Friday, September 18, 2015

City Stroll Skirt in cashmere

With a cute blouse or sweater, skirts are great for my job, so the unusual shape and nice details (pockets!) of the City Stroll Skirt by Liesl & Co definitely caught my eye when the pattern was released.  
For this version, I used a "scrap" of fabric leftover from my self-drafted blazer project.  I couldn't let nearly a yard of cashmere wool tweed go to waste, and luckily, this pattern requires only a small amount of fabric.  (Sadly, I can't wear the two together...)
The fabric is a bit thicker than the suggested fabrics, and I realized I sewed 5/8" seams before reading the instructions (SA is 1/2" FYI!), so the skirt overlap is about 1/2" shy of the proper location (right at the dart).  Thankfully, it's a wrap skirt and while it doesn't look perfect, it's still wearable.

The flap allows for pretty reasonable movement without flashing any unmentionables, even with my less-than-ideal coverage (though I may still add a small snap inside).
Following the suggestion of Shelley from Bartacks and Singletracks (see two of her skirts here, and a little girl version here), I decided to underline (with Bemberg) the skirt and Hong Kong finish some strategic seams. (See my tutorial for details.)  
Here's the inside of one flap of the skirt.  For the underlining, I extended the lining fabric (for the Hong Kong finish) only at the side seams; since the rest are covered with a facing or waistband.  The non-HK finished sides of the lining/ self edges were just basted together with a 1/4" SA.  
I even underlined the pockets, and then finished all the raw edges with Hug Snug rayon seam binding. 
Waistband and "hem" facing
Hem facing with Hug Snug binding, and side seam with Hong Kong finish.
The underlining feels so nice and looks just gorgeous, so even if the fit isn't perfect, I know is that this skirt is well made!  
2015 Resewlution, September garment #2

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Quilted Linden sweatshirt

I wasn't particularly excited about Grainline's Linden Sweatshirt pattern when it was released.  It's cool, but I don't wear too many sweatshirts, and I wasn't sure I could make it look as hip as Jen does! That all changed on my last trip over the mountain to Hart's Fabric.  I spotted this a-mazing white quilted fabric and I hightailed it over to the pattern section to nab the Linden.  It was a match made in heaven, and was the easiest decision I made that day at Harts!
I love raglan sleeves and they seem to make garments come together super fast.  I made the process a tad longer by adding some not-entirely decorative stitching along the raglan seams.  Since the fabric is thick and synthetic, I knew ironing would be a relatively useless.  So, instead of serging those seams, I "lightening bolt" stitched them on my regular machine, opened them, and then used my coverstitch machine (with wide-set needles) to finish.  The continuous sleeve-side seam was serged.
The neckline is regular old black poly/cotton ribbing (I bought the tail end of the bolt at the store).  Worked great!  I opted against the ribbing at wrist and waist, and instead went with coverstitching there and at the neckline.   How fun is that fabric?  

For the sizing, I went with 0, grading out to 2 at the hips. Surprisingly, I didn't shorten the top at all, so if you are taller than me (otherwise known as "normal"), you might want to add some length.
This is a super fun, quick pattern.  I've seen versions in normal jersey fabric, but I'm kind of interested in trying out some sweater's a pretty versatile garment.  I may even size it down a tad to make a normal tee.
If it weren't for the unseasonably warm mid-90s temps we're having in northern California, I'd be wearing this like crazy!  "Winter" will come soon enough, though, and this will be ideal as an outer garment.  

2015 Resewlution, September garment #1

Friday, September 04, 2015

Tutorial: Tortilla warmer

A few months ago, I learned how to make corn tortillas from scratch....just in time to teach a class of 4th graders and then a class of 4 year olds :)  After making (and eating) that many tortillas with the kids, I was completely hooked!  And after purchasing a press, the obvious next thought was that I needed a tortilla warmer.  A warmer keeps freshly cooked tortillas soft and warm, but even if you purchase your tortillas, a warmer makes it easier to heat them up in the microwave.  So, pretty much everyone needs a tortilla warmer and here's how to make your own!
  • cotton batting (do not use Insul-bright or similar metallic material, so you can use it in the microwave)
  • 1/2 yard of home dec or quilting cotton for the outside, pre-washed
  • 1/2 yard of unbleached muslin, pre-washed
  • about 1 yard of bias tape (purchased or make your own)
  • 1 button (preferably with a shank)
For my warmer, I used a compass to draw a 10" circle on paper to make a pattern, but you can use any round object (plate, bowl) in that general size.  At this point, I only make the smaller corn tortillas, but the warmer can be made in diameters to suits your own tortilla-warming needs.  

First up, cut 4 rounds of cotton batting and two each of the outer fabric and muslin.  Then, make two stacks as follows: muslin, 2 rounds of cotton batting, and outer fabric on top.  

Quilt the four layers of each stack.  Starting in the center and sewing toward the edge prevents the layers from shifting or bunching too much.  Trim around the edges and zig-zag around to keep it all even.
Since I'm so obsessed with bias tape makers, and I need to justify owning several, I convinced myself that using two different widths of bias tape was absolutely necessary for this project.  If you don't need to justify your bias tape maker obsession, feel free to use a single width of bias tape  (1/2" single fold should work)
I labelled my bias makers with the width of fabric strip needed.
I made two strips of narrow bias tape (equal to half the circumference of your rounds + ~2 inches) and one strip of slightly wider bias (again, equal to half the circumference + ~2 inches.  

Apply the narrow bias tape to each quilted round.   I sewed first from the wrong side, flipped it to the right side and neatly topstitched.  This bias tape should cover a bit more than half the circumference of the circle (see below).
Then, put the two rounds together, muslin sides facing and matching up the bias edges.  You may want to zig-zag or baste the two unbiased edges to keep them neatly together.   Then, apply the wider-width bias to unfinished edges, tucking in the raw edges at the ends and being sure to cover the ends of the narrow bias tape.  
Next up is a neat button closure.  Using leftover bias tape, fold lengthwise and stitch to close.  Fold in half, and position the loop on the right side of one of the rounds.  Check length to ensure it will work with your button.  Stitch to the inside of your bias tape by 1/8 of an inch or so.  Trim ends close to stitching.

Fold the loop over the stitch line and stitch again, along the bias tape top-stitching to reinforce the loop and hide the raw edges.  (Alternatively, you can position the loop while sewing the bias tape.)
Sew the button on the right side of the other quilted round.
Done!  Now get out there and make some tortillas!

The fabric is Echino cotton/linen shirting, purchased at Hart's Fabrics.  Doesn't it look all fiesta-like?

P.S. This particular tortilla warmer was sewn for our wonderful pre-school teacher!  

Sunday, August 30, 2015

From petal skirt to Best Dress Ever

When I made my petal skirt (no.5) from Drape Drape 2, I was struggling to find appropriate tops to wear with what was otherwise a pretty rad skirt.  So, at the suggestion of the lovely Kristin from Skirt as Top, I transformed it into a dress!  Seriously, this was the best advice because I am in LOVE.
Literally, I was so excited to do this thing that the next day I returned to the store and got some more fabric.
For the top pattern, I knew I wanted a slim-fit, simple cowl top to complement the draped skirt.  The main key was that I didn't want to add bulk.  Thankfully, I had just the top pattern on hand--my own! A while back, I drafted a cowl top as part of the Britex guest bloggers series.  The blouse pattern was originally drafted for a woven fabric, so I took in the sides and armscyes a bit for a closer fit.  
The armholes and back neckline are finished with self binding, and the top is attached to the original sparkly elastic waistband with a simple line of stitching .  
From afar, I didn't care for the white background of the original elastic, so I sewed on a band of elastic sequins (hastily whipstitched moments before our guests arrived for a cocktail party!).  Perfection.
I wish I could convey what an awesomely comfortable dress this is and how great I feel in it. Such a rare treat!  It felt completely appropriate running around barefoot while making drinks and chatting at our party, but I can also dress it up for date-night dinner with strappy silver heels.   Now I just have to figure out how to wash it....

Thanks again, Kristin, for the stellar idea!

2015 Resewlution, August garment #4

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Drape Drape 2: skirt no. 5

I was relishing the finale of "The Great British Sewing Bee" (season 3) with a bowl of popcorn this evening, when I was surprised and thrilled to see that the contestants' first challenge was to sew the Drape Drape 2 no.2 top that I posted the other day!  It was the exact pattern!  It was so awesome. Even though the only version of the program I can find online in the US is pretty grainy and in a tiny format, I am in love with the show.  Could the contestants be any more kind and sweet?  Nope. And I didn't mind watching Patrick Grant throughout the episodes, either.  Now I'm just sad that it's over :(
Anyhow, I'm finishing up my informal three-garment tour of Drape Drape 2 with the petal miniskirt, no.5.  This is the garment that pushed me to purchase the book.  I haven't seen many versions on the interwebs, which was slightly concerning to me, but I took on the challenge anyway.
The garment is made from two large semi-circles, which are hemmed and then gathered and sewn to an elastic waistband.  Simple, right? No.  As it turns out, it's super important to actually make the markings and follow the instructions, which I failed to do the first time.  Also, I attempted to attach the skirt to a self-waistband, which just wasn't strong enough for the weight of all that gathered jersey.  Big fails.
So, I took it apart, removing about 1/2" from the top edge in the process (not a bad thing) and remade it, this time with tailor tacks and the book propped open for easy reference.  I also bit the bullet and bought a wide elastic waistband.  But not just any old elastic.  This one is sparkly silver!
With the skirt properly made, I like it.  It is very comfy and unusual (in a good way, I think!), but I don't love it for a few reasons.  First off, it's heavy.  I should make the waistband smaller, because it gets a bit stretched in the sewing process, and then with the heavy, heavy skirt panels, it s-l-o-w-l-y slides down.  Second, there are two layers of gathers around the whole skirt, so it adds some not-needed bulk in a bad area.  This is a bamboo-lycra, so perhaps a lighter-weight fabric would solve some of those problems.
Finally, I have no idea what to wear with it!  I've paired it with a plain white tank here, but I wouldn't leave the house in this outfit (except if I went out with the ladies for drinking+dancing!). The book shows it with top no.4, but that's a whole lot of fabric.  I'm considering venturing into the realm of sequins to make some kind of tank top...but that's pretty low on my sewing queue.
After this foray into draped garment goodness, I purchased Drape Drape and Drape Drape 3.  I couldn't choose, and why should I!?  So exciting!  

2015 Resewlution, August garment #3

Sunday, August 09, 2015

Drape Drape 2: no. 4

After my first go with the Drape Drape patterns, I had to make another!  This top, garment no.4,  is another single-piece garment with asymmetrical sleeves and dramatic side drape.  Here's the pattern piece on the floor:
I went with the sizing on the chart (L/XL), but should have cut the S/M.  After sewing the garment and taking these photos, I made adjustments to the hem, sleeve length and side seam that exactly mimic what the smaller size would have been.  
How incredible are the stripes as they move around the garment?  I aimed to have exactly horizontal stripes across the chest, and the rest fell according to the pattern.  The fabric is a bamboo lycra from my local fabric shop.
I raised the neckline by about 2" and it is still a little lower than I'd like, but perfectly wearable.
Here's the extended image (above)--the sleeves are significantly different in construction, so they do feel a little weird while wearing it.  But overall, the top couldn't be much comfier!  
Again, I'm seriously impressed with these patterns.  The product feels really fashion-forward and dramatic, without a huge amount of effort.  And with some high-end silk knits, the look could be even more amazing!  
No pattern matching here!  

The petal skirt is next on the docket!

2015 Resewlution, August garment #2