Monday, August 22, 2016

Taco Style: The Boxtop

This spring, that rebel of men's fashion, Peter of MPB fame, introduced American men to the part-boxers, part-dress shirt sensation, the Boxtop. That fashionable and fun one piece outfit taking the Riviera by storm has been a bit slow to capture the imagination of the adult American male audience. The toddler set, however, has embraced this style since, well, it's basically what they wear anyway.

So, here is Taco sporting his boxtop at a recent family function at a beach-front restaurant on the Irish Riviera.

My poor little guy. This was at the height of the recent heat wave in NY, and there was a very inviting looking jungle gym right in the sand outside the windows. Taco was longing to be outside, but it was just too hot.

It was impossible to get pictures of Taco toddling around in the outfit, unfortunately. Toddlers don't make the best models. With so many people at the even, my tiny guy just wanted to be held. But I hope you get the idea.

Anyway, the pattern is KwikSew 3730. I sewed view B, minus the trim and pockets, which I thought this cute whale embroidered seersucker didn't need.

The pattern is terrific, with clear instructions, simple methods and really great results. Toddler and baby clothing has a very short lifespan given how fast little people grow. So, I kept everything very simple and easy with this make, using my serger for most of the seams. I even outsourced a bit; I had the crotch snaps set at Star Snaps and the button holes made at Jonathan Embroidery.

 As always, the romper was rather wide on my skinny little boy. I probably could have gone down a size, but I was needlessly worried about the length thru the crotch. So I took the side seams in about 1/2" tapering to about 1/4" on the sleeves.

If it was earlier in the summer, I would probably make three more of these cute romers, but since my mind is already turning to Autumn sewing, I could more realistically see myself sewing the shirt version of this.

And just because I find him so adorable, here are a few more Taco shots.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Elizabeth Taylor + Scarlet O'Hara + Grandma's Curtains

I'm usually not one to chase a trend, but I found myself looking longingly at all the off-the-shoulder tops floating around the streets of NY this summer, especially as the temperature soared. I had to have one. STAT!

I can't help but feel like the result is what would happen if Elizabeth Taylor circa her caftan phase and Scarlet O'Hara decided to get crafty together in my grandma's kitchen. I love the results, but doesn't this cotton eyelet remind you just a little bit of grandma-esque kitchen curtains?

There are a number of tutorials for DIY off-the-shoulder dresses around the blogosphere at the moment. I consulted two that are virtually identical - here and here. The only real change I made was, obviously, to shorten from a dress to a top. I didn't have a lot of fabric, so I had to settle for a minimally gathered top (1.5 gather ratio). I'd make it a bit fuller next time.

I find that there's always a caveat with quick and easy DIY makes. The caveat with this style of top is that it doesn't always stay put when you move your arms. I often find that I'm wearing it Flashdance style, which is fine with me.

I spy Taco playing in the yard...

And really how much can I complain about a top that that I didn't even have to hem? All in all, this top was ready to be worn with a heat-wave hairdo and a bit of red lipstick in about ninety minutes flat.


Oh, and thanks to the heatwave, I am excruciatingly behind on photographing finished projects. I've been ridiculously productive this summer and currently have 6 unblogged finished garments (1 trousers, 1 maxi dress, 2 tank tops and 2 rompers). Plus, I owe you a post about my lady tux. I haven't forgotten; I just wither in this heat. Stay tuned because cooler days and more posts are ahead.

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...