Springing to Action: Sewaholic Workout Wardrobe

Happy Easter Monday! Whether you observed the holiday through religious services or massive chocolate consumption (or both, in my case…), I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend. Now that I write that, I realize just how ironic it is that my¬†post-holiday blogging is about workout clothes…is the universe trying to tell me something? ūüėõ

Anyhow, as soon as I saw the latest Sewaholic pattern release, the Vancouver Collection, I knew I needed to add the Pacific Leggings and Dunbar Top to my activewear wardrobe. They looked like the perfect combo of sleek and practical, with their flattering design lines and fun construction details. I especially loved that the leggings had a zippered pocket option on the back waistband Рsuch a nice extra!

I actually had traced and cut out all the pattern pieces while we were still living in San Francisco, but our sudden cross-country move prevented me from finally¬†sewing them until a week or two ago. I began by basting the pieces together, since these patterns were new to me, to check fit before feeding them through my serger. I’m glad I did – I ended up needing to add a bit of length to the back crotch and front right where it meets the waistband. Since the leggings include generous 5/8″ seam allowances, this was no problem, thankfully. The top fit me fine as-is – my only change there was to shorten the hem by an inch or so. Some folks have noted that the sports bra version is quite short, though, so if you’re making view B, you may want to do a full-out muslin.

I also made the design decision (waaaay back in San Francisco…) to combine the color-blocking in view B of the leggings with the cropped length of view C. To do this, I simply traced out all the view B pieces and lay them on top of the tissue pattern pieces of view C, marking the shorted hemline on my traced pieces. I tend to overheat pretty quickly in full-length workout pants, so I knew the cropped version was a must, but I didn’t want to miss out on the fun color-blocking opportunities of view B! Sometimes, you¬†can have it all :).

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Oh, and I took a million pictures…just to warn you ;). A few detail shots:

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You can sort of see the binding topstitching in these pics – I’m not 100% thrilled with the method the pattern uses for binding the neckline and armholes on the top, since it seemed unnecessarily fiddly. I feel like there must be a better way, so next time I make the top, I may try playing around with some different options. I decided to call it “good enough for now,” and hopefully will improve on future projects!

The fabric I used was designed specifically for athletic-wear. The grey was leftover from this project, and the pink is a remnant¬†from a RTW activewear line (I think it was New Balance, but I can’t remember…) that I got from Steve’s in King of Prussia. I did use some sports-weight mesh for the straps on the top, which I got from Imagine Gnats¬†online. I have a feeling it’s intended more for athletic shorts, though, since it’s not quite as stretchy as this pattern probably needed, but it worked out well enough for now.

In terms of daily use, these pieces have held up great so far. I’ve gone running, lifted weights, and done some pretty intense cardio (think burpees and jump squats) in these garments, and everything has stayed in place quite nicely. The top gives me just as much support as my RTW workout top, which I’m really pleased with.¬†These new pieces have definitely put a little extra spring in my step!

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Irish Flair

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, y’all! I have to admit, I probably wouldn’t have realized that today is St. Patty’s until after the fact, but I *just so happen* to have this lovely, Celtic-inspired new sweater pattern to share with you, so I actually checked the date before starting this post. Research, y’know :P.

Anywho, I mentioned a few posts back that I had discovered a wonderful¬†fabric and yarn store near where I’m living in New England called¬†Twill, and it turns out that one of the gals who works there is not only an expert knitter, but also a fantastically talented designer! She recently released a trio of Celtic knits called Irish Roots¬†(on a special sale through today!),¬†and the sweater I’m showing today, Claggan Bay, is a garment I actually helped test knit for her. It was my first experience test knitting, which was pretty cool. I’ve done test sewing before, but never knitting, so I was glad to be able to swing by the store to ask Mindy¬†(the designer) questions as I made my way through the pattern.

I have a soft spot for cables, so I really enjoyed knitting this up! I’d never done “saddle increase” shaping for the top of a sweater before, so this was a new adventure. This method of increasing essentially creates a kimono sleeve as a continuation of the neck/shoulders, instead of picking up all the sleeve stitches to do a set-in sleeve. It also creates a subtle cowl effect in the front, which is a nice design detail.

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Perhaps my favorite design element, though, is the back shaping. To create a slight hour-glass shape, Mindy wrote in a series in decreases and increases once you reach the smallest part of your waist, which I think looks really cool:

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One of the big things I really appreciated about this pattern and about Mindy’s designs in general is that she makes the fit very personalized. So, instead of saying, “knit 7 inches down from the armhole to begin your back decreases,” she says, “knit until you reach the smallest part of your waist,” etc., which is rather¬†ingenious, since we all have such different bodies. For me, the smallest part of my waist is much higher than average, so this ensured that the shaping would fall in the correct place, and not in an awkward spot on my bum.

As far as sizing is concerned, I made a small, which is the second size up. I was waffling between that and an XS, but the yarn I chose is less drapey than the yarn the sweater was designed for, so I thought that sizing up would help it drape a little better. I think I made the right call – the upper sleeve is still a bit on the tight side, so I have a feeling the smaller size would’ve turned this into a muscle sweater. Ha!

So, all in all, I’m really happy with this new addition to my knit wardrobe – part of me is¬†almost hoping that it stays cold a little longer so I can wear it more! (don’t worry, I said almost…hopefully I didn’t just jinx anything…fingers crossed!)

 

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The Cascade Duffle Adventure, Part 2: Construction, and all that jazz

One season¬†of House of Cards later, I think I’m finally ready to attempt to write about my coat making experience – whew! And yes, there will be a million¬†photos.

First off, I have to admit – this was not as difficult an undertaking as I had thought it would be! In fact, the most difficult part, in my opinion, was tracing and cutting a bajillion pattern pieces. Of course, there were certainly some tricky bits in the construction process, and you need some sewing experience under your belt before attempting it, but this is definitely a great “first coat” pattern for those thinking of diving in.

Before I dive into the sewing details, I wanted to take a moment to discuss sourcing my materials. My fabric was purchased from Fabric Outlet in San Francisco during a flurry of moving-induced retail therapy. For my lining, I went with flannel-back satin, otherwise known as Kasha, which, interestingly enough, I found at Amazon (via Vogue Fabrics). I also sourced my medium-weight knit interfacing from Amazon/Vogue, and have been happy with both so far. My toggles were purchased from Pacific Trimming via Etsy. I’m a bit concerned about their durability – they’re already starting to show some¬†wear, so I may end up needing to replace them down the line. Fingers crossed! Now to the fun part…

After basting the pieces together, as discussed in my last post, I took all the pieces apart and began sewing the coat “for real.” I followed Jen’s excellent Cascade Sew-Along¬†in addition to consulting the instruction booklet, which helped ensure that I didn’t miss any steps. There were a few construction points that were covered more thoroughly in the instructions, while others were dealt with more in the sewalong¬†posts, so if this is your first coat rodeo, I would recommend referencing both.

I did add a few extra steps by hand¬†just to make life harder to help ensure the coat’s longevity. First of all, I catch-stitched the coat and sleeve seam allowances to the coat body, since I didn’t want “runaway seam allowances” sandwiched inside my coat lining. My hope is that by securing the SAs down, it will avoid unnecessary rubbing inside the coat, and perhaps prevent the fabric from breaking down due to¬†friction.

I also sewed the toggles on by hand. I was too scared to put those suckers under my machine, especially since I didn’t have any extras to play with, so I went the safer, if more time consuming route. To do this, I first poked holes around each toggle with a needle to make sure that my spacing was even as I sewed around them. I then used topstitching thread with a backstitch to secure them to the coat. So far, they seem to be staying put just fine!

The last “extra bit” I did by hand was to catch-stitch the hem facing to the coat body after bagging the lining but before sewing the sleeve opening shut. I did this after several weeks of wearing the coat around (true story: I wore this coat for three weeks before I actually finished it :P), when I discovered my hem facing “drooping” down past the actual hem placement. I believe this was because my lining was extra thick/heavy, which may have been weighing the hem down more than usual. A bit of hand sewing quickly fixed the problem. Yes, it took a little longer, bit I think it was worth it in the end!

And now the bit you’ve all been waiting for: PHOTOS! Feast your eyes:

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Here we get to play “find the lower back seam” – I’m rather proud of that plaid matching!

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And I am REALLY loving that hood – so warm!

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Toggle detail – gotta show off that hand sewing!

I still can’t believe that I actually made a freakin’ winter coat, but there’s the proof! I’ve worn it SO many times. Believe it or not, I actually didn’t have a winter coat before I made this one. My last one¬†died sometime before I got married, and I never replaced it, so my Boston winter¬†two years ago was NOT FUN. Thank goodness I got this one done in time!

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LOVE

The Cascade Duffle Adventure, Part 1: Fit

So, believe it or not, I do still write this blog. In fact, I even still sew. A lot. Apparently I just haven’t felt like writing about it in a while. Oops ūüėõ

Anyhow, I had mentioned a while ago that I was embarking upon Grainline Studio’s Cascade Duffle Coat, which I literally just finished about an hour before writing this post. Before I post (and take) final photos and discuss construction, though, I wanted to take some time to talk about fit. Those of you familiar with this particular coat might be scratching your heads at this point, thinking, “fit? But it’s such a loose-fitting coat, you shouldn’t have to worry about that…” However, since I had a dread fear of putting in countless hours of work only to end up with an ill-fitting garment, I decided I’d rather¬†be safe than sorry.

…and I’m glad I did! Although the coat would’ve fit fine without any tweaks, I thought this project was a great illustration of how just a few small changes can dramatically improve fit. Since I didn’t want to take the time to do a full muslin, and since the style¬†*is* pretty loose, I started by cutting the larger of my two size options (I was waffling between a 2 and a 4), and basted¬†all the main pieces together to check the fit.

***Warning*** The photos that follow were taken for fitting purposes only, and were not originally intended for public consumption so…please excuse the terrible lighting. And I may or may not be wearing pajamas. And slippers. Like ya do.

Notice the diagonal lines pointing from the bust outward on the front view? And how the hem tilts up from back to front on the side view? Yeah, I wasn’t a fan of that, either. I also didn’t love that the sleeve was falling slightly off the shoulder (though I think the design is intended to look somewhat oversized). So, those were the various issues I wanted to address.

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In this next picture, I altered¬†the shoulder seam, taking out 1/2″ at the sleeve and tapering to nothing at the neckline. As you can (sort of) see, that lessened the diagonal lines on the front. While it didn’t completely alleviate the problem, it did improve it enough that I called it a success.

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Next, I did a type of sway back alteration by removing¬†some excess fullness along the bottom seam, taking out about 1/4″ at the center back and tapering to nothing at the side seams (you can sort of see it pinned out in the picture). This fixed the hem issues – you can see that it’s level here.

I also shaved 1/4″ off the armholes to raise the shoulder sleeve. I wish I had lengthened the sleeve, but I forgot to do that before I cut out the coat, and I didn’t have any extra fabric to re-cut. So, the sleeves are a bit too short (sigh….), but not the end of the world.

So, in my next post (which hopefully won’t take another three weeks…oy…), I hope to present the finished coat! I have to say, I’m super¬†proud, and I can’t wait to show y’all!