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Indiesew Blog Tour: Tank Top Bonanza

June 21, 2017

When I was contacted by Allie from IndieSew to participate in the Great Tank Bonanza of 2017, I knew that I wanted to try my hand at making active wear. I prefer racerback style sports bras, so I was really excited to test the Rumi Racerback from Christine Haynes and the Adventure Tank from Fancy Tiger Crafts. I used performance jersey for all components of both shirts and put my serger to good use!

Rumi Tank

When I was trying to decide on my size, I got out an old Lululemon tank and laid it across the pattern pieces to compare. The Rumi has a more forgivable shape – it has a slight curve below the bust and then skims away from the body – but I was surprised that it was so much shorter than my RTW tank. I added two inches to the length. The pattern is designed for knits, but since I was using super-stretch jersey, I made a size two rather than a size four.

The binding went on very smoothly and I really appreciated that the instructions were full-colour photographs. I often forgo instructions if there is a sew-along to follow, so this was like having sew-along posts conveniently in one document. The scoop of the neck is pretty low, so I think for my next version I’ll raise it an inch. There is a slight curve to the hem of the shirt, and the back of the tank is what I think of as a traditional racerback style.  I knew I loved the Rumi because I started wearing it before I even finished the hem!

Adventure Tank

This is what I’ll be wearing to run this summer! The curve of the hem is more pronounced on the Adventure Tank than the Rumi, and the racerback has a v-shape that I really like.  The neck line is higher and gives more coverage overall. The body is boxier in shape and the instructions were clear and easy to follow. This tank is also pretty short. I added two inches to the length here as well and took out an inch and a half from the shoulders. I wasn’t sure about the size, so I made a small, but I’ll try the medium next time. The arm and neck bindings were more challenging, but this was only due to the slippery texture of this particular fabric.

Overall, I think both tanks are a great addition to my wardrobe and I was delighted with how each pattern translated into activewear. Like Allie, I made the two tanks in a single afternoon and hardly used any fabric – perfect stash busting project! It was a nice way to dip my toe into sewing activewear and build confidence before taking on more complicated garments. Thank you so much to IndieSew for having me along on the blog tour!

 

*IndieSew provided the patterns for this project and compensated me for my time. All thoughts are my own.

 

 

Summer Uniform, 2017 Edition: Named Kielo Wrap Dress

June 12, 2017
Kielo Wrap Dress 1

Kielo Wrap Dress Kielo Wrap Dress from Named Patterns Kielo Wrap Dress from Named PatternsKielo Wrap Dress from Named PatternsKielo Wrap Dress from Named PatternsI would never have considered making the Kielo Wrap Dress until I saw it in person, at Patch Halifax, where I was able to try on the store sample. Sometimes I have a hard time visualizing beyond the models and styling for Named Patterns to how I think the garment would look on me. I shouldn’t have let that dissuade me, because the Kielo is a magical dress that looks amazing on all the different bodies I have seen in it.

I used a black bamboo cotton and made a few fit alterations based on the sample:

  • I cut a chunk out of the centre back seam (2 inches wide tapering down 3 inches)
  • Raised the back slit by 4″
  • Cut 1.5 inches out of the length of the bodice, just above the bust-dart. I wanted to keep the neckline where it was, but raise the arm holes a bit and move the ties to my natural waist.
  • I skipped both the back darts and the interfacing on the ties.

Oddly enough, I didn’t need to shorten the dress at all. I’ve seen it on people taller than I am though and it hits them at the same place. I pull up more of the skirt in the back to create a tucked-in effect, but I’ve left the back long here for the photos. It’s a quick make, but I did get held up on the knit bias binding for the neck and arms. I wish there was a pattern piece for them, since there are optional instructions for them with the pattern.

This dress feels like the sexiest Secret Pyjamas. I could easily wear this to a formal event, but also with a jean jacket and some flip-flops all weekend. If you see me in this dress, I will salute you with my flying-squirrel wings. I hope you will also be wearing a Kielo and can salute me right back!

Project: Keilo Wrap Dress

Total Cost: $62

Pattern:$20

Fabric: $40.00

Notions: $2

Total Hours: 8

Fit Adjustments: I made a US size 4, but with several adjustments: I took a 2 inch wedge out of the CB seam at the neck, raised the back slit by 4 inches, and took 1.5″ of length out of the top bodice. I also skipped the back darts and interfacing on the ties.

See also: I didn’t think I was going to love my Saunio Cardigan from Named either, but it’s become one of my favourite pieces!

 

Navy Tea House Dress from Sew House Seven

June 5, 2017

Tea House DressTea House Dress    Tea House Dress Tea House Dress Tea House Dress

Well, hello there. Welcome to the dress of pocket dreams.

I’ve had the pattern for the Tea House Dress (from Sew House Seven) for at least a year, but I held out on making this dress until I found the perfect fabric. When I saw this Robert Kaufmann Indikón Cotton Yarn Dyed Fabric at Patch Halifax, I knew it was exactly what I had been waiting for.

I played with the direction of the stripe and used the wrong side of fabric on the front and back plackets, the centre front skirt, and the sleeve cuffs. I’m glad that I opted for the shorter version, as the longer one is a lot of dress on a 5’2 person, but also because I still used nearly 4 metres of fabric on this one!

The neckline is the perfect depth on me and I didn’t need to do any kind of full-bust-adjustment. The only tricky part of this dress was the front placket. The instructions have you gather the front inside edges ever so slightly and press the pieces until they are totally flat. I’m not entirely sure what purpose that ease serves. I was able to get one the way I wanted, but the other wasn’t quite as good. I found that topstitching the front placket, which connects it to the lining placket, creates a slight puffiness in the front.

It’s a minor quibble though. I am delighted with this dress. The fit is spot-on; it’s very flattering; I love a Dolman sleeve and, of course, those pockets! In fact, this may be my favourite make of this project so far.

Project: Tea House Dress

Total Cost $108.25

Pattern: $24.25 (18 USD)

Fabric: $80

Notions: $4

Fit: Straight size 4

What to work on: That teensy bit of fullness in the front placket

See also: My beloved (and much worn) Toaster Sweater is also from Sew House Seven. I’ve got my eye on the Nehalem Pant pattern too!

 

 

Gingham Archer

April 16, 2017

I really should re-name this project Erica Makes Blue and White Shirts.

I’ve had this fabric forever and I kept using it for interior pockets on jeans and other items. It’s soft, crisp and with a bit of stretch. I realized that I’d better hurry up and make an actual garment out of it before I cut it down anymore, or I’d only have enough fabric left for…more pockets. I made this shirt at the same time as my Striped Archer, but made a few planning mistakes on this version that the striped one benefited from.

  1. I forgot to account for the seam allowances when laying out the pattern pieces for cutting. The Archer has a sewn-on front placket on one side of the shirt, while the other side is folded under twice. This meant that instead of having a continuous pattern across the front, I ended up having to shave off 1/2 from the folded side to create a more balanced effect.
  2. I did the same thing on the back. The stripes are 1′ wide and I easily could have planned for the external pleat to go over one stripe, like this great version from Helen’s Closet. I turned the pleat inside so that it wouldn’t stand out too much.
  3. I ended up making two collars because I cut the first one with horizontal stripes. It looked much better on the bias.
  4. I tried to take pictures of a bright shirt outside, in Canada, in April. Weather ensued and it took 3 attempts to get it together.

However, please don’t let all of this nit-picking trick you into thinking I don’t love this shirt. I was feeling a little over it by the time I was finally done, but haven’t stopped wearing it.  I put out a call for button opinions on Instagram and was very happy with my choice (they are from The Mariner’s Daughter).

I understand why people who sew tend to have an Archer for every day of the week. This one feels the most boxy of the three I have made, as the fabric has the most body. It’s also the version that has convinced me to do a narrow-shoulder-adjustment next time. But I really will need to wait to make another one: I am on a shirt-making moratorium until I round out this handmade wardrobe of mine. Dresses! Bras! Pants! Shoes! Anything that uses a zipper! Let’s do it!

 

Project: Gingham Archer

Total Cost: $52

Fabric: $20

Pattern: $22 (Since I already own this pattern, I will remove the cost of it from the total cost of my wardrobe at the update).

Notions: $10

Time: 10 hours

Fit: Straight size 6, but I will definitely be doing a narrow-shoulder adjustment next time.

Techniques: Pattern-matching until my head hurt, burrito-roll shoulders, buttonholes, the alternate collar order.

 

Striped Archer Button-Up

April 2, 2017
Grainline Archer

Grainline ArcherGrainline ArcherGrainline ArcherGrainline ArcherGrainline Archer Grainline Archer I was supposed to be taking a break from button-up shirts and working on rounding out my handmade wardrobe. However, when I saw this fabric wedged waaaay in the back of the sale bin at my local chain fabric store (during an ill-fated attempt to find more bra fabric), I knew another one was in order. And then, I figured so long as I was going to be making one Archer Button-Up (from Grainline Studio), I might as well make two at the same time and use up some lovely fabric in my stash (post on the other one coming up next).

I wanted a really classic shirt, so I skipped the great butt-ruffle this time. I thought about doing a narrow-shoulder adjustment, but I wanted it to look slightly oversized and not as tailored, so I made a straight size 6. As this make required an extreme amount of pattern-matching, I decided to save myself at least one step and simply serge the edges of the fabric before sewing–although, it felt like cheating after all the French and flat-felled seams I’ve been doing.

I cut out the pattern pieces very, very carefully. Luckily, the stripe is 1/4 inch in width and there are 1/2 inch seam allowances, so that simplified things. I was able to plan ahead and ensure that there is no break in the pattern across the front of the shirt. I used the stripe, however, in a contrasting direction for the collar, that big ol’ pocket, the cuffs, and sleeve plackets.

This is probably one of my favourite makes of this project. Classic, made with care, and you would never know that it’s homemade! My other Archer has been getting a ton of wear, so I’m happy to have this one to add to the mix. Mother Nature was not keen on letting me get photos of this shirt. I try not to wear a garment before I take the pictures, but it was taking so long that eventually I gave up. When I put it on, I realized that I’d forgotten to put in the buttonholes on the sleeves! I’ll be adding them in, but I wear them rolled up so much I think some sleeve-tabs are also in order.

 

Project: Striped Archer Button-Up

Total Cost: $46

Fabric:$20

Total hours: 10 hours

Pattern: $22 (Since I already own this pattern, I will remove the cost of it from the total cost of my wardrobe at the update)

Notions:$4

Fit: No alternations. Straight size 6

Techniques: Buttonholes, so much pattern matching, and the alternate collar order

 

Sewaholic Oakridge Pussy Bow Blouse

March 12, 2017
Sewaholic Oakridge Blouse

Sewaholic Oakridge BlouseSewaholic Oakridge BlouseSewaholic Oakridge BlouseSewaholic Oakridge BlouseSewaholic Oakridge BlouseSewaholic Oakridge Blouse

I’m calling this my “Corporate Headshot Day Outfit.” It feels very Follow the Money, no?

For this make, I used a light weight stretch poplin from my fabric stash for the Sewaholic Oakridge Blouse. It’s crisp and I love the rich colour. I knew I wanted a larger statement bow, so I added two inches to the width and eight inches to the length. I wanted to up the drama, but also balance the proportions with my bust.

Sewaholic Patterns are (were?) made for pear-shaped bodies, so a full-bust-adjustment (1 inch) was in order. I was planning on adding width to the sleeves, but I was on a roll with my French seams and forgot to change the math.

The fit is better than it appears in the photos. I have found that this stretch fabric sticks to both my bra and the pant fabric. I don’t know if that’s due to fit, or just that it was -24C at the time of these photos. I have made a version of this shirt before (the one without the bow) in a plain cotton and I don’t get any excess fabric around the armpits on that one. It’s nothing extreme, but I’ll be interested to try this shirt on with a different – handmade – bra. (Insert all the prayer-hands and fingers-crossed emojis for that particular experiment).

Project: Oakridge Pussy Bow Blouse

Total Cost: $55

Fabric:$25

Pattern:$22

Notions: $8

Time: 10 hours.

Fit: Size 2 with a 1 inch FBA, super-sized the bow.

Techniques: French seams, internal sleeve plackets, buttonholes.

What to work on: Making a better bra! And some dresses, and some trousers. I’ve been on a shirt making streak, but I’ve got to stop procrastinating with them.

Tweedy Saunio Cardigan from Named Patterns

February 26, 2017
Saunio Cardigan

Saunio Cardigan   The February item for Project Sew My Style was the Saunio Cardigan from Named Patterns. I’ve thought about making this pattern several times, but it always got passed over for something more exciting. I think this is mainly due to the styling of the sample: I found it hard to visualize past their cabled version.

For my sweater, I decided to use this tweedy knit I had stashed away from Stylemaker Fabrics. I had originally intended it for a Driftless Cardigan, using the right side of the fabric, but, after playing around with both sides I decided I liked the wrong side more! I did want to see a bit of the original though, so I ended up using some of it for the facings. And of course, the more I played with the fabric, the more it unravelled, which I also liked. I sewed the pieces right-to-wrong sides, and left the seams exposed for added texture. I added a line of stitching along the bodice and the sleeves as a hem.

I have enough fabric left to make a belt if I decide I want one, but for now, I really like the boxy shape and the dropped shoulders. I started wearing the jacket before I was even completely finished making it and have gotten compliments each time. It’s filled a hole in my wardrobe quite nicely.

Project: Tweedy Saunio Cardigan

Total Cost $47.43

Fabric: $32.73 (CAD)

Pattern:$13 (CAD)

Notions:$2

Time: 4 hours

Fit Adjustments: None. Straight size S (EU size 32-36)

 

Full on Floral: Megan Nielsen Dove Blouse

February 22, 2017
Dove Blouse

I was all set to make the biggest bell-sleeve option of the Dove Blouse from Megan Nielsen until I saw what the pattern piece looked like. I could have used it as a template to make a shield – it was bigger than me! But after some online encouragement, I decided to go for it. After all, once I tire of the bells, I can always take them off and still have a great shirt. In that spirit, I also broke out this rayon from Cotton and Steel that I have been putting off using. I couldn’t find the right project for the fabric that would fit within my 2.5 metres. I cut very strategically (I had to piece together the neck facings), but I just eked it out, giant sleeves and all.

I wasn’t sure how the sleeves would look in the print, but I was happily surprised with the results! I feel like it’s going to be hard to have a bad day in this shirt. I made the XS, which was again an experiment and I’m glad I did. I find it too long, but I suspect this rayon will continue to shrink. The neckline is also lower than I would usually go and a bit much for the office. I’ll raise that next time. I used french seams where possible, and finished the bottom hem by hand. There are times when the neck rises up away from me (depending on how I stand), but I’m not sure what this means for the fit – it’s too long in the upper bodice? Needs an FBA?

I let the sleeves hang for a good day before I hemmed them as they are cut on the bias, but they didn’t stretch out too dramatically. However, one side stretched out more than the other. I have a vintage dress form and it is certainly drunken in stance, so perhaps that contributed. I also discovered the warm-climate nature of big bells: you try cramming that much material into coat sleeves!

Since this shirt is a little too low for the office, I’ll have to wear it out instead. Must be time for wine, no?

Project: Floral Dove Blouse by Megan Neilsen

Total Cost:$75

Fabric: $56

Pattern: $17 CAD

Notions:$2

Time: 10 hours, including PDF assembly

Techniques: French seams, French darts

Fit Adjustments: Straight size XS. I’ll need to shorten the length and raise the neckline next time.

 

 

Calling Spring: Archer Button-Up

February 10, 2017
Archer Button Up

Archer Button Up 

I had purchased this fabric intending to wait for warmer temperatures to make it, but judging by the amount of snow we just received, Spring is still very far away indeed. I decided to cheer myself up by diving into this woven from Andover fabrics (part of the Dream Weaves collection). It was very easy to work with, but, the right side and the wrong side of the fabric are nearly identical, so there were a few steps where I tripped myself up.

I made the 2nd variation of the Archer Button Up Shirt from Grainline Studio (AKA the Bum-Ruffle Shirt). This was my first Archer and it was easy to see why this is a mainstay for garment-sewers. It’s roomy and relaxed without looking like I stole my husband’s shirt and lends itself to endless customization. I opted not to use the breast pockets (they are a little too oversized and boob-tastic for me).

I made a size 6 and didn’t need any kind of a full-breast-adjustment – no pulling here! I used the burrito-roll technique for the shoulder seams and flat-felled others where I could, with mixed results. I found it difficult to flatten out the gathered seam allowance enough to create even seams around the shoulders. I did however, finally, remember to label my sleeves, so I actually put the correct sleeve on the appropriate side the first time around. I also followed the ever useful, alternate-collar-technique-tutorial from Four Square Walls for a hassle-free finish.

Project: Grainline Studio Archer Button Up

Total Cost: $81

Fabric:$50

Pattern: $21

Notions: $10

Time: 12 hours, including cutting out the pattern

Techniques: Flat-felled seams, sleeve plackets, burrito roll yokes

Fit: Straight size 6. I could use a narrow-shoulder adjustment next time.

What to work on: Ugh. Flat-felled seams with gathers.

 

 

Oslo Cardigan from Seamwork

February 6, 2017

Oslo CardiganOslo Cardigan Oslo Cardigan Oslo CardiganWhen Seamwork launched, I thought the articles were really interesting, but I wasn’t so sure about the patterns. I’ve been working to build my sewing skills beyond “quick and easy” projects, so I generally skipped over the designs. However, I kept seeing great versions of the Oslo Cardigan online and they always looked so comfortable and just like the kind of layer I like to have.

I downloaded the pattern and I’m happy to report that it is indeed great! As ever, I love how long the sleeves are. I made an extra small in a heathered green and black sweater knit from BlackBird Fabrics. It’s a different colour story of what I used for my DIY JCrew Linden. It’s so soft, but a bit more on the delicate side, so I omitted the buttons and buttonholes. The hem is finished with a twin needle (my machine played nicely this time). I’ve got my eye on a few other Seamwork patterns. I think I’ll use them like little palette cleansers in between more elaborate projects.

I’ve been sick all week and spent most of my time wrapped up in this sweater. Of course, now I want more of them. Next time with the buttons!

Project: Oslo Cardigan

Total Cost: $40.75

Pattern: $15.75 (CAD)

Fabric: $23

Notions: $2

Time: 2 hours, including PDF assembly

Fit Adjustments: None. Straight size XS.