Friday, January 17, 2014

An experiment

I've been kind of fascinated by Alabama Chanin style reverse applique for years, but never motivated myself to actually do any until recently. In law school, you have assigned seats... as in, where ever you sit the first day of class, you are sitting there all through the term, so that the professors know where to find you when they cold call you. That means of course that to get a decent seat, you have to get to the first class pretty early. I wasn't really looking forward to sitting around in a classroom for an extra hour, but then I realized that it might be an ideal time to try some handwork. So the night before, I cut out two raglan tshirt fronts, and free form sketched some leaves on one. (Note: this is not the correct way to do this. You should print a stencil from the Alabama Chanin resources page and use fabric paint to apply it to your jersey.) I just used a gel highlighter to sketch a handful of leaves around the piece. Please don't ask me how I know that gel highlighter writes on jersey and doesn't rub off, it's traumatic.

So, I packed a little ziploc bag with a needle, some silk Gutermann thread, and my tshirt fronts, and went to town. This is not neat, carefully sized hand sewing, unfortunately. But it came out ok enough that I decided to cut and sew up the rest of the tshirt. It's pretty comfy. I haven't tried washing it yet, but I'm hopefully the delicate cycle will be OK. I did make pretty good knots as I finished each leaf. The pattern is the same raglan t-shirt I made a few weeks ago, with a band again added on the bottom to make it long enough.

Here's a "real life" picture for you..... my sewing room, in its super messy state. Unfortunately, not enough light here to really see the leaves on the shirt.

Finally, I've been getting lots of wear from my peacoat, but I've discovered that I really need to add some length to the upper bodice (an adjustment I almost always make on patterns, and likely should have just done on this one). Here's the peacoat, with the skirt I made the other day...

And here is a closer view, you can see the folding that should go away with a bit more upper bodice length.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Ottobre wrap top

A new t-shirt! This is from Ottobre 5/2011, I mostly followed the pattern but made a few changes to with the slouchy layering piece look I wanted. I have lots of warm sweaters and thick tops, but only 1 t-shirt weight layering piece right now, and I kept finding I was too cold or too warm, so I made this to pull on over a tank top or light t-shirt.

The fabric is a really soft rayon jersey from Gorgeous Fabrics. It's super stretchy and just a little transparent if you hold it up to light. The color is a nice dark charcoal, so it was unfortunately kind of hard to photograph. I had to overexpose this picture so that you could see anything:

I didn't stitch the wrap closed since I plan to wear it with a tank underneath (I have a violet colored tank top on in that picture above, but of course the over exposure totally lost that color). The sleeves are unhemmed for now because they feel warmer all pooled up at the ends of my wrists. I should probably shorten them, but for now I like the longer length. Since I used such a soft jersey it doesn't really have the structure of the Ottobre version. I do like the pleats at the high neckline, though, and the other design details that you can't really see in my version. Putting this together was interesting- those are some oddly shaped pattern pieces. I managed to sort it out between pinning, checking the directions, pinning again, trying to match notches, until it went together. The front has pieces that extend around the back of the neck so then attaching the back piece is a bit weird. Once you have it lined up it's easy to sew, it's just that it feels counterintuitive when you've got it pinned together.

wrap top

This is probably going into the to-make-again pile. I like the style lines and it went together really quickly.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Two skirts


I made up two skirts in the last two days, although neither one really goes terribly well with all the tops I've been making. The first one is an old favorite pattern & this iteration is a direct replacement for one that pretty much fell apart. Simplicity 4044, bias cut a-line skirt. I had a black version of this which I made in 2007 that was done in with too much pilling on the fabric and the waist was just shot. I tossed it a while ago and was feeling its absence, so here it is again. No idea what the fabric is; it feels like a poly blend, and I assume I bought it at JoAnns at some point. This isn't a great picture, but you can see how it has a nice flare. The panels are cut on a slight bias, so it hangs nicely even in a cheap fabric like this; the skirt is hemmed by hand since I didn't think anything else would work well.

Next is a Lisette pattern, Simplicity 2211, view B.

2211 simplicity

I've made the shirt before, but never the skirt. It's a great piece and goes together really well, and of course all the seams give you a lot of opportunity for adjusting fit as you go, which is why I just skipped the muslin stage. Sadly I made it out of a patterned stretch cotton so you can't see the panels or the tabs! They are there, really. This fabric is from Paron's if I'm remembering correctly.

Here's a closeup of one of the tabs. This is like Where's Waldo, unfortunately, but if you squint you can see a tab. The skirt is lined with navy blue ambiance which I still detest sewing with but still love wearing. I thought about skipping a lining, since I have plenty of slips, but often with lower waisted skirts I find that the skirt slides down and the slip rides up my waist and I get bunched slip just under my waist, which just feels and looks weird. The skirts lined in ambiance are the ones I reach for most often in my closet, so that was clearly the best choice, no matter what I thought about sewing a multi-paneled skirt from it. It came out ok in the end- not too fun, but not the worst. Both the lining & the skirt are hemmed with my coverstitch. I so love that machine!!

I've been trying to concentrate on making things I'll really wear often. Having paused in sewing for a while I had a chance to notice what I really wear and what just sits in my closet, and I sent to Goodwill everything that I honestly wasn't ever putting on. That left me with only a few things, but they're ones that I wear just as more or more than really nice pieces I've bought. I kind of feel like I'm at a point where I finally have decent enough technique that I can reliably make clothes that are well constructed and finished. What I need to work on is choosing fabrics and patterns that fit what I like to wear, instead of being sucked into making something that just doesn't work. More boring wardrobe classics in cuts that fit me, fewer flashy dresses that I never put on, or something like that.

One last picture- the pretty bird fabric I used as a facing for the black skirt.