Monday, August 15, 2016

Hot Patterns 1138 - Or, I finally finished something

My posts are now so far and few between that I feel like I should start every one off with "Yep, still alive." Blame Instagram. Blame my lack of home technology. I really need a new desktop computer but don't want to spend the bucks on it. I have a decent laptop but I really dislike blogging on it, so I'm just not doing it. Plus, I just haven't been sewing as much. A lot of that was some weight gain and not feeling motivated to sew for a body I wasn't keeping, but I'm back on track again after a kickstart with the Whole30 program.

Whole30 is a "whole" 'nother post but the short version is that I like it. I don't feel deprived at all and have found it pretty easy to eat this way. Mostly because its how I want to eat, how I used to eat. I just got lazy the last year and slid down a slippery slope. But I have a wedding to attend in May 2017 (my stepson Michael) and I'm determined to look great again by then.

So onto my latest finished project, the HotPatterns Metropolitan Verano dress. It seems that this very easy sew takes me FOREVER to finish. The last time I made it, I had started it and then lost *that* job and so it sat on Zillie. It sat on Zillie this time too, but not for any bad reason. I was just focused on other things. And once again, I'm wondering why I let it sit. I love my new dress. It's easy and comfortable to wear and I think it's flattering. I'm really not into shifts or boxy silhouettes. They look horrible on me. This dress with its elastic waist will also still fit for a while as I go down in sizes, which is great.

Speaking of sizes, this is the same straight 12 I made last time except this time I tilted the upper back bodice inward on the fold to remove a little neckline width since I had to take two darts in the back neck last time to compensate for gaping. My down-n-dirty fix worked; no darts needed. Now I am not a 12 in anything but Hot Patterns so please, please do muslins (even partial) for these patterns. They run big from their measurement chart, but it's pretty consistent across the pattern line.

No great photography here at Chez Stitches and Seams. Work bathroom selfies all the way. Heh heh.

Here's how the untwisted fronts sat and sat, mocking me.

The pattern calls for a neckline facing and while it's pretty much OK in my first make of this dress, I'm not in love. So I tossed that pattern piece (figuratively) and just turned the edge twice and stitched. I like this finish much, much better, even if it take 437 pins.

Here's what it looks like on the inside. This method means changing the construction order so that the center front is sewn after finishing the neckline and then just stitched as high as you want the neckline to plunge (or not).

I also took the same shortcuts for the waist as I did last time. I did not overlock the seams and created a casing from the seam allowances between the bodice and skirt. I threaded elastic through and just ran it over the sideseam and under the front twist/knot. Easy-peasy and no one but us knows the difference. The other change from the pattern that I made was to cut the back pieces on the fold to eliminate unnecessary seams.

I didn't add my super nifty card key loop on this, because I forgot. But I realized I can just clip it into the knot/twist, which is just as handy.

Extra goofy face.

And here's the flip-flop pic once I got home, so you can see the fit a little better. With a little Chili photobomber.

I've got another Cashmerette Concord tee (with a Hot Patterns inspired hack) cut out. Hopefully, I'll be back here with that sooner rather than later.

Stay well!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Kwik Sew 4154 - A Winner! (The reveal and the review)

Long time, no see. Kinda like my sewing mojo these days. My mental list of things I want to make always overtakes the Department of Time and Energy.

Summer is (and has been) here in Florida and it's back to hot and humid. I always call this time of year the Florida "winter," which only means that I compare this time of wanting to stay inside and avoid the weather to actual winter months for colder climates. I wouldn't want to go outside in January in Wisconsin, for example, and neither do I want to spend much time outside here in Tampa in July/August. Well, at least not very far from ice-cold cocktails and the air-conditioner for a quick cool-down. :-)

Well, I did finally trap some sewjo and set about to make a new summer dress. (I have at least 20 more summer garments I want to make. Yeah, don't hold your breath.)

From the Kwik Sew website: Dresses have semi-fitted bodice with center front seam, V-neckline finished with self-fabric facing, front and back partial gathers at waist seam, tie ends at sides to be tied in front and back zipper closure. Dress A: Narrow hemmed short sleeves, straight skirt with front and back waist darts and back vent. Dress B: Armholes finished with bias tape and narrow-hemmed flared skirt.

I made view B, but added the view A sleeves. KS patterns are sized XS-S-M-L-XL, which corresponds to measurement ranges per size given on the envelope. The letter size usually correlates to the larger of the measurement range so if you're in between sizes, keep that in mind. My experience with KS is also that they tend to have more ease than I want. I started with the M for neckline/shoulders/bodice and morphed to L/LX at waist and below. This pattern has gathers at the waist which I figured would give the girls plenty of breathing room, and I was right. No FBA was done or was needed. Before cutting the pattern, I made my usual 3/8" square shoulder adjustment with KS patterns and raised the M armhole 3/8" to match the shoulder adjustment. This worked well. The armholes hit my armpits high, like I prefer. Not too high, but just enough. For next time, though, I probably will move the side front armhole inward toward my chest as it's sitting a bit too wide for my personal preference. Nothing that screams "bad fit" or anything, just not how I want it to be in a perfect dress. The only other "alteration" I made was to add an inch to the bottom hem when I cut, for insurance. I turned a 1.25" hem in the end and I like the finished length so this was a good call, although I don't think it would be too short if I didn't add that inch.

While I really like the finished dress and the pattern overall, I absolutely HATE the facings. First of all, this pattern is supposed to be for knits and wovens and while the facings are interfaced, there's no way in a knit they would ever stand up per the pattern photograph. Which is actually a happy accident for me, because I do prefer them falling into a "lapel" and opening the neckline somewhat. It's a much more flattering look on me. I stitched and understitched the facings and still they wanted to roll outward. Grrr. I knew this would happen but didn't heed my inner voice. I even topstitched the entire neckline edge and down the "vee" and still they rolled. I settled on the sledge hammer approach and just fused the damn things completely at the front and strategically on the back neckline, using some 3/8" Steam-a-Seam. It worked. I'm good. But next time, I'm either changing the neckline and binding it or I'm making a self-fabric upper lining.

I did make a few changes to the construction, mostly because I was using a knit. A heavy knit. (This is a rayon knit from the Nicole Miller collection at Joann's. Yes, Joann's. And I actually ordered it online instead of in person. This was a first for me. The fabric is very, very nice. I highly recommend it.)

First, I eliminated all ease in the sleeve cap by cutting a smaller size and sewed it in flat. And while I did follow the instructions for creating the waist gathers front and back (which you can see in the photo above), in the end it wasn't really necessary since I made an interior "casing" by sewing the bodice and skirt seam allowances together and inserting 3/8" elastic. The rayon knit is very heavy and I knew it would need some support for the waist seam to actually stay at my waist. I'm glad I did this and I recommend it for anyone making the knit version of this dress. I also eliminated the back zip and CB bodice seam. I knew I'd be able to put this dress on over my head. And I can. Easily.

I did keep the back skirt in two pieces to conserve fabric but I think I'd consider using the front one-piece pattern for the back too next time because it's drapey-er/swishy-er than the back. But since I can't see it, I don't even think about it.

The last change I made was to add a key card loop thingie like I did for my last dress. I love this feature on that dress! And yes, I could've hooked the card onto the tie front, but I didn't want to distort the sash, so the loop is in the seam under the ties. Which also means it won't show if/when I wear this dress outside of the office.

And here's the dress on me, complete with goofy work bathroom mirror selfie face.

And back view. You can't see a CB seam in the skirt (yay!) but you can see how it's not quite as swishy. It still looks nice and I'm not unhappy with it.

Yep, I'm in the bathroom. I wish Gillian lived closer (and I bet she does too every January!) because I'd definitely bribe her to be my blog photo buddy.

What's on your summer sewing list?

Monday, May 9, 2016

Kwik Sew 3873 and Cashmerette Concord Mash-Up: Reveal

I took this past Thursday and Friday off with big plans to sew for 4 days. Well, all I managed to finish was my mash-up of Kwik Sew 3873 with a Cashmerette Concord Tee bodice, but I'm happy with my new dress so it's a win. The weather was just too nice on Saturday to stay inside all day but the biggest speed bump was my second thoughts about all these prints together, resulting in a bad case of analysis paralysis.

Cutting went very quickly, especially considering how many pieces there are. Since I was using 3 different fabrics and most pattern pieces were able to be "nested," I still have plenty left of each print for future projects.

I had the print mix in my mind before I started, but once I had everything cut out, I started second-guessing myself and visualizing Mrs. Frizzle. I ended up staring at it all on my cutting table for about a day before I finally decided to just do it. Once I actually started, the sewing went fast. The Kwik Sew pieces for the skirt curvy sections have notches that line up perfectly, making alignment and construction very straightforward. And since I morphed the already-tested Cashmerette Concord Tee for the bodice section, fitting alterations were eliminated.

With the bodice and skirt sections stitched, it was time for some more navel gazing. I had initially cut out sleeves from the same print as the bodice but then thought maybe I wanted contrasting sleeves. I put out a call for an informal poll on Instagram and the opinions were about equal for both options.

I decided the matching sleeves were a little less Crazytown and since I already had them cut out, they won. I'm happy with that decision. A contrast neckband finished up the print mixing.

I shortened the sleeves about 2-1/2 inches compared to the KS pattern (not the Concord sleeve) because while I wanted to try the longer short sleeve length, I decided it was too frumpy on me. After the first full try-on, I also shortened the back bodice 1 inch at the center graduating to 0 at the side seams. This was more to fine-tune the morph of the Concord in lieu of a real muslin. It also meant frog-stitching the back waist seam, but since I hadn't serged that seam, it was fairly painless.

Finally, since I have to carry a key card at work and without pockets I have nowhere to hang it, I added a loop at the front right waist seam for clipping the card onto it. I have to say that I LOVE this feature. Dorky, but so useful!

All of the mirror pics show how I wore this dress to work today, including my key card. It's the end of the day so I'm a little wilted but life is life. I'm never going to win for most beautiful blog pics. Hah.

And one more just because. The bottom "hem" isn't really. I just left the cut edge raw. After wearing all day, I think it probably grew a little too long and I may go ahead and hem it at some point when I want to veg with Netflix and pin a million pins on a very wide skirt hem. In other words, don't anyone hold their breath on that one. :-)

Final verdict: I love the dress! It fits nicely, thanks to the Concord bodice (by the way, if you're busty/curvy, go get this tee now! I am not affiliated, yada yada ... just really happy with the pattern). The dress skims lumps and bumps,and the twirl/swish factor is awesome. I even like the print mix again. It feels summery and fun. I'll definitely be visiting this pattern morph again, just in a more subdued way. I think I'd like it as a skirt too.

Parting shot: My Mother's Day gift from Alex ... New ceramic pots and colorful crotons to put in them. I love them!

Monday, April 25, 2016

Cashmerette Concord Tee - The Reveal and Review

I'm done. Tee shirts used to take me a 2-3 hours. Now, it seems, they take weeks. Hmmm. :-)

It's not the pattern that's the problem here. The Cashmerette Concord pattern is really great. I just started to dislike the fabric and had to force myself to keep at it. Now that it's done, I like it again. I just hated sewing with it. It's a thin rayon/lycra knit and it wanted to wiggle all over the place. At some point early on, once I declared this a "wearable muslin," I pretty much just gave up on stripe matching. If it happened, yay. If not, I wasn't going to care. I see a few spots in the pics that could be better but I still just don't care. This is a casual tee. No one in real life will even notice. It's fine. I just point out these things for other sewists, to keep it real. In actual life, nope.

So, as you can see, I used 3 different fabrics for the tee. Had I known how much I hated sewing with this fabric, it would be a b/w-only striped tee. :-) But I soldiered on, and here's a crappy cellphone-pointed-at-the-mirror pic.

And another cell pic from during the process when I was gauging the neckline width. (Did you notice the cool-geeky dinosaur necklace?) If you remember, I had some concerns last post about the open-ness of the neckline since I'm a bit narrow-shouldered. To compensate, I cut a 14 for the neck/shoulders. This is 2 sizes smaller than my size per the instructions (using my full bust measurement). It worked well. In the photo below, the neckband isn't attached and my bra straps are only just visible. Meaning, with the neckband, I'd have full coverage. Jenny (from Cashmerette) confirmed the neckline is "pretty open." My conclusion, it's a nice width but definitely go narrower if you have narrow shoulders. Or, cut a wider neckband. :-)

Close-up of neckband, sewn on with the sewing machine, and then coverstitched. I used the pattern piece for the neckband and I was a little concerned that it was going to take a ton of stretching to get it to fit the neck opening. It did but it also worked absolutely fine for this fabric. Still, I think I'm going to add a wee bit of length for poly knits such as ITYs. I have a really good feel for neckbands at this point in my sewing so it's one of those "I'll know it when I see feel it" kind of things. :-)

I also added the contrast band to the sleeve hems. (I like things in odd numbers, especially threes.) Although I cut the shortest sleeves in the pattern with a hem allowance (I didn't know I was going to use bands), I trimmed it off before attaching the bands. I like the finished length of the sleeves. The width is also good for me. I don't have skinny biceps but they aren't particularly meaty in proportion to the rest of me.

I color blocked the back as well as the front. I whacked at the pattern visually (meaning without measurements) so the back yoke length has no relation to the front. I was more interested in pleasing proportions viewing head on vs. how the two met around my armpit. The back yoke joining seam is one of those places where things could be more even. But it's my back. I just don't care.

I started with the shortest length and then proceeded to add 2 inches to it. And, yes, you guessed it …it's about 2 inches too long. I know it technically looks OK but 2 inches up is better on me. Since this is rayon, I'm going to see if a trip or two through the laundry takes care of things. This thin rayon does tend to like to keep shrinking a bit.

So, what I haven't specifically mentioned yet but I think is obvious from the photos is how well this tee fits me and the girls. The pattern is divided into C/D, E/F, and G/H cup sizes. I used the E/F as instructed because it was closer to my waist measurement. Yes, I said waist. It's an hourglass v. apple kind of thing, I'm guessing. I think the neckline options are nice. My only criticism on the necklines is the finish for the vee. It's more of a "scrubs" neckband, which I think is eh. I'm sure it's aimed at beginners, but I don't necessarily agree with "dumbing down" a tee pattern. But if I had been an actual tester as I initially agreed, maybe I could've changed some minds. We'll never know. :-) As for differing sleeve and hem lengths, these aren't really aimed at me since I can easily make those adjustments. For those who like to have it all in the package, it's good to have so no complaint there.

You may be thinking it's difficult to get excited about a tee pattern which costs $14/$18, but if you're a curvy lady who hasn't found tee nirvana in any other pattern, I say go for it. It will pay off in the long run. If you've been reading my blog for a while, you know that I love my Ottobre TNT. Well, that Ottobre magazine was probably in the $12-$15 range and I've made SO MANY variations on that tee that the cost of the magazine isn't even a factor anymore. (Yes, I know there are multiple patterns in the magazine but I didn't sew them.)

Don't tell my Ottobre bestie, but I think this Concord even fits me a little better. I like it enough that I'm subbing it into the bodice for the Kwik Sew dress pattern I showed last post.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

In the works and on deck

(Can you believe it? TWO posts from me in the same week!)

So it's Spring here in Tampa. For about another minute until it's All Summer-All Humid-All The Time … for months. And I'm ready for some new clothes.

First up, is the new Cashmerette Concord tee. This should have been a very quick sew over this past weekend. To be fair, it IS a quick sew. It just wasn't a quick decision on sizing so actually starting took some time. And let's not mention Netflix sucking me in.

In-Progress Concord

I was originally to be a tester but my sewing is so scarce and scattered these days that I pretty much just wussed out. Jenny very kindly sent me a paper pattern anyway. I'm a bad tester. But I am an honest reviewer, so maybe it will all work out?

Concord back pattern with curves!

With the paper pattern in hand, it meant I had to trace. It also meant I had to "sacrifice" some old never-used costume pattern so I had tracing paper to use, or something resembling it. (I know I have actual pattern tracing paper but I have no idea where it ended up after the move last July.) Tracing isn't a big deal. I have to be honest, though, and say I actually prefer PDFs just because I don't have to trace and I can just print another if I mess up.

So back to the sizing conundrum. I tend to run a little bit narrow in the shoulders and from the Concords I'd been seeing on blogs and Instagram, it looked to me like the neckline runs wide. After cutting and partially sewing, I agree with myself that it does have a wide-set neck opening. In the pic above, the neckband isn't yet sewn on (and in real life it's not even cut out), so the neck opening looks even wider than it will when finished.

Although my B-W-H measurements would put me in the 18-20 range, I started with the E/F cup and traced at 14 for the neckline and shoulders, gradually increasing to 16 at underarm/bust level, and then out to 20+ for hips/bum.

So far, everything is going great. Except my fiddly fabric. I thought I would do some colorblocking, and as you can see, I did. But I'm probably going to be sorry. This rayon knit is very flimsy and there is definite rippling where the two colors come together. I'm pretty sure that the neckband stitching will be meh too. So, I'm dubbing this a wearable muslin and we'll see how it goes.

The pattern itself is very nice. It's nothing earth-shattering for me because I now have years of fitting/altering experience (and a few TNT tees), but I can see that it's going to be a good fit (pun intended) for busty/curvy ladies who don't want to roll their own (paying homage to 4/20 today hahaha!). It should be very easy to get a great tee with a more modern fit than most other commercial tee patterns right out of the envelope. Just heed the possibility of a wide neckline. Oh, and maybe slim sleeves. They looked on the smaller side to me as I was tracing/cutting but I'm withholding final judgment since I haven't actually sewed up the sideseams/sleeves and tried it on yet.

The instructions look comprehensive and I love the 3/8" seam allowances. At the larger end of the plus pattern spectrum, that 3/8" seam allowance can make a real difference in pattern layout on fabric. Plus, it's just so much easier to sew and serge with a 3/8" SA. Jenny also says that there's a slight forward shoulder adjustment built-in. (This doesn't help me, of the erect posture brigade, but it might be of interest to you?)

I'm hoping to finish this up tonight and tomorrow night after work so I can then start on …

… Kwik Sew 3873. And yes, they still don't have the best illustrations/photos. But at least you can see the seamlines and I think it's going to be a fun summer dress with mix/match prints.The sleeves definitely need some de-frumping and KS has always run big in the armhole for me. If the Concord trial above is a win, I may just morph the two together (or if not, use my TNT).

Stay tuned. I promise I'll be back soon with an update on both.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Maria Denmark Kirsten Kimono Tee

A couple of weeks ago, Gillian of Crafting a Rainbow went on a tee bender, cutting and sewing four (4!!!) tees in less than a weekend. Me, I can barely sew four seams in a row lately. Anyway, Gillian's post inspired me to download and try the free Kirsten Kimono tee from Maria Denmark. It's only two pattern pieces (plus a neckband) and I would've had it finished last weekend had I not made a really boneheaded mistake at the finish line. More on that later. Anyway, here's the finished tee. I added an interfaced self-fabric sash to add some waist definition (and give me a place to hang my pass card at work).

I don't remember the exact sheet count for the PDF and the file isn't on this computer for me to check but it wasn't too many, and it went together quickly and with no alignment issues. (Edited to add: I've checked the pattern and it's 20 pages, 8 of which are instructions. So, only 12 pages to put together.) Seam allowances are not included but it was easy enough to add them with my rotary blade attachment as I cut out the pattern.

I went back and forth over sizing and in the end picked too big for the neck/shoulders. I ended up adding two pleats to the center front to take up the excess. No big deal on the finished top, as they look intentional. However, the pic below is NOT the finished top. I thought it was nearly done last weekend, until I realized that I had mixed up the back and front and those pleats below are really the back. (See the shoulder seams riding "forward"?) Of course, I didn't realize my mistake until after I had attached and coverstitched the neckband. I ripped it all out and was able to finally finish it this past weekend. It wasn't too traumatic, just frustrating to have to put off finishing for another week.

As I mentioned, the tee is only two pieces - a front and a back so not too complicated. But one part that was a nice surprise was how well the underarm hem turned under. Often on dolman/kimono sleeves, the underarm hem has to be fudged when it doesn't turn under evenly. Not so here. (The coverstitching looks a little messy because you're seeing my ending threads run under the loops.)

The finished tee, this time with the pleats in front. The next time I make this, I'll narrow the upper width so I can eliminate the pleats, although I do like them on this top for little interest. All in all, a great fast project and pattern, or it would've been if I didn't mix up front and back the first go-round. And, hey, FREE!

And for a parting shot, if you follow me on Instagram (link upper left), you'll have already seen this photo of the grasshoppers that have invaded my neighbor's yard. They're cool and ewww at the same time.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

This and That

Yeah, it's been a minute since my last post. Er, no excuse. Just no blogging mojo. Right up there with the mostly missing sewjo. But there has a been a little teeny tiny bit of sewing so I'll document it for posterity. Nothing exciting, but at least I've finished some things. Which lately is a major accomplishment. :-)

First up, but the last things made, are a Hot Patterns Sunshine Top (the original) and a circle-ish Simplicity skirt. I haven't worn the two together yet, but I have worn the top. It's so nice to have a new Sunshine in my wardrobe. For this one, I went down to the size 14 for the neckband and shoulders, which is perfect. I had sewn it before with a 16 neck/shoulders and it fit, but flashing a bra strap was likely without deploying some strategically placed Hollywood tape. Now, no more worries for that. I think this top took me 5 weeks to sew. Not literally all sewing time, but for some reason I just couldn't force myself to sew even though I knew I wanted this top DONE and it took about that long in 10-minute spurts. Ahhh. That sewjo is a mysterious beast, no? I'm hoping it returns with a vengeance soon because there are things I want NEED in my wardrobe.

Stripe matching like a boss at the sideseams. Just don't look at my completely mismatched sleeves. I totally spaced on those and then was too lazy to fix it. It's really not a problem, so while I'm pointing it out here, I've already forgotten about it in real life.

Here's the famous and flattering neckline. And finally a clear photo. I have no idea why my camera didn't like the full-length shots but if I had to re-do them again, this blog post was never going to happen.

Here's a crappy (sense a theme?) mirror shot of the finished SBCC Mimosa top, which is what I was sewing last time I blogged. I did actually finish it fairly soon after and I've worn it a TON. I really, really needed a white blouse for work. It's a great layering piece and the front tie makes it a little less boring white shell and more pretty white blouse.

Less blown-out photo, easier to see details. One of these days I'm going to remember to cut the ties different lengths so they finish at the same length when tied.

I also got a wild hair and sewed two doggie hoodies. It's a Kwik Sew something ... too lazy to go look.

Now Alex and Charlie semi-match. Actually, the wild hair was Alex egging me on to do it.

Dani didn't get one. She doesn't get cold easily and would probably freak out if we tried to put her legs through the sleeves. She's got quirks.

Alex putting the final touches on his investment house. It rented in a week and the tenants have been in it for almost a month now. Go Alex!

And lastly, for no good reason, here's a pic of one of the two new palm trees in my yard. Summer is coming.

Hopefully, I'll be back here soon. I've got a new project on the cutting table.