Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Nautically Striped Maternity Dress

I am so thrilled with this dress, from my course Sewing with Knits!  I wore it Sunday and remembered how much I love not having a waistband (Dear maternity pants, I HATE YOU!).   

The pattern, called the Empire Waist Surplice Dress, comes with the course, along with patterns for a scoop-neck tee, a sweatshirt, and a few others.  It was a bit short, probably quite cute on people who don't have a belly pulling their clothes up, but I lengthened it by 4" in the back and 5" in the front.  I also sewed a size S on top, grading down to an XL in the skirt.  A bit dramatic and I think there is a bit of a "hippy" bulge from the grading being so extreme, but I was afraid to take any out, as I feel like I have no concept of how much fabric the final belly will demand. 

I learned a LOT making this: there's stretch elastic in the neckline and waist, and I used a twin needle to finish the neck and hem.  Very profesh!

Let's talk about that little side-bust-seam, the one that makes each side of the bodice look like it's cut from two pieces? There's a pretty tragic story in there..each of those bodice sides is SUPPOSED to be one piece.  I had put in quite a few hours of work on this dress already when I wanted to try out my twin needle on a scrap.  I grabbed a piece of scrap from the pile, sliced off a chunk, and used that to play with the stitches.  Some time later, when laying out the bodice, all sewed together with the neckline so nicely finished, I noticed that I was missing a large piece of the front! I'd cut off a quarter of my bodice thinking it was scrap! Egads! I was kind of giddy with shock, I was so horrified.  I didn't have enough leftover to cut a new piece, nor did I want to undo all of the lovely finishing I had already completed, so I managed to sew in a patch, and then made a matching, completely useless, seam on the other side so it would seem intentional.  Whew! 

The origianal pattern calls for fitted elbow-length sleeves, with are super cute, but I'm going to be wearing this while very pregnant in August and, the armpits, they need to breathe! I didn't love it completely sleeveless so I cut bands for wee cap sleeves.  Was going for this look, though I don't think I quite got there:

I'm overall very happy, and my next project might just be this one again, in a different fabric.  Dresses will probably be my uniform this summer, so it's time to get crackin'!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Men's Pullover --> Granny Cardi Refashion

 We're not so great at careful laundry around here, and I can legitimately say that I don't know who shrunk this lovely merino sweater of Jon's but it is equally likely to be either of us.  Sad for him, yay for me...I mean...yeah, that's what I meant.

It was very boxy and ugly on me, but taking things in at the sides is not really practical at the moment, as my sides keep expanding.  So I decided to cardi it up.  Something about the color demanded antique lace, and I went for the whole trendy grandma/anthro look.  (If I have to tell you that this is trendy grandma, does that mean that I didn't so much succeed at making it trendy grandma...?)

And I'm confident those buttons will actually button...someday

The project cost about $15 in lace and buttons from jo-anns, and I used a woven ribbon from my stash to reenforce the backs of the button plackets on both sides.

I just cut off the existing neckline to open it up a little farther (it was pretty tight) and then sliced it up the front.  Then tragedy struck, as my scissors caught a bit of the back while cutting the front, resulting in a 1cm hole!  So I also learned how to darn a sweater. :)

Not my fave make, but it'll certainly get some wear, as light-layers season is upon us!

Ohhey, time for a survey.  If this red and white tee were to get the add-a-skirt maternity treatment...

...what color would that skirt be?  Red? Black? Grey? Stripes? Some alternate color?  Discuss.  

Monday, March 17, 2014

Knit Tunic, Take 1

I finished Butterick B5354 in January, but then followed a rough patch (yes, for those of you following along, my last post was a thinly-veiled pregnancy announcement.  14 weeks now, if you care...) so I haven't gotten around to posting it until now. I started this top pre-positive test, but made it with maternity in mind. It's not a maternity top and it certainly won't last all the way to September, but it's a roomy knit and should see me through another month or so. 

I enjoyed this project, it was quick and easy (as promised in the name) but I feel like it's shapely and I love the tuck detail around the neck and the gathered sleeve caps.  

Bump Watch, 2014, is she or isn't she? (she is) 

I am pretty disappointed in my fabric choice though. This is yardage I bought in NYC and it's a surprisingly un-stretchy knit, and very wrinkle-prone.  Like, I had to iron for the photo shoot.  Iron a knit.  It's not right, people. 

This pattern will see some more love, probably a good one on which to try out different types of knits.  How do you know, in the store, or for that matter online, how a knit will behave after it's washed up and sewn? What key words do I need to look for?  (Does this remind anyone else of a terrible "Carrie Bradshaw column"? "How do you know when a knit is right for you?") Seriously, any advice you may have, show some love in the comments.  I think I'll be dealing exclusively in knit fabrics for the next 6 months so I'd better get pretty good at it. 

Including this picture is payment to my photographer...

Holiday-inappropriate.  She is wearing a "who needs luck when you're this cute" St Patty's shirt under this, I swear.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Why We Do What We Do

Do you ever go through a crafting dry spell (say, the length of a physically and emotionally rough first trimester...) and then when you finally sit back down to your sewing machine/yarn/pencil/camera/whatever your craft of choice may be, and, finally, with it back in your hands, you think, oh yeah.  This is me.

Whenever I don't have the energy to make, it's because I've forgotten that making is what gives me the energy.  Creating is what drives our humanity.  The rest is just surviving.

More on this project when I've got it all done, but I have to say that the easy freehand nature of the quilting is so soothing and meditative.  I highly recommend. 

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Video Tutorial: Transferring Pattern Markings on Knits

I was seriously struggling to wrangle this knit fabric for my next project.  How to lay out? How to cut without wrinkles? How to transfer all of the markings for the ten thousand tucks?  A couple little revelations that really helped me:

When cutting into your knit fabric, lay it out single-layer on a large piece of carpet and then smooth the wrinkles.  The carpet will hold the fabric just as you set it, and now you can lay out your pattern pieces.  Seriously, I spent a long and frustrating time trying to fold my fabric and get the fold smooth enough to cut out my "cut on fold" pieces.  Stop the madness and cut it single-layer! Lay out your pattern piece, cut around, flip it over the "place on fold line" and cut out the other half.  Easy and fast!

My next little stroke of genius came when transferring pattern markings: why bother with sticking pins through each little dot when you've got a fabric "sticky" enough to hold the pattern piece in place? You can see the markings right through the pattern piece, if you fold the pattern right on the markings, you can trace them right beneath.  Maybe this was already obvious to everyone but me, but I kind of blew my own mind with this little shortcut, so I just had to share with you.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Pink and Awkwardly Out of Season

This might be my least favorite make, and that's saying something, but I don't want this blog to be a brag-rag, where I only post about how fabulous it is to be me, so here goes.

The original top, a lovely pink silk button-up gift from gap, never got worn, mostly because it was too short and because my life doesn't call for a lot of button-up blouses. The brilliant plan was to use the fabric from the sleeve to make a very wide band instead of a bottom hem, leaving the button placket intact on the top half and allowing it to blouse and bit and then gather into the band. My fave feature of the top is the double-buttons down the front and I wanted to preserve that.

I'll try to condense the whining about this painful process: painstakingly unpick the sleeves, make a sleevecap pattern from them, discover that I do not have enough fabric from the sliced-off bottom to make said cap sleeves and scrap them, attach an existing white tank as a lining but discover that it will not stay rolled into the inside of the shirt and perpetually plays peek-a-boo around the bottom, the exact schlumpy look one tries to avoid by building in a lining, not have quite enough fabric to make the bottom band fit right, cut off the original bottom hem and attach it to the armholes as bias tape, discover that the armholes are too big and should have been shaped before being finished, realize that thread has run out and so this cannot happen, discover that armpits have grown fabric wings and need taken in, decide to f*ck it and throw a jacket over, take the damn picture, and move on to something more inspirational.  You'll note that I didn't even press it.  This one's for the scrap bin, I'm afraid.  Also, I started it in October, when maybe I could have gotten away with wearing it, but it took so darn long it is now New Years and I was shivering for the five minutes it took to snap the photo.  Wow, you must really feel bad for me, it is so terrible to be a tortured home seamstress.

This was an attempt to fill a gap in my wardrobe: right-sized light tops to throw on over skirts, but the fit is just so awkward I doubt it'll see much wear.  Ah well, chalk it up to a learning experience.  I also find that when I attempt a refashion the results don't tend to fit my "oh, this'll be easy, the garments almost done, a couple hours tops..." expectations, and then my inspiration quickly fizzles.  Time for a new project, I think.  You know, the kind where you start at the beginning and at least know you'll have enough fabric for sleeve caps...

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Busting Through

This picture makes me so happy...

A mere 2.5 years after buying this house and knowing that we would "sometime soon" get rid of the wall between the eat-in-kitchen and the dining room, the wall is finally gone!  I know that having separate eat-in and formal dining spaces is considered a plus for real estate, but I've just never been able to understand it.  Why do I need two tables? Why have a dining room that doesn't fit my table when fully expanded for family gatherings, and another smaller table on the other side of the wall? One of those tables is going unused, people.  We went another route and just never got a table for the eat-in side, using in as ballroom space (read: empty and useless) figuring we'd be knocking down the wall "any day now".


The "ballroom"...oh that peach color! Thanks previous owners...
Well, with the relocation of Jon's sister and her hubby back to Michigan, our hand was finally forced: the family would not fit in the dining room so it was knock down that wall or relinquish Christmas hosting rights.  And I was NOT going to give up Christmas!  After getting a few estimates that seemed a bit steep, we decided we could DIY.  With three weeks till Christmas, Soph and I headed to my mom's so Jon could start demo.  We received a call from my handsome handyman shortly thereafter: "I found pipes.  And I think it's load-bearing."  Ruh Roh.

The offending water pipes

The During
The contractor graciously re-accepted us and showed up a shockingly quick 5 days later, pulling down the wall (it wasn't load-bearing after all), moving the pipes,  spiffing everything up with drywall.  It was really amazing how quickly we were "squeezed in"!  Jon even got the space painted before Christmas eve!  I somehow neglected to get a shot of Christmas dinner, with 10 adults, Soph, and a glorious Christmas spread fitting in with room to spare, but I will tell you that it was awesome! There is still work to be done: the original dining room has wood floor and the eat-in has tile, with different levels and a gap between where the wall was.  But seriously, this got done in 2.5 weeks and it looks just like I've been imagining for 2.5 years. :)