Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Completed: Polka Dot Cambie for Sew Dolly Clackett

I am a sucker for a sewalong, to my own detriment. I totally squeezed this Sewaholic Cambie out at the last minute just to be one of the cool kids and join the Sew Dolly Clackett sew along!
Sorry about the bad quality photos, but well, at least I finished the dang thing!

I call this the Maryanne dress in tribute to Maryanne, who runs Made on Marion, blogs, and is generally awesomely skilled and inspirational! I bought this fun cotton from Made on Marion. I don't generally buy quilting cotton for dresses, but I wish I had more cute dresses like this!

Okay, time for a full confession: The lining on the bodice isn't even stitched down in these photos- I didn't have time! Haha! This is why I think I ought to resist sewalongs, so I don't end up sewing shoddily at the last-minute!
However, I did get to put the zip in by hand, even if the bit where the piping meets is slightly dodgy.

Oh yeah, and piping! It was my first time putting it in- and it looks decent, though I need more practice. Too bad these photos are so bad you can hardly see it, haha!

I tapered the piping to nothing at the underarms.
Omg though, I had a scary moment when I tried it on and realised the piping had made the waist tighter (it may have also been related to all the Easter chocolate I scoffed)! I think the extra bulk, as well as the stabilising effect of the piping reduced the ease. I also wonder if I accidentally eased the waistline into the piping as I sewed it. EEP! I let out the centre back seam as much as possible. I hope it's enough, because you can't just sneakily let out the side seams when the piping is already at a set length. Lesson learned- be very careful with piping!

I was smart enough to prewash the piping though: check how much it shrunk after washing! Now imagine the nightmare of having that shrinkage happen upon first wash of the completed dress!

The ends of the cord were even with the tape before washing. A good 1.5" of shrinkage on each end!

Okay, let's talk about the fit. Since I worked so hard on getting my Vogue darted bodice to fit, I was hoping I could get away without making a muslin, by comparing the cambie with my fitted bodice. I read about people using their blocks to circumvent the muslin-fitting process so I gave it a try. I won't go into what I did since I fumbled my way through. But the result was it fit perfectly!! Haha, just kidding. It still fit badly. I was quite discouraged...
What did I learn from this process? Flat patterns are complicated beasts currently beyond my full comprehension. I think next time I would just muslin the pattern from scratch instead of trying to get clever.
Another mistake I made was trying to get away with the lining-as-muslin trick since I thought there was a chance it'd need barely any adjustment. This really just made the process harder as soft lining fabric isn't suitable for a muslin, and you can't mark, slash and hack with abandon like you can with a proper muslin.
So in other words, by trying to save myself time, I made the whole process just as tricky, if not more so. To be fair, it did fit better than I normally get out of the packet, but it was still bad.

So in future, if you see me contemplating trying out a new fitted dress pattern, smack me over the head and tell me to use a tried-and-true!!

Still got a few wrinkles around the back, but it's acceptable. I'm still really curious to see if it can be improved though!

Anyway, Maryanne rescued me by offering to help me sort my fitting issues. Sewing friend Joy also helped. Sewing friends are the best! I was having issues with nipply dart points- I took some volume out of the bust with a tuck, but couldn't resolve the nipplies until Maryanne helped me by pinning them in shape on me! Lifesaver! The interesting thing was that everything I'd read said to end them below the apex (and I'd tried and tried to make them work like this), but Maryanne showed me that they needed to go right to the apex. Which shows you that you shouldn't take everything you read in a book/online as gospel!

Disturbing nippily bust darts pic I took... HELP!!
Nipply situation under control though I still need more practice at sewing perfect darts.
I probably should have just stuck with the dual bust AND waist darts like previous fitted bodices have used. Just having the one dart naturally makes it a bit more finicky to fit I think. But once I've perfected it, at least the dart sewing will only take half the time?? :P

Oh and I used the skirt from New Look 6799, which is a gathered A-line, because I didn't want the full poof of the gathered rectangle from the official Cambie skirt.

Not too sure what I'm doing here.

I put myself under last-minute pressure trying to get this finished, which is definitely not my favourite way to sew... though I must say, at least it was a motivating factor!
Anyway, more pics:

TOTALLY needs a petticoat!!

Here's me thinking what a genius I am for making a summer dress just as we're heading towards Winter.
All in all, I think this is a successful Cambie, though I did learn a few lessons and muck around a lot. Hopefully I'll make a bunch more in future and they'll be super easy! I'll be playing with piping more though. I've always admired it as a detail, it is so cute! 

And congrats to Roisin for her upcoming wedding. Thanks for inspiring us with your amazingly cute dresses!

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Completed Knit: Cropped Cardigan with Bobbles and Cables

Pretty cardigan, right? Well it was a pain in the butt, I'll have you know.

This was not a particularly enjoyable knit at times! I actually put it down for a few months; yes, it was my first knitting UFO.
I made some mistakes, and those were:

- Going down needles sizes to get gauge, when the yarn was slightly too thick. That means I found the knitting to be slightly tight, which I felt slowed me down and made my tension a bit dodgy. (Then I made the same mistake again with another project, UGH!)
I did use an 8ply, just as the pattern called for, but this 8ply must be a bit closer to 10ply I think.

-Poor pattern choice, and modding without knowing what I was getting into!

Possibly thinking "If I'd known it would have been this much trouble, I'd have burnt the book!"

Let me tell you the saga…
When I got this book, I fell in love with the lovely cable patterns in this cardigan and was determined to knit it, even though I discovered it didn't have a schematic (those are alarm bells you hear!).
I noted that it had no waist shaping and was designed for positive ease. Well, I'll add waist shaping, and make it negative ease! Easy right?

Well, not so easy, because my gauge was slightly too big, even after going down in needle size, and I couldn't just knit a smaller size as the smallest size still would have been too big.

The complications basically came in the form of the construction (bottom-up, seamed raglan sleeves, which I'd never done before) and lack of schematic. I basically drew my own schematic in the end. I have learned from this experience to keep NEAT notes though, as I could hardly figure out what I'd written when I revisited them!
I discovered as I studied the pattern that the sleeves had 15cm (5.9") of positive ease in them. Ummmm, that's NUTS, I thought. And it confirmed my suspicion that there was something fishy going on with the model. It is quite well disguised, but there is definitely a lot of bagginess in the sleeve.

Look at the model in green. Baggy sleeve! And I believe the model on the right is wearing a cardigan several sizes too small for her. Deceptive.

Anyway, I went positively mad trying to figure out how I could fix the pattern with all the modifications I wanted to make. I ended up making a lot of mad calculations, and winging it.
I honestly think I'm lucky this turned out wearable!
Actually, I probably could have just learned to draft my own and stolen the charts from this pattern, and it would have been simpler.

I paired it with my corduroy Sewaholic Hollyburn (note to self: need more Hollyburns).

The cables ARE lovely though.
Checkin' out the cables, and OOH, bobbles!

Pattern blather:
Since I'd decreased the circumference at the bust, I thought I'd decrease the raglans less steeply, so they were about about the same length as the pattern, but I would have enough stitches across the upper chest and shoulders.

For the sleeves (and I agonised a LOT over these), I eventually decided to decrease their circumference dramatically, as well as lengthen them to full length. However all those raglan decreases meant I would run out of stitches before I reached the neckline! So I decided to stop decreasing when I got down to the cable pattern (the last 15 stitches), and keep going straight until it was as long as I needed. I believe this is a saddle shoulder construction, again, something I've never tried before and was just making up as I went…

I pinned my pieces together at this point and decided how long to make the shoulder. Eyeballing all the way, baby! I also plotted some extra shaping to make the front and back shoulders fit in with the new sleeve shape.

Pinned together, now make stuff up.
Soooo yeah. It was a very think-y knit, and I caution anyone who would attempt it! In fact, later Joy pointed out to me that Roobeedoo had made it and had found the sleeves to be as dodgy as I had suspected! Sweet vindication! However her version is still very lovely and pushed me to keep on going.

Oh yeah, and to bang on about it a bit more, I changed the button bands and also the neckline just cos. Also I had to re-knit the bands a few times. AND they're seamed on too. UGH. I wanted to try something new as I'd always done picked-up-and-knit ribbing with horizontal rib, but I am not convinced on the merits of these seamed, vertical rib ones. So much work! But they give a nice look I suppose.

After all that, do I like it? Hmm, I guess so, but I don't love it. I think the seamed raglan sleeves (oh btw, SO MUCH SEAMING in this pattern. Boo!!), give it extra structure in the upper chest, and the cabling adds bulk too. So it feels almost like a jacket, which is weird. AND, my dodgy "Make up shaping as you go" approach didn't work perfectly, so there's a bit of extra room around the neckline which sticks out away from the body (probably the i-cord I added instead of ribbing makes it worse, as it has a little bulk of its own!).

So to sum up my irks with this pattern:
-There is no schematic- what shape are the pattern pieces please??

-There aren't enough photos (only 2), and in one of them the models' hair covers up the details! I have to wonder if the details are covered up because they wanted to hide the flaws in the pattern….

-There is no indication of how much ease the models are wearing, and though from the size chart it is indicated that the design is meant to have 1" positive ease, one of the models is clearly wearing a lot of negative ease. This is deceptive for beginners, who might assume theirs will look like the model's.

-There are no charts for the complex cables, so I made them myself using this chart generator, and then printed them out.

Well, I guess I learned more about knitting patterns and modding and such, but honestly, I probably could have knitted two cardigans for the time it took to figure this beast out! Well, that's life eh? I'm such a sucker for a challenge...

Token back shot.

Anyway, when I was taking photos, I found that I could potentially fix the gross neckline by creating faux lapel thingies. I think it's a much cuter shape somehow, and stops the neckline sticking away from the body. I am considering sewing them down.

Of course, if I did that, I couldn't wear it in the other cute way which fixes the neckline by letting it droop down half unbuttoned:

But maybe, just maybe there's room in this world for a hybrid of the two??:

Also, camera went crazy.
So has anyone else had a pattern they totally got in over their head with? And shall I make little lapel thingies?! Gah though, I'm so relieved this project is over! :)

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Completed: The Bossy Burgundy Beignet

So you guys chose for me to make the Beignet Skirt from Colette Patterns when I polled you last month. And behold, I deliver!!

Gosh, me, don't look TOO excited.
I gave it a fear factor of 4/5 and I think I was justified in that (self-fulfilling prophecy?). Lots and lots of hurdles presented themselves but I finally, finally got there in the end. Phew.
I'm really glad I was able to conquer this garment. I probably wouldn't have done it if I hadn't been bossed into doing it by all of you!  I definitely have to make it worth my while by making a bunch of versions (one of my goals for the year, to use tried and true patterns).

I am INSANE for the depth of texture corduroy provides! Cordurooooooy <3
I have wanted a Beignet Skirt for so long, after stalking the amazing versions from Tasia and Andrea.

Luckily, I had some great tips from Andrea's post on the skirt- I only bought 1.5m of fabric, and it was enough. Colette recommends 2.5, that's a whole metre more! In fact, I almost got the whole skirt out of one width of fabric, getting all of the panels but one out of the first width. If you have small hips, or the freedom to flip your pieces (obviously you shouldn't do that in corduroy, friends! Pay attention to nap! :) ), you could sneak it out of less I think. In fact, yes, Tilly only used 65cm for one of hers! By the way, that's just one more blogger with a stunning set of Beignets. Must... emulate!!

A tip from Andrea was not to bother trying to turn your belt loops inside out for a bulky fabric like corduroy. Instead I overlocked one edge and folded each edge in, with the overlocked edge on top. My corduroy was quite fray-happy so I was careful not to leave any raw edges. I even finished the top and bottom of each belt loop before I folded them under and stitched them on. Better safe than sorry...
And taking another page from Andrea's magical book, I reduced the number of buttons from 12 to 8. That could save you some coins if your buttons were expensive! (Mine were a bit expensive, for some unknown reason. They look fairly average to me.)
I also pressed the corduroy seams open instead of to the side because of the bulk (except on the side seams because of the pockets).

Oh yeah, POCKETS!

Plus bonus weirdo face!
Okay so the pockets were a pain in the butt. I changed the construction because their way didn't make sense to me. I saved my long-winded blathering for my pattern review
Figuring out all the wee details of construction take up so much time, but now I've sorted them out, hopefully subsequent versions will be a breeze. Or I'll be super lazy and omit the pockets...No, pockets are too great.

I didn't want to make the tie belt for bulk reasons, but I wouldn't wear it without a belt to define the waist. Ooh it's so flippin' fancy.  (You can tell I'm a casual girl cos I think belts are what fancy people wear.)

I made two muslins, but realised too late I'd totally done it the chump way and made it way harder than it had to be.  Sigh!! Because the pattern ran large, it sat below my waist. 
So I raised it to my waist by taking it in, but I only realised later that DUH, the skirt sits above the natural waist! So it was still too low!  Cue a multitude of adjustments.  I got there in the end...
I could do a separate post if people wanted to know all about my behind. Heh.

Anyway, once the changes had been made, the seam lines were all changed so much I had to totally redraft the lining and all the facings. It took me ages to figure out how to do it and then do it (the lining hem has to line up to a precise point at the centre front and get sewn to the facing etc.) And when I was sewing it I could NOT figure out why the front facing didn't line up (because I'd drafted it the wrong length for some idiot reason!) If I'd just checked that straight away it would have saved me a LOT of time. On the plus side, I guess I know how to draft all that stuff now??
Oh, Here's another plus side, I finally got this skirt I've been wanting to make forever! Celebrate the good side!

And I think the fit turned out pretty well, for all that work. :) 
I managed to convince myself while making it that it was going to be too small. I do this all the time with fitted garments! Talk about paranoid. But a muslin doesn't act the same way as the final garment.  My corduroy garment has interfacing, thicker fabric, and facings, and I worried I hadn't taken that into account enough. However it DOES fit, to my relief. Haha! I will conduct field testing to make sure it stays comfortable all day. THEN I'll make a squillion of 'em, yeah?

Oh yeah, and it doesn't look too shabby with the beret I just knitted!
To be honest, everyone seems to rave about Colette's instructions, but I was underwhelmed. They were slightly sparse on the diagrams and details and written no clearer than the Big 4, I thought. I made notes on my pattern instructions for next time. BUT, when I was having issues with the mess I'd made of the pattern redrafting, I e-mailed them and Sarai was super helpful! You really can't beat that for customer service, can you! So all in all, the pattern gets a thumbs up! :) Better keep my eyes peeled for more Beignet fabrics... ;)

Ooh, by the way, of course you recognise my Renfrew I've paired with it, yeah? I think this this skirt is very versatile, and I hope to make some cute tops to go with it...
I had a lot to say about this pattern, but I haven't even talked about the fabric yet! I took care not to press the corduroy severely, and put my leftover corduroy underneath my skirt on the ironing board while pressing (with nap facing the same way as the skirt), to avoid mashing down the nap.. Threads has a great article on corduroy. They even recommend shaving your nap down in the seam allowances for bulky corduroy... tee hee! I didn't do that, but it amuses me.
Obviously making sure all the pattern pieces were cut with the nap going in the same direction was important too. I used a plain cotton for facings, to reduce bulk.

OooOO fancy lining.

Buttonholes and mysteriously expensive buttons.
So. Beignet. I did it. Phew. Thanks for the push guys :)

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Completed: Knitted Beret

Hello! Yes, I still exist, and I made a beret!
Also can I just say, the Tiramisu I'm wearing is a rumpled MESS, whoops!
This is Colette, a free pattern- here on Ravelry. It's a very simple design, perfect for bus-knitting. I have been taking loads of buses for school which definitely takes a lot of hours out of my week! I can't be too mad if I can use that time to knit though.
Full-time study + some part-time work = not as much sewing, 
especially considering how tired I am when I get home (boo!). Well, that's life! So the blog will be a bit sleepy. Don't cry too much guys :)

I quite liked it when I tried it on before blocking. Then I blocked it over a 10" plate (well, actually mine was a pot lid), and I think it drooped and stretched downwards a bit over the edges of the lid. So it ended up a bit bigger than I wanted. I actually did swatch for this even though I know some people wouldn't bother for a simple beret. But better safe than sorry I say. I knitted the swatch in the round, obviously, or a swatch would be pointless, as my purls are a different tension to my knits! Explanation here. I used the "whole loop" method. Plus, I was subbing in an 8ply for a 10ply. New Zealanders who can't find 10ply, this is for you: Ashford Tekapo can be knit at a 10ply gauge. In fact, I've tried knitting it at an 8ply gauge and it was horrible and tight, so I feel it is quite a heavy 8ply. YMMV of course! I bought it at Made Marion, a lovely craft shop to go visit, Wellington people! ;) 

I wasn't sure about making this up, because I don't even know if I suit berets, having never owned or worn one. I'm a beanie girl, historically!
But I definitely want to be as cool as Erin from Miss Crayola Creepy because she rocks a good beret. Have you seen her awesome Stray beret by the way??

The best part of this hat is DEFINITELY the little French beret-style knobby thingy! It's knitted i-cord.
I'm not sure this is quite "me", though my husband likes it.
I decided my options were to: 
1) re-knit it with a smaller needle 
2) pull it apart and pretend it never happened
3) see if it grows on me (well, it's already grown on itself!! HAHA)

Seeing it in the photos I think I do like it okay after all. I love the colour obviously, and it seems great for someone like me who's too lazy to do my hair, since you can just tuck it inside...

Still. I find it weird. 
Attempting to wear it draped to side, and giving it a suspicous side-eye:

So there are a few ways to wear it, even if I'm not convinced they suit me.
But definitely don't wear it like this:

And yeah, that's my hat! There's not much to say about it, other than yay for simple construction! It's knitted in the round. I didn't bother with double pointed needles, I just magic looped the whole thing. Pretty manageable, plus yikes, no way do I want to be poking around with 4 or 5 DPNs on the bus. Nightmare! I'd definitely be paranoid about losing them too!

However, I've recently been intrepid enough to knit cables on the bus. Haha. I wonder if people think I'm totally odd. Well I say, life's too short to waste perfectly good bus time! :)

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Goron Amigurumi

I actually finished this project a long time ago but never blogged it. I felt maybe it was too incongruous with the general garment theme of my blog that's happening right now, but then I was was all "wait a minute, I can post whatever I like on my blog!".
So here is a weird little amigurumi I designed.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Fitting Vogue 8766: Final Thoughts and Review of "Sew the Perfect Fit"

Woo! With the bodice-fitting done, let's get back to more fun garment posts on this blog soon (well, hopefully)!
Previous posts on this bodice: post #1post #2post #3.


After! Garment post is here. (must tweak the CF waist seam upwards slightly for next time ;) )
I'd like to round up with a review of the course and what I've learned.

I learned to face what is non-standard about my body. 
First off, everyone is different. To expect to have the exact body the pattern is drafted for is silly.

Secondly, after all my years of illness, it's probably impacted my body shape. And now I'm well, I'm still unfit! There, I said it. I'm unfit, world!! I feel this may be another reason for some of the things I have to adjust for.

Should I beat myself up about this? Or should I just accept who I am right now and that I may change in the future? (Hint: it's the second one).
The point is, even if I become a bodybuilder or a total hunchback, at least I'm building fitting tools to help me if and when my body changes.

It's a challenge, but I am learning to accept my body for what it is!
It was actually good to see all the other students' photos within the Craftsy class, because it was nice to see that I'm not the only one who struggles to get a good fit, and that there are other non-standard bodies out there :)

I learned that my fitting issues are pretty consistent.
I found myself making the alterations I've discovered a need for across the many pattern companies I've tried out, so I suppose that's good to know. I'm no longer hoping for some magical pattern to come along that will happen to fit me from the envelope!

I learned new methods of tackling fitting and pattern alteration.
The more ways I try, I more I discover what feels right for me. The great thing is that there is no "wrong" way, as long as it works for you!

I learned that internet people are the coolest.
I want to say, thank you SO much to all the lovely, lovely comments you guys gave me, encouraging me, giving me advice, and letting me know you guys have fit issues too. It really helped me along, and I highly appreciate them! You guys are fantastic! :D

And now for my review of the class:

Sew the Perfect Fit on Craftsy
-Content-wise, it was good value, though I wouldn't call it a comprehensive resource for fitting. Three different models were fitted, so a variety of fitting challenges were covered. The initial muslin-altering stage was followed up with how to transfer it to the pattern, which was great to see. I learned a lot of new ways to tackle pattern-work.

-I enjoyed the slash and hack approach to pattern fitting. I enjoy the intuition of this approach, and also, who doesn't like slicing up fabric? She describes the muslin as a laboratory, which is a great way to think of it. There's such freedom to it; drawing on the fabric, cutting slits to relieve tension... which is why I don't believe in wearable muslins, unless the fitting issues are extremely minor.

-I was impressed by the prompt replies from the teacher, though the answers were not always thorough enough to address the questions I brought up. I like to understand everything about what I'm doing, so it was sometimes frustrating.
The difficulty in communication is a standard downfall of such a medium though, I suppose.

-This is more of an annoyance at the Craftsy platform, but the commenting system kinda sucks when you want to add photos. You can only add one photo per comment, and when viewing comment threads you have to click on each photo individually to view them at a good size. It's a real pain to deal with.

-I liked the personality of the teacher. No fluff, just good information. I've viewed other classes where the teacher waffles on and on about irrelevant material for minutes, which is so frustrating.

-The pattern is included as part of the class, and I think it is a good choice of pattern. A basic darted bodice and fitted skirt, which I feel is a great tool once the fit is correct! One thing I would have preferred is for the sleeve to be a standard set-in sleeve with no darts in the head. I haven't tackled fitting the sleeve at all yet. The journey is just getting started!

Final thoughts:
YAY IT'S OVER!! I hope to use this bodice for the base of many garments, to avoid future fitting headaches. Also, huge thanks to my husband for pinning me in so many times and taking photos of me wearing hideous bedsheets. What a gem right? :)
I hope these fitting posts helped some people. Now let's make some garments!

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Giveaway Winner and Boss Me Around!

So as you may or may not know, I participate in The Monthly Stitch, a blog where a bunch of sewers get together and sew to a theme each month (though I don't always succeed at that!).
March's challenge is to sew up a pattern that's been lurking in your stash, but the catch is, the readers get to decide. Eep! My fate is in your hands...
Here are my three choices:

#1: The Colette Beignet Skirt:
Fear factor: 4/5
This is such an elegant design; I've wanted to sew it forever, but it scares me for these reasons:
-A semi-fitted skirt, eeeeep! Muslin time! (I have tried to muslin a fitted skirt pattern before and it didn't end well. I think I've learned from that though, so it might WILL go better this time.)
-Loads of seams!
-The challenge of sewing with corduroy

This won't be a quick make but it really is a beautiful pattern. I have burgundy corduroy in mind.

#2: The Kelly Skirt by Megan Neilsen:

Fear Factor: 2/5
This is quite similar to Beignet I admit, but a lot simpler. It's more casual and fun I think. Again I have corduroy in mind! I'm not trying to cheat the poll by putting in two patterns so similar, I promise! It's just that both patterns have been lurking on me! Haha.

-The challenge of sewing with corduroy

#3: The Shirtwaist Dress from Gertie's Book for Better Sewing

Fear factor: 5/5
-Buttoooooons (Seems I've set myself up for buttons whatever I do. Oh dear.)
-Sleeves and collar!
-Last year I went through the muslin fail-zone with this pattern so I'm still a bit scarred (TWO awful muslins and no finished garment. Yeah.). My new idea is to use my new fitted bodice from Vogue 8766 as a base, and Frankenpattern the rest together. Which I have no idea how to do...Heh.

I have a navy linen in mind for this.

So yes, for these patterns I'm simultaneously excited and terrified.
Please vote here and you can add your reasons in the comments too! :D

Which Pattern Should I Make? free polls 

Oh, and let's not forget the giveaway for my blog's second birthday!
The winner of the giveaway is...
Kirsty of Tea and Rainbows who wanted the Hot Cider Pullover... good choice!
Please get in touch with me to claim your prize, you lucky thing you :)