Thursday, March 24, 2016

Back in the Saddle..

 As spring break is now upon us, I will be escaping my winter den and hitting the road toward warmer climates. This means many, many hours spent in the car over the course of the next week.

Being an old hand at these road-tripping adventures means that I was looking for a solution to the lower lumbar ache that starts to pain me about 6 hours into driving. As per usual, I waited until a few days before scheduled departure to finally tackle this item on my "To Do" list. ;)
 Fortunately, I didn't have to search for a pattern since I remembered a post that Sue at Fadanista put up a month or so ago. She had made some triangular neck pillows for her family to use while camping, and I thought they looked perfect for my back needs.
 The original pattern is offered for free at the Sew4Home website, and it only requires 4 pieces. This is a great scrap-busting project, and the fabric type is very flexible. I used quilting cotton on mine because I have LOADS of it.
 These things are SOOOO fast and easy. I actually made 5 of them in an afternoon (most of the time was spent choosing fabrics), and I have already given 2 of them away to other back-problem-sufferers.
After the first pillow, I chose to omit the ribbon handles. I couldn't really figure out their purpose, and the gals in one of my Facebook groups assured my that they weren't necessary. I also played with the amount of stuffing and found that the plump, over-stuffed amount of fill is perfect for my back. My favorite projects are the ones that are easy to customize and only take a few hours.

Time to hit the road!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Bohemian Rhapsody

 Last week, while I was wasting my life away on Pinterest, this super-sweet video tutorial done by Rin from Sew In Love popped up in my feed. As soon as I saw the "Boho Kimono" title, I was hooked. I own exactly ZERO peasant-style tops, and the pattern looked too easy for me to pass up. I mean, I only had to cut out 4 rectangles and 2 trapezoids!

Rin's version is a dress, but I really just wanted a sheer top for layering in the summer. According to the video, any "drapey" fabric will do for this, so I pulled from my stash and got to work.
I am convinced that sheer fabric is manufactured using THE SCREAMS OF FRIGHTENED CHILDREN, because this stuff is NIGHTMARE FUEL! As soon as I had cut the first 2 rectangles, I knew that I was in trouble. I used a straight edge and a rotary cutter, yet my rectangles looked more like drunktangles. What was happening???

Sheer fabric may be "drapey," but I quickly learned that it does not have the stability, or the stretch, for this project. I powered through it, but I have to admit that it almost got wadded at least a dozen times. The final result is not at all what I had hoped for in fit, and instead of taking it apart, I grabbed some ITY knit and tried again.
 I also made a few changes to the original tutorial instructions. I appreciate that Rin was laying it out so that beginners could put this together, but there were a few things that made me cringe as an intermediate.
#1 - I got rid of the casing for the elastic, and just sewed it directly to the underbust seam.
#2 - The seam allowances were all constructed at 3/8"
#3 - I hemmed the sleeves and neck opening LAST so that the edges looked more finished.
 The original pattern also calls for a waist tie that I excluded from both garments. I just didn't see the point of it when there is already elastic in there.

The ITY performed like a champ on this project, and it would have been a total home run except for that fact that I ignored my machine manual and used crap thread in my twin needle during hemming. So, I have some awkward stitchery happening that I am too lazy to pull out. Regardless of that, this is a very comfortable and wearable knit top. I wish that the sheer had worked out better, but I learned a valuable lesson about working with that fabric, so it was not a complete loss.  

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

What Dreams Are Made Of....

I recently came across a photo in a catalog of THE COOLEST TOP EVER, and I knew I needed it immediately. But, when I went to the website and saw the price for this SHIRT OF MY FANTASIES, I balked a little. $64!? Come on, now. I mean, it's cute, but it's not THAT cute.

 Yes it is that cute.  Thankfully, I found a pattern in my bottomless pit of patterns that I thought would work for a "similar" design. I mean, I'm not really copying the style...just, you know, using it as inspiration.
 I was fortunate to unearth some kinda, sorta coordinating fabric in my knit stash and I whipped out this beauty in a fairly short amount of time.
 The only obstacles that I ran into were with the pattern measurements. The sleeve was about 8" too long even before I added the cuff length, so that got sized down right quick. And, the pattern piece for the collar ribbing was made for doll heads. Like, Barbie doll heads. I actually had to make sure that I didn't accidentally cut out the cuff pattern. Nope, sure didn't. I decided to wing it on the neckline. :)
 Also, I may have accidentally cut the one sleeve backwards...which definitely matters in a raglan top. Whoops. Cut a new one, and now I have an orphan sleeve hanging out in my fabric stash. :(
Ultimately, I LOVE LOVE LOVE this top. It is lightweight and perfect for spring hiking or bike riding. And, it cost me $0!! Is it as cute as the "inspiration piece"? No, but I have the muslin made for future tops using more exciting fabric. So, ha!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Susie Homemaker

Aprons, man.
Living in a major city near dozens of thrift stores for most of my life, I had no appreciation for the utility of a kitchen apron. Why put on another article of clothing before I cook, when I could just replace my tomato-sauce-stained t-shirts at the local thrift for less than $1? It didn't make sense. But, now that I live out in the boonies where thrift stores are scarce and clothes are expensive, I get it. So, when I finally stumbled upon this "tutorial" for a "Flirty Apron," I dove into it with gusto!

 The red apron was my first experience following the measurements and instructions provided to me. The belt straps were insanely long, the pocket doesn't really make sense on the front (and it is way too big to be practical), and that bottom ruffle is just not my style.

So, I made the sunflower apron with my own adjustments - rick rack instead of ruffle, side pocket (with a quickie applique), and shorter straps at the waist. I accidentally made the neck strap a little long on this one, but it's not a huge issue.
 One of the things that I most appreciate about this particular design is that it is so basic and infinitely embellishable (is that a word? It is now.). Also, this project is a great way to use up my ever-accumulating scraps!
Now I just have to find a place to keep them in my crowded kitchen. :P

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Soopah Star!

 I have been looking for a good "palazzo"-style pants pattern for awhile now.  Most of the styles that I have come across are elastic waist versions, and I am NOT into elastic waist. I know that a lot of people enjoy the comfort and versatility of elastic in their pants, but I hate it. It's so bulky and scrunchy and gross. So, when I came across this Simplicity pattern I was geeked about the fitted waist, wide-leg pant style.
 I had a lovely lightweight cotton blend fabric that would be perfect for this project, but I have serious fitting issues when I sew. It seemed like making a muslin would be the smart thing to do, and I had this TRULY HEINOUS polyester-type, red, granny fabric that entered my home mysteriously. I honestly do not remember where on Earth I would have gotten it from.
 Anyway, once I had sewn up the muslin, the fit was so AMAZING that I couldn't justify tossing this garment away. I mean, yeah the fabric is not my favorite, but it's not like people don't wear polyester pants (they still do, right?). The red was slightly off-putting, but I figured I could jazz it up a little to suit my tastes.
 And, so I did. I thought of dip-dying the hems, but...polyester. Instead, I grabbed my fabric markers and made a star stencil, and away we went....
Obviously, this fabric doesn't drape that well, but I'm cool with it. I also made a black pair for work from that lovely cotton, but after embellishing the muslin my intended pair seem so BORING! The red "practice" pair are my fave right now. The crotch could come up a smidge on this pattern, but they are still incredibly comfortable and SO FUN to wear!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

The Top That Shall Not Be Named..

 I had grand plans and high hopes for this super cute summer top pattern that I picked up at Goodwill several months ago.  This style caught my eye because I love the idea of the fitted bodice with flowing skirt portion. Plus, since the bust area is separately constructed from the bottom section I figured that I could scale the fit better to my 30" rib cage and 36" bust.
I found the perfect lightweight synthetic fabric in my stash, and I actually spent some time fussy-cutting to get the painted design showcased in key areas.  But, once I got the bodice put together, I tried it on and realized that it was WAAAAAAY too low cut. I mean, this goes beyond tasteful cleavage and into the might-as-well-be-wearing-pasties realm.
 The rest of the pieces had already been cut out, and I was conflicted about whether or not to bother finishing this. I knew that there was no way in hell I would ever wear this top, but I hated that I was wasting all that time and effort that I spent cutting and planning.  So, I finished it....sorta.
 As you can see, I didn't install the zipper. But, I did spend SO MUCH TIME doing stupid rolled hems along all 4 stupid sides of all 4 stupid panels on stupid, gauzy, synthetic fabric.  And, when I tried it on again (because I'm terrific at convincing myself that things aren't THAT bad), it turns out that the lack of boob coverage wasn't even the worst of this style on me. Those gathered panels gave me a ridiculous potato shape. Ugh!
I'm not even sure what to do with this thing now. I'm not wasting a zipper on it, but I hate to toss it. I'll probably just throw it in my scrap pile and salvage the fabric down the road for something else.

As for the pattern - I could probably fix the pattern to have better coverage, but I really have no business wearing this style. Any tops that don't cut in at the waist just make me look frumpy. I knew that before going in to this, but we've discussed my poor decision-making and delusional optimism previously. I'm sure this wont be the last time that I make something so terribly inadequate for my shape.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Don't Go Chasing Waterfalls

 I wear t-shirts all of the time. I pair them with hooded sweatshirts in the cold weather which means that I am basically a grown woman that dresses like a lazy teenager because knits are just SO COMFORTABLE!! So, I thought I would make myself a knit top that was a little more adult.
 This McCall's pattern was just as easy as the claim on the envelope. I made view "F" which has these beautiful drapey folds that cascade down from a low neck.
 There is a band at the bottom that creates a "blouson" effect (McCall's word, not mine) which also hugs my hips just right. The medium size fit really well with no alterations.
 This top requires a tank top or camisole underneath. Any lining top with a sleeve gets caught up at the shoulders and makes the drape weird. I'm wearing a tank in the photos. (Ignore the wonky shoulder. I have no mirror in my sewing room). 
 Sadly, the side view is a little too "maternity" looking for my taste.
I don't know about this one, guys. It's very comfortable in a lightweight knit, but the shape that it gives me makes me self-conscious. If I settle the band higher on my hips it looks frumpy, but if I pull it down I get a belly pooch that looks like a baby bump. This is what happens when I try to adult!!!