Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Wearable Archer Muslin

Before we left on our trip, I made a muslin of the Grainline Studios Archer shirt (it being Archer Appreciation Month, after all!) I originally had planned to add this to my last post, but it seemed a bit too disjointed. So here's a mini post to round out the year.

I made the shirt from a king-sized 100 percent cotton sheet I got at Ikea in the As-Is bin for $10. Definitely a nice shirt to throw on top of a swimsuit and the muslin process went very well -- I just need to add a good amount of length before I sew up my final version in plaid flannel. Maybe 3-5 inches?

I went all-machine on this one -- I even sewed the buttons on by machine! I love finding reasons to test out all of my fancy machine features. I don't think this is a feature I'll use all the time, but it was fun to try and I was limited on time before we left for the trip.

Archer is a great pattern and I can't wait to get started on my plaid flannel version next! There isn't much I'm planning to change -- I just have to decide which pieces I want to cut on the bias.

Hope you all had wonderful holidays and are planning to ring in the new year with style. See you in 2014!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Sailing in the Caribbean and Exciting News!

Greg and I just returned from a fabulous trip sailing in the Caribbean and, in major news, we're engaged!

The charter boat skipper I used to work for, Capt. Phil, took his boat to the Caribbean for the winter and invited us down for a couple of weeks. We flew into Guadeloupe, where we joined the boat. We sailed south to Les Saintes, then sailed to Basse-Terre and then sailed north to Antigua. 

We stayed in Antigua for quite a while, exploring the island around Falmouth Harbor and English Harbor, which were beautiful. We spent some time on the beach, drank lots of rum punch and did a lot of wandering around. It was heavenly. 

We were hiking in Nelson's Dockyard National Park when Greg proposed. (Near the powder storage building pictured above.) 

... and then we hiked back down and had cold Cokes to celebrate. Ha! It was really hot and sweaty that day. And showers on the boat were limited, which is why there is a dearth of pictures featuring our faces. You're welcome. 

OK, so here's one of me on the short trip from Falmouth Harbor to English Harbor. Thurlow shorts for the win! 

Anyway, we're already knee-deep in wedding planning. We decided to get married this spring/early summer our at Gregs' parents' house in Leesburg -- and of course I'll be making my own dress, so let me know if you have tips on wedding-dress-making, especially sewing with lace. And if you want to come to the Garment District with me to look for said lace. ;-)

Monday, December 16, 2013

Things I've Sewn (With Nancy) Lately: McCall's M6408

Continuing my recent theme of snuggly tops to wear with my Jalie leggings and boots, I recently picked up McCall's M6408 by Nancy Zieman. Oh yes. Sewing with Nancy. 

Since fleece was on sale for $3 a yard, I decided to make this out of fleece first to be sure I liked the style on myself. Plus, fleece is snuggly. I know it's totally '90s of me, but since I cannot wear any kind of wool at all ever, so I love my fleece. Somehow I bought juuuuust a smidge too little fabric and ended up having to piece one of the ties. Woops.

I was worried this might be much too bathrobe-esque for public consumption, but my Instagram followers seemed to be overwhelmingly in favor of this outfit, which, in pictures at least, I think looks like wool.

And I will admit, this outfit is comfortable beyond belief. 

This pattern is also ridiculously easy to make up. I did this one, cutting the pattern to hemming the bottom, in a single night.

The only thing I hated in this pattern was the original sleeve. It was almost kimono-like in its largeness. I removed a large portion (maybe 5 inches?) of width from the elbow down and then added a cuff so it wouldn't flap in the breeze. 

After the success of the fleece version, I made one out of stone-colored ponte knit from Mood.

The ponte is much thinner and less fluffy than the fleece, so the sleeves are a touch long and the shoulders are a bit slouchy, but, surprisingly, this bothers me not at all. I kind of like the slightly oversized slouchy look in this sweater. I could see myself shortening the sleeve at the cuff I added maybe, but probably not.

For both of them, I basted the seams and then serged. This was my first time using ponte, and let me tell you -- the rumors are true. It's amazing. So amazing, in fact, that I ordered more ponte during Mood's Black Friday sale. Serges like a dream!

You can tie this in the back, too, but I wasn't a fan of that look. The pattern also includes a straight hem and options without a tie (definitely not a fan of that look.)

Overall, I really like it. I might even make it again sometime, though for now, I think two is enough, so I'll have to find another use for the ponte I just ordered. Ideas?

The real question though: Who knew Nancy had this much style?

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Things I've Sewn Lately: Simplicity Lisette 2246 Shirtdress

In the fall and winter, I pretty much only want to wear clothes that go over snuggly tights or leggings and boots, so when I spotted this soft blue chambray fabric on my last trip to Mood, I knew I wanted to make a cool-weather shirtdress out of it. 

I've had this pattern, Simplicity Lisette 2246, for a while now, thinking I'd make one of the other views. But I was browsing new-to-me blog Four Square Walls and saw her gorgeous versions. Exactly what I wanted!

Tragedy nearly struck when I unfolded my pattern to realize I'd somehow purchased the wrong size! I got the larger size by mistake -- if you want it, let me know in the comments and leave your email address; I'll gladly mail it to you. I went to JoAnn's and got the last copy they had of my correct size. Phew! Crisis averted.

The dress is fairly simple to construct and it went together quickly. It doesn't have a true collar stand -- I'd call it a fake collar stand -- so you don't even have to deal with that.

I did have a couple small fit issues. I thought I could get away (I don't know why) without cutting multiple sizes, so I had to use the seam allowances, which are down to basically nothing at the bottom, to compensate for my pear-shape. And we all know I almost never make a muslin. Woops. 

On the inside, I finished all my seams by serging with white thread. Actually, what I tend to do is pre-finish all my seams -- any seam I know will be exposed, I serge the edge before sewing, when I don't have a whole garment to contend with. I don't know if this is technically "wrong" but it sure helps with fabric like this, which just wants to fray fray fray! Plus, it cuts down on the chance that you accidentally feed a piece of your garment into the serger. Not that I've ever done that. More than a few times. 

I made the buttonholes with my automatic buttonhole foot, then I fray-checked over them and then I cut them with a buttonhole cutter.

If you don't have a buttonhole cutter (real talk: I stole mine from my mom) then you should invest in one ASAP (unless, of course, you don't like buttons.) Buttonhole cutters make the best, most professional buttonholes ever. I wish I'd never read whatever tutorial convinced me I could use my seam-ripper. I should have listened to my mother, who suggested a buttonhole cutter.

I also sewed a small plastic snap into the space between buttons at my chest. That way it never gapes, even when I stretch my arms or whatever. Sneaky, right?

The only thing I don't love about this fabric is its propensity to wrinkle like nobody's business.


But it's so soft I can forgive its minor flaws.

And I can forgive my minor flaws, like not easing the sleeve caps enough.

I wore this to Christine's baby shower recently (I made baby stuff for the first time! And didn't take any pictures -- woops. I'll see if I can fix that next month when the baby is here to model.) She liked it so much, she and Mark asked me to be the baby's godmother!

Just kidding. I'm pretty sure they asked me to be the godmother because we're sort of friends a little bit. :-P

But whatever! This dress is just what I wanted and I will definitely make it again.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Things I've Sewn Lately: Avocado for Women

I posted last week about the Avocado hoodie I made for Greg, but I also wanted to show off one I made for myself. 

This one is out of plain old apparel fleece from JoAnn's, which was on sale for $3 a yard a couple weeks ago. The lining for the pockets and hood is a small piece of black stretchy fabric I had left over from something else. Which means that this project came in SUPER cheap. Love that!

This hoodie is super snuggly and I wear it all the time.

I actually made a different Avocado for myself before this one, out of heart-print terry fabric (I know, I know, another heart print -- I swear I can't help it!) I bought off Etsy from South Korea. Unfortunately, since it wasn't very stretchy, I sized up, and I don't particularly care for the fit. Also, I royally messed up the hood on that one.

For this one, I sized down to my correct size and I couldn't be more pleased with the fit. The one thing I did need to seriously fix, though, was the sleeve length. For some reason, possibly fabric-related, I had to add a TON of length to the bottom part of the sleeves where the thumb hole is to make the sleeves long enough for me. (Could also be my ape arms -- I'm fairly tall.)

Of course I put the awesome back pockets in this one, so that Greg has a place to warm his hand when he's got his arm around me.

I love the style lines on this hoodie -- they are so different from a normal hoodie and they make it much more flattering than your average college-style hoodie.

I did MUCH better with this one's hood. I had to think carefully about the overlap, but I finally got it together.

And here's a close-up of those sleeves I had to lengthen.

I'm wearing the hoodie here with some Jalie leggings and a Sewaholic Renfrew, which is a go-to outfit for me these days.

Not a whole lot else to say about the pattern since I reviewed it fairly thoroughly in my last post, but definitely a pattern I'll make again. I love this outfit for working at home and when I like a pattern, I tend to make it several times. I was like that with RTW clothing too, back when I bought my clothing. If I find something that I like, that fits well and is comfortable, I want multiples!

How about you? Do you like multiples of the same garment? Or is that just me? ;-)

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Unselfish Sewing: A Hoodie for Greg

I recently fell in love with the Disparate Disciplines Avocado Hoodie (they just released a super-cute new mitten pattern, too! That's totally on my to-do list.) 

Anyway, when I bought the pattern, I showed it to Greg and asked if I should buy the two-pack men's/women's pattern (you save some if you buy both.) He enthusiastically said yes. 

I made one for myself first, to test the pattern, then I made this one for Greg. The fabric is a fleece-backed Lycra from Fabric Mart in Pennsylvania. It's a lovely fabric and I highly recommend it. I also made some leggings out of it recently. 

For the pocket lining, we used an old t-shirt Greg had from Bike to Work Day 2009. The bottom of the shirt was the perfect size for a pocket lining. I do wish that I'd lined his hood, though, since the fabric we used is very thin.

The instructions can be slightly confusing -- I highly recommend reading Brooke's post before you start. The flat picture she took really helped me understand how the pockets were supposed to go together. I also took a few tries to understand how the hood was supposed to attach. But once you get it, it's truly a great pattern. The pieces fit together like magic.

The neatest feature of this hoodie is that it features pockets in the back, so that when someone wants to put their arm around you, you have a place to keep your hand warm (and maybe tickle a tummy while you're at it.) Actually, since it's all one giant pocket inside, you could put your hand in and hold hands inside the pouch if you wanted. Awww. 

Basically, this hoodie is super cute in terms of cuddliness. 

Avocado also has long sleeves and thumb holes -- though Greg did request that on his next version, I lengthen the sleeve just a bit. (I made the same alteration to mine.) 

So far, I've seen Greg chop wood, do yard work and hang out around the house in his hoodie, which I've already washed 3-4 times. And, bonus! It fits much more nicely than his old baggy cross country sweatshirts from college.

This was my first time making "menswear" but I think it worked out pretty well, though there are things I'll change slightly for next time (sleeve length, thumbhole placement, hood lining.) 

All my favorite friends wear black hoodies and white t-shirts -- even Lyra and Porter! Though I do hope you'll forgive the dogs for wearing real fur -- they don't believe in fake fur... ;)

Oh right! We got a second dog, by the way. The black-and-white dog on the right is Porter, rescued from the same place we got Lyra. They look like they're plotting against us in this photo, don't they? Poor Porter had to have a surgery this week and isn't feeling so well right now, poor boy.

Greg's so supportive of my sewing habit -- and such a trooper with my requests to just run by JoAnn's "real quick" for some thread -- that it's an absolute pleasure to sew for him. We've already bought some apparel fleece for version 2.0 for him and I can't wait to get started on it. :)

I'll do another post about my own Avocado hoodie; it got to be too much for a single post!