Monday, September 15, 2014

High Neck Low Back Nettie

I'd never thought I'd say this, but I'm the proud owner of a bodysuit!!!
Fabric: Hunter Green Solid Cotton Spandex Knit - Girl Charlee 
Pattern: Nettie Dress & Bodysuit - Closet Case Files

Life is funny sometimes. You get older, things change, people change, and sometimes at the age of 26 you find yourself wearing an adult sized onesie. It's like being a baby all over again except this time you remember it, not mention much more fashionable! Which is why we're calling it a bodysuit. That makes me think of something sleek, high fashion, and a little femme fatale. The designer of this bodysuit is none other than Heather Lou from Closet Case Files. Heather is the brainchild behind the Bombshell Swimsuit which I made previously this summer. Heather's also really nice and professional. I know this firsthand because I emailed her with some issues I was having and she got back to me ASAP, was helpful, and didn't make me feel like an amateur for having problems. It's scary when you first enter the sewing world and you see people pumping out amazing pieces of clothing with awesome technique. When you get treated like an equal it makes asking questions and chiming in a lot easier.

When this pattern was first released I actually wasn't that interested. But then I thought about things I complain about in my everyday wardrobe: bulky tucked in shirts and weird waist bulge when wearing a shirt tucked into a skirt. The Nettie really fixes all of those things because of how it's constructed and the body conforming nature of a stretchy knit fabric, not to mention the pattern includes variations on front and back neckline and arm lengths making it pretty versatile. If bodysuits still aren't your thing there's a variation for a dress included. This was my first time buying fabric from Girl Charlee and the only thing I didn't like was that you can only buy fabric in whole yards. I ended up getting 2 yards of this even though I only needed about 1 and a quarter, but that's okay because I had a gift card from my sister (thanks, Renee!).

Coco is side eyeing the crap out of my modeling skills

I chose to make the high neck and low back variation with 3/4 length sleeves because I have zero pieces of clothing like that in my closet currently. Overall this is super easy to make and the only time intensive part was sewing in the shelf bra and bra cups in order to have support and go sans bra due to the low back. When I was trying this on before sewing it all together I realized that for some reason the shoulder/armpit seam in the back was falling in front of my natural shoulder/armpit and causing there to be an excess of fabric underneath the armpit area. When I would put my arms down this extra fabric would get stretched to the back and pull around the front creating a bunch of armpit stretch ripples which you can see a little bit in the top picture. This is when I emailed Heather and asked her for tips/suggestions/and my ideas of what was happening. She gave me great advice and I ended up cutting the back piece armscye lower and re-cutting the sleeves to fit. It helped a little bit, but if you went up and looked in that top picture you can still see some stretching and ripples. I think this is mainly due to the low back cut, the breadth of my upper back, and the stretchy quality of the fabric. This fabric had over a 50% stretch and I think if it was a little less stretchy it might not have pulled as much, and the bodysuit would have fit more snug overall. I have plans to make a scoop neck, high back variation so I'm interested to see if that fits better or if these are adjustments I just need to make when working with this pattern. I sewed a size 8 through the bust and the waist and graded up to a 12 through the hips. I think next time, especially when working with fabric that has so much ease I'll grade down to a 6 in the waist because it was a little loose and I was getting some wrinkles when moving around. I like how this turned out and it feels really comfortable. I can see myself wearing this a ton this fall, especially layered with cardigans! I wore it to a bbq this weekend and got a bunch of compliments on the low back, and then a bunch more praise when I said that I made it. Always the best feeling.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Flannel Plaid Grainline Archer

Horrible pictures, I'm trying to get more natural lighting...apparently first thing in the morning is too much lighting

Pattern: Archer Button Up Shirt - Grainline Studios
Another Archer? Quite simply, yes. After making my sleeveless version I knew I wanted to make only about a million more. Not only is it a comfortable well constructed shirt but it's a piece I'll really will wear on a regular basis - cake and not icing as many other sewing bloggers have started to say. I think people love Jen's patterns a lot because they're ready to wear (RTW) basics.

Much better pictures! 

I sewed up a size 4 just like last time; however, I didn't lengthen it by an inch like I did with my sleeveless version. I realized I didn't really need that length, and the extra length was causing the back to be boxy. Surprisingly for this being my second time sewing this shirt I had a number of issues. I had a hard time with all of the pieces cut on the bias. This fabric had a surprising ability to stretch out a bit (you can kind of see how the front placket with the buttons looks a little warped in some spots in the picture on the left) and all of my bias pieces were extremely temperamental. I ended up sewing the pockets on, taking out stitches, repositioning, and resewing a couple times on each side. Then when I was sewing the collar on I realized that my collar was looking very short...turns out I had cut out the wrong size and luckily I had enough fabric to re-cut a new piece. I had already sewed the whole collar on at that point though so I had to unpick it all, and then resew it all together. That took about two episodes of House of Cards. My roommate came to check on me after she woke up from a nap and found me sitting in the exact same position I had been two hours prior and she was able to coax me away from the sewing machine.

Best plaid matching ever! Even the sleeves line up!
I followed Lladybird's tutorial on plaid matching, which made the whole process very simply. The key is to be very careful when cutting out your fabric. After that you really don't have to think about it at all. One thing I want to work on is getting better at sewing buttonholes. My one step buttonhole foot wasn't working, user error may have played a part in why it was working....alas, I had to zigzag each side of the button hole individually and let's just say it's a good thing the button hides most of the hole when the shirt is buttoned. Like all of the skills I've learned this far in life and sewing: practice makes perfect! I'm already envisioning another Archer, this time the alternate version with the back ruffle, in a flowy cream chiffon. What type of Archer would you make?

Friday, September 5, 2014

Fall and Winter Sewing Plans

What's better than new fabric???
It certainly seems like Fall is here in CO. Today was grey and rainy and only in the upper 60s and that is what the forecast is looking like for the next week or so. It might end up warming back up, and even on the colder days here when the sun comes out it can feel hot out of nowhere. All this cooler weather has me thinking of fall and with that all of my fall sewing plans. Similar to my spring & summer wardrobe post I've decided to put together a list of patterns/silhouette's I'd like to sew this fall and winter season.

1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 , 6 , 7 , 8 , 9 , 10
 The pictures above (which are linked to their respective patterns according to the numbers in the corner) are all patterns I want to make this season. I have three different button ups mainly because their styles are so different but button up shirts can easily go from casual to dressy depending on the type of fabric you make them up in. I'm also really feeling like wearing a lot of raglan sweatshirts/sweaters that are normal sized and oversized. I personally can't wait to make #10 which is the White Russian sweatshirt by Capital Chic patterns. I also know Jen from Grainline Studios has been hinting at a new pattern she's hopefully getting ready to release any day which looks to be a raglan sleeve sweater/jumper/sweatshirt top. Some nice longer sleeved tops will be a great addition to my collection of shirts seeing as how I mainly have a lot of t-shirts and tank tops and usually have to layer on cardigans in order to stay warm. Besides that I'm not going to let a little cold weather deter me from wearing skirts and dresses. That's what tights and leggings are for! Plus I have no 'winter' dresses or skirts in my wardrobe really. Every dress or skirt I own is pretty lightweight so it'll be nice to add some heavier ones to the mix. All in all I'm pretty excited, I have a bunch of fabric to work through and already ordered patterns just waiting to be printed off! Now I just need more time in the day to work on everything.

I don't know if anyone noticed but I added some features to the blog the other day. On the right hand panel there's now a link to follow me on Pinterest. I've created a Pinterest account specifically for this blog and I have boards dedicated to patterns, sewing tips, and style inspiration to name a few. I've been pinning away on my fall/winter style inspiration board so make sure to check that out (you'll notice I wasn't joking around about the oversized sweater love). Additionally, you should be able to now pin images directly from my pages by simply hovering over any image on the blog! Hopefully this stuff makes it easier for you guys to save your favorite things and keep up to date on all that's going on over here. As always thanks for reading.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Chambray and Batik Polly Tank Top

Fabric: Chambray Quilting Cotton - JoAnn Fabrics (same fabric used in my Archer)
          Batik Quilting Cotton - JoAnn Fabrics
Pattern: Polly Tank Top - By Hand London (Free Pattern!)

Happy Monday everyone! This is also the 'first day of school' here at CSU; however, since I'm in graduate school I've been here every day this summer. Doesn't really feel that different just much more crowded. Over the weekend I sewed up this fabulous tank top, which has been on my list of things to make for a couple of weeks now. This was my first time sewing a By Hand London pattern and if this pattern is representative of their whole collection I'm a devoted shopper. The nicest part is that this is a free pattern, and not just some stick figure drawing hack of a free pattern. They treated this just like any other pattern that you'd be paying for with complete step by step instructions, pictures, and some funny quips here and there.

The fabric is much more vibrant in person

I had originally planned to put the batik fabric on the front panel and use the chambray for the top and back. After cutting out the pattern I realized I wouldn't have enough of the chambray to do that. I made the mistake of cutting out the front contrast batik piece first and I layed the pattern piece out in a weird way to fit better with the pattern on the fabric. In doing so I didn't have a piece big enough to cut out the back in one piece. Whoops, newbie mistake. I ended up cutting out the back piece in two halves and sewing them together to make one piece. At that point pattern matching was out of the question, and I was a little annoyed but because of the randomness of the pattern and all of the colors the pieces actually don't look too badly unmatched. I cut an 8/12 on top, graded down to a 6/10 in the waist, and back to an 8/12 through the hips. It fits great in the top and hips, I like the fit and length overall, but I'm wondering if I should have graded down a bit more in the waist for a more fitted look. I'm always worried that if I grade down too much it will be too tight, but I might take a risk and experiment next time.

1 point for top stitching like a pro. -1 point for not matching up my bias seam with the fabric seam

I really like how the chambray blends in nicely with the fabric. From the front this shirt seems more business casual but the back is definitely all party. I've realized that I actually like sewing on the bindings on the neckline and armholes, it's one of my favorite parts in the whole process. I think it's the attention to detail when top stitching it down, not to mention it looks so polished once that step is done. I still need to work on making sure my seams match up though, luckily this is under my armpit so no one needs to know. I have some leftover scrap fabric that I might use to whip up another one of these in the next couple of days, it was such an easy sew. I've currently been watching House of Cards and have been using sewing as an excuse to binge watch episodes. I've seen some Poly dresses around the blogosphere as well, and I can envision a bodycon black one with a lighter contrast panel. The curves of the contrast panel really accentuate your bodies natural curves which is always an added bonus. As always thanks for reading!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Modified Sleeveless Archer Shirt

Fabric: Quilting Cotton - JoAnn Fabrics
Pattern: Archer Button Up Shirt - Grainline Studios

I made my first Archer Button Up over the weekend! Since then I've worn this three times, counting today, and I love it. The original Archer isn't sleeveless, but I really was wanting for a lightweight button up that could transition between work and out on the town. If you remember from my summer wardrobe overhaul post, button ups were on that list.

Can we talk about how good that collar and placket looks? Shameless bragging

This is the second pattern I've purchased from Grainline Studio, the first being the Tiny Pocket Tank Pattern which I blogged about here. I really appreciate the attention to detail Jen uses and incorporates into her patterns. I modified this pattern quite a bit. I left off the sleeves, shortened the shoulders, back, and yoke; modified the front plackets into more of a V-neck; and decided on a mandarin collar. My modifications were based off of tutorials that Jen from Grainline Studios posted and Andrea from Four Square Walls shared on their respective blogs. Thanks ladies!

Closeups of the buttons and pockets. Again, i'm going to point out how good my topstitching looks!

I sewed a straight size 4 which I was a little worried about just because I wasn't sure how long the shirt was going to be and I usually size up around my hips. This version fits great, I think I might try and grade down to a size 3 around my natural waist next time and up to a size 5 in the hip area just for a little more ease. I also lengthened the pattern by an inch, which probably wasn't necessary, I just didn't want it to end up being too short the way I felt after sewing the tiny pocket tank. I'm will most likely keep this length for the next version I sew (a fall version with sleeves I already have planned out and can't wait to whip up!).

Major swayback here, but I think I'm too lazy to ever really bother doing a swayback adjustment. 
I got through this pattern pretty easily, one day of cutting pieces and doing a little sewing, and then about four hours the next day. The only part I struggled with was the collar, but I finally figured it out after sewing and ripping out stitches a few times. In hindsight I should've made a regular Archer first before trying out a million modifications but who likes things easy anyway?

I think this might end up being one of the last 'summery' things I make and I'm really glad I got around to it. There was a lot on my list that I wanted to sew this summer and a lot I didn't get around to like shorts and dresses. I do feel like I sewed a ton this summer overall and so I'm really proud of that. I've been gathering fabric and ideas for my fall wardrobe, I feel like I need to start early so I can actually wear these things in season.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Easy Breezy Kimono Style Cardigan

Fabric: Polyester Chiffon from Joann's. The copyright info on the bias said marcus brothers design c2509
Pattern: Self drafted/followed a tutorial by elle apparel - I shortened the length and made my sleeves a bit wider.

It has been hot here in Colorado, I know it's not as bad as the humid heat the Midwest has, but when it's 100 degrees out and you're as close to the sun as we are it still isn't comfortable. Who wants to wear clothes in this weather? This past weekend I was thinking about how I wanted to just wear crop tops and shorts everywhere, but seeing as how I live in a small town and not a big city I'd probably just get weird stares. Normally I'd just cover up with a cardigan, but those just seem stifling in this weather. I wanted something that could be used like a cardigan but was lightweight and felt nice and airy. Enter the kimono cardigan! I hadn't really ever thought about making one of these but Caroline from Sewaholic posted the other day about things she wants to make this summer and on the list was a kimono. She posted three links: 1) a tutorial by elle apparel (which is what I used to construct mine), 2) an awesome cotton kimono cardigan by crab and bee, 3) two beautiful chiffon kimonos by katy and laney. I was hooked and inspired and the tutorial didn't seem too long and so I whipped this guy up in under 2 hours!!! A new sewing record, but it was good sewing, not the angry rush sewing I talked about a week or so ago.

I love how much drape this fabric has, and the wide sleeves. Except for when you get them caught on things

I think this is one of my favorite things I've ever made. I feel like I could and will live in this thing for the rest of the summer or maybe my life. It's super comfy, light, and airy. Even though it's really casual I feel like it could look dressy. I decided to finish all of the seams using a french seam finish since chiffon tends to fray, and the material is so see through I didn't want people to be able to see the hems through the fabric. A couple months ago I wasn't even aware of what a french seam was/is, which makes me feel like i'm really getting better at this sewing thing.

I really want to make another sheer version in black, and then a much longer solid version in a cotton batik if I can find the right fabric. I'm officially obsessed, and hope you all are too!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Bombshell Swimsuit

Fabric: Merlot colored rayon/spandex blend from Colorado Fabrics
Pattern: Bombshell Swimsuit by Closet Case Files - $11.00

I made a Bombshell Swimsuit over the weekend (it was a really productive sewing weekend, I can't wait to share all of my makes). I'm not just calling it a bombshell because it's awesome or because I feel like a bombshell in it; it's the Bombshell Swimsuit pattern by Closet Case Files. I've never sewn a swimsuit before, and I wasn't particularly worried. Based on all of my blog stalking I've seen a lot of Bombshell swimsuits made by many other people and not only did everyone say that the pattern was awesome and the instructions easy to follow, but they all looked great in their swimsuits as well.

                         I probably could've cropped these pictures - hello computer chair! Hopefully it keeps the focus off of my butt

I went back and forth between the instructions and just following the pictures in the sewalong posts that Heather had done for the swimsuit. I'd say the whole printing of the pattern and cutting the pieces took the longest, and the actual sewing of the swimsuit only took about a day and a half. About halfway through once I had the bottom portion all put together I tried it on, only to realize that my lining fabric wasn't nearly as stretchy as my main fabric. BIG MISTAKE. I felt like a sausage. Luckily the way the suit is constructed you basically have a lined front part, with another front bodice covering, so I was able to cut out the lining of the front part without having to worry that the suit would become see through. After that the fit was much better because the main fabric had a lot of stretch. Besides that one little snafu this thing fits great. I feel like it looks really fancy and dare I say sexy without being too revealing. I feel like all of my parts are covered adequately and I don't have to worry about anything falling out. I was a little bit worried about all of the ruching, but it is very forgiving and I feel like this is the suit I would wear on a day when I'm not really feeling like having my stomach exposed to the world.
All that's left is to try it out in water, fingers crossed it doesn't fall apart!