Monday, February 25, 2013

Homemade Knickers - Indigorchid Underwear #705

Pattern: Indigorchid T-shirt Underwear #705 (free pattern download) and online tutorials. (2011)

Pattern Description: Bikini-style underwear with side seams, a double-layer crotch gusset, and elastic waist and leg-openings.

Pattern Sizing: (XS-S-M-L) I made the large size.

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

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes, especially because the site provided online tutorials for the construction and alternative finishing options.
What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?  Besides the pattern being free? Well, I liked that this was the only tutorial I found that resulted in a lining/gusset that had completely enclosed seams. It results in a more professional finish. Other tutorials left one side open. 

Attaching the fold-over elastic.

Fabric Used: Jersey/Lycra knit scraps, an old t-shirt, 3/8" wide Dritz elastic, and fold-over elastic* ($.89 per yard) from G Street Fabrics.

Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made:  I altered the back pattern piece to account for my coverage needs. I'm not a fan of boy shorts or "cheekies" so this change was necessary for me. Otherwise, I followed the given instructions and attached the fold-over elastic to the legs. I would have used it for the waist but I didn't like the way the elastic behaved, twisting the leg holes every-which-way.

I instead used 3/8" wide elastic. I joined the ends to form a circle, marked it in quarters, and pinned to the waistline at four equidistant points. Using a small narrow zig zag, I stitched the elastic first to the right side (stretching it between pins to fit the fabric), then flipped it over to the back, and stitched two parallel rows of zig-zags. Easy-peasy.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Yes and yes, the instructions were excellent. I have some too-small St. Louis, MO and Guinness Dublin souvenir t-shirts all ready to be the next pairs.
  • Lauren Dahl's tutorial specifically deals with using fold-over elastic for both the waist and legs.
  • This very informative tutorial from Sarah Seitz is picture-filled for visual learners.
Conclusion: With this pattern I can now make my own underwear in colors and prints that I can't find in stores. It's also a great way to use up jersey scraps already in my stash and leftover from the knit tops I plan on making in the future.

*Here are some sources for colorful fold-over elastic, Sew Sassy and The Fabric Fairy. I personally found the prices at Joann and Hancocks too expensive.

Images: My own photos.

Monday, February 18, 2013

More On My Moss Muslin - Part 2

Yup, my Grainline Moss is still not done.

The Before

Above is what I started with, so my first step was to add some darts to the back for shaping. My first darts were only in the yoke and waistband as a test.


Notice the extreme bump-out out at the skirt portion. It was because I didn't extend the dart into the skirt portion. However, it did show that my thinking was going in the right direction. Seeking help, I emailed the designer Jen Beeman and according to her I had two choices: 1) alter the waist/yoke only and make a visible dart in the skirt or 2) alter the yoke pattern and adjust the skirt pieces by removing half the intended dart's width from each side in order to eliminate the need for a dart. I chose 2 for a dart-free skirt.

Jen Beeman's hand drawn instructions
I extended the dart about an inch or less down into the skirt. If the end point is perfectly placed it works. I outlined the dart with colored pencil while it was still sewn together, unpicked the entire back portion separating the three elements, and then traced the dart lines on each piece. I also traced these dart markings onto the pattern pieces, cut them along the dart legs and taped them back together. Using a piece of tracing/artist paper along with my design ruler I softened the angles. I will make another muslin (just to be sure) instead of cutting into my fashion fabric.

New patten pieces. Quite a metamorphosis, right? From practically straight across to extremely curved.
In addition, to the dart changes above I added a little more curve to the vertical back seam and added some width to the hip area at my widest point to address the "protruding thigh" issue. These changes seemed to have worked until I returned after the holidays and found the skirt was a bit too big now. (Yes, it could only happen to me!) I also believe the angles on my new pattern pieces were too sharp. So, I refined the yoke pattern piece and tried again. However, as the second photo below shows there is still a little puffiness where the yoke meets the waistband, so I think the waistband curve may be too extreme. So I will try again with even more refined pattern pieces.

New pattern piece for the yoke incorporating the darts.
New side view with a bit more pattern alteration to do.
Note: I may have seen a solution to my waistband problem, or at least half of it. Adrienne of Stitching on the Edge chose to fully construct her front and back skirts separately, including the waistband. This means that I only have to perfect the curve on that one section that needs to curve and not the front waistband section.

Now the front is a bit loose in the center? Why?!

Messing With My Moss Muslin Part 1

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Something to Look Forward to...on PBS

The advantage of reading blogs from around the world is that you become aware of things outside of your environment that you might have missed otherwise.

I just found out about this British series - Dancing on the Edge - currently running on BBC Two that takes place in the 1930s. Um, don't they all?  The series depicts life around a black Jazz ensemble, the Louis Lester Band, in London. Now, that's something different from BBC, right? It stars Chiwetel Ejiofor, Matthew Goode, Angel Coulby, Janet Montgomery, John Goodman, and Jacqueline Bisset. Luckily, due to the immense popularity of Downton Abbey on this side of the pond, I have great hopes that this one will also come over and play on our TVs.

For the best look at the costumes of  Dancing..., I'm sending you to the web site portfolio of the series' costume designer, Lindsay Pugh. This costume slide show is amazing. Try not to drool all over your keyboard!

Click on this photo to see the slide show.

She was also responsible for this fabulous 100 Years of Style - East London commercial that was all over the internet a few years back.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Chain Link Print Top - New Look 6838

Pattern: New Look 6838 (reissued as New Look 6402)

Pattern Description: Knit tops with neckline and sleeve options and drawstring pants.

Pattern Sizing: Size A (XS-XL) I cut a small, which corresponds to size 10-12.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes, after I made some alterations.

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes, very simple.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I loved the slight curve of the boatneck option in this pattern.

Fabric Used: A light-weight red, black, and white patterned Lycra jersey knit (free) from the DC/VA/MD swap and Pellon Easy-Knit fusible interfacing.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
When I made this pattern before I found the neckline was too wide to stay on my shoulders. This time I added half an inch to the inside edge of the shoulders on front and back. I  took the time to reinforce the shoulder seams by fusing knit interfacing to the seam allowances. I also fused it along the neckline curves because I used that technique in another knit top and the neckline has stood up to constant wear. Even so, there was some stretching at the neck so I folded the hem in place and steamed the ease out of the fabric as I shaped the neckline.

The first time I attempted this pattern, the back was extra wide because the pattern had an extra inch added to the width on the back pattern piece only.That did not work for me especially since my back is actually narrower than my front. Therefore, I customized the back piece narrowing it at the center and scooping in the curve, beginning at the neckline. I also fused the hems of the sleeves like the neckline to make them more durable.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Yes. However, I can not recommend this pattern. I think you will receive better results if you either draft your own pattern or buy another basic t-shirt pattern.  This one might not fit you straight out of the envelope. I do recommend that when you buy a t-shirt pattern that you choose one with a center back seam for shaping and for dealing with swayback issues.

Conclusion: Another great knit t-shirt. My goal is a whole wardrobe of them. I have a great medium weight black & white Lycra knit stripe all ready for the next one.

Images: my own (It was hard to get the color correct on the modeled photos though that swatch of fabric is the real deal.)

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Query: Friendship Etiquette

I have a question for you about what you can expect from a friend and/or what you should accept from a friend.

I've known this person 22 years, through ups and downs, and some periods of much-needed separation. They personally don't like birthdays, due to family issues dealing with their own. I know this, understand, and even though it's hard for me I purposely don't acknowledge their birthday, because that is their wish. However, I am a person that loves my birthday. I believe it is the one day that a person can expect to be wished well, and darn it sometimes, they need to hear that.

However, when my birthday comes around (February 3, a day they knows by heart) there is no acknowledgement of mine.

Example: If you are familiar with Facebook, it automatically alerts you on a friends birthday. Therefore, you receive good wishes from people even if you haven't talked to them in years, which is still sweet. It is extremely easy to do. However, even though posting all day this person doesn't send you a message.

Later, on your birthday evening, they text you and joke about the Superbowl and still make no mention. (Every few years, the two dates coincide.) What am I supposed to think? Would you be upset by this?

Someone purposely doesn't wish you well on a day when they know that you would appreciate it. This is also a person who has yet to mention your college graduation even though they know just how long and circuitous a journey it was for you. In fact, soon after, when in the presence of someone else congratulating me, they sat silent. I can't help feeling it is a purposeful withholding of what they knew I wanted and would have appreciated. Who does that?

This is the nature of our strange relationship. This person has a way of making me feel unsure of myself and wonder if I have made a big deal out of nothing. In a series of texts sent last night at midnight I was told that I should understand (because of their personal feelings about their birthday) that I am being insensitive and small minded to expect them to acknowledge my birthday. These were sent because after treating me to dinner Friday they got mad when I thanked them for my "belated birthday" dinner. As soon as that came out of my mouth I regretted it because of the look on their face but was that insensitive? To even accidentally "insinuate" that they acknowledged my birthday? Please let me know what you think. Am I wrong in thinking that the average person wouldn't think and act that way?

Thank you.

Update: Thank you everyone for weighing in on this. I know this isn't a healthy relationship and this behavior (at least the graduation thing) isn't new for us. He has the ability to make me feel irrelevant with just a few words and I continue to let him do that. I know what I should do. What I've done many times before...sever the connection but it is extremely hard.  But this isn't healthy and unfortunately, I don't think it ever will be. For anyone that thinks I am making a big thing out of nothing, there is much more to this story, twenty-two years more.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Red Retro Dress - Colette Patterns Oolong #1008

Finally completed UFO!!

Pattern: Colette Patterns Oolong #1008 (2009)

Pattern Description: Lined bias-cut dress with central ruched bodice, v-neckline, slim six-gore skirt, and no closures.

Pattern Sizing: Using their size chart I ended up using a size 6 for bust and size 10 for waist and hips. As it turned out the bodice was still too tight across the chest.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes, minus the sleeves.

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes! Colette produces very detailed and well illustrated directions with their patterns.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I loved the slinky 1930s feel of the dress and its bias skirt.A very va-va-va-voom kind of dress. However, I found that the sleeves cut in my size were too tight to be comfortable.

Fabric Used: A lovely red cotton twill with a wonderful drape and Pellon Easy-Knit fusible interfacing.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: As seen in these posts, I had issue with the back neck to waist measurement being too long (16") for my strangely petite sizing (there and only there!) of 15.5". As I did not notice this even when constructing the lining I had to make adjustments on the final dress by changing the seam allowance on the back bodice piece and altering the darts some.

Note: I completed the dress in 2010 as designed. However, the sleeves were too tight, so I re-cut the sleeves with more width but they were still constricting. Finally, I decided to remove them completely, remembering how sultry the dress looked before the sleeves were originally constructed. Therefore, I took out my handy seam ripper and not only took off the sleeves but decreased the seam allowance on the upper shoulder of the bodice to provide more room. Turning some fabric leftovers into bias tape I then enclosed the raw edges of the dress and lining, slip-stitching the tape by hand to the lining on the inside.

Would you sew it again? Probably not. It is very unique and I would have to deal with fitting the back again because I did not transfer my changes to the paper pattern.

Would you recommend it to others? Yes, it's very flattering and easy. Just make sure that you are honest about your measurements. The dress has scant wearing ease so even a fraction of an inch can make a big difference. Therefore, do not over fit, there are no closures to this dress and it must go on over your head and shoulders. If too tight it will put too much stress on the seams. I had to reinforce some seam intersections with fusible interfacing.

Conclusion: The resulting dress from this pattern is a lovely curve-revealing, date-ready red dress with a strong 1930s vibe.
Images: my own photographs