Category Archives: handmade

Still Sewing, Still Learning

I’ve made a little more progress on my #2017makenine line up, beginning to tackle McCalls M7473 view D, the line drawing included in the image below.

01-10-17 #2017makenine

“Once you stop learning, you start dying.”    -Albert Einstein

The good news is, I’m alive and well. Unfortunately, I’m sharing another failure / learning experience. It was so disappointing because I sewed a muslin, made fit changes, altered the pattern and thought everything was good to go. Then I cut my fabric and mostly constructed the entire thing before slipping it on. Great fit! Pattern matching, not too shabby! Left side, love! Right side, hmmm??

 

It took a while staring at it in the mirror and thinking about the process to come to the conclusion that the underside, when cutting the front and back pieces on folds, must have slipped and come up shorter. I’m not sure how I want to go about salvaging the fabric yet but I see no way to fix this particular garment.

I really like the pattern and feel good knowing the issues weren’t due to the modifications I made to it, which were to lower the neckline, drop the notch on the side seam to create coverage down to hip level and extend the sides of the front panel to more closely match the shape of the back. The original pattern is only sewed to below bust level and I’m not about showing off that much skin at this stage of life or requiring the right under layer in order to wear it.

What really bums me out is after my failed initial attempt at the Anna dress using a similar type of fabric, I thought I’d done my homework and was more prepared to work with such shifty material. I didn’t pre-wash it and took great care to line up the pattern and keep the grain straight but just didn’t anticipate the underside slipping so much, even when pinned.

I’ve since read advice to use a felt board or flannel backed tablecloth to keep the fabric in place so I will try that next time as well as tracing off a full pattern piece rather than cutting on a fold. I’m feeling hopeful about the next version, but need to figure out what to do about fabric as I’ve used this piece down to scraps. So much to learn. So little time.

 

Advertisements

#2017MAKENINE: 3 Schnittchen Anna Dress

Here I am, a little later than expected, with my 3rd project for #2017makenine. Below is a quick recap of my plans and today I’m sharing the Schnittchen Anna, a simple A-Line dress with kimono sleeves and side slant pockets.

01-10-17 #2017makenine

Since this is my 3rd project, it makes sense that I’d sew it up 3 times, right?! Well, it wasn’t the plan, but that’s how it went down and I have ONE new dress to add to my closet after all that. I should add that the issues I had were 100% user error. The pattern is perfectly drafted. So, a brief rundown.

Round 1

02-20-17 Anna DressFor this version, I attempted to grade between sizes based on my measurements and quickly learned that reading blogs about other makers grading between sizes does not an expert make. Add an afternoon at a brewery before jumping in and I should have seen disaster on the horizon. Needless to say, my grading skills paired with fabric that was pretty shifty resulted in a dress with too many issues to correct. This will be cut apart to salvage what I can of the fabric.

Round 2

04-04-17 floral Anna dress

Don’t mind the un-showered selfie in my kiddo’s messy room

For this version, I re-traced the pattern using a straight size 38 based on my bust and hip measurements. My only modifications were to omit the patterns facings to finish with a back zip and bias facing instead and shorten the sleeves. This wasn’t a total failure, but the fabric feels a little too granny chic (luckily it was $2 at the thrift store), the pockets are too high due to my long torso and I’m not loving the A-line silhouette on me. Since the pockets and hem can be easily remedied, this will go in my fall/winter storage and may come back out to pair with tights, boots and sweaters later this year.

3rd Time’s a Charm!

04-18-17 blue Anna 2

LOVE at last! For this version, I went back to my traced size 38 pattern with the already shortened sleeves, dropped the pocket placement 3″ and took 3″ off each side of the hem, blending up to the new pocket notch. After these final adjustments, I was just able to squeeze the pieces out of 1 1/2 yards. I flat felled the side and shoulder seams, which resulted in the one bummer about this dress…no pockets. I found some instructions online for in seam pockets with flat felled seams, but I got mixed up and basically did the trimming and folding backwards. The only way I could see to salvage it, without risking the dress being too small, was to omit them.

04-18-17 blue Anna 4

It was an afterthought to drop the front neckline by 1/2″ to eliminate the closure, so on a future version I could cut both the front and back on folds to get rid of the center back seam. The plus side, when considering slow fashion, is I have the option to change the shape of the dress if I tire of the shift and want to fit it more in the future.

04-18-17 blue Anna 6

I had considered keeping some of the edges unfinished so when I ran out of thread before hemming, I decided to give it a wash and wear to decide how I like the frayed end. It hasn’t been washed yet, so the jury is still out. I love how easy this dress is to wear! No special underwear required, not see through, interesting alone but easy to pair with any sweaters, jackets, shoes or accessories in my closet. Definitely a win. My only concern with the fabric is it smelled of chemicals even after washing and drying the yardage, so in terms of ethical clothing this probably doesn’t score high on the environmental front. I’ll definitely be more mindful fabric shopping from now on, but this color and style filled a huge gap in my wardrobe.

I followed along with Me Made May last year but wasn’t ready to play along yet, so I’m looking forward to finding a challenge that will work for me this year. Be back sooner than 2 months…I think 🙂

6 Wrongs Make a Post

After two months of unsuccessful sewing, I decided all this work deserved at least a shared post to document the realistic journey into making ones own wardrobe. Plus, I’m always happy to read anything I can find about a new pattern before sewing it up, so maybe this will be useful to someone other than me??

  • The first top was a test run of the Vogue 9116 pantsuit top. I didn’t end up liking the elastic in the back or the partial lining, the neckline is too high for my taste and it’s too short for my proportions even after lengthening. Basically, I wanted to change it so much that I may as well draft a pattern myself, but instead it was neatly folded and put away until summer was over and I now have no desire to add this jumpsuit to my closet.
  •  The striped pullover woven top, Butterick 6293 View C, was a mostly successful sew except for messing up the construction of the overlapping hem at the side seams and having to wing it. It was a new technique and pattern shape though, so it was interesting to learn. The real issue is I had reservations about the fabric even before starting. I picked up a 2 1/2 yd piece from the thrift store for $2 because I loved the blue and brown, but sure enough, I never reach for it because of the pink and orange. This was a bonus in a pattern I purchased for the jacket and I like it, this version just didn’t earn a space in my closet.
  • After the semi success with the striped top, I cut a second one right away with big ideas for embroidery (inspiration here) only to completely botch the pattern alterations, attempt to sew from memory and mess up the side seams / hem intersection even worse than my first one! Total wash.
  • The Vogue 8909 joggers, upcycled from a garage sale Lucky Brand maxi dress, were going to be the lounge pants of my dreams, lol…until the fit was off, my elastic casing was attrocious and I decided I didn’t have the patience to redo it for something that would never leave the house.
  • Ugh, that color-blocked jersey dress, McCall’s 7383. I love the fit and it’s comfortable and flattering, but in my attempt to upcycle a blue tie dye maxi skirt that didn’t have sufficient yardage, I had to make a design decision that I really dislike now that it’s sewn up. So bummed because I love that blue fabric and I’m not sure I’ll get much out of the remnants even if I take this apart. BUT, the pattern works for me, so there’s that.
  • The midi skirt was thrifted, completely taken apart and resewn into a slightly different style. My mistake was thinking it was SO basic that I could cut and sew willy nilly and it totally didn’t come out right. This will be salvaged after taking it apart AGAIN and starting over.

Lessons learned?

  • Buying a pattern thinking I’d get handmade clothes in my closet faster than drafting saved me zero time.
  • If I’m not IN LOVE with the fabric before starting, the finished garment probably won’t change my mind.
  • The extra time to draw out designs on paper before getting excited and cutting is going to be worth it.
  • Slow methodical sewing with attention to detail will result in a wearable garment a whole lot quicker than fast sewing, shortcuts and lots of seam ripping.
  • I’ll never successfully execute my dream handmade wardrobe without learning to love the process. Every. Slow. Step.

I’ve decided that even though I’m dying to sew, I really need to step back and work through the creation of custom pattern blocks for myself. Draft, sew up, make adjustments. Get them just right, so when used to create my designs I won’t have so much pattern alteration to deal with after the fact. I’ve also realized that when I do purchase patterns, I should be focusing on those that will teach me specific construction techniques where my skills are lacking so I’m able to put together the patterns I make. Somehow, I hadn’t really looked at it like that before. It reminds me of that quote from Uptown Girls.

Fundamentals are the building blocks of fun.

Getting back to fundamentals for a while so I can create something worthy of it’s own post…and maybe sewing up that Schnittchen pattern I won on Instagram too 😉

 

The Moon Made Me Do It

 

For my latest project, I began with two organic cotton American Apparel T-shirts that my husband no longer wore after updating his business name and logo. I’d saved them with plans to dye them, but decided I liked the color for now. It’s similar to an old favorite J. Crew top that lost it’s life the same day as my toddlers first ER visit last spring, but that’s a different story…(the final images are true to color, it’s more mauve)

09-12-16 original tee

THE INSPIRATION

The idea of thread sketching my own image and text onto a tee has been marinating for a while but when I saw a T-shirt with a large moon printed on the front, the idea of using all the phases in a row along with a related quote came to me and I was off and running. Here are a couple images I gathered for this project. When I saw the quote “The moon made me do it” I knew that was the one, so funny…so true, haha!

1, 2, 3

 

THE PROCESS

I used the same pattern as my last two racerback tanks which was hand drafted based upon a shirt in my closet. Using raw edge applique and the scraps left from cutting out the tank, I patched over the front and back logos as well as a few bleach spots. I used french seams at the shoulders and side seams, then 1/2″ binding to finish the edges. Pretty easy, especially since this is my third version. I don’t have a pattern for the binding but based upon the success of my first and epic fail on my second, I was able to compare the stretch of this fabric to the other two and make an accurate guess. I think it came out perfect, although it was a bit stretched at the front neck by the time I took photos. #nursingmomproblems

09-12-16 tank back

To create the image on the front and the quote on the back, I used water soluble interfacing, freezer paper, a circle stencil and free motion sewing. For the quote patch on the back, I also used a piece of heavy weight stabilizer to keep the fabric sturdy enough for all the stitching. It was trimmed down to size after the letters were stitched. Once the shirt was complete, I threw it in the wash to remove the remaining interfacing. I snapped a few step by step photos as I worked:

09-12-16 applique 1
09-12-16 applique 3
09-12-16 applique 409-12-16 applique 5
09-12-16 applique 609-12-16 applique 709-12-16 applique 809-12-16 applique 9

I tweaked my pattern a little to bring the armholes up to hide my bra, which is great because my other two require cute bralettes that will intentionally peek out a bit and that’s not always practical. I’ve worn it a few times already and love it, but I’m still considering going back with darker thread to accentuate the moon images more. Maybe with hand stitches like my 3rd inspiration image.

09-16-16 moon shirt front09-16-16 moon shirt back

This was a really exciting project for me because it was the first time I combined my art techniques with garment sewing to create a truly functional piece of wearable art. The cherry on top was accomplishing that with recycled fabrics that may have otherwise ended up as rags. I’m excited to delve deeper into this marriage between disciplines as I continue to create my handmade wardrobe. I know this piece is just the beginning!

 

Crochet Cardigan

The Challenge

I scored this crochet tablecloth for $1 at my local Wednesday flea market a while back so when Etimi over at The Secret Costumier invited others to play along with the #usedtobeatablecloth challenge, I jumped right in!

08-01-16 Butterick 6328 crochet jacket

The Inspiration

I wanted something pretty with a homespun vibe in a simple shape I could throw over a tank and jeans on a casual day or over a dress for a date night.

Image sources 1, 2, 3, 4 (1 and 2 were dead end links on Pinterest)

The Process

I picked up Butterick 6328 in a 3 for $5 sale with plans for a different jacket, then realized the front and back pieces minus the lining, collar, facing and pockets would work well for this project also. I cut View C Size 8.

I traced off a second front piece and sleeve in order to lay all the pattern pieces out on the fabric before cutting to work around stains and tears and utilize the scalloped edges for the ends of the bodice and sleeves. To construct the cardigan, I cut 1 1/2″ strips of matching jersey and made binding which was then hand stitched at the shoulders, side seams, sleeves and armholes. It wasn’t the original plan, but it required basting to keep all the layers flat and aligned and the basting stitches had to be so small that it was basically constructed when that step was done. Since the front edge was only a single layer, the binding was machine stitched there…not as straight as I’d like, but not horribly noticeable when worn.

This was nearly complete a week ago but I was unhappy with the fit because of how much the fabric sags so I removed the armhole and shoulder binding, chopped two inches off the shoulder of each bodice piece, an inch off the sleeve caps and put the binding back on a second time. Truthfully, my alterations didn’t feel like the correct way to go about it, but because this fabric is so forgiving it worked out just fine.

08-27-16 crochet cardigan 2

08-27-16 crochet cardigan 3

I’m pretty in love with it, but may end up taking it apart again to remove width from the side seams and sleeves to get a closer fit. I’ll decide after wearing it a while if it feels too fussy…like if it slides off my shoulders while chasing a toddler on the playground…

The Look

I paired it with my cat shirt (which I LIVE in), a thrifted pair of jeans I scored a few weeks ago for $8 and ankle moccasins I’ve had over 5 years now.

08-27-16 crochet cardigan 1

Today I finally set up my tri-pod and figured out how to operate the timer on my camera. YAY! Next time I’ll shower and style my hair so I don’t have to chop my head out of the photos, lol…baby steps.

Summer Sewing

Summer fun has had me away from my computer but I’ve actually finished two projects since checking in here last. These projects started with a vision of a complete outfit including a racerback tank, lightweight kimono style cardigan and sashiko mended jeans, but the pieces will also mix and match with other things in my wardrobe.

06-12-16 project fabrics

Since I wear my cat shirt 3-4 times before laundering, I need another similar item for the summer and when I saw this 4XL 100% cotton screen printed t-shirt at the thrift store for $2 it was love! I roughly traced the cat tank to copy the fit and then cleaned up the pattern later. I would typically cut the pieces on a fold, but I find for upcycling graphic shirts, it’s easier to use a full pattern piece to place the image accordingly. When doing so, I realized the image was too high to keep the original shoulder seams (which is ideal), so I had to improvise and piece together the straps.

06-22-16 blue tank original tee06-22-16 blue tank front06-22-16 blue tank back

So…the straps. I pieced them together in order to center the graphic and was all pleased with myself using this as an opportunity to add design details (the 3 stitching lines across the strap). Then I attached the neck binding. It was too long and sagged terribly. Had a date with my seam ripper and the second attempt was still a mess. I could tell the worn cotton couldn’t handle the seam being removed and re-sewn a third time so I was forced to cut the entire binding off, losing width all the way around. My solution was to sew stay tape around the neck and armholes, roll to the inside twice and top stitch. This was mostly successful, but now that the strap was thinner than planned, the topstitching overlapped. Had I used matching thread it wouldn’t be so noticeable but I was feeling confident and thought contrast would be fun. Luckily, when I’m wearing it, it doesn’t scream “home sewing fail” like this close-up photo does and it was a good learning experience. I ended up using stay tape around the bottom and hemming in a similar fashion and I really like the way it hangs and keeps it’s shape, so not all was lost. I’ve worn this multiple times already styled a few different ways: for the beach, a typical day with my toddler and a date night. Very functional and I love the print which looks just like my home in Ventura…still trying to figure out if it actually IS a photo of Ventura. Not sure yet.

06-22-16 blue tank strap detail

Now for my simple summer kimono. I used one of the many tutorials on Pinterest and basically cut a rectangle with a slit up the middle and a sloping side seam to create a sleeve, added some french seams and basic rolled hems and called it good. It took all of 2 hours from start to finish. I bought this fabric 16 years ago when I was a fashion design student at one of the shops in the LA garment district that sold $1/yd fabric with a 3 yard minimum. Pretty cool such an old cut looks so current and that my taste has stayed so consistent! The photo’s from Instagram, but when I went to take a proper photo my camera battery was dead to I decided to just use this and get on with more sewing 🙂

07-05-16 summer kimono

Vintage Simplicity 8262

04-23-16 70's pullover blouse

Scored this 70’s sewing pattern at the local thrift shop for $0.69 a couple weeks ago and couldn’t wait to sew it up! I love all of Isabel Marant’s gorgeous versions of peasant tops and this looked like a perfect pattern to test out, learn some construction techniques from and then alter to a couple different variations for my wardrobe. I used fabric I had on hand from a bag of discards someone gave me just to test the fit, but as it turns out, it’s totally wearable. I’m not exactly sure what the fabric is, I even poked through my Fabric Identification Notebook from college in an attempt to figure it out, but it’s definitely synthetic, has a faux suede type of soft finish on the outside and I like the color. I opted for the version without the neck tie or belt and the only pattern modification I made was chopping the sleeve to align straight up from the side seam.

05-16-16 Vintage Simplicity 8262 front

I made a couple of mistakes. First I forgot to trim the seam allowance when sewing french seams and had to trim off a notch that ended up poking through to the right side. Then I decided to overlock the sides and arms from front hem to back hem before sewing up the side seam and after the fact I realized binding would have looked much nicer, especially where the loose fit of the sleeve allows it to show from the outside at certain angles. Since my muslin ended up being a worthy addition to my closet, I’m planning on tearing out the side, armscye and front facing seams to bind those last edges and add embroidery or embellishment of some sort. You can see what I mean here.

05-16-16 Vintage Simplicity 8262 inside

And last but not least, the back. On a future version I think I’ll remove some gathering ease from the back and concentrate the gathers at the center but I’ve already worn this as is and like it enough to leave that part alone. Overall I’m happy with the length, fit and shape of the hem. It’s easy to throw on, casual and comfortable but makes me feel more pulled together than a basic tee.

05-16-16 Vintage Simplicity 8262 back

I’m really interested in blending my artwork with fashion, bringing slow textiles and slow style together so I’d say this top is far from complete but a great blank canvas for further exploration and expression. I also plan to make another version where the pattern pieces are cut, printed and embellished before final construction but I’m hoping to find something to upcycle for the base fabric so I’m not ready to begin yet.

When I relaunched the blog, I was equally excited about all my sewing / learning endeavors but I’ve quickly become obsessed with making clothes and already have 4 more patterns to test. I’m really looking forward to printing, dying and embellishing to create my own textiles, making a garment and then using the scraps for stuffies and cloth dolls. I think when it comes full circle like that the inspiration will strike. In the meantime, my slow style series might see a little more action than the others, but we’ll see.