Mandy & Ginger

One of my goals for 2017 was to make Jeans and I am happy to say that I have succeeded!  So far I have made 3 pairs: 1 failure and 2 wearable. I have some really nice Cone Mill Denim but I want to really refine the fit before I cut into that fabric. That’s the problem with buying nice fabric, i’m too scared to cut into it. I also picked up some stretch denims from Colorado Fabrics. They were pre-cut lengths and I didn’t realize until after I pre-washed them that one of them is 45″ wide.  Mom suggested I make pedal pushers with it but Im not sure I can even make that work. Shorts maybe?

One of the things I purchased with my winnings from the Pattern review contest was the Ginger Jeans pattern. I have seen some excellent jeans come from this pattern so I know eventual I will get there.

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The first pair I made was using the skinny leg- high waisted view ( on the left). I used a very dark wash denim and some grey floral quilting cotton for the pockets and teal serger thread on the insides.

 

I used the pattern as drafted except I added 4″ to the bottom of the leg so that I could have a really wide cuff. I’m lucky if I can get RTW jeans long enough for me so having such a deep cuff feels very special.

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I really goofed the back pocket placement on these. The pockets were just so big and my back is soo small. I put them too close together because otherwise the would have been around the sides. I’m OK with is since I tend to wear skinny jeans with big billowy tops that cover my bum anyways. For the subsequent pairs I used the smaller pocket pattern piece from the low rise view.

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I learned some things from this first pair….firstly the importance of pocket placement. Also I found the rise a bit too high on me. The button in the front tends to rub against my belly button when I sit down which irritates the skin. Also these were a bit big, I accidently cut a hole in the side with my serger so I took in both sides by 1/4″ to fix it and the jeans are still seem more than generous.

For the next pair I used a stretch twill in olive. Based on the last ones I went down a size and just the low rise version. It was only supposed to be 3″ different. Well these were so bad they have been trashed before even getting a picture. The twill had considerable less stretch than the denim so going down a size made me feel like a stuffed sausage. Also the low rise was NSFW… unless you’re a plumber.

I went back to the high waisted version and just redrafted the front to be 1 1/2″ lower at the zipper. For this I used a light grey flannel backed denim. It’s super soft and very warm!

These jeans are almost perfect. I think I need to take out 1/2″ more from the front to be comfortable. Also I did a much better job with the pocket placement. I put fusible interfacing on the pockets before top stitching them but the one on the right had broken threads after just one wearing.

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This denim doesn’t have the best recovery so it gets a little baggy in the knees after a few wearings. The Cone Mill denim is supposed to be very good for that sort of thing so it will be interesting to see if I notice a difference.

 

Along with my skinny jeans I have been sort of obsessed with a free pattern I found online called the Mandy Boat Neck Tee. Its one size fits all and sews up in about 30 mins. For my first version I used a teal terry fabric that I got at Colorado Fabrics. I made it wrong side out because I liked the textured look of the terry.

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I love the boat neckline and the dropped shoulder. I did find the back a little tent like but that hasn’t stopped me from wearing it a ton before the weather started warming up.

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It wasn’t long before I had to make it again. For my second time around I took a triangle wedge out of the back to help it hang better. I also added a split hem that is longer in the back.

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The stripes help accentuate the dropped shoulder and this aqua teal is a personal favorite of mine. This is a ponte and has a little more stretch in the sleeves then the terry so it’s even more comfortable so thats a win in my book.

Harriet, Watson, & Madelynne Oh My: Bra Update

I have recently fallen down the bra-making rabbit hole. It all started with the Madelynne by Simplicity 8228

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I have actually had this pattern for quite some time but a quick perusal of the back showed that it needed all these things I had never used before. Picot? Powder Mesh? Stretch Lace? I never knew where to buy them so the pattern sat in the back of my closet unused. I was planning a trip down to Colorado Fabrics in May  and I figured they might have what I needed. Well they did have stretch lace but it was $10 a yard and since I needed 4ish yards  I wasn’t willing to spend that much on a bralette.  So I bit the bullet and ordered from Debs Lace and Trims  I bought Black, Purple, Cadet Blue, Teal, and Pink Lace. Everything came in 5 yd cuts and most were in the $1/yd range. I also picked up some picot and skinny elastic. From Fabric.com I was able to find the power mesh for considerably cheaper then the bra sites were selling it for so I picked up Nude and Grey. With all the accoutrements in hand I got to work. You will have seen the first bra on hear a few weeks ago. It was the racerback style in cadet blue with nude power mesh underlining.

While I was pseudo-happy with the results I wanted to make some changes. You’ll notice that the seam line falls about an inch to the outside of the apex of the breast. I have scoured the internet and I find this is true of every example I have seen made. I’m not sure if this was a stylistic choice by Madelynne but (to me) it gives a splayed shape to the chest which I find unflattering. For my next attempt I redrafted the cups so that the seam line is more center (along the princess seams of the dress form). I also left out the racerback because this detail looks nice but its quite high. While I am a millennial I’m not into the “look my bra is showing” trend.  It was fairly easy to just leave out the racerback pieces and add some straps instead.

I also want to note that I paid extra close attention this time to make sure my insides were much cleaner. I still didn’t use the spray adhesive, but I have bought it now so I can use it in the future.

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I was happy with how this turned out but lurking on all the bra-making blogs had me pining for something that looks a little more bra-like. The patterns by Cloth Habit seem to be fan favorites so I picked up the Watson (a soft cup)  and Harriet (Underwire) Bra Patterns.

I started with the Watson thinking that the soft cup would be easier to tackle first. Now having made both I don’t think there is a huge difference in difficulty between the two patterns and Underwires aren’t nearly as tricky as they look.  My first Watson was intended as a tester to narrow in on sizing. I sewed up  a 38A in a black 4-way stretch jersey with some miss matched notions from my stash. I stabilized the bridge with the black tricot fusible interfacing that I had purchased for my pencil skirts.

The verdict is still out on this one.  I don’t love the shape this gives me, that is to say I don’t love my natural shape and this bra doesn’t do anything to alter it.  The way I see it I have two options either a) use a smaller cup size so the cup shapes (squishes) the flesh in a more rounder shape or b)  perhaps the jersey recovery isn’t enough. I think this could be easily remedied by underlining the cups with power mesh.  I want to fix it but i’m too anxious to get a bra that works so I decided to set this pattern aside and work on Harriet.

The Watson bra calls for all stretch fabric whereas the Harriet uses a stable fabric  for the cups, cradle, and bridge. One blogger mentioned using silk charmeuse for bras as the ultimate in luxury…well I happen to have 8 yards of silk charmeuse wasting away in my stash. It came as part of a mystery fabric bundle purchased with my winnings from the Pattern Review contest. I don’t see me wearing a dress in this colorway but for some reason I think it works for bras.

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I used a pastel findings kit purchased from Tailor Made. These kits are an excellent deal. I find them much more economical than the full bra kits and the only extra things you need to get are the fashion fabrics and mesh. The kit is also pretty generous.  I actually sewed this up 3 times trying to get the right fit. I reused the strapping, underwire channeling, and hook & eye from bra to bra but the kit came with enough picot that I still have some left over after the third bra.

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As for sizing, first I made a 38A just like Watson. The band was way too big and the cups where fine on my larger size but a little generous on my smaller side.   I went back and actually  read the sizing directions and found out I should have made a 34C. If you are familiar with bra sizing you know that  these are sister sizes so the cups are the same between 38A and 34C. Since the first bra was a bit generous I sewed up the next as a 34B instead. This time around the band was way too tight.   I feel a little like goldilocks at this point, too loose, too, tight….the only thing left is “just about right”.  The cups felt right but I was getting a bit of “quad-boob” at the top which is normally an indication that the cup is too small. However I thought this might be happening because I stretched the picot too tight over the top edge of the cup. For the third bra I decided to sew a 36A. Which is a larger band but the same size cup. I didn’t stretch the elastic at all over the top of the cup. I am very pleased with the results.

I’m still having ever so slightly quad-ness with this size but with some tugging I think that I have identified that it’s a result of the straps being too short. I cut the straps at 18″ because I like the idea of it taking exactly 1 yard of strapping to make a bra but I think moving forward I could benefit from just a couple inches more on each strap. Unlike the Watson I think this was gives a nice shape. Probably because the stable cup fabric forces the tissue to conform to it and not vice versa.

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I noticed on my first two “practice” Harriets that the silk charmuse unraveled  like a beast. Since this pattern is unlined it made for messy insides. For this last bra I serged all the seams with matching thread and I am hoping this will keep it much nicer looking.

Now you might think that this was an awful lot of bra sewing but actualy I made all the bras from this post over the course of a single week. I can do an entire bra including cutting and sewing starting after my morning yoga and be done before our 11am walk. I can reasonable get 2 done a day if I wanted. Thats one reason why I am finding bra sewing very satisfying. Its quick but the result looks like a construction master piece. I have many many many more bras in my queue. Here is just a sneak peak.

 

Catching up

I have been a very bad blogger. It’s been far too long since I have posted.  Believe you me, it’s not due to lack of sewing.  Mostly it’s just I find picture taking a giant hassle. I could spend all day taking photos of myself and still not get a single usable shot, be it I cut off my head or the strap was twisted.  Meh….. A lot of bloggers clearly have someone to do the photography for them. I did get some backdrops and a lighting system thinking it would make it easier to set it up once and then keep using it over and over without changing the camera position but it’s just as hard!

Anyway enough complaining. I’m going to spend the next few weeks catching you up on all the things I have been sewing….all photography on my dress form. After that I will try to get back on the bandwagon. Without further ado:

I have tried to make a concerted effort this year to sew more separates. Don’t get me wrong I love dresses but they just aren’t practical for my life and I found myself only getting to wear them on special occasions.  I want to make more things that fit into my every day uniform. To that effect I have sewn 2 more button up shirts from my TNT Simplicity 1538.

They have gotten a lot of wear and I pulled them out of the dryer to take these pictures so excuse the wrinkles.  The pink one is perfect for spring early summer. The fabric is really lightweight and doesn’t get me hot but also keeps the sun off my easily burnt shoulders.

In the same shirt category I have this top made from a poly blouse weight fabric ( that I got for free) I have this same fabric in aqua instead of purple. I used Butterick 6378 to make this top because I really liked wearing my ivory bow blouse from Mod Cloth this winter. Also this thing is practically impervious to wrinkles so it’s awsome to throw in a suitcase for my business trips.

I particularly like the shoulder seam which is dropped forward  and then gathered. My only complaint is that the sleeves aren’t long enough ( even though I lengthened them by 2″). The directions have you measure the cuff elastic as your wrist +1″ but since the sleeves don’t make it down that far it’s a little tight around my forearm.

Next up I made the complete outfit from Simplicity 1070 which includes a crop top, pencil skirt and moto style jacket.

I’m on the fence with these. I think the jacket looks great on the form but not as good on me however I shot some video in this outfit and I thought it looked a lot better than I expected.

Next one is a wader. I used more of my cotton saris and simplicity 1755. I did not get the fit right on this and the torso is just comically too long. To fix it I would need to take out the zipper, chop off 2″ from the waist, attach the skirt back on and then put the zipper and lining back in. I’m not sure I like the fabric/dress enough to constitute all that work but I never know.

 

In the weeks that follow  I  will show you bras, then jeans and more tops, and then finally some embroidery items.

In other news I switched out my sewing room with another un-used bedroom in my house since this new room gets more sun. I want to eventually do a tour post but I need to get some paint on the walls and hang artwork first. For the time being I think uzzi is enjoying the new digs.

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Simplicity 8228: The bralette

I am trying to branch out a bit from just dressed. I set myself a task that every month I would have to sew at least one thing that wasn’t a dress. This time I chose a bra. Well more specifically a practice bra using simplicity 8228:

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The entire thing is new materials so the thread was the only thing that got used from my stash. It needed stretch lace, power mesh, picot elastic and narrow elastic.  Once I opened up the instructions I realized I needed spray adhesive to attach to the powder mesh to the lace and then cut out and sew as one. I was too anxious to start so I skipped it and just cut everything out on its own. It’s fine, I got it done but I think that the adhesive would make the job a lot easier.  Also the sizing on this pattern is the most ridiculous thing I have ever seen. It put me at a 38DD. I couldn’t stop laughing. I cut an A cup and it fits just fine. I might choose to go up a band size in the next one.

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For being a practice run I think it turned out pretty well but there are plenty things I would change so I am glad I didn’t use my favorite lace.

  1. Obviously the biggest boo-boo is in the center bottom seem with the edges and scallops not matching up.  Next time I will probably just cut the whole front band on the fold to avoid that seam.
  2. The pattern is a little high on the underarm fat/side boob area so I might re-draft that pattern piece for comfortability.
  3. The racer back comes up really high. Not sure if i want to scoop it out more or just skip the racer all together and attach straps  from the cups to the back band more like a normal bra

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It sounds like I have a lot of complaints but really it’s quite comfortable and perfect for someone like me who doesn’t need a ton of support.

The insides are not that neat. I think its a combination of several things: the pattern,  the fact I didn’t use spray adhesive, and I wasn’t able to find matching elastics in a price range I was willing to spend. Also It seems like the very bottom edge of the power mesh is never permanently attached. I could see this rolling up and being annoying. I will wear the bra for a while and if I really bothers me I can just leave it off the front band and the lower back band for round 2.

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I always assumed bras would be a very difficult sew but this little puppy took me 2 hours at most after it was cut out. If the mesh was attached to the lace I could see it going much faster. But before I make another I think I have earned myself a dress!

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Butterick 6385: Cafe au Coat

I’m soooo glad that I decided to plough ahead and do a wool coat in spring because it’s snowing today and I have had more than one opportunity to wear it already.  For some reason I figured Butterick 6385 was the easier of the two coats on the one I  should work on first. In reality I think that it was just the least expensive of the two ( less and lower cost fabric) so If I messed it up I wouldn’t feel as bad. The pattern itself was harder.

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The fabric I used was a 100% wool coating from Fabric.com in the color Cafe au Lait. I bought it during one of their 70% off sales so I scored 3 yards for just $36. Turns out I only needed 2 yards….and suggestions on how to use the last yard? Once it arrived it seemed a bit thin (again, hindsight it was probably fine). After reading an article on threads called Understanding Underlining I decided some flannel would make a cozy addition to the interior. Boy was it time intensive! First you cut out the flannel out of the same pieces as the coat.   Then stack them and baste down the middle. Trim the flannel to account for turn of cloth. The hand baste the flannel to the wool and treat as a single piece.  I think the extra effort was worth it because it made the coat super warm and toasty but I don’t think I will be using it on my blue coat because everything got very bulky.

Once I stitched the panels together I trimmed the flannel pressed the seams open and then catch-stitched all the seams by hand hoping to alleviate some of that aforementioned bulk.

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So much hand work, my fingers were hating me! At this point I took a break to make my easter dress.

Having never done a coat before I found some interesting details in the pattern. I’m not sure it this is standard or not but I think it makes my coat seem more special. The lining has its own separate pattern pieces and the center back includes a little pleat to allow extra mobility across the back in between the shoulder blades.

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The pocket (per the pattern) has wool on the side touching you and lining on the other side. So if the pocket peaks open you only see wool but the bulk is reduced by using lining for the other half

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The lining is attached around the wrists and neck but is allowed to hand free across the bottom. I took a quick look at my Calvin Klein coat and i’ts made the same way.  I liked this because the lining doesn’t pull in any weird way. I did some thread chains to attach the lining at the various seams.  I also catch stitch the coat hem so there are no visible topstitching.

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Enough construction notes…you want to see this puppy on right! You’ll notice it’s missing buttons. I bought some nice big wooden ones but when it came time for buttonholes I could not get my machine to do them. It made them just fine when I did a test on double thickness of wool but for some reason  it’s just too thick to work on the coat.  I could sew the holes by hand with a blanket stitch but I’m worried that it would look to messy and I would hate to mess up all the work I did with messy button holes. For the time being it’s to be a closureless coat. Lesson learned, do bound buttonholes on the next coat ( that one only has two so it shouldn’t be too bad).

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me-thinks I may have over pressed it

I can’t help but feel like a girl-boss when I wear this coat. It turned out almost exactly like I envisioned.

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Simplicity 1873: #EasterSpringDress2017

I thought I would take a break from my winter coat and join in on the spring dress sewalong. When I picked up this fabric I was thinking a mod 60s style shift dress but then quickly retreated back to my fit-n-flare comfort zone and used Simplicity 1873 instead.

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I sewed the View C bodice with the longer skirt of view A. Boy I am glad I did because this is just on the cusp of being shorter than I like.

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The fit isn’t the best. I must admit I heard about this sew along a while ago when Akram first posted it on We Sew Retro but I didn’t know I was going to participate until last week so I didn’t have time to muslin. In retrospect I probably did but this is the excuse that I am telling myself.

I cut a 14, some reviewers said that the waist was too small and since the pattern didn’t have any finished waist measurements I walked the pattern and it did seem awfully small so I graded it out to a 16 at the waist. Mistake. I should have just done what I always do and cut a straight size. At least now I know for next time! It’s OK now I have extra room in the dress if I need to eat a whole ham or something.

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By design the bodice ends just above the natural waist but I would prefer it to be dropped another inch. Also The back is quite high and I didn’t have any zippers that long so I scooped out the back which I think looks more flattering anyway.

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I would have taken more outdoor photos but my remote ran out of battery 

I love the pleat design in this pattern, I will definitely use it again when I have directional prints. This dress only used 3.36 yards ( I had asked for 3.5 yds but this was all that was left on the bolt). In any case I feel like that’s pretty economical considering the bodice is self-lined and the skirt looks twirly.

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Obligatory guts shot!

For the buttons I hemmed and hawed over what to use. I did not want to go out and buy more since my button stash is sort of out of control. I had robins egg blue buttons that I liked witht the fabric but they weren’t big enough. I ended up using these which are vintage self covered button blanks. I was going to cover them but then I  sort of liked the way the brushed metal looked with the fabric and Tony agreed and so it was.

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This dress was a good break from all the hand sewing on my coat and I managed to knock it out in a day and a half. More importantly the weather is actually starting to turn around here so I even got to wear it already!!!! The bodice needs some adjusting but I think this is a good basic dress pattern and I won’t be surprised it I sew it up a few more times.

Butterick 5814 – Betty Bombshell

I apologize for my lapse in posting. I have been trying to get a youtube channel up and the weathers been so grey and gloomy that it has been difficult to take photographs. Also I have now managed to stuff my stash full of fall/winter fabric just in time for spring so i’m sort of at a quandary of “what to make next”. I am sort of wanting to make a wool coat but fear that being out of sync with the seasonings will make for a bad blog post….Im coming into that dangerous time were the the blog is starting to dictate the sewing  and not the other way around which is not were I want to be!

For todays dress I used the bodice of Butterick 5814 and a self drafted skirt.

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I spent weeks working on the bodice and ran into a slew of fitting issues. I wanted to lengthen the front but of course the pattern didn’t provide any lines . I also tried  to raise the neckline a tad for modesty ( though I think its still a little bare and I may add some lace in later). I also futzed around with the sleeves since they kept falling off. I eventually got it to an OK place but i’m not 100% pleased with it. The pleats in the bodice create some fullness that Im not loving. I tried to take my time and tried some new (to me) techniques. I used some twill tape to stabilize the bias cu v-neck and back line. I also added in so stay tape before sewing in the zipper.

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The bodice also has spiral steel boning added to the lining. I made casing for the boning out of rayon seam binding from my stash. It’s all inclosed inside the lining so you won’t see the green when it is done.

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The skirt was a headache as well. I used an online tutorial for how to flat draft the skirt and the first muslin had these wacky wide fins on my hips. It took 3 more tries before I got something I was happy with and even still I had to pull the dress on and off a half dozen times shaving millimeters off to get the perfect fit.  I also contemplated for a while on what to do with the lining. The fashion fabric has a slight stretch to it which makes sitting down in a form fitting pencil skirt a little more comfortable. However I knew I wanted to wear this dress with heels which means stockings are needed and that means slippery lining. I ended up putting in a full lining out of matching bemburg. I left the skirt lining bigger then the fashion fabric in order to accommodate thigh spread when sitting. I am happy I did because I think it adds a luxurious feel to the finished dress.

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You’ll also notice from the above picture that I added a kick pleat to the lined skirt. I am very happy with how this turned out though I don’t think I would self-draft this again. I want to try and find a pattern that already has it included so that I can get the precise angles.

At least for now I feel like all the effort was worth it because I feel like Marilyn when I put it on even if the bodice is  bit wonky!

Unfortunately the fabric doesn’t photography well. The  sheen of the sateen brings out every little wrinkle. If you want to see the dress in motion Click Here