Thursday, June 28, 2012

Sewaholic Thurlow Pants Pattern - I recommend!

Pants.  The word strikes fear into the hearts of many sewers, mine included.  Is it an exaggeration to say a good pants pattern is the holy grail of any sewers' wardrobe?  I have been on a quest to find a workable pants pattern for about 3 months, since I foolishly threw caution to the winds, abandoned my facility with dresses and selected V1143 as an outfit that I would make as nominated by one of my blog readers, Ruta.  I have no problem with the pattern, and everyone who comes into my sewing room remarks on how cool the jacket is (gathering dust on one of my dress forms these many months).  But finishing this ensemble requires making pants, something I used to do occasionally but not for a while.

I had made 5 various pants muslins (yes, 5 different patterns, the horror)  3 were paper patterns, and 2 were garment clones of existing pants.  They varied from frightful to just OK, but none were really wearable. So when Tasia asked for pattern testers for her newest Sewaholic design, I responded immediately.

Now the pattern is available for sale and I recommend you give it a try.  Pants are so tricky, they are a multi-dimensional puzzle and a moving target over a lifetime of sewing, however this pattern has lots of nice details that should appeal to many. I have a difference of 12 inches between waist and hip measurement, so her pattern takes the "curvy" figure into consideration which is useful.

Thurlow trouser pattern image
My favorite thing about this pattern is way the pocket and fly turn out.  Very easy to do, and the result is like (or maybe better) than RTW.  For my first attempt I was in a super rush and so made some shorts, mostly so I could give feedback on the pattern markings, fly and pocket construction, etc. I used some denim-look fabric, a poly-cotton plus lycra blend that I bought on super sale at the big chain ("she" who must not be named, formerly a fabric store but now a craft monstrosity, he he). Here are my shorts, which have been worn and washed multiple times already so they have that lived-in look.  I did use the shorts portion of the pattern, and then tapered the legs in quite a bit, as they are slightly wide in order to be able to cuff them as shown on the pattern. 

Denim shorts flat front
As per my usual tendency I did make one change to the pattern, and cut the waistband in half so I had 4 pieces, a right and left front and then right and left back waistband.  No matter what I make or buy, things are generally too big in the waist if they fit my hips, so taking in a bit on the side seam as well as the generous center back seam is a necessity. 

Denim shorts flat side seam
Here is a look at the zipper fly, which comes out really well. In fact when I wrote feedback to Tasia I told her I liked the fly but would probably make a cut-on fly next time I made the pattern. However when I made a 2nd pair, I used her fly pattern pieces and now I think they are super, so she has changed my mind! 
Denim shorts zipper fly
The shorts in action.  As it turns out, I have finally made something that fits into my actual everyday life, i.e. shorts with a t-shirt (my favorite t-shirt bought in Kailua town, Oahu, one of the best places on earth...but I digress).  Looking a bit wrinkly, and shirt tucked into waistband to show off the pockets, photo taken on the last evening of the sewing lesson marathon with my recent student Karen.

Denim shorts worn front

I also made some pants, not my best stitching and a couple of embarassing sewing errors so if you are really interested you can see the photos in this Flickr set

What am I saying here?  "Enough already with the photos.  Put down the camera. Hand me a beer. Look at my cool summer shorts.  They are just like my RTW shorts but I made them. Try this pattern, it is great. Where is my beer?" 


So I am two-for-two with Sewaholic pattern success!  following my Cambie dress.  Thank you to everyone who wrote such nice comments here and on pattern review. That is definitely one of my floral print dresses that falls into the wearable (and re-wearable) category.  But stay tuned for more of my one-hit wonders, there are more to come. To take a different turn this week, I have completed some knit tops, yeah! Trying to keep to my new plan to create useful separates.  

Happy Summer Sewing, Beth

Saturday, June 16, 2012

One Hit Wonder # 1, Butterick 4978 Dress

Yep, I more of these in my closet than I would care to admit. Are you familiar with this phrase? A "one hit wonder" is a musical group or artist that had one hit song and were never heard from again.  The dressmaking equivalent is a garment I made, wore once, liked enough to keep, and then have never worn again. When Karen was here, we did a tour of my closet and she was a bit shocked when I showed her so many items that had seen the light of day only one time.  So at her urging, I am revisiting some of these items, posting about them, and will try to put them back in the wearing rotation.  

First up is a dress I really liked, and have thought about remaking in a less eye-searing fabric.  I think the reason some of my "one hit wonders" get a single wearing is because they are such memorable prints and I don't want to wear again if I see the same people. Which can happen, since it seems I make these type of dresses to wear to a wedding, often family, and of course I will see them again!  OK, a little bit of vanity but that is a great part of sewing, always having something new.  Plus there is always a new dress pattern I want to try.

print dress 1

I think this dress is about 4 or 5 years old.  I wore it to my cousin's wedding in downtown San Francisco. A lovely church ceremony, a great party with dinner, live music, fun! Now she is a mama so time flies. 
Here is the pattern, Butterick 4978, probably out of print. It was quite easy to make, had a bit of hand stitching on the inside, to finish off the binding. I bought this fabric at Stone Mountain, it is 100% silk, not sure exactly what type.  It is very lightweight, but not sheer, presses beautifully but doesn't wrinkle.  It would make a great blouse, maybe it is a silk twill?  I seem to recall that the skirt is cut on the bias which makes it fall nicely.  I saw it reviewed the other day on Pattern Review, which made me remember this one.  Since then I have been looking in my pattern boxes, and I can't find the paper pattern. I keep all my patterns, unless they are dogs - then they go in the trash. But otherwise it should be somewhere. . . still searching. 
B4878 pattern image

Bright silk dressfront1
A look at the neckline, which is very pretty.  This dress has the slightly cut-in armholes which I really like, plus that little v-opening in the center front is a nice touch. The amount of gathering was just right and the pattern went together very well. The only part that is interfaced is the midriff section. The lining is sewn around the armholes and turned to enclose, then the neckline is closed with the binding.

Here is a look at the inside, I lined it with white poly since there was white in the print. The lining fit beautifully, you can see it is smooth so it supports the gathers on the silk fabric.

Bright silkdressinside

Rather bright colors, don't you think?  Even for me this is kind of electric, which is unfortunate as the dress is super comfortable since the fabric is so light and floaty. 
I think I will try to find some occasion to wear this again, it might brighten up someone's day (ha ha).

Sadly, I have more where this came from, so you will see a few more of my one hit wonders this summer.  Some analysis is in order - I need to review which items get worn a lot and which don't.  However that sounds like a lot of brainwork - and it is too hot this weekend for any deep thinking.  

Next weekend is our bay area sewing meetup at the Gaultier exhibit at the De Young Museum, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco.  Sat. June 23, 10:00 am. Here is the blog post for more details - no limit on numbers, please join in if you are in the area and want to meet some fellow seamsters.

Today's SunnyGal garden photo - this little birdhouse has been hanging in the apple tree the whole time I have been here - who knows which previous owner put it there. Each year I hope to see some occupants. Finally this spring, a tiny bird family took up residence, so cute. I have been watching them from afar for a few weeks, and today I got this picture. 

Happy Summer Sewing,  Beth

Litle bird in birdhouse, apple tree

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Sewaholic Cambie Dress

Oh my gosh, someone stop me before I make another floral dress !  

However when they turn out so well I can't help myself. When my recent sewing student, Karen, was here we did a tour of my closet and she was dazzled by the selection of various bright floral dresses, some which have rarely seen the light of day. I really don't need another. However I am a big fan of Tasia and her Sewaholic website, in fact I have tested a couple of patterns for her, so it was time I purchased a pattern and supported her company. I decided to support independent businesses two ways. Tasia had mentioned recently that more retailers were stocking Sewaholic patterns, including my favorite local store, Stone Mountain and Daughter Fabrics, so I bought the pattern there.

Cambie dress 11A

The Sewaholic Cambie Dress, made in a lightweight cotton sateen that has a touch of lycra. I made Version A, with the A-line skirt and angle pockets.  I changed the sweetheart neckline to a straight across the front bodice.  I am not really a sweetheart neckline type, in fact this dress is pretty far on the sweetness scale for me, but I think it worked out and I will get plenty of wear this summer. I have a lot of sundresses that are a bit more bare, so this dress is summery but not strappy, if that makes sense. 
I made a few changes on the pattern (when don't I ?).  It is slighly unusual to have a bodice + skirt style of dress that has a waistband, and I like to be able to sew up the side seams last, for fitting purposes, so I split the waistband into front and back waistband pieces, adding seam allowances.  Also for the pockets, I like the pocket lining that touches the skirt portion to have a slippy quality, since cotton on cotton sometimes has a tendency to stick, so I cut the pocket piece in half and made the pocket facing side in a scrap of acetate lining.  That way the floral fabric completes the skirt side but the lining fabric is lightweight.
Cambie pocket construct1
Part of the reason for these 2 changes (pocket and waistband) were construction methods I use, but the other reason is fabric availability. Does this fabric look familiar?  I made a dress a while ago for Lia, my hair stylist, that used this fabric, and then from the remaining scraps I made a skirt for myself.  That used up all the fabric, but then I took a shopping excursion with my friend (fabric enabler) Alice to a shop in Oakland, Happy Stop Fabrics.  It is a little hole in the wall store, filled with fabric remnants and lots of weird poly fabrics, lots of knits, and a few goodies among the oddball stuff. I found a piece of this fabric and bought it along with a ton of other cotton poplins for very little money. Yards and yards which I have used in my Etsy shop. So that was quite a good haul on the first visit, last week we went back and were uninspired. I think it is totally hit or miss, but so inexpensive that it is worth a try. 

The piece I bought of this coral/black print was 48 inches wide, length of 1 yard 23 inches.  The Cambie dress calls for 2.5 yards of 45" or 2 yards of 60".  Don't ask me how I squeezed the pattern pieces on my fabric, I couldn't tell you. I did cut the dress out at the size 0 hemline since it seemed to be fairly long and I am not.  Otherwise I cut out a size 8 bodice and a size 10 skirt, that seemed to work out well, although I did take out about 1" in the center back seam since it was gaping a bit at the back neckline when I basted the zipper in to check. I lined the bodice in white cotton but the skirt is unlined.

Cambie backCambie side close up

I love this fabric's color combination, coral is one of my favorites.  I don't usually wear black, so this is as close as I get to a black dress.

OK - enough with the dresses for a while.  If I write it here, then it is so.  (maybe, until I get a bug in my head for some other style)  Separates - must make some separates!   Actually I  have a shirt started and have been playing around with T-shirt neckline bindings.

Update:  I have received lots of affirmative replies to our sewist/blogger meetup and group lunch at the Gaultier exhibit,   A great group of bay area sewists are planning to meet (or meet again) and talk fashion, sewing, patterns, and more.  I have had a couple of emails asking if there is space for another person, and the answer is an unequivocal YES.  Unlimited room - please come.  If you are concerned you will not know anyone - no worries, it is a great group and very welcoming.  See you on June 23, 10 am at the De Young museum, SF Golden Gate Park.

Here is today's SunnyGal garden photo - an action shot (ha ha), more like a photo outtake. Check out those hydrangeas - starting to bloom all over the garden.  And a look at the dress without my hands in the pockets.  ooo - love a dress with pockets :)
Happy weekend sewing, Beth

Cambie action shot

Saturday, June 2, 2012

V1287 DKNY dress, not quite a winner

It seems my streak of success with Vogue designer patterns may have hit a snag recently.  My latest selection was Vogue 1287, a DKNY dress pattern that may be a bit too much dress for me.  If I could magically grow to 5' 8" it might be just right, but on my 5'3" frame plus the oversize nature of the design it makes me feel like I am wearing a sack. Here is a look at me wearing the dress, this photo was taken in a big rush by Karen, my sewing student, as we were racing out the door to meet our fellow sewists. Once again my shoe selection is not what what the outfit calls for, so it looks a bit goofy with my thong sandals, which I changed 5 minutes later. 

Purple dress on me
On their version the skirt is much more narrow, so I wish I had sized down from my usual size 12 in Vogue patterns, although mine looks more like their line drawing. 

V1287 pattern DKNY

Dress form photos.  Note this is not a custom dress form, I bought it at a yard sale for $ 40 and I use it for photos and to hang projects on whilst they are in progress. So it is not my shape - but it is not that far off.  You can see there is a lot of extra fabric in the waist and in back.  I was a bit concerned that the hips might be too tight, so I can't exactly recall but I may have graded up to a size 14 in the hips.   Mistake !  Way too much fabric around the waist and hips. 

Purple dress on form1Purple dress back on form

I did do a couple of "after the fact" alterations on this.  Once I had it put together, the waist seemed too low, there was a lot of fabric bunching up around the waist, so I took it up at the shoulders a good inch.  I took it in at the bodice side seams about 1" each side, however the waistband and elastic was already in, so no alteration on the skirt.  This is one of those patterns that don't permit a lot of alteration once assembled.
I think the back, with that elasticated waistband is not the most lovely, so I did wear it with a belt as you can see in the first photo.  I think it would help if I stand up straight too!

This whole process has confirmed a thought I have had lately, that I should shift to a size 10 and then do alterations for everything below the shoulders.  Sounds like a lot of work, huh?  And this is not really the dress to confirm a theory like that, as it has so much fit and design ease.  But next fitted dress, I will see how that works for me.  I find the neckline is too wide on a lot of styles. 

The fabric I used is a poly knit from Joann's, the same as in this dress, pictured below. Vogue 1159, also a Donna Karan dress. I should have know about the size for the dress above, because I made this cross-cross drape front dress seen below twice, in size 14 and then later in a size 10 and the size 10 fit me better. (yes, I confess, I try on stuff I am making for others if I am curious about the style etc)

Purple drape dress front

All this is a long way of saying my love/hate relationship with knits continues!  This weekend it is back to some nice, well behaved wovens.  I am halfway through some pants (future posts will be about recent thrilling advances in pants-making around here) and I have a remnant of cotton lawn that is perfect for a summer blouse.   Need more separates! Step away from the dress patterns! Stop talking to myself with exclamation points!      

If you are in the San Francisco bay area on June 23 please check out my previous post. I am getting lots of e-mails so we are going to have a great group to meetup and visit the Gaultier exhibit at the DeYoung museum in Golden Gate Park.

Here is today's SunnyGal garden photo, a purple pansy to go with my purple dress. Nothing special about a purple pansy?  The other day I was walking by the flower bed, looked down and saw this gigantic lavender-ish pansy. All the other pansies are white.  It is twice as big and definitely a different color. Interesting. . . 

Happy weekend sewing, Beth

Pansy purple