Wednesday, June 26, 2013

An 11-piece Summer Wardrobe

Red paisley t-shirt and khaki shorts. 

In an effort to organize the frantic ramblings of patterns, fabric, and clothing needs racing through my mind, I decided to plan a rough wardrobe for Sara and use that as a guide. The number of garments grew as I sewed, since I did a few multiples, but here's what I (I mean, she) ended up with:

- 1 pair shorts
- 1 pair capris
- 2 dresses
- 1 sweatshirt
- 4 t-shirts
- 1 summer blouse

Surprise, surprise, I used Ottobre patterns for all but one of the garments.

T-shirt with butterflies and stretch capris.

The red shirt above and the butterfly shirt are both (Ottobre 3-2010-31). I used a very lightweight stretch poplin-like fabric for the capris (Ottobre 3-2009-34), and apparently they're super comfortable, as they've gotten a lot of use so far. The side leg vents (not visible) are a nice feature. They zip on the side.

These interesting front pockets are another nice feature - they might be even more interesting if they were wide enough to be really useable! In a future pair, I'll lower the opening a bit.

And we have another duo top! These random pink knit scraps (from Hobby Lobby ages ago) worked perfectly for "Crystal Lizard Jersey Top" (Ottobre 1-2010-33). I knew she'd hate the shirt because it's pink, but went for it anyway. I noticed she quietly folded her new pink shirt and put it on her sister's dresser. Well, somebody will wear it anyway.

The next shirt is the same pattern, but in a single fabric. It has an elasticated neckline, giving it a peasant dress feel.

Wait, that's not 11 pieces! Stay tuned for the rest....

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Traveler Dress

I've been meaning to make a shirt dress forever, and bought some lightweight denim for one a while back. But the red-and-white seersucker from my stash won out over the denim, partly because it's a lot softer than denim and partly because I have a lot of it and didn't mind using it to test a new pattern.

The Lisette Traveler Dress (Simplicity 2246) is the classic shirt dress (although the pattern includes some variations on the theme).

Once you have the shoulders, fitting this is fairly straightforward since it has no waist shaping. The shoulder is always my nemesis area, though, and every new pattern company I try is a new shoulder-fitting mystery for me to crack.

The sleevecap for this one is tall and narrow with an extra two inches calling for you to ease them into the armscye (everyone's favorite sewing step, right?). I knew right that the shape would never work for me. And that much ease in a loose fitting sleeve is unnecessary. So, using my measuring tape to approximate the sleevecap curve, I drew a shallower, wider sleevecap (straight onto the fabric, eek!), removing the two inches of ease, and stitched them in. Perfect fit!!

Now that I know this pattern fits well, and  holds no mysteries, I think I will try it in the denim.

What do you think of my red belt choice? My husband thinks I look like a swashbuckling pirate. But I don't think pirates wore seersucker...

Saturday, June 15, 2013

State of the Wardrobe Address

Five years ago I began a quest to stitch all my own clothes rather than purchasing them. I didn't have a blog then, and this sort of self-challenge is probably best made quietly in case of abject failure, haha. Notice I haven't made any announcements about eating less chocolate? Right.

Well, as it turns out, purchasing store-bought clothes has a much, much weaker pull on me than chocolate does. In fact, in comparison to the thrill of making my own (and it's worth mentioning: in inverse proportion to my sewing skills) clothes shopping is dull.

Now, at the five-year mark, I thought I'd inventory every stitched item I own and see where I stand. "Every stitched item" includes, well, every stitched item. That means it excludes anything knitted, like socks and sweaters, but includes undergarments, outerwear, swimwear, exercise gear, etc.

What have I purchased in the last five years? 1 coat, 1 jacket, 1 pair of gloves, and underwear (which I wasn't interested in counting).

What have I gotten rid of? I've gradually weeded out and replaced the bulk the casual clothes I wear everyday. My remaining ready-to-wear is a lot of the extraneous stuff and dressy clothes. Many of my handmades have also been weeded out for various reasons; some of them have plain worn out.  Some of my RTW garments are nice, and I don't plan to get rid of them just because I didn't make them.

I was surprised at the percentages I came up with, as I thought I had sewn a greater percentage of my wardrobe than I have. I think my perception was thrown off by the fact that I've sewn most of my casual clothes, the stuff I reach for every morning. Clearly, some more weeding out is in order, as I'm not wearing much of what I own.

Click to make the charts bigger.

Below, I've broken down two of the categories into the sub-categories:

I plan to update the graph in my sidebar periodically.

How long do I aim to continue this madness? Until some other ridiculous challenge tickles my fancy, I suppose.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Stripy Skater Dress

Throwing conventional wisdom to the wind, I have decided to make an entire outfit out of horizontal stripes!

Now, if you want a quick-gratification project, this would be it. I purchased the pattern online, and it was in my email to download instantly (the quickest pdf delivery I've experienced). As for the sewing, it's just about as fast as making a t-shirt.

I make a lot of my knit shirts using my sloper/block because I've tweaked it to death and like the fit pretty well. I've been mulling over modifying that into all variety of t-shirt dresses. So, when I saw this pattern release I did think, "I could just add a skirt to my existing t-shirt pattern." It's true, I could. But I did like the look of this dress and I like to support indie pattern makers the rest is history.

I did muslin the bodice first. I fell in between sizes on the measurement chart and since there's negative ease I  thought it'd be good to make sure there wasn't too much negative ease. And since I always do major shoulder/armscye adjustments, I had to check the baseline.

I made the muslin out of a goofy assortment of knit scraps. When my 9yo daughter saw the "shirt" sitting around the next day, she was scared that I'd made her an ugly shirt.

Amazingly, the shoulder and arms fit perfectly. That never happens, ha! The bodice was too tight, so I cut the next size up for the real thing.

In the end, I was able to make a dress straight from the pattern with no adjustments. Neat.

The fabric: 2 yards cotton/lycra jersey from Chez Ami
The pattern: The Lady Skater (to differentiate it from the girls' skater dress also offered) from Kitschy Coo.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Duo Top and Replacement Pants

I was on the fence about making this top (so many patterns to pursue, you know) but was inspired by Claire's versions to just go for it. Also inspiring was the prospect of using some those half-a-t-shirt-sized knits that like to accumulate.

This is an especially quick top to sew up since the sleeves are cut-on. Both the neckband and sleeve hems have bands. The hip is narrow, to allow the shirt to cling to the pants, creating the draping, slouchy effect.

It was fun to dig through those inconveniently-sized fabrics but, I have to admit, I ended up using one (the red) and creating one (the dots). Luckily one daughter wants a replica of this half-dotted shirt, so I can use it up then.

Oh, and the pants. I made a turquoise pair which suffered a partial waistband removal when I hiked them up from their too-big-waistband-and stretchy fabric-induced slouch position. Through my distress I saw their potential - and I'll be honest, I'd rather sew an entirely new garment than fix an old one - and stitched up a new pair. Yes, they're in a boring khaki twill, and are added to 4 other pairs of khaki capris I have stitched for my wardrobe, but you really never want to come up short on an essential garment, right?

I made two changes, and love them now:
1. doubled the height of the waistband
2. increased the amount of dart taken in the back and took in the waistband slightly.

Those were cheater fixes and I should have created a wider and curved waistband, which was the problem in the first place.

You'll be happy to know, the waistband is staying on the pants. I'm happy, too.

Hair action shot, ha!

Duo Top: Ottobre 2-2013-16
Jay Cropped Pants: Ottobre 2-2012-18

Monday, June 10, 2013


I was in a blogging slump last fall; who knows why? So I've been playing catch-up with a few items that I missed. 

A bright green dirndl with an apron? This ended up being one of those outfits that got worn non-stop until cold hit. I guess it was the perfect combination for a 6 year old of actually wearable clothing and fairy-land attire.

You can see the details better without the apron. It's a basic button-front bodice with a gathered skirt. I faced the neck and armholes with bias tape.

The center front opening extending down a few inches into the skirt into a sort of placket wasn't Burda Magazine's best design feature, in my opinion. It wants to gape horribly because there is no closure. I added some snaps AND a hook and eye, but it still doesn't sit quite right. At least the apron covers that up. If I were to make the dress again, I'd end the placket at the waist, although the dress would be hard to squeeze into because there isn't much waist ease.

I was pleased with how well the print matched on the button placket, but lining up the print on the skirt and bodice didn't happen at all!

Dirndl dress and apron: Burdastyle 9-2010-134

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Warmly Wrapped

Shrugs had never interested me enough to buy or wear one, but the one in Ottobre's 5-2012 issue appealed to me enough that I went to effort of making one!

My local fabric warehouse happened to have a couple of nice sweater knits in colors I liked - that's a rarity. I do buy fabric online, but I'm not willing to take the risk with sweater knits as most of those I run into have a horrible synthetic texture. Well, this one is very soft  and stretchy and it's cream, not stark white. Very nice.

Aside from figuring out how to neatly hem the thing, the sewing effort is not too challenging once you wrap your mind around the layout and construction. 

 I found the sizing to be a bit snug. The arms are very tight (they're overlong and intended to be scrunched up) and it would not be possible to wear this shrug with long-sleeved dress I had intended it for. It works okay with the short-sleeved dress shown here. The photos tell me it's pulling across the back a little. Hopefully it'll relax (stretch) a little with wear. I can't see it, so it doesn't really bother me, anyway, hehe.

The dress is looks very simple since the print is hiding all the details. It has raglan sleeves and pintucks at the neckline. It's an easy-to-wear summer dress. I may go back and give some shape to the side seams.

Shrug: Warmly Wrapped wrap-around Jacket (Ottobre 5-2012-2)
Dress: Lana Knit Dress (Ottobre 5-2010-10)

Friday, June 7, 2013

Papaya Whip

I made this dress almost a year ago, so the pudgy 3 year old is now 4 and lanky in comparison. The dress was all cut out but I didn't get to it until the end of the summer, so unfortunately it didn't get many wears.

I like the simple dress with the bow as the main feature. It's difficult to see in the photo, but the dress also has a center front panel. It's supposed to be lined, but I faced the neck and arm edges instead.

I cut out a new bloomers pattern for this one and was surprised to see how billowy they are! I suppose they'd be cute on a younger toddler, but they're a bit much on a 3 1/2 year old. They're also supposed to be lined and ruffled. Again, simplicity reigned.

Huh, there's a button there!

And lastly, the hat. Luckily this one still fits and will get many more wears over the summer.

The stats:

Fabric: pale pink linen

Dress: Papaya Whip Linen Dress (Ottobre 3-2011-8)
Bloomers: Frilly Ruffle Bloomers (Ottobre 3-2011-7)
Hat: Little Sailor Hat (Ottobre 3-2011-9)

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Three Piece Outfit

I hate to complain, but it's the first week of June, and the weather's still telling me I should be making winter clothes. But I'm resisting and making summer clothes. If summer does show up this year, I want to be prepared.

All three pieces you see here are from the Spring/Summer 2012 issue of Ottobre Woman. They are:

Pearl Jersey Jacket (2-2012-9)
Ramona Jersey Top (2-2012-16)
Jay Cropped Pants (2-2012-18)

Above, you see the the scoop neck t-shirt. The sleeves are gathered vertically with clear elastic. My gathering was hardly noticeable, making my effort pointless. I like the look of the top in the photo, but don't like wearing it. The shoulders are fairly tight and the neckline is loose so, whenever I move, it gapes terribly. It would probably work on someone with different dimensions, but I plan to recast the fabric into a little girls' shirt.

The pants: I did plan the rest of the outfit around the color of these pants! The pants are very slim-fitting, in a negative-ease sort of way. The pattern does call for stretch fabric. Good thing I just happened to use stretch twill, since I tend to read instructions only after the fact!

I like the color and the cropped length of the pants and the fit seemed good. However, when wearing them out and about, the combination of the heavy, stretchy twill, the low-slung waistline, the slightly gape-y waistband and my relative straightness, meant the pants sank lower with every step. In one unfortunate moment, I tried to hike them up again and the waistband ripped right off (in the spot where I was gripping it). Frayed fabric!!!

I don't know if I have the heart to fix them, or if I trust the fabric anymore. BUT I made a new pair with an improved waistband, which I'll show you later.

Now, the jacket. You'll be relieved to hear there's nothing wrong with it. I don't think the magazine photo of it in a pale gray would have appealed to me at all if I hadn't seen a jacket just like it on someone in real life before the pattern was ever published.

It's slimmish across the back and arms, so keep that in mind if you're between sizes or using a less stretchy knit.

I've had a pretty good run with this issue, since I've made 7 things from it and have an 8th cut out.


©2009 21 Wale | by TNB