8.29.2015

the dust that pancho bit down south

Mood Fabrics Liberty of London Burdastyle Dress

Hey everyone! Long time no... post? Can you believe that summer is winding down? The mornings and evenings have cooled off slightly around here which has my brain thinking about Fall - even if the weather is, by all accounts, still sweltering! 

I felt like I've been in a bit of a weird place with my making this summer.  Blame it on a lack of sewjo, or what have you, but I've been feeling pretty uninspired. What's worse, is that I wasn't even enjoying wearing my handmade clothes either! Between the heat, and some gritty tasks for me to tackle at work, my uniform became the same old pair of cut off jeans shorts and my grungiest of tees and tanks.  Not only did the people around me notice my lack of usual polish (and by "people" I mean Nick and my boss, because let's be real, that's about the extent of my social circle!) but after a while it started to do a number on my head! I was questioning my identity - was this sun-bleached-frayed-hem-sports-bra-Sallie the new me? While I certainly fit in with my lazy island surroundings, the thought depressed me. So I resolved to try to kick myself out of my rut in the only way I knew how: by making something so darn pretty I couldn't resist wearing it!

Mood Fabrics Liberty of London Burdastyle Dress

This dress came about sort of slowly. I bought 2 yards of this delicious Liberty of London silk-cotton voile using my Mood allowance a few months ago with no plan for it.  I had never touched Liberty of London fabrics before and I feel like it's the stuff of legends among the sewing community, so my interest was certainly piqued when Mood started carrying a selection.  This particular print really stood out to me.  It reminded me vaguely of a certain period of Disney animation - like the Sleeping Beauty era - where everything is highly stylized and you kind of suspect all the animators were experimenting with hallucinogens... I believe I described it in my Mood Sewing Network post as a "fantasy garden on acid" which I still feel is an apt description!

Mood Fabrics Liberty of London Burdastyle Dress

Well my 2 yards sat while I pondered what to do with them - I thought maybe pajamas, but it's so pretty I wanted the world to see it.  Meanwhile I was trolling some of my less traveled haunts on the internet looking for a pattern or a look that would get me excited about sewing again and I came across this dress on Burdastyle.  I don't know why I always forget about Burdastyle - maybe it's because they release such a deluge of patterns, many of which are just variations of the same rectangle, that it's easy to forget that there are some honest to goodness gems in amongst that deluge! I consider this dress (07/2015 #110) to be among those gems. The only problem was this pattern called for 5 freaking yards of fabric!! So I waited until my next Mood allowance rolled around and picked up the remaining 3 yards.  I have to be honest, this is definitely a project that would not have happened if it wasn't for my partnership with the Mood Sewing Network! No way in hell could I have afforded 5 yards of Liberty on my own dollar! So thank you Mood!

Mood Fabrics Liberty of London Burdastyle Dress

Working with the Liberty silk-cotton voile was at times both heavenly and oh-my-god-gouge-my-eyes-out-with-seam-rippers awful! If you've never crossed paths with these fabrics, let me try to describe it for you. In weight, this is somewhere between a cotton voile and the finest silk habotai. It is silky smooth and fairly sheer with a lovely drape that I would describe more as "floaty" than the fluidity of, say, a silk charmeuse. Basically it was the kind of fabric that if you bat your eyelashes at too hard it might flutter away! It does have the "stickiness" of cotton, so it didn't slip all over the place, but it could get kind of limp and wimpy when you wanted to get a crisp press.  I found that to get any kind of structure, like throughout the bodice, I had to utilize a liberal amount of interfacing, which I did. It also frayed pretty terribly with handling, so serging the raw edges was a necessity.

Mood Fabrics Liberty of London Burdastyle Dress

But oh my goodness if it doesn't make an exquisite finished garment! For eating up 5 yards of fabric this dress is remarkably light weight and easy to wear.  I self-lined the bodice for opacity and left the sleeves and skirt as a single layer.  This means that I have to wear a half-slip with the dress, but I'm okay with that.

Mood Fabrics Liberty of London Burdastyle Dress

There are so many details about this pattern that I absolutely adore: The slightly raised, cut-on collar, the deep, curved v-neck ending in the sweet button placket, the little fabric button loops, the yoked waist, the raglan sleeves, and oh my god that skirt! I had actually debated switching out the skirt for another pattern because I was worried it would be "too much" but I'm so glad I didn't! Yes it ate up yards of fabric with all that gathering, but the effect is a little bit Stevie Nicks, a little bit 70's folk singer, a little bit Little House on the Prairie, and a whole lotta stuff I love.  Let me put it to you this way, after finishing this dress I put it on to get the good ol' nod of approval from Nick and then proceeded to spend an inordinate amount of time swaying around the living room listening to Emmylou Harris sing "Pancho and Lefty".

Mood Fabrics Liberty of London Burdastyle DressMood Fabrics Liberty of London Burdastyle Dress

Working with the pattern was the usual head-scratcher that most Burda patterns are.  I've learned not to trust the Burda sizing, but since the patterns don't come with seam allowances it was very easy to measure the waist and bust (the only measurements I needed for this pattern) and I ended up cutting a size smaller than my measurements on the size chart.  The instructions were... an adventure... In retrospect, there wasn't anything in particular that tripped me up, but I'm grateful that I have a few years of sewing under my belt to help decipher the cryptic descriptions. Par for the course with Burdastyle, really.  But again - the result is utterly lovely so I'm willing to forgive any moments of confusion I might have had! In fact, this pattern is most definitely going into my "to make again" pile.  The pattern came with pieces for a long poet sleeve - you guys! Can't you just picture the ultimate fall boho dress?!? Perhaps not in Liberty... but in a more affordable fabric I might even be tempted to make it maxi length...

Mood Fabrics Liberty of London Burdastyle Dress

You guys. I love this dress. It was just what I needed to fall in love with my sewing room again. Give me a good romantic design and delicious fabric with a complex floral print and I'm happy as a pig in shit!! 

Now excuse me while I go sway around my kitchen barefoot...


xx

7.17.2015

abstraction

Mood Fabrics Abstract Cotton | Grainline Alder Dress

Whew! Where does the time go, amirite? This dress was finished back in May for my Mood Sewing Network make, but due to one thing or another it didn't get posted until June.  Then I went on vacation and shut myself off from all things internet-related, so now we're almost in mid-July and I'm just getting around to posting it here on my home turf! I suppose I could have just skipped it and moved on to the next project, but it's just too darn pretty of a dress not to get it's proper dues!

Mood Fabrics Abstract Cotton | Grainline Alder Dress

One great thing about waiting so long to post a make is that you can really give an honest opinion about it as part of your wardrobe.  So you can believe me when I say, with no reservations, that this dress has become one of my favorite warm weather outfits! I reach for it at least once a week - if not more - and it's taken me from a regular old day at work, to fancier gallery openings, to picnics. Really, I'm beginning to think that there is no occasion that this dress wouldn't work for!

Mood Fabrics Abstract Cotton | Grainline Alder Dress

This dress came about because I was looking to make some summer dresses that were both easy to wear, and easy to care for.  I'll always worship at the altar of All Things Silk, but there's something to be said for a dress that you can wash, throw in the dryer, shake out, and it's ready to walk out the door with you! I think my poor overloaded drying rack will agree...

So the first place I started to look for some easy, carefree fabrics was the cotton selection from Mood online.  I grabbed this Gray Multicolored Abstract Cotton Poplin Print (joy of joys! It appears to be back in stock!! If you're at all intrigued by this fabric I encourage you to grab some! You won't regret it!!) earlier this year with the intention of turning it into a summer dress.  I just can't resist a good abstract, painterly print! This cotton poplin has a smooth, soft hand, a nice soft cotton-y drape, and best of all, when I removed it from the dryer post pre-wash, no wrinkles!  Consider me sold! And you really can’t get a fabric more well-behaved than cotton.  It’s just so precise to cut, sew and press. A true joy to work with.

Mood Fabrics Abstract Cotton | Grainline Alder Dress

I always planned on turning this lovely cotton with it’s abstract, painterly print into a Grainline Alder. I bought this pattern last year and somehow never got around to making it up last summer.  I wasn’t about to make the same mistake this summer! I actually really surprised myself with this pattern by going for View B which features a gathered skirt inset across the back and sides.  I’ve always thought of myself as someone who, when given the option, usually gravitates to the more streamlined look – but maybe that’s changing! Good to know our personal styles aren’t set in stone.

Mood Fabrics Abstract Cotton | Grainline Alder Dress

I cut a straight size 4 based on my measurements, and I think the fit is pretty good right out of the envelope, however I did add 2″ to the length.  I’m getting a little bit of pulling across the chest, but not enough to make my buttons span.  And speaking of buttons, I used little black buttons in the hope that they would stand out from the print.  I also just love the petite little collar on this dress.  Styling wise, I surprised myself again by really liking the way this dress looks all buttoned up to the top.

Mood Fabrics Abstract Cotton | Grainline Alder DressMood Fabrics Abstract Cotton | Grainline Alder Dress

It’s hard to see, but there is actually a cute little pocket on there.  The print is so busy it gets totally lost (especially in photographs) which is a shame, because it might be some of the prettiest edgestitching I’ve ever done! I also think this might be the nicest my gathers have ever looked.  I think the trick might be to put a line of basting below the stitching line that prevents the gathers from shifting during sewing.

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I kept the insides simple. A lot of the raw edges got enclosed in the yoke, button band, collar or bias facing for the armholes, but for the side and waist seam I simply serged.  I didn’t even bother to match my thread!

Mood Fabrics Abstract Cotton | Grainline Alder Dress

Now that I'm getting all settled after my little summer travels I'm looking forward to getting back in the sewing room. I have so many things I want to make that I'm having a difficult time figuring out where to start! Time for me to take stock of my fabric and look through my patterns and see what calls to me first.  This is always the most overwhelming part of making something for me - just making the decisions you need to make to get started - but it's also the most creative. So many options!!

What are you guys sewing this summer? Any go-to summer looks you've been favoring??

xx

6.25.2015

sallie in sallie!

Closet Case Files Sallie Maxi in Raspberry Jersey

Ok, you guys had to know this was coming... Closet Case Patterns just released her newest pattern and it's named after meeeee!!!! SQUEEEE!!!! I'm a sewing pattern!!! And not just any pattern, but a JUMPSUIT!! Seriously friends, if I had to pick an article of clothing to personify me, I can think of no higher compliment than to say I'm a jumpsuit.  It's just... *tears*... it's just too much for words! When I think of all the high kicks and funny lunge-y walks and disco grooves that women around the world will be doing in their Sallie Jumpsuits, well let's just say I can die happy.  But the Sallie isn't just a jumpsuit, it's also a maxi dress, as you can see in this post. That means options you guys.  And as much as I love pants that are directly attached to tops in my sewing patterns, I think I love a pattern that gives you options even more.  But I'm getting ahead of myself here...

Deep breath.

Hey! How are you?  Summer going good? Or is it winter where you are? That's nice...

Closet Case Files Sallie Maxi in Raspberry Jersey

Alright, let's get back to Sallie!  When Heather told me she was going to be naming this pattern after me I was so excited (can ya tell?!?! Can ya tell I'm excited!!!!?!?) And then I saw the pattern and I Lost. It. Heather designed the Sallie Jumpsuit and Maxi Dress with the sexy disco vibes of 70's Studio 54 and glamour girls like Bianca Jagger in mind.  Basically everything I want to embody. And best of all, it's designed for knits, so not only do you get that 70's glamour girl look, but you get it while wearing something that essentially feels like pajamas! I mean... can you see why I am proud to have it be my namesake??

Closet Case Files Sallie Maxi in Raspberry JerseyCloset Case Files Sallie Maxi in Raspberry Jersey

I of course jumped at the chance to test this pattern.  As excited as I am about the jumpsuit version of this pattern (and you better bet your britches I'm excited) I opted for the maxi dress for my test.  The reason for this being that it is approximately a-million-dee-ba-jillion-dee degrees outside these days and about the only clothing I can wrap my head around at the moment are dresses.  So the maxi dress won this round.  I also thought that this gorgeous raspberry rayon knit from Mood would look exceptional in a floor length dress.  

Closet Case Files Sallie Maxi in Raspberry Jersey

Construction-wise, this thing went together without a hitch.  I cut all the pieces one evening, and sewed it up in a few hours the next day.  I've loved every pattern I've made from Closet Case Files so far, but I have to admit, I have a soft spot for Heather's knit patterns.  Her instructions always teach me a little trick for working with knits I never knew before, or a better way to do simple things, like create an elastic casing, from how I had been doing them.  Admittedly, as much as I love them, working with knits has never really been my strong suit, so I appreciate the opportunity to learn.  This pattern can pretty much be sewn entirely on a conventional sewing machine.  The bodice is a double layer, so all seams are enclosed.  I sewed the long side seams of the skirt, and the waist on my serger, but a zig-zag stitch would have worked just as well, and maybe even better for the side seams because of the split sides.

Closet Case Files Sallie Maxi in Raspberry Jersey

In terms of fit, you really can't get any easier than a knit! The Sallie calls for a knit with a good amount of 4 way stretch, which makes it oh-so-comfy and oh-so-easy-to-fit! I made a size 6 based on my measurements, and then measured the elastic for the waist by pinning the elastic and wearing it around for a bit to make sure it was comfortable.  One of the things I love about the maxi dress is that it's actually pretty darn adjustable! You can adjust the waist elastic to what's comfortable for you, and you can adjust the shoulder ties for a comfortable fit.  Seriously, does it get any easier? In my drapey rayon knit, the single layer skirt is a bit clingy on the rear, which doesn't bother me, but could bother some.  A thicker or less drapey knit (or a slip if you don't live in the fiery furnace of hell and can stand an additional layer) would totally solve this.

I should also note that while I'm showing you the tester version of this pattern, Heather ended up not changing too much to the maxi dress after testing besides altering the hem curve slightly, so this version is pretty close to the finished pattern.

Closet Case Files Sallie Maxi in Raspberry JerseyCloset Case Files Sallie Maxi in Raspberry Jersey

Well guys, thanks for letting me gush! I'm so excited to have such a fun pattern named after me (HAVE I MENTIONED I'M EXCITED?!?) And I wish I could convey the little giggle I get at the thought of a bunch of beautiful ladies "wearing their Sallie's" or "sewing up a Sallie"... Hmm... upon further reflection that kind of makes me think of people making freaky skin-suits of me... Scratch that!!! Let's just say I'm excited for people to get their jumpsuit on! And try the maxi dress version too!! Your sweaty legs won't regret it!!

Heather my love, THANK YOU. I know I had absolutely ZERO to do with all the hard work that went into making this lovely, but consider me a Proud Papa all the same.  

Now everyone, go forth and make some Sallie's!!!!

xx

6.02.2015

the simplest of swimsuits

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Well friends, here we are, another summer of sewing and blogging and once again I can't believe that I'm actually posting photos of myself in a bikini on the internet.  *Sighs* oh well... (shoves her shame into the same box where she keeps her pride and stuffs it back under the bed) here we go! 

As most of you probably know, I love the beach. It's been well documented.  I believe there are scientific studies that show a shocking increase in 'good mood vibes' and 'general sense of well-being' as a result of spending a day on the beach.  Those studies were conducted by me. On myself. So... you know... cold hard fact, people.  But seriously, I can't think of another environment that makes me feel quite at home in my own skin. Plop me in the sand near a large body of water (preferably the salty variety) with a good book (preferably the mystery variety) and I'm one happy little mermaid.  In fact, these photos were taken after spending just such a day, which explains my rather salty appearance and my whole "oh hey camera, let's take some nearly-naked-photos" confidence.

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A few weeks back I woke up one Sunday morning, saw the sun shining, and knew it was gonna be a perfect beach day.  I also decided right then and there, as I was laying in bed watching the sun stream through the curtains, that I needed a new swimsuit. Now.  So I popped out of bed and went straight to my sewing room and began making this little guy.  A few hours later my brand new swimsuit was on my body and I was on my way to the beach! Talk about a fast make!

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If you're looking to make your own bikini, there are options out there for patterns, but quite frankly, I just wanted something classic and simple.  Call me crazy, but I kind of think string bikinis are the perfect bikini. They're adjustable so they fit a wide variety of shapes without digging into your skin, they give good tan-lines, they're sporty and sexy at the same time, and (remember, I spend a lot of time on the beach and see a lot of bodies in swimsuits) they look good on everyone.  Sure, they're not the most supportive of swim tops - they're not going to hold you in, or push you up, or pad you out - and they certainly don't offer a lot of coverage or modesty, but that's kind of the point. They simply cover what needs to be covered and leave your body to do it's thing.  And bodies are beautiful. So there.

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String bikinis are also one of the most simple, expedient swimwear designs ever created.  We're literally talking about two triangles attached to strings.  Simple enough that I didn't feel the need to go hunting for a suitable pattern.  Instead I traced a RTW string bikini top I already owned and started from there.  The cups are actually a sort of curved triangle, with more roundness at the center front than the sides. My RTW bikini is nice because all the seams are enclosed within the lining - I think it's technically reversible, although I've never worn it as such.  I really wanted to figure out how to do the same for my bikini top because it makes for a very comfortable design.  It was a bit like a puzzle figuring it out, but with my usual finagling and manhandling I was able to pull it off.  One thing I did was to cut the lining 1/8" smaller all around so that all the seams rolled to the underside.  And if/when I make one of these again I think I will add some swimwear elastic to the front and sides - not pulling it taught, but just to help prevent any gaping when wearing.

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The suit bottoms are from Papercut Patterns Soma Swimsuit bikini.  I was pretty happy with the fit of these when I made that bikini last year, but I wanted to make a few tweaks to suit my personal tastes. I'm realizing that I'm just not a full coverage bottom kind of gal.  Not that I think I've got a great bottom, I just don't like the feeling of them when they get wet.  A lot of wet fabric hanging around my bum makes me feel like I'm wearing a diaper. There. I said it.  (The exception to this might be the Bombshell swimsuit, which, while a lot of fabric, I actually think is a very flattering cut, but for me that suit is more of a poolside suit than a beach suit).  So for these bottoms I shaved about a half inch off of the leg, tapering to nothing at the crotch.  This makes them a little more leg-lengthening, as well as pretty darn cheeky.  I'm really happy with these bottoms, but I'm wondering if I could go even narrower at the hip/side seam next time.

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This fabric is some navy matte milliskin I bought when I made my Bombshell swimsuit.  It's been a while but I think it's from Spandex World...? It's pretty hefty for a swimwear fabric, and I probably could have skipped the lining altogether, but you never know with homemade swimsuits! I figure it's always better to air on the side of caution.  No one wants to come striding out of the waves, channeling her best Ursula Andress circa Dr. No, only to find that her bikini turned translucent on her when wet! Both the suit top and bottom are lined with a nude swim lining from Bramaker's supply, which is also where I got my rubber swim elastic.  All this stuff has been in my stash for a few years, so this was a virtually free make as well!

All in all, construction on this was pretty straightforward.  I switched between my serger and a zig-zag stitch on my sewing machine for the bikini top, and my bottoms were done completely with a zig-zag stitch.  As I said, I threw this whole thing together in a morning and still had time to spend the afternoon at the beach. Since then it's been my go-to suit.  I have lots of extra bits of swimsuit fabric lying around from past makes, and since this uses such little fabric I think I'll make a bunch of these this summer to rotate out.

And now... time for some lady bodybuilder poses!!!

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YOUR WELCOME!!!

And no, this was not a deserted beach...

xx


5.28.2015

sherbert

Brumby skirt & tank

Hey Gang! How's everyone's May been going? It's been pretty dreary here the past few weeks - there's been a lot of rain and flooding throughout Texas (I hope my fellow Texans are safe and dry and on high land! Y'all are in my thoughts!) but it hasn't quite been able to make it across the bay to this island I call home.  Instead we've just had endless clouds and suffocating humidity. Gross, but I'll take it over devastating floods... Yesterday the clouds decided to thin and allow some weak early evening sunlight through so I took the opportunity to shoot some pictures of my newest outfit.

Brumby skirt & tank

Earlier this month, the lovely Megan Nielsen sent me a note to tell me about the re-launch of her paper patterns and the release of her new sewing app and asked if I would be interested in reviewing the app along with her newest pattern - the Brumby Skirt (note - throughout the entirety of this post autocorrect kept trying to change "brumby" to "crumby" and it. is. driving. me. insane!!! end note).  I thought the pattern was cute and I have to admit to being more than a little curious about the app - so I said "sure" but there is of course more to it than that.

It's hard to imagine that there was a time when my blog roll wasn't stuffed to the gills with sewing blogs.  In fact, it's hard to imagine that there was a time when I wasn't even really aware that such a thing as a sewing blog existed - but as incredible as it may seem, dear reader, there was such a time. In this younger, naive-er plane of existence I was the voracious consumer of the Personal Style Blog. I loved to click through the images of women putting together outfits from their own closets. Even if my own wasn't nearly as extensive or creative, I found the different looks, the signature way these women wore clothes, and watching the evolution of trends emerge to be both aspirational and inspirational.  Fashion blogs (along with a myriad of other, much more personal circumstances) led me to sewing my own wardrobe.  It was through this channel that I discovered a certain Megan Nielsen.  I remember when Megan released her first ready-to-wear collection, and I remember when her business began to evolve into sewing patterns at practically the same time that my thoughts were turning towards a handmade wardrobe.  It was zeitgeist! I think it's for this reason that I will always feel a special kinship with Megan.  As a reader, I made the evolution from the fashion blog world, to the sewing blog world in tandem with Megan, and for both of us it was here that we found our home.

Brumby skirt & tank

So it's with great pleasure that I present to you my Brumby Skirt! The Brumby is a gathered skirt with a wide waistband, an exposed zipper, deep pockets on versions 1 and 2, and three lengths - above the knee, knee length, and midi.  I made version 2 because I can't say 'no' to a midi skirt and I love a good statement-making pocket.  The fabric I used is some lovely cotton voile that I bought with my monthly Mood allowance in a cool, hand-drawn chevron print.  The colorway of the pattern feels very summery to me. Even though this fabric is somewhat sheer, because of the volume of this skirt I left it unlined and it works really well as a single layer.

Brumby skirt & tank

I think this pattern would be a really wonderful first make for a beginner.  I never really understood why people recommend learning to sew by making things like pillow cases or curtains when there are such cute patterns like this one out there that are easy and have a really impressive, wearable, and stylish result. Plus, you'll learn a few tricks, like gathering and setting in a zipper.  I mean, if you really love pillow cases and curtains, than you do you friend! But this isn't all that much more difficult, and  -  look how cute!! 

For my purposes, I could see myself wearing the midi version just as I'm wearing it here - as a casual summer look.  I really prefer dresses and skirts in the summer, but I don't always want to feel like I'm dressed to the nines, so this is a nice medium.  I can also see myself using this pattern to swap out with other dress bodices from my stash. So even though I feel like a gathered skirt might be the kind of thing I could draft up myself, it's always nice to have the option of a professional pattern ready to go.

Brumby skirt & tankBrumby skirt & tank

I feel like a big part of Megan's re-launch has been about thinking about the way sewers actually use their patterns.  Her new paper patterns are not all that different from the Big 4 patterns we're all familiar with - they're printed on a thin white tissue and come folded in a paper envelope along with a page of instructions printed on a slightly heavier newsprint.  I know this is highly subjective, but I actually really like this type of packaging. It's certainly not made to look pretty on a shelf, but it's unfussy and functional, and quite frankly, both of those things are more important to me in my sewing patterns than designer packaging.  

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The one thing that I do feel sets a brand above the rest is the quality of the instructions, and the extra information (sew-alongs, tutorials etc.) that they provide the home sewer, and this is where Megan's approach is pretty interesting.  The instructions that come with the paper pattern are certainly sufficient and straight forward, but she's also released her sewing app which acts as a companion to all her patterns.  In the app you have access to all the pattern specs, fabric requirements, and a neat little shopping list you can check off as you go, cutting layouts, instructions and other fun things like ideas for customization, and links to tutorials and sew alongs.

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For this review I just used the sewing app rather than the instructions that came with the pattern (although I gave them the once over just to see what's what).  I have to confess, I'm not the most technologically advanced person, and I wasn't quite sure how much an app could bring to my sewing experience.  But what this really made me realize is how often I do tend to look up instructions, tutorials, or pictures of finished garments on my phone as I sew.  I'm sure I'm not the only one.  The fact that it was all right there in one easy to access place, rather than doing a million different google searches, was definitely convenient and really pretty cool. I think the app is going to be especially handy for those who purchase the PDF pattern.  I don't know about you guys, but I always feel really guilty printing out instructions and whatnot after I've just printed out 50 pages for a pattern.  It always feels really wasteful to me, so knowing that all that information is easily accessible on my phone is a big bonus.  I have to say, I viewed the app with some skepticism at first, but it really won me over.  Megan may have just discovered the future of sewing patterns!

Brumby skirt & tank

I wanted to make a quick little something to go with my Brumby skirt so I had a look through my stash and found this white cotton jersey of unknown origin - probably one of those things I bought thinking it seemed like a practical thing to have around and then promptly forgot about because... boring.  But it's really a pretty nice quality so I decided to do a rub-off of an American Apparel tank I've had for years and don't necessarily love but for lack of anything better seems to get a lot of wear. I tried to fix some of the things that bother me about the original tank, while still keeping the sexiness of the deep scoop neck and armholes.  All in all, I'm really  pleased with how it turned out! I especially love it tucked in like I'm wearing it here.  The original tank just had serged edges for the neckline and armholes, but I wanted a more finished look for mine so I used a binding. I think it's an improvement on the original for sure!

Well guys! I think those are all my thoughts on this one! I hope wherever you are you are enjoying some early summer weather and sunshine! And what do you guys think - does a sewing app seem like the future to you? 

xx

5.04.2015

tutorial: removing gathers from the minoru jacket

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Well it's finally here! This is my tutorial for how I removed the neck gathers from my Sewaholic Minoru Jacket, as seen in this post.  This was probably the most dramatic change I made to this pattern, but for a full outline on what I changed, please see the original post. 

Before I begin I just want to mention that while this tutorial is specific to the Minoru pattern, it can actually be used for any pattern where there are darts or gathers used for shaping.  The principles are the same, we're just rotating out the excess fabric.  

Also, these are pretty major changes to make to a pattern, so I highly recommend that you make a muslin after making these changes to make sure that the fit still works for you.  Obviously, these were the changes I made and they worked for my body, but, you know, we're all unique little snowflakes, and what works for me may not work for you.

Okay! Let's begin!

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Materials you will need for this tutorial:

  • Your Minoru pattern front, back, sleeve, and collar pieces, as well as all your lining pieces (For the sake of brevity I will only be showing you how to adjust the Minoru front and sleeve in this tutorial, but the steps are the same for the back and lining pieces).
  • A roll of tracing paper or parchment paper or some other sort of see-through paper for tracing
  • Tape (I'm using electrical tape because it's what I had on hand... don't ask)
  • Scissors
  • A straight edge/ruler
  • Measuring tape and Seam gauge
  • Pens/Pencils 
  • French curve (not pictured)
Note: Most of my measurements for this tutorial are in centimeters. I just find it easier when I'm doing pattern adjustments.


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1) Start out by tracing your Minoru front and transfer all the markings, including grainline, guide for waist elastic, notches etc.

2) Using a seam gauge or ruler mark the stitching line along the side seam, raglan seam, and neckline.  The Minoru uses a 5/8" seam allowance so you'll want to measure in from the cutting line 5/8".  No need to mark the seam allowance on the center front. Transfer all markings as best as you can to this new line.

3) Cut out your pattern on the stitching line, all the way around.

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Now we have to use some math to figure out how much fabric the gathers pull in, and therefore how much to reduce our neckline by. This next part gets a little tricky.  Please note that all my measurements are for a size 8.  You will have to do your own measuring and math for your own size, unfortunately!

4) Measure from the large circle at the neckline to the center front.  On my pattern that measurement is 4.3cm.  This is the part of the neckline that does not get gathered.

5) Measure from the large circle to the raglan seam.  On my pattern that measures 8.5cm.  This is the area that does get gathered, and therefore the area that we will focus our adjustments on.

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6) Now do the same thing for the sleeve, measuring the distance on either side of the notch at the top of the sleeve, omitting the seam allowances.  You can see I drew little dashes for where the seam allowances are.  Also note that you can tell the front and back of the sleeve based on the notches on the raglan seam - there is one notch for the front, and two notches for the back.  So the front half of my sleeve measures 10.5cm at the neckline, and the back half measures 8cm.

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7) Now find the pattern piece for the collar.  There are three notches on the bottom of the collar.  One at the center back, one in the middle, and one towards the front.  The notch in the middle corresponds to the notch at the neckline of your sleeve.  Measure in from the center front (the side not marked "cut on fold") the same distance as the ungathered portion of your jacket front (4.3cm) and make a mark.  Now measure the distance from that mark to the sleeve notch.  On my pattern this is 12cm.  This distance is the distance that we have to get the gathered portion of the jacket front and the front of the sleeve to fit into.
Note: you will be doing the same thing for the back measurements, but as I said earlier, I'll only be showing you the front.

8) Now comes the math part: 
gathered part of jacket front + front of sleeve = total length of front gathers
8.5cm + 10.5cm = 19cm

total length of front gathers - distance between sleeve notch and mark from step 7 = amount that needs to be removed 
19cm - 12cm = 7cm

divide by 2 = 3.5 cm

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You will need to remove this figure (3.5cm)  from both the jacket front and the sleeve front.  

Fun (sorta) fact - I found that the gathering ratio was exactly the same all around the Minoru.  So for me, 3.5cm was the amount that I removed from the jacket front, back and both sides of the sleeve.  Of course I have no idea if this is true for all sizes, so to be safe, do the math (I'm sorry!)

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Okay! No more math! I promise!

9) Draw a horizontal line just slightly above the guide for the waist elastic.  This line should be perpendicular to the grainline and the center front.  Cut this line so you have an upper portion and a bottom portion for your Minoru jacket front.  Set the bottom portion aside for now.

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10) Find the halfway point between the large circle and the raglan seam (or half of the measurement you made earlier). On my pattern this was roughly 4.3cm. Make a mark.

11) Draw a vertical line from this mark to the bottom of your pattern piece.  This line should be parallel to the grainline.

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13) Okay, I'll admit that this step is not the most scientific.  Basically you want to 'guesstimate' the position of the bust point on your vertical line.  I just kind of eyeballed this, but if you want a guideline, measure down from the underarm about 1 inch or so and draw in a horizontal line.  Make a mark where the two lines intersect.  Honestly, I don't know that it makes a huge difference how accurate this point is.

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14) Now cut along the vertical line from both directions to the point, but not through it.  This should create a little hinge where you can swivel both sides of your pattern piece.

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15) Using the numbers we came up with earlier, figure out the new length of this side of the neckline, and overlap the pattern until it measures the new length.  So for my pattern I did 8.5cm - 3.5cm = 5cm.  So I overlapped the pattern until that side of the neckline measured 5cm. Secure with tape. Notice how this opens up a dart at the waistline.

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16) At this point I like to re-trace the pattern piece, smoothing out the neckline with a french curve.  Make sure to transfer all marks including the grainline, and your new dart at the waistline.


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I flipped the pattern piece over so it would lay flat. It is still the same jacket front we have been working with.
17) Draw a new set of dart legs from the base of the dart to a point at the underarm.  I noticed after I photographed this tutorial and went back and looked at my original pattern pieces that I actually ended my dart at a different spot on the underarm than I have shown here.  Originally I ended the dart about 1inch into the curve of the underarm on the raglan seam.  I don't know that it really makes a difference, but you may want to do it the way I'm describing rather than what I have shown because I know that to be successful. Sorry for the confusion! The rest of the steps are the same.

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18) Cut along one of the new dart legs just to the point at the underarm, but not through, creating another little hinge.

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19) Swivel the side seam so the dart closes.  Tape in place.  Notice how the horizontal "waistline seam" we created earlier is now uneven.  We've essentially rotated all the excess fabric from the neckline, into the waistline, and we're now going to blend it out.

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20) Grab that bottom portion of the front jacket pattern that we set aside earlier and reattach it to the upper portion at the waistline, matching up the grainline.  There is an obvious gap of fabric along the side seam now, but we're just going to ignore that and retrace our new pattern, blending the side seam between the upper portion and the lower portion of the pattern so it's smooth.  There will obviously be a little bit of extra length now at the side seam, but since we'll be doing the same thing to the back pattern piece they should match up.  Also, because we did not alter the markings for the elastic at the waist you can still use these as is.  Since the waistline of the Minoru is fitted with elastic (or in my case, a drawstring) and not very tailored, I think this is a good place for the excess fabric to end up.

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This picture shows the new pattern piece overlaid with the old pattern piece (ignore some of those strange lines at the side seam. This is actually one of my original tracings I used for my coat and I made a few notations along the side).  You can see how everything below the waist stays exactly the same, and how the raglan seam lifts up and in.

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21) The very last step for the jacket front is to add back in those seam allowances we removed back in step 2.  Remember that the pattern uses 5/8" seam allowances.  Make sure to transfer the notches, grainline, and the markings for the waist elastic.  The pattern piece pictured above is my actual pattern piece used for my jacket and reflects a few of the other changes I made to the pattern.

Don't forget to do the same thing for the jacket back, and both of the lining pieces!!


Now let's move onto the sleeve.  This is far less complicated than removing the gathers from the jacket front, since we're just going to be converting the gathers to a dart.  When I first started making adjustments to this pattern I tried to swivel out the gathers from the sleeve in much the same way that I did above.  However this resulted in a sleeve with very little "corner" for the shoulder to fit in.  Using a dart may not seam as neat as having a dart-less sleeve, but with a raglan sleeve like this it's really the best option!


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1) Start off by tracing the sleeve and removing the 5/8" seam allowances, just like we did with the jacket front.  Transfer all notches, and grainline.  You'll notice that I only traced the upper portion of the sleeve here.  That's because the top is really all we need.

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2) Now draw a vertical line from the notch down about 6 inches or so.  This line should be parallel to the grainline.  Make a mark about 4 inches (or so... I just kind of eyeballed this) down on this line.

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3) Measure out from the notch on either side the amount that you deduced should be removed when we were doing all our math earlier on and make a mark on either side.  For my pattern this is 3.5cm.  Remember how I said that the gathering ratio was the same for all areas of the Minoru? This means that I'll be reducing the front of my sleeve by 3.5cm, and the back of my sleeve by 3.5 cm (and the back neckline of the jacket).  But as I said, do the math anyway just to be sure.

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4) Using a french curve, connect the marks you made in step 3 with the mark you made along the vertical line in step 2.  Yay! You've made a dart!

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5) Now retrace your sleeve pattern, adding the seam allowances back in, and making a little bumped out 'v' shape at the base of your dart legs.  This is so that when you fold your dart back it meets up with your seam line and gets sewn down flat, rather than flapping about inside your jacket!  This is the actual pattern I used for my Minoru.  You'll notice that I elongated and changed the shape of the dart.  This was a change I made after making a muslin, and was done so that the tip of the dart ended at my shoulder point, and also so it had a nice curved shape.  I also make a note to "add more height" at the base of the dart.  You really do need a lot of height up there to allow for the dart to get caught in the seamline.

Don't forget to do the same thing for your sleeve lining too!!

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Okay guys!! THAT'S IT!!! 

Phew. I never said it was easy!! But it's definitely do-able.  I hope that it was helpful to all of you out there that have been holding off on making this pattern because of those neckline gathers.  And I hope it's inspired some of you to really make this pattern your own! 

If there are any parts that you find confusing just give me a holler in the comments and I'll do my best to clarify things.

xx