Pink Ice Cream

After years of min-maxing my sewing stats, it’s not totally surprising that I like most of the pants I sew, while shirts are hit and miss. This one is a wearable miss. It checks off the essentials; it is a shirt, I think it’s reasonably well-made, I like the fabric, it fits my body. But if my list of its qualities starts with ‘it is a shirt’ you can probably tell it’s not a love match.  

This is a Seamwork Natalie blouse which in retrospect I shouldn’t have sized up. Alternatively, I should have sized up way, way more. This is a 12, one size up from my recommended 10, and instead of feeling breezy and effortless it’s just a bit big. Camp collars, y’all. I was aiming for safari style; I landed in the service sector. I’m basically dressed as the top 50% of the waitress in this Bleachers video (the irony being that I’d rather dress like Jack Antonoff and I have nobody to blame but myself!!).    

I only made tiny changes to the pattern, by adding a pocket and straightening the sleeve hems. I also used cream quilting cotton instead of interfacing. I’m not convinced I’ve been attaching interfacing well enough, as I’ve had some bubbling in the wash lately, and since most of the facing is freely moving within the shirt, I didn’t want to risk it. It made the facing a bit thick and independent-minded – hopefully it’ll get washed and worn into submission. I invisibly tacked down each side underneath the centermost corner of the pockets, but they still have occasional fits of exuberance and try to roll free. No. Stop it. Conform.

 I almost ditched the chest pockets halfway through. They kept squashing out of shape regardless of staystitching, pressing, etc., so the only iron-on interfacing is on the back of the pockets, with the seam allowances removed, to keep them on the rectangular-and-symmetrical path. It was that or throw them in the scrap box. Even though I’m not convinced they add much, I grudgingly allow that they are not too bulky, despite the double-folded box pleat at the top hem. Originally I planned to place the pleat intake on the inside but I was worried that any deep breaths would make it look like my boobs were talking and/or blinking. Nightmare averted?

I borrowed the pocket placement from my Sewaholic Granville pattern. I was surprised to see it didn’t cover the Natalie dart end – the Granville dart extends further – but for once my bust darts seem to be pointing in the right direction, and I wasn’t going to rock the boat.

I edgestitched the facings but found my stitching line upsettingly wobbly (this fabric was happy to meet an iron and it eased nicely, but it was squishier than most cotton/linens, not to mention it frayed like a sonofagun – actually, it was kind of a hot jerk) so I unpicked that sewing and replaced it with short horizontal lines.

In a partially-successful attempt to keep the facing at the back neck in place, I added a little stitched box where the collar would hide it.

You can see the fabric pretty well there; it’s a new-to-me version of Kaufman’s cotton/linen, Essex Speckled Yarn Dyed. It’s a pretty icy pink and I love speckles, but I mostly bought it because I pointed it out to Professor Boyfriend at the store and said “Look! Pink ice cream!” before realizing the actual name was “Gelato”. It was destiny. “Pink ice cream” is a reference to a monumental temper tantrum I had at age three. I screamed for ice cream for hours, one for each year of my life (I got it, too – I tell my students this story with the moral “if you scream long enough…”). As near as I can guess pink ice cream was strawberry, which continues to be one of my favorite-ever flavors, so there yah go.

I had a heck of a time choosing buttons for it; dark buttons looked objectively nice but the high contrast kind of summoned a Pink Lady energy, mother-of-pearl was too feminine for me, the wood option was too big, etc.. I bought these buttons, unsure if I would use them but convinced I just needed to get something, to add a little chocolate and vanilla to the strawberry ice cream – Neapolitan buttons.

This is a reasonably breezy blend but eh. I did not achieve the summer safari sensation I wanted. I’ve mostly been wearing this blouse open over a tank for sun protection, but I’m just unenthusiastic! I know some people lose interest in dressing for fun in winter, but that’s me in summer. I don’t have a ‘character’ for summer, just a repeatedly thwarted urge to pass myself off as an extra in The Mummy. If you’ve got a go-to pattern for breezy summer button-ups, I’d love to see it.

Stay hydrated, Northern Hemisphere! Southern Hemisphere – you have my envy.

Pattern: Seamwork Natalie

Pattern cost: NA

Size: 12

Supplies: 2 yards of Essex Speckled Yarn Dyed Gelato cotton/linen, $26.96, Gather Here; buttons, Gather Here, $4.20; thread, Michael’s, $2.39

Total time: 7.5 hours

Total cost: $32.55

Slash-neck Astoria

For sheer relentlessness, you can’t beat Seamwork. I pretty quickly realized that I couldn’t keep up with the deluge of new patterns, but I still have a few from way back when. Of those, one of the ones I most wanted to sew again was the Astoria sweater.

I was inspired by the relaxed Astoria I saw over on I Think I Can Sew It; my first version of this sweater (never blogged) has a tighter, preppier, sweater-bunny kind of fit. It doesn’t layer over things and it tends to creep up. I didn’t want to recreate that look, so I sewed a size L, slightly up from my measurements. And as you can see I altered the neckline to be a slash neck!

I don’t have any patterns with that particular feature, but I thought I could figure it out, and it seems to have worked. This polyester sweater knit was perfect for proof of concept (that’s my diplomatic way of saying “cheap”). I had to buy the end of bolt so I have a strange amount left over, but it was still a bargain.

Steps are below – next time I would use a more generous belly-up curve for the line that bridges the neckline, instead of cutting it almost level, but this worked well enough for a trial run! The most important thing to remember is that you need to finish the edges of your neckline fabric separately, if you decide they need finishing, and not together.

And here’s how it went!

The front is okay, but my stitching is decidedly wobbly on the back neck! It’s a) basically impossible to photograph and b) not a fabric that was particularly happy to be stitch picked, so I’m living with it. I’m mostly jazzed with the fit I got by sizing up, but next time I’d remove a wedge from the center back neck, as it’s not only wobbly, it’s gaping. I suppose it’s due to a nascent dowager’s hump (now if only I had a nascent dower house).  

I felt best using a zig-zag stitch for my topstitching, but of course a double needle is always an option, and you could possibly get away with a straight stitch if you have a wide enough neckline (or a small enough walnut).

The size L sleeves were a little long; I could have trimmed them but in the end I just folded the wide sleeve hems over twice, because I thought sleeves that were slightly too short would be better than sleeves that were slightly too long, especially in cream fabric. It turns out I shove them up to my elbows either way, but they are neater looking inside as a result!

I finished my neckline edges with a serger and sewed my sleeves in flat. I avoid serging in the round whenever possible, so instead of constructing the shirt and the shirt band as two units and joining at the waist, I sewed each unfolded band to each shirt piece, then sewed the side seams from sleeve end to the far edge of the band, making sure the shirt/band seams were pressed down. After folding the band in half I topstitched from the right side to trap the second, inner edge of the band, which I left raw. I could have sewn them as two units, joined them, and then left all the seam allowances raw since I’m so leary of serging in a circle, but that literally just occurred to me now. Oops!  

There’s excess fabric in the armpits but that’s the style now, grandpa! Or actually, that’s not something I feel is a problem comfort-wise, nor a fit issue I notice on other people, and it doesn’t bother me here. Loose-ish = extra-ish fabric, that’s just the deal.   

I had to reprint my Astoria pattern (I lost my last copy), and the Illustrator file wasn’t locked, which I love. Not only was I able to select just the lines for my preferred size, I could also arrange the pattern pieces in a new document to print as efficiently as possible, and I fit the whole shebang onto 12 8.5”x11” sheets of paper. I don’t expect pattern companies to supply individual ultra-efficient print layouts for each size, but I’m really happy when the files are editable and I can do it myself.

I like this sweater more than I expected to. I’m not troubled by high necks, so I just feel very cozy! Unfortunately, I have a feeling that the fabric will age ungracefully. If I make another, with higher-quality fabric, I might do away with the separate band altogether and just integrate it into the shirt front/back. It’s not impossible to tuck it in as-is – my high-waisted bottoms are generally high enough to cover that seam – but it could be better.

I’ll probably stick this in a drawer for the next few months – we went for a weekend away in the Berkshires, where we took these pictures, and it was 45 and raining the whole time (it was amazing, actually, I read a book and ate scones and watched Midsomer Murders), but one week later it’s about to be 90 forever. Blergh. Holler at me if you find more pattern gold in that swift-flowing Seamwork river!

Pattern: Seamwork Astoria sweater

Pattern cost: NA

Size: L

Supplies: 1.75 yards of polyester sweater knit in Cream, Sewfisticated, $8.73; thread from stash

Total time: 2.5 hours

Total cost: $8.73

Buzzwords

Hi all! What’s the buzz?

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Oh, is it the base of my Halloween costume? It is!

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One of these days I’d like to cut loose and make a COSTUME, we’re talking something that needs super specific underwear and maybe you have to crouch to get through doorways, but in the meantime (as in, as long as I stay in my beloved but closet-less apartment) I pull together costumes from daywear. You could be forgiven for thinking “This? A costume? No, no, sir” which, like, fair enough. Though there are more posterboard components for the night itself.

Anyway, I’m a Spelling Bee! (Professor Boyfriend, not pictured, is a Spelling Beekeeper. His veil is dotted with yellow and black striped capital letter “B”s.). Whereas I’m, basically, a nerdy bee? The sewn elements are a pair of Afternoon Patterns Fern shorts, which I covered thoroughly here, and a Seamwork Natalie blouse.

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Nothing much to say about the shorts except that they’d match the concept better in black, but I found this grey linen locally for $3/yard, so yeah, SOLD.

One of the best parts of working in an elementary school is that you can have serious in-depth conversations about Halloween costumes. During one of these, a six-grade visionary suggested I add suspenders to my outfit, which: yes! They really cinch the Poindexter vibe! It’s just suspender clips and black ribbon, so only aesthetic, no support. I actually already had these – a couple years ago I got smitten with the idea of suspenders just long enough to order the clips, and I wore them maybe twice before the day I paired them with culottes and a leotard and had to reenact The Great Escape when I wanted to pee.

The ‘bee-siest’ piece is this top. I’ve been thinking about the Natalie blouse for a while and I’m glad I finally made one! In recent months I’ve been glibly converting regular collars to camp collars and then moaning that they don’t sit right, but actually following directions to learn a new skill seems to have worked better, TELL EVERYONE. I think the trick is in the width of the facing. The plackets curl open close to, but not over, the edge of the facing. It mildly stresses me out that it’s just tacked down inside and not topstitched, but maybe that’s an important ingredient too?  

I did add three additional buttons between the four recommended ones. More stitching is better stitching.

This top certainly fits, but I should have picked my size more wisely. I sewed an 8 bust graded to a 10 waist. Thanks to the boxy fit it’s not tight anywhere, but the shoulders are too narrow.

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Ideally, the shoulder seam would sit 1/2” – 1” further out. I think I’ll retrace the pattern in a straight size 12. The good news is I know already that I won’t need to grade for my hips!

Oh, a note on plaid-matching – I remembered to match the side seams below the bust dart, but completely forgot about the sleeves. Oh, well. Though, it’s been a while since I’ve set a sleeve in the round, not to mention I French-seamed it, and it is sitting pretty smoothly! So it might be in the wrong place, it might not match the plaid, but I’m calling it good!

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I probably won’t wear these bits as an outfit together after Halloween (contrary to everything about my personality, I’m not actually putting effort into being a nerd), but separately, yes, for sure. Do you dress up for Halloween? And if you do, do you try to keep the pieces wearable in daily life, or do you go wild?

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Either way – Happy Halloween! 😈

Pattern: Afternoon Patterns Fern shorts

Pattern cost: NA

Size: D at waist, E at lower hip + thigh

Supplies: 2 yards of linen blend, Sewfisticated, $5.98; zipper, Sewfisticated, $1.40; thread, rivet from stash

Total time: 4 hours

Total cost: $7.38

Pattern: Seamwork Natalie

Pattern cost: $3

Size: 8 at bust, 10 at waist

Supplies: 2 yards of Kaufman Sevenberry: Classic Plaid Twill Plaid Yellow, fabric.com, $24.24; thread, buttons from stash

Total time: 5.25 hours

Total cost: $27.24

Summer of Love, Part Five: Farewell, My Lovely

This is my final post in the Summer of Love series. I decided to include one more outfit – not one that got worn publicly much, but one I made just for me!

Luckily I only travelled locally for the weddings etc., but when I did spend a night away from home, I wanted to wear something a bit more fun than my everyday jimjams (I had a sort of instinct that my usual grey tee/sweatpants combo wasn’t maximum festive). Rare Device has a lovely post on investing in the clothes you wear when you’re by yourself, and while self love or care has been monetized almost past recognition, I thought my celebratory PJs were still worthy of being the finale of my Summer of Love. Not to mention I spent several weekends after the binge lounging around and recovering my social appetite and you know I spent that time in pajamas!

This post is a little disingenuous though – because while I made this robe/nightie combo last summer, I didn’t make the robe really truly wearable until the Sewcialists announced the Over/Under theme month. So 1. Oops and 2. Hooray!

The pattern is Seamwork Almada, and I fell for it immediately on its release. Many robes seem to be a collection of rectangles, but I thought the Almada looked like an Erté illustration, like an elegant twenties egg. I also loved the double gauze Seamwork used for their sample. It took me a while to make this pattern since it called for 3 ½ yards of fabric, and I was saving my credit card cashback rewards until I had enough for the big dog – Nani Iro! This is a fabric from her (their?) Rakuen collection.

I sewed a size large, originally with no changes. I was surprised at the Seamwork directions; I assumed that a pattern that called for luxurious fabrics would also call for fine finishing. Especially given that it only has four seams, I would have recommended French seams. They didn’t, but I used them anyway! I also invisibly hand-sewed the bias binding that finishes the opening – easy to do on double gauze, because you can just pick up the inner layer with your needle.    

My favorite homemade bias binding is from this super-soft grey-green-khaki cotton that goes with absolutely everything.

I needed every inch of my yardage – that’s how I ended up with the printed selvage visible inside one sleeve cuff!

I swanned around in my finished robe from time to time, admiring the fabric, but I didn’t use it much as a practical thing. The ties were placed low and wide, buuut so are my hips. The robe required too much arranging and tugging and still wouldn’t stay shut. I wore it as intended for wedding travel because inconsistent coverage was better than none, but after a year of non-use, I FINALLY unpicked and reattached the ties. And only because of Over/Under month!

Half an hour of sewing to move the ties six inches up and six inches towards the center, and now my fancy robe finally fits!

Double gauze is soft and vibrant, it’s like wearing a whisper, and it’s generally easy to sew. When topstitching, however, a friend of mine described it as “like sewing bread”.

Not my neatest sewing ever, but eulalia! I can wear it now!

On the other hand, there’s almost nothing to the nightie – no special saving for fabric, no long-awaited sew, no last-minute rescue. Just a 7” lengthened Ogden cami from leftover fabric I didn’t have quite enough of to make daywear. It’s my all-time favorite summer nightgown.

Love strikes willy-nilly!

Thus concludes my Summer of Love! See you soon, I hope, for more everyday dressing. : )

Previous Summer of Love: here (part one), here (part two), here (part three), and here (part four).

Pattern:  Seamwork Almada

Pattern cost: $3

Size: L, with the ties moved

Supplies: 3.5 yards Nani Iro Gauze in Rakuen Flower, Etsy, $69.20; thread from stash

Total time: 5.5 hours

Total cost: $72.20

Pattern: Ogden cami

Pattern cost: NA

Size: 8 at bust, 14 at hip

Supplies: leftover rayon poplin from stash, thread from stash

Total time: 2.25 hours

Total cost: $0.00

 

Syd and Ruth

Once again I picked a sewing project by seeing a shirt on my TV and thinking “COME LIVE IN MY HOUSE”. In this case my jumping off point was the orange blouse worn by the character Syd in the season 2 pilot of Legion, a show that – it’s real weird. I like it, though! Syd in particular is a refreshing take on the trope ‘the girl who can’t be touched’. It’s the job of everyone else in the story not to touch her, and she doesn’t apologize for it. What’s not to like? : )

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The show’s costumes are often wonderful and inspiring (Oliver! Tracksuits! Lenny!) but I’m a classic sucker for a camp collar. Ruth isn’t a complete ringer but it was close enough to get the ball rolling.

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First things first: my shirt’s not orange. It’s not easy to find the perfect tangerine, especially as oranges in fabric stores lately seem to be skewing red (just me?). Also, this pattern has cut-on sleeves, not set-in sleeves, but I feel like that change (as well as pockets) is pretty easily added to another draft. You can’t see the bottom of Syd’s shirt, and I couldn’t find a still that showed it clearly, but hers fastens with a big bow over her left hip – totally achievable to add and sew, but I liked the skinny little tie and kept it! Bad copycat!

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The only visible change I made to the pattern was hemming the top with what’s essentially a waistband, a long rectangle folded over itself. The official Seamwork blouse variation calls for a peplum but I scorned their pepluminations. My band features a single button. It’s doing most of the work of keeping the layers aligned.

But the real MVP is the safety pin tucked under the collar lapel at the center front!

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Do you see that deep cavernous shadow where the shirt fronts overlap? You can tell it’s buckling like crazy. It’s at least 1.5” too long, probably more like 2.5”. I’ve avoided true wraps because of this ongoing problem, but reading bra blogs helped me pinpoint the issue. I have an extremely wide-set bust (I can lay four fingers flat on my chest before touching the nearby topography), so any shirt that has added length for travelling across a bumpier landscape is taking an unnecessary detour, let’s say. I don’t need any extra length to cover what’s essentially a flat surface. (Fun fact: it took us two tries to get these photos, because the first time we tried the ambient light was bouncing off the cloud cover and my sternum like a couple of professional-quality reflectors and blowing out all the photos.) Actually, and I shudder to admit this, the front length might need to be shorter than the back length because of my poor posture and habit of hunching my shoulders.

Did you just throw your shoulders back while reading that? I know I did while writing it!

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The back is blousy even though it’s darted, which I like! Short ‘n’ wide is the name of my shirt game. It tends to ride up on the sides though. This is definitely a shirt I futz with while wearing, but it’s possible a set-in sleeve would mitigate its tendency to creep up when I talk with my arms.

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I added a back facing because I guess duh, but also because I experienced full yawning incomprehension when reading the collar directions. I still don’t know what they were asking me to do, but surely a facing is easier?

Fun fact number 2: one of the first garments I sewed was a dress, and I was scared of sewing my first zipper. Surprisingly the zipper went in easily while instead the facing completely kicked my butt. It was years later when I realized I had traced the facing for a different neckline view than the one I used for the dress.

If you ignore the baffling mirepoix that was the collar installation section of the directions, it’s also really straightforward to French seam everything. So I did, yay!

I’m not usually a dress person, but I would consider sewing the Ruth dress as written. It went together nicely and despite my fit woes I like the shape. Even better, I’d sew this again as my tangerine dream, pop on some black gloves and call myself Syd.

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Arriverderci!

 

Pattern: Seamwork Ruth

Pattern cost: $0.50

Size: 8

Supplies: 3 meters of block print cotton, Etsy, $28.47; thread from stash

Total time: 6.25 hours

Total cost: $28.97