Wednesday, February 3, 2016

New Look 6483 simple shell in turquoise gingham


Thank you for all your sweet words about my sweater sewn from a blanket!!  It is a really great sweater to wear and I want to make more in varying lengths and neckline styles.

I have wanted a turquoise gingham shirt for several years now.  I started a simple shell last summer, but then I wanted to make a bag for a friend's birthday, and I never got back to it. I rarely have UFOs, but there it was, hanging in my sewing room for 6 months. Why not finish it over Christmas break when it's seasonally inappropriate?

The fabric is 100% cotton from Mood, with 1/4" checks, and while it looked like yardage on the roll, it was actually panels that ended with this detail which I didn't use.
Finished front.NL 6483 view C was my starting point.  I traced the 12 at the shoulders/neckline and a 14 everywhere else, and actually muslined first.  I wound up doing a minimal SA at the shoulder, and 1.25 SA on the sides.  After reading popo's review of NL 6483 where she cut a yoke onto the upper back (to highlight lace) I knew I wanted to highlight the bias of the gingham in the same manner, so I also cut a bias yoke.  I also eliminated the CB seam so that the gingham would be in one continuous piece under the yoke.
Finished back.

It was up to the point where the shell was sewn together, but needed bindings and a hem.

First I took the time to match the gingham under the dart.

Then  I got out the Clover bias maker.  While I have made my own piping before, I have never made my double fold bias tape til now.   Like making your own piping, it's pretty easy to make your own bias binding.   Cut the strips on the bias, push it through the little plastic thingie, pull it out and iron it to make single fold bias tape. Then fold in half and press again to make double fold bias tape.  When cutting the strips, I made sure the turquoise X's were straight down the middle to try to get some consistenecy of placement among all strips.  Also, I don't do continuous bias, I just cut separate bias strips a little longer than the length I need, three strips in total: one for the neckline and two for each armhole.

Orignally I was just going to sew single fold bias tape on the inside of the armhole and neckline, but my bias binder is quite large, and so the idea of double fold was born.  I was afraid that bias binding on the bias yoke might be too much bias, but I was reassured on Instagram that it's not and forged ahead.
I used the flange of my blind hem foot as a guide for sewing on the binding at a consistent width.
Everything's bound!

Time for buttons and button loops!

When I sewed the button on at the top, the whole yoke collapsed in an unattractive manner, so I wound up sewing 5 buttons on.  The buttons were purchased at the ASE in the Soutache booth.  I think they are dyed shell buttons.  The button loops are elastic cord.   This means I don't have to actually unbutton it to get it over my head--the loops just stretch and the neckline is pretty wide to begin with.

I hemmed it with a generous hem to give it a  somewhat cropped look.  It looks nice but mainly it was to insure that I had enough length. If the shell was too short, I could always undo the hem, press it and sew it with a smaller hem to make it longer.
I wore it to work on Friday with a gray bodysuit underneath, a gray Vogue 1247 skirt I sewed almost 5 years ago, gray sweater tights and my black winter boots.  I got tons of compliments on it!  I will say that it does not really fit all that well, I think I needed to leave more of a SA in the bust and potentially cut the 14 at the shoulders/neckline to give more length from shoulder to bust (an area that I'm actually short in, so usually my one-size-smaller in the neckline/armholes plan works).  Somehow the bust dart is too high.   I don't know why I didn't notice that at the muslin stage.  Maybe I need to try my muslin on again.
Side view, hands in front pockets.
Even with the fit issues, I think it will get a lot of wear, because it's such a happy piece.

Be well!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

So, I Sewed a Sweater from a Blanket

The squirrel on the fence likes my new sweater too!

This sweater was born from the following things:
  1. I love cotton sweater knits
  2. I am slightly allergic to wool, so I can't wear a wool sweater
  3. It is hard to find RTW sweaters that fit me the way that I want them to fit me. Usually they are way too long and pool on my swayback.  Really, I want cute little sweaters.  Sometimes I can find them in the Juniors section of Marshall's (yes, in that pink "The Cube" section) but I hadn't found any this winter.
  4. I don't knit.

In May, I met Olgalyn Jolly from O! Jolly! , the same week I noticed her advertising on PR.  She writes a blog about how to sew with sweater knits, and she designs sweater knits for her shop.  Her cotton is grown in the US and knit by machine in NYC.   I don't think I've ever met a fabric designer before.  How cool is that?!.  I was immediately intrigued, but it was summer.  

Fast forward to the holidays, and I purused her site looking at her sweater knits for sale by the half yard, but she also has what she calls "reclaimed" sweater knit panels, specifically blankets that are an overrun from the factory where her own knits are made.  They are finished on three sides, but the 4th side is unfinished.  The panel was $34, more than a yard long.   I bought it as my trial run, and also bought swatches of her other cotton sweater knits.    Her other cotton sweater knits are $14-$28 per half yard, so I wanted to try my experiment out on this less expensive option.  (I would have bought a swatch of the sweater blanket first, but there are no swatches available for it. Generally I have been swatching before buying fabric online; the result of too many "totally not what I thought" online purchases.)

For the pattern I chose Simplicity 1983, the Mimi G pattern that I sewed the pants and shirt from last year.  This time I cut the shirt in a size 12 for a snugger fit, also knowing that the sweater knit had a nice amount of stretch.  I traced the pattern so I would have the full front and back so that I could center the pattern over the larger cable.    I added 3" to my traced pattern but then decided to add another 1" (the finished part of the blanket) for 4" of length total.

On Instagram I asked about placing the cables vertically or horizontally.
 Most folks said horizontally, but when I held the fabric up against my body, it just didn't look right, so vertical it was.

It was a bit weird to take my scissors to a blanket--it really is a nice, substantial, snuggly blanket even if it's not finished on one edge--but I forged ahead and did it.

It was a straightforward sew.  I basted first to check for fit, then unbasted the side seams to sew the sleeves in flat, then basted down the arm and down the sides.   I wound up cutting a half inch off the entire armhole, then basted again.  I serged at each appropriate step.  In the future I might be tempted to serge before sewing the pieces together because it looked like it had snowed on my sewing room carpet.  Maybe that's an exaggeration, but little cotton bits were everywhere--very much like working with corduroy.  The rug in my sewing room is burgundy, so they really stood out.

I was able to cut the front and back so the bottom of the shirt would be along the finished edge, but the sleeves had to be cut to end on the unfinished edge.  I wound up cutting them too long, after thinking that I had cut them the right length, which was probably partially due to my error and probably partially due to the fabric stretching under the weight of the sleeves.  

Anyway, that particular unfinished edge started unraveling in the dryer before cutting, creating a fun decorative-to-me looking edge, especially once I turned it up like a cuff.  I took to IG once again and was able to ask Olgalyn directly about what to do.  I thought the unfinished edge looked super cute, but I don't knit.  To a knitter, does this edge look unfinished?    She answered right away, which I was totally immensely grateful for, and said I could machine zig zag that edge to keep it from unraveling further.  Others chimed in on IG begging me to keep this design detail while others warned it would unravel further.  I have zig zagged the edge to prevent that from happening.

For the neckline, I basically cut the "selvedge" edge from the rest of the blanket and serged the raw edge.

Then I folded that over the raw neckline edge, sort of like an oversized double fold bias tape.  I zigzagged,  by machine, the back of the binding to the inside of the sweater, but then I handstitched the front of the binding onto the front.  I have been doing a lot of small handstitching lately (the sashiko, the whimsy kits, the Mollie Makes kits) and so this just felt like an extension of that instead of something annoying and tedious, which is probably how I would have felt even just one year ago.


In the end, I really love this combination of pattern with fabric.    The cotton hugs me, there is no swayback pooling, there are NO drag lines anywhere (wow!) and it feels really warm and snuggly.  I wore it on Saturday and again to work on Monday with a tank underneath.  It could probably just a tad longer as the tank does peek out from time to time, but if i wear it with a skirt that hits at the waist, I think the length would be fine.

This little experiment has made me think about buying some of the O! Jolly!  sweater knits that she created, and also about looking at thrift stores for buying big cotton sweaters and then cutting the MimiG shirt pieces out of them.    I'm also thinking about a little frankenpatterning--cutting the Renfrew neckline onto the MimiG pattern and using that giant Renfrew collar.  I think that would be adorable!  I'm also thinking about shorter sweater options, the kind where the tank underneath intentionally is seen.

So, that is how I sewed a sweater from a blanket!  Are you tempted to make one now?

Be well!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

McCall's 6992 I wear my heart on my (sweatshirt) sleeve


Happy New Year!!!   Thanks for your comments on my year-end recap!

I had 11 glorious days in a row off for the holidays.  Most of the time I was either binge sewing or binge purging the house.  I was hoping after returning to work that I could keep up the machine sewing at night, but I really can't.  It's just not feasible for me, but I enjoyed every minute of binge sewing while it lasted!  (I mainly machine sew on weekends, though I can do some handstitching during the week.)

Let's talk about the sweatshirt, shall we???
McCalls 6992

The pattern is McCall's 6992.   I cut the size 14, except at the neckline which was a 12 (but read more about the neckline below, I wound up cutting it differently later).

The navy contrast sleeves are Joann sweatshirt fabric from my stash.  The big shocker was that the Joann's fabric looks like sweatshirt fabric and feels like sweatshirt fabric, but has no stretch.  Surprise!  UGH!    So for the neckband I had to use some stretchy ribbed knit from stash.
 The anchor fabric is Juicy Couture sweatshirt fabric from the defunct Lucy's Fabrics (miss that site totally and completely.  I discovered Lucy's just before they changed their focus to rhinestones, and they stocked loads of wonderful knits that I loved.  Sniff.  When they sold off their knits, I bought the rest of the Juicy fabric.  I had made full-on pjs from this fabric years ago.).
I pretty much trace all my patterns so that I can cut them single layer. On this pattern, I wanted the CF to be centered over the anchors.
Stretch twin needle action for the hem.  Also you get a nice closeup of the anchors.
I twin needle stitched the hem of the sleeves, too.  I did not add the cuffs so the sleeve is a little bit short.  Next time I'll just add an inch to the sleeve pattern.
Like many reviews on PR mentioned, the neckline of this sweatshirt is kind of high. I cut off 1.5" all the way around, but if I make this sweatshirt again, I'll just lower it in the CF and CB, not all the way around.  Now the neckline is a bit too wide.
 I used rib knit from stash for the binding.
There is a new dress shop in Princeton that has dresses with heart patches on the elbows. Later I heard from ATP that this is a trend that's all over Pinterest?  I didn't know! But I thought it would be cute to sew on some heart elbow patches to match the hearts next to the anchors.   I did not think of it til after the sweatshirt was sewn, though, so I cut them out of felt and then stitched them on by hand.
So then it looked like that.  The hearts are from red felt, so I have no idea what they are going to look like after being washed.
The pattern has a neat shoulder dart, though I had to mark it in red so I knew where it was for tracing!!  All those lines were confusing for my vacation brain!
Completed front
McCalls 6992
The right elbow heart.
Completed Back.  I think it would also be cute with one heart on one elbow and an anchor over the other elbow.

Overall I enjoyed working with this pattern, and the fact that it is a sweatshirt meant there wasn't much to do in the way of fit!  And everything was already in my stash! Perfect!

Be well!!!

Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 Sewing Year-in-Review Recap

Do you know what these are?

It's that time of year again for personal performance reviews:  The Sewing Blogger Year-End Recap,
2015 edition.  So, self, how did I do????

Machine Sewing

In 2015 I made:
  • 9 shrugs (1 not blogged, but on IG)
  • 5 bags (1 not blogged)
  • 4.5 tops (the half is a UFO)
  • 4 dresses
  • 4 tanks for the gym
  • 2 skorts for the gym
  • 2 skirts 
  • 2 pants
  • 2 zipper pouches (1 not blogged, but you've seen it before)
  • 2 pillow covers
  • 1 costume
  • 1 sweatshirt (not yet blogged, but on IG)
  • 1/2 of a sweatshirt dress (not finished yet, but on IG)
Grand total:  39 items.  Out of the above, 4 were gifts (two zipper pouches and 2 tote bags) and if you know me, you know I don't usually sew for others!

Machine Sewn Favorites
Hands-down, my favorite item from this year is my Butterick 6072 backpack.  It is definitely the best item I have ever sewn....which leads to my favorite comment, from a non-sewing friend, upon seeing the backpack, "Are you sure you didn't buy this?"
I *love* the shrugs.   Since I make a lot of sleeveless dresses, they are the perfect complement when I just need some sleeves and don't want to cover up the dress.

Here's my collection of them so far (9 of them sewn; just 1--the white one--is a dud; see lesson below)
I also loved the costume I made for my birthday
And I loved this tank for the gym:
S9776 tank + Jalie 3025 skirt + Jalie 2796 shorts

My favorite dress, even though I cut out a size too small in the bust, is the Lady Skater. I really want to make this dress again soon!

And I love the Mimi G 1283 pants.
Simplicity 1283 View C Mimi G pants in black ponte

These MimiG pants, yes, same pattern as above, but a miss because of poor fabric choice.  The fabric is gray, sparkly, beefy and appeared stable, and start out looking great, but it grows throughout the day, UGH.  After washing, it shrinks back up and then grows once more.  UGH UGH.
Gray Simplicity 1283 view C Mimi G pants in Gray
The fabric for this dress.  The pattern is fine, but somehow the dress really highlights my bra, even if my bra is black, even if I wear a full black slip underneath.  After taking your comments into consideration, I have a plan to save this dress.
Also, two of the gym tanks (that I made for the PR activewear contest in February) weren't so great.  Overall, not too many misses this year.

Hand Sewing and Sashiko Stitching
I really got into hand sewing and sashiko stitching this year, for reasons I outlined in this post.

I started getting into sashiko at the end of last year.  13 kits completed (one not pictured as I have given away) and 1 sashikoed zipper pouch (I think only one of these below--the blue with hot pink dragonflies--was actually completed last year; the rest are from this year).

The blue kits are much more striking in pictures
But in person, the white kits are pretty too!
Mollie Makes
I saw the constellation kit on twitter this summer and never looked back.  I bought a big lot of 33 Mollie Makes mags on eBay and have been enjoying leisurely reading through them and making some of the kits.
3 Mollie Makes kits completed

Heidi Boyd handstitching kits
I saw my first Heidi Boyd kit in August and have not looked back.
4 hoop kits and 1 and a third softie kits complete.  (Still have one more squirrel and the acorn they live in to go for the Scampering Squirrels kit!!)

New Machine
Dad bought me the Baby Lock Soprano at the ASE in September.  Thanks Dad!  I'm still getting used to it because it has so many buttons, but I love love love the sheer power it has and also love the sewing bed extension table.  It easily sews through thick junctures, no problem.

action drama....
There were a lot of sewing-related meeting up this year!

  • PR Weekend in LA in April
  • Tomasa from Sew Much Fashion visited me in May
  • ATP in NYC in July and in Austin in Nov
  • Lynn of You Sew Girl visited  my home in early August
  • Anne of Sewing to Soothe My Soul also visited my home in early August
  • MPB Day in August
  • American Sewing Expo in Sept, featuring a raid of Lynn's closet.
  • Velosewer in NYC in Oct
  • Leslie of The Seasoned Homemaker in Austin in Nov

I joined Pinterest last year and never got hooked into it.  I just don't use it.  However, I joined IG at the end of August and I am totally addicted!!!   I have met more new-to-me sewists on IG in the last 4 months on IG than in 5 years on Twitter, thanks in part to participating in #bpsewvember and #sewphotohop.

Follow me on Instagram at VacuumingTheLawn.

My old camera is barely clinging to life support, so I've been using my phone almost exclusively for taking pictures.  When I used my camera, I was diligent about labeling the pictures and putting them into albums (such as Sewing 2015) as I uploaded them, via an old-fashioned cable, to Flickr.  However, now that I use my phone, the phone auto uploads them to Flickr for me, and I have abandoned labeling them and putting them in albums.  This makes it easy for me in the moment, but more difficult for me to find later.

Lessons Learned
I feel like the Elna Press is my miracle worker, and corrects many of my wonky seams, but I really overdid it using it on *certain* sweater knits (like the white failed shrug).  Not every sweater knit likes the EP.   Always make a sample that is large enough to be half pressed and half unpressed, so it is easy and clear to see exactly what the press is doing to the fabric!!

Also, the fabric has to be right for the pattern and vice versa.  That lesson never gets old.  ;)

Goal Review from 2015 / Accomplishments
Last year I stated my goals for 2015 were to make a denim jacket (still hasn't happened, but I think it will happen by spring) and to get real about fit (I am tracing all my patterns onto Swedish tracing paper first and doing some basting/fitting that way, which helps.  My Lady Skater is actually a wearable muslin!)
I had not stated it as a goal, but I feel like I finally know how to finish armhole and neckline bindings on knits properly, and have a method that is working well for me.  I feel proud of the interior finishes of my dresses now.  It took about 5 years from the time I decided I wanted to get the insides to look as good as the outsides to accomplish that goal.

Goals for 2016
Honestly, the number 1 goal, in my sewing and my life, is to have more fun and rest more.  I don't know exactly how I'm going to accomplish that, but, I need both.

Also I'm kind of surprised I didn't make any underwear this year.  I definitely need to get back into that.  Speaking of which, I would like to organize my collection of underwear elastic.  It's a hot mess.

And, I need a new phone, one with more storage that takes better pictures for IG.

That all sounds accomplishable!

Thank you!!
Thank you for reading, and for taking the time to comment!!  This year I tried to reply to almost every comment on almost every post.   Thanks also for meeting up with me, taking me on a tour of your sewing room, and fabric shopping with me.

Here's to a 2016 filled with fabulous makes!  Rock on with your fabulous selves!!

And, of course, be well!