Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Sister Sewing: Cashmerette Upton Bodice

Today, I'm doing a little bit of blogging catch up. 

Here are a few pictures of my beautiful sister, Poly, in her sari with the bodice I sewed for it. 

When I delivered the blouse, I thought how great it would be to take pictures of it actually being worn with the sari, instead of staged shots. I realized too late that you really can't see much of the bodice under the sari. Absolutely fine since its' supposed to be an accessory to the sari, but not so good for photos. 

Anyway, this is the bodice portion of the Cashmerette Upton Dress

Cashmerette Upton line drawing

I could not be happier with this beautifully and thoughtfully drafted pattern. It was the perfect canvas for the changes needed to convert the bodice into a sari blouse. I used only the bodice pieces of the pattern; the scoop neck for the front and v-neck for the back. I lengthened them both by 7 inches so that they would be waist length as my sister requested. This required me to lengthen the darts. What worked best was sewing a muslin with lengthened darts and then doing a little pinning. Another design change that I made was to relocate the zipper to the side seam and cut the back as one piece by trimming off the seam allowance and cutting the fabric on the fold.

At this point, I should mention - and by "mention" I mean bow down and kiss Jenny Cashmerette's feet and then sing songs of praise - how easy it was to fit my sister's bust. Holy guacamole, those separate pieces for different cup sizes was a life saver! Between kids and work, we didn't have a lot of time for fittings and multiple muslins. It was a relief that muslin 1.0 fit with just a few changes.  Aside from a little adjusting of the darts, the only other fitting change was pinning a little bit out of the back neckline. Like me, my sister's upper back is rather narrow. We did a second fitting - this time of the basted together top.  All I had to do was tweak the darts slightly and mark the hem.  

I sewed the blouse  in a beautiful gold silk taffeta from Mood Fabrics, which I finished at the neckline and armscyes with gold piping and sequined trim. When it comes to sari's and sequins it seems like "more" is the way to go. 

I should have taken a few pictures of the top on a hanger, but I just didn't think of it.  So, you'll just have to cope with a few more sari shots. 

Sari, not sorry. 
It was so fun to be in a sari for the wedding festivities. I think my sister looked positively regal in royal blue and gold. Don't you?

And I was glad to have a chance to sew a Cashmerette pattern. I've heard such good things about them - all true!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Foxy Lady Tux

If you are ever invited to an Indian wedding - or have an opportunity to crash one - you should go. We had a sensational time last weekend at my cousin's wedding. Here I am with my sisters in our saris. That's my dad in the middle. I wish we had gotten my mom in the shot, too, but she was behind the camera.

But that's not why you read my blog. It's for the sewing. I'll do a pattern review of my foxy lady tux (aka McCalls 7366) with staged shots in good lighting so you can see the details as soon as I can, and I will include how I did an FBA on the top so that there were zero wardrobe malfunctions.

To whet your appetite, here are some shots of my tux in action, which are a bit blurry and dimly lit - such is the nature of cell phone shots.  I'm not sure why half of them were photographed square. If you follow me on IG, you've already seen many of these. Overall, I'm really thrilled with how my tux came out and I felt tres sexy at the wedding reception.

From below: On the way to the reception

From above

My uncle (l) and dad (rt) in their kilts.

The one I'll show people when I am a decrepit old lady

Apparently, 40 is not to old for your parents to disapprove of what you are wearing. They both chose to compliment my hair instead of commenting on my attire. hee hee hee

Anyway, it was a wonderful weekend, but it was nice to be back to our normal routine after all was said and done.

Exhausted parents + one energetic toddler

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Here Be Dragons... the Socks

Wow, these socks really took forever...

... by which I mean more than 2 months. I started them when it was still cool enough to wear wool socks.

This is the Here Be Dragons sock pattern by Rachel Gent for Knitty. It's supposed to look like dragon scales, I suppose, but you can be the judge. One thing that I like is that the sock was designed to be knit toe up and has some very cool details.

I like how the lace chart starts near the toe, adding a distinct widow's peak to the sock. However, I did change the toe a bit to make it less narrow by casting on more stitches and adjusting where I started the pattern chart. You can see how narrow the toe is in this picture.

Right before frogging

After a quick try on, I decided to frog and start over. Not only was the toe really narrow, but the sock was too big overall. A smaller needle and some additional stitches and I was back on track.

So, that set me back a bit, but the real hold up was that each time I got to the heel, I ran into troubles. I ended up ripping out and reknitting the heel flap 3 or 4 times on each sock. You would think that I would have figured it out after having successfully done it on the first sock and taking notes. But no. However, it is a pretty cool detail of the sock that the pattern bleeds into the heel flap.

I had trouble where you have finished the heel flap and start knitting full rounds in pattern again.While they were correct, the instructions could have been more clear. That said, I soldiered on and did get thru it.

Next, on the ankle of the sock you are instructed to just keep repeating 10 lines of the 20 line pattern chart, but I decided that I liked the full pattern and so did all 20 lines, keeping that diamond pattern going.

Lastly, I like the twisted knit stitch of the ribbed cuff. It crowns the sock nicely by making the rib slightly more dramatic.

Anyway, I am happy with the results, but not with the 9 weeks it took to knit these socks during my 3 day a week commute. I tend to oscillate in my sock knitting between doing more and more complicated patterns until I get frustrated with how long they take, and then more and more simple patterns until I get bored, and then back the other way. However, I'm glad these complicated socks are done! And I look forward to wearing them, although probably not until temperatures cool again...

PS - I am in the home stretch with my lady tux - a good thing since the wedding is on Saturday. And my sister's blouse has been delivered to her. Stay tuned for reviews and photos!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Cool Shorts for My Guy

With summer coming, I realized that Phin needed more shorts in his wardrobe. And since I have the perfect pattern for him already worked out, I decided that it would be no big deal to sew up two more pairs and just change around some of the details.

Remember these?

Front: Gusseted patch pockets with heaps of top stitching

Back: The most laborious patch pockets ever with pleats and flaps

Well, this time, instead of the labor-intensive patch pockets with all of their pleats, gussets, flaps and top stitching, I decided to convert the front pockets to slash pockets and the back pockets to just one double welt pocket. It should tell you something about how labor intensive the pockets on the first shorts were if a welt pocket is a time saving alternative.

So, here are Phin's two new shorts.

I sewed the seersucker ones first. I had to do a little experimentation with drafting the slash pockets. They ended up just large enough. And I should have made the pocket facing larger so that there would be no risk of the pocketing showing.

Also, Phin and I decided that the seersucker model should have cuffs, which I think is a fun detail that makes them look different from his other shorts.

Phin likes to put his wallet and/or phone in his back left pocket, despite being right handed. This strikes me as odd since I favor the right back pocket, myself. But maybe I'm the strange one? At any rate, the welt pocket is on the back left side and I used my trusty welt pocket method - Kenneth King's Designing Details: Pockets class on Craftsy. It really is a no-fail method IMHO.

Welt pockets outside

Welt pockets inside

The second pair of shorts are in a lime green cotton twill. They have the same pockets as the seersucker shorts, although the slash pockets have been enlarged just a bit for Phin's big paws. Again, I should have made the facing a bit larger.

Phin really likes the remnant I used for pocketing 

Slash pockets from the inside

So, there you have it. Two new shorts to compliment the originals. I think this is a pretty successful experiment in making three shorts from the same pattern, but mixing up the details so that they don't look like the same exact shorts.

The only other details are that I used my TNT fly method, also from a Kenneth King Craftsy class - Jean-ius.  All the seam allowances are finished by serger. I'll add that these two shorts are some of my most nicely and neatly sewn garments. The insides really look good!

And now here are some shots of Phin wearing the shorts. These are both after hours of wear and while chasing Taco around various yards - not wrinkle-free staged shots, but in actual use.

First, the green ones in our yard...

Not sure Phin knew I was taking this photo...

And here are the seersucker ones on Father's Day at my parent's house. Looking at all these pictures, I can't help thinking that this daddy thing really agrees with Phin, but maybe it's the shorts.

Taco agrees.

And we're out...

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

WIP's: Sewing Frosting! Woo Hoo Hoo!

I'm really giddy about my next two projects! It's been a while since I've sewn something that is strictly frosting. Yum! But my cousin is getting married in July, and so I've got a very special occasion to sew for.

The wedding will be a fusion of Indian and Western traditions to honor both families. During the daytime events, the women will all wear saris! Look, I bought a sari...

Sari mirror selfie

Really, a sari is just a whole lot of gorgeous fabric that you get to wrap yourself up in. What could be better? And since I probably won't have many - if any - occasions to wear one again, I can sew it up into a fabulous mini wardrobe after the wedding. But that's not what I'm working on now..,

My first project is for my sister. She bought a sari, but thanks to being extra curvy and busty was having some trouble finding a sari blouse (the top worn under the sari) that she liked. So, I am using the bodice from the new Cashmerette Upton dress pattern to make her blouse.

I'm excited for an opportunity to sew a Cashmerette pattern. Muslin 1.0 is sewn and we'll be fitting this weekend.  In the meantime I bought some mouthwatering gold silk taffeta that really goes well with the sari's trim at Mood to use for the bodice.

That is the trim in the middle. The sari is royal blue.

It's really difficult to photograph metallic iridescent fabric, but you get the idea that it is a luxe gold silk.

And then their is a project for me! The reception in the evening will be black tie optional. So, rather than a gown, I've decided to sew myself a lady tux. I was feeling inspired by these designer versions.

LtoR: Alexander McQueen, Nicole Miller, Jason Wu, Balenciaga, ASOS-Warehouse

I'm using McCalls 7366 for mine.

It's even got a cummerbund.

Isn't it fun and sexy?  

So, right now I am muslining. And I'm really amused by the fabric I dug out to use as muslin. It's black delustered satin. Very longtime readers will remember that once upon a time, I sewed yards and yards of this fabric into curtains for the high-ceiling-ed industrial space that one of my sisters used as her wedding reception venue.  I had to set up a sweat shop with my sisters and mom just to get the job done. The venue's owners liked the curtains so much they asked to keep some, but the remaining ones (45 yards worth) made it back to me where they have been used as muslin and in other projects... 

Like Hogwarts robes...

My little nephew who is now a teenager and is taller than me. 

Anyway, curtains muslin version 1.0 was a disaster. What I learned is that this McCalls pattern actually should be sewn according to envelope size and not the size I normally sew. I could barely get the trousers over my hips and there was no way they were going to close. The top also would not close in the back. The most meaningful information I learned was that I needed to add another 1.5" of length to the top so that it would actually meet the bottoms. I honestly can't remember the last time I've sewn anything McCalls that I didn't need to go down several sizes. 

I've gone back to the pattern to make length changes, and have already cut muslin 2.0... two sizes larger. And I've learned my lesson: always check finished measurements, even if you are fairly confident in your sizing.

I haven't decided on a final color or fabric for the "tux".  I want it to be very dressy, so I am thinking that it has to be a rich jewel tone or black. Any thoughts or suggestions? 

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Ginger Jeans: This Is How a Habit Forms

I ask: is there anything quite as soul crushing as sewing something that you think looks surprisingly good on - better than expected even - and then seeing the results of your blog photo shoot and feeling like you really should have burned said garment in a fire? That's sort of my experience with my first pair of  Closet Case Files Ginger Jeans.

I loved them until I saw photos. It probably doesn't help my attitude that my bra is peeking out. What can I say... there are days when I'm not quite so put together. These are the only pics I found palatable out of 2 rounds of shooting. (Note to self: never ever take photos when you are downhill from your photographer. The angle will make you look half as tall and, thus, much wider.) 

Anyway, these are view A, the low rise, straight leg Gingers. I LOVED sewing them. I started these thinking that they'd be at best a wearable muslin, but the fit is pretty fantastic almost right out of the envelope. I've already worn them a number of times.

These are sewn in a black stretch "denim" that was given to me by my sister in a moving purge. Honestly, I'm not strong in my conviction that this is actually denim, which is why I'm calling it "denim," if you get my drift. It's a stretch twill but it is fairy light weight with a less prominent weave than any pair of jeans in my closet. I think this is partly to blame for my "burn it in a fire" sentiment. They are comfy on and I thought they looked pretty darn good in the mirror, but on camera, the fabric seems to cling in a most unflattering way because of it's thinness.

I made a few simple changes to the pattern on this version - I added 2" to the length and transitioned from a size 14 at the hip to a 10 at the waist. But there are a few additional fitting changes to make so the pattern is perfect on my next version. Oh yes, there will be a next!

First, I scooped out the back crotch curve just a little while I was sewing it. I'm waffling about whether this was necessary, but a slight bit more room in front crotch would be an improvement. So I will lengthen the front crotch by 1/4" to 3/8" at most and perhaps not incorporate the back scooping into the final pattern.

Next, I need more length. These jeans are ok with flats, but anything with a heel and they look a bit silly. I also need a bit more calf room, since they are a bit snug on my "athletic" calves, which makes them ride up at the knee.

Lastly, although I know that denim relaxes with wear, I was not prepared for quite how much this fabric would relax, particularly at the waist. So, I will make things a little more snug throughout and really snug up the waist in future versions. Honestly, I think the fabric is the main culprit in my negative feelings about these jeans.

The only other change that I would make is that I would use my TNT method for zip flies for any future jeans. I think that the Ginger pattern and sew along instructions are terrific for a very simple and reliable zipper fly insertion, but I just love the method Kenneth King demonstrates in his Craftsy Jeanius class. I find it slightly more sturdy and I like that there is a little more of an overlap. That said, this is personal preference and you will have very good success if you follow the steps in the Ginger pattern.

One thing that I will second that Heather addresses during her sew along is that pocket placement is SO much more important to how good the back side of these jeans look than you might think. I was very glad that I didn't just sew on the pockets, and instead played around with the placement, sewing them on last. I didn't nail it 100%, but I hope to in the next version.

I really had fun sewing up jeans. Would you believe that I have several other pairs planned in my head - 2 flares and another pair of skinnies. What can I say? This is apparently my year for repeats and for jeans. When I finished these, I almost immediately bought all the other jeans patterns out there. So I can sew jeans in every style!

As always, I had fun picking out the hardware. Aren't my star rivets cute? And they were easy to set in with a hammer.

Anyway, this is a terrific pattern that I'll be using many times over, despite my initial fabric misgivings.  

Thursday, May 19, 2016

The Cheaters Guide to #MMMay16

Me Made May 2016 has passed the half-way mark and the adorable outfits photographed in creative and scenic vistas at the beginning of the month are slowly but surely giving way to bleary office bathroom selfies. So, it seems like the right time to jump into the fray.

I really admire those of you who pull together thoughtful me made outfits each day and who remember to snap a cute photo before your 17-month-old hugs you after eating blueberries. However, this post is not for you. This post is for those of you who are unhappily wearing "wearable" muslins that really didn't work out and shouldn't be worn, frou frou party dresses that you are trying to dress down so they look work appropriate, or the same ill fitting me made cardigan that doesn't match anything else in your wardrobe for the third time this week despite its blueberry stain, which you tell yourself is in an inconspicuous location. It isn't. For all of you, this is my magnum opus of cheatery for that most wonderful month of the year. It may not help you for this year, but with a little sewing, it could revolutionize MMMay17 for you in 5 simple steps.

Cheater's rule #1:  sew a coat or jacket. If, like me, you have a weather appropriate jacket and a commute, you can wear it most days and call yourself a winner. Unlike a cardi, it won't stink after three weeks of near-constant wear need as frequent cleaning since you won't be wearing it all day. Plus, jackets are impressive. Even more so if it is leather, because non-sewist heads practically explode on learning that you actually sewed leather. Win.

Bonus cheat for all you knitters: scarves and shawls. Double down and finally put all those beginner projects to good use.

Cheater's Rule #2: Sew a bathrobe or kimono. Why limit MMMay to daytime hours? Ten minutes of swanning around your boudour in a silk bathrobe and your MMMay daily goal is met before you've even put shoes on or finished your coffee. Big win.

Winning at MMMay while nursing. 

Bonus: you will feel like you are swathed in luxury even if your pajamas are so decrepit that a house elf would turn up their nose.

Cheater's Rule #3: Socks and undies
Just because your me made isn't obvious or for public consumption doesn't mean that you don't win. You do. Every time you pick a wedgie or adjust a slouchy sock remind yourself that you are secretly #winningallday.

Maybe don't post photos of you in your undies unless you want that sort of attention.

I walk all over my me mades on an almost daily basis

Bonus cheat: no one will be the wiser if you are indeed actually cheating and not wearing me made underoos. Shame on you. But your secret is safe with me.

Cheater's Rule #4:  Accessorize
Look at any "outfit" in a magazine or posted on Pinterest and you'll see that accessories are included. So I ask: why exclude accessories from MMMay? Did you sew a purse or tote bag or string a few beads on a necklace? If yes, you win.

Just a few of the clutches and bags I've made.

My very first sewing project ever was a tissue pack cover. Why am I telling you this?


Because every time I sneeze in May, I win. And May is allergy season. #Boom
Bonus cheat for all you moms: wear your child. After all, you made them practically from nothing. They are the ultimate me made accessory. Double bonus if you actually made that ring sling or carrier. Again, this is something you can achieve daily without having to repeat outfits.

Taco was so small when I made this ring sling!

Cheater's Rule #5: The MMMay proxy.
Is your spouse, child or any other loved one, liked one or one-who-annoys-you-but-you-made-something-for-anyway wearing something you made today? I call it a win if someone, somewhere is wearing something made by you.  If you can't pull yourself together for a me made outfit or are having a bad hair day, all you have to do is sweetly say to your hubby, why don't you wear your Hudsons today? Then pump your fist while their back is turned because you WIN!

So, Taco in his overalls?


Phin is his shorts?


Phin wearing his pajamas in the morning and Hudsons with hand knit socks in the afternoon while rummaging in his diaper bag and babywearing Taco - who is wearing his overalls and playing with Dijon the Giraffe - in my ring sling?

MMMay win of shut-the-front-door epic awesomeness.

And there you go. Me Made May in 5 simple steps for all my fellow cheaters. Now if you are thinking, But Clio, MMM is not about #winning. Well, then you just don't have a type A personality. Also, this post is probably not for you.

Humor aside, what I'm actually saying is that I've reached a point in my sewing where I use and wear items I've sewn or knit most days, even when I am not wearing a me made outfit. My sewn and knit garments and more just blend right into my life. For newer sewists, well, I hope you stick with sewing long enough to get to this point, too.

But also, I've always felt like MMMay is just one of those things that isn't for me. I've never needed encouragement to wear the things I make. More important, I don't sew basics or in a need-driven way, and one suggested goal of MMM is to encourage sewists to see the holes in their wardrobe and fill them. It's a worthwhile goal, but I will never do this. The last time I tried, my mojo immediately went on hiatus until I vowed that 2013 would be the year of the frosting diet and I would only sew things that are fabulous. This is probably why I am the mom on the playground wearing a silk top in the sand box and why I just can't seem to sew a sensible suit in a muted color for work. I'll wear my me made frosting, but buy the boring basics; they aren't worth my precious sewing time.

All that said, I am happy that we have things like MMMay to rally around. It's part of what makes our community a community. But don't expect me to pop up in you IG feed with the MMMay hashtag anytime soon. I'm content to be cheating from the side lines, smugly winning with little effort. Are you a cheater too? Do tell...