Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Candy Cane Jasper

I had to resort to a bathroom selfies today. The days are so short now that I can't take pics outside after work anymore, and this bathroom is the only place in the house with half decent lighting!

I've loved the Jasper (Paprika Patterns) since I first laid eyes on it and then finally bought it a year later. And then I got pregnant. Well... technically, I was preggos when I bought it with the idea that I could figure out hot to alter it for maternity when fall rolled around. It's now November and I've finally stopped procrastinating.

I thought on it for what ended up being months and months, even messaging Lisa on Facebook to seek out her advice on how to go about doing a maternity alteration on her pattern (a princess seamed garment with no side seams). There is very little on the internet, believe it or not, on how to make maternity adjustments, but in the end a little common sense goes a long way and it didn't end up being that hard.

I suck at fitting. I'm not very confident in what I'm doing, which is why it took me so long to give this a go. After measuring myself and the pattern, I decided to go with a straight size six (according to my bust measurement) and then I just added along the front princess seams of both the front and side pattern pieces. I also added 2" to the length all around to cover the vertical gains of my tum tum.
I was going to make a broad upper back adjustment like I usually do, but after comparing to anther pattern and checking out the excellently-shaped Jasper sleeve head, I decided to take a chance and just cut.

I bought some red and white striped sweatshirt fleece at a local charity fabric sale that happens in Saskatoon every fall. I think I got at least 2 metres for probably no more than $6. This was going to be a (hopefully) wearable muslin so I didn't bother with the front pocket/welts – plus I didn't know how my alteration was going to affect those pattern pieces so I thought it best to just take things one step at a time.

This was an extremely quick sew. I traced the pattern, cut and sewed it up in one day. I made a small tweak to my alteration which was easy because... well, princess seams are perfect for alterations. Because this was a muslin and I wasn't sewing the pocket/welts, I didn't even look at the directions. I will on my next one, which definitely will include the pockets. I wasn't too worried about stripe matching when sewing – I just wanted to check the fit and I'll only be wearing this for a couple more months anyway... unless I just take in that princess seam again... hmmm...

The end result? I admit it's a little "festive". Red and white stripes automatically call to mind a candy cane.
Though, in my current condition, it's more like those after dinner mints they have at restaurants. 
The most perfect-matchingest button of all time.

My official review:

Pattern Description:
Designed with the cold seasons in mind, the Jasper is the perfect garment for snuggling up on the couch with a hot cup of something. Going out of the house won’t mean changing though, the Jasper is comfortable and edgy. There are multiple ways to personalise your Jasper: make it in one colour, contrasting hem, cuffs and welt strip or even contrasting side panels.

View A features a big and asymmetrical hood with three optional buttons. If you’re not into hoodies you can choose View B, a big collar with an optional epaulet. These neckline options are interchangeable between the two length options: a sweater or a longer version than can be worn as a dress or a tunic.

This design features princess seams that give a closer fit than traditional sweatshirts and create flattering vertical lines. The single welt pockets are set in these side seams and are connected by a tube pocket on the inside. Hem and cuffs are banded.

Pattern Sizing:
1-7 (I sewed a 6 with maternity alteration). I made the sweater version with no hood.

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?
Didn't use them on this one. Will use them for my next attempt with welt pocket. There is also a tutorial on sewing the pockets here.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
I was particularly impressed with the drafting on the sleeve/armscythe. I usually have to alter for more width in the upper back, but with the sleeve head shaping I had enough room for the back of my arm and don't have the usual restriction in the front of my arm when reaching forward. Also, these were the easiest sleeves to insert of my life. No easing!! And the fit is perfect. Why don't all patterns have better drafter sleeves? I've only come across this in my vintage 70's patterns.

This whole pattern is supremely drafted in my opinion. All markings were accurate and I liked that all of the seam allowances were 5/8" (what I'm used to) so I didn't have to keep going back to the pattern pieces to double check.

There is nothing to dislike.

Fabric Used:
Poly cotton sweat shirt fleece.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
I made a maternity alteration by adding width to the front princess seam and 2" length at the bottom (see above).

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
I will absolutely sew it again and you all should too. I can't wait to try the hooded version.

I love it. I pretty much live in casual clothes for work and life and this fits in perfectly.

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 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?

Monday, July 13, 2015

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

I just celebrated my 40th birthday two weeks ago. I had a girls night out, a movie night with my husband, sister and brother-in-law, and another movie/dinner date with my husband—more of a birth-week(s) celebration – which is how I like it.

I had grand plans to finish sewing something for the ladies night out, and almost did finish a top (Ugly-see below), but then decided that it was the perfect opportunity to wear my Giselle, and I'm glad I did as I don't often have an opportunity to wear it, and it's a great eating dress!

The Good.

The top I finally did finish is jut the top 2/3 of the Giselle (by Kate and Rose Patterns). I had some sheer-ish crinkle poly that I picked up on a whim a year ago in my stash that I had earmarked for this project. I'm glad that I finally got around to it because I'm very happy with the way it turned out.

I used two layers on the front bust and midriff, and one for everything else. (I guess you would technically call this underlining?) I just put the two layers wrong sides together, basted the edges and treated them as one for the rest of the construction. The fabric is so flimsy that is worked out well. I followed the rest of the construction instructions as they were written. I even machine stitched the bias binding. I normally hand sew for more control, but I really didn't need to this time. Thank you stay stitching.

I cut the first tier of the dress minus about two inches and after trying it on, I found it a bit on the short side so I just cut a 4" strip the circumference of the bottom, folded it in half, attached it and topstitched the seam up towards the top. Easiest hemming ever.

After wearing this top for a whole day, I maybe should have interfaced the midriff as it kind-of collapses. Not a big deal, just something to remember for next time – depending on the fabric I use. I remember that I did interface that area on my dress and it wears really well.

I love this top. There is no gaping AT ALL at the neck. It's a deep v, but I didn't have any wardrobe malfunctions all day. Really, this is a lovely pattern that I recommend. I'm sure I'll make it again. I'd like to try it in a knit.

The Bad. 

Ugh! I'm so disappointed. I've made this top successfully a few times. It's a free pattern from Cation Designs. In previous makes I'd broadened the upper back but this time I really noticed that I need to lower the arm hole 3/4-1". My other makes somehow came out wearable (even a much-worn favorite in my wardrobe), but this one did not. My sister has anther new top folks! I didn't loose much as all fabrics came from my stash and were all from second hand sources so really – just a day of sewing.

I made a couple of other changes like adding a 2" folded band to the sleeve (again, to avoid time consuming baby hems), and the small 1m pice of fabric came up a bit short when cutting out the front and back so I added some textured sheer black triangle panels to the sides.

The Ugly.

This was going to serve as both a fit muslin and a possibly a birthday top. I know the fabric is screams: "Fresh Prince of Bel Air!!!", but there's something inside of me that believes that somehow there's an appropriate usage for all fabrics and colour combinations in existence.  Sometimes you can't polish a terd. The black also ran after washing. Blerg.

I thought Butterick 6209 had some potential.
I have a wedding to go to in August and I thought it would be easy and comfortable to eat and dance in (but especially eat). It turns out its super gapy at the neck. I had a client meeting the day I wore my muslin to work and I think I must have flashed my bra about a thousand times during the course of the meeting. I have no problems with low cut (check out the Giselle above), but if I want to make this for real, I'm going to have to tack some shit down. 
That being said, this is an interesting pattern. I like the seams at the back, and there's no darts and no closures people! 

I cut out a 12, but blended to a 14 at the back armhole to accommodate a broad upper back. The fit was very good with this adjustment, though I'd have to recheck it if I make the sleeved-version. Everything fit together well, and the instructions for the neckline were good. I feel like there's got to be a better way of assembling this part though that doesn't involve as much hands sewing. Cutting it short for a top version left me with a stupid looking flare at the bottom hem so I took that in quite a bit (maybe 4" total) blending to nothing at the armpit seam.

Will I attempt this as a dress? Despite the gape, Yes. I've already bought fabric. I think I need to do a forward shoulder adjustment as the top slid to the back which made for constant fiddling. This may help with my neckline-gape problem too. I'm going to add small cap sleeves to my version.  After an exhaustive search at Fabricland for the suggested fabrics, I found some crinkle cotton in earthy green and cream (not on the suggested fabrics list) that will make it possible for my dress to do double duty (casual and dressy) depending on what accessories I wear with it. The drape will work and after washing, it's looking like I won't even have to iron it very much. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Everything in life is free, apparently.

We got robbed. Again.
When we first moved into our house about 5 years ago we came home from a 20 min trip to sign up for a class to find that our house had been broken into. Silly us, we didn't have our alarm system hooked up yet, but you can bet your ass it didn't take us long to do so after that. They got the tv, camera, laptop and case, and the ipod and made a bit of a mess. Thank goodness for insurance. 

This time we got off easier. They broke into our car (thankfully, not breaking any windows – what nice robbers!), nabbed a couple of fm-tuners and the garage door-opener and then grabbed B's bike and a couple of bags of cans going to recycling from the garage (we were parking on the street because we're using the garage to paint baseboards). 

All in all, it could have been worse. Here we are at the scene of the crime:

How cool is my new blazer?

It's popped-collar-cool. 
And pretty much free! The fabric was from a friend and I had thread in my stash—a super easy and quick project.

It's nice to have pictures so I can see where to tweak things in my next attempt (if there is one...probably). The sleeve length could be shortened by about 3/4". 

All of my other changes (detailed in my last post) worked out well, and although i got a pretty good fit in the back, it's still a bit tight when driving so I may make another adjustment there, adding maybe another half inch. 

It looks like I may have almost too much fabric there at this point, so maybe I'll just increase the width on the lining.  

The sleeves hang really nicely, the shoulder seams are in the perfect position, and the shoulder darts are perfect for my "sit-all-day-at-a-computer" posture.

Squinty McSquinterton


Monday, April 20, 2015

I really hate cutting on the floor.

Renos are a ridiculously slow process, especially when you do them yourself. On the upside though, I replaced all of the plug-ins and light switches myself and now I feel like a pro. The carpet is in and we were supposed to start on the trim/baseboards this past weekend but there was a sticking door to fix that took most of our (my dad's) time and then we had to make a supply run.

As for sewing, I couldn't wait any longer for my sewing area to be put to rights. I had some new patterns come in the mail after everything else was packed away and I've been salivating at them for weeks. My sewing set-up isn't ideal at the moment, so it took some time to set up and I had to cut out on the floor (I can't believe I used to do that all the time – talk a bout a back ache!), but this first project isn't overly complicated so it went fairly quickly. 

First up: McCalls 6711 (the jacket)

It's a simple little jacket with no closures (calls for a hook and I which I won't be using, because... why???). 

I used this book to double check what size to use and if I needed to make any obvious adjustments. 
All of my measurements were matching up to the size 12 pretty much so I went with that (even though going by the pattern envelope I was closer to a size 14. Joi Mahon also has a Craftsy class on fitting that takes you through her unique fitting process.
My fabric is free from a friend who was destashing. It's a bright turquoise polyester (sounds terrible) with a sheen on the right side (really terrible) and I chose it because I was intending it to be a muslin (no kidding)—a shiny bright blue jacket didn't seem like something I would need in my closet. But, after basting everything together the fit was pretty great, even across back, so I decided to make it up for reals using the "wrong" side without the sheen. As luck would have it, I also found perfectly matching lining, also from the same friend's destashing gift. Plus, if Kristy can rock a bright blue blazer, so can I. 

My changes: 

1. Increased the width across the upper back by 3/4" splitting it between the back arm scythe and the sleeve.

2. Decreased the width of the upper chest by shaving a scant 1/4" off the front arm scythe blending out to the original seamline at the shoulder and underarm. The jacket fits exactly like the picture without doing this, but you can see that there's some extra fabric there (circled) on the model and I wanted to eliminated a little of that if I could.  

I Made both changes to both the fashion fabric and lining. 

Because this jacket is meant to be casual ie: not very tailored, I didn't get too fussy with the fit in the back. This decision may come back to bite me in the ass once it's done and I realize that I did need a sway back adjustment, but finger's crossed... 

Lucinda took this jacket to the next level by tailoring the crap out of it. Her's is beautiful, but not the look I'm going for in a casual spring/summer throw-on-and-go blazer so I'm going to stick to the given instructions as far as interfacing and tailoring (or lack thereof) goes. Plus the popped up convertible collar is what attracted me to this pattern in the first place so I don't want to loose it.

So far I've put together the shell and the lining except for the side seams and then I'm going to bag the lining using this tutorial by Grainline Studios. I should be able to finish it tonight—a very quick project. Photos and review coming soon.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Purl Soho Pullover Sweater

Well, it's done and I've already worn it a couple of times. I'm wearing it right now actually, and I'm very happy with it. 

This first set of photos taken in front of my door were done before it was even washed, and you can see that it doesn't really require blocking – I'm guessing because it's knit in the round??

As I think I mentioned in my last post, this pattern was free when I signed up for their mailing list. They have some sewing implements on their site as well if knitting is't your thing. 

There is a small bit of shaping in the back courtesy of a couple of shortrows up at the neck. I'm not sure if I did it correctly, but it's black yarn and I can barley tell which is front and back as it is. 

This second series of photos was taken by my dad at my mom's art show.
Same camera as the first two photos in this post, but the lighting is much better. 
Dad somehow has the magic touch with photography.

Mom has been taking art classes through the University of 
Saskatchewan for the last couple of years.

This is her piece titled "Feeding Frenzy"

One more for the road. I haven't quite mastered the art of the time delay on my camera yet. Here you can see my temporary sewing space in the upstairs of the house. TV trays do not make a great sewing table. And you can also see progress on the princess Leia costume!