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.