Outfit Along, Part 2: Une Vianne Verte

And now for the knitted portion of the Outfit Along! For my pattern, I chose Andi Satterlund’s Vianne cardigan, which was the “official” knit garment of the OAL. I usually make a size S in her patterns, but I’ve been noticing lately that the armholes and bust have seemed a little baggy, so I sized down and made an XS. I’m so glad I made the change – the fit is much better, and I think this might be my new favorite cardigan!

For my yarn, I used Cascade 220, and I have to say, using this higher quality yarn made all the difference in the world. In the past, I’ve used either Knit Picks or Lion Brand yarn to save money, and while both do the job just fine, the Cascade feels sooooo much more luxurious. It also blocked like a dream, and my stitches really evened out nicely. I guess I just have to invest more in my knitting projects… It’s worth it, though, since knitting takes so much longer than sewing, so you really want your final product to turn out well!

A quick note on tension – you may be wondering why I used the Cascade 220, a worsted weight yarn, when the pattern calls for DK. I’ve discovered that, since I tend to knit with a fairly tight tension (I think this is due to my personality….oops…), I need to go up a yarn size to get the correct gauge for the needle size. I know you’re supposed to change needle sizes to attain the correct gauge, but I’ve had a lot of trouble with that in the past, and have discovered that I get the best results when I size up the yarn. So there you go.

And now, pictures!

IMG_2679

IMG_2680

I just love the back mesh detail in this pattern! Since I carry a lot of music books around in a backpack during my commute to work, my back tends to get reaaaaaally grossly sweaty (tmi, I know, sorry), so the extra ventilation is really nice. I added petersham ribbon to reinforce the button bands, which really helps everything stay in place. The buttons were on sale at Britex – as soon as I saw them, I knew they were the ones! (of course, in spite of that, I made the guy at the button counter take out a ton of other choices just to be sure…)

IMG_2701 IMG_2700

And a few more shots, for good measure:

IMG_2683 IMG_2699

So, that’s my contribution to the OAL! A big thank you to Lauren and Andi for hosting it – it’s a great tradition, and I look forward to next year!

IMG_2684

Outfit Along, Part 1: Indonesian Anna

What’s this? Two posts in one week?? Crazy times, I know! I’ve finally gotten my sew-jo back in full swing, thanks to my impending vacation to the east coast (i.e. time *not sewing*), and have been churning out garments like nuts. Today’s outfit is the first of two posts about the Outfit Along currently being hosted by Andi Satterlund and Lauren Taylor, which is a combination sew-along/knit-along designed to help participants create an entire outfit instead of just “orphan” pieces. Last year, I used my anniversary dress and shrug as my “cheater entry,” (it just so happened to satisfy the guidelines, which I realized after the fact!) but this year I wanted to really stay true to the challenge and create coordinating everyday garments. This was made more difficult by the fact that I didn’t want to have to purchase any new fabric or yarn, but I managed to put together an ensemble that I’m quite pleased with!

For the sewing portion, I chose to make another By Hand London Anna dress, using a gathered skirt instead of the six-panel skirt included in the pattern. My fabric was something truly special – a hand made wax print from Indonesia. A good friend of the family did some missionary work several years back in Indonesia, and she brought back several yards of gorgeous fabric for my mom. The fabric was eventually entrusted to me, provided I “make something really special with it.” So the fabric sat in my stash for about nine months before I had the courage to finally cut into it.

The fabric provided some interesting challenges – it was a border print, but the border was printed perpendicular to the selvage instead of parallel. Also, the flowers were printed along the lengthwise grain, so I had to get creative with my layout. First, I carefully cut the border panel off of the sides of the fabric, including seam allowances, so that I could attach them to the skirt later on. Next, I added 1/4″ to the side seams of the bodice, since the ease you typically get from cutting with the crosswise grain wouldn’t work with the print. I also took my time decided on the print placement – since the flowers are quite large, I knew their placement would make the dress either really stunning or really awkward! After much deliberation, I finally threw caution to the wind, cut it all out, and whipped it up in about two afternoons.

IMG_2690 IMG_2691

Since I wanted to make the dress extra special, I took my time with the details. I was careful to try to match the pattern across the back (it didn’t completely work, but I think it’s good enough!), and I even managed to include the “made in Indonesia” label that was printed into the fabric itself. I also used some stiff satin lining for the hem, since I wanted to give the skirt a little extra body. I like the little element of luxury it adds, too! (not to mention that it won’t stick to tights/leggings – a major pet peeve of mine!)

IMG_2687IMG_2697IMG_2693IMG_2695

All in all, I’m really happy with how it came out! Next up, my knitted portion of the Outfit Along. Stay tuned! 🙂

IMG_2686

Red and Black: Bra Edition

In case you were wondering whether or not my bra obsession has subsided, it most definitely has NOT! I have several finished bras to share, and today you get two!

First up, I have another rendition of the Linda bra, a partial band design by Beverly Johnson. I had made this bra twice before with limited success – one was unwearable, and the other was good enough to wear but certainly not perfect. In this third version, I narrowed the bridge a tad, since it was too wide in my brown version, and also gave myself a little more length across the top of the cup.

IMG_2645 IMG_2648

This is definitely my best version so far, but after comparing this bra to other finished versions of Beverly’s bras, I’m beginning to wonder if perhaps I’m making it a size too small in the first place. I’ve been sewing a 32A, since that most closely matches my measurements according to this pattern, but I usually make 32B (that’s the size I use for both the Watson and the Marlborough, and my usual RTW size). In fact, I was fitted for a bra recently, and they said I could even go up to a C (I’m highly skeptical). Since all of the other versions of this bra that I’ve seen have more breast coverage than mine, I’m wondering if I should approach the fit from the next size up. It may also be possible that partial bras just aren’t the best design for my chest structure.

The material I used were from a Bra Maker’s Supply kit, with additional lace from Britex. I decided give this bra a little more pizzaz, and even added some lace to the back closure:

IMG_2651

Because I can!

My next bra is another Watson bra, with undies to match. I continue to love this pattern, especially with the addition of foam padding. For this version, I used both foam padding and fold-over elastic for a very sleek, streamlined look. I’m really loving the result, and this has become my go-to “dark colors” bra.

IMG_2664IMG_2668

Adding the fold-over elastic required a few changes to the pattern – shaving off 1/4″ at the neck/underarm elastics and 1/2″ at the bottom band. I also used FOE for the straps, which required a little elastic gymnastics – I may end up trying to do a tutorial on this, if I can get myself organized enough!

For the foam padding, I used the same technique as last time, and this time added a little ribbon to the cross-cup seam for a nicer finish (it also feels smoother!).

IMG_2673

That’s all for now – more bras to come, though! Can’t stop a good addiction…

Finally Dropping the Bomb…shell

One of the major themes of my sewing this year so far has been “stuff that seems scary but looks cool/fun.” I started with bras, then jeans, and now…swimwear! Yup, that’s right, y’all are about to see pics of me in a swimsuit. Consider yourselves warned :P.

As with my other “scary sewing” adventures, this project was not nearly as hard as I thought it would be. I used the ever-popular Bombshell Swimsuit Pattern by Closet Case Files, which has been making its rounds in the blogosphere for over two years now. I had actually cut out the swimsuit last year when I was still in Boston, but due to a poor choice of swimsuit lining I wasn’t able to complete it before the big move to San Francisco. And, of course, upon arriving on the west coast, I was shocked by how cold this city is and had no desire to complete that project!

However, for the 4th of July this year, my husband and I got to spend the day with my in-laws in Livermore, where it gets HOT. Like, 90s and above hot. So when I heard that there might be a pool visit involved in our weekend celebrations, I got right on it! I managed to whip up this suit in just a few hours on Friday – it’s really that easy. I will admit that having some lingerie experience made certain parts of the process a little less scary, but even those who’ve never touched lingerie elastic should have no problem (especially with Heather Lou’s wonderful sewalong to follow!).

I got my fabric online from The Fabric Fairy, and am quite pleased with it. I mentioned above that I had an issue with the lining – that was not due to poor quality, but rather to the fact that I ordered tricot swimsuit lining. In many cases, this would be fine, but since tricot doesn’t have the recovery of a jersey knit, I couldn’t use it for this particular suit, since the lining provides a lot of the structure to the suit (the main fabric is gathered and basted on top of it). I ended up getting some basic jersey nylon/spandex lining from Joanne’s, which worked fine, but I think in the future I should use an even heftier fabric for the lining, as this one seemed to stretch after attaching the ruching.

I graded quite a bit between sizes for fit – I think I went with a 6 on top up to a 10 on the bottom, and the fit is fairly good. It’s a bit tight to get on and off, but it *is* a swimsuit, so I think that might just be the nature of the beast. I did add foam cups to the top to avoid “nipping,” using the Dritz “Sew-In Bikini Bra” in an A cup. Next time, though, I think I’ll just make my own foam cups, since I have the materials! These cups fit fine, but I think I can do better now that I have some bra-making experience under my belt.

And now for the big reveal:

IMG_2675 IMG_2676 IMG_2677

All in all, I’m pretty pleased with it! It stayed in place nicely during my swim, and so far seems to have survived its first trip to the pool. It’s not quite as figure-flattering as I had hoped – I had to “suck in” a LOT in these pics to avoid looking pregnant – so be warned, this suit does not hide curves!! However, I appreciate the full coverage and retro style, and I’ll probably make more of this suit in the future. Hooray for pioneering new fields of sewing territory!

IMG_2674