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.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Red Timeless Tunic Dress

As soon as I saw this pattern I knew I wanted it. There was a Threadcount wardrobe builder pattern that came with a magazine that included a similar dress/shirt pattern, and it just seems really versatile depending on what fabric is used. That being said, my first attempt was a bust (pun intended, as you'll soon find out).

First issue was that my cutting of the bodice was a bit off. After a lot of thinking I figured out where I messed up (and it's totally on me, not the pattern): When I attached the interfacing, I just ironed it on, but the instructions say to sewing it right sides together then flip it right side out and iron. This meant that my lining piece was bigger than it was supposed to be. If the fabric had a bit less structure it might have looked alright, but it is stiffer fabric than I had originally thought (issue #2). The third issue is that my bust is smaller than the pattern was intended, and I cut this before I made my Blixen Blazer, so I didn't realize how big of a difference it would make. It really looked like a sack of flour on me. My extremely helpful sister Sarah recommended that I wear it to a toga party.

On the bright side, I'm really happy with how it turned out with regard to finishing items. I did a good job on the hem, the elastic waist and casing went really well and I like the facing for the arms and neck (other than me screwing up the cutting and interfacing).

I added length just above the bust because I find many sleeveless patterns are too tight on the armpits, and I added length to the skirt. These ended up being the correct modifications for me, I just should not have added any more length to the bodice. Since P4P drafts for an hourglass figure, I didn't modify anything else, although I now know I should have either done a small bust adjustment (SBA) or sized down the bodice. I'm still learning what adjustments I can get away with not making and which ones are required. I have yet to actually try a SBA, but I think it's time I learn to do one.

After I had finished the dress, tried it on and discovered it was possibly the most unflattering dress I've ever sewn, I made some changes in hopes of making it wearable. First, I took in the side of the bodice to make it less baggy. Second, I shortened the bodice in the front by about an inch, because I miscalculated when adding length and it was contributing the to flour sack effect. Lastly, I took it in at the waist, because I found it was not as snug as I wanted it. Usually I find I have a reasonably defined waist, but it just disappeared. It is now what I consider barely wearable, but I don't love it and my modifications didn't really make the waist fit right.

Will I make this pattern again? Not soon, but I might come back to it after I've knocked a few more projects off my list. I really want to make the free peg leg pattern from P4P, they were recently updated and look super cool.


Material: A woven fabric from the discount part of Fabricville (mostly synthetic, unknown fibres, $4ish/m)
Modifications: I added half an inch above the bust, an inch below it and a couple of inches to the length. After finishing the pattern and trying it on I took the bodice in on the sides to try and improve the fit and removed the extra bodice length. Next time I will size down in the bodice and actually follow the instructions. 
Learning: Pay more attention to the bust measurements of the pattern, and alter appropriately. I also learned a fun new method of facing a tank. An important learning was that clothing with a even moderately loose waist does not flatter me at all.

Monday, 24 April 2017

Sarah's Half Circle Skirt

It's only fair that after sewing my sister Elysia a skirt, I sew one for Sarah as well. Sarah wanted a black a-line skirt appropriate for work. I thought about buying a pattern to make this, but then I decided that a half circle skirt fit her description. I used the tutorial here and made it over the course of an evening while she was visiting so she could try it on periodically. I'm happy with how it turned out, and she tells me she wears it regularly, so she must like it as well.

The fabric was from the discount area at the back of Fabricville. The outside of the skirt is actually the backside of the fabric, so if Sarah's skirt ever blows up people will get even more of a surprise than they expected, because the other side is black and blue. It's a knit fabric with a bit of stretch, and was super easy to sew with. To be honest, when I picked up the fabric I didn't realize that I was looking at the back side of the fabric, but once I figured it out I had already decided it was the best choice. I have some left over to make something for myself now :)

I really like the amount of fullness of a half circle skirt, so if I ever start wearing skirts more regularly I will definitely make one for myself.


Pattern: None! Tutorial from It's Always Autumn
Material: A black and blue knit from Fabricville, used the back for the outside
Modifications: None!
Learning: Not much new, I've made a circle skirt before.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Cobalt Blazer

I was listening to the Maker Style Podcast a while ago, when Rachel was interviewing Heather from Closet Case Files, and Heather mentioned that you shouldn't be afraid of projects, just do them. I put that advice into practise when Christina posted a tester call for the Blixen Blazer. One of the complaints I have when shopping is that my shoulders are too broad for many structured clothing items. If I can find something that fit my shoulders and arms, it's too boxy. If I find something that is flattering, the shoulders and arms are suffocating. The obvious solution: Sew my own!

This was my first pass at the pattern, so I made it knowing that it might not be perfect. The pattern itself is amazing - following the instructions was straight-forward, everything fits together really nicely, the darts are in the right places, everything gets finished nicely. I'm actually impressed with how well I did with the welt pockets and the lining and everything. I'm not very happy with the fit - the shoulders are the right size for me without shoulders pads, but the chest is very clearly too big. The sleeves are the right length but could be a bit snugger, although adding shoulder pads will likely help them fall nicer on my arms. the waist hits are the right point and is approximately the right size, and I like the length of the blazer itself, although I might add less length for my next one.

My modifications for this pattern were adding 2 inches in length to the sleeves (and then removing 1 because the sleeves were too long), adding 2.5 inches to the length of the body and grading out the 2 back pieces at the hips for obvious reasons. I cut a straight size 10 this time around.

I definitely intend to sew this pattern again. Next time I will cut a size 8 in the peplum version, then add 3/4inch to the width of the shoulders and add in shoulder pads. I would also only add 1 inch to the sleeves and 1.5 inches to the bodice. This would mean that I don't need to grade out any at the hips, the chest should fit and my shoulders should fit with shoulder pads in.

Quick confession time: I am not one of those people that care that the inside of a garment looks good. I am much happier to slack on finishing the seams so I can start wearing the garment sooner. That being said, having the blazer fully lined was the best of both worlds: It looks good on the inside, but didn't take extra work. The instructions say to hand sew the lining shut, but I just folded and machine sewed it. I hate hand sewing, and I'm not very good at it.


PatternBlixen Blazer by Wardrobe by Me (tester)
Material: A cobalt blue knit with a bit of stretch from the discount section of Fabricville about 2 years ago, probably for under $5/m. Lining is a jersey for $3/m, and for the first time I bought stretch interfacing
Modifications: I added 2 inches to the sleeves (then removed 1), added 2.5inches to the bodice and graded out at the waist to accommodate my rear.
Learning: I've done welt pockets before, but totally forgot how so re-learned that. Learned how to apply a lining, and most importantly learned that sewing a blazer is not that difficult (most excited about this learning. It's just very time consuming).

Friday, 20 January 2017

Plans for 2017

As people who know me are aware, I'm a bit of an obsessive planner. This is a trait that I find helps me stay focused and accomplish what I want to get done. Once and a while, I even follow the plans I come up with. My sewing life is no different. Here are some patterns that I own and have even printed that I have not gotten around to making yet:

I'm not going to lie, I hate buying patterns without making them right away. I am itching to use each and every one of these, and I have had some of them for a shamefully long time. My goal is to sew at least one of each of these by September. I also have some patterns that I would like to make again, and those are:

Hey June Charleston Dress (yes, yet another one...)

I want to do some extra work to the T-shirt pattern - it doesn't fit me super well right out of the package, but it's a good way to practise altering patterns and testing different amounts of slouch for shirts. I love the pants I made so much that I have been hunting for the perfect fabric to make more, but no such luck yet. I have fabric for one or two more Charleston dresses, but I don't think I'll ever be done making more of them.

Lastly, there are tons of patterns that I keep seeing that I would still like to acquire. While all of them are not going to make it to my downloaded pattern list soon, some of them will definitely get purchased in the next year. They are:

Joggers (Either the Mama bear joggers or hudson pants)

Jeans (thinking the ginger jeans, but open to other suggestions)

Flowy Shorts (Magnolia maybe?)

Not on that list is a new tee pattern if I can't get the WBM Tee to fit me that way that I want, and a knit dress with a fitted bodice and flared skirt (maybe the moneta or the boundless knit dress). Those are on my maybe list, but not strong enough contenders that I am confident I will get them in 2017.

I hope everyone is excited to see pictures of my sewing projects for the new year. I know I'm excited to make them and wear them and learn new skills. I'm definitely really looking forward to making patterns from different designers so that I will figure out which ones work best for me and come together easiest. I am also excited to talk so much about sewing that people's ears start to bleed and they fake cardiac arrest to get away from it. Happy (Belated) New Year!

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Christmas Gifts

I have been a little radio silent lately because all my sewing energy in the weeks leading up to Christmas was devoted to sewing presents. I spent Christmas in Ottawa with my husband's family, and decided to make my sisters-in-law and mother-in-law the Boyfriend Cardigan from Love Notions. You may remember this pattern from the two that I made a couple months ago, the grey and the green ones, and how I bragged how quick it was to sew. When you commit to making 7 of them, it no longer feels quick. I was originally not going to exchange gifts with my sisters/mom, but we changed our minds about 3 weeks before Christmas, which is why it's 7 cardigans and not 4.

I would have gotten all 7 done if not for coming down with the flu 3 days before we left for Ottawa. Unfortunately, that means that mom still hasn't gotten hers, but it is in progress. I don't have much more to say about them, other than they got great reviews from the receivers, which is why I was willing to put so much time and effort into them in the first place. They've even been getting compliments on them! If you sew gifts for other people, I definitely recommend this pattern because the sizing is flexible and it's a quick sew.

I have one more to make, and then I am going to take a really long break from sewing cardigans. I have so many other things I want to get going on that it will be a while before you see one of these popping up again, although I will definitely be making myself one or two more in the future. I love the blue and burgundy colours, but I might try branching out to a different fabric.

PatternLove Notions Boyfriend Cardigan 
Material: Venice knit from Fabricville
Modifications: I actually was able to use the same size and traced pattern that I used for myself for all sisters. This meant that it didn't fit everyone perfectly, but there is a lot of flexibility with the slouch of the pattern. My mother-in-law and mother got their own sizes. 
Learning: Nothing new!

Coming up: Sewing plans for the new year, and learning to use the serger that my wonderful in-laws got me for Christmas! Words are inadequate to describe how excited I am about this gift.