Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Southport Dress Two \\ Summer Plaid

After wearing and enjoying my first one last weekend, I decided to make a second Southport Dress by True Bias, View A, yesterday. This fabric had been in my stash since last summer and I had intended to make a Cashmerette Springfield top from it.  I hate to say it, since the Springfield does fit me pretty well, but I think the neckline and shoulders fit me better in the Southport Dress! I see Southport tops in my future...

This was super quick to sew up. I cut the fabric one day and then it took me another full day to sew everything up.  Not bad for a custom new dress.

This fabric is a 100% cotton, and it's kind of a partial seersucker. It has stripes of seersucker and striped of plain fabric, which makes for a fun texture. I really like the idea of this fabric, but it is super flawed. After washing it, it has become obvious that there are several spots that look like what I can only describe as 'weaving errors' - it looks like the weft threads never passed through the warp threads in certain areas.

That's okay though!  I was treating it as another wearable muslin, and will enjoy it while it lasts. And hey, I might get to try out some decorative patching.

The fabric was a very small monetary investment ($10 or so), and any time investment I put in was after I knew what the problems were with the fabric, so that's on me.  I have decided that I will not be purchasing more fabric from the place that I bought this one, as they seem to have frequent quality issues, aren't close by, and have terrible customer service. I'll focus on getting my fabric from one of the really lovely local purveyors.

Back to the dress...


I cut the front bodice piece on the fold at the 'center front' line, which is clearly marked on the pattern, for a non-buttons version, and apart from keeping my 1 inch (total) bust adjustment, and adding 2 inches in length to the skirt, everything else was as drafted originally.

When I wore my polka-dotted Southport Dress on the weekend, it seemed to be riding up in the front a little bit. You couldn't tell by looking at it, but I definitely could feel it.  I thought it might have been because I had moved the shoulder seam back by half an inch, which is part of the reason I wanted to muslin this again.  I'm also pleased to say that moving the shoulder seam back to where it was originally in the pattern has put the seam right exactly where it should be on my shoulder.

I'm feeling the same pulling with this version, and actually it's not really 'pulling' as much as it feeling like there really just isn't enough fabric length to go over my bust in the front of the dress.  Somehow, it's up about an inch from my natural waist at the I'll be adding an inch to the bodice length on my next version.

I think I'll also leave out the pockets next time. I LOVE POCKETS!! I do not love the excessive bulk that these ones are adding to my hips.

I ended up cutting the drawstring casing on the wrong grain, because I had 45 inch wide fabric, and the casing piece is over 46 inches that wasn't going to work. My fabric didn't have much more stretch one way than the other, so it worked out just fine.  Also, because the dress cinches in with the drawstring, there's not really any stretch needed in the drawstring casing.

The one other change I think I'll make next time is having the bottom of the skirt come in less at the bottom. It feels just a little more restrictive than I'd like.  I'm not set on this though, and will likely make - or not make - the change at the last minute when I sew this one again.


I really like that I was able to make matching bias tape to finish the armhole and neckline.  I actually managed to get into a real groove, and ended up chain piecing it - and making an absolute ton of it.

chain pieced bias tape in the making

I also figured out that I had been using my bias tape maker upside down (???), which was making it much more challenging to press the bias tape properly, but once I switched it over, it was easy peasy (with the raw edges facing down instead of up).

I love the summery red plaid! It is light weight, interesting to look at (but not too interesting - neutral lover over here!), and just has a perfect summer feel. Perfect for escorting the kids to the splash pad or playground on these hot July days.

I was a little worried that omitting the button bands and cutting the front on the fold would effect the fit (I'm not sure why), and make it not fit as well in the shoulders/armholes, but it didn't, and it fits well.

I'm excited to continue to play with this pattern and further perfect the fit. I think I'll likely tackle a maxi dress version of this next, and then maybe make some shirts with the bodice pattern. 

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Trying Out Something New...Hopping On The Bloglovin Bandwagon

I've been trying for years to find a replacement for Google Reader to keep track of the blogs I follow, and I haven't had any luck. I found out recently that the one I've been using isn't actually updating the feeds because the number of blogs I follow is over their very low limit for a free account. This has pushed me to give Bloglovin a try as my feed reader, and while I'm at it, I figured I'm make it easy for you to follow my blog on Bloglovin too. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

True Bias // Southport Dress

I fell in love with the True Bias Southport Dress that Cashmerette posted on her blog and I knew I had to make it.  I also knew if Cashmerette could rock it, I had a good chance too!  Spoiler alert:

IT'S A WINNER!!!! I <3 Southport!

True Bias is graded for a C cup, which I am not, but the way I choose which size to make was by taking my under bust measurement and adding 3 inches to it (for the A, B, C cup), then choosing the size that had the bust measurement that matched mine most closely.  Had I chosen the size based on my bust measurement, I would have cut the 18, but my formula had me cut the 16.

I cut a 16 in the shoulders and bust, then graded out to the 18 at the waist of the bodice starting under the bust dart.

checking the fit after muslining the bodice

Playing around with tissue fitting, it looked like I needed to move the shoulder seam towards the back by .5", so while I was at it, I also moved the shoulder seam back by .5" by adding .5" to the top of the front shoulder and removing .5" from the back shoulder.  After sewing my muslin, I ended up reversing this and just doing the shoulders as the pattern had them in the first place. Sometimes tissue fitting leads me astray...

Tissue fitting this pattern had it looking good width-wise, but I was still on the fence about adding a 1 inch full bust adjustment (half an inch to each front piece).  From the pattern pictures, the bodice looks a little 'blousy' so I ended up doing the 1 inch full bust adjustment to the pattern before the muslin stage, figuring a probably couldn't go too wrong with such a small change, especially since my bust was nearly 3 inches larger than the 16 calls for (the blousy-ness is saving me here).

checking the dart placement after muslining the bodice

With tissue fitting, it was a little hard to tell how much length I needed to remove from the bodice.  I knew it would be something (I'm short, 5'4", and super short-waisted).  I didn't want to play around with guessing, so at this point I made a muslin.

What I Learned From The Muslin

  • As mentioned above, I needed to put the shoulder seam back where it started.
  • The shoulder width and overall armscye length fit great!
  • I needed to shorten the bodice length by 1.75 inches.

I pinned the front of the muslin closed along the button band, and then placed a pin parallel to the ground at my natural waist, which was 2 inches from the bottom of the bodice.  I needed to add the seam allowance back in to that though, so I would have had to reduce the overall length by 1.5 inches to have it end at my natural waist.

I read that the drawstring casing is attached to the top of the skirt, and I wanted this to fall right at the middle of my natural waist, so I needed to know exactly how much length would be added by that piece (without seam allowances, it was half an inch), so I divided this number in half and removed that amount from the bodice as well.  This made the total length removed from the bodice 1.75 inches.  The drawstring casing actually didn't add any length to the bodice or skirt because it is attached to the top inch and a bit of skirt, so I was totally wrong on how I went about removing more length, but it worked out fine in the end, and the waistband hits in the right spot.

I added 2 inches to the skirt length, since I like my skirts to come basically right to my knee.

my new kitchen atelier 

I was just planning to muslin the bodice and then go on to my 'good' fabric, but I really liked the look of the polka dots and had just enough to keep going with it, so I ripped the seams I had made for the muslin, re-cut the bodice (I was able to place the shortened pattern piece on the fabric I already cut, and re-cut, even though I had removed the length at the lengthen/shorten line).  The only thing I wasn't able to do was move the shoulder seams back to where they were supposed to be, but they're fine. I'm still considering this version of this dress to be a muslin, just with finished seams.  Now I am familiar with all the construction and I know that I won't be cutting into my good fabric for nothing.

I made my own bias tape using this tutorial on an easy way to cut it, and this tutorial on how to sew it and use my bias tape maker that I bought 10+ years ago and never used.  Making my own bias tape was surprisingly fun and now I'm thinking of all the fun bias tapes I could make for future neck and arm holes.

The single fold bias tape was really easy to apply, and will definitely make me dread bias taped armholes and necklines much less. Previously I've preferred making a facing because it feels like the easier way, but I haven't used the single fold bias tape before.

I had originally planned to use some buttons from my stash for this dress - and I've been waffling on whether or not to make functional buttonholes - but when it came down to it, I really didn't have anything that went very well, resulting in a late Friday night trip to Walmart.  I picked up bagels, found 3 packs of possible button candidates, and witnessed a fistfight...and I had told my hairdresser I didn't have any plans for the night! Ha!

The pattern calls for 1/4"-3/8" buttons, which are super tiny, and surprisingly hard to find at Walmart (this was my first foray into Walmart supplies, and it definitely not my preference).  The buttons I found are 9/16ths (14mm), which is slightly over half an inch. I think it still goes with the button band though and doesn't look out of place.

I had to figure out how large to make my button holes though, and since I had taken length off the bodice, I had to re-draw where the buttons would go on the guide anyway. I made the buttonholes 2 centimeters long, with 3 centimeters between each button.

To figure out the length that the buttonhole should be, I took the button width and added 1/8" to each side, which worked really well (1/4 inch total).  I still had plenty of room for 4 buttons on the bodice. I think I would have needed to add at least 2-3 extra buttons if I had used smaller buttons and kept the front as long as it was originally. I definitely would have had gaping.

I sew on a Bernina 1230 that was made in 1992.  I bought it (used, obvs) in 2010 from someone whose mom had owned the machine and recently passed away. It needed some maintenance, but was in really great shape, with lots of presser feet and accessories. It was $$$$ for an old machine and a 2 hour drive away, but it has been a wonderful machine, sewing through anything with ease and never giving me any hassles.

part of my 'fleet': Bernina 1230 and a Juki 654DE 

Last year, when I made my first Kalle Shirt, I used it for buttonholes for the first time, and it gave me big hassles.  The zigzag stitch on the right side of the buttonhole had the tension way off, and no amount of adjusting, re-threading, using the little arm thread-through hole in the bobbin case, etc made any difference.

I ended up finding a service manual online and found the description of my problem right away. I had to put the machine into maintenance mode and go through a bunch of steps, then test with one of the decorative stitches (if it needed adjusting, that particular decorative stitch wouldn't look right, and that would effect the buttonhole zigzag on one side).  Anyway, I whole bunch of fiddling in maintenance mode later, and I had fixed the issue!  Side note: if this is happening with your machine, you should probably take it in for service, as it's a pretty easy fix for someone who knows what they're doing (surprisingly, dh and I have serviced quite a number of sewing machines over the last 10 years), and can easily really screw up your machine if you don't.

My tension is now great, but only if I don't use the hole in the bobbin case that changes the tension. The really nice thing is that I don't have to adjust any of the settings on my sewing machine to get it to sew a nice buttonhole now - just push the buttonhole button and get sewing.

left is threading through the little bobbin case arm, right is not threading through the little arm

I tried a new way to mark where I wanted my buttonholes to start and stop this time, since previously I've struggled to see the lines at the stop and start, and to keep things straight.  You can see here that I did a chalk line down the middle of where I wanted to buttonholes to go, and then used a pin at the side of my fabric for the top and bottom of the buttonhole, and an extension of the pin with chalk into the actual line of fire. It worked well for me and I will be using this technique again in the future -

I also learned that it is possible to sew on a button using a regular zigzag stitch! I followed this blog post and it worked for me, but your mileage may vary.  For the test button and the first two buttons on the dress I just turned the hand wheel manually because I was scared something would go wrong, but it went really well!  Sewing on buttons is my absolute least favourite thing to do with sewing and knitting.

Final Impressions

This fabric is scraaaaaaatchy af.  I bought it on sale (for maybe $5 a meter) at Fabricland at the end of last summer.  It has basically no drape, isn't soft (potato sack), and is a bit more see-through than I'd like, but I am considering this pattern and this dress a 100% complete win.

I like that it is 100% cotton, love the polka dots, and the black and white feels very 'me'.  Southport was really FUN to make! I actually enjoyed the entire process for once (haha).  That drawstring waist makes it easy to get a good fit, and my bra straps/band don't peek through from the dress at all.  I am SHOCKED by how well the shoulders fit me.

I probably could have got away with cutting a 16 in the waist/hips too, instead of grading up to the 18, but I like the bit of extra fabric. It would probably be more flattering if my fabric had some drape to it, but I am really comfortable in this dress and will absolutely wear it.

It is absolutely the perfect thing to wear to my Nana's memorial tomorrow.  She was a seamstress, and I feel like I definitely have her blood running through my veins.  This in an homage, a tribute to her, her legacy, and that she lives on in my heart.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Cashmerette Webster Top - Version 2

After having to shave a bunch of width off the sides of my first Webster (deets in my last post), I decided to try again and trace a different size. I traced a 14 C/D for the shoulders/bust, and graded out to an 18 C/D for the waist/hips, and kept the length consistent with the larger size too.

I'm using the same 100% cotton lawn Sevenberry Japanese fabric from Fabricana that I used last time, but this one has a white background (instead of navy blue). Here's a link.

I think this top would be much better with some better styling, but we're in a heat wave, and I just can't do it.  I envision this top being worn with my nave blue ponte Sabrina Slims pants by Love Notions, and a navy cardigan (maybe something like the Blackwood Cardigan by Helen's Closet).

I moved the bust dart down my 1 inch on this one, and reduced the length of the bust dart by 1 inch as well.

The above photo angle is a little misleading, but the bust dart could be moved up just a bit from were I moved it...actually with the size 14 C/D, I might be able to move it back to its original position.  For some reason it appears that the dart doesn't go within 1" of the apex of my bust, but it's pretty close in 'real life'.

A shot from the back (love those crisscross straps!) -

I decided to change up my technique for all of that stay stitching. I basically "chain pieced", so I didn't have to cut the thread after the stay stitching on each section. I think it reduced the time and tedium of the process nicely.

It's amazing how much faster this is to sew for the second time, even with having to re-trace the pattern. I'm already dreaming of a dress version...

I think I sewed the crisscross straps at just slightly the wrong angle at the top, and that had them also at slightly the wrong angle at the bottom. I didn't have my husband pin the bottom of the crisscross for me this time, and I used a pin and check method instead. The only problem with this way of doing it is that every time I moved, the crisscross moved too, and I couldn't seem to figure out a way to check the actual placement reliably.

For next time, I need to be more careful about getting the proper angle at the top of the crisscross and have help with the pinning and placement of the bottom of the crisscross. I think I might have sewn the crisscross at the wrong angle for the first version I made of this top too...oh well! It isn't super noticeable when I'm moving around, more so when I'm taking still photographs.

Now that it's all finished, I'm happy to say that I'm quite happy with it. It's just short enough that I can wear it with shorts without there being any question that I am wearing something on my bottom half.  It is a bit more billowy than it needs to be at the bottom though. If my fabric were more drapey, it would work better, but to me, it just looks like there's a bunch of excess fabric around my hips.

I think I'll only grade out to a 16 for the waist/hips next time. I can't believe what a different fit experience I'm having with this shirt vs the Springfield.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Cashmerette Webster Top and Love Notions Sabrina Slims

Back in March I bought some nice springy fabrics from Fabricana and due to some super unfortunate life circumstances, I didn't get to sew them up right away, even though I had planned to.  So here we are in July and I'm just getting to them now...

Cashmerette Webster Top

I bought a nice lightweight Japanese 100% cotton lawn floral (by Sevenberry) that I had planned to make into a Cashmerette Springfield (I've made 3 of these before), but I wanted to adjust the sizing and I didn't ever end up getting that particular pattern printed in large format. Side note: getting pdf patterns printed in large format has been one of the best things to happen to my sewing ever.

I wanted to get started on something yesterday, so I opted for the Cashmerette Webster (which I had previously had printed in large format).  I always trace out my patterns - previously on parchment paper, and now on medical supply paper (amazon has it). I like the medical supply paper because it is easy to tape, unlike the parchment paper.

serged edge of front facing piece
I traced the Webster yesterday afternoon, opting for a size 18 in the shoulders and bust and then out to the size 20 for the waist and hips. I wanted something really big and flowey, but I think this might be a big much for most fabrics, and I'll have to evaluate to see if I'd rather just cut an 18 straight down.

The sewing has been pretty time consuming - I think the stay stitching alone took longer than it takes me to sew up a Springfield top, but I'm happy with the results.  Stay stitching is always worth it.  Same with understitching, in my opinion.

When I knit, I'm a process knitter - I don't really care if I ever wear what I make. When I sew, it's a totally different story. I'm not a big fan of the process...I guess I am sometimes, but mainly I'm sewing for the finished garment.  When it's over, I'm glad it's done.

turned under edge of back facing piece

The way I have been getting through the Webster is by telling myself that if I enjoyed the process I'd be really having a great time - and trying to convince myself I'm having a good time. Surprisingly, I think that's actually working to some extent.

I'm using the Cashmerette Webster Sew Along, which makes everything nice and clear, and I've followed all the recommendations, except one - with the facing, she recommends turning it under twice and then stitching it down.  I did this for the two back facing pieces (with the help of some wash away wonder tape), and it seemed a bit bulky, so I just serged the raw facing edge on the front piece. After pressing, the folded version wasn't quite so bulky, so I'm really not sure which one I prefer.  The serging was faster and easier, but the folded one looks more 'finished'.

I also reduced the length of the bust darts by 1" (an alteration I've made to all my Springfields), and lowered it by about 1".  It does hit in a much better spot now.

I had my dh help me with the crisscross alignment, which was a huge help!

For the hem, I turned it under at the same time I stitched it, and then turned it under and stitched it again. This is my 'go-to' for light weight fabric hemming on a shirt.

Final impressions -

My measurements had me at an 18 C/D for the bust and a 20 C/D for the waist, which is why I traced the 18 for the shoulders/bust and graded out to the 20 for the waist/hips.  The shoulders/bust are waaaay too big on me. Like probably 4 inches...For my next top, I will trace a 14 C/D for the shoulders/bust, and grade out to an 18 at the hips. I don't mind the width of the 20 at the hips, but I think the proportions might look better at an 18, and it really isn't that much of a difference anyway.

Interestingly, cutting a 16 C/D in the Springfield, had me really wishing for a little more breathing room, which just goes to show how much more wearing ease the Webster has in comparison.  Although, looking at the finished bust measurements between the two patterns, there really isn't that much of a difference. Hmmm...

Update: I ended up shaving 1 inch off each side (for a total of 4 inches removed), and it fits much better. I will definitely cut a 14 C/D (in the shoulders/bust) next time for my 46" bust.

Love Notions Sabrina Slims

Much earlier this year, (or was it last year?) I participated in a sewalong on Facebook (it must have been last year or really early this year, because I've been off FB for nearly all of 2018), for the Love Notions Sabrina Slims - I think it was in the So Sew English Sew Alongs group.

I made many many muslins trying to get the crotch curve just right, and the slimness of the legs just right.  I actually had really great success and made myself a couple of pairs in black poly blend ponte, and a pair in floral stretch velvet.  The fit and look great, and nobody has asked if I made them. lol.

stretch velvet version

 I wanted to make another pair in a non-poly blend ponte, since the poly blend ponte really doesn't breathe, and the velvet are quite seasonal (and also poly - ugh!!).  Part of my spring fabric haul included some navy ponte in a nylon, rayon, lycra or something blend - no polyester.  I'm hoping this is better in the breathability department.  I haven't been able to find cotton blend ponte locally yet.

black poly blend ponte version - yes they're on inside out

Anyhoo...the reason I bought the navy ponte was to make some Sabrina Slims to go with the Japanese cotton floral I'm using for the Webster top, so I cut out the fabric for that yesterday as well.  It's super quick to cut, since ponte is so hassle free to cut (no rolling), and there aren't too many pieces. It's a small step up from making simple leggings.

navy blue ponte pants (pic below shows better colour)
(it's really difficult to take a picture of the crotch of your pants...)

I had hoped to have enough of the fabric left over to make a pair of shorts too, but I didn't have enough. I had forgotten I'd bought the absolute minimum I thought I could get away with since this particular ponte was about $20 a meter. If I like the pants, I'll go back for more for shorts.

navy ponte Sabrina Slims before hemming

I'm quite happy with the fit of the navy blue ponte version of the Sabrina Slims. One thing I learned from my adventures in ponte last time is that the ponte tends to 'relax' quite a bit within a few minutes of wearing, so while they look a bit tight now, they look like proper pants after not too long.

Now I just need to hem them. I'm trying to decide between 'just above the ankle length' and 'full length'. I would definitely be able to get more use out of these pants at full length, but I do like the ankle length as well...decisions, decisions...

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Cashmerette Concord T-Shirt

In a nutshell:

1 inch full bicep adjustment
95% cotton / 5% spandex

$13.98/m x 1.5m

Size 18
Mid length, scoop neck, hemmed 3/4 length sleeves

Serger settings

Left needle : 5, other 3 are set at 4

...aaaaaand it was destroyed by a stain left on it by my brand new washing machine shortly after...