Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Sewing: Vogue V8574

Summer is over but I think I can still get some wear out of this dress because there are always warm days in October here in the SF bay area. This is Vogue V8574. I used a medium weight printed twill-like cotton that has a bit of stretch. I really like the print that is sort of tropical with the palm trees, but not too tropical in the color.

I love the fit of this dress, but adjusting the fit was a bit more work than usual. With many patterns, I can sew it up and adjust some side seams or princess seams or some darts afterwards to get the perfect fit. With this pattern, the bodice has to be sewn together with the lining and attached to the neck band before it can be tried on, so I ended up having rip apart more of the underarm area to adjust the width. The skirt flares out so the fitting there isn't critical. What is critical is the opening of the in-cut "armhole". It has to fit without any unseemly gaping at the upper side bust area. I ended up adding a tiny slanted dart in front just above the side seam to get a close fit.

I cut away about 3/8" at the neckline so my neckband is narrower and the neck opening is wider. The skirt is not lined. For the bodice lining, I used some lightweight crinkled cotton gauze fabric. Crinkled gauze is slightly stretchy, as long as you don't iron out the crinkles before using it. It's also very lightweight and I love cotton linings.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Knited T-Shirt

It seems like it's been awhile since I posted about a finished knitting object. This one took a bit longer than I expected, probably because it's summer and I've been spending more time designing and doing in-person sales of my 3D printed jewelry at a few crafty events. (Tiny Right Brain Designs)

Anyhow, this sweater fits and wears like a t-shirt, which I really like, The pattern is based on the Marie Wallin Jumo design. It's on tbe cover of the Rowan Softyak Collection book, and I really liked the look of it. However, when I swatched the lace pattern, I found that it was just too busy a design for me. I decided to use a simple textured pattern based on the half-twisted ribbing in which I alternated the knit and purl positions every four rows. I used the same half-twisted ribbing for the bottom and trims.

Sizing wise, my version is much shorter than the pattern's length, which is almost a tunic. I did my own sizing for the width and added some waist shaping. I made my neckline wider since I don't like narrow crew necklines. I do love the little hole detail in the front.

My yarn is Knit One Crochet Too Batiste, which is a great merino/linen/silk blend. I bought several sweaters' worth in different colors when I found sale prices. I don't know if it's being discontinued or not. It's a bit warm to wear now, but it's a great yarn for spring.fall and milder winter days. I think I'll be wearing this sweater a lot once the weather gets cooler.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Summer Dress - McCall's M7381

I made this dress earlier in July and have worn it quite a few times during our hot weather days. It's really comfy and easy to wear. The pattern is McCall's M7381 and the fabric is a very lightweight cotton that I bought in the remnants section of Britex Fabrics in SF. The fabric pattern comes in panels but that was fine since this dress has separate pieces for the bodice and skirt sections.

I sewed this pattern once before and I made the same mods as before plus some more sizing adjustments. I changed the front pieces to slant towards the sides to give it the overlapped look and I tacked the pieces together at the top to prevent wardrobe malfunctions. This pattern runs very wide and even with the smallest size, I narrowed it at the front sides and especially at the back sides. Otherwise, the armholes end up just way too big and open. I wanted to keep the bodice really light and airy so I didn't line it but just used bias tape to finish the front and armhole edges. Oddly enough, the pattern did not call for a skirt lining and that's the part that needs it because the fabric is thin. I lined it with very lightweight cotton up to just above the knees. I used french seams in most places and the skirt lining folds over the waist seam. I made this version a mid-calf length, and I have since shortened the earlier one to the same length. I like the look of maxi-dresses, but I find them just too warm to wear in hot weather and the long length can be annoying in everyday life.

Friday, June 23, 2017

New Look 6209 -- Sheath Dress

One can never go wrong with an animal print, that's what I say. Well, sometimes things can go wrong, but in this case, I'm happy with the outcome. This is a sheath dress from New Look 6209. My fabric is a stretchy woven cotton blend. The print is reversible -- one side is black with tan "spots" and the other side is tan with black spots. I decided to do a vague sort of color blocking by using the black background for the top yoke and the side sections. The color transition isn't that obvious, which surprised me.

The stretchy fabric is nice because it allows for a closer fit and I even got away with omitting the back zipper. I cut the pattern a little bit larger to start, especially around the waist area, and I ended up doing a lot of trimming to size it just right. I adjusted each of the seams bit by bit until I got the fit I wanted. This pattern is really good for doing that. The center front panel also has two small horizontal bust darts which I've never seen before. Those two little create a really good fit at the bust line. I think it's a great basic sheath pattern. It doesn't call for a lining, but I didn't need it with this medium weight fabric.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Vacay Photos from Miami, Miami Beach and the Florida Keys

I thought I'd share a few photos from my recent vacation to Miami, Miami Beach, and the Florida Keys. Miami and Miami Beach is a large metropolitan area that's difficult to drive in even with a GPS, but it has a certain edgy, artsy, worldly vibe. The Florida Keys, and especially Key West, definitely have their own form of laid back charm.

This first photo shows the front of the Wolfsonian Museum in Miami Beach, which is a design museum. The murals are left over from an exhibit of Dutch design.

Here's a classic scene of the beach in South Beach, Miami Beach.

One of my favorite neighborhoods in Miami is Little Havana. It's a thriving area with great art galleries and colorful chicken sculptures everywhere.

Back at Miami Beach, we checked out the very impressive Holocaust Memorial.

The next five photos are scenes from the Everglades National Park, including my arm with some sort of giant colorful cricket.

We had lunch at the lovely Morada Bay Beach Cafe in the heart of Islamorada Keys.

This photo is of a funky shop with arts and crafts on Islamorada Keys.

This is a view of the harbor from our hotel room at the Margaritaville Resort and Marina on Key West.

The Hemingway House on Key West has tons of six-toed cats. The cats have their own staff.

There are also wild chickens everywhere on Key West.

Here's a cruise ship coming in for a landing. The view is from Fort Zachary Taylor State Park beach.

A colorful shop building in Key West.

We stayed one night on Key Largo. This is the sunset from our hotel beach.

Back in Miami, we checked out the arts district with its galleries and this great outdoor public art.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Sewing: V1530 - Dress for Spring and Summer

This is Vogue Patterns V1530. I love this dress with all its subtle detalils, although it took a bit of fussing to get the fit right. First off, I love the fabric, which are two different colors of this stretch cotton/linen chambray that I got from denverfabrics.com This is the yellow/pink color and this is the olive/black color. I'd buy more of this stuff if they had other colors available. I bought them on a whim because I'm always on the lookout for a good cotton/linen blend. They turned out to be great fabrics with a soft hand, great texture and weight, with the perfect amount of stretch for a woven. Also, the two colors looked great together. Winning!

I made quite a bit of small adjustments for the fit. I'm not including the photo here, but I did make the blouse version version to get an idea of the fit. The pattern says it is loose-fitting, which was fine for the blouse, but too loose for a stretch woven dress. I added these slanted front darts, some back darts, and took in the back seam a bit. I knew the slanted side seams would be difficult to adjust when completed with the trim so I sewed them with a basting stitch and tried on just the dress body without the yoke to check the fit and then re-sewed with the trim. It turns out I didn't need to adjust those seams because the darts were good enough.I trimmed away about 3/4" from the capped sleeves because they covered too much of my upper arms and seemed too large.

The details that I love most are the front hole, the slanted side seams, and the cross-over back yoke pieces. The upper yoke back required more adjustment that I thought it would. Having two back yoke pieces made it easier to fit after I narrowed the back seam a bit, but I still couldn't get as perfect and smooth a fit as I would have liked.

Here's a photo of the inside of the top front section. The pattern instruction for making the hole was far to complicated for me. What I did was wait until the yoke was complete and then sewed the hole with a piece of facing on the outside front. I then cut the hole and turned the facing to the inside. I machine edge-stitched the hole instead of the hand stitching method in the pattern. Also, you can see that I used a wide facing piece for the top of the dress body instead of a half-lining. My fabric is thick enough not to require lining, and it's hard to find a suitable stretchy lining. A lot of folks use tricot lining but I've never liked it's slimy texture and it never feels good against the skin in hot weather. And one final note -- I just sewed my side seam bands in place and did not use any of the fusing techniques in the pattern.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Kakasu Shawl

This is the Kakasu Shawl pattern. I'm not a big fan of shawl knitting, since I don't really like to wear them. However, this one is more of a capelet style which I think I can deal with. Also, I bought some Rowan kidsilk haze yarn on sale at 50% off and I've always wanted to knit some kind of project using kidsilk haze. It's a pain to knit with, but I sort of got used to it. I tried about 4 different types of needles before finding a circular one that I liked with just the right amount of smoothness in the wood along with a smooth join to the cord. It still took longer to knit than other garments with the same amount of yarn.

My version has a different look and feel from the pattern's version. My yarn gives it a much more ethereal look and I don't have stripes to show off the wedges. Since I don't have stripes, I added some eyelets at the last row of each wedge to show off the shape. At the bottom edge, I slipped the first stitch on every row to give it a smoother finish. At the neckline, I added a neckband in garter stitch that is folded over to the inside for a double thickness. You can't see them in the photos, but I also added a few beads to the neckband. Finally, I added 8 rows of garter stitch at the start and finish to form borders for the front edges.

Here's a photo of the shawl laying flat. It's not a full circle, but it's close.

I'm quite happy with the finished product. It's remarkably warm and I think I can wear this as a cover-up with dressier clothing.