3.09.2015

Deer & Doe Plantain T-shirt

I'm going to cut to the chase. I LOVE this top. The fit is great for me. The subtle feminine shaping makes me feel less schlumpy than most t-shirt patterns. In fact, as simple as it is, it may be my favorite thing I've sewn this year.

I will be making more of these. You have been warned!


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Look, ma! I made the stripes line up across the side seams!

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Oh yeah. This top rocks.

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Pattern Review is hosting a contest for projects made from their selection of top patterns from 2012-2014. Most of the patterns are *very* simple. This is one of the top patterns of 2014 and I do plan on entering this project, if only for the camaraderie. I'm having a hard time imagining a t-shirt being a winning entry, lol.

Here's my review:

1. Why do you think this was voted one of the Best Patterns?

The reasons why this top was voted one of the Best Patters are clear to me:

(a) It's FREE! Woo hoo!
(b) It's a t-shirt--a *very* important staple for most of us.
(c) It has a lovely, feminine shape, which makes it stand out from the crowd of other (free and not-so-free) t-shirt patterns.

2. Would you have made this pattern if it was NOT voted one of the top patterns of the year?

Yes, I had downloaded this pattern long before it was voted a top pattern.

3. How did you make your version of this pattern unique?

I selected a pretty print and made the somewhat subtle horizontal lines match across the side seams.

4. What size(s) did you make?

I made a 42. I did not make a single alteration...and it fits perfectly! Deer&Doe patterns are drafted for an hourglass figure and C-cup busts. Based on this, I could have added a smidge extra room for the bust area, but this knit was rather forgiving, so didn't feel the need.

5. Did you find the sizing accurate compared to the measurements listed on the pattern?

Yes. The pattern is drafted very nicely. In fact, I'm so impressed with it, I plan on trying out other patterns from this company.

6. What fabric and trims did you use? What was the source of your fabric and trims?

I used a soft and drapey single-knit from Girl Charlee fabrics.

7. Describe how you used the pattern instructions. Did you follow the instructions literally, did you figure out how to assemble on your own, or a combination of instructions plus own experience? 

The instructions are very basic. They do provide some useful information for beginners, but they don't hold your hand every step of the way. I have made many t-shirts over the years, so didn't need them, other than to refresh my memory about the size of the seam and hem allowances.


I used the coverstitch function on my serger to topstitch the hems and around the neckband. I believe a double-needle was suggested in the instructions, which is fine. I just prefer using my serger. The instructions did not have me topstitch around the neckband. I just like to do that because it keeps everything nicely in place.

8. Describe any alterations you made and discuss whether alternations were for fit or for design.

I only made one minor modification. I stitched the neckline facing at 1/2" instead of 5/8". It just looked a little bit better to me. 1/8" is something only a Type A personality would fuss over.

9. What did you like and what did you dislike about the pattern?

2015 PR Best Patterns of 2012-2014I'm not exaggerating when I say I like everything about this pattern. In fact, I like it much better than my old TNT t-shirt. It's more flattering on my figure.

Some people have commented that they feel the flared hem makes it look a little bit maternity. My figure flares out from top to bottom (Pear shape), so it doesn't feel anywhere near tent-like enough on *me* to make me feel like I'm wearing a maternity top. Someone with a more rectangular or inverted triangle figure might not feel the same way, however.
Love, love, love this top!

10. Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?

I will be sewing lots more of these! I can't recommend it highly enough.

3.04.2015

Do You Jig Too?

I just finished sewing Vogue 8710, a Katherine Tilton t-shirt design. It was fun to put together with its princess seams and pleated sleeves. However, I may have underestimated just how puffy those puffy sleeves are.

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It reminds me of an 80's prom dress.


Partly because of how bulky it makes me feel across my shoulders and partly because of the color, it also puts me in mind of the Stay Puff Marshmallow Man.


Ok, the sleeves aren't quite that puffy.

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It may not be all that bad, though. I think I'll just need to try wearing it with a few different bottoms to find a combination where the volume up top is balanced out by the volume on the bottom. A full skirt might be better than a pencil skirt.

The top is supposed to have a trapeze shape, but my pear shape negates that effect. I could have altered it to maintain the shape on me, but I was curious to see how it fit without any changes.  The answer: pretty darned good, except it was far too long on me. I chopped off 3-3/4" from the bottom. Perhaps if it were looser farther down, that extra length would have made it a nice tunic, but the snug fit on my lower half made me feel uncomfortable.

I was a little bit skeptical about the raw-edge neckline treatment when reading the instructions, but thought I'd give it a try.

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I actually like it quite a bit. It helps ameliorate the fussiness of the top.

Sadly, I wasn't able to take a good photo of my top-stitching. All that white on white was blinding. I used my serger's coverstitch function instead of a twin needle on my conventional machine. I generally get much better results with the serger. I don't have to fuss with tension, cry and swear a lot just to get rid of the tunneling between the parallel line of stitches (the fabric forms a ridge between the lines of stitching). With the serger, the fabric stays nice and flat.

The hard part, is getting the serger to travel over the bulky side seams without getting hung up. After many frustrating attempts on other garments, I realized that the solution was simple: use a jig. What is that you might ask?  A jig is a tool that helps guide the motion of another tool. A lot of sewing jigs look like this:


But a jig can be as simple as a piece of folded up cloth or a piece of cardboard, etc. What you do is sew up to the area where the foot would ordinarily have trouble moving over. Often times, this is a thick seam. Then, you put the needles down, raise the presser foot, put the jig under the presser foot behind the needle(s), lower the foot and sew over the tricky spot. I do this whenever I use the coverstitch and rely on it for topstitching jeans. I love jigs!



3.02.2015

Road Trip to Puyallup

On Saturday, my friends and I drove to Puyallup for the Sewing and Stitchery Expo. I had been hearing a lot about it from the internets and was really excited. An event dedicated to sewing? Count me in!

It's possible people's enthusiasm for the Expo had a lot more to do with the huge number of classes offered, but I didn't look at those very closely because my time was limited. Unfortunately, the marketplace was not inspiring to me at all. 99% of it consisted of quilting supplies--and not, "modern quilting," but rather more traditional piecework and applique--with a whole heckuva lot of machine embroidery. 

I don't mean to knock quilting. I can appreciate the artistry and skill that goes into making a nice quilt. I've made a few myself. But what was on display just wasn't to my taste and I really, really wanted to see more fashion sewing.

Luckily, I was there with some wonderful people. We had fun sorting through the bins at Vogue fabrics and even bought a few yards. We were awed by the gorgeous fabrics at Pendleton. But the best part of the day was bantering with my girls and eating strawberry shortcake in the cool spring sunshine.

Strawberry shortcake!

Girls, you rock. Thanks for a great day!

2.24.2015

Butterick 5559

In 2011, I made this Maggie London dress for myself and it quickly became a favorite, despite the color not being a shade I was overly fond of. I like brown, but generally favor a darker bittersweet chocolate shade...dark like espresso. This brown was just too chocolate milk for me.


What I loved about this dress was that it looked refined enough for wearing to work, but felt like a nightgown on. What's not to love about that? It was also fitted enough for layering. I often wear a cardigan or jacket over it.

Unfortunately, since 2011, I've gained some weight and could no longer squeeze into that dress :(

Solution: make another in my current size AND in a neutral I love:



I predict this is going to be a staple in my wardrobe.

I like how the pleats meet on the side:




I just wish I had taken out a little bit of length in the back, above the waist seam. But no big deal. I think those wrinkles are exaggerated a bit by my posture in this picture. 




And, I'll probably wear it with a topper during our chilly seasons anyway.


I sewed the denim jacket a few years ago as well. It's also one of my go-to pieces. Perhaps I should make another in a different color? When something works, it works!

9.09.2014

Peek-a-Boo Patterns Classic Sweatshirt

This is hands-down the most successful item I've sewn in a long while. How am I judging success? I'm judging it by the fact that I can't get my daughter to stop wearing this sweatshirt long enough to put it in the wash. She sleeps in the darned thing, lol.

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It's just the thing to wear when hanging out in the slightly cool fall weather.

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Or when trying to go incognito...

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I had to make one pattern alteration: the neck opening was too snug to get over the head easily. There is a note about this possibility in the instructions, but not a clear explanation of how to go about making the alteration. I just winged it. Essentially, I made a mark 1/2" lower than the center front of the neckline on my pattern and used a curved ruler to connect the new spot to the top edge of the front piece.  This, of course, made the hood's overlap slightly less, but I even think that's an improvement.

As with all of the Peek-a-Boo patterns I've purchased, the instructions are clear and each step is illustrated with a photo. The instructions didn't suggest this, but after examining my son's Gap hoodies, I decided to reinforce the shoulder seams with clear elastic. I also did some extra top stitching above the hem and the cuffs to control the seam allowance. I found this kind of top-stitching in a few store-bought sweatshirts I examined.

Speaking of top-stitching, I used a faux serger stitch on my Bernina to top-stitch the edge of the pockets and really like how it turned out.

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It nicely bound the edge on the interior. While I have a serger, I sometimes find the regular sewing machine easier to control when accuracy is needed. 


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Can I show off a little bit? Look! I matched the patterns!

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My one disappointment with this hoodie is the fabric. I bought the sweatshirt fleece from Girl Charlee. While other fleeces from the shop have been fantastic, this one pilled after its first trip through the wash. I don't expect it to look great for long. 

I had to search high and low for ribbing fabric that looked ok with the main fabric. It's hard to find!! I found some at a local shop--they carried more of it than many of the online shops I visited.

9.01.2014

Blog Hop

Recently my friend Sarah from Prairie Girl Knits asked to join in a Blog Hop. She and I met through the Outfit Along this summer, which was a lot of fun! You can read Sarah's Blog Hop Post here. Please take some time to visit her blog to see some of her marvelous creations. She has four boys who keep her on her toes, but somehow she manages to sew, knit and cook up a storm.
For this blog hop, we've each been given the same four questions. So here I go with mine! :)
1) What am I working on?
I usually sew and knit for myself, but have inexplicably become obsessed with the idea of making clothes for my kids. It didn't used to be a fun thing to do, since they are incredibly picky and have their own ideas about fashion. My skills have improved enough that I pass their picky screening most times and I'm enlisting them in choosing patterns and fabric, so they are actually excited about what I'm making for them, instead of feeling like they HAVE to placate me by wearing the garments once for photos and then stuffing them in the back of their closets to never be seen again.

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Currently on the sewing table are Peek-a-Boo Pattern hoodies for both of my children. I found some really lovely sweatshirt fleece at Girl Charee. My son's hoodie will be a brilliant red--it's one of his favorite colors. I picked out a royal blue fabric with heart-shaped peace signs for my daughter. She thinks they look like pretzels, but is ok  with the fabric regardless, lol.

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I've also been trying out jeans patterns for my daughter. The first one I tried was Peek-a-Boo Patterns Skinny Jeans. I should have known just by looking at the pattern pieces that it wasn't going to work for us, because the front is ridiculously low and there's no zipper in the fly. Ugh.

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I just traced off the Twiggy Jeans from Ottobre 6/2007 and the pattern looks far more promising. I also found some nice stretch twill in pink and aqua, which is thicker than the material I was using above. I'm confident the next pair will turn out much better.
I always have several knitting projects on the needles. Right now, I'm most focused on is a cowl by Joji Locatelli called To Infinity and Beyond. I'm using a sparkly blue fingering weight yarn I picked up at Stitches West this spring. I usually try to keep the ball band so I can tell people what brand the yarn is, but it seems to have gone missing. Still, whenever I pull out the project in public, it gets lots of comments. People, including me, are magpie and love sparkly things, lol.

To Infinity and Beyond Cowl

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I'm not a designer, so I really don't attempt to distinguish my work from others. However, I would say that I do try to infuse my personality into items by picking colors I like (usually deeply saturated jewel tones) and by focusing on little details like topstitching. I'm also incredibly picky (guess I know where the kids get that quality) and will rip and redo something until it's right.
3) Why do I create what I do?
Often times, my creations are sparked by a perceived need. For instance, I can't find jeans in stores that fit me the way I want them to, so I sew them.
Sometimes, I just like the way something looks and want to make it. I don't really need another scarf or cowl, but I like the way Joji Locatelli's To Infinity and Beyond cowl looks, so found some pretty yarn and started knitting away.
Sometimes, I feel the need to DO something and pick up something suitable. I take small knitting projects with me on trips, to the doctor's office and when I'd otherwise poke my eyes out from the boredom of sitting around doing nothing.
Sometimes, I get involved with creating things with and for my kids. My daughter loves beading, so I get out all the jewelry supplies and work on a necklace or earrings while she's making giant parakeets and penguins out of pony beads.

Finally, almost all of my projects are blessed with a little bit of cat hair.

Yaaaawn
4) How does my creative process work?
I don't always work the same way from start to finish. I'm occasionally inspired by something I see on the internet or while commuting back and forth from work. Most often, I find some material or yarn or ingredient that speaks to me and I spend a lot of time thinking about how it could best be put to use.
Passing the baton...
My very talented friend, Erin of http://hipchickknits.blogspot.com will be posting her answers to these questions on September 8. Please do visit her site to read all about her incredible projects and creative process. If you would also like to participate, please let me know!

8.01.2014

Outfit Along - Finished!

I didn't know if it was going to pull off finishing the Outfit Along until about 8:00 last night. I'm so glad I pushed myself to finish on time, because I got to join the parade of beautiful and creative outfits over at the Untangling Knots forum on Ravelry. It's exciting and inspiring!

Unfortunately, my photographic efforts left a lot to be desired this time around. I was struggling with exhaustion (brutal soccer game last night) and challenging lighting conditions. Here are the two pieces I made for the OAL:

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The sweater pattern is Marion by Andi Sutterland and the dress is Simplicity 1803. The dress qualifies for the Summer Stash Bust Along, since I used some cotton that had been languishing in my closet for a year or two now. I loved the colors and the large roses, but couldn't figure out what to do with it since it was transparent and prone to wrinkling. It dawned on me that lining it with cotton batiste might help and it did just that. The dress is nicely opaque, and while it does wrinkle a bit during wear, it's nowhere near as bad as it would have been without the batiste.

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Deer & Doe Plantain T-shirt

I'm going to cut to the chase. I LOVE this top. The fit is great for me. The subtle feminine shaping makes me feel less schlumpy than mo...