Thursday, July 24, 2014

Mini-Wardrobe Progress: Week 3

If you're sick of my mini-wardrobe posts, the month is almost over. I'm in the home stretch now!

mini-wardrobe status on 24-Jul-2014
Yup, I've completed four out of my five planned pieces. For the fifth (the HP trackpant), I've cut out and altered the paper pattern. I am really hoping to be done with everything (except documentation) by the end of the weekend. Unless there's some major unforeseen obstacle, I can't see the trackpants taking more than a half hour to cut out and more than two hours to sew.  (Famous last words, right?)

Plan update


A few more words about the planned trackpants. If you'll recall, last week I was undecided between a floral print or vaguely ethnic-ish dot/triangle print rayon challis, both of which were on their way from FabricMart. From the photos, I slightly preferred the dot/triangle print over the floral for this project, but FabricMart used the word "glitter" in the description. Yikes!  To me, glitter is worn by the types of women who wear pink tracksuits with the word "juicy" bedazzeled across their asses. In other words, not me.

Now, though having both fabrics in hand and having washed them both, the clear winner is the dot/triangle print. Yes, there is noticeable "glitter", but I don't find it too awful unless the fabric is moving. (Side note: This fabric would make a great swishy skirt or dress.) The dot/triangle print is clearly from a different lot than the floral and is much beefier than the floral, making it much more appropriate for pants.  Frankly, outside of the glitter, I really love the print of the dot/triangle fabric. The true test will be if my husband notices or says anything about the glitter.

Where are the Mimosa and Moneta?


Unfortunately, I still don't have photos of the new Moneta or Mimosa blouse yet. My husband has promised me that we'll do a photo shoot this weekend, so I will definitely get pictures of those then and then will finally be able to blog about them and do my pattern reviews. Hopefully, I'll have the pants done by then, and I can get everything photographed in one long session.

I've seen surprisingly few Mimosa reviews/blog posts, which is a shame because it's a neat little blouse. While my Moneta post will be a drive-by (I only made one minor change from my last version), I'll have an in-depth post of mostly raves and a few minor frustrations about the Mimosa.

Overall, the mini-wardrobe contest has been a good challenge for me. I wouldn't want to do this every month, but it's been a very good way for me to be very productive on working towards a plan in a short period of time--sort of like a "sprint", for those of you who are familiar with Agile software development.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Finished Project: McCall's 6966 knit maxi-skirt

You know those projects that you think will be a super quick and easy sew, but by the end of the project, you're pretty much ready to chuck the pattern tissue? McCall's 6966, a simple knit maxi-skirt, was one of those projects for me. Thankfully, I really love the finished skirt:

McCall's 6966 knit maxi-skirt
I wouldn't tell you not to make this skirt because I think that the pain and suffering is worth it in the end, but it would be irresponsible for me to not give you a heads up about a few things:
  • This pattern is a huge fabric hog, if you make the pieced view with the zig-zag stripes like I did. Yes, you do need as much fabric as the back of the envelope says. Also, don't be a dummy like me; follow the recommended fabric layout for this one. My back bottom panel is actually pieced because I did my own thing with the fabric layout, and even doing the whole thing in a single layer, I couldn't get the bottom back panel on there without piecing. I did stripe-match that piece perfectly, though, and I don't think you can tell, especially with the drape of the fabric:
    Somewhere in that lower back panel, there's a seam from piecing.
  • This pattern runs really, really long. Really. If you're 5'9" or 5'10" and are used to always lengthening everything, run out and buy this pattern because you won't need to lengthen this one. I had to shorten mine by a whopping 6 1/2". (For reference, I'm 5'2" and usually shorten skirt patterns by 2-4".) The top panel (the one below the waistband) has a lengthen-shorten line on it, so I initially shortened the top panel by 2" and the bottom panel by 2" (the bottom panel instructs you to just lengthen/shorten at the hem). The final skirt was still dragging on the ground by several inches, so I took another 2 1/2" off the hem. (There's no lengthen-shorten line on the middle panel, so that one looks disproportionately longer compared to the other two on my skirt.)
  • The pattern runs large. Go down at least one size that your measurements would indicate by McCall's size chart. My hip measurement puts me in a Big 4 size 22 (an XXL for this skirt), but I was alerted to the sizing issue by another review of this skirt and initially cut an XL. I also wound up taking several inches off the hips and middle panel when I trued my petite alteration in the top panel. 
  • The middle panel isn't on the true bias, so if you're looking to make chevrons with your stripes, you'll need to alter the grain that the middle panel is placed on. With the middle panel NOT being on the true bias, there's also no way to make your stripes match perfectly. I did as best as I could, but you can see even in the model photo that her stripes don't match:

    McCall's 6966 envelope picture
I did manage to match my stripes on my side seams, at least, though!
Stripe matching with dog.
As you can see, my husband loves getting the whole family involved when I ask him to take pictures of my projects.

On a positive note, I used a French terry from Girl Charlee for this skirt, and it was absolutely the most perfect fabric for this project. I hope that they get more of this stuff in because I loved both sewing with it and have been loving wearing it. And complaints aside, I do love the final skirt; I've worn it every wash cycle since finishing it.

This skirt was the second project in my mini-wardrobe plan for July. I do also have the Moneta finished, but not photographed yet. I am working on a coral-colored Mimosa blouse (to take the place of the second top), simply because I think that the Mimosa is a little more "interesting" for this wardrobe than the originally planned knit top. At my current pace, I'm going to come down to the wire, but I still think that I can get everything done and photographed by the end of the month.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Finished Project: HotPatterns Weekender Daytona Hoodie (version 2 - in white)

I'll keep this post short, since I'm primarily using it to document the first piece that I completed in my mini-wardrobe, another version of the HotPatterns Weekender Daytona Hoodie:

HotPatterns Weekender Daytona Hoodie

I made exactly the same view (elbow-length sleeves, pullover version) as I did the last time that I used this pattern. I didn't even make any fit changes, since I was happy with the fit on the last version (I had made a wearable muslin prior to that and worked out a few fit tweaks at that point.)

The fabric for this version came from my stash: a white cotton-lycra jersey from Fashionista Fabrics (now closed). It's a nice, mid-weight jersey with both good drape and good body. I'd held onto it for a few years because I felt that the "perfect t-shirt fabric" should be used by the "perfect t-shirt pattern", and while this isn't a t-shirt exactly, I know that I will wear it a ton. Thankfully, we keep a tub of oxyclean in our laundry room to help it maintain its whiteness when I spill things on it, or it gets toddlered.

I love this pattern--it has so many options for either a relaxed pullover top or lightweight layering piece. However, at this point, having made three versions of it in recent months (including the wearable muslin that I've worn a ton but never photographed), I am putting it away until Fall. (I do have a couple of fun knits already pulled out of my stash and earmarked for long-sleeved versions of it then, though!)

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Mini-Wardrobe Progress: Week 2

We're just past the halfway point of the month of July, and I am just over halfway finished with my 5-piece mini-wardrobe for the Mini-Wardrobe Contest on Pattern Review:

Mini-wardrobe status as of July 17th
I've completed 3 out of the 5 planned pieces so far:
  • White hoodie (HP Weekender Daytona Hoodie)
  • Striped maxi-skirt (McCall's 6966)
  • Solid blue knit dress (Colette Moneta)
I just finished the Moneta and haven't been able to take pictures yet. I did get my husband to take a few photos of my hoodie and maxi-skirt look a few days ago:

Hoodie + maxi-skirt
The skirt was a royal pain to cut out and sew, but I'll save the details about that for another post. I do love the finished skirt, though, and while I have no intention of sewing this view of this skirt again, I would like to add at least one more knit maxi-skirt to my wardrobe.

Here's the back view (with toddler photobomb):

It was 90 degrees out that day; Eva is the one dressed appropriately, not me.
Now, if you've followed my mini-wardrobe progress, you might have noticed a change in plans regarding my remaining two garments. First off, as I sort of expected, there's no way that I'll have time to properly muslin and do fitting justice for those ikat print pants/jeans that I wanted to make. I'm swapping them out with a set of rayon challis track pants. The look will still be very much on-trend for this summer, but will be a heck of a lot easier to fit and sew. I've got two cuts of rayon challis on the way from FabricMart (ordered over the weekend where everything was 40% off--these were $2.99/yard, I think). My options are either the gray-and-black rose print or the silver-and-black dots print. From the photos, I think that the "dots" print is more of what I'm looking for, but the fabric description contains "Small Dot Pattern with some Glitter," which has me worried that this fabric won't be suitable for anything other than a muslin. I think that the rose print makes a suitable backup.

The other change is that I just wasn't feeling a gray knit top (probably the HP La Strada) as part of this wardrobe. I have a shirting-weight coral cotton pique in my stash, and I'm thinking that I'd rather make the SBCC Minosa top to go with the trackpants and maxi-skirt. I've been wanting to make the Mimosa for a while and kept getting distracted by other projects, but now I think I'm finally going to do it.

Have you done a mini- or capsule wardrobe before? Did you find that you kept changing your mind about what you wanted to sew, or did you come up with a plan and stick to it?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Seattle Fabric Shop Roundup (Summer 2014)

Have you ever traveled (or moved) to a new city and wanted to check out the area fabric stores, but from the Yelp reviews or googling "City_Name fabric stores", couldn't easily determine which stores were still open and if they'd carry fabrics that would interest you? I know that I felt this way when I first moved to Seattle a year ago. I kept hoping that I'd run across a blog post or something similar to give me a 10,000 foot view of what fabric stores were in the area, but never did. On my own, over the past year, I've been chipping away at my list of "to-visit" shops and taking notes on what they carried.

Portland might (somewhat rightly) get all of the love for being a fabric mecca, but it turns out that Seattle has a very nice handful of independent fabric stores. The shops are all a bit spread out, but you shouldn't have any trouble hitting 3-4 of these in an afternoon if you have a car and half a day to kill here.

Note that this post focuses on stores that carry at least a fair amount of apparel fabrics and focuses on stores within the city of Seattle. Disclaimer: The hours I list are the hours posted on these stores' websites and are subject to change.

Here are the stores that I've visited (in alphabetical order)

District Fabric

 

District Fabric in Fremont
Address: 513 N 36th St #A, Seattle, WA 98103
Phone: 206-629-879
Hours: Monday-Saturday 11am-6pm
Neighborhood: Fremont
Parking: Street (Minimal free parking; spend $1-$2 and park in a metered spot)
District Fabric shop interior
District Fabric is lovely fabric boutique located in Seattle's trendy Fremont neighborhood. Most of their fabrics are natural fibers (cottons, silks) with some knits and rayons, as well. When I visited, a fair amount of their fabric had been imported from France. 

Digital panel silks
Galaxy-print knit
Fabric quality and prices are similar to Emma One Sock, but they do have some nice, lower-priced fabrics available (particularly in their cottons).  In addition to really nice fabrics, District also carries patterns from indie faves like Colette and Deer & Doe, which is totally in line with the shop's aesthetic:

Flipping through patterns like flipping through 10" singles
I love how the patterns are packaged individually in cellophane, which brings back memories of my teenage years spent hanging out in indie record stores hunting for Smiths singles imported from the UK.

District's customer service is super-friendly. You probably wouldn't want to go here with a very specific fabric in mind, but if you go in thinking, "I want to make a pretty blouse or dress," I can pretty much guarantee that you'll find something to make you happy.

Drygood Design 

Drygood Design & Sewing Studio in Ballard

Address: 5308 Ballard Avenue NW, Studio 1, Seattle, WA 98107
Phone: 206-535-6950
Hours: Monday-Saturday 11am-6pm, Sunday 10am-4pm
Neighborhood: Ballard
Parking: Street (Busy neighborhood with lots of shops, restaurants, and parking spot turnover)

Sewaholic patterns at Drygood Design
 Drygood Design is a tiny fabric boutique that is definitely worth checking out. Everything in this shop was personally curated by the owner and staff. Similar to District Fabric in that both stores' stocks emphasize natural fibers, Drygood Design also carries a small amount of fun, high-quality quilting cottons that are appropriate for girls' clothes. (My recent purchase here was a pattern and fabric for a romper for my daughter.) I had trouble finding the store on my visit; you actually enter the store through the Anchored Ship Coffee Bar, which has the more prominent storefront.

In addition to their lovely fabrics, Drygood Design also carries a wide array of indie sewing patterns and sewing books.

Japanese pattern books at Drygood Design
 When I visited earlier this week, they were running one of their kids' sewing camps; they have a sewing studio in the back part of their store place where they hold classes. Several of the young students were picking out fabric while I was in there. (As the parent of a daughter, who's already draping herself in fabric and enjoys looking at patterns, I get a little overly excited by things like "sewing camps.")

Drygood Sewing Studio
As with District Fabric, your best bet is to go in here not looking for something specific, but to go in looking for pretty dress or blouse fabric for yourself or for something fun for a little girl in your life.

Nancy's Sewing Basket

Nancy's Sewing Basket in Queen Ann

Address: 2221 Queen Anne Ave N, Seattle, WA 98109
Phone: 206-282-9112
Hours: Monday-Saturday 9:30am-6pm (-8pm on Thursday), Sunday 12:30am-5pm
Neighborhood: Queen Anne
Parking: Street (Busy neighborhood with lots of shops, restaurants, and parking spot turnover)

Nancy's Sewing Basket
I know that Nancy's is considered an institution amongst Seattle sewists, and now having been there, I understand why. Unlike District Fabric and Drygood Design, you can come into Nancy's with an idea for a project and probably find the fabric that you want there. The store is large and carries high-ish end fabrics of all kinds. I finally found chambray there that I felt had enough body and drape to make a shirtwaist dress (something that has been on my project wishlist there for a while).

Nancy's Sewing Basket sample garments
Nancy's also carries a good variety of indie sewing patterns and BurdaStyle magazines. As with District and Drygood, customer service was extremely helpful and friendly at Nancy's. If you're into ribbons and trims, they have an entire "ribbon room" at the back of the store. Also, if you sew for children or are just looking for some fun cotton prints, Nancy's carries a nice selection of Japanese cotton prints.

One interesting fabric that I found was a woven version of the knit (from EmmaOneSock) that I used for my HP Weekender Daytona Hoodie:

 
Hey, I recognize this print!
If you're looking for garment fabric and can only visit one fabric store in Seattle, I'd recommend going with Nancy's. (However, really try to squeeze in a trip to District and Drygood, if you can!)

Pacific Fabrics (Northgate location)

Pacific Fabrics in Northgate

Address: 838 NE Northgate Way, Seattle WA 98125

Phone: 206-362-0111
Hours: Monday-Friday 9am-9pm, Saturday 9am-7pm, Sunday 10am-6pm
Neighborhood: Northgate
Parking: Lot with plentiful parking (in a strip mall)

I think I take Pacific Fabrics for granted. It's on my way home from work; I've visited the store far more times than any of the other stores on this list. In fact, even though I was planning this blog post, I forgot to take pictures the last time that I was in the store, so that's why there aren't any for this store entry.

Whereas Nancy's, District, and Drygood Design tend to carry a bit more high-end fabrics and be a little pricier (but worth it, IMO), Pacific Fabrics is more mid-range. About a third of their fabric inventory is apparel fabric, another third is quilting cottons (think Michael Miller and various licensed fabrics), and a final third is home decor. The whole back part of the store is notions and books. Pacific Fabrics also has a really impressive selection of trims. They even carry non-Wrights pre-made bias tape here.

Pacific Fabrics has several locations throughout the Seattle metro area; however, I've only been to the Northgate location. (The Sodo location is supposed to be fun to visit.) If you can only visit one fabric store in Seattle and frequently sew things other than adult garments, Pacific Fabrics is probably your best choice.

Seattle Fabrics

Seattle Fabrics
 
Address: 8702 Aurora Ave N, Seattle, WA 98103
Phone: 206-525-0670
Hours: Monday-Saturday 9am-6pm
Neighborhood: West of Northgate (Northwest Seattle)
Parking: Small store lot

Seattle Fabrics specializes in outdoors and, to a lesser extent, active wear fabrics. These technical fabrics (and the accompanying buckles, zippers, ribbing, etc) are the only things that they carry. If you're planning an outdoors wear project, this store is a must-visit. (Note that Nancy's Sewing Basket carries fashion rainwear fabrics for garments like trenchcoats.) If you do not have an outdoors wear project planned, you can probably skip Seattle Fabrics, unless you want to gawk and the 25 different colors of polartec fleece available.

Stitches

Stitches in Capitol Hill

Address: 711 East Pike Street, Seattle, WA 98122
Phone: 206-709-0707
Hours: Daily 11am-7pm
Neighborhood: Capitol Hill
Parking: Street, metered (Parking in this neighborhood is a total pain, but this shop is a short bus ride from downtown Seattle)

Stitches interior
Stitches is a cute sewing and knitting store in a neighborhood where parking is a nightmare. If you're staying downtown, you're probably better off taking the short bus ride up to Capitol Hill than trying to find parking near Stitches (unless there's some lot/parking option that I'm not aware of). Stitches carries a fairly eclectic mix of fabric, yarn, and embellishment supplies. 

Like Nancy's, Stitches carries Japanese cotton prints. They also have a small handful of fun quilting cottons along with their mostly-apparel fabrics. I got a kick out of this "Seattle" print:

Seattle print fabric at Stitches
I also got a kick out of this nautical shirting, which I know that some of us (myself included) recently purchased from FabricMart. 

Nautical-themed shirting
Unlike the other more...sedate stores on this list, Stitches is where you'd want to go if you need to buy neon pink fake fur for something. However, they did have plenty of "normal" fabrics for garments and other projects, too. Prices here were a bit more moderate than compared to some of the other stores listed here, too. 

So, that pretty much wraps up this summary of Seattle fabric stores.  I stuck with the city of Seattle didn't cover any of the stores on the Eastside or North shore areas, but if you have a favorite store there, feel free to mention it in the comments. I'll likely do follow-up posts at some point to visit other stores in other areas or to comment on how inventory at these stores has changed. (Most of these stores clearly have summer fabrics in right now, which makes sense in July. I'll be curious to see what they carry in December.)

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Resistance is futile

I did it. I finally caved. I was determined to be the last sewing blogger on the internet to NOT own the Kitschy Coo Lady Skater dress pattern, but that domino has fallen. You see, a few days ago, someone shared this pattern in my Facebook feed:

Kitschy Coo Comino Cap Top and Dress
A knit dress with a two-piece sweetheart style neckline and top and A-line dress options? Yes, please. I am giddy over the design options and likely figure flattery that will come from this pattern. I've had versions of this dress and top pinned to the Pinterest board in my mind for months now, but have been too lazy to hack an existing pattern to make it happen. My wait is over. Or, at least mostly over, since I'm not going to tackle ANY new patterns until I make it through my mini-wardrobe challenge/contest entry for July.

Everything in the Kitschy Koo online shop was on sale for 17% off on the day that the Comino pattern made its way into my Facebook feed (I'm guessing this was launch day?), and an unintended side effect of this was that the Lady Skater dress and Little Girls' Skater dress also made their way into my online cart. Now, I'd had my eye on the Little Girls' version of this dress for a while because I've wanted a basic knit dress pattern for Eva with a waist seam and a non-gathered skirt (most Ottobre patterns have a gathered skirt) to play around with some design ideas I've had. This sale seemed like a pretty good opportunity to pull the trigger on that pattern.

Kitschy Coo Lady Skater dress line drawing and size chart

I've been actively resisting the Lady Skater, on the other hand, for two major reasons:
  • One, EVERYONE else has already made it. Who cares if it's looked great on the majority of sewists who have made it (in particular, it's looked/fit great on busty, curvy sewists). I wasn't going to join that herd. Seriously, this pattern has made more appearances on the blogosphere this year than Jude Law made appearances in movies in 2005.
  • The second reason is a little more personal: I've owned this dress before.
Yes, I owned and wore a knit skater dress before. In 1994. My version was in teal stretch crushed velvet. I accessorized it with a metal belt slung over my hips and a choker. The biggest stresses in my life were biology exams and finding someone who would buy us wine coolers. I loved the 90's and that time in my life, but the skater dress was a fashion design that I felt strongly that I shouldn't revisit based on the fact that I'd lived through it before. (Granted, I've made exceptions to this "rule" numerous times with things like leggings, rayon challis, and "grunge-inspired" garments, in general. Hey, I live in Seattle now--I don't think plaid shirts ever really left here.)

Who knows if or when I'll actually make up the Lady Skater. Part of me wants to continue to hold out; part of me wants to see what the huge fuss was all about. I held out forever from making the Cake Tiramisu dress, and that dress wound up being one of my most-worn garments of the past year.

I'm curious, are there popular/well-reviewed patterns out there that you've held out from buying or making for one reason or another? Or am I just weird and stubborn that way?

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Mini-Wardrobe progress: Week 1

Well, we're one week into the Pattern Review mini-wardrobe contest, and I have been steadily executing against my planned 5-piece wardrobe:


Planned 5-piece mini-wardrobe

 

At the end of my first week, I haven't made quite as much progress as I would have liked to at this point, but I've at least put a dent in my wardrobe plan.

Over the weekend, I did mange to finish my HP Daytona hoodie, made from a white cotton-lycra jersey:

HP Daytona Hoodie
As I've mentioned in previous posts, my dress form isn't padded to my current measurements, so that's why the hoodie looks big/baggy. Trust me, it fits as well as my last Daytona hoodie and will be a great addition to my summer wardrobe.

I've started work on my McCall's 6966 maxi-skirt, and wow, was that a pain to cut out. It's cut and pieced together now. I still need to sew the side seams and add the yoke/waistband. Here's the front half, draped over my dress form:

McCalls 6966 WIP
Now, you'll notice that much to my frustration, the stripes don't entirely line up. I'm not sure if this is by design or a drafting issue, but that's just how it is with this pattern. Check out the envelope photo--the stripes on the model's skirt don't match up exactly, either:

McCalls 6966 envelope picture
I think this is by design. If you lay your pattern pieces out on your fabric according to the pattern piece markings, the stripes will meet at different angles. This layout will give you the zig-zagging stripes that you see in my skirt and the envelope picture, but it won't give you nice, neat chevrons, if that's the effect that you're going for. The detail-oriented part of me is irritated by this, but in reality, I think it will be a nice, wearable skirt, and I doubt if my husband or any of my coworkers will care that it has zig-zagging stripes instead of chevrons.

I just haven't been able to put in the sewing time that I had hoped I'd be able to this past week. It's a lot easier to get up 30 minutes before everyone else in the house than it is to get up 60 minutes early. I am trying to grab 15 minutes here and there to pin or stitch a seam, and that seems to be helping. My big concern is not having enough time towards the end of the month to properly muslin, fit, and construct those ikat pants in my plan. My current game plan is to get my other four garments finished by the 20th, which will give me 10 days for the pants. If I don't have everything else completed by then, I'm switching to plan B for the pants, which is to do a drapey rayon challis track pant in a fun print. The backup pants will still be very on-trend for this summer, but should need much less time for fitting and construction. I'm keeping an eye out for the right challis, but if I don't find it and do need to fall back to that plan, I have a gray and black floral print that I can use.

From the looks of everyone else's blogs, it looks like everyone else's wardrobe plans are coming along nicely! I can't wait to see the final storyboards/photo shoots!