Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Made It! Kwik Sew 4013

Just squeaking in with this one: I've finished my December project for the Make a Garment a Month challenge. Well, just about finished -- I just have to hem it but I did want to share it here while we're still in December!

I had to take photos of the finished dress in my tiny front hall, as it is cloudy, snowy and minus 22 outside so no heading out there coatless today! In any case, here it is, Kwik Sew 4013.

I decided to colour block it, with a black solid and a black floral knit, both rather lightweight and soft. I made the shorter version with the colour blocking of the long one. I must say, from the line drawings I expected the middle panel to be a bit narrower, but when looking closely at the finished dress on the cover of the pattern, I realize that mine turned out just as the pattern looks. I'd make the elastic gathering shorter on the coloured panels if I made it again, to create more of an hourglass illusion. And don't forget, I'll be hemming it up by at least an inch ;)

Front view
Back View
Of course, as usual I added side seam pockets. Love them. I also took the waist up by an inch, but probably could have used another half inch. This pattern was very straight forward. Lots of steps and pieces, but all easily done. I really liked the instructions for attaching the shoulders and facings, it made a lot of sense and looks very nice completed. I did understitch the back facing though, as it kept wanting to pop up. That wasn't indicated in the pattern but I prefer it as a finish.

Clear instructions on the pattern itself
All layers pinned together
Such a tidy finish!

The only problem I had with this pattern was one I've had with another Kwik Sew -- these fit large. I measured myself for this one to avoid that issue coming up again, but I had to take in 1 1/2" at each side waist when I was done nevertheless. (perhaps that's why the centre panel seems so much wider than the side ones...) I cut medium on top and large on bottom -- next time I'll do small/medium, if I use fabric with the same level of stretch. This wasn't excessively stretchy fabric, just a regular knit like a tshirt.

Something I really like about this pattern is how logically it's constructed. Each step follows on with no confusing or complicated bits. The pattern instructions are basic and very clear. I also really like the neckline, how the bodice crosses over itself high enough up that you don't feel like you need to wear an undergarment for modesty's sake. It lies nicely and doesn't gape at all. If I can get the minor fitting issues adjusted I might make this again. It is really comfortable and not difficult to make, but I think it has enough detail to look a little different.

One other new thing for me -- this pattern calls for a blind hem. I discovered my blind hem for knits stitch on my machine, which I have never used before. I intend to use it for the hemline, but so far I've done the sleeves with the blind hem, and I quite like it!

From the outside

And looking at the inside
So, just finished this one in time for this year, and learned quite a bit while making it. Not sure why I kept putting this one off -- possibly the busy days of December -- but glad I finished it and hope that I'll actually wear it.....

Here's to many more new sewing adventures in 2014!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Oldest Pattern in the Stash: McCalls 9309

Reorganizing my pattern stash slightly for the new year, I noticed a few interesting items. I've had some patterns for a very long time -- but which have I owned the longest? I sorted through and found it! This McCalls 9309, the 2 Minute Dress by Star Terrell,  is one that I have owned since I was 13 years old!

It was the first pattern I ever purchased, with my mother's help. It was intended for my home economics class in Grade 9. We had 2 patterns to choose from in class, neither of which appealed to me, so my teacher allowed me to choose one of my own as long as it was a "beginner's" pattern -- and she knew that my mother was an accomplished seamstress so would steer me right (one handy side benefit of a small town where everyone knew you!)

I still own the pattern, although sadly the actual dress is long gone. I had made it in a very soft t-shirt knit, in a very 80's pattern of mint and white tie dye; it was a "2 Minute Dress" pattern that only took me 4 months to sew, LOL. Good thing I'm more efficient these days. I recall being pretty proud that it stayed together. Do you remember the first pattern you ever purchased? Which one have you owned the longest?

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

2014 Plans and Dreams

Well, it looks like many sewing bloggers are sharing their plans and goals for the upcoming year. I think that sounds like a good idea -- in thinking about what I want to accomplish, and joining challenges to encourage me to keep sewing this year, I have found that I'm getting lots more done!

So I'm going to continue this focus in 2014. My goals are:

1. Continue with the Make a Garment a Month challenge, and use some of my pattern and fabric stash that way!
2. Learn new techniques -- try patterns that aren't always 'easy' for me
3. Following from the point above, I'd like to take a class or two this year to learn correct techniques and tips for improving my skills.
4. Reduce my pattern and fabric buying and USE UP some of what I now have. I'm not going to ban myself from buying something new but will try to be more mindful of what I already have.

Once I finish my December dress for the MGM challenge I'll be jumping right in with some of these new directions too. Lots to do in 2014!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

MGM Choice for December

I'm really enjoying the push to complete some of my projects that SarahLiz Sew Style's "Make a Garment a Month" challenge is giving me. I've been sorting through some of my patterns and fabrics and trying to decide which I should choose for December. I'd love to choose 2 or 3 items that I really want to make -- but, it is December after all, and I know that I just won't have time for them all.

So in the name of sanity, I have selected one garment that I vow I will make from start to finish this month. I've chosen another dress:  Kwik Sew 4013

I am going to make View A, but use the colour blocking option from View B. I have had the black floral knit in my stash for quite a while, and want to jump on that while it is still a bit on trend ;)

Line Art

sarahlizsewstyle.blogspot.comI'm hoping that it will work out nicely... and that I will be able to finish it up amidst all the sewing-for-others that I'm working on...

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Make A Garment A Month: November Butterick

This is the second dress I chose to make for November's MGM challenge. It's Butterick 5923, a pattern that caught my eye because of the unusual cowl neckline with collar.

I loved the fabric that I used for this one, a polyester that was a bit heavy and falls nicely. Sewing this dress was actually quite easy. A number of steps but nothing difficult. I kind of got into the zone with this one, and enjoyed just working away on the many steps, one at a time, as they were all working out the way they were supposed to. Whew. But this meant that I forgot all about taking any "in progress" photos. I just kept sewing along...

This pattern has a stay, keeping the very drapey neck from resulting in any wardrobe malfunctions. I love it. I also love the collar but wish I had maybe put heavier interfacing in. It's okay but the right side needs pressing again to get it *just* right. Now I wish I'd done the stay in a contrast fabric, but... next time!

This one was straightforward to sew, measurements were pretty much right without much adjustment at all (just shortened one inch in the bodice), and steps were not complicated. The roll-up sleeves had tabs and buttons but I knew I would be wearing them permanently rolled so didn't bother making buttonholes, I simply sewed the button down on top of the tab when everything was done. Found the perfect buttons in my stash, too!
much better look at the fabric in this pic

I like the way it fits, although the pattern envelope stops at medium, so that is what this is all through. I'll add an inch to the skirt next go round as I find it just a touch too constricting when moving about actively. This fabric has absolutely zero give though, so perhaps with a more forgiving bit of stretch this would be fine. Of course, I added side seam pockets. They are strictly for keys or wee little things though, as you can see from my finished photo that having hands in pockets rather ruins the line of the dress! You can't quite tell from the photo, but it's hemmed to just above my knee. I think that is the perfect length, as I didn't want too much fabric to overwhelm me. The dress has an elastic waistband and a sash -- I think an obi style belt would look nice with it too.

I really like this one. Received a couple of compliments when I wore it today, which is always nice too. Though the fluorescent lighting in my office isn't exactly flattering, I wanted to get a quick snap to share the finished item!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

MGM November KwikSew

This is my first MGM finished item for November! I finished the Kwik Sew dress, 4026, that I had chosen earlier this month. It was quite an experience though - the fabric I used made this much more difficult that I'd expected...

I used a multicoloured polyester knit because of the beautiful print. But it was quite slippery and very stretchy, so I had to pin the heck out of every. single. seam. At least 1 pin per inch on this one, sigh. It took quite a while.
And lots of pins...
Lots of pins...

I also failed to take into account how the weight of the fabric and the stretchiness would affect the waistline...after I had carefully and extensively pinned it and sewed it, I tried it on to discover that it was 2 inches below where it was supposed to be. Since I wasn't going for the dropped waist look, I turned it back inside out, pinned out 2 inches with a million pins once more, and resewed it. It worked but I was glad I had left the length in the skirt when cutting it out so I had inches to play with.
Waist seam being pinned and repinned...

At this point I was to sew some clear elastic to the inside of the waist seam -- well, here it did absolutely nothing to cinch it, as the fabric stretched as much as the elastic no matter what I tried! Grr! I considered taking in the side seams a bit to fit it more but was so sick of this recalcitrant fabric by this time that I just left it, figuring that a belt would do that for me (it did, thankfully -- I am going to make a sash out of the leftover fabric when I can face it again, LOL) I added side seam pockets, as the skirt had plenty of ease to do so. And I had added a couple of inches to the length which turned out well considering the waistline debacle.

Let's see...the sleeves fit perfectly! And I like the overall fit and look, though the sizing runs a bit large. I cut medium all through, mostly by mistake. I'd intended cutting a large for the skirt, as that's what my measurements indicated, but since I was talking to my sister on the phone while cutting I was a little distracted and cut medium, oops. But it turned out to be the right choice anyhow. I do wish I'd cut a small bodice rather than medium as it is a bit wide/saggy. Wearable, but I'd prefer a bit of a closer fit. I guess I should have thought about the "moderate stretch knit only" instruction, and considering this fabric, thought a little about negative ease.

I was considering adding a stay, as the neckline is very low and drapey and I didn't want to flash anybody -- but after working with this fabric for a while I decided a tank top underneath would be perfectly suitable instead ;) I do have tanktops in all the colours in the print so it will give me the chance to change it up, anyhow.

Something a little odd about the pattern itself was that it had you jumping back and forth from View B to View A for sewing steps. At step 5 of View B, it tells you to follow steps 7-14 of View A to finish. There are only 9 steps in all. It's pretty obvious what needs doing but still. Proofreading anyone? It was my first experience with a Kwik Sew pattern and I was generally pretty pleased with the otherwise clear instructions.

Even after all that fuss, I really like how it turned out and have worn it twice already since finishing it last week.
At home, with it sitting just right
At work, with the messy
recycled paper stack behind me!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Quick Stash Buster: Vogue 8634

This weekend I decided that I didn't have any really handy long sleeved t-shirts. I don't wear too many of such tops, and I don't make many either, but it's always nice to have one, especially as the weather gets colder. But I didn't want just a plain tee, no, I needed something a little extra in order for me to know that I'd actually wear it. In related news, I seem to be on a cowl neck kick lately...

So I went shopping in my stash, and finally matched up a pattern to a piece of knit that I've had for a few months. I only had about 1.25 metres so had to choose carefully. I decided on Vogue 8634, a pattern that has many positive reviews on PR, but which appears to be inconceivably out of print now.

With the busy print of the fabric I had, I also took the advice of another reviewer and taped the front pattern pieces together into one long piece. The topstitched seam is simply decorative, and I did not want to have to fuss to get this print lined up -- it was supposed to be a quick project!

It turned out to be a very quick project, 2 hrs all told. The knit I was working with was mercifully pliant (unlike my last project, which I'll be taking photos of and sharing here soon). Everything did what it was supposed to do, and despite my worry that it would be too snug around the middle it actually fit just fine once I actually tried it on. Thank goodness I didn't fuss with it too much. I made View B, with the long, wrist length sleeves of View C, but wore them scrunched up to 3/4 length most of the day. Works either way.

Wore it to work today and loved how comfy and warm it was. I'll definitely make this one up again; quick, comfortable and suiting my style, what more could I ask? It's nice to have an "insta-project" once in a while!

Here's a close up of the collar to get a look at how lovely the
 drape of this knit is. Very soft and pleasant to wear.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Weekend dreaming...

Aahhhh, if only.... here's something we all wish for, perhaps... ;)

Saturday, November 2, 2013

MGM Garment for November

I'm excited about joining Sarah Liz SewStyle's Make a Garment a Month sewalong... although thinking that I could get something done in 2 days in October was just a WEE bit ambitious ;)

So here is my 'official' joining post. This is what I intend to make in November for this challenge:

Butterick 5923

This is the dress I wanted to make in October, I had it cut out (mostly) but didn't get to it at all. I need to recut the collar which I messed up the first time by not paying attention to the orientation of the pattern piece, and then get this one sewn! I really love the fabric and hope it will turn out properly.

Sneak peek --

Kwik Sew 4026

This looks like a nice, simple dress with the kind of clean lines that make a really fun print stand out. I've had my eye on this fabric for a while, and then it went on sale last week -- a sign! Because my first choice is already cut out, this will be my official do-it-all-in-November selection. I'm planning on making View B, with the sleeve. Hoping to get these both done before the rush begins to finish all the Christmas sewing!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Make a Garment a Month!

Now this sounds interesting... SarahLizSewStyle is hosting:

It starts October 2013... now! And will be on-going...

Although I have just noticed this with a week left in October, and a booked up weekend ahead, I am going to join in on this fun challenge! It sounds like just the thing to keep me on track with some of my projects. I do have a dress (Butterick 5923) cut out and waiting for my attention to get it sewn up -- so maybe I can do that by the end of this month! That will be my aim, anyhow. Such fun!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Through the Wardrobe, Part 2

And now for the third & fourth items I made for Sewing Pattern Review's Mini-Wardrobe Challenge...

Along with making the dress and cardigan I decided to make a skirt and a blouse. The skirt was intended to challenge my very basic skills -- I would have to insert a zipper and I also determined that I was going to add a lining. Somehow I've avoided these procedures for oh so many years ;)

I used New Look 8643, another pattern that I've owned for ages, for the skirt. Plus a brown floral print microfibre that I've had in my stash for ages and ages. You can't really see the floral here but it's a great embossed effect. I also, as usual, added side seam pockets. I love this skirt, even if there are a few flaws -- the first zipper I ever did worked out pretty well! Except there is a small gap where I mismatched the top of the zipper & the waistband, sigh. Not too noticeable though.

Love my brown skirt
A closer look at the full Sorbetto

Then I used my first ever downloadable pattern, the infamous Sorbetto tank top from Collette Patterns. I added sleeves though, thanks to this downloadable addition from Sew Incidentally, as I do prefer a bit of sleeve. I had to make a muslin first to adjust the fit, as I've noticed a few reviewers mentioning that the fit can be a bit wonky, depending on your own shape. I know I have to alter shoulders, neckline & length often, so I tested this one and found that I did indeed have to alter. I took up 3/4" between the shoulder and bust, and 1/2" in the underarm seam. I also added 1.5 inch to the overall length, but may shorten it by a touch. This was fun to try, but I really can't imagine making a complicated design via print-out-and-tape-together patterns. I don't know how people do it!

In any case, this project was really engaging and a lot of fun. Here is the final snapshot of everything all together. I like how each piece turned out, and the colour pallette too. Glad that I decided to give it a go and challenge myself as I get back into the sewing groove. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

Through the Wardrobe, Part 1

In August I joined Sewing Pattern Review -- it's a great website for anyone who sews. Really helpful and inspiring!

In September I participated in their monthly sewing challenge, the Mini-Wardrobe contest. The challenge was to sew 4 items that could combine to make 4 different looks. I'm a basic level sewist, but I thought it would be great to challenge myself and see if I could make 4 pieces of clothing in one month.

The contest is now closed, and my entry is posted there -- I actually finished!! I had a lot of fun doing this, and learned quite a lot. It was also great to get into the habit of doing some sewing regularly. Here are the first two of four pieces I chose -- part 3 & 4 coming up tomorrow:


I have owned this pattern for a long time, and decided to make the dress and knit cardigan from this wardrobe. I had a lovely turquoise-y knit in my stash so used that for the cardi, which I love -- I think it's my favourite piece. The problem however, was that I had already cut a long slash in the knit in preparation for making a wrap, which looked horrible, so I wanted to repurpose the fabric. Fortunately when I laid it out, I just missed the slash!

Doh! Big hole in the fabric!
Finished deal, with dress
Soooo soft :)
And then I made the dress from the same pattern, using this shiny print that has just the same tone of blue as an accent. I added side seam pockets and cut the front on the fold, taking in an inch at the neckline, but otherwise didn't make any alterations.

Straight up
With a belt

This was a great challenge, and I love these new pieces. These two were the "easy" ones for me, very few alterations and they sewed up pretty quickly with no major problems ( if you don't count the sewing on of sleeve bands inside out and the resultant unpicking and resewing as very major...)

Tomorrow: pieces three and four...

Friday, September 20, 2013

Pretty in Purple

Lately I have been doing some quick refashioning of a few old dresses I've had for years, to see if I can salvage them and get some more wear out of them. Here's a 2 for 1 on purple fashion!

I love this dress colour & the supersoft fabric, but the shape! the size! SO 90s!

To fix this dress I planned simply to do a quick chop & that's all. BUT when I chopped then washed (for the billioneth time) it shrank! Just a touch but still, it looked tight in the arm area. So I used the  8 inches that I lopped off the bottom, opened the armhole a bit, and set in some sleeves. I always prefer sleeves for work clothes anyhow, just a personal preference. Not sure if the redo actually updates this one or not, though.

Not sure about this one. Certainly fits in with the
garden theme! But perhaps a bit small? Too dated?

Dress #2: The original sack o' fabric

Shorten by 7 inches
Trim the sleeve

Tie the little self-tie in front to add some
shape. Now I love it as a garden
 party dress :) This one I really love.
 It feels new and yet vintage-y.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

6095 Stripes!

This is the latest dress I made, from one of the new patterns I picked up in The Great Pattern Haul that occurred recently...

At the same time that I bought a handful (or two) of new patterns, I found a lovely grey & multicolour striped linen-viscose blend on the sale table. It was cheap because there were a few random & unattractive slubs* in the fabric that would need to be avoided -- but I thought I could make it work, and I really liked the muted tones and soft feel of the fabric. It kind of reminds me of those Guatemalan pullovers that everyone wore when I was in university, but I wasn't going for that kind of hippie student vibe, so picked the clean lines of New Look 6095 to counteract any similarity.

This pattern gave me some difficulties. The aforementioned slubs were a bit of a problem, but I was able to either avoid them or get them into the seam allowances, except for one right on the hemline! Argh. And although I forgot to take any construction pics, I laid this one out pretty carefully to keep the stripes straight, which seemed to work, thank goodness! I also tried setting the sleeves in flat, which worked really well -- love the technique when possible.

Excuse the wrinkles, I took this picture
upon coming home from work

But, I seem to always have problems with sizing -- I chose size 16 according to my measurements, but the bodice is just way too big. Even the skirt feels slightly large. In fact, it was so roomy that I didn't even have to put in the zipper! (thus avoiding one of those Basic Skills Of Which I Am Afraid)

Still, it's not too big to wear, but again, I must belt it. Perhaps straight/a-line shifts just don't work for me, but I keep making them... In any case, I love the feel of this one on, even if it would be a bit more comfortable to have the bodice a little less shifty and slidey as I move. But if I toss on grey tights and a grey cardie, or my deep pink blazer which catches the tone of pink in the centre stripe (which I did this week), or my dusty blue corduroy jacket which is the exact tone of the grey-blue stripe, the wide neckline is both hidden and anchored, and this will work great as a multiseasonal dress.

One element that I am particularly proud of is the addition of in-seam pockets. I love a dress with pockets so added some cheery ones here. I repurposed most of an old linen blouse that I loved but that was worse for wear -- saved the buttons and used the brilliant blue for pockets, which worked wonderfully especially as they are the same weight as the dress fabric. I do love them. This was a pretty easy pattern overall, though, and now that I can see (and hopefully fix) some of the sizing issues, maybe I'll try again.

*Slub: A characteristic often associated with contemporary linen yarn is the presence of “slubs”, or small knots which occur randomly along its length. In the past, these slubs were considered defects associated with low quality. The finest linen had very consistent diameter threads, with no slubs.  Today, however, the presence of slubs is considered appealing, and fashion dictates that even the finest linens have these slubs (via )