Sunday, February 28, 2010

Kitty Mittens is Finally Done!

I was starting to think it might never happen, but Kitty Mittens is finally finished!
You may remember I used Vogue 8062 to make this.

I made View B, the dress, leaving off the sleeves at the Princess's request. You'll have to pardon the styling in the photos. We plan for her to wear it with white tights (which we need to get) and a white turtle neck underneath. Or at least a nicer t-shirt than this one (which is a ratty old Hannah Montana t-shirt which was all we could find this morning!)

This is a size 10, which is slightly large for the Princess, but I like for her to have room to grow. She wants to wear this dress for Easter. I don't know if I want to wait that long. I think it makes a cute little school dress.
Here you can see the piping at the neckline and the armhole:

Here is a shot of the back, which closes with an invisible zipper. It's a nice clean finish which I'll have to remember for other dresses. As much as I love buttons, they can be uncomfortable at the center back of a garment.

I pretty much ignored the Vogue pattern instructions on this. I underlined the dress with satin, which the Princess loves. I basted all the edges together and handled both fabrics as one. I used the neck/armhole facings- I attached the facing to the neckline by machine and then hand stitched the armholes down.
I decided to use a bias hem facing (an idea I got from watching Hot Patterns videos online!) I had the Princess try on the dress so I could mark the hem, then I stitched the bias band on (I cut the strip 2.25" wide, folded in half and attached the raw edges to the raw hem edge), turned it up and hemmed as usual. You can't see it from the outside, but I like knowing it's there, and if somehow that hem flips up, it will be a cute little flash of color.

The Princess is pleased and that's what it's all about. (And I'm happy that another 3.5 yards of fabric is out of the stash!)
I would love to make this dress again following the pattern. I'd also like to make View C, the ruffled top, maybe with a smocked insert. I think it would be a great garment to use with smocking for an older child.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Kitty Mittens Update

Here's a quick update on Kitty Mittens.
The reason this project is taking so long is that I haven't been very diligent about working on it. I've been working a slightly later shift than usual lately, and by the time I get home in the evenings there just isn't much time to sew. I also made those two knit tops, and that took time away from this as well. But this weekend I'm going to be back at it. The dress is almost finished, after all!

I've gotten quite a bit done since the last update. The invisible zipper is installed, and the shoulders and side seams are all sewn (they still need to be serged, however.) I had planned all along to line this dress so that the corduroy could be worn over tights or leggings, but I decided to underline it instead.

I was faced with an unusual dilema. This fine wale corduroy is very lightweight. If you've never sewn with it before, I'd say it has a weight and drape similar to a nice quilting cotton. It's not like the corduroy you would use to make say, pants or a jacket. Remember that I used fusible interfacing on my yoke- this was to give the fabric some extra body to support the smocked insert and to help keep the seam allowance of the yoke seam from showing too badly on the outside of the garment.

Well, when I sewed the skirt piece to the bottom of the insert, the seam allowance was quite bulky and it showed pretty badly on the outside. Hmmm. What to do? I didn't really want to interface the whole skirt, and I was afraid if I just interfaced a strip across the top of the skirt piece that it would show through to the outside and look bad. I decided to go ahead and underline.

I was using a nice piece of pale pink satin from stash for the lining. It's a little bit heavier than a regular "lining" fabric, but I thought I'd go ahead and give it a try. I cut out a skirt piece and sewed it in behind the corduroy skirt piece. The seam allowance is hidden much better now and the skirt hangs nicely. I still needed to line the bodice and hide the wrong side of the insert. So I cut another piece of satin that matched the yoke and insert together and sewed that to the bottom yoke seam as well. There's really no way to hide that seam, so I just serged it.

I basted the edges of the dress front and handled it as one piece from this point on. I also cut back pieces from the satin and basted those to the corduroy back pieces. I serged the center back edges and then applied the invisible zipper to them. Yes, the zipper is exposed on the inside and there is that serged seam in the front, but overall I think it worked out fine. I had the Princess try the dress on the other night and the first thing she said when she got it on was, "This feels so good inside!" So the satin lining is a hit.

I still need to cut and make piping for the neckline and armholes. Hopefully I'll have a finished dress to show sometime this weekend.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

New Look 6940 Take 2

I thought I'd go ahead and try the other view of NL 6940. This is basically View E, with the cap sleeves from View A:
The top turned out alright- in fact, better (technically) than the twist top from a couple of posts back. This time I used clear elastic to stabilize the neck edges and I got a nice clean finish. There's no neckline gaping at all. But... (there's always a big but) I just don't think this top does much for me. I'll probably wear it at home on weekends, but that's about it. I think the twist top is a much better choice for me.

I made a 16 again (the largest size), but this time I did an FBA. The stretch of the knit fabric I used was adequate, so I didn't need to add any width, but I did need substantial length added to make sure the underbust seam ended up under my bust.

I drew a horizontal line through the bust point, perpendicular to the center front line. I marked the actual bust point on the line, and then I slashed it all the way across from the center front to the side seam, leaving a hinge at the side. I spread the tissue 1 and 3/8" at the bust point (blue line) and then re-drew the side seam and center front (red lines.)

This left me with a significantly longer center front, but I didn't worry about that because I figured all the excess would be drawn up into the CF gathers. This may not have been the best way to go about this adjustment, but it worked.

The pattern went together pretty well until I got to the sleeves. There was way too much fabric in the sleeve cap to ease into the armhole. I was too tired to cut another set of sleeves and try to correct it, so I just made a little pleat at the top of each sleeve:

I actually kind of like the effect.

I followed the pattern instructions as far as order of construction. Once again, this pattern wanted me to use bias tape to finish the neckline. Hello? I don't think so. I used Wash Away Wonder Tape to stick the clear elastic onto the edge of the neckline and then I serged the edge. Then I turned it under and stitched it down with a twin needle. Looks great.

I followed the instructions for stitching three lines of gathering along the center front and pulling it up to create the CF gathers. It looked fine, but by the time I finished the top, the stitching was beginning to pull loose. So I cut a 1/8" piece of elastic to the proper length (the length of the CF "loop" folded in half, minus seam allowances) anchored it at the neckline edge with a couple of stitches, and then zig zagged over it down to the underbust seam, where I anchored it with a few straight stitches.

This worked even better than the gathers, and if I was going to make this top again, I would do it this way from the beginning. I don't think I'll make it again, though. Even though the pattern is great, I just don't like it that much on me.

In other sewing news, progress continues on the Kitty Mittens dress. Stay tuned for a progress report soon!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

That's a Lot of Pink

Remeber this dress, BWOF 09-2009-138:
From the magazine: The front of this sheath dress... is smooth and figure flattering while the back sports a flared and somewhat longer skirt panel. The short raglan sleeves and wide scoop neck-line add attractive details.

I actually finished this weeks ago, but I put off taking pictures because I prefer to take them outdoors and it has been freakishly cold here lately, but also because I couldn't decide if I was really satisfied with it and I was hesitant to share.

I already posted about the fitting adjustments I made to the dress here. Basically I made a 44/46 combination. This dress is from the plus section (BWOF September 09) so I think it was drafted for a curvier figure, and that worked in my favor.

I'm not completely happy with this dress. I think it's the fabric. It's gabardine from Hancock Fabrics and it just will not press well. I hate the puckery looking seams- it gives it a very homemade look. I do kinda like the lines, though. I think I'd like to try it again maybe in a nice drapey linen for spring.
I would make a few fitting tweaks. I think I need a slight swayback adjustment, and I could use maybe another 1/4" of length through the waist. I could take the waist in just a little more, also. I am also debating a small FBA. I get slight pull lines on the right side of the bust. There is more ease on the left side due to the gathers and it fits great, so I'm not sure whether to leave it as is or take a chance on adding a smidge.
In any case, I think I've decided I like the dress. I just want it in a better fabric. I wonder if I have anything suitable in my stash...

Sunday, February 14, 2010

We have PJ Pants!

I just finished three pairs of PJ pants for the Prince. We have Astronauts, Spiderman, and cars.

If you look closely, you may notice that, with the exception of the flannel car pants, these are not the same pants I showed cut out a couple of posts back. That's because I noticed after I cut them, that I cut the fronts too short. My son didn't want to wear high-water PJ pants, and he wasn't too keen about cutting them off and making shorts, either. So, I started over.

I used this pattern:

It includes boys' pajamas in sizes small through large, and mens' in sizes small through extra large. Both the nightshirt and the pants are offered in a long and short version.

The pants were ridiculously easy to make (once I managed to cut them out in the right size that is!) You can see where I added a grosgrain "tag" to help the Prince know which is the front and which is the back. (Do you have any idea how hard it was to find a suitable piece of ribbon in the stash that wasn't a "girlie" color?)

We might make some more of these, and we might even try out the nightshirt one of these days. In the meantime, all of these will count toward the stash fabric contest at PR. This is 7 yards worth of stash right here.
Stay tuned for an update on the Kitty Mittens dress soon.
Oh, and Happy Valentines Day!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Whoa Zebra!

Just in case you were afraid this was becoming a blog about sewing for children, I decided to share this with you. New Look 6940:
This is view A, the twist top with cap sleeves.

I used a cool lime green zebra print knit that Angie sent me a while back. ( I LOVE this fabric!) I cut a size 16 because it was the largest size offered. I would have graded out to an 18 from the underarm down if the 18 had been included on the pattern sheet, but since it wasn't and I was worried about the top being large enough (the fabric didn't have an excessive amount of stretch and I wasn't sure how to go about making an FBA on this) I compensated by sewing 3/8" seams at the underbust seam, the side seams, and the shoulders. Next time I make this, I'll go with 5/8" under the bust and at the shoulder.
I really like this pattern for two reasons: there is a center back seam (which I will adjust next time for a sway back) and it is quite long. I did not have to adjust the length at all and I still got a nice long top which I can tuck in or wear over my waistband without worrying about my midriff hanging out.
One thing I did not like about this pattern is that it instructs you to finish the neckline with bias tape after the top is finished. Bias tape? Really? I don't have that much experience with knits but bias tape did not seem like a great option to me. I decided to just turn under and stitch, but honestly, it was nearly impossible to finish the vee with all that fabric bunched up into the twist. In fact, it looks downright awful if you really dig around in that twist and look. Plus, I made the rookie mistake of not stabilizing the neck edge somehow, and it stretched all out of shape as I finished it. I ended up with a very deep, very gapey v-neck. Not a good look. I'm not sure if the depth of the vee was due to the pattern (I kind of doubt it since the pattern photo looks pretty nice and modest) or my clumsy finish, or a combination of the two. In any case, I ended up running a length of elastic cord through the neckline and that snugged it up nicely. I still need to wear a cami underneath, but that's okay. I plan to wear my lime green zebra stripe twist top with pride!
I would definitely like to make this again. Next time I'll try finishing the neck edge before sewing the twist. I think I'll be able to get a better finish and a nicer looking, more modest neckline.
I'd also like to make view D- the blue top with the flutter sleeves. Both tops will make great supplementary additions to SSSP.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Kitty Mittens Continues...

Construction has begun in earnest on Kitty Mittens (Vogue 8062.) I began by sewing an interfaced block of fashion fabric to the upper edge of my smocked and piped insert:
Vogue 8062 is not designed for an insert, so I had to modify the pattern. I eyeballed the insert against the pattern and decided that the empire seamline (from a different view) that was already marked on the front pattern piece would be the perfect placement line for the bottom edge of the smocked insert. I measured the insert and it was almost exactly 4 inches from top to bottom. So I drew a line on my pattern piece four inches above the line that indicated the bottom edge of the insert. Then I added 3/8" seam allowance lines below the upper line, and above the lower line. In essence, I'm removing a strip from the front of the pattern and replacing it with the smocked insert.

I traced the upper portion of the pattern piece (from the seam allowance line at the lower edge of the insert) and then folded it along the center front and cut it out. This gave me a complete pattern piece for the top of the dress front:

I laid this pattern piece on top of the insert (with interfaced fabric already attached), matching the center front line to the center of the insert, and the lower edge to the edge of the piping. Then I pinned carefully...

And cut:

Next I folded the top of the original pattern piece down at the seam allowance of the lower insert line and pinned it to my fabric. I cut as usual.

The pieces matched up perfectly.

I forgot to mention in my previous post that I used Wash Away Wonder Tape to position my piping on the insert before sewing. I also used it when I attached the interfaced block to the top of the insert and I used it again to position the lower front. Then I basted, and stitched. It will dissolve and wash completely away when the dress is washed.
Here is the completed dress front. It still needs a little bit of pressing, but it's ready to go. I'll simply follow the pattern instructions from here on out. Well, sort of. I've decided to line this dress. I want the Princess to be able to wear it with tights and I don't want the corduroy to cling.

In other news, I also cut out 4 pairs of pajama pants for the Prince. Spongebob, Transformers, Darth Vader, and flannel cars. He's all excited about new PJ pants, And I'm happy because I cleared 9 yards of fabric out of the stash!

Stay tuned for more stash busting activities!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Let the Construction Begin!

I really didn't get much done sewing-wise this week. In fact all I got done was prepping the Kitty Mittens insert for construction.
When I make a garment with a smocked insert, I prefer for that insert to stretch from side seam to side seam so that it's one continuous band across the front of the garment. That just wasn't possible with Kitty Mittens. I am working with an insert which was begun over a year ago, and I am using a pattern (V8062) that a) isn't designed for smocking, and b) is a larger size than I had originally planned for. But that's okay. I can work around all that!

The answer is to add "wings" to the sides of the smocked insert to make it longer. Here you can see that I've added a piece of my fashion fabric to the side edge of the smocking:

This wing will fill up the extra space between the smocking and the side seam, and it really won't even be noticeable because it will be under the arm, and it's the same fabric as the body of the dress.

Once the wings were in place, I added a strip of mini-piping to the top and bottom edges of the insert. You could add your piping to the insert first and then add the wings so that the piping frames only the insert and the seams in the fashion fabric aren't as noticeable. I chose to pipe the wings. The upper piping will be cut off by the armholes and the lower piping will continue to the side seam

I make my own mini-piping. This time I chose a pink/purple/green/yellow stripe cut on the bias. I usually cut my bias strip 1" wide and I use Sinfonia sportweight yarn as my piping cord.

It's 100% mercerized cotton. I bought this 200 meter skein at Hobby Lobby for 3.99 several years ago, and I've been using it here and there ever since. As you can see, there's quite a bit left. (200 meters is a lot of piping!)

Stay tuned. Next up I'll show how I adjust my pattern to include the insert...