Saturday, 19 May 2018

Me Made May, week 2

Well hello again.
This week of Me-Made-May included the following, a lot of which is unblogged!  Posts of those unblogged items will follow once I have gotten some suitable pictures.

Thurlow Jeans
Many of the same things from last week
New Mabel miniskirt x 2 (I wore both of them, a lot)
Ondee top
Persephone pants
Briar in yellow (unblogged and likely to remain that way.  I have nothing new to say about this top)
Cocoon cardigan
silk Penny top
mystery swimsuit no. 2

I am happily at work in my pants-binge.  I have to say that the amazing new pants patterns coming out are overwhelming me with the quality of their instructions, the quality of my results, and I'm really excited to see the final 2 pairs (of 4 planned) as they become real,wearable things!  I've avoided making pants for awhile because I have so many awesome pants from op-shops/consignment shops that I don't really NEED to make pants.  But a girl can only make so many tshirts before she has to expand the me-made wardrobe a bit...

Monday, 14 May 2018

Knit to woven: Grainline Hemlock and Penny tees

The inspiration for making some shapeless knit tees in woven fabric came about because I have a length of fantastic cream linen with flocked chartreuse spots on it.  You don't think that sounds amazing?  You just haven't seen it, or gotten to pet the spots.  So I was kind of at a loss for what to do.  Washing it made the spots start to shred.  So I wanted something that would suit the linen but wouldn't need a lot of washing.

Take 1 is the Grainline Penny Raglan tee. I'm not the first person to have made it from wovens.  My knit versions have mostly been gifted away except for the blue one with stars.  I think in a knit it should be done in something super drapey like rayon or bamboo, otherwise it's too shapeless.

However, the combination of silk charmeuse and knit sleeves worked fantastically!  This is the same size I made in the past - XS, totally not at all my measurements, but I knew my tolerance for oversized was limited.  This is very short though, which is more obvious in a woven than it was in the knit.  I would lengthen future versions.  I'm short waisted so you don't hear me say that very often...

The neckline gathered a bit at the front due to my binding and I actually like that effect quite a lot.  In order to preserve it, I didn't topstitch the neckline.  I also added sleeve bindings which I didn't topstitch, but will, because the stitching keeps flipping out.  This top has become a surprise success.  I love its breezy comfort and the ridiculous pattern is nicely broken up by the black sleeves.

Next I moved onto the Grainline Hemlock.  My first version of this was in relatively heavy organic cotton and was such a fail.  Yet again, only drapey, lightweight fabrics could save this pattern.  But first - lightweight silk, sleeveless.  This would benefit from an overlocker to finish the side seams - as usual I got caught by French seams that create an awkward V where you start hemming the sleeve.  I'm tempted to try this one with a little bit of sleeve on it.  Maybe not full length, but just a few inches worth.  Still, it's another surprise success in silk.  Because the sleeves go over my shoulders, this top looks crappy under a cardigan, it bunches up in weird ways.  But alone it looks just fine.

Also of note, I was planning to have the front pieces purposefully unmatched.  Go figure when I specifically try to not pattern match, that I end up with almost perfect matching...

The flocked spots might end up being raglan sleeves on a Penny top, but most of that fabric has been co-opted by an artist friend of mine who convinced me I should use it to make her a dress for an important gallery opening.  I reckon when an artist falls in love with a fabric, a smart person shouldn't stand in the way of that relationship. 

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Secondo Piano InstincTee - free pattern

Sasha from Secondo Piano seems to sew only perfect things.  Her blog is a monument to how I wish I could sew - thoughtful, referent to her style, unique and creative.

Her free tshirt pattern was designed with the intent that we all can make a tshirt, and therefore should have access to a great, simple and basic tshirt pattern - in order to minimise the fast fashion/overconsumption of buying cotton tshirts farmed on cotton-unfriendly land and made in employee-unfriendly Bangladesh and in other xx factories around the world.

I liked that in her initial post she pointed out how important it is to also think about the fabrics that we buy and where they come from.  Cotton has long been touted as a magical fabric, and so it's important to remember that cotton can be farmed easily in very few places because it demands specific weather conditions and huge amounts of water.  Cotton farming has led to the lowering of aquifers in the southeastern part of the United States.

Lately I've shopped quite a bit in op-shops/consignment shops/thrift stores.  This sometimes makes me feel like sewing is almost unnecessary.  I have a body shape that fits in things easily so I don't require changes to everything I buy, and there are So Many Cheap Things in op shops - it seems stupid to ever consider buying new.  Especially since as a shopaholic I know all the brands and am perfectly happy riffling through racks of cheap shit to find the awesome $5 pants that I know sold in a shop for $200.  Sewing can be so wasteful!  I do love upcycling but sometimes it can be frustrating as you have less control over your materials, compared to a nice flat meter of fabric.  I've come out of this with the reminder that sewing for me is a hobby - it's a luxury to make my own things to my own taste.

With all that said, here's my take on Sasha's tshirt.
I made the XS.
It fit perfectly with one change - 1 removed the bottom 2 inches of the shirt.

It unfortunately gained a bunch of melted polyester around the neck because my friend was ironing before me.  Also the sewing machine I'm using right now isn't friendly with such stretchy knits, and so I expect the hem and sleeves to pop stitches soon.  I really like the precise fit (despite somewhat demented expressions in photos) and so I will use this pattern again, but for now I think I have enough tshirts and I have to stop making more!

Me Made May 2018 - week 1

I decided sort of lackadaisically to participate in Me Made May.  I'm working nights, living in limbo and it means I commit to anything these days rather hesitantly.  Even wearing things I make.  Which I do anyway.

Because I don't change clothes on a normal schedule (nights! and surfing!) I'm not bothering to take photos of me in the clothes.  I have put in a modicum of effort to make sure I'm wearing something me made almost all the time, though - I think I didn't sleep in me-mades this week but sure, I can fix that for the next few weeks.  Conveniently enough I'm about to make even more loungepants!

This also forced me to finally learn how to make photo collages.  I'm so behind on the concept that there is an app for everything.

Week one included the following items:

Many tshirts: Briar and 2 Renfrews - the red one is upcycled
Mission maxi upcycled tank.
Mystery swimsuit, pattern tester.
Hampshire pants
Calyer pants.
New Jalie cardigan, soon-to-be blogged

I'm perfectly aware that my wardrobe in New Zealand ends up always falling back on comfortable, easy wearing but not necessarily flattering basics.  I am repeatedly surprised how much wear these Hampshire pants have gotten but they are the perfect post-surf pants for fall and winter, which means I wear them regularly once the weather is too cold for capri length pants.  

Friday, 27 April 2018

Evie La Luve Esme Panties

Well well, I have been looking for awhile for a knicker pattern that could be done in a satisfactory fashion without an overlocker.

The Watson bikini, the So Zo knicker, and the Kitschy coo Barrie bottom (here is an overview of all of them that I sewed recently) ...are all lovely and fit just fine.  However they all shred or fall apart because of using a normal sewing machine, and they all give me horrendous panty lines.  So there was still room for improvement.

I saw this pattern on etsy first, but then got even more keen when I saw Elle Joan's had a kit with all the right lace in it.  I've been really enjoying service from her shop lately since she is local in NZ and the shipping is so fast!  Tailor made shop was my go to prior to this, and most of the time I was happy with what I got from her - the kits are certainly beautiful, but I did find once that the various elements didn't match very well, and when I ordered Madalynne lace kits, the lace was non-stretch.  It didn't stop me from ordering from her again.

I thought this pattern would give no panty lines, since the back is lace AND that simplifies a lot of the sewing. I was less sure how the FOE at the waist would go.  It doesn't feel very substantial.

My one kit had enough of everything for 2 pairs of knickers in a size S.  The second one needed FOE from elsewhere, hence teal.  On that second pair, in order to tighten the waist, I pulled the sides around to the XS mark instead of just the S mark, which is an improvement.  I think I could use the size XS instead of S.  My hips are 37". 

These took honestly like 12 minutes to make.  I was initially wary of just folding over the leg openings and zig zagging down, but it seems to hold up ok.  On the second pair I took out extra steps like finishing the front of the crotch piece, and doing an extra layer of stitching on those leg holes before you fold over.  I didn't plan quite far enough ahead to do a sandwich for the crotch piece to enclose it - you have to do that very early on before attaching all the pieces - so it is still unfinished but the lace is good at camouflaging my layers of zig zags.

These are comfortable on.  They are low lying over the hipbones in the front, so the elastic behaves ok.  I will see how they handle being washed before I comment on their longevity - so far no pair of panties with picot elastic has lasted very long (at least looking good) because the elastic all shredded in the wash. 

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

French Navy Calyer pants: tacky lounge pants for the win!

Like most people these days I discover new patterns via Instagram.  I saw a few pictures of Calyer pants sneak up before the pattern was put up for sale and I was already drooling at the lovely front, the spiraled side seams and the clever pockets.  Plus the fact of no closures on pants that look so stylish had me full of fancy aspirations.

I bought the fabric at The Fabric Store in Auckland to make these pants.  The fabric is a marled grey woven in a weird blend of merino, plus linen? silk? rayon?  who knows.  When I washed it the fabric kind of shrunk in on itself, getting a bit denser and rougher feeling.  It doesn't really have stretch, but it has a lot of mechanical give in the horizontal direction.  It has basically no drape.  The fabric is also super narrow.  I think I bought 1.5 or 2 meters, which is of course less than the pattern calls for.  The pattern calls for a lot of fabric because the back piece is very wide.  So, note the width of your fabric if you want to use less!  I could not fit the pieces across the width and had to cut my front legs in two pieces and make a seam just above the knees.  I actually quite like doing that and I think of it as a design feature, but if you aren't keen on such things, then ensure your fabric is wide enough to cut the back pieces on.

My sewing friend Tessa had made Calyer pants a few weeks ago so I saw her learning process as she didn't leave the seam allowance for the pockets and had to backtrack.  She also cut a size smaller than the size chart recommended.  (Size chart for her measurements were L, but the finished measurements suggested she'd be fine in a M, so that's what she cut.)  It was also very good to see her finished version as the pattern does not make clear that the pocket lining will be visible when the pants are worn.  Tessa's fabric was extra wide, so she could fit the pattern pieces on something like 1 meter of fabric!

The directions are so precise they are almost micromanaging.  However, this is an "advanced beginner" by which they mean intermediate pattern.  That is because the shape of the pattern pieces diverges from "standard" pants, and because the order of construction is original.  By precisely following the directions you are basically guaranteed a fantastic result.  Seriously.  These look amazing.  There is basically no spot that doesn't line up, no edge that's crooked.

As for me, I cut a size XS and I am glad of it.  I considered cutting the S.  My waist is 26-27 and hips 37. I am scared, because my Orla dress was fit for (and was given to) an 8-year-old.  So I was tempted to size up.  Truthfully though I think I had a psychosis moment because on the Orla dress size chart I was not an XS or whatever I cut, but something like an M, so that was my own mistake.

I made no changes to the pattern, and I used some faded rose coloured silk for the pockets and for the front waistband facing.  That was good as the nice stable fabric was easy to work with.  I liked the pop of colour which is subtle but blends in with grey.

I did these during my sewing day, so they took about a third of a day.  I had no problems and my only pause was when Tessa went out to buy my waistband elastic.  I also did not shorten the hems, though they are drafted for a person sized 5'6" and I am more like 5'4", the inseam seems fine on me.  If you are tall these will be slightly above ankle length.  I like the length as it is though.

All my photos are taken at the Mount, aka Mt Maunganui.  The pants did well for a movie night, followed by a morning stroll and a climb up to the top of the mount, though I was pretty sweaty by the top.  (Google says it's 231 meters up.)

My final thought was that the pants look so super cool lying on the floor but when I put them on, the gathering from the back elastic makes my bum look terrible.  They are not form fitting, and so they are kind of like a pair of classy lounge pants.  However then I realised that I basically live in things that don't fit very well which are takes on classy lounge pants.  Also, it was my own fault for not using drapey fabric.

I wore these to work and they were comfortable and made me happy (I am working night shifts and thus basically wear takes on "fancy lounge pants" in order to not wear scrubs.)  I don't plan to make more now, but if I made more I might take a tiny wedge out of the front waist just to dip it down in the centre front.  Other than that, and using a drapey fabric, I wouldn't make any changes.  I suppose theoretically I could size down from the S at the hips to XS at the waist, to decrease the amount of fabric entering the waistband gathers.  But I think first trying a lower profile fabric might make a difference.  So pay attention - if your fabric has a lot of body it will not lie flat due to the elastic!  Also make sure to leave precise seam allowances when sewing the pockets.

Overall I am really happy with these and the pattern.  It was sort of a mystifying experience as I went along but it came out great.  I still don't really get whether the weird angle at the hem of the pants mattered, but I guess it's good when life leaves us with a few unsolved mysteries. 

Monday, 16 April 2018

Madalynne's free Barrett Bralette, x 2

When this first cropped up on Madalynne's instagram I was very impatient for the pattern to be made available - which in short order, it was!  I haven't been sewing much, and I've been choosing rather carefully what to sew also because I've been sewing only weekly at my friend Tessa's, but this pattern alone revived my lingerie sewjo which has been lurking at nil due to last year's lace-based catastrophe and an overdose in other bralette patterns.

Size small which fits me correctly. The sizing chart seems accurate.

I went into it a bit pessimistic, because I quite like my findings - all from Elle Joan via etsy - a local NZ seller so very awesome to get fast service and be able to support local.  I reckoned no way could it end up as good as I hoped.  Plus it's not an easy bralette to make.  Despite the popular sewing bloggers all optimistically waxing poetic, this bralette has lots of little tricky bits and the instructions are very wordy - a thicket of words often obfuscating what the actual next step might be.  Going into it I felt a bit nervous due to those instructions but as long as you have made bras and are used to dealing with picot elastic it doesn't hold major surprises.

I did the first cup wrong - sewing the lining and the outer material of the vertical seam separately, but by the second cup I realised what the instructions were trying to say and I sewed all four layers together correctly.  Indeed it creates a much better result as the seams lie flatter, and I can see the difference when wearing the bralette.

I thought the instructions for putting together the straps were bad, and I referred to the Marlborough bra for those, because it's an easy thing to get confused on.  In the end one can always figure it out.  But this is one of those cases - which reminds me of Tilly and the Buttons patterns - where a multitude of pictures and words can cause more confusion rather than clarity.  I also really hate colour pictures and strongly prefer drawn diagrams.  I think that people are polarised on this : )

As I was making the bralette, the open V of the front didn't seem to sit straight.  It is improved once the straps are on and does not influence the fit but I think I could have changed the angle with which I attached them to that bottom elastic.  I realised once I put clothing on that it is very important because it creates a lumpy silhouette if you don't have that v totally flat.

It's the bottom elastic that makes this a particularly not simple sew.  Because you have to overlap and maintain the SA - I think that is an intermediate skill.  Madalynne assumes that you have glued the layers together and that they will act as one.  I didn't use glue so I had more layers to manage and I had to undo and fix some areas where all three layers didn't catch in my stitching.

The stitching is really visible when it's lying flat but not visible when its worn, so it actually miraculously looks quite decent on.

My sewing machine is borrowed and the needle is offset from what looks like centre.  It has a terrible system for adjusting the width of the zig zag.  So I need to pay a lot of attention to choose the right zig zag and to correct for this visual error I kept making which meant I was stitching off the side of where I wanted to be, which added to my grumpiness.

Overall it was still under 3 hours. This is a fantastic pattern and I really love the fit, so for once despite some errors along the way I'm both happy with the result (yes I will wear it) and I am excited to make the next one, and make it better.

And the second one:
I discovered the width adjustment for the zigzag.  Haha, oops.  Things are better now.  I also got in the habit of putting the needle down into the fabric so I'd know where it was starting, which has also helped. 
I didn't stretch the elastic quite enough under the arms.
To improve the underbust elastic problem, I measured 1/4" down from the top of the bust elastic, and drew a horizontal line to pin the fabric to.  I left this alone at the center front, put the bra on, measured where those 2" should be at the V of the front, and then pulled and gathered in order to get the V to lie flat.  Bra 2 is much nicer looking under clothes - it doesn't stick out weirdly.

I think I've had enough of these, though they were fun.  I have been inspired to go back to an old plan of making a Noelle-Mallori Lane mashup...