Thursday, February 27, 2014

Thank you, and my new hat!

Thank you so much to all of you who left me birthday messages yesterday!  I really had a wonderful day, and it meant so much to me that you took the time to comment!

I'm off on my romantic weekend now, but I have a very fun update.  Remember that Secret Hat Project?  Well, I got to open my hat from my friend on Tuesday night.  I love it SO MUCH!  Isn't it beautiful?

Not only does it have a big ol' pompom and some beautiful aran patterning, but my friend made it using one of my all-time favorite yarns, Rowan DK Soft, long ago discontinued.  She had to hold three strands together to get the right gauge.  I'm so honored that she used this precious yarn from her stash to make my present.

One of my birthday treats was that another of my besties, Alicia, spent the day with me.  We had a yummy lunch first, and then went to Oak Park to tour the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio.  I've wanted to see it for years and I'm so glad I went, and that I got to enjoy it with a good friend.  Part of the tour was outdoors, so I wore my new hat the entire time:

Thanks again to EVERYONE who helped make my special day even more special.  I've only got 364 more days to act like Sally O'Malley, and I intend to make use of them!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Happy Sally O'Malley Day!

In other words:  Holy Crap!  I'm 50!

Like Sally, I like to stretch.  I don't mind kicking either, but I can't really do it in these pants, LOL!

Happy birthday to MEEEEEEE!

I'm heading off for a romantic long weekend with my honey in a warmer clime.  February birthdays kind of stink, but at least turning 50 is fun!  Catch you all on the flip side!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Accidental Hemlocks

Yesterday I made two more Hemlock tees.

Even though they've been on my list for a while, I hadn't really planned to make them until the weather warmed up a bit.  But since my serger was already threaded with green from making the Renfrew the other day, I decided to just go ahead with the green one.  And then I figured that as long as I had the pattern out and ironed, I may as well make the turquoise one!  So . . . two new t-shirts!

Don't ask my why I love this very oversized style so much, and yet the Lola was not for me!  What can I say?  I'm an enigma!  Actually, it probably has more to do with the balancing effect of wearing an oversized top with skinny jeans.

Here's a little life tip:  when Life (or in this case, Girl Charlee) hands you lemons (or in this case, fabric too thin and drapey to make the green and white striped dress you'd planned on) - make a Hemlock!  I made these two in the span of about 3 hours.

I'm particularly pleased with the turquoise one.  I got this 1-yard remnant of burnout tissue knit at Vogue right before the Stash Diet started for $2.99.  The color is so gorgeous - these pictures don't do it justice.  It's like a clear summer sky.  I had to channel my inner Mad Housewife to get this big tee out of one yard, but I managed it!  So proud!

And I wanted to get these posted in time for the February Stash Diet Round-Up, which Andrea will be hosting this month.  If you're taking part in the Diet and haven't yet sent in your photos and links to her, go over and do that before Friday!

Monday, February 24, 2014

A Lola Fail

Well, I said I would sew the Victory Patterns Lola this month, and I did.  But it's not a winner.  In contrast to yesterday's post, I have a fair amount to say about this :-)

I've wanted to make the Lola dress for a couple of years, and finally bought the pattern a year ago.  When Andrea and I were in Michigan in December, we came across some two-sided merino wool jersey we thought would be a good match for this pattern.  And although the fabric wasn't expensive, it felt "special," so I decided I'd better make a muslin before cutting into it.  I headed over to JoAnn's to find some sweatshirt fabric, and came away with a piece in NEON pink because it made me happy.

And then I got stuck for a while.  Here's why:  according to the sizing on the envelope I need:

size 2 bust
size 6 waist
size 10 hip

Yikes!  Grading across 5 sizes?!  And on top of that, I've never made a princess-seamed garment.  Ever.  I tried to do some research on the interwebz, but I only found a couple of projects where the makers said they'd graded the pattern.  However, they didn't say how, just that they graded from x to y.

I thought long and hard about how to deal with this pattern, and finally came up with a method that I thought would work for me.  That in itself is pretty involved, and I'm not going to share how I did it because the end result doesn't warrant it, IMO.  That said, if you guys are interested and want to see what I did, I don't mind writing a separate post about it.  Let's just say, it was a lot more mathy than I'm comfortable with.

In the end I went with a size 6 bust, 8 waist and 10 hip.  That enabled me to only have to grade across 3 sizes, and I thought it would be OK to have a slouchier look on a sweatshirt dress.  I was also worried about the armholes - my previous experience with the VP Anouk dress made me suspect that the armholes on Victory Patterns are drafted higher and smaller than is comfortable on my body.

Well, I managed to look moderately cute in this shot, but you can probably see that the upper bodice is just unflatteringly loose.

Same here.  And the sleeves hit me at a very awkward place just below the bend of my elbow.

I feel like I want to take a couple inches out of the front center:

And it's no better from the back:

And yet, despite all that excess in my mid and upper back and at the waist, the shoulders and under arms are tight!  Remember, this is 2 sizes above how I measure on the chart.

If you look closely above, you can probably see how the neck band is flipping to the inside because that little contrast triangle is too heavy to lay flat.  So I had to smooth it down:

So, in spite of all my hard work, this dress is a no go for me.  It's a little sad - I'd thought I could at least wear it around the house because this fabric is so soft and cuddly.  But when I had it on to take these pictures, I couldn't wait to get it off again.  The shoulders and armholes are just too constricting.

I could probably use all the information I gathered from this muslin to make the pattern work for me.  But you know:  I don't think I'll bother.  This is one of those cases where I was really fulfilling an old desire - I loved this style a couple of years ago, but I love it less now.  I'm finding myself wanting a sleeker, more classic look these days (probably for a reason which I'll post about on Wednesday).  I don't think this silhouette does me any favors - it makes me look bigger than I really am, and who wants that?

No regrets though:  I said I'd do it, and I did.  I learned some things.  And now I can move on :-)

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Navy & Kelly

This morning I made a Renfrew.  It's navy and kelly green, and really soft and comfy.  I wanted it for a long time, and I finally made it.

That is all.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Jamie Tidbits: Innards and Close-Ups

Told 'ya I'd get three posts out of this pair of jeans!

I know you guys like to see guts, so I took plenty of pictures for you, as well as some close-ups of construction.  I've got a bunch, and they're in no particular order, so I'll just caption each one.

back pockets

yoke and belt loop

front pocket, fly and belt loop

fly - not crazy about how my serging shows, but it's not visible when they're zipped

front - closed

shortened zipper and bar tacks from inside

full view to show shape - front

full view - back

pockets from inside

flowery pocket bags

front leg seaming

inside back

I had to take a chunk out of the waistband, so there's a seam under the belt loop at CB

waistband, belt loop and pocket

fly pinned closed to line up zipper for sewing

ready to sew zipper to inside of fly

topstitching marked on outside

I had to shorten a 7" zipper, so I had to fold it back while topstitching the fly

cake and coffee - an essential part of the jeans-sewing process

my first go at the fly was wonky, so I had to re-stitch

fly shield attached

double topstitched C-seam - wasn't as hard as I thought it would be!

So there you have it.  Next time I make these jeans, I doubt I'll have anything more to say except, "Hey, I made another pair of jeans!"

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Jamie Jeans: My Fitting Experience

I'd originally thought I wouldn't write up a post about fitting, only because fitting is such a personal experience.  That is to say, the fixes my body needs are likely not the ones other bodies need, since we're all shaped differently.  But two things changed my mind:  firstly, there were several comments asking for this post.  And secondly, when I was looking back at my Pants for Real People book after I'd finished, it seemed that there really aren't that many different adjustments one can do to pants, which I think is good news:  it's not as hard as we all think it is.

Another reason I'd thought not to write a fitting post is that my method was very unscientific.  For all my talk about taking flat pattern measurements and comparing to my RTW jeans and TNT Clover pattern (all of which I did), in the end, what really got me to a fit I was happy with was making up the pants and pin-fitting them to my body.  Same as when I made the Clovers two years ago.

So I think from here on out, my process will be as follows for pants or jeans:
1) choose the size that corresponds to my biggest measurement
2) make the pants
3) pin fit
4) adjust the pattern to match garment

So, it's not really difficult or arcane.  It just requires a willingness to take the time to do it.  After sewing up my jeans, I tried them on and adjusted the seams four times before I felt I was happy with them.  It took me 3 - 4 hours on a Saturday morning.  Not a huge investment of time really, considering I shouldn't have to do such an intense fitting again.

I should also mention that except for having Hubby take pictures of the front and back after each alteration, I did the fitting on my own.  So I don't think you really need an extra pair of hands to accomplish this.  In fact, I think fitting a pair of pants is probably easier to do by oneself than a bodice, because you can reach all the areas!

I'm going to share those pictures I had Hubby take.  I really hadn't planned on sharing them - it was just easier for me to see in a photo what was going on than in the mirror.  So the pictures are heavily cropped because I was only wearing a bra on top!  But I think you can get the idea of how the fit transformed.  At each step, the changes don't look very dramatic, but the difference between #1 and #4 is pretty significant.

Also:  I say I "pin fit" but really, the only thing I pinned was to close the fly.  At each stage, I pinched out some fabric and eyeballed how much needed to be taken out, then went back to the sewing machine and sewed a new seam by that amount.  After the body photos, I'll show the seams so you can see the changes I made.

It's probably helpful to know that I started out with a size 42 to accomodate my hips, my biggest part.  My waist falls into a size 38; however, these don't come all the way up to the waist.  In the end, I found it was easiest to start from my bigger size and take away in the places where I needed it.

Here is how they looked straight out of the box, with no alterations:

Not too bad really!  I knew I'd have to lower the C-curve and take a wedge out of the center back, so I did that:

Then I refined the angle of that wedge at the center back, so I didn't have a piece sticking out over my coccyx.

And finally, I took in a bit at each side seam, and also took in a bit at the top of the inseam, which helped a little with those C-level whiskers.  They show up better here than in yesterday's photos, but adding the waistband and a belt helps lift everything up so that it's not as dramatic in the finished jeans as it is here.

Now, here is how the C-seam looked after all those refinements:

The stitching closest to the edge is the original (pattern) seam line.  You can see that the changes here were incremental.  In contrast, the amount I took out at the center back was significant:

Once I had the fit the way I wanted it, I did two things:  first, I used my marking pencil to draw in my new seam lines on the fabric.  It ended up being to my advantage that I forgot to baste my pants together with the seam allowances on the outside:  I think I got a better idea of the fit, and I was able to draw the new seam lines on the wrong side where I needed them to be.  Then, I placed my pattern tissue over the jeans and drew in where the new seam lines were.

I should back up a little here.  I sewed the jeans together at the inner leg seam and finished that seam.  Almost all the fitting changes happened at the center back, C-seam and side seams.  So those seams were basted with contrasting thread so that I could see and remove them easily.

So when I transferred my changes to the tissue, I transferred the side seams first.

back yoke
back side seam

upper front side seam - lower front was unaltered

Then I opened up the side seams so I could lay the leg pieces flat, and transferred the center back and C-curve changes to the tissue.

center back of yoke

center back and  C-curve

back C-curve and a bit removed from top inseam

front C-curve and a bit removed from top inseam

Here's a picture of my penciled-in new seam lines.  I didn't trim away the extra until after I'd sewn the C-seam and tried the jeans on one more time.

I did make a couple of changes to the leg before even starting, and didn't adjust them at all during this fitting process.  From the get-go, I took 2" off the bottom of the leg.  I did it that way rather than shorten it mid-leg because the place where the knee hit was about right for me.  Because the jeans continue to taper a bit below the knee, cutting off the bottom meant that I already had a bit of extra width at the ankle.  Having received advice that the calves are snug on this pattern, I gave myself the extra room I mentioned yesterday by adding another 1/2" at the hem line before taking off the 2" on the bottom, and connecting that to the notch at the knee.  I did this at both side seams on the front and the back.

As I said, I spent 3 - 4 hours on Saturday doing all the fitting.  And then I put the project aside until the next day.  On Sunday, I spent about an hour unpicking all the basted seams, marking the seam lines and transferring them to my pattern.  Then I was ready to sew them together for real and continue on with the finishing.

So the whole process really wasn't so terrible.  And I found that I already had a lot of clues about what needed to be done from the way my RTW pants fit:  I always find myself wishing I could take a big wedge out of the center back, and a bit out of the sides.

After I made my first coat last spring, I felt a big boost in sewing confidence.  And after I made my third coat this fall, I started to feel like I can sew whatever I want.  Things like coats and jeans used to seam like far-distant goals to me.  But lately I've had the attitude that with RTW, somebody has to make those things.  And if they can do it, so can I. 

And if I can do it, so can you!  So if you are one of the people who think that sewing your own pants is beyond you, I encourage you to think again.  Pants aren't hard to sew.  If you can put a zipper into a skirt, you can put a zipper into pants.  If you can follow instructions to sew a dress, you can follow instructions to make pants.  Just give yourself time:  don't expect to get a good fit right from the beginning, and be willing to make as many adjustments as necessary.

And be willing to fail (although you likely won't).  Be willing to mess up a length of fabric in the name of experimentation.  If it doesn't work out, you can always cut the fabric up to make bags or other small projects!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Jamie: My New Jeans

Hey, I finished my jeans yesterday!  They're not 100% perfect, but I'm very happy with them.  They certainly fit me better than my best-fitting RTW jeans, so I'm on the right track.

I took gazillions of pictures of my fitting changes, in-progress sewing shots, and finished inside and outside shots of the jeans.  But I know you guys - I know that what you really want to see is how they look on a body (mine).  So for once, I won't tease you, and will show you the good stuff first.

Get ready for LOTS of pictures - I wore two outfits, and tried to show the jeans from as many angles as possible.  I will say that I used very dark denim, so some of the details aren't easy to see, but I think these will give you a good idea of the fit.  I'll address my fitting changes in a separate post, but the basic info is that I used a size 42 pattern to fit my low hip/high thigh, and refined from there.  My fabric is a 10.5 oz. "heavyweight" denim of 98% cotton and 2% lycra.

Here I'm trying to replicate an inspiration outfit I re-pinned from Ami.  Sadly, I can't get to the original pin.  But it's slim jeans, lace top, red pointy flats and leopard clutch - mine is a Stitch Parade Original :-)

Now on to fit:  here we are from the front:

From the side:

From the other side:

And from the back:

Those wrinkles on the back of the leg seem normal to me.  Should I worry about them and try to get rid of them?  They don't actually bother me - all my other jeans do the same.  Nor do the remaining tiny whiskers at C-level (which I'm exaggerating here):

I tried them rolled up too.  I'm not sure I love that look though, because of the seam in the center of the leg.

That top was pretty long, so I switched it out for my new Continental - a length of top I'm likely to wear more often with these jeans.  One of the things I really like about the Jamies is that they are "low rise" but not super low.  I was worried they'd be much lower, but they hit in a spot I really like - not too high up toward the waist, nor too low on the hip.

Also, I'm wearing the new shoes I bought myself for my birthday :-)  And please to excuse the hair - I'm getting it cut THIS AFTERNOON!

I can easily bend over to unroll my pant legs:

And when I stand back up, I don't have to yank up my pants, which is a very welcome change.

I haven't worn these yet except for these pictures, since today is a housework (and haircut) day, but so far they seem to be very comfortable.  The feeling of having a seam down the front of the leg takes a bit of getting used to, but it's not bothersome.  I'll be interested to see how these loosen up with wear.  Also, I'm not sure you can tell, but I didn't make the lower part of the leg super skinny.  I'd added on width per a couple of comments and reviews saying the calf was snug, with the thought I would skinny it down during fitting.  But I really liked the look of the less skinny calf on me - I think it helps balance out my leg, since my thighs are so much bigger than my calves.  I look a little less like a clothes pin, and more like a curvy lady :-)

I'm definitely going to be making more of these, however, I'm going to follow the suggestion of a couple other bloggers and wear them around for a while before deciding if I need any further fit fixes.

So that's two out of my three February goals done.  Next up:  the Lola dress!