Saturday, July 5, 2014

Sporty Summer Sewing

There's nothing like the promise of lavish prizes to bring all the sewists out of  the woodwork.  Actually I'm just plagued with such perpetual technological difficulties that it makes blogging a bit of a chore.  I need a new computer but refuse to invest in one while my kids are still such destructive little monsters (if you could see my laptop you'd understand).  Also, boo computers.  I'd rather be sewing.  OR RUNNING!  This post is about a little bit of both.

Even I, in my state of technological deprivation, know about Karen from Did You Make That's Sporty Summer Sewathon and Melissa of Fehr Trade's Spring Race Challenge.  I've already posted the post-first-5K pictures for the Spring Race Challenge, but I wanted a little something extra for the Sporty Summer Sewathon.  As I mentioned before, I purchased an entire yard of the contract fabric with the intention of... well, it was on clearance and that was reason enough.  I thought I might make a matching top, and lo and behold I did!

I finally went out and bought the Sewaholic Renfrew pattern, although this particular version deviates quite a bit from the original pattern.  First and most obviously, there's no bottom band or sleeves.  I added a few inches to the bottom and did a regular twin needle hem (using the amazing sticky double sided hem tape that I will always and forever use when hemming knits from here on out).  Also, I slashed and spread the front piece about an inch and gathered the front neck a little bit.  I like running tops to be a little bit looser fitting (and long!) since the pants are so very, very tight.

This is an awful (and accidental) picture, but it turns out that its the only one where you can kind of see the gathering, just a little bit.  I bound the neckline and armholes with bands of the same fabric.  I scooped out the back a little bit with the intention of having it be a racer back, but it's really not quite scooped out enough.  I like the way it looks, though, and I can wear it with a regular bra.  Win!  

This set is just so matchy, I love it =)

Now for the bad: I really can't wear the top running.  It's some kind of polyester which, while lovely and slinky and cool for normal daily wear, doesn't wick.  Which means I turn into a slippery sweatball when I wear it running.  Oh well, that just means I get to wear it when I'm not running.

Also, proof of how my iPhone 5 looks in the pocket.  Bulging, but secure.  I've run a lot of miles with my phone in that pocket and it's never once even almost fallen out.  Totes brillz.

Speaking of which, I ran my second 5K in these pants as well.  My son's preschool did a 5K fundraiser and I ran the race then my son did the kid's 1K dash.  That's us crossing the finish at the end of the kid's dash.  I assure you I looked much less spry at the end of the 5K.  I don't think that the orange fabric is technically a wicking fabric, but it's super stretchy, just thick enough, and really comfy.  I always wear these pants on my longer runs and the only complaint I can think of is that they tend to shift down over time.  If the legs and the elastic were a little bit tighter that would probably help.

I'm just waiting until I can feel justified splurging on new fabric (which may be a little while as I ahem have bought a bit over the last few weeks) and then I'm going to order some fancy technical knit fabric from Spoonflower.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Me Made May: Week 1

Thursday May 1st: I wore my new poly paisley sleeveless button up shirt, grey Hollyburn skirt, and a hand knit sweater (though it was only for the morning commute; I wore my office sweater at the office and the afternoon was so nice no sweater was necessary).

Friday May 2nd: I wanted to prove that I'm still using my Duathlon capris for running.  These are my new favorite running pants, especially as it gets warmer and I don't need a jacket for running.  The pockets are just the right size to securely hold my iPhone in place.  I ran 3+ miles with my phone in my pocket and it didn't once feel in danger of falling!

My real outfit for the day: I took a sick day to go to (soooo many) doctor's appointments.  It was still kind of nice, so we hit up the playground too.  I wore my Thurlow blue jeans (as yet unblogged), my me-made yellow cardi, and I'm even rocking some me-made So Zo undies (also unblogged).  I made 4 pairs of these undies a little while back and I love them all!  I definitely need to make some more.

Saturday May 3rd: I wore my blue jean Thurlows again (don't judge me please) and a tee I made ages ago.  I love this shirt, even if the neckline is a little stretched out.  I wonder if I could sew on some clear elastic around the shoulders to snap things back into place....

And there you have it; week one completed (albeit a short week).  I'm trying to think more about what I need clothing wise, as opposed to what I want to sew.  It turns out that most of the dresses I made last year don't really fit anymore (which means I've lost a little weight).  This is especially exciting as it means I really need to sew some pretty new dresses.  After all, a wardrobe with all cake and no frosting is almost as bad as one that's all frosting and no cake, right?  Somehow neither of those scenarios really sounds bad, though...

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Spring Race Challenge!

I did it.  I ran a 5K.  And I have Melissa from Fehr Trade to thank for setting the totally brillz Spring Race Challenge.  I've been meaning to sign up for a 5K forever but fear of.. something (running in front of people? social interaction? middle school PE flashbacks?  I don't really know) kept holding me back.  With the gauntlet thrown down, though, I went for it.  I just registered for a race on somewhat familiar turf near my house early in the morning.

The challenge: to complete a race while wearing me made gear.
The race: Top Pot Doughnuts Doughnut Dash.  Yes, there were doughnuts at the finish line.  Yes, that's a trailer with a doughnut on top I'm posing in front of.  Yes, best 5k name ever.
The pattern: Duathlon Shorts by Fehr Trade 
The fabric: Some weird mystery knits from the local fabric store.  The orange is definitely active wear.  The print is some kind of slinky knit.  I may have accidentally bought like a yard extra of the print that will need to become a maxi skirt or a top... I haven't decided yet.  

Not knowing anybody who runs I was on my own on race day.  I would like to profusely thank the nice stranger who snapped this pic for me shortly after I crossed the finish line.  It's not the best picture, but it's proof.  It's a shame you can't really see the pants, cuz obviously it's all about the pants.  Part of the challenge was to actually make exercise gear, which I thought would be really scary.  It's seriously hard to find exercise gear that fits and looks ok and that you actually like.  I won't even mention pockets, because unless you're shelling out the big bucks for Lululemon it's not happening.  And shelling out the big bucks for Lululemon isn't happening for me at this point.  

I made the capri length and even with all the problems I ran into they probably took 2 or 3 hours from start to finish.  Since I had to run to the fabric store before I could finish them, it's kind of hard to gauge, though.  I used this double sided sticky tape (I think it's called Wonder Tape or Magic Tape) on the hem and let me tell you, the name doesn't lie.  That shit is incredible.  The hem looks good even when I'm not wearing them!  Even though I zigzagged everything instead of using a twin needle!!!!!  I have since bought twin needles to replace those that were either lost or broken and forgotten.  The zigzag hem isn't bothering me any, though.

I've been really sick since Easter and am finally getting over this terrible cold.  I almost decided not to run, but in the end I'm glad I did.  I think that it was a lot scarier for me than it needed to be.  I'm already signed up for another 5K for my son's school in June, and I'm seriously thinking about setting some new running goals.  I feel like the next logical step is a 10k, and 6 miles isn't really that far.... right?

Friday, April 25, 2014

A matching set (for the young man on the go)

One day at Goodwill, Django reaches out and grabs this insanely blue corduroy printed with red, green, white, and yellow dogs.  I would never have bought it, because even a pre-schooler would be embarassed to be seen in that, right?  Apparently wrong.  Very wrong.  He insisted that we buy it, so home it came.

The fabric was in great condition, fortunately.  When buying corduroy at Goodwill, be sure to open it up and take a look.  The pile gets smooshed sometimes, especially when they use those crazy pants hangers with the locking bar.  It ends up leaving big lines where the pile is just crushed and it's super visible.  You don't want none of that.  But this fabric was mostly fine and there was plenty of it.

These are (surprise) the Little Heartbreaker Pants from Sewing for Boys.  Again.  IDGAF they're awesome.  I would never dress my son in skinnies so this is really the only pants pattern I need for him.  And, as always, such a great pattern.  He's kind of between the 4/5 and 6/7 sizes right now.  I can't remember if these are 6/7 or if they're lengthened 4/5s.  He's got some of both in his wardrobe right now.  

He can be such a little ham for the camera sometimes.  When he's not running away trying to foil my evil plot to take pictures of him to post on the internet, of course.  As you can see, these pants have seen a lot of wear: the zoo, the playground, school, you name it.  No shame, this kid.  I hope he stays that way.

This is just about the only close up I have of this fabric.  It's even worse than you thought, isn't it?  I had sooo much left after making him pants (and really, what boy needs more than one pair of brightly colored dog pants?) I made him a backpack.  Oh. My. God.  It's just too much isn't it?  That's ok, I don't have any pictures of him wearing both at the same time.  Because that is too much.  At least for me.  I don't think I could handle that much.

I used the Toddler Backpack pattern from Made by Rae.  This was actually a Christmas present so it's been a long time since construction.  I seem to recall that it came together with no problems, though.  I really like the size of this backpack.  All the kid backpacks I've seen in stores are huge for him!  Although he's growing so fast, I definitely think he'll need a bigger one for kindergarten (yikes! I still can't believe that's coming up so soon).  

I lined it with some more of the fish sheet.  That thing just keeps going.  It's become a Henry shirt, one or two pairs of boxers, a number of quilt squares in a few different quilts, and there's still more!  Inserting the lining wasn't nearly as difficult as i expected; the instructions are very clear and the technique is a cinch.  I think I even got it on the first try!

You can see it here filled with lots of Christmas schwag.  I did add a pouch with elastic at the top for his water bottle, which was also a Christmas present.  The straps were made with Kona cotton, the piping I bought pre-made because I'm lazy, and the straps are that stuff they use for bag straps.  The pattern calls for it, but I forget what it's called.  Ahh, there it is: nylon strap, often called "webbing."  

The Boy is already growing out of this backpack, but hopefully his lil' sis won't be opposed to inheriting it.  

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Me Made May 2014

Well, it's that time of year... time for

I swear I've been thinking about this for ages.  For those of you who don't know, you can read all about Me Made May here.  Basically, though, you make a pledge to wear items made by you however often you like (so once a week, every day, or all handmade all the time - it's your challenge!) and then you basically follow along with the rest of the online sewing community while keeping your pledge.  Photographic evidence isn't mandatory, but it is more fun ;-)

I'm to a point now where I do wear a lot of handmade clothes, but still not necessarily every day.  What I would really like to do this Me Made May is pull out some old hand made clothes that don't see as much wear as I'd like.  I'm specifically thinking of a few hand knit sweaters (which it's just about the season for) and some dresses/skirts.  Since I started making pants, there's been a lot of pants wearing around these parts.  I hate to admit it, but I've been wearing pretty much the same things on the same days all the time.  Me Made May should be a good time to shake it up, since I can look back at last week's photos and make sure I'm not wearing the same outfits all over again.

This Me Made May I want to make sure I get some of those beloved pieces out of storage and into rotation, shake up the portion of my wardrobe that I actually wear, and hopefully even catch up on blogging some of my me made clothes.  So, without further ado:

 'I, Nicole of Reloved, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '14. I endeavour to wear at least one handmade item each day for the duration of May 2014, and at least one skirt/dress and one me made sweater per week' 

I can't quite figure out how to phrase it in my pledge, so I'll just tack it on here.  I will not be allowed any outfit repeats per two week period.  So basically if I wore it last week, it's not happening this week!

So have you jumped on the Me Made May crazy train yet?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Completed: Poly Paisley Button Up

Otherwise known as slippery shirt of fraytasticness.  I know, I'm still workin' on the last part.  This is the same pattern I've been working with, I'm going to start calling it "My Express Button Up Shirt pattern."  It's kiiind of a mouthful, but it sounds like it's super speedy to sew (which it's not really, but there's always hope right?)

I'm really looking far too pleased with myself here
The fabric is some ridiculously slippery poly shit that I knew I was going to hate but it's paaaaisleeeey!  So home with me it came.  I must make a full disclosure right now, I don't usually buy fabrics from Joann's because there are some local fabric shops around that I'd rather give my money to.  You know, the kind that let's their employees wear clothes them made instead of some generic uniform and where the staff actually KNOW HOW TO SEW????  Sorry, rant over.  But beyond all the economic arguments, I'm really just usually disappointed in the comparative fabric quality.  That's why it's cheaper, it's not the same stuff.

I mentioned in my last post it's just not short sleeve weather yet
Unfortunately, when I was cutting out I came just short of having enough fabric.  There wasn't enough left to cut the collar.  THE COLLAR!!!!  The single smallest piece of the pattern.  No matter how I turned the scraps, though, I just couldn't fit the four collar pieces on any of them.  And this is not the kind of fabric I'm super comfortable with piecing together (because, again, soooooo slippery).  After a great amount of hemming and hawing I eventually cut the collar piece out of one of the sleeve pieces.  Since this is polyester and warm weather is coming, it's really probably a blessing in disguise.  Maybe.

I have made one very important discovery about button up shirts.  They really need a lot of buttons.  More than I've been using.  Too few buttons = weird gaping.  I actually had to sew a hook and eye at the full bust point on this shirt because I epically failed to get the button situated at the right spot.  Why is that so hard?  It seriously looks like magic though.  What keeps it closed right there?? 

The one major problem that arose with making this shirt sleeveless: I knew there was some excess fabric along the front armhole in my original version, and I tried to remove it, but I came nowhere near taking enough out.  I ended up having to take huge (1.5 inch, so 3 inches removed in total) darts.  And since the front is pieced the way it is, it just looks weird.  There was just no way to make it look ok.  Fortunately this busy-ass fabric totally camouflages pretty much everything.  I think the armhole looks fine from most angles, but yeah, it's shaped kinda weird. Le sigh.

I'm wearing it here tucked into my grey Hollyburn skirt.  I need like a million more of these ASAP, but I don't think I have any suitable fabric on hand.  I'm trying to shop the stash this year, but I keep wanting to make things that I don't have fabric for (Duathlon Shorts, I'm looking at you!).  I just need to sew faster, maybe.  By the way, I know that's a weird derpy face, but I'm pretty sure I'm talking to the dog here.  

In retrospect I think the collar needs some topstitching to stay together.  It's weirdly puffy in a way that interfacing is not helping.  Boo.  Or maybe a nehru collar would've been the way to go?  Speaking of retro.  I'm not sure if it's really bad enough to actually get done though.  It's wearable as is, so I probably won't bother.  There are so many new things to be sewn!

Here it is untucked.  (By the way, this fabric is so shiny it kind of amazes me that it's even fabric as opposed to some kind of metal?)  I've worn it several times now to work and I always tuck it in.  I don't think that the cut of the shirt works with leaving it untucked.  The original shirt was not like this, so I've definitely done fudged it up somewhere.  I need to take width out of the waist/hips and lessen the back curvature (that shit's like impossible to hem as is anyway.  And I thought circle skirts were bad.)

The back cure is pretty low. I'm not sure if I need to bring it up or bring the front down a little.  Maybe a bit of both.  I do like the way it looks here, though, just not so much from the side.  It looks super sloppy.  It does stay tucked in pretty well when I bend down, though, and I assume that's the point.  There's some excess back fabric, but I don't think I'd be able to put my arms in front of me if I took any out, so there it shall stay.

There's that awful side view!  Ugh.  And that's why it's a tuck in shirt.  It's pretty loose through the waist and hips, but that makes it kind of poof out when it's tucked in (which I'm pretty sure is standard?) so I'm not sure how much I should/can take out.  It just needs a little more experimenting.  

I'm getting close with this pattern.  I love that it's just the right style and the fit was already pretty close.  Those are the perks of rubbing off your favorite clothes.  I know that every time I buy a pattern it's the same struggle to get the fit just perfect, so I don't feel discouraged by the imperfect fit.  As a matter of fact, I just want to make about ten more of these right now, all with little variances (sleeve style/length, ease, etc.).  As a matter of fact, I've already got one more to show you and it's my absolute faaavorite button up shirt ever!  Now I just need to get pictures.

And in case you wonder what I'd look like as a farmer, this is pretty much it.

My dad took these pictures and he has a strange sense of humor.

I'm curious, where do you stand on buying vs. making your own patterns?  Do you always go one way or the other?

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter!

So I'm pretty sure it's been about a million years since my last post.  Life and stuff..  You know how it goes.  Since Me Made May is coming, though, it's time to get back in the swing of things.  Here I am posting Baby Girl's Easter dress ON EASTER!!!  I must be turning over a new leaf ;-)

I basically drafted this dress based off of an existing vintage shirt pattern (which is the one I've used to make her several shirts already, I just forget the number and am too lazy to look it up).  Apparently that new leaf business was short lived.  I lengthened the front bodice piece and adjusted the back to be made from two pieces instead of one like the original pattern.  The skirt is, well, it's pretty much three gathered rectangles so there's not much to say about that.  I also changed it from a button back to a zip.  That's right!  It's still the year of the zipper around here.  I also widened the bodice pieces a little bit.  The neck on the original pattern was kind of tight and narrow so this helped make the neck wider (and hopefully it will fit her this summer).

I drafted new short gathered sleeves.  They're not terribly poofy, but there's gathering at the sleeve cap and also the arm is gathered into contrast bands, made from the same fabric as the skirt obvs.  I kind of wish I'd cut the bands either on the bias or so that the stripes ran up and down.  As it is only one color shows and it doesn't really look like it matches the skirt.

The pink fabric is from an old dress my mom gave me.  I'm not really sure what her issue was with it, but it's so pink and I love it!  The bodice had this lovely floral embroidery and buttons.  Strangely, it was hard to cut out even these tiny little pieces because the neckline on the original dress was really low.  I have the entire huge gathered skirt left and I love it and I can't decide what to make out of it.  I could do a gathered skirt, but I've owned one in my entire life and I hate it.  I've never even worn it. I don't think I like gathered skirts on me.  What's more likely is another button up shirt.  It's just the same weight as the inspiration shirt and i think it would be gorgeous.

The striped fabric is a thrifted sheet I bought with the intention of making.... ???  I have no recollection of why i bought it other than it's pink(ish) and the stripes are kinda cool.  I really want to use the rest to make myself some more PJ shorts, but the practical side of my brain says i should probably make Baby Girl some more clothes with it since she'll be needing summer clothes soon (hopefully).

As you can see, it's not quite short sleeve weather here yet...  But I can feel it creeping up!  I've got so many ideas of clothes I want to make for summer, but the cold weather is really putting a damper on that.  I'm not one to make an item of clothing I won't be able to wear right away.  I'm not that patient.

She was pretty much all business once she found that huge sucker.  No, she didn't finish it.  If she had I'm sure we'd all be in the ER right now instead of hanging out at home nursing terrible sugar hangovers.  I feel kind of awful that the Boy didn't get a new outfit for Easter, but he didn't really seem to care.  At all.  Umm.  Hello?  Easter is about candy, not new clothes.  I did manage to dress him in me made LHBs and his dino sweater, and he seemed pretty happy with that.

I hope you all had a lovely day with not too many tummy aches =)

Monday, March 17, 2014

Completed: Orange-You-Glad Button Up

The full name has to be the "orange you glad it's not another pair of Thurlows" button up shirt.  Not that you're really happy that it's not another pair of Thurlows because, honestly, how could you ever get tired of the genius that is the Thurlow pattern.  Moving on, though.

I've been exceedingly jealous of all the lovely Archer shirts popping up all over the place... unfortunately the cut of the pattern is just not my style.  I need a slightly more fitted (or perhaps shapely is the word) button up.  Boxy clothes make me look, well, really boxy.  No bueno.

The ratio of handmade bottoms to tops in my wardrobe is beginning to spiral out of control.  The sad truth is that it isn't the result of an excess of serviceable RTW, but rather of finding and falling in love with the Thurlow and Hollyburn patterns.  The problem with tops is that I just can't find a pattern that I like.  I tried modifying the Darling Ranges dress to be a top, but honestly it's just so low cut and raising the neckline is tricky.  Then I tried some godawful big 5 pattern and you never saw the result (for very good reason).  I seem to recall a Seinfeld episode featuring that pattern...  Can anybody guess which one?

I think the real crux of the matter is that I have an impossible time finding button up shirts that I like.  In my entire life I have found two that I liked.  One was a white button up with 3/4 sleeves from Van Heusen (come to think of it, where the hell did that shirt go anyway?) and the other is a black long sleeve button up from Express.  Since, obviously, the Van Heusen top is long gone, I used the black Express top for inspiration.

I bought Pattern Making for a Perfect Fit aaaages ago.  Before I even knew much about sewing, to be perfectly honest.   I thought it was a really cool idea, and it is... but there was just so much in the book that was beyond my realm of knowledge.  Seam finishes?  Interfacing?  What da whaaa?  Of course that was a long time ago and when I picked the book back up (specifically for this project) it all made a lot more sense.  I've got a lot more techniques under my belt and have even tackled a placket or two.

 I don't have the same set up (nor am I prepared either spatially or financially to set up) for pattern tracing.  Instead I laid down my big roll poly tracing stuff (sorry to get all technical on ya there) on an overstuffed ottoman, laid the shirt on top of that, pinned, and sort of traced around the pieces one at a time.  It worked out pretty well.  Then, of course, I had to go in and add seam allowances.

The construction of this shirt is interesting.  Each front is made of three pieces: a yoke, a center front piece, and a side front piece.  The back also has a yoke, a center back piece cut on the fold, and side back pieces.  It's like partial princess seams and I think it works really well to give the shirt shaping without the harsh look sometimes afforded by darts (not to mention awkward dart pointage, ewww).  The original shirt had pockets covering up the point where the three front pieces meet, but I didn't bother with this version as it's a "wearable muslin" if you will.

I did have a few minor problems.  I need to lower and wide the full bust about a half inch... other than that I had a little trouble with the hem. Mostly just the center back.

That just might not steam out.  It actually borders on a high/low hem in real life.  The shirt looks great tucked in, though, so I'm not too worried.  I will raise the center hem just a smidge on my next version though.  The original version has this same shape of hem, I just traced it off.  All the curves made it surprisingly difficult to actually hem.  I think that might be part of the back problem you see here.  It's just too much fabric being sewn to too little.

The single biggest problem i had with the shirt is almost too embarrassing to share, but what the hell, here it goes.  I flatfelled every single seam in the body... only to sew the sleeves on inside out.  When I realized my mistake I just didn't have the heart to rip them off. Besides, the collar seems to sit better inside out so I just zigzagged the seam and left it that way.  As a result, though this is what my seams look like.

Le sigh... So close.  This is one of those strange little details, though, that I daresay no one is likely to notice.  Design feature?  I originally thought the inspiration shirt had flatfelled seams, only to find upon closer inspection that the seams were actually serged and then topstitched down to look like of like flatfelled seams.  Which means, really, this is closer to what the original shirt looks like.  Still... just no.  I may have also had a little accident when i was opening up the buttonholes...

Yikes!  It's Frankenshirt!  Oh well, at least it'll always be hidden under a button.  You can see how awful the stitching on the placket looks, but again: that was supposed to be inside!

Still, with all it's foibles I'm ridiculously proud of this shirt.  This is by far the most complicated thing I've ever made without a pattern (a real pattern, with instructions and stuff).  I was really confused about where the collar interfacing went and I'm 100% sure that's not how it goes, but I don't care. It lays pretty well when i'm wearing it.  Oh, and check out my cuffs...

Very sharp.  The sleeve has two pieces, which I think is weird.  I don't know if I'll stick with that on future versions or not.  It does make that slit very easy, though.  I'm still mulling over how to make it look more RTW with all the little details and seam finishes.

Fabric: Thrifted sheet
Pattern: My own
Notions: Interfacing, buttons
Changes: To be made in future versions
Final thoughts: I'm very happy with this pattern.  It needs a little tweaking, but I'm ready to work on it.  I definitely need more tops!