Thursday, 16 November 2017

My First Orla Dress

I'm calling this my first Orla dress because I am confident I will be making more. This was more a wearable muslin, that I also made a muslin for. Seems redundant, but I felt it was necessary to make the wearable muslin actually wearable. Anyway, on to the dress!

I was really inspired by #AnOrlaAffair, put on a few couple of bloggers back in July, but as I was in the middle of packing and getting ready to move into my new house, I didn't feel like I had the time to try a new pattern. Since the pattern wasn't going anywhere, I knew that I could just give it a try later. The fabric I used for this dress was left over from stuff I bought super cheap about 3 year ago, so if it went horribly wrong it wouldn't be a big deal. As you can see, it didn't go horribly wrong, but it wasn't amazing either. It certainly does not photograph well.

First up, I used an old bedsheet for a quick and dirty muslin, to test the fit/proportions and that I knew how much to gather the skirt and how to put in the sleeves. I ended up taking some width out of the skirt (I had added it in because my hips are larger than the size that I made for my waist/shoulders) and I removed some of the length of the skirt that I had also added. I'm thrilled with the fit - since the shoulders are supposed to be wide, they sit nicely on my shoulders. I might make the neck a bit smaller in the future. I will need to practise neckbands on wovens before I really like any that I make, but that's totally fine with me.

The dress came together really easily. There is nothing really tricky in the construction, other than my usual problems with necklines. I had to install the invisible zipper 3 times, but that was entirely my fault. There was a bit of vertical stretch in my fabric, and when I installed it the first time I stretched the fabric, so it turned out wavy. The second time I didn't install it evenly on both sides. Finally I hand-basted it in, checked it, then sewed it in. Third time's the charm.

The biggest problem here is the neckline. There's two problems: I suck at necklines in general, and the fabric does not have much body to keep it up. My next Orla dress I will use a stiffer fabric in hopes to remedy point 2, and I will practise and research some more for point 1. On that note, if there are any neckline geniuses out there, feel free to send tips my way! The first day I wore it, the neckline sagged so much that I reached out to a sewing Facebook group that I am part of to ask for recommendations. The most popular one was to add a pleat in the neckline, so that's what I did. I toyed with the idea of darts, but really like the pleated look.

This dress gets the barely wearable label, but not the love label. I have high hopes for my next one though!


Pattern: Orla Dress by French Navy Now (Free!)
Material: A super light crepe-like fabric from Fabricville from a few years ago (likely $2/m)
Modifications: Added 1 inch to the length of the bodice and 1 inch to the skirt length. In the future I will use a stiffer fabric and might make the neck smaller.
Learning: Woven neckbands still suck, and I should take my time doing invisible zips. My next one will be a better fabric choice.

Thursday, 9 November 2017

A Different Kind of Make: My Armoire!

When we bought our house a few months ago, I knew I would need to come up with a solution for more closet space. I try to keep a reasonable amount of clothing, but since our house was built in the 1940s, there's just not much space. Even though right now we could use the closets in the extra 2 rooms for our clothing, that's only a short-term solution. What I needed was a wardrobe that I could use to store both hanging and folded clothing.

I looked around at Ikea and Canadian Tire to see if they had what I wanted. Some were pretty close, but either too flimsy, too small, too big (our ceilings are only about 7ft) or too expensive. Luckily, on the list of attendees for my house warming party was Dave, from Dovetail Design, an amazing carpenter. When I was giving the tour of my house, I mentioned my vision for this armoire, and he said that sounds like a really fun project and he would be willing to work with me to make it. Here is the pin on Pinterest that was my original inspiration. As you can see, the one I created ended up quite different, but it was a good starting point and got the conversation going.

We started with a design session at my house. We measured the height of the lowest part of my ceiling (it has an attic-style slope out at the edges) and the width where I wanted to put in. Knowing that I wanted some hooks at the end, we made it a couple inches narrower than the space, and I ended up with a wardrobe approximately 6 feet tall and 5'6" wide. Dave has built closets before, so he already knew the depth should be about 22 inches to accommodate hangers, and I wanted the shelves to be wide enough for 2 stacks of clothing. We ended up with 36" wide shelves, which is 2 stacks of sweaters but 3 stacks of t-shirts, which is perfect.

I learned a lot building this with Dave. I got to use a chop saw and a table saw, I learned about different things you need to think about like when to sand and clean things up and how to keep in mind what is going to be visible. We opted for a pre-finished black back because it provides a great contrast, and a white closet rod. I wanted 5 hooks - one on each side on the inside for necklaces and my favourite belt, and 3 on the end for bras and belts. We used half inch pine plywood so that it would be sturdy but not too heavy, and I love the look. The facings give it all a nice look.

I've had this armoire now for a few weeks, and I love it. I discovered that wine boxes fit perfectly along the bottom for socks and underwear and other things that don't fold well (we got a lot for moving, they're not because we're alcoholics, we hide that better). It fits all of my clothing with room for more, which is good, considering my sewing habit. The 2 sides come apart, so it's pretty easy to move it, and I anticipate using it forever, regardless of where I live (although if my next house has a walk-in closet I might face a conundrum).

I have some left over plywood that we're planning to use to make some shelves for my sewing room, and I can't wait to learn more.

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Diana Joggers

When the timing works out and I apply/get selected for pattern testing, it's the best. Once in a while it's really nice to have a deadline, a convenient forum for feedback, and help with instructions. This testing experience was one of the best that I've ever had. I made 3 muslins and ended up really happy with my pants. I also made a pair of shorts after that were a dud, but that will be for another blog post.

On to the pattern! I have been wanting to make a pair of joggers for months now. Unfortunately, I have also decided not to buy new patterns until I have made all the ones that I bought and intend to make, and I have been trying to avoid buying new fabric as well. As soon as I saw this testing call, I knew it was the perfect solution. I already had fabric that would be perfect, so not only was I not buying a pattern, I didn't need to buy fabric either! It was a perfect workaround to my rule. Unfortunately when I went to Fabricville to buy Wonder Tape I fell in love with one of their new fabrics and bought some with the intent to make another pair of joggers, thus breaking my rule. When I took the fabric home I decided I might want to make a dress, so much for not buying new fabric, I tried though!

As with most of 5 out of 4 patterns, there are a whole lot of options to this pattern. I chose to make the mid-rise full length pants with patch pockets, an encased elastic waistband and banded bottoms. For my muslin, I used some cow fabric I got from a friend because it was about the right amount of stretch. My first muslin had some wrinkles on the backs of my thighs, so I scooped out the back crotch curve, added some to the outside of my hips and extended the back pattern piece to add some more space for my thighs. This was along the right lines, I just needed to add a little bit more to the crotch curve and I was happy with it.

Sewing up the pants took almost no time at all. After making a muslin everything was super easy and straightforward. This was my first time using Wonder Tape (well, the Fabricville knockoff version) and it made the patch pockets a piece of cake. Do not skip that step, it's awesome and now I want to use it for everything. I did almost everything on my serger, which was super quick and nicely finished. This was the first time that I threaded the left needle with a different colour, I used a regular thread in burgundy with the fun little wheel that came with the serger and it made the seems very clean.

Overall, I definitely recommend this pattern for joggers, and the tutorial includes great pants-fitting tips, which is worth the money on its own. I'm hoping to make a thicker pair of these for winter lounging, and a fancier pair to wear out in public. I have a lot of other things to make as well, but I can't wait to get back to this pattern! I would have liked to get better pictures, but these will have to do. The angle is a bit off because Andrew is tall, and was having difficulty focusing on the pants (except for this picture, clearly he could focus on my butt).


Pattern: Diana Joggers by 5 out of 4 Patterns
Material: A nice and light sweater knit from the discount section of Fabricville that I fell in love with and intended to use for a sweater of some sort, but is perfect and soft for these pants
Modifications: I didn't need to add any length to the pattern (I did and then removed it), but I needed some adjustments to get the fit I wanted for my rear end. My next pair I will slim out the calves some.
Learning: Pants fitting! There is now a crotch curve tutorial on the 5 out of 4 blog that I really want to try as well. This was also my first yoke, and I am proud to say I only messed it up once.

Monday, 9 October 2017

Athletic Lago Tank

As soon as I saw this fabric in Fabricville, I knew I needed to use it for a tank top. It's the perfect colour, and clearly an athletic fabric of some sort. I used the Lago Tank pattern from Itch to Stitch again, and I've already gotten wear out of it. It's not my favourite, the fabric isn't as breathable as I would like, and it's heavy enough that if I do any exercise inverted it immediately goes over my head. That being said, it's great for cycle-commuting or lounging and pretending that I'm going to exercise, but in reality I just watch television or read and clean the apartment.

The neckband and armbands turned out well, this fabric had the right amount of stretch for the pattern, which was convenient. I don't have much else to say, this is my fourth iteration of the pattern.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Sea-foam Green Leggings!

Ever since I got my serger for Christmas (which I am still excited about), I have been wanting to sew myself leggings. More specifically, out of the leftover fabric from my dress from last summer. I finally printed out and traced the Patterns for Pirates Peg Legs, so now I can start creating as many pairs of leggings as I want. This pattern is super quick, super straightforward, and fits me well.

To get the right size, I ended up blending 3 sizes. My waist and hips are a size L (yay for not needing to grade at the hips!), my thighs are an XL, and my calves are an XXL. I added 1 inch of length at the shorties length, 1 inch at the bike shorts length, and 1/2 inches at the capri length. I haven't yet tried an ankle length pair to see how accurate this is, but I like where everything hits me in the capri pair. Adding a bit of length when I make a full length pair would be easy anyway.

There is a robust extension pack available for this pattern, and while I wasn't ready to use it for this pair, I will definitely be using it for future pairs. I especially like the side panel with pocket (I have a pair of Victoria's Secret leggings with this feature, and I love it), since I can use up more different fabrics and it gives me a bit more flexibility with cutting. I might give the gusset a try for athletic leggings, and the waistband pocket would be great for a key (for example, the key to the house I just bought and moved into!)

I still love this fabric, but it is not the best for leggings. I can see my cellulite when wearing them, so they are not quite structured enough. I wore these to a spin class to see how to would go for exercise, and they are not great - they don't breathe at all, and my sweat was super visible (it was quite gross). So these will be primarily lounge leggings, I can wear them as athleisure, but not for intense athletics. I just need to decide whether the make a sports bra, a lounge bra/crop top, or just a shirt from the rest of the fabric. They might be alright for side panels for another pair of leggings as well.


PatternPatterns for Pirates Peg Legs (Free when you join their facebook group!)
Material: Scuba knit from Fabricville, leftover
Modifications: Graded out for my leg muscles (genetics and sports combine for a lot of weight in my lower half), added 2.5 inches overall in length
Learning: I can now start making leggings! It will likely now take me an hour or two per pair, I just need to figure out the best fabric.

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Bathing Suit Cover-up

I have had a black and white striped tank dress as my bathing suit cover up for years now. There is a reason I don't wear white often - it doesn't stay white for long. This dress is now getting more towards multicoloured. When the lago tank top came out, I decided I might as well try to lengthen it to replace the cover-up with a newer, different colour version. Despite the fact that I've had mixed results with altering patterns before, I decided to get some lovely teal knit fabric for Patch Halifax and just go for it. Luckily, the pattern and dress are so simple I could likely recover from most mishaps.

This dress took me about 2 weeks longer to make than it should have. This was for 1 big reason: When I pre-washed the fabric, all of the edges curled up, making it really frustrating to cut out the pattern pieces. I complained to my mother about this, and she suggested I use water to iron it flat. This is what ended up working to get me going on the project, thanks Mom! I have come across advice not to pre-wash knits for this reason, just make them about 5% longer to account for the shrinkage. I doubt I'll do it that way, because I really hate it when things shrink and I would probably over-compensate. It also took a long time for me to actually take pictures, these were taken by my lovely friend Amy at a weekend at a cottage, and she also found the flower for the added flair.

I'm clearly getting better at neckbands and armbands, although in this case there was better recovery than the jersey I used for the last 2 tanks. This fabric is 95% cotton and 5% spandex from Patch Halifax, and it is really lovely. I'm really excited to see how it feels over a wet bathing suit, because it's already lovely as a day dress. It's almost a tunic length, so I might wear it around the house, but it's too short to wear out as a dress. Looking at the pictures, I could use a little extra space around the armsythes, since this fabric has less stretch than my other lagos, but I don't really notice it when I'm wearing it.

I usually buy my fabric and notions at Fabricville because they're cheap there, and since I'm still learning I'm hesitant to invest too much money in fabrics that may not turn into a nice garment. I think I'm almost ready to start buy nice fabric (I think I've said that before, but I have a lot of fabric to use up first), with the hope that I love the clothing I make more. I really like what Patch Halifax does for the sewing community in little old Halifax - they have indie patterns, classes, lovely fabrics, etc., so even if I continue to purchase a lot of my sewing supplies from Fabricville, I will definitely frequent Patch to do what I can to make sure they succeed.

As you can see, these were taken after I went swimming.
For making this dress, I used the same lago tank pattern pieces as the blue and black one I made, I just continued straight down when I got to the bottom. I ended up needing to take it in some between my waist and hips in order to get the fit right. If I made it again I would grade out a little bit more around the hips, although the fact that it's a bit snug helps it stay down.


Pattern: Lago Tank Top by Itch-to-Stitch (Free!)
Material: Cotton/lycra jersey from Patch Halifax
Modifications: Added 1 inch to the length of the bodice and graded out 3(!!!) sizes for the hips, then continued straight down to the end of the fabric to get the most I could out of the length.
Learning: Getting even better at neckbands, and that I should probably put a little more thought into modifying patterns.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Lago Tank Top

I have been looking for a tank top pattern for what feels like ages. When Kennis put out a tester call for the Lago tank top, I jumped right on it. This is a basic tank top for a knit fabric - no frills, no extras, just a simple tank top. I was thrilled when I looked at the measurements and saw that I fit exactly into a size 6 in both bust and waist, no grading required except for the usual hip adjustment (Curse you, Dutch Bum Disease!).

The first version (pink), was almost perfect for me. I didn't properly grade out at the hip, so there's some pooling in the lower back, but it's not a big deal. It came together really fast, which is appreciated once in a while in a sewing pattern. The armbands turned out really well, but I should have cut the neckband smaller due to the lack of recovery of the jersey fabric. Speaking of the fabric, you might recognize it as some of the remaining fabric from the blazer I made recently. This tank top turned out wearable.

The second version (back and blue) has a slightly lower neckline and scooped out arm holes. I will be using this pattern more frequently, although I might raise the neckline a bit. If the fabric was less slinky it would not sit as low, so we'll see how my next version turns out with a more structured fabric. You might recognize this fabric from the Charleston Dress I made last year. This pattern is a great stash buster for knits.

Now, everyone should definitely pick up this pattern and give it a try, because it is FREE! I think it would be worth getting if it wasn't, but it is most definitely worth picking up at no cost. Also, my serger that I got for Christmas makes these pretty much the funnest and easiest things to sew ever. I want to keep making them because they are so satisfying.


Pattern: Lago Tank Top by Itch-to-Stitch (Free!)
Material: Leftover discount fabric from Fabricville, x2
Modifications: Added 1 inches to the length of the bodice and graded out 3(!!!) sizes for the hips
Learning: Getting even better at neckbands, sometimes. What a rollercoaster. Still getting to know my serger and loving it more with every project.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Grainline Hemlock

This past weekend I had the privilege of pattern testing a tank top (post coming soon-ish!). After sewing up the first version of the tank top, I had some time before the second version was available. I decided to use this time to sew myself a sweater using the free grainline hemlock tee pattern with leftover fabric from my green striped boyfriend cardigan (I bought a lot in case I messed up the pattern the first time trying).

Things I like about this pattern:
  • It's only 4 pattern pieces, so it came together super quickly
  • The neck is nice and wide, which makes it easy to pull on
  • It's nice and loose, so it's cozy and comfortable
Things I don't like:
  • Only 1/4 inch seam allowances
  • The sleeves ended up being too short, but that's fixable for next time

This sweater is appropriate for work (I work in a casual environment), but I don't see a lot of space for more of these in my wardrobe at the moment. I will see how much I wear it before deciding how many more to make, I like it enough that I'll be sad if I don't make any more. You know at the end of yoga classes, where the teacher tells you to grab a sweater so that you can lie comfortably on your back for a few minutes? That's what this is perfect for. Or throwing on at the end of a beach day. Or after the gym. Or watching television at home. 

I think I just talked myself into making another one.

The modifications I made were adding 1.5 inches to the bodice and 2 inches to the sleeves. I like the length of the bodice now, but I will add another inch or two to the sleeves on the next one. It's a one size fits all pattern, so I didn't need to grade anywhere, which was nice.


Pattern: Hemlock Tee by Grainline Studio
Material: Leftover discount fabric from Fabricville
Modifications: Added 1.5 inches to the length of the bodice and 2 inches to the length of the sleeves
Learning: Nothing new here! Getting better at neckbands, but still a work in progress.