Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Velvet Three-Quarter Circle Skirt

A while back, I bought some velvet. I FINALLY got around to working with it!

I read up on velvet from a few sources and they all made it sound so hard. But it wasn't. So there.



I wanted a fancy velvet pressing board, as I was very concerned about accidentally crushing the nap with pressing, and I'd read about using a special velvet pressing board. Well, Threads saved me with this genius tip! I already had a dowel lying around (weird), and I bought some adhesive velcro from Made on Marion. The adhesive didn't stick well enough so I'll have to top it up with some super glue! Anyway, I used it to press my seams on. However, out of curiosity about the concept of crushing the nap (that all the expert tips go on about), I steamed and pressed the HECK out of a scrap of velvet.
The result?

I couldn't tell the difference at all!

Sooo, either:
a) I bought some remarkably hardy velvet

b) I am blind

c) The expert tips are from paranoid people

d) some combination of the above. lol :P

Because of my fear of pressing, I chose not to fusibly interface the waistband (though I reckon I could have!). I only interfaced the cotton facing I used. But I wonder if both sides of the waistband need interfacing and I fear it's going to be a bit of a saggy waistband. Especially with how heavy the skirt is!

Here you can see the cotton facing I used and the lapped waistband closure.

Everyone also said velvet is really hard to sew, and that you'll definitely need a walking foot and hand-basting etc. I didn't do those things and it worked fine, so I guess I bought magical velvet? However, it IS a very simple garment. I guess the tricky factors come into play a lot more on more complicated garments.

I generally obsessed about the cut of this skirt forever. So much to consider! With velvet, the nap runs vertically, so unless I cut it as a gathered or pleated rectangle, the nap would run differently on the side seams. I wasn't sure how that would look (turns out it really doesn't matter much, the folds and movement obscure details like that anyway!). And I didn't want to gather it as I was worried about adding bulk around the waist (though on images of wee models it looks fine!).

This one appears to be some form of circle/flared skirt Source
As does this one. Source
And this one appears to be gathered. Source

Pleated. Source
(By the way, notice how short these all are? That of course is one of the reasons I turned to sewing. Everything on the racks is so flipping short!) Also, notice how they're all burgundy? It must have been a big trend for velvet skirts.

Regardless, I wanted some volume in the skirt because the play of light on the texture of velvet is so delicious, I wanted yummy folds to bring out the contrast! I'm really obsessed with texture... My forays into corduroy may have been a gateway drug!

I was definitely getting obsessive (my achilles heel!). In the end I picked a 3/4 circle skirt because
1) I've made a full circle before and it is loads of volume. I loved the idea of fullness but maybe a bit toned down.
2) I've always been curious to experiment with different fractions of circles. Just to compare!
3) My Hollyburn (these photos show its drape better) is almost a half circle and I wanted more folds than that (although this velvet is so drapey it falls completely differently to my corduroy, so it's better compared to Lauren's lovely drapey Hollyburn.)

Overthinking! It's my thing.

When cutting, I made sure to line up the pattern pieces facing the same way so the nap fell in the same direction on the front and the back. Speaking of nap, did you know that whether the nap runs up or down affects the way the velvet looks? With the nap running upwards it looks richer and less reflective. But sadly, you can't stroke down your skirt because the nap is rough that way :(
I chose the nap going up because I'm not a big fan of shininess! Maybe it's for the best, I'd probably rub the poor velvet raw from constantly petting my skirt otherwise! Haha. It's still a bit shiny though.
Here, I took photos!

Note this is shinier than the one below. Here the nap is running down.

The nap running up. Gives a less shiny texture.
I put a lapped zip in the side seam, but I used fusible stay tape on the seam allowance first as a precaution (this fabric has stretch in it!). Hand-picking it gave me more control; I'm not sure my machine would have been kind. And hand-picked just looks sooo good!
...Except in this super crummy pic that makes the fabric look super dusty... but check out the invisible stitches!



I hand-hemmed the skirt after finishing it with bias tape. Took forever.... and I also made some puckers in one place because I pulled the thread too taut! Dangit!I have to decide if I can be bothered fixing it.


Actually, speaking of hems... I'm wondering if I should lop some off (though not to the level of the models!).
Yes, I am on the fence about this skirt. I think maybe I should have shortened it, so it's less overwhelming. I also wonder if I look like a wannabe elf or medieval maiden, not my preferred style. Haha!
The third thing is that I don't know what to wear with it. 


You can see the slight hem puckers on the right.
I wasn't even sure what I was going to wear with this- velvet is pretty intense, so I didn't pair it with anything that would be overwhelming. I love the romantic styling I've seen with lace and soft fluffy knits, but I don't have any of those things. (Yet!!)

This cardigan has gotten a LOT of wear since I made it, but it's definitely not my favourite. 
All together now: "More negative ease please!!"
It's casual and slouchy and I want more fitted and put-together. Another navy cardy is definitely on the cards.

Unflattering butt photo!
See how the cardy pooches out at the back? Ick. Also, I wonder if this skirt would benefit from a petticoat to bulk it out? Or maybe it would look super outlandish. Hmm.
Ooh. Maybe if I re-hemmed it I could use a wide facing that would give the hem more oomph?

How great would a structured blazer look instead of a slouchy cardigan? It's on my "one-day" list...

Falling asleep here.
SO guys! Do you have any styling tips that will save the day with this skirt?
And: Shorten or no? :)

(Such a weird expression here, clearly still sleepy, hee hee!)

Monday, 15 September 2014

Knitted Bunny

Well, today I became an auntie! So exciting! (Both my sister and the baby girl are well  :) )
Obviously I had to prepare for the occasion by making something cute for the baby. I used this pattern. I took these photos a while back but decided to save the post for the day. :)


I've made a few cute little stuffed animals before, mainly in the Japanese amigurumi style which have been crochet.  Amigurumi actually translates as knitted or crochet thing, so this is still technically an amigurumi!
This is the first knitted toy I've made.  The pattern has you knit everything flat and then seam it up, which is different to the crochet ones I've made.

I didn't change much in the pattern, other than sizing up my needle slightly. Oh, and I also seamed up the belly invisibly, unlike the pattern. This goes for the head and ears too- why would you want a visible seam in those places?

Pattern instructions- visible seam. Not sure why.

Mmmm, invisible!
At first I also seamed the feet invisibly, but it actually looked quite silly (they looked quite pointy and shrunken). Because the selvage was on the inside, it shrank the size of the feet. And since they are already small, a little bit of shrinkage on each side really makes a difference. So I pulled it out and whip-stitched the feet closed (in other words, following the pattern this time!). This way there is no selvage, and the feet were bigger, plumper, and cuter!



I made this lil' bunny using leftover wool from my Washington Square Cardigan, and its scarf is made from remnants from my Peabody sweater.
I made the pom pom too (acrylic I'd used for previous toys) and used the pom-pom method outlined here.

Pom poms are devastatingly cute.
The original pattern has safety eyes, but I opted to hand-sew on circles of felt instead. This is because someone once cautioned me about using safety eyes for baby toys- they can slip out of the fabric and be a choking hazard. No way am I going to risk being the Aunt whose present the baby choked on!!

I embroidered some shine with white thread to make it look less soulless.
It was hard to give this away as it's so cute... I hope it's treasured and drooled on a bunch! :)

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Whoop! I OWOP'd!

OWOP is where you document yourself wearing garments made from one sewing pattern for the whole week (One Week, One Pattern!). (More details here!) This was my first time doing anything like this and gave me a glimpse into what it would be like doing something like Me-Made-May where you have to do it for a whole month. Hmm, I hate taking photos of myself so I think it would drive me crazy. Maybe one day I'll do it though.
For now, one week was more than enough!

Considering I've made the Renfrew from Sewaholic a billion times and even have a compilation page of mods done on the pattern, of COURSE I chose that pattern! I really should have a "Renfrew" tag on my blog.

I got the pics on my cellphone....SO REAL-LIFE. lol!

Day 1: Wearing unblogged skirt and merino Renfrew.
Day 1 bonus: Shots of me hanging out with crafty friends Joy and Teresa (who is wearing a Hello Kitty dress she made, hence the pointing! So amazing!!)

CATS!

Day 2: At University in my corduroy Beignet and striped Renfrew (the 2nd Renfrew I ever made!)

Day 3: Hanging out in Typography class with my new letter pals. I'm wearing my Marion cardigan and another unblogged garment, whoops!
So yeah, about this unblogged Renfrew dress! I got too lazy to blog it and consider this its bloggening. Hop over to this other Renfrew dress I made and it's pretty similar. Both are the same bodice, but this one has a pleated skirt! Knit dresses are so comfy <3


Day 4: Hamming it up in drawing the body class in my floral skirt and red boatneck Renfrew. Fun fact: Wearing a beret doubles your arty-ness. 
Hilariously, I didn't realise until later that I'd preeeeeetty much composed an identical outfit two days in a row. Red + black + floral. Haha, WHOOPS! I have been wearing my black tights a loooot because they're thick merino and nothing keeps me as warm when I want to wear skirts! I wish for more cozy tights like this but I've only found them sold in black :(

Day 5: My other Renfrew dress! Worn with my Blackberry cardigan at uni again.
Fun fact, these tights are size Extra Tall. Even though I fit into a size average by the chart on the package, these are STILL not long enough! The crotch hung around halfway down my thighs all day and was supremely irritating, what the HECK, Columbine?? I just want cool colourful tights :(
Awesomely though, one of the fashion teachers complimented my cardigan and said it was "very contemporary". A compliment from a fashion teacher is surely the highest honour! Haha!

Day 6: Selfie! Hanging around home in my cozy cowl-neck Renfrew with jeans. This thing is soo soft, I love it.

Day 7: Looking knackered after a day of work. My striped Renfrew again, worn with my pleated skirt.
This skirt is nice (and I got complimented, hooray!), but it attracts all the lint and dust in the world, and I really wished it had pockets all day. So maybe I'll remake it sometime. Dammit, it's so practical I'll probably never get around to it!

Wow, so that was my first OWOP! It wasn't too hard, but I hate getting photos, so it was a challenge. My love for Renfrew is well-documented, and it's really easy to wear every day. Hope you guys enjoyed a look into my life, you sick voyeurs, you!! (I'm joking!!).
Thanks for hosting Jane! And thanks Tasia for creating such an awesome, versatile pattern :D

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Completed: Another Sewaholic Hollyburn Skirt

This the the Hollyburn Skirt from Sewaholic which I've made once previously. It's a pretty simple pattern so I don't feel I have a lot to say! It's a really nice basic skirt to have!


I got the fabric from an op shop. It's a polyester I believe, and it drapes quite nicely. And the colour! I do love purple, and this is a lovely dull purple which is one of my 'nearly-neutral' shades.
I did a hand-picked zip, but resolved to save myself the time of a hand-finished hem this time. I used my blind hem foot, which I'm not too experienced with, but got a decent result, after a vigorous pressing!




I got a friend to level the hem for me. I find a level hem to be very important to me. That's one thing I can't compromise on!

The blind hem still took me a while though, as I turned under the top of the hem first and basted it down to hide the raw edge. I could have taken a little more care with it but it turned out fine. I need to find that perfect balance of slapdash and careful!
During the hemming, I found the machine did quite a good job of easing in the fullness of the hem (since that part sits on top of the feed dogs), which was a relief!


I'm wearing it with my Agatha cardigan, which is such a strong colour it doesn't go with everything. I'm glad I can wear it more now!

Knitted lace... and yay pockets.
Every time I put pockets in I'm like "WHY don't I put these in everything??". Answer: laziness :(

Oh yeah, and I tried it with this cardigan I made a while back which was covered in fail. I'd tried to polish this turd by tacking down the fronts into little lapel-thingies. But I still hate it!!
It sits badly, and the ribbing that sits just below the waist just feels really unflattering, like it bulks me out in the wrong places. I knew time would tell if I could learn to love this cardigan. But it's true hate! I'm now planning to frog the entire thing and start from scratch on something else!
I might keep the sleeves actually, and just make a new body- any suggestions guys? :)


The back sits horribly too and well, the whole thing is just ick.
But back to positivity. I made a skirt. I like the skirt. :)


Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Completed: Copycat Beignet

I really like my corduroy Beignet; it's one of the best things I've made so far, I think. I really worked hard on the fit (two muslins/toiles I believe) and aimed to make plenty more! But it wasn't easy, and I made loads of mistakes on it. 

This Beignet was also fraught with difficulty! 
I was pretty convinced I'd hate it the whole time I was making it, but surprisingly, I think I can make it work!
This the basic picture below: I wanted to show you the most boring style so I could explain this skirt!


You may notice a few things from this picture!
1) I HAVE A REMOTE! AGGGHHH! How come I didn't do this earlier??? I used to make the camera take bursts of 10 on a timer, which made sorting the pictures afterwards a nightmare. So if you see me holding something, that's what it is. I love it.

2) The skirt is super hmm...what's the word? Basic! Boring? And styled in this basic way I think it is really average. But sometimes "boring" is a great base for fun combinations!

3) I'm really branching out on colour. I committed to trying to expand my colour palette a while back and this is a foray into warm tones. It's also light, and I tend to stick to darker tones on my bottom half. 

4) The belt is not tied up properly. I made the belt up but it's far too bulky. I didn't even bother finishing it because I knew I'd never wear it!

5) The thing about the fabric is that even though it's not heavy, it is quite bulky. I don't even know if it's meant to be for a skirt like this. I'm wondering if it is supposed to be a coating? I don't know enough about fabric yet! 
And for someone like me who is hippy, I was very concerned it would exaggerate it badly and I'd look giant on the bottom! This basic styling doesn't help that, so let's move onto something better.

Oh, but first, have a cheesy "I have a remote!! lol!" picture!


Okay, so isn't this SO MUCH better? Adding a proper belt (which defines the waist), and adding some interest on the top half, really balances out the figure, and adds some much-needed colour contrast, in my opinion. 


So yeah, I was pretty much afraid this would be unwearable the whole time I was making it!
Fabric choice is one of the trickiest things I think. Pairing the correct fabric to the pattern is still a challenge to me and can really make or break the garment. 
I got this wool second hand, and decided I wanted a Beignet. This was heavily inspired by Andrea, one of my sewing idols, who did something similar! I also copied her by removing the buttons and going for a zip closure instead.

However, I thought the fabric had too much drape; I liked the stiffness of my corduroy skirt, as it makes the A-line silhouette.

SO, I decided to underline it with thin cotton. I often read about underlining with silk organza but I was too cheap to go that route. I think it would have been better though! It would add the stiffness with no bulk.

So I painstakingly cut all the panels twice, in wool AND cotton, and hand-basted them together. And of course there's a lining too! 
This was just one of those projects that dragged on, and the whole time, I was half-convinced it'd be unwearable. So, not a good combo.

Matching cotton underlining basted down the centre.
I was paranoid that working with the bulky fabric would make it too small. I was also concerned the cotton would restrict the give in the garment.  Eep! I did sew sliiiightly smaller seam allowances to allow for it. It does fit. Phew! 

(Oops, check out my singlet tag! lol)
Here I styled it up with my Blackberry Cardigan. The raised waistline on the skirt looks a little lumpy underneath but I don't mind.





So, the POCKET. ugh. I should have paid more attention to Andrea's awesome version. She smartly added a centre back seam and put the zip in there. But I took it upon myself to figure out how to put a pocket on the side seam with a zip. 
It didn't go well.
First I spent ages looking online for help on how to do it.
Then, I spent ages using tutorials to put the dang thing in.
I then decided it was hideous and after a period of mourning for my time and effort, decided to take it out and only have one pocket. 
Ugh, ugh, ugh.
I bet there's a better way to put it in than what I did, but I am in no mood to revisit this technique. Maybe one day, if I'm making something like a gathered skirt, with pockets made of self fabric. That would camouflage a lot better.

Hand-picked zip with pocket. It WORKED, but not well.

When wearing especially, it gaped and you see it vomiting the lining out of the pocket slightly. Unacceptable!
The gist of the construction process- doing some fancy stuff in order to use the pocket as the seam allowance.
Even now, just thinking of it hurts. Construction stuff flips my brain out lol.


Beignet I still love you and I am committing to trying again until I can make you without a hardship!

Only having one pocket halves my ability to look nonchalant but I can live with it.
Hand-picked zip on display.  And still congratulating myself on getting it to fit my curvacious rump!

Some pics of the guts:
I hand picked the zip (yeah, TWICE after that pocket fiasco ruined my first attempt!). I used a lapped application, though I never know how to deal with the facings/linings with lapped zips. They don't line up right anymore because of the lap so I just fudge it....Hmm.


I pinked the main seams and hand stitched the hem on the body. The lining was all overlocked and pressed to one side, except for the zip seam (centre of pic). I overlocked and pressed open both the body and the lining.

(Somewhat dodgily) hand sewn lining to zip.


Overall, with all the challenges, I'm quite surprised to like the result. Learning, always learning. Have you guys ever underlined? What do you think of the fabric choice? I'd better queue up another Beignet....

Here, have a pic of me looking crazy. Yay remotes!