Wednesday, April 30, 2014

My Robson

I was very diligent last week, and worked on my Robson coat for a couple of hours every day.   On Friday I managed to finish it up.  It ended up being a lot more work than I'd expected, but I'm really happy with the end result, so it was worth it!  And really, none of the tasks were especially difficult.  It's just a lot of length and weight to shift around toward the end.  I really felt like I'd gotten a workout on Friday after I finished up!

I started my Robson journey with a tissue-fitting of the pattern:

Based on that tissue-fitting, I made the following adjustments to a size 6, which is where I fall in Sewaholic Patterns:

1.  Removed 1/2" from the length of the sleeves at the bottom.
2.  Removed 2" from the coat length at the bottom, as the belt loops and waist fell in the right place for me. (I am 5'4", and neither long- nor short-waisted.)
3.  Did a 1/2" sway back adjustment to the back piece.

It's interesting to note that I didn't have to do broad back or forward shoulder adjustments as I often do.

To make this coat I used this lovely organic cotton twill.  I wouldn't hesitate to use this fabric again.  After the pre-wash, it almost didn't need ironing!  It comes in so many beautiful colors and is quite economical.  I bought 5 yards but only used 4 yards for my coat, so I have enough left over for a skirt!

I toyed with the idea of making my own bias tape, but fell in love with an orange tape I saw at JoAnn's.  I really love orange and blue together - they're so complementary!  Marrie also made a Robson (out of this same fabric!) recently, and she very kindly posted a tutorial on how to line the sleeves.   It sounded like a good idea, so I picked up some bright orange lining to match my tape and did the same:

I hadn't been able to find buttons I liked before I left for Toronto, so I bought some there, with Andrea's help.  I really love these buttons!

For my coat, I used 7/8" buttons for the back flap and front, but 3/4" buttons on the epaulettes and sleeve tabs.  I think it looks a little more in scale with the tabs.

I made keyhole buttonholes throughout.  I thought about not cutting open the holes on the epaulettes and sleeve tabs, but then decided to go ahead and do it, since it will be much easier to iron the coat in the future if they can be opened.  I stabilized all the buttonholes with Fray Check before cutting them open with my chisel.

Not sure why this photo is so washed out!

These colors are true!

Here's the whole thing, front and back.

I think it's interesting that on the hanger, it looks like the back is much shorter than the front (well, it actually is!) but on my body, my sway back takes care of that and the hem line is even!

Believe it or not, I didn't try this on after finishing until yesterday!  I had ironed it so nicely that I didn't want to mess it up until I'd taken these photos.  The coat is quite heavy and not the easiest thing in the world to iron!  And I ended up being under the weather all weekend with sinus/allergy stuff - again.  And I still was when I took these pictures yesterday, so you just get a quick selfie in the mirror, with my sinus-headache face.  But I'm smiling because my coat is awesome and fits well!

Like everybody says, the pocket openings are quite small.  I have a hard time getting my large hands in there.

I'm hoping to get some better pics of this coat in action in NYC next weekend, along with my sew-along partner Shar!  I hope we don't get too caught up in gabbing away and forget to take pictures of our coats!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

I've been remiss . . .

I've been spending time yesterday and today finalizing plans for some blogger meet-ups next week while I'm in NYC - and I haven't even finished posting about my trip to Toronto!  So I wanted to get a few more pix up before the memory completely fades.  Just kidding - I had such a great time with these ladies, I won't be forgetting it!

I had the good fortune to meet up with SIX bloggers from Toronto.  I'm listing them here so that in case you don't know any of them, you can meet them too via their blogs!

My lovely hostess, Andrea, of Stitch Parade.
Sara, one-half (with her sister) of Hamilton Chicklets.
Kristin, of K-Line.
Gillian, of Crafting a Rainbow.
Katja of Gjeometry.
And Tasha of Little Things.

Some of these ladies I knew from their blogs, and some from Instagram, which I've come to view as micro-blogging.  Every single one of them is just lovely, as you'd expect!  And I felt so honored that Gillian, Katja and Tasha came from quite a distance outside the city to meet me.  Thank you so much ladies!

So here are some of the fun things we did. 

On my second evening in Toronto, Andrea, Kristin, Sara and I went out for Leopard Cocktails.  What's that?  Well, the same as normal cocktails, but you wear your leopard-print clothing and/or accessories!

I mentioned before that a lot of our time was spent just knitting and hanging out, and visiting the fabric shops in the garment district.  I'm an idiot and didn't bring my camera so I don't have any pictures of that!

Saturday was a big day.  The first thing we did was to hit a currency exchange so I could get some Canadian money.  I LOVE the Canadian money - it's so beautiful, and it's made of plastic!  And holograms!

We met up with Sara at the exchange, and then she, Andrea and I went to the Distillery and walked around a bit, then stopped for a beer.  It was darn cold, so we all wore our hand-knit hats:

We had a date with the whole group for dinner, and had planned on going home first to gussy ourselves up.  But we ended up playing around in the Distillery too long, so we just had to go as we were.  No worries though - we had a fantastic time anyway!  Here's all of us except Andrea (who took the picture) at dinner:

We ended up getting kicked out of that restaurant after about an hour (! - apparently this is a thing that happens in Toronto?  We were a little outraged.)  A few of our group had to head home early anyway, but the remainder decided to find a coffee shop so we could keep talking.  And we did find a nice coffee shop nearby - which also served cocktails!  So we drank those instead.  It was super dark in there and we had a lot of fun trying to get a decent picture.   Believe it or not, this one is the best, despite our glowing eyes!

So that's it!  I have very few pictures from this trip, and the ones I do have I had to scrounge off my friends!  I'll try to do better in New York, but it's so easy to get absorbed in the moment and forget to document!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Bias Binding Foot

Although you've not seen any photographic evidence of it (unless you follow me on Instagram), I've been slowly working on a Robson coat for the last month.  A while back I posted a picture of the bias binding foot I was using for finishing the edges, and it got quite a bit of interest.  So yesterday as I was using it I took some video to show you guys how it works.

First off, here are some pictures of what the foot looks like.  There are a couple of different styles, and this one was included in the set of hemming feet my mom gave me for my birthday this year - just like the ones I oohhed and ahhed over at her house this fall!  My foot already has the binding threaded through it so you can see how that goes.

Before I read the instructions for this foot, I thought all those openings on the side were just for decoration, or to make the foot lighter in weight.  But they serve a purpose!  You thread your binding through the one closest in size.  Here I'm using 1/2" single-fold binding, and it goes into the biggest slot.  So I'm not sure this foot is super versatile; I don't see myself ever using any binding narrower than 1/2". 

Still, it made applying the binding so much quicker.  It took some practice to figure out the right configuration for my task, but not nearly as much as the narrow rolled hem foot (which I still haven't mastered).  I was able to use this for all but the bulkiest and most curved of my edges, so probably 75% of my edges on this coat will have been bound this way by the time I'm done.

What I found to be the most important thing while using this foot is to keep both the fabric and the binding lifted upwards as they feed in, and to keep the fabric edge right up against the inside of the foot, like this:

(Note that in the above photo, I'm pulling both the fabric and the binding down so you can see the foot.)

Once you've gotten used to holding them that way, it's pretty easy actually!  I just made sure to sew slowly, constantly checking to see that everything was in line.

Here are two little videos showing the foot in action, shown from slightly different angles.

Do any of you have this foot?  Have you used it?  Are you tempted to get one?  I've really been having fun playing with mine!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

I got a present!!

I got a surprise present!  Yay!

A few weeks ago, Ginger sent me a note asking if I'd like the leftover fabric from her recent two-piece cocktail dress.  Of course I would - it's gorgeous!  So generous of her to offer it to me - but then, that's Ginger:  one of the most generous gals in the sewing community!

Well, imagine my surprise a week or two later when I received a largish box from her.  When I opened it up, I found not one, but THREE pieces of amazing fabric!!  And they're all PINK!

First up, a very large piece of the fabric Ginger used for her dress.  Would it be terrible of me to make something similar?  With the understanding, of course, that my midriff remain completely covered at all times ;-)

Then, almost two yards of cotton Swiss dot in bright pink.  This replaces the poly blend Swiss dot I used for a shirt last year and ended up putting in the donation pile after wearing it for two hours, because it made me so sweaty.  Maybe it's time for a redo with my beloved Archer pattern?

Finally - and most mind-blowing of all:  a yard of honest-to-goodness Vlisco in ochre, cream, black and hot pink -- with BIRDS!  Gah!!!

You can see that the Swiss dot and Vlisco go together perfectly, so I'm having lots of fun daydreaming about what they will become.  Two separate pieces, or one garment? Only time will tell!

Thanks again, Ginger, for such an amazing gift!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014


This past weekend, Hubby and I headed to Michigan for a get-together with my Dad's side of the family.  I decided I wanted to wear something new and spring-like, but I was afraid to wear my new Roxanne:  too many kids and too much food and wine around! 

So I made myself a new Archer, but with a twist this time:  this one is pop-over style.  I've been wanting to try this out for a while, as I love the look of a pop-over shirt.  I started out being a really good blogger, taking pictures as I went so I could show you all how I did it.

I narrowed the sleeve by 3/4" each side, and then made a 15" long tower placket.

Then I started to sew that placket on:

And then I realized that the next bit - the trickiest bit - would never show up in this crazy fabric!  So, tutorial abandonned!  But I will be doing this again in a chambray, so I will take lots of detailed pictures of that one.  I have seen some comments that people fear the tower placket, but it's really not that hard to do.

Anyhoo . . .   My good blogging intentions were further abandonned over the weekend.  We left home at 6:15 Saturday morning, so I promised myself to have someone take my picture once we were at my aunt's house.  Of course, I spent the whole day yacking with my relatives, eating and drinking, and totally forgot to get a picture of the entire outfit!  The closest I got was this picture:

This is a picture my brother took of my niece and me.  I trimmed her out because I don't think it's cool to post pictures of other people's kids on the interwebs.  Better safe than sorry :-)

So, what you guys get is a picture of my rumpled shirt.  It kept me comfortable and stylish all day long. 

I thought it was interesting that I got comments from a lot of non-sewing people about my "excellent pattern matching on the front."  They were impressed that I centered that butterfly (or as I like to call it, booberfly, due to its position).   I should have just said, "Yeah, I'm that good."  But instead I found myself explaining how the front is cut on the fold so no matching is required.

The reason I narrowed the sleeve is that I left off the cuff so I could do this:

But it turns out that narrowing it by 3/4" each side was too much for me, so I'll add some back in next time.

I was a little disappointed that the front placket kind of gets lost in the print, but I feel the overall shirt is a success.

Of course, this is more of the Anna Maria Horner Field Study voile, Sinister Swarm in Vivacious.

Here's the collar, also getting lost:

This shirt actually ended up taking less time than it takes me to make a "normal" Archer, despite the placket.  I left off the pockets and cuffs, and I only had to make 5 buttonholes on the placket and one each on the button tabs for the sleeves.  I left off the buttonhole on the collar stand because it will never get buttoned.

I LOVE making shirts, and it was really fun to do this one with a few changes to the style.  I can't wait to do it again, but I think I will have to as I've got more travel in my near future, and I really need to finish that Robson trench I've been working on for I don't know how long!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Failure and Victory

I can not believe it's been two weeks since I hopped a plane and headed to Toronto!  Never enough time in the day, eh?  (see?  I speak Canadian now!)  I had such a fantastic time there that taking so long to write about it is just a big, fat FAIL! 

Pure laziness, I assure you, and nothing to do with the trip itself.  Like Gillian (who I met - yay!!), I'm having a bit of low blogging mojo.  I'm finding that I either have time, energy and motivation to make stuff, or write about making stuff - not both.  So I'm choosing to make stuff!

Anyway, back to the trip - or actually just a part of it in this post.

Andrea is a fabulous hostess; not only did she make me feel right at home and like one of the family rather than a guest, she also organized several events for me with other bloggers.  A good portion of our time was spent hanging out on the couch, drinking coffee (or wine, depending on the hour), talking away and knitting.  Like this:

Just lovely!  Something I don't get to do often in "real" life.

The first of the outings that Andrea organized was a visit to Kristiann of Victory Patterns.  I was so excited about this - I've been a big fan of Kristiann's work from the beginning, even if my own lack of fitting knowledge has kept me from being 100% successful with the patterns.  I own ALL the patterns except for the Ava dress (which I didn't buy because I already had the very similar Colette Macaron pattern); I purchased them all immediately upon release and am slowly working my way through them.

Andrea already knew Kristiann, having taken some classes from her.  I got to meet Sara on my first evening in Toronto, after having corresponded with her for several months, and she joined us for the visit to the Victory Patterns studio. 

I really expected nothing more than to have a quick meeting and say, "I'm a big fan!"  But Kristiann was so generous with her time - I think the four of us spent a good three hours together!  Kristiann is just a lovely person - so friendly and enthusiastic.  She took us on a tour of the building where she has her studio; many other artists also rent space there, including some clothing designers and production seamstresses.  It was so interesting to talk to her about her process in designing and releasing a pattern.  I especially loved seeing the original version of the Nicola dress - the gorgeous border-print one from the pattern envelope!

I made my Nicola expressly for this meeting, and Andrea decided to whip up a Roxanne blouse to wear.  Here we are, all four of us, in a cute little coffee shop in Kensington Market:

L - R:  Sara, Andrea, Kristiann & me;  photo courtesy of Andrea

Kristiann is wearing the Madeleine skirt!  And Sara is wearing her gorgeous Kara cardigan.

One of the things Andrea and I tend to do when we're together is try on each other's makes.  We have similar taste in patterns and we're about the same size, so it's great to be able to try on a pattern you're thinking about making!  I've been wanting to make the Roxanne blouse since just about forever, and when Andrea visited me in December, I found a beautiful piece of silk on the sale rack at my local fabric shop that I  knew would be just perfect.  It was on my list for spring, but after trying on Andrea's beautiful blue silk Roxanne, I had to bump it up in the queue.

So last week I traced the pattern and did a tissue fitting, then got going.  Because my fabric is very busy, I made the tie-neck version, but I'll definitely be making another one with that amazing folded collar.

This version is so quick to make.  I realized on Friday that I didn't have any silk thread in the right color, so on Saturday morning I headed over to JoAnn's to pick some up.  I didn't start sewing until after lunch, and I was done by 4:00!



pleat detail

tie detail

My big concern with this pattern was the back and sleeve fitting.  I had Andrea measure me, and my back fell into a size 12, while my bust puts me in a size 2!  I settled on a size 4.  When I did my tissue fitting, the back and armhole felt OK as drafted, so the only changes I made were to take a 3/8" forward shoulder adjustment and to remove 1" from the length at the lengthen/shorten line.

Once the top was finished though, I wished I'd done a broad back adjustment and scooped out the armhole a bit.  It's a teeny bit tight, but not so bad that I won't wear it.  For future versions, I'll make those adjustments.

Here's how it looks on, front and back:

One of the things I love about this design is how the back swishes out when you walk.  It's a blouse with a train!  I tried to get a pic of the swishiness in action, but wasn't too successful!

And I tried to get a good shot of the high/low hem, but once again I'm pressed for time.  So this silly one will have to do!

"Hmmm, what should I sew next?"

Friday, April 11, 2014

Thing One

I've been slowly working on a Robson coat, but yesterday I was seized by a desire to make up a pattern I've been wanting to make for the last 2.5 years:  the Burda Striped Top.

This pattern was in the September 2011 issue of Burda magazine, which I bought in Turkey (and thus, in Turkish) during Self-Stitched September of that year!  I've wanted to make this top and the maxi dress which uses this bodice ever since.

My fabric came from Morgan in my first Stash Diet Swap back in January.  I knew when I asked her for this fabric that I'd use it to make this top for spring.  I didn't get right to it because it didn't seem like spring would ever arrive.  But all of a sudden it's here, and it's time to get busy on all those spring sewing plans in my mind!

It took me almost exactly two hours yesterday to trace, cut and sew this top - pretty darn quick!  I traced a straight size 38, and effectively took 1" off the length of the sleeve by not adding a hem allowance, and 4" off the bottom.  The given length would have hit me mid-thigh!

This top is a slimmer fit than I was expecting, but that's not a bad thing - it makes it better for tucking into skirts, but it still looks good over pants.

I tried my best to match the stripes, and mostly succeeded.

But the way the top is drafted meant that I had to choose whether to match the stripes done the sleeve at the top or the bottom.  Of course I chose the top - so the underneath doesn't match up.  I'm OK with that.

I did my hems and around the neck with the coverstitch machine; everything else was done on the serger.  Here you can see the slightly denim-y quality of this French terry fabric.

I had a coffee date with Alicia this morning, and since it is lovely spring weather today, I wore this top with a floral skirt.  Believe it or not, I felt kind of hot!  Good thing I got this made up before it turns into summer!  (Skirt is old, from Anthropologie.)

So this is the first of the eight pieces I need to make to atone for all those fabric purchases I made.  Hehehe!