Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Made by a Fabricista: Luscious Linen Culottes

Do you wear linen?  I never did until a few years ago when I bought a long sleeved linen shirt for gardening.  I would alternate wearing it and a cotton chambray shirt when I worked outside, and I quickly noticed that the linen shirt didn't smell as much, or get as dirty as the chambray shirt did.  It also didn't seem as hot to wear.

What I had figured out, was something known for centuries by people in hot climates. Linen is naturally resistant to bacteria (thus cutting down on odor), dirt repellant, as well as both absorbent  and quick-drying! It also has a naturally high SPF factor, high luster, and strong, long-lasting fibers.  And the cooling factor? I read that studies have shown that skin temperature can be lowered 2-3 degrees when wearing linen clothing, compared to wearing cotton clothing!

It does have one drawback, and that drawback may be a deal breaker for some people- it wrinkles like crazy.  Just sit down once, and you will start to see lines wherever the fabric bent.  I like to look at the wrinkles as just a "design element" and as a way to tell real linen from the imposters.  It's a good idea to not tumble dry your linen bone dry, to make it a little easier to release the wrinkles from when it comes out of the dryer.

Linen comes in all colors, varying thicknesses and weaves.  For this outfit, I used three pieces of linen- all from Fabric Mart's incredible linen selections.  The pants were a lightweight soft blue/grey/green plaid, the top is a lightweight bright mint green, and the shrug is a tissue weight silver knit from last year. 

The culottes are from Hot Patterns "Camera-Ready Culottes" pattern.  I had made a muslin of them a few weeks ago, and had worn them out a couple of times to get a feel for whether or not I wanted to use this extra nice linen in this pattern. The pant leg was super wide, and I did feel a little clown-like in them, so when I made them in the linen, I reduced the leg circumference by about 6" per leg. They still measure a generous 30" around the bottom of the leg. Here's a close-up of the cuff which I made a little wider than the pattern, at 2-1/2" wide.

I also felt that the waist was too bulky and stretched out of shape, so for this version, I used a wide grosgrain ribbon as my waist facing.  This is a great technique for any waist facing that you want to make as light and firm as possible.  I couldn't find any grey or light blue grosgrain in my local stores, so I went with a navy.  This one is 1-1/2" wide.  I stitched it down at every seam, dart, and pleat to hold it in place.

For the top, I used another new Hot Patterns pattern- the Plain and Simple Woven T-shirt and Dress.  Despite the name, this pattern turned out to be anything but Plain and Simple.  To get the fit close to the illustration, I ended up going two full sizes smaller from what was recommended for my measurements.  I also adjusted the shoulder and added waist darts for a little more shaping. Definitely more work than I was planning on, but I really love this new top- mostly for the color!  It's so Springy!

For the shrug, I used a newer McCall's pattern 7135.   I shortened the sleeves by about 6", and left all of the edges raw.  I bought the silver linen blend knit from Fabric Mart last year, and I'm pretty sure that it is mostly polyester with just a touch of linen to give it a pretty texture.  But it is just perfect for wearing on a cool Spring day.

The scarf is made from silk chiffon, also from Fabric Mart. I love a lightweight scarf for Spring.  They are so easy to make too!  Read more about making scarves from fabric here

If you haven't already tried sewing with linen, give it a try!   There really are no special skills or techniques needed.  It's incredibly easy to sew with. I bet you will love it as much as I do.

Happy Sewing!
SewBaby News

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Made by a Fabricista: Mint Chocolate Momma.

This post could have also been entitled "I Look Exactly Like the Cover of Butterick 6183."

For the April blog post, I decided to keep a few things in mind when picking out my project.  First, I definitely knew I would need to do something that would come together fairly quickly (like less than a couple of days of work) since I would be just returning home from a long Easter break (we went to Indiana and Illinois to see friends and sites), and that I would commence my son's First Holy Communion suit after I was done with this project.  Second, I needed something that was less dressy than my last few makes (here is my Easter project, here is my March make for Fabric Mart, and here is February's make for Fabric Mart).   I really wanted something that would be a great "mom on the go" kind of outfit.  Third, I knew that I would want something that transitions well across all the seasons, on its own in late spring, summer, and early fall, but could be worn layered in late fall, winter, and early spring. 

So I proposed that I work with a gorgeous light mint green wool suiting (with a bit of stretch) for the top and a dark brown mid-weight linen for the pants (you can still get that one!).  I didn't intend for my outfit to fully look like the drawing on the Butterick 6183 cover, but it ended up looking exactly like it, even though I only used the top from the pattern.  The pants are Colette's Juniper, and though I like the style lines of the Lisette for Butterick pattern, I had seen so many rave reviews of the Juniper pants that I knew I had to give those a try.

I had seen this image in J. Crew's March catalog and I fell in love with the top and I knew right then that rather than buy the top, I would make an "inspired by" version, so thankfully the April post and my wants coincided at the same time.

The pants were a simpler choice, I simply do not have any wide-legged pants in my wardrobe.  Years ago I did, but they were lower waisted and far too fitted through the thighs.  Even the wide-legged pants I owned that did have a wider leg were from when I was heavier and those were long ago sent to Goodwill.  Wide-legged pants are coming back in style, so I was more than happy to give the trend a try with the gorgeous brown linen.  I can't really do this version of wide-legged at my station in life (though when I am 80, all bets are off, and those green ones will be mine, lol), but this version would work nicely for my daily activities.

Let's talk about Colette's Juniper Pants pattern first.  I chose to go with the size 10 simply because the 10 had the measurement closest to my hip measurement (40.5 to my 40).  Even though my low hip is an inch bigger, based on what I saw in the comparison of my tried and true pants pattern (McCall's 6711), there would be more than enough ease at the lower hip, and it definitely worked out that way since the flare of the wide-leg starts immediately at the curve of the bottom/thigh. 

I wasn't sure I was going to like the pants on me since they are tighter through the waist/hips/bottom and very loose everywhere else, but I ended up really liking it, especially after I had hemmed it to the proper length for "running around," aka not wearing high heels, which is what I would have to do if I kept the original hem length.  (I took the hem up by a full three inches, in fact.  I am 5'8" with most of my length in my legs, and an inseam of 34".)  This proportion seems to work well with my frame, especially when paired with a more fitted top.

Pockets!  So, I love a great pocket, and these are deep and lovely, but even though I am huge fan of the Colette instructions, I was not a huge fan of the drafting of either the pockets, zip fly, or waistband.  I think the instructions did a great job of explaining how to get them attached, but I didn't like the end result.  I thought the pockets seemed unnecessarily complicated (I love yoke pockets, so it isn't like this is my first rodeo at pockets), and I really didn't like the way the waistband closed (but to be fair, I really do like the size drafting for the waistband--it fits very well from waist to hip).  The zip fly didn't include a facing, so I need to take care when zipping since there is no fabric covering the back of the zip. 

This side shot probably best shows why I like the pants so much, barring a few minor tweaks in fit, it works so nicely with my larger bottom and smaller waist.  It is rare for me to be able to have both fit, usually I have a significant gap at the back of my waistband.  Sewing has changed that for me, but I still need to adjust patterns (usually using a size 12 waistband and grading out to a 14/16 at the hips).  This pattern worked nicely, and fully, in the size 10.  I loved the long length.  It is so gratifying to HAVE to pull up a full three inches on a hem.  Usually I serge the hem edge and turn it up by 1/2" to 5/8".  I don't love the waste of all that fabric, but it is a tiny bit thrilling, nonetheless.

Obligatory back shot, lol.  This seems to be a good fit.  I could be wrong, but I think they look decent enough. 


Here I want to show you how I decided the size 10 would fit and that the crotch curve would likely be okay.  Obviously there is not an exact match, but I took into consideration that the back crotch curve for the Juniper had more depth and length than the McCall's 6711, but the front curve of the Juniper had a bit less than the McCall's 6711.  Wholly unscientific, but I figured as long as the basic shape and overall length was similar enough, it would likely work for my body.  I do tend to do better with pants that have less length and curve on the front and a substantial amount more on the back curve, so the Juniper/McCall's patterns seem to suit my particular curve needs.

Onto the Butterick 6183, a fairly new pattern made by Lisette for Butterick.  My friend, B., is OBSESSED with Lisette, and she is the first person that turned me onto her patterns, both her Oliver & S. patterns for kids, and her lines with both Simplicity and Butterick (in fact my February make for this blog was a Lisette for Simplicity pattern).

I chose to make this top in the size 10, which is what I typically wear with all of the non-Indie patterns.  I did make the decision to grade out to a 12 at the high hip, and that worked nicely to curve properly over my "assets."  ;-)  I also needed to do a square shoulder adjustment at the front yoke and on the back center and back side pieces.  I would not have been able to get this top to fit properly at my shoulders if I hadn't done so. 

I did not need to lengthen it or increase the width on the sleeves, but quite a few ladies who have reviewed the pattern have had to do both.  I am fairly short in my torso and I have skinny arms, so this definitely explains why those adjustments were not needed.  I also used the A/B cup version, and to be honest, I had to pad it out a bit to get the princess seam curve to fully fill up.  Sigh. 

I have to say, I love the end result, but I am very fussy about the things that the pattern had us do.  I do want to point out my fussiness comes from the pattern's directions not being the ideal choice for the lovely gabardine wool, since when sewn together, the gabardine gets quite thick (it is not a thinner gabardine, it is more of a medium weight).  Because I had seen other suiting type tops out there in retail stores (here, here, and here), I figured I could make this work for me, but a few choices did NOT work so well with the fabric.

The first big issue was the yoke and its facing.  Usually you apply a yoke facing from the neckline down, but she has you apply it from bodice seam up, encasing the seams.  Well, I had fully serged all my seams, so it was actually unnecessary for me to encase those seams.  I also don't really know if I needed a yoke facing since she also included a neckline binding.  Sigh.  But of course I followed the directions exactly, and I found that the while the yoke and facing worked out fine enough, by the time I got to the neckline binding, it was SO thick and unwieldy to turn that I had no choice but to trim, STEAM press the ever-loving life out of it, and topstitch the facing down.  Technically I shouldn't have a neckline that pops up like that, it is meant to be hidden, but I couldn't turn it, even with steam, so I just made lemonade from that lemon. 

I definitely need to try this pattern with less thick fabric.  Again, I am very pleased with how it turned out, but for how "easy" it was meant to be, I sure felt like I was working pretty darn hard!



Some things that I used in this project that I find were especially helpful.

1.  I rarely work with solids (LOVE prints!), so I really struggled trying to figure out if there was a wrong side/right side.  The was a clear right/wrong on the gabardine, it wasn't super obvious, but with some time and great light, I could figure it out.  I am pretty sure there was no right/wrong side with the linen, but because I am a bit of a perfectionist, I chose to pick a side and call it the wrong side.  I know there are people out there who use serger thread that matches their garment, but I can't be bothered to worry about changing out the thread every time I have a new project, so I just keep sage thread and white thread in the holders at all times.  The sage thread is one side and white is always the other.  The sage thread this time indicated which side was the wrong side.  As long as I fed the wrong side face up through my serger, I would get sage thread on the wrong side.

2.  I love these hem clips.  They really do make turning up a hem quite easy.  I even had enough room on them for the monster hem of the Juniper pants.  Because they are metal, I can iron over them, but I definitely have to wait before removing them (ask me why I know this!).

One last look at my "mom on the go/mint chocolate" outfit.  :-)

Have a great day, and I'll see you back here in May!

~Dina of My Superfluities.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Made by a Fabricista: Diane's Border Print Wrap Dress

When I was little, I loved when my mom took me to the fabric store in the pink building (by the way, my kids have never "loved" going to the fabric store).  I would go up and down the aisles with my hands outstretched so I could feel the fabrics.  My love for fabrics started when I was very young and I admit, I can get nostalgic about fabrics.

My mom was a sewer and I remember many of the things she made, but one blouse in particular really impressed me.  She took a design class at a local college when I was 7 or 8 years old and made a two color tunic with an ogee print at the neckline and on the cuffs.  I thought she looked beautiful in it! When I saw this cotton print on Fabric Mart's website, it took me back to that blouse and I knew I had to have this fabric.

Border prints can be scary for sewers because we never know what to make with them aside from the typical dirndl skirt with the border at the hem.  When I saw this black and magenta ogee print with hot pink floral border I knew I wouldn't use it as a border on a skirt, but I would put it on the neckline....just like my mom did.

I used new McCall’s pattern 7119, view C, a maxi wrap dress with short sleeves.  I chose it in part because it has a neckband with a shape that would fit within the width of the border but also because a wrap dress is really comfortable.

It can be difficult to determine how much fabric is needed on a border print so a little extra is always a good idea.  I ordered 4 yards and used all of the border print (down to 2”!) primarily because the waist ties are very long.  However, I have plenty of black fabric left over to make another small project.

The dress went together quickly and the instructions were well written.  I chopped the maxi length to a midi length because making the dress go all the way to the floor would've looked heavy.  This pattern is a great choice for a beginning/intermediate sewist and certainly something I will make again.  

This is my first dress of the season and I'm looking forward to making it again.  Next time I'll make the sleeveless version because I know some hot weather is on the way.  

Do you have any summer dress patterns on your cutting table?  I'd love to know what you're making.

Happy Sewing!  
Diane - Gatorbunnysews