Monday, June 27, 2011

Apple Green Cargo Skirt and Swimming Deer

I haven't made myself many skirts. In fact this is number 4. When I went to hang it up in my closet, I realized the other 3 skirts are also green. Maybe I should branch out a bit?!

But I do love this color and this is certainly my favorite of the skirts I've made. The asymmetric pleats are very nice and I like the casual cargo pocket at the side. I dug an antique looking metal button out of my stash.

The magazine describes this as "tulip-shaped", but it's straighter than that, and easier to walk in.

I used apple green linen (probably a blend) from Mill End Textiles. It's the same fabric I used for this kimono sleeve top from a year ago. I could hardly wear them together, I suppose!

I did a lapped zipper instead of an invisible, since I had a lime green skirt zipper in stock. I skipped the side pockets since I always have bad luck with those things sticking out, particularly in Burda patterns.

Pattern: Burda 6-2010-112.

And in other news: we spotted this little guy in our backyard a couple of times today. It was really interested in some of the leaves in the brush pile. I was surprised to see him/her out in the middle of the day.

Speaking of deer (here's the exciting part of this post!)... We took the canoes out on the lake last night with all the kids. Mostly we skirted the shoreline and tried to paddle straight through the water skiing course. Suddenly we heard a giant splash and turned to see a buck galloping into the water (do they gallop?)

It started swimming across the lake and we followed it (imagine me in the back, with 10 year old paddling in front and two small girls on the middle seat and hubby and two kids in the other canoe). It kept swimming and we kept paddling for about half an hour. We could hear people shouting with amazement from docks and boats and one pontoon started following, too. Finally, it reached the other side and jumped out near a public beach, to the excitement of all the swimmers.

Then we realized we had to paddle all the way back across the lake. We declined the pontoon driver's offer to tow us, haha. I'm sore today, but glad we learned two new things:
1. Deer can swim really far.
2. We can paddle across the lake and back in an hour.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Wide-Leg Capris, Japanese Style

I've been dreaming of tiny pinstriped capris. The "tiny" here refers to the pinstripes and not to the pants legs! My bell-bottoms craze is not over, apparently.

I made this pattern last year, but just when they got to the finishing stage, my serger devoured them.

The pockets stick out a little. There are front darts right next to the pockets - I wonder if that's affecting how they sit?

The fabric is quite lightweight, even though I found it in the bottomweight section at my local mill end store. I think that's causing the bit of wrinkling on the fly. Ah, well. They are VERY comfortable.
I almost didn't show the above photo, but for the sake of truthfulness in pattern analysis. I think it's clear this one is drafted for those with very flat back views. I'll always wear my shirt untucked anyway.

I like the cuffs and even the wide legs, however unusual.

The pattern is from the Japanese magazine Mrs. Stylebook #151 (Summer 2008). There are pull-out traceable sheets that include these pants with variations. But directions are also given for drafting them from your measurements (waist, hip, etc.), so I tried my hand at that and compared my draft with my size on the tracing sheet.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Plenty of Stripes and Not a Ruffle in Sight

My efforts in digging through the large remnant bin of knits paid off. 4 yards at $2 a yard = $8. Not too bad for 5 sets of jammies.

How I'm going to sort them all out in the laundry is another story.

I might have to pull my Christmas picture from this pool of photos, since I doubt I'll ever get more cooperation than this. New pajamas is a great incentive to sit still for just a moment...
before the wrestling urge takes over.

Fabric: jersey from S.R. Harris.
Patterns: Night Owl Pajama Top (Ottobre 6-2009-34)
Stripey Legs PJ Pants (Ottobre 6-2009-35)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Ruffles and Asymmetry

It may be that I've been unwisely spending my brain cell reserves drafting and sewing ruffly tops. Or it could be that I've been polishing my rusty geometry skills.

Pondering what's-next-on-my-list potentials, I was flipping through a Mrs. Stylebook, and the appeal of the ruffly, asymmetrical details sucked me right in.

The front is plain. It has a facing, so the arm and neck opening have clean edges. There are bust darts, as you can see. I'm not entirely sure the bust darts were meant to be sewn into the fabric, or were meant to be dealt with in the pattern (bust darts being rare in knit). But, if you fold the dart in the pattern, something must be done with the resulting bulge and I didn't see the fullness released anywhere else on the pattern. So I did the darts.

The front facing is partial and if my fabric were any thicker, I think you'd really be able to see it through the front.

The front neck is gaping a little because, being creative, I understitched the facing. I think that's preventing it from softly turning under.

The front was interesting enough, but the back took a leetle more brainwork. I really like the asymmetric opening and think it would look neat without the ruffles, too.

The back is two layers: the inside is a full back bodice, cut shorter; the outer layer has the triangular opening and is pieced. The ruffles are attached to the inside layer, but I handstitched the legs of the triangle to the ruffled layer.

This page is the entirety of the instructions. I used a sloper I had worked on and tweaked a while ago. Drafting instructions are given for making 2 different slopers, but the one used in this pattern is also included as a traceable pattern. So I traced my size and altered it from there.

This top has some oddities as I've constructed it since there are no instructions: it's one thing to make a standard pair of trousers based on previous experience, but this unique top was quite a bit more challenging and took me several more hours than "just sleeping on it". I tried that, too.

The verdict? I really like the top, even though ruffles are severely underrepresented in my wardrobe. The biggest thing is that this was a test of how my customized sloper would perform and how good MSB's drafting method is. I'm pleased: even if my construction was a little quirky, the fit is spot-on.

Source: Japanese pattern magazine "Mrs. Stylebook" #154 (Early Summer 2009)

Friday, June 10, 2011

Cuffed and Welted

It's desperately trying to be summer here. We had one record hot day this week (100 F/37.8 C) but it's been unusually chilly otherwise. But I know I will make use of my new shorts eventually.

I hope the denim will soften up a bit in the wash. Even though I prewashed and dried the fabric twice, it's still a little stiff. I usually stitch with lighter weight denim because, well, there's no denying lighter weight denim is on friendlier terms with my sewing machine than is heavier weight denim.

I'm really liking how the shorts turned out. The (customized) fit is so much better than the RTW shorts I still have in my closet. In other words, they're not too tight in the waist and baggy everywhere else.
It's my tendency to zoom through projects to get more things done, so I hesitated over doing the welt pockets. However, this year I'm trying to slow down (just a little bit, mind you) and do more of those time consuming details that are so satisfying when you do them well.

I've done a handful of welt pockets, but never a single welt. I spent 3 seconds glancing at Burda's instructions - even time to confirm that I'd be wasting my time trying to figure them out. Step 2 was to check my sewing books. Not too helpful. Step 3: the internet, of course.

What I'm looking for in a tutorial is:
1: Clear pictures, where the fabrics are NOT all the same color, and the right and wrong sides are clearly labeled.
2: Clear pictures where you can actually see what is happening. Or better yet, a clearly marked stitching line since, if I can see where the stitching goes, I am generally able to get the machine to put it there.
3. Concise, logical instructions (as opposed to the wordy, conversational style, which is great for conversation, but not for step-by-step instructions)

Google found me a number of pretty decent tutorials, but none that gave me that lightbulb moment of clarity. Then, scanning down a little further in the google results, I was reminded that my SIL did an ENTIRE series on pockets, complete with tutorials.

And believe it or not, this tutorial meets all my finicky criteria.

In the photo above, you can see that I attached denim to the pocket bag fabric so the welt would be denim, but the pocket itself would be a thinner cotton.

One thing I'd do differently next time I stitched these up would be to exchange the straight one-piece waistband here for a 4-piece curved one.

This time around, I added 1" to the length (above all the cuff folds).

Denim of unknown origin
Pattern: Burda 7-2009-113.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Sailor Wear

The story I heard was that five years after having twins and then selling all their baby stuff (phew! done with that stage of our life!), guess what, our neighbors are having a boy. I made this little outfit for the shower. Last year, I made the same outfit in the same fabrics for my cousin's baby. Those little shorts take less than half a yard.

I'm glad I'd made it before since I started stitching the outfit the night before the party: put the kids in bed and started interfacing. 4 frenetic hours later I had an outfit, minus the shirt buttons. I've never timed a project before. If I paid myself $10 an hour, that'd be more than $40 for the outfit. Plus the 2 bibs I dug out of my bib stash. Do you ever do a labor calculation on the things you make? [Truly, I do it only because I enjoy it. In this case, the project was a known entity within my skill set, so in my mind it still qualified as "hobbying", not a stressful item to cross off my to-do list.]

It was funny. As the mom-to-be opened the gift, everyone exclaimed about the bibs. "Did you make those?!? Wow!?!" Nobody said anything about the outfit, hehe.

Fabrics from
Trim from JoAnn.
Skipper Sailor Shirt (Ottobre 3-2009-13)
Ahoy Baby Shorts (Ottobre 3-2009-14)

Sunday, June 5, 2011

And the winner is...

My bejammied, post-bath, watermelon-faced assistant is here to choose the winner for the Groovy Bellbottoms Challenge drawing.

And the winner is... Steph from 3 Hours Past the Edge of the World. Congratulations, Steph! You can find my email address in my profile. If you send your address, I will get your package in the mail this week.

I've never mailed anything to Australia before! I think the closest I've been to Queensland is...Mexico.

Friday, June 3, 2011

A Gallery of Bell-Bottoms!

This is officially my grooviest blog post ever! Today I'm pleased to show you all the entries in The Groovy Bell-bottoms Challenge. If you did not have a chance to make a pair yet, don't worry, it is NEVER too late to make bell-bottoms!

When my random number generator wakes up from her nap, I'll do a drawing for the prize. Each pair of bell-bottoms counts as one chance to win. The winner will be announced tomorrow!

(click to enlarge)

Thursday, June 2, 2011


I'm sorry to say I have nothing Japanese for you today. We'll say it's Finnish, and call it good. This pattern comes in a dress version and a sleeveless top version. I've had the dress planned for a while, but decided to whip up a much needed top first. It took just under a yard.

The armholes and the v-neck are finished with self-fabric bias binding. The pattern has you cut a contrasting hem band and bindings, but no coordinating fabrics in my stash meant no contrast in my top.

There is a side zip and, would you believe it, I had a zipper in this exact teal color? That never happens.
This was relatively quick to make and I was pleased with how well it all fit with the cross-over front and all the dart shaping (4 in front and 2 in back), with the obvious exception of the super low cut bodice. I was expecting this from versions other people have made, and knew I had a matching tank top on hand.

Geometric print cotton from
Zipper: probably from a Home Sew zipper assortment.
Pattern: Cross-Front Top (Ottobre Woman 2-2008-8).

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

It's a Wrap

Here I continue my Japanese sewing trend with a wrap dress. I'm liking this one because the skirt wraps around very securely. I could possibly have gotten a slimmer fit in the bodice, maybe by taking some SBA-ish tucks along the front neckline. But I'm happy with the fit considering I did no muslin. I did alter the flat pattern with my usual shoulder adjustments.

My son asked me, "Where in the world are you going to wear this?" as if I had just appeared in a silk gown. I guess he doesn't see me in dresses very often.
I very rarely wear belts or waist ties. Here I widened the thin waist ties to about 2 inches wide. If I'm going to have something around my waist, something substantial is more comfortable than a string.
The pattern is pattern "i" from Machiko Kayaki's Sewing Talk. ISBN 4579110528. The paisley-ish pink and cream lawn is from S.R. Harris, a local shop.

The pattern calls for facings, but after much musing (and a shopping trip for white batiste) I went for full lining on the bodice and interlining on the skirt and am very glad I did. The lawn is just a little sheer and the weight of the batiste lining gives the skirt enough body so it doesn't fly around.

For finishing, I did a combination of French seams, bias bound seams, and a combination interlining/faux Hong Kong finish.

I won't detail the nifty technique here but the Slapdash Sewist did a mini photo tutorial for the combination interlining/faux Hong Kong finish.

©2009 21 Wale | by TNB