Saturday, July 19, 2014

Galaxy-painted Anima Pants (with tutorial!)

What's this, heels and sweatpants?! A bit of a departure from my usual style, but for a good reason: Papercut Pattern's Anima Pant competition! Pushing me out of my comfort zone and into the Milky Way...

Now these pants aren't at all similar to my original sketch. And they're actually my second pair of Anima Pants. I made my first (full-length) pair out of white jersey and dip dyed it, hoping for a white-to-violet effect that I would then embellish with gold foil. Sounds nice, right? Unfortunately they turned out more of a grayish purple color, although they do have the color gradient I was going for. The color combined with the long length looks pretty frumpy on me, so they're in a time-out situation until I figure out how to jazz them up.

But I'm actually really glad Plan A didn't work out, because it pushed me to come up with an equally elaborate Plan B! I looked at fabric painting and dyeing tutorials online for inspiration, and I came across a couple galaxy-print shirt DIYs. "Galaxy painted Anima pants?" "Sure", I thought. "Why not?!" And the process was actually super fun, and turned out way better than I expected! ( I've included a tutorial and progress pics at the end of the post if you want to make a pair for yourself!)

I wanted to pair these pants with something simple that wouldn't cover the waistband: enter Nettie #4! The Nettie pattern has earned tried-and-true status in my book, and I knew I could make one up in just a couple hours. This is the scoop-neck, high-back, bodysuit version.

I bought this fabric during Girl Charlee's Fourth of July sale just because it was super cheap, but I ended up totally loving it! It's a soft and stretchy rayon blend (my fave) and the color's actually a really pretty orangey-red jewel tone, though it looks redder in the pictures.

The pant fabric is a medium-weight black jersey that I've had in my stash for a while. I only had one yard, and I was just barely able to fit the pattern pieces for the cropped length on it.

Since this was my second pair it came together really quickly. Overall the pattern and instructions are great, and I would definitely recommend this pattern! The only tricky part was the waistband. I had a lot of trouble doing the foldover method in the instructions, so for this pair I did my usual elastic insertion method where you sew a tube with an opening and thread the elastic through. This worked a lot better for me and this waistband is a lot neater than my first one. I did still have trouble with the buttonholes though. My machine does NOT want to make buttonholes on knit fabric. So they're not too pretty, but they'll do the job.

I didn't follow any one tutorial, but kind of amalgamated the information from a few different ones. The process was basically the same in all of them. Here's what I did:

Step 1: Put some bleach in a spray bottle, dilute it with water, and spray some galaxy clusters onto your pant pieces. I just used some bleach-based bathroom cleaner that was already in a spray bottle. The orange spots take a few seconds to show up, so don't spray too much all at once. You want to build up gradually. I let mine sit for about 30 minutes, and then washed them to stop the bleach from eating away at the fabric too much. Then I let them dry in the sun (which took about 5 minutes because it's so hot).

Step 2: Using a sponge, build up layers of purple, blue, and white fabric paint (in that order). These should also be built up gradually, as you can always go back and add more later. The color fades a little as it dries, so I went over each piece twice. There's no real method to this - just do whatever looks good to you! I concentrated the blue and purple around the outside of the orange clusters. This is what it looked like before I added white:

Step 3: Add stars by dipping a toothbrush in white paint and flicking it onto the pant pieces. You may want to practice this on a piece of scrap fabric first. In this picture you can see my finished back leg pieces with my bleached-only front pieces, as well as the sponge and toothbrush I used for painting.

Step 4: Let the paint dry overnight, and then sew up your garment as usual! I chose to leave my waistband, cuffs, and inner pocket black.

Let me know if you have any questions! And thanks for reading!

<3 Lindsay

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Elephant Seersucker Archer

Archer #4! And this one has the most modifications yet. I started out with the pattern I made for my last sleeveless Archer (made using this tutorial from Jen at Grainline Studio) and then did the v-neck alteration Andrea detailed on her blog. The tutorial worked like a charm, and I love this neckline!

Now let's talk about fabric. I have two words for you: seersucker and elephants. How could I resist?! I found this fabric at MissMatatabi (an Etsy store with an amazing selection of Japanese fabric) and I knew it had to be mine. I've been wanting a seersucker shirt to help deal with the long, hot summer for ages, but it's so hard to find seersucker fabrics that don't consist of pastel-y stripes and a "yachting at Cape Cod" vibe. I don't normally go for novelty prints, but I love that this one is so small scale that you don't really see the elephants from far away. I think that and the colors keep it from being too childish.

When I was almost done with this shirt I tried it on and realized the armholes gaped a lot. And the silhouette was really boxy. I didn't have this problem with my last Archer made using the same pattern, so I guess it was due to the fact that this fabric was stiffer than the shirting I used last time. I'd just finished bias binding the armholes and there was no way I was going to rip that out, so I pinched out the excess fabric from the armhole to the waistline, and just sewed new side seams. This actually worked pretty well! I also raised the hem a few inches.

The shorts I'm wearing came from an old pair of Lucky jeans that I bought on sale 7 years ago when I was in high school. I wore them out until they got super faded and a big hole on one knee, and they've been stowed away for years. Now they're a relic of the boot-cut and low-waist heydays, but I pulled them out yesterday and they still fit really well... So less than a minute and two swipes of the rotary cutter later I had a new pair of shorts!

Lucky jeans must be made well because all of the seams and the upper area still look great. No holes in unsightly places! And I'm pretty sure I wore these jeans literally hundreds of times. Sometimes it really is worth paying a little more for high quality, "made in the USA" products.

This fabric was the prize piece in my (admittedly small) stash, so I'm glad this shirt turned out as well as it did! The v-neck/collar stand neckline is one I'm definitely going to replicate in the future.

How's your summer sewing going? And do you know of anywhere else that sells unique seersucker fabric? I might be hooked...

<3 Lindsay

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Jamie Jeans

I made jeans! I feel kind of unstoppable now. This is the Jamie Jeans pattern by Named, an indie pattern company from Finland. I've seen lots of lovely versions of these around the blogosphere, but I'd held back from them myself due to a failed jeans-making experience last year (from a Burda pattern) and their spendy price tag. However, I knew in order get a step closer to my goal of a completely (or almost completely) handmade wardrobe I would need to make some jeans, because they're such a staple piece for me.

The Jamie jeans are a skinny jean with a mid-rise waist. What really attracted me to them are the unique details: the seam running down the front and the contrast pocket panels, which I love.

I intended for this pair to be a wearable muslin, and they turned out very wearable indeed! I used stretch denim (95% cotton, 5% spandex) from Jo-Ann that I got for 50% off, so I wouldn't be too upset if they didn't turn out. The denim is surprisingly nice (the bolt said it was made in Japan), but I don't think they're carrying it any longer - it was from their spring collection.

One nice thing about this pattern is that the pattern pieces are nested and there are different files for different sizes (only two sizes are contained in each file). I think this layout is really clever and ends up saving a lot of paper. The only piece I ended up having to trace was the waistband.

I was really happy with how well these fit straight from the pattern. I pinched out about an inch of fabric from center back for a swayback adjustment (the same adjustment I always make to my Maritime shorts) and shortened the legs by about two inches. I shortened them after the jeans were already made, rather than shortening the pattern pieces themselves, so the calf area is a big bigger than it would otherwise be. I think this is for the best however, as I've read in other reviews that the calves are kind of tight, and I wouldn't want them to be any tighter than they are here.

The construction was fairly straight-forward, and the instructions seemed to be geared toward an intermediate level sewist. I referred to this photo guide a couple times to make sure I was doing everything right.

I did have some trouble installing the fly zip. Somehow it ended up not being set in deeply enough and the zipper teeth were visible. I fixed it by stitching the zipper directly to the top side of the pants, which luckily blends in pretty well because of the darkness of the pants and the thread color. I think I just didn't mark my notches well enough, but I also should have referred to Grainline's fly zip tutorial as I was making these because the flys on my Maritime shorts look a lot better than this one.

One problem area I've noticed is the bagginess/wrinkles around the crotch and upper thigh area (see picture above). Does anyone have any idea what causes this and how to fix it? Is it something to do with crotch length/depth? I'm pretty much a novice when it comes to pants fitting, so any help would be much appreciated!

Overall I'm pretty happy with these, though I definitely want to work on improving the fit in my next pair. I'm just glad to dispel the lingering doubt I had about jeans-making - now I know I'll be able to make it work!

<3 Lindsay

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Experiments in Pattern Drafting

Recently I've been experimenting with pattern drafting for knits. I created a sloper using a well-worn and well-loved old t-shirt as reference. For the first test of my new sloper I used this super soft and drape-y fabric from Girl Charlee and hoped for the best.

And it fit, yay! I sewed it with my serger and finished the neckline and sleeves with bands (set in flat, because it's way easier than in the round). This shirt is so comfortable.

Because the fabric I used in my first shirt had a lot of stretch I was curious to see how the same pattern would work with a more stable knit. This pink fabric, also from Girl Charlee, is a bit thicker and doesn't have nearly as much stretch as fabric #1. It ended up being a bit more snug, but definitely still comfortable.

For this persimmon striped fabric (also from Girl Charlee) I had envisioned a Breton-style tee with a boatneck. I altered the neckline by comparing it to my last two shirts and raising it accordingly.

I also wanted to try something different with the sleeves, so I drafted tulip sleeves with the help of this tutorial by Dixie DIY. It was a bit confusing, but I figured it out in the end! I'm pretty happy with how they look, but I wish I had finished the edges with bands rather than just turning under and stitching. As they are, they're kind of floppy.

That stripe matching at the shoulder seam was just a lucky coincidence!

This last garment is the biggest departure from my original sloper. I saw a similar crossover back woven shirt online and wanted to see if I could recreate it. First I doubled my back pattern piece (because it was on the fold) and then I drew two curves going from the left shoulder to the right side, keeping the shoulder and side seams their original length. I cut two of these pieces and sewed the shirt as usual, just making extra sure that everything was overlapping properly.

This knit (once again from Girl Charlee - are you noticing a pattern here?) is very lightweight and has a great drape.

The neckline is the same as the first two shirts, but it falls a bit lower, which I'm guessing is because there are no sleeves to help hold it up. So on my next version I'll raise the neckline by an inch or two. I may also make the straps a bit wider in the back.

While making this pattern I made sure that I would still be able to wear a normal bra with it. The dip in the back ends right above my bra strap.

This tank works great as an everyday top for summer, but I think this pattern could also be used for activewear or to create a dressier top for evening.

With all the overlapping, I wasn't sure how to finish the edges of this tank until I realized it was actually all one continuous line. So I measured the curve all the way around and it came to something like 130 inches. I cut three long strips of fabric, sewed them together to make one very long strip, and attached it by stretching and serging. I didn't bother with basting.

I left a couple inches of the strip hanging off at the start so I could serge the two ends together at the end, rather than having to come up an exact length for the strip. Happily that worked really well and all the edges are finished! My husband was fascinated that it was all one continuous line, so he put together this gif to visualize it better. Pretty neat, huh!?

I've really been enjoying drafting my own patterns, so expect to see more experiments soon! I also have some Jamie Jeans and Anima pants in the works.

Have you tried drafting your own patterns?

<3 Lindsay

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Q & A

Since I've been double nominated for a Liebster Award by C of Oh, She Dabbles and Zoe of Fozzel and Bean (both really lovely blogs that I highly recommend checking out), I figured I better go ahead and do it! The Liebster is something of a chain letter among blogs, except instead of the threat of your crush never liking you back if you don't pass it along (the horror!), we get to spread the word about other lovely bloggers! It's not really an award, but rather an opportunity to interview the creators of your favorite small blogs (under 200 followers).

So, first up are the questions presented to me by C of Oh, She Dabbles:
1. Why do you sew and when did you start?
Lots of reasons! Because I love creating, because I hate clothes shopping, because the fit and customization options of self-made clothes are infinitely superior to store-bought, because it's (sometimes) cheaper, because it's empowering, because I love to share with and be inspired by other sewists.

I learned how sew in 2012 when I was living in Portland, OR. I took an introductory class and quickly became hooked. Since then I've been self-taught.

2. How do you get yourself out of a sewing rut?
I don't think I've even been in one! I sew almost every day and I always have in mind plenty of new projects to make.

3. What’s your favorite make that you made for someone else?
Definitely one of the button-up shirts I've made for my husband. Probably the Lonesome Dove shirt because of its unique details.

4. Where do you get your inspiration?
From my fellow sewing bloggers mainly! Instagram, Bloglovin, Kollabora, Pinterest... Sometimes from ready-to-wear garments or from the fabric itself.

5. What do you do if you get stuck in your making?
If I get frustrated I always take a break, otherwise I end up just making the problem worse. I can usually figure it out if I look at it with fresh eyes. A bit of googling always helps as well!

6. Are you a planner or do you just wing it?
I rarely buy a fabric unless I have a good idea of what I want to make with it. I have a list and sketchbook of future makes, so I'd say I'm probably a planner ;)

7. What’s your favorite fabric to sew with (or yarn to knit with)?
I love rayon challis. Knits are also great because they're so quick to sew and easy to fit.

8. What do you do for fun besides making beautiful things?
My husband and I are both longtime vegetarians, and we really enjoy cooking and coming up with simple, healthy recipes. We also read a lot and do crosswords. We haven't owned a TV in years, but we'll occasionally watch a show online. We've been attempting to grow herbs and vegetables in a container garden on our deck, with mixed results so far! And I've gotten really into pilates lately.

9. Why did you start blogging?
I started out by just posting my projects on BurdaStyle. I guess I eventually got frustrated with their site's technical problems and lack of customization options. I was also happening upon other peoples' sewing blogs more and more and thinking about carving out a little space of my own. Once I started blogging I found my sense of community with other sewists grew dramatically! I'm so glad to be a part of this amazing, supportive community!

10. If you were an animal (other than a human), what animal would you be?
Are nudibranchs animals? Whatever they are, they're pretty rad.

And now the questions from Zoe of Fozzel & Bean:

1. What is your favourite handmade garment to date?
Tough question! Lately I've been wearing my pinstripe sleeveless Archer all the time, so I guess I'll go with that!

2. Do you have a favourite pattern? What is it?
I think I'd have to go with the Archer pattern from Grainline Studios. I've made three very different versions of it so far and I love all of them!

3. Why did you start blogging?
See #9 above!

4. What was the first sewing blog you ever read?
The first clothing I ever made was a knit maxi dress that I dyed coral and hand-sewed. The tutorial was from Sweet Verbena (who no longer seems to blog), and that's the first sewing blog I remember seeing. I think I found it via Pinterest. That dress wasn't very flattering on me and it eventually became a lace-trimmed scoop back shirt and a pair of Rosy Ladyshorts!

5. If time and money were no obstacle, what would be your ultimate sewing project?
Ooh, that's a hard one. There's not really one big thing that I want to sew. Even my wedding dress was pretty simple. I guess I would interpret "project" in a larger sense, and say that I would like my entire wardrobe to be handmade. And if money were no obstacle, I would use all the finest fabrics, like linen and silk.

Like C and Zoe I went by Bloglovin numbers for my nominations, which are:

Maike of Sew & Illustrate - I love the illustrations Maike does to go along with her projects!

Lauren of  Lady Sewalot - Lauren's only 17, but she's already such a talented seamstress!

Rebecca of Everyday Notions - I love Rebecca's style, and I would totally wear everything she's made so far!

Annabella of Bellbird - For a new blogger, Annabella already has a ton of gorgeous makes!

And my questions for them are:
1. Why did you start blogging?
2. What's one sewing fear that you've overcome (knits, zippers, etc.)?
3. What type of garment is your favorite to sew? Is it also your favorite type of garment to wear?
4. Do you prefer sewing with indie patterns or traditional patterns?
5. If you could travel anywhere in the world where would you go?

Please don't feel any pressure to participate if you don't want to! And thanks for sticking with me through this long and picture-less post!

<3 Lindsay

Friday, June 20, 2014

Nettie Sewalong Voting!

Voting is now open in the Nettie sewalong! I've entered my backless Nettie dress that I made last month. Voting is through facebook, and just requires a simple like (no sign-ups, etc.). If you feel like voting for me I would so appreciate it! Thank you!

<3 Lindsay

Monday, June 16, 2014

Double Cloth Chambray

Last February my husband tagged along with me during the Austin Fabric Shop Hop and picked out a couple fabrics for shirts. I made him one out of the sage-colored chambray he chose in March, and now I've finally gotten around to making this one, out of Robert Kaufman double cloth. I bought my fabric from Form & Fabric, but it seems they no longer carry it. It's also available at in a variety of colorways, though I always recommend trying to find it locally first.

The fabric itself is really interesting - the front side and back side are actually two different fabrics that are lightly connected together. It's very soft and has an open weave so it's not too heavy for summer. However, the open weave also means it frays like crazy, so you'll definitely want to serge the seam allowances. Even so, I ended up with tons of little threads all over the floor.

I used my tried and true BurdaStyle pattern from their Sewing Vintage Modern book. The only alterations I made were slimming down the collar and drafting my own pocket. I also used the "wrong" side of the fabric on the inner collar stand and right button placket. And I folded down the top of the pocket for a bit of a pop. We experimented with rolling up the sleeves to show the checkered side, but it ended up looking a bit too, er... flamboyant. Subtle is best, I think.

 I know menswear doesn't get a lot of love in the sewing blogger community, but I really enjoy how all of the details and finishing touches become important when you're dealing with such a prescribed silhouette.

Of course I'm also lucky in that my husband is interested in all these little details too, and appreciates the time and effort that goes into making a garment. I can definitely understand not wanting to sew for someone (husband, father, brother, whoever) if they don't really care about clothing. After all, you know for certain that you'll appreciate the things you make for yourself!

So have you sewn any menswear lately? I'd love to see it. Feel free to leave me a link to your project in the comments!

<3 Lindsay