Sunday, 24 July 2016

Outfit-along 2016!

Happy Outfit-Along 2016 everyone!
Here I have a cardigan and skirt and top :)

The A-Line skirt I am wearing is similar to the Sewaholic Hollyburn, which is the official sewing pattern for the Outfit-along. However, I made the pattern myself as an experiment.

The corduroy was from an op shop and I feel it looks like it's seen better days. It's far more shabby than other cords I've worked with and as such this feels more like a wearable toile. It also collects dust and hair apparently.

Lapped zip and button in waistband

I faced the waistband with a plain cotton to reduce bulk.

Blind hemmed with my blind hemming foot, after finishing the edge with an overlock.

I like the way the skirt's shape turned out but I will improve it next time. I used my skirt block, which I haven't used before now! I should really make a post sometime on how I developed it.

To briefly touch on the patternmaking, when you create the A-Line skirt you rotate part of the dart value to the hem. I rotated out the darts that were closest to the side seams as per instructions in the Armstrong text. However, my back darts look silly as the inner darts are so close to each other! Next time I would rotate in the inner back darts out instead.
I am not sure if this is an issue with my block, or if it just goes to show that each block has different features that must be worked with to achieve the best result :)
My block DOES have quite a lot of dart value since my backside is so big compared to my waist! Lol :)

These back darts are too close together and look silly to my eye. Focus on the back of the cardigan instead lol ;)

I just eyeballed the pocket shape and placement and I think it turned out okay. I cut the pockets with the nap of the corduroy going the opposite way to the skirt, oops! But it doesn't really show. I mean, it's a subtle feature...yeah, that's what it is...

I like patch pockets as a cute feature to an otherwise very plain skirt.

As for the top, I have used this sleeve previously and it looks really quite different this time!
The previous time I used it, I used it with the Sewaholic Renfrew top. This time I'm working on trying to develop a knit top block that fits me perfectly, but I haven't got there yet. In my previous Renfrew tops, the shoulder was a bit too narrow. But I think having it a bit too narrow actually helps the gathers of the full sleeve sit better? I think this fabric is also a bit of a different drape of course, so that is probably a factor. But you can see that the puff sleeve kind of likes to sit straight up in the air which looks a bit funny!

My previous puff sleeve top. Shoulder is narrower and the gathers sit more rounded.

Any thoughts on puff sleeves guys?
Maybe next time I will take a little bit of height out of the sleeve and that might help it retain a gathered puff but not stick up so high?

Neckband overlocked on and top stitched with twin needle.

Twin needle hems. I try to get the zig zag right on the raw edge of the fabric so it's nice and neat! This is an art considering you have to stitch it with the right side up!
Anyway, I also made a cardigan! This is Primrose by Cecily Glowick MacDonald. Honestly it's so simple I sort of regretted buying it. I could have just plugged in a stitch pattern and made the cardigan pattern myself. But then again, having someone choose the stitch pattern for me saves me time and all the unncessary decision-making angst I like to do!

One thing I really didn't like about the pattern is the weirdly wide neckline. I rewrote it so it was narrower. It's not really me knitting if I don't change anything,

As you can see I lengthened it and gave it waist shaping too. Told you I should have just written it from scratch! It's a dark navy, although it looks grey in these pics...

I love the k1 p1 invisible sewn bind off for rib! It takes a while but looks so good. This picture is not the best though, sorry! 

When I got to sewing the buttons on, I realised I'd forgotten to make a buttonhole in the neckline ribbing...OOPS!  I just hand stitched, pulling some of the ribbing to make a hole big enough for the button. HAHA. Luckily the ribbing was quite loose and the button small, or I'd have had to do something more serious! Love those easy fixes... lol.
And I just realised I never got a picture with the whole cardy done up. Oops!

WHOA my hand looks amputated here

This is pretty much my uniform right now: Full skirt, cropped cardy, and there's usually some navy and/or a small scale print in the mix. Well, what can I say, I stick with what works for me!
I'm not 100% sure on my flower headband though. I made it myself and I honestly don't wear it much, but that might be because I always wear a hat outside and I don't want to crush the flowers :P

Fake flowers sewn on an elastic band. Fancy (not)
Anyway, do you have a uniform? 

Monday, 18 July 2016

Completed: Tenaya Cardigan

Cardigan time! The pattern is Tenaya by Elizabeth Doherty.

This is knit in 4ply, which is much lighter weight than I'm used to! The only other cardigan I've made in 4ply was my Honeybee Cardigan, which was mainly lace, and a lot smaller, so was quicker!
I quite enjoyed how long it took to knit this though. I don't feel the need to pump out lots of cardigans. Knitting a lot of 10ply garments as I learned was good- It helped me learn what I did and didn't like. But now I feel more confident, I would like to knit more lightweight-gauge cardigans, as I love the more delicate look, and they are a great layering piece for the warmer seasons!

And I'm also aiming for some more neutral-coloured cardigans. They may seem a little boring, but they are very versatile. And given my love for colourful dresses and skirts, sometimes it works to tone it down a little.

The whole body photos don't do the lovely details justice so here are some close-ups.

I love the buttons! And the cables are so intricate!

I really love the moss stitch button bands, they have such great texture!!

The cables and lace definitely increased time spent on this piece. Again, like last time I made my cables without a cable needle, which is a great technique, in my opinion! At least the sleeves were knit plain, which was a nice bit of mindless stocking stitch. I'm cheeky, so I would save the sleeve parts for lectures at uni, so I could knit away while still being able to listen. lol.

I was a big fan of how this pattern was written. It uses an elegant top-down construction which I have seen in some of the Andi Satterlund patterns I've made like Agatha and Chuck, and I'm a convert. Anything which eliminates seaming is great. And I love how I can try on top-down patterns as I go.
I love the design of the button bands. The moss stitch is lovely, and the neckband is done in an interesting way, with a few interesting set-up rounds before changing to moss stitch. It really makes a feature of the seamline!

OMG though you guys, I frogged so much on this cardigan. So much.
For example, after I'd picked up stitches for the sleeves, which are created with short rows, I knitted the whole sleeve cap and tried it on. It was too big! Gah! My own fault for not doing any calculations on the size of the sleeve... So I ripped the whole thing out and picked up less stitches the second time. (I've usually picked up about 1 for every 2 stitches when forming a top-down short-row sleeve cap. This pattern has you pick up more, which I thought must have been due to the small gauge, but it didn't work well for me.)

THEN, I did some calculations about the body size I'd selected (the smallest one). My numbers weren't adding up - the pattern was turning out 3 inches bigger than the pattern schematic noted!
I emailed the designer, who explained that the 3 inches extra is allowed because of the cables drawing the fabric in, thus making the garment smaller.
Well, I disagreed. Having already tried it on and seeing that it looked too big across the chest, I also thought that this calculation didn't work logically. The cable panels are interspersed with lace. And lace makes the gauge LOOSER, so would offset the tightness of the cables at least somewhat.

I ended up making the drastic decision to frog the partially completed sleeve (for the second time!), and rip back to the mid armhole. Not happy! My poor husband knows all about these moments as he bears the brunt of my whinging, haha.

So I decided to reduce the cardigan by twenty stitches. At mid armhole I added some decreases at the edges (rather than starting the cardigan again from scratch), and I also cast on less stitches at the bottom of the armholes. You can see the mid-armhole decreases in the picture above.

At the end of the day, I think I was a little over-zealous when reducing the size of the sleeve. It now fits very snugly, and I think I'd prefer a little more ease put back in. Lol :) Oh sleeves, when will I get you right?

Anyway, the frogging wasn't finished. The neckband was another source of misery, as I first misread the directions for the fancy i-cord you do after picking up stitches. After ripping that out, I followed the directions correctly, but still got a bad result. The yarn overs were causing that row to look holey, horrible and loose. I think this is a flaw in the pattern, but I couldn't see anyone mentioning it on Ravelry, so maybe it's just me?? After getting bad results and asking for help from the designer, I eventually won and got it looking okay.
After all this, I can't even remember the details, other than going down 2 needle sizes instead of going up 1 needle size like the pattern suggests.

The dress I'm wearing is blogged here, by the way.
I'm glad I finally got around to blogging this as it was quite a lot of work! Too bad the dark colour hides the lovely details so well. And I still don't think dark colours are best with lace; I think I'll always prefer lace with light colours as it suits the airy nature of lace. Maybe I should make another in a different colour, heh :)

Monday, 4 July 2016

720 degrees

720 degrees = 2 circle skirts!
Just a small blog post this time.

But first, let me address what it going on in these photos. I have taken photos inside my house.. the horror!! I don't like taking pictures inside, for many reasons (mainly because our house is so small there is not even one blank wall to stand against, lol).
I have left the mess on the table for truthiness - There is constantly a mess on the dining room table for my sewing stuff!

I decided to take pics inside my house because I am thinking that I'd rather blog with bad photos than not blog at all.

If this skirt looks familiar, it's because I altered an old one I made to make it better! It's got a whole new waistband and is shortened and re-hemmed.
The old one had a folded one piece waistband, but this time I faced it in a cotton. Much less bulky, and not itchy like the wool.

I also added belt loops by using this thread chains tutorial from Grainline studio. It's much easier than the previous way I learned to do thread tacks! And I love these as they are so subtle! I've been going on a real belt loops rampage lately, adding them to everything.

I should have been more careful when stitching the waistband though, you can see the cotton facing went a little bit twisted in some areas.

Here is the old blog post about this skirt. That was way back when I was teaching myself the basics! I know more than nothing now, which is nice.
Oh, and here is the post about the cardigan I'm wearing, Agatha by Andi Satterlund. :)

Here, compare the lengths:

Well, these photos are really hard to compare. I hope that you can see the effect of the slight shortening. I think it's an improvement! Guess I still like the same colours though... haha!

Here is my second circle skirt. I don't like this outfit as much though!
It is honestly made of the nastiest fabric (I was given it for free) and it's a pretty gross synthetic. I liked the colour, but I would love to upgrade this one day to a much nicer version in a nice fabric!
Here is the blog post about the cardigan I'm wearing!

"You have caught me in my natural habitat!  D: "

Brace yourself: Here is a photo of the orginal hem. THE HORROR. The bias is a jerk. Also this fabric.

Here is the re-done hem, faced with bias tape. Sweet relief.

That's it for now. I'm feeling a bit uninspired lately, perhaps it is Winter-itis? But I think most of the blogs I started following seem to be trailing off a bit too.  Was blogging a fad that's slowly dying? Well, I, for one intend to keep blogging, but it'll definitely continue to be sporadic for the next while!

And where do you guys stand on the quality of photos for your projects? I'm happy to stay un-Pinteresty to be honest :)

Saturday, 18 June 2016

The Piped Floral Shirt Dress

Hello! I've made another shirt dress, but this one is next-level, thanks to the piping. I made this and took the photos a few months ago, hence the bare legs!

It's probably one of the best things I've made, I think! I really love the fabric and I'm really pleased with how the piping complements it. I even mocked it up on the computer to decide what style to make and what colour to make the piping... nerd! Haha :)
It looks kinda black but it's dark navy which matches the background check on the fabric.

I found the piping challenging, so here are some tips from me!

-I decided to make the collar pattern piece 6mm smaller all the way around the outside edge to compensate for the addition of the piping

-You don't have an undercollar for piped collars, as you want the piping to sit on the edge, so there is no need to roll the seam to the underside! I cut 2 collars the exact same size.

-When making the piping, I found I could use the groove in the bottom of my invisible zip foot to hold the cord in place while I wrapped it in my bias strip! This worked because I used a very narrow cord.

-I stingily bought minimal piping cord, then realised I forgot to allow for both sides of the front! I had just enough, but i had to taper the piping to nothing halfway through the underlap. You don't see it because it's underneath, but it looks a bit funny. Next time I'd have it go all the way to the waistline, for neatness's sake! And maybe also have the piping with no cord in it at the point where it's hidden, so it doesn't add unnecessary bulk...hmm, ideas, ideas.

-I didn't pipe the underlap of the skirt, and still wouldn't, as it is is completely hidden.

As for the sewing of the piping, that was the trickiest bit. Mainly the corners of the collar point!

-You have to clip into the tape part of the piping (the bit that will be enclosed in the seam) to get it to go around the corner.

-I found a snippet of "Cool Couture: Construction Secrets for Runway Style" by Kenneth King on Google Books, which had piping instructions.
This mentioned squashing the piping up at the corner, easing in extra length when you sew it on initially. This way, it sits nicely when it's turned out and goes from an inner curve (shorter) to an outer curve (longer). I did my best to do this, but I won't say my piping looked perfect. Passable though. lol.

Facing with overlocked edge

I actually turned the collar upside down so the interfaced side was underneath after I'd done the piping, because I thought my piping corners looked best on that side. But then I realised that side of the collar looked a bit wrinkled in one spot, unlike the interfaced side of the collar! BOO! So it was really a trade-off. Grumble. The print helps disguise that slight wrinklyness. Well, lesson learned.

The skirt is a three-quarter circle with the addition of a seamed centre front facing for the buttonwrap (the seam being necessary of course to contain the piping!). Same facing deal goes for the bodice. The bodice pattern is the same frankenpattern shirt dress I've used twice before, with the aforementioned collar and facing tweaks.

There are pockets (yay!) and belt loops (yay!). I think that's about it!
More piping please. I need to get more into details that take garments up a notch. They're so worth it.

What excellent sewing details make your heart skip a beat?

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Floral Rayon Summer Dress

This dress is based off the Derby Dress by Christine Haynes. I saw Trees' adorable squirrel print version of it, and fell in love! I decided to make my own pattern based off this as inspiration.

Neckline ruffle!

Neckline ruffle I say!

Warning: this post is technical and very sewing-nerdy!!

My first step in this direction was making a singlet in a similar style, just to test the waters. For the straps, I actually used bra findings to make adjustable straps like you find on RTW singlets. It's not really necessary when you can custom fit the straps to your length while sewing, but it was interesting! I also like that it has your back (no pun intended) if the straps stretch or shrink over the lifetime of the garment! I didn't use them on the dress though, mainly because I couldn't find any in the local shops that were suitable, weirdly.
I.. don't have any pics of the singlet (yet) though, sorry!

The straps on this dress are just  top stitched down at the back.

A lot of the stuff I do with my bodice block is making stuff up by eye. This was really no different, and I guessed what I wanted to do when making my pattern by using my existing knowledge of my bodice block, looking at my inspiration picture, and thinking through what I would like to change. I also tweaked a few things while sewing, based on my judgment, like the ruffle (slightly reshaping the edges, and leaving a bit more space free on the edge of the armholes).
I decided to stick with a waist seam rather than the Derby dress's waistless style. I love my waist seams.

I could have made it straight across at the back, but then it wouldn't cover the base of my bra straps (you know, the triangular peak that forms before the straps). And I think this also looks nicer! I actually put my bra on my dress form, put my back pattern piece on top, and then marked where the outline of the base of the strap was, so I could get the shape just right on my pattern.

I really like the mint colour combo with this cardigan and hat! It would work equally well with pink.

Just for the record, I have no qualms about using the Derby dress as inspiration, as I am not making any profit off doing so, and I also tweaked the idea significantly to my own liking. Big thanks to Christine Haynes for being an inspiration though!!

I did the straps differently to the Derby dress too. I thought long and hard about the order of everything I wanted! Back neckline and front neckine first, then the big long armhole piece starting at the back, that runs off into a strap, then gets attached to the back again! The binding was not easy to sew, but I got there. Phew...

I had to recut the skirt once: I initially made it a gathered rectangle with a gather ratio of 1.5, but that looked really dumb; it wasn't enough fullness and the ruffle looked really bad at the bottom, sort of pulling it in and making a tulip shape, which made my hips look puffy. It was weird and unflattering.
Lucky I had enough fabric to recut it! I had hoped to get a top out of the remnants but that idea was scuppered! I think it was a blessing in disguise though, as I feel like this fabric is poor quality.

The fabric was really hard to work with, soft and mushy. It didn't feel tight and smooth like previous rayons I've worked with. In fact, when trying to attach gathered pieces to other pieces, the stitches wouldn't even hold the gathers permanently, they'd still slide around! I ended up stabilising all those seams with either fusible tape or rayon seam binding before re-sewing the gathered bits back on, anything to give enough stability to the fabric. Lots of extra work. I've never encountered this before either! It also stretched out like craaazy on the bias instantly after cutting. I carefully stabilised the neckline and armholes back to shape (based on the measurement of the flat pattern) with seam binding/fusible tape (can't remember which; they both do the same thing). I had to carefully stitch the tape on (tape on top) while eaaaaaasing all that stretch back into the correct length underneath.

I feel the fabric will age quickly and badly - the print didn't look like a high quality job (I'm no textiles expert but I have a sense about this based on previous experience), the kind of black that isn't going to age well. We'll see.

Anyway back to the skirt: I recut the skirt with more gather as well as flare (same skirt as I used for this dress, but shorter obviously!). I'm so much happier! The ruffle at the base is still just a rectangle. Ugh though, due to my frustration at all the different troubleshooting I had done so far, I was getting impatient. I didn't bother levelling the hem before attaching the ruffle.
UGH, the bias drooped SO MUCH at the sides. Totally my fault, but I couldn't be bothered to fix it.

This pic shows the dreaded bias droop the most. Argh my eyes!!!
It dropped more on one side than the other as well. Blah

Okay, since this is fitted at the waist, I put an invisible zip in the side seam so I could get it on. But it couldn't go right to the top of the garment, as there are bound edges! So I started it a few centimetres below the underarm (sewing the seam up first). I'm very pleased as it looks neat! I have put in relatively few invisible zips so I still breathe a sigh of relief when they go in nicely.
I did want to try putting pockets in too, but I had reached my limit of patience with this fabric and garment.

Sneaky zip!

Open zip at side.

PHEW, I'm tuckered out from all this technical writing about a garment that looks so carefree! Appearances are deceiving.... Back to the style, I really like it, and I'm really proud of the result of my hard work.

I'd like to make another in future and I'm sure it'll be so much easier!! Maybe a solid would show the neckline ruffle off better.... what kind of fabric would you make this in??
Even better, link me a fabric in the comments, that would make my day :D