Friday, October 28, 2011

The Quest for the Holy Grail - A New TNT T-Shirt Pattern

Many of you know that I have had a wonderful TNT t-shirt pattern. I've made it over 20 times and have done nearly a dozen design changes to it. The pattern is an altered version of KS 2900.

Some of the alterations I've done include an increase to the hip, shorten the shoulder seam, shape the front hem for extra bust length and add a center back seam to give it some shape and give it a sloping shoulder. Here are some examples of what I have done with this pattern:

The top two photos are the pattern as cut right from the envelope. The brown one is me using the selvage on a seam down the center front and the pink one I borrowed some flutter sleeves to make a summer top.

The red top was made using a scoop neck traced from a RTW top. The black print top has the neckline details from Textile Studios Marseilles Shirt. The green/brown top has an added collar. This detail I copied from another KS pattern. The yoked shirt has a design detail that I copied from a WOF Burda Plus pattern.

The red/black top is an early attempt at pattern drafting. I raised the neckline and added an asymmetrical yoke feature. The green top is my first try at copying RTW. I saw this sweater in a JC Penny's ad and wanted to create my own. The purple top was a 2XL t-shirt that I re-cut using my pattern. The pink one is the t-shirt with a scoop neck copied from a RTW top that I like better than the red one above and I cut the sleeve to cap sleeves length.

This set of tops is where I really started to get creative with this pattern. I started to troll RTW on-line catalogs and found some really great t-shirts with cute details. The green/black top is a Coldwater Creek clone, the black and white one is just a yoke added with gathers above the bust and the red/black one is the same pattern, except I replaced the gathers with a box pleat. The blue top is a Coldwater Creek clone that has a really nice neckline tie. The black one below is the same pattern. I think I've blogged about each one of these tops, just do a search on my blog for KS 2900 or t-shirt and you'll find them.

Again, I think I've blogged about each one of these shirts. The black and brown top are both a Coldwater Creek clone. The turquoise one was a RTW top that someone on Patternreview asked how to make, so I made it, and the brown floral top is the details to the Jalie Sweetheart top cut onto my pattern.

The last item I made with my TNT pattern was this dress. I blogged about it as well. After I made this dress, if I remember right, I put all the patterns together in a safe place. In fact, I put it in such a safe place that after tearing my house apart at least 3 times and my sewing room apart many times, I can't find it. I can't find any of the patterns. None, nada!

I'm almost over the morning period. Actually, I'm ready to move on to find a new TNT t-shirt pattern. At the same time, if you want to look on the bright side, it gives me a great opportunity to cull out some of my more ugly knits. I do have some ugly ones too. I really hope I don't bore you all with my quest for a new TNT t-shirt pattern. However, I really feel like I'm lost without my pattern and this search is a necessary evil. Wish me luck.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Mindless Sewing for Awhile

After the last two challenging sewing projects, I've decided to do some mindless sewing this week. I haven't been called in to work the last two days, and that's a good thing. (Unless, of course, you ask my husband who worries about things like paying the mortgage.) On Tuesday I cleaned up the disaster that was my sewing room and got a pattern traced.

This is the Smoothie Pantie by Lingerie Secrets. It's a great pantie pattern which is very similar to the ones I pay $8 for at Fashion Bug. There are three pattern pieces for this but the line drawing doesn't show that there is a crotch piece that you cut two layers for.

This first pair was cut using the sizing chart on the front envelope. It says that I should cut the 2XL. That looked really BIG, but I figured that was because the back pattern piece just looks large because the front piece is smaller with the seams being in front, not at the sides. Also, since I have to either lower the front or raise the back, or both, to most pants patterns, I decided to raise the back on this muslin/fitting pair.

They came out really good. I used the coverstitch to insert the elastic after I basted it on in the round on the sewing machine first. That gave them a nice RTW look. However, if you don't have a coverstitch machine, then she has some really great instructions for the sewing machine that give nice results. My favorite part about this pattern is how much cheek room there is and how the elastic is shorter in the back so that it cups underneath the butt and doesn't ride up.

For my next pair I will be sewing a size or two smaller. While they fit OK in this heavyweight cotton lycra knit, I think that when I make the rest out of leftover poly lycra and rayon knits, they might have a lot of bagginess to them. These feel too large and I am working very hard to lose weight. I can see me making all my panties from this pattern from now on, maybe. I would like to know how many of you make your own panties? Why would you take the time to make panties if you can buy them to fit already? While I like these, I'm debating within myself whether or not this is something I should be spending my sewing time on.

For my next project, I want to make this Ottobre 2/2006 Jersey Top with a Collar. I traced out the pattern today and have selected some fabric to make up my muslin from. 

There isn't a good photo in the magazine for the top, only this one which shows the collar. By looking at the pattern pieces, I can see that after I petite the pattern, it might just have the right shape for me. I really hope this one works out. If I get another day off, then I'll have this one finished and posted very soon.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Day After (In other words, I'm done!)

I don't have any photos of me wearing these garments. I forgot to give my camera to someone. However, I know a couple of people who were taking photos and hope to get some from them. Also, Peggy Sager's said she will have the entire ETAC fashion show as a webcast on her site. I'll give you the link when she has it uploaded. When looking at the garments, keep in mind that I have a smaller waist than squishy Judy does. The garments really do look better on me.

It was a really fun evening. I found that every one of us used the fabrics in different ways, which was very interesting. In fact, only a couple of patterns were shared by the contestants. All of us hated the gray polyester gaberdine. I got a different quality silk from every one else. They told mine was the hand woven type and it was very, very slubby and textured. I didn't like that at first, but then I think it had better drape for my cape than the other kind did, so it worked out great. Two or three of the women made pants from their dupioni, so the machine woven silk worked out well for that use.

This is my Friday Night Get Together outfit. On Friday, I still had three garments to get finished for the Saturday night ETAC Fabric Challenge Fashion Show. This made me very nervous since Saturday morning I had promised the Pasadena ASG Neighborhood group that I would teach them how to make the flowers for t-shirts. Luckily, Friday I got the jacket finished and the shawl done.

I'm not sure I like the jacket. It's made from Silhouettes #915 Meagan's Jacket pattern. The color is more a pink and the fit isn't quite right and I'm not sure it really goes with the skirt. I had used the D cup pattern pieces and I should have used the C cup but since I was doing this at the last minute, literally,  I didn't want to go back and trace the other size. I also think it needs a high round back alteration and I added too much fullness for the back flounce. I had some problems getting the collar on the jacket, her construction is something like I've never seen before. It's quick and easy, but the results aren't nearly as nice. I had to shorten the collar by an entire inch and there are some other collar issues that I had to make work as well.

On Saturday morning I got up at 5 am after going to bed at 2 am the night before. I had to make the alterations to this skirt pattern and cut it out before getting ready and driving out to Pasadena to the ASG Meeting. I spent an hour and a half getting ready and driving out there, and then only one person shows up. WTF? After waiting 25 minutes, I turned around and drove back home. The good part is that now I was already showered and my hair was dry and ready to be flat-ironed.

Anyway, back to the skirt. I got it finished when I got home from Pasadena. It only took me a couple of hours to make since it's not lined and I didn't use the drawstring. It's Silhouettes #4300, Paula's Dress, but I used only the skirt portion of the pattern. The pattern has a drawstring waist and is a bit more hippy than I am, but the fabric has enough body to make it work. I actually like this skirt and might sew it again in some fabric that would work into my wardrobe.

It comes to just above my knees so I might even wear this skirt styled with a black cowl neck, some black tights and flats. Since it has an elastic waist, I can keep wearing it as I lose weight. Win!

The top was my reversible garment and the garment I wore with all three outfits. The rules didn't say that only one garment had to meet both requirements, but it worked out that way for me. I used LJ Designs' Margarita Tank Top pattern. Here it is shown with the black side out. To finish the seams I trimmed one side and topstitched down the rest of the seam allowance for a mock flat-fell seam. The neckline and armholes are finished with a scallop edged elastic. I made two muslins of this top and got the pattern to fit nicely, but this fabric didn't have nearly the stretch I thought it did once it was sewn up. Because the bust wasn't fitting, the armholes were gaping horribly. I pulled the elastic to get the armholes to fit more closely. I'm really glad there was the jacket to hide this horrible fit.

This is the outfit for the Memory Lane Photo Shoot. I like the added boots, which is what I might have worn with it back in 1979. The pattern is Silhouette #615 Cathy's Blouse. I shortened the bodice by 4 inches and added a 20" gathered tier to the bottom to make it into my Stevie Nicks inspired dress. I wanted to give it full long sleeves, and more than one tier but I was limited to the fabric I was sent. I sure was happy that I'm short when trying to fit this onto the fabric. Since the fabric was see-through, I put the tank top underneath and wore the skirt for the next outfit inside-out as my slip.

The biggest challenge to this challenge was trying to figure out what to do with the gray polyester gaberdine. I tried to spray paint it without success. That's the sort-of brown at the back end of the fabric. You can see the original color in the middle. Since the spray paint didn't work, I settled on just using fabric paints. First I painted the fabric while wet. It did turn brown but was very uneven and the fabric got a bit stiff. Once I cut the pattern pieces out, then I went over them again with the fabric paint. I finally got the color I wanted but the fabric was much too stiff to do anything with. I wound up just stitching trim to the edges of the bolero since there was no way I was going to be able line it.

The pattern for the bolero is Silhouettes #850 No-Gap Vest. I shortened it 2" and cut the shoulders in to give it a shape that would work with the dress. There was no was this very stiff fabric was going to turn under with a lining so I picked a beaded cotton lace trim from my stash and bought the narrow trim and tea-dyed it to match the beaded trim.

This was my outfit for the Big Outdoor Dinner Dance. I think I was a bit showy in the silver and red, but in my opinion, it really worked.

The top of this outfit is the Margarita Tank Top, just the reverse side from the previous outfit. I was so pleased that the back of this horrible silver printed knit was a solid black. Instead of hiding from the silver, I just with with it. The purpose of this outfit was for dancing, so I chose a swishy swing skirt to go underneath the tank. Silhouette #2010 Three Piece Yoga Skirt worked out nicely for my outfit. It had just the right amount of swing but not too much for the amount of fabric I had. Again, being short really came in handy here. You can't really tell, but the shoes I styled this outfit with are a black strappy sandals with a silver sparkle and a clear 2 1/2 inch stilleto heel. I found them brand new for $10 at the Goodwill Store. 

I think this was the most popular pattern in the fashion show. If I remember right, three of us made it. It's LJ Designs' Sensational Shawl. The pattern calls for a fabric with lots of drape. While you don't normally think of silk dupioni as having lots of drape, the silk was soft enough, especially after washing it, that along with the lining, I think it drapes well. I really love the way it looks like I'm wrapped up in a big bow. My son said all he sees is Little Red Riding Hood, but since it's short and has no hood, I don't know what he's talking about.

I can't believe I got all this done in only 6 days. Not quite like making the entire world in seven days, but pretty amazing none the less, if I do say so myself. Now to clean up the sewing room and decide what I'm going to make next. It feels good to be able to sew what ever I want next. I wish I knew what I wanted to sew. Don't worry, I'll come up with something!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Getting There

I just need three more days. I can't believe it's already Thursday night. I'm beat and I have to go to bed but wanted to share what I got accomplished today.

This outfit is complete and I like it a lot. It reminds me of something that I might have worn in 1979. The colors were my favorites, dark orange and chocolate brown. The belt I had on the dress yesterday broke so I went out today and bought this new one.

Instead of lining the vest I decided to trim it. Adding cotton lace I think makes it looks like it belongs to this outfit. I have a local fabric mill-end store and bought the trim cheap. It already had the wooden beads attached in the right color. The drawstring was something I found in my trims box and worked quite well. Before trimming the armholes, I cut them in somewhat. It hardly resembles the pattern any longer. I did a FBA and the center front still doesn't hang straight. However, I think that actually helps to give me the illusion of having a better shape and I like it.

I got the muslin for the jacket done and have most of the alterations made on the pattern. I'm lengthening it 2" and raising the neckline 2" as well. I want to remove a lot of the gathers in the lower back and I have to shorten it in the upper back and add for my hips and belly.

I may not get much sleep tomorrow night, but I'm sure I'll  get it all done.

Making Progress

I accomplished quite a bit today. I nearly completed the outfit for the dinner/dance. I used the LJ Designs Margarita Top pattern and made it reversible. I used some stashed scalloped edge elastic for the neckline and armholes and left the hems unsewn on both the skirt and top.

The skirt would become too short if I hemmed it and I've seen that RTW leaves knits unsewn at times so I don't feel like this is cheating. I still have to shape the hem on the top. I made fake flat fell seams to hide the silver so that I can wear the black or silver side, making this my reversible garment.

Here I have draped the Sensational Shawl by LJ Designs over the top and skirt to show how I plan on wearing it, but I still need to attach the lining to it. I just bought some cheap Posh lining from JoAnn's in black. I think I'm liking how this outfit is turning out. I do wish the tank fit better. The muslin fit great, but this knit didn't quite have as much stretch to it, unfortunately. I'm thinking about using some serious foundation underneath because while I have been losing weight, I won't be able to shrink the girls enough by Saturday to make the top fit nicely.

Another thing on my list I got done was to get my fabric for the Friday night get together dyed. I've never dyed fabric before and was very afraid I'd ruin all my fabric. My biggest fear was that I wouldn't get the deep red I was looking for and that the fabric would turn out pink. The fabric looked nice and dark while soaking in the dye for over 2 hours.

Unfortunately, they did lighten up a lot after I rinsed out the left-over dye. It still reads as red, just not as dark as I like. I'm also disappointed that they didn't absorb the dyes to the same shade. The border print, while having some lycra in it, took to the dye a lot faster. I think because it was more loosely woven than the pique, which was 100% cotton and fairly tightly woven.  At least my designs won't be boring with all that color! Good thing I look good in lots of color, I'm hoping that will make my garments pop on stage.

I got the peasant dress nearly completed. It still needs the neckline hemmed and the drawstring inserted as well as the bottom hemmed. I wish I could have had more tiers on the bottom of the dress and longer wider sleeves but I was limited to the fabric that I was sent.

The bolero is the No Gap Vest by Silhouette Patterns which I shortened to waist length. It also needs some alterations and I have to line it. It's quite stiff with the fabric paint I put on it. It's made from the blue/gray polyester gaberdine I was sent and which went with nothing. I discovered how difficult 100% poly is to dye. I wound up just using fabric paint in the little tubes and brushing it onto the cut pieces. While the vest does need some alterations, I think this outfit will work out great for my 1979 Memory Lane Photo Shoot. My thoughts was that the dress/bolero combo is reminiscent of something Stevie Nicks would have worn with the lace.

More tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Design Challenge

Way back in July or so I was asked to participate in a Design Competition being held during the Education of the Textile Arts in California (ETAC) being sponsored by Peggy Sagers of Silhouettes Patterns. I agreed knowing I had plenty of time and went to work on the story board for my designs. Here is the scenario for this competition:

You are attending a high school reunion a little over three months from now. You are flying on a commercial airline to the reunion and only one carry-on bag allowed so all outfits must fit into the one carry-on bag. You will need three outfits and no one outfit can be repeated. These are the three events that you are going to attend.
First day - Friday night get-together/mixer.
Second day afternoon - “Memory Lane” photo shoot
(must dress in the clothing style of the year you graduated.)
Second evening - Big Outdoor Dance/Dinner

Rules I had to incorporate:
1. One item you make from the fabrics must be visibly worn at all three events.
2. One item must be reversible.
3. Some of all the fabrics must be used.
4. An additional $25 can be spent and will be reimbursed for anything purchased such as additional buttons, fabrics, etc.
5. All outfits must fit into the carry-on bag.
6. Patterns are free and unlimited from any one of the sponsors and ordered through the designer.
Those patterns ordered must be used in the challenge. No other patterns may be used.
7. No additional fabric from personal stash allowed. Any notions may be used from your personal stash. Only an additional $25 can be spent on anything you need. (see #4)

The patterns must be selected from either  LJ Designs - Lyla Messinger,  Barb's Originals, Barb Callahan, or Silhouette Patterns, Peggy Sagers. Working within this limited pattern selection was a minor challenge. I think I did pretty well picking out patterns that fit the scenerio and my body shape. I've never had much luck with Peggy's patterns, but most of my selections came from her pattern line. I picked two patterns from Lyla and none from Barb's patterns. I suppose I could have selected a purse pattern, but none of them appealed to me.

The fabric that was sent were some pretty horrible stuff. The first fabrics sent included a cotton/lycra border print, a white cotton pique, a dark orange stretch lace, and a black knit with a silver snake skin print. Later I was sent a blue/gray polyester gaberdine fabric and I had my choice of color of silk dupioni. I chose a dark red for my silk.

Oh, and did I mention? The ETAC Conference is this coming weekend. Instead of working on my garments for this event, I made a costume. Either I'm crazy, or else I LIKE working under pressure, probably a bit of both. Anyway you look at it, I'm a BIG procrastinator.

So far I've got the tank top, one skirt, the dress, and a vest cut out. Tonight and tomorrow I plan to get all these pieces sewn and the muslin for the jacket sew up and alterations done. I also need to finish the muslin for the second skirt. I'm really hoping that it won't need any alterations. Stay tuned as I'll be posting my progress every night on my blog. I really need all the encouragement and prayers I can get.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

What's Up Next?

The Ninja Girl is done. I really enjoyed spending quality time with my Niece. I didn't enjoy sewing the costume. Stacy is my twin sister's daughter and is now living with her mom a few miles away. When she was 5 years old, they moved 500 miles away to Tucson, AZ. Luckily it's close enough that we got to visit a few times a year. I love having her back. So now you know why I worked on this costume when I have a very large deadline pressing down on me. But I'm getting ahead of myself. I'm going to share all about my next project and the deadline with you in the next post. Stay tuned!

The costume is meant to be a character named Akali from the video game, League of Legends. I've never heard of it, but she's a video game geek and plays it all the time. She attended Comic-Con in New York this weekend and said that over 200 people asked her if they could take her picture including a local paper and the company that produces the video game.

To make this costume, I was forced to called upon my pattern making skills. I used a Kwik Sew Tank suit and a leggings pattern. I also used Silhouettes Yoga skirt pattern to complete the look. Stacey made the patterns for the armor and I made them up using Peltex between to layers of polyester gaberdine. I used some gold gimp trim and gold thread satin stitched around many of the items. To make the belt for her very curvy figure, I draped muslin around her, pinned it to fit her contours and then drew the belt on. I'm so glad I did this because it fits her so nicely and lays against her body perfectly. I probably have 40-50 hours into this thing, which includes making patterns and muslins of the suit, the stockings and the gloves.

To make the face mask, I traced her face and created a pattern. I'm very impressed on how this part of the costume came out since I had no idea what I was doing. For the forehead piece, she drew on her face and then pressed paper onto her forehead to create a pattern. She bought hair extensions and fake bangs to add to the look, including anime large-eye green contact lenses. My sister made her weapons. They were tricky because she had to be able to get on an airplane with them. I've got to remember to say NO next time I'm asked to do anything with a deadline.

ASG Sew-In

Instead of starting my BIG PROJECT on Saturday, I attended the ASG-LA Sew-In. In a I-Don't-Know-What-I-Was-Thinking moment, I volunteered to teach the beginner's class. While I expected three students, only one came.

It wasn't a total waste of time because I got a chance to make this cool tote bag from sueded pleather. I love the trim, which was from a small scrap of fabric that has a striped print. I'm not sure you would have been able to see the pocket without the trim. This tote pattern is what I start all my beginning students with. It gives them many different techniques to begin with and they usually have a completed item to take home with them.

Now to get started on my project, which will include six different garments to be completed by Friday. Yikes!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Nearly A Ninja

My niece Stacey and I spent the entire afternoon and evening working on her costume. I cut out my pattern and got the suit to a place where she can try it on while she worked on the armor pieces. In the photos, the suit is mostly done with the straps just basted on. The elastic needs to be stitched down on the underarm band and there isn't any elastic around the legs yet. Also, only one stocking has elastic around the top, and it hasn't been topstitched down yet.

I'm going to have to adjust the shoulder straps, but for the most part, I'm pretty happy with it. We both wish the side opening was larger, just a bit more side breast showing and lower too. After all, the character is supposed to be much more scantily clad. It was hard to see just how large to cut away to get a good sized hole. The mock-up fabric I used was a poly/lycra and this one is a nylon lycra, which has less stretch. 

I think I really like how modest it's turning out to be. We need to cover some shoes and get the skirt made. I also have to make some type of long glove without fingers. That'll be my job this weekend. I'm going to San Diego in the morning, so I might get some work done tomorrow night. I'm really hoping I don't get much sub work this week so I can stay at home and sew.

I'm still pondering how to put the trim on. We bought some stretch metallic gold fabric today, and I may just add strips of that on top of the folded down elastic. I'll baste some on first to see how I like it and if it will stretch enough for her to put the costume on.

She leaves on Thursday for New York. I hope she has a great time at Comicon. I also hope she never asks for me to sew for her again. It's too nerve wracking sewing for others, especially under such a tight schedule. I don't know how you ladies who sew for a living do it.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Making Progress Slowly

Today my niece let me know that her plane leaves for New York on October 13 so I don't have much time to get this project finished. My goal is to have it completed by Friday so I can move on to other things I need to be working on.

So far I've completed the changes I needed to make to the pattern. I made up a muslin of a KS tank swimsuit and while she was wearing it, I marked where I needed to put seams. Just when I was wondering how to make the square neckline on the suit, someone on asked the very same question. The answer was to put in seams. I'd get started on the suit if I had some 1/4" knit elastic.

I did a sample stitchout of a knit with elastic sewn around a square cut-out to see if I could avoid the seams, but I got rounded corners instead of a square. When I tried to miter the corners by sewing the corners of the elastic, I wasn't happy with the results. I'm so glad I did the sample, it really helped me plan out my pattern. I want a rounded edge where I left a notch in the pattern but I put seams where I absolutely wanted the suit to be squared off. I sure hope I can figure out where to put the elastic when I sew it together.

These are the fabrics we picked out when we went to Michael Levine's in downtown LA a week ago. They match better than they look in the photo. The fabric on the right is a swimsuit nylon lycra and the one on the left is a ponte de roma, not the nice double knit but the kind cheerleader outfits and tablecloths are made from. That one will be used for the armor. I think I'll sandwich it around a layer of peltex to give it the stiffness it needs and then use the fold-over elastic around the edges to hide the peltex. The gold gimp trim will work on the armor and I'll probably just hand sew it to the suit once she has it on. I like the idea of making a belt attached with hooks. Thanks to Caroline and Trina for those good ideas. 

I've decided to use Silhouette's Yoga Skirt to make the skirt. I don't have many patterns in her little size and I think this one will work out perfectly. She wanted it to be twirly and this one is much more a-line than the back of the pattern shows. I'll just cut a shape out of the side of each pattern piece so that it only hangs in the center front and center back. I hope we bought enough of the gimp to go around the edges of the skirt and the armor. 

I will be using the fold-over elastic to go around the thigh high sock to keep it up and around the fingerless gloves and the face mask. Does anyone have any ideas how to make the face mask part? I'm open to all ideas at this point. I may just trace the shadow of her face in profile and create a pattern from that with a seam down the center. I'm hoping this goes together very quickly. I hate sewing for others and I'm not enjoying this very much. However, I can't wait to see how cute she'll be in this costume. I know it'll look fantastic on her.