Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Red Linen Pants Reveal!

When I sew something new, I really don't need encouragement to wear it. Most of my makes get put into regular rotation the minute they are done.

Ummm, sometimes sooner.

When the weather was so very nice on Memorial Day, I could not wait to wear my new linen pants - my third version of Burda 6/2011-114. And they do look finished, don't they?

At Prospect Park

Well, I guess I can trust you to keep my secret: I didn't have a coordinated or matching hem lace on hand for the lining, and since it was on the inside and no one would be the wiser, I wore them with the lining unhemmed. Shame on me. 


At some point, I decided that these wide legged pants deserved cuffs and a crease. For some reason, I really like trousers with a cuff. It adds a little weight to the hem. And since linen needs pressing, a crease is really not a big deal to add, and I always think it makes trousers look a little more polished.

They grew at the thigh a little

Of course, all of these pictures were taken after wearing these pants for most of the day - on the train, in the subway and walking around the Brooklyn Botanical Garden. Given how linen tends to progressively wrinkle and grow throughout a wearing, I'm pretty psyched about how these looked so late in the day. They did grow a little at the hip/thigh. But totally acceptable, in my book.

So that's what my bum looks like when I walk...

I usually sew more sleekly fitting clothing, BUT something about these wide legged, easy-breezy pants really appeals for summer wear. And I think I have the height to wear a wide leg without looking like I'm drowning in fabric.

I'm including this picture (below) because it is the only one that Phin took without prodding. So, it deserves to be in this post. 

Phin's green sneakers in the corner

OK, a few more details. The pattern was originally an elastic waist pull-on pant that I've made before. I added a fly using a pattern piece from Simplicity 2700 to create the shield and underlap (deets here). Since I have a 14" difference between my waist and hips (seriously curvy hips, peeps), the fly allows me to get the pants over my hips without having to do a wiggle dance, while not having to have loads of extra fabric at the waist. So, a win. 

And quite frankly, I think an elastic waist is really not a bad choice for linen. No matter how much the linen wants to grow, the elastic will keep the waist where it belongs. I made these trousers a little more low rise than previous models. See...

How the waist stood up by the end of the day.
Lining in a light but firm cotton (a little heavier than batiste) really helped with these pants keeping their shape and resisting wrinkles and creases. Another sewist asked me whether I found that lining in cotton batiste made pants stick or caused any problems. I haven't found this to be the case, but lining or underlining in cotton will change the hand of the fabric, particularly if it is drapey. Again, this is not really an issue for these particular trousers, but I wouldn't, for example, use cotton if I was making these from, say, challis or washed silk or any fabric where I wanted drape.

Happy lining and fly for happy pants!

Lining in a canary yellow had exactly the effect that I wanted. It subtly brings out the orange tones in this Santa Claus red linen. And it is plain old fun. So is the remnant of cherries fabric that I used for the fly. 

Ta da!
Anyway, linen pants #2 are already cut and started. So, do stay tuned!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Rare White Elephant: The Herd Grows

In stark contrast to my sewing overload, I've been suffering from knitting ennui lately. It's too warm to wear hand knit socks, and so I don't feel like knitting any. Plus, I have a mountain of gifts to get working on, but haven't picked out yarn yet. So, while I was trying to decide what to work on next, I added to my little elephant herd.

White elephants are rare in nature.
I haven't decided on a name for her yet. The other herd members are named for their colorways - Mingo (flamingo) and Daffy (daffodil) - but somehow "Ecru" doesn't feel like a good name.

There's not much to tell since this is my third time with the Elfante pattern. (First ones posted here.) My only change was that I gave her a cute little pink tummy.

Apparently, when I am away, the elephants like to play in and around/guard my sewing machines and notions. 

I must confess: it's fun to come home to find my knit toys hiding, peeking out from a corner or in a funny configuration.

They are cute, curious creatures.

But when someone does wrong by me, they get feisty and protective. Then their trample side comes out. 

Elephants in a row.

Anyone have a suggestion for a name for this little girl?  Let me know.

Oh and here is my list of knitting projects, none of which are even cast-on yet:
  • Cow playmate for DragonHippo (pattern purchased)
  • Baby Blanket and coordinating stuffie for my nephew-to-be
  • Baby gift for a good friend who is expecting a girl
  • Knee high Tardis socks as a bday gift for my sister (how awesome does that sound?)
  • A sweater for your's truly

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Spring Cleaning My Mental Sewing Space

It's time for me to admit it: I have too many projects going on at the moment.

This tends to happen when I travel and don't have time for sewing; my brain doesn't stop fantasy sewing and so the projects in my mental queue multiply. And I keep telling myself that as soon as things settle, I'll be able to plow through them. But it's really reached critical mass this time. So, in an effort to Spring Clean my brain and form a plan of attack, here is what I have in the various stages of not-done-ness:
  • Two linen pants, which are my top priority at the moment. The red ones should be done this weekend, and hopefully the blue ones too since it's a long weekend. (done 5/23 and done 6/30)

  •  Wax Cloth - It's nearly summer, and I now have a plan and patterns in hand for gifts for my sisters (all 4 of them) made from the wax cloth that my pop brought from Ghana. I think this may be next up.  Scratch that. I'm going to make a wax cloth project for myself next. Then gifts for others. (done 7/7)

Wax cloth

  • Wax Cloth for me - I decided on a more complicated project for myself: a bombshell dress, which will be fun and summery. I love strapless garments. And what better time to wear them then summer?!?! Plus, last night I took Kenneth King's Building a Bustier class at Mood, and am feeling all jazzed about working with boning and waist stays. I was going to use the Burda Bombshell dress pattern, but I'm not crazy about the bodice part and will do a frankenpattern instead. More on this to follow. (finished/revamped 9/6)

Bombshell Dress - Burda 5-2011 #122

  • Couture cami, which I have a good working muslin for. This is going to be a slow sew with lots of hand work. I am giving myself as many evenings on the couch with this project as necessary since I won't be wearing it until the fall, most likely.

Vogue 8888 View C modified
  • One half drafted pencil skirt. Um, yeah. I kinda stalled on this. BUT I think I will shift this to the late summer so I can make myself some skirts as the weather starts to cool. (finished 9/6)
  • This top that I am still fantasizing about. I have a raglan tee pattern ready to tinker with. But I think I will partner this up with my pencil skirt project since I would wear this in cooler weather with a pencil skirt.  (finished 1/2014)
BCBG Max Azria top

  • Shirts for Phin. Yeah. Um. Patterns bought. Stop. Part of the problem is that he has not identified fabric that he likes, despite my nagging encouragement. I think that if he wants shirts, in the end I am going to have to just pick some fabric and hope he likes it. Not sure where this leaves us. 
  •  Diaper Bag for my excellent friend Magenta. Despite knowing each other for nearly 2/3 of our lives, I am having a sewist's block on fabric. Magenta has a clear aesthetic and strong opinion. Right now I have a pile of swatches, a major case of indecision and a deadline. The baby has arrived right on time and I will meet him on June 13. So, this needs immediate attention. So, maybe I will have to bump this ahead of wax cloth projects. Sigh. (Done 6/13)

Yikes! That's eight projects, not to mention that the linen pants are actually 2 and the one for my sisters is a multi-part project. And this is without even considering that I am likely to get distracted by any flashy thing that crops up.

So, here's the strategy:
May-June: Finish my linen pants, while I choose fabric and get to work on the diaper bag. Then work on the diaper bag while I assemble parts and muslin the bombshell dress. Then move on to the Bombshell dress and wax cloth project for my sisters. 

July - August: Anything not finished in June (high probability of leftovers!), shirts for Phin and cami for me. Since I've got vacation planned, I don't know how productive I'll be.

September: Draft Pencil skirt and work on BCBG knock off top. Then go bananas with pencil skirts galore.

Does this seem like a sound strategy? Or am I kidding myself. Sewing with a plan has never worked well for me. I get distracted. What about you?

Oh, and if you would like to monkey with my brain, feel free to tell me which projects you think I should bump up, down or off the list! The power of suggestion really does a number on me. LOL

Monday, May 20, 2013

Zip It!

I didn't have much time for sewing this weekend. I fit in just a few hours on Sunday evening to work on my red linen pants.

I spent most of the time putting in the zipper.


You'll recall that the pattern is for elastic waist, pull on pants, and I decided to add a zipper fly to them. I did this by simply using the fly guard pattern piece from Simplicity 2700. (Coincidentally, I'm wearing a pair of these very trousers today!)  I cut one piece for the guard and then cut it again on a fold for the shield.

From the inside

Oh, and by the way, isn't the cherry print cotton I'm using for the fly pieces fun? It's a remnant from an apron I made for my sister, Terp, aeons ago. I love using up pretty scraps! 

Typically wrinkly linen!

I used to struggle with zipper flies. But not anymore thanks to Kenneth King's Jeanius Craftsy class. For whatever reason, his method works for me. In fact, it was like flipping a light switch the first time I followed these instructions. Really, I want to call it the no-more-fears/no-more-tears zipper application. Maybe it's that I respond well to being told what to do while I watch someone else doing it rather than just having photos and written instructions to go by.


And now my zipper is in and looking great. Also I sewed up the inseam and center/crotch seam, and basted the side seams. So, I should finish these off in time for Memorial Day.

Anyway, do you have a TNT method for applying zippers? I'm curious to know how others do it since it can be tricky. What do you do?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Tomato Red Dress Reveal

Now that the days are getting longer, I can fit in a photo session after work.  So here is my tomato red V1314 dress in the early evening sunshine.

Long shadows time of day.

I thought I would be finished with the dress on Saturday morning, but I really struggled with finishing the neck. I had to unpick the binding twice.  I'd love to tell you that the third time was the charm, but my final attempt still came out slightly gapey. It's not laying perfectly smooth and flat, which bugs me, but I couldn't cope with picking out more stitches and decided to move on.

I'm liking my hem lines a bit long these days for some reason. So, I lengthened the pattern by a few inches, which then turned out to be more than enough.

Rather than shortening the dress, I simply extended the gathering along the side seams, which stops at the hip in the pattern. That way more of the dress was ruched up, thus bringing the hem to where I wanted it.

The only other change I made was to taper in by about an inch on each side at the hem for a slightly pegged look. But I may go back and take the dress in just a bit at the midriff. There's some extra fabric there and the ruching isn't quite as, well, ruched as I'd like. 

Overall, I give this dress a B. Maybe a B+. It's not perfect because of the neckline, but I like it. This is my second time making V1314 (first as a tunic here), and I doubt that it will be my last. Really, it's easy to sew and fits me very well overall.

Early Evening Rays

I think this version will see a lot of action despite my quibbles with the neck. It's a fun color and easy to wear.

Happy sewing everyone!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Color Play and Could It Be a TNT?

Besides sewing up my red knit dress over the weekend (post to follow), I also forged ahead on two pairs of summer pants.  I've been loving the colorful trouser trend but have not found any RTW versions that fit and flatter (seriously, not a shocker).  But with summer coming, I've decided to take matters into my own hands.

Last week, I trotted over to Gray Line Linen and came away with two pieces of very nice and reasonably priced linen - red and blue. I like to line or underline warm weather garments in batiste or similarly light weight cotton. Also, I abhor show through on linen pants. Since linen tends to have a somewhat open weave or translucent nature, I decided to play with the colors of my lining. Here's what I came up with.

Christmas red linen with lemony lining

For the red linen, I'm going to line with a bright sunshine yellow. I'm hoping that the yellow will bring out the orange tones in this very Christmas-y colored linen. 

Denim blue linen with kiwi green lining

My second piece of linen is the perfect classic denim shade of blue. Doesn't it look like denim in this shot? I had been thinking about getting a more turquoise colored linen, but didn't find a color I liked. So, instead, I'll line in this eye popping kiwi green.

Because summer is a short season, I don't really want to spend loads of time working on a new-to-me pattern. I've decided to go with Burda 6/2011-114, an easy pull on pant that I've sewn twice before.

Burda 6/2011-114

The pattern is a real winner for me.You remember my seersucker pants with cuffs from last summer and my fun flower border print pants with flared legs from the year before, don't you?  Both summers my sisters have had to threaten me with an intervention if I didn't wear things other than these Burda pants.

And once I've sewn four versions of one pattern, it really is enough to start calling it a TNT. True? I don't really have any other TNT patterns. I usually sew something once and then I'm on to the next challenge.

The only flaw with my first two versions of these pants is that I have to do an itty bitty wiggle dance to get them over my hips.This is what comes from having curvy hips paired with a proportionally small waist.  So, these linen versions will have the elastic waistband, but I'm also adding a fly front.

The red pants are cut and partially sewn, and the blue version is ready to be cut.  I'll leave you today with the happy fabric rainbow that is in my Craft Lounge.

Yay Summer Sewing!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Spring Fever Sewing

Last weekend was so gorgeous, and I was thrilled to be at home. I caught up on all of my hobbies -I went for a few runs, tried some new recipes and organized the Craft Lounge and my sewing. I was definitely feeling the freeing effects of Spring Fever.  And now, I've got a 4 day weekend and 5 sewing projects vying for attention.

That New Yorkers wear black is not a stereotype. Yet, every Spring I feel the urge to wear something bright and fun, but I never have anything that fits the bill. I've been intensely jealous of all the beautiful and whimsical Laurel's that have been sewn up in the last few weeks. Alas, shift dresses look terrible on my figure (not enough shape) and whimsy doesn't really have a place in my wardrobe.

Tomato knit fabric

Coincidentally, when I bought the satin fabrics for the dragon costume (and btw isn't that a funny phrase?), I picked up two yards of this bright red/orange knit on a whim. It's a fun tomato-y color and has a great waffle-like pattern. It's pretty stretchy. 

So, I've been thinking of making it into a sleeveless version of V1314, a Tracy Reese ruched knit dress, which I made into a tunic in a cheap and peppy metallic knit back in February. (You remember my snow day, right?)


At this point, fabric is cut and ready to be sewn.

I'm hoping to have this dress done by the time I head back to work on Tuesday.

What are you sewing this weekend?

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Dragon: A Hippo that Dared to Dream

"Darling Hippo, If Phin really loves you, he will make you a little dragon costume cape with spikey spines down the back..."   

Well, Phin doesn't sew, but when reader Kimbersew made the above comment, the seed was planted. Phin's Hippo needed to realize his dream of becoming a dragon.

So we hatched a plan...

Pleeeeeeeeeasssse, Clio!

And we took some measurements.

Hippo belly

We made a pattern and cut cloth... 

Measure twice, cut once...

And very soon, a dragon was born.

Dragons are noble creatures

And this dragon had adventures...

Dragon the Hippo with the Tramples

...with swords, dragon eggs and loyal elephant companions...

Where are those other dragons?

...seeking out the other dragons of Westeros.

I must confess: I did actually have to buy the fabric for this project - inexpensive satin in purple and green. But it was worth it - this was a fun make. I'm such a sucker for costumes.

Look at those spikes!

I'm not sure which is my favorite feature of this project, the spikes or the button holes for the ears. This was the perfect fun little project to get back into the swing of things before tackling more challenging sewing last weekend. And it was just so dang silly, that I couldn't stop smiling and laughing as I sewed. I think that Phin may have had just as much fun with the camera.

Hippo Hero!!!

I had a really productive weekend and have a 4 day weekend coming up. So, stay tuned for lots more sewing updates. 

Monday, May 6, 2013

Madam Clio Saves the Peplum Fetish Top!

Folks, I think that we can call my faux leather peplum top a save.

I hope you agree that it is far more... um... wearable in public now. 

This is how I would style it for work related events - with a ponte pencil skirt, pumps, silver jewelry and my specs. Betcha didn't know I wear glasses. I do, but only for seeing things that are far far away (ie: for driving, in movie theaters and walking through airports...) Somehow I think they make this edgy outfit a bit more serious.

For Work

This is how I styled it for a birthday dinner with my sister - with skinny jeans, edgier jewelry, and a purple clutch.

For Fun

A Little Recap
So, this was originally - and still mostly is - Very Easy Vogue 8815, a peplum top in three variations. I made view A, a sleeveless version, out of faux stretch leather and ponte knit.  Originally this top had darts from the waist to the bust, but that didn't work out so well for me, especially in faux leather.

So, I changed the darts into armscye princess seams while I was home recuperating from a cold last week. Princess seams really do wonders for my figure - they're a curvy gal's BFF. In addition, they eliminated the "headlight problem" that the darts created.

New princess seams

I also changed the front side pieces to ponte instead of faux leather to tone down the top just a bit.

Ponte sides with faux leather front.

I'm glad I saved this top since I really love the back with it's exposed zipper instead of an invisible zip. And, overall, I think the fit is spot on.  I think I am going to have to use the pattern pieces for this top to help me fit other bodices.

Back zipper.

There's not much to say about sewing this top. Since neither the ponte or the faux leather are going to fray, I simply pressed all the seams to one side, trimmed and top stitched them with a double needle. I made binding from the faux leather to finish the armscyes and neckline. Rather than turning the neck binding to the inside, I left some as a trim.

With my changes, this top fits really well and has the look and feel that I wanted. I think I'll get a lot of wear out of it until the peplum and faux leather trends go bust.

Don't make me get out my crop...

So ends our peplum fetish adventure. Stay tuned because I had a very busy and productive weekend and have loads to tell this week!