Sunday, January 31, 2016

Snow Leopard Chica, OOP Vogue 1315

The snow from last weekend has all melted, with the exception of a bit outside of our building.  I thought it an ideal backdrop for a recent make, Vogue 1315, an OOP Rebecca Taylor Vogue pattern (as of this writing, it's still available on the OOP section of the Vogue Patterns website).

I completed this back in late September as part of my travel wardrobe for our 12 day Berlin vacation. If you're looking for a fast and simple sew, which works especially well for travel, this should be your next make.  The pattern is simple and the instructions are clear and straightforward.

It even comes with pockets!

I constructed this using my Janome, Jem Gold, which I purchased as a machine to take along with me on my frequent business trips.  However, I've been using it more and more at home as well.  I'll do a complete review of this little super sewer in another post.  For the seams on this dress, I used a "snake" shaped stitch, rather than a small zig zag stitch as I normally would, since the Jem Gold stretches the fabric with the small zig zag.  I even bought the walking foot, thinking this would help, but I still get a fair amount of stretch using it.  The wide wavy stitch works well, though, and I've used it on several other knit projects.

Besides the pockets, the other design element I like with this pattern is the neckline.

You cut two neck bands, one about a quarter of an inch wider than the other.  You then apply the two neckbands as one.  The bands end up curling down, but you have one curl on top of the other.  It's a fun little effect.

For sleeve finishing, I applied fusible hem tape.  I don't advise this on stretch makes, since the sleeve ends won't stretch anymore, however; I was in a hurry and knew that I'd always be able to fit my hand and wrist through the opening.  For the hem, I simply turned up and stitched with a tiny zig zag.

The fabric is a t-shirt weight leopard print that I picked up at Fabrix on a previous visit to San Francisco.  It's super comfy, and I can layer thermals underneath and/or sweaters on top.  I think I'd like to make this again in a thicker stretch knit in a solid color.  It's one of those dresses that you can wear pretty much anywhere!

Hasta pronto!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Dreaming of Summer in the Dead of Winter - Vogue 8727 and 8998 Mashup

Hola!  Yesterday we got 28" of snow here in NYC.  It's beautiful, but I'm dreaming of summer and warmer temps.  This past July, Sew Chica Mamma and one of the Sew Chica sisters came to NYC for a visit.  Three Latinas in our 1 bedroom apartment!  Professor R. is such a good sport.

One of our activities was a visit to the Botanical Gardens to view the Frida exhibit.  Of course, I needed something special for this event.  Enter Vogue 8727 halter sewn onto Vogue 8998.

I had originally set out to make Vogue 8727, both top and bottom; but it's quite a fabric hog - 7 7/8 yards for the halter view C!  After much wrangling with several other pattern choices, I settled on the halter top from 8727 and paired it with the skirt from Vogue 8998.  The halter is pretty straight forward, but the skirt is really a scene stealer.  It's full without being overly so, but the real highlight is the horsehair trim which gives the skirt some real bounce.

This was my first time applying horsehair, and I found it to be fairly simple.  I read/viewed lots of online tutorials beforehand but settled on following the pattern instructions.  They differed from what I was seeing online but in the end were easy and effective.  You sew the horsehair to the bottom of the lining, them sew the fashion fabric with right sides together to the lining, enclosing the horsehair.  Done!

The Gardens were really enjoyable.  We went on a Sunday when they had special events in conjunction with the exhibit, including a female mariachi band and Mexican dancers.  

In the greenhouse, they displayed facsimiles of plants and objects that Diego and Frida collected and displayed in their house in Mexico City.

The hat is Vogue 7600 view B, which I've made before.  This time I used stiffer interfacing and followed SavageCoco's extremely helpful Flickr tutorial.  I sewed the exterior of the hat with white linen and for contrast, I used the floral fabric inside.  I also made fabric roses from scraps to decorate the outside.  I like this version of the hat much better than my previous version, with one exception.  Should I make this hat again, I'll trim the stiff interfacing from the seam allowances.  It was really difficult to sew through the heavy interfacing, and I think trimming would eliminate that issue.

The fabric is Gertie's Swiss Dot Rose.  I'm so happy with this fabric.  It was super easy to sew, and it's just really beautiful.  Sew Chica Mamma was impressed that it was dotted swiss.  She said she hadn't seen dotted swiss for some time, so it definitely has a vintage flavor.

I'm off to make hot chocolate and stare at the beautiful snow.

Hasta pronto!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Old Pattern, New Dress - Vogue 1634

I'm so happy with my most recent make, Vogue 1634.

When I started this project I couldn't remember when I had purchase the pattern, I only knew it was "some time ago."  A Google search led me to The Vintage Cache, which dates this pattern to 1995!  Way to sew up those patterns, chica!  As far as the pattern goes, it's well drafted and a great timeless (to me anyway) design.  

I love the sleeves!

I've made it of a beautiful wool jersey that may have been lurking in my stash as long as the pattern has.  I purchased it back when I lived in San Francisco from Britex at, I believe, one of their remnant sales. 

The wool had just a few minor, tiny holes in it that were very easy to cut around.  It's fairly stable, so I didn't even re-enforce the shoulder seams, as I often do when sewing knits.  This wool was super easy to sew, and it's even easier to wear.  

One thing I did differently from the instructions is the inside belt which pulls one side of the dress to the other, internally.  The instructions want you to make a belt from ties that you cut from lining fabric and feed through elastic.  I had a length of petersham ribbon on hand from a previous project, and decided to use that instead.  I'm so pleased with the result because it was much faster than sewing a tube of fabric, turning it, and then inserting elastic.  Plus, the inside is really comfortable.  I'm often weary of wrap dresses because that inside belt can be a little uncomfortable after a while.  Because petersham is flexible and soft, the belt moves with me while still holding everything in securely.  I'm going to keep this in mind when sewing wrap dresses in the future.

Because winter finally made its arrival here in NYC, it has become my favorite theater going dress.  I feel like I'm dressed up enough but also warm, especially since I need to wear a silk undershirt beneath.  I can almost handle the itch factor of the wool, but with the silk underneath, it's perfect.

I'd even like to try and make the other views since they seam even "easier" as concerns dressing.  The other two styles are both pull over, as opposed to this wrap version.

Since some folks are a little fraidy fraidy of sewing knits, I've included some of techniques I use for sewing with knits.  I find knits to be great for quick projects - no need to finish seams, and the fit is often forgiving :)

Sew Chica Sews Knits:

  • When I layout my fabric, I hold the selvages together and adjust them until I see that the fold is "on grain," i.e. there isn't a ripple near the fold at the bottom.  When I can't tell if I'm "on grain," I cut the pattern pieces in a single layout.
  • Make sure the fabric does not hang off your workspace.  This is true for any fabric you cut to sew, but it's especially true for knits.  You don't want to have any stretch going on while you're cutting your pattern. 
  • I use my regular machine with a small zigzag stitch.  Even though I have a serger, I find my regular machine set with a small zigzag works best for sewing knits.
  • I often don't finish my seams with the serger.  Since knits don't ravel, I just trim my seams and I'm done.
  • I sometimes re-enforce the shoulder seams with clear elastic if the knit is loose or it appears that it may stretch.  I just zigzag it over the seam line.
  • Hems - If the knit I'm sewing is not very stable, I interface the hem with stretch interfacing.  To sew the hem I often use a stretch twin needle.  I never knew stretch twin needles existed until just a couple of years ago, but I noticed a huge difference when sewing with the stretch twin needle on knit fabrics.  The fabric doesn't bunch up under the presser foot but rather feeds through smoothly.  Also, I may use different hem techniques on a single item.  For example, with this make, I used my stretch twin needle to sew the hem along the bottom of the dress but because I didn't want the double row of stitches along the front and most visible part of the garment, I hemmed each side of the dress by hand.  I like the smooth and almost invisible finish of the hand stitches.
That's it!  Do you like sewing with knits?  Do you have any knit sewing projects in your 2016 sewing queue?

Hasta pronto!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Ghost of Christmas Past in Butterick 6018 and a Simple New Year's Resolution

Happy New Year!  

Today I'm sharing  my 2015 Christmas dress!

It's Butterick 6018 minus the sleeve cuffs and front buttons.  This was a super quick sew.  I woke up early Christmas morning cut the pattern, and had it finished by 4PM, in time to get things ready for our Christmas dinner with friends.  

It's not perfect by any means.  I used my upper body and sleeve sloper to draft the top portion, but something went wrong.  The sleeves are a bit tight in the upper area, and I'm not sure why.  This isn't usually the problem when I use my custom made slopers and is why I use them instead of the pattern.  Since I didn't have time to figure out the issue, I didn't attach the cuffs thinking that I might have to mess with the sleeves to get them just right.  I'm now thinking that I'll save this alteration for next year.

Check out the fabric!!!  

I was originally thinking I would make a red and white striped Christmas dress like the vintage card on Heather B's. blog, but I couldn't find any red and white striped fabric, anywhere.  On a trip to San Francisco just before Christmas, I went to one of my old haunts, Fabric Outlet, and I saw the fabric!  I have to believe it was created with this card as inspiration.  

My favorite "scene" is the two ladies facing each other while one blows out a candle on a Christmas cake.

You may have noticed my hat.  It is entirely me-made and very obviously so.  But, I like how it turned out.  I was trying to create a Christmas peppermint.  

Over the holidays, I wore it any chance I could with different types of outfits to all different types of events (even grocery shopping on Christmas Eve).  I was a little sad when I had to tuck it away for next year in my hat box.

Finally, in the spirit of New Year's resolutions, I will share mine.  I will not buy any new fabric in 2016.  I can't believe I just wrote that, but I have to sew my stash.  Here's what I've got: I have 4 large plastic storage tubs in my closet, on top of which sit two extra large vacuum bags so full of fabric that they can't be closed.  Wedged in between those bags are two large shopping bags and one medium sized vacuum bag all bursting with fabric.  But wait, it goes on.  I have an under the bed storage container full of unfinished projects, one dresser drawer devoted to fabric and a large tote bag underneath my sewing table with some recent fabric purchases.  Aaauuggghh!!  I have to stop buying fabric.  Sometimes I feel like I'm being swallowed by it.  Not as bad as the hoarder people who have to crawl through and jump over things to leave their houses, but for our 1 bedroom New York apartment, it's getting tight.  

The only exemption to my resolution is lining fabric that I might need to complete a project to get the stash fabric into a garment.  Notions, zippers, interfacing, etc., I'm not counting as new fabric purchases, so those are all allowed.

I need to remember how excited I was when I purchased a cut of fabric and what I wanted to make with it or what I'm inspired to make with it now.  Then, I need to execute and complete the project.  Have you made any New Year's resolutions?  If so, what are they?

Hasta pronto!

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