Ohhh Lulu Grace panties

Ohhh Lulu Grace panties in silk and lace.

I think the sewing world is obsessed with underwear right now! I’m not complaining, I’m loving seeing all the people who are whipping up gorgeous looking bras and underwear sets – like Tasia and her longline quilted fabric bra, Maddie’s stunningly photographed underwear set, and Novita of very purple person and this graphically cool bra in progress. Seeing all these projects has definitely piqued my interest in trying to sew bras, but for the moment I will continue with the panties part of underwear. The ultimate instant gratification project! Not to mention stashbusting project – I was really intrigued by how this pattern combines both woven and stretch fabrics, which means pretty small scraps of all kinds of fabric now has potential to become underwear!

Fabric: Remnants of sandwashed silk and black stretch lace
Pattern: Grace Panties from Ohhh Lulu, size M
Techniques: bias cut fabric, stretch fabric, FOE (fold over elastic)

Ohhh Lulu Grace panties in silk and lace.

I really like the fabric combination in this pair, with the blue silk and black lace – a touch of sexy! I cut a straight size M, and depending on the fabric selection for my next pair, I might go up in size. The woven portion in the middle gets cut on the bias, so that will always have the same amount of stretch. The black lace I used for the side panel isn’t super stretchy, so the underwear is a little snug on. If I use a stretchy jersey for the side panels next time, I think the size M will fit me just fine though. I followed the instructions exactly, which are good, with illustrative step-by-step pictures.

Ohhh Lulu Grace panties in silk and lace.

The design of this low-rise pair of underwear is really nice. I love being able to combine woven and knit fabrics, the princess-line and cut of the underwear is flattering, and the finished panties look pretty professional in finish. I think they are comfortable on, though a smidge tight because of my newbie fabric choices! The only thing I’m planning to change for my next version is to trim down the lining piece, since it ends of bunching because of “turn of cloth“. I think taking an 1/8″ or 1/4″ of each long side will fix that. I am very pleased with how these turned out! I’m planning to reorganize my stash tomorrow, and I wonder if I will come across any little gems of fabric scraps that can become more awesome homemade undies!

another perfect t-shirt

I am continuing with the knit-kick! After two t-shirts, two sweatshirts, and two pairs of underwear I am continuing with… another t-shirt.

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I mentioned in my first post about the perfect t-shirt quest that the original was a light grey, heathered cotton shirt from H&M. On the last trip to my local fabric store for some costume sewing supplies, I found a yard of mystery jersey that looked pretty perfect to make my replacement t-shirt out of! Again, it’s a little heavier of a jersey (and probably a poly-cotton blend) than the original, but unlike the previous shirt I made, this seems to be more cotton and less viscose. It’s not as drapey, a little more stable, and wow – so soft and comfortable.

Fabric: Mystery jersey in a heathered grey from my local fabric store.
Pattern: Self-drafted from a beloved old H&M t-shirt.
Techniques: jersey fabric, neck binding, serged seams.

I did make a couple of changes from last version, which were to reduce the width at the bottom of the sleeve by taking a wedge out, and to add a few inches of width to the bottom hem. I came across a tip to use dental floss and a zig-zag stitch to gather jersey, which sounds like a clever idea. It went ok, but I think the length that needed to be gathered is so short that the dental floss method wasn’t really necessary. This time I just handbasted to gather instead, and it worked fine. The gathers are actually the trickiest part of making this t-shirt!

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Other than that, quite simple and straight forward. The thing that’s taken the longest is waiting for my sewing machine to come back from boot-camp a tune-up, so I could hem the shirt! After so many knits lately, I’m switching gears and working on a plaid shirtdress, like I mentioned in the last post. It’s coming along nicely, but slowly – those stripes require some focus and attention matching up, and lets not even talk about the bias cut hem pieces. Hello interfacing!  But don’t worry, I still have some yardage left of jersey fabrics, I’m sure there will be more t-shirts soon!

tiny hoodies for tiny people

Ok, maybe not tiny, but at least way smaller than what I normally make!

hoodie_blue_full1I realized after the photo-shoot-fact that there is not much to indicate scale in them! This dress form is on the small side of my size, if that is a good helps. They fit a couple of 5 year-olds!

You see, I have a pair of twin boys in my family, and for Christmas I wanted to make them something. I think it’s more fun if they can be involved themselves, so I sent them a line drawing sheet from an Ottobre design sewing magazine I have, and asked them to pick something out. They wanted hoodies, so I ordered some jersey fabrics in blue and green, and got to work!

Fabric: All from Stoff og Stil. Blue cotton isoli jersey, green cotton rough isoli jersey, grey star-printed cotton stretch jersey, blue and orange striped cotton stretch jersey. About 0.85 meters or 0.9 yards of each was enough for size 116 and 122 centilong.
Pattern: Pattern 15 (hoodie) in Ottobre design Winter 6/2012
Techniques: Jersey, fully lined, separating zipper, bound hems.

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Aren’t they cute? They were a lot of fun to sew, being so small that they were finished quite quickly, and looking so much like something you could actually buy. I had fun picking out and combining fabrics for these. The pattern instructions called for fake fur fabric for the lining, but I chose plain stretch jersey instead. The outside fabric is thicker, something called isoli. It’s sweatshirt-like, but for some reason the blue fabric was very loosely woven compared to the green, so I kept being afraid it was all stretching out. The green isoli was much more firm and well behaved.

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I also wanted to offer a review of this pattern, since it’s the first one from Ottobre I have ever tried. When I first got seriously into sewing as a 14-year old, I would scour the library for Burda-magazines and check out stacks of them at a time. The things I made didn’t come out terribly well, which was probably a combination of my skills and fabric choices, and the fact that I would add random 2″ seam allowances, but sew at 1/4″ (yeah, I know. I don’t know what possessed me to do that other than overcationness on either end. Ha!).

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Anyways! My experience sewing with this Ottobre pattern has been good. My first thought flipping through the magazine is that the designs are modern, but so very wearable. I haven’t really paid much attention to kids patterns in sewing magazines, but I think they can easily get gimmicky or costume-like. I bought this issue (#6/2012) very intentionally for the range of patterns they have, thinking that hoodies, t-shirts, coats and jeans are great staples that are fun to sew when they’re so small! Here is a pfd with the line-drawings for that issue. One thing I appreciate is that they’ve offered the same design for several age groups. In addition to the hoodies that I sewed (number 15) for a couple of 5-year olds they have another hoodie in toddler sizes that more or less looks the same. The same is true for a pair of jeans, a set of coats, and button-down shirts. I actually love this – not only is it good for the magazine being able to double-duty the instructions across different designs, but it means that I’m not as limited. The really cute coat isn’t out of bounds because the sizing stops at kid-size, but is there in a teenage-appropriate version along with details appropriate for the size and age group as well.

Two thumbs up for the designs, and the styling is great too. They are kids, they are dressed in colorful but nice looking age apporpriate clothes, and they look modern and adorable. Yey! Ok, moving on. Tracing off the patterns! The magazine had two or three sheets with patterns, meaning that the sheets are a managable size. The patterns were printed on both sides of the paper (which was a nice weight paper too, none of the crappy tissue stuff that turns into a monster after you unfold it the first time), and marked with letters A, B, C, etc. The instructions for each garment tells you which sheet to find the pattern, what color the outline of the pattern is printed in (how clever!), and a little diagram of which pieces to cut and their numbers, and how many of each piece to cut in which fabric. The pattern sheet itself has markings almost like a map – if you’re pattern is printed in orange, and you need pattern piece number 7, you look for the orange number 7 at the bottom of the pattern sheet and then move your finger upward to find the patternpieces (how clever!). They definitely have Burda beat here! Or at the very least, my memory of what Burda was like working with.

hoodie_green_pocket

hoodie_blue_pocket

As for the instructions themselves, they are fine. Some parts were a little confusing, some I doubted the outcome of (mostly unneccessarily as usual), but overall they were perfectly fine. No illustrations and pretty bare-bones instructions, but they are fine. I did tweak a couple of them to get a neater end result, mostly agressively trimming at corners and such. The pieces all lined up perfectly, and the sewing was straight forward. I sewed this all on a regular sewing machine with a jersey sewing needle, so no overlocker is necessary! That’s of course partly because it’s partly lined, so none of the seam allowances are finished except the bound edges on the pockets and hems. The instructions called for twin needle stitching for the binding on the hems, but I did zig-zag stitches instead, and I think it came out looking rather nice and sporty!

A couple of things I thought strange was the length of the zippers, which called for a length of 42 cm (16.5″) and 43 cm (16.9″) in the two sizes I made. Anyone else see something strange? Those sizes don’t exist! The hoodies of course need separating zippers, so they can’t just be shortened either. I ended up ordering a 16″ and a 17″ zipper from the shop Zipperstop on Etsy, which were great. They have a mind-blowing selection, sooo many colors, and made a custom listing for me and were very quick to respond. O I ended up having to extend the binding around the corner at the bottom hem for the portion that wasn’t covered by the zipper, since the zippers really are supposed to go all the way to the bottom.

hoodie_green_zipper

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Another oddity is the seam allowance on these patterns. Generally, hem-allowances are included, but nothing else is. I find it odd to include some seam allowances but not all. Granted, you get to add whatever seam allowance you want, and the instructions clearly tell you where to add and where it’s already included. Still, just a little strange I think.

hoodie_green_inside

This last image is my favorite – I just love the star-printed lining! I hope these jackets fit, and will be worn to shreds. That’s always what I hope for! Anyone else doing some unselfish sewing?

 

outfit: easter sunshine

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Happy Easter! We had such lovely sunshine yesterday, so we took a walk around town and took some pictures. I wore what I’ve been calling my “dotty cowl dress”, which is the wearable muslin for my Ireland dress that I finally went back and properly finished.

Fabric: Polyester crepe (?) from Vogue Fabrics in Evanston, IL. I found this poly in the discount section, but it’s been nice to work with. And the color and print is so fun!
Pattern: Self-drafted, finally wearable muslin for the Ireland dress. See the not-so-wearable in-progress muslin here.
Techniques: Self-lined bodice, fabric cut on bias, invisible zipper, bound armhole seams, understitching, bra strap carriers.

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I think my favorite part of this dress is the irregular dotted fabric in a purple-putty/bright peach color combination. It made me laugh out loud at the fabric store, and since I have an ongoing goal of wearing more patterned fabrics, I snatched it up. You might have seen this dress before, as part of the process of making a floor length gown to wear to a wedding in Ireland. The finished dress turned out beautifully, which was of course thanks to making several muslins to tweak the fit!

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One of the things the muslin helped me see was some excess fabric diagonally on the back bodice. I fixed the pattern for the final dress obviously, but since I just wanted to make this muslin wearable I wasn’t going to recut anything. Below is a picture I took while doing the fitting adjustments, and then the finished wearable muslin. I’ve taken the excess out of the side seams only, but it did help! The armholes are a little oddly shaped now (a little high and tight, and abruptly shaped from the armhole going up), but this is a totally wearable muslin. In fact, I’ve worn it several times since finishing it – while giving a gallery tour, at a nicer dinner, and at an evening work event. Success!

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In sewing for myself I don’t make muslins often, mostly just when I make very fitted garments like strapless bodices or blazer-style jackets. I think this is actually the first time I’ve even made a test garment out of “real” fabric instead of the standard unbleached cotton muslin! I hate letting things go to waste, so I’m glad this dress was salvagable.

DSC_5583DSC_5558I wish a Happy Easter to all – for me that includes a lot of oranges and tea and chocolates, knitting, reading, and sitting against a sunny wooden cabin wall wearing sunglasses. Aaaah!

hemlock tee

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Fabric: The same rayon jersey from Stoff og Stil as the t-shirt I just made, this time in the color called grey-brown. I think it’s more of a grey-warm-purple, but ok.
Pattern: Hemlock Tee from Jen at Grainline studio.
Techniques: jersey fabric, neck binding, serged seams.

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I’m on a knit fabric sewing binge at the moment, with the t-shirt I just made and this t-shirt, in addition to the two knit hoodies and a ponte dress at the top of my sewing list.

John took pictures for me, and we got some funny shots – like the one above, with a non-existent wind machine and camouflage jeans! Anyways, Hemlock Tee! I made one, like a bunch of other people have. And I’m happy with it, like it seems everyone who makes it also is. It’s a slouchy, relaxed fit, and super easy to make. I think if I make another one I will narrow the neckline opening a little to make it slightly less hyper-casual. I really like what Andrea at four square walls did with her Hemlock Tees, so I might take a cue from those and lower the front neckline and narrow the sleeves.

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I overlocked all the seams on my serger, and finished the hems with a twin needle seam. I’m thinking of getting a coverlock machine this year, which would make these t-shirts even quicker and easier to make, and more professional looking, but for now I’m doing ok with the twin needle. Once you figure out the tension so it doesn’t pull or stretch out the seam, it works well. I tried a slightly different touch on the neckband, which was to straddle the two lines of stitches on either side of the seam, instead of having them both on one side. I’ve seen this on factory-made knitwear, so I wanted to give it a go. Looks good I think!

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Look how smug I am! Is it the t-shirt? Is it the awesome view? Is it the fact that my Easter holiday has begun? In any case, sewing knits is so quick – which makes it so satisfying!

dino-hood

This will seem a little out of season, I’ll admit, especially since I had bare arms in the last post, but the interwebs is telling me that Chicago is still having cool enough temperatures to warrant wolly things.

dino-hood_front

Yarn: Super bulky weight “Drops Eskimo” from “Garnstudio” in the yellowish green colorway 29, about 2 skeins (ravelry project page).
Pattern: Burton Bear Cowl
Techniques: Kitchener graft, crocheted details.

Here is the dino-hood I referenced as something I was making for not myself! It’s for the coolest little 5-year old kid in Chicago, and it’s because I came across this pattern, which is one of the most adorable things I’ve seen on a kid. I got to choose colors, and this green just called out to me. Which isn’t very surprising since I’ve actually made a cowl and hat from this exact yarn and exact color before! I’m so predictable. A trip to my mom offered the blue colored yarn to make a contrast binding and ears from – trying to think like a kid and not myself, I realized a bit of bold was a good thing.

dino-hood_side

I dragged my feet on this one a bit. I really wanted to get this kiddo his hood before spring set in, but man… I did not like the pattern. It irritated me by being incomplete in instructions and measurements – in one place it tells you to knit a certain amount of rows (no length indicated), and in another place to knit a certain length (no rows indicated). Add the fact that no row gauge or finished hood measurements is listed in the pattern (really? Basic stuff to include!) meant that it was hard to figure out what was going on. I’m also skeptical of a pattern that includes a size range of newborn to adult across 5 sizes, with 5 different needle sizes, but still only the one stitch gauge offered. This is a paid pattern, and I expect more info, more details, more instructions and better construction from my paid patterns.

There, I’m done being critical! Excpet for the changes I made to the pattern. First off I bound off some stitches at the center front of the hood to allow the button flap to lie better, and to avoid a weak spot from sideways strain. I, along with a lot of people making this I think, opted for a kitchener graft of the top of the hood instead of the crocheted binding in the pattern. Finally, I could not get my made-up ears to look remotely as cute as the pattern pictures. While watching the Eurovision semifinals on tv, my friend suggested I made some jagged points-thingies instead, and of course! A dinosour-like ridge of triangles was a *much* better fit for the cool kiddo than the ears, so jagged pieces it is!

dino-hood_on

The feedback is he loves it. Best result I could have hoped for!

quest for the perfect t-shirt

Lately I’ve been working on a lot of things for other people (ipad case! costumes! John’s socks! A dino-hood!), so my face hasn’t been around here much. I’ll still be sewing for other people a good while longer, since I have a costuming gig at the end of April, and two little nephew-boys I’m making hooded jackets for (tracing Ottobre patterns tomorrow!)

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But now for myself, I’ve made the first of what will be a slew of t-shirts – in the quest for the perfect t-shirt! I already had the perfect t-shirt of course, but after years of faithful use, it was falling apart. I finally took a seamripper to it, and used the pieces to trace off  new master pattern pieces. I traced off both left and right sides, averaging out the two.

Fabric: rayon jersey from Stoff og Stil, in a heathered blue.
Pattern: Self-drafted from a beloved old H&M t-shirt.
Techniques: jersey fabric, neck binding, serged seams.

This was quite a quick make! It took me 10 minutes to cut the fabric last night, and since I worked a later shift today I actually managed to sew it up in the morning and wear it to work, yey! How’s that for a productive start to the day? The fabric is a lovely heathered bluish grey, and very soft and drapey. It’s a little more substantial than the original t-shirt, which was almost a whisper thin cotton jersey, so I was a little worried it would drape differently. It’s not too far off though!

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And of course, as a first try, there are things to be changed for future versions, which I was anticipating. I’ll be adding a couple of inches to the hem, since the slightly too narrow fit at the hips means the t-shirt rides up a little. The sleeves jut out a little more than I’d like, so I’m thinking of taking out a wedge from the center of the sleeve to narrow it. Ooo, I came across the most wonderful explanation of sleeve cap shapes on a blog, I really recommend this post in particular, and her blog in general if you have any interest in patternmaking and/or fitting. Anyways, that post shows the mechanics behind why I don’t want to narrow the sleeve too much, since the sleeve cap would get taller, and therefore more difficult to sew in flat to the armscye before sewing the side seams in one fell swoop.

perfect_t-shirt1Never mind the scratch – kittens are vicious things! No, not really, just very sharp-clawed.

Enough technical talk! I have a lovely weekend planned with what’s looking like beautiful weather, a pub quiz with colleagues, a school reunion, and a Sunday hike. Anyone else have a nice weekend planned?

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