Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Another CWC Knock-off Tutorial

Before I show you the new Coldwater Creek knock-off t-shirt I thought I'd show you these. They are pillowcases I made for my co-workers daughter. We just found out she has been diagnosed with Leukemia. It's very tragic especially since she is 12, a time when the only thing you want to do is be with your friends. Since she loves pink and horses, I went to JoAnn's to find appropriate flannel fabric. I found the light pink with unicorns dancing around. They aren't horses, but I don't she'll mind. I fell in love with the flower power print in lovely spring colors. I hope it brightens her hospital room since she will be there another two weeks.

Now for the top. I found this top on the Coldwater Creek site a few weeks ago and shared it with you all along with many others I wanted to try and make. I think mine looks just like the original and I couldn't be happier with the way it turned out.

Theirs was $49.50, but is currently on sale for $23.99 in their "Outlet" section of their site:

Mine cost me nothing and fit me so much better than the original would have. I had the fabric stashed and I drafted the pattern:

Here's how I did it. First I started with a t-shirt pattern that already fit me, KS 2900. After tracing the front with a shallow sort of rounded v-neck, I sliced into the pattern and added for the gathers. I thought about taking my slices to the bottom of the pattern, but decided I just wanted the extra fabric to be at the bust level or above. I didn't want to add too many gathers so I only added in two places. I think it looks just right.

For the collar and necktie, I had to decide how wide I wanted the neck ties and how much wider I needed for the collar fold-over. At the back neck my finished size is 3-1/2" and for the ties, mine are 2" finished. I added 1/4" seam allowances to the finished size. When I cut the pattern out, I forgot that I would need two neck ties, one was for a facing. Good thing I had plenty of extra fabric. For the t-shirt, you may notice that I used sleeves from the Woman's Ottobre Rose Top. They are gathered so I didn't have to worry (or measure) that they wouldn't fit into the armhole.

After sewing the tie to the facing, it looked like this:

The notched out edge is the part I attached to the neckline of my top after gathering the neck edge. I got lucky and made it the perfect length for my knit's stretch factor. Before I applied the neck tie, however, I had to make a slit at center front and bind it. The original had a rather large slit that would have shown much too much of me to my students. Instead, I made a very short slit, just enough to make room for my knot in the ties. You can see the excess binding for the slit in the picture below. After sewing the binding on, I clipped the binding even with the neck edge.

Here's a closeup of the gathers and the necktie. Didn't it turn out great, even if I do say so my self? It still needs to be hemmed. Then I'll take a picture of me wearing it and post it on Patternreview.com

Here's a closeup of theirs:
Here's a close-up of mine:

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

My Latest Projects

I was asked to do a tutorial on making the CWC top. You can see my pattern pieces here. To make the pattern I took my TNT t-shirt pattern and drafted a new neckline. First, I divided the shoulder width in half and decided how low I wanted the neckline to be. Then using these two reference points, I made a pleasing curved neckline. I see now that I made the neckline too scooped and so for the next one I'm going to take a dinner plate and push it up against the neckline and redraw this curve. I want it to be more rounded. I haven't done the redraft yet but you can see what I intend to do in this picture. In order to keep the center of the neckline from being peaked or shaped like a V, I need to make sure that for 1/2" from center front I have a 90 degree angle. That's just good patternmaking techniques.

In order to draft the neckband. I took a piece of my fabric on the cross grain and stretched it around my pattern neckline. Then I measured this amount. I hoped it would be about the right length for my fabric's stretch amount and it was. The neckband was 1-1/4" shorter than the neckline for my fabric. Your mileage may vary. In order for the neckedge of the band to snug against my body, I angled the shoulder edge. Since I gathered the shoulder edge, I made the angle steeper than the angle of the bodice shoulder. The shortening that the gathers did also change the angle of the cut edge. I wish I had taken a picture of the neckline edge before I sewed the top together. Sorry. I will on my next version.

To make the pleats on the neckband I had to mark the pleats. Well, my fabric was so dark I had to get creative on the marking. I decided to use tape. You can see on the left side of the picture below, (you may have to click onto the photo) the tape and the markings. I left a slit between the tape for my stitches. Then I pleated the fabric up and pinned it down. I was afraid the pins would cause problems under the pressure foot (center of photo below) so I decided to put tape on the pinned area and then remove the pins. That worked perfectly except then I had to sew over tape, which was what I was trying to avoid. On the left of the photo below you can see the pleats sewn and tape removed. These pleats are covered by the tabs on the neckline. The pleats are necessary to keep the neckband scrunches in place. I decided to gather the shoulder of the neckband instead of doing the pleats. I think it was just easier and didn't make any difference, IMHO.

For my fabric I used a dark brown moire textured poly knit. It has a slight sheen to it but not shiney. We all now know I won't do shiney. I learned my lesson. The texture of the knit gives it dark and light areas in the photo, but it doesn't look like that IRL.

The tabs were made by cutting a strip of straight grain fabric and serging it using the left edge of the pressure foot as my guide. If you make a long tail of serger stitches before you put the fabric under the foot, you can take that tail, put it inside the fold as you stitch and then just pull the tail. The tube will then turn itself inside out. I cut the tabs about 1 inch shorter than twice the width of the pleated area of the neckband. Oh, I forgot to say that I also folded over the edge of the neckband and just stitched with a straight stitch. It's not going to stretch much so I wasn't worried about breaking the stitching. I pinned the tabs at center front and the other two evenly spaced from the center right over the place where my pleats on the neckband were to be stitched to the neckedge.

Since this top is for fall and summer, I decided to give it 3/4 length sleeves. I find them a bit more flexible than long or short sleeves when it comes to the weather. Not that So. California really has any weather to speak of. I'm calling this top, garment #1 of my Endless Combinations Wardrobe. It's not one of the fabrics from my basket, but I think it will go just fine with everything that is in the basket. I'm very pleased with my interpretation of this CWC top.

As for the other Coldwater Creek garments I wanted to make, I have already drafted a pattern for this black tie-neck top and hope to get it made sometime this week. It will be a long sleeved version and I hope the neckline isn't too low for my 12 - 14 yo male students.

I also wanted to share my completed twin set. I think the top came out a bit more snug than I like. I have it all pulled down, but after wearing a bit the bust starts to show some straining. I think next time I make this twin set, I will take this neckline and put it on my TNT t-shirt pattern. I should have just done that in the first place, now that I think of it.

Does anyone else think my bra is giving me a really weird bust placement or maybe it's just how I'm being shaped? This is my only Wacol bra. I don't think I'll buy any more of these. Sorry, the picture had me distracted.

The fabric is the same poly moire textured knit as the CWC neckline t-shirt and you can see the texture in this picture. I just love the red color on me.

This twin set is going to go great with my black slacks just as soon as I feel I can face that pants pattern again.

New Coldwater Creek Inspired Top

I spent some more time at the Coldwater Creek website shopping for ideas and found this wonderful t-shirt with a great neckline. I know I have a list of other CWC tops that I want to copy but this one looked so easy to do.
I created the pattern from my TNT t-shirt pattern which is KS 2900. I've used this pattern to make several new designs from since I have the fit just the way I like it. As I gain or lose weight, I just add or remove from the hips. For this last version I had to add to the hips.

I'm very pleased with the way it turned out. I may have shaped the neckline a bit too scooped and next time I'll try it with a more rounded neckline. Other than that, I really like my interpretation.

My version of the original CWC t-shirt has a more raised neckline. Since I teach middle school, I need to be a bit modest so I didn't make mine quite as low. The original t-shirt costs $49.50. I already had the pattern and spend about 1 hour redrafting. I already had the fabric, but originally think it cost $2/yd. I also already had the thread and pattern ease for the pattern. So, since I already had everything in my stash, I say it didn't cost me a thing. If I do add the cost of the fabric it was about $3 for the top.

Later today I'll write the review for this top and for the red/black twin set. DH took my pictures before I went to the first meeting of my new ASG Neighborhood Group last night. There was such a great turnout for the meeting. The store was closed when I arrived and I was very upset by the time one of the ladies found the owner's phone number and called him. He arrived and everything went great from there. We had 16 ladies including me in attendance. Everyone was very excited about learning how to fit patterns and several were very interested in learning how to redraft patterns changing the style lines for new garments without having to refit every time. Next month I'll be teaching bust alterations. It's all so very exciting.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Muslin Number Five

I'm really liking how muslin #5 turned out. I think that once I add just a smidgen to the side seams so that my large round belly isn't quite so outlined, I'm really going to love this pattern. The legs are hanging much better in the front and back.

While I know I don't have the most attractive back end, I do like my pants to fit me well there. I've now successfully removed all the extra fabric that most pants patterns have on me. The legs hang reasonably well too. Next I have to redraft the waistband and pockets and then I'll be ready to make the black pair of pants I've been promising. However, before I do that I'm going to sew me a nice TNT t-shirt just so I can feel successful. Making pants muslins has worn me out.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

I Found It!

I'm so excited because I found my TNT pull-on pattern. After doing too many alterations on the OOP Simplicity pattern, I now think I could do some more tweeks on my TNT pattern and make it better. Such is the quest for the perfect pants pattern. More to come. . . .

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Reinventing the Wheel, I Mean Pants

I never did find my TNT pants pattern for the pants I want to make for my new red/black twin set. As soon as I get the pants made, I will show you my new outfit. Over the weekend, in honor of the pants fitting class I was teaching at an American Sewing Guild meeting last Monday night, I decided to pattern fit a new pattern. I won't bore you with all the horrid details here, but you can find my journey to pants that fit on a thread I posted on patternreview.com. You will probably have to be a registered PR member to read the thread, however. The short version of this story is that I used several different alterations including the wedge alteration, the Fish-eye dart alteration and the Minott alteration that Debbie Cook discussed on her blog and wrote a tutorial for. The pattern I chose was Simplicity 4068, View C which happens to be Debbie's TNT pants pattern. It's the rust colored pants in the lower corner.

Four muslins, yes! four muslins, and many, many alterations later I got this:

That's my TNT jeans pattern under my altered slacks pattern. They are almost identical! I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. Of course they were identical, they were made to fit the exactly same body. The only difference is the waist treatment. My jeans have a back yoke and the slacks have a contoured yoke/waistband. For the last alteration, I moved the back dart to sit on my high hip fluff and straightened out the waistband. Before I cut them from my fashion fabric, I'm going to make one more muslin to see if the pattern is as perfect as I think it is. I just want to be sure. OK, it would be alright if I ruined by fashion fabric since it only cost $1.50/yd but I really like it and I have a stashed lining that will work perfectly. And, I'm pretty good at sewing pant muslins now. Later tonight or tomorrow I'll cut and sew muslin #5 and if it's good to go, I'l get started on my pants.

My next several projects will be part of the Endless Combinations Contest on patternreview. I've chosen several fabrics from my stash with colors that work great for fall including black, brown, olive, and a splash of teal. You have to click on the photo to see all the fabrics, the whole basket isn't showing on the blog.

I have in my mind to make three twin sets, 6 knit tops, two blouses, two jackets, and 6 pants. Between now and New Year's Even when the contest is over I have 17 workdays off and all my weekends and evenings to sew. I might be able to also squeeze in house cleaning and cooking and some time for Thanksgiving and Christmas with my family. In reality, I don't know what I'll really get done, but I'm going to try.

Before I stop, I just wanted to say how thrilled and honored I am that Barrack Obama was elected to serve as my president for the next four years. It is time for a change and I'm very excited that hope won. I truly feel hope for my country which I haven't felt for a very long time.