Sunday, June 22, 2014

Tiki Cargo Duffel

Over the last two weeks, I've been slowly putting together my first Noodlehead Cargo Duffle {sic}.  I say first for a couple of reasons:  this one was my "muslin" to try out the pattern; and I had so much fun making it that I want to make a bunch more!

As you can see, I used some of my leftover Tiki Winki fabric for the main part of the bag.  I ended up buying two contrasting fabrics:  a brown print that reminded me of woven coconut fiber, and a batik with splotches that reminded me of the Polynesian Islands, for an overall Island theme.  I used the wrong side of the batik fabric, because the color was a little lighter and matched my Tiki print better.

I really love the pleated pockets on this pattern:

The bag isn't actually 100% finished.  I decided that I want to use Velcro tabs to close the pocket flaps, and when I went to my stash I discovered that I only have one left.  So I'll have to go to the store and get some more before I can finish it.

I added some strips of leather to the zipper pulls to make them more stylish and easier to grab:

One thing I'll change the next time around is the straps.  As written in the pattern, they're softer than I like.  Next time I'll add in some canvas between the two layers of fabric to make them stiffer.

Because this bag was a trial run, I decided to serge the inside seam allowances rather than apply bias binding.  You definitely want to finish these if you plan to use this bag as an overnight bag - you don't want to get frayed pieces of fabric all over the clothes you've packed!  For future bags I will use the binding though, or even line the bag - there are plenty of tutorials online showing how to do that.  My serger wasn't too happy about going through all these layers.

I had wanted to make this bag ever since the pattern was released last October, but kept putting it off because I thought it would take a lot of thought and energy.  But really, it wasn't very difficult!  The instructions are a little sketchy, but if you've ever made a bag before you will be able to figure it out.  For me, this was a great project to work on bit by bit over time.  Each piece gets quilted before you put the bag together, so it's not a quick process, but one I found relaxing.

There are a couple things I did to make it a lot easier for me to put together.  First, I marked the place where the seam allowances intersect on the front and back pieces.

The front and back are sewn to the loop created by the bottom and zipper gussets by sewing the top and bottom seams, and then the side seams.  To make it easier to sew those side seams, I cut into the seam allowance of the gusset right up to the stitching of the top and bottom seams, so I could spread the side flat.

The only other thing I'll do differently next time is to apply fusible stay tape to my outer zipper gusset piece.  When I was sewing in the zipper, that piece kept stretching, so I switched from my zipper foot to the walking foot I used for the rest of the bag.  Needless to say, it wasn't very easy to sew in a zipper with a walking foot!  It didn't occur to me until much later to use the stay tape.  D'oh!!

But it all worked out and I'm very happy with my bag.  And now I'm having fun daydreaming about fabric combinations for duffel bag #2!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Something for the boy.

Hubby and I both got new phones recently.  And you know what that means:  all new accessories.

Hubby likes to wear his phone on a belt holster at work, but his new phone is so large that there aren't many options.  And we found none in leather, his preferred material.  He was looking online and saw a really lovely leather holster, but it was far too small for his Galaxy Note 3.

I'm sure you can see where this is heading.

"I can make that," I said.

"Really?"  Big eyes.

So yesterday I decided to take the afternoon off from my lengthy list of things I need to get done around the house, and just sew.  I had already made up a pattern for the case earlier in the week, so I just needed to cut it out and sew it together.

And here's the back slot for the belt:

And I ordered some button studs just for this project from this Etsy vendor.

I changed the design a little bit from the original.  Also, because the leathers I have in my stash are much softer than what the original is made from, I decided to line the inside of the back with another layer of very fine leather, to keep flakes of suede from getting all over the phone.  I attached that with quilter's basting glue spray; the seams keep it in place.  This finer leather isn't the same grey, and it's pearlized, but it doesn't show :-)

You can see that I edgestitched all the openings to keep the leather from stretching out with wear.  Of course, all of this was sewn with the walking foot and a leather needle.  I'm considering this one a test run - I'd like him to wear it for a bit and see if it's practical.  If he likes using it, I'll get some black leather and make one where everything matches.

The top piece is a bit larger than the back, so it creates space for the phone.  I liked the idea of leaving the corners open rather than trying to miter and sew around them.

Here are my pattern pieces.  I started by tracing around the phone, then adding on 1/4" all the way around - 1/8" for wiggle room, and 1/8" for the seams.  Once I'd drafted the back piece, I used that to make the belt loop/flap piece and the front.

It was really fun to puzzle this project out.  The end result isn't perfect, and we both feel it looks like a man purse.  But with a phone that big, what are you gonna do?

Friday, June 20, 2014

I'm done with Relax(ing).

Sigh.  It's true - there's a lot going on around here at the moment, so I've had much less crafting time than usual, and even less time to write about crafting.  But I did manage last weekend to finish the Relax sweater I'd been working on for two months.  And I love it!  It was cool this morning when I went out to do the grocery shopping, so I took the opportunity to put it on:

I wrote a lot about the knitting details in this post, so I won't go over it all again.  But just as a quick recap:  in order to get the knitted fabric I liked, I had to go down from the recommended 3.6mm needle to a 3mm.  Of course, that threw off my gauge, but I still stuck with the size XS.  So instead of a finished bust measurement of 55" I have a closer fit of 50.5", and I'm very happy with it.

One of my favorite details of this design is the row of eyelets going up the sides:

I did make a couple tiny changes to the construction:  the entire sweater was knit in the round to the armhole, then front and back were split and knit flat.  The shoulder shaping is done with short rows.  On my back piece, I worked 2 extra rows of stockinette stitch after the short rows before doing the three-needle bind-off, in an effort to give myself a tiny forward-shoulder adjustment.  I do think it helped a bit with how the sweater sits on my shoulders.

A shape like this is perfect with slim jeans, but I also really like it over a maxi dress:

(And for the shoe-curious:  here are my sandals, several years old, from Boden.  Also, please to note my leopard-print accents on my big toes.)

Here are some flat shots of the sweater;  sadly the weather heated up so as I write this I'm back in a t-shirt!  The crazy wide shape:

That nifty row of eyelets:

After the eyelets are finished, there are a few rows of paired increases to widen the sweater at the bust.

I chose to steam the heck out of my collar to get it to roll less.  I also knit it a few rows longer than the pattern recommended, to bring the neckline in a bit.

And here's that three-needle bind-off at the shoulder:

All in all, a very lovely pattern once I got the fabric worked out.  I would certainly knit this again.  I ended up using less yarn than recommended - 1097 yards rather than the 1260 listed.  I would probably make the sleeve opening a few rows longer - these sleeves are quite close-fitting on me, although not uncomfortable.  But you know I have bigger arms.

Anybody tempted by this pattern?

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Emery Dress v. 1.2: Tiki Winki

On Sunday I started a second Emery dress, and I finished it up this afternoon.  This version is the same as my first one.  The only change I made was to omit the pockets, because I don't really use them.  This dress is all about the fabric.

From a distance it looks like a mostly red dress with some patterning.

When you get closer, you realize that the rectangles are tiki heads:

Get even closer and you can see that the print features wood grain on the tiki heads:

And if you really inspect the design, you'll see that some of the tiki heads are winking!!

Gah!!  How cute is that?  Within the space of a week and a half, I spied this Michael Miller Tiki Winki fabric online, bought it, received it, prewashed it, cut it out and sewed up this dress.  Now I just need the weather to warm back up so I can wear it!

Friday, June 6, 2014

A bonus summer top.

The other day I was cleaning the house.  I'd been sewing my Emery dress over the weekend, so the dining room was a mess - bits of thread and fabric all over the place.  So I decided to sneak in one more little project before giving the place a good clean.  Here's a weird fact about me:  after I clean, I don't like to sew for several days, because I don't want to mess it up again!

Anyhoo . . . after proclaiming my dislike for bias-bound edges in the post before last, what did I make?  A top with bias-bound edges, of course!  I'm an enigma . . .

You might recognize the components of this top.  The outer eyelet fabric is the last 3/4 yard left from last summer's Hazel dress, and the bias tape is left over from my Robson coat.  I was inspired to make this top from some RTW ones I'd seen, but I really liked the idea of a bright, contrasting binding.  It mostly doesn't show, but every once in a while it peeks out.  I love hidden details like that.  I also love turquoise and orange together.

I'd been meaning to make this top for a while, and had planned to line it to the edge.  It's the same pattern as my New Year's Eve top, which I lined to the edge.  But then I realized that if I did it that way, the seam allowances would show through the large eyelets - yuck.  So I ended up underlining the top instead.  I basted the underlining (white voile) to each piece, then serged the edges at the shoulders and side seams.   I didn't serge the armholes or neckline because I didn't want the extra bulk there when I added the binding.

This pattern was drafted to be cut on the fold, both front and back.  But because of my underlining, I figured it would be easier to cut the back as two separate pieces, and then just open out the center back seam to create the keyhole opening at the back neck.

Yesterday morning I took some pictures, bright and early.  I really love this top with these old white jeans.  I also love the fact that I can still fit into these jeans, although they're at least 10 years old, LOL!

I really love the fit of this top - it's as if it were made for me!  Hahaha!

And you see that I styled it with some orange sandals, to pick up on the orange and turquoise theme.

And then I couldn't help myself - I had to get out my old, bright orange coat and put it on too:

I really like that ensemble!

I'm totally digging this top, and wouldn't mind making a few more in various colors.  This diet thing isn't going so well . . .

Monday, June 2, 2014

Emery Dress: Fit

Yesterday evening we had a date for dinner with an old friend, so I put on my new dress and snapped a few pictures before we headed out the door.  It looked like rain though, so at the last minute I changed out of these shoes and into a less precious pair.  So here I'm wearing my dress with the Cameo cardigan I made last summer, my pink leather clutch (Boden) and my old Frye Wanda T-Straps.  Plus my (prescription) sunglasses - these are Ray-Ban Retro Wayfarer.  I don't think they make this style any more.

I liked this outfit - I felt very retro :-)

Now let's talk about the fit.  Here are some pictures from the front and back:

I realize the fit might be a little hard to see - the overall tone of the dress is pretty close to my skin color!

My fit is close, but not too close.  I wish I were one of those girls who can wear skin-tight dresses and be comfortable, but alas, I am not.  I need plenty of room to breathe and move, especially across the back.  So while I could stand to take the bodice in probably an inch and a half in total, I just wouldn't be comfortable in it.  I think I've made a pretty good compromise on this first run - it looks trim but not fitted.  I might take it in just an 1/8" on the side seams next time, which will be a total reduction of 1/2" in circumference.

Having said all that, I adjusted the pattern so that I actually have less ease at the waist than the pattern calls for.  For my bodice, I used a size 4 at the bust and 6 at the waist.  However, my body measurement would have put me in a size 8 at the waist.  So that's a good thing to know for those of you who are thinking of making this pattern - there is a fair bit of ease given, and more at the waist than at the bust.

Another good thing to know is this - although I couldn't find any reference to it, I do believe this bodice was probably drafted for a C-cup.   I say that because I made my muslins to the size that matches my bust size (size 4), and fit them to my most padded bra, which brings me up to a C.  If I had wanted to fit the bodice to any of my other bras, I would have had to do a small bust adjustment.  I tried the muslins and dress on with those bras, and there was a lot of excess fabric there :-)

My Alterations
So here's a list of the alterations I typically do, and how they applied to this bodice:

* Blending from a smaller size at the bust to a bigger size at the waist - Yes:  size 4 at bust and size 6 at waist.  Bust and back neck darts used the size 4 markings; front and back waist darts used the size 6 markings, and the length of the bodice is the size 6 length.

* Forward shoulder adjustment of 3/8 - 5/8" - Yes:  here I did a forward shoulder adjustment of 1/2", and transferred that to the sleeve piece as well for future.

* Broad back adjustment - No!  This really surprised me!  There's plenty of room here for my broad back, which makes me think that those of you who have narrower backs might need to size down, or do a narrow back adjustment.

* Swayback adjustment - Yes:  I took in 3/8" on either side of my horizontal line, for a total intake of 3/4" - not too bad for me!

* Rounded upper back/prominent shoulder blades - Yes:  I made each leg of the neck darts 1/8" wider, for a total extra intake of 1/4" on each dart.

Style Changes:
*  Not exactly a style change, but I used the size 6 skirt pattern, to correspond to the size 6 waist.  Because of the gathers though, it really doesn't matter what size skirt you use - I just wanted to see how the skirt looked as written.

*  To make the dress sleeveless, I extended the side seams up 1/2" to make the armhole shallower.  Because I knew I'd be wanting to make this dress in both sleeved and sleeveless versions, I made separate pattern pieces for each so they'll be on hand.

Lengthened the skirt by 2".  One thing that really surprised me is that the skirt is the same length for all the sizes.   In addition, there is no lengthen/shorten line on the skirt.  For me, a 22" skirt is too short - my preferred length for a dress like this is just below the knee.  I could have made it that length if I sacrificed a wide hem, but I didn't want to do that.  So I drew myself a lengthen/shorten line 13" down from the waist, added 2" and then blended the side seam.  When I was ready to hem, I first turned my hem back 1/2" and pressed.  Then I tried on the dress and pinned it to the length I wanted - I ended up turning the hem back 1 5/8".  So my total hem turnback is 2 1/4" - just 1/4" more than the pattern recommends.  So be aware:  this skirt is a bit on the short side!  I'm on the short side too, at only 5'4" - so it's something to keep in mind for you taller ladies if you prefer your skirts a little longer.

In her sew-along, Christine Haynes has a post about making this dress sleeveless.  She talks about differences in drafting between sleeved and sleeveless dresses, and changes that might have to be made to the neckline, shoulders and upper bust.  I didn't make any of these changes - I really like how the armhole extends over to my arm.  It covers up those lumpy underarm bits that drive me crazy!

Well, I think I've said everything I wanted to say about this dress.  I hope these notes will be helpful to some of you!  I really loved making this pattern, and I'm looking forward to making many more versions.  This is my favorite type of dress - very simple, darted bodice and gathered skirt.  Comfortable to wear, easy to sew, and lots of room for creativity!


Sunday, June 1, 2014

Sleeveless Emery Dress, with construction tips

Hi All!

This week I finally got back into the swing of things, sewing-wise, and made my very first Emery Dress - finally!  I've been saying I was going to do it since it was released last fall!  However, I'm glad I waited until after I learned a bit more about fitting.  I did have to make several changes to the bodice, although the original form was passable.  But that's why we sew, right?  Or at least that's one of the reasons - to have a well-fitting garment.

I'm going to talk about my fitting changes in a separate post, since they may be helpful to some of you.  None of the changes I made were difficult to do, and many of them were changes I've learned I need on pretty much any pattern.  But there were some surprises in there.

I'm also not going to show you any pictures today of me wearing the dress, as I've just gotten back from a very long walk and don't quite have the energy to take photos!  Here it is on a hanger though:

I'm very happy with it :-)  I got several questions on Instagram about whether or not the fabric is vintage.  It is in fact quilting cotton!  I believe this print is no longer being produced, but it is called "Boxed Dozen" by Martha Negley.  I'd been in love with it for quite a while, and when I came across it on clearance last year on, I immediately bought 4 yards.

Instead, today I thought I'd share how I did the lining on my sleeveless dress.  I did a little google search and couldn't find any tutorials (on the first couple pages) for lining a sleeveless dress to the edge - most of what I saw was bias binding for the armholes.  I'm not a big fan of bias binding, looks-wise; I much prefer pieces that are lined to the edge.  But I can never remember how to do it and always have to look it up!  So as I was making this dress, I made sure to take pictures of each step to share with you and as a reference to myself in the future.  Because I think there will be many more sleeveless Emery dresses in my future :-)

Lining to the Edge on a Sleeveless Bodice

1.  Cut out your outer and lining bodice pieces, front and back.  Stay-stitch the necklines on all these pieces, as per the pattern instructions, and then sew and press the darts.

2.  Sew the backs to the fronts on both the outer and lining pieces at the shoulder seams.  Press these open, and trim the lining shoulder seams in half.

3.  With right sides together, sew the lining to the outer at the neckline, starting and stopping 1.25" from the edge.  I made a little mark at these positions to make it easier on myself.

*EDITED TO ADD:  After I made my second Emery bodice, I decided to try understitching the entire neckline at this point, after trimming and clipping the curves, but before sewing up the armholes.  Worked great!  I didn't do it that way the first time because I was following the directions from the lining book.

4.  Starting and stopping at the armhole curves, trim 1/8" off the edge of the armhole on the lining piece only, making it slightly narrower than the outer bodice.  They will look like this:

5.  Pull the edge of the lining over to match up with the edge of the outer, then sew the armhole seams.

6.  Grade the armhole and neckline seams, then clip the curves.  However, make sure not to cut away any of the neckline seam at the 1.25" you left unsewn - you'll need it to be there when you install the zipper.

7.  Now turn the lined bodice right side out, pulling the back through the shoulder to the front:

8.  Once the whole bodice has been turned right side out, give everything a nice press, making sure that the lining is pulled to the inside a bit.  This will be really easy to do at the armhole edges, since a bit of extra was trimmed away.  It will look like this - just a scant 1/16" of outer fabric showing:

Here's the whole bodice so far, pressed and ready to go on:

9.  Now, pin the lining side seams and outer side seams right sides together.  Sew this as one long, continuous seam:

Make sure to have the armhole seam allowance folded towards the outer side, like so:

Press these seams open.  Now you have a bodice that is completely constructed and lined to the edge, but open at the center back for the zipper installation.

10.  Assemble the skirt as per the instructions.  Then attach the skirt to the outer bodice only, keeping the lining pulled up out of the way:

11.  Finish the entire center back edge on both sides - I like to serge these edges.  Still keeping the lining pulled out of the way, install the back zipper as per the instructions.  The 1.25" opening you left at the neckline will make this easy to do.  Once the zipper is in, you can finish sewing that last 1.25" of the neck seam.

12.  Press up the waist edge of the lining 5/8" to prepare for attaching it to the waist.  Then flip the lining piece to the outside of the bodice so that the right sides are together.  Line up the center back edges and sew the lining to the zipper tape using a regular zipper foot.  Note:  you don't finish the center back edge of the lining, because you want to minimize bulk here.

13.  Trim the corner, and also the remainder of the neckline (not shown here), then turn out the dress to the right side.  Give everything a good press, then sew the waist edge of the lining to the waist seam of the dress by hand (or if you prefer, by stitching in the ditch from the right side).

Now all you've got left to do is to hem the dress!  You shouldn't need to do any understitching, as the trimmed armhole on the lining should keep the lining from peeking out.  If you want a little insurance understitching at the neckline, you can do this before closing up the lining in step 13.  You won't be able to understitch the whole neckline, but you should be able to do most of the front.  Or, you could understitch later by hand if you enjoy doing that - I sometimes do.

I'm very happy with the finish I got using this method, which I learned from Connie Long's Easy Guide to Sewing Linings.  I hope this will be helpful to some of you too!