Sunday, August 31, 2014

Easiest Tee Yet

In my last-minute sewing frenzy before we left for Oregon, I pulled out my September, 2011 issue of BurdaStyle and traced out tee #108, the dolman sleeve tee. Burda calls these kimono sleeves, but they look like dolmans to me.

Front view
I had a nice piece of cotton jersey with a large print that I got at Backstitch in Nevada City. I thought this pattern would be just the ticket - no darts or pesky sleeves to set in to break up those giant flowers. Plus, you couldn't ask for a quicker sew. Two pattern pieces: a back and a front, both cut on the fold, and a neckband. Wham, bam, thank you ma'am; you're done.

Back view
I like to have a few light, loose, long sleeve tees around for summer wear. Even with liberal applications of sun screen I start to burn pretty quick.

Burda describes the top as slightly fitted, which is right on the money. It has enough shaping so that it feels loose but not baggy. The dolman sleeves help with the breezy feel, and I don't think they're too extreme. I lived through the 80's so I've seen some dolmans that would make your hair curl.

Sleeves hoiked up
Next time I think I'll make the sleeves just a tad longer and narrow them at the cuff just a bit. I often shove long sleeves up to my elbows when I'm doing dishes and what not. These sleeves are loose enough so that they creep back down on me before I'm ready.

For such a simple pattern, I like the way this turned out. I have some striped jersey that I'm eyeing up for version #2.

I ended up cutting the top about 3 inches shorter than Burda suggested. I wanted it to hit at my high hip, which feels long enough to tuck in but short enough so that it doesn't look too tunic-y when un-tucked. Not that I have anything against a good tunic! In a heavier knit this pattern would make a great one. Note to self: winter is coming.

My pattern review is on here.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

To Portland and Back

Whew! We're back from our second road trip of the summer. Another 1,500 miles on the old auto. We had a great time, and there were a few craft-related activities, so here's a quick post.
First off, here's the photo of my new McCall's sundress on the veranda at the Ashland Springs Hotel. My chilled white wine is on its way. Thanks again, Graca! I felt comfy and breezy while watching Two Gentlemen of Verona that evening.

There are a couple of nice fabric stores in Ashland. I stopped by Sew Creative while I was there and bought a jacket pattern.

They teach a class on making this jacket, and if I lived in Ashland I would so be there. They had a few samples made up in the store and it looked like a nice, light layer that you could use some fun fabrics for. And easy to boot! I'll have to toss the stash to find a good trial fabric.

From there we headed up to Portland and spent a night at The Benson Hotel. Built in 1913 by a lumber baron who did not stint on the mahogany.

Stop by for a dink in the bar, the cocktails are mighty fine
While in Portland I made a swing by Bolt Fabric, where I treated myself to Jalie 2908. I figure if I'm going to try sewing a pair of jeans, this is the pattern to start with.

We didn't try the salad wraps across the street, but they looked like they had something for everyone! Here are my fabric purchases; few but lovely.

The purple is from Sew Creative in Ashland and the blue print is from Bolt
From Portland we headed up the Columbia River to Hood River and the Columbia Gorge Hotel, another of our favorite old hotels.

Just outside Hood River is an alpaca farm run by Foothills Yarn and Fiber. They also have a little store on site where you can buy alpaca yarn spun from the little guys right outside.

The aplaca had just been shorn, so they looked like little Einsteins. They had a sign saying to keep your pets in the car because they have a flock guardian dog on duty. Sure enough, it was a Great Pyrenees like our Zoe. Only his name was Charlie and he was about twice her size. Poor guy was not enjoying the heat. You could see him thinking, "Don't make me stand up and bark at you..."

I got a skein of their alpaca. Couldn't resist, it was so soft. I think it's enough to knit up a super-warm cowl for winter.

I was thinking this trip would be a bust for thrift-store patterns, but I came upon a box of Vogue American Designer patterns from the 90's in a little antique store across the river in White Salmon, Washington. At two bucks a pop, I'll give them a whirl!

Now to get to sewing!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Sleeveless Tee, Alabama Chanin Style

When I finished my red dress I had just enough fabric left to tempt me to try to squeeze something else out of it. This jersey, which I got at Backstitch, was so soft, and with such a nice weight and drape that I couldn't see hiding it as undies. Plus it's a red I can get away with wearing, which is a rare thing.

I tried pretty much every tee shirt pattern I own, but couldn't get the pieces to fit. I could tell that my best bet was going to be the tee shirt from Alabama Studio Sewing + Design, which I've already traced out and made a few times. If I made the sleeveless version, I was so close.

I was almost ready to give up, when I realized I could cut the back in two pieces and seam it together up the middle. Who's going to notice a seam in the back? And if they do, I'll be facing the other way and I won't care.

This tee, sans sleeves, is kind of like a shell. The high neck and the shoulder-coverage keep the sun off a bit, and it would work well with a cardigan or jacket for work.

The seam isn't too obvious, thanks to the fairy random vertical print.
I toyed with the idea of making the arm scythes a bit more open, but I'm glad I didn't. They're plenty comfortable and I like having the coverage up top.

Another easy-packer for our trip to Oregon. You've gotta love a good tee shirt.

My review is on here.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Winner Winner, New Dress for Dinner

Graca, who blogs at Sew Essentially Sew, has been running a series of great pattern giveaways, and I was the lucky winner of McCalls 8133!

It even has a square-neck version!
When I saw this pattern offered up on her blog I was struck with a vision of myself wearing the sleeveless, square-neck View B with a broad-brimmed sun hat while sipping a chilled chardonnay on the veranda of the Ashland Springs Hotel, where I will be staying next week.

My voyage was a bit hit-or-miss, but I think I got there in the end!

Lately I've been sewing mainly from my BurdaStyle magazines, because I have a stack 4 feet high and I've figured out how their sizing fits me. I knew I'd have to play around with this pattern to figure out the fit and I knew from my tireless sewing research (a.k.a. reading my favorite blogs) that McCall's probably built in more ease than I'm used to with BurdaStyle.

If I take a deep breath I'm a 36" bust. That would put me in McCall's size 14 which, the pattern envelope advised me, would result in a garment with a finished bust measurement of 42 inches. Too much for my taste. So I started with the size 10, designed for a 32.5 inch bust. And a 25 inch waist. Ha! Not a chance.  But how to tell if they'd designed for 6 inches of waist ease too?

The bodice has lovely princess seams in front and two darts in back. I measured the flat pattern pieces at the waist and tried to do the math, remembering (on try #2) to subtract for the darts and all those seam allowances. Dang, that's a pain to do in inches. This is why the rest of the civilized world went metric. After running through a few pages of figures and failing to come up with the same answer twice, I just cut the straight size 10, thinking I could always take a smaller seam allowance at the waist.

I like the back - feels very summery.
Actually, it came up fitting pretty darn well; even a bit loose. This way I can have some brie and baguette with that chardonnay and still sit comfortably for Two Gentlemen of Verona.

I used some cotton from the stash that I got on sale at a local quilting store. I liked the colors and it was cheap enough that I thought I could use it for muslins. There was enough to give this dress a go, but only just. The skirt on this little number is pretty full.

Once I saw the fabric and the pattern together, I really liked the combo. Which is why it was doubly sad that I spaced out and cut the wrong facing pieces. Doh. Fiddled around for a while to see if I could re-cut, but no dice. Not enough fabric, even if I cut with the grain all catty-wumpus.

Here's my hidden silver lining: there was a time when I would have collapsed into despair at this point, after casting the partly-constructed dress into the back of the upstairs closet. Now that I have a little more sewing experience under my belt, I thought of three ways I could salvage my summer sundress dreams.
  1. I could make the version with sleeves instead. Oddly, there was enough fabric left to squeeze out the sleeves. I was wedded to the sleeveless vision though, so I rejected option 1.
  2. I could use bias binding instead of facings to finish the sleeves. But the sleeveless view had an all-in-one facing that I really liked and I feared the neck facing would be impossible to tame if it weren't incorporated with the sleeve facings. So I rejected option 2 as well.
  3. I could just cut the facings out of some other fabric. After all, if I do my job well the facings should be invisible, right? Right! So I went with option 3.

OK, so they're not totally invisible, but close enough for government work!

A million thanks, Graca! I'll be toasting you from the veranda on Tuesday night!

My review is on here.