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Kwik Sew 3463: Skinny Pocket Version

March 17th, 2014 Comments off

This post marks the beginning of “historic” posts from 2014, before I took a long break from blogging:

Once I’d made one tunic, I made another and then another, each time varying the pockets and and the neck bands.

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This is the second of four:  Pink isn’t really my thing, but I can’t seem to resist stripes, and this was a lovely, soft, cotton knit.

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The pockets, in this case, are skinny and vertical, just wide enough to put a hand into, and they’re set perpendicular to the main stripes.  I didn’t want my stitches to conflict with the stripes on the fabric, so I carefully attached the pockets by sewing along one of the skinny white stripes.

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That gave the pocket attachment a much more deliberate look, and also made the white topstitching look more organic than it would have if run across the pink stretch.

Instead of making a neck band, I faced the neck edge with a strip of fabric, cut crosswise and then turned under.

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I didn’t have a coverstitch machine when I made this, and you can see that I had some trouble making consistently-sized stitches on the second (lower) row.  Stitching near the bulk of the seamline is much more consistent.

The seamline between the facing and the tunic is to the right in the photo below; that strip is the facing, turned inside.  I like this finish better than simply turning the edge of the garment in and stitching; the facing strip gives a little more substance, and a more finished look.

Because I didn’t have the extra width of the band called for by the pattern, my neckline is larger and lower than the one designed by Kwik Sew.  Next time, I’d alter the pattern so that mine doesn’t turn out this wide.

The Kwik Sew pattern is excellent; I did change up the shape of the skirt to make it flare in an “A” shape.   Construction is really simple .  .  .

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.  .  .  but skinny-stripe matching less so.  I was really annoyed that these weren’t perfect, but perfection is hard to find!

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I hope this isn’t one of the huge number of Kwik Sew patterns Big Pattern kills — it’s fun and versatile, and a great stepping stone for playing around with various decorative elements.

See different versions of this pattern:

Color-Blocked Tunic with Hidden Pocket

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Color-Blocked Tunic with Hidden Pocket

February 27th, 2014 2 comments

(This is a “catch-up” post from long before now.)

The past few year has just evaporated for me, with lots and lots going on that kept me far from my sewing room.  I’m looking forward to spending a lot more time there in the future than I have lately.

But first, I have a backlog of posts that have yet to make it to the interwebs.  First up, the Parade of Tunics. In my new-found devotion to being comfortable at all costs, I adapted this Kwik Sew pattern:

An elongated tunic like this just doesn’t do anything for me, so I flared the skirt, and then worked up a muslin. I’m in love with the idea of wearing PJs all the time, and apparently want to be able to go out so clad, too.  My plan was to make a tried-and-true pattern I could use for all seasons, with variations.

The muslin has a geometric panel, and (my favorite feature) a hidden pocket:

Miss Bedelia, nude as she is under the tunic, is not the best model for knits, since her wire frame protrudes distractingly, but I’m loving using her, and she’s the only dummy I have at the moment who is my size.

To make the panel, I traced the pattern, cut, slashed, and added seam allowances as required.  Easy-peasy, really.  I added an invisible zipper to the seam, with access to the hidden pocket:

I used an embroidered twill for the pocket.  It’s covered in bees, which is amusing, but the fabric is really too stiff to be discreet, so it’s a bit bulkier than it should be.

Hey, this was a muslin, so why not?  I’m not crazy about this particular tunic, but it’s still a lot of fun to wear, and if a tee shirt can’t be fun, what good is it?

The solid contrasting colors don’t send me, but this was also an exercise in stash-busting, so I’m dealing with it.

Kwik Sew patterns have always been sort of the step-children of the pattern world, and quite under-rated, I think.  I’ve always found them to be utterly reliable, and great starting points for exercising some imagination.  I was saddened to learn that Big Pattern has bought Kwik Sew, and the inevitable degeneration has begun:  No more lovely heavy pattern paper, a greatly pared-down catalog, and, soon, I presume, extinction.

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Vogue 8854: My Kind of Sweats

February 5th, 2014 4 comments

This is the second time I’ve made this tunic.  The first go-round was an experiment:  Could I get a decent-looking top out of some men’s sweatshirts?  The answer was “yes”, and now there’s no stopping me!

btnVogue 8854 is turning out to be my best friend:  gotta love this collar  and the great excuse for featuring a single favorite button!  That’s a skinny grosgrain loop around the button, below, which make a quick, no-turn, closure.  I do double the ribbon, though, for durability, and stitch along the edges before sewing it in place.

btnbtnI mostly sleep-walked through making this one, and made a massive number of mistakes, all of which I was able to fix, more or less. Paying attention counts, but so does recovering when one hasn’t . . . and sweatshirting, thank goodness, is the most forgiving of fabrics, providing, of course, you rip out stitches with great patience.

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I managed to get the stuff that counts most, righ.  And I remembered the small details, like the edge-stitching on the shoulder.  That  helps define the seams, and keeps them from looking sloppy-sweatshirt-puffy.

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This iteration was cut from just two men’s sweatshirts — one XL, I think, and one XXL, for the length.  There doesn’t seem to be much increase in length as the sizes go up, so I wasn’t tempted to buy anything larger.

v8854Love this pattern!  The changes I made included sloping the shoulder to fit my own better, enlarging the front pocket, lining the front pocket, adding cuffs using ribbing from the source sweatshirts, using grosgrain instead of self-fabric for the button loop, and eliminating the shirt-tail detailing from the hem.

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Chiffon Wrap

November 18th, 2013 8 comments

This wrap couldn’t be easier to make:  one rectangle, two seams! Here’s the front:

The pattern is by Rhonda Buss, of Rhonda’s Creative Life, who made it part of her weekly free pattern posts.  My version isn’t very exciting, featured as it is here, on my duct tape dummy, but it’s wonderful to wear.

Back view:

Because I never wear anything remotely formal, a wrap like this has a lot of appeal.  Slip it on over a black top and slim pants, and, voilà, I can almost look dressed-up.  Also, it packs up into nothing at all; if I had to look somewhat elegant, this could be a good fake.  Or it could be one fantastic beach wrap!  Here’s a sneak preview of Rhonda, modeling it quite romantically:

to get the full effect, you’ll need to check out Rhonda’s post where you can see it in its wondrous, flowing, glory at the beach!

I used my rolled hem foot to finish all the edges.  It did a beautiful job, and was a quick and easy way to knock off the project.

Rhonda’s instructions are here.  If you don’t know her blog, do take a look around.  Rhonda consistently posts clever and imaginative ways to think about, and manipulate, fabric — her Fabulous Free Pattern Fridays are incredibly inspirational, but so is the rest of her blog.  Go visit — you won’t be sorry!

Categories: Jackets, Tops Tags:

My Kind of Tunic: Vogue 8854

March 1st, 2013 23 comments

A lot of people have complained about the un-inspirational drawing on this envelope. Not me! As soon as I saw it, I knew this pattern was made for me.  It’s taken months to sew it up, but my first reaction was right: Here’s my new favorite garment: A sweatshirt for grown-ups!

I made this tunic out of three men’s sweatshirts, largely because I couldn’t find a color I liked in yardage I could purchase.

This tunic has great shaping, but the best feature is that collar — it’s fantastic in a way that is only hinted on the pattern envelope!  It’s buttoned and folded down, above.

Isn’t that great?  But wait, there’s more! Here’s the collar worn up:

and here it is worn open:

I love, love. love this tunic! All the comfort of a sweatshirt, with none of the ugly! It’s also extremely easy to make, especially if you ignore Vogue’s directions.  Here’s a list of what I did differently, and what changes I made:

  • I made a size S(mall), but altered the shoulder line, which was too horizontal for my body.
  • Because I cut this pattern from three sweatshirts, I had to slash  the pattern horizontally to fit the pieces, and draft two new lower pattern pieces, one for the lower front and one for the lower back.  I could have cut the lower front on a fold, but I cut two separate pieces and seamed them instead, so that the original vertical seam line was preserved below the pocket.
  • The new lower back piece was cut on a fold, like the upper back.
  • I enlarged the pocket, making it wider. I didn’t like the proportions on the pattern pocket as much as I wanted to, and my pockets need to work, meaning this one had to be big enough to use.
  • I stitched higher up the pocket opening line than Vogue suggests.  As noted above, my pockets need to work. I wanted to be sure anything tucked inside wasn’t going to fall out easily.  If you do this, make sure that your hand fits into the opening!
  • I finished the sleeves with the original ribbing from the sweatshirts.  I love cuffs on sweatshirt sleeves, so this was a no-brainer for me. Using the sweatshirt cuffs meant that the ribbing matches perfectly; that would have been hard to do if I’d tried to buy it separately
  • I eliminated the curve at the hem.  I don’t much like the look, and I wanted this to be more tunic/dress like than tunic/shirt like.
  • I edge-stitched everywhere, so I didn’t follow Vogue’s directions for stitching the plackets. There was no reason not to, I just prefer the edge-stitching.  Arguably, Vogue’s stitching on the collar (about an inch in from the edge) is more refined-looking.

I pretty much ignored Vogue’s instructions, which seem increasingly ridiculous and out-of-touch.  There’s no good reason to sew the shoulder seams before doing the front plackets; all that does is ensure that you’re hauling around a ton of extra fabric while working with the plackets.

Also, why would anyone set the sleeves into the armhole on a garment so perfectly suited for sewing them in flat?  I ignored this, too.

However, I did interface the collar, which I normally wouldn’t have done when sewing with sweatshirting. The interfacing gives it enough body to keep its shape.  New sewists don’t need to fret:  the collar is just a rectangle, so it’s easy to handle.

My loop is grosgrain, rather than self-fabric; I just happened to have the perfect color on hand, and like the crispness of the ribbon.  I was lucky to find a coordinated button, too.

Heres’s the back view. It’s a little flat, here on the dummy, without the arms, and the shaping of the sides of the tunic gets lost a bit.  But in real life it fits very nicely, with a little bit of a retro vibe in spite of its generally classic look.

This is a very quick sew (if you don’t need to make new pattern pieces, that is!) that no one need fear.  I’ve got another one in the pipeline, and I have a feeling this will become a favorite for years to come.  Easy to sew and easy to wear — what could be better?

It’s been a long time since I blogged here — five months, to be exact. Bad blogger!  I have been sewing, but my life, for better or worse, isn’t just sewing, so I haven’t been writing up the projects. Maybe I’ll catch up, or maybe I’ll just continue to post here now and then . . . time will tell.  At the moment, I don’t have a clue!

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Sailor Cycling

April 26th, 2012 20 comments

I cycle, and I like to be as visible as possible.  Bright red, screaming orange, and hideous yellow-green, yes,  ma’am, you’re my friends. But a boxy, horrible utility vest?  Not so much.  So I got a hold of two IKEA Patrull safety vests like this one:

and turned them into this:

It appears darker than the IKEA vest because it’s just one layer, and on a darker background (my dummy, that is).  And I took the photo indoors, apparently in bad light.  Photography is not my strong suit.

I’d been thrashing around the internet for a while, looking for inspiration when I stumbled on this:

The photo is on a site called {frolic!}, and it’s actually a reflective cycling vest.  Too cute, right?  Apparently it was sold by a UK firm called Bobbin Bicycles, but they’ve since gone out of business.  Or at least become impossible to find.  (The {frolic!} post is from 2009.)

Let me be the first to admit that mine isn’t nearly as cute as this one.  I love the nautical look, but the BB vest is too small, and too somberly colored for day use, as least in my view.  Also, my vest needed to do four  things, above and beyond being nautical :

  1. It needed to be bright.
  2. It needed to be large enough to wear over anything I’d put on while cycling.
  3. It needed to be cool on very hot days.
  4. On very hot days, it needed to allow me to wear only a sports bra under it, and yet appear in public somewhat modestly-clad.

Bingo!  My vest does it all.  Plus, it’s a bit kooky.  I like kooky.  The back is pretty tame (forgive my duct tape dummy, who is both lopsided and a lot larger than I am now):

I used a size L IKEA vest, and a size S.  First, I removed all the reflective strips from the IKEA vests.  Then  I took two pieces of the IKEA reflective strips, and sewed this trim on top of them (I used the middle-sized one):

adding velcro at the ends.  (The trim is “iron-on”, but I don’t do iron-on, especially on poly knits.)  Then I cut side panels out of the S vest, and cut replacements from breathable mesh (that’s the black fabric).  Here’s what the base vest looked like with the mesh pinned in place:

I  put the reflective strips into the back side seams between the yellow vest and the black mesh, and sewed it all together with my coverstitch machine.  The belt allows me to cinch up the vest when I want to, and let it fly when it’s too hot to wear it neatly.

I cut the nautical collar from the size L, using Burda 2424, an adorable pattern that never came to the USA, and altered the slope of the shoulder to conform to the size S vest.

The collar is a completely different style from the inspiration vest, but that didn’t matter.  They’re both adorable.

I cut the IKEA reflective strips in half to make the striping for the collar, and zig-zagged them in place.

You can see the holes from the IKEA stitching, but this is a utility vest, not haute couture, so it’s nothing I’m concerned about.

I lay the collar over the S vest, drew a line in chalk where the S vest needed to be trimmed, and attached the collar.   I probably should have used a facing, but this was a quick-and-dirty job, done very much on the fly, and I wanted to keep the weight and bulk down.

Uhh, maybe what I mean is “I wanted to keep the bulk in the collar only”.

Then I did the messiest job ever inserting an invisible zipper in the front, and finished by covering the collar seam with 1/4 inch twill tape.

Finally, I added the ties, because I’m a responsible cyclist, and there’s no wind in my hair, due to the helmet on my head.  Instead, I have flying ties.  Not a bad trade off, I’d say.  The loop that holds the tie together is sewn to the edge of one of the ties:  I couldn’t sew it to the front of the vest without making it impossible to open the top, yet I didn’t want to knot the ties.  Here’s the final result, once again:

Special thanks to Prachtstueckwerk!

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Customized Zipper Pull for My Minoru

April 5th, 2012 6 comments

I like to have an extension on the zippers I use, particularly if I may wear gloves when trying to open them, or if the pockets are inside, and a little tricky to get to.  But the plain black tabs that can be purchased at places like REI or EMS are sometimes just too boring.  I like a little hidden pizazz:

These tabs are actually very easy to customize.  Here’s what the they look like, straight from the package:

All you do is pry open the tab, pull out the cord it came with, and then replace the cord with whatever color you wish, and pinch the tab back together.  You’ll have to set the cord in the channels in the tab precisely, but that’s easy to do,  with a little care.

If you’re replacement cord is too thick to pull through the zipper pull  in a doubled loop, run a single strand of cord right through the hole in the zipper pull, then pinch the tab together.  That’s what I did for the inside pockets on my Minoru jacket.

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Burda Polo Triplet

March 29th, 2012 Comments off

I’ve been away, and working on several projects of various kinds that aren’t yet finished, but one thing I did manage to do before I left was to knock off a couple more of my favorite tops, from BurdaStyle’s 09/2010 issue, pattern number 121.  These make up incredibly fast, and wear sooooo comfortably!

I used the cotton/poly/spandex cord mentioned in this post, but carefully examined each bolt so that I didn’t end up with the fade stripe on the fabric I took home.  (It took trips to three different JoAnn stores to find bolts without the fade issue!).  These three are a dark purple, gray, and black — great basic colors.  This “winter” has been so warm that I probably won’t be wearing them again until next fall, but they’re ready to go when the weather turns cool again.

By the way, there are more Minoru Jackets up on my round-up post today.  Take a look, and see what people have done with Tasia’s fantastic pattern!  (Scroll to the bottom to see the newest additions.)

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Vogue 8771 – The Sweats Version

February 9th, 2012 10 comments

I’m supposed to be sewing my Minoru jacket, but other things have taken precedence, and I still haven’t gotten to it.  Fortunately, the sew-along is moving at a relaxed pace, so I’m not out of time quite yet.

In between some critical house projects, I did manage to sew up this weird and wonky tunic.  I’m desperately searching for some alternative to rectangular sweatshirt tunics to wear around the house.  I live with five toddlers cats, so I need some serious, indestructible shirts to loll about in.  This looked as if it might fit the bill, and I knew it would make up in less than an hour.  My assessment was right on target.

I don’t think this is a flattering style on anyone, although doing the front panel in a contrasting color might help.  (So would having the proportions of the women in Vogue’s illustrations, which I’ve never seen on a living person  It’s always a bad sign when the pattern company only shows a pattern in sketches, with no photos.)

Back view:

The full sleeves exaggerate the width of the top, and make it look clumsy and super-wide.  For wearing comfort, this is excellent.  For style, not so much.

The sleeves gather into the gauntlet-like cuffs, which run from the elbow to the wrist. (The sleeve is unhemmed here; I was still making up my  mind about the length.)

I actually think this is very practical for a wear-around-the-house, utility garment.  The top is nice and warm, but the fit is so close along the lower arm that the sleeves stay well out of the way when performing domestic tasks (or sewing, for that matter).

The “tail” on the tunic is very long, but the front isn’t quite long enough — when it rides up, as it inevitably does when worn, it neatly arcs over the lower crotch area on my leggings.  This is fine at home, but perhaps not the effect anyone would prefer when running around in public.  The rear hem length does a nice job of making leggings respectable, though.

This pattern is meant to be sewn in something drapey and fluid.  I didn’t do that.  Instead, I used some black sweatshirting I’d picked up at that “craft”  store that sells fabric, because sweats were what I needed.

Although it’s priced at $13 per yard, this stuff is the nastiest sweatshirt fabric I’ve ever seen.  My local JoAnn stores have replaced their sturdy but wearable 60/40 cotton/poly sweatshirting with this dreck, and it’s awful.   I did realize, to my horror, that it was almost all polyester  before I bought it, but, hey, it was for knocking around the house, so I figured I could live with that.  What I hadn’t counted on were the sparkles (yes — sparkles!) in the material, which I assume are all the hard plastic bits that give it a truly awful hand once it’s washed.

Do.Not.Buy.This.  Even at steep discount!  It’s worth — and I use the term loosely — four dollars a yard at best, but only if you’re upholstering plywood with it, or doing something similar.

See the horrible little plastic flecks?  Yuck.  The alarming plasticity of this stuff made it poof peculiarly where the sleeve curve met the bodice.  That’s my fault, not Vogue’s, due to my choice of fabric.  I edge-stitched all around the sleeve seam, which reduced the plastic pouf a bit.

Because there was absolutely no stretch to my material, I cut the size Vogue recommended (it’s usually waaay too big for me), and used a smaller-than-usual seam allowance.  I also raised the neckline; I think Vogue’s doesn’t work very well, and makes the shirt look more droopy than drapey.

Would my result be more flattering if done in a lighter weight knit?  Possibly.  Maybe I’ll give it a try.  I do like the cut of the center panel, but the unflattering sleeves, not so much.  Overall grade:  Meh.

(Ignore the baby gate in the background.  Did I mention that we had a houseful of toddlers cats?)

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Burda Turtleneck & A Gripe

January 20th, 2012 10 comments

This fall I fell in love with a cotton/poly/spandex stretch cord I saw at JoAnn.  I wanted to make leggings from the fabric, but the wales run from selvedge to selvedge, and that just didn’t seem like a good idea.  When I needed another top, though, I immediately thought of this material.  I bought it and made another turtleneck from BurdaStyle’s 09/2010 issue, pattern number 121:

It’s soft and comfortable, with a little bit of texture for interest, and made up perfectly.

However.  The clerk at JoAnn and I spent a lot of time trying to find an undamaged yard-and-a-half on the bolt.  Both ends were crushed so badly that the pile had no recovery.  At the open end, there were several random spots which were similarly damaged.  We did find enough (theoretically) undamaged fabric so that I could go home with my yardage.

Then I did the pre-wash, and look what I took out of the dryer:

Nice, huh?  That’s an exceptionally nasty fade line along the fold.

I was able to use it anyway, by cutting the sleeves on the crosswise grain; for this size, and with this amount of stretch, it didn’t matter.  But I’m annoyed, once again, by JoAnn’s real lack of quality control.  Sure, I could have taken it back — and I would have if I hadn’t been able to make it work — but this kind of quality control really shouldn’t be the consumer’s job.  This fabric was full retail, not a “bargain” piece, or heavily discounted.  And this is just the sort of nasty surprise you don’t want to discover, a year later, in your stash.

Also, I’m heartbroken.  My local JoAnn has several more colors, but somehow I don’t think I’ll be risking buying any.  But I wish I could.

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