Monday, 28 April 2014

Stripy nauticalness

Prepare yourselves for photo overload!!  Because I am in LOVE with this little dress almost as much as I am with the overwhelming gorgeousness of the model and yes it's my daughter yes I'm biased no not sorry she's just the cutest!

And the dress, oh the dress. I adore this stripy fabric so much that it was fully and selfishly intended to be a dress for ME ME ME.  For some incomprehensible reason the Chien Vert was selling it off in cheap coupons, and I snapped up about three yards as quick as I possibly could.  What you can see for yourselves is that it's wonderfully, nautically stripy.  What you can't see is how absolutely gorgeous it feels. It's soft and smooth and stretchy and stable, with the most perfect balance of drape and solidity, heavy enough to be warm, but oh-so-deliciously cool against the skin. (For those who know, it feels like a slightly heavier-weight Lillestoff).

Sadly, the dress for me was not to be. First I cut it a size too small. Then I tried again, with a curved yoke upon which stripes could not be matched - a rather obvious mistake that I cursed myself for repeatedly, before bowing to the inevitable and cutting this little darling out of the remains and scraps.  It's not much to show for my 2.8 metres, but it IS absolutely perfect on L. I guess this is just what fate had in mind for it all along.

By the time I was done with making my failed attempts, I was utterly fed up with matching stripes and nearly didn't bother again. But you know what - it's ALWAYS worth it.  This next picture is blurred - she just couldn't keep still - but serendipitously in focus is that beautiful meeting of stripes on the shoulder. And you can hardly even see the side seams! It totally makes the whole thing, and I am ever so smugly satisfied that past-me bothered after all.

The pattern is the roller skate dress by Oliver & S, which I've made her before in woven fabrics (see here and here).  It's extremely comfortable in a knit - in fact, I think it's much better - but it did involve changing things up a bit. The dress as designed is fully lined, which in this fabric would have been much too thick and heavy.  To sew it in one layer, I made three changes.

First, to finish the neckline, I cut the decorative facing pattern pieces but used it like a normal facing on the inside.  I hemmed it, as the fabric curled a LOT, and then topstitched it down on the outside about an inch from the neckline edge. All dictated by necessity, but I really like how it came out. To finish the sleeves, I simply turned under a half-inch hem and stitched it down. The armholes on this dress are very, very curved - I don't think this could work with non-stretch fabric. As it was, I sewed the sleeve hems before sewing the side seams, so I could stretch the hem around the corners easier. I also didn't finish the inside hem edge (fortunately, of course, being a knit, it's not needed).  All told it's not the tidiest of solutions on the inside, but on the outside it looks just fine.

Finally, instead of sewing the elastic casing between the lining and outer dress, I simply sewed a strip of fabric to use as a casing on the inside of the dress. I ignored the curved markings on the pattern and just sewed it in a straight line, on top of one of the stripes - so it's pretty much invisible, inside and out. We also placed the elastic lower than on the original pattern, as L says it's more comfortable, and I think it's more flattering too.

And there you have it! Lots of photos of my lovely girl in her lovely dress.  One of these days she'll realise that this is the dress in which I cuddle her about 80 percent more often - because my little L encased in that beautiful fabric is an absolutely irresistible combination :-)


Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Unseasonably Archer

Oops, hang on - is this thing working??

Yes, another one of those awkward photo shoots.  I guess it's a little while since I got my face in front of the camera, and I just wasn't feeling it. Plus, it was cold.  Just as well I had a flannel shirt to model rather than a DIY bikini (yeah no, that's not coming up any time soon).

So, it's an Archer. With a whopping 10 cm / 4 inches of length removed from the sleeves. Do I have exceptionally short arms, I wonder, or is it the pattern? The only other adjustments I made were a no-dart FBA (of course!) and 5 cm / 2 inches extra length. I have a proportionally long torso - but I do like my tops lengthy, there's no denying it.  It's becoming a kind of unthinking pattern mantra: lengthen lengthen lengthen. One day I'll end up with a hoodie down to my knees and realise things have gone too far.

Anyway. Button placket, pockets and back yoke were cut on the bias for ease of plaid (non-)matching, and for the rest I used Jen's method for easy plaid matching, which worked out just fine, although I do wish I had paid a bit more attention to the vertical placement too. I don't like that big white stripe just off my centre front. But then I don't dislike it enough to not wear the shirt, so whatevs.

I don't know, can you tell I'm feeling a bit meh about all this? (Or maybe it's just - at time of writing - the Monday blahs). I do very much like wearing it though, or I would if it hadn't been so darned warm recently. It's like I singlehandedly brought on spring with my long-sleeved flannel sewing. The shirt is destined to languish in the wardrobe until autumn and the renewed need for cosy, grungy boyishness.

It was a grey day, so I filtered the pics as best I could to look remotely interesting (with limited success...). In real life the plaid is a rather lovely mix of primary colours, as you can see below. What you can also see is that my details are not exactly excellent - the collar, placket and pockets are all finished well enough, but they definitely lack finesse. However, total fail in matching up the button placement and buttonholes - the plackets don't overlap properly at all. Despite several excellent practice runs, sewing buttonholes went disastrously, and in the end I was so frustrated I just sewed the buttons on as fast as I could and called it done.

In real life, no-one will know and no-one, me included, will care.

I made my first shirt!  Which actually is not meh at all. It rocks.


Thursday, 10 April 2014

Fitting for slouch: No-dart Full Bust Adjustment

This feels like quite an embarrassing confession, for a sewer, but here it is: I DON'T LIKE DARTS.

I don't mean the sewing - I don't even mean the looks. It's the wearing. Darts are about structure and fitting and woven fabrics, and what I actually wear, a massive majority of the time, is casual and slouchy and, frequently, knit.

And if, like me, your bosoms are larger than the pattern-standard B-cup, you may recognise the fit problems that come with wearing that sort of thing: the t-shirt that drapes nicely in the line drawing, but stretches across your real-life chest in a kind of ugly mono-boob. Or the sweater that slinks in a casual "why yes I have cleavage under my jersey" kind of way - while hanging off your shoulders and making you look about 5 sizes larger everywhere else.

It is, of course, possible to adjust your pattern to avoid all that. Durrr Jo well yeah - the internet is full of excellent tutorials on adding or increasing bust darts for precisely this reason. Strangely though, it's less full of tutorials on how to do a full bust adjustment without darts. Which given the popularity of things-without-darts (like most stuff with knits, or many of the fabulously casual and rightly-beloved Grainline patterns) is slightly surprising.

So, here's my method for a no-dart full bust adjustment (FBA).  There are a couple of pretty good no-dart FBA tutes out there already, particularly here and here - but the way I do it is different. And as it's good to have options, here we go...

First, grab your supplies. Here's a fairly pointless picture so you all know what supplies means in this case, like you couldn't have guessed:

That's a pattern piece, an ruler and a pen. You'll also need some scissors, tape, and spare scraps of paper to stick everything together with.

Time to draw some lines!

The first line goes across the bodice front, at right angles to the grainline, halfway between the armhole notch & shoulder seam. My red pen was running out, but it is drawn in red here - I hope you can see it ok:

Draw your second line parallel to the first, 5-10 cm (2-4 inches) below the armhole:

You third third line connects the first two, and extends down to the bottom hem.  It should go through the bust point - I never bother working out where this actually falls, as I don't think it matters as much for a non-fitted garment. In this case - Grainline's Archer shirt - I lined it up with one of the shoulder seam notches. About a third of the way between the neckline and shoulder seam is usually a good idea.

So that's your drawing done. Get your scissors!  And cut along the lines you drew, as shown here:

At this point it's useful to slide some spare paper under your pattern piece, so you can stick the pieces down in the right place as you go and don't risk shifting them around unintentionally later on.

First, we're going to add width to the bust area.  Slide out the piece you just cut, by a maximum of 2 cm (3/4 inch). You can then stick it in place already if you like.

Next we're going to add length, so your shirt/tee/etc doesn't ride up at the front.  So, slide down the centre front part of your pattern piece by a maximum of 5 cm (2 inches):

Stick it in place, and you have something that looks like the next picture.

Now all you need to do is true up the lines. If you haven't got a French curve for this - get one! So much easier!  Draw the armhole curve so it connects again with the shoulder:

Then re-draw the side seam, connecting with the original hem length.  And finally, draw the new hem line, from the lowered front piece up to its original level at the side. ALERT - I like my tops long so I didn't do this! And only realised afterwards that it made for a less clear illustration of the whole method, oops...

So, to be clear! : if you don't want to add to the original length of your top, just keep the hem length where it is at the side seam, and draw a new hem line joining it to your lowered centre front section.

Tadaaa!!!! No-dart full bust adjustment!

Not so hard, right?

Now, to wrap up, a word about how much to add to your pattern. Obviously this will depend on the size of your boobs - and equally obviously, with this method of adjustment, you can't add huuuuge amounts of extra ease.  The maximum amounts are there to stop your pattern going totally off grain.

For reference, the difference between my high bust (which I used to pick my size) and my full bust is 10 cm (4 inches). Strictly speaking, the 2 cm width I've added to the pattern here isn't 'enough' to accommodate all that extra. I find, however, that combined with the extra length, this usually is enough to get a much better fit. Remember, we're mostly talking about clothes that are stretchy or designed for a fairly loose fit to begin with. This adjustment is a pretty easy way to put enough extra fabric over my chest to make the garment drape, rather than hang unflatteringly. I've used it on so many makes and am always really happy with how it works out.  Like on my Archer, for example, which I'll be showing you next!

(Credit/disclosure: I did this tutorial "on my own" from memory because I've done it so many times, but basically everything I've ever learned about fitting came out of this book. Highly recommended!)


Wednesday, 2 April 2014

It must be spring, I can feel it in my legs

Have you ever tried to take a selfie of the back of your leggings, while wearing them?  Or am I the only one stupid enough to do that?

I actually quite like the contours of my bum in real life, and I can live with the shape of my thighs too. But ouch - that picture up there doesn't flatter (really, it doesn't! It's just so dumpy!), and I can't quite believe I've put it on the internet.

But anyway. Let's backtrack. I've been slowly sewing, making progress on an Archer shirt and muslining some jeans. Both of which are very exciting, and it's nice to have some challenging projects on the go. But this afternoon I needed a quick fix - and I needed to feel like I'm making even the tiniest dent in a rather ambitious summer sewing list.  Enter the floral leggings.

I bought this fabric during the Antwerp sewing meet-up in January - it just got in my face and screamed SPRING LEGGINGS!!!! at me. Who was I to argue? Spring leggings it has now become. The pattern is Cake's Espresso again - a hit the first time, so I presumed an easy hit the second time. Ha. Obviously, I failed to take into account that this fabric does not have 4-way stretch like the previous one and therefore behaves differently. I studiously implemented the pattern changes I'd noted since wearing my first pair - lowering the rise a little at the back, a little more at the front - and it resulted in a fine, wearable but not exactly perfect pair of leggings which are ever-so-slightly too short. The waist sits pretty much where it's supposed to, but it's not the perfect fit I know this pattern can give.

And to top it all off, despite all that floral splashiness, I just felt a bit meh about the whole thing.

And then I turned around and selfied the back of my legs and realised that the party colours were not where I wanted them but having a little party of their own, on my rear. And as I was futzing things around my waist, trying to get it all satisfactorily comfortable, a little voice of inspiration whispered: put them on backwards. They don't sit right anyway.

So I did. And they still don't sit quite right, but it's not worse than it was and no-one else need know. Don't tell, ok?

They sit plenty well enough for real-life wearing. The party is now in front where I can see it - and I'm ready to go out and match the blooming, blossoming, exuberantly-scented park on our after school playground runs. Of which there are currently many, because the weather is doing this:

Sorry, was I complaining before? I take it all back. Shortest winter ever.

When the unusually warm temperatures cool down, as they inevitably shall, I have actually finished my Archer and will be posting it here poste haste. It was rather unfortunate timing to make myself a long-sleeved flannel shirt just as the mercury hit 20°C on a regular basis, but aside from not being able to wear it much yet, or possibly even till next autumn, I LOVES it. In the meantime, I took pictures of my no-dart full bust adjustment, so next up'll be a tutorial on that. Slouchy fit for the busty ladies!!

What are you sewing now? Have you ever made something seasonally inspired - beyond the "spring/fall wardrobe" changes?  I love how these feel like those tulips came to life on my legs!