Thursday, July 30, 2015

New Look 6378 - A Kimono shrug-gy top!

I've been busy this month! I think it's all this new energy I have since the doc put me on massive vitamin D supplements a couple weeks ago. Wowser. And I'm more relaxed as well. Even the lack of wind this morning didn't bother me. I really wanted to do this photo shoot in the wind, so I could look all flowy and wafty. However - barefoot is as close as I got. I'll take it...

There are so many loose, almost-a-shrug, kimono tops showing up in bloggerland this summer, and on style/fashion sites as well. OK, I had to make one. Of course I had to look at every pattern and finished garment I could find before I settled on the one I wanted to try first. I think that's part of the fun.

My thanks to everyone who's sewn one - I enjoyed your pics! I narrowed down my choices to six patterns...

In all honesty, they all started looking the same after a while. But I decided I wanted (1) an attached sleeve, which facilitates adjustments to the fit, (2) variations in the front hemline, curved, straight, and so on, and (2) some length options - I get tired of adding length to everything I make.

I love this pattern from New Look. I'm a big fan of their patterns in general. They come up with really on-trend designs, while keeping their basics and classics available. And their patterns are well-drafted, the instructions are excellent, and they're affordable. I generally order mine online from Pattern Review, Sewing Patterns or Simplicity.

I sewed View C, the mid-length style with a curved front edge, in size Medium. 

And I made zero changes to the pattern! In fact, I cut it straight from the tissue last night and sewed it this morning in just 2 hours. That's an absolute record for me. I was done by 8:30 and looking around for something else to do. I found something, but more on that later.

Actually, I'm pretty proud of myself. This fabric is polyester chiffon, purchased over 2 years ago at Walmart for a whopping $1/yard. I bought 6 yards but had no idea what I'd do with it. And it sat. Chiffon can be scary stuff - it looked just fine down there at the bottom of one of my fabric bins. But this pattern practically yells 'chiffon'. Out it came.

A few sewing notes:

Chiffon ravels if you simply look at it, but I decided not to use french seams. Instead, I finished all the edges on the serger with a very narrow rolled hem.

A sleeve ready to be attached

The serging - cutter and rolled edge - took up about 3/8" of the seam allowance. This worked great - I simply put the side of my foot against the edge, moved my needle all the way to the right, and sewed scant 1/4" seam allowances. Banking the presser foot against the edge really helped me keep things going in a straight line.

I also added a couple things to address the inherent flimsiness of the fabric:

  • I flat-felled the shoulder seams, which adds some weight at the seam and keeps it up on my shoulder, 
  • And I added a line of stay-stitching around the back neckline, to give it a little extra strength and guard against stretching in this area. 

From the left - front neckline, shoulder seam, and back neckline

I adore my Juki F600. It never skipped a beat and sewed the chiffon like it was built to sew chiffon. I used a walking foot and a size 70 needle, and I had no problems at all. No, I won't sew silk chiffon or charmeuse! in fact, I don't like to sew gauze. But I'll do this again.

And here's the top hanging from the light fixture in the foyer :-) so you can see the lines of the pattern.

A keeper. 

Now, that other thing I found to occupy my time: I upgraded my laptop to Windows 10. It took a little over 3 hours, during which I had visions of the thing crashing and never coming back...

Watched I am Legend  
Rolled a skein of yarn

It's done, I tweaked it a bit, and I really like it. It's not as elegant or as fast as my iMac, but it's definitely a big improvement for Windows.

Bye for now! Coco

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Pattern Emporium Harem Pants...rockin' the casbah

I'm a busy blogger this week. But I like these pants so much that I wanted to write them up as soon as I could. They are a blast to sew and wear!

Pattern Emporium is very clever with this design. So many options. Travelling the tree, I made the baggy fit in ITY knit, with a plain elastic waistband, the relaxed pocket, and the lounge pant hem. To achieve the fit I wanted - baggy v.s. slim - I used the size 16, one above my usual size. 

This pattern is thoughtful as well as clever: 
  • It has 2 hemline cutting lines, one for 5'5",  and one about 3" longer for taller gals. I so appreciate this, because at 5'7" I'm forever adding to the length on things. 
  • A vertical line is provided, waist to hem, for cutting and spreading the front and/or back, for more overall width and ease. I used it to add 1" to each piece, and then took the 1" away from the upper side seam - 1" at the top edge and cured down about 8". This was to reduce bulk in the waistband. 
  • And it has the ultimate pocket. It's all one piece, lining and facing. It really makes the pocket fast and easy, particularly for a slippery knit fabric. 

That's all my sewing notes! Precedent setting. This pattern really delivers. I've made two other similar pants, Vogue 8909 Cuffed Knit Pants and the True Bias Hudson pants. The Harem Pants are absolutely my favorites.

I'm wearing these with one of my four Butterick 5954 knit tops. Yes, four now. White, marigold, avocado green, and red. Love in many colors.

Given my tendency to make multiples of things I really enjoy, of course there's another pair of pants, again in ITY knit.

So freaking cute! I wore this pair to Cleveland Clinic yesterday, and even Mr. Doctor told me how stylish they are. Make these pants!

On another front, playtime continues. With a deep bow at the waist to Martha, at Now Sewing. Her post, about using Derwent Inktense Pencils on fabric, got me going. After my visit to the clinic, I was in bed at 7 p.m. and up again at 2 a.m. What better time than the dark middle hours for an experiment...

 Lab equipment: the pencils, a black Micron pen, paper, cotton broadcloth (pre-laundered), and aloe vera gel. Also clean water and paper towels.

There's lots of info online about applying permanent inks to fabric. How to do it, preserve it, and wash it.

Fingers crossed that 24 hours from now, I have a good outcome.

The top of this image is my trial, dark and light color. The pink smudges are my impatient reuse of the gel without cleaning my brush. Good news - the gel really did keep the color from bleeding. And the Micron pen worked really well for the doodling.

The bottom image just shows how much the ink went through the fabric to the paper underneath. I was curious about how much destruction I might do to my bottom surface.

Wishing all a nice weekend - Coco

Thursday, July 23, 2015

S1804 - another version, I'm getting hooked...

It's still July - one more maxi for the 2015 Maxi Dress sew-along. It's been a fun and very laid-back kind of sew-along. Just my style, and I've enjoyed the Facebook group tremendously. Lots of new friends. Some of them blog, and some don't. It was great. Many thanks to That's Sew Amy and Sewn by Ashley for hosting the event and getting us together on FB. And on social media, #maxisewalong.

Speaking of one's style, I made the Simplicity 1804 maxi dress earlier this year, when I was trying out patterns for my Mother of the Bride dress.. I was not at all convinced that I even liked my version. The print on the fabric just didn't feel like me. Of course, I had ordered 6 yards of it, so I was a little disappointed.

But the pattern is definitely up my alley. Not the strapless version (although it's very pretty), but the others.

So what happened? I've been wearing this all the time, grabbing it when I need to go out and about, and don't want the bother of a top and bottom. I even like the print now. The fit is fabulous - slightly shaped in the torso, nice gathers under the bust and across the back. It was time for another version, this one in coral and black tribal print cotton jersey from Fabric Mart.

Yes, it is just as bright in person as it appears here - this is definitely orange, not coral, and I love it. Orange, orange, orange...I'm a sucka' for orange fabric.

As with the first dress, I sewed View B, and trimmed the Medieval point off the sleeve. I really like the resulting, slightly belled, effect.

When I'm not posing, the inside of the sleeve doesn't peek out...

A few more sewing notes, pretty much the same as for my first version. Since all these changes are already in my working pattern, this was a fast sew - I almost whipped it up!

  • Added 1 7/8" to bodice length.
  • Raised front neckline 2 3/8".
  • Lowered back neckline 1/2".
  • Applied 1/4" twill tape to the first 4 inches of the shoulder seams, for stabilization.
  • Did not add elastic to the waistline seam.
  • Used tricot knit interfacing in the facings.
  • And finished the edge of facings with 3-thread serging.

Fuzzy photo. I guess the camera sneezed.

Other things...I've been knitting again, now that the neuropathy in my hands has receded (thank you, B12 and D25). Knitting is one of my favorite ways to watch TV, since I don't actually look at the TV - I just listen to it. News, good movies, and programs on NatGeo, Animal Planet, and the Discovery Channel (plus The Big Bang Theory) are my favorites. And I caught up on a few more seasons of The Wire on HBO, while kitty-sitting earlier this month. Darrin and Ashley have great TV - like, all of it! The Wire reminds me of reading Bonfire of the Vanities, by Tom Wolfe. Captivating.

The knitting in progress is the Quick Sand Cardigan by Heidi Kirrmaier, available on Ravelry. It's a top-down/no-seam sweater, which I love. I used to knit pieced patterns, but no more. I've collected circular needles in all kinds of sizes and lengths, and I just knit away.

This is a wonderful pattern, with just enough changes and counting to be interesting but not too demanding.

Here's something 'old' and very appealing. I'm using my Mom's row counter - it has a very narrow, spring-loaded measuring tape in between the counters. What ingenuity.

Coming soon - the Pattern Emporium Harem pants. Great pattern.

Ciao! Coco

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Jalie Eleonore Pants...hem, haw, commit, wad

I must be feeling very brave this morning, because I know a lot of sewists are going to disagree with me on some of this post. But that's OK, because others will thank me :-) I don't often write about a wadder, but I spent a lot of time on this pattern, and I followed through to the end. The Jalie Eleonore Pant is everywhere right now. Here's my experience...

I chose to purchase the PDF download version, mostly because I'm too impatient to wait for a delivery! And shipping costs would make this a pricey purchase. The download was 11.99 USD.

It's a dream to tape together. The pieces can be separated, as I've done, which makes measuring and drafting very easy.

Sizing is more challenging. The pattern has 27 sizes...girls and women's. Which is a great concept, bang for the buck and so on. But I had to put on my readers and spend some time with the chart and my measuring tape. I did find my size, the women's 10/40, on which the measurements are almost exactly mine.

A tip for wading through the spaghetti of 27 sizes...

The PDF comes with two files, one in color and one in black/white. I used the latter and highlighted my size on each paper pattern to help me with drafting my tissue. A bit of work.

Next, the fabric choice and cut-out. Jalie is very clear about the stretch and fabric weight for these pants. I had a 3 yard piece of stretch cotton twill that was perfect. Particularly as I'm not attached to the fabric, and I was embarking on a muslin of fitted pants. I've sewn lots of pants, but have studiously avoided anything approaching jeans. Gives me the jitters...I love my RTW jeans, most of which are bootcut, and all of which are great to wear. Lee and Levi women's jeans are my favorites.

And the cutting layout. Lucky me, my fabric is 59" wide, and the pattern really did fit on the promised 1.5 yards. And with all the pieces placed in the same direction, top to bottom. I would need another yard for more narrow fabric, unless I turned one of the pants pieces in the other direction. I don't like to do that because nap and weave can have subtle differences.

These pants are fun to sew - the back yoke and pockets, and the front faux pocket  and fly, are all beautifully drafted and fit together so nicely.

Construction tips: You can get out the hammer to flatten the yoke seam when joining the backs. I use a breadboard and meat tenderizer, both of which I view as sewing tools and keep in the loft. They work great for hammering snaps as well! Be sure to put a cloth over the seam before wielding the hammer...

I also find topstitching, as here or for any faux felled seam, to be very consistent if I use two pressure feet - 3/8" for the outside edge, and 1/4" for the second/inside row.

Almost done. I knew going in that the crotch length and rise might be a problem for me. I generally sew a 27" - 29" crotch length, depending on the design of the pants. These are supposed to come about 3" below the natural waist, and mine did measure out at 24.5". But they simply looked and felt awful on me.

Because I was committed to sewing this muslin all the way to the end, I removed the original waistband and attached one with 1" wide elastic. Looks funky but it gave me enough rise to at least pull up the pants. By the way, the waistband fits perfectly to the pants. Nice.

Final fitting...the legs were like sausage casings. In fact, they made me feel like a sausage. Apparently I have large calves and thighs. Sigh.

And the wad part. Yes, the pattern is in there as well, but I'll probably pull it out later. I really like the drafting on the yoke and pocket design elements. And I still have the paper version - I can always draft another of the 27 sizes.

Notice how big my bin is...lots of room for wadders.

So what do I think of the pattern? Well, it probably won't make pear-shapes happy, and I would say it's iffy in the larger sizes. There are just so many choices now for more flattering designs.

Parting shot: it's not a good idea to serge a curved edge with the cutter engaged. I had to cut out a new pants leg after this little boo boo.

So - I'm going to put on my Lee Riders and my Hard Rock Cafe denim shirt and head out to other projects!

Bye for now, Coco

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Coloring's playtime!

OK - adult coloring books, the latest craze. I'm in. I love coloring books and admit to a collection of doodle art and mandala art coloring books. And I can hardly pass up a new collection of felt tip pens or colored pencils in a store. I also pick up crayon boxes just to smell them, remember how they smell? I think the best is the box of 64 colors. Some of us just never grew up when it comes to playtime.

Coloring is so relaxing, the same way knitting is. One just sits and does it and the mind wanders.

This morning I happened across a post on Facebook referencing coloring books from McCall Company's blogsite. How did I miss this for so long? I quickly found and printed four, which I think is all that they've published so far. I included links on each of the pics below.

Butterick Summer 2015

Vogue Fall 2015

Each PDF 'book' has 8 - 10 patterns, basically large-scale line art, from what McCalls' considers the most talked-about patterns in a collection.

McCalls Summer 2015 

Vogue Summer 2015
They're really nice! and they include a lot of patterns I've sewn or seen on other blogs. And some I might sew, particularly with all this inspiration. Meanwhile, I can color, and I hope they do more.

All of the above was totally unsolicited...

On the sewing front, I'm waiting for a new pattern to arrive. Something different - a sunhat. I haven't done a hat in a couple years, but I have lots of cotton scraps that would be perfect for one. And I have craft-weight interfacing in the loft. I'm thinking about combining the pattern with Vicki Welsh's free sun visor pattern.

Kwik Sew 4107
Vicki's Sun Visor

And hope to end up with something like the sunhats I wear all the time, the ones from CVS Pharmacy. They haven't had any this spring or summer. I was bummed, but now I have a plan :-)

 Ciao! Coco