Sunday, June 26, 2016

City Gym Shorts

Here's a quick summer project:

Business in the front
These are the City Gym Shorts, a free pattern from Pearl Soho. They describe the pattern thusly: 
Designed with a classic tulip hem and an easy elastic waist, these shorts have all the comfort and ease of traditional exercise gear but with way more style! 

Party in the back!
I wouldn't call them hard-core exercise gear. No pockets, for one thing. What's a girl to do with her keys? 

They are straightforward to put together, though, and they come out looking fairly stylish. I think that's partly because  they have a lower rise. My earlier version of simple elastic waist shorts (Burdastyle 06/2014 116a) came up to my true waist, where the elastic created a fairly bulky, crumpled paper bag effect. The City Gym Shorts sit about 3 inches below my waist, or about 1.5 inches below my belly button.

Straightforward doesn't mean trouble free. The waistband was a bit of a fiddle, but I think it comes out looking pretty RTW. You end up with the one-inch elastic plus 5 layers of fabric wrapped around the top. In a lightweight woven, this finish feels nice and substantial. It could be a nightmare in a heavier fabric.

The tulip hem is cute and gives you a nice range of motion. The instructions have you finish the hems with bias tape, which was the most technically demanding part of the whole process for me. But I did like the way it looks, once I got 'er done. 

The pattern is intended for lightweight wovens, which means you can have fun sifting through your scraps. I used the remnants from my Wave Dress.  

I think the pattern delivers a pretty close fit. I made the size suggested for 35-37 inch hip, and they feel good, but if they were any snugger, I'd have to shimmy to get them on. I'd suggest measuring the flat pattern before you commit to your size.

I don't think I'll be wearing them for running, but for an easy bike ride, or a trip to the gym to lift weights, they'll be just the ticket. I can also report they work well for lounging around the yard, sipping a cooling beverage.

My pattern review is on here.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Cabaret Raglan

And now, for something completely different, a knitted FO:

This is the Cabaret Raglan, by Norah Gaughan. Looks like it was originally published in Interweave Knits back in summer of 2004. Apparently, I don't like to jump right on a knitting pattern when it first comes out. I like to let it marinate for a bit; let a few hundred other people work out the kinks for me.

This is Norah's version from back in the day
I have always liked this pattern though, so a few months ago I decided to dive in. A recent tossing of the yarn stash has reminded me that I have a few sweater-length lots of yarn that I really like and it would be swell to convert them into something useful.

I used some Rowan All Seasons Cotton that I got at the Yarn Dogs closing sale many moons ago. It's nice and soft and sweat-shirty; just right for this top, I think.

I made the smallest size (36.5 bust), which just about used up my 650 yards. The yarn was just a little bit beefier than worsted weight. Does that translate to aran? Anyways, it produced the 17 stitches to 4 inches that the pattern called for.

This was my first time knitting a bottom up raglan. I deviated from the instructions by knitting the body in one piece up to the arms, then dividing and knitting the front and back. I went ahead and knitted the sleeves flat though; I think I'd rather seam than fiddle with two circulars or magic loop or whatnot for  those two stinking little tubes. I've been converted by a recent Mason Dixon Knitting post. I also added a little bit of waist shaping.

Here's a closer look at the pattern on the front. I kind of like it. There's a bit of yarn-overing and a few tiny traveling cables. Enough to liven up the stocking stitch a bit. I was worried that the lacy bits would be low enough to put my bra on display, but it sits just high enough to save me from that embarrassment.

This was a pretty quick knit. It's a straightforward pattern at a pretty large gauge. If you're looking to bang out a sweater, or if you want to give a first try to a bit of cables or lace, I recommend it!

Monday, June 20, 2016

Two Piece Dressing

Regular readers may remember that I had an experience with Shopping Under the Influence several months ago at Back Porch Fabrics in Pacific Grove. One of my buys was three yards of fish fabric.

Fish fabric with background octopus
I'm kind of a sucker for fish patterned fabric. Well, fish patterned anything, really. I used to keep aquariums when I was younger. I had a Geophagus jurupari who would swim up to the glass and wag his tail at me, asking for worms, which he would eat from my fingers. The green fish in this fabric kind of reminded me of him. And when I saw the octopus in the background, I was a goner. I just finished reading The Soul of an Octopus, and I'm now half-way in love with octopuses.

I thought three yards would be plenty of fabric to make a dress, but it turned out to be more challenging than I'd expected. For one thing, the print is large and directional. For another, the fabric was 45 inches wide. Plus, how often do I really need to be wearing a fish dress? But a fish top and a fish skirt, now that would give me some options.

Front view, casually styled with no shoes
I wanted to avoid slicing sea creatures into bits unless absolutely necessary, so I hunted for patterns with a minimum of construction details.

For the top, I ended up using one of the views of McCall's 8050, which claims it offers "9 Great Looks, 1 Easy Pattern." I used View F; cut on sleeves and no darts. Then I whacked my remaining fabric into two equal lengths and fiddled around with pleats to come up with a matching skirt. 
Back view
I like them pretty well together, even though it does look like a lot of fish.

Side view
Plus, I can wear the top with jeans or what have you.

And the skirt with other tops. Though I'll have to do some thinking to come up with tops that go with schools of fish, backed up with octopuses.

My pattern review is on here.

And here is a bonus picture of Eartha, currently my only fish. She's a very personable little soul. She blows kisses at the surface when she wants her breakfast. We've had her for about four years now. I'm hoping she says with us as long as Snapper, her predecessor. We had him for 16 years before he died. Possibly from boredom, which is why I have a rotating series of plates I set up for Eartha for intellectual stimulation.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Eleonore Jeans, Take Two

I made my first pair of Eleonore jeans in February. I've worn those pants quite a lot. They're so easy to hop into, and they have such a high comfort factor. Bike riding, hiking, mopping floors, gardening or slouching in the recliner; they hit the sweet spot. Their only real downside is that the stretch twill suiting I used is a total dog hair magnet. The Great Pyrenees fuzz literally flies up off the carpet to cling to them.

Worn here with a Kirsten kimono tee and a Honey cowl
So I hauled out my precious piece of stretch denim and pumped out Eleonore #2. And I like them even more than Eleonore #1.

Back view, with hand in functional pocket
This fabric is a tad heavier and snappier than the previous pair, and the surface is much less attractive to fluff and fuzz.
Side view
This time I left off the faux front pockets. Sewing those two opposing curves together was a little more trouble than I was willing to go to for non-functional pockets. I did keep the faux front fly, though. It's so easy to do that little bit of topstitching, and it makes it clear that these are Jeans, dag nab it, not yoga pants. Even though you could totally do yoga while wearing them.

My friend, Lucy, made some Elonores with some stretch denim from Emmaonesock that she says is the bomb. I just ordered a whack of the mocha color, because I need me another pair of these pants.

My pattern review is on here.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Me Made May - The Finish Line

Here are my pix from the last nine days of May.

Monday, May 23

Monday was such a lazy day, I can't even remember what I did. Whatever it was, I wore one of my Alabama Chanin sleeveless tees with my Burdastyle 08-2015-125b, Pleated Trousers. I can be sure I didn't ride my bike anywhere. These pants are super breezy and comfortable, but guaranteed to get stuck in my chain and throw me to my death beneath the wheels of a bus.

Tuesday, May 24
Tuesday I met my friend, Beth, for dinner at Lago di Como, by the sea. It turned into a beautiful, clear and sunny day and we had a great dinner. I wore my new BS 06-2011-104 top along with my old friends, the stretch denim BS 10-2013-107.

Wednesday, May 25
Wednesday I met my friend, Lisa, for dinner at Chocolate in downtown Santa Cruz. We had our usual salad-with-a-glass-of-wine, and I had a Tina for dessert. Yum. A Tine is a teeny, tiny cup of hot chocolate with just a dab of whipped cream. So small, it hardly counts, but the chocolate is so thick and delicious, you can eat it with a spoon. I wore a loose tee-dress, which is basically the Burdastyle ruched shoulder tee (BS 02-2013-126), lengthened to my knees.

Thursday, May 26
Thursday was another easy day. No meetings, no commitments. I wore my second pair of BS 05-2012-122, the Pajama Style Pants, with an Alabama Chanin tee. I've made about 6 of these tees and I love them. The style is so classic and well-fitting. High crew neck, slim fit, sleeves or not, as you choose. They remind me of the Basic Tees I used to get at The Gap, back in the day when I shopped for clothes.

Friday, May 27
Friday I rode my bike to the elementary school to do my tutoring in the morning, and then up the hill to campus in the afternoon for a hike with my friend, Anne. I needed something comfortable to move in, so I wore my BS stretch denim pants and a cowl neck tee that I made from directions in an old Threads magazine. Every time I wear this tee I remind myself I need to make another - I bet I could turn out something with a neater finish nowadays. For dinner, The Man took me to Cafe Limelight for pannini and hummus. Yum.

Saturday, May 28
Saturday was another easy, at home day. I can tell it must have gotten sunny because I'm wearing a sleeveless top; the BS 09-2011-128. This is another top I've made multiple times. It's a great pattern if you have a large scale print and you somehow only bought one yard. No darts, no muss, no fuss. The trousers are my denim BS 05-2012-122.

Sunday, May 29
Sunday I was a little under the weather. It was warm enough for a skirt, so I wore my Road Trip Skirt ( BS 05-2012-118), and my Scout tee. But, apparently, no shoes.

Monday, May 30, Memorial Day
Monday we met my friend, Martha, for a tasting at Venus Spirits on the West Side. If you find yourself in Santa Cruz, and you're not a teetotaler, this is a fun thing to do on a sunny weekend afternoon. We tried two gins, two agaves, a rye and a whiskey. My first time tasting everything but the whiskey. We got to keep the glasses, plus we got to eat two baskets of really delicious pretzels. I wore my Vogue 8382, one of the first things I made when I started sewing again about 5 years ago. The darts are wack, but I really like the fabric, so it survived my closet Kondo-ing. I'd like to try this pattern again, now that I have a bit more sewing experience under my belt.

Tuesday, May 31
Tuesday I wore my shirtwaist dress from Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing. I had planned to wear this dress on Memorial Day, but I found I was missing a button. Luckily, I had sewn a back-up button to the inside seam, just below the pocket, so I had a spare to pop back on. I stole this tip from RTW and it's been handy several times. I like this dress. There's shirring at the back waist, which gives it a nice shape, but it's very comfortable to wear.

In retrospect, it looks like I go out to dinner a lot. Really, I don't. May was just an unusually social month. Just as well, because it gave me an excuse to haul out some of the dresses I don't often wear. It was so much fun seeing what other sewists wear in their daily lives. Thanks, Zo, for creating this annual event!