Thursday, June 28, 2012

Portfolio Tunic

Is it a tunic or a dress? The pattern offers both lengths and I made something in between - what I could squeeze out of the fabric. I used a hem facing to get it close enough to knee length to qualify as a summer dress.

I loved this pattern for the unique pocket design which was a fun puzzle to put together. It reminds me of those optical illusions drawn by Escher, only these pockets work in physical reality and not just in the imagination.

I dithered over what size to make, knowing many sewists have found it to run loose. This is the style, I suppose. You could "fit" into a number of different sizes depending on the ease you want. The dolman sleeves allow for some wiggle room. I have a little more wiggle room than I want, having made one size smaller than what my measurements indicated. I'd go down one more size next time.

I used a fun linen. Unfortunately, it's somewhat thick, and with the large size of the dress, the whole thing feels very heavy. And the linen is scratchy - so with wide and scratchy I feel just like I'm wearing a gunnysack. Honestly, I haven't worn the dress yet.

However, I think I looks much better than a gunnysack! I will get some wear out of it, I know.

The neat pockets are almost lost in the design, unfortunately. I think the only drawback to the pattern is that all those seams are fairly bulky, especially in the linen.

Overall, I'm happy with my results. I'd like to make it again, possibly in thin wale corduroy. I think I always say I'd like to make another version of a pattern in corduroy - what a sublime textile.

Portfolio Tunic/Dress: Lisette 2245

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Portfolio Pants

In my last post, I threatened to foist upon you some abominable photos featuring a tucked-in shirt. Good sense (and vanity) got the better of me and I recommissioned the photo shoot. These are a vast improvement, trust me.

These pants are from the much-acclaimed Lisette Portfolio pattern, although I've seen many many more tunics from the pattern made up than the trousers.

I was surprised they fit as well as they did, since I've never made a non-vintage Simplicity pattern for myself and didn't know what to expect. Since I usually make Burdastyle pants and sometimes Ottobre, I'll use those as a reference for my fit analysis.

1. With both Burdastyle and Ottobre, I have to flatten out the outseam/upper thigh curve, otherwise the sides stick out like oompa loompa pants. I think this is a posture issue. Anyway, it seems these were even roomier, as I had to remove more than an inch at the outseam, which is tricky to do neatly when you have a zipper in the side seam. (Note I installed the zipper after adjusting the side seams.)

2. The crotch curve is different (shallower?). If I make these again (or any other pants pattern for that matter) I will save myself the fitting trouble and just trace the curve from a previously used pattern. Why reinvent the crotch curve wheel every time?

3. The size chart is off as numerous reviewers have pointed out. I'll refrain from telling you what I think about inaccurate charts. But, I ended up sewing one size smaller than my measurements indicated and definitely wouldn't have wanted to go smaller unless I had a fairly stretchy fabric.

Otherwise I'm okay with the fit. I know I'll sometimes miss having pockets. And it's a shame that the neat button feature won't be overly visible unless I make some shorter shirts.

Lisette Portfolio 2245
Cotton gabardine (yum!) from Mill End Textiles.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

French-Sleeved Blouse

This book is a contender for my favorite Japanese book: My Favorite Shirt by Machiko Kayaki (ISBN 9784579112449). Maybe that's because shirts are so versatile. 

And the French-Sleeved Blouse was begging to be made first since it happens to be summer. I love the shape of the collar, but the sleeves are particularly fun.

See the drag lines from the neck to armscye? My fitting tome, Fitting and Pattern Alteration: A Multi-Method Approach, calls this anomaly "high neck base at sides", which was a very enlightening concept to me. My adjustments have made a huge improvement in how my shirts "feel" around the neck and shoulders when I'm wearing them (in other words, they don't feel restrictive anymore), but I need to do more to get rid of the lines.

I've been reviewing a lot of Japanese patterns lately, haven't I? Well, this one has the run of the mill instructions: The garment is labeled with numbers to indicate order of stitching, and a few of the steps are illustrated. A fabric layout guide is given.

I liked the collar construction method, which seems to be the same method as Sherry's Convertible Collar Tutorial.

All in all, I love the blouse, except it's looser fitting than I want. I made size 9 per my measurements, which is the smallest of the three sizes offered. So you can see the fit is intended to be relaxed. I may or may not alter this one, but if I make it again, I'll slim it up a bit.

French-Sleeved Blouse: Pattern L from My Favorite Shirt
Peach checked broadcloth from Chez Ami (a downside to this fabric is that it's a little sheer).

Next up: the Lisette Portfolio Pants I'm wearing in the photo. Skip that post if you want to avoid the horrors of the "tucked-in shirt".

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Peter Pan Collared Linen

At mom-made-you-a-new-garment-photo-session-time, Grace asked if she could pose "like they do in the magazines" (meaning pattern books). Unlike in some magazines, I try to photographs garments so you can actually see them. Although she spends no time reading sewing blogs, she's still seems keen on adding some interest to my photo taking.

This is a fairly simple a-line dress with Peter Pan collar, patch pockets in the front, and a back zip. It would have gone quicker if I hadn't cut the back on the fold (where the zipper and seam are supposed to be, you know?) That's probably my most frequent mistake.

I cut the back apart at the fold. Because I lost the amount of the seam allowance, I ended up cutting the neck hole larger because it was already pretty high. And I installed the zipper on a 1/4" seam allowance. It worked fine, whaddya know?

I used Timeless Treasures I Heart Linen pink floral. The line also comes with pink or blue robots (watch for robot dresses in the near future). I think the linen is meant for home dec, and it's a little scratchy. Hopefully it softens up in the wash.

Interestingly, the Japanese patterns (at the least few kids' ones I own) come in 10 cm increments between sizes. Burdastyle and Ottobre both put 6 cm between sizes. This dress is size 120cm, and Grace is 114 cm tall.

The dress pattern is #8 from Home Couture for Girl by Machiko Kayaki.

The illustrated instructions aren't as comprehensive in this book as they are in some of the others I've used. Some of the steps are illustrated, but there is no clearly marked order of construction to guide you. However, most - if not all - of the dresses in this book are quite simple. The construction diagram itself would be sufficient if you've sewn dresses before, or have access to a basic dress pattern for reference.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Dress Style Book, A Review

On our vacation in April (was it that long ago?) I was able to visit Kinokuniya, the famed Japanese bookstore. This is book 2 of my purchases. I reviewed Blouse, Skirt & Pants Style Book previously. Dress Style Book (ISBN 9784579112678) is the companion book, and is laid out in just the same way.

It features 8 basic dress styles with 4 variations of each.

The dresses are shown in "muslin" and then in different fabrics.

Diagrams show you how to alter the basic pattern to get the variations.

There's a nice mixture of classic, fitted styles and looser, casual styles.

And the pattern sheet. The pattern pieces are labeled in the margin. The name of the dress is in English and the piece (bodice, skirt, etc.) is in Japanese. You'd want to refer to the book's diagram to make sure you were getting all the pieces. Which piece is what is usually pretty obvious, if you're used to seeing pattern pieces. You should be set if you figure out the Japanese characters for front, back, and center. I may try to do a post on that in the future.

I'm having a hard time deciding which one to make first!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Classic shorts and a 1980s Skirt

These shorts are another item I had cut out at the end of last summer. Does that happen to you? I plan ahead, cut out a bunch of things, and then the seasons change. Well, the length is fine, and being able to adjust the amount of elastic I'm adding to the back waist was convenient.

I really like this classic shorts pattern from Ottobre 2-2002-32. I did have to downgrade the size a little. One drawback may be that there are no front pockets.

And look! She has some new shorts to wear with her continuously-worn peasant top.

Oh, and I made her a skirt to match the top, too.

Sara was short on basic skirts, and this denim one should be a very basic wardrobe staple. Not that I actually plan out my poor 8 year olds' wardrobe, but denim matches everything, right?

The pockets extend upward to create belt loops. Except I wasn't following the instructions carefully enough, apparently, so they are really just stitched-down pocket extensions. The turned under belt loops pieces, along with waistband and seam allowances created about 10 layers of denim, so I was concentrating more on keeping my needle intact than functional belt loops.

The back has a kick pleat and patch pockets.

The skirt has a definite 70's vibe to me, but the pattern, McCall's 8650, is from 1983. The other skirts on the envelope do look more 80's.

Now, doesn't the skirt remind you of this "70's style" BurdaStyle pattern from 10-2010-119?

School's out, and when our daily life isn't consumed by, well, daily life, we are out hiking, birding, and canoeing.

Here we're having a picnic at one of the beaches on our lake. Peter and Sara were sitting across from me when it struck me that they look nearly identical - boy and girl versions, I guess.

Above, Peter's kayaking across the lake. For such a tiny person, he has a powerful and coordinated stroke and I like it when he's in the front of my canoe! It takes us about a half hour to paddle across the lake the short way - depending on the wind and who's paddling where.

Below, I'm canoeing with my Alex, 2nd son. He tends to "take in the the scenery" a bit more when paddling, so I get a lot more exercise (:


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