Friday, January 30, 2015

This Week in Patterns (30-Jan-2015)

We only had two new patterns released this week, but IMO, they were pretty good ones. Both are long-sleeved knit tops--the type of tops that are staples in my fall and winter wardrobes.

Paprika Patterns - Jasper sweater and dress

*Drumroll* Okay, so this is the pattern that I tested that I've been hinting about for the past two months. If you're a regular reader of my blog, I'm sure that you'll be shocked to hear that I jumped at the chance to test an upscale hoodie pattern with pockets back when Lisa put out a call for testers a few months ago.

Paprika Patterns Jasper Sweater and Dress

There's a hoodie option, a tabbed collar option, and you can mix and match the sweater or dress lengths with either collar option.

Paprika Patterns Jasper Sweater and Dress
For my test version, I made up the hooded sweater (surprise, surprise). The test version did have a few fit issues, but nothing so severe that it's kept me from wearing my sweater/sweatshirt as a wearable muslin. It's amazingly comfortable and cozy. What's very encouraging to me, is that in her email to her testers, Lisa has said that she fixed every single issue that I can recall running into, and improving a few things that I hadn't necessarily thought of as "issues" but that should make for a better, more wearable garment. I did receive a free copy of the final pattern, and I'll be making that version up going forward. (I'd dive right into it now, but I really need pants, so the Jasper will have to wait a project or two.) When I make up the final version, I'll blog a side-by-side comparison between that version and the test version, which should be interesting for anyone who wants to see how patterns are tweaked/refined between versions. I'm also planning to make up at least one of each of the sweater views, and possibly one of the dress views.

StyleArc - Elita Designer top

StyleArc did something new this month--they released a single pattern that wasn't tied to a 1st-of-the-month or mid-month release, AND they released it both as a printed pattern and a PDF at the same time. On top of that, they're running a 20% off PDF pattern discount through the end of the month, so the price of the new pattern is just over $8 (USD) if you purchase the PDF version with the discount code. So what's the new pattern?

Elita designer top

StyleArc - Elita designer top

I like this top a lot better than anything StyleArc had in their main release for January. I think that the neckline is a fun detail, and with the ties, the crossover front can be kept from opening up over a large bust. Anne (Clothing Engineer) already made this up in a silk jersey, and it looks very cute on her pear-shaped figure. She expressed some concerns about it possibly not being flattering on a larger bust, but in seeing where the drape falls, I'm not super-concerned myself. My bust is low, and I think that the drape will serve to draw the eye up, but I guess we'll see, won't we? For $8, I figured that this was a pretty low-risk indie purchase to create a top that I could see myself wearing a lot if I like it.

Final Thoughts

So, not many patterns released this week, but I own both of them--having received the Jasper as a freebie/thank you for testing, and having purchased the StyleArc with the 20% off promo. Did either of these grab you?

We're still waiting on the first spring release from Butterick, which I'd think we'll be seeing soon.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Finished project: Simplicity 1254 - Leanne Marshall coat

I just looked back through my post archive, and the last "Finished Project" post I've written was back on...November 4th, and that one was for my daughter's Halloween costume.

(Side note: I did get just an email from the designer whose pattern I tested back in November with the final version of the pattern, among other things, but I'll be blogging about that later.)

In any case, here it is...the coat project that wouldn't end:

Simplicity 1254, the Leanne Marshall coat!

Simplicity 1254 - Leanne Marshall coat
The coat isn't without its issues, but I do really like it.

Yes, my face looks extra pasty/blue. Apparently, my husband's DSLR didn't know what to do with so much blue from the coat, and it overcompensated with whatever autocorrection it applies. We tried fixing it in a photo editor, but weren't able to do so in a way that made us both happy. Yes, that means that we pulled out the "real" camera for a "real" photoshoot for this one. Want proof? Here's the obligatory back-against-a-fence/wall-and-looking-to-the-side pic that is required in sewing blog photoshoots:

Against the fence
Yes, I am aware that my hem could use a good pressing. Trust me, I pressed the crap out of it; what I really needed for this project was to invest in a clappwer, which I will do before attempting to make another coat.

Pattern Drafting Notes/"Does it look like the envelope?"

I found the pattern to be well-drafted in that everything lined up as expected; however, you can see from the photos that the coat on me has more flare at the hip area than indicated in the line drawing and envelope photos. I actually took the hips in a small amount on this final version, so without that adjustment, the coat would flare more. This doesn't really bother me, but I wanted to note it in case you're looking for a sleek, slim-fitting coat.

Simplicity 1254 envelope

Additionally, the oversized collar turns out to make a not-terribly-functional hood:

 When I'm holding it in place, you can see how large and floppy it is:

Yes, the hood is this large
This will do in a pinch on a super cold/wet day if I'm caught off-guard, but clearly, this coat will not serve as an all-weather outerwear garment.

Fabric and Notions Used

  • Coat shell: Wool flannel from Fashionista Fabrics (sadly now-closed). Melody from Fashionista even thought there was likely a bit of cashmere blended in here, too. As to be expected with this fabric type, this stuff sewed/pressed like a dream (my bulky hem, aside). I've had this fabric in my stash for probably ~5 years, and until now, I'd never felt that my skills or that a pattern was worthy of it, so it was a big deal for me to cut into this and make something out of it.
  • Lining: Poly charmeuse (this design sold out) from Gorgeous Fabrics.
  • Interlining: Flannel-backed Tricot interlining from Gorgeous Fabrics.
  • Zipper: YKK two-way separating zipper from ZipperStop.
  • Interfacing: This stuff from Fashion Sewing Supply.

Pattern Sizing and Alterations

This pattern is drafted with less ease than you'd typically find in a coat pattern. As drafted, it has 3" of ease at the bust, instead of the usual 5 1/2" (per Fit for Real People). If you plan to make this and are not already at the top of the size range, you might want to size up for this pattern. I did make a muslin, and below are the pattern alterations that I used for the final coat. Note that I am 5'2" tall and typically shorten tops/blouses/sleeves by about 2" in most patterns.
  • 1" broad back adjustment
  • 2.5" princess seamed FBA (Fit for Real People method)
  • 1.5" Full bicep adjustment (Fit for Real People method)
  • Shortened sleeve length 1/2" 
  • Shortened coat 2" at lengthen-shorten line
  • Interlined the coat by underlining the lining pieces with interlining
  • Trimmed undercollar piece by 1/8" to help the roll line
  • Used a magnetic purse snap as the collar closure
None of these alterations are terribly unusual for me, but I rarely need that large of a full bicep adjustment in jackets. I also usually need to shorten jacket sleeves by more than that. Takeaway message: the sleeves on this run slim and short. Everything else fits more or less as expected.

Some sewists on Pattern Review chose not to interface the upper collar piece (as directed in the instructions) because they were afraid that it would affect the drape of their fabric/collars. I did interface mine. Looking at my collar, I think that the interfacing does help give the collar the shape on the envelope and does help keep the collar from flipping up.

Here's a view of the coat from the back:

Simplicity 1254 - back
Also, if you're wondering if with that collar, the coat can be worn open, I think that it can:

Simplicity 1254 - worn open
 I really don't think that the collar looks all that bad when the coat is open.

Pattern Instructions

Yeah, so the instructions for this coat aren't great. This coat is rated as "Easy" by Simplicity, and I'm guessing that's only because the coat lacks things like bound buttonholes, welt pockets, and lapels.

This was my first real coat, and if I were to ever make it again, I'd probably find the construction pretty easy, but making a muslin didn't save me from a lot of confusion on some steps. As one of the reviews on Pattern Review noted, some steps in the instruction are super-detailed, whereas others gloss right over important details. For example, understitching the collar seam gets an entire step to itself, but assembling the entire lining and starting to bag the lining is also written as a single step. A number of us on Pattern Review found both the zipper and bagging-the-lining instructions to be pretty confusing.

To finish bagging my lining, I ended up using this tutorial from Grainline Studios, which I found very helpful and less confusing than the Simplicity instructions:

Sewing Tutorial: How to Bag a Jacket Lining

What's great, though, is now that I know how to bag a lining, I'll always know how to apply this to future projects. I hate hand-stitching, so even if it wasn't without stress, I'm very glad to have learned this technique (finally).

Here's my flashing-the-lining shot:

Simplicity 1254 - lining

Final Thoughts

I'm not going to lie; this coat was a huge PIA to construct. Part of this was my own doing by underlining the lining with interlining to make the coat warmer (and trust me, it's very, very warm). However, I really love the final coat, even though I suppose you could make the argument that it makes someone my size look like a giant blueberry (but really, who gives an F? I like the coat). I'd never be able to find a dramatic coat like this in a bright color like this in my size in RTW.

Friday, January 23, 2015

This Week in Patterns (23-Jan-2015)

I'm posting this from my company's office in Irvine at the tail end of a whirlwind business trip for me. As someone who grew up in and spent most of my life in SoCal, it's been a brief trip down memory lane, as I've managed to squeeze in some In-n-Out, KROQ, and Green Flash's West Coast IPA in the 24 hours that I've been here. It's also in the mid-70's here, temperature-wise, and I'm finding that I really DON'T miss wearing short sleeves in January. In fact, if I still lived in SoCal, I wouldn't even be considering purchasing my favorite pattern this week. I'll be driving down to San Diego tonight to celebrate my mom's birthday with my family, then flying back to Seattle tomorrow, where I'm looking forward to being able to wear layers again.

We did have several high-profile pattern releases this week, let's take a look...

Grainline Studios - Cascade Duffle Coat

I think that I may have finally found my perfect "everyday" jacket/coat pattern for our weather here in the Pacific Northwest. If you heard a loud "squeeeeeeeeee!" earlier this week, you were probably hearing my reaction all the way from Seattle to Jen from Grainline Studio's latest release:

Cascade Duffle coat and jacket

Unlike the somewhat similar Colette Albion duffle coat, the Grainline version is drafted for a woman, rather than having a unisex draft, includes a zipper closure beneath the toggles, and has both collar and hood options. I'm seriously planning four different versions of this pattern in my head from fabric in my stash by mixing up the jacket/coat and hood/collar options.  On one hand, I don't want to dive right into another involved/coat project after just finishing my Simplicity 1254/Leanne Marshall coat, on the other hand, I want this coat.

I've already ordered this pattern (paper version, since I prefer PDFs only for less complicated patterns) and am thinking that I'll finally make my rain jacket using it. I have some of that Marc Jacobs waterproof poplin in my stash that FabricMart had a while back and stumbled unintentionally into a perfect lining for that fabric with another purchase.
Grainline Studios Cascade Duffle coat and jacket

Vogue - Early Spring 2015 (aka "Culottes for Everyone!")

Remember when those knit gaucho pants were all the rage about ten years ago? Vogue (and a few other pattern designers) have apparently decided that that silhouette is back. I haven't seen these pop up on the street in real life yet, but I'm guessing that we'll start to see them this spring.

In other news related to this release, Vogue's patterns this time around included a lot of interesting details. Now, whether the patterns themselves or not for you is up to you. From what I've seen online since the collection was released, most of these individual designs are either love-it or hate-it. And while most of these aren't my aesthetic, I do highly appreciate Vogue putting out a very "not boring" collection. Honestly, I could comment on most of the designs in this particular release, but in the interest of time and space, I just pulled out a few of the most interesting ones (for better or for worse).

V1435 - Tom and Linda Platt dress and jacket

I love the back detail on this Tom and Linda Platt jacket. The sheath dress is the same old boring sheath dress that we've seen a million times, so I'd expect most people would be buying this for the jacket. I won't be buying it, though, because I think that that cropped, drapey shape in front would look terrible on my ginormous bust, regardless of how much I like the jacket back.

V1437 - Ralph Rucci separates

I can't see myself making/wearing this, but I do love the lines on this Ralph Rucci jacket. The blouse is cute, too.


I was surprised when I clicked the link to this jacket to see that it wasn't a designer pattern. Again, not my personal aesthetic to make/wear, but I do appreciate the design and look forward to seeing this pattern made up by others in the online sewing community.

V1439- Anne Klein separates

These Anne Klein separates are much more to my own taste. I really like that jacket, and the pants are a nice, basic straight-leg trouser.


I can't believe that I'm going to type this about a culotte-jumpsuit, but, um, I actually really like this? And I could see myself making/wearing it? It's got the silhouette of those princess seamed bodice fit-and-flare dresses that work so well for so many of us, but with a really full, skirt-like set of pants. And it has sleeves, unlike so many jumpsuit patterns!

Don't get me wrong--I realize that there's a ton of potential for bad-elementary-school-teacher-wardrobe here with this pattern, but I think that in the right fabric, this could be really cute and practical.


Oh hey, look, if you didn't want a culotte jumpsuit, here are the culottes on their own in three different lengths:



V9086 is a pretty blouse with some interesting details and seaming:


Annnnnd my pick for unintentional comedy pattern of this release goes to this oh-so-70's dress that looks like it came straight out of an unopened box found at an  Gunne Sax warehouse. This dress looks like something that Sissy Spacek would sport as Carrie, if Piper Laurie weren't yelling at her to not draw so much attention to her dirty pillows.


And Vogue randomly included a men's tuxedo pattern in with all of this:


Pauline Alice Eliana Dress

To round things out from the excitement of the Grainline Studios and Vogue new releases, Pauline Alice release a new dress pattern this week:

 Eliana Dress

The raglan-sleeved version is cute, simple, and I'm sure easy-to-sew. I can't think of any off the top of my head, but I'm sure that there are similar patterns to this floating around out there among the Big 4--it's essentially a dress version of a peasant blouse.

Pauline Alice Eliana Dress

Final Thoughts

As I said, I absolutely love the new Grainline jacket and coat pattern and have already ordered it. Of the new Vogues, the two that I am most likely to add to my stash (and who knows, maybe make at some point) are V9075 (the culotte jumpsuit) and V9086 (the blouse with the hidden placket/scooped neckline).

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Sneak peak: Simplicity 1254 - Leanne Marshall coat

I know that this coat saga has probably seemed like this at times:

However, this morning, I finally finished my coat! And I finished it just in time to fly down to Southern California for a work trip tomorrow morning, where I most certainly won't be wearing it in the 80 degree weather that's forecast for the time that I'm down there.

I've already informed my husband that we're doing photos when I'm back in town on Sunday (and hoping to maybe even get him to bust out the DSLR for this shoot), and I'll do a full write-up on the pattern (including lessons learned, tips, etc,) but until then, here are a couple of very poorly-lit dressform photos from my sewing room. Yes, I had to lighten the hell out of these photos to show ANY detail, but I figured that these were better than nothing. Also, my dress form isn't padded out anywhere near to my current size--the coat fits me much better than it does the dressform:

Poorly lit/overexposed coat on a dressform

And a poorly lit shot of the oversized statement collar/hood:

Poorly lit/overexposed collar/hood

Overall, after a lot of frustration with how long construction took and some confusion over some of the construction steps, I'm very happy with how the coat turned out. Unfortunately, I didn't realize how ridiculously warm interlining the coat would make it, and given that it's a pretty dramatic style, this isn't quite the "everyday" coat that I was hoping for. BUT, I did need a warm coat for the days where we have highs in the 30's (which seemed to happen a lot more frequently last winter than have been happening this winter).

Which leads me to my other sneak preview...since I publish my pattern posts on Fridays, yes, I have seen, fell in love with, and already ordered the Grainline Studios Cascade duffle coat. I think it looks like the perfect everyday coat/jacket for me, and I've seriously planned four different versions (combining the different lengths and hood/collar options) in my head. I really need to take a break from the involvedness of coat sewing for a little bit, but I'm already thinking that I'll be doing one or two versions of the Cascade later in the winter or in early spring.

Friday, January 16, 2015

This Week in Patterns (16-Jan-2015)

Oh boy, so this week, Burda released one of the worst Plus collections I've ever seen. It's really, really awful. It's rare that a pattern collection actually makes me angry, but this one does. Let's take a look, shall we?

BurdaStyle Plus - January 2015

If you were to Google "passive aggressive fat shaming", I truly believe that the landing page for this collection should be one of the top hits:

Loft Life Collection (January 2015)

There's a whole lot of fugliness and unflattering sacks going on here.

Loose-Fitting Elasticized Athletic Jacket (01/2015 #134)

If you've ever wanted to wear an oversized, shapeless, silver sack jacket #134 is your pattern. For those who weren't following Burda back in the Burda World of Fashion (Burda WOF) days, looks like these are partially how Burda got the nickname "Burda WTF?"

BurdaStyle 01/2015 #134
Pleated Trousers with Hip Yoke (01/2015 #130)

Next up is a pair of trousers apparently so unflattering on the model that BurdaStyle used not one, but two different photos that completely obscure the supposed selling point (design-wise) of the pattern--the hip yoke and pleats.

BurdaStyle 01/2015 #130B

BurdaStyle 01/2015 #130A
Batwing Jersey Shirt #132

I have a hard time deciding what's less flattering here: the shirt itself or the fact that the Burda stylist decided to tuck an oversized, bulky shirt into a pleated skirt. This is just awful.

BurdaStyle 01/2015 #132
Mid-calf length Maxi Coat 01/2015 #131

Hey, at least the coat is nice.

BurdaStyle 01/2015 #131

HotPatterns 1185 Three-Piece-Sweet Jacket, Scarf, and Tank

Thankfully, we finish the week by cleansing our brains from that awful (and IMO, insulting) Burda collection with a set of fun layering pieces from HotPatterns:

HotPatterns 1185 Three-Piece-Sweet Jacket, Scarf, and Tank set

HotPatterns Three-Piece-Sweet Jacket, Tank, & Scarf
If you've seen how I dress in real life, then you know that I frequently dress in layers, and this pattern/set is right up my alley. I feel like HotPatterns designs are at their best when Trudy takes a current trend and builds an everyday-wearable garment around it. I like the split back on the jacket--a nod to the current huge cutout trend, but when paired with the tank, it's completely work-appropriate for the office. I also love that there's an option to line (or not line) the jacket.

Now, I live in a moderate climate in the PNW, so I have plenty of opportunity to wear unlined jackets, but one of my biggest pet peeves with patterns is when a recommended fabric for a jacket (or dress or skirt) is something like "wool tweed" or "wool crepe" that you'd always line, and then the pattern doesn't include lining pieces or instructions (I'm looking at you Colette Dahlia).

In any case, this pattern is an excuse to go fabric shopping for 2-3 coordinated fabrics. That's never a bad thing, is it?

Coat update

I feel like I'm so, so, close to finishing my coat. I've got the whole body constructed now. The fit is good, the shape is flattering, and it's looking very, very wearable (albeit a bit warm). I've started on construction of the hood. I'm kind of amused because the hood construction takes an entire page of pattern instructions, whereas they had you completely construct and start to bag the lining in a single step. I'm hoping that this last bit goes fast and then I can finally move on to another project. At the very least, I'll take a few progress photos outside on my dressform this weekend.

Final Thoughts

Hate the Burda, love the HotPatterns. Vogue sent out an email recently teasing their Early Spring collection, so hopefully, we'll have those to take a look at next week!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Goooooooals! Looking back (2014) and looking ahead (2015)

If you can stand one more self-reflective post from me, I want to go over how I did on the sewing goals that I set for myself back at the beginning of 2014 and set a few new goals for myself for 2015. If you can't stand one more post of this nature, go ahead and mark this as "read" in your blog reader; I won't be offended. Like my hits and misses post, I'm writing my goals post mainly for myself to help assess my sewing journey.

Let's start with how I did last year.


Let's face it--I got a bit carried away with the goal stuff last year, so much so that it took me several posts to write about all of the goals that I was setting for myself and the convoluted systems that I was using to track those goals.

Here are those posts:
Gee, with so many rigid goals that I set for myself, how ever did I lose interest? 

I did manage to do one re-assessment (when I was still sort of on track) back at the end of Q1 of 2014:

2014 Q1 Sewing Goals check-in

And then I pretty much gave up. But let's see what I accomplished, anyway.

Stash goals

The following statement gives my "stash goals" for 2014:

"I, Michelle of happilycaffeinated, commit to using at least 15 patterns from the candidate pattern stash and using at least 20 pieces of stash fabric in 2014. Stash includes any fabric or patterns on hand/purchased prior to the date of this pledge, 8 Jan 2013."

And then I had a spreadsheet (of course) of "candidate patterns" to choose from. Here are the ones that I actually sewed from that list:
  1. Mr. HotPatterns Nice & Easy t-shirt (I sewed 2 of these for my husband.)
  2. HotPatterns 4 Season Kimono Jacket
  3. HotPatterns Tailored Trackpant
  4. Oliver + S Playtime Tunic and Leggings (sewn for my daughter)
  5. StyleArc Slip-on Suzie dress
  6. StyleArc Olive Spliced tee
  7. StyleArc Amber top
 So, 7 out of 15. Meh. My use of stash patterns really dropped off as the year progressed and more new patterns came out because "Ooooh! Shiney!" I need to be more realistic about my tendencies to get distracted and just go with them instead of trying to fight them. So no pattern stash goals for 2015.

Yes, the Colette Hawthorn was on that "candidate" list, and no that never did get sewn this year.

I did track whether the fabric that I used for a given project came from stash or not, as well. "Stash" fabric was any fabric that I owned prior to January 8, 2014.

By my count, I used 23 pieces of stash fabric, so yay, me on that one!

Non-stash goals

Here are the more interesting (I'd imagine) goals that I set for myself, based on my blog post:

  • Sew a water-resistant jacket with a hood. This didn't happen in 2014, but I still very much need one of these. This will be one of my few carry-over goals, which I'll discuss later in this post.
  •  Sew a winter coat.

    Well, we all know how that is going. This is still very much in-progress. I will finish at some point this month (January). Can I ask for an extension on this one or get partial credit for a coat that's about 2/3 of the way finished?
  •  Sew my daughter's Halloween costume.Done. You remember my daughter, Queen Elsa?

    Queen Elsa trick-or-treats at my office.
  • Sew a capsule wardrobe.Well, I did sew a capsule wardrobe, although it was 4 pieces and not 12, and it certainly wasn't the wardrobe that I spent an entire post rambling on about.  Partial credit.
  • Get over my fear of fly zippers.

    A weird thing happened with this one. I did sew a number of zippers this year, albeit none were fly zippers since I didn't sew a single pair of fly front pants. But you know what? I don't feel any sort of dread of sewing fly zippers any more, either. I can't give myself credit for this one, though. We'll talk more about fly fronts and pants in my 2015 goals.
  •  Execute a wearable set of welt pockets.

    I did this! But you all don't know about it because it was on that pattern that I tested. It's a single welt, inseam pocket. By funny coincidence, I'm actually wearing this top today. So yeah, it's wearable. Here's photographic evidence that doesn't give away the pattern before it's released.

    Welt pocket
    Not perfect, but certainly wearable. Especially when not viewed in an overexposed photo at close range.
  • Fabric out for the year should be 50% greater than fabric in.Hahahahahahahaha!

    I stopped keeping track of my purchases back in June, when a work deadline caused a few stress-related online shopping binges. I did, however, track that I sewed 77.5 yards this year (including 4 yards for the coat that's still not finished) and donated another 50 yards. I don't want to think about the "fabric in" portion of that, though.
  • Explore the functionality of my Babylock Evolve.I definitely played around with a lot of stitches on my Evolve.  I think we can count this one as "accomplished".

Non-goal: RTW fast

I didn't actually set out to do a RTW fast this year, but looking back, the only RTW that I purchased in 2014 was underwear, socks, bras, and a couple of souvenir t-shirts. I'm kind of amused that I accomplished what is sometimes a major goal for us sewists without even trying, but that I didn't achieve some of my easier sewing goals. That's life, I guess.

2015 Goals

In 2014,  I did better on the more general goals than the more rigid goals. I'm not sure that having rigid goals really accomplished anything for me beyond stealing my sewjo. In any case, 2014 is over. It was a crappy year for a number of personal reasons that I haven't blogged about (mostly family and pet health-related issues).

To quote the Counting Crows, "Maybe this year will be better than the last."

I'm going to keep my goals more project-based this year, for the most part. I am interested in stretching my sewing and fitting skills a bit, but I don't want to take on more than I can realistically handle.

In general, I want to be more thoughtful in my sewing this year (it seems like everyone has been saying that as a goal, doesn't it?) and also concentrate more on woven wardrobe staples and not just sew quick knit tops and dresses.

Here are the things that I want to accomplish:

Finish that damn winter coat.

I will finish it, and I will finish it while the weather still allows me to wear it. And then I'll have a nice, warm winter coat for next fall/winter, too. I finished inserting the lining at the facings/hem over the weekend. Currently, I'm trying to figure out the instructions for attaching the sleeve hem/sleeve lining hem. With the coat turned right-side-out, you're supposed to pull the sleeve and sleeve lining through the neck opening, anchor the armscye seam allowances together, and stitch the hems together. I couldn't wrap my head around how this would work. I'll google and see if I can figure it out, but if not, I'll just hand stitch everything like I've done in the past.

Bathroom mirror selfie verifying my coat's progress
 I'm really, really hoping to have the whole thing done in the next week or two.

Pattern stash goal: none

One thing that I learned about myself last year is that I really do enjoy picking up a pattern on a whim and diving right into it. Trying to deny the "Oooh, shiney!" nature of choosing my sewing projects sucks some of the fun out of it. In general, though, I am going to try to avoid jumping on bandwagons and buying a certain pattern just because it's the hot new indie pattern that everyone is sewing. I might do that, but only if I truly see myself sewing up and wearing the pattern.

Fabric stash goal: Shop my stash first, shop local for wovens, and quality over quantity

One thing that I learned this past year in semi-tracking my fabric purchases and comprehensively tracking my fabric usage is that knits, especially knit prints, don't stay in my stash for long. I probably have fewer than 10 cuts of better-than-muslin quality knit prints in my stash and another 10 of good quality solid knits. Wovens, on the other hand, are another story since I sew those a lot less frequently.

I really want to stop my impulse buying at FabricMart sales where a big box of 6 cuts of fabric arrives on my doorstep, and I sew 2 cuts right away, and the other 4 go into the stash for god knows how long. In fact, I have one those boxes sitting at my desk at work because I was embarrassed to have it sent to my house and didn't want to have to deal with the "More fabric?" from my husband. I am keeping this box at my desk as a reminder to myself to not order more fabric, unless it's for a specific project and fabric that I can't find locally. (We do have a pretty decent assortment of apparel fabric stores in Seattle.) I know that doing a total fabric fast is unrealistic for myself, but I do want to hold myself to shopping my stash first, then shopping locally, and then shopping online (where the real shopping danger for me lies) if I can't find the "right" fabric at home or locally.

I will continue to track my fabric usage, if only because I like seeing the yardage number go up throughout the year.

Sew a water-resistant jacket with a hood.

Here's that hold-over goal from last year. I still need this. Ideally, I'll sew two of these--one lightweight for spring/early fall, and another, heavier version for colder, rainy weather. Part of why I've stalled on this goal is that there really hasn't been hooded jacket pattern that's spoken to me. I want something with a hood and a zipper--something like the Sewaholic Minoru, but not drafted for the completely opposite figure type of mine and actually available in my size range without grading up. I also really like HotPatterns Mr. HP Hemingway Windcheater, but it's a mens' pattern--those details are perfect for Seattle. I am really tempted to at least muslin it and see how much of a stretch it would be to feminize the fit.

Jeans! Jeans! Jeans!

I've been wearing the same three pairs of RTW jeans for the past year and a half, and two of the pairs are looking pretty worn. I really want a go-to jeans pattern. I'm looking at muslining the StyleArc Sandra narrow leg jean and Closet Case Files Ginger jeans (the non-skinny version) and going with whichever one has the more promising muslin.

Fit and sew a button-down blouse.

A button-down blouse that fits without gaping is pretty much the unicorn of the uber-busty, isn't it? I really like the yoke and details of the Grainline Archer and have had the pattern forever, so that's probably what I'll go with. I'll need an FBA and will leave the bust dart in mine for shaping. There's also a McCall's pattern (with shoulder princess seams and cup sizes!) that's really similar to the Deer & Doe Bruyere shirt that I really want to make, so that's another candidate for this goal. Maybe I'll even use two button-down blouse patterns this year!

Watch and complete the relevant projects for at least two of my Craftsy classes.

I know that my Craftsy class stash isn't as bad as some people's, but I do have a handful of classes that I've paid for and never watched. In particular, I'd like to watch/take the two sloper classes (skirt and bodice) that I bought for $19.99 each when they were on sale a little while back.

Final thoughts

So that's it--seven goals for myself for the year, and nothing tying me to a specific pattern or anything like that, beyond finishing my winter coat.

With me planning to fit and sew more wovens this year, expect to see a lot more "muslin" and "in progress" posts from me. I'm sure that those bore some people, but I'm personally fascinated with the evolution of people's muslins to their finished garments, so I'll be posting mine. If you haven't figured it out, I tend to post the same types of posts that I enjoy reading on other blogs. Plus, I think that muslin posts are helpful for people who find your blog via googling a pattern that they're working on or planning to make--you learn that "Oh, she had that fitting issue, too?"

Happy 2015 sewing, everyone!

Friday, January 9, 2015

This Week in Patterns (9-Jan-2015)

I have a little bit of catch-up to do in this week's post. I skipped posting last week because I opted not to post last week, given the craziness of the holidays and wanting to spend my valuable free time sewing rather than blogging. BUT, I am including last week's new release (the StyleArc January release) in this post, in the interest of comprehensively covering what's been new since the 1st of the new year.

StyleArc - January Release

StyleArc released five new patterns at the beginning of this month, all of which look like they could have come from the same runway collection.

Fern Woven Top

This month's set freebie, the Fern Woven top features an on-trend asymmetrical crossover front. This one is cute...for someone else. There's nothing about this top that I feel would be a good idea on my own figure.

StyleArc Fern Woven top
Brooke Woven Skirt

I think that the Brooke Woven skirt is really cute. I also think that it's pretty similar to one of the views of the Tenterhook Snapdragon skirt, which I already own. 

StyleArc Brooke Skirt
Melinda Knit Tunic

The Melinda is cute enough and with its splicing, provides some options for design creativity. On the other hand, it's nothing earth-shattering. I'm kind of surprised that this wasn't the freebie for the month, given that StyleArc's freebies tend to usually be basics-with-a-twist that most women can comfortably wear.

StyleArc Melinda Tunic
Rita Ponte Skirt

And the Rita is a ponte pencil skirt with an elastic waist. I'm not sure how this differs from StyleArc's own Fay skirt, but it looks like just a slight difference in hem? Boy I sound crotchety here, but I'll openly admit that I'm pretty underwhelmed with this month's release from StyleArc.

Rita Ponte Skirt
Lani Woven Tunic

Okay, here's the one pattern that I actually like and think is interesting out of the group. The design lines are interesting and unlike some of the other patterns this release, it looks like the crossover happens at a safe enough point to not have to worry about flashing people. I would wear this--probably making it up in a solid color and doing contrast top-stitching.
StyleArc Lani tunic
 This month, in addition to offering the Fern Woven top free with every order, they're also allowing you to Buy 2, Get 1 Free, out of the January styles. Unfortunately for me (I guess?), but fortunately for my wallet, none of them really grab me or are my style. So, no, I'm not even tempted to take advantage of the special offer this month.

Colette Patterns - Seamwork Issue 2

Colette Patterns released Issue 02 of their new Seamwork magazine. This issue includes articles about hemstitching, working with bias drape, and working with doubleknits. There's also a guest column by Melissa Fehr (Fehr trade), one of my favorite sewing bloggers, about activewear fabrics. (Melissa's article is both interesting and well-written, BTW.)

I was uninspired by the basic cardigan and bag patterns for the first issue, but I think that the two included patterns (for subscribers) in Issue 02 are a little more promising--there's a leggings pattern and a pretty camisole. Neither of these will get me to subscribe, myself (I'm already quite happy with my Cake Espresso pattern for leggings), but at least they're more interesting than a clutch or a tote bag.

Colette Manila leggings

Colette Manila camisole

Sewaholic - Extended Size Range and two new patterns

If you've been avoiding Sewaholic patterns in the past because you're just a bit outside of their size range, Tasia made an exciting announcement the other day: Sewaholic will be adding sizes 18 and 20 to their new pattern releases going forward, which means that new patterns will go up to a 45"  (114cm) bust and a 51" (130cm) hip. Tasia even hopes to be able to go back and add the new sizes to some of their best-selling patterns. Now, as an uber-busty/thickened waist hourglass (I guess that makes me a rectangle?), I'm about as far from the Sewaholic body type as you can get, but I've long ogled the Minoru jacket (seriously, why don't more pattern makers do outerwear? Seattlites aren't the only people who need hoods!) and the Cambie dress, which I've always thought was super cute, I hope that both of those patterns make the new size cut. The new size range means that I can just do an FBA on these patterns and possibly add a bit to the waist, rather than having to grade up to even get the bust to my high bust size. Is anyone else excited about this?

Granville shirt

In addition to the expanded size range, Tasia also released her first new pattern to include sizes 18 & 20--the Granville shirt.

Sewaholic Granville shirt
This might seem like another boring basic, but IMO, this is exactly the type of basic that the fitting/niche pattern makers should include in their portfolios. This shirt appears to be less boxy than the super popular Grainline Archer, already has bust darts, and although I couldn't find a picture showing this anywhere, has princess seams in back, according to the pattern description. Coupled with the pocket options, this shirt really seems like the perfect button-down shirt design for a pear figure.  Hell, it even has a yoke and other classic shirt details--the type that too often seem to be left out of Big 4 button-down shirt patterns. I honestly can't think of another shirt pattern that combines both a yoke and princess seams in back.

With my big butt/swayback issues in back, I'm really tempted by this one. It's drafted for a B-cup (as are all Sewaholic patterns), but having that shoulder yoke gives more options for dart rotation so that my FBA doesn't create a completely unruly dart. This pattern looks like a really great basic that could be made again and again, making it worth its indie price.

Oakridge Blouse

The day after releasing the Granville shirt, Tasia released the Oakridge Blouse, a pretty, feminine blouse with the option of a pussy bow or a scooped neckline. I really like this as a pattern that can be dressed up or dressed down. Like the Granville, it has waist shaping so as not to be too boxy but promises a fit that isn't too tight, either.

Sewaholic Oakridge blouse
I'm less tempted by this one, only because I already own the somewhat similar HotPatterns version of this blouse, which is a closer draft for my figure. I do really like the collarless/bow-less view, too, for a casual, pretty blouse. I may need to use this pattern as inspiration and hack that detail onto an existing pattern of mine.

Simplicity - Early Spring 2015 Collection

Unlike the Butterick early spring release a few weeks ago, the Simplicity spring release is kind of "meh" in my opinion. There's nothing really terrible here, but there's also nothing really exciting. I don't know about you, but I prefer more highs and lows in my pattern collection releases. In any case, here are a few that whispered to me, even if they didn't outright call to me.

Simplicity 1197

I thought that this vintage dress and lined swing coat were quite cute. With its seaming and color blocking (as styled) the dress actually looks pretty current. In another fabric, the coat would look retro-inspired and not costumey, as well.

Simplicity 1197
Simplicity 1198

So, this pattern has a view that's reminiscent of a similar HotPatterns top that I made a while back, which was similar to a Burda pattern that many people made last year. There's also a view with a fairly modest lace cutout in back. I'm not daring enough to do the skin-showing cutouts that have been popping up, but I could maybe do a more toned-down version like this one. And if either of those views are not to your taste, the simple tunic with the assymmetrical hem is a shape that I've been seeing EVERYWHERE lately.
Simplicity 1198
Simplicity 1199

On a similar note, Simplicity 1199 has that crossover/tulip back that we've been seeing everywhere for the past few months, but has a built-in underlayer for those of us who don't want to risk showing skin or bra backs. There's panel seaming, too. Out of this collection, this is the pattern that I'd be most likely to make.
Simplicity 1199

Final Thoughts

Out of this bunch, the ones that I'm most likely to buy/make is Simplicity 1199. I'm fighting the urge on that Sewaholic Granville because "drafted for a B cup/pear figure". Maybe I should finally make up the Archer pattern instead and see if that satisfies my urge for a button-down shirt pattern? What do you think of the new Sewaholic patterns and their expanded size range? 

Monday, January 5, 2015

2014 Roundup: Hits and Misses

I know, I know...everyone has been posting their "top 5" hits and misses over the past few weeks. I'm sure that you're sick of reading these posts by now, but I also know that there's a certain rubbernecking pleasure to be taken at seeing what didn't work out for someone. I won't try to shoehorn this post into a "Top 5 Hits/Top 5 Misses" format, but for the curious who want to know about the longer term wearability of some of my projects, I'll run down what got worn a lot and what didn't quite work out this past year.

The Hits

Here are my "hits" for the year, in no particular order. No, I didn't whittle it down to 5, but these 6 garments/patterns jumped out at me right away as garments that I still wear a lot (seasonal considerations aside) many months later.

Honorable mention: That pattern that I tested back in November (scheduled to be released later this month) gets worn All. The. Time. lately. According to the designer, many of us had the same fit issues, and she's fixing them for the final release. I'm really looking forward to getting a copy of the final pattern and making that up. I'll do a comparison post when I do, if only because I think it will be interesting to compare the "draft" pattern to the released version.

StyleArc Olive Spliced Tee

Outside of the warmest months of summer, this top has been in regular rotation in my wardrobe ever since I made it. In fact, I'm wearing it right now as I type. It's both a comfortable and stylish top, and I like the turquoise color in the yoke/sleeves.

StyleArc Olive Spliced Tee
McCall's 6966

I love this skirt. The pain of cutting it out quickly faded, and when it's not so cold that I need leggings and boots, I reach for this one on a regular basis.

McCall's 6966 Maxi-skirt
HotPatterns Riviera Cote D'Azur Dress

Here's a dress that I've actually been wearing year-round since I made it. I feel like it "winterizes" better than some of my skirt/dress projects in that it doesn't look "off" when paired with leggings and boots. Sadly, the fabric is starting to pill and fade a bit, so I doubt that I'll have more than a few more months of wearing it, but I'll continue to wear the heck out of it until that time comes.

HotPatterns Cote D'Azur Dress
SBCC Tonic Tee

Remember when everyone was making the SBCC Tonic Tee? I made, like, 4 of them. Of those, this striped version is my favorite and the one that gets worn the most frequently. Unfortunately, the purple/Plantain knockoff suffered some pretty significant progressive shrinkage and is only used as a base layer these days. Even worse, the red version became the Red Shirt of Death (more on that below) and got thrown in the donation pile. So, of the 4 tops that I made, I still regularly wear 2 versions.
SBCC Tonic Tee
Colette Moneta

Like everyone else who sews, I made a couple of Moneta dresses last year. I still wear both, but the version of the polka dots is still my favorite and gets worn a bit more than my turquoise version. I still want to make a long sleeved version of this pattern for cooler weather.

Colette Moneta
HotPatterns Weekender Daytona Hoodie

I live in Seattle, work in tech, and have a 2.5-year-old. Don't tell me that you're shocked that my favorite pattern of the year happened to be a hoodie pattern with roomy pockets.  Counting the wearable muslin that I made for this that I wear far too often (but never blogged), I made this pattern three times. The version with the red print/white contrast sleeves is my favorite.

HotPatterns Weekender Daytona Hoodie

The Misses

Of course, not every project works out, right? Here's what I made and never or rarely got worn.

StyleArc Slip-on Suzie

This was supposed to be my easy faux wrap dress for the Curvy Sewing Collective wrapalong, and I rushed it and completely f'ed it up. This one is all on me. I'm holding onto it because I think I might like it if I lost 10-15 lbs, so this one will stay in the "magic dresser" a little longer.

StyleArc Slip-on Suzie
SBCC Tonic Tee #4 (aka the Red Shirt of Death)

This simple t-shirt was a comedy of errors, especially that I had successfully made this pattern three times before this version. First, the ITY knit was really, really thin. I wanted a red t-shirt, but this particular cheapo cut from FabricMart showed every lump and bump and vividly advertised when I was cold. Then, I managed to get some mystery stain/splotches on it (I blame the toddler), and no matter what sort of stain removing agent I used and how many times I washed it, I couldn't completely get rid of them. I'd resigned myself to using this t-shirt solely as a base layer at that point, when it ended up in the wash and turned my white hoodie pink. At that point, I finally banished it to the donation bin.

SBCC Tonic Tee - red version (*sad trombone sound*)
StyleArc Amber Top

Huh, a second StyleArc on this list. That surprises me a bit, considering that I've generally had good luck with their patterns, but a miss is a miss.

I just never felt like this top was particularly flattering on me. On top of that, the "good" piping that I used as a trim frayed terribly in the wash, even though I had carefully sewed it into the seam and hem allowances. No amount of Fray Check seemed to be able to fix the problem. I wound up wearing this three times before it ended up in the donation bin.

StyleArc Amber top
Lekala 4319

My first attempt at using a Lekala pattern (custom sizing!) produced one of the wadderiest wadders that I've ever created. There was just no saving this one. It looked awful on me, and was beyond salvaging. Interestingly enough, the versions sewn up on the Russian Lekala website, on much slimmer women than me, have a lot of the same issues. I'll chalk this up to being a lemon of a pattern. Unfortunately, it's made me a little hesitant to try other Lekala patterns, even though I know that a lot of people have had really good luck with the.

Lekala 4319

Final Thoughts

Four wadders on the year isn't too bad, although I suspect that if you strive for wadder-free sewing, it also means that you're probably not taking too many risks. In my text non-pattern release post, I'll talk a bit about how I did on my 2014 goals that I set last year and set some new goals for 2015.

BTW--I'm still working on that Simplicity Leanne Marshall coat, which unfortunately, I wasn't able to finish while I had a week and a half off from work. I do have the lining/interlining constructed, and I have the outer coat constructed except for setting in the sleeves. So next up, I set in the sleeves, insert the lining, attach the 2nd zipper half, and then do the collar/hood. The instructions for the lining take nearly an entire page of Simplicity's instructions, so I'm anticipating that process to be one that drags out way longer than it feels like it should.