Saturday, October 6, 2018

Autumn Vibes Lark Tee

In September I took my first sewing class at a local fabric shop, The French Seam. Over the course of two, three hour long sessions each participant made their own Lark Tee. I was excited for the opportunity to learn a few additional tips and tricks about sewing with knits and was glad I took the class.

I decided to make the v-neck version with long sleeves, which seemed fitting for the autumnal themed fabric I selected, Floral Glow in Twilit by Art Gallery Fabrics. Thankfully sewing with a group of other women allowed us the opportunity to tissue fit our pattern pieces before cutting our fashion fabric. I traced my pattern pieces onto medical exam paper and cut out a size six.

Right off the bat our instructor Deb suggested something radical, sewing knits with a universal needle and a straight stitch. Deb and I agree that a straight stitch looks more professional, so I was game to try it! According to Deb's experience a longer straight stitch is more elastic than smaller, packed stitches. The heavier the fabric, the longer the stitches. I used a medium weight knit with a 3.0 stitch length. It is also important not to use too high of a speed while sewing the garment.

Since this fabric has a fairly obvious directional print, but the pattern pieces didn't have notches on the sides, Deb suggested that I trace the motif on my pattern to get good alignment when cutting out my fabric. This tip worked well and I will definitely be using it again in the future!

Before doing anything else I marked the stitch line of the v-neck and added a line of stay stitching just inside the stitch line. This is only the second v-neck t-shirt I've made, so I was glad to have Deb's assistance. It turned out better than my first one, but I hope to get it more crisp in the future. Thankfully the pattern of the fabric helps to camouflage this slightly less than crisp neckline.

I used stay tape in the shoulder seams and in the bottom hem. I stitched 1" knit stay tape, glue side up, to the bottom of the shirt. Then I turned the hem up, ironed it in place, and topstitched it. A few additional things I learned from Deb about ironing are to not wiggle my iron while ironing as it could stretch and misshape the garment and create wrinkles somewhere else. I also had the opportunity to use a wood clapper to set my seams after ironing.

I really like the Lark Tee and will definitely make this pattern again. Next time I make it I plan to grade the pattern to a size four at the waist for a slightly more fitted t-shirt. I can see a closet full of Lark Tees in my future!

Time estimate: 6 hours
Size: 6, long sleeve v-neck
Material used: 95% cotton, 5% spandex
Care instructions: machine wash cold, tumble dry low

Cost to make:
class - $65
pattern - $18
fabric - $25, 1.5 yards
thread - $2
TOTAL: $110 plus tax

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Halifax Hoodie

Near the end of last month my Instagram feed started to fill up with a bunch of gorgeous Halifax hoodies. I have had my eye on this pattern for a while, and seeing all the other gorgeous makes was just the motivation I needed to make my own!

I had originally envisioned making a cowl neck version of the hoodie in a navy blue french terry with drawstrings, until I found this gorgeous dimensional gray knit at JoAnn. Since this fabric does have a pattern I had to be thoughtful of how I cut it out and assembled it. Luckily this wasn't a directional pattern and I didn't need any extra fabric. In this version I opted not to add the drawstrings for a more polished look.

It was a very quick make with a fresh ball point needle and my walking foot. I can't believe I waited this long to try my walking foot. It wasn't as intimidating as I thought it would be to attach and use and I will definitely be using it more regularly in the future.

I'm thrilled with how this make turned out, although I wish the cowl was slightly more relaxed. I left the sleeves long so I wouldn't have the chance of any exposed skin in the cold winter months, but will probably shorten them a bit in the future as well. I will certainly make this pattern again, likely in a variety of styles!

Time estimate: 4 hours
Size: small, view D
Material used: 50% cotton, 46% polyester, 3% spandex, 1% metallic
Care instructions: machine wash gentle cycle, cold, non-chlorine bleach, line dry, cool iron

Cost to make:
pattern - $10
fabric - $24, 2 yards
*thread from my stash
TOTAL: $34

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Favorite Tee

The aptly named "favorite tee" is my first Patterns for Pirates make and it certainly won't be my last!
My wardrobe recently had both black and light brown RTW t-shirts similar to the long sleeved, curved hem top which were cheaply made and needed to be replaced, so I made this wearable muslin to test the pattern and was very happy with the results.

This pattern was extremely quick and easy to assemble. The most difficult part of completing this garment was finishing the curved hem. I used twin needles, at about 1/2" from the unfinished edge, with tear-away stabilizer to reduce tunneling. I am happy with the finished results, although it is a bit nerve wrecking to hem so close to the cut edge of my fabric from the top!

Next time I make a favorite tee I will probably shorten the neckband slightly; this one seems a bit too big and doesn't lay as flatly as I would like it to. I can't wait to make a few more versions of this top with that one slight adjustment!

Time estimate: 2 hours
Size: small
Material used: knit blend, pre-washed and dryed
Care instructions: machine wash gentle cold, tumble dry low, cool iron

Cost to make:
pattern - $9 + cost of paper, ink and tape to print and assemble 
fabric - gifted
*thread from my stash
TOTAL: estimated $10

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Bell Sleeve Pullover Top

I am so proud of my newest make, McCall's M7542, a trendy bell sleeved pullover blouse in blue and white striped shirting. This top is one of my favorite makes this year and I can certainly see myself making a few more yet this fall. And best yet, this is one of the patterns I won from the #royalweddingsewalong; thanks McCall's!

I cut out a standard size eight and added two inches to the length of the bodice. I love the fit of the finished garment and it is the perfect transitional, summer to autumn top. The fabric is light and airy with a nice drape and with the right and wrong sides of the fabric so similar the inside of the bell sleeve is just a cute as the outside.

For all the great qualities of this fabric it is also a bit opaque and you can see the neck facing through the front of the top which is one of my least favorite aspects of the garment. When I make it again I may try a bias binding neck facing instead for a more minimal outward appearance.

I found most of the curved sections of the pattern a bit difficult but manageable with much pinning, ironing, and hand basting. Setting in the sleeve was more challenging for me on this project than it has been in the recent past, feeling like there was just too much fabric to slightly gather into the armscye. With so much gathering the serged seam finish was effective but not very pretty. At least I had a cute companion!

As I said, I'm thrilled with this top and plan to wear it all fall. What are your favorite transitional pieces?

Time estimate: 6 hours
Size: 8
Material used: shirting, 68% cotton, 28% nylon, 4% spandex
Care instructions: machine wash gentle cold, non-chlorine bleach, tumble dry low, cool iron

Cost to make:
pattern - free to me
fabric - $13
*hook and eye, thread from my stash
TOTAL: $13

Saturday, August 11, 2018

The Great Big Pattern Swap

I recently participated in the #greatbigpatternswap, sending two patterns to other sewers and receiving two new-to-me patterns in the mail. I love the idea behind this swap; patterns are easy and inexpensive to mail and you get to meet other fabulous sewers all while curating a library patterns that better align with your wardrobe goals!

Each of the patterns I received were still uncut, so I got to work right away cutting them out while I asked my Instagram friends which pattern I should try first. By the time I was ready to cut into my fabric, Simplicity 1716 was in the lead by a hair. I just love the cowl neckline of views D, E, and F and had enough floral knit fabric leftover from a pair of leggings I made earlier this year that I was able to get to work right away.

The pattern called for stay tape in the shoulder seams and although I knew about this technique before making this top, I think it is the first time I used stay tape in one of my own garments. I've worn the top twice so far and the should seams are holding up well. Adding the stay tape didn't complicate the project in any way and I can see myself using it all other knit tops in the future.

I love how the back neck and arm facings turned out, although the armscye is a bit big for me. In the future I may try to slightly reduce the armscye and slightly elongate the cowl as some of the wrong side of the fabric can peak through from time to time. All in all, this pattern was a super fast sew and I loved the results. I can see adding a number of these tops into my regular work wardrobe rotation! Now to make time to sew my second new pattern...

Time estimate: 2-4 hours
Size: 12
Material used: knit print, 97% rayon and 3% spandex
Care instructions: machine wash cold, gentle cycle, line dry, cool iron as needed

Cost to make leggings:
pattern - free to me, approximately $3.50 to mail one pattern to other participant
*fabric and thread from my stash
TOTAL: $3.50