Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Grecian Skater

(Woohoo! This is my 400th post!)

When I stitched up my prototype Lady Skater Dress, this sleeveless cowl-neck version was already jumping around in my mind. So, I made it.

 The fit is different due to the fabric - a plain old jersey instead of a beefy lycra jersey with lots of recovery. This jersey wanted to hang, so I ended up raising the waist seam an inch, and could have gone with more.

I drafted the cowl a while ago to use with some tops and just stole it for this dress. In retrospect, I really wish I had made a more dramatic cowl.

The armholes were a little gapy, so I did something I've never done before: I finished them with FOE, using the technique you would use to face with bias tape, except I stretched the FOE ever so slightly to just barely snug in the armhole.

I left the inside edge of the cowl raw, but how to finish the back neckline? In previous tops, I actually made the back neckline cowled, too. But here, I wanted a simple back neckline. Usually I would coverstich a simple hem like this, but I always feel a narrow neckline "hem" is more likely to flip out than a pant or skirt hem, revealing the less-than-appealing coverstitching.

So, I decided to finish this with FOE, as with the armholes. FOE works perfectly here because it's stretchy (if you want to gather it) and it stabilizes the fabric so you can use your regular needle. Awesome.

In this case, I cut the FOE to the exact length of the back neckline. In the photos below, I'll show you the FOE finish, plus how I enclosed the shoulder seams in the cowl.

1. Pin and stitch the FOE to the right side of the neckline. Stitch about 1/8" from the edge. (Pinning is optional - I actually took the pins out after I took this photo.) 

2. Press the FOE out. Then press it over to the inside, creating a clean, smooth edge. 

3. Stitch the free edge of the FOE down (from either the right side or the wrong side). 

4. Lay out your front bodice with cowl, right side up.

 5. Find the lower leg of the v-shape. This is the shoulder. Pin the back bodice shoulder to the front bodice shoulder right sides together.

6. Fold the upper leg of the v down over the shoulder edge, carefully aligning the edges. Re-pin.

7. Stitch. I serged here, but I machine-stitched my other shoulder, to get closer to the edge, which is better for when you do the next step:

8. Turn the shoulder pieces right side out.

9. Repeat for the other shoulder.

If you want to try your hand at drafting and changing patterns, I highly recommend Make Your Own Dress Patterns by Adele Margolis. I probably learned more from this book than any other sewing book. It's inexpensive and gives you the tools to do drafting all the way from scratch, or to just change up patterns when the fancy strikes.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Tankini Time

With swimming lessons and a trip to the family (in-laws') lake cabin looming, I knew I had to get cracking on  some swimwear. Both are now past (phew! swimming lessons with 5 kids are a chore and a half); worm holes are always stealing my time.

I still do buy some of my kids' clothes (seriously, I don't have THAT much time!), but the girls' swimwear available in the stores appeals to me very little, especially when I know I can make it cheaper.

And when I make it, my girls can be super picky. Trust me, they totally take it for granted that they can have custom designed swimwear - or any clothing!

I bought a NEW swimsuit pattern (Jalie 3023) for variety and because I plan to use this one (or a variant of it) for myself. The oldest girl was sure to like the tank top. However, neither regular swim bottoms, nor a swim skirt (the horrors!) were okay with her. The only thing she could see herself wearing were swim shorts.

So I slept on it. I could use a legging pattern, but what do I do about the lining piece? Hmm... Then I remembered the unitard pattern I've used (Jalie 3138). Aha! I'll use the bottom piece of the unitard and attach the swim skirt waistband to it. It worked perfectly. (See above.) The shorts are entirely symmetrical, meaning the front and back are the same, but it works all the same.

For a detail photo of the unique crotch lining piece, look here at one of the unitards I made previously.

The swim skirts are very cute and I did get to make some for the little girls. There is a contrasting wide waistband, which you can't really see here.

How about the fit? Other reviewers of the pattern did mention the tendency of the front yoke to gape, especially when wet. I found this to be true - but made worse by poor posture or scrawniness.

On two of Sara's (below) suits, I added a little elastic at the top edge, but that wasn't the right solution, as it gathers the fabric but doesn't snug it inward. Next time, I'll try stretching the yoke width-wise when attaching it. Either way, the gaping isn't all that bad. Always striving for perfection, right?

Otherwise, the fit is great. I think all 3 girls are skinnier than the pattern indicates for their size (by height), so there's a little additional ease in the tops.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Japanese Peasant Dress

This turquoise gauze came home with me 2 years ago after our visit to Thunder Bay. Pressed for time, we didn't see much of the city, but did manage to hit the most important attractions: Pita Pit (yum), Fort William, and Fabricland, of course!

Gauze has this amazing ability to stretch to 5 times its size. Neat. Except when you're trying to cut a pattern.

I chose a simple peasant dress pattern from Home Couture for Girls by Machiko Kayaki. It's an oldish book - I think from 1999 - but the patterns are fairly classic and basic and you can still find it for sale online.

Now the instructions are extremely minimal, not to mention in Japanese, but the pictures are sufficient - especially for this simple dress. I believe the little chart you see on the page below is meant to show elastic lengths.

The pattern wanted me to sew separate elastic casings to stitch to the garment, but I just extended the appropriate pieces to do a foldover casing (like, uh, normal).

When my model tried on her dress it was clear that I had actually made a giant nightgown! So I kept adding details hoping to make it look like a dress: a tie at the neck, elastic at the empire waistline, and some owl trim at the hem. Much improved.

Minimal step-by-step instructions. 

Construction illustrations. 

The pattern sheet. The pattern number and piece name (front, back, etc.) are indicated in the margins.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

11-piece wardrobe, part 2

 Part 1 of this summer wardrobe is here.

I had fun making this little wardrobe. Sara has been wearing the capri pants and t-shirts a ton; the dresses and sweatshirt less so. She wears the dresses under duress, but I figure she should have a choice when she does wear them.

I used this turquoise sweatshirt fleece for a sweatshirt for me and sweatpants for girl #2, so I see it around a lot. I think there's enough for on more garment, hopefully to be stitched before turquoise becomes the equivalent of hunter green (loved it in the 90's, never see it now).

I had enough of the fabric from her t-shirt to line the hood. That kind of matchy-matchy is available only at Chez 21 Wale and other hand-stitched boutiques, I think!

I cinched the hood hem with some elastic and I especially like the gathered pockets.

The sweatshirt is Montparnasse Hooded Sweat Jacket (Ottobre 4-2010-28). It comes in two lengths, of which I made the longer version. I'm glad I did since it looks almost cropped on her. The shorter version ends at about the bottom of the pockets.

Her increasingly messy hair is testimony to the fact that I had her model all the pieces from her new wardrobe in one shot. 

Since I'm doing some stash-busting, I had the idea of some simple summer tops to use some of that quilting cotton. Sara chose this print.

The magazine shows this pattern (Ruska Raglan Sleeve Blouse Ottobre 4-2008-17) as a winter top, layered over a long sleeve tee. I took that to mean it'd have a little more ease than usual, but it turned out much roomier than expected. This may have to be reserved for cooler weather, since she's not keen on how it fits.

It has some interesting details, though: cuffs, gathered neckline, and elasticated, curved hem.

I made this t-shirt dress once before, so I knew it fit Sara pretty well. I made one change, per request: to eliminate the pleats on the sleeve hems - apparently they were scratchy. So, I just gathered those lightly with elastic. The result looks much better, anyway.

You can see there's some shaping in the back. It's not required in this case, but this pattern goes all the way up to size 170cm.

Pattern: Nana Knit Dress (Ottobre 6-2008-37).


©2009 21 Wale | by TNB