Top 5 of 2016

I’m joining in with the Top 5 posts again!

But I’m doing it all at once, since I’m both lazy and out of time… Since it’s now 2017 and all. Be prepared for an epically long post.

Top 5 Hits:

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  1. My Ginger Jeans. I have been wearing the last two, as well as my first real denim pair, pretty much nonstop for the past month. It helps that it’s jeans season, and that I don’t own any RTW pairs anymore, but the sheer amount of times these have already been worn and loved is extensive.
  2.  Plum Drop. Not only did it win me a contest in Indie Pattern Month, but its gotten a lot of wear. In summer at least! The fabric is pretty terrible, but I can always make it again in a better quality knit when this craps out!
  3. Chambray Shirtdress. This one looks terrible on camera (and yes, to the person who wrote an nastygram on my IPM post, I understand why you’d think it needs so many alterations… But it does fit well in real life. Thanks to the Monthly Stitch moderator who saw the comment, removed it, and sent a sweet note to me about it. I appreciated it, even though I never did respond…) In real life, it’s basically become my favorite dress. As soon as it comes out of the wash, I iron it, and wear it basically the next day!
  4. Amber Julia Cardigan. This one is fairly recent, but I have worn it at least once a week since I made it. And there was that one week that I may have worn it 4 of 5 workdays… I only didn’t wear it that 5th because I realized how often it had been worn…
  5. Whale of a Coat. This one is certainly the newest, but it fills a massive hole in my wardrobe, and should get a lot of wear this season and hopefully beyond. I’ve worn it in the unfinished state at least 5 times, and once now that it’s complete. It’s comfortable, it doesn’t ride up a lot when I raise my arms. I can pull my arms ahead of me easily, driving in it is a dream, etc. And it’s warm!

Top 5 Misses

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  1. Party Skirt. I made this early 2016, or maybe late 2015, and I wore it the one time. I’m not a fan of wearing glitter, shiny things, etc. (Though shiny things will always distract me from my focus), and I don’t know why I think this’ll be any different.
  2. Black Nettie Tees. These get worn all the time, so why are they a miss? The fabric I bought for these is so poor a quality that they took less than 6 months to become translucent (which I realized in 2016, so I’m counting it in this round up). I need to make these workhorse shirts in a higher quality fabric, so I can get an equal amount of wear without the downside.
  3. Ariel Skirt. This fabric was too light for the task at hand, so I shouldn’t be surprised that it didn’t work out overall. I want to make another skirt like this, but I’ll try a new pattern variation, and a heavier weight of fabric. Meanwhile, this skirt is going to become a shirt, if I can fit it.
  4. Handmade Sandals. These worked for my Nausicaa and Kaylee costume, but they aren’t comfortable enough for usual wear. I’m not getting rid of them for now, but they probably won’t get worn much.
  5. 2016 Goals. While I did finish 3 of the 5 goals, the two that would really have helped my sewing overall did not get completed (drafting real slopers and buying quality materials over cheap and crappy ones)

Top 5 Non-Crafting Highlights

  1. DragonCon. There are no words to describe how much this convention meant to me. For being my first and having it be so wonderful and successful, it was perfect. I hope to go back next year!
  2. Dancing. I’ve been ballroom dancing for between 5 and 6 years now, and since I started social dancing, my skills are improving as both a follow (typically the woman’s part) and a lead (typically the man’s). I’m spoiled that the ballroom and swing community around here is robust, and it’s led to both dance-friends and real friends for me!
  3. Friendships. My two best friends in the entire world I met when I was abroad. They’re my musketeers, and the three of us have never since lived within the same five hour radius since, which makes it difficult to hang out as a trio. When they were able to join me for DragonCon, it made it a wonderful experience. But since these friends live so far away, I obviously need alternative companionship. My first year in my grad program, I got close to a few people, and then most of them moved to a satellite campus (I was given a choice and the more intriguing option was to stay at the main campus), so I had a year with few close friends, though in 2016 spring I started to become close with some ballroom friends, and now I’m especially close with one. Definitely a best friend contender. It’s nice to have friends and companions with similar goals and interests! I’m definitely happier!
  4. End Date for Master’s. I’m a third year in my program, which is already slightly strange for a Master’s but now I know that sometime in this calendar year I’ll be graduating.
  5. My new bike! I’m not one for exercise, but I know it’s a big part of keeping healthy, so I opted to buy a bike that I’ll actually use to get places, so I’m not just exercising in place. I’ve made some bags to go on my back rack, and I’m looking into making long term versions, now that I’ve had a few months of wear. Cardboard and cotton do not do well in the rain… and uncovered bike seats don’t either.

5 Reflections

  1. I wear my makes when I don’t get to adventurous with them. I’m okay with trying new silhouettes, but at the same time, I’m not going to wear miniskirts, or full circle skirts made out of fabric that will fly up easily, etc. I know what I like to wear, and what I like to sew. If I stick with that and work to create variety within that, I’ll enjoy both creating and wearing garments.
  2. Costuming is a rush that I can’t shake… I had my first real experiences of wearing costumes I’ve made this year. I never really got to experience Halloween when I was younger, and I wasn’t comfortable being in the spotlight on stage, so costumes were something I made, but never really wore. Now, it’s nice to know that I can wear them with pride, and get noticed! I’d like to get better at emulating characters that I’m attempting to look like, but that’s something I may be able to work on with practice. How to get that practice, I’m not sure, but I’ll be working on it.
  3. Spending money on quality material is a good goal, but one that I’m still not quite ready to do yet. I’m still a student, so when I have the chance to splurge on quality, I want to do so, but if I have to buy cheap stuff to learn on, I’ll do it. I’m still learning myself, my skills, and my interests, so I’ll size up on a case by case basis.
  4. I’m probably never going to want to sew bras and underwear. Camisoles either. I bought the Watson bra pattern, and I’ve made up a version (that needs to be fixed… I didn’t stretch the elastic enough.). But it didn’t make me want to make another. At least not enough to make a real bra, and I’ve had an underwear pattern printed for a few years now, and I keep not making them. So I’ll never have an entirely me made wardrobe. Sometimes its good to admit that I “need help,” or rather that quality RTW still has a place in my life. Similarly, I will not be able to make Italian Wedding Soup as good as Wegmans brand, and Spaghettios are delicious on special occasions. Even though I know neither are the best things to put in my body. But sometimes nostalgia wins out.
  5. I like sharing my skills with others. When the musketeers decided to do DragonCon together, and we decided on a few group costumes, I was able to share my sewing skills with them, and help teach one and advise the other on sewing techniques and tricks. Then the makerspace in my building opened up, and apparently I’ve become the resident sewing “expert” and I’ll be teaching the intro to sewing machine classes for a bit of this upcoming semester.

5 Goals for 2017

  1. Start/finish my costuming projects in a timely fashion. I’m big on dragging out projects. And I can finish things quickly. I’m just not good at following through with it. So I have plans to make or update or finish six costume this year, and I’d like to follow through.
    1. Make a fascinator for the TARDIS, and make/obtain a sonic screwdriver, etc.
    2. Create more accessories for my Nausicaa costume. I’ve got Teto, but I’d like to make the flare rifle, the gloves, the hat, the boot covers, etc.
    3. I’m working on the prop from the Doctor Who 50th anniversary episode The Moment, and I’d like to also make the costume Billie Piper wore to go with it!
    4. I’ve been working on the Cinderella ballgown from the live action version, and I’d like to finish it before summer.
    5. The movie Penelope has been a favorite of mine, despite some flaws, and I’d love to have a costume for Penelope, especially because some of it will work in real life too. I’ve already thought a lot about it, and I’ve started practicing with prosthetic making, but I have a long way to go…
    6. The Doctor Who episode Face the Raven is a hard one to watch, since it involves the death of a companion, but I love what Me/Ashildr wears in it, and I want to go all the way from a collection of clothing/jewelry to costume.
  2. Learn to smile and become more loose in photographs. I will freely admit that I was a stick in the mud in early college, and I’ve been working on becoming a more free person in life and at heart. I smile a lot, but I’ve learned (from what other people tell me, and what I see in my own photographs) that when I think I’m smiling, it doesn’t always show to the real world. Now, I’m fine with that for interactions with people. If I get to know them, they’ll start to get it. But I don’t like having to sift through all the photos I take to find the one with a smidge of a smile. It would be nice to be able to take a few and be visibly smiling in more than half!
  3. Work on props and accessories in addition to sewing clothes/costumes. I have enough clothes. Not that I’m going to stop making them, but I’m not desperate to make anything right now because of a void in my wardrobe. So if I shift my focus to making things that will help my life or my costumes to get easier or shine, that will be best overall for my life and plans. Also I got a Dremel for Christmas, and it’s so fun to play with!!! I need more excuses to get sawdust all over my dining room.
  4. Work down my stash. It’s started to overflow my space. Some of it has plans attached, some is marinating while I think over plans, and some of it is meant for muslins only. But the overload needs to be dealt with.
  5. Attempt to address fitting issues before finishing a garment. Muslins should help with this, but also fixing or attempting to remedy these issues before “declaring” it finished should help these kinds of issues from causing garments to end up on the alteration pile.

Here’s to 2017!

Whale of a Coat

front

This is my new coat!!!

Ain’t it purdy?

It’s warm too!

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And it looks kinda Victorian (although its super not period accurate, or even vaguely accurate, and but at least give me a smidge steampunk? Kinda? Maybe? Okay I’ll continue…)

Now for the details… This is mostly the coat from Simplicity 8262, which is a new Leanne Marshall pattern. It has seven princess seamed panels with a nearly full circle skirt between them. Or it feels like it, at least.

The fabric is a wool poly blend, which started out grey. I spent one night carefully dying each piece, hoping to get an emerald color. Moss is nice too…

muslin

I started by making a muslin out of some neon paisley that I kept around for muslin, and when I started handling my wool fabric I decided to also use it for interlining. As in take apart the muslin and use it for interlining.

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My muslin fit pretty well, except around the armscye, but I ended up overfitting it regardless, so I can only get one close fitting sweater under it at a time. So no thick sweaters plus this coat for me, unless I carry them separately. But it’s working lovely so far!

back

The collar is made out of what I think is a wool felt, though I thought it was poly, because most of the time I can’t have wool on my neck and chin (due to sensitivity), so I was slightly miffed to find out it was wool, but it keeps it nice and warm!

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I modified the front to get more of a double breasted feel, and I used bound buttonholes… For the first time! Aren’t they cool! A little messy, but for a first set, they’re pretty snazzy.

I also added a zipper to the inside, which I’m considering moving around a bit, but it’s useable for now!

pocket

Also, does it look a little sticky? I lined it with this awesome blue whale flannel from Joann’s. It does add some bulk, and some friction, but I like it! I did line the sleeves with slippy lining. Pink, since I didn’t have enough red for the job. For the sleeves I also underlined with flannel instead of the muslin fabric… Less bulk with hopefully equal wind protection.

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Looking at the pictures, I still need to work out the button and zipper placements, but the rest of the coat seems nice and smooth!

Now it just needs to stay cold out. It’s only been that cold for one day a week since I made this.

Also, Happy New Year!

Blue Winter Susanne Cardigans

I’m obsessed with cardigans.

As if you couldn’t tell… and those are just the sewn ones. And not even all of them.

And I’m always in search of the perfect cardigan pattern.

combo

The Susanne cardigan from Compagnie M. certainly hits many of those marks.

I had these sweater knits that have been burning a whole in my stash for about a year. And I wanted drapey cardigan to go with them. I had thought about the new Grainline one, but it wasn’t perfect for what I wanted, and I searched the internet far and wide.

When I found this one from Compagnie M. I immediately purchased it as the short version hit exactly what I wanted for these knits. Then the problem became finishing the seams.

Sweater knits enjoy unraveling, in my experience, and my serger isn’t really in working order.

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When the new makerspace opened up in my building on campus, I was pleased to find out they have a serger! (Among other fun things, such as the laser cutter that I’m incredibly obsessed with. As in all the Christmas gifts…).

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My sweater dreams could finally come true.

The aqua was first, and the pattern made a sweater that was wearable, but big. I serged around every piece, and folded over the edge and tacked the neckline/pocket edge. The armscye was a bit large and loose, and it was too big along the back shoulders. And a bit long.

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After wearing it a bit, I decided to take in the back and raise the entire cardi. I did this haphazardly, at the serger (which I don’t recommend), and I lopped off the top of the sweater at both the front and the back, and I cut into the back to create a smaller back. Overall, it had the effect that I needed and it’s a lovely cardigan to wear.

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So when I brought out the navy knit, I made those changes to a traced pattern, to normalize them a bit. Otherwise, construction was the same, with serged edges for each pattern piece, except I used a marine blue bias binding around the neckline and pocket tops. It definitely makes the cardigan more stable, which makes it super comfy, and the pockets are potentially more useful. Not much, but they can hold the weight of my keys in one, and my phone in the other, so that’s a plus.

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I’d like to try the other variations in the future… and maybe the long version, if I live in a cooler climate next.

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Altogether, between the Susanne and the Julia cardigans, I have patterns that will probably serve me the rest of my life.

With a few others sprinkled in of course. Constant pursuit of perfection and all…

**Coming in with part 3 of get projects posted in 2016 when they were made… Part 4 (My coat!!! Squee!!) should be up sometime tomorrow, and then I’ll post my review of 2016!

Revisiting High Waists

comboMy first version of Closet Case Files’ Ginger Jeans pattern was high waisted, but out of some bad bull denim which did not have enough stretch. So I couldn’t really sit, and I couldn’t bend my knees more than 90 degrees, which was not fun when I was trying to sit.

My second version, I accepted defeat, and used the lower waisted version, which worked, with caveats. The denim stretches out, despite being pretty pricey and good quality.  I should have used a more curved waistband, since they continually slide down my hips, and I had to sew wedges into the waistband. But I did this well after I added belt loops and started using belts (daily for the first time in my life) for a month or two, and got fed up with needing a belt to take out the trash comfortably. I also cut them rather short, which means they are perfect for summer in sandals and flats. Boots too. But shoes and sneakers, not so much. They definitely look like high waters in those. And they let cold air in. And cold air is not my friend in winter. I still love them, but at the same time, they work best in certain situations.

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So when I got my package of Cone Mill denim from CCF last December, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with it. At that point, the high waisted option didn’t feel viable, and the low waisted would take a lot of work. Making new jeans was very high on my to do list, but it took an extra ten months to do it.

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This is a long winded way of telling you that I have two pairs of high waist jeans to show you!

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The first is as drafted high waisted skinny jeans (with the lines on the pocket and pictures outside), and the second is slightly less high waisted and more bootcut (with the anchor on the pocket and pictures in the corner). I don’t prefer super skinny jeans anyway, but the bootcut ones are straight from knee to hem.

side

As suggested, I used the heavier weight to make the bootcut, and the lighter weight for the skinny jeans, and I think it worked out lovely that way. I’m not sure that the skinny ones would be as comfortable with the thicker denim, and they are super comfortable as is.

The skinny ones I made in October, as a celebration after this huge presentation I had to give, and I finished the bootcut this past weekend. The skinnies have pockets and facing from the same fabric I used to remake my grandmother’s project bag, and the bootcut have this cool batik and metallic quilting cotton as pockets.

front

The bootcut pair, made out of the thicker denim, has the same issue as my Ripples pair of stretching out. Because I finished them the day before I left to visit my family for the holidays, I made this large dart up the center back and dealt with it, but I’m debating on cutting a new waistband and attaching it. I realized a few wears in that both stretching out pairs are self faced and not interfaced, which could be the problem. My new skinnys have quilting cotton as a facing, and they don’t stretch at all. Which is good and bad, but overall more of what I want. But I wanted to post these anyway!

pockets

Overall, there’s not much more I can say about these. I altered the yoke a bit on the bootcut, since it was very high on all high waisted pairs for me, but beyond that this is the version of the pattern I’ll use in the future for more pairs, when needed!

side**Post 2 of the last minute 2016 crunch… One more tonight, and another tomorrow! Then the wrap up will commence, right in time for the new year!

Dancing Shoes

Have I ever told you that I ballroom dance?

I think I have, since I judge nearly every make involving a skirt for its swishability, but just in case, this is your warning!

So I go to social ballroom events monthly, and typically more often than that, especially during the semester. And that means I almost always have the “But what should I wear!!” problem…

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This summer and fall I rectified this by altering a vintage dress, and making a gathered maxi skirt.

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Now, the vintage peach dress fit me nearly perfectly off the rack. It would fit better if I wore a vintage bra, but that would require me having one…

It looks to be a handmade dress, as there’s no label, but if it isn’t then it’s been drastically altered. It looks to me like a 50’s dress, and the seam lines are so interesting that I considered buying it regardless of if it fit me…

peach2

But it did, and that made me quite pleased. Until I tried to take it off, and couldn’t manage. It had a side zipper and slipped over my head with little issue, but then I couldn’t get the dress over my lack-of-biceps… Luckily I had a friend with me in the thrift store.

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However, I did not have a friend around a few days later when I got stuck in it again, around midnight. So I seam ripped and carefully cut my way out of the sleeve. It felt like a real workout by this point. I seam ripped the zipper out, and sewed up the side seam, and input a center back zipper. It’s not my best work, but it’s passable in person.

I also took up the hem of the “slip” underlayer a bit, since it was at an awkward length for me originally, and left the tulle lace layer alone. Every time I touch that layer, though, I seem to tear the tulle, so I try my best to be careful, but I’ve mended some of the big tears, and I have more to do.

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So then a few months later I wanted to make a new skirt to help get me out of my fall funk, and I put together this maxi skirt together out of a length of what seems like curtain fabric and some heavy lining fabric. So I call it my Giselle skirt… Get it?

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The lining is cut in a nearly A-line shape, and I gathered the curtain to put it into the dress. As it’s a border print, I cut off some of the top and saved the bottom hem. I aimed the hem to be about an inch off the ground when in my ballroom heels, and it may be a smidge short, but it’s still plenty long.

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But when I realized that I still needed a closure, and to take in the waist, I decided to try a temporary closure, which I haven’t yet fixed. I’m using some hook and eyes to provide shaping, and I pull the maxi skirt over my head for “closure,” so that the skirt stays above my hips, but still falls nicely. It works especially well with bodysuits, so that’s been my pairing of choice.

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This is the first of a series of posts labeled: “Annabelle’s Last Chance to post 2016…” Be prepared for a small influx this week…

Got any clothes that you pair with a specific activity (beyond workout wear)?

Amber Julia Cardigan

This is an absolutely lovely cardigan, and it has really changed my mind about a pattern.

But first some backstory…

I learned how to hold a grudge from my mother. Sometimes I still think she hates this one girl that was in my third grade class who screwed me over on a group project. (Over 10 years ago, mind you. Well over.)judge

Now, I’ve learned to form opinions on people and things rather quickly, and only change it with careful thought and lots of evidence (and I’ve got forgetfulness on my side… my mom doesn’t, so she needs lots of evidence).

So when I change my mind on a pattern due to a second try, something really has to win me over (I’m looking at you electric hand mixers. It’ll take a lot of work for me to give you a third chance). And the Julia cardigan from Mouse House Creations has done it.

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Last time, I used a one way stretch jersey (which was admittedly a mistake) and the version of the pattern that has an unfinished collar, because I didn’t have enough fabric for two. I wear the cardi a lot, but it’s mostly because it’s a nice green color for my wardrobe, and not because it’s comfortable. It also rides up a lot, which bugged me a bit, and doesn’t like to stay on my shoulders. I think it’s mostly a fabric symptom, now that I’ve made another.

Part of the reason it worked better this time is definitely the fabric, and this rather weighty and drapey jersey is it. I got it from a mystery fabric warehouse, but it feels like a rayon lycra blend, and for the thickness its heavy and perfectly scrumptious. It also has terrible recovery.

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I used the double collar version this time, since I had just enough fabric. I also made it long sleeved, which was nice. When I finished it, I immediately wore put it on (strings floating around and all), and I noticed a few things. For one, I forgot to cut the armscye out, since I never cut the bodice pieces, which would work for both sleeveless when uncut and sleeved when trimmed a bit. Also the sleeves were ginormous in both length and width at my wrists. But on the whole, the whole cardigan worked!

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Before I wore it again, I unpicked the top of the sleeve, trimmed the bodice back and restitched the sleeve. I also skinned the sleeve and shortened it… And it grew once more in length. The new width is acceptable to me, because I often squish it up to my elbows, which works well with the sweater. The length bothered me though, so before I wore it a third time, I topstiched the cuff seam allowance down, and I created thumb holes! (And now a few weeks later, I re-attached the cuff even higher up the sleeve, and now the thumb holes are a bit short, but still doable, and nicer volume when I inevitably push up the sleeves to my elbow.)

And I’m in love!

It does help that this color is a good match to my wardrobe. I’ve noticed that my wardrobe is rather bimodal in color scheme. It’s either cool jewel tones or fall colors (and black which I’m not counting). And this cardigan works for both! I love it with bright indigo/royal blues, and I love it with olive green, and it’s just lovely overall.

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Can you tell how much I love it?

Got a favorite sweater that works with almost all of your wardrobe?

(Oh, and if you’re reading this in December 2016, I’m about to write another progress post on my early winter sewing plan for this week… It’ll post tomorrow. With pictures this time!)