Saturday, 16 June 2018

Noelle - Mallori Lane bra top (plus a bonus Watson!)

I have been planning on making this top since I first made Noelle and Mallori Lane bra tops.
My initial problem with Noelle was that (a) I think I was making a size too big, and (b) the back didn't work for me.
My problem with Mallori Lane was that the long line wasn't happening, and without that it was kind of a nothing.  Though I might return to that concept and make some very simple bra tops, it wasn't quite inspiring enough on its own.

I used the back from the Mallori Lane, lower half, and the front from Noelle, size XS, top only, without the long line addition.  I did add a seam allowance which I don't think I needed.  The sides lined up with no adjustment.

This is scuba fabric, also used for this here Watson bra:

The Watson, in a size 32B, fits me correctly around the chest. However unless you have boobs of steel, I think scuba fabric is a bad idea for this type of bra, because it tries to shape the cups too much.  The silk Watson is the one I've made with the best fit, so I think I'll return to that kind of fine, drapey stretch fabrics in the future.  So this bra was a loss because I didn't want weird shaped boobs.

So, back to the main story.  I didn't use any metal loops in the front, and I did a cross back with normal bra strapping and the adjusters in the back.  This was partly to avoid having metal bits on my collarbones, but that was also fixed by being the correct size.  The size small was sitting right on my collarbones.  I pulled slight tension while adding the picot elastic.

And this is perfect!  Exactly what I wanted in a halter-style cross back bra top!  Might not need a whole closet of these, but I'm really satisfied to have finally gotten all the elements to come together nicely.  I would probably add the metal loops in the front next time as it is just nicer looking than trying to sew about 6 layers all together at that spot.

Also, definitely a good option for a swimsuit top.

Friday, 8 June 2018

Victory Patterns Esther pants

The Esther pants were one of the first things I put on my sewing queue this year.  I have been quite good at not rushing to add projects to the list, just in the last few weeks as I prep for a trip I have sewn too much because of not wanting to leave anything undone.  But overall I have really enjoyed having a sewing day at Tessa's, where I can focus on getting one project done from start to finish.  And then not sewing much during the rest of the week - or only sewing quick projects.  Now I'm gearing up for major knitting and I think it'll be a big challenge to not build up sewing queues but to tolerate the slow progression of my knitting instead.

I think I was reviewing all my favourite pattern designers when I had just come back to civilisation from Nepal, and saw that Victory Patterns had put out a new capsule collection.  I adored these on sight.  I love the knit dress/top Frances too but it wasn't a priority.  When I went to buy fabric at the Fabric Store in Auckland I was very dedicated to my pants project, and bought four different types of fabric specifically geared for the four pairs of pants.  It was really overwhelming at the time and I am super pleased to have all of them done now, ready for unveiling.

The fabric is a rayon silk blend with slight texture to it.  It is dark chocolate brown.
I cut a size 4, based on my measurements with no changes.  I knew by using the short hems, they would nearly be ankle length on me, and indeed this is so.  I'm 5'4" and this is the "cropped" length.  Because the pieces are quite wide, you do need more fabric if you have narrow fabric.  This used the expected amount of fabric, and I did not have much left over. 

I did manage to sew them in one go - up to the invisible zipper!  It ends up that Tessa has never done an invisible zipper in her life and didn't have the machine foot for it.  The pants stalled for about 3 weeks while I tried to figure out what to do.  I finally researched online and bought one - she has two Brother sewing machines and the foot was only 13 dollars.  Totally reasonable.

After that it was fast to finish!  I put them on and I've been so happy ever since. The pockets are massive and are hidden behind the pleats.  These do wrinkle a lot but I don't care too much.  They are also not at all bicycle friendly.  No chance.  The length is great, just above the ankle but not high enough on me to make me look short.  They are basically the height of fashion.  I adore them.

The one thing I don't like is the zipper finish.  Because when you put in a zip it means that you have the sizes of that zip kind of hanging out - the Calyer pants with their elastic are SO BEAUTIFUL on the inside, as is the button fly of the Persephone pants.  I did get to overlock all my seams on these and so they are finished very nicely, but I just have to learn how to finish zippers better in order to be satisfied.  I wondered if you could use elastic in the back of these instead but it would really mess up the fantastic drape.

Yet again - amazing instructions.  No problems following them at all.  The pattern came together nicely with no weirdness although it did say to make an ease stitch and then ease the waistband in and I was in too much hurry and just Made It Fit.

That makes pants success number 2!

Saturday, 26 May 2018

ACcH cowl in Outlaw Vanitas DK

I really wanted to make my friend Kate a cowl from this endless yarn that I have (Outlaw Vanitas DK). Five skeins have lasted me through so many projects that I am basically sick of it, though initially it was a colour I loved.  We thrive on variation...

I really wanted to make the thorn stitch cowl.  It is a free pattern and looks so beautiful!  I had planned to do it in Nepal but of course my queue of projects was longer than the time I had.  Then I mentioned it to Kate, because I was going to also shorten it and make it much smaller, and it ends up she, being an artist, loved the idea of a massive droopy cowl.  Hm.  So I had to go full size...

I cast on, which took so many attempts because of counting all the stitches not being my strong point, and then after three rows I realised I simply could not do the pattern.  I mean, I couldn't get my needle into the stitches.  I couldn't do the thorn thing.  It involves turning three stitches into one and I could not do it.  So I went hunting for a quick and easy cowl, as I thought I would be leaving soon and wanted the project done within the week.

I settled on this pattern, ACcH, which I found by hunting around on Ravelry.

I liked the droopiness of it, but I also thought it would be simple enough for me to get through pretty quickly and I liked how you actually do the increases by changing needle size, which is pretty neat.  It took me almost exactly one skein of yarn to do the whole thing.

Kate likes it but I suspect she would love something Even More Massive and Droopy so I have space for improvement for another time. I think that I need to use bigger yarn to satisfy her, this yarn is beautiful though I am thoroughly sick of it, but it's very drapey and relatively fine for a DK weight yarn.

Friday, 25 May 2018

Eased sweater by Alicia Plummer, and associated life limbo

The plans for this sweater sprung fully formed a year ago, in Flagstaff, when I fell in love with the colourway Pocion of Malabrigo Mecha.  I bought all the supplies and thought the sweater might not even be too hard for me.  Then it had to stay behind due to the usual luggage constraints of my life.

Fast forward to my stuff, idling with my parents in Seattle.  I was feeling relatively competent with knitting after my four months in Nepal.  I thought maybe I could whip this out in a few weeks before leaving Seattle to wait out my visa-limbo in New Zealand.  I got the body halfway done before I left...the rest of the sweater was a lazy process dependent on the weather not being too hot or sticky to knit.  New Zealand summer hasn't made me in a hurry to finish this warm jersey!

I skipped all length below the waist, assuming that I wouldn't want any hip shaping.  Otherwise I followed the pattern knitting for the second smallest size.  I think I tend to size down too much in my knitting - things fit but with a lot of negative ease.  This too.  When I tried it on before starting the sleeves I was a little worried I had gone overboard with shortening the waist.  When I wear it I am definitely pulling it down a lot.

It was a great project to move on with - a few new things but mostly stabilising the knowledge I have and not too overwhelming.  Working with size 10 needles also makes things go along really fast.  The weather kept me at a slow pace, but finally, it's done!! In fact, just the day the weather hit 9 degrees, I put it on and wore it for two days before even thinking about blocking it, or weaving in the one last loose end.  I will do those things eventually but of course now it's too cold and nothing dries - but I want to see whether I can pull it a bit longer.

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Me Made May, week 2

Well hello again.
This week of Me-Made-May included the following, a lot of which is unblogged!  Posts of those unblogged items will follow once I have gotten some suitable pictures.

Thurlow Jeans
Many of the same things from last week
New Mabel miniskirt x 2 (I wore both of them, a lot)
Ondee top
Persephone pants
Briar in yellow (unblogged and likely to remain that way.  I have nothing new to say about this top)
Cocoon cardigan
silk Penny top
mystery swimsuit no. 2

I am happily at work in my pants-binge.  I have to say that the amazing new pants patterns coming out are overwhelming me with the quality of their instructions, the quality of my results, and I'm really excited to see the final 2 pairs (of 4 planned) as they become real,wearable things!  I've avoided making pants for awhile because I have so many awesome pants from op-shops/consignment shops that I don't really NEED to make pants.  But a girl can only make so many tshirts before she has to expand the me-made wardrobe a bit...

Monday, 14 May 2018

Knit to woven: Grainline Hemlock and Penny tees

The inspiration for making some shapeless knit tees in woven fabric came about because I have a length of fantastic cream linen with flocked chartreuse spots on it.  You don't think that sounds amazing?  You just haven't seen it, or gotten to pet the spots.  So I was kind of at a loss for what to do.  Washing it made the spots start to shred.  So I wanted something that would suit the linen but wouldn't need a lot of washing.

Take 1 is the Grainline Penny Raglan tee. I'm not the first person to have made it from wovens.  My knit versions have mostly been gifted away except for the blue one with stars.  I think in a knit it should be done in something super drapey like rayon or bamboo, otherwise it's too shapeless.

However, the combination of silk charmeuse and knit sleeves worked fantastically!  This is the same size I made in the past - XS, totally not at all my measurements, but I knew my tolerance for oversized was limited.  This is very short though, which is more obvious in a woven than it was in the knit.  I would lengthen future versions.  I'm short waisted so you don't hear me say that very often...

The neckline gathered a bit at the front due to my binding and I actually like that effect quite a lot.  In order to preserve it, I didn't topstitch the neckline.  I also added sleeve bindings which I didn't topstitch, but will, because the stitching keeps flipping out.  This top has become a surprise success.  I love its breezy comfort and the ridiculous pattern is nicely broken up by the black sleeves.

Next I moved onto the Grainline Hemlock.  My first version of this was in relatively heavy organic cotton and was such a fail.  Yet again, only drapey, lightweight fabrics could save this pattern.  But first - lightweight silk, sleeveless.  This would benefit from an overlocker to finish the side seams - as usual I got caught by French seams that create an awkward V where you start hemming the sleeve.  I'm tempted to try this one with a little bit of sleeve on it.  Maybe not full length, but just a few inches worth.  Still, it's another surprise success in silk.  Because the sleeves go over my shoulders, this top looks crappy under a cardigan, it bunches up in weird ways.  But alone it looks just fine.

Also of note, I was planning to have the front pieces purposefully unmatched.  Go figure when I specifically try to not pattern match, that I end up with almost perfect matching...

The flocked spots might end up being raglan sleeves on a Penny top, but most of that fabric has been co-opted by an artist friend of mine who convinced me I should use it to make her a dress for an important gallery opening.  I reckon when an artist falls in love with a fabric, a smart person shouldn't stand in the way of that relationship. 

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Secondo Piano InstincTee - free pattern

Sasha from Secondo Piano seems to sew only perfect things.  Her blog is a monument to how I wish I could sew - thoughtful, referent to her style, unique and creative.

Her free tshirt pattern was designed with the intent that we all can make a tshirt, and therefore should have access to a great, simple and basic tshirt pattern - in order to minimise the fast fashion/overconsumption of buying cotton tshirts farmed on cotton-unfriendly land and made in employee-unfriendly Bangladesh and in other xx factories around the world.

I liked that in her initial post she pointed out how important it is to also think about the fabrics that we buy and where they come from.  Cotton has long been touted as a magical fabric, and so it's important to remember that cotton can be farmed easily in very few places because it demands specific weather conditions and huge amounts of water.  Cotton farming has led to the lowering of aquifers in the southeastern part of the United States.

Lately I've shopped quite a bit in op-shops/consignment shops/thrift stores.  This sometimes makes me feel like sewing is almost unnecessary.  I have a body shape that fits in things easily so I don't require changes to everything I buy, and there are So Many Cheap Things in op shops - it seems stupid to ever consider buying new.  Especially since as a shopaholic I know all the brands and am perfectly happy riffling through racks of cheap shit to find the awesome $5 pants that I know sold in a shop for $200.  Sewing can be so wasteful!  I do love upcycling but sometimes it can be frustrating as you have less control over your materials, compared to a nice flat meter of fabric.  I've come out of this with the reminder that sewing for me is a hobby - it's a luxury to make my own things to my own taste.

With all that said, here's my take on Sasha's tshirt.
I made the XS.
It fit perfectly with one change - 1 removed the bottom 2 inches of the shirt.

It unfortunately gained a bunch of melted polyester around the neck because my friend was ironing before me.  Also the sewing machine I'm using right now isn't friendly with such stretchy knits, and so I expect the hem and sleeves to pop stitches soon.  I really like the precise fit (despite somewhat demented expressions in photos) and so I will use this pattern again, but for now I think I have enough tshirts and I have to stop making more!