Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Scuba Staple Skirt - Butterick 6464

(This was actually made in 2018.)

Pattern: Butterick 6464 (2017)

Pattern Description: Close-fitting, pull-on skirt with side panels and thin elastic channel inside a wide waistband.

Pattern Sizing: Size E5 (14-16-18-20-22), I cut a size 18 and adjusted on my body accordingly.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing it?  Sorta, the actual skirt's waistband appeared more gathered than in the drawing.

Were the instructions easy to follow? Extremely easy. Great pattern for a beginner and it has more style than a basic pencil skirt.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? Having made this before I knew that the fit would be excellent.

Fabric Used: Black/light gray double faced neoprene (polyester/Lycra) from Mood (a gift from Allie J. as part of a giveaway*), Stretchrite 1/2" polyester braided elastic, Gutermann 100% polyester thread in #592 Black, Dritz size #16 (100) ball point machine needle (for heavyweight knits)

Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made: The design ease for this skirt of 43.5" for a 42" hip is too much positive ease for a knit skirt. I decided to cut my skirt halfway between size 16 and 18.

I love the way the waistband is constructed. It consists of a wide waistband/yoke with the elastic channel hidden inside so it's not evident from the outside. The yoke sections are stitched together on the sides first, then a casing is formed at the top edge where the elastic is inserted, and once secured the entire yoke is turned inside out; essentially hiding the elastic.

The only difficulties in construction were due to the fabric choice. Cutting it out was easy with a rotary cutter but the heft of the fabric required me to trace the cut-on-the-fold pattern piece for the center front and back as complete pieces so that I could cut them out flat.

Because this was my first time using scuba I began by testing out different sewing and pressing techniques on scraps. This resulted in me choosing to use a ball point needle made for heavyweight knits and my walking foot. Stitching over multiple layers of this fabric was still difficult and I admit I had to reinforce some areas when I noticed some skipped stitches.

All of the seams were pressed first, on the wrong side and then the right with a "pressing cloth" (scrap of random lightweight fabric) which I then weighed down with whatever I had on hand until it was cool. (I just keep putting off buying a wood clapper because this still works!) This was very important for the top of the waistband, which really didn't want to behave. Even though it would have elastic inside and be gathered, I still wanted to avoid as much bulk in that area as possible. This pressing-and-resting method took over an hour to treat all of the seams and to tame the waistband.

The rest of the skirt was incredibly simple, consisting of center and side panels on both the front and back. I top stitched the panel seams and the waistband to add dimension to the scuba.

I have no idea how a folded hem will affect the look of the skirt so I'm wearing it without a hem right now. This works because scuba does not ravel.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?  Yes, This is a definite TNT pattern and I will definitely make more of these. I highly recommend this skirt pattern.

Conclusion: This was a successful make, a slim skirt with an ingenious waistband treatment and visual interest provided by the topstitched side panels.

* She actually questions in the comments here what to do with the leftover yard from her own skirt project...well, she sent it to me!

Thursday, December 27, 2018

The Costly Christmas Coat Caper

It's true I don't buy many clothes. I really try to make what I need. However, some things aren't worth the trouble OR would take me forever to get organized and make them the way I want. So I should buy them, right? Save myself the trouble and stress?

The last time I bought myself a coat was November 2002 for a week-long trip to Ireland. I did my research and acquired an amazing 3-in -1 Weather System parka from L.L. Bean where the components (quilted Primaloft-filled jacket and a red zip-on rain slicker with a detachable hood) could both fit into their own tiny pouches which made great travel pillows. This coat has been an extremely hard worker (along with my two wool coats for more formal looks) over the years but I've outgrown it. This of course is not unusual since it is sixteen years old and I am no longer a size small!

So this year, I would be traveling for the holidays and I really didn't want to bring my raggedy, ill-fitting parka, especially as it can no longer be zipped all the way down. Thank goodness for two-way zippers which allowed me to bypass it having to fit around my hips.

Time for a replacement! I loved that jacket and everything about it, it was warm, convertible, packable, the hood was removable, and it not only had interior pockets but also an exterior sleeve pocket for easy-to-reach cash and IDs. I used those traits as my key search words. If you don't know me in real life, you have no idea how much research I must do before I part with my money. So, I first started  the home of the original:

L.L. Bean Weather Challenge 3-in -1
$179 (from $229) in Deep Port/Raspberry

This sounded most like my jacket and I was willing to pay more at L.L. Bean if I could find something comparable in quality to the original, but that was not the case. The zippers were flimsy and inferior, enough so, that I checked the reviews, and they were the #1 complaint. I also was not happy with the thinner, wax-paper feel and sound of the exterior fabric. You would be heard coming and going.

L.L. Bean Winter Warmer Jacket
$129 in Cayenne

I was much happier with this one. I really loved the color! However, was looking for a convertible coat, which this wasn't (no zip-in insulation layer) and I had no idea how warm it would be, because it was more of a fleece lined shell with poly insulation only in the sleeves. But, oh that rich color...

Columbia Ten Falls Interchange Jacket
$150 in Nori

Again, the exterior fabric killed this one's chances. I also had to order an XL to fit my hips but then it was too bulky on my smaller top half.  The jacket was shapeless on me and with those inferior zippers, just not worth it.

Columbia Snow Eclipse Mid-insulated Jacket
$119.99 in Nori and Rich Wine

This one didn't catch my eye on their website but it did when I saw it in Dick's Sporting Goods. The fit was good, so was the color, and the insulation was actually faux goose down. However, at the time I was not a fan of the faux fur trim. (Why is every woman's coat straight out of Dr. Zhivago this year?)

I discovered the label Free Country at J.C. Penny's because they were the the first 3-in -1/convertible coats I had seen in retail. The details were so well done; the zippers seemed stable and the zipper pulls of the zip-in jacket were covered by soft fabric triangle tabs that sheltered the pulls from view and contact with your inner garments. The gathered cuffs of the inner jacket kept heat from escaping and the exterior fabric seemed capable of repelling snow and rainwater. The only thing wrong...I didn't like the styles offered in the store. So off I went to their website for more choices.

Free Country Zephyr 3-in -1 Systems
$69.99 (from $180) in Black

Wasn't a fan of this on the website because of the color blocking and patterned fabric but tried it anyway. No go, not my style.

Free Country Trailblazing 3-in -1 Systems
$89.99 (from $180) in Garnet

I wanted red so I ordered this one but I still wasn't happy, so this one was also returned.

Free Country Nebula waterproof 3-in-1 System
$54.99 (from $180) in Royal Moth

This was the convertible/3-in-1system/interchange jacket I was looking for! I might have preferred it in red, purple, or green and a little bit longer but it was on sale for $55 and the inner jacket is a dark Mulberry color! It has the exterior sleeve zipper pocket, inner pockets, detachable hood, and the fabric of the quilted interior jacket feels like a cloud. Update: Just wore it for Christmas in New Jersey and it was warm enough for this mild winter.

Free Country Virtue Down Parka
$89.99 (from $220) in Red

So far this year, this jacket hasn't had any use, with a 50°F Christmas but come late January and February, and it will come in handy. This one is durable canvas on the outside with a three-quarters-length storm placket inside. My favorite features are the array of exterior pockets; zippered side entry hip pockets are placed directly on top of buttoned top-entry pockets. Another pair of side seam pockets are several inches above them in perfect position for warming the ribs. The best thing of all? That fur trim is removable!

St John's Bay Heavyweight Puffer jacket
$90 (from $180) in Rich Teal

I was immediately drawn to the one because of it's slightly iridescent teal color. Yes, I know it has fur trim on the collar but for that color, I can live with that. It will just be my more dressy coat.  However, even though "heavyweight" is part of it's description, it is a lightweight coat in weight and heat retention so this coat was more of a delicious treat for myself. The very best thing about this coat is that the back waist section is shirred with elastic, adding some much needed shaping.

So, almost all of the coats above were ordered and then returned. The winners were the last three above. It's pretty obvious I will be going to Free Country first for my next coat purchase. Since it probably won't be until 2034, I hope they'll still be in business...

Monday, November 05, 2018

Making A Mandy Boat Tee - Tessuti Fabrics

Pattern: Tessuti Mandy Boat Tee (2013) is available as a FREE download at this link.

Pattern Description: Oversized boxy top with shallow boat neckline with dropped shoulders and three-quarter-length fitted sleeves.

Pattern Sizing: One size fits all, finished length: 23.5", finished width: 58".

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes!

Were the instructions easy to follow? Extremely easy. Although the instructions call for twin needle hems, I turned down a 5/8" hem on the neckline, folded the raw edge inside, and did a single line of stitching. Realizing then that perhaps I should have narrowed the width of the neckline, so I tapered the shoulder seam from the 3 /8" at the sleeve out to 3/4" at the neck.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I love the thoroughly oversized shape of this tee, but like the Grainline Hemlock the lower arms were still too narrow for comfort.

Fabric Used: Bole brown heather grey 1/2" stripe cotton jersey (50% cotton, 25% rayon, 25% polyester) from Girl Charlee Fabrics.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: I narrowed the neckline, shortened the length by quite a lot and lowered the armscye by 1/2". After construction, but before the top and sleeve hems, I found the sleeves were bordering on too tight, so I decreased the seam allowance from 3/8" to 1/4".

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Yes, most definitely. I suggest that you measure your biceps and forearms and check to see if you need to make adjustments to the sleeve pattern piece before construction.

Conclusion:  I love my new top. It fulfills this inspirational Pin I collected a few years ago and it just happens to match this one from Sew Dainty who made hers with the exact same fabric. In addition, this top matches perfectly with my brown Ponte Butterick 6464 skirt. Instant ensemble!

Friday, November 02, 2018

Fall Sewing Update

I AM sewing, I really am. Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures to prove it! Yet.

I made an impromptu skirt from the generous leftovers (at least a yard!) from this black and white challis top in 2014. I think I had originally planned to make pants from this challis? This skirt was just a simple fabric tube with elastic at the top.

I then made a shell from New Look 6838, view C in white ponte. I always thought that view looked like a great pattern but until now I had only made the sleeved versions, here and here.

More babies, more baby clothes. I handed off two pairs of baby leggings to a co-worker and just finished another pair plus two simple elastic skirts for another new baby girl at the company. Unbelievably, there is still fabric left! In total, I've made five leggings and two skirts from only 1-1/2 yards of interlock!

Hopefully, coming soon, more sewing...