Sunday, July 5, 2015

Tania Culottes: PASS

Hooray, my Tania Culottes are finally finished! I've taken them for a three-week test run before posting them the blog. Because I'm thorough. The fact I've been reading Y the Last Man is purely coincidental. 

There is plenty of good advice to be found about this pattern, which was released in 2013. Warnings about how short these run abound. I cut a size small based on my measurements, but extended to the XL hem line. Even so, these are juuuust barely long enough to wear to my casual workplace. And there have been some near Marilyn moments when the breeze picks up...

What's lovely about these culottes is that they are impossible to tell apart from a full skirt. That is, until I can sit down on the ground cross-legged without flashing anyone. So happy for that.

I made these up from estate sale mystery yardage. I suspect it's polyester, perhaps intended for thin curtains. The drape is lovely, but the hand doesn't quite feel like other apparel fabric I've used and it wrinkles like crazy. Still, it's very pleasantly swishy to wear and the busy print distracts from the need for pressing at the end of the day.

If I make these again, I'll compare the crotch line to my jeans so I can get a better fit. It's a bit snug. Also, I'll take better care when installing the zipper. Mine looks pretty shabby. Fortunately, I usually wear a shirt over top. Specifically, this navy Renfrew. Maybe I need to make up one in coral? I'll get right on that. Right after I finish those last two volumes of Y the Last Man...

Sunday, June 14, 2015

First Edition Morocco Pants: PASS

When Celina of petit à petit and family put a call out for pattern testers for her Morocco Tuxedo Pant & Shorts, I couldn't resist. (Even though it was right before a long-distance vacation and I still hadn't made a successful pair of underwear, let alone the cute pair of Tania culottes I imagined wearing on our trip.)

Have you ever helped test a pattern? I had no idea what to expect and enjoyed both the actual testing and observing the way it was organized. Celina used an online survey to collect the measurements of the children we were sewing for and our sewing preferences. (There are so many variations included in the pattern!) Then she assigned each of us a size and view to sew and set up a private Facebook group for our discussion and to distribute the pattern. As we worked, we asked Celina for clarification on pattern instructions, discussed the construction process, provided each other with suggestions and support, recorded pattern errors, and uploaded photos of our progress. It was exciting to work on a project with all these avid sewers I had never met. Meeting the deadline was challenging, but it was rewarding to be work with others toward a common goal.

Though I love the pattern design and the color scheme my son chose, it took some last minute alterations to make these pants a useable garment. My kid's hips are two sizes smaller than his inseam calls for. Celina recommended making the size that matched his hips, leaving out the rear darts to make the waist larger and adding length in the legs by slashing and spreading at the knee. Though my son likes to wear his pants low, these are about two inches too low. The waist was also seriously gapping. (Made me wish I had taken the option to add button elastic to the back waistband.) And though I loved the look of the legs, my kid said these were way too long. (Celina has redrafted the waistband for the final pattern, but I will probably sew a larger size next time.)

Side view before alterations.
I couldn't raise the waist at this point, but I could address the gap. I pinched out a massive dart in the center back and sewed it shut. (No, I didn't remove the waistband first. That is the kind of detail I wasn't ready to commit to right before vacation. :) ) It was so sad to cut off the hem facing I had so painstakingly constructed. I didn't reattach it, deciding to fold up a simple hem instead.

I would have loved to use a hook and eye closure, but my son really wanted a button. Here's a shot before we added it. Maybe it's better with a button, so as to direct attention away from my wobbly waistband.

Let me tell you, participating in the pattern testing process has given me an even greater respect for designers. There are so many details to attend to! And technical writing is no joke. How one person explains a process may or may not make sense to another. And did you know there are several ways in English to describe cutting a mirror image (or reverse, opposite, flipped, etc.) of a pattern piece? Linguistically fascinating, but what a headache to sort out. Mad props to Celina and all those pattern designers out there. You've got brains of steel. (Is that a thing? Let's make it a thing!)

Morocco pants in action.
But back to the pants. My son loves the finished product. And now that the pattern has been updated for the release (and on sale for 20% off right now!), he calls his version "first edition." He thinks we might be able to sell them for a high price, à la Pokémon cards. I told him probably not, but that I was glad he had a pair of pants to wear on our vacation that wasn't threadbare.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Purple Pants: PASS

These purple Style Arc Elle pants put a smile on my face every time I wear them. This photo doesn't do the color justice. It's like wearing a bright purple crayon. How can that not make you smile?

Not sure my smile would last if I saw myself from behind. Eeesh, those wrinkles are intense! 

These are made up in a cheap stretch twill with surprisingly good recovery and are comfortable to wear. The only annoyance is that the leg openings tend to ride up my calves. I slide my pant legs down with each foot from time to time (unconscious muscle memory from junior high). Maybe next time I need to make the calves a bit larger. Could be I need a size up all around, as the seams are strained everywhere. Not sure anyone but me notices, so I keep on smiling and putting these on.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Basic Undies: FAIL

With Me-Made-May'15 coming up, it's time to take the pledge.
I, Vanessa of, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '15. I endeavor to wear me-made items each day for the duration of May 2015. I will also make a wearable pair of underwear by the end of the month.
That's right. A wearable pair. Unlike my last attempt. And definitely not these latest pairs.

Jalie has produced a beautifully drafted pattern with a great fit. A great fit, that is, if you apply the elastic correctly. My first pair was terribly tight in the legs from over stretching the elastic. The second pair is coming apart at the waist from popped seams. Time to visit the Internet for tutorials. I clearly don't know what I'm doing!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Purple Stripe Raglan: PASS

The idea of wearing this soft purple stripe knit as a cozy shirt has been kicking around my head for at least a year. Enter the Lane Raglan pattern from Hey June to finally get the job done.

The Lane Raglan is a sewing community favorite and I can see why. It's quick to sew and comes with fun variations to play with: hood, thumb-hole sleeves, tiny pocket. (Though I chose the basic model here. Matching stripes was fun enough.)

The pattern sizing is based on finished garment measurements. Somehow I missed the instructions to use a size with no bust ease for stretchy knits. I selected a size bigger than my bust and hip measurements and spent an hour pinning out the excess and re-serging the seams.

The resulting neckline is higher than intended, with some bunching at the back. But at least I don't look like I'm wearing a sack anymore!

One thing I wonder about is stabilizing the seams. Are these going to stretch out? Should I be using twill tape or stay tape as I would in the shoulder seams of a standard knit shirt? If you have knowledge or opinions, please share!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Holy Grail Jeans: PASS

Jeans are my holy grail of sewing. Seriously, is there anything more difficult to shop for and more intimidating to sew? (Well, besides bridal gowns, swimsuits, bras, and couture jackets?) It's taken years to work up the courage to even attempt this project and five months of planning, shopping, studying, and (finally) sewing to reach the end goal. I'll go into more detail below, but the basic idea is HOLY SHIT, I MADE JEANS!

I originally intended to use the ever popular Jalie jeans pattern, but fitting jeans on my own was too terrifying. Fortunately for me, American Sewing Expo was offering an all-day jeans fitting class with Jennifer Stern. WORTH ITS WEIGHT IN GOLD! I left with a perfectly fitted muslin and an altered paper pattern. I had never felt so good in a pair of pants. Ever.

I kept the boot cut leg, but opted to raise the waistline to just under my natural waist. Fit adjustments were shifting the crotch back, taking in some length from the back side, drafting a bias waistband, taking in the yoke, and adding room for my killer thighs. I decided to add a zipper pocket to protect my phone from crashes to the bathroom floor.

The denim is a non-stretch variety from Mood (bought in person!). I used scraps from my son's button down shirt for the pockets and pink thread in the serger. They match the zipper pocket, though no one knows but me (and now you).

Even after I had a perfectly fitted muslin and top notch materials, I was still too nervous to make the jeans. So I bought Angela Wolf's Sewing Designer Jeans class on Craftsy. ALSO WORTH ITS WEIGHT IN GOLD! She slowly and methodically walks through every part of the construction process. Her techniques were simpler and quicker than the ones in the pattern instructions. And her tips for topstitching and distressing were absolutely essential.

I've worn these jeans every day since I finished. The denim stretches a bit with wear, making the back yoke puff away from my body and the waist slide down. The back pockets, which are lined in cotton for durability (and that zipper), are stiff and so flatten out my bum instead of following its curve. Small issues that don't get in the way of me wearing the final product. Because HOLY SHIT, I MADE JEANS!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Another Navy Renfrew: PASS

Here's the Renfrew (again!) in navy (again!). But this time instead of a sweatshirt,  I made a layering tee.

The fabric is the same as the top layer of my reverse applique Plantain. I thought it was too thin to wear on its own. In fact, today's shirt was originally intended to wear underneath a sleeveless dress at a winter event. (I didn't finish it on time, so wore yet another Renfrew instead.) It has elbow length sleeves and a bottom band that's 1.5 times as wide as the one called for in the pattern. Rushing through the construction process left me with some bumps at the shoulder, but I just finger press them down and forget about them.

This shirt works great as a layering piece or on it's own. Maybe it's the poor lighting of winter, making everything seem more opaque. Or maybe I've been blissfully unaware of showing everyone my belly button and bra.