Friday, 17 April 2015

Completed: First Fair Isle

Hi guys! I hope all your overseas readers are enjoying the weather warming up....The winter chill is approaching here and I am not amused! Anyway, here's a top I finished a while back!
This was my first attempt at fair-isle knitting and it really wasn't too bad!

This came from a book I reviewed when I got it for my birthday last year, Learn to Knit, Love to Knit. I recommended it at the time, but now I say stay away! My first project from it was a bit of disaster; I've frogged it and hope it remake it into something I like.
The problem with this book is not only the poor fit on the first pattern I made- none of the patterns have schematics and I have no trust in it anymore. lol. 

So this is basically inspired by the book, but it is nearly all reworked by me. I just used the chart and garment style from the book; everything else I made up!

So what does that mean? It means custom stitch counts for every part of the pattern. I used a different weight of yarn from the pattern and also created my usual custom bust/hip/waist shaping. I also went for about 3" of negative ease, unlike the pattern. 
Some of the elements of the pattern are borrowed from Peabody, a pattern I knitted a long time ago.... which I have also frogged! I know! I'm killing my yarn babies, to make them into something I wear more often. I currently have 3 projects frogged, waiting to be reborn.
I borrowed a lot of the shoulder shaping and neckline from Peabody, as well as the sleeves, although I modified them a little.

I made the pattern without side seams, which is my preferred method of construction. :) So much easier!

The yarn I used was Valley Yarns "Goshen", which is a cotton/rayon/silk blend. I knew that fair isle was easiest and most suitable for wool yarns, because they are "sticky" and the fibres hold on to each other well. Being 100% stubborn, I decided my first try at fair isle was to be in this slippery, smooth yarn. I was concerned about the negative ease stretching it out too, and possibly letting the floats show through. First, I asked my knitting guru Gail what she thought, and she said you could do negative ease with fair isle. And you know what? It didn't work out too bad! It's not perfect, and I think it stretches a little at the bust, but I think it looks acceptable.

This is the closest shot I grabbed. Now if anyone is inspecting my chest more closely than this, I don't approve.

I think the fair isle pattern is really cute and I'm glad I started simple. I'd like to do more fair isle, but I'm not buying any more yarn till I work through what I have. Also, does anyone else find picking colours for colourwork quite the daunting task??

Guts! Pretty floats.
I honestly don't know how often I'll wear this top, but it was a good experience. And I KNOW I will wear it more than if I made it out of 100% wool like the sample in the book is. Why would I want a 100% wool top with short sleeves? First, it would run the risk of irritating the skin, as a lot of wools aren't skin-soft. And then my torso will be too hot in wool, or I'll be warm in wool but with freezing arms. I don't quite "get" the concept of a short-sleeved wool top. Then again, I do have a sensitive personal thermostat. 

The sample from the book. CUTE styling, except for the mega positive-ease.
I do need a pair of pants that actually fits me though... I have to wear these jeans with a belt to keep them up (that pesky pear-shape waist-to-hip ratio). You can see the belt buckle makes a funny lump underneath the top!

I went to the trouble of adding bust short rows, like I've done before. They're really quite invisible. It's just my knitting nerdiness coming out, but I like how they improve the shaping :)

Knit tops always seem to ride up on my backside and create wrinkles in the small of my back. I guess it doesn't bother me too much *shrugs*. Anyway, I'm pretty pleased with this top! It seems my love for knitting isn't going to wane anytime soon.

One of my favourite bloggers, Tassadit from Rue des Renards recently mentioned how some bloggers seem to hype up certain techniques as SUPER SCARY, and it can psyche you out! Well I agree with her: don't listen to those people! Fair isle is one of those techniques people seem to freak out about, but it's way less hard than it looks. And it's fun and it looks awesome. I used to listen to those people and get scared, and I probably have been one of these scaremongers on occasion, unintentionally! But I'm much happier now that I've learned not to fear techniques... well, most of the time.

Have you guys ever attempted a "scary" technique and found out it wasn't so bad? :)

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Completed: Creepy Cute Shirt Dress

Why hello there! Nice to see you guys again. I'm back to school and got swallowed whole by that, as well as getting sick on top of it all. So long time, no blog. And I haven't been sewing at all either (boooooo), but I have a few posts to catch up on.

I feel I look pretty dull and lifeless in these pictures, and well, it was because I was feeling a bit dull and lifeless. I'm feeling a bit better now, thankfully. And I hope I look better too... lol.

So anyway, I made a dress with tiny babies on it. If you don't think that's a good thing, I question your outlook on life. Actually, these babies are from an Australian book series, which I remember from  my childhood, featuring the adventures of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie AKA the Gumnut babies. They're cute tiny Australian tree babies! I couldn't resist the weirdness of this print, even though my husband threatened to burn it.

Even he had to admit the dress was quite cute though; from a distance you don't even notice the tiny babies, it just looks like a nature print. Out and about, I did get an unsolicited comment from someone who recognised the Gumnut babies though- that made my day!

I didn't change much from the last time I sewed it, though I had to make the skirt a bit less flared in order to accommodate the pieces on my narrow fabric. This is my second shirt dress, but I want more, more! I just think they are so easy to wear, but make you look put-together, even when you didn't really put any effort in, hee hee.
I've gotten into the habit of wearing these shoes all the time, they're just so comfy! I'd love to wear cuter shoes on a daily basis, but nothing beats the practicality of these, though they perhaps do no favours for my naturally chunky legs. Haha, such a pear shape.

I did change the collar construction a little, and I'm very happy with it. I drafted a separate undercollar, and sewed it in two passes, which is fast, neat, and the points turn out really great! This lovely finish is thanks to Fashion Incubator's collar tutorials. Fashion Incubator is a great site, run by an industry professional. The tone can be almost disdainful at times (especially to lowly home sewers), but does have some very good content. Now if only I understood it all... lol!

In this picture I seem very bored with pockets, but in reality I'm very excited with them.

I made it a bit bigger at the waist, because I was worried that this stiffish cotton would make a difference, but I was totally being paranoid and didn't need to. Now it's a bit loose, but I like it with a belt, which fixes that problem. I have a history of being paranoid about making garments that pinch me at the waist. I just hate that feeling! I think I can trust my bodice block now though, considering I've used it a billion times. Okay, I think it's actually only 7, but that's not too bad. It would be easy to take in, but I have bigger fish to fry (in other words, I can't be bothered). I DO think it might be worth adding belt loops, but let's just see if I get around to that....

Another shot of the cute babies, with the buttons!

Yay naked babies dress. (I never imagined myself uttering that phrase). What do you think, is this a novelty print gone TOO FAR? 

Sunday, 1 March 2015

A small post about smalls

I've posted about undie-making before, having made made myself pants from Ohhh Lulu, and some for my fella too, from Thread Theory. The blogosphere seems to be a bit obsessed with bra-sewing at the moment (see SewaholicLladybird, Very Purple Person, and Clothing Engineer for a few examples!) but I haven't ventured that far yet! (Though I certainly would like to... I'm definitely a bit scared though- mainly of the fitting I admit!)

Anyway, this is a super simple free undies pattern from "So, Zo, What do you know?". It's faster to sew than the Ohhh Lulu pattern I have used, because this one only has side seams, rather than side panels! I still like the Ohhh Lulu pattern though, because it gives you more fun opportunities to play with fabrics. However, I can't deny that the speed of sewing these ones from So, Zo up is extremely satisfying.


This was my first encounter with fold-over elastic, having used picot for my previous underwear efforts. I must say, I really like the finish, and found it quite easy to sew on! It feels more durable than picot and feels really smooth and comfortable (some nasty-quality picots I've gotten are a bit scratchy). I also think it looks great. I used So, Zo's instructions for how to assemble them, but I have decided I don't like that way (though it is perfectly fine).  

You can see in the picture below, the top edge has been finished my preferred way. This way, I enclose the side seam in the elastic. It looks smooth and neat.
The bottom edge has been done with the side seam finished last. I don't like this because it looks lumpier, and also my overlocker struggles to get over all those layers.

And oops, omg rogue threads need clipping!

I made the UK size 12, which equates to an Australian size 14. That's larger than I wear, but I thought I'd better size up. And I'm glad I did! They're definitely not too loose.

I chose to sew my elastic on simply by sandwiching the fabric in between the two layers, although some instructions advise you to sew it in two passes. One to secure the first side of the elastic, and then another pass to secure the other side. That way is slower, but more fool-proof. I lived on the edge and did it in one pass, and it worked fine, so hooray!

As you can see, I sewed the elastic on with a wide zig zag (and not a terribly straight one, but hey, I was learning as I went). I stretched the elastic slightly, as I'm used to stretching picot in the same way. However, I'll try doing it without stretching next time; the undies pinch in a bit at the elastic.  Not in a way that hurts, but it is enough to give me subtle lumps, haha! I don't wear clothes tight enough to reveal the pinches though, so it doesn't matter.

For next time, I've added a little bit more butt-coverage, so hopefully that works well! I'm looking forward to perfecting this pattern in terms of construction and fit, and then making a little run of them, production-line style. I'll never want for undies again!

The fabric is the leftovers from the dress I made here. Using leftover knit fabric means the elastic and thread is really the only cost. :)
This post has been a little sparse on pictures, but I hope it's helpful to anyone considering making their own undies. I encourage it, as they are cheap, fast, and fun :)

I know a lot of you have made your own, and I'm keen to hear your opinion on which elastic you like and your fav finishing techniques!

Sunday, 22 February 2015

(Finally) Complete: Red Linen Skirt

Hello there! This post comes to you from the depths of the U.F.O (UnFinished Object) pile. This skirt sat unfinished for probably... a year?

The pattern is New Look 6106, a simple A-line skirt with pockets. As you can see, there is a band around the hem, which allows for contrast fabrics. I don't think that style appeals to me currently though. I feel like colour-blocking works better for a dress; I like the idea of keeping the skirt simple. That way, mixing and matching it seems easier.

The fabric is linen, and I heroically fit the skirt out of the remnants of my linen dress (which I totally don't wear because I over-tightened the shoulders). Wow, my blog's getting old now! That dress was blogged over 2 years ago... I'm pleased to say I've improved my sewing since then, heh.

The top is actually a Sewaholic Pendrell blouse I made ages ago, but I found the big pleated footballer-looking sleeves inhibited its wearability. The fabric is lightweight, but has lots of body to it, so the sleeves stuck out! It took very little time to unpick that part of the seam, pull them out, and re-sew it, and I'm glad I did! I'll get way more wear out of it now.

Here's the original sleeves!

So why did this skirt sit in the UFO pile for so long? Well, I wasn't having a great feeling about how it was going to turn out, so I moved onto something shinier. I'm TERRIBLE like that, and I'm trying to fix that habit!

The skirt has pockets, but they stick out a bit. I'm wondering if they stretched out on the bias? I didn't stabilise them. You can see this best from a bird's-eye view:

I took this while wearing it.
Not overly attractive! I don't know if I'll bother making this skirt again. I think the reason it was so hard to finish was because it didn't overly inspire me. But hopefully I get some wear out of it on a casual basis.

Also, it was stupidly windy when I took these photos:

I'm sure I can't be the only blogger who hates doing the photo bit? lol!

Side one, the waistband appears to tilt a little (tilting waistlines are my nemesis!). I swear it looked fine in the mirror too. Can I blame the wind? No?

I even lined the dang thing (sometimes I think I used to have more patience with my sewing, and now I rush too much!).

Aaand, these pictures of the insides totally went hot pink when I uploaded them! Thanks Blogger!! (This is a mystery to me and I'm too lazy to explore it).

At the time when I made this, I tried to tinker with the fit to give me a full butt adjustment. This involved adding length at the centre back and increasing the width of the back darts too. 
I'm not really sure this is even necessary for an A-line skirt, but oh, I just can't resist the urge to tinker. I also altered the yoke to fit my curves, and graded out at the side seams. The annoying thing about that is that it messes with the pockets, so it's not as simple when it could be. Sigh, fitting and pattern alterations!

Though it's PRETTY hard to evaluate the fit when the wind won't let the skirt settle for even a moment.

I'm glad to have finally finished and blogged this skirt. Now, how many more garments lie in the U.F.O pile, just waiting to be shown who's boss? Hmm, off the top of my head, at LEAST 3. And that doesn't count knitting U.F.Os. Go on and confess guys- how many do you have? And what's your oldest U.F.O? :D

Monday, 16 February 2015

Completed: One more Beignet Skirt (plus bonus top)

Isn't the Beignet skirt from Colette patterns great? I first made it in corduroy, then in wool, and now in a heavy cotton.

And you may recognise the top fabric from my birthday dress. Don't you love when you have leftovers enough for something else? It is the same modded-beyond-recognition pattern I used here, which I made with a scoop neckline this time. I'm still not 100% on the fit, though of course you can't really tell much when you tuck it in. The main issue I have is with the back armhole, there's something weird going on back there, and I intend to get to the bottom of it...

It looks like there's a centre back seam, but it's just a crease from being folded...
Speaking of fit, my Beignet skirt is allllmost there. I thought I had it about perfect, but there's a bit of straining on the side. I believe this indicates I need a bit more curve in my side seams at the high hip! There's also a slight bunching above the back. I first noticed it in my wool Beignet, but this confirms to me it wasn't just a fluke! I wonder if the bunching will relax when the side seams are let out?

This picture shows the strain quite well, though the (weird) way I'm standing is probably not helping.
Also, it was super windy on the day, so in most pictures I'm being blown around like crazy, heh. This is fairly standard for Wellington, but it doesn't stop me getting frustrated at it! It does not mix well with my love for floppy hats, yet I insist on wearing them...

"Curse you, wind!!"
I was a good girl and took shots of the guts, because I'm proud of them, hah!

Look at the corner, omg so sharp! That is some HOGWARTS-level magic.
I tinkered with the pattern and pattern instructions to build in turn of cloth to the facing, and just to be generally fancy. I am really pleased with how it worked, though it took me a while to figure out how to do turn of cloth on both the waistline AND the hem (I had to change the construction a bit). It was worth it though. Just because I'm a nerd really, and I find that kind of thing satisfying. I guess it's rather unnecessary, heh. 

As you can see, I used a light-weight cotton for the facings, as the shell fabric was quite stiff. I don't know much about the fabric as I got it at a pop-up store. I would describe it as denim-weight, but not denim. Hey, it works. I need to shorten the lining next time though as it's too close to the hem. That was my fault for adjusting for turn of cloth at the hem!

WIND, stop!
The top was fairly straight forward. Have some more guts.

I pressed one of my neck darts in the wrong direction. The shame.

On the plus side, the sleeve and neckline bias facings are some of the least terrible I've done!
I found the bias of this fabric to be rather agreeable and malleable. I pressed it into a curved shape before applying it, and I found that helped.

Overall I hope I get a lot of wear out of these garments! :) I think they'll be pretty versatile!

Saturday, 31 January 2015

Two Simple Garments with Complicated Origin Stories

So this is the Colette Meringue skirt, but actually not at all, really. Warning: long post ahead!

This skirt was one of those projects that took forever (I feel I say that a lot!). But seriously, I've had this planned since.... pretty much when I started this blog? I wanted a darted skirt that fit me. Now that was a tall order, for someone who had no idea how to fit things to my body.

At that time when I knew so little, I struggled soooo much with the fit of the original muslin. I went down into a deep sewing darkness of muslin after muslin, with no satisfaction. It was BAD, people! I never blogged it because it was just too hard, and I couldn't get anywhere! One of the worst sewing experiences of my life!
I eventually gave up. The drama.

After I abandoned the Meringue skirt, I got more experience with fitting, and tried again with the Beignet skirt. Turns out a full butt adjustment and fine tuning of the side seams, (as well as a few other things) is necessary for me! And I finally got a fit that worked, after a few muslins. So this time, I thought, why reinvent the wheel? I shall turn my princess-seamed Beignet pattern into a darted pattern.
And I did. See Kat's post for how this concept works!

For a large dart reduction, you must split the darts into two. This is pretty usual for a fitted skirt, so my backside has two large darts. I did a muslin and it looked pretty okay (at this point, I was ready to settle for "pretty good", not perfect!).

Also, it was windy that day!

The fabric is some cheap polyester I bought when I first started sewing. I didn't find it very kind. I have found with other polyesters too, they want to show every single pucker, and of course you can't press them out!

I had to finesse the darts a bit in the back, taking them in a bit more near the tip and making them longer. I probably could have done even more with this adjustment, as they still look a little puffy near the ends (much better than they did though), but I also just think this fabric doesn't press overly well. Thoughts, anyone?
Oh yeah, and I underlined the poly with a lightweight cotton to take some drape out, which may have made the dart tips a bit tricky too, who knows?

Overall though, I'm very pleased with myself with creating this shaping for my tricksy rear end:

As for the front darts, I think they look a little bit puffy too, but I didn't adjust them. If there is a second attempt (I do think it deserves one), I am considering making the front darts smaller and taking the equivalent out of the side seams, so it remains the same circumference at the waist. I've seen this in my favourite fitting book (Sarah Veblen's The Complete Photo Guide to Perfect Fitting). I'm hoping this would decrease the puffy look of the darts at the bottom as it would have less intake at the top. Not sure if that makes sense!
It also is supposed to give you a flatter look across the front.

So, the Meringue skirt has scallops. Mine DID have them!
They were a total pain in the rear, because I had to redraft them onto the bottom of my skirt (which took me stupidly long because learning), and because I screwed up the sewing.

In this Threads article (and other references I've seen too, such as the Colette Sewing book), you are recommended to notch into the curves to get them to sit nicely when turned out.
But in this article on Pattern Scissors Cloth, Sherry recommends to simply trim closely, which she says produces a superior result. Faster AND better? I'm in!!

I 100% should have made a sample; I am really bad at doing this. The stupid thing is it's because I'm impatient, but it would save me a lot of time in some instances (like this one)!
I had to clip in very close to the points to get them to turn out, yuck. I keep saying I hate this, because I do.

I opted to top-stitch because I wanted to make sure the little suckers stayed in place, and to try to bully out the stubborn puckers at the apex. Also, according to Sherry, this strengthens them (since they're clipped in so close, they're a lot weaker!)

After all that....I decided the scallops were too poorly executed, so I chopped them off. Argh!! I don't want to look "Becky Home-Ecky" as Michael Kors would say... haha! It wasn't a good feeling though, with all the time and effort I put in.

Taking this blog back to its roots with poor quality in-progress shots.

The thread lines are where I basted the underlining to the shell fabric through the darts to keep them together. Also, you can really see the dodgy puckers at the tops of the scallops here.

For next time, I think I would have better success with scallops if I pivoted more at the points. For points such as scallops and collar points, you should take a horizontal stitch or more (depending on the bulk of the fabric) at the top of the point, to help it turn better. The ones where I didn't pivot enough looked the worst. Overall, I think I can blame the fabric a tiny bit, though. This polyester didn't enjoy being pressed (which I think also made the darts not look as good either).

I still love scallops though. I'll have you one day, my dears. Here is some scalloped inspiration for you from Colette.

Construction stuff:

I drafted a facing and lining. I pleated the lining instead of darting it. This is supposed to reduce the strain on the lining. As for the lapped zip application, I always end up bodging them in, as the weird seam allowances mean the facing doesn't line up right. This has always annoyed me, so I found this lapped zip tutorial from Fashion Incubator. BUT, I'd already put my zip in the normal way, so I decided to try this one next time, instead of working out how to apply the tutorial to my already-in zip!

Okay, so this project was totally frustrating for me and I felt pretty annoyed at it, so here is a list of positives:

-Even though I screwed up the scallops, hey, at least I learned something! (And hopefully I'll remember those lessons for next time. That's always the tricky bit.)

-At least the plainness of the skirt will make it versatile.

-Whoa, I finally fitted a skirt to my butt, that's amazing! I should be able to get some decent mileage out of this!

Oh, and by the way, if you're still here, I made the top too!

THIS garment has a convoluted story behind it too. It started life as this:

This was an Anna dress, and I put LOADS of work into it. Check out that lovely chevron in centre front! I got so far with it, and decided I just hated it. I'd never wear it, I wasn't satisfied with the fit, and it had to go. So I chopped the dang thing up and made a singlet. I did have to seam the singlet to fit the pattern pieces, but I think it's very unnoticeable.

Eagle eyed viewers might spot the shadow of the seam allowance just above the waist, since the fabric is slightly sheer.
Anyway, I totally self-drafted this top, so I'm patting myself on the back for it. I won't blather on about that for now, as this post is already feeling mega-long. I opted for no vertical darts, as I didn't want to disrupt the lovely stripes. So it's very loose, but I love the blousey look tucked in.

Awkward pose!!! Haha! Showin' off that side seam though. Such matching stripes.
As you can see, it has a bust dart. And omg, don't you love striped tops? They go with everything!
I finished the neckline of this top with hand-stitched bias tape. Also, my apologies for the lack of garment guts shots in this post. I'll remember next time I hope. :)

So....are you tired from reading all about the making of these garments?? Here's to simpler garment-making processes in the future, eh? Haha!