July 31, 2012

Thurlow II

I finished my second pair of Thurlow shorts yesterday, after dragging my feet for a week since I cut them out last Monday. I wasn't really sure how to proceed, size-wise, after making the first pair and tweaking them so much along the way. I kept careful notes of what I changed and where, but I just had a feeling that it wouldn't matter, and things would still be different the second time around. So even though I love my pink shorts, I was afraid to start again because I was sure that I would fail this time around. Is there any logic here? I'm not sure what the deal is- I'm just telling it like it is.

Polka dots! And roses!

So anyway, despite my apparent complete and total lack of sewing confidence, I finally managed to get these babies finished up, and I'm pretty happy with them. I cut this pair out of some polka dot cotton twill from an old collection of Lisette fabrics. I picked it up from the clearance section during a 50% off Red Tag sale for some ridiculous price like $2/yard.

Apologies for the squinty face. I was outside trying to get some light. July in Seattle is remarkably grey this year!

When I was trying to decide on a lining, I pulled out this yellow rose print (Tanya Whelan's Darla Rose in butter, in case you're curious) and it was love at first sight. Unfortunately, I only had a small, strangely shaped little chunk of it left over from another project, so it was a stretch to get all the pieces cut. They're mostly on-grain, but I only had enough to line one back welt pocket.

So one back welt pocket is all that these shorts got. But it turned out perfectly this time!

After the problems I had with tiny holes in the corners due to the loose weave on the pink pair, I decided to apply a rectangle piece of fusible tricot interfacing (Pellon Easy Knit) to the pocket area first (it extends about 1/2" in all directions past the welt opening) and it made a huge difference. Actually- that's not entirely true. I completely forgot that I had planned to interface at first. I sewed my welts on, cut the slit, and then realized that I had actually applied the welts to the wrong side of my fabric and had to completely redo the pocket. As I was ripping the stitches, I remembered that I had planned to interface the area, so my mistake actually allowed me to go back and do that. I would not have taken it all apart for interfacing otherwise, but I'm glad I remembered before I got it all reassembled. Now I know that it definitely does help these loose weaves behave better.

I totally used PicMonkey's wrinkle-fix on my crow's feet. Don't I look youthful?

Also, I was totally right about the fit being different this time around. This twill doesn't have as much stretch as the pink twill does, so I made this pair slightly larger than the pink ones. I started by transferring my changes from last time to my paper pattern, folding back the sides to match the amount I trimmed off the pink pair. Except when it came time to take 1 5/8" off the width at the inseam of the back pieces, I just couldn't bring myself to do it. It just sounded like so much, and I was really paranoid that they would end up skin tight.

So I took off just an inch instead, and then proceeded to put them all fully together (again)- not bothering to baste as I went to check the fit (again). And when I got them all finished (again) I realized that I totally should have taken off a little bit more. Perhaps not the whole additional 5/8", but at least a little bit. I don't know what I was thinking (or evidently NOT thinking) but oh well. They're done now, and they're not perfect, but they're totally fine.

There's a bit of weird bagginess under my butt, and I guess there are some "smile wrinkles" in the front, but nothing major. At least I don't think so, given that most of my ready-to-wear shorts really don't fit fit much better. I guess I might have a high tolerance for imperfect fitting pants, but doesn't everyone? I think it would have been better to take out slightly less in the hip to account for the less-stretchy twill. Perhaps that would have eliminated the wrinkling? Dunno.

I am sure that the difference in fit can be entirely chalked up to the difference in the amount of stretch in the two fabrics. I'm still pretty happy with how these came out, and think they'll be a cute addition to my summer wardrobe. Might try and squeeze in one more pair before we leave on vacation. Or maybe, if I'm feeling really adventurous- I might try to make a pair of Thurlow Capris. We'll see.

July 26, 2012

the Juniper bug

Yesterday little Juniper was five months old! As I am a terrible mother very busy and important person, I totally forgot to take a picture to document the day for posterity until I was falling asleep at 11:30 last night. Oops, today's close enough. So without further ado, here's my darling JuneBug at the ripe old age of five months plus one day:

She's all smiles and chubs- gotta love that!

It would appear that those blue eyes are here to stay. Never would have thought my brown eyed hubster and I could make a blue eyed baby. Genetics are neato!

And even though she might kill me for it someday, I just had to include this action shot of drool dripping down her chin post open-mouth Sophie kiss:

It's been a fabulous and crazy fast five months. We love you to the moon and back, little Junie Bear!

Back soon with more sewing fun! Thurlow Shorts II are nearing completion, with 100% more polka dots and 75% of the pockets.

July 16, 2012

Thurlow shorts!

They're done! And they're cute! I finished my Sewaholic Thurlow shorts on Friday, and I've already worn them twice. I even washed them in between wears, and they didn't fall apart. OMG, I totally made shorts!

And look at the cute stripey yellow lining! I love having that fun little detail inside. It's a Tanya Whelan Darla Ticking Stripe that was hanging out in my stash. The pink and yellow together reminds me of pink lemonade. They're just so fun for summer, right?

I found the bubblegum pink stretch twill at the thrift store. It was a huge 60" wide by 4 yard piece for $5.99, so I snapped it right up. I also got a two yard piece of stretch corduroy in the same color the same day. They had to have come from the same person's stash, right? I wonder what they had planned for them. I envision a crazy pink leisure suit. I used just about a yard to make these shorts, so I still have plenty left to make something else. Maybe some cute pink Clover capris? Or a Ginger? 

I've never made pants or shorts, and I wasn't even really sure that I would be able to, so I decided to just dive in and make these without making a muslin first. My fabric was so cheap and I had so much of it, I figured what the hell?! And after seeing so many struggles with getting the fit just right on Clovers around the world, I half expected to have to abandon these because of fitting woes that I wouldn't be able to solve. But Tasia said the back extension would make it easy to adjust the fit as I went, so I just went for it. That was sort of right, although if I was smarter I would have at least basted them together initially to make sure I was in the right ballpark size-wise. 

Since I didn't though, it wasn't until I got the waistband on that I finally got an idea of how these shorts were going to fit when they were done. And just so you know, the waistband is essentially the last step- just short of stitching the back extension closed, and then applying the belt loops. So once they were pretty much finished, I discovered that they were going to be way looser than I wanted them to be, especially through the butt and thighs. And, commence ripping!

I cut a size six based on my waist measurement, but I suspect that I'm not exactly Tasia's target market when it comes to shape. I don't have those womanly curvy hips that she designs for, and I'm probably better categorized as a rectangle than a pear shape. Point is, I ended up trimming a lot off of the hips and legs to get the fit that I wanted.

I started by pinning out the excess evenly, but the seams were shifting forward around my legs. Then I remembered Steph C's work on her stretch clovers, and how she reworked her seams to keep everything lined up vertically. To keep my side seams vertical and in the center of my leg, I ended up taking a lot of fabric off the back pieces (1 5/8" at the inseam, and 1/2" at the waist tapered out to 3/4" at the hem on the outside), and I took the front pieces down to just about the size two marks from the size six that I originally cut (slightly more through the hip). Voila! Straight seams, fitted shorts, and it wasn't even difficult! I'm pretty sure Tasia's a genius. And major props to all the sewing bloggers who pave the way for clothing sewing newbies like me to learn from your work.

So I reattached the waistband, and I stitched up the back extension pretty much right where it was drawn on in the pattern for the size 6. It's the teeniest bit gappy, but a tucked-in shirt and the belt take care of that. I could reopen the back extension and perfect the fit (which is, after all the whole idea behind it), but I'm done and I'm moving on.

I would really like to make another pair of these, and have some black polka dot linen that I think might be cute. Problem is, I'm not really sure what size to start with for the next pair, especially if the fabric isn't as stretchy as this pink twill. Should I cut all the way down to a two, or just cut the six again and remove the excess like I did this time? I'm thinking it would be safest to cut a four, and then grade down the legs again if I need to?

And one thing I might do differently next time is interface the body of the shorts where the welt pockets are. Do people do that? My fabric is so loosely woven that there are the tiniest holes at the corners where I clipped. I put a little dab of fray check on there, and I'm sure the holes are largely due to my inexperience with welt pockets in the first place. I should do a bit of research before I attempt them again. I know I've seen lots of good tutorials around the internet.

So- Thurlow shorts are a win! They look totally RTW to me, and I think it would be fun to play around with the details like adding some topstitching or maybe a little button and button loop on the back pockets. I'm going to check out my other shorts and see what I might be able to incorporate into a second pair.

If you still need it, you can pick up your own copy of the Thurlow Trousers and Shorts pattern here, along with the rest of the fabulous Sewaholic collection.

Have you made Thurlow? I'm excited to see the versions that are bound to be popping up all over the internets shortly.

July 14, 2012

Winner, winner, chicken dinner!

Dana! You're the winner! I'll email you for your address and get your sweet new lunch bag in the mail ASAP! Thanks to everyone who played along. We'll have to do that again sometime. Hope you're all having a lovely weekend. I'll be back here soon to show you my new Thurlow shorts. That's right, they're done! And dare I say, they're actually quite cute! Yippee!

July 12, 2012

the story of the $2 skirt

I found a cute little piece of plaid rayon challis in the clearance bin recently, and scooped it up thinking it would make a cute skirt someday. The bolt was marked $5/yd, and there was just over a yard left, so I bought it all. Then, when I got to the register, it actually rang up at just $1/yd, which officially makes this the deal of the month. I do love a bargain! So I brought it home and stuffed it in a drawer with the rest of my fabric stash that I don't have a real plan for, but the fabric was too cheap to pass up (which is, like, all of it). And then we watched Hoarding: Buried Alive. Seriously, do NOT watch this show if you have any tendency to keep things. I was anxious the whole time, and had an actual physical, visceral reaction to seeing all the mounds of crap in those homes. It took everything I had the next day to stop myself from pulling all nonessential things out of our house and trashing it all. I decided it was a good opportunity to channel some of that energy, and turned to my fabric to start busting through it. And with that, the $2 skirt was born.

I knew I wanted to take advantage of the plaid and make a bias cut skirt from my challis. The angles seemed more flattering when I held it up to myself in the mirror than when the plaid was running straight across my width. I have a simple bias cut skirt from Old Navy that I thought about copying, but I poked through my patterns to see if there was anything inspiring in there first. I found Simplicity 2059, a lisette pattern by Liesl Gibson.

I like the details: the skirt has two panels front and back, so I could make my plaid into a chevron shape, and the seam is off-center, so it's just a little more interesting. Turns out it was impossible to match the plaid all the way down the chevron (or at least that's what I'm telling myself) so I just focused on the white line, as that's what pops out at you. From far away, I don't think the mismatch is noticeable.

With just four seams and two darts, this skirt is super easy to make. I considered adding a lining, or drafting facings to use instead of the twill tape waistband that it calls for, or adding a separate, actual waistband to it; but in the end, I just made it up as designed. I mean, it's a twill tape waistband after all, and I do love me some twill tape.

Simple serged seams, no fancy business inside this $2 skirt. I couldn't resist adding a purple zip though. None of my brown ones were quite the right shade, so I decided to go with the lovely lavender instead.

The first photo above is how I'm wearing the skirt today. It's a little bit overcast and drizzly (welcome to July in Seattle), so I tried a light sweater with it. I like it, but I definitely had a more breezy and summery look like the one below in mind when I made it. It's a little counterintuitive, I suppose, with the brown and muted fall-ish colors, but the fabric is so light and airy, it really feels like summer to me.

Since it's cut on the bias, I did let it hang overnight before I hemmed it, to let the bias stretch and do its thing. But then I guess I made a mistake. I catch-stitched a 1 1/4" deep hem all around, after I finished the edges with my serger. I measured up from the bottom to fold up my hem, and it's longer in the front than in the back. This totally makes sense, I realize (now), as the pattern pieces are the same, and there's not a straight shot down in the back like there is in the front (hello, butt!). I don't think it's that noticeable, and the picture below doesn't really capture it like I thought it would. I know there are contraptions made to mark your hem while you're wearing your skirt, but I don't have one. I've always just kind of winged it.

Do you account for the difference your butt makes when you hem your skirts? Or is that typically built into the pattern piece if there's a front skirt and a back skirt piece, and not two of the same? How do you use those things that mark your hem? There's a hem marker on Milly, but I've never used it and don't know how. Perhaps I'll look into it.

Next up: Thurlow shorts! In pink! I've never made shorts (or pants). This could be interesting!

Also, there's still time to enter to win the snazzy pink lunch bag. The giveaway ends Friday!

July 10, 2012

it's a giveaway!

Remember these? They're the sweet little lunch bags I made with the Atkinson Designs Wine and Dine pattern. The blue jungle animal one is Lincoln's, and the pink one I made up as a sample to try out the pattern with laminated cotton inside and out.

And since I don't really need it for anything, I decided to give the pink one away to one of you lovely readers!

How jealous will your coworkers be when they see you carrying such a cute reusable lunch bag? Or will you be sweet and let your kiddo use it? I think the print is pretty versatile, so it could really work for any age. Might not be a big hit with a real manly-man, given all that pink, but I like it. Pink's my favorite.

So, what do you think? Would you like to have your very own happy pink lunch bag? Let's have ourselves a little giveaway! Use the nifty little rafflecopter thingy down there to enter. I'll gladly ship it anywhere in the world, so let's everybody join in on the fun!

What will you pack in it if you win? Ants on a log? Fishy crackers? Apple slices? Do those things have any traction beyond the preschool set?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

July 9, 2012

let's do lunch! (tips & tricks + a review of Wine & Dine)

My sweet baby boy took an exciting step last week when he started attending a new Montessori preschool. He's going five half-days a week now instead of just three, which is a big adjustment for both of us, to be sure. The biggest change for me though is that now he eats his lunch away from home. Away from me. Every day. I don't know why, but for some reason that simple fact makes me feel like he's growing up so fast! Lunch at school! With friends instead of mama! Eep. Mah baby!

But then I realized that he was going to need a box or bag for said lunch, and I'll admit that I got a little bit excited. I was totally the kid who loved shopping for school supplies every summer, but since Lincoln doesn't need a binder or fresh number two pencils (yet) I'll take my thrills where I can get 'em. I decided I would use this momentous occasion as a perfect excuse to try Wine and Dine, a very cute pattern from Atkinson Designs.

As you can probably glean from the photo above, Wine and Dine is a pattern for a bag. Two bags, actually- there's a wine-bottle sized one with a divider in the middle, so you can haul a red and a white along on your picnic (one for you and one for me, right?), and the shorter lunch-size bag. Both close with a zipper on top, and have clever pockets and extras built in. The wine bag has little side pockets for stashing a corkscrew, and the lunch bag has slots for silverware on one side and a drink-holder on the other. It's all very handy and well thought out.

The pattern recommends using laminated cotton or vinyl to make things easy to clean, which is a great idea, especially for a lunch bag. Although I chose to make Lincoln's bag with the laminate on the inside only, and put a cute cotton print on the outside. I also made one up with laminate on the inside and outside, just so I could see how it worked that way.

So anyway, I wanted Lincoln's bag to be cute and reflective of his age. He is still a preschooler, after all. There will be plenty of time boring navy when he's a sullen teenager. I'm embracing the jungle animals and bright colors while I can! I had a bit of this Alexander Henry Juicy Jungle print left over from something or another, and it matched up well with the colors in the Hop Dot laminated cotton that I have miles of and absolutely love.

The pattern recommends interfacing the fabric with a woven interfacing (like my fave: Pellon SF101) if you're not using a vinyl or laminate. I did that on the Juicy Jungle print, and it just gives a little extra structure to the bag without making it too stiff or hard to work with. It's important to note that it is recommended that you pre-wash SF101 to avoid shrinkage, as it is 100% cotton. I didn't do that because I'm lazy, but I also don't expect to be washing and drying this thing much. Hopefully a wipe-down will suffice, and if it gets super dirty I'll try to remember not to dry it. We'll see how that works out...

One thing that I wish I would have thought of while I was making it and not the very next morning (naturally), is that this lunch bag would be the perfect place to use a layer of Insul-Bright. It's not just for potholders and other places where heat needs to be redirected- it's also useful for keeping cold things cold. So duh. Next time I will try adding a layer of Insul-Bright (I would just cut it the same size as the lining pieces) and I'll report back if I have anything to add.

I really love patterns like this where everything goes together perfectly like a puzzle. This bag is perfectly drafted so that the pieces just fall into place and it comes together really smoothly and easily. I wasn't expecting the construction method either- it's smart and looks super professional, but it's also really easy to make.

The bag is a pretty good size- it's not so big that's it's silly for a preschooler to carry, and fits the Rubbermaid sandwich kit that I found pretty well. I'm tempted to adjust the sizing to make it fit the kit perfectly, but I'm a little bit neurotic like that. My one complaint is that I feel like maybe it should have more substance, although there's no real good reason for that. Adding the Insul-Bright or even a layer of fusible fleece would make the it feel more like a commercial lunch bag, but even without it, it's still stronger than a regular old brown paper bag and infinitely cuter.

Alright, so moving along- here are a few things that I learned and/or tried while sewing up these two bags, that I think might be helpful to someone setting out to make one.

I stitched up both bags using a Teflon foot, a topstitching needle, and a 2.5mm stitch length. The pattern suggests the foot and the stitch length, and I think that's good advice. I have a walking foot too, but with this pattern I think the Teflon foot is easier to maneuver. The pattern actually calls for a sharp (needle), but I'm out, so I improvised. A topstitching needle has a sharp point too (as opposed to the slightly blunted end on some needles- lest you think I'm losing my mind by suggesting that a sewing machine needle isn't, indeed, sharp) and I found that it worked great. I got nice even stitching lines and the needle handled the multiple layers of laminated cotton like a champ.

I was having some issues with shifting layers as I was completing the stay-stitching steps, but I remedied that right quick with a pass of my Sewline glue pen. I just traced a layer around the edge and stuck the pieces together, which is much better than trying to pin through laminated cotton. I've also had success in the past with a basting spray on laminated cotton (like 505), and I frequently use the old Wonder Tape as well. I'm totally over pinning it and hoping for the best, because whenever I stitch with laminated cotton the layers always seem to move through my machine at different rates, and it's not that the laminate doesn't stretch (which is what you might think- but it's more like regular cotton than oilcloth). It does, but you can't stretch and ease a seam without puckers like you might be able to with some other materials. Anyway- the point is that glue basting is your friend here. I used it in steps B and E.

On step P, at first I was a little confused as to which way to turn. You've just completed sewing the binding onto the bag front in step O, which is pictured below:

and then you turn the bag so that the bottom of the bag is facing up on your machine and stitch along the bottom edge. It will look like this:

Then turn it again, and stitch up the back. It totally made sense once I did it, but I'm spatially challenged and the directions just said "turn the bag" which for me wasn't quite enough the first time around.

I would also like to suggest stitching the bottom binding first in the second half of step P, and then stitching the sides. This gives you a nice symmetrical appearance, instead of one side with the fold on top and one side with the fold on the bottom. See here:

If you start at the top on one side, then stitch down, then over, then up, you're not going to end up with the finish you see above. But that's just a personal preference thing though, and either way would work.

So there you go- I think Wine and Dine is a win. I'm not sure that I would necessarily make the wine bag, except maybe for a cute gift presentation, but I predict that the lunch bag will be handy for school lunches for many years to come. And this construction method is adaptable to a bag of any size or shape, so I can see using the pattern as a jumping off point for cute little cosmetic bags or even for larger tote size bags.

Cute, eh? Would you like one of your very own? Well, watch this space for a giveaway very soon!

July 3, 2012

Now I know why they're called webmasters

Well friends, I think it might be safe to say that we made it. (Hooray!)

As you're probably well aware, the internet is a large and complicated place, and turns out it's really best navigated with the guidance of a professional. As I don't personally know anyone with the right skill set, and I couldn't afford to hire anyone, this was a lesson that I learned the hard way.

Over the last month I broke my blog, I lost my email, I had to manually update about a hundred links on flickr alone, and I'm fairly sure I lost all muscle tone in my lower extremities from sitting here like a lump in my computer chair coding for hours at a time. However, I did manage to teach myself a little something about CSS and HTML in the process (like, a super tiny amount- just enough to not thoroughly and permanently screw things up), and I've become more familiar with Photoshop and Illustrator too. Yay for learning and growing and all that good stuff!

And now thanks to the talented designer who occupies the other half of this giant desk sometimes (my darling hubby David), I have a fully redesigned blog, updated etsy graphics, matching avatars/favicons/profile pics/etc for twitter, pinterest, google +, facebook and all the other places I hang out virtually. It's a completely seamless twilltape experience these days! Woo to the hoo! And then, of course, there's the piece de resistance:

the brand new shop!

This shop is the realization of a dream that's been a long time in the works, and I couldn't be more excited to see where this journey takes me. I hope you'll stop by and say hi, sign up for the newsletter, or send me a note and let me know what you think. And now through the end of July, save 20% on everything in the shop with the coupon code CELEBRATE. It's just my way of saying thank you for cheering me on, and for being so patient while I muddle through this stuff that's really better left to the pros.

Happy sewing!