Sunday, April 13, 2014

Winter Leggings: PASS

It's been a couple decades since I wore leggings regularly. So I didn't know until the cold weather hit that spandex leggings would be no good for winter wear. I had to wear a pair of tights underneath, which defeats the purpose of leggings, no?

I finished this pair, in a heavy mystery knit fabric, just in time for the last few weeks of winter. They're a bit hot and itchy, and you can see the fabric recovery isn't stellar. But, hey, gray leggings!

This time around I wanted a smaller waistband and so applied the elastic directly to the top of the leggings, as suggested in the Cal Patch tutorial. Sewing casings is the worst. This method is awesome.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

FAIL: Incredible Growing Renfrew Top

I've had my eye on the Renfrew top from Sewaholic Patterns for a good long while. Renfrew is the Swiss Army Knife of patterns. This fitted knit top comes with three sleeve variations, three neckline variations, and is easy to modify into a dress or cardigan. (I'm pretty sure there is a toothpick in there, too, if you can figure out how to open it.) There are a bajillion lovely Renfrew examples out there. Go ahead, take a look and come back.

My mom sent me this pattern for my birthday. In older-not-wiser fashion, I made the same silly mistakes I've been repeating for years:
  • Picking the wrong fabric. Though it seemed fine when I tested a swatch,  this baby rib knit stretched like silly putty as I handled it, growing with every seam. My finished shirt does not offer the close fit that I would have gotten in a less stretchy material.
  • Not paying attention when applying the neckband. It was only after I'd serged the neckband into place and topstitched (!) that I discovered it was too long. Removing it stretched the neckline beyond saving.
I've gotten some helpful advice on (lurker no more!) on how I might salvage this shirt by applying stay tape to the back neckband. If I can keep the neckline from stretching, I might be able to wear this shirt out of the house without having to stand perfectly still so it doesn't droop off my shoulder. Of course, in the time it takes to fix, I could sew another...maybe even two.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Fleece Baby Blanket: PASS

One of my friends is decorating her baby's nursery in a space theme. Awesome, right? But in all the space prints she found that featured little kids, the kids were ALWAYS boys. Decidedly not awesome. 

Well, this print doesn't feature little kids, but it does have some fun looking rockets. It comes from the mighty stash, circa 2006 when I made a blanket for my own baby. It's got a black and white print to stimulate little minds on the other side and big knots around the edges for chewing.

I feel like a cheater even posting this project. Not only was there no sewing, but the pieces were stacked right sides out and folded together in my stash, ready to be made into a blanket as soon they emerged from cryostasis. Using the massive cutting table at Pink Castle Fabrics during the Sew Ann Arbor monthly meetup made this project even easier. (I was only moderately embarrassed to be working on such a simple project in the presence of such talented sewers...)

To make your own blanket, start with whatever size of fleece you want. Stack one piece on top of the other (right sides out). Cut out a 6"x6" square from each corner, then cut six inch slits around the sides, spacing them two inches apart. Tie the fringe pieces together twice. And that's it. Your baby blanket is ready for liftoff!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Reverse Applique Plantain: PASS

I'm usually too distracted by new projects to sew a pattern twice in a row. So it's with much self congratulations that I present version two of the Deer & Doe Plantain t-shirt. When I saw The Crafty Kitty's brilliant Mockingjay reverse applique Plantain, I had to make my own. I spent a week pondering a "put a bird on it" version, but scrapped that in favor of this star stencil from Alabama Chanin.

The outer fabric is a very lightweight knit of dubious quality (the dye stained my hands even after prewashing). The under fabric is from a sturdy logo t-shirt I've been storing for years with the express purpose of remaking it into something else. The two layers work beautifully together. This t-shirt is comfortable without being clingy and, more importantly, warm enough to wear without a sweater in this never. ending. winter.

I did a clean finish on the neckline and sleeves and left the bottom edges raw. My husband the artist says he likes this because the concentration of reverse applique near the unfinished hem makes it look like I deconstructed the shirt as I worked from top to bottom. To which I replied, "Yeah....that was an entirely intentional choice that carried out my artistic vision."

In my excitement to try a new surface decoration technique, I lost some of my basic sewing sense and forgot to stay stitch the neckline to prevent it from stretching out of shape. When I inserted the neckband, the neckline was abysmally droopy. I also forgot to try on the shirt before serging the neckband in place. Dumb. I spent an hour picking out the stitches, then shortened the band and tried again. It worked okay, though the neckline stretched out enough that this is a camisole-only shirt.

There are also some fit issues happening on the back of the shirt. Which is clear to me in this photo, but apparently not to my coworkers who all raved about the fit. So maybe it doesn't look bad when I'm moving around?

Despite these goofs, I think I'll be wearing this t-shirt regularly until spring. Don't look for another version anytime soon, though. I'm already cutting out pieces for a different project.

What about you, do you sew patterns twice in a row? And do you make similar versions, or alter the look each time?

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Gray Plantain T-Shirt: PASS

Not biking to work has made me cranky. This snow is lovely, but it has doubled my commute time and limited my work clothes options. The dearth of pants and long sleeve shirts in my wardrobe is not helping matters. But enough ranting. Let's talk about how awesome the Plantain t-shirt pattern is and how generous Deer and Doe is for offering it up for free.

I love this pattern. It's got a low neckline, lower than I usually wear, but the snug fit in the shoulders keeps the shirt in place when I move around. The subtle flared shape is flattering without adding too much swing to the hem. The bust is sized for a C cup, which means I can get away without a FBA (that's full bust adjustment) in this stretchy material.

And of course, there's the elbow patches!
My husband swears there are no drag lines when I'm not twisting around to show off elbow patches.
The patches are cut from pant legs in my denim scrap pile. I like the look of black on gray, but think I should have gone with a knit fabric. The denim is a lot heavier than the rest of the shirt and the frayed edges don't really match the smooth finish of the neckline and hem. Oh, well. Nothing I can't fix in version two.

Have you tried the Plantain pattern yet? And if not, why the heck not!?!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Send in the Clowns Jammie Pants: PASS

This summer my jammie pants wore out beyond all hope of repair. After months of procrastination, I'm finally back to lounging in comfort!

When I pulled out Simplicity 2823I shook my head. Former me had forgotten to record my pattern alterations. (You'd think unisex jammie pants wouldn't need any, but the amount of space between the crotch line and waist is immense). Instead of figuring it out again, I cut open my old pants and traced around them for the pattern. The original pattern has two pieces, a front and a back. Since the front and back pieces were already sewn together, I cut open only the inside seams. I now had just one pattern piece to trace instead of two. SCORE!

My original pants were too short, so my ankles were always cold. I goofed up the length again on this pair (I blame an off-grain print, but maybe it's my measuring skills), but was determined to fix it. Cue the GIANT CLOWN RUFFLES. 

These bad boys are seven-inch tall strips, folded in half and gathered. The double layer really keeps out the drafts. Plus I'm all set if I want to run off to join the circus.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

O Canada Birthday T-Shirt: PASS

My kid and I have started a tradition of a custom t-shirt for his birthday. The deal is simple: he designs, I sew. This year he chose red and white stripes with a Canadian flag and the number eight. My husband the artist convinced him that just the maple leaf element of the flag would suffice.

With this year's simple design (vs. the six or seven colors of years past), I could get smart about the process:

  • Bought big t-shirts half-off at the thrift store instead of trying to scrounge the bits I needed from my old t-shirt stash.
  • Made the stripes twice as wide as last year which so there were fewer strips to sew and hems to match.
  • Began my stripe cutting and sewing at the Southeast Michigan Crafty Meetup, where I could cut on a table instead of the floor and chat during the mindless part of the project.
The pattern is Rae's Flashback Skinny Tee, which I HIGHLY recommend if you sew for children. It includes detailed instructions as well as collar and cuff variations for when you're not using thrifted t-shirts.

Do you sew for other people? And if so, how much do you let them steer the design process? (I think when folks heard I was rolling with my kid's insistence that the stripes be actual strips of fabric instead of applique, they thought I was nuts...)