Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Super Online Sewing Match: Community Match Sutton Blouse

As many of you will know, Sew Mama Sew recently started up it's Super Online Sewing Match II. They had done the first SOSM two years ago and I missed the audition deadline. As a result I participated in the community match portion of the contest and I had a great time.

When I discovered that they were doing this contest again I immediately auditioned. Sadly I was not chosen as a contestant, however that does not mean that I will not be participating. Much like last time I look forward to joining the community match and participating along with the contestants as they start this journey.

The first project for the contestants is the Sutton Blouse from True Bias. Most amazing thing about this blouse? The designer is the previous winner of the SOSM! How awesome is that?

Now I have to be honest and admit that the Sutton is not my typical make. I tend to like my garments incredibly fitted, with more of a vintage feel. But I wanted to take a page out of Kelli from True Bias's book and look at this as an opportunity to make the pattern my own. One of the most consistent comments on her work in the first SOSM was that she took the challenge, embraced it, and then flipped it. Challenge accepted.

I started, as one must with a PDF pattern, I printed it and taped it together. I cut out the size 10 which was actually smaller than recommended based on my measurements, but in hindsight I think that I would probably make an 8 when I make this top again.

I used a solid cream colored crepe which measured 60" wide and allowed me to use a little over a yard of fabric. Cutting is where I made my first alteration. This blouse has a pair of side slits and the back hangs a little lower than in the front. I really wanted a my version to just be a straight across hem with no side slit, so I measured the side seams and subtracted the difference from the bottom of the back piece. Boom! Even hem.

Once I marked my pattern I then carefully pinned my fabric together before cutting. I don't usually do this but to use a highly technical term, my fabric as super "woodgey" and I wanted to make sure that the pieces didn't get distorted when I cut them out.

The first thing I did with this blouse was to stay stitch the neck edge. This is super important. By stay stitching the neck edge you help to make sure that it doesn't stretch when you sew and handle it. The neck edge is finished with bias, so that is not really going to help with the structure. That is another reason that stay stitching is so important.

After the stay stitching I applied the bias to the neck edge, under stitched it and the top stitched it down. Once that was accomplished it was time to french seam. 

Here is what I would like to say about french seams.
  1. They are not as hard as you think. I know I hear "french" and I think, ooh fancy. While they are fancy (you will feel fancy wearing them) they are not super difficult as long as you follow the steps. (Kelli details the process very well in her pattern if you are new to them.)
  2. TRIM. YOUR. SEAM ALLOWANCE! I know all caps is harsh but when she says to trim your first seam allowance down from 1/4" to 1/8", she is not joking. By trimming it and then sewing you reduce the likelihood that little strings from the fraying edge of your fabric will not try to escape the front of your seam.
  3. Press the living daylights out of the thing. Really pressing it helps so much. you will be glad that you did. 

 Trimming my first seam from 1/4" to 1/8"

Pressed my seam post trimming.

When you are working with "woodgey" or shifty fabric like I was sometimes you need to pin for your life, because no matter how much you press, it can jack your junk up once it goes through that machine.

Pinning for the stars.

Now, my biggest alteration. Knowing that I like a good fitted blouse, I decided to add five rows of shirring to the back of the garment. You may be asking yourself, "but Caroline how did you know where to put the shirring?". Well dear readers I will tell you. In looking at the pattern I noticed that the Lengthen/Shorten line sat just about on the natural waist. So only on the back pattern piece, I marked that line and with elastic thread hand wound in my bobbin and my stitch length set at 4 I stitched along that marked line while holding the tails of the thread. ***It is important with shirring to leave long tails and then thoroughly stitch them down so that they don't pull out.*** 

After the first row I just lined up my presser foot with that row and stitched straight across four more times. It gave me these neat rows of shirring at a back waist detail and some beautiful fullness. You will need to stretch the previous rows so you make sure the row you're working on goes in straight and smooth, only cinching and gathering when you release it.

Once the shirring was done it was easy breazy. Doing away with the slits and making the hem even the whole way around I was able to do french seams on the side seams and then I just top stitched my hem in and I had a blouse!

However in looking at it I realized that I wanted the gathered effect of the shirring to be mimicked somewhere else in the blouse. So I decided to do an elasticated pickup at the sleeve of the blouse. I put the blouse on and marked where I wanted the gethering to stop and start. I took the blouse off and marked that line. I then cut a piece of 1/4" elastic half the total distance I was spanning. I pinned the elastic at the starting and stopping points and then I used a narrow zigzag stitch to sew it in. Then my blouse was done and looking great!

Here is what it looks like inside out with all of the beautiful french seaming.

Last but not least, here is the lady in action. This is the second time I've worn her since I finished her up last Friday. She's a beauty and went together in about 4 hours once I cut it out. I like it, I love it, and I'm gonna need some more of it.

In the end I am happy with the alterations I made and I think that with the shirring the blouse has the vintage feel that I needed. I will certainly make another.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

2015 Outfit A Long

I saw a post on Lladybird a little over a month ago. It was the the first time I had ever heard of an outfit a long before. It meant sewing a dress and knitting a sweater in two months time. I was immediately intrigued and excited about the idea of it. There was only one thing that was troubling about the idea, I have never finished a sweater completely. I have started them and even come to the point of just needing to block them and then not gone through the final step. I knew that if were going to do this I had to really commit.

The dress pattern was McCall's 6887 and the sweater pattern was Vianne, Vianne is the newest pattern from Knitting designer Andi Satterlund. I've seen some of Andi's patterns before and I've loved them but the Vianne is far and away my favorite. Once I saw the sweater option I was done, I knew I needed to make this dress and sweater. I began with the sweater first because I knew it would take the most time.

The yarn I chose was Madelinetosh Sport in a color called Plunge which is not on her website. I found it at my local knittery The Knitters Edge in Bethlehem, PA. (One of the most amazing yarn stores, with the most amazing and helpful staff). I bought my pattern, bought my yarn, and set up my knit picks interchangeable needles and got started.

I'm not going to lie to you I knit parts of this thing and took it apart many times. The back was especially difficult, I kept thinking that I was on the right track and I'd be suddenly off a stitch and it would be all jacked up. I took it apart many many times until finally, I stopped messing up and did it right. I had a similar experience with one of the sleeves and took it out once and started over. It came out well but it was a little ill fitting, stretched out a little through the bust and a little tight through the waist.

I was amazed when I finally finished it. However once I'd finished it I had to do something I'd never done before. I had to block a sweater. Ahhhhhh! I will tell you true I did it once and it did not go at all well. I just kind of pinned it how I thought it should look and not by measure.

It was less than successful. It became stretched out and weirdly shaped. I was panicked that I had just ruined all my hard work and that beautiful yarn.

I cooled my nerves for a minute and took a breath. Put the sweater back in the warm water and took another crack at it. This time I pinned it out based on the finished measurements in the pattern. Even in the picture of it repinned it looks 100% better. I will tell you that it was 100% better.

While my sweater was letting itself dry into proper shape I moved on to the matching dress. The pattern was right up my alley. Vintage silhouette with a modern twist. It went together really quickly, though I did make a few tweaks. The major alteration that I made was adding an extra button to the center back and rather than machine buttonholes I did bound buttonholes. Now the reason for this was two fold. 1) I think they look wonderful. 2) My machine which does machine buttonholes was broken. So it was for both necessity and beauty.

I interfaced the back edge as prescribed for the machine buttonholes. I marked the rectangles for the buttonholes on the interfacing.

I then pinned the squares of fabric that I cut to be the welts of the buttonholes, right sides together, and then sewed them from the interfaced side where I'd marked them.

I turned the squares to the inside and began to folded them towards the center of the rectangles to create the flaps of the buttonholes. Then I stitched them down at the edges.

They turned nicely and stitched down well.

I'm pleased with how they turned out.

I worked the pattern pretty much as prescribed from this point forward. It was too difficult to fit the bodice before it was attached to the skirt and parts of the bodice were too difficult to fit after. There are some changes I will make when I make this again. For my shortness I definitely need to raise the straps, but that was not the biggest problem.

The main issue I ran into was the princess seaming on front bust. I know I have an ample bust and based on my measurements I needed to make the D cup version of the bodice. I did and I think it was the right choice, but I found that the seam created a very pointed bust. I mean I almost need a torpedo bra straight out of the 1950's to fill out the curve of the seaming properly. In the future I will gentle that curve so that it hugs my bustline a little better.

You can see it on the form that there is some excess fullness in the bust and underbust.

One of the last things I needed to do was to stitch the lining up to enclose the seams  of the skirt. I found it easier to put the dress on my form and to pin the lining closed. I found that this helped me to ensure that I didn't pull the lining closed too tight or too loose.

Another addition I made was to add these bra loops on the back of the band in the back. I thought they'd be great but my bra pulls it funny. I think that the next time I make this I will lower the band by at least an inch to give better coverage for my bra. I hate when it pokes out.

I love this outfit, I'm particularly proud of the sweater. I didn't honestly know I had it in me. I had taken better finished shots of me in my outfit but I accidently broke my SD card before I could load them up. Boo.... But I did take some iPhone selfies and a few pictures of my beauty on my dress form.

And finally the finished product on the lady herself.

Puppy Photobomb.

The two things that I love most about this dress is that you can see my tattoos in the back and the swish and sway of the skirt. It really has a marvelous kick to it and the shorter version is utter perfection. I will absolutely be making both of these items again!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Rockie's T-Shirt Photoshoot

Mary and I did this photo shoot weeks ago before it was unbearably hot. We had a lot of fun doing it. I just love this shirt and I would have to say that it photographed nicely.

This is one of the most comfortable things I've ever made. I have the fabric and now I just need to make the next one.