Monday, April 7, 2014

The Winter City Dress by PatternReview

I hope you haven't missed me too much in the last year. Some of you know that I've been working on my Master's Degree as a Educational Specialist so I can teach special ed. Well, I'm still not finished with classwork, but as a distraction I decided to pattern test PatternReview's newest pattern, the Winter Street Dress.

This newest dress pattern is a fairly simple dress, yet has lots of fashionable features. These include either a long sleeve, or a 3/4 length sleeve with an adorable ruffle. It has a scooped neckline and an above the waist seam line and box pleats in the front and back. The length hits just above the knee.


The best part of this pattern is that it can be yours in the amount of time it takes to order it and then download it. Of course you still have to tape it up and sew it, but that didn't take me long either.


The fabric I chose for my muslin is a jacquard knit from Fabric.com. It was sent to me on accident, and they didn't want me to return it. It's been in my stash for about 5 years. I didn't plan it, but I got the design to match pretty well at the waist seam.


This is the first one I made. Not knowing what size to use, I decided to just use the largest size, 4XL. The pattern has a really great size range, from XS to 4XL. I really wasn't in the mood to measure myself, but I should have. It was enormous on me. It's hard to tell in the photo, but I had to go back and sew every seam an inch larger to bring it down closer to my size. It's still too big, but I think this one is wearable.


During the testing phase of the pattern and before it was published, there wasn't a neck binding so I decided to wrap the edge of the neck with a contrasting fabric. It really wasn't a decision as much as something I did because I ran very short of fabric and couldn't even cut a narrow strip from what was left. 


After I got the sizing worked out, I made a second Winter City Dress. This time I picked a knit that I've had so long I can't remember buying it. I suspect it came from Michael Levine's Loft in downtown Los Angeles. It's a store where you have to dumpster dive for fabric, but it's sold for I think less than $3/pound. Unfortunately, all the great design features of this dress become lost in the print in the photograph.


For my second make of this dress, I went down two sizes and think I got a much better fit all around. You may notice that the neckline is lower than other versions you've seen of this dress, but that's an alteration I did. I cut the lowest neckline (XS) on the pattern sheet. I like an open neckline, yet it is still modest enough for me to wear to work, where I teach middle school kids. I also shortened the sleeves by two inches.


Another alteration I made was to do a sway back adjustment. To do this, I just cut a smaller size at the bodice waist seam at the center back and tapered back to my size at the sides. Too bad you can't see how perfectly placed the box pleats are to fit the skirt over my high hips. They really do my behind justice.


This time I decided to make a separate neckline binding piece. I really love the way this turned out. I am so thankful for my coverstitch machine. It helps to make this look very professional and to lay nice and flat against my chest.


One last bit I want to share about this pattern is that it has you sew clear elastic into the waist seam, which I think is a really great idea, except that clear elastic hates me. No, really it does. It never behaves. I looked through my elastic stash and found some fold over elastic. I have a local source for it so I didn't mind trying it. I basted it into the seam, then serged the seam, which cut some of it off. I think even though it's cut, it will really help to keep this seam stable.

I am so happy that I got to be one of the first to sew up the Winter City Dress. It's a great little pattern that's easy to sew and can really add some fashion into my wardrobe. I already have another one cut out and ready to stitch up. What are you waiting for?

This dress is currently on a blogland tour. If you haven't already checked these blogs to see their Winter City Dress, then please visit them soon.

sewingforward.com 4/10/2014
juliabobbin.com 4/15/2014

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Sunset Over the Sea


I've decided that I need to make time to do some sewing for myself. After losing weight this past summer, I gave away all my cute clothes that I've made. Now that I've gained it all back, I don't have anything to wear. I have been spending time shopping at the thrift stores so I'm not completely nakky, but I'm not dressing as cute as I used to. So, as I journey through weight loss again, I need to make some things to wear.


While searching through my fabric collection, I've found some pieces that will work together for a mini wardrobe SWAP (sewing with a plan). I'm calling it, "Sunset Over the Sea," based on the photo at the top of this blog post. My pieces will include a black and a white cardigan, three printed knit tops and two pair of pull-on pants. Each top will go with each pair of pants and the cardigans should go with everything as well.

I started with the pant fabric choices, which are eggplant and teal. It was a lot of fun shopping in my collection. I have so much fabric that I really won't need to buy more in my lifetime. Of course that would be ridiculous. However, I'm planning on shopping in San Francisco for the Patternreview meeting at the end of April, so I'm saving my money for shopping then.




These three knit prints are from Michael Levine's Loft, which I've mentioned before. I always find the greatest knits there. I remember Gigi Louis saying that good knits are hard to find, so you need to get them when you see them. This probably isn't true any longer, especially for me since I love so close to Los Angeles, but I still live by that idea. 

 

Burda 2569 is my TNT pull-on pants pattern. I've probably made it a dozen times or more. It's made for stretch fabrics, so every pair I've made from the pattern fit weather I'm up or down in my weight. I've also made pajama pants from the pattern with quilting cottons, but I add one inch at the side seams for a very comfortable fit. Unfortunately, the pattern is out of print, but you still might be able to find it on-line somewhere. The eggplant fabric I'm using for the pants is a Rayon/Poly/Lycra woven suiting fabric from JoAnn's and the teal fabric is a poly/cotton/lycra stretch twill from my local mill-end store. Both have just the right amount of stretch for my pattern. Luckily, I haven't lost this TNT pattern yet. I need a vault for all my TNT patterns. I still haven't given up hope for finding my TNT t-shirt pattern, although I have run out of places to look.


This is the pattern from my mini dress from my last blog post. I'm going to make the top with 3/4 length sleeves from the knit fabric with the colorful zigzag stripes. I think the print will be interesting with all the twist and gathers in the pattern.


I'm using this pattern with the straight hem for the knit fabric with the black background. It has a pretty large print and would benefit from a pattern with few seams. I will eliminate the center front seam and the sleeve tabs. It will be a quick and easy top to make since I've already made it once before and know it fit me large last time. Oh goodie, a pattern I won't have to enlarge.

 

For the last knit fabric, the one with the green, teal, and purple with a white background, I'm making this hotpatterns top with the short sleeves. I've made the pattern before and really like it. The last time I made it I shortened the tie which makes it so much more wearable. This top will look good with either the black or white cardigan.

Because one my tops has dolman sleeves, I decided that I needed to have one of my cardigans with dolman sleeves as well. I'm making the drape front cardigan from a black rayon/lycra jersey that has lots of drape. It's not very heavy and won't be warm, but it will help give my new wardrobe some polish. I should be able to wear this item with each of the tops.


The other cardigan I'm making will be the jacket from this pattern. It's a raglan sleeve shirt style with no closure. While knit isn't one of the suggested fabrics, I will be using the heavy white cotton lycra knit. I will be adding a FBA rotated into gathers in the raglan sleeve seam. I think the fabric will be soft enough to handle the bulk of the gathers. The knit will also make this jacket easy to fit, especially since it has a pleat in the back for more room to drape over my behind.

My plan is for these pieces to be quick and easy to make and fit without a lot of alterations. I hope they will be too big for my once spring is in full swing. Tomorrow I have a friend visiting after work, but by Friday, I should be able to get started cutting everything out. I expect to bang out a few items this weekend. I can hardly wait to have some cute, made by me, clothes to wear next week.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Stuff I Didn't Blog About in 2012

While I wasn't blogging in 2012, I was doing a few things that was certainly worth blogging about. I still want to share them, though. I hope you enjoy them.


In June, the last month I blogged, Patternreview.com was having their One Pattern, Many Looks contest. I needed some new tops, so I decided to enter using the now famous Rose Top from Ottobre Woman's Magazine. This was a fun contest because it really got my creative juices flowing. I made five tops, all different. While I like them all, my favorite is the black one with the white dots and buttons around the neckline. I did wind up winning this contest. I got a $75 gift certificate for Vogue Fabrics and their swatch subscription service for a year. I haven't spent the $$ yet, but I will my friends, I will.


If you've been reading my blog much, you know that my son, Steven, is in a summer theater production every year. This year they performed Willy Wonka and I got to design, pattern draft and sew up 21 Oompa Loompa costumes. This is only a few of them that marched in the 4th of July parade. Didn't they turn out cute? Actually, I had to make two sets of the cuffs and collars because after finding the thin striped brown and white fabric (pictured) and making the cuffs and collars, I found the wider stripe which showed up so much better on stage and I wound up making them all over again. That adds up to 84 cuffs plus extras for lost pieces, 84 socks, and 42 collars. My serger certainly got a workout this summer. July was spent on this project. My son is the one in the center with the glasses, just in case you were wondering.

 

While rehearsing in the theater, one of the directors decided that the geese that laid the golden eggs needed something on their heads. Could I come up with something quickly? Well, of course I can! Didn't they turn out cute.  Without the feather headpieces, they just looked like princesses. These two girls did a beautiful ballet scene and stole the whole show!

 

And because I can't help but brag, Steven not only played the part of an Oompa Looma, he was also cast as Pheneous Trout, the TV Reporter that interviewed all the children that won a golden ticket. He did a great job on this production. I'm so proud of him. This year's play will be A Spoonful of Supercalifragelisticexpialidocious, which is a Disney review of songs from the Sherman Brothers and will feature scenes from many Disney productions . They have asked me to be in charge of costumes this year, but I have declined. I don't need anything else added to my plate right now. I will probably participate in making costumes again, as well as being the back stage seamstress during performances, in case of wardrobe malfunctions. Auditions happen in a couple of weeks. I hope Steven gets another great part.


That covers June and July, but my biggest project to date is what I did in August. But first, let me take you back to The Ninja Girl costume of 2011. I swore I was just going to say no to any more projects like this. I'm a selfish sewist, which I freely admit. I hate it when something else takes away from my sewing for me time.


Then I got asked to sew the mascot for the school I sub at--for no pay. I really, really, really, really want them to hire me full-time after I get my credential. There is going to be a retirement and an open position and everything! So for the price of brownie points, I made this fursuit with a mascot head. It was made for someone about 75 pounds lighter than me, but I still think you get the idea from this photo of me in the costume.




I have never made anything like a fursuit head before. I don't know how we ever learned how to do anything before the invention of youtube. I watches a lot of videos, bought the supplies (they paid for those), and went to work. What I learned is that I have a really good sense of three dimensional objects. I think it comes from having a 3-D body that I have to fit when I sew. You can see that the first picture of the foam frame doesn't quite look like a panther yet. After making some changes, the second picture is very close to looking like I needed it to. The feet with the toes were super cute with fur and claws added.


 

I don't think it turned out half bad, especially not knowing what I was doing. I love the nose and teeth. I made them out of fimo and the whiskers are made from weed whacker cord. The eyes are made from buckram colored with sharpie markers and then rinsed to lighten the color and remove the odor. Also, I shaped the irises around an egg and let it dry into a round shape to give them the appearance of a real eye. You can really see through them too.

 

To complete the look, I made gloves with leather pads and claws glued to the ends of the fingers. Everyone loved it. It was a very big hit. I just hope I get the brownie points and they hire me. Keep your fingers crossed because I really, really, really, really want that job.

September through December was taken up with applying for and getting into Grad school and I began my classes. However, I took the time in November to enter one more Patternreview.com contest. I have become a dedicated thrift store shopper, so the Refashion Contest was perfect for me.


I found this ugly monk-like dress at the thrift store for under $4 and turned it into a really cute sweater dress. I love the way it turned out and wear it often. I didn't win this contest, but I did get 4th place. The prize was a good one too, so I'm sorry I didn't win. It was the Thread's Magazine Archive on DVD. Now I guess I'll have to buy it myself.

So there you have it, what I did with the second half of 2012. I didn't want you all to think I was a slacker.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Second Miracle of 2013

The first miracle of 2013 was that I blogged.  Technically my last blog was at 10:30 New Year's Eve, but for most of you it was already 2013. I got so many nice comments on that blog post that I wanted to blog again right away. Thank you for all your nice words of encouragement. It means so much to me. The second miracle is that I sewed something. Something wearable, in fact.


This is Simplicity 1716, which is described as a mini-dress, tunic and top. And mini it is! I shortened it two inches at the waist and gave it a two inch hem. It hits me at an awkward length. It's too short for a dress and too long for a tunic. I think it might work with leggings, but all I could find were tights. Don't worry though, I won't be going out in public with this in tights. It looks longer in the picture than it does in my mirror. I didn't get any pictures of it, but this looks really good with a brown cardi. The fabric is a soft poly lycra jersey that I got from Michael Levine's Loft for $2/pound. I love that store so if you are ever in the Los Angeles area, call me. We'll go shopping!


I was drawn to this pattern because of the interesting drape in the front. It's sort of a play on a twist top, but much more modest. I don't want to flash the middle-school boys, so I try to always cover myself up. I hope you can see the interesting neckline in this picture. I know the fabric print is quite busy, but click on the photo and it should magnify for you. The pattern cover photo shows a more rounded shape but they have those tucked in pieces arranged a bit differently than I do.
 

I made my tunic on my newest sewing machine. I've actually purchased two sewing machines since I last blogged regularly. However, I also sold one of my Singer 500a machines so the other one didn't count. At least that's my story and I'm sticking to it. This Bernina 930 Record machine was found in a thrift store. A long, long time ago I was without a sewing machine and my sister wasn't using her Bernina 930, so I talked her into letting me use it. After nearly two years, she wanted it back. Because of that, I knew exactly what this machine was when I saw the box on the shelf. I opened it up and was disappointed to see that it didn't have the accessories box or the extension table. The knee lift was the only thing in the box besides the machine, foot pedal, and cord. For the last week I stalked the employees at the store bugging them to find the parts for me. No luck. I didn't buy it the day I found it, but went back for it the next day after thinking about it all night. Good thing too because they were having a 30% off sale the next day. I'm not sure why it didn't get snatched up sooner.

I searched through my own stash of feet and found that I still had the buttonhole foot and the zipper foot from my Bernina 1230 that I no longer own. They fit perfectly. The machine was also missing the bobbin case, but I had an extra one of those too. It's a great machine, but to be honest, I like sewing on my Rocketeer better. Mostly because I can control the pressure foot pressure, so I'm debating with myself about selling this one. Even with the missing parts, I think I can ask five or six hundred dollars for it.


Here's a nice picture of a few of my other machines. I shared pictures of these before except for the red one in the bottom corner. It is my other newest machine. This one is a Viking 6570 and is a contemporary of the Bernina 930, but it came reconditioned and with all its parts. And it's RED! If you know anyone looking for a Bernina 930, let me know.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to you all. I have had quite the year in 2012. While I did quit blogging for awhile, I didn't stop thinking about blogging. However, there were lots of changes in my life. My son turned 18 and graduated from high school. Most of you know that he is a person with special needs, but has outgrown or developed ways to cope with most of his issues. I'm so proud of him! While he started college, I decided that it was time I went back to college as well.

I have been working as a substitute middle school teacher for the last 16 years, and now it's my time to get my credential. To that end, I started the Educational Specialist Mild Moderate Credential Program at University of LaVerne. I took three classes and tried to work one or two days a week. In a Master's program, three classes is beyond full-time. However, I really enjoyed being back at school and got two As and one A-. I'm not sure why I got the A- so I'm going to be asking about that when school opens back up next week. I know, I really should just let it go, but I worked my butt off and didn't think I lost any points. Anyway, I'm taking three classes again in the Spring semester and will try to work one or two days a week again. I'm so grateful that my husband feels that education is important enough to reduce my income for me to go to school full-time.

While all my sewing friends seem to be losing weight, I gained everything I lost early last year all back again. I wish I knew how to handle stress better. I wish my body handled carbs better too. However, I'm going to be working on finding a balance in my life where I can work, go to school, sew, exercise, and cook. Now if only my son would learn how to drive, that would take one thing off my plate. He has gotten very familiar with the bus schedule, so at least I can decline driving him if I need to.

In the next couple of weeks I am going to have to take a skills proficiency exam which is HUGE and I'm afraid of it. I am going to be cramming for this test a few hours each day, but I think I can squeeze in a couple of hours each day to sew as well. I got one garment cut out and I have some things already cut out. With that ugly task done, I should be able to have some sewing to share with you all this month. I'm hoping to blog 6-8 times a month. So I hope you come and visit me often.


This tunic is first on my list to sew. I cut it out in a brown and cream giant paisley print. I'm hoping it will camouflage my belly until I can get it back under control. I'm making the knot front with 3/4 sleeve length and mid thigh length. I plan to wear it with boots and leggings. My legs are my best feature on my body so I don't mind showing them off. I'm over the, "am I too young for this style?" way of thinking.

I'll be back just as soon as I get this tunic sewn and photographed. Meanwhile, I'm hoping that all of you visit me this year and come back often, and that your 2013 is your best year yet. Happy New Year to You!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Weekend Sewing

I'm dead tired and need to get to bed, but I just wanted to share what I got done this weekend. I know I was going to start on my dress, but I just had my bathroom painted 3 weeks ago and bought fabric for the window 2 weeks ago, so I decided to make them first.

 

Elizabeth Larsen came to Los Angeles during her Man Forgetting Tour of 2012 and I jumped on the opportunity to show her around. While in the Los Angeles garment district, I picked up this great paisley print at Michael Levine's hoping that the colors would work in my bathroom. Lucky for me they do.


I couldn't go to bed on Saturday until the curtains were hung. Then this morning I started Simplicity 2174. It's an amazing fit pattern, and has lots of opportunities to get the fit right. Obviously on my first try I didn't quite get it right. I cut this pattern out about a month ago and did a bunch of alterations based on a muslin of the bodice. In the fashion fabric, I had a fit that was too big. After several alterations and an almost altercation with the husband--he was wielding the pins--I think the fit looks pretty good now.



I don't look very lovely and the dress has lots more to go, like a hem, for instance, until it is completed. But it's starting to take shape.


I also basted together S2615 to see if it was going to be too big and would have to go to my sister. Nope, it looks like it's going to fit. Keep in mind this is just muslin fabric and may or may not be worn outside the house. Since there isn't much style to this dress, I think the fabric is what is going to make it or break it. I think I know just what it needs from the stash. I'll share tomorrow what I've decided upon.

There you go, my weekend of sewing. Looks like I'm going to be working most days this week, but I hope to get the first dress completed so I can get on to the next project.