Sewing a case for my new essential oils collection

from Instagram: A bonus of jumping on the essential oils bandwagon: I get to sew a storage case for them! I’ve had this triangle print fabric forever, but never knew what to do with it. And 3000 meters of jeans gold thread, so… denim. I can’t wait to get started on the #CrimsonandCloverTrainCase pattern by @sewsweetness that these little bins will nest in. http://ift.tt/2pVyGqS
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short sleeve scoop neck tee with rounded hem

Short sleeve scoop neck tee

After I made a long sleeve scoop neck tee from a pattern I drafted from a ready-to-wear tee, I was so happy with it that I knew there would be more of them in my future. And all of a sudden, it’s 100°. Meaning it’s time to make a short-sleeve version of it.

For a more polished look, I like a longer, slimmer short sleeve that comes almost to the elbow. I’ve also been wanting to do a rounded hem on the bottom, inspired by a tee in my closet that has a flattering rounded hem but is a little too small.

Process notes

  • used pattern from long sleeve scoop neck tee and constructed in the same manner
  • shortened sleeve length to match the boatneck tee drafted from my J.Crew top
  • rounded hem based on a tee from my closet
  • used red and white striped knit fabric

Results

Love it! It came together relatively quickly once the pieces were cut out. Eventually I want to get to the point of using the serger for the arm/side seams once the sleeves are attached.

The fit is great, and the rounded hem is a keeper. I could see going shorter with the sleeve, maybe something like this or shorter with a slight curve.

Update: After wearing this top a few times, I see that it could be a little longer, so I’ll try adding 1″ length to it next time. The scoop neck could also be smoothed out at the sides — it angles too sharply at the front center.

short sleeve scoop neck tee with rounded hem

sleeve detail on chambray button-down shirt

Epic chambray shirt

I watched the Craftsy class The Classic Tailored Shirt all the way through some time ago, but never felt motivated to actually make the shirt. Although I was inspired by the hand-stitched collar band process when designing and making my Tailored Dog Jacket.

When I watched The Gunman the other day on Netflix, the chambray button down shirts that some of the characters wore stuck in my mind. I decided I needed to have a shirt like that. These shirts were certainly not classic tailored shirts, but the class helped me get through the confusing pattern instructions that came with McCall’s 6649. That’s the button down shirt pattern I had from when I bought Craftsy’s One Pattern, Many Looks: Blouses.

Process notes

  • used sloper from One Pattern, Many Looks: Blouses class
  • used dark blue chambray fabric
  • only used interfacing on upper collar and neck side of collar band
  • yoke: I did it so the top stitched side faces out, so when I joined the shoulder seams to it, and slid the yoke piece down 1/8 in. for turn of cloth, it was too bulky inside and the outer yoke pulled on it. I compensated for this by pressing it with slight folds in seams to straighten things out.
  • collar band and collar: I got quite confused with this component, between which sides get interfacing and which pieces get pressed at 5/8 in. After doing some Googling, it seems like there are multiple ways to do this correctly, except that typically the non-interfaced collar band piece is the one that gets pressed up 5/8 in. And the important thing is to make sure the button hole is on the right side of the collar band.
  • cuffs: this was all kinds of confusing. I’m pretty sure I sewed the plackets in on the wrong side because of where the top stitching ended up being, and there’s a pinch in one of them, but they function just fine so I didn’t rip anything out.
  • using a double thread for sewing on the buttons was problematic for me, and I kept getting knots and mistakes, so I switched to single thread and it went much more smoothly

Results

What a feat! It took 3 big days of sewing, but it’s done. I’m SO glad I my sloper to make sure the shoulders actually fit me. And I’m glad that my sloper didn’t require changes to the neckline, shirt length, or sleeve cuff — making those adjustments on my first shirt would have been really challenging.

chambray button-down shirt

Next time, I’d leave out the interfacing all together because I like a softer more crinkly look. I’d also like to figure out how shirts get that rippled edge near the topstitching — not sure if it’s in the construction, or just happens after several washes or what.

And now that I’ve seen how the shirt comes together, doing some contrasting accents, like in the collar band, button placket, or cuffs would be cool.

neckline detail on red and white scoop neck tee

Long sleeve scoop neck tee

I’ve been meaning to make some copies of my Loft long sleeve scoop neck tees for ages. I picked up several of them a few years ago, and for some reason they’ve all developed little holes in the front, around the area where the waistband of jeans would rub. They’re such a wonderful wardrobe staple, and drafting a pattern from them for my stash is a no-brainer.

red and white scoop neck long sleeve tee

Process notes

  • used red and white striped knit fabric
  • moved shoulder forward 1/2 in.
  • modified the shoulder slope to be a little flatter in the top-back, and sharper in the top-front
  • constructed with lightning bolt stitch, 2.0 width & 3.5 length
  • neckline:
    1. did not use tricot interfacing at neckline
    2. stay stitched at scant 3/8″
    3. cut single fold collar band 1 1/2 in. x 34 in. and pressed in half
    4. stitched collar band, right sides together, raw edges aligned
    5. top stitched seam allowances towards shirt, using stretch twin needle.

Results

red and white scoop neck long sleeve teeAbsolutely thrilled with how this tee turned out! The shoulder is great, the length is good for regular pants (not so much leggings), and the scoop is a great size.

I’d love to turn this into a short sleeve tee as well, but with a curved shape at the bottom instead of straight across. I’m hoping that makes it look more feminine and not so unisex.

I think this sleeve will be a good model for my knit pattern block.

Boatneck long sleeve tee in navy

One of my favorite tees is a hip-length black and white striped tissue tee with 3/4 sleeves and a boatneck from Loft. It’s a great fit — roomy enough to be super comfy, yet slim enough to look polished. For this project, I drafted a pattern from it and sewed it up in a nice, soft, navy knit.

navy boatneck long sleeve tee

Process notes

  • lengthened 3/4 sleeve by 5 in., bringing it to a full wrist length
  • 7 in. width at wrist end of sleeve pattern
  • neckline:
    1. neckline is constructed to include the shoulder seams right in the boatneck shaping
    2. for binding cut (2) pieces of same fabric 1 5/8 in. x 20 in.
    3. fused 1/2 in. wide tricot interfacing along neckline
    4. stay stitched at 3/8 in.
    5. aligned binding along the stay stitch line and stitched 1/2 in. from it
    6. trimmed off 3/8 in. (most of tricot interfacing got trimmed off)
    7. turned binding to inside and topstitched with stretch twin needle
    8. slightly overlapped shoulder areas and top stitched together
  • used 5/8 in. seam allowance to join arms, but 1/2 in. at side seam
  • added side vents

Results

I got lucky with this fabric — it’s very comfortable with a nicely balanced amount of stretch. We’ll see how it wears. I got it at the mill ends and remnants store where fabric content is unknown.

The first thing I noticed after trying it on was that the back shoulder need reshaping with a gentler slope to account for my forward sloping shoulders. But I do like how the boatneck works on this pattern, with a smoother overlap compared to my pattern drafted from my J. Crew tee.

The shaping along the sides and the overall length are good, although the bottom hem wants to flip up. This might be because of the side vents.

Next time, I’d lengthen the sleeves by 1/2 to 1 in., and adjust that shoulder curve. The adjustments are minor — overall it’s a winner.

Black knit lounge pants (not quite yoga)

After sewing another Coco, I moved over to some personal sewing projects drafted from ready to wear. I have several patterns in my pattern stash from this technique. (It’s hard for me to pick a favorite Craftsy class, but Pattern Drafting from Ready-to-Wear is so great because of the versatility of the skills learned.) There’s a lounge pant drafted from Gap yoga pants blended with a lycra Nike workout pant, a hip-length boatneck tee with 3/4 sleeves from Loft, and long sleeve scoop neck tee from Loft.

I’ve had better success making garments from this type of pattern — vs. using one from the big pattern companies. I know the original fits, and I’m able to make some fit refinements when making the pattern.

Pants have proven tricky for me to get right. Not the construction, but the fit. I don’t have a basic pant block that fits yet, so each project is another learning experience in pants fitting. The learning continues with this pair.

Process notes

  • used black rib knit fabric
  • after constructing, went back and trimmed a bit off the inside seam at the crotch
  • the front and back leg lengths don’t match — need to research this more
  • used elastic instead of drawstring

Results

They’re not terrible, but there are definitely some fitting areas I want to address. The front rise is too long, and the legs are too wide. I wanted something a touch looser than the original yoga pant, but this was too far. And the waistband needs to be taken in more to achieve more of a slim fit. They hang pretty well in the back though.

If I can muster the patience, making a pants block that fits right would be an excellent step. Between One, Pattern Many Looks: Pants and this blog post about pants fitting, I could make real progress in this area.

funnel neck detail on Coco top

Pique Coco top with funnel neck and cuffs

Between Christmas and New Year’s, I took some time off of my Oxford Dogma making to indulge in some personal sewing. On my list were:

  1. a Coco top
  2. lounge pants
  3. long sleeve boatneck tee
  4. long sleeve scoop neck tee
  5. chambray button down shirt

First, my new Coco

Many months ago I bought some dark blue pique knit fabric, and have been wanting to make a Coco with it. This time with the funnel neck collar, 3/4 length sleeves, and cuffs (my Pinterest inspiration). And a good length for wearing with leggings.

navy pique Coco with funnel neck and cuffs

Process notes

  • funnel neck
  • 3/4 sleeve with cuff
  • lengthened 1 in. at lengthen/shorten line
  • used size 3, tapering to size 2 from waist down
  • used lightweight twill tape for shoulder stabilizing (next time: align 3/8 in. from cut edge on shoulder seams)
  • joining stitch: 75/11 stretch needle, with zig zag stitch set to 1.5 stitch width & 2.0 stitch length
  • top stitching: stretch twin needle, 3.5 stitch length

Results

So cute! I love the timeless yet mod look.  I like this longer sleeve better than the short sleeve on me — the short sleeve is more blunt and boxy, and the longer sleeve seems more graceful.

And as I was hoping, this Coco looks great with leggings and slim pants.

Piecy serger cover

piecy serger cover

Awhile back I accidentally ripped the plastic slip cover for my serger in half, and have been meaning to sew a new one. I just took my sewing machine in the shop for a tune-up, leaving me pining away for its return. I filled the void by finally making my poor coverless serger a new outfit.

Since I love finding good uses for fabric scraps I went that route. I used the serger to piece and my old backup sewing machine for construction. It made me miss my Babylock even more!

Simplicity 1202 woven cap sleeve blouse detail

Wardrobe Architect Project: Cap Sleeve Blouse

The final garment to sew for my Summer 2015 wardrobe project was going to be the Simplicity 1693 blouse in a blue-and-white striped fabric. But I took a detour after:

  1. reading that the sleeve on that top was rather voluminous
  2. re-watching the One Pattern, Many Looks: Blouses class and feeling inspired to draft my own custom design
  3. drafting my own  blouse from my sloper from that class, including cap sleeves
  4. sewing a muslin from said self-drafted pattern and getting totally stuck because the cap sleeves did NOT behave as I wanted (they were far too tight across my arm no matter what I did to try to remedy it)

So. I switched up my plan and instead went back to a commercial pattern. And I didn’t think that the raglan-style sleeve in that pattern would look very good with my original striped fabric choice (awkward things might happen where the angled sleeve joins the bodice), and instead subbed in a tissue-thin fabric of blue pinstripe plaid.

PATTERN

Simplicity 1202 cap sleeve blouse

Project features

  • raglan sleeves
  • keyhole opening with center back seam
  • baby French facing neckline finish

Process notes

  • skipped the muslin
  • made size 10, view A
  • replaced the facing instructions in the pattern with the baby French facing technique from Crafty’s Sewing on the Edge: Finishing Techniques class, with bias pieces cut 1 1/2 inches wide, joined, and folded in half
  • after trying the top on for fitting, took the underarm and side seam in by 1 inch (1/2 inch from each piece) and re-finished the seams/hems
  • removed the button tab because the neckline is large enough to fit without needing to unbutton it; stitched on a decorative button to hold the keyhole opening closed

Results

I just can’t win with sizing on commercial patterns! It’s becoming kind of a joke. This top is rather billowy on me, including arm holes that went down too low on my sides. I could have made the size 8.

Blue plaid woven cap sleeve blouse Simplicity 1202

Simplicity 1202 woven cap sleeve blouse

While I love the idea of pullover woven blouses, I’m struggling with them on my particular shape. My back sways in, and my hips and shoulders are the same measurements with my waist being smaller. By the time the top fits my hips and pulls over my shoulders, it’s gotten pretty boxy and isn’t flattering for my shape. I could belt this one, but I don’t like the way sitting with a belted top makes it puff out in front and pull at the back. I’m fussy that way.

Maybe shaping it along the back seam and side seams and adding a side zipper to pull it over my shoulders would help. Or that might just make a stiff, uncomfortable side seam. Not sure the solution, but I’m not quite ready to give up on casual woven tops all together.

I’m really happy with the construction (all of those School of Sewing projects paid off!). The baby French facing is a great technique, although I wish I had made the fabric 2 or 2 1/4 inches wide. It was really narrow by the time it was stitched to the neckline. After stretch pressing it I had to stretch it wider again so it wasn’t too narrow.

After sewing all of these garments I’m learning that I wear fabrics with stretch SO MUCH more happily than fabrics without stretch. Whether they’re stretch wovens, or knits, they’re more wearable in my life. I’d like to focus on those types of projects next.

Linen drawstring shorts copied from ready to wear

Wardrobe Architect Project: Linen Drawstring Shorts

My Summer 2015 wardrobe project originally include a chambray gathered skirt. But my test muslin was far from flattering, so I called an audible and switched it to a pair of linen shorts.

Linen drawstring shorts next to the original ready to wear pair
My linen shorts on the left, with the original off-the-rack knit pair on the right

PATTERN

I drafted my own pattern from a pair of knit drawstring shorts using the skills I learned in Steffani Lincecum’s fantastic Craftsy class Pattern Drafting from Ready-to-Wear.

Project features

  • self-drafted pattern
  • drawstring with casing
  • front patch pockets
  • bartacks

Process notes

  • traced the pattern pieces using Steffani’s techniques
  • before making the muslin, added to the side seams to accommodate a woven fabric (the original shorts are knit), and adjusted the shape of the crotch seam to be more like an “L” than a long shallow curve, based on Kathy Ruddy’s One Pattern, Many Looks: Pants class
  • after making the muslin, increased the length of the back center seam by raising the waistline at the center back and smoothing to the side seams to accommodate the shorter length between the legs (this was a problem I ran into on my olive ankle pants and didn’t realize it until I started wearing them and they rode down in back and pulled at the front when I sat down)
  • made the drawstring from lightweight chambray, double-folding and stitching down the length, making clean finishes at the ends (I use this clean-ends bag strap method all the time)
  • the single buttonhole for the drawstring didn’t work — the chambray strap didn’t slide when I tried to cinch it closed because the linen had no flexibility like the knit casing does — so after assembling the shorts I ended up cutting two slots next to the center buttonhole and dabbed some fray block on them (I’m not entirely optimistic that this will keep the holes from fraying though, but I wasn’t about to rip out the finished waist band and do it again)

Results

The construction went very well (except for that drawstring buttonhole) and I’m really happy with how they look. The fit is good, although they’re a little bit loose around my body and I didn’t need to add as much to the side seams as I did. When I cinch the drawstring around my waist, there’s a bit of extra bunching up with the fabric requiring some shuffling around to even things out. But they are comfy, which is one of my priorities.

Linen drawstring shorts copied from ready to wear Linen drawstring shorts copied from ready to wear

I love the pockets! The stitching came out nice and even, and they help add interest and functionality. Without them I think these shorts would be quite dull.

I want to try this pattern with knit fabric, too. Especially since the original pair I bought is starting to fray apart because I wear them so much.

Simplicity 1696 Olive Ankle Pants

Wardrobe Architect Project: Olive Ankle Pants

Next up for my Summer 2015 wardrobe project is sewing the olive ankle pants.

Pattern

Simplicity 1696 Amazing Fit Pants

Project features

  • front zip fly with bar tack
  • hook closure
  • mock welt pockets
  • waistline facing
  • 4-piece waistband for fitting
  • slip-stitched hem

Process notes

  • made size 12 average fit
  • made a fitting muslin, then took quite a bit off of the crotch/inseam on the pack piece and lowered the front waistline a little
  • used a 100% cotton twill (no stretch)
  • omitted front pockets
  • omitted carriers (belt loops)
  • finished waistband facing with serger instead of bias binding

Results

I’m so glad I started with a fitting muslin on these pants, because it would have been really frustrating to make all of the changes necessary on the final fabric. On my first muslin there was a lot of fabric pooling under the “bum” as Kathy Ruddy puts it. I’m also really glad I had One Pattern, Many Looks: Pants to guide me through fitting. Even though it’s not a pants fitting class, Kathy provides excellent information on getting pants to fit well. I was able to use her instruction for seat fullness adjustments and for the crescent leg adjustment at the thigh. The pattern instructions for fine-tuning the fit would not have gotten me the fit I was after (or the fitted look as described on the pattern).

At a certain point I had to accept that this project was going to be slow-going. After spending pretty much a whole weekend on fit, it took me a couple of weeks to get through the final construction, sewn in little bits here and there. In the end, it was probably good to go slow because if I’d tried to power through making this pattern for the first time it could have led to frustration and exhaustion. Or a half-made-pants bonfire in the back yard.

I’m super happy with the final construction. Since I didn’t rush, stitching is clean and even, even where I had to stitch in the ditch around the waistband. The front zip fly took me a LONG time to get through, but it’s my first and it turned out well so I can’t complain. However, it’s awkward to zip them up using my left hand — the fly overlaps from right to left, but I apparently prefer pants that overlap from left to right.

Simplicity 1696 Olive Ankle Pants waistband and fly

 

Simplicity 1696 Olive Ankle Pants mock welt pockets
I sure hope those needle marks in the center back come out after washing…

My hope is that these pants soften and mold to my body over time. Right now they’re heavier and stiffer that I’d like or am used to. I really like pants with stretch, but I wanted to experiment with this twill to see how it went.

Adjustments for next time:

  • switch fly from right to left
  • lengthen the crotch depth on the back piece
  • use the lightweight stretch denim in my fabric stash
  • use a softer cotton for the waistband facing
  • continue fiddling with the fit of the back upper thigh area
  • finish the raw edges of the mock welt pocket flap

I’m also considering what it would take to turn this into my pants block, and using the fly installation technique from One Pattern. Many Looks: Pants.

City Gym Shorts in Chambray Double Cloth

Wardrobe Architect Project: City Gym Shorts

Since it’s ultra-hot here, the next priority for my Summer 2015 wardrobe project is sewing the City Gym Shorts.

Pattern

City Gym Shorts from the Purl Bee

Project features

  • bias binding
  • elastic waist

Process notes

  • made the 35–37-inch hip size
  • used Robert Kaufman Double Cloth in chambray and plaid
  • made the double fold bias tape by hand instead of with the 18mm bias tape maker
  • used 1-inch knit elastic instead of braided elastic
  • separated the double cloth and only used the plaid piece for the binding and waistband

Results

City Gym Shorts in Chambray Double ClothThis is such a fun, retro pair of shorts to wear — I can definitely see making another pair of these. The waistband is a few inches below the natural waistline, making them fall in the perfect place for me. And I was nervous about making the 35-37 size because my hip measurement is actually 37 1/2, but they fit great with no pattern adjustments.