Thursday, April 28, 2016

Vintage-inspired linen sundress

If you're arriving here from Britex, welcome!

A couple of weeks ago, my family took a trip to Hawaii, which nicely coincided (with a slight extension of deadlines--thank you, Joie :) with my latest Britex project.  A lovely linen sundress was the obvious choice; after all, doesn't everyone sew new garments before going on vacation?!
The linen I chose for this project is fairly lightweight, though slightly more opaque than you'd expect, and therefore not requiring a lining in the skirt. Linens are always a bit shifty while cutting and sewing, so I had to take care not to distort the fabric.  Overall, I found the fabric very easy to sew and it was the perfect choice for this style.

For this dress, you really can't wear a bra, so for the bodice lining, I skipped my usual first choice for linings (Bemberg rayon) and went with a silk/ cotton lawn to keep it from feeling sticky in the humidity of summer.  
For the pattern, I selected the vintage-inspired Siren Sundress by Decades of Style.  The dress has a faux-wrap front bodice, with secured wrap skirt in the back.  However, the highlight of the design is the cross-wrapping straps that wrap around the waist to tie in the back.  Lots of wrapping going on in this dress!  While it takes a while to get it on (with the aid of a mirror or significant other to keep the straps flat), once "assembled", it is comfortable and secure.  

The wrap around the waist is really flattering!  And the back is so pretty and unusual!

Even though it seems as though you can wrap and adjust straps to make it fit, I would highly recommend making a muslin first.  The waist wrap is fixed, and the seam at the shoulders should sit on your shoulder line, so after making a muslin it was clear I had to make some significant petite adjustments to the pattern. First, I trimmed the hem by about 6". Second, I had to shorten the bodice so the waist seam would sit at my natural waistline.   Tomorrow I'll post a quick tutorial for shortening a wrap-style top (or head over to Britex).
Aside from my pattern adjustments, the sundress was a pretty quick sew.  I can envision it in a number of lightweight fabrics, such as a linen stripe or print, or a fairly opaque cotton lawn.  Very fun for a summer barbecue, or with the right fabric, an evening cocktail party in the depths of summer!

Mahalo to Britex for providing the fabulous linen fabric and our amazing hosts in Haleiwa** for allowing me to take photos in their yard!  

** By the way, if you are looking for the best rental in all of Oahu (in our humble opinion) you can do no better than this cottage on the North Shore.  Just my plug for a great place; I wasn't asked to saying something nice :)

Friday, April 22, 2016

Handful of Haydens (and a fix to a fit problem)

In all honesty and seriousness, it was the Hayden pattern this month that convinced me to finally subscribe to Seamwork.   Mostly, I just I love the idea of a woven t-shirt with style lines.

If you plan to make this top, you really MUST make a muslin.  Seriously, I can't stress this enough.  I raced right into the project, using the last of some precious fabric, and the fit was a disaster.  I cut the pattern in a straight size 0.  The waist and hips fit fine, but the top was tight across the upper chest. When I moved around at all, the top would bunch up above my bust. This is particularly weird since I am decidedly NOT well-endowed in the bust department!  On me, the shoulder width across both the front and back was way too small.  It looked like I was wearing a child's top:
Too tight across the upper chest.  
Simply sizing up wouldn't have made much of a difference, so I altered the Shirt Back and Side Front pattern pieces by increasing the width by about 1/2" in the upper chest and back arm scythe.  I also dropped and widened the neckline by about 1/2".  I hashmarked the parts I added.

My second version, made of striped chambray fabric, fit perfectly!
The shoulder seams fall at the right point, and it doesn't pull over the upper chest.  And when I move around, the whole shirt doesn't creep up.

I only had one yard of fabric, so I had to be creative in cutting out the fabric.  Happy result: the subtle and amazing chevron effect on the front band.
Both front and back are cut on the folded bias, so any stripes or print will be diagonal there.  Best to approach with caution and intention!
The button and loop are made with self-fabric, but I used a bias strip made from the stripey fabric of my failed top.

I was so excited by the result, I sewed up another the very next day! This time, I used a Cotton + Steel double gauze, and I like this version EVEN BETTER!  (And it plays nicely with my Birdie shorts!)
The top is so soft, and I can imagine it will be amazingly comfortable when it gets hot and steamy this summer.

Even more so than with the chambray version, the bias cut bottom panel flares out a teeny bit, which I like.  I took all the necessary precautions to avoid stretching the bias panel with this fabric, and it's a good thing I did.

I used self fabric for the button, loop and bias tape for the neckline.  Man, I {heart} covered buttons.
All in all, I am really pleased with this top.  The fit issues were resolved easily, and the resulting top is amazingly wearable.  This style fills a huge gaping hole in my wardrobe, which is what to wear with shorts.  If my queue wasn't already enormous, I would buy fabric and sew a ton of these...but all in double gauze.
My "very happy" face :)

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Striped Bowline sweater

After making a couple of fancy Linden sweaters (here, here, and here), I wasn't ready to give up my comfy sweatshirt-analogs when the warm weather hit.  Papercut's Bowline sweater was such an unusual design, I couldn't resist!
As an aside, if you haven't ordered a printed PDF from Papercut, do it!  It takes a while to arrive to the US, but the packaging and presentation of the pattern is so worth the wait (and extra cost).
The style of the Bowline sweater is reminiscent of the Drape Drape styles, with a funky, fold-over neckline type of thing.  I'm not sure I assembled it perfectly (the dart is visible, and it seems like it should be more hidden), but it looks pretty interesting, regardless.
I went with the size XS, but I think the XXS would have been better (though it's very comfortable in the oversized fit!)  I did reduce the length of the sleeves by about an inch.
This photo, above, makes it look like I've draped my arm across my chest, but no!  It's in my back pocket :)
As it turns out, this top looks pretty good with my Birdie shorts and I may make a second version with some heather gray knit I've got in my stash.
We just spent a nice vacation in Hawaii; I took photos of my next Britex project there (to be posted on the 30th) and bought a bunch of fabric.  I tore through Fabric Mart and bought 5 lengths of Hawaiian print fabric in about 10 minutes.  I have only the most tentative plans for it all!

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Birdie shorts

Even in a world where "Birdie Sanders" is a thing, for me, the word "birdie" will always conjure up the feeling of sheer embarrassment I had during my (poor) performance of my one-line solo in the middle school production of "Bye Bye Birdie".  Isn't it funny that such a seemingly benign word can have terrible connotations for someone!  Unfortunately, there really isn't anything else to name these shorts--Audubon shorts?  Lab of O shorts?  (Any other Cornell alums out there? :)
Maybe there is a bit of the same embarrassment in these shorts as the name suggests to my heart.  I was super excited about this fabric (stretch cotton twill, from Mood), and this project got bumped to the top of the list because I was so in love with the idea of shorts with birds on them.  Now that I'm wearing them, I feel a little bit like I'm wearing the inside of a sleeping bag from the 70s.  Remember those woodland duck prints?  (Go ahead and Google "vintage coleman duck sleeping bag").  Hmm....
Aside from the questionable taste level, the fabric was amazing to sew and wear.  Stretch cotton is so lovely.  The pattern is the Maritime Shorts by Grainline.  Definitely a tried&true pattern for me after making the anchors away version last year.
I pattern-matched the birds only at the front pockets, above (where it was easy, in other words).
The only significant change I made this time around was to sew in some functional back welt pockets (using my tutorial, here).  The fabric seemed more refined, and therefore suited a more formal pocket in the back (yes, I'm still referring to fabric with birds on it--the substrate was refined, not the print!). All attempts to pattern-match the welts were utter failures, so I ended up just trying to avoid birds entirely for the visible welt.
Between the awesome sewing pattern and stretchy cotton fabric, these shorts are wonderfully comfortable and fairly flattering.  Now I have to find/make more tops to wear with them!

Saturday, April 02, 2016

50 shades of gray (topstitching)

And by 50, I mean 3...I was a lazy, lazy sewer and didn't change out my bobbin when I realized that it was not the same as my thread, and then when I ran out of the thread, I didn't have the same color--so yeah, three shades of gray thread were used and you can see ALL of them as topstitching in various locations.  I suck, but I've already worn the skirt so I clearly don't care too much about it!
I've used this pattern (vintage Butterick 4309) once before, and I wear that skirt quite frequently.  It is a bit heavier, so it can span 3 out of 4 seasons here in NorCal.  For this version, however, I wanted to make something more versatile, in a lighter weight fabric for the summer.  And after learning so much about fibers and fabrics in my current Fabric Analysis class at WVC, I ended up being wooed by a chambray Tencel (darn, sold out!) from Mood.  I've definitely never worked with Tencel before, and I don't do manufactured fibers very often, but this was a pretty easy-to-handle substrate.  It was a bit lighter than I expected, and not as wrinkle-resistant as this fabric is generally know for, but I think it makes a good wrap skirt. I can see some faint pilling on the inside already, so I don't know what to make of that.  I'm skeptical about manufactured fibers, so I'll be critically evaluating the longevity of this one for sure.
So on a normal day, this skirt would have taken 2 hours, tops, to sew, but I spent at least that long just adjusting the fit.  For a wrap skirt, that's just dumb!  The pockets weren't laying right, so I had to rip them out and redo them multiple times.  I'm not sure the pattern was drafted to account for the fact that the skirt will actually wrap around a body, so I'll make some adjustments in the future.
Oh, I also lost the waistband pattern piece, so I had to redraft.  I opted for a slightly narrower waistband for both stylistic and fabric conservation reasons.
I've got so many projects in the works, now that I'm done teaching for a while.   I'm excited to be able to spend more time at my machines, and I've got an actual spreadsheet of all the projects I have to complete.  Now if only I can stick to my proposed deadlines!

Katie of The Creative Counselor is planning a Back 2 Basics week in the second half of April.  This skirt is a workhorse-type of basic in my wardrobe, so I'm getting a bit of a jump on the it all!