Saturday, August 31, 2013

Update on a Happy Holiday Weekend!

Currently reading: Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion by Elizabeth L. Cline, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell.

Listening to: I Love You by The Neighbourhood, of Sweater Weather fame. Surprisingly, their other songs are very different from this breezy summer beach song. I'm especially a fan of Jesse with his tattoos, leggings, and leather

Here's another, Female Robbery, which is totally different and them live on KROQ with Afraid.

Most recent movies seen (via Netflix): The Decoy Bride (w/ David Tennant), Doctor Who S.1-3, and The Hunger Games. (see above)

Watching on TV: Silk's English barristers and Scott & Bailey's female detective, all on my local PBS stations. We have access to two which means if I miss Masterpiece on Sunday I can catch it again on Wednesday night.

Currently sewing: Finishing up my next skirt, which is very different from the last and from a new indie pattern designer.

Guess what? I have another finished make to show you on Tuesday or Wednesday! Yep, guess who got her camera to work again? ;)

I hope you all have a great weekend!!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Imperial Purple Skirt - Simplicity 2152

Pattern: Simplicity 2152 c. 2011

Pattern Description: Misses' six-panel A-line skirt in three lengths with visible front pockets and deep contour waistband. Design by Karen Z.

Pattern Sizing: Size R5 (14-22), I first cut out a 16 as it matched my waist and hip measurements but later recut the same pieces as a size 14.

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

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes, very much.
What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I loved the a-line shape and the large banded pockets.

Fabric Used: 1 3/4 yards 54" linen in Potent Purple (50% Poly, 50% Rayon) from Joann Fabrics, 5/8 yard Denyse Schmidt's Flea Market Fancy Medallion print in Green, matching thread, Coats & Clark 7" zipper in Fuchsia #35A, and Pellon Easy-Knit fusible interfacing.

Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made: Despite knowing about the excess ease in Big 4 patterns I still cut out a 16 instead of taking time to measure the flat pattern. When it turned out huge I took it apart and recut the pieces to a size 14.

Close up of pocket exterior

I chose to make view E but with the length measurement of view C. I came across this cool article on how to choose the right skirt length for your body and it makes perfect sense. Thanks TarHeel Mom! Despite this I still had to alter the hem on the back because my b**ty made it noticeably shorter.

Pocket interior
When it came to the pockets, I didn't like that there would be exposed edges left inside. I cut the pocket piece again in some Flea Market Fancy cotton and sewed it right sides together with the existing pocket encasing the pocket bands and then turned the whole thing inside-out. This resulted in a fully encased pocket without any raw edges. The colorful fabric is also a special hidden treat.

As I was sewing in the zipper I realized I had made a mistake. I had pinked the seam allowances on all my seams including the ones on the front opening. This meant there was not enough seam allowance to attach the zip correctly. I had to use black seam binding and a strip of red bias from another project to extend the seams. (Yeah, I don't care what it looks like from the inside as long as it works and lasts.*) Luckily, it turned out great and I was able to get really close to the zipper teeth on this lapped zipper.
Lapped zipper is too noticeable because of bulky yoke/skirt seam.
OKAY...but even after fixing that (and wearing the skirt to work twice) I realized I still wasn't happy with the zipper. I had my doubts when I did it the first time according to the directions and I should have gone with my instincts. By completely finishing the yoke/waistband/facing and then inserting the zipper, you end up sewing though too many layers of skirt and interfacing and end up with a bulky lapped zipper. I should have either attached the zipper first then folded down the facing and slip stitched to the zipper or attached it as a centered zipper in the first place. So, the option was pick, pick, pick…or leave it as is. I chose to leave it. I sewed a sturdy snap to the closure and am content with my final skirt.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Yes, I will. I highly recommend this pattern. I can definitely see it made in corduroy or with piping, or made in a stripe and changing the direction on some or all of the separate sections; waistband, pockets, or center band.

Conclusion: I was intrigued by this skirt above by One Avian Daemon on Pinterest and then found this near identical Simplicity pattern. I loved the placement of the pockets. Luckily, I had some suitable stash fabric to make this pattern. However, I wish I had used contrasting thread for the topstitching or piping because you can barely see the pockets. Also, because of the shortcuts I took with this no one will get to examine this skirt very closely!

My biggest suggestion is to change the construction order and sew in the zipper after attaching the yoke waistband in order to eliminate stitching through so many fabric layers.

Images: my own photos, Simplicity Patterns, One Avian Daemon

* Another reason why I don't use invisible zippers. Seriously, why bother if you can't depend on them?

Monday, August 26, 2013

My Handmade Wardrobe Inventory

Looking at my closet I wondered just how many of the clothes in my closet were made by me. A quick inventory is below, to see these items and read their reviews and construction details, go look at My Handmade Wardrobe.

Knit Tops:
  • Mustard Burdastyle "Let's Twist Again..." top
  • Pink polka dot Butterick 5429 twist top
  • Autumnal floral Butterick 5429 twist top
  • Black New Look 6838 short-sleeve boatneck
  • Red, black & white New Look 6838 long-sleeve boatneck
  • Magenta New Look 6807 gathered-sleeve top
Woven Tops:
  • Grainline Scouts
    Brown print
    Red twill w/ full back
    Cornflower blue floral w/ gathered 3/4 sleeve
  • Gray Grainline Tiny Pocket Tank
  • Yellow gingham Colette Sorbetto
  • Multicolor dots Sorbetto
  • Swiss Dot Vogue 9772 bias top
  • Cream Vogue 2068 gauze top
  • Blue Simplicity BBW 3835 top
  • Cream Simplicity 3835/Vogue 8392 gathered long-sleeve top
  • Autumnal floral  Simplicity 3835/Vogue 8392 gathered long-sleeve top
  • Cream Butterick 4632 gathered yoke shell
  • Red Butterick 2564 cut-on sleeve shell
Interesting note: I like my clothing easy to sew and easy to wear. None have zippers, only two have buttons but only on the backs and all can be pulled on over my head, if needed. So, I probably should make at least two shirts with buttons or snaps for a more formal look. Maybe. If it ain't broke...

  • Built By Wendy Sew U skirts
    Black corduroy
    Brown corduroy
    Gray wool
  • Blue denim Simplicity 8126 wrap skirt
  • Red twill Simplicity 5914* skirt
  • Heather gray Pattern Runway gathered skirt
  • Black floral Simplicity 9765 long skirt
  • Iridescent purple Vogue 7058 ball skirt
  • Purple Simplicity 2152 linen A-line skirt
  • Teal abstract floral Paprika Patterns Jade skirt
  • Pink polka dot SewStylish One-Hour Dress
  • Heather tan Simplicity 2406 belted cotton dress
  • Purple Butterick 4948 corduroy dress
  • Orange plaid McCall's 6712 "maternity" dress w/ shoulder ties
  • Green New Look 6939 shift
  • Floral New Look 6939 shift dress
  • Beige Burdastyle "Anda" shift
  • Red floral New Look 6860 sun dress
  • Autumn floral Simplicity 5190 faux-wrap dress
  • Floral McCall's 5042 full-skirted dress
  • Red Colette Oolong #1008 dress
  • Black Vogue 9968 knit cowl dress
Note: Only one zipper in the bunch(!!), all others can be pulled over the head.

Special Occasion**:
  • Blue Simplicity 8343 brocade full-length gown.
  • Bronze Style 2448 velour 1920-ish gown.
  • Blue/yellow shot cotton McCall's 9403 strapless dress.
  • Brown gabardine Vogue 9745 flat-front trousers
  • Heather tan Vogue 2883 shorts
  • Purple and green Vogue 2532 plaid shorts
Only one pair of pants but have fabric and supplies for four others. Must get on that for fall.

  • Purple knit Simplicity 2560 cardigan
  • Brown Vogue 1476 (Issey Miyake) coat
  • Peacock blue half slip
  • Green/B&W stripe Indigorchid #705 panty
  • Kwik Sew 2529 sleepwear
    Blue-gray fleece short-sleeve tank and boxer briefs
    Light/dark blue fleece color-block tank and boxer briefs
    Multi-color fleece night shirt
*Recently reissued as Simplicity 1560 with same photo & illustrations.
**First two no longer fit and the third is impractical for my life now.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Coming Soon To A Post Right Here

I found taking detail pictures with my phone can work in the best conditions. So here is a picture of my three upcoming blog reviews. The first two items are finished and I'm currently working on the last one. Hopefully, I'll get to take pictures of the whole garments next weekend.

Notice that they're all color coordinated. That was completely unplanned (at least consciously). They are all bottoms and luckily they can be worn with most of my tops (see My Handmade Wardrobe) so obviously I have a color scheme in mind when I buy fabric. I'm pretty surprised that I have such a love for that raspberry color, that's a new discovery for me.

Are you sewing this weekend too?

Thursday, August 15, 2013

New (To Me) Independent Pattern Companies!

Last week, I came upon a sewing blogger (a VERY popular blogger) who had not heard of Style Arc patterns. It made me aware that even if we each followed 25+ sewing blogs, unless we all read the exact same blogs, discoveries can still get past us. So here’s a list of online independent pattern companies I’ve come across recently that I have not seen everywhere. Ready?

Best New Discoveries:

Thread Theory – Behold, a Canadian menswear pattern company. Yes, you read that right, MENSWEAR! They currently have three designs (Jedediah pants, Strathcona Henley, and Newcastle Cardigan) ready for purchase and the next pattern is a Pea coat! One of the unique things about them is that they send their patterns out to a professional pattern drafter, which is just plain smart.

Named - From Finland, sisters Saara and Laura just released their first set of patterns. These stand out because the launch is very ready-to-wear with a full seasonal collection of classic, clean looks, with no gimmicks. I am loving so many of these pieces but I must say those Jamie jeans are mighty impressive.

Fine Motor Skills - These patterns look very promising (I already downloaded the Jimmy shorts!) and very well designed. Formerly from a corporate clothing design background, this Vancouver-based artisan baker/pastry chef is for the time being offering her patterns for FREE! However, do not visit her blog hungry, her mouth-watering creations look amazing!

Just Starting Up

Paprika Patterns - Coming all the way from the Netherlands, Lisa's (Small Things) first pattern, Jade, is a really cool asymmetrically folded skirt and is currently in the hands of pattern testers. Coming soon!

April Rhodes - Many seem to be sewing up this Ohioan's first offerings, the Staple and Date Night dresses, two simple beginner dress patterns.

Disparate Disciplines now Seamster Patterns - Mari Miller's first pattern, the Avocado hoodie, includes a back pocket specifically made for a significant other’s hand. They also now offer Summercrisp, a scallop-shaped wrap skirt design. *I would suggest they put some work into sprucing up their website and apply some organization because you have to scroll down each page to see any real content. Done!

Soma Patterns - San Francisco designer Sylvie P. creates her patterns using the sustainable practice of zero waste so there are no unused scraps leftover from any project. The concept of zero waste intrigues me, but it was the Rik Owens-lookalike Twisty Top/Tunic that made me check out the rest of the line. Other favorites are the Brunelle and Cendrene tops.

Ones you may have already heard about:

By Hand London - British creators of the popular Charlotte skirt, the vintage-tinged Elisalex dress, the casual Victoria blazer, and their latest, the romantic Anna dress.

Merchant and Mills - I love the aesthetic of this British company founded in 2010, they have a very turn of the century, industrial age look. Their patterns are produced on card stock meant to be traced and are shipped in cardboard mailing tubes. I am a fan of the No.64 Top and the Trapeze dress patterns, that dress is amazing. I have not read any patterns reviews so I hope their drafting and grading can back up the graphic design. Their web store offers up a selection of fine Irish and European fabrics, as well as sewing notions, tools, and hardware.

Style Arc - Out of Australia, they caught my attention when they were the company to get out the first AND most accurate rendition of the McQueen maid-of-honor dress (Pippa's Dress) worn by Pippa Middleton in the British royal wedding. Great reviews have followed that launch about the fit and accuracy of their patterns. Also each purchase comes with the free pattern offered that month.

Victory Patterns - Some truly unique and trendy patterns from Canada. These are fabulously creative looks and I am eagerly awaiting new designs from Kristiann and her company. Note that one of their ten patterns, Roxanne, offers a triple pleated collar similar to one by designer Orla Kiely that I have admired for a while.

Salme Patterns - Proving herself a very prolific designer, London-based Elisa has created a large variety of top and dress patterns in a pretty short time. My favorites are the sleek Peplum Skirt and the angled collar Cropped Jacket. Recently, she has added some children's patterns to her line.

In-House Patterns - This Canadian pattern company specifically designs for women with hourglass shapes and a larger bust (a D-cup) than typically offered by the Big Four (drafted for a B-cup). Therefore, I believe they are more comparable to Colette Patterns, who design for a C-cup. Alexandra's blog offers great information on achieving good fit overall and offers helpful tutorials on adapting her patterns for a smaller cup size.

Wow, do you notice a trend here? Except for one company from the U.S and one from the Netherlands, most of these offerings are from either Britain or Canada. Just imagine, before the Internet this kind of international commerce would have been almost impossible. We would never have heard of most of these companies, at least not before they were more established. In addition, these companies would have reached only a fraction of the people they can be exposed to now. Even though, despite being a blogger, I still consider myself a Luddite, this Internet thing might not be so bad, after all.

There are a lot of others that I didn't include because these were the newest ones I've seen but there are many others out there. For more check out these more comprehensive lists from Threads magazine and A Good Wardrobe.

One more thing, if you make an item from these companies please add your reviews to for the rest of us. If the company is not already in their database you can request that they be added. I sent an email requesting they add Grainline Studio and within days you could pull up their information on the site. That simple.

So which "new-to-you" companies have you heard about? Let us know in the comments.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Sewing Status Report: August

Rest assured, sewing has been fits and starts.

There has been one completed make but that was a month ago and I've been wearing it weekly. So yes, I did have a "July" project. Unfortunately, it seems my camera that fits my tripod has "given up the ghost", "bit the dust", and "bought a farm" and just won't work anymore. The photo at left is an example of what my phone is capable of after a lot of editing. Let us call it "artistic." Hopefully, I'll get pictures sooner than later because I'm now halfway through two more items: a pair of plaid summer shorts using an old but highly reviewed Vogue pattern and a new, funky skirt from a new indie company! I'll let you know who when I get the all clear.

There are two more definite summer projects (incl. another Scout!) to complete but that depends on how long summer lasts this year as they may be scrapped for fall pants. I truly need fall pants and luckily I already have everything I need since they were all on my list last year. Of course that also means muslins and more muslins. I will be cutting them all to shorts length to save fabric as I need stretch wovens for these and I only have so much that isn't final project fabric.

Other happenings in my world:
  • After all this time, I have just become a Doctor Who fan thanks to Netflix having six whole seasons available. After that, on to Torchwood!
  • I've been accumulating more and more sewing blogs for my Bloglovin' queue. A scary amount.
  • Became pretty addicted to Lula Louise's DIY fashion posts.
  • Positively loving the new direction of the last three issues of Vogue Patterns magazine. The beautifully designed Master Instruction and Couture Corner columns, as well as the more creative renditions of their own patterns are amazing. They are giving off a real Threads + Selvedge feel (without the specificity of Selvedge).
  • I conducted an inventory of all the handmade items in my wardrobe, well, the ones that I still wear. It might not be that interesting to you but for archive purposes I will post it here soon. Without really doing it on purpose it was strange how so many things coordinated with each other.
  • For the last two years, I've had a strong desire for a lavender dress and Daisy's dress in this post cinched it. As someone that doesn't like to wear pastels, outside of blue, this is a strange request. So on the periphery, I am looking for delicate but not too froofy* (to cut the sweetness), dress patterns for consideration.
Hope to be back here with some reviews very soon! *Frou Frou plus poofy.