Thursday, November 13, 2014

WIPs becoming UFOs and UFOs becoming WIPs

Remember that time I signed up for an OAL (Outfit Along) and thought I could actually knit and sew an outfit to wear in two months? That was hilarious. First, an update on the knitting part of the OAL.

Last week I finished the body of my Myrna and tried it on with no needles weighing it down. Aaaaaaand it's too tight. I knew there was a risk of it not fitting, because early in the OAL the pattern designer announced that there was an error in the pattern. I decided to continue with the flawed pattern because everything I read indicated that the result would be that the sweater was too long, which was fine with me because the cropped look is not one that I'm used to anyway. I thought my biggest problem would be too-long armholes, but alas, I also need to size up. Unfortunately that means ordering another skein of yarn since I had the perfect amount for the size I was making. Since this is a short sleeved cropped sweater, it's November and I probably won't be able to wear it until April or May, I've decided to put it aside until January or February.

Isn't it pretty, though? Hopefully I won't make as many mistakes the second time I knit it!

In the meantime I'm working on the Enrobed Wrap Cardigan from Amy Herzog's Knit to Flatter. I'm using Shepherd's Wool in Autumn Gold. I used this yarn to knit a hat for one of my brothers for Christmas last year and I loved every second my fingers touched that yarn, even though I was still up finishing the hat until 2am on Christmas Eve. I hope this one fits...

The dress for the OAL...Well, I made three muslins of the bodice of Vogue 8993, and the final version has a successful FBA! But the waist is too tight. :/ I gained weight during those two months, got busy and frustrated and gave up. I'll return to this dress in the spring as well, hopefully with better fitting skills.

I also made a muslin of the Colette Iris shorts, which I never tried on. They're hanging in my closet and will also be revisited in the spring.

Finally, a UFO from last winter is once again a WIP. I adjusted my pattern for McCall's 6612 to include a cheater FBA. I'll cut it out Sunday night or one night next week. I hope to spend a lot of time sewing during the evenings next week, as I'll be taking my written preliminary exams Monday through Friday during the daytime and will need to decompress. When I hit happy hour Friday night after it's all over I hope to have the choice of wearing my new McCall's 6612 or Lady Skater which is next in line.

I'm pretty sure I'm putting the slow in slow fashion here.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

"Dogs aren't dangerous!"


This year for Halloween I wanted to do something a little bit scary. I haven't dressed as a witch, goblin or other such horror since high school and I figured it was about time. Scrolling through facebook one day, I saw a listicle of the top movies that should have been rated higher than PG. I didn't actually click on it (which was kind of a feat of self-control for me...those things really suck me in), but the cover photo caught my eye. It was General Woundwort, the evil rabbit from the movie (based on the book) Watership Down. I loved that movie growing up and I even own a copy of it on DVD. I used to have nightmares that General Woundwort was under my bed. I remember leaping out of bed to try to get my feet as close to the door as possible so that he couldn't grab me on my way out. 

Dressing up as a rabbit is pretty easy. You really just need clothing of the right color, ears and a tail. It's the perfect costume for which to use a sweatsuit as a starting point. I thought about looking for a brown sweatshirt at Goodwill, but then I remembered the Seamster Avocado Hoodie pattern. I figured that the hoodie for my costume didn't have to fit great, it just had to be wearable for a party. My General Woundwort costume became a wearable muslin of the Avocado Hoodie, or rather the wearable muslin became the General Woundwort costume.

As usual, my measurements put me in three different sizes, so I cut a straight size large based on my bust measurement. I sewed up the non-overlapping hood version B without any of the pockets in a poly fleece from JoAnn's. They had one bolt of sweatshirt fabric. ONE. And of course there is never anyone around to help you find fabric in that place. I thought the fleece felt mid-weight-ish and would be fine, but put four layers of it together when sewing over seams and it was extremely thick. It was almost too much for my machine to handle, but I got it done. I didn't finish any of the seams, add any pockets, or topstitch the thumbholes on the cuffs (I think I would have had to do that by hand). When I tried it on sans sleeves I thought that it was going to be too big from the underbust seam down, but in the end I actually thought it worked out very well, maybe because of the thickness of the fabric. My friend's house was pretty warm and I forgot to put my thumbs through the thumbholes for the photos. I thought it would be tricky to sew those but it was really easy and sew worth it.

I cut out the ears with some heavy interfacing and the same fleece, and sewed them onto the hood. I think I sewed them a little too far back. They were excessively floppy and kept slowly pulling my head down. It was fun to bounce them while dancing, though.

I used some leftover yarn from one of my roommate's old knitting projects to make a pom pom for the tail, using this tutorial. Instead of a fork, I used a big shower comb. 

General Woundwort gets killed by a dog, thus the title quote of this post. The megalomaniac tries to get his evil owsla to stay and fight, yelling to them, "Dogs aren't dangerous!" And then he bites it. Well, it bites him. You know. Anyway, he has bloody scratch marks on his body, so I just snipped some parallel lines into the hoodie in two places and wore a red shirt underneath. I think the effect worked out very well.

I tried to do as well as I could with the makeup, but I couldn't figure out how to make it look like I was frothing at the mouth. You win some, you lose some. All of the makeup is Halloween makeup except the brown, which is a creamy thick eyeliner pencil. I've never worn eyeliner before. Should I learn how? I mean, I have some now.

I intended to wear brown yoga pants with the hoodie, but my brown yoga pants mysteriously disappeared. I still can't find them. I have no idea how that happens. Green jeans = General Woundwort in the grass? Best I could do. If you like the scary rabbit theme for Halloween, one of my friends dressed as Bunnicula and I really wanted to rope somebody into being the Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog (from Monty Python and the Holy Grail), but sadly no one took the carrot. (See what I did there?)

Now that I've gotten a lot of mileage out of my wearable muslin, I've started thinking about making an avocado hoodie for more day-to-day wear. It's not super high on the sewing priority list, but I'd like to make it up in a drapey sweater knit maybe with some contrasting color on the pouch and cuffs. I won't bother with the back pockets. No one will be putting their hands in there anytime soon.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Cake Patterns Hummingbird Skirt

I finally finished my Cake Patterns Hummingbird Skirt! In April. But now it needs to be altered. So that means it's not finished, right? Ah, whatever.

I made a muslin of the orange view based on my measurements, and it came out a few inches too big around the waist. It was really easy to take in though, so I took it in and decided my muslin was good to go and made the necessary alterations to my traced pattern.

I sewed up the skirt in olive green twill that I bought online from Mood Fabrics over a year ago, and used a quilting cotton from JoAnn Fabrics for the pocket bags. I also made bias tape out of the quilting cotton to finish the seams. I love the way the floral print looks when it's folded into bias tape!

 I'm pretty happy with how the inside of the skirt looks.

 The inside front edges of the pockets aren't perfectly symmetrical.

I am very happy with that invisible zipper, though!


I sewed the buttonhole in the wrong direction! Good grief! Also, I marked it and lined it up and I still sewed it too high on the waistband.

That's two individual lines of stitching done without a twin needle. Not too bad.

My edgestitching could use a little improvement, but overall not too bad.

So what is the problem with this skirt? It fits great right out of the dryer, but then it starts to sag. And sag. And with a cell phone in my pocket I run the risk of it ending up around my ankles. No thanks. The thing is, I really hate when skirts and pants pinch me too tightly at the waist, adding curves where I don't really want them. I tried to make it fit closely, but not tightly. Maybe my fabric has a little bit of stretch and that's where my fit went wrong, or maybe I just made it a little too loose in my effort to not pinch my belly. My plan is to unpick the waistband, take in the side seams a little bit (haven't measured yet), make a new, smaller, and maybe deeper waistband and add interfacing. I will then attempt to make the buttonhole in the *correct* direction. Hopefully I can do this one evening next week. We'll see.

Overall, I'm psyched about this skirt. I love it and think I can fix the fit. Once I do I hope to make it in some other fabrics (like denim). No more searching for the perfect denim mini-skirt! I prefer mine without artificial wear and tear, thanks.


I am participating in OAL (Outfit-Along) 2014. The objective is to sew a dress and knit a coordinating sweater destined to be a complete outfit. The sew-along part is led by Lauren of Lladybird and the knit-along is led by Andi of Untangling Knots.

Even though I am just writing about this now, I did sign up before the June 1st deadline on the Ravelry thread and I even started knitting my swatch on the actual start date (it's amazing). I think this is a good challenge for my busy summer because the FO deadline is July 31st. Two months should be enough time to get this done, and when I can't be near my sewing machine, I can still knit.

When planning my outfit, the sweater choice was a no-brainer. I would absolutely use the Myrna pattern and let Andi lead me through my first sweater. I mean, I need all the help I can get. I decided to stray from the dress pattern that Lauren will be teaching though, because I bought a couple of new dress patterns recently and thought I should get moving on one of those.

I am going to sew Vogue 8993 for my dress. I'm hoping that the princess seams will facilitate my success in correctly fitting my bust, particularly since there are some really good tutorials on the web already for doing that. The dress pattern for the OAL also has princess seams, so maybe Lauren will cover some of the fitting strategies.

I did my fabric and yarn shopping online and didn't order any swatches (who has time to wait for swatches?) so I am VERY lucky that I *think* my selections are going to work out okay.

I chose a medium weight linen in "beets purple" from On the website, the color looks more aubergine to me. In real life, it is definitely true to its name though. My photo is still a little bit darker than the fabric really is. I selected a viscose batiste salmon lining fabric for the bodice lining. The color for this fabric is also true to its name, and I think I'm going to be sad that it will be on the inside of my dress rather than the outside. I ordered two that looked like the closest purple to match (it doesn't at all) and a contrasting one. Luckily, I really like the way the Caribbean blue zip contrasts with the beets and salmon. I ordered a skein of Miss Babs' Yowza (the recommended yarn for the pattern) in the Berlin colorway. I looked at some FOs on ravelry that were made in the Berlin colorway and chose it because it looked like it had lots of colors that would "go" (if not match) with my dress, and it had some light colors in it. Looking at the pile of materials on my bed made me worried that this outfit would be too dark, but halfway through my swatch, I am happy with my choices and think they will look good together.

A bit about yarn...I've been a little bit bummed that my local yarn shop of choice, Really Knit Stuff, closed its doors. I haven't been knitting long and I haven't been shopping there long, but it definitely felt like a great community and its closing felt like a loss. This is the first time I've ordered yarn online, and I ordered the recommended yarn for the pattern. Let me just say that my package of yarn from Miss Babs was beautiful! I love supporting independent businesses and it feels really personal when they write you a note and include little gifts and wrap things up so beautifully. (I'm not saying I need free gifts...I wish TOMS shoes would stop sending me stickers and canvas bags every time I buy a pair of shoes...but this made my first online yarn purchase really pleasant.)

I hope to finish and wash my swatch tonight so that I can have it blocked and measured soon. I hope to trace my sewing pattern and start my muslin by the weekend. My plan is to muslin the bodies as is and try to get the fit as perfect as I can. Then I want to alter the front and back necklines because I think the necklines of that dress don't work exactly with the cardigan. I may muslin the whole dress just for a practice run and just to see how things fit with the weight of the skirt added to the bodice. Fingers crossed!

Friday, January 3, 2014

The NQNM Skirt

In my infinite wisdom as a brand-new seamstress, I thought it would be a great idea to make a birthday gift for my best friend who lives 971 miles away. She had pinned this skirt, the Chloe Scallop Edge Skirt from Neiman Marcus, on Pinterest, and I thought, "A navy A-line scallop hemmed skirt. Maybe I could make that." Thus, I began drafting the NQNM Skirt (Not Quite Neiman Marcus).

I drafted the A-line skirt pattern using this great tutorial by Melly Sews. I added a scalloped hemline to the pattern using a compass, and just played with the size of the half-circles until they "looked good" and fit along the bottom edge in such a way that a quarter circle hit each side seam (see figure below). I actually did a little bit of arithmetic here when determining the diameter of the circles and placing them along them, but I forget what I did! Oops. I used another great tutorial from Colette Patterns to learn how to actually construct the scalloped hem.
I made a muslin of the skirt, inserting a center back invisible zipper using this tutorial and in-seam pockets with french seams using this tutorial. I sent the muslin along with some fabric swatches to the BFF for her birthday, and wrote out some instructions for determining what alterations would need to be made. Unfortunately I lost the photos that I took of the muslin and the instructions for fit-checking (how?!) so there isn't much to look at for the first half of this project. I do have the pattern saved in a folder in my filing cabinet.

Fortunately, I didn't have to make too many alterations to the pattern for the final version of the skirt. I totally guessed at the placement of the darts, and that worked out well. The waistline needed to be taken in a little bit, which I anticipated and had no trouble changing.

I chose a navy twill for the skirt because I thought twill would wash and wear well across several seasons and I thought that it was a fabric that my beginner-self could handle sewing. I made the pocket bags, interfacing and bias tape out of a navy, gold and white quilting cotton from JoAnn Fabrics
Since I had made the muslin, the construction of the skirt was pretty easy (oh, that's why you're supposed to make a muslin, right?) with a few minor hiccups. 

The invisible zipper came out sort of wonky on one side. At first I thought I would just live with it, but it got worse after washing. I ended up unpicking that side of the zipper and hand-stitching it, and was MUCH happier with the result. Totally worth it.
Back outside of skirt, showing darts, invisible zipper and hook and eye closure.
I am afraid that the darts on the front of the skirt are a little pointy.
Front outside of skirt, showing darts.
Inside front interfacing.
Although I used french seams in the muslin, I was afraid that they would be too bulky with the twill and the quilting cotton, so I did bias bound seams instead for the final garment. I really really wish I had done french seams, but I am pretty happy with the result of the bias bound seams. I also put bias binding on the edges where the pocket bags attach to the side seams. Is that normal? It looked unfinished. Now it looks finished, but I don't know how well-finished.

Pockets showing bias binding.

Making the bias binding was REALLY REALLY HARD. Oh my goodness. I used this tutorial to make continuous bias strips and they really didn't line up well at all. I don't think it's a problem with the tutorial at all. It was the first time I tried it and maybe I didn't measure accurately enough or line things up properly. I also didn't have a bias tape maker so I just used a piece of cardboard as a guide, and pressing that tape was seriously a pain. I won't try it again without a bias tape maker (but I got one for Christmas, woo-hoo).

I ended up turning the top of the hem under and stitching it to itself (but NOT to the outside of the skirt). This was a little awkward to do, but kept the fabric from fraying.

Inside hem and center seam of the back of the skirt.

I also ended up tacking down the hem near roughly every other scallop. I really didn't want to do this, because I didn't want the stitching to show on the outside, but after washing the garment and seeing how much pressing was necessary to get it back into shape afterward, it was clear that something needed to be done to keep the hem from flopping down.

Inside hem with tacks.
I wish that the scallops had come out more smooth and even. Instead of machine sewing around the scallops I probably should have hand-stitched them. Overall, I think it came out pretty well, though!

The finished product, hands in pockets!
I haven't yet seen pictures of the BFF wearing the skirt, but I hope she finds it wearable. I certainly didn't intend to create a garment that requires as much ironing as this one will, but maybe it will be worth the work of ironing for her to wear it a few times.

Finished and mailed in late November 2013, only two months late for the birthday, and solidly into the season of weather-too-cold-to-wear-a-cotton-twill-skirt. Meh :/

To recap, I used FIVE tutorials to make this garment. All I can say is THANK YOU ONLINE SEWISTS! I learn so much and get so much inspiration from reading your blogs. I had a lot of fun designing and constructing this garment, and I'm pretty proud of it despite it's imperfections. Maybe next time I'll be brave enough to try to gather the waist and add a waistband like the inspiration Chloe skirt has.

** I finished this garment in late November, and since I received the Colette Sewing Handbook for Christmas, I now realize the design is very similar to the Meringue pattern and I could have used that instead of drafting my own. It's okay, though. It was fun. And there is plenty more for me to learn and make in that book!