Showing posts from September, 2016

Fabricista Fashion Challenge #3 finished product!

The details of the 3rd challenge can be found here, along with the results of the second challenge (spoiler: I was safe.)  But basically we needed to pick something from our closet, home made or store bought, that doesn't get much wear and create two items to go with the chosen item.

I was very excited about this challenge.  I had a couple options for my garment to use, but I chose a red and black plaid pencil skirt that I bought a couple years ago at a thrift shop and have never worn. 

I knew right away that I wanted to do one red top and one black top to go with it.  My original plan for the red was a red lace top and a matching red tank to wear under it.  And I wanted the black top to be something a bit more structured with a fit and flare shape to it.  With that in mind, I drew up these sketches.  The body proportions in my sketches are still fairly off, but I am choosing to do full sketches instead of using croquis because I am actively trying to improve my skills.

For the red, I was planning on using two fabrics in my stash that were both purchased from Fabric Mart and still had the stickers on them.

I made the red tank top using the Love Notions Luna Loungewear pattern.  I don't typically do a real FBA on knit paterns, so I simply used the XXXL at the bust and blended down to the XL at the waist and hips.  It came together very nicely and pretty quickly and I love the fit.  I wear a lot of tanks around the house and under clothes, so this pattern is definitely a keeper.

For the lace top, I used the Seamwork Aberdeen, with the cut-on sleeves lengthened and then drafted my own bell cuff to the sleeve.  I don't have any photos of it, but I hated the way it looked.  I had such high hopes for the look because of my sketch, but my execution just didn't look good.  I loved the color of that tank top with the plaid skirt so I decided to scrap the lace and use the remaining yardage of the maroon knit for a Swoon Scarf neck cardigan.

I love, love, love this duo!  My daughter and I went down to the corner to the park for a photo shoot and I'm so pleased with how these photos turned out.

Technically, this is two items I made to go with my skirt, however, I will never wear either by itself, so I think of it as one as far as this challenge goes.

For the second item, I had a hard time finding a pattern that met the image I had in my head.  I considered drafting/draping something myself, but I have very little experience doing that and I was concerned that I wouldn't have enough time to work everything out and still get something completed by the deadline.  So I chose to modify the Sew Over It Vintage Shirt Dress to be a peplum blouse.  I chose a black satin that is a little heavier because I thought it would lend a little extra structure to the top.

I had to do a 4" FBA on the largest size, size 20.  Other than that, I used the bodice as is and cut the skirt 6" long and shaped the front to be curved.  The back had two small pleats on the sides, but after we started trying to photograph this top, every little fold, pleat, ripple, etc. showed up magnified by 1000 and the back just looked extra messy in the photos, so I quickly re-did it to have a single pleat in the middle.

The after photo looks like there are folds radiating out from the pleat, but it really doesn't look like that in person.  In fact, here's a photo where I'm in the same pose and just had my hand on my hip and you can see how drastically different the back peplum looks.

  We were all amazed at how different this top looked in the photographs vs. how it looks in person.  If anyone has any tips on what we could have done differently, I'd LOVE to hear them.  Other than taking photos during the daylight, of course, which wasn't an option this time.

We took dozens and dozens of photos in various spots inside my house and even went outside to try by streetlight.  The street light photos turned out fairly interesting, but unfortunately it was still hard to see the top very well.  And I have some nice, glowing eyes that I don't know how to fix.  I guess I should really work on my photo editing skills!

I have some seriously stiff competition this week, so I'd really appreciate any and all votes so I can make it to the final round next week!  Go to this post on the Fabric Mart blog to see all the entries and use the "VOTE NOW!!" link at the bottom of the post, right above the comments, to choose your favorite.

Fabricista Fashion Challenge #2 finished product!

When I read this week's challenge, I had mixed emotions.  I was scared and worried because making a trench coat seemed like a massive amount of work in a very short amount of time.  But I was also excited because at the beginning of the year I set a goal to make outerwear before the year was over, and this was going to force me into actually accomplishing that goal.  And I had already identified a trench coat from the 2/2014 issue of Ottobre Design magazine as one of my options.  So it was destined to be this coat.

I looked through my stash and I have several fabrics that would work well as a trench coat -- even a couple water resistant fabrics that would work well with living in Seattle.  But none of them seemed to fit the bill of expressing my personality.  So, I decided to take a quick trip over to Ikea on my lunch break last week (note to self, a trip to Ikea is NEVER quick!) because when my daughter and I were there a few weeks ago I remembered seeing a couple fabrics that I really liked, but didn't have any use in mind, so I didn't buy anything.  I picked up 4 yards of this colorful, very busy, heavy 100% cotton floral fabric.

I thought this fabric expressed my personality because it was fun and colorful and a little loud.  I work in tech and I am an introvert, but once I get to feel comfortable with people, I tend to talk a lot and have been told I get loud.  I also really love experiencing life.  I'm not an adrenaline junkie or anything, but I do enjoy trying new things and putting myself out there as much as possible because life is all about making great memories and never having regrets. 

I had in my stash a lovely blue sateen fabric that I thought looked great with this print and helped tame the busy-ness of the print a bit and keeps in it check, so I used that for some contrast flat piping in the seams and as the collar and belt. 

I also had a yellow satin in my stash that I used as the lining and a package of red piping that I picked up from an awesome store near my house called Seattle ReCreative, which is one of the best places to find really cool notions and fabrics.

I really like how the pockets turned out.  I didn't get a photo, but the pocket piece is lined with the same yellow satin that makes up the coat lining and I love how it feels on my hand when I put it in my pocket.

Here are a couple photos on my dress form, the photo of the back was taken before I finished the hem -- I apparently didn't take any after of the back..

I used a red piping between the facings and the lining.  I really like that little hidden detail.

Some detailed shots of the flat piping on the outside.

Getting the sleeve seams to match up perfectly took a few tries and it's a bit lost in the shuffle, but it makes me very happy.

I'm a walking zombie from the lack of sleep I've had the last several days trying to get this sewn up.  But this coat was a lot of firsts for me (including my very first collar!), and Ottobre magazine isn't exactly known for their detailed instructions, so my seam ripper was my best friend on this project and I had to try some things several times before I got them right.

The finished projects are all up on the Fabric Mart blog, so go check them out and vote for your favorite.  All of the other ladies made absolutely gorgeous coats with great details and workmanship.  I'm very, very impressed with all of them because I ended up having to leave out a lot of the details I had hoped to add, like the epaulettes and the cuff straps, although I have those pieces cut and I hope to get them on when I get some time to revisit my coat.  I also didn't add buttons because I had planned to make frog closures out of the blue fabric, and I probably still will.  But I was pleasantly surprised at how well it worked just using the belt as a closure.

Fabricista Fashion Challenge week 1 results

Well, I'm a bit late getting this posted, but on Friday the results of the first challenge in the Fabricista Fashion Challenge 4 was posted.  I co-won with the very talented Tee from Maggie Elaine.  Unfortunately Brittany from Brittany J. Jones was eliminated.

I would like to say thank you to everyone who voted for me and for all the really sweet comments you all made about my dress.  It's definitely one of the things I'm most proud of having made.

There were also three winners of the reader participation prize, which was a 3 yard cut of that same lovely sweater knit we used for our first projects.  Contratulations to SewMeAdorable, Lilmrs_winslay and Virginiasdaughter on Instagram! I'm following you all on Instagram now and I'm looking forward to seeing what you make with it!

The second week's challenge is to make a trench coat.  I was completely freaking out and I had several all nighters, but I got it done enough to call it complete and I submitted my writeup and photos just a little bit ago.  I love my new trench coat, but I do have a few more details I plan on getting into it before I start actually wearing it.

The projects will be posted on the Fabric Mart blog tomorrow, but until then, I'll leave you with a little sneak peek.

Fabricista Fashion Challenge #1 finished product!

I made a dress!!  Is anyone really surprised?  But this isn't just any dress, it's a gorgeous carefully pieced work of art (if I do say so myself.)  It is absolutely my favorite thing I've ever made so far.

When the fabric arrived, I was very pleased with the quality and the colors are just so pretty and perfect for fall.  But the more I contemplated and sketched ideas, I kept finding my sketches pulling in the colors, but since I was usually away from the fabric when I was sketching, I just kept forgetting that the scale of the pattern was very large, as you can see in this photo of it draped over my dress form.

Although I liked what I sketched (badly,) they didn't accurately reflect what the garment would look like in the actual fabric.  I just couldn't wrap my head around how to use it in a way that I'd be able to either pattern match across seams or make it very apparent that I didn't intend to pattern match (by rotating the fabric, for example.)  I also didn't like the idea of the mustard or the hot pink colors being close to my face.  I don't find those colors very flattering on me, so I was hoping to be able to place them far from where they can clash with my skin tone.  

So, I sat and looked at the fabric laying out on my cutting table, sketchbook in hand and I remembered a technique I had seen not too long ago in a sewing magazine that I had been wanting to try.  Unfortunately, I can't remember which magazine and even leafed through a few to see if I could find the article I was thinking about, with no luck.  But the technique was to take a fabric with a large pattern repeat and cut out a particular portion of the repeat several times and sew them back together to make a new design.

So, I decided to use my TNT Kitschy Coo Lady Skater pattern and divide each bodice and skirt piece vertically into 2 pieces, adding seam allowances between them, thus making 4 panels across the width of the dress.  I identified where on the fabric I would lay out each piece and sketched out the design, trying to keep the scale as accurate as possible, to see how I'd like it.  I loved it, so I settled on that as a plan, even before I finished coloring it in.  My colored pencils just don't do the colors in this fabric justice!

As shown in the photo above of my previously altered Lady Skater front bodice piece, I drew a vertical line from the bottom, halfway between the side seam stitching line and center front fold line (since seam allowances hadn't been added yet) up to where I thought it would look aesthetically pleasing and did the same for the bodice back.  For the skirt I did the same, but I marked exactly halfway between the stitching lines at both the top and the bottom of the pattern.  I then copied each of the pattern halves onto tissue paper and added seam allowances at the fold lines and to both halves where the original patterns were split in the middle.

I started with the bodice and cut out one of the center front panels first.  Then used it as a guide to determine where to lay the side bodice piece that was going to be next to it, matching the seam line on one side.  Since the top of the bodice pieces were very different shapes, I focused on making the fabric pattern at the waist seam consistent to get the effect I was after.

My original sketch planned to use another sweater knit I have in my stash that is solid black for the sleeves, but after I pulled it out and looked at it, it didn't have the same sheen as the provided fabric and it just looked dull and lifeless next to this gorgeous knit.  I considered leaving the dress sleeveless, but ultimately I want to have a dress that I will actually wear, so I decided to use the leftover fabric, which I barely had two pieces just big enough to cut the pattern's cap sleeves.  I just positioned the sleeve piece such that the front of both sleeves had as much of the black as possible, to try to keep as close to my original vision as possible.

I also had planned on using that other sweater knit for the neck band, but that was out now.  I didn't want to just turn and stitch the neckline, so I made the decision to fully line the dress with a black cotton thermal knit with cameos printed on it that I picked a long time ago for very cheap and have thought I might never use.  It had almost the exact stretch amount and was just a tad lighter than the sweater knit, so it seemed the perfect pairing.  I used the unmodified pattern for the lining pieces and attached them to the shell at the neck, armscyes and the waist, letting the skirt lining basically hang free and just using french tacks to keep it in place.

My tips for working with sweater knits.

First of all, there are many different types of sweater knits.  This one was what I’d consider a pretty stable sweater knit.  The weave is tight and the fabric is opaque, but I’ve worked with very loose weave sweater knits before.  I think Seamwork’s guide to sewing with sweater knits is a good starting point.

In addition to the tips Seamwork provide, these are the things I have found helpful when I work with sweater knits.

1.    Keep a lint brush handy!  Or what I refer to as a “rolly sticky.”  When you cut into these fabrics, a million little loops get opened up, so there is lint EVERYWHERE.  Not just on the cutting table, but they’ll be all over your machine and workspace and the garment and my dress form was covered in tiny pieces of sweater knit. 

2.    When cutting, mark your notches with pins or thread or do like I was taught growing up and cut them outward, not inward to avoid losing them in the weave of the sweater knit.

3.    BASTE, BASTE, BASTE!  This is always a good idea anyway, but even with TNT patterns, it’s just smart to baste your seams first with sweater knits. Because sweater knits tend to be lofty, the stitches have this great way of just sinking in and disappearing, which is fantastic, but it also makes it so that the stitches are nearly impossible to see to rip out.  Luckily I didn't have any mistakes this time around and I only know how hard the stitches are to rip out because after the dress was assembled, I thought maybe I would add a pocket.  After about half an hour and only having about an inch ripped out, I decided it was way too much work and just resewed that bit shut again.  But I definitely basted almost all of my seams first, especially that waist seam, since I wanted the vertical seams to match up perfectly.  Below is a photo of how the seams just disappear.  That is actually a seam right down the middle of the photo.

I tend to be a fairly lazy sewist most of the time since I’m just making clothes for myself, but seeing how great this dress turned out actually made me take the extra time to hand sew an invisible hem.  I overlocked the raw edge, pressed it up 5/8” and catch stitched it.  The fabric is nice and lofty, so I was able to catch a few threads of the body without anything even showing on the right side.

Overall, this fabric was a dream to work with.  It pressed really well, the seams absolutely disappear into it and it’s just gorgeous.  I got to use a technique I’ve been wanting to use for a while and it made an amazing dress that I’m incredibly proud of and have been showing off to everyone who’ll pay attention to me.

All of the projects are up on the Fabric Mart blog and I definitely have some stiff competition.  So go check out all the entries and vote for the project you liked the best.