Thursday, 29 September 2016

Refashioners 2016: Jeanius!

Jeans. Ugh. I haven't actually worn a proper pair of jeans in a loooooooong time. After seeing Portia's post about this year's Refashioners theme, I wasn't really sure if I should participate. I mean, I've participated in contests before only to end up with a garment I never wear.
So I decided to lay out some ground rules for participating:

1. My end garment MUST be something I will wear. Not like to a wedding one time, but often. (i.e. Must resist all temptation to make a ball gown just because I like to be crazy like that.)

2. In line with rule #1, I will only participate if I find a coloured or patterned pair of jeans in a colour/pattern I like since I am not huge on plain old denim.

In essence, I would only participate by making this challenge work for me, not the other way around.
Well...BINGO! I found these ridiculously amazing patterned jeans at the local thrift shop. I won't share prices because, needless to say, thrifting in Canada ain't cheap. But those jeans! And they look like beautiful brush strokes! I was sold.
I decided really early on in the process that I wanted something that would work with the jeans, opting for a dress with more structure. I had about a million ideas for this (which if you follow me on Pinterest, you will undoubtedly have noticed), but decided that because of the limited amount of fabric, I needed to take it one step at a time.
First I started with the bodice. After some humming and hawing, I decided that I wanted the bodice to be in the patterned jeans. Originally I had wanted to do the back bodice in the patterned jeans with burgundy jeans in the front (with a front zipper), but decided I liked the pattern too much to have it hide behind me all day. So I whipped the bodice up using my trusty Simplicity 1873.
Next I had to decide on a skirt. After seeing how artsy the bodice looked, I wanted a skirt that matched the artsy-ness of the bodice but more so in terms of the shape and structure of the skirt. I had really liked the looks of the three skirts below. I settled on the far left one (with input from my sister), until I realized I would need two jeans of the same colour to get enough fabric for it. I had already bought different coloured jeans and on principle I wasn't going out to pick up a fourth pair. (And I didn't like the idea of just using the two different colours to make up this skirt.)
That's when I came across the below pic on Pinterest.
EUREKA! I thought this would look pretty nice with the two tones and I knew I would have enough fabric to pull it off. I used a basic skirt block (for the first time), and just sort of laid things out until it worked. I don't think you can call that draping, but whatever it was, I like the outcome.
I used the inseam of the white jeans to make the front overlap, and the hem on both the burgundy and white parts of the skirt are the jeans hems (Hooray for no hemming!).
At this point, I tried the dress on and.....I hated it. It didn't fit right and it was missing something. I took the hips in where it meets the waist and took in the back zipper at the top by a lot. Taking it in to be more fitted completely changed my perspective on the dress.
I then decided to make a big bow to add just that final little "oomphf". I figured the jeans would help the bow to hold its shape really well. Luckily, I was right and I am SO glad I added it! I think it takes this dress to another level. I also really like how you can see the jeans pocket in the bow. It's my little tip of the hat to the dress' former life.
As a last little detail, I used some of the leftover jeans scraps to make some matching earrings.
This dress has been such an emotional rollercoaster. I love it, I hate it, I need a break from it, I might like it sort of, I love it, I hate it, I love it but it doesn't fit, it fits but it is too plain, I LOVE IT! (Not to mention cutting through my fabric while trimming a seam, accidentally cutting out a pattern piece twice without remembering to flip the pattern, and almost tearing a hole in the front when pinning on the bow with a broken safety pin in order to determine bow placement.) I've really learned a lot and am so happy to see people's reactions when I tell them this used to be jeans. (Read: everyone is amazed!)
I'm pleased to say that I feel like a fancy babe when I wear the dress and thus will be wearing it often to work (i.e. mission accomplished).
Well, only one day left until the deadline: did you participate in the Refashioners this year? Would you wear something that is quite "out there" like this is? If you've already made something you would classify as "artsy", please do share!

Sunday, 18 September 2016


It has been a couple of weeks of intense sewing over here in the McTavish household. I entirely credit the upcoming school year (now since started) and all of my old (like five years +) RTW clothing that is covered in grease stains and holes (nothing says professional like wearing rags to work).

Making good on my last post complaining explaining my complete and utter disregard for properly matching patterns to their proper fabrics, I went ahead and purchased a few patterns that would work well with what I have on hand (yay stash busting!).

Two of those patterns are the Linden sweatshirt and the Axel skirt. To be honest I wasn't entirely sold on Axel until I saw Megan's killer striped version (SWOON) and only then thought how I may just be able to make it work.

FIRST// Linden v.1
I had read that the Linden was pretty roomy so I made a wearable muslin using some leftover fabrics from previous projects. I had to do some creative piecing as a result, but I am pretty happy with the look overall.
I cut a size 6 in the bust, 8 in the waist, and 14 in the hips as per the measurement chart and indeed found the fit a bit roomy for my preferences (although it doesn't really look it except for maybe in the photo above).
I added a wee pocket just for some visual interest to break up the grey.
Overall opinion of the pattern at this point: I was surprised the seam allowances were so small but then after giving it some thought I really liked it. I saved a lot of time from trimming my seam allowances down for neatness. I like this sweater and will wear it but it will probably be my camping/lounging-around-the-house sweater more than my wear-out-to-a-fancy-dinner sweater.

SECOND // Axel v.1 Linden v.2
My "sexy" come hither face?!
Axel: This is my first version of Axel, in a terrible, almost scracthy, black, vintage (80s) polyester that almost ended up in a donate bin, but I thought the better of it figuring I should make a wearable muslin of this new-to-me pattern before ripping into my soft, supple ponte.
I cut a small waistband and a large hip. I actually tried to grade between the sizes by making my own curve from the waistband to the hip, similar to the original pattern, but found I had to pinch out a ton of fabric that was weirdly pooling just above my hips at the widest part. This first version of the skirt is snug (you can see the pulling across the front) and I found the slit comes up too high for comfort, but I think this has to do a lot with me measuring my natural waist instead of where I would prefer to wear the skirt. As a result of this natural waist measurement, the waist creeps up and thus, so does the skirt. In the end, I'll wear the skirt, but not to work (maybe a date night?).
Overall opinion of the pattern at this point: I actually didn't fix the weird pooling until after my third version so I was a little frustrated with the fit, and the fact that it was riding up to be risque, BUT despite this I was SO happy that from cutting to finish, this pattern took me two hours to complete. We are talking world record speed sewing here folks. Also, I do like the slit and the fact that the skirt is midi giving it the sexy librarian vibe. I was very excited to try out a second version very soon.
Linden: After the roominess of the first version, I figured I could try cutting down to a straight size four and get away with it. I went for version two this time, again using some leftover fabric, and let me tell you I don't want to get out of this top. It is my new favourite thing! It is comfy and trendy, and yet not so trendy that I couldn't get away with wearing this in a few years.The fabric itself is a poly/rayon ponte knit that is very light for ponte (I got away with wearing it in our ridiculous summer heat a few times), which gave me an idea for v.3.....

THIRD // Linden v. 3 Axel v.2
Linden: I had just recently been talking to a certain someone about the Penny Raglan from Grainline when I was in the process of finishing my second version of Linden. When I saw how well the Linden worked in a lighter weight fabric, I got the idea to make Linden in this luscious drapey navy rayon jersey, essentially mimicking the Penny Raglan, but with longer sleeves (this could easily be remedied but I actually like the longer sleeves on this version).
The only thing I would do different if I tried this again is I would use a slightly longer neckline binding piece. I'm not sure if my neckline stretched out or if the binding just wasn't stretchy enough to fit, but I really had trouble getting it to fit. I may also cut the sleeve length if I use a lightweight fabric. I've already got two more Lindens cut out and ready to go, one of each version, using a nice fuzzy sweater knit I've been hoarding since last year. I can't wait for those!
Axel: So, let me start by saying I almost got rid of this fabric because I felt it "wasn't me" (seriously July Carlee, WTF?). When I got the Axel pattern, I saw the fabric in the pile and rethought my decision. This is also a vintage 80s polyester, but this one is much less scratchy than the black poly for version one.
Gratuitous leg shot
Some changes that I made: I added about two inches of length above the slit so that the slit would still retain its angle without potentially exposing my underwear. I then cut maybe two inches off the bottom, but this was only because there wasn't much of this fabric left and the pattern would not have fit otherwise. I graded from a small at the waist to an extra large at the hip. I still have the same problem with the skirt inching up (I didn't realize the waist issue mentioned above until after both skirts were made), but the extra length above the slit gives me a bit of wiggle room before I need to yank the skirt down. For my next Axel, I will properly measure out where I want the waistband to sit instead of at my natural waist to prevent this. This fit is much less snug, but still very form fitting (a.k.a. fitted but not unflattering to a pear girl like me).
Overall I am really quite pleased with this version of the skirt in particular and have gotten quite a few compliments on it at work already. I hope to make some more soon but its more likely that a few other projects will have to move up the queue first for practicality's sake. I highly recommend Axel, especially since it is such a quick make (2 hours the second time too...woo hoo!). A great stash buster and a great sewjo booster. I look forward to my next versions!

What about you? Have you tried either of these patterns? Do you want to now? What are your thoughts?

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Rebel, rebel.

Suggested fabrics. I never did like a suggestion, preferring instead to go the non-traditional route. Sometimes it has worked out brilliantly. Other times, seems like there have been more "other times" as of late.

I have never been known to not be stubborn. It is just a thing. Once I get something in my head, that's it. I need to see it to the end. Even if that means a spectacular fail.

I really, really like ponte knit. And after wearing the $%^& out of my two ponte Hot Cocoa Sweaters, my thought process probably went something a little like this:

I wish I could wear these all year....wait! I know! I will make t-shirts out of this delicious fabric so I CAN! At which point I went out and bought copious amounts of ponte knit fabrics in my favourite colours and patterns.

This brings us my last me-made, the Bronte t-shirt, again, made out of ponte. Don't get me wrong. I like the shirt and I wear it. But I don't love it. It bunches up and it is too hot to wear in the summer and I have to constantly move my bra straps from showing. In the end, not a spectacular fail, but not a win either (And to add insult to injury, the skirt that I made to go with it, my meta circle skirt, though cute, definitely should not have been made out of a quilting cotton, even one as drapey as that. It just sits weird and feels too thin).

So here I am with the shirt that FINALLY made me realize that maybe I should forego my non-traditional route and start paying attention to suggestions. Just a little.

I had seen a ton of tees on Pinterest that I loved such as the following:
I just love that loose shape that is flowy without making the wearer look "wide". I love that the sleeves seem to fall at the perfect point, I love the sleeve cuffs, and I really like the high-low hem, especially the curved one. I had watched this "easy video" on copying clothes. I figured, what the hell, let's give it a shot.

I copied the body and sleeves of one of my looser tees and the scoop neck of another. I used the ponte leftover from my Bronte (which, I guess, is leftover from my mom's and MIL's mother's day gifts from last year), and the sleeves and pocket is leftover from Harley's/now Sweet Dee's bed. I am really happy with how my top stitching is on this. I guess that is something?
I like the pocket, but without the extra stitching. Unfortunately, the inner row of stitching is what is keeping the pocket fabric from fraying like cray-cray. I should have just zig-zagged before top-stitching. Womp womp.
The sleeves are too tight and the top is definitely not flowy on me, so, although I finished the top (to the donate pile!), I didn't bother hemming the bottom of the top, instead putting some bartacks at the sides and leaving it as it. I think it works.
Oh, and the armpits are pinching in all gross-like. Ugh.
So what the gosh darn mommy fudger happened?! Well, wrong fabric choice is the biggest culprit here, obviously. I have since done a thorough search of patterns that I like and that--*gasp*--actually call for ponte knit. I have narrowed things down to driftless, axel, and morris. I also have Linden at the printers and, of course, there is always my trusty hot cocoa (I won't lie, I've also mentally added coco to the list as I have the perfect black and white stripe ponte sitting in my stash, however, I've seen people make linden sweatshirt dresses--top left--and that may end up being what happens).
At the same time, I've actually bought some nice jerseys for tee making--another *gasp*! I finished a project for a friend and had a ton of leftover drapey lucious rayon jersey, and I picked up some of this linen jersey when mood had it on sale a few months ago.

My second big mistake is cheaping out when it comes to a pattern. I just need to suck it up and buy more DIY. I've since been on the hunt for a great tee pattern and have decided I like all of Grainline's, but can't decided which one. I think I like penny the best but worry it won't look nice tucked in to a skirt (also, practically no one online has made one?!). I was leaning towards the lark, until I saw all the knit scouts online (here). Scout it is.

All in all, I have decided to stop rebelling and give in (well, I suppose with the exception of scout ;)). I'm going to stop half-assing things and start full-assing them. Full-ass all the way. Because a tight weird tee with pinchy armpits sucks when you have limited sewing time before school starts up again in September. And even moreso when the rest of your wardrobe is literally falling apart and threadbare.
Go free wee one! Find a new home through the Salvation Army! Godspeed.
What about you? What sewing blunders have you had to learn from? What is your favourite tee pattern and why? (Let me learn from your mistakes lol)

{Rebel, rebel.}