Saturday, January 13, 2024

Seamwork Andi

Here's my finished jacket, on me. Insert usual disclaimer about dirty mirror, no make-up, etc. It's a long weekend - maybe I'll get to one or the other. Or not.
And here it is on Zillie. I wish I had done a better job of aligning the pockets but that's water under the bridge. Eventually I won't see it. Especially since I know this jacket will get worn a lot both in the house as an extra layer for those cold days we actually have in Florida and outside the house to run errands, etc. This fabric is so nice and cozy to wear without being too hot in the house.
Back view. I decided to go ahead and insert elastic at the hem. I almost blew the opportunity though, because I put on the snaps first, but thankfully realized before I did the second snap at the hem that I needed to hold off until I inserted the elastic or else I wouldn't be able to since the snaps block the channel.
The annoying pocket. But it's a pocket and I'm glad to have both on this jacket. Perfect for the phone, dog treats, chapstick, whatever.
Inside view. 
This is the snap tool I ordered from KamSnaps. It, the necessary dies, and the snap pieces arrived on Thursday. Very fast shipping from California.
Here's everything and the envelope it was all shipped in — laying on top of my on-deck pattern to be cut out today hopefully, around watching football playoffs.
I'm not going to lie - it was kind of a struggle to get everything aligned on this thick fabric with the handheld tool. Moreso for the bottom parts of the snap because the dies and snap pieces are smaller and a little more fiddley and my fingers are big. But I took my time and plowed on, and I'm happy to report that I didn't have any mishaps. I'm sure the honkin' big tabletop setting snap press would be easier to use but aside from the higher price, I didn't want to think about where to store that thing later. If I found myself all of a sudden needing to set tons of snaps, I'd probably upgrade. But the handheld tool does the job just fine too. It's certainly easier than the old purple or teal multi-layer plastic setting tool from Snapsetter that you whack with a hammer and hope the prongs all got caught. Just me?
Before doing the real thing on my jacket, I watched a few YouTube videos (highly recommend this video from Sew Many Creations), laid out all my parts and pieces and got very familiar with them, and then I did a practice run, below. I'll probably have to do all of that again the next time I install snaps because I won't have any muscle memory after a month goes by.
Here's my new jacket in its home. It will be nice to give my ratty black RTW cardigan a break.
Parting shot: Cyrus living his best life. We love him so much!

Saturday, January 6, 2024

So Long 2023

The holidays are over and all the sewing I thought I would get to while I was off work didn't quite happen. But I did manage to get two projects done, or mostly done. And I had lots of time for Cyrus snuggles and some reading.

First up is a Love Notions Rhapsody, but this time in knit. It seems so many things I've made lately have been wovens that need to be ironed. Ugh. While I do press constantly while sewing, I'm not a big fan of clothes that need to be ironed before wearing. I mean I'll do it, but I won't like it. So, I'm back to sewing knits for a while to cut down on my ironing.

The fabric I used is a very nice black/white ITY recently from Gorgeous Fabrics. (There was still some available last time I looked.) I bought 3 yards and I have enough left for a skirt for one of my 2-piece "dresses" should I feel the urge. 
I made no changes to the pattern from my first woven version, except to use the elbow-length balloon sleeves with elasticated hems. We've been having a bit of a cool down weather-wise and my supply of warmer tops is low. I'll still be able to wear this in the office during the hot days since it's usually an AC iceberg zone
Here's the inside with the "burrito'd" yoke. I again gathered the lower back instead of using the box pleat per the pattern. 
The binding and ties were done on my coverstitch machine. The black looper thread shows on the backside of the ties, but I'm OK with it. I'll take applying knit coverstitch binding over woven bias binding any day of the week. But I also seem to remember owning a bias binder sewing machine foot for wovens (like this). I may need to dig that out and reacquaint myself with it.

To give the binding strip a bit more body and less curl as it feeds through the binder, I bought some SewKeyse 1 Inch Fusible Knit Stay Tape (that's an Amazon link, which may pay me a penny or two if you use it for a purchase). I usually cut up fusible interfacing scraps and use that on knit binding strips that need some help but this already cut and ready-to-go 1-inch tape seemed like it would be a great addition to the notions collection. And it is. I love that it's ready to go.
Here it is on my ironing board being applied to my binding strip. (I finally bought a new board cover and this is the cleanest you'll probably see it.)
My other project, which is not quite done yet, is a Seamwork Andi jacket. I really need a casual slightly warm jacket for around the house/yard and running errands, etc. Seeing this pattern made up by others on Instagram is one of the reasons I decided to go with a Seamwork subscription. 
I shamelessly copied my inspirations by using the same prequilted knit. I bought this navy colorway from Stylemaker Fabrics and I might have another color coming from Minerva. And OMG is this fabric so comfy/cozy! (And kind of a pain to sew with since it sheds its innards and is a bit thick and slippery.)

What I did not have ready to go were snaps for the closure. I have a TON of Snapsetter (RIP) snaps that I was thinking would work but I hadn't even looked at them in years and it turns out they are all too small for this jacket and I don't feel confident that the short-ish prongs would be a good match with the fabric thickness even if I had a bigger size. So my jacket got a bit more expensive since I ended up buying a snap press and dies (plus bigger snaps) from KAMSnaps. My order should be here next week and then I'll finish the jacket.
Here's the back, which is hanging very crooked on Zillie. I also have not yet added elastic to the hem. I'm still deciding on that and will make up my mind once I can actually snap the jacket closed.
Even though this is a very simple and oversized design, I had to go my own way a bit with the pockets because they are shaped with a straight side to be inserted into a straight side seam and I blended between sizes, which created a very curved side seam. It's not a big deal, but I kind of think the instructions should have mentioned/shown that you'll need to apply the pockets more like a patch pocket if you do blend between sizes. Seamwork patterns are mostly geared toward beginners and I can imagine a beginner doing some head scratching on this situation. On the plus side, Seamwork's private member forum is very active and filled with extremely helpful people, so one could ask there if stuck.

I cut the pattern pieces to match the "pattern" of quilting across the front and side seams, but somehow one of my pockets does not match up at all. I decided to just leave it. Besides the laziness factor, I didn't want to "waste" any of the remaining fabric since I should have enough left to colorblock for another pattern that's percolating in my brain. I figure there's so many lines going every which way and the pockets hang more to the side than how it looks on Zillie that no one but me (and now the entire internet) will ever notice. 
So that's the end of my 2023 sewing. I'll be back when I have my snaps on the jacket. I'm also planning to start a sweatshirt tomorrow so hopefully I'll have that to share soon too. 

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 1, 2023

Seamwork Meg Dress (and Beatnik wadder)

Yep, you read that correctly. Seamwork. 

I've been eying the Seamwork Meg dress for a while. There's just something about it that called to me. 

So I decided to test out a Seamwork membership because with a 15-day trial membership you get a free pattern download plus access to all the other membership stuff (message board, member projects, tips, project sheets, videos, etc.). If I decided to cancel, I'd still be able to keep the pattern at no charge and I wouldn't be charged for the membership — your credit card is not charged during the trial period. Good deal, right? 

So, I downloaded the pattern to have a look at the drafting, sizing, and instructions. I printed out everything and taped the pattern together. It all seemed in order. (I have some opinions — shocker! — about some of the instructions which I'll share later but overall, they're fine.) 

And here is my dress (still to be hemmed). And I love it!
My measurements put me in a size 20 bodice, but this pattern has a lot of ease and after reading through some of the Seamwork "Community" (message board) and seeing some YouTube videos on this and other Seamwork patterns, I think Seamwork patterns run large. I cut an 18 bodice and blended to a 22 at the waist/hip. My measurements would put me in a much larger hip size but there's plenty of design ease in this dress so I stayed at the 22. My sizing decisions worked fine. I also added length to the bodice. Instead of cutting the bottom edge at the 18 lines, I extended to the 22. Kind of a cheater FBA. Seamwork is supposed to draft for a DD in the larger size range, but, again, after my research, I thought I would need more bust length. I was right. The width is fine, but again, lots of design ease.

The fabric is rayon voile from Fabricmart. It was supposed to be challis, but it's not. I'm not lucking out with Fabricmart rayons lately. But I do love the actual print. Also, I see that I still need to more evenly distribute the elastic in the channels so the waist is looking a bit wonky. (If only I could distribute my own waist so quickly.)
The tie is organza ribbon from deep stash. I'm still "auditioning" it and I may end up making a tie from the leftover fabric, of which there is a lot. But I do like the bit of contrast so the ribbon may stay.
These are the "bonus" sleeves, which are "puffed" and have an elastic channel to create the gathered hem flounce. Members get "free" bonus views of patterns that you don't get if you just buy the pattern without a membership. I think that's how it works, anyway. The non-bonus sleeves are flutter style.
Line drawing of the bonus view.
Here's the dress in progress to show how low the neckline is before gathering shortens it. I also added about 6 inches to the skirt length, much of which is now taken up by the waist elastic. I haven't done a final hem yet, but I'm thinking I'll keep most of the extra length.
Side note:  Cyrus decided the pattern tasted good and I found this after walking into the sewing room one day. My fault for strewing pattern pieces all over the place. It taped together fine, but it turns out that the bonus view also comes with its own bodice pieces so I didn't need the chewed piece in the end.
Now on to my opinions about the instructions. Overall, they are fine and will get the job done, especially if you have some experience. But some of the methods are not necessarily "Best Practices." For example, almost everywhere, you are instructed to finish (zz or serge) seam allowances separately. Technically, that's fine. But it's not necessary to construct the pattern and on my lightweight fabric, serging one layer was horrible. I quickly ditched that after being sure no seams actually had to be flat. If there's no construction need for the seam to be flat/open, then I think the instructions should offer a choice. 

Ironically, there is no instruction to finish the seams of the CF bodice and facing, which means they end up raw edges which can be fiddly inside the neckline channel if your ribbon insertion doesn't go smoothly. The facing should be interfaced and it's not. This would eliminate one of those raw edges in addition to just giving the facing a bit more something-something IYKWIM. 

Another "bad practice" is you are instructed to sew the bodice sideseams before attaching the facing and doing the topstitching to it. Much, much easier to do all that in the flat and THEN sew the sideseams.

Lastly, the pattern uses 5/8" seam allowances everywhere. I know this is technically OK and standard for Big 4, but I personally hate a 5/8" seam allowance on a sleevecap. Since this one is gathered, it wasn't a big deal, but if it wasn't, I would have trimmed it down.

Out and out mistakes include some typos, a missing instruction to remove basting stitches from outside a seam allowance (the puffed sleevecap), and no instruction to understitch the facing join seam. These are things a sewist with experience would just do so they didn't slow me down, but a beginner would have no idea.

So, did I cancel my trial membership? Actually, I did not. I'm enjoying the behind the scenes features and other members and there are a number of other patterns I want to download/try, plus I might actually go through their Design Your Wardrobe class at my own pace since my closet needs a huge overall. I think I'm actually seeing marked improvement from Seamwork patterns and practices since their early days and I'm willing to give them another chance. We'll see how I feel next year at renewal time.

* * * * *

Now for The Wadder (HotPatterns Beatnik). Ugh. This fabric (French terry) is so nice that I hate to waste it so I'll probably just literally wad this up and put it in a pile for a while until I can repurpose it. But the actual garment is a Big No. It just looks horrible on me. It's just too much fabric in the wrong places and not enough where it's needed, and the neckline sits funny on me. I've wanted to try this pattern for a while and I'm glad I did finally get to it. It's now out of my system. I'll be trying a Cashmerette Stanton next, I think. 
The topstitching looks so wonky in these pics. That's about the only thing that actually turned out OK, but it doesn't look like it. Hah.
Parting Shot:  If you've made it this far, here's Alex prepping the bird for our Thanksgiving last week. He's an excellent Cook (haha, get it?). Seriously, though, he's done the turkey for a couple of years and it's always been SO GOOD. That's one of his 3 dogs, Oreo, standing behind him. Anytime anyone is in the kitchen, so is Oreo. It was a low-key but enjoyable day with my sons and all the dogs. I finished up the last of the leftovers last night. I'm ready for more turkey! 

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Finished Fringes on me

Not my best photography (is there such a thing for me?), but also not on Zillie so there's that. 

Here are my finished Chalk & Notch Fringe dresses on me in mirror shots. That harsh overhead lighting and shadows for the Fringe #2 pics are doing me no favors, but whatever. I've now grown too old to care. Much. Hah. 
I wish this fabric would hold up, but it's just not going to. I suspect I'll be retiring it after a few more trips through the laundry cycle. I'll reclaim those buttons when it goes.
This fabric is so much nicer, but it definitely feels a little heavier to wear. Both dresses are extremely comfortable since they are loose fit and flowy. Perfect for the very warm days we're still having. (What happened to that cold spell that was predicted?) This should be the last you'll see of the Fringe dress for a while. But it's a keeper and an easy sew, so it might pop up again after the navy dotty version dies.
Cyrus, as usual, is pretty much Velcro'd to me and you can almost see him behind me. He's such a cuddle.
I'm just about finished with the HP Beatnik top but I'm not loving it on me. It's very boxy. I'll finish it and it will be a house sweatshirt, which is needed because my made-for-Florida house gets pretty cold on cold days when we have them. And we do always have them.

Monday, November 6, 2023

Second verse, better than the first - Another C&N Fringe Dress

While my sewjo didn't disappear again, it was having a severe case of analysis paralysis. I just could NOT decide what I wanted/needed to make next. I have so many things I want to make that I can't make up my mind (sound familiar?).

After making my first Chalk & Notch Fringe Dress, I had pulled out a much nicer quality cut of rayon to make a second Fringe Dress, but I kept telling myself I didn't need a second one quite so soon. But then I couldn't decide what to make instead and this fabric and my pattern languished on my cutting table, whispering to me. Since I wasn't coming up with an alternative, I finally decided to just give in  to the whispers and make the darn thing. Here it is. 
I'm not sure where the fabric came from at this point. Fabricmart? (RIP)? It's been in the stash for years. But it's much, much nicer than the navy dotty challis from the first Fringe. This one is a black rayon crepe with ivory herbs? (no idea) printed on it. In person, they do read as a horizontal and vertical pattern so I cut the front bodice pieces single layer to match the print. I think I did pretty well.  
Since I was topstitching the facing, I wanted it to actually show, so I used a matching ivory/beige thread for the facing, and the sleeve cuffs. I went back to black thread for the skirt-to-bodice seam and bottom hem since I didn't think those needed to be quite so visual. Plus, I was playing thread chicken with the ivory and the bottom hem is fairly long. The buttons are silver metal from the button stash. I only had 4 so 4 it was. They are non-functioning since this dress goes on over my head. Which means I still haven't sewn buttonholes on my new machine. 
And apparently the sewjo knew best since the Fringe #1 is already showing wear/tear. I knew this fabric wasn't going to last. I have an identical cut but with an olive green background. It's not going to get anywhere near a final version of anything and will be regulated to muslin status. I'm disappointed because I really like the navy version, so I'll be on the look out for a similar but high quality fabric for a future Fringe #3. 
Next up is what I hope to be a very quick HP Beatnik sweatshirt since the temps are dropping here in Florida next week to a frigid 50ish (ha!) and I don't have sweatshirts I want to wear out of the house. I'm going to lengthen the sleeves and probably narrow the neckline and attach ribbing.