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!

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

A Simple Skirt Refashion


This skirt was made from an old dress I had. It was snug when I got it years ago,  but too small now! This was a fairly simple project so there's not too much to say- I lopped off the bodice and pieced it together to make a waistband. I of course had to remove the zip too. I then redistributed the gathers on the skirt so they'd fit the waistband, reinserted the zip, and finished the top of the skirt with the new waistband! 

Here is the original garment- saucy number right? Haha.

I feel I must apologise for the somewhat dreary photos. Winter gloom + No photography skills + Tripod and timer. Heh.

I tried a few ways of styling this. 
I didn't quite feel right with my 1940s Cardigan. I think the boatneck of my Renfrew top doesn't look too good with a deep "V" layered over top. 

My thought is that a scoop neckline is best to pair with this Cardigan. (Like I did in the first post on it.)
Yeah, this looks so much better to my eye. Less agressive shape and colour.

Side note: there are some aspects of this Cardigan I'm not entirely in love with.  I think the sleeves would have been better with more negative ease; they're a little bulky. "More negative ease!" seems to be my catchphrase when it comes to knits! 
Also, I think I need to be less lazy and get better about stabilising my button bands with ribbon. I might add that to my "to-fix" pile...
Under the cardigan, the top bunches up from movement and gives me rolls. The proliferation of bodysuits I've seen on blogs lately has me thinking I might need to jump on the Nettie bandwagon...
Imagine a clean line with no bunching!

Bunchy stomach! Not my fav look.

I think it looks better without the cardigan though I'm still slightly weirded out by the proportions of waist skirts on me.

Then I brought out this old hooded knit I have. 
Omg I always hassled the combo of red and black but now I'm wearing it more and more, oh no! 
This knit is kinda old and pilled and sad (needs a good shave, it does), but I love the style and really want to make my own knock off of it.  Someday.

This skirt was fairly straightforward.....but there was that one bit where I realised I'd stitched in the black facing the wrong way around though- I'd accidentally sewed it so the black interfacing was acting as the facing, and the facing was on the inside of the waistband.
Laziness meant I just left it on the outside, as it doesn't LOOK bad.. But I do wonder if this laziness will bite me on the backside later- is interfacing sturdy enough to stand up to the job as a facing? I hope it doesn't do anything nasty like disintegrate?!
There's one way to find out I suppose. Wear it and see. 
Had anyone ever done anything similar to that?

Waistband, with overlap and hook and eye at centre back.

The original skirt has a lining with lace attached! A cute detail I can take no credit for!

This was a pretty simple project, but I thought I'd blog it anyway. Not all sewing projects have to be fancy and impressive! This skirt does almost feel like cheating though, no hemming! Yeah!

I promise I have some legit sewing coming up though... Heh!

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

More Knickers! Indie Undies

Yep, but this time, the undies are for someone else!
These are the Comox Trunks from Thread Theory, the indie pattern company that does great menswear patterns!
Trying out a new undies pattern.... you could say I've added to my... PANTSfolio?? (No apologies for that terrible pun. You loved it.)

Oh, and see the orange on the inner leg? I was too lazy to thread up a black bobbin for my twin needle hem. Confessions!
I couldn't resist this fabric.
Space Invaders!! They're one of my husband's favourites as it was one of the first games he played, and he's hugely into games. Plus he loves those wily aliens...
I had to sneakily make myself a pair too though. Matchy! This is just the same Ohhh Lulu undies pattern I've used recently.

I bought the fabric from local knit fabric source, Levana. It was some limited time thing; they don't usually stock prints. Honestly, I don't think it's the best quality fabric around, so we'll see how it lasts.

I did make one mistake (that I didn't bother to fix, naughty). I only realised once I'd finished that I put the opening in the wrong side. Oops!
The other thing I could improve was sewing on the elastic. It's a bit wonky, but you know. Black on black. And the fact that they're UNDERwear. Heh.

These took a LOT more time than my girl-undies took. They are more complicated, with more pieces. Plus I puzzled over the instructions a few times, though I got there in the end.
And then afterwards, I realised there was a sew-along on their blog. That would have helped I suppose! Now I don't know if I'm alone in this, but sometimes I feel sew-alongs bog me down with excessive details when I just want to get on with it! So I'm not sure if I'm a fan of them or not, really. In this instance though, it probably would have helped.

Undies insides.
My mister is very trepidatious about me making him things as he doesn't want to look "home-made-y". Fair enough. I think as I've sewn more he's a little less scared these days, haha! These did pass the test (and he's very blunt at all times so I know he's telling the truth!). He did however said they could have been tighter in the waist.
Because his hips are on a smaller size on Thread Theory's chart than his waist, I made them in the waist size (better to size up for safety right?). But these sit more on the hip than the waist, so it really does make more sense to pick the size off the hip chart.
If I make them again I'll size down.
Would I make them again? Well, they are bit of work. And I'm not sure how unselfish I'll be feeling! If I could get a lot faster it would be a decent saving on undies (men's undies are expensive!!), but I don't sew just to save money, I sew for satisfaction!
It did give a pretty good result, which is quite satisfying. The fun fabric definitely helps too!

Of course your big question is... did I get him to model them?? Sorry to disappoint, but he wasn't too keen.  But if you feel you're missing out, Thread Theory's models have you covered. Haha!

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Garment-Along! Part Two: The Cardigan

Well, if you saw my previous post, you'll know I'm doing the Outfit-Along being run by Andi and Lauren, so here is the second part- my cardigan!

Ahh yes, navy, red and white. Bit of a cliche colour combo but I think it works!
Marion by Andi Satterlund (one of the garment along co-hosts of course!) was a very enjoyable knit, well after I sorted out some gauge glitches. It is designed for 10ply yarn.

As I've mentioned before on this blog,  10 ply is super hard to find in New Zealand. It's all about the 8ply here for some reason, which makes U.S patterns frustrating sometimes as I can't find the 10ply locally!
I decided to try out local brand The Wool Company's 8ply as I'd heard it was on the thick side. I had hoped to be able to get a 10ply gauge with it. And I did, on 5mm needles like the pattern said!
Raring to go, I started knitting away. But soon I began to realise that the fabric might not be dense enough. I wanted to make sure my cardigan was nice and opaque!
So I swatched again. It was so hard to be patient, because I was excited to be part of the garment-along!
Knowing my stitches would be smaller, I readied myself to do some maths. It wasn't too hard though, as it's mainly a stocking stitch cardigan! I essentially just knitted a size up.

I had trouble with my first sleeve though. I ended up ripping it out when I was 3/4 done! Ugh! I just decided it was too tight! That's what happens when you play around with gauge. Oops! I did the next size up again and they were fine. I also wonder if it was because my gauge in the round may have been tighter than in the flat.
My short rows also looked much better on the second go- the first time I had picked up my wraps. But they ended up looking quite loose and ugly. The second time I didn't pick them up and left the wraps sitting there. It looks so much tidier!
I also dug out my DPNs instead of using magic loop, which I think helped even out my tension a bit. I'm converted to DPNs now, I think!

Here is a picture of the work in progress. You can see that I thought I'd be extra clever and put another buttonhole in, like the larger sizes have. WHY? So silly. At that point of the V, you'd never button it up. You can already see the button below that is straining. So I chopped that button off and did a janky sew-up job on the button hole. Heh.

I knitted it with a little more negative ease than the pattern recommends (hers is 2-3" and I think my calculation had mine sitting at about 3.75" negative ease). Why? Stubbornness... for some reason I didn't want to modify the stitch count at the bust for the size I'd chosen. It really makes no sense since I mod everything, and stocking stitch is SUPER easy to modify.
Also, I modded the stitch count at the waist since I'm not as curvy. So there are less decreases going to the waist.
One more mod I made was because my row gauge was smaller too, I didn't follow the pattern for length either. I just had to make sure my cables ended on the right row to merge into the ribbing as they're supposed to.

I do think though, I would make it longer next time. I'm sort of coming to the conclusion that I like my cropped cardigans to sit just below the waist, not on it. It just makes it easier to layer with skirts, as that way I don't have to worry about them scooting above the waistband and looking silly! Lauren's one sits slightly below the waist and looks great! And hmmm, hers is red too... I promise I'm not a creepy copycat, it's coincidence, lol!

UMM, okay, I just realised she modelled hers with a combo of red, navy and white too. Maybe I'm totally a subconscious creep! Agh! Haha!

Anyway, to fix the gaping buttonband, I stabilised it with ribbon (it was thinner than ideal, but it works.). I've done this before so didn't need the tutorial, but check out Lauren's tutorial on this, it's really well put-together! Also, I bought enough ribbon for both sides of the button band, but was totally lazy and only did the side that sits on top, figuring the underside is hidden, so maybe it doesn't matter... Logically, this makes sense to me, so I may continue my lazy ways in future. Perhaps a comparison is in order sometime!
You'll have to trust me that it helped the gaping though- you can't even see it under the bow on the dress! Whoops :D

Oh wow, what a terrible picture?? Haha.
A design detail I noticed was on the button band. At the hem edge, it has garter stitch instead of the usual rib the at the bottom two stitches. (Only on the band that sits on top though). The garter stitch mimics the look of the rib, but doesn't curl like normal rib! Very clever! At least that what I assume the function of that idea is!

Again, my camera wasn't happy with the red. Sorryyyy. Also, cabled sleeve ribbing. So cute.
I should have made my buttonholes in the ribbon longer though, getting the buttons through them is a bit of a pain. Oops!

The back is just plain.
I really love the top-down construction of this pattern. Andi is really great at designing knits like this, and I really enjoy it! I like knowing I have insurance for running out of yarn (i.e I can shorten it if I'm desperate!), and that I can try on as I go! Oh, and I lengthened my sleeves to full length instead of the 3/4 the pattern is designed for.

I've wanted to make this darling cardigan ever since I set eyes on it so I'm really happy to have it done! My Ravelry notes are here (and suprisingly bare tbh!). Thanks Andi and Lauren for doing such a great job hosting, and I look forward to seeing all the other awesome outfits! :D

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Garment-Along! Part One: The Dress

This is my post for the Outfit-Along being run by Andi and Lauren, two of my favourite bloggers! It involves knitting something and sewing a dress to match... such a great idea. I'm really glad I made the deadline :)

Plus, it gave me a chance to use my creepy "Lauren" blog post label! Haha! Yes, you have your own tag, ever since we became knitting twins!

I decided to put the two garments in their own posts so they don't get too super-long. You'll see the cardigan soon! (Okay, so you may be thinking "What the heck Jo? You just posted a knitted cardigan!" Don't worry, I'm not a ninja who knits a cardigan in a week, Washington Square just took me a long time to get around to posting! Heh :) )

So I'll start with the dress: La Sylphide by Papercut Patterns. I've made the skirt version before. 

I'll admit I was irrationally scared of making the dress version. You may have read about my nightmarish fitting woes, so any new garment is a bit scary for me! However, this time, I successfully used the Vogue 8766 fitted bodice I'd completed at the start of the year, instead of starting from scratch and going to muslin-town unnecessarily. 

La Sylphide only has one dart in the front, going from waist to bust, while Vogue 8766 has two (one from waist, and one from side bust). I initally rotated the bust dart into the waist dart to mimic La Sylphide, but remembering the nipply nightmare I had when I did that with my Cambie dress, I changed my mind and kept both darts. If it ain't broke, don't fix it!
So all I needed to do was steal the neckline from La Sylphide, draft on a buttonband to match, and make sure the neck bow was the correct length to match. My method of doing it was very made up, so I won't bother trying to explain, unless you're very interested. It worked, so I suppose it wasn't wrong!
It sounds kinda simple, but it did take me a while, especially since I triple-checked everything out of self-doubt!
Oh, and then I had to make sure the front and back skirt fitted to the front and back bodice. 
Anyway it WORKED. Yay, and NO. MUSLIN.

Pretty skirt!

I'd never fitted the sleeve for 8766 though, so that was something new I had to do. I'd completely messed up the armhole of the bodice through my fitting changes, so the sleeve had to be changed too.
Since I'd done a forward shoulder adjustment, I used this tutorial to alter the sleeve. I made up a muslin sleeve and pinned it into the bodice. I wasn't too fussy about the fit, and it seemed good enough so I moved on to the real thing.
I had a look at the two sleeves, and noted 8766 has a much differently-shaped sleeve cap. I think 8766 has a lot more height, and mine definitely sticks up a bit at the cap. I bet La Sylphide's sleeve gives a more subtle gathered effect. UPDATE: Mel of the Curious Kiwi let me know that as drafted La Sylphide has no gathers, oops! Wrong info there. PS She made two adorable ones!

If you can see what's going on.... La Sylphide is on the right.

After I cut this out, I had a brief moment of panic when I realised I hadn't considered the print at all! (Though I was smart enough to cut it all out going the same direction). Should I have matched it along the buttonbands at the centre front?? Luckily, the WSBN girls assured me that for such a small print, it didn't matter. And they were right, you don't notice at all.
I also realised, actually, even if it was noticeable, most of the front is obscured by the bow, and the skirt falls into drapey folds so it really doesn't matter!

The print is really busy so the bow kinda gets a bit lost, but you can see it up close. It also looks really good sitting on top of my cardigan, which you'll see in a few days!

Bows are fun :)
I'm pretty pleased with myself for making this even though I was a bit scared (don't be such a wuss, Jo!). There were a few glitches, like forgetting to alter the sleeve hem to fit the La Sylphide construction- it's turned up 3cm instead of having a narrow hem, so mine puckered as I hadn't shaped the side seams correctly (hard to explain, but you can't just have it taper down to the bottom. You can see in the sleeve pattern pic above, the La Syphide goes back out again so the turn-up matches the sleeve circumference. You can see I've corrected my 8766 sleeve to do this for next time!). I had too much fabric on the sleeve compared to the facing within, so I just bodged a gather on the outer arm and called it a design detail. Heh...

Overall, I'm really pleased with the end result, and would like to make this dress again. There are definitely a few janky bits, like the sleeve-bodging, and the hem... It tried to do that gross diagonal rippling thing when I narrow-hemmed it, just like my Miette skirt did on the bias.

Miette bias ripples of ugliness.
Miraculously though, they all ironed out in this fabric. Hey, I'm certainly not complaining, though I do still want to improve my bias hems so they don't do it at all! This fabric is a polyester, and it didn't like being pressed, so for the bits where it said to press a fold over the interfaced plackets and sleeve interfacing, I had to baste it in place. I also cut it on a single layer, but that's pretty usual for me! I love precision. Especially with slippery fabrics like this.

I don't think I'd normally go this short, but got a little over-zealous when evening out the hem. It's still longer than the pattern is drafted though. That thing is SHORT! So I had to add an extra button I believe. Speaking of buttons, I was thinking of being lazy next time and not even making button holes for the bottom few buttons since they're not needed to get the dress on. I could just stitch them right on and make them fakeys! What would YOU do? Would that bug you forever? :P

So overall, I'd call this a win, even though it DID take me forever. I'm think it's a cute design and I love the fabric! Tune in the next few days for how it looks with my new Marion cardigan :)

Bows :D