Saturday, July 25, 2009

Vogue 8536 - Green Sleeveless Top

I've made this top before, so I thought this would be a no-brainer. It was still quite simple, but different fabrics behave differently as this top reminded me.

I made view E but left off the sleeves. I finished the armholes by turning under 5/8" and stitching it with a double needle.

Just like the first version, I pulled the top layer over at the armhole by 3/4" to prevent gaping. This worked really well on the first version, but on this one it seemed to make the lower layer ripple. I'm wondering if making the same change to the lower layer would prevent this.

I must have stretched out the neckband while I was putting it on. Much of the time, the top stays away from my body at the CF like I'm hiding some sort of bony prominence under there. My other top from this pattern doesn't do this at all.

Isn't that a nice farmer's tan I've got going on my arms? Clearly, I needed another sleeveless top in my wardrobe. Actually, I'm hoping that a good horizontal line across my body will make my spaghetti arms look not so crazy long and skinny. How's it working?

New Look 6762 - Pink Raglan Sleeve Top

Despite the numerous bad reviews of this pattern, I still went ahead with it. The reviewers generally did not like the sleeve with darted shoulder and found the neckband to be a real problem. I like the scoop neckline and the short raglan sleeves. I thought maybe I could change the sleeve to get rid of the dart.

Off I went to check out Fit for Real People from Palmer/Pletsch. Of course they had the info I needed about removing the dart from a darted raglan sleeve. From page 176: "Today, most raglans are undarted or seamed. A darted raglan is rare." That explains why I had never seen this before. Because the dart is at the top of the shoulder, it doesn't show up on the pattern drawing for the front or the back. I don't think I would have bought the pattern if I knew about the dart. I'm pretty sure it was only $1.99, but still....
I might be starved for mental stimulation because I have quite a few knit top patterns that fit well and I like, but I still wanted to go ahead with this sleeve alteration.

I started by marking a line from the end of the dart out to the armhole seam on each side. I cut on these lines, but left a tiny "hinge" at the end of the dart.


Then I closed the dart, causing the armhole seams to get longer.

I trued the neck and armhole seam lines and traced the pattern onto a new piece.

The front arm hole seam was increased by nearly 3" and the back by about 2.25". This same amount would need to be added to the front and back bodice, making this a rather loose-fitting top. That wasn't really the look I was going for, so I took a tuck across the sleeve, shortening it by 1.25".

I added the new difference to the front and back bodices.

As you probably suspect, this made it hard for the sleeve to get around my shoulder. I did a muslin at this stage and there was a lot of pulling. So, I marked the end of my shoulder on the muslin while I had it on and then transferred that to the pattern piece.

From that mark, I made a vertical line to both edges of the pattern and horizontal lines to the armhole seams. I marked the seam lines and cut on either side of them, leaving them as a hinge, so as not to change the length of the seam line.

I spread the pattern at the "end of shoulder" mark. As I spread it in width, it needed to decrease in length in order to stay flat. I took the picture before I had taped everything, so it isn't flat in the pic. I added 1/2" in width.

I could have added the lost length back on at the hem, but opted not to.

So, I was hoping that would take care of the sleeve troubles with the pattern, but there was still the issue of the neckband. I didn't even look at the neckband pattern. I knew that the markings were off and as drafted, it was too wide to lay flat. So, I just made my own up.

I measured the length of the neckline minus seam allowances and figured I'd make the neckband 85% of the length. In my case, that was 24". A finished width of 1/2" sounded good, so I cut it 2.25" wide. Unfortunately, I didn't have a long enough piece of fabric left, so I had to piece the neckband. It would have been nice if the neckband seams lined up with the raglan seams, but I just wasn't up for that much math, so they don't.

After all that, I think it's an okay shirt. Certainly not really worth all that messing around. You can see that it is a bit big under my arm (particularly on my left side in the picture) where I had to add for the increased length of the armhole.

And, the neckband should have been longer. There are some puckers on the front.


After all that, I chose to make the second top sleeveless. That post is coming soon...

Thursday, July 23, 2009

New Look 6687 - White Babies' Dress

Okay, who puts their 18-month-old in white clothes? Uh...me. But when she looks as cute as this, how can I not?


This white cotton was leftover from a shirt I made a couple of years ago, the pattern was $.99 and the buttons and trim were leftover from other projects. So, even if she only wears it once or twice before it is riddled with stains it's no big loss.

I made the size large, but left it at the NB (newborn) length. I wanted this to be more like a top than a dress. I had thought I would shorten it more, but with all the fullness from the gathers (and the big round belly underneath), it stuck out kind of funny.


The armhole binding/shoulder straps worked out pretty well. The pattern piece was just the right length and the markings were good. I like the cross-over front and the eyelet trim.


I changed the back to close with buttons rather than a zipper. There are three buttons on the bodice part and none on the skirt.

The shorts are from Simplicity 5316. The pattern doesn't include shorts - I just cut off the pants pattern. I wouldn't really recommend this pattern. The crotch isn't deep enough for a baby in a diaper to sit. But, it will work for now. The fabric was from a thrift store - less than 1 yard to start with.

I love having little girls to sew for!

Done Sewing for the Summer

I'm rather behind on the blog. I've been busy sewing, but not keeping up with this part of the process. I just finished a top and shorts for my younger daughter. Hopefully, I get that up soon. For myself, I made two knit tops that I wore without photographing and now need to wait until they cycle through the laundry. Two more things I made are gifts and I can't post those until they are received.

Now, the title of this post means that I am done sewing summer clothing, not that I am done with sewing for the rest of the summer. Some summer things may still pop up, but I don't have anything planned right now. I like sewing summer clothing. T-shirts, shorts, skirts, sleeveless dresses - all easy-to-sew, easy-to-wear things. But, there are some good reasons to hang it up now.

We are leaving for two weeks of vacation on Monday. By the time we get home, get unpacked and back into normal life, it will be mid-August. Getting all the kids set with warm weather clothes felt like a marathon that I just finished and now it is time to start on fall. Perhaps getting a head start will help.

And then there's the fair. The fair in this town is a pretty big deal. It is in mid-September and everyone goes and lots of people enter things to be judged. We had just arrived here before the fair last year. I did check out the sewing and knitting entries and noted some interesting things. As far as I could tell, there was no scoring system, no explanation given for the placement earned (1st, 2nd, 3rd), no provision for level of difficulty of the piece or of skill level for the person entering the item. It all seems very haphazard and I would have liked to ask a judge about some of the prizes after looking at the prize-winning entries last year. But, there is money involved with the prizes. First place wins $10, second $8 and third $5.

So, in planning what I might sew for fall, I've been looking at the fair prize list and thinking of things that I might be able to enter and those will be the first fall things I sew. I won't sew something just to enter it in the fair and I'm not buying any new yardage. I'll have to buy some notions, lining, trim, etc., to make what I've got work, but that's nothing new. So, if I win something, that would be a bonus. If I don't, I haven't really lost anything. I have never entered anything I've made to be judged, so this will be a first for me. Once we get back from vacation, I'll be counting down the weeks until the fair.

Bring on fall! Well, maybe not until after our vacation is over....

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Burda 9990 - Khaki Pants

I'm irrationally excited about these pants. They couldn't be more basic, but I think that's why I'm excited about them. This pattern is going to be used a lot, I think. I made size 3 and it goes up to size 8, so we've got a few years to go.


This little man has been needing a new pair of "good" pants for a couple of months now and I kept putting it off for some reason. Once I actually decided to do them, I think it took only about four hours to finish them completely.



I had intended to put a welt pocket in the back, but I forgot and when I remembered, it was too late to do it (and have it look any good at least). The pattern doesn't include one. So, the back of this pair is plain, but his shirt never stays tucked in anyway.



The pattern instructions would have you sew the waistband onto the pants before sewing the center back seam. This is how most men's pants are made, but in this case they suggest finishing the waistband before sewing the CB seam. Then the CB seam allowances of the waistband are tacked down on the inside. Is this normal? I thought it was a little strange, but I've never made men's pants before. Sure, that might be helpful for fitting, but couldn't you do the fitting before finishing the waistband and then still get a clean finish and a good fit?


I didn't do it this way because I didn't like it and because I put buttonhole elastic in the waistband so the pants can be adjusted. The pants are all-around just a little too big right now, but hopefully they last longer this way.




The buttonhole elastic is pretty easy to use. Just put a buttonhole in the inside of the waistband at each side somewhere between the side seam and center front. Sew a button that will fit through the holes in the elastic in front of the buttonhole you just made and then finish the waistband. Cut the elastic a little longer than the length of the waistband between buttonholes and finish the ends (I just zig-zagged them). Thread the elastic through the casing and attach it to the buttons.


I actually bought this pattern (Burda 9990) awhile ago for the vest. My son needed a vest for my sister's wedding last year. The vest pattern is good, too. I don't really see myself using the shorts or short pants pattern. I don't really see anybody using the short pants pattern (what are those?!?), but ya never know...




ETA: Full review here.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Make-Up Bags

I made these up to sell. The woman with the shop where my other things are for sale asked for more stuff, so I'll try these and see what she thinks. She has mostly decorative things for the home, so I'm not sure these are really what she's looking for, but they were pretty fast and easy and will work for gifts if they don't sell.

The off-white plaid one is backed with a stiff fusible interfacing. All the others have a thin batting between the outer fabric and the lining. The green batik (smallest one) is quilted in a grid pattern.

The middle two are made with traditional box corners (some good tips here). I like that this makes a bottom for the bag, but it also pulls in the side seams making the width of the bottom narrower than the top.

I found this tutorial that shows how to make a straight-sided triangular bag. Brilliant! You can see the difference here:

The pattern for the bag looks like this:

I love finding things like this online. It would have taken me a really long time to figure this out.

The straight-sided bag seems preferable to me, but I also wanted to do the accent fabrics on the bottom of the bag and that would have been really complicated with the straight-sided pattern, but it was very simple with the regular box corners.

I'm hoping to get pants for the little man cut out tonight. (Don't tell my littlest one. If I have something planned for after bedtime, she doesn't want to go to sleep. I don't know how she knows...)

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Burda 7696 - Knit Dress

This was a good recovery project after the McCall's jacket. It took me just over two hours to make, there were absolutely no fitting issues and I really like the end result.

When I was looking through my button stash for the white jacket, I saw this black buckle. I don't know where it came from. Then I came across this pattern at the fabric store a couple of days ago, remembered a nice black rayon jersey from NY in my stash and thought it would be nice to have a new dress to wear to a wedding this weekend.

I didn't alter the pattern at all and I think it fits pretty well. I cut a size 10 from the waist up and a 12 below. The instructions would have you put in a zipper. That's silly. You don't need a zipper in a knit dress. I kept the center back seam rather than cutting it on the fold because it did have some shaping.



I fused 1" strips of lightweight interfacing along the neck and shoulder edges to keep it from stretching out. I pressed all the seams open and left the edges raw. I didn't bother with a test, but I'm pretty sure the ridge of serging would have shown and I didn't want that.

Now, I don't know what's next. The little man could use a new pair of pants, I could use a couple more casual tops, and I have a few nice pieces of linen that should be sewn up while it is still summer. Hmmm....decisions, decisions....

Friday, July 10, 2009

McCall's 5859 - Summer Jacket

I thought this would be a quick fun little project. Turns out it neither quick nor fun. I'm still on the fence about the finished product. It might be growing on me.

Based on the measurements on the pattern envelope, I should have cut a size 12. After checking the finished garment measurements printed on the pattern tissue, I cut the muslin in size 10. After trying on the muslin, I cut out the real thing at a size 8. Ah, McCall's...gotta love the sizing issues with the Big 4.

The sizing issues were just the beginning. I planned to make the pattern just as illustrated. I liked the oversized collar and lapel and the wide neck opening. I did have some doubts about the sleeves and pockets, but sometimes I opt to take away too many details and end up with boring clothes. So, not trusting my judgement, I went ahead with the pockets and sleeves.

Bad decision. The high contrast between the white fabric and black piping meant that the pockets were just "too much." They competed with the collar. Off they came - of course after I had made them completely with darts, piping, lining, etc and carefully attached them invisibly.

Check out the sleeves in the pattern line drawing:


They are gathered at the top, have darts coming up from the bottom, piping around the hem and curve up into a V-shape in the middle. And "sleeves" probably isn't the right word for them - they don't go all the way around the arm.

And they look okay on the pattern model:

However, on me they looked like some hideous ruffled wing things. Even with pressing they insisted on staying at an awful up-and-out sort of angle. This, combined with the big collar and pockets, was really hard on the eyes.

Now when you have big things sticking out at your shoulders, it makes your waist look pretty itty-bitty. I could like that. It reminded me of Jane Jetson:

Unfortunately, the "sleeves" had the same effect on my head: it looked pretty itty-bitty too. Not a good look, so the sleeves came out and I looked for another pattern with sleeves that I could substitute. I found Butterick 4188. It has the same very short, half-sleeve, but without the gathers, darts, V-shape, etc that the McCall's one does. I had to do a bit of work changing the sleeve cap to get it to fit, but three different sleeve drafts later, I think it looks much better.

I think I should have made it a little longer. My waist is at the proper spot indicated on the pattern, but it just looks a little too "shrunken" to me. It seems I should have caught that at the muslin stage.
The fabric is from my stash. I bought it at least a couple of years ago. It is a stretch twill so I used a stretch cotton for the lining. I thought the stretch would make the jacket more comfortable, but since there aren't really sleeves, movement is pretty easy with or without stretch.

So, I'm glad this is done and I'll probably wear it, but I don't think it's destined to be a favorite.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Jalie 2561 - Black pants

Another winner from Jalie! I'm pretty happy with these pants (Jalie 2561). As far as a piece of clothing, they aren't all that exciting - just basic black pants, but the fit is pretty good right out of the envelope. That is very exciting.

I made the muslin for these awhile back (post here) and then moved on to other things. After re-consulting the muslin, I raised the front crotch 1/4" and increased the leg length by 1.5". And that's all. Did I mention that I think this is very exciting?


The pattern has two options for the waistband. I chose the narrow one. This makes them slightly low-rise. I'm not sure what I think about the pockets yet. Normally I like slanted pockets best on pants, but this type is good for a bulk-free line over the hip. So, I think I like how they make the pants look, but with utility in mind, I probably won't like them.


The fabric is a stretch cotton twill (the pattern is made for stretch wovens) but I didn't want the waistband to stretch at all, so I used stay tape on the seam that connects the waistband to the pants and the seam at the top of the waistband. I used a lightweight woven cotton (non-stretch) for the interfacing. I like the button and buttonhole on each end of the waistband - the closure is nice and secure. I did use a navy zipper because that is what I had. I'll probably regret that later.
The welt pockets in the back are fake. Well, they are real welts, but there isn't a pocket attached to them. The pattern didn't include welts or any kind of pockets, so I had to figure out where to place them. I think I'll move them down a little on the next pair. It looks a little odd to have the dart ending below the welt.

Now I'm working on McCall's 5859. When I left it last night I was sure it was destined for the Salvation Army pile. I think I'm on my way to selvaging it now...

Monday, July 6, 2009

Hoping for Happy Feet

I really like handknit socks. I like making them and I like wearing them. I've probably only made six pair or so, but the first couple of pairs that I made are starting to get holes in them. I suppose now I need to start looking into darning socks. That doesn't sound like something I'll like. Anyway...


My MIL gave me this kit. It had three skeins of yarn, a sock pattern, and this note:

It says: "This kit contains handspun yarn that is a blend of wool, mohair, nylon, silk, alpaca and camel made just for socks!"

The yarn is much bulkier than any I have used for socks in the past. I didn't think I would like heavy guage socks, so I let this yarn sit in my stash for awhile. I considered using it for mittens instead of socks. But, after thinking about it I concluded that bulky socks might be something I could really like. I spend a lot of time at home and during the cooler months I always have socks on. After a day of walking around in thin socks, my feet really hurt. With heavier socks or slippers, they don't feel as bad.


So, I don't think I'll like these socks inside my shoes. Boots will probably be fine. But, I'm guessing I'll really like them on days that I'm just hanging around the house. I'll keep you posted.

I prefer knitting with a plied yarn, but it is interesting to watch how this knits up. It has a bit of a thick-and-thin pattern to it with the colors appearing randomly. Compared to knitting socks with fingering weight yarn, these socks are coming together incredibly quickly.


Hopefully my feet will like them!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Sweater Complete

I finished the Wonderful Wallaby for my older daughter. It felt like I was working on this for a long time. My daughter was very uninterested in having her picture taken with it on. It does fit pretty well, but I could have made it bigger - or longer, anyway. The sleeves are about the right length right now, so there isn't a lot of room for growth.

All of the details are the same as my younger daughter's sweater, seen here. The buttons are from NY. I bought these thinking I would use them on younger daughter's sweater and then at the next shop I found some I liked better. I think they work pretty well on this sweater.

Now on the needles: some interesting socks (for me). More about that later...