Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Plaid, plaid and more plaid!

For my second time on the Fall Capsule Sewing Along, I'm doing dresses!!  I'm going to apologize in advance but this turned into a super long, wordy blog post.  You can skip ahead to the pictures if you want, no judgement.

I love fall!  Well almost- it is the bearer of bad news- winter is coming!- so its a mixed blessing.  Still since moving to the East Coast of the US, I'm loving the change in the air when fall finally hits.  I grew up in season-less California, which I miss whole-heartedly.  Still the leaves and crispness in the air bring me back to my college days in Williamstown.  Love to see the seasons change.

So in honor of that Fall change I must wear plaid.  Its really a necessity if you're channeling your College days or what you see when you live too close to LLBean territory.  Luckily for me, plaid is in.  So at least for this year I'll be in style and loving it.

As part of the list for the GYPO Fall Challenge was this lovely plaid dress.  I love it.  But I'll admit I looked at the buttons down the front and balked.

Buttons don't actually scare me- especially after getting my Viking SE working again.  And I had made 3 plaid shirts last fall on my 3/4 Janome with a 3 step button hole feature.  Its just that this lovely one is still hanging in my sewing room waiting.  Yep, buttons purchased, hems sewn, I even have these wonderful thrifted Turquoise cords that match beautifully hanging there.  LOL  Maybe that will be today's project.  

So of course I was on the hunt for a pattern with no buttons.  As I searched through my endless collection of patterns I found one I had never made, the Schoolhouse Tunic.  Truthfully I hadn't made it because I wasn't real sure it would work on me.  I couldn't decide if this was a top that needed very light weight or very heavy weight to work.  I have a belly and this style will either make me look pregnant or be flattering.  Just all depends.  I really wanted something I could wear with leggings or without and that I just just pull on for ease of dressing.  I decided to go for it with my heavy flannel from JoAnns.  This Plaiditudes flannel is really heavy and soft.  So far its washed up fine, we'll see over time how it holds up.  I also have shirts for the boys in the works with it.  

 So lots of talkie, talkie and little sewing.  There a ton of reviews on the tunic across the internet.  Its been out for a long time.  Its a very simple sew.  I made a few fit adjustments, one major and one minor.  I did change up the sleeves and added pockets.

Starting from the top- the pattern is on tissue paper which is a bear to trace but I did not want to cut out the pattern at this time, very good thing.  I went with the 18/20 based on my measurements, which put me at the bottom of the 18.  I thought about sizing down as this is a loose fit but I was working with heavy flannel so I didn't want to make it too small.  I did add about 3 inches to the length of the sleeve.  And I pulled the pockets from Jocose's Wide Leg pants to use here.

The top was super easy to put together.  I did try it on at this point, it seemed to fit fine.


So then I basted the skirt on and tried it on again. Sorry about the dark pictures, it was nighttime and I sew in the basement.  The whole thing was huge!  From the front it wasn't too bad but the back was a bag.  In the last picture here I've pinned out what I thought would work to make it less of a shapeless bag.  The problem of course was that I couldn't get it off that way.

After putting it down and sleeping on it.  I decided to take in the CB on the top and make the pleat under it bigger.  I didn't want to loose booty room but the top was hanging off.  Coffee in hand, I pinned.  If you don't know me, its really unusual for me to pin.  If I had had any more fabric I would have recut the back.  Next time I'll use the back bodice piece for the smaller size.  Not sure about the front, may or may not size that down.

Much better, still loose but thats the style of the pattern.  I also moved the front pleats closer to the side seams so the front is flatter.  I could probably go down a size all over.  In this heavy flannel its hard to gauge.    

Lastly I decided to add cuffs to the sleeves as them were just a tad short.  Super easy, just a rectangle a smidgen shorter than the sleeve so that I could pleat the sleeve into the cuff.  I cut them on the bias to have a little give when putting them on and off as I did not add a button!

Ta-da!  All done.  Looks like I may need to add some length to the front bodice in the center.  Well I'll keep that in mind if I make this again.  

Oh and I really couldn't stop there, which is weird since I'm not a dress kind of girl.  I'm not sure what I'll do with 2 dresses (well three but that is a different post) in my closet!  I would say church but I've started teaching Sunday school to toddlers so dresses are hard to wear when you're sitting on the floor.  Still I had just received this wonderful plaid cotton/lycra that I knew needed to be a dress.  

In fact it needed to be the Uptown/Downtown dress that was recently released by Sew Straight and Gather.  I have the girls' version and love it on my daughter.  Looking at the pictures for the women's version I was in love.  Mostly because the designer looked to have a similar figure, at least proportion wise.  When I looked at the size chart I knew I had to try it.  Finally a pattern where my waist wasn't 3 or 4 sizes bigger than my bust!  I am just shy of being a perfect XL in this pattern.  My waist was at XXL but those that have a belly like me will understand how great that is.  Easier to grade the waist up one than 3 or 4.  


Its a really easy sew, simple lines but does hog quite a bit of fabric.  I used just over 2 1/2 yards of 60 inch wide knit for mine.  One thing I didn't like was that the pattern was hard to put together.  It was a combination of my printer acting up and the fact the pages have no numbers on them.  For whatever reason my printer omitted the little circle corners- that would have been helpful- and then my printer spools backward so that it prints the last page first.  Since I used the print guide to only print the XL I had all these random stacks of pages.  It would have helped had they had numbers or some sort easy way to put them together.  It was a jigsaw puzzle.  Definitely a reminder to me to stick with paper patterns for adults.  Oy!

After that it was smooth sailing.  I graded out the front waist to a XXL.  Also I did a backwards swayback adjustment before cutting.  I googled how to do one with no Center Back seam and found this tutorial from Pattern Scissors Cloth.  When I took my measurements I found that the CB length was fine but the side seam to waist length was too short.  So I added an inch there- turns out the same as above but just backward.  I kept the waist on the back piece at the XL.  No pictures but I will take some comparison shots next time I make the dress (need to order more fabric!).

No construction shots as this was super easy to put together.  You'll notice on my side shot that the dress dips in the back- I forgot to take out the extra length there.  Plus it seems to want to pull up over my belly in the front, see how the line is not perpendicular to the ground at the waist.  I'm thinking a full belly adjustment may be needed.

I could probably make my sway back adjustment a little bigger- I need more bum room right under the pool of fabric though.  So it may just be that.  I have to say I really like seeing the lines on the muslin so that helps me see where the fabric is hanging funny.  I may need to make all my muslins with checked fabric!

So after fixing the back hem, I'll be stylin' all Fall in my two new plaid dresses.  Yeah!  Bonus my Walmart scarf matches with both dresses.

Tune in next time for a discussion the Greenstyle's Katie dress!  That was going to be my fall dress post but its still a work in progress.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Summer Sewing & Fall Style Challenge

So I joined up this summer to sew a Capsule Wardrobe with a large group of friends on Facebook.  Oh its so much fun.  There were great planning charts and posts on how to get rid of stuff in your closet and so forth.  As I read through and looked at my summer wardrobe I realized I'd done most of this in a transcontinental move the past summer.  Between purging before moving and joining the Get Your Pretty On Style  (affiliate link), my summer wardrobe was pretty set.

Of course, who am I kidding.  I love to sew and I love clothes.  So I added a couple print shorts, a pair of short denim shorts, a couple of tops and a couple of dresses to my summer wardrobe.  I did purge out a few things that weren't working anymore and will purge more when I get around to putting summer away.

Now its Fall, what do I make?  Uhm... I made a few things last year- flannel shirts, cardigans but nothing major.  I ended up thrifting most of my wardrobe.  I bought jeans and cords at local thrift stores and made them into skinny jeans to wear with boots.  Super easy to do.  I think I looked at a tutorial but really you just take them in on both sides.  Since mine were for boots I didn't worry about the fancy seam, infact taking it out made them less bulky inside my boots.

So here's a little slide show of what I wore last year.  Some were misses but for the most part I like the looks and outfits.  I will likely change out a few of them.  The pieces were pretty much from the Fall Challenge (which is free with this year's Challenge), I changed up the colors as the ones Allison picked didn't suit me and I was pulling from my wardrobe.  I was challenged by the skinny pants, not a silhouette that suits me with flats.  I found that with boots I was more balanced.

The one thing is that not a lot of last year's wardrobe was sewn.  I'd like to sew more this Fall.  I know I want a flannel shirt dress or long tunic shirt similar to what Allison from GYPO previewed in the Fall Challenge post.

I already bought the flannel at JoAnns.  Its from the Plaiditudes Collection which I am amazed by- its thick and luxurious.  The only fault is that it is off kilter a bit so matching plaids is a bit of a nightmare.  I found with the the shirts I cut for my boys that it was easier to do cross-grain than with the grain.  My oldest boy's shirt will be off grain but I think I managed to cut the baby's right.  We'll see, I have to cut the lining for those.  Back to me, I have 3 yards of this so I need to come up with something.

Beyond that I'm not entirely sure.  The other outfit previewed was a sweater and blazer which I'm not sure I would wear much.  Knowing me, I'll wait for the shopping list before finalizing my sewing plans.  Even then I suspect I have a good portion of what is on the list.  Guess I'd better hop over and sign up.  If you're interested, check it out!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Cardigan to jump start the Fall

Cardigan season, here we come!  As I may have mentioned before I joined the Capsule Wardrobe Sew Along group on Facebook in the Summer.  Or maybe I haven't mentioned that yet- I think its on the next post I'm working on.  Anyway as part of that group Becca from Freenotion organized a Fall Pattern Showcase.  Loving deadlines, I decided to sign up.  Not sure signing up 2 days after school started was the best plan.  Still I did get some great sewing time after the kids were either loaded up on the bus or I waved to them as they rode their bikes to school.  I actually met the deadline!

Let start with the fabric, I'm working with this lovely hacci that I got off another Fixer on the Facebook Knitfix group.  Not sure what month it was from and it has these gold and black threads running through.  Not too much sparkle, just right for me.  It still will be a great neutral.  It also has this great fringe running out of the selvage.  Fringe is one of the trends for the fall, or so I hear from Get Your Pretty On.

I found this pattern in the 5/2012 issue of Ottobre Women.  The gray one is pictured in the magazine (below from their blog). Ottobre Blog  My fabric is thinner but I thought the square front would be great.  I did have to shorten mine, only had 2 yards of fabric to work with.  Plus with the thinner fabric I think shorter is better on me.  And bonus for me- I had already traced this pattern out, shortened and everything!  I had planned to use this pattern last fall to try to make one of those Bobeau wraps that were all over the place.  I never got around to it.  Maybe this year.  

So back to my project, turns out 2 yards was still a little short- I wanted full length sleeves and came up 3 inches short.  So I added a cuff.

After that everything seemed to come together easily and quickly.  The only "tricky" part is the shoulder/neck seam.  Since the neck is supposed to fold down over the outside you have to stitch right sides together from the end of the shoulder to the top of the neck.  



Looked great until I tried it on.  Eeeeeck!  The whole thing was falling off.  Between the stretch of the fabric and the width of the back it was just not working for me.  I ended up having to make a back  center seam and took out about 4-5 inches.  

I then decided I didn't care for the folding over since my fabric was different on the inside.  I put clear elastic on the neck seams for both shoulders and then down a little farther on the center back seam.  Love how that turned out.  

And now it fits great!  I love it.  I'm sure I'll get a lot of use out if it this fall.  As excited as I was to sew up this cardigan, I was not so keen on wearing outside in the 80 degree, 90% humidity!  For now I'll leave this inside picture and work on some better shots today.  

Check back tomorrow for more on the Fall Style Challenge (affiliate link) and sewing!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Bring on the Fall!

Not really, or maybe.  This time of year I get so sick of my summer clothes and, here, it is also the worst time for mosquitos.  So that means I'm ready to start layering up.  My late summer uniform is typically a light weight button up with a tank and shorts.  Pretty much like this- in fact I think I wore this with a black tank top yesterday.

Then at some point that switches to flannel or a cardigan.  I made some flannel shirts last year (Ottobre Women's Issue 5/2012).  In fact I still have one waiting on button holes.  They are great in early fall over tank or tee, then later with a vest or sweater on top.  

Since I have enough light weight shirts for now and its still 80/90 degrees I've decided to start my Fall sewing with cardigans.  Cardigans are great for the Fall and Spring (and for some in the winter too!).  I've avoided cardigans for the past decade due to always having small children around that pulled on my clothing.  Last Fall though, I wore them quite a bit and really loved having that piece I could remove when it got hot, pull on easily when it cooled and just gave you that extra bit of texture or color to complete your outfit.

 The striped cardigan here is actually a men's that I reshaped for me.  The bright pink is thrifted and the third is from the Swoon Cardigan pattern, its a freebie!  While I love that cardigan- I made 2 last Fall and 2 the Spring- its very fabric intensive.  I need 3 yards for my size.  I don't have 3 yards of sweater knit in my stash right now.  What I do have is 2 yards of this wonderful soft hacci with gold and black threads.

Still deciding what pattern to use but it will be from Ottobre.  Off to my sewing room!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Revisiting Ottobre

I recently joined the Ottobre Inspired Sewing group on Facebook and have been having so much fun going back to these patterns.  Not only did I already complete 2 pieces from the newest Women's issue, I went back to the first tracings I did for my oldest to make for my youngest.  It seems inconceivable that the baby is big enough to fit into those.  Granted this baby is bigger than his brother was at this age, brother was a full year older (the boys share a birthday month)!

The one that I was drawn to was the color blocked shirt from Ottobre 2/2005.  PDF of Ottobre 2/2005 Turns out that that shirt starts at size 110 but I knew I had made it for my older boy child when he was smaller.   I found this set in my photobucket files, I loved it.  It was the first shirt from this pattern and I want to say I made 5 or 6 more before I moved on to a different pattern.   That was 7 years ago!  It could not have been 110.  Sure enough, I had down sized the pattern to 98.

Well now its the little bits turn to wear the pattern.  I must have overlooked it for the girl child- mostly because there are soooooo many choices for girls.  Boys are more limited.  Anyway, I pulled out the old tracing and went to work on a muslin of sorts.  I figured it would be fine but in the back of my mind there was something I thought I needed to adjust- I couldn't remember what.

Turns out it was too wide for my skinny boys.  I've marked it on the line drawing pdf that I keep in a folder for next time.  It is wearable but I would like it to be a little thinner through the body.  So I took the pattern and carefully folded out 1/2 inch on the front and back.

Perfect fit for the first day of school!

Woo Hoo!  Now that all three monsters are at school, I should really be getting off the computer and enjoying my quiet house.

Season of One Thimble!

Funny enough this Spring has really been the Season of One Thimble  (affiliate link).  It started off really innocently, I signed up for ...