samedi 2 mai 2015

Finished Project: Watson Bra and pantie set

I made a bra! I know a lot of sewists out there had the same realization after completing the watson, and like everyone else, I was pretty proud of myself!
Bra-making and fitting is a whole other ball game, and I had been itching to give it a try for a while. I had a total impulse-purchase moment when Caroline of Blackbird Fabrics posted photos of her latest Watson kits on instagram, and with that I was on the bra-making train!

I completed my Watson a while ago, but I didn't make the rest of the set until more recently.
This was a great pattern to start with. I had to do some alterations, but overall I figured out the fitting fairly easily. The bra is easy to assemble, it's mostly a lot of elastic-sewing. 
I'm pretty happy with my overall finishes.

I had plenty of lilac mesh left to make a couple of panties to make a complete set. First I made the Watson bikini. I used the size small, although I could probably have one up one size - or maybe I pulled a bit too much on the elastic when sewing it. Anyways, it's on the tight side, but not uncomfortable, so I guess it's fine.

The other one is the Cheeky Panty pattern (free) by Debi of So Sew-Easy. It's meant for lace but I decided to give it a try anyways, and add elastic to the openning as for the Watson bikini. I had to buy additional elastic for this one, and went with a similar peach contrasting color as the bra's straps. Since I added elastic, I also added seam allowances to the openings, which are normaly meant to line up with the lace border (i.e no hem).

Debi's pattern was super easy to put together. There was a bit of a gap on the bum when I first tried is on, but I ended up cutting the leg holes shorter so they reached more mid-bum cheek, and that took care of it. I would probably raise the waist line a smidge on my next go, but overall i'm pretty pleased with the result, it's comfortable to wear and doesn't show underneath fitted skirts or dresses.

So with that I have a full lingerie set! I definitely won't stop there and I'm already looking into more complex bras with chaneling and padded cups.

vendredi 3 avril 2015

Finished Project: Peplum Top Knock-Off

Spring's here! (well, on paper anyway). I've been holding on to this post for a while because it felt so out of season until now. Truth is, this top has been finished since last fall, but I didn't take photos of it until a couple months ago, and I had more winter-ish projects I wanted to blog about first.

I fell in love with this Tibi top when I first saw it on the Glamourai's blog. I decided in the back of my mind that I would knock it off somehow. When I found the flowery cotton fabric at Dressew, I thought about the top right away and decided to go for it.

The original Tibi top has black trim going down the front and back, from neckline to waist. It doesn't seem to have any visible bust shaping, so I assumed the trim was covering all the shaping.

Rather than trying to rotate darts on a simple bodice block (which might have been easier, but who knows), I went on the search for a top pattern that would already have shaping at the neckline. Eventually, I landed on Burda pattern 121, from August 2012. It included darts at the waist, and pleats at the neckline, both of which could be turned into one princess-type seam. 

I did quite a bit of pattern hacking with this:

-Attached the shoulder yokes to the main bodice.
-turned the neckline pleats into darts
-rotated new neckline dart and waist dart slightly, so they would align more
-split front bodice in half lengthwise by turning darts into a princess type seam

I also made my usual set of adjustments:
-lengthenned bodice 2.5 cm
-added shoulder dart to avoid armhole gaping
-forward shoulder adjustement
-added an additional 1.5 cm to back harmole, this I think due to the style of the pattern and how far in the sleeves seemed to attach.
I didn't add any "princess" seam to the back, instead I just added the trim on top of the dart and continued it to the neckline.


After the first muslin, I noticed some gaping in the front armhole, and extra fabric accross the bust. I just pinned the excess and it seemed to work. I slashed the pattern from armhole to apex at an angle and overlapped the top and bottom about 2cm. On the center panel, I overlapped the same amount parallel to the hemline. I basically made a variation of a small bust adjustment to a princess seam, but reducing the armhole size at the same time.

That's quite a bit of pattern tweaking, but I don't remember it being that tedious, in the end I think muslin #2 was good, and I was able to go on to the fashion fabric pretty soon after.

But first I had to figure out the skirt portion. Looking closely at the original, I noticed that the peplum was pleated, with the folds lining up with the front and back trim, as well as the side seams. After a couple of tries, I finally figured that I needed a half-circle shape so it would have the right amount of volume (but not too much).
I started by measuring my waist (71cm)
From there, I determined that I wanted to add 6 pleats of 5 cm each once folded, so 10 cm unfolded, so 60cm of additional length. Total =131 cm at the waist.
I then used this fancy calculator to figure out the radius and other dimensions I needed.

I obviously didn't have any markings so putting the pleats together properly took a bit of fiddling, but in the end I managed to get what I wanted, with everything lining up nicely

The bodice and the skirt are both lined with cotton broadcloth. The lining of the skirt part was first sewed to the main fabric at the hem, then folded under and attached to the bottom of the bodice (main fabric & lining) with top stitching. the black trim around the waist covers the top stitching.


I'm really hapy with how this turned out. The fabric isn't as graphic as the original top, but it still looks pretty colorful. When I first cut the fabric, I spent some time trying to figure out how to line things up. I ended up lining the pattern somewhat in the back. In the front, I wasn't happy with the flower placement on one of the side panels, so I decided to forget about lining up the flower pattern (the trim creates a beak anyway), and recut that panel to get better flower placement.

If I'm completely honnest, this is definitely an "icing" piece. I don't wear a lot of sleeveless tops at work, because of AC and also I don't love showing my skinny shoulders and upper arm, at work anyways. So i don't know how often I'll be wearing this, but regardless, I'm glad I made it, it was a very interesting pattern-experimentation type of project, and I'm quite proud of the finished garment...I might even leave it out on display on a hanger somewhere, I'd be fine with that.

I've finished quite a few projects lately, but haven't been able to take photos. In the meantime I've been trying to switch my sewing queue from winter to spring. I bought two more issues of Burda (because I needed more to pile up :P ), and I've already set my eyes on this particular dress, and maybe the cute summer raincoat from the "easy-2015" issue.

mercredi 25 mars 2015

Knitting: A Sweater for My Man

Back in the fall, I decided I would make a cardigan for Brice. I had actually never made anything for him (the two camera straps made out of remnant cotton tape don't count). Brice's daily uniform is a fitted black t-shirt and jeans. He 's always warm, even in winter. I would't even try knitting him a scarf because he wouldn't wear it, and he prefers hats with a brim, which I don't really know how to make. But when I saw this pattern, I knew it would be perfect for him.

The pattern is Slade by Michelle Wang, It's included in the BT Men pattern book by Brooklyn Tweed, but I purchased it on its own on Ravelry.
For yarn I used Berroco Ultra Alapaca, in Charcoal Mix (Brice picked the color himself). It's a really soft and warm yarn and a pretty affordable.

The sweater is knit in pieces and seamed together at the end. Based on Brice's chest measurements, I made the second smallest size. My only adjustment was to make the sleeves narrower and longer. I probably could have made it one size bigger, although B doesn't like garments that are too loose...

This is probably the most complex sweater I've knitted in terms of construction. My previous sweaters and some intricate stitches, but construction wise were pretty simple. This one had a tubular cast on on each pieces, stitches to pick up all along the front, a collar band and button holes. I got quite confused by the buttonhole process actually, and couldn't quite make sense of the instructions so I did a bit of googling and eventually figured it out. The whole thing took me about 2 1/2 months, which isn't that bad considering!

When Brice first tried on the sweater, I was actually a bit disappointed. The sleeves were a bit too long and tight (so much for my adjustements), the armholess were also too small, the overall length was too short in my opinion, and the band for the shawl collar was bound off too tight, with the front corners being pulled up. The only thing I could correct at that point was the collar, so I undid the bind off of the entire collar band, and used this technique for a stretchier bind-off. It worked really well.


Brice was thrilled with his sweater though and didn't seem to mind any of the flaws I was seeing. He's been wearing it  non-stop since I finished it. The sleeves have actually loosened up a bit so they're not as tight as they used to be. I think the sweater might have lenghtenned a tiny bit too, from hanging on the body, The only thing that won't change of course is the size of the armhole. You can tell that it makes the shoulders too short as well, and the collar doesn't really fold into the "shawl" style, but it lays flat on his shoulders, which I'm ok with.

Overall after my initial disappointment, I'm actually happy with the result. I think I started off with a certain idea of what I wanted the sweater to be, and when it didn't turn out prefectly like I imagined, I had a moment of doubt. I've definitely come around (even if some things still bother me a bit).

On Saturday Brice went for brunch with his running group. He wore the sweater and they all complimented him on it. Later on that night, we saw his friends again at a party (I was meeting most of them for the first time) and all of them individually said "You made Brice's sweater!"right after we got introduced. Goes to show how criticizing we can be with our own work, but in the end, it's nice to take a step away from the flaws and appreciate the finished product as a whole.

For the photos we went to one of our favorite spots for easy week-end strolls, and for once I was the photographer and he was the model...That was a lot of fun.

dimanche 15 mars 2015

Fitting: Adjusting the Watson Bra Pattern

As I mentionned in my previous post, I made 2 muslins of the Watson Bra last week. The first one, the suggested size based on my measurements, was way too small. For the second one I cut the size matching my RTW size. The band was good, but the cups were still not fitting right.

Today I took muslin #2 and tried it on again, this time with makeshift straps. It confirmed what I had noticed before: If I shifted the bra slightly to one side, the cup fit actually ok.

While wearing it, I had traced on the bra where the base of the cup should hit. So I took the cups out, and repositionned them slightly more apart (about 1cm -3/8" more towards the sides). It created a gap in the middle, but it actually worked!

To close the gap, all I had to do was add 1cm (3/8") to the inner side of the cup, tapering to nothing at the top.
As I was fitting my adjusted muslin, I also pinned out about 1cm of fabric at the cup seam, so I removed .6 cm (1/4") from the seam on both pieces. Since I removed the extra along the entire seam, I added it back to the outer sides so that the cup would still be the same width at the base and at the top.

Picture above: added .6 cm on outer side seam of piece A, and added a total of 1.5 cm (5/8") at the base of piece B, reduced to .6cm at the top.

On the cradle piece, I extended the curve width by about 1cm on the side, tapering to nothing at the notch. Since I'd moved the cup to the side, I adjusted the notch to match the cup seam.

My final adjustment was to add .6cm (1/4") to the band depth. I did this because the hook and eye piece that came as part of the kit are about 1cm (3/8") wider than the band (once allowances are folded). I figure with the elastic trim, it will fill the remaining .4cm difference.

After I made the changes to the pattern, I adjusted the cradle on muslin #2 to match my new pattern piece, and recut new cups.
So this is muslin 2 1/2, which fits pretty darn good!

That's it for my adjustements! I was quite please that the alterations turned out to be pretty simple. In hindsight, I probably could have just added the extra width on the outer side of the cups, rather than the middle, but it seems like the seam is hitting in the right place, so in the end it probably doesn't matter. Can't wait to get the final version done!

jeudi 12 mars 2015

WIP: (Recently and currently) on my sewing table

I opened an instagram account back in November when Sewvember was happening. Since then I've been posting photos of my work in progress projects. Until I get around to taking proper photos of the finished items, I thought I'd do a quick round up of the recent photos and elaborate a bit more on what's been recently & is currently on my sewing table...(please excuse the instagram-cellphone-lowlight qulity photos)

I've always wanted a nice pair of comfy pajama pants. I found the flanel-like fabric in the sale corner at Dressew and couldn't resist. I figured I should do a top as well and actually found some jersey knit I had in my stash. I actually remember purchasing the jersey a few years ago because it reminded me of favorite pair of pajamas growing up.

The pattern for the pants is 127 from BWOF December 2007. Since I had enough fabric, I decided to knock out a pair of pajama shorts, also from the same pattern.


For the top, I would have used the Renfrew pattern, but I couldn't find my copy. I've either stashed it away in my storage space downstairs, or it has unfortunately been thrown away with a bag of scraps, along with most of my sewing machine accessories...:(
So instead, I downloaded the free "Tonic 2" pattern, by Skinny Bitch Curvy Chic.

A little while ago, my friend gave me this loose jersey dress, made of a really soft, nude coloured knit fabric. The shape of the dress wasn't quite right for me, but I figured I could transform it into something else. I wanted to make a camisole. I have a couple of RTW one, and they are really great for wearing under tunics and blouses, for that added layer of warmth in the winter/fall. I used pattern 128 from the same issue of Burda as the pajama pants.

For this project, I tried for the first time the stretch stitches on my sewing machine. The one I used for the hem is a decorative stitch that can be used instead of twin needles (the extra spool holder that came with my machine, to hold the second spool when using twin needles...also gone with the bag of scraps...)

Random refashioning
I'd purchased this home-made skirt at Value Village a couple of years ago. I love finding home-made items as I feel they are so much more special than RTW. The skirt was midi-length, and I wore it that way for a while, but I didn't love it. Finally last Sunday night, I decided to chop 20cm off the bottom and re-hem it knee-length. Thankfully by then I had received replacement for my overlocking and blind hem feet (which also happened to be part of the scrap bag tragedy) I used both to finish the edge and re-hem the skirt to its new length...

I have a couple more "RTW" projects on my queue, a shirt to take in, a lining to shorten, that sort of thing...Althought those projects may not feel very exciting, I have come to appreciate the "instant gratification" that comes with them and I see them as a good way to get some sort of sewing done when time is limited.

Watson Bra
I have been lurking at this pattern for a while now. I'm not one to jump on every new indie pattern that comes out of the blogosphere (how many boxy/loose knit tops patterns do I really need?), but I was immediately attracted to this soft, casual bra, perfect for week-end wear. When Caroline at Black Bird Fabrics (Yeah, Vancouver sewing scene!) came out with her most recent bra kits, it was the perfect excuse for some impulse online shopping.

Since then, I've made two muslins (one from the suggested size based on my measurements, and the other from the size that I usually buy for RTW bras). None of them have turned out satisfactory, and I sense a bit of fitting challenges in the future of this bra....

At least I'm having fun with muslin color-blocking...

Speaking of boxy/loose jersey tops ...
A while back I cut the pieces for pattern 128, from BWOF December 2013. After putting the body together, it sat unfinished for weeks as I was waiting for that second-spool holder (to use with my twin needles) to arrive...until tonight when I realized didn't need the twin needle to attach the sleeve bottoms, and since I didn't have enough brain power or motivation to knock out a third Watson bra muslin(let alone figure out fitting), I put this one back on the sewing table...

So that's it for my round up. I haven't blogged much but I sure have been sewing! I don't know yet what will be next, another knit top, a pair of pants, or should I start looking into summer projects?

mardi 17 février 2015

Finished Project: Snöflinga Hat

Another knit project! 
I knitted this hat no less than 3 times. And y that I don't mean I made three versions, but I undid it twice and remade it twice.

The pattern is the Snöflinga Hat by Jenny Gordy. I don't remember what caught my eye in this pattern,  I think it was the simplicity of it, and yet it had some interesting detail, simply created by contrast between knit rows and purl rows, and one row of bobbles. I made it with the suggested yarn: one skein of Brooklyn Tweed Shelter in colorway Woodsmoke. It's a great pattern to make with this yarn. It was a super fast knit, just a few hours really. I had never made bobbles before, but they are surprisingly easy. 

So the first time I made it, I felt it was too big. Although a few friends said they though it was fine, I decided to unravel it and make it with a smaller needle size, and less row. I liked the result even less than the first time, so I unravelled a second time and made it again, back in the original size. Somehow it turned out better and I actually really like it now. I have to say, that's the beauty of knitting vs. sewing: if you don't like the result, you can start over, nothing is wasted.

I like to wear this hat indoor actually, perfect for bad hair day, and it looks great with a more casual outfit.

Man, that's a lot of my face in this post :P