Archive: Jul 2014
Earlier this week, I shared my frustration with gender-ified, bland baby things and did my best to rectify the situation. Well, another pet peeve I have is how baby things tend to be so pastel. It’s like somebody took a normal room or item and then tur…read more
It’s the end of July and I have only got 3 months of sewing time left this year. There wouldn’t be a sewing machine with me in November and December as our family move to a different time zone for … Continue reading →read more
This, friends, is my sheepish face. Sheepish because I am once again showing you a knit dress (is this the 5th or 6th in a row?). Also sheepish because I admit I kinda love to hate on Colette’s knit patterns (so simple! so much ease! so many damn pages to tape together! strange finishing techniques!) but it turns out: I love this dress!
The fabric is ITY that I bought locally and stashed for a maxi dress – but I’m glad I made it into this instead. It’s an almost perfect work dress. Looks pretty, needs no ironing, will work in all seasons, and matches half the cardigans in my closet! (The only imperfect thing – even though I deliberately made alterations to make the drape higher than, say, a Maria of Denmark Day to Night cowl, I still don’t think I could bend over without flashing my whole bra. And in a classroom, bending over will always happen!)
I took a lot of advice from two friends who had made this pattern before me: Stephanie from LoveTeachSew (edited: she just blogged it here!) and Sara from Hamilton Chicklets, (edited: blogged here) who whipped one up and wore it to our Toronto Meet-up. Based on what they told me about their experiences, I did the following:
- Lined the back bodice as well as the front. I’m not a fan of turning and stitching to finish an armhole, as the pattern suggested.
- Swapped out the skirt for (you guessed it!) Kitschy Koo’s Comino skirt. The myrtle skirt pattern was 3″ wider (which would have given me a skirt with 12″ extra ease!) I learned from my Oonapalooza dress that i’m not a fan of a gathered skirt with a blousy top. This skirt has the perfect amount of wearing ease for me.
- Use swim elastic at the waist, instead of doing a channel with1″ elastic as suggested. No reason, really – just personal preference.
- Shortened the bodice at least 2″ (because I wasn’t going to use wide elastic, and because I’m short waisted… and because I fear too much blousing in the bodice!)
- Graded from slightly larger than a medium at the waist to an XS at the shoulders. My measurements would have put me in a M at the shoulders and a L at the hips, but as drafted the pattern seems to have very wide shoulders straps (like, *almost* a cap sleeve, which I think looks odd!)
Once the bodice was put together, I had to:
- Take out an extra ½” at the armcye curve from the shoulder seam down.
- Scoop out the underarms a bit. I had used stay tape on the seam, and combined with tracing an XS at the shoulder, I can see why I needed extra room. (I have a 42″ bust, so just imagine the ease on someone with a 33″ bust as suggested!) **Ack! Wait! I just looked at my pattern again, and I graded from a XS at the shoulders to a medium at the bust. I take it all back! Colette sizing buts me in a L at the bust, and an XL at the hip, so I basically just went down a size at hips and bust, and down 3 sizes at the shoulder.**
- Put elastic across the back neck, between the two layers of fabric. I forgot that Colette patterns are always too wide for me back there.
So basically, Myrtle was a starting point – but not much is left as drafted!
What I can say about the pattern is that it was definitively THE WORST pdf I have ever put together.
It’s 60 pages long, but look at the size of those borders! You loose so much of each page to trimming, and that’s totally unnecessary. On top of that, the 2 plus sizes are nested as a separate unit, so you have to tape together two of every pattern piece. Worse, the pieces are laid out like this: regular size bodice, next to plus size bodice, next to regular sized skirt, next to plus sized skirt. Why not cluster one size grouping together, and put the other size pieces together too? Then it would be so much easier to only tape half the papers. And the kicker – the giant rectangle of taped pattern pieces is something like 12 pages wide! Huge, unwieldy, and so much margin for error. In the end, the two bodice pieces were all I used, and that could have been printed on 15 pages easily. URGH.
Now, in fairness, Colette is going to be reconfiguring the pdf and releasing it in sections so you can print only the size range you want. Thank goodness! I don’t know how it took them this long to decide to do that. It’s not like this is their first PDF pattern.
One comment I’ve heard from people several times about the pattern is that it doesn’t look like the models in Colette’s pictures are actually wearing the size prescribed to them, because they don’t have as much ease! I’d agree with that… but I think part of that comes from how big the change from size to size is in the larger end of the pattern. For example, each size (s, m, l, xl, 2xl, 2xl) covers two dress sizes for a woven (0,2,4,6,8, etc). In the smaller sizes, than means a range of 2″ different in bust size (i.e. if you measure 33″ or 34″, make an XS) but in the larger sizes it’s a 4″ range (if you are a 40, 41, 42, or 43″, make a large.) That’s a big difference in size! If you measure 40″ you’ll be swimming in it, but on a 43″ bust it might look more fitted. I vaguely remember Colette explaining why they did this in some post, but I can’t find it now. Personally, i think their knit patterns seems to have too much ease to begin with, but the shift in sizing increments does help explain how that ease could get exaggerated or masked, depending on where you fall in the range.
That was a lot of kvetching – sorry! The great thing is though, I have a dress I love, and a pattern I’ll definitely make again.
Have you sewn with any Colette PDF patterns? What do you think of their knitwear?read more
|OK, maybe it’s a little costumey|
Once I was happy with my cup placement, I zigzagged them down to the inside of the lining pieces:
Meanwhile I wanted a little more coverage in the rear, so I taped my pattern piece down to a fresh piece of paper and shaped myself a slightly fuller bottom:
As you can see from the photos above, the changes were slight but they made a big difference in fit. I wore this suit all last weekend quite happily. I credit the Wonder Woman power with teaching my kid how to finally swim underwater.
I have a little puckering in my twin-needle stitching near center front. That was the trickiest part I found, stitching through those two curves while keeping everything smooth. I could unpick and restitch to smooth it out.
You can see there are no back closures on this bikini top, so you have to pull it on over your head like a sportsbra.
Even in this larger version (which should fit my dressform perfectly) the side seam pulls to the back considerably. It could stand to be redrafted at the side seam:
Here’s the smaller gold version. You can see I zigzagged as the instructions suggested, rather than use a twin needle for finishing (I prefer the twin needle finish):
It’s time for SHORTS ON THE LINE!!!My three year old is completely obsessed with shorts. She tries to wear more than one pair sometimes! It’s so hot here it’s high necessity to be in shorts at all times! I went through a lot…read more
Surprise! I made another dress! And it’s a knit! Oh, the thrills and chills, I tell ya.
This one is near and dear to my heart (ugh, I swear that wasn’t a pun) because it’s based on the Bronte pattern by Jennifer Lauren. I’ve gotten to know Jennifer a bit through Me-Made May and our blogs, so it’s fun to sew one of her patterns!
This is a rare project for me that involved multiple muslins to get the fit I wanted. I did TWO muslins, people! Most notably, I narrowed the front shoulders, extended the back tabs longer, and scooped the front neckline at least 3″ lower. In retrospect, I could have gone even lower! The skirt is from the Comino cap dress, and the waistband is… just a rectangle.
The fabric is part of my Wanderlust haul… and I have to say, I loved it less the more I worked with it! After prewashing, it started clinging to itself like mad, which affects the drape. It’s a tissue knit, so I had to line the bodice… which of course, led to the eternal conundrum of which seams to sew first…
Truth be told, I’m quite enjoying lining more of my knit bodices. The more I do it, the more intuitively I can figure out how to sew it together so that I can do alterations as I go. I usually do a combo of clean finishes (thank you, burrito method!) and folded bands where I want it to have more stretch recovery over time.
Case in point:
For the neckline, I clean finished and topstitched the front bodice, but I went for the folded band across the back bodice because a)I think it’s cute and b) I didn’t want that part to stretch over time! You can tell I did a slightly shoddy job of topstitching down the overlap – but who cares?
The sleeves were another conundrum… I’d already finished everything else, so when Instagram convinced me sleeves would be cute, I had to set them in the round. *GASP!* I haven’t bothered to do that in over a year. (Recently I realised I’ve probably also avoided zippers for a year or more too. Not that I struggle with them, just that I find them avoidable!) Back to the sleeves though – I slashed and spread about 3″ total to try to make flutter sleeves, but they ended up just kinda loose. I sewed them in wrong-side out twice.. recut twice… and generally hated the process.
The dress though, I like! It turned out very wearable, and as close to retro as I’ve made in a long while. Along the way I got really inspired by these custom knit dresses from Ureshii, which are a fun way to imagine different necklines and skirt shapes put together! A lot of the designs seems to have a similar sort of back bodice/shoulder neckline as Bronte, but often with cut-on sleeves like this or this. I’m curious to give that sort of design a go! (Bonus: Ureshii is run by two Canadian sewists, so I’m hometown proud… and the word “ureshii” means “happy” in Japanese!)
Phew! That’s more than I’ve yammered on about fit or alterations in a long time. Guess it comes from finally trying out some new patterns this summer!
Meanwhile, despite all of my stashbuilding, my fabric supply is starting to feel a little thin. I tend to go through it pretty fast because nothing I sew takes more than a day or two. I’m in the market for multicoloured rayon knits – florals, abstracts, that sort of thing. They are surprisingly hard to find in colours I like…Can you suggest any online stores I should check out?read more
Thank you so much for the lovely comments you left on my black and white pieces. I really appreciate you taking the time to stop by and comment. I’ve worn all my pieces and love having them in my wardrobe. I got a nice compliment from a sweet yo…read more
My Oonapalooza dress is done, worn, and photographed! Don’t know why that seems like such an accomplishment… but it IS a whole lot of ITY to wrangle!
You might remember my plans:
You guys wisely told me to do v2, and I did. It’s a modified Sewaholic Saltspring, with the front and back neckline raised. I traced a slightly smaller size, since I was using a knit, and took a few inches off the bodice length… I have to admit I didn’t use the instructions at all. Instead it was all a big geometry puzzle in my head!
The straps are a double layer of fold-over elastic (pure laziness on my part) fed through a channel in the front and back bodice. I used swim elastic for the waist (again, laziness and it was all I had in the right width) which does work well because it’s quite stretchy but also strong enough to hold up the full maxi skirt!
Putting in a slit was an important part of Oona-fying this dress. The Saltspring skirt is HUGE , so I just cut from waist to hem, sewed to mid-thing, and folded back the rest to finish. It would have more impact if the skirt wasn’t as full, I think – it really doesn’t show much even when I walk! I *could* have done the slit higher… but truth be told, I always wear legging shorts under skirts to avoid friction, so this is a wearable compromise.
Along the way, I learned that posing against a wall is harder than Oona makes it look!
Yeah. You might be getting the vibe by now that I’m not in love with this dress. Nothing wrong with it, and it is perfectly fine… but meh. I’m not sure if it’s disappointing because I put a lot of work into altering the pattern, or if it’s because it turns out I don’t like this high faux-halter neckline as much as I thought I would! I think the dress suffers from being blousey everywhere. I think it would have been more flattering if the top was more body con with a defined waist, or the skirt was smooth at the waist and then flared out dramatically. As is… fine but very demure!
As a result of my haphazard drafting, the back is out lower than the front… and I actually rather prefer the back bodice worn in the front! But then the slit is in the back, and that’s just odd…
The great news is that the dress cost less than $20 in materials, and I got to test out my drafting skills and try out a new silhouette in the process. Learning-wise, this dress is a win! I’m sure I’ll wear it again sometime… family BBQ maybe, or something like that? For now, I’m happy to move on and think about the next dress – because I still need something to wear to weddings this summer!
Tell me I’m not alone on being a little disappointed on some projects! What have you worked hard on, only to feel a bit “meh” in the end?
ps. Speaking of slightly meh, I wore my navy polka dot Comino cap dress for the first time the other day, and realised that it’s too monochromatic for my tastes! I wore it with matching mint shoes and necklace, and felt rather generically pretty until I had layered on a pink cardigan and multi-coloured floral scarf! The dress itself was lovely to wear, but I really think I need to stick to multi-coloured fabrics! (Except my next dress coming up, which is black and white…)read more
The first Hayao Miyazaki film I ever saw was Tonari no Totoro, or My Neighbor Totoro. I think I was already in high school at the time, but I was still utterly enchanted by the adorable little soot sprites and forest spirits, the ridiculous catbus, and…read more
SEW GEEKY: CLASSIC ANIME! AKIRA! LUFFY! SAKURA! (A massive kids clothes week offering ;-) + Giveaway!
|“Side butt’s the new side boob”|
To be fair, it wasn’t the length of Jefferson’s lavender shorts that was the problem; it was the proportion. The crazy high waist paired with the bagginess of the leg made these shorts look like a diaper, according to Nina. (Though I’ve never seen a diaper that goes that high; if it existed, I probably would have bought it and a lot of infant clothes would have been spared).
Mitchell’s shorts, meanwhile, fit nicely and flattered. But the judges no likey the matchy-matchy:
|Heidi is no hip-ocrite|
At a meet-up last weekend, Kristin from K-Line very generously gave me a good-sized chunk of stretch bengaline – that most illusive and mysterious of fabrics! She bought it online from Style Arc, and I’ve been bugging her ever since to find out what the fabric is like IRL. Lucky me – now I know, and I get to sew with it! Thanks Kristin!!
Stretch bengaline is what Style Arc recommends for their pull-on trousers, like the Elle pants that I love to make. Rumour has it that bengaline is sometimes available stateside, but that the quality varies a lot. (For more on that, read this post from Anne, aka. the Clothing Engineer, who is the Style arc and bengaline guru.)
Since it’s such a hard-to-find fabric, I thought I’d do fabric review video! (Warning – I set the exposure to show the black fabric, so I’m ghostly overexposed for most of the film! 😉
I think bengaline is one of those fabrics you either appreciate or hate. It’s super-stretchy in one direction, and feels, well… like icky polyester. Kristin was obviously not a fan herself – I’ll let her explain why, in her own words from this blog post:
“I don’t like Bengaline – and I’m working with the “good” kind – the rayon blend (not the poly blend). I can only imagine how hideous the poly stuff must feel. There’s so much fucking stretch that I can pull the pants off without opening the zip. My highly modified (for me) Claudia pants pattern is suited to fabric having a max of 20 per cent stretch and probably 10 per cent stretch factor would be better.
The only things I can imagine wearing in Bengaline are panels in a dress (for stretch and contrast), a tailored jacket (that fits with the ease of a cardigan) or VERY close fitted pants. Seriously, you want at least 2 inches of true negative ease, maybe more. I’ll try my other yard with the Elle’s or “denim” leggings, but I don’t suppose I’m going to be a convert.
The fabric feels untenably fake. It’s a bit sheeny – equally on both sides, IMO, so I couldn’t figure which was which. I have no idea if the lighter colours are less or more sheeny but that would make a difference going forward. (I want matte finish.) Bengaline seems never to iron completely. I mean, it presses a nice seam, but it’s almost like you iron-in the wrinkles as you go. It didn’t take my fusible interfacing well so there’s a bit of weird overstretch bubbliness on the underside of the facing (not a deal breaker but ugly).“
That’s pretty clear, isn’t it? 😛 (BTW, on the off chance you don’t read her blog, you should, because it’s scathing and insightful and funny in equal proportions!)
So what IS good about bengaline? Well, the RTW pants I owned in the past were great because they never wrinkle, they don’t bag out through the day, and they last forever. Yes, they feel polyestery and require no-VPL underwear… but they’ll stretch to fit you through thick and thin, and they look professional**, are washable, and are comfy as hell.
**Caveat: In my line of work the average day included getting chalk dust on my tush, some kid smearing boogers or paint on me, and leading stretches in gym – so stretchy, easy-care pants are a good thing! On the other hand, if I worked in a really nice office and those weren’t considerations, this probably wouldn’t be the fabric for me.
Have you touched, sewn with, or worn stretch bengaline before? What did you think?
ps. I’ve started a new section for fabric review videos in the headbar just under my blog logo. Easier to keep everything in one place! 🙂
pps. Do you know what I mean when I say you’ll get a “snowpant sound” when you walk? Just realised maybe that’s a reference you’ll only understand if you’ve trudged to school in snowpants as a kid!read more
Next step is to join the shoulder seams and the neckline seams on the tunic and the tunic facings. For Tunic With right sides together and using twill tape or ,as I did, the selvedge of a light fabric to stabilize the seam, sew …read more
If I kept all my failures to myself, what kind of (virtual) sewing bee buddy would I be?
Because we all have them (right, people? Right?). And if my M.O. is anything, it’s keepin’ it real. So check out this, my second sundress sewn (partly) from Vogue 8766 — a scroll-down nightmare.
Try it. The bodice looks great…lovely fit…nice spaghetti halter straps….cute daisy print…sweet button placket detail…and then (scrolling down), oh dear, that skirt:
My husband tells me it’s adorable. I think he likes that it’s, er, defining through the bodice. I do love the daisies. I choose the print because it had a Sassy magazine-circa-1992 sweetness to it.
But that gathered skirt…I thought I swore those darn things off a few years ago? On a lady like me, they just look dumpy. And, if this dress looks shorter at center front, that’s because it is. I was trying for something…but it just looks like a mistake. Also, that white eyelet trim is a little twee. (However, if I were a Sassy magazine stylist, I would pair this with combat boots and a beekeeper’s hat and maybe it would look cool.)
I once again used shirring to gather the back bodice. This time I used a single large rectangle for the back bodice and skirt. Last time, I cut the bodice and skirt separately, and it turned out much better. I think the fabric choice this time around had a lot to do with it:
|Also, I should iron more|
I like this dress just enough that saving it somehow is important to me (After all, it’s a lot of work shirring all those rows!). But how? Swap out the skirt entirely? Chop the hem straight and use some other kind of trimming to add length? What would you do?read more
The Kitschy Coo Comino Cap dress feels like an instant classic. Lady Skater never quite worked for my figure, but somehow this one makes me feel chic and comfy at the same time!
The green version was a muslin trial… it’s just too bad that when I first got the fabric I thought it was *too* green so I tried to dye it darker… which didn’t change the colour but did leave dark splodges on some parts! Darn. It’s a very thin rayon cotton from fabric.com, which does rather show all the bumps and lumps under it. Even with a slip. Darn again. Guess I just need more green fabric?
The navy is the bamboo knit that I showed in my fabric.com haul video… and it sewed up just as nicely as I hoped. Hart’s has similar fabric in a whole bunch of colours, and I’m seriously tempted to order a lot of it!
Back to the pattern. I shortened the bodice about 2″, and put fold-over elastic at the waist seam to keep it snug. The “waist” on both dresses sits just at the bottom of my rib cage, which is quite high – but that’s how I like it! My hips start right under my ribs, so an empire waist is more flattering on me.
(Actually, when I first made the green dress is did a nice little blousey thing at the waist…
…but then for some reason I now forget, I had to resew that seam and lost some of that length. The elastic was too tight, maybe? I’d like to explore that style again on another version though…)
What I like most about the pattern is the wide scoop neck that still manages to cover bra straps. The cap sleeves fit nicely, too. I think I have more ease in the skirt than the design calls for, because I raised the waist, but I like how it turned out.
It’s the perfect basic dress, really. It would look great with a belt (but I hate the thought of wearing a stiff belt when I’m in a stretchy dress), and it’s going to be great for layering and accessorizing. This version, without the sweetheart neckline, is the sort of wardrobe basic that you could wear all the time without people noticing the repeats. Not a show stopper (at least not the way I’ve sewn it), but the sort of dress that gets worn again and again!read more