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Thursday, January 24, 2013

New Vogue Patterns!

I'm so excited about these new Vogue patterns!  In keeping with my desire to sew clothes I'll wear in my everyday life, I won't be showing the cocktail dresses, fabulous though they may be (looking at you, 1339, 1342, and 1340).

I'll be making 1343 ASAP.  I think I even have a good fabric, if I have enough.  With some flat sandals, I can wear this to take the kids to swim lessons and stuff, right?
1344 is really cute, but I'll probably stick with the one above. 
I am drawn to 1337 between the blousey top and wide belt.  Maybe this would be cute over leggings, or maybe i could shorten it to a top to wear with cropped slim pants.  I even like the batwing effect, which usually doesn't excite me.
I like the simple shape of this vintage dress, too.  8875 could be another cute, casual dress in a fun cotton.
8882 is a very cute skirt.  I'm trying to imagine it apart from my imaginary Italian vacation.

8883 look very cute as the shorts option, but I'm not sure...  Might wait to see these made up a few times first.  :-)

8884 looks like a really great jacket.  I do not need any more jackets, though.  For real this time.

8888 looks like some nice summer jammies.  I'm  more the cozy knit jammie type, though.

Vogue 1257

Hello, everyone!  This past Saturday, my family had a totally relaxing, stay-at-home kind of day.  I decided sometime mid-morning that I was going to start sewing something new.  I pawed through my patterns and fabrics and came up with this pairing - Vogue 1257 with some deep red ponte knit from JoAnns. 
                 Can I tell you, this stuff is beautiful and washes with no pills or roughness - a really nice beefy knit, and you can't beat the price when it's on sale or with a coupon.  I see much more of it in my future.  I just wish they had some more colors and maybe some stripes or something.

Anyway, here is the dress:
The obvious change is that mine is short-sleeved... not by my design.  I was going with the long sleeves, but they were just way too tight.  After I let them out as much as possible, I could still barely get the dress all the way on and had serious sausage-casing arms.  I'm not sure whose fault this is - the ponte I used has very little stretch and only in one direction, but the pattern calls for 2-way stretch, so that shouldn't have been a problem.  Since the sleeves are cut-on with the front, the are cut from the direction of the fabric with no stretch.  I just hacked off the sleeves very short, and it fits, although the sleeves are still snug around my biceps - I blame all the time I've been spending pumping iron at the gym.  If I make this again (and I may), I will simply cut the sleeves wider.  Luckily, the fit on the rest of the dress is perfect with no alterations.
I cut the skirt portion a bit more A-line than the pattern piece, and I like the swingier shape with the gathering detail.  One part I will pay more attention to in a future version is the placement of the bodice overlap so that it looks more like it's flowing into the skirt detail.  It looks perfect on the pattern envelope, so I'm not sure if I matched up dots incorrectly or what.  It doesn't bug me enough for me to go unpicking seams to fix it, though.
The back view shows how the back skirt is plain but with 4 darts.  I was a bit concerned this would be too tight on my bum, but I think it lays nicely.  I didn't plan to necessarily finish this dress in one day, but that's what happened, so I wore it to church on Sunday.  I think this is casual enough, though, that I could wear it with some flat sandals in summer.  It is SUPER comfortable, and the gathered detail at the waist means I don't feel the need to constantly suck in my tummy.  :-)
I think the profile view is fine and won't elicit any questions about pregnancy, as can be a problem with some gathered above-waist skirts.
Here is a closeup so you can see what I mean about the pleats and gathers not really lining up right with the knot.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


This is kind of off-topic from the sewing I've been doing recently, but I know my big sister wants to see this, so here is the headboard I made for my little guy about a year ago.

Lest you be too impressed, I just followed these plans from Ana White.  I didn't even make the whole bed - just slapped the headboard onto a $40 Ikea bed.  The green pieces are bits of my other son's loft bed.  They chose to share a room over a year ago and haven't looked back.  It's nice to know we could live happily in a two-bedroom house if we needed to.  :-)

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Chanel-style jacket - part 1

This is my weekly UFO/refashion post.  I was feeling ambitious this week, so I pulled out a "UFO" that consisted of just the cut pieces of a Chanel-style sweater jacket.  I am not in the habit of cutting out patterns to sew at a later date.  I'm not sure why I cut this one out and never sewed a single stitch, but there it was. 

The pattern is Vogue 7975, which I've never made before.  I remember cutting out this jacket RIGHT before Claire Shaeffer's Vogue 8805 was release, and then I thought, "oh nuts, I should have waited for this one."  Oh well, I'll get around to that one soon enough.  The thing is, I've read all of the recent Vogue Pattern Magazine stories by Claire Shaeffer about making this style jacket, and I read one of her books which discusses this extensively, so when I actually sewed up this jacket this week, I didn't even look at any directions. 

I followed the basic construction I remembered - quilt the shell to the lining, leaving seam allowances free, machine-stitch the pieces together keeping the lining free, and then hand stitch the lining together at each seam.  Time-intensive, yes, but not difficult.  The right neckline looks a bit wonky in this photo, so I may redo that.  What's missing now is all of the lovely trim that makes it special (and the patch pockets I didn't add yet).  I'm planning a hook and eye closure for this jacket.  The fabric is some yummy Linton Tweed I picked up in England.  Oh it was lovely living in Europe.  :-)

Shout out to my mommy and daddy who gave me the dress form for Christmas. :-)  I am having much fun with it!

Butterick 5469 Boiled Wool Jacket

Thank you for the nice comments on my wool pencil skirt and weighing in on the tuck-or-no-tuck dilemma!  The comments mostly confirmed to me that untucked is a better look with that skirt, but there's nothing wrong with tucked either.  On to the next... 

I bought this boiled wool fabric at a fabric market in Germany about 4 years ago.  I think I remember being very pregnant at the time.  Boiled wool jackets are traditional in that area (though not very popular for everyday wear now from what I saw), and my mom has a few.  I tried on a bunch while I lived there but the ones I liked never had long enough sleeves for my monkey arms. 

After I found the fabric I liked, I couldn't decide on a pattern.  Thick boiled wool wouldn't take well to darts or a lot of seams.  Eventually I paired the fabric up with Butterick 5469, now out of print, but I still worried there were too many seams.  While I was sewing it last week, the weather was quite cool and I was getting excited to actually wear this jacket here in Florida.  Of course, now that it is complete, we are back in the 70s here.

The only change I made to this jacket was to lengthen the sleeves.  If I were to make it again (I keep thinking it would be nice in linen texture), I would lengthen it a bit.  It is quite a "shrunken" fit. 
The boiled wool ended up working very well with this pattern.  The princess seams lay nicely, and the pockets have great body with the pleating detail but aren't too bulky.
Here is a closeup of the details.  The pockets are pleated to stand away from the body a bit.  Instead of attaching the collar and front facings in the usual way, I just attached them wrong-sides together and trimmed close to the stitching (closer on the outside than inside) for a decorative finish with no bulk.  The sleeve hems and bottom hem are just left raw since boiled wool doesn't ravel and I didn't want the bulk of hems.
This jacket was actually quite quick to make since there is no lining and lots of raw edges.  :-)

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Wool pencil skirt... to tuck or not to tuck?

When I go through my closet and get rid of things, there are always a couple of things I can't bear to part with yet.  Because of that, I have a pile of older clothes waiting for me to do some type of refashion, and I still have some UFOs, even after finishing or pitching many of them a year or so ago.  Since I'm really working on enjoying what I have (stash sewing and such), I'm going to try to do a weely or bi-weekly UFO finish or refashion.  We'll see how long this lasts...
Here is my first entry - a wool pencil skirt.  I've had the fabric for at least five years (one of my very first Sawyer Brook purchases) and the half-finished skirt for about three.  I have no clue what the pattern is, but it's a straight-forward pencil skirt with some waist tucks and a narrow waistband.
Last night, all I had to do was add the waistband, zipper, and hems, and I was ready for church this morning.
Now here is my question - do you think it looks better with a top tucked or untucked?  I don't have a very defined waist, and the waist I do have is quite high, so I feel like I look proportionally "off" a lot of times if I tuck in a top.  I wore the skirt to church today with an untucked top, but I was a little sad it covered the tucks.
I think the proportion looks fine from the back - it's just the front where I feel like it looks super high-waisted
I was worried the pleats would make the skirt poof out over my belly area, but that's wasn't a problem.
Closeup of the tucks.
and super closeup of the fabric.  Soooo gorgeous.  I bought about a yard and a half of this before I knew much about fabric requirements for sewing different garments.  I think it was a remnant and I had dreams of sewing a jacket... with 1.5 yards.  Ha!!  It took me several years to come to terms with the fact that I just didn't have enough fabric, and a skirt was the way to go.
So back to my question, do you think it looks better tucked or untucked?  Am I just way too concerned with the position of my waist ?

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Matching Toddler and Doll Clothes

I made my almost-two-year-old niece her Christmas gift this year, and from what I hear, she likes it.  :-)  She is very involved with her "Baby" a bitty baby doll, and Baby only had one outfit, so Aunt Jenny made her and her doll a matching outfit and pj's.
These aren't the best photos since I took them a dark December night while frantically wrapping and packing a mailer. 
Here are th ematching skirt outfits.  For E's little tees, I traced an old pj top of my son's in the appropriate size.  I also had my sister take some critical measurements of the little model (waist, sleeve length, diaper girth...)  For the doll, I found a lot of the measurements online and got the rest from my sister also (such as doll head circumference to make sure the shirts fit over her head).
I didn't want the tees to be too boring, so I added a little braid detail to the necklines.
For the jammies, I also traced old 2t clothes of my son's and worked off my baby doll measurements.
I've had this knit print from JoAnns sitting around for awhile, waiting for the perfect niece project.
I think they turned out really cute, and, more importantly, I hear that Miss E likes them.  I'm planning to do the same for her second birthday coming up in a couple months.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Sweater Tunic

It's a new year!  At least, it was about a week ago.  I would do a year review type deal, but I don't feel like I was that productive last year - in either sewing or blogging, so I am ready to just move on. 

Lately, I've been considering dropping this blog (and I'm sure some of you thought I'd already done so), but I would miss it, so I continue on with my sporadic posting, and as always, I really appreciate you stopping by to see what I'm up to.  :-)

Just a few words on the the new year, though - not really any resolutions per se, but I do have some thoughts that pertain to my sewing.

     1.  It's time to go for it - I often scale back my vision or plan for a fabric because I fear I'll be too scared to wear it or I might just not like it and will have ruined "good" fabric.  I am invariably happier when I go with my original plan (see tunic below!), and I don't want a closet full of safe, blah garments anyway.

     2.  For heaven's sake, I need to sew things I will wear.  I do not need any more church-only dresses!  Conversely, I need to wear what I sew - if I make a little cotton skirt to wear for "everyday," then I need to shave my legs and wear it and not throw on the same jeans as always.

     3.  No more tweed or wool or thick sweater knits.  I need to make peace with the fact that I live in Florida, not the northeast.  Embrace the cotton and linen!  It's January and 80 degrees out today, afterall.

Of course, numbers 2 and 3 are flexible if I am using a fabric already in my stash.  :-)

Now, for a recent creation:

I made this tunic from Sawyer Brook's Banana Cream, a pretty cotton wool sweater knit.  I really liked the shape of this Sixties Jumper from Boden - the looser sleeves and funnel neck - and I liked the pockets on the Retro Jumper.  I envisioned it as a tunic to wear with leggings, but I almost chickened out.  I figured if I made it regular sweater length, then I could wear it a lot more often - with jeans or skirts, and places where I don't feel comfortable wearing leggings, but really, I don't need any more plan old sweaters. 

My pattern for this was my basic tee, Butterick 3344 (out of print).  I just lengthened and widened the hem to a tunic, and I widened the sleeves a bit.  I also drafted the funnel neck. 

In the morning, I wore this with black ballet flats, but by the afternoon, I was chilly and switched to boots.
Ignore the cami shadow - I need to wear it with a different cami.  :-)
In the end, I am really glad I forged ahead with the tunic.  It's a shape I don't really have in my closet, and I think it's fun and comfy!  The cotton in this sweater knit keeps it pretty cool.