Monday, September 29, 2014

Dance With Me Tunic

Oh my goodness.  I have to look away, it's almost too much.  The cuteness.  My baby is not a baby anymore.  She really looks like a little girl in these photos.  I can't believe it.

I won a giveaway for both of Lisa Lam's new children's patterns over at Scruffy Badger Time recently.  I know you probably saw the blog hop going around.  I entered a couple of different giveaways hoping to win as both patterns are incredibly cute.  So I was super excited when Winnie emailed me.  I planned on making up the Happiness Halter Playsuit first, but when both patterns arrived I noticed that the Dance With Me pattern included a pattern for a matching purse.  Yes, that's right.  A matching purse.

The way the patterns are packaged may be the most awesome I've seen.  The whole booklet is a pocket folder.  There are full color pictorial instructions first and then the pattern tissue is tucked neatly inside a pocket at the back.  The whole thing lays flat and is easy to use and refer to while sewing.  It is some seriously fantastic packaging, which I am a total sucker for.   It makes me want to somehow put all of my patterns in to pocket folders for storage.  I might have to look in to that.  I am lost in a sea of pdf pattern pieces at the moment.

Anyway,  I opted to make the tunic in a linen/cotton blend.  I made up a size 2 without any changes except for lining the bodice instead of using the facing pieces.  There is plenty of room for Jane to grow.   She is almost 18 months now, by the way.   I really love the pattern design but I have some major criticism about the pattern instructions.  They are craaaazy all over place.  The order of construction is super wacky.  I didn't follow it because it skipped around so much.  Instead, I constructed the tunic in the order that made the most sense.  You know, front placket, bodice, skirt, sleeves, hem.  I think the pattern instructions have you start by gathering the sleeve heads and hem (since there is a cuff) but then you just set them aside until later on.  It was really confusing.  In fact, I noticed in the illustrated photos that the example wasn't sewn up in the order that the instructions called for.  I'm being nit picky, I know.   But the instructions could really be simplified.  They are incredibly wordy, too.  That may just be my personal preference.  I like simple and concise.  There is a so, so, so much information included.  I think for a total beginner, it's too much information.  It's a little overwhelming.  

I also found the pattern to be pretty challenging.  The continuous placket, tiny sleeve cuffs and curved front placket.  I had to stretch my precision sewing muscle a little.  Which I am not very good at.  I followed the instructions for sewing gathering stitches to turn under the curved front placket.  And it came out sort of smooth.  I sewed it on the bodice anyway thinking it wouldn't be that noticeable.  But when the tunic was complete, the uneven placket stuck out like a sore thumb.  So my solution was to sew a close zig zag stitch over the lumpy edges.  It's a little rustic but a hell of a lot better looking than it was.  The continuous back placket was hard, too.

The purse is my favorite part.  Kitties!  Jane is obsessed.  That little grey stuffed kitty goes everywhere with her.  I think we may need to get another one on backup in case anything happens to this one.  Any guesses as to what her Halloween costume will be?  I was originally going to sew the tunic in the kitty fabric also, but decided it might be too much.  I did the purse lining in the linen.  She loves the purse.  She walks around with it and stuffs anything and everything in to it.  It's incredibly adorable.

All in all, I really liked sewing this tunic up and I especially love the end result.  I'm psyched to add both patterns to my library.  I know they will get used a bunch.  I am already working on a dress version of the Dance With Me pattern and you better believe I'm making some playsuits in the spring for Jane.

Now, I know this looks like the face of a sweet, little angel.  But let me set you straight.  Taking these photos?  Hoo boy.  To say it was a battle is an understatement.  While I definitely got some good ones, most of the photos looked like this:

That's her running away from me while yelling, "No!"  Her new favorite word.  She has also taken to slapping things out of my hand when she doesn't want them.  She likes to do that in public places when strangers are commenting on how sweet she is.  Ah, toddlerhood.  She's a little tyrant.

But a cute one, at that.  I am enjoying every minute!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Alder Angst

So, this is where you tell me I should have made a muslin.  I know.  And to make matters worse, I have have seen so many awesome, awesome versions out there in the interwebs.

Argh.  Look at this beauty.  I used a beautiful warm grey linen from my stash that I have been hoarding for ages.  And neon green buttons.  I love them.  This dress has all the makings of being something really fabulous.  And yet, it's not.  I finished this the other week and put it on.  And even J, who compliments everything I make no matter what, wrinkled his nose.  I'm not willing to put it on for blog photos.  Sorry.

Most of the problem is that it's way too big.   I think this is a combination of making a size too big and also the linen I used.  I should know my measurements, I know.  But they have changed so much in the past couple of years.  I erred on the side of too big and I got it.  The linen I used is a heavier 100% linen.  It's one of those linens that kind of has a life of it's own.  I spent a lot of time trying to tame it and make it do what it was supposed to do.   It was difficult to work with.  It's the kind of linen that will age nicely but is stiff and unforgiving at first.  And forget about gathering (don't look too close).  I had to zig zag over heavy thread and I still snapped the thread twice.  It took me several attempts to gather the skirt.  The armholes ended up too low, which only reinforces the fact that I need to size down.  I didn't make any other changes except for lengthening it two inches.  It could also be because I'm just not supposed to wear dresses without waist seams.  Didn't I learn my lesson last time?

However, for posterity, I did want to post about the experience.  Also because I refer to my own blog for info, too.  I'm not finished with the pattern yet.  I'd like to make it again and I will definitely size down.  I am proud of those pockets.  I used the side with the facing for a little more interest.  The instructions were great and everything fit together just as it should.  It was a fun sew, although more labor intensive than things I have been sewing lately.  I did have to brush up on some skills I haven't used for a while.  Precision sewing is not my strong suit.  That collar- I give myself a C-.  But I'll do better next time.  I am patiently waiting for Jen to talk about the v-neck shirt variation.  I can handle the no waist look in a tunic or shirt.  In the meantime, I've got to figure out if there is a way to save this one.  Do I want attempt to alter it?  I was thinking about taking out the armhole binding and then taking in the bodice above the gathered skirt.  That should give me a closer fit and make the armholes a little smaller.  I'll just put it in line behind my Nicola ;)

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

A Tipi, Two New Tops and a Baby

J is getting ready to set up his tipi for the fourth graders at my school.   He was getting everything out the other day.  So I decided it was a good time to venture down in to the backyard to snap a few photos of my latest make.  Hence the title.  Nothing like a change of scenery, right?  So excuse the messy hair and paintin' jeans.  But please enjoy the gratuitous cute baby :)

I know I mentioned that the black pom pom top in my last post was my favorite make ever.  But I think it's already been surpassed by this little black and white number.  I know.  More black and white.  I told you I went on a black and white fabric shopping spree.  It really has made getting dressed in the morning easy, but I need to add some color in soon.  

This top is a modified Jacqueline crop top, another pattern from Tina Givens.  I bought several of her patterns this summer during a sale.  I bought this particular pattern on a whim because the crop top reminded me of my favorite Free People blouse.

I made the spotty version first.  The fabric is a printed linen I found at Joann's.  The first version is made up exactly as drafted except I lengthened the back skirt by two inches and I only used two pieces to make the skirt.  I don't know if my linen was wider than what the pattern intended, but cutting three pieces the width of the fabric seemed overkill.  Isn't there some magic ratio where you can no longer gather fabric?  So I only cut two. Then I matched side seams when sewing the skirt and bodice together.  Just beware that if you do the third skirt piece, your ruffle with be very ruffly.  The crop top is intended to go over a longer slip.  I love the volume but I'm not sure how I feel about the volume and all the layering.  I may try the slip but I really just bought the pattern for the top.  I didn't take any photos of me wearing the printed linen version but I am really digging it.  The sleeves are great.  Three-quarter length, easy at the top and narrow at the wrist.   I made the front skirt the length the pattern specified (8 inches, I think).  And it really is cropped.  It looks good with a higher waist skirt but with pants it shows a little bit of belly.    So I need to figure out something to wear under it.  I'm thinking I may make a black linen camisole to go under.  Or maybe I should try the slip.  I'll work on it.  The photo below is to show the difference in length between the two tops.

I made the black and white version next.  This time I lengthened the front skirt three inches and the back six.  I wanted it to be a top I could wear with regular waistlines.  And I did a cut on cap sleeve (same way I did it here) instead of the long sleeve.  I love this top.  It is the perfect swingy top.  I know it looks like a big rectangle, but it isn't.  There is some subtle shaping which really makes the linen hang well.  Givens patterns are big and voluminous but I feel like they are done very smartly.  That is a really funny word- smartly.  Anyway, I feel like her patterns are drafted thoughtfully even though the instructions and technical drawings are sub par.  I've made a couple other things from her patterns which I've yet to photograph for le blog.  But I do have to modify a little bit.  I like the volume, but I also need a leetle bit more shaping if you know what I mean.

And of course, the baby.  Or should I say, the toddler.  Jane is almost seventeen months now and is absolutely hilarious.  She has the best sense of humor and makes us laugh out loud all the time.  And you should see the girl dance.  She is a trip!