Friday, April 22, 2016

Simplicity 1688 : Striped #epicjacket



Is there something you've always wanted to sew, but you haven't sewn it yet?  That item pops up on your "to sew" lists over and over, but the only place it is finished is in your imagination?  I can think of a few such items, like a raincoat I've been wanting to make since 2012 or a red denim jean jacket that's been on the list since 2013.  I'm not sure how long this Cynthia Rowley boxy cropped jacket has been on the list, but it's been at the front of my "jacket" box for ages now:

And now, it is sewn.  :)


So how can this be an #epicjacket if there are no cuffs, no collar stand, nary a collar?  Mainly because it was 19 pattern pieces and it took three weekends to sew.  I continue to massively underestimate how long it will take me to sew garments.

Exterior pattern pieces, pinned to the front and back of my dress form, so I don't lose any of them.

Tomasa captured me on the hunt for denim.  There's my neoprene backpack in action.

The exterior fabric is two coordinating denims from Mood, purchased during the MPB Day Winter Frolic in early March.  The darker of the two has incredible drape, and I wish I could buy more of it for a denim shirt dress.  The interior fabric is a luscious rayon bemberg, also purchased at Mood the same day.

Based on seeing a PR review where the seamster piped it, I made my own piping using this continuous bias tutorial from The Seasoned Homemaker.   The cording is from Joann's.
Making piping
Clipping the piping on
Piped sleeve edge

I traced the lining pieces (basically view A) in a size 12 onto Swedish tracing paper and sewed the tracing paper as my muslin, but couldn't get the jacket on easily without dislocating a shoulder.   I wound up going with a size 14 and then tapering in the side seams of the real deal.

So, those stripes....the line drawing shows the stripes match all the way across the front and the back but when I sewed the first sleeve in, they did not match.  At first I thought I did something wrong, but was perplexed because the sleeve seemed pretty decently set in to me.
 Then I realized the line drawing and pattern do not match.  You can see the small circles do not correspond to the same stripe.  On the front, this difference is only .25" but in the back the difference is about 1.5".  Earlier this week, Simplicity asked me on IG to email them to discuss the issue offline, and I did, but I haven't heard back.  Anyway, I had no more fabric to recut the sleeve, and no real interest in redrafting the pattern, so I forged ahead and finished the jacket anyway.

I added sleeve heads as per this tutorial to give some support in the shoulder area and make up for some slightly imperfect sewing there.  Drafting and making the sleeve heads is honestly a piece of cake.
Sleevehead sewn in

Sewing the lining to the jacket
It takes a village...of wonderclips to help set in the sleeve.

Instead of following the instructions, I think I basically bagged the lining, so the only part that is handsewn is the bottom of the jacket.

Before sewing the lining in...
With the lining in, my tag, and the Mood tag

Hooks and eyes
This might merit its own blog post.  I think I'm going to sew the hooks and eyes in again.  I didn't do any RTW research before sewing them in; instead I went by my 1960's sewing books.  The bottom set of hooks and eyes keeps coming undone as I wear the jacket.

I've paired my jacket with my Sewaholic Davie navy blue dress.  I think it's a great combo.


Be well!

Monday, April 4, 2016

Athleisure Wear: Three Little Bears Edition

Juuuuuust right!

Soooooo....back over holiday break I made the heart sweatshirt....and since then I've made two more sweatshirts and a pair of sweatpants.  Mainelydad, who tracks all the Milan runway trends for me, says this is officially called Atheleisure.  Ok, let's strut the runway!!
Ok, so I did not wear this to work. This was just for the photos!
Boom!  Elbow patches!

Versions and Fabric Guide:
Version 1.0:  Juicy anchor stretch sweatshirt fabric; navy blue no-stretch sleeves from Joann's.
Version 2.0:  Pre-quilted gray soft-on-both sides stretch sweatshirt fabric from Joann's with darker gray contrasting stretch terry that I think has its origins at Kashi's.
Version 3.0:  Pre-quilted gray gray soft-on-both sides stretch sweatshirt fabric from Joann's with stretch aqua terry from Joann' a pair of sweatpants to boot!

Note: I was planning on using the pre-quilted stretch sweatshirt fabric for a dress but then decided I would look too much like a roll of quilted paper towels and went this route.

Elbow Patches
I used McCall's 6992 for all three sweatshirts, and added heart elbow patches to each one.  Like the three little bears, I think the first elbow patch I sewed on (the red one) is too small, the second one (the gray on gray) is too big and the third one is juuuuust the right size.

Tips for sewing elbow patches on stretch fabric

  • Interface the heart and the area of the sleeve the patch will be sewn to.
  • Never ever pick up the presser foot to pivot except at the two points
  • Don't use too tight a zig zag stitch (I have to look up what settings I used).
  • If there is part of the heart that doesn't look good, undo just that part and redo it.  You won't be able to tell where you stopped and started.
  • Always practice with samples first
  • Triple check that your patches are in the right location, otherwise you will rip them both out when they both turn out to be too low or too high...ask me how I know.  :(
It was too low....the threads mark the former location....

I felt the neckline was too high on the first version, so I cut an inch off the neckline all the way around, but it came out too big.
For the second version, I cut the neckline an inch lower in CF and CB, but kept the rest of the neckline the same.
For the third version, I cut the neckline as per the pattern, and it was juuuuust right.  (No, I don't know why it felt too high the first time and just fine the third time!)

Binding the neckline
I bound the neckline by cutting a long strip of the contrasting knit crosswise, serge the long raw edges, stitch it down RS to RS while stretching the binding, then turn the binding to the wrong side, and stitch near, but not in, the ditch.  If I had sewn it the way the pattern instructs, the neckline would be higher overall.
Stiching near but not in the ditch, using my blind hem foot as a guide.
The raw edges were serged and then I twin needle stitched on my machine.
Difficult to do on the sleeve hem...
...but easier to sew on the pants.
Interior edges
I basted first on my sewing machine and then serged on my serger.  By the third version I suppose I could have just gone for it and serged it all on serger but I wasn't confident enough.
But wait, there's more...I also made sweatpants and added a pocket for my phone.  I meant for the placement to be like cargo pants pockets. The pocket wound up being too high, but conveniently located.

Is this photo kind of creepy?  I'm never ever owning a full body dressform, ever.
Less creepy?
I used Pamela's Fantastic Elastic and her method for sewing the elastic to the pants, but I divide the pants and elastic into eighths instead of quarters.

Overall Verdict
I like version 1.0, but the sleeves are non-stretch fabric, so not as comfy as they could be.
Version 2.0 is pretty awesome, because I love how the back of the quilted fabric feels--it is fantastic!
But I love love love version 3.0 because of the color combo and how both of the fabrics feel--super soft..

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Sewing Blogger Interview by Faye's Sewing Adventures


Faye from Faye's Sewing Adventure interviewed me today on her blog--thank you Faye for including me in your series of sewing blogger interviews!!

Monday, March 21, 2016

The Neoprene Backpack Experiment Using Mollie Makes Issue 42

Y'all know I love that backpack I made last year.   It's probably the best thing I ever made.   While it's the perfect size for a wallet, keys, phone, plus a few little things, and is fully lined with interfacing, etc, as well as being totally built to last,  I wanted a bag a little bigger and lighter for trips to NYC or even walking into town at lunch.
I have also been somewhat attracted to double faced neoprene.  I thought neoprene was pretty light, so the plan was to make an unlined backpack with the dark side of the neoprene facing out, and the lighter side in, because I prefer my bags to have light linings as it makes it easier to see the contents of my bag.   The plan was also to use plastic hardware and nylon zippers to also keep the weight down.

I bought 3/4 of a yard of double faced neoprene from a local, independent fabric store in Kingston, NJ called "More Than a Notion Fabrics".  This fabric is $40 a yard, making it the most expensive fabric (on a per yard basis) I've ever purchased.  It is a "hot raspberry" on one side and black on the other, and ~2 mm thick.
The cat bed stage of bag making....

First I did some internet research on how to sew with neoprene.  The best advice I found was from Catherine Daze's blog, where she said to use the biggest needle available, which for me was a 110/18 leather needle I found at Joann's.  It is a super thick and substantial needle.     I lowered the tension on my machine to a 3 and used a 3.0 stitch length and 4.0 stitch length for topstitching.

I was also warned about not using pins as they leave holes.  I love wonder clips, so I used them.  When I did have to rip something out, I did so carefully and then ironed (with a press cloth) the neoprene on the cotton setting with a dry iron and it sealed the holes up, or at least enough that it was good enough!

The Mollie Makes floral backpack; the leather 110/18 needles

As for the pattern, I used the floral backpack pattern from Mollie Makes Issue 42 as the base, but put my own pocket on the front, as I wanted a zipper and theirs was a magnetic closure.  Their templates are free on their website.  I have a few warnings about this pattern:

  • There are no test squares on any of their pattern sheets to verify the pattern is the right size.  Be sure to have your PDF settings set to "Actual Size" instead of "Fit to Print" (as I did the first time I printed the pattern).   
  • Their patterns are meant to be printed on A4 paper (they are a UK mag) and  I'm in the US so the labels for each page were cut off.
  • There are no grainlines on this pattern so I cut the "band" (for lack of a better term) with the grain so that it wouldn't be prone to stretching.
  • If you do line the bag, do not follow the instructions which have you handstiching the lining to the zipper at the end.  Instead, make a zipper sandwich with your zipper and exterior fabric and lining pieces and go from there.
So then I started sewing, knowing that this is just an experiment and maybe #thismightnotendwell.   I had a few false starts here and there, but it actually ended very well!

The main zipper

Surprisingly, the main zipper is a 22" purse zipper from Joann's!  It is an "O" type zipper, meaning it has two closed ends and two sliders, like a luggage zipper.  This zipper is totally perfect!

Unusual pattern shape
Sewing the piping across the side of the bag

The pocket zippers

The pocket zippers are nylon zippers from Emmaline bags website.  I love the little foxtail pull.
Another pocket

I added another pocket for my calling cards, no zipper so I can access them easily.  

More surprises

  • At a few points I wanted to sharpie marker the raspberry edge but then I decided not to.  It is neat to see those pops of color
  • I was surprised at how heavy the neoprene was.
  • I was more surprised at how heavy the straps were!  The strapping is cotton and from Pacific Trimming, stored in my stash, and that really weighed the bag down.  
  • I had already sewn in the nylon zippers, but because of the above, I decided to use metal rectangle rings and sliders.
  • It actually doesn't feel too heavy wearing it.  Phew!  

The raw edges
  • Initially I was going to leave the edges raw
  • Then I bound some of the edges in narrow double fold bias tape which looked nice to finish the raw edge itself, but my stitching line of the bag pieces was with black thread, and on hot pink it didn't look so good (especially as I sewed over some seams many times to get the piping to be as close as possible.  
  • 20160228_113824
  • A commenter on IG suggested using strips of bias tape to wrap around the whole edge. I wound up using strips of black ponte knit and that really made the binding look nice, professional and intentional!  Yay!
  • 20160228_154834
Having a machine with an extension bed, and one that is powerful enough for quilting, really helps with bag making.  This is my BabyLock Soprano and is the first bag I have made on this machine.  The amount of power this machine has is amazing.

The verdict
I love it!  It is a great size, holds a lot without being too large, and is very functional.  I have used it almost every day since making it and really enjoy it.  There is a little journal (actually the Five Minute Journal, have you heard of it?) I have been carrying around that has a white cover, and the raspberry is rubbing off on it, but that doesn't bother me.  However, it is something to be aware of:  the color might rub off.  It kind of makes me wonder if the black is rubbing off on the back of my coat, but my coat is a dark gray so I guess I wouldn't notice til it's time to switch coats.

Be well!