Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Ms. Morris and the Quilted Sleeve

So I moved to the San Francisco area back in November and no lie, the temperature has changed by at most 10 degrees that entire time. My body still thinks its sometime in February. My wardrobe made for Boston and then Los Angeles weather, either hot or really, really cold is just not cutting it. I need a max 75 degrees and windy as f--- wardrobe.

Enter my new Morris from my pattern soulmate Grainline. Ms. Morris is perfect, I can throw her over my large collection of sleeveless blouses and wear them to work and through the wind tunnel that is San Francisco. The fabric is an amazing merino wool, nylon, lycra blend from my fabric store soulmate, The Fabric Store. This fabric is probably stretchier than what Jen recommends, but the nylon and lycra content give the fabric an amazing recovery and there has been absolutely no bagging whatsoever. I interfaced the facings, but not any of the body.

The pattern went together beautifully, minus some changes that were completely my fault. I did a combination FBA and general lengthening and even though I thought I transferred all changes to the facing, I did not and didn't have enough fabric to recut them. I then removed the added length from the front, so the general shape of the hem is not as angular as the original pattern.

My favorite part of this blazer is the double layered and quilted sleeves! I love them! (they are also the reason I didn't have enough fabric to recut the facings) The wrong side of the fabric is kind of nubby so it needed to be lined in some way and quilting them like this was by far the most badass. I used quilting adhesive to keep the sleeves together and my walking foot so that everything would be nice and smooth. Love that walking foot. The only problem is that the sleeves are now a bit too heavy for the jacket so I used some black twill tape on the shoulders to keep the sleeves from pulling them down.

If I could change something about this blazer, I would probably line the fronts instead of facing them. When the SF winds blow my jacket open and then catch the facings, this literally turns into a parachute. Also the added weight of a lining would hold the sleeves up better.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Blue, Drapey Blouse: Lilith and Eve 101

I really liked this shirt before I took these pictures. Great way to start a post right?

Jeez, look how happy I am.

This pattern is the Drapey Blouse L101 from Lilith and Eve, which I completely and totally fell in love with when it was released. Isn't the long sleeve version great? That's what I wanted to make, but when I got it, I realized there was no collar stand and I didn't want to mess around making my own, so I went sleeveless, no collar. I got the PDF pattern, everything went together great with perfectly fine instructions. There's a bit of gaping at the neck and underarms, but I'm sure this fits someone else perfectly. I really wish that since the drapey part pretty much requires a sheer fabric, this came with a pieces drafted for lining that was fitted so the shirt wouldn't always require wearing a second layer.

The fabrics are from Mood and are the result of experimental pattern mis-matching, which I still really like. The shibori is a favorite, though it is fairly loosely woven and I was worried about it would stand up over time, but with gently handling when washing, its perfectly fine. This combination was a blast to pick out, especially since the Mood employees had zero faith in the outcome.

The problems are when this pattern, my body type, and the fabric all come together and everything is just a little bit off. The shibori fabric just a tiny bit too stiff to hang right, but I think anything other than the most diaphanous chiffon would work here. My man was making me crack up while we took pictures of this saying it looked like a giant vagina was on my back. Personally, I think it looks like a gaping mouth. Still, neither are body parts I will to be recreated in fabric on my back. Secondly this shirt has a lot of drape and the front just falls off me. Will someone please remind me that fitted is best for my body type? Seriously, tweet it to me. Everyday. Anyways, I look bigger than I am in these pictures and I don't like that so much.

I still think this is a super cute pattern, just maybe not for me.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics: Store Review

All the wool!!! That green is hard to photograph!

Since leaving Los Angeles and my go-to mecca, The Fabric Store, my mission has been finding a suitable Bay Area replacement. So in the search for a new textile haven, this weekend I dropped the man off at Cal and headed over to Stonemountain & Daughter just down the road.

The store is fairly small, but that's Berkeley. The front part is mainly quilting, some shirting, and a few novelties. Its also fairly packed with notions, but because the store is so small the notion area has a little bit of a lot of stuff. For example, the Aurafil stand has super picked over and was replenished with some non-Aurafil threads. For a store dedicating a large portion of its space to quilting, I didn't see much cotton thread. The second part of the store is fashion fabrics, cottons, rayons, wools, silks, linens, and a significant amount of polys (yup, I'm a textile snob, even high quality polys that I have used sew and wear disappointingly). There's a good mix of knits and wovens as well. Each shelf is well labeled and the fabrics are easy access, no bolts on top of other bolts, no digging!

The service was, I'd say, average. There were some really nice women working there and some prickly types. One of the nicer ladies cut out my fabric for me and we chatted about sewing and what I was going to make. She was very patient with me when my phone wouldn't refresh and I couldn't access the yardages I needed. Earlier she was working with another customer and answering the customer's every question, she was super knowledgeable! Prices were high compared to The Fabric Store, but the quality of the fabrics I was going for were good and the bay area ain't cheap.

And just because I care about how easy it is to get to places, the parking situation isn't great. Everything out front was full, but I was able to find parking relatively closely in a residential area. The store is towards the end of a Berkeley main road.

I'll go back because I prefer shopping for fabrics in person and not online, but I still want to try out Britex. For quilting though, Stonemountain & Daughters has some beautifully curated stuff. My haul this time was all wool, a merino and nylon blend jersey for a dress and a wool crepe for a sleeveless blazer. I also got a Thread Theory pattern and some lovely buttons. Now, excuse me while I convert my entire wardrobe to merino.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Lark Tee: #1

I've been gone for a while to dedicate myself to finding a new job and great news, I got one! They say looking for a job is like having a full-time job itself and that sentiment is totally true. I worked all day, applied all night, and had no time to do fun things, like sew or knit or stay sane. Now that I'm happily settled into my new job, I'm back to regularly sewing and I want to steadily get back to blogging and participating in our community. Keep me honest, people!

My most recent project was the Lark Tee by the glorious Jen at Grainline. I love Grainline. The Lark was my first paper Grainline pattern and they are lovely with a cute little pattern book, even though I pretty much exclusively use the sew-alongs. I love that each of the options for the Lark has its own pattern piece, as in there are separate patterns for the cap, short, 3/4, and long sleeves. Sure, it takes up more paper, but its just more elegant, easier to cut, trace, whatever method you use. The neckline variations are also like that!

Check out those gloriously matching seams, even some points at the sleeves! Thank you walking foot!

I chose to make the 3/4 length sleeves (I live in San Francisco now, its chilly!) with a V-neck. V-necks generally look better with my larger bust, breaking up that expanse of fabric I need to cover everything. I used a rayon ponte (I think) that I got from my Mood shopping spree a few months back. It was originally meant to be a Named Pattern shirt, but in the end I realized Lark was more versatile and, of course, the V-neck. Its super stretchy, very stable, and has great recovery.

I sewed the pattern as drafted at first (sorry, no pics!) and the V hit way too high on me and actually made my boobs look really droopy (sad there's no pics now, aren't you?). I ended up lowering the neckline by about 1 1/4", but keeping the angle of the V. I also thought the neckline binding was too narrow, just my personal perception of proportions and cut a binding with an extra inch in width, resulting in a 1/2" wider folded binding. The shirt is also drafted to be fairly long and I ended up cutting off 2.5" with a wide hem. I also have to say, that neckline is sewed perfectly, go me!

Future changes will include widening the neckline which will also flatter my wider shoulders as well as lowering the back neckline which has too much fabric and is folding over the binding at the back of my neck. The fabric that I used is super stretchy, anything with less stretch and I would cut a much longer binding piece as this one (oh yeah, I cut a slightly longer binding to make up for cutting a lower neckline) even seems to be gathering a bit. I currently have two fabrics in my stash for Larks and am washing and cutting tomorrow!

Gathering at the back neckline.
In other news, I'm going to be an Auntie in a couple months now! I have tons of baby-sized scraps left over from a bunch of my clothes, are Auntie-and-me clothes totally gauche? Not that I care cause its happening! I'm thinking little onesie overalls for this fabric.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Mood LA: Store Review

The fates of these beauties, from left: Megan Nielsen Cascade skirt, Named Kanerva shirt, and ByHandLondon Victoria blazer.
I got quite the windfall of Mood gift certificates for my birthday and Christmas last year and had a shit-ton of fun this weekend. I went all Scrooge McDuck in that place.

Let's do this chronologically:
The parking
Oh hell, the parking, its not fun. I get kinda anxious when I drive around downtown LA, some people are crazy. So you go into the alley behind Mood accessed by an entrance to the left of Mood on La Brea southbound or on the road to the right of Mood. They have a few spots in the back, 10 maybe, but they were already full. I was flagged down by a man asking if I was shopping at Mood and he told me to park in this area that had a big sign saying "No parking for Mood customers, you will be towed." Really, you want me to park here? "Yes, yes park." But I'm blocking these other cars. "Park here, park now." But I'm shopping at Mood. "WOMAN PARK." Ok he didn't say those exact words, but the connotation was there. So you give him your name, number, and car type and happily go shopping. Or so I naively thought.
After happily flouncing around Mood people started running around Mood yelling my car's stats. I ran to find them, "That's my car, please don't tow it, the man said I could park there, oh god I can't afford towing bills." Turns out they park cars three deep so when someone is done rolling in fabric mountains, Mood calls all the other customers to move their cars. Its not the most efficient, but I guess it better than parking 14 blocks away. Then the parking man told me to park in the emergency spot. The emergency spot? "Yes, over there" vaguely gestures over there. Um, ok, emergency, fire lane I guess. I get as close the wall as I can park and get out. Is this what you were talking about? "No, no, no, the emergency spot" gestures again. THE HANDICAPPED SPOT??? "Yes yes yes." This man hates me by now. Are you sure about that? "WOMAN PARK."
So the parking situation at Mood is not a blast, but at least you'll be prepared now. Good luck to you.

The fabric
Wow, that's a TON of fabric. The treasures are stored on tall (20') shelves that have about 5 shelves each. Fabric is stored 5 or so rolls deep. Its a bitch and a half pulling the bottom rolls out. Each roll has a little tag either hanging out or shoved into the tube with the price, content, and (sometimes) designer origin. Note the roll might have been stored backwards and you have to pull the roll out to the get to the tag. Some rolls are stored in buckets, much easier to access but not as space efficient.
All fabric aisles are simply labeled, shirting, cashmere, silk, etc.
There is so much fabric diversity and its wonderful to handle them in person. Most everything felt quality and you could spend hours and hours just looking at everything.

The people
This is where Yelp review scared the crap out of me. I didn't want surly staff ruining fabric shopping day. Its a sacred day. The cutting staff was wonderful! Helpful, not pushy, easily accessible. They helped me pull out rolls that were under 50 lbs of other fabrics, quickly cut things, nicely teased me about wanting to cut way more fabric than I needed (yes, they convinced me to buy less fabric), and offered sartorial advice when requested. They were lovely.
The checkout staff was super surly! Whoa. But you only have to spend like 4 minutes with them, so whatevs. Yes, they do have a doggie, but he was napping.

Mood was fun! I brought back beautiful fabric and had a ton of fun seeing all the possibilities on Mood's shelves. I highly recommend the store, especially if you have a handicapped placard :)

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Noro Bowls

"You're going to knit bowls? What can you put in a knit bowl?" Said everyone (except Kelly!).

You can put almost anything in a knit bowl!

I saw these in a Noro magazine a few years back and then kicked myself for not buying it. Enter Ravelry and I found where I could buy the pattern, Felted Bowls, even though the magazine was out of print. Thank you Ravelry!!!! I also have a serious love for Noro. Those colors, I just want to fill my world with those colors. Specifically its Hitsuji, a big squishy, seriously wooly stuff. I forgot where I bought it, but I had to get it online because not a lot of people seem to stock this stuff (at least when I got it). The yarn was a Christmas present from my wonderful in-laws, thank you Pam and Jim!

The pattern was easy, but I didn't quite trust I was doing it correctly at first. This was also my first time felting anything (on purpose), which was slightly terrifying. The bowl on the right is more felted, the one in the middle is the least felted. They were all felted at different times. I think because the felting was so inconsistent, I didn't get the nesting effect that the pattern shows. I'll probably one day felt that middle one a bit more.

Shaping these wasn't the easiest thing in the world. You might able to tell the middle of the knitting circle isn't the middle of the bowl. Kind of like an off-center belly button. I have a slightly off-center belly button so it makes me feel better about myself. Lol. When the bowls are filled, who cares where the center is located? That's a deep thought man.

So what can you put into a knit bowl? I have one of work, I toss everything in there, pens, candy, hand lotion. At home, house keys, headbands, change, lipgloss. Great for keeping my messes contained!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

The Watson Set!

Making my first lingerie set gave me the same "oh my god I made that!" feeling as when I first started sewing a million years ago. Thank you Watson!


Let's start from the top down. I used stretch lace from Hart's Fabric, but I don't think I'd recommend it. It catches on EVERYTHING!!! I lined the cups in stretch mesh from Bra Maker's Supply and lined the band in cradle in powernet from BMS. I read the instructions like a 1000 times before I made it and I didn't catch that I was supposed to line in cradle in something with no stretch. The elastics I used were also from BMS and they are nice, so soft and strong.

I cut a size 34E but found that the cups are too small. Maybe this is due to the combination of lace and lining, maybe I suck at measuring myself. I'm going bigger next time. I thought the pattern was great, pretty clear, I love that I'm given stitch length and width recommendations. Being new to lingerie sewing, I don't know the lingo yet so I had trouble with figuring out which elastic went where and I that's where the cradle lining debacle came from as well. A big-ass arrow saying "This part of the bra needs this treatment and is called (enter lingerie specific term here)" would have helped, but I think I have it all now. Other than choosing the wrong cup size, the bra fits well, the band is angled to my body just right and the straps hit my shoulders just right so they don't slip and slide. But man, getting the hooks and eyes on are a BITCH!

The undies are pure undie perfection. Completely true to size, even though when I put the pattern together they look like enormous paper diapers. Great coverage and feels secure.

I'm not sure how I feel about making more of these yet, once I figure out the right size I'll have a better idea if this type of bra can be worn on a regular basis with a larger chest. Its so pretty, I hope so!