High Waists and Jewel Tones and Dresses – Oh My!

This is the fourth and final week of Project Sewn – hard to believe it’s almost over! This week’s theme is the “signature style,” and the goal is to “showcase individual tastes, talents, strengths, and personality’s as both designers and seamstresses.” Well, that narrows it down!! πŸ˜›

With such a broad list of possibilities before me, I decided to start with a short list based on the design prompt.
-I love high waists and full skirts
-I enjoy sewing with knits, which I consider to be a sewing strength
-although I don’t use them much, I have a closeted penchant for jewel tones
-I love dresses!

With that list in mind, I came up with this little number:

20140226-094625.jpg

Not my most original creation, but I decided to go with a rehash of an old favorite – my Lady Skater and Renfrew Frankenpattern. I’ve worn my first version about a million times, so why not make another? I mean, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, amirite?

I did make a few mods to my first version. I didn’t have quite enough fabric for the cowl (I had two yards of fabric, post prewash shrinkage), so it’s an inch or so smaller than the original, but I don’t think you can really tell. I also shortened the skirt to end just above the knee – I’ve found that that is a more flattering length on me. Lastly, I did a square/broad shoulder adjustment. I’ve found that sleeves tend not to fit me well at the shoulder, so I’m experimenting with fitting in that area. This version isn’t perfect, but it’s much better than previous ones.

20140226-095207.jpg

The fabric I used is a squishy sweater knit, which was kind of a nightmare to work with. I don’t know why I keep doing this to myself! (Well, no, I do – it’s sooooo soft and comfy, it’s like wearing a hug!) I tried to get detail shots of the fabric – the color isn’t quite right, but these should give you the basic idea of what I was working with:

20140226-095454.jpg

20140226-095507.jpg

I ended up using my sewing machine instead of my serger for some of the seams. The serger has a tendency to stretch out delicate fabric, and even with the presser foot pressure and differential feed adjusted, I still got ripply seams. I used a zigzag machine stitch to attach the sleeves and sew the side seams to avoid unsightly ripples, and I’m much happier with how it turned out compared to previous experiences with sweater knits. Whew!

One last detail – and I’d love input on this – I’m experimenting with using filters on my photos to improve the ambience. The two dress pics above have filters, the two below don’t. Which do you like better? Pros and cons?

20140226-095842.jpg

20140226-095852.jpg

I have had such a great time sewing along with Project Sewn – thank you to everyone who has commented and voted for me! I think the best part, though, has been seeing everyone else’s creations – how differently everyone has interpreted each challenge. Good luck to the final three contestants!!

A Stroll Down Memory Lane…in my favorite shoes!

This week’s challenge on Project Sewn is to sew an outfit that coordinates with and is inspired by a pair of shoes. How fun is that?? I had originally wanted to create an outfit to my favorite multi-purpose heels, but I kept coming up with “plain, ordinary” stuff. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with that, but shoes can be such a fun part of getting dressed and I wanted to take advantage of that, so I decided to go a different route. Instead of using my most worn shoes, I picked my most special pair – my wedding shoes.

Now, the story of my wedding is kind of long and complicated, but suffice it to say for now that it was super last minute (I wanted to be married before I made the big move to Boston this past summer for my new job), so there wasn’t time to agonize over the perfect dress, etc. Even with the short time frame, though, I wanted to feel special on my special day, so I did take a day to go shopping with my mom to pick out an appropriate dress and shoes. The dress was a cute tea-length white eyelet wrap dress (from Ann Taylor – I hadn’t gotten into sewing yet at that point!), so I wanted shoes in a fun color. Here’s what I picked out:

20140219-091540.jpg

They were the first pair I tried on, and it was love at first sight! So for this sewing challenge, I wanted to create something fun (and non-wedding-y!) to go with these special shoes. As I was going through my stash, I pulled out this piece:

20140219-091808.jpg

This was actually my muslin fabric for an Anna Dress, so I already had a bodice basted together. I thought the fabric was a great match with the shoes, so I wanted to finish the job! The flirty shoes called for a flirty dress, so I changed the skirt to a gathered dirndl style (using Gertie’s tutorial) rather than the original six panel skirt in the pattern. I also decided to go with the v-neckline, which I hadn’t tried yet. Roisin’s many awesome versions of the dress inspired me to mix things up a little! Here she is!

20140219-092357.jpg

I’m super pleased with it – I just wish it were June again so I could wear this outside!

20140219-092508.jpg

20140219-092543.jpg

20140219-092559.jpg

What do you think? Don’t forget to visit the Project Sewn on Friday to vote for your favorite shoe/outfit combo!

Strawberry Sorbetto

While the rest of the world is getting excited over the Olympics and a possible snow day tomorrow, the sewing world is all abuzz with the excitement of Season 3 of Project Sewn, the blogging version of a Project Runway-type reality show. This season has a fantastic line-up of seamstresses, and I can’t wait to see what more they have in store!

Since this week’s theme was pink, I just had to sew along – I mean, who can resist an opportunity to add more pink to their wardrobe?? Well, I can’t, at least :P. For my entry, I decided to use up some more of the fabric inherited from my mother-in-law, which this time was a bubble-gum pink cotton batiste. I originally wanted to use this as lining/underlining, but when I prewashed it the dye bled so horrendously that I didn’t want to risk pairing it with another fabric. So instead I used it as an opportunity to make a wearable muslin of Colette Patterns’ Sorbetto Top. (Side note – the pattern is free! How awesome is that??)

I decided to pair the pink with some black to add an accent. In hindsight I probably should have gone with navy or something else a little tamer, as my end result is very loud for my style, but in a way it’s also kind of fun – why not go over the top every once-in-a-while? And because I love to make more work for myself, I decided to make a matching belt and scarf to go with it (because one pink item obviously wasn’t enough!).

20140212-230212.jpg

The skirt is my first Chardon Skirt from a couple months ago. If I’d started this project earlier I would’ve made a whole new one, but I didn’t plan ahead enough…alas. I think ultimately it will go better with a black or navy skirt, but I still need to make those…hmmm

20140212-230445.jpg

Since I was working with pretty delicate fabric, I took the opportunity to do French seams on the blouse and a rolled hem on the scarf. I even learned how to use my rolled hem foot – a feat I’m rather proud of! (Haha, get it – foot/feat?! Oy…)

20140212-230654.jpg

(Not all of the edges came out that perfectly, but let’s pretend they all did :P)

20140212-230738.jpg

20140212-230753.jpg

I kind of feel like I should be in Paris in a 50’s film in this outfit…ha! If only. A girl can dream!

20140212-230919.jpg

Man Sewing!

This week I decided to try something a little different – sewing for the husband! Believe it or not, he actually helps me a ton with my sewing – he has a fantastic eye for color and fit, and I usually end up bugging him a lot for advice! In fact, just this morning during our subway commute he was helping me figure out good color combos for a future project I’m planning. That must’ve been an interesting conversation for eavesdroppers…

So anyhow, I figured the least I could do in return is sew him something! Also, it has been his lifelong quest to find pants that fit him well. When he was younger (teen through college years), he was a very serious fencer, so his thigh muscles are HUGE compared to most guys’. He also has a pretty slim figure, which means that for pants to be big enough to fit his thighs, they end up being gigantic at his waist (and pretty much everywhere else!). So I’ve taken it on as my personal challenge to make him pants that fit.

Needless to say, I was incredibly excited when I found out that my local fabric store, Grey’s Fabric and Notions started carrying the Jedediah Pants pattern by Thread Theory! I loved all the made-up versions I saw floating around on the internet – the pattern includes lots of details that create an incredibly professional finished product. I was a little intimidated by all the construction elements, but thanks to the Jedediah Shorts Sew-Along it was actually pretty breezy! The fly zipper gave me a little trouble, but that’s because I missed an important detail that was mentioned near the beginning of the process…oops :P. But it was a great learning experience, and now I know how to sew a fly zipper!

Here are a few detail pics – the details are really what makes this pattern special. And they also made it super fun to sew!

20140210-131344.jpg

20140210-131359.jpg

20140210-131412.jpg

20140210-131432.jpg

20140210-131441.jpg

As you can see, I used a lot of bartacks in the construction – I really wanted these to be sturdy, since I hope they will be worn a lot!

They ended up being a little too close-fitting through the leg, which was ok for this pair, since the fabric has a little Lycra, but in future pairs I will definitely widen the legs. However, the rest fits great!

20140210-131647.jpg

[my husband asked that I not include his face in these pics – gotta protect the innocent!]

I hope he likes these, because I really want to sew more! I highly recommend the pattern, and can’t wait to try more from them!

The Pavot Project, Part 3: Victory!

Just a few short weeks ago I thought this day would never come, but I have officially completed my Pavot Coat! It didn’t even take that long once the actual sewing started – just about two weeks, from cutting out to final touches. I really like the topstitching details on this pattern – it makes for a very polished, professional final product, and also helps the seams lay flat.

The scariest part of construction for me was the last step – sewing the buttonholes! I Hadn’t sewn a buttonhole since high school, and I was terrified of ruining my hard work with ugly, homely stitching on the front. I did many practice samples, and ended up stabilizing the back with paper to help the fabric feed evenly. You may also notice that I changed the number of buttons – I did 8 instead of 7 so that I could have one “strategically placed” at the bustline. I re-drew the spacing on the pattern piece first, and then transferred the marks with tracing paper.

20140206-133927.jpg

And now – drumroll please – the finished product!

20140206-134001.jpg

I’m quite pleased with it! I’m a little bothered by the fact that the front button placket gapes a bit – I should’ve used a heavier, woven interfacing for it instead of the non-woven – but I think I can live with it. And thanks to all my muslining, it even fits pretty well!

20140206-134223.jpg

Now a few detail shots. I was quite proud of the collar curves – I had to do a lot of clipping and trimming to get it smooth, but it’s the details that matter in a piece like this.

20140206-134328.jpg

I also added a hook and eye at the waist to help with my gaping problem. It makes it take a little longer to put on, but I’m much happier with the result, and I think it’s pretty inconspicuous.

20140206-134418.jpg

I’ll do a separate post soon about how I drafted the lining, but here you can see that I attached it to the facing and everything! Woot!

20140206-134602.jpg

20140206-134623.jpg

I wore it to work today, and it’s not quite warm enough for our current arctic weather, but come late February/early March it should be perfect (it won’t get above freezing today!). I guess I’ll just have to sew another winter-weight coat! Ha!

More pics, just because:

20140206-134844.jpg

20140206-134852.jpg

VICTORY!!!

Thoughts on Creativity and an Ode to Clothing

You know how writers have National Novel Writing Month in November and sewing and knitting enthusiasts have Me Made May? Well, songwriters have February Album Writing Month (FAWM), which I took part in for the first time last year. I just started working on my second FAWM on Saturday, and it’s got me thinking about the whole concept of creativity and how we think about the creative process.

I’ve been discovering that I think about musical creativity and “craft”-related activity (sewing, knitting, etc) in different psychological categories. For some reason, I find myself approaching songwriting and composition with a certain level of fear – has my creativity finally run out? Will I ever have another good idea? Are my current pieces as good as my first? Interestingly, I’ve never had this problem in my sewing, knitting, or other craft endeavors. I don’t put as much pressure on myself – my sense of self-worth or achievement isn’t as fundamentally tied up in these activities as it is in my music. I’m sure this is because I’m a professional musician, while my crafting is a “hobby,” but as I discussed in a previous post, I think my hobbies have a lot to teach me about my profession.

I tend to judge my musical self far too harshly and far too quickly. In fact, when I took part in my first FAWM last year, I didn’t think I’d get anywhere close to the 14 songs that are the goal of the whole project. However, since I was working towards a goal with a time limit, I allowed myself to just create without judgement, figuring I’d scrap something later if it turned out to be no good. I ended up exceeding the 14 song goal, and started to realize that songwriting is a craft – a skill you can use over and over – instead of some magical moment of inspiration that could dry up at any time.

Another thing I’ve found interesting about creativity is the time factor. When I write music, my best pieces tend to be the ones I write very quickly – recently I’ve been able to get an idea from start to finish in an hour or so. If I wait too long, I judge my ideas and they never get off the ground. However, if I do this with my sewing, it often turns into a giant mess that I just have to undo later. I find myself trying to intentionally slow down my sewing process to make sure I fully think through my ideas. For example, I spent several weeks researching for my Pavot Coat, trying to figure out where I wanted piping and contrast colors. If I has tried to whip that up overnight, it would’ve been a disaster!

However, I do occasionally have those sudden “bursts” of inspiration in my sewing as well. My colorblocked Plantain Top is the perfect example – my original plans were foiled by a faulty prewashing incident, so I improvised in the moment and came up with something I really love.

How about you? Does your creativity come in sudden bursts or do your ideas develop slowly over several days or weeks? And do you have anxiety in your creative process, or do you just get swept away by the joy of making things?

In the spirit of FAWM, today I’ll leave you with a song instead of an outfit – but it’s a clothing-inspired song! Enjoy πŸ™‚

The Pavot Project, Part 2: Fitting, Interfacing, and Other Stuff

A few days ago I introduced my latest project, an attempt at a fully lined, winter-weight Pavot Jacket, and today I’ll discuss my prep details. So I apologize ahead of time if this is boring…but I really loved this kind of post as I was preparing for the project, so hopefully this will help someone else in the future!

So first of all, fitting. Deer and Doe patterns are drafted for a C to D cup, and I’m a B cup, so I knew I would need to make some bust alterations. Also, since I’m making this a coat instead of a jacket, I knew that I would need to make sure I had enough ease to wear my everyday clothing underneath. I started out making muslins, since I wanted to be sure of the fit before plunging my scissors into my beautiful blue wool (another great piece from my mother-in-law). I couldn’t decide if I should cut a size 38 or a size 40 (38 is my usual size on top for this company, but I wanted enough wearing room). I’ll spare you the lumpy muslin pics – I ended up doing a 38 on top and grading down to a 40 at the waist.

I also made two bust alterations: a small bust adjustment and lowering the bust point. I only did a small SBA, again to leave enough wearing ease, but discovered that lowering the bust point was crucial to a good fit. Before that alteration, I had too much fullness right above the bust, but not quite enough where I needed it, which was causing gaping in the front. Here’s a pic of my altered side front:

20140201-130350.jpg

It’s a little hard to see, but you may notice that I added a bust point notch – I found that this was extremely helpful when sewing the center front to the side front. I also added a corresponding notch to the center front.

My last alteration was to take in fullness in the back piece. The original pattern piece sort of balloons out towards the center of the back, and I knew that I wouldn’t like that in my wool, so I took out about 3/8″ (so, 3/4″ total). Here’s a pic comparing the original pattern piece (left) with my alteration (right) – I took out a lot of the curve.

20140201-130633.jpg

My next big challenge was figuring out how and what to interface. I had three different kinds of interfacing – light weight woven, medium weight woven, and medium weight non-woven, and ended up using all three. I tested them all on a sample of my wool, and wrote where I would use each kind of interfacing right on the sample, so I wouldn’t forget:

20140201-130844.jpg

After reading Jen’s coat-making post and perusing the Great Coat Sewalong, I decided to interface all the front pieces with lightweight interfacing, and the back with medium weight woven. I did the facings and hems in non-woven. I also did the top of the sleeve in the medium weight woven to give a little more body to the gathers – I like a poofy sleeve! Lastly, I added some lightweight interfacing to stabilize the pocket seam and medium weight woven in the collar.

20140201-131847.jpg

20140201-131918.jpg

Whew! One more prep detail, then I promise I’ll stop. I spent weeks (literally!) agonizing over whether or not to interline for warmth. It’s suuuper cold this winter, so I really want a coat that will keep me warm! However, since this pattern wasn’t intended to be a coat pattern, I didn’t want to added too much extra bulk. So, I decided to line with flannel-backed satin and not interline. This gives extra warmth without added bulk. I splurged and bought some Kasha from Vogue Fabrics online – and I’m so happy I did! The lining is a perfect coat-weight, and feels great. Here’s a pick of the finished lining before insertion:

20140201-132325.jpg

Oh, and speaking of lining, my pattern worked!! So I’ll be doing a tutorial on that when all this is over, just in case folks are interested.

For those of you who stuck with me, you get a little prize – a sneak peak at the finished product! Thanks for reading!

20140201-132459.jpg