Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A trio of easy knit pieces

A couple of evenings, three easy knit pieces. All from stash. Yay stash sew-down!

This is difficult to see, but this is a purple t-shirt. I need to start taking pictures in better light. The t-shirt is BWOF 09-2010-121. Three pattern pieces, easiest pattern ever.

A top and a dress from BWOF 12-2008-113/114. I've made this pattern a ton of times (here, here and here.)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Me-Made-March Days 23-28

Another week, more catch-up photos. I've decided it's a lot easier doing this in chunks vs. daily, in any case.

Day 23 (Wednesday):
I got a ton of compliments on this shirt. The silk cotton fabric is really pretty!
Shirt: McCalls 6035
Skirt: BWOF 12-2009-112

Day 24 (Thursday):
Lazy dressing. This feels as comfortable as sweatpants, but is a slight upgrade.
Black pants - McCalls 5890
Red flowered t-shirt - BWOF 02-2008-123.

Day 25 (Friday):
Talk about low-effort. Pull out pants from yesterday, add twinset to it. Be dressed in less than 5 minutes. It was Friday, what can I say?
Flowered twinset - the inner shell is McCalls 4923 (now OOP, I never reviewed the inner shell on the blog, only because I still need to put buttons on the cardigan.)
Cardigan, some basic t-shirt pattern, can't remember which one.
Black pants - McCalls 5890
With a purple scarf, to make it different from the almost-identical outfit I wore in Day 15.

Day 26 (Saturday):
One of the rules about de-cluttering is to pack things away, and then never open the boxes again, right? Yeah, I failed that rule. Way back during a rather ruthless closet purge, I'd packed a box filled with clothes. I never did drop them off at a reuse center, and on Saturday, I opened the box to find this dress. I promptly pulled it out and wore it. De-cluttering fail.
Dress: McCalls 5699

Day 27 (Sunday):
I spent most of my day in my nightclothes. Bad Reethi. I did get out of them in order to go to a local bar to swap beer with a fellow beer geek, and I wore this green dress for that. It has become a bit snug (yes, the gym, I hear it exists), and I was pretty happy to get out of it post-beer-swap. No pictures though.

Day 28 (Monday):
The skirt was a super-easy project from a thrift-store fabric find. I think I made it in Dec 2010? Jan 2011? Not long ago. The fabric was all pleated, and the directions had me either add elastic or a waistband to it. I opted for a waistband and an invisible zipper, but it still was a super quick project. The length is a bit longer than my usual skirt length, only because the hem was pre-serged, and if I want to shorten it, I'll have to hem it, and I'm just too lazy, let's be honest here.
Grey t-shirt: Simplicity 4076.
Skirt: No pattern used, as described above.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Pants update

Now with pictures!

From my last pants post, you guys might have figured that I was determined to sew a pair of pants that would fit. And I was. The day before I left on vacation, I pulled out some fabric, and Simplicity 2700 (the Amazing fit pants) and got to work.

Informal analysis of my previous version of these pants revealed that the crotch was way too low on the pants, even though I cut my standard size 12 (average). Plus, it was just loose and baggy all around, not a look I was going for.

This pattern has slim, average and curvy pieces, and so I thought I'd try the slim next. (Side note: I am many nice things, but I am not slim. Simplicity, you are smoking crack.) At the waist and hip, I cut my usual size 12 out. I transitioned to the crotch curve of the size 8, and transitioned to the upper leg size of 10, tapering down to an 8 (or was it 10? I'll pull the pattern sheets out again and look.)

I had learned my lesson about pant muslins, so the fabric I pulled out was completely something I was willing to waste. I cut out just the leg pieces, and did a quick baste. Trying it on showed - it actually fit! Woo hoo.

(And then I went to San Francisco.)

When I came back, I decided to actually finish the pants. Also, I decided I needed to learn how to line pants (I won't buy unlined woolen pants, so why would I sew one?), so I cut out the rest of the pattern pieces, and lining, and got to work.

Progress has been slow, but last night, I got it almost finished. All that remains is to make a buttonhole and sew a button, and hem pants and lining.

But alas, when I tried it on last night, once the lining and waistband was in, the pants were just a trace too tight. Now, this could have been because of the incredible amount of yummy dumplings I ate for dinner, but since eating incredible amounts of yummy food is a pretty standard part of my life, I think I'll make the next set just a tiny bit larger. In particular, I might use the size 10 crotch, and sew the lining with slightly narrower seams so that the lining is a tiny bit larger than the pants.

Or perhaps I should just crack open David Coffin's book on pants (which I own) and see what he says.

Anyway, after that long, picture-less ramble, I'm reasonably pleased. These pants do fit, so they will become part of my wardrobe. Jeans, especially with stretch denim are trickier, but for the moment, I'll settle for trousers that fit well.

Here's the front (images artificially brightened to show you what's going on)

And here's the back:

While there appears to be a fair bit of wrinkling in the front, part of it is the way I'm standing, and the other part is the slightly too-tight bit. Trust me, these pants are a lot better than any version yet. Yay.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Me-Made-March Days 16-22

This time, I have an excuse, I was in San Francisco on vacation for half of last week. Vacations are quite awesome. The photo was taken at the Japanese Tea Garden at the Golden Gate park.

Day 16 (Wednesday):

It was all about comfort here - I was going to spend a few hours on the plane. This dress was perfect for that. Picture taken in my hotel room, I'm terribly shy about asking people to take my picture.
Dress: BWOF 12-2008-113/114
Black Cardigan:McCalls 5890

Day 17 (Thursday):
Sigh, no green for St. Patrick's Day. I was packing a capsule wardrobe, and had I owned a green self-made t-shirt, I would have worn it. As it was, I wore this outfit instead.
Grey cardigan: McCalls 5890
Black pants: McCalls 5890
Red printed t-shirt: BWOF 11-2008-103 B

Day 18 (Friday):
Dressed for a day of roaming in San Francisco. The photo was taken at the SFMOMA.
Grey cardigan: McCalls 5890
Black pants: McCalls 5890
Blue t-shirt (which you can barely see in the photo): BWOF 09-2007-101.

Day 19 (Saturday):
I forgot to take a picture (it was pouring rain, and I was too busy being wet), but I wore my McCalls 5890 black pants, my white t-shirt and my grey cardigan (McCalls 5890). (Packing light when traveling means you wear the same outfit a lot.)

Day 20 (Sunday):
Again, I didn't take a photo, but I wore the exact outfit I did on Day 16 (see above), since I was flying back home. Being comfortable is pretty awesome, especially on a long flight.

Day 21 (Monday):
Ah, my pants. I really need more self-sewn pants, it was so easy and mindless pulling on a pair of pants and a t-shirt and being ready.
Navy-blue McCalls 5817 pants, never blogged about. (Pertinent details - it is lined, and I left off the waistband.)
Long-sleeve black t-shirt: BWOF 10-2007-115
And a scarf for colour.

Day 22 (Tuesday):
This is the first time I'm wearing this skirt since I made it, it has some wrinkling that suggests I didn't cut it on grain. I should just get over myself - I'm sure no-one other than a uber-picky seamstress is going to notice or care.
Skirt: BWOF 08-2010-135
Inner top - Selfish-Seamstress-inspired minimalist cowl.
And a black shawl, since the top is sleeveless, and I'm utterly sick of the two cardigans I've been wearing all month.

All caught up! Now to go do the same thing on Flickr.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Me-Made-March '11 - Day 10-15

Wow, serious catching up to do here.

Day 10 (Thursday)

Long-sleeve black t-shirt: BWOF 10-2007-115
Easy knit skirt - no real pattern used.

Day 11 (Friday)
The severe lack of me-made pants in my wardrobe means I was more formal than strictly necessary on a Friday. I wore my purple skirt and blue t-shirt. (No pictures, I just totally forgot.)
Purple skirt - Simplicity 3631
Blue t-shirt - BWOF 09-2007-101

Day 12 (Saturday)

I spent many hours at a brewery on Saturday, it was a blast! Again - I was way more dressed up than strictly necessary - people were asking me why. Rather than explain Me-Made-March (a lot of people don't really even know I sew) I just told them my jeans were in the wash.
Inner shell - McCalls 4923
Black cardigan: McCalls 5890
Skirt - Simplicity 4036

Day 13 (Sunday)

Jeans sewing day (and we all know how that turned out.) I wore this red McCalls 5890 knit dress all day, and didn't really leave the house.

Day 14 (Monday)

Blue shirt - Simplicity 2938
Blue & green skirt - Simplicity 4047
Grey cardigan: McCalls 5890

Day 15 (Tuesday)

Flowered twinset - the inner shell is McCalls 4923 (now OOP, I never reviewed the inner shell on the blog, only because I still need to put buttons on the cardigan.)
Cardigan, some basic t-shirt pattern, can't remember which one.
Black pants - McCalls 5890
And a really pink scarf to celebrate longer days and the almost-advent-of-spring.

Monday, March 14, 2011

BWOF 04-2010-120 Jeans

*Warning - look at your own peril. It ain't pretty. I have a whole new set of body issues after stitching these jeans and looking at the pictures.*

Dear Readers, despite the evidence in these pictures, I have an ass that does not sag! Ouch. Truly, f***ing-awful fit. Seriously.

(And all of you that are screaming, Reethi - why didn't you make a muslin? Point well-taken.)

Ok, when I finished these jeans last night, here's what they looked like.


And back.

F***ing awful, right? The kind that'd would inspire anyone to throw the world's biggest tantrum, fling their machine across the room and pout for the rest of the night?

I did none. (Ok, I pouted.)

I desperately needed to salvage these. Though I'm the kind of person that never messes with a completed project, in this case, the completed project was hideous and utterly unwearable.

So, I ripped seams, and randomly basted, pinching out volume at the butt and back thigh, and experimenting till it got slightly better.

New front:

New back:

New side:

An infinitely tiny bit better. Fat day jeans.

Ugh. Just ugh. And more ugh.

I will say this though. This experience has only made me angry and motivated. I usually don't think of myself as motivated and conscientious. But - I will get this right. I will not allow a pair of (more swearing here) pants to beat me.


I spent all day yesterday sewing jeans, and they look terrible. Way too loose, way too much fabric in the butt. I made Mom jeans. Ugh.

Hello Burda? Aren't you supposed to be drafted better?

So far, if you are keeping score, I've sewn the Simplicity amazing fit in a size 12 (too loose), a BWOF petite pattern in a size 19 (too tight) and now this BWOF regular size pattern in a size 40 (too loose again.)

Size 40 regular and size 20 petite are supposed to be identical, except for the petite bit, I think. So - umm - 19 too tight, 20 way too loose? That's ridiculous.

Back to the drawing board.

Somewhere, in my last 3 pant experiments lie the perfect pants pattern. I need to go lay the various pieces on top of each other, and pick and choose the elements I want, I think. Sigh. Why are these things not easier?

I took pictures, and then took the inside seam apart to try to fix the jeans a little. Right now, there's a big, gaping hole in the crotch, but I think reducing some of the width off the upper thigh helped a little. Tonight, I'll fix these pants as best as I can, and take more pictures.

(And yes, Me-Made-March is still in progress, although my photo taking has tailed off a bit. I'll remember to take one today.)

Friday, March 11, 2011

Replicating the Proenza Schouler dress

In it's essence, this is a simple dress. It is a plain bodice and a straight skirt with a front wrap thing. Complicating it is that the dress is on the bias, but apart from that, reasonably straightforward. (I used Simplicity 4077 for the skirt, and McCalls 5661 for the top.) Other details - I cut the back bodice as one piece, and put the zipper on the side.

I kept walking back and forth from my laptop while drawing the skirt. It didn't work - my skirt is the mirror image of the inspiration. I also made one side too short - the inspiration skirt isn't quite as short.

But still, I'm pretty happy with this. It was a fun little project.

However, as I was making it, a sneaking suspicion was running through my head. Proenza Schouler or...?

Wilma Flintsone?

Weigh in, dear Readers, I implore you. I am thinking of wearing this to work (with tights, to cut down the amount of leg on display) - will I be the crazy girl yet again?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Me-Made-March '11 - Day 8 & Day 9

Before I get too far behind, let's catch up...

Day 8 - Deeply uninspired and color-less

Funny story with the pants. I made them in October, and have never worn them. Not because they fit badly, though that is true as well, but because I'm convinced Biscuit peed on them. They've been through the wash twice, but nope, still convinced they smell of pee. All day at work, I kept smelling myself suspiciously, convinced I smelt of cat pee. (Yes, people, I'm the crazy girl at work, who wears scarves all the time for warmth, and smells like cat pee.)

Anyway, I wore them to work, but in the evening, I had to go out, and changed into this skirt instead. (My co-workers might be too polite to tell me I smell like cat pee, but my friends are less discreet.)

Pants - Simplicity 2700
Top - a Frankenpattern with the front and sleeves of McCalls 6069, and the back of a plain t-shirt pattern (I used McCalls 4923).

Day 9 - Much better.

Are we getting tired of this cardigan yet?

White t-shirt: Simplicity 4076
Mustard skirt: Simplicity 4047, getting its first wearing on the blog
Grey cardigan: McCalls 5890.

In which I rant (and then cheer up to talk about upcoming sewing)

I'm utterly sick of winter - it snowed again yesterday. Although, thankfully, this time around, it didn't stick on the ground - it has now changed to yucky rain, and is all slushy and slippery.

I leave for 4 days in San Francisco next week, and can't wait.

There is a Work-in-progress project on the sewing table - I'm trying to replicate this Proenza Schouler dress.

Its been a bit slow going, but at this point, I just have to hem the dress and lining, and I'm done! I'm not sure how closely my dress resembles the original (the hem is a bit off, and I flipped the asymmetric front by mistake), and I'm not sure how much wear I'll get out of such a distinctive dress, but it was a fun project. I like the challenge of trying to replicate RTW.

(Speaking of which, if you haven't been checking out Summerset's Make The Look series, you must go do so as soon as you finish reading my rant.)

This dress should be done today/tomorrow. (I have social commitments both evenings, but I just need an hour! I can find an hour, right? Right?)

The reason the dress needs to get done as soon as possible is because I need jeans! I never ever thought I'd ever try to make my own jeans but (a) I'm in the middle of Me-Made-March, with a trip to San Francisco coming up. Yes, I could wear skirts, but jeans would be great and (b) I actually really need a new pair of jeans, and I shudder at the idea of going shopping, especially in winter, with jackets and boots, and 500 layers to take off in the dressing room before you can try on a pair of jeans, plus (c) any RTW jeans will likely need to be shortened, so I might as well try to do all myself.

As usual, I think I'm crazy.

I still haven't claimed my prize from the Accessories contest, so I don't have the Jalie jeans pattern handy. But, I was flipping though old Burda issues, and came across this pattern.

And its technical drawing looks like this:

Perfect! I have some stretch denim I found in a remnant bin in New York for a dollar. I'm trying to decide if I want to attempt flat-felled seams; I don't have rivets for the jeans, and will probably make it more like trousers, and less like true jeans. Top-stitched in matching blue thread, not gold, I think, and so on... my one pair of RTW jeans are like this, so I can look at them for details, since the Burda instructions are (as is their norm) rather sparse.

Jeans in a weekend? We shall see.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Me-Made-March '11 - Day 7

Grey dress - Vogue 1183 - the Kay Unger dress.
Purple print cardigan - some basic t-shirt pattern (can't remember which) with extra width added for the front opening). I pulled from my UFO pile, where it has lived for more than 6 months. (It needs buttons or a clasp or something down the front, and I need to hem the sleeves. I am dreadful.)
And a purple scarf for warmth - I kept the scarf on at work the entire day, and was toasty-warm. (Though everyone probably thought I was a nutcase.)

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Me-Made-March '11 - Day 6

It snowed last night, dear Readers. I am utterly sick of winter. Is it ever going to be warm again?

This is what Toronto looks like today.

As an antidote, I went to one of Toronto's hidden gems, the Allan Conservatory. It was lovely, warm, green, and the air was filled with the fragrance of flowers. A brief respite from the snow.

The dress is BWOF 12-2008-113/114 The cardigan is McCalls 5890.

Me-Made-March '11 - Day 5

The dress is McCalls 5317. It was in the mend pile, mostly because, without the belt, I look like a beached whale in this dress. (Also why I never reviewed or showed a photo on the blog.) The belt helped a lot.

I'm wearing a store-bought (gasp!) tank-top underneath - the effect was a little boobtastic without it. Yes, that breaks the Me-Made rules, but honestly, I think making tank-tops is a bit of a waste of my sewing time, especially when I have the perfect store-bought tank top. (Plus, I was in a rush, and didn't feel like thinking up an alternate outfit.)

Friday, March 04, 2011

Me-Made-March '11 - Day 4

I was low on creativity this morning, plus I woke up late, and had all of 3 minutes to decide what to wear before heading out the door. (Note to self - stitch a pair of jeans, already!!!!)

And hence, this. Evidently, my entire palette of colors are: black, grey, white and red. What a depressing thought! Color will be worn next week!

Skirt - Simplicity 4036
Inner top & outer cardigan - McCalls 5890

And, for no reason at all, Biscuit got picked up and added to the photo. She's a cutie.

Orphan clothing + the Mini-Wardrobe contest

Every time I do a Me-Made month, I realize I have a ton of clothes that don't match anything.

Case-in-point, a straight skirt made from this fabric.

This would look pretty nice with a pale blue top, or a soft grey blouse or a cream blouse or cardigan. I don't own most of these pieces, so I make do with a too-tight grey t-shirt, a needs-to-be-thrown-away cream cardigan or the ubiquitous black t-shirt. (I will point out that none of these looks actually keeps me warm.)

This year, Pattern Review's mini-wardrobe contest involves using a 5th piece that is already part of your wardrobe, and I'm going to use this skirt and try to make pieces around it. There's a more-than-reasonable chance I won't get done with these in time, but it's good to goal-set, at any rate.

Task for this evening, rummage through stash & patterns to see what I might sew.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Me-Made-March '11 - Day 3

After the last couple days of blacks and greys, color was required today. As was easy knit pieces. I wore this to work (of course) and it was so comfortable, I felt like I was wearing pyjamas. Nice!

Both the dress and the cardigan are from my newly completed mini-wardrobe - the pattern is McCalls 5890. The belt is the sash from the never-gets-worn Simplicity 3631 jacket.

Mini-Wardrobe in a weekend

Dear readers, I sewed this weekend. In a panic about the fast-approaching Me-Made-March, a realization that I had no good layering self-sewn pieces, and it is winter in Toronto, I pulled out McCalls 5890 and got to work.

The work in advance:

Early last week, I cut the pattern pieces out in my size. (Not fabric, just the pattern. That always takes me forever - Biscuit keeps attacking the tissue paper, and protecting the fragile sheets from her claws takes a bit of work.)

Around the same time (maybe it was Monday evening?) I'd cut out the dress in a reddish orange knit.

Thursday afternoon, I sewed up the dress, leaving the neck and armholes unfinished.

Friday, I had family over for dinner, so I was a cooking fiend. No sewing or cutting happened on Friday.

Ok - here's the mini-wardrobe in a weekend bit.

Saturday afternoon, I woke up and finished the dress. I used the magic Jalie method to bind the neckline, and I just turned the armhole under and stitched, taking care to interface it first. The red dress was done, and it looked good.

Then an extended pause - a friend came over and I showed her how to cook South Indian food. We made 5 dishes in 2 hours, and then ate our efforts. There might have been beer involved as well. Fun times.

Once she left, I pulled out a grey knit that I bought in Fabricland about a year ago, and cut up the pieces to make the cardigan. (It was 10pm at this point.) The cardigan is really simple to make, it took me about an hour.

Piece 1 - grey knit cardigan.

Suitably inspired, I pulled some black knit I'd bought in a warehouse-type store in Montreal during PR Weekend. It was synthetic and inexpensive, but it felt non-yucky against my skin, and I think I bought 3 yards.

I laid it out on the cutting table, and went to sleep.

Sunday morning, a frenzy of cutting. I started at about 11.30am, and cut out, in the black knit, a cardigan, a top and the pants. Then I ran out of fabric. (I wish I had enough for a dress as well, sigh.)

This took me an hour and a half? Something like that. (I cut using a rotary cutter, which speeds it up significantly, but cutting is still one of my least-favorite sewing tasks.)

Lunch interrupted. My parents and brother came over (with food, yay!) and we ate some yummy food and hung out. Once they left, I started sewing.

Roughly 1.5 hours of no-getting-up-from-the-sewing-table later, I'd sewed up almost all the seams necessary before the more fussy work of finishing started. This included:

- all the pant seams except the elastic waistband and the hem
- all the seams on the top except the neckline finishing, the armhole finishing and the hem
- all the seams on the cardigan except the hem

What made it easy? No fitting, very little pressing, and incredibly minimal pinning. I used to sew quilt tops, I know how to sew a seam without pinning it, something I seem to have forgotten while garment sewing. I strategically pinned in a couple of places (the princess seams for example) but mostly, I skipped pinning, and was perfectly fine.

My productivity then took a bit of a hit as I watched the Oscar red carpet show, chatted on the phone with a friend, etc.

Eventually, before midnight though, I did finish:

- hemming the cardigan
- finishing the top (neckline, armhole, hem)
- forming the elastic casing for the pants. (Moral decline alert - I did not hem my pants. You may judge me now.)

It helped that the Oscars were kind of boring.

Piece 2 - black knit cardigan (previewed already in the Me-Made-March '11 - Day 1 photo)

Piece 3 - black knit top.

Piece 4 - black knit pants. - See grey jersey picture above.

And there you have it, dear readers. Mini-wardrobe in a weekend. So much fun!