Sunday, 21 December 2014

Fourteen and a half!

Hello there! Yes, I'm still sewing away in my little corner of the universe, but the time sure has been flying by. To get me back into the swing of things, I thought I'd share one of my favourite recent makes, McCall's 3074, a "Pounds Thinner" pattern.

Vintage patterns hadn't held much appeal for me until recently. I'm not 100% sure where I picked up this little tidbit, but somewhere along the line, I learned about the half size patterns of the 1960's and 70's - patterns drafted not only to be petite, lengthwise, but a bit more generous through the middle, and with a lower bust. Basically, these patterns were drafted with my figure in mind. At 5'7, I'm not petite, but I'm certainly short waisted, and after shortening bodices, I usually need to expand the waistline of patterns by a size or two. I get around this a lot of the time by choosing straighter cuts, which I love, but I couldn't resist the siren call of the half size sewing pattern!

And judging from this post from Dress a Day, I'm not alone. Okay, on to the dress.

This is View A, without the collar. There is are seams centre front and back, and seaming diagonally to shape the bust. The back also has a seam at the waist, as well as darts, and opens with a zip centre back.

 The fabric is an amazing quilted knit that I first spotted over on Sewaholic last year. Check out Tasia's post for loads of tips on how to deal with these fun quilted knits, it's excellent. At any rate, when visiting out west last summer, I found the last couple of metres on the bolt at Fabricana, and I was over the moon. This was the fabric the pattern had been waiting for, and it all came together beautifully.

The fabric is very thick, and doesn't really press at all, so the centre front neck is a bit bulky. I trimmed the seams as close as I dared, and really gave it a good whack with the iron, and it's not bad. I also put in an invisible zip, because I prefer them. I find I get a reliably neater finish, and I enjoy putting them in.

Top stitching!

I top stitched all the seams, except the centre back - I didn't want to draw attention to the zip, just have it blend right in. The hems and facings are cross stitched in place, since the fabric has a fused backing, perfect for invisible tacking.

This was a really fun and satisfying project, and I love this dress! I've even snatched up a few more half-size dress patterns to try the next time the vintage bug bites. 

Thanks for stopping by - and Merry Christmas!

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Work Out! Pneuma Tank

So, this summer I switched up my exercise routine a bit. And by switch up, I mean restart - this past winter was one of the least active seasons of my adult life! What better way to boost my chances of hitting the gym (or in this case, barre - very fun) than a new outfit?

I have always liked to have a put together outfit for the gym/yoga studio/step class or whatever my current routine may be. Not necessarily a fancy outfit, but something that makes me feel like I'm dressed for the occasion. Some of my older pieces were starting to actually wear out, so it really was perfect timing that Papercut Patterns stepped into the work out wear arena.

This is the Pneuma Tank, from Papercut's TRI collection. And, exciting for those of us who live far from New Zealand, it is available as a downloadable pattern. Instant gratification time! And this little number stitches up quickly, too. It really didn't want to be photographed, so there aren't too many pics, but it was a fun project.

The tank hems were finished using the rolled hem stitch on the serger - quick and tidy.

I made a size small, with the tank portion in a medium, and I'm so glad I did. The bra portion fits quite well, although at a fairly full C cup, I could use just another 1/2" in length in the front so that the band fits more comfortably under my bust. After checking over the measurements, I went with the medium tank, to make sure that the fabric would skim over, not cling to, my stomach. I also decided to fully line the bra portion with the same fabric for additional coverage and support. And speaking of support, for the no impact classes I've been doing (barre/pilates/yoga), it is definitely adequate. I was pleasantly surprised! I'd want more support for anything else, but this is very comfy for what I'm up to.

The only other alteration I made was to shorten the back tank from the top - I lifted it by about 3/4" in a quick and easy sway back adjustment.

Oh, and as an additional treat for myself, I decided to make fabric straps using the three thread coverstitch feature on my serger. Want to see the test runs? Of course you do…

Left: folded in thirds and fed through normally
Centre: folded in thirds with extra on the right hand side
Right: folded in thirds with extra on the left had side - result!

Since the feed dogs of the serger are on left side, the best way to stitch the straps was to fold them in thirds with some extra fabric on the left edge for the feed dogs to grip, and trim it off later. I don't have a belt loop attachment for my serger, but I sure would have liked one while wrestling with these guys - making them probably took as long as all the other steps put together.

And now for some fabric notes. Both the purple and grey came from Peak Fabrics in Calgary. If you're looking for performance fabrics in Canada (or elsewhere, I think they will ship internationally), I would recommend giving them a try. I ordered 5 sample cards and now have swatches for a huge variety of yoga-type knits. After much debate, I chose three fabrics, and I'm pleased with them all. The purple is really sturdy (it's called Extreme Stretch!), good for tops or bottoms, and the grey is a lighter weight (LLL Yoga Wear Dryflex), perfect for my tank, and I have more to make into a tee to wear with existing sports bras, or heck, a whole wardrobe of Pneuma tanks! The fabrics I bought ranged from $16-$18 per metre, but for athletic wear that takes a beating, totally worth it.

It's been in regular rotation for a few weeks now, and is holding up really well.  I've even had a couple of unsolicited compliments from my fellow gym goers, a nice boost to the sewing ego!

Although it's a lovely day here today, this just about marks the end of my summer sewing. But I'll be back next week to let you know how my One Week, One Pattern went!

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Seasonally Appropriate: Simplicity 1652

While it is pretty common knowledge that I am all about the separates, there is still room in my life for dresses, on occasion. Take summer, for instance. There really is something to be said for the sun dress, easy, cool, one piece dressing that doesn't necessarily have to coordinate with the rest of ones' closet. Fun!

Hmm. My head is a bit fuzzy, but the dress looks pretty good...

Enter Simplicity 1652. I know, many of you out there knock out princess seamed full skirted beauties on a regular basis, but for me, this was somewhat of a departure. I bought the pattern with something else entirely in mind (check out this lovely!) However, I had this fabric kicking around, and I thought I would just take a chance on something a bit different.

This is an Amazing Fit pattern, and the instructions have you choose your cup size, baste the dress together, and fit from there. Well, I made a muslin of the bodice, and I am so glad I did. I originally cut the size 14 C cup, which fits my bust to waist section pretty well, but is far too large above the apex., including across front width. If I do come back to this pattern, I'm going to try the B cup, and let it out below the apex instead. So here is what I did, in case you are curious…

Made a 3/4" narrow shoulder adjustment (this tutorial is nice and clear) to the centre front bodice piece.
Made a corresponding adjustment to the upper back piece, also taking out a large wedge from the middle of the piece that I pinned out of my muslin.
Lowered the armholes by 1/2", as they were far too high and tight.
The pattern has the armholes finished with a folded bias strip, but it just wouldn't sit well, particularly at the side front armhole, so I doubled back and drafted a facing instead. It makes for a lot of busy-ness inside, but it sits much better than the binding.
Took in 1/2" either side of the centre back zip, grading to nothing at the waist.
Overlapped the button at the back neck, instead of having the closure right on the edge.
For me, this is a long list! Fitting a princess seam is very different from fitting my usual boxy pieces.

This pattern included very generous 1" seam allowances at the side seam, which was helpful, as I am a bit wider through the torso than the 14, which is the largest size in this grouping. I ended up using a regular 5/8" seam allowance at the bodice sides, but on the back at the underarm I took it in to use the full 1".

In other news, I did not shorten the bodice, as I usually have to do, since the waist seam sits "above the natural waist". In my case, right on the natural waist. Bonus! And, the skirt was long enough without having to add length. However, I have worn this dress twice out in the real world, and I think I need to lengthen the front somewhere above the apex, as I keep tugging it down to get the seam to sit properly. Oh, and I also shifted the gathering of the skirt front so that my stripes would line up. I didn't really take that into consideration when cutting, so it was a bit of a lucky thing there.

Want to see the insides? Of course you do.

And yes, I lined the bodice, and in hindsight I suppose I could have done some sort of clean finish armhole. However, the facing is already looking a bit, oh, how to say this, sweaty. For a summer dress, a facing can be a bit of a life saver. Or at least a dress saver.

My final words of wisdom for this pattern - definitely make a muslin first - that narrow shoulder adjustment was extreme!

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Shorts Again!

Hello! Well, it's the middle of summer, and this week is shaping up to be a hot one! Good thing I finished a new pair of shorts last week, round three for me with the Grainline Maritime shorts pattern. My first pair fit well, but I knew I could do better with the pockets, so here they are.

I've had this fabric for well over ten years, making it easily the oldest fabric in my stash, so even with a pattern that we all know and love, I thought it fitting that they have their own post! I only bought one metre, and it was just enough for these shorts. There wasn't enough to worry about pattern matching, but I did try and a least keep the motif somewhat balanced. I had been wearing these shorts all weekend, so they are a bit wrinkled, but it's not as obvious in person, I hope.

I kept the additional 1" that I had added to the rise, but remembered to move the pockets up so that they were the same depth as originally drafted, instead of weirdly long from the waistband to the pocket opening. I laid the fronts onto my tailoring ham to mimic the hip curve before basting the heck out of them to avoid the pulling and puckering that plagued my original pair. I've added to the length again, since my first pair have a tendency to ride up at the inner thigh (not really a good look).

And the back pockets - I swapped them out for single welt pockets. Partially because I wanted a slightly dressier feel to these shorts, but also because I had no fabric left to cut my fly shield and facing! I had to sacrifice one patch pocket for those pieces, and scrounge a few scraps for the welts and facings. Right after I finished them, this post from Katy & Laney appeared in my feed, so if you'd like to give welts a try, check it out! I like to extend my pocket bags into the waistband, a la men's trousers, here's a shot of the insides.

Rare inside shot!
A simple project, for sure, but a satisfying one. And a good use for this much prized piece of cloth, I think.

Back out to the sunshine!

Saturday, 31 May 2014

Spring Wardrobe Building: Burda 7250/115

Hello and welcome to parts three and four of my Me Made May experiment, four garments in four weeks. This week, it's a two for one deal, two items, one post - efficiency! And also, last minute!

Let's begin with the trousers, shall we? Behold Burda 7250. I've been looking forward to some patterned pleated front casual pants for a long time, and decided to take the plunge. Sara was good enough to show me the link to this pattern on the German site, since my local pattern shop was fresh out, and I found some great fabric at Fabricland, so away I went.

I have made a similar (unblogged, sorry!) pair of Burda trousers in the past, and I'm pretty sure they were a size 42, so that's what I used this time. Well, I should have sized down, and by the time I realized the error of my ways, the pockets were in, and I just didn't have the heart to go back. I attempted to take in the excess at the centre back waist & seat, but i just couldn't get rid of enough excess fabric, and I am left with some unsightly drag lines and a baggy bum. 

Side seam - not at sides!

These are not gang signs.  High waisted alert!

In other pattern notes, I shortened the rise by about 1 1/4", and the waistband still covers my navel! And I have a long rise! Also, uncharacteristically, I made no attempt to pattern match from the front to the back. Sigh. So, not an amazing garment. I'm calling this a wearable muslin. They are comfy, and I probably will wear them around the house this summer, but I can't help but be disappointed.

The fabric, however, I love. It's from a Japanese batik collection currently at Fabricland in with the quilting cottons. Most of the patterns were more floral, this was the most geometric pattern. I suspect this is actually the wrong side of the fabric, but it's the side I liked best. 

Now, on to the more successful half of this outfit, Burda blouse 115 from the 04/2014 magazine. 

This is a really fun top, with overlapping front panels (yes, they largely stay put, as long as it's not too windy). You can find the pattern here, and some really lovely versions at Top Notch and Little Betty Sews

Of course, after the sizing issues with the pants, I double checked the measurements of this pattern and chose size 38. Naturally, I could have easily made up the 40, but although snug, it fits, so let's just leave it there. The only change I made to the pattern was to lengthen it by about 2" after comparing it to some favourite tops in my closet. I wanted it to cover the waistband of my jeans, since I'm not interested in baring my stomach! If I were to make another one, I would size up, for sure. And possibly use the centre back seam, which I overlooked in the pattern cutting layout.

The fabric is a nice medium weight cotton chambray via my stash, originally from King Textiles. I had 2 yards of 45" wide fabric, and it was the perfect amount. I had to piece my neck binding, but I don't have that annoying half yard left over as with so many projects!

All in all, I think my mini-challenge was a success, I have 3 wearable garments and 1 pair of house pants to show for my efforts, and I have been keeping up with me-mades 5 days a week. As I've said earlier, documenting was just not in the cards this year, you'll just have to trust me!

The wearing tally for my new pieces so far:

Butterick 5826 white blouse - 3 wears - I can see this one going the distance, for sure.
Burda 7250 blue trousers - 2 wears (both out of the house, maybe there is hope yet?)
Vogue 1247 pink skirt - 1 wear last weekend!
Burda chambray top - worn yesterday. 

I've enjoyed seeing everyone's Me Made goodness on Flickr and Pinterest, and the weekly round ups - even though I wasn't taking photos, I was still inspired by yours!

On to summer sewing next!

Friday, 23 May 2014

Re-Knitting: Cap Sleeve Lattice Top

And now, for something completely different…

At long last, I present, my second sweater!!

This is the sweater that made me want to learn to knit, the Cap Sleeve Lattice Top from the Purl Bee. I took some classes about a year and a half ago, and cast this on in July 2013. And then in the fall, I finished knitting, and tried it on. Disaster! I'm sorry I didn't take a photo, but the yoke line basically cut right across my bust, and didn't really look all that great. My lattice portion was pretty uneven, and basically it would have been unwearable.

But desperate times call for desperate measures, and I knew I had to persevere. This pattern is knit from the back, over the shoulders and down the front. I carefully snipped off the lattice at the back, added on in length, re-knit the lattice portion, added the same amount of length to the front, and grafted to my original front. Do not ask me how long this project took, fortunately for my sanity, I don't keep track!

The front - check out the eyelets at the hem!

The back. It's pretty much the same as the front.

There are things that are not perfect with this top, but I am very happy with my final result none the less. It's wearable, looks how I wanted it to, and is done. Three for three, I say!

The pattern was easy to follow, and the video tutorials on the Purl Bee are short, sweet and to the point. The mattress stitch one was the best I found, it actually made sense!

You can find my very sketchy Ravelry notes here, you can tell I'm a novice knitter - they are a bit vague now that I look at them again.

I haven't started a new project yet, but I think I'm hooked! Back to sewing next time, though!

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Spring Wardrobe Building - Vogue 1247

Well, we're almost halfway through Me Made May, and I have to be honest, I'm enjoying seeing everyone's daily outfit pics so much, I may have to join in the documenting after all. So far, though, you haven't missed much, it's been a steady diet of jeans and white tops for days now.

On to the fun stuff! My second garment for the month (I'm making a new piece for my wardrobe each week this May), a skirt!

It is indeed Vogue 1247, a very popular pattern. I made the top last year, and have only worn it once. To be fair, it is a muslin/beach cover up, and I don't get to the beach very often. I received this fabric from a friend, and had no idea what to do with it, though I liked it a lot. It's a light weight twill with a hint of stretch, and a really fun floral print. After a few sessions draping the fabric awkwardly over myself in front of the mirror, I decided on a skirt, and this pattern was handy.

For some reason, when I bought this pattern, I picked up the smaller size range. Oh, how I wish I had gone with the larger range! I ended up adding about two sizes to the skirt, but it is a simple pattern, so it wasn't too terrible. 

This was my wildcard garment for the month. If you've been keeping track, you may have noticed that I'm not much of a skirt wearer. I certainly used to be, back in high school and in my early 20's, but I find them tricky to wear and don't often feel my best in skirts. I'm really short waisted like to wear my tops untucked, which can sometimes look messy. This Renfrew is the best option in my wardrobe - hmm, maybe I need to revisit the top from this pattern?

I don't have much to say about the construction. I drafted a curved waistband, that no-one will ever see, and my zip goes right to the top. The pattern has you enclose the raw edges of the pocket seam in a self bias strip, but my fabric was a little bit too bulky, leaving a weird bump in a very unflattering spot between the pockets. So I very carefully serged around the pocket bags instead, and also finished the side seams on the serger.

I have yet to actually wear this skirt, as the weather has been somewhat rainy, but I hope to get at least one "real" wear in before the end of the month.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Spring Wardrobe Building - Butterick 5826

Hello again, everyone!

As part of Me Made May this year, I've decided to make a garment a week for four weeks to fill out my spring/summer wardrobe. Four separates, for maximum wearability. I have my patterns and fabric chosen, and when combined with my existing wardrobe, I think they will do quite well.

First up, Butterick 5826. Let's check out the pattern envelope once again…

Back in the fall, I made up view A, which I have worn quite a bit. There are a few things I would most definitely change if I were to do something similar again, but it's proven to be a popular choice, with regular outings every couple of weeks.

For the spring, I switched it up to view C, which is very similar to this blouse, and also this pattern.

I cut a straight size 12, based on my previous experience. With all the gathering, it feels a bit on the loose side, and the shoulders are a little wider than I would have liked, so something to bear in mind - not all views of the same pattern will fit the same! In fairness, the only shared pattern piece between the two is the sleeve, it really is a two for one pattern.

For the fabric, I went with an off white poly georgette. Yes, the dread polyester. But this way, I can wear this top to work without fear. The last time I wore a silk blouse to work, I had a run-in with a vicious piece of velcro. And as for the construction, I made a couple of small changes. I used the "burrito" method to attach the back yoke, and did not topstitch the back neck. I understiched instead, which gives a more professional look, if I do say so myself.

The pattern instructions have you hem the blouse with a narrow 1/4" hem after the centre front seam is sewn. I chose to go with a wider 1" hem, and did not catch the bottom of the centre front bands when I stitched it up.

It's tough to see, but my stitches go right under the front bands.

I'm really happy with the gathers, both front and back. Proof that taking your time is often the best policy!

So there we have it, spring wardrobe element number one, worn (with a cardigan, it was still a bit chilly) on Me Made May 5.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Spring at Last

Well, I'd love to say I've been trapped under a pile of fabric and sewing projects, but sadly I haven't had much time for sewing recently. But with the final arrival of spring, I feel a burst of sewing energy coming on!

I do have some plans for my spring/summer sewing, you're in for a lot of blue from the looks of things…

In coordination with Me Made May, I'll be focussing on sewing separates to round out my me made summer wardrobe. Last year, I did manage to wear something me made most days, but didn't always feel that what I had sewn was what I wanted to wear. If MMM is the only reason I'm pulling something out of the closet, it needs to go!

Here's my mini-palette for my next projects (thanks to Gillian for the tutorial!) Witness, my first screen shot.

Without further ado, my pledge:

I, Chloe, of Button and Needle, pledge to wear one or more me made items five days out of seven for the duration of May 2014. Yes, I'm letting myself off the hook for the weekends.

Looking forward to seeing what everyone else will be wearing next month!

Saturday, 22 March 2014

More than a t-shirt

Hello again friends!

I made a t-shirt! Sort of - check it out!

I am so pleased with how this turned out - I got the idea from a couple of RTW tops I've seen around the shops, and just went for it.

The pattern is from the Built by Wendy Dresses book. This is only the second time I've used a pattern from this book, which has been languishing on the shelf for a while. It includes three basic patterns - the shift dress, which I used here, a sheath dress with raglan sleeves, and a dirndl dress. These patterns don't have a ton of ease, so I sized up to the large and shortened the shoulder seam about 1/2". This left me with the boxy shape I was looking for.

The fabric was a gift from a de-stashing friend, and it was love at first sight. I think it's some kind of blend, it's definitely not 100% wool. It's got a lot going on, and it took a while to decide how I wanted the pattern to work. I kept the dominant stripe horizontal, and managed to match the pattern pretty well.

For the binding, I chose some lovely plummy silk charmeuse, and used the wrong side. I loved the colour, but the shine was just not right, so the matte side was the way to go. I used the continuous method (or little pants, as we called it at school) to make my bias strips, and ended up with 4 strips 55" long from an 11" length of fabric.

As for the pattern adjustments and construction, the BBW dress book patterns do not include seam allowance (which I like, since that's how I draft, on the rare occasion I get around to it). I traced my pattern pieces onto the fabric, and made sure to mark a 1/2" seam allowance at the side seams. I did not add any hem allowance; since the hem is bound, that would have been a waste of fabric. For the other seams, I just eyeballed my seam allowances. Since the fabric frayed like crazy, I serged all the edges, including those that would be bound. I then used the serging as a guide when sewing the binding.

After binding the sides and hems of the front and back, I continued as normal (shoulders, neck etc.), and when it was time to sew up the side seams, I just laid the front over the back, pinned first to make sure I wouldn't have any surprises, and stitched from the right side. Presto, design feature! Then I set the sleeves in, and toyed with the idea of binding the hems as well, but decided to leave them with a plain hem. In a lighter fabric, I might be tempted to bind the sleeve hem as well.

If I were to do this again, I might move the side seams forward by adding to the back and reducing the front a bit. But that is a mere quibble, I am in love with this top, and seeing the pics again has inspired me to wear it again!

Pattern matching delight - but you can see how springy the fabric is - that seam did not want to lay flat!

In a side note, I have been reading along with the Colette Wardrobe Architect series, and this is definitely one of my preferred silhouettes. I could use a few more boxy tops in my life, and this was an excellent start.

And now to move on to some spring projects!

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Denim On Top

Hello all, and thanks for the love in my last post! I feel all warm and fuzzy. At least on the inside, outside it is still a very chilly winter!

But, the cold weather just means more sewing time, right? Here's the latest from my factory of one.

This is Butterick 5926, a jacket pattern designed for stretch fabrics. This fabric is a denim look knit, really lovely, from Fabricland. The pattern has two lengths, just above the hip and just below, and two sleeve lengths, full length and bracelet length. I prefer shorter jackets, so that was a no brainer. I usually like to push my sleeves up, so the sleeve length was a bit of a debate. In the end I went with full length.

Sorry about the lighting - I was so impatient to get some photos after weeks of cold & snow.

It was tricky to choose a size, I usually go with a 14 from the Big 4, but I sized down to a 12 and I'm glad I did. It's snug, but without much structure or lining, I was trying to avoid getting too baggy. The one piece sleeves do have a dart, and there are back neck darts as well as a bust dart in the front.

I made a couple of small pattern alterations, the usual shortening of the body (3/4") and the addition of a back neck facing. One of the other reviewers on Pattern Review suggested it, and in the end it gave a less bulky finish to the back neck. The most time consuming part of sewing this jacket was my decision to use a hong kong finish on EVERY SINGLE EXPOSED SEAM ALLOWANCE. Brutal. I'm happy, but that decision easily tripled my sewing time!

I made a couple of small pattern alterations, the usual shortening of the body (3/4") and the addition of a back neck facing. One of the other reviewers on PR suggested it, and in the end it gave a less bulky finish to the back neck. The most time consuming part of sewing this jacket was my decision to use a hong kong finish on EVERY SINGLE EXPOSED SEAM ALLOWANCE. Brutal. I'm happy, but that decision easily tripled my sewing time.

I have some indigo print Japanese handkerchiefs in my stash, and used three of them to make the bias tape for the seam finishing. I had two with the smaller floral, and used the larger floral for the hems and armholes.

Also for this project, I used my new (old) Janome 657. Instead of double stitching the body seams, as instructed, I used the triple stitch and gave my new friend quite a work out. I ended up returning to my not new but less old Kenmore to attach the pockets and stitch the hems, since the Janome presser foot has only one pressure setting.

There's something about this jacket that really says "spring" to me, and I'm looking forward to wearing it more as things warm up around here.

Til next time...