Sunday, October 19, 2014

Bright Blue Parsley Pants: PASS


I've been sewing bags and fabric shopping instead of making my kid pants. Nothing like a sudden temperature drop to make those gaping holes at the knees a priority. (Seriously, even the patches on all his pants had holes!)

Though there are many cute patterns to try, I'm sticking with Made by Rae's Parsley Pants. I love them. My kid loves them. And they go up to size 10.

As always, my kid chose the fabric and top stitching thread. It's a good way to make sure the pants will get worn. And he can't blame me later for dressing him funny.

My kid is slim, but his measurements were close to the size 8 so I didn't adjust the pattern. The fit is much too baggy. These pants look like scrubs with bright red topstitching. (Unnoticed by him, making this a PASS.) Next time, I'll make the pattern narrower, adjusting at the pintuck line.

I used Rae's super seams tutorial to make these pants good and strong. So even if the knees blow out, those crotch and leg seams will stay together!




Monday, October 6, 2014

Bionic Gear Bag: PASS


This adorable little bag has a big surprise...


A HUGE INTERIOR FULL OF POCKETS! I spend a long time at the beginning of a sewing meetup or class locating my materials and the rest of the session trying not to lose them. Enter The Bionic Gear Bag by RipStitcher.

This pattern includes four zipper pockets, generous space in between, and a huge stable work area (aka "The Box") at the front for keeping track of things you set down. You can also download instructions for a fabric pouch that snaps in place to create temporary upright storage for seam rippers, etc.

Seriously, go check out this video of all you can fit in this bag.

The instructions are written in a chatty tutorial style and provide many helpful construction tips. There were times when I could have used more explicit instruction (e.g., cut the side panels as mirror images, make sure the bottom zipper stop is within the 1/4 inch seam allowance), and the photos end about 2/3 of the way through. That said, this would still be a fine project for an advanced beginner.

I used some of my favorite stash/scrap fabrics and zippers for this project and it makes me happy to look at them. Another surprise benefit!




Sunday, September 14, 2014

Yoga Mat Bag: PASS


I've taken several yoga classes over the years, but always at studios where mats were provided. Naturally, I hadn't considered the logistics of carrying a yoga mat in a thunderstorm. As I trekked to my workplace yoga class across campus last week in the pouring rain, struggling to keep my mat dry and upright in a backpack covered with a plastic bag, I thought, "There's got to be a better way!"

Enter the Sewaholic yoga mat tutorial, duck canvas and strapping from my stash, and Scotchguard Fabric and Upholstery Protector. Caroline's tutorial is very easy to follow, with detailed instructions and lots of photos. It took me just an evening to put together.



My only changes were using ready-made strapping and adding a key loop to the pocket. If I were making this again I would remember to add the key loop before I attached the pocket and sew it in the seam instead of attaching it to the flap. I might also plan ahead and treat the fabric with Scotchguard before cutting out the pattern pieces instead of after the bag was assembled.

But then, if I were 100% awesome at planning ahead, I would have made this project before the start of the session!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Polly Drop Waist Maxi Dress: PASS



Last spring I acquired a beautiful Hawaiian floral print that flows like a waterfall and feels absolutely delightful. On an impulse, I also picked up this sheer polyester border print that is itchy and sweaty when you hold it close. Apparently, I bought it so I could try out a maxi dress pattern before cutting into my cherished Hawaiian print.

My original plan was to extend the Polly Top to the floor, but I lost my nerve once I laid out the pattern pieces. I just wasn't sure I'd wear a column shaped dress without more shaping. I set my (enormous!) pattern pieces aside and started to improvise.

Since the print runs along the selvedge, I turned the yardage sideways. Then I measured up from the floor to my waist, added a few inches, marked the fabric, and cut. I made a deep hem at the bottom, folded the piece in half, and sewed up one side.

I cut the Polly Top out of the remaining fabric. It wasn't enough for a full-length top, but that was fine. I assembled the top as usual, omitting the hem and leaving the finishing for last.

Now I had an assembled bodice and a big, rectangular skirt. The waist opening of the skirt was at least twice my waist measurement. The next step was to take in the skirt and attach it to the bodice. I tried gathering (by zigzag stitching over a piece of yarn, SO EASY), but it was a terrible look for my backside. Instead, I folded deep pleats and basted them in place. I slid on the bodice, pulled up the skirt, and marked the spot where the two should attach.

Either fashion is changing or I'm going through a phase, because I thought this drop waist look was pretty cool. I sewed the skirt and bodice together and pulled the assembled dress on over my head. And then scratched my head, because now the dress was too long. Huh?

Oh, well. I pinched the top of the shoulders to bring up the hem and neckline, marked with pins, and made new shoulder seams at the marks. Then I finished the neckline and armholes with bias tape and swished around the yard.



The fit is very, very loose. This is perfect for the material, leaves plenty of room for a slip, and makes me feel glam. However, it's not the most flattering look from the side and the length is comically difficult to maneuver on a bike.

Although I'll wear this dress for these last weeks of summer, a Polly Hawaiian print maxi is a no-go. I'll have to make a new plan for that fabric. Any suggestions?


Sunday, August 3, 2014

Reversible Polly Top: PASS



The summer heat and Oonapalooza arrived together in July. To celebrate, I sewed up the Polly Top from By Hand London. For those who missed it, Oonapalooza was the Sewcialsts theme last month. It called upon sewers to emulate Oona, one of the best sewing bloggers around, by trying something daring and fun.

Though the fabric is sedate, the Polly Top pattern is daring for me. The front contrast panel and lack of darts made me worried I would look like an overweight Care Bear. "Should I make a muslin?" I wondered. "heck, no!" said the Oona on my shoulder. "you've got mad stash. just cut into it and GO!"

I decided to go all out and make this top reversible, using the Polly dress tutorial for guidance. One side is gray linen, the other is gray cotton voile and a lovely cotton print from Pink Castle Fabrics. It came together fairly quickly, though I could use more practice sewing curves. I had to pick out the front seams more than once.

I'm pleased with this shirt, inside and out. The contrast panel doesn't look like a costume. There is enough shaping to avoid fitting like a tent. Like with most low cut shirts, I need to wear a close fitting camisole underneath if I don't want to flash my entire torso when I bend over. Which undermines the cooling properties of a loose top in natural fibers, but is better than wearing only high necklines.

Now that my top and Oonapalooza are finished, I'm not sure what to do next. I had planned to extend the Polly Top into a maxi, but think the fit might be too baggy on that scale. I asked the Oona on my shoulder about it, but she had already left to have cocktails and sew something fabulous.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Lace Renfrew and Renfrew Cami: PASS/FAIL



I fell in love with this stretch lace at Haberman Fabrics last spring, but didn't know what to do with it (other than drape it around myself, admiring all the pretty dots). Inspiration struck a year later when I saw a young woman on campus wearing a sweatshirt with lace inserts and elbow length sleeves. Eureka!

I had never sewn stretch lace before. Researching techniques and sewing test swatches were helpful steps to take before making up this Renfrew. I was surprised to find French seams were unnecessary. Trimming the seam allowance, pressing to one side, and topstitching looked very neat and was easier to accomplish.



The only problem with this shirt is that it's hard to determine the right and wrong sides with a quick glance. I met a dressmaker/designer at work one day. I could see her looking at the seams and didn't realize until afterward that my shirt was on inside out!

Once I had my lace shirt, thoughts turned to what to wear underneath. I like the look of a contrasting color, but also wanted a nude camisole for when I want to put the focus more on the lace. Out came the bolt of swimsuit lining from last year's trip to Montreal.


I cut a slightly deeper neckline and a dramatic scoop in the back, but you would never know from the final result. I clearly need more practice applying elastic! The neckline is gathered too high to wear with my lace shirt, so I wear this backwards and stuff the shoulders into place (repeatedly). How can anyone focus on the pretty lace when I'm fidgeting with my undershirt? Good thing I've got more swimsuit lining.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Drop Pocket Cardigan: PASS



If you spend your days in an office, you can appreciate my summer work wardrobe dilemma: dressing for my commute means I freeze once I get inside. Enter the fabulous Jalie 3248 drop pocket cardigan. This cardigan has everything: big pockets, simple design lines, and clever construction that hides all the raw edges. Plus, it doesn't wrinkle when you stow it in your bag.

I made this up with the last yardage of gray mystery knit from Fabric Warehouse (as seen in these leggings and this skirt) and ponte from JoAnn's. (OMG PONTE IS THE BEST! I think everyone who reads sewing blogs knew that already, but this was my first time working with this incredibly soft and easy to sew fabric.)

This cardigan hangs just beautifully. Plus, when you pair it with a matching pencil skirt it makes for a classy and comfortable suit.

I looked very profesh in this outfit when interviewing job candidates last week. No one on the hiring committee could tell I had a big ol' carrot stashed in my pocket until I ate it during our debrief meeting. Now that's good pattern design!