Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Thank You Gwen!

So, the other day I discovered that the lovely Gwen of the blog All My Seams included me in her nominations for the Lovely Blog/Very Inspiring Blog Awards.  I am deeply flattered by, and appreciative of, her recognition.  Gwen does beautiful work and, if you subscribe to Threads Magazine or can get your hands on one, the most recent issue that just came out (for February?) has a "Readers' Closet" article which features a gorgeous jacket made by Gwen.  It is absolutely a "must see."

The Rules of the Award provide as follows:

1.  Thank the person who nominated you.  (See above)
2.  Add The One Lovely Blog Award/Very Inspiring Blogger Award to your post.  (also see above)
3.  Share 3 things about yourself.
4.  Pass the award on to 10 nominees.
5.  Include this set of rules.
6.  Inform your nominees by posting a comment on their blogs.

Three things about myself?  Well, let's see:

1.  I love cheese.  (which is really is an understatement of my feelings about cheese.)  I am fairly indiscriminate in the variety of cheeses I am more than obliging to consume, but I would have to say that my favorite is Brie.  Although a true Brie connoisseur would probably consider me a barbarian because I much prefer my Brie to be well on its way down the path to over-ripe.  As in, you can smell it from the next room.  Which reminds me of a line in a Family Guy rerun I recently watched on TV.  Something was making a horrendous smell and one character asked what it could be.  The character Brian (who is a dog, if you don't watch the show) responded that he wasn't sure, but thought it was "either really bad meat or really good cheese."  Hilarious.

2.  I got my undergraduate degree (a B.F.A.) from the Department of Drama/Dance at the University of Montana.  My emphasis was in costume construction.  I had no desire to be a costume designer, but I absolutely loved the process of taking the designer's two-dimensional rendering of a character in costume and making it come alive in three dimensions.  And I got to learn a lot about flat-patterning and draping.

3.  For a nearly complete turn-around after getting my B.F.A., I went on to law school.  Rather than go into private practice as an attorney, however, I have spent my years since law school working as a law clerk for three different judges.  I have been very lucky to have fallen into this field of work and to have been allowed to it for so many years.  The people I have had the opportunity to work for and with (both currently and in the past) are truly amazing.

I know this award has been making the rounds of the internet for the last few weeks, so I'm sure all of the bloggers that I love to follow already have been nominated by someone else.  If you've previously been nominated, or if you don't care to participate in awards, please feel free to disregard this.  Actually, it is quite difficult to narrow my list to only ten bloggers, but these are the ones that come to mind first.

Each of these sewists has a developed personal aesthetic which I really admire, even though it doesn't always coincide with mine.  These sewists' blogs exude the passion and skill with which they approach the art and craft of sewing.  I also am appreciative of the generous way in which they share their knowledge and love of sewing with others.  Several of these bloggers are not currently active on their blogs, but it is well worth going back to read their previous posts (over and over again)--I can only hope that they eventually decide to become actively involved in the internet sewing community again some day.

1.  Shams of Communing with Fabric.  I was so flattered and excited (I think I even did a little dance around the room) when Shams became my first follower after I set up my blog.

2.  Margy of A Fool for Fabric

3.  JillyBe of JillyBeJoyful

4.  Robyn (BlueMooney) of UnZipped

5.  Peg of Deconstruct, Alter, Create

6.  TerriK of SewTerri

7.  Ann of Stitch Me Up

8.  Shannon of HungryZombieCouture

9.  Myrna of MyrnaGiesbrecht

10.  And, of course, the incomparable Carolyn of Diary of a Sewing Fanatic

To those who celebrate the occasion, I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas.  To everyone, regardless of the special occasion you may (or may not) celebrate, I send thoughts of peace and good will unto others which we should all have in mind no matter what time of year it is.  And may the New Year bring us all wondrous and beautiful things!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Vogue 8854

Wow, it's not often I purchase a new pattern and actually get it sewn up in the same season in which it was released!  This is one of the Very Easy Vogue Patterns issued this late fall from VoguePatterns.  I've been looking for a couple hoodie patterns lately and I thought this one had interesting design lines with the offset placket opening.

For my test of the pattern, I selected a sweater knit recently purchased from FabricMart.  It was described as a poly/cotton blend heathered stripe knit in the colors of sable, cream and dark brown.  It is an interesting knit, with one side showing a flat knit with the stripes clearly delineated and the other side appearing more of a boucle texture.  I chose the boucle textured side as the "right" side for my project.  I've already thrown out the scraps of the fabric used for this top before thinking to snap a photo of the two sides, but here it is in another colorway where you can kind of see the difference between the two sides:

The size chart on the pattern envelope put me in a size XL (20-22) and the finished garment measurements printed on the pattern tissue, in addition to some flat-pattern measuring on my part, confirmed that XL was the size I wanted to make.  I didn't even need to make my standard increase at the biceps on the sleeve!  But I did shorten the sleeve pattern by about 1.5 inches.

I really wanted to make the version with the hood (after all, that's why I bought the pattern!), but my test fabric was only 2 yards and I just couldn't squeeze the hood piece on what I had. So I had to go with the collar version and the shorter back length of View B, with the front pocket.  By the time I finished the garment, however, I was more than happy that I had to use the collar instead of hood--this collar is fabulous!  My sweater knit was fairly substantial to begin with and I interfaced the collar piece, as the pattern instructs.  Thus, the resulting collar has a nice ability to stand up in a shapely way, but is not so stiff that it looks board-like.  It also is soft and malleable enough to be able to fold it down if I wish.  It's really fun to play with for different looks!  Also, the collar pattern piece is just a big rectangle, so it would be very simple to cut the collar to be a shorter height if you wanted.

Here's the finished top:

The photo looks like I got a little over-zealous with the iron, but this isn't noticeable on the garment in real life.

A closer look:

This pattern is quite simple to put together and did not take a lot of time to construct.  The most time consuming part is probably creating the front placket opening.  And, while the pattern instructions are actually quite good and seem reasonably clear, I did veer from their suggested procedure in two aspects.  The first variation I did was when making the front placket.  The instructions tell you to sew the two fronts together with a seam which goes from the hem up to the bottom of the placket.  Then you work on each of the two sides of the placket to finish the front.  I thought this sounded like kind of a PITA to have to work on one side of the placket while the other half of the front was attached and dangling off to the side.  So, after stay-stitching each inner corner of the plackets, I constructed them separately, then stitched and finished the center front seam.  This worked just fine for me and probably involved much less swearing.

The other spot where I veered from the instructions as written was with the sleeves.  The pattern instructs to stitch the body side seams and the underarm sleeve seams separately and then do a traditional set-in sleeve, stitched in the round.  I totally understood why the pattern instructs to set the sleeve this way--this is not a dropped shoulder, the armscye sits at the normal shoulder point and, therefore, the sleeve has a relatively high cap.  When inserting a regular sleeve with a normal-to-high sleeve cap, it usually is easier (and you typically get much better results) if you set in the sleeve more traditionally.  However, knowing that I was working with a knit (which can be a little more forgiving when easing), I chose to put the sleeve in flat after I sewed the shoulder seams and then stitch the underarm and side body seam in one long go from bottom hem to sleeve hem.  It worked fine.

An even closer look at the collar with button closure:

I used an elastic hair tie for the button loop.

All in all, I think this is a great pattern.  Pretty simple and quick to put together, and the instructions are pretty decent.  The fit is good--I can wear a long-sleeved T-shirt or turtleneck underneath it, but nothing heavier than that.  I like that it has a regular sleeve/shoulder, rather than a dropped shoulder line.  The collar is really fun to wear and feels cozy, especially if there's a little wind in the air.  I think it turned out really cute and I will be making at least one more before I put the pattern away (gotta have that hood!!).

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Taking the "U" out of a couple UFOs

The dreaded UFO.  The UnFinished Object.  I try not to have them hanging around, but sometimes a project just loses its steam or hits a wall, and I put it away for a bit.  And then they sit in the dark recesses of the sewing closet, quietly laying a big guilt trip on me.

So, last week I pulled out two UFOs and got them finished up.  The first project was cut out last May and I'm not sure why I never stitched it up, because I was really looking forward to having the top to wear.  I suspect that I didn't have black thread on the serger at the time, so I went to another project that used whatever color was on the serger and then the weather warmed up too much for a long-sleeved shirt.  Hmm.  Anyway, this is another Sewing Workshop Liberty Shirt as a knit top.  The fabric is a wonderful black and white print rayon/lycra knit from EmmaOneSock.  I love this pattern and I love this top!

Next, I moved on to a jacket that has been in the works for at least a year and a half, if not more.  The background--About 18 years ago, I made myself a jacket out of OOP Vogue 2461, a Vogue American Designer pattern by Calvin Klein (copyright of 1990).  I used a beautiful dark green tone-on-tone printed poly raincoat fabric and lined it with an acetate/rayon blend faille.  That jacket turned out to be a workhorse for me--it was light enough to wear through both spring and autumn, but had enough heft to be warm enough for much of the winter season except for the coldest of days, even here in Montana.  Sadly, several years ago it was to the point of showing so much wear--the folds of the sleeve pleats and edges of the cuffs were wearing through--that I knew I needed to replace it.  Basically, I wanted the same coat again.  Luckily, my Mom still had the original pattern that I used, so I stole borrowed the pattern from her one time while over visiting.  Then it sat for a year while I tried to find the perfect fabric.

Eventually, I found a lovely black crinkled texture poly from Marcy Tilton that I just loved, and it even was on sale!  Then I puzzled over what to use as a lining.  I really liked the rayon/acetate faille I had used previously, but that fabric has become extremely difficult to locate anymore.  I finally found some, in black even, I think on the Fashion Fabrics Club website (but I'm not positive about that).  I proceeded to cut everything out (well almost everything--I had to order another piece of the crinkle poly from Marcy Tilton in order to have enough for the hood, so that created some delay) and started to sew it up.  Then, I got to the point of needing to set the grommets for the drawstrings and I froze.  Now, I have set grommets before and had no problems, but the process always has the potential of going badly.  I was so worried about having the grommets not set properly and ruining my project, that I folded everything up and put it in the closet.  Fast forward to at least 18 months later, when autumn is quickly turning to winter, and I realize I just have to bite the bullet because I need a coat to wear.  So I finished it.  The grommets are not the best looking, but they are sturdily attached and the drawcord stops pretty much cover any ugliness in their application. The coat feels like it is going to be very warm, even warmer than my old green one.  I am very happy.  Here's a photo of the pattern cover:

Yes, it is very early 1990's styling, with the dropped shoulder and sleeves, but I actually like this in a coat, because it is easy to wear over bulky sweaters or work jackets.  And I love the upper and lower cargo pockets with the flaps!

Here's the finished product, front and back:

Oh, yes, I also lengthened the pattern by 8 inches because I like coverage over my upper legs when the cold is biting.  Here's a closer look at the upper body:

And the oversized 1990's sleeve:

The lining:

And, finally, a detail of the sleeve cuff.  This pattern has an interesting sleeve placket design which results in a kind of flange behind the placket that encloses the opening to keep out snow and rain.  It works nicely.

I'm very happy to finally have this project done and I know I am going to enjoy wearing this jacket.

My sewing mojo has been really revved up lately, so I have several new garments completed that I am excited to blog about.  New entries coming shortly, I hope!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

One Last Vogue 1261 (maybe . . . )

After whipping up four versions of my Vogue 1261/SA Adele morph top in one weekend, I thought I should put the pattern away for awhile.  The other day, however, I was in JoAnns Fabrics to get buttons for another project and realized the red tag clearance section was an additional 50 percent off.  So I took a little look-see through the clearance racks, not really expecting to find anything.  Lo and behold, a bolt of kinda cool knit surfaced.  It is a double layer poly knit--gray opaque layered over a black sheer, then the gray is slashed to show the black.  The gray also is printed with a design of concentric circles.  I couldn't resist, so 2 yards came home with me.  The fabric went straight into the washer and dryer with the length of flannel I also bought (for new pajama pants).  As I pulled the knit out of the dryer and began to fold it up, it started telling me loudly that it wanted to be a Vogue 1261 tunic.  By the next day, I had granted its wish.  I'm really enjoying these tunic tops and think I will get a lot of use out of this one.  The black sections are sheer, so I will need to wear another top or tank underneath.

It's not often that a piece of fabric goes into and out of the collection with a 24-hour turn around time!!

I also wanted to thank all those who commented on my last post about these tops.  I really appreciate the positive support!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Vogue 1261 (sort of)

When Vogue Patterns issued pattern 1261 (was it last winter?), I just had to have it.  It seemed right up my alley, stylewise.  I especially loved the views showing the seams stitched to the outside as a design element.  And I knew I had the perfect textured wool knit from FabricMart in my stash.

While dreaming of the fabulous tops I could make with this pattern, in the back of my mind was that little voice which said "Marcy, you only love the concept of this pattern, and its 'look,' and you know full well it isn't going to work for you."  The little voice said this because one pattern view was raglan sleeve, which never works for me, another view had dolman sleeves, which just adds extra pounds to my look that I don't need, and the third view (which seemed most likely to maybe work for me) appeared from the pattern photo to have too-wide shoulders and droopy armpits which translated to a lot of alterations to get a good result.  Of course, I ordered the pattern anyway.  Quick muslins of both views A and B proved my little voice correct and I just didn't have the wherewithal at the time to do the needed alterations.  I tossed the pattern over in the corner of the cutting table, where it has mocked me for the last year.

Fast forward to about a week and a half ago when I was doing a semi-marathon tracing session of some StyleArc patterns I recently received.  I was using my tracings of the Adele Top to analyze the potential fit of a couple of new SA top patterns because I just love the way the Adele fits through the shoulders, upper torso and armscye.  Suddenly, my little voice chirped up again (in a more helpful, less irritating way than usual) and said "you can use this pattern with that Vogue pattern to achieve what you want."  I pulled out my earlier tracings for view B of the Vogue top, laid them down over the Adele pattern pieces and re-traced the Adele shoulder/armscye portion gradually morphing into the original side seams of the Vogue.  Then I pulled out a gray and black tie-dye print rayon/lycra knit from to test my new Frankenstein ("it's pronounced Franken-STEEN").  I loved the result and the fit was much better:

My Guy was a real help during the photo shoot of this garment, as you can see by the uncropped version of the picture:  (any guesses as to his favorite part of the female figure?)

I then proceeded to go a little crazy, making up three more versions over that weekend.  Next was a version with a collar in a black with white spotted rayon/lycra from Marcy Tilton:

Then another version with a plain neck in a fabulous swirly print rayon/lycra from EmmaOneSock:

Finally, I pulled out that textured wool knit from FabricMart which I had always envisioned in this pattern.  I added center front and back seams and stitched those, as well as the shoulder/armscye seams, to the outside.  I also turned the sleeve hems to the outside and stitched the neck binding on in the reverse.  I think this treatment will look even more effective once I wet the garment and run it through the dryer.

I stitched 3/8 inch away from the lower edge, instead of a regular hem.  Hopefully, this will help keep the edge from stretching out of shape.

I really had to be careful with the cutting process to make sure all the exposed edges were smooth and even.

The above photo shows the sleeve hem and a better visual of the fabric's texture.  The sleeve hem was turned to the outside, stitched at about 1/2 inch, and then the extra hem allowance was pressed down.  I am hoping that, over time, the exposed edges will curl more than just sit flat.  The knit fabric had a smooth knit surface on one side, with a texture on the reverse--I used the textured side as the "right" side.  This photo also shows the closest to accurate color of the fabric--kind of a dark taupe, but with green overtones.

I am now really happy with this pattern and expect that it will become a regular in the TNT rotation.

(**worthless bonus points to anyone who knows the movie from which I quoted above--although I'm not sure I have the quote exactly correct)


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

StyleArc Abby Cardi

Last week I finally got around to testing out the Abby Cardigan from StyleArc patterns.

I love this pattern!  I ordered it in a size 18, corresponding to my full bust measurement.  The only alteration I made when tracing the pattern was my standard increase to the width of the sleeve.  This garment sews up quickly and easily--I can see whipping up one or two more of these for the winter.  While the instructions in StyleArc patterns are typically, um, let's say "concise," and assume some familiarity with the process of putting a garment together, this cardi is not difficult to figure out.  The only spot where someone might have any problems is with the back collar area, but if you've ever made a garment with a shawl collar, you should be good to go.

For the fabric, I used a charcoal gray with black pinstripe rayon/nylon/lycra knit by Eileen Fisher which I purchased from EmmaOneSock.  Beautiful fabric with a lovely soft hand.  I thought it was very effective in this pattern and am more than happy with the results:

The pattern suggests several options for finishing the front edges and bottom hem.  I chose to do a serged finish on these edges, single fold over and topstitch for a 5/8 inch hem.  I also mitered the corners where the front edges meet the bottom hem:

I highly recommend this pattern if you are a cardigan type of gal.  I know I will be making it again!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Sewing Workshop West End Top

Now that autumn is here, my sewing mojo seems to be flowing a little stronger and I'm excited to try out the plethora of new patterns I've received over the last few months.  I wanted to try the Sewing Workshop's new pattern for the West End Top first because I thought it would be a cute little top/jacket to throw on when the fall weather is cool, but still too warm for a regular long-sleeved jacket.

For the jacket, the pattern recommends using a knit or stretch woven.  I chose to ignore this and, instead, used a woven rayon I purchased from early this summer.  This fabric is a kind of a loose, rustic weave, reminiscent of a hopsack-type fabric.  This particular piece (I ordered several different ones from the grouping) is a natural color, woven with a diamond pattern.  I traced the pattern in a size extra-large, mostly because I wanted to be sure I had enough ease in the garment using a non-stretch fabric.  As I kind of expected, I easily could have gone down a size and been fine--the loose weave of this fabric did not cause any issues with ease and even may have added extra ease, as it has a tendency to grow when worked with and worn.

(ETA--I totally forgot to mention that, when I traced the size XL, I made no fitting alterations and the only change I made was to add 5/8 of an inch seam allowance to the bottom of the Front and Front Facing pattern pieces so that I could make a clean finished edge next to the zipper in front.)

I wish I had used a better-looking zipper for this project.  Something with metal teeth would have been a nicer look, but I was too impatient.  A better zipper would have meant ordering from an on-line source--I copped out and purchased a regular nylon coil separating zipper from the local JoAnn's.  It looks okay, but not as good as it could have.  Overall I am very happy with this project and am pretty sure I will make this pattern up again.  Well, the top/jacket at least.  I've never been as enamored of the pants in this one as they're just not a good style for me.  Here's my result for the top:

I paired this garment with a skirt from the Shapes Six Sense Skirt pattern.  For the skirt, I used another of the rayon "hopsack" fabrics from, this time in a natural and black stripe:

I guess it's not the best photo for seeing the design lines of the skirt, but take my word for it that this skirt pattern is especially effective in a stripe.

Next up is a pair of pants in a natural linen using my TNT basic pants pattern that I've used for years.  Then, I'm thinking of doing a small capsule wardrobe for autumn using some gold/brown fabrics I've collected.  As I said, the crisp autumn weather always turns on my sewing juices, so I'm definitely feeling the urge to get into the sewing room!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

StyleArc Ada Top

During my quest for comfortable warm weather tops earlier this summer, I pulled out my pattern for the Ada Knit Top from StyleArc.

Interesting boxy knit top with side pockets

I thought this looked perfect for my needs--a looser fit, but with unique design lines to add some interest and make it not be just another t-shirt.  My only concern was whether what appears to be a looser, comfortable fit in the design drawing would, in reality, simply be baggy and unattractive.

I ordered the pattern in size 18, which corresponds to my full bust measurement.  The only alteration I made to the pattern when tracing it was to slash the sleeve piece from hem to shoulder point and spread a bit to add about one inch extra width at the hem, tapering to nothing at the shoulder point.  I probably could have gotten away without this alteration, but I would rather have a sleeve on a summer top be a bit too loose than too constricting.

For my first attempt, I pulled out a rayon/lycra knit in a kind of tribal print which I recently obtained from  The cutting process was a little more difficult than usual with this fabric, because not only is it quite lightweight, the print is slightly off-grain.  Because of the off-grain print, I decided not to worry about any matching of the pattern across seam lines and just let the chips fall where they may.  Because of this and the busyness of the print itself, it is rather difficult to see the design lines in the finished top.  I am pleased with the outcome, however, and have worn the top a number of times this summer with enjoyment.  The fit is just what I had hoped for--loose, but not baggy.

Here's a bit better look at the pocket, which is a little droopy in this lightweight knit--

For my second attempt, I used another rayon/lycra knit, this one from EmmaOneSock.  This knit was even lighter in weight than the tribal print knit and the resulting garment is less successful than the first one.  This knit seemed almost to grow while I was sewing it up and I suspect that the pressing process during construction caused the knit to relax more than expected (even though I ironed the fabric prior to cutting).  As a result, the final top is a little looser (read "baggy") and less flattering over all, and the pockets droop a bit more than I would like.  But I do enjoy wearing this second version as well.

With the lighter colors of this print, it's a little easier to see the style lines of the pattern--

All in all, I would recommend this pattern.  The pattern is well drafted, the construction process is simple and quick, and the resulting garment is fun and flattering to wear.  I'll definitely be pulling this pattern out again next year when the warm weather hits again.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Vogue 8792

So, as I mentioned before, I struggle with creating comfortable, wearable clothing appropriate for the hotter temperatures during our summer months.  I'm just not that in to summer.  I've also found that I keep making the same two TNT patterns for basic knit tops and decided I need to expand my repertoire.  I went through my pattern stash (not a quick process) and pulled several patterns for simple tops that I have not previously made.  One of these was Vogue 8792, which I picked up a few months back when Vogue released their summer patterns.  I thought the angular seam lines were interesting.  I decided to make a version of view A-B-C.

I also had this piece of rayon/lycra knit from for which I was having difficulty finding an appropriate pattern.  I ordered 1 1/2 yards of the fabric and when it arrived I discovered it was pulled off grain.  Washing the fabric helped straighten out the grain, but resulted in losing several inches on each end because the cut edges were now uneven.  With less fabric than expected, and a lot of body to cover, none of my regular patterns would work.  View A-B-C of this pattern has only two pieces--a front and a back.  Additionally, these pieces are placed on the cross-grain, rather than lengthwise.  This worked perfectly for my limited fabric.

The one fitting issue I anticipated when looking over the pattern was the sleeves.  This top has cut-on cap sleeves.  These type of sleeves often are cut too narrowly to fit around by biceps comfortably and also usually hit just at the widest part of my biceps, which just makes me look even heavier than I am.  A little flat-pattern measuring indicated I would not be happy with the sleeves as drafted.  Now, this pattern does not have a normal shoulder seam.  Rather, the right shoulder of the front wraps around to the back, and the opposite shoulder on the back wraps up and over to the front.  To make my sleeve alteration, I sort of eyeballed where the shoulder line would be, sliced from the sleeve hem to the neckline and spread the pattern to add approximately an inch in width to the sleeve at the hemline narrowing to nothing at the neckline.  I also added about 2 inches in length to the sleeve hem.  Below is a photo of my rather down and dirty alteration.

I then cut my fabric and stitched it up.  This is one of the easiest sews ever.  Two short seams, two longer seams, a neckline finish and a couple of hems.  Here is the result:

I did cut the pattern out one size larger than I would normally choose for a Vogue pattern.  I wanted this to be rather loose-fitting for summer.  When the temperatures get up to around 90F or better (it was 98F when I was driving home from work today), anything close-fitting or at all constricting makes me feel like I'm suffocating.  I need some air flow!  All in all, a quick and easy pattern with fairly good results, but I'm not sure I'm that enamoured of it that I would sew it again.  I wore it to work today with a pair of ivory linen slacks and turquoise strappy flat sandals.  It made a nice summer outfit and was very comfortable.

Finally, I noticed on my last post that Kelley posted a comment in which she requested info on my method for binding necklines on knit tops.  My method is a fairly common one using a stitch-flip-topstitch process which is shown in many sewing books, blogs and probably Youtube videos, but I still thought I would try to take photos of the process when I sew my next top and blog a little mini-tutorial of the method.  Is it worth doing?

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Dipping My Toes in the StyleArc Pool

So, I've spent a lot of time recently observing the fabulous garments being made by others in the internet sewing world using patterns from the Australian company StyleArc.  After reading so many comments and blog posts touting the superior fit and style of these patterns, I decided I must give them a try.  First up on the block was the Adele Top, a basic-looking knit top with an asymmetrical hemline and side slit.  Per the sizing guide on the StyleArc website, I ordered a size 18, based on my bust measurement.  After some flat pattern measuring and comparison to another TNT knit top pattern, I decided not to do any alteration to the bodice front or back so that I could test the general fit and draft of the pattern as designed.  This comparison clearly showed, however, that the sleeve was much too narrow for my hefty arms.  I traced the pattern and did a simple slash and spread alteration to the sleeve to achieve the width through the bicep area that I needed.  A side result of this alteration was that it significantly flattened the sleeve cap, so I added back some height to the cap, double checked the armscye measurement and decided it didn't change the length of the armscye to a degree which couldn't still be easily eased in, especially considering I would be using a knit for this garment.  Here is the sleeve pattern with my alterations.  (It's not really purty, but it gets the job done.)

For my test garment, I selected a black and camel poly ITY knit from that I wasn't so in love with that it would bother me if it turned into a wadder.  I was very pleased with the result.  The fit through the body of the top was near perfect, the shoulders were a good width (I often have to narrow the shoulder line of tops), it didn't look like I needed to do a FBA, and my sleeve alteration seemed to have worked well.  The only issue I had was one that a number of others who have made this pattern observed as well--the top is a little too long.  I thought it would be more flattering if shortened a bit (and this is from someone who loves herself a good tunic top!), so for the second iteration, I folded out about 2-1/4 inches in length between the top of the side slit and the bottom of the armscye.  Here's the test garment:

Oh, just remembered that I also nixed the neckline method set out in the instructions and opted for my standard bound neckline.

Now happy with the fit of the pattern, I selected a lovely rayon/lycra knit I recently acquired from EmmaOneSock for the real deal:

I love it!  I wore this top to work a couple days ago and it completely passed the wearability test.  I may have to try another one with short sleeves for summer.

Today starts the Memorial Day holiday weekend, so I have three days in which I hope to get a lot of sewing done.  Summer supposedly is coming soon (although we have been having a lot of rain, and even snow, during the last week or more) and I always have a difficult time figuring out what to wear during the warmer months.  I just am not a summer person when it comes to clothes.  Give me wool weather any day!  As a result, my summer wardrobe is severely lacking and I need to crank out a few lighter weight basics to get me started.  Hopefully included in there will be a try at another StyleArc pattern.  Most likely the Peta Pants.

Monday, April 30, 2012

And Now Back to Our Regularly Scheduled Programming

Holy Mackerel!  It's amazing how quickly over two months can whiz by in life.  I no sooner started this blog than I have gotten way behind, although the lack of posting is indicative of the lack of personal sewing going on in my life for awhile.  The mojo apparently took a holiday in some tropical locale without letting me know it was leaving.  Things have been very hectic at work for the last several months and, although it didn't really translate into a lot of extra hours at work (well, some days were long!), it meant that most days when I got home in the evening the creative juices had pretty much been sucked dry.  Not much more in me than to plant myself on the couch with the remote.  I also had a special sewing project going on for a gallery show which was up in April--I'll try to talk more about that in another post.  But special projects also can kill the mojo for me because I feel too guilty doing any personal sewing when I know I should be working on "the project."

Finally, however, things seem to be slowing down and my time is my own again.  I can feel the desire to sew coming back to life.  I eased into the process with a relatively quick project--making several pairs of cotton flannel pajama-type pants (or "comfies" as we call them around our house) for myself and My Guy to wear when lounging about the house.  I made us three pair each, which should pretty well re-stock the supply for a good long while.  From the right--bright colored lizards, funky green print and African masks for me, and African masks, cartoon monsters, and black/white skulls on red for MG.  Not terrifically thrilling, but it's something!

Next, I think I will take a stab at several of the StyleArc patterns which I have been accumulating.  I've made a test sample of the Adele Top and am ready to try another version, plus a couple other SA patterns--stay tuned!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Shams' Tablecloth Skirt

A while back, Shams of Communing With Fabric  took up the gauntlet on a challenge to determine the pattern draft for an unusual dress from a picture found on the internet.  She not only figured out the pattern draft, but generously provided her readers with a tutorial for making a skirt (tutorial found HERE).  She dubbed the skirt the "Tablecloth Skirt."  Numerous sewists have since made and shared their versions of this awesome skirt, all of which have been truly lovely renditions.  Shams has created a gallery of those skirts she is aware of having been made (gallery HERE).  I just had to jump on the bandwagon, although it took me awhile to find the fabric that really spoke to me as wanting to be the Tablecloth Skirt.  Finally, I located this linen plaid in black, white and gray on FabricMart and knew it would be perfect.  Luckily, I ordered more than a few yards of the fabric, because I decided to cut the bottom rectangles on the bias, which (of course) ate up a lot of yardage.  But I am very happy with the outcome.

If you haven't tried this skirt, you should.  It's quite fun to put together and I know it will be fun to wear as well!  Thank you Shams for doing the work and so generously sharing it with us all!