Monday, August 27, 2012

Greetings from Paradise!

I'm cruising around the Caribbean this week, but will be back for Labor Day. Have a great week everyone!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Falling Leaves Sweater Reveal

So, here it is: my first sweater!

Through no fault of my own, I think it fits reasonably well! I haven't really figured out how to customize the fit of anything when knitting yet.

The pattern is the "Leaf Panel Top" from Runway Knits by Berta Karapetyan.  You can actually buy the pattern from the School Products Yarn website without having to buy the whole book, although I think I'll get a lot of use from the book.

I feel like I cheated on this sweater a bit. First, it has no sleeves, which I'm sure made it easier to construct. Next, I basically marched myself into School Products Yarn and let Berta tell me what yarn to use rather than having to figure it out myself (I used Karabella Zodiac 100% mercerized cotton). Last, Berta is my knitting teacher, so when I got stuck in one spot, I simply marched back to the yarn store and let her straighten me out. I highly recommend being on a first name basis with the designer of your knitting patterns. ;-)

I really like the leaf motif. This was definitely a fun and pretty easy first sweater project.

Have a great weekend everyone! :

Monday, August 20, 2012

Jean-ius Fly Front

Over the weekend, I plowed ahead with my jean-ius trousers.

I decided to make a pair of white trousers as the test run since 1 - I have at least 2 or 3 other white bottom weight fabrics in my stash but have never made or owned white trousers, 2 - I seem to like sewing for the very tail end of a season rather than sewing ahead for the next season (sigh) and 3 - I am going on my annual cruise vacation with my sister Calliope and her two boys next week and have at least 3 things I'd love to wear with white trousers. So there you have it.

My custom length zipper and tools.

If you are thinking about making pants of any sort, Kenneth King's Craftsy class really is full of good information on construction - lots of little extra tips and tricks. One of the extra things I learned was how to shorten a zipper to a custom length. All it took was jewelry making pliers and some elbow grease. Since I'm tall, I usually need a longer-than-prescribed zipper which I've paid someone else to shorten for me if necessary. So, even if I don't always shorten my own, this is a good skill to at least dabble in.

Also, I've always struggled a bit with zipper flies and I haven't sewn one since December. So, I was very interested to see how KK tackles his zipper fly. Turns out it was the most clear and straight forward method and instructions I've ever used. 

It wasn't too different from other instructions that I've used, but there were definitely a few little tweaks that really worked out well for me. It was one of those rare "aha" sewing moments where suddenly a task I found challenging or usually had to attempt a few times before succeeding suddenly seemed like no big deal. I think I've found my go-to zipper fly insertion method.

Seriously, this is my best zipper fly to date! The zipper went in easily on the first try. So, whether you are a beginner or just have always had to fiddle with your zipper fly insertion or have never been perfectly happy with the results, this is a great resource.

So, I have until Saturday morning to finish these trousers if I want to take them on vacation with me. I'm ready to sew and drop in the lining. After that, it will be just finishing details.

Stay tuned because I also have a knitting sweater reveal if I can motivate myself to block and photograph the sweater!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Burda Classics?

Did anyone else who subscribes to Burda get an email yesterday about Burda Classics?

Apparently it's a special issue that will contain "classic patterns, haute couture, perfect fits, feminine silhouettes, charming suits, romantic looks and exquisite evening wear". Since I interpreted that as "no sack dresses or dirndls" I immediately hit "purchase" for $10. Now, I'm not really sure what it is I bought. It's due out in October.

Anyway, if you have insight, please holler. If you want to jump on the bandwagon with me, click here for details (at least US details).

Monday, August 13, 2012

Monday Musings: Muslins and Mojo

I'm starting to see some real progress in my healing process. Yay!! And as a result, my sewing mojo seems to be slowly starting to reappear. Double yay!!  I'm actually even feeling like fabric shopping again.

So, my question of the day is: do you think muslin photos are actually helpful?   Let me explain...

Over the weekend, I plowed ahead with my Jean-ius trouser knock-off project. I'm not going to go into the whole process in depth, but after marking your trousers with basting stitches, you transfer those marks to organza and then to paper. From there you true the lines and then make a muslin.

The process - organza and paper, lots of pins and tracing wheel

When I tried on my muslin yesterday afternoon, I trotted down to the kitchen, giddy to show Phin how well the muslin fit. He immediately commented (unprompted) that it looked really good. The only changes were that the darts needed to be a bit longer and tapered (I did a very quick and dirty job on them), and I needed to take a bit out from the thigh, under the bum. Kenneth King actually demonstrates this alteration in the Jean-ius video. How lucky is that?

I used the method in Threads #133 to add the darts.

We headed out to the porch where the light was good, camera in hand, to get some pics for the blog. But when I looked at the resulting photos, I was horrified. The muslin looked awful! So, I had Phin re-take them. Same results! There were all kinds of lines everywhere and the bum was just heinous. Both of us were shocked because the pants muslin really fit well and looked good in person - just like the pants I'm trying to knock off. But not so in photo.

So, there you have it. I think that a muslin is a very helpful tool, but muslin photos are sometimes not helpful because they can make a small ripple look like a glaring fitting woe. The only way I could have altered the muslin to make it look better would result in eliminating all the wearing ease in the garment, which would be a big mistake. So, I've decided that the muslin is better not posted, and you will just have to take my word on the fact that it fit well.

What do you think? Have you ever had this experience or a similar one with muslin?

Last night I began creating all the extra pattern pieces I'll need for the actual trousers. Stay tuned, I'm hoping to have these done in time for my vacation in 2 weeks! 

Pants Pattern Parts: Front, back, fly guard and shield

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Elements of Style: Bandeau Bikini

So, the style that I'm grappling with today is the bandeau.

J Crew

My upcoming annual getaway with my sister Calliope and her two boys is a cruise again. Since it's the end of the season, I hit the sale racks for some new swimwear this week. There were a ton of bandeau tops. This is not a look I've ever worn, but it's not one that I dislike inherently. Afterall, I love strapless tops and showing my shoulders! But not a single one worked out for me.

I don't think of myself as very busty - I'm just a little bigger than average and have a very healthy respect for gravity. But I had 2 major problems with all of the bandeaus. First, there was not enough vertical coverage. I'm small around the ribcage, and the size I needed around was not big enough over the bust. Second, not a single one I tried on felt either supportive or secure at all (I didn't even bother to do a bounce test).

So, I'm wondering who wears this style?  Is it another look that only works for the small busted woman or pretty young things who haven't fully developed or experienced the effects of gravity yet?  The ruffles on this one definitely would add volume to a small bust.


Or is it a bit more of a lifestyle situation? When I'm in a bathing suit, I'm generally being active - I sunburn too easily to ever enjoy tanning. And I can not imagine that any of the bandeaus I tried on would have stayed put if I were to jump off a boat or dock, go down a waterslide, or do any of the active things I normally do on beach vacations. Seriously, I want to avoid any scuba-related wardrobe malfunctions.

I also found that on my body, they made me look flat (a third problem, I suppose) and were not particularly flattering. I also think wearing a too-small size for the sake of cleavage is just silly.

Clearly looking teed off that she's in the wrong size bikini top. It can't be comfy.

Anyway, are you a fan or wearer of the bandeau bikini?  I have nothing against them, per se. I was just surprised that not a single one worked for me and am feeling turned off to the whole style now. Please share!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Could I be a Jean-ius?

So, for my other sewing project - one where it doesn't really matter if I screw up or not - I decided that I basically need someone bossing me around. And who better to boss me than Kenneth King?

So, I signed up for Jean-ius! Reverse Engineer Your Favorite Fit on Craftsy. My goal is not to knock off jeans, but my favorite trousers, seen here:

Phin is a big fan of these trousers on me. And the fit is pretty spot on. I'd love a pair in white.

Now, drafting pants might not seem like a less complicated or easier project, but it certainly is less stressful. Since I won't be working on leather, there is a lot of margin for error. And there are very clear step-by-step instructions. I've watched the first several lessons and I am very impressed with how detailed and organized the class is. It's thorough without being overwhelming and Kenneth King is a wonderful speaker and teacher.

Anyway, step one is to baste along all the seam lines, grainlines and details (pockets, fly, etc).

Pants with basted guide lines

I still have to baste in the crosswise grain lines at knee and crotch level.

Up close

The only part that I have to figure out is how to account for the two darts on the back, since the jeans KK is using for the demonstration have no darts. I'll probably refer to the article on knocking off your favorite pants that was in Threads a few years ago. 

Honestly, I'm relieved to have a project that has incredibly detailed instructions (thank you, Kenneth) as compared to my Burda leather jacket. Sometimes, it's nice not to have to figure out every step as I go.