Thursday, June 25, 2015

Summertime shorts

I'm STILL not on vacation (t-minus 20 hours or so), but at some point it will be summer break for me, since thankfully, it's kind of inevitable.  I'm done with pencil skirts and wool pants for a while; on to summer attire!  So, shorts.  I'm so not a fan of shorts (still not after making these, truthfully), but they are practical and all that.  
Not wanting to spend actual money on a pattern, I located the *free* "Pleasant Pathways Shorts" pattern by Anna Maria Horner.  With only super minor tweaking (crotch curve and lengthening the legs a tad), this pattern worked remarkably well!  I like the clean styling of the faced waistband, side invisible zip and hem facings.  Good blank canvas for some fun fabric.
I added some back welt pockets (referencing my own pattern/ tutorial, which I had to look at to remember :)).  The super crazy print makes them hard to see, but there are two on the back.
Speaking of the fabric, this was a purchase I couldn't resist.  I got this during a big sale at a local store, and it's vintage Hawaiian cotton barkcloth!  Perfect for summer wear and I have enough left over for a skirt of some type, too.  Is it crazy to consider a pencil skirt?
Worn with a different top for a more summery look:

Invisible side zip
This was actually the second pair I made--the first was from an equally loud print, home dec fabric leftovers from making pillows.  My son actually commented that I looked like the office pillows :)  
A few more sleeps until our east coast adventure, with a lot to do before we leave.  Wish more time could be spent sewing my summer wardrobe!  Time to pack what I have!

 2015 Resewlution, June garment #3+4 (still have pants and two blouses yet unblogged!  Eek!)

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Two bathing suits, but only one winner

It's been two years since I made my last two bathing suits (here and here).  I love them, but much like underwear, bathing suit sewing is addictive, so when I spotted this fabric, I had to make another.  

For my first attempt, I found the Abigail swimsuit pattern by Ohhh Lulu.  I'm a huge fan of their undergarment patterns, so I was excited to see a bathing suit available on their website.
I made one version (too tight!) and while this, my second try, felt like it fit better, it doesn't look very flattering.  The style calls for the back to dip a bit, with a strap across the back.

My back flub was bulging a bit more than I would like (and these two are the very best photos--my ego couldn't handle posting the mediocre and bad ones), and the butt wasn't quite as full-coverage as I would like, despite some pattern tweaking.   At the end of the day, while a super adorable style and good drafting/ instructions, the Abigail suit just isn't the style for me.   
Back to my TnT 1970s swim suit pattern (McCalls 5036, which, if you can get your hands on it, you should buy.  The construction is super clean and there are so many options!) Thankfully, I had enough fabric to make a 3rd suit, with addition of a bit of a black and white diamond print for the bodice.
Super full butt coverage and less visible back rolls!  Hurray!  This pattern has a center back seam, which was a pain to match up, pattern-wise.  But, it's super functional fit-wise.

I just love the little cut out under the bodice (and, I saw the same feature on this suit at Anthro!  Mine has better butt coverage, that's for sure!).   I used a 1/2" clear swimsuit hook at the back neck instead of ties for a cleaner look.  
We aren't discussing the pattern placement :)  
My class isn't finished for another week, but then I step (or rather, fly) directly into vacation, so I'm ready for some beach action!  

2015 Resewlution, June garment #1+2 (not counting a pair of pants and shorts I have yet to post)

Monday, May 25, 2015

Self-drafted pin-tuck blouse, two ways

Pin-tuck blouse muslin (left) and revised version (right)
This blouse. I've had plans to make an official pattern for that top since I first made it. I even bought fabric (years ago) for the job, as encouragement. Ha.  In cleaning out my sewing room this weekend, I found a partial pattern of the blouse--just the back--and I decided it was time to knock that project off the list.  Time to break out the pattern drafting tools and my sloper!

Here's my first version, in red-orange gauze. The beauty of single gauze is that it's really cheap, very breathable (perfect for summer garments) and fairly easy to work with.  The top fits okay (despite forgetting to add seam allowance--oops--I remembered in time to use a scant 1/4"), but the neckline is a bit wonky--it doesn't lay flat on my neck, and flops open.
The main design feature are the radiating pin-tucks in the front and back.  They give shaping and some interest to an otherwise simple top.
Floppy neckline...
After this first version, I made some alterations to the pattern: neckline, sleeves (I wanted elastic gathers) and general fit.  The second version is a big improvement (though not perfect, still!) and I just adore the result!  Here's my happy face:
This fabric is double-gauze; the added thickness may explain why it still feels a little snug despite adding seam allowance and some width.  But it's very comfortable and seriously cute.
The neckline is really curved and lays so nicely.

While the first version had fish eye darts in the back, I left them out after an initial fitting.  After looking at this photo, maybe I should go ahead and sew them--they're still marked on the inside :)
It feels so nice to get this off the list!  I can't wait to wear it with some cute red shorts.
I've got one more length of gauze fabric--in sheer silk.  For that version, I may omit the front placket, and add a key hole in the back.  Time to go back to the drafting table!
My JCPenney catalog pose :)

2015 Resewlution, May garment #1+2 (I still need to do more sewing!)

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Tutorial: Heart rate monitor-sports bra sewing hack

So I understand this tutorial might help only a small slice of the population, but it feels important enough (to me anyway) that I decided to just go ahead and write it.  I don't know about you, but having a sports bra pressing in on my ribcage is bad enough without adding to it another strap of a heart rate monitor. Going up big hills on my bike (occasionally :) while wearing two elastic, compressive straps around the part of my body that needs to expand greatly...well, it just doesn't work for me.  You can buy sports bras with built in heart rate monitors, but they run $70-$100.  For a bra that isn't even pretty!  As it turns out, if you can sew, you can make your own for less than less than $25, and that's if you buy everything new.   In this tutorial, we're going to trim a heart rate monitor strap and attach it to the inside of the front of your sports bra with Velcro!  Woohoo!
First off, get yourself a cheap sports bra from Target (mine was less than $10, not on sale) or use one you have already.  I like these because I'm flat-chested, but any sports bra will do.   You'll also need a spare heart rate monitor strap that works with your monitor (or if you have a throw-caution-to-the-wind mentality, use the original strap).  I use a Garmin monitor, and replacement straps that work with both Garmin and Polar monitors (check to be sure before buying) are available on Amazon for $12.50.  You'll also need some hook and loop (Velcro).  I found an "soft and flexible" variety at Joann's, which works perfectly for this application and I would highly recommend.  The super soft loop side, which will go on the bra toward your skin, is good for when you don't want to wear the monitor
Next, identify the points on the monitor that make contact with your skin.  You do not want to cut these, so trim the strap about 1" away from these contact pads to reduce the length of the strap to just the important part. 
Mark the edge of the contact pads with a pin.
 The scratchy side of the hook and loop will go on the monitor strap so it doesn't touch your skin.
I zigzag sewed the edge of the strap because it was fraying a bit.
Caution: you will NOT attach the Velcro to this side!
This is super important: flip over the strap so the contact pads are face down.  You want to attach the hook side of the Velcro to the side of the strap that faces your bra (the side with the snaps for the monitor).  Cut a piece about 1" long and zig zag sew the Velcro to the strap, being careful not to sew over the contact pads.  I actually have no idea what would happen if you did, but I'm guessing there's electrical stuff in there that might get ruined.  Sew the Velcro to the other side in the same way.
Before sewing.  Note the attachment snaps for reference.
After sewing
Now, put on your sports bra; you want the band to be stretched before measuring the strap. Tuck the strap under the front of the sports bra band where you would want it, and mark the ends of the strap on the sides of your bra with a pin.  There isn't a lot more scary than pulling a tight bra off with pins sticking out of it, so be careful taking it off!
Then, cut strip of loop side of Velcro about 1.5".  It's good to have it longer than the hook side, to allow for some wiggle room.  Center the piece where you've pin-dicated (haha!).

Zig-zag sew around the Velcro, being sure to s-t-r-e-t-c-h the bra band while doing so, otherwise it will rip your stitches when you put it on.
See, when the band is unstretched, the Velcro gets wonky, but stretch, the Velcro is (pretty) flat!

Repeat for the other side.  And all the other bras in your collection, so they can all be heart rate monitor bras!
Voila!  Go out there and ride some hills...or go for ride with friends to get coffee....whatever  :)
By the way, I'd love to hear if this tutorial is useful to you!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Fashion Illustration

Hey, did you know anyone can learn how to draw?  On the first day of my Fashion Sketching course, we all drew our best fashion figure.  Here's mine: 
Over the semester, we've learned how to draw a 9-head fashion figure, garments and garment features, shade with markers, and render textures and patterns.  It was truly fascinating!  Here are some of my favorites:
Study in shading structured garments
Practice rendering cable knit sweater and ostrich leather skirt.
Homework (rendering textured garments) with photo reference from Prada Fall 2015
Homework (shading structured garments) with photo reference from Miu Miu Spring 2014
Last week, I submitted my final project.  I chose Prada's Fall 2015 collection as my inspiration.  I truly fell in love with this line, it has all the things I love about clothing: bright colors, structured garments and a modernized-vintage vibe.  I also adore the styling (Shoes!  Gloves! Those lucite brooches!).  So many good things.  Here's my final project (in reality, it is a large 14 x 17" board):

Here are the reference photos, from the Prada runway show:

Having spent the majority of my post-teen years immersed in science and education, it was so enjoyable to take this class.  Homework was fun!  How I wish there was an advanced class!

I have been sewing a tiny bit (black cigarette-style pants and the start of a vintage-pattern dress), but it's been slow going (and clearly not documented!).  Between this drawing class, my own teaching load, and an online teaching certification course, I haven't had loads of time to spend at the sewing machine.  But summer is coming soon!