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!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Completed: Quilted Sewing Kit

Ok, let's get real here for a second.  Is there anybody out there who sews or knits who doesn't have some obscenely large collection of scraps shoved in some dark corner somewhere?  That's my goal.  To have them all fit in one corner.  Ugh.  So.many.scraps.  And I'm really not feeling up to a whole quilt right now.  So I'm trying to think of smaller projects that can utilize piecing/quilting that maybe I can even try out some new techniques on.

TRIANGLES!!!  Do you see that?!  Are you impressed?  No?  Well, don't be.  My squares came out crazy wonky and I had to cut them down to a size.  Le sigh...

However subpar my quilting might be, I'm still overly proud of the outside of this sewing kit.  It's sooo hard to sew triangles together!  They stretch.  Boo.  Even though there was some <ahem> evening of the squares I think they look really nice.  I'd love to have a whole quilt done in this pattern in shades of pink, but I don't know that it'll ever happen.  I do have more, slightly larger triangles cut out and I've started sewing them together.  I'd like to either make some market bags or a quilt like this.  I can't seem to link to the site directly atm, but I've viewed the page and the quilt is sooo pretty.  

The inside is pretty cute as well... continuing with the pink theme, obviously.  I mostly followed this tutorial, but my pieces ended up much smaller and my scissors ended up slightly larger so I had to improvise.  By the way, I thought that was wool felt but my iron disagreed.  Be advised that your long piece of felt can easily become one small, square, thick one.  You've been warned.  

The only real problem I have with this kit is that things won't stay in the vertical pockets (the ones facing the open edge).  So the scissors and my seam rippers are always falling out.  I have a few simple ideas on how to fix this but obviously can't be arsed as I haven't done it yet.  I'm also not quite convinced about the spools of thread on the ribbon....  I usually use whatever I have left on the bobbin for handstitching and that seems a lot more portable to me.

I'm just really psyched to have pieced together something other than squares for a change.  FTW!  And just look how tiny it wraps up to be. 

 I definitely love the idea of this little sewing kit, now I just need to figure out how useful it really is (before I start thinking about making more, as I am so wont to do when I finish a project).  At least it used up some scraps and was pretty quick.  I used to use an empty (clean) glass peanut butter jar with the lid on as a sewing kit.  I liked it because I could throw the buttons, thread, needle, pins and even a tiny pair of scissors in without worrying about anything falling out (or anyone stepping on a stray needle, yeowch!).  I'm curious, what do you use as your sewing kit?  

Monday, March 3, 2014

Completed: Denim Thurlows

I really like this pattern.  A lot.  I feel like Sewaholic kind of specializes in basic, everyday wardrobe pieces (or "cake" if you will).  Which is really just fine with me because, no matter how much I may love fancy dresses, they just don't really fit my lifestyle.  I'm not planning on giving up on making dresses just yet (as a matter of fact I'm lurking on the Emery dress pretty hard right now), but I would like to have a handmade wardrobe that fits my lifestyle better than a closet full of dresses.

One of the tricky things about pants is that they can be rather expensive to muslin (or so I thought).  I ended up finding the black mystery fabric I used for my first pair of Thurlows dirt cheap at Goodwill, thereby allowing me to save this denim bought at Joann's for a second, less unpredictable pair.  

Before we can go any further I have to mention one thing.  I don't like buying fabric at Joann's.  I am just perpetually disappointed in the product I end up with.  I know it's cheap, but I always find myself at the end of a few washes saying "Oooh, so that's why it was so cheap."  In general I think it's a better investment to start off with fabric that you can have a little faith in surviving the wash.

See?  See the sagging?  It's a dark denim which means it's kind of hard to get pictures, but take my word for it: every part of these pants stretch and sag something awful.  

Now for the other thing I must mention.  I fucked up.  So bad.  I've spent a lot of time sewing with unconventional fabrics; sheets, fabric from Goodwill in strange cuts without selvages.  So I never really learned which way the grain runs.  Whoops.  Guess what?  It runs the opposite direction.  On the bright side, I'm pretty sure this is one of those lessons that will stick with me.  Aaaand at least the denim was crazy cheap.  

I think for future iterations of the Thurlow pattern I will make a few changes to the legs.  I really like how the top part fits (and even if I didn't, awesomely clever last minute adjustment opportunity!).  I may need them to be a little bit more flared.  Maybe not on future work pants, but I'd like to try another (better) denim pair with wider legs.  I may or may not already have the denim, as a matter of fact...

This denim also unravels like... well, like cheap denim.  I'm not feeling terribly clever just at this moment, obviously.  I did line the waistband and pockets with this cute ivory and beige polka dot fabric.  The polka dots are actually embroidered on.  The fabric was reclaimed from a men's shirt turned maternity top and I just loved the fabric too much to throw it out but there wasn't really enough of it to do much with.  Also: bright green zipper!  =)

See that massive unravelling happening?  WTF.  I was so careful with my corners on those welt pockets, but apparently not careful enough!  They looked so nice up until they were worn/washed a few times, too = (

Le sigh.  Let's try and be positive, though, shall we?  I feel like these pants were a learning experience and they are more than comfy enough to kick around the house in.  And maybe I can restitch the corners on the welt pockets....  It's probably worth a shot!

Spoiler alert: Thurlows version 3 turned out much better than version 2!