Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Some Geeky Goodness

It was time for another birthday shirt, but this year I decided to mix it up a bit. Letters and Arabic numerals were fun. Roman numerals were more fun. But Elvish numerals are even more fun than that. I googled around to find the number "13", since Elvish is not my first language. Apparently, their numbers are in base-12, as opposed to our base-10. Who would've thought?

I thought an atom shirt would also make a great statement piece.

Peter readily approved of both shirts, but did note it wasn't a terribly correct model of an atom...

The shirts are from the Jalie 2918 pattern, which I've made umpteen times. 17 times, actually!

I threw in two more shirts in the v-neck version of the tee, mainly to use up some of this weird chest-stripe polyester pique. Now, you have to have exactly the right size of shirt in order to get that chest stripe, or else you have to waste a lot of fabric. It makes me curious about the manufacturing process of these they create separate runs of the fabric for different shirt sizes?

I just let the stripes go where they ended up, for some interesting effects.

Last up, some out-of-the ordinary sweatpants - Cheveyo Cargo Sweatpants (Ottobre 1-2012-31). Let me tell you, just about when I was trying to make cargo pockets out of sweatshirt fleece !!! I was thinking this was a terrible idea. But now that they're finished, I'm quite pleased with the result.

They have a bit of a skinny pant shape, and of course all the pockets are very fun. The fly is faux. Peter was very thrilled with these pants.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Flatten Your Sleeve Cap

I mentioned a while ago that I had flattened the sleeve cap of my Lisette Traveler dress. I did this for version 1 and version 2

It's fairly simple to do, but before I show you what I did, should we talk about why in the world I wanted to mess around with sleeve caps?

When I pulled out the sleeve and saw the shape of the sleeve cap I knew what was going to happen:

Shoulder ridge.
1. When I lifted my arms, a folded ridge would occur at the shoulder. This is how a formally-fitting sleeve behaves. 
2. My arm movement would be restricted. When I moved my arm, I would feel pulling on both the sleeve and the bodice.

The comfort level matters a lot more to me than the ridge at the shoulder line. And it's worth noting that in a looser fitting dress like this, the movement restriction will be much less than it would be in a tailored jacket.

There's a number 3, as would be discovered later on in the process:

3. I would have to ease in 2".

No shoulder ridge.

(I notice both photos do have the same pull line from the top button to the shoulder. I don't think that's worth looking at beyond determining whether the bodice is actually too narrow at that point or if a shoulder adjustment is needed.)

Some clarification: In my opinion, we don't have to look at the "shoulder ridge" as a sign of poor fit. Rather, it's a side effect of sleeve cap style. Each style has its trade-off.

There is a continuum from shapeless sack and totally free movement (see green sleeve) to closely conformed to the arm and restricted movement (see orange sleeve).

The green sleeve is super comfortable but, since it is not shaped at all to the shoulder, you will have extra folds of fabric in the sleeve when your arm is hanging straight down. Think of a simple tunic you might make from instructions in a kids' craft book, in which the pieces are basically squares.

The orange sleeve follows the contours of the shoulder nicely and fits the upper arm closely, but when you move, that closely fitting sleeve will pull at the bodice.

The neat thing is that you can have whatever sleeve cap shape you like and it will fit into your armscye as long as they are the same length. OR your sleeve cap length can be longer than your armhole length and you can ease in the difference (everybody's favorite thing.)

Note: It's not always a good idea to remove the ease in your sleevecap. If your sleeve is slim-fitting or if the shoulder seam is set inside the shoulder line, you might find you have no room for your shoulder joint. In that case, ease is totally justified. Plus, it sometimes just plain looks nice.

Another note: Being able to change your sleeve cap shape gives you lots of flexibility (no pun intended), but it's not a panacea. Check the size of your armscye. If it's too small, it will bind. If you have tightness or restriction, consider whether you need to adjust for square shoulders (raise shoulder seam and underarm seam). If your garment rises when you raise your arm, consider raising the underarm seam. (Oddly, experience tells me that a too-low underarm seam will also cause tightness across the top of the shoulder blade when moving the arms forward.)

In this case my objectives were:
1. Remove any ease in the sleeve cap.
2. Flatten the sleeve cap.

Here's what I did:

Step 1: Measure the length of the sleeve cap. 

Step 2: Put the front and back bodice together at the shoulder to create the armscye. 

***If your pattern has seam allowances included, remove that allowance at the shoulders, but not at the side seams (because the sleeve will also have seam allowances at the side seams).

Step 3: Measure the length of the armscye.

Step 4: Determine how much longer the sleeve cap is than the armscye. This is how much you will remove from the sleeve cap length.

In this case, the sleeve cap is 2" longer than the armscye, so I will remove 2" from the sleeve cap length.

Step 5: Use the measuring tape to create a new sleeve cap line. 

I measaured out 17 1/4", because that is the length for my new, shorter sleeve cap.

Approximate the curves of the original sleeve cap, observing the different shapes of the back armscye and the front armscye. Flatten the top of the curve as much as desired.

Step 6: Sketch in the new line.

Step 7: Cut off the excess sleeve cap.

I redid my sleevecap alteration so I could take photos for you. On comparing this newest alteration to the one I used for my dresses, I can see I flattened the sleeve a little less this time around.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Plaid and Denim

So, this would be my new favorite shirt. I'm trying not to wear it all the time.

I have several stash fabrics earmarked for more versions. For this seersucker plaid, I drove all the way to the mega-warehouse and went to some strenuous effort pulling the bolt out from the stack at the fabric warehouse. Actually, "pulling out" doesn't work, even though I try. It's more like taking each bolt out, one by one, until I get to "my" bolt conveniently located near the bottom. I will say, though, I'm grateful to have the huge selection, however overwhelming.

Back to the shirt .... It's the classic shirt-blouse, but with some nice shaping to it. I had a previous "go-to" shirt blouse (Ottobre 5-2009-4), but I like this one much better with the longer, curved hem, shaped side seams, shoulder darts, and pockets. For reference, this one is "Gardener Blouse", Ottobre 5-2012-7).

Oh, the front bodice is supposed to be in two panels with different fabrics. I went rogue and did all one fabric. Ooooh.

This is my 3rd iteration of the jeans, this time with a floral pocket design. There's not much to say about them except I like the pattern enough to keep making it (Ottobre 5-2007-10). Maybe someday I'll get bored or happen to run into a fit I like better.

I did hem them quite long. It looks almost silly now but, never fail, my jeans get shorter and shorter and shorter. And then they do look silly.

Look, the facing matches my shirt!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Some fancy godets and my silliest sewing mistake yet

 Well, sewing a sleeve to the neck and appliqueing the "back" of a shirt may have been sillier mistakes, but this one caused me the most grief, I think.

Can you spot the mistake? I thought it looked funny all along, but I kept right on sewing and finished it up. Then I saw the yoke piece sitting on my sewing table...

I'll be honest, I had my daughter try the pants on to see if, by some miracle, the pants might fit without the yoke. Uh, no.

Blurry, but yoked. 

So, now they're fixed and the fit is excellent. They are certainly skinny pants and stretch fabric would work well with these if you wanted to leave off the fun godets. Sara begged me to remove the godets. I knew she would hate them, but I made them because *I* like them. So, I really made them for middle sister who, for her part, loves a certain amount of bling.

The pants are "Soyala" Velveteen Pants (Ottobre 1-2012-25) and the t-shirt is a nice basic raglan (Ottobre 4-2013-33).

The pants have some growing room, but you can see the godets are shirred with elastic thread.

But wait, the godets are not all!

The pockets are a lot of fun, too.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Jersey Blazer

Before I begin this post, maybe you will join me in mourning...It was a double-blow day. First was the email from Chez Ami announcing the end of their 35-year contribution to the fabric world. Then came the postcard from my favorite local fabric store: after 45 years, they are going out of business.

*** moment of silence ***

carrying on....

I was planning on letting the peplum craze pass me by but, as you can see, I succumbed in this case. It's a very subtle peplum, isn't it?

I loved this pattern as soon as I saw it in the magazine (Ottobre 2-2013-12), but the right fabric eluded me. Finally, I settled on this ponteroma. I was always intrigued by ponte di roma - not to be confused with ponte knit, or double knit...actually, I still am confused. If there is some consistency in labeling and fiber content, I haven't figured it out. Anyway, the synthetic-y feel put me off.

But....while shopping at our local fabric mega-warehouse, I ran across this lovely red pontesomethingorother, conveniently unlabeled altogether, and decided it could be perfect for this cardigan.

Since I spent 10 sweaty minutes prying the bolt out from under 23 other bolts, I thought I might as well buy the blue colorway, as well. Make sense?

 The fabric is beefy, yet lightweight and quite stretchy. Here I've layered it over some bulky garments; a smoother layering piece might work better underneath.

There's a long facing piece that runs along the center front and back neckline. The raglan sleeves are split (and sewn as darts.) Getting the shoulder darts to lie smoothly in this stretchy fabric took a few tries. I did a square shoulder adjustment (which I will try to document at some point).

I wish I had interfaced the garment at center front and not just the facing pieces, as the buttons want to pull and stretch out the buttonholes.

Otherwise, I love it and have found it to be very comfortable, even layered over my Lisette shirtdress.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

14-piece wardrobe

Flakes have been falling off and on this week. Before long, this ideal photo-taking spot will be inundated for 6 months with piles of white stuff. (Oh wait...last year we had snow here October through May, uh, 8 months?) So I'm enjoying the green grass and fall leaves while I can!

I made a wardrobe for big sister this summer, so now it was middle sister's turn. (Although sister's summer wardrobe is now useless....)

I pattern-traced, cut out, interfaced, and stitched these all assembly-line style. There's not a whole lot of variety and moving through efficiently is the only way to sew this many basics and still avoid death-by-boredom.

I made three styles of tops:
Girls' t-shirt (Ottobre 4-2004-36)
Blueberry Choco Hooded Sweatshirt (Ottobre 4-2009-17)
Linen Blouse (Ottobre 5-2006-14)

and two styles of bottoms:
Neat Beat Pants: (Ottobre 6-2009-17)
Jump Sweatpants: (Ottobre 1-2008-19)

The pants are much-used patterns for me and much-worn garments by my girls. When I'm going assembly-line style, why not stick with the favorites?

The blouses were an excuse to use up some quilting cotton. Grace was not too impressed with getting button-up shirts; she likes the fabric but envisioned something a lot more...well, a lot less "button-up shirt style".

Grace was thrilled with the rick rack embellishment, though. And who wouldn't be, right?

Monday, October 7, 2013


This is my second version of the Lisette Traveler dress and, I have to say, I like this one even better. I tested the pattern in a red and white striped seersucker. For this round, I used a lightweight denim from S.R. Harris (the daunting mega fabric-warehouse of Minnesota).

In the first version, I had flattened and removed the ease from the sleevecap. Here, I kept that alteration, and made those 3/4 sleeves longer and with cuffs. 3/4 sleeves are cute, but having long sleeves with cuffs makes the dress about 10 times as wearable for me. It seems that, where I live, it's either hot or cold. There's not 3/4 weather.

You can see the dress has plenty of ease. (The back doesn't normally bunch quite that much). So, I guess I could technically have gone a size smaller, but I do like extra ease with the stiffer fabric. In fact, I'm imagining a corduroy dress in this pattern....

This dress was part of the mini-wardrobe I stitched for the PR contest so, for fun, I lined the cuff placket with the fabric from the shirt I made for the wardrobe.

In another post, I'll detail how I changed the sleeves from 3/4 to cuffed and flattened the sleeve caps.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Twist Knot

If you've read this blog for any length of time, you may be thinking, wow, that's not the subdued type of print I'm used to seeing here! I bought two yards of this stuff on the internets about five years ago, before I was fabric-wise, and it immediately became a what-was-I-thinking-fabric. I like the colors, but wasn't expecting such a large-scale print. And I'm not fond of slinky-feeling fabrics, which is essentially the definition of ITY.

Fast-forward five years....I wanted to try this twist knot dress pattern (Ottobre 2-2013-19). What fabric should I sacrifice for the trial? Ah, the ITY I should have given away years ago.

Turns out, I like ITY. When worn, it feels a lot weightier than it does in the hand. I feel a little like the big furry creature in Green Eggs and Ham, haha.

I love the comments I get from my kids whenever I make something new. They are my go-to-crowd for unfiltered comments. They all thought the print was unusual for me - and my 11 year old thought it was a cowboy print.

Uh, what?

Because there are "bulls with rings in their noses".

Now, what about the dress pattern, itself? I didn't have high expectations, because I haven't actually put together one of these twist-knot styles before, and didn't know how the wrapped bodice would work on me. The construction takes some thought, and I ended up hand-stitching one of the openings for the twist, so it wouldn't pull open, but I am quite impressed with the end result! The fit is spot-on.

Now, where can I find some more ITY?

I finished the back neckline with FOE. Stretched ever so slightly, it helps prevent back-neck gape-age.


©2009 21 Wale | by TNB