Monday, January 12, 2015

Pattern Notebook: Burda 6840

I worked with someone a few years ago that had many, many silk shirts that were gathered around the collar.  They really caught my eye, and I've been looking for a pattern to replicate them ever since. The effect was something like the picture below.

I bought McCalls 6702 and Butterick 5611 trying to replicate the idea but they have gathers in a yoke, not the collar.  I made up B5611 in the smallest size in the envelope (size 10), which is a full 4 sizes below my measurements indicate, but it turned out completely gigantic!

I took these pictures last March.  I intended to shorten it and take it in at the sides before blogging and giving it a final verdict.  I never did, so it's gone unblogged.  Of ourse I've been wearing it anyway.  Don't we often say as sewers that we're so lucky because we can get our clothes to fit? Ya, most of the time that doesn't apply to me.

Over the holidays Joann had one of it's rare sales on Burda (and Simplicity) envelope patterns, so I went rummaging in the drawers to see if I could see anything close.  I ended up buying Burda 6839, 6840 and Simplicity 1279.  Actually Burda 6839 is closer to the inspiration, but it just looks so weird in that stiff shirting fabric, I couldn't bring myself to make it up.

So back to yoke gathers I went, and made up a test version of Burda 6840.

I've only just now noticed that Vogue 1412 is closer than any of the ones I have already, and I have a few candidates in a Patrones magazine.  I may keep trying to get this right!

Shirts with no sleeves are surprisingly fast to make! This shirt has the added benefit of getting the button holes out of the way at the beginning of the process. Now that I think about it, that was probably why this shirt got done in basically one sitting, usually button up shirts spend about 10 days on the back of my chair waiting for me to get the buttonholer out.  I kinda-sorta should get the buttonholer back out to do the final button hole in the collar, but we all know that is never going to happen.

Pattern Notebook

Burda 6840

View / Size used: View A, size 10 for the neckline and shoulders to the bottom of the armscye, 12 for body. That's 36/38 in euro sizes.  I normally use 38 in burda, but I compared the finished bust measurement to my far-too-big butterick and there seemed to be pretty generous ease in the bust.  Normally that's a good thing, but I didn't want that area to be too bulky in the stiffer fabric I was using.  I'm considering using a 38/40 combo if I make this up in flowy silk.  For reference the finished bust measurement of the Size 10 butterick shirt was 45.5", in this shirt it was 42.5".

Fabric / Notions Used: A fairly light cotton shirting with no stretch.  It's got a nice sheen to it, but no drape.  I can't remember where it's from. I thought it would be fun to use some contrast pink buttons under that covered placket. I got them from Nhi's giant bag 'o buttons (seen in this post - how many of those have you used Nhi??).

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: 
Apart from grading between sizes, not much.  I did turn my back pleat the other way out. Is this a men/women thing? Like the way the fly opens one way or the other? A quick survey of J Crew and Banana Republic tells me most women's shirts don't have any pleat, but the ones that do, have the pleat the way I've sewn it.

Were the instructions easy to follow?
Yes, I've found Burda envelope patterns fine for the most part. I liked that they had you apply the bias binding while the side seam is open, it makes for less stress trying to get it just the right length.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
I like the design. It's not the one that I was looking for, but it's very nice all the same.

I don't know if there's a drafting error, but my collar seemed to be too long when I pinned it, but then not as bad when I actually sewed it, so I had to rip and re-sew a few times. In the end I took a little off one end of the collar stand, so their not actually symmetrical. I'll never close it up so it will never matter that much.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the finished garment?
I like it more than I thought I would in the shirting. I like the length and the fit in the front.  The back is far too big,  I could easily eliminate the pleat, and actually take some darts back there.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
I'm not sure if I'll bother with the silk version, but I would recommend it.  Watch out for the collar length.  If you sew it on using Andrea's method, you can adjust as necessary on the fly.

Construction notes: 
The concealed placket was so easy, I might do it that way in future - not only do you do the buttonholes first, but if they're wonky, no one will see!  Not much else to say on construction except to record my settings.

Machines / settings used: 
Featherweight, 10 stitches per inch for construction, 7 stitches per inch for topstitching.
Rolled hem using roll hem foot, had to adjust tension for this foot, not sure why, longer topstitch worked better.

Singer buttonholer on featherweight for buttons, 1/2" template, W: 4

Brother 1034D serger to finish side seam, the only seam needing finishing.
Differential Feed: 1.5
Stitch Length: 5
Stitch Width: 5.7
Tensions:  Left Needle: 4, Right Needle: 4.2, Upper Looper: 4, Lower Looper: 4

I tried to get modeled pictures when I took the pictures of my jeans, but this is the only one in focus!  Oh well, hopefully you get a sense of the shirt from the dress form.

See you guys soon!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Tested: Fehrtrade Surf to Summit top

Winter has arrived in California! It's actually chilly right now, so it's a good thing I have this long sleeved top, I don't have any excuses to avoid getting out for a run.  I'm considering an actual organized race in April, it would only be my second, and the last was a bit of a last minute thing. It would be my first time attempting to train for any particular goal in mind - anyone have any advice? 

This is the Fehrtrade Surf to Summit top. I was a pattern tester for this pattern, but the version above is cut from the final pattern. I didn't intend for the test version to be worn out of the house, and did some very half assed work; no seam finishes, zig-zagged hem, but then I wore it for the whole weekend so I knew I had to make it up again.

As you can see, I made the mitts in the test version, just to test them. they work great!

Pattern Notebook

Fehr Trade Surf to Summit #106

View / Size used: Long sleeve / half zip (with mitts in the test version)

Fabric / Notions Used: 
Test version: Poly/lycra from the FIDM scholarship store
White/Lemon version: 'Activewear' 90% polyester / 10% lycra from Fabric Mart. 

This was my first ever order of fabric online! I've bought bra kits and notions online, but that was it until now. It can be pretty hard to find high-quality activewear fabric online or otherwise, but it feels like a total crapshoot to order online. I have to admit, I was sucked in by the fact that it was listed as a fabric used by New Balance, well that and the face that it was on super sale for $4 per yard.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: 
For my 'real' version, I wanted to add in some reflective piping. I considered using the shoulder seams, but since the reflective tape is non-stretch I was worried about how it would affect the fit.  I also thought about using back princess seams, but in the end decided to add a new seam across the back, so I would be the most visible in the dark.

Using the test version as a guide, I made a curved line a couple of inches below the arm/princess seam.  Most RTW reflective piping seems to be in a curved line. It might be partially for aesthetics, but I think it also build in a little 'give' in the seam.

My reflective piping was made from ripping the tape off a safety vest from IKEA. I got the largest size they had, and probably harvested about 3 yards of tape. I still have the icky fabric too, maybe I can use it on something if it's underlined with something nicer.

In order to avoid the piping being too scratchy, I trimmed the piping so it didn't reach all the way to the edge of the seam allowance.

And then, I didn't trim the seam allowance down at all with the serger so the piping was totally enclosed in the seam. It worked - no scratchiness at all!

Were the instructions easy to follow?
I found the instructions great. I actually didn't look at them the second go around, and I wish I had. I totally forgot to interface the area under the zip on the 'real' top and my zip pops out a little.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
As per usual with Fehr Trade, it is a quick and satisfying sew. I love raglans, so I'm happy this turned out well.  I think that the style is very adaptable, I thought about taking in the front at the princess seams below the bust, but it's not really that cold, and it will be warmer again soon, so I left it looser for that reason, but it would be easy to do.  

It doesn't affect me at all, but maybe longer distance runners will appreciate that there is no side seam.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the finished garment?
I frankly wasn't sold on the colour combination, but the lovely people of instagram pointed out that the bright colors are good for visibility, and they're absolutely right. Here's a non-flash picture taken right at dusk.

And of course, I'm very pleased with my piping!

The fabric, I haven't made up my mind about.  I don't wash my running gear after every use, it seemed like overkill to me, even before I read this article (thanks Jill) and, well, sorry to tell you, but it does get smelly if you don't wash it. I also wish it was a little beefier.  But still, it's very soft and shows no sign of pilling so I'm calling online shopping a tentative win.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
I'm sure I will, and yes, most certainly!

See you later guys!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Selvedge Jeans

As a way of discouraging myself to buy too much fabric I try to think about how many hours a given piece of fabric will take to make in to the thing it's going to be, and how long in the future that will be given all the other things I already plan to make.  This doesn't really stop me when I'm in the Michael Levine loft and they have a pile of nice jersey, but in fairness, 3 yards of jersey costs maybe 5 hours, but 3 yards of Selvedge denim?? That probably cost me 2 months.  Don't remind me that I have 5 more yards of the stuff.

I don't know how to even start to explain how I came to embark on this particular project.  It's a long and probably boring story. I suppose the nutshell version is I was intrigued by the idea of selvedge jeans, and wanted to make some. The long version, well, here goes.  Warning: Lots of words and pictures ahead.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Merckwaerdigh E-BHS10 - Getting my moneys worth

Apologies to all that are sick to death of reading about bra sewing. **Cough Aleah cough** but I bought a huge supply of laces and underwires from a sale at Rimmon Fabrics, a store in west LA which had bought out some supplies from a local lingerie designer.  So I'm sorry to say, this won't be the last lingerie post!

I don't seem to be able to make the same pattern more than a few times before my eye starts wandering, and I want to see what's up with all the other shiny options out there. A while back I wanted to order some of the famous kits from Merckwaerdigh, and took the opportunity to get some of her patterns too, including E BHS-10.  I've now made 3 out of the 5 views of.  5 views! This is a very good value pattern!

I started with View A which is a very simple soft bra.

I made this mainly to get an idea of the sizing because I've never made anything by this company before. It was a super quick sew, and I was very surprised by how it was actually fairly supportive, and did give a pretty nice shape. The fabric is a really nice cotton/lycra/acetate mix from The Fabric Store. It seems like very good stuff for lingerie because it has a pretty firm stretch to it.

I might have moved straight to View D, except I had recently found some fabric in the Michael Levine loft that I was sure would make a great sports bra. It looks like normal cotton in this picture, but it feels like it has a lot of lycra, and it's really beefy.

Unfortunately it wasn't beefy enough.  I added seam allowance to the neckline when I traced it, so I could line it with some stretch mesh. I inserted the picot elastic in the way you would insert piping in to a seam. Even with the lining, it's not nearly supportive enough for vigorous exercise, certainly not running.  Ho Hum, it's also very comfortable. No major loss.

So on to the last version.  Time for a proper review

View / Size used: View D, size 34D which was according to my measurements. Unfortunately the band is too big and the cups are to small.  If it existed, I would likely be a 32DD or E, but it doesn't. Sad face.

Fabric/Notions Used: With bras, there's a lot of bits and pieces and the supplies are always one of the major sticking points.  Because I tend to pick up supplies here and there, I've made myself a post-it note for each pattern with a list of all the stuff required so I can tick them off until I've made myself a 'kit'. I'm pretty sure I got this idea from the Sewaholic blog, but I can't find the post it was mentioned.  Here is where all this stuff came from:

Stretch lace: Rimmon fabric in West LA
Cuplining (non-stretch lining for center front): Silk organza
Wide Picot Elastic: 1/2" plush back elastic from the huge roll I got in the LA garment district
Picot elastic: 1/2" elastic, but much lighter 'knicker' elastic from a huge roll as above
Cup elastic: I used the same elastic as the "Picot elastic" but I cut the picots off
Shoulder elastic: Sorry, can't remember where it came from
Rings and sliders: Stolen from a RTW bra
Hook and eye: Probably the new closed Elingeria
Channeling: Bramakers supply - hand delivered to me by my bra sewing neighbor!! Thanks Pam!
Underwire: Porcelynne

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: 

Were the instructions easy to follow?
If you have made bras before, you'll have no problem at all. If you haven't they won't be enough. Sigrid has actually done a very in depth bra making tutorial using this pattern, but her own construction techniques.  I did follow the order of construction as laid out, but I got confused about how to deal with the channelling at the center front where there's a 'V' shape.  You can see that I messed it up a little.  Otherwise it came together easily.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
Here's the thing about this pattern. I actually think if you were to teach a course in bra making, this would be the absolute perfect pattern. If you start at View A and work your way down, they get steadily more complex adding one new idea at a time. First adding lace, then lace with the bra back, then underwire, finally underwire and padding.  But the instructions are not great.  Someone should use this bra for a class!

I don't know if I like quite this much lace in my brassieres. I'm not usually a lacy person at all, but there's something about making my own stuff that makes me want to make things that look 'real' and lace does seem to sell 'real bra'.  I can't tell if I like the silhouette yet because it doesn't fit me that well.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the finished garment?
The center front doesn't sit flush against my skin, so I do need a bigger cup, but somehow it's still comfortable and I've worn it plenty now without trouble. I think it might be because I know my underwire size, and I have to think that's the biggest factor when it comes to comfort.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
I might, but I was disappointed to find that I fall between the sizes available in this pattern, but my size is also not covered in the other pattern I bought.  When I was buying the patterns,  I did exchange emails with the designer / shop owner, but I didn't know exactly what size I was, so it was hard for her to advise.  To the second question, I would certainly recommend the pattern.

[ETA] Construction Notes:
Totally forgot to add any construction notes when I was writing this first!  Sometimes I write a post so much in my head I forget to actually, you know, write it!

I underlined the the cups in a light mesh. For the side cup piece I only extended the mesh up to where it turns in to the strap.  I sewed the cup seams on the featherweight, but did serge it after using wooly nylon in one of the loopers. I don't trust my accuracy on the serger for the cup seams, but I do like the neat seam allowances.  Having said that, my accuracy attaching the side cup to the other cup pieces was likely not very good. It's hard to keep track of where the seam lines should be with the scallops getting in the way. I'll have to figure out a way to mark this better next time.

I used the same light mesh on the band, but as Anne points out in the comments, I might have got a better fit with a heavier power mesh.  It's such a narrow back, that it needs all the support I can provide.  In fact in any future versions, I'll likely widen the back to a 3 hook closure.

I've always had trouble getting the hook and eyes on nicely, for this bra I actually used a little fabric glue stick to keep them in place, did a straight stitch first, and then finally zig zagged them. It seemed to go more smoothly than usual.

I have to say I was skeptical that my flimsy knicker elastic would be enough support for the lace portion of the straps, but there are two rows of elastic on the strap in the end, and it seems to be holding up just fine.

Machines / settings used: 

I don't have any settings for View D, but for View A I used my serger with wooly nylon in the top looper, so that it was next to my skin when the seam was topstitched down. It worked pretty well.

Brother 1034D serger
Differential Feed: 2
Stitch Length: 3
Stitch Width: 7
Tensions:  Left Needle: 4.5, Right Needle: 3.8, Upper Looper: 3.3, Lower Looper: 4.2

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Pattern Notebook: Burda 6990 - Wrap hack

Hey guys! I'm back with another round of "why did I hack that when I had not one but two wrap dresses (that I could have just hacked off the skirt of) already??"  Today I actually have a legit answer, which is that I love a raglan and neither of those dresses had raglan sleeves.  I've basically wanted a cosy wool ballerina wrap since forever,  and this one I made a long time ago didn't really work for me in the end for reasons I'll get in to further down.

I started off with Burda 6990 (reviewed here), because it was closer fitting than my other recently hacked raglan.  Now I'm realizing I could have done a second-generation hack, and I'm wishing I'd used that instead.  Oh well, first generation it is.

So first, I put the top on, and drew on myself (in washable ink) where I wanted the cross over to go.  Having the pattern made up, and doing it this way is a million miles easier than trying to guess where it should be by paper fitting.  Does anyone actually get a good result from paper fitting? It's always been very hit-and-miss for me.  It's hard to see the line, I know, but that's the nature of disappearing ink.

I made a copy of the pattern piece which was the full front rather than on the fold.  My paper wasn't quite long enough, but I didn't care about losing a tiny bit of length.

Then I transferred the line from the shirt to the paper.

Smoothed it out a little with some french curves.

And put on some seam allowances.  Since I had the wrap starting right at the original neckline, I needed to add a tiny bit of extra paper to have full seam allowances there.

Despite the fact that I was hacking a well-fitting top, I wanted to make a test run, before I cut in to my lovely wool.  I don't seem to have any pictures of that top except for one posted on instagram.  Sorry for the filter, but I usually filter my IG pictures mainly so details are visible on dark fabrics.

Bonus view of Madame wearing the burda double layer dress from 06/2013.  Great pattern! Very simple. I should really review it.

It had worked pretty well!.  I used binding on the neckline all the way around, which started as 2.5" folded over, and sewn on with a 5/8" seam, so the binding ended up about 1 1/4" (right?? I sew in inches because everything here is set up that way, but I still hate doing inch-maths).

The ties on the purple version were separate to the binding, but it ended up being a little bulky where the two meet.  For the black wool version, I combined the binding and the ties.  First, I sewed on the binding portion in the normal way (doubled over, wrong sides together), but stopped about a few inches from the side edge.  Then I sewed the rest of the binding/tie right sides together to form a loop.  I turned the loop right sides out, and tacked down the place where the serging and the loop met.  I still wasn't happy with the flipping-out-potential of the serged seam allowances, so I zig-zagged them down.  The zig zags really sink down in to the wool, I don't think they're that noticeable, but I actually like zig-zags, I know some people don't.

The main changes arising from the tester version were the side shaping on the wrap pieces.

For the underlap side, the shaping below the waist is basically surplus to requirements, and hangs in a slightly weird way, so I straightened it out.

 I also shaved a little bit off the hem on the lapped side, so it wouldn't peek out.

For the overlap, I lowered the place where it wraps around me.  I'm very short waisted and I need the underlap side to wrap right under my bust to be flattering, but most ballet tops have the wrap lower down.  This is actually one of the reasons that most wrap tops don't work for me.  There is hardly any space between my under bust and waist, so things that wrap further down the body just work their way back up.  This happened so much with my previous attempt at a ballet wrap, that I donated it. You can see in the top above that the wrap is right under my bust, but in the black version the line doesn't have such a sharp turn under the bust.

I thought it would be visually nicer if the overlap side extended slightly over the side seam, so I drew the side seam line directly upwards from the widest place on the hip.  I kept both sides on the same piece of paper, it's easy to just fold away the relevant pieces.

Finally, I was ready to chop in to my wool, another piece of merino from The Fabric Store.  Kbenco pointed out in the comments of my merino running top, that 100% wool can sag a little over time, so I was really happy to find this black merino with 2% lycra - and in one of their periodic 30% off sales too.  I want this to be close fitting, so it's nice that the lycra gives it a little extra spring.  Hopefully this will stop it from bagging out over time.

It is so hard to photograph black wool!!  Can you tell I was getting frustrated? I used the full sleeve, and a cuff for the wool version.

These pictures don't show off the lines very well.  For some reason the best picture I have of this top was taken in the bathroom of my office.  Yes... I was so excited to show this top to the world that I IG'ed it from my office lavvy.

I'm wearing it with a Grainline Moss skirt.  No one needs another review of that skirt right? I made an 8 this time, and the fabric is left over from my red burda jeans.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Marlborough Bra V3: Success!

It fits!!

Well, it mostly fits.  I find that my impression of how a bra fits can change over a few wears, so I'm going to give this one a few weeks until I try again, but it's perfectly wearable and I'm a happy camper.

Where to start? I suppose the fabric and sizing.

This bra is drafted for a low to no stretch fabric.  For me this was one of the biggest pro's of the pattern.  Most of my Marks and Spencer bras (and I rarely wear any other RTW bras) are made from fabric that has barely any stretch but quite a lot of mechanical 'give'.  The thing that I like about that fabric is that it's much better for keeping larger bosoooms in place without resorting to foam.  (I do like the idea of the thin foam that Makebra uses, but my dislike of foam stems from that thick stuff Victoria's Secret uses so much of.) Not having anything exactly like that in my stash, I used a thin cotton / silk mix for the cups and front of the band.

V1 was size 34DD. The cups were too small.  Anne and Pam rightly pointed out that I wasn't filling the cups all the way to the bottom, which meant that the cups might have been the right size, if only I filled them.  I wasn't 100% convinced, so I made V2 of the bra with almost identical materials, but this time using a size 36DD.  The other major difference apart from the size change was that I cut the cup pieces on the bias, thinking that it would give the fabric the movement necessary to allow me to sit down in to the cups.  Well the band now fit, but the cup was a little too big in the upper cup, and the lower cup was super lumpy.  It was ugly, I was bulging out in all sorts of weird places.  There aren't pictures, but trust me on this, it made for a very strange shape under a t-shirt.

I took a break for a few days and came to realise that I should start with fabrics with a little more give.  Just like other types of garments, knits allow the fit to be a bit more forgiving. I figured that since the 36DD cups were a teensy bit too big, the 36D cup would be fine in a fabric with some stretch, so that's what I made.  And it was!!

This version of the bra is made out of materials cobbled together from all over the place: the sliders and straps are harvested from and old bra, the lace and elastic is from a mystery source in Downtown LA, the casing and underwire is from Porcylenne, I think the power net is from the F&S fabrics remanent bin, and the closure is a story unto itself.  I found yardage of 3-hook tape in Trim 2000 downtown, which was $4 per yard.  Score, I thought.  Until I tried to use it.  The hook tape they sold me with the eyes didn't actually match!!  Oh well.  So the hooks are harvested from a bra, and the eyes are from Trim 2000.

My real saviour in this version is this absolutely lovely fabric that I bought from Elingeria.  It's a knit, but with only a small amount of stretch (maybe 15%), it's thick and spongy and soft. I'm really sad that Elingeria went out of business, she had the best stuff.

I used the fabric for all three cup pieces, and then just laid the stretch lace on top of the upper cup.  It was a little wider than the narrowest part of the upper cup, so I sewed the upper cup to the lower cup without catching the lace, and then let it hang over the lower cup when I attached the band.  I sort of added the lace cos I couldn't figure out a better treatment for the upper cup, I don't know why I didn't think of just using some fold over elastic.

Now that the side of the bra has some stretch, I've got it on the smallest hook, and it might actually work as a 34DD.  I think I might prefer that because I preferred where the straps were positioned in the 34DD.

I don't know why, but previous bra sewing seemed exhausting.  I would do a spurt of sewing 2 or 3 bras, only one of which would be wearable and I'd be totally emotionally drained by the whole enterprise.  I don't know if I have improved or if it's this pattern, but there is something about this design that makes the order of operations really intuitive.  I used to constantly mess up the order of my previous bras.  Maybe that's what was exhausting.  Ripping.  This one just seems to be logical.  I can't put my finger on what the difference is.  It might be that it's about the 15th bra that I've made and have nothing to do with the pattern, who can say.

I may try to make a non-stretch version some time in the future, but I'm very happy with the support in this fabric, and I like the shape under my clothes. I'll take some future review picture with it on so you can see.  ANYWAY, there was a lot of text in this post so:


It's good! Highly recommend! If you are new to making bras, it's a really good idea to have enough materials to make at least 3 bras with all identical stuff because the smallest change makes a big difference.  You will probably have to make more than one to get the right size, but it's worth it, and starting with a fabric with a little stretch might get you to a good fit faster. It's a lovely bra.