Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A dress win! McCalls 6884

I recently did an audit of my patterns (see here) and was disturbed by how many of them were dresses.  The upshot is, I own about 20% dress patterns when I would probably wear them less than 5% of the time.  I also discovered I make more dresses than other things, despite them not ever really making me feel comfortable.

So, of course my most recent finish is a dress (argh!).  This is McCalls 6884 in Robert Kaufman Laguna Knit Jersey and was a kit from Craftsy.


Sorry for the terrible lighting - it was a rush job on a cloudy day before work..Also - what am I looking at??

I have to say I like this dress.  I believe it to be more flattering than it looks here (though perhaps I have made the crossover a little too high, given I am likely to wear a cami underneath anyway).


Overall the dress is pretty comfortable and I like the length of the sleeves.

The pattern was pretty straightforward to make up, though I didn't like the way the wrap at the front was handled.  I came very close to stretching the neckline beyond saving because I kept having to frick about with it.  I also had to take a fair bit (like several inches each side!) off the side seams from the waist down - they were expecting a very different hip and thigh profile to mine for the size!

A quick look at the model in the dress confirms for me that they are expecting this to be quite plunging at the neckline.


Just looking at this and realising I like the length of her sleeves better.  Why didn't I make that?

Am also thinking I wish I had made view C, where the tie doesn't wrap around the body (see below).  Maybe I can work out how to tie it differently so it doesn't wrap around the front...




Not much else to say on this - it was quick to sew and the fabric is really soft and has reasonable recovery for jersey.  I am likely to wear it to work and feel pretty good, though it's not knocking my socks off (the tie gets a bit annoying).  It's pretty exciting to have another dress win in my arsenal, though I really want to stop sewing things I won't wear so much and get on with some pants!!!

I leave you with a delightful picture of me in the dress which should have been an out-take.  Whatever just happened I am seriously underwhelmed...!!


Sunday, May 24, 2015

Onyx Shirt from Paprika Patterns (Pattern Test)

I put my hand up to test for Paprika Patterns a while back.  I had a great experience with making the Jasper sweater and it's getting a lot of use now the weather her in Sydney has chilled down a bit.

Their newest pattern is the Onyx Shirt, which is designed for lightweight to medium wovens.  There are a number of variations between sleeves, necklines and cuffs, as you can see from the line drawings below:


I made two versions, both with the scoped neckline shown on view B and both with sleeves.  They both have a hi-lo hem, which is more exaggerated on the crop version than the longer version.  While a crop top isn't usually my thing, I thought I might try this out:



I used a thinish woven of unknown composition acquired from Spotlight some years back.   I think it actually has a small amount of stretch but not much.    I lengthened this top by about 2 inches and think it was 0.5 inches (or maybe a full inch) too much.


Excuse the terrible pressing job on this and the awkward pose - I was trying to show the hi-lo hem...

I actually don't mind the crop version on me, which was a surprise as it wouldn't be my usual comfort-zone!  I am unlikely to wear it without a vest under, but as it's winter here that's no huge deal.  I need to make some high waisted pants or a skirt to see whether I would wear it a lot I think.



I did also wonder about fitting it in under the bust and adding a closure (invisible zip) at the side seam - this might make it more flattering.  My husband also suggested that it felt like "it should actually be a short jacket" but I suspect that was more due to the lack of drape in my chosen fabric...

My second version was View A, with the neckline of View B:



I used a fairly sheer printed chiffon-type fabric for this (again, Spotlight many years ago) with a kind of chevron pattern on it.  This has so much more drape than the other version and I like it and wear it a lot.


It has all the comfort and ease of a drapey jersey t-shirt, but looks just a bit smarter - enough that I wear it to work all the time.  I didn't add the button cuffs - only really because I liked the clean line of the cuff with the pattern going the other way on it.  I usually love a button cuff sleeve so it was a surprise that I didn't end up adding them,



I again added some length to this one, and again I feel I added just a little bit too much.

Not much else to report on these.  I liked the neckline treatment - it was pretty easy to get it to lie nice and flat on both versions I made.  Those drag lines aren't usually there when I am moving around either :)


I also liked the boxy shape and the hi-lo hem, though as mentioned I think I added a little bit too much length.  I used french seams throughout as this was super-prone to fraying.

Both versions were a very quick sew and as mentioned in other posts, I like the sizing approach that they take in their patterns (there is a little flow chart to guide you towards the best approach if you don't exactly match the size measurements).

While the jury is still out on whether I will wear View B much, I suspect I will be making more of View A - nice and quick, not a huge fabric hog and looks smart or casual depending on what you wear with it:  that's a winner!!!


Monday, April 27, 2015

Patterns I Own - a disturbing exercise...

A couple of weeks ago I got a new little file drawer thing to keep sewing patterns in (not all of them, because it's little, more the "working set" or queue).  It was a bit of an impulse buy but it's soooo pretty:



Anyway, the purchase led to some sewing room reorganisation.  That sounds very grand, but "sewing room" is actually part of our bedroom, and "reorganisation" means I swapped one shelving unit and the chest of drawers around :)

The "reorg" led to me deciding on a whim to catalogue all the patterns I have.  Because that wouldn't take long right?  I figured I would use Pinterest, as it's visual, and when Sara Lawson (Sew Sweetness) starting doing this a while back I was jealous.

Many hours passed...



WHAT???  I own 93 patterns for women alone (note - this is now 94 as I realised when writing this I had missed one).  You can see them all here.  This doesn't even really capture it because several of those pins are entire books, with multiple patterns in.  Plus there are other boards with substantial numbers on (bags and childrens patterns, I am looking at you...).

I decided to do some analysis.


We can ignore "Other" in the graph - this is mostly knitting patterns which I decided not to further categorise.

My stand out in the above is that out of 94 pins, I have 18 dress patterns.  Why?  I don't wear dresses very often and I don't think they are ever the most flattering choice for me, yet nearly 20% of my patterns are dresses.  It gets even worse if we included books in the tally, because one of the books is actually called "Little Green Dresses", so my dress pattern count is in fact artificially low.

[As an aside, I am a bit shamed by the books as I have made seriously little from them - perhaps that's a challenge to take on in the future...]

Oddly, when I look at what I have actually made from the patterns I own, the dresses are well represented there also.


So.  I wear trousers pretty much all the time and have made 1 pair (Tessuti Chloe Pants), but have made 8 dresses.  To be fair, there are several pairs of Alexandria Peg Shorts which aren't shown in here because I forgot to count them and was too lazy to go back and add them in...but STILL.

I think this shows where I am going wrong with sewing and the things I have made - I have made a lot of clothes for me now, but could never attempt me-made-May as I am not making things I want to wear in high rotation or that I even wear at all.

To illustrate how successful my dress making is not - here are the 8 dresses and their status:


One of the first things I ever tried to make.  I never finished it.

I found this the other day and it doesn't fit so now I will never finish it.

FAIL

The second and fourth dresses I made.  By far the most successful dress pattern and results - I love these dresses and find them flattering!    I will probably make more of these - it's a TNT pattern for me :)

SUCCESS!

The third dress I made, when everyone else was too.  I wore this once.  Made me feel so self-conscious and ridiculous.  Not me at all!

Then I cut it off into a top and wore it a few more times, though I need to go back and fix a wavy hem issue.  Maybe I will or maybe I should just abandon it?

FAIL

This one was my favourite in "concept" (colours, stripes - yay!) but every time I wore it I felt it made me look pregnant.

It's now a maxi-skirt and gets a fair bit of wear, though probably doesn't count as a successful dress.

FAIL

Again - made when it was the dress de jour in the blogosphere. Similar pregnancy vibes to the above and never got worn very often.

I had plans to make this a skirt but can't recall where it is or whether I did that...

FAIL

One of the more successful efforts - I have worn this a few times.  I definitely have a shoulder / chest fit issue with this one, though most versions I have seen have a similar issue, so perhaps it's the pattern (see the little crease coming from the armhole on the stripey version?).

Worth working on further and possibly making again - as its comfortable and fairly flattering.

PARTIAL SUCCESS

The work in progress eighth dress.  This is a craftsy kit so I am actually making the dress she is wearing in the same fabric.

Stay tuned for results!

PENDING
Out of 8 makes, 2 are still worn a lot, 1 is not perfect but worth adjustment and another is still on the sewing table.  It's not really a high strike rate, but for some reason I am making a type of garment I don't usually reach for.

Despite this realisation that I don't wear the dresses I make, my current work in progress is a dress :(  The law of not creating UFOs means I must press on until the end, but my new mission statement is to MAKE SOME DAMN TROUSERS ALREADY!

On a final note, I was interested in the breakdown between indie and non-indie patterns.  I believed I had more indie than others and was happy to see I was right.  The Big 4 patterns are mostly dresses (godammit...) and shirts, which is something I seemingly want to make more of, as I have at least three rather similar patterns there :)



Go indie!  And hello pant-making :)

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Princess Jasmine / Bollywood Costume

A little while back Issy got invited to a Bollywood party.  I saw this as an excellent challenge and way to use up some of the more garish fabrics I bought when I thought I might make her a gymnastics outfit


I used the Made by Rae Flashback Skinny Tee in the 6-10 version and my first ever Burda pattern for the pants.  I think I tightened the tee a bit more after this shot.  For the tee I just made the flashback with short sleeves and cropped it, then added a band around the bottom (using the same method for the sleeve / neck bands).


For the pants, I used a pattern out of a Burda magazine (no idea which one as I have since tidied up).  It was a pattern for kids woven pants with an elasticated waist.  I made two versions (kind of).  The first was a shorts version which was sized to be very close (actually slightly under) her actual measurements .  I made these in a super stretchy spandex dance-wear fabric and these are the little shorts underneath the massive trousers.  Then I made a version which was a couple of sizes too big for her and redrafted the led to be straight instead of tapered and quite long (aiming for maximum "pouffiness").  I gathered the bottom of the legs onto an elastic cuff, then put the shorts inside the pants and gathered / stretched them both onto the waistband.


You can see the shorts a bit in the picture above.  Overall the effect was exactly what she and I were after.  I did also have a chiffon wrap / headscarf thing but that was swiftly abandoned.  The client suggested we rework that into a kind of half circle half overskirt (i.e. a skirt which wasn't at the front but was a the back - like a pants-cape???  They must have a name....).  The dressmaker suggested she had reached the limits of effort she was willing to expend on a costume for a single party, so that never happened.

I did make a matching hairband though, because I am a sap.  Plus she wears that in normal circulation so it's arguably the most useful part of the costume :)


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Thread Theory Camas in Fantasia from Art Gallery Fabrics

Note:  I received the Camas Blouse for free to review and the Fantasia fabric as a gift from Sara Lawson, the designer.  All opinions are my own :)

Sara Lawson recently offered to send out some of her new line Fantasia (for Art Gallery Fabrics),  It seemed from her email that she really just wanted to get the fabric out there and experience the joy of seeing what people made with the fabric, so she cut it all up and sent it out to people who were happy to make something over the next few weeks.  I put my hand up for some of the knits and she sent me a couple of yards of the Kokka Sprites (Teal) knit:


I have to confess, I am not usually drawn to patterns, particularly larger scale ones (the sprites are probably about 6 inches tall, for reference).  I don't dislike them, I just never feel I know what to do with them or how to wear them.

I would have picked this, given the choice - which is about as close to a non-pattern print as you can get!!!


Happily for me, Sara had Sprites left and sent me the teal ones.  When they arrived I was so pleased she had - the teal colour is beautiful and the little accents of mustard and greyish greens in the fabric are gorgeous (web colour rendering does not do this fabric justice!).

I used the fabric to make another Camas:


I used the Sprites as the main fabric, with a very light chambray as the yoke area.

The first time I made the Camas, I added a strip into the side seam as a "design feature".  I think it turned out pretty awesome (the strip was sequins, so it's hard to fault!) but I really needed to have done an FBA on the blouse.   This time, I did a proper FBA using this tutorial from Jennifer Lauren Vintage.  This tutorial is amazing - I have only ever done an FBA where you introduce a dart, or an FBA on a shirt which already has a side dart.  In this tutorial you do a normal (dart-inducing) FBA, then rotate that dart out.  I just worked through the steps and aside from some nerves about how much the pattern piece had to be hacked and taped, it was clear and easy to do.  It's my new go-to instruction set for this adjustment.


Aside from my awkward arm placement adding a crease where there isn't one, this blouse is perfect.  The fabric is bright and the pattern is pattern-y but as a print-o-phobe I don't feel odd wearing it.  The fabric is also extremely soft and has a good amount of spandex in, which is crucial for good recovery.  I had been wearing this top all day by the time we took these pictures and it retained it's shape very well.


I don't think this will be my last Camas, especially with the new adjustment for a dartless FBA.  Similarly I have some of the fabric left, so my daughter might get lucky and have a new skirt in the near future.  She LOVES the idea of matching outfits (heaven help me!) so there might be a "Mummy and Me" feature in the near future...!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Jasper Sweater Dress Review (Paprika Patterns)

You can find my review of the Jasper Sweater Dress from Paprika Patterns at the Curvy Sewing Collective blog.  There is also a giveaway to win a copy of the pattern.

You can find my full review here:  http://curvysewingcollective.com/jasper-sweater-review-and-giveaway/ and a sneak peak of my version below:


Monday, March 23, 2015

Hey June Evergreen Jacket (Pattern Test)

I can't believe I didn't post this sooner - it's been on the bloggy backlog for too long!  I put my hand up to test Hey June Handmade's Evergreen Jacket back in February.

This was perfect timing for me as my old winter coat is looking very shabby.  I originally wanted to make a copy of it, but since moving to warmer climes that probably isn't a good idea as it wouldn't get much wear.  My version of the Evergreen Jacket is a great lighter weight option instead:



The Evergreen is an asymmetrical "biker" jacket with ribbed cuffs and waistband.  I had to put "biker" in air quotes, because it seemed odd any other way, given the semi-floral print I used :)

The pattern is designed for stretch fabrics and can be made in anything from sweatshirt fleece to a woven (assuming you are careful about sizing appropriately).  I really want to make another in a ponte, though I feel like even that might be too warm for Sydney...



I used a cotton sateen (from Spotlight again!) which had a fairly minimal stretch.  I think the recommendation was no less than 10%, though the advice was there to size up and go for a woven if that was your preference.  As my fabric did have some stretch I got away with sticking to size, though I wouldn't have been able to if I wanted to wear big jumpers underneath or similar.

I made this a while ago but don't recall anything confusing or off in the instructions or construction. I did muck up and miss the step where you interface the collar, so mine is a little floppy but otherwise I like this jacket!  It's not lined, though that probably suits me as I wanted to keep it light.  I am planning to go back and bind the seams inside so it looks pretty, given I think I might get some wear out of this one.

The only thing I would change if I made this again would be to add a little to the length, but as I am nearly 6 foot this would be a me-thing and not a comment on the pattern itself.  The size range of the pattern wasn't remarkable (I was near the top end) which is about standard for most.

I leave you with a rather disturbing picture in which I look like either I know all your secrets, or I am about to calmly murder you.  You decide which...


Nice jacket though :)