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!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Thrift Store Hack: Frumpy Frock into Gathered Waist Sundress

Let me start by saying that this hack was both a success and a failure. Obviously, maybe this is a bit presumptuous of me, the sundress after version looks much better than the before; however, this was a bit of a hack job on my part and I made a ton of simple sewing errors. If I'm being really honest the majority of the errors were made because I was rushing, and that's when most of the mistakes I make when sewing happen. The center gather channel that the tied waist band sits in is crooked (guess who didn't draw a straight line to follow!) and all of the hems are rippled. I have all of these great (at least to me) ideas in my head and not enough time so I sew faster than I should, then get angry with the mistakes, then get more angry fixing my mistakes and the time it's taking. The end result: i'm just a mess of pins, a whirring sewing machine, and usually a piece that's ruined beyond repair or not wearable outside. This happens to me over and over again, but I've really been trying to work at taking my time when sewing. Realizing that I don't have to complete a piece from start to finish in one day even though I'd like to is a big help as well. When I push myself that hard I'm not enjoying myself or doing my best work. As my skills advance hopefully my speed will pick up as well, but I'm just not there. So I said all of that to say that from far away this dress looks nice, especially compared to what it was before, but at least to me up close it has a lot of faults. I may just sound like I'm being hard on myself, but I don't want to give the home sewers out there a bad rep. I feel like a lot of people picture home sewn clothes as dowdy, plain, lacking style. That can't be further from the truth, but a lot of people are unaware of that. I'm always afraid people will be able to tell the difference between my made items and ready to wear (RTW) items. Besides the individuality of the clothes I'm sewing from patterns to style I want my pieces to look professional.... If I wanted to I could fix these things, but in reality I'm not going to. This fits in with my wardrobe overhaul, fits my body nicely, and even though it might not last for more than a season I got this dress for about $4 from Goodwill.  At the time I didn't have any purpose for it so I threw it in my stash. The dress was hideous unless shiny purple frock dresses that fit like a sack with a necktie and shoulder pads are your thing. Make sure to click the link below to get the 'How To' and more pictures!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Tiny Pocket Tank - Grainline Patterns

 Pattern: Tiny Pocket Tank - Grainline Patterns
 Fabric: Quilting Cotton

It took me about a week to make mainly because I was sewing very patiently, but I finally finished my first Tiny Pocket Tank by Grainline Patterns. I've seen tons of people post on not only this pattern but numerous grainline patterns, and I was excited to try this one out.  It was a very simple sew once I figured out all of the instructions. Luckily there's a step by step post with pictures that can help deconstruct the instructions.

I cut out a size 6 across the chest and then graded down to a size 4 for the waist and the hips. Unfortunately I ended up having to make some adjustments after I cut out my pattern pieces. I tried it on quickly after I sewed up the side seams and realized it was fitting tightly across the bust. I'm not sure if this was a pattern problem or if this was because the cotton material I was using had no stretch at all. I ended up just changing the seam allowance on the side seams from 1/2 inch to 1/4 inch. The armsyce (area around the armpit) was also a little bit tight so i cut it a little bit lower.

I was also a bit confused by where to put the darts. There were two dart points and I ended up choosing the lower and longer of the two. I think I'd definitely make this pattern again, but I'd cut a size 8 across the top, and I'd lengthen the front by about 2 inches. The material on this shirt ended up being a bit stiff even if it was cotton and so I think I'd use a more drapey fabric next time to get a more flowy look.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Cake Patterns Espresso Leggings

Pattern: Espresso Leggings - Cake Patterns  
Fabric: Ponte DeRoma (poly/rayon/spandex) & a spandex blend both from Colorado Fabrics

Hey everyone, I haven't posted in awhile because I was out of town. Before I left I managed to get a ton of things sewn, like the two pairs of leggings above, but I didn't have time to post all of the makes until now. I love leggings, mainly for lounging and working out in and one of the two pairs I have was getting pretty worn out. I remembered seeing a post awhile back on Dixie's blog about a legging pattern that she had used and really liked due to the fact that you use your exact measurements to get a perfectly fitting pair! Sold. I had previously taken a trip down to Colorado Fabrics in Denver which is an amazing fabric store. The place is huge and they have all of these discount tables in the back with different amounts of pre-cut fabric in varying amounts. The only downside to shopping from these tables is that the type of fabric is rarely listed on the tags. That being said I was very careful when looking for fabric, I knew I wanted to be working with a very stretchy material like spandex, but I didn't want it to be see-through when stretched. I had to stop myself from bankrupting myself and so I just grabbed these two fabrics for now, and I plan on making many more leggings in the future because I really liked this pattern especially after I worked out a few kinks.