Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Tested: Birkin Flares by Baste & Gather

I wear jeans every single day. A few years ago I finally bought two pairs that fit properly; both were "designer" jeans.

They lasted 2.5 years, which didn't justify the cost. The knees blew out and the seams started shredding. They were too much Designer and not enough Work Horse.

I need jeans that'll survive my crawling around cleaning under beds and hanging out on my knees cleaning toilets. My jeans have to be comfortable enough to sleep in but sturdy enough to wear camping.

High Quality + Durable + Excellent Fit + Under $50 = Must Sew Myself

My ideal is two pairs: a wide leg and a narrow leg. NOT skinny jeans. The Gingers were close to right, and the tutorial and sew-along for those is stellar. But they weren't just right.

So when Lauren started posting teaser photos of her new pattern, the Birkin Flare jeans, I sent her an email and begged to test them.

I do not apologize for VPLs. 
The testing process itself was fun, especially since we all chatted in a Facebook group along the way. And once I slid these babies on, I'm pretty sure several angels got their wings.

She's made several tweaks and has plans to do another round of testing. The crotch depth and shape is perfect for me, which is hardest for me to alter. The waistband hits just below my belly button, and I didn't have to adjust anything! (These are size 24 and my measurements are 26" waist and 34" hips for reference. She narrowed the yoke and waist to fit a 24" waist in the second version.)

In addition to the rise, I really like the illustrations for this pattern. They're line drawings and very clear and easy to follow.

There are a few things I'll do differently next time: for example, I've got a pocket template for just the size I like. I'll use a different fly method, but the one in the pattern is adequate -- just not my preferred way of doing it. I'll narrow my fly topstitching; the belt loop, pocket, and fly topstitching are crowding each other in my version. (I didn't follow the template she provided with the pattern.)

Finally, I'll loosen things up 1/8" at each side seam. I'm one turkey dinner away from busting out of these puppies. They'll stretch over time, but my Cone Mills denim will have less of that bagging out effect.

Victory! I'm ready to cut into my Cone Mills denim!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Sewaholic Dunbar, Jalie Tights, and GreenStyle Jillian Tank

I've had a couple of weeks to test out my first handmade athletic ensemble, and I'm still on the fence about it. My ambivalence isn't entirely the fault of the patterns, though, so I'll go ahead and review them.

How's that for a rousing introduction?

I'll start with my favorite piece of the outfit: The Sewaholic Dunbar sports bra. I wholeheartedly love this sports bra. The unique style, the pockets for modesty lining panels, the construction -- it's my favorite sports bra right now, and that's saying a lot for a girl who owns at least 10 sports bras in various styles and fabric.

Fabric: Wickaway Lycra from Rose City Textiles (aka Fabricline)

  • Added length to the body of the bra - which means adding length to each piece.
I added 1.5" to the bottom of each pattern piece to allow for 1" elastic (wider than the 3/4" in the pattern) and because the top was entirely too short. My ladies are tiny and they were threatening to break free.
  • Raised the neckline 1/2". 
I highly recommend doing a quick muslin of the top before cutting out the final fabric. There are several pieces, and it's frustrating if you assemble the whole dang thing and realize the fit is way off. (Ask me how I know.)

awkward running shot. because why not?
Also, take a close look at the envelope photos. You can see it's a low-cut, not-very-long sports bra. If you're like me and wear your sports bras out in the open and desire something substantial but not full length, you'll probably need to make adjustments.

I've got intentions of making the long version, too, for treadmill runs at the gym this winter.

The next piece is Jalie 2563 running tights. I used the same fabric for these and made no modifications to the pattern.

They've got a gusset that doesn't quite make it far enough forward in the crotch seam. Maybe? I don't know. I generally wear track shorts and not tights.

There's also a lining, but it's not sewn down and the placement makes it awkward to go without underwear.

I used an elastic with silicone around the leg cuffs to keep them from riding up, but in hindsight could've used something similar on the waistband to keep it from sliding down.

I'll wear these when I go to cycling class, and maybe I'll be a tights convert, but for now I'm "meh."

The last piece is the GreenStyle Jillian tank. I've been eyeing this tank since its release in a pattern bundle.

I used a recycled lycra for this top (same source), and the only modification was to tack down where the overlapping layers meet so the top doesn't flop open while I'm running.

The pattern was straightfoward and super easy to sew. There aren't many pieces at all, and even for The World's Slowest Sewist (me), it was quick to put together.

I'll make this one again, but with fold-over elastic as the back strap part.

That's it! Just one more thing: the only thing more awkward than standing in the middle of your street and posing in a bathing suit is standing in the middle of your street and posing in running clothes.

we love this cat so much! his name is George.
another awkward running shot. because one isn't enough.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Flashback Skinny Remix

Eliza and I picked out three dresses and one pair of pajamas to make for her winter wardrobe. (The boys aren't getting handmade clothes this winter (except Christmas pj pants)! They each got four shirts (and more) last year, so this year it's Eliza's turn.) Once we picked out the designs and I figured out how to re-work patterns to suit them (doesn't it figure that out of the HUNDREDS of children's patterns I own, we can't find ONE that matches exactly what we want?), we went fabric shopping.

Eliza picked out the fabric. For some, I gave her choices of a few that matched, but the fabric for this dress was ALL HER.

In my 38th rendition of the Flashback Skinny Tee, I remixed it into a little a-line dress for Eliza. Rae published a tutorial on how to do this on her site; it's super simple.

I also added width to the sleeves for a little puffed sleeve and added purple piping to the cuff. The original intent was to make this dress long-sleeved, but her bunny needed a matching dress, too, and I didn't have enough fabric for long sleeves. Tonight I'm casting on (to knit) a little matching pink cardigan to give her for Christmas.

Now for photos. Lots of them.

I used the free Geranium Dress pattern 0-3 months (also Made by Rae) for Brownie Sparkles's dress.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Summer Sewing Round-Up

The temperatures have started dropping, so I've decided to complete a couple of projects left from the summer and then move on to cold-weather sewing! I've shared snapshots of completed projects on Instagram, but for review purposes, I'll go ahead and share them here.

First up, the Sallie Jumpsuit by Closet Case Patterns. I was a tester for this pattern and chose to use some ITY Jersey Aztec knit from Fabric.com. (It's still in stock!) The drape and feel of this fabric is dreamy. It's so slinky and comfortable. At less than $6 a yard, the quality is nicer than I'd expect, too. It's been washed and worn lots and has held up very well.

For this gargantuan post, I'll just dump all the photos for each piece, have a little review, then put one more photo after the review. Does that sound okay?

Modifications: I lengthened the waist as per my usual.
  • This pattern really does feel like pajamas, especially if sewn with a comfortable knit.
  • It's easy to get on and off.
  • The tie-back is a nice detail.
  • Pockets!
  • There are dress options.
  • All Closet Case patterns are stellar. I'm a fangirl. 

My husband didn't like it. I KNOW! It's probably the first thing I've made that he didn't like. I was flabbergasted because I feel hawt in it!
  • It wasn't hemmed in these photos, and when I went to hem it, I cut it too short! The good news is it's knit, so I just left the hem raw.
  • Heather enlarged the armholes after our test, which is a good thing.
  • This style is comfortable, but not everyone is comfortable wearing it. I get that.

I live in tank tops in the summer. But I wanted a quality one - not cheap cotton but a nice ribbed fabric that would be soft and durable.

(These photos are likely out of focus. I dropped my camera off the tripod and the lens is not working properly. Waaaah!)

Pattern: Self-drafted based on a RTW tank.
Fabric: a rayon/cotton blend from Let's Sew in Evansville. I'd buy this fabric in EVERY SINGLE COLOR, but unfortunately, this is the only color they carry.

  • I made the armholes a little too high so there's some wrinkling, but I didn't want to have to layer it or risk showing my bra, so it'll do.
  • Undergarments matter. That's why I'll be making my own soon.
  • The double needle is my nemesis. Originally I hemmed this with the double needle, but the hem came out, so I went back and used a zig-zag. Around the armhole and neckband I stuck with a zig zag, and I think it's a-okay. (And secure!!)
These are the biggies for this summer. I made two test versions, and this is the second one. (I'll explain why the back waistband looks funny in a sec.)

Fabric: denim with 2% spandex from fabric.com
Size: somewhere between a 0-2-4. My measurements are 32-26-34, and I fooled with just about every area of fitting these jeans.
Modifications: Oh my. Well, for the record, they are the closest to great-fitting jeans I can imagine straight out of the "envelope." I used an old pair of my Seven for All Mankind jeans as a reference. I cut apart those jeans, compared them to the pattern pieces, and made changes based on that. Some of the changes:
lengthened the torso, pockets, etc.
widened the waist band
took in the waist
Changed the back pocket size and shape
added a little boot cut to the leg bottom
  • The Ginger sew along is comprehensive and excellent.
  • I've been wearing these for a couple of weeks and just can't decide if I'm ready to cut into the Cone Mills denim I got in my Ginger Jeans kit. The fit is pretty spot on, but they sag down after a bit of wear. I've always had that experience with RTW jeans before my 7s, so I'm assuming it's because this fabric is cheap and the higher quality Cone denim will remedy that.
  • The waist was still a couple of inches too big, so I cut a slit in the waist band and added elastic to cinch things up. It's not noticeable under a shirt and makes them wearable.
  • DO NOT use cheap denim buttons! Oh my. Please don't. Learn from my mistake. Luckily I was able to rectify it.
  • I tried to distress these with sandpaper. It sort of worked.
  • Do I really like skinny jeans? I dunno. I'm more of a boot-cut kind of girl, and I like my thighs to breathe.

I've been admiring this top on the Interwebs since forever. 

This version and this version were the ones I wanted to steal, so I tried to make my own copy instead.

Fabric: The bodice and sleeves are from a blouse my sister gave me. The white gauze is from JoAnn Fabrics.
Size: xxs. The Internets said to size down and THEY WERE RIGHT. I've got broad shoulders and almost always need an adjustment there, but I like that my sleeves don't stick out that much. So xxs it is.
Modifications: none. at all. yayyayyay.
While I'm not sure whether this is flattering, I simply don't care. I like it that much, and so I've got fabric selected for 5 more. 
The armholes are kind of a pain. You sew the sleeves together as a loop and then put them into the armhole openings. There's no easing, so you'd best have gotten your SAs exact. Which I never do. So, next time I'll sew the armhole bands together in the loop AND THEN measure them against the armhole opening AND THEN sew the sides together according to that measurement.

Why yes, yes I am holding a rubber baby mermaid in this photo

I didn't sew this shirt. I'm slipping this in because it's my new favorite t-shirt.

I found a GSP silhouette online, traced it onto freezer paper, cut out the design with an exacto knife, cut a big oval out of a large piece of freezer paper, and then ironed the oval and GSP onto the t-shirt.

Then I put a layer of freezer paper between the front and back of the t-shirt and sprayed bleach into the oval.

And that's a wrap! I'll spare you my two pairs of Carolyn Pajama shorts because this post is so ridiculous even I'm bored. Ha.
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