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!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Seasonal Macarons, Part II: Autumn

So finally, my most recent Macaron. :) She's actually been finished for a good three weeks, but I'm currently lagging a bit with my blogging. Ah well.
At least it means that I still got some pics with the wonderfull fall weather we had this year. Beautiful, isn't it?
As fifth makes go, and since I took the opportunitiy of my Summer Macaron to tweak the bodice further, this dress would have been a pretty fast project - if it hadn't been for my silliness. Note to myself: even if you made something multiple times, it's still a good idea to have a look at the pattern instructions (or think) during construction.

What I did is press both the front and back pleats (yes, including pockets) the wrong way, before attaching the skirt - with pleats facing outside instead of to the middle - to the waistband. Then I tried it on and wondered why it looked way more unflattering than my other Macarons, and why I couldn't really get my hands into the pockets.
I realized this after I had finished my waist seam by serging.
Oh well, fixing didn't take all that long after all, and left me with a Macaron that's fun to wear and fits nicely. The thing I like best about this dress is the feel of the fabric. I totally forgot where I bought it, but it must have been either the Holland fabric market, or the fabric market at Maybachufer. Anyway, even though it's not incredibly drapey, it feels sooo soft and silky. I'm thinking it's rayon, or a cotton-rayon blend, since it feels very stiff when wet, but regains the silky feel when dry.
The hem is blind-stitched by hand, my favorite hem treatment, even though it takes a bit longer than the machine blind hem. But I get to use lace! The yoke, like most of my other Macarons, is made of jersey. And since I finally conquered the twin needle, the sleeves are finished that way.
I also used my edge-stitching foot for the first time! I forgot to take pictures of the bodice where it's stitched to the yoke, but it looks way more pretty and regular than my other versions!
The facts: 
Pattern: Macaron by Colette Patterns, self drafted knit yoke
Fabric: 1.5m of plaid rayon (?) fabric, possibly from a fabric market. Originally intended for a shirt waist, but I like this version better. The jersey is from Hüco, I think.
Notions: A brownish-greyish invisible zipper and some lace band.
Time to complete: Two days.
Alterations (from last iteration): Incorporated the changes to the bodice from my last iteration (shortening the middle of both front and back bodice, and tapering to zero at the side seams. I'm thinking I'm close to the perfect fit now. I also widened the neck a bit.
Techniques used: Invisible zipper, hand-stitched blind hem, edge-stitching the bodice to the yoke, twin-needled sleeve hems. Overlocked seam finish.
And what to do differently next time: It's probably a good idea to interface the waistband that's cut on the bias. Without interfacing, it tends to ripple.
First worn: Right after finishing, and multiple times since then.
I also wore it while finding an amazing new spot for outfit photos! These wings are a sculpture by Mexican artist Jorge Marín, situated right next to the Mexican Embassy in Berlin. They're an "interactive work of art", meant for taking pictures. There are actually similar statues in Mexico City, Tel Aviv and other cities. Cool, right? Now I'm playing with the idea of taking pictures for Christmas cards there. What do you say?

Monday, November 11, 2013

Seasonal Macarons, Part I: Summer

Have I mentioned that I really like the Macaron dress, by Colette Patterns? You probably notice when you have a look into my Handmade Closet, as I have already made three versions. Well, now that number has gone up to five. :)
I'd been thinking about making a Macaron with a lace yoke for practically ever, and have had a small piece of green corded lace in my stash since my visit to Sidney three (three?!) years ago. And when I bought this second hand dress, it immediately screamed "Macaron" at me.

Um, actually it took quite a while longer than that little word implied. For one, I was very intimidated by the idea of working with lace, so it took me a long while to even start cutting. Then I realized that even an A-line maxi dress doesn't contain all that much fabric, so I had to cut the skirt pieces of the dress just a bit smaller. I figured that, since the fabric was just slightly stretchy, it wouldn't matter too much if I also used smaller seam allowances.
I also found out that despite having made the dress three times before, the bodice really didn't fit very well. That may be partly because of the fact that this hawaii print is particularly drapey, much more so than the other fabrics I used. Also, each of my other three Macarons has a differently modified bodice. The first was more or less a wearable muslin, on which I used tucks and darts until it fit me the way I liked. I converted my changes into a bodice with princess seams for version number two, since I liked that style better with the plaid fabric on bias grain that I used. For version three, I again changed the princess seams into darts, and that one seems to fit all right, but it's a sturdy quilting cotton.

What you're seeing here is the final version of my Summer Macaron, which actually fits nicely. But I had to shorten the bodice by quite a bit, especially in the middle, and since I had already put in a zipper, I just seam-ripped the bodice from the waistband and took out a curved slice, going from about 3cm in the front and 2cm in the back, tapering to nothing at the side seams. Now it looks a little funny on the hanger, but since it's the hang on the body that is important - who cares. ;)
I have almost fixed the issue for my second seasonal Macaron - the fall version. Which I'll show you soon.
The facts: 
Pattern: Macaron by Colette Patterns, self drafted knit yoke
Fabric: Thrifted maxi A-line dress. I suspect it's a rayon, since the fabric feels very soft and drapes well. I also suspect the dress was home-sewn, since it doesn't have any labels and some of the stitching looked that way. Also a small piece of bright green corded lace from The Fabric Store in Sydney and some leftover Elvis print quilting cotton (from a Wal*mart in Bowling Green, Kentucky)  for the pockets.
Notions: Some yellow bias tape that I got from Maider, to get a more secure stitching between lace yoke and bodice. Green invisible zipper.
Time to complete: About three months between start and finish. Actual stitching time: not all that long.
Alterations (from last iteration): Shortened the front and back bodice by 3 and 2cm, respectively, tapering to nothing at the side seams. skirt pieces are about 2cm slimmer on top,  but I straightened the tulip skirt a bit, to better use the border print..
Techniques used: Invisible zipper, machine blind hem, lace yoke bound with lace strips (like with bias tape), yoke and shoulder seams faced with bias tape. Overlocked seam finish.
First worn: Not yet, actually, since I only finished it a few weeks ago. The hawaii print screams summer to me, so I probably won't wear it until in a few months...

Funny how, even though the Macaron is not your usual basic dress pattern, I've managed to accrue five versions of it, and can see a few more in my wardrobe without problems. I'd really like a warm, cozy one in a nice wool fabric. Or maybe a sweatshirt fabric and jersey combination, with long sleeves. And now I've gotten (kinda) over my fear of lace, I'm thinking it would also make a perfect LBD with a black lace yoke! 

Do you tend to make multiple versions of you patterns? Which patten have you used the most?

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Fun With Colour Blocking

So, this may be a slightly unconventional make for me.
Or is it? Well, for one, it doesn't have a midriff band. And I don't sew a lot with black as the main(ish) colour. And I'm not quite into colour blocking with princess seams.

Then again, it's a jersey dress. It's partly torquoise.
It's also a Lola.
Well, a Lola without the pockets, with a lower neckline, an altered neckline band, eliminated waist seam and no bottom band. And colour blocking.

It's also a Star Trek uniform.
And as such, my Hallowe'en costume for this year. :D It's not quite "historically correct" (for one, this type of "skant" uniform was worn in the early 2360s, but then the science division colour was still a medium blue, not the torquoise of about 10 years later) but the torqouise jersey was a remnant I had still lying around.

I'm glad I finally have a proper uniform, and one that is almost inconspicious enough to be worn outside of costume parties. With either Trill spots or Vulcan pointed ears, since I can't very well pull off the Betazoid look with my short hair. ;)

Do you occasionally want to look like a character out of a SciFi movie/series? If so, who?