Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Sewaholic Thurlow

My body type is a classic Pear. Smaller on top, bigger on the bottom. It seems to me that the pattern companies aren't quite as friendly to my breed as they are to my "straighter" sisters. I found  quite a few glowing reviews of the Sewaholic Thurlow  pattern from women with similar fit issues on the web so  I ordered it and sewed it. Here are my thoughts on the experience. Short version - Love!

Awkward stance, but I wanted to show you the back as clearly as I could.

There are lots of pattern pieces, but they are all well drafted and fit together perfectly. I kept a similar style of RTW pants close by for comparison and explanation when I wasn't quite sure what the directions meant. I had sewed a similar Calvin Klein Vogue pattern years ago, and had that one down to a science, but it's been a really long time (tip: never, ever throw away sewing patterns when you move, you will always be sorry) and I definitely had to think about each step, especially with the fly and back welt pockets. I also decided to switch the fly opening, which required that I switch the waistband pieces (4!)- which I still ended up doing wrong!!! Actually I did it wrong twice because I made a muslin of these with cheap cotton before cutting the stretch denim I had bought to make them.Oh well. Experience is the best teacher- eventually I'll catch on and it didn't affect the fit or wearability of the pants. 

Speaking of all the pattern pieces- yes we were- there are two separate pieces for the front of the pants. The only difference is that one has an added seam allowance for the fly facing. I didn't feel like cutting two separate fronts so I just cut them together and trimmed off the seam allowance on the side without the fly facing. It worked fine. 

My measurements came out to a six, but after making the muslin I ended up scaling back to a 4 and even a 2 in some places, especially the front which was too long. I left the back rise at a size 6 and even added a little in the seat to accommodate my rear end. I also ended up pinching out some fullness from the back leg beginning from approximately below the cheek to the knee. This is my own little method for getting rid of too much fabric back there. Oh, I also adjusted the darts in the back and used two on each side instead of the one that is called for in the pattern. It fit me better this way. 

The first fitting was a little scary because without the waistband on, these looked and felt really strange, but once I basted the waistband in place, it was clear that these could/would be a great pair of pants. 

I decided to have a little fun with the inside and use some leftover printed cotton for the waistband lining. I will never tuck anything into these- thus no belt loops- so why not put something cute in there?

Here's a close up of the fly- if you make these, follow the directions carefully. The zipper & facing  should sit inside the seam allowance by 1/8-1/4" to keep it from being visible from the outside when zipped. I didn't do this right- again, not earth shattering, but I'll do it better next time.

As for the welt pockets, I took advice from many and used Poppykettle's tutorial on a very nice method- which is much less fiddly than messing around with those blasted welt strips. 

Here's a shot of the front pocket. I finished it with a french seam and can think of nothing to criticize with this portion of my sewing. Yay!

The pattern gives you a ton of extra fabric for adjusting the center back seam for a perfect fit. My back pockets ended up a little closer together than I had hoped, but again, not a biggie and I will position them farther apart next time. 

These really fit nicely. The waistband hugs my body and doesn't gap at the center back or feel funny when I sit. 

Design note: I find the flare on the lower leg to be a little too much. I tapered it a little bit but will do even more next time.

It went together surprisingly quickly for a pattern with all those pieces, and I feel confident that after another pair or two, these can be completed in an afternoon ( long afternoon!)

Shew!- that was long winded, sorry. But the pattern is worthy of review.  

thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Get Thee to IKEA

After a heroic beginning there has been a startling dearth of activity here on the old blog. It's not for lack of sewing, but just for lack of sewing clothing. I decided to change paths and resume a prior career in home decor sewing late in 2013 and have been busy getting things off the ground, which left little time or interest for sewing for myself. Plus, this relentless winter weather is seriously uninspiring.

Maybe a little sunless tanner and a new beach bag will pull me back from the brink... 

Here's a little striped rug I picked up on a recent trip to IKEA- knowing that I would never actually use it on the floor.

but it made the cutest beach tote! 

The rug dimensions are roughly 24"x36" and it cost $4.99. I simply folded it in half and stitched up the side seams, then stitched a 7" seam across the bottom corner for the base. The fringed short ends turn over to make a little tasseled edge. I wanted the trim edge to be continuous so I made bound openings for the straps- which are made from 4" wide strips of heavy canvas. The raw edges tuck under the stitched down fold so they don't show. I think cotton rope handles would be adorable, but I didn't happen to have any on hand.

To make the base a little sturdier, cover a piece of super heavy Timtex with some canvas and stick it in the bottom. 

Finished dimensions are 15" wide x 12" high x 7" deep.

Here are a few other storage items that I've been stitching up lately:

Chevron bin

Canvas laundry basket

I hope to be back soon with something to wear!

I'm chronicling (is that a word?) my home dec work HERE.

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, November 11, 2013

No clothes for you!

Hopefully Mr. Machine enjoyed his little rest while I  painted literally miles of walls and molding in my family room. 

See the beams over my head sporting their cute coat of primer? I sanded, primed, caulked and painted every one of those bad boys, plus the book cases, windows, trim, ceiling and walls.Then, just for kicks, white-washed the brick fireplace. The beams and ceiling were a bitch and my neck really hurts.

The pain is soon forgotten and I am very close to having a sweet, happy room to curl up in... as soon as I sew the curtains and pillows. I have 20 yards of a nice casual stripe for drapery panels, plus some fun pillow fabric waiting in the sewing room. 

Back in the day, when my children were small, I stayed home and made a little money doing custom residential sewing for decorators, furniture stores and word of mouth customers. I've recently been coaxed out of "retirement" by a friend who is redecorating her home. Everything is tailored and simple and I'm not gonna lie, it's been kind of fun!

Here's a blurry shot of the Roman Shade in her powder room. She found this fabric at a local outlet and loved the monkeys. A little of this goes a long way, so we thought a simple shade would be just right. 

I'll be spending some fun,quality time with my sewing machine over the next few weeks but there probably won't be any new clothes to show for it.  

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Style Arc Kate: A review

 If you have stopped by here to read about my experience with the Style Arc Kate Dress then I won't keep you waiting while I re-hash my quest for the perfect wrap dress pattern. This is IT. 

Apologies in advance for being wordy, but you have to order these Style Arc patterns from AUSTRALIA, and they are never available for $1.99, and you have to order a SPECIFIC SIZE, so if you're like me, you may want a decent level of comfort before hitting the "buy" button. They always include a bonus free pattern, which is extremely nice. 

First of all, here's me in my dress:

Never ask your husband to take your picture after cocktails with an iphone.

Here is the pattern drawing:

It has an ever so slight A line silhouette, good coverage and three tiny pleats at the waist for "camouflauge". The pattern calls for a tuck at the wrist, which I eliminated. It also has the belt tie in the back. I cut the belt much longer so it would wrap all the way around and tie in the front.

Style Arc patterns contain only one size, so it's important to view their sizing page and check your measurements with theirs. I ordered a size 8 because it was the closest to my measurements. I also ordered the Willow pants pattern, but got a 10 because of my hip measurement. 

I used a Parisian Microfiber  from Marcy Tilton. I can't say enough about this material. It is absolutely lovely, refuses to wrinkle and is really the perfect choice for this pattern. 

The instructions included with the pattern are simple and straightforward. I was not familiar with the term "vilene" which, it turns out, is simply tear away stablilizer for the neck and bodice edges. This is genius, and necessary, and highly effective. Instead of a facing, the pattern calls for swimsuit elastic to be stitched (I serged it) to the wrong side of the stablilized neck edge, then turned and top stitched. I carried on with the serging all the way down the front edges of the dress,turned in a hem, and used steam a seam to hold them in place for the final top stitching. 

There are distinct right and left front pattern pieces because only one is pleated. You could easily make two of the un-pleated pieces if you prefer. 

The instructions have you set the sleeves in after sewing the side and sleeve seams. I attached the sleeves first and then sewed the sleeve & side seams. I don't see where this caused any problem with the fit or appearance of the finished dress.

The sleeves fit my arms perfectly- not too tight, not too loose. 

With the exception of  the stabilizing and top stitching, I made this dress entirely on my serger. I took my time and tried it on ALOT, but now that I'm comfortable with it, this is a two hour dress. I'm going to need another closet!! 

Here's a shot of the back: I usually have to adjust most patterns at the center back because I am narrow,and frequently have to take in the size seams, but not on Kate! 
Not my best angle, keeping it real here.

 I can't think of a single criticism of this pattern, and can't wait to try my next Style Arc pattern, Willow. 

Shipping was $12.50 for the three patterns I ordered- Kate, Willow and the freebie of the month, Brenda, and delivery took about two weeks. Go for it!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

An "Easy" Top

I can spend a long time flipping through pattern books or browsing online, but often it's an image on Pattern Review or someone's blog that makes me feel an urgent need to make a certain look.

That's what happened a while back when I saw Vogue 8833 on Goodbye Valentino.

Sarah's original version was sleeveless, with a ruffle along the front edges. I just loved the idea of a wrap style blouse and knew immediately it was a "must sew" pattern. 

I finally got around to giving it a go last weekend. I envisioned it in gingham for fall, with 3/4 length sleeves and the collar with band. Once again, my local fabric store let me down, as every bit of the gingham fabric was mostly polyester. It was cheap as dirt though, so I bought some in orange & white.

My camera refused to let me shoot without the flash inside but I promise the top isn't nearly as shiny as it appears in these pictures. 
Side view showing poorly fitting sleeve : (

Here's the quick 411 on my experience with Vogue 8833:

It's a "Custom Fit" pattern, meaning that multiple cup sizes are included. I LOVE this feature. I cut the size 10 with a B cup and feel like I still could have taken out a little in the upper front chest, but the princess seam needed no alteration. 

When I make this again, I will add a little width to the hip and lengthen it by several inches. It would be more flattering on me if it were longer, and it is most definitely longer on the pattern envelope model. I will also shorten the tie belt. 

Maybe I am simply terrible at sleeve installation, but my last two tops have had sleeves that were too big for the armscye. The crappy fabric on this one didn't help. I would love to know if anyone else encounters this problem and what the simplest adjustment prior to cutting would be.

The collar band was a success. Instead of the pattern directions, I used techniques from the Craftsy Jacket Class, and a few different internet tutorials. It wasn't speedy, and the collar ended up backwards, but practice makes perfect and I doubt anyone will ever inspect it closely enough to tell. 

This style really suits me, and the pattern deserves better fabric, so I'll try again. I really loved Sarah's idea for the ruffled neckline and intend to shamelessly copy it.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

A Lisette Jacket: Just for fun!

How's this for fun? A sweet little hot pink somethin' to liven up  just about anything. This adorable Lisette jacket pattern caught my eye when I was skimming the review gallery on Pattern Review. It was calling, no, make that screaming my name. 

I bought it, got myself some HOT PINK pique at Hancocks, and stitched this baby up in an evening. Couture, she ain't. But she can go happily to work with black slacks, and to my nephew's game with jeans, and out for drinks with khaki capris, so she's my kind of girl for Fall! 

I'm not going to list all the faults. OK, yes I am, but just this once, and then I'm going to move on and enjoy this precious little top. 

First, the good...Princess seams- Yay!! easy fitting through the bust and back. Ruffled collar- too damn cute. On seam welt pockets-  nice detail. One button loop closure- stylish, comfortable,fun.

Now the bad... Unlined- have to serge finish every seam and edge. Unlined-the fabric wrinkles at elbows and looks like it wishes it was lined. Unlined- the facing is too wide and awkward, and just generally looks sad to me. The Pockets- too small and high to be useful, I would prefer faux welts because I will never use these pockets. Sleeve heads-poorly drafted and much too high. Shame on me for squeezing them into the armscye with so much extra fullness. 

Cute button & loop. I think I trimmed by neckline
seam too much. 
Unfortunate sleeve heads

Teensy on seam pockets- but
welts look nice. 


Sometimes perfection is overrated. Sometimes all you want is immediate gratification and a little sass. Miss Lisette 2209 has got that covered. 

This isn't to say she might not come back in the future all lined and fitted and fancy.... 

Thanks for stopping by!!

Monday, September 9, 2013

An exercise in fitting: Side Zip Pants

Did any woman on tv rock the side zip ankle pant better than Laura Petrie? This is one of my favorite looks: fitted tapered pants, ballet flats or low heels and a turtleneck or knit top. I'm not willowy like Laura, but I think this simple style of pants works well on just about every figure type. In fact, another one of my favorite television women, Ina Garten, is the polar opposite of Mary Tyler Moore shapewise, but always looks stylish in her ankle pants when she's shopping for cheese or bread in the Hamptons.

Butterick 5614 has been in my pattern file for a while and I made a less than successful linen version a while ago, then blamed it on the pattern and shelved it in disgust. 

This time, I decided to give it my best shot and begin with a muslin. I referred to a few fitting articles and made minor changes, namely pinching out diagonal creases in the front crotch and vertical creases in the center back leg, from the seat to the knee. 

The biggest adjustment was what I lovingly refer to as the "big ass" adjustment, which required me to add about 2 inches to the center back seam. That's right- 2 inches! 

I like the way these fit but there's still room for refinement. I have a great fitting pair of similar RTW pants in my closet and compared them seam to seam. Next time, I will move the seams forward slightly (increase back side width and decrease front side width) and add about 1/2" to the back crotch. Hopefully that will further improve the fit at the front crotch. There's a Craftsy class on custom pants fitting, One Pattern Many Looks, that I have been eyeing, which would probably be worth the time and money. 

This is a great basic pattern and the fitted nature is probably going to require significant adjustment for most bodies. The style is so classic, that it's worth spending some time getting it right. Seriously, it's 1 1/2 yards of fabric, six seams and a zipper. As Ina would say, "How easy is that?"