Sunday, 27 July 2014

Garment-Along! Part One: The Dress

This is my post for the Outfit-Along being run by Andi and Lauren, two of my favourite bloggers! It involves knitting something and sewing a dress to match... such a great idea. I'm really glad I made the deadline :)

Plus, it gave me a chance to use my creepy "Lauren" blog post label! Haha! Yes, you have your own tag, ever since we became knitting twins!

I decided to put the two garments in their own posts so they don't get too super-long. You'll see the cardigan soon! (Okay, so you may be thinking "What the heck Jo? You just posted a knitted cardigan!" Don't worry, I'm not a ninja who knits a cardigan in a week, Washington Square just took me a long time to get around to posting! Heh :) )

So I'll start with the dress: La Sylphide by Papercut Patterns. I've made the skirt version before. 

I'll admit I was irrationally scared of making the dress version. You may have read about my nightmarish fitting woes, so any new garment is a bit scary for me! However, this time, I successfully used the Vogue 8766 fitted bodice I'd completed at the start of the year, instead of starting from scratch and going to muslin-town unnecessarily. 

La Sylphide only has one dart in the front, going from waist to bust, while Vogue 8766 has two (one from waist, and one from side bust). I initally rotated the bust dart into the waist dart to mimic La Sylphide, but remembering the nipply nightmare I had when I did that with my Cambie dress, I changed my mind and kept both darts. If it ain't broke, don't fix it!
So all I needed to do was steal the neckline from La Sylphide, draft on a buttonband to match, and make sure the neck bow was the correct length to match. My method of doing it was very made up, so I won't bother trying to explain, unless you're very interested. It worked, so I suppose it wasn't wrong!
It sounds kinda simple, but it did take me a while, especially since I triple-checked everything out of self-doubt!
Oh, and then I had to make sure the front and back skirt fitted to the front and back bodice. 
Anyway it WORKED. Yay, and NO. MUSLIN.

Pretty skirt!

I'd never fitted the sleeve for 8766 though, so that was something new I had to do. I'd completely messed up the armhole of the bodice through my fitting changes, so the sleeve had to be changed too.
Since I'd done a forward shoulder adjustment, I used this tutorial to alter the sleeve. I made up a muslin sleeve and pinned it into the bodice. I wasn't too fussy about the fit, and it seemed good enough so I moved on to the real thing.
I had a look at the two sleeves, and noted 8766 has a much differently-shaped sleeve cap. I think 8766 has a lot more height, and mine definitely sticks up a bit at the cap. I bet La Sylphide's sleeve gives a more subtle gathered effect. UPDATE: Mel of the Curious Kiwi let me know that as drafted La Sylphide has no gathers, oops! Wrong info there. PS She made two adorable ones!

If you can see what's going on.... La Sylphide is on the right.

After I cut this out, I had a brief moment of panic when I realised I hadn't considered the print at all! (Though I was smart enough to cut it all out going the same direction). Should I have matched it along the buttonbands at the centre front?? Luckily, the WSBN girls assured me that for such a small print, it didn't matter. And they were right, you don't notice at all.
I also realised, actually, even if it was noticeable, most of the front is obscured by the bow, and the skirt falls into drapey folds so it really doesn't matter!

The print is really busy so the bow kinda gets a bit lost, but you can see it up close. It also looks really good sitting on top of my cardigan, which you'll see in a few days!

Bows are fun :)
I'm pretty pleased with myself for making this even though I was a bit scared (don't be such a wuss, Jo!). There were a few glitches, like forgetting to alter the sleeve hem to fit the La Sylphide construction- it's turned up 3cm instead of having a narrow hem, so mine puckered as I hadn't shaped the side seams correctly (hard to explain, but you can't just have it taper down to the bottom. You can see in the sleeve pattern pic above, the La Syphide goes back out again so the turn-up matches the sleeve circumference. You can see I've corrected my 8766 sleeve to do this for next time!). I had too much fabric on the sleeve compared to the facing within, so I just bodged a gather on the outer arm and called it a design detail. Heh...

Overall, I'm really pleased with the end result, and would like to make this dress again. There are definitely a few janky bits, like the sleeve-bodging, and the hem... It tried to do that gross diagonal rippling thing when I narrow-hemmed it, just like my Miette skirt did on the bias.

Miette bias ripples of ugliness.
Miraculously though, they all ironed out in this fabric. Hey, I'm certainly not complaining, though I do still want to improve my bias hems so they don't do it at all! This fabric is a polyester, and it didn't like being pressed, so for the bits where it said to press a fold over the interfaced plackets and sleeve interfacing, I had to baste it in place. I also cut it on a single layer, but that's pretty usual for me! I love precision. Especially with slippery fabrics like this.

I don't think I'd normally go this short, but got a little over-zealous when evening out the hem. It's still longer than the pattern is drafted though. That thing is SHORT! So I had to add an extra button I believe. Speaking of buttons, I was thinking of being lazy next time and not even making button holes for the bottom few buttons since they're not needed to get the dress on. I could just stitch them right on and make them fakeys! What would YOU do? Would that bug you forever? :P

So overall, I'd call this a win, even though it DID take me forever. I'm think it's a cute design and I love the fabric! Tune in the next few days for how it looks with my new Marion cardigan :)

Bows :D

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Completed Knit: Washington Square

This is the Washington Square Cardigan from the book Metropolitan Knits

There are quite a few attractive knits in this book, if you ask me! I like the way the book one is styled with those snazzy contrasting buttons. But being Miss Matchy-Matchy, I went for same-colour buttons yet again. I can't help it! I didn't reinforce the button band with ribbon so it's not perfectly free of waviness, but it doesn't worry me.

I wanted a rustic yarn for this. I ordered it online, and I definitely got rustic; it smelled like sheep! The yarn also had an ever so slightly greasy feel to it which must be lanolin. Even after washing and blocking, it smells slightly like sheep. Hopefully that goes away in future washes!

Hi, Fence!
I noted the cardigan was designed for a few inches of positive ease, but as usual, I wanted negative ease (I aimed for 1"). So the smallest size was several inches too large. Getting a bit crafty, I decided to knit with 10ply and a smaller needle, instead of 12ply, for a smaller gauge. That way, I didn't have to mod the stitch counts so drastically!
I did fudge the sleeve caps a little. Sleeve cap shaping is a bit more wily than just changing the circumference on the body, and all I did was add a few extra rows to make sure they were long enough. It maaaainly worked out, but they were slightly smaller than the armscye I think, when it came to seaming. Meh, I just fudged it by easing the armhole in and you can't tell. Oops!

Because of using a different gauge, I didn't know exactly how much wool I'd need, so I played yardage-chicken. Not my favorite game! The wool was quite expensive so I was a bit stingy and didn't buy any extra balls for insurance.
But I did shorten it three inches and thought that would give me some breathing room. And I had a whole ball left over at the end! Phew! (Though having leftovers is also a peeve, lol!) I quite like it a bit shortened. I haven't worn it over dresses but I hope it'll work well!

Ooh this yarn, though. Rowan Tweed Aran, is quite different to what I've knitted with before! It's not really plied, it's more felted-seeming (description from someone like me who doesn't know all that much about yarn!). So it breaks apart quite easily when you pull it, which I've never had before! It also does NOT like being spit-spliced (my all-time favourite yarn-joining method!). I theorise this may be because it's already all felt-y. Totally a term... yeah. Each time I joined in yarn, it was so hard to get it to splice together! I kinda wish I'd done it a different way because I worry my joins aren't as strong as they need to be. Although ALL the yarn is kinda break-y so it is probably fine. Or the whole thing will fall apart anyway! Hah! I figure the knitted structure must give it enough strength.

So, knitting with it was fine, except for the joining moments. But seaming it up was terrible, because the yarn was so easy to break. What I ended up doing was getting some grey acrylic yarn I had (used for this amigurumi bunny I crocheted), and using that for seaming. That worked MUCH better. I did use a sewn bind-off for the collar, as the pattern instructed. Now, that was also a break-y mess, but one I couldn't avoid (because it is visible, obviously!). I had to spit splice fresh yarn in the middle of the bind-off because pulling it through the stitches with the needle repeatedly was more than it could handle! Ughhh. Glad that's over!

Collar-y Goodnesss!
As usual, I added in extra shaping for my pear-shaped figure. I accomplish this by starting with more stitches at the hem, and doing closer-spaced decreases until the waist. Well, that makes it sound simple, but I do math it all out.

It follows my body shape pretty well. I like curvy knits.
I also knit the body and sleeves seamlessly, rather than seamed. Seriously, who are the weirdo seaming-fans that write these patterns?

My favourite feature is the fold-over collar.  I love features that draw attention to the shoulders. I wonder if it's to do with balancing the proportions of my large hips with my small shoulders?  Or maybe I just like it. Haha.
One stupid thing I did was something I'd started doing out of habit but didn't think through. I'd read a while back that for edges that will be seamed, or where stitches will be picked up, you should do garter stitch for the selvage stitch, i.e knit every row.
It makes it easy to see where the edge of the selvage is. But it looks ugly and lumpy. No worries, it's hidden on the inside of the garment!
Except where it's not. Like when the collar folds over. Oops! 

After a period of regret and annoyance, I had to conclude it's not a detail anyone will really notice. I'll know for next time though! I don't think I'll bother with the garter stitch selvage anymore. I can see where the selvage is by myself so I don't need that additional help.
I forgot to get a shot of this detail. Sorry!

I also really like it with the top button done up! Snugglyyyyy!

OOH. Plain back!
It was a pretty straight forward knit (except for the usual mods I did). I love cute cardigans and dressier knits, but there's something soo nice about making a casual-style garment. My husband was particularly impressed with it because it "looks like it's from a shop". Hah! (In other words, it's not some WEIRD vintage-looking style.)
My Ravelry notes are here.
I think it'll get plenty of wear.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Completed: Sewaholic Pendrell in *GULP* Chiffon!

Another seasonally-inappropriate garment! To be fair though, I started it when the weather was MUCH warmer. It's another Sewaholic Pendrell, and it's totally my fanciest yet!
It's so delightfully impractical though! And I don't have heaps to pair with it. I really like this skirt with it, but it's so short, ugh! Stupid RTW... I should certainly attempt a knock-off, and add a few inches of length!

This top is a bemusing mix of fastidiousness and sloppiness.
In most aspects, I took my time, as creating a top from polyester chiffon and underlining it with delicate silk isn't something I have the skills to just plow through! 
But then I think I just got fatigued with all the details in some bits and so there's definitely a bit of shoddy work in there.

This is my third Pendrell Blouse from Sewaholic Patterns, making it a tried-and-true for me! You can see my other versions here and here.

I've read lots of advice about cutting it slippery fabrics on blogs. Many of them recommend sandwiching your fabric between tissue or other paper.  Well, I don't know about you, but I don't have big ol' rolls of paper lying around. (And I thought it sounded like a pain, plus I like to see what my fabric's doing).
I remembered seeing Sunni mention pinning to an old sheet and cutting them out together as one layer.
Well stingy old Jo did one better- I wasn't about to wreck a sheet!
I got one of my flannelette sheets- the texture of the fabric helps grip the chiffon and keep it in place. I weighted the pattern in place, and also pinned it in a few places for insurance.
Then I cut it out with scissors (I know, I'm sorry dear rotary cutter!). I only cut through the chiffon, not the bed sheet. Oh, and I cut in one layer of course.
Then... I had to cut all the underlining separately. Seriously. This blouse took me forever.
It was meticulous work, but I just took my time and enjoyed the zen of it (mostly)!

Speaking of meticulous, I lovingly hand-basted the separately cut layers of chiffon and silk together in the seam allowances. Getting all couture in here or something...

Working with tried-and-trues is fun, cos you can try out challenging new fabrics.
It was still a bit scary wondering if I'd screw it up after all that prep though! The silk underlining is super delicate!
Part of me screams out "It must never be worn!!". I mean, look at this picture I took after modelling it. I can totally see that silk shredding apart since it's already looking a little weak at the seams in just a few places. Boo!

I did use a microtex needle, so hopefully that means the delicate fabric was treated right. But perhaps the pullover nature of the blouse means it gets a little strained slipping over my head? Please don't fall apart on me, dear! Lol.

Some of the shoddy details were:
- Being too lazy to sample the bias finish on the neckline and armholes. It doesn't look too great in some parts, but you can only tell up close. Still! I should have been more careful!

I made the bias strip out of the silk. Maybe I should have used something less wibbly!

-Lazily not levelling the hem. Now, I figured it'd mainly be worn tucked in, so it doesn't matter so much, but really, after all that time spent I should have levelled it!

You can see it drooping at the back. I think I need to take out a bit more for sway back (I already did a slight adjustment previously).
I think those are sway-back wrinkles- what do you guys think? 
I sewed the side seams and shoulder seams as french seams, but the princess seams are overlocked. I can't tell you how it terrifies me to use that machine on something I've already invested so much time on. I envision accidentally cutting up my hard work with the blade by mistake! 

French seams, overlocked seams, and overlocked and topstitched hem.
Construction-wise, I didn't change much except for the order the binding was sewn on. I hate linking to this hideous old blog post (haha! standards have improved over here!), but it shows the difference in construction.

I REALLY love the print on this chiffon. I have usually snobbed polyester but I couldn't go past this lovely floral. I figure going sleeveless will prevent that horrible sweaty feeling you can get with synthetics. Well, here's hoping.

You can tell I like a garment when I start pulling stupid poses... lol
For the ruffles, I changed them. As drafted, they are folded double, and the fold acts as the edge instead of a hem. I cut them to have a hem instead. The hem is on the bias. A bias, chiffon hem. Mega EEP!
The reason I did this is so that the sheer chiffon didn't show as a doubled-up pattern. And I didn't want to underline as I felt they would be too stiff that way. I'm glad I didn't, as I think they have plenty of body as a single layer. But still, hemming them was a MAJOR pain!

I think it looks good, but it was hard getting there!
Oh, and this is what it looks like if I tried putting it through the machine without any fancy tricks:

Lumpy, ripply, ugh.
I am not skilled enough to make a bias hem behave. Maybe I will become a fabric ninja in future but for now I need a crutch!
I had this stabilising stuff I'd bought ages ago and never used (lol), and I ended up hand-basting it to the hem allowance before hemming. I cut it to the same length as the pattern piece's hem and while hand-basting it to the chiffon, bullied the chiffon (which had already stretched out a lot!) back to the right length. Silly bias, you're not the boss of me. But I'll concede you had me working pretty hard...
The cool thing about this stuff is that it's water-soluble so it disappears without adding bulk, and without showing through the sheer fabric!

My fancy crutch!
I'm sure there are way better and more efficient ways to do it but well, I guess it worked for me! Maybe next time I will try a hand-rolled hem! Or maybe a fusible stabiliser would do the trick more easily, I'd just have to see if it compromised the sheerness or bulk-free finish... Sheers are a whole new world! Suggestions welcome of course! :)
Ooh new thought- maybe the magic of fabric glue (which I have yet to try) could be combined with the water-soluble stabiliser to eliminate that pesky hand-basting...

Requisite side-on shot.

I'm not whether it's best tucked in or not, actually! I thought I wouldn't like it untucked but it may be a better proportion on me, it's hard to say!
And thanks to the miracle of sewing, I can actually have garments that fit in the bust, and don't bunch and ride up over my generous hips, which is nice.

I've mainly (heavily) altered the fit to be pretty good by now, but there's room for tweaking. I think a bit of extra sway back, and I need to slightly lower the armholes. Other than that, I'm pretty happy with it!
I know I've already made one other version with the ruffles but it's definitely my favourite view (SO CUTE). I did threaten to make an army of these tops so I'm sure there'll be more in the future.

Don't ask me what my hand's doing here... haha! 
So let me know if you guys have any answers to my (as-always) myriad ponderings, and high-five to you if you're as ruffle-crazed as me :)

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Complete: Renfrew Mod

Well, I know my very last project was a Renfrew mod. But here's another one. What can I say, I'm addicted!
Just one more item to add to my big list of Renfrew mods, I guess!

This project was inspired by me stuffing up another project and running crying to my comfort zone of knits. It was fun though, and I'm really happy the mod I tried out worked. I just made it up, so it could have been a failure!
The mod is what I call "boobie-gathers", and I teamed it with gathered sleeves, which I'd previously used in another mod!

Boobie-gathers close-up

Here is the backside of the gathers (note I used a non-matching thread for my twin-needle top-stitching. I often do this because I'm too lazy to make up a matching I used clear elastic to gather it like in my Moneta dress, using the original length of the pattern at that point as a guideline. 

Here is a (terrible) shot of my pattern alteration. I started with the V-neck view which I'd never made before! Now I did just make this up so it's probably "wrong". lol. As you can see, spreading open the pattern at the bust vertically breaks the straight line at the centre front. I opted to true it up by extending the top of the pattern piece outwards to match. This meant excess at the neckline, but I decided I could just ease that excess into the neckline band, which I kept at the same length as originally drafted. Make sense? I hope so! Anyway, it worked! I did have to chop off a bit from the hem at centre front to level it out when I tried it on. I'm not sure if that was from this mod, or the fact I tried out a sway-back alteration on this version. Possibly both?? 

Speaking of sway backs, it didn't fully work, so I may not have done enough of an adjustment. Or maybe I didn't do it right. Anyhow, I think this top looks best tucked in. Problem... solved. Lol. I do plan to keep trying to adjust Renfrew till it fits perfectly though! Plus, it would be good to wear this top with pants too.

Still has wrinklies at the back.
I like the proportions better tucked too. 
I really like this fabric and you'll see it again in the form of another garment! It's another one from Girl Charlee, and I was careful not to place a flower in any awkward placements on the chest.
I'm wearing it with my New Look skirt which I made a while back. 

Oh, and one more bonus:

Thanks to my new undie-making adventures.... I get matching undiiiiiiiies!
Ahh Renfrew, the pattern that keeps giving. There's not too much more to say on this one. Okay, I better get back to working on those tricky woven garments... Hah!

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Completed: The Indie Mash-up Dress!

This dress is a combination of a well-loved pattern of mine: the Renfrew top from Sewaholic, and a new-to-me pattern from Colette: the Moneta Dress. The lovely Teresa  (whose squirrel print dress I am dying to steal omg) lent me the Moneta pattern. Thanks Teresa!

And the two patterns live together in perfect harmony! I'm so happy!
So what is it called? The Reneta? Monfrew? Haha.
You may have seen my experiments in the past with the Renfrew pattern, modding it in many different ways. I even compiled a list of mine and others' modifications! I'm quite surprised it's taken me this long to make it into a dress, but I'm very pleased with the result!
To make the bodice, I just cut the bottom of the Renfrew pattern pieces off at a little longer than the waist (always cut it a bit longer than you think you'll need! And it turns out I did need it, as it turns out my waist fell below the waist shaping on the pattern, so I needed that extra length!).
I put on my Renfrew bodice and used some elastic around my waist to find my natural waist. I then marked it on the fabric with pins, and trimmed it to a normal seam allowance. Now I've marked it on my pattern, I know I have a reliable waistline for next time.
I also had to take it in quite a bit at the waist to get it sitting nice and close to my body.
Now, why didn't I just use the Moneta bodice, you ask? Well, I already know that I have got Renfrew fitting me just fine and I don't believe in reinventing the wheel. After all, Colette is drafted for a larger cup size than me, so why open that can of worms? Also, I've already drafted my boatneck for the Renfrew which I really wanted to use on a dress! The Moneta neckline is more scooped.

Okay, and the wind was being a NIGHTMARE when I was trying to get these photos, resulting in many like this, but worse:
Here I put the bow at the front. Lol I'm a PRESENT. Too cutesy?

For the Moneta skirt, I used the size M skirt, and since it's gathered, it doesn't matter if it doesn't match my bodice perfectly. I loved the fact that it has pockets, they are such an awesome feature to have, and don't create bulk! They just hide sneakily in the gathers. Yay pockets! The other fantastic thing about the Moneta dress is the way the waistline is gathered. Well, they call it shirred, because it's done with elastic. It's way better than stitching lines of gathering stitches and pulling them to fit! It's so fast! My gathering is not fully even, but I'll do better next time now I know what I'm doing!
Being a bit of a nerd about it, I made paper pattern pieces to use as elastic cutting guides for next time. And I'm sure there will be a next time. I need to look out for a knit fabric sale.... :)


I think Colette Patterns have done a great job of creating a pattern that is accessible for beginners and actually uses MODERN instructions and techniques for knits.
The sleeves are set in flat, which I approve of! It even has 1cm seam allowances which I think is good for a knit! I do still stand by 1.5cm seam allowances for wovens, for the fitting and fraying insurance they give.
Since I have 1.5cm seam allowances on my Renfrew pattern, I just graded out to 1cm seam allowances after the waist.
My experience with this McCalls knit pattern showed me that there are a lot of terrible and dated knit instructions out there, so well done, Colette!
I will say there was one thing I changed: I chose to sew the side seams last. This makes it easier to take in at the waist if necessary.

The only issue I had was that my pocket notches didn't quite line up with the skirt notches. I'll have to check my pattern, I probably did something wrong!

Can I take a second to tell you an amazing tale? THIS is how much thread I had just after I finished the last stitch of the twin-needle top-stitching on the hem. The bobbin thread behind it also had the same amount left (you can see it has dark purple left underneath from a previous project). Unbelievably lucky right?? AND I was using non-matching bobbin thread for the zig zag on the bottom, so it truly was the last of my thread.

I got this fabric from Girl Charlee, whose knits I really like. I always complain about how you can't find cute knits in New Zealand. It's so sad! What's even more sad is how outrageous the shipping is from Girl Charlee to New Zealand. I can't bear it, so no more cute knits for me... *sniffle*

I wasn't sure the polka dots would look great, but I think they work! I just thought that they needed a little breaking up, so that's why I created a waist tie. I like the idea of wearing it with a regular belt too, I just don't have a white one (yet!).  Something about breaking up the busy print just really helps the look. Also, the dots don't match on the side seams. Meh! They kinda do in some places... I'm not bothered. I just didn't even remember it while I was cutting!

I think this would be a great Summer dress, but I had to pair it with tights as it's getting pretty cold here. I had a go at styling it with my Blackberry Cardigan and Beret. Burgundy and magenta, yum!

I kinda feel like I'm cheating when I sew with knits... They're just so easy! No seam-finishing, easy to fit... I'm grateful for Colette Patterns and Sewaholic for giving me the gift of lovely casual garments. Thank you!!