Baby soup…

…is how my daughter used to pronounce bathing suit. Of course, that was half a decade ago, and today we’re at swim lessons take number five. One of these days she’ll figure out this whole swimming thing, I hope. In the meantime, my little string bean has outgrown her previous swimsuit. That problem and an adorable print on the Spot the Bolt table at Hancock’s this week combined for my latest project, OOP Kwik Sew 2605.

KS2605done

This is not the first time I’ve made this pattern, and I’m a big fan of the racerback for an active child. My daughter may be a terrible swimmer, but she enjoys jumping in the water and as part of her swim lessons they have her jumping off the diving blocks, so I want a garment that is going to stay put no matter what she’s doing. The center back seam also gives a little bit of shaping, for what that’s worth.

I underlined the entire suit with swimsuit lining from Jo-Ann, though the pattern didn’t call for it. I dislike the basting together of the outer fabric and the lining, but I think it wears better with two layers and helps with coverage when the fashion fabric has large expanses of lighter colors. The assembly is pretty easy with only three pieces, and then just five circles of elastic. The longest part of this project proved to be the coverstitching of said elastic. I rethreaded the machine for the first time from scratch, and then I got the fun of figuring out the correct tensions for sewing. I started off with the 6mm wide stitching, and it’s still there around the legs, but I realized it was going to look weird around the arms and neckline, so I measured her old RTW suit and used the 3mm stitching, which is where my tensions proved challenging. Three attempts on one armhole before finding the right combination was not my idea of fun. I still have some not great stitching over seam lines as the four layers of fabric plus elastic was just enough to make the machine skip a couple of stitches. Nonetheless, it should work and it’s only thread so I can always repair it later if it starts unraveling.

KS2605topstitching

I’m happy with the final product and I like making swimsuits. A tank style like this takes just a half-yard of fabric, the notions are minimal and I have in the past used a long zigzag for the topstitching and had it work out just fine. Now I just need to get better at using the coverstitch machine.

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And another knit top

You would think I that I would have gotten my act together and made the Butterick 5995 dress already, but you would be wrong. This week has been a blur of shuttling kids here, there, and everywhere, so instead I chose to make another knit top thinking it would be a fast sew.

v8831done

Ha! Joke’s on me. I had reread some of my old entries to jog my memory for knit alterations, and pulled OOP Vogue 8831 from its place in my queue and got to work. Yes, this time I remembered to take out a half-inch in the upper torso. Then I sort of wanted to fall down a rabbit hole of fitting because this top has princess seams and the multiple cup sizes and I sort of had to talk myself out of over thinking the project. In the end, it’s a knit top and doesn’t need that much thought to look decent.  In the end, I used the D cup pieces because that’s what the nice measurement table says, and the fit is generally right that way. I pivoted all of the sides out from a 10 at the arms to a 14 at the hem. I should have aimed for a 14 at the waist, by the way, as it’s a little more snug that I would have liked. I shaved the side front bodice piece down a bit at the apex as I always get weird wrinkles if I don’t. Apparently, I don’t need that extra bit of fullness no matter what it looks like tissue fitting.

v8831fabric
I love the Samsung label on the selvage. Cell phones and fabric have much in common.

The fabric is a remnant from a knit dress I made almost five years ago, and who knows how long I had the jersey prior to that. It’s a poly/lycra from Gorgeous Fabrics with a great weight and hand. I have some jersey that’s almost too slick running a hand over it, and it’s usually a little lighter in weight than I like, and then there’s this stuff, which I love. My old washing machine ate the dress I made from the other part of this yardage, and it was my favorite knit dress, so that’s one reason why said washer is no longer in my house. I’m really happy to have the fabric back in my wardrobe.

V8831sergerv8831sergerotherside
Serger wonkiness

The actual sewing was the quickest part of the whole business and with the raglan sleeves even easier than usual. All construction was done on the serger and the hems finished on the coverstitch. Everything went smoothly, except the slight weirdness of the serger stitching on the front princess seam. At the curviest part of the seam, the looper thread didn’t catch in the left needle thread and I don’t know why as it didn’t happen anywhere else on the garment.

v8831back
Sadly, the seam lines are lost in this fabric

I ended up hemming 2.25 inches instead of the recommended one inch so that it didn’t hit on the widest part of my hips. It also helps alleviate my usual problem with knit tops riding up over my backside, but not entirely.

v8831side
And we’re riding up in the back, argh

All in all, I’m really happy with how the top turned out, especially in the front where my store-bought tops either strain over my bust or are too big and out of proportion to me. I do feel the need to share the bending over picture below because the non-cowl part of this top is on the low side. It just covers the edge of my bra and nothing more. It doesn’t bother me as it’s not showing anything I’m not comfortable with, but it’s worth mentioning as I had already raised it a hair when I did my petite adjustment.

v8831neckline

Summer 2015 Vogues are out

I really should be better about checking my email, but messing around on the interwebs today, I found out the summer Vogue collection has been released.  No, I still haven’t checked my email where I’m sure there’s a nice marketing email from McCall Co. telling me this.  Oh well.  I wish I could say that I were as jazzed about this one as the spring release, but most of it is not up my alley.  Am I admitting to pattern fatigue? Perish the thought!

V9100
V9100

This is my vote for the pattern most likely to be made up. I say this because I was wearing my old make of Butterick 5317 yesterday and while it’s a cute dress and I love the cotton sateen that I used on it, it’s not the best dress I’ve ever made. The darts from my FBA are frankly terrible and have bothered me from day one and it’s too low cut, which is totally my fault for not fixing that before cutting out. So I’m thinking that with the princess seams on this bodice and making big box pleats vice gathering, I could have an even better version of a dress that I was already wearing all season long. Total win there.

V9102
V9102

Yes, my eyes are bleeding from that fabric choice too, but I love godets more than anyone ought to, and I kind of want to mess around with this one. I am a little leery of the bust dart, but trying something new wouldn’t be a bad thing. It’s just fabric in the end.

V1446
V1446

I just want to point out that I love when the designer patterns have hard details. That’s kind of the point, right? If I’m looking at this right, there’s a boatload of tucks needed to make that bodice. The back cutouts on this dress are a nice touch too. I could see me starting this sort of project and never, ever finishing it. Know thyself, right?

V1449
V1449

Speaking of knowing thyself, there is no way that I could wear something like this and look like anything other than a dumpy troll. Now, there is nothing wrong with the dress per se, it’s just that my body type and it would never be on speaking terms. However, I think it could be really cute on the right figure.

V9120
V9120

I’m sorry, this is just a straight up mess. I can’t think of any reason that this bag should ever exist.

Alas, no dress for Easter

Apparently, I underestimated how difficult it would be to get a dress made up in four days. I took a new batch of measurements, which fit three separate sizes. I always start with a size 10 for my shoulders and do a three quarter-inch FBA. This usually works out to a reasonable approximation of a size 14 from the waist down. From the finished measurements, it would fit around my body, but I wasn’t sure if it would look good. Short answer, it didn’t. Fortunately, the second muslin was much improved.

B5995muslinfront
Trudy does a good job right now of matching my upper body, but she’s adjusted way too small from the waist down right now.

The first muslin was ridiculously tight though the hips, so I added a half-inch to the side seams through the waist and then another quarter-inch at the hips. Additionally, I ended up taking an inch out of the bodice, which in the first muslin seemed to resolve all of the issues with the neckline. So I was a bit taken aback when the neckline was standing away from my torso so badly with this version. I tinkered with pinning out more length just below the shoulder, but it didn’t work. I finally decided that the neckline itself had too much length, so I took a tuck on each side, which fixed a lot of wonkiness that was showing up in the lower bodice. From the side view, the hem is even, but the waist seam is not, with it too low in the back and excess fabric in the small of my back. I’m thinking of just moving the seam line so that the extra fabric from the bodice is given to the skirt section, but not changing the overall length.

B5995muslinside
The cut edge of the arm includes the seam allowance, so the armhole is way too big. I’m going to be raising it almost an inch.

I also ended up taking up some neckline darts so the bodice doesn’t stand away from my back at the top. It worked out really nicely, but I don’t want darts there in the final version, so I’m thinking of removing that excess length at the shoulder seam.

B5995muslinback
Not so fabulous of a double from the backside right now. That excess fabric in center isn’t there when I am wearing this.

You would think after multiple pattern adjustments and two muslins, I would be annoyed to have missed my self-imposed deadline, but I’m really excited with the progress I have made on fitting myself with this project. I just hope that it all pays off when it’s time to cut into the fashion fabric because this is the most fitted dress in a woven material I have worked on in quite a while.

Same dress, two very different sizes

One of the neat things about writing stuff available to the world at large, when I say that I mean to do something, I tend to do it. I guess it’s the accountability thing, where I feel the need to live up to my own words. So in that spirit, I present the two dresses I have been working on for the last week or so.

M7074done
Mom, it’s 50 degrees out,  and I need a jacket because I’m freezing

Santa brought my daughter an eighteen inch doll for Christmas and she has been hounding me ever since for more doll clothes. I had been avoiding the subject for a bit and then my daughter found McCall 7074 in the pile of patterns I got sometime this year. Of course that meant that they needed matching dresses, so here we are. My daughter went diving through my over-full fabric stash and picked out the main dress fabric because it had flowers and pink and purple and it hit all of the right notes for her. I was honestly not sure how it would turn out, but she had faith.

M7074dolldress
Here you can actually see the box pleats that give the shaping to the skirt

The first hurdle to cross was finding a yoke fabric that worked with all of the colors going on with the main fabric and that’s harder than it looks. Hancock had no blues that matched the background color and purple is a nightmare of a color to match so no joy there either. Weirdly though, I found a zipper that almost perfectly matched the main fabric. Unfortunately, I bought the zipper before I picked out the navy blue for my contrast, leading to the zipper pull being visible.

M7074zipper
Very, very visible

I forgot the joys of switching thread colors umpteen times in a project to match whatever fabric I was messing with, but that was nothing compared to making the horizontal seams match up along the zipper. With the high contrast of the blue, I wanted to get it right. I basted that sucker four times, but finally got the final result within my tolerance, so I’m happy with it. I lined the dress with the same fabric as the contrast because it was pretty lightweight and I figured it wouldn’t be too obvious around the armhole seams where I normally mess up and have visible lining fabric.

M7074seamintersection
This may be the best seam matching I’ve ever done. I should do this more often.

I never follow the order of construction for sleeveless dresses as I prefer to get the entire front assembled and then the entire back and then use the burrito method for sewing the lining in. This means that the side seams are the last major seams to be sewn up, and I have a tendency to not line them up properly because I’m lazy and so close to the end of the project that I can get slapdash. Today, I actually did them right and the waist seam along both sides look like the above picture. I’m sort of pleased to have done it right and not allow myself any excuses otherwise. I should do that more often and not make excuses for myself.

M7074dolldressinterior

Making the doll dress was easier than I expected in large part thanks to the quarter-inch seam allowances. They were so nice to work with as I just used the quarter-inch foot, which made for pleasantly mindless sewing. I was paying absolutely no attention to the instructions, so imagine my surprise when I figured out that the dress skirt and lining skirt sections were supposed to be sewn together at the bottom, basted together at the waist seam and then attached to the bodice with the bodice lining slipstitched in place. Umm, yeah that’s not happening, especially on a doll’s dress, but thankfully I hadn’t put the Velcro in yet. Attempt number one reminded me why I suck at visualizing bagging linings, as I ended up with the Moebius strip of doll dress that couldn’t be turned right side out. I finally turned everything to where I wanted it, pinned the skirt and lining together, turned it inside out, and then manipulated the fabric until I had the entire hem stitched up. Then voila, it turned right side out again properly. And yes, the child’s dress was supposed to be done the same way, but I just hemmed those normally and called it a day as I already had the zipper in and the sides closed up.

M7074dolldressback

This left just the Velcro to apply, and I have to say, it was so much more forgiving than a zipper. I serged together the dress and lining along the edge where the Velcro went and then just sewed in place. The left side has you fold the Velcro to the inside, but with the four layers of fabric it seemed bulkier than I would have liked. I sewed down the top edge and along the center back, and I’m much happier with the effect. Unfortunately, with the half of the center back box pleat there at the waist, I couldn’t sew along the perimeter of the entire rectangle, which I would have liked to have done for symmetry.

All in all, I would call this a successful project and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the doll sewing. Also, this means one Easter dress down and one to go for me.