Monday, June 08, 2015

Outfit Along 2015: Swatching for Vianne

I originally thought I would use Knitpicks Comfy worsted for my Vianne sweater.  I swatched with some leftover Comfy yarn from a previous project and got stitches/inch gauge on my first try (woot!)

However, for either of the fabric options I'm thinking (blue flower gingham with the navy blue or the chambray), my preferred sweater color is navy.  A navy blue sweater would work with most of the clothes I wear on a regular basis.  Guess which color is not available for Knitpicks Comfy?

I tried to convince myself that I could use one of the blues available and be very happy with it, but realistically, I knew I would not be.  My next choice of yarn was Cascade 220 superwash.  I've used this yarn before and it's very nice to work with.  The only downside is that it's 100% wool and I was hoping to use a cotton blend for this sweater since it is a summer sweater.  I do think that a wool sweater will still get plenty of wear in the summer since it is often quite cool in the mornings and evenings here in the bay area.  And, of course a warm sweater is useful indoors this time of year since most public buildings seem to think that it's necessary to make their buildings resemble the arctic.

I'm already behind in the knitting portion of the outfit along (the sewing portion hasn't started yet), so I was determined to get my yarn ASAP and make a gauge swatch (or two) so that I could get started.  Fortunately, one of my LYSs, Uncommon Threads, had several skeins of Cascade 220 super wash in navy blue.  I would have hated driving around to every store in the area trying to find the yarn I wanted (especially since I was towing my daughter along with me.

Unfortunately, Cascade 220 super wash is a somewhat lighter weight yarn than Comfy and I didn't get stitch gauge or row gauge in size 8 or size 9 needles. I don't want to increase the needle size more than 9 because even with the size 9s I wasn't completely happy with the resulting fabric.  The stitch gauge isn't so much of a problem.  It's about 4.9 stitches/inch and it ought to be 4.75 st/in.  However, my bust measurement is 41" and the finished measurements nearest that are 37" and 41".  I wanted some negative ease but not 4" worth.  If I knit the 41" model with a somewhat tighter st/in, then the resulting garment should be slightly smaller than 41", giving me some negative ease.

The row gauge is a problem because of the lace pattern.  I need to do a bit more research and fiddling to see how I can make that work.  I'm confident I can do it, I just need to spend some time sorting it out.

Saturday, June 06, 2015

Colette Pastille: WTF

When last we spoke about my Pastille dress, I was doing a mommy-tummy adjustment on the skirt.  The plan was that if that went okay, I would then make one final muslin of the bodice that incorporated all of the changes, sew them together and make one last check for fit.

I made this skirt and tried it without the bodice:
The old, stand-on-a-stool-so-you-can-see-your-skirt-in-the-
bathroom-mirror trick.  I really need a full-length mirror
in the living room where my sewing machine lives.
As you can see, it looks pretty good.  The side seam looks straight although it might be a tiny bit forward right at the waist.

So, I attached bodice muslin 3 to it to see how it looked:

Please excuse whatever was on the bathroom mirror.
Toothpaste maybe?  I dunno, I live with a 3 year old, it
could be anything.
Also not bad.  Actually, pretty good!

At this point, I got really excited and made up the bodice in the same red fabric as the skirt and sewed them together.


First, I thought I would use bias tape for the neckline instead of a facing because facings annoy me and that was a hot mess that I won't be repeating.  But, I figured it was fine, because I didn't really care about this fabric so I could throw it all away if I wanted.  But then, I looked in the mirror and I got so disgusted, I couldn't even take a picture.  The bodice felt funny.  Maybe from the mess at the neckline?  I dunno.  Worse there were diagonal pull lines in the front skirt.  Ugh!

I tried it on again today and this time I took pictures in order to share the horror:
Ignore my hair, I hadn't gotten ready for the day, yet.

I spent a lot of time trying to stand in the mirror in a way
that most obscures the mess on the floor behind me.

It looked like maybe the bodice was pulling the skirt up in the front so I let out the bodice seam in the front.  I overcast the seam allowances together so it's essentially got a 1/4" seam at the waistline:

Better, but I don't get why the bodice is suddenly too short.  I need to take it apart and compare it to the previous bodice muslin and the pattern piece.  At any rate, it looks like I need to add half and inch to the front bodice and front skirt.

There's still some pooling and wrinkling of fabric in the upper back of the bodice while the lower back is now looking a bit too tight (maybe?).  I need to pinch out the excess at the top and maybe fix the swayback adjustment, I think.

Whatever it needs, it's going into time-out for awhile to think about what it's done while I work on the Outfit Along (Bad, bad, bad Pastille!  Mommy is not happy with you!).  I'll pull it out once I've finished the dress for the Outfit Along (so, the end of July?).

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Outfit Along

Lauren of Lladybird and Andi of Untangling Knots have organized an Outfit Along--a sew along and knit along combo so that you have a complete outfit by the end.  Sewing + knitting?  Yes, please!

While you are welcome to sew and knit any pattern you like, the official patterns for the Outfit Along are McCall's 6887 and Vianne (designed by Andi).  From the McCall's website:  "Lined dresses have princess seams, fitted bodice, skirt variations, and back zipper."

Lauren has already made view A in an adorable pineapple print and it looks fabulous on her.  I'm going to follow her example and make view A even though I suspect many people would say that 41 year olds should not be wearing dresses with cutout backs.  They'd probably also say that 41 year olds  are not supposed to go around in pigtails, either, and I do that all the time so screw convention.  You only live once and it's not my fault a sew along for a dress with a cute cutout back didn't come along when I was in my 20s and 30s.  Besides, that age-guesser thingie on Facebook said I look 34, so there!  

The outfit along officially started on June 1 but Ms. Lauren will be in Peru (lucky lady!) the beginning of June so no sewing posts until the 22nd.  That's alright because it will give me plenty of time to make a muslin of the bodice.  I'm probably going to need an FBA and I want to be sure there is good coverage of my bra in the back.  No swayback adjustment to the bodice though because that part of the back is missing--yay!

The official knitting pattern is Vianne, a short cardigan--the pattern can be purchased on Ravelry.  From the Ravelry description:
This cardigan features a fun set of mirrored lace panels that run along the front neckline and frame a large mesh panel on the back. The natural bias of the mesh stitch pattern causes the back neckline to dip down slightly and creates an attractive curve out at the waist. Vianne is knit using DK weight yarn at a loose gauge to create a lighter weight fabric and is worked seamlessly from the top down.
 I need to choose my yarn and get swatching but first I need to decide on the fabric for the dress (I'd rather try to match the yarn to the fabric than vice versa).  I have a few options.

Options 1 and 2:  Floral gingham/plaid with navy blue linen/cotton blend or with chambray:

Option 3:  Teal twill with white flowers:

I didn't want to try to match the print from 1 and 2 across the princess seams in the dress, so I thought I could use two different fabrics like the pattern suggests in view D.  The gingham would be front and center and then the navy blue or chambray on the sides.  The chambray would give it a nice casual feel to the dress while I feel like the navy blue would make it look slightly less casual.  Both would be good for everyday.

I love the color of the fabric in option 3, but I would be stuck trying to match the print across the princess seams again which I really, really (really!) don't want to have to do.  I was thinking if I used piping in the seams it would be less critical to pattern match?  Maybe?  Or am I fooling myself?

Right now, I'm leaning toward the flowered gingham + chambray.  I could even make Cate a cute dress to match!

Or maybe not.

For yarn, I would like to get a cotton blend since I'll be wearing it during the summer.  I'm considering Knitpicks Comfy Worsted.  I made a sweater for Cate with this yarn and I really liked how it worked up and it wore well.*  The pattern calls for a DK weight yarn, but I've found that Knitpicks yarn usually works up to a slightly lighter weight than advertised.  It may be simply that I prefer a denser knitted fabric than whoever decides these things at Knitpicks.  Whatever the reason, I suspect the weight of this yarn will go well with this pattern.  Actually, I still have a little yarn leftover from Cate's sweater, so I can do a test swatch with it to make sure I like the resulting fabric before buying the yarn.**

*Sadly, it was lost in a cab on the way to the airport last year.  Somebody left it in the cab (*cough*DH*cough*). I'm still mourning its loss.  

**I'll still have to do a swatch when the yarn arrives because the dye can affect the yarn slightly and I'm pretty sure I'm not going to make this in deep purple yarn.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Around and About the Internet

Some of my favorite blogs have a weekly post with links to interesting articles and inspiring projects.  I enjoy those posts because more often than not, I end up reading about things I wouldn't have found on my own.  So I figured I would start my own little weekly list of links to things I found while wandering around the internet.


I love genealogy and the everyday history of local areas.  In her recent The Way Sewing Used to Be post, Madalynne shares some vintage hooks and eyes from a Philadelphia source as well as a little history about the Philly fabric stores.


Laura Mae of Lilacs and Lace makes the loveliest frocks with the prettiest insides.  While I love nearly everything she makes I currently don't live the kind of life suited to most of her projects.  However, recently she's been working on some Alabama Chanin style separates that I might have to give a try.  Here latest work in progress is here.

Dear Lladybird Lauren, please stop making cute summer things.  I already have a To Make list that will keep me busy until sometime in January.


I've been wondering, would it be easier to draft a skirt sloper rather than fit a current pattern?  Or are both equally likely to drive one to drink?  I've scouted out a couple of tutorials that I may give a try:
  • Making a Pencil Skirt Sloper from So Sew Easy. The post covers drafting both front and back skirt slopers + darts.  I would call the skirt more of a straight skirt since I think of a pencil skirt as something that's more pegged at the bottom.
  • Drafting a Skirt Sloper from Simple Simon and Co.  Another pencil/straight skirt.  This post covers drafting the front and back slopers and talks about two ways to make darts:  drafting them from scratch or making a muslin without darts and trying it on to see how big the darts need to be.


Fit problem graphic from an old sewing textbook

Thursday, May 28, 2015

A sad day

After 15 years of service, my iron has decided to call it quits.  The auto-off is now permanently on.  Time to get rid of it before DH finds out and declares, "It's probably just a short in the electrical system," and, "I'm sure I can fix it," leading to months of a broken iron sitting around the apartment waiting for him to "take a look at it when there's time."

Monday, May 25, 2015

For Cate: (Non-) Ruffled Capri Pants

In addition to the two tops I made for Cate, I also made her two pairs of capri pants using the Ruffled Capris pattern from Sew Classic Clothes for Girls.  The pattern is for a pair of shorts or capris (depending on length) with two front slash  pockets, one ruffled back pocket and ruffles on the hems of the legs.  The waist has elastic in the back waistband but is flat in the front.  I decided to leave off the back pocket and the ruffles but I did include the front pockets.  The first pair was made from a remnant of the stretch denim I used to make my Miette skirt.  I made a size four thinking I could simply install a fairly tight waistband then loosen the elastic as she grew.  But, the pants were clearly too big in the waist and after fiddling with the waist for a stupid amount of time, I finally gave up and threaded the elastic through the entire waistband.  The next issue I had to deal with were the pockets.  They are slash pockets with a scalloped top with the option of functional or decorative buttons.  I didn't feel like dealing with buttonholes on the pockets and in any case, Cate has difficulty with buttons so if I wanted the pockets to be usable, they would have to remain unbuttoned.  I did plan on adding the buttons as a decoration, though.  However, the pockets gaped so much when she tried on the pants that I actually sewed on a button going through the pocket to help keep it closed.

Even with the buttons the pockets still gape a
little when the pants are on her

Pretend I ironed these before taking this
The second pair of pants I decided to leave off the front slash pockets and add patch pockets to the sides of the legs.  I also decided to to make a size 3 instead of size 4.  The pattern only comes in even sizes, but it wasn't difficult to draw lines halfway between sizes 2 and 4.  I used a remnant of some khaki cotton bottomweight fabric that I used to make a Ginger skirt that I never blogged about.  These pants went together much better and I even managed to make the waistband work with the elastic only in the back.  The pockets went on easily and overall look less baggy than the denim pair.  Alas, they are too short in the back and, were it not for her pull-ups (disposable training pants), she would have a serious case of plumber's butt every time she bent over.  It's really too bad, because she looks adorable in them when she's standing up and her top is covering the waist.  I wonder if I could add some sort of yoke in the back that actually looks intentional in order to give them a little more coverage?  Beyond the back waist issue, they pretty much just fit her exactly which means they won't fit at all after her next growth spurt.  So, it's back to the size 4, I think.  I suspect the reason the size four looked so baggy was due to the front pockets so I will leave them off again.  I like having the patch pockets on the sides of the legs because they are easy to access for her, so I will probably do that again.

Cate, Movie Star!
On both pairs of pants I sewed the waistband facing closed on the inside by stitching in the ditch on the outside of the pants.  I assembled the waistband, sewed the waistband seam, folded the facing to the inside, folded the bottom of the facing over about a quarter inch so that the raw edge would be enclosed, then sewed directly on top of the waistband seam from the front.  It's a little tricky because you have to pay close attention to your stitching so that you stay exactly on the seamline* on the outside of the garment while at the same time making sure that you are catching the waistband facing on the inside.  When I've sewn skirts that have a waistband (for myself) I've always topstitched to catch that waistband facing because it's easier.  But, I'm less picky about my sewing for Cate (whenever I start to obsess I remind myself it's for a 3 year old who will likely get stains all over it at some point), so I figured I would try the stitch in the ditch technique because it was less likely to bother me if it wasn't perfect.  That's one of the nice things about making such small clothes, it give you a chance to try new things in small amounts.

I'm definitely making more capris from this pattern (maybe even with ruffles, who knows?) and probably the shorts as well.  However, I've also purchased a shorts pattern from MADE with a ton of variations for design features, so I think I may try those next, although she's not likely to need shorts for awhile.  It's been unseasonably chilly here in the Bay area.

*The spellchecker in blogger keeps auto-correcting "seamline" to "seamen". Strange.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Outfit: Refrew + Miette

These two garments were actually finished some time in the not-so-distant past, but I was on a blogging sabbatical and never documented them.  The top is the ever-popular Renfrew from Sewaholic.  I've made four of these t-shirts, though I've only documented one other on the blog.  Two of them have gotten stains on them which led to them getting tossed but the other two get heavy use.  The fabric is a cotton/lycra knit from The Fabric Fairy.  The only modification I made to the pattern was to extend the front and back pieces and hem them rather than adding a waistband.  I didn't make a deep enough hem, however, and so it has a tendency to flip up.  Oh well.  Now I know better for next time.  And there will most certainly be a next time as I have recently purchased more knit fabric to make t-shirts for summer.

Not bad for my first attempt at matching

The skirt is the Miette wrap skirt from Tilly and the Buttons.  I had been hemming and hawing about getting this pattern (because I still have a good 20 other patterns I have yet to make up!), but finally went ahead and bought it.  The fabric is a stretch denim from Joanns.  I decided to leave off the pockets because I knew I would be tempted to stuff them full of things and end up with bulging pockets right on my belly.  According to the measurements, I needed to add just a little to the seams of the largest size to make sure it fit.  I wish I hadn't because even when I tie it as tight as it can possibly go, it's a bit loose on the waist, causing the front waist to slide down a bit while the back waist gets held up by my butt (if you look at the first picture, you can see that the waist dips down in the front).  Next time, I will make the largest size as is.  I'm of two minds about the bow.  On the one hand, I like being able to tie it closed.  On the other hand, I'm not real keen on having a giant bow at my waist when I'm trying to emphasize my hourglass-ish figure.  I think if I made it in a fabric with more drape, the bow wouldn't be as stiff and not so prominent.  Or, I could alter the pattern a little ala Handmade Jane who turned the ties into tabs that button on the waistband.

The pattern is very easy to sew with clear instructions and takes almost no time at all to make up.  There are no closures and the tie that goes around the back and comes to the front through the waistband (I hope that made sense) does so through a gap in the seam rather than, say, through a buttonhole.  There is a generous overlap of the two back pieces so you don't have to worry about flashing anyone, even when you're chasing your toddler outside on a windy day.  I definitely plan to make it again in another basic fabric so I can wear it with just about anything.