Sunday, 10 June 2018

Andrew's Christmas Poncho

What is a Christmas poncho, you ask? Well, thank you for asking! According to Andrew, it's a poncho made in Christmassy fabric. Not just any poncho, but one like Clint Eastwood wears as a man with no name. Also, I made this back in December, we just got around to taking pictures now.

If this project were any more difficult, I probably would not have agreed to make it for Andrew because it does not seem like a garment that he would get much use out of. Boy, was I wrong. He wears it almost everyday. He wore it to my parents' for Christmas, to his Grandparents' for boxing day, and he wore it for New Years Glamping Eve. I've actually started getting requests for more, who knew.

I bought about 2.5m of 60" wide fabric for this. The name of the fabric is "Poncho Perfection", so Andrew was clearly not the first person to see the fabric and think it was perfect for a poncho. The poncho is made up of 2 pieces of fabric sewn together at the shoulders, with a gap left for the head hole. I sewed down the seam allowances so it's a nice clean finish around the neck. I left all other edges alone, and it's fraying nicely. Andrew is a little concerned that it might fray too much, but if it becomes an issue I could just serge the edges. 

If anyone would like a more detailed tutorial with poorly done sketches, I would be happy to write a post for it. It only too a couple of hours, and that was because I kept making stupid mistakes and needing to pull apart seams (it was really strong fabric though, so a good yank to rip out stitches was no problem. I barely needed my seam ripper).

Saturday, 31 March 2018

Gloria Dress

Somehow when I am deciding what pattern to buy for a specific item of clothing, 5 out of 4 patterns sends out a tester call for the pattern in question. It happened last year for joggers, and now it happened again for a straightforward knit dress. I am so happy that I had time to devote to pattern testing this dress, because I love it and will likely use it regularly.

The Gloria dress is a super versatile knit dress pattern or top with a skater skirt (or peplum). There are options for sleeveless, short sleeved, long sleeved and everything in between. There are also split sleeve options and hi-lo hem options, which I am excited to explore in the future. There are 2 neckline options, high and low, and I chose the high neckline option for both of my dresses. I didn't need to use the full-bust adjustment pattern piece that is included in the pattern, but if you are large-busted, this is perfect for you!

First up I made the short dress version with elbow-length sleeves. As usual, I had to blend a lot of sizes to get the right fit. I used size large for my shoulders and sleeves, medium for the bust, and between a medium and small for the waist. I originally planned to make the longer dress version, but I looked like a Mormon, which was not the look I was going for. I shortened it to the short dress length and that is likely the one I will use for most of the dresses using this pattern. This dress turned out exactly as planned, and I love it. It definitely gets the #secretpyjamas classification.

My second dress I whipped up in an evening - it took less than 2 hours. I opted for the sleeveless version in this case, and am very happy with it overall. My biggest problem is I attached clear elastic to the waistline, and that went extremely poorly (obviously not the pattern's fault). To fix it I had to do a bunch of re-attaching of the skirt to the bodice, and while I tried to fix the hem so that it looked straight, I didn't do a great job. When I wore it to the Good Friday service I only got compliments on it, and my lovely friend Amy said that it wasn't very noticeable, and if it was it looked deliberate. Needless to say I will be more careful in the future.


Pattern: Gloria Peplum and Dress by 5 out of 4 patterns
Material: Both discount knits from Fabricville - $3/m! Yay $5 dresses!
Modifications: Size L for shoulders/arms, size M bust, size M/S waist, added 1.5 inches in length to the bodice, graded out to a L for the skirt.
Learning: I still need to figure out the best way to attach elastic to the waist, but I learned some things to avoid! Mostly accidentally slicing the elastic with the serger blade.

Friday, 2 February 2018

Mad for Plaid

This was a labour of love. I brought this pattern, the Cheyenne Tunic, over a year ago along with this fabric, but I have been so intimidated by it that I just now sewed it. I think I was a bit too much in my head, because I made a lot of mistakes with this as well. Part of the issue is that I'm not very good at precision sewing, but I also just wasn't thinking clearly during all the steps. I was committed though, and managed to push through.

I started with a muslin. I guessed that I would need a bit of length added and a broad back adjustment, but I started by sewing up the first muslin without any modifications. I ended up adding a half inch to the width of the shoulders, and then the same amount to the back. I'm tempted to add even more to the back, although now the shoulders fit perfectly. I added one inch to the bodice and a half inch to the sleeve length as well as a sway back adjustment. I graded out at the hips by 2 sizes, but I made the top part a straight medium. I might add some space in the forearms, they are a bit tight.

The fit of this pattern is supposed to be pretty loose, but the first time I wore it to show my family my sister Sarah immediately commented that it looked like a maternity shirt. Not exactly what I was going for, but that's alright, it'll be good for large meals. I like the popover style and am considering lengthening it into a dress at some point, with a belt or drawstring, but it will be a while before I'm ready to try again. I also want to make view A in a flannel.

I am definitely not very good at pattern matching, but to go with that, I also don't care that much. Once I am better at sewing, I might get into obsessive pattern matching, but for now I'm happy with spending less time focusing on it. That being said, I'd like to make this pattern in a solid fabric so I don't have to worry about it at all next time. I really liked making the yoke and placket on the bias, and I think that's the only way I'll make them going forward.

This pattern has nice finishings all throughout it with french seams and everything enclosed. There is also a lot of topstitching and button holes, which brought to my attention that I really need to tune up my sewing machine and I really want to buy myself a new machine now.


Pattern: Cheyenne Tunic by Hey June Handmade
Material: A lovely rayon plaid from Fabricville
Modifications: Broad shoulder adjustment, broad back adjustment, 1 inch in length to the body, half inch in length to the arms, graded out 2 sizes for the hips
Learning: Pay better attention to the pictures in the instructions. This is not the first time I've learned that though, let's hope it sticks this time. I also did my first sleeve placket and popover button placket. This is also one of my first times finishing with french seams, and I might use it more often. I also learned to do a broad back/shoulder adjustment.

Thursday, 25 January 2018

Paperboy Pants

I've been meaning to sew myself more pairs of pants, so when the tester call came out for the paperboy pants, I decided to give them a try. They have a pleated front and elastic in the back waistband with a fake fly. I really like the fake fly and the elastic helps make them super comfortable. They are meant to be made in a ponte fabric, or some other similar knit fabric. There is enough ease that they could be made in a woven, but they would be much less comfortable.

I cut out a straight 14 with a size 10 waistband, and I just made the darts a bit bigger. I should have done a better job with the darts, but I'm not likely going to fix them. This fabric does not press well at all. I made the whole pants on my sewing machine, with the exception of attaching the waistband, which I did on my serger so it would have enough give to get over my hips. They came together very easily and quickly, and would be a good introduction to sewing pants.

I don't have much else to say here. I managed to get together with Amy right after a brunch we both attended to take these pictures. The brunch was at someone's house with the best windows and the best lighting, so I didn't even need to go outside in the cold to get some good pictures. I love how they turned out, thanks Amy!


Pattern: Paperboy pants by Wardrobe By Me
Material: A knit with minimal stretch from Fabricville.
Modifications: None! Just mixed and matched to get the right sized waistband
Learning: Pay proper attention to the grading of darts.

Saturday, 20 January 2018

Shirts for Andrew

I'm finally pattern testing a pattern for Andrew! Andrew is approximately 6'3", and most of his height is in his torso. His torso is long enough that regular length shirts ride up almost right away, but not long enough that he feels the need to go out of his way to buy shirts in tall sizes. I've been meaning to start sewing shirts for him, but I am much more interested in sewing for myself. When Christina put out the testing call for a men's polo and tee, I immediately responded because I knew it would prompt me to actually make some shirts for Andrew.

First up was the wearable muslin. I used up most of the rest of the orange knit that I got cheaply at Fabricville to make the t-shirt version so that I didn't waste anything if it turned out poorly. The fit was spot on right out of the box. I added 3 inches in length and that might have been a bit much, but I kind of like it at this length. My biggest mess-up was the neckband - I attached it with the seam in the front. I have left it for now, but I might cut it off and fix it in the future. Until then, let's pretend it is a design feature.

The second shirt is the actual Draper Polo shirt. I bought a new knit from Fabricville on sale for $3/metre in a lovely blue that I thought would complement Andrew's green eyes nicely. The shirt didn't end up looking super great - it's my first polo and my machine was acting up. I should have added interfacing in the collar, but I know that for next time. The pattern is well drafted and the instructions clear - it just required more precision than I was capable of. I will eventually make another one for Andrew, but I need to do some sewing for myself first.


Pattern: Draper Polo by Wardrobe by Me
Material: An orange a blue knit of unknown content
Modifications: Added 3 inches in length
Learning: I now have the knowledge to make polos for Andrew :) Add interfacing to collars.

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Black Ninjas

I have mixed feelings about this title, to be honest. It does describe what this blog post is about though: 5 out of 4 Ninja Pants in a black fabric, so I'm going to leave it. I have been meaning to sew myself a pair of dress black tights for ages, and I finally went out and bought 3m of fabric to do it. It's a good thing I did, because the fabric had less stretch than I thought it would, so my first pair went to my mother, who has smaller legs than I do. The second pair is nearly perfect. You might be able to tell in the pictures that the crotch curve isn't perfect, but in this case it's not a big deal because I mostly wear them under dresses.

As someone who lives in Nova Scotia, bare legs during the winter is just not feasible. I have fleece-lined tights in black and blue to wear under dresses and sometimes even jeans, but they are no good for wearing with tunics or dresses that are a little too short to be appropriate for the office. Opaque black leggings are the perfect fix. I had already sewn up the P4P Peg Legs and wanted to give the 5oo4 Ninja leggings a try as well. Both patterns are free if you join their Facebook groups, so all it required was some extra taping and tracing. I made up a quick pair of shorts to check the fit, which I now sometimes wear for Frisbee under my shorts.

I did the usual grading between 3 sizes to properly accommodate my derriere, added 2 inches of length so they were long enough (my first pair of leggings that are long enough!) and omitted the pocket because I was lazy (I added one in to the pair mom got). There is a bit of extra fabric around the knees, but that doesn't bother me too much. I assembled everything on my serger, and it came together like a dream. I still love my serger, and am definitely putting some miles on it.

When I sew my next pair I'm going to see if I can fix the extra fabric at the front, but it's better than a camel toe, #realtalk. I love having leggings that are long enough and stay up. I added a 1-inch elastic at the waist to double-ensure they stay up, and while it is sometimes a bit uncomfortable at large dinners (maybe I should take that as a hint not to over-eat), I really like the extra support. I also like that there is enough fabric around my calves so they are not suffocating, which is a common occurrence with store-bought pants for me.

Overall, these leggings are a success (after a failure), and I've already gotten a lot of wear out of them. I love the gusset and optional pocket, and the simple waistband. I'm tempted to see if I can squeeze one more pair out of the fabric I bought, but it's appealing to me to make a skirt or dress out of it.


Pattern5 out of 4 Ninja Pants
Material: A black circular knit, I think
Modifications: Graded between sized, sized up to accommodate less stretch, added length
Learning: Be more careful when checking stretch of fabrics, and I finally did a nice gusset!

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Agility Tank Sports Bras

Since I'm not a terribly prolific sewist, I tend to shy away from combining multiple garments in one blog post. In this case, they were such quick sews that I'm alright with putting them together. I bought the agility tank pattern over a year ago because as soon as I saw it I knew I had to have it. I haven't gotten around to making it because I was nervous, and I own a lot of sports bras so I wasn't in a hurry to get new ones. Recently I increased my level of activity by starting boxing, and so I use more athletic wear in a week and have an excuse to give the pattern a try.

This pattern was much easier than I thought it would be. Once I get around to creating it with an attached tank top I might change my mind, but just making the sports bra was really fast. I don't need a huge amount of support, so I just line them with a different knit fabric. I also like them to finish near the bottom of my ribcage, so they are a bit more longline than the pattern calls for. I opted to make one of each of the variations - a strappy back and t-back. I think I like the look of the strappy back better, and that is what I will make more of.

First I made the sea-foam green strappy back bra. One of the reasons that I finally made this is because 5 out of 4 patterns was having a contest that I wanted to enter. Those who follow me on Instagram might remember I posted a picture of this bra next to a picture I found on Pinterest, where I also tried to copy the pose. I didn't win the cover-stitch machine, but I did get a free pattern out of it! I think I'm going to get the riptide shorties so I can make a bathing suit bottom that actually covers my bottom.

My most amusing mistake with this bra was I started it with some elastic that I had kicking around without really checking the size of it. I ran out of the elastic halfway through, and ran out to pick up some more according to the pattern specifications. When I continued the work, I realized that the elastic that I started with was smaller than the elastic I bought, and this you can see that one set of straps is thinner than the other. Not a big deal, but kind of funny. I lined this one with a bathing suit lining fabric.

I decided I also wanted to create a galaxy print sports bra, mostly because I had the fabric already, and it wasn't really enough to make much else. Luckily I had enough to make almost 2 full sports bras, because I royally messed up my first try on this one, despite having already made one. I barely glanced at the instructions because I had very recently finished my first one, so I totally forgot to pre-stretch the elastic for the neckband. Turns out that is an important step, because it turned out awful. I re-cut both the front and back pieces in the main and lining fabric and started over and totally omitted the elastic this time (it was optional). From then on it was smooth sailing. I used the leftover main fabric from the first sports bra to make the lining of this one, and it is great against my skin.

I like this pattern, especially as a base. I might be making modifications in the future based on more inspiration. I didn't bother with cups for these ones, but I might in the future. This is also a maternity/nursing-friendly pattern, which will likely come in handy in a few years.


Pattern: 5 out of 4 Agility Tank
Material: More scuba knit and some bathing suit knit from a random kijiji lady
Modifications: Kept some of the length I was supposed to cut off to make it more longline
Learning: Pre-stretching elastic is an important step!