Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Bronx dress for the first day of school

After seeing SBCC's new cowl-neck addition to the Bronx dress pattern, I couldn't resist.  I loved the look of a classic skater dress with a bit dressier neckline and elbow length sleeves.  If I were teaching, this style would be perfect every day....
But instead of teaching a lecture, this past Monday was my first day at WVC as a full-time student!   And I was lucky enough that the weather was (temporarily) warm enough to wear a dress without tights!  Yay!
I so appreciate that SBCC's patterns are drafted for us petite ladies.  It's so nice not to have to shorten bodices and hems!  However, when I sewed up the appropriate size (XS), the bodice didn't fit well across the shoulders (sorry, no photos!).  After looking at the pattern a bit, it seemed like the back armholes were a bit deep, at least for my broad back, so I took apart the bodice (cutting away the serged edges) and recut the back bodice to have a wider upper back.  It fits so much more nicely, but it could still use a bit more work.  It also looks like I need a swayback adjustment there!
I lucked out and ordered just the right fabric for this dress: midnight navy rayon-nylon ponte knit from Mood.  The weight is great for its structure and coverage, and it sewed up beautifully, but it's fairly thick, so the cowl isn't as drapey as it might be with lighter fabrics.  I also unwittingly matched the sample shown at the SBCC website.... :)
In the future, I'll alter the pattern a bit to increase the drape when working with this type of thick fabric.  (Notice my rainbow heart "Nicole" pin?  That's totally vintage 80s right there.)
The dress is an unbelievably fast sew, especially since I totally cheated and decided not to hem the skirt or sleeves.   Shh....I even left the back neckline unbound!  This type of fabric could handle it, since bias binding the neckline would have been super bulky.

I LOVE this dress!  I felt put together and comfortable all day, which made it so much easier to learn stuff :)  


Saturday, January 28, 2017

Tomato wool tweed trousers

Initially, I had envisioned this tomato and pink wool tweed fabric from Britex for the perfect chic work dress, but since said chic dress pattern is not in existence (yet...), the fabric sat for a while.  I've tossed a couple of ill-fitting wool pants recently, so this fabric seemed like a fun option with which to replace them.
The pattern is Amazing Fit trousers (Simplicity 8056).  I like that this pattern series acknowledges that people carry weight differently, and the pattern has three "fits": slim, average, and curvy. Admittedly, I had originally tried this pattern in the "slim" category, since my hip measurement is proportionally smaller than my waist measurement when compared to the "standard".  However, the back waistband would pull downward, so it was clear my bum is (much) bigger than I had thought (hoped!).  I went with the average category this time around and the fit was better, with still some tweaking to do.  I also did a bit of a petite adjustment, which amounted to, essentially, shortening the rise in the front and back.  In previous iterations, fabric in the crotch area was kind of pooling below the zipper.   I am *almost* at the goal of perpendicular side seams.
This pattern does not come with back pockets, so I added some single welt pockets.
With extreme close up, to show the fabric a little better.
I also added a full lining (Bemberg rayon, of course) to these trousers, since it is pretty much unacceptable for me to wear wool without a lining.  I'm not allergic or anything, it just annoys the poop out of me.  
Here's the waistband, with zip fly and double bar closures (+ snap).  I'm locked in there!  

At this point, I may still take the length up a teeny bit (like less than 1/2").  Depending on my shoes, they sometimes hit the ground in the back, but it's definitely a fine line.  
Oh hey, I made the top, too.  This is a self-drafted pattern to replicate a Banana Republic one I wore into the ground.  It's still in the early stages of drafting, but it goes well with these pants (unlike most everything else in my wardrobe!).
And here they are on my mannequin with leg stumps.  I've never used my dressmakers form for pants, and they actually fit!  Of course, it's a fiasco to get them on and off, but once in a while isn't a big deal.

I'm a few critical steps closer to my goal of a perfectly fitting trouser pattern, so I can make a shiny new pair of wool trousers for the start of school each year :) I need to clear up the extra fabric under my bum there, but I have a plan of attack for the next version.  
I'm also working on trying to get a well-fitted pair of cropped slim leg pants, and that is coming along significantly less well...evidence coming up.




Monday, January 23, 2017

Plaid wool voile top

For years, every time I went to my local fabric shop, I looked longingly at this vintage red plaid wool voile fabric (I think I'm the only person that buys anything in that part of the store, so stuff lasts a while!). Last week, I finally just bought it!  I'm not sure what drew me to this fabric--red is not a color I wear very often, but something grabbed me, so I finished the bolt with a bit less than 2 yards.
Of course, I had to find a pattern to go along with it, so I settled on McCalls M7284 (view A), which is a high-low, unfitted blousey top. The yoke in the front was a total pain to sew, and mine isn't done particularly well, but I'm just letting it go.
 I had to spend some time pattern matching the plaid, but it wasn't that bad.
All but the armscye seams are Frenched--I was feeling grumpy about the top at the moment I inserted the sleeves, so I didn't feel like messing with French seams there so they are simply overlocked. Does anyone else go through that stage in a sewing project where the novelty has worn off and it's maybe not fitting or looking just right, and you just start rushing through the rest?  Or is that just me?  :)  At least I finished it, and didn't just throw it in the bin!
So this top isn't the most flattering, though it looks better in the photos than I was seeing in the mirror. It's comfy and goes well with jeans, so that's all that matters, right? The slightly sheer fabric makes it feel a bit more modern and interesting.  Overall, it gets a B+, I think.
Glad I finally just bought that lovely fabric and got it out of my system.  On to the next project!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Reusable Swiffer dusters

As much as I love the disposable Swiffer dusters, I just can't do it anymore--all that trash!  I've recently switched to washable microfiber pads for my Swiffer sweeper, and after doing a search for reusable dusters that I could sew, I came across this tutorial at Sew Much Ado.

The process is so easy, and I've documented it in photos here, with some variations from the original tutorial.
After browsing the limited flannel section at my local quilt shop, I fell in love with this pink bunny print.  Dust bunnies....get it?? :)  To make the duster work even better with the yellow Swiffer duster handle,  I started off by sewing the stack of 8 flannel "sheets" down the center about 5" (where the "fork" begins).
Pushing the top and bottom two pieces of flannel out of the way, I then sewed about 5/8" from the fold line on both sides to create the casing.


After testing this version out, I didn't like how floppy the top and bottom layers were around the handle.  Plus, I wasn't convinced my boys would pick the right side in which to put the handle when using these dusters, so I went back and topstitched through all layers (see images below for placement).  I eye-balled all the seams, so I don't have exact measurements--sorry!


Now, the duster fits really nicely on this type of handle!
Snipping through the layers (2 at a time) with pinking sheers makes the special dust-catching shape of the original Swiffer dusters.
Here are my first 6 dusters, but a full yard of each color (pink and white) should make about 9 dusters total with the dimensions I used (7" x 5.5" for the white, 7" x 4.5" for the pink).  After making this batch, I don't think the dusters need quite so many layers--perhaps a total of 4-6 layers would do the job just as well, and save some fabric in the process.
Washing them before use is pretty much required, since I think I ended up scattering around more "dust" than I picked up when I tried them out after sewing.  Plus, flannel gets softer and more fluffy (and more dust-catching) with washing.  The photo, above, is what the duster looked like after a wash and dry.

Overall, I'm excited to start using these reusable dusters!  Hopefully my boys are equally thrilled, since they are the ones that will really be using them :)



Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Tutorial: Super-easy two-tone infinity scarf

Who says you can't wear linen in the winter?  Using some amazing linen knit fabric from Britex, I sewed up a beautiful and warm color-blocked infinity scarf, perfect for the colder months.  For my version, I chose two different colors--turquoise and navy--but this tutorial would work equally well if you wanted to go with a single color of fabric.   Here's what to do.
Above is a photo of the end product, so you can see the big picture at the start.  In a nutshell, I cut two long rectangles of fabric, which I sewed together along the long edges to create a tube.  The tube ends were then sewn together to create a closed loop.  Okay, now that you know where you're going, cut your fabric!
For my scarf, I used the entire selvage-to-selvage width of the fabric (about 60") as the long edge.  To make it easier to cut, I folded the fabric in half lengthwise and cut a 14" strip of each fabric.  You can make your scarf wider or narrower as you like, but I found this to be just right--not too bulky, but still wide enough to feel cozy.

Placing the two 14"x60" fabric strips right sides facing, even out the ends to make sure both strips are exactly the same length.  (In the image above, the strips are folded in half length wise).

Keeping the strips facing, overlock the entire long edge of one side of the rectangle (the top side, in the diagram below).  Overlock the other long edge, keeping 2" on both ends were left unstitched (the bottom edge in the diagram).   This unstitched area allows you to sew the ends together later on.  At this point, you can turn the tube inside out to press the seams, but that's not necessary.
At this point, you should have a long tube, open at both ends.  To connect the open ends of the tube, with right sides and same colors facing, line up the the raw edges.  In the image below, the edges of the aqua fabric are lined up (right sides facing), with the navy fabric pushed out of the way for the moment.
Begin sewing at the side of the tube with the unfinished long edge.  Sew across the raw edge and other seam, adjusting the fabric as you go.  Continue the seam along the raw edge of the other color, finishing at the other side of the tube.  As you get to the end of the seam, it may take some work to keep the raw edges even.  Go slowly and maneuver the fabric around the rest of the scarf, which will emerge through the small opening when you are done.  
Pull the scarf right side out; the two ends will be connected, with a small hole on the edge.
Sew the hole closed with tiny invisible stitches, matching up the center seam.
Done!  Here, I've looped the scarf twice around my neck.
It can also be worn as a hood/scarf combination for those cold and windy days in the bay area!
  Or, the scarf can even be worn with one end looped through the other.  So versatile!
Many thanks to Britex for providing the fabric for this quick and fun project!