Monday, April 26, 2010

Wishful thinking...

... has grabbed me in the butt. Literally. Who'd have thought the Kyoto Skirt, with its generous waist, would be so fitted through the hips. Bottom line (pun intended), is that I need more space, especially in the mid- and high-hip, if I want to sit down comfortably, although the problem is at least as much across the front as in the rear.

It would have helped if the pattern had a standard hip point marked and finished garment widths provided (grumble, grumble). Plus, my flat measure appears to have been off (yes, I did exclude seam allowances, including the wide back seam), as my finished hip width is smaller than I thought it would be. I suspect I measured too low, or what I thought was straight across the oddly-shaped back pieces was really at an angle.

I also didn't flat-measure the high-hip, which clearly I should have, as that's where I most need more space. The "fashion" fabric I plan to use has some stretch, so it's okay if my non-stretch muslin is a teeny bit snug, but the 2" of ease I've got now is not enough for sitting. Plus, I might want to make this again from a non-stretch at some future point. So I'd like to get the muslin to a point where I'm comfortable with it.

I'm going to take a closer look at the side seams and see how far they can be let out. For the stretch fabric taking a narrow side seam might be enough. For a non-stretch, probably not. Then I'll take another look at the pattern, and decide whether to go up to a 14 or just adjust the 12, which would be easier than retracing the whole thing.

However, it's now Monday morning, and I need to set sewing aside and do some business-type stuff. Might do some fiddling with Kyoto in the evenings, this week. Or not. We'll see how it the days go.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Kyoto Skirt Muslin

My Kyoto Skirt pattern has finally arrived, and I'm ready to jump in.

Almost. I've decided to "muslin" before cutting into the fabric I have in mind. Don't really want to, but gut says I should.

Do you ever feel like you've got an imp on one shoulder whispering: "You don't need to make a muslin! It will be fine. Cut the good stuff already and let's get sewing!" And on the other shoulder is your guardian sewing angel, trying to get your attention: "Don't listen to her! You'll be sorry if you don't make a muslin first."

Sometimes I listen to the imp, some days I heed the angel. I've decided to heed the angel this time because this is my first Hot Patterns pattern, and I don't know how that line will fit. Going by the HP size chart, length should be okay, but my waist and hip measurements are smack dab in the middle between a 12 and a 14. So which is the best choice? Since this is not a tightly fitted garment, I'm going to try the 12, because who doesn't want to sew the smaller size? Based on flat measures of the pattern I should end up with 4" of ease in the hip, which isn't huge, but ought to be enough. We'll find out.

First up, what to muslin from? As you can see from the photo above, I've gone a little goofy with it. The main fabric is the Kaffe Fassett "anemone" in pink/purple that I decided not to use for my hexies quilt project. A bit of an odd choice for this pattern, more so if I make patch pockets from a piece of uber-girly Heather Bailey print from the stash. And why not throw some polka dots in there, while we're at it? (I had the insane impulse, just for a moment, to make the godet from the Heather Bailey print, too, but even at my goofiest I don't need to walk around with an explosion of flowers coming out of my butt.)

My inner 4-year old is going to love this skirt. Assuming it turns out wearable. I might even go totally wild and make the bellows pockets and flaps. Just for the hell of it. Since this supposed to be a quickie muslin I'm skipping the piping and top-stitching, and won't bother with interfacing all the curved edges (isn't that what stay-stitching is for?), although I'll edge-stitch the yoke curves and godet seam for stability.

If this one lives up to expectation, I'll go ahead and cut into the dark olive twill I've been seeking a purpose for. That one will be a more sedate version.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Another just-for-fun skirt

You'd think, having completed the Pattern Review Mini-Wardobe Challenge, that I'd have had enough of sewing for a while. Yet I felt this odd compulsion yesterday evening to sit down and make another skirt.

But not just any skirt. This one had to be a goofy, slap-dash, just for fun skirt. An anti-challenge skirt. A skirt that might get posted online, but which is not part of a wardrobe or in the running for any prize other than, just possibly, even 'though it's only April, my most favorite thing I make this year.

I used my TNT self-drafted, drawstring Fat Quarter Skirt pattern, based on the Sew What, Skirts! method, and went to town with some large scraps from the quilting stash:
* big bold flowers: Anna Maria Horner
* pink on white bird-in-a-tree: Jennifer Paganelli
* blue floral hem: Kaffe Fassett

Total sewing time: about 2 hours, including cutting fabric and making the drawstring. I eyeballed the blue border piece, with the help of a ruler, rather than cut a new pattern piece for it. Pins employed during the entire process: 0.

The hem is faced with a bias strip, with a length of lime green rick-rack sandwiched in the seam, because I found it in my "trims" drawer and it was just the right length. Don't you just love using something up?

The back is similar to the front, but with a narrower piece of the pink-on-white, and more of the bold floral.

I'm itching to wear this, but eeesh, It's COLD here: overcast with intermittent rain and temps barely into the low 70s, if that. (Our daytime high on Wed. was only 69! laugh if you want, but that's chilly for Hawaii.) So, I'm huddled in yoga pants and a velour pullever, with fuzzy slippers on my feet, waiting for the sun to come out and warm me up.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Hexies taking shape

My hexies obsession continues, and my vision of a total project is taking shape. For a project that started up as a way to use up some Kaffe Fassett scraps and strips, this has triggered the purchase of way more additional fabric than anticipated. In addition to more KF prints, I now have an assortment of blues, some backing fabric, and a beautiful lime-on-white batik for a border that I'll show you some other time.

Biggest decision has been made: the background color will be an assortment of pale, watery blue batik "blenders":

The blues here are not stitched, as you can probably tell, just nudged into place on my kitchen counter so I could be sure they play well togther as a setting color. Colors in these photos are over-saturated, but I don't feel like tweaking them any more. It's another dim, drizzly Hilo day, not good for pics, even with flash.

I want to include some green in my layout, and had in mind using "triplets" between the flowers, like this:

Now I'm thinking maybe that's too much green, so I'm going to go back to my hexies playground (Illustrator file) and see if I can come up with a layour I like with single greens, maybe something like this:
Clearly I need to waste at least several more hours playing with my graphics layout worksheets. before making a decision. Still lots of basting of greens and blues to be done, and many more flowers to make before I have to commit to anything.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Mini-Wardrobe Done!

Yay! Two skirts + two tops = happy camper!

Waiting for final photos...

... but aside from documentation, the Mini-Wardrobe Challenge is done!

Whew. Didn't think I'd make it for a while there.

If there's an honorable mention for number of changes to plan along the way, I'm confident I'm a contender for that prize. I was on the verge of calling it quits Saturday, when I realized there was no way pants (planned garment #4) were going to happen.

Then I realized the black stretch cotton twill in the stash, which I've planned to make jeans from, was ample enough to get a simple skirt, from, too. I think. If I'm wrong those jeans I have planned will have to be capris, cause the skirt is a done deal now.

Wasn't sure I had a suitable pattern until I took another look at Vogue 2854, an OOP Oscar de la Renta that I purchased for the jacket only. But hey, that skirt's got possibilities...

[I also feel a weird compulsion to make those pants, based on an irrational hope that I will be as skinny in them as that model is. Let's stick with the skirt, for now.]

I dumbed it down a lot -- left out the center front seam and vent, and skipped pockets and lining -- to make a quickie casual version. [I'll add a link here to my review as soon as that's done]. Tweaked a couple of seams, but gotta love Vogue: they are the only patterns that come close to fitting me right out of the envelope. If I make this again (and I think I will, someday), I'll fuss with the yoke curve and hip dart a bit more, but didn't have time to get it perfect yesterday. We're in close-enough-is-good-enough mode here.

Best part: I faced the yoke and hem with a piece of 2nd-hand Amy Butler quilting cotton that was sun-faded along the folds, so useless for anything visible. Other than a flash of hem-facing as I walk around, maybe, no one will see this but me, but it makes me happy to know it's there [you're looking at the inside; those are my basting lines BTW, in blue thread, not contrast topstitching]:

The wide bias strip hem facing is now officially my favorite hem treatment. I'm gonna use it on EVERYTHING! Well, probably not, but on lots of things, for sure. I'd wanted to do this on the white denim skirt, but although the fabric is medium weight, it's quite transparent, and I had to settle for using the cotton to finish the waist edge:
Now, if I can just drag Mr. Wonderful away from processing customer orders, so he can take some pics, I'll be able to finish up my online reviews and hold my breath until someone votes for me.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

It's time...

... to refocus on my 2010 Sewing Resolution #whatever: to do more sewing and less fabric shopping.

I was sooooooo very very good for all of January and February, then lost all inhibition about clicking "proceed to checkout" buttons somewhere around March 1st.

I thought as of last night that I was done for awhile. Until I fell for two Hot Patterns designs today: the Kyoto Skirt and Marrakesh Pants. I made the mistake of watching the videos about each garment, which totally convinced me they would be so flattering and wearable and comfortable and all-round perfect for my very boring casual lifestyle that I'd be insane not to order them immediately and sew them up. From stash of course. I have a nice lightweight taupe chino that will be perfect for one or the other, although alas not for both. And a lightweight, slightly stretchy, very drapey, very dark olive twill of some suitable kind. And lots of prints. It's not like I'd have to buy more fabric to make them.

Anyway, I'm going public with it: I intend to survive the next 120 days without buying any more sewing patterns or fabric. (Thread, notions, and interfacing allowed for projects in progress if the stash does not provide.)

That means starting RIGHT NOW through August 5, if I counted correctly.

Those of you who know me well can go ahead and chortle yourselves right off the couch, but I really intend to follow through this time.

I'm tempted to throw caution to the wind and go public with some kind of statement about how many garments/projects/UFOs I'll also complete in that time (to meet the "do more sewing" part of that resolution), but I think I've been rash enough with my promises for one day. I'll simple aim to astonish myself with my productivity in the sewing room, how's that?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Another Linen Top

I'm slogging slowly forward on this Mini-Wardrobe Challenge over at, and was all set to finally make something from some gorgeous stretch rayon in my stash. Until I realized that there was just enough -- maybe -- of the turquoise linen left over from making MWC garment #1 to make a simple tank top.

Inspiration credit goes to this top, with which I am much enamored, although I'm past the age where spaghetti straps in public are a good idea. Isn't that ruffled hem adorable?

Unfortunately, the Japanese pattern book it's made from is not among those on my shelf, and I don't have time to order a copy of it. Plus, I'm supposed to be making this challenge from stash, fabric and patterns.

Once bitten by this image, making a linen tank for my second MWC top seemed essential. Plus, it would use up that fabric. Which is a lot more appealing to me this week than putting a scant yard-ish size piece back in the stash. This is supposed to be the year of sewing from stash (and finishing UFOs, not that I'm doing spectacularly in either department, yet, but it's only April, I've got time). Plus, a sleeveless tank would be a nice counterpart to the long-sleeved Patricia tunic, and maybe even fit into a THEME for the challenge, which has so far been lacking. (More on theme later.)

I rummaged through the pattern stash, which yielded a couple of items that could be easliy altered into sleeveless tank-ish tops, but alas, not from the limited piece of fabric I had left. So I self-drafted one, very loosely based on a linen pull-on (no buttons or zip, yay) JJill top that fits well through the bust thanks to armscye darts.

So I copied that, sort of, adding to the length (aiming for lower hip area) and whipped up a quick muslin. Yikes. Okay on the top part, but wow, did I underestimate what would go around my hips with any kind of ease. So now it's more trapeze-ish in shape.

Then I trimmed the neck (very slightly gathered at center front) and arm edges with bias strips cut from the Anna Maria Horner "Guest of Honor" fabric left over from making my office curtains. So far so good. On to the ruffle. Which turned out not to be such a good idea. The cotton print is huge scale, and I planned a deeper ruffle to show just a bit more of it. But a gathered length of wider cotton, even quilting weight, was too heavy for the very lightweight linen. (Took a pic, but it was a dud.) So I cut the ruffle off drafted a straight lower border and went with that. Super-narrow double-turned hem, top-stitched at the seam.

It's okay, but not quite as super-delicious spectacular as I'd hoped. Which is about normal for my semi-experimental sewing. I'm happy with the fabric combo, though, and although there is still a yard-ish size length of the GofH fabric back in the stash, it was fun to use some of it for a garment purpose. Probably I'll make a simple skirt from the rest, but no tackling that until I've completed (or given up on completing) this mini-wardobe thing.

Finishing the white denim skirt is next. It's been hanging in the sewing room closet for a week, waiting for me to give it a waistband and a hem...

I'll post photos of me wearing this stuff when I have complete outfits to show off. Which will be sometime within the week if I'm going to make the challenge deadline.