Slithering in late to the party…

I love  Jungle January! I stalk Pretty Grievances all January to see the jungle-inspired creations of other sewing bloggers. Last year I was a tad late. This year, I’m even later…

Everything about this make is late. I purchased the fabric at Joann’s last January and intended to make a top out of it.

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Life got in the way and I changed my mind about the top. I went with a classic wrap dress instead. There are a lot of wrap dress patterns out there and I have become obsessed with trying to score one of the original 1970s Diane von Furstenberg wrap dress patterns. For now, Butterick 5454 does the job.

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It’s tough to tell on the pattern envelope, but the dress has some tuck detailing at the shoulders and the hips on both the front and back of the dress. I really like the hip tucks because they provide some ease for those of us with curves. The only modification I made was to the sleeve length. I made up view B and extended the sleeves to make long sleeves rather than elbow length.

Here it is…

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I was home visiting my parents this weekend and my mom snapped these before my fiance and I headed out to dinner with some friends. She’s not the best with the iPhone camera and I’m not the best model, so this is as good as it gets.

Side view:

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Back view:

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The knit was really easy to sew. I LOVE sewing with knits. They are so forgiving. I used my walking foot and fusible knit tape on all the hems.

Based on my measurements, I should have made up the 14. It looked about right on my cutting mat, but once I basted everything together, it was massive- we’re talking tent-like ginormous proportions. I ended up cutting the entire dress down to about a size 10. Maybe a less stretchy knit would require a bigger size, but in this material, my suggested size was really off.

After a night of decadent food and drinks, the dress was still comfortable. It passed the out-on-the-town test. Now, I’m debating it’s work appropriateness. I was just offered a job (very excited!) and I’d love to wear it to work in the near future. The fabric has a bit of sparkle to it, but maybe with black tights I can pull it off.

I will definitely make another. There is some black jersey in my stash and a blue and white knit that I think will end up as wrap dresses. Next time, I’ll cut the smaller size. I think I may try different sleeve variations, too. I’m not a fan of the bell sleeves, but the flutter sleeves might be nice. I also think I’ll add an extra inch or two at the neck so I don’t have to wear a cami under the dress. It’s fine for winter, but in warmer months, the less layers, the better.

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When teachers get together, we just can’t help ourselves…

… we teach! So, when my favorite partner-in-crime and fellow teacher, M, enjoyed a visit from her younger sister this summer, we decided to teach her how to sew. We pulled out the shears and threads and had a girly day of garment making.

M mugging for the camera

M mugging for the camera

Her sister, A,  is a high school student, but holds her own really well with us… err… mature ladies. While we sewed, we drank lots of tea and took a pizza break.

A has some sewing experience. As a drama student at her high school involved with the school’s theatrical productions, A was familiar with using sewing machines for costumes and props, but had never attempted to make something she could wear off of the stage. M took her to our local JoAnn’s before heading to my place to select a pattern and some fabric. Here’s what they purchased:

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A wanted to try view E and selected some sparkly knit fabric.

M helping with some seam ripping

M helping with some seam ripping

A took to the sewing machine like a fish to water. We were impressed- no need to practice sewing straight lines. She worked that knit like a pro!

A showing off her inherent sewing skills

A showing off her inherent sewing skills

While A learned how to read a pattern and construct a garment, I learned something new, too. The pattern calls for a bias tape finish at the hems. I usually just turn my knit hems with stay tape, but M showed us both how to do a knit hem with regular old bias tape. It wouldn’t work on a hem that needs to stretch, but for the top part of this shirt, it was perfect.

IMG_1254I think the process took a lot longer than A expected, but she stuck with it. Here’s the final result:

A in her finished top

A in her finished top

Fabulous, right?! The darker spots on the top are due to my apartment’s bad evening lighting. The differences in tone are very gradual in person.

I was reminded of why I love to sew when she put on the top and it fit perfectly. I don’t think I’ll ever tire of the thrill of making (or in this case helping to make) something that is a perfect fit. A did a neat job. No one would know it’s not ready-to-wear. She seemed very pleased and started wearing it immediately (obviously).

M and I both agree the pattern isn’t really written for beginners. I’m not sure A could have pulled this off on her own. I’m certain I couldn’t have done it a year ago when I started sewing. It’s not terribly complicated, but there were a few bits of the construction we had to stop and wrap our heads around.  Overall, it is a great summer pattern and comes together pretty quickly if you have a little experience under your belt.

I would love to repeat this next summer, but now that I’ve moved, it won’t be happening unless I head back south for a vacation, too. Actually, that doesn’t sound like a bad excuse for a visit…

 

Finished projects: A cozy knit jacket, an icky v-neck, and a chunky scarf

Knit Jacket (Butterick B5789)

Brrrr… it’s cold here in Florida this weekend. Perfect weather for my Saturday sewing project, a comfy knit jacket!

Butterick B5789. I made up view B.

Butterick B5789. I made up view B.

I purchased this pattern during the winter holidays with the intention of created view “B.” I bought some thick moss green knit fabric for the jacket, but both pattern and fabric sat on my shelf for a few weeks while I figured out how to work with knits through the Craftsy.com Sewing with Knits course. I started sewing this up around noon yesterday and finished around midnight. It would have taken way less time if I had not had to reinsert the sleeves about a thousand times each. Even using basting stitches, sleeve insertion was not pretty. The sleeve has a sort of pointed oval shape due to darts defining the shoulders.

The sleeve darts- they look lux and reinforce the shoulder.

The shoulder darts- they look lux and reinforce the shoulder.

They look lovely on the finished garment, but made the sleeve an awkward shape to insert into the sleeve opening. (I also took breaks for meals, snacks, and playing with/shooing the cat  out of my sewing materials. For some unknown reason she is obsessed with my seam ripper. She loves trying to bat it around the table, on the floor, etc.)

Here is the finished jacket:

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Me- headless in my new jacket.

An attempt to show the side/back of the jacket

An attempt to show the side/back of the jacket

I cut the small. The only alteration I made was to the sleeves. They were too short, so I added an extra bit of fabric to give it a cuffed look. It’s not perfect, but I think it looks okay.

Through this make, I learned that the stretch stitches on my machine are okay after all (I wasn’t happy with them after my last project). I think the problem had been the fabric and not my machine. For this jacket, I used a sort of basket weave-looking stitch (I have no idea if it has a name…). It is super stretchy and, since I can’t use a double needle, I think it looks pretty along the hem of the jacket. It gives it a nice finished look.

The stretch stitch

The stretch stitch

The finished jacket is incredibly comfortable. It covers my bum, so I think I will wear it a lot with leggings and boots.

The v-neck t-shirt

Oh, ick. Just ick. I created the second knit top in the Craftsy.com Sewing with Knits course, a v-neck t-shirt, and the pattern is all wrong for me. I don’t tend to wear v-necks because they nearly always hit my chest at a bad spot giving the world quite a peek at my cleavage. This v-neck was no exception. I’d have to wear a tank under it and I hate having to do that. It’s too hot in Florida to layer tops! So, I did not take any photos of this make and I doubt I’ll ever wear it. Since I adore the scoop neck t-shirt I made from the course (and have worn it several times already), I’m going to chalk this one up to style and move on.

Chunky scarf

Although I didn’t get much sewing done during the week, I did work on the scarf for my brother’s birthday. I finished it late Friday night.

It clashes with my top, but you get the idea...

It clashes with my top, but you get the idea…

The design is called “man scarf” and I found it through Ravelry.com.  I widened the scarf by eight stitches and kept going until it was long enough to double and wrap around my neck comfortably.

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My brother has been doing a lot of snow boarding recently, so while this isn’t the sort of  scarf he’ll want to wear on the slopes, I think it will be nice when he’s back at the lodge with the guys enjoying a few beers. His birthday isn’t until May, so maybe I can figure out how to make a matching hat by then?

Yarn used: Bernat Alpaca Natural Blends in tomato. I used 2 and 1/2 skeins.

Time until completion: About a month. I worked on it a bit at a time each night after work.

Up next on my sewing table and on the knitting needles?

I have all that lovely plum yarn from a shopping trip a few weeks ago… I think it’s time to make a scarf for me!

This afternoon, I cut the pattern for a silky top with a warm weather vibe. I hope to get started on it this evening.

Late to the party…

My Jungle January sewing project is finished… in February. Oops.

IMG_0582I apologize for the truly terrible pictures. Snapping photos is tough when you live alone and your cat doesn’t have thumbs (I’m quite convinced she would help me out if she could).

This top was the second clothing item I created with the materials and instructions provided by the Sewing with Knits class I purchased on Craftsy.com a while ago. It proved more complicated than the fleece hoodie I first made for the course. As I mentioned in my last post, the neckline of this top gave me fits and the hemming was a disaster.

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The finished neckline isn’t half bad…

I discovered that my machine isn’t compatible with a universal twin needle and my stretch stitch options are terrible. My machine has several “stretch stitches,” but they looked awful when I used them on this fabric. Despite fiddling with the tension, the stitches kept pulling the fabric and causing it to bunch up. It looked generally horrid. My machine won’t let me adjust stitch length which may be part of the problem. Since I couldn’t get any of the “stretch stitches” to work, I stuck with a zigzag stitch. It works, but isn’t as professional a finish as I would like. The finished arm band is below. The hem around the body of the shirt looks the same.

My arm- very close up!

My arm- very close up!

In order to tame the fabric so I could hem it, I used ultra-light Stitch Witchery fusible bonding web. The knit tape I ordered online hasn’t yet arrived, so when I found Stitch Witchery at the fabric store, I decided to give it a go. To my amazement, it worked and enabled me to sew up an even hem. 

I wore this shirt today to conduct some focus group interviews for a research project and felt pretty darn good in it. The fabric is very soft (I think the best way to describe it is an ultra-light sweater weight) and I love the leopard spots. When I mentioned to a friend at lunch I had made my top, she was appropriately impressed.

I have enough of this fabric left over to create another shirt. I’m going to try the next knit piece in the course, a v-neck t-shirt in the same fabric. I think I’ll make it up with short sleeves for a look that is a bit more casual.

In knitting news:

I am nearly done with the scarf I have been making up for my brother. My next knitting project will involve increasing and decreasing stitches. I think it’s time I learned how to do more than just knit and purl. Plum colored yarn will be involved…

Hemming knits… GAH!

Today, I tried to create a second item from the Sewing with Knits class on Craftsy.com: the scoop necked t-shirt with 3/4 sleeves in a roaring leopard print knit. It’s still a work in progress…

This photos is incredibly unflattering. The shirt is actually super cute.

This photos is incredibly unflattering. The shirt is actually super cute.

After making up the hoodie in an afternoon, I was optimistic about how easily and quickly the t-shirt would come together. It wasn’t quite as simple as I’d expected. The sleeves and sides sewed up quickly, but the neckline was a nightmare. I sewed it up and ripped it out six times. It sagged and went in unevenly. I’m not sure if it was due to the type of knit fabric I used or if having such problems is typical when working with knits. Either way, I was really hating that neckline.

The finished neckline isn’t perfect. There are some spots where it is stretched out a bit, but overall, I think it looks okay. The fit of the shirt is fabulous. I cut the extra small due to the fact the small hoodie was a bit big. It was a good call on my part and I love the way it fits.

I’m done except for hemming the bottom and the sleeves. I tried to hem the bottom and this happened:

Uneven hem disaster

Uneven hem disaster

More seam ripping ensued.

Meg, the course instructor, suggests using a knit stay tape to stabilize hems. I thought I could get away without buying any. Obviously, the hem is not a place to cut corners. I ordered the tape she recommends, fine fusible knit stay tape from SewKeysE. Now I have to wait for it to arrive. (sigh) I am not known for my vast quantities of patience.

Even if I had the stay tape in hand, I wouldn’t be able to finish this project. I’m nearly out of black thread! A trip to the fabric store has been added to the errand list for tomorrow.

Oops!

Oops!

I was hoping to dazzle in my new shirt this week, so I’m disappointed it isn’t finished. I am, however,optimistic the stay tape will solve my hem problem and I will have a lovely new shirt to add to my wardrobe.

Crochet hearts and purr-fect fabric

Today, I learned how to create crochet hearts.

My first crochet heart

My first crochet heart

How cute is that? Since Valentine’s Day is over, I wasn’t sure at first what I should do with the heats I create. Then, I decided to use them as decoration for wrapped gifts. My boyfriend’s birthday is right around the corner. Guess who’s gifts will be decorated with yarn hearts?

I learned how to create them by watching this fabulous video posted by Little Birdie Secrets.

Isn’t it fabulous?! Even a super novice like me was able to follow along and experience success. The ladies at Little Birdie Secrets are good. Their site is awash with wonderful little crafty ideas. I highly suggest you visit.

I took a break from crochet hearts to cut some fabric for my Sunday morning sewing project:

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It’s a lovely knit I purchased with the intention of participating in Petty Grievances‘s Jungle January. Unfortunately, January came and went before I could  get around to the project. Oh well… I really love the fabric and am excited to get my machine humming tomorrow. Obviously, Millie (my furry sewing buddy) approves. The fabric passed the cat-comfort test.

Sewing with knits: Sweatshirt success!

A month or so ago, I discovered Craftsy.com and I am now a HUGE fan. I looked around locally for apparel sewing classes and found only a few quilting workshops. Through some random googling of “sewing classes,” I discovered Craftsy.com. I was immediately excited. Craftsy offers asynchronous online classes in a variety of crafty areas, including apparel making! The classes aren’t terribly expensive, have good user reviews, and appear to be taught by experts in the field. The first sewing class I viewed, Sewing with Knits, looked like a winner. I found an online coupon code and $15 later, I was printing out five different knit patterns and getting ready to watch the first in a long series of “how to” videos hosted by Meg of Sew Liberated.

Since my schedule is pretty crazy (working from 8am to 12am is normal- urgh!), I have very slowly watched video lessons and gathered supplies for the projects featured in the course. I finished the first project this weekend, a fleece hoodie, and I am crazy proud of myself!

Trying on my new comfy weekend sweatshirt

Trying on my new comfy weekend sweatshirt

I cut the size small and didn’t alter it. I probably should have gone with the extra small as this is a little big, but I like the fact it covers my bum when I wear leggings and is roomy enough to layer over a sweater. I bought the fabric Meg suggested, a natural organic cotton from Near Sea Naturals. It was a bit pricy, but it did wash and dry well and has a lovely soft feel. Unfortunately, it’s been about 80 degrees this week, so I haven’t been able to wear it yet.This might sit in a drawer until my next trip north.

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MIllie inspected the finished garment .

MIllie, my furry sewing companion, inspected the finished garment.

The course itself is such a pleasure. Meg’s teaching background is obvious- both the video lessons and resource materials are clear, concise, and generally user-friendly.

The only thing about the course that worried me was Meg’s personal style. She’s eco-chic. She recommends organic fabrics and her finished products have a slightly hippy vibe. It works well for her, but while I love the environment as much as the next girl, there isn’t anything “eco” about my style. Since I went with her fabric recommendation, I think my finished sweatshirt is a bit on the granola side, but I still like it. It’s just sooo comfy! The next two projects are t-shirts. For these, I purchased knit fabrics at Joann’s that aren’t organic and probably weren’t created in an environmentally friendly way, but they are more representative of my usual style. Based on how easy the sweatshirt was to make by following Meg’s instructions, I am really excited to try the t-shirts. If only I didn’t have hours of work to do…