Saturday, September 27, 2014

Saturday Sew-A-Thon: Mending At Long Last

I've found myself in a strange situation for the past two weekends. Now that my husband's work schedule has him working on Saturdays, I have the whole night to do whatever I want ... so after I catch up on reading blogs, I have to decide what to do with my time. At first I hem and haw, but if there aren't any family b-day parties to attend, I end up wanting to sew. 
This past Saturday, I started by altering my Classy Parisian Top. An hour later, I started searching my mending basket for inspiration on what to come next. My sister bought my nephew some new jeans the next size up, but they ended up too long - by more than you could really just scrunch up at the ankles without him tripping over. She wanted me to just cuff them on the outside so we could just let the hem out when he grows into them (which let's face it, that will be in maybe a week and a half, lol). This was a very easy alteration, but I had to do it by hand. Kids certainly have tiny pant leg diameters, so much so that I couldn't fit it in my machine. I made sure to line up the top stitching so at a glance you don't even see the cuff. This way, we can just run a seam ripper up there and it's like this alteration never happened.
Next on the mending agenda was to finally tackle this skirt I've only worn maybe twice. My mom got it for me as part of my Easter Outfit about 3 (maybe 4) years ago. I wore it that day, maybe once more, only to have the blind hem come completely out in the wash. That was literally the only problem with this skirt, and I just never did it til now. Shameful, I know. I think about a year ago I actually bought the matching bright red-orange thread. Still never did it.
The truly sad part of this fix is that I think it took all of 10 minutes and that was including winding a bobbin and ironing. My machine makes blind hemming completely mindless and it comes out great every time. Love it! Just look at that hem :) Now I can finally wear this again. After all this time, I think I can count this as a new skirt, he he.

After this fix, I grabbed one of my oldest WIPs in my closet and spent the rest of my night on it. You'll be seeing it very soon :)

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Classier Parisian (Alterations For The Win!)

Well, it looks like all I needed to get my rear in gear with altering my Almost Classy Parisian top was to blog about it, lol. I wrote the post on Friday, scheduled it to go up on Sunday, then took it apart and fixed it Saturday after work. This was technically fixed by the time anyone reading my blog saw it. If only I hadn't posted those highly unflattering photos, lol.
To see the top before alterations, click here. I went into this alteration just knowing it was too big. I put the top on, pinned up the excess length, then pinned in the sides to follow my curves. I unpicked the bottom band, then sewed up on side seam to my new adjustments, and put it on to discover it wasn't just the body that looked sloppy - the arms did too. I ended up taking in the entire body of the shirt by 5/8" (sleeves, body, sleeve bands and hip band), making this top now a size Medium as the pattern is drafted. And it's still not tight tight, just "fitted". Now that the rest of the shirt fits well, I can see that the upper chest could come in to remove those wrinkles at my underarms and the collar is a smidge wide, so next time I make this it will be a medium all over. Me? A Medium? This is the first time in several years ...
See the difference in the sleeve? I still see that blasted crease in the fabric even though I steamed the heck out of it, lol. Oh well, maybe when I actually wash the shirt. No more bagging around the tummy though!
And there's still bra-back-fat, but you can't have everything in life. Not a wrinkle fest in the back! Huzzah! I ended up shortening the top by a full 2 inches all the way around and it's still a fine length. And I have a long torso! So strange. 
These are the pieces I cut off. It doesn't look like much, but man what a difference, huh? This even helped with the issue I had of the fabric clinging to the edge of my bra. Who woulda thunk!
Ta Da! A fitted shirt that no longer looks dumpy. This is much closer to how Julia Bobbin fitted this top, which is the blog post that lead me to purchase the pattern in the first place. I have two things that I really want to reiterate with this post though. 1) If something doesn't fit, it's not that big a deal to take it apart and try again. Seriously, I pulled apart the entire shirt except the collar and it only took about an hour to get it wearable. And 2) Fitted clothes are more flattering. It took me a long time to accept this, but no matter what your size, you will look slimmer if your clothes hug your body a bit. Covering yourself in too long/too loose clothes just makes you look bigger! So hug a few curves and show the body you have to its best advantage. 

I really think being more "fitted" like this looks better with this style of neckline and collar, don't you?

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

WIP Wednesday: Marion and Random Sewing

Well, I managed to get a decent chunk of knitting time this past weekend and now my Marion looks like this:
I'm halfway through the waist decreases, and I'm really loving how it's turning out :) The cables are becoming easier - I find if I don't question the stitches as I do them, it goes much smoother, lol. When I started the cables I would think, "I wonder what this stitch will look like," as I followed the chart and then I would lay out the work and double check to make sure they all looked ok, etc. This took a lot of time and caused a lot of stress. I've figured out I just need to follow the chart and not think about it too hard and making this become much more enjoyable. Speaking of more enjoyable, I have a tip to share with you...
This sweater requires 6 stitch markers to keep track of the patterns involved, all of which need to be labelled with a letter "U" through "Z". Until last night, I was keeping track of this using normal stitch markers that had small pieces of paper with the letters written on them. This did the job and all, but it was SO ANNOYING. It's a silly thing, but the papers would rustle and make noise, plus they made it harder to position my hands in the way I would usually hold my needles, making me not stitch as quickly. I saw this trick with "pony beads" a few years ago during a Mystery Crochet Along - one of the girls put letter beads on her stitch markers to keep track of the pieces as she made them. Suddenly the idea clicked and I decided to swing by my local Dollar Tree to see if they had the beads. No joke, I just bought 356 beads for $1. Could it get any better? The beads are nice and small so they fit right on the markers and still stay out of my way. It was an absolute joy to work on this sweater last night and it was all because of those stupid beads, lol. I'm now ready for whatever letter combination I may need in the future.
I've also done quite a bit of sewing lately. I was going to keep this one quiet until I finish it this weekend, but I'm just so excited I had to show it now, lol. I started this skirt back in 2012. I ran into problems over and over again, finally ending up with a really makeshift skirt that was way too big. I hung it up and forgot about it until this past weekend when I just decided to finally hash it out. I no joke pulled the ENTIRE thing apart (which took hours on its own just in the seam ripping), but I re-tooled it and made it something I will actually be able to wear. It's now just waiting for me to hem it and it's finished! Expect to see the finished project with all the gorey details soon.
Also, I just had to show these off. I've been on a self-imposed thrifting ban lately to save some money, so I haven't had anything to report. I gave in yesterday though and stepped into a store I hadn't visited in months only to find a mega score. The top left "travel" fabric is a nice cotton that has a mint green gingham print base with pastel planes and cameras and such. It's at least 3 or 4 yards. The rainbow striped fabric is some kind of outdoor furniture type fabric. It's the widest cut I've ever seen - like it's probably 100" wide - and it's about a 3 yard length that is only missing a 2' square. I'm sure this will be handy in the future. The red-based 70s quilted looking stuff in that stack is about a 1 yard piece, definitely from the 1970s. I wish there was more for a dress or something, but I'm excited to see what I can use it for. The other 70s quilted looking fabric in the bottom left is the piece I'm most excited about. It's some kind of heavy cotton, like a duck cloth or canvas, and all the little triangles have different ditsy floral prints in them. The most exciting part of this is fabric is that it's at least 5 yards long :) I will definitely be making some kind of awesome dress out of it. The final piece in the bottom right corner is a real piece of cotton feed sack cloth! I almost can't believe it myself. It's a pretty floral border print with a cream base and blue edge. The piece is between 2 and 3 yards long, but I know I will at least get a skirt out of that awesome border :)

The most exciting part of this haul - each of these pieces of fabric cost $1.00! Man, I love thrift stores :)
So that's it for me this week :) I'll be reporting on some finished items very soon though!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

"Sailor Moon" Jasmine Top

Guys, an amazing thing has happened over the past week with me - I've suddenly really wanted to finish some ridiculously old WIPs! This doesn't happen often, so when I get the urge I just go with it. The item that started it all was something I can't even figure out when I originally began making. I know I lived in my current house, so it was at least within the last year and a half. I'm guessing about a year... 
After my first attempt at the Colette Jasmine Top, I foolishly thought I had the fitting kinks figured out and decided to cut right into my "good fabric" and make the version I really wanted. I quickly realized that I had no idea what I was doing fit-wise ... again. The first failed muslin (pictured in the link above - ugh) was made up in a size 18. I was so worried about not making it big enough that I figured I would just take it in to fit instead of trusting the pattern measurements. This was my first time using an "indie pattern", and I knew the sizing didn't have as much ease as the bigger pattern companies. This time around, I laid my "altered" finished muslin on the pattern and decided to go with a size 14 - big difference, folks. The fit was much better off the bat from this simple change. Maybe one of these days I will stop thinking I'm larger then I actually am. Maybe.
So before I tell you all the actual problems that made this top take a year to finish, let's look at the OK finished product, shall we? I seriously love the design of this top. The sleeve cuffs and collar are awesome. That notch at the sleeve is so cute :) I know it's hard to see in the pictures because if the lighting, but the base fabric is actually a pale gray-blue color. The fabric is a wonderful chambray, which can we please wax poetic a moment about chambray? It is delicious stuff. It's wonderfully light weight and comfy for Florida weather for one thing. I'm excited to make something else with it in the future :) The collar and cuffs are in a not-quite-navy-but-not-quite-royal blue cotton poplin. Both of these fabrics were purchased at Hancock Fabrics way the hell long ago with this shirt in mind. I could've sworn I blogged about the fabric at the time, but I can't find mention of it anywhere. It was definitely back in 2012 though, and I vaguely remember it being on sale - maybe like $4 - $5 a yard? It couldn't have been much more than that since I'm notoriously cheap, lol.
Ah the back - you can start to see my fitting issues here with all these wrinkles. Yeah, it's like that all the time. I even stood up very straight and smoothed out the back before I took this pic - no dice. At least I don't have to look at them when I wear it, lol. I'm still not 100% sure what to do to fix this in the future - maybe go up a size on the back pieces? I'll play with it before I make the top again.
Here's a look at the collar without all my hair in the way. The collar is one of the parts I'm most proud of to be honest. I finished the body of the top as well as putting the collar together last year before I stopped working on this, I just hadn't actually attached the collar to the shirt yet. That is where I picked this up this past Thursday. I had a few hours to kill while my husband was at a meeting and I suddenly decided I was tired of shuffling all the cut out pieces and pattern around my sewing room all the time and thought I could tackle it before he got home. I was delusional in the amount of time I thought I needed, but I did end up finishing it that night :) The collar is not perfectly rounded at the shoulders and I apparently couldn't be bothered to switch to blue thread (seriously, white thread in a blue collar? What was I thinking?) I can see the stitches at the points sometimes, which kind of drives me nuts, but I wasn't about to take the whole thing apart. I was moving forward with this, not back!
So the first thing I had to do after basting the collar down was tackle the neck facing. I decided to get clever all that time ago and cut the back facing similar to ready to wear shirts - a.k.a. so you can't see the annoying facing while on the hanger. I thought I knew how to do this - I thought wrong. Instead of using the facing pattern piece and drafting it longer, I used the back pattern piece and just cut it about 1/3 down the piece. This was fine in theory, and it worked at the actual neckline, but not anywhere else. Tell me, past smarty-pants-Megan, where you supposed to encase that bottom edge of this facing, hmmm? Yeah, this pattern doesn't have a yoke. So I ended up using pinking shears along the edge. I also completely forgot to catch the sides of the facing in the sleeves when I set them in. This was a modern-Megan duh moment, but oh well - I was not about to unpick the sleeves and redo them since I had to set them in twice each just to get them like they currently are. So I tacked the edges to the sleeve seam allowance by hand. I also hand tacked the facing at the shoulder seams and behind the loop at the front point. There is nothing in this world that I hate more than a facing that wants to pop out all the time, so I stitched as much as I thought I could get away with. It definitely helped, though it still pops out when I put the top on. Oh well.
Now for the official problems (yeah, I bet you thought I'd already started them, huh? That was nothing, lol). The sleeve cuffs stick out like little wings on my underarm. The weird thing is ... this is how the pattern is drafted. Anyone else out there have this happen on this pattern? I was super careful to follow the weird zig zaggy line on the sleeve just as pictured in the pattern booklet. I'll be addressing that on future versions for sure.
Even though the fit of the size 14 was much better, it still had issues - most notably with it gaping away from my chest. I know now that I need a "hollow chest adjustment" on anything I sew, but I had no idea at the time. I just sewed it together, pinned in the excess wedge at the neckline, sewed it again, tried it on, and repeated. I got it to lay against my chest in the end, but I just couldn't make it not crease oddly mid-boobs. I have two creases that don't ever go away when I wear this. I now know why this is - hollow chest adjustments need to be made in the pattern. You remove the wedge, then re-true the center line so it is straight. Straight center line = no creases over the boobs. Essentially the way I sewed this would have worked if my boobs were box shaped, but they aren't. Thus, I live with creases. I don't think it's something anyone will ever mention when I wear it, and I'm sure some people have this happen with most rtw tops. It just drives me crazy when I look down. At least the collar looks good from above. Maybe that will distract my eye :)
It does look nice on the hanger though :) Shame we have to wear things and ruin them, lol. I love that I can't see the yucky insides or a funky facing when it hangs too. I will certainly be perfecting the concept of the longer back facing in the future. It's just so nice to have everything enclosed. Very professional. Also, I was a good girl and followed the directions this time with the inside of the sleeve cuffs. I hand sewed them! And I didn't want to shoot myself. Always a plus.
And it just wouldn't be right to make a nautical shirt and not include this picture. I wore this top to work the day after I made it, and while I didn't get the dreaded, "Oh, did you make that?", I was told two other equally annoying fun things: "You look just like Sailor Moon!" and, "You look just like a stewardess from Catch Me If You Can!" The Sailor Moon comment was from my husband, who seems to forget that Sailor Moon had a WHITE shirt with RED stripes on the collar (my sister later agreed with him though, so the name stuck in my head). Admittedly I did wear this with a navy blue pencil skirt, so it looked very much like a uniform, so I can "get on board" with the stewardess comment. If only I had a pillbox hat, I would totally live that one up. Instead you just get a photo of me acting ridiculous. I can't wait for people I know to think that this is a serious/legitimate photo pose for me, lol.

In the end, I still love the style of this top and I love this color combo. I just wish the fit had turned out better. I know I will make this again sometime, but I will certainly do myself the courtesy I never have before - make a legitimate muslin. I just need to get a few things straightened out and then I will have an army of these. Wouldn't this be cute in a knit?! Maybe then I won't have to make that muslin. Hmmm ... lol.

Fabric: 2.5 yards pale gray-blue chambray, $12-ish; 1/2 yard navy/royal blue cotton poplin, $3-ish
Pattern: Jasmine by Colette Patterns, Free (birthday gift, woo hoo!)
Hours: There's really no telling, but I spent about 5 hours on it on Thursday