Friday, May 30, 2014

Lekala T-shirt pattern 4284

There is a lot of coincidence and overlap in the sewing world, particularly when we are all shopping for fabrics on the same websites or stalking the newly released patterns. This week I saw my friend Shams write about her experiences with Lekala patterns, a Russian-based pattern company that creates an email pattern based on your specific measurements. Shams didn't have success with the jacket pattern she chose however she did use a pants pattern previously and it worked for her.

I have made one other Lekala pattern (a dress, blogged here) which I thought was very good and last month I saw a review of this top so decided to give them a try again.  They have a lot of very cute tops plus printing a pdf pattern for a top is fairly minimal so it's not too bothersome. So I happened to finish sewing this just a few days before I saw Shams' post.

Not very exciting, but a very nice fit in the shoulders and neckline, which is the number one place I have to alter. Most patterns are too big for me there.   Scroll down, because as they say on TV, "But wait, there's more!"

Lekala Tee front on me

Lekala tee back on meLekala Tee back side

Kind of cute, huh?  Do you recognize this fabric? It is what I used for my shingle dress, Vogue 8904.  A cotton/spandex knit jersey from Girl Charlee. Great for t-shirt testing.  By the way, the skirt is Simplicity 2152, blogged here, although it was an a-line style and one day I thought it was sticking out a bit too wing-y on the side seams so I made it much more of a straight style. Now I think it is much better plus it has great pockets. Also I removed the lining because it was too hot in the summer, and then I resewed it back in this winter so I could wear tights. And now it is out again :) Next winter I just have to remember where I stash it!
Eek, who likes to look at their backside? not me. Not the back of my head, as I have a crazy cowlick which normally makes the back of my hair resemble a 5 year old boy who just awoke from a nap. Serious stick-out parts. And yet I have short hair...Not the most distressing dilemma in the world but it is the goofy little things that can really bug, right?

This pattern is Lekala 4284 which they call "Blouson with Decorative Back" and it does call for a knit. Notice those darts? That was the only change I made, eliminated the darts by easing that section into the back. Which worked out fine. This stripe is optical illusion-y enough without another seam in that area.

Lekala t-shirt drawing
So all in all, I am quite happy with the fit. In her post Shams discusses the size options she chose and how they worked out. I input only the basic measurements (bust, underbust, waist and hip) and did not add any specs on the 3rd section (adjustments where you can specify things like shoulder width, bust length etc) I didn't use any of those other specs which I made the dress either. I am just happy that I can start with a pattern where the circumference is right from the beginning. For Vogue or other patterns I usually start with a size 12, and possible narrow the neckline and then widen a the hip. 
The price for Lekala can't be beat, around $ 2.50 and you can use PayPal which I like for small purchases. I ordered the pattern on a Saturday afternoon and it was in my email in less than 2 hours. Amazing for a customized pattern. 
This top is a bit big at the hip but that is an easy adjustment and I don't like things to be too form fitting so it is fine with me. 
This one really is a test version, I think in a more interesting fabric, or a two-color version it would be really cute. The opening in the back hits at just the right place, no straps showing. 

Lekala T front seamLekala Tee back

This is going in the repeat file, there will be another one. The Girl Charlee website is calling to me (always!)

One more for the road.  This is my TGIF pose.  Although the camera did strange things here so kind of washed out. How do you like my new coral clogs, which I ordered in the midst of winter after a who knows why late-night search session on Ebay looking for clog sandals. And these were $ 30 instead of the usual $ 130 for Troentorps, they are a bit wonky, the wood color and strap width are not matching exactly but who will notice?
The hydrangea in the corner is the first to bloom, next to the pathetic grape that has never produced anything but leaves. However I have decided it is very pretty so it is staying for now.

Happy end of May sewing,  Beth

Tgif Lekala tee

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

An event, a plan and a few Random Threads

An event

Do you need an excuse to pop into San Francisco in June?

launch_buttonBritex Fabrics, the 4-story destination store for all things sewing and fabric is opening a workshop space on their 4th floor. To celebrate they are holding an Launch Party on June 28, 1-5pm.

I will be speaking at this event along with a few of my fellow Bay Area sewing bloggers. Mark your calendar and come on by! I would love to meet you so please be sure to introduce yourself :)

Britex Launch Party 
June 28, 1-5 pm

A Plan

How does that saying go? Compliments will get you everywhere. Many readers have left such nice comments on my projects and a few requests regarding sewing a tailored jacket - so I have decided to do another one, step by step, and write about it. Warning, this will not be a tutorial, or a sew-along. Just me sewing up a blazer jacket and trying to document the steps as I go, in a more complete fashion than I have done in the past. 

Choosing the pattern to make has led me all over the place, rummaging through my file drawer, looking online at way too many options and I narrowed it down to a few things. This Burda pattern is something I have been looking at for months now, and I was this close to buying the PDF download but decided against it. If you click over to see it they actually show it in 3 different versions/fabrics.

Burda jacket possibility
The fact that it has a high button/short lapel style is what decided me against. I like a single button or 2 button jacket with a longer lapel. And I thought don't be ridiculous, you have perfectly good patterns in the drawer that fit already! So then the choice was between two patterns which I have both made twice. This Simplicity or this Vogue.  The winner is this one, mostly because it has nice lapels. Also I want to do a welt pocket (which I could have done on the Burda).  Funny that both of these pattern photos I have included here are shown in yellow - I don't think I have ever made anything in yellow. Not at all my color for clothes although I love it in home dec.

V2853AK suit

For the fabric - a light color that will photograph easily (I hope). It is a grey/white seersucker which is intended to be a very good neutral, lightweight jacket for spring and summer. The red selvedge gave me an idea for some trim or accent so I found the remaining yardage from my Jacket Express and that may possibly make an appearance on the collar. To be determined...

Seersucker fabric

A few Random Threads

Made By Me May:  I admire (sort of) anyone who has the discipline to do something like that but I couldn't do it. Just like I could never do a ready-to-wear fast. There is something about going into a store or a few clicks and then magically having some jeans. No cutting out, sewing, fitting. Just a hem - which goes without saying for my 5'3" self...

New Craftsy Post:  My latest post on the Craftsy Sewing Blog is all about Sewing Princess Seams. Anytime someone asks me about fitting and what they should make - my suggestion is try princess seams, the stitcher's best friend.

Memorial day weekend is approaching, we expect lots of sunshine and the beginning of summer - the very best time of the year. OK, not summer yet but as good as around here.


Today's SunnyGal garden photo, keeping with the yellow theme is this rose that starts out vibrant with a tinge of pink and fades to a pale shade. 

Yellow rose 2014

Friday, May 16, 2014

One More Time - a new series, starting with Vogue 1351 dress

Recently I noticed that my personal sewing queue for the next few months is going to be items using pattern repeats, mostly Vogue with one or two others for good measure. So here is the start of a series on pattern repeats I'm calling "One More Time" with some info on fabric choice and incorporating what I learned from the first versions.

Last week I made two dresses using Vogue 1351, a Donna Karan Designer pattern I first made last summer. This is one of the simplest and prettiest patterns to come out in the last few years. I am  surprised that it didn't get the praise in the blogosphere that was heaped upon its cousin Vogue 1250, a pattern with some similarities from the very same designer. I have made both and declare V1351 superior (are those fighting words? - I don't mean it that way).

The reason I made two of these dresses is because after I finished my first one I set about sewing up another with fabric from my stash and chose a color that just wasn't me. Probably why it was sitting in my stash unsewed. Anyway recently I brought it to my friend Michelle who is the same size as I am and sometimes the recipient of my sewing. (Click these links to see: Dress in brown polka dot, scroll down to see a Renfrew top and the best winter knit top ever, the marine blue one.) She loved it. Loved it. Next day she called and asked if I could make two more! Lucky girl, she and her family are setting out soon on a summer sabbatical in Europe, so knit dresses that can be smooshed in the suitcase are perfect for jaunting around various countries. (although she reads this blog and thus I will clarify that she is quite tidy and never smooshes anything in her suitcase, that person would be me!)

two dresses

Now a little analysis. The floral dress on the left is an ITY jersey from Gorgeous Fabrics (fabric). It was a lot more stable than I expected, with only stretch on the crosswise grain. The black and white scroll print on the right is a rayon jersey with 2-way stretch, bought last year at Joann Fabrics just because I thought it looked like a good basic.

The previous versions I had sewn using this pattern all had been with jersey that stretched both ways. To my suprise I think the floral ITY with the crosswise-only stretch worked out the best. The rayon jerseys are very stretchy, and since this dress is cut on the bias they want to pull down even more. The slightly more stable fabric holds its shape better and due to the inner lining holds the wearer in a bit too. My impression is that these Donna Karan patterns are genius with their knit linings that create smooth lines underneath it all. The queen of those patterns has to be V1159 which I made a few years ago for another friend. That dress has a magic spanx-like knit lining that totally holds you in but is very comfortable and supports all the draping and pleating. 

Here is the first version I sewed from this pattern, blogged here

V1351 Purple dress

Above I mentioned that I like this pattern more than the V1250 which is also deceptively simple and works beautifully in knits. I prefer this one more because it has full length side seams (the V1250 has a wrap around skirt portion that makes it less easy to alter for fit.) Also this 1351 skirt is cut on the bias and slightly a-line so falls very nicely in most any fabric. It also can be made in a woven and would be gorgeous in a printed silk charmeuse. 

Here is the pattern envelope and a look at the inside lining which keeps the cowl neckline in perfect position.

V1351 pattern photopurple dress inside
The purple version was too big  - really too long in the bodice and I had to take it up at the shoulders a good amount, almost 3/4" front and back. For these versions I folded out 3/4" from the back bodice across the upper back, and figured the shoulder seam would settle wherever it needed to. I also raised the armholes about 1/2" on both front and back pattern pieces. When I sewed the dress I ended up using a 3/4" seam at the shoulder so all in all the changes worked very well. 

So that is my first pattern repeat of the spring/summer. Some others on my to-sew list are things you can  probably predict, but there are one or two that may come as complete suprises. I should never say never!

Last week it was almost 100 degrees F here, very unusual for May and a perhaps scary predictor of the summer to come. Although that does motivate me in the summer separates sewing category. Maybe even a swimsuit. 

Happy Sewing,  Beth

Today's SunnyGal garden photo, an orange old-fashioned rose that probably been here for 30+years? Precedes me by a long while. It puts out these simple roses mostly in early spring and loses a bit of steam when the summer heat comes round. I keep it because the color is yummy and ekes out just enough blooms to retain her spot. 

Orange rose 2014

Friday, May 9, 2014

Happy ! Vogue 8944 Color-Blocked dress with pattern fitting details

Happy! just like that song that is stuck in my head.  A great song and a dress that I am so happy with. Sometimes the fabric, color, and style combine to make something that I really feel great about. I have already worn this once and I know it will get a lot of outings. Even though it is quite memorable.

Pink black dress front2

Both fabrics are wool crepe. I love wool crepe! While it doesn't stretch it has a lot of body, tailors beautifully and the colors available are fantastic. Don't be afraid to use it for any season. Here is a older post showing a dress I made ages ago in wool crepe that I often wear in the summer.
The pink fabric is something I purchased at a sewing guild sale, maybe paid $ 3 for two yards. It had a smattering of small holes but they were near the edge so I could cut around them.  The black is a leftover piece from this dress and the pink lining I bought ages ago at a garage sale. (also used the pink lining for this jacket) and I still have more. Score! Perhaps my delight in this dress is influenced by the fact that I spent so little. But between us sewers - you know that is half the fun sometimes.

If you think this simple dress was just a cut and sew...Nope.  A very expert sewer recently remarked that the simplest things often take the most adjustment because they need to fit perfectly and I agree. Not to discourage you, the adjustments were not monumental, just a lot for a simple design.

Here is the photo from the Vogue website when the pattern came out, and the pattern envelope.

V8944V8944 pattern env
I am not crazy about the fit on the model. or it could be the way she is standing, but perhaps this dress is exhibiting my nemesis - excess back bodice length. 
Here is a look at it on my dress form. I chose not to add a third color because a) I didn't have any other small pieces of wool crepe that complemented and b) a sewing group I belong to was having the end of the year lunch with the theme of "two" or "twice". So I figured fabric twice used, in two colors. 

pink black dress side front

Ok, let's talk about fitting. Based on my experience with another Vogue pattern last year (V1353), I thought that the front might not fit exactly as I wanted it to right out of the envelope. That seaming could be problemmatic so I did make a muslin of the bodice portion. Maybe I am shrinking in height but lately everything seems too long in the neck and shoulders, or too wide and gaping. For dresses with a fitted neckline I should probably start with a size 8 or 10 pattern and then alter the body for circumference but I am too lazy and either way I would be doing a lot of fitting so I will stick with a 12 to start and go from there. 
Here is the back bodice piece from my finished muslin so you can see the majority of alterations I did to this pattern. The front has the equivalent changes (reshape armhole, pull up at shoulders, raise underarm, take in at sides)

bodice back

So kind of a lot for a dress with just 4 pattern pieces. Here is the bodice upper front piece, most of the changes mirror the back bodice piece, but I did give more room across that center horizontal seam, sewing at 3/8" tapering to the normal 5/8" at the side. That gave a bit more length across the front bodice although I did raise the skirt waist there just a little bit. I could probably take it in another 1 inch at the waist, but it felt fine when I wore it the other day so I will skip that. A very fitted waist can look good standing up but after sitting a bit there are too many creases for my liking.

upper front

My main pet peeve with patterns that have a sleeveless and sleeved version is that the armhole is so clunky in the sleeveless version. I always reshape it, usually moving it in as I did here. Even though I pulled it up at the shoulders note that I raised the underarm by 1/2".  Kind of a good item to do as a general rule, if it makes the armhole too high them you can lop it off but it is often needed.  By the way, no changes in the skirt. 
Lest you think I never have a boo boo I have one thing I need to fix. I was so careful with the zipper so that the color portions meet perfectly at the center but the alignment is off by just a few millimeters. And it will make me crazy. So I wore it on Monday but now I will take that portion apart and fix it.  Here is the lining, which I always make a smidge bigger than the dress (about one inch) just or comfort and movement. So it looks a bit droopy. I had to do the color block on the lining as well since it might show just a tiny bit on the edge if I had done all black or all pink. 

pink black back of dresspink black lining

More sewing happiness.  This is one of my favorite colors.

Pink and black dress

Happy Mother's day weekend and sewing happiness to all,  


Today's SunnyGal garden photo - it has to be this one. I get mixed up on my rose names, and this one is possibly called Lipstick which seems like a great name. Luscious.

Lipstick rose Apr 2014

Monday, May 5, 2014

Random Threads # 7

Today's topics:  sewing willpower, some tips on plaid, and do you wear statement jewelry?

There is a complete lack of willpower in my sewing room, despite my claim that I was going to make separates, some useful items to mix and match with my existing wardrobe and lifestyle. I will give you a sneak peek at my latest project. Let's just say that I wanted explore colorblocking, plus use up something in my stash and then leave it at that.
I wonder if you can guess the pattern? It is something I have shown in the past and finally got to sewing. On the plus side, I am really happy with my latest make and have a skirt in the works, so that is a separate.

copy for sneak peek

My latest post is up on the Craftsy Sewing Blog. A few tips on working with plaid. When I sat down to write this one I scrolled through some of my past blog posts and realized I really like plaid!  I have made a lot of plaid items. Now that it is summer I even have a plaid item planned for this season. So not just for cozy winter clothes. 

plaid post Craftsy

Thank you for all your great comments on my last few posts that included some fitting information. It is quite amazing how much fitting impacts how we feel about sewing.  For my new item mentioned above which will appear in my next post, I will show you the muslin I made and all the changes necessary to achieve a good fit. Kind of a lot for a simple item. Or perhaps because it is a simple item it needs to fit really well?  

On an entirely different note, are you a jewelry wearer?  I am not.  I was thinking about this as I looked at my latest item on the dressform and thought, does this need something else? Like all of you I get plenty of emails from my favorite stores, catalogs, plus magazines and style websites. Often I see an outfit and it is accessorized with a bold necklace or some other piece of interesting jewelry.  For my personal style I am just not a jewelry wearer. Necklaces really annoy me, and I am not much for rings either. Bracelets and smallish earrings are tolerable. Due to past issues I have to take very good care of my spine (doing well, knock wood!) but a lot of cute shoes that I might have worn in the past are off limits these days. Basically I just let my sewn garments be my style statement and leave it at that.  So my question, do you think an outfit is unfinished without jewelry?  Or like me do you look past the accessories to closely observe the garment? 


Today's SunnyGal garden photo - red roses with a natural accessory.