24 April 2016

Completed: Grainline Portside Travel Set in Coral and Black

This post is long overdue. I agreed to make this set as a Christmas gift last year and finished it in January. I didn't get it to my sister until last week, when I was finally able to visit my family. I had completed the pouch at least by Christmas, but I can't seem to find a photo of it anywhere.

I will admit, I really struggled with this pattern, which confused me because no other bloggers wrote about having problems and I have experience making complex bags.

Pattern: Grainline Studio Patterns' Portside Travel Set
Size: N/A
Rating: 2/5 
Fabric, etc.: Both the coral and the black print were canvas from JoAnn fabrics. Most of the zippers came from there, except the custom ordered one (which I had to buy several of, they didn't sell singles) was from Etsy. The leather for the pull tabs was scrap. Clips aka snap bolts came from the hardware store while d-rings and webbing came from JoAnns.
Cost: Custom zippers $8.75, snap bolts $8.98, d-rings $1.25, webbing $9.19, fabric + topstitch thread + other zippers $36.29 = $64.46
Time: Two months
  • I used a lighter weight canvas so I definitely needed the interfacing. I think if I used a duck or what I would normally think of as canvas I wouldn't use it.
  • I was really annoyed that the fabric and notions list is not broken down according to which part of the set you are making. Therefore I had no idea which of the smaller zippers went to which bag, and it wasn't clarified in the instructions. If I wanted to make just the dopp kit, I would have really had a time of it.
  • The zippers used for this pattern aren't common lengths you can buy at the store. This meant I had to fudge it with both too-long and too-short zippers and for one even had to buy a custom zipper. The pattern does not specify what type of zipper (nylon, metal, heavy duty...) to use.
  • I used heavy duty zippers throughout, but next time I would only use it on the duffle bag because it was nice and sturdy. They were really bulky on the small bags and quite expensive.
  • The d-rings I used aren't as sturdy as I would have liked, there were better ones on Etsy but I couldn't afford them.
  • The instructions are vague and generally confusing. There is no use of piece numbers and sometimes what they call the piece is not what is labeled on the pattern piece (examples are step 25 and step 31).
  • The instructions don't tell you to what fabric/piece you should apply the interfacing. An informed seamstress would know not to interface the lining, but it would be better not to assume. Plus there are so many pieces that even I had to think about it for a few minutes to get my bearings.
  • At Step 31 the space between pieces 14 and 14 lining, is not 1/4” but 13/16” (so it is larger).
  • At Step 32 it isn’t clear that you are still working on the bag lining. Also the illustration is incorrect.
  • No step on attaching lower back to upper back.
  • Frequently pieces didn't line up when I went to sew them (i.e.  one piece was longer or shorter than the other). In the beginning I assumed I just didn't cut things quite perfectly, but some of the discrepancies were much too big for it to have been that.
  • I wish the pink band on the dopp kit lined up all the way around instead of being longer in the front. I also wish the pouch had been lined, which I will do next time, it just felt sloppy inside.
Despite the pattern's shortcomings, I ended up with a bag that my sister really loves and in all honesty I will probably make myself one because I do love the final product. I'm interested to see if it is easier the second time around or if things match up better.

25 March 2016

Completed: Lemon Drop Tunic

One WIP done! I had started this top last August, just before we moved. It is more of a warm weather top, especially with my fabric choice, but it was so quick to finish up I didn't care. I've been so busy that I haven't had time to get a photo of it on, so for now you just get my instagram shot of it. At last, after this week I will be done with designing and hopefully getting some sewing for me done!


Pattern: Anna Maria Horner's Lemon Drop Dress and Tunic
Size: Small; same view as on the adult woman
Rating: 4/5 

Fabric, etc.: I was able to destash some knit fabric for this one. The body is an unknown fiber knit from Mood from when Liz and Michelle visited NYC for the day. I think it was $14 for the one yard. The aqua accent fabric was from Spandex House/World ages ago when I was thinking of making underwear. It also made an appearance in my Downtown tunic and I am pleased to be rid of it - it is one of those liquid-y knits that get eaten by regular sewing machines.

Cost: $14 for the fabric, $17 for the pattern...$31, ouch!

Time: I could probably whip one up in a day...

  •  I love the shape of this tunic. It covers enough to be worn with just leggings but still looks good with jeans. It is fitted in the bust but not around the stomach. I did have to take in the accent colored section of the sleeve about 1", but I have pretty skinny arms. I was surprised it all came out so well, considering Anna Maria Horner is more about quilting and quilters cottons.
  • The pattern comes with lots of variations. I don't know if I'll try any of the others, but it made the price more justified in my mind.
  • I didn't choose the best knit for the neckband - it is too drapey and twisted after washing. Next time I'll take that into consideration.
  • The only thing I did not like about this pattern were the instructions. I couldn't find a set seam allowance, it seems each step describes what SA to use. The instructions were so overexplained and wordy that I ditched them altogether and just looked at the pictures. I tried to read them, but it made my eyes swim. It might be good for a beginner, but I found it overwhelming.
  • Quick anecdote about the fabric: when I went to Mood with Liz and Michelle, I had no intention of buying anything except some lining for a repair job. It was quite deserted and usually it is hard to find an employee to assist you (no complaints, it is a popular store and quite cramped so you can only have so many employees). That day was the exception, the woman in the knits section was hell bent on swatching anything I even glanced at. Finally I opted to buy a yard to escape her swatching spree. For anyone interested, they had this knit it many colorways.

05 March 2016

February Summary: One Show, Almost No Sew

Really, even with the extra day, this February went by in a flash. I spent most of it scurrying to get the costumes for The Last Days of Judas Iscariot ready, which just opened, as well as for the opera Xerxes which opens in less than a month now. Ack!

Satan and Fabiana Cunningham in The Last Days of Judas Iscariot. Photo by Sue Kessler.

Judas left me with more than its fair share of headaches but since it was mostly pulls and buys there was almost no sewing done for this one. Sure, we quick rigged the top of a shirt and its sleeves into a coat but other than that it seemed it was going to be a no-sew show. And then I remembered we had no shirt the directors liked for Judas himself. I scrambled to order a generic "ethnic" shirt pattern from Etsy and came up with Simplicity 6380, but only in women's sizes. Having sewn unisex '70s patterns before, I was pretty confident it wouldn't be a problem, in fact, it was more likely to come out too big.

I lengthened it appropriately and even remembered to measure the neck opening and the bicep. What I forgot was that the actor has particularly broad shoulders, and it turns out it is a pretty fitted shirt. After our fitting, I sat ripping out the sleeves and praying to the sewing gods that if I just let out all the seams it would magically fit. And it did! This is the only time that cheat has ever worked.
Now I'd like to try to make one for myself. The sleeves are set into a square armscye and it has pockets built in. My copy even came with the embroidery sheet. It goes together pretty quickly. I  always struggle with this placket style though, and once again it came out crooked. Eventually I hand sewed it but it still isn't perfect. If anyone has any tips, I would LOVE to know them.

Until I get the other photos from the shoot, I only have this one I got with my iPad. The shirt was made with raw silk from the shop stash. I would love to get my hands on more, it was magical stuff. Linen-look with amazing drape. It was really hard to bring myself to distress it with paint later, but sometimes that is what costuming calls for. And hey! It counts for Vintage Pledge!

13 February 2016

2016 The MAYBE and WIP List

 Even though I'm suddenly down to nil sewing because I'm costuming two productions at once, I've got plenty of daydream sewing going on. My shows are going well but switching back and forth between the two hurts my brain in the same way that switching between languages does. The first is The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, which is a student-directed show. Since they've chosen modern clothing it is in some ways a lot easier than it might have been. The second is an opera called Xerxes, set in a modern day gulf city. If nothing else, the research has been fascinating. On to the more fun stuff, though...Also, I promise this will be the last of my to-sew lists. Well, for a month at least!

1. Lady Skater dress
Way behind the crowds on this one - I made a muslin of it last year but never got around to making a real one. My problem is that the yardage I usually buy for knits is just under the required yardage.

2. Rashguard from Fehr Trade's Surf to Summit
When we go to Maine for our summer vacation, the water is usually just warming up for the season. So not only would it keep me a little warmer, it means less sunscreen chemicals on my body and in the water. I use as environmentally friendly a sunscreen as I can (most contain chemicals that are toxic to marine life!), but even those can affect the aquatic landscape.

3. Jasper Sweater
I love the asymmetry of the hood and the pockets built into the princess seams.

4. Raglan Tee
I was inspired a few years ago by one made by Suzanne of Beau Baby and still have yet to make one, mostly because I'm trying to find the just right pattern.

5. McCalls 6960
Another half started project of last summer, I only got as far as tracing off my pieces. If I had fabric designated for this, I've long since forgotten.

6. Simplicity 1613
I like the potential for a Grease inspired top in this pattern - using the off the shoulder version with sleeves, but eliminating the weird straps.

7. McCall's 6794
 This '70s inspired top would be great for summer in a lawn or challis.

8. Vogue 8836
 Yep, another to-sew list repeat offender.

9. Simplicity 1801
I have plans to convert this one into a knit. It looks like two knit dresses I already own, so I know the styling is right.
Works In Progress
1. Regency short stays
2. Plaid wool cape
3. Bra (from my class almost 2 years ago...)
4. Plaid 70s skirt
5. Lemon Drop Tunic

07 February 2016

2016 THE MUST Sew List

This year, I want to continue to encourage my stashbusting and "cake" sewing habits. After moving and realizing how much my stash had outgrown my storage as well as donating a lot of my makes, I realized just how important it is to keep this up. I just wish it hadn't taken me 10 years of sewing to figure out that putting some extra effort into making things I'll really wear is worth it. That's right, I've been sewing for 10 years now, and blogging for at least 6 of them. I guess it is just my natural stubbornness.
For once I've got a few things I really need to make! As in, my underwear elastic is so stretched out I'm lucky if they stay up and I ripped a giant hole in my pajamas the other day just putting them on. And not just because I'm secretly a lady hulk! I stocked up on muslin the other day to get going on some of these. First step to success is a good muslin.

1. Underwear for me: Rosy Lady Shorts and a '70s pattern
I've made Rosy Ladies before and the versions people have made from this Sew Lovely pattern have looked really nice. It is just a matter of getting some stretch lace and picot lingerie elastic.

2. Carolyn Pajamas in organic flannel
Finding organic flannel in NOT light colors is proving hard. My pjs have to stand up to things like bacon frying, dog slobber, self-appointed cheering up solo dance parties and still look good enough for the occasional early morning chauffeur when James misses the bus in the morning.

3. Shirtdresses
I love shirtdresses, so why do I only have one at the moment? Especially sleeveless - I can struggle up the hill to the college on my bike and still look put together enough to go to a meeting without stains in the pits. I plan to rectify this with the incredibly popular McCall's 6696 (seriously, I think I'm the only person who hasn't made one) and McCall's 6506 which has a fuller skirt and a glorious huge '70s collar. 

4. Sundresses
 Again - I only have a few and being jersey, they are a bit too hot come July. McCall's 6331, McCall's 6954, Colette Parfait and the Washi Dress are my top candidates.

5. Rey Halloween Costume
Thanks, Star Wars costume designer for designing an outfit that is both kick-ass and pretty straight forward to make AND comfortable. No 10 yards of fabric or tight waists or super stilettos or two hours of makeup prep! Even the hair is super easy!

James is in need of a few things too...

1. A full set of Comox trunks for James.
This pattern is brilliant and makes up in one sitting, which is a miracle for me and my sewing ADD. 1 done, 6 to go!

2. Pajama pants for James
I've been putting this off for awhile. So easy, but you know how it goes.

3. More Negronis for James
 More procrastination. Ive promised both short sleeve, long sleeve flannel and dress shirt versions and have yet to deliver.

Folks Serv