Thursday, 28 May 2015

Finished Project: Picnic Dress

Ah, sewing for children.  Talk about instant gratification!  I finished another little summer thing for Itsa last week.  I cut it out the same evening I finished her swimsuit and then sewed it up the next night.  I did battle with the ruffle on the bottom, which slowed me down, but otherwise it only took a couple hours.

The pattern is Summer Picnic Dress by Cottage Mama and the fabric is a Japanese cotton from Blackbird fabrics.  I added ricrac I had on hand from thrift store sewing notion shopping.  There's an MCC Thrift Shop near my house that always has sewing items in it.  It makes me giddy with pleasure!

With this dress, I experimented with not reading the directions.  I wanted to challenge myself to figure out the best construction sequence based on my current knowledge and experience.  After, I read the Cottage Mama's tutorial and noted the differences in construction and which method I thought produced a better result.

Cutting out the pieces

Instructions: Cut four rectangles 14" x 3.5" for the straps, and 2 rectangles 4" x 22" on the fold for the ruffle.

Mandy method: I looked at my fabric and decided I wanted to cut off the selvages for 11.5" and then make my cuts using the entire width of the fabric.  2 widths 4" long and 1 at 3.5".  the 3.5" cut was then sliced into four equal rectangles.

Verdict: Not a huge difference, but meant less measuring for me.  Mandy method win!

Sewing the straps

Instructions: Cut  one end on an angle so the straps have a cute bevel to them.

Mandy method: Cut them straight across

Verdict: I actually forgot about the angle cut here, so this wasn't intentional.  I think the beveled straps look a little cuter.  Instruction win!

Sewing the ruffle

Instructions: Hem the ruffle by folding under 1/2" twice and top stitching.  Gather the unhemmed edge.

Mandy method: Fold the rectangle in half and pleat it before sewing to the dress.

Verdict: I think the folding definitely looks nicer, but the gathering vs. pleating is a matter of taste.  I think the pleats look more modern whereas gathers would look more classic.  The grey fabric I used is more of a modern print for a child, so I think pleats were the right choice.  Mandy win!

Applying ricrac

Instructions: Use wonder tape to hold the trim in place, even with the bottom of your yoke piece.  Adjust your seam allowance to accommodate this placement.

Mandy method: Use a seam guide to measure a 1/2" seam allowance and pin the ricrac to the bottom of the yoke piece so the stitching line goes down the middle of the trim.

Verdict: Both work... but my way allows you to keep your original seam allowance.

Sewing on straps

Instructions: Measure in 1" from the sides and pin your straps so the edge lines up with your mark.  Sew in place.

Mandy method: Measure in 1/2" from the sides and pin your straps so the edge lines up with your mark.  Sew in place.

Verdict: I like my placement better.  I like the straps making a continuous line up from the armhole curve, instead of taking a 1/2" step in like the pattern suggests.  I think it looks tidier and more professional.  It also does not slip off Itsa's shoulders, so there was no functional reason I would need to move them over.  Mandy Win!

Construction sequence

Instructions: Sew facings to pieces and then sew side seams.

Mandy method: Sew side seams and then sew facings in as a circle.

Verdict: Honestly, I don't know if either makes a difference.  I can't really see how it would.  I simply like longer, continuous seams better.  Tie!

Overall: I think the folding of the ruffle piece and the placement of the straps makes a big impact on the finished garment.  You should think hard on this before you sew those seams and decide what look you're going for.

In the end, Itsa loves the dress, but will rip it off the moment her Hello Kitty dress is out of the laundry.  Seems I should have just used Hello Kitty fabric and saved this sheepy wonderfulness for myself.  Itsa is borderline handmade-worthy at this point.  Aki loves things I make for him just because I made them for him.  Itsa is more concerned with her own personal taste to care where the garment came from.  Aki will be getting a Marvel superheros button up shirt in the next month.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Self control

Well, self-control, and my lack thereof.

I should never be allowed in the Fabric store alone.  I went to Fabricland on Friday to buy a McCall's pattern, and walked out with this gorgeous Imported knit:

100% cotton, "Imported from Germany" with a border print in width-wise repeat panels!  I bought 3.5 metres, which was 4 full repeats.

At 150cm wide, this is a lot of garment potential.  I could do another Moneta dress, but I am thinking a Violet by Blue Ginger Doll.  I love the neckline in this dress, and would do the short sleeve version.

I'd just love to get two panels in the skirt and pleat them instead of gathering, but that seems like SO MUCH fabric in a knit dress and I'm afraid of bogging it down.  The only thing to do, really, is to cut out the top and then baste two panels to it and hang it up to see if it stretches out of shape.  (Optimistic, but I know pretty much for sure that it'll be too heavy.)

I need to go back to Fabricland today.  I ran out of thread 3/4 of the way through my swim suit last night and need to buy more.  I hope I can get in and out with just thread.  They shouldn't have anything new and shiny in less than a week, right?

On a related note, apparently Simplicity doesn't sell patterns in Canada anymore.  You can buy them online and they'll be shipped out, or you can purchase PDFs, but the Assistant Manager at Fabricland told me that they don't sell their patterns in retail stores in Canada anymore, but she's pretty sure you can still buy them in retails stores in the USA.  Disappointing.  Looks like I'm done buying Simplicity patterns then!  Humph.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

New word to make mainstream

Sleage: Rage induced by sleep deprivation.  Similar to "Hangery", but involving sleep.

"Dude, why are you so irritable today?"
"Sleage, man.  The kids kept me up all night because they took car naps.  I think I slept for 45 minutes during Sesame Street."

Origin: Basically my life for the last five years.  I used to get super grumpy when I was hungry, but now I barely notice because I don't sleep much.  Now Spart shoos me upstairs to take a nap on weekends because I'm snapping at the dishes for not washing themselves.

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Unusual sewing tools: Razor blade

Sometime I use a razor blade to open seams.  It makes me feel a bit bad ass.

The short time I spent working at a mall tailor shop taught me a lot of sewing tricks to increase my efficiency.  Using a razor blade to open seams was one of them.  This works best on long, straight seams or hems.  Starting off with a seam ripper is the best way to ensure you don't cut your fabric.  Once you have a hole about an inch long, then go in with the razor.

The biggest trick to this is to make sure your fabric is held taunt!  Brace the bottom of your seam between your hip and sewing table if you can, or use your big toe to hold the other end of a hem.  If it's not held tight, you are likely to cut a hole in your fabric, and no one wants that.

Sometimes I use the blade in this little holder that came with it.  It's meant to scrape paint off, but this helps me with my metal aversion.  When I need more precision I need to ditch the holder though. 

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Finished project: Kandel Knits 75

Part 1 of May's sewing schedule is complete: Swimsuit for Itsa.

I really like the simple design of this pattern.  It's open to a lot of customization, and provides full bum coverage.  I didn't want to cut up my original pattern, so I photocopied it.  I thought about tracing, but the pieces were so small, and I know I'll make it again next year, so I went the easier route of photocopying the whole thing, then printing it out in tiles and taping it together.  If I need a larger size next year, I can just print it out again.  I really like the convenience of digital patterns.

Since this pattern is from 1970, it's a bit outdated in it's suggested fabrics and techniques.  I kind of just winged it based on my underwear and bra sewing experience.  Winging it is usually when I run into trouble, but I think this was basic enough to be fine.  The only thing I would change would be to buy the narrower swimsuit elastic.  Itsa is tiny, she doesn't need the wider elastics I like in my suits.  I hope I remember that next year when I make her another suit.

This is a functional swimsuit, and Itsa is dying to jump into the pool once it opens this weekend.  I may need to make her a second one if we go to the pool often, but based on previous experience, I don't think it'll be necessary.

The details:

Pattern: Kandel Knits 75 - Vintage 1970 pattern from a Portland OR knitting mill 

Fabric: Swimsuit nylon/spandex purchased from Our Social Fabric.  I paid something around $0.25 for a half metre end piece and have enough left to make a second swimsuit.  Also used some left over swimwear lining I had kicking around.

Mods: The pattern called for straight straps that fastened with buttons in the back.  Due to the spandex content of the pattern I decided to sew the straps down instead.  I also crossed them in the back so they'll stay on Itsa's shoulders.  I then added a ruffle under the bust elastic because I could.  I used this nifty vintage tool I found in a thrift shop that measures out even pleats.

Conclusion: Itsa has informed me she is ready for the pool.  Totally a winner of a pattern which will see a lot of use.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Finished Project: Ginger Jeans

Who's got awesome new jeans?

This girl!

Who's feeling super confident in her ability to sew a good fly front?

This girl!

Who's on a Finished Project High?

This girl! 
Who can't think of a more glamourous photo backdrop than the kid's toy area of her living room?  Apparently, also this girl.

Closet Case Files Ginger jeans in low rise view, size 12.  Denim from Fabricana in Coquitlam, feels like a brushed flannel on the outside and a scuba knit on the inside.  I thought it was more yoga pant like, but after making three pairs of jeans with it I finally figured out that it smells like a wet suit, which means it's a scuba knit.  Slightly embarrassed that it took me that long to figure it out.

Anyway, I'm so pleased with these jeans!  I used some leftover quilting cotton for the pockets and inside waistband.  I bought this fabric from Fabricland five or six years ago just because it's pretty.  I made a thing that goes over the arm of the couch with it, and that's all.  I think I had plans to sew a cover for my serger with it... but that didn't happen.  I should get on that...


I did no pattern modifications except add length.  I didn't add enough, though!  Only 1.5 inches when I knew, KNEW, I should have added more.  So the hems are cheats.  They're serged and only turned once.  Not as sturdy as I like my jean hems to be, but otherwise fine.  No one will ever know.  I don't know what I was thinking.  I usually just add tons of length so I can chop it off at the end.  Better too much than not enough, right?  But I didn't this time for some reason and paid the price.

The back pockets are free motion machine drawing again.  I love doing that!

And this is my first ever flat felled seam.  It was super easy to do and I just love it.  Definitely going to do it to all my jeans in the future.  I have no idea why I was a bit intimidated by the technique.  It doesn't really take much more time than serging and top-stitching.

Finished a couple days into May, so I'm still on track for my sewing goals.  (What unfinished pyjamas?  They're marinating.)  Two (or probably three) swimsuits this month.  The swimsuit I made last year was quick, one evening to cut out and one evening to sew.  This has me hopeful for completing an extra project or two.  In fact, after all this jean making I have a sundress lined up to sneak in my schedule.  Stash fabric again, something I picked up at the thrift shop a few months ago because I can't resist a border print.  And since I walk to work, I wear dresses all summer to keep cool and who doesn't need another sundress?

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Finished Project: Moneta dress

After 5 months, I'm finally getting around to blogging about my first Moneta dress.  I finished this before Christmas.  

Pattern: Colette Moneta
Fabric: "Designer knit" from Fabricland
Size: Large
Should have lengthened the bodice 2", but didn't.  Cut the skirt out at the XL length.

Not really a lot to say about this make, actually.  I really like the Moneta pattern, and I've made it twice now.  I love the simplicity of it, and the pockets. I am no longer in the habit of carrying things in my pockets, but sometimes I need to put something small in there so I can carry more in my hands.

This was my first time using the clear elastic to gather a knit skirt technique.  I liked it, except that I find clear elastic to SO ITCHY.  I used braided elastic the next time and it's much more comfortable.  I hope I remember in the future that I hate clear elastic next to my skin.
Definitely a "Tested-and True" pattern for me.  I rarely make the same pattern more than once, and twice within 3 months is unheard of!  But I always get compliments on this dress, and I just love the orange poppies. 

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Off the wagon, but only a slip

Well, I knew it would be a huge challenge to go a year without buying any fabric at all.  I just love the potential that a length of fabric represents.  It could be anything I want it to be!  And since I'm not buying clothes, it's nice to buy fabrics I fall in love with.

So, when Blackbird fabrics sent out the April newsletter announcing new fabrics, I caved.  She had hot pink linen / rayon!!!  Caroline, you're such a temptress.

Look at it!

Hmm?  What's that you say?  Something else in the bag?

Just a little shirting cotton.

And maybe some sheep.  I can never resist sheep.

I have plans for all of these though!  Truly!

I promptly removed myself from the Blackbird Fabrics mailing list.  And Fabricana mailing list.  I obviously can't trust myself when it's delivered right to me.

I'm hoping to save money to go on a trip to Montreal next year.  My BFF moved there 8 years ago and I've never been to visit!  Plus, after a year of fabric fasting I'll be able to restock in the Garment District.  :D  

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Helloooooo out there

This is a little awkward to ask, but I'm dying to know.  Who are my readers?  I've had over 2000 page views and only a few comments.  I am having a moment of self-doubt with respect to this.  "Am I boring?  Two thousand page views and hardly any conversation!  Is this 2000 people viewing once and then deciding I'm not exciting enough for a revisit?  Do I just need some more content?  Am I not sewing fast enough, people only come for the Finished Object parades, right?  Do I explain things too well and leave no room for questions?  Why are people only lurking?!?!?"

The most obvious answer is because my audience is mostly people who don't feel a need to comment on my content.  I know a few ladies from the RavTav are regular readers (hi!) as well as my Ravelmamas (hello!), but I am not sure who else.

So, if you could please give me a wave in the comments, it'll really help me to know who my audience is.  Maybe you only come for the cat photos.  Maybe you stopped coming because of the cat photos (probably best you left now then.  The cats have many years of life left so the photos won't stop any time soon.)

Thank you!