Sunday, December 7, 2014

Birthday Jacket: A Review of Waffle Patterns Cookie Zip Blouson


I asked for this pattern for my birthday back in June. My mom was nice enough to make all of my birthday dreams come true and kindly got it for me. 

I was raring to go when I received it in my email and quickly printed it, checked my measurements against the pattern, cut it out and sewed it up nearly completely. I got to where I could try it on to check the fit in the arms/back (where I usually have issues) and was quickly disappointed. The armholes were super low – to the point where when I raised my arms the entire jacket went with them. Ugh.

So it sat on my dress form while I ruminated about what to do to salvage it. For 6 months.

I wasn't sure if I should just take it in under the arm? Did I need to add a gusset for movement? As with all of my procrastinations, I should have just tried something instead of letting it sit there for so long – humming and hawing – not wanting to make a mistake or god forbid do something more than once.

In the end I just took it in under the arm... a lot. About 3/4" added to the seam line. If I make it again, I'll move the armhole up in the standard way on the flat pattern.


In the end, I like it. I didn't spend a lot on it and used fabrics from my stash (which is why I didn't make   a muslin first). The plaid is from a second hand store for probably $6 for 3 metres or something. and the "ribbing" is a sweater knit fleece left over from my cat halloween costume.

If I do make it again:
1. Take it in on the side seams. It's quite wide and feels a little big.
2. Raise the under arm before I cut it out.
3. Make the sleeves a little shorter.
4. Use an actual ribbing and maybe make the cuffs and bottom ribbing a little more snug. I'm not sure if it's loose because of the pattern or because of the fleece I used for this iteration.
5. Add a lining: this is mentioned in the instructions, but there are no pattern pieces.
6. Use regular zippers. I was all freaked up about finding the exact length of zip for the front and could only find it in a chunky weight – which was fine, but then installing the pocket zips in the same weight was kind of a nightmare.
7. Add a lining.




The insides:

My review on PR: 

Pattern Description:
*Zipper blouson with 2 pockets
*Round shape yoke
*Knit fabric on cuffs, collar and hem
*Raglan type gathered long sleeve
*Gather on back and front bodice
<b>Pattern Sizing:</b>

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
Yes.

Were the instructions easy to follow?
Very good instructions. She includes instructions for both lined and unlined with finished edges and there's an online tutorial for the lining <a href="http://tmblr.co/ZsHgpt1PwAycv" target="_blank">here</a>: 

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
The armhole was much, much too low for practical arm movement.

Fabric Used:
From my stash: poly woven plaid and left over knit sweater fleece from a different project. 

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
After first fitting, I took in the sides 3/4" which effectively raised the armhole enough for decent arm movement. This also took in the sleeves which were a little too "blouson" for my taste.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
I probably will at some point with the following changes:
1. Take it in on the side seams. It's quite wide and feels a little big.
2. Raise the under arm before I cut it out.
3. Make the sleeves a little shorter. 
4. Use an actual ribbing and maybe make the cuffs and bottom ribbing a little more snug. I'm not sure if it's loose because of the pattern or because of the fleece I used for this iteration.
5. Add a lining: this is mentioned in the instructions, but there are no pattern pieces. 
6. Use regular zippers. I was all freaked up about finding the exact length of zip for the front and could only find it in a chunky weight – which was fine, but then installing the pocket zips in the same weight was kind of a nightmare. 
7. Add a lining.

Yes, please someone else make this. It's so cute and easy to sew. 

Conclusion:
It's a cute little jacket that's a little different than the traditional bomber style. 



More pics, but this time with horrible shitty shit-ass lighting!
You can see here that the sleeves are a touch long and it's maybe just a little bit big in the sides.



That's all folks!





Thursday, November 27, 2014

A Well-Deserved Vacation

The past few months were busy and stressful for many reasons not the least of which was that B and I were both involved in a community theatre production of RENT as Vocal Coach and Costume Designer respectively.

Even though there was almost no sewing involved in costuming RENT there were a lot of obstacles that I automatically turned into stress for myself. Limited budget, difficult body types to find clothes for and ridiculously quick/numerous costume changes were the big three.

80% of the costume pieces were found at second hand stores and the rest were from cast member's closets, the theatre company's costume cache and my own closet (turns out my current wardrobe is that of a lesbian lawyer/bohemian performance artist from the 90s).

I've learned that I'm not a good leader, but I am an excellent helper. I would never take on this responsibility alone again, but would happily help out someone else.

The performances went really well, the cast was amazing, and in the end I had fun.

Three days after the last performance, B and I went on vacation for two whole weeks. We chose to go to Portland, Oregon and Vancouver, B.C. — B is into brewing his own beer lately, and I liked SanFrancisco so much, Portland seemed like a good place to go (it being the craft beer mecca of the world and having the same west-coast sensibilities as SanFran). We have friends that just moved to Vancouver and it's so close to Portland we decided to go there as well.

Good things about Portland:
1. Incredibly good public transportation
2. Friendly people
3. Doughnuts
4. Home of Rogue Brewery (that one's for B)
5. Saw my first NBA game (the Trailblazers won)

The weather was not awesome. We had freezing rain the first day, which was better than the 8 inches of snow that was expected, followed by three days of sun accompanied by the coldest wind that the good people of portland refused to recognize. I was wearing 4+ layers on top with a toque on my head and wool socks on my feet and walked by some dude riding his bike wearing nothing but shorts and running shoes. Keep Portland weird.

Highlights were the Trailblazers game, the jazz club, the fish and chips and salad we shared at a little pub and watching Interstellar (best movie I've seen in a long time) at the old theatre there.

In Vancouver, we stayed with friends for two nights and finished off the last three nights at a beautiful hotel downtown. Our friends have a delightful 6 month old that is so beautiful and cute I just want to bite her face. It was hard to leave her.

Highlights from Vancouver:
1. The Vancouver Aquarium: I hadn't been there since I was 12 and for the $30 admission/person, it was totally worth it.
2. Pie: For some reason, it was next to impossible to find pie in Portland–and I love me some pie.
3. Lunch with a friend of my best friend from University. She has her own production company and is making a movie. It was fascinating finding out about her project. If/when she makes it to TIFF, I'll post about it.
4. Our friend's baby. Seriously the cutest.
5. Our nice hotel room at the end of a long trip where we took afternoon naps every day.

For the last few years, every trip I've gone on I've gotten fabric as a souvenier. I Zeroed-in on one brochure in the lobby of our Portland hotel.

Fabric Depot is a quilter's paradise. About 30% of this massive store is dedicated to apparel fabric (which is where I spent all of my time). There was also an impressive array of notions where I picked up some steam a seam and chalk refills, both of which I can't get locally anymore (not at fabricland anyway). 

B picked out fabric for a shirt and pants and I found more colourways/patterns of the same thick flannel that I picked up in SanFran and made this shirt. It's Robert Kaufman plaid flannel which you can find at Fabric.com. I got this one this time:

Here all all of my new lovelies: 

I admit it's a pretty tame pallet by my usual standards. From left to right: 

1. cotton shirting for B (Portland – Fabric Depot) 
Will be a shirt – long sleeve or short depending on how my guess at yardage pans out.

2. charcoal stretch denim (Vancouver – Atex Fabrics $7/m) – for me. 
I copied a pair of my shorts this summer (post to come) and want to use that pattern to make jeans. 

3. Black quilted ponte knit (Vancouver – Dressew Supply)
Planning to mix with plain black ponte in a sweatshirt/jacket/hoodie or some such thing.

4. Grey cotton corduroy for B (Portland – Fabric Depot) – pants. 

5. My precious. (see above)

6. Purple stretch corduroy (Vancouver – Dressew Supply)
Found in the discount section for something like $4/metre. They will be pants for me. 

I'm pattern-testing a little Christmas craft at the moment (will post), then I've really got to get stash busting. I've got a cute idea for my nieces/nephew's christmas present this year that I hope to share with you soon as well. 
Be well!


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Butterick 5505 Review

I made this bag at the beginning of the summer and it's well-used and worn at the corners already.




Review:

Pattern Description: 
Back packs – three views. I made view B. This pattern is now out of print but was previously published as Butterick See and Sew 5670 so I'd assume there's a chance it will make another appearance in the future?

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
Yes.

Were the instructions easy to follow?
Yes, though there was one error in the drawing for step18 that threw me off a little – the zipper is illustrated backwards, ie: the pull and stop are at the opposite end as compared to all other illustrations.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
It's very simple but because of the folding produces an interesting bag. The only thing I didn't like is that it doesn't instruct you to secure the strap at the top D-ring making it difficult to put it on both shoulders. I'm usually a cross-body strap kind-of-girl, but the back pack comes in very handy when biking, grocery shopping and fabric shopping. Any of the views would make a great small purse for traveling. View B has the flap that covers the zip to the small zipped pocket that is a great place to keep a passport. Because of the folding, this bag can't hold more than the essentials without loosing it's shape so keep that in mind if you like to tote around your whole life with you. I just barely fit a tablet in there but that was a stretch.

Fabric Used:
Vinyl for the outer and a matching poly lining for the inside.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
None

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
I have some old canvas Canadian mint bank bags that I'd like to use to make a version of this. I'd probably leave off the flap and use exposed metal zippers for that version.

Conclusion:
I really like this bag and I've used it so much that I've worn out the finish of the vinyl at the corners already. If I do end up making this again I'd like to reinforce those somehow. I recommend it. It's cute and the design is interesting.

This was the first time I sewed with vinyl and I have some tips for you:
I used tape a lot instead of pins, and where I had to use pins, I tried to keep them in the seam allowance. I was lucky and my vinyl didn't show the pin holes too badly.  Use the finest pins you can get your hands on so at least the holes will be small if you need to make them. I tried using clamps as well but they just got in the way.
I didn't use a special needle, just a new one that was on the narrow side. I also have a teflon presser foot that I think must have helped as well.

Here it is being put to good use last weekend after a trip to the farmer's market. I love that it leaves my hands free.




My next bag is a free lined Duffle bag pattern that I thought was from Thread's magazine, but now I can't find it. There's no instructions but it shouldn't be very difficult to figure out. Stay tuned!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Would you like a bag for that?

No thanks. I have this one!



I finished the embroidery on my souvenier bag from Britex I bought on my trip to SanFran a year ago.


I finished it at the beginning of the summer and just didn't get around to posting about it. I was waiting to do a larger post reviewing a couple of other bag patterns but I didn't get one of them done because I was waiting for interfacing to go on sale – it's a duffle pattern that's is still on my "to do" pile but I'm hoping to get to it soon. 

I added lining to my Britex tote using a poly I had in the stash I used as a coat lining a number of years ago. 


I just measured the dimensions of the Britex bag to get the size, sewed up the sides and squared off the bottom corners, pressed over the upper edge and stitched it very close to the edge under the canvas bag hem using off white thread in the bobbin and red on top to match the lining.


This bag makes me happy – to the point where I'm looking around to find things to tote around in it, and it just so happens that I just bought these:


and these:


These three are marked for pants/slacks/jeans – whatever you want to call them.

While I've been absent on the blog this summer I have been sewing a lot. I found myself in need of shorts and made myself three pairs, the third of which I am finishing up this weekend. I will post about these soon. 

Sewing shorts was a positive experience – probably because I copied a pair that I really love so fitting was almost a non-issue. Now that I have a working shorts pattern I'm just going to lengthen it. My new fabrics were 70%–off and are a heavier stretch cotton canvas in coral, cool grey and olive. $45 for 2 metres of each. Score. I have a couple of Vogue jean patterns I own and want to try too, but one of these fabrics will definitely be made using my shorts-made-into-pants-pattern. 

More bag posts coming soon!


Friday, May 9, 2014

The Giselle, a Pattern Test and Review

May I present my second venture into pattern testing: the Giselle by Kate & Rose: The Midtown Collection





I made view B,  size small (unlike the big 4, the measurements were pretty much identical to my own – YAY!!). I found a couple of coordinating fabrics with the help of my sister (she's hoping that I get tired of this make and give it to her). Though it hasn't been warm enough to even think about wearing it yet this year, I have plans to wear it to my birthday concert (Tegan & Sara) in June and hopefully before that if the weather cooperates.

Adjustments: 

1. A small, SBA (shown below). I just pinched/pinned out the excess on my muslin and transferred it to the paper pattern. 

2. The bottom tier is one panel less than what was called for because I ran out of material. This dress is a fabric Hog with a capital H. 

3. I added a facing to the front midriff piece. My fabric (a crepe-like polyester) is quite heavy once it's all gathered up and sewn together in the skirt, and I didn't think one layer was going to cut it at supporting that weight. I used the same pattern piece and cut the facing out of a black cotton I had in my stash. Assembly was the same as you would sew a button down shirt back yoke. 

4. I cut my own bias strips and hand sewed them down on the neck and arm holes. The instructions call for topstitching but I did not because of my fabric choice. 









Final Thoughts: 

• The length was just barely long enough (I'm 5'5"), so if you are taller than average you will want to add length. 

• The instructions for this were very thorough with lots of extra info to guide a less experienced sewer. 

• On my dress form, the front bodice pieces would not lay flat but magically did not gape in the slightest when I had it on. The wonders of bias?

I am very happy with this and can hardly wait to wear it. I also received the other two patterns in the collections as a thank you from Kati (thanks!!) and am looking forward to trying out the Zsalya top—it has some interesting details that I didn't notice until I saw Carolyn's version. So great!

I'll leave you with a few more shots on the dress form. 



Sunday, April 27, 2014

Sewing, Sleeping, Shingles.

In that order. There has been blog silence because I came down with a lovely case of shingles... on my face. FYI if you even suspect that you are getting shingles, get yourself to a doctor in the first 72 hours. There are antivirals that can cut pain and recovery time greatly. I chalked my extreme tiredness and rash up to a raging case of pms and didn't go in until it hurt to touch my scalp. I still got the antivirals, which did help, but I think I was already nearly at the peak of discomfort, though, it could have been much much worse—shingles on the face/scalp can affect you eye. Luckily, mine did not... well, except for the extremely attractive scabbing I've got going on in my eyebrow. Lovely.
I thought I was on the road back to 100%, but started to feel quite tired again. I decided to keep going to bed early and taking naps when I need them. Shingles can take a while to get over (the internet tells me 2-4 weeks and I think I'm looking at the whole 4 weeks—I'm coming up on the 4th week now), so it's best to just take it easy. 

That being said, I have not lost my momentum with physical activity. I've managed to keep up with my 1800 minute challenge thanks to this lovely website that I am in no way affiliated with but like so much that I am sharing it with you.

www.http://www.fitnessglo.com/
I started the advanced 8 week class schedule a couple of weeks ago and really like it. Fitnessglo is an online fitness class. For $12/month (15 day free trial), I have access to all classes at home and I don't have to waste time going to a gym. There are work outs for all levels (beginner to advanced),  time availabilities (10 to 60 min) and work out type (stretch, strength, cardio, sports drills etc, etc, etc.). I thought that after P90X and turbofire, I would find that this didn't push me enough, but yesterday's workout was incredibly challenging (nearly killed me) so I've changed my tune.

To be honest, I've only ever completely finished one round of turbofire and a round of Chalene Xtreme. I crapped out of P90X with only 2 weeks left because of sheer boredom (and the hour workouts are just too time consuming). Fitnessglo is great because I never have to do the same exact class so I'm never bored, and, though you can do as many classes a day as you want, the 8 week program averages 40-45 min/day so I'm not killing myself—resulting in a much less rampant appetite. It's a much better balance for me personally.

As for sewing, I've been working on two costume dresses for Summer Players:


The one on the left is almost done. I finished the back of the overskirt at the zipper incorrectly and need to fix it before I call it officially finished. I got hung up with the instructions for the dress on the right and had to get some clarification yesterday with the costume designer. I'm sorted out now and will hopefully be able to finish it this week. I don't have to hem them (done at a later date) which eliminates the part of construction where I usually crap-out in enthusiasm. As fun as these are to put together, I'm really looking forward to some selfish sewing. There's a pile of projects that I've been accumulating in my head and I managed to buy more fabric yesterday... all for actual planned projects I swear!

Butterick 5505 View B – I found some really nice vinyl for this.
NewLook 6697 View C or E (Short sleeve - no ties) – in a dark green/purple/gold paisley)
Sorry, no fabric swatches because I'm too lazy to take pictures and besides it's in a prewash at the moment.

Armed with some fitting knowledge from Trena's blog, I feel like I might be able to make this dress without resorting to flinging it across the room in a rage half way through. Plus it looks easy enough that it's won't be a huge time-suck in the event that it doesn't turn out. My fabric is quite stretchy and one review from PR said it ran big so I'm going to measure carefully and might go down a size from my usual 12. I also picked up some clear elastic in anticipation of some boop-gapeage-avoidance. If you've made this let me know how you found it.

I've also recently picked up some interesting fabric from Ikea to make another (this time hooded) Minoru.
I'm hoping to do magical things with pattern placement. 

Next time I post, I hope to have the costumes done and some other projects ready to post—but I make no promises. 




Saturday, April 5, 2014

Pattern Testing the Winter Street Dress

I have always wanted to be a pattern tester, and this last month I got my wish twice. Both lovely makes and this is the first of them.

The Winter Street Dress





I've said it before, and I'll say it again: "I don't wear a lot of dresses". Sitting in an office all day with a bunch of dudes that are 8+ years my senior doesn't inspire trying in the fashion department. I wore this on a day that I had a meeting. It's super comfortable and I can see wearing it in the next few months as the weather warms up. 

The fabric is a very stable knit that I found at a church basement sale for something like $2 or $3 for about 3 metres. There were a number of flaws in it but this dress doesn't take a tonne of fabric so I was able to cut around. It was originally slated to become a bomber jacket, but I'm glad to have it as a dress.

I made the size XS according to my measurements. This pattern is true to size and my adjustments reflect my usual changes and those that were expected considering it is drafted for a larger cup size.


Fitting:

1. First off, this pattern is made for a much larger bust than I was blessed with. That translated into too much fabric from arm pit to armpit. I did your basic sba for a non-darted front.
2. My usual broad back adjustment. I've shown two methods I use depending on how much I have to add. I used the second method in this case and added 5/8".

3. I added back 3/8" to the side seam on the front under the arm tapering to nothing at the waist. 

Pattern Changes:

1. Flounces don't really fit into my lifestyle. I love how they look on Deepika's polka dot version, but try as I might, I'm not that girly. So, I lengthened the sleeve to 3/4 length by extending the sleeve seam lines by 3 5/8". 

2. Pockets! I traced around my hand to get the shape and sewed them into the side seams. They are two big and the openings are a touch too small. I'll correct that on my next version. 

3. Neckband: I made mine 3/4" wide. 


Changes for next time:

1. The waist on this is too high for me and thus the length is a bit short. It's still wearable and the fabric disguises it a bit, but it's throws my innate OCD spidy senses out of whack. I can probably add two inches, which after talking to Deepika about it, makes total sense since she is a petite and I am not. The dress I made for my mom a while back had to have a petite adjustment made to it which was just about that same amount. 

2. Make pocket changes as above. 



Conclusion:

Super comfortable. I can eat in this dress. I have never been a fan of the tulip shaped skirt for myself, but I love it here. I want to make another with a cap sleeve, or sleeveless. Hell, I could even give the back a more racer-back shape if I was going sleeveless. So many options!! In my mind, it's not just a winter dress. It should be called "Super Comfortable, Easy to Sew, Super Great Dress".