Sunday, June 5, 2016

Yoga Time!

Wow! I can't believe my last post was in December, and it, too, was apparently what I sat down to write about: Sewaholic's Dunbar workout top and Pacific leggings.

In terms of details about the process, I don't have too much to add. The only change I made was to adjust the waistband piece to what it was originally. I had widened the top of it for the first pair and I just ended what I had added back off. I don't know how much of a difference it made.

The fabric was material I bought at Fabric Depot's location in Portland, OR over Thanksgiving Break in 2015. I had intended to make up this set a lot earlier, but well, life happened. (Teaching, yearbook, teaching, senior thesis, teaching, I love my job, right?) I love, love, love the colors in this set. Neither are what I typically wear, and even though the print is peacock feathers, somehow the combination reminds me of the ocean.

Since I made up my first pair (B&W), Caroline added a tutorial on how to do the binding on the Sewaholic blog, so I used that to help me get it "right" according to the pattern. Last time I was confused and I just did what I normally do for a binding. But this way is different, and you end up with the binding only showing on the right side of the garment, not the interior.

You'll also note that I put in Sewaholic garment tags. These were a fun present from my husband last Christmas. They are available for purchase on the Sewaholic website.

When it comes time to do the "photo shoot," I always have a hard time getting pics because I have two fun "helpers" who are excited to be outside with their mom.

Soon after finishing my new yoga outfit, I wanted to play with the embroidery unit on Pfanny Pfaff some more. A few months back, I saw the "yoga dogs" embroidery pack on EmbLibrary, and when they had a Memorial Day sale with 50% off, I went for it. I've played with the embroidery module just a little bit and decided to next dabble in embroidering towels. Thankfully, hubby once again came through and I had the right stabilizer I needed from a Christmas present.

My yoga towels are pretty old and shabby by now, and I figured if I ruined one or two in the process, there would be little harm done and no real loss. But there was still enough "terry" left in the terry cloth, that I could check to see if my stabilizer really did work like it's supposed to. I did. I'm pretty pleased with the results!

Aren't they cute? They are at the foot of the towel, and it was pretty fun seeing them in yoga class the next day. I'm pretty sure that I have the only yoga towel in the East Valley with yoga dogs on them. I guess that probably also means I'm kinda the wackiest, too!

Here's some close ups.
Tree Pose

Camel Pose & Down Dog

I made a second towel, but I had a "learning experience" on one of those dogs. Even though it is still usable, I'm not pleased with the finished result. I learned you do NOT resize, resize again, and then resize again. The teacher of the embroidery class I took a few months ago told me that, and do you know what? She was right! Don't do that! The stitching ends up all wonky.


Thursday, December 31, 2015

A Sewaholic Christmas Vacation

Back in November, Sewaholic celebrated its anniversary with a Buy One/Get One sale on their printed patterns, and I used it as an excuse to snatch up their two new activewear patterns, the Pacific Leggings and the Dunbar top. It's a busy time of year at school and I knew I wouldn't get to them till the Christmas break, and that's exactly what happened. In December, Pattern Review also held a "New To You Pattern Company" contest and since it's my first time sewing Sewaholic, the timing was perfect!

First, a confession. I don't have a large fabric "stash," but what I do have is mostly activewear fabric. I do a LOT of Bikram yoga so I can justify to myself (if not to my eye rolling husband) sewing a lot of activewear. We went to the greater Portland area for Thanksgiving and while there I discovered a happy coincidence...there are a LOT of fabric stores in the area. Mike's family kindly humored me and let me spend a little bit of time drooling, stroking, and buying fabric at Fabric Depot...which is HUGE and had everything at 40% off for the Black Friday weekend. I, of course, bought a lot of activewear fabric...

...which I haven't used yet! I was going to, but then I discovered I had enough leftover material from previous projects that I could use up first for my "test" pieces. You know, in case I had any oops! moments or sizing issues.

The Pacific Leggings

I started with the Pacific Leggings since those were what I wanted to enter into the contest. I also got to use the new roll of tracing paper Mike got me for Christmas. When you pay extra money for indie paper patterns, you do not want to cut them...just in case! So on went Netflix and tracing began.

I cut a six for my hip and widened the waistband out to an eight, which is what the sizing chart recommended for my measurements. It fits fine but I might try a six in the waist, too, next time.

The instructions were fairly straight forward until you get to the crotch gusset. I scratched my head a bit and looked for good online tutorials and then began my usual rant...Why, oh, why, can't people who put in the time and effort to create a tutorial use some common sense?! It's wasted effort if you use busy print or plaid fabric with matching thread! Come on, people! Solid fabric with contrasting thread or your pictures are worthless!

The serged inside. Yes, it's bright.
Anyway, I think I figured it out okay, but for a newbie seamstress, it'd be nice if Tasia of Sewaholic put together a tutorial of the process on her blog, using some common sense in her fabric selection, of course! After all, inserting a gusset isn't something you see in a pattern everyday. I basted it in place first before serging it. There's no way you can serge it in one fell swoop because you have to snip the corners to make the seam allowances fold in the right directions - after basting the gusset in, you have seam allowances going in cross directions if you want to sew from the top of the pants, around the gusset, and up the other side. And I wanted this serged with two needles and then reinforced with the top stitching - in yoga, you do a lot of leg work and these seams will be stressed.

Top Stitching
The top-stitched outside

I used this tutorial to topstitch the seams to add contrast to the leg panels and also on the Dunbar top. I topstitched over serged seam allowance so that it is sewn down. Tip: I would NOT recommend using contrasting thread around the gusset area or you will have a circle around...well, you get the idea. So I used matching thread for the inner leg seam as well so I didn't end up with arrows traveling up there. If you are a runner, maybe not a big deal, but in yoga class, it is! The topstitching ended up a little wavy but once you put it on, it stretches to be straight. I did the same technique on my coordinating Dunbar top, and half way through remembered I needed to change the presser foot for that stitch! And guess what? It helped! Also, after the first wash, the stitch and fabric "relaxed" a bit and lost some of the initial waviness.
A note about the finished leggings: In the photo with the model, the waistband rests well below her natural waist and belly button. On me, it comes up nearly to my natural waist. Which I'm okay with since when leggings rest on my hips, I'm always tugging them back up.

I love the fit of these leggings! I've worn them to Bikram yoga twice already and they stayed put just fine. I like the fact that they don't have any pouchy places around my hip/lap area by the end of class like I do with some of my other leggings. I like the contrasting waistband and that it is a separate piece...this opens the door for all kinds of creative opportunities, whether you choose a solid or a print or a combination of both. The gusset is a nice feature to have in the leggings, too. For all the stretchy stuff you do in yoga, well, it helps the leggings stretch right...and return to place right. This pattern is definitely a keeper and potential repeater for me.

The Dunbar Top

I'm going to get my gripes out of the way first.

Gripe#1 - and the fault may lay with me on this one; I haven't gone back to check if it is my mistake or the pattern's. When I traced off the side pieces, I wrote "cut 4" on my tracing piece, which is what I think it said. But I haven't pulled out the original to check yet. Four made sense - two front side pieces, two back side pieces. However, when I sewed it up, it was not working at all - too big, the notches weren't matching up, it was a real headscratcher. So I checked the cutting layout (which I didn't follow because I was using up scraps) and low and behold! I only needed two side pieces. So it was time to unpick and resew.

Gripe #2 - about the instructions. You can either sew the bra or the top with the built in bra and the first five or six steps applies to either view. The pictures included show the bra and uses the numbers of the bra pattern pieces which are different from the numbers of the top+bra pieces. Really annoying when you are hunting for "piece 12" like the picture indicates, can't find "piece 12" (I leave my pieces pinned to the tracing paper) because yours is really "piece 10" and then have to match up and verify that "piece 10" really is the equivalent of "piece 12."

The tank is long! I made a deeper hem than called for and could still shorten it some. I like my tanks long but this is long on me.

I did not use power net for the built in bra because I didn't have any, JoAnn's netting is not "power" by any means, and I wanted to make it now, not after waiting for an online order to arrive. I used scraps of the same fabric as the tank and it works just fine. But I'm not busty, either, and yoga is not like running in terms of impact.

The front of the shelf bra. The black bra cups are sewn onto my fake powernet. 

The instructions call for plush back elastic for the bra-band (built-in only) and does not indicate that you sew it on, turn, and sew again...just sew it one with the plush back towards the body. I did the turn and sew because I used normal elastic. I was concerned the bra fabric would be too short and make the bra ride up but it's okay...then again, I'm the exact opposite of busty...a busty person may find differently. The bra-only version does have you sew/turn/sew and uses different pattern pieces than the built-in bra.
And even a tag! Mike gave them to me for Christmas!
The grey fabric the tag is sewn onto is my power net substitute.

What I love: I love the built in opportunity to contrast fabric and coordinate. I love the built in shelf bra and the options it gives you. The shelf bra was easy to sew and attach to the top (once I figured out the instructions and why I was doing a particular step.) If you didn't want the built in bra, it would be easy to adapt and sew it without it, too. The princess side seams (I think that's what they are?) are slenderizing visually. I love the sweetheart line of the two pieces. It, too, is flattering. I plan on at least a few more. This one has quickly become my favorite in my workout wear tops. The RTW ones I've been using really are too small but they just won't die even with the regular beatings I give them! I may have to help them find a new life as the contrast material in this top.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Stripey Dress Revisited

After making Stripey #1, I saw this super-fun black-and-white striped ITY on, and get this: some of the stripes were also polka-dotted! It was fated to be, and although I did have a twinge of doubt (matching Stripey #1s large repeat of stripes was definitely a challenge), the awesomeness of the fabric made me take the plunge.

This time I wanted to make a few changes. After all, I'm supposed to be learning, growing, and experimenting, right? It's that part of what sewing your own clothes is all about...making them be exactly what you want them to be?

I don't really like sleeveless, and on my first go-round with Stripey, I just followed the instructions and did the shoulder straps, even knowing that it meant I would probably always just wear it with a cami. Which annoys me since in the Arizona desert, most days are not sweater weather...except once you go in a building, they blast you with the, actually, layers are still good. So when the inspiration hit me that the "sleeves" of Simplicity 1808 would be perfect, I decided to go for it. I really like my dresses with those sleeves - easy to layer with no bulking or bunching under a sweater, short, and comfy.
This was my first attempt at re-drafting something. Simplicity 1808 has a neckband and gathers, so I wasn't quite sure how to line it up on the stripey dress bodice pieces. After agonizing, and moving it around here and there, I finally just made a decision - "here!" - and went with it, sewed up a muslin, and then tweaked as needed. I ended up needing to take in the side seams and chop off some of the sleeve "cap" since it hung over way too much. But now I have new pattern pieces in case I ever get crazy enough to fight with stripes again!

Not bad, eh? While it doesn't look bad as is, I think a thin black belt would make it look more finished. So far, I've worn it with a black cardi since we've had relatively cool AZ weather. 

Another change I made was to finish the neckline with bias binding. I think it makes it look more professional and finished then the "turn and fold" method of the pattern, which while easy, is just not really nice. I also decided it needed a lining.'s description warned me and pretty much said so (great for "dresses with a lining," it said), but my colorful Stripey #1 said the same thing and it wasn't true. But this fabric has a thinner texture and the white shows through. So I bought some white tricot from good ol' JoAnn, just enough for the bodice and a knee-length skirt (although I probably should have saved my dollars and just used a slip. Oh well. Also, I stabilized the shoulder seams with stay tape, which the pattern does not tell you to do but seems to be pretty standard, and the waistline with clear elastic. The weight of this dress pretty much requires stabilizing. It's a lot of fabric even before adding a lining! 

Laying out this fabric was HORRIBLE! Let's just say that all the fabric I've bought since is all solids! Cutting it on the bias for the stripes makes the yardage requirement huge! Even with the nice sewing table Hubby made me, the floor is the only place I could lay it out. In the house are two dogs and a cat. And it is slinky-slippery! Between it shifting here and there and not being able to truly get it all straight and trying to figure out where I could get the stripes to match up....argh!!! I got about one piece cut out per night and it usually took about an hour per piece. Not one piece matched up to the markings I made on each pattern piece, probably because nothing was truly on grain at any given time. So a few pieces got "forced" into place (I know, I know...). Somehow I got off at the waistline and the bodice and skirt didn't match quite right. No clue what I did! I was able to do a bit of tweaking and get it mostly right, but there was one spot on the right side where I just couldn't solve it. Good thing I just bought a new 2" black belt! 

I kept on telling Hubby over and over again, "I sure hope I like this dress when it's all done," with a few growls. Thank goodness, I do!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Stripey Maxi Dress - McCall's 7121

Finally! A quick and easy project that took less than a week from start to finish! Which I needed since my last one dragged on forever and the Pattern Review Sew Small contest starts this week. I'm a one project at a time sort of gal.

McCall's 7121
This project was one almost the whole family got to participate in. Because I had to stripe match some pretty large pattern pieces, the fabric wouldn't fit on my cutting table. So onto the biggest open spot on the tile floor it went. That meant fending off two greyhounds and a cat who never heard about Curiosity and The Cat was fun.

It was a good thing that ordering fabric from Amazon instead of their original incarnation only allowed me to order fabric in whole yards, meaning I had about 1/2 yard extra than what the pattern called for or I would have been making the knee length version. My fabric's stripes had a pretty big repeat meaning I had to really play around with pattern piece placement in order to get it to fit. I was within 1-2 inches of not having enough. However, once I got it all sewed up, I discovered I needn't have worried. The skirt is LONG and I had to cut off a couple inches to avoid dragging on the ground.

I enjoyed that I got to use my serger for most of this dress. Serging is fast! Zoom! I did baste it all together first with my fun new Pfaff with its IDT system (wow! love the IDT! no shifting whatsoever - the stripes stayed put where I pinned them when I basted them together.) I've been calling my new machine Pfanny Pfaff in my head.

The Front...With my helper Chloe
Next go round, I'm going to redraw the bodice to have the sleeves of a Simplicity dress (1808) that I have. It gives more shoulder coverage with elastic sewn in. It gives just a hint of sleeve while still being summery. I always end up wearing short sweaters with anything without sleeves, which annoys me in state that is summer 11 months out of the year.

The pattern calls for an elastic casing at the waist. I decided against that for a few reasons. Instead, I bought some clear elastic sew-in stabilizer that you use for stabilizing seams in knits. Just sewed it in when I serged the top to the bottom...easy peasy. (It was a first for me. I always agonize when doint a a "first.") I was concerned it wouldn't give enough stretch but it does. I used regular woven stabilizer tape for the shoulder seams. Next time, I want to add some to the side bodice seams since it stretches just a little bit with the weight of the skirt.

Another thing I want to do next go 'round, supposing there is a next go 'round, is to sew in a label in the back before I hem the back neckline. The only reason I can tell the front from the back when it's not on is the fact that I raised the front neckline by an inch. If I hadn't I would be puzzling it out each time I want to wear it, trying it on and checking if it fits right to see if I have it on backwards. And you know, you ALWAYS put it on wrong first, and even when you do put it on right, you doubt yourself...

Remember how I mentioned I had a helper when cutting out my pattern pieces? I also had a helper during the photo shoot. Chlode-Dog is such a good little helper

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Finally! Pencil skirt DONE!

So, it's been awhile since I made anything. That can be explained by one word: school! I started this project nearly a month ago right at the beginning of school. I thought a pencil skirt was basic enough that it shouldn't be that bad. Wrong! School.

First, I must mention that this is my first project on my new machine: a Pfaff Creative 1.5. Husband surprised me by saying "why don't you get it?" when I thought surely it was a "whatever you want to do with your fun money" item. I guess the fact that I spend a lot all my free time sewing and the fact that the starter machine I had bought myself -with my fun money - made it actually seem useful. And I have dragged him to the mall a LOT less than before I realized that making my own clothes is a lot more fun than buying clothes helps, too!

But I digress. Actually, I have to digress a bit more...I love my new machine! I love the IDT system. Built in walking foot? Genious! Auto thread cutter? Brilliant! Lovely built in stitches! I haven't tried the embroidery yet because, quite frankly, I don't know anything about embroidery or stabilizers or anything and I'm a little scared. My dealer is supposed to be offering a class on this machine soon and I'm going to wait for guidance.

So, as I said above, I started this skirt a month ago and it's been awhile in the making. First, I decided to add a lining because, well, it's a pencil skirt and pencil skirts are supposed to have a lining. But it had a kick pleat and I had no idea how to add that in. Thankfully, there's Google and bloggers! Not that all tutorials are created equal. When I made my Bluegingerdoll Betsy skirt, I followed a tutorial on lining that and got all way out lost. So I hunted for another one and found a great tutorial on A Fashionable Stitch: pencil skirt sew-a-long. It led me just fine through attaching the vent lining to the main fabric. There was a head-scratchy moment exactly where she said there would be but she walked me through that head-scratchy and I unpicked it no problemo!

 See how nicely it turned out? Way better than my Betsy! It looks like it's supposed to, even if it's not as nice as some of my ready-to-wear vents, but hey, those ladies have made a lot more than I have.

 Now, my invisible zipper, from the inside, is NOT right. Although I knew in the back of my mind that I should think it through BEFORE I did everything else, I pushed that thought down and said to myself, "I'll cross that bridge when I come to it." I knew that was wrong. I knew I'd not be happy with the result. But I did that anyway. I look for tutorials on how to solve the dilemma I created for myself, but I ended up just doing an amateur solution since I would have had to unpick. From the outside it looks okay.


 More information included in my review on Pattern Review.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Vintage pattern, vintage fabric: Simplicity 1278

Well, sort of! The pattern is a Simplicity vintage reprint from the 1950s; the blue floral fabric is "vintage," only if you call the 1980s or early 1990s "vintage." Some do, but since I was alive then, I don't! This pattern has been in my stash for quite some time but the neckline intimidated me so I put it off. I'm glad I finally tackled it because I really quite like it.

I had some leftover white rayon challis from my Owl Dress so I decided to use it up. I hadn't intended it to be a wearable "muslin," or first draft, but that's how it ended up. I had a few problems, nothing major. Not one Simplicity pattern that I've made so for (or other Big 4) has been too tight across the back and shoulders in a size 12. This one was, which is one reason why I ended up making a second version.

The other reason was I knew the white would be slightly thin but hoped against hope (foolishly, as I knew...I was just stubborn) that it would be better than it was. Unfortunately, it's only wearable with a cami underneath because the white is just too transparent. Also, can you see in the picture how the center has a thick white line up the front? That's the seam allowances showing through. Also, the darts show the same way.

Dots don't match up!
The neckline took a lot of work! Lots of details to be marked on the fabric, lots of matching, lots of pinning, lots of stages in sewing it up with the neckband. Totally worth it though! I did discover, I think, a marking issue on the pattern. When pinning one of the fold-over tabs, it instructs you to match two dots with two dots on the neckline. There is no way that happens. The neckline dots are spread farther apart than the pleated fold-over part. Do you see how the dots on the far right are never going to touch when the left dots nearly touch? When I made my second version I was extra careful marking and folding just in case it was "user error" on my rough draft. Nope! Not user error.
All in all, though, I did like the result enough to attempt another one right away. I had a little bit (maybe a yard? I didn't even bother checking) of some fabric I brought back from my mom's that was mine from junior high or early high school. I laid the pattern pieces out on it and almost had enough to get another one of these tops made. I was just short the fabric for the neck band pieces, which I'm glad about because I love the dark blue contrast.

I sewed 3/8" seam allowances everywhere it had been tight before, which helped. It's still a wee bit pully but not too bad. Isn't the blue one pretty?

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Decisions Decisions Decisions! Butterick 6169

Last fall, this beautiful pinky-rose print caught my eye at JoAnn's. The more I saw it, the more I couldn't decide if I loved it or not. After, it was pink; it was roses; it was loud in a pink, large print sort of way. Was it old lady? But I loved how the colors worked together, and I love roses. it??? However, it didn't really matter, after all, because it was part of the "Silky Print" collection, 100% polyester, and the last fabric (and only fabric) I bought from that collection I hated. Sticky, non-breathable stuff, and I wear the shirt I made from it only a few times a year. So this new find was a definite "No."

But then they had a sample dress made up out of it the next time I was there and I just kept looking at it. So pretty! Still I managed to walk away. But I just kept seeing it in my mind's eye and so when it went on sale, I caved. It was going to become Simplicity 1587.

But when it came time to actually make it up, I never wanted to. It just didn't feel right. I was afraid it would be too fitted, that that hideous 100% polyester "Silky Print" needed something more flowy, looser, breathable; and I just wasn't in love with that pattern as much as I was the day I bought it. The fabric sat in my stash, unwanted, unloved, undecided.

This spring or summer, I found a pattern that I realized would be perfect: Butterick 6169, one of the new Spring 2015 Lisette patterns. Flowy, drapey, open sleeves, no tight waist. Before making up this dress, I had just finished Butterick 6168, my owl dress, another Lisette pattern. Both were really easy to work from, and I wouldn't hesitate to use another of her patterns. Both of these have sewalongs on her website which have additional tips and suggestions to make the sewing process smoother with more professional results.

Since I didn't have enough of my pink floral fabric and I wanted to make the version with the tie belt, I needed to buy another cut and I decided on a solid pink. The instructions have you sew the tie on, but I decided not to do that so that I could swap out other colors if I wasn't pleased with the pink. I am, but I do have enough of the main fabric left that I want to try out making a vintage style fabric covered belt. Overall, the combination is quite nice, isn't it? The dress also looks okay without the belt, but I like the added definition the belt gives.

About a week before making the dress, I stumbled on a lucky find at Bookman's, a local huge used bookseller - among all kinds of other things used. I was browsing through the magazines and saw this issue of Threads with some magical words:
Master Your Narrow-Hemmer Foot! "Not possible," says I. I had tried that elusive foot out so many times only to give up in frustration. "No one can master the narrow-hemmer foot!" I'm glad I walked out of Bookman's with that issue (January 2002) in my hands because when it came time to hem the dress (it only includes a 5/8" hem allowance, not the 1 to 1 1/2" I've usually encountered), I didn't want to attempt the instructions either in the pattern or hand hem it like Leisl did on the sewalong. What to do, what to do! Out came the issue, I tried out the instructions, and voila! It worked! I mastered the narrow-hemmer foot! (Okay, I'm not a master yet, but it came out really nice, with only a few hick-up spots to fix.) Overall, I'm really pleased with it. The curvy bits of the dress' hem needed quite a bit of steam though to fall without rolling. I was worried that after the first wash it would need more steaming, but nope! Did I mention I was really pleased with this hem? :)

The front and back yokes both have a lining which makes the interior look really finished. It required a bit of handstiching, and mine's still got room for improvement, but I do like how it finishes the dress nicely. I also like the bias binding. It's one of the better ones I've made, especially with this slippery fabric. My last "Silky Print" project from JoAnn also had a binding and it is embarrassing! All twisty, rolly, puckery. This is much improved - lays much straighter with fewer attempts to roll (like the bottom left in the pic.) But since most of it looks good, yay for newbie progress, right???

My review on Pattern Review is here.  And a couple close ups for the end!