Friday, July 18, 2014

Sewing for L: a chambray shirt and some not so summery pants

Pattern: Oliver + S Sketchbook Shirt
Fabric: 100% cotton Robert Kaufman chambray (used here and here)
Notions: interfacing, white thread, 10 buttons
Size: 2T
Pattern: Oliver + S Art Museum Trousers
Fabric: leftover piece of brown corduroy, scrap of fabric for waist band facing
Notions: coordinating thread, 1 button
Size: 2T
Another Sketchbook Shirt (I believe this is my 5th!) and a new pair of pants that are perhaps not the most summer friendly, but well, we do get those occasional chilly days, and they should still fit so as to get lots of use this Autumn.
I had planned to make this Sketchbook Shirt shortly after I made L's Nature Walk Pullover for KCW Spring 2014 but it got put off until now! I made the shirt with view A sleeves, added button tabs as in L's linen Sketchbook,  and sewed it up with version B's band collar. I decided against putting a pocket as I wanted it to stay quite airy, with simple lines.
I made my usual flat felled seams which were a pleasure to sew (yay for cooperative fabric!) and so satisfying to look at once finished, especially knowing that it makes for a sturdy shirt. These Sketchbook shirts get worn several times a week!
I really surprised myself during the making of the shirt by finding myself really, and I mean really, enjoying the process of blindstitching the collar down. I'm really looking forward to having more handsewing to do!
The pants were a bit of an experiment. I had pulled out a bunch of fabrics that could potentially look nice with L's newly made chambray shirt and asked my husband to pick out the one he liked best. He came up with a small piece of brown corduroy. I believe it was about 75cm long with all sorts of weird shapes and cuts into it. Challenge! I was able to make it work with the nap always in the same direction but I did have to encroach on the seam allowances in a few places, which I had to keep in mind for later while sewing.
I modified the front pockets because I found that in the first two versions of the Art Museum Trousers I made last year (not blogged), the pockets gaped quite a bit. I rounded out the pockets and I also chose to apply patch pockets to the back instead of welt pockets for a more relaxed look. The patch pockets I used came from the Fieldtrip Cargo Pants pattern, also by Oliver + S. I particularly like the patch pockets on these! (The pockets are lined up even though they don't look it in the picture.)
I finished most of the seams with flat felled seams again because these are going to get a lot of active wear! Everything was really smooth to sew and I once again did a narrow line of stitching at the top of the waistband to prevent the elastic from twisting. The only part I didn't enjoy, as usual, was putting the elastic in. Ugh, bodkin, please hold onto the elastic!
My husband was really surprised when I showed him the finished pants and asked me if I had really sewn them up from that small piece of fabric or had I rather gone out and bought them. I'll take that as a compliment and I must say that little L looks adorable in his new outfit and as usual, I'm so glad to see that they work perfectly for him, lettting him move, stretch, jump and who knows what to his heart's content!
I'm ready for more sewing for L with Kid's Clothes Week Summer 2014 edition right around the corner and I look forward to seeing everyone's amazing projects!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Sewing for L: Chambray Shorts (and a tee)

Pattern: Oliver + S Sketchbook shorts
Fabric: Robert Kaufman Chambray (used here for a Nature Walk pullover), leftover cotton voile for welt pocket bag
Notions: interfacing, button, contrasting darker blue thread, 3/4" elastic
Size: 2T
Pattern: Oliver + S Schoolbus T-shirt
Fabric: Old t-shirt, leftover scrap of bicycle interlock for embellishment
Notions: clear elastic, coordinating thread, twin needle, interfacing
Size: 2T

More t-shirts (I made a total of three but I'm only showing one here...I'm sure the others will pop up in other posts) and a pair of chambray shorts for my little boy. It's quite warm now and I'm replacing L's long sleeved shirts and some too short t-shirts from last year with some better adapted warm weather apparel. Both of these garments were made at the very beginning of June so they have already gotten considerable wear.

I could not resist making something more with this lovely chambray. I had been planning to make a pair of shorts for him and looked into my pattern stash for a shorts pattern and came up with the Oliver + S Sketchbook Shorts pattern. Once I have access to a printer, I'll try the free Sunny Day shorts from Oliver + S.
I shortened the shorts considerably, otherwise they would have reached about halfway down his lowerleg. I also decided to try adding some double welt pockets. I think I'll probably go back in and add a button on each welt pocket to help them stay shut better. I'm going to continue playing with pocket variations in future pants/shorts projects for L since they're so fun to make. I'm thinking a little welt back pocket with a pocket flap held shut with a button.

The shorts were a breeze to put together and I love the little details such as the pleats on the front and stitching an extra line of stitching at the top of the waistband, as suggested in the pattern, has so far prevented the elastic from twisting. I checked the fit on my boy and hemmed accordingly to make sure I got a nice length which is around his knee.

The t-shirt was just as easy to put together as before. I saved the rib knit from the original t-shirt and applied it as it had been on the original by attaching it first to the wrong side and then folding it over to the front, making sure the raw edge was folded under and  then stitching it in place. I used clear elastic to stabilize the shoulders.

The embellishment was a little extra since L is crazy about bikes. In fact all three t-shirts have bikes on them and he really loves being able to ask for his "vĂ©lo" t-shirts. His vocabulary is increasing exponentially as is his use of two or more words together. Very exciting!

He was just learning a new word here: "shell"

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Sewing for me: A striped moneta dress

Pattern: Moneta Dress by Colette Patterns, version C (3/4 sleeves)
Fabric: 100% organic cotton striped interlock knit (I had 2m50 but I have a nice piece leftover)
Notions: clear elastic, coordinating thread
Size: xs

I finally made myself a Moneta dress and what better incentive than to select it as my June garment for the Make a Garment a Month challenge?! I'm so pleased I made this dress, or rather two dresses, since I made a test version out of a similar interlock knit and that version, after some tweaking, is quite wearable too.

The Moneta dress seemed like the just the thing for me - versatile, relaxed, comfortable, and elegant. After seeing wonderful versions like Lauren's from the Guthrie & Ghani blog or Mary's from Idle Fancy (Aren't the fabric choices just delightful? And I love the idea of pleating...must try that next time!), and seeing this beautiful interlock with fine stripes at my local fabric shop, how could I resist? 

I chose to make version C of the dress and initially, I thought I would make pockets since I tend to leave them out of garments for me. I did my test run (I'm hoping to get good pictures of that dress soon too) but decided against pockets for my second 'real' dress as I found that I didn't use them at all and the fabric was a bit heavy making them not quite as discrete as I would have liked. 

In terms of fit, there was some tweaking to do, especially for the sleeves and armscye. As you can see in the pictures, there was quite a bit of extra fabric in the sleeves, making unflattering folds. I reduced the overall width of the sleeve and reduced the armscye depth. Those changes seemed to work pretty well, leaving me with a comfortable sleeve with a bit of ease.

I also reduced the bodice to get a closer fit as the dress is designed to be worn with negative ease. I extended the neckline edge at the shoulder part of the bodice because I liked where it was sitting before turning it under and finished it with a twin needle. Otherwise, the length of the dress was just right for me with the seam line of the bodice and skirt at my natural waist and the length of the dress hitting at the top of my knee. 
I used the clear elastic technique as described in the pattern where one shirrs the skirt by basting the elastic in place while stretching it to fit. I didn't experience any problems with this method (I just had to be careful to not get the elastic twisted) and the elastic was not sticking at all to my presser foot so I have not yet tried gathering the skirt first and then putting the elastic in.
 I took the time to match my stripes, basting my pieces together first before sewing to assure the correct placement and I'm quite pleased with the result. The interlock fabric behaved itself beautifully, remaing quite stable and not stretching too much while sewing which helped a lot. I trimmed my seam allowances down a bit as the fabric is a little bulky and I finished my hems with a twin needle.
I like the dress(es) a lot and I'm glad I decided not to put pockets in this second version. I've already worn the dress 5 times since making it almost 2 weeks ago and I love how I feel in it - feminine and summery. I want to make another Moneta dress but using another version and perhaps a collar variation. 

Friday, May 30, 2014

Sewing for me: Simplicity 2215

Pattern: Simplicity 2215, Cynthia Rowley for Simplicity, View A
Fabric: Nani IRO Wata, Woodblock POCHO in mustard, off-white cotton voile for bodice lining
Notions: interfacing, invisible zipper, bias tape, four 7/8" covered buttons, coordinating thread
Size: 6 

I did it! My first completed Make a Garment a Month challenge for the month of May! And posted before the end of this lovely month too.

I think the first thing to say about this dress is that I love it. The fact that my husband thinks it's stunning makes me love it even more! I love the dots and the mustard yellow...for me it just says 'cheerful' or in the case of this month's theme, 'merry'. I'm very happy with the overall fit, the covered buttons, the shape of the dress, the dot placement, the invisible zipper, and on top of all that, it's really comfortable to wear!

So, now to the actual making of this polka dot dream. If I had followed the pattern's instructions based on my bust measurement, I would have made a size 10 but when I looked at the finished garment measurements, it was clear that there was going to be far more ease than I like to have. I chose to make size 6 and made a muslin just to be sure. Everything seemed to be spot on except that I was going to have to reduce the waist a little. I also ended up deepening some pleats to match the bodice better.

I spent quite a bit of time looking at the fabric, figuring out how I wanted to cut the fabric to get a nice effect with the dots. I chose to go with the sections with fewer more randomly spaced dots for the bodice pieces. I cut the front bodice pieces flat instead of with the fabric folded to have better control over the dots. For the two skirt pieces, I chose to use the multi-size dot sections. I think the effect is pretty fun.

My 'real' bodice came together in a jiffy but then we had a rough week and a half of colds, fevers, and just lying low to that meant little sewing. But once I got back to my machine, it took about an evening and a half to finish. This was also the first time I have ever put in an invisible zipper and it is to my astonishment, invisible! Hurrah! New skill! As I had said in my MAGM May plans post, I did not put pockets in.

I bound all my exposed raw edges and used this tutorial from Paunnet's to enclose the waist seam beautifully with some bias tape. I hand sewed the top of the bias tape down so it would not show on the right side.The way the pattern is built, the bodice lining does not enclose the joined skirt and bodice seam and since this fabric starts to fray just by looking at it, I knew drastic measures were in order! Oddly enough, (my husband thought it was quite weird,) I find the inside of this dress to be almost as pretty as the right side. I almost wish it was completely reversible!

I debated for a while about the buttons and after a fruitless trip to my favorite shop for buttons, I decided to make four 7/8" covered buttons. That way, they would match the fabric perfectly and would be there without detracting from the dots. I'm pretty happy about my choice and I'm so glad that my machine was cooperative for the buttonholes. They came out really well.

Knowing that it can be a bit chilly here, I decided to knit myself a cardigan to go with the dress. I had envisioned this ensemble pretty early on and it worked beautifully into my yarn de-stashing, using up the three skeins of off-white Cascade Ultra-Pima I had. I love how the buttons bring back the color of the dress and the shape of the polka dots. You can see a dedicated blog post to the cardigan here.

I'm so thrilled with this dress and I adored working with this fabric. It was soft and almost squishy and it is so agreeable to wear. I'm hoping to make this dress again and the only change I think I might contemplate would be increasing coverage around the back shoulder area. I'm looking forward to wearing this for my baby boy's birthday party and I can't wait to make plans for the right-around-the-corner June challenge.

Knitting for me: A Casco Bay Cardi

Pattern: Casco Bay Cardi by Carrie Bostick Hoge (collection Sparrow Sans, Quince and Co.)
Yarn: Cascade Ultra Pima in Ecru colorway 3718 (3 skeins, 660 yards. I have a tiny bit left)
Needles: US 8
Notions: 7 wooden buttons
Size: 35

Important: As the pattern indicates, swatching is vital!

I'm planning to knit down my stash for the next couple months. Now, I don't have an enormous stash but it is sizeable enough and does take up a storage box of its own. Almost all of my stash was given to me by my mother around the time of my wedding several years ago. It's high time that I start to use it. All the yarns are absolutely lovely but I suppose the reason I have waited so long to knit them up is that I'm a person that will generally pick out a project, buy the yarn specifically for the project, and make it almost right away.  I need to reverse my usual process and pick projects based on the yarn and quantity, which I can tell you, has taken quite a bit of searching on Ravelry.

So, without further ado, my first stash knitdown project: A Casco Bay Cardi in Cascade Ultra Pima.

I love garter stitch and I realized that this cardi would be just the thing to go with my Make a Garment a Month May challenge dress, Simplicity 2215. You can see the dedicated blog post here. Looking through my stash, this yarn seemed like the best bet...because that's kind of what it felt like... I wasn't sure I would have enough yarn and I was going to be using a cotton dk instead of a fingering linen held double. But I swatched and blocked and I seemed to obtain a similar gauge using a US 8, although the cotton seemed to have a tendency to shrink up more than the linen.

Even though this project was a breeze to knit, it was outside of my comfort zone because of the loose gauge knitting, which is something I had never done before. I had to keep reminding myself of my gauge swatch to reassure myself that the garment would be fine. 

I loved the integrated buttonholes which streamlined the whole process. I added some extra rows and a buttonhole. I'm glad I added a bit extra to the body length because the cotton does seem to want to shrink up, although we'll see how it does after wearing and whether it starts to pull down. 

The sleeves were the only part that I didn't enjoy as much but that's also because sleeves are not my favorite part of a garment to knit. I knit them on two circulars as I don't have double pointeds. It gave for a neat result since the magic loop method was looking too messy with the loose gauge. I didn't add extra rows to the sleeves because I was not going to have enough yarn.

There are so many things I love about this cardi such as the simple construction and neckline, paired with the fluid beauty of garter stitch. The incorporated buttonholes were so satisfying because once I was done with the body, I was done! I'm very pleased with the cardi and the fit, which is loose and comfortable without being too big. I'd love to knit practically all of the patterns from the Sparrow Sans collection, but I don't think I have the right yarns in my stash, so the other patterns will have to wait till later. And finally, I'm so happy about how this goes with my Make a Garment a month dress and it's exactly what I had envisioned. I also love that the buttons somewhat bring back the idea of polka dots and the color of the dress. Success! (Even though I look very serious in this photo, inside I'm jumping for joy!)

Friday, May 16, 2014

Plans for Make a Garment a Month: May

I recently joined the Make a Garment a Month challenge and these are my May plans for my first challenge garment. I'm really looking forward to participating in this monthly challenge where one sews a garment a month for oneself, which is something I definitely find difficult to do.  
But why is it so hard? Well, first off, there are so many cute, fun little clothes to make for my little boy. Second, I suppose I focus on him so much and making things for him, that I tend to forget to do things for me too. Although, I must admit that when I make something for him, it is also a bit for me because I just enjoy the process of sewing and knitting so much. I think one other thing that holds me back is that I'm just so used to making clothing for him that I'm not used to making women's clothing. Believe it or not, I've never made a dress before!

So, for my MAGM May challenge garment, I'm going to make a dress. This is a dress that I've wanted to make for about a year now: Simplicity 2215. I have seen so many lovely versions of this dress such as Karyn's at 'Make Something' Constellation version. I'll be making view A of the dress and the only current modification that I think I will be making is to not put pockets in, as I don't tend to use them much in dresses.

I have had a particular fabric put away for this project for nearly a year (I think). It is a Nani IRO print called 'Woodblock Pocho' and the material is a cotton which I believe was referred to as 'Wata'. (A gift from my lovely husband.)

I realized that my approach to sewing for myself and sewing for the men of my life is completely different. For my son or my husband, I'll find a fabric I like based on a pattern I want to make, and I just make it. For me, well, I dilly-dally. I wait it out. I postpone. I tell myself that my skills are not up to it. Kind of like for my Confetti top that I made from a Japanese pattern. (That one was two years in the making!) I was so happy with the result and it made me want to sew more for myself...which also gave me the push to join this challenge!

I'm hoping this is going to be a good experience, making my first dress. I'm proceeding cautiously. I'm going to make a quick muslin to check the fit and then on with the real construction!

I hope to be back with a completed garment soon!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Another Sketchbook Shirt for L

 Pattern: Sketchbook Shirt by Oliver + S
Fabric: 100%  linen, natural color
Notions: coordinating thread (off-white), interfacing, 10, 4-hole buttons
Size: 2T

Modifications of note: Added tabs/straps to sleeves to easily hold rolled sleeves up

Another Sketchbook Shirt for L but what can I say? I love this pattern and the results are always so beautiful. It can either look fancy or relaxed and don't little boys look so cute in dress shirts? This is the fourth one I make, but he has outgrown the two from last year.

This time I chose to work with a 100% linen. Although I find linen to be exquisitely beautiful and its quality of softening through wear and washing fantastic, I have not had the chance to work with it very much. So, this was a great opportunity to learn about working with linen.

The linen I chose has a slightly looser weave which meant that as I would stitch it, it would sometimes stretch out a little bit, with one layer stretching out more than the other. Pinning helped but what seemed to work best for me (while still pinning heavily) was to slip a piece of tissue paper underneath my fabric, between the fabric and the needle plate. That really seemed to limit the stretching as it allowed the fabric to travel easily, especially with the edgestitching of the button band, which otherwise, wanted to distort itself. I'm very happy with the result but if you have any suggestions on some good ways to stabilize linen, I'm all ears!

Because I was working with linen (hello, fraying!) I wanted robust seams at the shoulders and side seams, which meant flat felling. All the other seams are already neatly encased and hidden away. For my flat felled seams, I increased the seam allowances on those edges to 5/8" and because the linen presses so beautifully (I used the high temperature linen setting on my iron and steam) it was easy to do and gave an incredibly smooth and crisp finish.

The pattern was a dream to work with, as always. The fiddliest bit, as usual, was the sleeve placket, but that too went well. I really took my time stitching it, taking just a few stitches at a time as I got closer to the bunches of fabric at the top of the slash line, readjusting, moving excess fabric out of the way, a few stitches, moving fabric, stitching...I'm happy to say no puckers!

I did not put a pocket this time for two reasons. The first is that I was concerned about how the linen would do as a patch pocket because it might not hold its shape as well. The second is purely aesthetic. I wanted the shirt to be very neat, refreshing, and simple.

I drafted a tab piece to help hold up the rolled sleeve, which I attached to the wrong side of the sleeve, and on the corresponding point on the right side of the sleeve, I attached a button. After all, he's a toddler and loves to have his hands and wrists free of contraints to play. I have no illusions. I know that this shirt won't remain in its pristine state and that shortly, lovely little touches of pink, blue, green, and brown (to name a few) will inevitable adorn it and liven it up!

I really enjoyed making this shirt. I took my time but it came together in a jiffy and I am thrilled with how the fabric made up. It's just what I wanted. Airy, summery, comfortable. The buttons are simple but catch the light just enough to be interesting. I think I'd like to use these buttons for something for me too. I have about 2 yards of this linen left and I was hoping I could make a lightweight summer jacket for me out of the remaining material. Any suggestions for a pattern?

Ah yes, I nearly forgot, but because the linen looks exactly the same on right sides and wrong sides and all the seam allowances are neatly hidden away, I kept having to check which side I was working on. I can tell you, I gave myself quite a few frights when it came to trimming for seams! Wait, did I just sew and trim my seam on the incorrect side?, it's ok! Carry on!

And a Me-Made-May update: I am very proud to announce that I have worn one self-made garment every single day so far!