A new tee plus a lot of thoughts

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I made something! I actually had to force myself to do it; this sewing block/loss of mojo is intense. I did enjoy it, though, and I really like the top! It’s an October Burda pattern–101 from 2016, minus long sleeves because I didn’t have enough fabric. The fabric is a super light ITY that was not easy to deal with. Finishing is not perfect, particularly the neckline. I may redo it but it’s just invisible enough to not be noticeable.

It’s also the first sewn item toward my newly defined style goal of athleisure. I know that term bothers some, it used to bother me too but I’m used to it now, but it’s what’s happening.

I’ve been having some trouble dressing after starting my new job a little over a year ago, more than I expected. It didn’t seem that different, just a little chillier and more casual than my last office, but I that particular combination seems to have essentially eliminated a significant percentage of my clothes from my daily life. I think that’s why sewing has been a challenge too. My fabric and pattern stash, and more importantly, my dream to-sew list and even styles I favor, supports my former life, not my current reality, which, by the way, is amazing. On good-clothes days I feel so whole and cohesive, not just with clothes and style, but with my job, my location, everything.

I love clothes that can do anything I want to do. I can go hiking or to yoga after work with minimal outfit changes, weekend wear is the same as weekday wear, everyday pieces can be dressed up if needed but aren’t entirely different. My biggest source of inspiration has been Athleta. I had a meeting in the city and took the opportunity to try a few things on in person and look around, and it works. After realizing these types of clothes are what I’m missing, I did order a few pieces off Poshmark and am not disappointed.

There are boxes of envelope patterns to look at, but to start I went through all my burdas and took photos of promising designs, and I’m going through my closet, pulling items that aren’t working. It’s tough because I do like these pieces, they do fit well and are a match with my style, but they simply don’t work anymore. I need to do the same with my fabric stash. I don’t know if I’m going to donate immediately, may just store the clothes and fabric out of my sight so I can better focus on the here and now, and hopefully have some inspiration again.

So here are my current alterations lists and sewing/knitting guidelines.

  • Knits in natural fibers plus rayon/tencel are the focus, except for activewear fabric. We recently got a Class Pass package at work, and taking a yoga class in one of my beloved 100% organic cotton tees was awful! The only other class I’ve taken in recent months is in a drafty NPS building facing the ocean at work, and I totally forgot that you do sweat in the average studio!
  • Unless the fabric is really special, no purchasing of wovens for a while.
  • Whether purchased or sewn, clothes need to have more than one function (work, yoga, hike/run).
  • If an item is not warm enough to wear alone, it must be easily layered. No more long sleeved button downs, as much as I like them!
  • Sleeves on already made woven shirts are coming off. It’s almost never warm enough to go without a sweater and it’s often too warm and bunchy worn under a sweater (seriously, on the Bay Area coastline a difference of 5 degrees can take you from freezing to sweltering, I don’t know why).
  • Sundresses may become something else. I have a couple that I really like that I’ve worn maybe once in the last year. I think they’re destined to be chopped into separates or harvested for fabric.

We’ll see how this all plays out, but I have hope my inspiration drought might end…

Burda of the month… for February

Despite endless planning, this is the first Burda I’ve managed to make this year! I think I’ll get a top sewn for June, but who knows. I have just not been sewing at all, in fact, I even doubt I remember how to sew. I definitely felt that way before making this top (in April…) and then was surprised that I totally did.

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This is 2/2018 #120, a very pretty blouse. I think it looks better on me than on the dress form. I hope so, anyway! I feel elegant and put together in it, and the fabric is too comfortable to be polyester. I’m not sure what it is, but I suspect rayon. I had enough left to cut a bralette, waiting in the wings to be sewn.

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None of the bands are interfaced, and I did get some minor twisting. I think it’s okay given the softness of the blouse overall. I had some trouble deciphering the directions for the low v-neck in the back, but whether I got them right or not, the slit for the tie is tidy.

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So for June, I am thinking about this pleated shirt:

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I also think my husband could use a new shirt, and 6/2016 happens to have a mens shirt pattern that goes small enough for him. Considering we’re almost halfway through the year and I have one project down, two shirts is probably too ambitious, but we’ll see!

Flouncy Blouse

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I completed a May Burda project, and almost even finished within the correct month (even though it’s now July)! This May I chose a pattern from the 5/2017 issue–the petite raglan blouse with flounces and ties. It’s a little overtly feminine for my usual taste, but there’s something about this pattern that called to me every time I saw it in the issue!

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I used navy silk/cotton voile leftover from my button-down shirt, and had barely enough. The fabric is perfect for this top, but I’m a little disgusted at my finishing. You can see the wrinkling down the front seam… that’s because I’ve been too lazy to really figure out settings on my serger, and it does not do well with single layers of fine fabric. The wrinkling in real life isn’t that noticeable, but this project has made me vow to either learn the serger or use different finishing techniques on fine fabric. There’s no excuse!

Speaking of wrinkling, though, I cannot get the washing and storage wrinkles out of this fabric. It is pressed flat, but the wrinkles remain. Again, in real life it’s not so noticeable, but I don’t like it. Any suggestions?

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The flounces are cut on, leading to interesting construction. You finish the edges first, and then sew the lower part of the front seam right sides together, and the upper part wrong sides together. The flounces fall open so that the wrong side shows the most, and I actually switched right side for wrong as my hem looked better on the original right side. It is not easy to get both sides of the hem and the point where the seams switch to look absolutely perfect. I felt a little bad about it, until I saw that Burda’s example doesn’t feature perfect stitching either! If I make this again, there will definitely be significant hand stitching!

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I said “if” I make it again, because it’s too big. Significantly so. What’s baffling, is that this top is the petite offering for the month! I’m 5’4″, the tallest height listed for Burda’s petite sizing, and have had to add a touch of length for previous petite tops. Here, though, the armholes gape so that my bra shows and the hem nearly reaches my fingertips. Was this really a tall pattern mislabeled as petite??

That said, I do like the finished top quite a bit, especially when the bow is tied up snugly. It looks great tucked into a skirt with a cardigan for work, and I’m not all that concerned with a black bra peeking out under the arm with my casual weekend lifestyle. Let’s just hope truly petite ladies notice that the pattern pieces look too big before proceeding!

Ogdens 2 and 3

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My dream camisole collection is growing! I did a small FBA on the True Bias Ogden and the fit is much better. I’m still seeing a little pulling in the upper chest, though it feels fine to wear. For the next one I may just try going up a size without the FBA.

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This top is made from remnants of another silk-cotton voile. I made a long sleeved top out of this fabric in October, but I messed up in construction and took an inch out of the bodice, making it unwearable. I really kicked myself. Burda patterns have fit me so consistently that I got complacent with using small seam allowances, and there was no room for adjustment. Luckily, the Ogden takes so little fabric, I was able to get a top out of the leftovers and salvaged sleeves! I love the fabric, and have worn this top almost weekly since finishing it a month ago.

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Next up is my first 100% silk camisole. I’ve dreamed of having a collection of silk camisoles form the base of my wardrobe for many years, and it’s finally happening! I feel so elegant and put together wearing it under cardigans and jackets, even when I know I don’t quite look it. It sounds so shallow, but feeling good or bad in clothes can really impact my mood. This is a step in the right direction!

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I intended for the matte side of this rosy charmeuse to be shown, but I couldn’t help it. The fabric has more of a luster than a shine, and it’s just so pretty. I pre-washed and dried the fabric in the machine, and serged every raw edge. The silk probably deserves more caring techniques, but this cami will be worn a ton and I want it to hold up, even when inevitably thrown into the dryer by accident. I did hand roll the hem, though, at least there’s that! I go back and forth about pressing the rolled hem flat. I left it for now. I kind of like the soft waviness in person, but it is bothering me in these photos!

I have a few more single yards of silk waiting. I can’t wait to make the next one!

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Ogden Cami

I love camisoles. I’m constantly on the hunt for the perfect thing, both in stores and with patterns. So far, I haven’t had much luck making camisoles, for various reasons. Usually there is something wrong with the neckline, or the finishing, or the shape. There was a camisole in a recent Burda issue that I meant to try, but then the Ogden Cami was released and everyone started making it and it looked great… I couldn’t resist.

I actually like it quite a bit! For this mock-up/test version, I used a loosely woven fabric that I think must be rayon. It was one of those online orders that doesn’t look very good in person, and I assumed this camisole would be pretty much unwearable. Turns out, it looks fine in the finished garment, maybe even a bit elegant! Since the fabric is a little sheer, I made a full lining rather than a facing. By the time I sewed the hems, though, I was running on autopilot and still didn’t believe this was a wearable garment, so I didn’t make any length adjustments. The lining peeks out a bit where the hems aren’t perfectly even, but I don’t really mind it when wearing.
I raised the neckline about an inch, based on photos of others’ projects. It’s the perfect depth now, and I absolutely love the soft v-neck shape. The rest of the camisole is rather swingy, which I like for the most part.
Excuse the rather lousy hemming job. I didn’t think the fabric would work out as well as it did! In a “real” version, I would hand roll the hems.
The project turned out well, however, if I’m being honest with myself I must do an FBA on the next one, as well as most other things I make. I don’t really understand what’s happened over the last couple years as my measurements haven’t really changed (slight bulking up from yoga pushed it over the edge? is that even a thing?), and I’m dismayed, but the truth is that my clothes don’t fit right anymore. I don’t really make resolutions, but a 2017 goal for sewing is to face facts and learn how to do an FBA.
Overall, this is by far the most successful camisole I’ve made, and I’m super excited to make a few in silk!

Linden and Coco, black ponte duo

Hi there! It’s been over two months! For some reason I’ve dropped off the internet for a while, both with posting my own makes and commenting on others. Part of me is bothered – I love reading and commenting on blogs! – but I’m also trying to accept it. I’m just not into the internet world right now. I’m sure it will pass.

I am amassing a backlog of projects, though, and I spent some time this morning taking and editing photos. Of course, lighting is bad in the morning and the fabric and fit of the clothes emphasize my dress form’s body irregularities. Oh well, this spring is just not a high point in the life of my blog.

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First up is the semi-fail of the post: the Coco dress from the Little Black Dress book. I actually loved this dress at first, it was fun and easy to put together, I love the pockets, and it looked great on, but it’s not long for this world. The super soft ponte started pilling before I was even finished with the dress, and to make matters worse cat hair sticks to it like crazy. Even my heavy-duty pet lint roller doesn’t do much. The death knoll, though, is that it shrunk a bit more in the second wash, so now the waist and hem are a little high and I feel like a kid in it. I think I’m going to turn it into a skirt.

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Next up is a huge win out of the same fabric, plus a remnant of my beloved blue print sweater knit from JoAnn. It’s still piling and I don’t even try to get rid of the cat hair, but it’s just a casual sweatshirt so it doesn’t much matter.

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The pattern is the Grainline Linden sweatshirt, and I just love it. It’s simple, casual, and a little shapeless, but I wear it every single weekend without fail. I see more of these for the upcoming chilly San Francisco summer. If I color block with this pattern again I’m going to raise the seam a little, the seam goes right over the bustline and doesn’t lie perfectly flat, but I don’t even care with this one!

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Finally, I leave you with a douglas iris that has somehow survived in this sea of ice plant. I love most plants and flowers, but the awful, invasive ice plant is not one of them…

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Flowery vogue top

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I’m just going to go ahead and start by talking about the fabric. Fabric Mart had a bunch of this large scale floral chiffon by J Crew for $2-4 per yard a while back, and despite the fact that no one needs that much poly chiffon I got it all. As in four yards of each of the four fabrics (two different prints, two colorways each). This fabric is the stuff of my dreams. Despite my shy nature I love large scale florals, especially when they are broken up by pleats and seaming, and the colors are fantastic. This colorway may be my very favorite – gray background with peach roses, dark purple irises, olive leaves, and flashes of yellow in the irises.

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The design is pretty good too. This is Vogue 1247, the Rachel Comey pattern with that great skirt that everyone has made. I bought the pattern for the skirt, and actually planned on making both pieces at the same time. That would have worked except apparently I forgot how to sew by the time I got to the skirt. Despite having just made a fiddly chiffon top the cotton skirt bested me. Of course it’s totally fixable but I threw it in my scrap/UFO bin last weekend and figured I’d better just get the top up by itself. It could be a while before that skirt gets finished…

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My favorite feature of this design is the way the pleats form a bit of a sleeve cap in an otherwise boxy style. I tend to live on the edge and not look at Pattern Review before diving into a project, so that was a happy surprise. Otherwise the top went together as expected. I used quite a bit of hand stitching on this garment – the pleats and the neckline are secured by a running stitch and the hem is hand rolled. It may an Alabama Chanin influence, but I’m finding myself using hand stitching in visible, intentional ways lately. I’ve never had a problem with stitches showing, it’s sewing after all, and in this case it would have been hard to make machine stitching look good. Maybe I should strive for perfection on the machine, but eh, I don’t really care.

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I didn’t even think about pattern matching or not matching, but I should have because, ugh, that back. It’s not even the same flower, but it’s too close. Oh well, what’s done is done. The back view isn’t terribly flattering, especially on my stationary dress form, but the chiffon is sheer enough to show there is a shape underneath. I’ll probably wear this with a tan or gray camisole.

All in all I’m very happy with this top. Lightweight and loose floral tops are part of my work uniform, and this one is a favorite already!

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This was the first rainless January in San Francisco in recorded history. Dandelion has been enjoying the sunshine, but we’re all a little worried…