Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Loving the Love Notions Sabrina Slims...

Top: New Look 6323

One or two was not enough...more Sabrina Slims!

I admit that sewing has slowed down a bit in the loft. I think it's because I'm really enjoying my 'culled' closet. It has only my very favorite clothes now - and it's so easy to choose something to wear. Who would have known? Less is more?

Well, not always. I really love these Sabrina Slims. As soon as I finished my first pair(s), I ordered a couple fabrics to add some new fun to my spring and summer wardrobe. Of course I wanted white - it's seasonless down here. And I wanted a floral print, because the inspiration pics on the web were so nice when done in a print. Oh, and apparently floral pants on trending this spring. Like I need an excuse...

I used a medium weight (10 oz) cotton spandex knit from Girl Charlee for the white pair. It has 4-way stretch and is perfect for these pants. And as long as I was doing repeats, I made another McCalls 6987 tunic to go with. I don't see much of this tunic on the web, and I imagine it's not terribly popular - the envelope pic is awful. But I really like it. Done in challis, it's weightless and just floats around.

And here's is the floral print! I love it. 

This is also a cotton spandex knit from Girl Charlee - mid-weight at 8.5 oz, with 4-way stretch.

Let's see - what else... Last weekend I put down 100 lbs. of fertilizer in the garden. Not an easy task! But it's that time of year, and I need to fertilize ahead of the heavy summer rains. The palms are putting out flower spathes (pollen everywhere), and the mahogany trees have shed their leaves and are sprouting a beautiful new green canopy. The plants are hungry!

Other than that I've been just monkeying around. A monkey muslin...

Ciao! Coco

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Doll making and this and that...

I got the gang all together for a group pic - yes, I continue to play with my dolls. 

The smallest one (no head yet) is about 5.5" tall, and she's new. And the largest (alas, no arms) is about 20" tall and was in my previous post on doll making. 

Note: The second one from the left is a Tilde-style doll. The web is (maybe unfortunately) full of patterns taken from the Tilde publications. It's such an appealing doll, of course I gave it a go - but the design is absolutely not mine.

You'd think I'd make some clothes to go with! I might- I've made an assortment of bloomers, jumpers, and dresses, but they're all muslins, just cut out and hand sewn. My favorite part is making the doll, not dressing it - which is the real reason I have a bunch of naked ladies :-) 

Here's a solo of JoJo, who's also new and one of my favorite dolls ever. She has a name, unlike the rest of the gang. It's her hair, which is just some orange yarn tacked on the back of her head. When I looked at her with that hair, well, the name seemed to fit. Love her belly button...

All  the doll parts are drawn with a Pilot Frixion Erasable Gel Pen on a double layer of fabric. These pens are wonderful! because the ink disappears with a warm iron. I use them  all the time, and not just for the dolls - they're great for marking notches and darts, or even writing, on any sewing project. I ordered mine from Doll Makers Journey, but I think many art supply stores carry them. Note: I've seen clicker-type Frixion gel pens at Staples, Target, etc., but I honestly don't know how they do on fabric.

These pens are also indispensable for drafting doll faces.

Here's a JoJo, all sewn, trimmed, and ready to be turned and stuffed.  

My main turning tools are various tubes, a 10" hemostat, and a crochet hook (to push out fingertips and tight curves).

The small brass turning tubes are a recent acquisition, also from Doll Makers Journey. They're wonderful for turning little fingers, skinny arms, and ears.

And then there's the stuffing. It's a great, mindless kind of thing to do with a good movie or the news on the telly. My very favorite stuffers are the chopstick and the cocktail skewer. I used my kitchen shears to make depressed circles on both ends of the chopstick, and the end of the skewer is naturally a little scuffed - the stuffing catches on both, making it easier to move along inside a doll part. I've also used a variety of orange wood cuticle pushers...whatever works!

So far, I've been disappointed in the stuffing fork, which I bought specifically for fingers. It's my most expensive tool, and I just don't have much luck with it. I've watched it being used on YouTube videos, and it was impressive, so more practice should help.

If not, I'll put it in the kitchen drawer and use it to spear pickles!


I'm sewing clothes, too, but I'm too happy in my PJ's to do photos today. 

That's either awful or awesome!  Bye for now, Coco

Friday, April 1, 2016

Love Notions Sabrina Slims Pants...

Any second now I'll start doing the twist in my new Sabrina Slims! 

This pattern and the designer, Tamy Meyer, are both new to me, brought to my attention by Deepika at Pattern Review in a recent blog post. I checked out Deepika's Slims and a bunch of versions on the Love Notions site. Great look.

The pants are styled after 1950's cigarette pants, shades of Audrey Hepburn. But I keep thinking of the dance scene in 'Pulp Fiction' - Mia and Vincent doing the twist at Jack Rabbit Slims.

There's a lot to love in this pattern: lots of versions in sizes 0 - 28, easy printing based on size and version, a great instruction booklet, including how-to's for addressing fit issues - and the best waistband I've ever sewn on a slim pant.

These are meant to hit at the ankle, so I used the 28" inseam for my muslin. I think they're a little short on me (although this length might work in solid black).

So I redrafted them with an additional 4" at the hem (basically the 30" inseam + 2 more inches). Much better, this is the look I wanted...

OK, the difference is subtle! I like both pairs. 

Sewing notes:

  • Sewed the size 14, plain vanilla - no pockets or front center seams.
  • Used ponte knit from Girl Charlee. I love this fabric - it's light, washes beautifully, and is so easy to sew.
  • And I made only one change! It's impossible to see on this print, but my first pair are a little close below the knee and the side seam wants to twist forward in that area. On the second pair I added 3/8" to the front outside seam, from the knee down, which made them hang perfectly - fitted above the knee, straight below the knee.

Now, that incredible waistband - it's slightly contoured and finishes at a little over 2" wide (calls for 2" elastic). And I love it.

I like this so much that I'm planning to redo the waistband on my 2 yoga-band maxi skirts. 

And the second trick here is the design of the back rise - it rises. It looks funky on the pattern, but boy, it works. Normally I have to add 1.5" to the back rise on my fitted knit pants. Not here - these fit and my pants stay up.

This morning I'm working on a pair in white cotton/spandex. It's mid-weight at 10 oz. and has 4-way stretch. I like that additional stretch for this pants style - no baggy knees for this girl.

Bye for now! Coco

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Saturday socks...

Saturday morning - my favorite day and favorite time. Even though I'm retired, and my days are pretty unstructured, Saturday still feels special.

I've been straightening up my space on the sofa (the mini loft) and cleaning up my file folders on my PC. They both get out of hand so quickly!

I discovered that I never followed up on my references to my sock adventures. So - I better do it now, before it's so hot outside that no one will believe that I'm knitting socks :-)

I never thought I'd be able to knit a sock - those little sticks double-point needles (DPN's) are pretty intimidating to someone who knits with needle sizes 6,7, and 8 most of the time, on straight or circular needles. And I've always avoided DPN's anyway, except to finish the top of a hat or knit a thumb on a mitten, because I felt like I had 5 thumbs.

I tried three different methods for knitting my socks - magic loop, two circular needles, and DPNs. And I found that I couldn't stand the loops and fussiness of the first two approaches. I also had trouble controlling the 'laddering' that they encourage.

What a surprise to find that the small size DPN's are easy to use! I've been using sizes 2 and 3 in Clover bamboo needles, and I love that the yarn stays in place on these things. I'm in control! my favorite state.  Guess I'm a DPN person after all.

On to  my FO's! Here are two socks, both knitted toe-up with Fleegle heels. Sorry, they don't have mates, so technically they're UFO's.

This is Paton Kroy sock yarn, a mix of wool and nylon. I really like the self-striping yarns, as on the left one, because I feel like I'm making progress when I'm working 6" of plain old stockenette stitch... the sock on the right was pretty boring by comparison.

No point in telling me I could do a pattern to stave off the boredom of the yarn. I just don't enjoy doing it - how can my mind and eyes multi-task if I'm counting stitches and juggling stitch holders.

More socks, and these are my favorites, also in a Paton Kroy yarn:

Toe-up tube socks! No heel and they work up so quickly with the striping. They also fit well. Another plus: I don't need a bunch of measurements to knit a sock for someone else.

Heels and toes - everyone has a preferred method. When I started my sock journey, I taught myself to do both toe-up and top-down socks. And I found everything I needed in online tutorials.  Heels - gusset, short-row, slip-stitched, Fleegle. And toes - the Kitchner stitch for closing a top-down sock and a provisional cast-on for a toe-up sock.

I am a very thorough person, even when it's socks.

I settled on toe-up socks, because I really like the clean look and nice fit of the toe box. I use the provisional cast-on, which is easy-peasy after a little practice.

And I love the fit and appearance of a Fleegle heel - no gaps!

I'll admit that the striped tube socks are the only pair I've finished. I knitted about 10 others, in a variety of yarns and needle sizes, while learning and getting comfortable - but they are all singletons.

Parting shot: I wish I could get one of Ms. Squirrel's two new juvies. She's been bringing them over for water and black sunflower seeds. They're very young and not very coordinated yet, likely between 8 and 10 weeks old - so they leap and hang off the branches of the guava tree like little monkeys or flying bats. She's just tired!

Hoping everyone has a nice weekend - Coco

Monday, March 21, 2016

Managing Mandy the Boat Tee...

Managing Mandy... I ran across some pics of the Tessuti Mandy Boat Tee on Flickr a few days ago and got curious. It's a free download and apparently enjoys some popularity. It also looks very similar to the Grainline Studio Hemlock Tee (also gratis), so I decided to give it a try.

I've only purchased one Tessuti pattern, the Gabby dress, expensive at $10 for the PDF version, and I was surprised by the hand-drawn pattern and poor drafting. I basically redrafted the whole thing and decided not to buy any more of their patterns.

But the Mandy is free - no pain no gain. A look at the line art:

I'm not picking on them, but it's invited. The pattern says the bust width is 58" (148 cm) - after flat measuring 3 times, I come up with 52" at the bustline, drawn through a bust apex at 10.5" down from the shoulder. At the armhole the width is 54". Now, that's a big difference.

My first version was a wipe-out. The boatneck was uncomfortably high, the back and front side edges didn't align well, and I could barely get the sleeve on my arms. But that's the purpose of a muslin.

A couple more pics of my remake of the Mandy, then on to sewing notes:

Fabric - poly/cotton/lycra from Fabric Mart

Aaack - what a smug look! not intended...

Sewing notes - This is a one-size-fits-all pattern, so I did a little fitting before I drafted my pattern:
  •  Decreased the bustline width to 46":
  1. Removed 1" at CB and CF (1/2" at the fold line).
  2. Removed an additional 4" (1" each side of CF and CB, midway down the shoulder).
  •   Added 6" to the body length, back and front, using the lengthen/shorten line on the pattern.
  •  Tweaked the sleeve:
  1. Removed 2" from the length of the sleeve. 
  2. Added 1/4" to each sleeve side seam. The resulting bicep width is 13".
  3. On the body, lowered the armscye by 1/4" to fit the new sleeve.

For my second/current version, I redrew the neckline using the scoop neck on the Hemlock tee. Much more comfortable.

I'm super happy with my Mandy!

Right after taking these pics, I wore this outfit to an appointment, styled with a favorite Ora Delphine hobo bag - I'm so prissy...

Bye for now! Coco

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Grainline Studio Driftless Cardigan - new pattern!


 I love trying a new pattern from Grainline Studio. Jen is simply one of my favorite designers - her drafting is so professional, and her designs are trendy and fresh. Lots to like...

She released the Driftless Cardigan just a few days ago. I got it within 5 minutes of the announcement hitting my email inbox. Check this out!

From the pattern description:
"The Driftless Cardigan drapes beautifully and has a casual, yet polished appearance. It’s the perfect cardigan for cooler temperatures throughout the year...This pattern features pockets and drop shoulders. View A is straight across the bottom, while View B has a split hem and is longer in the back.

Techniques involved include sewing with knits, straight seams, attaching binding, thread chains, inserting buttons and buttonholes."
I decided to go with View B - buttons on sweaters don't interest me, and I was intrigued by that back hem band. How fun is this!

The pattern has 10 pieces for either view. That's a lot of pieces for a cardigan sweater - but they make for such nice details. Here's a look at the inside front - those great pocket bags (I had to lighten the pic a lot, purple is almost a bad as black for showing details):

And here's the nifty back - the two main pieces echo the front piecing, which I think adds a lot of interest to what would otherwise be a sea of fabric:

This pattern is rated at Advanced Beginner level, so I sort of thought about that as I was making the cardigan. I think it's valid - the most challenging construction is probably attachment of the neckline and hem bands. Not because it's hard, but because it needs to be done carefully so that the band width is uniform and the finishing is nice. 
The pockets might look complicated, but they're actually very easy to sew. I have to credit the pattern drafting on this point - everything fits so well, and it's very gratifying to see the pockets come out so well, particularly in a knit.

As one might expect, the instruction booklet is very well written and illustrated. So the 'hard' parts have lots of guidance for anyone trying some new sewing skills. 

A few sewing notes - well, a lot, but I hope they're helpful:
  • As noted, I sewed View B, and cut the size 10. Love the fit!
  • Being brave, and because this was intended to be a muslin, I used a poly/lycra sweater knit from Fabric Mart by way of France. It's closely knit and has a very small horizontal rib - which meant I had to be super careful in laying out and cutting the pattern so those ribs wouldn't wander around. Aaacck.
  • My cutting regret: I failed to note that the pattern comes with 1/4" seam allowance. I prefer to sew knits with 1/2" allowances, and I usually draft my tissue with the added width. Next time... And here's a tip - it's very dangerous to cut notches into 1/4" allowances! I marked all of them with a small gold safety pin instead. Worked great.
  • This sweater knit is kind of squishy and thick, so I spent a good bit of time finding the best settings for my machines (the seams are sewn first with a lightning stitch, and the seam allowances are serged together). I had to release the foot pressure on my sewing machine, something I haven't had to do before - but what a difference it made. And I didn't use my walking foot. Another surprise, but it sewed better with a regular foot.
  •  Because of the weight and ample stretch in my fabric, I staystitched the neckline and front edges about 1/2" in from the edge, and removed the staystitching once the bands were in place. 
  • IMHO, the sleeve is very narrow - I don't think I would be comfortable with a shirt sleeve under it. And the cuff is fitted as well - mine is only 7.5" around. Redrafting would be easy - just add width to each side of the bottom edge and redraw the side seams. The cuff would also need a little more width. E.g., if an inch is added to the bottom width, one might increase the width of the cuff by 1/2" - 3/4" to accomodate it.

  • Finishing the front band: I serged the inside edge, and secured it by stitching in the ditch on the outside, along the band/front seam. That open-toe foot is great for stitch-in-the-ditch because you can see where you're going.

  •  I didn't use thread chains to secure the pocket bags - I just didn't need them. If you want to try them, Jen has a tutorial on her blog site for making them.
  • Last note - I lengthened the front and back by 1", as I'm a little taller than the fit models for most patterns.

I really like this pattern - it would be great in a mid-weight jersey or light sweatshirt fabric as well.

Parting shot: I just realized this morning that March is National Craft Month, which excuses the mess on my sofa...there's barely room enough for me :-)

Bye for now - Coco