Wednesday, July 26, 2017

OAL2017: Mint Twig Renfrew

To see Part 1 of this series (my sweater), click here.
To see Part 2 of this series (my skirt), click here.
Here's my final piece for the Outfit Along! Part 3 :) 

After I decided against my newly finished black and white striped Renfrew for the Outfit Along, I had to quickly plan an alternative top to pull the other two pieces together. I pulled out any cut of knit fabric that I thought might coordinate and laid it inside the sweater itself, then wrapped the front pieces over to get an idea of the finished look. I posted 4 options on Instagram and Ravelry, asking opinions on which to choose. In the end I went with the one I thought would go but that I would also want to wear a lot, which technically was the most popular choice of others as well :) Always nice when that happens so I don't look like a jerk, ha ha.
So this is another hacked Renfrew - this is exactly like the black and white stripe Renfrew ended up, I just didn't have to reconfigure things on the fly with this one since I already did all that trial and error with the first one. Hoorah! I measured my black striped Renfrew and transferred the new neckline to my pattern and cut this one out. Easy :) I love easy.
The winning fabric was this cotton interlock from the Doodles line at Joann's. It has occurred to me that this is the most popular fabric in my wardrobe since it's really the only brand I'm loyal to as I love the softness and fun prints as well as the price and availability. This print is called Twig Floral in Mint and it's still available to buy. While this fabric line is technically designed for kid's clothes, I find this fabric really bridges the gap between toddler and adult. The pattern would be cute as a kids dress or onesy or t-shirt, but I think it still looks fine on this 32 year old. Also I adore the color - mint is one of my favorite colors to wear and this fabric is a bit brighter in real life (less pastel).
I deliberately made this shirt a bit longer than normal because I know this fabric tends to shrink up a bit more with time. This is also long enough for me to tuck in without it popping out all the time (a constant problem in this long torso'd life I lead). I actually don't feel it's too long even untucked - in fact I'm wearing this top untucked with my gray Melissa skirt as I type this :) So it can be worn either way and I love that.
And again let's take a moment to appreciate that neckline. No bra in sight! Love it. I did the same neckline finish as the black version and it worked out wonderfully. I just love being able to just sew something without worrying about the fit aspect. Because I had just made up this pattern a few days before, I was able to cut AND sew this top in less than 2 hours. That is record time for me. Gotta love a quick and reliable project that will get worn a lot.

So that's my whole outfit for this year's Outfit Along :) It was lots of fun as usual, and now I have 3 (actually 4, lol) great pieces to wear. Interestingly I just realized that all my pieces this year coordinate with all my pieces from last year's challenge. I guess I'm a bit predictable. Ah well, it makes for a cohesive wardrobe.

I can't wait for next year's Outfit Along to come!

Fabric: 1.25 yards Mint Twig Floral Interlock from Joann's - $7.50
Pattern: Renfrew by Sewaholic Patterns
Notions: white thread - $0.50, woolly nylon thread - $0.10
Time: 2 hours
Total Cost: $8.10

Monday, July 24, 2017

FO: Striped Renfrew Hack

Back in my Outfit Along Planning post, I mentioned how I wanted to make a boat neck Lark Tee out of a black and white striped knit in my stash. After my wearble muslin of the Lark turned out to be a looser fit then I originally hoped, I had a choice to make. Do I do more work to that pattern in hopes of eventually getting a shirt I like, or do I decide not to reinvent the wheel and just use a similar pattern that I already know fits me well? Can you tell where I'm going with this? Since I would have to alter the Lark neckline anyway to sit how I like, I might as well just do that same alteration to a well fitting pattern (so said my logic, anyway). So I grabbed my trusty Renfrew pattern and got to work.
This is the Renfrew by Sewaholic patterns, but with an altered neck. I used my standard size 16 top, but I tried drafting a slash neckline by following this tutorial by Heather B on Pattern Review. I understood it in theory, but I when it came time to draft the changes I just couldn't see adding extra ease to the bust and neckline. I have a hollow chest and always have to remove excess fabric from this area, so I decided to just use that ease I would normally have removed and call it good. Yeah... I shouldn't have done that. I did the drafting, spent all the time cutting out and stripe matching my lovely knit here, and sewed the neckline first as I usually do when making knit tops. I could barely get my head in the whole. Whoops! I mean, I could squeeze it in, but the tight side neckline plus how high up it came on my neck made the neckline look so closed up that I felt ridiculous. At this point I had nothing to lose, so I just marked where I wanted the neckline to hit, drew the scoop by hand, added 1/2" seam allowance and chopped off the unfortunate slash neck issue. I measured around my new neck hole (25") and cut out a neckband that was 21" long. I applied the neckband in the usual way (right sides together, lightning bolt stitch 1/2" seam allowance, trim down excess), then instead of the methods I usually go with (from the Renfrew or the Plantain by Deer + Doe) I folded the other side of the band in half and then folded it down into the shirt. I top stitched this with a twin needle and used woolly nylon thread in the bobbin. I absolutely LOVE this neckline! You would think it would be bulky with 3 layers of fabric folded right there, but the top stitching really flattens things out. I really dislike not having a neckband on a knit shirt (like on my Lark Tee - that neckline is just folded down and stitched), and having a traditional neckband out on display around a boat neck would just look silly, so having it tucked under like this makes it a little more classy. I highly recommend it :) This was an extremely easy change to make, and the resulting neckline is the perfect size for me. All ready to wear boat neck tops show my bra and garments. ALL.OF.THEM. But this one covers everything up very nicely. I'm hooked, folks!
After my neckline hack, I sewed this up just like you're supposed to. This is my first time using the 3/4 sleeve and it turned out to be the perfect length. I did tighten up the sleeve hem area since I originally planned this to be worn under a cardigan so I wanted the sleeve hems to stay in place. I was very careful with my stripe matching, and this really paid off. I know you can't see it because I forgot to take a picture, but my side seams are matched beautifully. Also check out my stripe matching on the sleeve in that first photo. Oh yeah! lol I'm not very good at pattern matching yet and it always feels like a tedious chore, so I'm pretty thrilled when it turns out how I hoped.
Another fantastic benefit of having a living person take your blog photos - they can smooth out the back of your shirt and get all your stripe lined up. Thanks, babe! You can also see my stripe matching across the upper back at the sleeves. I'm pretty proud of that, I must say. I also made sure to hem this along one stripe. Usually my hems would be slightly curved, but I wanted to keep everything level for aesthetics. I'm pleased with the result. My fabric came from Walmart of all places! After reading on Lauren's Blog that she found some decent knits there on the cheap I couldn't resist checking it out myself. I came away with 3 fabrics including 3 yards of this one. It's 80% polyester, 17% rayon, 3% spandex, which would normally put me off but this had a nice medium weight to it. I find that thinner poly knits cling in unflattering ways on me so I avoid them, but this is super springy and is thick enough to hide bumps but not so think you can't wear it in Florida. Also the stripes are yarn dyed, so everything was wonderfully on grain. I'm really surprised at how much I like this fabric :) The recovery is fantastic, and even though it's a snug fit I don't feel self conscious. Also in spite of it being a horizontal stripe, I think this shirt is quite flattering because it hugs my narrowest areas.
With all my on-the-fly neckline slicing, I did end up with the stripes slightly uneven at the center front of all places. Thankfully I was able to fudge that area when I top stitched the neckband and I couldn't be happier with how that turned out. Let's all just take a minute to appreciate that neckline. Horizontal just at the base of the neck, no bra show on the sides, discreetly top stitched. *Ah* It's a beautiful thing. I seriously want to sew a million shirts with this neckline now. Prepare yourselves.
So the unfortunate part of this shirt is that I did not like it with my other pieces for the Outfit Along (womp womp). After finishing this top I excitedly put on my skirt and sweater only to just not feel right with everything together. Maybe if this shirt was a scoop neck it wouldn't be so bad to me, but mostly I think it's that the bold stripe looks odd against the girly lace pattern in the sweater. Also the V neckline on the sweater goes so deep that it just feels like too much stripe on display. Maybe if it was a scoop neck I wouldn't be so put off by the combination, but as it is now I just don't see me wearing all 3 pieces together. I do love this top with the skirt though, so that's a partial win :) Thankfully I had other knits in my stash that matched the sweater style better, so the Outfit Along entry was saved. So this shirt is a nice bonus to the challenge :)  I love this shirt and I still have plenty of this fabric left for future projects. Hooray!

Fabric: 1.1 yards of black and white stripe poly rayon knit - $4.00
Pattern: Renfrew by Sewaholic
Notions: black thread - $0.50, woolly nylon thread - $0.10
Time: 4 hours
Total Cost: $ 4.60

Thursday, July 20, 2017

OAL2017: Gray Melissa Skirt

Today you get part 2 of my Outfit Along project: my skirt!
After deciding on my sweater pattern, I had to pick what to wear with it (to see Part 1 of this outfit - my sweater - click here). I'm a fairly practical dresser, and while I love the idea of dresses I almost never wear them on a daily basis because of my work. I'm a strictly separates gal everyday, so I decided to make a skirt. After throwing around a few ideas of skirt patterns I had planned, I decided to be boring predictable practical and make a pattern I've made a few times before and love: The Melissa Skirt.
This is the skirt portion of the Melissa Dress by Muse Patterns. I seriously love this pattern, and I've still only ever made the skirt! I have a Blue Jean version and a Basic Brown version of this skirt that I wear ALL.THE.TIME. For real. These are the skirts that I grab when I want to run out quickly or walk the dog or just need to be comfy but not look like a slob. These skirts are the perfect fit, perfect length, and even have the perfect pockets - thus they are worn to death. During Me Made May this year, I decided my old ones are looking a bit ratty (I'm looking at you, light weight denim!), so in a fit of "I can't decide what to make for the Outfit Along" I just grabbed this pattern and decided to kill two birds with one stone and sew up another great neutral version.
Having made this before and perfected the fit, sewing this was a breeze. Also having sewed this in 3 different types of fabric I knew what would work best. My denim version is a bit too light weight for the sea breeze where I live right now, and the green stretch heavy sateen was a very unfortunate disaster (I still lament you, green fabric!), but my brown version is just right. How's that for a Goldilocks statement? The brown fabric was a poly blend of some kind that is heavy enough weight o hold its shape in the wind, but it wasn't rough like a canvas tends to be and it doesn't have the diagonal weave that twill has. Maybe it's a gabardine? I thrifted the fabric, but that stuff is magical. I know it has some poly because it doesn't wrinkle much at all. With all that in mind, I started digging through my stash to try and find something similar to the brown fabric. When I unearthed this gray heavy cotton twill that was just the right length, I knew it was meant to be. I honestly have no idea where this fabric came from, which I very odd for me (I can't remember if I washed my hair or not, but I can remember where I acquired all of my fabric and how much it was - thanks, brain). I'm not sure if I bought it years ago at Hancock Fabrics in hopes of making some other project (as I was prone to do) or if I got it from a thrift store or what. I'm just happy I had it! This fabric is a great weight with just enough body to keep its flare and not blow up in the wind.
As far as fitting, I did the same adjustments that I did on my brown version: I added 1/2" to each side of the pocket panels (so my hands would fit in the pockets without straining the fabric), and I removed a 2.5" deep wedge from the center back. This worked out great and this is the smoothest fit I've ever achieved on the back of this skirt. Since this skirt will be worn a ton and therefore washed a lot, I overcast every seam and then top stitched them down. This really helps in keeping everything tidy inside no matter how much it gets battered in the wash. It definitely takes a lot of thread though.
And finally the aspect that makes this design so great: the pockets! These are seriously the best pockets. These skirts get so many compliments when I wear them and they always refer to the pockets and how cute they are. I can fit my entire phone in them. Or my hand. Or my keys at work. They are a very useful but cute touch and I adore them. I also love that this skirt has a button front, and I lucked out with buttons again as I bought a tube filled with miscellaneous buttons at The Sewing Studio in April for $3 and it had the exact amount in this size. I like the lines across the center - it kid of echos all the top stitching I think. Also this was my first time using the button sewing function on my sewing machine, and man I am hooked! It was so nice not to have to sew these by hand. I'm keeping an eye on them to make sure they stay on, so I will report back on that.

So there's my new Melissa skirt! I'm thrilled to have this in my wardrobe and I know I will get a lot of use out of it (especially as it looks fantastic with my favorite gray embroidered Taos shoes - you can see them in the first photo). Yay for useful basics!

Come see my final piece of the outfit up next!

Fabric: 1.75 yards of 50" wide gray cotton twill - $2.00?
Pattern: Melissa Skirt by Muse Patterns
Notions: Pellon SF101 interfacing - $0.75, gray thread - $0.75, 7 gray buttons - $0.25
Time: 5 hours
Total Cost: $ 3.75

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

OAL2017: Anaheim Wrap Sweater

It's that time again! I just completed my outfit for the Outfit Along 2017! I'm really loving my outfit  as a whole and as individual pieces, so it feels like a successful challenge. Just like last year, I will be blogging each piece separately, so check back over the next week for all 3 pieces. First up: my sweater!
This is the Anaheim by Andi Satterlund - this was her new pattern she released for this challenge. It's a wrap front style with an allover lace design. I was on the fence about the design when I was planning my project, but I decided to just go with it and I'm very happy about that decision. The finished sweater is much more versatile then I originally thought. Since the sweater is the portion of this challenge that takes the most time, I planned and made this piece first. Happily it only took 1 month and that was with mostly only knitting on the weekends.
The sweater is made with Andi's usual top-down in the round construction and with set in sleeves. The sleeves are plain stockinette stitch and a nice airy, loose gauge to keep things from being too hot (a thoughtful detail given the summer style of this sweater in my opinion, but be aware that the gauge is loose).
Gordo bomb! lol my dog really wanted to be a part of this whole picture taking business. The back of the sweater has the same all over lace pattern as the front. As far as lace goes, this is the easiest chart ever and it's very quickly memorized. Normally with Andi's patterns I knit a size Large but increase to an X Large at the waist as well as lengthening for my long torso. In this sweater I was actually able to just keep increasing along the neckline until I got the stitch count of the XL size waist. I have no shaping at the sides - my size worked out so that the lace pattern fit in perfectly, so the design is never interrupted. This extra increasing not only gave me the waist size I needed, it also gave me extra length - problem solved! I will say that while it made the knitting easier, it doesn't really help my figure much to not have any shaping at the sides. I'll still wear it, but this contributes to me not wearing it closed.
Which leads me to another cool aspect of this design - it can be worn 2 ways - there are buttons at the side seams and buttonholes at the points, so you just wrap the sweater over and button it at the sides. But you can also leave it open for a waterfall look.
I had the perfect buttons in my stash! I got an entire tube of these buttons for $2 at The Sewing Studio back in April, and they are the perfect color and size. I love the kind of 80s vibe they have with the triangle holes. I also like the i-cord bind off. I've done i-cord bind of before, but never where it went around the entire sweater before. I seriously thought this binding would never end, but I persevered and I'm glad I did because it's a nice effect.
I've never thought I would like the waterfall style, but I really like the look of this one opened up. To be honest I will probably always wear the cardigan open like this unless I maybe wear it with a dress. Because it sits right at my waist, a lot of my skirts and tops can cause the sweater to bunch up a bit. Also I don't love that the doubled up knitted fabric visually thickens my tummy. I do love the v neckline though. So we'll see how I end up wearing it most.
I guess I should probably talk about my yarn, huh? Whoops. I wanted to work from my (ridiculously large) stash for this project, and I'm happy to say that all the fabric and yarn were stash busts :) The yarn is Bernat Cotton-ish, a cotton/acrylic blend, in the Jade Jersey colorway. The color is a nice teal-y emerald green (it's not quite that teal in real life). I originally bought this to make a different sweater a few years ago, but looking at that pattern now it's not really a style I would wear much so I decided this yarn would work well for this project. It's a DK weight and cotton like the pattern calls for (the original suggested yarn is Knit Pick Cotlin), and after swatching and blocking I decided it would work out. I'm happy I was right (sometimes you never know!). This yarn was nice to work with especially considering how inexpensive it was. I would certainly recommend this yarn if you're looking for cotton DK yarn.
Little side story - usually I take blog photos on my own with a shutter release, but now that my husband is back around he wanted to help me. Both of us out on the porch was just something my dog had to be involved in, and he kept walking over to be in the shot  - which is so odd since he typically hides when we start pointing a camera at him (I think he didn't like that I was getting all my husband's attention). So now blog photos are a family event, lol. He is a pretty cute photo bomber though.
So that's my Anaheim sweater!It's so nice to have have another sweater finished (I was starting to think I wouldn't hit my sweater quota this year compared to the previous few years!), and I really enjoyed this as an easy but not boring knit. I love how it goes with the rest of my outfit, but I also know it will go with other things in my wardrobe. Yay for basic items!

Check back throughout this week to see the deets on the rest of my outfit!

Yarn: 3 skeins of Bernat Cotton-ish in Jade Jersey - $9.75
Pattern: Anaheim by Andi Satterlund - $5.40
Notions: 2 buttons - $0.10
Time: 1 month
Total Cost: $15.25