Friday, 29 November 2013

Completed: Polka Dot Pendrell!

So this garment kind of happened accidentally. It was this project I kept going back to work on while I was procrastinating other projects! I kept being mysteriously drawn to it...I just found myself cutting it one night out of the blue!
I didn't feel too "precious" about it either, since it's mystery fabric (no doubt polyester). I found it at an op shop, or "thrift store" to American readers, right?
And once again I'm wearing all Sewaholic- that's my Hollyburn skirt. An obvious match!

It's been a long time in the making though; I've intended to make the Sewaholic Pendrell for ages... it was one of the patterns that first caught my eye when I started following sewing blogs. Ahh. so long ago, when I was too sick with CFS to sew!  (So happy those horrible days are over). Therefore I'm really happy I finally achieved a version of this garment I can be proud of (I made a hideous, hideous attempt at a wearable muslin last year and I'm glad to say I learned a lot from that). I fixed up the fit a bit since that disaster. There was sagging at the back, which I fixed with a tuck/wedge combo. I love princess seams for the ease of adjustment. 

I pinned out the excess droop and transferred it like so:

Saggy back- diagonal lines coming from side seam and too much length in back. I think sway back is the cause.
Pin out droop. (obviously not just on one side)
Confusing pic- ignore the pattern piece on on the left. On the back pattern piece I made a horizontal tuck (not in pic). On the side back, you can see I've taken out a wedge going to nothing at the side seam. The back tuck is equal to the side back's reduction where their seamlines meet.  I am confusing you with my bad explanation, yes? You can also see my other previous adjusments such as the length I took out all the way around for my short waist, and on the back shoulder, excess fabric was folded out from the armhole. OMG this picture is confusing, sorry! Also, the vertical overlap you see near the hem is just where I pieced my tracing paper together! Phew, and deeep breath.

I was almost tempted to make another muslin, but saw sanity and accepted the fit would be fine, even if the back adjustment went screwy! Thankfully it didn't! Yay, so satisfying when a fit adjustment works! The other adjustments were pretty small, involving the armholes mainly.
So obviously, now the back fits nicely, I have gone and tucked it in so you can't see the good fit at all. You're welcome!

Another shot - check out the sleeve fullness at the back!
Overall, I'm wearing a smaller size than prescribed (I'm somewhere between 6-8 on Sewaholic's size chart at the waist.) For some reason when I first made it I started with a size 2. That takes out a lot of wearing ease, but I can still pull it over my head, which is great! A snugger fit, and interestingly, it's not too small in the shoulders. I did have to add width to the bottom at the back for my rear end though!

As many people mentioned, it's very long as drafted! I took out about 3" of length from the hem, on top of my usual shortening of the waist! Oh and the neckline is a bit snug. I have to wheedle it over my head to get it on, so I'll probably widen it next time.

When I cut this out I didn't pay any attention to the polka dot print and realised AFTERWARDS, oh heck, I should probably have thought about matching this up in some way! Thankfully it seems that there are no glaring bits of weirdness along the princess seams, at least to my untrained eyes, but I'll remember to think about it harder next time.
I did end up re-cutting one sleeve though as I realised the hems sat in a different places in the print, which bugged the heck out of me!

The polka dots don't line up the same on the sleeve hem. Unacceptable!
Speaking of the sleeves, these are very full sleeves! I found my fabric actually has quite a bit of body which keeps them puffy! I like to think they don't give me too much of a football player vibe as I have petite shoulders. However, the puffiness is much more pronounced in the back. This makes sense as the pattern piece is symmetrical for front and back, while my body is not. The back of my shoulder is much flatter of course. If I make this view again I will probably experiment with altering the back of the sleeve to be flatter (I can't resist tinkering...alllllways with the tinkering). A softer, drapier fabric would make a big difference though.

Look how puffy my sleeves are! So much puff!
The sleeves are drafted to be cut double and be folded at the hem. However since this fabric is a bit sheer, and also has plenty of body, I cut a single layer and made a hem instead. I'm really glad I did that! They'd be so bulky, and you'd see the polka dots coming through from the other side, ick! 

I simply faced the sleeve hem with bias in the same way as the neckline and armholes, though I suppose I could have folded them up in a regular hem. Instead of using the polka dot fabric, I used the same white cotton I used to line this dress. My logic was to give more softness and less polka dot show-through.

White cotton for bias facings.
One thing that tripped me up what with all my faffing around with the armholes, was that the pattern pieces for the binding no longer worked for me (why does my fitting always compound my pattern alteration woes? Ack!). I ended up just cutting them extra long and applying it as I went. I'd like to redraft the binding pieces for next time I make it. 
At first I thought that the binding should match the length of the seamline of the garment, but then I realised as I worked, the binding should be as long as where it is folded down to, once it's folded to the inside of the garment! (Does that makes sense, or am I talking crazy? Haha!). If the binding matches at the seamline, it will be shorter than the garment when it's folded in, therefore puckering the garment a bit. One of my armholes was done this way before I realised this, but I was lazy and left it. Heh :P

Oh and guys, guys, guys!!! This garment contains my very first overlocked seams! Wowsers! Oh... did I mention I got an overlocker? I'm still scared of it, but I'm sure it'll be great.

Gosh, I guess you could say I learned a lot making this, so yay for experimentation when sewing! I felt like I applied a bunch of "bonus" techniques, considering the properties of my fabric, playing with fit, and gaining understanding of how pattern pieces are put together. So this is a win for me. I hope more and more of my garments turn out like this. As in, learning as I go but still getting something nice at the end of it instead of a dud! Haha!

Oh, I've been blathering on for so long about techniques I forgot to add, can we all just agree how amazing polka dots are?? More polka dots please! :)

And more cute sleeves.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Knit for Victory? Sounds Fun!

So if you guys don't already know, Tasha of By Gum, By Golly is doing a 1940s-inspired knitalong on her blog, and it's called Knit for Victory!
Tasha knits up amazing vintage AND modern patterns, and is a pattern alteration whiz. When I grow up I want to knit like her!
As you may know, I'm a little addicted to knitting, so I couldn't resist having a crack. I've never knitted a vintage pattern so I would love to give it a try!

It has already started, and runs through to the 31st of January, so there's still time!

I have a few vintage knitting patterns on my to-knit list. Check these pretties out:

Monday, 18 November 2013

Completed: McCalls 5974- "The Perfect Knit Dress"

Yes, they actually call it that- The Perfect Knit Dress, right there on the envelope of McCalls 5974. Is it? Well, I'd definitely give it a thumbs up!
I made it in a merino/nylon blend I found on sale. It's quite thin, so I'm wearing it with a half-slip. Mmm, a warm grey dress. I feel so grown up and classy or something!

This neckline is crying out for a cute necklace, which I do not own unfortunately!
I have to say, I have problems with the instructions. Straight away McCalls sets people up to fail by including four inches of ease at the waistline. WHAT?? That's plenty for a woven fabric, let alone a stretchy knit fabric. Very disappointed, McCall's.
After seeing that printed on the pattern tissue, I went down from my recommended size 14, to the smallest size, 8, to get zero ease. (which by the way, PHEW, I'm glad it was printed on there or I would have made it way too big). I graded out two sizes for the hips, which probably wasn't necessary for a flared skirt, but I figured my butt could use the extra room.
I then took it in slightly at the waist during a mid-construction fitting also.

God McCall's, so disappointing from a pattern that's supposed to be about great fit! They go into all this detail about how you should tissue fit the garment before making it. Umm, that seems pointless for a knit. I can see tissue-fitting working for woven garments, but tissue doesn't stretch like knits, so that doesn't make sense to me.
The pattern includes alteration lines for sway back, small/full bust, and other things, but they don't even have a lengthen/shorten line for the waist. Weird! I took an inch out of the waist length, just because I know I seem to need that for every pattern. It seemed to work, so that's good. The underbust seam would have been very low if I hadn't done that.
I didn't bother looking at the sway back because I felt there was no way to know how much I'd need before making it. It's not too bad, plus ties cover it up!

I'm really glad I went down sizes- it's not too small in the shoulders at all, it seems in good proportion. I did sew the underarms at a smaller seam allowance just to raise them a little.
I thought I'd be a smartie pants and pre-emptively shorten the skirt by 2". Well, after levelling the hem, there was about a 4cm difference between the front and back, so I had to chop a lot off the front, thanks to my butt! So I made a really small, dodgy hem. Next time I'll start a bit longer so I can have a better hem.

Oh yeah, and the neckline opening is just hemmed with a narrow hem, as the instructions said to. I did all this work researching better ways to do it as others had recommended, but then I just... did it plain. My knit is well-behaved so it didn't go all wavy or gape-y as I'd feared. :)

Super serious-looking fashion pose.
Now the other beef with this pattern. McCall's conspires to waste your time all over the place.
They have you make gathering stitches any time something needs easing in. GUYS, it's for KNITS, just pull the shorter one to fit as you sew, it's so easy and fast!
Also, for some reason they instruct to sew each seam with a double line of stitching. I ain't got time for that! I'm not sure what the logic is here- more strength to the seams? Anyway, I'll let you know if my dress falls apart because I just did one line of stitching.

I also opted to put the sleeves in flat- it's easier construction and makes the fit check easier too.

They have you interface the midriff- I omitted that as I didn't want to compromise the stretch. It doesn't seem to miss it.

So the tie on this dress is pretty long and I quite like it. I think it'd be great for people who want some camouflage for their tummy. However, I'm thinking of making a version without the ties, because it does hide the cute pleating details on the bodice and skirt, plus I like the simplicity of leaving it off.
It weirds me out a bit that the midriff band doesn't go all the way around the dress though!

Here I tied it with the ties around the back, and I quite like it. It shows off the bodice more and is less bulky on the waist.

Maybe it looks a little odd with the ties wrapping at the back? I don't mind it.
So, The Perfect Knit Dress? Probably not, but it's pretty darn good (if you change a bunch of stuff on it)! :)

What do you reckon for my next version, ties or no ties? I'm so torn!

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Completed Knit: Georgina Cardigan

Okay, honesty time! I've had this completed for a bit but didn't blog it till now. Naughty! But it's my blog, so there.

Weird cheeky face.
And YES, I know I JUST paired my last Renfrew with the exact same circle skirt! 
Forgive me!
I need more skirts in my wardrobe, and I also don't have any dresses that go with this. Bad wardrobe planning I suppose, haha! Imagine this with a pretty lacy or chiffon style underneath though. Dreamy! I must make it happen. Here I've paired it with a simple pink singlet. This garment deserves so much more than that!

I fell in LOVE with this design the second I saw Kristin link it on her blog, a long time ago. I knew it had to be mine! It's on Ravelry here, and see my notes here.
I used the recommended yarn, which is a 50% alpaca, 50% wool blend. That's why it's got that slightly soft, fuzzy effect to it, and it's lovely and warm. OH, and I'm embarrassed to say, I already have a garment made of that exact yarn in that exact colour, and I just couldn't help going back for more. I love a graceful grey!!

Of course, the love affair didn't go smoothly- the pattern starts at a size of 36.5"- too big for me. However, it is knitted and constructed in a very different way, and it's covered in lace patterns! Modding wouldn't be easy!
After a lot of thought, swatches, and a few false starts (so frustrating!), I settled on going down 2 needle sizes to get a smaller gauge than the pattern, but also modding the pattern a little.

I took a few stitches off the front, and also decided to knit the ribbing (which is picked up from the body and goes around the whole garment) a little shorter. It's tricky though, because if you modded it to be a lot shorter to get rid of width across the bust, you'd lose some of the lovely shawl collar, and also length in the back waist! Unless of course you did short rows to compensate... You can see how I almost cooked my brain on this one right?

I think it ended up well though. Maybe on the tight side if anything, but that's how I roll. lol. I think it's not so much that it's tight, more that I worry about the stability of what is probably negative ease, all being held on a mere 3 buttons! It seems to be coping however...

Faux detail shot where I just zoomed in on a picture, lol. Lazy blogger!
Also, I extended the sleeves to full length, adding my own decreases in to keep them fitted. Again, a bit on the snug side, haha! I think I got a little carried away and next time would do less decreases, but I suppose it doesn't impact the garment negatively.

One side shot! Check my arm lace!
Two side shots! Just because.
Knitting the lace was fun, and I totally spontaneously became a knitting ninja, because I figured out on my own how to fix lace that I messed up in the row below. I just laddered down the stitches and changed where the yarn overs and decreases were located without having to rip back a row. I've gained so much confidence with my knitting! 
Ugh though, blocking the lace was a pain though. So many pins, and so much stretching! I was very aggressive with it.

Streeeeeeeeeetch that lace.
Anyway, I really like how this came out. The design is just so lovely and I'm a sucker for a bolero of course. I feel like I don't have the perfect complement to it in my wardrobe but here's hoping I remedy that!

Gotta have a back shot. See, I wouldn't want it any longer in back!

Not sure what I'm doing here, heh :)
Now that the weather is warming up I probably won't get to wear it much for a while, but hey, that'll give me time to make something else to pair it with... Heh. What would you pair with it? :)

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Completed: Boatneck Renfrew Mod

Don't be judging. Yep, it's another Renfrew mod.
I considered not posting it but I am, so there!
It's in a red wool double knit, which I was scared of ruining because it was expensive, haha!

You'll never stop my Renfrew madness! Never!!
I paired it with my trusty wool circle skirt which always makes it on the blog cos it's good to pair with everything. Clearly I need more of these!

I actually took quite a lot of thought on this one. You see, the neckline finish was important to me- I didn't want to put a band on it like the regular Renfrew, as I didn't think that would work with the sharp angles of the shoulder seam. Also, the whole point of a boatneck is its elegant simplicity- I didn't want extra visual mess around it!

In the boatneck Renfrews I'd already linked in my Renfrew mods list, there were two different ways they'd done the neckline- one has a narrow top stitched facing which is stretched so that the neckline cups to the body instead of flopping, and one has a cut-on facing. You see, my friends? There is more than one way to skin a cat!
For my rather thick fabric, I wanted to minimise bulk. That was enough to make me discount the idea of a band, or seam, or binding at the neckline.
And simply turning under and top stitching is an inferior finish, according to what I've read. It stretches out of shape and distorts.
So I found this tip on Pattern Review- stitch clear elastic on the seamline before turning under. It stabilises your seam to prevent it getting loose and droopy, but it has enough elastic action that it doesn't fight the stretch fabric!
I found it worked well. I'll update if the neckline gets grumpy with age though :)
If I'd been a good blogger, I would totally have a close-up of the neckline. But I don't, so... sorry!
I also did this neckline finish BEFORE sewing the shoulder seams, which is different to the normal construction order.

Other than that, the other mod I made was to eliminate the bands at the hem and sleeve hems. I just lengthened the pattern pieces and used a twin needle hem. Again, it reduces bulk, and keeps it simple.

Here are pictures of the original pattern sitting on top of my modded one; you can see how the necklines have been altered. You can also see that there is a small narrow shoulder adjustment on the original tracing; that's what the red lines and overlapping is.

Neckline raised 10cm at centre front. Shoulder seam widened by 3cm.

Back neckline is about the same height, but tapers to meet the neckline which as been moved in by 3cm. This is a bad picture, haha, you can hardly see the pattern piece underneath but you get the idea.
I allowed for a hem of 1.5cm on my neckline. If in doubt, make the neckline higher than you think- you can always chop more off when you try it on! :)

One thing I was glad about was the 1.5cm seam allowances. Quite unexpectedly for me, I found my trusty Renfrew pattern was too narrow in the shoulders all of a sudden! How strange! My theory is that the extra high neckline added more stability than the scoop neck original design, so the neckline was pulled in. It could also be to do with the clear elastic. I feel the third factor could be the thick fabric, which is probably a lot more stable than my previous Renfrew fabrics. Interesting, no? So this Renfrew has minimal seam allowances at the shoulders! I'll have to take notes if I make a boatneck Renfrew again....

Check out my fitting issues! It's riding up on the skirt a bit, but still.
I haven't really taken the time to examine the fit too closely on Renfrew since I didn't care, haha. But I'm going to try to improve it next time, just to experiment. I'm seeing sway back, but I also think it needs more width in the back so it can fit over my backside better. It all adds up to a lot of horizontal wrinkles in the back.

So you see, even though it's such a simple project, there were quite a few new learnings. That's always good.
BUT!! I promise I have some more exciting projects coming up. Hahaha! :D

Monday, 4 November 2013

Completed: Jalie 2921

Bow! Purple! Knit Fabric! Assemble to create a pretty, easy garment!
Here is the result. Jalie 2921 is a success.
Here I am wearing it with my New Look 6594, which I will forever resent for being a lint and dust magnet, but is still a good basic. lol

Umm, yay for this pattern, it is so cute! I don't have too much to say on it, other than yay for easy.
The sizing is good, I graded out two sizes for the hips to match my measurements on the chart. I compared it to the Sewaholic Renfrew, my trusted knit top, and it helped reassure me it should fit okay. I was smart enough to make a preemptive strike on the waist length though, and folded out an inch of length front and back before cutting.
This is one of those adjustments it seems I always have to make.

And I'm glad it did fit; Jalie patterns only have a 6mm seam allowance, so no room for error! I guess that cuts down on trimming, but I'd rather have the seam allowance safety net in case I picked the wrong size!

I guess those wrinkles in my lower back are the sway back thing again. It doesn't bother me on this garment.
Just tuck it in. :)
One new thing I did on this project was learn how to use a twin needle. I was unsure of if I was doing it right, but I guess it worked. Funny, I was reading all these tips about all the things you can do to make your twin needle hems work, being very studious and careful. And then I just did a test and it worked fine without any extra techniques needed! I'm thinking those tips would come in handy on thin, slippery, and disagreeable knit fabrics though. However, mine was very kind to me. It's a rayon knit fabric which is a good weight and drape to accomodate the bow.

I enjoyed the twin needle hems- they look good, stretch nicely, and are less work than bands like the Renfrew has (in my opinion).

Here is how I set up my machine. You just run both threads along the same path! Apparently it helps to put the two threads on either side of the tension disc, and only put one thread through the guide just before the needle. Easy peasy right?

Since I used my bobbin for the second top thread, I was totally too lazy to thread another bobbin for down below. So I used a different colour underneath. No-one will see my shame. I mean totally intentional secret design feature. Yeah.

At first I thought zig zag on the bottom looked weird, pulling inwards, but this tutorial shows it looking like that so it must be fine. *shrugs* Looks good from the outside so... good!

I tried untucking it but I think I like it better tucked in. Also BOWS!

Oh, one thing I noticed about this pattern is that it calls for a fabric with stretch along both grains, but mine doesn't and it's absolutely fine, so that's good! Also, it didn't call for reinforcing of the shoulder seam with tape of any kind. I wonder if the shoulder seams will stretch out and sag? I'll call it an experiment.

I'm happy with this top, and I think the fit is good (I'm very lenient on knit fabric garments which is freeing for me!). And my husband was impressed so bonus points there. The easier a garment is, the more impressed he seems to be. Dude, you've got it backwards! Haha.