Feb 15, 2015

v9022 with a dash of Alabama Chanin

This post is entirely inspired by Liza Jane of liza jane sews.  My blogging mojo has been pretty nonexistent for a bit now, even though my sewing mojo has been strong.  I do have the desire to document my lovelies, but time and initiative have been in short supply.  However, when Liza Jane posted her adorable version of Vogue 9022 the other day, I decided that I should really share mine too, not out of any sense of competition but as a way of adding to the conversation.  When I started on this dress back in December, I searched in vain for reviews of the pattern.  I really like knowing if a pattern runs true to size or if it works well in a particular type of fabric or if an alternate construction method produces better results.  I love the sewing internet world for all of these reasons.  So, here's my contribution to the Vogue 9022 pool of reviews.


Liza Jane called this a sack dress, and I agree with that descriptor.  I have nothing against a comfy sack dress, and I think this one has a better built in shape than I expected.  I used the finished garment measurements to decide on a size; I went with a small (which is a size smaller than my body measurements call for) and I shortened the dress at the waist by half an inch.  I like how it fits for what it is.


I used  a double layer of lightweight organic cotton jersey that I bought at Organic Cotton Plus.  The double layer means that those two center seams are very thick, but adding the fell stitching helps keep them mostly flat.  Obviously, I added some Alabama Chanin style embellishment to the center panel.  This is the Abbie's Flower stencil, available as a free download on the AC website.  This is the third stencil I've cut myself, and it's getting easier each time.  Labor intensive and nerve-wracking, yes, but each time I'm more accurate and precise. I used regular fabric paint in a slightly lighter color than my fabric, outlined the shaped with a backstitch, and then cut out the centers for a reverse applique.  I love the texture this process creates.


I eliminated the neckline facing in favor of the traditional AC binding.  I love the look of the delicate binding, almost like a necklace, but I do worry that it won't be strong enough to hold the weight of this dress over time.  I carried the binding out a bit at the back to create a keyhole tie at the top.


Overall, I'm very pleased with how this dress turned out.  I love wearing it, although it doesn't feel as sturdy as my other AC garments--I'm afraid to hang it in my closet, so it stays folded with my sweaters.  I'm okay with giving this one a little extra TLC though.  It's a fair exchange considering its one-of-a-kind nature.


Feb 2, 2015

January in Review--all the plaid

2015 is shaping up to be a pretty busy year so far.  As usual, I'm up to by eyeballs in real life stuff (cooking lots and lots of Whole30 compliant meals, reading stories to my kiddos, tripping over all the toys, and of course, grading essays), but I've really missed the old blog world.  It's quite overwhelming to consider documenting all of the garments I've made since, oh, SEPTEMBER, so I thought I would choose my favorites from January to get me back into the blogging swing of things.

(in no particular order...)

#1: Oliver and S Jump Rope Dress in flannel for Cara


One of the skills I feel I've been missing lately is matching prints.  Winter is the perfect season for cozy plaids, so I jumped into plaid matching with gusto.  Surprisingly, it's not really that difficult after all.  I found that cutting out my projects on a single layer of fabric helps tremendously, as does a long ruler to help keep notches lined up with the print on the fabric. 


I also found that love plaids on the bias for details like collars and plackets and pockets.  I wish the bottom of this placket was a bit more sharp and centered, but it'll do.


I really enjoy looking at the side seams on this dress, with their perfectly matching horizontal stripes.  And that pocket was a labor of love.  I finally figured out how to keep the curves smooth, and I think they turned out beautifully.


And there's my cutie pie in her warm, cozy dress.  She fits perfectly into an Oliver and S size 6 these days, although I think I may start lengthening her dresses as I make them so that they will last through an extra season.

#2: McCalls 6613 in cotton shirting for PJ


My poor, patient husband finally got a shirt that fits (and one that he will wear with minimal coaxing!).  His Negroni wasn't awful, but it was missing a lot of the details that he likes in a shirt, mainly a collar stand and separate button plackets, and I chose a size too big.  However, McCalls 6613 is a perfect fit for him.  I didn't have to make any changes to the pattern, which was a pleasant surprise. The only big detail that this shirt is missing are tower plackets at the cuffs.


I don't hate the way these sleeves are constructed.  The pattern includes a two-piece sleeve, and the seam allowance is turned and stitched to finish the opening at the cuff.  This is waaaaaay easier than a tower placket, and my husband tends to wear his sleeves rolled up year round anyway.


I did goof up the collar just a bit, and now there's no way for that top button to close.  Again, not a deal-breaker since my husband says he's not planning to wear a tie with this shirt, but it's something I want to get right on the next version.


And there's the yoke on the bias just because.

#3: Wiksten Tova top in flannel for me


This top is all over the world of sewing blogs, and now I know why.  It's easy to make and comfortable to wear, especially in this snuggly flannel.  I originally bought this fabric intending to make a shirt for Colin, but he isn't interested in wearing mama-made clothing right now.  "Isn't interested" is putting it mildly...there was a tantrum at one point, and the very last thing I want to spend my precious sewing time on is something that will not ever get worn.  I thought about another shirt for PJ, but I was about a quarter of a yard short.  Lucky me!

I went with a size small, and the fit on this top is perfect.  My shoulder movement isn't constricted, and I don't feel like I have too much volume around the hips.  The bottom seam of the inset even falls just under the bust for me.  I have some teal flannel that is begging to be another Tova.


Thanks for sticking around all the way to the end of my favorite January projects!  There are quite a few that didn't make the list here, but I've been sharing my sewing projects on Instagram quite a bit lately; I'm jessicakcooper over there if you're interested.

Sep 7, 2014

rule breaker

Remember how I was wondering if I really had to give up white after Labor day?  I've decided that I don't.  So, here's another summer skirt just in time for the end of summer.


Don't mind those wrinkles--I had been sitting for a bit before I got around to making my husband take these pictures.  Besides, I get bonus points here for wearing one of my Belcarra blouses too.  This is the ever popular Vogue 1247 (see my version of the blouse here), and I can see why everyone loves this skirt.  It's a flattering A-line, but not too bell-shaped (and mine is lengthened FOUR INCHES), and it has some awesome secret pockets.


This is actually my second go around with this skirt.  I made a plain navy version at the beginning of the summer that hasn't made its way to the blog (yet?) because it's pretty basic.  It's a wardrobe workhorse though, and I highly recommend making a few of those.  I liked the fit and shape of the first skirt so much that I decided I wanted to do something with a print, and I thought playing around with the direction of some stripes would work well for this style and force me to figure out how to match them.  I'm happy to report that I did, in fact, manage to mostly match my stripes.  I've decided that the secret is to cut out the pieces single layer.  Why didn't someone tell me this three years ago?



You may notice that my zip isn't exactly perfect, and I blame it all on the seam binding.  The pattern calls for bias binding to finish all of the raw edges inside the skirt, and boy, does seam binding in a stripe look pretty.



It looks lovely but creates some really thick seam intersections, to the point that I actually couldn't sew over the yoke/skirt back seam at the zipper.  Also, seam binding is absolutely infuriating.  See where I gave up on the side seams?  I hated sewing it on, and I will not be doing it again.  Pinking shears for life.


I have plans for two more versions of this skirt pattern, so I hope the internet isn't tired of seeing it yet.  I'm finding that I like sewing multiples of the same pattern lately.  I like the challenge of making each version look a little different.  What patterns do you enjoy sewing over and over?

Aug 31, 2014

teacher clothes

I'm pretty lucky to be in a profession that does not require that I dress in a narrow, specific sort of way.  Obviously, there are dress code parameters I am expected to follow, but they aren't particularly restricting, mostly just common sense.  If I taught elementary school, I'm sure I would be more concerned about being comfortable at recess duty and sitting on the carpet for circle time.  High school is nice because I can actually wear all those dresses I sew in my everyday life.

For the first day of school, I wanted an outfit that would look a little dressier than usual--first impressions are important, after all.  I went with the Sewaholic Alma blouse and Simplicity 1541.


Can we talk about how wonderfully this skirt turned out?  This is my second 1541 skirt (my first one was a muslin that I wore during me-made-May).  I went with the curvy fit this time with four darts in the back instead of just two and found that no other changes were needed.  I love how this skirt fits.  I used a cotton sateen with a tiny bit of stretch, which is one of my favorite fabrics for skirts, and I added a lining.  The busy pattern obscures the princess seams a bit, but I'm okay with that--this is my favorite handmade skirt so far.


I wish I could say that I love the blouse as much I as I love the skirt.  I love the Alma pattern, and I have another version that turned out really nicely and fits well.  I think the problem lies with my fabric choice.  This fabric was labeled as rayon, and it has a texture similar to crepe.  It shrank like a boss on the first washing, so I washed it again.  However, when I ironed it, it seemed to stretch back out.  Weird.  It's a tiny bit sheer, but I went with the facings anyway, and I keep thinking that I might take it off and use bias tape on the neckline.  This fabric just doesn't behave.  I do like those tiny polka dots though, and it works well for some subtle pattern mixing.


In spite of that unruly rayon, I am still pleased with how this first day of school outfit turned out.  I just hate that Labor Day signals the end of wearing white...or does it?

Aug 24, 2014

back to school

And....we made it through the first week of school.  Big sigh of relief.  Cara went off to kindergarten like a champ, and of course, I cried.  She was so big and awesome sitting in her tiny chair chatting up the little girl next to her.  Her teachers seem like the most wonderful, kind people--actually, everyone I've encountered at Cara's school seems like a kind, wonderful person.  Without a doubt, I know she is in good hands, but I think it's hard to let go at any age. 

I left Cara's school with tears in my eyes and a few on my cheeks, but I didn't have time to think much because I had morning duty in the main lobby of my school on the very first day.  I encountered at least three parents walking in their new freshmen who were so afraid that their babies would be lost or overwhelmed in the big world of high school that they were hesitant to leave.  I hugged one mom, telling her that I completely understood how she felt; I had just left my baby in a new school too.  It's hard to let go at any age.


For Cara's back to school dress, I went with the Oliver and S Jump Rope dress, view B with short sleeves.  I originally bought this fabric with the Library dress in mind, but the Jump Rope dress is such a classic school dress.  I just love the contrast fabric on the pockets, placket, and collar, but it meant that I had to redo the placket when my first attempt looked a bit asymmetrical.  It was an easy fix though.  I also had a bit of trouble with the collar, which is strange because the collar on my first Jump Rope dress went together like a dream.  Fortunately, the less-than-perfect parts are hidden, and I'm not worrying about it.


I don't know if you can tell, but Cara was super-excited for her first day of school.  She actually only went for two days last week, but I can tell those two days took it out of her as this weekend has been a struggle.  I'm sure she'll adjust over the next few weeks (and I'm sure I will too).

Aug 7, 2014

three new skirts

We are t-minus 12 days until Cara starts kindergarten, which means I have twelve days to get her first day of school dress finished up.  However, I understand that, realistically, the girl is going to need some play clothes for school.  Since she is still aspiring to be a princess when she grows up (in fact, she told me yesterday that when she grows up, she's planning to build her castle right next door to my house), she much prefers skirts and dresses--my goal is to make her skirts and dresses perfect for the playground.  I decided to whip up a few skirts to mix and match with Cara's array of t-shirts.  A skirt plus a t-shirt seems like a great play time outfit, if you ask me.

Skirt #1: 


This is another layered skirt based on this tutorial from Made.  Cara loves her polka dot layered skirt so much that making another was a no-brainer.  This skirt is great stashbuster as it takes less than a yard of fabric.  Cara's t-shirt is also handmade.  I used the Oliver and S School Bus T-Shirt, and Cara added the sparkly stencils.  

Skirt #2:


If something works, why not repeat it?  This is another reversible Oliver and S Hula Hoop Skirt in another batik print (see the previous version here).  It's actually the leftover fabric from my third Cambie.  This skirt is such a clever, yet simple design, and the flounce adds quite the satisfying twirl factor.

Skirt #3:


Never fear--not all of Cara's back to school skirts are repeats.  This one is the Oliver and S Music Class Skirt.  I scored about 3 yards of this polka dot stripe fabric at a yard sale.  I love the little pleated inserts on the sides of the skirt, and there are slightly hidden pockets right above the pleats.  This was a really quick project, maybe two hours at most. 

Of course, if Cara's going to wear skirts and dresses to school, she has to stay covered up on the playground.  I went back and forth with myself about whether I should buy a pattern or just draft my own for some leggings.  In the end, lazy won out, and I bought the Oliver and S Playtime Leggings.  This pattern was totally worth the money to me.  Not only is the fit awesome, but I also whipped up three pairs of shorts in an hour!  You can just barely see the bottom of these peeking out from under the Hula Hoop Skirt.


The best thing about these little shorts is that again, all I needed were scraps from some previous knit projects.  I'm thinking we might not buy leggings ever again.

Jul 31, 2014

the butterfly blouse: v1247

Sewing with the Big Four is a very different experience than sewing with independent patterns.  I learned to sew for my kids from Oliver and S, and when I began sewing my own clothing, the Colette Sewing Handbook was the perfect place to start. I have lots of love for Sewaholic patterns these days too.  Independent patterns (at least the ones I've work with) seem to focus more on detailed instructions with diagrams and clear explanations; in fact, this seems like a requirement for success in the independent pattern market.  Obviously, this is a huge benefit to a beginning sewist--when people ask me how to get started sewing, I always recommend that they start with a Colette pattern instead of a Simplicity or Butterick.  That's not to say that all independent patterns are easy, but there seems to be a lot more help in the instructions and on the internet to help someone who gets stuck.

However, I have quite enjoyed sewing my last few projects from Vogue patterns.  Each one presented a new construction method and unique design, and I liked doing something a little different.  For example, this blouse has a pieced section that was interesting to construct, especially with french seams, along with shoulder pleats, bias cuffs, and a narrow curved hem.  I've done all of these things in separate garments before, and combining them meant that this blouse became a bit fiddly--lots of little details to take care of.


Overall, I like this blouse.  The v-neck is dangerously low, but the loose, drapey fit is cool and comfortable in the summer heat.  After reading the many reviews and posts about this pattern, I decided to cut a size 8 instead of the 12 I actually measure for, and I almost wish I had gone with a 6.  To be honest, the fit is not that great.  The bust darts are at least an inch too low, and I think I could stand to take up the shoulders half an inch or so.  The fabric saves the day.  This is an Anna Maria Horner rayon challis, and it is heavenly.  I did a lot of stay stitching on the bottom sections and on the neckline, and I think that helped the bottom section come together easily and drape pretty nicely.  I'm afraid I still managed to stretch out one side of the neckline a tiny bit, but it's not very noticeable.



I'm not sure why there is a seam down the back of the blouse.  Maybe to save fabric?  I'm not sure I will make this blouse again, but if I do, I'll probably eliminate that seam.

The final verdict for me is that I enjoyed the process of sewing this blouse, and I'm sure it will get it's fair share of wear.

This is my awkward model pose.  Enjoy. :-)

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