Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Summer sewing dreams #1, #2, and #4 realized

Hey!  So I just finished watching the finale of season 4 the GBSB and I cried, which really took me by surprise!!

So it is summer here in NJ, glorious sunny fantastic summer. Spring and summer are my favorite seasons and I hang on to them with all my might.  I eat outside as much as possible, sometimes staying outside til dark, looking at IG periodically while the sun sets.

Near the start of June I made a list of "summer sewing dreams".  I know there are people who sew with a plan or sew to make coordinated items.  I'm just not one of those people.  I sew what I like pretty much when I feel like it.  I'm also slow at sewing.  And sewing is supposed to be fun, not my own personal sweatshop.  So calling these ideas "plans" feels like setting myself up for disappointment, whereas calling these ideas "dreams" seems more appropriate somehow.  I make these kinds of lists frequently.  I like seeing all my "dreams" in front of me.
And somehow, sewing dreams 1, 2 and 4 happen to coordinate with each other (sewing dream #3 was the cherry print dress in my last post).
Sewing dream #1 is the Jalie 3246 shrug.  I wrote a big post last December with tips on how to sew this shrug.  After sewing for PR weekend, I took a 3.5 week long sewing break, and sewing the shrug seemed like a nice way to transition back to sewing.  The fabric is a delightfully textured cotton sweater knit from my fabric dealer Kashi (Metro Textiles) in NYC last year.  I bought 2 yards and I'm glad I did because it is not wide fabric at all!  Normally a yard is enough to make a shrug but not in this fabric.
Sewing dream #2 is the gray skirt.  It's actually Vogue 1247, which I sewed back in 2011 in the same fabric, but this time I omitted the pockets and the horizontal seaming across the front and back of the skirt, which gives a rather lumpy appearance in this spongy fabric.
This fabric is from Jomar in Philly and was purchased during PR weekend in 2010!  I have been wanting to sew this basic for ages, and needed to sew it to get it off my mind.
Sewing dream #4 is the lacy yoke top. This shot up to the top of my list when I saw the same lacy colorblocking on IG that rosiejanesews made.  I really liked Simplicity 8016 when it was released but did not want to do any new fitting, so I took S1283 (the pattern I used when I sewed a sweater from a cotton knit blanket) and cut it so that it had a yoke and a lower neckline.  The neckline and armholes are bound in Nike Dri-Fit then twin needle stitched from the top, and the hem is a rolled hem on my serger since I didn't lengthen the top enough.

 The raspberry stretch lace is from Apple Annies online (2015) and is underlined with raspberry double knit from Michael Levine (2013).  The gray bottom piece is from some gray double  knit from who-knows-where-or-when.  The fit was waaay better in my chunky cotton sweater knit than it is in all this ponte, but it still makes me smile.

I originally sewed a piece of this lace into a tank top for the gym last year.  The raspberry stretch lace will make another appearance in a different incarnation here soon, so stay tuned!

So how about you?  Are you living the (summer sewing) dream? Did you watch the GBSB??  Did you cry??

Be well!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Deer and Doe Reglisse Dress

When I saw Deepika wearing the Deer and Doe Reglisse Dress at PR weekend, I totally wanted her dress. Since I was pretty sure she wouldn't give me hers, I came home from PR weekend, bought the paper pattern from the Deer and Doe website and bought the fabric from Fabric.com.
Does this random truck match my dress?
Reglisse means "licorice" in French (and la robe is dress).

This is a pattern I never would have purchased based on the line drawing alone.  It looks too young for me and too sweet in this line drawing.
The Fabric
This rayon fabric is Cotton and Steel Fruit Dots in the navy blue and red colorway.   The pattern calls for 3.25 yards of 60" wide fabric.  The fabric is 45" wide and I wound up buying 5 yards in 3 yard and 2 yard increments because I didn't realize when I first bought it that it wasn't 60" wide.  This proved to be a wise decision because I was able to use the actual fabric for my muslin of the bodice.  I have nothing in my stash quite like this rayon so it was great to use the real fabric for the muslin.

When I prewashed and dried a 4" square sample of this fabric, it frayed like crazy!!! So I serged the cut edges of the fabric when I prewashed and dried the real deal.  (I never dry my dresses in the dryer--I air dry instead--but occasionally something will slip through so best to have preshrunk the fabric).

Deepika's PR review mentioned that this fabric really picks up shine marks from the iron so I only used my Elna Press on a low setting with a press cloth and did not use any water.  No shine marks.

The muslin
I came back from my day trip to NYC on Friday night totally raring to go with the muslin!  So that night I cut out a straight 40 bodice as the 38 bodice would be too small for my bust.  I basted it all together and found, as Deepika did, that the neckline was way too deep. I also felt the neckline was also too wide and the armholes were too deep.
Lots of chest on display

Saturday morning I made the adjustments to the pattern pieces.
Raised the neckline "point" 2.5 inches, added 1" to the neckline and shoulder yoke edges  grading to that point, and added 1" at the armhole.  Also I should note that Deer and Doe are drafted for a C cup and I am more of an A/B cup but I didn't try small bust adjusting it.  The blousey nature of this dress didn't make a difference.
The back, the front, and the shoulder yoke.  The front and back are cut on the bias.

The dress
I cut a 40 in the waist and skirt as well (even though my waist and hips are more like the 42 on their chart) because the waistband, before adding elastic, is 36" and the skirt is incredibly full.

I made intensive effort to avoid a cherry on my bust apex.  :)

I did the burrito method on the shoulder yoke as per another PR review to make a clean finish and also to provide some more stability in this area.  (the shoulder yoke is gathered in front--a nice touch!)
Do not do not do not try to go rogue and partially burrito the waistband as I did going for another really clean finish--I wound up undoing this because it means that 4 layers of fabric are on your waist plus the elastic.  I undid the waistband to unburrito it, and also wound up making wider seam allowances there so that the waistband would be closer to my actual waistline.
Partially burritoed--do not do that!
Use the thinnest elastic you have--originally I put some thick stash elastic in there and the whole thing looked lumpy.  I took it out and used Pamela's elastic, which is thin, and cut it down to .75" wide (instead of the recommended 1") and the effect is much better.  I also left a bit of extra length in the elastic with the intent of letting out the elastic if it felt too tight or restrictive--I wound up tightening it so that it doesn't sag in the waist.

Knot vs bow
It is supposed to be worn in a bow but I am really more a knot person.

Piecing the skirt together

Inside out and pieced together.
The skirt is really wide (wider than 45") and I wound up having to piece the skirt together in the lower corners at the end.  That area is somewhat puckery from the outside and I wish I had redone it to please my perfectionist side.
The hem
I had read Deepika's review that the dress is short and she lengthened 4".  When I held the pattern up to my body, I felt it didn't need 4", so I cut it out to the longest pattern length (size 46) which was only about 1.5" longer than the size 40 that I used for the rest of the pattern.  This wound up being exactly the perfect length for me so I used the rolled hem feature on my serger to hem it (to preserve length) and I think it looks really good, especially in this drapey rayon fabric!  I turned the DF down to .6 for most of the hem so that it would be flat and pressed with my Elna Press.

Rolled hem on my serger

I finished most of the dress by Sunday night except the hem.  Hemmed it Monday night and wore it to work on Tuesday. Got lots of nice compliments.  It really is a fun and floaty dress to wear, and it's really effortless dressing.  The fabric feels so soft and smooth.  I just love it!
Full skirt
Back after sitting in it briefly--the rayon wrinkles up
Obligatory twirling shot
Deepika was right; the bust darts are too high, but they didn't seem high in the muslin

Be well!

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Fitting the Jalie Eleonore 3461 to my pear shape

After wearing all day.

Let's talk about the Jalie Eleonores.  They are pull-on stretch jeans with a faux front fly and faux front pockets.  Over the last few months they have become uber-popular among sewing bloggers.

I was a bit skeptical as the cover model seems to be more of a rectangle shape.  I am a pear with a 10" difference between my waist and hips.
It was suggested that PR weekend attendees wear red jeans for the shopping day.  The recommended pattern?  The Jalie Eleonores.

Morning photo shoot, wrinkles and all!
  • Then Clio (of Five Muses) blogged about how, by essentially using ponte knit with 50% stretch and by taking a wedge out of the CB yoke, she was able to get the Eleonores to work for her pear shaped body.
  • Dawn (of Two On Two Off), an hourglass, also blogged about these and included a tip about cutting the back elastic shorter to get a snugger fit.

So, on May 7 I decided I would start making these jeans to be worn on May 14 (and to fly with me on May 12).

I am an incredibly slow seamster compared to many other sewing bloggers.  I'm also a perfectionist, so I knew with this short time frame I'd have to speed my sewing up AND allow "good enough" to be, well, good enough.
After wearing all day

  • Located 4 matching spools of dark red thread in my stash
  • Located 4 serger cones of burgundy thread in my stash
  • Wound 2 bobbins at the start.
  • Threaded my BL Soprano with single denim needle 
  • Threaded my Brother PC-420 with a twin stretch needle for topstitching (this brilliant idea of using a twin needle for topstitching I stole from Clio--it's a great idea because the jeans are supposed to stretch all over)
  • Threaded my BL Enlighten serger with the burgundy thread and determined setting the DF to N setting worked for my fabric.
  • Regular stitching was done on the Soprano and all the top stitching was done on the Brother.  I didn't have to stop to unthread and rethread the machine.  
  • Each machine had their own bobbin, and by the time the Soprano ran out of bobbin thread, I was done topstitching on the Brother, so I could load the Soprano with the Brother's bobbin.

Pocket pix...I could not use the twin needle to stitch them on (because no way to pivot!).  I used a single needle to stitch them on, and marked in chalk where I would need to pivot. I used the flange on my new "edge joining stitch-in-the-ditch" foot as a straight stitching guide.

MUSLIN #1 (after prewashing/drying fabric 2x)
  • I had 3 yards of red stretch Pacific Denim (originally purchased at Haberman's booth at the ASE in probably 2013 
  • The Eleonore takes 1.5 yards
  • I figured on one muslin (out of the red denim--I had no other denim in my stash like this one) and then the real deal.
  • Cut the size V as per my 40" hip measurement (as per the directions).
  • Basted them together (no topstitching) 
  • Tried them on
  • The front was pretty decent.  Some crotch wrinkles, but as per Michael Kors, the crotch was not insane.
  • But the back....oh, I looked like a stuffed red sausage in the back.  Waaaay too tight in the booty.  Like exercise pant tight and then some.  Noooo way I could wear them out of the house.
  • Back gaposis due to swayback
  • I have hyperextended calves (or gorgeous gams,  however you want to look at it) and my calves were jammed in there.   Lolz on the "how to make your jeans into skinny jeans" instructions.  Just have hyperextended calves and they are already skinny jeans and then some.
  • Back leg wrinkles.
  • Side seam pulling toward the back in the booty and the calves.
  • Used Lynda Maynard's technique to determine I would need at least another 2" of room in the booty.
  • Since the front was good enough, I undid the basting and kept the front as-is.
  • Cut just the back in size BB which is 1" wider than the V (times 2 for left and right sides is the 2" I needed)
  • Basted together
  • Overall this was better in the booty. I scooped the back crotch which made it a bit better.
  • Still not enough room in the calves though.
  • Too much room in the thighs though.  
  • Back gaposis even worse (not surprisingly).
  • Back leg wrinkles

  • I honestly didn't have enough fabric to cut the backs completely again.  I thought I would, but you can't cut 4 back pieces from 1.5 yards of fabric (but you can cut 2 back and 2 front pieces from 1.5 yards).  So I pieced a scrap at the back crotch point.  I figured no one is going to see this piecing!!
  • This back piece was a hodgepodge of sizes, basically BB in the booty grading to V in the thigh grading out to the largest size for the calves.  
  • Added 1.5" to top of CB yoke grading to 0 at side seam 
  • Basted together.  I scooped the back again.
  • Finally this looked good enough.  Enough room in the booty, finally enough room in the calves.  Thighs weren't too large.  Back wrinkling, but I didn't care.   Time was running out.
  • I serged the raw edges of all pieces, then  to the yoke.
  • Gaposis was still present.  I took a wedge out as Clio did, but it was way too much (1" wedge is 2" total) and created like a point or a bubble or something.  Not a smooth look.  By this point I had already topstitched the yoke etc I felt this wasn't good enough so....

Pieced together section no one will ever see.    Except you.

To answer Joyce's question in the comments, here is why I pieced.

  •  Undid the yoke from muslin 3.  Unpicked all the topstitching, etc.
  • Used Jennifer Stern's method (from lesson 2c of her online PR class From Blue Prints to Blue Jeans) to create a curved back yoke that fits the top of the size BB back of the jeans and transitions to the V sized waistband.
  • Wound up reducing the 1.5" I had added to the top of the CB yoke to .75" (but it probably needs to really be 1.5")
  • Finally was on to the waistband.  Dawn recommended reducing the back elastic by .5" for a snug fit.  I had to reduce by .75"
  • I cut 1" off the bottom and hemmed them the morning of May 11, in time for my May 12 flight!


  • I was comfortable enough to wear them, even though they have back leg wrinkling.  
  • They are not perfect, but they are "good enough"
  • Even though I worried about the wrinkling, the fabric does wrinkle naturally from wear and to a non-sewist, they are not going to notice at all.
  • They do slide down a bit when I sit down.  I probably really need 1.5" at the CB seam and not just .75" to keep them from sliding.
  • Because of my adjustment, the back leg is so much wider than the front leg which skews the side seam from the bottom of the calf to the ankle.
  • Sewing that intensively before PR Weekend (the sparkle dress, the backpack, then the jeans) really wore me out.  I haven't sewn for 3.5 weeks, though I might sew today!
  • The pattern recommends 20% stretch denim.
  • I want to make them again, in solids and also a dark small-scale stretch floral with 20% stretch.  I am having a hard time finding small-scale florals that I like though.  I may need to make a trip to Mood to see if I can find them.
  • For some crazy reason I remembered that the name of the denim I bought is Pacific Denim
  • Fabric.com has Pacific Denim in a few colors (though they say it's 15%, I think it's more like 20%).  I ordered a swatch and it is the same denim.  So I ordered some more to make a denim jacket which has been on my sewing bucket list forever.  It turns out the Style Arc Stacie denim jacket is made with stretch fabric (whereas the Jacket Express is made with non-stretch).
  • This denim has AMAZING recovery. It does not grow throughout the day like some denim.  Huge props to this denim!
So please let me know, was this explanation helpful and if you think it will help or has helped you!

Gorgeous sweet peas and strawberries from the Princeton Farmers Market (PFM) this week.

Be well!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Scalloped edge laser cut neoprene binary backpack

This bag was my entry for Pattern Review weekend 2016 accessories contest.  This post is about the process...and the binary twist.

Using Clover Wonder Clips for attaching piping

The bag
I used the pattern from Mollie Makes Issue 42, just like I did for my black/raspberry double sided neoprene backpack that I sewed earlier this year, and is also piped.
I bought the laser cut scalloped edge neoprene at Gorgeous Fabrics online, after searching for some laser cut neoprene to do my favorite layering technique.
The double faced white/black neoprene was purchased at More Than a Notion Fabrics, a little shop near my house.
Sewing on a strap

Exterior pocket
For the exterior pocket, the scallop neoprene was layered over the white neoprene.
A "window" was cut for the zipper.  This allowed the white neoprene underneath to peek through in a really cute way.  I was pretty excited when I started as I had run through several ideas for a few days/weeks and finally I was committing to an idea and beginning the bag.  I also got positive feedback right away on IG and that fueled me further.

Interior pocket
The interior pocket is also cut from the scalloped neoprene, but I lined just the pocket with white so that anything in the pocket wouldn't poke through the design.
The exterior and interior pockets use custom made zippers I bought at Botani in NYC.  They are Lampo gunmetal zippers in 7" and 9" sizes and have this adorable girl with the ponytail zipper pull.
The main zipper with two pulls is a 22" zipper from either Joann's or More Than a Notion.  It's a nylon zipper which reduces the weight.
That awkward "cat bed" stage of bag construction

The Rest
The remainder of the bag was sewn from the black/white double faced neoprene, black on the outside, and white on the inside, so it's easy to see all my stuff in my bag.

Strips of black ponte were sewn over the raw edges on the inside, making a clean finish.

Piping was from Joann's or More Than a Notion; strapping was from Pacific Trimming, and the metal rectangle rings and sliders were from etsy.

My "vacuuming the lawn" tags are from Wunderlabel.com

The twist!!

This year is the 15th anniversary of PR so the number 15 had to be incorporated into the accessory, either figuratively (as in, 15 has special meaning for you) or literally.

This was my 7th PR weekend; I've sewn a bag for PR weekend almost every year.  My very first idea was to make a sporty backpack that would have "15" on the top of the back like a sports jersey, and try to jokingly tie it into how fabric shopping is like a sport.  However, this felt waaay too literal (anyone on Project Runway who literally does the challenge never wins, and usually gets kicked off).  Also, the neoprene I had in mind was pink and gray.  I had no gray zippers to match and no time to go to NYC to buy such zippers.

I spent a lot of time thinking about how to incorporate the #15 in some other way and brainstormed with two of my coworkers, friends, and my Dad.  I was thinking of using Roman numerals or Braille, but Dad suggested Morse code or binary.  As it turns out, the # 15 in binary is four ones, which I could easily cut into a logo by representing the bars as 1's, and I could tie it back to PR being a database.   I really was doubting this idea though up until the end.  Would the audience look at me with blank faces when I explained this idea? I ran out to a hardware store on my lunch hour and bought some house number 15s.

Nixed idea:  metal 15 housenumbers painted white

The scriptier font was too large (4") and the 3" housenumbers which I painted white were metal and clanged about way too much (I hung them as if they were keychains off each zipper pulls).
Another nixed idea:  Wooden number 15 painted white

I also bought wood 15 at Michael's and painted the white as well, but they tended to superimpose over each other when dangling from the keychain in an nonsensical way.

I thought about sewing the metal or wooden 15s to the bag at the top, but it just felt too literal.
So I went back to the binary idea.  I learned just enough binary to be able to explain how four 1's are 15 (now I can count up to 15 in binary).  If you want the explanation, it's here.
And my binary 15.  

At first I used white sticky felt tacked on to make the binary 15, but then removed them and replaced them with 4 strips of the white/black neoprene sewn on at the top and bottom.  All of these pix have the binary 15 in felt, but this one below has the neoprene 15.

Explaining my bag during the Accessories contest; picture taken by Deepika

The Verdict
The bag is really fun to use, large enough for my stuff, and  fairly lightweight.  It's the perfect size.

I rehearsed my spiel for the competition, so when I got to the binary I said something like, "So, for the #15:  I was thinking of different ways to represent 15, like Roman numerals or Braille,
but my dad said 'what about Morse code or binary?'" and that got a really nice, hardy laugh.  They got it!  So I explained that 4 one's is 15 in binary, and PR is a database so it relates.

And that was that!  17 of 89 of us entered the contest; prizes were given for top 5 and were judged by the PR Contest Committee and Emilie from Jalie patterns.  I came in second and won two pieces of fabric from Emma One Sock.  To see other entries, check this recap by Deepika.

Oh, and other ideas
Here were my sketches for various bags for this contest.  I thought you might enjoy them.  :)

Original sketch the night I found the scalloped neoprene online
Thinking about not using the scallop, and having the binary 15 repeated a lot
Or maybe the binary 15 rotated and repeated 15 times
Or some other variations!

The PFF is back! Loooove the poppy!
Be well!