Monday, 26 August 2013

Completed: Extreme Renfrew Mod

Well, after my first attempt at a Renfrew mod turned out a bit underwhelming, I was inspired to try another. I'm really pleased with the result! This was made from remnants from my previous Renfrew so I can consider it a freebee. Yay!

I had an event I was going to and I wanted to wear this dress, but I had nothing to wear on top. Time to invent something! I'm still quite shocked at how well it turned out. I just kinda eyeballed it and drew new lines on the pattern.
Tip: If you're going to be hacking something up as experiment, err on the side of bigger and longer- you can always cut more off, but you can't add it in if it's too small!

I pulled the neckline inwards so it hugged the neck more, and I raised it at the back of the neck too. To figure out where I wanted the lines of the bolero to go, I put on my other Renfrew and tried to gauge where I wanted them... it was very unscientific.
Then when I tried on the cut out bolero, I marked it with pins and hacked off some more.

This is what my pattern pieces looked like.
The hardest part was definitely the band treatment I decided to do around the whole thing, just like the Renfrew top's neckline. However, I wasn't smart enough to realise that while you stretched the band to fit on a neckline, you don't have to at other places!
I mean think about it, the reason you stretch the band is so it hugs towards your body. You don't need that on the hem! Therefore, it puckered inwards and looked silly around the bottom.

The next attempt, I totally overcompensated and had the opposite problem- the band was loose and floppy!! Whoops, cue more annoyance and unpicking. It really didn't help that I'd confidently top-stitched with a zig zag. It took forever to unpick!

See the waviness at the sides? Plus bonus unflattering singlet!
The good news is I finally got it right! Yay for perseverance!
So for anyone who wants to have a go at this, here is what I found:
-Stretch firmly at the shoulder seams and back of the neck.
-Don't stretch the band at the front.
-At the curved hem of the front, stretch the band only very slightly.
-Stretch it moderately along the back hem.

Well, that's what seemed to work for me, anyhow. You can see it still looks a skosh wavy at the back hem, so maybe I should have stretched a teeny bit more.
Or maybe it needs it could use a centre back seam tapering inwards at the waist? It's acceptable right now, anyhow.
ALSO, this picture makes me look like I have a big boob! Hee hee.
Oh yeah, and the dress I'm wearing it with is this one I made, and I totally want to make a floofy petticoat for it. And the belt is the first time I've worn a skinny belt! I really like it, so clearly I need more! One in every colour of the rainbow, please. And more floofy skirts with defined waists.

I only had a tiny bit of fabric leftover from last time, so that determined the sleeve length. It felt good squeezing every last drop out of my yardage, haha.

The back is a back. lol.
I'll have to resist making boleros from every remnant, I'm already dangerously obsessed with them. I can't stop knitting cropped cardigans, and now I'm sewing them too, eep!

Monday, 19 August 2013

What? An Unselfish Project??

Well, I think this is proof I'm a good wife.
I knitted socks for my husband!
They're not the most impressive thing to look at but I've been intending to make them forever. Poor man wanders around the house in threadbare socks- no wonder he's cold! But no longer!
It's the same pattern I made my first socks from, nothing too fancy.

Oh yeah, and the reason there's a creepy eye on them is because I tried to make them themed... You see there's a new virtual reality technology that my husband is pretty obsessed with, called Oculus Rift. So naturally, I wanted to make him Soculus Rifts (I know, cringe-worthy pun. You're welcome!!) So the logo is on one, and Soculus is written on the other. Haha.

I thought I'd try out some new techniques, like teaching myself intarsia knitting, which I've long been curious about. Guess what? Trying to learn a new technique, on double pointed needles, within a tiny circumference is a TERRIBLE idea! It took me forever... what a chore! Heh, that is the reason the motif isn't repeated on the second sock.
Basically you have a bobbin for each blob of colour- can you imagine the chaotic mess?? It was a nightmare. I'd like to try out intarsia again in a less horrible situation, haha!

The result is a bit iffy but not too bad for a first try. Looking forward to trying it under less insane circumstances.

For the second one I tried out duplicate stitch which is pretty dang easy. I found it's better to do it from the bottom up though. There seems to be less interference from other duplicate stitches that way.

I decided to omit the ribbing so there would be space for the other features to fit. I got this idea when I saw someone else do it on Ravelry! The whole thing is just stocking stitch, which curls over at the top. According to techknitter (an awesome blog which turns knitting into science!), it's one of the sturdiest edges you can get! Too bad I just think it's ugly for most applications. Haha. For this it works great.

I convinced him to model it...what a handsome leg :)
And now, I'll be back to selfish crafting. It just feels so right.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Are We Still Excited About Renfrews?

I guess I am, cos I keep makin' 'em! So for this one I did a little experiment, and tried to mod the pattern.

Where's the mod?? Patience, I'll get to it.
I wouldn't say it was a success, but it certainly wasn't a failure. Maybe just a learning experience.
It seems I can't resist tweaking things and having an experiment.
I saw this pin on Pinterest and decided to have a go:
From here
So, yeah, I decided to mod the sleeve, using a one-picture diagram and no written instructions, even though I'd never done anything like that before. Such a good idea!
Even though the diagram says darted I decided it was going to be pleated. After all, I said to my husband, "a pleat is just a skanky dart." He didn't get it... Well, I felt clever.

I didn't even know how much volume to add, I just guessed. Also, I decided I only wanted two of the pleats, but I'd already slashed through the middle like the diagram, so then I slashed more and rotated and UGH it took way longer than it should have, haha.
Anyway, when I sewed it up, the pleats looked like sad little puckers, so I redid them as a single pleat in the centre. It looks less like a mistake now, but honestly, it doesn't really do anything for me. Hah!

These look really lame to me.
Here it is as one pleat, and it's okay I guess. lol :P
It seems to me that if you're going to add in a pleat, either go big, or don't bother. However, I think if you went bigger, you'd want more than one pleat, as a big one in the centre would stick out horizontally, and look weird. For the record, I added about 2cm width for each pleat.

So that was my little experiment...I hope my next experiment is more successful!

The best thing about this project is that I got the fabric really cheap on sale, and I had enough leftover to make something else. Oh yeah, and it'll be a good wardrobe basic I guess. lol! And it's a merino, which is a nice and warm.
I do feel a bit boring posting more and more Renfrews, but you'll have to deal with it because I'm going to make more. With even more modding experiments (well, that's the dream!)
By the way, it just occurred to me that not everyone on the planet knows what a Renfrew is. Why it's the Sewaholic Patterns knit top that everyone loves!

This is my "Just another Renfrew, so deal with it!" pose.
So, do you think this kind of experiment is worthwhile? :)

Monday, 5 August 2013

More on the Tiramisu Dress from Cake Patterns

Well, as you may remember, our Cake day event came and went, and I showed you a picture of my Tiramisu.  I'm very happy with it!

Me in my berry-coloured Tiramisu, posing with berry-coloured tiramisu!
I thought I'd write a bit more about  my thoughts on the pattern.

I find working with knits really freeing, cos there's no need to finish seam allowances, and the fit is so forgiving. I did make a toile though, which fit pretty poorly, so I'm glad I did!
I wanted negative ease, so I went for the smallest size.
The pattern has separate sizes for different cup sizes, which while not too confusing, I'm not convinced on. I think all the Wellington Sewing Bloggers who made it had problems with the boob area. It put me at a C cup, which I was highly dubious about, but went with it...
Yeah, it was super saggy. So I took a bunch of length out there. I also took length out of the waist which is pretty standard for me, as I have a short waist.
I took a skosh out of the side seam in the bodice too. The seams were also a bit wonky, so more fine-tuning. It didn't really bother me, lol, I just pinned it out, and transferred it to the pattern.

Man, I'm so blasé about knits, haha. I need to sew more of them I guess! 

One of the things Steph recommends is to compensate for the skirt. The weight of the skirt can pull down the top part, so the bodice and underbust seams should be sewn a little higher than you want them to sit.
I overcompensated for this! You can see my waist seam sits above the waist, but it doesn't bother me. I think the fabric I chose (which is delicious), is quite stable, as it is a cotton/spandex blend. The fact I shortened the skirt also reduced the sag factor I'm sure.

Being blasé about knits like I mentioned, I chopped 2" off the bottom of the skirt pattern before cutting. It's a little shorter than I'd planned, but is just decent enough for me. It helped me decide not to hem it though- it's a raw edge! Aah, so easy! Knits, I love you!!

I did still have to adjust the fit as I sewed the final version though. Even after having taken a good chunk out of the boobs, I still had a saggy boob pocket! So I had to take even more length out!
Then there was this:

This is a recurring issue for me. I usually have to add darts in woven fabrics, but for this, the fix was easy. I simply pinned out the gape and measured that. Then I unpicked the binding across the back of the neck, and cut that excess out (minus small seam allowances). With a newly created CB seam for the binding, I sewed it back on while stretching it to fit. Hope this makes sense!

It looks like this now- sorry for the slightly bad pic but you get the picture. It hugs the back of my neck lovingly.

The pattern called for 2.2m of fabric, but my fabric was extra wide so I bought 2m.  I hoped that would be enough.
I ended up cutting it out in a single layer, which took me FOREVER but it was totally worth it because I had a bunch left over- enough to make a Renfrew!  Yay!  It's like a sweet little freebie. Taking the 2" off the skirt probably helped conserve fabric as well.

I have decided single layer cutting is how I do knits. I find it much less stress, and easier to handle. I hate how knits squirm and wrinkle when you've got two layers on top of each other, so the precision of one layer is preferable for me. Plus, you can't argue with a free Renfrew right?? I just have to remember to flip the piece that would have been on the bottom layer... I've made that mistake way too many times.

Oh by the way, this dress has POCKETS:

I'm in pocket-y heaven!
However, I started out in pocket-y hell. So I tried out this new thing Steph recommends called "fusible stay tape", which is basically a pre-cut strip of fusible interfacing that keeps things from stretching out. It's applied at the pockets and shoulder seams.

Public service announcement!! Please folks, double and triple check that you are looking at the wrong side of the fabric when fusing! I fused mine to the RIGHT side of one of my skirt pieces by mistake and naturally, proceeded to freak out.

I've managed to rip half of it off here, but all those adhesive dots remain!  Aargh!
I desperately tried to remove it for some time, but came to the realisation I'd do better to re-cut the skirt piece. I was very upset I'd maybe lose my free Renfrew, but a hasty cutting layout reassured me I had JUST enough. Just!! Phew!!

Other thoughts on stay tape: Use a press cloth when fusing it (after checking and rechecking it's in the right spot of course, haha). I also clipped the corners when applying it to the neckline. I haven't seen this mentioned but it's the only way I figured I could get it lying flat.

Wow, turns out I had a lot to say about this pattern!  I'm glad I made a whole new post about it. Heh! I do want to make another of this dress. It's so comfortable. And if I can do it with less tweaking (and mistakes), it'll be even more satisfying!
Maybe a striped one is worth trying?

Friday, 2 August 2013

How I Cracked The Yoke!

Just thought I'd put up a quick post on what I did to get my recent pleated skirt to fit.

Compared to my other projects, fitting it wasn't too hard, which was a nice change!!
Saying that, I did make four toiles, I know, seems a lot. It would have been a much faster process if I had known everything at the beginning, lol. Ahh, the learning process!

Luckily the toiles were super fast to make, all I did was cut out the yoke and sew one seam. Pin the other one closed and done. Not too painful!

So essentially, I just slashed and spread to get it to sit level on my body. I then slashed and spread the pattern to match, and rinsed and repeated!
I used my handy self-made dress form, and just went for it.

For the skirt potion of the pattern, the same pattern piece is used for the front and back, so that tells me the width of the front and back yoke pattern pieces must be the same at the skirt seamline. Ahem, my body is not in the least symmetrical like that, New Look!
Look at it tilt as it fails to cover my posterior:

Anyway, that lead to this:

Slash and spread! Bum says yum yum, gimme more fabric!
This looked much healthier, but I could see the front was now swinging away from the body at the bottom a little now:

So I pinned out the excess, not moulding it to the body, as I didn't want it clinging to me.  Just making it rest a bit more naturally.

And that was basically the process! The rest was just tweaking, and mistake-making. Like I thought I'd try chopping off the top for a lower rise yoke, getting all clever. But this just made the yoke tilt again! So I guess it needs the support of the top of the yoke, or it tends to slip under the belly and stay there. That was what I found anyway. I also made sure to try it on my REAL body and tweak from there.

Oh, and I found one more important aspect was to make sure the top of the yoke hits 1" below the waist (as it is designed to). That way, the bottom of the yoke hits in the most flattering place (to my eye), somewhere around the hip-bone.

So here are my pattern pieces after all that malarkey:

This is the front.  You can see where I've overlapped the bottom.  I had to slash the top open slightly for the pattern to sit flat.

And the back, massively curvier!
So as you can see, the seamline of the back yoke is MUCH longer that the front yoke now. Therefore, I had to choose a different size skirt for the front and the back. I ended up with something like a size 16 back, and a size 6 front. This discrepancy would be less if I shifted the side seam forward I suppose.

So, here is the first iteration of the skirt, which I made when I didn't know about this kind of thing:

I've helpfully added in the seam lines for you.  Yikes.  I need to see if I can rip this apart and make it into something better??
And here's my new one:  Worth it I'd say!

So much more balanced.  Phew!
So I have two questions for you: Do you enjoy fitting posts or are they a waste of time? Sometimes I feel I'm the only one who cares about fitting, haha!
My other question is: Should I move the side seam forward for my next iteration? I always feel the need to fine-tune things I guess :) However, I think it looks pretty balanced visually, kinda hanging out in the middle of my body anyway.

I look forward to hearing any and all thoughts and I'll be back soon with some finished projects! :)