Monday, April 14, 2014

Blogging backlog / instablog

Do you guys instagram? Do you hate when people stop updating their blogs and just post gym selfies on social media?

Denim fabric shopping in downtown LA
I resisted instagram for a long time, but within 5 minutes of joining I loved it, and during this super busy work period, I don't seem to have the concentration for long blog posts, but I sew to relax (and occasionally because I don't have anything clean to wear) so I've been updating instagram with those projects, and I'm sorry to say that some of them might never get a blog post of their very own. 

Adventures in cleaning out my serger
I know that not everyone wants to be glued to their phone, so I thought I'd post a few of those over due items here.

Archer in progress

Burda 9/2013 #101B - too snug in the hips!

Red franken-patterned chambray shirt, simplicity 2451 skirt
Simplicity 1716 pattern gratefully gifted to me by Aleah because I was jealous of hers, and Moss skirt 
Silk Butterick 5611 and stretch twill Moss Skirt

Makebra hipster knickers - a fantastic free pattern

I love seeing what people are up to on instagram, so if you haven't already please join up so I can stalk you while I pretend to work!!

Here's my profile : ms_mc_call


Friday, March 28, 2014

FehrTrade Duathalon Capri pants - and Merino long sleeve t-shirt

People joke that Southern California does have seasons, and they are fire, flood (mud slide), drought and earthquake.  This joke bothers me because earthquakes are not determined by seasons and I can't enjoy an joke with such a glaring mistake. I think we should switch it out with pilot season.  I work in post production, and due to this season-of-madness, I'm not likely to get more than a couple of days off in the next 5 weeks. Basically, I'm explaining why I'm just about to shoe horn three reviews in one post.  

I understand that this is also a picture heavy post, so I'm putting a 'jump' in here so people reading this on mobile phones don't use up more of their data plan than they want to.

(I don't know why the 'jump' says "backwards", anyone know how to fix that??)

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Paddy's Day Vogue 8870

I'm a day late, but I hope you guys all had a great St. Patricks day!  I realised just a few days before paddy's day that I really didn't have anything green to wear and sadly I don't have a GAA jersey or any Irishy thing at all.  I wasn't afraid of getting pinched because I would seriously slap someone if they tried to pinch me for not wearing green.  (For readers outside of the USA, I really don't have any explanation for the pinching thing)

I'm sorry that this post has only iphone pics, I chose publishing a timely post over having good photos on this occasion.

Anyway, I needed something quick, and the only green fabric I had was a bunch of rayon challis from the Michael Levine loft.  I'd already cut out the pattern tissue for Vogue 8870 and abandoned it (can't remember why), so it was decided.  I can't even remember what fabric I'd intended to use originally, but I think it worked out well this way.

Pattern Notebook

View / Size used: View A, Size Small.  
I find it irritating that some patterns have numbers and some have XS-S-M-L etc. from the same company - what's up with that, Vogue?

Fabric Used: Rayon Challis from the Michael Levine Loft.  This stuff crinkles up like paper, but by the same token presses flat as a pancake.  You win some you lose some I suppose.  I bought it figuring it would serve as great drapey muslin fabric, but I hate making muslins, and it's actually very light and airy so great in the warm weather.  Surprisingly it didn't crease as much as I thought it would from wearing, so I'm excited to use the rest of it now!

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: 
I opted not to bother with any pattern adjustments before cutting. My current sewing thought experiments are revolving around trying to find a balance between finishing and fitting.  I'm beginning to realise that they are really opposing forces.  I wish I could figure out the best order of construction to keep my fitting options open as long as possible, but at the moment it usually means bad finishing.  Sewing sleeves in flat and sewing outseams on trousers last, are two examples that come to mind, but I wish I was better at thinking this stuff through as I sew.  On this dress I tried to see what adjustments I could do before getting too far in to the construction by pinning the pieces to my dress form.

Right then, I could see that there was actually no need to sew the front darts until the rest of the bodice is constructed.  They only intersect the waist seam, so sewing them first is actually the worst option when it comes to fitting.  By almost completely constructing the bodice first, I could just try it on, and pin and baste and pin and baste a few times, to get the coverage I wanted.

This resulted in a very uneven amount of fabric where the waist seam should be, so once I'd basted the bodice the way I liked, I put it on my dress form and drew a line around where I wanted the seam.  The picture below is actually before I basted the bodice, but you get the idea.

Were the instructions easy to follow?
They were fine, I'm sure, but I mixed up the construction order, so I didn't follow them exactly.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
I like raglan sleeves, and I was originally disappointed to find there was a seam in the sleeve, but the rayon pressed so flat, I actually like it now, it give shape the the shoulder that you couldn't get with a one piece raglan sleeve.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the finished garment?
I think the fit I ended up with is pretty good.  Of course without taking the dress apart I can't repeat it with another dress, but ho hum, I can always repeat the same process again I guess.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
I might, but no time soon, too many other things in the queue.

Construction notes: 

I am always highly skeptical of facings but I used them here because I didn't want to spend too long thinking about what to do instead.  Trying to solve problems like that is what uses up most of my sewing time.  Of course the answer was actually kind of obvious - self line the bodice!  Gah! Why do I never think of lining?

Machines / settings used: 
Featherweight at 8 stitches per inch for construction, 6 stitches per inch for topstitching the facings down.

Brother 1034D serger to finish seams.
Differential Feed: 1.0
Stitch Length: 4
Stitch Width: 5
Tensions:  Left Needle: 4, Right Needle: 4, Upper Looper: 4.2, Lower Looper: 4.3

Slán abhaile!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

DVF Wrap Dress Knock Off: Burda 7187

In the last little while I've developed a bad habit of meeting up with other sewers and droning on and on about my latest sewing theory.  My most recent victim was Aleah from No Time To Sew, who was just trying to enjoy her beer (hands up the sewers who love beer - there seems to be lots of us) but was forced to hear my long and rambling plan to start a series of blog posts called 'Reap What You Sew' which would be all about capitalizing on work you've already put in.  Re-using patterns, bringing hard won fitting adjustments on to the next project, and for me, using my dress form more.  I still might do it, but first I have to get over the fact that I HATE sewing puns.  I hate'em.  Well I actually hate when sew is used in place of a synonym, particularly 'so', but 'Reap what you sew' works on so many levels.  ANYWAY, to show how much I don't follow my own advice at all, I decided to make another wrap dress, and I didn't even use the perfectly good wrap dress pattern I'd already made up.  How's that for making unnecessary work for myself??

I was originally inspired by this DVF dress: 

It's a wrap dress made out of a wool sweater knit! It looked so comfy and lovely that I couldn't get it out of my head.

Then Aleah and I visited the DVF wrap dress exhibit (see her fantabulous posing here) and I was all the more inspired.  I had thought that the DVF wrap dress was more static in its design (like these patterns), but from visiting the exhibit, it seems like she was constantly riffing on the design. There were all kinds of different pleating, binding, sleeve treatments etc going on.  It seems like the rules are: there ain't no rules.  If you want to see some more pictures of the DVF dresses, I have a bunch up on Flickr here

So why not use the vogue pattern? Well, the sweater knit I found in - you guessed it - The Fabric Store, didn't have as much stretch as the fabric in my first wrap dress, and I didn't want the same pleats in the bodice either. I liked the fact that the shaping in Burda 7187 was partially from the back and front pleats, and that appealed because they're the kind of shaping that it's easy to adjust once the dress is fully completed.

Pattern Notebook

Burda 7187 - Seems to be identical to Burda 10-2011-123

View / Size used: I cut a 38 at the top and graded to a 40 at the bust line, and 42 at the hips.  Size 38 is listed as for a 34.75" bust, and that is my high bust measurement (full bust is 37"). I've found that since I'm really short-waisted, my full bust just takes up the extra length, and it comes out close to correct.  It's a little odd that Burda's size chart is on the tissue rather than the envelope, but it makes sense when you see how detailed it is:

I used a hybrid version of the C length and sleeves but with the A style  - no flounce.  Because the fabric was so pricey I went back and forth and back and forth on wether to make the dress knee-length, full length, sleeves, no sleeves. I'm happy with the final dress, but I think I like the fabric just literally thrown over my shoulders a smidge better.  Pity there was no fabric around the back in this arrangement hahah

Fabric Used:  The loveliest and most expensive yardage I've ever used - a $26/yard super thick jacquard woven double knit merino wool from The Fabric Store.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: 
Apart from the simple grading from one size to the next, I made a few other changes. I pinned the pattern pieces to my dress form, lining up the CB and CF.  Then I folded up the bust dart so that the side seam was fairly straight, and folded up the waist about 1" to match where my waist is.

I noticed that the front shoulder was a little too wide at the neckline.  The red line is the seamline.  I drew a new one in that worked better.

My fabric isn't super stretchy, but it's certainly stretchy enough not to need any additional ease in the back.  You can see here that if I line up the CB and the outer shoulder seam, theres a little extra there

I had no interest in adding a CB seam or dart, so I simply smoothed out the tissue, and let the outer part of the shoulder fall where ever it needed to.

Then I drew in where the new seam line needed to be to match the the front.

Finally, I measured 5/8" from the new seamlines and drew in the new cutting lines in blue (and note my much larger bust dart)

That's right, I'm living on the edge here, making adjustments right on the tissue paper! I think it worked out pretty well

Were the instructions easy to follow?
I didn't use them that much. The pattern is designed to be lined, and I made a hybrid view, so much of it wasn't applicable to me.  Although I was using wool fabric, it's super soft and has no need of lining.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
It's a great pattern, I think I've covered already that I like the front and back pleats, I like the length and I like that there's ample front coverage.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the finished garment?
Man, I love this dress.  It might be slightly bordering on bath-robe-y but it is even more comfortable than my bath robe, and warm too.  Yes I live in Southern California, but my office gets chilly.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
I might, but that would involve me reaping what I sew, and we all know that I talk a good game, but how many pattern repeats do you see on this blog?

Construction notes: 

I interfaced the shoulders with some surprisingly lovely interfacing I found at (this is getting really old, I know) The Fabric Store, for $3 a yard.  The fabric is pretty heavy, and it's all hanging from those short seams, so I figured they could use some help.

I thought that part of the reason I loved the version that I had draped on myself was the way that the wrong side of the fabric gave an outline to the dark fabric, so initially I sewed the facing to the outside.  It turned out this didn't look great.  I had to unpick the lot, understitching and all.  Let me tell you, unpicking out of this spongy fabric was a mo--erfu--er, but worth it.  I re-attached the facing in the normal way, but then trimmed the seam allowance to 1/2" and allowed the facing to roll over it.  I think it looks better now.

Since the fabric is so think,  I serged off most of the fabric in the bust dart.  I think it helps make the dart less noticeable.

When I was cutting it out, the fabric was pretty narrow, so I simply didn't bother to trim off the excess on the flap sides.  As a result the fabric wraps around my body further than the side seams. 

This would mean that the wrap dress wasn't really wrapped very tightly, so I cheat by wrapping the inside tie around my back before coming out on the other side.  I like that there's a very substantial overlap in the front now.

OK, that's it.  Man, oh man, I had a lot to say about this dress!

Machines / settings used: 
Janome 7318 for sewing and basting.  I used a 3.5 mm straight stitch for sewing, 4mm for basting.  I keep forgetting to use a narrow zig-zag, and frankly I don't like narrow zig-zags anyway.

Brother 1034D serger to finish shoulder and arm seams.  Side seams are unfinished because I couldn't be bothered figuring out how do finish them while keeping the tie openings.
Differential Feed: 1.6
Stitch Length: 4
Stitch Width: 7
Tensions:  Left Needle: 4.5, Right Needle: 4, Upper Looper: 4.5, Lower Looper: 4

Hope you're having a great weekend!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Pattern Notebook: Grainline Moss skirt - Jungle style and a bonus review

I have finished the Grainline Archer I was working on in the last post, you can see the pictures on flickr here, but I think I should have made it about 2 sizes smaller, so I'm going to try again and post a review when I figure that stuff out.

In the meantime, I whipped up a Grainline Moss, which I love so much and I've worn it twice this week already (including to the DVF dress exhibit at LACMA)!
Jungle January pose!

Pattern Notebook

View / Size used: View B (the one with the hem band).

I wasn't sure wether to make an 8 or a 10, I'm a perfect match for a size 10 (W:30, H:40) according to the sizing chart but that didn't work out for the archer so I dithered about it until the wonderful Sewn By Elizabeth was kind enough to tell me her measurements, so I decided to plow ahead with a 10.  Before asking Elizabeth, I tried looking on pattern review, but there is an epidemic over there of people not stating which size they used - why on earth is the "Pattern Sizing" phrased that way?

Fabric Used: A really nice substantial feeling leopard print denim from The Fabric Store which has a little bit of stretch.  By the way, they're having a 30% off sale at the moment if you're on their mailing list.  It might be starting to sound like I'm paid by The Fabric Store, but let me assure you, I'm just their biggest fan.  I love that shop.

I used some heavy cotton sateen that I pulled out of my foot-rest-of-scraps.  I'm really happy that I picked a substantial fabric for the pocket facings, I think I've used too-light fabrics in the past.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: 
I didn't make any alterations at all.  I did however find that the waistband was too short.  I've read on a few reviews that others have had this problem, but lots of people don't mention it.  Perhaps this error only affects certain sizes?   I did try it on before adding the waistband, so the top of the skirt might have gotten stretched out a little, but as you can see below, I was short by about 2".

Were the instructions easy to follow?
Yep, the instructions were great.  I don't know if I would have been able to do the fly without looking at the instructions only, but the tutorial on the Grainline blog is very clear.  Unfortunately I was trying to be too clever by half, and actually serged the seam allowances before putting in the fly, and accidentally trimmed off about 1/8" which made the Grainline fly method much harder.  I ended up ripping it out and going with the method which Kenneth King uses in the Jeanius craftsy class which I found a little easier with the limited seam allowance.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
I LOVE the simple clean lines, I love the pockets.  Apart from when I serged it off when I shouldn't, I like the 1/2" seam allowances.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the finished garment?
It might not seem it from the pictures, but I really really love this skirt.  It's super comfortable and the fabric is so fun. I have about an extra inch in the back so if (when) I make another one, I would look for a little more shaping in the back yokes somehow.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
Yes, yes, yes.

Construction notes: 
I topstitched most of the seams with jeans topstitching thread.  It became a bit of a pain to keep switching thread at the end, so some of the last few constructions seams area actually sewn with the topstitching thread.  It's not nearly as strong as normal poly thread, but I'm sure it'll be fine!

Machines / settings used: 
Featherweight for sewing and topstitching.  I about 8 stitches per inch for construction, when I remembered to change it, 12 stitches per inch for topstitching.  I used a size 14 needle for both so I wouldn't have to keep chnaging needles too.

Brother 1034D serger to finish seams.
Differential Feed: 1
Stitch Length: 4
Stitch Width: 7
Tensions:  Left Needle: 4.5, Right Needle: 4, Upper Looper: 4.5, Lower Looper: 4

And now here's the bonus!  It's a double Grainline outfit - the moss skirt, and the free pattern Hemlock.  I'm not going to do a full review, it's a one size pattern, and it's a great way of busting some jersey stash.  When I was cutting it out I took a random extra amount out of the neckline.

Monday, January 6, 2014

My Vintage Buttonholer cheat sheet

I made a Grainline Archer!  I was mostly done for days, but guess what hung me up?  Ohhh buttonholes, how do I procrastinate when it comes to buttonholes?  Last year  I made a shirt for Mr. McCall and it didn't get buttonholes (or buttons) until 3 months later.  It's terrible.  Part of the problem is that  I just dread messing it up, I've made some pretty horrible buttonholes in the past and they are a total pain to rip out!   

Now that I use a vintage buttonholer on my featherweight getting them to look uniform is not the problem  - that 4-step buttonhole on my Janome is the one and only thing I don't like about that machine.  The thing I mess up these days is getting the buttonholes lined up nicely and in the right spot.  I usually work out what I should have done by the time I'm finished, so here's my cheat sheet for myself so can shorten up that learning curve in future!

1.  Mark a chalk line down the placket through where the middle of the buttonholes should be.  Then make chalk marks at the top of each buttonhole position.

    (the following steps are shown in the video below)

    2. Test on a fabric scrap with the same number of layers as the button placket.  
    3. Lower the needle in the the marked start position.
    4. Line up the vertical chalk line with the bottom of the presser foot center line
    5. Turn the hand wheel and note if the first stitch is a zig or a zag.  I like to start on a zig (needle starts on the line and moves right) so the stitching will be to the right of the line.  It's not important which it is, so long as they're all the same.
    6. Make the test buttonhole and finish in the correct position for the next buttonhole - at the top of the right side of the buttonhole.
    7. If I go past that position, I need to turn the knob at the top of the buttonholer before moving the fabric, it's easier to see where the correct position is with the stitched buttonhole still there
    8. Lift the presser foot, and move down to the next buttonhole marking.

    I don't have a fancy buttonhole thingy to open my buttonholes, but I make a total mess of them if I try to do it with a seam ripper, so I use a craft knife on some cardboard instead.  It's a much cheaper tool than those buttonhole openers.

    Et, voila!  Lovely buttonholes.