Friday, November 25, 2016

Pattern Test: Maggie Knit Top and Dress

Happy Thanksgiving!  Hope everyone has enjoyed time with family and friends and been able to do a bit of reflecting on the good things in your lives.  Top in my list are my husband, my kids, my faith, and my sewing machine.

That last one was a bit tongue in cheek, but I am grateful to be able to sew-for the challenge and satisfaction I get from tackling and completing a project.  And seeing those projects be used and loved!

Anyways...time for another pattern test!  A slim fit knit top, tunic, and dress.

I decided I wanted to test this pattern even though I kind of have a go-to t-shirt pattern because I thought some comparison might do me good.  

The Maggie top doesn't have many bells and whistles, but is a solid pattern.  I helped in the pre-testing phase as well as the testing phase.  Here are some specs about the pattern.

Pattern: Maggie Knit Top and Dress
Designer: Bellan Sunshine Designs
Style: Slim fit t-shirt
Fabric: Knit (Doodles collection from a year ago)
Size Range: 6 mo.-12
Size made: 5 blended to 6 for length
Lengths: 3 (shirt, tunic, dress) shirt length pictured
Sleeve lengths: 3 (short, 3/4, long) long sleeve pictured
Sleeves cut on Fold: yes
Alterations/Hacks: No
Clear Instructions: Easy to follow with illustrations
Seam Allowance: 3/8"
Layers: yes
Trimless: No

I really like Bella Sunshine Design patterns.  Melissa Pendergast (the designer) really tries to get a good fit and is very open to feedback.  Melissa's design aesthetic is vintage/retro-modern.  Which translates into dress hems hitting slightly above the knee.  I did not make the dress option, but know that is where it is intended to hit.

This shirt fits and is drafted well.  Hems have angles accounting for folding up and seams match up.  Shoulder seams at the neckline are not trued which generally gets evened out when you put on the binding-but is a personal pet peeve of mine.  I have not printed out the final pattern but in testing I felt like the neckline needed to a bit higher and more trued (if that's how to say it-approach the fold at perpendicular angle for longer to create less of a 'v' and more of a rounded neckline)  I'm not sure if that feedback was incorporated into the final pattern but are easy for me to adjust on my own for my personal preferences.

All-in-all, a solid pattern I plan to use over and over again!  It may become by go-to for a basic t instead of the Hibernis Cowl Shirt because of the slim fit-which I like for my girls.  Time will tell...

Monday, November 21, 2016

Pattern Test: Deer Creek Tunic and Dress

I finally got to test another pattern for Terra of New Horizons!  (She changed her name from Terra's Treasures since I last tested for her.)  As I anticipated, this pattern is really well put together.

Specs for this pattern

Pattern:Deer Creek Tunic and Dress
Designer: New Horizons
Style: Dolman style top 
Fabric: light to medium weight knit-I used lightweight jersey
Size Range: 6 mo.-16
Size made: 6
Top Lengths: 3-Tunic (curved hem), dress (curved hem), dress (straight hem)
Sleeve lengths:3-short, long, and 3/4
Sleeves cut on Fold: technically no, because the pattern piece is flat, but yes the front and back are the   same shape-it's a dolman...
Alterations/hacks: no
Clear Instructions: Instructions were not complete during testing so I can't fully comment.  
Seam Allowance: 3/8"
Layers: yes
Trimless: yes
Sew Again: Yes!
Recommend: Yes

There are notches for matching up pieces correctly.  The pieces all fit together perfectly.  The techniques are good-and taught me something new.  I don't love sewing curved hems, but I learned a trick that helped it come out pretty well!

But my favorite thing is the style of this tunic-easy and comfortable but has some shape.  I bought this fabric intending to make a dolman for me out if it and then saw the test for this.  I decided to use it for the pattern test and make one for myself in the size 16 (cause I'm really close to the measurements and thought this would be forgiving.)  Unfortunately, matching up the stripes didn't allow for me to cut out a top for me too.  Boo.  But I did use the rest to make myself a scarf.  I should share that...

Nut#2 probably won't be wearing this until summer because of how lightweight the fabric is.  Hopefully she will still fit because I think it is adorable!  I can't wait to make my own!  There is a coordinating women's pattern, but if I can fit into the 16 why buy another pattern?  :)

Monday, November 14, 2016

Pattern Test: Slim Fit Pants

Back in July when I thought my life had calmed down I signed up to test a pants pattern from Wardrobe By Me.  Christina knows what she is doing with the whole pattern drafting thing and I enjoy testing for her.  

But man, pants are tough.  And then I cut out a size too small for my muslin (palm to forehead) making it even harder for me to fit the pants right.

I finished the pants and took pictures but never shared them here because I just didn't feel completely satisfied with them.  Not because of the drafting.  I trust that is done right and Christina always uses excellent techniques (this in not a beginner pattern although well written so you can be successful if you know how to read patterns).  My problem came with my own ability to fit pants.  I wanted to be able to share and write a review of the pattern when I could feel like I could do it justice and show it is a great pattern-because I want it to be and I believe in Christina's patterns.

I thought, "I'll make another pair after the test is over and can make a few more changes for fit and then share the awesome pants I made."  

Cue chaos and I dropped the ball.

I still have not returned to the pattern and got the fit down.  I've been reading about fitting pants.  And making pants for my picky daughter trying to cloth her for school without half an hour of changing pants every morning.  (which I am getting close to achieving....)

But I just need to share what I've got because I'm forgetting what I did to get this far with the pattern.

I bring you-Slim Fit Pants-kinda a cross between skinnies and chinos.  Think Audrey Hepburn.  Although mine look less sleek and more wrinkly than hers.

I used a stretch denim from the Doodles line at Joanns.  It has 2% spandex instead of the recommended 3-5% spandex.  I cut a size 6 graded to 8 in the waist and calves-and then let out a bit more because I've got great calves. :) Turns out I didn't need that room in the waist-a 6 would have been great because the pants feel like they slide down.  I lowered the front rise by 1 inch, the sides by 5/8 inch, and the back by 1/2 inch.  I think I also lowered the knee a bit.

I'm going to try again one of these days and get them looking and feeling perfect-cause they are pretty good right now.  But what's the point of sewing my own clothes if I can't make them fit just the way I want?  

Friday, November 4, 2016

Hibernis Cowl Shirt Review

When the Hibernis Cowl Shirt by Sofilantjes was released at the beginning of this year, I bought it-despite the fact that I hadn't sewn up any of the patterns I bought during Black Friday sales.  (I blame the Broken Sewing Machine, pattern tests, and house selling...)  I bought it because I thought the pockets were so unique and interesting, I liked the princess seam blocking, and I wanted another cowl pattern to compare to the cowl of the Autumn Grace pattern I tested.  And also because the designer ran a contest with the chance of willing back the money I spend purchasing the pattern.  All I had to do was sew it up and post it in the designer's Facebook group.  I did not win the contest but it totally motivated me to print out the pattern and sew up some shirts.

Since then, I have sewn this pattern or used it as a base for a project 7 times!

First I made a shirt for each of my girls for that contest.  One is a straight size 18 month and one is a blend of two sizes.  Now I can't remember which ones...4 width and 5 height.  I wanted to see how well the fit of the shirt is when blended.  I blended within the sleeve cap so I ended up with the height of a 5 but the width of a 4 and then followed the sleeve down tot he length of a 5.  It worked well!

I was really happy with both of the shirts I made and my girls wore them all winter willingly, even choosing to wear them.  (This is big for my picky girls).  I really felt like the fit was really good.  Not baggy or too tight.  I like the look of the bands on the bottom, but felt like it made the shirts ride up the girls all the time and we were constantly pulling the shirts down.  

I also loved the unique pockets within the princess seam sides.  I did just the bigger pocket and it was a win especially for Nut-Nut.  She was always sticking her hands in those.  I also did the princess seam blocking.  The pattern is very well suited for repurposing and using up scraps because of the color blocking princess seams.  So the shirts I made are repurposed from other shirts and coordinate without matching completely.

Next I used the pattern for the top of their Easter Dresses.  They both like the dresses, especially Nut#2.  She wore it all summer until she stained it with sidewalk chalk.  I took at picture of Nut-Nuts so you could get an idea of what they looked like.  Nut#2's didn't have the band around the front.

Again, the fit was good.  I used the same sizes, but didn't do the princess seam color blocking and shortened them to waist where I added two layers of a 1/2 circle skirt. Because of stretching along the grain from the knits (and that I never hemmed it in my haste-I decided to make them the day or two before Easter) the back stretched longer than the front but it didn't bug me too much.  Kinda like a hi-low hem.

Next I used the pattern as the base for Nut#2's Winter Sunday Dress, which I already blogged about.

Then I made a shirt for Nut#2 using the princess seam blocking and doing the detachable cowl.  Nut#2 liked the cowl, but more as a head scarf than as a cowl.  She wore it school, took off the cowl and had the tabs flapping all around, and then got paint all over the sleeves.  :( I haven't gotten the paint out yet so I'm glad I quickly took some pictures before she left for school that day.  The cowl is cute, but it would be cuter if she left it on the shirt.

Most recently, I used this pattern for the shirts for Nut#3 and Nut-Nut's Halloween costumes this year.  Nut-Nut's is the plain shirt in the 18 month size (that size is getting a bit snug, but for pajamas I thought it would be okay) with some details sewn directly onto the shirt to make it more like the Pokemon Purrloin and 3 inches added to the hems.  I like our shirts long (to cover bellies and allow for growth).  Nut#3's is a 3T width with 5T length adjusted at the neckline to be more like a crew neckline than a scoop neckline.  The pattern is meant for girls, and while that doesn't really matter too much at this age, I felt like a crew neck would be more appropriate for my son.  I brought the neck up about .5-.75 inches and in at the shoulders around .5 inches.  It looks pretty consistent with how Nut-Nut's looks now so perhaps there is a small inconsistency in the grading between sizes.

Overall, I really like this pattern and it is becoming a go-to pattern for me!  It probably has flaws, but the seams match up really well especially at the neckline and at the princess seams.  It's really easy to see how the pieces go together.

Here's a cool bonus to the pattern instructions-the very end has the instructions in just graphics.  So if you're really comfortable sewing or just sewing this pattern, you can just look at one page for the order of sewing stuff together instead of scrolling through all the instructions.  I see this coming in really handy as a quick reference.

Pattern Description: Hibernis Cowl Shirt -Sofilantjes

Pattern sizing: 12 mo.-14 years.  I made a rage of 18 mo, 4 width and 5 height, 3 width 5 height

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern when you were finished sewing? Yes

Were the instructions complete and easy to follow? Yes

Fabric used: Cotton lyra knit, cotton interlock knit

Did you alter the pattern in any way? Lengthened and left off waistbands and cuff for Halloween Costumes, Shortened for making dresses

Was there anything you disliked or would change? No

Would you sew it again? Absolutely

Would you recommend it to others? Yes

Do you consider the pattern beginner/intermediate/advanced? Beginner

Shirts/dresses: Were the sleeves cut on the on the fold? yes

Pants: Do the front and back have separate rises? N/A

Does the pattern include layers for easy printing? Yes

Seam allowance used in the pattern 3/8"

Is the pattern cut or no cut pages? Trimless

Monday, October 31, 2016

Halloween 2016

Two years ago my family had epic Halloween costumes.  Everyone had a costume, they were all themed (pokemon), and some of us even sprayed our hair different colors.

It was awesome.

And I didn't take a single picture.  Even though we won a prize for best costumes at a party.  Lame.

Nut#1 still loves Pokemon and is wearing his Ash costume for the third year in a row.  (Sweet! His costume was already done.)  Pigg#3 has followed his brother's lead and wore the same Pikachu costume two years in a row.  But this year he decided to branch out to a different pokemon and picked Oshawott.  (good thing-parts of his Pikachu costume was getting small.)

Never heard of that pokemon?  Me neither.  I had to google it.  Every day.  And then Nut-Nut named a bunch of different pokemon and I decided she would be Purrloin.  Because otherwise I'd be trying to create a flower looking pokemon and I just didn't want to put THAT much effort into the costume.

Plus, I really wanted these costumes to become pajamas after Halloween.  And the hats can be used during the time of the year when all warmth and sunshine flee leaving me to hibernate like a groundhog (sewing to keep sanity) until I can see my shadow and my fingers don't freeze if I sit still longer than 5 minutes.  (hint-that's WINTER and it lasts WAY too long in my neck of the woods)

So, here are Pokemon inspired Halloween costumes/pajamas.  They are happy, I am happy, and I think their ears will stay warm.  :)

I'll talk more about the specific patterns used for the pants and shirts in other posts.  Their tails have pipe cleaners sewn in to help give shape.  Nut#3's also has batting sandwiched between the outsides and Nut-Nut's has stuffing in it.  Hopefully the tails hold up in the wash-Nut#3's ended up long, so it may fit him next year too...

Oh and in case you are curious, Nut#2 is using a dress-up dress she received when she turned 4 as her costume.  We call it a Cinderella dress.  She was never really into her Misty costume that epic year and only wore it for the party.  She selected a different dress-up for Halloween night. 

Happy Halloween! 

Friday, October 28, 2016

Clothing and Quilting Labels!

Eeek!  I've been wanting to make labels to put on my creations for a couple years and I've finally printed some and started using them.  

Although, I'm not use to having them and keep forgetting to put them in!  :)

I used a couple tutorials for making labels through Spoonflower.  The idea is you create your own print (used Photoshop), upload it to, select what type of fabric you want it printed on and the size, then order!

I'm really pleased with the colors and resolution!  The sizes are just about right, maybe a little tweaking.  I ordered a fat quarter to make sure the labels were just what I wanted before printing a whole yard and getting 300+ labels!  

I've tried out all of the types I made at least once.  We'll see which ones I end up using most!  I used one of the labels I intended for Quilts on the outside of a waistband.  Perhaps it will be useful in clothing as well!

Halloween costumes are finished, finally!  I'll hopefully share those by Monday...nothing like procrastinating...

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.