Friday, March 14, 2014

Summertime...and the livin is easy

Fabric from FABMO, biased tape made by me using scrap cotton fabric with owl motif.
Note: I omitted two pleats from the neckline.
Just realized my last post was early December. I was still in the holiday spirit, and finding excuses not to study for my exam. This is what I've been doing really for the past three months...head down in books and flashcards. I've never studied so hard in my life.

Now that I've completed one hurdle, I took the last three weeks to catch up on sewing and knitting projects. I found myself sewing a lot of pieces for the Summer months. I'm basically sewing like I'm flying to Hawaii again...but I'm not.  I'm actually going to Japan and Hong Kong! Side note: I've been doing a lot of research on what I want to buy while in Japan.  "Everything" is not in the cards. Plus airlines have become really stingy with checked-in luggage capacities. My husband's eyes bulge slightly when I put the words "shopping" and "Japan" together in the same sentence. I'm less likely to go overboard in Hong Kong, but Japan is the Land-of-Plenty for crafters.

Actual photo of the pattern in the book.
Blouse from my first Japanese pattern book.

In tribute to my upcoming holiday...I broke out my first Japanese pattern book. I have mixed feelings about the above blouse. In fact, all the patterns look more like house dresses than things I want to wear out.  Being on the vertically challenged and pudgy side, this top and other patterns in the book (see it HERE) looks a little like maternity wear. In Hawaiian, they are called "Muumuus." That's what I get for buying a pattern book with the word "SMOCK" in the title. But all the models in the book look darling.  See how cute it looks on her...

In case someone is wondering about how difficult these patterns are...one word: EASY. The only challenge was copying the pattern itself from the labyrinth of other patterns on top of each other. I suppose if someone is a Burda pattern master...this process should be simple. The instructions are basic and in English. I couldn't figure out the seam allowance, or I'm just a poor reader and haven't found it yet. There are no plus sizes, and the largest size looks like a US size 10 if you shop at the GAP, or really a size 14 in standard pattern size.  The largest bust size was 38-ish. I graded the pattern up an inch, and really...I didn't need to do that. There was a lot of built-in ease. It is a smock afterall. I plan on grading it back down if I make it again. I'm borderline petite in height, and I felt like the length barely fit me. Someone taller would need to grade the length.

I've been getting some knitting done as well. I finally completed the linen skirt that's been sitting in my closet for two years because I needed to learn a stretchy bind-off stitch. When I originally completed my skirt, the bind-off was so tight, I was only able to get one leg into it. Sadly, I am not a very experienced knitter, and I thought I would need professional help to resolve the waistband problem. But the internet once again, saved my knitting day.  I used Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-Off technique. Get the tutorial HERE on Rivalry. This is the BEST stretch bind-off stitch EVER!!!

100% linen by Euroflax. Pattern from my favorite knitting book:
"Knit Two Together" by Mel Clark and Tracy Ullman. See it HERE.
I made a bunch of other things these past couple of weeks...including finishing up my UFO Bombshell bathing suit that I started last Fall. It was a bit of a disaster, and even after grading the size up, it still feels a bit snug to wear. I already failed on my first muslin attempt. Instead of making a second, I dived right into my actual fabric (obviously overconfident). I decided that I don't like the pattern. Others might disagree. I found the instructions a bit clumsy and missing some of the professional bathing suit techniques. For example, I don't know if this suit will stay on if I make a strong dive into the pool. I might come out of the pool topless. (This may not be the fault of the pattern but the discovery that I am shaped a bit like a giant jelly bean. I must remember that the whole point of sewing for myself is so I don't feel a need to go on a crash diet.) Perhaps this is the reason why it's so tight in the mid-section, and slightly loose in the bust. Seriously, the muslin I made was tighter than a sausage casing. I hate sewing with four-way stretch jersey too. But the project did force me to use my serger. I suppose some good came out of that one. Overall...the suit doesn't look "that" bad, and it's fine for lounging around the pool. But if it don't fit right...it ain't right. I've got a Kwik Sew bathing suit pattern that I'm planning on using next.

Jersey zebra print fabric from Fabric.com. Lining from Joann's Fabric
Bombshell Bathing Suit Pattern
by Closet Case Files on Etsy. HERE
Before the year's end, I plan on making quite a few jumpsuits. This is probably the single most beloved item of clothing that I had in the 80s when jumpsuits were paired with enormous shoulder pads. I dipped my toe in a short jumpsuit reserved for a bathing suit cover-up. I did not use all the extra fabric to match the stripes. It was one of those non-repeating prints (a pain). For what I was using it for...I wasn't so bothered by the stripes being off a bit. I do love the pockets on the jumpsuit.  I might end up wearing this around the house over the summer sans the beach. My daughter hated it, but I love the retro 70's feel of the colors. I might make this again in the long pants version using a light denim. I've also been on the hunt for good overalls lately. I'm just reliving my youth vicariously through my sewing.  Who else does this?

Fabric from Joann's sale table, $4 a yard. Poly-cotton terry cloth blend.
Pattern: McCall's M6063 (EASY)
One of my favorite top designs is the v-necked wrapped neckline. I feel like it's the most forgiving and works as a nice camouflage for my carb belly. The problem with tops like these that are store bought is the neckline usually run too low and without a safety closure, leave gaps to peep inside. Kwik Sew makes a nice version that suggests adding elastic to the front neckline. This was brilliant and kept everything in place without having to include a not-so-flattering closure.  If you decide to use this pattern, don't skip this important step!

I made it using two types of fabrics and sewed the wrap different directions. The lace one is leftover fabric from my Burda lace dress from last year. (See HERE) I had just enough to make the top. I suggest using a stretch fabric for better fit. My lace version is a snug fit, and the cotton t-shirt striped version is extremely comfortable. But they both have completely different looks. I did not line the lace top like I did with my original dress and I shortened the bottom so that it would be less bulky in case I decide to use it as a camisole.



Paired with my hand-knitted linen skirt.


Happy sewing!