Friday, May 30, 2014

Taking a Risk (or I Made Harem Pants)

My sewing lately has been quite intentional, planned, and purpose-driven. I typically work well that way, but last week I needed a bit of a break and wanted to just sew something for fun. If it didn't turn out to be a runaway success, I wasn't going to worry about it.

I pulled out a piece of black ponte knit fabric that was in my stash. I know it isn't the best quality and I didn't want to be tempted to use it for something that I would invest a lot of time in or would want to last awhile. It's a fairly heavyweight knit, but has quite a lot of stretch and decent drape.

I don't know made me want to make harem pants, but after I had the thought I really wanted to go ahead with it. After looking for a pattern to download from Burdastyle, I remembered that I already had an issue with a suitable pattern in it (1/2011 #124).

I didn't think I would like that deep yoke, so I modified that to be narrower and straighter across and also changed the front and back leg pieces to compensate. I do like pockets in pants, so I added those. I chose the pattern size based on my hip measurement, but I don't think it really matters in this style! I did decrease the fullness at the lower CF/CB seams. There's still plenty left! 

Burda would have you interface the yoke and insert a zipper. I didn't like that idea. Instead, I added elastic at the top of the yoke so they would be easy, comfy, pull-on pants.

Here they are slightly "in motion" (head cropped because I was making a funny face).

They are indeed very comfortable. They are not conventionally flattering, but sometimes it's fun to try something different. I wore them this week with a black top and this jacket and got a few compliments. I also got a few puzzled looks. :)

Whatever you think of the pants, I'm convinced that the top is a winner. This is the Maria Denmark Kirsten Kimono T-shirt. This is a free pattern (you need to sign up for the newsletter to get it, but it's a good newsletter!) and it couldn't be easier to make. It's also easy to make and looks good on just about everyone.

The harem pants pattern will probably not see the light of day again, but I'm sure I'll make more of these tops.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Filling the Gaps

My son didn't have major wardrobe needs this season. A quick assessment showed that a few T-shirts would do it. Last week was a busy week and T-shirts were about all I could handle in the sewing room. I finished four (from two very basic Ottobre patterns and stash fabric) and hemmed a pair of pants with holes in the knees - one project for each of the weekdays.

The navy stripes are fused and then topstitched.

I just eeked this out from an old T-shirt of mine. The neckband had to be pieced.

I love this little gecko. It's from an Ottobre pattern.

Back view:

Finally, a new age number T-shirt. I like the baseball style shirt, but the sleeves ended up an awkward length. The pattern had narrow bands at the hem. I left them off and added length to compensate, but it isn't quite right. Still wearable, though.

Friday, May 23, 2014

One Winner, One Loser

More spring kids' clothes! It sure has been nice having these clothes done and ready for the warm weather. Beautiful new clothes that are ready to go make warm, sunny days all that much nicer. These two pieces are for my older daughter.

I modified Jalie 2908 slightly for these cuffed capris - straightened and shortened the legs and curved the waistband. Sadly, I don't have a picture of them on my daughter, but they fit great. The fabric is pretty lightweight and stretchy. It looks like denim, but my daughter finds these more comfortable than regular denim would be.

These were actually a pretty quick project. The fabric was easy to work with and I just used regular thread and a standard straight stitch for the topstitching. I'm happy with how all the details came out.

The insides are PINK! Pink fly guard, pocket bags, and waistband binding. I really like the flower print on the fabric also - a little abstract and stylized, but still feminine and fun.

It looks like there is some strange pulling across the yoke and waistband, but I think that's just how the pants are laying in the picture or maybe it's from shadows. They look smooth when they're on.

These are one of my favorite things that I made this season. Love them! But, the top I made to go with them is quite the opposite...

This is the Oliver + S Music Class Blouse made in a low-quality pink shirting fabric. I was determined to make things only from stash and did accomplish that, but this shirt was "forced" and I can't call it a success. The pattern is good and it fits well, but the fabric is terrible. It is stiff, wrinkles like crazy and feels a little scratchy. It will need to be ironed every single time it is worn. Also, the collar turned out pretty badly. There are some puckers on the inside neck edge and the curved edges at the front don't look very smooth. It's hard to make icky fabric look good!

I added a band across the bottom because it was looking too short. My daughter has worn this a couple of times and doesn't mind it too much, but we have fabric for a soft and easy-wearing T-shirt lined up to take this shirt's place.

Ah, well. The pants are a winner!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Navy and White for Spring

Today was a beautiful warm, sunny day - just how I imagined late May would feel back in March when I was sewing these pieces. This year I intentionally sewed spring/summer clothes for my kids ahead of the season. So, I have a number of things to post, but will likely not have too much to say about them (March was a long time ago!).

These cropped pants were supposed to be for my older daughter, but they turned out much too small. Happily, they were just the right size for my younger daughter.

The pattern is Ottobre 4/2013 #16 and I used an "engineer" stripe cotton (leftover from these pants). I played with the front pockets a little - cutting them on the bias and inserting a strip of rickrack. I like the small feminine touch it adds.

Most of the waistbands I've finished lately have included bias tape. I think it is less bulky and the pop of color and clean finish are fun. The waistband closes with a button, chosen by my daughter. The snap on these jeans frustrates her, so she wanted to try a button instead. I made a generous shank, hoping that makes it user-friendly.

The back has a traditional yoke and patch pockets. The waistband fits without elastic added, but I can't remember if it is drafted with a slight curve or if I modified it for that.

The top to go with it is also an Ottobre pattern, 1/2014 #28. This is a very easy pattern with short cut-on sleeves. Bands finish the neck and armholes.

The daisy applique across the side seam is the result of me being inspired by Boden. I like their designs and usually check out their offerings at the beginning of each season. My daughter wasn't so sure it was a good look ("why isn't it all on the front so everyone can see it better?").

I'm really happy with both of these pieces. And everything came from stash - yay!

I'm hoping for lots more of these wonderful spring days!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Oliver + S Music Class Blouse and Ottobre 3/2012 #38 Trousers

My older daughter does not always sit appropriately when she wears a skirt or dress. She doesn't loooove skirts and dresses like my younger daughter does, so when she wears one, it's usually to church or another setting with a dressy/formal feel. To say that she does not appreciate my reminders to sit appropriately is quite an understatement. When it was time to make her new Easter duds, I gave her some choices. I told her I didn't want to continue on with the reminder/scowl exchanges anymore so she could have a new dress if she would sit appropriately or she could have pants. To my surprise, she chose pants. And I think it was a good choice!

I wanted to only work with stash fabric, so we came up with this combination. The blouse/jacket (pattern: Oliver + S Music Class Blouse) is one of those notorious linen-look fabrics with an all-over embroidery pattern including a scalloped border. The photos aren't great, so you can't see the texture of the embroidery.

Without thinking about the overall plan first, I matched the print across the center front and then just barely had enough to cut out the back along the border edge. To make it work, I left off the gathers at center back and the scallops at the side seams don't come close to matching.

I did pay some attention to placement of the flower motifs, trying to avoid having them in seams. Because of their bulk, they wouldn't allow for a flat seam. I also determined the button placement based on the flowers. There was no way I was going to try to put a buttonhole through one of those flowers. That means the bottom button is pretty low and looks a little odd, but I'm okay with it.

I modified the long sleeve to make it a 3/4 length bell shaped sleeve with a cuff. The cuff was a happy accident - my original mod was too long. The other significant change from the pattern was that I added a full lining. This fabric is a bit coarse and the embroidery adds to that so it wouldn't have felt great against the skin. This was a pretty easy modification to make and it really adds to the wearing enjoyment for my daughter.

The pants are also a linen-look fabric - white, with a black pinstripe (that doesn't want to show up in the photos). I debated about lining these also, for the sake of opacity but decided they were okay enough as is. The fabric isn't very thin. I did use a beige lining fabric for the pocket linings to prevent show through there.

The pattern is Ottobre 3/2012 #38 - a pair of boys' narrow leg trousers. I added quite a bit of width at the hem, but wish that I had added more. I was hoping for a real wide-leg look. Apparently, the original pattern has very narrow legs. I'm happy with the fit otherwise. Deciding on the length did give me pause. I would like them to fit for awhile, but I don't think white pant hems dragging on the ground would be good.

My daughter has gotten so many compliments on this outfit, including women saying they'd like one just like it. It did take longer to make than a dress would have, but it's unique and suits my daughter well. It's a winner!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Oliver + S Garden Party Dress

For my younger daughter's Easter dress this year, I used the new Oliver + S Garden Party Dress pattern. I'm always tempted to buy the new Oliver + S patterns when they come out, but usually resist unless I have a real "need" for one. An Easter dress seemed justifiable. I found the bodice shirring very appealing and a bit different than many of the girls' dress patterns out there.

I used an embroidered chambray fabric that I had in my stash. It is soft and lightweight and very easy to work with. The combination of an "easy" fabric and an excellent pattern made this dress a pure pleasure to sew.

The dress looks more complicated to make than it actually is. The instructions are excellent and the methods used make it easy to get a good looking product.

Rag curls! Boing, boing!

I slightly altered the pattern pieces to make it work with the border print - mostly just straightening out the side seams.

I expected that the dress would have a zip closure, but it doesn't. I would have liked a slightly more fitted bodice, but it has to slip on over the head, so a bit of extra room is a good thing. A zipper would have been difficult to insert neatly with the band and the gathering.

I like the eyelet border on this fabric. Most of the other versions of this dress that I've seen have the bands and yoke made out of contrast fabric. I felt like there was enough going on with the border, so I made the bands out of the same chambray. I had just barely enough of the border portion to make this work and didn't have the luxury of matching the pattern at the side seams.

I really wish that the dress was longer. I added two sizes in length when I cut it out, but it still looks short to me. It does look like the pattern envelope picture, I guess. I wish I would have checked that more carefully. To preserve as much length as possible, I did use bias tape along the hem. For the sake of modesty (some of those eyelet holes are large and high up on the legs!) I made a very simple slip for my daughter to wear with the dress. Adding a lining to the dress seemed way too complicated to me.

This is definitely another winning pattern from Oliver + S. The sleeveless top version is quite cute. I'm sure I'll use this pattern again in some form.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Burda 02/2014 #128 (Desert Moto Jacket) in White Denim

Last spring I decided I wanted to make a white denim jacket in the traditional jeans jacket style. I never got around to it, but returned to the idea this year. My plan was to use this pattern and when I went to the site to download it, I saw this moto-style jacket and was quite taken with it.

The fabric I used was a lightweight denim with a lot of stretch. Too much stretch. In hindsight, it's clear that I should have interfaced the bodice pieces to control some of the stretch. I think it will be comfortable to wear, but it was frustrating to work with.

I quilted a block of the denim before cutting out the shoulder insets and upper sleeve pieces. I'm happy with how it turned out. I used a heavyweight thread and was pleased with how well it worked. When it came time to topstitch, it didn't work nearly as well and I had to do some switching around between machines, types of needles and thread. Eventually, I found an arrangement that worked, but a lot of the topstitching on this jacket is sub-par.

The inset corners on the shoulder pieces were a little tricky, but not impossible. With good marking, stitching to reinforce corners, clean clipping and precise stitching, they come out fine. The pieces are drafted well and fit together nicely.

Now let me tell you about this sad little pocket. The other one is pretty sad, too. This pocket is supposed to be a rectangle with 90 degree corners. That isn't really complicated. But, this stretchy fabric would not allow it. This picture doesn't really tell the whole story, but the bottom corners of the pockets wing out a bit, producing more of a trapezoid than a rectangle. My stabilizing efforts were too little too late and also made it difficult to rip it off without ruining the jacket front. The bottom edge should be parallel to the hem. It's not.

Then there are the snaps. I bought some snaps for this project, but they were just too small. So, I went with these heavy-duty ones that I had in stash. These snaps caused some heavy-duty heartache. That big dent in the one snap is just operator error - pounding it on the wrong surface. Doh! But, once that thing is in, it's in. The other snaps are dent-free, but they don't snap! I can't get them closed! I have no idea what the issue is. I've used these on kids' clothes and they aren't ever fabulous, but they do close!

The pockets and collar don't need to close, so that isn't a deal breaker, but I do need the cuffs to close. Rather than risking more bum snaps, I used jeans buttons and put buttonholes in the cuffs. Certainly not ideal for overall cohesiveness, but much better for function.

This jacket is so riddled with mistakes and frustrations that I nearly abandoned it a few times. I haven't worn it yet, but I'm hoping that I can get over the issues. I'm not perfect and I don't make perfect things. I do really like the style.

A few notes about the pattern...
This is a tall pattern, but it is a cropped jacket. I added 1 3/8" to the bodice length at the waist so that it would match the zipper length and I wouldn't have to deal with shortening it. The sleeves are just long enough without alteration. I actually wouldn't mind another 1/2" in sleeve length. (I'm on the low end of Burda's tall sizes, but have very long arms). I shaved off 1/4" from the back yoke along the armscye as the shoulders were too wide in the muslin. I also raised the armhole 3/8". Low armholes are kind of a deal breaker for me.

When the jacket is on me, there is a slight bit of extra fullness between the bust and shoulder. I've removed that already from the pattern pieces, because I think I'd like to make this again - in black with leather at the shoulders and sleeves. I should probably wear this one a few times and see how I like it first!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Big Bids on Baby Bibs

Every year at about this time I get invited to donate something handmade for a silent auction fundraiser for the private school my children attend. I'm always happy to do so, but sometimes the decision about what to give stumps me for awhile. This year I decided to go with baby bibs. Donations of previous years: pillows, pillows, placemats, apron.

Three girl bibs, sold as a set:

Three boy bibs, sold as a set:

I like the monster bib and wish that I had thought to make a girly monster. It didn't occur to me until they were all done. The daisy bib is nice, but doesn't feel quite as inspired as the others.

I'm happy to say that these were a hit at the auction!