Tuesday, November 12, 2013

My I miss Portland dress

Got the Anna Dress pattern in the mail from By Hand London for my birthday in September. I'm also completely in love with the Waterfront Park fabric series from Violet Craft.
And furthermore, how can so many days of sunshine feel so oppressive? But I'm just aching for Portland, I see pictures of rain and I want to crawl inside them. Even the dirty creek in Meadow Park makes me wistful. I love you San Luis Obispo, but I'm going to cheat on you with Portland.
I won't be back there until Christmas, which is so soon, but does NOT feel soon enough. It's just over a month and between now and then there are birthday parties and camping trip parties and costume parties and cornhole tournament parties. It's party season. But all I want is rain. The fall leaves are nice though.
Everyone in the blog-world has been making and raving about this dress, I don't have anything different to say. It is truly fantastic. And fast! I made a 12, probably could've gotten away with a 10, as I ended up taking the back in, and could do so more if I wanted to. And the neck is a bit gaping. But, it actually feels a lot like what I wore in high school, with combat boots, and a flannel tied around my waist (yep, for reals). It feels very homey. Like Portland. I'm even wearing my glasses! Which I haven't done since the 90s!
Notice the card behind me in the shape of Oregon!

I'm standing on my neighbor's porch because she has a nicer front door!

Still a little big in the back

The only other alteration I did was to put the zipper in the side seam because last weekend I crashed my bike in the cross race and I still can't maneuver my right arm to zip up the back. But it works just fine.
I could probably make a million more of this dress. I do love it.
Also, in spite of the fabric being from Portland, I actually bought it at Picking Daisies. It's a great store, check these women out!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Another type of sewing project

I usually stick with sewing clothing for myself because that is what I like to do. But recently I got to do a little industrial sewing project! SLO Nexus is a local bike racing team/club and this weekend they (we?) are putting on a cyclocross race at El Chorro Regional Park. Someone had the great idea that we should make musettes for the prize packages. So that is what we did. We made 204 musette bags at SLO Sail and Canvas. Then we screen printed them. Here's some pictures:
cutting large sheets of nylon

the scene from above

this machine cuts the fabric into the bag shape!

sewing machines in the floor

so the floor is the work table

204 of those!

and the final product!
We managed to get all the bags made in one night with 4 people on sewing machines and several others helping with cutting, tacking the straps, taking photos (thanks Garrett!) and prepping to do screen printing (which happened on a different night). Here's a shot of that endeavor:
and 203 more of the final product!

Another bike-racing related sewing project that I did recently: 6 capes! We wore these at the 24 hours of Chamberlain race last weekend. Making 6 capes was so much faster and easier than making 200 musettes! And I probably repeated that exact sentence 7 times while we were making them.
Shiny capes for team ponies!

Chenin models the cape in action!

So, that's this turns out to be a post about the convergence of two of my favorite things: sewing and riding bicycles. But I guess I would add to that list of favorite things: group projects and friends.

All good stuff!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Birthday Dress

Birthday Torture, really.
This was a "fairly simple" remake of the Cambie, which I absolutely love. As far as sizing goes, I made it a straight 10 this time, since last time I ended up taking up the difference where I graded it to a size 12. This worked pretty well. This didn't take care of the issue of the bodice being too long or that the bust was a little big, but that is an easy fix by adjusting the front sleeves into the bodice. (maybe next time I'll try an 8 in the bust? Or try shortening it?)
The smile doesn't capture the torture very well
The torture was actually associated with the fabric. I love how the fabric looks. love love love it. It's some kind of woven natural fiber. Maybe wool. I bought it at Betty's, it was on clearance so it doesn't have any real info on it. I got it several months ago and all along I knew I wanted to make the Cambie with it, but it took me awhile to get up the nerve. See, I pretty much only ever sew with cotton. Predictable, predictable cotton. Oh how much easier it probably is to match plaids with cotton.
Anyway. I did it. I only had to re-cut the front bodice, one side of the back bodice, a pocket (twice) and one sleeve front. Thank goodness I bought a ton of the fabric.
I'd like to take the full blame on this being an epic struggle, but I'm going to have to hold the fabric itself partially accountable. It really didn't resemble 90 degree angles. As much as I tugged on it, I really couldn't get it to behave. But, you know what? It's done. I'm not looking back. Plus I got to watch hours and hours and hours of Charmed on Netflix (don't judge me. or do. whatever.).
The idea here is that I wanted to make a nice Fall dress for myself to wear on my birthday. Which is at the end of September. THE FALL. But San Luis Obispo doesn't understand what Fall means and insists on being 91 degrees. I don't care. I'm wore it anyway. It's about 65 degrees in my office anyway. And the evenings are cool enough.
It doesn't line up? I'm kinda over it
Oh! also, my sister sent me a fantastic king size 100% pima cotton sheet. You know what feels really nice on skin? Sheets! I lined this dress with it.

boob shot!
In my mind, I was going to make this dress without the sweetheart neckline, but I'm glad I made it the way I did. I think the darts+neckline make a really nice shape.

This is now my favorite work dress and I think I wear it once a week, so I guess it was worth the torture.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Mid-Century Luau

It's kind of nice to go out on the town one more time before all the college students come back, so a friend organized a pub crawl. The theme was mid-century luau. I was inspired by this post on Coletterie. I was also inspired by this gorgeous jewelry box that I inherited from my Grandma last winter.
This picture does not do it justice. It is gorgeous.

Because I wanted a simple project, I went with the Amy Butler "cabo halter" (which I just tried to link to but it's not on the Amy Butler website, maybe it's not being made anymore?), I've made it so many times now it only takes a few hours. I wanted more of the full skirt style of the era, so I used the Sewaholic "cambie" full skirt, which is just lovely. It has some really nice fullness in it! And pockets of course. I'm still loving the orange and navy blue combo that I used for the Bike Fashion Show, so I lined the top of the halter with navy blue something (probably cotton/poly cheapy fabric). The orange is just a quilting cotton, though maybe extra heavy. I think it contributes positively to the skirt's fullness.
Here it is:
And another picture that my mom took while we were wine tasting:
I wanted to make this little bolero before the pub crawl and had my mom send it to me (because she owned it already!), but it got lost for something like 3 weeks in the mail and didn't arrive in time:

While I was sick last week it was on my mind. When I was finally well, I made it. Mostly as a wearable muslin, but I suppose my future may hold other occasions on which to wear a Hawaiian print sundress and matching bolero.

It does have nice drape, see?

It turned out pretty good. I made the size 14. Next time I'll do a narrow shoulder adjustment, or just make the shoulder pleats bigger. This little jacket went insanely quick, one evening and a Saturday morning (still too sick to ride bikes). I lined it instead of using facings, though I did not line the sleeves. I hate inset sleeves so much, I wasn't about to torture myself like that.
Oh, and this is funny: I didn't have enough of the print I used on the dress. Can you tell? It turns out I had another orangy Hawaiian print cotton in my stash. Who doesn't? Yep! The outer fabric is a rayon. I'm going to guess I've had it since high school, so lets just say it's probably close to 20 years old.

The details:

  • Amy Butler Halter top, size medium
  • Cambie skirt, size 10
  • Vogue Vintage (V8812) size 14

The End

Monday, May 27, 2013

Bike Fashion Show: bike friendly outfit

I took week off from sewing after finishing the tweed Laurel because I was riding my bike LOTS in preparation for the Cote de Tolosa (most fun bike race ever!).
That's not entirely true (the part about not sewing), I started a Laurel top and prepped some fabric for a skirt that I'm going to make. But mostly in my free time I thought about sewing, and didn't do any.
Then, at - what feels like - the last minute, I decided I wanted to make something for Bikes & Beauty, the SLO County Bicycle Coalition's members-only bike fashion show.

The Goal(s):

1. make something easy (as in, something I've made before). 2. make it somehow bike specific or bike friendly. 3. make it for a model.
I had some fabric in mind, its been in my stash for about 4 years and it has little orange bikes all over it. I got it at Bolt, in Portland, Oregon one summer when I was home. I also had a model in mind: my friend Vanessa, who was already planning to be a model in the show. I had a feeling that even though she's tiny, she would fit the patterns I like working with. So...
I made an Amy Butler halter top and a Sewaholic Cambie skirt.And I am completely in love with the results.

Clover Bias Tape Maker

But first! let me talk about this little miracle!
Clover Bias Tape Maker
Does everyone already have one of these? I didn't even know they existed until I read about it on the Coletterie blog awhile back. I've been making my own bias tape for awhile but it always lead to burning fingers and swearing, and the smallest I could make it was .5 inch. So I finally got around to buying one at my local fabric store. What I thought I wanted wasn't in stock so what I bought was the 12 mm (1/2") version and it turned out that is exactly what I wanted. It made for bias binding that was 1/4" when folded. Perfect!
It's still pretty hot, and there is still some swearing associated with folding it in half and ironing that fold. But I'll take it! I'm so excited about this!

Good repurposing of pesky zipper packaging!
In addition to learning how to make my own tiny bias binding I also learned that I don't really know when to refer to the double folded width or the folded width.Or really why it is called "double fold", or what it is called when it is not double fold... anyway. I probably should pay more attention when I buy it.Doesn't matter! I managed to accidentally buy and make exactly the width I wanted!

On to the outfit...

The Amy Butler Halter Top + jersey pockets

This is a very simple pattern and I can pretty much make the whole thing in a couple hours. But for the bike fashion show I made it longer in the back and I added jersey pockets. Yes! Jersey pockets (as in bike jersey, not jersey fabric). If you ride a bike you know how great this is! Jersey pockets are on the back of the shirt and they're easily accessible to you while you're riding (snacks, a cell phone, a beer maybe if your on a mountain bike ride; that's what you carry). But look at these!
The orange bias binding makes it!

I love the color combination, so crisp!

The Cambie Skirt + kick pleat for modesty

I didn't come up with on my own. About 6 years ago Dan Rivoire (the dynamic Executive Director of the bike coalition) dreamed up this idea of a skirt you could button closed while riding a bike. The concept was to pull the back of the skirt between your legs and button it to the front, and it was brilliant, but not quite executed perfectly. If you ride a bike in a skirt a lot (or maybe if you sew and you ride your bike in a skirt) you know that in order for this to work it has to be longer in the back. That's just what happens when you bend your body forward, the skirt rides up! Which is also why it's not so good to ride bikes in a mini skirt (in my opinion). The remedy, I decided, was twofold: 1. make it longer in the back, and 2. provide more fabric in the back so it can button to the front without getting tighter across the legs.
And here it is!
White bias tape on the pleats

"Details" to hide the mistakes

Modesty button!

Skirt back

Skirt front
It was fun to add details that I didn't really know how to do, the pleat came together miraculously with only one test run to try to gauge the width of the folds. It's pretty uneven, but it makes me happy anyway. I do enjoy the process of making it up as I go, which is a technique I haven't used in awhile. 
I will post pictures of Vanessa in the outfit after the fashion show...

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The tweed ride dress (Colette Laurel)

It's bike month! Which is a very important month for me. I suppose you could say every month is bike month, but where I live May is when things really get happening and I love watching the tradition as it has grown in our community.

The tweed ride is one of my favorite events to participate in and each of the three years it has happened in SLO, I've made something new to wear. This year it was the Colette Laurel.

The fabric I chose were 2 items that I've had around for years. The underlining I used was a pretty blue supplex fabric that I bought at an employees only sale at Kokotat when I worked there 12 years ago. The main fabric was a (fairly) loosely woven fabric that I picked up in Portland several years ago, with no real plans for it. The manner in which I acquired it and my bad memory prevent me from being sure what it is made of. It smells a little like wool (hot, wet, kind of doggy) when I iron it, but it didn't shrink when I washed it, so I think it's just some cotton. Not sure.
So, I've just been bringing it out and admiring it every few months with no clear direction for how I wanted to use it, when suddenly everything collided into inspiration:
The Laurel contest + the tweed ride + the fabric = and I knew what I wanted to make.
I think a big part of the inspiration was the sleeve suggestion on the Laurel Pattern, I imagined it on the hem and I knew I had to make it.

I've yet to make a Colette Pattern with complete success. Don't get me wrong I LOVE every one of them, but the shape is somehow different than I am. The Laurel was a good choice for working out the differences between me and the pattern, mostly because it was so easy. I made 4 muslins, which sounds like a lot, but with only three pieces (or 5 with sleeves), they each came together really quickly.
And honestly, I didn't need to make that many. Probably because they were so easy, I allowed myself to get that picky. In the end I bet I could've made a straight up size 10, lowered the bust darts, and increased the back darts but instead I did this:
  1. Cut a size 6 and graded out to a 10 at the hips
  2. Cut a size 8 and graded in at the waist, graded out to a 10 at the hips
  3. Modifications above + lengthened the bodice by 1/2 inch midway between the neck line and the armpit, thus increasing the size of the armholes and lowering the bust darts. - Incidentally, this one fit nearly perfect and I will use it when I make a sleeveless or cap sleeve version in the future. but all that extra length across the chest was weird once i put the sleeves on.
  4. Mods from number 2 + removed the lengthening from number 3 + and lowered the bust dart to the size 12 dart and then let out the side seams by 1/4 inch at the armpit and the back seam by 1/4.
By that last one I was probably delirious. I actually couldn't tell after I put it together if I cut it out on the fold line or on the back seam line (I had traced the pattern onto tracing paper) so it's possible that if i had cut it out on the fold line but put a back seam in then I had actually made it too small, hence the adjustments.
Who knows!? I was completely insane by that point.

I also tried 2 different sleeve arrangements because I'm not really a fan of the gathers at the top of the sleeve. I settled on a combination of softening the sleeve curve and shortening the top of the sleeve, I still had to gather a little but not enough to really show.

What the fit boils down to for me is that I have to be able to ride my bike in it, and the three quarter length sleeves make it so it has to be a little wider across the back than it would be if it was sleeveless or short sleeved.

Bonus craft:
Last year I made some corduroy pants for the tweed ride but I only wore them for the ride. They were a little too big, the fabric too thin for me to want to wear regularly. So I made them into these shorts to wear under the dress!

The pattern is Simplicity 3850, which is a Built by Wendy "Built by You" pattern. I think it is out of print now. I made them in size 18, because that almost matched my hip size but was too large in the waist. I graded the waist to a 16 but I think I'll make some other changes to the pattern before I try again.
For reference the size 18 corresponds to the size 12 Colette Juniper pants which I really want to try soon.


Friday, May 3, 2013

The bike dress (Sewaholic Cambie)

Since it's bike month, here's my Cambie bike dress. I actually made it in January for Pancho's holiday work party, but didn't take any good photos in it until yesterday.

It was a good evening for wine on the porch!
Top secret cuteness inside
I might be in love with this bias binding!

This was my second Sewaholic dress and I was fairly confident I could make it fit so I didn't make a muslin. I used the size 10 but graded out to a 12 at the waist, but then ended up taking at least that much in at the back when I put in the zipper. So I think in the future I'll just go with a straight 10.  I also had the same issue that others mentioned, the shoulders were a little higher than necessary but I adjusted it by tucking more of the front "sleeve" into the bodice. Consequently the shoulder seams are a little forward of my shoulder (but the waist is also a bit high in the front now, so I think I got a little overzealous).
I already have plans for 2 more of this dress. I adore it. Super flattering and sweet.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Gray Sewaholic Lonsdale

My first Sewaholic pattern!
I really like the style of this dress but it is a little tricky to get into and out of alone. This gray version was sort of intended to be a wearable muslin in that I would wear it if it looked ok. My plan was to finish it and then add a bicycle theme by either embroidering bicycles on it or block printing or painting a cog onto it (the one you see in the picture...). My grand plan was to wear it to the Bicycle Coalition "Members Only" party. And I did. But. As is often the case, I was racing to finish it as the party was starting. So, I just tied the cog into the center knot. And it looks just fine there!

the finished product
Since I ran out of time, I added 1" wide binding to the hem (instead of actually hemming, which would've taken too long).

the back + wrinkles!
The back has wrinkles, I will do some amending back there next time. In this picture it sort of looks like it's too tight under the arms, which i suppose could also cause the dress to scrunch down toward my waste and be wrinkly, but do have other evidence that the problem actually caused by it being too loose.

Details: I made it in a size 12, which was too large in the bust. Because I didn't want to take the whole thing apart (the bodice is lined and I had already put in the waistbands), I undid the side seams enough to pull in about 1/2 inch on both sides and graded out to the existing seam close to the waste. I think making a size 10 bodice graded to a 12 waist will be adequate for future projects, as the size 10 will fit better in the bust and will be slightly shorter in the bodice.
The Final Product, in the photo booth
Side craft:
I traced and then made a linoleum block design from the cog. I only have water based inks at home so this bleeds terribly in the wash, but it looks good. I'll use it for other crafts I'm sure.
A test run

Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Garden Shirt

I finally finished Pancho's garden shirt! I only have this one picture of it because I was so excited to take it to him to wear while he worked in the yard.

The history of the shirt goes like this...
He picked out the fabric in October 2011 when we went to Britex while on a visit to San Francisco. I had never made a man's shirt before and I didn't have a pattern at the time, but I did eventually find the Negroni by Colette Patterns and that is the pattern this is modeled on. Before making it in the Britex fabric, I did a test run using a grey cotton. Here is that version (I have a lot more pictures of it because I was so amazed at how awesome it was):
It has flat felled seams!
I like this little loop detail
And this is us, on our way to our friends' wedding
I made the grey version in a size small, but in the length of the medium. It has a narrow fit on him, which I like, but he didn't want that in the garden shirt, since it's purpose is to wear while working! So I straightened out the side seams and added a little width around the lowest part of the shirt. You can almost see what I mean here:
I also removed the scallops and put fewer buttons on the front (he didn't like how high the top button was on the grey version). 
This was my first Colette pattern and I loved it. The instructions were beautiful and easy to follow, even that crazy picture of how you're supposed to turn the shirt out around the yoke! It seemed impossible, but made perfect sense when followed.