Thursday, 30 November 2017

Navy Nancy Raglan Dress

At one point I decided that I really wanted a raglan shirt pattern. Many indie designers that I follow and like have one, so I needed to decide which one I wanted. I ended up deciding on the Nancy Raglan pattern from 5 out of 4 Patterns because it has a shirt, dress and maternity option. I'm not planning on getting pregnant for at least a few years, but I'm a huge fan of forward thinking. One thing I like about 5 out of 4 patterns is that they are drafted for a 5'8" woman, so it fits me nicely without needing as much length added.

I've always liked how t-shirt dresses look, but I have never found one in a store that looks good on my. If they fit my hips at all, there is no way that they will fit my waist and bust, and they don't generally looks good when they're really tight around the hips. One on the dress options for the Nancy Raglan is an a-line dress, so I decided to make an a-line t-shirt dress. The fabric I found in the discount knit section of Fabricville, and when I brought it to the cutting table the girl behind it was like "Wow, great find!". As soon as I made the dress I regretted not buying more because I didn't find anything wrong with it, and it was really soft and easy to sew with.

This dress came together really quickly, and it was all assembled on my serger. I love my serger more and more with every project. I made one funny mistake: I sewed the shoulders together fine, but then when I started sewing the sides, I sewed them inside out. I just cut off the seam and re-sewed it, but it was a lesson learned in rushing. I might try a less a-line variation of the dress, and try using the pattern for a crop-top. I already have a off-white long-sleeved version cut out, and I'm toying with the idea of making it in orange as well (exact same fabric and price, just a different colour).


Pattern5 out of 4 Nancy Raglan
Material: A lovely discount knit from Fabricville for $3/m
Modifications: Added an inch in length. I used medium for the shoulders and arms, then small for my bust and waist, then up to a large for my hips.
Learning: Raglans are super easy!

Andrew's pose suggestion

The look I give Andrew on a very regular basis

Thursday, 23 November 2017

It's About Time

As you can see, the title is a pun. Andrew has been asking me to sew him something for years, so I finally sewed him a shirt using a pocket watch print fabric. I decided a few years ago that I wanted to build my fabric stash, so I looked around on kijiji for people getting rid of fabric for cheap. I found a couple, so my friend Ally and I drove out to a stranger's house in Lower Sackville and raided her stash for about $1/m. This fabric immediately caught my eye for a shirt for Andrew because he loves novelty print shirts, and I bought him a pocket watch for one of our dating anniversaries.

When I took my second sewing class a while ago, I learned to sew a button up shirt. I haven't made one since, but The one that I created was very straightforward, no collar stand or sleeve plackets. When there was a pattern sale at Fabricville, I picked up a similar pattern in Andrew's size so that I still didn't have to learn how to do with more complicated/precise aspects of a button up. I then hid it out of sight because I felt guilty every time I looked at it.

Those who have watched LetterKenny might recognize this pose

I made a muslin because fitting a male body is unfamiliar to me. I basically had to do the opposite of what I do for me - let it out at the waist, leave a narrower waist and chest. Andrew and I now have matching muslins from an old sheet, with no closures and a single sleeve. I'm still trying to come up with a good Halloween costume to make with them. This fit pretty well out of the envelope - I graded out 2 sizes for his waist and added an inch in length, but those were the only alterations necessary. I might have added another inch, but I did not have enough fabric.

Another LetterKenny pose

I barely managed to eke out this shirt in the amount of fabric I had. Any major mistakes would have been fatal to Andrew's dream of a handmade button-up shirt. Luckily, my mistakes were all minor. The biggest one was accidentally cutting a hole in the shirt right below the collar. I patched it, and the location means that it won't likely be noticed, but I feel bad about it. The other obvious error is that the pocket is quite crooked. Andrew says he doesn't mind, so it's not a big deal, but next time I will be more careful with pocket placement.

I managed to convince Andrew to come to Fabricville with me to pick out buttons for the shirt. We decided on wooden buttons because we thought they suited it best, and picking out any other colour would have been difficult. I think the biggest disadvantage of completing this project is that Andrew likes it, and now wants me to sew more things for him. His next request is a Christmas poncho. What is a Christmas poncho, you ask? Apparently it's a Clint Eastwood as the Man with no Name style poncho made out of Christmassy fabric. This is why I have never heard anyone call Andrew unoriginal.


PatternMcCall's M6932 View B
Material: A really lovely rayon-like woven for $2 from a lady off Kijiji and wooden buttons
Modifications: Added 1 inch to the length and graded out 2 sizes at the waist
Learning: This was my first yoke! Also, be more careful with trimming seam allowances. And check pocket placement more carefully.

The crooked pocket

Thursday, 16 November 2017

My First Orla Dress

I'm calling this my first Orla dress because I am confident I will be making more. This was more a wearable muslin, that I also made a muslin for. Seems redundant, but I felt it was necessary to make the wearable muslin actually wearable. Anyway, on to the dress!

I was really inspired by #AnOrlaAffair, put on a few couple of bloggers back in July, but as I was in the middle of packing and getting ready to move into my new house, I didn't feel like I had the time to try a new pattern. Since the pattern wasn't going anywhere, I knew that I could just give it a try later. The fabric I used for this dress was left over from stuff I bought super cheap about 3 year ago, so if it went horribly wrong it wouldn't be a big deal. As you can see, it didn't go horribly wrong, but it wasn't amazing either. It certainly does not photograph well.

First up, I used an old bedsheet for a quick and dirty muslin, to test the fit/proportions and that I knew how much to gather the skirt and how to put in the sleeves. I ended up taking some width out of the skirt (I had added it in because my hips are larger than the size that I made for my waist/shoulders) and I removed some of the length of the skirt that I had also added. I'm thrilled with the fit - since the shoulders are supposed to be wide, they sit nicely on my shoulders. I might make the neck a bit smaller in the future. I will need to practise neckbands on wovens before I really like any that I make, but that's totally fine with me.

The dress came together really easily. There is nothing really tricky in the construction, other than my usual problems with necklines. I had to install the invisible zipper 3 times, but that was entirely my fault. There was a bit of vertical stretch in my fabric, and when I installed it the first time I stretched the fabric, so it turned out wavy. The second time I didn't install it evenly on both sides. Finally I hand-basted it in, checked it, then sewed it in. Third time's the charm.

The biggest problem here is the neckline. There's two problems: I suck at necklines in general, and the fabric does not have much body to keep it up. My next Orla dress I will use a stiffer fabric in hopes to remedy point 2, and I will practise and research some more for point 1. On that note, if there are any neckline geniuses out there, feel free to send tips my way! The first day I wore it, the neckline sagged so much that I reached out to a sewing Facebook group that I am part of to ask for recommendations. The most popular one was to add a pleat in the neckline, so that's what I did. I toyed with the idea of darts, but really like the pleated look.

This dress gets the barely wearable label, but not the love label. I have high hopes for my next one though!


Pattern: Orla Dress by French Navy Now (Free!)
Material: A super light crepe-like fabric from Fabricville from a few years ago (likely $2/m)
Modifications: Added 1 inch to the length of the bodice and 1 inch to the skirt length. In the future I will use a stiffer fabric and might make the neck smaller.
Learning: Woven neckbands still suck, and I should take my time doing invisible zips. My next one will be a better fabric choice.

Thursday, 9 November 2017

A Different Kind of Make: My Armoire!

When we bought our house a few months ago, I knew I would need to come up with a solution for more closet space. I try to keep a reasonable amount of clothing, but since our house was built in the 1940s, there's just not much space. Even though right now we could use the closets in the extra 2 rooms for our clothing, that's only a short-term solution. What I needed was a wardrobe that I could use to store both hanging and folded clothing.

I looked around at Ikea and Canadian Tire to see if they had what I wanted. Some were pretty close, but either too flimsy, too small, too big (our ceilings are only about 7ft) or too expensive. Luckily, on the list of attendees for my house warming party was Dave, from Dovetail Design, an amazing carpenter. When I was giving the tour of my house, I mentioned my vision for this armoire, and he said that sounds like a really fun project and he would be willing to work with me to make it. Here is the pin on Pinterest that was my original inspiration. As you can see, the one I created ended up quite different, but it was a good starting point and got the conversation going.

We started with a design session at my house. We measured the height of the lowest part of my ceiling (it has an attic-style slope out at the edges) and the width where I wanted to put in. Knowing that I wanted some hooks at the end, we made it a couple inches narrower than the space, and I ended up with a wardrobe approximately 6 feet tall and 5'6" wide. Dave has built closets before, so he already knew the depth should be about 22 inches to accommodate hangers, and I wanted the shelves to be wide enough for 2 stacks of clothing. We ended up with 36" wide shelves, which is 2 stacks of sweaters but 3 stacks of t-shirts, which is perfect.

I learned a lot building this with Dave. I got to use a chop saw and a table saw, I learned about different things you need to think about like when to sand and clean things up and how to keep in mind what is going to be visible. We opted for a pre-finished black back because it provides a great contrast, and a white closet rod. I wanted 5 hooks - one on each side on the inside for necklaces and my favourite belt, and 3 on the end for bras and belts. We used half inch pine plywood so that it would be sturdy but not too heavy, and I love the look. The facings give it all a nice look.

I've had this armoire now for a few weeks, and I love it. I discovered that wine boxes fit perfectly along the bottom for socks and underwear and other things that don't fold well (we got a lot for moving, they're not because we're alcoholics, we hide that better). It fits all of my clothing with room for more, which is good, considering my sewing habit. The 2 sides come apart, so it's pretty easy to move it, and I anticipate using it forever, regardless of where I live (although if my next house has a walk-in closet I might face a conundrum).

I have some left over plywood that we're planning to use to make some shelves for my sewing room, and I can't wait to learn more.