Thursday, December 20, 2018

Love Notions Forte and Other Stuff

I'm back today with more of what I've been making recently (and more work bathroom selfies than should be in one post). Speaking of work—I'm off from tomorrow through January 1, which is TWELVE days (woot!) and I'm really hoping to get a few things done in the sewing room. December has sucked (see below) and I'm so ready for the New Year.

In the meantime, let's get back to the sewing stuff. Above is my Love Notions Forte Dress, sewn in October. I like the finished dress, but I took a few detours from the pattern to get there.

This is my second Love Notions pattern made up. My first was the free Laundry Day Tee (previously blogged here and here). LN has a "trimless" print-out, which I found worked better on the Forte than it did for me on the Laundry Day Tee. Me or the printer or the pattern? I have no idea. What *was* my fault was not checking which pages I needed for the View B dress I was making and instead, I printed all 104 pages. Yes, ONE HUNDRED AND FOUR pages. Good for me that I print at work. Bad if you're paying for supplies.

Another backhanded compliment (complaint) I have is that the pages are laid out such that you're only assembling one pattern piece at a time and don't need a huge tabletop to do so BUT … the "map" for the assembly is too light and low-resolution for my old eyes to see it clearly. The assembly diagrams are the pink boxes below. If you're looking at the PDF on a computer, you can theoretically zoom in to see the diagrams better (still low-res though). But if you're staring at the printed pages, it's a blurry mess. I did let the designer know and she responded, so hopefully this will be improved at some point.

There are a number of hints and links to tutorials, etc. that are clickable within the PDF when viewing on-screen. Again, useless if you're looking at just paper. So, I have very mixed feelings on these features because once I'm ready to sew, I'm not next to a computer in my present set-up.

The pattern is touted to have a "full bust" version included. I looked at the tester photos and saw too many on which what is supposed to be an underbust seam bisected the bust instead. I don't know if those testers used the regular or full bust pieces. I don't know if they made any adjustments. I only know that after holding the pattern piece up to my own bust, I needed to do something. My quick fix was to just add more length, as shown by pink-lined addition below. I lost most of the inverted vee shape of the seam with this quick fix but at least it's under my bust. On a future version, I'll probably adjust my adjustment to get back some of that inverted vee shape.

I'll also lower and widen the neckline on future versions. This one is technically fine but higher/narrower than I prefer. Part of this finished shape/height is because I actually added a half inch to the height because some tester photos looked very low. Again, no info on what the testers may or may not have done so I was just guessing. The other part of the finished shape is because I used my coverstitch to bind the neckline instead of turning and topstitching. (Binding also meant I had to change up the order of construction so I could start/stop the binding at the center front.)

The binding looks great. The pattern matching across the CF seam, not so much. I stitched/ripped literally three times and it didn't improve. I decided to employ the 3-foot galloping horse rule. (That's the rule that if something can't be seen from 3 feet away while riding a galloping horse as you pass by, then it's good.) Seriously, not one person has come up to me to complain that for 2-1/2 inches down the center front seam, the pattern doesn't quite line up.

See … far less noticeable at this distance. Even less so on a live body.

Another problem I had with this dress was the sideseams didn't match. I'm confident I matched the correct seams and I'm also confident that pattern itself matches as it should. I think the fabric just stretched out from hanging on Zillie for a week or so. I tried to force it by easing the seams and ended up with this:

So I pressed, steamed, and clappered the heck out of the seams.

Better, but still wonky. Plus, I really wasn't happy with how the dress hung over my backside. I have erect posture and there was just too much length in the back bodice area before it hit my butt so it just hung badly instead of skimming. I thought I took a pic but I didn't find it, so you'll have to take my word on that.

So I took a hard left (figure of speech) and unstitched those wonky sideseams and then cut off the lower back …

… so I could add an adjusted back waist seam to get rid of the excess. Again, not scoring perfect 10s in the pattern matching but I was now limited by remaining fabric so I didn't even try.

And it looks fine. The sideseams aren't rippled anymore either.

My phone makes little animations when I take a lot of similar photos in a row. It cracks me up, and this one was actually pretty good. I really like the front drape of the skirt section. It's fun to wear because it has a lot of movement.

Now for some other October/November sewing. Up first, HotPatterns Garden Party T.

The pattern is great. My fabric and trim are crap. I'll be trying this again in another fabric. One that doesn't hold static, doesn't flip up, and doesn't feel like wearing plastic. And this from a polyester-print-lovin' girl.

One more pair of black Hudsons for cooler weather. Love these. Wear them all the time. All. The. Time. This is the best black ponte ever. From Cali Fabrics. I'm not affiliated at all, I just love this fabric. Go buy some here.

Lastly, another Itch to Stitch Nottingham top and McCall's 7386 skirt.

I used my lowered neckline from last time.

I love my clapper when pressing neckbands, so they stay curved and flat.

I also added about an inch to this version of the top (first version here) on the lengthen/shorten lines and I like the length of this one.

Also did the "faux tie" thing again.

One last work bathroom selfie.

* * * * *
And now on a more somber note about why this December sucks. Many of you know that my marriage ended about 6-1/2 years ago. Very long story short, I was finally divorced two weeks ago, on December 5, here in Tampa. (My ex had been living in Virginia all these years but had flown down to Tampa for this.) After court, he drove to St. Augustine, where Tyler and Michael (my step) live. The three of them went to dinner that same night and while walking in the tourist areas of St. Augustine, my ex had a sudden and massive heart attack and passed away just minutes later. All of this is to say that it was huge shock and we're all pretty sad. (Luckily Alex did have dinner with him in Tampa the night before.) I couldn't decide whether it was appropriate to put this on the blog but all of my family has been on the blog at some point and so many of you have been there from the beginning so it feels like a kind of closure.

Friday, November 30, 2018

HP Nexus T-Shirt Dress

Happy End of November! And, yep, it's been a while. Again. I've sewn a number of things over the last few months and have at least one more blog post in the wings with photos loaded and waiting, so hopefully I'll get that published soon too.

Today, however, I'm going backwards and starting with what I made most recently. As in, last weekend. The photos are kind of meh and as usual include some from the work bathroom but … hey … that's me. So, let's get started. Spoiler alert — I'm not thrilled with this pattern.

The pattern is the HotPatterns Nexus T-Shirt Dress, pattern shown below. I bought the downloadable PDF version.

Pros for HP PDFs — no trimming. You just butt the edges and tape.

Cons - No layers, so in places you end up with a million indiscernible lines overlapping in place. And the pieces are not laid out with printer limitations in mind, so near the edges there is usually something missing. Mostly,  you can work around this. Sometimes, it's highly irritating. Also, for this particular dress, the front and back pieces are split into two sections that are to be taped together. Except, there is only one addition piece to be added to two base pieces. So you either have to print the addition pages again or trace the one you have. That itself isn't a huge problem but there's no mention of there being only one add-on piece instead of the two needed anywhere in the instructions so you could be caught out and feel a need to swear. Or is that just me? (That's the piece below.)

My photo above is after reworking the dress. This photo below is an in-progress shot before I reworked it. The main thing I want to point out is how twisted everything is. Is any of this twisting reflected in the line drawings above? Hint: No, it's not.

Below are what the pattern pieces look like. There is a center front seam and the ties are single-layer so the wrong side of them will show.

In the original design, the ties are supposed to overlap, kind of like a wrap dress, with one crossing your chest inside and being pulled tight and anchored into the side seam and then the "outside" tie connects to a "connector" tie sewn into the opposite side seam. But because the main ties originate from the center front, nothing lays nicely and it's a lumpy, droopy mess.

To salvage what was going to be a wadder, I removed the "connector" tie sewn from the side seam and then brought both real ties to the outside at the center front and tied them there. The whole dress lays so much better and the lower "skirt" isn't sticking between my legs.

The only thing I need to go back and fix is to sew the CF seam below the knot a little higher. You can see my black slip when I move the ties out of the way. The ties mostly cover the "hole," until the wind blows and they don't, so this is a fix I'll be making this weekend while I still have black thread in the machine.

Before I realized how much I hated the original design, I tried facing the tie, but it ended up way too thick so I removed it. (That's my Love Notions Forte hanging in the background below, which is the next blog post up.)

This is a really bad, small pic of the final tie with the facing removed and zigzagged 3/8" hem. I'm pretty sure you can't really see anything.

We had a cold snap here in Tampa this week, so this is how I really wore it, with a black RTW cardi and acid green tights.

While I like a lot of HotPatterns' designs and they were one of the pioneers in modern Indie patterns and deserve a high-five for still bringing it, I'm finding myself wishing they'd take on some of the features I've come to rely on from newer Indies. Such as photos of finished garments on a variety of bodies (heck, even ONE photo on a body instead of all drawings would be wonderful), great PDFs, and better instructions. I don't need hand-holding for assembly in the least, but I don't want to be scratching my head because something doesn't make sense or is wrong or is just plain missing. So by "better," I mean accurate. Speaking of missing, more notches and marks would also not be unwelcome. And finally, the elephant in the room is the completely bogus size chart and measurements. At first glance, it looks like there are a lot of useful measurements. Except if you use them to pick a size, you'll end up with a garment 4 sizes too big. And while I'm wishing, I'd also really like some finished garment measurements.I know if these things were offered, there'd be tons more customers for them, and I have a real interest in seeing HotPatterns stick around since I really do like nearly all of their designs.

Friday, July 27, 2018

One More Hot Patterns Classix Nouveau Primavera Dress

I last made this dress just about 1 year ago. I've worn it a LOT since. It's the perfect combination of great fabric, easy wear, easy care. Every time I wear it, I always tell myself to make another. I finally listened.

Another classy work bathroom selfie.

The pattern:

Bodice, in progress. Like last time, I fully lined the bodice to eliminate the facings. I also raised the neckline another 3/4". The last version is passable, but it still teeters on low-cut. Teeters. Hah. That's the only alteration I made to this version, having incorporated the incremental fixes from last time into my actual pattern pieces. It was nice to pretty much just cut and sew.

Lots 'o gathering at the front waist.

CB stripe matching like a BOSS! If you look close, you can see there's actually a seam in there.

Almost BOSSy matching at the side, but not quite.

I had a brain fart and forgot to match the pocket facing. The eagle-eyed among you will also notice that I didn't even attempt to match at the bodice side seams. Well, I did, but I cut either the front or the back in the opposite direction so what I thought was matching, really wasn't. Not a big deal since my hands are always either in the pocket or hanging next to it blocking the opening and my arms block the sides. And it's done and quite wearable, so there's that.

The 2-inch hem facing. I love wide facings. I don't always like slowing down and cutting out the extra pieces, but I'm always happy when I do.

More bathroom "glamour shots."

I'm glad to have this one in the wardrobe now too. I'm putting this pattern away for a little while, but I'm sure it will make another appearance at some point. Mindless dressing at 7 a.m. for hot Florida summer weather is what I'm all about these days.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Itch to Stitch Nottingham - My thoughts

How does so much time go by between posts?? I really always intend to post more often but then either my sewjo disappears or my blogjo (is that a thing?) does, or both. And then I make excuses to myself or figure no one wants to just read about my day-to-day, especially with no pics! But anyway ... here I am. And I sewed! (I thought this pic was both creepy and hilarious, in a 'The Shining' sort of way.)

This past Memorial Day Weekend was the most productive I've been in a short time in months! I made two tops and three skirts. Yay!

Today, I'm going to talk about the Nottingham top from Itch to Stitch. Link to pattern here (not an affiliate link).

This is the first Itch to Stitch pattern I've actually sewn. I've bought a few and downloaded the freebies and they are in my queue but see comment about sewjo above. Plus Magpie Syndrome. I know ... preaching to the choir! :-) But I love me a twisty top and so this one jumped into first position.

Overall, the pattern is good. The drafting is accurate, the price is very reasonable (especially if bought during the first week of release) compared to other Indies and non-sale Big 4, the PDF pages go together quickly (even quicker if you use the Itch to Stitch tutorial here), and the construction instructions are fine. But I do have some opinions I'll share below. Whoa Deb, you have an opinion? What a surprise! Hah. I crack myself up.

If like me, you really wanted to see what the pattern pieces for the twist look like, voila. The top section is just a basic tee, with all the twisty stuff going on near the bottom. The pattern is PDF only but available for large format and created with layers so you can print what you need. There are 33 pages for the whole thing and it took me about 20-30 minutes to assemble. I'm one that very much prefers PDFs over tracing.

I was hoping that I'd be able to quickly morph my TNT tee to this pattern, and that worked out very well. Truthfully, there aren't a huge number of differences between my TNT and this pattern, but there are enough, so why reinvent the wheel when I can just cut and sew, you know?

So my first "opinion" concerns the neckline. Kennis (the pattern designer) calls it a scoop neck. It is not a scoop. A look at the "tester" round-up pics will confirm that. It's a jewel neck. I do not like jewel necks on me. Which leads me to my next "opinion." It's pretty easy to offer additional neckline styles for simple knit tops (which this one is in the upper torso). A true scoop neck and vee neck would've been great inclusions. Not that I can't do this myself, but it just seems nicer to have the choices already in the pattern. I mean, it comes with three sleeve variations so why not a choice of necklines? For mine, I lowered the pattern neckline at least two inches. And as you can see by photos of me wearing it, it's nowhere near a low neckline even with those two inches removed. I also increased the width to open up the neckline even more.

I added a band, whereas the pattern is a "facing" turned outward to look like a band.

My next "opinion" is about the sleeve and armhole and sewing them together. Since I was using my TNT upper bodice, I also used my TNT armhole and sleeve. I like the armholes in my knit tops to be high and narrow (curving more inward at the upper chest than not). I do not want extra fabric across my chest nor below my armpit. The Nottingham armhole is lower than I like and it's also set wider under a wider shoulder seam. Many of the "tester" photos bear this out. I won't point out which ones specifically since maybe the wearer actually prefers hers that way. But I do see a trend that makes me wonder. Plus, I've seen the pattern. Hah.

What I will complain (and not just opine) about is that the instructions have you set in this sleeve like for a woven blouse. Why? And why is there so much asymmetry and height in the sleeve cap for a knit sleeve? My pink mark shows the sleeve pattern for the size I was sewing. In reality, I had traced my TNT sleeve and used that. You can see the difference. Yes, technically I'm sure the pattern sleeve works. But it's too much work when it doesn't need to be.

The sizing is generous. There is a lot of upper body ease to create the pretty draping toward the twist. Pay attention to the finished measurements and your fabric's characteristics. The measurement chart would have me in a 20. My TNT is closer to this pattern's 14-16 in the upper chest and I morphed to the 18 toward the hip and still have plenty of room and drape. The pattern's elbow-length sleeve is narrow. My TNT sleeve equates to roughly a size 20 sleeve for this pattern.

If you have a larger bust, you probably won't need an FBA but I would advise to add length to the front piece, tapering to nothing by the side seam. There are lengthen/shorten lines provided, which is a nice touch on such a weirdly shaped pattern piece. (You could also do a traditional FBA but you'd have to do it twice since the pattern piece is a full piece, not a cut-on-fold piece.) In fact, unless you're very petite with a smaller bust, I would suggest adding length all around. I'm 5'5" and the overall length of this top out of the "envelope" (off the printer?) is fine on me with a skirt, but would definitely be too short with pants (which I wear a little below my skirt waist). There are a lot of  inspirational "tester" pics on the pattern's release blog page but I wish there was more info about their height and about the whys of their size choices. I saw a number of length variances but no explanation. Next time, I'll likely add an inch.

One little addition I made, which you can see in the above and below pics, was to add a 'faux" tie. It's just a simple tube of fabric, about twelve inches long, pulled through the hole created by the twist. I think this balances and finishes the bottom edge. The tie will be more apparent when I wear this top with the solid navy skirt that also came out of the sewing room this weekend. The twist gives me a spot to hang my work pass, which you can see in the bathroom selfies below.

If you've read my blog for any time, you probably know my love for 2-piece dresses (aka top and matching skirt). I'm really happy with how this set turned out. The skirt is my trusty McCall's 7386, which is a cross between an A-line and trumpet skirt and is SO FAST to cut and sew. The separates will mix/match nicely with other pieces in my wardrobe.

Overall, I like this pattern a lot. I'll definitely be making it again soon. It's distinct enough to not want too many in my wardrobe, but a solid white will mimic a blouse nicely and another print will be a great weekend top. And maybe one with a vee neck, one with long sleeves for winter ..........