crap out of me.)

I'm basically treating this as a "Forever 21-esqe" project - cheap fabric that's not going to last, but I got something cute and functional out of it, for however long it lasts.  Not something to strive for, 
but hopefully, as I continue to work through my stash and buy better fabric, this won't be an issue as often in the future.  

The last week or so has been devoted to crafty projects like making pillowcases and dice bags for various things around here, but anything I can do that moves fabric out and gets me in front of the machine is okay by me.  After this fabric, a nice solid cotton woven and sewing some straight lines was a nice palette cleanser.  Hope everyone is enjoying some nice spring weather!

February 20, 2016

Dang it, McCall's!

     So the BF has wanted to do a Gambit cosplay for a long time, and we figured the upcoming movie release would be a perfect time.  I helped him look at pictures and search for patterns, and we decided that Burda 7780 would be a good base to work from.  He downloaded, printed, taped and traced it.  Then the new McCall's releases come out and there's this...

     For those of you not up on your X-Men, that is a Gambit coat.  Pretty much exactly.  Where were you a month ago?!? :P  (We are going to JoAnn's to see if they have them in this morning.)

    But seriously, I LOVE the Yaya Han line.  I know it's not everyone's bag, but for those of us who do cosplay, it's not only nice to get useful patterns like this one, which up til now we've been splicing and dicing existing patterns to get, but also to get a nod that we are a legitimate chunk of the home sewing community.  Who else do you think would be buying all that cheap poly velvet at JoAnn's?  :)
Well done, McCall's.

Side note:  I finally joined the rest of the world and got a smartphone, so if you do instagram, let me know your handle (name?  whatever it's called...) and I'll ogle all your sewing pictures.  :D

February 15, 2016

Simplicity 2172 Coat

NOTE: If some of you have already seen this post, it's because my Blogger app on my phone that had a partial draft of this post overrode the actual post that I had done on the laptop.  Argh. 

This beast is, by far, the most complex thing I have ever sewn.  I'd never done a jacket before, I'd never fully lined anything before, and I'm astonished.  It wasn't that bad once I got going.

First though, shout-outs to those who made this coat possible.  My boyfriend not only has been encouraging to make myself a costume for years, he cut the whole thing out for me, since   it is the part I hate the most.  The other thing that got me through this was the video walkthrough from Professor Pincushion.  I randomly found this after I was a few steps into construction, and after the first five minutes of watching, I caught a step that I'd missed when working from the pattern instructions.  These tutorials are clutch, and I will definitely check if she has one for any other mainstream patterns that I want to make.

Honestly, it has been so long since I started this (I finished the muslin in July 2013) that I don't remember much about the beginning construction, other than it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.  I eventually stalled out at the sleeves.  Since the sleeves have a flange as well, I thought I was going to have to pin all those layers and it was just going to be a hot mess when I tried to stitch it.  Um, no.  If I'd actually looked at the directions, everything's basted at each step so that when you actually sew the sleeve seam it's all nicely held together for you. NBD.

The most recent stall point was the buttonholes.  I have always been afraid of these but it was surprisingly easy with my new machine (I bought a Bernina 350 with my graduation money and haven't looked back).  I ended up having to move the top one down ever so slightly but overall I'm pretty happy with them.
I promise that top right corner is tucked under - the top is pretty much even
In other news, my attempt at Vogue 7890 crashed and burned, with the BF's exact words being to "put it out of its misery", but I have done a great job of knocking out some lingering alteration and knitting projects.  I'm already partway through another Tiramisu, so hopefully you'll see that soon.  I hop everyone else's projects go as well as this one did!

January 2, 2016

"Roads? Where we're going, we don't need roads."

So...2015. The last few months were the craziest I've had in a very long time.  I got my doctorate, then directly turned around and moved to a new city, with a new job, in a new field.  This is the furthest I've ever lived from my family, and the first time that the BF hasn't had a gaming group ready-made when he got to a city.  To say we felt a bit adrift would be an understatement.

And now?  We're getting there.  BF is still looking for a job, but I make enough now that he can take his time and find something that he enjoys (or is at least more interested in than insurance).  We have met a few acquaintances who might maybe know some people who sometimes play Dungeons and Dragons, so that's a start.  My job so far has been going well, and more importantly, has only been going 40-45 hours a week.  That's a LOT of free time (for me, anyway).

Going into 2016, I've got my sewing room basically set up (that's right, I get a whole extra bedroom to myself!) and my first project in who knows how long just needs collars and facings.  I'm 90% sure right now that it's going to turn out looking like an old-timey housedress, but it's a learning experience, right?
This is the pattern - Vogue 8970.  
So my sewing resolutions going forward?  Nothing too crazy.  Just to remember that I do have time to sew, and to enjoy myself when I do it.  I'll probably make a post here to shake out the types of things I'd like to sew (work wardrobe needs tons of HELP!), and maybe set some specific goals. But for now, I'm just being grateful for being able to sew at all and will try to make the most of it. Happy New Year!