Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The most beautiful thing I've ever made?

I fell in love with the fabric when I saw it.

Very rarely have I ever paired a fabric and a pattern up so successfully. This rayon was delightful to sew and is the perfect weight for this top. The richness of the colour and the pattern give me a little boner-in-my-heart.

Kati of Kate and Rose patterns graciously gave us all three of her patterns in her most recent release for being testers. The Zsalya is the second that I've made, and I just finished my second one.

The first was completed about a year ago (hence the non-preggo body)
Not so beautiful pic
I made very few fit changes (see pattern review below), and almost botched the sleeves (pic above shows them before being lengthened again – pushed up above my elbows to give me back some range of motion).

It's my favourite make in a long time and super easy to wear. The high neckline is great for those of us who are perpetually cold and it can be dressed up or down very easily.

This pattern obviously lends itself to maternity very easily. There's lots of room. All I did for version 2 was add length.

Clearly, we need to work on our photo-taking, but you get the jist.

I love the fabric for this one too. It's a little matronly, but there's something about the saturated colour of the flowers that makes me love it.

Zsalya Pattern Revew (also found here.)

Pattern Description:
Top or dress with curved front and back yokes and crossover surplice neckline inspired by folk wear silhouettes. Veiw A has gathered bracelet-length A-line dress with short gathered sleeves. Sleeve edge detail for both views echoes the surplice neckline. I made view A.

Pattern Sizing:
It's been so long since I traced off the pattern, but I believe I made the medium and graded to the Large in the upper back.

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

Were the instructions easy to follow?
Yes. I used the quick and dirty method on both versions.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
As with the Giselle, I was skeptical that the bias edge on the neckline would lie flat, and it sometimes doesn't on my dress form, but for some magical reason it's perfect when I wear it. There aren't many pattern pieces, it goes together quickly and easily, and it's totally unique. No real dislikes.

Fabric Used:
First version (blue paisley): Rayon, Second version (floral): Polyester – both from second hand store.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
I graded out to a large in the upper back on both and extended the shoulder a wee bit on the first version. I shaved that off the shoulder addition on the second version and like it much better.

Some of the width was taken off the sleeves as well as some of the sleeve cap was shaved off to lessen the amount of "puff" at the top. (both versions). I also think I remember taking some of the width from the sides, but again, it's been so long since I traced off the pattern that I can't remember for sure.

I almost botched the sleeves on the first version by cutting them too short. I was not sure about the bracelet length and went for more of a 3/4, but after wearing it, every time I bent my elbow the cuff would get caught on my arm and it just about drove me nuts. So I creatively cut the bottom portion of the sleeve again to the correct length using what little fabric I had left and got the sleeve length back to the way it was drafted. It still catches on my elbow a little, but it's definitely better than before.

For the second version, I lengthened the sleeves so they would hit at my wrist (about 2" or so). I also added 2-3" to the hem to account for my baby belly and turn it more into a tunic.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
I will most likely sew it again. It's super easy to sew thanks to the very detailed instructions, and super easy to wear, thanks to the clever design and flattering fit.

I received this pattern for free for being one of Kati's pattern testers. I'm really so thankful to have received it. While the style isn't for everyone (I wasn't sure it was for me), I highly recommend you give it a try. It will surprise you.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

What to do when your sewing machine craps out on you.

At the behest of my sister, I am writing a new blog post. The photo-taking hangs me up, and I've been pregnant since April and just haven't felt like it. At the best of times I have a hard time taking pics. Throw in a couple of months of morning sickness, a stupid-busy August and a broken machine...


For the last month my machine has been back and forth to the doctor 4 times, and it's still there now awaiting a part that I'm told will take forever to come in. What's wrong with it, you ask?
After 4 years, the Kenmore I treated myself to decided to stop working when I was only buttonholes away from finishing a shirt for B.

Damn you machine!! Damn you to hell! (fist shake)

The first guy I took it to had no idea what was wrong with it and gave it back to me after a week. Next, I took it in to another place for servicing where they gave it the once over and I had it back after another week. I used it for maybe a day and it was on the fritz again. Back it went (servicing is on warranty) where after another week, I was told it was a bent needle. Really? Hmmm.... This time it lasted as long as it took to finish B's shirt and then promptly started to form delightful thread nests on the underside of my fabric – same problem as before. 

So I took it back again—this time after watching many more videos online to try and self-diagnose. Turns out, the reason the Kenmore I bought has so many great features at such an affordable price is because Janome (the makers of the new Kenmore's) decided in their infinite wisdom to make the hook (part which holds the top loading bobbin assembly) out of plastic. A scratched hook=thread nest. And the part is difficult to get apparently. Balls. 
So... what did I do all those days of the week without my machine??

1. Finally make 4 tote bags for baby gifts that have been in the queue for at least a year.

2. Make 3 pairs of maternity work out shorts using up stash remnants

3. Buy more fabric! I splurged more than I ever splurged before (aided by the lovely and talented Taryn of tanitisis.com/) on some fabric for some leggings in brown scuba and delicious brown stretch suede (accurately named "butter soft".... it feels like a puppy's head) using previously made McCalls 6404

4. Finish up crochet baby gift

5. Another crochet baby gift – blanket using up stash yarn.

6. Buy more fabric! Another knit top using a copy of an old top (see below)

7. Copy rtw jeans to make maternity jeans from stash fabric

8. Copy worn out tunic top and cut out fabric from stash

9. Cut out Zsalya top (cut a couple of inches longer for maternity)

I managed to complete a couple of other simple projects using my back up machine and the serger:
Ratty old shirt copied and altered for maternity.

Vintage maternity tunic in plaid flannel – cut on bias. I lowered the neckline and applied the neck facing to the right side. This pattern includes pockets, but I'll leave out if I make it again. They aren't really necessary.

Aside from sewing, I also got inspired by the pinterest gremlin to weave a rug for the baby room out of old t-shirts.

My husband (realist) thought I was nuts when I said I was going to do this. My mother (diy-enabler) bought me the materials – I get these compulsions honestly folks. The instructions I used are found here.

The left over t-shirt yarn will be made into a basket. Pattern here.
Mine will not look this nice as I'm using cut up t-shirts instead of yarn – and I wasn't very careful when cutting up the shirts.

I also bought some springy black poly crepe for culottes (pattern #McCalls 6169 – actually found in the skirts section on their website) with maternity panel. I hate wearing skirts so I'm excited to try this skirt-forgery.

View C with a possible length alteration

As I wait for my machine to get repaired, I've resurrected my old machine (formerly my grandmother's – it's like sewing with a jet engine and sounds like a SanFrancisco trolly car dinging away), borrowed my mom's machine and am serging when I can. In the meantime, I'm researching what to replace my plastic-hooked disappointment with. There's a Brother dealer in town that's been recommended to me. Any opinions?