Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Crazy Schemes to get a TNT-T

If you want to sew a t-shirt, there are lots of patterns out there, quite a few of them are even free.  One of the routes you probably shouldn't take, is to make a pattern-magic-y burda pattern and retroactively de-pattern-magic it.  But if you do feel like doing that, and you really shouldn't, I can tell you that it actually worked out fantastically well for me!

That's not skin, it's my belt, but still, muy bajo.
This super-roundabout way of getting to a fairly simple t-shirt pattern was actually not my idea at all, it was the pattern-hacking brainchild of Aleah.  I made the Burda 2/2014 #135 a while back.  I made it in a straight 38 with no adjustments, (if you make it, you should follow Kathy's tutorial and lengthen it, because it is super super short, and I'm shortwaisted already).  I really liked the fit through the bust, waist and hips, it just sort of hung really nicely.  I wanted more of them, but I thought that maybe the design was so conspicuous someone might think I'd found a factory sale and bought them all up if I made too many with the same weird drape. Aleah suggested taking the weird drape out of the pattern, and once she had suggested it, it wouldn't leave my brain alone until I'd done it.

So here's what happened: 

The back is easiest, lets start there.  Luckily there are CB and CF marks on the pattern.  I folded the back piece along the CB:

And then traced the neckline, and made the side seam half way between the two different side seams the pattern has at the moment

The front is a bit more tricky, but apparently less tricky than using my already traced and made up Sew U Raglan t-shirt.

To get the neck and arms, I folded along the CF:

I only bothered tracing to where the side seams cross each other.  Also that extra bit of neckline sticking up is just the seam allowance so I ignored it.

Then I folded the pattern piece on the fold line you would use to sew up the shirt, this was just to get an idea of where the hem was, so I traced the rest of the side seam and the (wonky) hem.

Then using the other piece of the pattern (that had been folded up), I matched it to the other sleeve line, and traced the side seam.

After all that, you'd think I'd have a more precise way of splitting the difference between the two lines.  Well I tried, but they finish at such different heights, it's more of an art than a science.  I used a french curve to get somewhat of the same curve that's on the wider side seam, but a little closer to the body.

Comparing the resulting pattern to a RTW t-shirt I have (that's not particularly long) I added 3" to the length.

The sleeves didn't need any change at all. 

Thanks Aleah for giving me such a fun sewing puzzle, I flipping love raglan t-shirts, you just can't have too many patterns to play around with! 

 I did make an interim test t-shirt, but I thought it'd be more fun to show off this spotty one because I was able to use up the left over scraps in a new pair of Fehr Trade duathalons.

Even though I liked my running armband fine, I got totally spoiled by the side pockets on the first duathlons I made, and I never wanted to wear anything else.  I always seemed to lose my armband, and side pockets make it so much easier to pull out the phone and put it back in than my make-shift armband.  Plus - no tan lines!

This polkadot fabric is a super slinky possibly cotton/rayon blend.  I did a bunch of burn tests on a haul of fabric bought in the Michael Levine Loft and the FIDM store, and surprisingly this was a natural fabric.  I say surprisingly because it has a lot of spring to it.  It's possibly too light for the capri's but I didn't care. It also clings a little more than I'd like to my back, but not so much that I won't wear it.  For work it might need something underneath though.

I originally bought 1 or 1.5 yards of cotton lycra for the first duathalons, and this one was made from the left overs.  It's about 3" shorter than the capri length because of fabric shortage, but I like the length!

That's it for now.  I haven't been sewing all that much lately.  Since visiting Spain in June I've gotten totally obsessed with learning spanish.  I don't think it's taken over completely from sewing, but I'm sewing from a Patrones magazine to try to combine the two obsessions in one.  Do you guys find your sewing obsession waxes and wanes?  See you later!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

I must, I must... Kwik Sew 3416

Swimsuits pose a major problem for me.  Not the making of them, the pieces are small and the construction is quick and relatively easy.  I struggle with two things; getting a large enough cup, and taking pictures of them for the 'oul blog.

I've made this pattern before, and I was disappointed in both areas.  I did increase the bust size some, and it does fit, but I don't feel totally secure swimming laps. Secondly, my pillow did a just-ok job at modeling.  I'm still not really fully comfortable posing in just a swimsuit on the internet, so I took the opportunity of grabbing some photos after (attempting to) surf a few days ago.

Pattern Notebook

Kwik Sew 3416 - Swimsuit

View / Size used: I started with a Size S, and added 1" in length, and greatly expanded the bust area.  I based this on my previous version and the stretchiness of the lining.  The actual number of one inch length was pure guesswork.

Fabric/Notions Used: It's nylon lycra or something from somewhere downtown, possibly the FIDM store, but I can't remember.  What I do know is that it's the softest swimwear I've ever touched.  Could it be something like modal or microfibre or something? Not sure, I still have some left, I'm thinking a tankini might be good because they're easier to deal with when changing on the beach.

The lining was kindly supplied by Nhi, because I was making it at her house, and I forgot mine!  She got it online somewhere, perhaps Sew Sassy? It's lovely stuff where ever it's from.  It does have 4-way stretch, but the up-down stretch is much less than the crosswise stretch, and also much less than my outer fabric.  Negative ease in 4-way stretch fabric has a way of pulling on that bust seam, which is a problem in my previous version of this pattern, which is why I added length to the body.

The elastic is rubber elastic from Sew Sassy.  I've used the cotton braided elastic in the past, so I'm interested to see how this holds up.  The cotton elastic is doing very well after heavy use in a chlorinated pool, so I am happy with it, I just like to experiment.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: 
The first time around, I slashed and spread the front bust pattern piece, this time I just randomly added about an additional 3/4" to the bottom, and the center of the pattern piece gradually becoming a little less towards the top.  The top is about a 1/2" higher, with tapers to nothing at the side seam, meaning the side seam is exactly the same as the original size S piece.  What I wound up with is very similar in size to the XL pattern piece.

I never even considered keeping this a halter situation.  I used the same technique as before for making nice sturdy straps, there's a tutorial in my review, but you have to scroll down a ways.  It seems I had a lot to say about this swimsuit last time.

I crossed the straps in the back this time.  I would kind of prefer if the were set a little further from the CB, but it's hard to figure out placement without someone else helping.  You can see that I've kept the straps long and used plastic rings and sliders.  It's easier to get an approximate strap length and adjust once it's on.

Were the instructions easy to follow?
I'm probably not a good judge on this anymore really.  I've always felt that Kwik Sew has fantastic instructions.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
I love Kwik sew's 1/4" seam allowances, their drafting seems to be good in general, you can't see it here but the legs are not that high.  That's a plus for me, but you may wish to adjust if you like them higher.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the finished garment?
This version fits just like I want it to.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
I'm not usually a pattern repeater, but yes, I probably will, and I would certainly recommend it.

Construction notes: 
This thing whizzed together in a matter of hours, I don't have much new to say on the construction, if you haven't made any swimwear before, I compiled a list of links that were helpful to me when I first tackled swimwear, almost two years ago!  Like last time, I underlined all of the pieces, not just the bust pieces, as the pattern instructs. I basted them together on the machine before the construction.

For construction, I tend to do a quick straight stitch pass on my regular machine, and then serge over that stitching with a 4 thread serge.  I'm just not that accurate on the serger so I like to see my stitching line as I serge.  This means that I hear stitches popping all the time when I'm putting it on, but I know it's just the straight stitches, and this sucker is not going to come apart on me.

I still like two passes of regular zig-zag as opposed to the triple zig-zag for the elastic on the neckline and legs.  I actually used the elastic lengths recommended for the size S on the neckline, so it gathered up a little more than intended since it was covering more fabric, but I like it to be snug, and it doesn't feel tight to me.

If you were at the LA sewers meet up, you'll know that I have several rolls of plush backed elastic, so I used some at the bust line to keep the bodice part from getting pulled up over the bust.  One of the least fun things about having a large bust is having seam lines that are supposed to be under the bust migrate to across them.

As you can see below, I paid very little attention to stripe matching.  I made sure the stripe landed on the same place in both bust pieces and that's really it.

Hope you're all having a great summer! Happy sewing!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Unintentionally-Retro Red Jeans

Bless me sewers for I have been absent, it has been more than two months since my last confession blog post.   I was away on holidays, first home to Ireland, then for a quick visit to Marrakech and Barcelona, pinched the cheeks of my adorable niece in Ireland again, and was back here in time for the L.A. Sewing Meetup organized by Jill, Erin, Kathy and Laurie.   It was loads of fun, so much fun I didn't get a single picture, but I am somewhere in there in the group photo.  There's rumblings of another one, and while I never need an excuse to go to the garment district, it would be really fun to show some local sewers around my favorite haunts.  I'm always surprised how many sewers in the area don't go downtown.

I haven't sewn a thing since then, but I made plenty of things before the radio silence, so I'll see if I remember anything at all useful about their construction! (I really have to go back to my old system of taking notes while I am actually making the thing).

I managed to get these photos at Nhi's awesome place before the meet-up, with Aleah kindly directing.

They're the Burda "5 pocket trouser" A.K.A. "Jeans" from the March 2014 issue. There was really no good reason for me to use this pattern, I have two other jeans patterns I'm pretty happy with, but Burda is known for it's well fitting trousers, and my previous jeans patterns were both copies of RTW, so I was interested to see how it would turn out as much to keep things interesting as anything.  Also Caroline made some and they looked awesome.  I suppose I'm easily led.

Pattern Notebook

Burdastyle 3/2014-115

View / Size used: I usually make a 38 in Burda, but I've discovered that my arse is a size 40, so that's what I made.

Fabric / Notions Used: A red cotton twill from a denim store downtown, 98% cotton / 2% lycra, 9oz.
The rivets and button are from Cast Bullet.

Interestingly this is the exact same fibre content as my previous jeans, and slightly lighter too.  The denim in the previous jeans was 10 oz, however this red denim is much stiffer and cardboardy, which I didn't think was as nice initially, but actually it doesn't bag out nearly as much as the blue denim.  Those jeans are actually pretty disappointingly prone to bagging out.  Could it be that more lycra is the answer? It still wouldn't explain the difference between these two fabrics though.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: 
I didn't do anything to the pattern.  It varied from my other pants patterns in ways that I couldn't really figure out what the result would be, so I just forged ahead.  I even tried them on at several stages along the way without noticing the problem.  Not until after I'd put in the zip and attached the waistband did I see that they were comically high waisted on me.

Caroline - are you very long between your hips and your waist? I see no mention of it being super high waisted, in your review, although one of the two reviews on PR does mention it.

So I ripped out the front of the waistband, took the effing fly back out, and moved it down as much as I thought I could get away with, which was an inch.  Rather than taking out the inch all the way around, I felt I couldn't do much with the back because it would leave the yoke pretty short, and anyway, they actually fit me!  So I took it out at the CF, tapering back to nothing at the side.

So how high waisted are these suckers?

Ummmm, let's pretend I was going for retro, OK?

Were the instructions easy to follow?
Apart from the fly, pants are the easiest thing in the world to make.  I tried to see if I could follow Burdas instructions for the fly, since this is the pattern in the issue with illustrated instructions.  I used a combo of my own tutorial and their instructions and got myself a bit confused.  Little did I know I'd have a chance to do it all over again....

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
I love the fit through the legs, and it's actually weirdly comfortable to have such high waisted trousers, but the high-waisted-ness is actually in the dislike column as far as aesthetics go.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the finished garment?
These jeans don't bag out! I love the colour, I've wanted red jeans for ages and now I have them.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
I might and I might.  How does one go about lowering the waistline while keeping the current shape, but not losing the yoke? If I figure it out, I'll let you know!

Friday, May 16, 2014

A Thank You and a Burda LBD review with very bad pictures

Guys, I have data turned off on my phone - I don't have 24 hour access to sewing blogs and I'm over 8,000 from my sewing machine.  I miss it already.  But it's ok, because shortly after I get back there will be a big L.A. sewing meet-up and I'll get to see all my favorite sewing ladies! One of those lovely people is Aleah, who has recently given me a Liebster Award! Thank you Aleah!  I actually previously accepted one here: (where I spelled it wrong, whoops!) and all of my answers still apply.  

I  also have to thank Aleah very very belatedly for my Christmas present (I said belatedly!) of the fab pattern Simplicity 1716 because I was totally jealous of hers.  I still haven't done a proper review but here I am outside The Fabric Store wearing a linen knit one and even better, this photo was taken by Aleah!

It's past 1 am here and I'm wide awake, so I'm looking through pictures of old un-reviewed projects. This one is really really old, I probably made it about a year and a half ago.  These pictures are pretty terrible, and the ones in burda magazine are just as un-instructive so between the two of us you really won't have any idea what this dress looks like haha.  

That is a real shame, because I think it's a really great basic sheath with basically no burda craziness and it seems to have gone pretty un-noticed - it's only got one other review on Pattern Review!

Pattern Notebook

Burda 6/2012 #129

View / Size used:  I cut a 40, but I ended up tapering in the side seams and front darts quite a bit because my fabric had quite a bit of stretch and it seems to be drafted for more of a stretch woven type fabric, and I probably should have started out with a 38.  It was one of my first Burda adventures so I was getting used to their sizing.

Fabric Used: Some crazy super thick but surprisingly stretchy knit with a wood grain pattern in velvet.  I told you it was crazy.  It's also totally impossible to photograph. I did take photos of the fabric at one time but they were destroyed.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: This dress is the project where I leared to love fisheye darts.  This is a dress that you can tweak the fit of after it's totally complete, and tweak I did.  I took in the side seams and the darts quite a bit to account for the stretch in the fabric.  Because it was so stretchy, I omitted the zipper.

Were the instructions easy to follow? They were for a lined dress, and I really couldn't follow them at all.  I didn't line the dress, which made the finishing at the back v-neck tricky, and I didn't do a good job at all.  I do wonder if they would make more sense to me now, but they certainly didn't at the time.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
Love the v-back, love the fisheye darts.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the finished garment?
It's so useful to have an LBD, I've worn it tons of times, including when Gertie came to town to promote her book

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
I should sew it again, maybe I'll have a go at the lining business.  I do recommend it, that's the whole reason to dredge this review up!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Pattern Notebook: Grainline Maritime shorts

Maritime shorts and Built by Wendy running top

Guys it was HOT in LA the last week.  What do clever people do when it's hot? Probably not go to the desert, but actually, I think it was cooler in Joshua Tree than it was back in LA. 

Still, summer weather is here, and I needed some new shorts, I busted out the Grainline Maritime shorts which had been burning a whole in my stash for months, and I'm really glad I did.  I didn't have the trip planned when I made them, but it worked out for a pretty nice photo shoot!  I'm in Ireland right now, and I'm going to see if I can get a few more things photographed in fun locations.  I still have such a backlog!

Pattern Notebook

Size used: Size 8, I made the Moss skirt in a 10, but I guess the running is making a difference because I now match the size 8 body measurements and my moss is a little big on me.

Fabric Used: Stripy linen from The Fabric Store - I only got one yard, and I had plenty despite stripe matching most pieces, this is such a fabric economical pattern!

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: Not a single thing.

Were the instructions easy to follow? Absolutely, but I did use the Jeanius fly instructions.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I love the fit, the length was perfect for me, it's great to have pockets too.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the finished garment? I was a little worried at first that the shorts could very on the clowny/circusy, but the lovely people of instagram and twitter reassured me that they didn't have to be, and now that I've worn them a bunch, I love them so much.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
Absolutely! I'm almost certainly going to be making this pattern up in the blue or red denim that I have, maybe both!

Construction notes: 

I do not usually make any pattern efforts at all.  I constantly see mismatching patterns in RTW, and it's not that I think that if RTW does it that it's good, but rather that most people (including myself before I sewed this much) don't notice it at all.  However this fabric would look kind of weird if I didn't make some attempts to match at least the CF and the CB.  I'm pretty sure I would have totally messed this up if I hadn't read Lladybirds fantastic post on plaid matching last year.  The fabric is exactly the same both sides, so it made it easy to cut out the fabric for one side:

And then use that piece to cut out the other side:

I drew the blue lines on the pattern piece for the front before I cut it out, and then lined up the front facing and continued the blue lines on to it.

Then I made sure the blue lines were in the same place for the front facing.

I did a similar process for the back pockets.  I experimented with the idea of having the lines alternate, but I didn't think it looked nice, so I just went with matching up instead.

Lots of people might already know to do this, but I've discovered through lingerie sewing, that it's sometimes helpful to put weights on the fabric outside the pattern as well as on the pattern piece when rotary cutting small pieces. It really helps preventing it from shifting around.

that might have been overkill...

I made the pocked lining out of white linen left over from a shirt for Mr. McCall, the stripy linen isn't totally opaque so I didn't want lots of layers of stripes showing through.

And that's all the construction notes I have.  I don't seem to have recorded my stitch settings, oops.

Don't tell anyone, but I totally wore these to the beach one day, and then two days in a row in the desert.   I think it's safe to say that I love them.

Maritime shorts and bamboo Burda 6990

Bonus lizard pic!

Keep well everyone.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Jeanius Jeans Fly front Cheat sheet

My last post on my jeans was getting a bit long, so I've separated out my notes on the fly construction.  Kenneth Kings method is a little different than others I've seen, and importantly it doesn't have the cut on facings, which are in most tutorials including the great one by Debbie Cook.  I haven't seen any RTW jeans with cut on facings, I think that the bulk of the sewn-on facing and fly shield is a signature of the classic jean. As I said in my last post, I think that this method is almost the same as this one by Lisa G, but it's just different enough, that I want to have my own cheat sheet to help me for the next time.  (How many pairs do you think I can get out of that stack of denim??)

So here's my fly front cheat sheet.

I'm copying the jeans below, so I've got the fly shield on the left and the facing on the right.

Line up the fly facing with the right side

The facing on my RTW jeans  goes to 4.75" below the waistband, so I just copied that:

I'm measuring the length of the facing from the waistband stitching line

My stitching line looks wonky because I was stitching on my adjusted crotch curve, ideally it would be an even distance from the edge of the fabric.

Trim the seam allowance, and clip to the stitching line on the front and the facing

Turn the facing the the inside, and topstitch just past the facing

OK! Now the left side - 

Below, the Center front is the red chalk line on both jeans.  On my RTW jeans the left front is turned about 3/8 past the CF.  I've marked the turning line in white. 

I'm going to clip in to the left front at the same distance from the waistband as the right front.

Pin the zipper to the left front, the teeth aren't right up against the fold, there's about a 1/4" there

Re-pin, this time adding the fly shield behind the zipper

Stitch close to the fold through all thicknesses, my RTW jeans use topstitching thread here, so that's what I did.

Here's the view from the inside

Now to put them together!

Line up the two fronts and sew through to the crotch

Again, the stitching line looks wonky because of my fitting adjustments. Just sew the seam with your normal seam allowance.

I start right at the fold so it turns neatly.

Pin the right front along the red chalk CF line, so the fly is lined up where it will be in the end.

At this stage I trimmed the CF seam and got it ready for flat felling

Using cheater wonder tape

I just did the first row of top-stitching the felling, because doing the other side would have caught up the facing in a weird way. 

OK, back to the fly - pin the facing to the zipper only

Zipper only!

Flip the whole thing around and re-pin, so you can sew with the zipper on top. Pin the fly shield out of the way

My RTW jeans attached the zipper with two lines of stitching here, so I just copied them.

Chalk on the line of top-stitching, make sure your fly shield is still out of the way in the back. I did two lines of stiching a little closer together than the other topstitching, again copying my RTW jeans.

You should be able to sew up to the CF line without catching the shield

I didn't quite make it to the CF because I'm a scaredy cat

Next I un-pinned the fly shield and added some bar tacks to hold the shield in place at the bottom. 

I was topstitching on the featherweight, which doesn't have zig zags so these bar tacks will have to do.

All done!

Hope that will be helpful in future. I seem to forget to read my own notes to myself!