Monday, October 24, 2016

Wide Shoulder Adjustment

I feel a bit scatter brained...I've been working on several projects I haven't finished, am just not ready to share, or haven't taken decent pictures yet.  But I thought I'd share a part of what I've been working on.

Wide Shoulder Adjustments.

My shoulders seem to be wider than the average woman, at least for the average woman clothing companies and pattern designers draft for.  So I'm learning to alter the patterns I sew with to fit me correctly.

I first attempted this kind of adjustment when I tested the Wardrobe Builder Tee back in January.  You can read about it here.  All I did was extend the shoulder seam the desired amount and then kind of trace in a new armcye, tapering to the original armcye somewhere in the middle.  Just eyeballing where it looked good.  The shoulder seam hit me in the correct place but then created a boxy shape that would stay until I tugged on my shirt.  I wasn't sure if this was caused by my fabric selection, the pattern, or the adjustments I made.  But I for sure didn't know how to fix it.  

Okay, I was pretty sure it wasn't the pattern design because I trust Christina's drafting and none of the other testers seemed to have this problem.  But when I tested the Telluride I didn't have any problems. 

Now I'm trying out a different pattern from a different designer.  (I'll share more about it another day.)  It needed an adjustmeant as well but I've used a slightly more sophisticated method to do basically the same thing as before.  (I followed this tutorial.) It took way more time because I read and read and read about how to do it and then analyzed and then fretted if I was doing it wrong (I still hate to waste fabric...).  But I'll probably do the same thing in the future because I feel like it is more precise.

Ignore the million pencil lines.  I was also comparing and altering the shape of the armcye.

Just like before, the WSA brought the shoulders out (they may need to come out a bit more even...) but made this annoying box thing in the shoulders.

What I also noticed was that most of the problems seemed to be in the back part of the sleeve.  So I took the sleeves out, trimmed 1/2"-3/4" off the sleeve cap height and then changed the sleeve shape from cut on the fold to asymmetrical.  The front part of the sleeve has a steeper slope than the back part.  I also created more hook in the underarm area of the sleeve.  

When I put the sleeves pack on they looked MUCH better.  

They still aren't perfect (they still make a small box thing when I lift my arms-but then lay back down by themselves.  And yes-the stitches are visible because my tension was messed up)  At least now I feel like I can wear this shirt without being annoyed at the sleeves all day!  

I feel like my WSA also needs a shorter and asymmetrical sleeve cap adjustment.  My material may still be a factor because the navy is a sturdy knit with strong recovery.  Probably a ponte but I bought it last Thanksgiving and am just sewing with it, so I don't remember for sure.  I'll be doing this again the next time I make a shirt and will post any new thoughts or discoveries I have.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Winter Sunday Dress

Nut #2 needed a new Sunday dress-the one I made at Easter time was too short and the lace was ripping. (I never took nice pictures of it) But with craziness going on I just keep putting off sewing a new dress since it wasn't essential.

And then two things happened to push it to the front of my list.

We had a cold snap and she needed a warmer dress.

She got sidewalk chalk on her dress and it was the cheap stuff from Wal-Mart so the chalk wouldn't wash out.

Really, it was the sidewalk chalk that got me moving...

The dress turned out slightly different than my original idea, but that's because I had to alter it for the fabric.  Nut #2 picked out the blue fabric instead of pink!  I'm so use to her being obsessed with pink-it seems her tastes are changing as she grows up.  *sniff*

Gotta love the poses she comes up with...:)

So, details of the dress...I used what is becoming a go-to t-shirt pattern for the top (I'm working on a review of the pattern I used).  I shortened the t-shirt to an empire waist and curved the bottom of the shirt upwards to compensate for the weight of the blue fabric.  The blue fabric is a double knit and significantly heavier-especially because of the length of the dress.  (Anyone else have a daughter who thinks elegant=long?)  And instead of gathering the skirt I decided to make large pleats.  The skirt is just a rectangle sewed together at the short ends, and then pleated to fit the shirt top.  The black sash it to help cinch the dress a bit and help hold the weight of the skirt.

Nut#2 is happy with the dress and feels warm in it.  Getting her to willingly wear something is huge because she is soooo picky! We are both happy with the length because having a long skirt also helps her keep her skirt down at church!  Sometimes when I see her in this dress I feel like she should be going to a choir concert...she's growing up!


Sunday, October 16, 2016

New Name, Same Sewing

Welcome to 

Hazelnut Handmade

Last year when I started sending some items to sell in my aunt's home decor shop, I started re-evaluating the name of my blog and Etsy shop.  And I decided I needed a change.

Now I realize most people won't care why I decided to change, but I'm kinda wordy so I'll explain it anyways.  As a compromise, I'll just list what the new name says about me or means to me.

My children-(we call our youngest Nut or Nut-Nut)
Making things myself
Delicious chocolate flavor
Little bit modern
Little bit traditional
Little bit Sophisticated
Little bit Whimsy (cause I do have kids)

So what will be on the blog?  Sewing, the occasional recipe, pattern reviews (at least thoughts on them), Etsy shop listings (which is open again), non-sewing projects that turn out, and learning to sew and fit garments expertly.  

Well, that's it! I'm excited to be back.  See you later alligator!  

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

My Sewing Machine is Calling...

I know I already said way back in April that life was crazier than usual because we were getting our house ready to sell and all that.  I thought it would all kinda calm down by July and I could start sewing and posting projects again. 

Well, here it is September and I still don't feel like I have the luxury of sewing quite yet.  Actually, I was starting to feel like I could sew, did a pattern test, tried a new pattern, planned and set out several more, and then everything took an extremely unexpected turn and we ended up moving to a new apartment.  Second one this summer.  And then kids started school and it was about all I could do to send them to school with essential school supplies. 

But I feel like I see the light at the end of the tunnel.  Just about everything in the house has a home.  I'm making regular meals.  I should be able to start washing clothes normally by Monday (haven't had a dryer for most of the summer and have been channeling my inner pioneer to get laundry done).  The kids have shoes, backpacks, supplies, new socks and are getting to and from school everyday.  

I hear my sewing machine calling me during nap time as I try to check off my to do list.  

It's coming.  Soon.  And it's gonna feel great!

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Pattern Test: Wardrobe Builder Tee

Okay, life has been crazy in the past couple months.  We have to move to continue my husband's training (on to fellowship!) so we have been prepping our house to sell, navigating offers, counter offers, inspections, finding a place to live in our new location, and on and so forth.  I've had my head down getting it all figured out and never even blogged about projects I finished up right before the chaos started.  But I'm starting to surface now that all of that stuff is getting resolved and figured out.

I tested the Wardrobe Builder Tee from Wardrobe by Me.  I've been wanting a versatile well drafted pattern for T-shirts to make my own shirts.  I completed three versions after making two muslins.  I made size 4 even though my measurements suggested I blend a 4 and 6.

The pattern has just about every option you would want for a basic wardrobe.  5 necklines (crew, scoop, deep scoop, boat, and v-neck), 5 sleeve lengths (cap, short, half, 3/4, and long-but you could also make it sleeveless which some testers did), 3 length options (regular, extra length, and curved), as well as a ruching option.  

Both of the shirts I made were long sleeve since it was winter here.  I loved the length of the sleeve.  It was just right for me.  I also really liked the regular length for the shirt.  The extra length was too much for me and I didn't try out the curved hem.  And I made the regular scoop neck for all of my shirts and really like where those hit.  I'm not sure the deep scoop or the v-neck are right for me (I'm not comfortable showing cleavage), but I can see myself adjusting them to be a bit more conservative for my taste.

What I'm not so sure about is the fit of the shoulders, under arms, and neckline.  The shoulders were too narrow for my broad shoulders, I seemed to get some wrinkles under the arm into the bust, and the neck band has some slight pulling on two of my versions. The neckline on my muslins were fine.  My actual shirts were made out of 2 way stretch ponte, a clearance find that looked like jacquard, and some interlock with no recovery layered with a stretch lace.  The first two materials were both thicker, stiffer, knits with strong recovery.  I think the slight pulling along the neckline in those versions is because of those materials. 

I tried making an adjustment for wide shoulders by extending the seam on the top of the shoulders out by 1.25 inches and adjusting the armscye.  That adjustment helped the sleeve to hit at an appropriate place on my shoulder, but then the seam where the sleeve attaches started poking up, making a funny box look.  And I sometimes get some wrinkles under my armpits after lifting my arms up.

I plan to make another version or two with this pattern to see if my material choice can solve some of those puckering/wrinkling problems and to see if I can figure out how to get that width in the shoulders without making the shoulder seam look weird.  Since I haven't been able to get to that yet (painting, decluttering, paring down my workspace to the bare essentials...) I haven't really formed my opinion of the pattern.  Maybe not as helpful of a post without a clear yes or no to the pattern, but I want to get all this information out before I forgot it all.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Pattern Review: Gabriella's Winter Coat

2 months ago I tested a pattern for Bella Sunshine Designs called Gabriella's Winter Coat.  (Click here to see that post.) I shared a bubblegum pink jean jacket I sewed up during testing.  Unfortunately, my machine broke in the middle of sewing up a second version of the coat.  (Apparently, I use my machine more than it was intended to be used for.)

Now my machine is back and I finally got to finish this coat.  My material is a wool blend of some sort and has metallic threads woven through.  I'm really not very good at paying attention to what fabric I buy.  I bought this stuff because it was so pretty!  It is quite stiff, but is thick and warm.  At least I think it is warm.  Wish I could fit into it...

I took out about 10 inches of the flounce in the back of the coat.  With how stiff this fabric is I think I would have been happier with about 5-10 more inches taken out.  Despite my personal debate about the flounce I get so many compliments on the coat everywhere I go!  I admit to telling people who compliment the coat that I made it because it looks so good how else would they know!  (wink) Honestly, it's really satisfying taking credit for this coat especially because it was so thick to sew and my machine was throwing all sorts of fits.  (It just does not seem to be back to it's old self after having broken and been fixed.  It's just more temperamental.  Boo.)  The button holes were especially troublesome because of the thickness of the fabric.  And I could not sew the buttons on with my machine.  It made all sorts of snarls.  So I had to sew them on by hand.  (I know...not all that terrible.  It just seems like an indicator of who temperamental the machine is now that it won't even sew a simple button on when there are thick layers underneath.)  I also added half an inch or so to the sleeves (It's getting hard to remember what I did!) in the hopes that just maybe she will be able to wear it again next.  I know that is a bit wishful with how kids grow...

Pigg#4 is not very happy in these pictures.  It was VERY cold and windy when we took them and she acted like she couldn't move in the snow.  But I was very ready for this project to be finished and checked off my list after mulling over it for 2 months so we shot a few quick pictures anyways and are calling it good.

After making a second coat, I can say I definitely like the pattern.  The instructions are well written and the finishing is complete.  I can't think of anything I would have done differently as far as techniques.  (Of course I did help with the testing, had never done a coat before, and I am definitely still learning--but everything seems like professional techniques and finishing to me)  The pattern has a glossary to explain all the technical terms it uses which also describes how to execute the techniques those terms refer to.  I couldn't bear to make her open the jacket to show the lining, but it's completely lined in a plum taffeta.  It also has invisible pockets sewn into the side seams.  She never uses them, but and older child would certainly put their cold hands in.

A few general notes about the pattern...the pattern has layers, so you can print out just the size you want, but is not trimless.  The instructions include illustrations, not full-color photos.  The instructions include a tutorial for blending sizes, as a finished garment size chart, and a yardage chart.  The pattern does not include a suggested layout for cutting out your fabric and has pattern pieces for rectangular pieces (which I thought was smart considering how many pieces there are to this coat!)

One thing I don't love (and this seems to be just how Bella Sunshine Designs do their pieces) is that the pattern pieces don't always meet up just right throughout the entire seam allowance.  Sometimes, especially at shoulder seams by the neck edge, the pieces meet up perfectly right where you sew, but not right at the edge of the fabric.  That bugs me because I feel like I'm not sewing accurately and it made the princess seams slightly more challenging.  But the pieces do fit together almost perfectly right where you sew.

My one last comment is just about fabric.  As I mentioned earlier, this second coat was much thicker and stiffer than the pink denim from my first coat.  I learned that many machines have the capability of changing the pressure on the pressure foot to accommodate for thicker fabrics.  Look at your own machine for that feature because it helps.  However, machines can only adjust so much so keep that in mind when selecting your fabric.   I actually couldn't fishing the topstitching at the the neckline because the fabric was just so thick!  (I was also using a cheap little loaner machine from the place fixing my machine and didn't want to risk messing up their machine)  You can't tell that 5 or so inches didn't get topstitched so I'm calling it good.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Pattern Test and Review: Autumn Grace with Expansion Pack

I've been slowly taking shirts out of my daughter's closet as the sleeves get too short and as I was doing that this week, I wondered what my daughter's favorite shirt was.  So I asked.  Without hesitation, she said this one.  

It's made of fleece and is very warm.  If it looks similar to this dress I made a few month ago, it's because this new tunic is made from the Autumn Grace Expansion Pack!  Now when you buy the Autumn Grace Dress, it has dress and tunic lengths, long sleeves and jumper (sleeveless), pockets, a regular neckline, cowl neck, and a hood.

Before I tell more about the expansion, I'm going to just say some things I really like about the Autumn Grace.  

The style of the dress really appeals to my daughter.  She likes to be girly and wear dresses and she likes that you can see the flare of the dress really clearly.  I also love that it is fleece.  The weather is currently cold where we live and even inside our house I feel cold because I'm trying to keep the electricity bill low by keeping the thermostat fairly low.  

So.  On to a review of the expansion pack.  Some of the expansions are not as value added as others.  The tunic length and the sleeveless options are easily reproduced by hacking the original pattern.  It is nice to already have the length figured out though...

I find the other options a great addition to the pattern. 

 The pockets are a new-to-me technique using the front of the shirt/dress as one of the sides of the pocket.  And while you can fairly easily hack patterns to put in your own pockets, it's nice to have the sizes and positions already figured out for you.  Plus, I'd never done pockets this way before and it can create some fun stitching on the front of the dress.  One of the testers even made raccoons out of the pockets!  It's absolutely adorable!

The cowl neck is actually what makes this my daughter's favorite shirt.  When I was pitching the idea of this shirt to her and getting her option about what options to test, I described the cowl as a scarf attached to her shirt.  And she loves it.  I used Ultra Comfy fabric from Joann's for the cowl so it is just about as snuggly as you can get.  If Pigg#3 were wearing the shirt, he'd be in heaven and probably never ever take it off!  This cowl doesn't lay quite as well as I would like.  It likes to ride up and become tall.  However, it also was not made from the finalized pattern.  That's how it goes in sew the pattern, tweak it, sew sew up the new version, repeat, until the designer gets consistency through the sizes and the fit they are looking for.  The final pattern should lay better but still be a fairly thick cowl.  Pigg#2 likes the height of the cowl because it keeps her neck warm.  I also used Heidi's twisting technique when making the cowl.

The last option is a hood.  I did not test that option but it looks really fun.  I was torn between testing the cowl and hood, but Pigg#2 voted for the 'scarf' so I went with that.  I will probably sew up more of these until some day in the future when we move to a warmer climate.  I just love knowing my kids are warm!