Sunday, April 19, 2015

Some Updates and Some New News

First, an update. I kind of left you hanging with the black bathing suit coverup. The problem I was having with this top was that the white interfacing showed through the sheer black fabric at the button bands and collar. I resolved this with a packet of black dye. After the top was completely finished I dyed it and it turned out beautifully. I have proudly worn it on vacation since. I will definitely keep this in mind when working on sheer fabrics in the future.

Now for the new news - it seems the current title of my blog, "Off the Clock", is more appropriate than originally thought. I'm retiring! Yes, I am only 53, but there are a number of reasons for me to take the plunge now.  I am looking forward to having much more free time to spend with my loved ones, as well as getting into my hobbies that often get left on the back burner.

I am not saying I will never work again, because if the right thing landed in my lap I would certainly consider it. Being retired leaves me available for such a situation. However, I don't "need" to be working, which means I won't be taking a position that doesn't make me happy.  I know this is going to be a massive adjustment, but I'm just excited to see where this next stage of my life takes me.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Sewing Travel Cubes

When I travel I usually use ziploc bags to pack my clothes inside my suitcase. I find it helps keep things organized and I like that I can see through the bags to see what's inside. The downside of ziplocs is that they don't lay flat when packed. That's not so bad if you are leaving them in the suitcase but they tend to slide all over if you try to put them in drawers or on shelves such as on a cruiseship. A bit of googling showed me travel cubes, but they are a bit on the pricey side for what they are and I would need to order them from the states. So of course I decided to make some.

This is the first prototype. I used two layers of broadcloth with one layer of medium weight fusible interfacing and a layer of clear plastic for the top. I thought about using a double ended zipper but I was trying to make this as frugal as possible, and therefore found that two long zips opening towards each other would work just as well.

I will take pics of the process as I make the next one and post it as a bit of a tutorial. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Vogue 8927

You'll have to forgive my formatting as the computer I am using has a hopelessly outdated version of IE that doesn't play nice with Blogger and I don't have admin privileges to install an updated browser.

 I've gotten back into the sewing room a bit this week. I've been working on a bathing suit coverup using Vogue 8927 and a somewhat sheer black crinkly weave that frays easily. For this reason I was initially thinking about doing French seams, but then thought that's what the serger is for. I serged all my seams and used the coverstitch for the hems so that in theory I shouldn't end up with fraying. At this point all I have left to do is attach the collar band and do buttons and button holes.

The main problem I've run into so far is that the interfacing is very obvious because of the sheer fabric. I could probably live with it on the outside (the camera flash makes it look worse in the pic than in real life), but the inside of the button bands looks terrible because the interfacing makes it obvious where the seam allowances end on the inside the seam.

Because the fabric frays so much I am reluctant to take it apart to do (who knows what) to fix this. There is a tiny bit of white at the hem where the interfacing is peaking out. I thought a fix for this could be to dab it with a Sharpie marker. This must have percolated in my brain overnight because when I woke up this morning I thought of a potential fix - I could dye the top!

A quick Google search only came up with a few thoughts on dying iron-on interfacing, with the concensus being to dye it before cutting and using it because of the heat of the dying process loosening up the glue. Well if that is the case wouldn't dying it ahead of time release the glue so that it is no longer iron-on? Anyway, it's too late for that now but I think if I try to dye the top once it's completely done and then I can press the bits with interfacing while still damp it might be salvageable.

So what are your thoughts? Leave well enough alone or go for the gusto and dye it?

Monday, January 12, 2015

A Passion for Purple

I know I haven't posted in well over a month, but that's just a sign of the time of year.  Yes, things get crazy in December.  I did manage to do a little sewing but I didn't get any pics.  Everyone in the family got jammie pants and I repaired my stepson's snowmobile cover.  That counts, right?

Anyway I went to the fabric store to buy another ruler cutting guide this week and I saw this purple knit faux leather that I just had to have.  I could immediately see it as contrasting sleeves on a (what else) New Look 6735.  I wasn't even deterred when I read the label that said hand wash only.  I took in the top a bit in the sleeves and the bodice because I keep finding my tops are stretching out after being washed once or twice.  The bodice is actually a much nicer fabric than what I usually buy so that may not be a problem here but I took it in anyway.  It looks great in the front, although it shows my bra lines in the back.  Hmph.  Oh well.  The other change I made was to narrow the neck opening by half an inch on either side.  When I was planning it I thought that more coverage would be appropriate with a tighter top.  

And I WILL hand wash it.  As much as I love this trend I already have a tee in my closet with faux leather sleeves.  

This one came from the Bay.  It has been washed twice.  It's now unwearable.  I checked the label and it says machine wash on gentle cycle in cold water and dry flat.  Well I'm sure I just washed it as normal, and not with good results.

It's not picking up very well in the pics but it looks terrible in person.  Regardless, I loved this fabric so much I went for it anyway and bought not just one but two matching fabrics for bodices since I should be able to get two sets of sleeves out of the half meter of faux leather.  You'll have to stay tuned to see the other!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Style Arc's Barb Pant

I know I'm supposed to be working on my Angela Wolf jeans but I had to buy some more denim and I got sidetracked with Style Arc's Barb's Stretch Pant in the meantime.  I got this pattern as a free download for signing up for their newsletter.

I have mentioned that Daughter has been losing weight.  I took in a couple of pairs of her black work pants for her (rather substantially) but they are hanging on her again.  I figured it's time for new pants for the girl, and knowing that she needs something comfortable but office appropriate I've been eyeing this pattern.  The pattern is drafted for a stretch woven, and recommends Stretch Bengaline.  Fabricland had their members 50% off sale yesterday and I went looking to see what they have.  They don't carry Bengaline (not that I even know what that is), but the staff recommended either a ponte or the "Symphony" fabric I ended up chosing, a poly-lycra sturdy knit with a nice weight and drape and a beautiful finish.  I bought enough so that I could have a pair as well.

 After the waistband has been
lowered by 1 1/2"
I have been reading a lot of reviews of this pattern - there are lots out there because of the free pattern thing - and the common consensus is that the waist is too high - as in inches.  I took the front and back rise measurements from a favourite pair of jeans and adjusted the pattern by 1 1/2".  I also widened the bottom of the leg by 1 1/4" to match these same jeans.  I find that is a better look with the clunky shoes I wear to work.  I normally make a 14 in "Big 4" patterns, but I made the 12 based on my measurements and it fit perfectly.  In fact there is supposed to be negative ease which I didn't get, but I think they look fine.  I was a little worried that the knit fabric would make them too much like a yoga pant for the office, but I think that the looser cut of the legs on this pattern makes them more professional looking and they will be fine.  I just hope daughter agrees!

These pants were ridiculously easy to make, and I immediately started on a second pair with this beige stretch twill out of my stash.  I usually live in jeans, and the beauty of these pants is that they stay put without a belt, which means my top will sit smoothly across my tummy without a big belt lump.  At first I thought I liked these ones even better, but that was before I saw how much they wrinkled from sitting here writing this post.  This makes me wonder if this fabric would be better suited to a tighter pattern that wouldn't "allow" for wrinkles.  I'll have to give that some thought.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Vogue 8669 & New Look 6735 Mashup

Vogue 8669 & New Look 6735

Nothing for three weeks and then you get two posts in one day.

After yesterday's success I was really excited to experiment a little more with tee necklines.  I have quite a few knit top patterns I haven't tried yet, mainly because every time I try a new one I decide I don't like it as much as my basic New Look 6735.  I guess I'm just a basic tee girl at heart.  I have Vogue 8669 in my pattern stash waiting to be test driven, but I am not in love with it.  As much as I like a nice cowl neck this one seems a little frumpy to me.  The tee is a loose fitting top with a very shallow cowl.  I've seen a number of interpretations online and haven't fallen in love with any of them - they just aren't my style.  When looking into cowl necks I found this tutorial from Threads Magazine but I'm a little bit leery of starting from scratch.  In the end I decided to take my TNT NL6735 and frankenpattern it with the Vogue 8669.

NOTE: I have updated the post to include pics of the pattern adjustments.

I took the pattern piece for the front of V8669 and lined up the fold edge with the edge of my tracing paper.  Based on the Threads tutorial I took a tape measure and decided I wanted a 20" drop from shoulder to shoulder for the cowl, which meant I wanted a 10" wide span (plus seam allowance) on the top of the pattern piece.  I marked the corner of the bottom of the sleeve opening as a pivot point.

I then pivoted the pattern until the neck side of the shoulder seam was 10 5/8" from the fold line.  Then I traced the top of the pattern from the underarm up.  Once I had the neck edge of the shoulder point marked I drafted a straight line perpendicular to the fold line.  I then swapped pattern pieces for the front piece of NL6735 and traced the lower portion of the pattern.  I also scooped out the back neckline of NL6735 as I had done yesterday, but I went a little bit more daring this time, I think 3".

What you see above is the result.  The fabric pattern makes it hard to see the detail but it is really pretty in real life.  It has a nice soft cowl that is not too revealing but is not as conservative as the pattern version.  The rest of the tee fits as a fitted tee, something I have not been seeing in cowl patterns.

So - what do you think?

Back In the Saddle

I have a hunch I've probably used that title before. Anyway, I got back into the sewing room last night. I want to start on a pair of jeans using Angela Wolf's Angel Bootcut jean pattern, but she recommends prewashing and drying the fabric at least twice. I have some blue denim as well as some black denim in the stash that have been prewashed once, so I got them into the washing machine. I'm not sure if I am going to have enough fabric. The Wolf jeans calls for 2.75 meters. I only have 2.3 meters. I'm not sure why the difference. At first I thought this was because I bought according to the fabric requirements for Vogue 1204 but I just looked that up and that one calls for 2.6 meters. Maybe I did buy more but it just shrank that much in the first prewash?

*(Oh wait, I just looked up my other jeans pattern, McCalls 6610 (which I haven't made yet), and it calls for 2.3 meters. That explains why I ran short on fabric making my first version of Vogue 1204. I ended up having to add a centre back seam to the waistband to make it work. I must have had 2.3 meters of that fabric too.)

Anyway, Mom says that there is a members 50% off sale coming up at the fabric store so I need to get this laid out to see if I need to buy more fabric. I'm going to make the black pair first so that I can focus on the fit since this is the first time using this pattern. Then I can move on to the blue pair where I will try some of the distressing techniques.

While I was waiting for the denim to wash I made a couple more versions of, you guessed it, New Look 6735. I wanted a few more 3/4 sleeve versions and have some nice winter-weight fabric in the stash. That jewel-toned one is gorgeous! To add a little variety to my wardrobe I altered the back of the neckline a bit by scooping it out. I was at Costco the other day and the clerk had on an elbow-lengh sleeved tee with a deep back scoop matching the front scoop. I thought it was really cute but didn't want to go quite that deep, so I only scooped it 2" below the normal cutting line. I have to say I'm happy with the results. This may call for some more experimentation.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

A Final Word on Butterick 6049

I haven't been in the sewing room in over three weeks! I had to be out of town on business for a week and was madly scrambling to finish up Butterick 6049 early so that daughter could wear it for a Halloween party. After being up working on it until midnight the night before going out of town she did get it early but without the lining being sewn down at the waist. What started out as a fairly straight forward project ended up being a bit of a fitting nightmare. I don't have a full pic of the final version but this one (to the left) is close. I took in the bodice for a snugger fit after this pic was taken. You may remember I had hand stitched the neckline opening to make it a bit more modest but that just ended up giving it a funny shape once she tried it on, so that stitching came back out.

As always I try to figure out what went wrong with a project. In this case I think part of my fitting problems came down to the fact that I used a regular cotton weave for the muslin but a cotton weave with a bit of lycra for the fashion fabric. Lesson learned - make your muslin out of the same type of fabric. Another issue is my daughter has been losing weight (intentionally - she's not sick or anything) and so the size she was when I initially took measurements and the size she was by the time the dress was done were quite different. Having said that a few other folks have posted about side-gap so clearly I am not the only one who ran into that problem. Also I think the hem should have been 1" shorter. I intended for it to hit the break in the knee but for some reason it seems a little longer. For the hem I serged the raw edge and then used a machine blindstitch to hem it. THAT part I am really happy with.

I've been holding off on starting anything else because I was waiting to get the dress back between the two parties she needed it for so that I could finish tacking down the lining and swap out the zipper for an invisible zip. Well, I asked her the other day when she is going to bring the dress back and she has already had her second party. Doh! But all is well - she loves the dress as it is. As it turns out she walked into the main party (a 60's pinup theme party) and the hostess gushed about how much she loved D's dress. Daughter knows how to make her mama's day.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

And Even More on Butterick 6049

The saga continues on this dress, but I can finally see light at the end of the tunnel. I was up sewing until 12:30 last night and I'm down to the homestretch.

Daughter tried on the bodice yesterday and the poufs at the sides of the bust are more pronounced in the fashion fabric than they were in the muslin, likely because of the multiple layers. She didn't mind but I want perfection, darn it! This dress definitely needed a full bust adjustment for her but I have no knowledge of how to do that with the style of this bodice, so once again I just flew by the seat of my pants and added darts to the sides of the bust. I also sewed the white bust sections together for an inch or so at the front to make it a little more modest. Daughter is so busty that you could see through her cleavage almost to her waste. Ok, bit of an exageration, but you get the point. She is coming over tonight for a final fitting.

In the mean time I have the skirt assembled and attached to the bodice. I can't say how much I love the inset pockets on this dress! I think because of the full skirt it is the perfect place to carry your cell phone and a tube of lipstick. I may end up making another version of this dress (not the halter version) for myself at some point. Note to self - try on daughter's dress to get a visual before deciding. And get a second opinion. As cute as it is for a younger adult it may be a little over the top for grandmas like me.

Although it is rated as "easy" I have a ton of hours put into this dress. This is because I am taking my time trying to do everything as best as I possibly can, focusing on technique. "Got a job big or small, do it right or not at all". I decided to look up inserting the zipper because I didn't buy an invisible zip (not that the pattern called for one) and I haven't inserted a standard zip in forever. I looked in three different books (Vogue and two Singers) and found three different ways of doing a centred zip. So what do I do? A hybrid of all three techniques! lol I am happy with the finished zip. I even changed thread to match the different fabrics on the colour blocking.

So now the dress is hanging on Gertrude to give the skirt a chance to do any stretching it feels is necessary. All that I have left is a couple of hours of hand sewing. The lining needs to be hand stitched down at the waistline, hooks attached at the top of the zip and the neckband, and finally hemming.

The hemming is going to be a bit of an ordeal. This is a big circle skirt, which means a small hem is necessary. Daughter and I are at a bit of a disagreement about the finished length of the dress. My thoughts are that because the top is quite va-va-voom (on her at least, much moreso than on Gertrude) and because it is a circle skirt, there needs to be some length to the skirt to balance that out. I think the Marilyn dress is the perfect example. She, on the other hand, wants something short because it is supposed to be for a pin-up themed party at a public downtown place. Apparently the one putting this shindig together is wearing a corset. Perhaps this is a generational divide? I think too sexy looks trashy, but there are plenty of examples out there including this black one in today's paper. This leaves me with a big dilema. The best way to properly shorten the dress is to cut it short and use a 5/8" hem. But I really really don't want to do that, because that is irreversable! So what I am thinking is I need to do it full length, do the 5/8" hem, and then tack it up shorter for her event so that it can be let back down. I'm thinking that is easier said than done because of the shape of the circular hemline. And I need to have this done by tomorrow. Arrrgghhh!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

More on Butterick 6049

Point is starting to look pretty good
I've been continuing on with Butterick 6049 for daughter. I was having difficulty getting the points to turn out nicely, so a few more trials were in order. I didn't find anything in the sewing books I already had on hand, so I researched what I could find online. I found what I think is the best advice in this video.

After getting a decent point I wanted to adjust the pattern for the gaping under the arms. Daughter is quite busty and I think that is what was causing the gaping. I decided a couple of darts were in order. I darted the muslin and had her try it on. There is still a little bit of puffiness in the triangle but it's not really obvious. I had done the full two inch adjustment in one dart on one side of the muslin and divided it into two darts on the other side. She and I both preferred the double dart as it seemed to absorb the extra puffiness better.

Next up was to transfer the darts to the paper pattern. I was hoping to be able to eliminate having darts in the finished dress. I cut and slashed the pattern piece, retaped and cut out another trial piece.

The final test piece pinned to the muslin

Check out that point - I think I've nailed it!

The underarm seems pretty smooth

 That final test piece is looking pretty good.  I think I'm ready to cut into the fashion fabric. Fingers crossed!