Monday, December 30, 2013

Sew Ver(it)y Green

I have to say, I'm not sure if I am a very good Sewcialist. I don't have a facebook page, I still haven't quite gotten the hang of hanging around on Twitter, and my i*phone is so old that it doesn't support Instagram (it takes almost a minute to load Twitter, which may be part of the problem)... And anyway, I kinda like the old-fashioned blogging stuff. ;) But anyway. This Sewcialist thing is rather fun. Especially since we're sewing a rainbow!
I was a bit late for #redoctober (my Looks Like Christmas dress was an early December make), but I managed to sew #greendecember in time! I actually had three projects planned, but the other two didn't quite turn out like I wanted. They may be refashioned/altered at some point...

Anyway, on to my Ver(it)y Green December dress!
The facts: 
Pattern: Verity Dress by Moxie Patterns
Fabric: 2m of green wooly sweater knit fabric from the Maybachufer fabric market.
Notions: none
Time to complete: a couple of hours, plus another hour for hemming.
Techniques used: The seams are overlocked, the sleeves and hem are turned under and hand-stitched.
Alterations: I took a couple of centimeters out of the back bodice, midriff band and skirt, tapering to nothing at theneckline. After trying it on, I realized that the fabric was pretty heavy, especially since the skirt is nice and full, and the weight was dragging the fabric down a lot. Like, the midriff band sat on my hips. So I eliminated it, and since I didn't want to do the bust gathers again, I made them into box pleats instead. The midriff seam still sits a bit low for my taste, but it's alright, I guess. I cut the neckline higher than in the pattern, since I figured that the lower neckline was my mistake last time with the split collar. This one sits nicely and I may add a couple of big green buttons that Maider gifted me a while ago.
First worn: To a Christmas party with my friends.
Thoughts: I love the fabric, it's so cozy and warm and a perfect shade of blue-ish green! I also really like the split collar and full semicircle skirt. :)
How's your holiday going? I had a lovely and relaxing Christmas with my family, and now some friends from Berlin are visiting us here in the country to celebrate New Year's with Raclette and Fondue. Yum.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Sewing Reflections - Top 5 Hits&Misses

Another year over, and now it's time for this year's sewing reflections! ;) 
Gillian thought up these top 5 and made a lovely banner, so instead of randomly rambling about my year, I'll join in the lists!

Misses (in chronological order):
1. The Mad Men Dress - This is a fail because of the fabric, a mustard polka-dot sweater knit from Girlcharlee. It's partly transparent and shows every bump, but worst of all, it pills like crazy. I've worn it three times, and tried to shave away the pilling with my lint shaver after the second wear, but it didn't help at all, after another wear it looks the same as before.
2. An unblogged refashion of a thrifted polka-dot dress. I wanted to make a little sundress from the fabric, but after cutting the dress apart I realized that there wasn't enough fabric, not even for a little skirt. Too many seams in the original garment. I guess this means I have to think harder when thrifting garments for refashion! Since the pieces were tiny and the fabric a rather transparent poly, I chucked it in the recycling bin...
3. The floral Verity - I guess I can call this one a partial miss. I cut off the split collar that was too small for my taste and bound the neckline with a black contrast band instead, and it looks nice, but the fabric is a pretty cheap cotton jersey from (again) Girlcharlee, and apart from the fact that it has little recovery and that the print is almost paint-like in its inflexibility... I guess I just don't like the (white) fabric on me. Since it's a good dress otherwise, it's going to be donated.
4. My misses number three and four have actually not been photo documented yet. The one is a tunic with split collar made from a green chunky knitted lace fabric. I traced the tunic from an RTW one I really like, but the lace knit fabric is way stretchier than the original garment, so it turned out huge. HUGE! I had hoped for a nice and quick project for Sew Green December, but while it's probably salvagable, by now I'm not sure if I like the fabric at all...

5. And number five is another Sew Green December project! A self-drafted skirt with suspenders, made from the loveliest dark green cotton sateen. It fell prey to the enemy of all good sewing - a deadline! I wanted to wear it for our office Christmas party (and I did), but the fit is wonky, as is the buttonhole placement on the suspenders, the zipper insertion, the pleat placement... I love the fabric and style of the skirt a lot, so maybe I'll work on fixing it in the new year. :)

Is there a conclusion to be learned from my misses? Number one is definitely to stick with good fabric. Fabric that I like, that looks good on me, that doesn't pill or get pulled out of shape. This probably requires staying away from online shopping. ;) So, no more cheap, low quality fabric next year! Also, it's a good idea to take my time. Especially when drafting. And to make a muslin. And to think about what I'm doing. Right?

Now, enough about the misses and on to the hits!

Hits (in chronological order):

1. Lola - I'm counting my Lolas as one, because they are both fabulous, and I love them equally. They are just incredibly comfy and get worn a lot. A LOT! :)
2. The green corduroy Simplicity 2451 - I tend to make a lot more dresses than skirts, but along with an old denim mini skirt, this one gets worn a lot. It goes with most of my tops and I love the cheery green colour.
3. The lacy Tiramisu - this one was a staple during all of spring and summer, a great comfy dress with just a bit of elegance. I really like the faux-wrap neck and the lacy midriff, as well as the wide swishy skirt! I'm definitely going to revisit this pattern come spring!

4. The Exam Rooibos - I'm very pleased with my modified Rooibos version. It's a bit slimmer than my previous versions, and the blue wool with white piping look pretty very nice if I may say so. I've worn the dress to my oral board exam and to all of my job interviews, and always felt pretty and professional in it!
5. The Looks Like Christmas dress - this one is only a few weeks old, but I've worn it at least a couple of times every week since making it, and almost every day during the holidays! It's warm and comfy, and even though the fabric was a pretty good bargaign at 5€/m, it doesn't pill at all! I'm also thinking that it must have some wool content, because it doesn't attract smells at all.
So, I guess it looks like comfy made my day this year. I really did sew mostly knits and hardly any wovens. We'll see how that changes now that I'll be expected to wear office appropriate garments 5 days of the week!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Looks Like Christmas Dress

Oh look, another dress! Somehow, I've been very productive in the last couple of months, and I don't even know why. Possibly because I've used mostly simple patterns, that I had already made before. And I do still have a lot of free time at the moment... A good thing, too, since I probably won't get a lot done once I start my job for real in January. Maybe I should stretch my backlog of finished garments over the first few months of 2014...? Well, maybe not. Anyway, here's another sweater dress.
The facts: 
Pattern: Ottobre  05/2008-14, the raglan-sleeved knit top, plus a thin rectangle for the midriff band and the skirt from my self-drafted knit dress pattern.
Fabric: 1.5m of soft (polycotton?) sweater knit fabric plus a bit of white cotton jersey from the Maybachufer fabric market.
Notions: none
Time to complete: a couple of hours.
Techniques used: Nothing fancy. Most of the seams are overlocked, the hem and sleeves are turned under and stitched with a wide twin needle.
Alterations: Originally the midriff band was wider, bit it seemed out of place so I cut off the lower seam, cut it in half and stitched it again.
First worn: To a Christmas party with my friends.

While I was stitching, I actually thought that the print might be a bit of Christmas overload, and more suitable for a small girl, but having worn it, I don't think it's too much. The print is mostly geometric, with those little flowers/stars in between, and while it does look a bit dirndl like, the nicely drapey half-circle skirt and lack of apron take it away from a too-folksy look. Plus, the fabric is very cozy, and even though it feels like it would pill a lot, it doesn't! (Yet.) So, definitely a win in my book. Even though the hem isn't quite level. Oh well.

I think I may like raglan sleeves just a bit better than the usual version. I have a feeling that they fit better. Well, fit me better. How about you? Do you prefer raglan sleeves or regular ones?

PS: As you may have seen, I finally caved and installed Disqus for comments. I've been playing with the idea for ages, because I like that you get notified when you get replies on your comments (I've never quite understood why blogger doesn't have this feature). On the other hand, I had problems with Disqus not loading in my browser for a while, but that bug has been fixed for over a year now. So, if you have problems commenting, feel free to drop me a line via email or Twitter, alright?

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Cozy Polka Dots

If you ask me what my favorite pattern was this year, I think I'd have to say it was Victory Pattern's Lola. Which probably says a lot about my lifestyle right now, because it's such a perfectly comfy, slightly sporty and casual but still kinda feminine sweater dress. And yes, this is the fifth version I have made this year. Except for the Star Trek Lola (which, after all, is a costume), all of them have been worn very frequently. You could say this one rounds out the year nicely, because I made a Coral Lola for spring, a striped, short-sleeved Lola for summer and a lacy, long-sleeved one for autumn. Now I've made a fleece version for the depth of winter. And boy, is it cozy.
The facts:
Pattern: Lola by Victory Patterns, Size 8Fabric: 2m of polka dot fleece fabric, from the website, plus some ribbed black fabric for the neckline, sleeve and hem bands, bought at the Maybachufer fabric market.Notions: noneTime to complete: a couple of hours, tops.Techniques used: Most of the construction was done on my overlocker, apart from attaching the sleeve cuffs, basting the pockets to the main skirt and turning under the rim of the pocket, which were done on my regular machine.Alterations: I lengthened the sleeves to full length.First worn: Actually not much except for the photos, since we haven't had freezing temperatures yet.
The only issue I have with it is that I neglected to widen the sleeves a bit. The fleece has some give, but it's not really stretchy and while my arms do fit into the sleeves, they are pretty tight. Not tight enough to restrict, actually, but since the fleece is so warm, my arms get quite hot. I've been thinking about inserting a small strip of fabric into the sleeve seam, just a couple of centimeters wide. Even if it's noticable, this is mostly a lounge dress anyway - so who cares, right?
Hehe, my dress matches the pillow...

Monday, December 16, 2013

A Hawthorn for Autumn

This dress was quite a while in the making. I think it was cut out almost six weeks ago, and the pdf pattern has been assembled (with the bodice pieces shortened, even!) for more than two months. But the usual stuff happened: real life and me not being in the mood to cut out the interfacing. Then I did cut it out, and assembled most of the dress in a few hours one day maybe three weeks ago? But then buttonholes loomed. And you're supposed to let an almost-circleskirt hang for a few days. And then I decided to get a skirt marker. And a rolled hem foot. And then I logically had to wait for them to arrive. But they did, eventually, and so this dress was finished. Yes, including 12 buttonholes, and 12 hand-attached buttons. And with a 3-step rolled hem, because I couldn't figure out how to use the foot correctly with the curved hem. But anyway - yay for stories with happy endings, right? ;)
The facts:
Pattern: Hawthorn by Colette Patterns
Fabric: 2m of checkered cotton from the Stoffmarkt Holland
Notions: 12 purple buttons and some fusible interfacing
Time to complete: after tracing and cutting out, it actually came together pretty quickly. Maybe 2h for stitching and another three for stitching the button holes, buttons and hemming.
bound armholes and overlocked facings
Techniques used: Seams and facings are finished by overlocking, the armholes are bound with selfmade bias tape, the button holes are machine stitched (twice), and I did a rolled hem using the tutorial by Megan Nielsen (which I'm sure was way faster in the end than trying to find out how to use that foot on a curved hem...
First attempt at a rolled hem with the rolled hem foot. Pretty, right...? I think I need a lot more practice...
Alterations: I shortened the bodice using the Red Velvet Torso Length Guide by Cake Patterns
First worn: Out to an evening at the theater.
Will you make it again? With my track record, I'm petty sure I will. Possibly as a blouse, too.
Will you do anything different next time? Well - do you see how the front of the dress seems shorter than the back? It isn't, really (I used that skirt marker), so it's probably a fit problem. I'm thinking it may have to do with either rounded shoulders or a short upper bust or something. I'm also thinking that this version might need belt loops...
So, have you conquered any new techniques recently? And what's your favorite machine foot?

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Lacy Lola

We recently enjoyed a couple of sunny days in midst of this grey winter weather, which I used to take some pictures of my unblogged projects. This is Lacy Lola, my new favorite dress! If I wasn't just slightly afraid that the stretch lace panels won't tolerate frequent washing, I'd honestly wear it every day. :D It's endlessly comfy and, being a sweater dress, kinda sporty casual, but the lace panels abd combination with tights and boots take it almost into the dressy category. Well, casual dressy. ;)
It's losely inspired by a dress that Zoe posted about a while ago. I definitely wanted to combine sweater fabric and lace in a sweater dress, but was guessing that the yoke might not work so well with the princess seams. I was also contemplating lace in a contrast colour, but after finding a jersey that matched my lace so well, in a colour that might reasonably be called my favorite, Lacy Lola was a done deal. I'm already wondering if I can't find a few more matching lace-and-sweater-fabric combinations (maybe including a couple of contrast pairings), and make one for every day of the week...
The facts:
Pattern: Lola by Victory Patterns, Size 8
Fabric: 2m of teal jersey fabric, from the Turkish fabric market at the Maybachufer plus a bit of teal stretch lace that I bought in Italy.
Notions: none
Time to complete: a couple of hours, tops.
Techniques used: Most of the construction was done on my overlocker, apart from attaching the sleeve cuffs, basting the pockets to the main skirt and turning under the rim of the pocket, which were done on my regular machine.
Alterations: I used size 8 again, since it was what I had traced, even though my measurements suggest size 10 but I like the close fit. For this version, I lengthened the sleeves to full length, also widening them a bit in the process, since the sleeves on my first version are a bit snug. I cut the pockets twice, once in the regular fabric and once in the lace, basted them together on both sides and then treated them as one.
First worn: On the drive to visit my parents, then to a wine tasting and loads since.
Silly detail: I had originally bought 1.2m of the fabric, with the Lola in mind, since I managed to cut my very first version from 1m of sweater fabric, but had to slim down the bands a bit for lack of fabric. Unfortunately, this teal fabric must have been a lot less wide than the coral one (I'm guessing 1.40m vs. 1.60m), which means I ran out of fabric before having cut out any of the side pieces... Luckily, the market stall still had the exact fabric left, so I could buy another metre. Note to myself: be more generous (realistic?) when buying fabric!

So, what do you think about sweater dresses? Is there a Lola in your future? (I actually have one more finished and another on the planning board...)

Monday, December 2, 2013

A bit of this and a bit of that

Heh, this is a post quite a while in the making. Rather pointlessly, it's been even longer because I didn't know what to title it. Yes, procrastination has me that firmly in her grip. ;)

Actually, it's just a few odds and ends that I wanted to show you. Like they crop up from time to time.

Like finally taking the time to get some order into my sewing nook, which included finally de-linting and oiling my machine (it runs so much more smoothly now)...
(There's still a lot of stuff in boxes and bags around my dress form, but the table itsself is a lot more orderly, and I put my yarn and crafting stuff into some boxes, and now all my patterns and books are in one place...)

I also got on a bit of a shopping spree on e*bay for the plaid dress you can see above. It's a Colette Hawthorn, which features and almost-circle skirt, so I finally went on the lookout for some things I'd been meaning to acquire for a while: a rolled hem foot and a skirt marker.
I got the rolled hem foot as part of a lot, which includes (as far as I could determine) a satin stitch foot, two different pintuck feet, a quarter inch foot, a couple of zipper feet and a few more that I'll have to research. After recently finding out how to use the edge stitch foot that came with my grandma's machine for both edge stitching and blind-hemming, I'm totally looking forward to trying these out!
The same goes for this skirt marker. I'm not sure how old it is, but the typeset used in the manual suggests it was made sometime in the 50s. And there's still some chalk powder in there!

I've also been doing some knitting. Since I seem to lose about one mitten a year, I made these Leaving Cuffs for myself.
I had to stitch the thumbs in red yarn, since I didn't have enough yarn. I'm very glad I could even finish the second mitt! I added thumbs to the pattern, as you can see in my Ravelry notes.

I also bought some yarn for a Christmas gift and while I was at the shop, treated myself to a Zauberball.
I've started on the Christmas gift, which is a Percy shawl, and I'm hoping to actually finish it before Christmas... At least this time around, I'm using fingering weight yarn instead of lace yarn, which is probably the only reason I've made it past the set-up chart. Actually, by now I've almost finished chart A! ;) The other reason could be that the alpaca silk mix is just so nice to the touch...
I'll leave you with an outfit pic from last weekend's visit home. It features my new Espresso leggings. :) Look, Winnie, print-mixing! Though rather of the conservative variety... ;)

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Triple Espresso

Sooo, I'm guessing you've already heard about the Espresso hype? I'm not talking about the tiny but strong black Italian coffee, of course (although it's delicious, too) - I'm talking about Cake Patterns' Espresso Leggings pattern. Have you seen Gillians's black Espresso? Or Dixie's grey leggings?
The pattern is actually more of a template, taking measurements like your waist circumference, thigh, knee and ankle circumference, front and back crotch height and leg length to construct a pattern that's guaranteed to fit you well!
Being only one pattern piece, cut twice, that is made into a garment by  sewing three seams and attaching a piece of elastic, it's one of the quickest and most satisfying makes, ever. And since I found quite a few nice lengths of knit fabric on my last trip to the fabric market, I managed to make myself a triple dose of Espresso in one afternoon.

Version #1: Black Espresso
The facts: 
Pattern: Espresso by Cake Patterns
Fabric: 1.2m of black cotton jersey fabric, with a bit of lycra, from the Turkish fabric market at the Maybachufer.
Notions: 2.5cm wide elastic for the waistband, from the same fabric market.
Time to complete: Under an hour.

Techniques used: I used my overlock machine for the construction and followed the pattern instructions to the letter. The back is tagged and the waistband is turned down and sewn with a small zigzag, the hems are twin-needled.
And what to do differently next time: The pattern fits pretty well, although it feels a tiny bit baggy in the crotch area. I wasn't quite sure if it's because I tend to wear my RTW leggings with quite a bit of negative ease, but after reading the tips on the Cake website, I re-measured my thigh circumference and it turns out, my first measurement was too big the first time (maybe because the measuring guide lets you measure it over a piece of elastic). Next time I'll go down a size there, which will probably make the fit perfect.
First worn: A bit around the house and during sewing the other two versions.

Version #2: Espresso Macchiato
Espresso macchiato is Espresso dotted with a bit of milk foam, and these leggings are made from black polka-dotted fabric. :) Construction followed almost the same steps as the black version, with the exception that I only had 1m of fabric.
The fabric turned out to have enough lengthwise stretch that it wouldn't have made a difference, which I only noticed after attaching a fold-over waistband, which turned out to be a bit too high... ;) It's a good safe if you don't have enough fabric, though: I cut a length of fabric twice as wide as I wanted my waistband to be and as long as the waist of the leggings, then sewed together the short sides, attached the elastic in the same way as the pattern instructions (e.g. sew it to the waistband at the CF and CB) and then folded it left sides together and overlocked it to the leggings (like attaching binding on a knit top, like the Sewaholic Renfrew top).

Version #3: Espresso Lounge
... or I guess Lounge Espressos would fit better. ;) My old pair of Yoga pants is about 7 years old and slowly developing holes, so I wanted to make a replacement. Espresso, with it's nicely fitting waist and crotch area seemed perfect, so I widened the legs and cut it in a sweatshirt fabric, one of those thicker ones that are used in RTW hoodies.
It's a lot less stretchy than the jerseys I used, but the fit is still pretty good. The only thing I forgot is that hoody fabric tends to shrink in length a lot... and that the leggings were designed to be ankle length only. They turned out pretty short, so I attached a folded hem band to the legs. It's almost unnoticable, except for the fact that they are still a little short... I just hope they don't shrink much more in the wash.
Turned-over waistband and folded hem band. Also: tag!
Although if they do, I guess I have a good excuse to make another replacement, maybe in a louder colour, or with polka dots or a flower print or stripes... ;) 

I'm thinking that there are going to be quite a few Espressos in my future. My dream is a pair made from Merino knit fabric, for winter (Cake creator StephC made this gorgeous version in pink!) but I'm still looking for a fabric source. I also wouldn't mind some colourful polka-dot versions. And definitely a flower print, come spring!

What would be your perfect leggings fabric? Have you ever attempted to make leggings yourself?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Polka-dots for the Living-room

A couple of weeks ago we had our one-year anniversary of moving into our current apartment. :D So, after living here for one year, we thought a bit about optimizing our living arrangements. The stuff you never really think about, you know, like the unadorned-by-a-lampshade lightbulb, the stuff that's piled on the sideboard in the hall, the missing curtains... Anyway, we took a trip to IKEA, getting a shoe rack that can be used as a bench, a couple of bookshelves (a small one for my yarn and sewing stuff, and a high one for the office room), a new armchair... And I finally got some fabric to make new covers for our chairs.

We inherited our chairs from my parents, they must be at least 15 years old and they're still sturdy, but their covers are pretty rough and faded after that time. I had some white slipcovers for a shile, but they didn't quite fit and anyway, white isn't a practical colour for a chair. So finally, after thinking about it for months, I made new covers!
The old chair with and without the old cover. The chair cover is actually removable and interchangable, like with most IKEA chairs. But, they don't carry this design anymore.
So I just took off the old cover and took it apart. Look how faded it is! It's just two pieces, plus a bit of velcro to attach it to the chair. I made pattern pieces from the cover, so I could throw it away recycle it.
I'm glad to say that it only took a few hours to recover three of the five chairs we have. I made my often-repeated mistake of buying too little fabric, so I will have to wait until the next trip to IKEA to re-cover the other two. Oh well. The fabric I used is HILDIS, which is 6 €/m and I used about 1m per chair, plus about 1m of velcro, so the cover came to 8€ each. Pretty good, since the covers for Henriksdal (the successor of our chair, we have two of them, the plain red ones below) go for 19 €.
And here are the finished chairs. Yay for polka-dots!